An Amazing Weekend.

I am way overdue in posting this.  I finally had some downtime (see also: being sick.  again.) and figured it was about time I wrote about my time at the Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women conference at the beginning of this month.  This was my third year attending and you can find my posts about previous years here and here.

Like the past conferences, I had a wonderful time.  I don’t think you can find any more solidarity than being surrounded by about 100 other women with diabetes.  It doesn’t get much better than that 🙂  There were sessions about learning to love exercise from the fabulous Ginger Vieira, how to ignite your diabetes power from the legendary Riva Greenberg, information on dietary supplements and how they affect or do not affect diabetes, the down low on diabetes technology from Amy Tenderich of Diabetes Mine, unlocking the secrets of a long, happy life with diabetes, creating better relationships marriages which was a very open, intimate conversation with the likes of Kerri Sparling.  Our keynote speaker for the weekend was Mother Love.  I admit, I didn’t know much about her before meeting her there.  But let me tell you, she is one funny woman.  She also brought to light for all of us how it is important for us to take care of ourselves.  Something that all of the attendees were doing by attending the conference!  There was also the annual Orange Will walk to start the day on Saturday.  It’s always nice to see a group of people walking for a cause.

Something new this year were offsite field trips – one option was a tour of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Teaching Farm in Raleigh and the other option was the Novo Nordisk insulin manufacturing facility in Clayton.  I opted for the Novo Nordisk plant and was so glad I did!  It was phenomenal to see how they manufacture something like insulin, that is a life saving medication used by so many people.  Talk about a high standard of sterility!  It gave me a new appreciation for the people who take their job very seriously to give us that life juice 😉

I honestly think the most valuable thing about this conference is the relationships that are built.  The friendships that are made.  The deep camaraderie that is felt.  The entire weekend concentrates on how to make you better.  How to make your life as a woman with diabetes more manageable.  How to help you feel less alone.  And living with diabetes, who doesn’t need that?

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In case you missed the conference in Raleigh, or live closer to the west coast, there is also a conference coming up in October in San Francisco.  Check it out for more details.

Day Seven of Diabetes Blog Week, 2013.

So it’s officially the last day of Diabetes Blog Week.  I tried really hard to keep up every day but got a bit lost toward the end, resulting in missing two days of posts.  Thank you so much Karen for organizing this event, getting us to put our thinking caps on!

If you want to read all the great posts for all the topics (ya know if you have quite a few hours on your hands!) check out this link: Diabetes Blog Week 2013

I’m actually going to go back a day to Day Six’s topic.

This year Diabetes Art moves up from the Wildcard choices as we all channel our creativity with art in the broadest sense. Do some “traditional” art like drawing, painting, collage or any other craft you enjoy. Or look to the literary arts and perhaps write a d-poem or share and discuss a favorite quote. Groove to some musical arts by sharing a song that inspires you diabetes-wise, reworking some song lyrics with a d-twist, or even writing your own song. Don’t forget dramatic arts too, perhaps you can create a diabetes reality show or play. These are just a starting point today – there are no right or wrong ways to get creative!

Now I don’t consider myself very creative.  I’d say that my favorite form of art is photography.  So many photographs are quite beautiful to take in.  I think a picture can tell a story without the terminology.  It can evoke emotions unlike words sometimes.  And they can portray a wonderful moment in time that you always want to remember.

One of the greatest things about the diabetes online community is that it comes to real life at times.  Those times that I get to spend, in person, with my diabetes friends is invaluable to me.  The support and and camaraderie from everyone out there helps me keep my head straight a lot of the time.  And whenever I can relish those relationships offline, it is always a good time to remember.  The pictures below are from the Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women conference that I attended two weeks ago.  The first is of all the women who attended and bonded that weekend.  The second is of all the attendees who were able to make a visit to the Novo Nordisk plant to see where insulin is manufactured.  These moments for me, are always etched in my heart.

Weekend for Women.

Novo Nordisk Plant.

(photo credit goes to Diabetes Sisters)

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Another order of business that I have been meaning to mention here.  Sanofi is supporting the Diabetes Hands Foundation – when this documentary reaches 10,000 views, they will double their initial $10,000 sponsorship.  It’s a great documentary and I’m hoping you’ll take a few minutes to watch yourself.

