Corrections – Updates – News

Laddie_Head SquareAfter the deaths of two children from Type 1 diabetes in July, I published a letter To My Daughters-in-Law. I shared the stories of Kycie and David and provided information about an advocacy group – Test One Drop. I was recently notified that I got part of the story wrong and that some of the information I provided is now out-of-date. I have revised the blogpost with the following information.

Correction:  From various postings on Facebook, I made the erroneous assumption that 4-year old David Brown lost his life as a result of a missed Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. That was not correct. When David was taken to the emergency room, he was immediately and correctly diagnosed with Type 1. Despite a proper diagnosis and intensive medical care, David died of multiple organ failure a few days later. David’s and Kycie’s stories are powerful reminders that despite improved treatments and technology in the 21st century, Type 1 diabetes continues to be a life-threatening condition.

Update:  Test One Drop has updated both its mission and educational poster. The updated mission is:

“to bring awareness to the general public and the medical community of the similarities between the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and common illnesses such as influenza, strep, and viral infections with the purpose of stopping delayed and misdiagnosed T1D which can lead to life-threatening DKA, t1d-educational-8-5x11_Newpermanent handicap, or death. Additionally, we are seeking a change in the Standard of Care Practices to require medical personnel to screen blood or urine samples for glucose levels before diagnosing sick patients with a common illness that might be masking or mimicking Type 1 Diabetes.”

Please check out the organization’s website and Facebook page. We in the diabetes community mourn the loss of children like Kycie and David. One purpose of Test One Drop is to keep the conversation going when the heartbreaking stories stop making headlines. Download the updated poster and share it with your friends, family, medical team, schools, and community.


Update on my G5 Upgrade:  In September I wrote about some of the pros and cons of upgrading from my current Dexcom G4 CGM to the recently released G5. Shortly after I signed up for the upgrade, Dexcom ran low on G5 transmitters. Instead of receiving mine in early October, I am still waiting. According to my Dexcom account, the expected ship date is December 1. So the update is “Still waiting. No news.”


Update on Medicare Coverage of CGMS:  Although not much has yet changed for CGM coverage by Medicare, some progress is being seen in the court system. Here is a link to a recent article at Medscape about Jill Whitcomb’s victory in Federal Court (Level 5 of the Medicare appeal process). I know of one person who won his Level 3 appeal based on the precedent of the Whitcomb case. Unfortunately Whitcomb is still at risk for further appeals by the insurance company.


Update from the Unconference:  At the Diabetes UnConference in March, I met Daniele Hargenrader. Daniele has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 25 years and is a diabetes and health coach as well as a personal trainer and nutritionist. If you are seeking a way to dig your way out of the diabetes dumps or need a stocking stuffer for yourself or a loved one, you won’t go wrong with Daniele’s new book: Unleash Your Inner Diabetes Dominator. Check out the book as well as the Diabetes Dominator™ website with Daniele’s blog and links to her YouTube interview series. I will be reviewing this book in a future blogpost.DD Book Cover 2


Last but Not Least News:  I have recently been invited to share some of my blogposts at Diabetes Daily – a well-known diabetes community with 2+ million visitors a year, almost 300K Facebook fans, and 70,000 newsletter subscribers. The posts will be published first on my blog and those with interest to the larger diabetes community will be syndicated at Diabetes Daily. This is a huge compliment for me and I thank all of you who have encouraged me on my blogging journey.


Laddie_Head SquareNovember is a month of change in Minnesota. We move from the somewhat warm days of late October to cold wintry weather by the end of the month. 

It is also a busy month for me when it comes to diabetes. 1) It is Diabetes Awareness Month with special events and increased advocacy. 2) JDRF sponsors a TypeOneNation Summit in the Minneapolis area. 3) My diaversary is in November. 4) The Big Blue Test is in full swing and World Diabetes Day is coming soon.

Below you’ll find some outdoor photos that scream “November!”

IMG_1743I have been raking for a few weeks now, but one maple tree refuses to shed its leaves. Our last leaf pick-up is Friday and I am hoping that these leaves will drop before then. If that doesn’t happen, my fingers are crossed that strong winds next week will blow the delinquent leaves into my neighbor’s yard….


IMG_1723The signage at Hyland Lake Park Reserve where Abby the Black Lab and I walk several times a week has changed in anticipation of winter. The trail labeled for dog walkers, bikers, and rollerbladers in the summer is now marked for dog walkers and snowshoers.



