Thoughts from over the middle of the Atlantic…..

This post has absolutely nothing to do with diabetes and that’s ok….proves I can, in fact think about something else.

Have you ever loved a book so much you just had to tell everyone? I’m reading that kind of book right now, just about halfway finished.

I grew up in south Florida and for as far back as I can remember I knew about Ernest Hemingway. I think everyone did, during that time frame anyway. I remember reading one of his books in the seventh grade, not because of the subject matter, but because of him. Like most people’s opinion of him, to me he was larger than life. As a seventh grader, I thought he had seen everything ,as well traveled as he was. The grand trips to Africa, living in Cuba, sitting in a bar all day, all seemed very exotic. And so, I grew up enamored of this giant. Maybe outside the state of Florida people didn’t hear as much about him, I don’t know.

Fast forward to a few months ago….. I was in one of the warehouse club stores in the book section and I came across an interesting looking book. Just glancing at it, the story seemed about Madrid, which I’ve been trying to find a reason to like since I’ve been going there so much lately. So, I bought it. It turns out this book is second in what I hope is a continuing series. The book is titled “Love and Ruin” by Paula McLain and is a fictional account of Hemmingway’s second wife , Martha Gellhorn’s life. I adore this book. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book where I felt I really was inside the character’s head. I want to savor every word, but I also want to hurry to what comes next. I want this book to last forever, but I want to read the other book too. To hear such intimate details of their lives (realizing it is a fictional account) just fascinates me. And, she describes him just as I imagined him all those years ago. I almost feel as if I’ve met him.

I hope everyone has a book that makes history come alive for them the way this book has done for me and if you get the chance to read it, I hope you will enjoy it as I have.

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Preparing my Type 1 Diabetes for a Hurricane…

On my layover in London last night, I was thinking about how lucky I am. We had a hurricane come perilously close to my home. The eye sat some 30+ miles of the coast, which means 31 miles from my house. I was thinking about all the preparations I go through to prepare the house and , while it probably sounds strange to you, to prepare my diabetes. While preparing the house, shutters go up or down (depending on the type), outdoor furniture gets brought in, and things get tied down or removed entirely (all my bird feeders) . Then there’s the shopping (we try to start in May and buy a little at a time)….batteries, canned goods, shelf stable items, and junk food (to ease the fear during the height of the storm). And water, lots of it. We need water for drinking, for pets, for flushing, for cleaning etc. The list goes on and on . It’s all in preparation to exist after the storm…in case there is no power, in case there is no running water. We buy propane to run the grill to cook, I also have a one burner butane stove.

But, to prepare my diabetes, I had to invent my own system and hope that it works. If you’re new here, I have type 1 diabetes and my pancreas makes no insulin, which is an essential hormone to live. So, I take insulin. That insulin is somewhat fragile and must be refrigerated…..which requires power. So my system consists of 5 coolers. The day prior to the storm, I fill all five coolers with ice. 4 of them get duct taped shut to (hopefully) preserve the ice as long as possible (at times I’ve even wrapped the coolers in blankets to further insulate them). The first cooler to get used has the insulin (after the power goes out) and then we progress to the other coolers as needed. I also try to keep all my insulin pump supplies and continuous glucose monitor supplies in a cool place to preserve the adhesives. All these items would be replaced if damaged, but take time to be delivered. And, it’s usually blisteringly hot right after a hurricane and one tends to “sweat off” devices more easily than normal.

I’ve found that my blood sugar tends to run high post storm, so I don’t eat as much (and who wants to eat when it’s so hot). But, I do need to drink extra water.

I’ve found that these days something else one needs for diabetes preparation is extra charging blocks (fully charged, of course). Because, in my case, the pdm for my pump is rechargeable, as is the receiver for my cgms and my glucometer. This storm, I had 3 charging blocks, but I think I will buy a few more (now that so many devices are rechargeable).

I like to keep everything together in a plastic tub, so that individual items don’t have to be hunted down. I thought of something else that might be useful to put in the tub and that is an index card with all the medical supply numbers to call after the storm. This year the companies all seemed to send out emails with storm phone numbers.

I’m sure everyone has their own method for preparing and storing items for a hurricane, but for someone just diagnosed or new to a hurricane prone area, I hope my list helps.

I was lucky this time, the eye passed off shore and we received no damage. The power didn’t even go out. But, the people of the Bahamas were not so lucky. I’m sure, by now, you have seen coverage of the devastation. And, I ask if you are able to help them please do. If you don’t have a donation point where you are, just ask in the comments and I will send you a link to online donations. I can’t imagine going through that devastation and having to find insulin. You see, the maximum amount of time that I can be without is is about one hour. At that point , my blood sugar will rise in an upward spiral . The situation becomes dire in 1-3 days. So you can imagine how necessary it is to get help to those with Type 1 diabetes in the storm’s path as quickly as possible.

