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January 31, 2007

In The Ol' Mailbag.

The Mailbag.Nothing makes me grin more than the emails I have the pleasure of receiving from people who read this blog.  I hear from kids in high school whose best friends are diabetic, or from people who have been living with this for days (or months or decades), and from the wonderful parents of diabetic children.  These people offer me a glimpse into what their life with diabetes is like and their perspectives are beyond inspiring. 

They also make me laugh like hell, like Cindy from Indiana and the fantastic L. Bird photos that she sent my way.

When I opened my email  yesterday from a reader, I clicked on a link they sent that made me lean in close to my computer to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  Oh, and then I laughed like a lunatic.    

The picture is a small bit too graphic for me to post on the site, but it involves little plastic G.I. Joe guys and some unfortunate roadkill.  The subject line – “Giant Squirrel Caught!” – is in reference to the pesky fella in my eye.  Click here for the picture.

The fine people who read this here blog are nuts.  (Ah, there's the pun.)

And so, so appreciated.

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January 30, 2007

Beading Class.

the beads

Granted, we were the youngest people in there by a factor of several decades, but it wasn’t a problem.We grabbed our sterling silver wire, cut the string on the beads we chose, and settled in for our beading class.

“Cut the beads loose on the string and we’ll begin working with the wire.”  The instructor said, a young and fashionable lady of about 35, sporting a few impressive pieces that I’m sure she brilliantly crafted up herself.

Of course, I snipped the string and watched as a few beads flung themselves off the side of the table and rocketed to the floor with a clatter.

“Sorry…”  I mumbled as the bevy of old biddies twittered at me. 

I have never taken a beading class before, but it was really cool.  We used those fancy little wire tools and forced the sterling silver wire to bend to our will.  (Note:  Batman was whining about the fact that her fingertips ached from pressing against the wire.  I, however, had two decades of diabetes on my side and the scar tissue pads on the tops of my fingers made the wire bending a breeze.  Kerri: 1, Diabetes: 0)  The best part was using the stone and the little hammer to beat the crap out of the metal to assist it in keeping shape. 

Here’s what we made:  a bracelet, necklace, and a pair of earrings. (See the fabulous little hammer in the corner?  Very fun, that.)

What we made.

Here’s what Siah trotted off with:  a bracelet, one of the earrings, and a pump cap that happened to be hanging out near the aforementioned jewelry.

Pain in the arse cat.

Not sure what kind of class to take next - any suggestions?

EDIT:  I've rec'd several emails that comments aren't working on this post.  There's some kind of 404 error.  I think I fixed it.  Please let me know if the comments are dead!  There's something tricky afoot.  ;)


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January 29, 2007

A Few Drinks.

Let's Get it On!The microphone drops down and Mills Lane plucks it out of the sky.

“In this corner, bringing a bevy of boluses and carbonated carbohydrate content, wearing Gold Shorts and a lime wedge, weighing in at about 12 oz is the mysterious new challenger, La Corona!” 

He raises his fists in the air and burps.

“And in this corner, The Titan of Tight Control, the A1c Ally, weighing in at about 9 oz and made up of cheap vodka, cranberry juice, and a splash of Tropicana orange juice – the reigning champion, The Mighty Madras!”

Madras also pumps his fists, holding tight to a thin, red straw and a test strip.

“Gentlemen, this is the title match.  Nothing below 50 mg/dl and nothing, nothing above 250 mg/dl – do you hear me?  I want a good, clean fight.  Now let’s get it on!”

Bell rings.

“And the Corona lurches forward right away, fists flailing! Look at those carbs, folks!  The Mighty Madras is backing off a bit – I can hear those ice cubes clanking against the side of him!  Corona reels back, swings out and oooooh! A solid hit to the jaw of the Madras!  He’s falling back!  He’s staggering!  Could he be out already?  Is this newcomer going to knock the ol’ Tried and True out of the ring? 

The Madras is leaning against the ropes … he looks exhausted!  Only a few minutes into this fight and the Cold Corona definitely has the upper hand!  This could be it! 

… But wait, what’s this I see?  Yes, the Mighty Madras is on his feet!  He’s taken out a blood glucose meter from his pocket.  He’s looking to test Kerri – judges?  Are we allowing this?  Yes, the judges are allowing a blood test.  And Kerri, after having two of the icy cold Coronas, is up to 253 md/gl!  Her bolus was grossly under estimated!  They’re flashing the results across the marquee – indeed, Kerri is high and the Corona can’t stop staring at the number! 

And – ooooh! – the Mighty Madras has snuck in a jab while the Corona isn’t paying attention!  He’s now pummeling the Corona!  There’s lime juice everywhere, my friends … this is truly a gruesome beating!”

Corona is leaning against the ropes, exhausted from the beating.  The Madras reels back his fist, angry that Kerri didn’t measure correctly for her drinks and is now high as a kite.  He knows he would have been easier to count.  He knows he could have let Kerri enjoy steadier blood sugars and a night out.  Why did she pick Corona?  Was it the price?  Was it the fact that “out having a beer” is what she preferred over a more pretentious mixed drink?  Madras didn’t know.  He didn’t care.  All he knew is that the Corona was horning in on his woman and he wasn’t standing for it.

“And the Madras has brought out a bottle of insulin!!  And OH MY GOD he’s cracked it over the Corona’s head!  Corona is out!  It’s a knock-out, dear viewers!  This fight is over!  Over!”

Corona falls flat against the mat, out cold.  The ring smells of sweat and insulin.  Mills Lane grabs the championship belt and thrusts it into Madras’s hand, declaring him “Winnah!”  Madras, bleeding profusely from the eye and crying, raises the belt to the air and yells, “Kerri!  Kerri!”  Kerri comes running from the stands, meter in hand, and stands in front of him as she tests.  “153 mg/dl.  I’m coming down.  I’ll be more careful next time I drink high-carb beers, O Mighty Madras.  I promise!”

They embrace.  The “Rocky” theme swells in the background.  Kerri decides that the next time she wants to have a beer, she needs to measure more carefully and bolus with more precision.  She also discovers that she has run this storyline into the ground.

Mills Lane wipes the tears from his eyes.  “I love a good fight.”

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January 26, 2007

Six Things on This January Friday

1.  There will be a little housecleaning going on here at the blog, mainly due to my obsessive-compulsive need to have things look a little neater.  My blogroll is now conveniently tucked into the Ye Olde Blogroll page.  Changes will be made to that page in the future, but I’m too damn lazy to make changes now.  If your blog is missing from my blogroll, please either email me or leave a comment.  I'm not sure if I have everyone listed and I don't want to leave anyone out!

