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Diabetes at AADE’14

In August, diabetes educators from all over the nation traveled to Orlando, Florida to attend the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting 2014. I did too. These are my stories.

*ching, ching* (Law and Order style)

AADE 2014

A fellow medical librarian and I arrived at AADE on Wednesday afternoon and went directly toward the Exhibit Hall and registration desk. We were sort of attending last minute, so we knew we would just have to feel out the schedule and learn as much as we could with the short time that we had at AADE. Our goal was to talk to as many folks as possible in an effort to learn what we need to continue work on a diabetes project that we are working on. (More to come on that…say, around November 14th or so. Seems like as good of a date as any. *wink, wink*)

First and foremost, the Exhibit Hall at AADE is enormous compared to the medical librarian conferences that we are accustomed to. Even though some have reported about how AADE is shrinking, it still feels like a big deal to me every time that I go. All two times that I’ve gone. Whatever, it still feels big, and important, and like people making a difference is happening or on the cusp of happening all around me while I’m there.

I had seen it last year at the Philadelphia AADE, but this was my colleague’s first time, and it was quite a shock to her. We started where everybody starts their first trek through the Exhibit Hall…on the side that doesn’t have salespeople staring at us and licking their chops like hungry wolves.

Some folks walk into something like AADE and own the joint. They know exactly what sessions they are going to, what they want to get out of it, who they want to talk to, and are prepared for all of the free stuff that they can carry back home to their practice and patients. If a burro is used, so be it. You get no judgement from me. For this AADE visit, I just wanted to talk to as many people as possible, and learn as much as I could. And I did, often in unexpected ways.

I learned a lot about how Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) think about people with diabetes, and that isn’t a bad thing. I learned that a lot of them even have diabetes themselves (both Type 1 and Type 2), which is encouraging. I think it is so important for our healthcare team to understand us, what we need, and what we don’t need as people with diabetes. I wish some folks outside of our healthcare team were more interested in understanding us the way that so many of the CDEs that I met yearn to.

I learned that some CDEs think that us diabetes advocates and diabetes bloggers should be regulated, have an advisory board, and be held to medical standards. There is an assumption, and heck, maybe it’s even true sometimes, that we all give medical advice on our blogs. Fortunately, I know that isn’t true of all of us who share our lives and stories with diabetes online. I stand alongside so many in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) who do not give medical advice, but can still be a valuable asset to living with diabetes. We understand the burden, and can help you carry it when you feel like the weight is just too much. Sometimes it is enough just to know that someone else “gets it,” and that is where the DOC (in my opinion) is the strongest.

I can’t tell you how many units of insulin you should dose for that hamburger for your diabetes. That is between you and your healthcare team. I can tell you this though: If you don’t have a CDE who you can call at any time, day or night, to ask questions about your diabetes, you should find one or find a new one. The CDEs and other health professionals that I talked to at AADE want you to call them. They want to help with your diabetes. They do not want to have to visit you in the hospital when all it would have taken was a five minute phone call at eleven o’clock at night to get their expertise. And if you do have to go to the hospital, they want to be there for you and help you through. I was touched by how caring the CDEs that I met at AADE were, and to be honest, they far exceeded my assumptions and expectations.

On the second day, as we were wandering around the Exhibit Hall, I found that I couldn’t make a decision. About anything. We were trying to figure out what to have for lunch in the cafeteria section at the back of the hall, and I kept getting in line and getting out of line, not able to figure out what to do once I got to the register to order. I was getting so angry and frustrated, but the only real sign my colleague could decipher was that I was ticked off about something. And I was. I was extremely ticked that I was low, and I had to take time out for diabetes in the middle of a diabetes conference (of all places), and that it was ruining my time there to learn and network.

I finally just sat down in the middle of the Exhibit Hall (like you do when you’re low) and started sucking down Level gels like it was my job. Standing and walking and wandering was just too much work for my low-brainy self. I am so thankful for those gels, as well as the CDE who was sitting across from my quietly noticing my lowness and keeping her eye on things. It’s moments like this one at AADE when my hands aren’t cooperating, I can’t think, and I’m on the verge of whether I can chew and focus enough to swallow that the gels save me. I also appreciate my colleague sticking with me, figuring out what was going on after I was having trouble talking and was breaking out the Level gels, and not rushing me or making me feel like I was taking away from her AADE experience while having to deal with my low blood sugar nonsense.