Strength in Numbers.

Day Four of Diabetes Blog Week, 2013.

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A day behind but here is my post for day four of Diabetes Blog Week.

We don’t always realize it, but each one of us had come a long way since diabetes first came into our life. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 5 weeks, 5 years or 50 years, you’ve done something outstanding diabetes-wise. So today let’s share the greatest accomplishment you’ve made in terms of dealing with your (or your loved one’s) diabetes. No accomplishment is too big or too small – think about self-acceptance, something you’ve mastered (pump / exercise / diet / etc.), making a tough care decision (finding a new endo or support group / choosing to use or not use a technology / etc.).

I’ve given this topic some thought over the past few days.  So much has changed over the past 31 years, mostly for the better, with accomplishments along the way.  I found it hard to pick just one thing.  The first thing that came to mind was my more recent A1c track record of being under 7%.  Then there is my retinopathy not progressing over the past 18 months.  Or walking about 3 miles with excruciating pain in your legs and numbness in your feet from neuropathy seems like quite an accomplishment at the moment.  Even exercising 4 times in one week can seem like something to be proud of for me.  There are even the graphs of 24 hour no hitters on my Dexcom.  I certainly celebrate all of those!

What I came to realize is that all of these things together is what my accomplishment truly is.  Living with diabetes for 11,452 days and doing pretty well.  Going through the motion of checking BG, dosing insulin, counting carbs multiple times a day, every single day.  Forcing juice down my throat when I feel like I’m going to puke to keep myself alive.  Moving along with my day when my blood sugar is high and all I want to do is drink, pee or sleep.  Keeping up with routine endocrinologist appointments.  CDE appointments.  Eye doctor appointments.  All the other diabetes health related appointments.  Picking up prescriptions every few weeks or month.  Keeping tabs on insurance coverage for said appointments and prescriptions.  And doing all these things for so long without losing my mind.  Even finding happiness between the lines.  Not to mention making tons of great friends along the way.  This is what I have accomplished and it feels pretty darn good.

Day Three of Diabetes Blog Week, 2013.

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Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere…. your or your loved one’s diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share.

Some people are sharing their diagnosis story for today’s topic.  I don’t really remember my diagnosis since I was only 5 (and have a horrible memory!).  Some are sharing stories of scary low or high experiences.  I am blessed to not have any true life or death experiences to share.  Some may be sharing successes worth celebrating or of friendships made worth cherishing.  While I do have some of those, I have a more memorable day relating to diabetes.  I usually focus on the positive and do not like to dwell on the negative.  I hope if you know me, you have picked up on that.  However, the most memorable day in my diabetes world happens to be a very sad one.  The day my father passed away.

Some people may even be sick of hearing about this.  And I apologize if that is true.  But that day, my life changed forever.  Not just because I lost my father.  But also because what caused his death was diabetes.  The very disease that I live with and have had for almost as long as he had.  As much as I remind myself that things were different during his diabetes lifetime.  As much as I tell myself that his tools were very unlike the ones I use today.  As much as I try to focus on my attitude being different than his was.  The fact still remains that diabetes took my father’s life.  Even before he died.  And that will forever be etched in my soul.

Day Two of Diabetes Blog Week, 2013.

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Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so today let’s pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to – a person, an organization, even an object (animate or inanimate) – get creative!! What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change? 

Diabetes is freaking expensive.  Those of us living with it, know that.  Even if you have insurance, it can still be costly.  Insulin, test strips, needles, insulin pump supplies, ketone testing products, Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) Receptor Agonists or Biguanides, adhesive products, lancets, glucose goods, CGM sensors, office visit co pays, the list seems to go on and on.  I have been *extremely* fortunate to have good health insurance both under my parents and since I’ve been working on my own.  I know some people with diabetes who do not have health insurance at all.  And I cannot even imagine the financial burden that can cause.

