Thursday, September 7, 2017

Chronic Illness and Mental Health…

Mindy is one of those friends who I met online first and immediately became a big fan.  She is smart and kind and shares thoughts and emotions courageously.  And after meeting her in real life, I found out my opinions of her were spot on.  Today I’m happy to host her here, as she tells you about her latest awesome project!

Bartleson PhotoI’ve been involved in the diabetes online community for a long time now, and I’ve been involved in the diabetes community in general since I was diagnosed when I was seven years old. When I graduated college and had more time and energy, I got more involved in the diabetes community. After getting more involved, I felt like something was missing. This was when I decided to take on a project.

Two years ago, I started the journey of writing a book about coming of age with chronic illness and mental health. My goal was to finish all of the content before I turned 24 so that rose-colored glasses wouldn’t impact how I looked at my experiences too much. I was able to meet this goal last fall!

I kept hearing the message of “you can do it!” I totally agree that yes, you can do it- whether it is living life with a chronic illness, getting through a life altering event, or even surviving the teen years. But I don’t hear the acknowledgment of “you can do it, but it might suck.” That’s what was missing. It’s hard to hear the world say you can do it even when you know you can without the acknowledgment that maybe it’s hard, annoying, costly, or whatever emotion you associate with it- including “it sucks.”

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I wanted to balance the positive and the negative of not just chronic illness and mental health, but also life. I started to do this more with my blog more after my first extreme run-in with diabetes burnout my junior year of college. I realized I wasn’t just lying to the rest of the world about what could be negative about diabetes, but I was also lying to myself. My goal is to be honest about the positive and the negative throughout the book.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but to be perfectly honest, I never saw myself writing this type of book. I never thought I’d write about growing up with type 1 diabetes, PCOS, endometriosis, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, loss, and a few other things, but that’s what I did. I’ve decided to pursue self-publishing and am using crowdfunding to make this happen!


Mindy is self-publishing an honest book about growing up with chronic illness and mental health. She wrote the content before rose colored glasses impacted her experiences too much. To help this book get published, you can visit the crowdfunding page to learn more, back her project, and help spread the word. You can also follow Mindy on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and her blog “There’s More to the Story”.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Stars Aligned….

What do you call it when a whole bunch of great things happen on one day?  When the stars seem to have aligned for one perfect moment?  When more good happens than you could ever imagine?  Well, I called it Friday, September 1st.

To start off, it was my husband’s birthday.  And the start of a three day weekend.  So that right there makes it a pretty good day.

It was also my first day at my new job!!!  I’m so excited to share that I’ve joined the DiabetesSisters staff as their new Program Manager!  For the past several years I’ve loved volunteering with Virtual PODS and I could not be more thrilled to officially join the team.  For more on what I’ll be doing, check out this press release that was shared today.

It’s hard to imagine one single day could get more exciting, but it actually did.  Because late on Friday, UPS dropped off all of this….
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670G Hybrid Closed Loop, here I come!!  So far I’ve set up my basal and bolus settings and started reading the training manuals.  I’ll start using it in manual mode next week after my first training session.  And if all goes well, a week later I’ll be ready to try auto-mode and let the closed loop start doing its thing.

I can’t even convey how excited and lucky and grateful I was (and continue to be) that the stars aligned on Friday and delivered one super spectacular day to me.  And I’m so looking forward to these new adventures I’m starting.

** My Medtronic disclosure can be found here. **

Monday, July 10, 2017

Running On Autopilot.......

“autopilot”Usually when I can do something on autopilot it’s a good thing.  It means it has become a part of my routine and I can quickly get the chore done without investing too much brainpower.

But sometimes?  Sometimes running on autopilot doesn’t work so well.  Like this morning when I did my site change.  I estimate that I’ve done well over 1,200 site changes in my years of pumping, so I most certainly run on autopilot when I do them.  Remove the old site.  Rewind the pump.  Disinfect both my skin and the insulin bottle.  Fill the new reservoir.  Tap out the bubbles.  Connect the tubing.  Prime and confirm that I see drops of insulin at the end of the needle.  Remove needle guard.  Insert site.

Oops!!  That’s right, I missed a step.  PEEL BACKING OFF OF ADHESIVE!!!  My fresh new site immediately fell out because I didn’t expose the “glue” that keeps it stuck to me for the next three days.

Just because I’ve done something more than 1,200 times doesn’t mean I shouldn’t continue to pay closer attention during the next 1,200 times.  Because autopilot apparently doesn’t always work out so well…..

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Eighth Annual #DBlogWeek Wrap Up...

200x200I'm a bit late with this year's Diabetes Blog Week wrap up, but I wanted to make sure we capped things off.  And better late than never, right?

