I was honored to be chosen as one of ten Patient Voice Contest winners for the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit. During the two day event, I was surrounded by industry leaders, tech gurus, genius creators of diabetes apps, and many fellow advocates. This Summit coalesced the mother lode of advancements in diabetes management, and a few of the brave souls in attendance took time to chat with me. Though our interviews were brief, each guest radiated an optimism and passion for helping to better the lives of those of us living with diabetes, and I hope their energy inspires you as well.
A few months ago, I received a heartfelt video message from a person I’d never met, and it had me and my friends and family in tears. It was exactly the boost I needed to keep going. Dr. Fox is one of the good guys – the doctor who truly cares about his patients and their sense of wellbeing after leaving his office. His holistic mind, body, spirit approach is one you rarely, if ever, see in the endocrine world. He has taken a chance by stepping out of the traditional medical community box and intends to make a much larger impact on the diabetes community with his programming and overall approach to treatment. Continue reading →
This globetrotting T1D just embarked on a 12-month remote year journey with a focus to reach one million people living with diabetes. Her candid approach, charismatic attitude, and ability to touch on hot topics will transform lives and prevent diabetes burnout. With 39 1/2 years of experience and a handful of degrees, Dr. Jody is an expert in all things diabetes making her the perfect guest.
It was just by chance our paths would cross at a T1D kiddo and parent support group. I rarely attend and Rebecca and her husband James were guests that evening. When we split off into another room, Rebecca shared her heartfelt story to the parents and there was not a dry eye in the room. For many of us who have lived with T1D for decades, sharing the impact this disease has on our state of mind can be difficult to recollect, much less share. Rebecca found the courage and is turning a life altering experience into a philanthropic dream.
Traveling through multiple time zones with diabetes while being sedentary on the plane can be a lot to handle, but it didn’t keep Drew from his 12 month adventure across the globe. In this episode, he shares his mis-diagnosis, transitioning into life with T1D as a young adult, his love of circus acrobatics and lessons learned while traveling abroad. He is truly an inspiration to all people living with this disease and his laid back personality is warm and welcoming.
Recently, Mayor David Holt declared a pride week in my home town of Oklahoma City. It made me think – do I know any LGBTQ T1Ds? Yep, and not only is she my friend, she is one of the only people I know that has had diabetes as long as I have – hence the title – T1D dinosaurs. We are a rare breed and it was thrilling to sit with Bonnie and share what life was like 35+ years ago growing up with this disease. Bonnie and Jennifer did a fabulous job sharing how managing diabetes is sometimes a group effort.
I take pride in being a friendly stalker and scored an impromptu interview with American Idol super star and fellow Type 1, Crystal Bowersox while she was traveling through Oklahoma City. Her show was killer and I shared the evening with dear friends (Erik & Teneka). We sang together, enjoyed pizza and clinked glasses while sharing diabetes hacks. Crystal’s scrappy, no bullshit attitude made her the perfect guest.
I’m hitting the road and heading to Arkansas! It has been ages since I’ve hosted a Real Life Diabetes Happy Hour, but after being contacted by a fellow T1D – I’m packing up the Subaru and heading North. This event brings ALL people living with diabetes and their families together to be surrounded by folks who “get it“. Please join me Thursday, April 11th from 5-7:30pm at The Holler located at 801 SE 8th Street in Bentonville, Arkansas.
While on the road with the Real Life Diabetes podcast in Scottsdale, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Paloma Kemak (aka Glitter Glucose). Her story is very different from mine, but her diagnosis and overall mindset is entertaining and up-lifting. Paloma’s energy and ability to laugh while sharing her story is contagious and inspiring to PWDs from across the globe.
The Diabetes Daily Grind and Real Life Diabetes podcast is growing and in order to do so, we need help. We’re pursuing every avenue possible and hope you will take time each day to vote until April 1, 2019. CLICK on the link below to vote and please share with the world!
