Monday, August 11, 2014

A Visit To Indy and a Diabetes Meetup

It was great to meet up this past weekend with Jillian, a fellow Type 1 D-blogger (@Jianop on Twitter), who is from Denver and was visiting Indy for a conference.

Every August, Jillian comes to Indy for the annual Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships event. This time, it was several months after she'd started diabetes blogging over at Push My Buttons To Turn Me On (clever name!) and so Jillian reached out to a couple of us who live in Indy and might be around for a D-meetup.

As it turns out, both Cherise Shockley (@SweeterCherise on Twitter) and I were able to meetup with her on Saturday morning for breakfast at the highly-recommended Cafe Patachou in downtown Indy.. I had a blast, being able to see these two awesome ladies and chat for a couple hours... about everything from jobs, hobbies, diabetes tech and trends, along with the mysteries of Bob Evans, avocados, and the allure of darn good omelets and cinnamon toast.

We also talked about our interests in writing and sharing more non-diabetes, and thanks to Cherise's suggestion I'm planning to do that more often here. I love going to visit and experience new places, especially those that serve up good coffee, craft brew, or just have some interesting historical story. So, that's what will plan to explore more here -- maybe with a D-twist, but not necessarily. Thanks for the prompting, Cherise!

I also loved hearing how Jillian's been involved for 4-5 years in coordinating an Adult Type 1 group, similar to what we have here with the Indy Adult D-Community. She has a network of about 200 D-peeps (wow!), and that group meets up at bars, restaurants, or coffee shops at a set time at the end of each month -- something I think would help to do here in Indy. I'm interested in exploring how we can strengthen and expand this local D-community, and am currently working with the area educators, endos and pump reps (among others) to connect more of together. My big concern right now is how much infrastructure is needed or wanted, and whether I'm interested in putting more energy toward that. Regardless of how we move forward here in Indy, I was fascinated to hear how Jillian's been coordinating Adult Type 1 meetups for years now, and we shared stories about ways we can take some ideas back to our own local communities but also work more together. And who knows... maybe there's a place for the Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation (DCAF) to fit into all of this... such fun and exciting possibilities!

This was an awesome three-person meetup that came together thanks to Jillian's visit to Indy, and I am hoping to have the chance to see her at some point again before long... maybe at next year's Friends For Life conference or her next trip to Indy in a year.

Glad you reached out to connect and meetup, Jillian, and can't wait to keep more in touch through the DOC before the next in-person meetup chance comes our way!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Even with God On My Side, It's My Diabetes and I Own It

A friend and I were recently chatting about our mutual belief systems and how our faith guides us in our daily lives.

Diabetes was a part of the discussion, since we're both longtime Type 1s.

At one point, I made a mention of "my own diabetes" in how we describe our own Lazy Pancreas Syndrome and the particular styles we each may have in managing diabetes on a daily basis.

And that's where our religious beliefs came full-force into this diabetes discussion.

Here's what my friend told me:

"Personally, I believe that disease or any affliction is from the enemy (Satan) to kill, still or destroy (John 10:10). I believe once we 'claim' the affliction then we’ve made it easy for the enemy. "

This is what she was quoting:

Huh... interesting. Wasn't quite what I was expecting when that all came up.

Anyhow, I let my mind chew on that for awhile.

Now, I'm a Christian. Grew up on the. Protestant Lutheran persuasion in. The background, but never really had much exposure to the church except those holidays and special ceremonial moments. Almost a decade ago is when I came into the Methodist line thanks to my wife's family and the church where we married, and since then we've explored a few different church homes but found one we're most comfortable with that has the "United Methodist" in its name.

It's at that point in my life that I opened up a Bible to actually read, for the first time in my life. Since then, I turn to it quite often in reflecting on many different aspects of life -- including diabetes and how I live with it. I'm by no means a person who can quote Scripture and it may not be a dominant part of my conversation, but I like to think it guides me in good times and bad. Like many, we don't make it to church as often as we should and I certainly fall out of my Bible-reading and prayer routines way too often.

With all of that said, this D-chat got me flipping through my Bible verses once again and really reflecting on what I believe, as far as health goes. It also came up in conversation with a few other religiously-minded people in my life, and we all shared our varying views on the topic.

Good conversation all around, and it gave me some new perspectives to consider.

I am not going to say my friend's beliefs are wrong, because they aren't. Each person is entitled to believe what they want and feel how they do. I find the interpretation of John 10:10 and how it influences healthy living to be a very interesting one.

But I'm not sure I see it the same way as my friend.

For me, when I say "my diabetes," that to me is the equivalent of "claiming" diabetes as my own. That's exactly what I want to be doing.

