Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fun

That end of the week time is here again, so here we go with another round of Friday Fun! Here's some random, but good tidbits, from the past week. Here we go:
  • Ok. This isn't "fun," but it is important. So it leads the list. News of a disappointing encounter with a U.S. Senator came from D-Mom Moira McCarthy this week and spread quickly in the Diabetes Online Community and Beyond. But soon afterward, the incredible feedback to the situation prompted a response that includes an upcoming May meeting with Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts. This is an awesome example of the influence advocacy and social media can have. We will listen intently for how this meeting goes, and hope that it's not a one-time example of this lawmaker listening. Oh, and do you STILL wonder what the impact of social media is in today's world? Well, this is a must read about how social media played a part in informing and probably saving lives when tornadoes tore through Alabama recently. These two examples prove to me why social media matters.
  • Went to a Type 1 support meetup the other night and had a chance to visit, for the first time, the Roche headquarters on the northside of Indianapolis. Met some great people and had some insightful, honest discussion about everything from TrialNet research, Changing Pump Technology, Hypo Awareness, and Carb-Counting When Eating Out. Looking forward to the next one of these gatherings, which will get into the fantastic topic of Diabetes Camps! Oh, and here's a shout-out to fellow Type 1 Lauren (3rd profile down on the linked page), who led the group and finished up her college career this week in her road to becoming a social worker! Congrats, Lauren!
  • Oh, speaking of Community... What an awesome thing to see Diabetes Advocates membership grow exponentially to include SO MANY MORE new members this year!!! Have even met some new DOC friends, and it's inspiring to see so many people join together in yet another way to be a powerful voice for the broader Diabetes Community. After all, we're just talking. And that's huge.
    • The Aerosmith song "Walk This Way" is on my mind, after fellow D-Blogger Kelly Kunik tweeted the other night: "Just found a used test strip in one of the socks that I'm currently wearing." In response, I tweeted to thoughts: 1.) "That BG strip certainly gets around" and 2.) "Give the strip a break. It just wanted to walk a mile in your shoes!" Heh heh heh. Oh, the fun times! And speaking of test strips in crazy, "How The Fructose Did THAT end up THERE?!?!?!", I reflect on this image. (#truestory)
    Thanks for bringing that squirrel to me, pups!
    • After reading Chris and Dayle's recent saga about The Legendary Hypo Squirrel, I decided to enlist the Riley Dog to be on the hunt for similar sneaky squirrels who might be trying to invade our home. She's on the ball, totally focused on the mission.
    • That was just a prep, though, for this weekend's annual Mutt Strut gives Riley a chance for some exercise when strolling around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track (where the Indy 500 takes place!). Thousands of pooches take part every year. We have done this for years and it's fun, plus the money goes to the Humane Society. We're hoping to make it out there this Sunday once again!
    • Sadly, all is not as happy for our Shadow Kitten who is sick once again. This first post has details, but it boils down to kidney disease. The constant thirst has returned. Appetite is off and she's both eating little or too much at various times. Areas of our downstairs carpet are, unfortunately, spots where she has decided are ripe to pee on. So, time for a return visit to the vet to see what happens next... :(
    • No squirrely rodents like Hypo Squirrel or Cheesels, but that doesn't mean we weren't without our share of house invaders! We discovered an Ant Attack in the kitchen recently. This isn't the first time, but this one might be easier to pinpoint the reason it happened. Possibly, the mass wind storms that have bombarded our house disrupted these little insects in their just-outside-the-house dwelling and so they scattered inside. We found them wandering in the kitchen sink, and a few on the counter. But then, we saw a STREAM of them parading from an electric switch outlet on the wall nearby. I unscrewed and peeled off the faceplate, and BAM. There They Were En Mass. My skin was crawling, but thanks to some hardcore chemical spraying, those little insect invaders were soon enough crawling no more on my countertops. We spent a night cleaning adamantly and combating the infestation. Not fun.
    That's all on this end, for now. Happy Weekend!

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Those Three Relationships

    We recently had a Twitter discussion during the weekly #dsma chat involving the Life Stages of Diabetes. Basically, the premise is this: Living with diabetes can be tough and we never get a break. It's ALWAYS on our mind, with everything we do.  It’s quite easy to feel burnt out from everything we have to do to stay healthy.  When that happens, it can help to focus on the things, and the people, who make all our hard work worth it.

    How did relationships with other people help inspire you to take care of yourself?

    For me, that answer depends on which particular life stage we're talking about. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age five, I've gone through a few and so each stage represents a different relationship that essentially motivated me in some way to better manage my diabetes.

    As a Child & Teenager, Young Adult: My friends
    Maybe it wasn't so much being "inspired" during these years as it was more a sense of my wanting to not be different. Wanting to play baseball or be in school without being an outcast. Not having to sit on the gym floor and watch overs in gym class, or on the bench while others went out onto the baseball field to play while I had to sit. Or not being able to finish a swimming lap because of a Low. Wanting to just be "normal" and be with my friends. Same when it came to those dating years, and those times when I wanted to be able to drive around with those people important to me without any issues.

