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May 11, 2007

Jenni Prokopy of ChronicBabe

Jenni Prokopy of ChronicBabe

If living with a chronic illness gave people superhero powers, it would explain Jenni Prokopy of ChronicBabe.  Jenni, creator of the empowerment resource ChronicBabe, wanted to "provide an online community for younger women with chronic health issues who want to live their best lives."  And she definitely did.  When she's not promoting her site, traveling to conferences, and bringing sexy back to women living with chronic illness everywhere, she takes a few minutes for a Six Until Me interview.

Kerri:  What prompted the dawning of ChronicBabe?  And how did you make this dream a reality?

Jenni of ChronicBabe:  I started ChronicBabe as a blog. After many years of living with chronic ChronicBabeillness, and finally feeling like I had it mangaged well, I was eager to be the resource that I never found. Especially around the time I was diagnosed, I couldn't find good resources that weren't depressing and/or horribly dull medical stuff. So I created ChronicBabe to be, well, like I try to be: irreverent, hopeful, funny, creative. A friend who's a web designer/developer offered to set it up for me, and ChronicBabe was born.
 
Now, we have ChronicBabe 2.0 - the redesigned site, which has many more features and room to start including ads, and selling information products (ebooks and teleseminars, etc.) so I can start really making a living doing what I love.
 
Kerri:   What kind of feedback have you received from your readers?

Jenni:  The feedback is incredible. I rarely hear negative Jenni of ChronicBabe!stuff; mostly, it's women who write in with stories of hope and gratitude. I get at least one message every day thanking me for creating a resource that's different from everything else out there - for helping them feel heard, and understood. And for being funny, because so many health sites are so darn serious! Those messages are often very moving, and they keep up my spirits on those big flare-up days when I don't want to work.
 
Kerri:   If someone told you, five years ago, that the internet would be one of the biggest support venues ever for people with chronic conditions, what would you have thought?  Has the internet revolutionized your own disease management style?

Jenni:  Nope. Five years ago, I thought almost all the health information online was crap. It was mostly "online brochures" for medical associations, and forums where people whined and complained. It's incredible what blogging has done for online health resources. Now we have big, great sites like WebMD and RevolutionHealth and others, and it's clearly the new direction. And we have blogs and forums where people talk solutions and share resources. It's an incredible shift.
 
The internet has only changed my own disease management style in the sense that now that I'm out there, talking about my health and preaching certain approaches, I feel like I'm accountable - that I have to do as I say. So it's a sort of self-imposed effect. And it certainly is easier to get reputable information. But overall, I'm sticking with the same methods today as I have for years.
 
Kerri:  There was Life BCB:  Before ChronicBabe.  How has life changed for you since starting on this adventure?

Jenni:  Wow... lots of change. My whole career has been tipped upside down! Instead of writing about construction all day, which I didn't love but was very good at, I now write about health and women, which I love. I feel personally connected to my work in a completely new way, which is great. My readers keep me feeling "wanted" - I know what I'm doing is worthwhile, has helped lots of people, and that's very motivating.
 
I also feel braver than ever. Jumping out of my old career track and risking everything to start something new is very scary! I'm still not where I want to be with it, but I'm on track, and I'll get there, no doubt. That risk-taking is great for me - it's made it feel easier to risk in other areas, which is wonderful for someone like me, who has anxiety and used to be afraid of TONS of stuff.
 
On a superficial level, friends tell me I look healthier and younger. I think it's because I'm happier, even when I'm stressed. I love what I do and that shines through, I think. Because I haven't changed anything else or had work done, I swear! :)
 
Kerri:   What's the takeaway message that readers should find in ChronicBabe?  Jenni, manning the table at the DIY Trunk Show.

Jenni:  That even if you're a sick chick, you can still be a Babe. It's all in your state of mind! You have to make the decision to do something good for yourself, and give yourself the space and time to grow and learn new good habits - and nurture your sense of humor. No matter how sick you are, you CAN find happiness and success.
 
