Spare a Rose, Save a Child 2015

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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

Celebrating Tom Beatson

Laddie_Head SquareYesterday Tom Beatson of Phoenix, Arizona celebrated his 72nd anniversary of living with Type 1 diabetes. I’ve been lucky to get to know Tom in recent years through Valley Pumpers, an insulin pump support group that I attend during the winter months in Arizona. Many people in the diabetes community know Tom through Facebook and other online venues. He’s an incredible guy who is always kind, inspirational, smart, and opinionated. Tom has participated in the Joslin 50-year Medalist Program and supports diabetes research through the Joslin Diabetes Center.

If you’d like to learn more about Tom, check out this TuDiabetes interview from January 2013. In this video he and Richard Vaughn (diagnosed in 1945) discussed living with Type 1 diabetes for over 70 years.

Below you will find Tom’s story as he shared it in an email and on Facebook yesterday. I asked Tom if I could post his statement and photo here today and he graciously gave me permission.

With no further ado, here is Tom Beatson in his own words:

“Today is my anniversary. Exactly one year after Pearl Harbor was the first day I was sick with T1D Type 1 Diabetes. I was 10 years old.  Two days later Dr. Wright made a house call and decided I needed to be in the hospital. Since my mother didn’t know how to drive, Dr. Wright drove me and my mother to the hospital in his car. Shortly after arriving at the hospital I lapsed into a coma. Of course, insulin saved my life. I don’t have any records or recollections by my parents, but I think I was comatose for several days, and remained in the hospital for a month. That was 72 years ago, in 1942.

Lots of people have asked me how or why I have survived through all these years.  I don’t have a magic answer for you.  I take one day at a time and do the best I can. It’s been pointed out to me that I have a lot of determination, and that has been very helpful.

Another thing that has been helpful is exercise. When I was about 45 I started riding a bicycle and did that for 35 years. During those years I accumulated 106,000 miles. I have stopped riding currently because of soreness in my lower back, but hope to resume bicycle riding.

Back in the 1940s the insulin pump hadn’t been invented yet, so I used shots every day  for 52 years. That was long enough to earn me a 50-year medal. Then in 1995 Dr. Levy started me on the insulin pump. My control has been much TJB 11-9-14 at 7.26 PMbetter using the pump. I am currently on my fourth pump – the Animas Ping. It was preceded by the Cozmo, 508, and 506. Since I’m on Medicare, they won’t approve a CGM. Their rules are not medically sound. My daily dose ranges between 35 and 45 units of Humalog insulin.

Since I am already 82 I’m not very optimistic about seeing a cure within my lifetime. But I’m keeping a close eye on the Bionic Pancreas that Dr. Ed Damiano is working on at Boston U.  His goal is to get FDA approval by 2017, and that’s when I reach 75 years of T1D, so I’m hoping to be able to get a Bionic Pancreas in time for my 75th anniversary.

Unlike some of you who still claim no complications, I’ve been dealing with retinopathy for 50 years. It remained background until about 10 years ago, when one eye became proliferative. And I’ve got kidney problems. But I have no neuropathy and no gastroparesis. My hearing is still good.  I’ve had chronic lymphocytic leukemia for 20 years with a white cell count around 60,000 but it never gets high enough for them to treat (80K). And I have colitis.

What was the biggest mistake of my life?  I never got married, and have lived alone for more than 50  years.”

Thank you, Tom, and best wishes for many more years of good health with Type 1 diabetes. I’ll give you a call in three years and see how you like your 75th Anniversary gift of a Bionic Pancreas!

Playing Nice in the DOC Sandbox

Laddie_Head SquareI try to be open-minded when it comes to my online/offline interactions with people affected by diabetes. On one hand, I can be as snarky and self-centered as anyone. On the other hand, I have learned that being kind and supportive gets easier with practice and soon becomes a very nice way to lead one’s life. I have definitely had good role models in the DOC and I thank you all. I am also old enough that I have learned that there is no right answer to every question and no guarantee that doing the “right” thing will guarantee good results. So I try to be understanding of other people and usually I succeed.

Last weekend I unwittingly became the the central character in an unpleasant diabetes online experience. Neither the group nor subject is important. I have pretty thick skin and was more stunned than hurt by the barrage of comments. I suppose one problem with the Internet is that although you can control what you write, you can’t always control how your words and intent are received. I don’t pretend to be perfect and am willing to accept responsibility for my missteps although I still don’t quite understand what happened.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time this week thinking about my responsibilities as a member of the DOC. I had a recollection that some blogger once outlined behavior suggestions for the diabetes community. The few longtime DOC bloggers whom I asked about this didn’t think that such a thing existed. Chances are that I once read an article about general online etiquette and that stuck in my mind.

