Monday, May 2, 2016

How Deeply Rooted Connections Helped Me After #HealtheVoices16

In April I was given the privilege of joining about 100 online health advocates in Chicago for Health eVoices 2016. This event was sponsored by Janseen (see disclaimer below), but it was all about the advocates.  In the short time we were there I learned so much about conditions such as MS, Crohn's, HIV, and RA. I do want to post about the actual conference, but first I want to write about how "deeply rooted connections" affected me afterwards.

The conference was April 15-17, 2016 (Friday-Sunday). I actually arrived on Thursday, April 14 for a Type 2 diabetes summit called 2ruth in Numbers (more about that in another post as well). On Saturday morning, my right foot was hurting. I didn't know if I misstepped on a curb or an uneven sidewalk or if it was just from standing a lot. I'm a first grade teacher, so standing all day is normal for me. This was different than the "normal" pain I experience. I thought it wasn't anything much, so I just kept on going. However the pain continued on Sunday.

Back to work on Monday and the pain was getting worse. After dismissing my students, I decided to call the doctor's office to see if by chance there was an opening. Although my primary care physician didn't have an opening, the nurse practitioner did. I told them I was on my way. To rule out a possible stress fracture, x-rays were ordered. Unfortunately I had to wait two days for the result because of the nurse practitioner's schedule. The call came in on Wednesday. No break though I showed signs of "mild degenerative changes." HUH? What's that? I asked the nurse to consult with my primary care doctor to see if this was something normal for someone my age, then hit Google while I waited for my doctor's nurse to call back.

She confirmed what Google had already told me. I have arthritis in my right foot. It's very possible it's in my left foot as well. Not something a first grade teacher who is constantly on her feet wants to hear. Nor a person with Type 2 diabetes who uses walking as her primary form of exercise. However this is where those deeply rooted connections came into play.

The first person I contacted was my new friend, Rick, who blogs at RADiabetes. Rick has Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. He had read my blog and waited for me after a conference session to introduce himself. What a great advocate and resource he is! Of course he was the first one I thought of when the nurse told me I have arthritis. I knew he'd be one to have some answers for me. Of course he didn't disappoint! Thank you, Rick, for the resources you provided! I still need to spend time looking at what you sent, but I promise I will!

I went to Health eVoices with the goal of becoming a better advocate. I walked away with connections for not just myself, but others who may have questions about other health conditions. Thank you for giving us the chance to network, Janssen! It was an amazing experience!

Disclaimer‬: Janssen Global Services paid for my travel expenses for the conference. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Advocacy with Other Advocates at #HealtheVoices16

As I sit here enjoying a ride to Chicago via Amtrak (and enjoying their free WiFi), I'm reflecting on my journey ahead.

Since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2008 after five runs with gestational diabetes, I've be involved with advocacy in varying degrees. I've raised money through the American Diabetes Association's walks (Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes). I've attended MasterLab for the last two years. I've been actively seeking out issues that need my action in contacting legislators though the American Diabetes Association and Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC). However, this weekend I'll be doing something different. I'll be working on advocacy with people that may not be dealing with diabetes.

There are patient and caregiver advocates for probably every medical and mental health issue. Some are just starting out, but many have been very successful in their advocacy efforts. The pharmaceutical company, Janssen, is bringing together online advocates from various causes to share and collaborate this weekend at a conference called HealtheVoices.  This is happening in Chicago with the forecast of nice weather and new friendships. I'm excited to learn more about what advocates from different areas have accomplished and get tips to make my own advocacy efforts stronger while still keeping balance in my life. Advocacy doesn't have to be a full-time job.

As a prequel of sorts, Janssen is also bringing a group of people with Type 2 diabetes together a day early for an event they're calling 2ruth In Numbers. I have the honor of being included in both groups. This is the first time I've been at this type of event. I was invited last year but was not able to make it due to other obligations. I will be blogging more about this event, so keep an eye out.

