I Didn’t Want To Know You

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-7-11-51-pmToday is November 1st, the kick-off of Diabetes Awareness Month. This month means many different things to many different people. And I’m realizing today that it means something very different to me than it used to.

Sarah Lucas from Beyond Type 1 and a crew from Omnipod were ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ this evening, so I ran over to Times Square to see Henry’s face the size of a skyscraper. When I popped up out of the subway and rounded the corner on Broadway, I looked up… and immediately started to cry.

I sort of surprised myself. WTF? Why are my eyes leaking? Is it because as a (sort of) New Yorker I have just found myself in the middle of our collective nightmare aka Times Square?  No, that wasn’t it. Besides, I had plans to treat myself to Sephora after. It also wasn’t because I felt sad, or angry that diabetes awareness month even has to exist 94 years after artificial insulin was because there still isn’t a cure…

It was because 11 years ago when I was thrown on to this insane, diabetic roller coaster, I wouldn’t have even known who Henry was. I would have never given Beyond Type 1 a chance. And I certainly wouldn’t have gone to Times Square to be a part of it. Back then, absolutely not one person that I knew or cared to know, spoke my new language. And I didn’t speak the existing language of the disease. But here I was, a decade later, staring up at it in giant flashing pixels, 15 stories high in the center of the universe.

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Yes, this is high school graduation. My diabetes was exactly 1 year old in this photo.

When I was diagnosed, though surrounded by amazing friends and supportive family, I was the loneliest Libby I had ever been (which is saying some thing, because I was [artificially] emo as all hell at that age.) I was the only person who knew what it was like to feel my version of a low blood sugar. I was the only person who knew the sting of a cold Lantus shot under my skin. No one knew how much extra effort I was exerting to push through an afternoon high when I had deadlines breathing down my back. No one knew the anxiety of playing a full 45 minute half of soccer without any clue what my blood sugar was. Or the embarassment of having to pee every rest stop when I was first figuring out what “blood sugars” even were.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-11-29-34-amNo one knew the fear that came with hiding my brand new insulin pump in my night stand so guys wouldn’t ask questions I didn’t know how to answer yet. No one knew the frustration when I was helplessly late for class or work because an inexplicable blood sugar incident held me back 15 minutes in time, and 15 universes in cognitive presence. No one understood my rationale for developing a serious aversion and later anxiety of staff meetings and long lines at TJ Maxx because of one bad low. No one knew how maddening it was to be told, “sorry, no more refills” on a prescription you pay out the ass for, but need to survive a mere 4 hours, when, at the counter to your right a guy is picking up his $1 pain pills for f*cking a headache.

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When I was first diagnosed, the nurse said, “go into the bathroom and stay in there until you’re brave enough to give yourself a shot.” I said, “K…” I was in there for what felt like 16 days.

For the longest time, I played the loner card. But I wanted it that way. I chose to be alone.

 

For the first 6 years of having diabetes, I didn’t want to be associated with the world behind it. Like, AT ALL. I was 17, I was popular enough to be easily embarrassed by change. I didn’t like talking to doctors. I didn’t want an insulin pump. I wanted to drink Jungle Juice at frat parties and sleep until 1PM on the weekends. I hated the thought of sacrificing my budding college social life just because my pancreas decided to kick the bucket before school even started. Sure, I did JDRF walks, but if you look back through photos, I a had a very fake smile on my face…”It’s for the kids!” I would tell myself, “I’m doing the right thing!” But I’d stand around at those walks, staring off in to space, surrounded by incredibly supportive friends and family, but feeling like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Big. Unwelcome. And Misunderstood.

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Shoutout to  my coworker Michelle Dimuzio for my OG logo

Fast forward 4 years, one nasty bad break up, one college degree, and a new summer internship later. It was time for a change. I was so tired of the language barrier. Was there REALLY not one other “normal” 22-year-old diabetic girl in the world?

So one morning, I picked up my laptop, I opened a WordPress account, and I started The Sugars.

 

11 years ago, I didn’t know any of you. And trust me, I didn’t want to know any of you. I thought you were all aliens. I thought you were boring. I thought you all wore padded socks from Walgreens and only ate butter substitutes and sugar-free Jelly. I thought you were all afraid to travel and that you all worked at non-profits. I thought you were all socially awkward, and didn’t drink alcohol or eat bread. It makes me sound like a real bitch, but again, I blame the language barrier. No one spoke what I spoke, and what was being disseminated to me could not possibly have strayed me farther away from reality.

IMG_7242.JPGNow at age 28, I’ve never been prouder to be  “associated” with anyone. I’ve never enjoyed the company of and conversation with any other community more than my fellow diabetic buddies. I’ve learned so much from every single one of you. We understand each other. And because of the supportive nature of this language that we all speak, I’ve accepted that diabetes is not a death sentence at all, it’s actually a life sentence.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-11-45-49-amBecause I finally cracked the language barrier, I’ve been able to reinvested so much positivity into myself that I never had before you. And for that, I am incredibly grateful. I’m truly sorry for all of those years that I avoided and misunderstood you. For assuming that because I didn’t ask to be a part of your world, that your world was a horrible, scary, flavorless place. I’m sorry for thinking you’d ruin me, or make me less capable. I’m sorry for assuming that you all wore gross socks. That was particularly rude of me. I am so glad that after all the horrible things I thought and misconceived, you still embraced and let me in. I didn’t want to know you. But now because I know you, I actually know myself.