Whenever you have interpersonal problems, I think that the best thing you can do is take a deep breath and reread Robert Fulghum’s list of things to be learned in kindergarten. It always makes me smile.Kindergarten Rules_3

Now that we’re feeling all warm and cozy, let’s consider the DOC and whether there should be a code of conduct. The bloggers whom I recently contacted and the DSMA Tweet Chat of 9/3/14 were unanimous in the opinion that there should be no rules for the diabetes online community. According to one writer, rules would go against the “organic flow” of the community. I think that means that we’re an opinionated and rowdy bunch who have a modicum of common sense along with compassion and mutual respect. But when all is said and done, a few rules did come out of the discussion.

Here you go, DOC Friends!  (with special thanks to K-bloggers Kerri, Kelly, and Kim)

DOC Rules

And I’m going to add one more:

4. If someone screws up, give them the opportunity to learn and then forgive them.

If four rules are too much for you to deal with, just go with #3.

Don’t be a Jerk Face.*

That covers just about everything.

* a descriptive term that only Kerri could think of

Blogrolls….

Laddie_Head SquareLast week I spent two hours updating my Blogroll.  The process began with a print-out of my current blogroll which I compared to my bookmarks for diabetes blogs in Safari. I found about 25 bookmarks which needed to be added to the list. One by one I typed in the name of each new blog and embedded the link to the website.

I had known for months that I needed to work on my blogroll, but the chore stayed at the bottom of my To-Do list.  What inspired me to finally tackle the project was the Wednesday, Sept. 3 DSMA TweetChat. The subject was whether the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) should have a governing body along with standards of conduct and lots of rules. No one seemed to think that was a good idea and the discussion moved to the topic of helping newcomers to the DOC find a foothold in the maze of diabetes social media.  Blogrolls were mentioned.

Blogrolls show up in many different forms.  Some like mine are long lists by category (Type 1, Type 2, Parent) with no description or rating of the blogs.  Others are shorter lists with titles such as “My Favorite Blogs” or “DOC Friends”.  One of my favorite blogrolls is by Scott at Rolling in the D because he has personalized his list with brief and occasionally witty descriptions of each blog/blogger. A nice feature on Blogger sites is a “live” blogroll that automatically updates with recently published posts.  Many DOC writers have chosen to not have blogrolls at all.

Blogroll_!What is the purpose of a blogroll?  When I began reading diabetes blogs many years ago, blogrolls were a magical pathway to “meeting” other people with diabetes.  Without Twitter and Facebook, there was really no other way to learn about other websites.  The first blog I read was either Scott’s or Kerri’s and then it was a dot-to-dot adventure finding other people sharing their stories.  My guess is that newcomers to the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) still use blogrolls in this fashion while most blogrolls are largely ignored.  My blogroll had about 200 views in the last year.  I hope that some viewers used my list to find other blogs.  Unfortunately I suspect that most of the views were just by other bloggers seeing if they were on the list!

The main reason that blogrolls are impossible to keep current is because there are now hundreds of diabetes blogs and new ones appearing all of the time.  If you check out most blogrolls, you will find a dated list that highlights many established D-blogs while including few new blogs and being littered with many blogs that have been abandoned for years.

As an experiment, I checked out the blogrolls of the first twenty blogs listed in my Safari bookmarks.  I chose 3 favorite blogs in addition to my own to see if they were listed in any blogrolls. These 3 blogs are by prolific Type 1 writers who like me have been around for about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years. Of the twenty blogs I checked out, 5 did not have blogrolls.  My blog was listed on 5 out of the remaining 15 blogrolls.  Another fantastic newish blog was listed on only 3 blogrolls.  One was seen on 6 out of 15 and the last one had more presence being on 9 out of 15 blogrolls. These stats are not meant to criticize anyone; rather they emphasize how flawed most blogrolls are.  Even if you are able to keep adding all of the new blogs, when do you take an inactive blog off the list?  The ultimate criteria is probably when the link doesn’t work anymore.  But how old is too old?

When blogrolls were mentioned in the September 3 DSMA TweetChat, Scott Johnson immediately tossed out the question of the day. Typical of DSMA, the discussion quickly went off-topic and morphed into shrimp rolls and carb counts.

Blogroll Tweet All

How do I feel about this?  On one hand, it is frustrating to be left off lists by people whom I know read my blog regularly.  At the same time, I know that it is meaningless because I don’t think blogrolls are used for much of anything and most of us rarely look at them.  So after this post I think I will go back to totally ignoring them.

Back to the September 3 DSMA TweetChat.  Although I don’t believe that the DOC needs a governing board or rules, I wonder if something like a DBlog Central website would be useful.  This site could maintain a complete and updated blogroll with descriptions and tags to help users navigate the DOC.  A central website could also be a hub for sharing information with all diabetes bloggers on things like starting a blog, finding diabetes graphics, Twitter names, current campaigns of the DOC such as Spare a Rose, and a calendar of events.

