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August 29, 2008

I Love The Dirt.

The Friday Six:  August 29, 2008 editionIt's been almost a month since my last Friday Six, so I thought I'd dust off the photoshop file and revive it for this fine Labor Day weekend.  You know why?  Because I'll be in the woods this weekend.  Camping in the wilds of Maine.

Stop laughing. 

So yes, Chris and I are making the long trek to Maine this weekend to spend our holiday in a tree.  I mean in the wood, camping.  And before you collapse into laughter, I have camped before.  Back in high school, my friends and I used to go camping in the summer all the time.  I love hiking, and there's something so serene about being in a place where there's no television blaring, computer whirring, or people connected to any kind of network.  We're camping out in Acadia National Park one night, then staying at a bed and breakfast in Bar Harbor the next.  I'm very excited to disconnect from EVERYTHING for the weekend.  And it's my first camping trip with the pump, so I'm hopeful that I can keep it clean and safe from the freaking bears. 

In the spirit of camping, long car rides, and packing (oh my!), I've realized that a simple walk in the woods requires some serious backpack stocking-up.  We hit the grocery store last night and I bought several protein bars, high-carb power bars, and a few sports bottles of juice.  At home, I took quick stock of the supplies I need to bring "just in case," like insulin and syringes in case my pump craps out in the woods (i.e. stops working, not craps out in the woods ... you know what I mean), extra infusion sets, test strips, and a cooler to store all the cool-temperature supplies in.  Diabetes means hoping for the best and planning for the worst, and for me, that translates into not packing light.  (We did pack marshmallows, a chocolate bar, and graham crackers, of course.  We are going camping, after all, and what's a night around the campfire without s'mores and insulin?!)

In quasi-political news, a certain flash file made me laugh out loud.  Something about the iced coffee and the grinning faces made my day.  And Biden doing the Cabbage Patch in the back seat.  See for yourself and blame my brother for sending me the weirdest things on the internet.

Team Six Until Me is walking again at the Rhode Island JDRF Walk on October 26th!  If you are in the RI area and you'll be at the walk, please come by and say hello!  Just look for the rag-tag crew of silly people, anchored by my grinning head and the grinning heads of my friends and family. 

Last week, Chris and I visited NYC and went to the Top of the Rock.  Yes, it's a big ol' tourist draw and I can't pretend to be anything more than a tourist.  (I'm from Rhode Island - we hardly ever leave the borders of our own damn state! Living in CT is like breaking all the rules.)  Anyway, going to the top of Rockefeller Center was very cool.  The view, as you can imagine, is remarkable.  Of course we took a pile of pictures.  We haven't had much time to get into the city lately, but I'm always impressed with what it has to offer every time I go.

And unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to do a vlog this week, but I'll do one early next week.  And I think I may need to finally respond to the gauntlet laid down by Mr. Bennet himself - for the Whack-A-Meter challenge.  I have plenty of old school meters in my home that don't work and I don't think there are even strips being made for them anymore.  It may be time to take out my aggressions on those symbols of diabetes.  Anybody with me?   It may actually feel good.

Have a good three-day weekend, and I'll see you on Tuesday!  (After I pick the spiders out of my hair.  Oh good Lord.)

August 28, 2008

Everybody Exercises.

There are days when I feel like I'm draaaaaging myself to the gym.  Literally, like scooping my legs off the floor, forcing them into my workout clothes, and dawdling over to the door.  The weeks after the wedding and through the beginning of August were particularly hard, because my numbers were on the level of "sucking royally" and my body was infected with a general feeling of "vlah." 

Thank goodness that Chris is usually ready to roll.  It helps to have someone who is also dedicated to being healthy, because it makes it easier for me to keep from slacking off due to my own laziness or vlah-ishness.  Especially when work gets busy and freelance is hopping - getting my sorry butt to the gym becomes a real challenge.  Chris and his equal quest for good health and a long life serve as more motivation to get moving.

It also helps that the Sausage does her part.  

By trying on my running shoes. 

The cat wears sneakers.  Enough said.

Wrong foot, Siah.  The other one.

There you go, Siah.

There you go, piggy.  That's the correct foot.

Diabetes requires support on all fronts.  Even from the cat. 

August 27, 2008

You Gotta Fight ... For Your Site.

I am pretty crap with site rotations.  This is a fact, evidenced by the same pad of callous on my fingertips from testing and the smudge of dots on my thighs from infusion sets.  Back when I was taking injections, I favored my arms for a few years, then my stomach, then my legs, building up layers of scartissue and absorption issues with every prick.

I know site rotation is important, but it's never been my strong point.  Until I'm forced to do it.  Change is something I'm reluctant to make sometimes, especially when it comes to managing pain.  I have to be honest - most of the time I prefer using the same site locations because they sting less.  I test on the tips of my fingers because those nerves aren't as responsive and the lancet doesn't sting, for the most part.  Same for my thighs - the infusion sets don't sting as much when they are nested in an already-broken in area.  

But those wild highs forced me to change my stubborn ways.  (Yes, wicked stubborn.  Ask Chris.  Or my mom.  Or ... anyone, I guess.)  And now, after over two weeks of using expanded body real estate, my numbers are faring a bit better.  I'm seeing much better absorption using lower back sites and even though the infusion sets sting like hell for a few minutes after going in, my postprandials are more in range.  I feel like a bit of a stooge for being so stubborn and letting a little sting or a smidge of fear keep me from taking control of this crap. 

This has nothing to do with being stubborn, but I liked the photo.

Ruts - I get in them.  I'll do the same thing, every day, expecting something to change.  And I get all moody when it doesn't.  I frustrate myself because I let complacency or comfort or sometimes fear keep me from making even the tiniest of changes.  I'm now accustomed to having my infusion set on my lower back and I feel comfortable using it.  And my body seems to be enjoying the change, too, because my thighs are starting to heal up and the speckled red dots of old sets are disappearing (helped along by some high octane moisturizers, exfoliation, and some good old fashioned neosporin). 

It's not all awesome, though.  With this new site location on my lower back, the tubing is a bit more exposed and I've found myself forgetting to tuck it back into the waist of my skirt.  It's also less-than-cozy on the first site night, because I sleep on my back and I can feel the infusion set.  But these discomforts are worth it when I'm seeing my blood sugar at 147 mg/dl an hour and a half after lunch.  I'll freaking take that. 

Stubborn Kerri ... she needs to shake things up now and again!  (Only in first person, not in third person.  Third person is not as effective.)

August 26, 2008

Corn On The Carb.

Elizabeth Joy Arnold(Editor's note:  Sometimes I like the title of a post so much it makes me smirky.  Man, I love a good pun.) 

Today's post is from my friend Elizabeth Arnold.   Elizabeth is the bestselling author of two novels, with a third due out next summer.  She’s been diabetic for over thirty years, and is the "proud, doting owner of two cats, a husband and an OmniPod, all of whom she considers her best friend forever."  I've had the pleasure of chatting with Elizabeth a few times and she's sharp, funny, and definitely on the level.  She offered to write a guest post for SUM, and I'm honored to have her contribution!