NOW (ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE A PERSON WITHOUT DIABETES), GO HUG SOMEBODY WITH DIABETES, THEY PROBABLY REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY NEED YOU AND WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT EVEN IF YOU DON’T SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE, YOU’RE AT LEAST WILLING TO BE THERE. 

Support Poppy Medical

Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 9.55.08 AM.pngYou guys know my deal: if it’s clinical, get it outta here. If it makes me feel like a victim, I don’t want it. If it makes me feel ugly, omg get away from me. But this, THIS, ladies and gentlemen…is what the world needs.

Poppy Medical, a jewelry design start-up founded by fellow T1D, Sarah Harmon, has the mission to make the over 50% of Americans with a life-threatening condition feel empowered to take their own safety and health into their own hands. These bracelets are
chic, simple, elegant, classy, subtle, and timeless. But most of all, they’re something that I would want to wear every day.

There are plenty of great medical ID companies that work just fine for some people. But because I fall into an awkwardly ignored age group, and a particularly picky demographic, until Poppy, I didn’t feel compelled to invest in anything.

So thank you, Sarah, for being brave enough to tackle a project this big. You’ve taken a big risk, are standing up for something so admirable, and your energy to change the landscape is very much appreciated and understood.

If you are able to in any way, PLEASE consider backing Poppy’s Kickstarter campaign. It’s time to get these bad boys produced (right here in the US-of-A!) and available to all the peeps probably banging on Sarah’s door to get these out on the market.

Thank you!

#MeFirstMonday with Grace Bonney

Internet, I’d like you to me meet Grace.gardening copy.jpg Some of you may know her by a little website called Design*Sponge, or by her book, Design*Sponge at Home, or maybe by her other book, In The Company of Women.

But despite many of her high profile “known for’s”, over the last few months, what I’ve come to learn about Grace, is that her energy radiates through everything – even just an email. She comes across as the warmest, most open person. She makes time for people. She is hysterical. And her entrepreneurial spirit is a force to be reckoned with.

Oh, and on top of all that, she’s a Type 1 Diabetic.

Grace’s professional life is one that I’ve become particularly obsessed with. She runs shit. And has always run shit. But she does so in a sweet, kind, and funny way that I’m totally, and utterly inspired by. When she and I spoke the first few times, she would respond to emails within the hour. Come to find out, she’s right in the middle of launching her new book. Like, WHO HAS TIME FOR EMAILS FROM STRANGERS at that time. She’s clearly a very considerate and thoughtful gal, and in my opinion, embodies the essence of what #MeFirstMonday is all about.

Grace has a very unique story. Unlike my last #MeFirstMonday lady boss friend, Liz, Grace has only had diabetes for about 10 months. So she is experiencing the very strange, and at times very painful process of absorbing the new and extremely confusing health challenge into her already very established adult life. She’s gone through roller coaster emotions, both crippling and enlightening, but where she seems to be focusing her energy now, is what makes her so special: acceptance. Here’s a conversation with Grace.



Alright. Hi Grace! Can you describe yourself in a sentence or short blurb for me?

13320612_10156955581570111_3146331906929642240_oI’m a Virginian-turned-New Yorker who writes and blogs from the Rondout Valley region of New York. I spend most of my days working alongside my wife, who is an amazing cook and cookbook writer, and our three pets. 

Sounds insanely peaceful. But you’re a pretty well known lady! For those who aren’t as familiar with your work, what do you do for a living?

Right after college I started a design blog, called Design*Sponge, because I wasn’t happy in my regular day job. I didn’t know blogs could be a “real” job, so after writing for a few print magazines and watching them all (sadly) close, I decided to throw myself into Design*Sponge full time. I used to write mainly about product design, but these days the majority of my blogging is about the people behind those designs- and their homes.  

Who knew blogging could be a real job! (…ugh, maybe someday for me.) I absolutely love Design*Sponge, and spend a lot of time on the page that tells me it’s okay to fail, and that when my life feels flipped upside down not to freak the F out. You know the one…

Anyway, enough about me! What do you do for fun outside of your professional life?

hiking-with-the-dogs-copyWe moved from Brooklyn to the Rondout Valley before I was diagnosed with Type 1, but I had already begun feeling a really strong pull to get out of the city and into the fresh air. So these days I try to spend as much of my non-work life walking with our dogs anywhere outside. We live really close to Lake Minnewaska and a few state parks, so when we get the chance I try to spend time there and give my eyes a break from screens. But to be totally honest, I also really (really) love TV. I try not to watch it as often as I used to, but I devour just about every type of TV show, from Modern Family to Narcos

A girl after my own heart. Puppers + water…do you really need anything else? Even after moving out of Brooklyn, though, both you and your wife have pretty demanding work schedules. What’s one thing you do for yourself to stay sane? 

I’ve gotten a lot better at, politely, saying “No” to things. It’s pretty simple, but it took me about 30 years to realize that I had built my world-view around what other people needed from me. I could be exhausted, but if someone emailed me and needed help or advice at midnight, I would stay up to do that.

When I was diagnosed, it felt like the universe tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Hey, you weren’t listening before, but now I’m going to show you that you HAVE to slow down and take care of yourself.” 

Not saying that over-working caused my diabetes, but it does feel like part of a bigger reminder to prioritize myself and my health. 