I can’t envision how something like this could be created.  Maybe we should have a governing board for the DOC and “they” could set up the website….  Yeah, right!  I think that most of us would say that the magic of the DOC comes from its somewhat chaotic nature and no one wants to regulate its constant evolution. Why should we change something that isn’t broken?

In the meantime I plan to continue to have a blogroll.  If you’re not on it and would like to be, please contact me.

Introducing Rick Phillips

Laddie_Head SquareRick Phillips might be one of the busiest people in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). The easiest place to find him is at TuDiabetes. He hangs out there under the name of “Rick the Blogabetic” and is an active blogger, forum participant, and member of the Care Team.

For those of you who are not active in the TuDiabetes community, the Care Team is composed of a group of dedicated members who moderate the forums, welcome newcomers to the site, post birthday greetings, look out for spammers, and provide support as needed to members of the community. It’s a big job and a compliment to be asked to be part of the team. After a few weeks of being part of the Care Team, Rick wrote a blogpost summarizing his thoughts on the “challenge to serve”. Here is an excerpt:

I truly love this site [TuDiabetes] and over the last few weeks I come to love it even more than today. Thank you so much for asking. It means a lot to me and if the reader of this post is ever asked and they accept the challenge, they will find a new way to serve you fellow diabetics and believe me it is so worthwhile.

Rick decided in late April 2013 that he needed to do something that was mega-impactful and he pledged to write 200 blogposts in one calendar year. Thus was created Rick Rick_2Rthe Blogabetic. Rick is somewhat like me in that he never uses one word when ten will do. Therefore his 200 posts represent a tremendous amount of writing and research on a vast array of subjects. You can read about anything from “Dogs and Endocrinologists” to the whimsical story of “Chick Duck” and from “What is -30-” to “When are We Not Diabetic?”  To learn more about Rick, you should read his 199th post in which he described what he learned as a result of his blogging marathon. BTW Rick the Blogabetic is still going strong although maybe not at the pace of 200 posts per year.

In recent weeks I have run into Rick at TuDiabetes both in the forums and on his blog. I have read his guest-post at Karen Graffeo’s blog Bitter Sweet™ where he compares diabetes education to spring rains. I have seen him (@LawrPhil) in the thick of the controlled mayhem of #DSMA TwitterChat on Wednesday evenings. Facebook? Yes, he’s there too. So if you don’t already know Rick, chances are you will soon!

Rick and I have a lot in common. He has had Type 1 for 40 years compared to my 38 years. He is somewhat younger than I am, but we have been married approximately the same length of time and our two sons are the same age. Even our grandchildren are close in age. We both live with multiple autoimmune conditions. Here things diverge. Rick lives with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) that has had a huge impact on his life.  He indicates that his arthritis is much more difficult to live with than diabetes and that the severity of his arthritis required him to abandon the career he loved in education/business/public affairs. Although I also have arthritis, mine is more easily managed and has not yet required me to make significant changes to my lifestyle.

Next week Rick will be guest-blogging at Test Guess and Go about the connection between Type 1 diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Because many of us with one autoimmune condition have clusters of autoimmune issues, this 3-part series should be an interesting and educational read. Rick will tell his personal story in Part 1, talk about his treatment regimen in Part 2, and conclude with a somewhat scientific discussion of the links between diabetes and RA in Part 3.

Thank-you to Rick for taking time to share his story with us. I encourage those of you reading this blogpost to take time to get to know Rick in the many social media platforms of the DOC. You will quickly learn that he is a Diabetes Advocate to the core and that he is a man dedicated to serving others. Those of us with diabetes are lucky to have him on our team.

Why Do I Blog?

Laddie_Head SquareLast week I had my annual eye exam and started to write about it.  Fortunately the appointment went well and as I started to write, I started to wonder why anyone else would have any interest in the appointment.  Sure, you all like me and want to know I’m doing well.  But a whole blogpost worth of doing well?  Maybe not that. There is a certain self-absorption that is present in most blogs and mine is no exception.  At the same time I am uncomfortable with too much personal trivia and you won’t see me posting blood glucose numbers on Facebook or Twitter.  (The one exception is “Twinsies” when my Dexcom G4 and Freestyle meter have matching numbers.)

This got me thinking about now that I have blogged for over a year, why do I blog?  Have I achieved any of the aims that I professed in my first post?  What have I gained from it?  Have I added anything to the Diabetes Online Community (DOC)?  Am I enjoying myself and what do I think about the future of Test Guess and Go?

Why do I blog?  The main reason I blog is that I enjoy writing and creating graphics, some silly and others more serious.  It’s something to do.  I’m at a stage in life where I no longer work and am not satisfied with having something like golf be the center of my life.  I am certainly not an artist or a great writer, but I like having a creative outlet in my life.  Sometimes I think that it is pitiful that I spend so much time writing about diabetes, but there is no doubt that it is something I know a lot about and spend a lot of time dealing with.

