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Pizza (A Christmas Poem).

T’was the night before Christmas and all tinsel’s in,
Not a creature was stirring or making insulin.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that my islet cells soon would be there.
My children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of pizza boxes filled me with dread.
I took out my pen, assessed the amount
And settled my brain to complete the carb count.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I went with a fright
(And on the chair arm almost ripped out my pump site).
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Highlighted the … thing? there at rest down below.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear
But a miniature Panc, looking all cavalier.
He looked like a corn cob, or maybe a penis.
I knew that he saw me, despite distance between us.

More rapid than eagles my insults they came,
As I whistled and shouted and called out his name.
“You stupid old pancreas! Where have you been?
It’s been 30 dumb years since I’ve seen you again.
From my childhood years to now raising my own,
Diabetes is the only life that I’ve known!
And now you waltz back, sitting there on my lawn
Expecting me to give hugs or to kiss or to fawn …”

But while I was ranting, the Panc, he just flew
Straight to the shed roof while I shouted, “Go screw!”
He stood there, so regal, and then, the rogue mutt,
He pulled down his pants and he showed me his butt.
And it became clear, as I fumed and I seethed,
That he came here to fight me, is what I believed.
So I steeled myself there, as the doorknob did rattle
And my pancreas came in my house to do battle.

He took out his betas, I whipped out a spoon
We stalked one another in my living room
His eyes, how they narrowed, his islets, how lazy!
(I was glad Chris was out ‘cause I’m sure this looked crazy.)
His droll little mouth was all knitted with rage
As he jabbed with his right, then drown dropped the steel cage.
It was just me and him, in a fight to the pain
“If you won’t make insulin, I’ll go full hurricane!”

We fought there for hours, just me and that thing,
I had a black eye and he pulled his hamstring.
Until finally – finally – I landed the punch
That sent the panc reeling and hurt a whole bunch.
While nursing his knee and cradling his arm,
My pancreas said, in efforts to disarm,
“You’ve bested me for decades, and I owe you a prize.
So grab that there pen and now open your eyes.
There’s a carb calculation, a quest for the ages,
And in minutes you’ll know it, so mark up those pages.
You’ve won, fair and square, and I owe you some solace.
So Kerri, here it is: the coveted Pizza Bolus.

He spat out some numbers and fine ratios
And I scrambled to write down his mathematical prose.
By the time he was done, our fight fences were mended.
I would remain the Lead Panc while his ass just pretended.
And he reached out his hand to shake, sealing the deal
I extended mine back, not knowing how to feel.
But I heard him exclaim, as he limped out of sight,
“You’ve won this round, Kerri. Enjoy pizza tonight!!”

Participate in Research: Peds to Adult Endo Care.

As an adult with type 1 diabetes who, a hundred years ago, transitioned from pediatric care to adult care, I have a ton of interest in how that process takes place. There are so many factors that play into making that transition effective.  Does the child have a chance to talk one-on-one with their doctor as they get older?  Is there room for group visits in the pediatric space to help transition to adult care?  Is independence and responsibility tossed to the kid all at once or is it a gradual process.  And hey, does the waiting room inspire confidence in peds while the waiting room in the adult clinic generates despair?  (Oooh that last one.)

Growing up with diabetes includes learning how to take the baton of self-care and run with it, and everyone does it differently.

Always working in pursuit of improved patient outcomes, Drs. Tamara and Sean Oser, along with their colleague Dr. Kanthi Krishna, are studying the process of transition from pediatric diabetes care to adult diabetes care. I cannot wait to see what comes of this study and I hope lots of SUM readers click through to see if they qualify to participate.

tl;dr: To see if you qualify and to participate in this study about the journey from peds endo care to adult endo care, you can access their survey here:

HERE IS THE SURVEY!  CLICK ON MEEEEEEE!

Feel free to share this survey with your PWD peers so we can help improve quality of life and health outcomes for our community.  And if you’d like a psychedelic Santa gif, you can have that, too.

Digging Up Some Joy.

I have been trying to actively distance myself from the desire to dive deep into all the bad stuff that’s been going on lately.  Headlines get more and more distressing and humanity seems to have gone off the rails.  It feels gross to even watch the news because … well, the news is gross.  Everywhere.

Happy frigging holidays, right?

I’ve been in a little bit of a buzzkill cycle and I need to bust out of that in a hurry.  So I’m actively digging up some joy in order to remind myself that there is joy out there, and in here, and in me.

