Wednesday, December 11, 2013


~12:45 p.m., December 11, 2013.

William Lee Hoskins.

Yes, I'll carry on your name, but also everything you've taught me during over the course of my nearly 35 years.

Love you, Grandpa.

The Name of William Hoskins

Just about six years ago, I started exploring family history.

This was a couple years after finding the Diabetes Online Community, but before I really stepped into that world of wearing diabetes very openly on my sleeve. Back in late 2007 and early 2008, my focus was on my full-time newspaper job and my off-hour, stay-up-all-night hobby of aspiring family historian. This was just before got a surge of new interest and a TV show brought it even more recognition, and it was something I couldn't pull myself away from.

A key motivation for this was my grandfather, William Lee Hoskins, who's been a pivotal force in my life and has always been the heart of our family. I'm proud to have William as my middle name, as does my own dad, and it's an honor to have been able to compile 20 months of intense research into a 35-page Living History that I presented to my grandpa on his 80th birthday on Oct. 8, 2009.

I found myself scouring through online records and databases, traveling back and forth to talk family history with my loved ones back in Michigan and even traveling to distant places where historical records and old cemeteries were at my fingertips. My dad and I even found ourselves digging into the dirt of a 19th century cemetery to expose hidden gravestones and snap some photos...

Of all the cool genealogical gems that came from that research, I'm still floored that I found in southwest Kentucky a small county road (OK, it's more like a driveway... seriously) that bears our family's name thanks to some long-ago ancestors who lived on that land.

But, the whole experience was fascinating. My grandfather loved the historic "story" that came from that, as did the rest of the family who got a copy. I'm very proud of that, and see it as one of the most personally satisfying things I've ever done.

Some of that story's already been blogged about here, in a first and second post on the origins of my Hoskins Family line and our first American immigrant named Barth (totally righteous name). But what I haven't blogged about here on The Corner Booth is how that name William became a part of the family, first embraced in the 1700s and carried on all the way to my generation.

This is a particularly important story for me to share these days, as my grandfather remains in the hospital after a nasty fall in late August. He's in a nursing home and has been on my mind a lot more lately, so I've found myself turning back to the family history story that I wrote.

Update: We lost Grandpa this very morning (Dec. 13), ironically, not long after I posted this very blog post telling the origin story of his name.

Here's more of that origin story.

I Shall Tell You of William... Hoskins

(Yes, this is a Braveheart prologue reference, for those who might have picked up on that.)

My middle name comes from the 1700s.... The Hoskins family has been around on this continent since the early 1600s, but it wasn't until the mid-18th century that the name William came around in our line. The names John and Thomas were becoming overused generally in those days and within the family, so they began turning to the name William in the early to mid 1700s.

The first William Hoskins of 1729 lived with his family in eastern Virginia before moving more West in Virginia in about 1755. They settled near Terrible Creek, a stream tributary to the Dan River just a few miles northwest of the county courthouse. This is where William kept up a long-followed family tradition and became a vestryman of the Antrim Parish and served in local government -- a Halifax County official from 1763-1770 (justice of the peace for two terms, sheriff for one term, two terms as county levies collector, and surveyor and road commissioner). He remained in that county during the American Revolution, but was also a mill owner and operator who likely grew tobacco, cotton and corn as most did at the time.

Eventually, the Hoskins family moved further West in the late 1780s or early 1790s, heading down the Holston River and through the mountains to northeast Tennessee where  many of the early settlers were heading to Jefferson County founded in June 1792.

In sum, the Hoskins family had settled in the Jamestown area in pre-colonial days, staying in eastern Virginia and helping spread the ideals of democracy before we won our independence from England. A century later, the first William Hoskins took his family west to middle-lower Virginia, and then his descendents eventually journeyed west along the Holston River with thousands of other settlers to northeast Tennessee in the late 1700s. Some settlers moved to the area that became Nashville, and it appears the Hoskins eventually went that way and settled in southwest Kentucky in the 1830s and 40s along the Mississippi River, in the area of Hickman County. This area was thought to be the next national capitol following the War of 1812, when the British captured and burned Washington D.C. and the nation looked to a more land-locked location. This never materialized, but the Hoskins lines ended up there. Many other lines of Hoskins can be found in nearby counties, some connected by relatives and others only sharing a long-ago ancestor.

Lines of my family helped establish the American colonies, develop the country in its most formative and expansive years, and even introduce horse-racing into Kentucky with what eventually became the Derby.

Pretty cool, and I'm particularly proud of it!

Fast forward a few centuries: You get William of 1755, Samuel of 1791 and then Andrew of 1820... until we get to William Oliver Hoskins (W.O. Hoskins, who family referred to as either Will or Papa) in the 1870s.

From my family's written history and actual knowledge of my grandfather, that W.O. Hoskins was the oldest generation that we have memory of actually existing. My grandpa remembers his own grandfather Will and grandma Ella Mae (Byassee), and the actual radio that she owned back in the 1930s now sits in my own home. A family heirloom, if you will.

William Oliver was a farmer in that southwest part of Kentucky and through the years he and Ella Mae had several children. One of those was my great-grandfather Raymond Oliver Hoskins who was born in 1899. That's my grandpa's dad, who was a farmer just like his father.

And from there, my grandfather William Lee Hoskins (they are from the South, remember!) came around just a few weeks before the Great Stock Market Crash of '29. He's a series of posts all his own, my grandfather, but the point here is his name that was passed on down through the generations -- from when the ancestors moved from the East to the middle part of the country, to when my grandfather and his brother left the farm-life of Kentucky in the '40s to find their futures in the emerging automotive hub of Detroit.

Ok, here's a few photos...

A young Bill Hoskins

Bill, in late 40s just before leaving KY for Detroit...

Grandparents at my wedding in 2005

The name was carried on, with my dad in 1952 getting William as his own middle name and the same happening for me, the first of four grandchildren, in 1979.

Michael William Hoskins. This guy.

The third grand-kid (my cousin Eric William Keeter) also got grandpa's name as his middle moniker. However, as I've written before, we lost my cousin more than a decade ago. So, I remain the only grandchild with his name weaved into my own.

As to my first name, no it's not taken from the Bible or anything like that. Story is my parents were torn between two names they liked - Michael and David. Apparently, my dad won and so that's what it is.

So, that's where my name comes from.

I'm very proud of my family heritage, and it's a pretty awesome feeling to know where my family came from and how we were a part of this country's beginning.

Of course, where the name came from is only the beginning of a story that can be told about my grandfather William. The rest? Will be coming soon...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why I Go Blue for Diabetes?

Someone in the Diabetes Community online recently engaged me in conversation about why they do not support a particular color or symbol to embrace diabetes.

What started the whole online exchange was how they were promoting diabetes awareness, using a ribbon that had a little blood drop symbol and used a color that most associate with another health condition.

I supported the advocacy and D-Awareness raising, but noted my hesitancy behind multiple colors and symbols. I noted my support of the color blue.

