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The Baby-Sitters Club: Graphic Novel Review.

Stacey McGill had diabetes and – holy islets – she was cool.

She was one of the lead characters in Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club series, acting as treasurer of the club.  You can go deep in this wiki, where Stacey is described as having “a very sophisticated style, which comes from having lived in New York. She loves wearing flashy clothes and jewelry and doing different things with her hair, which she keeps looking fabulous.”  FABULOUS!  Some of Stacey’s likes are cited:  “babysitting, math, money, shopping, pigs, Mary Poppins, and fashion” as well as some of her dislikes:  “having diabetes, hospitals, people throwing up, other people seeing her give herself insulin injections, and barf buckets.”  (I will admit to reading the whole wiki and loving the hell out of it.)

I can’t disagree with those dislikes, because I also am not a fan of barf buckets.  Or diabetes.

While Claudia was my favorite BSC member to read descriptions of (read What Claudia Wore for why), Stacey was my favorite overall because of the shared diabetes connection.  According to BSC lore, Stacey was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before she started seventh grade and her diagnosis was chaotic because it pulled her out of school and caused some riffs between Stacey and her friend Laine Cummings.  (Yes, I am switching over to my most Punky Brewster of outfits right now, as I type this, transporting myself back to 1986.)

tl;dr – Stacey was awesome because, at the time, my friends were reading The Baby-Sitters Club and it made my diabetes seem mainstream and almost cool.

Which is exactly why I jumped at the chance to review the graphic novel version of The Truth About Stacey for Graphic Medicine (thanks, MK Czerwiec, for this opportunity!)

The original book is described by the Scholastic website as: “Poor Stacey. She’s moved to a new town. She’s still coming to terms with her diabetes. She’s facing baby-sitting problems left and right. And her parents are no help. Luckily, Stacey has three new, true friends — Kristy, Claudia, and Mary Anne. Together they’re the BSC — and they will deal with whatever’s thrown their way . . . even if it’s a rival baby-sitting club!”

I remember reading the text book cover-to-cover and feeling that kindred spirit thing, and I wondered if a graphic novel would have the same appeal decades later.

It did.

The focus of the book is NOT on Stacey’s diabetes but MWD (moments with diabetes) are sprinkled throughout.  There is something so comforting, so normalizing, about seeing a character living with diabetes not as the focus of their life, but as part of what their character goes through.  The crux of the story in this book is about a rival babysitting club, but diabetes moments are woven in to illustrate (pun intended) how diabetes isn’t something you can assign to a character and then forget about.  You have to commit.  Diabetes is as ever-present as the ink on the page, and it’s refreshing to have a visual aid for an oftentimes invisible disease.

Stacey’s dinner plate – with throwback mentions of the ADA exchange system!

I’m sure it happens all the time, that you and your friends are reading the same book for the same reason (because it’s a good story/popular/on sale from Weekly Reader or the airport).  But how often do you, as a person with diabetes, get to have a sneaky, secret, awesome reason to enjoy a book?

The truth about Stacey is that even though she’s a fictional voice, the diabetes is real, and it gives a little, “Hey, me too!” moment for kids and adults alike.

Bike Ride.

In one, frantic breath as we prepared to go for a bike ride, Birdy proclaims:

“We need to put a bottle of water in the bike basket and a snack in case I get hungry and a snack in case you get hungry or if you have a low blood sugar and your glucose meter and the glucose tabs in case you have a low blood sugar for real and in case I want to have one – that’s a joke, Mom, but really I can have a teeny, teeny bite if I want one, right? – and I will wear my helmet and you can walk while I ride on my bike and I’ll keep my eyes forward so I don’t fall off.”

Our version of “going for a bike ride” might sound complicated, but we do our thing and we do it well.

Advocacy: Do It with Flair.

From @sixuntilme, after watching some of DarthSkeptic’s Tweets correcting diabetes misinformation fly by in my feed (thanks to @txtingmypancreas for highlighting):  “Why did you decide to take this wickedly funny high road?”

From @darthskeptic:  “It was partially based on frustration and partially based on ‘TheoryFail’ and ‘TakeThatDarwin‘ addressing and mocking people ignorant about basic science.”

Whatever the reason, I love seeing people who are tagging their desserts as #diabetes on Twitter being served up some education by @darthskeptic. Some examples:

And my favorite:

Carry on, @darthskeptic. Carry on.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust for the Epically Lazy.

[Insert whole paragraph about how I hate to cook/am bad at cooking/have no interest in cooking/would rather paint the deck.]

I don’t normally do anything resembling a “food review” because that’s not my bag (baby).  But I’m lazy when it comes to preparing food, so if I stumble across something that makes being a lazy chef even easier, well then hot diggity damn I am going to post about it.

