#Diabetes Art Day and #DSMALive Parents Talk

This is a #TwoBits post.

Bit numero uno

It’s Diabetes Art Day! We have embraced Lee Ann Thill’s philosophy that the only measure of success is participation. I opened the drawer of D supplies and was uninspired. All I could think of was Pod flower petals and we’ve done that before. I asked Caleb if he wanted to create something and he said, “Sure”. He pulled out one of his favorite things to play with – Bucky Balls – and went to work.

We have art imitating life:

Real blood, but he cheated on the bg. He was actually 151. Me thinks he needs a reminder to rotate fingers for finger sticks.

So if you haven’t already, create your own piece of art and post it at Lee Ann’s website www.diabetesartday.com and check out all the other wonderful submissions.

Bit numero dos

I’m so very excited to be co-hosting another episode of DSMA Live Parents talk with Bennet Dunlap, moderated by founder Cherise Shockley. Tonight our guest will be Hallie Addington who authors The Princess and the Pump. I enjoy reading Hallie’s blog – she keeps me informed and entertained, and inspires me with her commitment to advocacy and awareness. I hope you will tune in tonight at BlogTalkRadio at 9PM EST and hear what Hallie has to say.


DSMA Live Parents Talk | #dsmalive

On September 27th, Bennet Dunlap of YDMV and I, along with the guidance of DSMA founder, Cherise Shockley, hosted the first DSMA Live Parents Talk on BlogTalkRadio. I was nervous. It was invigorating. I can’t thank those that listened, that chatted in the chat room, that called in, and that listened afterwards, enough for your support.

You are welcome to check out the “Afterthoughts” post I wrote over at www.dsmalive.com, and you can listen to the show on BlogTalkRadio or iTunes.

Bennet and I will be hosting the show every other Monday at 9PM EST and have some great guests lined up already. I hope you’ll join us sometime!

You Can Do This Anniversary #YouCanDoThis

It all began a year ago. For Caleb it started with this:

But advanced to a serious discussion:

Which resulted in great success:

Thank you again, Kim, for providing the opportunity for Caleb to appreciate all the things he can indeed do!

You can hear more from Caleb about how the You Can Do This Project helped him, here:

Happy Anniversary!!

Talking with Tony

Tony Rose, of Blogging Diabetes

My good friend, Tony, of Blogging Diabetes, asked to chat with me for his Podcast today. I told him he was crazy, because I’m a babbler, but he still went through with it!

I was so excited to talk with Tony. I feel like he and I have been friends since the beginning. He’s one of the first people I connected with on twitter and we hit it off immediately. He’s smart, analytical and kind. He’s a caring dad and husband. But he’s a Red Sox fan. 😉

In the podcast we talk about:

– Caleb’s diagnosis and the impact on Colin and Lila

– Dealing with diabetes at school and advocating for your child

– Letting go and giving your child more responsibility

my favorite: standard deviation

– the awesomeness of Team Type 1 and the tip I got from Tony’s podcast with Phil Southerland

– and so much more.

I only wish I didn’t babble so much and Tony spoke more.

I’m going to reveal the special surprise Tony had for me at the end – a short little interview with Caleb. I had no idea. It was so nice to hear the two of them chatting. Caleb, however, is nice and succinct, not like his mom.

So if you dare, I invite you over to Tony’s blog, if not to listen to me, to listen to any of his amazing podcasts, and if nothing else, check out his great video on standard deviation!

Pendant Power

Of the almost 20 necklaces that are out there, here are ten of them! Thanks to everyone for sending your photos, wearing your blue circle and supporting the cause. Through my request for photos, I learned that my mother-in-law recently purchased one! What a treat to see her picture pop up in my in-box!

You can get one of your own, hand-crafted by Cari (shown below in the upper right) HERE!

Wear BLUE! #wdd11

November is diabetes awareness month and November 14th is World Diabetes Day. Caleb and I are busy working with his school administrators to plan another day of awareness on his campus which will include wearing blue on Monday, November 14th, the birthday of the man who discovered insulin, Dr. Banting.