*   *   * 

I woke up the other morning, and my sugar was 287.  And my first thought?  Well my first thought was a word that can’t be printed on a “family” blog, but my second thought?  That I’m an idiot.  I’d eaten corn on the cob the night before (sweet New Jersey corn which has approximately a bazillion carbs), and I could only guess at the correct bolus as one cannot use Calorie King for this corn; it’s THAT sweet.  And I must’ve come up about 20 carbs short.  I know I shouldn’t really eat this corn because I rarely get it right, but you know, it is truly one of the world’s greatest foods.  I do happy dances in July when I see the cornstalks rising on local farms, and when the ears start to grow I fall on my knees in rapture, so giving it up is Just Not An Option.  So I eat and inevitably my sugar’s high, and then of course I beat myself up.   

I also despise myself for those nights my husband’s had to give me glucagon, knowing how freaked out it makes him to see me unresponsive.  (Although for some reason I never feel guilty when I catch a low myself, just think, Yay!  I get to pig out! eat 15 grams, test again and if necessary eat another 15 grams!)

But you’ve all been there, haven’t you?  You test and your number’s not where you want it to be, so you start blaming yourself for not being perfect.  I’d assume it’s twice as bad if you’re the parent of a diabetic, and–since you’re not superhuman–can’t keep your child in perfect control.  And even worse for many type 2’s who probably blame themselves for the disease itself.  The problems we face aren’t the fault of the diabetes, they’re because we’re just not working hard enough.

It can be the same with complications.  I felt guilty about my retinopathy, even though my A1C was in the high 5’s at the time I was diagnosed with it.  I blamed the teenage-Elizabeth for not being more careful, all the afternoons (and yeah, there were a lot of them) when I’d gone out with friends and not taken a shot to cover pizza or fries, NEVER testing in public because, when you’re 14 years old, exposing your blood to the world seems excruciatingly embarrassing.  Even when I was five or six, before the days of blood testing, whenever my urine tests read 4+ I’d be ashamed, and sometimes fudge the numbers so my parents wouldn’t see.

Does this make sense?  Well of course logically, it doesn’t.  We feel guilty because we do have so much control over this disease, but we all know diabetes can be a stubborn and temperamental (insert curse word of choice), trying to prove it’s stronger than all the time and energy we put into controlling it.  There are site issues and infections and stress and hormones, and just days our bodies decide to go wacky for no conceivable reason.

So what’s the answer?  Who knows?  I think it’s our tendency to want to place blame on things we're not happy about, and who can we blame for this other than ourselves?  I guess you could look at diabetes as a separate entity, pin a photo of a broken pancreas on the wall and throw darts at it, or something.  But that doesn’t work for me–I’ve been diabetic for virtually all my life, so it’s an integral part of who I am, which means hating it would be like hating my own right arm.

There probably is no real answer, except to remind yourself that you’re human, and humanness + diabetes = inevitable fallibility.  So I’ve been telling myself that I’m going to just relax when I feel like beating myself (or my meter) upside the head.  If my sugar’s high, I’ll make myself a cup of tea (or rather, take a correction dose, test for ketones and THEN make the tea.)  Put up my feet and go easy on myself until I feel okay.  The “bad” sugars aren’t bad, they’re just information I can use to make things better, and why should I feel ashamed of information?  Ashamed if I don’t test to get that information, yes, but not if I don’t like the results of that test.

So…here we go.  The truth is my sugar wasn’t 287 on the after-corn morning, it was actually 302.  (Eek!  That sounds so much worse, doesn’t it?  Even though it’s only 15 points higher?  Even writing it down was kinda painful.)  But I’m going to remind myself it wasn’t really my fault, just a mistake, and that making mistakes once in awhile is no big deal.

And dammit, I don’t care, I’m having corn again tonight.

*   *   * 

For more from Elizabeth Arnold, including information about her writing, visit her website at www.ElizabethJoyArnold.com

August 25, 2008

F-Ing Insurance Company.

Over the last three months, I've received no less than ten phone calls from a collections agency:

"Mrs. Moron?  You owe us $100 for insulin pump supplies."

"It's More-own.  Actually, it's Sparling now.  And I do not owe your company anything.  I've been paying my co-payments with each order."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Sparkling.  Our records show that you owe one hundred."

I tell them they are wrong.  They say they'll check their records and call me back.  About a week later, the phone will ring again:

"Mrs. Sparlinc?  Your balance is $60 owed to us."

"That is incorrect.  I don't owe you guys anything.  Can you send me supporting documentation?  I want to make sure our records are synching up.  And my last name is Sparling.  With a g at the end."


They send another bill, instead of supporting documents.  The bill is for $100 (I thought they just said $60?)  I call them:

"This is Kerri Sparling.  I received another bill from you, but I believe it is incorrect."

"Yes.   You owe $40."

"The bill says $100.  Last time you called, you said $60.  Now it's $40?"

"Wait, I was wrong.  You owe $60.  Please send a check or we will have to pursue legal action."

"This is ridiculous.  Do not call me again.  I am writing a check for $60 today.  Don't call me, don't bill me without supporting documentation, and please, please get my name right."

I mailed out the check last week, on August 19th.  I received correspondence from them today, dated August 21st:

Idiot insurance company.

A refund of $40, made out to "Kerri Morron [sic]."  Frigging idiots.  Now I'll wait for them to send back my $60.  In the meantime, I'm sure they'll send me a bill.

Just Say No.

Holy delicious.Saturday afternoon, we were at Diane's birthday party (Happy Birthday, Chris's mom!), and there was a decadent chocolate cake to celebrate.  Sunday played host to my friend Kate's wedding shower, where there was an open bar, cookies, and a delicious butter cream cake.  Yet I didn't taste any of these items.

And I have no clue where this willpower came from.

After a startlingly high A1c result last month and a string of elevated blood sugars, I feel like I'm starting to get things back under control these days.  I'm giving my thighs a rest and trying out new infusion set sites, and the absorption has undoubtedly improved.  I'm also doing my best to keep a closer eye on numbers and be a bit more proactive instead of reactive with corrections (i.e. counting carbs more precisely and giving my insulin time to get in before eating in efforts to avoid a spike), which seems to be working.  My meter average has gone from 160 mg/dl two weeks ago to 143 mg/dl - and I'll take it.

Granted, I'm not all good behavior.  I had an awesome peach martini on Saturday night with my husband.  And I have been indulging in too much tasty iced coffee on those long drives home to Rhode Island. Some stuff is bolus-worthy!  But with such a focus on diabetes management, I'm becoming stingier with indulgences.  I wanted to taste that chocolate cake, but the fabulous smell of chocolate was wiped out by the thought of a big bolus, the potential for a post-prandial spike, and then the low that may result from the correction.  My blood sugar at the time was 89 mg/dl, and I wanted to keep the steady number more than the cake.  Same for the wedding shower treats - it was easier to say no than to handle the potential highs and lows.  (Even though the cookies at the shower looked so exquisite I almost buckled.)  But I keep thinking about a baby someday.  And a lower A1c.  And feeling better.  It made it easier to just say no.

While I was at the shower, my friend's mother (a type 2) remarked while the cookies were being passed around, "You have such great willpower!" 

I laughed.  "Today.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring!" 

