Thursday, December 03, 2009

Health Update

Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement during this trying time. Here is the latest...

I have forced myself to cut wayyyyy down on caffeine. For as long as I can remember, caffeine has been a very close friend of mine, e.g. everywhere I went, I made sure there was a caffeinated soda or coffee in my hand. Now, Sprite Zero, decaffeinated coffee, and water are the norm. (I'm actually drinking decaf coffee right now. Oh the humanity!) It's been tough, but when your health is on the line, you learn to adjust.

In addition to caffeine, I'm eating less milk chocolate. I know, I know... "diabetics shouldn't eat chocolate any way...", well that thinking is sooo 1950's. Now let's move along.

I am drinking more water than ever! Sometimes I think there's got to be something better, but it's really good for me and my IBS. In addition, I'm eating smaller meals and try (emphasize, 'try') to stay away from high fat, greasy meals. Occasionally, the bloating and other yucky stuff that comes with IBS happens. BUT, I just deal with it.

The worse part of this whole ordeal is the not knowing. I'm still discovering what foods are good and what are bad. For instance, I used to love eating snack crackers. After having some, they cause me severe intestinal cramps. This is just an example. Again, I may not understand all that is happening, but I need to deal with it.

I welcome any advice from those of you who suffer from IBS and diabetes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Medical Hurricane

I haven't posted in a while, because I simply needed a break. However, I have a confession to make: I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. It's painful and uncomfortable and the list goes on. I've been fighting it for a awhile, but really didn't want to tell anyone. My IBS is brought on by stress. A combination of work and family stress, along with an irregular diet and lack of regular exercise, caused the equivalent of an internal hurricane.

And this hurricane put me down for several days last week.

Sadly, I couldn't stop this hurricane; I could only alleviate it. I ate little and drank lots of fluids. Even as I write, the last of the hurricane is rumbling through. In addition, you probably are wondering about my diabetes. How did I manage through this storm?

I was constantly testing my blood sugar and adjusting as necessary. Yes, I had many highs and many lows which just added to the storm. Yet, it could have been much worse. Personally, I'm angry with myself that I didn't deal with these issues sooner. I know better, but failed to take action. I hoped that this storm would just dissipate. Clearly, I was wrong.

I know there will be a next time. I know life is going to keep throwing me curve balls. I'm aware of the signs... BUT, I can't promise that I'll handle it any better. All I can do is try to keep my stress down and learn to let some things go.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Time of Change

I love the fall season. I love the temperature change to the 60's. I love the sight of brilliant colors. Fall reminds me of change.

In the last 2-3 weeks, I have changed job positions, my diet, and different life routines. For example, my job has become very, very active again. I've gone from a sedentary job - lots of sitting with little to do - to actively solving issues. My blood sugar levels have been very happy with me.

Our family is slowly making a change to an 'organic' diet. We are trying not to purchase foods that have been grown or processed with steroids or chemicals. We made this decision based on how we feel after eating healthier choices. Life is too short and therefore, we must do what is right for us and our children. It's been tough, but so far, so good. (And, no, I'm not giving up a good beer!)

And what does a different life routine mean? Well, I've made the conscious decision to spend less time on the computer (and iPhone), including Twitter and Facebook, and spending more time being active. As a family, we are exercising and spending more time outside.

I am at a point in my life where the more simple I keep things, the better. I'm tired of stressing over, "the little things". I'm not perfect and refuse to live perfectly. But, I do want to enjoy life to the fullest and these changes are helping me do just that.

Enjoy your fall! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where is Mark?

Just a quick note, I am in midst of changing jobs and life has been very, very busy. That's good for a person like me who loves being thrown in the fire. I'm not afraid of getting my hands dirty. (I'm not afraid of a bar fight either, but I don't do that anymore.) Alas, this comes with a down side; no diabetes OC, no Twitter, etc...

To all my d-friends, I miss you all very much and hope all is well.

Two things... First, my sister (who is also a type 1) and I are looking at getting a continuous glucose monitoring system. I'm too darn old and tired for bg roller coasters.

Second, beginning Sunday, November 1st, I will be training for the 2010 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes. My goal is 30 miles, since this will be my first time.

Be Healthy - Have Fun - Enjoy Life


Thursday, October 01, 2009

This Isn't Funny

One of my favorite muscians are the Dave Matthews Band. I've listened to them since the early 90's and have followed them off and on throughout the years.

If you have time, watch this video and think about how it relates to our lives:

Just for today, this moment in time...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Battling A Cold

Just got back from my PCP. No influenza 'A'. Just a virus with a bad cough. Whew! But boy, that nose swabbing is quite the experience. And yet I didn't flinch, cough, or complain... :)


I hate colds.

I hate them, because they throw a temporary cramp in my lifestyle; a kink in my hose. Not that I have a typical runny nose, cough, temperature cold. No, I have a deep cough that just won't go away. Worse, it keeps me up all night. Just when my mind wants to sleep, my body coughs a deep bellow that awakens everyone. Last night, I slept may be 3 hours. Of course I still managed to go in to work. My body feels fine aside from the cough. No achiness. Go figure.

And what about medicine for the 'ol diabetic? Good question. I've been taking Vick's 44 Cough and Cold syrup before bed and Robitussin expectorant during the day. All to no avail (although it worked wonders for my oldest son's and wife's colds). So now, off to my primary care physician to get rid of it once and for all.

Lastly, I can't tell you how many times I've been asked about getting the flu shot. Yes, I will be gettin' it on October 1st (it's through work & you can't beat free).

So...sorry for the bland post. Things will be better in the days to come.
Have hope and keep smiling!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A New Diagnosis

What if someone you loved very much was diagnosed with diabetes? Maybe not even a loved one, but a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger? What would
you say?

What if that person was a child?

…a teenager?

…or an adult?

What would you say to the parents of a child, who have just spent several days in a hospital wondering--every waking moment--what the future holds for their child?

And what of a teenager who feels that their life is just starting and now they have to deal with this disease?

Or how about an adult who has tasted a “normal” life and doesn’t understand why?

What would you say?

Could you honestly look in to the eyes of a sleep-deprived parent and tell them, with a straight face, that everything was going to be okay?

When I was diagnosed as a child, with type 1 diabetes, negativity was the norm. There wasn’t much hope for living beyond 21. I was told to prepare for a slow death. Was I encouraged to do well? Sure, but I wouldn’t last with this disease as an adult. Thanks for playing.

My diagnosis was over 32 years ago. I am now 40. I’ve had my share of battles with diabetes, but (and note my words here), I still have the will to win. I still have the will to live a long, awesome life.

When I meet a newly diagnosed patient – especially a child – I ask them one question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Many sheepishly reply, “a doctor, nurse, police officer”, or the occasional “engineer”.

“Guess what?” I tell them with excitement. “You can! And don’t let diabetes stop you from being who you want to be.” Smiles follow and parents are relieved knowing that their precious child can live a long, productive life.

This writing is a gentle reminder that we, too, can be and can do anything we want when we properly manage our diabetes. The only boundaries we have are the ones we place on ourselves.

Properly manage your diabetes and…

...let your dreams take you wherever you want to go.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Diabetes History Quiz

I am not a physician, nor a medical professional, so please consult them if you have questions regarding your health.

Have fun!

1. Name the tool nurses and doctors used to show newly diagnosed patients how to give themselves a shot and, in some places, is still used today.

2. What is the name of the product used to test sugar AND ketones in your urine?

3. Name the lancet device that closely resembles a guillotine.

(still give me shivers...)

4. Can you name at least two brands of disposable insulin syringes that were available in the 70's?

5. Doctors and nurses taught a key phrase when mixing either Regular with NPH, Regular with Lente, or Regular with Ultra Lente. What was it?

6. Who were the two gentlemen who discovered insulin? (arguably the easiest question here)

7. According to Dr. Francine Kaufman, which country in the world far exceeds the United States in diabetes care for type 2s? Hint: Go to and watch this episode.