OH MY GOD, YES. IT TAKES SO LONG TO LEARN HOW TO SAY “NO”. (Ask everyone I know). It’s an insanely important thing to figure out that saying declining plans and commitments is actually one of the most positive things you can do for yourself. Period. Aside from learning what you need most from yourself, what do you love the most about yourself?

getting-married-copyMy resilience. I’ve been through a lot of huge life changes over the past 5 years, and each one has felt like a mountain I wasn’t sure I could climb. But slowly and surely I made it over the top of each one (with a lot of help) and I feel really proud of that. I totally (I mean, completely) disintegrated when I was diagnosed and letting myself have those months to cry, fall apart and grieve were a really important part of moving forward. I’ve realized that letting go, giving in and feeling things is really necessary to being able to bounce back and move on.

Grieving is such a perfect word to use in this context. When you were diagnosed, life as you knew it would be forever changed. I’m such a firm believer in how crucial it is to go through the process of embracing that. Whatever helps you feel able to accept things and move forward, boo yeah, do that! 

So now that the word diabetes has been thrown in to this conversation. When were you diagnosed with diabetes? 

I was diagnosed in January of this year (2016). I had started feeling sick the previous November but had every doctor in my life tell me I was just “overworked” and “needed to relax”. But I knew something was wrong. After basically forcing my way into a doctor’s appointment, I was tested for everything under the sun (MS, a heart problem, West Nile, Lyme) and they discovered that my A1C was 14. They mis-diagnosed me with Type 2 and a month later, thanks to some encouragement from my friend Sara (whose son, Henry, has Type 1), I asked to be re-tested for the antibodies and found out I actually had Type 1.

I’m still so new to all of this, so right now I would say Type 1 is a big percentage of my daily thoughts and life. Like 50%? But that’s progress for me. January-May it was easily 100%. I read a lot of scary things in books and online (I know, never do that!) and was convinced I was going to die in 10 years and lose my chance to do so many big things I wanted to do, like start a family. But since getting my Dexcom and getting a GREAT endocrinologist, I feel calmer and more in control. 

Holy shit, I am so glad you followed your intuition! Sometimes I think we’re our own best doctors, to be honest. Not that we can treat or cure our selves. (Although I’m a big fan of weird at-home remedies…) But we always know best what we feel. I’m so impressed that you pushed so hard to get an answer you knew was right. I guess that’s one advantage of being diagnosed later in your life. You are able to articulate what you were experiencing and you knew in your heart/gut when the problem was being solved or not. 

Now that you’re almost a year in, what type of diabetes stuff do you use to manage everything? 

running-a-5k-copyRight now my only tech is my Dexcom and an Apple Watch I splurged on to wear during workout classes so I’m not constantly running back to the counter to see if I’m going too low. Figuring out how to balance carbs, insulin and strength training has been a tough challenge so I try to keep an eye on my numbers during class since they tend to swing a lot. It was hard to adjust to wearing something on my body all the time, so I think I’m going to focus on getting used to all of this this year and consider a pump next year.

I got to see Craig Stubing’s (from Beta Cell Podcast) Omnipod last month and I was delightfully surprised that it was much smaller than I thought. I guess I’d only ever seen them on kids before, and they look much bigger on a tiny child’s arm. But for now, I’m super tight with my Luxura Humalog pen 😉

It took me 6 years to commit to a pump, so I commend you for taking your time and feeling out the process. I think you were super smart to go Dexcom first. I’ve learned so much from this thing, and now when I don’t have it on or it’s not working, I’m like UMMM HOW DO I DIABETES? 

Getting this diagnosis was a lot for you to process. Like, wind right out of your sails, lay on the floor and cry type of “a lot”. But you seem to be on the up and up! What do you do to keep a healthy relationship with yourself and with your diabetes? 

I’m still learning, but I honestly think getting a Dexcom made all the difference. I didn’t feel like I had any understanding of how, when and why my numbers would drop and getting that device to help me predict and prevent anything too scary made a huge difference. 

I grew up with an eating disorder and, at first, managing numbers and watching every damn thing I ate was a major trigger. So I went back into therapy to talk through a lot of things and that was really helpful. I remember telling my therapist that I wanted to just have one session one day where it wasn’t all about diabetes. And then one day a few months ago that started happening, and it was a really nice milestone to realize I was starting to reclaim my life and my identity a bit more. Now I try to remember that things will never be perfect and that accepting that some days will just suck is ok. 

A big scary trigger, indeed. I feel like the mental health, body image, and relationship with food elements of diabetes are something we keep a little too quiet sometimes. I can’t imagine how hard that was for you, and love that you put your foot down to find a way back to a meaningful conversation that made you feel stronger. Thank the lawwwd above, whoever she is, for therapy, man.

kayaking-with-friends-copyYou seem, despite the whole diabetes bomb drop last January, like a totally upbeat, light hearted person. Do you think that getting diagnosed with diabetes has actually taught you any positive lessons? 

Man, if this isn’t one huge lesson in patience and staying present, I don’t know what is. I was the world’s most impatient person, always with 10 million things going at once in my brain. But now I literally have no choice but to stop, slow down and pay attention to what’s happening right now

I still feel like I have something always running in the back of my brain (whoever said diabetes was like getting a full time job you didn’t sign up for- and don’t get paid for- was right on), but it’s helped me realize that I need to cut back on what isn’t important and focus on what is: my health, my family and enjoying my life as much as possible.

