Monthly Archives: December 2013

What a year.

Holey Moley, it’s been an amazing year. 2013 went by so fast.

Back in October, I wrote about how one thing at a time, over time, can add up to a lot if you just keep at it. This is very true for me when I think about the past year.

The following list is not designed to say “Here’s what I’ve done—what about you?”. Instead, it’s a reminder for myself, to remember during times when I feel like I’m not doing anything. Also, it’s a recap of the year that’s been, a Bridget Jones-like reference of the previous twelve months.

My life in 2013 included, in no particular order:

One noteworthy anniversary

– Participation in two clinical trials

Not participation in two other clinical trials. That’s right… I was disqualified from another AP study. Don’t want to talk about it.

– One entire week of gluten free eating (My Week with Celiac)

– Two 55 mile bike rides

– One 5K run with The Live-In Niece

– One Book Review (Shot – Staying Alive With Diabetes by Amy Ryan)

– A chance to meet Cherise Shockley for the first time, and begin to understand her passion for connecting others and helping them live better, more meaningful lives with diabetes. I left that meeting ready to charge up the hill for DCAF.

– A Chance to meet Scott Johnson in person for the first time, and an opportunity to meet Karen, Kerri, Shannon, and Christopher too. There were several others I met in passing that weekend that go unmentioned, but not forgotten. The CWD Focus on Technology conference definitely ranks as a major highlight of the year.

One appearance on DSMA Live with Cherise Shockley and Scott Johnson

– Attendance at the DSMA Live meetup in Philadelphia in August. That meant a chance to see Cherise and Scott again, and meet Kelly and Allison and Brea (and her Mom) and Penny and Colleen and Maria and many more wonderful people who I can’t remember right now.

– While we’re on a DSMA kick, I should mention the countless #DSMA Twitter chats that I was lucky enough to take part in this year, including a special hour that I was honored to moderate on World Diabetes Day in November. Hands down, that was the fastest hour of the year.

– Also high on the list was the Manning Diabetes Symposium in Charlottesville back in April. Lots of talk about diabetes research from a number of experts in the field. I think I was the only one there that didn’t have a bunch of letters after the name on my lanyard, but I didn’t care. I soaked it all up like a sponge. Thanks to UVA’s Center for Diabetes Technology (I’m looking at you Molly) for letting me attend.

– One more event to mention: The JDRF Research Summit in the D.C. area back in March. There’s another coming up this March. Get all of the information at http://jdrfsummit.org.

– Finally: Five Medals were handed out to real bona fide Champion Athletes With Diabetes. And we’re just getting started. I can’t wait to hand out every medal we have, then order more to give away! To find out more, click on the medals image in the upper left part of this page. Or just click here.

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Wow, did all of that really happen? It all flew by really fast. Even so, I think know I would rather have participated in all these things that seemed to have happened so quickly, rather than missing even one. I wasn’t responsible for a lot of the things I was a part of this year, but I was glad to participate or help wherever I could.

With all this said, even though I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kind of guy, I do have a few things on my list for 2014. I don’t know if I’ll get to all of them. But I know it’s shaping up to be another interesting year searching for the Happy Medium.
 
 
 

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Taking control of your diabetes message.

Hi! I hope everyone had a wonderful December 25th, however you celebrate it, or even if you don’t. For the record, my Christmas was very nice, with a quiet gift opening in the morning, followed by a completely bolus-worthy breakfast (I only get bacon a few times every year, and Christmas is one of those times). In the afternoon, we all went to my nephew’s home and did some more gift exchanging, hung out with him, his wife, and my great niece (who is also a great niece), and enjoyed an early dinner. All in all, it was a super day that left me feeling very blessed. Which, if you know the cynical side of me, sounds absolutely strange. I guess there still is some magic left in Christmas.

I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have to deal with lots of friends and relatives at this time of year who begin with the “Can you eat that?”, work their way through the “If you eat better and exercise more, maybe you can get off the insulin”, and finish with the “My co-worker has a sister who lost her toes a couple of years back”. I think there are a few reasons why.

First, my friends and family make an effort to actually know something more than the basic jargon that gets regurgitated by talking heads on TV. They don’t know about insulin-to-carb ratios or how fat in your diet holds back the effectiveness of the insulin you’ve got on board. But they know that exercise can drive your BGs down in a hurry. They know that insulin actually brings your glucose down, not up. They understand that too much insulin is bad, and not enough insulin is bad, and getting to that Goldilocks state (just right!) means that there’s some math involved, and the perfect BG is a moving target, so it’s not a walk in the park.

Second… to put it into two words… They Listen. They may or may not ask how I’m doing, but if the subject comes up and I talk about diabetes, they honestly listen to what I have to say about it. And they retain some of that information, because they often ask me about it the next time they see or hear from me. I don’t know when this started happening, but I’m glad it’s happened. I’m not saying that everyone should listen intently to everything I say on the subject, but it’s nice to know that I get at least as much attention as the talking head on TV.