I guess if you’re going to go low, there aren’t many better places than in the middle of over 2,000 diabetes educators.

Silver Linings

Assuming Positive Intent

I’m disappointed in us. We, people with diabetes, active and vocal members of the diabetes online community (DOC), who are supposed to be there for each other, support each other, lending an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, an “I’m high” joke, and the occasional insulin pump reservoir or extra CGM sensor, are demonstrating clear and present signs of being a bunch of jerks.

Over the weekend news broke about Jeffrey Brewer leaving JDRF. He posted on his Facebook page…

JeffreyBrewer_FBPost_07-20-2014

Jeffrey, in his tenure as the top dog over at JDRF, seemed to give those of us who are adults with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) something we could get behind and support. We felt listened to, for a change. The re-branding of JDRF under his helm, and the focus on those things that make living with diabetes better, and still the same focus for the as yet unattainable holy grail cure for diabetes, inspired us. As adults with diabetes, we felt like we could really support the efforts of JDRF, some of us for the first time, and some of us again after years of feeling left outside of the scope of what JDRF does. We could imagine living better with Type 1 diabetes, something that the world often does a better job of telling us we can’t do.

I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of what is going on behind closed doors at JDRF. I am a new member of the JDRF Type 1 Diabetes Voices Council, and I found out the news at the same time as the rest of the world (or at least the Facebook world). I’d be upset about that, but honestly, I get most of my news from Facebook and Twitter anyway. If it is important, someone will share it. And share it they did.

People from all over the internet expressed concerns about what would be next for JDRF. Overwhelmingly, nobody liked the idea that Jeffrey Brewer was leaving and moving on to whatever happens after you are a CEO of an international diabetes research foundation. I like to imagine that there is probably a lot of secret bases in volcanoes, flying Big Boys, sharks with laser beams, and fembots. I’ll report back when I get to that spot in my career. In the meantime, I wish Jeffrey Brewer nothing but the best as he moves forward.

On Monday, news hit the wire that Derek Rapp would be the new interim CEO of JDRF. My friend Amy, who is interning with JDRF this summer, wrote a great post detailing what was happening in JDRF HQ with all of this news.

JDRF_AmyFord_Transition_07-21-2014

Not surprisingly, change was met with extreme belligerency by some, a few folks who even went as far as creating a Change.org petition to have Derek Rapp denounced as the next CEO of JDRF. Some folks aren’t comfortable with Derek’s background with Monsanto, and want to blame Monsanto for causing increasing numbers of diabetes diagnoses, citing conflicts of interest and all kinds of claims. I won’t disagree that Monsanto is a questionable organization in many ways, but no successful company can be all bad and still be successful in business. That said, if you have the academic and scientific research that proves Monsanto is the cause of Type 1 diabetes, by all means stop reading this blog and go write that $h!t down right now, get it peer reviewed, get it published, and go collect your Nobel Prize. I’ll be the first person to congratulate you. Until then, all we’re doing by blaming and name calling is demonstrating that kids with diabetes grow up to be a-holes with diabetes.

Dayle summed up the organizational changes of JDRF (and ADA) quite well in her post yesterday…

Dayle_DiabetesOrgs_07-21-2014

With some people sharing excitement about the changes and some spewing venom, I imagined what it is like to be Derek’s son, who is a young adult with T1D. His son is also my friend through being a part of Students With Diabetes together. After thinking really hard about it, I want Turner to know that if he is sick of diabetes and is feeling overwhelmed and needs a friend, or if he rocks a no-hitter on his CGM and wants someone to share that with and celebrate, that I am here for him, always. I want him, and so many other people with diabetes just like him, to know that there is a community of compassionate people just a tweet, a Facebook status, a blog post, or a phone call away anytime that they are needed. I don’t want our diabetes community that I love and cherish to be spoiled by the rotten comments or actions of a few. The absolute last thing that I want is a person with diabetes to feel like they are alone and don’t have someone that they can share this stupid disease with. When we go off on a bashing spree about how evil someone is for taking the lead of a foundation that is focused on making our lives better, we are not being advocates for people with diabetes…we are being hypocrites.

