Diabetes Valentines

My Valentine’s day diabetes pick-up line post has been one of my most popular posts, so I decided to do something similar this year.

Diabetes Valentines!

Happy Valentine’s Day!





Diabetes Blog Week- Day 2

“This year, Diabetes Blog Week and TuDiabetes are teaming up to bring out the poet in you! Write a poem, rhyme, ballad, haiku, or any other form of poetry about diabetes.”

CGM, Go To Bed

An ode to my continuous glucose monitor

10:30 pm:

I put you on my nightstand, I lay you down to rest,
In case I don’t feel well, my blood sugar you will test.

My blood sugar is steady, not too high and not too low,
That ice cream after dinner, I hope you will not show.

An undisturbed night of sleep is what I really need,
A steady line on your graph in the morning, I truly hope to read.

Slumber is upon me, I’m drifting off to sleep,
I beg you CGM, a quiet night without a peep.

1 am: Buzz buzz buzz

Double arrows pointing up I awaken with a start to find,
Of all the arrows, up and down, you’re my least favorite kind.

Not much I can do, laying here with insulin on its way,
Groggily back to sleep I go, and hoping this time to stay.

2 am: Buzz buzz buzz

My eyes spring open, you caught me quite off guard,
My bg’s now over 180, you just had to make this hard.

My number is too high now, but I’m hoping not for long,
It may start to drop too fast, but hopefully I’m wrong.

4:30 am: Beeeeeep Beeeeep Beeeeeep

From my nightstand I hear your sound, which can only mean one thing,
“You’ve dropped below 55, wake up, wake up!” your beeps eagerly sing.

I take my fruit snacks and into my mouth I dump them all,
For the last time tonight, please back to sleep I hope I fall.

4:45 am: Buzz buzz buzz

Now you say I’m under 80, well at least I’m on the rise,
Maybe giving insulin for that high wasn’t all too wise.

Please CGM, let this be all, I’m really very sleepy,
If you wake me up one more time I may get a little weepy!

7:30 Ringgg Ringgg Ringgg

You’ve got to be kidding me, what is it now? You haven’t had enough?
With all the ups and downs this night, my sleep has been quite rough.

It’s my alarm! Time to get up; to work I must get ready and go.
Oh what’s that on the graph? A perfect number NOW you decide to show!

Diabetes Art Day 2014

I’m so pleased to be participating in the 5th Annual Diabetes Art Day! This is my second year participating. Art has always been valuable to me in my life as a form of expression, and I love creating art with a purpose. It’s a way to express thoughts or feelings that can sometimes be hard to articulate when it comes to my diabetes, and Diabetes Art Day is a great opportunity to share those feelings through a unique medium.

This year my piece is called “The Low Journey”. It’s an abstract interpretation of what low blood sugar feels like for me using sharpie and water colors. It begins in the first picture with the realization that you are going low, that dark, confusing feeling of being disoriented and out of sorts. The feeling is confirmed with a finger poke and reading on the meter. In the next picture, the treatment of the low is depicted. I use fruit snacks to treat my lows. Then comes the agonizing 15 minutes of waiting to feel better, but feeling helpless in the mean time. Finally, the last picture shows how the dark clouds hanging over you eventually begin to lift as your blood sugar returns to normal and the sun finds its way through the dark clouds.

The Low Journey
Thank you to Lee Ann Thill from the Butter Compartment for organizing Diabetes Art Day. Be sure to check out everyone’s wonderful submissions in the 2014 Diabetes Art Day Gallery!

The Diabetes Spooktacular

I love Halloween. Not because of the candy, I love Halloween because of the opportunity to be creative when it comes to costumes. I love to make my Halloween costumes each year and I get really into it. People’s reactions to my costumes is the true reward for all the time and effort. This year, I wanted to extend the costumes to a new subject, my diabetes.

Let’s meet the monsters:

Glucose meter

“I vant to suck your blood!”

That’s all I could think about when I decided to dress my glucose meter up as Dracula. I mean isn’t that really all a glucose meter really wants, lots of blood? This Dracula’s prefers to have blood that has the perfect amount of glucose, not too much and not too little.

The Mummy
Insulin Pump

Keeping my diabetes “under wraps” or making sure things are “all wrapped up”. I decided to dress my insulin pump up as a mummy. It was also kind of playing off of the idea of preserving organs and the fact that my pancreas is not preserved in its original working form (yea, that part was kind of a stretch).

Continuous Glucose Monitor

I decided to dress Gigi, my CGM, up as a ghost because it seems like my CGM is always disappearing and then randomly showing up. I love how the ghost “glows” with the light of the meter shining through.

Wishing everyone a very spooky Halloween! May your sweet tooth be satisfied and your blood sugar stay in range!

A Melody of Hope

I know my beeps. I know my beeps similar to the way a parent can recognize the cry of their baby. I know the sounds that my insulin pump and meters make. I don’t get them confused with other alarms, dings, and noises of everyday life. And since I’m usually not surrounded by other pump wearing diabetics, I know that the beeps are for me. That is until I go to a diabetes event. What a strange phenomenon it is to be surrounded by dozens of other diabetics. My beeps become lost in a sea of similar noises, mixing with the sounds of countless other pumps and meters. My unique identifier becomes a unifying force, a sound signifying a shared experience.

