Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Yes, I'm that guy posting about politics the day after the election.

I realize that no one cares about this anymore, and that it's hardly what anyone wants to read a blog post about. But being who I am, this is more about chronicling my own thoughts and all that jazz. This is for me, not anyone else.

So, here goes.

Most of the people I voted for on Nov. 6, 2012 won their races, and I'm pleased with their wins.

Including the president.

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because I believed he wanted to bring a change to the political climate in this country. I agree with many of his policy decisions, but disagree on some. I see the U.S.A. moving forward, making progress, even though many of us aren't doing "as good" as we were five years ago.

This is a different world now, and it means everyone needs to reassess what "good" means and adjust their understanding and acceptance of what their standard of "normal" must be.

I voted for President Obama in 2012 because I think he is helping our country move forward, not only internally but globally. We didn't fall off the edge of a cliff as I think we would have unless something changed, and I see us moving away from that cliff as time moves on.

Here's to stepping further away and climbing out of the canyon we're still in.

Still, no matter who's in office and leading this country, there's no magic bullet. All the politicians are pretty far off from where they need to be. This is a mult-year marathon, not a few-year sprint.

And I don't think we'll get very far, even though our president has more time to nurture what he's put into action

That's because the divide is more pronounced than before. On one hand, that illustrates the beauty of a country where its people can disagree and discuss issues freely. But it also means the gridlock continues. No matter who's in power, the cloud of ineffectiveness and political divide doesn't go away.

Here's to hoping that some things can get done, and we can move forward as a country.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On Dogs and Golf...

Not long ago, my dad and I got together for a game of golf.

We had a swell time, and of course chatted about family and our beloved black lab, Riley.


Particularly, the Riley Dog's love for squirrels and her mission to capture them.

Somehow, this golfcourse conversation derailed into the pros and cons of having dogs out there on the golf course and how it'd be GREAT to teach them to carry our clubs... Or drive the cart for us.

And so, this came about...

Thanks to the very talented cartoonist Jerry King (who also does some great drawing over at DiabetesMine!), since he took some of his own time to draw up my imaginary golf course scenario for a favor... Much appreciated!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Seven Years Plus Our Newspaper

Us in May 2012 at JDRF Indiana Gala.
We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on Monday, Sept. 24, 2012.

The sentiment remains unchanged since I'd last posted on our anniversary, at the five-year mark.

But as I do every year, I sit back on this special day and re-read the newspaper I created to propose nearly a decade ago now (March 2003). This full eight-page broadsheet is the one I spent about three months creating back in late 2002 and early 2003, writing my own stories, editing and designing, selling ads to pay for the whole thing, and recruiting a roll of writers made up of family and friends. All of them keeping the upcoming marriage proposal a secret, of course!

I still remember staying out late at night, telling you they were late nights in my real paycheck-providing newsroom job when in fact they were spent at my old college newspaper stomping grounds putting this paper together.

It was tough, but it all paid off.

This year, I realized (once again) the full newspaper wasn't posted anywhere online. Sure, I have a couple dozen copies left over from the 1,000 created for that night and beyond. And every one of those eight pages has been framed for our home's hallway, to display to those who might want to look at them.

But they haven't been in the blogosphere or shared fully, except maybe a few snapshots shared between friends. Well, now that changes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Riley Reflections: Finding A Forever Home

Penned in August 2007, this story appeared in our county humane society's newsletter and was written about a month after we adopted Riley and brought her home. We've now been together for five years.

By Riley Hoskins

Sometimes, it’s funny how a newspaper can change your life. That’s how mine took a turn for the better, paving the way for a forever family and permanent home.

Just call me Riley. Everyone else does. In a way, the name almost reflects the uncertainty surrounding the first chapter in my life. Memories of my early days are fuzzy, but it’s tough to describe the little I remember as bad when it led me to where I am today.

They say I may have been abused as a puppy, but no one knows for sure. We don’t even know for sure when my real birthday is, though that V-E-T says I was about 1-year-old when brought home. All I know for certain is that the mysterious chapter of my life ended one fateful day when I stumbled into a Center Grove neighborhood at the tail end of 2006.

Back then, I was cold, lonely, and so scared that I didn’t even want to go around people – and everyone knows how much I love people! My typically shiny black coat was dirty, more gray than black, and I was tired and hungry and decided to take a break from wandering. There I was, standing in the road near a mailbox when she appeared. She was coming outside for her morning newspaper. Our eyes locked. Not trusting this stranger drawing close, I bolted. That didn’t stop her, and before long I learned her name was Nancy. She put a warm bed with some food on her porch for me and slowly I started going there for food and shelter.

After a while, Nancy took me in, cleaned me up, and gave me regular meals. Her grandson, who was 7 at the time, didn’t know what to call me or even if I was a boy or a girl. So he came up with Riley – because “that could be a name for a boy or a girl,” the story goes. I loved them, and the name suits me, but other pets demanded her attention and things unfortunately just didn’t work out. I’m grateful for Nancy and her husband, though, because she paved the way for me finding my forever family.

The next chapter began when Nancy took me to the Johnson County Humane Society. Soon came a foster dad – Josh. He was my go-between and took care of me for a few months. I liked it there, mostly because he had two other furry friends to play with. If I could play all day, I would be a happy dog. As much as I liked Josh’s house, it still wasn’t home. And all I wanted was a real home. Then it happened. Josh and I took a drive to the Golden Post Animal Kennel- a place I’d stayed before – for what I thought was a typical visit. But a new chapter was beginning, and for the first time, I was about to find my forever family.

Mommy and Daddy came into my life during that visit on June 25, 2007.

They tell me a story of how it was usually Mommy who’d be looking for a puppy or older dog to bring home; he wasn’t persuaded. I was different, they say.

Browsing through newspaper ads in print and online one day, he stumbled across my picture and biography – much as Nancy had discovered me on the way to her newspaper that one morning. There was a connection immediately, mostly because of my shiny black coat and big, brown puppy eyes. He forwarded my good looks on to Mommy, and within a week our fates were intertwined.

He had never had a dog before, though everyone in his family had and he spent his childhood wishing to no avail. Pictures at home show that she had a dog growing up who looked just like me -but I have to say that I’m much better looking! We went home later that week when Josh took me to their house, and I could tell right away that these two would be the ones I’d always be able to play with, comfort, love and cherish.

So here we are, living in Greenwood. In my first weeks, I’ve done more with them than I can remember doing before. Have traveled to Michigan twice - a camping trip and to visit family there. We have the big, one-acre Four Paws Dog Park within our neighborhood and go there a couple times a week to run and play with friends. While they don’t yet have a fence, I’m smart enough to know to stay inside the yard and not run off. I’ve been lost before, and don’t want to go there again. Aside from that, jumping, licking, and trying to get the silvery gray cat named Shadow to like me. That’s a work in progress.