My friend Tye Manor speaks to people about how he always tries to assume positive intent. In this JDRF leadership shift situation, I don’t know all of the background story, but I can make the choice to assume that the reasons for the changes are positive. I am going to assume that the changes are to make the lives of people with diabetes better, to make progress toward a cure, to hear our voices as people with diabetes, and to keep changing so that goals can be met and achievements can be realized. Until there is type none.

I choose to assume positive intent. I’m going to ask the question, “How can I help?” I’m going to be there on the front lines as we are making progress. I’m going to be the diabetes advocate and member of the diabetes online community that I want to see in others. I’m going to be that friend with diabetes that I didn’t have for the first 28 years of my life with diabetes. Because I’m selfish. I want better technologies, better therapies, and better ways to live with my diabetes. I want the bionic pancreas, real bad. I want an encapsulation device that allows me to not have to think about this diabetes nonsense anymore. And I want you to have all of these things too (except maybe diabetes). Because I love you, and I love that I am not alone, and I’m glad that you are a part of my world with diabetes.

And I have zero interest in either of us being alone with diabetes ever again. Pretty much whether you like it or not.

Elmira Hug

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.

USA Flag

MTV True Life: I Have Diabetes…and Support

So I’m a day late, but I watched the MTV True Life: I Have Diabetes episode last night, and I have a confession… I didn’t hate it.

The first thing some folks may want to jump on is that MTV didn’t get all the facts about diabetes exactly right. Well, that is true, but they were at least playing the correct sport in the correct ballpark, so to speak. I’m starting to think that the only way to get all of the facts right about diabetes is to simply not talk about it at all. I’ve had diabetes for more than three decades, and I don’t always get all the facts right either. So there. Overall, I think MTV did a good job, and presented a group of people and a subject that folks can actually care about (as opposed to “True Life: I Scratch Myself in Inappropriate Places in Public” or “True Life: I Toot Glitter and Crap Rainbows”).

Actually, I might would watch that last example. But anyway, moving on…

I could identify the most with Kristyn, a young girl in her mid-twenties with Type 1 diabetes who is faced with the realization of the abominably high costs of living as an adult with diabetes. Pumps, pump supplies, insulin, strips, pens, pills, and any other medications that we may have to take adds up to a lot, even with insurance. Without it, it’s kind of mind blowing how much this stupid disease can cost. I can relate because right now I’m starting the research of switching insurance companies just because my own costs are slowly but surely creeping into the danger zone. Diabetes already cost me my pancreas, so I’m not really interested in it costing me an arm and a leg to go with it. (See what I did there?)

I’m really proud of Kristyn, because she’s taking control and sacrificing her independence as an adult to get control of not only her diabetes, but also the cost of living with diabetes. That is a really, really hard thing to do, and it’s admirable that she’s not accepting failure as an option, even when it seems like an uphill battle. Although her mom came across as a bit overbearing on the show, support is incredibly important for all of us, whether we have diabetes or not, and I’m glad Kristyn has that.

Yesterday, Kristyn somehow found Kim’s post about the episode, and now she is connected to several members of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) via Twitter. I predict that it won’t be long before she is connected to more people with diabetes (PWD’s) both online and in real life, and is playing an even bigger role in our diabetes world. You read it here first.

Matt was someone else that I was a bit fascinated with. Matt is a college student, was portrayed as a party animal and heavy drinker, and also has Type 1 diabetes. Although I think Matt would do well with more support for living a high quality, action packed, totally excellent life as both a person and a person with diabetes, I wonder if he is ready. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it was easy to catch myself judging Matt as a college kid that just doesn’t care about his life with diabetes as much as he cares about being the life of the party. I know that I like to do extreme things and have adventures, but I also enjoy feeling like I’m in control of my diabetes while I do them, and not having to choose between the two options. In my world, the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. But that’s MY world. That is what works for ME. Your diabetes, and Matt’s diabetes, may and probably does vary. There is not right or wrong…there simply is.