Type 1 for me is not the same as it is for anyone else. As the saying goes: Your Diabetes May Vary.

More than that, I want to embrace my diabetes. Because that means I am accepting and doing all that I can to manage it and stay healthy, using whatever practical or Biblical beliefs I may need to use.

The way I look at it, I could almost see type 1 being a test bestowed by God.

"They" say that God only gives you what you're strongest enough to deal with, and so type 1 could easily be viewed on that same note. If we want to go all religious on the topic, look at it this way: God gave me type 1 diabetes, which brings a whole bunch of uncertainty and challenge. At times, it makes me question my purpose and how I live. But it makes me a better person, allowing me to not only help myself and be more healthy but also to reach out and help others who might need it. With all of that, it's a matter of free will, and I can embrace His word and listen to his teachings to be the best diabetic I can, or I can choose to not listen and go down the road of less-than-healthy and thinking only about myself.

On a practical note, I choose to claim my diabetes because it doesn't own me (most of the time); I own it. I'm the one who has the power and makes the decisions to manage as I should.

Just like I'm not blindly following my doctor without having a dialogue and offering my own thoughts, and using that doc's advice as I need to in my diabetes management, it's the same way I see God in my life. I listen (or don't listen), and choose to either follow my teachings and use the tools and knowledge I'm given in the best way I know how.

By owning my D, I don't see it as "giving the devil a foothold." Instead, I think you can pray for good health and ask God to grant you health. But at the end of the day, His purposes are higher than ours and what we want may not necessarily be how it's supposed to be. Our timing isn't the timing.

At times, I have faltered and that continues to be the case. Kinda like every day, to some extent. I'm sure it will be for as long as I'm on this Earth, though I certainly hope to do my best as I see it. Giving myself the ability to use the tools and knowledge I'm given is what keeps me going, and I choose to be an active participant in my life and not regard diabetes as a passive force that owns me.

To each their own, of course. And that's my food for thought today.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That One Time, On the Golf Course

Several years ago, a friend and I were playing golf one day. It was just the two of us and it wasn't particularly busy that morning, so we thought maybe we'd be sneak on without being paired up with another two-some.

Not the case.

We ended up with another two guys who weren't anything to write home about as far as golfing skill, and they seemed a little self-absorbed and unwilling to engage in just casual chat. So, we went about our golf game and maintained pleasant attitudes toward our fellow golfers.

Per my usual golfing routine I was wearing khacki pants with a tucked in polo shirt. And so, my insulin pump was clipped on to my belt as it usually is. This was a number of years ago, and at the time I wasn't wearing a CGM so my pump was the only diabetes device I had on me.

That's when it happened out of nowhere, on one of the later holes.

As I stood behind the tee watching my friend make his drive, one of the random-golfers was off studying his clubs on the golf cart while the other stood next to me quietly.

Once my friend finished at the tee, the guy next to me opened his mouth and asked a question that's since been burned into my mind.

Yes, that's what he asked. Just glanced up and probably saw it clipped to my waist, and asked... his tone, from what I remember, was casual, innocent, just genuinely curious.

And how did I respond?

"Yes, it is."

And that was it. Flat response, short and to the point without more than a quick glance in his direction before I turned my eyes back to the tee and walked up to take my drive. Maybe an a look that said, "leave it alone, dude, that's not what I want to be talking about today, or with you."

No clue why he was asking -- was he living with diabetes? Or had a family member, friend, or co-worker with diabetes? Did he have an insulin pump, or was he curious about getting one? Or maybe he just wanted to know more...

Whatever, the reason, I glossed over it. I had no interest in talking diabetes, and was simply out there on the course that day to play golf -- not to talk about diabetes. And so, I basically acted like an asshat to this guy asking about my pump.

I regret that now.

That moment was a big #FAIL on my part, as I see it now.

Actually, this isn't the first time I've thought about that and regretted my attitude. A few years ago, this came up during D-Blog Week when I mentioned it in this post.

But recently, Kerri wrote a post over at Sixuntilme that brought this back to mind. She wrote about "Unexpected Advocacy," how she was in that same kind of mindset when taking her daughter to the swimming pool and getting a question from someone there. Though unexpected, she ended up advocating.

That's the same point playing out now with Miss Idaho, a fellow type 1 named Sierra Sandison who decided to wear her t:slim insulin pump during the competition and (ultimately) her Miss Idaho crowning. Now, she's on the road to being the next Miss America. And through all of that, the social media campaign #ShowMeYourPump is getting mass attention and inspiring so many. Raising awareness about insulin pumps and diabetes in general, aside from giving little girls and probably many others more confidence in how they wear their own diabetes devices.

