Category Archives: Out Of the Box

Be kind. Be supportive.

Do you ever feel like you’ll never be able to catch up? Like, you’re in that dream where you can’t possibly run faster, but you can’t run fast enough?

I think we all experience that sort of thing from time to time. Some people live for that kind of existence… if they’re not struggling to keep up, they think there must be something wrong. Others get overstressed the minute they schedule one meeting to start exactly when the previous meeting is set to end.

Gee… we all react differently to stress. Not exactly a scoop of a story, from my point of view. How we react to stress tells us exactly nothing.

Honestly, we do all react differently to stress, including the fact that some of us don’t even recognize it as stress at all. I think just like diabetes, we all react to stress differently, and we all manage it differently.

And that’s okay. If we had one exact strategy for dealing with the stressors in our lives, you know we’d all be working on it. But most people handle stress with a mixture of dread and resolve, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. There’s no use complaining about the things that get us worked up.

But… and this is a big But… sometimes the stress is too much. Sometimes we can’t just work our way through it. If that’s the case, we need help and we should be okay with seeking it.

Likewise, when someone else is having a tough time of it, instead of just complaining more, instead of judging someone experiencing difficulty dealing with their stress, we should be actively supporting that someone. Helping them feel not alone, maybe reminding them that you’ve been there too, and giving them the space they need to feel like they’re not being manipulated by life like they’re a little marionette.

In the end, it’s not a perfect appointment book or a perfectly clean home or anything else that makes us feel good as much as people do. Let’s remember to be kind this holiday season, but also be supportive. You and your friends and loved ones are well worth the effort.

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8 Things: Holiday gifts for everyone living with diabetes.

Hey, how are you? I hope you’re in the middle of a rather stupendous holiday season.

I hope that gifts are in order this year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or another holiday, giving and getting are AWESOME. So let’s look at 8 holiday gifts all People With Diabetes could really use this year:

1. More support. There are new diabetes diagnoses every day. There are new people waking up, like I did six years ago, realizing their diabetes doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

I hope those people find the hope and support that I found when I found this community. And I hope they pay it forward when they do.

2. Laughter. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I really laughed hard. I’m ready for something really funny to just knock me out of my chair.

Likewise, I think it would be really great if I could make someone else laugh too. I just hope it’s not because I did something really embarrassing at the same time.

3. Retail Competition for Closed Loop Systems. Honestly, the #WeAreNotWaiting movement, and all of the do-it-yourself systems it has spawned, has taken a bit of the wind out of the sails out of the commercial artificial pancreas designers out there.

Eventually, we know these systems (the iLet, Cell Novo, etc.) will be approved, but whenever we start to see rollout of non-DIY closed loop, I hope it’s not just one at a time. Good, reliable technology is what we need, and we need more than one option to choose from.

4. More knowledge sharing. Here at Happy Medium, I try to do my best to keep you as up-to-date as I can on the latest diabetes happenings, especially when it comes to news out of Washington, D.C., and items I gather from attendance at various conferences, research summits, and symposia.

I would like to see more of that from everyone in our community, or at least a sharing of resources for learning about new developments in diabetes. Not just, “Here’s the group I spoke in front of today”– which is still good, and should be shared– but also an occasional post that says, “I read this interesting thing today”, or “This event is happening in your area”. I don’t see much of that anymore.

5. A couple of diabetes memes. I can’t handle something new every week, but it’s fun when we can get out of whatever rut we’re in and post something on a common theme. Hey, I’m not the only one with good ideas!

I love Diabetes Blog Week, and I loved the social media #MakeDiabetesVisible campaign during Diabetes Awareness Month. Again, I don’t need a prompter all the time, but it might be cool to do a #dblog Check-in Day, or Diabetes Art Day, or No-D Day again.

6. A couple of recipes might be nice too. One of my favorite things to do here is share recipes, but I haven’t done a lot of that lately. Have I shared every recipe I know?

