Type 1 for Dummies

Let’s face it, we’re all dummies.  Sike!  Sidenote: I am bringing the word sike back.  It was cool in 1990 and it’s cool now.  Deal with it.

If you’re anything like me, you like the version of explanations that does not involve a lot of terms that also need explained, deeming the whole explanation needing to be re-explained.  One of the reasons I love my ophthalmologist so much (other than the fact that he wears a bow tie every day of his life) is because he explains things in such a cool way, and he helps me envision exactly what he is talking about as he is explaining what is happening inside my eyeballs.  So, when I try to explain it to others, I just use his analogies and imagery, and everybody gets it.

Explaining Type 1 is much the same. When someone asks me, “What exactly is type 1 diabetes?” I try to put it in a way that they can envision if they had to explain it.  I have to admit, even years after my diagnosis, I still couldn’t explain what it was and really didn’t have a full understanding of what was happening inside my body.  I was young and just didn’t care I guess.  I just knew it didn’t work and I had to take insulin to stay alive.  I even told my friends that I wanted to be an endocrinologist when I grew up and when one of them asked me what that was, I really had no idea, and I said it was someone who worked with the endocrine system.  So, as you can see, I’ve always had a way with words. 😉

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, type 1’s often get confused for type 2’s.  People just hear the word diabetes, and we’re all lumped together.  That is why type 1’s often get advice that is only applicable to type 2’s.  Short rant: if you don’t know the difference, are you really the one who should be doling out advice?  End rant. The truth is, they are completely different diseases that shouldn’t have the same name.  An autoimmune disease (Type 1) should not share a name with a non-autoimmune disease (Type 2).  Apples and oranges I say.

So what is an autoimmune disease?  Our immune systems are designed to defend against infections and other foreign invaders.  When there is some kind of trigger, whether genetic or environmental, our bodies go into attack mode to destroy what they perceive as the bad guys.  Think of our beta cells as Good Cop/Bad Cop from the Lego Movie.  He just has to turn his face around and he morphs into either good cop or bad cop.  In type 1 diabetes, when that “trigger” happens, our normally good cop beta cells quickly turn their faces to bad cop, and our antibodies think “look at us, destroying all the bad cop cells!” Then they break out into a rendition of “Everything is awesome…”  The trouble is, those bad cop cells weren’t bad at all, they just looked that way.  And now they are destroyed, never to be seen or heard from again.  Those perceived bad cop cells were the very cells that produce insulin, the hormone that signals different parts of our bodies to use our sugar for energy and storage.  Without it, sugar just builds up in the bloodstream and is unable to convert to needed energy.  Insulin is the most powerful hormone in our bodies, and every mammal on earth needs it to survive.  Now, if you haven’t seen the Lego Movie, then A.) this paragraph made no sense and “Everything is awesome” is not playing over and over in your head, and B.) shame on you.

So, next time someone asks you what type 1 diabetes is, I dare you to try to explain it without using Good Cop/Bad Cop.

Happy Monday everyone!  Enjoy your week before Easter and, as always, thank you all for your unwavering support 😉

What NOT to Say to a Type 1 Diabetic

Indeed, I realize I’m opening the door pretty wide here in setting myself up for hearing each and every one of these annoying comments, especially from my father-in-law who just loves to tease.  I will have to start loading up my arsenal of comebacks.

I’ve said it before, I really do try to take things in stride.  I think you have to when you live with something that can so easily steal your joy.  I try to see the humor in things and don’t get offended by every little diabetic joke.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one.  Jake has 50 snickers bars, he eats 45, what does he have now?  He has diabetes.  If you are a diabetic, you have every right to be offended.  I just personally am not.  It’s a joke, and no, Jake doesn’t have diabetes now, at least not Type 1.

When I refer to the things NOT to say to a T1D, it’s not about jokes or getting a laugh.  I can certainly take a joke about myself and have in fact made fun of myself because, let’s face it, I can be super clumsy and just do dumb stuff that’s hard not to laugh about.  What I am referring to is the pure ignorance that people display when they ask questions that make you want to crawl out of your skin.  Don’t get me wrong, I will stop and chat with anyone who genuinely wants to learn more about T1D or has a sincere question about what I am doing or eating.  When someone says, “You’re not supposed to eat sugar,” I want to rip the eyeballs right from my face.  Now if that same someone asks, “Can you please clarify this for me, I always thought diabetics were not supposed to eat sugar,” I am happy to educate you and answer any questions you have.

