NHBPM

Emmy_by_Alan_Light

Truths & Lies

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 8: 3 truths and 1 lie. Tell us 3 things that are true about you, your condition, your Health Activism, or your life. Now tell us 1 lie. Do you think we will be able to tell the difference?NHBPM_2011_Day08

My life with diabetes is a mixture of truths and lies. Since discovering and becoming part of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), I have learned how to be more truthful about my diabetes, but that wasn’t always the case.

You see, I’m what they call stubborn when it comes to my diabetes. I will listen only when I want to, and I will divulge only what I want to, sometimes even to my own detriment.

It’s only been in the past couple of years that I will admit to how awful I actually feel when I’m running a high blood sugar. I’ve told A-Flizzle on more than one occasion that my crabbiness was because I was 200+ and just wanted to be left alone. I hate being high, and I don’t care who knows it. If I say I’m high, the best bet is to give me a wide berth.

I’m more likely to admit to being high, mainly because I don’t like it. Complaining helps. So does insulin.

What I’m not so good at is sharing when I’m low. Most of the time when I’m low, my natural tendency is to hide it. I will lie to you. I will tell you that I’m fine, and give the appearance that everything is totally okay. Meanwhile, inside, just below the surface where you can’t see, I’m kicking and flailing and fighting that low blood sugar like it’s nobody’s business. In my head, I deserve an Emmy for those performances. For lead actor in a diabetes-related hypoglycemic episode, the Emmy goes to…ME!

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Photo by Alan Light (CC license - on Flickr at alan-light)

I notice it. I’ve even inadvertently embarrassed myself because of it. Sometimes when I’m low, I start to ramble and not make sense, but don’t possess the ability to shut up (kind of like this blog post). It’s especially inconvenient when I’m low and in meetings and trying to make a point that I can’t quite get out. And the whole stinking time I know I’m low, I’m just on low-brained auto pilot and gravitate toward my tendency to hide it instead of toward the need to say, “Hey gang, I’m low, I have to take care of this now and then we can continue.” Is anybody really going to begrudge me a break in a meeting? Probably not. And if they do, who cares?

It takes a trained eye to spot my low blood sugar tells. Sometimes I get twitchy, over analytical like I’m trying to figure out the secrets of the universe via the container that my glucose tabs are in, nonsensical motor mouth, shaky and clumsy, confused, maybe closing or covering one eye to ward off the double vision, suddenly sweating for no reason, or just sort of wandering around aimlessly and getting really irritated over nothing. Literally, nothing.

When it’s a bad low (not that the aforementioned symptoms are good, by far) and the act is over is when I go mute, and my eyes sort of glaze over, and I may even start staring at you awkwardly as if trying to tell you something of grave importance with my Jedi mind tricks. And I am too. I’m trying to tell you that I’m starting to shut down, and I need your help, and I can no longer tell you what I need with my words. I need you to know to get the glucose out of my desk, or the glucose tabs from off of my keychain, or the glucose gel out of my bag. I might even need you to help me get it in my stubborn mouth. It’s happened before. It will happen again. It is because I have diabetes.

So rather than write some post where I lie to you, I’m telling you, I will lie to you. But I may also need you. And I need you to know how to spot the truth behind my lies.

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Monday Mantra - 11-07-2011

Monday Motivation

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 7: Case of the Mondays. Write about something that gets you down, burns you out, or makes you sad. Purge it in a blog post. Turn it around at the end. Tell Tuesday why you’re ready for it.NHBPM_2011_Day07

Based on popular opinion (or at least the folks on my Twitter and Facebook feeds), most people are not fans of Monday. Color me odd, but I don’t mind Monday that much. After the weekend, I’m ready to get back to work and get things accomplished.

I like to feel productive. That doesn’t have a specific day of the week for me. Monday provides me with an opportunity to set the tone for the entire week, and get off to a good start. My intent is that by getting things rolling on Monday, the momentum will carry me through to Friday, when I can look back at my list o’ stuff and feel good that all or most of it is crossed off and completed.

Now, not every Monday is that big of a success. But neither is every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. I feel like if I spend my day on Sunday dreading tomorrow, then I don’t really have much choice but to have a sour Monday.

It helps me to set goals for my week. I need to feel that sense of accomplishment, like I’m doing something progressive, getting things done, and moving forward.

