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Posts from the ‘Diabetes and Emotions’ Category

Tallygear Giveaway! Exclamation Point!

Tallygear is awesome, and I’ve been a big fan for many years.  After switching over to the Dexcom G4 continuous glucose monitor, I was so happy to see that Donna at Tallygear had created a case to protect the G4 (and have been using it daily since).  And now she’s up and running with a lot of new cases for the Dexcom G4 unit, as well as some other colorful ways to dress up the otherwise drab world of diabetes devices.

Check out some of her new designs!

Donna was kind enough to send some samples to me, and I’d like to turn that favor around to you guys.  But there’s a catch.  I have three Tallygear “gift packs” (in quotation marks because there are things from Tallygear that I’m including, but I’m sending the packages myself, so there will be some additional surprises to be determined by how much cat hair I can collect from Loopy and Siah … just kidding … sort of …) to give away, but I want to couple this up with the recent, and important, discussions about diabetes stigma.

To win one the Tallygear giveaways, you’ll need to leave a comment here on this blog post or Tweet about this giveaway (see the Rafflecopter widget below), but not in the “promote me!” sort of way.  Instead, I want you to answer this question:

“How will you help change the perception of diabetes today?  #dstigma“ 

As a community, we can help change the face of diabetes, one moment at a time.  Dealing with diabetes-related stigma isn’t something that can be “fixed” overnight, but every time we make diabetes visible in an accurate, educated way, we’re taking a bite out of stigma.  Kind of like McGruff the Crime Dog.  So let’s keep talking.

You can follow Donna from Tallygear on Twitter @Tallygear and on Facebook.  The official Tallygear website, with a complete product listing and a catalog of colors to choose from, is at Tallygear.com.  If you’re one of the winners, I’ll contact you for your mailing address (so be sure to leave a valid email).

And thanks for playing along.  I’m excited to see the discussions that have cropped up about diabetes stigma, and I hope to contribute to them.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The One About Broken Windows.

Tackling diabetes, one window at a time.

(See also:  caulk)

(And the second part of the CGM in the Cloud write-up will be up on Monday. A long night with a cranky Bird didn’t make for any decent writing. Thanks for your patience!)

Friends for Life: Madcap Recap.

A bulleted list because that’s what bloggers do.

  • My personal schedule had me running around like a chicken with its head (and pancreas?) cut off, and while I felt really lucky to be so busy, I didn’t have enough quality time with people I love.  It’s a nice problem to have, but it was frustrating because now that I’m home, I wish there had been long coffee chats with so many different people.
  • Coffee tastes best out of my new favorite mug –>
  • One of my favorite moments was during the Parenting with Type 1 Diabetes session, when Marissa Town and Melissa Lee started singing the Dexcom “ATTENTIVE” low alarm song, complete with facial grimaces and in perfect harmony.
  • It’s weird how therapeutic it can be to cry in a room full of “strangers.”
  • Even odder still is putting the word “strangers” into quotation marks because anyone living with diabetes has intimate knowledge of moments in my life that even my closest family members can’t quite wrap their head around.
  • It was so nice to meet the team from Kedz Covers, and yet so odd to meet them in Florida, seeing as how they live here in Rhode Island.  Only in the diabetes community do you meet your actual neighbors at a conference 1300 miles from home.
  • (And yes, that’s the “Don’t Mess with Rhode Island, Either” t-shirt, but I negated its awesome message by wearing my bag cross-body style, covering the little Rhody and making it look like I’m on the welcoming committee for Texas.  Whoops.)
  • The “Reducing Social Stigma from Diabetes: A Patient Perspective” session with Richard Wood, Kelly Close, and Adam Brown was one that I wish I had been able to attend, because the stigma related to (and nestled around) diabetes of all kinds is a topic that is very top-of-mind for me.  I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing more about this survey and have been stalking the #dstigma hashtag for feedback.
  • Watching Melissa pass the diaversary torch (so to speak) to Briley in the bar at midnight was a moment that made me laugh, but also gave me goosebumps because marking a diaversary can be intense, but doing it a room full of people who love you is fucking empowering.
  • It was an absolute honor (and wicked fun!) to partner with Dexcom last week, sharing stories and giving away copies of Balancing Diabetes. A huge thank you to Dexcom for their support, and also to the diabetes community for stopping by to say hello at the booth.
  • And thanks to Scott for lending me a pen to use at the book signings, which just so happened to be a pen from George’s office, making me feel like a little bit of George was at Friends for Life, too.  Full circle, there.
  • I loved being part of a session for parents of children with diabetes aiming to answer the questions they might not be asking their own kids, and it was an honor to partner with Adam Brown (of Close Concerns) for this session.  The discussions were intense, but productive, and for anyone in attendance who didn’t end up watching The LEGO Movie that night, here’s a link to what the hell I was talking about.
  • I learned that Scott, aka “Pockets,” keeps an army of diabetes (and non-diabetes related) supplies in his pocket.  The man is half kangaroo.
  • (Happy belated birthday, Pettus!)
  • After Friends for Life was over, Chris and Birdzone flew down to Florida to meet me and we spent a few days at Disney.  Getting ready to head out to the park the next morning, Chris asked why I still had my conference bracelet on.  “I like it,” was my response, because it’s hard to articulate what the green bracelet really means to me, or how the orange bracelets keep me going.
  • I still have my green bracelet on.  We walked through the Magic Kingdom and I found myself glancing at wrists around the park to see if anyone from the conference was there.  I didn’t see any green bracelets.  But I kept mine on in case someone was looking, too.
  • I still have it on now, only I don’t think the cats give a shit.
  • (Total sidebar:  It was Loopy‘s birthday two days ago, and Birdy and I will be making her a “cake,” which equals out to Birdy wanting to eat cake and this is her excuse.)
  • Attending Friends for Life is a place where I can wear my emotions on my sleeve and my pump on my hip.  It’s somewhere I can feel safe admitting the things that weigh heavily on my mind but also celebrate something as simple as a 100 mg/dL on my glucose meter.  And nothing reminded me of this more than when I was walking towards my next session and I saw Briley outside of it, tears streaming down her face.  “I just had my eyes checked.  And they’re totally fine!!  After twenty-five years, they are still fine.”  I couldn’t hug her fast enough, or hard enough, because that’s what you do.  You celebrate the things others would never think to celebrate, and you appreciate the people who understand.

