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Giving Thanks

Thursday marks another Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. A day to give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.

If diabetes is a part of your life, you might not think you have much to be thankful for. If that’s how you feel, that’s your decision… who am I to tell you you’re wrong?

In my case, however, I choose to stop and recognize that there is much for me to be thankful for this year, including these 8 things:

1. First and foremost, I’m thankful for a job that helps pay my bills and manages a health plan that ensures I have access to the devices and drugs that help me stay alive.

2. I’d like to give thanks to those who have provided opportunities for me to expand my knowledge or expand my advocacy efforts, and even get me involved in things I haven’t done before.

I’m including The Society for Participatory Medicine, who provided a stipend for me to attend HIMSS18 this year. Thanks to Janssen, who gave me an opportunity to meet other patient advocates at HealtheVoices. Also, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, who makes it so easy to be an advocate, and allowed me to be a part of the DPAC Policy Training Meeting in September, which included my first-ever chance to advocate before lawmakers. Count also Maryland’s Secretary of Health, who, through an appointment, allowed me to serve on the state’s Advisory Council on Health and Wellness.

Thanks to Dr. Nicole Bereolos, who gave me a chance to sit on a discussion panel she led at AADE in August. That weekend included the rollout of the #LanguageMatters video from Mytonomy, which featured a number of diabetes voices, including one you may recognize. It’s been a very busy year, but a rewarding one for sure.

3. Where would I be without the Diabetes Community? Wonderful friends who are smart, funny, curious, and welcoming all at the same time. I saw diabetes friends get on a plane this year and fly across time zones to attend the funeral for a member of the tribe. Many of us got together this fall for no other reason than the fact that we missed each other and wanted to be together for a while. Thanks to everyone who was a part of these or many other wonderful moments among compatriots.

4. Along with that, I want to give thanks to our magnificent #DSMA participants throughout the year. Every Wednesday, and especially when I’ve been a moderator, they’ve made me happy and proud to facilitate the hour long Twitter discussion. For the record, I’ll be back to moderate on November 28 at 9:00 eastern time (US).

5. Thank you to other diabetes groups that help bring people together, in various ways. Diabetes Sisters, Children With Diabetes, Beyond Type 1, even JDRF… they’re all using innovative means to keep the conversation going about the things that are most important to all of us.

6. I’m giving thanks once again this year for insulin, the wonder hormone that keeps me alive every day. Thank you Banting and Best, for saving my life and the lives of millions of others.

7. I can’t let Thanksgiving come and go without giving thanks to The Great Spousal Unit and Max the Cat, who have been alternately supportive and patient throughout the year. I hope I remember to recognize my good fortune in this regard this year and every year.

8. Finally, I’m thankful to you. For reading, for following on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, for sending requests for Champion Athlete With Diabetes medals, and so much more. You make me want to keep writing here, and I can’t thank you enough.
So with that, please allow me to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for today?

Five things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

It is heavy heart time here in my part of the world, as people all over my country celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, while wondering what the coming changes in Washington will bring. Before we know it, the holiday shopping season will kick in (if it hasn’t already), and December will be another blur.
There is a lot to be anxious about this Thanksgiving. There’s no denying that. But there is still much to be thankful for. So, from me to you, here is my list:
1. I’m thankful for family this year. Not so much the family that voted the way I didn’t, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. If the subject comes up, my plan is to remind them that they were wrong to vote the way they did (I’m not letting that go), and leave it at that. I can argue about it another day. And here’s something to remember if you’re in the same boat this weekend: presidential elections happen once every four years. Family is forever. If you’re lucky enough to have some family near you, count your blessings in addition to giving thanks.

2. I’m more than thankful for my diabetes friends around the world. I have experienced far more kindness from all of you than one man deserves. I will think about you often whenever I think about the things I am most thankful for this year. And every year.

3. I’m thankful for health insurance. And prescription insurance. I’ve been to the doctor more than usual this year. Just about two weeks ago, I went to the eye doctor for a thorough checkup. It seems like whenever I see a healthcare professional these days, I can’t help but think of the people who do not have the level of access to care that I do, and I can’t help but remember that I’m quite fortunate indeed to have the coverage I have, and the ability to pay for it (for now, anyway).

