Tag Archives: Kerri Sparling

Thank you Kerri

I started blogging a little over seven years ago. By that time, Kerri Morrone Sparling had been writing at Six Until Me for nearly seven of her fourteen years.

Saturday, she published her last blog post at that location. While I’m sad that I won’t be able to go there to find something new, I’m also happy for what comes next for Kerri.

People will occasionally ask me about people in the diabetes community, and what they’re like. When I’m asked about Kerri, all I can say is what you read is what you get. Believe it or not, that makes her unique.

I’ve never reached greatness in anything I’ve been involved in, but I’ve been lucky enough to interact with a number of people over the years who were at the top of their field. Nearly to a person, they all differed from who they seemed to be at a distance. In a couple of cases, they were downright jerks.

But Kerri is different. No secret anger hiding just below the surface, no friendly public persona wrapped around a desire to escape from all human interaction. No asking for everyone else to help with everything else while singularly taking credit for a group achievement.

Every time I’ve encountered Kerri, I’ve walked away from our conversation feeling better. That doesn’t happen often, and it happens even less often when encountering someone who has absolutely no incentive to be nice to me.

Kerri, I’ve also learned from you. I have my own style of writing, but I’ve learned how to write about a difficult subject by watching how you did it. I’ve learned how to take being gracious to a new level. I’ve learned how great it feels to do something nice for someone without anyone ever knowing about it.

I’ve been happy to share the internet with you for seven years Kerri, and happier still that you’ve always been more popular than me. Because you deserve it, and because you’re probably better at dealing with the slings and arrows that are sometimes thrown at someone sitting on such a lofty perch.

I’m going to miss reading the remarkable displays of your rapier wit, and the world will be lesser for it. But… I will be thoroughly satisfied with the Kerri that emerges from this transition.

I realize this is all kind of sappy, and kind of suck up, but I promise not to write about this tomorrow. For now though, I think a little gratitude and celebration are in order.

Thank you Kerri… I know that what comes next will be worth waiting for.

Follow Friday: Dig these super links.

If you know me, you know that I believe in a strong, varied, inclusive Diabetes Online Community. No one of us has a monopoly on all the good ideas or good stories. And while I have benefitted from many in the community who have been strong, varied, and inclusive to me, I want to be the same in return.

My quick post today begins with two examples of people who have been just wonderful to me. It then finishes with two gleaming examples of people who bravely tell their stories and should be recognized for the contributions they also bring to the DOC.


I’ve actually been asked a couple of times about Kerri Morrone Sparling… what’s she really like, they’ll ask me. The answer is she’s exactly like she seems online, only even nicer. She’s an awesome writer, and I’m grateful she remains an important part of our online community. Today, she’s allowed me to guest post on her blog, Six Until Me. I talk about making a new friend in my doctor’s office who was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. It’s a story similar to ones that I’ve read from others over the years, but this was the first time I had the same experience and tried to help someone not feel so alone in those early days with diabetes. I probably couldn’t have handled it without reading those previous examples. I hope my new friend is doing well. Read the story here.
Kerri, it was an honor and a privelege guest posting.

Daniele Hargenrader is known in our community as the Diabetes Dominator. She is very active, both literally and figuratively. She’s a workout machine, and her personal story is well worth a read. Like Kerri, she’s written a book, and coming soon to the Diabetes By The Numbers podcast, I hope to talk to her about it. Back in February, I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Daniele, and it was a wonderful conversation. You can catch it right here.
Thanks Daniele… I’m looking forward to our upcoming podcast interview.


Okay… now, because it shouldn’t be all about me (though that would make a cool T-shirt), here are two blog posts that are well worth reading:

See Jen Dance is a fun read, because Jen has a number of interests, and she writes about them and her diabetes on her terrific blog. She’s a really good ballroom dancer (and a Champion Athletes With Diabetes medal winner). A few days ago, while dancing socially, her BGs tanked and she was down to 54 mg/dL. She writes here about the nuances of when to stop and treat that low, and how frustrating it all is when it hits you in the middle of a dance. Check it out.

Naomi Kingery Ruperto writes at the blog The Diabetic Diva. She attended her first Diabetes UnConference in Las Vegas just two weeks ago, and her description of it here nearly brought me to tears. She writes: “…in this atmosphere, having so many people that are willing to come and hug you and say ‘I get it’ is incomparable.”. Go and read her super recap now.
Enjoy your weekend… talk to you next week!

#MasterLab: What I learned, and what I experienced. (part 2)


I was fortunate enough to attend the Diabetes Advocates MasterLab in Orlando last week. I was there thanks to a scholarship provided by Diabetes Hands Foundation. My thanks to everyone who made this event possible, and made it possible for me to attend.
Wow, there was a lot in yesterday’s post. And that only covered half the day! Today, I’ll cover the afternoon presentations at MasterLab.