Kerri:   Jenni, you're given the keys (?) to fire up the Six Until Me Hot Air Balloon.  What do you chose to fly over?

Jenni:  Iceland. I'm a huge Bjork fan, and I've seen lots of photos and footage of her native country, and it looks absolutely stunning. I would love to vacation there and just drift over all the volcanos and glaciers and hot springs and valleys and ocean and mountains - it's all so gorgeous and I think it would be both serene and thrilling at once. And I'd probably have to follow Bjork's lead and sing really loud as I flew over a volcano or something.

Thanks, Jenni!  Be sure to check out ChronicBabe 2.0 and all the new features!
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April 12, 2007

Andy Bell - Staying Fit With Type 1

Andy Bell

Diabetes can sometimes feel like a limiting factor, but other times it can push you to achieve great things.  Meet Andy Bell - fitness trainer extraordinaire and type 1 diabetic.  He's in top condition, and he credits his hours at the gym to turning his diabetes management around.  Andy agreed to "sit down" with me and answer a few questions about diabetes, fitness, and his personal story.

Kerri:    If you’re here, you’ve got one to tell:  What is your diagnosis story?

Andy Bell:  I was in the 8th grade.  I can look back and remember some of whaAndy Bellt I was experiencing before knowing that I had diabetes.  I remember being so unbelievably thirsty!  I can recall being at a University of Missouri basketball game with my good friend at the time.  He and I had just bought huge cokes from the concession stand.  I remember drinking the entire (non-diet) soda from start to finish in one drink and then looking over and telling my friend that I was going to have to go get another one because I was still thirsty!  Another similar experience was while I was playing golf that summer with my friend and his dad.  The water coolers on the course that 90-degree day were all empty!  I exclaimed to my friend and his dad that if I didn’t get a drink soon then I was going to drink from the pond on hole #5, green from the chemicals on the course.  It somehow worked out that I would make it until I got to the end of the nine holes.  I didn’t feel completing the last nine.

Finally, after many instances of blurred vision, severe cramping, and wetting the bed, mom and I scheduled an appointment with my pediatrician.  After checking my urine he quickly sent us to the emergency room where my sugars were reportedly tested in the 800’s.  Emergency room physicians were shocked that I had not slipped into a diabetic coma.  I spent the next two weeks in the hospital learning how my life was never going to be the same.  It had a profound impact on me.  I was deeply hurt.

Kerri:  Having gone through your school years with diabetes, how did it affect your relationships, if at all?

Andy Bell:  I remember my friends being very supportive.  While I was in the hospital after being diagnosed I had many visitors each day.  People gave me flowers, cards, and balloons.  I think the funniest gift that I got was a huge bag of candy that two of my close girl friends gave to me the very day that I was diagnosed!  They felt pretty bad after they learned that I wasn’t actually going to be able to eat it!  I still tease them about there gift to this very day!

Outside of that my relationships for the most part were very normal.  I have never been shy about telling people that I am diabetic.   If anything I think people respected me more for telling them about it.  They could see that I was a responsible guy for taking control of such a thing and managing it successfully.  My girlfriend now of about 6 months is extremely supportive and she has willingly and voluntarily learned more about what I do to retain control over this disease.  She is getting more knowledgeable about recognizing things that I do for it everyday.  I think that is very important for people in relationships with a person with diabetes.

Kerri:  You mentioned a time in your life when diabetes management fell by the wayside.  What kind of burn-out did you experience, and how/why did you turn things around?

Andy Bell:  At the time of my diagnosis I had been smoking and drinking for a couple years.  I was also experimenting with other drugs and I regularly smoked and even sold marijuana.  When I got diabetes I didn’t want to feel different than anyone else so I continued to participate in the same unhealthy activities.  I don’t even remember if I checked my sugars at all.  Looking back, I think it just came down to me not caring about it.  I think that I just got so used to my blood sugars fluctuating everyday that I got into the habit of feeling crappy all the time.  Things probably would not have changed if it were not for two things, my family, and being introduced to weightlifting.  My parents were there for me from day one and they will always be.  They are the number one reason why I have even had the chance to turn things around.  In combination wiPhoto by G.J. McCarthy of the Tribune’s staff th the love and support that I got from my parents I found something in weightlifting that made me want to turn things around.   In lifting weights and exercising I could do for myself and it made me feel better.  I could fight this problem.  It was the key in turning things around for me.  I gained confidence, a better outlook on my disease, and it made me feel great!  

