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Posts tagged ‘diabetes’

Second-time Motherhood.

This whole mom thing is a little easier, in some respects, the second time around.  And it’s simultaneously harder by a frigging long shot.

It’s easier because my son’s arrival wasn’t as jarring as his sister’s.  Going from no kids to one kid was like WHOA.  Going from one kid to two kids was lowercase whoa.  Chris and I are already six years into parenthood, so we weren’t shocked by the boxes of diapers that stashed themselves in the closet.  (We were slightly shocked to discover what we’ve saved for the last six years, like the stroller.  Blew cobwebs off that sucker.  And the high chair.  Found six year old puffs tucked into the hinges.  Very thankful we saved all of Birdy’s little bird clothes, because so many of them have been repurposed for his tiny butt.)  So all the “stuff” that comes with little babies was expected.  We also knew a lack of sleep was to be expected.  In addition to a marked uptick in discussions about poop.

What people told us about parental reactions to second kids seems true so far, too.  We aren’t as scared to hold him, or to hand him to family members to hold.  The little wobbly head and neck feel familiarly easy to support.  Changing a diaper is business as usual (except for the different set of parts in play, where the fear of being peed on takes a whole new trajectory … quite literally).  We even assembled the crib without too much trouble, despite needing to reorder the hardware kit because that somehow disappeared in the last six years.  Yet we easily found the old bottle warmer.  Whatever, storage wars.

Even recovering from the c-section was familiar, though no less annoying or uncomfortable.  Now, two months later, my scar is light pink and fading and doesn’t feel as if a sneeze would rip it open and send my organs shooting across the room.  (A real, yet unreasonable, fear I had this time around.)  I’m able to walk on the treadmill and go up the stairs without pain.  Feeling more human and better armed to take care of my kids.

But those first few sleepless weeks?  Holy hell, they hurt.  Sleep was not a thing for many, many weeks.  I started to crack up a little, only sleeping an hour at a time.  Add that to the established needs and schedule of the Birdzone and my brain was slowly refusing to think thoughts due to lack of sleep.  I was once again confused about how the hell to snap up his overnight pajamas.  So much so that I ditched snaps entirely and the little guy been sleeping in those lovely sleep sacks for the last two months.  (We have an arsenal of them in rotation, because he has a tendency to tear through them with reckless, spit-uppy abandon.)  I may have cried at random a few times because I was so damn tired.  Thankfully, the little man has given in to sleep for three or four hours at a clip at night, so things are improving.

I also sort of forgot about breastfeeding.  I forgot the sound that the pump makes (that hiss-hiss-hiiiiiiiiss) and how cumbersome it is to use in public.  I forgot about the weird combination of pain and relief it physically provides.  And I forgot about the constant need to either feed or pump.

Last week, I officially started traveling again and for the first time used the pump in public places, like an empty conference room in Boston (thanks, Anna!) and the airplane bathroom.  With Birdy, I was reluctant to do anything breastfeeding-related in public because I was so unsure of myself, but this time necessity dictates my actions, so no time for shy.  On a plane this past Friday, I needed to pump and took zero time getting into the airplane bathroom and pumping for a few minutes.  Same in the airport (thank you, Mamava in the Atlanta airport).  Same at the meeting I attended at the University of Georgia, where I walked onto a college campus with my insulin pump in my pocket and my breast pump in my bag.  So far, we haven’t needed to bring formula into the equation (save for an ounce we needed to administer in the hospital – thanks, diabetes, for the delayed milk arrival and a dehydrated baby), and I’m hoping I can keep up with breast milk production despite returning to work travel.  Traveling with breastmilk through TSA is a hassle, though, so adding that to my already-diabetes influenced TSA troubles makes getting through security its own damn trip. Still working out the kinks there.

However, I do definitively recall the chaos that an infant brought to my diabetes care.  Until just a few days ago, my body was still adjusting to breastfeeding, so weird low blood sugars would come swooping in unpredictably after feeding or pumping.  Jars of glucose tabs were ripped through in record time.  I’m only now starting to even out and predict the hypos, which helps a ton.  But staying on top of things like checking my blood sugar and eating regularly remains tough.  Throw in a broken Dexcom receiver and a suddenly-dead transmitter and I’m in a world of data-free diabetes hurt.  New receiver should arrive tomorrow, along with new transmitter hopefully this week.  Setting an alarm on my phone to check my BG every two hours is helping me stay on top of things, but I’m having an A1C drawn this week and I know it’s going to be a far cry from the numbers I saw before and during pregnancy. I’m actively and aggressively trying to stay on top of diabetes needs despite wanting to shelve all that shit for a while.

