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Posts from the ‘Guest Diabetes Blogger’ Category

Guest Post: Giving Birth to Violet as a Woman with Type 1 Diabetes (Part 2)

Today is part two of Ginger’s guest blog about the birth of her second little bird (part 1 is here). While this post takes a bit of a dangerous turn, things did work out okay!  (And if you’re a woman with type 1 diabetes who has had babies, is curious about having babies, or wants to read about other people and their babies, check out Ginger’s latest book, Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes!)

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[Note from Kerri:  This story picks up where yesterday left off, with Ginger just home from the hospital with her newborn.]

… but then…when Violet was 6 days old, I woke up from an afternoon nap to a huge gush of blood rushing from my body and onto my brand new iKea striped duvet cover. (It was only $30 but I adore this duvet!)

“Roger!” I hollered to my husband, “I’m bleeding, we gotta get this duvet in the wash ASAP so it doesn’t stain!”

While he took the precious duvet to the laundry room, I went to the bathroom to clean up the blood only to find that I was still bleeding. Seriously bleeding.

I couldn’t move off the toilet without blood pour out of me and onto the floor. Meanwhile my husband was on the other side of the house with the assumption that the gush of blood was a one-time thing and very busy trying to save my precious iKea bedding.

I jumped into the shower thinking maybe I just needed to wash off thoroughly and let the blood finish…but the blood didn’t stop. It continued to pour from me.

“ROGER!!!”

It didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t going to resolve itself at home. Fortunately, our teenage babysitter Mikayla was home and came over within minutes of calling to stay with Lucy.

After filling my sweatpants with wads of paper-towel to contain the bleeding, Roger, Violet and I rushed to the Emergency room that was just 10 miles away at a smaller nearby hospital than where Violet was born.

Between home and this hospital just minutes away, the blood had fill my pants.

I was able to get a good meal of breastmilk into Violet’s belly before I was given anesthesia and taken to the operating room to see what was causing the bleeding. I didn’t know whether I was going to wake up from this operation having had an emergency hysterectomy or something less severe.

When I did wake up from surgery, already back in my room, I suddenly burst into tears.

“Why are you crying?” the doctor asked me.

“I’m just so glad I didn’t have to be cut open again!” I blubbered.

Instead they performed a simple D&C (dilation and curettage).

Apparently, my uterus had stopped properly contracting postpartum to manage healing and bleeding, and the area where the placenta had once been attached looked like a giant open wound. It wasn’t healing properly either so every blood vessel was just gushing with blood.

My uterus was also apparently filled with grape-sized clots of blood. (Why it started nearly 6 days postpartum instead of during my initial hospital stay, nobody knows.)

I’d lost about 3.5 grams of blood in that short span of time between naptime and the hospital. Another gram and I would’ve likely needed a blood transfusion. (I credit this to our awesome babysitter who came over so quickly when we called!)

Of course, I can’t prove that this was related to my feeling during the last few weeks of pregnancy that something was wrong, but for me, it was enough evidence that my uterus has probably had enough of this baby-making adventure.

Today, as I type this, Violet is about 2 months old. She still sleeps 18 to 20 hours a day (which is actually a very recent reduction from her 20 to 22 hours a day). She’s a very good eater and I’ve managed to avoid many breastfeeding-induced lows by keeping my background insulin dose about 1-unit lower than it probably would be otherwise, and taking my normal doses for meals.

Lucy doesn’t mind Violet’s high-pitched screams during the first few miles of any car-ride, and continues to tell us the baby is cute. The juggling act of two little girls’ needs would make for a good reality show: this morning Lucy pooped on the floor (because she’s potty training)…while Violet was desperately pleading for another meal on the boob…while I was making myself breakfast with the hope of getting us all out the door by 9 a.m. to make a mess at the children’s art studio in town. Don’t worry, I’d already had my cup of coffee!

(It goes without saying that my A1C has definitely popped up from 5.8 to 6.5 percent in these first 8 weeks of Violet’s life!)

Amidst the chaos, we are mostly just grateful, because type 1 diabetes has lost again at its attempt to interfere with real life. This body that can’t even produce a few drips of insulin has now produced two gorgeous little baby girls who are as healthy as any mama could wish for.