For those of you living in hurricane prone areas, I’d love to hear how you weather the storm. What are your tips for living with Type1 diabetes after the storm? And what do you do differently to prepare?

#Type1diabetes #Type1 #T1D #HurricaneDorian

Adventures in DNA, or is my sister my cousin?

Growing up as an only child (until I was 24), I wanted nothing more than to have siblings and a big family. It didn’t help that we were a single parent household as well. When my half brother (whole love him) came along, I was ecstatic. To this day, I feel very protective of him and try to make sure he knows how much he is loved. We lost our father when he was only 17 and I think he missed out on a lot. My desire for a family never waned, but I was unable to have a family of my own and later I didn’t have the support network to adopt. Although, even at 54, I still think about adoption. I realize all this sounds a bit depressing, but I really and getting to the good part and what this week’s adventure is al about.

A few years back, I wanted to do something that I knew would make my mom happy. So, I began the geneological journey to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR for short. Over the course of doing the research and proving the ancestral links, I discovered a passion I didn’t know I had. And, that rather than having the tiny family I thought that I had, I have a very large extended family. The only trouble was that I didn’t know them. Through Ancestry.com, I began filling in my family tree. At first, all I was concerned with was taking it back as far as I could. But then, I decided to do the Ancestry DNA test and a whole new world opened up. I started with first and second cousins and the list grew all the way through 8th cousins. Most important to me were the ones where the common ancestor was proven. Because that said to me that we really were related.

And then the adventure started!! This past January, I received a DNA match that said second cousin, and while I didn’t recognize the name as a family name……I did recognize the name as one belonging to my sorority sisters family…and the name was somewhat uncommon. This sister is one that I visit with every year along with our other sisters. I texted her immediately and I messaged the DNA match through Ancestry. If I remember correctly, I think I told my sorority sister “I think we’re cousins”! And then told her the story. With my DNA cousin, it didn’t take very long at all to figure out our connection. Our Grandfathers were brothers. Now how is it that we didn’t know who the other was, you might ask? Here is where the scandal and mystery come in…..His Grandfather (my Grand uncle) was a gambler and ran out on his family. His mother later married someone else who then adopted the children, so they had a different name (his first and middle names were the ones I knew from my sorority sister’s family). We, my second cousin and I, started writing emails to figure out everything and I tried to fill him in on as much as I could about our family (lots to share thanks to Ancestry.com). As we talked more, we came to realize how our lives had paralleled frequently. We had been at the same University, lived all over Florida, and even had vacationed at the very same house on the Golden Isles of Georgia….and that’s how we get back to my sorority sister. My cousin’s aunt is first cousin to my sorority sister’s mother (confused yet?). And their whole family used to all vacation together at the very same place where we (sorority sisters and I) gather every year. We (2nd cousin and I) have even stayed in the very same room!

This past week, I had the opportunity to go meet my second cousin and his family. It makes me so happy to say that I feel like we had always known each other. And his aunt too. I definitely feel like family with all of them.We talked and talked and filled in spaces on the family tree, showing how my sorority sister and I are related (we are not cousins, but she is in my family tree). I had a great time starting to get to know everyone. It is my desire that this adventure will continue and my family will continue to grow.

Because this is The Adventures Of A Type 1 Traveler, you might ask how T1 fits into all of this. Well, I did pose the question if anyone in their branch of the family had T1 and they did not. I will probably always ask that question.

Here is my take away, if you get the chance to explore your own family history, do so with an open and welcoming mind. I hope you will enjoy it as I have!!

Until next time, safe travels!!

Adventures at “Friends For Life”!

Friends For Life 2019: This year marked the 20th Anniversary of Children with Diabetes Friends For Life conference. It’s a week where we, the Type 1’s, gather to learn , to make lifelong connections, and to support each other. Companies come to woo us with their new technology (and give us great swag). But, for me, one of the greatest parts is to feel 100% normal in a sea of other Type 1’s. To be able to instantly discuss things without having to give a lesson first and have the other person get it. To go to the swimming pool and nobody is staring!! (Unless they want to ask how that new site position feels) (or they love your artistic overtaping). To go to the gym with a friend and spending each second between sets keeping each other’s blood sugars up and steady…and laughing the whole time. To wearing a gown with all our devices showing and complimenting the way we decorate them for the occasion. And one of my new favorite t-shirt sayings “Hi, it’s me from the internet”!! We love our Diabetes Online Community!! Love you all and see you next year!! Just a few highlight pictures, enjoy!! And now for the hashtags 😄

#FFLOrlando19. #omnipod. #DexcomWarriors #Dexcom MaceysBelievers #ChrisRuden #T1D

#Type1Diabetes #wearenotwaiting

#Nightscout

Finding your tribe, wherever you are!!!