For about 16% or more of the population in the US that are uninsured and those who have insurance but still carry a hefty bill every month, I would love to start a petition that would establish a statute that provides affordable diabetes supplies to everyone without any restrictions.  I know this would be a tremendously daunting and complex effort.  I know there needs to be money in order to make this happen.  I know some of this could be addressed with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which began in 2010.  But I wish something like this could seriously be implemented.  None of us asked for this disease.  None of us could have avoided having diabetes.  None of us planned for a certain (large) percentage of our earnings to be spent on diabetes.  None of us want to be stuck in a job strictly for the benefits.  None of us want to be told how many times per day we can test our blood sugar.  To live a healthy life with diabetes, there are many tools needed and those tools cost money.  And I wish for so many people that wasn’t such a hardship to them.

Day One of Diabetes Blog Week, 2013.

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Often our health care team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let’s pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved one’s daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don’t see?

My diabetes health care team consists of two people for the most part – my endocrinologist and my diabetes educator (CDE). I am fortunate to consider my relationship with both of them pretty darn good.  I spend more time with my CDE, M,  at each visit (although I hate to admit it’s been a while since I’ve seen her) since we go over in more detail my blood sugar readings, glucose monitor history and other records like food and exercise.  My endo, Dr. K, goes over things with me at more of a high level.  Since M and I do a lot of poking and prodding while together, I feel like she has a true sense of my day to day management.  I also talk more with her about my advocacy efforts, social media involvement included.  With that being said, I think there is something that I would like Dr. K to know.

I’ve started with minor complications.  And this seems to surprise Dr. K.  I’ve only been seeing her for about 2 years.  (I’ve been going to that diabetes practice for about 15 years but Dr. K took over for my old endo when she left for a different practice)  For this reason, she has only really seen the better side of my diabetes management.  When I first began being treated here, I was on MDIs of a sliding scale with an A1c in the 8%-9% range if I had to guess.  Then around 2006, I got much more serious about things and got an insulin pump.  It was ever so slow progress, but over the years since then, there has been improvement in both my A1c and my overall management.  Maybe in her eyes, this is how I’ve always been.  But I haven’t.  I’ve also have diabetes for 31 years.  This is a long time of high and low glucose levels.  Much of that time with higher than desired levels for various reasons.  These things can lead to complications. I’ve seen what can happen through my father.  And I am scared to freaking death of that.  I’m doing everything I possibly can, now, to keep the complications to a minimum.   I sincerely appreciate her goal of keeping my A1c at a desired level, without too many lows, to keep my diabetes health in check.  I’m very glad she realizes the importance of that in this stage of my life.  But I’m not sure why she’s surprised at what has started in my body.   I don’t think she’s ever asked what my diabetes was like all those years ago.  Maybe that would help her put things in better perspective.  Even so, I’m hoping we can continue to work together to keep me alive and my organs healthy for a long, long time.

Best of April ‘Betes.

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Happy May everyone!  (where on earth is this year going??)

So today is the day.  I have the honor of announcing the diabetes blog warriors for the month of April.  I had quite a bit of reading to do in order to pick the warriors!  And some tough decisions to make.  But the pleasure was mine in having to read it all.  This community rocks.  That is all.  Now onto what you’ve all come here to find out 😉

Best Use of Humor – Jacquie

Best Use of Photography – Heidi

Best Advocacy – Reva

Best Reference to a D-Celebrity – George

Best Story of a D Meet-up – Briley

Best non-D Related Post – Jeff

Best Post by a Type 1 – Shannon

Best Post by a Type 2 – Sir Bob

Best Post by a Type Awesome – Moira

Best story of a D-mistake – Katy

Best Motivational Post – Nikki

Best Diabetes Art – Meri

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There were no nominations for Best Vlog, Best Recipe or Best Post by a LADA/ Type 1.5/ Not otherwise specified.

In all honesty, all of these posts were fantastic.  And I got to learn of a few new blogs that I haven’t read much of before.  (time to update the blogroll!) A huge thank you to those who nominated as well as those who had submissions.  Without our stories and participation, our advocacy would not exist!

Scott S.

Kate

Hallie

Lorraine

Diabetes Mine

Dave

Kim

Wil

Christina

Becky

Stephen

Alanna

Christel

Renza

Laura

Bennet

Jess

Sara

Alecia

Scott E.

Brittany

Rachel

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