Author: woodonwheels

High Times in Jacksonville

For my birthday, A-Flizzle surprised me with a trip to Jacksonville for a weekend of good food, good times, and great friends. It was such a surprise! I never saw it coming. I was all, “Hey, I’m going to work” and she was like, “No, we’re going on a weekend getaway” and I was like, “Oh wow, I’m so surprised! This is so cool!”

Okay, who are we kidding? I hate surprises, and she knows it. That’s why she’s a keeper. To prevent me from freaking out, A-Flizzle made this awesome timeline of what was going on and where we needed to be. Actually, calling it a timeline doesn’t really do it justice…it was a FUNline. Look at this picture while I do the pencil sharpener…

Birthday Funline 2013

Friday started with a beermaster’s tour of the Budweiser brewery in Jacksonville. Upon arrival, I struck up a conversation with the tour guide who noticed my insulin pump. She couldn’t quite grasp how in the world I could possibly have Type 1 diabetes and drink a beer, at the same time. It’s not an exact science, but I explained to her the basic idea of factoring in blood sugar levels and counting carbs and dosing enough insulin to cover the difference, just like anything else we people with diabetes (PWD’s) eat or drink. Yes, I know there’s some long division and a square root of Pi and other fuzzy math that goes into calculating carbs and insulin when drinking alcohol for some PWD’s, but your diabetes may vary (YDMV). Suffice it to say, it was nice to meet someone in the beer brewing industry who was legitimately interested in how everyone might be able to enjoy what they put so much effort into making.

Birthay 2013 - Beer from the Keg

The tour was fascinating, and getting to sample beer directly from the ice cold tanks was delightful. There is no way to get a fresher beer than that. One lady on the tour, who didn’t even like beer, even became a convert. I’ve got a newfound respect for the Budweiser brand of beers now, and the care that goes into making each and every one. It’s a process of Willy Wonka proportions, and I’d highly recommend the tour if you every have the opportunity. Also, the gift shop is a great place after you’ve had a couple. Just saying. (I left with a Landshark beach umbrella and a hoodie with a built-in beer koozie on the front. So…yeah. In my defense, I did pick those things out BEFORE the tour.)

Birthday 2013 - Amanda and Martin and Beer Kegs

I also found my dream job in the Budweiser brewery…

Birthday 2013 - Dream Job

Afterwards, we met up with Jacquie and the family for dinner: Mediterranean food, for the win! Nothing chases an afternoon at the brewery like chicken shwarma. Shwarma…mmm. Just sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

The next morning, my pal Bob and I were supposed to get up and go for a bike ride. However, it was cold-ish, and the temperature was not appealing to my sense of get out of the warm bed and go pedal at all. After texting back and forth for a bit about it, we decided to do what any normal person who doesn’t feel like braving the cool air to go on a bike ride does on a Saturday morning.

We went and ate bacon.

After that, A-Flizzle and I made our way toward the spa, where she had us lined up for a facial and a 1-hour deep tissue massage, respectively. Now, I’ve gotten a massage before, and my pump was never a big deal for the masseuse. In fact, every massage that I’ve ever gotten, I was able to keep my pump on and just slide it to the side and the masseuse was able to work around the tubing and the infusion set. No big deal, right?

Except, this masseuse was different. Although she was plenty nice enough, and she did a spectacular job of getting some of the knots out of my back and neck and shoulders, she was really weirded out by the idea of having to work around my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sensor and insulin pump and infusion set. Because I needed that ding dang massage more than I needed diabetes at that moment, I decided to dose a couple of extra units for the hour, and then I took off my CGM sensor and my insulin pump so that I could get some relief. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

In hindsight, I should have just let the masseuse be uncomfortable. Once the hour was up, I was a blob of mostly relaxation. A-Flizzle and I took a leisurely pace back to our room, at which time I stupidly decided a birthday cupcake was in order. A cupcake? Really?! Dumbass. Then I proceeded to get a shower, which was delightful, and full of hot water, and a window that I could look out of while scrubbing off eucalyptus oil. I’m like a cat. I can’t resist a good window to look out of. Hours of entertainment. Fortunately, the hot water didn’t last.

Keep in mind, I failed to put my insulin pump back on through this entire episode of Birthday for Dummies with Diabetes.