Diabetes has become like chess - I'm looking a few moves ahead and basing my decisions on the future rather than the present.  I don't plan on letting diabetes checkmate me ... instead, I'll steal its horse and run off.  For now, I hope I can make the willpower last!

August 22, 2008

Friday Face-Time.

Six Until Me - Vlogging Since ... Three Weeks AgoLow blood sugars are not fun.  Over the past ten weeks or so, I hadn't experienced many lows, but I've hit more than my fair share of highs.  (And not normal highs - instead, those warm, feverish highs that made my eyes ache and suits my teeth up in sweaters.)  But the lows seemed to have returned a bit, in part to a tendency to aggressively correct highs and the lack of carbs in my house this week. 

Like this morning:  I woke up and sat on the side of the bed for a full five minutes before getting up to test. I knew I was low, but it's like I'm unable to let myself drink the juice before testing.  Instinct?  Impulse? The room was thick with a cottony fog and my head was spinning, but I couldn't function clearly enough to grab the bottle of juice from the bedside table.  I grabbed my meter, waited patiently for the 52 mg/dl to pop up on the screen, and only then would I let my hands wander towards the grape juice bottle. 

It's frustrating.  My lows over the years have become progressively stickier, taking longer to come up and with symptoms that linger far beyond their textbook-issued 15 minute window.  This week's vlog entry is about lows and their irritating ways.  (And I tried my best to speak  more slowly, but I think I'm somehow related to the Micro Machines guy.  I just talk too damn fast.) 

Click on the logo to visit my YouTube channel, don't laugh at my crappy flashcards, and let me know what kind of vlog topics you want to see covered in the future! 

August 21, 2008

What Can I Eat?

Rachel Garlinghouse, happy about pie."What can I eat?" 

This is the question that so many of us with diabetes ask ourselves.  Diabetes, having so much to do with the balance of food, insulin, and glucose numbers, can create a very complicated relationship with food.  Foodie Rachel Garlinghouse was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 24 years old, forcing her to examine food through a whole new lens.  With blogging as her medium and food as her weapon of choice, Rachel is now a FoodBuzz foodie with a mission:  showing the world that real people eat real food. Here's her story, in her words:

As a person with diabetes, how many times have your food choices been questioned or dictated?  “Can you eat that?”  “Doesn’t that have too much sugar in it?”  “I think there’s angel food cake available.”  


I think people generally mean well.  My friend and I, along with our husbands, were recently planning to have dinner at my friend’s house.  We decided on brownies and ice cream for dessert with me bringing the brownies.  She asked what kind of ice cream my husband and I liked and at the same time that she asked, “Should I get sugar-free?” I said, “Anything but sugar-free.”  

After I was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age twenty-four, I began a two year bi-polar relationship with food.  In the beginning, I followed my doctor’s orders down to the last carb for fear of ending up back in the ICU in DKA.  Then, as I began to get acclimated to my new life with diabetes, I learned how to “cheat,” consuming, in excess at times, the foods that I should avoid or only eat in moderation.  Then I would feel guilty and ban myself back to a strict diet.  Then I would cheat.  This cycle continued.  

My love of cooking and baking made my life with diabetes even more complicated.  I felt that my passion for creating recipes only lead to more wrong attitudes and actions.   I couldn’t figure out how to balance my disease with food.   Additionally, as many of us do, I constantly felt the “food police” monitoring my every bite.  The kitchen was often a place of release and regret---with no balance between the two.    

This past summer a colleague of mine suggested that I blog about my recipes.  At first I resisted the idea, knowing that my already busy-life would get busier if I added on yet another project.  Furthermore, wouldn’t food blogging on make me want to eat and cheat more?  Despite my reservations, the concept of food blogging weighed heavily on my mind, and I decided to try it.  

On July 11th, I created my first entry, drew in my breath, and hit “post.”  Within a few weeks I was picked up by Foodbuzz, and now I’m officially a pro-blogger.  My entries are typically Tasty looking d-friendly salad here.part-story, part-recipe, so I am able to share a part of myself with my readers while enhancing their dinner tables with Baked Parmesan Chicken or Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Ever since my diagnosis, I have become even more determined to write something that makes a difference, and now I think I’m coming to that place.  I have learned through my blogging experiences that I am far from alone in wanting healthy recipes that satisfy the stomach while not compromising blood sugars.  

I invite everyone I know, with diabetes or not, to check out my blog and then get busy in the kitchen.   I would love for you to visit me too, and let me know what you think.  And go ahead and surprise your friends and family by serving a delicious dish that is not “sugar free” and devoid of flavor and pleasure.  Let them know that real people eat real food.  

Editor's Note:  Thanks, Rachel!!  For more from Rachel, including great photos of her creations and some d-friendly recipes, visit her blog at Sugar, Spice, & More Things Nice.

August 20, 2008

Siah, What Is Wrong With You?

She's a menace. 

While I'm convinced she doesn't have a thought in her head, I've realized that Siah is some kind of agent of evil residing in my house.  She sticks her claw in my arm when she's feeling neglected.  She sleeps on my pillow at night, making my head her personal resting place.  She meows in my face when she wants me to change the tv channel.  Bossy little piglet.  She makes me absolutely crazy.  It's a shame she's so damn cute.

Siah, being a weirdo.  Imagine my shock.

I wish she had fallen asleep with her face slapped against her belly, but alas, Siah was just waking me up as she rolled herself all over the bed, trying to clean every inch of her fat little gray body.

She's so cute.

Yet so, so annoying.

August 19, 2008

Grand Rounds 4.48.

This is an evil card catalog.  For real.When I needed information as a kid, I used to have to walk to the library downtown after school, talk to the librarian, and then paw through the card catalog until I found the right section to explore.  Dewey Decimal and his Evil System were the bane of my existence, because I'm terrible with numbers and I can't find my way out of a paper bag.  No sense of direction plus no math skills equals ... a reverence for Google.

Thankfully, the Internet has given me a quick and relatively pain-free way to explore the vast expanses of information out there.  But on Sunday night, after all the Grand Rounds submissions had been received and I was fast asleep in bed, I had a terrible nightmare.  About Grand Rounds.  And the damn Dewey Decimal System.

In my dream, I couldn't find my laptop anywhere.  I was trapped in the library in my hometown, and for some reason, I was clutching printouts of every Grand Rounds submission I received this week.  I walked into a large room and was faced with ... The Card Catalog.  [cue evil music]

"Kerri!  We meet again."

"So we do, Card Catalog."

"And I see you have your Grand Rounds post to do, eh?  Well your task is to ..."  he wrung his card cataloggy hands together, grinning gleefully.  "Organize them using the Dewey Decimal System!"

"No!"  I threw my hands up in defeat.  "Not the System!"

"Yes!  And you have exactly one hour, or the Sausage cat gets it."  The Card Catalog opened the "Ca-Cu" drawer and I saw Siah sitting in there, meowing at me pitifully.

"Oh crap, okay I'll do it!"  And I sat at a desk, the submissions in hand, and attempted to organize.

Clinical Cases submitted a post about one of my favorite bloggers, Berci Mesko, and the relationship between genetics and surgery.

