Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back on Eleven

As we usher out 2011 and once again welcome in a New Year, I've tried to go through all my posts for this past year and keep up the tradition of highlighting the monthly happenings in this little corner of the Diabetes Online Community... you know, my own Corner Booth. So, here's a time to reflect over coffee, conversation, and community.

January
Indiana got a new diabetes license plate, and I started my own ride with a Minimed 523 CGM, affectionately named Larry The Loaner.

We had an early start on celebrity media awareness, after Ricki Lake made a boo-boo when talking about the differences in Types 1 and 2. However, unlike many media outlets and celebrities who make errors like this and much worse, she stepped up and apologized. These things happen, but it's so telling when a person has the character to admit when they're wrong.

February
I had fun getting started as a board member of the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana and volunteering at my first event! Even got my blood meter pinstriped, all in the name of D-Camp!! Oh, and I got hassled by a court bailiff about using my CGM and testing my blood sugar while sitting in the courtroom.

March
Had the privilege of trekking to our nation's capitol for JDRF Government Day, thanks to my roles as a diabetes blogger and also a part of my local chapter's grass roots advocacy arm. It was an amazing experience full of outstandingly passionate people, and I was so grateful to really feel like we Adult Type 1s are Not Forgotten Anymore. Of course, it was an honor seeing so many friends - and Sprinkles.

April
We attended our 3rd JDRF Promise Gala in Indianapolis and had a blast! And at least there we saw no incidents of Assault with a Deadly Lancet, blunt or otherwise. Apparently, that only happens in schools.

May
How can D-Blog Week not rise to the level of being a monthly and yearly highlight?!?! Seriously. The 2011 lineup was great, and I had so much fun... particularly when thanking those random souls from my diabetic past. But one person I'm grateful isn't a stranger, but a fellow PWD and friend, is IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball who made his debut appearance in this year's Indianapolis 500!!!! Way to go, Charlie!!!!

Another personal highlight this month, although I didn't get around to writing about it until a few weeks later, was a visit to the Eli Lilly headquarters in Indy with my mom. It was truly a memorable moment we'll both remember!

June
Summer is busy, but the highlight for me was the third annual Roche Social Media Summit in San Diego that I was lucky to be a part of. Friends, community, advocacy, bacon, and Diet Coke... how can you go wrong there? Especially when Bennet takes his whiteboard and tries to jump out of a huge cupcake...

July
Ice cream and diabetes = nuff said. Hear me, Southside Times???? Yea, you heard me - and all of US. Take that, Wendell!

Aside from all that drama, it was good to have some media awareness lessons. Plus, there were some other newsworthy happenings - such as the 21st anniversary of the American With Disabilities Act and my own personal milestone of a Decade of Site Changes.

August
Apparently, someone thought it'd be a good idea to try and hack into an insulin pump. And then tell all the reporters about it. And that got some Congress-folk fired up. But the ever-watchful Diabetes Community again piped in to try and set the record straight.

September
Got all artsy again for D-Art Day, and also managed to miss out on a possible D-Meetup with a random passerby on the streets of Indianapolis.

October
Traveled to Kansas City for #Simonpalooza and had the incredible, life-changing opportunity to meet Simon, who traveled from Australia for a three-city North America tour to meet some members of the Diabetes Online Community.

November
The JDRF made a historic announcement that it was changing its logo, motto, and message to be more inclusive and multi-pronged toward LIFE with diabetes, AS we journey toward a cure. They even used a startling statistic to make their point, in what some view as a controversial way. Overall, it was the perfect month to do that, being Diabetes Awareness Month that included a great World Diabetes Day experience here in Indy. Lot of adventures, advocacy, and awesomeness.

December
Amazingly, the FDA kept a promise on something many of us have been working toward for a long time. So there's that, and an announcement came that our beloved dog and cat (Riley and Shadow) won a Halloween D-costume contest! And had great company, with Sara's kitten clan joining in the fun!