Is it to become rich?  That’s a joke, although there are a handful of diabetes bloggers who have used their blogs as stepping stones into careers as diabetes advocates and social media consultants.  Although their lives are purposeful and rewarding, I don’t think that anyone has yet financed a mansion on Diabetes Easy Street through books and consulting fees.  I’m not being paid to blog and except for an occasional book or CGM case, I have received no concrete rewards.  I have not been approached with bribes of cash or chocolate-covered donuts to sway my opinions on any issue.

Little Fish Big PondIs it to become famous?  I admit that one of my aims in starting a blog was to increase my presence in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). I hoped to become a little fish in what is a big pond for those of us with diabetes and a little pond when it comes to the whole wide world.  The measure of my new-found fame is that now when I Google myself, I find images and links.  Previously I did not.  To put this search engine fame into perspective, my dog shows up in “Abby the Black Lab” Google searches and prominently sports her flowered hat and DSMA crown in the image section.

Is it for diabetes advocacy?  Advocacy is a hot topic in the DOC and it easily becomes a burdensome topic.  One of my favorite discussions of this burden is a January 2014 blogpost by Scott from Rolling in the D.  If I summarize his thoughts correctly, he was writing (and maybe whining) about the expectation that just because he was a diabetes blogger that he was required to become an Advocate with a capital-A.  At the same time he understands that through his sharing his diabetes story, he has probably turned into an advocate.  That’s true for me also.  I refuse to feel guilty that my main goal in blogging is not and never has been to be an advocate.  I am a good follower/supporter and feel proud of my participation in DOC projects such as Spare a Rose.  I have also initiated some projects such as my Type 1/Type Conversations with Kate Cornell of Sweet Success: My Life with Type 2 Diabetes.  But I don’t want to be weighed down by expectations of what I should be doing just because I write a blog.  Nor do I want to feel bad if I feel that I’m not living up to what others in the DOC are doing.

Do I pay attention to stats?  You betcha.  Do they make sense?  Sometimes, but not always.  Some posts that I work really hard on get fewer views than others which are flippantly churned out when I just want something to publish.  Stats provide encouragement because they show that I have gained new readers in the last year.  It’s hard work to write a blog and readership is a compliment.  One of my biggest achievements is that I have finally written some posts with more views than those of Abby the Black Lab.

Where do I fit into the DOC?  I am one of hundreds of bloggers in the DOC.  I am old enough to be the mother of most Type 1 bloggers and I am happy that you have accepted me as a friend.  I believe that my co-bloggers and I are good writers and I am proud of what has been published on Test Guess and Go.  Some of our posts have been highly praised and commented on.  At the same time I am careful not to become jealous of  more-established bloggers who get tons of views and repeatedly get invited to represent us at conferences.  One reason is that they have earned their place and secondly, I don’t want the responsibility that goes along with being “big-time”.  I will continue to be a happy little fish and work hard to support all of the other fish, big and small, in the DOC.

Am I fulfilling any of my goals?  Yes, I think that Test Guess and Go has become known as a blog where people of about my age have a place to talk about how diabetes has affected our lives.  Sue from New York has described both her experiences as a Type 1 approaching Medicare age and her life as a parent of a Type 1.  Sue from Pennsylvania has written extensively about her Type 1 husband and advocated for Medicare to begin providing coverage for CGMS.  I’ve shared stories of diabetes then and now and have not been shy about expressing my opinions on any issue.

What has been the main benefit of being a blogger?  With no doubt, the answer is friendship and relationships.  My blog contributors, Sue from NY and Sue from PA have become good friends who understand and walk-the-walk of Type 1 diabetes.  Building on my Twitter and Facebook relationships, I’ve continued to meet and get to know many people living with all types of diabetes in the USA and around the world.  No one wants diabetes in their life, but the people I’ve met in the DOC are incredible!

What is the future of Test Guess and Go?  It is here today and will be here tomorrow.  Beyond that the future is an unknown.  I would like to hear from more seniors who are approaching Medicare age or are already there.  If you are interested in writing a guest-post or becoming a regular contributor, please contact me.  I hope that our readership will continue to grow.  I hope that I can continue to find things to write about.  I hope that my Windows desktop computer continues to work so that I still have access to my beloved Adobe CS5 design programs.  As always, I hope that diabetes will be cured and that the theme of this blog can be changed to Golf, Hiking, and Dog-walking for Old Ladies.