2.  Coffee is good.  Coffee may actually be the only thing keeping me awake this morning.

3.  We had pizza last night for dinner.  Blood sugar was 101 mg/dl before eating it.  Climbed up to 291 mg/dl about two hours afterwards.  Corrected down conservatively, just in case there was some insulin still kicking around in there.  But of course, plummeted to 46 mg/dl at 5:03 am.  Abby came to the rescue, patting me on the head and yelling until I woke up and stumbled out to the kitchen to drink grape juice straight from the bottle.  (Note to Chris:  I spilled on the floor a little bit.  That’s why it looks like Grimace was shot in our kitchen.  I’ll clean it up when I get home.)  So now I feel like I’ve been mowed over by a truck.  Grimace is safe, though.  And that's what counts.

4.  This Sunday boasts another new edition of dLifeTV.  This one has a segment about diabetes in Hollywood, which I always find intriguing.  The Halle Berry enigma is addressed, too, buRent this movie!t it’s still not known whether or not she’s type 1 or type 2.  Hey Halle, (ha! - like she’s reading this), are you type 1 or type 2?  Why are you so mysterious about it?   

5.  I have plans to take a jewelry beading class with Batman tomorrow and to see my mother on Sunday.  I’m very much looking forward to all this bonding time.  It’s been a while since I went home and I’m feeling a little homesick lately.

6.  We watched a movie called “Danny Deckchair” last weekend, rented solely because it was about a guy who ties a bunch of yellow balloons to his lawn chair and sails away for an adventure.  We waited for the red Netflix envelope like it was Christmas morning.  For the record, we were surprisingly entertained by this film.  Something about a bearded Aussie flying through the sky with huge, misspelled yellow balloons as his method of transport makes me smile just thinking about it.  (Also made me want to try it and see if it would actually work.  Where can I buy a helium tank?)

And the beat goes on.

Off for more coffee.

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January 24, 2007

Kitty.

They told me I had to go into the hospital for a few weeks.  I wasn’t exactly sure what “diabetes” meant, but I knew it must involve vampires, because people were drawing my blood every few hours.

“You can pick any friend you’d like to bring with you to the hospital.  Any one you want.” 

My father held my hand as we walked into Ray Willis’ Toy Store and I looked at the rows and rows of cuddly and soft stuffed animals.  My seven year old shoes clicked against the tiled floor as I examined the fare.

The soft ears of a gray elephant looked so nice.  I could picture myself hiding behind them if I was scared.  I saw an amber-eyed puppy dog with a pokey little nose.  He looked like he could be my friend.

Then I saw it.My beloved Kitty.

Kitty.

A huggable, marmalade-colored stuffed animal cat with bright eyes and a long, fluffy tail.  He was sandwiched between a giraffe with the tongue sticking out and a stuffed octopus (can’t figure out why anyone would make one of those). 

I reached out with my little hands and grabbed him from the shelf.

“This one?  Is this one okay?”

My father gave me the thumbs up.  “That one looks good to me.”

Mom and Dad paid for Kitty and we started our drive up to the hospital for my overnight stay.  Originally named “Tigger” but eventually falling victim to a less imaginative moniker of “Kitty,” I kept this stuffed animal at my side for every blood test and doctor visit.  He was a loyal friend and received the occasional shot, too, when I wasn’t feeling brave enough to be the only one being injected.

I used to wag his tail and make him wiggle about, trying to convince people in the hospital elevators that he was real.

A boy on the bus in second grade tried to pull Kitty’s arm off and gave him a good rip.  I cried to my mother, who was about to sew up the wound with orange thread, that she needed to use black thread so it would look like a stitch and I would know he was better.  Ever-obliging, my mother stitched Kitty up and I admired his war wound with fascination. 

Twenty years later and no longer the newly diagnosed little girl at the toy store, I've had this Kitty with me through it all.  He used to look vibrant and fluffy, but now his fur is matted and mangy.  He lived on my bed in college.  He moved to my first apartment with me after college.  Even when I felt “too grown up” to have a stuffed animal on display in my house, Kitty has managed to weasel his way into a bookcase or a closet shelf.  Currently, he lives on top of my winter sweaters in my closet, looking at me with his matted fur and sad eyes from the mountain of wool and cotton.

He made me feel comforted.  Admittedly, he still does.

He’s a testament to how long it’s been.  And how far I’ve come. 

(But Siah doesn’t like him too much.)  

Siah is not a fan.
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January 23, 2007

Bring on St. John!

“All work and no play makes Kerri … need a vacation.”

There’s been a lot of work going on lately.  The constant flurry of activity in my office, the fun of the ol’ blogosphere, and assorted other writing adventures.  While I enjoy everything that I’m involved in, I do find myself altogether way too close to a computer all the time.  I understand HTML coding now. 

I fear I may be becoming a geek.  ;)

It’s time for a vacation.

So Chris and I have booked a 10 day trip to St. John in the Virgin Islands.  White sand beaches, sunshine, and relaxation.  We’ve booked a few nights at the Concordia Eco-Tents (they sound tremendously cool and sort of sexy), rented a Jeep, and have plans to drink some of the finest Virgin Islands Pale Ale ever draught.  (Note:  The beer is fantastic.  You crack open the bottle and it smells like mangos.  And it is created and brewed by one of Chris’s friends from home – he moved to St. John a few years ago.  Nice gig, that.) 

I am so excited for this vacation that I’m almost considering not using my pal Xanax to fly.  (But of course I will, because I’m a wimpy-wimp.)  We’ll be away for Chris’s birthday at the end of March.  Nice way to escape the winter that has finally arrived.

Bring on St. John! 

I can't wait to walk on this beach.

“And, on a completely random note, the Aveeno hand lotion stuff makes my blood sugar appear higher than it actually is,” says Kerri, who tested in at 204 mg/dl, corrected it, and ended up at 51 mg/dl.  A few minutes ago, I tested at 185 mg/dl, washed my hands, and rechecked to test my theory – 114 mg/dl.  Ah ha!  Pesky hand lotion.  Good thing you’re repairing my hands or I’d chuck you out the window. 
1

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January 22, 2007

MedBillManager

MedBillManager

 

Test strips.  Pump supplies.  Insulin.  Doctor’s visits.  Blood work.  As a type 1 diabetic, I have a fair amount of medical bills – at least enough to neatly paper one of the bedrooms in my apartment, maybe half of the other one.  There are programs out there to help keep things straight but they cost so much …

Enter MedBillManager, a program developed by Christopher Parks and his talented team.  He took a few minutes to answer my ramblings and talk about his new medical bill managing service.  

Kerri.:  Why experiences fueled you to start MedBillManager?  What keeps you going?