Ian at Wait Times and Delayed Care pontificates (his word, not mine) about whether or not security concerns will prevent Web 2.0 from really booming.

Tiny Shrink waxes philosophically with some feedback about the fine line between physicans and "quacks."

Leslie at Getting Closer To Myself reminds doctors to remember the emotional issues that their patients are grappling with.  (And she also mentions one of my favorite shows:  Nip/Tuck!)

Vitum Medicinus offers up that "it's sometimes the little things, just as much as the brilliant life-saving interventions, that will impress your supervisors ... and more importantly, your patients."

In Sickness and In Health sent in a post about a marriage where the partners have been each others' salvation for so long that they do not know how to take care of themselves as separate individuals.

Emily of CrzeGrl, Flight Nurse admits to the pain associated with constantly exposing herself to the tragedies of her profession

Touching upon the wonders of pregnancy, Martina of FreshMD writes about pregnant patients who claim they hear their fetus crying.

Canadian Medicine writes about a man who considers himself "on the side of compassion and on the side of the angels."

Doc Gurley hits on the hot economics of diabetes, homelessness, and food inflation and how we, as a society, can help. 

(And she's the only 300 I had.  She's the true Spartan.) 

Laurie, author of A Chronic Dose, hones in on the patient-to-patient relationship and how this language of understanding can make a huge difference in care.

Dr. Signout writes about how doctors don't seem to be entitled to the same emotions as visitors at the hospital - even when they are both checking on their loved ones.

Suture For A Living muses on why doctors aren't pressed for the reasons for their outbursts of anger.

Dr. Val and her Voice of Reason writes about the language barrier in some hospitals and how a few missed words can change the landscape of a diagnosis.

Kim at Emergiblog submitted a great post about the importance of an up-to-date medication list and how precision and precaution keeps you safe. 

Dr. Steinerman at SharpBrains offers his commentary on the definition of "dementia" and how the medical community can get "lost in the lexicon."

Health Observances is looking to spread the word about a teenaged girl who is stricken with atypical motor neuron disease and her family's quest to find answers.  They are speaking in the language of hope here - can you help Jenny?

Captain Atopic (great name) of Degranulated sent in a very enlightening post about knowing the difference between complementary medicine and straight-up snake oil.

InsureBlog gives us the play-by-play of which country is offering the best chances for cancer survival.

Paul Mason, writer of Neuroanthropology, gives us 10 steps to better brain health.  Ten steps to health - that covers both the "science" and the "mathematics" part of this category.

David Williams of the Health Business Blog gives a nod to the Wall Street Journal for their stent study coverage.

Dean Moyer of The Back Pain Blog gives some tips for avoiding back trouble (and the graphic on this page made me giggle).

Tech Medicine has a great post about creating an automated voicemail system for non-urgent messages from patients - eliminating the need for chicken scratch on notepads.

Walter at Highlight Health talks about recent advances in stem cell biology that may change the course of treating cardiovascular diseases.

Isn't this one of the basic things a doctor is supposed to know?  Medical Jokes, Cartoons, and Videos sent in a post about a medical student learning how to use a stethoscope.

The Cockroach Catcher gives us a post about lithium to treat bipolar disorder, and how only time will tell if this is the best method.

Susan at the Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good writes about a volunteer chaplain reflecting on the new and the old in the ED

Rachel and her Diabetes Tales talks about finding an acceptable breakfast joint for the carbohydrate conscious.  Breakfast, in this instance, is classified as "recreation."

If you're hiking, running, or generally traipsing around outdoors, Dr. Paul Auerbach offers up some tips on managing foot blisters.

Christine at the Corn Allergic writes on the day-to-day trade offs to be made in efforts to stay healthy and have fun in a world filled with allergens.

Nancy Brown at Teen Health 411 suggests that you see your doctor if you have a history (see?  HISTORY - it fits!) of stress fractures.

Henna has been kicking around since the Bronze Age, but the now-used temporary black henna ink is under scrutiny at Allergy Notes for causing scarring and allergies

These posts deserved their very own Dewey Designation for aiming at the funny bone:

Bongi deals with taunts for his pirate-wear headgear.  

Theresa Chan twitters with ease about the entrepreneurial possibilities of maggot therapy.

Dr. Jolie Bookspan blogs about the sports miracle that is the mustache.

And what could be my favorite post:  The Samuari Radiologist gives up some medical malapropos that made me laugh out loud.

"Evil Card Catalog?  I finished.  They're all organized."

ECC shuffled over.  I heard Siah rumbling around in the drawer.  "You're done?"

"Yes.  Can I post this now?  And can I please wake up, to my real life where there's internet and Google and all the modern conveniences of 2008?"

"I guess."  ECC opened the Ca-Cu drawer again and Siah bounded out.  She and I held hands (okay, I grabbed her paw and she stuck her claw in my palm) and we jumped out of the library window into the garden below, where we tumbled to safety.

And I awoke from this nightmare, understanding completely why there was no entry for "800 - Literature."  Because it was saved for me, and my ability to spin a pointless yarn. 

Visit Rural Doctoring next Tuesday for another edition of Grand Rounds!

August 18, 2008

Diabetes Real Estate.

Control is tough to come by these days - and it seems like the more I fret about it, the more tangled my numbers become.  I'm trying a more relaxed approach (yes, I am as high-strung as I seem, why do you ask?!) to diabetes management.  Like this past weekend:  instead of shlepping myself home to RI and spending more time in the car than with friends and family, I decided to stay home in CT and relax.  I watched movies.  I worked on some writing I was trying to finish.  I made iced tea and cleaned my house.  (And I also tried on my wedding dress for no reason, but that's neither here nor there.)

Overall, I tried to freaking relax.  And it helped - my numbers didn't act out.  Apparently the absence of cortisol helps blood sugar stability - who knew? 

In addition to decompressing a bit, I also tried out a few new site locations last week.  I'm wondering if my thighs are a bit overused and if absorption is suffering as a result of the scartissue.  To give my legs a rest, I made good use of an arm site and a back site.

Infusion set on the back of my arm.

The arm site I've done before.  I can insert it myself (on my left arm, since I'm right-handed), it is pretty pain-free, and is away from my abdomen, which I prefer.  The mechanics of an arm site are a bit tricky, though.  If I aim the tubing towards my shoulder (see the photo), the tube goes up my shoulder, through the sleeve of my shirt, down the side of my body and then comes to a rest at my waist, where the pump is clipped.  It's a little complicated, because the tubing sometimes pinches where it's snaked underneath the side of my bra and it tickles a smidge, too.  Also, I almost ripped the site off a few times when putting on/taking off a sports bra, but overall, I just need to remember where the hell the site is and I don't screw it up.

Using my lower back as a site for an infusion set scared the crap out of me, but I knew it was possible because I saw Sara stick her CGM trial sensor there at the CWD conference.  It just made me feel squeamish thinking about the needle being inserted into my back ... actually, just writing that is making me feel all eeeew.  But, after psyching myself up and reminding myself that if it hurt, I could just rip it right out, I used the ol' Quick-Serter to stick a set into my lower back, towards the side.

Infusion set on back.  Thought it would hurt.  Was wrong, thankfully!