 

Ante Up.

During one of the discussion groups at Friends for Life, one of the attendees took a look at their Dexcom, gave it an exasperated sigh, and threw it into the middle of the room in frustration.

“I don’t want it near me.”

There was a brief pause.

“Ante up,” someone quietly said, their own Dexcom case hitting the floor alongside the first.

And within a matter of seconds, a diverse pile of diabetes devices met in the middle of the floor in solidarity.

This is Friends for Life.

Sparkly, Like Her Shoes.

As a family, we went to dinner and Birdy’s sequin-covered shoes sparkled furiously in the afternoon sunlight.  Her shoes were downright distracting and I found myself low-staring at them, focusing on the individual sparkles being projected onto the tablecloth at the restaurant.  My brain had hit an uncomfortably steady pace with the anxiety of being under 60 mg/dL for more than two hours, adjusting to the panic but still needing an outlet.  Staring at the glitter on my daughter’s shoes calmed my brain down just enough.

We ordered and ate, and a meal plated with carbs and less-than-normal bolusing still didn’t battle back against the low alarm from my Dexcom.  I felt like a failure, asking Chris to grab a glass of juice from the waitress as my empty dinner plate sat in front of me.

“I’m still low.”  I tested my blood sugar again, hoping to see a number that didn’t require more glucose tabs, hoping the Dexcom was wrong, but a bright 43 mg/dL grinned back at me.  I knew the food would hit but not fast enough.  “Yeah, I need juice now.”

In a quiet hurry, I heard the background noise of hypo management done from a distance.  “I need a glass of juice.”  “Would you like lemonade?”  “No, juice.  Do you have orange juice?”  “We have apple juice.”  “That, then.  Please.”  Chris sat back down at the table while Birdy bounced and played beside me, her shoes throwing sparkles onto the table that were spreading out everywhere, my eyes starting to cave to the low blood sugar.  Peripheral vision was being replaced by these starbursts that were sparkly, like her shoes.  I felt my body pulling in tight and rallying glucose, sending it to the places that were necessary and not caring that I couldn’t hold a fork or keep my mouth from twisting into a resting bitch face/uncomfortable grimace.

Dinner tumbled into a pile of apologies and distractions because I couldn’t get my wits about me, and even once my blood sugar was stable (back up to 72 mg/dL), it still wasn’t staying up, and tumbled again a few more times before bed.

It doesn’t look like much, from the outside.  It’s hard to explain how silent the panic is, how evacuated my brain feels when the hypos hit and stay for too long.  I don’t know how to show someone a Dexcom graph that looks like this and explain how it’s not just the blood sugar number, but the cumulative effect on my body – the exhaustion in my muscles from being clenched in fight-or-flight mode, the sleep my brain needs after a five hour low blood sugar experience, my inability to find the words for what I want to say because my mind is just like, “We’re DONE.”