    Sure, it may not have always been a particular relationship in those years that motivated me to better D-Management. Sometimes it was just a feeling, or a larger vision. But this is about specific relationships, I think, so we'll stay on that focus.

    The past decade: The-Girlfriend-Who-Became-My-Wife
    The relationship that would inspire me to take care of myself the most has been the woman who'd become my wife. You know, my Loving and Supporting Spouse (aka Suzi). I've written about this before and mentioned it during this March discussion on Twitter, but here it is again: She made me want to live a long time and be around for a long and fruitful future together. No longer was this all just about me and my D-Management, but it was bigger than my life. It was about us. And everything that would evolve into as time went on. She's the reason why I want to take care of myself, and why I can feel so depressed when I get so burnt out by diabetes and slack on doing that. Her support and love is pivotal, and so that's the Relationship Who and How that's inspired me the most through the years.

    New Support That Keeps Me Accountable
    But yes, there is another relationship that is awfully inspiring: the Diabetes Online Community. This group of ever-expanding friends has been life-changing, but in a different way. While my wife and everything that relationship represents is the Why and Underlying Motivation, the DOC then helps me actually fulfull that task of staying on task and coping with the day-to-day - so as not to burden others with this D-Life. More in that "getting it" and "I'm not alone" type of way that one might crave for an entire lifetime before finding this community. Others have written it more eloquently than I am here, but the simple fact is that everyone I've had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with online has been an inspiration in managing my own diabetes even more. Just talking with people who you share a common bond, and can laugh and cry and be serious or joking with is very powerful. That helps keep me accountable, and the more I interact the more I feel like I should be doing more on my own D-Management and that in turn keeps me on task. It helps me fulfill that ever-important and always-in-my-heart goal of being the healthiest and most-manageable-as-can-be diabetic I can for my love.  To be who I am for our future, whatever lies ahead.

    All of these relationships come together, and they join all the other influential and important ones out there - with other friends, with my parents, with coworkers, and just people in general who inspire in different ways and teach you to be a better person.

    "This post is my April entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2011/april-dsma-blog-carnival/"

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Assault with a deadly... Lancet

    The news story caught my attention immediately.

    From one of the daily newspapers in the area I grew up in Southeast Michigan and once wanted to work during or after college, the headline to this story said:"Third-grader expelled after playing with blood sugar tester."

    WTF, I thought. My mind flashed to a child testing his or her blood sugar in class at a desk, and getting in trouble for that from a teacher not knowing what the sharp little device actually was.

    Not the case, as I learned when reading the story that ran in the April 21 edition of The Oakland Press.

    Basically, an 8-year old poked up to 13 classmates with a lancet device that a fellow student had found on the classroom floor, picked up, and started passing around for a poke-a-thon. This all happened in mid-March, and the school determined to be a serious health situation.

    No, it's not clear whether we're talking about a lancet or a lancing device.

    We also don't know from the newspaper coverage at this point where exactly the lancet came from. The boy's mother claimed no one in the family has diabetes and her son hadn't brought the device in, and the teacher had no idea what it even was before being told by someone.

    So, there are those mysteries.

    But what's the biggest shock of this story, I think, is the discipline handed down to this boy.

    The school board says it has "limited discretion" in cases involving "dangerous weapons," and expelled him for 180 days - a penalty that not only keeps him out of class there at Jefferson-Whittier Elementary School in Pontac, but ALL schools in the state of Michigan.

    My own lancing device, w/meter+strips in background!
    The mom told the newspaper it's unfair her son is being excluded from all Michigan schools for that long. He's a good kid without a disciplinary record and is a good student, but even more problematic to her is that he's being singled out. She notes that four other children also were poking classmates with the device that's used to draw blood to test blood sugar levels, but her son is the only one being punished. She says none of the children realized the tester was considered a dangerous weapon. A girl in the class apparently found the device and poked her son, who then poked another student and so on.

    My jaw dropped to the floor when reading all of this. (not only that a lancet might be a "dangerous weapon," but the punishment handed down.)

    Seriously. I get the health-danger involved here, and that SOME punishment might be necessary in this case. But 180 DAYS where he's not able to attend ANY school anywhere in the state???

    Way too harsh, in my opinion.

    We're talking about an 8-year old. In third grade. The school totally blew what could have been a disciplinary action combined with a teaching moment. Educating this child and the others involved about the dangers of not only sharp objects they might find on the floor or outside, but what bad things can happen to make them sick if they get poked or do the same to others.

    He really could have learned something from this, while being taught what he did was really bad and shouldn't be done. But instead, this good kid is out of school for six months and pretty much exposed to the criminal elements of the neighborhood.

    This is what I see as an example of Zero Tolerance vs. Common Sense - something we've seen before in cases where a third-grader gets suspended for drawing a soldier with canteen and knife, and this story about a 9-year old suspended for playing with Legos during lunch when one of the little action figures was holding a two-inch toy gun.

