Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What I Loved and Feared About Nightscout From the Start

I have to be honest, Nightscout is awesome.

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

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

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

Nightscout is awesome... when it works.


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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Once Upon a Blood Sugar...

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

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

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

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

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

What changed?

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

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

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

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

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

And that's very exhausting.

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

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

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


Monday, November 3, 2014

Best of the Betes Blogs: October 2014


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

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

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

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


(Drum roll, please...)




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, that's the DOC wrap for October.

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



Replace all [ ] with < >. [div align="center"][a href="http://www.bestofthebetesblogs.com" target="_blank"][img src="http://momentsofwonderful.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/bbblogo-final-e1309479808835.png"][/a][/div]


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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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


Hey, friends!

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

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

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

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

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

For more information check out this link: http://momentsofwonderful.com/best-of-the-betes-blogs/a-history-of-best-of-the-betes-blogs/.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Clarity (of the Plastic Persuasian)


A pair of new plastic holsters for my insulin pump just arrived by brown truck.

I've been wearing my MiniMed 723 Revel since March, and I took a risk and changed up my color choice for the first time in years. Going clear, instead of charcoal. Sadly, Medtronic didn't yet have one of these beloved holsters that same color so I had to stick with the old one I'd been using.

They told me the clear ones were on the way, and I've been anxiously waiting. In the meantime, my clear pump and charcoal holster have been horribly mismatched.
 


Until now.

Finally, the time's come. Two new holsters arrived earlier this week.

And now I'm happy. And see things much more clearly.






 
I'm pumping with clarity, you might say.

And they better compliment my black-to-black Dexcom G4 CGM and belt case, too.

Wait... I use the MedT pump and a Dexcom G4 CGM?! Yep, sure do. That's how I roll.


And now, I can do it with a little more clear plastic style on my waist.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When Trees Have High Glucose Levels...

Diabetes is everywhere.

Even on my vacation to Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.



We escaped from work and regular life here in Indiana for about 10 days recently, heading up across the mighty Mackinac Bridge to a place I had never been. While we stayed mostly on the eastern side of the UP and settled in Michigan's first city known as Sault Ste Marie (the Soo), we also ventured into the central UP to experience the magic of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior and other places around there.

One of the most breath-taking experiences you can find in this part of the country, aside from just the incredible history and soul-enriching water that is everywhere, is getting a glimpse of the changing colors of the Fall Foliage. The trees and the changing colors of the leaves are just... awesome.

Fall is beautiful in many places throughout the country, and I haven't personally been to places on the East Coast or more West of Michigan and Indiana to see for myself how they compare. But in my post-college years of working the state and local environmental beat for a local newspaper, I've heard many people "in the know" about those kind of things (read: tree experts and nature-observers) say Michigan's got most beat. Why's that? Simply, because of the changing temps and all the water of the fresh water from the Great Lakes that surround the state and effect the seasonal changes and trees more than most.

The trees "explode in a frenzy of color," as some describe it, like Tim Allen in this Pure Michigan ad


#PureMichigan, indeed.

But, why do the leaves change?

That's a question that I thought I knew, but realized during our trip it all goes back to long-forgotten and jumbled bits of info from 9th grade science class. And that fun little process known as photosynthesis. My memory has just enough in there to know it's all about plants and oxygen, and that all plays into why leaves change colors when the temps change outside.

But what I had forgotten (assuming I learned it at all) from back in the day was that glucose is a part of that leaf color-changing process. And yes, with diabetes more on my mind these days (hello, sometimes it feels like my whole world!), you get where my brain took that next.

"No kidding, the trees have high blood sugars and that's why the leaves change!" I may have blurted out as we drove through the UP, in response to Suzi rattling off that info she found online.

At that exact moment, I was behind the wheel and she was in the passenger seat, Googling the question "Why do leaves change colors?" thanks to a stray data connection we managed to find on that drive in the middle of the UP.

"Diabetes is everywhere... I just can't escape it!" may have been what came from my mouth next.
  
I could feel her eyes rolling from the passenger seat.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Restless Sleeping

I love sleep.

Even if I don't get enough of it by my own doing, closing my eyes and letting my mind drift off into dreamland is a good feeling.


But lately, my sleep has been a little restless.