IMG_1724Although I shudder at the idea of snow, we have already seen flurries this fall. Once it gets colder, the snowmaking machines in Hyland Park will start blowing snow for the nearby cross-country ski trail. Although I live in the suburbs, I can see downhill and cross-country ski trails from my house. Just barely out of sight is a 70-meter ski jump. And you wonder why I spend my winters in Arizona!


IMG_1745An apple on the ground and you question why I am showing you my garbage. My neighbors have apple and crabapple trees and fruit litters my backyard. The fruit-eating animals I have seen in the last week include coyotes, birds, deer, squirrels, and Abby the Black Lab. Who left the half-eaten apple? Probably Abby who really prefers deer poop. Yeah, we’ve got piles of that in the yard also.


Below you’ll find some November photos that scream “Diabetes!”

IMG_0533Diabetes social media has been saturated this month with blue photos as part of the JDRF T1D Looks Like Me campaign. I have a long history of hiding my diabetes, but thanks to my years in the DOC, I proudly share my photo.



TypeOneNationLogoSaturday was the JDRF TypeOneNation Summit for the Minneapolis area. Author and CDE Gary Scheiner (Think Like a Pancreas) shared his wealth of knowledge in both the keynote talk and a session about interpreting CGM data. I also attended a talk by the incredible Jay Hewitt. Jay is an Ironman triathlete who was a member of the U.S. National Triathlon Team and raced with Type 1 diabetes.


Don’t forget the Big Blue Test.


Remember to follow the hashtag #WDDchat15 on Saturday, Nov. 14 to participate in the World Diabetes Day #DSMA TweetChat. The schedule can be found here, but stay tuned to @DiabetesSocMed on Twitter for updates.



And finally, today marks 39 years since I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1976.



Laddie_Head SquareI wrote today’s post a year ago as part of D-Quote, an initiative created by Cynthia Zuber of Diabetes Light | My holistic journey to health. The purpose of her project was to give voice to members of the diabetes community and to increase advocacy and outreach during November Diabetes Awareness Month.

My diabetes quote is:

A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life. William Arthur Ward

Type 1 Diabetes is the result of an autoimmune attack on our beta cells.  We can talk about the many manifestations of that attack with mention of missing hormones (insulin and amylin) and malfunctioning GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1). Or we can simplify the discussion and say that our bodies lack equilibrium. Our bodies lack balance.

Those of us with Type 1 try to manipulate insulin, food, exercise, stress, etc. in an attempt to balance our blood glucose. Too much insulin, we go low. Too many carbs, we go high. What is too much today might be too little tomorrow. Unable to quantify many of the things that affect our BG, we walk on a tightrope and do our best not to fall off despite our many wobbles. At the same time we try to find a balance for how diabetes fits into our lives. We search for the happy medium between managing our diabetes so that we can live our lives and living our lives just to manage our diabetes.

Tightrope Walker

We can never be perfect with diabetes and sometimes the only thing we can do is laugh at our imperfect attempts at perfection. Sometimes a sense of humor is the best way to get through the day. The best way to put diabetes into perspective. The best way to make sense of our lives.

Check It Out!

Laddie_Head SquareIt’s been a while since I’ve shared what I am reading and listening to. In the past couple of days I read one blogpost and listened to two podcast episodes that I think are worth your attention.

At the top of my bookmarks for non-diabetes blogs is a website titled Heart Sisters. This blog is self-described as “All about women and heart disease – our #1 killer – from the unique perspective of CAROLYN THOMAS, a Mayo Clinic-trained women’s health advocate, heart attack survivor, blogger, speaker.”

Currently I do not have heart disease although as a woman in her 60’s with Type 1 diabetes, I know that I am at risk. The appeal of this website for me has less to do with heart disease and more to do with the shared experiences of women (really all people) living with a chronic disease.

On October 17, Thomas published a blogpost titled “How Minimally Disruptive Medicine is happily disrupting health care.” She highlights the Mayo Clinic’s KER (Knowledge & Education Research) team led by Dr. Victor Montori. Dr. Montori is well-known for his discussions of the chronically-ill patient’s “burden of treatment” and is a proponent of eliminating terms such as “non-compliant” and “non-adherent.”