That person's point: "Diabetes is not a color or symbol, it's a disease. Period."

Over time, there have been so many other colors and ribbons in regard to diabetes that it makes my head spin. I often feel that we're doing ourselves a disservice by having so many different colors, as that seems to tell the non-diabetic world at large that we can't even agree with each other about how we want to communicate about diabetes at the very ground level.

Think of diabetes as a long staircase up to the roof, where it's possible that vague notion for a cure is floating around as something we'd all like to get to immediately if we could.

There are many stairs leading up to that rooftop. And there's even a few elevators nearby that could help get up there more quickly.

But before we can even start climbing or deciding what elevator will zip us up, and before we start trying to tell people about all the different aspects of diabetes understanding and research that sits on each floor, we have to convince the general public that this is a journey they should be making.

Why should they even want to go up there, when they could stay on the ground level and look at going to other buildings that are full of worthy causes like breast cancer, Chrohn's Disease, autism, Alzeimer's, and countless other conditions and charitable pursuits.

That's where the color Blue and the Blue Circle come into place for me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"No, It's Not An iPod..."

I took a couple airplane rides recently, the first since buying a Dexcom G4 CGM.

Airport security was mostly hassle-free and not an issue, for the two airports I went through in my own city and then the higher-traffic one I was flying home from.

They knew what my insulin pump was, and just did their thing swabbing it for possible explosives that only took a few minutes. No issues there. (maybe because I'm currently using an Animas Ping that really does look like a medical device and is much more old-school retro looking, compared to modern-looking devices like the t:slim...)

My CGM was less understood.

At both airports, the same comment came my way from a handful of security people: "All phones and iPods need to go in a bin and get scanned."

My response:

"It's not an iPod, it's a medical device."

TSA responses varied --

"Oh." (Read: Whatever.)
"Oh" (with an exclamation point!).

"Really?!" (No, actually I'm lying to you.)

And the inquisitive "What kind of medical device?," to which I gave a little CGM-101.

But the one I liked the best was a friendly man in Indy, who was the second TSA agent at that airport in the line.

"Sure, I know what that is. If I was up there, you could've just gone right through instead of standing here waiting for 5 minutes."

I would've liked to chat more with that man, to see how he in fact knew about my G4. But, there just wasn't time. And it was very early in the morning, before my coffee. Oh, well.

Really, the only issue I had was the one TSA agent in D.C. who apparently didn't understand or believe that my CGM was a medical device and despite my insisting sent it through the X-ray bins anyhow when I wasn't watching. And he didn't much care for my comment, "You break it, you buy it."

He wasn't amused, but in the end it too was really no big deal.

I'm not annoying by these questions or mistaken-iPod identities, for the most part. Because seriously, the Dex G4 really does look like an iPod. How can we blame people for thinking this?

An Actual iPod, NOT a medical device.
My Dexcom G4 (partially photo-bombed by Ping).

We so often clamor for our D-devices to look more non-medical device like, and then gripe when non-D folk don't recognize them as medical devices and question us a little more? It's kind of funny, to me.

Anyhow, overall point: Few airport hassles with the new G4, which was good.

And that's really all I have to say here, for now.

Friday, September 13, 2013

(Re) Navigating The Waters of Diabetes

Published this post initially in March 2010. But it's again how I am feeling, after being reminded by Kerri Sparling in a great post she wrote recently. So, here it is again.

In The Waters Again

Sky is dark. Clouds hover overhead, trapping the light behind a veil of darkness, a haze that stops you
from seeing what's ahead. A bright spot, a break in the clouds, can be seen ahead on the horizon where the sun shines through. That's the destination. 
But it's not an easy path. This journey means you must ride the river. A dangerous river. Toward that place off in the distance, a spot you hope isn't a mirage as you desperately try to reach it.

This river is riddled with rough patches. A rocky, wave-splashing-against-the-shore type of river. Rocks sit in strategic spots along the river, aimed solely at catching you off-guard and pitching you helplessly into the waters.

The only salvation is a small little raft - a Log - that shows how you're doing in navigating these trecherous waters. A safety vest - a lifeline connected to the body - provides some comfort and helps boost you or keep you tied down when needed. Every single moment it keeps you alive, even as you fearfully face those ever-present dangers that mean quickly drowning before there's a chance to recover. Clinging to the small raft, we do all we can just not to fall off and sink to the bottom of the dark waters. Paddling away, with whatever we have to paddle with - oars, branches, hands, feet, arms.

Out of nowhere and without warning, a High wave crashes into me, sending me up into the bleak sky. Here, I know I won't drown. But the drop back down is inevitable, and that's a dangerous crash. Plummeting downward. Sinking into the dark abyss, water rushes over me. I sink lower. Finally, I manage to pull myself back up to the surface. Breath for air. Tread water, until I can again pull myself back onto the raft and continue on. Soaked, shaking, again clutching to the sides and regaining composure.

The ride resumes. The raft offers comfort. Even as I can see more waves ahead, and realize the future isn't any different. No matter how much I crave peace and easy river-riding, I can't have it. Must battles the waves. But carry on hope that someday I'll reach that brighter, non-wavy place. A place that maybe I will reach, but may fall short again and have to find my way back there.

Navigating through the Waters of Diabetes.

Making every moment count. Riding the waves, but seeing and appreciating the scenery along the shores even as it passes by. And knowing that, even if you're manning the oars or paddles, there are others on the shore keeping watch - cheering, advising, throwing a life jacket or tree limb, or just giving a hand when needed.

Stability and Control, managing the ride  as much as you can without giving the waters control.


Monday, August 5, 2013

We All Live in Glass Houses, But Are We Really Throwing Stones?

Let's start out with a couple catchy-quotes we all know and love.

"Judge not, lest ye be judged."

"Those who live in glass houses, shouldn't throw stones."

Well, sure. Sound advice. Easy enough to follow, right?

Only if you can tell whether someone's actually judging you or not. And that's not always easy, thanks to the simple little fact that we are made the way we are.

A few people I know wrote some blogs recently that got me thinking about the human condition, and specifically the topic of how quickly we judge and point fingers in today's society.

One post that caught my eye comes from Renza over in Australia, and she wrote about how so many doctors judge their patients who aren't following directions and doing what they're supposed to. Her point: leave that judgement at the door, and just realize that we don't want your judgement. That's not going to make us any healthier, or get us closer to wanting to listen to you.

First off, I agree with her. To an extent.

But once I started pondering the post a little more and mulling it over with a cup of coffee (and some wine late in the day), it really got me thinking about another side of the issue.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Inner Peace (Republished 17+ Years Later)

The morning sun painfully peeks through the bedroom window
to pay his final respects, warming her body as the
warmth slowly fades for the final time.
My eyes are closed to him, for in my eyes
all the world is clouded with sorrow.

With all my heart, I hold onto her hand
to ease the pain, hoping to contain her
love and tenderness in the earthly body
for one moment more.
A tearful joy floods my head as she takes my hand
and holds on with that tender grandmother love.

