Exuding Coolness | Adam Lasher from American Idol

Hanging his “robotic pancreas” from his guitar strap, Adam Lasher auditions for American Idol. I haven’t watched in years. This is an incentive to start again.

TriCamp with Coach Cliff | TriRidgefield

Last summer, Colin had a very exciting and fun week at TriRidgefield’s Kids Camp. For about a year before, Colin had great interest in running and that extended to triathlon training the more and more he heard about it.

He had no hesitation about signing up again this year. When I asked Caleb if he wanted to go, he said. “No, that’s Colin’s thing. My thing is baseball.” I could not influence him to change his mind.

Then his school held a Rod Dickson Kids Marathon training event and Caleb got the bug. His interest did a 180 degree turn. He was in for Kids Camp 120%.

Colin cheering on brother Caleb

I was thrilled to see Caleb excited about this discipline, pleased to see him and his brother share an interest and tickled to know that he would be under the tutelage of Coach Cliff Scherb, Ironman.

Cliff and Caleb both have type 1 diabetes, use the OmniPod and DexCom Seven Plus systems. They both have rocking buzz cuts which enhance their speediness. 🙂

Caleb had a fantastic week. He had so much fun. I was worried it would be a little too intense for him. He said the workouts were exhausting, but only when I asked. His consistent reference to his days at camp were “That was fun. Camp is so much fun. I can’t wait to go back because it’s so fun. Fun, fun, fun!!”

Colin finishing the bike

Since last year’s camp experience, Colin got a new bike. It is just about the only thing he got for Christmas this year. He saved up every penny that came his way and asked anyone interested in getting him a gift to contribute to his bike. After the first day of camp he felt validated in this investment. I wouldn’t describe camp as uber competitive, but there are some serious kid athletes in attendance. Colin made a great improvement this year over last and finished second in his age group.

Caleb didn’t place, but he did fabulously. I was so proud of both of them.

photobomb by Grandma Grace

When I interviewed Cliff in 2010, I asked for advice on Colin’s behalf. He emphasized swimming for the younger crowd. I saw firsthand how important this part of the race is. Colin was not the fastest swimmer, but he came out pretty strong and made up some time in the bike and run. I could see how not having any prior swim experience other than goofing around in the pool impacted Caleb’s performance. He and Lila are now in weekly swim lessons! But I have to say that the improvement in his technique in just the one week of tricamp was astounding.

I cannot say enough about what nice, professional and encouraging people Evan (the camp director) and Coach Cliff are. The kids were great, the parents were great – it was a fabulous week all around.

It’s been said over and over what a terrific guy Cliff is, but you’ll have to tolerate me saying it yet again. He really is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. This was not a diabetes camp, but Caleb and Cliff had that connection. Just knowing that there was someone around him that understood was a great influence to Caleb, and the fact that it was Cliff, a humble, kind and skilled athlete, made the experience even sweeter.

I was lucky enough to contribute to an article in Diabetes Forecast that featured Cliff that I invite you to check out. He talks about being an Ironman and living with diabetes and balancing the two. It’s really no joke – this guy is an expert when is comes to endurance training and managing blood sugars. Every time I talk to him I get a new tip. I am so blessed to have had so much direct exposure to that brain trust. If training of this nature is at all an interest of yours, please read Cliff’s story. He is the founder and principal coach of TriStar Labs in Norwalk, CT. We’re looking forward to cheering him on this August when he races in the Ironman US Championship in New York City.

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!

Friend Parade

We have been very fortunate to have met and made friends with so many truly good and caring people. I have shared stories about many, but have as many stories queued up in an overdue list of pending blog posts. This is mostly because these people are so meaningful to us that I’m afraid my words won’t do their awesomeness justice.

With great certainty I know that the relationships we have developed with those who understand what living with diabetes is, and even some who may not completely relate, are what keep us stable, able to cope and live normal and productive lives. Our true friends are the best therapy that we could ever have. Without these friendships, I am sure diabetes would preoccupy and dominate my thoughts. It’s not that I don’t worry, but I feel my worry is in proper perspective, or at least a better perspective than it would be otherwise.

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing these belated stories. I have accepted that although my words might not relay how great these people are, I owe it to them to try.

School Blue-nity – Plans for Year Three

On Monday, November 14th, we will be holding our third School Blue-nity event at Caleb’s school.

The first year we raised some dough for JDRF.

Last year we did some myth busting.

This year our focus will be Team Type 1’s mission to make lives better for diabetic children in Rwanda.

When Caleb and Phil crashed in Central Park and Phil’s very expensive bike was pronounced dead, I offered several times to compensate Phil in some way for his loss. He adamantly refused over and over again. As we were saying our good-byes, I gave it one final shot and he conceded to suggesting a donation to help buy children much needed test strips. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and was slightly embarrassed at not thinking of it myself.

