Postcards from the Diabetes UnConference

Laddie_Head SquareLast Friday I drove from Arizona to Las Vegas to participate in the Diabetes UnConference. It is trite to say that words can’t describe the experience, but Words Can Not Describe My Experience. Three days later I am still exhausted. But three days later I am invigorated with images of new friends, old friends, smiles, tears, hand claps, Diet Pepsi, red wine served by charming bartenders, hugs, lows, highs, and flamingos. I don’t want to start listing names because I know that I will mess up and forget my most cherished friends. But I do want to thank Christel Marchand Aprigliano of The Perfect D for following her vision of “The only peer-to-peer support conference for adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.”

As I struggled to find a way to express my impressions of a magical weekend, I stumbled upon a pile of postcards ready to tell their story:


Abby the Black Lab Discusses Community

Laddie:  Abby the Black Lab has been slacking off recently and hasn’t written a blogpost since May 2014. In response to my threat to withhold dinner tonight, she graciously offered to step in and share her views on community and #dblogcheck day.


Abby with Abby Crown_no backgroundAbby:  It is #dblogcheck day. Laddie informed me that she is too busy to write a blogpost today because she is visiting other blogs in the Diabetes Online Community (#DOC) and leaving comments. Although I am overworked protecting my home from coyotes, rattlesnakes, and FedEx drivers, I suppose I can take a minute to discuss dog biscuits, mailboxes, and people with diabetes.

In my Arizona neighborhood there is a magic mailbox which dispenses dog biscuits instead of outgoing mail. I learned about it a few years ago from my Golden Retriever friend Stella. When Laddie and I walk down this street a few blocks from home, I tug on the leash to prompt her to open the mailbox door and see what delicacies await me. (Mind you, I eat tree pods, table scraps, and rabbit poop so I’m not very particular….) Along with dogs of all breeds, shapes, and sizes, I wag my tail and explode with excitement. I am a 78-pound dog who goes berserk over snacks the size of a quarter.


Do you know what else the magic mailbox does? It beams happiness to My Human and zaps a smile on her face every walk. Some days there are twenty treats in the mailbox and they are devoured by late afternoon. That means that lots of dogs got yummy treats while their owners were reminded that small things can bring joy to others. The random act of dog-biscuit-kindness is contagious as the humans become more apt to smile at and engage their neighbors. By dispensing magical treasures every day, this mailbox helps build a bond of community in the neighborhood. Community. That’s important.

So what does this have to do with diabetes? The purpose of #dblogcheck day is to celebrate the #DOC and connect with people on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and wherever you hang out. You are prompted to leave a comment on every blog you read even if it is as short as writing “Check.” I like to think that blog comments, tweets, and Facebook remarks are dog treats where you touch base with people and remind them that they are appreciated and that the diabetes community is important.

Laddie: Sometimes I ask myself whether my blog is my most important contribution to the #DOC. My answer is “Not at all.” I think that when I read and respond to the blogs, tweets and Facebook postings of my FFABD’s (Fellow Folks Affected By Diabetes) that I validate their experiences and remind them that their voice is important. That’s a good thing.

Abby the Black Lab has no idea about the carb count of dog biscuits and neither do I. We both know that comments are carb-free and we encourage you to explore the #DOC today and everyday. Write comments and take time to welcome/support new and established members of the diabetes community. No one has ever complained about too much love, respect, and validation.

Abby:  Check!

Laddie:  Check!


Other posts by Abby the Black Lab:

Abby the Black Lab Discusses DSMA Live

Abby the Black Lab Discusses Nutrition

A Diabetes Poem

The Great Divide in the DOC

My List of Fours

Sue_HeadSquare2Thanks to Laddie for encouraging me and Sue from Pennsylvania to contribute our answers to the Meme of Fours. I had a lot of fun thinking about and coming up with these answers, changing my answers more than once from my husband Steve’s input.

Here are my answers:

1. Four names people call me other than my real name:

  1. Q
  2. Mom
  3. Babers
  4. Grandma

2. Four jobs I’ve had:

  1. Babysitter
  2. Waitress
  3. Accounting clerk
  4. Typist

3. Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

  1. Finding Neverland
  2. About Schmidt
  3. Lord of the Rings
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean

Meme of Fours_SueS4. Four Books I’d Recommend:

  1. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon
  2. Better Each Day by Jessica Cassity
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  4. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