A while light of wonder that fills the room
with essence of peace.
Maybe that's just rays of sunlight, but to me they are angels.
Beings with unblemished complexions of compassion and sympathy.
They hover above the bed, waiting with patience to guide her soul
into the heavenly light.

Clouds of misery hang just as close, during this dark hour.
The hour in which my childhood forever faded into adulthood.
She has been released from this mere planet of pain
and suffering, and moves on to a place of eternal happiness.
A place where her spirit will live forever, having achieved an inner peace.

Though anguish and grief grip my soul with their hands of steel,
crushing my very essence into a fine powder of sadness, I know
that she is with the Lord in this time of sorrow. She is reunited
with her husband, and someday
we will embrace once more in the Eternal Home.

Michael W. Hoskins
April 16, 1996

Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's A Small Diabetes World, After All

We approached the table for breakfast, holding our plates of eggs and bacon and slice of French toast on each. The family already seated at the table were strangers, but that wasn't a big deal since we were all "family" at this diabetes conference anyhow.

Hey, we all had bracelets -- most green, some were orange and others were yellow. But it all meant "family" to some degree, so there really weren't any strangers (at least not for long!).

Once we stepped up to the table and did initial intros, the dad welcomed us and motioned that we sit down next to him and his boy, while the mom mentioned she had to run back up to the room with her teenage daughter.

Sitting down, we instantly got to talking about what had brought us all to that conference and respective table. We shared diabetes diagnosis stories, and the dad wondered how I'd heard about the Friends For Life conference in Orlando. I told him about knowing of FFL for years, thanks to some friends in the diabetes blogging community, but that was the first time I'd been able to get there.

"Oh, my wife has a blog too..." he started to say.

As he did, it dawned on me that I had only looked at his name badge to see his first name and where he was from. But hadn't really looked at the last name. Glancing again, I saw the last name and a light bulb went on in my head...

I knew this family!

"Oh my - your wife is...," I blurted out, a cross between a question and exclamation. "I know her!"

Yes, we had stumbled across the Ghosn family, and D-Mom Tina who blogs over at Stick With It Sugar.

Her husband and I shared a laugh and a few more conversation moments before Tina returned a few minutes later with their Type 1 daughter, and we connected the dots... Smiles and huge hugs were exchanged, and that was that. Another first time real-life meetup with people who knew each other from the Diabetes Online Community.

That wasn't the only meeting of its kind at FFL.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Three Years After The Post

While we were off enjoying Orlando and Disney and the whole Friends For Life experience, a comment came my way through email.

It was on a post written more than three years ago, back in February 2010.

The post came just after Christmas 2009, when Suzi made me a Diabetes Ninja modeled after all my talk of "being a ninja" thanks to Super G who's widely known in the DOC as the original Ninjabetic.

Anyhow, a few years have passed since then and we've since handed Lance off to a friend in the community who needed his protection - he's now been renamed, Little G.

Dr. Google or the power of online connectivity apparently came into play, bringing someone to that post. And this comment came from that person:

Just wanted to say to you and Suzi that I loved your Diabetes Ninja toy so much, I made 20 of them to send with my son to Camp Joslin for him and his cabin mates and counselors. I of course made the weapons, including a sword made from the cartridge plunger and needle cover, and a Kendo-style staff. I included a card that states "I am a Diabetes Ninja. Expert. Fighter. With cool weapons. I await your command, Sensei," in a Japanese-style font. I know they will be a HUGE hit, because I gave one to his friend and his parents found him fast asleep that night with the Diabetes Ninja tucked in his arms at a BG check. Thanks so much to your wife for this wonderful way to reach out to these kids, who do become Diabetes Ninjas at camp.

I absolutely loved this comment, and it touches my heart.

So, to the D-Mom who wrote and sent it: THANK YOU!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Playing the Diabetes Card (At Disney or Life in General)

I remember standing on the school gym floor staring up at the rope I was supposed to climb.

My mouth must have been wide open, as I stood gaping up at the ceiling. The top of the rope was so high up there, but for some crazy reason my 5th grade gym teacher believed we should and could climb all the way up -- just to touch the ceiling and then climb back down.

I made a choice that day, even though I knew better. Since my diagnosis before I'd even started kindergarten, I had always been taught to "not use my diabetes as an excuse." This time, however, with that rope staring back at me, I chose to claim my blood sugar was Low and I needed to sit down and have some juice. Nope, I wouldn't have to climb the rope this time.

That 5th grade experience still stands out in my mind all these many years later, and even now in my 30s I'm ashamed that my younger self made the decision to use my D as excuse. I allowed it to dictate what I could and couldn't do, and in doing so probably made others think, "diabetics can't (fill in the blank)." Of course, there's the whole fact that I was lying anyhow.

This memory and feeling came back recently when I was in Florida attending my first-ever Friends For Life conference, and the conversation shifted to how we could "use our diabetes" to get some special treatment at the Disney World and Universal Studios parks.

I heard several fellow PWDs and D-Parents talk up the advantages of having special Guest Assistance Cards (GACs), and one even said, "For the first time, I felt that I was getting something from having diabetes." In other conversations, I heard these cards referred to as "the front-of-the-line passes" and the "no-wait" cards. I've even read blogs since the conference describing them as the "go-straight-to-the-front tickets."


This made me uncomfortable. Honestly, I felt just like it was elementary school gym class all over again. Getting one of these passes and using it to basically cut in line felt like I was using my diabetes as an excuse -- even if I didn't need to. Just as I once indicated I couldn't climb a rope as a result of my diabetes, I was now saying that I wasn't able to adequately prepare and plan to wait in an amusement park ride line like everyone else.

Yes, I was telling people that I was disadvantaged and needed special treatment.

Now, these passes technically aren't specifically meant to cut down waits; they're meant to provide alternative entrances so that we insulin-addicts don't have to stand outside in the heat where our insulin can get easily cooked. But in learning from a park cast member that Magic Kingdom gives out 400-500 of these per day and there are probably a few thousand given out between all the Disney parks, it's pretty clear that not everyone really "needs" these passes... In fact, that's been a discussion going on within the Disney ranks about alleged "abuses" and Disney's reviewing the practice. Update: Disney tightened up that policy in September 2013.

That's not to say we PWDs are "abusing" anything just by getting one of these cards; not the argument here. I get that there's a need. Standing in long lines and walking the parks can translate into low blood sugars pretty quickly. And it's not the greatest idea to stand outside in the mid-July heat of Orlando when you have heat-sensitive insulin in tow. Whether it's in a vial you're carrying or infusing through the pump tubing in a pocket, the 80 to 90-degree direct-sunshine heat and humidity can be an issue for us. In those situations, it may be appropriate for a CWD or PWD to use one of the passes to get into an air-conditioned area to wait or to sit somewhere to wait out the lines. That's acceptable and not out of line, I think.

