Friday Five: Rainy Wedding Weekend Edition

Some final tidbits to leave you with for the weekend. This d-blogger was busy this week.


  1. Oh hey, look. You now have an earworm for your Friday afternoon. You’re welcome. When was the last time you did the Zumba routine to that one? You didn’t know there was one?! There is – I don’t recommend doing it in high heels.

  2. Dance injuries have turned into toddler injuries. I spent the better part of two years with a brace around my right wrist due to a routine trick gone horribly wrong. I’m no stranger to these acute aches and pains, so when my left wrist flared up, I just braced it for two weeks, took some Motrin, and re-thought about how I was using the wrist. Two and half weeks went by and the pain was about the same, if not worse on some days. Fine. Off to the doctor. Turns out I have De Quervain’s tenosynovitis – also know as tendons that connect my thumb to my wrist just hurt like hell. My options were splint my thumb for two weeks (nope) or get a cortisone shot and maybe some PT. I opted for the shot, even though cortisone injections do a number on my blood sugars. But, hey, my wrist doesn’t hurt THAT much anymore. (And my blood sugars have remained relatively stable.) I probably got this ailment I can’t pronounce from picking up Bean multiple times and having her writhe around in my arms like a rabid monkey. Here is to healing!

  3. I’m looking for new books to read. I signed up for Audible to keep me entertained on my work trips, plus I needed something else to do besides shop aimlessly on ThredUp. My mom group book club picked “In Real Life: A Novel,” which I blew through in three days. Good, fluffy YA lit which left me wondering if this is how teens actually speak nowadays. (The author is a high school teacher.) I downloaded “The Selfie Vote” based on a discussion from the Pantsuit Politics podcast I listen to on my commute. So, now I just need a good audiobook for my train ride at the end of month. (I read Girl on the Train already.)

  4. Dance wedding extravaganza. What happens when two dancers get married? You have one epic dance party… with pizza! My dance teacher and his fiancee are tying the knot this weekend, which seems to be the only weekend in April that forecasts rain. Maybe we can do an anti-rain dance? We’ll probably have enough people.

  5. If you missed my previous post this week about the #suspendbidding movement, please help me (and others) contact legislators about the harmful nature of Medicare’s competitive bidding system. These are the items I use daily to keep me alive and well. People generally like to see me alive and well. (At least I hope so.)

Happy Friday!


Army of One(derful)

Bean was awake really early this morning, so she enjoyed breakfast at home. (Usually, I pack a few of her favorites and leave them with daycare.) She was finished picking at her meal by the time I came downstairs. I cleaned her up and she played in the living room with Sesame Street (or, ELMO, as she calls it) played in the background.

I sip my (hot) coffee and down my breakfast. The coffee because I had another few wake ups by my Dexcom, indicating I didn’t give nearly enough insulin for the bedtime snack I had. Then, I woke up at 5:30 am to my Dexcom graph sitting around 161 mg/dl, so clearly that correction I gave at midnight was just water. Frustrated knowing that these fasting blood sugars are not acceptable during pregnancy preparation, I issued, yet another correction, along with a pre-bolus for my usual breakfast meal. (One Thomas’ English muffin light with peanut butter – every day.)

Just part of my personal routine in the morning; set along with what I’m going to wear today, going over what I have scheduled for the day, and how soon can I go back to sleep. But I haven’t even started my day and I’m already over it.

Maybe it was just “being a toddler” or maybe Bean sensed I was having a “life with a chronic condition” moment.

Soon, I had this in front of me.

Clearly, Bean has the right idea. I need farm animals protein toys friends and family to pick me back up when my day starts off shattered. And I have them. I don’t always recognize them properly. I should.

The struggle is something I’ve heard echo in the diabetes community. This is my own illness. My battle with my body’s functionality. I am an army of one. Don’t drag other people into this fight because it’s mine and mine only.

But, the battles are easier when you have support. Whether it’s a spouse, parent, friend, or your toddler’s imaginary friends. Sometimes I just need a wonderful reminder.