I woke up with a blood sugar of 230 mg/dL this morning, the product of answering low alarms with frustration and marshmallows, and I corrected the number with the predetermined, carefully calculated amount of insulin.  And I hoped that, for today, diabetes would leave the sparkles on my daughter’s shoes.

I’m That Type.

Last night closed out a long week+ of travel, and it closed out with style at the JDRF TypeOneNation Texas event, where I was honored to be a presenter at the conference (talking about balancing diabetesHEY-O! – and getting the most out of your medical appointments).  More on those sessions once I dive into this basin of coffee, but I did want to share one of my favorite visuals from the conference:  this board –>

This was a board where people could write who they were at the conference in support of, and they could share their thoughts on the theme of the conference, which was “I’m the ______ type.”  Fill-in-the-blank sorts of things used to remind me of school, but now they remind me of some of my favorite #dsma chat nights, so watching this board fill up was eye-opening.

Perspectives (and hand writing) varied, but common threads were support and determination.

Mine was, “I’m the never let it define me type.”  But I could have filled that little blue circle out a dozen times with a dozen different answers.  What type are you?

 

 

Walking with Friends.

I think it’s safe to say that the threat of snow is behind us.  (If not, this cat is going to be pissed.)  And now that the weather is improved and exercising outside can be A Thing, I’ve taken to long, fast-paced walks around my neighborhood in the late afternoon, spending about 45 minutes each night clearing my head and lowering my blood sugar.

“Bye, Birdy.  I’ll be back in about an hour.  I love you,” I say to my daughter, kissing her on the head as I put my headphones in my ears.  “Are you sure you don’t mind if I leave?” I ask Chris, and he always says, “Of course not.”  But still, I feel like a crumb because I’m headed out by myself, leaving my family at home.  I’m removing myself from “family time.”  It feels like I’m ditching them.  (And I want to write that last part in a teeny, tiny font because it feels crappy to admit it.)


But it’s not like Birdy cries when I leave.  (To be honest, she barely gives me the time of day when I leave, especially if she’s eating dinner or watching TV.)  And it’s not like Chris can’t, or doesn’t want, to spend time with our kid.  The guilt I feel isn’t handed out by my family, but instead it’s something I apply to myself, rubbing it on thick and heavy, like sunscreen.

I go because I know exercise is important not only for my physical body, but to help calm the circus that’s constantly performing in my mind.

When I run, I like to listen to music that my feet can keep pace with (this is my favorite running playlist at the moment), but for walking, I like to listen to podcasts.  And lately, I’ve been spending my nighttime walks with the DSMA Live team (Scott, George, and Cherise, and occasionally Lorraine and Bennet).

Last night, I was listening to the most recent episode of DSMA Live, where the three co-hosts were chatting with one another (no scheduled guest), and the topic of conversation turned to self-care.  George, Scott, and Cherise were talking about the tangled web of diabetes life in balance with non-diabetes life stuff, and how it can be a challenge to make sure your own oxygen mask is on first, so to speak.

I loved hearing this concept explored, out loud.  Self-care is necessary for a healthy run with diabetes, but sometimes self-care is unfairly reassigned as “selfish.”  I feel guilty about taking time to go to the gym or go for a walk or run, but I shouldn’t.  I know I shouldn’t.  I can’t take good care of my family if my own health is compromised.  Self-care feels selfish when I’m leaving my family at home so I can go exercise, but I need to shake that sentiment off in pursuit of better.

In the chapter on Diabetes and Parenting in Balancing Diabetes, Melissa Baland Lee said this:

“I hope my child learns about self-care,” offered Melissa.  “My husband and I are from families where self-care was never modeled for us.  We saw a lot of self-neglect at the expense of caring for others.  Caring for yourself was considered selfish, but I hope that my generation of mothers is teaching their children that we care best for others when we meet our own needs, too.  I want my children to watch me count my carbs and go to the doctor and meet others with my condition.  I want them to know that we don’t hide in the dark with our worries or our obstacles.  We take care of ourselves so that we can live life to the fullest.”

Her words stuck in my head for months and resurfaced again when I was listening to the podcast as I took my walk.  It was easier to push any guilt away, knowing I wasn’t the only parent or PWD who struggled with self-care.

“Self-care isn’t selfish,” is something I thought about with each step, listening to my friends chatting in my ear while I walked, knowing my actions were rooted in the desire to become a healthy old lady who refused to give in to diabetes.

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