Sunday, January 25, 2015

Two Insulin Pumpers Walk Into a Bar...

This is the tale of finding a fellow insulin pumper in the wild.

It was a Wednesday night, and I was supposed to be at a diabetes camp board meeting being held on the opposite end of town about 45 minutes from where I live. Thanks to some pressing work tasks that day I left later than planned, and heavy traffic at the start of rush-hour delayed my being able to get up to that part of Indy.

Actually, by the time I made the longer-than-expected drive, it wasn't even worth going to the meeting. And since I hadn't eaten all day and my mind was fried, I decided to stop off for some dinner before driving home after rush hour.

I made my way into a Buffalo Wild Wings, and since it wasn't yet the 5 o'clock hour, the bar was pretty empty. I made my way up to one of the seats with a good view of both big screen TVs, and was all ready to just sit and relax.

The nice bartender girl welcomed me and within a couple minutes I'd snagged a cheap pint of
name-your-big-name-light-beer, ordered some boneless chicken wings and mini corn dogs, and began soaking in ESPN news highlights.

(Had to get the latest on the New England Patriots craziness, which I'd been out of the loop on all day).

Diabetes was the last thing on my mind, aside from my need to dose for the food that was coming my way.

And as I pondered deflated footballs and how two baseball greats being all chummy, I noticed from a glance around that my bartender along with a couple others were off to the side chatting away. Loud enough to hear bits of what they were saying, but it wasn't the focus of my relaxation time and I don't even know what the conversation was really all about.

Yet, about a quarter of the way through my pint, I overheard my bartender-server say:

"(Inaudible)... because I'm diabetic, I have to... (inaudible blah)."

Of course, my ears perked up. Diabetes had found me, even though I wasn't searching for it.

They weren't really saying any more, and within a minute or so she brought my food out. And asked if I needed anything else.

Me: "Nope, all good... but did I hear you say you're diabetic?"

Her: "Yeah, I am."

Me: "Hey, me too! Type 1 or 2?

Her: "Type 1"

Me: "Same here. Since I was 5."

Her: "Really?! How about that?!"

We proceeded to chat for about five minutes, with us exchanging diagnosis stories, her telling me she was diagnosed as a teenager, and how she was a fellow Minimed insulin pumper. Yes, we both flashed our Minimed pumps from both sides of the bar and chatted about some of the other brands out there. And one of her fellow bartenders came over as we had our pumps out and said, "That looks like a pager!"

Enter a quick look exchange and, "Yep, it kinda does."

Anyhow, that was about it. She was actually wrapping up her shift and heading out, so it wasn't a very long conversation. But it felt like I'd found a friend.

Of course, I shared this with the DOC on Twitter, like you do.

No, we didn't exchange names or do any of that. I thought about it, but that wasn't the focus for either of us at the moment and it seemed like we both had other things we wanted to put our minds to. Like going home, and huuuuuge deflated football scandal (I live in Indy, remember).

I'm glad we connected, even briefly, because it's always questionable whether fellow D-peeps in the Wild are open to sharing their personal 411 with total strangers. There's not always time or interest, so I'm glad this brief-but-friendly encounter went as it did.

If I'm ever interested in re-connecting and inviting her to an Adult D-Meetup or something, I know where to go.

So yes, two Insulin Pumpers Walked Into a Bar...

... And the whole Indy D-Community and DOC felt like it was there with us in spirit.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What I Loved and Feared About Nightscout From the Start

I have to be honest, Nightscout is awesome.

It's great having my CGM in the Cloud and being able to share that blood sugar data with others, and giving myself more access to viewing my data when and where I want in a form that helps me.

First impressions were strongly positive, and I stand by all of that.

Additional observations, from my first six weeks of using my "early Christmas gift" strapped to my waist and wrist:
  • The alerts annoy me at 80 and 180. I'd prefer 70 and 200. -- (UPDATE: I have learned, thanks to Sara, that a Pebble update allows me to customize alert ranges -- so that's awesome!!!)
  • Most of the time, I keep my Pebble on "Quiet Mike" mode which uses a CGM Sleep Mode watchface created by a fellow Nightscouter. But when not quiet, I've seen the tighter range makes me work harder to stay in that range and have tighter control just to avoid the annoying vibrations. Interesting...
  • Recent trip to California was a big test drive for this, but problems with battery life and a charging cable mishap made it so it didn't charge one night and the phone battery died. And that caused my wife at home not be tuned in to a 40mg/dL that hovered in the early morning for a couple hours. Luckily, I woke up and treated.
  • It has given her more piece of mind when we're both at work and apart, and if I'm caught up and not answering the phone or email, she knows it's not BG-related.
  • Nightscout is totally a conversation starter, especially when you're wearing the Pebble watch and you tend to be checking it regularly...
  • I wore this to a recent endo appointment and explained Nightscout to him, and Dr. Health Bug
    was truly interested and took the informational pamphlets with interest. And he said during the month I was using Nightscout, I did seem to have less glucose variability. He may encourage others to look into this, too.
  • My endo also had some sage advice that I've heard before: "It's very cool, but don't lose sight of the fact it's just a tool. In reality, it comes down to you managing the way you want to." 
 Yes, most of experience has been positive so far. But there's a caveat, one that always seems to come into play when you're talking about tech. And in the case of Nightscout, I've found it certainly applies to me:

Nightscout is awesome... when it works.