Take a Look at My Future

A hot topic in the diabetes world is health care: how expensive it is to have a life, let alone remain upright; how we couldn’t get private insurance before the ACA was signed into law; how we still can’t get coverage now that ACA is law; the fire-laced hoops we jump through just to make sure we have have a semi-normal life without going bankrupt by a disease we didn’t want.

I don’t normally jump into advocacy beyond this blog and sharing the latest news on Facebook or Twitter. There are far more influential people with diabetes out there that people will listen to that there is no sense in me trying to add my thoughts to the mix, I think.

But no! That’s the problem! If there is anything I’m learning about this goofy election cycle circus, it’s that I do have a say and a voice, regardless how pint-sized it may be. So whether I have 100 readers or 100,000, someone might hear me and also want to help raise a voice as an advocate.

Here is the current dilemma. At some point in the future, I will retire and need to rely on Medicare for my health insurance needs. (This is all assuming that nothing changes in regard to health care and insurance in the next 30 years.) Medicare currently has a bidding program to determine which and what brands of durable medical equipment it will cover for seniors enrolled in the system. Durable medical equipment typically includes diabetes supplies like test strips, glucose meters, syringes, insulin pumps, etc. – items that help administer the care of a PWD. (Versus a prescription of insulin, which is required to keep a PWD alive.) Like any government agency I can think of, the competitive bidding program was established to find the required durable medical needs at the cheapest possible price, and then having all Medicare patients use those brands only, unless they wanted to pay out of pocket.

The problem arises when taking the cheap way out actually effects the patient’s livelihood, and sometimes can mean more hospital stays or deaths. Let’s take test strips as an example. A person with diabetes will rely on a test strip and glucose meter to give them an accurate picture of where their blood sugar stands at a given moment. Brand A, while more expensive, may have about a 15 point variance in accuracy. Brand B, a cheaper generic brand, may have a 30 to 45 point variance. Both brands are FDA approved. Let’s say my blood sugar is 70 mg/dl – which brand would I prefer to have test my blood sugar? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will argue that Brand B is acceptable. Because it’s cheaper! And saves us money! And the FDA says it’s okay!

Meanwhile, I’m wondering if I need glucose tablets or correction insulin.

Anyway, The Journal of the American Diabetes Association says that the bidding program is doing much more harm than good. (Source – Abstract. Source – Full Text [requires log in] / Other Links Here.) And really, hospital stays are typically more expensive than test strips, so I’m not sure what Medicare is actually saving. Based on these findings by ADA, PWDs are calling for a halt on the bidding program since it failed to meet standards in its test areas. In July, the program will roll out to more states and effect more Medicare patients with diabetes.

It’s already hard enough just to get my insulin pump supplies from Medtronic as a 30-something female with private insurance through her employer. Since Medicare’s coverage and ideas can trickle down into the private sector, what’s stopping my private insurance from implementing the same sort of game of health care roulette?

I have a fairly diverse readership since I cover a litany of topics. (I know, all you capsule wardrobe followers are like, what gives, woman?!) But I ask, please, hear my pint-sized voice just this once and help me take action. After all, this was, and is, still technically a blog about my life with diabetes. My very long life with diabetes.


DPAC (Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition) has made it SUPER simple to write to your legislators. Visit this clicky link to fill out one quick form about where you live and it generates letters to  your Senator, Assemblyperson, and local representative and send it all for you! OMG this is so simple. And I hate writing letters like this. The more voices your reps hear, the better.

Oh, maybe I should have posted this sooner, but, DPAC has a nifty infographic you can share/read/whatever. Consider this the reward for reading through this.

DPAC Infographic (PRNewsFoto/Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coal..)

DPAC Infographic (PRNewsFoto/Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coal..)

TrialNet: The Results Are In…

…And Bean tested negative for the autoantibodies for Type 1 diabetes. So her risk, for now, is minimal. Woo hoo!

TrialNet will continue to send annual reminders and kits to be tested up until she turns 18.

