Category Archives: Milestones

Transitioning into year 29

It dawned on me over the weekend… Last week, I hit the 28th anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis. Given the fact that I’m 56, nearly 57, I’ve now lived about half of my life with this condition.

I have to be honest. I’m just too busy these days to consider the impact of another diaversary. There is too much going on in my personal and professional life to spend much time worrying, celebrating, or even contemplating what 28 years means.

Just reading that gives me the willies. But I’m working on it. I’ve been telling close friends that I’m working on unspooling my life over the next year or two.

My schedule is just wound too tight right now. It’s too full of things I don’t get joy from, and not full enough of things that make me feel good. So… unspooling is an operative word for me right now.

I don’t know what the end game of that looks like. But I’m not afraid of it either. It will probably involve transitions, and will probably involve things that I’m not involved in right now. But the focus is: more joy, less meh.

This isn’t just about diabetes advocacy. It’s about everything. I’m not spending enough time with friends and family. I’m not enjoying my time off enough. I’m not challenging myself anymore… I’m just checking off the boxes.

I think the positive thing is that I’m in a good place with my diabetes. My numbers are good. I have to choose a new insulin pump in the next nine or ten months, but I’m not too worried about that. I’ve come to grips with the everyday CGM ups and downs, and I’m okay with that too.

As a result, I think I’m starting to consider what the next phase of my life will look like. I’m not in the next phase yet, but instead of living in the moment (or even worse, living in the past), I’m actually looking forward, and I like what I see in the future.

The passage of time isn’t always bad. We learn from what we’ve experienced, and we can certainly look back and say 1) I’m glad I lived through it; and 2) I’m glad I don’t have to go through that again.

And it informs what we do going forward, hopefully in a most positive way. I like how year 29 of my diabetes is shaping up. Watch this space for more in the coming months!

2018: Happy Exhaustion

Can you believe we’ve almost made it through 18 years of this century already?

The latest trip of our planet around the sun has been one where I was actively involved in something (and often, more than one something) throughout the year. At times I felt tired, accomplished, tired again, and honored.

One thing is for sure: I’m not finished yet. There is more to do, and while I’m looking forward to working on many of the same projects, I’m also looking forward to changing things up now and then.

For now though, it’s time to reminisce, and consider the year as a whole:

That included previewing the Freestyle Libre, which I found to be reliable and easy to use. I’ll stick with my Dexcom for the alerts, but the Libre gives all of us more choice, and that’s good.

The news wasn’t all good this year. I was among the many who grieved over the loss of our friend Judy Reich. It’s still so hard to believe she’s gone, and I’m proud of the Diabetes UnConference alumni who made the trip back to Las Vegas for her memorial service.

Speaking of Las Vegas, I found the HIMSS (Health Information and Management Systems Society) annual conference to be huge, crowded at times, primarily focused (as you might expect) on business rather than patient outcomes, and exhilarating all at the same time. The information gathering was like drinking from a fire hose sometimes, but I loved it.

Less than two months later I was traveling to Chicago for the first time in 30 years, to attend HealtheVoices18. Seeing old and new friends living with diabetes and 40 other chronic conditions did a lot to recharge my batteries and help me to be inspired all over again. Also, I was honored to be asked to take part in something later in the year. I’ll get to that in a minute.

In June, I took a day off from work to go to Bethesda, Maryland to do a little video shoot. The backstory is, I didn’t think it went too well, I didn’t look my best that day, and I was sure everything I recorded was going to be left out of the compilation that was being put together. But I was wrong… at AADE in Baltimore in August, the #LanguageMatters video debuted before about 3,000 diabetes educators. I couldn’t have been prouder of my diabetes friends who were a part of this video, and I’m so grateful to Deborah DeMore Greenwood and Mytonomy for giving me the chance to participate too.

Also that weekend, I shared an incredibly poignant moment with someone who helped me many years ago. In fact, my best moment at AADE didn’t happen at AADE at all.