Overall, 2011 Lessons:
It's been a tough year with many ups and downs, personally and professionally and related to diabetes and not, but there's hope and optimism as we move forward.
This community is full of family, friends, passion and purpose. It's life-changing, and knowing you and being able to share some online space has made my year - my life - so much better. So thank you! Can't wait to see what's on tap for 2012 and Beyond!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Real-People Sick 2: A Christmas Sequel

So, about two weeks ago I had The Plague. This was the stomach version of an illness that took me out of work for a day, incapacitated me for about two days and led to no solid foods for almost three days.

As mentioned in a recent post, Suzi had the same bug about 10 days earlier and we’d thought I had sidestepped it – but that wasn’t the case. Thus began my fun times of being Real-People Sick.

Well, about a week after I was sick, which was a good three weeks after she’d initially been sick, Suzi got what we called The Voice Stealing Virus of the Throat. Basically, coughing and lack of ability to speak, at least in a non “I’ve been chain-smoking for 30 years” raspy voice. Luckily, that too only lasted a max of a couple days.

My sickness sequel set in just in time for Christmas. A few days beforehand, I’d felt a slight tickle in my throat and I recall muttering, “I’d better not get sick on Christmas.”

It happened. The Real-Person Sick Sequel had been approved, scripted and shot on the spot.

Christmas Eve wasn’t bad, but I took some cough syrup to try and make things better and thwart whatever might be on the way. Waking up at my parents’ house in Michigan on that Christmas Sunday morning, my throat felt horrible. The Cough had set in, and it hurt in my upper chest. I could barely talk, and it was that same raspy voice that sounded like the woman walking into the store in the movie Fun With Dick and Jane.

Sugar-free = respect the D, even when sick.
Talking was a challenge, so I tried to avoid it as much as possible throughout the day and evening. Same on Monday, our final day in Michigan when we met with about 10 friends for breakfast. It was a bummer, because I’d not seen these people since Christmas the year before and was looking forward to just chatting a bit. But, I did my best to stifle the coughs and keep a continuous flow of water and warm coffee to ease the throat. Sugar-free cough syrup and cough drops were always on hand, and that did help.

We traveled back to Indiana that afternoon and early evening, and I went back to work on Tuesday - but unfortunately was voiceless and ended up going home mid-day. My boss was understanding, since everyone seems to be sick these days, and she was appreciative I felt the need to not torture everyone for the full day with my raspy voice and plague-spreading interactions. The sneezing was in full effect by that time. It's possible I might also be out Wednesday... we'll see how that plays out.

Of course, this has all caused my BGs to run higher no matter what I've done. The Christmas dinner was a larger one with some treats and cider, and so those post-meal higher BGs were just a symptom of that feast. But the sickness kept me hovering in the 200s or higher most of the weekend and through Tuesday. On Tuesday, my sites decided to be cranky, and even two changes didn't seem to appease my fussy pump that kept mocking me with a "No Delivery" alert. I could get only a few units in at a time, and there was no telling whether it was actually in my system doing anything or caught in limbo somewhere. Eventually, I yanked the site and went with injections for a few hours until I could muster up the motivation to put another site in

Oh well. We all get sick, and real-person sick can be just as challenging and bothersome as anything D-related. Here’s to hoping that the Season of Sickness doesn’t linger around any longer, and things get back to normal (you know, chronic condition normal) sooner rather than later. 

And really, I'm hoping this isn't a trilogy... because my birthday is about a month away.

Monday, December 26, 2011

D-Gifts for Christmas

As a couple, we celebrate Christmas by not splurging much on each other but usually going for an array of fun, creative little gifts for each other. Maybe one or two we can enjoy together, like tickets to a play or an event, a movie or whatever. And then we might do a "real" gift that sticks around for a bit and means a little something.

Now, I won't share all the little exchanges we shared this Christmas. But there are three that we thought would be fun to put into a blog post.

1.) Candy, Candy, Candy (said in the Garfield Halloween special voice). You know, in case of Low blood sugars.... (wink). Because, really. Why eat glucose tabs when you don't have to?