This year we had 114 bloggers officially signed up.  That makes this year the smallest #DBlogWeek, but we certainly made up for it with extra enthusiasm.  There are over 350 wonderful blog posts on last week's link lists.  Did you forget to add yours?  Or did you fall behind but still want to tackle the prompts?  Don’t worry, the lists will remain open until the first weekend in June so you can add your post.  After that, the lists will officially close to new entries, but they will remain on-line for future reference.

This wrap up wouldn't be complete without a huge THANK YOU to all of you!  I’m so grateful to everyone who blogged, read posts, tweeted, Facebooked, left comments and lurked with us once again for DBlogWeek.  You are what make #DBlogWeek happen and I’m more thankful than you know.  Honestly, it didn't bother me one bit that our participation was smaller this year, because we are still mighty!  And I'm definitely not ruling out the possibility of a Ninth Diabetes Blog Week next year!!

Friday, May 19, 2017

More Than Diabetes- #DBlogWeek Day 5

Time to wrap up another Diabetes Blog Week already?  I’m afraid it is, as we’ve reached our final day of DBlogWeek #8.  I will do one final wrap up post next week to reflect back on the week, but for now let’s get to today’s topic.

200x200[6]Today’s topic is More Than Diabetes. Lets wrap up the week by sharing a little more about ourselves, beyond the chronic illness we or our loved ones live with. Share an interest, hobby, passion, something that is YOU. If you want to explore how it relates to or helps with diabetes you can. Or let it be a part of you that is completely separate from diabetes, because there is more to life than just diabetes! (This topic is a suggestion from the 2016 #DBlogWeek survey.)

I really love the idea of sharing parts of our lives beyond diabetes.  It helps me get to know the people behind the diabetes blogs a little bit better.  So what should I share?  Maybe my love of baking?  The big assortment of home-made cookies I bake each Christmas?
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And how I’m trying to learn how to work with fondant?
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Or I could share where I plan to eat my yummy baked treats…..which is on our new patio.  Because our backyard recently went from this:
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To this!!
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Railings are being installed on the staircase right now.  Lights and plants have been added around the border.  And a patio set has shipped and should be in next week.  Then some fresh white paint and a new fence and we’ll finally have a backyard that we can enjoy.

What?  All the domesticated talk is boring?  Okay, okay.  There is more to me than culinary creations and home improvement.  How about shopping?  Clothes and shoes and purses.  Pinning outfit inspiration boards on Pinterest.  I used to love that show What Not To Wear.  And okay, to be honest, I still watch the reruns every so often.  And hey, did you know I actually met Clinton Kelly in January??
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Yes, I was super nervous and went a bit fan-girl on him.  Yes, I babbled incessantly because my brain slows down and my mouth speeds up when I’m nervous.  Yes, I did make him look at a picture of my cat.  But aside from acting like an idiot, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

So I guess that’s me.  A star struck dork who loves baking and home improvement.  And who is much more than diabetes.

Diabetes Blog Week
You can find more  posts listed here.

What is Diabetes Blog Week? Click here for an explanation and to sign up. You can also check out the Participant’s List here. And don't forget to check out the DBlogWeek Facebook page here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Throwback Thursday: What Brings Me Down - #DBlog Week Day 4

We are flying through #DBlogWeek with only today and tomorrow left to go!  Before I get to today’s post, I want to remind everyone of the Link Lists.  From what I can tell, most of you have been remembering to add your posts each day.  (Thank you for that!!)  It really is the best way for other bloggers (and lurkers) to find what you’ve written each day.  You can find the link list for each prompt right on the Topics Page.  Be sure click over and add your corresponding post to that list, if you haven’t already.  And as always, if you have any questions feel free to email me.  Okay, on to Day 4!!

200x20064We’re going to go back to a past blog week topic from 2014. May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope? (Thanks again to Scott for this 2014 topic.)

*Big sigh*  You know, I hate to say it, but I’m just not sure I have it in me to deal with all the emotional stuff today.  The past two days have been pretty brutal and I’m barely hanging on.  If I really start digging into my emotional black hole, I’m afraid I’ll get swallowed up by it.  And there is a whole tag labeled Depression where I’ve written about what brings me down in the past.  So instead I’m going to jump to the what helps me cope portion of the prompt and talk about What Brings Me Up.

Actually, I can sum it up in one word.  SUPPORT.  Both giving and receiving support is what helps keep me positive and helps get me through.  And to be more specific, here are a bunch of examples:
  • My work as site moderator and research assistant over at DiabetesSistersVoices.
  • Leading the DiabetesSisters Virtual PODS every month.
  • Not just attending the Diabetes Unconference, but more recently acting as one of the facilitators as well.
  • Spending the week with the awesome group of bloggers who have signed on for #DBlogWeek.  (Thank you!!!)  
  • And also spending it with the fantastic people who support us by reading and tweeting and commenting.  (Thank you!!)
  • This cat video.  Seriously you have no idea how much of a boost it brings to my state of mind.
  • Friends who greet me with Good Words every morning.
  • Friends who text to let me know they always have my back.
  • Friends who text about big wieners.  (Sorry for indulging in an inside joke..)
  • Not just blaming my husband for anything and everything, but doing so with a #blamePete hashtag. And having it catch on with both friends and acquaintances.
  • And, saving the best for last, this little noodle cat.
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When all the crap of diabetes really brings me down, I’m so lucky I have all of this to bring me back up.