8. Is it better to wash your hands, with soap and water, before taking a blood test or use an alcohol swab?

9. Can you name the physician who fought for many years advocating tight blood glucose control to prevent diabetes-related complications?

Last, but not least...
10. Name any blood glucose monitor that takes 5 seconds or less for a result to appear.

1. That tool was, and is, an orange
2. Keto Diastix
3. The Autolet lancet device
4. BD & Monoject
5. "clear before cloudy"
6. Frederick Banting and Charles Best
7. According to the episode, Finland outscores the United States in type 2 diabetes care
8. Either way is preferred, BUT your fingers should be completely dry before testing
9. Dr. Richard Bernstein
10. You name it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

As many of my fellow diabetic or 'd' Tweeps already know, I've been taking care of my sick children and wife. Thankfully, this illness seems to be a bad cold and not the flu. I am very thankful and relieved.

Yet through the colds, we were able to sit in the family room and watch football; college and pro. Here's my college summary report including BG levels:

1. Fresno State vs Wisconsin - Wisconsin wins in double overtime. Being a "born and bred" Badger, I was a nervous wreck. My BGs did great until the end of the game and subsequent OTs. The game, and my BG levels, were on a roller coaster.

2. Notre Dame vs Michigan - As much as I like Michigan, I love Notre Dame more. Arguably, it was a fight to the very end (11 seconds left in the game!). My BG went from 114, with 5 minutes left in the game, to a 236 at the end (with no food in my system). I was a wreck. I quickly made a correction, then moved on to game 3.

3. South Carolina vs Georgia - Okay, I knew this was going to be close, but the total points blew me away. My BGs didn't sway too much, since we Georgia fans come to expect a close game. South Carolina should've won this game, hands down, but our Dawgs prevailed. In my opinion, nothing to be proud of...

4. Last, but not least, catching glimpses of the Mississippi State vs Auburn & USC vs Ohio State games. The Tigers man-handled the MS Bulldogs, while USC pulled out a win (30 seconds left?) over the Buckeyes. I felt bad for Ohio State, but USC is always fast and impressive.

Overall, my BG numbers were really good on Saturday (42,114, 236, 51, 96, 60, 57), with a Sunday morning wakeup of 89. I had pasta, for dinner on Saturday, so I knew my BGs would swing. The 236 came from the Notre Dame game (boo!). Many of my 'lows' came from excitement and not over-corrections. Go figure!

(Oh, and for you 'Huskers and 'Bama fans, I was catching highlights from these games as well.)

Ah life... It's great!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Uncle Vinnie

I have an alter ego, if you will, and his name is Uncle Vinnie. To get an image, think of the great Paul Sorvino in a dark suit, doing the Zaxby's commercials (or in Good Fellas, whichever comes to mind). Uncle Vinnie appears whenever some uneducated person makes a wisecrack or pushes their way in to my diabetes life.

For example, if I'm at a restaurant with my family and I want a glass of wine. The waiter/waitress notices me take my blood sugar. They realize that, yes, I'm a diabetic. But then they attempt to assert their "knowledge" on me by questioning my drink choice:

Waitperson: "Um, since you are a diabetic, um, isn't it bad to be drinking alcohol? I mean my great aunt Bertha died from diabetes 20 years ago. She had every appendage lopped off before she died."

Me as Uncle Vinnie: "I'm really sorry about your great aunt. However, I try to take care of myself and make sure my blood sugar numbers are in good shape. Now, if you don't mind, please bring us our chardonnay." I would snap my fingers, but I try to have some decency. :)

Our drinks usually appear within 2 minutes of said conversation.

But, there are some times Uncle Vinnie has to get rough with some folks. Another example, insurance companies who "think" they know what's best for you, but don't:

Insurance person: "Mr. Mansheim, you are only approved for 150 test strips a month."

Me: "I understand, BUT I test between 8-10 times a day. The math is approximately 240 strips. Could you please..."

Insurance person: "Well, you will need to consult your doctor before..."

Me as Uncle Vinnie: "Excuse me, NO, please contact the doctor and get the job done. Understand?"

Pharmacy calls me 10 minutes later with my test strips all ready with a nice ribbon around the package. Side note: Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Georgia did the opposite. They did all the work, including a call to my pharmacy, and followed up with a phone call to me. Now THAT was service.

However, yesterday's blog post from Kerri Sparling at SixUntilMe, really had me reaching for my black suit. Please read the post and the forum at TuDiabetes to get a better understanding. Essentially, a fellow diabetic was asked to remove her pump while swimming for fear of contaminating the neighborhood pool. The guilty party? Her home owner's association forced her to do it.

Uncle Vinnie ain't happy.

Uncle Vinnie is supposed to be in Jacksonville sometime mid-October. This woman, "Shipaddict", lives only 3 hours away from Jacksonville. Guess what Shipaddict? If this issue isn't resolved by the time I come to Jacksonville, I will make a visit and deal with the matter "personally". No one threatens a diabetic and gets away with it. Nobody.

Aside from that, Uncle Vinnie rarely has to show "his self". I try to handle situations with respect and patience. Even though it is 2009, there are still many people who simply don't understand this disease.

Then again, there are days I don't either...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Thoughts

A week in review with thoughts mixed in like a bowl full of chili...

(Yes, that's UGA!)

1. Fall brings thoughts of cooler weather and college football. Can't wait!

2. My trip to San Francisco was wonderful. The cool weather brought on the thoughts of #1.

3. My OmniPod behaved well albeit a "communication" error at 35,000 feet, mid-flight, coming home. I had backups, so problem was resolved.

4. Just as I was having a "low" on flight home (47), flight stewardess says to me, "Peanuts, pretzels, or cookies?" Beautiful timing...the pretzels did the trick nicely.

5. I gained 2 lbs on aforementioned trip and feel "heavy". Haven't exercised in 5 days. That, my friends, stinks!

6. Can't wait to have dinner with "D" friends on September 15! Woohoo!

7. Contemplating eating low-carb, low-protein foods. Any thoughts?

8. Contemplating continuous glucose monitoring, e.g. Dexcom or Navigator. Any thoughts?

San Francisco was fantastic from a visitor's point of view. The weather never got above 65 and there always seemed to be a breeze. Sadly, I would never live there since the cost of living is so rediculously high and the houses are too close together. Otherwise, I really enjoyed my time there. Enjoy the photos taken not too far from my hotel...

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Food is my biggest enemy. It really is. Pizza is my FAVORITE food.

(from Mellow Mushroom, one of my favorites)

My diabetes says, "no thanks." It alarms me when I set foot in Italian, Mexican, Italian-Greek, Greek, American, Chinese restaurants, buffets, and anything in between. Okay, so I exaggerate. Whether you are a type 1 or 2 diabetic, you understand the possible dilemmas that can occur. Namely, how do you count for carbs without seeming like an idiot?

For instance, there are many restaurants that don't (nor probably can't) tell you exactly how many carbs, in that plate full of angel hair pasta, are swimming in that ocean of rich bolognese sauce. Add warm, soft, sourdough bread and your favorite beverage and...

your diabetes is screaming louder than a young teenage girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.

(Nicholas as seen here on dLife)

Traveling can also add a kink in the proverbial hose. I recently visited an Italian-Greek restaurant, in Minneapolis, that had plate-fulls of pasta, yellow rice, couscous, etc. I had to rely on old school measurements, e.g. 1 cup of angel hair pasta is approximately 30 grams of carbs. (Did I even get that right?) All I know is that my insulin handled the approximations well. It doesn't happen all the time.

Sometimes I bottom out 30 minutes after dinner or a yucky 280. Oh the joys of food and guess work. Here are a few tips for all of us to follow:

1. When ordering at a restaurant, ask for a carb-count list.

2. If the 'mood' doesn't call for asking, half the portion size and take the rest home as leftovers.

3. Try to order in 'half' sizes. Many restaurants will cut the portion size in half and charge you a few dollars less. This is great for us travelers.