    These are examples where you seriously have to wonder what this world is coming to and what type of morons are running our schools, when THIS is the type of thing we're punishing students for.

    Now, if this boy had brought this lancet device to school and just decided to start poking people with it, then I could justify this harsh punishment. But that apparently isn't the case, and so in my head this punishment isn't productive or useful - it sends a message. Does my opinion change if one of those poked-classmates obtained some blood-borne disease as a result of this? No, it doesn't. Because again, age and history and circumstance show this warrants leniency and education, even if we don't minimize the seriousness and health risk involved here.

    Yes, some punishment is warranted - but NOT an expulsion this severe, because this does nothing to salvage the situation and this child's educational career. It's a knee-jerk, "feel good" political decision by a school board that is basically covering its own ass. A spineless group that with this punishment is basically saying, "See, concerned parents, we did something." And it helps them justify some blanket zero-tolerance weapon policy, designed at protecting the entire school community even at the sacrifice of a few who might not warrant the full scope of its severity.

    The mom is appealing to the Michigan Board of Education, and I for one hope the state DOE overturns this decision or criticizes the board. In the meantime, the mom says her son is asking every day why he can't go back to school like he wants to. In fighting this, she says: “I’m not going to stop until he gets back in school. My child’s education is involved."

    This certainly isn't a case where a Child With Diabetes is being targeted. Rather, it just by coincidence involves something connected to diabetes. In a way, maybe there is some potential concern that this rationale could be adopted by others and school officials in other jurisdictions could look to this example in determining that lancets are "dangerous weapons." That any Child With Diabetes shouldn't ever be able to have one of these finger-pokers in class or in the hallway or in school anywhere. That even 504 plans might not be good enough, and students will be required to go to a school nurses' office to have a finger blood test. Who knows. Maybe that's just in my mind.

    Oh, and by the way: Where the Fructose was this teacher, while all these children were apparently poking each other with a lancet???

    What do you think about this classroom lancet-poking situation?

    UPDATE: Oct. 11, 2011:
    After trying to stay on this story and get updates from the reporter who wrote the original article, I finally received this note:

    I am sorry that I cannot give you an update to our story in April about the boy who was alleged to have poked other children with a lancet device in a classroom. The mother planned to appeal to the state, but I was told by state board of education officials that there is no process for that type of appeal. Both the school district and the family prefer to keep the issue private at this time.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Friday Goodness

    A busy and somewhat stressful week comes to a close, but the work is far from finished. So in the interests of brevity to keep plugging away, I offer a five-shot of Friday Goodness (being that it's Good Friday, and all).
    • Yes, it's the Friday before Easter - marking what John 19:42 describes as the crucifixion and death of Jesus. But more than this religious holiday, the calendar is also proclaiming that it's Earth Day! So, go hug a tree or something. Or help inspire awareness and appreciation for this planet's natural environment. Or EVEN BETTER: Go to Starbucks, where for today only you can take your own reusable mug or tumbler and get a free hot or cold drink!!! We plan to go here soon enough, though it may be Sunday prior to our Lasagna dinner that night!
    • Even my blog stats illustrate that Easter is on the mind. Top search terms in the past week include: "Moses and the Burning Bush," "Burning Bush," and "Bible Story Moses" - all likely a result from this Easter 2010 post where I referenced some Bible tales to talk about my occasional "burning toe" neuropathy symptoms. Following behind are terms: "Gremlins," "Popice," "Old People Driving With Diabetes," variations of "i miss you this much, love" that go to my archives (WTF??), and the ever-key question "Can diabetics turn into zombies?" (Brains...) I'm also appreciative of those who find me by searching by name -> (hi there, Washington D.C. Verizon user, and Google searchers in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, and... uh... Bulgaria!) *me, waving*
    •  Marking Easter, we do try to avoid the pesky little peeps that are so squishy and saturated with sugar. But we certainly appreciate chocolate bunnies in this house, and as we're diligently trying to conserve cash, we discovered some cheap chocolatey treasures this week to continue this yummy tradition. My Loving and Supporting D-Wife even wrote a blog post about it the other day over at Laughter & Tears, where she did some D-Math and had some fun. Following up on that, I thought it'd be appropriate to provide an update on the status of the aforementioned chocolate bunny.
    • All that chocolate and general talk about sugar made me reflect on the higher BGs that I've seen lately. But it didn't dawn on me until I opened up my blood meter case recently that I really noticed how much I've been testing. The mass of used strips illustrates my point, though they're all disposed of now after falling on the floor and forcing me to dispose of them.
    Sneaky little suckers.