Of course, like that day I first came across Nancy’s house, newspapers are still a part of my life. We have one delivered every morning. He likes to read it for the stories inside, but it’s more sentimental for me. A newspaper brought me home. Hopefully it will do the same for others who are in need of a Forever Home.

(Ghostwritten by Michael and Susanne Hoskins)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bartholomew Hoskins

You may remember my past post about the origins of my family history work started several years ago. This is a continuation of that, as part of my series publishing my past genealogy research and writing outside of the world.

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When I was tracking the name Hoskins through the generations, I had a solid line dating back to the early 1870s before there was any question. My 2nd great grandfather didn't actually ever talk about his own father, and so that's when it became unclear who was in our line from that point back. Birth, death and marriage records - along with land ownership and wills - helped connect the dots going back to 1790, when there was again uncertainty. I couldn't confirm that my ancestor apparently born that year was actually related to a line of Hoskins dating back to the Civil War days and possibly even to the pre-colonial days.

No documents seemed to exist, since the War of 1812 meant that any historical records from the areas I was searching had been long-lost... and my efforts to find any help in local areas where they were back then didn't offer any leads. It seemed I'd only be able to guess and assume...

Until a Bible page surfaced on a genealogical message board, confirming what I thought: that my family member from 1790 was indeed connected to a line of Hoskins going all the way back to 1600. The past research had all been done and confirmed by historical scholars, and all I was missing was a single generational gap that I now was able to close with a document.

This was probably the single biggest jolt of excitement I'd received during my entire family history project.

And that helped me finally be able to write this next part with confidence: I've got actual historical proof that connects me to past dozen generations in my family (!!!!)

So, without further ado...

Friday, August 10, 2012

At Least You Have Diabetes, and Not...

We all need a little perspective sometimes.

Mine came on the heels of a week of diabetes conference activity and advocacy talk, and it was a reality check that slapped me upside the head while screaming at me about how much bigger the world is than diabetes.

One phone call was enough to remind me that, in the grand scheme, diabetes isn't that big of a deal. Really. There are a whole lot of worse conditions and diagnoses that trump the "incurable but manageable" classification of diabetes any day of the week.

Especially those that carry the terminal disease tag.

I've been living with type 1 diabetes for most of my life, going on three decades. But I have no idea what kind of hell and devastation is involved in many other disease states such as Lou Gehrig's, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and more. No clue. Given that, I'm lucky to be living with an autoimmune condition that I can keep "under control" for the most part and not be stopped from living a successful, happy life.

On Sunday, I learned that my aunt received news that she may very well have Lou Gehrig's, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Basically, it's a devastating disease that is incredibly swift and efficient at what it does: attack a person's peripheral nerves, weaken muscles and eventually cut off the ability to move and breathe. And then death. All within a span of years that, generally speaking, you can count on one hand. Estimates are that about about 5,000 are diagnosed yearly, and 30,000 people have it at any given time. Do the math to determine how efficient a killer ALS truly is.

So, needless to say, this wasn't the kind of news you want to hear. This is my dad's sister, and we have a smallish family so we're all close and that makes this even more difficult. Not to mention the fact that she lost her 15-year old son, my cousin, suddenly and without warning to a form of leukemia a decade ago. Now this.

The prognosis is generally anywhere between two and five years to live, though some can last longer. And ALS is a degenerative disease, eating away at your body and essentially making you a prisoner trapped inside an immobile body while you remain fully cognizant and aware of everything happening to you and around you.

Makes a few fingersticks and syringe stabs every day seem a small price to pay for a "normal" life where you can achieve dreams and accomplish anything, doesn't it?!

I think so.

A friend was telling me recently about one of his close family members battling Alzheimer's, and that caused these same feelings to bubble up inside me — even before getting my own family news. This friend's family member has lived a life of brilliance, but now there are times when she drifts in and out of lucidity and can't remember conversations that just happened or even details about where she lives. It's heart-breaking, not only for her in realizing this is happening, but for family and friends who must endure the torture of watching someone so loved slip away.

To me, confronting these "other conditions" brings a level of perspective that so often we forget in this world. Suddenly, much of the online diabetes chat seemed trivial in my eyes. So insignificant: all the talk about summits and friendships, how educators do their jobs, blood meter marketing, tighter accuracy standards, fighting for affordable supplies, busting myths about what we can or can't eat, and whether some newspaper wrote a good or bad story...

While important in the D-Community, this stuff seemed almost laughable to even be thinking about in light of this ALS news that is unquestionably so much "worse." And believe me — I hate comparing or thinking of any condition as worse than another. No one asks for any of this and it all sucks. But there's a reality check in there somewhere. Honestly, even worrying about hypo-caused deaths in the middle of the night — something I dread with all my heart — seems unimportant right now, because they are actually quite rare and in most cases, the victims were at least able live healthily and happily before that low hit. They didn't have to endure the slow, torturous decomposition of their own bodies.

And here's the thing: I feel guilty about feeling this way, as if I'm slapping my fellow PWDs and D-Parents in the face. But it's what is going through my mind as I cope with this news. I feel guilty about ever complaining about diabetes or looking at it as some great burden. That guilt grips me when thinking back on all those people who've said to me, "Well, at least you have diabetes and not... (insert 'something worse' condition here)."

Now, I feel like I truly know what that line means. And it feels true.

Hell, I'm living with diabetes. Not dying or slowing rotting away as a result of ALS or some other devastating condition.

How dare I ever think I've got it bad, when there's all this other stuff happening out in the world?

After the emotional phone call and some personal processing of this news, I broke down and sobbed my eyes out. Bitterness and anger set in. I prayed and read my Bible, finding myself not comforted but instead asking "Why?" before even more bitterness, anger and tears set in.

And then.... Curiosity.

I realized that for all the diabetes living and advocacy I embrace, there's very little knowledge about Lou Gehrig's floating around in my head. Really, aside from a general sense of what the disease is, the main fact that came to my mind was the 1930s baseball player whom the disease is named after. I remember the speech where Lou Gehrig described himself as the "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth."

So of course, I turned to Google. To blogs. Community forums online. Any insight that friends on Twitter might have. I'm hunting for basically what I've found in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC)... Searching for not only knowledge, but stories of hope and inspiration... For me and my family.

There's not a lot to be found.