4. Split the meal with someone.

5. Try to keep the carb count low. Then again, this is coming from a guy who loves pizza. Go figure...

You may have other suggestions and tools that work for you. Please share away, so that we can help each other. Lastly, enjoy your food! Cheers!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Traveling With Diabetes

"Mark, how is traveling with diabetes? How do you prepare?"
I get this question asked to me by many diabetics, both new patients and first time travelers. I write this post from a pesonal perspective. Currently, my job has me traveling every other month, so it's only fitting that I write this before leaving for Minneapolis, MN.
Here are some tips and tricks:

1. Carry a backup of a backup of a backup. This includes two BG meters, two vials of Novolog, two vials of BG strips, 2-3 pods, batteries, low BG food, and anything else you could need in case of an emergency. You may think this is overkill. You may think that nothing is going to happen to you. You probably never saw the movie, "Die Hard 2". It's okay. But DO NOT falsely believe that, "nothin' bad's gonna happen to me" garbage. Life happens. Get over it.

Okay, so this is from Die Hard. Don't get caught without your shoes on. :D

2. As a pain as this may sound, test your BG while on the plane and preferably right before takeoff. Why? Your adrenaline is about to take your BGs either high or low. For me, my BG generally shoots 30-50 points higher. (Thank you, liver!) As such, I take an extra unit to correct.

3. Before traveling, it is always a good practice to re-verify flights, car rentals, and hotel stays. As I found out a couple of weeks ago, my hotel reservation was inadvertently cancelled. Something about a "system error". Thankfully they still had my initial reservation and all turned out well.

TSA [Transportation Security Administration]. I carry on all of my diabetes supplies. That said, I have NEVER had a problem with a TSA agent/officer. Even with the OmniPod, they have taken very good and considerable care of me. I've had my new PDM through the x-ray and hand scanned (wand). The PDM worked afterward without a problem. As a side story, the Jacksonville TSA folks asked if they could run my new PDM through both scanners. I was honored as a number of TSA personnel observed. It was nothing short of being great. They were extremely nice as generally everywhere I've been.

The more prepared you are, the better you will be in case an issue arises.

Oh, and have fun! Your positive attitude reflects to everyone you meet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


On Tuesday, August 4th, while on our camping trip, my endo called me with my blood results. "Mark, your A1c was a 6.8, up from a 6.4, but still in good range. I'm happy with all the results."

As much as I love my new endo, I was not a happy camper anymore.

6.8? Whaaaa? How? Why? Ack!

Suddenly, the eeeevil diabetic side of me chimed in. "Remember all the times you decided not correct when you were a 150? Yeah, those times 'cause you thought you were gonna do something that might cause your sugars to plummet? Do ya? What about the handful of potato chips I caught you with? What's your excuse this time?" I began to hang my head.

Then the more calming, angelic diabetic side chimed in, "Mark, snap back man! Okay get a grip and don't let this setback hurt you. You are better than this. Just think of all the great things that you are now doing like the OmniPod, the frequent exercise, volunteering with the JDRF, and losing 15 pounds. Your size 36 pants fit you again! You've had to purchase new undies! Yaaaaay you!"

I smiled. Okay so a 6.8 isn't all that bad, but it's a reminder for me to try my best every day. I'm gonna have bad days. Yet, it's how we handle these days that define us. (Wait! Haven't I said that before. Hmmm...) So today, laugh at your diabetes or tell the "evil" side to back off. You can do it. We, I mean, "I", believe in you.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Camping with the OmniPod

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor a member of any medical profession. This post references what works/worked for me and may not work for you. Please consult your physician before attempting any changes to your routine. Thank you. Now please stay tuned...

What comes to mind when you think of camping? Tents or cabins? Really roughing it (e.g. hunt/fish for your own food) or semi-(e.g. bring food, but find a way to cook it)? Or...

How am I gonna survive this with my diabetes?!? (Cue Mission Impossible theme music.)

We all know that no matter the circumstances, we need our supplies. In this case, my OmniPod PDM, extra pods, bottles of blood strips, bottles of Novolog and Lantus, syringes, and granola bars. I also carry a box of Ziploc sandwich bags (the double closure kind) for waterproofing purposes.

We (my sons, brother in-law, and his son) journeyed to Lake Blue Ridge in Morganton, Georgia for a 3 day camping trip. Complete with a large tent, coolers of food, and fishing poles, we ventured in to the woods. As a PWD and a person who has had survival training, I was ready. The weather was perfect: daytime highs in the upper 80's with lows in the high 50s's/low 60's. Fabulous!

So, how did me, my diabetes, and OmniPod do? Well, my BGs never went above 120. We fished, hiked, and played around. I went low once, but handled it with a granola bar. And the OmniPod? It worked like a champ.

As a person who has troubles keeping infusion sites stuck to my skin, I use Mastisol to keep my pods secured. Here is a post camp photo of my pod:

(the black is leftover Mastisol with dirt, ewww...)

Mastisol has been a life saver. Since my workouts tend to be for hours, I sweat a lot, so the poxy works very well. Mastisol comes off with Detachol or finger nail polish remover (without Acetone). After applying the Mastisol, I let it sit for a minute before placing the pod. I then secure the adhesive tape and I'm good to go. Pod changes generally last ten minutes or less.

Okay, back to the camping part. We all had a wondeful time and I look forward to doing it again soon.

Here is a list of camping and diabetic hints that work for me, pending the situation:

1. Keep your insulin out of the sun and preferably in a cooler, but not directly in contact with ice. Sudden temp changes to insulin cause problems, e.g. extreme hot to extreme cold. So, buffer/protect your insulin from these conditions. Survival tip with keeping insulin cool in the wild: Dig a hole, in the ground, about 4-6 inches deep and place your insulin container in it. Cover it with leaves or sticks. Mark the spot with a standing stick and brightly colored handkefchief or rag. The ground will keep your insulin cool.

2. Food: Natural granola bars, nuts, and trail mix are the ultimate "survival" foods. They tend not to spoil too much with temp changes and provide carbs, fats, and proteins that the body needs for fuel. We had coolers of food to cook, so none of us really suffered. (Did I mention a small bonfire, hotdogs, and smores?) :D

3. Water: Bottles of water are fine, but cumbersome and wasteful. Many camp sites have potable water spickets. The key is to stay hydrated, no matter the temperature. (Please boil your water, if you feel there is a problem.)

4. Expect the unexpected: Always prepare for the worst (carry several backups) and hope for the best. A good attitude and laughter go a long way.

5. Enjoy and have fun.

(after being in the woods for 3 days, ewww...) :D

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Men, Women, and Diabetes

In the world of diabetes management, who has a harder time: men or women? Let's face it, we all have our daily challenges. As I wrote this post, I just finished raising a 55 mg/dl blood glucose reading. Not fun, but not too troubling.

So, who really has it harder? Get ready for a laugh and learn session.

Ask any guy who has had this disease for awhile and they should tell you that women (yes, women) have a harder time managing this disease. Why? Duh!