For now, here is one thing we won’t share in common. Now, if we can just work on the overdramatic tantrums…

PBCx, and Other Childhood Memories


As I explore the eating habits of a toddler, I am often reminded of the strange, and downright creative, concoctions my parents used to get me to eat something as a child.

Eating was always a crapshoot for me. I’d have my shot of Regular before a meal. Wait 30 minutes, because that’s just how long it’d take for it to start working. (Ish.) Then I’d refuse all food presented to me unless it was covered in cheese. Or had hot dogs. Or… whatever I fancied. My parents would often sit with me at the table to make sure I ate something while I sat and stared into space. Meanwhile, my Regular is working in the background.

However, there were a few surefire things I would eat as a child and they all have funny memories associated with them. Some of which I still rely on today for snacks or hypoglycemic treatment.

Peanut Butter and Graham Crackers. Or the shorthand often found in my old food diaries, PBCx. This was a family camp and summer camp staple for children with diabetes. Somehow, after a long day of hiking, swimming, or campfire activities, this was the perfect amount of short term carbs mixed with a long term fat/protein. I associate this snack with those camps, and the middle of the night checks that resulted in sipping juice from a straw when it didn’t quite work. I still use this snack today as an adult. (Though, it usually just spikes me and keeps me there after multiple corrections.) If my mom didn’t have graham crackers in the house, she usually just gave me a spoonful of the stuff and told me to eat it. (Yup.) Sounds odd now, but Peanut Butter, or any nut butter really, is my go-to for MOTN lows. It fills me up quickly so that I don’t end up eating the entire contents of my fridge.

Ritz Crackers. I have a love/hate relationship with Ritz Crackers. I grew up diabetic in the 80s, where it was commonplace for doctors to say “avoid refined sugar and sweets,” but nothing about other carb sources, like breads, crackers, and cereals. My best friend in elementary school and I would hang out at her house all the time. Her mom kept a jar of Ritz Crackers in the pantry and would always hand them to me for snacks. Nevermind what my friend was having – she always had the Ritz Crackers for me. This thoughtful gesture backfired at my friend’s birthday party – while everyone was served cake and ice cream, I was given the jar of Ritz crackers again. No other options. My mom would sometimes allow me to take a piece of cake and scrape the frosting off. Clearly the Ritz Crackers were far more superior in terms of diabetic care. Who cares if my body processed them the same?

Equal, or the Blue Packets of Aspartame. This was a dream come true to a child who saw sugary treats in all of her friends’ lunchboxes but couldn’t have any of it. Especially since regular Cheerios often found their way into our house more often than the Honey Nut version. Equal went on everything. My Cheerios, fruit, cinnamon and “sugar” toast, Kool-Aid. I even tried to convince my mom to try and bake with it so I could have “sugar free” cookies. (Because, child logic.) These days, aspartame in certain forms gives me giant headaches. And it just tastes like metal in its purest form. I do still enjoy a diet soda here and there, but the bulk of my artificial sweeteners are from Splenda or Stevia these days. However, given the recent upheaval over artificial anything, I am happy to report that I have not sprouted any extra appendages from growing up on aspartame.

Cake Frosting. Gel writing tubes. My mom carried a bunch of these around in her purse for me. They were perfect for treating the hypoglycemic episodes that left me unresponsive. (I had several of those growing up.) They were the same concept as the old glucose gel of the 80s and 90s that tasted like vomit… but they didn’t taste like vomit! They were also cheaper and came in a variety of colors. Nowadays, we have much better tasting glucose  Dextrose gels and tablets. But I also still keep cake frosting in the pantry for this reason.

Sugar-Free Candy. Since we just celebrated Easter, I was reminded of all of the sugar free candy that well-meaning relatives would give to me so I could enjoy that holiday with my cousins. There were sugar-free chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and a litany of other selections. Any PWD will tell you that these items are the bane of our existence and we’d much rather just have the regular stuff and give the appropriate amount of insulin for it. Not only would you be led under the false premise that these items would have no effect on your blood sugar (I always got hit later), but then half way through the bag of jelly beans, you’d end up with the worst stomach cramps known to mankind. (Thanks to all the sugar alcohols and lactose.) My mom used to keep my sugar-free chocolate bunnies in the fridge and allow me small bites every so often. (Which is all I could take because a cold chocolate bunny is impossible to eat.)