This site didn't sting much going in (totally unused real estate here), but the first bolus was a bitch and a half.  It stung like crazy!  Thankfully, it only took a few boluses to really get the site settled in and by the end of the first day, I didn't feel it at all.  I've worn it to the gym, to the movies, and in clothing with varying waist bands with no problem.  The only difference between this and wearing it on my thigh is that it's higher and the tubing doesn't naturally tuck down my leg, so snagged tubing is a risk.  Overall, I'm digging it, and grateful for the option.

New real estate options for my pump?  Check. Chillin' out, maxing, relaxing all cool?  (Name that sitcom!)  Check.  Have any of you guys tried these sites?  Any options for new places? 

And how was your weekend?  :)

August 15, 2008

The Diabetes Police.

The diabetes police are usually well-meaning, usually nice, but most often think they are the resident experts on all things diabetes. Frustrating for sure. Dealing with the diabetes police usually means supressing a sigh, carefully explaining the situation, and hoping it sinks in.  But when the person policing you is someone you love, it can be tricky.

My video post this week is a short cartoon about being hunted by the diabetes police and how Siah, a little iced coffee, and the support of some friends can make a difference. 

Stick people have it easy. They don't even have faces. And cookies fall from the sky.

August 14, 2008

CGM Denial - Yes, Another One.

Battling for CGM coverage.Dear Liana Masone, Grievance Associate at Oxford Health,

What can I do to help you understand why my request for a continuous glucose monitor should be approved?   I've received your third and final letter, and according to your team:

"We have thoroughly considered all of the available information submitted in support of your appeal.  Based upon review of that information and the terms of your plan, a medical director with a specialty in General Surgery, continues to uphold the denial of coverage for the Dexcom sensors.  This type of continuous glucose monitoring has not been shown to provide superior health outcomes.  Therefore, an Oxford medical diretor has determined that coverage for the Dexcom sensors is Not Medically Necessary, as the term is defined in your Certificate of Coverage."

You know what's great?  The part of your website that talks about the 2008 Healthy Bonus Offers, claiming the following:  "We recognize there are ways we can help members reduce out-of-pocket health are costs.  We believe in the power of prevention: that is  by taking a little extra time to eat better, exercise and reduce stress, individuals can do a better job of staying on the path of wellness."

Is that so?  By seeking approval for the Dexcom continuous glucose monitoring device, I am trying to stop as many of the fluctuations in my blood sugar control as I can.  I am also trying to safeguard my body against hypoglycemic unawareness, because my body does not recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar with any reliability.  I am also preparing for pregnancy and making these CGM efforts for my baby and my husband.  Proactive approach, no?  You would do well to be more proactive in preventing complications, instead of being reactive and paying for them later.

According to the paperwork you sent me, I have been advised that I have exhausted my internal appeals and may now file an external appeal for CGM coverage.  You have also told me that I need to enclose a check in the amount of $25.00 made out to the Treasurer, State of Connecticut.  This check is the first item on your appeal application checklist, showing me how committed you are to making this appeal process as difficult as possible.  

I have been a type 1 diabetic for almost 22 years.  The paramedics have visited my home due to morning hypoglycemia.  My A1c is currently above 7.5% and not within the range for pre-conception, as advised by my endocrinologist at Joslin.  I do not want to experience diabetes-related complications, and I am trying to stay as healthy as I can. I will continue to fight for approval of a CGM.

In the next week, your team will receive a letter from my endocrinologist, stating her recommendation for CGM coverage.  You will also receive my current blood work results, a copy of my certificate of coverage, and yes, my check for $25.00.

I look forward to your response.  


Kerri Morrone Sparling

August 13, 2008

Three Coffeys, No Sugar.

This is one of the most remarkable stories I have heard in a while – three siblings, all with type 1 diabetes?  When Lori first emailed me several months ago, I was intrigued by her site, 3CoffeysNoSugar.com.  After hearing her family’s story, I had to share it with you guys.  Lori, take it away!

Kerri:   What's the story behind your involvement with diabetes?

Lori:  Our middle child, Emily, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes almost 7 years ago. She was 2 1/2 years old at the time, and still in diapers. She had been peeing excessively and her diapers were like bowling balls; they would sometimes fall off her tiny waist from the weight of all the urine. That was really the only symptom she had.

I worked as a research scientist in my life "pre-kids," so I have the type of personality that researches every little symptom in children.  I had read somewhere that increased urination was a sign of juvenile diabetes, so I scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician and requested a test for diabetes. I'm sure her doctor thought I was overreacting. To be honest, I was hoping that my suspicions were wrong.  When they pricked her tiny finger for a blood test, I expected the nurse to say, "Everything is normal; she must have a urinary tract infection."  Instead, the nurse said, "Don't panic, but her number is so high that this meter won't read it."  (Too late, I was already panicking!)

The Three Coffeys

So began our journey with type 1 diabetes. That was October 19, 2001.  Fast-forward almost five years, and my youngest child, Matthew (age 5), was exhibiting extreme thirst symptoms. I had checked his BG on previous occasions when I thought he was drinking too much water, and in the past, his BG levels were fine.  But this one particular morning, he had peed his bed again, and when he woke up, he was so thirsty that he went to the bathroom and drank water using a bathtub toy as a cup.  I checked his fasting BG and it was close to 200.  Later that day, our beloved pediatric endocrinologist confirmed our worst fears: he, too, had type 1 diabetes.  That was September 7, 2006.

We were devastated by this second diagnosis and remained in shock for quite awhile. Yes, we already knew how to "manage diabetes" (I use quotation marks because there are many days I think the possibility of managing this disease is a myth!!). Many people pointed out this silver lining to us: we already knew what to do!  But since we had been dealing with D for five years, we also knew all the bad parts, like severe low BG episodes, sick days with ketones, counting every gram of carbohydrate, the long-term risks, and the day-in, day-out relentlessness of it.

Fast forward seven months, and our oldest daughter, Sarah (age 11), remarked that she had been feeling very thirsty lately and wanted to check her BG.  My husband, Brian, was out running errands with the kids, so he tossed Matthew's diabetes kit to her. She checked her BG and remarked to Brian, "It says 310."  Brian scolded Sarah, saying "Sarah! Don't tease about something like that!" but Sarah held up the meter and said "I'm serious."  Brian immediately called me on the cell phone, and my first thought was that she had sugar on her fingers and needed to wash her hands first. I remember thinking, "No way, there is no way Sarah can have diabetes, too. It just isn't possible!"

When they arrived home, Sarah washed her hands thoroughly and re-checked. Now, the meter said "Hi."  I grabbed a second meter and an alcohol swab and checked myself. 470.  We grabbed a third meter and cleaned a different finger with more force. "Hi."

At this point, Sarah began crying and saying "No, no! Please don’t let it be diabetes!"  She had watched her sister cope with this disease for 5 1/2 years, and her brother for the past 7 months. She was old enough to understand the huge burden this would be placing on her life. She and Brian held each other and sobbed. (I went upstairs and called a friend for support.  We deal with grief differently.)

And that is the story behind our involvement with diabetes.
Kerri:  Holy cow, that’s quite a story! Can you explain the "Three Coffeys No Sugar" title?

