Monthly Archives: February 2017

Sunny, Happy Days.

The weather in my part of the world got into the 70s last week. In February, when the average high reaches around 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit. Seven years ago around this time, we were under almost four feet of snow. This year, daffodils are blooming a month early, and tulips are beginning to push to the surface.
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Despite this being evidence of global warming, I was actually glad to see sunshine and warm temperatures last week. I used the respite from winter to clean up the yard a little, play with the dog, and take on a couple of outside tasks around the house. Why?

Because that’s what you do when you have the opportunity. Days like these don’t come along often. I knew that if I just sat inside somewhere (though I did go to work), I would regret not taking advantage of the gift I was given. And when the weather turned cold again, as it did this week, the return of winter would feel twice as bad.

That’s true with my diabetes too. When I have a good diabetes day, everything is a little easier. Only a little sometimes, but easier. And happier. When that happens, I want to enjoy what I can, while I can enjoy it, without worrying about the bad diabetes day (like yesterday) that might show up at any time.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but if I haven’t, here’s a little backstory: When I was younger, say, 18 or so, even though diabetes wasn’t a part of my life yet, I had a lot of the same attitude. Enjoy the good times, don’t stress over the bad times and what might happen.

Then I spent my 30s and part of my 40s working like a dog, while also living with diabetes. I didn’t take a lot of time off. I was afraid to spend a cent. Even in the good times, I was afraid of what might happen if I didn’t worry about everything all the time. When I did try to let go a bit, I felt like I was going to be punished for not keeping a properly pessimistic viewpoint. I didn’t smile or laugh for a long time.

Without realizing it, I started eating poorly, I drank too much, and I seemed to get sick easily. My A1cs were horrible, and I didn’t know what to do to lower them. I wasn’t sure if I was depressed, but I knew I was really unhappy. I don’t want to suggest I was a hot mess; a lot of people have it a lot worse than I did. I think I had this view of how life should be for me, and what I was living wasn’t it. When you stare at that right in the face, it can really affect you. Too many expectations. Not enough self love.

Eventually, I was able to climb out of the doldrums I was in, and you know what? I found that one of my outlooks from when I was 18 was still true today. I can’t let the parade pass me by. I need to live, not necessarily in the moment all the time, but in the good moments all the time.

The bad times will come. And they will go. That’s what over a half century of living has taught me. But so do the good times.

I spoke a lot during those dark days of wanting to get my enthusiasm back. Even though I’m not the same person I was then, I wanted to find the joy I felt in my younger years.

When today features sunshine and warmth, I need to revel in it before today becomes yesterday. I suggest you do the same. Why? Because you totally deserve the joy. Not at someone else’s expense, like some of those people in Washington. You deserve a little fun and irreverence and unbridled happiness. A day in the sun. Feel the warmth.

Getting Acquainted.

Now that I’m officially several weeks into my life on Dexcom, I just wanted to scribble down some notes for the purpose of keeping a record on how it’s been going so far.
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This is mostly stream of consciousness, but as usual, my stream of consciousness still contains several words. Hopefully, they are ones you’ll want to read. Here are eight observations on the early going with Dexcom.

1. I know that I have FDA approval to bolus based on my Dexcom G5 readings, but I haven’t done it yet. Okay, I may have pushed a one unit correction bolus through once or twice without doing a fingerstick, but that’s all. I’m not blousing for a meal based on my display. I’m confident in my Dexcom– I’m just not confident that it will be perfect 100 percent of the time, every single day. I would hate to over- or under-bolus based on the one time it’s off by a bit. I hate to think of the result of doing that. So, no dice to the bolus-off-Dex so far.

2. I’ve got to remember to order some Skin Tac or Opsite Flexfix or something to hold down my sensor, and soon. The peeling is real, folks.

3. At the Diabetes UnConference, I checked in with a couple of people to get their pointers on doing an upper arm insertion. I also looked at Daniele Hargenrader’s recent video showing her doing this. Then I did it. Then I loved it. It’s mostly out of the way, and the sensor works pretty good there. And the accuracy has been fantastic. Win-win-win.