But I also remembered that, with a baby comes this strong and steady flow of love.  Like so many other parents, I was a little worried that my heart would have trouble making room for another kid.  I was so, so wrong to worry.  There’s more than enough room for love this time around. This baby boy smiles at me and I become instantly stupid, all washed over with love for him.  He’s been here the whole time, only now I can hug him.

… he’s quite a dancer, too.

#diabetesdancedare party time. We challenge @textingmypancreas @mrmikelawson and Victor Montori.

A video posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on


Thanks, Diabetes!

Feeling bummed about the bullshit of diabetes?  Me, too.  I needed to find a few things to appreciate about this disease before I tried to throw it off the deck.  So here we go.  A quick round of “Thanks, Diabetes!

  • I had to get my flu shot two weeks ago.  The needle was big and went right into my shoulder muscle but I did not care as I do needles all the time.  NBD.  Thanks, Diabetes!
  • I mentally smirk every time I get on the highway and see the speed limit sign:  65.  Always makes me want to throw glucose tabs at the pavement.  Giggle well spent.  Thanks, Diabetes!
  • I had a long, drawn out phone call with someone at my insurance company’s office, all in pursuit of confirming coverage for some high-risk related ultrasounds when I was pregnant.  The woman who had to deal with me was extremely nice and helpful, and she made me laugh out loud more than once.  Were it not for my stupid disease, I never would have chatted with this awesome lady.  Thanks, Diabetes!
  • I was able to efficiently remove a splinter using a steady hand and a sharp lancet.  Thanks, Diabetes!
  • This week, I’ll have a chance to hang out with friends who might not make insulin but who definitely make the world a better place.  Thanks, Diabetes!
  • The charging cord for my t:slim pump happens to fit the charging port for the bluetooth speaker whose charging cord recently up and disappeared.  Thanks, Diabetes!
  • I forced myself to join some friends for a walk this morning in pursuit of bringing my blood sugar down just a little bit.  Had I not put blood sugars into the top priority bucket, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to spend a little quality time outside in the sunshine with friends.  Thanks, Diabetes!
  • I bought two bags of candy corn and completely considered them a “medically necessary expense.”  Thanks, Diabetes!

Beyond Type 1: LOVE IS ON.

Despite being up to my eyeballs in parenting stuff [insert baby who doesn’t sleep at all at night plus a big sister who had her first ear infection over the weekend here], I have been online.  And I’ve totally seen the Beyond Type 1 black-and-white photo’d community posts scrolling by, asking for donations and awareness for the Revlon LOVE IS ON Million Dollar Challenge.

I’ll admit that I was a little confused at first.  If Beyond Type 1 was aiming to win a million dollars from this campaign, why were they fundraising?  Of course the goal is to earn $1 MM for Beyond Type 1 courtesy of Revlon, but why are people fund raising if the goal is to win the big prize?  Is it to show how much the community can raise first?  Also, what does Beyond Type 1 plan to spend the prize money on?  I’ve been very impressed by the presence that Beyond Type 1 has created in the diabetes community, but I’ll admit that I’m not exactly sure what the organization does, or plans to do, outside of awareness.  (And I’ll also admit that I haven’t been focused on diabetes stuff in the last seven weeks, making me unaware of The Obvious lately.)  I needed to learn more.

So I emailed with Mary Lucas, Community Partners and Programs Manager for Beyond Type 1, and she provided me with some clarity for my confusion.   (All italicized answers below are from Mary, who is patient beyond patient when it comes to replying to multiple scattered emails from this exhausted new mom.)

From Mary:  

The Revlon LOVE IS ON Million Dollar Challenge is a six week challenge that 150 charities were invited to participate in. At the end of those 6 weeks, the nonprofit that has raised the most money total is awarded an extra $1 Million from Revlon. There are smaller consolation prizes for second and third. Every charity still gets to keep their money raised, it is just an extra added bonus. On top of that, the nonprofit that wins would be accepting a comedically-sized large check in a very public setting with media, etc. and would subsequently drum up a ton of press and hype around that charity and the cause associated with it. It would be really great to have a diabetes charity up there accepting the $1 Million from Revlon, as it would really help get T1D into the mainstream press and media.