Lori:  After Emily's diagnosis, we learned about JDRF and began participating in the Walk to Cure Diabetes. 

For four years, our team name was "Emmy's Dream Team."  The year of Matthew's diagnosis, he was diagnosed just one week before our walk, so we changed our team name to "Em & M's Dream Team."  After Sarah's diagnosis, we knew we needed yet another team name.

Our last name is "Coffey", and we also happen to love coffee and all things coffee-related.  Brian suggested the team name "3 Coffeys, No Sugar" as a play on words. We have three Coffeys (our 3 kids) with type 1 diabetes, and our goal is for them to have normal blood sugar levels (i.e. "no sugar").

We have had a lot of fun with this new team name. : )

Kerri: Why coffee? And how has your awareness campaign and fundraising angle been received by your community? What has the feedback been like?

Lori:  As I stated above, we love coffee and drink a lot of it. Even 7-year-old Matthew has a cup of coffeeThe Coffey's coffee. with breakfast every morning (a splash of coffee and mostly milk).  After choosing our new team name, we approached a couple local coffee shops about sponsoring our team, either financially or with in-kind donations.  Brian became friends with Lori McCombs, the owner of Leaves-n-Beans, and he was impressed with her line of Storyteller's Blends coffee.  Each blend of coffee tells a story and has an eye-catching label to go along with it.

It was Brian's idea to partner with Leaves-N-Beans to create our own Storyteller's Blend of coffee.  We have a friend who is a graphic artist and had created our "3 Coffeys, No Sugar" logo.  Another friend, Vicki Taufer at VGallery (www.vgallery.net) had taken a wonderful photograph of our kids as part of a fundraising/awareness presentation for JDRF.  Vicki generously allowed us to use that photograph on our coffee label.  Vicki's husband, Jed Taufer, created a mock-up of the coffee label and sent that to Lori McCombs' graphic designer.  A dear friend of ours, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated the $500 necessary to pay the graphic designer and get the coffee labels created.

We chose a blend of coffee that is very delicious. It is "Golden Breakfast Blend", but we drink it around the clock. Leaves-N-Beans roasts their own coffee in small batches, so it is always fresh and very delicious. Our coffee is available online http://leavesnbeans.com/ and $7 of every pound sold goes directly to JDRF.

We had a "Release Party" in May at the Leaves-N-Beans cafe and invited friends and family to taste samples of our coffee.  So far, our coffee has done really well; we've sold over 150  pounds.  We were featured in the local newspaper, and this attracted quite a  bit of interest.  Lori McCombs reports that people stop by Leaves-N-Beans, requesting  our coffee.  Some have driven here from an hour away just to buy our coffee beans!

Not only is this coffee raising money to help find a cure for diabetes, but it is educating the public and raising awareness about type 1 diabetes, which is priceless!

Kerri:  What's next for you and your crew?

Lori:  We are currently gearing up for the Central Illinois Walk to Cure Diabetes on September 7.  This is our 7th year participating in a JDRF Walk, and our 2nd year as "3 Coffeys, No Sugar."  Last year, our family team raised a phenomenal $34,000!  We do a huge letter-writing campaign and have a crew of dedicated friends and family who do their own mini-fundraising campaigns.  Our goal for this year is $40,000.

I am currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Eastern Iowa branch of JDRF.  This is a huge honor for me!  My next big goal is to see a JDRF office opened in Central Illinois.  There are so many more families we could reach if we had local staff. For the time being, I am immensely grateful to the dedicated staff at the Eastern Iowa office.  We wouldn't be where we are today without their hard work.  Our Central Illinois walk has raised over $1 million in just 3 years. I'm thrilled and very proud!

I'm not sure what the future holds for our family. I am very hopeful that technology will continue to improve to make diabetes management easier and more precise. In the meantime, we'll be busy raising funds and awareness for diabetes. It is just what we do. : )

Editor's Note:  If you want to try out their special blend, visit Leaves n' Beans and order up a batch of 3 Coffeys, No Sugar.  All proceeds go to the JDRF to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes.  Coffee and a cure - these are my kind of people!

August 12, 2008

Grand Rounds - Hosted Here Next Week.

Submit your best post!Quick afternoon post:  Next week's edition of Grand Rounds will be hosted here on Six Until Me! 

Submissions are due on Sunday, August 17th by 10 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:

There's no theme, because I can't plan that far ahead.  But I can safely assume that Siah will be an active participant in next week's Grand Rounds.  :) 

Free Test Strips? Do Tell!

Diabetes is expensive.  With test strips clocking in around a buck apiece, it's no wonder that every time I open the bottle I hear "ca-ching!"

So when I hear that there are free test strips being given out, my interest piques like crazy.  And I had to share with you guys.  :)

Thanks to Kelly Close and the crew at diaTribe, there is a year's worth of One Touch test strips up for grabs. According to the diaTribe site, "You have a chance of winning a grand prize of one year's worth of OneTouch Ultra test strips (based on about 5 strips per day). That's 18 boxes each containing 100 OneTouch test strips. There are also 18 runner up prizes, each consisting of a box of 100 OneTouch Ultra test strips, and you will have a chance to win any of these 19 prizes. That's a lot of strips!" 

Now here's where I disclose the fact that I write a column for diaTribe, so I'm not exactly unbiased in urging you to sign up.  I am, however, a fan of accurate information about diabetes being passed around, so I'd be pro-diaTribe regardless of my professional association.  

The point is, if you sign on up, you can receive not only good diabetes-related information, but you can also score a year's worth of test strips.  That's a deal if I ever heard one!!  Sign up between August 3rd and August 31st to enter! 

August 11, 2008

Beach Blanket ... Pumping.

Growing up in southern Rhode Island means having access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.   The sound of the ocean waves, and of the seagulls flying overhead.  The smell of clam chowder (chowdah), fritters, and onion rings from the beach stand.  The ancient woman who sold popcorn from the kiosk in Watch Hill.  The hot sand and the hot sun.  I love it all.

My best friend and I hit the beach in RI this past Saturday, drinking iced coffees, swimming around in the August ocean, and gossiping our heads off.  I'm very pro-pump when it comes to doing my diabetes thaang, so I do what I need to do in order to make it part of every day.  Wearing it at work or out to dinner doesn't present many issues, but the beach is tricky indeed.  Here are a few tips I use to keep the pump from interfering at the beach:    

Pumping can be a day at the beach.  Holla.

Top Five Beach Pumping Tips:

1.  Bring a bottle of water.  If you're like me and you love to swim around like an awkward little dolphin, you'll find that the infusion set can get covered in salt and sticky sand.  Sometimes I have trouble reconnecting my pump due to the slty build-up.  Using a water bottle to rinse off the site helps remove the stick and get me reattached without any trouble.

2.  Bring an extra towel.  If you are like me and you stay attached to your pump while you lay on the blanket, make sure you keep it covered.  An extra towel or t-shirt is handy to wrap up the pump in, keeping it cooler and away from the heat of the sun.  

