Friday, October 5, 2018

Sharing My Story

In July of this year, I was invited to Boston University to discuss Bridging the Chasm between Pregnancy and Women’s Health over the Life Course.  I was invited as a woman who had dealt with gestational diabetes (five times) and currently lives with Type 2 diabetes. I saw a need for education and care about my gestational diabetes beyond the birth of my children.

It is known that women with gestational diabetes have a much greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes. I learned that in my research as a young mother, wanting to be proactive about my health. Yet I wasn't tested until March 2008 for Type 2. This was at my request. It was not the suggestion of my doctor. This was 3.5 years after my fifth child was born. My oldest child was 15 years old. Why had I not been tested before this?

In this picture I'm sharing my "why". Why did I feel the need to be at this conference? I felt the need to give a face to the patient. I was and I am the patient. I want to make a difference, not just for other mothers dealing with gestational diabetes, but also for my children. Some of my daughters may want to be mother. Do they face the same fate?

After my experience, I am now feeling drawn to help women with gestational diabetes to receive the post-natal care that they deserve. Yes, pre-natal care is vital for both mother and child. However mothers also need after care well beyond the birth of their child. Some referred to the time after childbirth as the fourth trimester. Ideally this care would last for the rest of a woman's life. Mothers need to receive healthcare so they can be there for their families.

As a busy mother, wife, and teacher, finding the time and balance to accomplish this is sure to be a feat. I want to step up my advocacy. Raise my voice. Help more people. I don't know how long it will take me to climb this mountain, but I know it starts one step at a time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WEGO Health Awards: Endorse me?

I've been nominated for a WEGO Health Award for my blog. Just getting nominated is such an honor. Now I need endorsements to reach the next level. Please click below and find the button on my nomination page to give me an endorsement.


While you're there, check out the other advocates and categories. Endorse away!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Two T2s Discuss the Freestyle Libre

My dear friend Phyllisa (at Diagnosed Not Defeated) and I were recently together at HealtheVoices18 and discovered that we both were using the Freestyle Libre. We teamed up to give you our opinions on the device.

How long have you been using the Freestyle Libre?
Phyllisa: Since April 2018
Me: December 2017
What do you like about the Freestyle Libre?
Phyllisa:I like the graph charts the most as it gives me detailed information about my blood sugars.
Me: Having the graphs allow me to see how my body reacts to different foods and activities over time. It also helps me understand what my glucose levels do during times when I would be unable to poke my finger.
How has the Libre affected your diabetes management?
Me: As a busy mom and teacher, it’s hard to remember to check my numbers. I love being able to check my blood sugar without the time and hassle of a traditional glucose meter. I can check while teaching without missing a beat. The graphs also help me understand how my body reacts to different foods and activities.
Phyllisa: The libre has had a positive impact on my diabetes management. It allows me to be more in control of my diabetes management and it gives me the opportunity to check my blood sugar multiple times a day, if I want, and not have to worry about the cost of test strips.
How do you explain “that thing on your arm” when asked?
Me: If I’m in a silly mood, I’ll either say it’s a popsocket or that I’m part cyborg. I love seeing their reactions! Most of the time, though, I’ll explain that it’s a glucose sensor and show them how it transmits to the receiver. When my young students ask, I explain that our bodies turn food into a special type of sugar for energy and that sometimes my body doesn’t use that sugar correctly. The Libre helps me determine how much sugar is in my blood.
Phyllisa: Sometimes I say, it’s related to diabetes. Other times I say, it’s a device that communicates with my pancreas. It all depends on how I’m feeling in the moment and who’s asking. I once had a six-year old kid ask and I told her that it was my way of checking in with my pancreas, an organ in my body that isn’t working properly. This device helps me feel like a superhero.
Any comments to others who are interested in trying it? 
Phyllisa: I would check with your insurance company and see if it’s covered fully or how much they will cover. Make sure it is within your budget and it is, then I strongly recommend it. I wouldn’t throw away your glucometers, however. You will need them in between sensors and you may want to compare readings from time to time.
Me: If it’s within your budget, I’d suggest giving it a go. The graphs and ability to test multiple times per day have given me great insight into my own diabetes. Thankfully the Libre also has a spot for test strips so you can test with a finger stick if you don’t feel the same as the reader reports.
If you could suggest any changes to Abbott about the Libre, what would they be?
Me: The adhesive area needs to be a little stronger. My current sensor is loose on one side, requiring the use medical tape to hold it down.
Phyllisa: I would extend the adhesive area because I’ve had two sensors come off because the adhesive stop sticking. I think a wider area would help.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

We Are Not as Strong as We Think We Are

When I was working on my masters degree, I found myself wanting to give up more times than I care to admit. I'd cry. I'd yell. I'd hang my head. My husband and children would encourage me to keep going, but sometimes their words stopped at my ears because I wouldn't let them reach my heart. Music, I found, more than often reaches my heart.

During my undergrad days, I was a huge Rich Mullins fan. He was a Christian artist whose music easily touched my heart. Luckily I still had some of his music from back then and I brought it back into my life as I struggled to balance family, work, and school. "Hold Me, Jesus" was a regular song on my playlist. I would feel as if Jesus himself was wrapping me in a hug, encouraging me.

Some days I felt so weak. I found this song, "We Are Not as Strong". Even though Rich calls it the "Christian break-up song." I felt as though admitting that we're not always strong was reassuring. I needed someone to say that it was ok to feel weak. The song reminds me that I am "beautifully and wonderfully made."  Even though the song was meant to deal with the sadness of a relationship ending, it worked wonders on my heart to let me know that I could make it through the tough times.


Sometimes, however we need more than a song. We need more than a family member or other loved one. We need more than a best friend with a pep talk. Sometimes we need professional help.

This is something I've just realized and admitted to myself. Although I feel like I'm doing an adequate job managing my life with diabetes, I've decided I need some extra help. Today I met with a local dietitian to help with my nutritional needs. I'm also seeing a counselor for my emotional needs. Of course both of these areas have a huge affect on my general health and happiness. This was not an easy thing for me to do. I'm one of those people who does not like asking for help.

Please, if you're ever feeling like you have a little too much weight on your shoulders, admit to yourself that you can't do it alone. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. It's showing how strong you've been for so long and you need to share the load.

We are not as strong as we think we are.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Working on a New Look

Often we go through phases where we feel the need for a new look. Sometimes we might get a new haircut. Other times a new outfit. Well, today it's my blog that got the new look.

With the help of my HealtheVoices friend, Megan Starshak, I have a new logo for Diabetes Ramblings! Megan and I met during HealtheVoices16 and have developed a friendship from there. She was able to take my thoughts and turn them into a beautiful design that I didn't have the artistic or technical skills to create.

I'm so excited and hope you like what we came up with! (Square image here in this post and a banner at the top of my blog.) Thank you again, Megan, for your help and encouragement!

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!