By the time I got done taking my sweet time with everything, my blood sugar was through the roof. I don’t even remember what it was by the time I put a new infusion set in and reconnected my insulin pump. Probably somewhere around 1,000,000 and rising. I felt like crap. Way to ruin your own birthday there, Wood. Brilliant.

I dosed the snot out of the high in hopes that I could get it at least dropping by the time we had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the whole wide world, 13 Gypsies. I was moderately successful, but really had to focus dinner on the lower carb items and lots of water to try and offset the effects of the afternoon.

Birthday 2013 - Martin and Amanda

See those eyes? That’s not glassy eyed from birthday beers. That’s worn out from fighting a high blood sugar all afternoon. I’d have preferred the former.

I guess the moral of this story is to never disconnect your insulin pump and remove the inset unless you have another one handy for immediately after whatever necessitated your getting naked. Because I am the last person in the world to vote against being naked. Also, maybe tell the spa and masseuse that you have type 1 diabetes and use an insulin pump so that they don’t freak the eff out when they see that you’re bionic.

Maybe also do this in an Austin Powers voice, just for style points. Yeah baby!

Briar Patch

I’m not perfect. There, I said it.

The past few days have been a rollercoaster of educational opportunities and lessons learned for me. It’s as if I’m stuck in the Robert Frost poem about two trails diverging in the woods, and I’m constantly finding myself on the one that is less traveled.

Of course, the road less traveled is the one that is supposed to make all the difference. That whole “thrive through adversity” thing, I guess. If I’m being honest though, it’s exhausting always traveling that path. Sometimes I’d like to just travel the well worn option, where I can proceed without so much resistance.

I remember my mom telling me when I was growing up that when you’re stressed out and upset, you have to find your stressors, and get rid of them. That sounds so easy, but in reality, there are a lot of stressors that we have no control over. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s never going to be perfect, right, or appropriate for everybody.

That is exactly where I’m at right now. From nasty emails that completely blow non-issues out of proportion, to trying to lead a group of people with shifting priorities in all directions, to dealing with supposed professionals behaving unprofessionally, I feel like I’m traveling down a path that more closely resembles a briar patch than it does a simple path less traveled.

It’s hard not to internalize times like these, especially when there are conflicting reports about whether or not you are doing a good job. It’s hard not to take it personal. Sometimes I just need someone to say, “Martin, I know this is hard, and I know you feel like the world is against you because of these few small things, but you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you.” Preferably in the Stuart Smalley voice. Short of that, I’d settle for someone that knows just telling me that I’m doing the right thing, because sometimes I’m just doing the best I can and hoping that is good enough.

I guess this is the part that I could link to diabetes. Fortunately, and thankfully, it’s not my diabetes that is giving me the hardest time right now. I’m waiting on new test strips to get approved by my insurance company and arrive, sure. I need to order pump supplies, of course. But really, those things are just another day with the “D.”

I did get to Skype with some amazing Students With Diabetes from Tampa last night, and that was awesome! I love hanging out with people with diabetes (PWDs), even if it is virtually. They certainly reminded me that not all is awful in the world, and even if we get the diabetes blues, PWDs are resilient and forever hopeful.

SWD_02_06_2013

That is what I have to remember right now. There is hope. Better days are just around the corner. You can’t please everybody, and sometimes it really doesn’t matter what you do, some people have made up their minds from the start that they are going to proceed with their panties in a wad or their boxers in a bunch. I just have to be consistent, and stay positive, briar patch or not.

The advice I gave to the Students With Diabetes last night about diabetes blues is that if you can find a way to laugh about it, you can overcome it.

That said, who wants to get me one of these Lionel Richie cheese plates for my birthday on Saturday? Or you could just donate to my Tour de Cure and help me kick diabetes in the teeth. Either way, you da best, and I thank you from the bottom of my busted pancreas.

HelloBrieOR

ADATdC2013

 

Finding My Inner Ryan Reynolds

Every year right around this time we all dream up our New Year’s resolutions. Some form of weight loss, get in shape, go on a diet, or eat healthy is almost always at the top of everyone’s New Year’s list. This year, I’m feeling the stretch, and I realize that I need to do something to get back to my size 4 bikini body again.

Actually, I don’t even know what that means. I just heard it on an infomercial for some kind of magic beans that are supposed to make your clothes fit better. Truth be known, they probably have a better chance of turning into a beanstalk and leading to a land of giants than they do making me lose weight.