I do realize that some people don’t know the difference between T1D and T2D.  That said, I can tell you it’s hard to maintain patience when people say that diabetes is something you did to yourself.   Type 1 diabetes is NEVER caused by something you did.  Nobody who has Type 1 could have prevented it.  It happens when a genetic or environmental factor triggers the immune system to attack the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin.  There is no cure.  There is no exercising it away.  So, for your entertainment folks, here are some examples of those who really just don’t know there are different kinds of diabetes or simply have no tact:

  • Oh, you have the bad diabetes, right?  Ummm, is there a good one?
  • You know you shouldn’t be eating that, right?  And why is that again?
  • If you eat a lot of cinnamon, it is a natural cure for diabetes.  Well, zippity do da, I’m cured!
  • You must have eaten the wrong foods as a kid.  Ate all the same stuff as the other kids whose pancreas’ didn’t stop working.
  • I was watching the Biggest Loser and the contestants didn’t have diabetes anymore after they started eating right and exercising.  Yea, Type 2, but thanks.
  • I saw a commercial for a medication you can take to keep your blood sugars controlled.  Yea, Type 2.  Again, thanks.
  • You’re not overweight, how can you have diabetes.  Just, wow.
  • How can you take shots?  I could never do that.  Take the shot or die, hmmm, that’s a tough one.
  • I bet Thanksgiving is your least favorite holiday since you can’t eat any of it.  Watch me.
  • Don’t you wish you could just eat whatever you want.  No, because I already do that.

Again, I can take a joke as good as the next gal, but when you come at me like you know more than me about MY disease, I have a slight issue with that.  It’s hard to believe just how many people were absent the day they taught tact at The Tact School of the Seriously Tactless.

What are some of the tactless questions you’ve been asked?

Well folks, my birthday tomorrow marks my 30th year of having diabetes.  I appreciate every single one of you who support me every day.  I have been blessed with the best family and friends, and thank God for all I have learned through the many trials associated with living with T1D.

Looking forward to my mama’s famous sugar-free mousse pie!

 

Kelly’s Krew 2018

Hello my adoring fans, all four of you!  Just kidding, I know there’s at least five.

In 2012, my awesome and handsome husband (sorry, my husband took over the keyboard for a minute there) gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received.  He secretly contacted our whole family and created Kelly’s Krew, which has been our JDRF OneWalk team for the last seven years!  It is inspiring and humbling to see so many people who are there to support me each year (and those who support me from afar)!

This year’s OneWalk will take place on Saturday, September 22 at Schenley Park, Flagstaff Hill. Our team usually has a turnout of 15-22 people, but we would love for that number to keep growing!  If you would like to join us this year, we would be thrilled to have you on our team.  Please contact me and I can give you all the details.

Just a little bit about the event, the goal for OneWalk is to raise funds to create a world without type one diabetes.  The walk is two miles around Schenley Park beginning at 10:00 a.m.  There are many vendors, lots of free snacks and water, bouncy houses for the kiddos, and you can even bring your dog.

I can’t begin to tell you all how much I appreciate your prayers and support for something that means so much to me.  We would love to see you on September 22, 2018 walking with Kelly’s Krew!

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Ready to be a Fountain?

I’ve said it through many of my posts, my parents gave me a lot of good advice as a I was growing up.  My dad was, and is, such a positive energy and was always giving me inspiration saying books with inscriptions like the one you see above.  That was 17 years ago, and it still took many, many years before I was able to stop being one of those darn drains.

In recent posts, I’ve focused a lot on negativity and how detrimental it can be to our health and overall well being.  It got me thinking about, and observing, those all around me…at the store, walking down the street, at my kids’ schools, online.  The things that start out as the most seemingly innocent questions turn into a battle of “how could you think (fill in the blank here)”.  It doesn’t matter the subject, people are just divided.  No worries, this is not going to be some religious or political rant.  You will never hear that from me.  That being said, let’s talk about religion and politics, shall we?  Isn’t that what we always heard growing up, that religion and politics were the only safe subjects that we could all agree on?  Maybe I have that backwards.  Actually, from where I stand, there is not one subject that is safe anymore.  Last year at Halloween, I ran into a girl I know  and asked, “How was trick-or-tricking for your daughters?”  She went off on how much candy they got and she just wanted to throw it all away because it’s just so ridiculous.  Ok, then.

