Continuing Connections: Pray for Caleb

6th Annual Diabetes Blog WeekToday’s Topic:  The very first inspiration for Diabetes Blog Week was to help connect our blogging community, and that continues to be the most important reason it’s held every year.  So let’s help foster and continue those connections as we wrap up another Dblog Week.  Share a link to a new blog you’ve found or a new friend you’ve made.  Or pick a random blog off of the Participant’s List, check it out and share it with us.  Let’s take some time today to make new friends. To read other posts on this topic, click here.

Laddie_Head SquareI have met a lot of new people during the 2015 Diabetes Blog Week. I have added your blogs to my bookmarks and to my Feedly Reader content list. For sure if you keep writing, I will keep reading. I am going to briefly mention three blogs that I particularly enjoyed this week, all for different reasons. And then I am going to highlight one blogger from last year whom I believe all of you need to know about.

Completely new to me:  One new-to-me and relatively new-to-blogging writer whom I enjoyed getting to know this week is Frank of Type 1 Writes. Frank is a young man from Perth, Western Australia who is passionate about writing and even more passionate about diabetes advocacy. I think we will see a lot more of him in future years.

Not new to me but his blog is:  Brian (BSC) is super active at TuDiabetes and I have read his message board contributions for years. I was also pleased to meet him in person at the Diabetes Unconference in March. I didn’t know that he had a blog: The Trials of Type 2 Diabetes. To say Brian is a “know-it-all” is to trivialize his research and knowledge about diabetes, especially Type 2. I look forward to both reading his blog and using it as a resource to learn more about all kinds of diabetes.

New to me but not to the DOC:  When I read Marie Smith’s posts this week, I was blown away by her writing. Then I was blown away by her story. In addition to having diabetes, Marie lives with myasthenia gravis, has survived cancer, and deals with severe pain. Her writing acknowledges that pain but celebrates and affirms life. I will follow her blog Joy Benchmarks and have already started to read the first of her two books. Marie has been blogging for much longer than I have, so we have mostly just hung out in different corners of the DOC. But then I figured out we were following each other on Twitter (@cellobard).

What you all need to know when it comes to our diabetes community:  Last year during Diabetes Blog Week, I met a young blogger named Caleb. He was a well-spoken high schooler who was documenting his diabetes life interwoven with the stories of his two siblings who also have Type 1. Definitely wise beyond his years…. Fast forward to April of this year when Caleb saw a doctor for evaluation of severe shoulder pain. A mass was found and he is now facing an epic battle against Ewing’s Sarcoma. Ewing’s Sarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer that affects mainly children and adolescents.

Caleb needs the support and prayers of everyone in the diabetes online community. His blog is Type One Trio and there are occasional updates from Caleb and his family. Caleb is reassured that he will have the strength he needs because he is a Child of God. He recently quoted scripture that is giving him strength as he begins a battle that no one should have to face. Caleb is a child of our diabetes community and regardless of your religious beliefs, please pray for him.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 

 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”

 II Corinthians 1:3-5Type One Trio

My Most Favorite Ever

6th Annual Diabetes Blog WeekToday’s Topic:  If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blogpost that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don’t have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?  (Thank you Laddie of Test Guess and Go for suggesting this topic.) To read other posts on this topic, click here.

You probably noticed above that today’s topic was my!!! idea in response to Karen Graffeo’s request for help. I selfishly suggested this topic because I have a favorite sentence that I always read with astonishment that I wrote such a beautiful thought. The sentence has nothing to do with diabetes but it is part of a blogpost that celebrates all types of diabetes, dogs, cats, and DOC friends.

But look at me taking credit for this sentence! It was actually written by Abby the Black Lab whom many of you know as a guest author for Test Guess and Go. Abby is quite popular and her posts get more readership than mine. Basically who doesn’t like dogs more than diabetes? My favorite blogging sentence is part of my favorite post and was written by Abby. The sentence follows and you probably need to read the whole post to put it in context:

“It is a magical glimpse of heaven for a lucky black dog who is showered with love by a beautiful princess gray cat.”

