Monday, January 30, 2017

Remembering Mary Tyler Moore

Goodbye, Mary Tyler Moore.

Our Diabetes Community is mourning the loss of a legendary type 1 champion who changed the world of advocacy, awareness, and research-funding for T1D.

Mary Tyler Moore died on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at age 80 of pneumonia, with her family by her side, according to media reports.

She made an impact worldwide through her TV acting career, most famously on the Dick Van Dyke Show and then her namesake Mary Tyler Moore in the 1970s. For those of us in the D-Community, her tireless advocacy work changed the landscape on what the public knew about diabetes, and the money raised for research for better treatments and a cure.

Diagnosed at age 33 back in 1970, Mary entered the D-Community the same year her namesake show was launched, as well as the same year the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDF) was founded. Aside from the glass ceilings she shattered for women in those days, she broke through many diabetes stereotypes -- from being diagnosed as an adult with what was then commonly known as "juvenile diabetes," to not presenting the face of a "textbook diabetic" struggling with her disease. Rather, she showed the world that PWDs (people with diabetes) could succeed and live a full life, without diabetes stopping them from achieving their dreams.

Of course, many of us knew her as the face of diabetes growing up -- she was certainly the only celebrity I was aware of living with and talking openly about type 1. It was a time before celebrities did that as commonly as they do know, and Mary certainly set the stage for all who'd follow.

She became international chairman of the JDF in 1984 (the year I was diagnosed!), and I vividly recall seeing the JDF commercials in which she invited people to call the organization's offices and get involved. Most recently, she appeared in the "What Does Hope Look Like?" ad campaign.

Through the years, she helped raise millions in research funding and chaired the Children's Congress from its inception in 1999, and her book "Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah Diabetes" is included in the JDRF's T1D Care Kit resource for newly diagnosed adults. A decade ago in 2007, Mary won the JDRF's Humanitarian of the Year Award.

"Mary Tyler Moore’s legacy is that of a woman who tirelessly committed herself to helping the millions with T1D," the JDRF said in a statement. "Our country has lost an advocate, a hero and a woman who 'turned the world on with her smile' both on and off screen."

Within a day of her passing, the JDRF also set up a micro-site page honoring Mary, and giving our D-Community a place to share stories and tributes to her online. You can find that at, associated with the "Moore Forever" campaign that several local chapters started in 2012 after Mary received the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award for her TV and film career.

Mary is survived by her husband of 33 years, Dr. Robert Levine, who's also been intimately involved with the JDRF through the years, serving multiple terms on the group's international board, chairing various committees through the years, and helping to develop JDRF’s advocacy strategy, brand initiatives, research program design, and online diabetes support team.

JDRF Colleagues Remember

In the days following Mary's death, many have been sharing thoughts, memories, and condolences.

We spoke with D-Mom Lee Ducat, who co-founded the JDF back in 1970 and worked closely with Mary Tyler Moore through the years. In fact, it was Ducat who first recruited Mary to get involved in the JDF. She remembers the she couldn't snag a meeting with Mary after cold-calling the actresses' agent. But finally after pressing, Ducat was able to get an hour with Mary at a fancy New York restaurant one day for lunch.

"She was exactly as she was on television -- so smart, nice, and beautiful in person... and so very talented, just lighting up the room," Ducat says.

The young actress wasn't eager to sign on with the JDF at first, Ducat recalls. Celebrities weren't vocal about their ailments and challenges the way many are these days, and certainly there weren't many out there in the public eye in the early 80s.

"She had never worked as an advocate for diabetes or another disease before, and was worried it might hurt her image and career," Ducat said. "But she listened, and by the end of lunch we'd become good friends and she agreed to be an advocate for JDF. We were so very lucky to have her, and I am very grateful for having met her and been able to work with her."

As history now shows, getting Mary on board made an incredible difference and changed the way the world saw diabetes.

"My thinking was that celebrities could make a big impact on funding for research and helping to raise awareness with the general public," Ducat said. "We were young and just starting out, and I thought having her on board could help us focus the country on diabetes and make our diabetes community stronger, and create a whole new line of revenue for research."

The impact of Mary's involvement -- as well as other celebs, by then -- most certainly made a direct impact on research development, in getting continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) covered by insurers, and in numerous other advocacy and awareness-raising efforts.

D-Dad Jeffrey Brewer, who headed JDRF before founding the closed loop startup Bigfoot Biomedical, worked with Mary during his time in the early 2000s. He tells us:

"Mary's openness about her life with T1D educated the world about a little understood disease. Mary's advocacy on behalf of all those affected with T1D has surely accelerated us all along the path to a cure and made possible many of today's advances. My thoughts are with her family."