Christopher Parks:  On December 3, 2004 my father unexpectedly passed away due to pulmonary issues and then one short year later on December 23, 2005 my mother passed away due to colon/liver cancer (she was diagnosed as stage 4 two weeks after my father died). It was during and after their illnesses that my siblings and I were sorting through the pile of medical bills, insurance EOBs, and payments to providers and I thought that there has to be an EASIER way to deal with all of that paper! More so, my sister and I work in healthcare and EVEN we were struggling with organizing, reconciling, and determining which bills to pay. Ironically, had we not been diligent - a $20,000 bill for my dad’s ventilator services that had been denied by his Meddicare supplemental insurer because it was miscoded as a Workman’s Comp  payer would have been paid by my mom. Of course, we contacted the insurer and asked them if they thought that a 74 yr old man, on a ventilator for four months would be concurrently working a part-time job thereby justifying a Workman’s Comp claim?! There were many other hiccups – double billings, over billings, coordination of benefits, etc. The point being that without some sort of system to organize all of that paper, we were simply too confused to do anything.

I found a couple of good downloadable software applications, Quicken’s Medical Expense Manager and SimoHealth ($48 and $36 respectively). These were good applications and better than using paper or a spreadsheet, but they still didn’t clearly help me to answer the guiding question that my mom always asked me, “What do I do with these three different pieces of paper that I have? A bill, an insurance statement (EOB), and my payment receipt.” There was no way that she would use those software tools unless they were super simple to use. More so, she understood going to the internet and checking email, but she just wasn’t inclined to download and install “software” and neither tool answered questions like “is there a cheaper alternative to ‘X’ service?” or “what did someone else pay for the same service in my area?”

So I vowed on my own and out of my own pocket to create something that was inexpensive, super easy-to-use, didn’t have to be installed, secure, and allowed users who have chronic conditions to anonymously compare costs and reimbursements while also getting alerts to less expensive non-acute services in their zip code. Oh yeah, and since Health Savings Accounts and tax deductions are usually important to people with ongoing medical bills, the web application needed to easily track and report those items.

However, the most important thing to me is that whatever comes out of this on-going project is that 10% of any profit earned goes to charities that the user community will vote on each year. My parents strongly believed in giving and I want to ensure that MedBillManager helps people both directly and indirectly.

What keeps me going? 

Christopher Parks:  My parent’s memory and the deep desire to honestly help others avoid the struggle that people with ongoing medical bills face every day. What started as a lofty “do gooder” side-project (which nay-sayers said couldn’t be done without an enormous amount of money) has become a reality and something that helps people each and every day. I am here to tell you that we, as individuals, CAN make a difference in other people’s lives. By simply and honestly doing something – be it blogging about your experiences of living with Diabetes, or talking to your neighbor about your fight with Cancer or any other health issue – you can make a difference.

Kerri.:  What kind of feedback have you received from users?

Christopher Parks:  We have a growing group of users who aren’t used to getting immediate response to questions, concerns, or irks.  ANY feedback we get, we take seriously because this is not some generic tool, but rather it is meant to continually improve as users suggest improvements.  The tool isn’t perfect, far from it! But it is constantly improving and updated with new features, fixes, enhancements almost every other day. Several of the users asked if we could make it easier to keep track of mileage to the doctor. We added it, fully functional two weeks later. We are not only desperate for feedback, but we actually DO SOMETHING in response to that feedback!!

Though my favorite feedback are the emails like… “Yes, I would be very interested in participating as an Alpha user.  Improvements in Health Care, especially those directed toward consumers, is a passion of mine. Thank you for including me in your efforts!” or  “I watched my mother-in-law struggle to keep up with her disease, medicare, and all her specialists using paper.  Impossible.  Its gotta be made easier.” Or “Can I please get access, I've just become seriously ill with foreseeable long term treatment, so I am quite sure I could use your software, the first notices came in from my insurance carrier today, shorting many of the charges, presumably as excessive, I will need to keep track of all this for resolution. Thanks!!!!”

Kerri.:  Why should a user feel confident in submitting their personal information into your service?

Christopher Parks:  There are several technical reasons, such as password encryption, data encryption, secure https connections and a slew of other technological jargon. Let me be clear though, as I don’t want to appear flippant about this, we take privacy and security absolutely and positively serious! In fact, our application is as secure as any insurer, hospital, or bank web-accessible application. However, let’s also be realistic - nothing is impenetrable forever. So we are always updating our security and technology, but more importantly we are pragmatic about the information that we require about each person. The ONLY personally identifiable information about the user that we collect is your email address (which is encrypted), an alias name which should be fictitious, and your zip code.  That’s it. We don’t want nor need your real name, social security number, nor birth date, address, or other such sensitive data.

Kerri.:  Your team is a potluck of talented, ambitious, and compassionate people.  Can you tell us a little bit about who is behind MBM?

Christopher Parks:  As I mentioned before, almost EVERYONE said that I couldn’t create a web application without a lot of money and capital investment – much less do it on the weekends and evenings, but the real secret to doing something is finding talented and passionate people who also believe in the same values and vision as you do. First, I needed a developer who had the wherewithal to quickly develop the application in Ruby on Rails (a programming language) and I found him in Denmark. Why Denmark? Because even though I didn’t have a big budget to pay for development, Jakob was the only person who took the time to get to know me, understand what I was trying to accomplish, and was willing to take a chance on me and this insurmountable bootstrapped project. He’s not only an incredibly talented developer, but also a good friend. Next, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Matt in Arkansas who has done all of the design work on the project and who has consistently been a driving force of sanity, sensibility, and creativity behind the progress we’ve made thus far. I also count Matt as a friend and without him; the project would have stalled and never have seen the light of day. We’ve also had significant development support from other people like Wilkes Joiner, and Matt Beale here in Nashville. All of these people helped to turn the guidance and feedback from our pre-alpha users into reality. 

The other “team member” that I wanted to acknowledge are the pre-alpha users, and our current users who sign-up and tells what’s good, what’s bad, and what is needed. People like yourself, Kerri, who spent innumerable hours playing with and testing out the application and giving honest feedback like “this is crap” and “I would use that” so that what get’s developed is something useful to people who have ongoing medical bills and health issues.

Kerri.:  How can a new user find your service?  Is it easy to sign up?

Christopher Parks:  Anyone can sign up and immediately start using MedBillManager by going to www.medbillmanager.com . Tell anyone that you know who has ongoing medical bills, or who cares for a family member or individual with medical, dental, pharma, or vision bills to please visit our site and join.

Kerri.:  And, in the usual SUM style, if given the chance to grab an aerial perspective of anywhere, what would you chose to fly over in your hot air balloon trip?

Christopher Parks:  That’s the best question I’ve gotten!  Hmmm, growing in the western United States, I think that I’d love the chance to balloon over the Grand Canyon. I can’t imagine anything more amazing then an aerial view of the canyon when the sun is setting! 

(Note:  SUM has received no compensation for consulting with MBM and has not been paid to run this interview.  That's full disclosure, my friends.)


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January 21, 2007

Season Premiere - dLife!