As a non-profit, all our operations are covered by leadership and founding friends, so 100% of all money donated to us goes back into our portfolio of programs and investments.   This means we are fully operational funded, so $1 in to us is $1 back out into the diabetes community, not 75 or 80 or 90 cents, but the entire dollar, which is pretty rare for a non-profit. So far, we have invested in both our own native programs (that we currently offer for free for everyone in the type 1 community) such as our Snail Mail Club, the App, Education Initiatives and Resources, Camp Sessions, and the DKA Awareness Initiative we will be rolling out nationwide in just a few weeks.

We have also given grants to organizations working on cure efforts such as ViaCyte and the DRI, technology efforts such as Nightscout and Tidepool, and community /education /advocacy efforts like The Human Trial Film, Riding on Insulin, Marjorie’s Fund, and T1 International. The grant we gave to Marjorie’s Fund last year actually helped open a new diabetes education center in Uganda this summer! (To learn more about all of the grantees, etc. you can visit this page on the website.) We like to fundraise for a variety of things across the areas of educate, advocate and cure — we want to help people living with T1D today while still researching and working towards a cure for tomorrow.

If we won the Revlon Challenge, the extra money would be used not only to help fund our native programs and keep those going, but would also enabled us to open up applications for grants once again.

The Revlon Challenge also has some cool opportunities and bonus challenges they do throughout (such as matching donations, etc.) and we also have done some fun things like offering a Percy the Plushy Snail (our Snail Mail Club Mascot who is not for sale yet but is pretty much the cutest thing ever – he has an insulin pump!) for everyone who donates $50 to Percy’s fundraising page. And of course right now are doing the Nick Jonas meet and greet giveaway – so people have some cool opportunities to win extra stuff!

Thanks for all of the information, Mary!  Now I have a better idea of where our donation is going when we chip in for the Million Dollar Challenge.  Here’s hoping Beyond Type 1 is able to win the challenge and bring diabetes into mainstream discussion.


Type 1 Origins: Talking Comic Books with Partha Kar.

Dr. Partha Kar

Dr. Kar has been a Consultant in Diabetes & Endocrinology at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust since 2008 and the Clinical Director of Diabetes from 2009-2015.  One of his main areas or passion is in helping to redesign diabetes care in an attempt to integrate chronic disease management across primary and secondary care.  He’s won many awards and has helped patients with diabetes across the spectrum.  I’ve been following UK endocrinologist Dr. Partha Kar on Twitter for ages now and have been watching the development of his type 1 diabetes-centric comic book with excitement.  Just recently, the comic was released into the wild.

The superhero twist that wraps around the diabetes narrative makes the idea all the more interesting.  According to the comic intro, “As comic and superhero fans, it seemed to us that there were some parallels between the times when a type 1 diabetes diagnosis is made and when a superhero discovers their powers for the first time. There is often shock and surprise among the feelings experienced in both situations, followed by acceptance and adaptation.”

I couldn’t agree more, and was thrilled that Dr. Kar took a few minutes of his time to answer some questions about his work, the comic, and the DOC.

–   –   –

Kerri: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, Dr. Kar! Can you give me a little background on your involvement with the diabetes online community, and how diabetes has touched your life, personally?

Dr. Kar: Social media and interaction with the DOC probably has been the biggest education I have received in my career. Its been fun, enjoyable and educational and I have enjoyed so much of it! Personally, this is my life, my work, my job and everyday in one way or another, diabetes always affects what I do – much needs to improve in my view. I see folks struggle every day with little things – somehow it would be nice if even a little bit of that could be improved.

Kerri: I’ve been watching the development of your T1D-centric comic book with great interest from the US. Can you tell me a bit about why you created this comic?

Dr. Kar: Comics are great source of education-as far as I am concerned – I have always loved how they have explored the issues of social isolation (X men); teenage angst (Spiderman) etc. and has always been one of my loves of life. Somehow it seemed natural to join that and diabetes together – it felt like a medium which hasn’t been used much – and perhaps could help with showcasing type 1 diabetes and raising awareness.

Kerri: What makes the narrative of diabetes so important, in your opinion?

Dr. Kar: Diabetes is and always has been a multifaceted condition – ignorance towards it – or simply labeling it as a condition of “being unhealthy” is wrong on so many levels, let alone the different types which are totally different entities. Its important we make that clear.  Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are fundamentally different with fundamentally different needs – it’s important as HCPs that we help in raising this awareness too.