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Thank you so much, Ginger, for sharing your daughter’s story here.  Congratulations, from one T1D mama to the other!  <3

Guest Post: Giving Birth to Violet as a Woman with Type 1 Diabetes (Part 1)

Stories about moms with type 1 diabetes having babies warm my heart completely, mostly because they remind me of my kids’ birthdays but also because pregnancy and diabetes is hard work and deserves an extra WHOO HOOOO! at the end.  Today, fellow writer and T1D mama Ginger Vieira is borrowing SixUntilMe to share the story of the birth of her second child. Take it away, Ginger!

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“This time it will be simple.”

That’s what my husband and I had said to each other several times as the due date of our 2nd child was just a few weeks away. It’s not as if the birth of our 1st child, Lucy, was remarkably complicated–I felt pretty great during the last month of that pregnancy and had no swelling or other complications–but I did spend 4 days in the hospital prior to her actually evacuating the ol’ womb because our attempt at an induction totally failed. (Basically, my body was like, “Whatever. I really don’t feel like going into labor…deal with it.”)

This time was very different.

At 35 weeks, I started gaining 1 to 1.5 pounds of fluid per day. Swelling up like a water balloon just between my knees to the tip of my toes. But my blood pressure continued to stay well within the range of normal and even below 120/80 bpm, so the doctors continued to insist that I’d have a cesarean at 39 weeks and no sooner. My A1C was at 5.8 percent, and everything they could measure in a blood-draw came back fine, too.

And baby girl looked consistently healthy and comfortable. In fact, throughout the entire pregnancy, she and I had both been doing great except for super-crazy vomit-inducing over-production of stomach acid which I’d been treating since 3 months pregnant with as much antacid as my body was allowed. Otherwise, until this last month, the pregnancy had been anything but traditionally tedious and tiring.

By 36 weeks my energy was shifting dramatically between feeling like I could make it through the day and then suddenly feeling as though all I could do was lie on the floor like a pancake, trying not to cry (or sometimes crying) while also needing to chase and entertain my toddler.

By 37 weeks, I had gained nearly 15 pounds of pure fluid all within the prior 2 weeks. Everyone, including the nurses at my appointments, gasped in horror when they saw my feet. My swelling wasn’t a concern because it wasn’t in my face or hands and my blood sugar was still very normal. Personally, I think I would’ve been in severe pre-eclampsia had they made me wait another week. Meanwhile, walking through the grocery store wasn’t just uncomfortable–it was excruciatingly painful and my feet would be twice the size by the time I got back in my car.

Despite my lack of diagnosable symptoms, I felt very strongly that something was wrong. I can’t tell you what it was exactly, but like anyone with one or several chronic illness understands, there are things you can feel and know about your body when you’ve had to micromanage something as complicated as type 1 diabetes and fibromyalgia for several decades.

I felt like my body had met its personal limit of physical stress, and it was breaking down. The idea of trying to make it to 39 weeks had me bursting into tears when my husband came home from work after trying to hold them back throughout the day. You can call me a wimp and say it’s all just 3rd-trimester normal pregnancy exhaustion, but my body was struggling in ways no one could seem to measure.

I finally emailed Dr. Jones (who is now someone I might as well consider my hero!) and asked him if he and the OBGYN team would please consider a c-section at 38 weeks.

Fortunately, Dr. Jones strongly believes in “individualized care.” He was able to convince 3 out of the 6 members of this OBGYN high-risk team to support an early c-section at 38 weeks but only if baby’s lungs proved to be fully developed through an amniocentesis.

The other 3 doctors were firmly against an early c-section because on paper, I was still healthy. One doctor did acknowledge to me that I could’ve very well been in the early stages of pre-eclampsia, but again, my blood pressure was normal so it didn’t matter yet.

At 38 weeks, we arrived for the amniocentesis, nervous but hopeful. The procedure was extremely fast and simple. Dr. Jones inserted a very thin needle into my belly while watching its direction on an ultrasound screen and pulled out a small amount of fluid from my uterus. This fluid is then tested for something (honestly, I can’t remember right now) that indicates the maturity of the baby’s lungs.