Remember, before you take all of this as gospel applying to anyone other than me, factor in this simple truth: I'm one of those guys who doesn't like connection cables, and grumbles when needing to do anything from reprogramming the microwave clock, re-connecting the wireless printer, or hooking up a new TV or DVR. I just don't like those things, and so that paints my perception of CGM in the Cloud.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Once Upon a Blood Sugar...

There was a time when keeping on top of my diabetes management was more fairytale than real life.

Checking my blood sugars wasn't a common occurrence. Carb counting wasn't around thanks to my 2 or more shots a day, in the morning and evening, so it came down to a more stringent style of meal planning. And as my docs often said, I wasn't "compliant."

At some point in my 20s, I grew up.

Well, to be accurate: I started growing up. That came in waves. And it's still a work in progress to some degree.

But that's when I started accepting and embracing the fact that my diabetes wasn't going anywhere, that I wasn't destined for doom, and I could do something about it in the here and now. That sense of hopelessness still existed, but it became like a toy that I could put into a box and pack away in the closet. Every so often that toy would reappear, but not as often as it once did.

What changed?

For the most part, it was because I found inspiration to look beyond myself and saw there was a need to be hopeful.

But aside from that, diabetes wasn't something I let seep into every aspect of my life the way it seems to these days. Yes, I dealt with low blood sugars. And high blood sugars. And fears of complications and actual symptoms themselves. And all the stresses and issues you might think of. The difference was these weren't talked about in the same way as they are now.

These days, we have an entire community online talking about diabetes all the time. And we can connect to others in an instant, with the click of a keyboard or touchscreen. We have easier access to people we might want to meetup with in real life, to talk diabetes.

Yes, I don't feel so "alone" like I once did. But the flip side is that I always feel diabetes is along for the ride, because it's always on my mind for one reason or another -- even it's just a matter of looking at some blogs, tweets or FB posts mentioning D.

Now that I've taken my career in a direction where I am covering the diabetes world, along with living it and also spending my time advocating, volunteering and connecting with people about diabetes the rest of the time, it's pretty much diabetes 24-7 for me.

And that's very exhausting.

On one hand, we preach "We are more than diabetes." But on the other hand, it's all D all the time. Even when we're not sharing or wearing it on our sleeves for the world to see, we are always thinking about it -- whether it's a Low thanks to Dexcom alerting us, or constant blood sugar checks at all hours of the day and night.

Sometimes, I long for the days when I didn't know where my blood sugars were because I just dealt with it. I felt where I was, took care of it as needed and moved on with it without any need to share or connect or dwell on my diabetes.

I wouldn't sacrifice the Diabetes Online Community or people I've met through it for anything. Yet, sometimes we just need to disconnect and realize our own worlds are where we're needed most. And in those moments, diabetes is just along for the ride and not getting more attention than it deserves.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Best of the Betes Blogs: October 2014

I'm honored to be hosting the Best of the Betes Blogs for this month, featuring some of the great writings of the DOC during October. But while this is me hosting this monthly treasure this round, it's not about me... but the We.

It's about all of us in this D-Community sharing, connecting, and just spreading the good word -- as in the real side - of life with D.

As always, it's great to find friends in the D-Community, both new and old ones, who have shared some insight about life with diabetes -- whatever the category may be.

So, without further ado, I'll highlight some of those that caught our collective eye this past month.

(Drum roll, please...)

Best Use of Humor
Renza in Australia, who blogs at Diabetogenic. Yes, you'll want to get this smile from her post called "The Greatest Advancement in Diabetes." 

Best Vlog
Kim at Texting My Pancreas shares some real emotion in this video blog, A Minute.
Best Recipe
      We didn't have any nominations for this particular category, but given that November is now National Diabetes Awareness Month, I thought it'd be great to just mention the American Diabetes Association's theme this year: Cooking to Stop Diabetes. And yes, the ADA blog, Stop Diabetes, had a post on this in late October. Of course, I also always turn to A Sweet Life when I'm looking for D-recipes penned and suggested by my D-peeps.

Best Use of Photography
Melissa Lee is More Than a Number, and her photography in this post at Sweetly Voiced rocks illustrates that message perfectly!

