insulin pump

Gummy Bears

Twas A Gummy Bear Night

Twas a night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a CGM was beeping, all sensors were out.
The transmitter was stashed amongst the pump supplies with care
In hopes that my insurance company soon would say, “Clear!”

The gummy bears were nestled all snug in their bag,
Patiently awaiting for diabetes to attack.
The cat under covers, the dog taking a nap,
It was only a matter of time before diabetes would snap.

When just down the hall there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed in a soaking wet lather.
Panicked and stricken, I searched for my glasses,
Hoping to high heavens my feet weren’t molasses.

The moon in the window lighting my way
Leading me to the kitchen where the gummies await.
Like a chorus of Hungry Hippos my teeth were a chatter,
Am I low? Or just cold? Truthfully, it doesn’t matter.

Flicking on the lightswitch in a soaking wet fury,
“Get in my belly you gummies!” I said, a bit slurry.
More delicious than glucose tabs and easier to swallow,
The red ones are best, and what makes the clear ones so hollow?

The clock ticks, the minutes pass, waiting for a fixin’
It doesn’t seem to be working, my brain says as I listen.
I think, “Let’s chase the gummies with a bottle of soda!”
“Diet, that’s not,” a voice says, kind of like Yoda.

As the bottle is emptied I start to stop shaking,
This all will have consequences in the morning upon waking.
Tired and worn out, I drag my carcass to bed,
Where visions of semi-coherent boluses dance in my head.

And then, in a moment, the sun starts to shine.
Morning already?! It was only just five!
As I sit up in bed, and try to shake off the fog,
I realize I feel like a rotting old log.

Time to get dressed, from my head to my foot,
“I think I wore these clothes yesterday,” I think as I look.
A bundle of sweaty clothes, a shower is needed.
What happened last night, and why am I still seated?

I make it down the hallway, shuffling feet in my slippers,
When all of a sudden I spot movement that’s chipper!
When, what to my sleepy-filled eyes should appear,
Those gummies are partying, and one of them has a beer!

I shake, and I tremble, and rub my eyes in disbelief.
A gummy bear palooza, in MY kitchen sink?!
I grab my pump quickly, and notice the last,
A bolus, SWAG-worthy, taken blindly and fast.

I reach for my meter, and check without fear,
Hoping that some sense in those numbers will appear.
Double-digits, that figures, at least now I know
Those gummy bear phantoms were all because I was low.

Gummy Bears

Photo by Pato Garza (CC license)

Time

Progress Takes Time

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 28: Say WHAT?! What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard about health or your condition? Was there any context? What did you think at the time you heard it – and what do you think of it now?NHBPM_2011_Day28

People say the darndest things, especially when it comes to diabetes. Most all of us have heard about how cinnamon can cure diabetes, how Halle Berry managed to wean herself off of insulin, and even how Chuck Norris’s tears contain the cure for diabetes. (Too bad he doesn’t cry. Ever.)

I can handle the ridiculous and imaginative ideas for curing diabetes that people in the publishing business come up with in order to sell copy and get clicks on their websites. I know, as well as they know, that they are often full of crap. Just look at the Reader’s Digest issue from a few months ago. It’s capitalism, and it’s meant to make money. We, as people with diabetes, regardless of type, have to make sure that we are smarter than the fly-by-night snake oil salesmen.

I get extremely upset with doctors who tell parents and children who are newly diagnosed that there will be a cure within five years. Or ten years. Or that it is just around the corner. I was told that when I was diagnosed at age two. That was 30 years ago. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t all have hope, but our efforts would be much better suited if we focused on living well with our diabetes (regardless of type), rather than surviving just long enough until there is a cure. What’s the point in a cure if we don’t make it that long?

If there was a cure for diabetes, it would not require me to buy someone’s book off of a TV infomercial or sign up for an annual subscription to a website. A cure would be grounded in science, and would include known experts in the field of diabetes who live with and work with this disease every single day that would be more than willing to vouch for whatever form and type of diabetes the cure is for.

I also believe that we would see it coming. True researchers dedicate their lives to finding a cure for diabetes. They don’t accidentally mix up samples and say, “Oh, wow, a cure for diabetes. How’d that happen?” So many people are stakeholders for diabetes improvements, and they have their fingers on the pulse of the research that is being done towards better treatments and a cure.