Fortunately, baby’s lungs passed the test with flying colors.

My husband and I were both relieved–he saw firsthand the days where I could barely function in those prior 2 weeks.

Within 3 hours we were in the operating room being prepped for a c-section. And this part was a much better experience than my first c-section. By the time they did the c-section with Lucy, I had been on an IV drip of pitocin for nearly 4 days, extremely sleep-deprived, and having only eaten 1 real meal (because they prefer you don’t eat while you’re being induced). During Lucy’s birth I was very pale and weak, my teeth were chattering violently as a side-effect of the epidural, and I was a tired, occasionally incoherent mess during the few hours after she was born. However, not eating for 4 days did make it incredibly easy to keep my blood sugar at 90 mg/dL that week, which meant Lucy’s blood sugar after birth was perfect.

This time, during this c-section, my face was full of its normally rosey color, and I didn’t experience any uncomfortable side-effects from the epidural. I was lucid and bright-eyed and very ready. My blood sugars had been extremely steady in “non-diabetic range” all week with an extra dose of obsession that comes with the final weeks of pregnancy. The only blip was that about an hour before we went into for the c-section, I was worried my blood sugar was dropping so I drank about 2 oz of apple juice which unfortunately had my blood sugar up around 140 mg/dL during the actual c-section.

Everyone on our team was great: the nurses, the doctors, the extremely friendly anesthesiologist named Gabe (Dr. Gabe) who chatted with me throughout the entire operation, answered my random questions and laughed at my jokes while my husband held my hand and watched them carefully cut me open to bring this little creature out into the world.

And then she was born.

Violet Isabella.

We had been telling Lucy about this baby–Baby Violet– for weeks prior to her arrival but, like Lucy, we actually didn’t know anything about her besides her name.

And here she is.

“Well, hi,” I said quietly.

Meeting your 2nd child is different than meeting the first, at least it was for me. I felt so much calmer and certain. I knew how overwhelming the moment would be having met a life I’d been growing inside my own body before that it almost felt like a normal daily experience: Here, this is the baby you’ve been loving for the past 9 months that you’ve never seen before and that you actually know nothing about.

Baby Violet. You look like a tiny little peanut at 8 lbs. 5 oz. (Not “tiny” at all but yet….so damn tiny!)

Due to that unfortunate 140 mg/dL right before the c-section, her blood sugar was actually very low, around 27 mg/dL within the hour after her birth. Fortunately it came up quickly after one nursing session because my body might be lousy at producing insulin but it rocks at producing colostrum and breastmilk. So she was fine. Everything about her, in fact, was fine.

We spent the next 5 days snuggling and cooing and nursing. She slept about 23.5 hours a day. Her big sister thought she was adorable (and surprisingly still does, more than 2 months later). My long-acting insulin dose was down to 4 or 5 units a day (my non-pregnant dose is 11 units), and my blood sugars were mostly very manageable because I was taking so little insulin.

Speaking of insulin, I’m very grateful that Dr. Jones put a note in my chart that instructed the nurses and doctors to let me decide all of my own insulin doses postpartum. This special note was the result of telling him that during my postpartum experience with Lucy, I had to sneak insulin injections in the bathroom because the doctors wouldn’t give me enough insulin! Everyone followed Dr. Jones’ note effortlessly and this made our hospital stay particularly less stressful and far more enjoyable than our stay after Lucy was born.

(I should also add that the nurse, Barbara, who was with us almost every day, was amazing and so supportive.)

There was one day where I really over-did it with physical activity walking around the hospital trying to “pass gas” so I could given permission to go home and entertaining Lucy when she came to visit us, that by that evening I could barely move I was in so much pain. (I’d also had a severe allergic reaction to the chemicals in the hospital bedsheets and scratched myself so severely in my sleep that it looked like I’d been mauled by a very cute kitten.) So we stayed 5 days instead of 3 or 4, and finally went home feeling mostly great …

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Tomorrow, come back for Part 2 of Ginger’s birth story, where things take a wild turn (but end up ok … don’t worry!).  Thanks for sharing the story of Ms. Violet with us, Ginger!  See you tomorrow!

