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Gift Ideas for People with Diabetes.

What do you get for the person who has everything … except a working pancreas?  Here are six (until me) of my favorite d-related things:

  1. Medical alert jewelry.  Looking for medical alert jewelry that isn’t clunky or ugly? I’ve always loved this simple, classic bracelet from StickyJ Jewelry and have been wearing it daily for the last few years.  It’s comfortable and chic!
  2. Diabetes books.  This one is entirely self-serving, but if you’re looking for some diabetes reading, you can pick up a copy of my book, Balancing Diabetes, or check out any of these other titles that are diabetes-centric.  Nothing like curling up with a good, islet-inspired book.
  3. Jerry the Bear.  How about some diabetes that you can cuddle?  Check out Jerry the Bear, a stuffed animal designed to teach kids about diabetes through play.  (Read more about how my daughter bonding with Jerry here.)
  4. Donate.  You can make a difference for PWD by donating to your favorite diabetes organization or charity.  Help support Children with Diabetes and keep this amazing conference going, or give thanks through the Diabetes Hands Foundation thank you cards, or consider sparing a rose to help provide life for a child.
  5. Diabetes accessories.  Bring some festive flair to your diabetes devices with accessories from Tallygear or Myabetic.  These two shops blow the basic black meter case out of the water.
  6. Diabetes decals.  Dress up your meter, or pump, or Dexcom with some designs from PumpPeelz.  You can even design your own decal right on their website!

Happy shopping, and if you have a favorite diabetes product, service, or accessory you’d like to share, please feel free to do that in the comments section.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, from our turkeys to yours.  xo

Two and a Half.

To my son,

Good lord you are a cute little person.  You make me stupid with your cute. (And I don’t care if I’m biased. I should be biased; I’m your mother.) I love your tiny hands and little toes and kissable nose and the consistent mohawk that your hair enjoys becoming.  You started grinning back at us in the last few weeks and watching your face crack into a giant smile is my favorite, favorite thing.  All of those overused expressions like “he lights up a room!” were clearly first used to describe your smile.  (Let’s just ignore the fact that you’re only 12 weeks old.  Maybe you’re like Vigo the Carpathian, only the nice guy version?)

Twelve weeks, kiddo.  We’ve been swimming as a family in all your newness for twelve weeks.  Birdy has adjusted to you with excitement and vigor, wanting to give you bottles and hug you and kiss you all the time, even if you are crusty with spit-up.  “I don’t care, mom.  I just want to snuggle him.”  She’s been waiting for a little brother for a long time and now that you’re here, she’s beside herself with glee.  Her first grade teacher knows all about you.  So does the the bus driver.  And anyone we encounter at the grocery store.  Little man, your sister is a fan of yours.  Remember that, because by the time you read these letters, she might be battling you fiercely for rights to the bathroom.  Forgive her, sweet boy.  She’s always been your champion.

We love you, madly and permanently.  That’s a sentence with a full stop at the end.  Actually, I’m going to end that paragraph here.  We love you.

The lack of sleep is a separate issue, though.  Kiddo, for about ten weeks you were not the biggest fan of closing your eyes at night.  Instead, you preferred to burp and grunt and wiggle throughout the night, either wanting a pacifier or to nurse or to be held or to have looong and intense conversations about the recent political turmoil.  I was not okay with the whole routine, and despite showering and getting dressed every day, I was stupid with exhaustion.  I cried in the grocery store because I couldn’t find the counter where you purchase fresh fish.  I got lost trying to bring something into the basement.  My mind was powdered.  Only in the last two weeks have you started to grab four hour clips during the night, allowing your parents to finally surface from the bottoms of their coffee cups.  Thank you for deciding that nighttime was a good time to rest, because we were starting to crack up.

Cozy

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Breastfeeding is your only source of food at the moment, which I’m very proud of accomplishing because it’s not without significant effort.  (Are you reading these letters as a teenager?  Is it gross to talk about breastfeeding?  If you’re grossed out, skip this paragraph because this discussion is more for the sake of the diabetes stuff.  Trust me.  Come back in a paragraph.)  If I’m not feeding you myself, I’m pumping and trying to build up a stash of milk in the freezer for days when I’m traveling for work.  It’s important to me, for a few reasons, that I breastfeed exclusively as long as I can and I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.  Thankfully, the post-feeding or post-pumping blood sugars have become a little more predictable and I’m not tanking with hypoglycemia all day long.  Considering buying stock in Juicy Juice for a while, though.  And just as thankfully, you take a bottle and bounce back to breast without any issue at all, so that concept of nipple confusion isn’t a factor in our house.  (Yes, I said nipple.  NIPPLE.  I told you to stop reading this paragraph, love.) I’m glad you take bottles without issue, though, because it took you a fair amount of time to get back to your birth weight, and you are still a little on the petite side.