Kerri:  As a personal trainer and a type 1 diabetic, how would you advise a fellow diabetic to start a fitness program?

Andy Bell:  I am so glad that you asked this question.  Thank you Kerri!  I want everyone to see this!

YOU HAVE TO FIND THE THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO MOTIVATE YOU TO CHANGE!  My philosophy is simple; everyone deals with something that they have to live with everyday, diabetic or not.  This can be found on the spiritual, emotional, or physical levels.  WHATEVER THE CASE ….NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO BE MOTIVATED BY THE SAME THING!  I have worked with many different people and they all have something in common, something motivated them to start on a fitness program.  ASK YOURSELF WHAT IT IS GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU!

Kerri:  What kind of obstacles did you face on your quest for fitness?

Andy Bell:  I have, and I will continue to face obstacles in my LIFE-LONG quest for fitness.  I am a fighter.   Nothing can prevent me from staying active and healthy.  One thing I can tell you though without a doubt is to always be prepared and to always think ahead.  I also think that it is very important for people to understand we all face different obstacles.  The question is, how will you handle them?

Kerri:  What are your ambitions for the future?

Andy Bell:  I will continue to be in great shape.  I will stay extremely active.  I will continue to be successful.  As long as I have Diabetes, I will always be representative of a person who does not let diabetes control me.  I control it!  I will be a role model for others to look up to and confide in.

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

Great question!  SHOW ME THE WORLD!  I am fascinated with seeing as much as I can.  I just wish that everyplace was warm!  I don’t like to be cold!

Thanks, Andy.  Stay tuned for more from Andy Bell on his quest towards making his body a testament to good health and diabetes strength.  You can find out more about Andy at his MySpace page, or through his articles at Diabetes Health and the Columbia Tribune.

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March 12, 2007

Fitness4Diabetics

Fitness4Diabetics
Just getting started can be the toughest part of an exercise program.  (You want me to lift what?  How many times?)  How many times have you wanted a personal trainer, a coach, or even just a friend who knows what they're talking about?  Well how about having access to all three?

Fitness4Diabetics is a service that provides personalized nutrition and exercise programs designed to meet your fitness goals.  (I am currently in a trial membership.  I'll have a full synopsis of the services after I return from vacation.)  I had the pleasure of talking with David Weingard, founder and CEO of Fitness4Diabetics, at the Divabetic event in NYC and he agreed to an interview here on SUM.  Let 'er rip!

Kerri:  As the founder and CEO of Fitness4Diabetics, what inspired you to start this company?

David Weingard:  I began running at age fifteen, raced my first marathon at age seventeen and about ten years ago started racing triathlons (swim/bike/run) as well. I always appreciated the positive mental and physical benefits of exercise. Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and set about to rebuild my life. I thought that I would simply incorporate diabetes into my existing life. Little did I David Weingardknow!

I learned that putting that plan into action wasn’t that simple. I had to find people to learn from (doctors, nurses, nutritionists, exercise physiologists and other people with diabetes) and make an effort to stay in contact with them on a regular basis. As committed as I was to the plan, I found it very challenging to pull it all off while balancing my diabetes, job, family and life in general.

I also wanted to find a way to help the diabetic community and the search for a cure. In 2003 and 2005, I raced Ironman triathlons (the big ones with a 2.4M swim, 112M bike and 26.2M run) and raised charity for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) New York City Chapter. I received tremendous media exposure and along the way learned from the hundreds of people with diabetes who contacted me from around the world how my efforts inspired and brought them positive energy in their lives.

I was humbled and then inspired by their messages to me and set out in search of a more significant way of helping the larger diabetes community cope with the disease. I knew that for the most impact -- any idea would need to scale to reach as many people as possible.