But even those situations don't mean a special pass is always necessary, IMHO.

Knowing that I was traveling to Orlando in July and would be spending hours at a time outdoors at amusement parks, I started planning before leaving my cooler home in the Midwest. I looked up cooling packs and options online, and finally settled on buying my first-ever Frio cooling carrying case.

This allowed me to not only cart my two insulin vials around, but to also put my insulin pump inside the Frio and attach it to my waistband for when I was out at the parks.

The carrying case was lightweight and stayed cool, even in the heat and humidity. Not too worried about my meter and other D-Supplies, I kept those in their regular case and put that in a leg pocket of my cargo shorts. It all worked out perfectly for me.

My wife and I didn't pick up a GAC, because I didn't see the need. When there were rides with wait times longer than 45 minutes, we made the decision whether or not to stick it out based on how we felt at the time. Where we willing to stand out in the heat? Or forgo that particular ride? A few times, we chose to wait in the heat. Others, we didn't. Regardless of the situation, we waited just like every "normal" person. I carried glucose tabs on me in case my BGs went Low and there wasn't quick access to anything else. This way, I felt that diabetes wasn't dictating my decisions.

OK, it's still reassuring to know that if I ever needed that special park pass, it's available.

My thinking is that I'd prefer not to ask for special passes or accommodations unless it's absolutely necessary. But I don't believe they should always be used just because they can be. We have choices in how we present life with diabetes to the rest of the world.

Whether it's being able to climb a rope in gym class, or standing in line at the airport or Disney, I want the world to know that I'm not "disadvantaged" but can do most anything that "healthy" folks can do. If you don't single me out because of my diabetes and treat me with respect, I will do the same for you.

But if I do ask for help or a special accommodation, I also want you to acknowledge that there's a good reason I'm asking in the first place.

Because there's a need -- and this isn't just an excuse for me to take the easy path. 

- - - - - - -

This post written by Michael W. Hoskins was originally published on DiabetesMine in July 2013.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My First Time at the Magical Friends For Life Conference

There's a new "teen with diabetes" on the block.

Yes, the biggest diabetes conference aimed at children and families living with type 1 is a teenager, and just as for any person with diabetes (PWD), hitting this stage of life is an exciting time with a lot of change in the air.

The annual Friends For Life Conference took place July 9-14 at the Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, FL, bringing in more than 3,500 people, a 10% increase from last year, including roughly 700 first-time visitors -- my wife and I included!

This was the first time I've been able to attend FFL, and my wife Suzi and I were thrilled to travel to Orlando for a week not only for the conference, but also to return to the spot where we spent our honeymoon back in late 2005. I'm still wrapping my brain and heart around the whole experience, but to me it felt like diabetes camp on steroids. Being surrounded by thousands of people who "get it" and seeing the smiles and friendships of new and returning kids and adults just makes me grin while sitting here at my home office computer.

So many families, so many good conversations and fun experiences... there's no way to recap everything and do justice to the entire conference, but luckily the tweet stream using hashtag #CWDFFL13 was available, offering a "real-time" glimpse into various perspectives from those attending! We also posted a number of photos over on our Facebook page, so make sure to check those out as well.

As many of you know, this whole thing got rolling in 1995 when Ohio D-Dad Jeff Hitchcock founded the online forum that's since become the thriving CWD community. His daughter Marissa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 2, and she's now in her mid-20s, recently married. In 1999, Michigan D-Mom Laura Billetdeaux, who'd been a member of the CWD mailing group, spontaneously invited folks to come with her family to visit Disney World. Five hundred people showed up... and the rest is history, as they say!

Laura organized that first official conference that following year in 2000, and so opinions do vary on whether last year or this summer's official-organization anniversary marks the true milestone. This is the 14th annual event, per CWD, so there.

There have been 60+ conferences worldwide and they keep adding locations, but the Florida event is certainly the largest and most long-standing in the CWD world. Don't be deceived by the official "Children With Diabetes" moniker -- the conference isn't just for kids and their families; it's open to PWDs of all ages. The number of adult PWDs attending the conference continues to rise. An estimated several hundred came out this year, roughly twice as many as the conference saw a few years back.

Fellow PWD-bloggers Scott Johnson and Kerri Sparling were honored for their advocacy and adult-recruitment that's helped make FFL such a grown-up party in recent years.

Learning So Much

First, the serious stuff: There were sessions on everything from caregiving basics, carb counting tips, to psychosocial sessions and the latest technological advances in the D-world — brought to you by an impressive lineup of recognizable experts. All the presentations and speaker bios, along with reports from each day, can be found on the CWD conference site. One of the big hits was the Bionic Pancreas project presentation by D-Dad Dr. Ed Damiano, which drew a huge crowd that packed the room and was the talk of the conference. We've reported on Damiano's work a number of times, so the content was pretty familiar to me.

Of course, CWD joined the Johnson & Johnson family in 2008, so I was thinking that many of the speakers (I heard) were affiliated to some degree with JnJ/Animas/LifeScan/OneTouch. But it turns out that only 7 of the total 166 official faculty and staff were affiliated with JnJ -- and Jeff Hitchcock tells us that those 7 were involved in FFL before the acquisition -- so neutrality in the programming is ensured.

One of the most disappointing sessions to me was about Health Care Reform's impact on PWDs — which is a hot button issue so I was expecting to learn some important tidbits. All this session did was note that changes are coming in 2014, but at this point there's really no clear answer as to what effect this will really have (?). The speaker works within JnJ's regulatory arm and the session had little detail except for the proverbial tips to "know your stuff" and communicate with employers as this information becomes available. Um, ya think? I snapped some photos of the presentation, which can be found over on our Facebook page.

And then there was the FDA "update" -- which started off on an interesting note as the speaker told us that due to"budget restraints" the agency couldn't send the two planned FDA officials; instead, they sent Dr. Helene Clayton-Jeter who said she wasn't the subject-matter-expert on diabetes. Really, FDA, this is the person you send to a diabetes conference?! Most of the presentation was an overview of the agency's structure and a recap of its new patient-friendly website, so during the interactive Q&A, some of us grilled her on what the FDA is planning to do about test strip accuracy. Fellow blogger/advocate Christel and I told her about the Strip Safely initiative and chatted with her afterward, even after she tried to "blame the patient" when asking about what can be done about ensuring more accuracy. The cop-out answer of "our hands are tied" wasn't well-received, and one of the most interesting notes was a Tweet in response that read: "If planes only landed w/in 20% accuracy 95% of the time, would gov't untie FAA hands?"

While it was an underwhelming session, the speaker at least took down the information and promised to spread word about the Strip Safely initiative. And we took her email down, so she's now on the list of FDA folks whom we'll be reaching out to.