Best Advocacy
Jenn over at Young, Fun and Type 1 did some outstanding advocacy by talking to her local news station about a recent diabetes research advance.

Best Reference to a D-Celebrity
This is a special one not only referencing a D-celeb, but written by a D-celeb -- IndyCar driver and fellow Type 1 Charlie Kimball. Charlie wrote a post marking his diaversary in October, which just happened to come on the heels of Charlie getting married to his high school sweetheart! Congrats to you both, Charlie and Kathleen!

Best Story of a D-Meetup
Ground Control to Major Tom... yes, thanks to this awesome D-Meetup post by Heather Gabel, that David Bowe tune "Space Oddity" is now stuck in my head. But it's totally worth it, to read about the experience of meeting another PWD while also being able to "share the love" through a little on-the-spot advocacy.
Best non-D Related Post
      Jenn believes You Are Worth More, and her post over at Sweet Zoo is worth a read. Go on, click over.

Best Post by a Type 1
Living one day with T1D can be challenging, but on Halloween Kelly Kunik marked her 37th diaversary. And over at her diabetesaliciousness, K2 focused on the positives with a fun list of 37 items she has observed and felt through all her years with D.

Best Post by a Type 2
Kate at Sweet Success wants you to know: Diabetes is not to be ignored. Neither is this post from her.
Best Post by a Type Awesome
No nominations came in for this category, but I couldn't help but remember this post that stood out to me from October -- because it's a guest-post from my own dad, who not only rocks the D-Dad role but also is a D-Husband to my mom who's been Type 1 for more than a half-century. He wrote that over at D'Mine. Love you, dad.

Best story of a D-mistake
Tina at Stick With It Sugar endured a scary situation recently, and I was literally on the seat of my chair reading about how this whole thing transpired. And how can you not read a post with the title, "Purple Because Aliens Don't Wear Hats"...?! 

Best Motivational Post
      Motivate this, Motivate That... yep, that's certainly what Alanna at Life on T1 has done with her post Being Balanced Is Key.

Best Comments
Jennifer at Despite My Pancreas wrote a post about The Edge as to her yoga, but it wasn't until you read through the comments you got to see the true impact this post had on people in our D-Community by inspiring them to begin or re-start their own yoga adventures!

Best Diabetes Art
      OK, there are 2 awesome art-related DOC efforts that got attention this past month - they both just had to be included here!
  1. Make Your Own Betes! Ginger Vieira has this post on Diabetes Daily about a TuDiabetes video chat that took place on Oct. 22, featuring the
  2. Hand in Hand, Art for Diabetes: This post from late October highlights a creative and cool initiative spearheaded by the great D-wife of our DOC leader Manny Hernandez, and it includes a trio of well-known diabetes bloggers -- Manny, Scott Johnson, and Kerri Sparling.
Nominations and Others Worth Noting From October:
DuG (@WyoWiseGuy)

So, that's the DOC wrap for October.

Don't forget, you can snag a Best of the Betes Blogs box and show it off proudly over on your own site.

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Do you want to host? There's always a need for more, especially for Dec. 1 and then down the road as we move into 2015. Hit up Sara here: Email Best 'Betes Blogs

Thanks for being a part of this awesome Diabetes Online Community, and doing all you do.
You rock.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Call for Nominations: Best of the Betes Blogs for Halloween 2014!

Hey, friends!

This month, I'll be hosting the October-November Best of the ‘Betes Blogs!

If you aren't up on what this is all about, here's the 411: it's a great way to recognize our peers/fellow D-peeps in the Diabetes Blogosphere. You know, a kind of those #dblog posts that caught me eye and I think are worth a read.

Please get all your nominations in as soon as possible, by this weekend, so that we can go through the submissions and get the list compiled. It will go up here on Monday, Nov. 3.

Nominate your favorite posts from the month of July in these categories:
  • Best Use of Humor
  • Best Vlog
  • Best Recipe
  • Best Use of Photography
  • Best Advocacy
  • Best Reference to a D-Celebrity
  • Best Story of a D-Meetup
  • Best Non-D Related Post
  • Best Post by a Type 1
  • Best Post by a Type 2
  • Best Post by a Type Awesome
  • Best Post by a LADA/Type 1.5/Not Otherwise Specified
  • Best Story of a D-Mistake
  • Best Motivational Post
  • Best Diabetes Art
  • Best Comment(s)
Nominating is so easy, and you can do so in any of these 3 ways:
  1. Email
  2. Direct message to the Best of the ‘Betes Blogs Twitter account (@bestbetesblogs)
  3. Complete the online submission form
Make sure to include a link to the specific post and the category it fits in.

Oh, and you also don’t have to have a blog to nominate others. Just don't nominate yourself, please (and thank you).

For more information check out this link:

I plan on posting the full list of the Best of the ‘Betes blogs on Nov. 3. Thanks in advance for your nominations!