  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!  – My son had his first sleepover at my mom’s house, which was a success.  And after I fell asleep on the couch at 9 pm and then moved upstairs to bed at midnight (after pumping and then freaking out briefly because I had almost forgotten to move the Elf – more on him in a second), I slept through until it was time to wake Birdy for school.  That’s a lot of sleep.  It helped make me feel like an adult human again.
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! My insulin pump took a hard hit against the bathroom tile yesterday and didn’t get injured at all.  Same goes for my cell phone, which was accidentally thrown across the room in a separate moment.  Props to durable devices.    
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! – Nothing says loving like a giant iced coffee.  Nothing.
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! – My son has just realized that his hands are attached to him and that they are delicious.  He also figured out how to manipulate said hands in order to grab squishy blocks or to pat my face.  After several months of doing the route infant circuit, the smiling and grinning and playfulness of this little boy is exciting and adorable and makes me so happy.  He is the smiliest of all the Guy Smilies.  I love watching him explore and expand his world.
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! – The Birdzone has also recently discovered the Elf on the Shelf, which means we have one in our house.  His name is Chippy.  I love him because she is so excited by his presence, but I kind of hate him, too.  Waking up at 1 am by inhaling all the oxygen in the room in a panicked “ohmygodthefuckingelfneedsmoving” moment is not optimal.  But her face when she sees where he’s moved to gives me intense happies.
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! –  My neighborhood is awash with holiday decorations and people hanging out.  I love this stuff.  Mostly because we live among some really wonderful people, but also because of cookies and holy shit are there some delicious cookies going on.
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!  Like these cookies.  Four ingredients, one of which is peanut butter so instant win.  I would live inside of a tin of these cookies, no problem.
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!  – Also, in terms of recipes that bring joy, check out these penguins.  I want to make a waddle of these little fellas and set them loose in the neighborhood.  (Note:  It feels so right that a group of penguins is also called a waddle.)
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!  Also, the cats are no longer experiencing feline PTSD (yes) as a result of the little Guy joining the family.  Siah’s hair isn’t falling out anymore and Loopy has stopped pawing relentlessly at the bedroom door.  (And now that they are back to being their normal cat selves, their nocturnal routines have returned in full.  Which means that Siah’s chubby ass going down the stairs happily at 3 am sounds like the heavy boot steps of someone who has broken into my house.  Cat burglar?)
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! – Exercising is also still going forward, albeit a little tangled up with my family’s constantly-shifting work schedule.  And that’s a plus, since I was feeling very sluggish and lazy these last few months.  Related:  The West Wing is a good show.  Currently a few episodes into the first season and am getting way into it.
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! – Also, I started using the Verio Flex (switched from my beloved Verio Sync) and that’s been a good experience, too.  The meter has less of an MS-DOS feeling than the Sync, and I’ve returned to uploading my meter results to the Reveal app.  Granted, I’m still not checking my blood sugar as frequently as I’d like to be (aiming for six times a day, still only clocking in around 3 – 4 times per day … but am wearing my Dexcom religiously, so that’s a plus), but the meter itself is a good upgrade from the Sync.
  • HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! – And one thing that’s been consistently bringing good feelings to the forefront has been the diabetes community.  Seriously.  Every time I manage to log on and check out what people have been writing, it’s confirmation that people are in this to help one another.  From new voices in the DOC (like Today with Tubes and the posts on DOColors) to a whole list of benefits to life with diabetes (thanks, Catherine!) to policy efforts and #insulin4all and organizations aiming to improve lives for PWD, this community is still a huge source of good in my world.  I’ve always valued this space, but lately it’s been a bright spot in these times of crappy headlines.

Man, that felt good to list.  Channeling Ren and Stimpy entirely now.

Accountability.

We have a newly-minted kiddo.  That’s an established fact.  He is cleaned, fed, and loved all day long.

Here’s the problem:  I’m not cleaned, fed, or loved all day long.  It’s embarrassing to admit that, but it’s the truth.  I’m struggling hard with self-care.  And I also kind of buck up against even the admission of struggling with self-care, because parents in general are sometimes tsk, tsk‘d for putting their needs on the to do list at all.

But that oxygen mask metaphor that I used back when Birdy was born?  Applies to the little Guy, too.  I can’t take care of him, or her, or anyone if I’m off my own game.

Maybe I’m not off my game so much as I need to change the game.  Gone are the days of plotting and spreadsheeting fertility goals, and with them went the fastidious monitoring of blood sugars and doctor’s appointments.  It’s okay to loosen the reins a bit there, but I need to keep up some semblance of diabetes management.  Checking blood sugars?  On it.  Using the features of my insulin pump to my advantage, like inputting my blood sugar and carb intake and letting it calculate my insulin needs?  On it.  Keeping my CGM graph top of mind instead of succumbing to alarm fatigue?  I can do that, too.

But oh the exercise and food thing is a frigging quest.  Uphill.  In the snow.  With that Sisyphus ball thing.

I thrive when held accountable, and I need accountability in order to reignite some healthier habits.  There was a short discussion about this on Facebook last week, which led to the creation of a small Accountabilibetes group, where we’re trying to help one another stick with some kind of exercise program, and that camaraderie has been a big boost.  Even though the weather has been fuck all cold (snowed last night), I’ve been back on the treadmill the last few days, easing in with some interval training that’s heavy on the incline and gentler on the speed for now.  (I’ve started watching The West Wing, which I’ve never, ever seen even an episode of before.  Now I have seven seasons of Sorkin-saturated dialog to work through.  Should keep me entertained throughout the winter treadmill months.)  A fully-charged Fitbit helps, too, as I’ve avoided that thing for the last 12 months as well. As far as food goes, improved food choices usually follow exercise for me, so I know that I’ll battle food temptations less when I’m physically active.