I actually really enjoyed hearing and meeting fellow type 1, Dr. Ken Moritsugu, who now chairs the JnJ Diabetes Institute in Milpitas, CA, and formerly served as deputy surgeon general advising the U.S. Surgeon General (!) He pointed out that one of the biggest challenges in medicine is moving from an acute care model to a chronic one, where instead of focusing on patients "being fixed" by doctors, we're instead advised on staying healthy in partnership relationship with our care team. Ken said that many of the best doctors in the diabetes world still treat our condition like it needs a quick fix, and they get frustrated when we PWDs don't "comply" with their prescribed advice. That was very valuable insight, I thought, highlighting the need not only for doctors to learn how to practice better, but for us patients to keep educating them about how we need this all to work.

As always, the most powerful sessions for me were the ones that hit on psychosocial issues of living with diabetes and offered inspiration, and it was good to see a few talks focus specifically on the issues that significant others experience in living with diabetes (more on that below).
Fun with D

Meanwhile, plenty of "insider" fun did abound -- from "Low stations" with glucose tabs and sweetened juice, beeping D-devices at every turn. Of course, how can you not just glow with pride as you're surrounded by swarms of the famed "green wrist-bands" worn by all the fellow type 1s?

On Thursday evening, there was the FFL Banquet and Ball that had a prince and princess theme this year. Serving asmaster of ceremonies was D-Dad Tom Karlya, who took on the role as "King of FFL" (pronounced Fiff-el) until the stroke of midnight when he turned back into Tom (ha!). After dinner, this was just a huge party where the kids (and many adults) were dressed up as faux royalty, and there were neon bracelets that everyone could wear out on the dance floor.

The exhibit hall here was unlike anything I've experienced before at any other D-conference, as it wasn't all "rigid and formal" and full of product promotions... Yes, there were products displayed, but this entire conference was designed to be a fun time, and there were skee-ball and video games and the zero-carb sno cones for the families as they browsed around the hall, meeting celebs like Olympic cross-country skier Kris Freeman, former pro football player Kendall Simmons, and so much more!

On Community, Sharing, and HCPs

Among the many talks about social media use in the D-Community, one of the most intriguing discussions came during the Partnering for Diabetes Change session on the first day of focus groups. A panel of DOC'ers joined with four health care professionals -- Barbara Anderson, Korey Hood, Jeremy Pettus, and Jill Weissberg-Benchell in a session called Social Media & the Monster Under The Bed.

The panel talked about what to share and how cautious we should all be in sharing information online, particularly in the case of kids with diabetes. A main theme was how to get more HCPs to see the value of social media support. Dr. Jill mentioned that some docs are very conservative and still feel that D-Camp or conferences like FFL aren't "reliable" because the doctors can't monitor the type of information provided in those venues. Korey and Jeremy noted that maybe having a "stamp of approval" would help sell docs on the value of social media, but Korey cautioned that getting big organizations like the ADA involved might prove fruitless since it would likely take the ADA a decade to validate social media sites. Jeremy insisted that the DOC needs to "be in the clinical repertoire," and Dr. Barbara said that only time will bring more HCPs into the view that social media support is valuable.

A Diabetes Balancing Act... Even in Orlando

As "magical" as the FFL experience is, though, I think there's something else that should be shared: you have to be in the right place mentally and emotionally to get the most out of FFL. Even if you're not talking diabetes non-stop, the fact is that you're at this event because of diabetes and at times you really can't escape the feeling that you're drowning in it.

Yes, the camaraderie is great. And I was very inspired by the whole experience, especially some of the sessions like the one run by fellow PWD Sandy Struss, a motivational speaker who encourages everyone to challenge themselves.

But it was also a little overwhelming, and I was feeling defined by my health at times. There were moments when, despite seeing all the energy and kindred spirits, I felt the need to escape and just step out of the D-Universe for a bit. A diabetes burnout session opened my eyes to this specifically. Led by Korey and Jill, the session was an emotional one that made me realize that even talking diabetes professionally all the time can overwhelm me and make me less apt to focus on my own personal D-management as much as I should. This was reinforced for me during the couples' and spouses sessions, where I really got to explore how I feel about my own health and how my feelings about my inadequate management often translate into not sharing with my partner as much as I probably should.

Then in my online life, we talk about diabetes constantly, which I think can sometimes make even the minute details of this illness loom large as something more significant than they really are.

There has to be a balance, and I think that's what this first FFL experience taught me the most.

When we need this community, it's there, which is a huge comfort. But it's also OK when we feel the need to step away and focus on the non-D aspects of who we are. There's a magical "Kingdom of FFL" out there, and when you need it and are ready to embrace it, it can help you move mountains and shake up the world as you continue on the journey of living with diabetes.

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This post written by Mike Hoskins originally appeared on DiabetesMine in July 2013.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Magic In The Air

We spent a week in Orlando, for our first-ever trip to the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life conference.

So much to say, so little brainpower right now to make that happen here...

What can you say about being in a place full of a few thousand people who "get it?" Know what you're going through and are living with diabetes just like you are?

It's a pretty remarkable experience.

Now, I'm not always in the mood to talk diabetes. But seeing the kids and families connecting, witnessing the magic of those smiles and hugs and friendships, is something that will live in my mind and heart forever.

But aside from all the diabetes activity that I'll be blogging about over at DiabetesMine soon enough, there was a whole bunch of Disney fun and Universal Park excitement.

This was our first trip back to Orlando since our honeymoon in September 2005, and we had a fabulous time.

And then we also got to experience what was a highlight for Suzi - the Harry Potter part of Universal!

Of course, the Back to the Future ride has been closed for several years now... Sadly, I never went on it back on our honeymoon. So all I was left with this time was a movie poster. Although, we did see Doc Brown wandering around another part of a park with his 1950s mind-reading helmet on as he strolled the set streets where Hill Valley was once set up.

We had a fun time, and there will be more photos on Facebook along with updates as the coffee gets my brain back into the swing of things outside of "vacaction mode!"

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Trains, Taxis & Buses (But No Planes, This Time)

When a road trip that should take three hours one way ends up taking 11 hours, you know the stars are aligned for a story that you'll be able to tell for the rest of your life.

Not Me, it's Steve Martin.
For me, that happened during a recent visit to Chicago for a big diabetes conference in mid-June. My return trip home via Amtrak got a little crazy, and turned into my own version of the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

Except that I wasn't as frustrated as Steve Martin was at the rental car counter, demanding a "f*ing car right f*ing now."

And there were no planes, but there were plenty of stories coming from the trains, taxis, shuttles and buses that carted me around during those five days.

Here's how it all rolled off the tracks (see what I did there!?)...

Monday, July 1, 2013


I am scared to hell about what diabetes is doing to my body.

What it may have already done, and still be doing.

When limbs hurt, wounds don't heal, new bumps or bruises or scrapes or eye issues come at me, I'm afraid of what it could mean.

Once, "they" told me that complications would happen.

It scared me then, and it scares me now -- even as I put on a "whatever" attitude then and a "brave face" now.

Fuck that. Right now, I'm over that.

This is the point where I just want to crawl into a corner and cry, or yell at the wall for being there.