4. I’m not interested in using my thigh or forearm for sensor placement. I use my thigh a lot for insulin pump infusion sites, and I’m guessing that using my forearm would be painful. This outlook is subject to change, as I should be from time to time. Also, I may be going back to using my midsection for a while anyway. More about that at another time.

5. Based on what I’m seeing up to now, it looks like the basal rate settings on my insulin pump are, frankly, stellar. Whether I’m high or low (you’re welcome Janelle Monae), once the peaks level out, if I don’t touch my pump, the line on my graph is pretty flat. I’m a little shocked, but happy that my endocrinologist and I were able to work this out without the benefit of a CGM to guide us.
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6. I have avoided the newbie temptation to check my CGM graph every two minutes. I think that’s because of my Dexcom experience during clinical trials. Of course, not checking the receiver all the time means I’ve made the mistake of putting it on the table and walking out of the room every so often. I never said I was perfect.

7. That said, can I just say how much I really hate the fact that I still have to look at a pager-sized display to get my readings? I’m not buying the “We’re working on an Android solution” anymore. You’re not… just admit it. If I’m wrong about that, I’ll be the happiest guy around who ever had to eat his own words, and I will gladly eat those words in this very space.

8. Like anything, when things go well, you tend to see something in a very positive light. That’s where I am now. At the beginning, I had a failed transmitter which also cost me a few sensors, and that was extremely frustrating. I realize that how I use my CGM, and how I react to various things affecting my use of my CGM, may very well change over time. But I hope things remain positive. Because for the last couple of weeks, it hasn’t been a big problem to deal with, and that’s the only way I’m going to buy into the notion of wearing my Dexcom every single day.

Those are my initial observations. I wonder how I will feel about my CGM in a year? Only time will tell. The goal is to make it to another year and find out.

Quotes for Life.

For some reason, I’ve been going over a lot of quotes in my head.

”Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” – Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

Quotes often get a reaction out of me. That reaction isn’t always the same. Sometimes, as you can probably imagine, a quote will inspire me. Other times, a quote can help to focus my mind exactly where I need to focus. Many times, especially now, I view quotes through a diabetes lens.

”Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” – C.S. Lewis

After last weekend’s Diabetes UnConference, I’m reminded of that quote a lot. And it makes me feel warm inside.

I learned a while back that I don’t have awesome command of all the words in the world. I’m not the sole source of pithy phrases. On the other hand, I come up with a good one now and then. Or so I think.

Yesterday is only a benchmark. The future is unwritten.” – Stephen Shaul

I try to remember that one when I see a number or have a diabetes experience that I’d rather forget. The truth is, every day will not be perfect. Most of the time, I don’t have any idea what the next five minutes will bring, let alone the next thirty years. Remembering that the future is unwritten helps me focus on the fact that if things are bad today, they don’t always have to be bad. There’s a lot I can accomplish, even if I don’t know what that is yet. And with that in mind:

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky

Most people I know don’t think they deserve the love they would love to accept, if you know what I mean. Including me. It’s something I really want to improve on this year.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I may ignore you rather than confront you, but if you’re going to troll me, I’m not going down in the hole with you.

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe

Sometimes, our friends aren’t perfect. Sometimes, they make you uncomfortable because they order off the menu all the time or they vote for someone that you don’t. Other times, they’re there when you really need them. Sometimes, they give you the biggest boost at the time you’re most vulnerable. If we demand perfection of all our friends, we’re going to be pretty lonely. Actually, I think I just described my next door neighbor.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I try to tell twenty and thirty year olds that, of course, they don’t know everything yet. But they know themselves, and it’s okay to bring a part of themselves to whatever they do. It’s okay to emulate those you look up to, but remember to let your own light shine too. Don’t worry about how… you’ll find a way.

And that leads me to this final quote, which describes a lot of what I think about when I think of my interactions within the diabetes community, online and off:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Happy Friday… are there any quotes that move you? I’d love to read them!

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas: Mission Accomplished.

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Welcomed.

Valued.

Respected.

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2017 is complete. Sessions ended, rooms and signs cleaned up, final dinners and goodbyes over.

