I can

(Let’s ignore for the moment that my last post was just over 2 months ago and get right to Diabetes Blog Week)

I can.

Several health care professionals (HCPs) really botched my type 1 diabetes diagnosis just over twelve years ago. After those mistakes however, I had several doctors, nurses, and other HCPs who helped to instill in me the perspective that I use to live with type 1 diabetes and I am very thankful for their influences.

When my very first endocrinologist encouraged me to go on the road trip I had already planned with my friends, it planted the seed that diabetes would not stop me from what I wanted to do.

I’ve never felt that there were adventures that I could not have with the right amount of preparation.

I’ve never felt that there were foods I could not eat with the right amount of insulin.

I’ve never felt that there was anything I could not do because of diabetes.

I can because no one has ever told me that I cannot.


In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…” that participants found wonderfully empowering. So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could? Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?

Give where you live

Today is #dblogcheck day. As the diabetes online community grows and changes, I am thankful for the opportunity of days like today to check in with each other and get to meet new friends.

SurfaceFine and so excitedWhen Alecia was here last week for her presentation, and after the Britney Spears concert, we were hanging out and I was sharing some of my favorite stories from some of my other diabetes meet-ups. The oddest thing kept happening though – she didn’t really know any of the people I was talking about. I forget how long I’ve been part of this diabetes online community. I had my first diabetes meet-up almost 8 years ago now! Think of all the marriages, births, and diabetes diagnoses that have happened in eight years!

One of the things that I appreciate most about the diabetes community is the amazing natural diversity we have together. Some of us are amazing artists. Some of us can code a website from scratch. Some people can take a diabetes device and figure out how to get the data from it and into the hands of the people who own it (and their caregivers). Some people can stand on a stage in front of hundred of people and motivate, educate, and entertain. And the best part of the diabetes online community is that it takes every single one of us for all of us to be successful as a community.

I think that is one of the most powerful things about the current marketing campaign taking place here in Nevada. It’s for Nevada’s Big Give and the slogan is “Give Where You Live”. The slogan’s original intent was the idea of giving to charities in your immediate area, but I think it’s bigger than that. I think that we can all GIVE where we LIVE by remembering that we are all important, that we all make a contribution to this community, and that it would not be the same without each and every one of us. We all give where we live by contributing to this community every day that we live with diabetes.

However, if you do happen to LIVE in Nevada, or love someone who does, we would appreciate your support for the Big Give.

Give Where You Live

Online fundraising for Friends and Families of Adults with T1D (the widget will say $0 until Thursday when the Big Give actually takes place, thankfully we are 25% of the way to our goal already!)

Four more

It appears that the last meme I completed was – conveniently enough for THIS meme – four year ago.

s is forFour names people call me other than my real name:

  • Sirah (by extended family members, in reference to the wine)
  • Auntie (but never Aunt)
  • Smalls (college BFF, Sandlot)
  • That’s it. It’s really hard to nickname a name like Sara, so years ago I came up with a rule. If I ever have a daughter, her name has to have a i in it (in case she wants to dot it with a heart in junior high) and it has to be able to be shortened or have a nickname. Silently judging girls names that don’t fit my rules.

Four jobs I’ve had:

  • Nanny/Math tutor
  • 1000 different jobs on my college campus
  • Career Counselor/Assistant Director of Career Development
  • Development Manager (current)

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

Four books I would recommend:

Four places I’ve lived:

  • Upstate New York
  • Southern California
  • South Florida
  • Las Vegas

Three places I’ve visited outside the country + one list of places I’ve enjoyed in the US:

  • England and France (study abroad during college)
  • Israel and Jordan (after graduating)
  • Haiti
  • Denver, Colorado for the millennium; Hawaii; NYC; Spokane, Washington; I actually really just enjoy traveling and don’t care so much about the destination

Four things I prefer not to eat:

  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Sushi
  • Combinations of textures. For example, I love peanuts. I love brownies. But I will not eat a brownie that has peanuts in it.

Four of my favorite foods:

  • The combination of chocolate and peanut butter – particularly peanut butter M&Ms
  • Diet Pepsi (is that a food?)
  • Colby Jack cheese
  • Sweet potatoes

Four TV shows I watch:

  • Scandal (but does anyone else think of Save the Last Dance when Olivia speaks?)
  • One Tree Hill (I have all the episodes on DVD so I watch them for background noise on the weekends)
  • Chicago Fire and Chicago PD
  • Lockup (yes, the MSNBC documentary series, I can’t explain my fascination)

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

  • The painting of my complex to finally be finished (they started it months and months ago but the company messed up the colors and disappeared halfway through. They say they are on “finishing touches” now)
  • Heading to Washington DC for JDRF’s Government Day
  • An awesome wedding in May
  • Finding a fourth thing to look forward to

DST RoseFour things I’m always saying:

  • “But, seriously”
  • “Did you read the post about…”
  • “Rose! Stop!” (I swear that cat does things just to annoy me)
  • “Go team” while tying an imaginary bow with my hands. (Have you ever been in a group meeting that needs to end but no one knows how to end it? Works every time!)

Things that beep

Things that beep at my house (some with multiple tones and volume):
sleeping notBes

  • stove timer
  • microwave
  • Keurig
  • TV
  • Wii
  • Netflix on the Wii
  • iPad
  • Nightscout alarms on the iPad
  • computer
  • alarm clock
  • cell phone
  • multiple BG meters
  • Dexcom receiver high alarm
  • Dexcom receiver low alarm
  • Dexcom receiver under 55 alarm
  • insulin pump in set up mode
  • insulin pump when setting up and delivering a bolus
  • insulin pump when cartridge is low
  • insulin pump when cartridge is empty
  • insulin pump when battery is low
  • *new* insulin pump when CGM value is higher than my set range

sleeping Bes
Things that beep at my house that wake up the cats and make their hair stand on end:

  • the under 55 alarm on the Animas Vibe

Animas Vibe under 55

Animas Vibe: Manuals and videos

It was scheduled to arrive on my birthday last Friday, but my new Animas Vibe actually arrived a day early. I was a bit distracted during the last few hours of work, waiting to update all my settings and start using the pump. I could have switched over the moment it arrived, but I felt like I needed to start with new insulin, a new cartridge, new infusion set, new battery, new everything.