    • Oh, don't forgot to go Talk! We've talked here before about the JDRF's talking online and how it wants to engage this community. You know, through what's called Type 1 Talk. Well, they have relaunched the effort and it's expanding and we're all able to get involved. What's even cooler than just participating, though? Well, this:
      To help celebrate the re-launch of the new and improved Type 1 Talk, we're offering up a trip to Government Day.  Anyone who posts and holds an event in April or May will be entered into a random drawing for a trip to Government Day in 2012 (typically scheduled for early March.)  To be eligible for the prize, you must post photos of your April/May event on our Type 1 Talk fan page and complete the post-event host survey.  All photos and surveys must be submitted before the drawing takes place on June 7th.
      To take a look at this post Kim wrote up and then go be a part of Type 1 Talk. (Oh, and like my fellow D-Blogger noted -> I was recent attendee at the 2011 JDRF Government Day in D.C. and that in no way influenced my decision to mention Type 1 Talk here. Really, it's just that cool and we should all be a part of it because meeting and advocating and hanging out with other D-Peeps rocks!)

    With that, I'm out.

    Hope the Friday is Good, as the name implies, the Earth treats you well today, and this weekend is a good one for you and yours!

    HAPPY EASTER!


    (Don't forget to find ALL those hidden eggs, cuz that might really stink up the joint...)

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Bad Timing

    Sometimes, diabetes interferes with life in the worst possible moments.

    When we're already late to work. Trying to make an appointment. Just as we're going to bed. Intimate moments. Driving your car. Mowing the lawn. Exercise adventures that must be delayed or cancelled. Working diligently on deadline and trying to read complex documents. And so many more.

    Lost Time is a common dilemma for those of us living lives with a faulty pancreas, and one of these bad timing moments materialized for me recently.

    My mind just wasn't where it should have been, my temperature gauge was off, and it was quite possible that I was either Way Too High or Way Too Low to focus on what was needed.

    These things happen, and in this particular moment it wasn't exactly a shocking surprise - my SWAGing for an uncalculated amount of carbs and unusual exercise in the hours before were likely culprits.

    But the timing sucked.

    So, I opted for a blood test and my meter laughed at me while displaying a 49 mg/dL.

    Glaring at it, my mind flashed to the image of my pummeling it against the wall or onto the tiled floor. I decided against that, but this really set me off. My fists clenched. I wanted to scream, but was trying to mind my surroundings and not draw unnecessary attention to myself or situation.

    Anger. Guilt. Embarrassment. Depression. Cynical dark humor, as I tried to balance it all out and see some positive that "it could have been worse." Restart of the cycle.

    Wannabe Oreos  and apple juice came to my rescue, and despite the ability to ONLY eat and drink enough to bring myself to acceptable levels, I just wanted to be far from that 49. So, I drank two juice boxes and several double-stuffed Os (somewhere around like 90 grams of carbs, I'm guessing.)

    No bolus to cover it. Because frankly, I just didn't care.

    At least twice, the words "I Hate You, Diabetes" passed through my lips in a whisper. Draining the juice boxes dry by straw, I used my clenched-fist mentality to crush them and slam them down in frustration.

    That all gave me a few minutes to calm down and find my inner Chi once again. I went back to my regularly-scheduled tasks of the hour, though what needed to be done was already moot. So this time, diabetes screwed with my life and interfered and just put me in a bad mood. The resulting 200 mg/dL hours after the cookies and juice boxes wasn't too bad of a consequence, but the timing still sucked and there's nothing that can be done about it.

    Looking back on it now, maybe it all wasn't really that big of a deal. Maybe I was over-reacting. But at the time, it sucked. People not living with diabetes might not get that. It might just be an "oh well" moment, one where you have to simply move on. Yes, we do have to move on. But none of that takes away the fact that, in those moments where we need to be on the ball or at our best, we simply aren't in control. Diabetes gets in the way and takes away our normalcy, no matter how much we may plan or do what we're supposed to or stay on task 99% of the time.

    So it is, another day in the life of a diabetic. Life goes on regardless, whether we move on or not. So we do our best as often as we can, knowing that even though we sometimes Lose Time because diabetes gets in the way, it won't conquer our world.

    There's always the fact, too, that when the timing is crappy, at least we have some juice boxes to squeeze senselessly while devouring some chocolate cookies.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    A Gala of Passion

    We went to the JDRF Promise Gala in Indianapolis this past weekend.

    This was our third time going in as many years, courtesy of my employer that is an event sponsor and offered us the honor of being able to attend such a great event we otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to attend (tickets to the black tie gala are quite costly). This year, we also had the chance to fill some other spots at this sponsor table so I was able to invite about six others who are friends and parts of the Diabetes Community.

    It was a blast, and an incredibly awesome time as always.

    The featured family at the event was the Koch Family, famous here in Indiana in that they are the owners of the theme park known as Holiday World in Southern Indiana. They have a very personal connection to diabetes, in that several family members are touched by it - and sadly they lost one of their own to it. Forty-eight year old Will Koch, who'd lived with Type 1 since his college days and went on to take over the family park, died in June 2010. His mom made a very touching speech, and she just felt very real. One part that especially hit my heart was her telling how her son would always be concerned when his own kids (non-diabetic) were excessively thirsty, and had them tested just to be sure. Then, there was a nice presentation honoring Will. After that, a father came to the stage with his daughter who's living with diabetes and they received an award, and there were some others who spoke and did all the formal award-presenting and recognitions.