Well, damn. Now I’m hungry.

Dizzy, Spinning, and 54

Unhelpful Dexcom - SeeJenDance
If you are a PWD and haven’t heard of Kerri at SUM, I sincerely question your Googling skills. I catch a lot of her posts on Facebook and she re-shared a blog post today from 2012 that stopped me on my too-short of a lunch break.

The post was titled, Lows in Public – a phenomenon I’m all too familiar with. Especially as a dancer and someone who just enjoys a night out. The example of stumbling off to the bar asking for a cup of “just orange juice, please” is a scene I’ve played out several times. (Though, sometimes it is a regular Coke, or gah, a Red Bull.)

Kerri is correct, though. There isn’t ever a convenient time for a low. Especially one that leaves you with your mouth dry, the room spinning, your limbs shaking, and the desire to eat the entire contents of your pantry.

While dancing, or during any sort of exercise, things escalate quickly. It’s easy to get lost in the music or entranced by the power of a great lead. So the usual telltale signs of a problem aren’t generally noticed. That is, until your ability to communicate the partner dance basics – frame and connection – become frail, disjointed, and those turns take way more out of you than normal.

In a lesson setting, these lows also effect my ability to process any information, no matter how mundane. I’m easily frustrated. My ability to speak is labored and my eyes glaze over or blur. My teachers are pretty aware of when something is wrong, and understanding if I need to take a break. “It’s cool, Jen, just wait it out. I’ll explain something/choreograph/do something that doesn’t involve thinking for 10 minutes.” But, have I finished out a lesson while ignoring my symptoms? Yes. More than a few times.

The frustrating part of it all is that I want to keep going. I don’t want to randomly stop a social dance and awkwardly exit stage left. Usually, if I’m dancing with a stranger, I can’t give a two second speech on why I’m suddenly hungry and need to get off the floor. But man, if I’m 54 mg/dl, and there are two minutes long left on that song, it’s the longest two minutes ever and I’m hoping that I can remain upright. (Because, well, passing out is probably equally awkward.) And the dance just goes downhill from there.

Or the lows that creep up when I need to leave my house and drive to a private lesson. They are usually the ones that stick with me. The ones that take about 3 treatments before 50 turns into 60… and then turn to 240 an hour later. I have treated and just made the drive before. It is never a great decision if I’m still recovering from the lingering low feelings beyond when the latest test is back at a safe level. (Adrenaline is a bitch sometimes.)

Classes tend to be easier to escape, unless it’s short on followers. And then I get the guilt of putting the effort into making it out to class only to be sidelined for 1/2 of it. Why won’t these glucose tabs work faster again?

Between cutting a dance short or interrupting a Master teacher mid-thought, diabetes is the bane of social dance etiquette. It’s already an inconvenience for me; why should it be an inconvenience for someone else (well, the passing out thing… again)? My thought is if I can just push through it with semi-consciousness, I don’t have to feel even more helpless than I already do. Where I have to succumb to the inconveniences of hypoglycemia and I can no longer pretend to be normal.

Friday Five: Busy Weekend Edition


I realize I haven’t done a Friday Five in a LONG time. This week in summary…

1.| So this happened.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Dexy. Except when it doesn’t work. At all. Clearly, Dexy enjoyed too many St. Patrick’s Day Green Beers a day early. (I removed it and enjoyed too many Irish Shortbread cookies without it screaming at me.)

2.| My monthly Stitch Fix, Golden Tote shipment, and Trunk Club trunk are ALL coming at the same damn time. Fantastic timing, because I’m supposed to be figuring out my seasonal wardrobe around now. I might write summaries about all three of them in one post rather than individually. Because, tired. And Fuller House is on Netflix. (Priorities!)