Type 1/Type 2 Conversations:  Diabetes in the Great Outdoors

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Kate_photo_RKate: To continue our discussions between people with type 2 and type 1 diabetes, I thought I’d talk with Laddie about dealing with diabetes while enjoying the great outdoors.  Living in the middle of a pine forest makes it easy to enjoy the peace and loveliness of “the outdoors”.  I love camping and hiking in the woods that are a stone’s throw from my home.  Ray and I enjoy fly fishing, which we have to travel away from home to do.  I’ve blogged before about my adventures when camping with diabetes but I’ve never given a lot of thought to what it would be like to camp with type 1.  Well, my last statement isn’t exactly true.  I have thought about the fact that insulin must be kept cold but I never really thought about how that would work or what level of stress that would add to the camping experience.

Camping with type 2 is really quite easy, at least for me.  In fact, it’s easier to control my blood glucose while camping than it is at home.  Why?  Because what I eat affects my blood glucose more than any other thing I do.  Yes, I take oral meds and yes exercise can lower my blood glucose, but if I overeat or eat too many refined carbs, my blood glucose will spike and there’s not a whole lot I can do about that.  When I’m at home I have a whole smorgasbord of food to choose from, not all of it good for me.  When camping I can only eat what I bring with us and I try, very hard, to limit the “bad stuff”.  It’s still easy to eat too much while camping but I find that the fresh air and peaceful surroundings make it easier to focus on things other than food.  I have been known to have fasting readings in the mid-80s while camping when here at home they are running in the 130s. (We currently can’t camp due to fire restrictions and my glucose could sure use the help!)

While spending time in the outdoors I am always careful to check my glucose levels, I get lots of exercise and I’m usually eating more healthfully.  I’m also much more relaxed, which helps with blood glucose as well.  Can I imagine what it would be like to add insulin to that mix?  Not really.  Intellectually I can understand what would need to be done, but emotionally not so much.  The reality of dealing with type 1 (or anyone who uses insulin, really) is beyond my ken.  (I have always wanted to use that word in a sentence, ever since I first saw The Sound of Music!)  I greatly admire my T1 friends and am always impressed with how they handle everything required to control their diabetes.  What’s it like away from home where there’s no conveniences?

Laddie_Head SquareLaddie:  Kate is correct in stating that preparing for a Great Outdoors adventure is very different for someone with Type 1 diabetes compared to most people with Type 2.  Although we can argue about which type of diabetes in worse in the long run (they’re both the “bad” kind!), in most cases there is little doubt that Type 1 is more dangerous in the short run.  Going on an outdoor expedition ill-prepared can quickly become a life-or-death crisis for someone with Type 1.

I have never had an emergency diabetes situation while in the Great Outdoors and I would attribute that to a combination of thorough preparation and a healthy dose of luck.  When I venture out into nature, I work hard to ensure that I am prepared for almost any contingency.  I make lists.  No matter how many times I have stocked a backpack, I don’t trust my memory.  I use a list and I check it twice.  I figure out what supplies I need and I double or triple that.

Luck has come to my aid a few times and I have been an attentive pupil.  Many years ago I  learned that multiple plastic bags and tape are not sufficient to keep a Medtronic insulin pump dry while whitewater rafting in Canada.  Fortunately it was a cheap lesson because the pump survived with no water damage.  I have been low and run out of glucose/food twice on long hikes and both times the trailhead and car with supplies were over the next hill.

The two scenarios that can quickly become an emergency for me are severe hypoglycemia and an absolute lack of insulin.  To prevent severe hypoglycemia, the first thing that I do is carry glucose products in both my pockets and my pack. Multiple rolls of glucose tabs, gummy fruit snacks, juice boxes, granola bars, and a bag lunch are my standard fare for day hikes.  Secondly, I always carry my Dexcom CGM and pay attention to its warnings of lows.  My meter is easily accessible on my belt and I am proficient at testing while on the go.  Third, I use temporary basals as much as possible to minimize insulin on board.  Fourth, I carry a Glucagon kit and my hiking companions know its location and how to use it.

It is unlikely that I will have a problem with my insulin delivery, but this could become catastrophic very quickly.  As a pumper using short-acting insulin, I start feeling sick if I go without insulin for 3-4 hours.  Periodically on diabetes forums someone asks how long a person with Type 1 can survive without insulin.  Will Dubois at Diabetes Mine has a good post on the subject and concludes with the answer of a few days to 1 or 2 weeks.  How quickly would I feel so sick that I could not longer hike?  Probably 5 to 8 hours.

To prevent an insulin emergency, I always start my adventures with a full or nearly-full reservoir in my pump.  Secondly, if the battery level on my pump is not 100%, I put in a new battery and always carry a spare.  Third, I carry syringes in both my meter case and backpack.  I always pack back-up infusion sets, a reservoir, and a vial of insulin.

Kate mentioned her concern about the proper storage for insulin if and when it becomes part of her diabetes regimen.  Frio cases are the easy solution.  The soft pouches work with evaporation and only need a soaking in water every few days to provide adequate cooling for insulin.  They puff up when “charged” with water and their Pillsbury Doughboy chubbiness helps protect insulin vials from breakage.  They also come in sizes for pens, pumps, and other supplies.