I also learned that many of the reasons that diabetics didn’t exercise or work on their nutrition included a lack of a support system, knowledge/training, access to Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE) and often motivation issues.

I was actually in the Denver airport on the way to race my second Ironman triathlon -- when the idea of leveraging the internet to provide ease of access to CDE certified nutritionists, exercise physiologists and , nurses who were collaborating to provide people with diabetes the professional guidance and support that they needed -- clicked in my mind.

From that point on, my energies were focused on building a company with people as passionate about helping people with diabetes as I am. I am very fortunate to have a phenomenal team of people working with me in Fitness4Diabetics.com. I am also blessed with a terrific wife Andrea as well as three sons Steven, Daniel and Jacob who have given me constant support.

Kerri:  Can you tell me a little bit about what Fitness4Diabetics has to offer to potential clients?

David Weingard:  Fitness4Diabetics provides exercise and nutritional coaching to people with diabetes designed to meet their individual goals. Our coaching team is comprised of CDEs who are also nurses, exercise physiologists, registered dietitians and personal trainers. Working with our coaches gives people with diabetes the tools to pursue their fitness goals while minimizing the uncertainty and apprehension around balancing insulin, food intake, blood glucose (BG) levels and the exercise activity.

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February 27, 2007

Grumble Grumble.

Two am.

The alarm goes off.  My response:  Grumble, grumble.Grumble.

My arm snakes out from underneath the warm down comforter.  Siah sneezes beside me, where she has taken up residence on Chris’s pillow.  I grab my kit.  Unzip it.  Fumble with the strip, trying to use the sliver of moonlight as my guide.  Prick finger.  Stick finger in my mouth.  Wait for result.  170 mg/dl.  Okay. 

Text Chris – “2:30 am – 170 mg/dl.”

With Chris away for the next week, he’s asked me to promise to do 2 am glucose testings while he’s gone, so I'll stay safe.

“I’ll be tired, though!”  The whine in my voice is almost unavoidable.  Two am?  Every night?  Oh man…

“I know, but please just do it anyway?  You can go right back to sleep afterwards.”

Grumble grumble.  But he's right.

Last night was the first in this string of midnight vampirism.  I’m not anticipating any problems while he's gone, but I am sleeping with the phone and a bottle of juice by the bed.  My mom expects a phone call by 8:30 every morning so she knows I’m alive and well at work.  I also had a brief discussion with Abby (yes, the cat) about waking me up if I seem sweaty.  She confirmed the arrangement by licking my knuckle. 

And on a completely unrelated note, I did a podcast interview for The Official Diabetes Blog.  Bit of a chat about diabetes, blogging, and diabetes education.  (I’m beginning to think that I may, in fact, speak way too quickly for human consumption.)  I hope you enjoy it!

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February 08, 2007

A Conversation with Lisa Roney

Lisa Roney

When I opened my email a few months ago and saw something from "Lisa," I sat there staring at the screen for a few minutes. 

“No way...” I murmured under my breath.  I opened the email to read Lisa Roney, author of Sweet Invisible Body, introducing herself to me and telling me she had come across my blog. 

It was one of those moments that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around.  Lisa Roney wrote the book that inspired me to write about diabetes.  It was her voice that gave me hope during a very difficult time in my life.  It was her book that served as an oasis in the desert of disheartening information about diabetes.  Sweet Invisible Body proved to me that it was possible to be twenty something and live a vibrant life with diabetes, while still acknowledging the emotional spin-cycle.

By reading those pages, I knew I wasn’t alone. 

So when she agreed to an interview, I was beside myself.  (Actually, I was beside the cat, but that doesn’t sound quite as eloquent.)

Over the course of almost two hours, we talked about diabetes.  We also talked about a car named Ramona, tossing ashes out of a moving plane, and Nancy Mairs. 

Diagnosed at the age of 11, in January of 1972, Lisa was already in the hospital for a broken ankle and finger due to a horse riding accident. 