Chances are, I haven’t. Chances are, you haven’t either. Maybe it’s time to search our cookbooks (give credit where credit is due) and family recipes and deliver something new for everyone’s palate to enjoy.

7. Less Uncertainty. Let’s face it… we’ve been through the wringer on this Affordable Care Act thing. Ever since this time last year, we’ve all been worried out of our minds about whether ACA will still exist, and whether it will be as helpful and as accessible as it has been up to now.

We’ve always known it was broken. Damn few of us expected a so-called “fix” that would break it entirely. Let’s stop the uncertainty, congress. Let’s take away the roadblocks toward giving Americans the same healthcare rights available in every other decent nation in the world. Do that, congress, and maybe I’ll use the big C when I refer to you again.

8. More Kindness. Any change, meaningful change, change that lasts, begins and ends with kindness. Empathy. Decency. Change that lasts does not include cheating, lying, or calling people, even elected officials, names.

This gift could also go to some of our friends in the diabetes community, who have been less than friendly with people not living with their type of diabetes, or are fans of one cause but not another. We all want the same thing. Bashing each other to get there, or to get more notice, is a recipe for eventual failure. You might get your way initially. But no one is going to be excited about how you got there, and that will be shown in their overwhelming lack of support for you.
 
 
However you celebrate the holidays, I hope they are full of gifts, however you define them. And happiness, however you define it. Here’s to us this holiday season… may we celebrate many, many more!

Egregious E-mail Offenses: November 2017

Here today at Happy Medium, we’re going to start what might turn out to be a fun, and sadly, frustrating series. I’m going to give you a little background on some of the more cray-cray e-mails I’ve received.

When you write as much as I’ve written over the past five and a half years (700+ blog posts), even if you’re not the most read location in the blogosphere, you still get e-mailed like you are. And since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, I’ve gotten a few extras that have really made me scratch my head. Like these:
 
 
Kutting Weight Sauna Suits Help Diabetics Reach Weight Loss Goals
I can’t think of a single soul who would think this is a good idea, for People With Diabetes or anyone else. Trust me, there are ways to lose weight without putting on a scuba suit every day. Who decided it would be suitable to market this to PWDs? Where does the insulin pump go?

On the other hand, a selection from their “premium line of sauna suits” might help me look a little more like Captain America and a little less like Sheriff Buford T. Justice. At least until I pass out.
 
 
NEW – Montgomery County
Is this e-mail a tip about a new diabetes health initiative in this suburban county outside Washington, D.C.? Is it about a town hall meeting on health care? Noooo…

The first line of the e-mail goes like this: “Parking just got easier in Montgomery County.”

The message is for a parking app that can help you find a parking space and pay for it using your smart phone. Fine idea, but I am not the target audience. Especially because I rarely go to Montgomery County, and I use mass transportation to go to work.

The last part of the e-mail goes: “An interview with the CEO of [app name]? Please let me know!”.

Um, yeah, no, because… I WRITE A BLOG ABOUT DIABETES!
 
 
BDF Seeks Treatment Guidelines for BT1D Patients
This one is not only crazy, it makes me mad. In fact, I sent a tersely worded e-mail to the PR rep that keeps sending me e-mails from the (ready for this?) Brittle Diabetes Foundation, after I already supposedly unsubscribed from future e-mails.

This crackpot organization, based in Venice, Florida, counts among its board of directors a PhD, a former mayor of a small town on Long Island, a lawyer, an electrical engineer, an accountant, and a graphic artist. In other words, no medical professionals. Three of the six directors share the same last name.

Basically, they’re pissed off that the American Diabetes Association has not included “brittle diabetes” in its latest Standards of Care documentation. I’m not going to go any further into this, because it gets crazier than that, and I don’t want to give this group any more exposure than I’ve already given them.

To put it mildly, this “organization” is on the lunatic fringe of a community that is already factioned off like containers on a cargo ship headed out of port. It makes me sad, and it makes me mad to think that there is potentially good energy being spent on such a worthless cause.
 
 
I really hope these aren’t the kind of e-mails you get. In fact, how about I give you a tip on how to get super e-mails you can look forward to every month?

