Category Archives: Milestones

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.

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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

2018, you have big shoes to fill.

Well, it’s been a heck of a year, hasn’t it?

2017 has been the most full, and probably most fulfilling, of my years here at Happy Medium. This year has been quite a bit different from previous years too. Different in a good way.

January started with the beginning of my life on Dexcom, inserting the G5 and employing it as a useful tool in my diabetes management. Even if I complained about sensor and transmitter issues, and having to wear one more thing.

February included participation in the second Diabetes Podcast Week. I really love podcasting, and I wish I had more time to fit it into my schedule. I also shared a few notable quotes, and why they inspire me.

In March, I reported for the fifth time on what is now the JDRF TypeOneNation Summit in Bethesda. They’re getting better at bringing adults into the conversation. I also took the time to remind everyone that Nobody Ever Died from Obamacare.

April 1st marked the March for Health, in many cities across America. I was fortunate enough to be able to speak at the march in Washington, D.C., in the shadow of our nation’s capital. I also shared a story from my personal life that showed me how important it is to support your friends. It wasn’t about what I did… it was about what I learned.

Diabetes Blog Week returned in May this year, and it was wonderful, as always. Also in May, I took time to attend a public workshop at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. I learned a lot about FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and the drug approval and after-market inspection process.

June brought about the rollouts of the new Accu-Chek Guide glucose meter, and (finally) the Dexcom G5 Mobile App for Android. I couldn’t be happier. I finished up the month with a meeting among diabetes friends, and it reminded me that we need each other now more than ever.

In July, I completed my local 5k run again, and did fairly well for a 55 year old who is a slow runner. I also attended another in the continuing #BeyondA1c discussions, and it was amazing, even if the information shared, at times, felt like I was trying to drink from a fire hose.

August posts included a note on conversations and my reaction to them. “It is always about enlightenment and being more comfortable being myself, and being myself with my diabetes.”

September was a hard month. I went through an unexpected emergency appendectomy, which included a very unexpected complication. Fortunately, I’m all better now.

In October, I shared my new role as a member of Maryland’s Advisory Council on Health and Wellness, and how this new role means I’ll be serving more than just the diabetes patients in my state. I’ll be serving all of the citizens of my state.

In November, I tried to remind everyone that while advocacy is often practiced with a little “a”, the effects of that advocacy can be very big indeed. I also went to a meeting at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where I discovered that I was Enlightened, but Unknowing.

And in December, I’ve talked about doing a trial of the new-to-the-USA Freestyle Libre CGM. And I presented a list of 8 gifts that People With Diabetes could really use right now.

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the two wonderful Diabetes UnConferences that took place in February and October. Or the fact that we’ve sent out another 15 or 20 Champion Athlete With Diabetes medals. These are feel good stories every single time. I also love hosting the Diabetes By The Numbers podcast, and hope to bring you more episodes in 2018. And thanks to Cherise Shockley and the followers on Twitter for the privilege and fun times shared while hosting some of the #DSMA chats throughout the year.

Thanks also to Christel Marchand Aprigliano for the honor and privilege of representing DPAC at Friends for Life events in July and October. We learn from heroes. We are supported by friends.

This is where I express my gratitude to you for visiting this space on a regular basis… I could do this without you, but it wouldn’t be as meaningful or as fun. Also, I hope that you have had a full and fulfilling year too. Finally, I want to strongly express my desire for all of us to work toward less division, less cost, more access, more support, and mostly, less burden of living with diabetes.

Goodbye 2017… you were a whirlwind, but a remarkable year.

Hello 2018… you have some pretty big shoes to fill.

5 Years. What now?

Over the weekend, I woke up and realized two things. Number one: I’m another year older. Number two: This blog is officially five years old.

This gives me pause, because of something I’ve been keeping (mostly) to myself all this time.

When I started writing here, I decided that I would just keep it going as long as I wanted to write. After all, this has always been part advocacy/part diabetes news/part personal diabetes journal. Then, when things got rolling a bit and it looked like it might be around for a while, I set an internal goal to keep going until I hit five years or 1,000 blog posts.

For the record, I’m at a little over 700 blog and podcast posts to this point. But I have definitely hit the five year mark. I’ve always known this couldn’t last forever. What do I do?