After a tip from my sister and a little friendly stalking, I scored a killer interview with CNN Heroes award recipient, Maria Rose Belding. Above and beyond her work providing food for people in need, she is surpassing her goals while juggling life with Type 1 diabetes. In this episode she shares her passion to serve others while not letting T1D slow her down. Continue reading →
It has been over a year since I last shared a post, but with two snow days I had plenty of time to reflect on what the past year has taught me. 2018 was full of new challenges, many of which were diabetes related. After 35+ years of living with T1D, you would think I’ve dealt with it all, but that is not the case. Below are a few highlights, lessons learned and things to ponder.
I became a Dexcom Warrior and had the privilege of trying the new G6 before it was released to the public.
I shared my T1D story, per the request of the Oklahoma Diabetes Legislative Caucus, to insurance providers in an effort to change future coverage for people living with the disease. It worked. Report to follow in a future post with my testimony.
Oklahoma is thankful to have an upcoming state senate candidate who in not only a second generation educator, but the parent of a child recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In this episode we touch on her son’s diagnosis, insulin affordability & accessibility, and Carri’s day to day life on the campaign trail with three kids. Please note – this is not a political plug, but just an opportunity to have someone in her shoes share life with managing the real world and a child with Type 1 diabetes.
For all of us, this was a new season. In the time away from each other (less than a year), Mark has moved back to Northwest Arkansas, started a new job with Medtronic, and committed to a diabetes life with the new 670G insulin pump. And, as expected, the conversation went off the rails from the anticipated agenda and into even realer subjects: sex, sleep, and chick-fil-a. Continue reading →
In life, we meet people who leave us feeling lighter and rejuvenated–Tonya’s one of those people. Every word she speaks is embodied in her own life. She’s curious and open-minded, a professional student in healthy living. As a nurse at Wellness and Longevity (an functional medicine clinic in Oklahoma City), she works with patients daily on optimizing their foundations for health. In her second episode (refresh with episode 10), we focus on the foundations of a vital life and how to reengage with meaningful resolutions. Diabetes can be a reflection of how we’re eating, moving, sleeping, and managing the mind. Tonya helps us get back to those basics, letting diabetes management reflect back out.
An hour before her emcee duties at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center’s Connect+Cure Gala in OKC, Nicole Johnson joined us and shared her perspectives since winning Miss America in 1999. From the surprising career trajectory afterward, to dating and diabetes scenarios, we embraced the whole journey. Per the usual flow of the show, many laughs were had, and we all got to know each other. Continue reading →
Honesty and perspective–two traits people with diabetes cherish from those who give us advice about food. Christina has both. Having served with Ryan at Camp Blue Hawk on the medical staff, he was ready to pick her brain about her thoughts on paleo vs vegan, parenting pitfalls in diet, and how she found dietetics. The result? A conversation that stays open-minded and focuses on the big picture: steady blood sugars without compromise to long-term longevity. Oh, and as a show first, Amber arrived midway through the conversation by surprise. Continue reading →
When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, my first feeling was perhaps different than you might expect: relief.
The months leading up to my diagnosis were some of the worst of my life. I had been flying from Washington DC to the West Coast and back on a weekly basis, and I thought the constant red-eyes had finally gotten the best of me. I was battling fatigue, circulation issues, and weight loss, and I could barely get any sleep. I just felt awful. Continue reading →
In 2010, I joined 29 other folks to take part in Leadership Norman, a nine month training for business professionals. We met every other week and participated in a variety of sessions focused on community history, current community issues, leadership, and self-discovery. One of the sessions involved a physical, trust building experience of sorts – a ropes course. At this point, no one really knew I had Type 1 diabetes unless they happen to notice my tattoo, but this particular session brought attention to the disease. Continue reading →
For the first time in DDG history – we’re taking a quick break from content. Before you start cursing us and wonder what you’re going to read this week, please note = Ryan started his first day/third year of medical school (YAY Ryan) and Amber is attending the Friends For Life conference in Orlando, Florida. We can’t wait to share future posts as to what’s going down in the diabetes advocacy world. We’ve linked a few sites to check out as a sneak peak into what’s down the pipe line.
Here are a few stellar folks, sites and organizations you need to check out:
While Ryan was studying for the boards, Amber gathered a few shoe lovers from across the country to discuss the “dream” shoe for PWDs. Maybe they didn’t find that “dream” shoe, but she enjoyed a lively discussion with guest, Shelene Kinsley, Tales From A Type 1 blogger, T1D and upcoming shoe designer. This episode was recorded in Oklahoma City’s own Betsy King Boutique. Betsy is a seasoned buyer and Amber appreciates her attention to detail when looking for the perfect high heel. Who knew that heels are better for your feet than flats? Seriously though. Continue reading →
Amber scored a once in a lifetime interview with the “Human Highlight Film”, NBA legend and Hall of Fame Inductee, Dominique Wilkins (imagine his name radiating within in an arena). Wilkins is no stranger to diabetes as his father and grandfather both died from diabetes related complications. When diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes post retirement – he knew it was time get back in the game. In this unique glimpse into his personal life, they discuss his childhood diet, diagnosis day BG numbers and changing his diabetes regimen from pills to injections. This man is honest, entertaining and inspirational.
Props to us for exceptional long-term planning in the coordination of Dominique’s episode being the 21st (it was his number!!!!! We just put this together.)
Annually, I attend a Symposium filled with brilliant people who share a common theme of wanting the best for Oklahoma. A few days before setting off for this intellectual journey, they presented the question I would discuss with fellow panelists – Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear: Disruptions that are Fast Approaching. My initial thought – what in the hell am I going to speak about? 48 hours before presenting it dawned on me – PRE-DIABETES. I recalled a report presented at the Novo Nordisk Summit, forecasting staggering numbers of folks with pre-diabetes. I started my speech with – Look around, one in three of you sitting in this room has pre-diabetes…
It’s time for Round 2. We’re hosting our second happy hour, this time centered around parents and adults with type 1 diabetes. One might ask, why would we choose those two populations? Well, there’s wisdom to be gained from each other. For the parent of a kid with diabetes, the adult with the same disease can provide perspective (the DDG will not guarantee the quality of this perspective but suspect it will be a positive experience). For the adult with diabetes, hmmm… perhaps we will be enlightened as to how it felt to once be our own parents. Continue reading →
I came across an article about famous folks who are fellow passengers on the T1D train. The story focused on their diagnosis and raising $$$ for ? charity. Kudos for using fame to increase funding and awareness! As I wrapped up the article, my mind wandered… If given the chance to sit across from a T1D celeb, what would I want to know about their “real life”?
Halle Berry – Actress
Do you pick up your own prescriptions? Does your make-up artist cover up bruises from shots? Any suggestions on the best cover-up for this?
Diabetes and driving – race car driving that is… is the topic today as Amber recently won the Lilly Diabetes My Diabetes Pit Crew Sweepstakes! She’s officially an honorary member of Ryan Reed’s pit crew and was given the opportunity to interview the Nascar driver about life on the road with diabetes. In this first ever MiniPod, we talk real life – Amber style (no filter). Ryan Reed indulges her “non-traditional” questions, shares his go-to recipes, and who has access to giving him a shot. Continue reading →
The DDG recently jumped on the opportunity to record a live podcast at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center’s Connect+Cure Gala. After months of planning, the day finally arrived. My four outfit choices were back from the cleaners, I had the perfect shoes and my checklist was complete. The average person (someone without diabetes) would be in good shape with the exception of performance jitters, but the T1D planner in me had a few other things to consider.
Ryan and I chatted the night before the event, double checking the details. As we wrapped up our rambling the conversation moved to handling a low BG during the podcast. We both agreed, the show must go on and were prepared to handle any diabetes mishap. Continue reading →
I feel like a broken record because I’ve written numerous posts on the effects stress has on my blood sugar, but a few events last week reinforced how diabetes can take over your life. My life/work scenario forced me to take a seat on an insanely large BG roller coaster and I’m still waiting for the downhill plunge.
I believe a timeline is in order to help you understand.
Thursday – BG 214.
Odd because it’s usually around 120 – 150, my preferred roll out of bed BG. Maybe I have an infection??? Continue reading →
Today is my birthday. I will eat cake–perhaps even some coconut milk ice cream. Special occasions deserve special levels of insulin.
Today, in the first year medical school curriculum, also marks the Introduction To Type 1 Diabetes lecture. Quite the comical coincidence.
On the day of my birth, I get to hear about the chronic disease I know most intimately. The disease that permeates my thoughts by the minute. I know about insulin. I’ve read the convoluted hypotheses on the cause, linked with autoimmunity. I can recognize the signs of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. I definitely know how to treat them. I’ve felt the link between epinephrine and cortisol, causing that random high blood sugar. If there were one lecture this year, that I probably won’t have to look at again, it’s this one–a real savings in time! That is a cool gift, but there’s more to it. Continue reading →
Last night I returned home from the Oklahoma Symposium and am happy to report my diabetes didn’t slow me down. The weekend was packed with panels, lectures and networking – not to mention a beer tasting and nightly cocktail hour. In years past this eventful weekend has been a bit of challenge, but this year I took charge. I’m happy to report three shifts in thinking that proved smoother sailing when navigating uncharted food territory.
1. Don’t be afraid to express your dietary needs.
The Saturday evening meal looked wonderful, but happen to be a filet so I was served the other option – white pasta w/red sauce and sautéed carrots. No thank you! I asked the server if the kitchen would be kind enough to whip together a grilled chicken breast and some steamed broccoli. After speaking with three servers and the chef, I was served exactly what I requested. YAY ME!
The DDG received a heartfelt message from a woman who has dominated diabetes for 60+ years. I wept while listening because SO much of her message hit home. She described her passion for art and successful career as an artist while battling diabetic retinopathy. Feeling defeated by a recent trip to the eye doctor, she couldn’t enjoy a single moment of her exhibition. Diabetes had robbed her of happiness and replaced it with a dark cloud. Could she still be an artist if/when she lost her eyesight?
I rarely talk about it, but I was fortunate to receive vocational rehabilitation to assist me with my tuition, books, etc. Even though I was thankful for the help, I was limited as to what I could study and art was on that list. Continue reading →
108 questions. 3 hours in one room. This is what awaits me tomorrow. The final exam covering 5 weeks of Immunology and Microbiology. It’s a beast. The perfect opportunity for blood sugar to interrupt my brain’s ability to sort through an absurd amount of information for the correct answer.
People with diabetes not only have to do these things, but we should expect to deliver our best performance. Putting out our best effort is all in the preparation, both while studying and during the exam. Over a semester and a half of medical school, I’ve piled up a few suggestions based on what’s worked and what’s, well, yeah, not worked so well. With these tips in mind, you will deliver your best effort on test day. (Disclaimer: I was purposeful in not claiming one would receive an A. Just your best effort…)
While studying, don’t get off track when your blood sugar’s in the money zone.
Don’t waste time on Pinterest or Candy Crush when your mind is right. When my blood sugar is in between 120-180, it’s time to get after it. Continue reading →
What’s the fastest, most-efficient way to derail your day? Go low or go high. This is our beast. Don’t wake it up. Don’t taunt it. Learning to preserve your creativity and momentum is critical as a modern student, professional, and parent.
Here is the goal: Do whatever you can to maintain your zone, especially when you need to be your best. Of course imperfection is inevitable. Occasionally, your blood sugar will be over 250 for no reason. You will go below 80 when you should not have. This is the grind. But, when you have established control–firmly entrenched in a comfortable blood sugar zone–you must do everything possible to preserve it for productivity sake. Continue reading →
I’m an A+ house sitter and while overseeing a friend’s home over a series of weekends, I grew fond of a particular print in her hallway. One day while strolling down the hall I stopped dead in my tracks – that angelic figure is a monitor with a test strip and a reading of 356!!!!!
After further investigation, I noticed the needles and bottles of insulin. This piece is about diabetes! Continue reading →
Picture this. You walk into a party, feeling like you own the place. You’re witty. You’re striking up conversations like Jimmy Fallon. Then, paranoia hits you. Thoughts like these flood your mind — “Why did I wear this? This looks ridiculous. Why am I even here? Should I just go home?” Before this runaway train fueled by low blood sugar sends you off into self-loathing, let’s get you back on track. Follow these tips to salvage evenings, meetings, and conversations while in the hypoglycemic zone.
Don’t be afraid to let people know that you’re low.
This seems relatively straight-forward but then again, is anything straight-forward when low? Even if you just met this person or group, say something like this, “Excuse me, but I have diabetes and could use some sugar. Would you mind if I stepped away for a moment to find some?” This is fairly formal. For the more informal scenario, go with this, “I can barely understand what I’m saying, nevertheless what you’re saying. I’m going to find something to eat or drink.” Ignore the paleo guy in the background telling you that carbs are bad for you. Continue reading →
As cold and flu season is upon us, a few days ago I was reminded that having T1D can be a bit stressful this time of year. I currently have four employees and they’re dropping like flies. One of them recently contacted me to say he wasn’t feeling well. I had been around him earlier in the day and thought he looked a little pale so I encouraged him to go home.
Fast forward five days and I’m working along side my newest employee. She abruptly jumps up and exits the room. I didn’t think much about it as we were in the middle of an exciting project and she could have been eager to pull something from storage. Upon her return, she looks like a zombie. She shyly admits she had just thrown up. My first thought is, “Are you pregnant?”, but quickly remember that is inappropriate to ask. THANK YOU filter for working today. She assures me she feels better and thinks it might have been something she ate earlier in the day.
Soon after the vomiting episode, the head cold employee joins us and nonchalantly mentions his cold was actually the flu. WTF are you doing here!!! He promises me he is no longer contagious and is eager to work. This scenario sparked a conversation I’ve only had a few times in my life – Continue reading →
Last week was a busy one with tours of the new gallery and the Oklahoma Arts Conference in town. Blood sugars and stress levels were all over the map, making my attention span and ability to rally each day rather tough. For the first time, I actually took a mental health day midweek, but more so to get my diabetes under control by focusing on my mind and my body.
Final day of the conference kicks off at 8am and the first session is an important one so I’m sure to be up extra early, eat a hearty breakfast and pack plenty of snacks so I don’t crash while engaging in conversation. Two sessions later and my stomach is growling, I’ve consumed as much coffee as humanly possible and head into lunch. I scarf down the spinach salad and eagerly await the main course before a fellow arts friend warns me of the vegetarian options. She is a fan of the DDG and knows that I constantly bitch about the lack of low carb options in a buffet or conference setting. Word on the street, the lunch option for vegetarians was pasta and grilled potatoes. NO THANK YOU! Continue reading →
I’m not going to lie, I was never really a Poison fan when all of my friends were plastering their bedroom walls with posters of Bret Michaels and fellow bandmates. I may not understand his style of music, but I can relate to his positive attitude about living with Type 1 diabetes. In this Oprah LifeClass clip, he hits the nail on the head with choosing to get busy living or get busy dying. Attitude is everything and some days are better than others.
For at least the last decade, I can recall the same test strip options being available: Freestyle, Freestyle Lite, Accucheck, OneTouch, and Precision.
Do these brands come up with new, more precise technology? No doubt. They do. Are the most up-to-date options, with the most accuracy and painless application, ever covered by my insurance? Never. Take for example the IBGStar testing machine, Sanofi’s development for the iPhone. This is real cool but not cool enough to pay $1.50 per strip. Continue reading →
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A few years ago, I was at dinner with my dear friend who is an Oklahoma Justice. I can’t recall where we were having dinner, but I am willing to bet it was somewhere swanky. As the food was en route to our table, I made a comment about shooting up. She kindly brought to my attention that it was a bit awkward to say “shoot up” at the dinner table especially considering her profession. Note To Self: the term shooting up makes others think of intravenous drug abuse, not keeping a T1D alive. Continue reading →