Shameless plug for my office?  Don't mind if I do:

The season premiere of dLifeTV is tonight at 7 PM (eastern) on CNBC!  I watched this one the other day and the bit about Governor Huckabee from Arkansas is pretty damn cool.

And, for the record, it's frickin' freezing here, finally.  While I'm reassured that global warming hasn't completely ruined the earth yet (yet), it's the kind of cold that makes earmuffs seem almost okay in the house.

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January 19, 2007

Penguin Girl and the Exploding Pixies.

Hand Rot HelperAfter reading everyone’s comments and assessing the situation (taking into account that it was also snowing for the first time this winter and I was going to be faced with the Bread and Milk Soup people no matter where I went), I trotted off to CVS after my workout last night and picked up Aveeno Intense Relief hand cream.  It had the words “relief” right there in the title.  And I had a coupon.  (And they were out of the Brad Pitt Jergens … damnit!)

I finished my work for the evening and settled into bed at an unreasonably late hour.  Noting the recommendations of my brilliant readers, I slathered on the hand cream and covered my aching hands with clean, white gym socks. 

Ah.  This felt nice.

Only I looked like I had penguin flippers for hands. 

Good thing I had already tested before bed, or that would have been an ordeal.  I tried to turn off the lamp, only to deftly knock it to the floor.  Abby came up to be petted and my hands were ineffective, trapped in my sock mittons. 

I laid back. 

“I’m a penguin.” 

By the time I woke up in the morning, I was flipper-less.  The socks had disappeared from my hands and Siah was wrapped up beside one of them.  I still haven’t found the other one.  My hands, however, felt much better and were looking less angry. 

So success is en route, on that front.

However, as soon as I, Awkward Penguin Girl, arrived at work, I slipped in the parking lot and ended up on my arse in the newly fallen snow.  I poured coffee down my sleeve and proceeded to get red ink all over my wrist while I was working.  And just now, I picked up a glittery Christmas ornament to move it out of my way and it EXPLODED all over the place.  The sound of shattering holiday spirits was joined by about 5 lbs of orange glitter. 

Co-Worker:  “What was that?”

“All I did was pick it up!  I’m like the Hulk today.” 

It looks like a pixie flew in and blew up on my desk. 

So now I’m picking glitter out of my keyboard.  And my hair.  It’s all over my black shirt.  And my shoes are more ruby slipper than sneaker at the moment. 

Clumsy, clumsy girl. 

But my hands feel better. 

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January 18, 2007

Rotten Hands.

This happens to me every winter:  I get to work, take off my gloves, log on to my computer, and then realize that a thin line of blood is smeared on my knuckle.  Softens hands, you know.Cracked and mangled, these little hands are.

My hands become so dry and uncomfortable during the bitter cold seasons.  Is it diabetes-related?  Or is it because I have sensitive skin and I wash my hands every 35 minutes?  Or is it just one of those Things?

My desk at work looks like CVS – I have more little bottles of hand lotion stashed in the drawers than I know what to do with.  Sometimes, I slather it liberally and put my gloves back on, though that makes all attempts at normal typing look like this:  lo’]po9ih32 klqj 49u dfa’’. 

I stay very hydrated (hence, the washing my hands every 35 minutes) and my blood sugars aren’t running high at the moment, so what gives?

I’ve tried everything from Johnson’s softlotion to a litany of Bath and Body Works stuff.  I smell gorgeous at all times, thanks to my rotten hands.  But they still ache.  And they look horrendous, like I’m the crypt keeper.  It doesn’t help that I’m back to biting my nails and chewing my cuticles, not to mention the hard pads of scar tissue on my fingertips from testing all day long.  I’m convinced that if I look closely enough, I’ll see a miniature tumbleweed roll across the desert that my knuckles have become.

My little hands are horrific at the moment.

I’m waiting for that moment when I stop my manicurist on the street and say, “Look Madge, I soaked them!”  Maybe Palmolive is the answer.  That’s one I haven’t tried yet.

Anyone have a remedy for this?  My hands thank you in advance. 

EDIT:  This Jergens stuff looks mighty fine to me.  Eh, John?

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January 17, 2007

Best Lurker EVER.

A few random things:

First off, the good people of “Overheard in New York” have posted one of my quotes – the one about the girl in Saks who was debating a $710 Prada wallet as a trinket for her friend.

Secondly, there was a pre-rounds interview on Medscape that went up yesterday, and it’s been confirmed that I should re-think things before I send them in.  (See references to sundaes)  It’s a curse to write exactly how you speak, right down to the silliness.  I’ve linked it as a PDF over in the interviews section, for readers who don’t want to have to sign up to check it out.

Thirdly, I’ve become somewhat addicted to wearing my pump in my sock.  I have no idea why I didn’t realize this was a possibility sooner.  But it was a pain in the arse last night when my pump starting beeping and hollering about a low reservoir and this beeping came ringing out from my sock.  I’m standing in my boss’s office, beeping.  “Nah, it’s cool.  It’s just my pump...  Where? ...  Oh, it’s in my sock.”  Boop beep boop!

And lastly, I have been contacted by one of the Best Lurkers EVER.  I opened my email last week to see a subject line of “2 pictures for you from Carolyn."   

I clicked on the email to see this:

The man!
The man, again!
Bird is the word.

My main man, Larry Bird.  Apparently, Carolyn from Indy was at a Pacer’s game and caught a glimpse of L.B. hanging out in his regular seats.   “Larry Bird always sits in these seats at the games and I thought of you when I saw him,” Carolyn wrote in her email.  She’s the mother of two boys and she’s been type 1 for the last 15 months.  She is also the Best Lurker EVER.  So thank you, Carolyn - You absolutely made my week.

Further lastly:  What the hell is going on with Blogrolling?  For weeks, nothing would reflect as "updated."  Now, everything is starred.  Is anyone else having trouble with their blogroll?   

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January 16, 2007

Grand Rounds.

Grand Rounds 3.17

Once upon times, in a land filled with meds,
Lived a blogger who slept with a cat on her head.
As she dreamt through the night, dreams with colors and sounds,
She dreamt of the honor of hosting Grand Rounds.
“Emotions in healthcare,” she tossed off the covers.
“Where bloggers use blogs to comfort each other.”

Her eyes, they sprang open.  “The patient prevails!”
And she scurried off quickly to check her emails.
The screen buzzed to life and she saw, to her pleasure,
Grand Rounds submissions, too many to measure.

The bloggers who write about diabetes emotions
Get more than their share of her love and devotion.
Like the comfort and chaos of a sharing their gripes
Or one whose emotions were raw and too ripe.
A post from the blogger at “Sweetness Within,”
About diabetes and its mental spin.
And the body providing a comfortable home,
Talks about the frustration of feeling alone.

But submissions are not just from d-blogs, my dears!
They come from all corners of med blogospheres.