The entire post as reprinted from 9/09/2013 follows:

The Great Divide in the DOC

Abby with Abby Crown_no backgroundI’m Abby the Black Lab and it has been a while since I have written a blog post.  Lately I have been utterly distressed by a great divide that I see in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) and I think it is time to bring this to the attention of my readers.  You probably think I’m going to start talking about the Type 1 versus Type 2 wars that periodically surface on the Internet.  Are you kidding?  My subject is not nearly as trite as that.

No, it’s the dog people versus the cat people.  The canines versus the felines.  The lovable, loyal, goofy, tail-wagging dogs versus the slinky, aloof, meowing and menacing kitty cats.

The cat aficionados have long been led by Kerri from Six Until Me whose cat Siah is a media star who poses in laundry baskets and attempts to dominate the DOC as an “internet celeb-kitty.”  The dog people are more decentralized in their leadership.  Canines have conceded Twitter to the cats, but think that we rule Facebook.  The blogosphere is probably a toss-up, but my opinion is that dogs are truly superior in their contribution to their PWDs (people with diabetes).  Duchess is a diabetes service dog who daily keeps her owner Tarra safe.  Meri’s boys are protected from the abyss of low blood sugars by Lawton the Yellow Lab.  All human hearts have melted seeing photos of Kim’s corgi watching over the new baby “Rabbit.”  Black labs like Riley owned by Mike Hoskins insist that their owners exercise by taking them for daily walks.

Cats meanwhile are tiptoeing across keyboards and writing meaningless blog posts with the tag line “zxzxzxdjjj.”  Pissed-off and non-sleeping kitties are considered newsworthy.  Oh yeah, Chris of @iam_spartacus fame has some feisty looking cats and @KarenBittrSweet claims to have the world’s cutest cat.  Videos of Grumpy Cat are ubiquitous, but if I want to see grumpy, I can look at my owner Laddie when her meter says 286.

Fortunately the DOC universe of cats and dogs has recently been in a state of equilibrium with only a few ripples of discord.  The dog people tried to sneak one under the rug in Twitter and Facebook with the purchase of a Scottish Terrier named Bella by Cherise.  Someone needs to tell Bella that if she wants to become an icon in the DOC Canine Hall of Fame, she should learn to walk on a leash.  Also tell her that if she’s going to be a supporter of people with diabetes, lancet devices should not be on the menu.  The cat people have lost some heroes as Kerri and Pancreassasin mourn their beloved friends who have gone to the scratching post in the sky. (RIP Prussia July/2013 and Pancreassasin 2week kitty August/2013).

But the calm has been shattered!  Earlier this month the cat people added a new Abby_Loopy2superhero to their roster in the guise of a young child named Birdie.  Smiles and cute Batman Princess costumes are not adequate to camouflage the chaotic schemes of this young and seemingly innocent feline-loving child.  With no attempts to disguise her evil intent, this child suggested that the family cat Siah was lonely and needed a friend called…. Loopy.

The Loopy hullabaloo has not been all.  Another scandal has been exposed in the DOC and I, Abby, a supporter of all people with diabetes, have been accused of consorting with the enemy.  A photo of a certain black lab being nuzzled by a gray feline has been splashed across the headlines.  I confess.  I am guilty.  I like cats and cats like me.

Abby Headlines

Every year I put “Kitten” at the top of my Christmas list.  Unfortunately my owner Laddie is allergic to cats, so no personal kitty is in my future.  I am extremely fortunate that when Laddie travels, I get to go to Linda’s house and visit my friend Nikki.  Nikki is a shy cat, but I have learned to approach her slowly and lay my head down acknowledging that cats are supreme.  She rewards me with purrs and caresses of her head against mine.  It is a magical glimpse of heaven for a lucky black dog who is showered with love by a beautiful princess gray cat.

My romance with Nikki has some important lessons for everyone.  Although you seemingly-civilized people with Type 1 diabetes sometimes argue with those who have Type 2 diabetes, you pancreatically-challenged doofuses should remember that you are stronger together than apart.  Diabetes in all of its evil forms is the enemy and you should join hands and conquer it together.

More importantly, we dogs and cats should toss aside our petty differences and stop the harassing hisses and barks.  With a united army of canines and felines, we can fight a cosmic battle against our common enemy.   A enemy who taunts and teases us in our own yards and through our own windows.  An adversary who seems to think that dominance is achieved through water-skiing videos.  We have seen the enemy and the enemy is……..SQUIRRELS!