Additionally, we will be wearing blue on all the Fridays in November as part of Cherise’s awareness idea. To find out why this is important to Caleb and others from the diabetes community, watch this video and hear directly from them.

I hope to see you donning azul along with us! Thanks, Cherise, for including Caleb in your project!!

“It felt like you were my brother”

Caleb and Phil; photo credit: John Martin of Team Type 1

An event in Central Park to raise awareness for diabetes? Sure, let me check my schedule. It includes a bike ride with Phil Southerland and Team Type 1?! Clear the calendar; we’re there!

That’s exactly how it went. I gave no thought to logistics nor did I consider what the ride would entail. I just knew I wanted my family to be there for this unique opportunity.

I have two sons: an eleven year old aspiring triathlete, and an eight year old who loves to ride his bike and is living with diabetes. I also have a six year old daughter, who is very supportive of her older brothers and their ambitions.

Had I given it any thought, I might have considered that Central Park is not exactly flat and although Caleb has ridden his bike in the road for hours at a time, he’s never done anything remotely close to a four-mile, non-stop trek.

But I didn’t give it any thought. At least nothing beyond that Caleb might get to meet Phil again and if any of us couldn’t cut it, then we would stop. No big deal.

That’s not at all how the ride went.

Colin and Caleb had personal Team Type 1 escorts around the entire course. Thankfully no one buddied up with me. I thought my years of biking in my younger life would mean I would be the front runner of my family. I was left in the dust. Way back in the dust. I was grateful that my kids had responsible adults with them since I was not. I was even more grateful that no one was matched up with me because that would have been embarrassing.

Colin; photo credit: John Martin of Team Type 1

John Martin was the gracious team member who took the initiative to stay with Colin. Caleb had the honor of taking the ride with none other than Phil himself.

It was a gorgeous day. Perfect for a bike ride. There were lots of riders and pedestrians in Central Park.

At every turn in the road, I looked for something recognizable to let me know we were back to where we started. Turn after turn and hill after hill, there was no end in sight. Then finally, I saw the blue balloon attached to Caleb’s bike. It was pulled over to the side. I saw Colin and John. I thought, “Yippee, we’re done!”

But then I realized something was wrong. Phil was huddled with his arm around Caleb. I realized Caleb was crying and his leg was bleeding. Then I saw his hands were bleeding. He was scratched up, but okay. Phil was with him.

The first thing I remember Caleb saying was to Phil, “I’m sorry I broke your bike.” I realized John was right next to me holding half of Phil’s bike up with a bit of a shrug.

I mentioned that Colin is an aspiring triathlete. He had the honor of partaking in a triathlete camp this summer with Ironman, Cliff Scherb. He has a dream of getting a bike like Cliff’s. Right now that’s all it is: a dream. Those things are expensive. I knew Phil’s bike was of that caliber.

Phil’s concerns, however, were only for Caleb. Apparently some pedestrians cut in front of them. They both swerved to avoid them, but there weren’t enough places to go. Caleb turned into Phil’s back wheel and they crashed.

We were almost at the end. Caleb and I walked the rest of the way. We had all taken a wrong turn, so it ended up being closer to six miles than the planned four.

Lila had a respectable showing even if she didn't finish.

Despite the crash, it was a great day. We thought we would take a ride with others in the spirit of awareness, but it ended up being so much more. It’s a day none of us will forget.

Phil, thank you for sharing yourself and your story with us.  Thank you for showing my children they can do anything they set their minds to. Thank you for being kind and gracious; for setting such a gentlemanly example for my boys to follow. Thank you, Phil, for staying with Caleb and for pushing him up those hills. There is no way he could have done it without you. He is so proud to have completed the ride and for having you at his side.

John, thank you as well for staying with Colin and encouraging him. It would have been a bit of a bummer if he had to stay back with me. I’m so grateful you were there to allow him to go at his own speedy pace. You too were so gracious and kind to all of us. I can never thank you enough for the pictures. They are priceless.