The things that I’m excited about right now are insulin pumps with low blood glucose suspend functionality. Basically, if the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) senses a blood glucose that is below a certain level, then it will automatically suspend the insulin pump for a period of time. I have low blood sugar unawareness, so this would be helpful to me to ward off severe lows, like the 35 that I had while I was at Epcot last week, and maybe even prevent me from having a low BG related seizure.

I’m also excited about CGM sensors that aren’t as invasive as what we have now. My biggest hurdles in wearing my CGM are the components themselves. I love the results, and the data that I get from it, but having to harpoon myself with a fat needle to insert my sensor and then attach a big honkin’ transmitter to it and tape it down so that it doesn’t fall off is really a burden sometimes. I remember the first home BG meters. They were huge, and heavy, and slow. Today they are tiny, and can report BG’s in five seconds, so I know we will get there with CGM technology as well.

As long as research and development is being done, and we are advocating for our needs, progress is inevitable. It just takes time.

Time

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

Big Success

Geek, Party Of One

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 27: Quote Unquote. Grab a quote from this site (type in any word – see what comes up!) and use that quote to set your writing.NHBPM_2011_Day27

“The twenty-first century will be different. The human species, along with the computational technology it created, will be able to solve age-old problems of need, if not desire, and will be in a position to change the nature of mortality in a postbiological future.” – Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines

One of my favorite bands, Our Lady Peace, released an album in 2000 titled Spiritual Machines that was inspired by concepts from the book “The Age of Spiritual Machines” by Ray Kurzweil. After hearing the album, I was as intrigued as the guys in the band, and had to dig a little deeper.

There are many quotable passages in the book, and in different scenarios it appeals more than others. I make no bones about the fact that I am a tech geek. I love and live technology. I can spend way too much time keeping up with tech news, advancements, and creative ways that people use technology to solve real world problems. This book was right up my geeky alley.

If you have diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes, you probably walk around with a myriad of technology at any given time. This does not speak to everyone (or every type of person with diabetes, YDMV), but it isn’t unheard of to hear of someone walking around several devices attached to them or nearby that are helping them to make decisions that keep them alive.

I’m an example. I have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that gathers information from a flexible sensor residing just under my skin and a wireless transmitter. My CGM is integrated with my insulin pump, and helps me to maintain better control with my blood glucose (BG) levels by tracking trends so that I can see when my BG is rising or falling.

My insulin pump is connected to me via a similar type of cannula, though this one is linked to my pump via a nearly three foot tube. My insulin pump, powered by battery and programmed to my individual insulin needs, doses very small amounts of insulin around the clock through that tube, with bigger doses occurring when I eat a meal or have a high BG that needs correcting. I also carry around a standard issue fingerprick BG kit that tells me what my BG is at any given time with more accuracy than my CGM alone.

I have other, more multipurpose pieces of technology that I use to help me manage my life with diabetes as well. I have my cell phone (smartphone) and iPad that I use to look up carbohydrate info, keep in touch with the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), and search for other info that I might need on the fly to better manage my diabetes. One of my favorite apps to use when carb counting is the Go Meals app, especially when I go out to eat.

I feel like, in many ways, Kurzweil’s vision of a 21st century where computational technology is used to change the nature of mortality has already come true, though we still have miles to go before we sleep. When I was diagnosed with diabetes over 30 years ago, the information and data that we have today was simply not available. Now, we can figure out how many carbs are in a meal at a restaurant by the time a server can return to the table with our drink order. The swiftness of information is only going to get better, and the quality will continue to improve as well.

I’m excited to see what is next with technology used to live with and manage this disease, and how our world with diabetes will continue to evolve. I believe that one day there will be a cure, but until then, I am thankful that technology keeps improving to keep us alive and well until we get there.

Big Success

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

Coco and Me - FFL 2011

Here A Mascot, There A Mascot

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 24: My Mascot! Give your condition, community, or self a mascot. Who is it? What do they represent? What is their battle cry?NHBPM_2011_Day24

Dictionary.com defines a mascot as “an animal, person, or thing adopted by a group as its representative symbol and supposed to bring good luck.” I feel like there are a lot of potential candidates for a diabetes mascot.