“While I was home recovering, I was in a wheelchair.  My mother had to bring me to the bathroom, bring me my drinks, and take care of me.  As I recovered from the accident, my diabetes symptoms were becoming obvious.  There’s no pattern of diabetes in our family, but my mother remembered the symptoms from the Cherry Ames stories.  So she took me to the hospital and I was diagnosed.”

At the time, home glucose meters weren’t readily available.  Diabetics were testing their sugar levels via urine samples.  Although she is currently using an insulin pump, Lisa talked about the home glucose meter as the biggest medical advancement in the treatment of diabetes, summing technological progression up simply with, “I love my meter.”

“Are you a person with diabetes or a diabetic?  And do you really care about theSweet Invisible Body semantics?”  I asked.

She told me of a time when she was surrounded by doctors and nurses, listening in to their medical chatter, referring to the patient in room 4B as “the stab wound” and the one in 6A as “the migraine.” 

“I understand the need for the politically correct term.  But it’s not as much for the patients as it is for the doctors.  Doctors need to remember that their patients are more than just their conditions.  They say ‘diabetic’ as though the patient doesn’t even have a name.”

While the labels weren’t much of a concern, the daily challenges of diabetes proved to be more troubling. 

“When I was first diagnosed, I was fearful of episodes of hypoglycemia.  Now, the biggest challenge is the frustration towards people who think it’s this easy thing- but it’s not just a pill or an injection.” 

We talked about the cure that the medical community has a tendency to dangle in front of us, like a carb-free carrot. 

“A cure, a cure.  Only five years away, or so they say, eh?  You’ve been told this for over 35 years.  What is your perspective on this ‘cure’?”

“I’m of two minds on this topic.  There are things we need to say in order to get the cash.  It’s a social injustice how under-funded this [diabetes research] is.  But I wish patients were told the truth.”   She added that she isn’t waiting for a cure, nor does she count on one. 

I nodded, though she couldn’t see me through the phone. 

For her book, Sweet Invisible Body, it seems that her reasons for writing it are so similar to the reasons I started to blog.

“I was trying to find my voice.  There were books written by the deaf, the blind, those with cancer ... but nothing about diabetes.  But there were all these cookbooks!”  Lisa laughed.  “So many cookbooks.”

“Right.  But who are they feeding?”  I asked.

“Exactly.  Who are they feeding?  I was told I had a weird sense of plot.  And all I could think was ‘Right.  I’m supposed to be dead.’  I mean, for all intents and purposes, without insulin, I would be dead right now.”

Instead, she wrote a book that is among the most highly-regarded in the diabetes community and among the most dog-eared of my extensive collection. 

As well as providing me with a recommended reading list that took up the better part of a sheet of legal paper and some laughs about the VW culture-phenomenon, Lisa also entertained my hot air balloon question.

“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I used to hike there all the time.  I miss the mountains.”

Thank you, Lisa, for being exactly how you are on paper – warm, funny, accessible, and real.

Lisa currently teaches creative writing at the University of Central Florida.  If you haven’t read Sweet Invisible Body yet (shame on you!), you can purchase a copy here.  If you would like to sponsor Lisa and her Tour de Cure team, click here.  And if you have a story you’d like to share on SUM, please send an email to kerri@sixuntilme.com. 
  

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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!!

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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. 

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December 04, 2006

Shop4Cures

‘Tis the season for shopping.  Shopping is fun.  Very fun.  And the idea of your spending habits benefiting medical research?  Hmmm … what's that you say?

I had a chance to chat with Allie Beatty, creator of Shop4Cures and a blogger for The Diabetes Blog.Allie Beatty

Kerri:  What is your connection to the diabetes community?

Allie:  I was diagnosed with type I diabetes when I was 7 years old. I spent a majority of my childhood and adolescence (trying very hard) to ignore the disease. As I got older, I realized I needed to find a way to accept it, for the role it played in my life, and the things it has taught me.

Kerri:  What was the catalyst behind your website, Shop4Cures?  Tell me about your site.