I bet they are good with ham though. Anyway, moving on…

I freely admit that I weigh more than I want to right now. I’m overweight. Heck, I might even be considered obese by the current standards of  how big a person’s butt should and shouldn’t be. (And don’t you dare tell me what the difference is. I don’t want to know.) What I do know is that my clothes fit a little tighter than I would sometimes call comfortable. I can’t really button the top button on my dress shirts right now because my head and neck resemble Jabba the Hut. If someone told me to haul ass, it’s questionable if it would take me one trip or two to get it all. At least, that is how I feel.

BusinessJabba

I’d love to lose some of the extra pounds that I’m carrying around. I know it would make me feel better, both inside and out. I mean, there is a Ryan Reynolds under all of this that is just waiting to get out. I’m just trying to find a real solid purpose that I can grab onto besides, “Skinny people are happier.” Oh yeah? With that kind of logic, rich people must also be less lonely, hairy people have more style, and short people enjoy the smell of toots. Give me a break. Happy has nothing to do with weight, just like loneliness has nothing to do with how much money you have.

And everybody hates the smell of toots. Unless you’re a proctologist. Then it just smells like money.

When I signed up for my last gym membership, my goal was simple: I wanted to look good naked. I could have said that I wanted to be able to run a marathon, or be in good enough shape to teach spin class, or ride my bike for miles and miles and miles, but…well…yeah, naked. You have your goals, I have mine. Unfortunately, 2012 was a really hard year for me to establish and maintain a routine of exercise, working out, riding my bike, and keeping active consistently, and I feel like I’ve lost my way a bit. I could blame it on a chaotic schedule, being overwhelmed by other things going on, not having enough time, or that the Mayan’s had predicted that the world was going to end anyway, so why bother. When it really comes down to it though, it was me. I didn’t take time or make time, and I realize that I really need time to exercise and work out for both my physical and mental well being.

In order to change all of that for 2013, A-Flizzle and I worked extremely hard in our garage over the holidays to get it organized so that we could have a functional workout space that would be available despite my busy and often chaotic schedule. If I want to work out at 11 o’clock at night, I can. I don’t have a bunch of expensive equipment, but what I do have I can definitely make the most of now. I’m SUPER excited about it.

GarageGym

In 2013, I’m trying to get back to establishing consistent exercise routines. I’ve really got to find a way to make time to train and get to where I want to be. The first place I want to be is on my bike in a few months for the Tour de Cure. My goal is to train consistently this Spring so that I can complete the 100 mile century bike ride in May. From there, who knows? Hopefully by then there will be other bike rides that I can train for. Or maybe even a triathlon. Wouldn’t that be exciting?! But, first things first.

I know that exercise is only part of the story. In order to get fit and have a set of abs worthy of doing laundry on (thanks Ryan Reynolds for setting THAT bar so high), I realize that I also have to eat right. What does “eat right” even mean these days? I look at all of the options for supposed “eating right” and I wonder how in the world I can adopt something like Weight Watchers, Atkins, Paleo, eating clean, gluten free, zero trans fat, and all the other whoop-tee-do diets out there for the rest of my life. I don’t want to make a change that gets me to where I want to be with my size and weight, just to reach that goal and balloon back to being the fat kid that I am now all over again. I also don’t want to not be able to have a Burger King fish sandwich WITH fries when I have one of these:

BG24

Basically, I’m a walking contradiction.

Weight Watchers I don’t get because of the point system. It’s difficult for me to understand how a banana (about 24 carbs, take or give) is zero points. It sure doesn’t feel like zero points when I’m having to bolus for the carbs and then check my blood sugar a couple of hours later to make sure I guesstimated properly and am not sitting at 300. Fruit is like jet fuel for blood sugars when you have Type 1 diabetes (YDMV – your diabetes may vary). “Free food” is really just a matter of perspective. Yet it works for so many people.

Then there is Atkins. How is it healthy to eat that much meat? I mean, essentially the diet is a version of a low carb diet, but it also talks about putting your body into ketoacidosis. Aren’t we supposed to be staying OUT of ketoacidosis? Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can mean a hospital trip for many of us people with diabetes (PWDs). But there again, it works for so many people.