BEHOLD!!  It’s a generic, “Acme Pizza” looking box, but the contents are wonderful.  This is gluten-free pizza crust and it’s legitimately delicious.  Kinnikinnick, your tagline is accurate.

I can’t say the name of it out loud without feeling like I’m casting a spell, but this pizza crust is worth writing about because it crisps up nicely, is thick enough to hold a pile of toppings, and when you bite into it, you don’t wish it was something else.  Birdy and I have experimented with several gluten-free dough options (not because of celiac, but due to preference) and this Kinnikinnick pre-made pizza crust has been the best one we’ve found so far.

“This pizza is good, Mom!”

I agreed.

[This is not an advertisement, or a sponsored post.  This post is the result of going to Whole Foods, spending eight billion dollars, and for once not regretting it.  Again, friends share.  So I'm sharing.  :) ]

The Dexcom / Mac Dance.

Sharing, because that’s what friends do.

Brian Bosh, living with type 1 diabetes and also apparently a very clever guy, found a workaround for uploading Dexcom G4 data to a Mac computer. Yes, you read that correctly.

“I created Chromadex because I was trying #DIYPS but hated carrying around a second phone. I figured I was close enough to a computer enough of the time that I could run an uploader on there and it would work well enough. There already is an uploader for Windows and Android, but no way to do it on the Mac. (Or Linux for that matter.) Once the uploader was built, though, I thought it really ought to do some of the same things Dexcom Studio did, since that’s not available on Mac either: If I had the data, I might as well offer their reports too. At this point it will upload to #DIYPS, NightScout and run three reports. It still takes a little bit of wrenching to get it to upload and I’d like to make that easier. Had a few people ask if I could make it work with MMOL. I’d like to get more reports working.”

I haven’t downloaded my data yet via this application, but others have:

If you want to try it for yourself, visit the Chrome web store and download Chromadex for free. And if you like how it works, please thank Brian.

#wearenotwaiting

Focusing on Happy.

Clouding on the Road.

The CGM in the Cloud concept matters most to me when I’m traveling alone.  While I was in Orlando last week, my bedside table looked like this at night:

A Moto G hooked up to my Dexcom G4, sending CGM data to the cloud.

And that data being routed to my family back in Rhode Island and to my wristwatch.

A few questions I heard from people throughout the conference:

“What peace of mind does it give you that the CGM itself doesn’t?”

I slept better with this thing rigged up.  It’s a clumsy set-up (all those cables and wires and plugged-in-ports) but the ends justify the means.  Chris could see my data while I was sleeping, and his system would alert him to any wicked overnight hypos, should they occur.  That’s some good peace of mind for me when I’m a plane ride away from my support system.  While my overnights are usually unnervingly spot-on (nailing down my overnight basal has been the luckiest break ever, and I blame my in-range A1C on spending those 6+ sleeping hours in-target), low blood sugars still creep in and can cause chaos.  I liked being hooked up while I was sleeping.

“Why wear it connected throughout the day?”

It was more convenient than I thought to have the graph running on a watch.  I didn’t realize how often I go digging through my bag for my Dexcom receiver until I spent a few days not doing that.  I like the seamless flick of the wrist and the “Hey, that’s my number,” and moving one sentiment.  But, to be honest, I think I kept it hooked up during the day partly because I knew people would have questions/want to see the rig and I wanted to be able to show them. Nothing answers questions better than seeing the system “in the wild.”

“Why don’t you wear it all the time?”

What made it less convenient to keep the system “clouding” on this trip is that I haven’t purchased a data plan for the Android phone yet, and have been running it off of open wifi signals (the hotel, convention center, restaurants, etc).  That’s a definite hurdle, and since the system is most important for me to run while I’m sleeping during travel (or home while Chris is traveling), using wifi seems to work best for my needs.  It’s simple to connect/disconnect from the cloud system as I need to.  I’m also hesitant to tax the USB port on my Dexcom receiver because I don’t have a spare receiver and I also don’t want to break the device I have come to rely on.

“Do you really want your family seeing your numbers all the time?  What about your privacy?”

Really good question.  This is why I’m looking forward to the Dexcom Share application, because that app will allow me to revoke access to my data if I choose.  As it stands now, my CGM data is clouded to a site that I have shared with my husband and my mother, and if I’m hooked up to the CGM in the Cloud system, they have access to my data.  It’s not a password-protected application.  I would love to see the data protected by some kind of password system.  I appreciate the option to share the data for my safety, but not for their scrutiny.  However, when it comes to the overnights while I’m traveling, I don’t care who sees those numbers.  Their having access makes me feel less vulnerable, and I’m willing to sacrifice my data privacy for those 6+ hours.

Clouding CGM data is a work-in-progress.  Much like life with diabetes.

#wearenotwaiting

 

 

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