The one about Ashley from dear Dr. A,
Who asks how a parent can keep her that way.
Dream Mom has her own strong opinions to tell
With an issue-by-issue perspective as well.  
The strength of a man, unaware of his AIDS,
Who went to a concert and seized the next day.
Or the stories of wounds that cut deep and are gory,
But end up as scars that stand proof of the story.
The sadness of doctors and their daily sessions
As they dive to great depths in the seas of depression.
The tale of a woman whose journey is far
As she’s told she has cancer while in the ER.
An Outsider finds her way back by her choice
To share in the power of one common voice.
The test of a man who had seen two great wars,
Who counted the bullet holes ripped in the doors.
A med student marvels at words that they choose
When doctors are forced to give patients bad news.

Submissions keep coming!  She rubs at her eyes.
The cats are like sharks, rubbing up on her thighs.
“Hush, kitties – I’m reading!” she says as she finds
More posts about healthcare – the emotional kind.

She finds posts about storms that flush families away
And patients with feelings all tangled and frayed.
Still others write posts on the power of pets
And the souls that may fly out with finches just yet.
One blogger puts spin on the crash of a plane
And wonders how hospital deaths are the same.
A voice from the wards speaks of hospital care
And the challenges doctors and patients face there.
Another asks questions on health insurance scurrying,
Which causes young mothers to spend their time worrying.
Or the rare gift of kindness from a stranger indeed,
May have just saved the life of a woman in need.

“These writers are brilliant,” she says without sound
As she clicks on the “save” and reviews her Grand Rounds.
With the twenty best posts that have touched upon “real,”
Moving past medications into how patients feel.
With a nod to her cat and a smile of glee,
Your host posted her Rounds up on Six Until Me.

Now ready your pens for the next Grand Rounds shout
Which will ring from the rooftops of Dr. Signout.

1

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January 15, 2007

Master of the Pan Flute

Chris and I spent waaaa-ay too much time spinning through this application last night:  My Heritage Face Recognition.  We laughed like silly fools at some of the results.  It’s the perfect way to whittle away a few minutes loading up pictures of your friends and family and wondering exactly how your sister matched up with Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute.

Who will you be?  (Apparently, I'm anyone with an over-zealous grin.  Including Toni Morrison, who came up more than once.)

Heritage
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January 12, 2007

Siah Says So.

According to the powers that be, it’s National De-Lurking Week.  (Well done, Kerri, finally catching up with this on a Friday.)  Lurkers are known for their magical powers and distinctively repetitive IP addresses in one’s statcounter.  They sometimes send very nice emails.  They are also privy to their very own Wikipedia entry. 

I Googled the hell out of this and can’t find out where this week stems from.  Can anyone give me a head’s up on where National De-Lurking Week started?

Regardless of origin, Siah heard about this week.  And she’s been standing in the kitchen every morning, staring at me while I assemble my snacks, asking me why I haven’t posted about it yet.

“Hey.”  She pauses to lick her paw.  “Hey!  I would like some cat nip.  And can you please clean the litter box?  Or I’ll start sleeping on your chest again, with my claws just underneath your neck, making you all squirrelly.  Come on, lady.”     

I do her bidding, every time.  She’s very convincing.  And irresistibly cute.

Her new collar is very jazzy.

So de-lurk, if the urge strikes you!  (And also, remember to submit your Grand Rounds posts to me at kerri@sixuntilme.com by Sunday night at 5 pm EST.) 

Have a good weekend!

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January 11, 2007

Take that, Squirrel!

Things were starting to look a little fuzzy.  I was having some trouble, seeing blurry bits, and a pounding in my brain that was matched only by the sounds of people’s heels on the industrial flooring here at dLife. 

In particular, it was my right eye that was bothering me.

The panic was on a slow boil, starting with those little questions that would creep in between meetings and editing.

“Kerri, did you test?  Maybe you should test and make sure you’re not popping out of range.”

I comply with the voices in my head.  Quick finger prick reveals a spot on sugar of 104 mg/dl.  (Which was always the sugar they splashed out on meter commercials.  B.B. King was always 104 mg/dl.  Recently, I’ve seen commercial results of 99 mg/dl.  Damnit!  They do so love to challenge us.)

“Kerri, maybe you’re stressed out.  Are you stressed out?”

I assess the situation:  Nothing too stressful kicking around.  Feeling calm, for once.

Except for the nagging suspicion that something else is going on with my eye. 

After talking with Chris about it, (Kerri:  There’s something in my eye.  Chris:  Go have it checked.  Kerri:  Seriously, there’s something going on.  I’m concerned.  Chris:  Go have it checked?  Kerri:  I should have it checked.) I made an appointment with my retinologist.

Dr. Retina popped in the drops and I sat in the waiting room with Chris while my eyes dilated.

“I can’t see a thing,” I said, almost comforted by the fact that it was absolutely normal under these circumstances to be half-blind.

He took my hand.

Dr. Retina came out and summoned me.  “Kerri?  Right this way.”  I settled into the big beige chair in the last room on the right. 

“So, let’s see … you’re three months early for your follow up.  Something going on?”

“Actually, yeah.  I’m seeing some spots and blurry bits sometimes.  It doesn’t appear to be only when I’m high or something like that.  And my blood pressure is fine – I just had it checked.  But I’m concerned that the hemorrhage you found in September has progressed.”

“You, nervous?”  He chucked me a grin as he slipped on his Hannibal Lector-style miner’s cap to examine my eyes.  “You seem cool as a cucumber.”

“You have to be kidding me,” I leaned back in the reclined chair.  “I’m a nervous wreck about everything.”

He gave me a stern look.  “I know.  I was being sarcastic.  You need to relax a bit.”

He blinded me with those intense white light bars, then the miner’s cap.  He blinded me with the machine you lean into and settle your chin and forehead against the bar.  Every few minutes, we had to take a break because my eyes were tearing up due to the intensity of the light.  The technology of an eye exam, up close and personal.  All things considered, he blinded me with science.  (You had to see that one coming, right?)

He flipped up his mask. 

“I can’t even mark that box.”

“What?”  I couldn’t see a damn thing.  I rubbed my eyes with the back of my wrist in efforts to acclimate to the normal lighting.

“The box that indicates retina damage.  What you have going on in there is so small, I can barely see it.  That’s why this exam was so long, because it took me a while to actually find the hemorrhage this time.  There’s no bleeding into your eye.  I can barely tell you have diabetes, never mind two decades of it.”

I grinned. 

“We’ll slate you for follow up in May.  We’ll keep close watch on that little … what did you call it?”

“The squirrel.  An eye squirrel.”Damn him!

He washed his hands at the white sink in the corner of the room. 

“The squirrel.  I’m thinking he’s not the cause of your eye strain at work.  Do you spend a lot of time on the computer?”