Finally, and I can’t stress this enough: I take control of my diabetes message. You wouldn’t think of me that way if you’ve ever met me. If we meet and I don’t know you, I’ll try to remain unassuming and in the background a bit until you’re comfortable with me. But if we’re talking about diabetes, and especially if you’re challenging me on my diabetes, I guarantee you I’ll be doing everything I can to direct the conversation in a way that’s informative, and mostly positive. I’m not going to let someone with antiquated notions of this chronic condition or with incorrect information control the conversation. I’m going to try to explain what Diabetes 2014 looks like (it’s almost 2014—right?), and I’m going to try to put it into terms that the non-diabetic can understand, and take with them to the next conversation about diabetes that comes up in their lives. I am doing this in a deliberate, conscious way.

Why do I do this? Why do I make this effort? Is it because I’m a crazy, rabid diabetes advocate? Well, I try to be a diabetes advocate whenever I can (reference the Diabetes Advocates button on your left—I’m a member), but that’s not quite the idea here. The thing is, I’ve had those moments with friends or at work, where people just say things that don’t make any diabetes sense, and I’ve let it roll off my back without saying a word. I don’t do that anymore because keeping it to myself doesn’t feel nearly as good as opening up a window and letting in the fresh air of truth. In some cases, people may just let my words roll off their back and forget about everything I say. But at least I’ve let them know that my diabetes is my diabetes, and it’s different from what they’ve heard in the past, and I’m not Aunt Clara and yes, I’d love a small slice of that pumpkin pie, thank you.

So my advice, if you’re asking:

– You are living and surviving with diabetes, or your son/daughter/spouse/etc. is. You never have to apologize or be defensive, or be silent about that.

– Stay informed. Talking well about your diabetes means knowing as much about your diabetes as you can. It also makes it easier to answer questions when you get them (I love questions! It means the other person in the conversation is engaged).

– Never miss an opportunity to set the record straight. The more we let truth in, the less room there is for myth.

– If possible, try to put things in terms that someone not living with diabetes can understand. Work on your message like it’s a sound bite, or an elevator speech. You know, like you’re riding an elevator with someone important, and you only have 20 seconds to deliver your message before they arrive at their floor.

– Remember how networks are created: In this case, one person at a time. Remember that your message to one person may be rebroadcast to many others. Do you want them to rebroadcast your message, or their version of diabetes? How would each of those outcomes make you feel?

Good luck with crafting and delivering your very important, amazing message to the world.
 
 
 

December DSMA Blog Carnival: Out with the old, in with the new.

As we near the end of the year, December’s DSMA Blog Carnival prompts a little soul searching, asking what we would do away with from our diabetes lives from 2013, and what we would like to bring to our D-lives in 2014. The subject:

Out with the old, in with the new – Diabetes Style

What would I give up from my diabetes life in 2013? What do I want to say goodbye to? Duh! How about getting rid of my diabetes entirely? I’d like a cure to welcome the new year, thankyouverymuch. Let’s do away with glucose checks and infusion sites and hypoglycemia treatments forever. I’d like to say adios to the cost of caring for a chronic condition too.

Okay, back to reality. Diabetes is here, and it’s not going away in the next couple of weeks. So what do I really want to change?

Well, it’s not so much a change as it is a continuation, or improvement this year. I want to continue eating healthier. Mostly, using fresher fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy sourced from places closer to home. I really made an effort in 2013 to cook more, with better ingredients. And while my waistline hasn’t changed much, how I feel certainly has changed for the better. I feel like I’m on the right track, and I want to continue eating better.

That’s more difficult in the winter. But even if I can’t get local fruits and vegetables right now (I live in Maryland), I can work on getting meats, dairy, and if I’m lucky, a few root vegetables or fresh herbs from local farmers. You know… places where I know what I’m getting, and where it’s coming from. Going local also allows me to find providers that don’t fill up their livestock with a bunch of steroids, or use a ton of pesticides on my fruits and veggies. In addition, getting foodstuffs from nearby farms means delivery of food when it’s ready, without delays of days or weeks while items are trucked from far away states or flown in from other countries. Believe me: eating something fresh off a local farm tastes waaaaay better than eating the same thing from the big-box grocery store.

I started this trend in the past year, and I hope to explore it more in the new year. Obviously, I won’t be able to avoid the grocery store completely. But just like with diabetes, doing better than yesterday is a victory in itself. Constant improvement, or trying for constant improvement, is what’s important. I wish you all the best as you toss out the old, and bring in the new greatness to your diabetes life in 2014.

This post is my December entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetescaf.org/2013/12/december-dsma-blog-carnival-3.

 
 
 

Happy Winter Solstice.