I am thankful for this opportunity and thankful to Janssen for inviting me. As my disclaimer below states, they are paying for my expenses related to this trip. However all thoughts and feelings I share about this event are purely my own. (Oh and I also want to thank Amtrak for the free WiFi!)

Disclaimer‬: Janssen Global Services paid for my travel expenses for the conference. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Overlooked Milestone

Last month I passed a milestone that I overlooked. It wasn't huge. Not worth major fanfare or a birthday cake. (Oh how I love birthday cake!) However it is a time of celebration. A time for me to think of what I've accomplished. Last month marked eight years with Type 2 diabetes. 
I was diagnosed in March 2008 which wasn't much of a surprise. I had gestational diabetes with all five of my pregnancies. I have a family history of Type 2. I assumed I'd get it. Unfortunately I got it a couple decades sooner than I was expecting. Getting Type 2 in your 30s isn't something that many people expect. 

There have been ups and downs on my journey with diabetes. There are days of denial. Days of frustration. Days I want to give up. However there are days I feel victorious. Days I embrace my condition. Days I'm thankful for the friends I've made. Friends that were introduced to me by diabetes.

Yes, having diabetes stinks. Ok, honestly it sucks. However I'm thankful to be a part of the diabetes online community (DOC). They are my family and I love them all.

So to anyone celebrating their diaversary in the near future.... CONGRATULATIONS!!! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Logging Challenge with @mySugr

I love gadgets. Honestly. I love my cell phone, kindle, laptop, and even my glucometer. What's even better than a fun gadget? A fun app to go with it! It makes even sucky things like diabetes a little more fun!

I've been using the logbook app from mySugr for a while now. I love it! It makes logging a lot more fun as I tame my diabetes monster. Even though I'm not on the medication, I've named the little monster Lizard Spit (look up Byetta and you'll understand).

Unfortunately even though I love using this app, I have to admit that I'm not always consistent. Ok, I'm rarely consistent if you want full disclosure here.

It's the New Year! This time of year is full of people making resolutions and goals. I prefer to call them goals, because resolutions have a reputation of lasting a very short time. My goal for 2016 is to take better care of my health. Especially my diabetes. Well the awesome people at mySugr are on board with this, too. They've started a 30 day challenge. Here are the details from their Facebook page:

These three have their New Year’s Resolutions set on the #30DLogging Challenge! Will you join them? The boss is giving...
Posted by mySugr on Monday, December 28, 2015


Watch the video, check out their site, download the app, and join the challenge!

What are you going to name YOUR monster?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Grief, Illness, Denial, and Diabetes

The last few months has been a physical and emotional rollercoaster for me. With everything that's been going on, it's been hard to keep track of my diabetes. One way to help me get back on track with my diabetes management is to examine what's been going on with my life: grief, illness, denial, and diabetes.

At the end of September, we lost a great man in our family - my father-in-law. My husband and I started dating in high school, so this man had been part of my life for almost 30 years. He saw me grow from a 16 year old with a crush on his oldest son into the confident mother of five and educator that I am today. He wasn't a man of many words, but he had a way to let you know how he felt. I know he was proud of all of his children and grandchildren. He will be dearly missed. (My father-in-law did have Type 2 diabetes as well as several other medical conditions. The blue candle is for him.)

I've also been dealing with one cold virus after another since early November. I've had two rounds of antibiotics and three bottles of prescription cough syrup. This last round also included pain medicine for pulled muscles around my ribs due to coughing. At this point I only have a slight cough, minor case of the sniffles, and one area of pain remaining from the pulled muscle.

Denial? Yeah, that leads into the last word - diabetes. I've been so busy dealing with grief and illness that I haven't been paying attention to my diabetes. I've tested here and there. I've tried to eat right, but honestly comfort eating during the last three months has taken over my focus from diabetes management. I've overall neglected my diabetes, which honestly may have prolonged my recovery from the various little bugs going around.

So what do I do now?