Specifically, it's tough to remain hopeful and tear-free when reading an incredible piece of journalism that ends with this line from an ALS patient: "While my mind n emotions r completely intact. Knowing full well the end result. And the road I'll be forced to walk. Becoming a prisoner in my own body. Watching my world fly by. Remembering how life used to be. Missing so much of life."

But, even in the darkness of all this heartache, there is some optimism and inspiration.

One of the best resources I've found is PatientsLikeMe, which was one of the first patient community sites and now going strong with 100,000 members that span 1,200 conditions. A Massachusetts-based family founded this site because one of their sons was diagnosed with ALS. It's not only a community to connect people, but also a repository for patients to share their clinical data (similar to what the Helmsley Charitable Trust is now doing with the Type 1 D Exchange and for diabetes). There's a multiple of other ALS communities and forums I'm finding, too.

Sure, there's no cure at this time. But research continues and treatments are being explored. And in this foreign world where I have little frame of reference, there's a familiar air of advocacy that exists on issues so much bigger than myself, or my family.

The FDA is examining clinical trials and mulling whether to expand ALS studies to more places where research could continue. Stem cells provide a bright hope for answers, despite the fact that politics are slowing the discovery process down. People sharing their ALS stories online echo a similar message to many in the DOC — that they felt alone, hopeless, and wanted inspiration and a sense of community rather than just the gloom and doom mostly portrayed in the press and by doctors.

All of this has touched my advocate's soul, transcending the diabetes universe to countless other lives.

That is what my energy will focus on now. Finding that inspiration for my aunt for as long as she's with us, and then tuning my advocacy on these issues to the broader chronic illness community.

Now, please understand: This isn't a pity party. That's not what I'm after in telling this story. I simply needed to share what I'm feeling and how many of the things I dubbed "important" in my own world seemed to lose luster after getting this news... Maybe it's part of some bigger plan, whether I like it or not.

I'm "lucky" to be living with diabetes. Not only because "it could be so much worse," but because it gives me some insight into the issues and conversations that can hopefully help a broader world of people suffering from all varieties of compromised health. I can only hope.

UPDATE: My aunt, Deborah Lynn Keeter, passed away on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 due to pneumonia caused by ALS. This came 7+ years after her official diagnosis. Donations can be made to the ALS Association of Michigan.

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This personal post that I wrote originally appeared at DiabetesMine on Aug. 10, 2012.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hoping for an Endo Who "Gets It"

Sometimes, I just want to scream at my endocrinologist.

I'm not a textbook diabetic!

Don't say I am "uncontrolled"... I'm living with diabetes every day!

No, I DON'T know why that number from three weeks ago was 400...!

I'm not checking my blood sugars as much because I'm burnt out, and it's not like I can just flip a switc h to make myself feel better!

The Diabetes Online Community understands... why can't you?!

You just don't get it, doc!

Some variation of these pretty much come to mind every time I visit my endo, which is typically every few months.

Ever feel that way?

You might say my endo and I have a rocky relationship. We don't see eye-to-eye on everything, but she knows her stuff and is highly qualified to do what she does. And she helps me when I need it. Yet I am still frustrated... obviously.

I've been with this endo for more than five years now, after discovering her within a 10-minute drive from my house a couple years after moving to Indianapolis. That first year, I didn't see the need to find an endo and went without one, just getting all my prescriptions from my primary care physician. The first endo I found was just 10 minutes from my then-workplace, but he was a complete "yes man" lacking the ability to be aggressive in helping me with my D-care, I thought. He simply agreed with everything I said, even telling me all was fine when I clearly wasn't doing what was needed!

So, in finding Dr. P — a highly-coveted and respected endo in this area — I had found someone "better," a doctor who at the time I felt was "good enough" for me. There's a lot that I like about her: the fact that she allows for e-logging of BGs and doesn't charge for in-office pump and CGM downloading, she can fine-tune a basal dose or bolus calculation like no other I've seen when she has the full picture, and her reputation in this field is stellar and tough to compete with. Oh, and despite how effective or ineffective the office visits are, we typically have about 17 minutes or more to talk.

These positives are tough to ignore, and they're a large part of why I've stuck with her for half a decade.

But, for some time now, I've been feeling that I wanted more — and I'm not sure that "more" is something she can provide.

Put simply: she isn't living with diabetes and that is what I've been searching for in an endo. I've wished for someone who is a fellow PWD, who "gets it" and doesn't seem like they're trying to fit me into medical textbook definitions.

As good as she may be medically, my endo doesn't seem to embrace the concept of online peer support that I find so beneficial for PWDs on the "emotional side" of D-management. While she doesn't dismiss it altogether, whenever I raise the topic and talk up the benefits I've found in the DOC and how this community has helped me, she just nods and smiles... before going back to focusing on the numbers in front of me and wondering how she can get me to "do better."

To me, it feels like most the time we're just trying to do the Endo Song & Dance with a metaphoric chasm between us.

More and more often in the past two years, I've found myself craving that understanding of a fellow PWD. This feeling came to light powerfully after a good friend and fellow D-blogger who's also living with type 1 shared the story of how his awesome new doc actually read his blog and helped him feel better about his D-management.

That made me want an improved patient-doctor PWD-connection more than ever...

One person in particular was on my mind, but being confined to an office job and with him being a good 30-minutes away from my home and office, it just seemed too "inconvenient" when I had a decent doc nearby. The time just never seemed right. My motivation wasn't there to seek out that change.

Until recently.

At the ADA Scientific Sessions back in June, it all started coming together at an evening event where I was meandering around chatting with friends, awesome advocates and industry leaders.

Suddenly, a familiar face appeared in front of me — that of a fellow diabetes advocate in Indy, who I serve on a local D-Camp board with and who works as a diabetes nurse and educator in my town. We greeted and I quickly learned that her husband was across the room.

Why does that matter?

Well, this man is a coveted endo here in Indy who happens to be a fellow PWD, living with type 1 himself since being diagnosed at age 12!

I'd come across his name a handful of times through the years and thought about reaching out to see if he was accepting new patients, but just never took the time to do that.

But now, this Philadelphia meetup set the stage. After returning home, I reached out and got some great news: Despite the front office line of "not accepting new patients," he's willing to welcome me in as a new patient!!

I'm beyond excited about this, though there's a little regret that I didn't take the initiative to make this happen sooner!

Now, since we're talking about my future endo and I've not discussed any of this with him yet, and because I don't really see the need to ID him by real name, I'm simply going to refer to him as Dr. Understanding.

Because, you know, he "gets it."

Obviously, this isn't going to solve all my issues and make me "the perfect" PWD.

Having a fellow diabetic as an endo isn't a magic potion that will lower my A1C or give me the ability to do everything right. No, I get that.