Not in the way where my mind's working endlessly and reluctant to calm down, but rather my body has a mind of its own. I come to bed, but can't sleep because my foot is itching or even a little painful. Same with my leg, and I sometimes need to wiggle it or even let out a sort of kick to tide it over. These past number of days, that's been happening with my arms.


Of course, this all frustrates Suzi and prompts her to tell me to "Stop Wiggling" next to her.

I'm afraid that neuropathy and diabetes complications are weaving their way back into my sleep routine, and causing me to fidget and not sleep. And inevitably, I find myself thinking it's just easier to go sleep in the other room or on the couch.

This has been off and off for more than a decade now. I remember the most severe and life-impacting time was in 2005, just about the time we walked down the aisle. At that point, there were shooting pains and a constant ache in my toes, feet and legs.

That was neuropathy.

And it's what ultimately led me to going online in search of "real stories," not the textbook warnings and advice from medical professionals who were just saying "do better and keep your blood sugars under control." No, I wanted to find those people who were also living with diabetes, and telling me real stories about how to deal with these foot pains in real life -- when you're sleeping next to your loved one, or how to sit at your desk at work and not get too distracted by the pain. Or when you have to stand up and walk around every few minutes as a result.

That's what I was looking for, and search engines eventually connected me with Kerri, Scott Johnson, and George; and others like Amy, Christel and Scott Strumello who were telling real stories and even keeping an eye on diabetes issues and not just pumping out (HA!) press releases and medical lingo that wasn't real.

Through those people and an expanding online universe that's now the DOC, I found support that I didn't even know I needed.

No, it wasn't about finding a new medication to take. Or what my A1C should be, and how to get it there. Or hearing about special socks that could help circulation, or putting my feet up with specialized pillows to help ease the pain.

That wasn't and isn't the point of the DOC, as most of us see it.

Instead, it was about hearing the "me too." Hearing the "Yes, it does suck, but it's going to be OK." And we're here, no matter what hour and without any office visit or co-pay needed. Just go to any blog, or on Twitter, or whatever channel works. And we won't judge you."

The DOC made me not feel alone, and through that I found something that no doctor or medical professional had been able to give me before -- hope. and a desire to do better.

It helped me deal with that neuropathy, because the online community brought a sense of support that I'd been missing because no one had really let me explore that psychosocial aspect of diabetes before. That helped motivate me to do better, to pay more attention to my own diabetes, and get back on the bandwagon of taking care of myself.

Of course, I also went on medication to help ease the symptoms. Getting back into better BG management was the best move, and it helped me say goodbye to that most painful neuropathy at the time. And it hasn't come back to that extent, even to this day. All of that was with the help of my doctors, but it wasn't because of them. It was because of the DOC, and that's what led me to doing better.

That is where I find myself these days.

I am restless, and my sleep is off. There is a pain in my feet, legs and now arms. And it's a bit different, not as painful, but different because times have changed and I'm a different person, a different diabetic, and in a different place than I was in 2005. And "the DOC" is different too -- certainly not in the theme of connecting and helping people feel not-so-alone, but in that there's so many people out there and it can feel... large and impersonal, sometimes.

But that's where finding those stories that mean something to you matters most, and it's what this DOC thrive. Because there are so many voices out there, that probably means you can find whatever you might need, and hopefully it helps you get to a place you need and want to be.

Whether it's neuoropathy or mental health or blood sugar checks, or whatever.

Plugging back into the DOC may not be answer anymore for me, but it could be a start. The rest? We'll just have to see how it plays out. I'm just glad to know I'm not in this by myself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Pump Sighting While Buying a Belt

It was Labor Day, and we were at the local outlet mall to buy a few items.

Hey, I needed a new belt. Or two, since I actually needed both a black and brown one for my casual and more dressy outfits. So there we were, doing some holiday shopping.

On the way to the checkout counter, I glanced at my G4 receiver. It was an hour or so after dinner, and my blood sugar was shooting upwards toward 200 and beyond. All because I'd been blurry-eyed, grumpy Low and decided not to bolus for my dinner right away. And then, I had forgotten.



And so, it was time to bolus up.

So as we walked toward the register where we'd pay for my 2 new belts, I unholstered my Medtronic 723 pump from my belt and pushed the arrow for the overdue dinner bolus.