I would really hate for Matt to feel like he is viewed as anything less than what appeared to be a nice guy, just because he was portrayed as enjoying an alcohol-heavy college lifestyle on MTV. When the time comes that he is ready for changes that work for HIS diabetes and HIS world, or even if he just wants to reach out and say hello diabetes world, then I will be one of the first people in line to welcome and support him and celebrate life right along with him. (Matt, if you get to read this, just say when buddy.)

I really didn’t have a lot that I could relate to with Jen, as her diabetes was discovered while she was pregnant with her son. I can’t imagine how hard it is to transition from a life of taking care of yourself to a life of taking care of you AND a child. Add in having to learn how to also take care of Type 1 diabetes, and that sounds like a lot to deal with. But I know without a doubt that it is possible, and there are an army of D-Moms and PWD Moms and even just us old standard PWD’s who are out there in the world and eager to help.

If this episode of True Life did nothing else, it reminded me that any one of these struggles with diabetes could be my struggle with diabetes. I am so thankful for the people that I have met that have helped me to realize that diabetes is a big priority in my world, and I hope to show them the same compassion and understanding that they have shown me. Diabetes is hard, and it’s no joke sometimes. Having a group of amazing people to joke about it with, however, makes all the difference in the world.

MTV Moon Man - CC License - Photo by Deidre Woollard
CC License - Photo by Deidre Woollard

Bringing Science Home

Lately, I’ve been zig-zagging all over the place. One such zig-zag took me to the 1-year anniversary celebration of Bringing Science Home, a joint effort between USF Health and The Patterson Foundation that aims to revolutionize what it means to live well with chronic disease and invisible illness.

Bringing Science Home’s Mission Statement
“To empower people touched by chronic disease to live optimistically and to create a new model for chronic disease education.”

I get to sit through a lot of health and medical presentations, and I get exposed to all sorts of ideas about how to treat patients, and the roles that health professionals play in educating people with chronic illnesses. Sometimes I am moved by what I hear so much that I have to fight the urge to stand up in a chair and applaud; other times I am moved in the opposite direction, and I have to fight the urge to jump up and interrupt the folks who are doing the talking and dole out a bit of education myself.

I can really get behind what Bringing Science Home is doing. Finally, there is a group that is getting organized and making efforts to bridge the gaps in areas of life with chronic illness that our current systems too often neglect.

Imagine you are a young adult in today’s world. You have just graduated high school, and are off to college to pursue the dreams of higher education. The world is your oyster! You get to set your own class schedule now, pursue your own interests, meet new people, join clubs and organizations, go to parties, stay up all night cramming for that big test you have tomorrow, maybe find a job, meet someone that fancies you and start a relationship. The sky is the limit!

If you have diabetes, you also have to make sure that you are doing what you need to do on that front as well, so that you are able to have all of the adventures of a college education. Before, when you were at home, it might have been easier. Your parents may have taken care of making sure you have insulin, diabetes supplies, test strips, and regular visits to your diabetes doctor, eye doctor, dentist, etc. They also probably helped a lot with making sure that you had the proper foods to eat, and that there was always a juice box or something nearby to treat a low blood sugar. Life in college is different: It’s all on you now.

Add those two together, and it is A LOT for a young adult to have to deal with. Keeping up with all of the diabetes stuff, plus all of the college stuff, it’s no wonder that most people with diabetes in college find that their control starts to slip. Enter Students With Diabetes, a group of people whose aim is to create a community and connection point for students with diabetes on college campuses. That’s right, “campuses.” Plural. This is not an initiative restricted to just the University of South Florida where Bringing Science Home lives. At publication of this blog post, Students With Diabetes is on 28 college campuses across the nation, and growing!

How amazing to be able to meet other people, with diabetes, who are going through this incredible transition and learning experience, and not feel like we have to hide our condition! Typically, we learn to hide and suppress our own needs so that we better fit in, whether we’re in college or just in normal day-to-day life. Being shown through our interactions with others that we don’t HAVE to hide is really what living well with diabetes is all about.

