Diabetes Blog Week: Heroes

Let’s end our week on a high note and blog about our “Diabetes Hero”. It can be anyone you’d like to recognize or admire, someone you know personally or not, someone with diabetes or maybe a Type 3. It might be a fabulous endo or CDE. It could be a d-celebrity or role-model. It could be another DOC member. It’s up to you – who is your Diabetes Hero??

I have so many people I admire in Diabetes Land. Banting and Best, who discovered insulin. The people who developed the technology for at-home blood glucose meters. My parents. Phil Southerland. The founders and fellow members of ACT1 Diabetes. My first CDE. Wilford Brimley, but only the cat version.

But far too little credit has been given to the people who opened the gates to Diabetes Land: my aunt and a dude named Clean.

No, not this guy. Although take out the bushy white eyebrows and he could be Clean’s long-lost second cousin.

My diabetes manifested itself rather atypically. The details are another saga entirely, but suffice to say we didn’t know things were wrong until some pretty wacky complications appeared. At this point, multiple doctors had closed my chart, declared, “Well, I don’t know what’s going on! I’m referring you to Dr. Specialist.” You’re totally f$@&ed up! I can’t handle dealing with you, so here, let me pass you like a football instead of actually being a competent physician and treating you like a real human being who is not making stuff up. Don’t hit the field goal posts on the way out!

So when my mom related our struggles to her sister (while I was no doubt sitting in my bedroom, sulking and reading fanfic), she had an idea. We were currently waiting five long months in order to see a specialist at So-and-So Big Shot Medical Center. My aunt Sis had a buddy, Clean, who worked at Another Big Shot Medical Center. Maybe he could find a physician with availability?

Now, a word about Clean: he is one of those freaks of nature, impossible human beings that make you scratch your head when you look at them and wonder, “How do you even exist?” He has an MD, a PHD, and had recently gotten his MBA just for the hell of it. He studied abroad for three months in Chile when he was sixteen and still visited his host family every year or two. He stays friends with everyone and still managed to have enough free time to write 2 books. Why he is nicknamed “Clean” is shrouded in mystery. (My aunt is nicknamed “Sis” because….well, I’ve never been able to detect a deeper reason other than that she is my mom’s sister, and that’s what we all call her.)

Anyways, Sis talked to Clean, Clean talked to his connections at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and within days we were scheduled to see one Dr. Schwarz, specialist in Adolescent Medicine. And it was there that someone finally, finally had the sense to take a urine sample from me, immediately whisk me to the ER, and give me an answer, a diagnosis, and a new path to walk down.

I don’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t stepped in. Maybe my diagnosis would have only been a few more months down the road. But maybe I would have just had more confused doctors who couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Maybe it would have taken blindness for them to get the picture. Maybe I would have gone into DKA and died. Regardless, they changed my life for the better, even if seventeen-year-old me, hooked up to insulin and saline drips in the CHOP emergency room, would have never acknowledged it at the time.

For that, those guys are my heroes.


Diabetes Blog Week: Something Good to Eat

Inspired by DFeast Fridays, share a favorite recipe with us. It can be healthy, or it can be a yummy indulgence. Extra points if you can include carb counts and other nutrition info!! If it’s not an original recipe, be sure to properly credit your source.

The original prompt for Day 6 of Diabetes Blog Week is “Saturday Snapshots,” aka a post of pictures related to diabetes. Since I have the photography skills of a blind wombat*, I decided to go for a wildcard day and blog about recipes.

And then I realized that I can’t exactly cook, either.


So let me share with you what I DO cook when I, in fact, am willing to put in the time and elbow grease to produce my own mediocre food.

Stir Fry Veggies
Ingredients: spinach in a bag, bell peppers, onions, asparagus, zucchini. Any combination of the above will do.
Olive oil
Seasonings as desired

1. Chop onions. Swear to yourself that this WILL be the time that onions don’t make you cry.
2. Get three-quarters of the way through the onion, feel like a successful human being. Begin crying and sniffling as you slice the rest of the onion. Curse demotion to unsuccessful human and wipe nose on dishtowel (you’ll wash it tomorrow).
3. Chop the rest of your vegetables. Feel moderately successful again when you don’t gouge any fingers.
4. Swirl 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a medium-sized skillet, over medium to high heat.
5. Put asparagus and zucchini in the skillet first. Wait about a minute before adding the peppers and onions, unless you forget because you’re dancing around to whatever Pandora station you have on and it’s really more like three minutes.
6. Add spinach from bag last; say prayer that there is no E. coli growing on the leaves because you can’t be bothered to wash it.
7. Stir frequently until green vegetables are a bright green and onions are turning clear. Don’t burn the spinach.
8. If zucchini ends up burned instead, console yourself with the fact that the carcinogens from burnt food can’t be worse than E. coli.
9. Remove veggies from skillet onto plate, douse dress in more olive oil, pepper, and any other spices you have sitting in your kitchen since 2006.
10. Serve with whatever protein and carb sources you can cobble together to call it a legitimate “dinner.” Recommended combination: peanut butter straight from the jar and red wine.

Bon appetit!

*Slightly above the photography skills of a blind rhinoceros. Because at least wombats can push buttons.

PS. If you want more recipes from people who have cooking skills of, say, a really genius wombat who can see, look here.

Diabetes Blog Week: What They Should Know

Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September. The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”. Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes. Have more than one thing you wish people knew? Go ahead and tell us everything.

There are, again, so many possibilities. Because most people with the big D could dig deeper into the mines of Moria into this topic, read some other posts here and let me offer up one more:

If you ever see me sitting down for a meal and gazing glassy-eyed into space….or staring at my chicken sandwich with a furrowed brow…….