Kerri: Who helped you bring your creative vision for the diabetes comic to fruition?

Dr. Kar: As regards the comic book, big thank you to many individuals. I don’t have type 1 diabetes – it would be silly as fellas wrong for me to do the narrative – I wouldn’t even know what it is to have a hypo. Thus, my huge thank you to Andy Broomhead, Jen Blackwell, Laura Cleverly, and Joe Griffiths who helped create the story board. Danny Mclaughin from Revolve Comics was the dude who brought it all to life – while my co-conspirator was Dr. Mayank Patel- we have always call each other Bruce & Clark. I will let you figure out who is who!

Kerri: What are you hoping to accomplish with this piece? And what part of the comic are you most proud of?

Dr. Kar: Raising awareness is a key theme, as well as maybe helping to explain type 1 diabetes to someone newly diagnosed slightly differently. My analogy is that its perhaps like a super power – but not one which people want – sort of like the Hulk, who spends his entire life trying to find the cure but along the way, learns to live with it, sometimes control it … a super power he never wanted in the first place. Proudest part? Perhaps the panel where the character meets someone he knows and understands he is not “alone.”

Quality nod to S.H.I.E.L.D.

Kerri: Outside of the comic trade, I know you’re actively involved with the diabetes community as a healthcare professional. What is your background as a healthcare provider, and how does that background intersect with your creative outreach efforts?

Dr. Kar: I like trying different things- for example a one stop shop for those with type 1 diabetes or indeed TED style talks. I like changing things, shaping new things, exploring new horizons … I suppose I like a challenge and for certain, improving type 1 diabetes care is no small one. I have a huge desire to improve type 1 diabetes care – let’s see where it takes me!

Kerri: How can readers of Six Until Me check out your comic book? And also, how can they connect with you on social media?

Dr. Kar: Comic book is free! Go to Revolve Comics and feel free to download- use it, spread the word and hey if you like it and want more, come back with ideas! Who knows – I have ideas swirling in my head about turning this into an animation … early days but who knows!

As regards getting in touch- just follow me on Twitter (@parthaskar) and feel free to poke, ask anything you want. As I say to all and sundry, if asked with respect, no question is tough- if I don’t know it, I will be the first one to put my hand up. I look forward to interacting with as many folks with T1D as I can.  As I said, it’s always such a fab learning opportunity and I genuinely enjoy the chats.

 –   –   –

Thanks for chatting with me, Dr. Kar, and I’m looking forward to more from your team of superheroes!  To download the comic, visit Revolve Comics and you can grab it for free.

Some t:slim X2 Q&A.

[Disclosure:  I have a relationship with Tandem Diabetes Care that is outlined here.  Bias noted?  Good.  Read on, then.]

I am notorious for holding out on purchasing a new cell phone because I’m convinced that, the moment I hand over my money for Newest Phone it will immediately become obsolete at the announcement of NEWER PHONE.

Which is why I’m so excited about Tandem’s announcement regarding the t:slim X2 insulin pump because the pump software can be updated remotely.  Which means that when new software comes out, I can gain access to it from my house instead of having to wait and negotiate with my insurance company, etc. I wanted to share details on the t:slim X2 and create a sort of blog post clearing house for questions that I have (and that folks in the DOC have asked about), so with the help of the Tandem team and public-facing information (press releases, FAQs on their website, etc), I’ve cobbled together some Q&A hopefully A’s some of your Q’s.

Does the X2 currently work with the Dexcom G4 system?

The X2 currently has the same features as the current t:slim Pump, so it doesn’t work with the Dexcom G4 system. However, the demand will hopefully be high for the t:slim X2 insulin pump when Tandem rolls out the first major software update for G5 CGM integration, so they have an upgrade program in place for t:slim and t:slim G4 customers. (See more below for info on the upgrade program.)

When can users expect the X2 to sync up with the Dexcom G5 system?

The first feature rollout currently planned for the t:slim X2 Pump is expected to be integration with the Dexcom G5® Mobile CGM system, pending FDA approval. FDA submission for this feature is planned for late 2016, and Tandem anticipates availability in mid-2017.

Has the pump body changed at all with the X2?