Abby Crown Against Squirrels

Other Posts by Abby the Black Lab

Abby the Black Lab Discusses DSMA Live

Abby the Black Lab Discusses Nutrition

A Diabetes Poem by Abby the Black Lab

Abby the Black Lab Discusses Community

Zoodles, Vegetti, and Sweet Patoodles

6th Annual Diabetes Blog Week

Today’s Topic:  Taking a cue from Adam Brown’s recent post, write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.  (Thank you, Katy of  Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes for this topic.) To see other posts in this category, click here.

Laddie_Head SquareHere we are on Day 5 of 2015 Diabetes Blog Week. More than once this week I have strayed from the topic at hand and today is another one of those days. Rather than outline what I eat in a day, I am going to share one of my favorite cooking gadgets and highlight the most beautiful salad that I have ever made. Katy who submitted this topic won’t be mad at me because if she doesn’t already have a spiralizer, she will after she learns about zoodles and sees my beautiful salad.

Earlier this year on Facebook, my D-buddy Kate Cornell talked about fixing zoodles for dinner. I am not a very inspired cook, but this discussion interested me. Like what in the heck is a zoodle? Whenever I read what Kate is cooking, I always wish that her delicious low carb meals could beam through the Internet and land on my table. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet…

I was sufficiently intrigued with zoodles to find out from Kate that they are zucchini noodles that are made using a gadget called a spiralizer. Zoodles cook quickly and are an amazingly good substitute for noodles for those who want to eat low carb, increase the quantity of vegetables in their diet, or eat gluten-free. I asked Kate what brand of spiralizer she owns and ordered the same one (Gefu) from Amazon.

My spiralizer arrived and I spiralized zucchini (zoodles) and yellow squash (squoodles?) for dinner several times. They were delicious and so easy to prepare. Amazingly I have not yet served my zoodles with pasta sauce, but I will soon.

In early April I was having a friend over for supper and decided that I wanted to use my spiralizer to make either soup or a salad. I looked at photos online and found the most gorgeous vegan salad. You can find the photo and recipe here.Vegan Salad that

I do not follow a vegan diet and it is probably a sacrilege that I used this salad as a model for my chicken salad plate. But I did and I thought the result was great. (The other non-vegan part of the salad besides the chicken and probably the mayonnaise was that I used feta cheese instead of tofu.) Later on in April I had more friends over for dinner and once again plated the salad. I was universally complimented for the dinner and it was a great low-carb meal for me. I served bread both times with the salad and that is why the left side of the plate is empty in the photo.

My Salad with Spiralized

Since then I have purchased a spiralizer cookbook called Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci. Ironically she learned about the spiralizer from her mother who has Type 1 diabetes. I also follow Maffucci’s blog. You can also Google spiralizer recipes and find great meal ideas.

The Gefu spiralizer is fine and I left it at my Arizona house. I have just ordered a new spiralizer for Minnesota and decided to buy one with more blades because Maffucci talks about blades 1-4 in her recipes and the Gefu has only 2. You can find spiralizers priced from about $15 to $50. I am not experienced enough to provide any advice.

Random spiralizer fact:  According to Maffucci, one of her readers sent in a video with her child jumping rope with a zoodle.

Another fact: You can also use a spiralizer to make “rice” from vegetables or even spiraled buns.

Final fact: If I can do this, anyone can.

My Blue Ribbon First Place Change

6th Annual Diabetes Blog Week

Today’s Topic:  Today let’s talk about changes, in one or two ways.  Either tell us what you’d most like to see changed about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people’s perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one have seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you? To read all of the other posts in this category, click here.

Laddie_Head SquareHaving been diagnosed with diabetes in 1976, I have experienced a huge number of changes. Some, such as the advent of home blood glucose meters, were so long ago that I don’t remember the effect on me or my diabetes care. Others, such as my insulin pump, greatly increased my quality of life but didn’t improve my A1c.