No matter how positive we try to be in this D-Community, it doesn't change the fact that sometimes we can't escape this fear, this negativity, this sense of dwelling on the "what ifs."

Maybe it's diabetes, maybe it's just aging.

Maybe it's a mind trick, worrying about what may not even be reality. But it doesn't matter, because that dread grips your heart and rips at you as your mind goes back to every one of those conversations about complications as a kid. All that comes flooding back.

Sometimes, you're just scared

And you just want to be "normal" without having to worry about the impacts of diabetes.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Riding A Bike for Diabetes... If the Money Allows

I rode in my first-ever Tour de Cure this past weekend.

Our local Indiana Tour de Cure on Saturday morning took place on and around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Central Indiana, and I was proud to be there as a Red Rider on my inaugural ride.

This was only the second ride ever here in Indy, with more than 1,400 people participating from 25 states. It's now the 11th largest Tour de Cure out of the 89 rides that take place across 44 U.S. states in total. I was psyched to be one of the 83 "declared" Red Riders in Indy proudly sporting red jerseys identifying them as PWDs (people with diabetes) -- although organizers told me there were likely other PWDs riding who just didn't go through the hoops of being recognized as a Red Rider. Anyhow, it was pretty impressive that Lilly, headquartered in Indianapolis, had more than 400 riders out there and Lilly Diabetes president Enrique Conterno gave the opening remarks that morning.

I was lucky enough to have some great friends and family members who contributed to my fundraising goal, allowing me to get out on the track. That brings up the issue that really got under my skin about this event: being able to "afford" participating in an ADA ride... but first I think it's important to recap my local event and what I accomplished.

My First Red Rider Experience

I made it more than 15 miles, equating to about a 25k. That was my limit and I knew it, pushing myself as far as I could without going overboard. I rode a lap around the 2.5-mile track at the beginning, and then went off-track onto the road route following those longer-distance riders who were doing the 50k, 75k, and 100k routes. This was VERY challenging for me, especially hitting the non-level highways and streets around the Indy area that were quite a different experience than the flatter downtown streets and paths I'd been riding near my home for the past few months.

The first rest and water station stop was 12 miles out, which I was a little surprised about since the ADA claimed to have "frequent" rest stops and that seemed a little too long for beginners like me. But, being the out-of-shape rookie rider that I am, this could just be my inexperience talking. Anyhow, I went on a little more before realizing my jello-like legs couldn't take me any further. So, a quick cell phone call brought my wife out to pick me up (yes, this may be "cheating" by official standards, but I really don't care). I didn't want to bother the official transport volunteers who I felt needed to be on hand for those who might be in need of real emergency help.

Honestly, there were times when my legs just couldn't push my bike any more up a particularly challenging climb. But having other riders pass by and make sure I was OK, shouting a "Go Red Rider!"and giving me a fist-pump-in-the-air as they passed, was empowering and motivating and kept my spirits up even in these somewhat-embarrassingly tough moments when my pride felt bruised and battered.

Diabetes-wise, I didn't have any problems during the ride! I had planned to wear my Dexcom 7+, but the day before I discovered that I've somehow misplaced the transmitter... so I was CGM-less out on the track, which meant I had to stay mentally even more aware of my blood sugars. I know that I did 5 fingerstick checks while out riding, because I kept all the used strips in my pocket to count afterward.

On the starting line, a few of us Red Riders got a laugh out of a line the organizers were broadcasting through the megaphone: "If you go Slow, Stay Low" (regarding where you should ride on the angled speedway, based on your biking speed). Didn't they realize they were talking to a diabetes audience and what "staying low" meant (?!).

Miraculously, I didn't have to worry about going low during my ride, as my blood sugars were a little high that morning and stayed so during the Tour. I set a temp basal at 50% for four hours and had all my glucose gel and some tabs on me, just in case. A test on the starting line showed I was at 169 mg/dL.

A couple stops in the first 10 miles showed I was hovering safely around that same level. Admittedly, because I was thirsty and paranoid of a sudden BG drop, I did enjoy a small cup of Gatorade at the 12-mile rest area -- that boosted me up into the low 200s by the time I finished. But a slight correction helped bring me back down, and hours after my blood sugars went down into the 90s for most of the day and evening thanks to that "super-charging" effect I saw during my training.

Anyhow, I did my best. And I'm VERY proud of what I accomplished in my debut Tour de Cure! I can't wait to continue my exercise routine and start getting into better shape, so I can be ready for next year's Tour. That motivation boost is a huge benefit right there!

The Fundraising Quandary

Now to the not-so-motivating part. With the help of various friends and family members, I managed to pass my fundraising goal of $200, which is actually a mandatory minimum the ADA requires you to raise in order to even be allowed to participate. And that's on top of the registration fee you must pay to sign up for the ride (which is $25, unless you register online and early like I did and pay just $15).

Therein lies my biggest concern about the overall ADA Tour de Cure, beyond my locality of Indianapolis: I feel that it is cost-prohibitive for many.

You must raise the $200 to participate. It's not optional. That's the amount required for any man, woman or child, no matter how old or how far they may be riding. A scan of other cities' Tours finds the same, with $200 being the most common but some locations being higher and some varying depending on the route and registration fee attached.

This is unlike the JDRF walks, where donations are suggested but optional, where you can get a walk shirt if you raise a certain amount and can obtain other prizes and recognition based on donations. Sure, the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes has a mandatory registration fee plus minimum fundraising packages of $2,000-$4000, but those packages include travel accommodations, jerseys, medals, and other items -- so you're sort of paying for a kind of vacation package + sporting event + charity.

IMHO, the ADA events seem more like big municipal outings. Families would like to ride, kids and all. The mandatory fundraising minimum for every family member makes that extremely difficult. It's frustrating that the ADA is not flexible enough to welcome folks who might make a smaller donation, but really want to get out on their bikes and be active (isn't that a key part of their whole message, in trying to "Stop Diabetes?").

On the track before we started the Indy ride, I was chatting with one woman who was there riding with a corporate team. She mentioned that some colleagues had all helped each other with donations, and a few clients had also gotten her to the $200 level -- all to go around the track a couple times in support of a great cause. She was hoping to share the experience with her daughter who is living with type 1, but it was just too much to boost her fundraising up to the $400 level to make that happen...

I'm not a fan of asking for money, even for charitable causes. And when you do more than one of these types of events per year, in support of multiple organizations, these fundraising requirements add up very quickly. I understand there are costs associated with these events, but isn't that what the registration fee helps cover?

I know I'm not alone in these thoughts, as I've had this conversation with a number of PWDs, both locally and online.