Most of my D-headaches and "uncontrolled" aspects come down to my own lack of discipline and willingness to do what's necessary. My A1C isn't as low as it once was (I got it down to 6.1% a decade ago and have hovered in the 7% range for years before slacking). And sometimes I don't test or change my infusion sets often enough, or I fail on counting my carbs, because I just don't care at that moment in time.

As my current endo and also my D-therapist Mind Ninja has told me: "It's you, not the doctor or device." Yes, I get that. There's validity in saying that we patients need to see the situation from our endo's perspective sometimes, and not just the other way around.

But the potential for understanding in having an endo with diabetes is strong, and I think that maybe we can get past some of the frustrations that come with us not looking at diabetes from the same perspective.

We can bridge the gap, so to speak.

What I need is someone who not only knows their textbook stuff, but someone who can be aggressive while also offering a high level of understanding for what my life with this disease is really like. I need recognition of the real struggles of I'm going through, that it's not all about numbers. I need peer support, especially the kind of thing you find in the DOC. That's an incredible resource that more folks in the medical community should embrace to help their patients!

That's what I'm searching for. Maybe this new guy won't be "the one," or some cons may outweigh the pros at the end of the day... Who knows? We may not be the right fit. But least I'll give it a shot (ha!) This just seems like the right time to take this leap and try something new... We'll see.

Now I have to break the news to Dr. P. And get my medical records transferred. And take care of some long overdue lab work. And set up that first appointment. See? The change is forcing me to be proactive already.

I can't wait for a fresh start. I will let you all know how it goes! Please let me know any experiences you may have had with your endo about "getting it," and if you've ever had the desire or opportunity to have a fellow PWD in that role.

What do you look for when searching for a new doc? We'd love to hear about it

Saturday, July 14, 2012

On Being Busy

This isn't my writing and I take no credit for it. Rather, the following highlights come from Tim Kreider who pens an online column for the New York Times, and most recently wrote one called "The 'Busy' Trap".

His writing captured EXACTLY how I feel, and it's worth sharing and recognizing in our own lives - Every. Single Day.

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"If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are.

Almost everyone I know is busy.

The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it.

I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy."

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Of course, this writing also makes me reflect on the Simple Beauties in this world and those Magic Moments, which I've written about before. Hopefully, we can all find them as much as possible.

 Props to Kerri Sparling for posting a link to this column on her Facebook page and alerting me to its awesomeness.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Rant About Human Decency

Sitting at a restaurant the other night, I overheard a conversation between two men who were obviously not happy with the healthcare law or the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

They talked for a good while on this, and I didn't interject. I just sat there listening, drinking my beer and eating my penne pasta while observing the after-work discussion between these two average guys.

One made the point: "We're all human beings, and I feel bad that everyone doesn't have insurance. They should. But it's not MY responsibility to pay for them."

This comment made me cringe.

To me, that illustrates the disconnect we have as a people on this topic. We claim to be wanting what's right for our fellow human beings, but we're too selfish to pay for it. To recognize that we ALL have the duty, as fellow people, to help each other out.

At the foundation, this isn't about taxes or politics or whether one person is lazy or not and deserves to have "free" healthcare... This is about doing what's right for another human being.

A friend from Australia was visiting recently and we started talking about all this. They have universal coverage in that country. I asked whether there's any minority view or dissent, people who don't think that's what Australia should have and it should be changed. He said no, there isn't. It's not a political discussion; never has been. People just understand that it's about more than you or me, it's about all of us being healthy and helping out society in whatever way we're supposed to.

Now, I love being a resident of the United States of America. For all the jazz everyone will ever use as a reason. But we have our faults, and this debate is one of the key ones - in my honest opinion.

Too often, we can't see past our arrogance of personal freedom, and at the end of the day it too often trumps basic human decency.
I hear this regularly: Why should I have to give away my hard-earned money to someone who doesn't work?

My answer: Because it's the right thing to do. Because this country, this world, hell any community, is bigger than one person. It's about all of us. Suck it up and recognize that. And no, it's not good enough that you occasionally donate to a charity or buy someone dinner or give money at church each week.

Be a fucking human being first, before an American or a political party member or whatever other reason there may be for not doing it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Simon Visits from Australia (Simpalooza - Indy 2012)

Not so long ago, I would've cringed at the idea of getting together and hanging out socially with other people with diabetes (PWDs). Seriously. Why would anyone want to wear diabetes on their sleeve or get together because of diabetes? Especially when you have to live with it every day.

But now, I crave these connections — the chance to meet up with friends, where diabetes may come up in conversation but it doesn't have to... And when it does, you know the others at the table understand. You know the sharing is all in fun and there won't be any judgment or "textbook" advice coming your way. It's a place where pumps and CGMs beep (not only yours!), and blood meters and questions about carb counts aren't outside the norm but rather the "cool thing" because everyone else has those topics on their minds, too.

That's the beauty of a D-Meetup. And it's a key connecting thread of the Diabetes Online Community, which offers lots in-person D-Meetups these days!

In that spirit, I'm incredibly proud to see a friend's international travels be based on those connections in the DOC: Simon Boots, who's touched my life and become a great friend. His story — much like so many others in the online community — is rippling out across virtual boundaries and spilling into real life, and now he's making waves by inspiring a group of fellow PWDs in Australia to build up and strengthen their country's DOC identity!

Simon stayed at our house for his June 2012 visit!

Simon came to the USA for the first time ever in October 2011, for a three-city trip dubbed "Simonpalooza." He's a fellow PWD living in Adelaide, Australia diagnosed with latent autoimmune diabetes (LADA) at age 33 (about seven years after being misdiagnosed type 2), and his visits to the U.S. are the basis for his renewed advocacy push in that country.

Simon came through Indianapolis to spend a weekend recently, one brief stop on his second visit to the U.S. in less than a year. We first had the chance to meetup in person last October at the Kansas City leg of Simonpalooza. Since then, we've kept in touch regularly by letter, Skype and the DOC and become close friends. He was returning to the U.S. for the Children With Diabetes Friends for Life conference in Orlando in early July, and when I couldn't make it, he decided to swing through Indy for a weekend in mid-June.

Taking the Online Offline

You might say Simon's latest trip was the DOC version of the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." His flight was delayed for 8 hours out of New York, and Simon had to make his way to an Ohio airport by hitching a three-hour car ride to the Indy area from fellow stranded air travelers. I drove about an hour from my home at 4 a.m. on a Saturday to pick him up at a Meijer gas station. Yep, he was the only Australian guy standing in a dark gas station parking lot with a suitcase.