Let's look at a few of the challenges women with diabetes have to face:
- Hormones, beginning from the "tween" age to well in to the golden years, reek havoc. They cause a beautiful blood sugar level to go from a 100 to a 310 in minutes. Men? Don't our hormones begin to level off at around 40 years of age? Oh, wait a minute... I'm 40!
- In addition to hormone havoc, emotions are tied in to this mess (hormones and irregular bg levels, cause emotions). Men can, and usually are to blame, but we won't discuss that here.
- Stress. Everything from school, peers, family, work (lather, rinse, & repeat), lions, tigers, and bears can cause BG levels to drop or soar. Do men really have this problem?
- And let's talk about family for a moment. For working women (single, married, and or married with children), the challenge to maintain normal BGs are a huge responsibility. If the word, "deadline(s)" causes your sugars to rise, then I'm sorrry. Really, it stinks.
- Oh, and let's not forget mothers who take care of diabetic childen! Face it, we men are sometimes CLUELESS (hello!) of all the work these wonderful women do. Talk about LOTS of responsibility and they make sure our undies get cleaned. Oh my!
- Food and exercise! In addition to all the other things diabetic women experience, they work very hard to take care of their health. Maintaining good BG control is paramount. Men? Yeah, we workout, too, but there's always time for a light beer (or two, or...) and a few pretzels.
- Lastly, the other health issues women face compared to men. I ain't touchin' this one. Nuh, uh. You can't make me. Men just don't belong in this particular point. We would lose miserably. (Some of you guys are gonna shake your heads in disbelief at this one. Okay, why don't you ask any mother what child birth is really like and see if you can pass that test. Hmmm?)

Special note: If you're not laughing, nodding you head in agreement, or smiling in the least by now, YOU need to get with the program. End special note.

Okay, take a deep breath. Yes, we diabetic men have our problems, too. When our BGs are high, we get angry or disappointed. When having a low, we open the fridge and eat everything in sight without much regard for our loved ones. We, too, hate stress and cry shed a tear during a great action movie. Other than that, the list is pretty small compared to women.

Truth be told, we all share much of the pain and joy that comes with this disease. We are all a part of a community that weeps and laughs together, and cares for each other with hopes of living long, fruitful lives.

By the way, are you smiling yet? :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When We Fail

Persons with diabetes are prone to our own, “failures”. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Forgetting your insulin shot/bolus with meal or even before bed
- Forgetting to take a blood test before said meal and shot/bolus
- Forgetting diabetes care supplies when doing whatever you do
- Forgetting some form of quick acting food when exercising
- Forgetting, or postponing, quarterly endocrinologist appointment
- Or just plain forgetting (non-selective, mind you)

We often call any one of these (and more), the big FAIL:
- For
- Again
- I

Diabetes is one, big, never-ending reminder that we are personally responsible for our choices. We cannot just leave our diabetes home, for the day, and expect everything to work out right. We’ve come to expect the unexpected (Why is my insulin taking soooo darn long?) and prepare for trouble (What? I’m low? Now?!? Time for sugar...).

Lastly, it’s how we handle the “fail” that defines us. Those of us who are long time diabetics know to pick ourselves off the floor, dust off, and get right back in the game. Thus the “fail” becomes a reminder, a lesson, that we are not perfect…

But we long to be. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Friends With Diabetes

By a blessing, my job had me travel to Minneapolis, MN, home to the U of Minn--Golden Gophers and...

Scott K. Johnson, fellow type 1 diabetic and blogger extraordinaire. Scott and I managed to break away, from our busy schedules, and have lunch just north of Minneapolis. Many of you probably want to know what Scott is really like, being the well known writer and all, and very good friend to fellow diabetic, George Simmons.


Scott is fun, authentic, kind-hearted, very intelligent, and all-around great guy. BTW, this is the short list. :) Amongst many of you whom I consider family (in the diabetes-world), Scott is a brother-in-arms who knows full well the daily frustrations and joys of being a diabetic. We laughed and bantered about our frustrations surrounding diabetes management. We long for that day of being truly free.

Lastly, we spoke of our love for writing and how much we appreciate the diabetic OC. Although our time was short, I truly believe I've made a friend for life. I look forward to meeting Scott again, hopefully very soon.

Okay, here are ALL the PWDs mentioned in a little less than 2 hours. Ready?
Shauntaye Williams (fellow member & good friend on dLife)
And all you d-Tweeps out there! You guys rock! :D

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Retinopathy Update

As mentioned here, I've been battling proliferative diabetic retinopathy for almost two years. I've experienced the trauma of near blindness and the seemingly countless laser surgeries to stop the bleeding. In January, I almost went totally blind in my left eye. For a brief moment, I thought my life--and all the wonderful things about it--were about to go away. I was fed up. I was tired. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I was drained.

In my 32+ years of living with diabetes, I was at a new low. Mind you, I've done a lot of great things as a pwd (person with diabetes). I married the love of my life. We have two awesome sons. I have a college degree. I am a martial artist of 25 years. I have tandem parachuted. I have repelled 100+ foot cliff sides; the list goes on...

But moderately cared-for diabetes threatened to take that away. I had become lazy. Ultimately, I had two choices: 1. keep doing the same-'ol, same-'ol or 2. get my butt moving. At the low point of my semi-depression (late January), my wife and I spoke of my choices. She knew the decision was entirely mine; consequences and all. After many tears, I chose #2 knowing I would have a fight on my hands.

Fast forward to my most recent retinal checkup. After months of exercise, eating much better, and being more d-proactive, I'm happy to report that my eyes are healing very, very well. So well, that I don't need to see my specialist again until December. I will always have retinopathy, but I feel much better about my overall state of health.

To this day, I've lost 15 lbs. Eat many more vegetables. Met lots of wonderful people experiencing the ups-and-downs of diabetes. And proven to my family that the good choices I make today, carry forward for a better tomorrow.

Never give up!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


My sons and I have recently taken up the sport of Squash. We really enjoy it and, after playing for hours, gives us a great workout. I used to play competitive racquetball--many years ago--so this is a nice alternative.

I suggest giving this lovely game a chance. And by all means, have fun!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Hassles of Diabetes

Sometimes diabetes can be filled with good hassles. For example:

Exercise - Whether I exercise for 30 minutes or 6 hours (like I did Saturday), controlling BG afterward, can be a hassle. I haven't been above 120 since...Thursday? I've suspended my pump 4 times in the last 4 days. How have I been treating the lows? Orange juice and granola bars.

Lows (hypoglycemia) - As mentioned above, when working out and suddenly see the dreaded, "spots", I know to stop, test, and treat. Whenever and wherever I exercise, I make sure I have juice and bars at the ready. I also carry Sport Beans for emergencies.

Insulin - When constantly exercising, insulin usage becomes a guessing game. I don't dare suspend my pump for a long time (longer than 1 hour), so I generally set a temp basal rate. Now add food to the equation and...well you get the picture.

Well, sorry for the short post, but off to exercise land... :D

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Great Friends; Great Places

Even though I just met Tim and Alison, over at Shoot Up or Put Up, I feel as though I've known them for a long time. They are much like close family who you wish you could see every day. Yes, we are also diabetics who enjoy humor while having good discussions on living with this darn disease.

Tim is located in Edinburgh, Scotland, [Note: it's not pronounced, "edinburg"] while Alison is in Liverpool, England.

Diabetes isn't just an "American" disease or a United Kingdom disease. No, there are diabetics all over the world. I've met diabetics as far away as Egypt!

Please visit Tim and Alison's blog and enjoy the goodness.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Lows and Highs

This past Sunday afternoon, I had a rude interuption of the hypoglycemia sort. In my opinion, "lows"--as we diabetics like to call them--are more manageable than "highs" or hyperglycemia. Case in point: my BG was a 43. I immediately suspended my insulin pump (for 30 minutes) and ate a handful of mountain trail mix to get a boost. Twenty minutes later and I'm sitting at a comfortable 130.

Not that the low slowed me down, but, it was recognizing the low that kept me out of trouble. You see, we were starting our way home from a family member's house when the "drunken master" reared it's ugly head. Before getting in to the car, I handed over the keys to my wife, sat in the back seat next to my youngest son, and tested. He announced the results to my wife. Thankfully, we were only 5 minutes from home and I really did not want the Sour Patch wormy thingies my sons wanted me to eat. Give me chocolate or give me death! Nothing else will do. (Okay yes, other things will do, but I prefer chocolate. :) ]

Highs, on the other hand, just simply suck. Imagine taking anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours to combat high blood sugar. No thanks, I'll take a low any day! Sure, both come with their own set of "baggage", e.g. energy drain, headaches, various bodily pains, but I'll take the ability to eat/drink to treat a low than not with a high (hyperglycemia is usually treated with insulin first, then you can do as you please).