I guess they call patience a virtue for a reason. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s helped me slow down and asses then problem solve so much better than I was ever able to before. Especially with Dex! What a pal.

It sounds like you’re really good at surrounding yourself with other warrior-types. Are there any people that you keep in your happiness toolkit that make living with diabetes easier for you? If so, how do they make it better for you?

Honestly? You. (Um wut, I’m crying now, thanks.) We don’t know each other well and have never met in person, but I know how it can be when people feel like they know (at least a part of) you when you share your life online and when I found your Instagram feed I felt like I’d finally found a friend who understood me.

I fell into a really intense group of T1 people on Facebook when I was first diagnosed and their level of scrutiny and intensity wasn’t a positive influence on me. It’s totally ok, that’s their thing, but I needed to have more role models or examples of healthy, happy people living with T1.

You and your feed have been that for me in such a huge way. My wife follows your feed now and is always showing me your Dex jokes. “New site, who dis?”, gets her every time. 

Okay, now I’m blushing. I’m so glad we found each other! I ignored everyone with diabetes for almost 8 years because I was so unwilling to consider myself a part of that “community”. Now that I’ve finally given in, the world seems a little more colorful.  There is SUCH a cool collection of people to associate myself with now, that have changed my life and outlook significantly. I’m happy you’re no longer feeling frightened by the “intense” types on the interwebs, and instead uplifted by the hooligans like me that are addicted to Instagram.

Now that you’re a pro at this. What ONE piece of advice would you give someone who was just diagnosed, so that they could feel empowered to punch diabetes right in the face?

Find a friend, online or in person, who has T1. They will be your lifeline, your connection to new information and powerful tools and the reminder everyone needs that this is just something we live with. I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to people online like my friends Sara, Anastasia and Caroline who have shared their first-hand experience of living with T1. I can email and text them embarrassing questions and it makes me feel more like ME again.

Also, find a good doctor that makes you feel confident and will stay on top of advances. My heart breaks every time I read something on a FB group about someone’s doctor who knows NOTHING about T1 and leads them astray- or leaves them without any tools to live a normal life.

Having a good doctor on your side makes a world of difference. I had to pretty pushy and went through 3 doctors before I found mine and I’m so glad I overlooked my worries of appearing “difficult” to get where I needed to be.

 That’s amazing advice. Where were you 12 years ago when I was a pouty teenager getting this news?!

As someone who lived most of their life without diabetes, your perspective has likely shifted pretty significantly. If you could give a message to the people in this world who don’t have diabetes, what would you want them to learn now that you’re on the other side of it?


That, like any part of a person’s identity, this is something that is better to ask about and listen to- not assume you know or understand. If there’s one thing I’ve heard universally from people I’ve met with T1, it’s how frustrating it can be to be blamed for somehow causing our disease or having told fake cures shoved down our throats. So basically, please stop telling us you know about a pill/treatment/herb that will “cure” us. 

Preach. Like, NO MORE CINNAMON SUGGESTIONS PLEASE.

So, back to Design*Sponge. You’re a brilliant writer, design lover, creator, and entrepreneur…if there’s one thing you could do to rebrand diabetes and market it differently to the world, how would you do it? 

How much time do you have? (Muahaha, seriously….) For starters, some cuter gear cases would be great. Myabetic has some great designs, especially if you’re someone who wears a purse, but I’d love to see some sleeker more gender-neutral styled cases with patterns, different materials or textures. I’d of course probably get blood on some cool suede kit and ruin it, but I wouldn’t mind having the option to have something a little more design forward. I keep wishing Uniqlo or some brand that does cool modern neutrals would tackle diabetes equipment. (Love that.)

Also, maybe cooler patterns and colors for Grif Grips? I usually need to tape things up during my 2nd week of my Dexcom sensor, and while I loved the hot pink at first, I wouldn’t mind something in that felt more fun, without being made for kids. Kids have some awesome options, but I’m always looking for something a little more design forward. 

That has been my shtick for years. Everything felt like it was for kiddos, and when it was marketed for adults, it was so clinical I couldn’t stand it. I’m so grateful for Myabetic and the companies that are trying with all their might to make it work as a fashion-forward brand for these things, but I totally understand the limitations. Some day we won’t even need diabetes stuff and none of this will even matter anymore, right?!


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So there you have it, folks. The one and only Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge. Her ability to stay true to the person she’s worked so hard to create after having this bullsh*t diagnosis thrown her way is amazing. Grace’s story is a grounding reminder that a career path doesn’t have to be a straight road, that relationships are the most important thing we have, and that allowing ourselves to grieve completely in the face of change is the only way we’ll ever save up the strength to push forward. Thank you so much for being a part of #MeFirstMonday!


Be sure to check out Grace’s new and INSANELY COOL book, In The Company Of Women, and be on the lookout for her signing events around the country!

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Someone Else’s Day

 

One of my biggest fears as a “person with diabetes”, is causing a scene because my blood sugar has decided to ride the express train downtown into the the core of the earth. Over the years, I’ve gone through ebbs and flows where I develop this really intense anxiety about being “that guy” that does something so disruptive, it causes an entire room to gasp, and stare, and point, inevitably call 9-1-1, and then look at me for the rest of time like I have a weakness. (No one is allowed to know that!!!)