My inner-blogger cringed.

“Yes.”

“And do you take a lot of breaks?”

“Not really.”

“Okay.  I’m recommending that you get a diffuser for your computer screen.  And maybe you want to go over to my buddy at LensCrafters and look into diffuser glasses to wear while you’re doing computer work to reduce eye strain.  And relax, would you?”  He patted me on the arm. 

I stumbled as gracefully as I could back out to the waiting room.

“How did it go?”  Chris stood up as I walked over.

“Good.  Everything is good.  No change.  He couldn’t even check the box.”

Take that, Squirrel.

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January 10, 2007

The New Doctor.

Dr. CTIt took me a while to find a primary care physician out here.  (Mostly because I had previously never left RI and was naively convinced that doctors didn’t practice outside of the borders of my fine, tiny former state.  Oh, and laziness.)

I made a few phone calls to area physicians.

Ring.  “Hello, you’ve reached the offices of [doctor].  Our offices are closed.  Our business hours are from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, closed on Wednesdays.” 

Open six hours a day?  Only four days a week?  No way.  Picked another one.

Ring.   “Yeah?  What?”

I hung up. 

Ring..  “Hello, Dr. Pompous’s office.”

“Yes, I’d like to see if Dr. Pompous is taking new patients.”

Barely concealed laugh.  “You’ll need a referral.  Dr. Pompous doesn’t bother with patients without referrals.”

I made a face.  Then hung up promptly.  Stupid fools.  No way to treat a patient, potential or otherwise.  What was with these people? 

I closed my eyes, ran my finger down the list.

Ring.  “Hello?  You’ve reached Dr. CT’s office.  How can I help you?”

“Is the doctor taking new patients?”

“Yes.  Would you like to come in to meet her?”

Meet her?

“Yes.  Can I make an appointment for a physical, too?  Or do I have to meet her first?”

I heard a muffled sound, as though the receptionist was leaning in and covering the phone a bit.

“Sure.  I have to be honest with you – I’ve never had a patient not want Dr. CT.”

Sold.  I made the appointment and visited with my new doctor last week. 

Dr. CT sat me in her big, comfy office and talked about my health.  She put her cell phone in her drawer and told the receptionists to hold her calls.   

We talked about the big issues:  diabetes, fitness, blood pressure, pregnancy (no, I’m not), and my overall health goals.  She reviewed my last A1c and told me she wanted to have me under 7%.  I laughed and told her I would also like to be under 7%.  We talked about steps towards that goal.  I watched as she made notes that read, “Type 1 – 20 years.  Good health.  Big sense of humor.  Lives with boyfriend.”  We talked about stress.  About anxiety.  And we touched base briefly about the new Rocky movie. 

I felt like she listened.  Really listened.

They also hooked me up to an EKG machine, which I had never experienced before.  “You’ve been diabetic for 20 years and, even though you are in very good physical condition, we want to make sure there aren’t any unseen issues.” 

Appreciating her thorough perspective, I nodded.  “So what do I have to do?”

I have never felt more like Frankenstein’s monster in my life.  Exposed almost entirely, my doctor and one of her assistants covered me in those sticky tabs and connected the wires.  My mind started to race.

“I’m wearing a pump.  Will it short out?”

“There’s underwire in my bra.  Will I be electrocuted?”

“I feel like Frankenstein’s monster.”

She laughed at the last one, and said, “Well, it’s all over now.  See?  It was that painless.  Everything looks perfect.  And now you can stop feeling like Frankenstein’s monster.”

“Can I rip off the tabs and roar?”

She laughed again.  “Sure.”

She hummed haunted theme music as she switched off the EKG machine.  I sat up, slowly, and ripped the tabs from my body, letting loose with a quiet, but fierce monster roar.

“I can assure you – that has never happened in my office before."  She paused.  "But I wish it had."

I’m pretty sure this doctor is a keeper.

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January 09, 2007

Hosting Grand Rounds

Please email your submissions.  I’m very honored and excited to be hosting Grand Rounds here at Six Until Me next week!  The theme is "Emotions in Healthcare."

Submissions are due on Sunday, January 14th by 5 pm EST.  They can be emailed to kerri @ sixuntilme.com.   Please put “Grand Rounds” in your subject line and include the following in the body of your email:

Blog Name: 
Blogger Name:
Blog URL:
Post Name:
Post URL:
Short description of post:

My edition of Grand Rounds will be posted on January 16th.  

(Siah has asked to play host, and I’m currently entertaining the thought.)

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January 08, 2007

Weekend Synopsis:

Night Out in Norwalk

NurseBestFriend and her Dearly Beloved came to CT for the weekend. They came. We saw. We all drank a considerable amount and suddenly became that Loud Table that poses for pictures.  (DB, NBF, me, and Chris, in that order.  The lady grinning above us, we do not know.  But she looks mighty happy.)

Making Chocolates.
Sunday provided a trip to the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium, a jaunt to the fantastic Chocopologie, and the four of us peering through the windows to watch the chocolates being made.  Man, that place is fantastic.

It was so nice to have company for the weekend, even though NBF did call my cat "enormous," despite the fact that her cat is so massive that it meows and the floorboards shake.EXIST for January  It needs a carseat to travel in the car.  I'm convinced it's big enough to reach the pedals and the steering wheel at the same time.  She should hide her keys.

Sunday night finally produced the January edition of EXIST, with several new writers and the addition of regular columns.  Check it out! 

And Monday morning proved to be a kick in the head - latent response to going to bed in the wee hours of the weekend mornings. 

Damn, I need a nap.

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January 05, 2007

Honored.

It's great to be acknowledged by anyone for the time you put into a project, but it's even sweeter Blog Award.  (ha!) to be recognized by your peers.   

It's an honor to have been even nominated for a OC Blog Award, and I'm extremely humbled to have won for Best Type 1 Blog and to have received Honorary Mentions for Best Blog and Best Female Blogger.  Thank you to everyone who thought of me during the voting.  And thanks to Allison for all of her hard work on this project. 

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who reads this blog.  I realize that I'm edging ever-closer to "broken record" with this sentiment, but this blog - and all of those like it - prove to me every day how I am not alone.  (And judging by my blogroll, I'm definitely not alone.  Have you seen how many there are?)

Knowing you are all out there makes diabetes a lighter burden.  And I can't thank you enough for that.

EDIT:  The January edition of EXIST will be out on January 7th.  Be on the lookout!   

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January 04, 2007

On the Wrong Foot.

I’m not pleased with the way the first work day of the new year started out.

5:00 am.  Abby is pawing furiously at the top of my head, milling around and licking my shoulder.  Siah is asleep on my ankles.  Chris is fast asleep just a few inches away from me.