To hear that children in Rwanda test their blood sugar once a week or more likely once a month is saddening.

To hear that a family is relieved at the death of their diabetic child because now they can use the little money they have to buy food instead of insulin is, at best, heart-breaking.

To hear that children are abandoned by their families upon being diagnosed with diabetes is unthinkable.

But these are real stories.

Living with type 1 diabetes under the best of circumstances is a challenge. Caleb has the most advanced tools available to him, yet we worry all the time, we miss the mark often resulting in out of range blood sugars that make him feel unwell or disrupt his day. I worry that despite our best efforts, he will grow up and develop complications as a result of living with this disease for the majority of his life.

But I do not have to worry that he will inevitably and quickly become blind, develop nerve damage or kidney failure and have a significantly shortened life expectancy.

From Team Type 1's website - click to link

This is the reality for diabetic children in places like Rwanda.

Part of Caleb’s thank you note to Phil was “How can I help the children of Rwanda?”

Our family has made a monetary donation to Team Type 1 to help buy life-saving medical supplies. Our School Blue-nity event will ask our community to support Phil’s efforts too. In addition to asking classmates and staff to wear blue on November 14th, the administration has agreed to make it a “dollar day”, asking anyone willing and able to bring in a dollar to support this worthy cause.

Thank you yet again, Phil, for all that you do. Caleb is so proud to be able to possibly influence some aide for these children to which he so greatly relates. Thank you for giving that to him.

#DSMA live Tonight with Cliff Scherb

Cliff at Ironman, Kona 2010

I’m very excited about tonight’s dsma live episode. Cliff Scherb will be the guest. I was lucky enough to spend a morning with Cliff last year. He is kind, generous and knowledgable. I could have spent the entire day picking his brain, but after nearly three hours, I figured I was already pushing it.

Cliff is a triathlon coach and founder of TriStar Athletes LLC. He has competed with Team Type 1 and in several Ironman events including the World Championship in Kona and is also a record holder in more than one of these events.

Isn't this picture amazing? Click on it to enlarge - you MUST!

Since meeting with Cliff, I’ve wished everyone could have some time to hear him talk about his strategies and techniques for keeping his blood sugar in range not only on a daily basis, but also during intense training and competitions. Tonight, that wish comes true!

Please join the live conversation tonight, 9PM EST on Blog Talk Radio. If you’ve ever been frustrated by unpredictable blood sugars while exercising or training, I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you tuned in.

“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.

Meeting Team Type 1 Co-Founders | #ffl11

My trio with Team Type 1 Co-Founders Joe Eldridge and Phil Southerland

Phil Southerland was THE first type 1 athlete that I encountered after Caleb’s diagnosis. It started with a video, then a  magazine article  and then I scoured the internet looking for any information I could find on him.

I have always been and continue to be in awe of athletes with diabetes. I have the greatest admiration and respect for their commitment, discipline and achievement. What they do is the equivalent of magic to me.

The week before FFL, Colin completed a week of triathlete camp with Cliff Scherb. It was hard to know which one of the five of us was most excited to meet the co-founders of Team Type 1. It was definitely at the top of all our lists.

On the first day of the conference, we attended a Team Type 1 focus group and got to listen to three team members, including Joe Eldridge, talk about their experiences. I’ve read his story so many times – about the wager between him and Phil of whomever had the higher blood sugar at the end of a race would have to buy the other dinner, and how Joe ended up buying a lot of burritos. Hearing how that motivated him to keep tighter control of his blood sugars live and in person was just as inspiring as the first time I read it.

Then we got to speak to them up close and personal. It was like talking with friends. They are such real and genuine young men. So kind, so sincere. I had brought my copy of Not Dead Yet on the trip thinking I might have some spare time to read. Well that didn’t happen, but I’m so glad I brought it because Phil so graciously signed it for Caleb. A definite highlight for us all.

I was happy to have the chance to thank them for the impact they have had on us.  It is because of them – Phil and Joe, the first type 1 athletes that I came across – that I have never wondered about Caleb’s ability to achieve athletically. Their impact is so strong, that I’ve almost taken it for granted. It’s completely natural to me to expect that Caleb can do any sport he wants to. They, and so many after them, have shown all of us that there are no limits to what someone can attain, including someone living with type 1 diabetes. I have always known this for a fact.

Because of them.

More importantly, Caleb knows this. He never, ever considers whether diabetes will impact his ability to play or complete. He knows that he can do whatever he chooses. He knows he needs to care for his diabetes which means he needs to do things his teammates do not, but having it hold him back from doing what he enjoys is never something that enters his mind.

These are the only publications that rest on the cocktail table of my living room.