14317333_10207743010992769_3474481206897459092_n.jpgSo naturally, when my best friend since childhood got engaged and subsequently planned the most stunning wedding of the century, I panicked a little. The whole shebang had a lot of firsts for me. And firsts for diabetics can be alarming things. Not only was I a first-time bridesmaid, but a first time bridesmaid at a 4 day affair, with people I’d known my entire life, at a traditional, 45+ minute ceremony where I’d have to stand in front of roughly 200 familiar faces while being silent, still, and calm with a radiant smile on my face, watching my glowing friend say her vows to the man of her dreams.

I was a ball of emotions. I went from anxious, to terrified, to pissed off that I couldn’t be anything other than over the moon, to over the moon, then back to anxious.

This wedding was like my own personal Super Bowl. The girl that was getting married is the kind of friend that doesn’t miss a single beat, and that acts cool as a cucumber always, but only because she’s worked so hard to wrinkle out details about things like votive placement years in advance. She has the ability to put on such a seamless production, I’m convinced she and Beyoncé have the same people. Not only that, but I have been close with her and her family for exactly 20 years. This was an event that I have dreamed about with her for equally as long, and there was absolutely no way that I was going to tolerate disruptions, interruptions, or any reason to not be able to keep up with her over the course of her nuptial extravaganza. I was going to get this bitch married with the happiest smile on both of our faces if it was the absolute last thing I did.

Not two days before this entire event popped off, I had the worst low of my diabetes career. I sat at my desk sweating and shaking, thinking “OMG WHAT IF THIS HAPPENS ON SATURDAY, SHE’S GOING TO KILL ME AND I’M GOING TO KILL ME AND THEN I’M GOING TO HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE SHAME FOREVER.” Of course, like the guardian angel she is, she texted me concerned after seeing my Instagram post about the gnarly low, showing all the compassion in the world about discovering my frightening incident instead of focusing on her table runners and flower arrangements. But in the back of both of our minds we I’m guessing we were thinking the exact same thing, “LOW BLOOD SUGARS ARE NOT INVITED TO THIS WEDDING.”

So, despite the frightening blip on my track record so close to show time, I did my due diligence to ensure that exactly zero people were aware that one of the bridesmaids was concealing an insulin pump under her layers of chiffon. Or that in the purse under the first chair on the right, closest to the church door,  wasn’t just filled with tissues and mascara, it was stocked with Swedish Fish, KIND bars, and extra test strips. Or that while she was practicing not locking her knees standing with a bouquet in her hands, she was racking her brain to recall the direction of the arrow on her Dexcom that she last saw before entering the church.

It took a little bit (ok, fine, a lot a bit) of preparation. But like any wedding, that’s the key to success. So since I know many of you are in the middle or end of wedding season, here’s how I prepped to keep my diabetes on the DL during someone else’s most important day.

  1. Make a List, Check It Twice
    Write down all the supplies you typically use in a day. Multiply it by 3, call your Rx, and see how much your insurance will let you get away with buying at once. Then pack it all up strategically so that you can carry an entire day’s worth of supplies around with you in your bags so that no matter what happens, you have back up on-deck.
  2. Pretend That A Simple Low Will Literally Stop The World On Its Axis So That If/When It Happens, You’re so OVER Prepared, The World Keeps Spinning Instead
    ALWAYS bring low supplies with you. Everywhere. And not like healthy, good-choice low-supplies. The quick-hit shit: CANDY. JUICE. Whatever works, and works fast. These are the times where I’m simply not willing to sacrifice time and convenience for calories and the long-game. Do whatever it takes. Put some candy in your boyfriend’s suit coat, a friend’s purse, a tote bag in the corner, random spots through the venues you’ll be in (if you think that’s necessary). This way you can detach from all your gadgets and still feel confident that you’re covered in the event that your numbers start to tank.
  3. Talk About It
    I had the luxury of being a part of a wedding party that I knew very well. The bride, and two other bridesmaids had been my roomies for many years, my parents, boyfriend, and brother were at the wedding, as well as all of my high school and many college friends. So I essentially had 45 nurses on deck and ready to act. But sometimes, people need a little reminder. Just voicing that “Hey, guys, I’m bringing a bigger bag to the ceremony cuz I need my shugs shit, anyone need to throw their chapstick in?” Breaks the ice and makes it much less sneaky/awkward that you’re schlepping an extra sack of goodies around with you.
  4. Wear The Dress Beforehand
    Like I typically do to break in high heels, I did a few dry runs with my brides maid dress. I tried it on with all of my strapless bras and my GirlyGo Garter before the big day to see where my pump was most comfortable, and concealed with the dress. I knew it was going to be a really long day, and if I wasn’t happy with the fit of things, it was going to feel like a really long, frustrating day. This also took a lot of the guessing game out of the actual event because I knew what it was all going to feel like when it all came together.
  5. Eat & Drink Water, Especially After Boozing
    Sometimes, being in a wedding can be a bit demanding from a scheduling perspective. But the key to feeling great and having more predictable numbers is CHUGGING EVERY DROP OF WATER YOU FIND, and squeezing in some nutrient-rich, high protein stuff. With all the activity and racing around, plus the false highs caused by adrenaline spikes, you can find yourself in a really weird place if you don’t pay attention. Also, I tend to wake up in the 70’s if I’ve been drinking and go to bed without eating. Now is not the time to sleep through lows, so make sure you eat something, or adjust your night-time basals if you’re worried you’ll dip in your sleep.
  6. Pick A Hooch, And Stay With It
    As we’ve recently discovered, a glass or two of white wine seems to mysteriously help lower blood sugar (#Science), but I’ve never been to a wedding where I’ve had only a glass or two of anything. When it comes to boozing at weddings, try to stick to one type of drink. Consistency really helps me when it comes to metabolizing the alcohol, specifically the sugar in the alcohol, and it ESPECIALLY helps me with my hangover the next day. The less switcharoo-ing I do, the better the next day is. I also get bad lows when I’m hungover, and absolutely not one person on this earth has the time or energy to be BOTH of those God awful things.
  7. Time your Tests
    When you’re tearing up the dance floor or draining the bar/catching up with old friends, you often forget to check or test. This is when I made the rule for myself that bathroom runs = Dexcom check-ins. This way I’m at least checking in every hour or two, and I don’t have to worry that by being super active or socially distracted I’m not missing a low or a crazy spike.
  8. Give Yourself A Break
    A wedding weekend COULD NOT be farther away from reality than really any other event. If your numbers aren’t a steady 112 the whole time, who cares! As long as you’re not feeling sick or your energy levels are shot from combating highs and lows the whole time, it’s really okay! The most important thing is that you’re present, having a good time, and making the dance floor your biatch.