I can’t believe it’s already been almost three months since the DPAC Policy Training Meeting in Washington, D.C. I learned a lot over that weekend, and I was so happy to be allowed to use my voice to bring important diabetes issues before congressional staffers. Keep your eyes open folks… there should be more of this kind of activity in 2019.

Now, back to that Chicago trip in April. I was pulled aside by one of the attendees, who is one of my best diabetes friends, and asked to help with trying to pull off a Diabetes UnConference alumni weekend gathering in the fall. Without an UnConference in 2018, many of us were missing our tribe.

I don’t know if I personally pulled anything off, but I helped with what I could, and there was a Diabetes UnConference alumni gathering, coordinated by UnConference alumni, in New Orleans in early October. To everyone there, I must have looked like a tired mess (because I was), but it was incredibly satisfying to spend time with 20 other friends who are quite different except for the failed pancreases we all own.

One of the things I enjoy very much is speaking to people about diabetes, and why patient communities online and off are accomplishing great things. I got a chance to do that a few weeks ago in front of a Jewish women’s group locally. As usual, I started off worried I wouldn’t have enough content to fill my time, but wound up going over time anyway. Time well spent, for sure.

Through the year as all this was going on, I managed to write about 95 blog posts, put together fewer podcast episodes than I would have liked, moderated many #DSMA Twitter chats, attended another Friends for Life Falls Church event, and continued working for the citizens of my state on Maryland’s Advisory Council on Health and Wellness. Oh, and I continue to serve on the Reader Panel at Diabetes Forecast magazine (published by the American Diabetes Association).

Next year… well, let’s worry about next year next year, shall we? For now, I’m happy to look back on a year when I was very busy, but very happy to be exhausted at the end of it all.

I hope your 2018 has gone as well as possible, and I wish you all the best in 2019. Thank you for being a part of my life. I support you… no conditions.

Another Blogabirthday.

Today, Happy Medium turns 6. Today, I turn 56 years old. And yes, even though I’m not close to retirement, I’m at least doing the math.

Another Blogabirthday is here.

The 788 blog posts I’ve shared, including this one, have meant so much. This website has given me an extended chance to speak about subjects that have been very important to me.

Okay, there have been recipes and vacation recollections I’ve shared too, but I keep coming back to the main purpose of this blog: To connect, to share my thoughts, to serve as a platform for learning and sharing what I’ve learned. Also, to serve as a personal journal of sorts, so people reading this after I’m gone can see what it was like living with diabetes in the mid 20-teens.

It can’t all be seriousness and clinical thinking though. If that’s what this was about, I think I would have lost my inspiration for it a long time ago. While posts have been a little less frequent in the past year, they’ve still been regular, and that brings me to this thought:

I really, really like writing here. If you write a blog too, you might have a sense of this, but if you don’t, I don’t know if there’s a way to describe how blissful I feel every time I sit down to write something. It never seems like a chore.

This is one of the only places in my life (maybe the only place in my life) where no one can tell me what to say or how to say it. Every time I think about that, I almost get chills thinking of how absolutely free that makes me feel.

There are still many of us writing out our thoughts, educating others, and chronicling our lives online. I’m not unique. I think if you were to ask all of us for a memorable moment from blogging or other social media activism, my guess is we’d all recall something that had a direct impact on the life of one individual.

Readership at Happy Medium has gone up and down and up again over the years. I don’t pay too much attention to the stats. What I pay attention to is when I can express something that makes someone feel better, either physically or emotionally. That makes me want to come back to the keyboard and do the same for someone else, because no one should have to feel like they’re alone living with diabetes.

It’s as true as when I wrote this almost five years ago:

“If you’re only reaching one person, that one person is the most important person in the world… Your story is the most important one in the world to the person moved by it. Don’t let down the one person who needs to hear you.”

Whether you make that connection online or off, this is what makes the Diabetes Community special. Share your story. Use your freedom. Never take it for granted.

What 20 years has taught me.

I’m one of the lucky people in America these days. I’ve been lucky enough to last a couple of decades working for the same company.