And the fun began... venturing around Indy to see the sights, chatting about everything from healthcare and careers to politics and sports in my living room, playing with the Riley dog who quickly warmed up to Simon, visiting a local farmer's market and BBQ in the county square, and just laughing. Not to mention the Diet Coke drinking! There was even a spare (plush) pancreas sitting around, and Simon got to experience an American breakfast biscuit and visit the Waffle House for the first time! It was so much better than hanging out online, via Twitter or Skype. Just being in the same room and experiencing that friendship in real life...

We then got together with a group of about 10 others, with 70% of us being PWDs who traveled from the Indy area, Northern Indiana, and even Chicago to see Simon.

There was food and fun, blood meters and CGM brandishing and diabetes device alarms. And Simon got some gifts — including a WANTED poster that we made up because of his love for tweeting musical lyrics. And our 'Mine cartoonist Mike Durbin was there, presenting one of his DOC-logo shirts that we all got to sign for Simon.

In all, it was a great time with many memories made and tangible gifts exchanged for Simon to take back to Australia, where an even bigger adventure was waiting!

The Road to Australia

Tangible evidence of this U.S.-DOC experience is beginning to surface in Australia.

After hearing all about Simon's October 2011 visit to the U.S. via Twitter and the blogosphere, a woman named Renza Scibilia was inspired a to create a D-Meetup of her own. A type 1 diagnosed as an adult in 1998, Renza last Fall was just starting to use Twitter and discover diabetes blogs, and she found that everyone welcomed her with wide, open arms.

"I could see why Simon was so determined to get to the States and meet (and thank) in person the people who had helped him so much in cyberspace."

Renza soon attended a few DOC meetups herself — including the International Diabetes Federation's World Diabetes Congress in Dubai in December and during her own visit to the U.S. in December and January. She saw the warm welcoming as something she wanted to help recreate in her region of south Australia.

There, she says, "the online community isn't strong" — despite the number of diabetes blogs increasing almost weekly and more Aussies participating in the weekly #dsma twitter chats.

Stats from the Australian Health and Welfare Institute collected say that about 900,000 people are living with diabetes there, based on the most recent National Health Survey data from five years ago. The survey says about 10% have type 1, while about 87% have type 2. There's only a smattering of diabetes blogs online and a few diabetes-focused forums, and Simon says he's been able to connect with a limited number of people who volunteer their time helping educate fellow PWDs. On the cross-border site TuDiabetes, out of 24,500+ members, the Australian online community has about 385 members compared to the 17,000+ active from the U.S. The most active regions in D-advocacy in Australia are the south and eastern parts of the country in Melbourne, Queensland and Sydney areas, according to Renza and others.

"More and more people are showing an interest in online support, so having Simon here to share his story is important to us," Renza said. "Unfortunately online support is still regarded with some suspicion by health professionals here. Simon's story is so powerful that I hope it may help to change some of the misconceptions about online peer support."

Falling on the heels of Simon's visit to the U.S. and FFL, he went back just in time for National Diabetes Week in Australia July 9-13.  The main Aussie DOC group there had a meetup, too, with about 10 PWDs meeting to talk about what they can offer to others seeking connections. Most hadn't met before, but it wasn't at all awkward — an evening of laughter and fun, they report!

Renza is writing more about the Australian experience of the DOC and Simon's global travels at the Diabetes Australia - Vic community site, where she works. It's the leading online community and charitable organization for those with diabetes in Victoria, Australia, and apparently the only organization providing any support for type 1s there. That also led to the new DOC DSMA'ing group that uses the hashtag #OzDOC. Simon's also hoping that he can help start an Adelaide branch of the diabetes support network that is currently based in Melbourne, in hopes that he can help build some local D-support for type 1s closer to his own home. That's needed in other parts of the country, Simon says.

"There's not the same kind of community here as exists in the U.S., where it's so easy to find blogs and people online," Simon said. "But it's so needed, and the thought is if we build it, people will come. This is a big dream and we have big plans at the moment."

From this side of the ocean, it's amazing to see the international ripple effects of the DOC experience. All of these D-Meetups in the DOC are awesome to hear about, and we can't wait to see what becomes of the DOC in Australia!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Other Parts of Me - Family History

A couple years before re-focusing my personal blog on diabetes, and at a time when the Diabetes Online Community was not yet a prevalent force in my life, the history buff in me bubbled to the surface.

Family history, specifically.

It started with some holiday conversations with my in-laws in 2007, and a fascinating discussion (over coffee, of course!) about their lines beginning in northern Michigan and how my mother-in-law found some historic Civil War papers on an ancestor.

That got me hooked. I soon began my own examination into the Hoskins family tree. A subscription to Ancestry and some travels between Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky took me to parts of my world that I'd never known before. I got a look at where I truly come from, and it was pretty exciting.

A visit to Kentucky was probably the most exciting, where my dad and I stumbled around cemeteries search for grave markers but found an actual Hoskins Road on land once owned by our ancestors back in the mid-1800s(!)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Magic Moments

You know, we all need a break sometimes.

A moment when we step away from "business as usual" and just appreciate life.

Treadmills, traffic, board rooms and conference calls... we have to let them all drift away.

Instead, we must learn again to appreciate the simple beauties.

Sunrises, sunsets, smiles and sitting around leisurely. Loving those Moments of Wonderful, as a friend of mine might call them.

So, as we enter into a busy summer season after an already-busy month of May, I hope you find those magic moments that bring out the best this world can offer and let you relax a little. In whatever ways you might need at the time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Diabetes Hero

On this final day of Diabetes Blog Week 2012 (boo, so sad!), we're ending the week on a high note by blogging about our "Diabetes Hero."

As Karen suggests: "It can be anyone you'd like to recognize or admire, someone you know personally or not, someone with diabetes or maybe a Type 3. It might be a fabulous endo or CDE. It could be a D-celebrity or role model. It could be another DOC member. It's up to you — who is your Diabetes Hero?"

Well, I wasn't sure what to write here. My mind wandered...

It might depend on whether we're talking Avenger-like heroes, who save the planet and have cool gadgets to fight crime (do pumps, meters or awesome suits like Caleb envisions count?). Or whether we're talking more sentimental "role models" who we look up to for the life lessons they've taught us?

Maybe it depends on the definition of a hero.

Merriam-Webster gives us some food for thought: a mythical or legendary figure with great strength or ability, an illustrious warrior, someone admired for achievements and qualities, or someone who shows great courage.

So, with all of that in mind, one D-Hero comes to mind: my mom.

And no, I'm not just mentioning her in a belated attempt to score points a week after Mother's Day. (Love you, Mom!).