    Someone mentioned that a cure was possible, but only if more money was donated in order to make it happen. Then the auction began.

    The theme: "Fight For The Cure." As you might expect, from the name and this being a JDRF event, it was very cure-focused and there was much talk of moving ahead quickly and curing diabetes for the children. The glossy invites and programs were all very nice... marketing materials full of colorfully cute images of kids proclaiming their interest in fighting diabetes each day and fighting for that future cure - and encouraging event attendees from pulling out their pocketbooks to contribute toward that cure. From the high-priced golf vacations and resort getaways, to a NYC talk show package to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Letterman's Late Show that went for $6,000.


    Our table joked about combing our auction bid cards for the several month-old Golden Doodle puppy named Yogi, hoping for a Diabetes Camp mascot, but alas we couldn't afford the $3,000 shelled out. Oh well.



    I can only guesstimate that thousands and thousands were raised, but it seems pretty clear that some records may have been hit with 825 people attending and that being 18% more than years past.

    That's all fine and very good. After all, it's what these formal fundraising events are mostly about.

    For me, it was just being in a room full of people with so much passion and their own personal stories that makes it all hit home. Having those real, personal conversations with people and just feeling that connection that brought us all together in one place. It made me think about how progress really is moving forward, how I've felt that lately, and hope much hope there truly is in the research that's happening - all possibly because of this passion, this fundraising, and the whole game of advocacy that so many people and organizations are a part of.

    I made a mental nod to all of the others, and brought myself back to the fact that this was a JDRF evening...

    We had dancing. That was a whole bunch of fun, though it really did make me recall that even in my early 30s, I'm so very out of shape and simply don't have the moves that once decorated my dance floor repertoire. At least I was in the company of others who represented well and masked my aching leg syndrome!

    More importantly, there was a lot of networking, with old friends that I hadn't seen in a while to those I've most recently met and others met for the first time that night. We had some great fun and conversation, and I'm happy to have had the chance to get some others there to the gala who might not have been able to attend - multiplying that networking even more!

    There was some talk of blogging, and I heard one set of D-Parents say they were thinking about starting their own blog about their son's D-Life based on my own writing here (which was... a "wow" moment for this guy). Those diabetics at the table did some SWAGing on the dinner and dessert, and we all chatted the night away.

    In the hallway, I ran into a fellow Adult Type 1 who I hadn't seen in a while and she mentioned reading my blog recently about heading off to the JDRF Government Day in Washington D.C. I recapped it briefly, and she asked point blank: "What do you think it accomplished?"

    The question threw me for a moment, but it made me smile in thinking about what actually has already come from that - progress in helping diabetes research move forward thanks to Congressional letters to the FDA. Of course, I also helped spread word to those who didn't know about our local Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana Camp Until a Cure, and so that was great conversation in itself.

    Overall, we had a great time and it was pretty cool to be a part of such a classy and formal event where so many people within the Diabetes Community comes together.

    With events just like this and many others sprinkled throughout the world at so many different times, it's no wonder that we are moving toward something great. Not only a light at the end of a tunnel, but just the chance to achieve greatness along the way. That's what we are fighting for. Passionate people unite to make it happen all the time, and that's worth honoring.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Remembering A Legend

    Neal Shine.
    Four years ago, this world lost a journalism legend.

    This man embodied what is good and honorable in the City of Detroit, in the journalism profession, and just generally in the world we live. He was a mentor and true role model who's tough love in college shaped my journalism career. From his personal connection to my education and journalistic practice to those others who played a part in who I became.

    Neal Shine, former Detroit Free Press publisher who had to retire twice to officially get away from his newspaper. But even that didn't keep him away. He died April 3, 2007 at age 76. But just like when he left the newspaper officially, he's not gone. He'll never be forgotten.

    Every year about this time, I reflect on his role in my journalistic life and appreciate that I knew him. The actual broadsheet newspaper, now yellowed with three years of sunlight, still hangs on the bulletin board behind my desk at the office. A huge photo of Neal watches over my shoulder, making sure I stay ethical and do this writing the way it needs to be done.

    Shine was one of the most inspiring journalists I've met, and his life story goes to the heart of rising from the bottom to the top. He entered the J-world in 1950, as a 20-year-old trying to fulfill his lifelong dream of working at the Detroit Free Press. He started as a copyboy before working his way up to reporter, columnist, various editor spots, and ultimately publisher. I remember hearing his stories about this in J-school, listening wide-eyed to his stories about literally running print copy from the newsroom to copy desk, fetching coffee for reporters, and whatever else he was told to ease the stress of a newsroom. He retired as publisher in the late 80s, but returned before his final farewell following the notorious Detroit newspapers strike in 95.

    He loved this newspaper business. It was a part of him. And he made you love it, want to do it, chase that last story by beating your shoe leather on the pavement. It wasn't about making phone calls from behind a desk - it was about being out there in the community, making a difference and helping those who needed it by exposing the truth.