3.| I’ve never really taken an interest in politics until recently. Maybe it’s the whole, being a staff member under a lobbying firm thing. I can’t make sense of the circus, even being a left-leaning centrist who prefers science over woo. A friend of mine recommended a Podcast that has been helping guide her in discussions. It’s Pantsuit Politics – or a conversation between two female friends with different political views. Their podcast began last November, but they’ve been covering more and more of the election process. (Because even they admit, they can’t escape it.) But it’s just refreshing to hear both perspectives of the political spectrum without all of the Facebook drama and subsequent unfriending. (Speaking of, post-Primary, I may retreat to Instagram. This is getting ugly, y’all.)


4.| I’m ridiculously excited for some time to be an adult this weekend. It’s been far too long. M and I got tickets to a local craft beer festival and we’re seeing “The Book of Mormon” as well. Sitters (and grandma) are all lined up to watch Bean. The sad part was finding out how out of touch from the local scene we are. I don’t know if we ever really were in tune with it, but now we’re so far gone, it’s analog. Thank God I have savvy friends who can tell me what’s happening.

5.| I used my travel time last week to start (and finish) listening to an audiobook for the first time. I had 6 hours, one way, to kill, so I figured I’d try it. One thing is for sure – the new Apple earbuds are NOT made for extended wear. And, Girl on the Train was a really depressing read. But I’ll give myself kudos for picking it up before it was released as a movie.



GirlyGoGarter Review

This post has been sitting in Draft purgatory for almost a month. I should probably get on this.

GirlyGoGarter in Nude

First things, first. This is a review of the GirlyGoGarter. I wasn’t asked to do one in exchange for goods or services. I simply just wanted to share my experiences with it and how it worked for me. You don’t even get affiliate links in this one. Just enjoy.

So as an insulin pumper, I hate wearing dresses, skirts, and things without pockets. I’ve probably ranted about the lack of pockets in women’s fashion in previous blog posts. It makes ballroom dance costuming rather challenging, but I somehow make it work. The point is, a lot of fashion trends and styles tend to be avoided because I have this object tethered to me 24/7.

Now, I have options. I’ve gotten by with just an old iPod arm band secured around my thigh with the insulin pump clipped to it. Or, worst case, I clip it to my pants and wear a baggy sweater over it. This helps deter second glances, questions about if I’m a doctor and need to carry a pager, or the awkward silhouettes it creates. I also took to sewing mini pockets into dance pants in a pinch.

But I wanted a better solution. When I was pregnant with Bean, I loved wearing maxi skirts. They were totally comfy when I definitely wasn’t. But, the pump band around my leg became unwieldy with an extra 25-40 pounds in front of you. Especially, since the band had a tendency to slip.

A gal on one of my Diabetes boards posted a link to GirlyGoGarter (GGG) when another member had a similar question about pumps and dresses. Always looking for new solutions to my problem, I checked them out.

From their website:

The GirlyGoGarter® is a sexy, lacey garter made of two-way stretch microfiber with pockets that adheres to your upper thigh with latex-free patented GentleFlex™ Grippers.  There are two types of pockets on the GirlyGoGarter®: easy-access (on the outside, just within the lace) and lock-flap (on the inside, against your thigh). Both types of pockets keep your money, I.D., lip gloss, mobile phone, keys, passport and all of your essentials safe, secure and right at your fingertips.

Their website also lists off a variety of items you can store in said garter. Including everything from your purse basics, to an epipen or pacifier (yeah, I don’t know about that). The garter can hold up to 3 lbs. of your essentials on your leg, guys! You can even buy a custom flask to fit into the pockets! It also looks a lot cuter than my old iPod arm band and comes in several colors.

I decided to order one to try. Mind you, they aren’t cheap. (Around $40.) Keep in mind though – this is basically like paying for an evening bag to attach to your leg. Or in my case, making a safe haven for all of my robot parts. I ordered a nude color to start.

Shipping was rather quick – my Garter arrived within a week. However, when I opened the envelope, out popped a black Garter. Huh. I could have swore I ordered a nude one. (More on that later.)