Tomorrow will officially mark exactly twenty years since I started working there, and as you might expect, diabetes has intersected a lot of the past two decades. Consider the following:

– I was 35 years old when I started working there

– I had been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 7 years when I started

– I didn’t start wearing an insulin pump until I had been there 12 years

– I didn’t start wearing a CGM full time until I had been there 19 years

Those little nuggets are just for starters. I’m on my fourth insulin product since I began working at my current job. I’ve tried three different CGMs now (four if you count two different versions of Dexcom), and worn at least four insulin pumps, including those worn in clinical trials.

There have been a lot of changes in my diabetes in 20 years, and a lot of change in me. I’ve got less hair, and more weight. I wear more devices, but I haven’t managed my diabetes any better than I’m doing right now.

This milestone is a little different than my 15 year anniversary at work. I’m in a new, much bigger department, so not everyone knows me yet. But in a way, that’s good. I’m beginning to like new challenges, and I’m finding that adapting quickly is one of the surest ways to sticking around after all this time.

We’ve had our ups and downs over the years. Things haven’t always been good, for my job or my diabetes. If you’re lucky, these things usually iron themselves out over time, or you don’t wind up spending a lot of time in your job. Or living well with diabetes.

My job needed to be more empathetic to the minute-by-minute unpredictability of diabetes. I needed to let go of the idea that my job was my identity. I think we both did pretty well.

Where do we go from here? I don’t know yet. I certainly hope I won’t have another 20 years in the workforce. But like I do in this job, I want to keep learning and growing. At work or in real life, my goals aren’t to climb the ladder. Instead, I’d be satisfied if I can just be better.

This is what 27 looks like.

Aaaaand, just like that, I’ve hit the 27 year mark of living with Type 1 Diabetes.

No use burying the lead here. It is what it is. A cliché is a cliché. However, there is something unique about this coming year that makes it different from any other year living with this condition.

This next year is the last year I can say that I’ve lived more than half my life without diabetes. If you’re doing the math… I was diagnosed at age 28, so next year, I’ll officially be even diabetes- and non-diabetes-wise.

”It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.” – Clarence Darrow

Yet, I feel particularly good about this. In fact, I feel pretty good in general. I know I’ve had my medical issues in the past… knee surgery, pneumonia, and an appendectomy all in the past three years. But right now, in this moment, I feel strong.

I haven’t come down with the flu yet. And I got the vaccine back in October, so suck it all you vaccine naysayers. I’m getting a fair amount of rest lately, and I’m handling things at work pretty well during a very busy time.

”Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.” – Stephen Hawking

I don’t know how much interaction I’ll get with my fellow friends living with diabetes this year. I really hope I do. But I have plenty of demands on my time anyway, so I’m going to hope, but not worry about it.

In many ways, I’m going to treat this year as I’ve treated the past several years: do my best, accomplish what I can, don’t worry about the rest. Something is everything, if you know what I mean. I’ve got goals like everyone else, but goals are internal, while accomplishments tend to be outward. That’s the way I think about it anyway.

“It’s crazy, how similar we are. Here’s both of us, working through our stuff, trying to make something positive out of something really bad.” – Jenny Han

I will say that I’m excited about getting the podcast going again. There are many stories waiting to be told, and I can’t wait to get back to listening to people tell them.

You know, it’s funny… here I am talking as if my diabetes is wrapped up in my diabetes social media exploits. It’s not. There are many places where they intertwine, but one is not exactly the other.

”Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” – Carl Sagan

Really, what I want to do today is reflect on the past 27 years. I want to remember what those early days were like. I want to remember the terribly difficult times, and how I got through them. I want to take a moment and be grateful I survived it all. Because you know that with this disease, nothing is guaranteed, decade to decade, year to year, month to month, day to day, or even minute to minute.

27 feels really good today. 28 would be better. 29, 30, and beyond are waiting for me.

”Survival is how I got here. Resilience is how I’ll remain.” – Stephen Shaul

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