    Mitch Albom, one of my all-time respected and cherished writers, a man whom I grew up reading and aspiring to write like, wrote this in his tribute: "Neal Shine was that guy. The one who lures you into newspapers -- then keeps you there forever. Neal loved the ink, the presses, the deadlines, the very idea that something important happens every day and 'damn it,' as he liked to say, someone should be covering it."

    After learning of Neal's death, I searched desperately for a token of tangible evidence of his presence in my life. No such luck. We briefly served on the Oakland University newspaper's board of directors together - and I'd kept in touch with emails and a couple scattered written letters after my move to Indiana. My email accounts reveal those are now gone, lost in the depths of a long-ago deleted folder. So are most of my notes from those days when we shared some space in feature writing and ethics courses.

    Neal once told me that I had all the potential in the world - if I just stood up and did what needed to be done. That lecture-like advice came from a time when I'd used some newspaper excuse to dodge an assignment in his feature-writing class, and he just shook his head and gave the written copy back to me, telling me to do it again. He gave me another chance. That advice tied directly into his ethics teachings, that you can never cut corners as a journalist. You have to get it right, and do it right. Any perception of wrongdoing is just as bad as the wrongdoing itself. It's a thought that carries over to my daily reporting world now, when having to turn down basketball tickets or even a cup of coffee from a source. Years back, I'd almost come to blows with a school district spokeswoman who wanted to buy me a sandwich during a lunch interview. Shine was in my thoughts as I refused, and I could just imagine him chuckling but being proud that I stuck to my guns.

    Like any mentor, you could call him at home. You had his personal email and mailing address. We knew each other mostly through college settings, but we came from the same hometown - and he always remembered that. This man taught me to love the newspapering business in a way I'd had little exposure before: for the ethics and integrity of it all.

    This online tribute has been created in this man's honor, and I encourage anyone who wants to just read an inspiring American story about a great man to check it out.

    I mark this time of year by remembering Mr. Neal Shine, a true Detroiter. The type of old-school journalism man that's getting harder and harder to find these days as newsrooms are traded in for "information centers." We all owe him a debt of gratitude for doing what he did - simply telling people's stories in order to make a difference, and touching others' lives in doing so. Thanks for making journalism - this world - what it is and inspiring others to be the best humans we can be.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Like Sands Through The Hourglass



    So. These are the days of our lives.

    Full. Busy. Sometimes so tough. But the sands keep falling no matter what, and time passes by.

    It's been busy on this end, with so much happening that I've had to unplug from the Diabetes Online Community a bit just to try and keep my head above water. It feels as if there are a few huge clouds hanging overhead, a couple turning dark with lightening and thunder, but they're all growing and demanding equal time and attention. That's just not possible, so priorities are in flux as what needs to be done can be accomplished. Anyhow, I'm hoping to find some time to re-connect before long.

    In the meantime, here's a quick list running down some updates and what's on tap before long:
    • We have sent Bacon Gibbs back to Minimed, and so far Gibbs Corleone, The Don of Pumping, has been working out nicely. Even displayed a few times that he is, in fact, The Don of Rage Bolusing, and my body appears to have listened- "offers it couldn't refuse," apparently.
    • You may recall the American Diabetes Association in Indiana recently capped off its Kiss The Pig contest at a pro basketball game, between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. Lots of fun with volunteers in pig costumes, plus a real life little piggy that some got to smootch! We were able to attend and see it all happen live from the near-nosebleed seats! The ADA-Indiana has some photos over on its Flickr page you check out here. Me, over there to the right -> that's me talking it up with one of the great volunteer pigs!
    • Wait...Did someone say BACON...?!?!?!?! Oh, my bad. Sorry about that, ADA Pigs. No offense. We love you and your diabetes-supporting advocacy. Still, bacon is yummy. Can't deny it. :)
    • Type 1 diabetic and professional IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball has kicked off a national campaign called "Drive The Switch" program that urges D-patients to talk to their doctors about insulin delivery devices and options to help better manage their diabetes. Options such as pre-filled pens by Novo-Nordisk, maker of the Levemir pens that Charlie uses. What I find coolest about this new effort is that Novo's agreed for each person who pledges it will make a donation to the Diabetes Hands Foundation, up to $10,000. More info is online at www.DrivetheSwitch.com.
    • The JDRF Indiana's annual Promise Gala is Saturday, April 16 - we're blessed to be attending, along with several others from the local Diabetes Community and even a prominent star in our very own DOC (guess who it might be!). More updates to come on that down the road.
    • Have you ever attended Diabetes Camp? Well, then I need your help! The Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana (of which I'm a new board member on) is hoping to create a new tradition for those campers who've attended camp for Five Years. It's a 5-Year Camper program and we need a cool name (like the "Bartonians" at Camp Clara Barton in Massachusetts). But, what fun name should we use for this Indiana-based DYFI called Camp Until A Cure? I'd ponder something having to do with bacon or unicorns, or maybe even BluntLancet... Hmm.
    • On May 7, there's the 7th Annual Gong Show locally where people can show off their talent (or lack of it) and compete to not be "gonged" off stage. This is sponsored by the Norma Taulman Memorial Fund that has some personal diabetes connections, and all of the money goes to Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana and its camp. You can help out, by going here. There's a cool Wall of Pawsibility where you can have your name put on a little paw  that will then be displayed on a wall for hundreds of spectators to see. Only $10 for such a great cause! The deadline for this is April 18.
    • A recent church sermon caught my attention. The focus was about being in a deep, dark, depressing valley and not knowing how to get out of it. But knowing that we have those walking with us, even when it doesn't seem like it. That was reassuring, something that hit home on so many fronts right now. Not only with the Diabetes Community, when you talk to someone who truly "gets it" and feels the Ups and Downs as you do, but in so many other aspects of life. Personally, professionally, spiritually. Let's just say it's tough looking up out of the abyss and seeing more sand falling down on top of you, but at least knowing there is someone with a shovel up there doing his or her best.
    • Baseball season is here and that makes me happy. Even if I miss my own D-No Hitters. The Detroit Tigers have their home opener today, and so I hope they can pull off a W there against Kansas City (no offense, Brother Strange!!!)
    • My wife, dog, and cat bring a smile to my face. Well, at least the first two do... The cat is evil and likes to pee on things. So no, I'm not a fan at the moment.
    • Thank you to all who attended and represented the Diabetes Community at the recent Medtronic Diabetes Advocacy Forum in California. You rock. And Minimed, thank you for being so willing to engage the DOC, listening to our voices and building the foundation of a great ongoing relationship.
    That's all. Hope everyone is well, stays well, and has a chance to just live a little and smile. Thanks for stopping by. See you when I see you. Remember, diabetes and life can make you crazy - but don't let those be your excuses. Just be a little crazy back at 'em.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Three's A Crowd