Heart Sisters 1

Those of us with diabetes are experts at recognizing the burden that our care places on our lives. Thomas shares a quote from a 46-year old woman (V. T. Tran interview) whose comments will hit home for many of us:

“There is stuff that I am SUPPOSED to do, and stuff that I actually DO.  If I did everything I am SUPPOSED to do, my life would revolve around doctors and tests and such and there wouldn’t be very much left for living my life.

I strongly urge you to read this blogpost and dream about an ideal world where medical professionals no longer blame patients and instead work towards patient health goals with a secondary emphasis on diagnostic test numbers.


Juicebox Podcast is an offshoot of the well-known diabetes parenting blog Arden’s Day. In 2007 Scott Benner began sharing life stories after his daughter Arden was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 2. Scott proudly proclaims that he is a stay-at-home dad and the author of Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Dad. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Benner began a podcast in early 2015 and named it after the numerous juiceboxes his daughter has consumed to treat low blood sugars.

This weekend while walking the dog, I listened to two Juicebox Podcast episodes which focused on Dexcom. Episode #27 was an interview with Kevin Sayer who is the CEO of Dexcom. Rather than recreate the wheel, I’ll share Scott’s synopsis of the episode: “Dexcom CEO Kevin Sayer talks about the Dexcom/Google collaboration, pump integration, Android and iOS/CGM in the Cloud issues, Medicare, Medicaid, Adhesive concerns…. Sayer was an open book who dished about things that I thought for sure he’d decline to speak about.”

Episode #28 was an interview with Steve Pacelli who is Dexcom’s Executive VP of Strategy & Corporate Development. Once again per Benner: “Just 24 hours after the surprise FDA approval of the Dexcom G5 continuous glucose monitoring system, I spoke with Dexcom EVP Steven Pacelli and asked him all of the questions that were submitted to me by my blog readers and podcast listeners – I even threw in a few of my own. If you’re wondering about Dexcom G5 upgrading, cost, out of pocket, battery life and more?”

Juicebox Podcast 1

Both of these Dexcom interviews were released in August and some of the G5 discussion is a bit dated. A minor point because both conversations are fascinating with insider views of Dexcom’s past, present, and future. I found Sayer’s discussion of the Google/Dexcom collaboration to be particularly interesting with his views on device miniaturization and the possibilities for the Type 2 market.

As an adult with Type 1 diabetes, I am not necessarily the Juicebox Podcast‘s target audience—parents of children with T1. Some of Benner’s interviews focus on parenting issues such as 504 plans/talking with school administrators and I skip those. Many are interviews with other T1 parents sharing their unique stories. I listen to and enjoy those podcasts while giving thanks that I live with Type 1 rather than my children. Finally there are interviews with people such as NASCAR driver Ryan Reed, American Idol contestant Adam Lasher, John Costik of Nightscout, and the two Dexcom executives that are interesting to anyone with a connection to diabetes.

I subscribe to the Jukebox Podcast through iTunes and new episodes are automatically downloaded to my iPhone podcast app. You can also listen to individual episodes through iTunes.



Read this!  How Minimally Disruptive Medicine is happily disrupting health care

Listen to this!  Dexcom CEO Kevin Sayer Talks

Listen to this!  Dexcom G5 Approval with Dexcom EVP Steve Pacelli

Cracked Again

Laddie_Head SquareI just received a replacement Animas Vibe pump. At my last battery change, I discovered a crack in my pump from the top of the battery compartment down about 5/8 inch. Did I over-tighten the battery cap? I have no idea. Is it a design flaw or weakness in the type of plastic used for the pump case? Maybe. I would label it as an isolated problem but less than a year ago, I had my Animas Ping replaced for the same problem.

Animas Vibe Pumps2

In the seven years that I used Medtronic pumps, I cracked at least 3 pumps (maybe 4?). All of the cracks were in the exact same location: from the reservoir view window to the Esc button.Medtronic Pump Cracks

Maybe I am a kid who is rough with my pumps and break them whenever I wrestle and beat up my older sister. Nope. Maybe I get frustrated with diabetes and throw my pumps against cement walls whenever my BG tops 300. Nope. Maybe I have unlimited money and don’t take care of my diabetes devices. Nope.