This week, for example, I’m going to try to wear my CGM all week long. I’m really having a difficult time wearing it lately. My slacking has resulted in me watching my BG’s tick upward (and I HATE being high with the fire of a thousand suns), along with my BG averages and probably my A1C too. I’ve had sensor errors galore, gushers, and now the few sensors I have left are expired, so I’m trying to get as much use out of them as I can before they all quit working and I have to throw the remainders in the garbage. I’ll get new ones on my next supply order, so I’m not overly concerned, just trying to make those diabetes supplies stretch.

I’m also going to go to spin class at least twice this week. Spin and the gym is yet another thing that I’ve been slacking on lately, and the way my clothes fit is bringing it more and more to the forefront (and waistline) of my attention. I’m not going to start the week saying that I’m going to go every single day. I won’t. Not yet. I need to ease back into it. Two or three 45 minute sessions of spin should be a great start to turning the beat around.

I’ve got some work things to do, and I’m sprinkling in some blog posting, spin classes, and CGM wearing to get my Monday started off right. What’s your Monday motivation?

Monday Mantra - 11-07-2011

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

JDRF_logoT1

It’s Not About The Money

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 6: If I could do anything as a Health Activist… Get aspirational. Money is no longer an option. What is your biggest goal that is now possible? How could you get there? Now bring it back down to size. How much of this can you accomplish now, in a year, in five years?

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I really enjoy all of the wonderful ways that the ADA, JDRF, DRI, and other diabetes organizations have of raising money. We’ve got walks, bike rides, galas, thrift stores, and even our own drinks that help raise money for diabetes. It’s great!

These efforts typically target people with diabetes to raise money for diabetes, but we don’t have a direct line of sight to the payoff for all that fundraising work. We’re all out there doing our walks, riding our bikes, gala-ing our galas, and drinking our drinks, and we’re raising money, but then what? I know that these groups are doing some amazing research and awareness work, and I don’t want to belittle those efforts at all. They are important, but they are also hard to see. When do we see that tangible thing that is a direct result of all that advocating and fundraising? When do I get my close up Mr. DeMille?

Hopefully it will be sooner than we think. Last week, the JDRF and CEO Jeffrey Brewer took off the gloves and threw down the gauntlet. Or maybe it was the lancet. They threw down something. All I know is that it was in your face and to the point. And it was a full page in the New York Times and the Washington Post. And. It. Was. AWESOME.

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This is what we need more of. We need less of the “We’re raising money for diabetes” and more of the “We require an advancement for people with Type 1 diabetes so that they don’t die in their sleep anymore.”

Yes, I said it. I want to see more from other organizations who will stand up to the naysayers who are holding back progress. I’m not anti-FDA, as I am grateful for the lives that they have saved by their oversight. However, I challenge both the FDA and diabetes organizations to do more and do it more expeditiously for the people with diabetes. If it benefits the cause and gets us closer to a tangible solution to a diabetes problem, I’d like to see these groups join forces and work together to save lives. Other countries are leaps and bounds ahead of the United States in what they do for people with diabetes. It is time that other countries looked to us for the advancements in how people live with diabetes, and it is us who should share these advancements with the world, and make sure that these advancements are accessible to everyone that needs them. Period.

Follow JDRF’s lead. Say what you mean. Take the gloves off. Stop playing nice. There are clear winners and losers in this fight. Make sure the winners are the people with diabetes, and let’s all do what we can, together, to make advancements like the Artificial Pancreas a reality. NOW!

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This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

5 Things

5 Things

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 5: 5 things that changed my life. For better? For worse? List 5 things that changed your life as a patient, caregiver, or Health Activist and how.NHBPM_2011_Day05

Having had diabetes for over 30 years now, I’ve seen a lot of change happen. Some of the changes with diabetes have been subtle, like acquiring a Delica finger pricker to replace the spring-powered nail gun of a finger pricker that I was using before. Other changes have had a huge impact on my life with diabetes.

5 Things

#1: BG meter
When I was diagnosed in 1981, most people determined what their blood sugar was by peeing on a stick. Actually, it was a strip. But still, it was a stick. That you peed on! The problem with peeing on a stick (beyond accidentally spraying the bathroom with wee) is that it only tells what the range of the blood sugar is, and it’s often hours behind reality. Blood, on the other hand, is much more accurate, telling you what your blood sugar is right now, rather than what it was three or four hours ago.