As a result of my distraction, Suzi took the lead at the register to pay while I finished off the bolusing. And just as I holstered my pump and felt the insulin going into my body, I heard these words come at me:

"Are you a diabetic, too?!"

The cashier, a younger girl with blonde hair and glasses, asked me.

"I am!"

With that, she pulled a t:slim from underneath her shirt and proudly showed off her insulin pump that had been tucked away discretely and probably wouldn't have been noticeable had she not mentioned it or displayed it.

No, I didn't yell out #ShowMeYourPump... even though it did cross my mind. She may have no clue as to what it's all about, and the last thing I was interested in at that point was advocating or being all "in the know" as to diabetes community happenings.

Still, it was a very cool and totally random Pump Sighting in the Wild, and I'm glad she spoke up and said something. I did ask her how long she'd had the t:slim and how she liked it. Her response: About six months, and she loved it much better than the OmniPod she'd worn before that. And she said her endo was pretty excited about suggesting the Tandem device, which made me smile because I've heard how some endos do quite the opposite and push people to pumps that have had a longer life on the market.

That's all there was to it. We were done paying, and others were in line behind us waiting for Blonde Pumper and her colleague to turn attention their way. We thanked them, and moved on.

Yes, it would've been cool to chat some more and even see if she knew of any other local diabetics in the area. Or to even hand her a biz card or tell her about the Indy Adult D-Community. But I didn't, and we both went about our evenings.

No more required, but it at least brought a smile. And a sense that I wasn't alone in my local area, even in times when diabetes isn't something I'm waving around and brandishing on my sleeve.

This time around, I was glad to have gone Low, forgotten my dinner bolus, and felt the need to give myself a bolus while walking up to buy a belt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Almost Gone

Having insulin in the butter compartment (where else?) is like having a security blanket, something to keep me reassured that all will be OK if something goes wrong.

Say, if my insulin bottle is left in the direct sunlight, slips from my hand and shatters on the floor, or just happens to evaporate without my knowing. I'm reassured that there's more in the fridge.

Not at the moment.

Somehow, I forgot to call in a refill in late July. I noticed in early August, but somehow managed to forget
again to call in my refill. By the time I did last week, I was down to half a bottle.

I'm a little nervous, especially since there's been some wire-crossing between my endo and the pharmacy in restocking my supply -- no refills, so the endo has to sign and forward a new Rx, which hasn't happened despite my calls to his office and the pharmacy.

So, after a pump refill over the weekend, I am now down to probably about one more 300-unit amount (or a quarter of a vial). My sugars have been running higher these past several days and I have been correcting more and snacking more, and so it seems my insulin consumption has been even higher lately. And as I'm writing this post, my pump has started giving me the "Low Reservoir" vibration...

Better call the pharmacy to see if the script is filled yet...

I get that some people in the world have little to no access to insulin, and I've already sucked up my #FirstWorldProblem guilt and reconciled my guilty feelings with a donation to Life For a Child to help those who need it most. But in the context of where I live and how my world goes without having the entire global insulin delimma weighing on me, I feel exposed. It's like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff, and that any wrong move could put me over the edge, falling without a lifeline.

If my stock gets filled today, I am a little worried that I'll have to get more just before I head off to vacation out of state, and want to make sure I have enough insulin for that get-away to parts where a local pharmacy isn't right around the corner.

There's nothing at fault here other than my own ineptitude in ordering insulin and making sure I'm stocked up. It's just one more task in the never-ending roster of things to do, when it comes to life with diabetes.

Maybe I needed this lessson, to remember what it feels like to have that butter compartment unstocked -- at least for a bit.


Monday, August 11, 2014

A Visit To Indy and a Diabetes Meetup


It was great to meet up this past weekend with Jillian, a fellow Type 1 D-blogger (@Jianop on Twitter), who is from Denver and was visiting Indy for a conference.

Every August, Jillian comes to Indy for the annual Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships event. This time, it was several months after she'd started diabetes blogging over at Push My Buttons To Turn Me On (clever name!) and so Jillian reached out to a couple of us who live in Indy and might be around for a D-meetup.