Saturday marks the Winter Solstice, the official beginning of winter in America. It’s also the last weekend prior to Christmas. So with apologies to those who were spinning the dredel around Thanksgiving, and others who don’t celebrate the upcoming holiday, here are a few photos from our December in Baltimore.

Every year our neighborhood lights a giant tree, and Santa pulls the switch.  Then the fire dept. rides him around on a truck.

Every year our neighborhood lights a giant tree, and Santa pulls the switch. Then the fire dept. rides him around on a truck.

These next two are along my walk to work in the morning.

These next two are along my walk to work in the morning.

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The Great Spousal Unit, The Live-In Niece, and myself at our holiday open house.

The Great Spousal Unit, The Live-In Niece, and myself at our holiday open house.

Max the Cat sleeping on a Christmas pillow.

Max the Cat sleeping on a Christmas pillow.

This year's Christmas tree.

This year’s Christmas tree.

Finally, some photos from the Rawlings Conservatory in Baltimore.  Every time I'm bummed out in the winter, I go here.

Finally, some photos from the Rawlings Conservatory in Baltimore. Every time I’m bummed out in the winter, I go here for a pick-me-up.

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Enjoy the weekend!
 
 
 

Diabetes University

The Great Spousal Unit is thinking of taking a few adult learning classes next year, and she picked up a course listing from the local community college. She knows what she wants to study, so her choices were obvious.

When I pick up a catalog like that, I can’t help but peruse the variety of classes offered by an institution. Everything from A+ Certified PC Repair Technician to Veterinary Assistant. I love reading course descriptions about HVAC repair and Kung Fu and wondering, could I really do that? Kind of like when I was a kid, looking at maps and wondering, could I go there? What would that be like? Oh hell… I still do that.

This time, as I thumbed through the courses a few things under Health, Fitness, and Wellness caught my eye. Classes like “Healing with Crystals and Gemstones”. If that’s something you’re really into, you can also take “Advanced Crystals: Healing with Crystals and Gemstones”. How about “Awaken Your Purpose Through Numerology”? My brain is filled with numbers all day already, so I’m not sure how much my purpose needs to be awakened (Awoke? Wakened? How about “Awaken Your Purpose Through Proper Grammar and Spelling”?). There’s also “Think Yourself Healthy”. That caused a V-8 slap to the forehead and an exclamation of “Whyyyy didn’t I think of that?”.

These course offerings did make me think about diabetes, though (admit it—you knew I was going there). What kind of wellness courses could be offered by People With Diabetes, for People With Diabetes?

A few of these are serious… the ones under Alternate Choices are just for fun. My apologies to anyone who may already be teaching courses like these. Honest, I’m not stealing your idea.

Serious Courses

Social Media and Diabetes – You Are Not Alone
Learn how to find online resources who are discussing subjects of particular interest to you and your diabetes. Explore real-life experiences told on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and more. Course includes membership at TuDiabetes.org and MyGlu, as well as participation in the weekly DSMA Twitter Chat. Requirements: Internet access, empathy, and a willingness to tell your story too.

Diabetes Math 101
Learn why math is so important to managing your diabetes. Instructors will cover everything from calculating bolus amounts to determining the proper insulin to carb ratio, and how exercise and diet affect your ability to use insulin. By the end of the course, students should be able to manage glucose readings, CGM data, and pump information to help maintain an optimum balance between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL as often as possible.

Pregnancy with Diabetes
In this course, prospective mothers and fathers learn how to prepare for, and how to manage through, pregnancy with diabetes. Course includes history of diabetes/pregnancy myths (“I am not Shelby”), and why preparation and micro-managing your glucose is the key to delivering a healthy baby.

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Alternate Choices

Interpreting Hypoglycemic Dreams
Our minds work overtime when we’re suffering a low, especially while sleeping. Learn from a “certified” astrologer what it means when your glucose is under 50 and you’re imagining your spouse riding a purple elephant on the wall of your living room. Course materials include a diary to log your most disturbed unconscious thoughts while you’re bottoming out.

Guide to Alternate Infusion Set/CGM Sites
Learn that your arm isn’t just for picking up your child or driving. Find out why your hips are not just for doing the salsa. Experts detail the use of those “other sites” that manufacturers and the FDA won’t tell you about. Warning: This course is not for credit. Students must sign a release exonerating the instructors and the university from all liability before starting class.

Mastering Glucose Food Enemies (Foodemies?)
We all have those foods that are so yummy, yet so crummy to our BGs. Students in this class will learn the basics of the square wave, dual wave, and super bolus. Begin to get the upper hand on foods like pizza, ice cream, and more. As always, moderation is key. Final class includes cupcakes! Prerequisite: Diabetes Math 101.

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Okay, now it’s your turn. What are some of the course offerings you’d like to see at Diabetes University?
 
 
 

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