Rather, I'm mentioning her because I admire what she's accomplished in her own D-life, as someone diagnosed at age 5 and reaching the level of a 50-year Joslin Medalist. Someone who lived through the days now known as the "dark ages" of diabetes, fought for herself and then endured the experience of her only son being diagnosed at the same young age in 1984.

My mom has saved my life, countless times. Maybe not in the same way that Ironman or Superman may have saved someone from an evil villain, but by making sure I woke up and didn't die in bed because of a low blood sugar.

I think of her gratefully for trying to teach me, without being too strict or pushy, about the mistakes she'd made as a teen and young adult. For teaching me to stand on my own two feet and fight for myself and others, because sometimes the world doesn't understand diabetes and we PWDs become the target of that lack of understanding or straight-up misinformation. (As a person with diabetes I'm always talking to non-D people who often don't "get it.")

The experience of not only conquering your own D-life, but standing out as a superhero in your D-child's life is something beyond admirable. It's downright inspiring to me. And what about my own dad, who's not only been an awesome parent but someone who's had to take on the dual-role of a type 3 for both me and my mom? All I can say to that man is: bravo!You're a hero in your own right.

OK, now I'm all emotional about this post. Seriously, I'm tempted to stand up from my computer right now and just give a standing ovation to every single superhero mom and dad who does what is necessary for their child with diabetes. You all rock, and I can't think or speak highly of you enough!

But to my mom specifically: I love you. Thanks for not only taking the steps to help me learn and become the man I am today, but for being an inspiration to so many others who need to see that it is possible to have a successful life with diabetes for 50+ years. You are inspiring a whole new generation of "heroes," just by being who you are and sharing your story.

You're my hero, mom.

OK, sappiness aside. It's time to sign off because my bat signal... er, Dexcom CGM, is going off. Apparently, someone (read: me) is in danger of going low and needs help. Too bad I'm a little too old now to yell for my mom. Time to make use of my own utility belt, learning what I have from the heroes who've taught me how to conquer my own D-life.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This post written by Mike Hoskins was originally published at DiabetesMine on May 20, 2012.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Intersecting Roads in Journalism

As far back as I can remember, writing has been something I've loved doing.

I'm told it's been a passion of mine from the earliest grades in school, and I remember writing my first Batman-style story, "The Diamond Men," back in 3rd grade. That creative writing evolved into poetry and longer story writing as the years went on, before eventually taking a real world spin into journalism in middle school. That became my life, my passion, my career goal - and since graduating from college more than a decade ago I've been blessed to to be able to live my dream.

Of course, diabetes has been a part of my life that whole time, too. Diagnosed with type 1 at age 5, just before kindergarten in March 1984. My writing through the various stages of my life has coincided with - and sometimes been fueled by - these adventures of Living With Diabetes.

But I never wanted diabetes to spill into my job. Why would I, when I live with it all the time? The two roads were separate and running parallel. Some people went into specific jobs or careers because of their diabetes, but that wasn't something that interested me. Sure, I occasionally wrote about diabetes in handwritten notepads and journals, word processing programs, and eventually  online forums and listservers. But that was just for me, on my own spare time. To vent and cope.

My career focus was journalism, and that passion to share stories and empower people with knowledge took me from newspapers in Southeast Michigan to Indianapolis where I worked as a reporter for a six-day county newspaper covering everything under the sun. Eventually, to a statewide legal newspaper published twice a month where I talked to lawyers and judges all day. Along the way, I managed to propose in a newspaper guy's fashion - by creating an eight-page broadsheet newspaper that asked the all-important "Will you marry me?" question on the front page.

Newspapering was my calling, and I loved doing that for traditional newspapers - (I would've loved the post-Watergate Era journalism in the 70s, had I been around). Diabetes was just along for the ride and wasn't guiding my decisions, except for the fact that I really needed my job to provide those necessary insurance benefits. But other that that, The D didn't define me.

Then, something started to change.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Beat Goes On

Not too long ago, I was driving somewhere.

Don't ask me to remember where, because I don't recall the route or what Point A or B might have been. All I know is that at the time, it was a bright sunshiny day and I had an urge to hear some Tom Petty.

Fortunately, I'm a Petty fan and have several CDs with me in my vehicle. So I put one in the player to crank up.

Clip Art Source.
Sadly, the CD player at that moment decided to eat my music and wouldn't play. And I couldn't switch to other Petty CDs, or even eject them to try again. Pretty much, I was SOL.

That door to listening to Tom Petty at that moment in my drive appeared to be closed.

I wasn't happy.

Then, something profound happened. Well, maybe it wasn't that profound... but it certainly felt that way at the time, and given all the other stuff happening in my life.

Switching to FM and a classic rock station, I came across the introductory notes of the very song I had been hoping to hear first - Free Fallin' by Tom Petty.

This made me smile, but it also made my mind do some cartwheels and a couple prayers of gratitude escaped my lips.

When one door closes, another opens.

And at this point in my life when there's so much change happening, that message - even brought to me in the form of Tom Petty's tunes - made all the difference.

Once again, I found myself driving out Into the Great Wide Open and just Learning To Fly on this crazy road of life.

The beat goes on. Even when it doesn't seem like it will. You just have to have a little faith.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Necessary Coverage

Insurance coverage is always an "interesting" topic for those of us living with diabetes.

Or more to the point: the struggle to get what appears like logical coverage is always a tug of war that too often seems to leave one side face down in the mud pit.

We have to fight the fight, pretty much every time we need some of the necessary medical supplies and life-sustaining medications in our D-Lives. So, just thinking about using a new D-device, especially one that's just recently-approved by the FDA and hot of the presses, can be a tad bit daunting and stress-inducing.

That's what came to my mind when the recent topic of the mySentry came up at the Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum and everyone was talking about how insurers might want or not want to cover this new device given FDA-approval in January. Especially since it might not necessarily be seen as "medically necessary" at this early stage.

In many situations, it seems as though people might simply choose not to pursue these D-devices or supplies simply because of the expected resistance in trying to get coverage (assuming we have it). So with this new device, people might just choose to wait or not even ask for coverage.

But an interesting aspect of this discussion opened my eyes about the path to insurance coverage for these new devices. We heard how simple requests for coverage, even if we're denied, go a long way and set the stage for how insurance companies view the need to provide coverage for these devices and supplies. Insurers don't see much credibility in the Pharma or medical device companies telling them that their products should be covered. The response is basically, "Well, of course you want YOUR products covered!"

But when it comes from us, on the patient-end, the insurers see that need demonstrated in actual numbers that show there is a need for coverage. The more we ask, the more they'll see "hard data."