The pillow is damp.  The bedsheets are cold.  My shirt is stuck to me and wrapped around me like a maypole ribbon.  I feel a bead of sweat run down my forehead and trickle down my neck. 

There is a bottle of juice on the bedside table.  All I have to do is reach my hand out.

My brain is fully functioning.  Internal Motivational Speaker was on the case. 

“Kerri, sit up.  Remove the cat from your head and drink the juice.  You’re low and you know it.  This always happens when you do a set change before bed.  I know the site pulled and you had to, but you should have expected this.  Why didn’t you set an alarm at 3 am?  Tell Chris you need help.  Wake up, Kerri.”

I would have nodded in agreement.  I needed to ask Chris to help me.  I wanted to reach my hand out and shake his shoulder.  But I couldn’t move.  I was trapped at the bottomI'm at the bottom of this one. of this well, so low I couldn’t make my body respond to my mind’s requests to move.

Drifted back to sleep.  Stirred again to see that it was 5:23 am.

“Get up!”  Motivational Speaker screamed in my ear.  My hand twitched.  Someone dropped the bucket down into my well and I clutched on to it.

Unzipped the case.  Why do I feel the need to test, even when I am completely certain I’m low?

34 mg/dl. 

Uncapped.  Desperately drained the bottle – no counting sips.    The bright white sheets I had put on only hours before going to bed were now splattered with juice.  Hair, damp and tangled against my head.  I sat propped up on my elbows until the juice started to infiltrate my system and I started to come around.

“I’m low.”  I said it to no one in particular.  Just to use my voice.  Abby meowed in agreement.

Then I felt that fear, prickly and subtle, sneaking up on me.  Why was I awake but couldn’t move?  Why was I able to think those thoughts but my body wouldn’t respond?  Is this what it feels like to slip into a coma?  Is this what it’s like to be paralyzed?  Where is that line between “just low” and “too low?”  And what keeps us from slipping over that line? 

It sounds so dramatic.  I re-read this and I think, “Okay, Kerri.  You were low.  We get it.”  But it wasn’t the low that made me nervous.  It was my lack of response.  I’ve been 34 mg/dl before.  I’ve been 52 and 78 and 27 and 101 and 309 mg/dl.  I’ve seen every number from my age to 535 mg/dl.  I’m not proud of that ridiculous range, but it’s the truth.  Drink the juice, move on.  But I’ve never felt trapped in my own body before.  I’ve never been “of sound mind” but unable to make my own hands move.  It completely freaked me out. 

When Chris and I talked about this later that night, I was a little bit upset. 

“It wasn’t that I was low.  I know that it’s temporary and they pass and it’s okay.  It was that I knew I needed to get up.  I knew I needed to grab that juice.  But my body wouldn’t respond.  It was like I was stuck at the bottom of a well and my voice didn’t carry to the top.”
  
He put his hand on my shoulder.

“But you’re okay.  You’re okay.”

Yes, I’m okay.  But it was a disturbing way to start the week, hoping someone would drop down a bucket.

I'm giving Internal Motivational Speaker a raise.

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January 03, 2007

Miriam E. Tucker - It's Your Life!

Journalist?  Diabetic?  Potential hot-air balloon enthusiast?  Miriam E. Tucker has been a type 1 diabetic since 1973.  A full-time medical reporter by day, she covers diabetes news for doctors. Her fantastic freelance work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and Diabetes Forecast magazine.  Miriam agreed to subject herself to a handful of questions.  (Brave girl.)

The Interviews

Kerri:  When were you diagnosed with diabetes?  What were the circumstances?

Miriam E. Tucker:  September 1973.  I was 9 years old, and was just about to enter 4th grade. My parents had decided to take me out of the private religious school I had been attending since kindergarten and switch me to the neighborhood public school, where I knew nobody.  I was absolutely terrified, and I’m convinced that the anxiety I’d been feeling all that summer is what brought my diabetes on at that point in time. 

I had all the typical symptoms:  Intense thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, and weight loss.  My mother, who had just read an article about diabetes in the newspaper a week earlier, called my pediatrician and said “I think Miriam has diabetes.”  He said he doubted it, but advised her to go to the drugstore and buy some urine test strips.  They turned colors, and I was admitted to the hospital on Labor Day.  I missed the whole first week of school.

But, I was lucky in one sense:  If you have to get diabetes as a kid, there’s no better place to be than Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.  It was—and still is—one of the leading research and treatment centers for type 1 diabetes in the world.

Kerri:  What are the biggest advancements in diabetes management, in your opinion?Miriam E. Tucker

Miriam:  In my lifetime, #1 has to be blood glucose testing.  When I started out in the 1970’s, I tested my urine with a mini-chemistry set that included a dropper, a test-tube, and foil-wrapped pills.  I’d put in 2 drops of urine and 10 drops of water, then drop in the pill.  It would fizzle up and turn colors, from blue to green to bright orange.  When it stopped, I’d shake it—being careful not to spill or touch the bottom, ‘cause it was burning hot—and compare it with a color chart on the wall. 

Blue was “negative,” meaning that my blood sugar could have been anywhere from 0 to around 200. Orange was “4 plus 5.” No clue what those numbers meant, but I did know that it meant my sugar was really high, perhaps corresponding to a blood sugar of anywhere from 250 to infinity.  But of course, since it takes several hours for sugar to go from blood through kidneys and out, those values were completely irrelevant to what was happening in my body at the present moment anyway.    

Blood sugar testing today is still no picnic, but at least you’re not in danger of scalding yourself…and it actually gives you useful information!

For me, #2 would be the new insulin analogs—both the short-acting ones like Humalog and Novolog, and the long-acting Lantus and Levemir.  Thanks to those, I can manage my diabetes with a flexible basal/bolus regimen just like the pumpers do, without having to wear the gadgetry.  (Note to pumpers:  Don’t bother trying to convert me…Many have failed before you!)

Kerri:  What inspires you to take care of yourself?  Are you inspired by loved ones?  Is there someone or something that fuels your desire to stay healthy?

Miriam:  Tough question.  For me, it’s not loved ones.  I’m single, and my immediate family lives far away.  And back when I did live with them, I didn’t take care of myself despite their efforts.  I’m very independent, and I do things on my own terms, not because someone tells me to. 

In fact, it wasn’t until 1995, when my doctor told me I had too much protein in my urine and would need to start taking an ACE inhibitor drug to protect my kidneys from further damage, that I finally “got religion.”  For more on this, please see the story on my website entitled “Taking Charge of my Diabetes.” 

As I noted in that piece, the kidney thing startled me into the realization that nobody was going to do this for me:  I had to take control of my diabetes, for my own sake.  Another way of saying that, I think, is that I finally “grew up,” which of course is not connected with chronological age. As much as I hate to say it, fear is a powerful motivator.  I’m terrified of going blind, losing my kidneys, or losing a leg.  I will do what I can to prevent those things from happening.