Correction: It’s KETOSIS, not ketoacidosis. Easy to get confused. Thanks Allison!

Those are just two examples, and clearly I don’t understand all of the ins and outs of them all. I see info about this meal plan and that weight loss option, conflicting testimonies and experiences, and I can’t seem to come to any conclusion about what is right for me. It is this lack of understanding that is paralyzing my decision making process on what it means, for me, to “eat right.” I see successes and failures with every single option. How do you pick one? Which one is the “right” one? It’s like walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Can’t I just get the one that is delicious and has the best prize?

I don’t have an answer. I probably just need to commit to something and try it. For now, I know I can work out. I enjoy that, and even look forward to it once I get into the routine. Maybe my rule needs to be, “If you eat it, burn it.” Or maybe it’s, “Sweat like a pig to look like a fox.” It’s one of those. In any case, we’ll call it the “Running on Fumes” plan, and I’ll try to talk Chuck Norris into being my spokesperson. After all, Chuck Norris never loses weight; he knows exactly where it is, and it’s very afraid of him.

Outlook for 2013

In 2012, I was a bit quiet on my blog and even online within the diabetes online community (DOC). I spent the majority of 2012 offline with diabetes, working in real life with groups like Students With Diabetes, and spending the bulk of my time professionally in my job as a medical librarian. Now that 2013 is upon me, I want to get my voice back, realizing that time and puberty experience may have changed some of what I have to say.

I get frustrated when I see folks posting so many “woe is me” blog posts, Facebook statuses, and even Tweets about how awful life with diabetes is. I get that, believe me. We all have our bad days, and I’m no exception. The frustration I feel is when that seems to be all that they are sharing, as if living life with diabetes is like walking around in a cloud of filth like Pigpen from the Peanuts gang.

Pigpen

I don’t want to be someone who parades around in a sea of hate because I have diabetes. Diabetes doesn’t own me, and I work extremely hard to never let it. Diabetes is not all bad. It’s a challenge, certainly. Life with diabetes is not going to always be easy, but it’s not going to always be the thing that demands every single second of my attention either. The same can be said for life without diabetes. If diabetes took up every single minute of every single day, none of us would have time for jobs, families, hobbies, or any other activity that is really what makes life worth dragging our carcasses out of bed for every morning.

I like to think that diabetes is more like a sleezy landlord in my body that I have to pay rent to (insulin, time, attention to details) and deal with quarterly walkthroughs of my proverbial apartment (trips to the endo) to continue living in its good graces. If I want to renew the lease on this walking shack of mine every year, then I have to do my job and take care of the things that were featured on the lease agreement that was forced upon me.

In 2013, things are changing. I’ve taken the first steps by completely redesigning Diabetically Speaking so that it is available to everyone via their mobile phone, tablet, or computer. All of the old posts are still there, but I needed to give my site and myself a refresh.

2012 was an election year, and it seemed like there was so much hate flying around. People that I thought I knew better showed (and in many cases are still showing) a side of themselves that I simply can’t support. It really made me feel like I couldn’t trust people, or myself, because I had made such a mistake in my judgement of their character. I’m not a hateful person, and I can’t operate with disdain toward people just because they don’t match my politics, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, income level, education level, gender, or any other measuring stick that people seem to choose when comparing others to themselves. In 2013, I am not going to tolerate that nonsense in my world. It yields no good. I am all for free speech and sharing of opinions, even if I don’t necessarily agree, but I believe we can do it with some human decency and respect for each other. Type 1 diabetes does not discriminate based on any of these things, which tells me that a stupid autoimmune system malfunction may have more sense than some of the rest of us walking around. Like diabetes, I want to give people an equal opportunity, because we all need someone who gets it, and gets us.

Finally, I’m not going to set specific goals for myself in 2013. In previous years I’ve set a list of goals, and some of them I accomplished, and some of them I didn’t. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t make a bit of difference. This year, I feel like I need to leave some room for the unexpected, and paint with a broader brush. I’m not going to force myself to lose X number of pounds, pay off X number of bills, pedal X number of miles, or write X number of blog posts. I’m going to set myself up for success, not failure, and I’m going to do what I can in hopes that it will be enough. I’m going to lose SOME weight, I’m going to pay off A bill, and I’m going to ride SOME miles and work my way back into riding shape, and share everything that is going on in my world WHEN I can.