4. While we’re sort of on the subject, how can I not be thankful for the insulin that keeps me alive every day? It is literally a crying shame that all over the world, people still die after a diabetes diagnosis for lack of available insulin. I am so thankful to have a ready supply.

5. I couldn’t be more thankful for the incredible global force of diabetes advocates that exist everywhere. While they may not all know me personally, they care about me and work to secure and ensure access to drugs and devices, education and assistance, and a fair shake among insurance companies and government agencies. Without our vast network of diabetes advocates, our going would be a lot tougher and our path to innovation would be a lot steeper. They deserve our gratitude every single day.
Wherever you are, whatever your day looks like, whether you live in the USA or elsewhere, I hope you’ll take a moment and reflect on the things that you are truly thankful for. I’ll bet there are more than a few. There will be plenty of time Friday to rant over things that aren’t perfect. This year, I’m going to spend my Thanksgiving expressing my gratitude and enjoying the people closest to me.

I wish you all the best this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 8 (plus one)

Another Thanksgiving is upon us here in the USA, and it’s natural to sit down and consider what we should be thankful for. Especially if we write a blog. It’s been a crazy, busy, up and down kind of year, but when it comes right down to it, I still have much to be thankful for.  In no particular order, here are Eight (plus one) reasons I’m thankful this year.
– First and foremost, I’m thankful to family that puts up with me as I am, and continues to support me in ways big and small. I’m grateful to my wife, a person who drives downtown late on a Friday night to pick me up instead of waiting at home for me to return on the subway. That’s just one of the many things she does for me, all the time.

– As usual, I’m thankful for insurance that allows me to pay for test strips, infusion sets, insulin, and doctor visits. Even if though I’m still paying too much.

– I’m thankful for this space to share my thoughts and what I’ve learned and experienced while living with diabetes. And I’m incredibly grateful to anyone who still comes here to read it. You know who you are.

– I’m incredibly thankful to organizations like Diabetes Hands Foundation, Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, JDRF, and the American Diabetes Association for persuasively advocating more, and in bigger numbers, than I could ever muster on my own.

– I’m thankful to all you crazy bike riders who cover as much as 100 miles in a single day, while raising millions of dollars for research toward a cure. You know who you are.

– I’m thankful for gatherings that allow me to meet new friends and extend existing friendships due to nothing more and nothing less than having a permanently vacationing pancreas. Diabetes UnConference, I love you.

– I’m thankful for People With Diabetes, famous and not-so-famous, who inspire me and have shown me that there is life, wonderful life, after diagnosis.

– I’m also thankful that I got to spend a few days in Brussels at the end of a business trip in February, experiencing all of the grand architecture, good food, and lovely people of a city that now has a very different look to the rest of the world. Trust me, what you’re seeing on the news is not the Brussels I discovered.

– Finally… though it sounds redundant, I’m thankful that there’s an actual Thanksgiving in the USA. If there wasn’t, there would probably be years when I would completely forget to stop and enjoy and actually, you know, be thankful for the many, many great things in my life.

Whatever your life looks like right now, I hope that this Thanksgiving brings you health, hope, and happiness. And I hope that next Thanksgiving is the first Thanksgiving without diabetes. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

What are you thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving 2013.


It’s a tradition in our family that every year at this time (the Thanksgiving holiday here in the States), we pause and mention something meaningful in our lives that we are thankful for. We go around the table, and everyone, young or old, optimistic or pessimistic, offers a Thank You for something significant.

Today I offer a giant Thank You to the Diabetes Online Community.

If you knew me, really knew me, you’d know I’m a very jaded individual. I never expect things to be as good as advertised, because they never are. My experience tells me that.

I know the DOC is growing larger by the day, and that’s good. The more voices we can add to the discussion about living with this chronic condition, the better. I do not expect those voices to always sound the same, or be focused on the same thing. I realize that even in the pursuit of positive things we can all agree on, sometimes personalities will clash and feelings will get hurt. Since the community is growing larger, it seems more likely that we’ll encounter an opposite viewpoint from time to time, or even an outright troll now and then. After all, one percent of 100 is 1. One percent of 10,000 is 100.