2.) D-Notepads: I'm a writer, you likely know. Well, in the last few years I've been mixing my time up with a lot of my real-job newspaper writing and also diabetes writing in the blogosphere and elsewhere. Sure, most of it's in the Diabetes Online Community, but that mean I don't write posts out by hand, jot notes down, or even pen long ideas and strategies about D-Camp or local D-advocacy efforts. That's led to mixing of the notes, and having to flip through countless notebooks trying to figure out where "that" D-note is located among the many pages of interviews and journalism notes. So Suzi made a simple little EVER-PRACTICAL gesture: four notepads specifically for my diabetes writing!!! Each one has a "D" written in bold market up in the corner, AND they're even color-coordinated by season (black for winter, green for emerging spring, red for the red-hot summer months, and blue for the cooling off in fall). You rule, my love.

3.) And last, but certainly NOT least...

I GOT A PANCREAS FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!

A Plush Pancreas, to be exact.

Purchased from www.iheartguts.com
His story, as revealed on the little card attached: Located above the intestine, this Peter PANcreas likes cookies, cake, candy, and insulin and dislikes diabetes. His favorite book is Intro To Endocrinology and he hopes to meet "somebody sweet." He says: You'll enjoy getting to know my lesser known parts like the Islets of Langerhans, sphincter of Oddi, and ampulla of Vater.

 Dude, I got a pancreas for Christmas!!!!!!

Then, up in Michigan, my parents got me a gift that I know the DOC would appreciate - particularly Scott Johnson.

A Diet Coke ornament!

Not this blurry in real life, I swear.


So there it is. Some D-gift fun, mixed in with all the rest of the great holiday gatherings and activity. Hope yours' was a wonderful one however you spent it, and here's looking forward to the final days of 2011 and the start of a new year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cookies & Poetry

(Originally published in a 2010-version, revamped now for 2011.)

As Christmas Eve comes around and paves the way for Christmas Day, a tradition many have is to set out some Christmas Cookies on the night before.

You know, in case a Big Jolly Fat Man in a White Beard and Red Attire shows up for a visit. No, not Wilford Brimley and his diabeetus. We're talking about the stealthy ninja known as Santa Claus.

Of course, diabetes is a stealthy stalker, too, so we must be ready for both Santa and one of those middle-of-the-night Blood Sugar drops that can strike the seasonal slumber. So, our twist on the tradition is to put out these cookies, gingersnaps (for GingerNinjas???), a glass of white milk, and of course a handy apple juice just in case we need a boost... Maybe if I'm up treating a Low with some Christmas Carby Goodness, I can even catch a Meetup with Santa for a snack, and hit him up for any free blood meter strips, pump supplies or CGM sensors he might have in that magic Christmas Bag of his.

While we wait to see if that Santa D-Meetup comes to be, I leave you with an Xmas Eve poem:

Twas late in the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a Puppy or Kitty is stirring, nor is my spouse.
My blood sugar's steady at one-hundred-and-three
And there won't be a need to wake up about 3.
The wife is all nestled snug in our bed,
With no visions of paramedics or reactions dancing in her head.
Whether we're here in Indiana or up in Michigan
hopefully the sugars will cooperate and bring us a win.
We'll sleep in well, knowing that Low sugars won't be,
But if that should happen, Christmas Cookies for me.
Then Christmas will come and the fun will begin,
Before the day's worth of D-care starts over again.

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night...."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Christmas D-Spirit

Once again, tis' the season.

Our Christmas Tree materialized this year just after Thanksgiving, a tad bit earlier than years' past. We also moved it to another spot in the house, to change things up for 2011. But most of the Hoskins Family Christmas Tree remains unchanged.

Our Diabetic Spirit is also singing strong again as D-Supplies have also made their entrance for the third year in a row. More spirited than last year's D-Tree, and some of the regular fixtures have returned.