Allie:  In 2005, I got the bad news from my diabetes management team every diabetic dreads: you’re pushing the limits and your kidneys aren’t looking so good. Rather than accept the consequences, I began investigating. I looked-under every proverbial rock found an answer I had waited my whole diabetic life to hear. The hope of a potential cure for type 1 diabetes will soon be ready for human trials. This was not a band-aid solution, like I’ve heard so many times before. I consider anything coupled with immunosuppressants to be a band-aid. The price tag to launch human trials was $1.5 million away from the total $11.5 million needed for phase I. So I decided to revamp the business objective of my site (formerly financial service related) to sweep sales commissions from online shopping to fund cure research. Shop4Cures is an affiliate shopping site that donates all sales commissions to nonprofit organizations researching cures for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and stroke. It’s a simple answer to a complicated problem. The problem is the growing cost of healthcare and the rising number of people affected by illnesses. Federal funding for cure research is strained and these dollars must come from another source, other than tax dollars. Why not fund a critical need from an already exorbitantly successful industry? Online shopping to fund medical research. It’s symbiotic economics.

Kerri:  People always note what inspires them.  What inspires you, in a diabetes sense?

Allie:  I’m inspired by people who can take the experiences they had with the disease and make it into an altruistic virus. Spread your sickness for the better. Does that seem twisted? Not to me. I’ve endured many battle-wounds with this disease. If I can take as many hits as I have (believe me, I’m no stranger to diabetic coma, stroke, or ketoacidosis) and still live to tell about it—my job on this planet is not over. In fact, given the opportunity that I have on thediabetesblog, it feels like I have a brand new opportunity to share anything and everything I’ve got. I am thankful for the things my life has afforded me, diabetes included. Don’t get me wrong: I won’t miss it when it’s gone. But for today, I will make the most of it.

Kerri:  In your opinion, what research method is on the best path towards a cure?

Allie:  Hands-down, Dr. Denise Faustman is the greatest hope I’ve seen in over 20 years. She has cured type I diabetes in non-obese mice. The diabetes was NOT imposed through the laboratory. Her clinical results were reproduced in other labs throughout the world. There is undeniable evidence that she has come closer with her research than any research I have seen or read about previously. The human trials will begin Phase 1 in about 18 months. Once it begins, I will be on it like white on rice. Dr. Faustman is my monument of hope for a type 1 cure.

Kerri:  Since your diagnosis, what are the Top Five Best Advances in Diabetes?
  1. The insulin pump
  2. Humalog
  3. Symlin
  4. Humility
  5. Maturity  
Kerri:  How do you feel about the blogging community?

Allie:  It’s like someone handed me a megaphone and said, “Let’s hear it.” Not to mention I’ll probably save myself a ton of money in therapy. Seriously, I love it. I love that people actually care what I have to say. Even if nobody reads my blogs– just play along with me. I’ll feel so much better

As for the rest of the blogging community—I love what I read in other blogs. You, Amy Tenderich, Allison Blass, Gina Capone…now I feel like a name dropper (and I hate people like that). In all seriousness, there is something inexplicably welcoming about a site you can go to, read people’s personal thoughts on a topic and think to yourself: THAT’S SO TRUE! Or in some cases, THAT’S COMPLETE HOGWASH! My point is: diabetes is now a topic of world-wide mention and the fact it has isles-and-isles for browsing on the Internet makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. I’m being a wiseass, but I hope you know what I mean. In such a technical place, we can all connect on personal levels with this disease. And I love the blogging community for making this possible.

Kerri:  Finish this sentence:  "Insulin, to me, smells like _________________."

A household cleaner. I previously thought insulin smelled like Windex. However that statement is now untrue because SC Johnson keep adding new scented formulas. Insulin, to me, smells like old school glass cleaner.

Kerri:    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?

Allie:  I’d run reconnaissance to find where Osama bin Landen is hiding. 

The Season for red and green stuff.
Thanks, Allie!  And what would you, Faithful Reader, choose to fly over in your hot air balloon?

 

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