By far the biggest improvement in my diabetes care as tracked by the change in my A1c and maybe in the stability of my blood sugars was the addition of Lantus to my diabetes regimen. Those of you who were diagnosed after the days of NPH missed out on the rollercoaster peaks and valleys of this “Not Particularly Helpful” insulin. There were definite benefits to NPH such as rarely needing a shot for lunch and getting to eat bolus-free candy bars at 4:30 PM in order to make it to dinner without a paramedic visit. But it was an intermediate-acting insulin that was slow to start working and then hit with a vengeance 6-9 hours after injection. The most difficult thing about NPH was its unpredictable variability from day to day.

Lantus was introduced in the United States in May 2001. At that point I was seeing an endocrinologist whom I liked a lot and was/still is quite renown in the world of diabetes. I remember one of my last appointments with him. He looked at my A1c and BG records (using a regimen of NPH, Regular, and Humalog insulins) and said something like: “You’re doing great and seem to be able to get anything to work. Keep doing what you’re doing and let’s not make any changes.” Soon after this appointment I left this endo’s practice for insurance reasons and switched to an internal medicine doctor as required for an endocrinology referral in my new network. At my first appointment with the Lantus First Placenew doctor, he looked at my medications and said something like: “Why in the world are you still on NPH and not taking Lantus?” I was far from a proactive patient in those days and probably had never heard of Lantus.

I started on Lantus immediately and four months later, my A1c had dropped 1.7 points from my test 5 months earlier. Even more amazingly, my A1c was 2.5 points lower than the test of 9 months previous. I had also lost the ten pounds that I had gained in my perimenopause 40’s. So much for an endocrinologist versus an internal medicine doctor…. I got some of my best diabetes care ever from this internal medicine doctor and did not return to an endocrinologist until several years later when I chose to begin using an insulin pump.

Lantus is not perfect by any means and these days many Type 1’s take two to three injections a day rather than the 2001 “promised land” of one injection a day. I am a very happy pumper in 2015 but know that if I had to go back to a regimen of Lantus/Levemir and Novolog/Humalog/Apidra, I would be totally fine. The major change would be that I would have to become comfortable injecting mealtime insulin in front of other people and probably take several injections of Lantus/Levemir per day.

I have decided to negotiate with Medicare who will be my insurer in 23 months. If Medicare will fund my Dexcom CGM, I promise to go back to injections and probably save the insurer money. Unfortunately under current regulations, that idea is a pipe dream and I will continue to pump and save my pennies to personally fund my Dexcom.

One thing that I will not do is to go back to NPH. Unless that is my only choice….

Stuff and More Stuff

6th Annual Diabetes Blog Week

Today’s Topic:  Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let’s clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you’re mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?  (Thank you Rick of RA Diabetes for this topic suggestion.) To read all of the other posts in this category, click here.

Laddie_Head SquareI think that I took the easy way out with this topic and never addressed how to get rid of diabetes stuff–physical or mental. I just took photos and wrote about diabetes paraphernalia of which I have a lot. I’ll enjoy my free pass today and look forward to reading the more-on-topic posts by my fellow D-bloggers….

I keep backup diabetes supplies in two places. The first is a large drawer in my bedroom where pump supplies, meter strips, glucose tabs, spare batteries, etc. are stored. It is neat and tidy and except for the fact that I have too many boxes of reservoirs, it contains supplies that I will use soon.

Drawer Diabetes supplies

Down the hall there is a closet where diabetes gadgets and supplies go to die. Occasionally I end up retrieving and using a couple of the devices, but mostly it’s stuff that sits there for years and is finally thrown away. I seem addicted to keeping boxes and I can’t quite figure out why. On one hand I wish that I had kept every meter and lancet device that I have ever used so that I could have a personal museum. But since I didn’t, I have to question why I need multiple Dexcom boxes and a bottle of expired control solution.