All in all, neither prevent me from enjoying life, especially with an active family. Diabetes is an active disease. We can't pause it, stop it, or will it to go away. So, we must stay on it and do our best every day.

"Dad, are you sure you don't want a sour gummy worm? They're a little warm from being in the car..."

"Uh, no, really, I'll be just fine..." Yuck. :D Our boys are truly awesome...

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's the End of the World

As a type 1 diabetic, I sometimes find it dismal to search the latest headlines on diabetes. If I stare long enough, I'll find articles that relate to information that could easily cause depression. Not something I particularly want. I'm mentally unstable enough as it is. :D

So in light of the goofy diabetes-related headlines, here's a little video for you:
R.E.M. - It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I feel fine)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

It's time for a Friday wrap-up!

1. A BIG congratulations to Team Type 1 for winning this year's Race Across America. The 8-man squad finished the 3,021-mile race in a record time of 5 days, 9 hours, and 5 minutes. Talk about a great inspiration for all of us living with diabetes. Way to go Team Type 1!
2. Had dinner last night with volunteer members of the Atlanta chapter of the JDRF. We shared stories and similar experiences. I always find it amazing to meet great people who are doing their best to manage this disease.
3. I'm honored to meet (in person or vitually) a number of diabetics who write almost every day of their experiences with diabetes. I highly enjoy their blogs for inspiration with a dose of humor. They are:

Kerri Sparling author of Six Until Me and dLife Editor
George Simmons author of The Born-Again-Diabetic Blog

There are many others in the d-world that I would love to virtually meet as well (or in person if you're ever in Atlanta). If you get a chance, try these sites:
Diabetes Mine
Tu Diabetes
Diabetes Daily

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New OmniPod PDM Review

Since putting on the OmniPod some two months ago, I'm completely sold that tubeless pumping is the only way to go. I really enjoy (love?) it! However...a new "device" has entered my life (cue sexy jazz music).

Oh yeah...the new color OmniPod PDM. Albeit a few shortcomings, e.g. turning on the PDM before taking a BG, being a little loud, and still no vibrate feature, this PDM is easy on the eyes with very clear step-by-step instructions. This PDM is much slimmer than the old one, lighter, and easier to grip. The battery life is about the same. I've been asked by co-workers and strangers if it's a Blackberry. ;-)

I'm interested to see what OmniPod will do next, especially with the tide turning to continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS). Rumor, and I do emphasize rumor, has it that OmniPod and Dexcom are trying to manufacture an all-in-one Pod with built-in CGMS. I am not yet a fan of CGMS, BUT, I am looking forward to seeing this device.

Anyway...if you are already an OmniPod user, and are contemplating the new PDM, my advice is to get it if you can. One last note:

You can believe that both MiniMed and Animas are working on a tubeless pump solution. The numerous improvements will cause pump manufacturers to become more innovative, which in turn, should benefit us.

Have a great day!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Learn to Adjust

The heat here in Georgia can, at times, seem tropical. For instance, mix high 80 degree temperatures--with high humidity--and you get the tropics, but without the coconuts. It's this type of weather that my insulin pump and I do not get along. Due to my skin type and the heat, the pump insertion, aka "pod", keeps popping off.

I have Mastisol [skin adhesive] which works very well, but it leaves my skin a little battered. So, for at least two days, I have gone back on shots. I'm not happy about it, but adjustments are sometimes necessary when different conditions arise. [I'm playing in a couple of softball games--first base--if you should know. :) ]I've interacted with a number of diabetics who have experienced similar situations. One in particular, goes back on shots every summer, and returns to pumping in the winter.
I'm open to suggestions/recommendations if anyone has any.

Have a great day!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Diabetics and Diabetes in the News

Needless to say, it's been a freaky week of diabetes-related news. Consider the following:

Sotomayor breaks ankle...

Bret Michaels injured at the Tony Awards...

Missing companion dog crosses two counties...

(You're probably wondering about the above link. Trust me, it's a good read.)

Monster cupcake attacks diabetic

(Okay, not really, but pretty funny if you ask...)

And yes, I am contemplating video blogging or aka, "VLOGging". I think that's right, but not absolutely sure. Have a great week!


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sorry I haven't posted in a while...

Here's the latest health update:
My new OmniPod is working great. I've had a few very minor speed bumps, but otherwise the pump works wonderfully. A big "thank you" goes to the OmniPod support team at Insulet. They are always kind and patient dealing with my troubles.

I haven't been able to cycle much, due to family activities, e.g. constructing a landscape area for a fire pit complete with pavers. Am I nuts? Yes, but that's beside the point. I have two boys who need to experience the goodness, and safety, that comes with a fire. We purchased a fire pit, at Lowes, and have had a blast making smores. No, I don't eat them, but watching my family have fun is good enough for me.

I am still losing weight, but gaining muscle mass as I do different exercises. I stationary bike 3 times a week [40+ minutes], but run or play with our boys the other 4. I put on a pair of 38 size jeans yesterday and they fell down around my ankles. I've had to tighten my belt another notch to prevent "wardrobe malfunctions". Co-workers want to know my secret. It's called, "sweat". I tell my wife and boys that if you don't sweat, during a workout (other than swimming), then you're not working out hard enough. Thank you, Jack Lalanne!

My oldest son and my wife are now exercising daily and eating differently. My son is taking it so seriously, that he is sad when he forgets to exercise. He doesn't realize that swimming, for 4 hours, is a great workout. I can't wait to see our "new" family in the coming months.

Big kudos to the new Wii game, Active Personal Trainer. My family loves it! I highly recommend this product. In my opinion, it is much better than Wii Fit.

Final words:
Diabetes is a give-and-take disease that must be watched with careful diligence and determination. I personally admire diabetics that want to live longer, healthier lives. Many of these people I've encountered on and here around Atlanta. We have our good days, and not so good, but overall this disease won't conquer us. We must never give up hope that one day there will be a cure. We must never give up.

Have a great day!


Friday, May 08, 2009

Stuff Happens

Okay, just a few ramblings for a Friday...
1. It's no secret that I'm working my butt off to get my diabetes under better control. I've lowered my A1c to 6.4 and I workout every day. But darn it if I go to bed last night, with a 150 BG, and I wake up with a 233. Why?!? I didn't snack. UGH!
2. Why is it when you're in a hurry to get home, and while trying to be a very responsible, patient driver, someone lets out all the freakin' idiots on the road?
Note to the Georgia driver I almost ran off the road: The posted speed limit was 55, not 35, and you were driving in the fast lane with very little traffic. Sorry to pull the James Bond-like manuever on you, but you deserved it. :D
3. This is for all the teachers out there who believe dumping a ton of useless, God-forbidden homework on students, just before summer break, is the right thing to do. Studies have shown that returning students only retain approximately 25 percent of what they learned during the previous school year. It doesn't take a genius to understand that piling on the homework, before summer break, is wrong.
4. One final note: Ladies and gentlemen, if you're at a restaurant and you see a guy taking a little device, poking his finger, and putting a drop a blood on another device, try not to look shocked. It's 2009 and 98 percent of the world's population has heard of diabetes at one point in the lives. Please don't freak out. In fact, it's okay to engage and ask questions. As my friends can testify, I'm really a nice guy.

Okay, enough rambling. So, in the immortal words of Porky Pig, "That's all folks!" Have a great weekend!


Monday, May 04, 2009


Accidents are bound to happen. Especially if you drive 50+ miles roundtrip every day. Last Thursday was my turn.

First of all, this is my third vehicle that I've been fond of, but the first where I could carry our entire family without worrying about safety.