Wanting to let ADA know about my concerns, I reached out to the national organization and heard back from from Nicole Preston, managing director of special events for the ADA's home office. She told me by email:
We have considered the question of the minimum and have tried different methods. Our national standard for all Tours will be $200 in 2014, with a couple that are higher (Napa Valley at $225 , the National Capital Tour at $250, and the multi-day New England Classic Tour at $800+ being very unique.) This amount should not be prohibitive for most—participants should ask friends, family and coworkers for donations, not pay this amount. Many individuals and teams hold fundraisers to reach their total. 
Each Tour de Cure event covers up to one 100 miles or more, and requires some level of expense to ensure a safe route for our participants. The event registration fee goes toward these important route support costs, including route marking, rest stops, safety vehicles, local police presence, etc. The fundraising minimum ensures that everyone who participates makes the effort to raise the critical dollars needed to fund our mission to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Without the fundraising minimum, we simply could not provide the required level of commitment to our ongoing research, support and education programs that people with diabetes and their families rely on across the country. 
We provide many resources to help participants make fundraising easy every step of the way: personal web pages, fundraising guides, mobile and Facebook apps, online tutorials, help from local staff and more. Many people who were apprehensive about meeting the minimum have found that the tools made it much easier than they expected, and were able to focus on training for a great ride! We also offer another outstanding event, Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes, that does not have a registration fee or a fundraising minimum, so everyone can participate and fund raise for the amount of their choosing.

I'll admit, she has a point. I did think the tools offered were helpful. But still, I think she's wrong to say it's not cost-prohibitive when you're hoping to include more than one participant per family -- particularly if that includes kids, who depend on the parents to raise all the funds.

To me, it seems like requiring a higher registration fee and then making donations optional would be a better way to set this up. Plus, think of all the additional people you'd likely get out there riding, simply because the fundraising bar was less daunting!

Still, the experience of doing this for the first time is something I'll never regret. But honestly, if my wife and I both wanted to participate next year, we'd be forced to come up with $400 on top of the registration fees. Not something we want to take on -- so the ADA ends up getting nothing from us as a result. Bummer for everyone, right?

Opinions may vary, so it'd be great to hear what you all think about the fundraising quandary.

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This post was originally written by Mike Hoskins and published at DiabetesMine on June 13, 2013. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To The Hospital Coffee Shop Woman

Dear Woman Who Served Me Coffee Twice Between the Hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.
(as I was staying overnight with a loved one in a Michigan hospital):

Thank you for responding to my knock knock knock on the glass door to the coffee shop, and opening the glass door at 4:12 a.m. even though you'd closed at 4 a.m.

Thank you for not freaking out when I apologized for bothering you when closed, but that I was a type 1 diabetic who needed some juice.

Thank you for not questioning why I didn't have more than 4 glucose tabs and a protein bar with me while staying overnight...

Thanks for listening patiently as I described my plight while Low, which basically boiled down to me not wanting to risk wandering the late-night/early morning hospital wings in search of a group of vending machines that no one seemed to believe actually exist.

Thank you for letting me in to grab one of the bottles of apple juice, and refusing to accept the $2 that I offered you for the $1.69 bottle of blood sugar booster.

And as I sit here now, after consuming the entire apple juice and confident my blood sugars are within safe range, I just wanted to say thank you and share my appreciation with the online world.

Thank you for the kindness, Hospital Coffee Shop Woman. I look forward to seeing you at 6 a.m. once your doors officially open for the morning, and purchasing a steaming cup of java.


Random Diabetic Wandering the Hospital While Low

Friday, May 31, 2013

Getting Into Tip-Top Red Rider Shape

As I've shared in the past few months, I've been training for my first-ever Tour de Cure that takes place on June 8.

Along with an expected turnout of several thousand others, I'll be starting out on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will journey around a 31-mile area on the western edge of Indianapolis before ending up at the 2.5-mile track where the Indy 500 just took place.

I've registered for the 50k (the shortest possible option), and my route is supposed to take about 2.5 hours if I go the minimum 6 mph they say I should. I'm planning to take it slow but steady, and finish the ride before my legs fall off and I crumble to the ground in a rest-craving ball of flesh. In other words, this is going to be a major physical challenge for me.

My two-wheel of choice: the black, 12-speed Huffy mountain bike that I've had for about 15 years. Older ride, but it does the job just fine! We have cleaned it up, bought new tires and tubes, found a bike pedometer and water bottle and a new blue and gray helmet for me to wear to look and feel the part. That's been great during the neighborhood rides and personal training sessions I've been doing.

I'm excited to be a Red Rider, and am raising the appropriate amount of money that will allow me to wear that red shirt proclaiming my stance along with the best of them out on the track! Hey, it's all in the name of getting some much-needed exercise -- and raising money for the cause, of course.

Appropriately, May has marked National Bike Month, so I'm trailing that trend by writing about this now... especially as it relates to those of us with diabetes focusing on our strengths and weaknesses:

When it comes to diabetes, whether you're the PWD or the caregiver, you are STRONG. After all, you deal with this disease every day! And most of us don't always give ourselves the credit we deserve, although we may be quick to point out when we aren't so strong. With that in mind, it's time to give ourselves credit for our strengths. And also to share the things we may not be so great at. What do you consider to be your Diabetes Strengths? 
What do you think are your Diabetes Weaknesses?

Reflecting on this theme, I like to think that getting back on my bike has made me a little stronger lately, not only in my leg muscles but also in my desire to be healthier and overall manage my diabetes more diligently. And it's made me realize, once again, one of my most persistent weaknesses in terms of D-Management.

By far, my biggest D-Weakness has long been and continues to be willpower. I am really not a fan of exercise of any kind, especially when I feel like I "have to do it" as part of my D-Management routine.

Sometimes I really just don't wanna go out and train or get the simplest of exercise. I put it off way too long and am not as in-shape as I should be, even now, just a week or so before my Tour ride. I've been walking a lot more lately, but have been trying to focus on the bike riding as much as possible.

Getting up the initial motivation and energy to "just do it" and go outside and get on my bike is the biggest challenge, and it's what I fall victim to more times than I should in being lazy. But, like everything in the world of diabetes, it's a work in progress and I am getting better. Little by little, ride by ride. And that makes me proud.

So, on to my strengths...
  • My legs have gotten stronger, even if they had to get a little sore in the process.
  • My ability to juggle diabetes supplies and maneuver blood sugar checks while seated and riding my bike has become a new talent that I don't ever recall experiencing before. I bought a couple of bicycle shirts that have a slim little pocket or two on the back, so I can put my OneTouch Ultra Mini, vial of strips and finger-poker in there for easy access.
  • Yes, it should be considered a strength to wear a bicycle helmet.
  • I have started mastering the impact my rides are having on blood sugars. I know that when I ride for 30 minutes or longer, usually more than just around the neighborhood with a consistent streak of hardcore pedaling, I am going to see my blood sugars drop. When I started my training in April, my rides were shorter and my blood sugars were usually in the high 100s or 200s and didn't drop too much. But when I got to training more consistently, and also started weaving longer stretches in, I'd see at least a 50-point drop over the course of the hour after my ride. And it would usually last a few hours afterward.
  • On the more intense rides, I'd see that "super-charging effect" where my blood sugars would be steady mid-range throughout the rest of the day and evening. And that just makes you want to keep up the exercise, and stay in that range as much possible and not slack.
All of this has meant that my meter average has dropped from the low 200s where it had been hovering, to the 163-mark as of the final week of the month (this is huge for me!).