This is similar to the CGM Anti-Denial Campaign that Gina Capone created and led, and the Medtronic executives watching this issue on mySentry believe coverage will gradually expand in much the same way. At least two insurers are already covering (Ohio State Health Plan and AvMed Health Plan in Florida), and there's scattered reports on Children With Diabetes forums and in other places online that show other companies are at least offering some coverage.

The bottom line is that even if there's a basic desire to get coverage for one of these devices or supplies, we should go for it. Even getting "denied" by insurers means that we're putting a piece of the puzzle in place and showing the need for coverage.

Disclosure: As detailed in this recent post, I've been given the chance to trial test the mySentry and I'm going to embrace that offer and write about my experiences, whatever they may be. But whatever is decided and however this test-run plays out, it doesn't change the fact that we need to advocate for coverage. This goes beyond any one individual person or small group of people; it's about the larger D-Community and insurance coverage for not only for this device but for all devices and supplies that so many of us need.

So, let's get to it. Time to advocate for what we need.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rage-Bolusing Cause & Effect

Diabetes can be annoying.

This past weekend was a great example of the said annoyance.

My meter greeted me with a "Hi" reading on Sunday evening, following a full day where I'd been higher and unable to go below 250 mg/dL or so. That "Hi" message came up, and I felt like it was greeting me with a mocking, taunt-tainted laugh. I glared at my meter, wanting to throw it. But didn't, because really I knew my carb count slacking and pump set fussiness that day were the likely culprits that I could've taken care of much earlier.

Oh, well.

A post-dinner hour correction of 16 units followed that High, but it only brought me down to about 488 mg/dL a few hours later. A new pump set was in order not long after midnight. A little rage-bolusing was also on tap, and of course I decided to stay up late thanks to the higher BG symptoms and restless that comes along with them for me. Some late-night TV watching, water drinking and d-blog writing helped pass the time.

By 3 a.m., I was only down to 380 mg/dL.

I stayed up, still unable to sleep. So I tuned in to a SyFy showing of the 2009 remake My Bloody Valentine and drank some more water plus a cup of English breakfast tea. A showing of Saw followed that. And also some more D-blog reading to pass the time. The Riley Dog and I also played some rope tug.

By 4 a.m., it was at 313.

A 7-unit correction (rage bolus x 2) tempted me, and I gave in. JUST. WANTED. TO. GET BACK. TO. THE. 100s. N-O-W.

You know where this story is going, don't you...?! I'm sure you do.

Getting to 6 a.m., I dropped Low - something I knew would likely happen, thanks to the earlier rage-boluses that my pump told me to indulge in and I didn't resist. Because I just wanted those "good numbers" again.


Breakfast time had arrived, and so it was the perfect time for some apple juice and Greek yogurt.

And all was well.

Just another day of Living With Diabetes, riding the glucoaster of Highs and Lows and everything in between.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Expo Awesomeness

Attending my first-ever American Diabetes Association Expo in Chicago recently was a great experience, not only for the event itself but because of the great opportunity it presented for a D-Meetup with friends from the online community and others in the D-world for the first time.

We traveled from Indianapolis to Chicago by bus, the 30 of us ranging from ADA volunteers, to parents of children with diabetes and adults living with all types.

From the online community: Aside from myself, there Mike Durbin and his girlfriend who are from northern Indiana, and Jeff Neitzel from Central Indiana.

Once in Chicago, we had the privilege of meeting up for the first time with Marie and Missy who live in that area. A couple others who live in the area were unfortunately unable to make it, but we carried their spirit with us. Plus we met an array of new friends in the Diabetes Community, from parents to people living with all types of diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Being my first time at one of these expos, I was mildly impressed. There were cooking demos with "healthy" food, exercise routines, medical screenings and every possible type of information about diabetes you could ever care to find. Plus dozens of vendor booths, offering free products and masses of propaganda brochures and pamphlets about their newest wonders in diabetes-friendly products. I was intrigued to get the low-down on a cool new OneTouch lancet device that I didn't know existed, and also got to actually hold the new Tandem t:slim insulin pump in my hands and learn a little about it firsthand. And I came home with a bag full of materials and items.

Overall, a fine experience: but it was really the people that made it what it was, not necessarily the information or items at the Expo. These events are largely focused on type 2, just because of the simple nutrition label displays and "what is diabetes?" information and screening that gobbles up the most space and attention. The Diabetes 101 nature of these events can be boring... sometimes, I actually prefer the medical conferences where it's more "insider-baseball" that gets at a different intellectual or experience level.

But, being around these friends and professionals and some of the cool experiences of meeting new people made it completely and awesome day. Plus, it was cool meeting a new D-mom from Central Indiana who have a 14-year old son diagnosed at age 5. We talked quite a bit on the bus and especially about the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana D-Camp, and I enjoyed those conversations and being able to make a new connection.

So, final verdict: the people made the day worthwhile. And here's the photo evidence:

(Oh, and check out the BLUE and a certain blue circle pin being worn in this photo!!!)

April, Me, Marie, Mike Durbin, Jeff

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Reaching the Unreachable

A theme discussed for the past couple years in the Diabetes Online Community has been how to take the "online" aspect of this offline, into our real life communities where we can reach those who aren't connected.

But even more than that, it's about reaching those who aren't connected by things many of us take for granted: Internet access, health insurance, organizational and individual support, or medicine and health care accessibility that many of us take for granted. Many efforts have been happening on that front over time, yet it continues to be an area we must continue working on because so many people out there need to find what they don't have.

We must do better, individually and collectively.

At the recent Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum, this was a topic that came up a handful of times. One conversation focused on how the Diabetes Online Community, can reach out and connect with those people who don't have access to these support resources. Ideas: get into nursing homes, doctors offices, church communities where so many patients aren't getting training or support and where we can help them find those fellow PWDs. In large part, many endos and CDEs - and even patients themselves - don't realize there's a need because they've never been told or thought much about the health impact these interactions and relationships can have.

Just knowing someone "like them" and being able to share their own stories, experiences, successes and failures and frustrations.

That aspect of going offline to bring more online or just reach them in general is an important topic, one that makes me smile because many of people in our community are already working hard on improving this and making sure it happens more often.

Then, there's the global aspect of reaching the unreachable, beyond even our own borders in the U.S. and more developed countries. In those places, people don't don't have access to these life-sustaining supplies and medicines, or D-Camps or medical professionals who can help them live happy, successful lives with diabetes.