Now I’m at least forced to think about this thing… the end of this thing. After all, you can cover a lot in five years. The Dick Van Dyke Show lasted five seasons, and they had a pretty good run.

So have I, for that matter. I’ve told more stories and seen and covered more developments in diabetes, good and bad, than I would have ever guessed I would five years ago. I’ve tried to be as supportive as I can, while maintaining a fair amount of skepticism regarding the motives of researchers and industry executives. I’ve tried to retain my outrage for things that really matter. As you can imagine, the last five months or so have made that a challenging task.

Is this blog still relevant? Was it ever relevant? These are questions I’m asking myself.

I think I started this blog right at a time when many people flexed from just reading blogs to writing them too. Many diabetes blogs sprung up in the same year that mine did. Some are still around; some are not. Out of everyone who started a diabetes podcast three years ago, I think I was the last. Blogging is still relevant, definitely. And really, I just love podcasting. As for my blog and the podcast… well, I’m relevant to me. How’s that for self serving? I really hope I’ve been relevant to others as well.

When there’s a big development in the diabetes community, I’m rarely the first one to post something about it. Hey, I have a full time day job, you know? Bills are relevant too. When I’m not the first to tell a story, I try to really consider the subject at hand and write carefully, choosing to inform, agitate when necessary, and sometimes twist your head around to focus on something you might not have considered before.

I’ve been lucky enough to be in industry sponsored meetings, at symposia, and at FDA. I’ve attended many conferences and UnConferences, and written about them all. Not all of these events were specifically diabetes-related. It was a privilege to cover all of them. I’ve also been around just long enough now to see new faces in these gatherings, and I have to say that it’s very gratifying to know that there are many passionate advocates out there, learning, and possibly surpassing, anything I’ve ever done. I never worry about what I cannot get to. It’s both a sad and wonderful thing that there are far less spaces for advocates at these things than there are advocates to fill those spaces.

Speaking of advocacy, there has been a lot of it over these last five years. Participation in community initiatives like Strip Safely, and volunteering for Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition. Speaking at an FDA workshop on the importance of improving the landscape on interoperative devices. Speaking April 1st at the March for Health in Washington. Still, I wonder if I’m really a good advocate, or if I’m not as great as I’m making it sound. Despite how wimpy that last sentence sounds, I think it’s good that I question myself on this from time to time.

Photo courtesy of Bennet Dunlap


There are things I’ve written about that I haven’t posted. If you see me in person, ask me about a New York Times reporter referring to diabetes devices like insulin pumps as gadgets in a front page story. My answer might surprise you. Or ask about the amazing health initiative in Las Vegas that I visited back in 2015. I was so impressed, but haven’t been able to publish that one yet.

And boy, have I had some awful blog posts. A review of sugar free Peeps? I hate marshmallow, which is why I had family and friends taste test them. That’s something that should have never been published.

On the other hand, there have been wonderful moments, like when I wrote a sort of love letter to the Diabetes Online Community. That is still the most viewed thing I’ve ever published. And OMG, we’ve given away over 80 Champion Athletes With Diabetes medals. Do you want to feel good? Reward someone for their hard work.

And there have been some personal posts here too, usually from vacation, and the occasional recipe. I’m trying to perfect a couple of new recipes, and if they turn out well, you can bet I’ll share them here. Life can’t be all basals and boluses, right?

So yes, in the end, I’m going to keep writing. I know I have more to say, more to cover. No more goals, though if I reach 1,000 blog posts I’ll likely go through this exercise again. At the rate I’m going, I have over two years to go to get there.

Also, and this is important: I know it sounds hokey, but I can’t wrap this up without thanking all of the wonderful people who have commented, given me encouragement, informed me about what I got right and what I got wrong, and made me feel like this whole exercise has been more than worth it. Thanks to the people who felt that telling their story to me was worth it to them. Thank you to our Champion Athletes With Diabetes medal winners who inspire me always.

Our lives, and our lives with diabetes, are not all the same. I’m a true believer in the notion that our diversity makes us stronger. Thank you for looking in on my life with diabetes for five years. I hope to continue to be worthy of your attention for the foreseeable future.

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