After the peeing on a stick days, there were these strips that you would put a drop of blood on, wait a few minutes, then wipe off and see what range your blood sugar was based on the color of the strip. If you wiped the blood off too hard, sometimes the color of the strip would come off with it. It took some practice. I also learned that I could cheat and wipe it with an alcohol swab and the color would be lighter, indicating a lower BG than I actually was. I mean…wait…I never did that…honest. To save on costs, my mom would cut the strips into halves or thirds so that they would last longer. You have to be frugal with diabetes sometimes. We may or may not have also eaten cereal with a fork so that we could pass the milk on to somebody else.

I really don’t know when I got my first BG meter. It was sometime when I was in elementary school. I remember it was huge, and it took several minutes and a huge blood drop (or two, or three) to discover what my blood sugar actually was. Today, our meters are pocket-sized, only taking 5 seconds or so to analyze a very small sample and report the results. It’s a beautiful thing! (Except when the numbers on the screen are less than desirable, but that’s a different blog post.)

#2: Insulin pump
My insulin pump has granted me more freedom with my diabetes than any other single advancement. It allows me to be able to do what I want and eat what I want on my schedule (or lack thereof, if I so choose). I love it, and I don’t ever want to be without it (YDMV).

#3: CGM
I’ve had my continuous glucose monitor for a little over a year now. I’m still not the greatest at wearing it regularly, but I absolutely love it when I do. I love that it helps me to keep my BG’s closer to normal, helps warn me when I’m going low or high, and often prevents disaster. My CGM is integrated with my pump, and I love having these two devices working simultaneously to give me data that I can use to improve my diabetes control. Would you look at that…I think I just motivated myself to go put in a new CGM sensor. Go me!

#4: Connecting to the DOC & PWD’s
There is something very special about the Diabetes Online Community, and that is all the people with (and without) diabetes in it. I have met some amazing people in this community, and I have learned so much from them about sharing my life with diabetes. I have also learned all kinds of tips and tricks, such as what tape sticks best to someone made of awesomesauce. Between my laptop, iPad, and phone, I manage to pretty much stay in contact with the DOC 24/7. Beyond the folks the make up the DOC, my favorite thing about it is that no matter what time it is, where I’m at, or what I’m doing, I can always reach out (typically via Twitter) and get a response. It’s awesome!

#5: Friends For Life
Heed these words: If you have never been to a Friends For Life event, then you need to find some way to make that happen. I went for the first time last July (2011), and it was life changing. I got back home and immediately put my time off on the calendar to go again next year. Friends For Life is one of the only places where you can walk around with an insulin pump hanging on your pants pocket, or check your blood sugar in a crowded room, or ask, “How many carbs are in that?” and not get even so much as a sideways glance. It’s a rare opportunity to be in the majority of people with diabetes, where people without diabetes are the minority. Plus it’s an amazing opportunity to meet friends from the DOC, and bond in real life over giant M&M cookies and a shared affinity for plaid.

Disclaimer: The kind folks at OneTouch did not pay me or solicit me to write about or mention their Delica device. That said, if they want to send me some fresh lancets, that would be awesome.

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Laptop

Post Publishing Crash Course

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 4: What happens after you press “publish.” Write about your post-blog-writing process. Do you immediately tweet a link? Email it to everyone? Re-read it for spelling errors?NHBPM_2011_Day04

I have to admit, at first I thought this blog prompt sounded…well, how do I say…a certain, I don’t know…boring.

After I thought about it for awhile, and also talked it out with A-Flizzle, I realized that this is actually pretty important, and something I would have liked to have read when I first started blogging. So for all the new bloggers on the block, here is your crash course in post publishing.

I’m obsessive about proofreading, so it isn’t uncommon for me to read a blog post several times over to make sure it includes all of the things that I want it to say. I also like to make sure it has a certain flow and rhythm to it. In other words, I like to make sure that it makes sense.

Once I am satisfied and hit Publish, I head over to bit.ly and shorten my blog URL. I like bit.ly because not only does it count the number of times someone accesses my blog post via the shortened URL, but it also gives me more characters to take liberty with when I tweet my post. This is especially useful when my blog title doesn’t make a lot of sense at first glance and needs a bit of explanation, such as Amazeballs or Unconscionable Numeracy.