Calculating insulin doses does not lend itself to multitasking.

The end.

Diabetes Blog Week: Fantasy Device

Today let’s tackle an idea inspired by Bennet of Your Diabetes May Vary. Tell us what your Fantasy Diabetes Device would be? Think of your dream blood glucose checker, delivery system for insulin or other meds, magic carb counter, etc. etc. etc. The sky is the limit – what would you love to see?

Remember how I mentioned pens needles as one thing to improve? Well, I wish that pen manufacturers would make it THEIR one thing to improve.

An insulin pen is an ingeniously simple device. Screw on the needle, remove cap, dial up your dose, inject, and poof! Life-sustaining medication delivered, without having to carry around huge vials of insulin, big scary syringes, or being connected to a pump.

The problem is, simplicity comes at the expense of precision. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve injected only to feel a damp spot on my skin afterwards. Or seen insulin drip from the needle tip afterwards. Or injected with a pen that was nearly out and discover later that there was, in fact, no insulin delivered. A droplet doesn’t LOOK like a lot, but that’s a couple of units and a blood sugar of 268 right there.

So I’ve got a simple request to the device makers out there. I’m not necessarily asking for a cure, and artificial pancreas, or a magic carb reader (although those would be AWESOMETASTIC). I just want an insulin pen that I can use with confidence…and maybe half units, too.

Are you listening, Novo Nordisk?

Diabetes Blog Week: One Thing to Improve


Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at. Today let’s look at the flip-side. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

Oy! One small thing is tricky when you think in terms of big things you would like to overhaul. For example:

  • Revolutionize my diet to be super plant-filled and low-carb and awesome
  • Get a grip on my blood sugars during exercise so that I never have issues during long runs EVER
  • Stop stuffing fistfuls of crackers and peanut butter in my face for lows and carry glucose tabs like a civilized person
  • Find a replacement pancreas and self-transplant already


So here’s one baby thing: change my pen needles every day. Maybe the BD lady at TCOYD last year in Albany was just trying to scare me into buying more of her product, but she solemnly informed me that if you use a pen needle more than a few times, there’s a 61% margin of error in the amount of insulin delivered. SIXTY FREAKING ONE PERCENT!

Whether it’s true or not, you know how it gets when you don’t swap out your needles: bruises, hissing curses at your desk when you’re shooting up for lunch, and wacky BGs that could very well be due to 73% insulin actually going in for the kill. Plus, I can’t stand that feeling when the needle is so blunt that injecting yourself like you’re shoving a butter knife through your grandmother’s congealed meatloaf. It really is that gross.

So I’m going to try to change my pen needles every day. Okay, maybe every 2 days.

And maybe “Blunt Needle” should be the cover band to Blunt Lancet, eh?

Diabetes Blog Week: One Great Thing

Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”.  But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit.  Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly!  Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes.  Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!

In the past couple years that I have come to known a lot of diabetics (online or face to face), I realized that I appeared that in many ways I have been awfully….even-keeled.

I was diagnosed in June 2003. Since being launched from the hospital into the big scary world of self-management, I have never:

  • gone more 8 hours without insulin
  • gone more than 24 hours without checking my blood sugar
  • had anything more than trace ketones
  • Been hospitalized overnight for something D-related
  • Had an A1C in the double digits (over 9% is doubtful, but I’d have to check my records for that)

After hearing a lot of war stories of burnout, falling off the wagon, etc. etc., I realized that (despite the many other aspects of my diabetes life that were unusual, sucky, and/or otherwise totally effed up), I’ve kept up pretty darn well with the basics of self-management. I realize that a lot of those bullet points have elements of luck splashed in, and that they could change in the future. But for now, I’m patting myself on the back for consistency.

Are you curious to read other answers? Check out other blogs here!

Diabetes Blog Week: New Amigos

I’m participating in Diabetes Blog Week, the brainchild of Karen G. over at Bittersweet Diabetes. If you’re new to the concept: Karen has a prompt for every day of the week. Bloggers write about the prompts and share their posts on the master list. It’s a fun way to share ideas and get to know new people and perspective. Today’s prompt is “Find a Friend.” As Karen says:

It seems the most popular thing about Diabetes Blog Week is that it helps us find blogs we weren’t reading yet and connect with some new blog friends.  With that in mind, let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by making some new connections.  Think about the d-blogs you read that you think we may not know about and introduce us to one that you love!!  Let’s all find a new friend today!    (Special thanks to Gina, everybody’s Diabetes BFF, for helping me title this post!)

One of my favorite blogs– diabetes or otherwise– is Diabetes Mine. It’s chock full of goodies, from news about the latest research studies to guest posts by experts to goofy cartoons on Sundays. I love that is is a wide cross-section of news, personal experience, debate, and more. I have been lucky enough to be featured there a couple times– check out laughter yoga, equal access to supplies for uninsured patients, and a video blog about the NYC Marathon. Maybe I’m biased because their assistant editor Allison is a good friend of mine…but no matter what, Diabetes Mine is where I go for consistent illumination and entertainment.

As for an individual blog….I always like heading over to Karen H’s site, Blah Blah Brooklyn. She writes with enthusiasm and finesse about kicking ass with diabetes and living in the best borough ever….and has a stupidly adorable baby, to boot. Her entries are often short and sweet– reading them is kind of like getting a few chocolate bonbons through the internet.

I wish I had more time to read all the awesome blogs out there. Of course, if I had more time, wouldn’t I be writing more? Or would it not matter, because everyone would be in the same boat and would have no time to read it? Deep thoughts, yo.

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