I've wondered some about whether it's "weird" to have diabetes device and management supplies adorning our holiday tree. But you know, my thought is that a Christmas tree is supposed to include ornaments that reflect important moments and aspects of one's life. Pictures of family, kids, friends. Items that mean something to you.  And so, I think diabetes fits into that - these things keep me alive, after all. So yes, they do have a place on our Christmas Tree.
  • Pump tubing tinsel, hanging again without worry of being yanked loose by a jumping dog or sneaky aggressive doorknob. Plus a Glucose Tablet on a pump tube string. And a nearby emtpy One Touch Ultra Blood Test Strip Vial being recycled for D-Tree use!
  • We have the controversial Sugar-Free Chocolate M&M from years' past. Yes, it is sugar-free despite claims to the contrary. Two other ornamenty versions of the bite-sized candies dangle nearby, fully capable of claiming the sugar-saturated status unlike their sugarless neighbor. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
  • Reservoir and infusion set combo. They're always connected to me, so by extension they have a place on the D-Tree. Nuff said.
  • Old insurance cards on pump tubing string. I keep all my expired insurance cards, and am now making use of them creatively.
  • A Green Pickle. Pickles are yummy treats for many in the Diabetes Community, but this ornament actually stems from an inside-joke between a group of friends. We all went camping one summer years ago and rented a pontoon boat that was green, and thus we named it the Green Pickle. Tree ornaments for everyone ensued, and still decorate our tree.
  • Mug O Beer. I do love my beer. No Christmas is complete without it. Cheers!
We also have added a few others that were gifts last year.
  • Glass Globe Filled With Test Strips, a gift from my mom last year. Thanks mom! This is awesome and a great new addition to our tree!

  • Riley & Shadow Ornaments, also ornaments that were gifts from my crafty mom (anyone else sensing a theme, here?!)

We have many other ornaments, but these are some fun central ones highlighted for this post.
Now, this D-Tree may not be a Little Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. And our pets may not be the real Garfield or Odie But hey, it's the Hoskins Family, with all the trimmings to compliment our lives and Hoosier Household. We proudly mark the season in our own ways, and love doing it.

Aside from the tree, we also spent some time recently creating and decorating a gingerbread house, courtesy of a store-bought kit containing directions and all the pieces. Not the same as the homemade ones we'd made years ago, but still a lot of fun! (By the way, total carb count listed on the box = 936g. Plus a couple in-house extras, I'd guess it's somewhere around 1100g of yumminess!!)

So, we're very excited about the holiday being here and being able to see and spend time with family and friends. All D-Life aspects aside, it's a time to remember what we have and how lucky we are in life, even when times are difficult and there doesn't seem like much reason to celebrate.

With that, I say to everyone: Merry Christmas 2011!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cold Ninja Fingers

Blood tests in the winter are always a challenge.

Cold temperatures do wonders on the hands to make them not want to bleed when poked by a lancet.

This seasonal hindrance happens often during this time of year. And it's annoying. Because, really... If I need to stab my fingers, I'd like to only do it ONCE. Not multiple times. With each one creating a stinging sensation thanks to the cold.

We need Ninja Fingers to survive this D-Life, but even our finger-piercing endurance isn't enough to conquer the cold temperatures.

What works, when the hands are freezing cold? Here's a few tricks of the trade I've embraced through the years.

Gloves help. No, not the cool mitten-style finger-flap ones Kim discovered. Rather, my own black leather ones that match my leather jacket or work dress coat. Not the greatest, but they help a bit.

The warmth radiated by a hot cup of coffee. Kerri would appreciate this, I'm sure. Of course, it only works without the gloves on.

Fists. Clenching. Like all angry-like. Pretend you're a boxer, like Rocky.

Rub the hands together, like you're trying to start a fire.

Rub them on the back of my leg. Or sit on them.

Run them under hot water. Just be careful not to hold them immediately under boiling hot H20 without a little prep, because that doesn't feel good.

And, when jumping into the vehicle after being outside in the cold, boosting the heat and using that to defrost the fingertips before doing a blood test. Which is a necessity before hitting the road.

Those are the most helpful tricks I've found.

But even with those little tricks, which occasionally do work, sometimes you just can't prevent the repeated, stinging finger stabs.

I'd rather not experience the Cold Fingers in the first place. But, I guess there isn't much that can be done. It's not like I can be like a hermit and stay indoors all winter... No, that wouldn't work. Sadly.

Is it spring yet? My ninja-fingers can't wait.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Real-People Sick

I’d meant to do a light and fun post this past Friday, breaking up the deeper thought-provoking posts from earlier in the week. But apparently, there was a different plan in place for me.

“Real person sick” was the new adventure to navigate.