Closet Diabetes Supplies

In case you’re interested, here is the current inventory:

1 Animas Vibe box (at least I threw away the Ping box), 1 Medtronic Revel box (it contains an old, but working pump), 4 Verio IQ meters (two were used for a while and two have never been opened), 2 One Touch Ultra Mini meters, 1 One Touch Ping meter/remote (I no longer own the pump, so why do I have the meter?), 1 One Touch Ultra Link meter, 3 Dexcom Kit boxes (1 for current receiver and 2 containing old receivers), 2 Dexcom transmitter boxes (containing old non-functional transmitters), 1 Brookstone travel hair dryer (in the diabetes section because its case looks like a meter case), 1 Freestyle Lite case (empty), 1 Freestyle Lite box (empty), 1 box Medtronic Silhouettes (half-empty), 1 box Medtronic Reservoirs (half-empty), 1 One Touch UltraSmart meter (was considered “smart” in its day), plastic bags of various cases and clips, and 1 plastic bag with a lancet device, lancets, and expired control solution.

On one hand it’s obscene how much “stuff” I have when there are adults and children around the world dying because they lack insulin and supplies. #SpareARose. There are also many people in the US, Canada, and abroad who have no insurance coverage for insulin pumps and CGMs. So I am indeed fortunate. However I get to whine a little. Can you believe all the crapola it takes to stay healthy with diabetes?!?!?!

Keeping It to Myself

6th Annual Diabetes Blog WeekToday’s Topic:  Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see.  What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?  (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone.  There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects.  Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won’t tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic.) To read all of the other posts in this category, click here.

Laddie_Head SquareI have always kept most of my diabetes self-care tasks private. My sister and I both have Type 1 diabetes. She always injected (and still does) in front of others—usually in the middle of the kitchen. I always went somewhere private—usually the bathroom. I have never changed nor become comfortable giving my shots in front of others. What has changed is that I went on a pump and for the most part injections disappeared from my life. I don’t insert infusion sets in public or in front of my family, so I basically keep this stuff to myself.

I used to do all of my blood glucose testing in private and have at least mellowed on that through the years. I try to be discreet and will test with my kit in my lap at a restaurant. But I don’t unpack everything and set up a BG station on the table. Does this mean I am mired in shame over diabetes? No. Well….maybe a little bit. At the same time I am comfortable with keeping most of my diabetes tasks private and don’t feel much need to justify what is my comfort zone. I am not critical of other people’s decisions on how they handle their public diabetes persona. Do what works for you and I am okay with what works for me.

There is one story where many of you will strongly disagree with me. A few years ago there was a discussion on a diabetes message board (probably ADA or TuDiabetes) that resulted in lots of responses and quite a few arguments. A cousin (or the mother?) was planning her wedding and asked the original poster to not test or give injections at the table at the wedding dinner. Many of the responses to that scenario expressed outrage at Insensitive Cousinthe idea that this cousin would dictate this and suggested that the person refuse to do this or maybe just skip the wedding.

I would argue that long term the cousin and her mother need education on diabetes and maybe an extended course on good manners and compassion. At the same time it is just not that big a deal to me. My view would be that my cousin is a pain-in-the-neck bride-to-be, but I would be willing to honor her request. It is her wedding day and it is a small thing to find an isolated spot to test and inject for one day. I am willing to extend her the courtesy of not offending anyone with blood and gore and evil diabetes germs although I think she is wrong in asking this of me.

Before you start screaming, I know that this is a slippery slope. What if she asked me not to come because I am in a wheelchair? What if she asked me to leave my mixed-race husband at home? What if she asked me to wear Spanx because I am slightly overweight? What about another forum post where the mother of an adult T1 screamed at her child to leave the kitchen and always test her blood and inject in the bathroom?

I keep a lot of things to myself. In recent years the DOC has taught me to be more open about my diabetes and not to hide what I need to do to stay healthy. I think that we all have to fight our battles when and where we choose. No one wants to feel like a second-class citizen or ashamed of their diabetes. At the same time, I am a fan of occasionally leaving my indignation at home.

For sure, I am a work in progress.

Oh Yes, I Can

This is my second time participating in Diabetes Blog Week and like last year, I am overwhelmed at the idea of publishing a blogpost every day for seven days. In the middle of 2014 Blog Week, I secretly swore that I would never participate again. But I managed to stick with it. By the end of the week I was exhilarated with the passion and talent of my fellow diabetes bloggers and was proud to have participated. So here we go for the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week! As always, thanks to Karen Graffeo of Bitter~Sweet™ for being the brains behind this project and organizing it for the sixth year.