And then there's another example... a local Indy D-peep who just joined our local D-Community thanks to a friend who was at the bar and happened to be wearing his OmniPod on the arm that night. That Pod sighting made the woman's husband push her to go talk to my friend about how he liked that patch-pump, and from there he told her about the local meetups and group and encouraged her to join up. She has, and is getting a pretty great welcome from those in our local community.

It's all pretty awesome and makes me smile. But still, it makes me think back and regret even more my past Golf Course attitude once again. I really wish I could go back in time to talk more with this Golf Mate -- to at least find out the context of the question and who was asking.

We're not always in the mood to talk D, obviously. And we shouldn't have to be. Yes, sometimes we do want to #ShowMeYourPump. But sometimes we don't and that's OK. There's probably no right or wrong answer or approach, it's totally up to the individual person.

For me, I will take this train of thought with me onto all the future golf courses I play, along with coffee shops and restaurants where you never know who might be looking for a little advocacy or connection to make a difference -- even if they or you don't realize it at the time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Diabetes Blogging Chicken and Community

Today is #dblogcheck day... you know, the one where you leave a comment on all the diabetes blog posts you're reading. Thanks to Christopher Snider for getting the ball moving on this check-in effort, btw.

**(Oh, and hat-tip to Kerri for clearing up on Twitter recently that this wasn't #dblogcheckin, since that sounds too much like #dblogchicken... with a chicken in the crockpot last evening, I had to jump on that.

Yes, the D-blogging chicken did get to pose for a #bgnow Tweet. But sadly, the chicken is no longer online post-dinner. I must say, he did go well with some white wine and rice at dinner last night. So, props to you, DOC Chicken.)**

OK, silliness aside.

Honestly, I wasn't going to post anything today. There's a lot of diabetes news happening and I'm caught up in that, so really I was just going to read a small handful of D-blogs, comment on those, and go about the day's business.

And coffee... because, well... of course. How can there not be coffee?!

Anyhow, reading a post by Stephen a bit earlier changed my mind. He wrote about the power of comments and why he and others write blog posts at all. And then he delved into a bit on why he likes to comment.

I can't say it as well as he has, so I'll let you read his post to see for yourself... but the point: I'm on the same page as Stephen on why I comment. It's therapeutic, and it often helps me figure out what my thoughts are on any given topic. The same goes for writing. It's a way to process what's rambling around in my head, and that allows me to put it down on paper (or virtually) and figure out what I actually think.

Looking back through the years, I've loved all the comments and have truly been enriched by all of them. By everyone in this community. The people in this D-Community are awesome... just look at the latest happenings, with all the #ShowMeYourPump activity going on. It's great.

Oh, and here's me the other day showing off my pump, btw:

Looking back, I got curious about those initial D-blogging days and those first comments. I took a look at my first "diabetes" blog post in March 2007, when this wasn't the D-Corner Booth but only the Corner Booth. That post was about complications, for the most part. And there were only a small number of comments, but these were even more special (even now looking back) because they were my first. Of course, my mom commented. Because she's my mom. And she's a fellow Type 1 who's been at this much longer than I have, so there's that added bonus.

Then there was George! Yes, it turns out the Ninjabetic was my first comment aside from my mom, and what's even more awesome is that a couple years after that debut comment, George left another one that actually let me know about the DOC on Twitter. And that got me onto that social media channel, for the first time....

As they say, the rest is pretty much history!

There are so many diabetes blogs out there and so many great comments you can read through on all of them -- that's the best part of how this Diabetes Online Community (DOC) has grown. It comes down to the simple mantra: You Are Not Alone. I Am Not Alone.

Together, we're telling our diabetes stories. We're connecting with others, on whatever the D-topic may be. Meetups in real life are happening, and it's just about finding people who "get it" and make you feel better when it comes to diabetes. Whether it be something serious... or as light-hearted and humorous as taking pics of your Dexcom next to a crockpot chicken, all in the name of D-Community fun.

Thanks to everyone for reading, writing, commenting -- now, in the past and down the road.

You all rock.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dinner, Drinks and Discussion (& Upwards 125 Years of Diabetes)

I've been struggling with diabetes burnout lately, feeling as though I have to talk and think diabetes all day long. Thanks to that, it's been tough to keep my interest in wanting to do what I should when it comes to my own diabetes, or even interacting more personally within the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) because again -- it's all about diabetes taking away from the rest of my time.

But a local D-Meetup recently gave me a refreshing boost, as I was able to sit and chat with friends about so many things -- and although we came together due to diabetes, our meetup wasn't necessarily about diabetes and it didn't have to come up. The D aspects weren't forced, they were natural and helped me once again actually feel that I'm not alone.