Then I tweet the title and a link to my post, and throw in a few hashtags for good measure. Since my blog is mostly all about diabetes, I frequently use #dblog and #diabetes as my hashtags of choice. For this month, since it is National Health Blog Post Month, I’m using #NHBPM as well. I also open up Facebook and share the URL to my blog post there. (Did you know Diabetically Speaking has a Facebook fan page? It’s true!) I like to put my blog post link everywhere I possibly can so that no matter what vehicle people are most comfortable with using, they can find it.

Once I’m done posting it everywhere, I go back and read the post again. As I mentioned earlier, I have a problem with proofreading.

As my day goes on, I’m almost always multitasking and doing other things besides my blog (read: I’m working). Occasionally (read: every 5 minutes) I’ll open up TweetDeck or Facebook to see if anyone has re-tweeted or shared the link to my post. I am grateful for every single person that feels compelled to share my post with their circle of friends and followers, and I try to make sure I say thank you when I can. It’s just the polite thing to do, in my opinion.

I also keep an eye out to see if anybody is leaving comments. Blog comments are gifts, and I appreciate every single one of them. Except the spambot comments. I have a special place for those, and a special feeling for the programmers that created them.

By the end of the day, hopefully my blog post has gone viral, or has at least been read by one more person than just me. So far the closest I’ve come to going viral has been more of a muffled sneeze, really.

What makes it all worthwhile to me is when I hear from a reader that I have helped in some way, who understands diabetes better, or who is grateful that I put into words what they are going through.

I would gladly go through this process 100 times to help that 1.

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This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Knowledge is power... knowledge is happiness. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1817

A Letter From The Future

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 3: Dear 18 year old me. Write a letter to yourself when you were 18. Be sure to tell yourself what to do more of, what to do less of, and what you have to look forward to in the next few (or several) years.

Dear Martin (age 18),

Congratulations, you’re an adult now! Well, at least on paper. I know it seems like you are ready to take on the world, and in many ways you are. In other ways, you don’t know the first thing about what you are getting yourself into.

You’re in luck though. I, your older and much more attractive self, have figured it out for you. No no, you don’t have to thank me now. I will bestow all of this to you as time goes by. It’s just a nice thing that I am doing for me…I mean, you…um, us. Whatever. Time travel is confusing.

You have lived your entire life up until this point without anyone else that understands what it is like living with diabetes. You’ve had to carry the diabetes burden all on your own, and that has made you stubborn as a mule. The truth of the matter is that you don’t know what you don’t know. There is an entire world of people out there with diabetes, just like you, who need each other just as much as you need them, and none of you know it yet. But you will, and you will all play a key role in changing the way people with and without diabetes, doctors, and healthcare professionals everywhere think about living with diabetes.

To get there, you must have vision, take risks, and test your dreams against your beliefs. Dream big, and laugh often, and out loud. Good or bad, don’t keep things inside where nobody else can get to them.

Learn how to communicate your dreams. As competent and reliable as you are, you can’t do everything on your own. You are going to need an army behind you to do the amazing things that you are going to dream up. You’re a natural storyteller, so use that to your advantage. Bring it to life. Make it entertaining. Inspire others to help bring your stories to life.

When it comes to others, surround yourself with people that inspire you as well. Don’t ever settle with people that don’t encourage and support you. It’s okay if people disagree, but it’s not okay for people to hurt you. Be aware that there is a difference. Be cautious of any person that says, “That’s the way it has always been done.” Bring people into your world that will help you move mountains, not who hold you back.

Be a character that has good character. In the decisions you make, always ask yourself, “Is this something that I am proud of?” Be bold. Be kind. You are your own brand in everything that you do. If you believe in your brand, other people will believe in it as well…and ultimately, will believe in you.

You won’t always win, but even when you lose, don’t lose the lesson. Commit to the decisions that you make, and be willing to be wrong and learn from your mistakes. You will find that sometimes you have to completely break something in order to fix it, and there is no shame in starting over from scratch.

Finally, be a leader with a servant’s heart. Care about people. People are more important than processes. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Help them to feel better.

See you soon.
–MARTIN (from the future)

Knowledge is power... knowledge is happiness. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1817

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Diabetically Speaking Circus Ringmaster

Big Top BG

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 2: My TV Show. You’re blog is being turned into a TV show! Congrats – you’ve earned it. In fact, you get to co-write it. Write about the TV show based on your life or blog.NHBPM_2011_Day02

All of my creativity when it comes to the print & motion picture industry may or may not have been used up yesterday. Yes, I realize it’s only day 2 of the National Health Blog Post Month challenge. Fortunately, the idea of a TV show about my blog doesn’t have to be a theatrical production.