Bringing Science Home is heavily focused on life with diabetes, but it is even more about helping people of all ages and with all chronic illnesses get the help and support that they need to thrive. Whether you are Students With Asthma, Students With Diabetes, or at another life stage or have another chronic illness that doesn’t get the support it deserves, I am so very encourage by what Bringing Science Home is doing, and am confident that efforts like this are the future of living well.

Bringing Science Home 1-Year Anniversary
Me and Nicole Johnson, Executive Director of Bringing Science Home

A Little Extra

I was having a discussion with a friend recently, and we were toying with the idea of what we would do if we won the lottery. What would we do if all of a sudden we went from our typical paycheck-to-paycheck lives to having more money than we could spend in a single day?

It’s always a fun question to imagine the answer to. Maybe we would be generous, and donate a huge chunk of it to charity. Maybe we would make someone’s dreams come true, and give them what they might not have ever had an opportunity to have without our help. Maybe we would take care of ourselves, our families, our friends, and take a good long vacation somewhere exotic.

Most people I’ve had this conversation with want to believe that winning the lottery wouldn’t change them. I don’t buy it (no pun intended). I think it would absolutely change a person. I know that it would certainly change me.

An old Zen proverb says, “Change is neither good nor bad; it simply is.”

I believe it is our reaction to change that determines if the change is for the better or for the worse. Too often we are so close to our own circumstances that we lack the ability to step back and realize that perhaps the adversity and change that we are doing a faceplant into is exactly what we need to move forward toward a brighter, more positive and productive future.

I hope that my reaction to a change like winning the lottery would be positive. In my imagination, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t be positive. It would certainly make it easier to not worry about how I was going to get the money for my next order of pump supplies, or if this vial of insulin will last me until I get my next paycheck when I can afford to order more, or having to choose to skip meals so that the rest of my family can eat. These are the kinds of unfair choices that many people have to make.

Something I admire about this amazing diabetes community, both online and in real life, is that we make efforts to take care of each other. The singular need of one becomes the focus of a community of many, until the need is met with a solution.

I guess after seeing people lose their homes and belongings recently to Hurricane Irene, and having grown up in Florida where hurricanes ravage this state on a near constant basis, and having A-Flizzle who survived the devastation in Louisiana from Hurricane Katrina a few years ago, I feel compelled to encourage you to help out that person next to you, if you can.

Maybe you have a surplus vial of insulin that is going to go out of date before you will be able to use it. Maybe you have extra test strips that you can spare. Maybe you have a few CGM sensors that could help someone troubleshoot their BG’s and get them back on track and in a bit better control. Maybe you have a few minutes to call a friend who you know is overwhelmed and say, “You know what friend, I was just thinking about you. How are you today?”

Find that outlet, and do a little extra. Need help? Contact your local JDRF or ADA chapter, and simply ask.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” You can never predict how big of a difference a simple act of kindness can make.

Insulin Vial

New Rule: 10-10-10

101010 - photo by Woodley Wonderworks on Flickr

10-10-10: 10 THINGS for you to take 10 MINUTES to share with 10 PEOPLE about your diabetes.

#1
That you have diabetes.
If you aren’t comfortable sharing it with a group, share it with just one person at a time. A friend, coworker, or roommate is a great start. You may need them one day, and awareness is in both of your best interests should that need arise.

#2
What type diabetes you have.
Each different type of diabetes requires a different set of rules and things to be aware of. An easy talking point is to share what type diabetes you have, and how it compares to others. It’s also always fun to baffle people with your expert knowledge that yes, you can indeed get “juvenile diabetes” (Type 1) as an adult. Mind blowing! Because it takes so much of our attention to manage our own diabetes, check the ADA web site if you need help educating yourself on the various types of diabetes.

#3
Your story.
Every one of us has a collection of diabetes stories. People can most identify with what you went through when you were diagnosed. Some of us, like me, were far too young to remember, but maybe your parents or loved ones passed these stories down to you. If not, share how your life has changed pre- and post-diagnosis. I have found that most people are very impressed by how much us diabetics know about our bodies. Toot your own horn!