5. Four Places I’ve Lived:

  1. Scarborough, ME
  2. N. Syracuse, NY
  3. Cortland, NY
  4. Farmington, NY

6. Four Places I’ve Visited:

  1. Washington, DC
  2. Seattle, Washington
  3. St. Thomas and St. Martin, Caribbean
  4. St. Louis, Missouri

7. Four Things I Prefer Not to Eat:

  1. Anything Andrew Zimmern eats
  2. Liver
  3. Escargot
  4. Frog legs

8. Four of My Favorite Foods:

  1. My husband’s spaghetti and meatballs
  2. Cobb salad
  3. Chicken wrap
  4. Homemade chicken noodle soup

9. Four TV Shows I Watch:

  1. Downton Abbey
  2. The Voice
  3. Today Show
  4. The Black List

10. Four Things I’m Looking Forward to This Year:

  1. Warmer weather
  2. Trail walking with Steve and my Morkie Rosa
  3. Cookouts
  4. Get out of the house

11. Four Things I’m Always Saying:

  1. You should try it, it’s really good (to the grandsons at mealtime)
  2. Don’t leave a mess in the kitchen (to hubby)
  3. Do you want to go to the mall? (to hubby; the answer is always no)
  4. Are you going to bed already? (to hubby)

My Fours Meme

Sue B_Head SquareSince I have run out of things to say on a blogpost, this is a great way to let everyone know that I’m still here. Thanks to Laddie who sent the idea to me and Kelly Kunik of Diabetesaliciousness from whom I got the questions. Kelly mentions other D-bloggers who posted a Meme of Fours and be sure to follow those links to read their blogposts.

1. Four names people call me other than my real name:

  1. Mom
  2. MomMom
  3. Susie the B
  4. Susie Q

2. Four jobs I’ve had:

  1. Legal Secretary
  2. Owner of a Wig Shop
  3. Owner of a Hobby Shop
  4. Owner of an Italian Ice and Ice Cream Shop

3. Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

  1. Dirty Dancing
  2. Top Gun
  3. Waterboy
  4. Die Hard

Meme of Fours_SueB4. Four Books I’d Recommend:

  1. Roots
  2. A Time to Kill
  3. Anything by Faye Kellerman
  4. Sotah

5. Four Places I’ve Lived:

  1. Philadelphia, PA
  2. Los Angeles, CA
  3. Trenton, NJ
  4. Harrisburg, PA

6. Four Places I’ve Visited:

  1. Nassau
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Grand Cayman
  4. Grand Turks

7. Four Things I Prefer Not to Eat:

  1. Ham
  2. Sushi
  3. Salmon
  4. Frog Legs

8. Four of My Favorite Foods:

  1. Spaghetti & Meatballs
  2. Hot and Sour Soup
  3. Boneless Spareribs
  4. Peanut M & M’s

9. Four TV Shows I Watch:

  1. All the NCIS shows
  2. Law & Order SVU
  3. Revenge
  4. Walking Dead

10. Four Things I’m Looking Forward to This Year:

  1. Seeing my kids in Atlanta
  2. Lunching with Friends
  3. House Hunting with my son
  4. Spring (this winter has been the pits)

11. Four Things I’m Always Saying:

  1. I love you
  2. Isn’t it a good day
  3. I’ve never felt better
  4. Geez, it’s so cold outside

My Meme of Fours

Laddie_Head SquareI have plenty of ideas for blogposts but am suffering from an extended bout of laziness. The Meme of Fours is right up my alley because it is easy and fun to do. Plus, I hope that I can convince my co-bloggers Sue from New York and Sue from Pennsylvania to chime in with their own Meme of Fours.

Thanks to:

    1. k2
    2. Kunik
    3. KellyK
    4. Kel and Kel-Bel

or Kelly Kunik of Diabetesaliciousness from whom I got the questions. She mentions other D-bloggers who posted a list of fours and be sure to follow those links to read their posts.

1. Four names people call me other than my real name:

  1. Mom
  2. Grandma
  3. Ma’am
  4. The nicest bossy person I know

2. Four jobs I’ve had:

  1. Accountant
  2. Stay-at-home Mom
  3. Accompanist—piano and organ
  4. Do-it-all at Kinkos/Fedex Office

3. Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

  1. The Sound of Music
  2. Tin Cup
  3. Dreamgirls
  4. Frozen

Meme of Fours4. Four books I’d recommend

  1. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes
  2. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
  3. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
  4. American Assassin by Vince Flynn

5. Four places I’ve lived:

  1. Greenville, SC
  2. Princeton, NJ
  3. Minneapolis, MN
  4. Rio Verde, AZ

6. Four places I’ve visited:

  1. St. Andrews, Scotland
  2. St. Moritz, Switzerland
  3. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  4. Disney World, Florida

7. Four things I prefer not to eat:

  1. Live baby octopus (Thanks for the video, Mike!)
  2. Sushi and anything uncooked
  3. Meat with lots of gristle
  4. All things delicious because I have diabetes… Not!