3.  Have back-up insulin.  Whether it's the salt caked up on your site that's keeping you from reconnecting or if there's a malfunction with you pump, it's important to keep an insulin pen in your beach stash.  I have one of those Frio things that works great to keep the pen cool and collected. 

4.  Sunscreen it  up.  If you're an Irish girl who burns with the best of them, sunscreen is your friend.  This past weekend, I blew it a little and didn't wear enough sunscreen, and now my body is slightly crispy.  Pushing a new pump site into sunburnt skin is not very comfortable.  Also, wearing enough SPF keeps me from getting wild infusion set tan lines. 

5.  Be confident!  People are going to stare at the pump.  This is a fact - they can't help it!  It's probably not something they see every day, and it's hard to hide in a bathing suit.  Just remember that we're wearing this device to manage diabetes, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.  Let 'em stare.  ;)

What do you do with your pump in the hot, hot heat?  Any tricks you want to share?  (And any good recipes for chowdah?  I think I'm ready to try and make some at home!) 

August 08, 2008

My Glucose Meter Talks To Me.

I spoke with my meter about whether or not he's comfortable talking on camera.  After some cajoling, Meter decided he was ready for his close-up.  He wasn't happy about the nose, and he was a little frustrated that cars kept driving by as we were taping, but overall he was pleased to share his perspectives with the diabetes community.

My Glucose Meter Talks To Me.

Coffee?  Yes, it's making me do strange things.  Why do you ask?

August 07, 2008

Because I Got High.

High blood sugar nightmares?About two months ago, I woke up at around 3 am after a terrible nightmare.  The dream was graphic and felt so real that it took me several seconds to realize it didn't actually happen.  (I dreamt that I had run over my own cat in the driveway and was holding its twisted and bleeding body.  Horrendous dream, and I woke up crying.) 

Once I was fully awake, I tested my blood sugar and saw "291 mg/dl" on the screen.  Holy middle-of-the-night  high.  I dialed in a correction bolus and went back to sleep.  I didn't think anything of the nightmare correlation until last night.

I dreamt that my husband was murdered by the guy who lived next door to me growing up.  It was a horrible dream!!!  I heard the gunshot in my mind, felt the heat of panic, and the tears on my face were hot and real.  I woke up with a start and reached for Chris, who was safe and asleep next to me. 

The clock read 4 am. 

The meter read 354 mg/dl. 

(The reason for this high was unknown, but it was a gross, sweaters on the teeth kind of high that made me want to pee and brush my teeth at the same damn time.)

I don't usually have nightmares, and I find it odd that the nightmares I remember most clearly corrrelate very neatly with a blood sugar issue.  Normally, my dreams slip away from me once I've been awake for a few minutes, and I rarely remember the entirety of them.  But this nightmare, I can still taste.  It was terrifyingly clear.   

I have heard about low blood sugars causing nighmares, but has anyone heard of highs doing the same thing?

August 06, 2008

Katie Janes Is A Star.

Some people just make you smile, even if you have never met them before. 

Thank you, Katie Jane, for being the bright spot in my day. 

CWD: Jay Hewitt.

Photo credit to JayHewitt.comRole models are crucial when dealing with a chronic illness, and the CWD conference wasn't short on it's share of role models.  From session leaders like Nicole Johnson to the parents who take care of their children with diabetes, heroes were everywhere.  The keynote speaker at the banquet was Jay Hewitt, and he was diagnosed with type 1 when he was 24 years old. 

His speech was nothing short of inspirational.  Aside from the fact that he is in top physical condition (not to mention pretty damn handsome) and well-spoken, Jay said some things that resonated to my very core. 

"You are not alone," he said, striding across the stage and smiling down at the group of kids who were looking up at him.  "All of your friends here are doing the same thing.  I checked my blood sugar before I walked out here on stage so I wouldn't forget my own name."

He talked about his Ironman competitions, saying "I don't forget that I have diabetes, but I forget that other athletes don't."  This struck a chord in me, and made me value this diabetes community even more.  I have the comfort of people who really understand, both in my personal life and on the Internet, and sometimes I forget that other people don't have a good grasp on how diabetes really affects our lives.  (I wrote about this very concept in last month's Generation D.)   

Jay encouraged the kids to set goals and take control of their lives.  "Make the bad things that happen to you the best thing that happened to you.  Seek failure.  Think about failing.  Set goals that have failure potential.  Failure is not a bad thing.  If you've never failed, you aren't trying hard enough." 

"People ask me, 'Why do you do this?'  I do this for the finish line.  You have to earn your finish line.  You don't earn your finish line on race day - you earn it when no one's watching."

I thought about what we, as people with diabetes, do every day.  We test when we aren't reminded.  We take our insulin not because we're nagged but because we want to be healthy.  We seek out information and talk with our doctors and do the best we damn can, even when no one's watching.  This journey with diabetes isn't for show and isn't for accolades.  It's for life.

Role models are important for kids with diabetes.  They're important for adults with diabetes, too.  Thank you, Jay Hewitt, for being someone I can look up to. 

August 05, 2008


AHHHHHHHHHH!Last night, I started the long trek back to RI for today's Joslin appointment.  I threw my bags into the Jetta, queued up a few good driving cds, and began the drive.  Once I was on the road, I took a few minutes to call my dad back.  We were mid-conversation when I felt a little tickle on my left arm.  I looked over absently and saw an enormous gray spider sitting patiently, wearing what looked like a sweatervest.


"What is it?"

"DAD THERE IS A HUGE SPIDER ON MY ARM OH MY GOD I AM FREAKING OUT."  My voice was at a fevered pitch but I was doing my best to refrain from completely losing it while I was driving.

"A spider?  Just brush it off, Kerri."  I could hear the laugh in his voice.  I was not amused.

"DAD I CANNOT DO THAT.  IT IS LOOKING AT ME."  Panic rising.  The spider laughed.  I freaked out and flung my arm against the window.  The spider yelped, then fell into my lap and ran down my thigh towards my feet.


He sighed.  "Kerri, keep it together.  Call me back."  He hung up.  I drove on in silence, screams trapped behind my tightly-closed lips.  I took the first exit, drove to a restaurant parking lot, and put the car gently into park. 

Then I threw open the door, half fell out before realizing I needed to undo my seat belt, and stumbled away from the car yelling something that sounded like, "Oh my God what a massive spider AHHHHH! I cannot believe AHHHHHH!  Ewww!!!"

My hands were scraping invisible ceilings above my head.  I kept touching my legs to make sure there weren't spiders crawling around on me.  My ponytail came loose and I was sweating.  Thankfully, there was a truck filled with guys just finishing their construction job parked right next to me.

"Um, miss?  Are you okay?"  The driver stepped cautiously out of the car, putting his hands in front of him and moving towards me slowly.

"I'm fine.  Spider.  There was a big spider."  Breathing hard.  Feeling so, so stupid.

"Is she havin' a fit?"  A voice from within the construction truck, followed by another man murmuring.

"Nope, just a spider.  Miss, do you want me to check your car for the spider?"

I'm sure I looked like a lunatic.

"Yes, please.  Please check.  It is gray and seriously huge.  It's wearing a sweatervest, for crying out loud." 

He laughed.  Two of the guys checked my car while I watched from a safe distance of at least fifteen feet.