I was the lead in a 3-car bash. Not fun. The kind gentlemen, who caused the melee, totaled his car. The poor woman, in the middle of it all, received severe damage to both front and back of her car. My car? The bumper? Gone. The swing door? Gone. Spare tire? Gone.

Thankfully, everyone involved was very kind and patient. I was particularly blessed by both the Fulton County Police officer, who was already on-scene with another accident, and the Georgia State Police officer who showed awesome professionalism throughout the ordeal.

Now comes the hard part: the repair work... Ugh!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Roswell Criterium

On Sunday, April 26th, I and our boys went to the 2009 Roswell Criterium in the city of Roswell, Georgia. For those of you new to cycling, a criterium is a road race which takes place in a small amount of space, e.g. town square.

My intent for going was twofold: 1. For our sons to experience a bike race and 2. To hopefully bump into members of the pro cycling team, Team Type 1. This pro cycling and triathlon team, is comprised of members who live with insulin-dependent diabetes [type 1s & 2s].

The weather was beautiful, but slightly warm. We parked at the city of Roswell government building and walked over. During our walk, we witnessed the boys 16-18 year-olds racing. Man, those kids were fast! It was truly amazing what they could do.

Seeing as lunch time was approaching, we ate at our friends' restaurant, The Fickle Pickle. The food was awesome, especially for two boys who were starving at the time. :) We sat right in front of the Start/Finish line and watched the cyclists go by. Every time the announcer mentioned the sprint, on the last lap, both boys jumped from the table to the fence to see the finish. Very, very cool.

We stayed almost 4 hours, but due to a prior diabetes-related engagement, we left before Team Type 1 showed. :( Oh, well. We'll try to see them in the near future. All in all, we had a great time and developed a deeper appreciation for the riders. Both boys now want become bike racers some day... We'll see.

Have a great day!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day

Mondays are never good. I spent my weekend having a blast [especially at one little boy's b-day party :)] albeit seasonal allergy complications with our oldest son. However, we still managed to enjoy a beautiful weekend.

Mondays can suck the "fun" right out of me. I want to be outside having fun: playing with our boys, riding my new bike, etc, etc. But alas, I'm updating projects, tuning systems, creating documentation, and (sigh) attending meetings.

All workdays must, and I do mean must, come to an end. As soon as I get home, I embrace my family, strip off the business clothes, and change in to my "fun" clothes for an hour of non-stop playing. I even got to ride my new bike for a little while. It was truly awesome!

It was a beautiful day...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thoughts on my 40th

Today, I was born 40 years ago and as I reflect on my life, I know that I am a truly blessed man.

If someone were to have said to me--back when I was a sarcastic teenager--that my life would one day be filled with special people, filled with love and joy, I probably would've scoffed. If someone were to have said that surviving through the trials and tribulations, I would be a much better, stronger person, I would've laughed.

But here I am, on this my 40th birthday, with more optimism and motivation than ever before in my life:
- I am married to the woman of my dreams; my best friend and forever love
- I am blessed with the two most adventurous, loving boys
- I am surrounded with lots of loving family and friends
- I have experienced the triumphs and challenges of managing a disease [32+ years with diabetes] with hope for a cure
- I gave my life to God, through His Son, who watches over me and our family everyday. His love endures forever

God willing, I am hopeful to see another 40 years and witness a great future. There is hope today for a better tomorrow.
God's love to you all,


Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Well, close enough...

I received a call from my Insulet service provider, late yesterday afternoon, with great news. The OmniPod pump is headed my way!

Yeah, baby!!!

We (Insulet and I) conquered the trials and tribulations with acquiring this thing. We encountered miscommunication, faxing, re-faxing, doctor calls, and constantly hounding insurance companies to move forward. All of this just to get an insulin pump!

If there's anything to be said, it's this: Don't ever give up. Don't stop fighting to take care of yourself. Believe that you have the ability to accomplish great things. Live for others so that they may understand and help find a cure for diabetes.

Never give up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Many of you know that I suffer from diabetic proliferative retinopathy. I have an exam every 3 months to check on any new capillary growth and how well my eyes are healing. Yesterday, I had a 3 month follow-up appointment to examine bleeding that occurred in my left eye back in January.

The good news is that the healing is going extremely well. A vitrectomy was not needed, nor was a laser surgery. I can't thank you all enough for your thoughts and prayers. The prognosis was also hopeful with the slight chance of future bleeding. But my doctor was very confident that if bleeding did occur, it would only help in the healing. I know this sounds weird, but I have faith in my retinal opthamologist.

Now the bad news. For the last two days, my blood sugars have been like a roller coaster. This is due to all the stress I've been under since early Monday. Stress such as the eye appointment, project deadlines [work], and employee-personnel changes [work] have killed my blood sugar levels. Even as I write this, the anxiousness hasn't worn off; I can feel it affecting me.

Thankfully, I am monitoring my sugars every 2 hours and making adjustments as I go. The OmniPod insulin pump can't come here soon enough...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This morning was "unofficially" my first full month of riding my exercise bike every morning. YEA!

But, like every twist and turn in our lives, something went amuck. My stationary bike's speedometer crashed. I had to stop riding at the 5 mile mark, since the squeeling noise was so bad and the speed kept bouncing from 10 mph to 40. Not good. Needless to say, I was severely bummed. Especially since I was sooooo excited to work out this morning. :D

Alas, I will continue my trek after I make a few adjustments/repairs...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

OmniPod Status

Just learned that everyone is now communicating and I've been pre-approved for the OmniPod. Yea! More to come...
In the past, diabetics had to constantly fight for their care, e.g. battle insurance companies for coverage, battle doctors for more supplies, battle both to play nicely with each other. In many cases, this similar activity goes on today.

My parents had to fight for insurance coverage for me. And God help me if my diabetes prescriptions ever changed. Personally, I have fought insurance companies and some doctors for increased blood glucose strips, long before the DCCT [Diabtes Control and Complications Trial] was ever published.

In 1999, I successfully fought for an insulin pump. And yet throughout the years, I've learned to communicate very well between different parties. Right now, I'm communicating between three parties: my doctor, my insurance company, and the Insulet Corporation--makers of the OmniPod.

The great news is, the insurance company and Insulet are getting along very well. Strange news is, my doctor's office and Insulet are miscommunicating. I find this strange due to how strongly my doctor wants me on a pump, but the office just can't get things right with the pump maker. Go figure, right?

Guess who now has to steer the ship? Yeah, another day in our lives as diabetics. However, the fight goes on...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm Not Perfect!

So, here I am having a streak of awesome blood sugars, when WHAM! I get hit with a 290 after breakfast.


'Cause I wanted pancakes for breakfast. The all-mighty carb breakfast. All I wanted was that delicious taste of butter and sugar-free maple syrup on a wonderfully hot pancake. Is that too darn much to ask? I even thought I gave myself enough insulin to cover...

I guess I didn't.

Too many bad carbs...bad, bad carbs. Bad me for wanting too many bad carbs. At least I caught it in time.

I should've had the slice of rye toast, with turkey on it, like my wife suggested. I know...I know, I'll get over this. :(

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Staying Motivated

When I began planning my exercise routine, my wife and I agreed that the time of day to exercise was critical. Why?

1. I drive 25 miles each way to work everyday; out at 6:30 am, in by 5:30-6ish pm.

2. After I get home, I help my wife with either the kids' homework or cooking dinner (yes, I cook and everyone is still living)

3. Intense exercise before bedtime is NEVER a good idea (waking up at 2:30 am with a 25 blood sugar is not cool)

4. In the past, my body always did better with morning exercise

Before my stationary biking venture, I awoke every morning at 5:30 am and was out the door at 6:30. Now, I am up at 5 am (or sometimes 4:45 am), test, use the potty, drink a little water, then bike.

So, how do I stay motivated even though my body sometimes screams for more sleep? In addition to prayer, music, and writing, I search for articles and blogs on the web that motivate me. Such sites as, Team Type 1, Jay Hewitt, and are just a few. These sites offer so much valuable information on diabetes, exercise, and diet.