But I also know what my life was like before I discovered this thing, whatever it is. I know how I felt. I know how alone I felt. Like the saying goes, loneliness is everything it’s cracked up to be. What’s weird from my viewpoint is: I’m usually okay with doing things on my own; but doing them with understanding and support and encouragement from others in the same boat? It’s a lot easier, and it’s worth more to me than I’m capable of describing right now.

I could list hundreds of individuals and organizations that have made such a difference for me over the last two plus years. I would, if I had another couple of weeks to list them all. The list is that long. On the other hand, I think I could list maybe… maybe… two who I am less than enthusiastic about. But even those two are important to me, because in the end, they want what I want too. And in nearly every critical comment, I see at least one small thing I need to examine with a fresh eye, consider with a different viewpoint.

So on this Thanksgiving 2013, to the Diabetes Online Community, let me say:

Thank You—Gracias—Merci—Arigato—Danke—Toda—Mahalo

The world, in fact, is big enough for all of us. Thank you, DOC, for making it big enough for me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2012. Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA, a national holiday set aside to give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.

I know it’s the easy way out to do a post like this today. But I also know that sometimes the only thing that keeps me from cracking up during this time of year is to give in to a little sentimentality now and then. So in no particular order (except for the first thing), here are a few things I’m thankful for today:

– Any message of thanks has to begin with The Great Spousal Unit. Maureen has been my rock and my champion. She’s put up with a lot of crap from me, especially this year, the busiest year I’ve had in recent memory. And through it all, she still meets the original criteria: When I wake up in the morning and think, “Who’s the most fun person I can hang with today?”, the answer is always her.

– While we’re at it, I’m happy to have The Live-In Niece around today. Rachel is absolutely different from The Live-In Nephew who came before her, but I mean that in a complimentary way. She’s adapted to Baltimore and learned about my diabetes with boundless enthusiasm and a big smile. As for Brian… here’s a kid who came to us with all of his possessions in a duffel bag. Eight years later, he has a great job, a home, a wife, and a daughter born on my 50th birthday this year. To say I’m proud is to damn with faint praise.

– I’m thankful for a roof over my head and a dry basement, especially after hurricane Sandy. Even though you’re not reading this New Jersey, my thoughts and prayers are with you today.

– I’m thankful to my endocrinologist. When I look back on all of the doctors I’ve trusted to help me with my care, less than half have been good. So when you get a good doctor, who speaks your language, who encourages you, who helps you with useful suggestions that actually help you manage your BGs better, they’re worth their weight in gold. And after going through so many absolutely horrible doctors prior to her, I’m even more aware of how great that is.

– Can I say that I’m thankful that the election is over? I’m glad the bickering is over for a couple of years. Now, get down to business. We’ve still got a long way to go to climb the rest of the way out of this crummy economic hole we’re in. You can start by ensuring that we don’t have another economic meltdown by clamping down big-time on the shadow banking industry. If you don’t, I’ll be putting my money under the mattress waiting for the next meltdown.

– Thanks to all of the writers you see in the left column of this page. In case you’re wondering, I read all of you. And day after day, I’m reminded that I’m still in the learning process with this thing because I see smarter, more inspirational, more thought-provoking prose than I’ve come up with. Thanks for showing me how to do it. It’s not an overstatement to say you’ve changed my life for the better.

– A special note of thanks to the Center for Diabetes Technology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where they’re working on Artificial Pancreas technology. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, relentlessly asking a ton of questions. And they not only answered them, they invited me to an open house at the center this summer, allowing me to get up close and personal with the AP, doing my first real in-depth story on something that I find positively fascinating. And right now, necessary. Right now, FDA.

– And I am so thankful for this blog. For the chance to tell my story, in my words, without an editor for the first time in 30 years. Thanks to all of you who have left comments over the last seven months. I still get a twinge of excitement every time I see a new one. But even if no one bothered to read or comment, I’m grateful for the outlet that’s helped me unload some of the things I’ve been feeling over the past few years.

I hope your day, Thanksgiving or not, helps you to remember to be thankful for the things you hold most dear. I’m not a bible thumper, but my favorite passage is still in the book of Luke, chapter 17. Where Jesus comes into a town, ten lepers ask to be healed, he heals them, and one comes back to thank and praise him. And Jesus says something like “Were not ten healed? Where are the other nine?”. I am very lucky to have my life. And very thankful.

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