Diabetes Blog Week
You can find more What Brings Me Down posts listed here.

What is Diabetes Blog Week? Click here for an explanation and to sign up. You can also check out the Participant’s List here. And don't forget to check out the DBlogWeek Facebook page here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Blame Game - #DBlogWeek Day 3

We are halfway through Diabetes Blog Week already!  I wanted to take a minute today to send out a thank you to Stacey Simms for including me on her latest episode of Diabetes Connections.  If you’d like to listen to the episode, you can check it out here.

200x20064On to today’s topic, The Blame Game. Having diabetes often makes a visit to the doctor a dreaded experience, as there is invariably bad news of one kind or another. And sometimes the way the doctor talks to you can leave you feeling like you’re at fault. Or maybe you have a fantastic healthcare team, but have experienced blame and judgement from someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger. Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had. Now, the game part. Let’s turn this around. If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself? Let’s help teach people how to support us, rather than blame us! (Thank you, Brian, for inspiring this topic.)

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My goodness the world loves to judge and blame, don’t we?  I can write for days on this topic, but instead I think I’ll stick with the one blame that makes me the most angry.  The Complications Blame.

My distant relative had diabetes and had his legs amputated…..but he didn’t take care of himself.

You’d better take good care of yourself or you’ll go blind.

People with uncontrolled diabetes will get complications.

I swear, I feel like if I hear this one more time, I’m going to lose my mind.  I mean, first people with diabetes get blamed for having it, and then get blamed again for having the complications that it brings.  Listen up world - it doesn’t work like that.  Nobody causes their own diabetes.  And nobody causes their own complications.  Our bodies and our condition is to blame.

So here is what that puppet, who is smarter than the general public, would say……

My distant relative had diabetes too.  (Period, end of statement.)

You’d better take good care of yourself.  In fact, we all should take good care of ourselves.  Want to go for a walk together and then go get salads for lunch?

Some people with diabetes will get complications.  And some will not.  And I love you, so I hope you won’t.  But if you do, I’m here for you.

Diabetes Blog Week
You can find more The Blame Game posts listed here.

What is Diabetes Blog Week? Click here for an explanation and to sign up. You can also check out the Participant’s List here. And don't forget to check out the DBlogWeek Facebook page here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Cost of a Chronic Illness - #DBlogWeek Day 2

It’s the second day of  Diabetes Blog Week and we’re off to a great start so far with 105 bloggers signed up.  Please take a look at the Participant’s List and make sure I’ve listed your information correctly.  I double checked every entry but I’m far from perfect so if I’ve made an error please email me and I will fix it right away.  If you’re blogging along with us but haven’t signed up, please do take a quick minute to do so over here.  It helps me keep tabs on how many bloggers are still interested in DBlogWeek and also helps other bloggers find you.

200x200Today’s topic is The Cost of a Chronic Illness. Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly. Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage. So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care. Do you have advice to share? For those outside the US, is cost a concern? Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care? (This topic was inspired by suggestions from Rick and Jen.)

The financial cost of life with diabetes has been a very hot topic lately.  Here in the U.S., costs are rising and the political climate has a lot of us feeling fearful about the future.  I don’t know what will happen and I’m honestly scared.  But on the same token, I know I’ve been very lucky.  I’ve never had to go without my medications.  I’ve always had good insurance.  Things certainly aren’t cheap, but we’ve never had to choose between paying bills or buying food or purchasing diabetes supplies.  I know how lucky and privileged I’ve been so far.

priceiswrong-2400pxSo when I think about the cost of my chronic illness, it isn’t always the dollars I’m thinking of.  Instead, it’s less tangible things.  Diabetes costs me countless hours of sleep treating middle of the night lows or correcting stubborn overnight highs.  I’ve paid with so many tears of frustration when I’ve tried my hardest and things still don’t go well.  It costs me guilt when I see the worry in my husband’s eye or hear the panic in his voice when he’s leaving me a second voicemail and I haven’t answered the phone.  Diabetes charges a lot in energy and brain power just to  keep myself alive.  It has repossessed my nights when plans are cancelled because out of range blood sugars have left me too exhausted to go out.

I know there will be many powerful posts shared today and in the future about the huge financial cost of diabetes.   But life with a chronic illness costs so much more than dollars and cents.

Diabetes Blog Week
You can find more Cost of  a Chronic Illness posts listed here.

What is Diabetes Blog Week? Click here for an explanation and to sign up. You can also check out the Participant’s List here. And don't forget to check out the DBlogWeek Facebook page here.