Ginger Vieira has lived with Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease since 1999, and fibromyalgia since 2014. She is the author of Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes & Dealing with Diabetes Burnout & Emotional Eating with Diabetes & Your Diabetes Science Experiment. Ginger is a freelance writer and Editor Emeritus at DiabetesDaily, with a B.S. in Professional Writing and certifications in cognitive coaching, video blogging, record-setting competitive powerlifting, personal training, Ashtanga yoga, and motivational speaking.

Guest Post: A Note to My Newly-Diagnosed Self

Today, thanks to a very generous reader named Cathy Fisher, I’m able to host a guest post about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as an adult in the form of a letter from Cathy, to her newly-diagnosed self. 

Cathy was diagnosed November of 2003 at age 18, in her first semester of college. At the time, she was the first diabetic she knew. She has spent the 13 years since her diagnosis writing about diabetes. Cathy is also an entrepreneur and avid traveler, and I’m honored to share her words today.

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Dear Self,

You were diagnosed 13 years ago, during your first semester in college. You had just turned 18. You passed out in the dining hall at breakfast, in DKA. Do you remember waking in the emergency room, doctors hovering above you, blurred images like scenes from a movie? The thirst. The phone call to Dad, all terror. The CD mix from Lauren, “Get Well Soon.” Your first episode of Saturday Night Live from a hospital bed.

You struggle(d). And you’ve learned/are learning. There’s so much I wish you had known from the beginning, and so much to keep in mind still. Here is what I can put into words:

There’s knowledge. You’ll wake in a hospital bed with a new identity to own – “Type 1.” There’ll be so much to learn. How to fill a syringe, the difference between bolus and basal, what the heck a carbohydrate is and how to count it (please learn this one ASAP, it will serve you well). Etc. Etc. Etc. These are all tools. Seek and use them.

Seek wisdom. Book knowledge is only part of the story. Your body will teach you its own truth, a sort of wisdom that doctors can’t teach. Be present for what your body has to say – how different foods make you feel, or how to sense an oncoming low. How to recharge emotionally. Be receptive to your body and mind’s own insights. They can be more important than what you can get from a pamphlet or Google.

Respect your body. Use your body in every way that you can … seek adventure, explore, and do what you love. Go backpacking in Peru, dancing with friends, running by the ocean, for a sunset glass of wine with Pete. Pull an all-nighter, be a student of yoga, try new foods, get lost walking through a city. Catchphrase: with respect. Cathy, it will take you years to learn this, but not all limits need to be pushed. Remember that time you partied on a Friday, ran a half marathon on Saturday and went skydiving on Sunday? That was probably too much. Treat your body with tenderness. Can you find the place where adventure, challenge and harmony meet?

Love yourself. Love your beautiful brilliant diabetic self. You have always been enough. The day you were born with a perfect pancreas. The day your pancreas began to fall apart. That time you “cheated” (could we call it “excursioned”?) over tiramisu in a hostel in Puerto Montt. You are inherently wonderfully made.

Own it. Diabetes contraptions and all. Rock your glucose sensor anywhere that works for you. Clip your pump to your bathing suit bottom, give yourself injections on the subway as needed, and understand that your diabetes paraphernalia can be a sexy thing. And if you ever get weird looks, never underestimate the power of Sass (No, this is not an iPod clipped onto to my hip and INSERTED IN MY SKIN) and teaching opportunities (It’s for diabetes – want to see how this works?).

Make love, not war. Sass can be an ally, but keep your feistiness in check. Don’t take feelings out on diabetes! There are days to hate it, and I hope most days you can accept it. Try to make friends with it sooner rather than later.

Humor helps. Sometimes, all you can do is say “Oh shit,” shrug and move on.

Yes, you can. You have never let anyone tell you that you can’t. You go, girl. Keep it that way. Because yes, you truly can. You can do what you dream of, with or without diabetes. Be a person you are proud of, explore, reach for what’s important to you, set goals and reach them, make mistakes, learn, love and be loved. There is a part of you that is diabetes neutral. Listen when it tells you: yes, you can.