Sign up to get updates from diaTribe, the organization that brings both truth and sanity to our community. Go to diatribe.org, scroll down to the bottom of the home page, and put your e-mail address in the box next to where it says, “Get The Latest diaTribe News Right In Your Inbox”. Click Submit, and you’ll be guaranteed to receive at least something useful on a regular basis.

That’s it for November’s installment of Egregious E-mail Offenses. Until next time, remember: I support you… no conditions.

Unless I pass out wearing your wetsuit, have to park in Montgomery County, or have to listen to your uninformed opinions regarding Type 1 diabetes.

8 Questions… just because.

It’s been kind of a whirlwind week, in the middle of two or three whirlwind weeks in a row. Lots of things going on, some important news, and a few really sad stories outside of the Diabetes Community.

Since we’re busy and we’ve had a lot of dark clouds hanging over our collective heads lately, I think we all could use a break. So, without further ado, here are eight interesting diabetes questions based on, well, nothing really. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments. Here we go:

1. Insulin pump or MDI (multiple daily injections)? Or neither? We know that some people who live with Type 2 diabetes don’t take insulin at all, and some insulin users are using inhalable insulin. I’m still working with my Animas Vibe pump, even though Animas has decided to go out of business. Whatever you do to help manage your diabetes, if it’s working, you’re doing the right thing. Isn’t it great to have choices? When we’re allowed to have choices?

2. Dexcom or Libre? With U.S. FDA approval of Abbott’s Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor, I suspect this will be a question asked more and more in doctor’s offices and at diabetes conferences nationwide. These aren’t the only CGMs available, but they’re the only ones available as standalone devices (not required to be paired with an insulin pump). Again, it’s great to have choices, when we’re allowed to have choices.

3. Have you heard of The Affordable Insulin Project? This is another of DPAC’s efforts on an issue that affects millions of Americans. Check out the website and see how you can help spread the word and help make access to the life-saving drug that many cannot live without more affordable. To find out more, go to AffordableInsulinProject.org.

4. Have you donated insulin or supplies to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico? Insulin for Life USA is helping to coordinate efforts to send much-needed insulin and test strips to those impacted by hurricane Maria, and also hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Find out how you can help pay it forward by going to ifl-usa.org.

5. Are you donating blood? All of us were shaken this week by the news that hundreds were gunned down at a concert in Las Vegas. In response, many have donated blood via the American Red Cross. Did you know that many People With Diabetes in the USA can donate blood? Whether it helps victims in Vegas, or those closer to your home, every pint is necessary and so appreciated. I can state unequivocally that donating blood has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Consider donating too, then go to RedCrossBlood.org.

6. Did you watch the Sammies this year? Maybe you missed them because you were concentrating on the Emmys. The Sammies, or Service to America medals, are known as the Oscars of government service. They’re given each year to federal employees who are recognized as “breaking down barriers, overcoming huge challenges and getting results”. That’s especially true of Courtney Lias and Stayce Beck of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who have been instrumental in helping artificial pancreas research move from the “maybe, someday” stage to patient’s hands. I cannot say enough good things about them. Read about their incredible work HERE. Congratulations Stayce and Courtney!

7. Will I see you this weekend? Friends for Life comes to the Washington, D.C. area this weekend in Falls Church, Virginia. If you’re coming, I hope to see you as I advocate at the DPAC table in the exhibit area. Look for a brief recap in this space shortly.

8. Will I see you next weekend? When it rains, it pours, and diabetes events will be pouring over Northern Virginia like monsoon season in Myanmar this October, as the Diabetes UnConference and Diabetes Sisters’ Weekend for Women co-locate in Alexandria October 13-15. I will once again be a facilitator at the UnConference, and I am very much looking forward to getting together for peer-to-peer support, encouragement, and all the feels. I’ll let you know how it goes later in the month.
 
 
Those are my questions of the moment… have any answers, or questions of your own? Let me see yours in the comments below.

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.
tulips_sjs
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.

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