#4
How you manage your diabetes.
Some of us use an insulin pump, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), multiple daily injections (MDI), and hopefully all of us with diet and exercise. Share the tools and tricks of the diabetes management trade that work for you. You don’t have to go into the nitty gritty details, but sharing that you know what you’re talking about and how to manage your diabetes goes a long way into the comfort levels of all involved in being able to talk about it openly. I like to show off my insulin pump and BG meter when I am sharing, and curiosity usually gets the cats to talking. This is also when I like to point out that I can eat the same foods as everyone else, as long as I know my BG and count carbs. This goes a long way in warding off the Diabetes Police.

#5
The difference between a low and high blood sugar for YOU.
Although this can dance on the edge of being clinical, it’s something that most non-diabetics don’t know. Try to put into words what it feels like when you have a high or low BG. For example, when I am high, it feels like my blood has turned to molasses, and doing anything is like trying to do it while submerged in Jell-O. Most people can appreciate that description, unless they’ve never had Jell-O. And if that is the case, you get to make a new friend tomorrow by bringing them a Jell-O cup. I suggest Sugar Free Lime or Strawberry Banana.

#6
Symptoms of a low blood sugar.
As scary as a low BG can be, this is quite possibly the hardest part of the “I have diabetes…” conversation, because it is 100% serious REAL LIFE when it happens. Describe a low blood sugar in your own words, and include those symptoms that are most common to you and your diabetes. We’re not all the same. If, like me, you’re prone to nonsensical motor mouth as a symptom of a low BG, share that. Then, if you’re talking too much and annoying your friend, at least they have an out by suggesting that you go check you’re blood sugar so you’ll shut up. Winner, winner.

#7
How to treat a low blood sugar.
Share the important details, such as where you keep your glucose or Glucagon hidden, and that insulin does NOT make your blood sugar go up. I don’t know why so many people think that insulin makes blood sugar go up, but they do. Educate them. Let people know what works best for you to treat a low BG. If juice is your go to low BG fix-it-all, then tell them that, and where they can find it. Your life may depend on it, and it will reduce panic if you need an extra bit of help.

#8
Your medic alert identification.
Point out where it is, whether it is a bracelet, necklace, wallet card, or other form of medic alert. I have had diabetes nearly my entire life, and am as guilty as anyone of not wearing my medic alert ID like I should. So, dig it out of your underwear drawer (or jewelry box, if you’re a girl) and put the thing on. If you don’t have one, go buy one. No excuses. I’ll even guilt you into it: Don’t put the people around you in the position of having to answer a paramedic’s medical questions about you in the event of an emergency. Emergency personnel are trained to look for medical alert ID’s, so get after it.

#9
What you can do despite diabetes.
I think it is so important to let people know that diabetes is NOT a death sentence. It is so very far from a life ending condition, and as long as we manage it successfully, we can do anything that anyone else can. Thanks to modern technology and medicine, we can play sports, have a family, and even be a celebrity. We are only limited by our own imagination. Diabetes only holds us back as much as we allow it to, which coincidentally means that us people with diabetes (PWDs) are notoriously stubborn. I think that’s a side effect we can live with.

#10
Where they can learn more about diabetes.
As much as we know about our own diabetes, none of us knows everything about diabetes. Some great places to refer others to learn more about diabetes are the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Diabetes Association, and the Joslin Diabetes Center.

We’re In This Together

The past couple weeks have been hard. Especially diabetically. I have been in the diabetes burnout funk. As any PWD can attest, when things are difficult diabetically, everything becomes more of a challenge. But I’m working through it, and this post is not going to be a gripe session. If griping got us anywhere, we’d have a cure for diabetes by now.

Missed Target - from Jonathan Houston at jonathanhouston.co.za

Diabetes control is a total moving target, and mine certainly has been lately. Predominantly, low BG’s have moved in and resulted in all the low BG fun: Shakes, sweating profusely, ravenous hunger, lack of sleep, confusion, blank outs, finding myself talking nonsense without the ability to shut up. Well, that last one really isn’t so different from a normal day, but still. I haven’t eaten glucose tabs or gel in years, but from the amount of them I’ve eaten the last couple weeks, I’m starting to think I should invest in Reli-On.