As it turns out, both Cherise Shockley (@SweeterCherise on Twitter) and I were able to meetup with her on Saturday morning for breakfast at the highly-recommended Cafe Patachou in downtown Indy.. I had a blast, being able to see these two awesome ladies and chat for a couple hours... about everything from jobs, hobbies, diabetes tech and trends, along with the mysteries of Bob Evans, avocados, and the allure of darn good omelets and cinnamon toast.

We also talked about our interests in writing and sharing more non-diabetes, and thanks to Cherise's suggestion I'm planning to do that more often here. I love going to visit and experience new places, especially those that serve up good coffee, craft brew, or just have some interesting historical story. So, that's what will plan to explore more here -- maybe with a D-twist, but not necessarily. Thanks for the prompting, Cherise!

I also loved hearing how Jillian's been involved for 4-5 years in coordinating an Adult Type 1 group, similar to what we have here with the Indy Adult D-Community. She has a network of about 200 D-peeps (wow!), and that group meets up at bars, restaurants, or coffee shops at a set time at the end of each month -- something I think would help to do here in Indy. I'm interested in exploring how we can strengthen and expand this local D-community, and am currently working with the area educators, endos and pump reps (among others) to connect more of together. My big concern right now is how much infrastructure is needed or wanted, and whether I'm interested in putting more energy toward that. Regardless of how we move forward here in Indy, I was fascinated to hear how Jillian's been coordinating Adult Type 1 meetups for years now, and we shared stories about ways we can take some ideas back to our own local communities but also work more together. And who knows... maybe there's a place for the Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation (DCAF) to fit into all of this... such fun and exciting possibilities!

This was an awesome three-person meetup that came together thanks to Jillian's visit to Indy, and I am hoping to have the chance to see her at some point again before long... maybe at next year's Friends For Life conference or her next trip to Indy in a year.

Glad you reached out to connect and meetup, Jillian, and can't wait to keep more in touch through the DOC before the next in-person meetup chance comes our way!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Even with God On My Side, It's My Diabetes and I Own It

A friend and I were recently chatting about our mutual belief systems and how our faith guides us in our daily lives.

Diabetes was a part of the discussion, since we're both longtime Type 1s.

At one point, I made a mention of "my own diabetes" in how we describe our own Lazy Pancreas Syndrome and the particular styles we each may have in managing diabetes on a daily basis.

And that's where our religious beliefs came full-force into this diabetes discussion.

Here's what my friend told me:

"Personally, I believe that disease or any affliction is from the enemy (Satan) to kill, still or destroy (John 10:10). I believe once we 'claim' the affliction then we’ve made it easy for the enemy. "

This is what she was quoting:



Huh... interesting. Wasn't quite what I was expecting when that all came up.

Anyhow, I let my mind chew on that for awhile.

Now, I'm a Christian. Grew up on the. Protestant Lutheran persuasion in. The background, but never really had much exposure to the church except those holidays and special ceremonial moments. Almost a decade ago is when I came into the Methodist line thanks to my wife's family and the church where we married, and since then we've explored a few different church homes but found one we're most comfortable with that has the "United Methodist" in its name.

It's at that point in my life that I opened up a Bible to actually read, for the first time in my life. Since then, I turn to it quite often in reflecting on many different aspects of life -- including diabetes and how I live with it. I'm by no means a person who can quote Scripture and it may not be a dominant part of my conversation, but I like to think it guides me in good times and bad. Like many, we don't make it to church as often as we should and I certainly fall out of my Bible-reading and prayer routines way too often.

With all of that said, this D-chat got me flipping through my Bible verses once again and really reflecting on what I believe, as far as health goes. It also came up in conversation with a few other religiously-minded people in my life, and we all shared our varying views on the topic.

Good conversation all around, and it gave me some new perspectives to consider.

I am not going to say my friend's beliefs are wrong, because they aren't. Each person is entitled to believe what they want and feel how they do. I find the interpretation of John 10:10 and how it influences healthy living to be a very interesting one.

But I'm not sure I see it the same way as my friend.

For me, when I say "my diabetes," that to me is the equivalent of "claiming" diabetes as my own. That's exactly what I want to be doing.

Type 1 for me is not the same as it is for anyone else. As the saying goes: Your Diabetes May Vary.

More than that, I want to embrace my diabetes. Because that means I am accepting and doing all that I can to manage it and stay healthy, using whatever practical or Biblical beliefs I may need to use.