A circus production on the other hand is exactly what a TV show of my blog should be.

I write about life with diabetes. I don’t write a clinical how-to step-by-step instruction on living with diabetes. When it comes down to it, after over three decades with it, diabetes is often a complete and utter mystery to me. Why else would I be able to do the same exact thing one day to the next, and get totally different BG readings, have to take totally different amounts of insulin, and have to figure out the mystery that is diabetes every single day? It’s a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in baloney. Or bologna if we’re being proper. But who says “bologna” anyway? It’s baloney. So is diabetes. So there.

When I think about diabetes, and Diabetically Speaking too, it really has all of the elements of the greatest show on earth: the circus.

For example, there is the Blood Sugar Tight Rope act. This is where skill, luck, and the ability to balance reality with whimsy come together to walk a fine line of blood sugar “control.” You know, like trying to maintain that magical and elusive 104 mg/dL that was mentioned yesterday.

Next, we have the elephants. Come see the elephants! The elephant is when you find that your blood sugar has surprisingly dropped too low while you’re in the middle of something important and seemingly noninterruptible, and you can’t pry yourself away to treat it and get your wits back. So what happens? You end up prolonging your time with the elephant until you’re a sweaty, shaky, slow moving and confused mess and someone has to help feed YOU the circus peanuts.

There is also the Diabetes Trapeze. This is the exact opposite of the tight rope act, where your blood sugars are going up and down and all around all day long while you chase them with a bolus here, and a bolus there, here a bolus, there a bolus, everywhere a bolus bolus. This is in the same family as the Glucoaster (not to be confused with D-Coaster Day, which is going to be happening again in 2012, so watch out for the announcement real soon).

I talk about all of these kinds of things on my blog that are part of living with diabetes, so you see, a circus is the PERFECT production for Diabetically Speaking. So prop up the big top, throw down the sawdust, and… “Ladies and gentlemen!…”

Diabetically Speaking Circus Ringmaster

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

I Am Number 104

I Am Number 104

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 1: Title of my future book. Say you’re writing a book about your life, community, condition, or Health Activism. Come up with a working title and a quick synopsis.
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If a book were to be written about my life, I would like to think that it would be a New York Times Bestseller. Or at least a quality eBook. It would be full of all the things that make a bestseller. A beginning with challenges that must be overcome, a series of successes and setbacks, a climactic battle of good versus evil where the hero (me) learns to use his weakness (diabetes) as his strength, and of course a happy ending with the potential for a sequel. It would also be full of laughs, with just slightly inappropriate humor without being blatantly offensive.

When the book about my life is made into a screenplay, there is no question about who would play me on the big screen: Justin Timberlake.

I would say that Florida Governor Rick Scott would play the evil Dr. Diabeetus in the movie adaptation of my book, but there has already been a Lord Voldemort in popular classics, so that market is pretty much cornered.

Rick Scott Lord Voldemort Lookalike

Rather than getting a real life evil person to star in the movie of my life, I guess I will just have to rely on the next best person to play my pancreatically powered arch rival: Lindsay Lohan.

As any who’s who in Hollywood knows, a great movie also deserves a great soundtrack. Mine would feature a veritable hodgepodge of artists and musical styles, including Fireflight, Lady Gaga, Our Lady Peace, Stone Sour, Florence + The Machine, and a chart topping duet featuring Eminem and Adele. There would be no country music featured on the soundtrack either, unless Taylor Swift decided to partner with Jay-Z to throw down some rhymes for a bonus track.

The book, movie, and soundtrack about my life will all go on to break publishing, box office, and sales records, hauling in loads of cash that would then be spent to fund the cure for diabetes. And maybe a new MacBook Pro so I can finally multitask during Google Hangouts. This would all be done over the course of about 2-3 years, which seems reasonable enough to me. The FDA would try to slow down progress on the cure, but Samuel L. Jackson would step in as my adviser and open up his BMF wallet and pay them to STFU and get out of the way.

So that is how it is all going to go down people. I hope you’re ready for it. I think it has quite an (mg/dL) inspired title…

I Am Number 104

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month