Those of us with Type 1 have to be more neurotic in our preparations for life than those with Type 2.  I don’t complain about diabetes very often, but sometimes I wish that I didn’t have to be so darn prepared all of the time.  At the same time I am thankful for my pump, meter, and CGM that allow me to experience the Great Outdoors in relative safety.

Kate_photo_RKate:  I’m humbled.  I’m impressed!  Laddie, your preparations for a day of hiking are astounding.  I always knew, intellectually, how much preparation is involved for going anywhere with type 1.  I’ve read other blogs and Facebook comments about packing for a trip and needing to take multiple sets of this and that.  I just never transitioned that over to being on a hike or camping.  You always have to be prepared!

One thing that stands out to me is the fact that type 1 carries with it an immediate threat of serious issues.  Someone like me who has type 2 and does not use insulin (or any medication that can cause severe lows) doesn’t have those worries.  I’ve always known this, but this conversation has really brought it to the forefront for me.  There is no “worse” type of diabetes but, in my opinion, type 1 is a lot more serious in the short run.  Your need to control your blood glucose cannot be ignored.  I am not someone who ignores my diabetes control but if I ever do I’m not going to die.  That’s serious stuff.  In the long run, we aren’t much different.  People with all types of diabetes need to be aware of the fact that poor glucose control will most likely lead to serious complications. (It’s important to remember that even if we do control our diabetes the best we can, we may still experience complications and that is not our fault!)  As a type 2 I intend to continue to pay attention and do everything I can to keep my bg as close to normal as I can.  I’m afraid that many type 2s don’t do that.  It’s easy to forget what can happen when we aren’t faced with the immediacy of type 1.

I think it’s so cool that both of us love the outdoors, that we have fishing pictures that are nearly identical and that we do the things we love despite our diabetes.  We are different but we are the same.

Laddie_Head SquareLaddie:  Well said, Kate.  I don’t think that I have anything to add to our discussion except visual proof that people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can look equally goofy in fishing hats!  (If we were men, we would also have to argue about whose fish was bigger….)

 

Gone Fishing_2

Kate_photo_RKate:  One last thought: I think it’s important to point out that neither Laddie nor I hesitate to get out there and do the things we love to do, despite our diabetes.  Don’t let diabetes keep you from living your life.  It can be difficult and frustrating but it’s worth the effort.

Be sure to come back next week when our conversation will be about Friends and Family.  If you missed our first conversation about weight, check it out here.

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This post was originally published on July 15, 2014 on Kate’s blog, Sweet Success: My Life with Type 2 Diabetes.

Link–Type 1/Type 2 Conversations: Diabetes in the Great Outdoors

Laddie_Head SquareFor our second Type 1/Type 2 conversation, Kate has chosen to talk about one of her greatest loves: spending time in the Great Outdoors.  Although I don’t camp (if there is no bed, I don’t go!), I am an avid hiker and regularly explore the mountains and deserts of Arizona.  One thing Kate and I quickly learned in this conversation is that although it is important to learn from and respect people with other types of diabetes, we do have some significant differences in how we navigate our lives.

Last week with our first discussion Type 1/Type 2 Conversations: Talking about Weight, Kate and I published the post simultaneously on both of our blogs.  Very quickly we found that we over-saturated Facebook and Twitter with promos and links followed by favorites, retweets, likes, and shares.  This week we are trying a different strategy.  Because this is Kate’s topic, this conversation will only be published on her blog today. There are two advantages to this.  First, we’ll spare the DOC a barrage of duplicate communications.  Secondly, it will give readers of my blog the opportunity to explore Conversations_FinalKate’s blog – Sweet Success: My Life with Type 2 Diabetes.

To read Type 1/Type 2 Conversations: Diabetes in the Great Outdoors, click here.  Besides an interesting discussion, you’ll find a couple of goofy fishing photos that prove that old ladies women with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can catch equally big fish wearing floppy hats.

Type 1/Type 2 Conversations: Talking about Weight

Conversations BannerI first metKate Cornell in early 2013 when I began listening to the podcast archives of DSMA Live.  Her February 2012 interview introduced me to a woman who knew an incredible amount about diabetes and was well-spoken and passionate.  As I began to follow her blog, SWEET SUCCESS: MY LIFE WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES, and read her comments around the diabetes online community (DOC), I found myself thinking that her opinions mirrored many of my own thoughts about diabetes and life in general. The fact that I have Type 1 diabetes and Kate has Type 2 diabetes just didnt seem to make any difference.

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Kate and I recently came up with the idea of collaborating on a series of four blogposts in which we will initiate a dialogue on issues that affect people in the diabetes community.  We expect to learn a lot from each other and we hope that our Type 1/Type 2 Conversations will lead to more communication and mutual respect between people with all types of diabetes.