My contribution to this year’s mosaic mural

The past two weekends I’ve had the pleasure of attending 2 different JDRF walks, one in Chicago and one in Ann Arbor/Dexter. In Chicago, I was volunteering with an amazing organization called Project S.N.A.P, collecting artworks drawn at the walk by T1Ds, their families, and their friends to become part of a giant mosaic mural. You can read more about my experiences with Project S.N.A.P in this post, or on their website. The second walk I attended as a representative of the Young Leaders Committee of my local JDRF chapter. It was the second JDRF walk that I’ve ever attended as a walker.

I attended my local diabetes walk with my mom. The walk was in a beautiful Metropark, the path winding through trees with changing colored leaves. Although it was raining, it was still a beautiful and enjoyable walk. At one point my mom turned to me and asked if I was sad/upset that we didn’t really do these walks when I was growing up. I wasn’t mad. Mostly because I knew that my family always supported me. The walk that day was a perfect example. Knowing that I wanted to go to the event, my mom skipped her normal Sunday plans to wake up early and drive 45 minutes to walk in the rain with me.

But even though I am not upset, I know that I did miss out on some amazing experiences. When I looked around at the walks, I saw teams sometimes with 10-30 people all there for one special type 1 diabetic. They were there showing their support by physically coming together, by putting on their team t-shirt with their creative names and bright colors, and spending the morning dedicated to that one child with diabetes. I can only imagine how special that child must feel. Yes, they were being singled out because of their diabetes, but in a positive way. For at least one day each year, that child isn’t alone in their experiences. They aren’t the only child with diabetes. They are able to come together and see other children just like them, to meet and talk with them.

My parents had their own reasons for not pushing to go each year, but I know that if I had expressed an interest to attend these walks when I was younger, that we would have gone. Perhaps I didn’t know at the time what I was missing out on. I was content with the support from my friends and family and with the few other diabetics that I knew.  But these past two weekends while I stood in a sea of other diabetics, I heard those beeps, my beeps. And while it was confusing and odd to hear them, each beep seemed to say “You. are. not. alone. beep. We. are. in. this. together. beep.”

It was the melody of hope, of support, and of all the efforts to find a cure.

Strip Safely & Diabetes Art Day: Strip Tease

Diabetes Art Day has collaborated with the Strip Safely initiative to raise awareness about the issue of test strip accuracy. As stated on the website, “The goal is to collect a body of images that capture the emotional experience of relying on inaccurate test strips to make decisions about food, activity and medication that affect our immediate and long term health outcomes.”While the campaign urges people to send letters and use social media to get the message out, Lee Ann, the person behind Diabetes Art Day, recognizes that printed letters just does not capture and convey the emotion the way visual art can.
Inaccurate test strips is a huge problem, putting diabetic’s health and wellbeing at risk. We need more stringent accuracy requirements and the proper process to remove those that don’t meet this standard. It’s an issue that people need to know about. This edition of Diabetes Art Day is working to do just that, to bring awareness to this important issue so that action may be taken to ensure test strips and meters meet regulatory requirements.
My artwork for this Diabetes Art Day plays off the words, “Strip Tease”. While there is some humor involved, it points to the important issue of using test strips that are safe and accurate rather than those that may be deceiving and therefore harmful.

You can check out the gallery of images for this special Strip Safely Diabetes Art Day here.

Color For A Cure- JDRF Illinois Family Day

This past weekend my sister and I drove to the Six Flag amusement park near Chicago to volunteer with the JDRF Illinois Family Day. We were volunteering with an organization called Project S.N.A.P, which uses art, technology, and social media as a means to communicate ideas, collaborate around a common goal, and activate change around different causes, in this case, finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. This particular project, Color for a Cure, is a partnership between Project S.N.A.P, the Ford Motor Company Fund and JDRF Illinois. A giant 4’x6′ mosaic mural is created from individual pictures drawn by JDRF Illinois children and families, members of the JDRF Illinois community, and students from across the Chicagoland area. After drawing a picture, participants are able to go online and see exactly where in the mural their picture is in the Project S.N.A.P Online Art Museum! This was the 5th year that Project S.N.A.P and the Ford Motor Company Fund have partnered with JDRF Illinois for Color For a Cure. Over the last 5 years, more than 10,000 artworks have been created! Below is a video from the 2011 Family Day, or you can watch the video from 2012 here.

I have been volunteering with Project S.N.A.P at the JDRF Illinois Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes for a couple years now, but this was my first time attending Family Day. Project S.N.A.P collects pictures from both events, which are then are used to make up the mosaic. What’s so amazing about this project are all the individual pictures that people draw, but also how everyone comes together to collectively comprise the larger image. Kids will come over with their family and friends and sit down and start drawing. Even people that insist that they aren’t artistic or can’t draw end up making beautiful and colorful pictures with such powerful and inspiring messages of what it’s like to have diabetes themselves or have a loved one who does. They are messages of hope, love, support, and of coming together to fight for a cure.