So what is the truth? I am a middle-aged woman who will soon be called “old.” I line up my diabetes supplies in LIFO (last in, first out) order and never once in 39 years have I ever run out of supplies. I am not perfect at the diabetes game but I do a pretty good job. If nothing else, I am definitely mega-organized, methodical, and careful.

So what is the story?

After cracking the 3rd (or was it the 4th?) Medtronic pump, I spoke with a phone representative who told me that they would not replace any more pumps for me. Huh???  I called back a few days later and got a rep who asked how I was carrying my pump. I was using the Medtronic clip attached to my waistband as I had been ever since I started pumping. She suggested that after they replaced this pump that I should quit using the clip. She arranged for a free leather case (brown and ultra-masculine) which I hated. But from that day forward, I abandoned the Medtronic clip and began carrying the pump in my pocket. Never again did I crack a Medtronic pump. For whatever reason, the Medtronic clip on my waistband caused pumps to crack. For me. Obviously not for everyone. Medtronic pumps still ship with the same clip that for whatever reason didn’t work for me.

When I first started using the Animas Ping I got a few “No Delivery” (Loss of Prime???) error messages. It turned out that when I inserted the reservoir, I wasn’t pushing it in far enough or tightening the reservoir cap tight enough. With Medtronic I was always advised not to tighten things too tight. Whatever. I quickly learned to push Animas reservoirs in as far as I could and tighten the cap tightly. I have never had a reservoir error since then. So now I am cracking the pumps when I insert batteries. Am I over tightening them? I have no idea. But from now on, I will follow the Animas manual exactly as the photo below shows.Battery Insructions

So here I am. A middle-aged woman who has cracked 5 pumps in ten years of pumping. What happens with kids and teenagers who are rough with pumps? What happens with athletes who play football, hockey, and soccer? What happens with people whose pumps are randomly snatched by ceiling fans (Scott Johnson)? Although I hate to jinx myself, I have never had a pump failure. Just cracked cases. Except for the one rogue Medtronic rep, the pump companies have been fabulous in sending me new pumps as soon as possible.

So what’s the story? Is my experience mirrored by others on insulin pumps or am I just one rough, tough lady?

Beats me. As far as I am concerned, It’s just another day in a life with diabetes.

TuDiabetes: Type 2 Series


Laddie_Head SquareToday (Thursday, October 1) TuDiabetes is launching a series of live interviews that are centered around Type 2 diabetes. Does that mean that those of us with Type 1 diabetes won’t learn anything? Absolutely not! All of these interviews will have relevance for anyone affected by any kind of diabetes—whether you have diabetes or love someone who does. This series will address topics such as diet, the basics of Type 2 diabetes, diabetes myths, emotional support, shame and blame, and family dynamics.

Today’s event is an interview with journalist and author Gary Taubes. Two of his well-known books are Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat. I have mentioned Taubes more than once on my blog and I highly recommend that you check out his books and/or articles. His writing is clear, concise, and highly persuasive as he argues that ourtaubesFB current obesity crisis is caused by certain types of carbohydrates rather than fats and excess calories. When you read his stuff, it really makes sense.

Today’s interview of Taubes is at 1pm PT, 4pm ET, 9pm GMT. To get more details about the event, click here. This event page provides information about Taubes and links to some of his books and articles. In addition there is a teal-colored box to click at the time of the event.

Please note that you must be logged into the TuDiabetes site to view the interview live. At the top of both the event page and the TuDiabetes home page are boxes to click to Log In or Register if you are new to TuDiabetes.

If you are unable to attend the event live today, the video will be posted in the TuDiabetes video archives in about a week.

Mark Your Calendars!

The schedule and details for the other interviews in the Type 2 Series can be found here. The speakers and dates are listed below. All of the event times are 1pm PT, 4pm ET, 9pm GMT unless noted otherwise.

Today, October 1    Live Interview with Journalist and Author Gary Taubes    Details here.

October 7    Addressing Shame and Blame with Susan Guzman    Details here.

October 13    Ansley Dalbo presents “Diabetes What to Know”    Details here.

October 22    D-blogger Mike Durbin, in Conversation with Rick Phillips    Details here.

November 11    Susan Guzman, “Rebranding Diabetes”    Details here.

November 18    Corinna Cornejo on Type 2 Diabetes Myths and Misconceptions    Details here. This event is at 12pm PT, 3pm ET, 8pm GMT.