First, there is this thing that Jacquie and I found at Friends For Life last summer. I’m not even sure what it is. Is it an insulin pump? Is it a BG meter? Is it a calculator? Is it a magic robot with an affinity for sideways exclamation points?

Jacquie Meter and Me - FFL 2011

Then there is Lenny the Lion. Granted, he’s already got a full-time gig as the Medtronic mascot, but he does have the advantage of being well-versed with an insulin pump. And think, with those cat claws, you would never have to replace a lancet ever again!

Lenny and Me - FFL 2011

Coco is a great candidate for a mascot as well. She has Type 1 diabetes. She has lots of friends and lots of adventures. She’s a lot like me! Except her primary contribution to conversations is “Eeek!” But I know people that have a lot more to say than just “Eeek!” and I wish they were as limited in their vocabulary as Coco is, so maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. You know what they say (whoever “they” are)…a little “Eeek!” goes a long way.

Coco and Me - FFL 2011

There is also Phil Southerland, who makes a great representative for the diabetes community. He’s a cyclist and co-founder of professional cycling’s Team Type 1-Sanofi, author of Not Dead Yet, and he’s from where I live, Tallahassee, Florida. He was also recently appointed Director of Healthcare Policy, Planning and Patient Advocacy at the World Health Organization. And he has Type 1 diabetes.

Phil Southerland and Me - FFL 2011

I think any of these candidates would make a fine diabetes mascot. However, I’m glad we don’t have to pick just one. The more characters there are in the world advocating and representing and bringing diabetes to the forefront of people’s attention, the better.

 

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

Oh The Places You'll Go Low

Best Of: Oh, The Places You’ll Go Low!

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 19: “Best of” post. Grab a post from your archives and repost it! Add a few sentences at the beginning to frame it. Why you chose it. Why you liked it. And why it should be shared again.NHBPM_2011_Day19

In May of this year, during Dblog Week, participants were encouraged to write a letter to someone about their diabetes. I chose to address my concerns from myself as an adult to myself as a child with diabetes. I was diagnosed at age two, so I’ve never really known a life without diabetes. I don’t have a before and after perspective, or memories of my diagnosis, or stories of transition. Based on my memories alone, I have always been a person with diabetes.

Still, diabetes has a lot of unknowns. In all of my years with diabetes, I have learned so much that was never shared by a doctor or a nurse, because so much of what we know about diabetes comes from living with it day in and day out. I wanted to share a story that I could understand, as a child, and appreciate throughout my life and years as an adult with diabetes. So I picked one of my favorites, and gave it a twist…

Oh The Places You'll Go Low(Click to read…)

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

Mirror Mantra - 10-17-2011

Don’t Be Evil

Sometimes life has a way of showing you that there are things that you need to work on. I’ve got plenty of examples lately that have left me running a gamut of emotions. (See also: Blog post theme for the week.)

One such example that spurs a looming sense of overwhelm is my work email Inbox. At the end of the day on Friday I had 496 unread emails. 496! How am I supposed to do my job effectively when I have more emails coming in than I can read and take care of and respond to? Plus, I just assumed an additional ton of responsibility, a new project, and another staff member to supervise. How in the world am I ever going to keep up with it all? My answer: Post-Its.

I love Post-It notes. All shapes, all colors, lines, no lines, doesn’t matter to me. I color my world with them. Well, that and glucose tabs. My favorites are the original square Post-Its. Like Chuck Taylor All Star’s and golf carts with the word “Prius” spray painted across the front, nothing beats the original.

I’ve set a new rule to write down everything that I want to get done for the week on a single Post-It. Mostly work-related stuff, with the occasional “order insulin” or “pay Medtronic again” thrown in for good measure. Once that note is full, I’m not going to fret over anything else getting done until I’ve crossed off everything on that list. If I can get everything on that one Post-It done, then my hope is that it will help me to stay focused and make progress, while also helping me to reduce the other “ess”…stress.

Inspired by Mike (What Some Would Call Lies) and Karen (Bitter~Sweet), there is also something else involving Post-Its that I want to start doing: Monday Mantras. I’ve started looking forward to seeing what Mike and Karen are going to post each week, and I think it really sets the tone for the week. Which is to say if you see me post a Monday Mantra that says, “Don’t strangle anyone,” it would probably be a good idea to tell me how fantastic my hair looks that day, or some other pointless nicety. You know, just in case.

So without further ado…

Mirror Mantra - 10-17-2011

Diabetes Hardware and Supplies

30 Things About My Chronic Illness

I hate calling diabetes an illness. It implies that I am sick. I feel like sick should be reserved for people that are in dire straights, in need of immediate medical attention. We’re all patients in some way, shape, or form, but not all the time, and certainly not every day. Still, there are chronic conditions that some of us have to operate with, and in honor of Invisible Illness Week (which was actually last week, but humor me anyway), here is a list of things about mine that maybe you didn’t know.


1. The illness I live with is: Type 1 diabetes. Simply put, my body does not produce insulin. Not even a little. Not even at all.

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: May 11, 1981

3. But I had symptoms since: I was two years old when I was diagnosed. You see, what had happened was I was minding my own business out in my yard, playing with my ball, just doing my thing. Then this girl comes along with her milkshake, and all these other boys showed up in the yard. Next thing I knew, I had diabetes. True story.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: I make adjustments with diabetes every single day. It’s a disease that requires near constant adjusting. I have to make adjustments in the amount of insulin I take based on what I eat, how active I am, what kind of activity I am doing, if I am sick, and sometimes for no reason at all. Every single day is different with diabetes, and the biggest adjustment is accepting that life is not scripted.

5. Most people assume: That if I’m having a low blood sugar, I need insulin. That is exactly what I do NOT need when I’m low! Insulin is a hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar, not raising it. Do not touch my insulin pump…EVER. If I am low and need your assistance, I need you to help me get something in me that is easy to chew and swallow that has glucose or sugar in it to get my blood sugar up fast, such as glucose tabs, juice, or even a regular Coke (not Diet!). If I am unresponsive, or you cannot get me to cooperate, please don’t hesitate to call 911 and ask for help. I’ll thank you later.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Everything. I hate mornings. Especially before I’ve had my coffee. Sometimes the grumpiness is exaggerated by an early morning low or high blood sugar, making me even more…um, difficult. See #5 above for what you should do if I’m low.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: House. But that is primarily because of Olivia Wilde. (What? There’s more to life than just diabetes!)

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My blood glucose meter. I could live without my pump (if I absolutely had to), as long as I have some way to inject insulin. And I could live without my CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) if I had to. All of these pieces add up to optimal diabetes management (for me, YDMV), and I hope I never have to live without any of them. But without my meter, I would have no idea what my blood sugar is, and I would have no way of knowing what action I need to take to manage my diabetes effectively. In essence, without my meter, I would be blind. (Diabetes pun not intended.)

Diabetes Hardware and Supplies

9. The hardest part about nights are: Sleeping. Not only do I feel like sleep is the single most biggest waste of time ever, it is also dangerous for a person with Type 1 diabetes because it is when we are most vulnerable. Sleep is the time when our blood sugar can drop or rise without our being aware, and without the ability to correct it. Too many people, adults and children alike, have been lost to Dead in Bed Syndrome. This is reason enough for why we need a cure…NOW.

10. Each day I take no pills & vitamins. (Just insulin. And awesomesauce.)

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: The treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin and monitoring your blood sugar closely, period. The alternatives are health complications and death. I have full faith that science will one day deliver a cure for diabetes. Until then, no amount of exotic fruit or juice from a berry whose name I can’t pronounce is going to get us there. We absolutely must take insulin to keep us alive and well. Still, insulin is not a cure. Neither is cinnamon.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Definitely invisible. I appreciate the choice of how visible or invisible I want my diabetes to be. Though I normally don’t, if I choose to hide my diabetes, I can.

13. Regarding working and career: I’m a medical librarian, a diabetes blogger and advocate, I teach, I speak, I travel, and I do anything that anyone else can…and I do it with Type 1 diabetes. I would love to someday have a job working closer with diabetes, on a diabetes hub, maybe with a company that focuses on diabetes, or that will work with me to work with others with diabetes. I absolutely love meeting other people with diabetes, sharing with them, helping them, and seeing that look when a parent realizes that their child with diabetes is going to grow up and be okay, or when that adult with diabetes finally finds someone else to share with who simply gets it.

14. People would be surprised to know: That even after more than 30 years with diabetes, there is still much of it that I can’t explain. For example, how can my CGM tell me that I have a “Low Predicted” and then an hour later I’m high with a BG of 170 mg/dl? Diabetes is pure nonsense sometimes.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: It’s not new, but I still can’t accept that there is anything that I can’t do because I have diabetes. Yes, this gets me in trouble sometimes. No, it doesn’t stop me.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: I’ve never believed there was anything I couldn’t do with diabetes. Still, I like to push the envelope. Skydiving is fun.

17. The commercials about my illness: When I see a commercial about diabetes, I feel like it is targeting the vast majority of people who have Type 2 diabetes, and usually an older audience. I like Wilford Brimley and all, but that isn’t my generation, so I really wish someone would do something that appeals to those of us with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who are under the age of retirement.

Wilford Brimley

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Life with diabetes is all I’ve ever known, but I miss what I imagine it is like not having to carry so much diabetes stuff around with me. Sometimes I feel like the trash lady from Labyrinth, especially when I travel and end up carrying enough diabetes supplies to last me for two months, even though I’m only going to be gone for two days.

Labyrinth Trash Lady

19. It was really hard to have to give up: Although I don’t think my personality is that of someone who would thrive in the military, it does sometimes aggravate me that diabetes took away the option for me to join a branch of the armed forces. Still, I appreciate that I am able to be here, alive and well, so that I can appreciate all of those who have.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Blogging and engaging with the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life with diabetes so far.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: I don’t feel abnormal, except when my blood sugar is too low or high. I wouldn’t be opposed to a day without having to monitor my blood sugar and every single thing that I do and eat. If I could have that, I’d probably just spend all day pigging out in the candy shop at Walt Disney World.

22. My illness has taught me: Patience, and the fact that I don’t have enough of it.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing that people say that gets under my skin is: “How sick are you?” I want to really make them feel awkward and answer that question with something akin to, “Well, at night I dream of riding horses naked in the rain, while hunting dinosaurs with rocket launchers, and then after a good hunt sitting down to a feast of buffalo pterodactyl wings and celery sticks. With ranch dressing.” I’m weird.

24. But I love it when people: Take the time to ask me questions, and clarify what they know or thought they knew about diabetes.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “You can turn painful situations around with laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.” — Bill Cosby

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: You can do this. And you will do this. And you will be better because of it. Because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: That most of the time I don’t feel ill from it. Awesomesauce!

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: When you have a low blood sugar with diabetes, it tends to wreck all plans of whatever was happening prior to that moment. I am always and eternally grateful for the folks that put me first when I have a low blood sugar and need a little help. Here is one such story.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: If just one person reads this and learns something new about diabetes, then that is one person who is more empowered than they were three days ago when they started reading this list. (It’s a long meme!)

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Grateful. Whether you have diabetes yourself, or someone you care about has it, I hope you were able to take away something worthwhile.

I think it will be interesting to look back on these answers and see how and if they change with time. Are you curious? Do it!

1st Blogiversary

1st Blogiversary: How It All Started

I was trying to think how I wanted to celebrate my very first blogiversary here at Diabetically Speaking. At first I thought of highlighting a favorite post from the past year, like this one, or this one, or even this one. But then I decided I wouldn’t do that. That would just be shameless. Instead of sharing another one of my favorite posts, I decided to share the story of how Diabetically Speaking got started. That is much more important than a post that I think stands out.

In 2007, a best buddy and I were out on A1A in south Florida going for one of our ritual weekend road bike rides. At some point he and I got to chatting about how I deal with my diabetes while we’re doing our long bike rides. That is far from a short discussion, but as we talked, I realized that I had a lot of experience with this disease. I had been living with diabetes for over 25 years at the time. Then to hear someone who doesn’t even have diabetes be so interested in my story, it really got me to thinking. What if I had a place to share my life with diabetes, and to be a voice for those that don’t have one?