The week after Thanksgiving, Suzi came down with a stomach bug. Our friendly primary care physician designated it as “The Flu.” Despite all the cautionary warnings to do the opposite, we haven’t had flu shots in a few years. No consequences. Apparently, this year was the hiccup when the flu came calling. She came down with it, and it lasted a few days before she was finally back and work and in good form again.

We thought I’d avoided it.

Last Thursday proved us wrong, and I got a “healthy” dose of being “real-person sick” in a way that was, for me, a first in several years. Not the respiratory kind of ill.

Anyhow, it wasn’t a pleasant day. A very busy and hectic work day was derailed and I also had cancel a much-anticipated JDRF Outreach meetings that morning. Wasn’t even able to work from home, as I’m typically able to do. Nope. Spent most of the day in bed, tossing and turning and eventually battling a fever that went up to 100.  The same routine mostly on Saturday, though I did improve as the day went on. Not eating anything made me weak, and even more restless.

Then there was essentially two days of not eating regular food, only grape Gatorade and regular 7up. Toast and soup the following day seemed to be OK, and some chicken and a biscuit on Sunday night about took me over the edge.

A fun ride, indeed.

But even as the “real-person sick” subsided, the diabetes front was having a ball causing chaos.

Not being able to keep any food down, Suzi threatened to drag me to the ER if it got to the point where I wasn't able to eat after two days. Being stubborn, I eventually made it happen and we avoided that scenario.

You’d think I’d be battling Lows, since it’s hard to stay High when you don’t have the energy or interest in eating anything. But no, the illness kept me elevated mostly through Friday and the weekend in the mid to high 200s, sometimes a tad higher. Even with “rage blousing” and increased basal, the numbers wouldn’t drop.

Through all of this, my Dexcom plugged along like a champ. When the sickness struck, that was day 21 of my first sensor. And it kept going all day, through Saturday, and even through Sunday pretty darn accurately. In the end, we lasted 23 days together until Sunday even when I VOLUNTARILY decided to remove the arm sensor for a “free” shower.

My pump site was another story. It was time to change my site on Friday, yet I just didn’t have the energy to do that over the weekend and on Saturday night I just disconnected completely. Went most of the day, and into Sunday afternoon, on only multiple daily injections of Humalog. At times, my sugars went into the 300s and I couldn’t tell whether the feeling in my gut was “d-related” or “real person sick” related.

Frustrating feeling, indeed.

Lessons:
  • You know you’re sick when you don’t feel well enough for Twitter updates.
  • Flu shots might still be a crap shoot, but they also might be justified.
  • Drinking grape Gatorade and regular 7up just doesn’t "feel right." Actually, it feels like I'm committing a crime.
  • The dog is very sad when I’m sick. The cat could care less, and seemed bothered that I was invading her "alone time."
  • My wife rules and takes excellent care of me.. and there’s just no way to express how awesome she is.
  • Even when you’re really sick, missing a day at work puts you behind. Immensely.
  • I’ve had no coffee or Diet Coke since Thursday… this is either really depressing, or the start of something important. To Be Determined.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Defined By Diabetes?

“Diabetes doesn’t define me.”

That phrase has been on my mind lately.

Does it, or doesn't it? And honestly, do I want it to define me or not?

I'm not sure.

Some people don’t like the use of “diabetic” in describing themselves or their Children With Diabetes because they feel it implies someone is defined by diabetes. So they go with Person With Diabetes instead. Others don’t talk openly about their diabetes or share stories, for the same reason of not allowing their condition to dictate their lives.

Two athletes come to mind specifically. They are about a decade apart in age, one in the late 20s and the other in the teenage years. Both in the same professional sport. Yet they differ on how they treat diabetes when it comes to their athletic experiences, for the sole reason of how it might be viewed and if they’ll be defined by it. One is a vocal advocate about diabetes and doesn’t hide that it’s a part of the athletic experience, and makes a specific point to say how diabetes doesn’t limit the ability to successfully participate. While the other doesn’t make it known, out of fear of being defined by diabetes and designated as someone who might not have won as a result of this condition.

I agree with one approach more than the other, but really it’s tough to fault the other perspective.

In my mind, I think there’s a fine line between being defined by diabetes and how it’s a part of your life.