Laddie_Head SquareLaddie:  For the first Type 1/Type 2 conversation, I figured that I wouldn’t shy away from a difficult topic:  Weight.  Weight is the elephant in the room in most discussions and arguments between people with Type 1 diabetes and those with Type 2.  Weight is synonymous with blame, guilt, and ignorance.

Many people with Type 1 diabetes are thin and some of us were almost skeletal when we received our diabetes diagnosis.  When you have Type 1, it is easy to associate being thin with “Not My Fault.”  If you become comfortable in this thought process, the next logical step is to become comfortable with the stereotype of Overweight = Type 2 = Their Fault.

A long time ago I learned to stay out of the Type 1/Type 2 wars and keep my mouth shut.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t believe a lot of the stereotypes.  I’m not going to be virtuous now and say that I have totally seen the light.  No, I’m going to say that I just dont know.

In recent years I have read a lot of research that indicates that Type 1 and Type 2 are just different manifestations of inflammation and autoimmunity gone astray.  Maybe just a flip of the coin made me Type 1 instead of Type 2.  I have a friend who was diagnosed with Type 2 several years ago.  She has always struggled with her weight.  She and her husband go on the same diet.  He loses twenty pounds and she loses one.  She wonders whether the abnormalities of metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes are responsible for her weight problems, not the result of her weight problems.  She might be right.

I am very thankful that except for an occasional extra five or ten pounds, I have never struggled with being overweight.  In my many years participating in the DOC, I have learned to be less judgmental and I have gained more understanding of the issues that those with the “other kind” of diabetes face.  In the last two years I have gained 5 pounds that I have been trying to lose.  I’ve had no success.  Do I think that it would be easy to lose 50 pounds or 100 pounds.  No way.  I can’t even lose 5 pounds.

Many people with Type 2 diabetes struggle with weight.  Many people without diabetes struggle with weight.  Many people with Type 1 diabetes struggle with weight.  When I read the definition of weight in my dictionary app, I only see that weight can be measured in things like mass, thickness, gravity, and load.  I don’t see judgment.  I don’t see criticism.  I don’t see blame.  We can learn something from that.

Kate_photo_RKate:  The subject of weight and diabetes is certainly a good place to start our conversations. Laddie hasn’t shied away from what is usually a very controversial subject.  Our society is obsessed with weight: how to lose it, how to remain pencil thin and blaming those who carry too much.

I have struggled with excess weight for most of my adult life.  I was a thin child and teenager.  I married at 20 and once I began having children, the weight just crept up.  I always thought it was because of the pregnancies and my inability to take off the “baby weight”.  Whatever the reason, it was difficult to lose.  Fast forward to my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes at age 50 and cue the guilt.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve spouted, quite often, about how our type 2 dxs aren’t our fault; the guilt is still there.  “If I had just lost weight earlier.” “If I’d just worked a little harder.”  It’s easy to blame ourselves.  Here’s the thing: diabetes, regardless of type, is NOT the patient’s fault!  Yes, those of us with type 2 are often overweight or obese, but so are millions of other people and they don’t have diabetes.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that when the media is waving the fat shaming in our face.

I was diagnosed nine years ago this summer.  I have educated myself and made some significant changes to my diet and lifestyle.  (That doesn’t mean I’m always perfect.  Far from it.)  I did manage to lose some weight early on, but things have changed in the last year. Even though I now eat very few processed carbs and more veggies; even though I exercise for 30 minutes nearly every day, I am gaining weight.  It could be due to a myriad of hormone issues: thyroid, female, insulin…but in the end it doesn’t matter what Weight_2the reason is for my inability to take the weight off.  I’m trying as hard as I can and it won’t budge.  Is that my fault?  I don’t think so.

Many people with type 1 are weary of being told that “if you lost a bit of weight you could probably get rid of your diabetes.”  Guess what, so are those of us with type 2.  The myths that revolve around diabetes and too much sugar, too little exercise, too many pounds are just that – myths.  No matter what the diabetes type, none of us did this to ourselves.  None of us asked for this disease.  Quite a few of us, with diabetes and without, could benefit from losing weight, so why does society and the media vilify those with type 2 diabetes for needing to lose pounds?

Yes, I used to love to eat pizza.  Yes, I used to take a donut from the box in the break room at work.  Yes, I ate fast food and processed foods.  Yes, I used to eat bread.  Yes, I bought into the travesty that was the Food Pyramid.  Yes, I have type 2 diabetes.  Other than the diagnosis, how am I much different than the majority of Americans?

Laddie_Head SquareLaddie:  I have learned enough about Type 2 diabetes not to blame the individual.  I don’t think that there is a magic formula to becoming overweight and I certainly don’t think that being thin is a virtue, although popular media often tries to convince us otherwise.  I do know that when I gain unwanted pounds, I feel sluggish, frustrated, and full of guilt for my perceived weakness.