The Diabetes Community Pays Tribute

With all the D-Community responses published about Mary, some statements stand out:

"My heart is not just heavy, it is cracking. Mary Tyler Moore is not just an icon but a fighter. And she fought so hard to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes and JDRF. Growing up she is who I was always told about when someone wanted to inspire me and say life would be okay -- just look at Mary Tyler Moore!"

"I was diagnosed in 1970 and knew no one who had diabetes. When I found out that Mary Tyler Moore also had diabetes, it was like a whole new world opened up for me. If she could do all that she did (act, sing, dance), so could I... Mary could and did do it all. And on top of all the diabetes stuff, she was a woman making it on her own. Wow! I loved her! So sorry to hear she's gone but I won't forget her, ever. And I think every young woman in America should watch her show, so they know they can make it on their own!"

"I remember the day I was diagnosed with T1D, in 2012. I didn't know much about it at that point but I knew the world as I knew it was ending. The CDE told me 'Mary Tyler Moore has had type 1 diabetes forever and she's doing just fine.' I had no idea that was the case! I found so much comfort in knowing this beautiful woman who I'd been aware of my whole life had been able to make it through this, maybe I could too. A hand in life well-played. RIP Mary."

"I am heartbroken!! I so wish my mother were still here because she would totally understand exactly what I am feeling as she first told me about MTM's diabetes this starting my lifelong connection with her! Rest In Peace Mary... you are and always will be my diabetes champion!"

"My first memory after waking up from my DKA coma was to my mom watching the Mary Tyler Moore show on Nick at Nite in my hospital room. I didn't know what diabetes was, or that I had it, but my mom said Mary Tyler Moore had diabetes too and that she never let it stop her. I'll never forget that. Thank you MTM for being such a wonderful advocate and role model for us all, especially T1Ders."

On this site, I echo the sentiments and want to simply say THANK YOU for everything you've done for us over the years, Mary. We in this community promise to remember you, and do our best to continue your legacy!

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This was originally written by Mike Hoskins and published on DiabetesMine on January 30, 2017.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Weird Diabetes Dreams

I'm no stranger to having crazy dreams that tie in with diabetes, sometimes in wicked weird and scary ways.

A number of years ago, I recall dreaming that I was buried alive in a coffin and trying to escape when suddenly, a scary hybrid-freak spider appeared -- complete with infusion set spider legs!

(Thanks again to Chris Sparling, a brilliant writer who has provided a number of nightmares through the years...)

Anyhow, my most recent D-dream involved what seemed at first just an every-day happening gone awry.

No memory remains of what the entirety of the dream was about, or how I ended up in the particular moment that I did. But the brunt of what I'm writing about involved me standing in front of a bathroom mirror, probably in the evening post-dinner hours. Apparently, I had eaten a salad with spinach in it with my dinner.

And as sometimes happens, a tiny little piece of that spinach snuggled itself into my gumline in my front teeth.

No big deal, right?

Well, as I stood there brushing and flossing, the spinach didn't budge. Instead, it stayed securely where it was. I used my toothbrush to target that spot specifically, and the spinach instinctively acted like a turtle and hid itself further into my gum. Almost disappearing.

I decided to just slide it out with the tip of my finger, since there apparently weren't any toothpicks in this particular dream, and that worked...

But when I removed the piece it was no longer a piece of spinach -- it was a blood test strip!!!!

Image... THIS 


And then, I noticed other "pieces of spinach" were lodged into the roof of my gum line.

And one by one, out came the test strips.

Then I woke up.

Shuddering, with the images fresh in my mind, I went about my morning routine a bit freaked out. And now, I can't do a BG check without getting a little unnerved.

What does it all mean?

Well, I'm no dream expert, but maybe it is related to the fact that I haven't been checking by fingerstick lately and my subconscious is trying to give me a nudge? Or, it happened to coincide with the early morning Dawn Phenom hours and my BG was starting to spike? Possibly, it was related to the fact that I've procrastinated on getting a couple tooth implants for extractions done close to a year ago...?

Who the heck knows.

Maybe it's time to motivate myself to do better on checking my BGs, even when wearing my CGM. And maybe I should also go see the dentist. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Attention all Time Travelers in 2017

This is a cautionary note to anyone who happens to be time-traveling to, from or during 2017...

Sorry to say, Time Traveling Explorers, this is real. Yep, it's not a joke. 

Even though the Chicago Cubs seriously did win the 2016 World Series (not kidding), this too is also a part of our current reality.

While many joke about this being a plot from reality TV, and it's really not far off... this is not a scripted make-believe item. This is not #FakeNews (which is a thing all in itself at this period in time).


For your own protection and sanity, it's probably best if you just avoid the years 2016-2020 and check back on the state of the world (assuming it's still around) after that.

Make sure to be careful, too -- wouldn't want you to land back here in an even more wicked-whacked future to find some crazy Back to the Future 2 alternative timeline where bullying billionaire Biff Tannen lives in a casino resort tower and is in charge despite being a womanizing, narcissistic, vulgar... (oh wait, never mind.)