Dr. Kaufman speaks as D-Advocate Cherise Shockley listens intently.
Dr. Francine Kaufman was one of the speakers at the conference recently. She's Medtronic's chief medical officer and a renowned diabetes researcher and doctor who's taken an inspiring leadership role in global diabetes advocacy. She talked about starting camps in places like Ecuador where kids are getting their first diabetes educations. Going to South Africa where orphanages are the only places care is available and that's where these kids are sent. In India, where girls aren't even considered worth saving so they end up dying once they're diagnosed with diabetes.

Then, Dr. Kaufman talked about her own experiences in Haiti, where there's an astonishing 85% mortality rate in the first year of type 1 diagnosis. After the 2010 earthquake, a million people are still homeless and the situation remains difficult, dire and heartbreaking. She reminded us about a story I recall seeing on the news after the earthquake and have heard a little about since then, but had mostly forgotten about and hadn't really made a D-connection to until Dr. Kaufman made it for me.

She mentioned how Academy Award winning actor Sean Penn bought a nine hole golf course in Port-au-Prince and turned it into a camp, where about 50,000 homeless people are living on it in makeshift tents and makeshift housing structures that she described as made out of plywood and looking like floorless doghouses. He created a charitable organization known as the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, which manages the camp and helps with food, sanitation and health care. He's receiving the 2012 Peace Summit Award this month during the Nobel Peace Prize laureates' annual meeting as a result of his continuing work there.

Dr. Kaufman talked about going from clinic to clinic and working to develop standards of care for people living with diabetes. In her first year there, they didn't have any meters in the hospitals at all. Only urine strips were used, even for those who are in comas. Now there are some meters provided, but strips are too tough to get so there's limited use and access. Same with medical equipment - she said you can open up a closet and all kinds of equipment falls out, unused because they're missing batteries and supplies have run out. She taught a medical school, where the students basically know very little to nothing about diabetes and they have no textbooks - only what there shown on slides and taught by the instructors like Dr. Kaufman.

This same lack of education and care exists not only in Haiti, but in Indonesia and other places in Africa and Asia. They're teaching them these care aspects.

But then Dr. Kaufman shared a story about a mom she met in Haiti, who was thankful for the D-Care education and support but said she must return home and simply can't afford to practically bring any of that knowledge to her daughter with diabetes because she doesn't have a job. There's an 80% unemployment rate there, and that prevents many parents provide the needed D-care their kids need to be healthy or even survive.

A concept underway involves an idea about how WE can help. The moms do incredible craft work with  beads there, and they might be able to make crafty beaded bags of diabetes "stuff" that could then be sold to us (in the U.S. or first world countries) as a revenue-maker for them to provide diabetes care for their kids. Details on that are still in the works, but those of us who attended the conference will be watching for updates to let everyone know.

This all just blows my mind, and really provides perspective for those of us who so often find ourselves griping about our latest A1c, insurance company or Flex Account frustrations and higher prescription prices. At least we have access and can basically afford these things. I know that friend and fellow D-blogger Sara Nicastro has an incredibly inspiring passion for helping those with diabetes in Haiti where she's traveled and third world places, but this is an area so often I find myself not focusing enough attention on. I want that to be different.

One key program doing wonders to help in these situations abroad - including Haiti - is the Life for a Child program through the International Diabetes Federation (the org responsible for World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14). The importance of this program and what's being done throughout the world can't be emphasized enough, and I hope that those individuals with the means can find the ability to help out in some way.

This whole notion of reaching the unreachable has global implications, from our own backyards to far away places we may only have heard about on the news. We are all connected, and it personally does my heart well knowing we have people like Dr. Kaufman doing what she can to help make a difference.

Taking advocacy that might be in a university lab or company corporate office, or even in online blogs or Twitter chats, to those offline who need it most.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lows In Public

No Low is fun, any time or place.

A low blood sugar at home can be scary and embarrassing enough.

But being out in public, around other people who may or may not have any experience with diabetes or hypoglycemia is a completely different experience.

I absolutely hate having Lows in public more than anything. To me, there's nothing much worse about an average D-Life than losing your ability to think, function and even take care of yourself when you are out among other people.

If I'm going to be away from home for any period, I do my best to prepare ahead of time and make sure I know where my BGs are at. Being on an insulin pump gives me that control, to some extent. But regular BG testing and mindfulness - and consideration for other people - goes along away.

If I go Low to a point where I am not lucid and able to self-treat, that puts at least one other person in the uncomfortable situation of having to navigate my health and Low BG. That person may not have any personal experience on that front, and it's really not fair to put someone in that situation.

For example, if I'm going to be walking around all day at an event, then I might choose to run a bit higher - even in the 200s - just to make sure I don't get too Low. More testing might be in order. A temporary basal on my pump could be a solution. But having quick-acting sugar - juice, glucose tabs, candy, or whatever - is necessary. That way, if I feel a Low coming on or see one's on the way, I can take immediate action to prevent it.

I've gone Low at work more than once. In the past, those situations were so serious that I'd passed out and the paramedics were summoned. This is just embarrassing, and aside from everything mentioned above, it's tough to get over the feelings after these Lows that people are looking at you a little differently. That maybe your reputation, or ability to self-manage and be "normal," is compromised. I hate that. Really. Really. Really. Despise. That. Feeling.

Everyone's Lows May Vary, but for me my reactions out in the world have ranged from the inability to read and talk normally, emotional fits, even unconsciousness. One time a few years ago, there was a Low that came at me at the end of the workday when I was about to go home. I found my way to the parking garage and spent 30 minutes riding the elevator up and down and wandering the garage levels searching for my car. Even tripped and ripped my pants and got a bloody knee. Luckily, my Loving and Supporting Spouse was trying to reach me by phone and eventually did and talked me to getting to my vehicle, not starting it and eating glucose tabs to bring myself up.

So, thanks to my own diligence and with the help of a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), I am able to catch and prevent these Lows most of the time.

Back in the day, before starting on an insulin pump, these had the chance of happening more often because of the higher uncertainty of insulin injection treatment. Research and history shows that our old friend NPH (which is still out there and being used by some) has an higher track record of being crazily unpredictable and leading to dramatic dips and spikes in BGs. When I first started on a pump, I had some severe Lows in public because of my tighter management and unfamiliarity with it all. Luckily, it didn't take long to learn how my body responded to a pump and these types of regular Lows were short-lived.

Obviously, you can't always prevent Lows. Even when you do everything right, these situations happen. That's just a part of diabetes, at this point in time. And just because I've found an insulin pump to work the best for me in "managing" these public reactions, that doesn't mean that others using Multiple Daily Injections or other insulin injection regimes aren't able to manage just as well, if not better. I know many who do.

Whatever treatment method works for someone, I urge them to use it. But overall, I'm thankful we have the ability to mostly control these situations and make sure we're not confronted with them out in public.