Inspire yourself. Look for inspiration everywhere. Truffaut, Zadie Smith, paper journals, Tokyo, a place called Cherokee, yoga, learning, travel, dawn, morning coffee, the ocean, solitude, people. Diabetes can be heavy, so fill yourself with what inspires and nourishes. And when you do this, can you see the world through a lens of wonder?

Seek community. And lean on it. Friends and family, near and far. The diabetes community, online and in person. Support groups. Your doctor, nutritionist, diabetes educator, psychologist. Putting yourself “out there” can create the most unexpected and meaningful connections.

Perspective. This will be your greatest tool. Your diagnosis was crushing. You felt profound grief for the first time. But you’ll find moments of perspective. When you do, hold onto them, they will humble you. The question will shift from “Why me?” to “Why not me?”. This will feel so good.

Rock on,
Cathy

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Thank you for this amazing, introspective letter, Cathy.  Hopefully you’ll inspire others to pen one of their own … working on mine now.  

Guest Post: Peer Support, and Mending a Broken Heart.

Anna Floreen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six, and she lives in the Boston area with her husband and their adorable puppy dog.  She’s currently working as the Community Outreach Manager for Glu and travels the country speaking at diabetes-related events.  A champion for diabetes camps and peer-to-peer support, Anna works tireless to build up the diabetes community.  Today, she’s sharing part of a very difficult experience that she went through a few weeks ago, involving the end of a pregnancy dream, the power of peer support, and the slow, steady process of rebuilding.

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Friends are great. Girlfriends are that, “What do you need / what are you craving” after a shitty break up who show up with ice cream and your favorite chick flick. But diabetes friends are speechless – not because they don’t say anything, but because they get it. I realize now more than ever, that those friends who have the “unspoken understanding” of diabetes matter the most to me, at least, right now anyway.

My husband and I lost a very much wanted baby girl five weeks ago – exactly at the half way point of my pregnancy. The loss was nothing diabetes-related whatsoever. It was an insanely rare congenital heart defect in which we did nothing to cause. (Trust me, the guilt of diabetes was most certainly number 1 on my brain cells for quite some time).  It wasn’t however, my parents or best friend that I turned to first to share my horrible, no good, very-bad day news with; it was a peer with type 1. She knew I was pregnant before my mom (Sorry mom – I was in Vancouver), and she helped guide me through every “exit explosion” of morning sickness, the crazy low blood sugars, and all the doctor’s appointments.

She was in the next room when we were given our baby’s devastating diagnosis (she’s not a stalker; we share the same OB/GYN and endocrinologist).  It seemed weird not to tell her. She waited in the parking lot after her appointment to make sure I wasn’t alone, checked in with me daily the week following my surgery. I told her, and other type 1’s about this experience first because they get it. They get what it takes to bear a pregnancy with type 1: the endless overnight beeping, juice box wrappers, and constant communication with care-team members, so of course it makes sense. We crave that feeling of belonging, we’re kindredly connected, and I kind of like that.

Weeks later, as I attempt to grasp my new reality, I’m feeling incredibly thankful to have these peers. Although I am no longer pregnant, Kerri is. And I will be that same rock and shoulder and peer to her if she needs it that she has been to me for the last whatever-the-eff months that was a pretty big blob of blur to me. I’ve learned that it takes a lot of work and homework to prepare and endure a pregnancy, but it’s a heck of a lot better when you have super awesome people to follow along with you.

Never underestimate the power of our peers … especially those with reduced pancreatic function. Sometimes we forget how grateful we are for these friendships, so go text a friend, send them a card, or take a moment to think about the positive power of a peer.

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Jumping in to confirm that Anna has been a tremendous support resource for me and my family as we’ve navigated infertility and pregnancy, and the ties that bind here are permanent.  I look forward to the day that our kids hang out together at the beach and compare notes.

Thanks for trusting us with this, Anna.  xo

Guest Post: Diabetes at Work.

When I asked folks in the DOC if they’d be willing to lend their voices and perspectives for a guest blog post, I was excited to hear from Susannah (aka @bessiebelle on Instagram and Twitter).  Susannah grew up in South Australia and is now working as a lawyer in Cambridge, in the UK.  She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during the course of her last year of high school (2000) and is currently using a Dexcom with her Animas Vibe insulin pump.  