    A total of three insulin pumps are currently residing in my world.

    Yes, that's correct: 3 of them.

    It's like an episode of Three's Company, where my D-Life is like the show in that it's a comedy of errors, chronicling the escapades and hijinks of Pump and Pump Master's constant misunderstandings, social jives, and struggles to keep up with all of life's adventures.

    So, this is why three are currently a part of my life. They are all Minimed pumps and have names and stories, too:

    1. Larry The Loaner: a 523 Paradigm Revel that I was trial-testing for a few months, thanks to a local rep who gave me the chance to see the ins and outs before making a final decision on buying one of these CGM-pumps for myself. An informative and beneficial experience that I'm grateful for and have written about once or twice or more, but that trial run has come to a close. But in the meantime, Larry is sitting on the sidelines with transmitter nearby while I get back to the routine of my regularly-purchased pump.

    2. Bacon Gibbs: a 722 Paradigm that I'd received in March 2010, a replacement for my previous pump known as Scarface that saw its memory start slacking and data compromised. So that paved the way for a refurbished 722 who received the hallmark name, Bacon Gibbs (for my mutual love of both bacon and the beloved show NCIS, where Mark Harmon stars as character Leroy Jethro Gibbs.). But during the past few weeks, I'd noticed that Bacon Gibbs wasn't allowing me to upload any data to the online Carelink program to analyze myself or share with my Endo. (This is a post topic all of it's own...) A phone call to Minimed revealed this pump's data may also now be compromised, and so they overnighted a new 722 my way and instructed me to ship Bacon Gibbs back to Minimed for examination. So, that's the end of Bacon Gibbs.

    3. Gibbs Corleone, also known as "The Don of Rage Bolusing": Yes, this is my latest refurbished 722 Paradigm. The first name is now obvious, but since receiving this new pump was basically "an offer I couldn't refuse," that led to the name Corleone. I'm sure this new technological godfather will do what needs to be done to manage my D-Life, and will be keen on rage bolusing to keep my BGs in check. Just to make sure I don't find myself "sleeping with the fishes" thanks to a middle-of-the-night Low or that unexplained Highs don't force me to "hit the mattresses" at some point. That's just how it works in this Family.

    The Don, Gibbs Corleone.
    The Don arrived early Saturday morning, with a knock on the door from the friendly brown-truck driving UPS man. Just like the Three's Company theme song says, the lyrics came to mind instantly: "C'mon knock on my door. I've been waiting for you... Three's company too!"

    So, now there are three. At least temporarily until one or two go away.

    It's going to be difficult to part with both Larry The Loaner and Bacon Gibbs, as we've had good fun, but in the end three's a crowd and so I must focus on all the good that Gibbs and I must now accomplish together as we work toward a lower A1c. Plus, it helped that The Don has given me specific instructions: "Leave the pumps. Take the cannoli.... because - you CAN eat that. Even if I must rage bolus later on."

    Hey, it's not personal. It's only business... the business of managing diabetes.