Beyond Type 1 + Revlon Love Is On

Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 10.26.31 AM.pngHowdy Ho, Amigos!

For the next 6 weeks, I am trying to raise as much money as possible for Beyond Type 1 in the Revlon Love Is On Million Dollar Challenge. 

What is this challenge?
An online fundraising competition! Over 100 charities will be competing for a big fat check of $1 million from Revlon. These charities are predominately geared towards women’s health in an effort to advance technology and access, and show compassion towards all the ladies out there. The organization that raises the most money by the end of October will receive the grand prize from Revlon.  I am raising money specifically for Beyond Type 1 and their amazing portfolio of awesome organizations.

What is Beyond Type 1?
BT1 is not your average diabetes organization. It’s not a platform to promise a cure or sensationalize what having diabetes is like. It’s an organization that is harvesting an insanely cool community filled with inspiring human beings determined to simultaneously make people with diabetes the coolest on the planet, while also making diabetes disappear forever. I really believe in this organization, and am representing them as a global ambassador. They have a really unique financial structure that allows them to put all funds donated directly towards their portfolio of cutting edge causes they support. Those causes are:

  • The Human Trial – Diabetes Documentary currently in production
  • The Diabetes Research Institute – The first team of researchers to have successfully transplanted healthy islet cells on the surface of the omentum.
  • Nightscout A foundation created for diabetes data “in the Cloud” that’s accessible to parents with Type 1 children.
  • Marjorie’s Fund – A non-profit providing resources and education to diabetics in poor and rural areas 
  • Tidepool – An open-sourced non-profict building a secure and comprehensive platform for diabetes data.
  • T1D International – Working on a global scale, this organization is dedicated to securing insulin and diabetes supplies for those who can’t afford it.
  • Riding On Insulin – An organization that offers action sport camps (such as skiing and snowboarding) to kids and teens with Type 1
  • Viacyte – The leader in regenerative medicine, researching pancreatic beta cell replacement therapy.

Do I get free makeup if I donate?
Unfortunately, no (darn.) But at the end of the challenge, I will be sending giveaways to my biggest donors with both Beyond Type 1 and The Sugars swag! I’ll also be doing a full takeover on Sunday, September 18th to boost funds even MORE. So stay tuned.

Ok, fine, I’ll fork over some cash. How do I donate?
Visit my crowd rise page here!

I’m confused as hell, but still want to help. Can I email you with my questions?
Suuuuuuuuure! 
My email is ihavethesugars@gmail.com. 

Let’s make it rain!

#MeFirst Monday with Liz

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.59.26 PMWhen I first got my CGM about a year ago, I struggled to embrace yet another doodad clinging to my skin to me to keep me alive. I felt so vulnerable, yet so addicted to it, that I slowly devolved into misery. For the next few months, I fell into a little dark hole of self-loathing, panic, and obsessiveness over my numbers. Suddenly I was so exposed to and aware of what had been invisibly going on in my body for the last 11 years without my constant knowledge, that I was completely overwhelmed by the CONTINUOUSNESS of the continuous. I really did have diabetes, and I had had it all along. But after a meltdown on vacation with my boyfriend’s family, I realized that I was letting all of this get in the way of my fundamental ability to be happy or relax. Not only that, but with time I would come to realize that the CGM was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me.

I wasn’t present, I was pouting.

It was time to stop being such an emo little baby. So, I looked myself in the mirror and made a proclamation that I needed to start putting myself first again. That just because I have a higher level of exposure to my diabetes (and responsibility for tiny, expensive devices), I was still me. I still had a lot of shit to do in my life. I still had a lot of goals and aspirations. I still had trips to go on, and friends to party with. There was absolutely no reason why I needed to surrender to this thing as if the fun police had stormed my body, and shut the scene down with a vengeance. And thus, the #MeFirst movement was born.

With this hashtag, I started to raise awareness for the burnout, lack of focus, and unhealthy distance we create between ourselves and ourselves when diabetes gets in the way, and how to tell that ugly energy to fuck off. I even rambled about it on a Podcast with another diabuddy, Craig Stubing, who runs Beta Cell.