We have had the privilege of meeting several Team Type 1 team members. They are all, without exception, inspirational athletes.  But perhaps more impressive to me is the exceptional caliber of people they are. They are top-notch, genuinely sincere, kind people.

Caleb wrote a thank you note to Phil. In it he says, “When you were with me it felt like you were my brother.”

That just sums it all up.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read Phil’s book, Not Dead Yet. His perseverance, courage and positive attitude are infused into to as you read it.

I also encourage you to read this recent interview with him mom, Joanna. There’s no question her strength and never-give-up attitude were a great influence to Phil.

Credit: New York Daily News

Lastly, here’s an article in the New York Daily News which is primarily an interview with Phil about the bike ride in Central Park but also includes a few words from yours truly.

Keep riding, or walking or whatever you do.  As Phil says, we’re all busy and it’s hard to make time for it, but when you consider that excercise adds years to your life, we really have nothing but time for it.

Blue Circle Pendant by @C_Caria

Sterling Silver Blue Crystal Circle Pendant - World Diabetes Day Awareness - Support JDRF

There are currently four of them. They are owned by:

Cari – the creator,

Cherise – the inspiration,

Rachel – the hunter,

and me.

Among other things, Cari is a jewelry crafter and her son, Nate, has type 1 diabetes. Cherise was looking for something last November to commemorate World Diabetes Day. The two brainstormed and voilà! The necklace was born.

I remember Rachel being on the hunt for something like this long ago. She caught wind of it and got her hands on one.

I must have seen a tweet of Cari’s and ordered my own.

I love it. It is both beautiful and meaningful. The World Diabetes Day Blue Circle has always been the diabetes awareness symbol to which I most relate. You can read about its meaning here.

I cannot wear this necklace without someone asking me about it. Often it is someone who already knows Caleb, but I’ve also struck up conversations with strangers at the bank and grocery store (that’s the exciting life I lead). They first notice its beauty and then get an appreciation for its symbolism. It has the power to spread awareness.

Cari is donating all the proceeds from the sales of this necklace and her other diabetes awareness jewelry to JDRF. You can read the full description on Cari’s Etsy page, but here is an excerpt:

My son was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes in 2008 at age 8. We have no history of Diabetes in our family at all. It’s been a struggle and a learning experience, but it has made us all stronger. A cure for Diabetes can be within our reach, and I tell my son all the time, he may see a cure in his lifetime. I am doing my part to promote awareness. All proceeds from my Diabetes Awareness Jewelry will be donated to JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Help us find a cure and wear your jewelry proudly!!

I caution you, you might not be able to stop at just the one piece. She has an Etsy shop full of beautiful non-awareness jewelry too. I have purchased several items and wear them proudly. I also crossed many teacher gifts off my list at the end of the school year thanks to Cari’s creations. The pieces are well made and her service is impeccable.

Cari did not ask me to post about this. I am getting nothing in return other than the chance to share my joy in finding such a great piece of jewelry that allows me to show my pride in my son and the diabetes community. Given the fact that the four of us are so happy with our necklaces, I thought there might be others out there who would be interested in having one of their own!

UPDATE TO POST: Due to demand, you may see the item listed as “SOLD” when you click on the link. Do not fret! You can either check back to see if it is relisted, or contact Cari directly cjnack@yahoo.com to find out timing of availability. Thanks for your interest folks! I would definitely love to hear from everyone who gets one. Perhaps we can start a photo collage!

Breakthrough with Banting, Best and Ritzdorf

new york national historical society frederick banting charles best discovery of insulin breakthoughYou may have heard about the exhibit that was held at the New York Historical Society based on the book Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle.

My friend Kay, who I met on Twitter, mentioned that she was taking a trip to New York and I told her about it. I was disappointed that she and her mom would only be in town during the week because we wouldn’t be able to make the trip to meet them since the kids would be in school.