A lot of what I got out of the afternoon talks is how great we do when we all work together on something important. And how much we miss out when we don’t. I also picked up a lot of important information. Let’s begin:
The afternoon started with Kelly Close and Adam Brown from DiaTribe, the PWDs source for detailed information on a variety of topics that touch our lives. Kelly and Adam gave us a lot of that detailed information, including why it’s so important to not only have a good A1c, but why it’s important that your good A1c includes a lot of time spent with your BGs in a good range. Did you know that an A1c under 7 percent sometimes means that the patient could have wildly different BG numbers over the time span that that A1c covers? Just look at these examples:


Obviously, we don’t want to have a BG trend that goes up and down a lot. So when people get excited about advocating for better devices, drugs, and therapies, we need to keep in mind the importance of making sure those devices, drugs, and therapies help keep us in range for longer, safer periods of time than they do today.

They also shared this with us… check it out (you may have to zoom the picture to see everything):

Yes, Type 1s and Type 2s have a lot in common. Including the fact that Type 1s can benefit from typically Type 2 medications like Metformin. And Type 2s can benefit from typically Type 1 medications like insulin. That’s not just opinion anymore. That’s a fact. When I saw that part of the presentation, it caused me to really think hard about my long-held feelings of never wanting to consider Metformin or Victoza. Time for a new point of view, Stephen.

Kelly and Adam shared a wealth of information in a short amount of time. Again, I encourage you to check out the presentation slides and the videos (once they’re posted at diabetesadvocates.org/masterlab) to get a look at their talk. I promise you it will be well worth your time.
I met Manny Hernandez earlier in the day, and when I did, he mentioned that he thought I would get a lot out of the talk by Rebecca Wilkes Killion, patient representative and voting member with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee.

He was right.

Rebecca, a Type 1 herself, has been sitting on panels that review new and existing drugs since 1999. She lends the very important patient voice to what is being discussed. Knowing that not all of us live close to Washington, D.C., she offered five pointers on making an impact and getting the attention of decision makers wherever we are:

1. Membership has its privileges– We didn’t ask for a diabetes diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to share your story, be vocal when the moment calls for it, and hold people accountable for their actions or inactions when it comes to your diabetes.

2. Stand in your own truth– Be authentic. She mentioned interacting with the media: If your story is real and authentic, they’ll pick up on that. I think of this as using the term “staying within yourself”. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Your story is compelling just as it is. Just tell it honestly.

3. Cut to the chase– We often think of this as developing an “elevator speech”. If you were on an elevator with someone for less than thirty seconds, how would you tell your story before you reached your destination? Brevity works.

4. Visual aids– Data, photos, anything that would help people grasp your message right away can be extremely important in making sure that your input is considered in the decision-making process.

5. Own your space– “As a diabetes advocate, you have a position that is hard fought”. You know who you are, and what you live with every day. Don’t let someone back you off your spot. No one knows more about your diabetes than you do.
After that, the fabulous Kerri Sparling talked about mobilizing the Diabetes Community. As an example, she shared with us the amazing success of the Spare A Rose, Save A Child campaign. How’s this for a visual aid?


Over 1,000 tweets? $27,000-plus raised? Children’s lives were saved. How big is that? Whether you know it or not, if you tweeted, blogged, donated, or made cookies to help get donations, you are a diabetes advocate. Kerri’s plea, and mine too: Keep being a diabetes advocate.

Finally, we were joined by David Lee Strasberg, son of the great Lee Strasberg, and creative director and CEO of The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Another Person With Diabetes. David talked to us about how to get that big grant, how to raise money for your walk team, or how to get your congressman to sign on to an important piece of legislation. When we need something, how do we go about getting it? David says there are four keys to the perfect ask:

1. Relationship: It begins with acknowledgement of the other person and the issue at hand, and includes sharing a story that helps connect you with the person you’re asking.

2. A vision: Simple enough, right? Be sure to state your vision clearly. Not in a “mission statement” kind of way. More like, “I want people with diabetes to have access to keep their CGMs when they turn 65” kind of vision. Make it clear what you intend to do with what you get from the person you’re asking.

3. Opportunity: Look for the right opportunity to ask and be ready to seize it when it appears.

4. Make a clear ask: Don’t be vague about what you want. Be sure that the person you’re asking knows without a doubt what you need them to do.

After David’s talk, we broke off into small groups and practiced The Art of the Ask. I gave my pitch, and you know what I got wrong? That last one. I thought I had it all down, and it turned out that when I was finished, people liked my idea but weren’t clear about what I really wanted them to do. Oh well… Now I know what I have to work on.