Here are the basics:

You have one long piece of microfiber covered in the lace color of choice. There are two pocket options: the lace pocket and a pocket within the microfiber. (The latter option is good for things you don’t need constant access to.) On the interior is the patented Grippers referred to above. To secure it, there is some heavy duty velcro sewn on the end. The garters come in several sizes – this one is the smallest size.

So, I took it for a test drive.

For the record, GGG doesn’t actually recommend wearing tights with this thing. The Grippers work best with bare legs, or at the most, fishnets. However, it was January, and butt cold outside. I took my chances.

For the first test, I was sitting at a desk for about 80% of the day, so the garter didn’t have a chance to slip much. Would I dance with tights and this on? Probably not. Could you get away with a couple quick jaunts around the office and some tights? Definitely.

As the weather warmed up, I ventured out without tights, hoping to actually make this thing work for its money.

For the most part, this held up nicely. I kept Dex and my insulin pump on me while out and about, but didn’t have to carry a purse or worry about pockets. A roll of glucose tabs probably won’t fit, but a small roll of lifesavers, some hard candies, or another small low treatment of choice will more than likely fit.

Now about that incorrect color mentioned earlier. I didn’t mind the black garter. Maybe mommy brain was messing with me and I did indeed order this color. A few days after receiving my garter, I received an email from Libby, a customer service manager for Andy Paige – the creators of GGG. She let me know that there was a mistake with my order and the company indeed sent the wrong color. For my troubles, they were sending me a nude color garter, free of charge since it wasn’t right the first time. The second garter arrived about a week later. Kudos for excellent customer service follow through, Libby.

Verdict – Recommend. The garter alleviates the awkward protrusions from the insulin pump and holster, thus creating a sleeker line. And it works great if you want to be subtle or not feel more like a cyborg. And keeping the pump in the lace pocket makes for easy access.

I Gave Up Diabetes for Lent


Wait. What? Can you do that?

First, let’s start from square 1. I’m Catholic… er, um, a CEO Catholic. But, I do like the concept of Lent and it’s one of the few things I do still practice that isn’t the traditional Christmas/Easter fair.

The gist of Lent is simple – give something up from Ash Wednesday until Easter Saturday that doesn’t make you a better Catholic/better person. Or partake in some sort of fast. Or both. Some people give up soda or coffee or Candy Crush or whatever. For the last few years, I wasn’t big on giving up something as I was trying to refocus on being a better person. So things like going to church on Sunday again for Lent, volunteering somewhere, reading children’s bible passages to Bean every night… not really giving up a vice, but instead adding a new, positive habit to your routine.

This year, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. Or how. As a mom of a toddler, you just don’t give up coffee. (I get a daily latte in the morning.) I don’t really drink soda. Sweets aren’t really a vice. Obviously. The thought of dragging a toddler to Mass right before (or during) naptime makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

I like all of the 40 days/40 bags challenges – where you clear out clutter over the course of Lent. (Religious form of spring cleaning.) There is also a cute meme going around where you pick one item from your closet every day, throw it in a trash bag and donate the bag to charity after Easter.


Said meme about clothing donation.

These are great ideas – if I hadn’t already cleaned out clutter from our move last summer or cleaned out my closet for my Capsule project at the new year.

Then there are digital and social media cleanses. Ones where you uninstall Facebook (or whatever your social media vice of choice is) from your mobile device and find other things to do for 40 days. This would be all fine and dandy if people didn’t rely on social media to contact me. Or I didn’t use it for work/dance/mommy advice and support/whatever.

It did, however, spark an idea. During my pregnancy with Bean and the subsequent postpartum months, I joined a series of online support groups for women with type 1 diabetes. A few pregnancy ones here; some mom advice ones there; one for breastfeeding; one for babywearing. I participated in most of them fairly frequently – offering no-nonsense advice to those who were in the throngs of pregnancy or the early newborn stages. I had a lot of online support from several women when I was pregnant – I was simply paying it forward.