But on the flip side, the self-satisfaction I feel when I see a good number on my meter also motivates me to keep trying.  For a funny and slightly twisted take on this concept, please see my story entitled “Real Motivation for a Healthy Lifestyle.”  

Kerri:  Having lived with diabetes for more than 30 years, how do you feel about the promise of a “cure?”

Miriam:  Oddly enough, I don’t think about “cure” very often.  So much of what we hear that’s supposedly the Big Breakthrough never gets to the point of even being tested in humans.  Seems like diabetes has been cured thousands of times in mice and rats…I mean, if you’re a rodent and you still have diabetes, you need to hire a better agent!

But seriously, we all know science works in baby steps:  First there were insulin pumps, then pumps with algorithms to help you figure out your dose, now, a couple decades later, we’ve got a pump connected to a continuous glucose meter. Slowly but surely we’re getting closer to that “closed loop.”  Would a fully functional artificial pancreas be considered a “cure?”  Perhaps…But that could be a couple more decades away.

Similar story with islet cell transplants, which looked so promising a few years ago. If researchers could just figure out a way to do it without totally suppressing our immune systems and also preventing the islets from pooping out after a year or two, it’ll be great…Oh, and figure out a way to make enough for everybody.  There is progress in each of those areas, but again, baby steps.
To me, progress includes advances other than actual Cures.  Even if I had to keep taking shots for the rest of my life, I’d be thrilled to have a drug that could prevent or treat complications like retinopathy or kidney damage…And it might happen.  

I think it’s important to celebrate the small stuff.  At the same time, I try to live each day fully, embracing life despite the diabetes.  To be completely honest, I don’t think there will be a cure in my lifetime.  Obviously, I’d love to be wrong.  But what if I’m right?  You have to have a Plan B for happiness. 

Kerri:  What makes you want to write about diabetes?  What are you aiming to accomplish with your pieces?

Miriam:  Depends on the audience.  In my day job writing for doctors, I try to give them a quick-read update on the latest medical news, reported from the meetings they don’t have time to attend and from the journals they don’t have time to read.  Whenever possible, I try to add extra info that they won’t get from the drug company reps who visit their offices. 

In my freelance writing for general audiences, my goals have changed somewhat over the years.  Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s there was less media coverage on diabetes, so I often wrote purely informational pieces. But now that diabetes has become front-page news, I try to educate via the personal perspective that can only come from a writer who has the condition. 

And when I write for fellow patients, I aim to be inspirational and encouraging.  Working on those pieces often ends up producing the same effect on me, which is good because they don’t usually pay money.     

Kerri:  For many people with diabetes, being diagnosed is a very frightening experience.  What “sage words” would you offer up to a newly diagnosed adult?  What about the parents of a newly diagnosed child?

To an adult:  First off, don’t panic!  Diabetes isn’t a death sentence.  In fact, you might view it as a positive opportunity to improve your eating, get more exercise, and pay more attention to your overall health.  You’ve been meaning to do that anyway, right?  Well, this is that Sign you’ve been waiting for.

While it’s important to listen to your doctor, it’s also a good idea to do your own homework.  Read up on diabetes from trusted sources, like the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org).  If you feel you need more information than your doctor is providing, ask for a referral to a nutritionist or diabetes educator.  Doctors often just don’t have enough time to go over everything that diabetic patients need, especially when they’re newly diagnosed.  

To a parent:  First off, don’t panic!  Of course it’s difficult to accept, but there is every reason to believe your child will do quite well.  

Let me tell you how different things are for kids with diabetes today than when I was diagnosed.  In 1973 there were no insulin pumps or flexible basal-bolus insulin regimens.  I started with one shot of NPH a day, then two, and then graduated to split-mixed NPH/regular twice a day, with no opportunity for adjustment or flexibility.

The assumption back then was that children are little bundles of nonstop energy, burning calories all the time and in constant mortal danger of hypoglycemia.  So, the prescription for all kids was to force-feed us three snacks plus three meals a day, no matter what.  Of course I, being completely non-athletic and an avid sedentary book-reader, ended up chubby with consistently high blood sugars.  How high?  Who knows…There was no blood sugar testing or hemoglobin A1c measurement.  But, judging by my always-orange urine test results, I obviously could have done without the 12-15 starches a day that had been prescribed for me! 

But amazingly, despite extremely poor control that persisted throughout high school, college, and beyond—My A1c was 11.9% when I finally saw a physician after graduating in 1986—Here I am at age 42 with only minimal complications:  My kidney function is normal now, thanks to better diabetes control and the lisinopril pill I take every day.  I have mild “background” retinopathy, which was treated with a laser and has now been stable for almost 10 years.  My vision is 20/20.
Of course, I’m not saying anyone should spend 20+ years in poor control — it’s now proven that controlling blood sugar as close to normal as possible reduces the risk for complications.  However, my story does demonstrate that a few bad readings don’t necessarily spell disaster.  Your child will have high sugars.  Please, don’t panic. 

One more piece of advice for parents:  Try not to treat your diabetic child differently than you do your other children.  After all, your non-diabetic kids shouldn’t be eating junk food, either!  Once I was diagnosed, my mother began cooking healthy meals not just for me, but for the entire family.  And my attempts to get out of chores and other responsibilities by “crying diabetes” never worked with my parents, either…It made me mad then, but looking back, I’m very grateful! 

Kerri:  And lastly, of course, if given the chance to have an aerial view of anything from the vantage point of a hot air balloon, what would you chose to fly over and why?

Aacckk…I’m afraid of heights AND of hot air balloons!  But, if I’m liquored up enough to climb aboard, I’d have to say New York City.  It’s one of my favorite places on Earth, and I’d love to see its gorgeous skyline from a new angle.  Seriously though, I’d have to be drunk first…Can I go by magic carpet instead? J

Kerri:  Of course you can.  Thanks, Miriam!

You can visit Miriam’s website and take a spin through her impressive online portfolio. 

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January 01, 2007

The “Year In Review Meme”

(Ripped off from Rachel.)

The first line of a definitive post from each month.  It was straHappy New Year!nge to go picking through the archives.  But also strangely therapeutic. 

Here we go!

January:  I didn’t always count the sips.

February:  Sometimes I examine the minutiae of a moment until an ache forms in both my head and my heart.

March:  I held hands with Superman.

April:  Scene.

May:  “Diabetes doesn’t define you, it just helps explain you.”

June:  I quit my job a few weeks ago.

July:  Internet access is spare STOP

August:  That I should learn to sew.

September:  My eyes were wide, wide open and my pupils were dilating further by the second.

October:  My beautiful grandmother died this morning.

November:  Dear Pancreas,

December:  The alarm goes off, forcing my hand out from under the covers to turn it off.

Farewell, 2006.  It's been a wild year. 

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