Team Type 1 has been and will always be a part of our lives. We’ve met so many great role models. They are examples for Caleb, as a type 1 diabetic, and Colin, as an aspiring triathlete. Thank you Phil and Joe and Cliff and Bradford for reaching out and sharing yourselves so openly with us.

Not only are these guys all amazing athletes, they are truly amazing people. I am so very honored and privileged to have had the chance to meet them. We all are.

If you haven’t seen the video, One Shot, the documentary of Phil and Joe and the team and their quest to get the first type 1 diabetic into the Tour de France, I strongly encourage you to.

When they are in the tour, we will definitely be watching and rooting for Team Type 1.

Colin's autographed poster that we managed to get home in tact.

Mrs. Muller | The Standard

Mrs. Muller & Caleb - 1st Day of School

OfficeMax created the “A Day Made Better” event to bring awareness to the needs of today’s teachers and to “work to erase” teacher funded classrooms. When I read that Leighann, as a Max Mom, was holding a contest specifically to allow teachers of children with diabetes to get the accolades and credit they deserve, I wasted no time in preparing my nomination of Caleb’s current teacher, Mrs. Muller.

I’m happy to say that my entry was picked as a winner and I was able to present Mrs. Muller with a $100 gift card to OfficeMax.

Here is what I wrote. It comes from my heart.

As a background, Caleb has had four different teachers and seven different nurses at school since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Every teacher he has had has been loving, caring and concerned for Caleb’s well-being. Not one gave resistance to learning what they needed to do for his special needs. But Caleb’s current teacher has been exponentially superior in providing Caleb a safe and caring environment.

There are many teachers that learn to count carbs, administer insulin, understand how to treat a low blood sugar and even inject glucagon if needed. Caleb is blessed to have a wonderful school nurse who has the primary responsibility for all of those things.

What Caleb’s teacher has offered him is as important, and some may argue more important than all of that. Caleb’s teacher has embraced Caleb as Caleb first, and Caleb as a child living with diabetes second. That doesn’t mean she gives his diabetes less importance. She gives it the absolute most importance by thinking of Caleb as a person first, while still managing his needs as a child living with diabetes. She appreciates the emotional toll that living with a chronic condition can have on a person and that labeling Caleb as “the diabetic” is harmful emotionally.

What is extraordinary about what Caleb’s teacher does, is what she doesn’t do. She doesn’t give his diabetes unnecessary attention.

That may actually sound like it’s easy to do, as if it’s just a matter of ignoring it. If you have ever managed the care of a child with diabetes, you know that it is, in fact, very difficult to do. It’s like being a magician using smoke and mirrors to lead a normal life while managing a very not normal, extremely intrusive thing.

Caleb’s teacher has been able to accommodate every single request I have made without the slightest hesitation. She has coordinated a daily schedule that provides for normalcy in the classroom and inclusion of Caleb in everything the other students do, when they do it, to work around his diabetes schedule. When there are unplanned needs to check Caleb’s sugar, they flow as smoothly as possible and without obvious interruption to the class instruction.

Although she could, she doesn’t just pass him off to the school nurse. She expresses interest and willingness to learn all the details of his care to the end of making a better day for Caleb. She goes out of her way to talk to the nurse to review the day’s events when the children are not around. No one asked her to do this. She doesn’t have to do it. She wants to do it. For Caleb.

Of course it is important for our children to be medically safe at school. It is equally important that our children’s emotional well-being be cared for. Studies show that living with a chronic condition like diabetes that takes constant, day after day maintenance can lead to severe emotional problems including depression and socialization weaknesses. I know that Caleb’s emotional health is being cared for. I know this because he gets off the bus each day with a smile on his face and skip in step that I haven’t seen before and didn’t even realize was missing. I know this because anything diabetes related about his day is the LAST thing he brings up when it used to be the first.

I hope from the above that you can see that Caleb’s teacher is passionate about the well-being of her students. She is dedicated to her students no matter what their differences. Her innovation is in her approach to Caleb. She accepts him and all of him fully and completely. Where it would be easy to let Caleb stand out while he cares for his diabetes, she has been able to creatively balance his needs with the needs of all the children in her class without skipping a beat.

I will never be able to thank Caleb’s teacher enough for this. This is not something that can be repaid. But $100 is a start.

I feel very strongly that the emotional as well as the medical needs of students with diabetes be prioritized equally. In my opinion, Mrs. Muller has set the standard of care in meeting and properly balancing both of them.

To teachers everywhere, whatever the needs of your students may be, I raise my glass to you for everything you do for and give to our children. Thank you.

Mrs. Muller played an important role in making WDD 2010 special which you can read here (paragraph about half way down starting, “Perhaps…”).

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