So far, it’s only been a few days, but I’m hoping that a few more days will wet cement these habits.  Once that mental cement sets, I’ll be in my pre-pregnancy planning circuit and my health overall will improve.  Right?  RIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.

Before that cement dries, I need to stick my finger in it and write “It’s worth it.”  And maybe also draw a cat out of the word “cat.”

Just Past Three.

Mr. Guy Smiley,

Hallelujah!!!  You have started SLEEPING and it makes me want to hit the caps lock and sing your praises.  Thank you, sweet boy, for finally deciding that nighttime is the best time to sleep.  I don’t even care if you ever nap predictably during the day because you sleep at night.  (Remind me I said that.)  Your else close around 8.30 pm, you sleep until about 11.30 pm, you wake to eat, and then you’re lights out until 7.30 the next morning.  THANK YOU.  I can tie my shoes again without becoming confused.  I remembered how to use the coffee maker.  I don’t cry while brushing my teeth.  HallelujahHallelujahHallelujah!!!

And not only are you sleeping, but you’re such a happy guy when you wake up.  Instant smiles, instant cooing, kicking your legs and flapping your arms like the happiest chicken there ever was.  You remind me so much of your sister with your morning joyousness, but you bring your own smiley guy flair to things.

We spent a lot of time together, you and I.  Big sister Birdy flies off to school every morning and Dad zips off to work, leaving you and I to try and make sense of the loads of emails, loads of laundry, and loads of diapers.  (That last one?  Ew.  Love you, but ew.)  You and I have done at least a dozen conference calls together, two or three video calls (those are tricky), and you’ve come to your first conference with me.  (Note:  Thanks, Tandem, for not thinking I was weird for bringing my mom and son to a conference with me, and to TCOYD for making my infant feel like part of the party.)  Working alongside you is a little complicated and sometimes distracted, but I’m inspired to keep pushing my boundaries because I want you to know that your mom is fueled by many interests and passions.  Just as I want you to be interested in so many different things.

For now, you’re most interested in talking.  And this little lion blanket thing that you have set your sights on gumming to death.  You also want to go for walks around the neighborhood in your stroller as often as we can, and you love, love being worn in the baby bjorn thing.  Just recently, we flipped you around in that baby carrier so that you face out and are able to see the world (instead of staring at my collarbone).  You love EVERYTHING.  I love that about you.

The Batman.

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

You also love eating, and I’m still working to feed you.  You had a little trouble gaining weight at the outset (a combination of reflux plus falling asleep while eating), and even though I preferred to feed you myself, I had to start pumping breastmilk and using a bottle to ensure that you were getting a set number of ounces per feeding.  That’s kind of the system we’re still rocking at the moment – I feed you two or three times a day myself and the rest of your meals are via bottle.  My days are marked by three hour windows where I either check my blood sugar and then feed you or check and then pump. This means I am constantly pumping (insulin pump plus breast pump equals oh so many pumps) and constantly concerned about the stash of milk in our fridge.  I have ambitions of keeping you on breastmilk for several more months and I hope I can keep up the supply.  So far, I meet your needs.  (And even though I’m not one for supplements, etc. I am drinking a cup of this tea every day.  It might be helping.  It’s not hurting, at least.  And I’m developing a taste for black licorice as a weird side effect.)

Postpartum body blargh is in full effect, as you’re a little over three months old and I have not been on the ball in terms of self-care.  I am working to focus more on my diet in a consistently healthy way (eff off, pie … no wait, come back!!) and I’ve just recommitted to my exercise routine.  I have (blond) ambitions of burning any and all shapewear crap by next June.  Or, at the very least, feeling more like myself by then.

(Why am I writing about breastfeeding and postpartum body images in these letters to you?  Well, part of the reason why people read this blog is because I chronicle diabetes stuff, and it all plays in.  You’ll understand more when you’re older and you tune into the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time writing on the Internet.  I know, it’s weird.  Especially since we now have MentalNet, where you simply blink your eyes and your thoughts auto-publish to the cloud.  Man, picturing the future of the Internet is terrifying.)

We have plans to introduce you to some of our dearest-but-most-far-flung friends this month and you’re spending plenty of time with your aunts and your grandmas. Oh, and you’ll spend your first Christmas on the outside, with your sister very much looking forward to sharing the excitement of Christmas morning with you. You’re very, very loved, kiddo.  You’re a little over three months old but you’ve owned real estate in my heart for ages.

(And thank you for falling asleep at night and sleeping for several hours.  Seriously.  All of me thanks you.  🙂 )

Love,
mom

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