We met for a Thursday night event at Granite City Brewing in downtown Indianapolis. Six of us came out, from longtime Type 1s who are at our 40, 30 and 20 year marks, to those within just the past several years. I unfortunately forgot to ask just how many years we all had under our D-belts, but I'm guessing it somewhere upwards of 125 years between the six of us.

From left to front: Michael, Tricia, Aaron, Me, Daniel, Alex.

Per the usual, we shared some good food and great beer, while chatting about so many different things that weren't necessarily D-related: jobs, how the states got their names, beer and vacation spots, diabetes tech and local bicycling and how our diabetes does or doesn't fit in. Even DSMA Live came up, as did a conversation about putting infusion sets on our legs or "side butt" (as Jacquie defined it for us).

I had a blast, just being a part of that conversation with these good friends for a few hours.

Toward the end, we talked more seriously about what we want this Adult D-Community to be -- especially now that it's a number of years old.

You see, the Indy Adult D-Community has now been meeting up since August 2010. Two fellow adult type 1s here in the area, Pat Kinder and Aaron Walton, were the first to get this idea off the ground after the JDRF Indiana chapter started embracing "adult inclusion." Remember that JDRF rebrand? Yep, this was part of that, and it was the national org's way of responding to many of our gripes through the years that they didn't seem to offer much for those of us grown-ups. They gave a directive and many chapters began responding, before the official rebranding campaign kicked off.

In the beginning, this local meetup group was a JDRF thing. But after a while when life got busier for all of us and the local JDRF chapter seemed to lose interest, I agreed to take the reins to make sure we could still have this group come together. It's the most informal of meetups -- just at a restaurant or bar after work, a Panera or Starbucks on a weekend morning for brunch, Saturday night bowling, or a World Diabetes Day dinner and advocacy every once in a while. We have had up to a couple dozen people, to just a few of us.

Of course, there's no obligation to be at one of these meetups, unless you want to be. Work, family and life priorities change often and vary for everyone (just like diabetes does), and so my aim is to just let fellow D-peeps know that this community is around, if and when it's needed.

There's no organizational ties, no fundraising pitches -- unless someone chooses to talk about that, and in the past we've laughed and complained and also talked up various orgs and initiatives. Because it's about us, not the orgs.

Since every diabetes org seems to do it's own thing and not play together much, I've taken the liberty of culling all of their calendars to create an Indy D-Calendar that includes activities and events that may be of interest to our local D-Community. From meetups, fundraisers, galas and other things -- along with some notes about DSMA and any upcoming DOC initiatives like Spare A Rose, Diabetes Art Day, and World Diabetes Day. That gets posted and emailed to the groups, along with the local pump reps and some educators and docs who are hip to connecting us.

That's been well-received, from what I have heard.

We have an email list (that only I and one other person maintain) of about 72 people with diabetes (98% type 1s), and a private Facebook group with 55 PWDs. And while I've certainly not had the honor of meeting everyone in person, I've managed to hear from a good number through the years to just know that they appreciate knowing this group exists.

So, that is why I turned to this community recently. Is this a "support group"? Hell, no. I hate that term and despite the idea of it. Because it's not about griping about diabetes, but rather meeting up to hang with friends and -- if diabetes comes up (which it probably will) -- then that's OK. When it does, it's a natural part of our lives and not something we're "forced" to talk about because it's a "support group" setting.

 It's all a work in progress, like everything. But one thing I've enjoyed the most is just getting together to talk as friends, whether D comes up or it doesn't. That's what I hope we can all continue.

So, what's next?

 Is there a need to make these meetups a more regular, scheduled occurrence at a set time? Do we want them to be "events" or just casual get-togethers? Is there a day or time that works better, or should we keep mixing it up to get the after-work crowd and then also the weekend brunch or bowling event audience?

I've strongly believed since the start, as I do now, that there shouldn't be any organizational or company ties -- because that defeats the purpose. We agreed that our next meetup will be in mid-August (likely the 23rd) on the southside, for a Saturday brunch time.
I'm also hoping we can work more closely with the Indy area doctors and educators, letting them know that we have this group and it's a great way to connect diabetics. It's about all of us, working together to connect each other.

Personally, I'm grateful to have a community like this locally. Because fundamentally, it helps me see that I'm not alone and no matter what we do in our daily lives, D doesn't have to be a formal or forced aspect of how we live. Sometimes I forget that, thinking D all day long professionally and then going through the routine every other minute of the day and night. No, these meetups help remind me that diabetes doesn't have to dominate, it just is a part of the natural flow of things in our lives.