The problem with Facebook’s algorithm is that if you partake in several group discussions, that will be all you see on your Newsfeed. Ever. Just a running conversation of panicked strangers over a variety of reasons mixed in with the “pat me on the back – I’m back to my pre-preganancy weight at 6 weeks postpartum” posts. The constant suggestions to overhaul your diet because you eat carbs. The stressed out first time moms who have OBs with shitty bed-side manner. (Or just don’t understand Type 1 diabetes.) And the breastfeeding photos… and problems with breastfeeding. So many issues. And because you are a helpful person who had great help during those first months with Bean, you want to help everyone.

I couldn’t hang. I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I never saw things on my Newsfeed from people I actually knew anymore. I was distracted at work and at home because oh, my God, someone was struggling. Like I struggled. So I must share what I know. Or I just felt bad for eating that english muffin in the morning. Or that my blood sugar at the moment happened to be over 180. Or that I feed my kid gluten because oh – what if that triggers Type 1 in her?

So I unfollowed all of them on Ash Wednesday. It was brilliant.

Until all of my friends started discussing politics. Sigh. Thanks guys.

Date Nights – Or Why D-Parents are Heros


BSM Dining Hall – the place of many food stand offs with my parents.

I had a mentor growing up. She was someone who my parents met at a “families with diabetes” camp when I was around three years old. She also has Type 1, was a nursing student, and living life in the 80s as best she could with her new normal. I had a lot of interaction with her throughout my childhood, but she eventually moved away to travel and finish her education. We kept in touch via annual Christmas cards for almost 30 years.

She came to visit me a few weeks ago because she needed to be in the area for something. It was the first time I had seen her, in person, since I was about 7. Obviously a lot has changed since then, but we picked up conversation straight away based on the letters, emails, and cards we have sent.

People like her are important to me because they help fill in the gaps of what it was like to grow up with diabetes in a time where there were no glucose meters, continuous glucose monitors, and online support groups on Facebook. Since I was diagnosed at such a young age, I don’t remember much about the early years. I’ve heard pieces – I was in the hospital a lot, I was on a nasty regiment of Regular and NPH insulin (which doesn’t work for a picky eating toddler), I had a litany of doctors with terrible bedside manner, I didn’t have a glucose meter until 1985. (And was diagnosed in 1982.)

During her visit, she shared some more useful, though, humbling, information about my parents. When she met my parents at camp, they were both at the end of their rope. And I say this with an emphasis on “end.” I’m sure, somewhere in there, my brother was born, but I was definitely the special needs kid with high demands. This probably involved trying to make me eat something after the insulin had been injected and failing, causing hypoglycemia induced hospitalizations. Testing ketones by squeezing urine out of diapers. I’m not sure if they had to ever boil the test tubes of urine for sugar content, but I’m sure that was brought up at a doctor appointment. Nothing they did worked. (Though, I was surviving, so it didn’t all not work.)

The kicker bit of information: either one or both of my parents were with me at all times. I was never in someone else’s care for more than one hour. No vacations, no date nights. My mom was a stay-at-home-mom by default.

Camp gave them some new ideas and perspective. They were introduced to many nurses and staff members to help them realize that I could be normal and have a normal childhood, but I needed some extra help. More importantly, my parents needed a break.

My mentor offered to baby-sit numerous times while I was at camp. My parents always declined. Each year, my mentor was suggest it again, and my parents, again, declined. Finally, when I was five years old and on my 3rd year at this camp, my mentor suggested that I stay with her one evening… and three other nurses on staff who all happened to be in the same general vicinity. My parents thought about it and accepted. Yes. It was only a good idea for my parents to have a date night if I could have 4 nurses or nursing students (two of them with Type 1) look after me.

It wasn’t for a weekend away. Or a vacation in the Bahamas. It was a dinner date about 20 minutes away. Maybe 2 hours max.

I reflect on this now because I have Bean, who is approximately the age that I was when I was diagnosed. She’s inherited the pickiness from both her father and I. (Also, she’s a toddler.) She’s very active and happy. It’s easy for me to just call up a babysitter and say hey are you free for a few hours… it wasn’t that way for my parents. For at least 4 years.