But I am not the only person making a conceded effort to live this way. In fact, most people are doing a hell of a lot better job than I am. So, I’ve decided to dedicate Mondays to these people. Diabetic or not. Maybe they have a different chronic illness, or an injury, or have a unique challenge that as people with diabetes, we can relate to on a very intimate level. I want to share their stories, and help spread the message that no matter who you are, or what hand of cards you’ve been dealt, you can’t just mope your way through life. It’s time to start treating yourself like the queen that you are.
yas

Everyone, I’d like you to meet Liz. 

IMG_4830Liz is the person who made me want to commit to a CGM. Actually, her words were, “Don’t walk, run, to your doctor right now, sleep on their doorstep, and first thing in the morning, beg for a Dexcom.” I was like, “K.” And here we are today.

I met Liz at my favorite spin studio in NYC, The Monster Cycle. She is an instructor there, and after class one day, I noticed that the thing clipped to her pants wasn’t her microphone, it was an insulin pump. I nearly choked on my $4 NYC fitness water/fell off my bike simultaneously. As you all know, spotting another diabetic in the wild is a rare, and exhilarating experience. Let alone someone that was being super public about it, and that had just literally twerked to 90’s hip hop in front of a room of 30+ sweaty people.

I turned into a very bashful, blubbering idiot that had no clue how to handle the situation. What do I do with my face? Do I say hello? What are my hands doing right now?

Fast forward 8 months, and now we’re pals. I finally got over my near crippling social anxiety about speaking to a real live person with diabetes, and am so incredibly glad I did. This woman has a hell of a story. She’s been through more than most of us will ever go through, but it almost seems like she was born with the perfect wiring to turn adversity into something to positive, productive, and outwardly inspiring. She’s a firecracker. She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever met. And she is so madly in love with herself that she is the literal perfect human to dedicate my first #MeFirstMonday to.


Sooooo, Liz, how do you describe yourself to someone you’ve never met?

Small girl, big personality, memorable laugh.  I’ve lived life with a focus on loving as much as possible, taking risks at every opportunity, keeping good health a top priority and using happiness as a filter for every decision. I’m Operations/Marketing exec by day, Cycling instructor by night.  Free time is equal parts fitness and fried chicken.

Overall badass.

(^ This last bit is the most true thing of all time.)



11954606_10153586092384878_1457622314950458287_nWhat do you do for a living? Since, ya know, a girls gotta get that money.
I’m the head of operations and Master Instructor for The Monster Cycle which is a growing Cycling Studio. We’re opening our second location in NYC and then moving outside of the city for the first time in the next few months! I spent the first 15 years of my career in Retail Operations and Experiential Marketing. I’ve always been a fitness instructor on the side. In 2015 I made the decision to quit my comfortable agency executive position to pursue what I am meant to be on this planet for! Helping evangelize and bring fitness experiences to more people.  This fall I’ll begin teaching a Social Commerce class at Parsons to fashion students.


Ok, welllll, the professional living you’re making is my actual dream life. But is there anything else you do you for fun outside of work?
Luckily I’ve found a way to merge my career with my passion.  When not on the bike I’m taking other fitness classes such as Barry’s Bootcamp, yoga and boxing. But let’s be honest, I do this all to compensate for my other hobby, eating.  I love food so much!  Eating out, cooking, reading about food, you name it!  Other activities that take up my time are spending time with friends and family, travel, art/design and when my vocal cords are not strained due to teaching, you’ll find me on the karaoke mic. This white girl can rap!

(^A girl after my own heart. EATING IS LYYYYFE.)


You obviously have a lot going on. You live in the most intense city on earth, and you have a very active, high-energy lifestyle. What’s one thing you do for yourself to keep yourself sane in this loony toon world?
Lists, lists, lists.  I have to be able to be highly productive to be able to find time for relaxation.  You will always find me working on my lists to keep organized and in control.


IMG_0258Okay, now to the juicy questions…

What do you love the most about yourself?
Only one thing? Lol…Fine…

I love my body.  My body has been through a lot.  Broken pancreas, massive hip surgery, removed gallbladder, hemorrhaging vocal cords and recently, a partial mastectomy to remove a tumor from my breasts.  Yet no matter what, it keeps going.

This is part of why fitness is so important to me and what I try to impart in my students. We are building strength on the bike (both physical and mental) to then take into the rest of our lives.  Without my physical and mental strength, it would have been very difficult to get through the challenges my body has experienced let alone the daily demands of life (living in NYC, work travel, etc.).

My goal is to live my best life every day and having a strong body and soul has allowed me to do that.

Damn girl.


So with all of that in mind, how big of a role does having Type 1 diabetes play in your day to day life?

Recently I had an epiphany as I was trying to explain this to a friend who does not have diabetes. 

I don’t go 10 minutes in a day without thinking about and worrying about my health. It really is a unique aspect to the disease. And it’s very hard for anyone who doesn’t have diabetes to understand that.  Every decision, every move, is put through the diabetes filter. What I eat. What I pack in my bag. Do I need to adjust my basal due to anticipated activities?  Why isn’t the number I’m getting matching with my expectation?  And there is always a baseline of fear that never quite goes away.  I live by myself, and although I’ve never had a severe situation where I couldn’t take care of myself, it’s always in the back of my mind.

Regarding teaching cycling classes, there’s a lot of preparation and equal parts just hoping and wishing the numbers will be where I need them to be when class starts.
IMG_3543

My livelihood depends on being able to exercise in front of a crowd which can be daunting when you rely on your blood sugar to be close to perfection to achieve that.