Being motivated to take care of my disease is a step closer to preventing further complications. Staying motivated means that I don't live in fear of what is around the corner; be it further retinopathy, neuropathy, heart disease, or cancer.

Keep well and...

get motivated!


Monday, March 09, 2009

Bad Diet / Bad Results

Sometimes I get the urge to eat something really bad.

Okay, not really, really bad, but you get the point. And, hey, I've been doing very well on my stationary bike! I deserve a couple of greasy meals, right?

Sooooo, let's just say a double-cheeseburger, chicken philly, and an order of fries made their way into my diet this past weekend. No, not in one meal as some of you might believe. :)

Ye ole blood sugar did very well. I managed to keep it tight amidst my greasy binge. My body though, did not appreciate the intake of said foods. Let's just say, it immediately flushed out my foolish choices.

Ah yes, my body is feeling much, much better now.

Back to yogurt and salads...
Eat well!


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Exercise: Day 12

Today, I switched up my routine.

I noticed yesterday that I wasn't sweating as much when riding my typical 10 miles on the stationary bike. Sexy, isn't it? [Yeah, I don't know if I mentioned this, but I began riding 10 miles on February 18th]

Today, I decided to ride 15. The ride went fantastic and no small creatures were injured... :)

In preparation for this increase, I lowered my Lantus to 18 units at bedtime and Novolog to 1 u. per 15 grams. My blood sugar levels have not been above 130 in 3 days. However, I have had my share of lows, which is why I lowered my insulin intake.

In other news...
If you haven't signed up already, the Atlanta Diabetes Expo is on March 21st at the Georgia World Congress Center. This is a good opportunity to attend symposiums and see displays of diabetes-related information.

Stay well!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My Diabetes Life: A Short Story

I wrote this back in 2006 as a series of blog posts. I have made updates along with repairing grammatical errors.

My Life as a Diabetic: A Short Story of My Diagnosis, Life, and Encouragement for Others
Mark Mansheim

On December 19th, 2008, I celebrated having Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes for 32 years. I will turn 40 in April. I am reminded every day how truly blessed I am to be living with a treatable disease. In addition, I was diagnosed over a year ago with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This "disease" hit me without warning. Thankfully, my opthamologist has done terrific work with my eyes. I have hope that, with proper eye care and diabetic treatment, my eyesight will be fully restored.

I have recently started stationary biking 10 miles a day to get back in shape; for both diabetes and body-wise. The effort is paying off. I am losing weight and feeling fantastic.

Lastly, never give up. Don't succumb to a negative attitude. Don't let fools steer you off course. Find support from people who understand. Lastly, please know that there is a God who loves you, not as you're supposed to be--because you will never be perfect--but as you are.

Chaper 1: The Wrong Diagnosis

This series of stories details my diagnosis and life with insulin-dependent diabetes. In short, I’ve been a diabetic for almost 30 years. I will be celebrating my 30th year of diabetes in late December of this year. My diagnosis is almost 30 years old, so the details are a little fuzzy. I will do my best to recall what happened.

In early December, 1976, I was a seven year old boy living in Monroe, Wisconsin. I was in the first grade. As I recall, I began feeling as if I had the flu. I began vomiting and couldn’t stop. My parents tried everything they knew to control this “flu”, which included drinking broths and clear fluids. My pediatrician believed I had the flu as well, and recommended more fluids. It would just have to run its course.

The vomiting didn’t stop; it got worse. I couldn’t even keep water down. I recall my parents taking me to the emergency room of St. Clare Hospital in Monroe.

Immediately, the ER personnel must have seen that I was dehydrated and administered an I.V., which probably contained some form of glucose. I subsequently went into a coma.

Now I could go into details of what happened to me while I was in the coma, including a near-death experience. But I’ll save this for another day. Yes, I was briefly in Heaven. No, God wasn’t ready for me at that particular time.

During this time, my pediatrician was baffled as to what was happening. I was unresponsive and my veins had collapsed. The only thing he knew to do was to contact an old friend of his, who was a pediatric specialist, at the University of Wisconsin. (Go Badgers! Sorry... I had to get that in.)

This doctor came straight from Madison, went over to my bed, smelled my breath, and immediately knew that I was in a state called, “diabetic ketoacidosis”. My parents witnessed this firsthand, so that is where I get most of this account.

I pulled out of the coma during a surgical cut-down on my vein, in my right ankle. I still have the 3” scar to prove it. According to the doctors, they had me awake briefly during the procedure to monitor my consciousness. It was here that I experienced my second “heavenly” encounter, but the details can wait. All in all, I was in a coma for almost a week.

The specialist who diagnosed me with diabetes told my parents that the insulin producing cells, in my pancreas, were gone. He was going to try a new procedure, by injecting large amounts of insulin in me, in an attempt to revitalize some insulin production in the pancreas. Suffice to say, it didn’t work. But, the insulin worked wonderfully.

For the next five days, I was poked, prodded, and forced to eat foods that would gag a bear. The blood testing occurred every 15 minutes including vial draws every hour. For a meek 7-year old, this was very traumatic. I wailed, constantly. My parents told me that everyone, including the Catholic priests that prayed over me, wept and often left the room in distress. I was being raped by a disease that no one could take away.

The blood draws happened in the early morning hours as well. Two nurses would come in and hold me down while another drew blood. I was in hell. There are really no words to describe the actual pain and horror that took place.

After a week of this testing, I finally stabilized. I met with my diabetes specialist and dietician to begin understanding this disease. Basically, I would now need insulin to keep me alive for the rest of my life. My diet would need to change as well. No more sugar sodas or sweets. Life was better for a time. I became more tolerable to the pain and even met Santa Claus while in my hospital bed. You can only imagine what I wanted for Christmas.

It was now December 23rd and a crucial decision had to be made: Christmas was just two days away and my doctor spoke to my parents about letting me go. But first, they had to learn to give me insulin shots.

I remember a nurse handing my father a syringe and an orange to practice administering insulin. He was very distraught. I told him it was going to be all right. After his practice on the orange, I was next. My father is one of the toughest men I know. This was the first time I saw him weep. My dad passed the test to allow me to go home. Two days later, I celebrated Christmas in my home.

Chapter 2: Encounters with Diabetes

I believe children with diabetes encounter more personal battles, than adults with diabetes do. I had my fair share.

When I was ten, my parents and I learned the difficulties of the flu virus. The flu and diabetes do not get along. In 1980, there weren’t too many diabetic ‘tools’ to help keep it under control with the flu (portable blood testing or small insulin pumps). And, therefore, I would dehydrate and wind up in the hospital.

On this particular occasion, we were living in Denton, Texas and I had two (not just one) excellent pediatricians. It was late February and my parents were taking me to the emergency room for fluids. I was cramping really bad, due to the high blood sugars. To alleviate the pain, the ER physicians gave me codeine through my IV.

Unbeknownst to all of us, I was highly allergic to codeine. I broke out in hives and began vomiting all over again. Needless to say, I had to spend the night in the hospital to stabilize.

During the night, I was told my regular pediatricians were out of town and they had just hired a new doctor to join their group. He came into my room, introduced himself, and wanted to give me a large dose of Regular insulin to cover my last high uring sugar readings. His nurse already had the syringe drawn up.

By this time in my short diabetic life, I knew I was a little sensitive to Regular insulin. Large doses were NOT recommended to me. So upon hearing that this new doctor wanted to give me a large dose, I disagreed with him and I requested to call my parents (who had already gone home for the evening).

In short, my dad did not take this news kindly at all. He informed the new doctor of my insulin sensitivity and told the doctor that I should be given a smaller dose. The doctor, apparently wanting to show his authority, argued with my dad. Not a good move on his part. My dad told the doctor that he was coming back to the hospital and they would discuss the matter further. According to my mother, this was my dad’s way of saying, “I’m coming to kick your butt, so you better watch out.”