Today, she’s taking over SUM to talk about diabetes in the work place, and how to handle the moments when discretion is preferred but diabetes still needs attention, and she’s looking from tips from our community on handling diabetes in the workplace.

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A significant aspect of my life with diabetes which I often feel is ignored is how it fits into my career. Diabetes goes with me to work everyday and has seen the highs (completing deals) and lows (being at work at 2am) of work and as well as sugar!

When I started to write this post about working life with diabetes I was armed with a list of anecdotes but I didn’t expect life to serve up another example of when the two worlds collide. One of the frustrating things that any diabetic knows is it can always throw you something unexpected.

After a seemingly average Sunday afternoon gym session Monday morning last week saw me battling a hypo that just wouldn’t respond (to glucose tabs, reduced basal plus bread with strawberry jam for good measure). With heart still racing and a foggy brain at 9am I emailed my boss to let him know I was somewhat delayed but I’d be in soon. Moments like this make me glad that I’ve been open with my boss about being a type 1 diabetic but also make me anxious that I will be judged as less capable because of it.

Am I the only one who feels like that?

The emotional side of diabetes creeps in too easily. After an experience like that morning I’m left worried that I’ll be judged because of it. Being late on Monday morning is the least of it… We all know there are the doctors’ appointments (6 monthly checks, annual reviews, eye checks, and other specialists – always longer than expected and involving long times in waiting rooms), hypos setting you back (sometimes only a few minutes, other times for much longer), pump sites pulled out causing hassle and even spurting fingers resulting in blood stained shirts! Some of these take up more time than others but they all intrude on what might otherwise be a normal day in the office. Something that I’m acutely reminded of when I’m filling in my 7 hours of 6 minute units of time each day.

I fear hypos at work more than anywhere else. I don’t want to explain why I’m sweating at my desk like I’ve been for a run or to be faced by a deadline but struggling to gather my thoughts clearly. I don’t feel any more comfortable in this situation now than I did when I first started work as a law clerk 10 years ago. Luckily, for many years I had the luxury of my own office and the ability to shut the door gave a level of privacy when required. Recently, I moved to an open plan firm and I am having to reconsider many things I took for granted with a (glass) door… pump site changes at my desk are a thing of the past (cue a few panicked mornings hastily inserting a new site and refilling so that I won’t have to later). I’ve been lucky not to ever have a hypo in a meeting, but this is not without taking care. Meetings with clients or all parties to negotiate a document are a balancing act of starting the meeting high enough not to crash but not so high that I feel sluggish. (and that’s not considering the blood sugar spikes from stress).

Thankfully there are the comical moments – taking a draft document to my boss and having to explain the red smudges on the print out (after 15 years it’s fairly easy to squeeze blood from my favourite fingers… I tested as I typed this and got blood on cue!); being in a meeting with the same boss and having my pump alarm go off – after a quizzical expression from a colleague my boss calmly commented “Don’t worry, Susannah’s bra is ringing!” Needless to say my pump alarms are strictly on vibrate these days.

There are moments that call for advocacy whether I feel like it or not. In a previous job I was surprised when HR requested that I remove my spare insulin from the work fridge or alternatively hide it in a container so other people didn’t have to worry about ‘contamination’. Why?! To this day I haven’t quite figured out who raised the concern (or why?!) but I defiantly ignored that request (with colleagues’ support) and also politely explained to HR that it was not a risk to anyone’s sandwich.

I’m always interested to hear how others handle disclosure with their employers (as well as see photos of their diabetes supplies stashed in their desk), and am always surprised by people who manage not to disclose it. I’m yet to perfect my ‘I’m busy having a hypo so please don’t ask me a question face’ so disclosure is what feels best for me. It may not be for someone else (YDMV). In contemplating my days in the office I realise I have it pretty easy if the worst is getting blood on a contract! I’m in awe of the many people who manage their diabetes while being responsible for others (whether a mother, teacher, nurse or doctor, just to list a few).

How do you handle your diabetes at work? Any tips on how to stress less?

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