Category Archives: Milestones

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.

26 Years: Let’s Go.

Well, it’s happened again. I’ve managed to check off another year of living with Type 1 Diabetes.
26
The official milestone occurred on January 30/31 (it’s a long story). I went to work, where things were crazy busy, but I managed to get through it. After work, I went home, had a modest dinner, and wrote a little. Kinda boring, right?

That’s the thing this year. It’s not that announcing that I’m still here after 26 years isn’t wonderful. But I think I may have moved over from the “how many years can I rack up living with diabetes?” phase to the “how much more of my life can I live with diabetes?” phase. So far, I’m a little over a year short of diabetes being with me for half of my life.

Go ahead… do the math… I’ll wait.

I guess it would be natural to wonder, since I’m almost in my mid-fifties, if I should be worried about whether I’ll be around much longer considering my chronic health status. But I don’t really think in those terms.

It’s a normal thing to consider, but I also try to remember that the time spent worrying about what might happen (and when it might happen) takes time away from the time I have left to make the rest of my life meaningful. And fun. And spectacular. Besides… who, other than a teenager, thinks of someone my age as near the end?

26 isn’t a big diaversary, and I didn’t do anything fantastic to celebrate. Not that doing so isn’t okay. To be honest, I’m happy as hell to have made this milestone. But I’m more interested in what year 27, and 37, and 47, and all the years in between have in store. I’m not afraid, and I’m ready for the experience. Let’s go.

Here’s to 2016.

I have to admit, it’s been quite a year.

Full of meetings and partings, full of new issues, and always full of interesting twists and turns, 2016 was eventful indeed.

I didn’t get a chance to participate in clinical trials this year, but I did get to do what feels like my first meaningful work for People With Diabetes by facilitating at the Diabetes UnConference, and representing DPAC at Friends for Life. There were fewer blog posts than in recent years, but I’m kinda seeing that from everyone these days.

We are up to 80 plus Champion Athletes With Diabetes medals awarded all time, thanks to some amazing athletes who shared their inspirational stories of perseverance this year.

There were some great podcast interviews, and though they are pretty infrequent, I’m still getting a kick out of interviewing my guests. Every conversation is different and very interesting. More interviews to come in 2017.

I haven’t done this for a couple of years, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell my year in photos. Check out the captions for specifics. Here goes:

2016 was the year I finally settled on a new insulin pump: the Animas Vibe.

2016 was the year I finally settled on a new insulin pump: the Animas Vibe.


Loved participating in Diabetes Podcast Week.  Can't wait until 2017's edition!

Loved participating in Diabetes Podcast Week. Can’t wait until 2017’s edition!


At the JDRF Type One Nation research summit in March, I finally met diabetes (and RA) blogger from Baltimore, Molly Schreiber.

At the JDRF Type One Nation research summit in March, I finally met diabetes (and RA) blogger from Baltimore, Molly Schreiber.


The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni.  I facilitated for the first time.  A meaningful event made even more meaningful.

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni. I’m somewhere in the back. I facilitated for the first time. A meaningful event made even more meaningful.
(image courtesy of The Diabetes Collective, Inc.)


The Children With Diabetes organization came back to the D.C. area for Friends For Life in Falls Church, Virginia in April. Their website says they're coming back in 2017.

The Children With Diabetes organization came back to the D.C. area for Friends For Life in Falls Church, Virginia in April. Their website says they’re coming back in 2017.


April was a busy month that included the Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum in Los Angeles.  Great to spend time with more awesome advocates.

April was a busy month that included the Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum in Los Angeles. Great to spend time with more awesome advocates. I’m somewhere in the back.


Thank you Karen Graffeo for years of Diabetes Blog Weeks.  2016's week was superb, and I discovered more new blogs!

Thank you Karen Graffeo for years of Diabetes Blog Weeks. 2016’s week was superb, and I discovered more new blogs!


Coming back from knee surgery last year, I was able to run my neighborhood 5k in July.

Coming back from knee surgery last year, I was able to run my neighborhood 5k in July. I’ll be back next year, and I have definite plans for at least one bike ride.


I was proud to represent Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition at the big enchilada, the Friends for Life gathering in Orlando in July.  I was also extremely fortunate to spend time with great people, including Karen and Pete Graffeo, and one of my favorite writers, Cara Richardson.

I was proud to represent Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition at the big enchilada, the Friends for Life gathering in Orlando in July. I was also extremely fortunate to spend time with great people, including Karen and Pete Graffeo, and one of my favorite writers, Cara Richardson.


Encouraged by a few people I met in July at Friends for Life, I applied for and received my 25 year Journey medal from Lilly Diabetes.

Encouraged by a few people I met in July at Friends for Life, I applied for and received my 25 year Journey medal from Lilly Diabetes.


The Diabetes UnConference made its way to Atlantic City in September.  I'm wearing my Lilly 25 year medal on this day, sitting with the other facilitators in the front row.

The Diabetes UnConference made its way to Atlantic City in September. I’m wearing my Lilly 25 year medal on this day, sitting with the other facilitators in the front row.
(image courtesy of The Diabetes Collective, Inc.)


Cherise Shockley started with a goal of 12 hours of diabetes Twitter Chat on World Diabetes Day in November.  It turned into a full 24 hours of talking diabetes, with many moderators (including me), from around the world.I have been so fortunate to help moderate the Wednesday DSMA Twitter chat at least once per month this year.

Cherise Shockley started with a goal of 12 hours of diabetes Twitter Chat on World Diabetes Day in November. It turned into a full 24 hours of talking diabetes, with many moderators (including me), from around the world.
I have been so fortunate to help moderate the Wednesday DSMA Twitter chat at least once per month this year.


Insulin pricing has been an issue for a number of years, but it has gotten more notoriety lately, in part due to Senator Bernie Sanders' tweets.  There will likely be more discussion on this issue in the coming year.  See some of my recent blog posts to see my thoughts. (image courtesy of Twitter)

Insulin pricing has been an issue for a number of years, but it has gotten more notoriety lately, in part due to Senator Bernie Sanders’ tweets. There will likely be more discussion on this issue in the coming year. See some of my recent blog posts to see my thoughts.
(image courtesy of Twitter)

This isn’t everything either… I was able to attend an FDA workshop in August. There was the dustup over United Health Care’s decision to limit access by entering into agreement with Medtronic, making them the exclusive provider for insulin pumps through their insurance in the USA. And there’s FDA’s approval of the Medtronic 670g, the hybrid closed loop system that brings us closer to a truly artificial pancreas solution.

Those are just the things I’ve experienced this year. Of course, my diabetes is not your diabetes, so your year may have been different. However this year has gone for you, I hope that it has been filled with happiness and many new acquaintances. Even more so, I hope that 2017 brings you and I the best year yet. We deserve it! And please remember: I support you… no conditions.

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