Grief: I'm going to forever miss my father-in-law, but the pain won't sting as much as time goes on. Yes, every once in a while it hits and I find tears flowing without my consent. However my belief says that his is in heaven waiting for us. In the meantime, we have a purpose here on earth.

Illness: I'm trying to make sure to take care of myself. It's hard to get rest over the holidays, especially when entertaining. However I now have a few days to rest and relax before school starts again next week. There is grading and lesson planning to do, but I can do a little at a time this week. Tomorrow I'll be getting some dental work done, so I'll be relaxing in the afternoon.

Denial: I can't deny that I need to take care of myself while I take care of those around me.

Diabetes: Yup, that's still here even though I ignored it for the most part over the last three months. Comfort eating is understandable during times of illness and grief, however it needs to be controlled.

Why do I share this in such a public way? Because I know I'm not the only one dealing with these emotions. I know I'm not the only one. The DOC (diabetes online community) includes people with all types of diabetes as well as their loved ones. We are here to love and support each other. Yes, I need support, but I also hope that in some way my words will be an encouragement to others during their tough times. It's been a tough year (I also found out that my minivan needs some expensive repairs this week. Ugh!), but I have hope for the future.

I'm not going to pretend that everything is perfect because it's not. However I know with the support of others and my own personal beliefs, I can get through this. I'm going to be ok. So are you!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Tribe

In September, I met up with some awesome people to raise money for the American Diabetes Association Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes. It's hard to explain the connection I have with these people. Bea, Anna, and Mike are three amazing people with diabetes. I've only met Anna previously. I was lucky to have met her at MasterLab. Bea and Mike are two that I had only known online. However that didn't stop the hugs and laughter, as if we had been face to face friends for years.

Sue, Bea, Anna, & Mike
Every time I meet up with others who have diabetes, even if I've never talked to them before, it's like an instant connection. Some call it our tribe. It doesn't matter what type we have. There's a connection there. We talk about carbs, lows, highs, exercise, and insulin. Even though we all manage our diabetes differently, we still have common ground that makes us a part of a family. At the moment of diagnosis, we are welcomed into this amazing family that, to be honest, no one wanted to join. Even though none of us wanted to join this tribe, we're ever so grateful to have each other.

Taking a picture with Little G and Pancreas

Our team. 
Next year it will be bigger. 
Let me know if you'd like to join us, either in person or as a virtual walker!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Type No Type

(C) Diabetes Ramblings
There are times in diabetes advocacy that it feels like we're fighting ourselves. "That's the other kind of diabetes" should not ever come between us and diabetes advocacy.

During last month's MasterLab, I heard several times the sentiment that we need to put the "types" aside and focus on *everyone* with diabetes.

We need to take that energy that is wasted in arguing amongst ourselves and channel it in helpful ways. 

We need to work together for better access to the treatment and supplies each of us needs to manage our diabetes. Even people with the same type have different needs. I may only need a glucose meter at this time, but my mom needs a meter and medication. We both have Type 2, but our needs are different. 

Even if we get the tools we need, like a glucose meter, we may not receive necessary supplies to go with it. Giving someone only one test strip per day does not give him/her the ability to adequately use that meter for diabetes management. 

When my doctor prescribes what I need to manage my diabetes, the insurance company shouldn't be asking what type I am. They only need to know that I have diabetes and this is what I need to manage my disease. Why shouldn't a Type 2 diet and exercise controlled elementary school teacher who can't stop to test while teaching six and seven year old children receive a CGM (continuous glucose monitor)?

Since each person's diabetes management is unique, it really doesn't matter what type the person is when determining what is needed for successful diabetes management. Let's look at the person and the needs, not the type. This is not a one size fits all disease. Not for diet, not for test strips, not for medication. 

To borrow from a made for TV movie, "We're all in this together!"

Thank you to Mike at My Diabetic Heart for designing this No Type image and Lizmari at The Angry Type 2 Diabetic for artistic input.