8. Four of my favorite foods:

  1. Chicken chili
  2. Stir-fried chicken and veggies
  3. Mixed nuts
  4. Cantaloupe

9. Four TV shows I watch:

  1. Big Bang Theory
  2. NCIS
  3. NBC Nightly News before the Brian Williams fiasco
  4. CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley

10. Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

  1. Every hike I go on In Arizona
  2. The UnConference
  3. My son and family visiting in late March
  4. Visiting my other son and family in Annapolis

11. Four things I’m always saying

  1. Golf is a stupid game.
  2. Life is Good.
  3. Enjoy today.
  4. You can do this.

My Vibe Decision

Laddie_Head SquareA photo is worth a thousand words and the photo below shares that I decided to upgrade to the Vibe.

After I published  “The Vibe: Should I Upgrade?” on Feb. 5, a lot of things happened in the next 24 hours. As I mentioned in the blogpost, I was scheduled to meet with an Animas rep that afternoon to see the pump live.

The Animas rep was very nice and professional as she showed me the Vibe and allowed IMG_1118me to push buttons. I was immediately surprised that I did not dislike the pump and thought I could live with the CGM graphs on the small screen. Although I am still convinced that the design of all/almost all insulin pumps leaves a lot to be desired, I left the meeting with an incredible result: I didn’t hate the Vibe. I liked it enough that I decided on the spot that I would upgrade.

Amazingly, the next morning someone from Animas called to confirm my color selection for the Vibe (Blue!) and to indicate that she was ready to process the order. The pump was scheduled to be delivered on the next Thursday. At this point things became complicated as she called back to say that there was a problem with the credit card on file. After she couldn’t get three different credit cards to work, I started to wonder if I was on the Animas Sh*t List because of numerous negative comments about the Ping and Vibe on my blog.

The problem was finally resolved on Tuesday and despite the delay, I was promised a Thursday delivery. In fact Thursday morning at 9:00AM my Animas contact promised that the pump would be delivered that day. I didn’t believe her because UPS hadn’t even activated the tracking number yet. Of course the pump was not delivered on Thursday and I was frustrated because of the many things I had cancelled to stay home. At the same time the day was not a total waste because I cleaned most of the house and finished a couple of chores I had been avoiding. Finally UPS activated the tracking number and showed a Friday delivery.

I have now been using the Vibe for 4 days. Do I love it? No. Do I think the upgrade was the right decision? Yes, for several reasons.

  1. I was content with the Dexcom G4 and wasn’t convinced that I was having better results with the recent software upgrade. Therefore I have decided not to stress over the lack of the G4AP (Artificial Pancreas algorithm) software update in the Vibe.
  2. I am very happy to have less one medical device in my pockets.
  3. I have a history of losing my Dexcom receiver in bed at night. Now all I have to do is find the pump tubing and reel in the CGM like a 5-pound walleye.
  4. There are some improvements in the menu system, although not as many as I think are needed.
  5. This decision is only binding for 21 months and then I will select my last pump before Medicare. My choice now was to stay with the Ping or upgrade to the Vibe. The Snap, the t:slim, the Medtronic 530G, and other pumps were not part of the decision. It was Ping vs. Vibe and nothing else.
  6. Because I got the pump directly from Animas, I am going to optimistically assume that there will be no insurance ramifications when it is time to get a new Dexcom receiver. Maybe I will be so happy with the Vibe that I won’t even bother with another receiver.

Right now I am stumbling through the Vibe menus primarily because I was so adept at the Ping. One important feature of the Vibe is the ability to populate the recommended bolus by pressing the Up arrow. Unfortunately I am still Pinging and start to scroll before I remember to simply press the Up button. I will adjust and I – just – need – to – slow – down.

My biggest frustration is how many button pushes it takes to get from the CGM screens to the bolus menu. It is five/six button pushes to move from the CGM screen to the Bolus ezCarb/ezBG menu. The lack of an Esc or Back button on Animas pumps is a major design flaw IMO. In his review of the Vibe, Mike Hoskins of Diabetes Mine talked about the pump and the CGM living in the same house but being different rooms:

You can think of this system in terms of a dwelling — the two components used to be separate housing units, but now they co-exist under the same roof and are more like different rooms within one big home.

That’s my biggest takeaway. I have a pump. I have a CGM. They are in the same piece of hardware, but they are totally separate. In fact it seems that Animas forgot to even build a door between the two rooms.