Just for fun, go up to a perfect stranger and tell them you voted for Donald Trump.  Or Hilary Clinton.  Or Big Bird.  Go tell someone you are Catholic, or Protestant.  Shout from the rooftops that you think guns should be banned, or that you are teaching your 5-year-old how to safely handle a gun.  Whatever side you fall on, if it differs from those around you, you are going to hear how wrong you are.  You are going to hear, “How could you this or that?” and it may or may not be followed by a bunch of @#$% expletives!  I naively thought this was limited to the main hot buttons, religion, politics, healthcare.  Apparently, if you have an opinion on whether or not diabetes will ever be cured, that will get you in trouble too.

A girl recently posted a seemingly innocent question, “Am I the only one who thinks diabetes will never be cured?”

Big Pharma.  Conspiracy.  Fools.  Oh, sorry, I’m just throwing out some of the words that started flying about.  The support group administrator finally had to disable commenting on the post and had to remind everyone that first and foremost this is a support group and that debates could be taken to another forum.  The point is, I don’t know how or when opinions became open season to attack someone.  If you fall on a different side than me, well gosh darnit, that’s okay, even though you’re wrong (couldn’t pass that one up)!  I’ve actually heard people say such nonsense as they don’t think they’d get along with so and so because they are a democrat, or a republican.  We’ve so easily become a society that can’t see past someone’s opinion and judge their entire character based on a few assumptions.  How sad.  The more I see all this happening, the easier it is for me to be a fountain.  Who on earth wants to walk around mad about something all the time?  Can’t we have adult conversations about why we feel certain ways and try to see where others are coming from?  We may learn a thing or two.  We are all so wrapped up in I’m right and you’re wrong and here’s why.  I have friends who fall on both sides of many different debates and I can honestly say I haven’t lost one of them because their beliefs differ from mine.

When I saw the post about diabetes being cured, I did respond.  I responded with many of the new advancements I recently learned about at the TypeOneNation Summit, all of which make living with diabetes so much easier, and I am grateful for that.  I added that even if there is not a cure in my lifetime, I choose to live in hope every day.  Many moms of newly diagnosed children chimed in to say thank you.  Imagine, being thanked just for having hope.  How far off have we veered that simply being positive is something that is withering away?  I started this blog because I want to help others, and I want them to have hope too.  Even if you believe there will never be a cure because “there’s too much money in diabetes for big pharmaceutical companies to allow a cure,” what kind of person would say that to a mom who is still trying to process that her child now has a life-threatening condition?  When a hot topic debate comes up, do you feel the need to spout off your opinions in such a harsh way and make others feel like they are stupid if they believe something other than what you do?  Maybe just try, one time, to have a rational discussion.  You may even find that you have more in common with that person than you thought.  Or, maybe you’ll find that you are nothing but a drain, just like so many other people.  How boring and quite sad.  We all have the CHOICE to live every day spreading toxic negativity or being a fountain of hope and positivity.

I choose to be a fountain.  How about you?

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Why Me?

I recently joined a T1D support group online, and it has been a great tool in sharing experiences and advice.  While appointments with your healthcare team are important, I do believe that there are certain things that only someone who knows exactly your circumstances can understand.  One thing I’ve noticed though, the number of people feeling absolutely defeated is heartbreaking.  I lost count of the number of posts saying things like “Anyone just want to give up?” “Who else doesn’t check their sugar as often as they should?” “Why is my child suffering with this awful disease?” “Why is this happening to me?”  It is so easy to feel that way, and it’s much easier than trying to figure things out every bloody day to stay ahead (I made a diabetes joke there… every day is usually a bloody day because of all the blood, get it?).  Do you ever just want to scream from the rooftops, “WHY ME?”

I don’t.