We’ve had a lot of questions about your “internet moniker,” and to be honest, your sister spent almost six months as BSparl before she became tagged as Birdy.  I don’t want to force a nickname on you, but Guy Smiley seems to be what we’re calling you these days.  Your smile is so sweet.  And maybe someday you’ll host a gameshow for Muppets.  Who knows!  The world is your weird, little oyster.

For now, you remain my littlest friend.  My last little friend.  And this month, you’ll take your first work trip with me and I’ll have a chance to introduce you to some of my friends in the diabetes community.  I’ll say, “This is my son,” and my heart will swell with pride when you burp your hellos.

I love you, sweet boy.  Always, always, always.

Love,
Mom

Muted.

Ahh bullet points.  Ye be the only(e) way I can process things at the moment.

  • I don’t have a lot to say over here lately, and there are a dozen different reasons for that.  One is that the new baby kiddo keeps me extremely busy, what with his cluster feeding and chatty ways, and also the fact that he is still not much of a nighttime sleeper, with his sleepless nights becoming my sleepless nights.  Which translates into not a lot of creative brain power during the daylight hours.
  • (But holy fuck am I creative at night.  I make up songs on the fly, can produce ounces of breastmilk without a second thought, and have taken to texting writing ideas to myself with one hand while hugging Guy Smiley with the other.  The problem is executing on these ideas once the sun rises, because it’s then that I fall apart.)
  • The baby is getting much bigger, though, and even though we’ve had some issues getting him to gain weight (not a problem now – more on that tomorrow or Friday), he’s thriving perfectly now.  He has also entered that super smiley/finally giving feedback stage, which I love.  The baby grins and gurgles are my favorite.  He sounds so much like his sister at this stage, and yet he’s so distinctly himself.  His smile lights up the room, even when he’s spitting up into my freshly washed hair.
  • My kids are my focus these days, which keeps my heart full but my blog kind of empty-ish.
  • I’m also reluctant to get political in public, mostly because the diabetes community is united by busted pancreases and political discussions have the potential to cut our crucial community in half, but the election did not go the way I had hoped and I have grave concerns about health insurance, safety, and social issues these days.  This is contributing to the maelstrom of thoughts in my head, and the CGM frowns on my desire for Tylenol.
  • The election circus also sort of sucked the wind out of my sails in terms of diabetes awareness month activities, as well.  I’m having a difficult time focusing on the diabetes community when the country as a whole seems to be imploding to a certain extent.  I wear my blue circle pin when I’m out and I gave a presentation at a local hospital system last night, but for the most part, I’ve felt quieter than normal these days.
  • And another reason for my silence is that diabetes isn’t fun to talk about lately.  Back when I first started blogging, I would share a lot of the minutiae because I’d never had the chance to get that sort of stuff off my chest before.  Talking about a rogue low blood sugar that hit while I was in the shower?  That story came out easily.  But all of those diabetes moments feel redundant lately.  Yes, I was low.  I was high.  I was frustrated.  I was burnt out.  I was empowered.  I made steps forward in some areas, backwards in others.  It isn’t interesting to me at the moment.  When I think about diabetes, it’s this hamster wheel of the same tasks and the same emotions earning similar outcomes.  I’m still living with this disease, still trying to manage it, still having good and bad days.  Documenting those moments isn’t coming as easily to me anymore.
  • Maybe it’s because of my increased desire to keep more things private, even in the health space.  I looked back at some of my past blogs and saw that I’d chronicled a lot more of my pregnancy with Birdy than I did with my son.  I definitely blame infertility and fear of losing another pregnancy for that silence, but even now that my son is out and safe, I’m still reluctant to share a whole bunch about him.  I have a monthly letter than I’ve been writing to him (there’s two done already and a third one is in my mental queue … maybe I’ll feel up to sharing that third one here sometime) but I like keeping those in his email account (password to be given to him when he’s older).
  • Maybe this privacy surge is a result of being older.  Or tired.  (Or maybe being tired is a result of being older.  See also: non-sleepy cute infant person)
  • I love the diabetes community – truly love it – and I remain a big fan of blogging,  but maybe long form blogging is starting to shift a little bit.  Lots of activity on Instagram and Twitter (never got into Snapchat – my luck, the cat would walk by and puke while I was recording a video or something), but the long and winding blog posts are harder to find these days.  Do they require more effort to read?  I keep seeing things on Medium marked as “long reads” that are also marked as “8 minutes” and that sends me into “get off my lawn” mode because is eight minutes really a long read?  Does that means all books are becoming pamphlets and Jodi Picoult will suddenly start writing her tomes in tiny tattoo form?
  • I think I’m a little tired, overall.  Tired of diabetes (post-pregnancy burnout in full swing, thank you very much) and tired from adjusting to the arrival, chaos, and joy of a newborn baby. (I think there’s some guilt half-baked into that, because I wanted my son so much that I feel a little guilty about some of the exhausted frustration I’ve felt.  I could not possibly love him more, and I simultaneously could not need a nap more.)