As you can tell, I didn’t receive the large dosage and had a great blood sugar reading the next morning. I went home afterwards. Subsequently, the new doctor was severely disciplined for his behavior and told never to treat me again.

Diabetics face battles similar to this one every day. But ignorant doctors aren’t the only trouble-makers. Insurance companies and school nurses can cause just as much, if not more, trouble for insulin-dependent diabetics.

Chapter 3: Insurance, Nurses, and Diabetes… Oh My!

Before the “Americans With Disabilities Act”, diabetics were told they wouldn’t be covered by insurance companies due to their, “pre-existing condition”. This verbiage says that, since you were born with this disease, we can’t nor won’t help you treat it. Depending on what state you live in today, insurance companies can still turn you down using the pre-existing condition clause.

It’s 2006 and you would think insurance companies would give just a little, right? The “Americans With Disabilities Act” allowed states to override insurance companies who turn you down. The state of Georgia is one of those. However, the state cannot set the costs to the patient. So, insurance companies can rake you for your disease. As a diabetic, I can be charged as much as $5,000 a month for insurance coverage. Sad, isn’t it?

Insurance coverage is a strange beast. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy. One minute you’re covered, the next you’re dropped faster than a brick off a bridge. Coverage can mean paying enormous co-payments for necessary diabetes supplies or paying very little. Lack of coverage can mean a person cannot ably manage their diabetes. Therefore, this may cause complications in the future.

Let’s move on to school nurses, shall we? School nurses are wonderful for treating a child’s minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. They can even contact parents if a child is experiencing a fever or stomach virus. But add “diabetes” to their daily grind, and they run into trouble.

Back before the days of diabetes education, thanks in large part to The American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, school nurses wanted NO responsibility in taking care of a student with diabetes. It was like having the plague. (Mark, can your disease spread?) And if school nurses made a big enough stink, they got their way.

There were a few school nurses, especially in high school and college, who were very gracious and helped me whenever I needed it.

Many states now have legislation giving protection to students with diabetes in schools. Now, school nurses MUST offer help to diabetic students. This isn’t always the case as every now and then I read an article, where a school nurse refuses to care for a diabetic student.

I’m sure students, who suffered from cancer, food allergies, dyslexia, asthma, or epilepsy, received the same lack of treatment. Battles can leave gaping wounds that take time to heal. As I became older, I relied less on school nurses and more on my ability to take care of my disease. I knew my body and disease better than anyone. My friends have all by been very supportive and sometimes enjoy the humor 'behind' having diabetes.

Chapter 4: The Insulin Pump

Throughout my active teenage and adult years, I’ve had troubles controlling my diabetes. In 1987, I began taking 4-6 shots a day to get under control. Then in 1999, I finally took the dive and went for an insulin pump.

Insulin pumps have come a long way since their inception. They used to be larger than an adult’s shoebox. The original was so large it had to be carried on the person's back. Now, they’re as small as a pager. I’ve been asked if mine was a new form of a Blackberry.

The insulin pump works similar to an intravenous pump. A small plastic needle, or canula, is inserted into my abdomen. I receive a constant flow of insulin during the day and take extra amounts when I eat a meal. I change the insertion site every 3-5 days. The only complications I have are when I swim for a long time or profusely sweat; then the insertion comes out. All in all, it beats taking 4-6 shots a day.

My A1c, or average blood sugar levels, have improved as well. I range from 6.8 to a 7.0, which is personally fine for me. I don’t hold firm to the belief that a lower A1c is the best, e.g. A1c levels below 6.0.

I use a Medtronic Minimed Paradigm 511 and generally take 35-40 units a day. When my blood sugars run low, I temporarily suspend the pump. And speaking of blood sugars, I test my blood sugar 5-7 times a day. I use a Lifescan OneTouch Ultra as my blood machine. It only takes 5 seconds.

Every now and then I’ll meet someone wearing an insulin pump and talk them about it and their diabetes. Many diabetics are very conscious of their pump and are quiet about it. I have known a few diabetics who, out of fear, don’t want their disease made public. As much as I find this sad, I understand their choice.

What does the future hold for insulin pumps?

Word has it that Medtronic Minimed is working toward an insulin pump AND blood machine together. I don’t know if I particularly care for this type of machine, but I’m impressed that companies, like Medtronic, are trying to make the lives of diabetics better.

Chapter 5: Bitterness and the One Who Saved Me

In my late teens and early twenties, I experienced deep bitterness toward my diabetes. I had friends and family who understood my resentment. I mean, how do you really console someone with a disease?

As a young adult, I wanted to be a police officer or federal agent. I wanted to be someone who made a difference in society and fight the bad guys. But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. There were too many restrictions against diabetics at that time. (Not anymore.)

I was also short and stocky. I had to work out double-time to get in shape and try to prevent low-blood sugars (hypoglycemia). The martial arts were a big help in this area.

However through all this (family, friends, and exercise), I was still bitter. I had even met other diabetics, who said my diagnosis was unique, and they completely understood my bitterness. As much as I loved their friendship, I was unwilling to let bitterness go.

Not only was I bitter, but angry as well. I could get angry very fast. During these troubled times, it didn’t take much for me to go over the edge. I was irresponsible and sometimes, uncontrollable. If someone were to chide me or start trouble, I would finish it.

Thankfully, I’m not that way anymore. So, what happened to me that relieved the bitterness?

Easy, I met Jesus the Christ.

I met Jesus through my oldest son (who was almost 3 at the time) and long story short, I laid my bitterness at His feet. Now when I have a bad day with my disease, and occasionally I do have them, I try to calmly take care of it and let the anger go.

God, and His Son, understands me better than I do myself. I believe God works wonders everyday that we fail to see. He alone gives me the ability to be a loving and honorable husband, and loving, grace-filled dad.

Diabetes is still a priority in my life. I take my health seriously. I still love a good double cheeseburger, bratwurst, and a bite of chocolate, but not as often as I would like. I believe in moderation, not overconsumption. I love Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, Diet Mountain Dew, and drink 60 ounces of water a day. I’ve learned to love cycling and what it does for my body.

Chapter 6: Words of Encouragement

In my almost 30 years of diabetes, I have met diabetics from all over the world. I've seen how most people handle their disease with great attitudes.

I have seen…
- Fellow diabetics do great things, e.g. local and federal law enforcement, tri-athletes, and adventurers
- Babies with diabetes, grow to be teenagers who are very, very responsible with their disease and do great things
- The tragic results of complications due to neglect. Most have blindness, heart disease, and amputations

For every story of neglect, there have been stories of triumph: Stories of people with diabetes climbing large mountains, winning Olympic medals, becoming great physicians, or great parents. There is no end to the possibilities.

Lastly, I’ve counseled a number of folks initially diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve been to hospitals so many times, that I don’t care to remember them all. None of those affected me as much as seeing my own baby sister, who was in her twenties at the time, get diagnosed with this disease. She went through a little hell, but all-in-all she’s doing wonderfully now.

After living with diabetes for almost 30 years, I’ve had little complications aside from an occasional infection, flu, or cold. I greatly enjoy watching my oldest son train for his Tae Kwon Do and my youngest son having such an adventurous spirit. My wife is the love of my life. She’s been through many a good and bad day with my disease. She knows that I can become quite ‘moody’ if my blood sugar is too high or too low. Therefore, I do my very best to keep my blood sugar levels under control.

I truly believe that one day diabetics will be able to do anything from piloting the space shuttle to being an elite special-forces soldier. I also believe this disease will be cured. Researchers are getting closer and closer to ending diabetes for good.

But first, stay in control of your diabetes and be responsible for your choices. Do your best everyday and have a positive attitude. Sure, some days aren’t going to go your way. But, there is a tomorrow and there is a better way. Never limit yourself. Don’t ever give up!