I don’t because what good would that do.  I’d still be a diabetic at the end of my rooftop show, and my blood sugar would probably be high from the emotional outburst anyway.  That’s the simple reason.  The truth is, I have always had the mindset of why NOT me.  Why would I be spared when so many other people are suffering with much worse?  Long ago, my wise mother said that if everyone stood around the grand canyon and threw their problems in, you would take yours back in a heartbeat when you saw what everyone else is dealing with.  I couldn’t agree more.  There is always someone who is struggling more, and I promise it won’t take long to find those people if you just look around you.  Have you ever walked through a children’s hospital to see all the kids, weak from chemo and poked full of needles, and their parents trying to swallow past the constant lump in their throats?  I have, and one thing the majority of these children have in common is they don’t complain.  Imagine, being a child, going through cancer, and you are the one spreading positivity and joy. I decided long ago that that is exactly how I wanted to be.  There is so much negativity in this world, for goodness sake just run into someone you haven’t seen in a while, ask how they are and let the negativity roll.  You don’t even have to say a word, just sit back and see how many negative things have happened since the last time you were together, and don’t forget to listen intently when they start telling why life just isn’t fair.  No, it isn’t. But nobody ever promised it would be.  You may not have control over your illness, you may not have control over some of the circumstances in your life.  You do, however, have control over the one thing no one can ever take from you, and that is your attitude.

When is the last time you woke up and thought, “Boy, today is not going to be my day?”  I’m going to take a wild guess that you probably had a bad day.  Why wouldn’t you?  You already prepared your mind and set the tone for a bad day.  I won’t let myself do that anymore.  When I was younger, I quite possibly was the most negative teenager on earth.  My dad would always tell me, if you think negative, only negative can come from it.  It took just shy of forever for me to really start believing that and actually doing it.  Now, I find myself telling my 10-year-old daughter the same thing when she says her homework is “just too hard” and that “she’ll never get it.”  I just don’t understand why a 10-year-old wouldn’t listen to her mother (wink, wink!).

Please don’t misunderstand me on this, or think that I feel superior because I have a disease and don’t let it bother me.  I know it’s not easy, and I don’t want to make it sound like it is.  I promise you, it took me over 20 years to wake up to the reality that bad things happen to good people and great things can happen to bad people.  But, once I did get it, life became a little simpler.  The negativity was doing absolutely nothing good for me, so why would I want to continue down that path?  Why wouldn’t I want to do some good for a change, help others who feel exactly the way I did for so many years.  All those posts in my support group, that used to be me.  The lessons I’ve learned through having something life threatening are immense, and call me crazy, but I wouldn’t change it.  My life is what it is because of every day that I’ve lived, and that means living with diabetes.

I choose to see the humor in things, so I try to have a sense of humor about everything, especially T1D.  I could cry all the time, but I like to laugh so I’ll stick with that.  I can’t take sole credit for having this attitude.  My mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age.  She was, and is, in constant pain, but I only know that because we talk about it, certainly not because I’ve ever, not once, heard her complain about it.  I can remember being young, and our neighbor Pat would come over to give my mom intramuscular shots of gold with an 18 gauge needle every few days (you’ll cry in pain just googling what an 18 gauge needle looks like).  It was so awful seeing her have to endure that, but she was so strong and never let on how much pain she was really in.  In fact, she would wake up and say she felt like the tin man and that she just needed a little oil to get moving.  Years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was such a difficult time, but even through some of the darkest days, she could see the humor in it.  She had a car with a sunroof then, and after chemo one day she couldn’t help but laugh when her hair was just flying right out the sunroof.  Now, that’s the kind of attitude I was looking for.

It won’t happen over night, but if you want to change your attitude, you are the only one who can.  Yes, there will be days when you just can’t muster the strength for positivity, but soon, the good days will far outweigh the bad.  Soon, the bad will creep in just every once in awhile, but you will have so much more strength to say, “Not today old friend.”

Thank you, all, for your interest in my blog and for encouraging me every day to make a difference!

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Go watch a sunset. You’ll feel better.

Now, I realize it’s not as easy as just watching the sunset when you’re feeling down, but that is something my dad has said my whole life.   My dad is probably the most positive person you’ll ever meet, and I can count on two fingers the number of times I’ve seen him mad. Growing up, I can remember going through adolescence and just being in a bad mood pretty much every day of my teenage life, but there was my dad, cheering me on and always giving me words of encouragement and sharing some of his Confucius wisdom.  One of those was just to watch the sunset. I never really got it before, but now they are words to live by.  He was trying to tell me all along, Kel, just relax, and enjoy the simple things in life.