All of this that I’ve described, plus what I described yesterday, really only scratches the surface of an extraordinary day spent learning all parts of the diabetes advocacy landscape. I don’t know if this experience will make me a better advocate. But I know I’m a smarter advocate. And I know I’m going to try hard to be a better advocate in the future.

Tomorrow, a little more about the experience and some of the people I met at MasterLab.

Like these links. Lotsa stuff.

This being June, there are lots of D-happenings happening over the coming months. These events are always great ways to meet people, compare notes, and learn a lot in a short time. Here goes:
Taking Control Of Your Diabetes is hosting one of its big conferences in Washington, D.C. this Saturday. It will be an all day affair that includes fitness sessions, screenings, a Type 1 and Type 2 track, and chances to see and interact with Dr. Steve Edelman, founder of TCOYD, Kerri Sparling, former NBA star Dominique Wilkins, and many more. Twenty dollars gets you all of this and lunch if you register before Saturday; if you register at the door, it’ll cost twenty-five. All the information is available here:
My local JDRF chapter, the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac chapter, is getting ready for its annual meeting on June 26. The meeting this year will take place at the Discovery Communications headquarters at One Discovery Place in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside of D.C. The guest speaker this year is Moira McCarthy, a tireless advocate, an author, and writer of the popular blog Despite Diabetes. The event is free to all, but you have to register to attend. Find out everything you need to know here:
This isn’t scheduled until next March, but I’m hearing a lot of buzz about the Diabetes UnConference, so you might want to get on board early. Brainchild of Christel Marchand Aprigliano, it’s happening next March 13th through the 15th in Las Vegas. The UnConference is specifically for adults 21 and older living with diabetes of any flavor. What is an UnConference? I don’t think I can do the description justice, so just click over here to find out more and register before everything is booked up and sold out:
That’s it for now. Hope your Wednesday is sunny and warm. And don’t forget about the #DSMA Twitter Chat at 9:00 EDT (US) tonight!

Book Review: Balancing Diabetes.


I see a lot of people have written about Kerri Sparling’s book, Balancing Diabetes. Of course, everything I’ve read so far has been from people who were also contributors to the book. So if you will, please allow this independent voice to tell you what I thought about this 200 page offering from Spry Publishing.

I’ve met Kerri Sparling, but I don’t think it’s fair for me to say I know Kerri. My limited exposure to her tells me that what you see is what you get. She’s friendly, helpful, direct, unafraid to take on a delicate subject, and articulate in a way that makes you feel you know exactly what she means. It’s why her book does not disappoint.

In Balancing Diabetes, she covers a number of subjects, including the transition of responsibility of a child’s diabetes from parent to daughter, living the college life, relationships (both platonic and romantic), parenting, exercise, and the various devices we wear.

Now, I have to be honest: There are a lot of subjects in the book I don’t know anything about. College life? I wasn’t able to finish (money), and never lived away from home while going to class. Having children? We always wanted kids, but could never make it happen (money again). But there are plenty of subjects that speak directly to me, in a way that only another person with diabetes can tell it.

There are plenty of people (heroes?) with diabetes that do tell their stories in the book. You’ve probably read or heard of most or all of them. Getting these special people to lend their voices to the project was a stroke of genius. So however you come to the diabetes conversation, there’s someone in there that speaks your language on your subject.

And just like she does on her blog at Six Until Me, Kerri weaves her literary magic throughout each chapter. I especially liked:

– Page 17 “And that’s it–that’s totally it for me” (Chapter One: Making Sense of the New Normal)

– The first paragraph of Chapter Nine (Walking the Blood Sugar Tightrope)

– Every word of Chapter Ten (Fitting Diabetes Devices into Daily Life) and Chapter Eleven (Bringing Your Diabetes to Work)

– Page 193 “Fear is not the best motivator for me” (Chapter Sixteen: Finding Balance and Moving Forward)

Who is this book’s target audience? It’s too easy to say everyone… But yeah, everyone. I think especially if you’re one or two years past diagnosis, this will help you get a handle on the “Okay, I’ve got the day-to-day down… What about the rest of my life?” feeling. Also, this is probably a good primer, a reference book, if you will, for people to look at every now and then when they need a one-of-a-kind perspective from someone who’s been there.

I also think this is a super resource for people in the orbit of someone living with diabetes. Parents, significant others, co-workers. I suspect they would all find this book eye opening and extremely informative.

So if you’re wondering whether it’s worth it, my answer is yes. Go get this book, via Amazon (or Kindle, of course), or wherever else you can locate it. You’ll enjoy reading it, and you’ll want to keep it on the shelf for years to come.

Move along… there is no disclosure to see here. I bought the book, I read it, and all opinions are entirely my own.

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