Me holding last year’s mosaic mural

I had the opportunity while I was there to talk with a few families and some other type 1 diabetics. I always find it interesting to share stories and hear other people’s experiences. I talked with one young girl that was diagnosed at age 7 and another girl diagnosed in her 20s.  I also talked with some parents about what their child is going through versus my own experiences. It kind of makes me wish that I had gone to more events like this when I was younger, but I’m glad that I am going now.

It was a great day working with Project S.N.A.P and being part of this inspiring project with so many wonderful T1 diabetics. And after the event, we had a lot of fun going on the roller coasters at Six Flags. For once it wasn’t my blood sugars that were going high and then low and then high again!

To see the mosaic murals from the past years and to learn more about Project S.N.A.P, visit www.projectsnap.org/jdrf/

Diabetes Blog Week Day 6: Diabetes Art

Today’s topic: Diabetes Art
Infusion sets, omnipods, sensors, and tape.
These all look foreign and unusual on your body to someone who isn’t familiar with diabetes.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to conceal what’s on my stomach, to prevent the stares.
But not today.
Today I want to draw attention to this area.
I want it to be seen and admired. I want it to be viewed as something beautiful.
 I am not embarrassed. I am not ashamed.
I am proud.
I am diabetic.

Diabetes Art Day 2013

Today is Diabetes Art Day, and my first time participating. I’m so glad that I learned about this opportunity as I am quite excited to be combining my creativity and love of art with such an important part of my life, my diabetes.

Taken from the website, here is a description of the initiative:

Diabetes Art Day is a web-based initiative for the Diabetes Online Community to “tell a story” about life with diabetes though creative visual expression. It’s a way for us to tell our stories so we can connect and share with each other and with our loved ones. It’s a way to generate diabetes awareness outside of the DOC (diabetes online community) by sharing artwork on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and community websites…Diabetes Art Day is for you to show the world what it’s like to live with diabetes in that “a picture is worth 1000 words” kind of way.”

I’ve never really been one to sketch out my work before I begin. I always just start and see where the picture takes me. And that’s exactly what I did. Here is the final result:

Depicted in my artwork are three fishlike creatures, representing the dark and mysterious unknowns of diabetes in general and of the daily management of it. These ominous creatures are always swimming and lurking, whether in darkness or in light. They feed on the blood sugars, shown here as a school of CGM arrows. The varying directions of the arrows shows the ups and downs of my blood sugar, as they swim through and around difficulties and obstacles. The repetitiveness of the arrows also signify the repetitive nature of the disease: blood sugar testing, carb counting, bolusing, blood sugar testing, carb counting, bolusing, etc. The light and colorful background is in stark contrast to the dark creatures, showing that hope and light can and does still exist. Finally, the intermittent patches of tape say that even though there are unknowns and moments of darkness and fear, I will stick with it and take care of myself and my diabetes.
Working on this artwork was a truly positive experience. It allowed me to take some time to reflect on what it is I wanted to share about living with diabetes and how I wanted to accomplish that visually. It had been a while since I had done anything artistic and I appreciated having such a positive purpose behind my work.
I hope that you will take some time to look at some of the other wonderful pieces submitted by people living with diabetes, found on the Diabetes Art Day website.

Happy Holidays!

I love the holiday season. I love waking up to a fresh layer of snow blanketing the grass and trees in a sparkling white. I love seeing the trees, streets, and buildings twinkling with colored lights. I even love braving the crowded malls and stores in search of the perfect gift. For me, the holidays mean spending time with family, getting together with friends, and enjoying delicious food. Despite my affection for this time of year, winter and the holidays are also a challenging time. This may be true for a lot of people, but I find it especially hard at times as a diabetic.
Being a visual person, I decided to create a series of photographs, my interpretation of the holidays through the eyes of a type 1 diabetic. Inherent in these photos is the juxtaposition of beauty and pleasure with disease and discomfort. Sweetness and enjoyment isn’t without careful deliberation and vigilance.
Cold weather brings challenges with blood sugar testing. When the temperature drops and your fingers get cold, it becomes even more difficult to get enough blood to take a reading. Sometimes I think my fingers might as well be covered in snow with how little circulation there is in the winter cold.
I love sweets. I’ll admit it. Being diabetic doesn’t necessarily mean that I can’t enjoy these treats, it just means knowing exactly how many carbs I’m having, giving enough insulin to cover it, and anticipating spikes in my blood sugar. That being said, it’s hard for me to look at candy, alcohol, or baked goods without thinking about calculating insulin, counting carbohydrates, and testing blood sugars.
The holidays are about remembering and appreciating what is truly important in your life. That may mean ignoring those questioning looks when you grab a brownie or excuse yourself to check your blood sugar. It’s about remembering everything you have to be grateful for instead of focusing on the inconveniences.
Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year to you all!