I blame society for much of the increase in average weight of our population.  Many people, unfortunately including a lot of children, lead a much less active life than did their parents and grandparents at the same age.  Too much TV and video game time has turned many of us into couch potatoes.  Many children live in environments where it is not safe to walk to school or play outside unsupervised.

Bad food is everywhere and often is less expensive than quality food.  I believe that carbs are wonderfully delicious and highly addictive.  More than once I have admitted to being incapable of eating carbs in moderation.  No chocolate chip cookies is easier for me that just one chocolate chip cookie.  No chocolate-covered donuts is easier for me than just one chocolate-covered donut.  No potato chips is easier than just one.  Also we are starting to see studies that indicate that the ubiquitous low fat heart-healthy diet is in fact responsible for making us heavier and less healthy.

As Kate mentions, there are many people who are overweight but don’t have Type 2 diabetes.  Weight is one trigger for Type 2 and we need more knowledge about the other triggers.  We read statistics on the huge increase in the number of people with Type 2 and the increasingly younger ages at which it is showing up.  But interestingly enough, the incidence of Type 1 is also increasing.  There is a lot of bad stuff going on in our environment.  Let’s dedicate ourselves to looking for answers rather than slinging blame on those who need our respect and support.

Kate_photo_RKate:  Laddie and I are on the same page when it comes to unhealthy carbs being addictive.  I am also someone who is better off having none rather than a “reasonable portion”.  It’s difficult to deny yourself things that are soooo good, but it’s important that we remember to put our health first and fleeting pleasure second, at least the majority of the time.

I believe that our society puts too much focus on weight and not enough focus on health.  As someone who has thought about weight my entire adult life I feel that it would be easier to make healthy changes if we were told that our diet needed to change for health reasons and stop focusing on losing weight.  Being told that you need to lose weight when it’s obviously something that doesn’t come easily is daunting, at best.  Being told that certain foods are bad for your health might make it easier to give them up.  I’m constantly reading on reputable websites (and the blasted media) that “if people with type 2 would lose a few pounds, their diabetes would be easier to control (or worse, go away!)”.  I would rather hear that we need to stop eating unhealthy foods and be told to begin a healthier lifestyle.  If we did that then the weight loss should naturally follow.  So many “diabetes-friendly recipes” (I abhor that term) continue to focus on carbs rather than weaning us from things that cause our blood sugars to spike.  There is also a movement in the medical community toward thinking that maybe the diabetes is to blame for the weight gain and not the other way around, in people with type 2.  Dr. Peter Attia’s TedTalks video outlines that very topic quite well.

In the end, everyone, regardless of diabetes dx, would benefit from a healthier lifestyle.  Everyone would profit from less focus on weight.  I’d love to see less finger-pointing and more camaraderie and understanding.  A united diabetes front will do more good for all and possibly begin to swing the tide back to more understanding of our diseases.

Laddie_Head SquareLaddie:  Kate and I covered a lot of ground in our first Type 1/Type 2 Conversation.  Weight is not always easy to talk about, but we managed to share our thoughts and hopefully learn a thing or two from each other.

I believe that we shouldn’t shy away from difficult topics in the diabetes online community.  At the same time we need to work to be respectful and supportive of each other.  If I ever write anything insensitive, hurtful, or just plain wrong, I hope that Kate or someone else in the DOC will call me on it.  Just be nice about it and I promise that I will learn from you.  And I will apologize.  And I will be a better person for it.

Kate has chosen the topic for our second Type 1/Type 2 Conversation which will be published next Tuesday, July 15.  Rumor is that it contains some fishing photos…. I hope you’ll join us.

Stay Tuned

Laddie_Head SquareStarting next Tuesday, July 8, Kate Cornell of Sweet Success: My Life with Type 2 Diabetes and I will be publishing a series of collaborative blogposts titled Type 1/Type 2 Conversations.  Each week we will select a topic related to diabetes and share our views in a back-and-forth discussion.  Because I have Type 1 diabetes and Kate has Type 2 diabetes, we expect that we may agree on many things and at the same time run into a few areas where we have completely different experiences and viewpoints.

The aim of these conversations is not to come to a consensus on a given topic or decide who is right and who is wrong.  Our purpose is to communicate and talk about these issues.  Both Kate and I believe that a strong diabetes community needs to reflect the voices of people with all types of diabetes and all experiences with diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, LADA, parents, and so on.  We do not have to be the same in order to respect and support each other.  In fact we are stronger because of our diversity.  So let’s talk to each other and let’s learn from each other.

The first topic that we are tackling is often a difficult one in the diabetes world.  Please join us next Tuesday as we talk about Weight.

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