It’s an interesting two-sided coin. On one hand, we work tirelessly to be “normal” and not be seen as the “diabetes person.” But then at the same time we so openly and honestly share our good and bad D-life experiences and highlight the fact that we are, in fact, Living With Diabetes. Can we have it both ways? Can we define ourselves as diabetes patient-advocates as part of a Diabetes Community, and not be “defined by diabetes”?

I think it depends on the context of how we’re being defined.

If diabetes defines me, then I want it to be on MY OWN TERMS.

No, I don’t want it to define me in ways that aren’t on my terms. Lost time because of Lows or Highs. Complications that steal aspects of my happiness. Opportunities or experiences denied or fine-tuned because of my health, rather than my qualifications or experience. Being treated differently.

But if and when I share details of my health, I want to be able to. I don’t want to be forced to hide or down-play my diabetes.

For more than two decades growing up with diabetes, my health wasn’t the focus of my life and I wasn’t very open about it. Diabetes didn’t dictate the direction of my life, at least at the conscious level, putting me into a D-related field or turn me away from one. Even though I wasn’t hiding it for the most part, I just didn’t wear it on my sleeve. Blood testing, insulin-taking, the D-life routine were still parts of my life. Obviously. But my D-Management wasn’t as much an open-focus as it is now, and because I wasn’t thinking and communicating about it all the time, it was almost less of a dominating force in my life.

These days, I openly write and share stories and am proud to be a member of the Diabetes Community. Communicating about diabetes is a regular part of my life now. But that doesn’t mean I allow diabetes to “define” me, as far as limiting non-diabetic world opportunities and experiences.

With such a diverse Diabetes Community, many people have different views on this specific issue. Some see that not talking about their diabetes at all is the way to go, to ensure that they aren’t “defined” by their diabetes. While others choose to share, and

It’s our own choice, in the end. How someone may or may not be defined by diabetes doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. As the mantra says, “Your Diabetes May Vary,” as does the way you make it a part of your life and share that with the rest of the world.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Don't Need the DOC

I've expressed my fondness and support for the Diabetes Online Community many times. This community is, to be all cliche-heavy, an inspirational and life-changing community full of amazing people.

But every once in a while, it serves us all well to step back and realize: Not everyone needs this DOC. They simply don't need or want what it offers, whether it be the personal connections or networking or world-changing advocacy. Those fellow Persons with Diabetes who do fine managing without the camaraderie displayed in the DOC.

And that's cool. Nothing wrong with that. Some say they don't have the same struggles that many of us do, or that they don't need to tell others about their lives with diabetes. They deal with the daily D-Life situations on their own terms, on their own, in their own way. Without having to discuss it or educate or advocate to others.

I used to be that way. For most of my life, actually. I didn't know I really needed the support until I found it, and now it's difficult to imagine life without these individuals who make up this amazing community. We share honestly and do what we can for ourselves and anyone else who might be reading. There's a personally fulfilling sense of importance that I see in that.

While it's important for us within this community to recognize the DOC isn't for everyone, I think it's also important for those non-DOC folk to recognize the significance these friendships and story-telling experiences have on us. One way isn't better - they're just different and we're all doing what we think is best for us.

No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes and can learn from others. I learn a lot from my friends, find little tips and tidbits that end up benefiting my life. But just the same, many things don't work for me and I have no interest in adopting as my own. It goes to the phrase, Your Diabetes May Vary. It's important to recognize and respect that mantra.

Belittling someone's views doesn't help anyone, and it certainly doesn't help make your point seem valid. It just clutters the community discussion with negativity. If someone doesn't support your views and ideas, that doesn't mean he or she is wrong. There's no need to belittle each other, to bring personal attacks into a discussion simply because we have an issue with another person's perspective. That's just not what this is all about.

Sadly, the lines can become very blurred when it comes to personal blogs. These are places that allow us to say what we feel, where we basically don't have to censor ourselves and can "say it like it is" without holding back... Honest and open communication that takes on a life of its own.

The power we have is being open, welcoming, and embracing of all views whether we agree or not. There's always the potential to criticize and be negative, voicing our opinions behind a computer screen. But hopefully we can rise above that, and respect the idea of a community whether we're a part of one or not.

After all, we all live on this same hunk of rock in the middle of space and breath the same air.