With the Vibe I am finding that I am using the CGM in “static mode.” I push the button to see the CGM Data Screen showing my BG number, the trend arrow, and the insulin on board (IOB). Because it takes so long to change screens to the 1-hour, 3-hour, and other CGM trend screens, I usually don’t bother. I like the 3-hour screen and wish that I could just push the Up button twice to get there. But no, I have to wait for the 1-hour graph to load before I can push the button again to move to the 3-hour screen.

When I began using the Vibe, I made the decision to go all-in and not continue to use my Dexcom receiver. I can always go back to using the Dex receiver at any time and be no worse off than before the upgrade, but I hope to ultimately be happy using one integrated device. So far I believe that the pump functions of the Vibe are an improvement over the Ping, but for me the CGM part is a definite downgrade from the Dex receiver. Chances are that I will get used to it and be fine.

In my previous Vibe blogpost I provided links to other reviews of the Vibe. Since then I have read a couple others that you might be interested in.

Active Diabetic is a young Canadian who is an incredible athlete. His bio minimizes his achievements:  “I’m a cyclist, runner, climber, backpacker and oh yeah, I’m an insulin dependent diabetic too!” I “met” him last year during Diabetes Blog Week and was very inspired by his accomplishments and attitude. In May he published a blogpost that indicated that he would use the Dex receiver rather than deal with the Vibe for his CGM. But 10 days ago he wrote a follow-up post and shared that he is totally on board with the Vibe. Both posts are well-written and super informative, so check them out.

Kerri of Six Until Me wrote a post last week sharing her thoughts on the Vibe after using it for a couple of weeks. As always, you’ll find some helpful information.

Tarra who uses a Dexcom in tandem with Duchess, her diabetes alert dog, is mostly happy with her Vibe. Check out her post from yesterday.

Sara of Moments of Wonderful has just started the Vibe and today posted a video highlighting a few of the Vibe features.

I’m okay with my Vibe but not in love. It is definitely a #firstworldproblem that I can complain about a pump/CGM combo. As life goes, it’s pretty insignificant that the color screens are slow and I have to wait a few seconds for the graphs to populate. But children dying because they lack access to insulin. That’s important. If you haven’t donated to Spare a Rose, Save a Child, it is not too late. Click here and donate. No donation is too small and every gift makes a difference.

Spare a Rose, Save a Child 2015

Spare a Rose 728x90tag

Laddie_Head SquareAll of my 2015 blogposts have been about #firstworldproblems such as the Animas Vibe, my Dexcom G4, an iPhone trick, and a recent experiment of using long-acting insulin along with my pump.

But children in developing nations are dying because they have no access to insulin of any type.

I can be a grouch when diabetes technology does not live up to my expectations. My biggest problem these days is whether I should keep my current insulin pump or upgrade to the newest model. I joke about the excitement of switching from a hot pink continuous glucose monitor to a blue one.

But children in developing nations are dying because they have no access to insulin of any type.

I am 62 years old and have lived with Type 1 diabetes since I was 24 years old. Last week my Fitbit says that I walked 105,292 steps or almost seven miles a day. I went out to lunch three days in a row. I have very few complications of diabetes. I am indeed blessed.

But children in developing nations are dying because they have no access to insulin of any type.

I am writing this blogpost on my laptop computer at my kitchen table with an iPhone and iPad sitting next to me. My refrigerator is full of food and most importantly, there is a 3-month supply of insulin in the deli drawer.

But children in developing nations are dying because they have no access to insulin of any type.

What if there was something that you could do to make a difference for these children? There is and you can by supporting the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign sponsored by the Diabetes Online Community.

The message is simple, but powerful. Buy one less rose this Valentine’s Day and donate that $5 to the Life for a Child program sponsored by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Your gift of $5 will provide a month of insulin and diabetes supplies for a child in parts of the world where these life-saving medications and supplies are desperately needed. Consider donating $60, the equivalent of a dozen roses, and giving a year of life to a child with diabetes. Even more generously, make a pledge for a continuing monthly gift.

If you need motivation to donate, please watch this short vlog by my online friend Kelly Kunik at her blog Diabetesaliciousness©.  (To my contemporaries who might not be as hip as I am, a vlog is a video blogpost. I am trendy enough to know what a vlog is, but not so cool that I have ever done one….)

As we approach Valentine’s Day 2015, let us be generous in sharing our bounty with children all over the world. To us, a rose is small. To a child with diabetes, that rose represents another day, another month, another year of life.

I made a donation today and hope that you will too. To donate using PayPal, click here.

To Donate, Click on the Image

To Donate, Click on the Image