This year, I want to find happiness, be kind, and seek greatness. I want to practice random acts of kindness, because despite appearances and our own biases, you never know just how bad the person sitting next to you may have it. Above all, I want to approach the world in 2013 like it’s an adventure, and let that lead me wherever it may.

Snoopy Ace

How About No Bear

Social Media and Medicine

Today, October 1, 2012 is “No D Day.” Today is the annual day to take a step away from diabetes, to do something different, to share something new, and to not mention the “D” word that so many of us live with every single minute of every single day. For me, it’s even more special, because this is the first time that I’ve visited my blog to share with the world in over two months.

You can find all of the “No D Day” posts on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #noDday, or you can visit Ninjabetic.com for a list with links. I hope you enjoy this and all of the “No D-Day” posts today. As always, we will continue to work, and share, and push for a future where every day is a…

No D Day 2012

I’m a joker. No, not like the Steve Miller Band song (although, that is a great song…”I’m a joker, I’m a smok…” Nevermind.). What I mean is, I love a good laugh. Lately, I feel like I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to laugh as much. I haven’t had time to stop and appreciate the humor in things. I haven’t had time to stop and sniff the chihuahua eating venus fly traps. (What? Those TOTALLY exist.)

Most of my time lately has been spent working and traveling for work. In the past three weeks I have been up and down the state of Florida three times teaching physicians and medical students all about how social media and medicine collide. Basically, this is what happens during the Social Media and Medicine workshop.

First, my colleague and I get a bunch of physicians and lock them in a classroom. Then we start to mention social media, Facebook, Twitter, and the fact that people are sharing information online, and they go all…

How About No Bear

Then they spend two hours being exposed to all the various social media vehicles, why social media is important, how patients and physicians are actually using social media for good, and they start to get all…

Finally, by the end of the workshop, we reach the point of…

Dammit Jim LOLcat

That’s when we know that our work is done, and we move on to the next workshop in another city. Nothing makes me happier than a health professional embracing LOLcats. Okay, LOLcats and social media. I love being a medical librarian! And soon, I hope to slow down enough to share more of my world with everyone again.

(Also, this was my very first blog post using a MacBook Air that a friend let me test drive for a week. TOTALLY different than the PC that I’m most familiar with and accustomed to, but I have to say…I kind of love it. Dear Santa Claus, I’ve been really good (mostly) this year…)

Monument Tattoos - Diabetic - 07-20-2012

D-inked

For this (sort of) Wordless Wednesday, I bring you the live tweeting and photo adventure of getting a diabetes tattoo. Big ups to Matt Manning at Monument Tattoos in Tallahassee, Florida for listening to what I was looking for and translating that into a wicked awesome piece of body art with a practical purpose. One of my low blood sugar tells is that I sometimes lose the ability to talk and communicate properly. This is especially problematic when I need to get someone’s attention and make them aware that I need a little help. The idea behind a diabetes tattoo was that it would be something that is always on me, and I could hopefully indicate (e.g., point to it, gesture at it, hit someone over the head with it) in the event that I need some assistance. And it would look awesome as sh**. Your diabetes may vary.

Monument Tattoos - Diabetic - 07-20-2012

Photo courtesy of Monument Tattoos

FFL12 - Team Type 1 Session

Team Type 1 and Life With Diabetes

Friends For Life is not just for children with diabetes. It isn’t just for adults with diabetes. It is also for parents, grandparents, siblings, significant others, and friends of people with diabetes. Friends For Life is for those who need hope, who need help, and who need reassurance that anything is possible for people with diabetes, whether they themselves have diabetes or not.

Phil Southerland, founder of Team Type 1, lives to prove that anything is possible with diabetes. I’ve seen the presentation of the story of Team Type 1 several times, but Friends For Life was the first time that I’ve seen it directed to parents and caregivers of children with diabetes.

FFL12 - Team Type 1 Session

Phil started by introducing himself, and sharing the story of how he and his mom dealt with the reality of the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes when he was a small child. I can relate to Phil’s story, as I was diagnosed at about the same time he was. I was two years old when I was diagnosed, and though doctors tried to fill my parents with hope that a cure was on the way, the reality of the diagnosis at that time, and for me at such a young age, was not as optimistic as it is today.