"Miss?  There's nothing but these things," one of them lifted their hand up and showed me a collection of used test strips that were cached underneath the passenger seat. 

"No spider?  He was just there!" 

"He's gone now."  AHHHHHHHHHH!

I smoothed my hair back and thanked them with the most mature voice I could muster.  They laughed at me and told me not to worry, because the spider was more scared of me than I was of it.

Somehow I doubt that.

August 04, 2008

SugarCube Society.

"Just a spoonful of medicine helps the sugar go down" is the tagline for The SugarCube Society, a group of crafters on Esty run by Melody Claussen-Furry.  Her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005, and she and her family decided to start a JDRF walk team to raise money for research.  With all proceeds (minus shop fees) going to the JDRF, it's no wonder that The SugarCube Society is making a difference.  I had the chance to connect with SugarCube Society Coordinator Melody and ask her about the reasons, and mission, for her site.

Kerri:  What inspired you to start the Sugarcube Society?
Melody:  In 2005, our son Christian was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was a complete shock. He asked me if he had eaten too much sugar. I explained that it didn't work like that. I played the blame game with myself (didn't I have a diabetic relative somewhere in my lineage? Or maybe it was because I had undiagnosed gestational while I was pregnant with him? Or maybe it was giving him whole milk at 11 1/2 months old?) After spending three days in the PICU with him, the reality set in and in turn, so did acceptance. We immediately focused on learning how to help him manage his disease. We were totally overwhelmed by all the information, but even more so, by watching our son administer his first dose of insulin via a syringe. He was so tough about it. I think he cried more about wearing the hospital gown than he did from the pain of the shot.
He's had a lot of growing pains caused by managing his diabetes. The fear of short-term and long-term complications was the catalyst for us to fundraise for the cure. We do the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes every year and will continue to until there's a cure, but it didn't seem like enough. So, I decided to draw on something I do to raise money. I make and sell crafts and jewelry online on Etsy (an independent crafters' marketplace). I decided to open a shop specifically with the intentions of donating all the proceeds to JDRF. I first listed some items I created, but then I called on my crafting sisters from the Sacramento Craft Mafia, who quickly gave from their own shops for the cause. We even had a Sacramento Craft Mafia team for the Walk. It was awesome - we brought in $1200!

I then called on the greater independent crafting community, which is HUGE. I posted the call for donations on forums and soon enough, people were blogging about the shop and sending in donations and even buying the goods! We've had donors from as far away as Australia. I'm very lucky to belong to a part of a creative and generous collective of crafters!

Items from The SugarCube Society
Kerri:  What kind of items do you sell?  Are there any special stories behind any specific items?
Melody:  We sell anything that is handmade. Currently in the shop we have paper goods, jewelry, buttons, accessories and what we like to call Sugarbabies, which are dolls (some are pincushion dolls) that started as plain white dolls donated by sewing geniuses Loreen Devlin and Lhay Browning Thriffiley. I then sent out an email to all my crafty girls asking if they'd like to adopt a Sugarbaby (which meant, take a doll home and embellish it at their leisure with the ultimate goal of selling them in the Sugarcube Society shop). Within an hour, I had all but two out of 14 babies adopted! Two of the babies have already sold! More are on their way to the shop. I'm still working on mine, which is a little daunting. The girls in my group make it look so easy. They're craft studs!
I also had to opportunity to collaborate with graphic designer/illustrator Kate Dana Detwiler of Kukaru.com to create buttons that take a poke at diabetes. She did a great job with the design. They look fabulous! She calls them Sugarbuttons, but on the site they're called the Pins and Needles button pack. We also offer them in magnet form for those who are tired of pin pricks ;)
Kerri:  Who are the people behind the Sugarcube Society?
Melody:  The crafters who donate their items. The shop wouldn't exist without the generous crafters, most of whom have been touched by diabetes in some way. I'm merely the promotional and shipping and receiving departments.

Kerri:  Thanks, Melody!!

Editor's Note:  To learn more about The SugarCube Society, visit their Etsy store.  And if you have a creative fundraising idea that you want to share, email me

August 01, 2008

Flaking Out Friday Six.

The Friday Six:  August 1, 2008 editionWhirlwind doesn't even begin to describe the last two weeks, but I'm trying to recap bit by teeny bit.  From adventures with web-camming (There you go, Google. Just for you.) to Manny Ramirez being traded, it's time for The Friday Six.

1.  A few months ago, I mentioned a Fairfield County D-Dinner meet-up, and several people emailed.  Then, because I am hopelessly disorganized and was in the middle of planning my wedding, I lost track of planning that event.  I'm very sorry, and still hopelessly disorganized.  :)  But I'm trying to set it up again, and am looking at having the dinner sometime in late August or early September.  If you are still interested, would you please drop me (another) line at kerri at sixuntilme dot com?  If it's okay with the potential attendees, I can create an email list so we can figure out the details via email.  Thanks!

2.  Also, adding a little Canadian flair to the diabetes-theme, have you heard of Team Diabetes?  Skip off to Orlando this coming January and join Buzz Bishop and the 95 Crave Team Diabetes Crew to raise funds and awareness for the Canadian Diabetes Association.  For more information, check out the Canadian Diabetes Association and throw some support to our neighbors to the north.

3.  I'm very eh about this:  Manny Rameriz?  To the Dodgers?  Granted, he's one of the best ballplayers on paper, but boy is he a "wicked pissah" (thanks, Julia).  For the real-deal details, without even a smidge of bias, check out Boston Dirt Dogs.  (And keeping with the Boston news, do you want to see what your site looks like written in the ol' Boston accent?  Here's how SUM readsDo yours!  Valley Girl may make you laugh out loud for real.)

4.  Total side note:  On my way to lunch, I heard "Crazy In Love" on the radio.  As I was leaving lunch, I heard "Ring The Alarm."  I love Beyonce.  She is my musical guilty pleasure.  Please share yours, so I'm not forced to have my face burning in shame all alone.  I also like Yanni.  Help!!!

5.  In some TuDiabetes news, there's a new video about seeing diabetes through the eyes of children.  As a former child with diabetes (now a pseudo-adult with diabetes), this video helps me remember how I saw diabetes, and how I saw myself as a result, when I was small.  Click here to watch the video on YouTube, and click here to get involved with the inititative

6.  Lastly, because I bought a webcam and have nothing but time on my hands (What? Lies, Kerri - lies!), I'm debating starting to vlog (video blog) here on SUM.  Only - here's the problem - I have no CLUE what to talk about.  I'm much more the wordsmithy-type than the talk-to-the-camera type.  But I love meeting other diabetics and am always so surprised when I hear their voices or see their faces.  Words are just one dimension to our personalities - the way someone sounds or the way they laugh really tells you alot.  I'm curious to hear what you guys would be interested in (or should I just give the camera to Siah and let her do her thing?).  In any event, forgive me for talking too fast, moving too much, and using lions for my own personal gain.  (The password is "sixuntilme")

Chris and I are excited to host Batman and her boyfriend this weekend - yay for friends who will drive all the way out here! - so have a good weekend and I'll see you Monday!  :)

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Visitors since November 7, 2005