Then there are the high BG’s. The feeling like my blood has been replaced with molasses, nauseousness, and lethargic to the point that I don’t want to do squat. Thankfully, my high BG’s have a source, and are not a regular occurrence. I know it’s from eating things that aren’t smart healthy predictable. One night this past weekend, for example, I was out and got the stupid idea that I wanted a daiquiri to drink. The unimaginable and incalculable amount of sugar in it skyrocketed my BG through the roof, resulting in a semi-calculated rage bolus to get it back in range, and totally killing the point of drinking it in the first place.

I think all people, not just diabetics, want to be able to do what they want without having to analyze the decision to death. If I want pizza (which is unfortunately one of my favorite foods), I don’t want to have to count carbs so adamantly that I can’t enjoy the experience. However, to be able to enjoy other experiences, I do have to carefully count those carbs. It’s a vicious circle, and I know that choosing to be complacent in my diabetes management now would absolutely result in longer term complications down the road. We’ve all heard these lectures ad nauseum.

Not to get pleasure from someone else’s pain, but I’m not alone in this struggle, and that helps. Kerri (@sixuntilme) writes about similar diabetes challenges from her perspective of being a Mom. Sarah (@Sarah_IGTS) writes in her post “Holding On” about how we have to remember the big picture to keep us from wanting to just stop caring so much. Kelly (@diabetesalic) writes about seasonal high BG’s and the challenge to keep things in range.

We are all challenged from time to time, and all the time, with diabetes, regardless of what type we are. But as I said earlier, this post is not a gripe session. I’m reminded when I finally open up enough of just how much support is out there when a day, a few days, or even a few weeks do not go my way. We have people close to us who won’t let us not love ourselves because the amount of love that they have for us. We have the motley crew that is the DOC. We also have DSMA, where we see that there are others who are also having both awesome and awful days just like us, further demonstrating that we are never alone in this struggle.

That is something I can lean on and am thankful for. None of us has to go through these challenges alone.

I also find that laughter helps. I love to make people laugh. And as Bill Cosby said, “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.

What’s Up DOC?

So here I am with my first post on the new dblog. I’ve been sharing with the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) on Twitter so much lately I almost find myself throwing in # and @ signs in random sentences. It’s good to finally have a home built where I can stretch my thoughts out longer than 140 characters.

You can read the About Me section, and learn a little about me and my pump, Gort. Diabetes is a big part of my life, whether I like it or not. Whether ANYBODY likes it or not. I grew up with it being so taboo, so I am really thankful to now live in a world where I can be right out in the open about it. I feel like people see a needle, or a blood test kit, or vial of insulin, and without knowing specifically what those things are all about at that moment, they don’t immediately think you are a drug addict like it was when I was a kid.

I was in elementary school during the Reagan era, and Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign on TV had the ever present images of needles and drug paraphernalia.

Nancy Reagan and the "Just Say No" CampaignImages of Just Say No

They would of course show these commercials during Saturday morning cartoons, exposing everyone to it, and beating into kids’ brains “Don’t use drugs!” Then I would show up at school, and someone would get sight of my syringes and vials, and game over…I was a drug user. Kids can be so cruel.

Maybe now I just have a lot more confidence, but I feel like the world has changed and matured. Today I can do a blood test right out in the middle of everyone, and I might get some side glances, but mostly people are just curious. I love that, and I love sharing and educating when they have questions. My favorite is when someone asks me right before I prick my finger if it hurts and I tell them no, prick my finger, and then scream bloody murder. That usually results in a laugh or two.

On top of that, the insulin pump (oh, the wonderful, wonderful pump!) has revolutionized diabetes even more by totally taking away the need to carry around syringes and vials anymore. It makes all of us T1’s so…free. We might still have to carry around a backpack full of other things, but it bids farewell to the days of having to ask a family member or close friend to stand in front of me while I draw my insulin out of the vial and shoot up.

This dblog is another voice, and another opportunity to bring diabetes out of the shadows. We can be diabetic, and do not have to be ashamed or feel we are less than anyone else, not ever. We don’t have to look in the mirror and see a broken machine. We may not have an automatic transmission like some people, but we can drive a manual transmission just fine. We have the technology, we have the science. We can do this!

And we will…every day…until there is a cure.

Diabetes Blue Circle

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