When someone is feeling down, I tell them to go watch the sunset. I say it tongue-in-cheek, I know it’s not that simple, but it got me thinking. Why isn’t it just that simple? Why is it so hard to find someone who is not glued to their phone, engrossed in their work, buried in their computer, consumed by a video game, overwhelmed by life responsibilities?  I miss life when it used to be a bit slower, when you could walk outside on a nice summer night and find everyone sitting on their front porches, talking over a cup of coffee for hours. For some of you young folks, talking is the act of communicating face to face using words, actual words, not abbreviations, LOL!

My husband and I love to have breakfast out on our deck, no phones, no work talk. Just us, enjoying the fresh air and really being in the moment that things are just slow for a minute. When we were on our honeymoon in Jamaica, every single day he would say “look around us, let’s just take this in so we don’t forget it.”   That was probably the best I ever was at being in the moment. We rarely had our phones with us, and we really just enjoyed our beautiful surroundings and just being with each other. How often are you really in the moment? When I see pictures of people who are on vacation, post after post about what a great time they’re having, I can’t help but wonder how much in the moment they really are? Can you really be in the moment when you’re worried about posting something on social media? Are you really having a great time when you can’t wait to jump online to tell everyone what a great time you’re having?  Go be with your family, enjoy them.  I can promise you that they will remember the truly “in the moment” moments you have more than that important post you had to get out to everyone.  Do you remember when people would come home from vacation and show all their pictures and tell you all about it at once?  I miss the good old days.

If it’s been a while for you, please take some time to be in the moment. Sit on the floor with your kids, without your phone next to you. Take the time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and not worry about checking in on Facebook or seeing what everyone is up to. Time seems to slow down a bit when you can just relax and enjoy things as they’re happening. It’s easy to look forward to vacations, the weekend, to something, anything that is coming up. But what are you missing today?

Have a great week everyone, and enjoy that sunset!

 

The Link between Peter Dinklage and Type 1 Diabetes

As I began brainstorming about the links between diabetes and other conditions such as celiac disease, depression, dementia, heart disease, and countless others, I couldn’t help but wonder how Peter Dinklage fits into all of this.  He doesn’t really, but ever since my jackwagon brother-in-law started maliciously and purposefully singing Peter DINKlage, Peter DINKlage over and over to the tune of the Game of Thrones theme song, I can’t get it out of my head (click here if you’d like it stuck in your head too https://youtu.be/idVozGXbn2Y).  So, here I sit, trying to clear my head so I can write this blog, and there is Peter Dinklage. So clearly, he’s the reason I have type 1 diabetes.

I kid, but there are countless links between T1D and other very serious diseases and complications  such as eye disease, kidney disease, heart disease, amputations, nerve damage, circulatory issues, depression, and so many others. Taking meticulous care of yourself significantly lowers the risk for developing some of these diseases, but the catch 22 here is that while you have to take meticulous care, that is often the very thing that leads to depression. Today, I am going to focus specifically on depression as research has shown that having T1D more than doubles your risk of developing it.  It is easy to get in a rut, especially in young people living with diabetes and going through adolescence. It’s the time you want to fit in, test your independence, and you just don’t want the responsibility of a disease that takes so much time and attention, day in and day out. Roller coaster blood sugars not only wreak havoc on your body, but also on your emotional health,  so depression in type one diabetes is very common, especially among teenagers trying to navigate life as an adolescent. That’s hard enough without diabetes.

The only time you get a break from diabetes is, well, never.  It’s like the commercial that says “Moms don’t get to take a sick day,” but, they can ask for help so they can take a break every once in a while.  T1D doesn’t provide such luxuries, so it’s a full-time job with no pay, no vacation, and certainly no health benefits.  That’s cause enough for depression right there.  Who would want hired for that job? Not this gal, but I was hired nonetheless and can’t ever quit or take a day off, but what I can do is not bury my head in the sand and learn all I can about new developments, how my body reacts to different foods, understand how my basal/bolus scale is working throughout the day, keep my emotional health strong so I can take care of my physical health, and keep my T1D controlled enough so that one day when there is cure, I will be ready!