But Phil and I both made it, and we got to experience the Team Type 1 session at Friends For Life 2012 with one of us on stage, and the other (me) out in the audience observing how parents with the same diagnosis as our parents received about us were trying to figure everything out.

I was so happy to see the room full of orange bracelets (worn by those without diabetes). Friends For Life is ultimately a Children With Diabetes conference, and with the exception of an Adult T1 Track, it is geared primarily to children and their caregivers. For this session, I was actually the one in the room that wasn’t where I was supposed to be. Not really a surprise, as I’m rarely where I’m supposed to be, but still, it thrilled me to see so many parents who were interested in learning that their kids can do ANYTHING with diabetes.

Several of the parents in the room had specific questions for Phil about how to manage their child’s diabetes in various situations, such as while swimming, playing soccer, and other sporty situations. Something I see often with parents, especially those parents whose child is recently diagnosed, is that they want black and white, straightforward, no argument answers about how to deal with some aspect of their child’s diabetes. They don’t want it to be as “bad” as it is.

The truth of the matter is that diabetes is not black & white. It is gray, purple, green, yellow, and every other color of the rainbow. Although it has its tough days, living with diabetes is one of the best things that ever happened to me. If you ask Phil, he will tell you the same. With diabetes, you have to really know your body, pay attention to it, and as a result many people with diabetes (PWDs) are as healthy or healthier than a lot of people without diabetes. I find a lot of strength in that.

The specifics of diabetes varies for every single person. Honeymoon periods (the period of time for some recently diagnosed Type 1 diabetics where their body is still producing small amounts of insulin, which typically decreases as time goes by) last for weeks, or months. Low blood sugar symptoms show up at a BG (blood glucose level) of 110 mg/dl or 45 mg/dl, and sometimes not at all. Every single person with diabetes varies.

Phil’s best advice to the parents, and something I agree with him 100% on, is to let children become the CEO of their own body. Keep focused, but learn and let children learn from their diabetes successes and mistakes. Blame does not breed learning.

If your child has a low blood sugar, it’s not your fault, and it’s not their fault. If your child has a high blood sugar, it’s not your fault either, nor is it their fault. The same applies if you have Type 1 diabetes yourself. That is diabetes, and over three decades of living well with diabetes has taught me that it is critical to remove the emotion from diabetes numbers, such as blood sugar levels and A1C values.

It’s just data, and it isn’t telling you that you are doing it right or doing it wrong. Only a human can assign emotion to math. A blood glucose meter cannot do that. Take diabetes data with the same face value as a road sign or a traffic light: It is a cue that some sort of action needs to take place, whether that action is to make an adjustment, stop, proceed with caution, or keep going and you’re doing great!

The next time your child comes home from school, resist the urge to immediately ask them what their last BG reading was, or how they are feeling, if they need a snack, or how many carbs did they eat for lunch. Instead, ask them to tell you about the most exciting thing to happen to them that day. You may be surprised to learn that diabetes is not the most exciting part of their world, so don’t make it the most exciting part of your world either (unless you’re at Friends For Life).

Life comes first.

Friends For Life 2012 - A Whole New World

Don’t Just Do Nothing

Last Thursday morning officially kicked off the Friends For Life 2012 conference program. Appropriately, for me, it started with a plate full of bacon. I love breakfast any time, but I especially love breakfast at Friends For Life. Imagine being in an environment where everything you want to eat, from salads and entrees to sides and desserts, is carb counted, serving sizes are indicated, and everything is delicious. That’s food at Friends For Life.

A very special thanks to one Mike Schurig, aka Food Dude, for all of the yellow and green cards indicating nutritional values, making sure that there were Celiac-friendly options, and for helping to make sure that people with diabetes (PWDs) and their families had excellent food options to choose from.

Coupled with breakfast on Thursday morning was the opening keynote address by Tom Karlya, aka Diabetes Dad. He encouraged everyone at Friends For Life to not be satisfied with sitting on the sidelines, but to get up and do something to make a difference in the world, no matter how big or small it may seem. Then he showed us this video of Derek Redmond and his father from the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Tom had a very simple message for everyone: Don’t just do nothing. Friends For Life was started because one family was going on vacation in Orlando, Florida and they decided to spread the word and see who all else with diabetes might show up. 500 people showed up, and Friends For Life was born.