Things will settle down.  I’ll post here as time allows and as inspiration strikes.  Diabetes will always be here, right?  It’s okay to take a breather from talking incessantly about it.

90% of my day is this snuggly.

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

World Diabetes Day 2016.

It’s World Diabetes Day.  And how do I feel, after 30 years with type 1 diabetes under my belt (and above my belt and in every organ and all over my face)?

LUCKY.  Effing lucky.  Because according to the demands of my body, I should not be here, but because of science and access, I am alive.

I clicked on the Google homepage today and saw that, finally, after years of asking and hoping to see Google acknowledge the diabetes community through a Google doodle, our community was highlighted on the homepage.  There we were, represented in retro fashion, alerting the world that people with diabetes would be absolutely sunk without the contributions of Dr. Frederick Banting almost 100 years ago.

If I had been diagnosed before Banting and his crew changed the diabetes world, I would have died, my body starving to death as a result of not making insulin.  Insulin is crucial to my survival.  Seeing 90 days worth of insulin collected in my kitchen is pretty damn humbling.  What keeps me alive is stored next to the butter in my fridge, and that’s beyond humbling.

I do not take this life for granted.  

Today, on World Diabetes Day, more people are paying attention.  Even this whole month, with the focus on diabetes, people are tuning in and listening. We have their ear.  So grab them by that ear and remind them that diabetes month is November, and diabetes day is today, but diabetes is EVERY DAY for people touched by it.  We’ll still be stashing our butter compartments with insulin in December, and every December after that.

How can people help, way past today and this month?

I’m glad you asked.

People can donate to the International Diabetes Federation’s Life for a Child program.  They can also gear up for the Spare a Rose campaign, which takes place every February.  If your butter compartment is stashed with insulin, consider those who don’t have access and please help.  You can donate directly by clicking here.

They can also explore some of the diabetes advocacy organizations, like the JDRF or American Diabetes Association, or some of the more grassroots groups like Children with Diabetes, the Diabetes Hands Foundation, Riding on Insulinthe Betes Organization, Nightscout Foundation, Diabetes SistersDPACConnecT1D, the Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation, DOColors, or Glu.  Or any of the other ones I haven’t listed, because there are many.

Participate in the Big Blue Test, or the World Diabetes Day 24 hour chat (#WDDchat16).  Or share their stories through the JDRF, ADA, or IDF campaigns.  You can do that RIGHT THIS SECOND.

If healthcare professionals are checking in on this post, please consider recommending the diabetes online community as a resource for your patients.  AADE President Hope Warshaw has created a one-sheet to help HCPs jump into the space, and there’s always the #DSMA chats that take place on Wednesday nights at 9 pm eastern.  Peer-to-peer connections can make all the difference for your patience.  Please encourage exploring the DOC as an option for your patients.

And give.  Give financially to organizations that lift the message you want lifted.  Give your time to efforts that improve the diabetes experience.  Give your story life outside of the diabetes bubble and give the gift of education and information to people who aren’t familiar with diabetes.

Happy World Diabetes Day, you guys.  Continue to educate, to change the game, to disrupt, to make a difference.  Continue being you, making crummy use of insulin but making an enormous difference for people with diabetes.  <3

 

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