6th Annual Diabetes Blog Week

Today’s Topic:  In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…”  that participants found wonderfully empowering.  So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.  What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could?  Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of?  Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?  (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.) To read all of the posts in this category, click here.


Laddie_Head SquareI was ignorant about diabetes when I was diagnosed as a young adult in 1976. It never dawned on me that it would change the direction of my life and no one told me that it might limit anything that I hoped to do. As I sit here 38 years later, I like to think that I have not been held back by diabetes although I know that many things have been more difficult because of the constant demands of Type 1.

I think the one thing that I do that others are often amazed by is hiking. I spend a third of the year in Arizona and when I am there, I hike once or twice every week. My Friday hikes are not for the faint of heart and I join a group of friends on excursions that average 10-12 miles. Most of the hikes are in mountainous areas and often we are in areas with very little traffic and no cell phone coverage. The scenery is fabulous. The fellowship of this tight-knit group of women is inspiring. Every week is a challenge and I begin each season of hiking with the fear that this is the year that it will be “too hard” for me.

I have mixed feelings about how my Type 1 diabetes is viewed in this group. On one hand, I feel safe with these women because two of them are nurses and one has a sister with Type 1. The others are strong, confident women who wouldn’t faint at the sight of a Balanced RockGlucagon needle. I have never once felt that anything about my health is a burden to the group. The thing that makes me uneasy is the universal conviction that I am the model of someone who has her diabetes totally “in control.” It’s the idea that I “do diabetes” better than other people and the belief that I am somehow different from other people with diabetes.

I work hard at caring for myself, but I am a long ways from being perfect. My days are filled with good decisions peppered with less than optimal choices. I believe that I am lucky to have no severe complications after so many years of diabetes and I definitely know others who have not been as lucky. I realize that I have been the beneficiary of good insurance and have always had access to the hardware, supplies, and medications that allow me to live an active life. So I am uncomfortable being labeled “the good diabetic.”

At the same time I need to remember to take pride in what I do. I can hike because I work hard to stay in shape. I can hike safely because I am neurotically organized and am prepared with adequate food, water, and back-up diabetes supplies. I can hike because I am willing to push my boundaries while keeping a realistic view of my capabilities. I can hike because diabetes has been kinder to me than to some others. I can hike because…well, I just can.

Take that, Diabetes!


Related Posts

Hiking with Diabetes Part 1

Hiking with Diabetes Part 2

Short Hikes – Hiking with Diabetes Part 3

Stepping Out with Diabetes and a Fitbit

Laddie_Head SquareThis is one of those posts where I need to state that I am not a medical professional and nothing I write should be considered medical advice. My aim is to share some ideas about how a Fitbit activity tracker fits into my life with diabetes.


In the last couple of weeks there has been chatter around the DOC about Fitbit and other activity trackers. Some of the talk has been about Fitbit challenges which are well-described in Kerri’s post at Six Until Me. I also wrote a post about one specific challenge.

Although I have enjoyed recent challenges, I owned a Fitbit for almost 2-1/2 years without linking it to social media. Even without friends and challenges, I found a Fitbit to be very motivating in an un-nagging sort of way. Although no one was monitoring whether I reached my daily goals, seeing the numbers tended to encourage me to take the dog for another walk or start using the upstairs bathroom to get extra steps (doin’ the Karen Graffeo).

I am a big fan of activity trackers when it comes to diabetes. Most of the things we PWDPump and Fitbit-001 are told to manage fall into the following areas:  diet, medication, exercise, BG monitoring, and psychosocial support. It is impossible to be perfect in any of these areas, but in my opinion the better I can do “on average,” the better I feel and the better my diabetes numbers are. For me there is no doubt that my Fitbit helps with the exercise component of my diabetes care.

Some of the reasons are:

Consistency:  Diabetes like consistency. By trying to reach my Fitbit step goal every day, my activity level is steadier than it would be without the device. Over time I believe that consistent exercise has resulted in lower and more predictable insulin requirements and I have fewer severe lows when I work out. At age 63 I can arrange my schedule to walk a few miles every day after breakfast and that exercise is reflected in my basal rates. If I skip the walk, I often set an increased temporary basal rate for a couple of hours.