I really thought hard about it as we ticked off the miles, and I left the bike ride that day so excited about my revelation of how I needed to start a web site called Diabetically Speaking to get my story out there. The idea didn’t get much in the way of support though, and it almost immediately lost momentum.

A year passed before the idea came up again. I purchased the domain name and got started developing what would eventually turn into what you are reading now. Unfortunately, I was going through a really rough time in my life, both personally and professionally, and I got as far as typing the name Diabetically Speaking in the blog title area before the idea ran out of steam yet again.

Almost two years passed where the only attention that Diabetically Speaking got was my annual renewal of the domain name and the server space that it was sitting on.

In February of 2010 I met A-Flizzle, and I had decided shortly before we met that I was done with living my life with diabetes in the closet. There is so much more to me than just diabetes, but diabetes is a very big part of who I am. Just about every decision that I have ever made was done so with diabetes in mind. The first time we met, I told her that I had diabetes. I may have also told her that I was bionic since I had the insulin pump on me and all, but still, for one of the first times in my life I didn’t hide my diabetes and downplay it as if it was no big deal.

And for one of the first times in my life, the person whose support I needed most, even if I didn’t quite know it yet, didn’t downplay my diabetes either.

After several months of encouragement and development, I finally launched Diabetically Speaking to the world on August 20th of last year. I’ll admit, my first few blog posts were a bit rough around the edges. It takes some time to find your voice, even on a blog. Now, of course, every post I write is completely perfect. (See also: sarcasm.)

On This Day in 2010

Without support, there is very little in our lives that we can have success with. This blog hasn’t always been a success, and I don’t expect it always will be. We don’t grow by always succeeding; we grow by failing and learning how to do things better next time. I just hope that both me and this blog are here for a long time to connect, share, and be the voice for all of those with diabetes who are still searching for a voice of their own.

Thank you all for supporting Diabetically Speaking for the past year. Maybe next year we will all be cured and I can rename this blog to Diabetically Spoke.

Update

Celebrating my 1-year blogiversary with a big ol’ M&M cookie (and 2 dogs who would be more than happy to celebrate with me!)

1st Blogiversary

Martin - Class Prep

What Diabetes?

Last week I took my medical librarian know-how to the classroom to teach a group of doctors how to find and use medical images for their research and teaching methods. As I was leaning over helping one of them learn how to successfully manipulate an image, I overheard a couple of doctors behind me chatting about me, or more precisely, “that thing on his side.”

I wasn’t mic’d for sound (this time), as the room was plenty small enough and I was able to project my voice plenty loud enough to not need to be wired into the room’s audio. When I overheard them, I didn’t jump right around and whip out my broken pancreas club membership card and secret handshake. Instead, I chose to let them go for a bit. After all, they are doctors and far smarter than I am. Surely they can figure out what that contraption is on my side, right?

They spent only a few moments debating about whether or not it was a wireless microphone, and moved on to the temporary conclusion that it must be the clicker for my PowerPoint presentation. Granted, I was using a PowerPoint clicker, but that was in my hand. I like to imagine I’m a weatherman when I get to use the PowerPoint clicker. Nevertheless, moving on…

Maybe the light hit me just right, or maybe I turned at just the right angle, but finally I heard one of them say, “Oh, that’s an insulin pump. He must have diabetes.” Followed by a pause for consideration. Then one of them said, “That’s impressive.”

Pride. That’s what I felt. Not for me so much, but for those of us who quietly live everyday with diabetes and don’t let it stop us from making a difference in the lives of others. We don’t let it stop us from helping others. We don’t let diabetes stop us from doing anything.

I never had a chance to acknowledge their overheard conversation, but I like to imagine that they went back to their hospital or their practice the next day and told their colleagues about how good of a class they took, and how this charming and incredibly attractive guy kept them engaged, learning, and laughing for a solid two hours. I hope that they got a glimpse of someone with diabetes who was thriving, living, and making a difference in the lives and abilities of others. At that point, I wasn’t a patient, or someone that needed their medical advice, or their prescriptions, or their years of medical education and experience.

I hope that they appreciated that diabetes was there in the room with us, but that it wasn’t in the spotlight. Because I certainly did.

Martin - Class Prep

In the office, getting ready for class.