Then I thought, Why can’t we make the trip? I’ve been to almost all my kids’ school field trips and if there’s a field trip worthy of taking for my family, this one – one that teaches about the discovery of insulin while also meeting a model adult who has grown up with diabetes with her equally impressive mom – is it.

So that’s what we did.  We pulled the kids out of school early one day for a family field trip.

frederick banting charles best discovery of insulin katherine hughs breakthrough
360 vials of insulin for a single patient; approximately 27% if his lifetime supply

The exhibit was moving. We saw pictures of children before the discovery – starved just to stay alive in the hope that some kind of cure would come – and after – chubby cheeks and barely recognizable. There was even a letter from one of the boys to Dr. Banting stating with pride, “I’m a fat boy now.”

Elizabeth herself was kept alive with such meager portions during the years between her diagnosis and her first injection of insulin, that she dwindled to a mere forty-five pounds just before turning fifteen years old.

We saw log books listing people diagnosed with diabetes, their diagnosis date, food regime and date of death, which invariably was only a short time after their diagnosis. To see the handwritten notes defining such gloom was poignant.

There was the newspaper article with pictures of Banting and Best and the declaration that a cure had been discovered. I pictured myself today seeing a headline of a true cure for diabetes and thinking that the elation and relief people must have felt back then was equal to or greater than what I imagined feeling.

If you haven’t already read this book, I sincerely recommend it. I knew all the basics of the story. There was no surprise ending. But learning about that time – directly before and after the discovery of insulin  – through the eyes of the people who were living with diabetes, caring for those with diabetes and working on the discovery – was something truly profound.

frederick banting charles best discovery of insulin kay ritzdorf
Caleb writes about his anticipation for the trip (the exclamation marks go on for two more rows on the back)

So you know Banting and you know Best, but who is Ritzdorf, you may ask. Well it’s actually two people – Kay and her mom. Jody. We could have made the trip to NYC anytime. Sharing the exhibit with the Ritzdorfs is really what made our trip special.

This was my first IRL meetup with any of my online D friends. I wasn’t sure if meeting someone live started things over fresh, or you picked up where you left off online. It was the latter. I was in the hall reading one of the items on the wall, and I recognized Kay as she walked by. I turned and just said, “Hey!”

frederick banting charles best discovery of insulin breakthough
I think Caleb wasn't too far off in his prediction

We made full introductions and continued enjoying the exhibit together. Afterwards we made our way to the gift shop. All the while Kay and Jody chatted it up with my kids. They were genuinely interested in each of them. It was like they were family. If you ever want to win someone over, talk to their kids earnestly. It warmed my heart and made me smile. I knew Kay and her mom were good people and weren’t just being polite when they asked to meet up.

Caleb was matter of fact about it all, but underneath I know he was very excited to be in Kay and Jody’s company – people who really understood what living with diabetes is. Colin and Kay talked about the book. Colin is the reason we purchased it, he was so interested in reading the full story. Lila almost exploded with glee when she caught a glimpse of Kay’s pump – running over to me in her five-year old discrete way of whispering not so quietly in my ear, “she has an insulin pump and it’s PINK!”

diabetes online community
Colin, Lila, Caleb, Jody, Kay, Lorraine, David - Forever Friends

We were able to convince them to have dinner with us. It was so enjoyable to get to know them better and hear about their trip to New York. It was Kay’s first time to the Big Apple. We talked about diabetes and about things not diabetes. If not for the need to get the kids home to bed on a school night, I’m sure we could have spent hours and hours talking.

In fact, I’m hoping on their next trip to NYC we’ll be able to meet up again – if they’re willing to put up with us, that is!

Hands down, this was the best field trip ever!

Shortly after our meeting, a special package came in the mail. Caleb’s new Huskers hat displaced even his NYY one for more than a week straight.

Thank you, Kay and Jody, for making the time in your brief trip to New York to meet with us.  We are so happy to know you and call you friends.

nebraska huskers
New Nebraska Huskers Fans - Thank you Ritzdorfs!
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