I literally could not function at the level I need to without my Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). Any type 1 diabetic who does NOT have one of these should (1) immediately go get one and (2) switch endocrinologists if their doctor had not yet recommended this as part of their treatment because they clearly are not as cutting edge as they need to be.  I could live without my pump if I had to but I cannot live without my CGM.  And Dexcom is the best!  During classes my monitor is always in front of me so I can keep an eye on both my number and the trending direction.  I play with adjusting down my basal rates before class to come into the workout around 140-150.  For me that’s ideal.  I also try to not have active insulin onboard when I teach, meaning in the mornings I don’t eat anything before class and in the evenings I try to eat at least 3 hours before so my bolus has already run its course.  I always keep pineapple aloe juice with me in class.  I find that this will combat a low sugar but without the spiking that occurs with other types of juice.


Keeping diabetes top of mind with such a demanding fitness schedule can be totally exhausting. What do you do to keep a healthy relationship with yourself and your diabetes when things start to get a lil’ cray cray?

It’s like any long-term relationship. Sometimes we have our good days and sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes I get angry at it and just wish I could have some alone time. But I also recognize the character it has built within me and the attributes it has developed. 

(^Always finding the lesson in the mess. Preach, sister.)

I am incredibly responsible and disciplined which has served me well in other aspects of my life.

Health is my number one priority and has led me to create a lifestyle that will extend my time on this planet and benefit my overall quality of life. I acknowledge that it’s ok to at times have a bit of a pity party for yourself but then I’m provided perspective.

My mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 54, and lived just over a year.  I am grateful and lucky for every day spent healthy. 


You’re an insanely tough cookie and have been through a serious range of challenges. So if you could impart your wisdom on a newly diagnosed person, what is ONE piece of advice you’d give about punching diabetes in the face, what would it be? 

Accept and adjust versus rebel.  You don’t have a choice, make the best of it.

And go to diabetes camp.  Whether you are a child or an adult.  Soon after my diagnosis I went to diabetes camp as a counselor in training.  I can’t recommend it strongly enough!  Type 1 is not only a physical disease, but it is so mental and emotional.  Having a community of people who understand and can relate to your experiences and share their methods and tactics is truly life-changing.  Especially for children.  Diabetic parents are SO overprotective!  Rightly so, but these kids need a break from that in a safe environment.  It also helps kids learn how to be physical.  That’s one of the great irony I see with type 1.  Parents are afraid to let their kids by physical and participate in sports and fitness when truly it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and your health!


I’ve only known Liz for about a year, but her twerking technique, tenacity, honesty, and willingness to reach out to me when she noticed I, too, had a lil’ ole’ Minimed tucked into my Luluemons has made a massive impact on me. Without her, I wouldn’t have even discovered what #MeFirst even is! You are a fuckin’ trooper, Liz, and thank you for being the first #MeFirst Monday rep. Never stop being so fierce, and as you would say, “HELL YEAH.”

A Period Piece

IMG_5338Disclaimer: This post might skeeve you out. If you’re one of those people, than you should probably be the first to read it because it’s 2016 and we’re a progressive society and talking about the one thing that privately unites almost every woman around the world every 20-some odd days is supes, supes importante. It’s not a faux paux. It’s not “disgusting”. It’s science.

I am not a medical professional. But I am an expert in lady problems, that’s for damn sure. And on this month’s edition of, “Here, I got you a present! It’s made of blood and pain and suffering! Hope you like it!”, I made a huge discovery: my period dramatically effects my blood sugars. I got my period how many years ago? And diabetes how many years ago? I just made this connection. Unlike some of the more obvious trends (ie. adrenaline spikes), this is one of those patterns that might not be immediately obvious to every gal out there. It could possibly have something to do with the fact that, well, when your insides feel like they’re on fire and exploding and punching you simultaneously all while you’re trying not to ruin your underwear, you’re a little preoccupied.

But ladies, let me tell you. Hormones are the cheekiest little bastards when it comes to blood sugars. Yes, men have hormones too, blah blah blah, but this specific experience is totally unique to not just women as a sex, but every woman individually. For some, their time of the month drives their sugars sky high in a frustrating way, only adding to their fatigue, nausea, and (totally excusable) bitchiness. For many of us, we only need 70-80% of the insulin we typically inject to stay in a safe range. There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than waking up 60, looking at my Dex, and realizing that I’ve been hovering there for hours. Luckily, I woke up to this trend this month, so last night I took a stab at adjusting my basal rates*. For my trial run, I set a 7-hour temp basal just get through the night worry-free. It ended up working like a charm, and it got me thinking: this is something we all need to talk about more openly with each other.

I know that chatting about period stuff outside of your safe circle of besties and confidants can be uncomfortable. But it’s definitely something worth bringing up with your doctor if you think your Auntie Flow is impacting your blood sugar.

Stress, anxiety, nervousness, lack of sleep, and allllll the other hormonal fluctuations can have a big impact on our insulin resistance at any given time. Be aware of change. Don’t get down on yourself. Don’t fight your body on its natural ebbs and flows. And if it’s bothering you, and taking away from your day to day, speak up!

 
*IMPORTANT: do NOT adjust your basal rates without consulting your doctor first, or learning how to do it with their supervision. ‘Tis not something to mess with if you’ve never done it before. I’ve had 6 years of practice and know my insulin resistance very well.