Bottom line?

I feel like I can do anything. Cue me, feeling all accomplished.

For out-of-shape me who hadn't ridden his bike very much during the past few years before this Spring, I am quite proud and am just happy to be sticking with it and slowly working myself into better shape. And D-Management.

Of course, I have to be realistic about what I am going to accomplish once I get out there. No matter how much I might feel in control, there's a limit and I'll need to learn what that is.

btw, this won't be my first diabetes fundraising ride.

Back in 1985 or so, I took part in a JDRF Ride/Walk around the GM Tech Center in Metro Detroit. It was just after my diagnosis. I was 5 years old, and had training wheels on my little red bike.

To raise money, my dad told his office colleagues about my bike ride and they all thought it was cute, so they offered to donate $25 per mile... thinking, of course, that the little tyke would ride around in a couple of circles and be done. Well, I showed them! I rode what felt like endlessly around the track, wracked up several miles, and got them all to fork over waaaaay more money than anyone expected. Hah!

That kind of strength to "just keep riding" is what I'm hoping to channel in my upcoming Tour de Cure ride.

Overpowering my desire to rest will be the biggest challenge, but I know it's possible and I just have to set my mind to it.

One pedal push at a time.

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This post written by Mike Hoskins originally published at DiabetesMine on May 31, 2013.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

D-Blog Week: Ideal Diabetes Service Animal

Well, here we are - my first post for Diabetes Blog Week to run over here at The Corner Booth.

Don't worry, I haven't been slacking. At least not completely.

Most of my D-writing these days can be found over at DiabetesMine. You can make sure to catch some of my week's earlier posts - on a Fun Petition and Memories - over there. Plus, there's a whole slew of them (to the tune of 130+ every day!) to read, too!

Since I wanted to make sure to tackle one of the topics that we won't be featuring there, my little corner booth online seemed like a great place to post it!

So, here we go...

Diabetes Wild Kingdom Wildcard

What is the ideal diabetes service animal? Think beyond the obvious and be creative in explaining why your choice is a good one. For example, maybe a seal would make a good service animal - it flaps its flippers and barks every time you get a good blood sugar reading! (Thanks to Tristan of Based on a True Story for this topic suggestion.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Has Sprung For Exercise

You might say I'm excited about exercise these days.

That could very possibly be an understatement.

Not in many years have I had an exercise routine like I am currently embracing, one that I'm actually keeping up with for the most part. Perhaps it's a symptom of the seasonal stars realigning for Spring, or maybe a guilty response to the realization that I'm so totally out of shape -- and how the mirror keeps reminding me of this. Whatever the reason, I am more of an exercise fanatic than I can recall since my teen years!

Yes, this fitness inspiration is a relatively new phenomenon for me.

But don't think I haven't thought a lot about it before. I've made those symbolic vows every New Year's, dating back a decade, to "do better" and stay more fit. Back in high school, I played sports and competitively swam -- so being lean and in shape was just the norm. As it happens, life rolled on and my college years and adult life trajectory led me away from regular exercise.

When my wife and I adopted our Riley Dog about six years ago, that was a renewed push for daily walking. But it still only happened occasionally. And when I started here at the 'Mine a year ago and began working from home, there were some additional breaks scattered throughout the day that took me O-U-T-S-I-D-E to walk the dog. But, even then it wasn't a "regular thing."

Not until now. Maybe it's the weather, or I am just inspired by Frank Sinatra's verses that "Spring has Sprung" and I've got exercise "under my thumb."

For the past month, I've consistently walked the dog at least once a day -- missing only a handful of days because of poor weather or just not being able to sneak away. Honestly, it just helps you feel better to be outside moving around. But more than that, I have put on some pounds in the stomach recently that I'd like to lose. And feeling so out of shape just isn't a comfortable feeling...

So I've put on my walking shoes to take Riley for a stroll day after day. At least around the block for about 15 minutes, but often more around the larger perimeter of our neighborhood or even into the nearby downtown area. We have also taken her out a few times to the nearby city park, enjoying the community and taking advantage of the citywide trail system.

Just this past weekend, we took Riley to the annual Indianapolis Mutt Strut (our 4th time attending) around the two-and-a-half mile Motor Speedway, where the Indy 500 race happens. We didn't participate last year, so it was great to be back involved in this fast-paced group walk again and get some nice exercise outside with a bunch of fellow dog enthusiasts. Of course, that longer-than-usual walk led to not only a 54 mg/dL glucose level immediately after, but it also gave me a whopping blister on my right heel. So, my walking-routine may be off for a few days... darn!

But in general, my walks aren't fast-paced or intense, so I'm not breaking much of a sweat and certainly not causing blisters. Oh, and I am definitely not seeing my blood sugars dropping in any extreme way.

That's where my new biking routine comes in. I'm excited to have finally filled up my oft-deflated bike tires (after years of vowing to do this), and be pushing myself to get more intense #sweatbetes sessions into my routine. Surprisingly I haven't had any low blood sugars that have stopped me from exercising. And they say you're not supposed to exercise if you're blood sugar is above 250 mg/dL -- but that hasn't stopped me, either. Yes, I've exercised when running high. I am not in the practice of chasing my numbers and expecting any immediate dip as a result of exercise. That's not what this is all about, although it may eventually have that effect anyhow. This whole routine is about getting outside, feeling better and just getting myself into better shape. Not to tame my diabetes per se.

Still, there is a "super-charging" effect I have noticed hours after a longer and intense ride. My friend and fellow D-Peep Scott Johnson has written about this before, and I echo exactly what he's observed: that it seems the exercise keeps the insulin's effect cranking hours after I've finished the activity, and drops me down lower than usual.

At this point, I've not weaved my exercise into my blood sugar and diabetes data logging. But that's a recommendation that other type 1 exercisers often give, to take notes so that you know what impact the routine's having on your body but also to just keep track. This is something I'm going to start doing -- a new resolution! Do I have a goal? Not specifically... just to maintain the routine, get in better shape, and to have fun with whatever the exercise activity may be.

So far, walking and biking are the two main activities in my newfound zeal for exercise. I have mulled over getting back into the habit of frequenting the local city pool, as back in my teen years I was a decent swimmer for four years on the school team. But my ability to swim has all but faded away since then, and right now I can't get past the fear that I would probably sink like a stone if I tried to set foot in the water. So maybe not, at least not yet. I'm also thinking about hitting the gym at some point, maybe a couple of times a week, to bring all of this into my life even more.

All of that is to be determined, though, and for now I think it's important to simply keep up the enthusiasm for the activities I'm already committed to.

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This post written by Mike Hoskins originally published at DiabetesMine on April 30,  2013