I had a boss once who said to think about the things that people would remember 100 years from now, and make those things the focus of your life’s work. I can’t say for certain that there is anything that I have done (yet) that will be remembered 100 years from now, but if I can make the life of a person with diabetes better, then I feel like I’m on the right track.

Don’t just sit on the sidelines when you know that there are people in the world that you can help. Like Derek Redmond’s dad, get up, push through the barriers, and act. As much help as we may need ourselves, we can do even more when we help each other. Together, we can make a difference. That is what Friends For Life is about, that is what Students With Diabetes is about, and that is what being a person with diabetes should be about. We can self-promote ourselves all day long, and sometimes that is exactly what it takes to get things moving in a positive direction, but at the end of the day it is the lives that we have made better that count the most.

Friends For Life 2012 - A Whole New World

Friends For Life 2012

Friends For Life 2012

The world is full of both extroverts and introverts; individuals who gain energy and fulfillment through being around and engaging groups of people, as well as individuals who thrive better when they have time to themselves and are not as engaged socially.

There are all sorts of definitions and distinctions of what makes someone an extrovert or an introvert. You could take 20 personality tests and read the entire self help section of your local bookstore and still not have a clear definition of the two classifications for all situations.

For me, that is the kicker. I tend to sort of meander between extrovert and introvert depending on the situation. I love being a part of big groups, sharing information, having both normal and nonsensical discussions, and feel like I’m being included, if not leading the experience. However, I sometimes reach a point where I also need my “me” time to figure things out on my own and reflect, plan, scheme, and let my thoughts run wild without the constraints of appropriateness to the situation.

When I need to be an extrovert, I gravitate toward situations where chances are good that I will be at or near the center of attention. As an introvert, you can sometimes find me in a state of observation, quiet, seemingly on the outside looking in.

I’m like this with diabetes as well. There are times that I am perfectly comfortable wearing the proverbial tights and cape and hooker boots that make up the Super Diabetic persona (hey, it worked for Superman…don’t judge me), educating the masses about the ways of the ‘beetus, managing meals in a single bolus, calculating carb and blood sugar ratios in my head faster than a speeding bullet, and encouraging the newly diagnosed and recently overwhelmed with a healthy dose of You Can Do This.

There are also times when I don’t want to deal with my diabetes, much less try to convince other people that it is easy or that I have everything under control. Sometimes, with diabetes, it’s hard, and I suck at it. Not most of the time, thankfully, but sometimes it is overwhelming and I just need some time to reflect and figure things out.

Friends For Life 2012

This past week I was at Friends For Life 2012, which is this extrovert’s dream come true, yet there were times that I found myself reserved and low-key. I spent quite a bit of time listening and observing, sometimes clinging more to my introvert tendencies to try and figure everything out than clamoring for attention and putting my diabetes on stage and in the spotlight. This wasn’t my first Friends For Life, and I didn’t feel as if I was around strangers that I needed to figure out. I just wanted a fresh perspective, for both myself and my diabetes.

I really needed a week with people with diabetes. There is something extremely special about food buffets that have carb counts on them, not being looked at strange for whipping out a BG kit and pricking my fingers in public, and people that understand what a glucoaster is and are riding it all week right along with you.

Now that I’m back home, I’m putting together my thoughts on some things that I learned this past week. From all the things that can come with diabetes beyond just insulin, to amazing things that people with diabetes can do, to challenges with the FDA, observations of parents of children with diabetes, and even the diabetes online community in real life, I’ve got plenty to think about and share. But first, I need a night to rest after a week of staying up until the wee hours of the morning every night. After all, nobody goes to Friends For Life to catch up on sleep.

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Diabetes Supreme

Today there is cause for people with type 1 diabetes and other pre-existing conditions to celebrate. The Supreme Court ruling confirms that people with diabetes (PWDs) will retain protection from insurance discrimination, and parents can rest easier knowing that their children with diabetes will be covered for life-saving diabetes supplies until at least age 26, when they can get their own insurance without fear of being denied because they are insulin-dependent. Sure, the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but it’s one step closer to not having to fear how we are going to get that next vial of insulin, test strips, and other necessities to stay alive. We can rest assured that diabetes won’t prevent us from getting health care, because diabetes is a big reason we, people with diabetes, need health care to begin with.

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