Thursday, April 26, 2018

Time with Others to Recharge at #HealtheVoices18

There will be much hugging!
This morning I grabbed my suitcase, my laptop, and headed for the train station. I am on my way to Chicago for HealtheVoices 2018. This is actually my third time attending this conference. I have attended diabetes conferences before, but this one is different. It is not a "diabetes conference." Those attending are online advocates from so many different medical conditions. It's overwhelming and awe-inspiring at the same time

I am honored to have been selected again this year. There are so many people who apply. I learn so much during this conference about others and their conditions, but I also learn more about myself.

I learn about my supportive level toward others. I learn how to take care of myself - not just my medical conditions, but also me as a person. I learn how I can support others. I learn to ask for help.

Over the next four days I will be surrounded by a type of love and acceptance that is like nothing I've ever experienced anywhere else. That is not to say that I am not loved and accepted in other parts of my life. I definitely am! This is different though. This weekend I won't have to explain what's going on. If I'm hurting, I don't have to explain why. If my blood sugar is out of whack, I won't have people patrolling my food choices or activity level. It is understood that I am the expert of me and my conditions.

This is my time to renew and recharge with others who get it, even if their condition is different than mine. This is my time. This is my tribe!

Disclaimer: Janssen covered my travel expenses to attend #HealtheVoices18. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

In Sickness and In Health

Over 25 years ago, my husband and I made vows before God, family, and friends to be devoted to each other "until death do us part." Another part of our vows included the words "in sickness and in health." We've each had our share of colds, flu, stomach bugs, etc. He's cared for me when I had my gall bladder out and after childbirth. In turn, I have cared for him after surgery and other illnesses.  Most of our "sicknesses" have been different and separate. Until now...

This past week my husband was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. We knew it was a possibility. After all I have the diabetic cooties... Umm, just joking. Actually his father had Type 2 diabetes. Knowing the strong genetic factor for Type 2, we have prepared ourselves for this possibility.  We're not happy about the diagnosis, obviously, but we weren't blindsided either.

How are we dealing with diabetes as a couple? So far it isn't any different from when only one of us had diabetes. We've always been supportive and encouraging of each other. I don't know everything going on in his mind about this. My husband is a pretty quiet guy. You won't see him blogging or at advocacy conferences. If you do see him, you will see an intellectual man who is doing his best to take care of himself and his family.

As a person who has lived with diabetes for almost 10 years and is involved in education and advocacy, the hardest part so far is not telling my husband what to do. His diabetes is *his* diabetes. It's not mine. I'm his wife, his partner, his cheering section - I am not his physician, his dietician, his keeper. We learned about his diagnosis only a few days ago, so it will take us time to figure this out. I do know one thing for sure. We will figure it out together!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November 1 - #MakeDiabetesVisible

My friend, Mike Durbin, had an idea (he wrote this yesterday, October 31)...

#MakeDiabetesVisible Photo Challenge 
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and it begins tomorrow. During the next 30 days, I will be posting at least 1 photo a day that captures part of my life with diabetes. The goal is to make diabetes visible and show what it is like to live with ALL types of diabetes. The highs, the lows, the finger sticks, the meters, the pumps, the CGMs, the insulins, the pills, etc...  
I invite all of my friends living with any type of diabetes to join me in this challenge. 30 days, 30 photos, ALL types of diabetes. Any social media platform. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. Please share, use the hashtag, and let's #MakeDiabetesVisible
 So here is my November 1st contribution:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Working with Other Online Health Advocates

Last year, I met Josh Robbins at HealtheVoices 2016. This was an amazing time where Jansen brought advocates from various mental and physical health areas together to collaborate and network. Even though Josh and HIV and I have Type 2 diabetes, we found that we had a lot in common. Both conditions deal with a lot of stigma and misinformation. I consider myself an educated woman, but that weekend I learned so much about HIV and changed my views about so much.

I was a teen in the 1980s, when the HIV scare was high. The media and uneducated people spread so much misinformation that I thought was true. Twenty years later, Josh and other HIV advocates have set me straight with loving, caring words meant to enlighten and not condemn. I learned even more during HealtheVoices 2017.

The desire to educate along with my desire to be educated helped to form some pretty tight friendships. Those who I have gotten to know have not just become connections that I can refer friends to; they have become my friends as well.

Recently Josh presented at TedX in Nashville, talking about the importance of social media as a means of support. During his presentation, he mentioned some advocates from areas outside HIV. I was honored to be the diabetes advocate that he mentioned. Even though he couldn't pronounce my last name (RARE-ick-ah), the gesture was not taken lightly. I am honored and humbled to have been mentioned by Josh, an amazing man, advocate, and friend. Thank you, Josh!

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Blame Game

This is my third in a series of posts for Diabetes Blog Week 2017.

The Blame Game, huh? That's one of the prompts for D-Blog Week. Oh such a loaded topic. People with diabetes being blamed for their illness? Really?


Hey, I have Type 2 diabetes - the ultimate blame game is here! Society is convinced that we are nothing more than lazy overeaters that deserve our fate. Never mind the overwhelming evidence that it's more about genetics than if I ate a Twinkie last week.

Ummm... I don't like Twinkies, but Snickers.... oh off topic...

Yes, there are ways to lessen the risk of Type 2 diabetes through proper eating habits and regular exercise. However this lessens the risk. It does not prevent the possibility. Sometimes genetics bites you in the back side. 

Please don't blame anyone living with any critical illness. No one in their right mind would intentionally cause this for themselves. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Cost of a Chronic Illness

This is my second in a series of posts for Diabetes Blog Week 2017.

Today's topic is the cost of chronic illness. This is an awkward topic for me to speak of since I'm not using medication or insulin as part of my diabetes management, which is what most people think about when discussing the cost of diabetes. However, there are limitations in my care that are financially driven.

For example, many people with Type 2 diabetes are limited on the number of test strips they are allowed to get through insurance, if they're allowed any at all. My mom is only allowed two per day. At this time, I have a prescription of four per day. This was my requested number shortly after my diagnosis. Originally my doctor didn't think I needed any. (What?) However after much thought on my part, I called asking for test strips using our upcoming vacation as an excuse. Should I even have to ask for test strips? Should I have to use a vacation as an excuse? Why do I feel hesitant to ask for more? (I'd like at least six so I can test before an after every meal.) Do I fear being judged or turned down, either by my doctor or insurance?

What about a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)? Why can't everyone with diabetes get one? It's obvious the more data someone has about how their body reacts to various foods and activities then better that person can manage glucose levels.Why is it if a person's body still produces some insulin, whether it's not enough or just not using it properly, insurance will deny coverage for a CGM? Oh yeah, the cost. They don't think the benefits outweigh the cost.

Let's forget for a moment the financial cost of diabetes. What about my personal cost? Not being able to enjoy certain foods with my family? Avoiding making pancakes for my kids because I love them so much but they raise my blood sugar even more (even if I only eat 2-3)? Having to stop working in the garden with my family or helping my kids clean their rooms because my blood sugar is low? Does anyone consider those costs?

The cost of living with a chronic illness isn't just a hit to the pocketbook.