My number one goal as a facilitator has been to make each attendee feel welcomed, valued, and respected throughout the weekend. It’s a job I take very seriously.

I want attendees to feel Welcomed as a member of the tribe forever. They will never be alone.

I want them to feel Valued as a human being with an important voice in a growing and increasingly diverse community. Valued as an expert in their diabetes, or valued for their walk with someone they love who lives with diabetes.

I want them to feel Respected in a safe, encouraging, empowering environment where their voice is just as important and worthy of attention as everyone else’s in the room.

Our group in Las Vegas was able to bond over the important concerns that are a part of everyone’s life with diabetes. And also over things that aren’t necessarily basals and boluses, but issues that still affect our blood glucose and our continued dedication to our health just as much.

The truth is, I learned just as much as the attendees, because, as always, it was the attendees who drove the agenda. It was the attendees who shared their lives and bared their souls. It was the attendees who created that wonderful judgement-free space that made people comfortable enough to speak their conscience and listen with an open heart.

Christel is fond of saying that the people in the room at the Diabetes UnConference are the people who should be in the room. I came away with a new appreciation for that notion because our mix of alumni and newbies made this particular gathering noteworthy and unique. You know, like they always do.

There will be a lot of different takeaways after this UnConference. Some people will make changes to their daily routine, or text a new friend they met this weekend now and then to make sure they’re okay. Some will embark on new advocacy measures. Some will try a new device, or drop an existing one. Some will work to help those who don’t have access to the same privileges they enjoy. Some will just cut themselves a little more slack now and then. Some will begin an entirely new level of conversation with their loved one. I am so encouraged to think about their ideas and the successes they will create.

I come to each UnConference eager to help people to feel welcomed, valued, and respected. I leave each UnConference feeling appreciated, honored, and humbled. There is a lot of giving and getting, but I always seem to be one of the lucky ones who receives more than I could ever repay.

The next Diabetes UnConference will be in Alexandria, Virginia October 13, 14, and 15. If you need a place to talk about your diabetes, or your relationship to your loved one’s diabetes, in a unique setting that makes the voice of the participant the center of attention, I encourage you to go to DiabetesUnConference.com and clear your schedule in the middle of October. Find out what I’ve found out: diabetes may not get easier, but life definitely gets better when you #FindYourTribe.

It’s Diabetes Podcast Week! Diabetes By The Numbers presents: Karen Graffeo and Diabetes Sisters Voices

Hello, and welcome to my little part of Diabetes Podcast Week.
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This week, eleven diabetes podcasters and video bloggers are taking part in a week-long diabetes information-fest, and centering once again on the Spare A Rose, Save A Child campaign. So listen to this episode, then use the giving link to make your donation and save the life of a child living in a developing country who is also living with diabetes. More information on Spare A Rose, Save A Child is at the beginning of this episode, and there’s an additional link below.

My guest for this episode is one of my best friends in the world, Karen Graffeo. But that’s not why you should listen to our conversation. You should listen because Karen, in addition to leading Diabetes Sisters’ Virtual PODS (Part Of Diabetes Sisters) group, is helping to lead Diabetes Sisters Voices, a collaboration between Diabetes Sisters, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of North Carolina, TrustNetMD, and the Diabetes Sisters stakeholder advisory board of women and diabetes advocates.

If you’re a woman living with diabetes, there is an easy way for you to participate in this groundbreaking research, and Karen is going to tell you all about it. There’s also a link below. I think I also may have inadvertently convinced Karen to reprise Diabetes Blog Week this spring:) I hope so.
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Reference Material – Click below for more information on this topic

Are you a woman living with diabetes? Find out more and participate in Diabetes Sisters Voices research:
DiabetesSistersVoices.org

Help save the life of a child by using the giving link and donating to Spare A Rose, Save A Child:
LifeForAChildUSA.org/SpareARose

Thanks to Stacey Simms for coordinating Diabetes Podcast Week again. Find out about Diabetes Podcast Week and meet each podcaster by going to:
StaceySimms.com

Karen Graffeo writes about her life with diabetes, and hosts Diabetes Blog Week at:
BitterSweetDiabetes.com

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