Many of you are not be at a stage in life where you can exercise at the same time every day because jobs, children, weather, etc. demand your attention. At the same time you can work to be more active every day as you try to reach your step goal. Park your car at the far edge of the parking lot, take a longer route to the water cooler, walk around the house when you are on the phone, take a lunchtime walk. The advantage of an activity tracker is that you have data to monitor changes in your daily activity.

Motivation:  By starting with reasonable goals, I was able to achieve success right away. I have always enjoyed the weekly email I receive titled “Fitbit Weekly Stats.” This report gives me information on how many steps I walked the week before as well as total distance, averages, weight change if I choose to enter it into the website, and so on. Not every week is an improvement over the previous one, but in general my average daily steps have increased during the time that I have owned a Fitbit.

I am a believer that starting slow is fine and knowing your limitations is important. Some people have no problem achieving 10,000 steps per day. Others will work hard to reach 2,000 steps and their success is as admirable as those running marathons. Over time as you become more active, you can increase your goal if that makes sense for you. Or maybe your goal will stay the same and you can take pride is meeting that step count most days.

Easy to use:  Fitbits are simple to use. The Zip uses a disc battery which lasts for about 3-6 months. I have the One which is rechargeable with a USB cord. You can check out other models at the Fitbit website.

What is most fabulous is that the data from each tracker downloads automatically to the Fitbit website. When I open the app on my smartphone, it syncs automatically. I also have a USB wireless dongle connected to my desktop PC and the Fitbit syncs whenever I am within 15-20 feet of the computer. I don’t have to do a thing. (This is of course what I wish would happen with all of my diabetes devices….)

Fun:  I enjoy seeing my Fitbit stats whether or not I compare them with others. Challenges can motivate me to take more steps than usual, but at the same time I rarely win the challenges or even expect to. One thing I like about the challenge called Goal Day is that it is based on how each competitor does compared to his/her daily step goal. If my goal is 10,000 steps and yours is 2,000 and we each walk an extra 500 steps, you will crush me because you are at 125% of goal and I am only at 105%.

I have found everything about Fitbit reports and challenges to be positive. When I hit personal milestones, Fitbit rewards me with silly badges like the Penguin March for having cumulatively walked 70 miles or the Happy Hill for climbing 10 flights of stairs in a day. My experience with challenges has been that everyone is positive and supportive. I am awed at my personal stats on the Fitbit dashboard. FYI I have taken over 9,300,000 steps (4,200 miles) since I purchased my first Fitbit. My “best” day was April 5, 2013 when I walked 32,095 steps (a very long Arizona hike).

Diasend:  Diasend is an online system for uploading most diabetes devices except Medtronic products. It is a free service and all you need to do is set up a personal account. I use an Animas Vibe pump, a Dexcom G4, and several Freestyle meters. All can be uploaded to Diasend and there is Compilation report that displays all of this data in one report.

A new development is that I can link my Fitbit account to Diasend. (Other compatible activity trackers are the Moves App, Runkeeper, Jawbone Up, and Nike+.) Because my BG levels and insulin doses are highly dependent on activity level, it’s nice to see them in one report. Below you will see part of a two week report. (I have blocked out some of the data for personal reasons.) But you can see the potential for starting to track the effect of exercise on your diabetes numbers.

Diasend Compilation with Fitbit_1

If you currently use Diasend and don’t know how to link your activity tracker, click on the Account Admin tab and then select the tab that says “Browse & connect activity tracker.”

One caveat. When you first link your Fitbit, it starts with current data and includes no historical data. If you normally look at 2 weeks of data for your diabetes devices, the Activity data will not be correct until the link with Fitbit has been active for two weeks. But from then on your data will show up automatically. No download cables required.

Summary:  I am very happy with my Fitbit. If you are in the market for an activity tracker, you should probably check out all the brands. Some cell phones, including the iPhone 5S and 6-series, have activity trackers built into them. For the budget conscious, a basic pedometer is adequate to monitor your activity level and allow you to keep track of stats that interest and motivate you. Use whatever works for you.

If you can’t stand the idea of more numbers in your life, just ignore everything I wrote today. Put on your sneakers and take a walk. Take time to smell the roses and enjoy your day while secretly thinking that people like me are crazy.…