So what is the link between TID and depression?  Well, it’s many things.  In any given day, you need to have the knowledge of an endocrinologist, a nutritionist, a psychologist, a certified diabetes educator, and an exercise physiologist.  You basically have to think just like a pancreas would, all while trying to just live a normal life.  You no longer have the luxury of  looking at a plate of food and marveling at how delicious it looks, you look at it and immediately start adding up all the carbs.  A typical conversation you may have in your mind before you dig in goes something like this, “Ok, my plate has a mixture of high glycemic index foods and low glycemic index foods.  Darn, I should have anticipated the high glycemic foods and bolused 25 minutes ago.  But wait, my sugar is higher than my target range, so I should have bolused 40 minutes ago so I would be back in range before starting to eat.  Oh, hold on, I forgot that we’re going for a run later on, so I don’t want to bolus so much that I’ll drop low when I exercise.  Ok, hold the phone, my sugars have been running very high after dinner for the past three days, so maybe I should change by basal rate before I do anything.  Hmmm, but I’ve been really stressed lately and not feeling very well so maybe that’s why my sugar has been high.  Or maybe it’s because of the foods I’ve been eating, or maybe it’s because…” blah blah blah!

See what I mean?  Not too easy to think like a pancreas, so it’s not difficult to see how having to think this way every. single. day. could cause emotional stress, anxiety, and an overall feeling of I just can’t do this anymore.  Even after having diabetes for 30 years, I still have days when things are perfect and I’m totally killing it, then I look at my glucose monitor to see a blood sugar of 300 for no reason at all.  That’s when things get frustrating.  I’ll have people say, “Well, did you take enough insulin, did you eat too much,” well slap me sideways and call me Betsy, why didn’t I think of those things (insert sarcasm here).  If I did those things, then I’D KNOW WHY MY SUGAR IS 300!

I’ve said it before, but if you are a T1D or you have a loved one with T1D and you see signs of what I like to call diabetes shutdown, please do not hesitate in reaching out for help.  I find that online support communities are a great resource for knowing there are so, so many others going through the same daily struggles and I would highly recommend joining one if you haven’t already.  Please feel free to contact me if you need support or just another diabetic’s perspective.  After 30 years, there’s not too much I haven’t seen with this disease, so I am happy to help if I can.  Have a wonderful week, everyone, and thank you for reading and your continued support!

 

 

2018 TypeOneNationSummit

Yesterday, I attended my first diabetes summit and met some really terrific people.  I don’t run into many Type 1’s in everyday life, so it was neat to see so many of us in one place, all dealing with the same struggles.  Some folks I met have had diabetes for 30+ years, some less than 30 days.  One thing that stood out though, each of of them, regardless of how long they’ve been diabetic, had the same passion for wanting to conquer this disease and live as close to a normal life as possible.  It is all too common to find yourself in a rut, not wanting to test your sugars, not wanting to take your insulin, just not wanting to do everything it takes to stay ahead.  I get it.  Diabetes is not something you can just forget about for a little while even when you want to, it’s there, every single second of every single day.  Even when you are not eating and having to bolus, you still need to track your sugar throughout the day to prevent severe highs or lows that could lead to long-term complications.  It takes diligence, patience, support of those around you, knowledge, and most importantly, strength.  It’s hard to get through some days with diabetes, but it’s even harder to get through those days if you stop taking care of yourself.  If you are feeling in a rut, I urge you to reach out to someone or join an online diabetes community.  It’s easy to feel alone, but those groups will help you when you just don’t feel like helping yourself.

I met a young girl at the summit, age 5, who was just learning how to live her new life and trying to process a new illness.  She was amazing, much more so than I would have been at her age.  Her mom was so positive and eager to learn all she could, and that is going to make all the difference in that young girl’s life.  The diagnosis is not something you can change, so having a positive attitude makes life that much easier.  I’m not trying to sugar coat anything and say this positivity will make everything magically better or that it is easy to stay upbeat everyday, but a general attitude of we’re not going to let this beat us will make a huge difference, that I can promise you.