The way I look at it, I could almost see type 1 being a test bestowed by God.

"They" say that God only gives you what you're strongest enough to deal with, and so type 1 could easily be viewed on that same note. If we want to go all religious on the topic, look at it this way: God gave me type 1 diabetes, which brings a whole bunch of uncertainty and challenge. At times, it makes me question my purpose and how I live. But it makes me a better person, allowing me to not only help myself and be more healthy but also to reach out and help others who might need it. With all of that, it's a matter of free will, and I can embrace His word and listen to his teachings to be the best diabetic I can, or I can choose to not listen and go down the road of less-than-healthy and thinking only about myself.

On a practical note, I choose to claim my diabetes because it doesn't own me (most of the time); I own it. I'm the one who has the power and makes the decisions to manage as I should.

Just like I'm not blindly following my doctor without having a dialogue and offering my own thoughts, and using that doc's advice as I need to in my diabetes management, it's the same way I see God in my life. I listen (or don't listen), and choose to either follow my teachings and use the tools and knowledge I'm given in the best way I know how.

By owning my D, I don't see it as "giving the devil a foothold." Instead, I think you can pray for good health and ask God to grant you health. But at the end of the day, His purposes are higher than ours and what we want may not necessarily be how it's supposed to be. Our timing isn't the timing.

At times, I have faltered and that continues to be the case. Kinda like every day, to some extent. I'm sure it will be for as long as I'm on this Earth, though I certainly hope to do my best as I see it. Giving myself the ability to use the tools and knowledge I'm given is what keeps me going, and I choose to be an active participant in my life and not regard diabetes as a passive force that owns me.

To each their own, of course. And that's my food for thought today.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That One Time, On the Golf Course

Several years ago, a friend and I were playing golf one day. It was just the two of us and it wasn't particularly busy that morning, so we thought maybe we'd be sneak on without being paired up with another two-some.

Not the case.

We ended up with another two guys who weren't anything to write home about as far as golfing skill, and they seemed a little self-absorbed and unwilling to engage in just casual chat. So, we went about our golf game and maintained pleasant attitudes toward our fellow golfers.

Per my usual golfing routine I was wearing khacki pants with a tucked in polo shirt. And so, my insulin pump was clipped on to my belt as it usually is. This was a number of years ago, and at the time I wasn't wearing a CGM so my pump was the only diabetes device I had on me.

That's when it happened out of nowhere, on one of the later holes.

As I stood behind the tee watching my friend make his drive, one of the random-golfers was off studying his clubs on the golf cart while the other stood next to me quietly.

Once my friend finished at the tee, the guy next to me opened his mouth and asked a question that's since been burned into my mind.


Yes, that's what he asked. Just glanced up and probably saw it clipped to my waist, and asked... his tone, from what I remember, was casual, innocent, just genuinely curious.

And how did I respond?

"Yes, it is."

And that was it. Flat response, short and to the point without more than a quick glance in his direction before I turned my eyes back to the tee and walked up to take my drive. Maybe an a look that said, "leave it alone, dude, that's not what I want to be talking about today, or with you."

No clue why he was asking -- was he living with diabetes? Or had a family member, friend, or co-worker with diabetes? Did he have an insulin pump, or was he curious about getting one? Or maybe he just wanted to know more...

Whatever, the reason, I glossed over it. I had no interest in talking diabetes, and was simply out there on the course that day to play golf -- not to talk about diabetes. And so, I basically acted like an asshat to this guy asking about my pump.

I regret that now.

That moment was a big #FAIL on my part, as I see it now.

Actually, this isn't the first time I've thought about that and regretted my attitude. A few years ago, this came up during D-Blog Week when I mentioned it in this post.

But recently, Kerri wrote a post over at Sixuntilme that brought this back to mind. She wrote about "Unexpected Advocacy," how she was in that same kind of mindset when taking her daughter to the swimming pool and getting a question from someone there. Though unexpected, she ended up advocating.

That's the same point playing out now with Miss Idaho, a fellow type 1 named Sierra Sandison who decided to wear her t:slim insulin pump during the competition and (ultimately) her Miss Idaho crowning. Now, she's on the road to being the next Miss America. And through all of that, the social media campaign #ShowMeYourPump is getting mass attention and inspiring so many. Raising awareness about insulin pumps and diabetes in general, aside from giving little girls and probably many others more confidence in how they wear their own diabetes devices.