For all practical purposes, no. The X2 is the same size and shape as the t:slim pump. It has a durable aluminum housing and will be compatible with all accessories designed for the t:slim Pump. (For those who have invested in ten thousand Myabetic cases for their t:slim, YAY!)

Is there a time frame in place for the PLGS ( predictive low glucose suspend) update?

As Tandem continues to build on the t:slim X2 platform after Dexcom G5 CGM integration is offered, the next feature they’re planning to launch on the X2 is a predictive low glucose suspend algorithm. This will be their first-generation artificial pancreas product. The IDE for a feasibility study has been approved by the FDA and the study is scheduled to be completed in August. Tandem expects to file another IDE for a pivotal study in early Q4 and, based on the typical review timing, anticipate that the study will take place in Q1 2017.

The goal to launch PLGS by the end of 2017 remains unchanged. Tandem anticipates a six-month review process for this first-generation pump algorithm because it will come on the heels of an FDA review of the t:slim X2 with G5 CGM integration. The only differing feature will be the algorithm. The X2 plus PLGS, with all the features and benefits of t:slim, will be competitive with other AP pump offerings as it predicts hypoglycemia, which poses the greatest risk for people with diabetes.

The second-generation AP pump algorithm will also be based on the t:slim X2 platform and will include the treat-to-target AP technology that Tandem recently licensed from TypeZero, as well as Dexcom CGM technology. To date, TypeZero’s technology has been used in more than 28 clinical studies with more than 475 people, with data referenced in a number of journal articles. They anticipate that this agreement will allow Tandem to remain on schedule for a pivotal trial in 2017, followed by commercial launch in 2018.

Users will be able to update their pump software remotely with the X2 – what does that process be like for PWD?

Here’s a little testimonial:

For pumpers already on the t:slim, what are their upgrade options? 

Online here:

t:slim Pump customers who received their pump on or after July 1, 2016: Any customer who received a t:slim Pump on or after July 1, 2016 qualifies for a new t:slim X2 Pump at no cost. The no-cost upgrade is set to expire at the end of 2016. If folks choose to upgrade after December 31, 2016, they will still have the option for a fee of $399. Interested customers should visit and complete the “Get Started” form or contact Tandem directly at (877) 801-6901.

t:slim Pump customers who received their pump before July 1, 2016: Any customer who received a t:slim Pump before July 1, 2016 qualifies for a new t:slim X2 Pump for either $399 or $799 depending on their date of purchase. Interested customers should visit and complete the “Get Started” form or contact Tandem directly at (877) 801-6901.

t:slim G4 Pump customers: t:slim G4 Pump customers do not qualify for a free upgrade, but do have upgrade options available to them ranging between $399 and $799. Interested customers should visit and complete the “Get Started” form or contact Tandem directly at (877) 801-6901.

t:flex Pump customers: t:flex Pump customers do not qualify for an upgrade to a t:slim X2 Pump, since it is prescribed specifically for its larger insulin capacity. Any change from a t:flex Pump to one with only a 300-unit insulin capacity will required a change in prescription and likely proof of medical necessity for their insurance company.

Note: These t:flex Pump customers could also opt for the 30-day return policy if they bought within the appropriate window and choose a pump with an upgrade path, if their healthcare provider feels this is a better long-term solution for them.

Once Tandem has the Dexcom integration and AP features, will it still allow you to use the Share/Follow apps on your phone?

From what I last heard, Tandem is working on a mobile app for use with all Bluetooth-enabled Tandem pumps, with the goal of providing their customers the option to see integrated pump and CGM information on their pump, their smartphone, or both. Rumor has it that Tandem is also in discussions with Dexcom to determine the best way to integrate pump information from the Tandem App with CGM information from their next-generation CGM display app.

Is there any information on the little asterisk and note in regards to the remote update of software for a fee? Will there be a fee involved to update?

Dexcom G5 CGM integration will be provided to all t:slim X2 Pump users at no charge. It seems that Tandem anticipates that some feature rollouts will be at no cost for in-warranty customers and that they might charge for others. The determination regarding cost will be made individually for each software update.

How can new pumpers/pumpers looking to switch get more information?

Here is the information page on the Tandem website.

New Pumpers, feel free to contact Tandem at (877) 801-6901, Monday-Friday 6am-5pm Pacific Time, or visit the Tandem website

Pumpers looking to switch, feel free to contact Tandem at (877) 801-6901, Monday-Friday 6am-5pm Pacific Time, or visit their website and fill out the Get Started form.


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