I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE.  Gary is the award-winning author of Think Like a Pancreas and runs a company called Integrated Diabetes Services LLC where he and his staff provide diabetes coaching, education, and consulting to navigate the complexities of living with T1D.  What I loved about his presentation is that he goes so much more in depth than an endocrinologist has time for during regular appointments.  An endo really only has a short time to meet with you, answer any questions you may have, do a quick exam, and make adjustments to your dosage based on looking over your numbers for a few minutes tops.  With every diabetic’s needs being so unique, it is near impossible to figure out how to make adjustments based on such casual review.  There are too many factors that affect blood sugar levels, so it takes an in-depth discussion and looking for patterns to know exactly what is happening.  That’s where Gary’s company fills the void between provider and patient.  His staff is solely made up of those with Type 1 diabetes, so they really do get it.

Overall, it was a great day and I met passionate people.  My favorite thing about the summit was I learned of a new (well, new to me) pump that is tubeless!!!  That deserves three exclamation points because, WOW, that would be amazing!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten my tube stuck on door knobs and drawer handles and it nearly yanks my skin right off.  You can even swim with it and wear it in the shower.  What?!?  No more trying to figure out where I’m going to put my pump, holy Toledo! This is everything a girl could dream of.  I know what you’re thinking, oh how sad, she must not have big dreams.  Try living one day with a pump tube and you’ll be dreaming this big too!

If you’ve never attended a summit, I highly recommend it.  Even if you are not a diabetic but have a loved one who is, there are sessions for you as well.  I can tell you from experience that it is hard to have diabetes, but some days I feel like it is harder for my husband.  It’s not easy to see someone you love having daily struggles, and it truly is a disease that affects the whole family.  The family sessions are designed to help you navigate the challenges of living with someone with T1D.  We all could use a refresher every now and then, and I learned much more than I thought I would.  Technology is changing so rapidly that it’s easy to miss the newest developments, and it’s very important to know what is out there so you can make informed decisions about what devices would work best for you and your lifestyle!

Diabetes and the World of Ignorance

“Are you still rocking a pager?  You know it’s 2018 right?”  Ummm, actually this is my insulin pump and it keeps me alive, but thanks for asking.  I once had a traffic court judge tell me that MP3 players were forbidden in her courtroom and that I needed to remove it immediately.  I did enjoy watching her hard edge dissolve when I told her that it was an insulin pump.

Yes, I still get comments like this believe it or not.  There’s nothing better than unsolicited opinions and comments, don’t you think?!?  It used to really bother me when someone would say something, completely unprovoked, about my devices.  Maybe because it’s not something I would ever do and just couldn’t understand the nosiness or concern of others about what devices I was “rocking.”  Now, it just makes me laugh.  Perhaps it is because I’m older now and don’t worry about ignorant people, or maybe it is just because I genuinely find it pretty funny when people say these idiotic things only to be told that what I am wearing is the only thing keeping me alive.  The “does she know she looks ridiculous wearing a pager in 2018” attitude quickly melts away, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy that just a little! Don’t judge me.

That being said, there are genuine questions I get all the time from people who are just curious to learn about these devices, and I’m always happy to stop and chat with those folks.  I’ve always embraced the fact that I will forever be a diabetic, so why not try to educate others along the way if I can.  When I first started wearing my Dexcom G5 Continuous Glucose Monitor, I would get asked almost daily if the “patch” was helping me to quit smoking.  That would always make me laugh, because the monitor does look like a smoker’s patch.  But, just like with the pump, there were/are some pretty forward, rude people, but I have learned to take it with a grain of salt.  If you have any kind of illness or condition, you need to have a backbone.  If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one, it will save you a lot of worry over people you will never be able to change.  You can get mad with every single comment, or you can smile and say, “Well, actually, here’s what you need to know…”  The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten was that if you want to see change, then change your attitude.  Don’t expect that you will be able to change someone else.  That is exactly what I did.  I changed MY attitude toward these people, but they are still the same ignorant people, and that’s okay, because it’s not my problem.

The moral of the story is, if you have the urge to comment on a device someone is wearing, please keep the sarcasm at bay and try to learn a thing or two.  It’s much easier to be kind than to spend your life with a chip on your shoulder.  Just my two cents.