And then there's another example... a local Indy D-peep who just joined our local D-Community thanks to a friend who was at the bar and happened to be wearing his OmniPod on the arm that night. That Pod sighting made the woman's husband push her to go talk to my friend about how he liked that patch-pump, and from there he told her about the local meetups and group and encouraged her to join up. She has, and is getting a pretty great welcome from those in our local community.

It's all pretty awesome and makes me smile. But still, it makes me think back and regret even more my past Golf Course attitude once again. I really wish I could go back in time to talk more with this Golf Mate -- to at least find out the context of the question and who was asking.

We're not always in the mood to talk D, obviously. And we shouldn't have to be. Yes, sometimes we do want to #ShowMeYourPump. But sometimes we don't and that's OK. There's probably no right or wrong answer or approach, it's totally up to the individual person.

For me, I will take this train of thought with me onto all the future golf courses I play, along with coffee shops and restaurants where you never know who might be looking for a little advocacy or connection to make a difference -- even if they or you don't realize it at the time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Diabetes Blogging Chicken and Community

Today is #dblogcheck day... you know, the one where you leave a comment on all the diabetes blog posts you're reading. Thanks to Christopher Snider for getting the ball moving on this check-in effort, btw.

**(Oh, and hat-tip to Kerri for clearing up on Twitter recently that this wasn't #dblogcheckin, since that sounds too much like #dblogchicken... with a chicken in the crockpot last evening, I had to jump on that.




Yes, the D-blogging chicken did get to pose for a #bgnow Tweet. But sadly, the chicken is no longer online post-dinner. I must say, he did go well with some white wine and rice at dinner last night. So, props to you, DOC Chicken.)**

OK, silliness aside.

Honestly, I wasn't going to post anything today. There's a lot of diabetes news happening and I'm caught up in that, so really I was just going to read a small handful of D-blogs, comment on those, and go about the day's business.

And coffee... because, well... of course. How can there not be coffee?!

Anyhow, reading a post by Stephen a bit earlier changed my mind. He wrote about the power of comments and why he and others write blog posts at all. And then he delved into a bit on why he likes to comment.

I can't say it as well as he has, so I'll let you read his post to see for yourself... but the point: I'm on the same page as Stephen on why I comment. It's therapeutic, and it often helps me figure out what my thoughts are on any given topic. The same goes for writing. It's a way to process what's rambling around in my head, and that allows me to put it down on paper (or virtually) and figure out what I actually think.

Looking back through the years, I've loved all the comments and have truly been enriched by all of them. By everyone in this community. The people in this D-Community are awesome... just look at the latest happenings, with all the #ShowMeYourPump activity going on. It's great.

Oh, and here's me the other day showing off my pump, btw:



Looking back, I got curious about those initial D-blogging days and those first comments. I took a look at my first "diabetes" blog post in March 2007, when this wasn't the D-Corner Booth but only the Corner Booth. That post was about complications, for the most part. And there were only a small number of comments, but these were even more special (even now looking back) because they were my first. Of course, my mom commented. Because she's my mom. And she's a fellow Type 1 who's been at this much longer than I have, so there's that added bonus.

Then there was George! Yes, it turns out the Ninjabetic was my first comment aside from my mom, and what's even more awesome is that a couple years after that debut comment, George left another one that actually let me know about the DOC on Twitter. And that got me onto that social media channel, for the first time....

As they say, the rest is pretty much history!

There are so many diabetes blogs out there and so many great comments you can read through on all of them -- that's the best part of how this Diabetes Online Community (DOC) has grown. It comes down to the simple mantra: You Are Not Alone. I Am Not Alone.

Together, we're telling our diabetes stories. We're connecting with others, on whatever the D-topic may be. Meetups in real life are happening, and it's just about finding people who "get it" and make you feel better when it comes to diabetes. Whether it be something serious... or as light-hearted and humorous as taking pics of your Dexcom next to a crockpot chicken, all in the name of D-Community fun.

Thanks to everyone for reading, writing, commenting -- now, in the past and down the road.

You all rock.