Wednesday, April 29, 2015

#IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes . . . .

Last week while I was sick I missed out on #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes Day, an initiative organized by Kelly.  So in “better late than never” style I wanted to jump in now.

My perspective on this is due in part to my participation in the Health E Voices conference a couple of weekends ago.  The conference brought together people from a variety of different health communities, including rheumatoid arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, lupus, HIV, mental health,  different types of cancer and more.  How much do you know about any of these conditions?  Are you sure that what you know is actually correct?  I realized that weekend how much I don’t know about other health conditions - even ones that have affected my own family members.  For example, my grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis but I know very little about it other than it made it very hard for her to grip things with her hands and that knitting helped her.

I sat with these people, who are my peers but who live with conditions I know very little about.  And as it turns out, many knew little about diabetes.  So we talked.  We connected.  We respectfully, and somewhat apologetically, admitted to not knowing about each other’s conditions.  And it was okay.  And we shared.  And we learned a lot from each other.  And we realized that although we lived with different health concerns, we had so much in common.  It was pretty magical.

Photo provided by Janssen conference photographer.

 So what do #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes?  I wish people knew that diabetes is not something I expect you to know everything about.  And that much of what you think you know may not be correct.  And that is absolutely okay, because unless you or someone very close to you lives with diabetes there is no reason for you to know the ins and outs.  And that you are more than welcome to ask me, in a respectful and honest manner.  Don’t be embarrassed for not knowing.  Just be open to learning and understand that I (mostly) know what I’m talking about because I’ve lived with diabetes for more than 35 years.  And I’m willing to share my perspective.

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Lost Week . . . .

SickBandWIt’s almost like last week never really happened.  Last Sunday I returned from the Health E Voices conference with a sore throat, which I blamed on my hour spent in the not so clean (and kinda scary) Newark train station.  (I’ll most definitely be sharing more about the conference soon, but I was invited by and my travel and accommodations were paid for by the host, Janssen.)  I often end up with colds when I travel, so I didn’t think much of it.  On Monday I was pretty congested so I spent most of the day resting.  Usually that helps me recover fairly quickly.

This time that wasn’t the case.  By Tuesday I was much worse and had spiked a fever.  As I said,  I often pick up colds when I travel, and I’ve been very susceptible to colds for as long as I can remember, but I almost never have a fever.  I can’t even recall how long ago my last fever was.  So I spent the day in bed.  On Wednesday morning the fever was gone and I felt better so I headed off to a meeting.  Bad idea.  But the afternoon my fever was back and higher than before, and I felt even worse.  I ended staying in bed right through until yesterday, when I finally felt well enough to venture out for a few hours.

The problem is, I missed a lot of stuff while I was sick.  I’m most disappointed about having to cancel my trip to the DiabetesSisters Leadership Institute over the weekend.  I also needed to cancel a few other appointments during the week and I’m now completely behind on Diabetes Blog Week preparations and other general life stuff.  And my house is a wreck (which I hate!!).

So yes, I was Real People Sick <--- click then scroll down  and I was really sad and disappointed to  miss out on a whole bunch of stuff.  But I thought about how I would have felt if I had been Diabetes Sick and had to cancel my entire week.  And you know what?  It would’ve been much worse.  I would have been so angry.  I would have felt like a failure.  Why is that?  Why do I continue to let diabetes get the best of my emotions.  Sick is sick - it shouldn’t matter if my body can’t handle a germy invasion or a diabetes invasion.  But somehow it does, right?  Do you get more upset at being diabetes sick rather than real people sick too?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Green Lancet . . . .

Over the weekend it was finally warm enough to go for a run outside.  Pete and I decided to start training all over again since it had been a really long time since we’d done any running at all.  In fact, I hadn’t run since that terrible 5K knocked away any confidence.  I think I will, in time, do another 5K.  But I have no immediate plan for when that might be.  I’ve decided that for now we can run just to run.  No pressure on distance or speed or being able to do 3 miles without stopping.  A goal can be a great thing to work toward, but sometimes NOT having a goal nagging at me works better because I don’t feel like I’m failing over and over.

Anyway, there we were, huffing and puffing our way through that first training run along our neighborhood route.  As we began a walk segment, Pete said “Hey, did you see that lancet back there?  It was green.  Not the kind you use.”  So, of course, we backtracked and there it was!  (And by the way, major points to the hubby for remembering what kind of lancet I use!)

I don’t know why finding diabetes trash (that isn’t mine) always gives me a little thrill.  I guess it’s because I love finding other people with diabetes.  When I see misplaced d-trash, I wonder who left it behind.  Did I miss them by just a few minutes or by a few days?  Did the lancet fall out of their case during an impromptu blood sugar check because walking made them low?  Did they remember to stash some glucose tablets in their pocket before heading out?  And will our paths ever cross in the future?

One small green lancet can bring up so many questions and emotions . . .

Monday, April 13, 2015

What Would You Like to Write About?

250x250Diabetes Blog Week is just four weeks away, as you can see from the button created by the fabulous Mike Lawson!!  (Thank you, Mike!)  I’m beyond excited that we are doing this for a sixth time.  And since Diabetes Blog Week is for the community, I’d love to gather blog topic suggestions from all of you.  (And yes, it’s also getting harder and harder to think of new topics every year, so I could really use the help!!)

So tell me, what do you think would make a great Diabetes Blog Week topic?  Please try to remember it should be something that would apply to anyone in the community - people with any type of diabetes and their care-givers.  (For example, a topic about insulin might not work because not everyone needs to take insulin.)

Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below, or email them to me at  If your topic idea is used, I’ll be sure to give you credit.  Thanks for helping to make Diabetes Blog Week the best it can be!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Very Long Time . . . .

Nope, this post isn’t about how long my new computer was broken.  (Almost two months, until we finally got Dell to send a tech to our home and he replaced the faulty motherboard and had it up and running in about an hour.  But who’s counting.)  It also isn’t about how long it’s been since my last post.  (Which is, of course, due to being without my laptop.)  This post is about a small but weird thing that happened during my fourth and most recent trip to JDRF Government Day a couple of weeks ago.

Every year, each advocacy volunteer stands up and gives a short introduction.  It takes quite a while because there are hundreds of us in attendance, but I really love it because it helps us connect with each other and it’s inspiring to hear everyone’s stories.

When my turn came around, I stood up and spoke into the microphone.  “I’m Karen Graffeo and I’m the Advocacy Team Chair for the Greater New Haven, Connecticut chapter.  I was diagnosed with Type 1 in . . . . . “  And suddenly, for a brief second, I felt completely thrown.  It seemed like such a very long time since I was diagnosed and I felt the weight of the years crashing over me.  I had to take a slight breath before I could continue with “1979.”.  It all happened in an instant and I’m sure nobody even noticed.  But it really caught me off guard.

1979.  For the most part, that doesn’t bother me.  It is what it is, and I’ve met many people (and there were many in the room that night) with diagnosis dates much earlier than mine.  I’m not sure why it bothered me for that odd moment.  Maybe because, if I really let myself stop and think about it, 1979 certainly is a very long time.

IMG_2974Another new experience this year, I discovered The Summerhouse on a solo trek back from Capital Hill.  It’s very cool and I can’t believe I’ve overlooked it in past years!