Once I got home, I downloaded the Ping into Diasend to preserve all the BG and dosage history. I got everything transferred over into the new pump, filled it with insulin, and put a new infusion site in. At that point, I should have put the old pump in the shipping box but it was about 30-45 minutes later that I realized I was still delivering insulin with two pumps.

It’s been about four days now so I am still discovering things about the new system. For example, there is a new item in the EZcarb menu that wasn’t there before (“actual” under the carb total) that I actually had to get the manual out to make sure I understood. The one trouble spot in the set up was that I thought the CGM part was not working, but if I had read the manual closer I would have noticed it said it takes about 10-15 minutes to establish the connection.

I’ve got a few friends using Animas Ping pumps who are (for various reasons) waiting for their own Vibes, so the next thing I did was text a few videos of my favorite features. What’s the point of the joy over a new pump if I can’t share it?! I’ve also sent video messages when I change my lancet so it’s not as weird as it sounds.

If you can’t see the video above, click here.

A few other items of note:

I’ve now done the initial cartridge fill and a second cartridge. They were both about 10 units smaller than on the Ping. I can’t really figure out a reason for that.

The CGM on the Vibe seems to be running slightly lower than my separate receiver using the updated 505 software. The directional arrows are consistent though so it is helpful for anticipating treatment decisions. My wrists have been acting up with a little carpel tunnel (hasn’t been this bad since undergrad and that was over a decade ago!) so I’ve been taking a break from my Pebble watch while I’m at home and using the Vibe display for back-up BG viewing.

Bedrooms and roses

The morning after I returned from my first trip to Haiti in 2010, I turned the TV on for background noise as I unpacked my suitcase. As a group, we had spent several hours the night before processing the trip, and the next morning I just wanted some static for distraction.

I can still remember the line from an episode of House Hunters that made me turn off the TV and throw my remote across the room in anger. As in most episodes, a married couple was searching for a house for their expanding family. While they toured the second floor, the wife looked over at her husband and whined, “I don’t want this house; the bedrooms are too close together.”

insulin in haitiI had just come back from a country where people were living in shacks held up with sticks and tarps. A country where you could tell if a child was malnourished by the red tinge of their naturally brown hair. A country where the diabetes supplies in the local clinic amounted to a vial of insulin and a bottle of test strips sitting out on a folding table.

Yesterday I received my new Animas Vibe insulin pump. I have medical insurance that enables me to afford a medical device that costs thousands of dollars and a job that enables me to cover the balance of the costs. I have a butter compartment in my fridge that contains enough insulin that I am not worried about how I will survive the next few weeks or months. I have the luxury of making decisions about my diabetes care, choosing treatment options that aren’t necessarily the cheapest on the market.

I understand my privilege. At the same time, I am not content. I never want to be the type of person who complains about bedrooms being too close together while forgetting that others have no bedrooms at all.

Nine days ago I offered to match up to 24 donations of $10 to Spare a Rose, Save a Child between my diaversary that day and my birthday today. So far, the best I can tell (between comments and Facebook notifications), I am only at $120half of the total match. That amount is the difference between saving the lives of four children for one year and the lives of eight children for one year.

Please consider making a donation today and leaving a comment on this post so I will know how much to match. Tomorrow I will celebrate Valentine’s Day by saving the lives of children around the world. I hope you will join me.

spare a rose save a child

Turning 12 years into 8 years

I don’t know how many people remember how they felt before their first dose of insulin. I do. The exhaustion was overwhelming. By the time I walked across campus to get to class, I was in tears because my legs hurt so much from the short walk. I found myself only wearing shoes that laced onto my feet because the idea of making the extra effort to keep a slip on shoe or sandal on my foot was impossible.

The night I finally arrived in the emergency room, I had also begun to have trouble breathing. I would take a deep gasping breath but it was like my lungs just would not work. The symptom that sent me to seek emergency treatment that night though was my heart. My heart physically hurt. It wasn’t like anything I had felt before or have felt since. It was a deep ache in my chest.

Vegas 2003
What a difference ten days and the availability of life-saving medication makes!

Without insulin, I could not process the food I was eating to use for energy so my body began breaking down my body fat instead. And in that process, my blood and my body became increasing acidic. I was poisoning myself as each hour went by. I needed fluids, insulin, and potassium desperately. That is why my legs were so weak and why my heart had began to hurt.

Having diabetes is painful. We poke our fingers so they bleed. We jam syringes, pen needles, or infusion sets under our skin to deliver insulin. But living without insulin is even more painful. It is something that no child should ever have to experience.

Twelve years ago today I received my first dose of insulin and my life was saved. I am honoring and celebrating that day by making a donation to the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign. This morning I made my first $12 $10 donation on the site.

Between now and my birthday – conveniently enough, the day before Valentine’s Day – I will match up to 20 additional $12 donations up to 24 $10 donations ($12 not an option, changed up the algebra a bit!).  If we complete the match, it will provide a year of life – in test strips or insulin – for 8 children with diabetes.

Please comment on this post once you make your donation so I will know who to thank and how many donations I need to match. Post anonymously if you’d like, but please leave me an email address (not published) when you log in to comment.

Thank you for helping me save children living with diabetes around the world.

Click the logo below to donate
spare a rose save a child

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