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Sherlock Strikes Again

    Seriously, I wish this was an April Fool's joke.

    But sadly, it's not.

    This is the one where we get to once again explore how stupid and worthless some medical and health studies are, in exploring questions that don't actually need to be explored.

    I've ranted and raved about this concern of mine before, touching on studies that have found "Sedentary behavior linked to high blood sugar" and "Active Self-care Improves Blood Sugar Control." That March 31, 2007 post was entitled No Shit, Sherlock and I ended up recycling it last summer, but now it comes to this again as a new mind-boggling study has been spearheaded by inquiring minds in the Diabetes Research Community. Apparently, Sherlock Strikes Again.

    Oh, and here's a shout-out to DiabetesMine that has a great look today at another stupid waste of a study, this one also over in Europe.

    Side note: What is it about this time of year? Is this the Season of Senseless Studies, a time when we see just how money can be wasted exploring issues that simply don't need exploring because they're known to anyone with a brain??

    But, on to this new study that a Reuters news story gave the headline: "Counting carbs may help with type 1 diabetes." Here's the first part of the story describing the study and its findings...

    Tallying the number of carbohydrates in the diet may be helpful to people using an insulin pump to treat type 1 diabetes, a small study suggests.
    The study, of 61 adults on insulin pump therapy, found that those who learned to count carbs had a small reduction in weight and waist size after 6 months.
    They also reported gains in quality of life and -- at least for those who consistently counted their carbs with each meal -- an improvement in blood sugar levels.
    The findings, published online by the ADA journal Diabetes Care and scheduled to appear in the April print issue, do not prove that carb counting is the answer for people with type 1 diabetes.

    The actual study can be found here, entitled "Effects of Carbohydrate Counting on Glucose Control and Quality of Life Over 24 Weeks in Adult Patients With Type 1 Diabetes on Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion." (a.k.a insulin pumping therapy)

    In the intro to this study where it discusses the objective, the researchers note this: "Few studies have assessed the efficacy of carbohydrate counting in type 1 diabetes, and none have validated its efficacy in patients who are treated with (insulin pumps). The aim of our study was to test the effect of carbohydrate counting on glycemic control and quality of life in adult patients with type 1 diabetes who are (on pump therapy)."

    Conclusion: Among adult patients with type 1 diabetes treated with CSII, carbohydrate counting is safe and improves quality of life, reduces BMI and waist circumference, and, in per-protocol analysis, reduces HbA1c."

    (Sigh...)

    Um, really. Really!? I honestly don't even know where to begin ranting about this one.

    The rocket scientists listed on this research study all appear to hail from Italy, and it's unclear from the abstract I'm able to read for free how this all came to be published in the ADA's most recent journal. or what the pressing question on this whole carb counting concept might be over there in Italy. Maybe it has something to do with pasta and how you can never seem to carb count correctly or dose accurately... Who the heck knows.

    I may be guessing here, but maybe the reason why there've been few studies on this is because everyone who knows this already. Carb counting is the whole basis for how an insulin pump works - you get a steady basal rate that acts as you're long-acting during the day, and then you take a bolus whenever needed for FOOD or higher-than-normal BGs. The same concept applies to Multiple Daily Injections, when you're doing the same with syringes rather than a piece of technology.

    I mean, seriously. If you aren't calculating carbs correctly, then you aren't dosing insulin accurately and therefore YOUR BLOOD SUGARS ARE OFF. The next logical extension of that is when you're BGs are Low or High based on incorrect carb counting and bolusing, then at least you're immediate quality of life is diminished and you're A1c is likely to be higher based on higher BGs building up over time.

    As I've written before, but never seem to get a solid answer for my question: Why The Fructose are we wasting time and energy on stupid studies that simply reinforce what isn't disputed and what we already know? My mind has melted from the confusion about why this was even given attention in the first place. I get that sometimes people just need to be able to justify their beliefs with actual study-based research. But seriously. What a complete waste of time and money that could have been focused on something more productive.

    For example, this very same issue of Diabetes Care includes details on another study that actually seems worthwhile. That one has the title: "Protection From Retinopathy and Other Complications in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes of Extreme Duration - The Joslin 50-Year Medalist Study." Those leading this study are from the U.S., largely in Massachusetts, and it's findings show that, "The Medalist population is likely enriched for protective factors against complications. These factors might prove useful to the general population with diabetes if they can be used to induce protection against long-term complications. Specific AGE combinations were strongly associated with complications, indicating a link between AGE formation or processing with development of diabetic vasculopathy."

    To me, as a layman Type 1 diabetic without any scientific or medical background, this latter study seems to have some merit while the first does not. But, whatever.

    All I know how to say, in closing, is: "No, Shit, Sherlock. Thanks for playing, Captain Obvious."

    Now, I need to go do a blood test to see if dinner carb counting was anywhere near accurate and if my Scientific Wild Ass Guessing has led to a Higher BG and that's the reason I feel tired and crappy... Because, you know, THAT HAPPENS.

    And I don't even need a study to prove it.