😟😞 (((Sad, emotional computer icon known as an emoji...)))

Just be careful, people. Please consider undoing whatever you might have done in the past to screw up our present.

As always, go in peace and love.

And if you happen to go back to before 2016, please passs along a big THANK YOU to all of the presidents and let them know they're truly missed here in 2017.

(btw: Do you have any extra seats on your time traveling vehicle... could I buy you a beer and possibly persuade you to take me along?)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Holiday Blahs: On Being Sick with Diabetes

Some of you may know from following us on social media that I've been under the weather over the holidays. Yuck!

For the past month, I've had a cold and persistent cough that have been messing with my diabetes management.

With it being the start of a new year, this of course has meant that any resolutions for getting my blood sugars more in range and "starting off on the right foot" have been back-burnered.

The slot for that endo appointment I had scheduled for the first week of January came and went, pushed back until February when hopefully all signs of this "real person sickness" (on top of D) will vanish. But in the meantime, it's been a matter of dealing with higher BGs, ineffective Afrezza use thanks to my incapability of not coughing while trying to inhale, and just a rundown, lack of D-motivation mood overall. Blah...

I hope you don't mind me venting, but I know we gall go through this stuff, and the myriad of formal "How to Take Care of Diabetes When You're Sick" to-do lists just bum me out.

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Luckily, this isn't a stomach flu or anything more nasty that I've heard is going around, likely thanks to the very important seasonal flu shot I had in the Fall.

But even a run-of-the-mill winter cold can mess with your diabetes pretty badly if you're not careful. My primary care physician told me not to worry, that I didn't particularly need any steroids or special meds at this point, but just to rest and keep hydrated to boost my immune system, while watching my BG levels closely.

So I've been drinking green tea and consuming soup, and generally hold-up indoors to avoid the Midwest Polar Freeze as much as possible.

Of course, all the Sick Day Lists say you are supposed to:

  • Check your blood glucose levels at least four times a day - Check! Of course, I always do that
  • Keep taking your meds, even if you can’t eat - Check! 
  • If you can’t eat usual foods, try saltine crackers, dry toast, soup, ice pops or sherbet, etc. - Check! (see below, re: Food)
  • Drink at least 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of water or other calorie-free, caffeine-free liquid every hour while you’re awake - Check, check, check! Can you say 'holiday bloating'?
  • And call your doctor right away if you(r): BG levels are above 240 even with meds; urine or blood ketone levels are above normal; vomit more than once; have diarrhea for more than 6 hoursl have trouble breathing; have a high fever; can’t think clearly or you feel more drowsy than usual
Check, check, check, check! All common sense if you ask me.

Higher BGs, Less Gear

Not surprisingly, my BG readings have been running high -- often above 180 mg/dL, even with an increased basal amount of Tresiba on board.

It was kind of unfortunate timing that I've been taking a holiday break from wearing my CGM, so I haven't been able to see the daily ups and downs in real-time like usual.

On top of that, I've not been using an insulin pump for the past months, so can't just crank up a Temp Basal like I would have with that device. In general, I've been happy handling my diabetes via Multiple Daily Dosing (MDD) using Afrezza and a pen needle throughout the day. But without the CGM+pump gear this period of higher BGs is a little trickier.

But this isn't unexpected, as I've been sick before, and I do know how to handle things. It's also not a time to panic, as I have to remind myself this is only a short-term fight.
Afrezza vs. Illness

Yes, my use of Afrezza has been impacted by this sickness. It's not difficult to imagine that if you're plagued with a cough, then it's tough to smoothly inhale powder into your throat (which then causes more coughing). A number of times over the past month when I tried to inhale an Afrezza cartridge, I just couldn't hold back the cough and ended up spewing an Afrezza cloud into the atmosphere.

So I stopped using it for the latter half of December and early January and mostly stuck to my NovoLog and Tresiba injections.

A fellow Afrezza user did offer a tip, though: Take a sip of something (like water or tea) just before inhaling, inhale the Afrezza, and then hold your breath for a minute or so. After my heaviest period of coughing fits passed, this actually did start working, so I've been using this technique for the past week or so with pretty good success.

The bonus: Hey, I won't be running out of Afrezza supplies in January! See, there are silver linings everywhere, even when we're sick ;)

I miss it.

Fortunately I suppose, I've not been as hungry as normal, so the higher BGs and lack of Afrezza dosing have been balanced out a bit by my lack of interest in eating. Still, you can't not eat for very long, and there have been a few moments when I've felt like I'm starving (despite my illness-saturated blood still showing elevated BGs) yet I decided to forgo the food in the interest of keeping my BGs as level as possible.

Did I mention tea and soup?

Yeah... I'm pretty done with all this about now.

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This post by Mike Hoskins was originally published on DiabetesMine in January 2017.