More about TuDiabetes labels itself as “a community of people touched by diabetes, a program of the Diabetes Hands Foundation.” On this website you will find information about all types of diabetes, forums where you can touch base with other people affected by diabetes, a live chat feature, an extensive library of video interviews, and a blog feature which is under construction but currently lists links to member blogs.

If you have never checked out TuDiabetes, come visit. You can browse the site without logging in, but it is hoped that you will register and share your voice. If you used to participate and are flummoxed by the new platform, it’s getting busier, more organized, and you are missed. If you live with diabetes, TuDiabetes will make sure that you are never alone.

Introducing Elle and Coach

Laddie_Head SquareElle & Coach by Stefany Shaheen is the story of Shaheen’s oldest daughter Elle (pronounced “Ellie”) who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 8. This book was recently published in August and I am pleased to have been given a complimentary copy along with the opportunity to share my views of the book. As always, the opinions expressed are my own.

Both the front and back covers of Elle & Coach show a lovely young women along with a handsome yellow labrador retriever. The title of the book mentions “Coach” and the subtitle is “Diabetes, the Fight for My Daughter’s Life, and the Dog Who Changed Everything.” So why doesn’t THE DOG make an appearance until halfway through the book?!?!

The answer to that question is why Elle & Coach is an educational, and inspiring book. For those of us in the diabetes community, the story of Elle’s Type 1 diagnosis is a familiar one with injections, fingersticks, hospital/doctor visits, and wild swings in blood sugar. We have lived with the unrelenting fear, stress, and blame. Through the early chapters of the book Shaheen does a good job of describing the physical and emotional impact of a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis on a child, the parents, and the entire family. We know the story.

If you have difficulty explaining to your relatives and friends the impact of diabetes on your life and that of your family, hand them this book. The story (and of course the beautiful dog!) is compelling enough to keep outsiders reading. They will learn the basics of Type 1 diabetes, the unending daily tasks required, the longterm impact of the disease, the role of technology, ShaheenELLE&COACH(HC)the eternal hope for a cure, and the importance of advocacy at both a local and national level. Admittedly a Type-A mother, Shaheen is not a whiner and she has spent the last eight years working to help people and families impacted by diabetes and other chronic conditions. Similarly, Elle has been a diabetes advocate from a young age and has shared her story with people from community leaders to the President of the United States.

Now enter THE DOG!  Elle and Shaheen learned about Diabetic Alert Dogs (DAD’s) at the 2011 JDRF Children’s Congress where they were witnesses to a young girl and her DAD in action. Initially Elle was not interested in a companion dog, but her mother was inspired to begin researching the use of medic-alert dogs with diabetes. The rest is history as Coach and Elle became a team in the spring of 2013.

The second half of the book describes the magical ability of certain dogs to sense blood sugar changes in humans and the journey of the Shaheen family to obtain a diabetic alert dog for Elle. The beginning of Elle and Coach’s partnership is fascinating and heart-warming. Right away Coach alerted properly to Elle’s out-of-range blood sugars and very quickly began easing the burden of diabetes on the entire family. There were a few bumps in the road and these occurred because although the dog was superbly trained, his humans had a lot of learn!

If you are interested in a diabetic alert dog, Elle & Coach is a good starting point to learn about how to obtain a DAD and some of the adjustments required to fit such a dog into your world. Shaheen wisely emphasizes the need to do your homework to determine if an alert dog is appropriate for you and the responsibilities of living with such a dog. Expense, public access issues, the need for ongoing training, and the 24/7/365 nature of the handler/dog relationship are some of the topics addressed.

I wore many hats as I read this book. I have Type 1 diabetes and know the intimate details of living with this challenging condition. I am a mother and grandmother who gives daily thanks that none of my children and grandchildren have been diagnosed with diabetes. Elle & Coach reinforces my belief that most of the time it is easier being the person with diabetes as opposed to the parents and people who love us:-)  I am a dog-lover and the owner of Abby the Black Lab who at age 9 does not react to my blood sugars but might have been trainable at a younger age. In summary, all of my D-roles enjoyed this book and think that you should find a spot in your diabetes library for this story.


Elle & Coach is available in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook and is available at major booksellers. Click here for more details.


If you’d like to follow Elle and Coach online:  |  @elleandcoach  |


If you’d like to read more blogposts about diabetes alert dogs, check out: