It is always a pleasure to connect with fellow diabetes advocates, Rev Run and Justine Simmons. They radiate positive energy and had me laughing with their ability to call each out when it comes to healthy lifestyle choices. There is no doubt, their passion to rewrite their family history with Type 2 diabetes is contagious and the Simmons kids are teaching them a thing or two.
Last December, Anne came to the rescue, offering help during my insulin crisis while in San Antonio, Texas. She, like many people in the DOC (diabetes online community) stayed in contact with me while I resolved the problem. She is a leader in the diabetes community and her wealth of knowledge has helped so many T1Ds and their families.
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’ve been preparing this heartfelt episode for quite some time, and after months of research and polling friends & family, I am thrilled to announce Patreon, a phenomenal and trusted membership platform. All of the Real Life Diabetes podcast episodes will remain free, but members will receive perks. There are five tiers – all of which are affordable so I hope you will take a moment to check it out.
I’m packing up the Subaru and heading to Joplin, Missouri to attend the Stick It To Diabetes fundraiser hosted my the Mercy Foundation. What better way to bring PWD together than a happy hour? Continue reading →
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.
My adventure to Arkansas, as one of the first Real Life Diabetes “taking the show on the road”, was a smashing success. This couple had me tearing up within the first hour and laughing out loud at the same time. They were welcoming, kind, a ton of fun and not scared to share very personal stories of living, as a couple, with Type 1 diabetes.
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.
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.
Kate Hall, is like many of us in the diabetes community – unstoppable and she decided early on that Type 1 diabetes won’t keep her from pursuing her dreams. She is an inspiration to us all and does a phenomenal job sharing her story on the road to becoming a 2020 Olympian.
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 →
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 →
Michael Bliss wrote a book calledThe Discovery of Insulin in the early eighties – I read it just before I left for Ukraine. It was terrifying and heartbreaking to learn the stories of T1Ds before insulin, and it was fascinating and enraging to learn about diabetes research, past and present. I have always wondered about the world, and knowing Peace Corps’ medical rules, I wondered about how T1Ds in Ukraine and elsewhere lived. Continue reading →
Recently I returned from a whirlwind trip to Washington DC, where I advocated for Type 1 Diabetes with folks from all over the U.S. Our primary mission was to garner support from our state’s (Oklahoma) senators and representatives for the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program, and to cover the JDRF stance on the ACA. I was blown away by many aspects of the trip, and would like to share with you my top 10 takeaways, in countdown form. Continue reading →
Type 1 diabetes is one of the few diseases that needs to be micromanaged on a daily basis, 24 hours, 7 days a week. There is no holiday, time away, or opportunity to hand over control to someone else for a while.
When you have a personality like mine, this means becoming almost obsessed with the daily management tasks of living with type 1 diabetes. This has many benefits, no doubt: great control, predictable BGLs, and a HbA1c below 6%. Continue reading →
I arrived in Ukraine with my life packed into two suitcases (one of which was half filled with medical supplies). My first stop as a Peace Corps trainee was an old sanitarium just outside the capital city of Kyiv. There, my group of volunteers had a few buffer days in which Peace Corps became real: we learned which language we would study, where our 10-week language and job training would take place, which other volunteers would be in our 4-5 person training ‘cluster’, and we filled out a lot of paperwork. This is also where I had to decide how and to whom I would tell about my diabetes. Continue reading →
I was diagnosed with type 1 when I was thirteen. Shortly after, a fellow traveler broke it down for me: you can either control your diabetes or you can let it control you. A rabble rouser froma young age, I decided quickly that if those were my choices, I’d choose option A. At the time, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to make that decision each day, but gradually it helped me develop a personality trait I see in a lot of folks with type 1: we love a challenge, and we love to prove people wrong. When I decided to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, I went into it with that same bullheaded mentality that had been an almost constant companion since diagnosis. Continue reading →
Don’t they always say that Instagram brings people together? Actually, no, we’ve never heard anybody say that, but the rule applies when you’re vegan and have type 1 diabetes. Amy McKinnon, an Aussie originally, quit her job a few months back to explore the world, traveling the likes of Cuba, Peru, Mexico, and Ecuador. She and Ryan “met” on Instagram, probably while admiring each other’s photos of papaya or something strange of the sort. She too has felt the transformative power of a plant-based diet and joined us to share her own experiences with a vegan lifestyle. For fun—and honestly we mean this—she loves to go for casual 10 mile jogs. If you’ve ever been intrigued with the marathon running life but aren’t sure how to get started, she’ll tell us how to make it happen. Continue reading →
I’m always down for a road trip so when I was invited to Austin to share Thanksgiving with new friends, I starting packing my bags. I met Lisa and her family in Hawaii and spent a number of evenings with the Thomas family. I even attended her daughter’s wedding, so driving a few hours for Thanksgiving was a no-brainer.
As the departure date approached, I felt the anxiety creep in. I was excited to see everyone, but nervous to spend 72 hours in someone’s home I barely knew. We had discussed my diabetes so they were familiar with me testing my BG and shooting up, but a wave of insecurity came over me.
(Ryan is not currently scanning the coast but the pathophysiology of asthma. Authored July 2015.)
Let it be known: I am not a real surfer, yet. Can I swim? Aptly enough. Can I catch a wave? Yes. Can I stand up? Occasionally. Can I turn? Sure.
That said, as I scan a nice break off the coast of Maui, humbled is my main qualification. Surfing is an art honed through decades of work in salty water, watching the sun rise and descend on opposite horizons, all on the same day. I have observed real surfers. Those who are the art and the religion–no separation between their body and the waves, riding the earth’s energy. Gorgeous stuff.
Having paddled out now over 30 times, blood sugar themes do their emerging thing, and I know what to expect. In many ways, I’ve found surfing to be a simpler, more-straightforward cause and effect relationship between movement and glucose levels (compared to running or cycling). Continue reading →
A monumental girl’s weekend was being planned and while on hold with The Westin Stonebriar Hotel & Golf Club, the recording boasted superfood options. It made me think – is this just another marketing ploy? After traveling extensively over the past couple of months, I’ve picked up a few buzz-words hotels and resorts are using to lure guests.
I dropped my bags at the door and couldn’t wait to do a little investigating. What were they offering and how were they marketing it to the general public? Low and behold, the first page of the In-Dining Menu options read, “Maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road with our nutrient-rich and delicious SuperFoodsRx™ dishes. The following page actually listed 25+ super foods with a brief description.
All in all, Amber and Ryan were pumped to cross paths on the island of Maui and share their traveling journeys to date. How do each of them deal with airport security? What do they eat in airports? Snacks? You know they both had snacks. At the time, Ryan had been on Maui for a month, mainly combing beaches and pretending to be a surfer. Amber focused on socializing in every happy hour across the island for two weeks. She breaks down the Hawaiian culture and cuisine, while he gives us insight into managing blood sugar while surfing. Continue reading →
The DDG has been all over the map in the past year and documented a few less than desirable moments to say the least. As I embarked on my journey to Hawaii, I was not prepared for life’s little hiccups. I’m sharing a few scenarios and how I handled the “Oh Sh*t” diabetes moments while on the road.
You get carsick because your friend and DDG partner in crime thinks he’s speed racer.
TIP: Feel free to curse at him (a slight punch in the arm is acceptable), burp out loud and chug some water. Should you need to throw up, you might consider doing so in your driver’s lap.
Now that I say the word “tester” aloud–not positive of its use by most people to describe their glucose meter–but alliteration always wins, thus testers will suffice in the title. In a recent podcast episode with my parents, we discussed how many testers have disappeared over my 26 years of existence. I think I’m approaching triple digits.
Whether it be OneTouch, Precision, Bayer, or Freestyle, I will part ways with no attachment to brand. During the college years, the pharmacist at Walmart knew who I was, not by my prescriptions (those resided at Walgreens), but by how many of these I purchased.
The natural question to ask is why? It’s most likely a multi-factorial problem but this is my guess list of most likely causes: Continue reading →
Aloha. I arrived on the beautiful island of Maui a few days ago and adore the Hawaiian culture. As I’ve ventured out exploring different parts of the island, I’m amazed by the diversity within a few square miles (desert vs. rain forest like conditions, rocky vs. sandy beaches), but one thing is consistent – SPAM. I was shocked when I stumbled across SPAM on the center aisle in Target which inspired me to do some research. I hope you enjoy a few interesting facts about this “mystery meat” and the theory as to why it’s so popular here in Hawaii.
Ingredients – Pork & ham shoulder, salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar and sodium nitrate. (YUM!)
Traveling is tough, especially on us creatures of habit. Time zone switches, varying sleep schedules, and new cuisine all introduce subtle changes that cause big swings in blood sugar. Most of us live on routine. I’ve noticed that expectations are the root of most of my blood sugar suffering. I can’t believe my blood sugar’s high. This sucks. So, maybe we should believe it?…
In order to alter expectations and thus be present for the joy of experiencing a new place, I’ve learned to institute these terms during any trip:
1)Spontaneity is the priority
Instead of the focus being on controlling your sugar, gear your focus toward being ready for anything. The goal is to be free to live in the moment. The only way to be in that place is to test my blood sugar frequently, have insulin around, and carry a snack.
I hope Medtronic doesn’t read this post. Why? I think I’m going to surf with my pump attached this summer.
The story starts back with a New Year’s Resolution. Upon waking on the first day of 2015, I knew I had to surf this year. Not sure why. Didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I could feel the ambition. It was a true one. Now 6 months later, I’m kicking it in Hawaii with no agenda… but to surf. That’s it.
The board and I got in the water for the first time yesterday. As I stood there ready on the beach, I looked down and saw my tubing. In less than 30 seconds, I knew that I had to take it into the water. Well, had probably isn’t the best description of the choice, but a choice was made. The car was a long walk back. I wanted to keep the sugar in a good range. The beach was pretty crowded with limited shrubs for hiding. I had no flip flops or shirt to disguise it under. I’m, after all, on an island pretty far away from backup resources, like a spare pump.
It’s the weekend, it’s sunny (or snowy in our case), and you decide to take off on a last-second, afternoon adventure. You haven’t prepared, but it’s too perfect of an opportunity to pass up. What’s an insulin-dependent to do? Go for it! In an effort to simplify the process and get us outdoors quickly, I’ve put together the list of hiking essentials:
This really should go without saying, but it’s important for two reasons.
1) The right hiking shoe avoids any kind of blister issues that get endocrinologists all hot and bothered.
2) A comfortable shoe increases joy while hiking, especially while coming down the mountain, exponentially.
I love all of Merrell’s products. Extremely comfortable. Wearing this hiking/running low-profile pair for shorter hikes or camping has worked great.
You just never know when that “little afternoon adventure” will turn into the “holy shit I think we’re actually lost” moment. Pack some water, everytime. More than you think you need. On longer bike rides and hikes I go with the endurance oriented Camelbak system here:
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!
Let’s talk about Spring Break. I can feel it. I know you can too. It’s starting to warm up. Winter is fading away, well, for me because I live in Oklahoma, not Minnesota, and it’s trip taking time. Spring break is doable with diabetes. No doubt. Being out of college, I now look back fondly on the naivety of previous trips, filled with great memories and great luck. That being just said, here are my tips on how to not only survive spring break, but make it one for the ages.
Bring your glucagon kit
You know that red thing with a prescription label on it, probably in the back of your fridge? Either grab it, or pick up a new one at the pharmacy because that one in the fridge expired 3 years ago. Continue reading →
As I’ve recently posted about diabetes related, travel debacles, I wanted to start your Monday morning with a positive travel experience. I’m not bragging, but I’m lucky enough to visit dear friends each January in San Antonio who own what used to be called a “bed & breakfast”. King William Manor no longer serves breakfast, but Craig & Alison are a wealth of knowledge as to local places to visit depending on our preferred diet. They listen and sincerely care about your health problems or restricted dietary needs and offer a variety of options within walking distance. Should you not want to walk you can rent a bike or grab a pedicab. For those of you who travel – you NEED to make the King William Manor a future travel destination.
New restaurants and shops are popping up all the time in this historic arts district, but there are a few local venues you don’t want to miss. Continue reading →
Mid-august has arrived. Summer is holding on for dear-life. The chance for one last adventure looms. Us Oklahomans just spent a week on the Carolina coast, a place unfamiliar to the land-locked. Sun was had, drinks were guzzled, laughs were aplenty, and diabetes subtly influenced it all.
While out by the water, mostly drowning in an attempt to body-surf, we came up with 6 sure-fire ways to live it up on the beach with insulin-dependence: Continue reading →
The DDG has officially embarked on our first road trip. We set out for Emerald Isle, North Carolina somewhat early last Sunday. Ryan’s car was packed to the rooftop with Amber’s ridiculous luggage (ample amount of clothing and shoes for any social situation) and Ryan’s athletic crap (bike, camping gear, etc.) The one thing that both DDG’ers combined their efforts on included groceries, LOTS of groceries. We packed fresh fruit & veggies, nuts, trail mix, blue corn chips, salsa, hummus, some weird vegan stuff , cashew butter, good beer and red wine. North Carolina here we come!!! Continue reading →