I love my job!! This particular trip, a RunDisney friend who works for another carrier and I were going to get together in London for a little sightseeing and dinner. But, she texted me early on the morning we left to tell me she had gotten tickets for the Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees in the first #LondonSeries and did I want to go?!?!? That was an easy one!!! We arrived just a little late in London, so I was able to get a quick 2 hour nap before we set off toward the Olympic Stadium. The first surprise came when we boarded the tube….we were talking with some Yankee fans from Orlando, when my friend looked at the lady and said “I know you”!! It turns out that she was an agent at my friend’s airline and at her city!! Small world!!

When we got to the stadium, we walked around looking at all the food offerings and looking for a merchandise tent that didn’t have a 2 hour line. We weren’t very successful. So, we grabbed burgers and beer and headed up ( and I mean way up) to our seats. Thankfully, we were under the overhang and in the shade the whole time. The views were great and I took tons of pictures of the pregame show. They had a flag show, a singer and a choir to sing the national anthems. It was the most beautiful version that I’ve heard in a very long time. One of the highlights for me was getting to see Prince Harry and some of the Invictus games participants there to throw out a ceremonial first ball. The first inning was hysterical, it took almost an hour and the bats were hot. When the first home run was hit, there was a special graphic on the Jumbotron that said first home run in London.

We were surrounded by fun people rooting for both sides and quite a few locals. Which leads me to the biggest surprise of the day. After the first inning (again, it was an hour long) the family to our left decided to go get food. We stood up to let them pass and all of the sudden, I hear the younger lady yell “Diabuddies”!!!!! She was a fellow Dexcom Warrior!!! For those of you reading that are not familiar, Dexcom is our continuous glucose monitor that has been , for many of us, the most life changing device in the Type 1 diabetes world. It shows us (for me on my Apple Watch) what my blood sugar is and , more importantly, if it is going up or down and how rapidly. To recognize another type 1 “in the wild” is a great feeling….one that non T1’s really don’t get. And very important for young people, who feel isolated and different a lot of the time. I was so happy to meet the young lady and hope she finds this blog!! Also, I wanted to share with her and her family the conference that I’m going to in just 2 weeks. It’s called “Children with Diabetes Friends For Life”. This year is the 20th Anniversary. It is an incredible event for Type1’s of all ages . You will learn more than you can imagine and truly make friends for life!!! Please google it. It is life changing.

So there you are……2 great examples of “Finding your Tribe, wherever you are”!!!

Btw, this was written on the bus on the way to Heathrow. I apologize for typos!

#DexcomWarrior #Dexcom #LondonSeries #CWDFFL #Friendsforlife #Diabuddies #Type1

Midnight musings

We had a long time to stay seated tonight, because of the bumps. So, my mind started to wander. I was thinking of last September’s vacation and the things I brought back with me. I’m 54 now and when I choose something to remember a trip by, it must be something that when I’m 80 will spark the memory. You think about things like that at this age. One of my favorites from the trip are the recipes from the cooking class I took in Rome. I bought ceramic swallows from each city in Portugal that I visited, and labeled the backs with those cities. They will eventually be mounted as a flock on my house….if it’s ever finished being painted. In Lourdes, I found little sachets of lavender for friends and religious trinkets for those that would appreciate them. For myself, I brought back hand towels with Great Pyrenees dogs embroidered on them (a favorite of my family). In Monaco, I found a very luxurious beach towel and in Rome a leather tote.

As I thought of those things, I wondered what other people bring back. What do they find meaning and memory in? And then, do they miss the days, like I do, when there was more local craftsmanship and unique items rather than mass produced junky stuff. We live in a time in which everything is accessible or can be ordered online and shipped overnight. This leaves only landscape and architecture as unique. This saddens me. The people , of course, are unique. But, I can’t bring them home.

My questions for you are what do you find unique and what do you bring home to remember your trips?

Being part of a team and being more….

Not every adventure is about someplace or something new. Sometimes, an adventure is being part of something bigger than you and doing it on a regular basis. For the past four years, I have been fortunate to run with Team JDRF during WDW Marathon weekend. Being part of a team that gets together once a year is something like going to camp. There are faces you see each year and new faces to get to know, there are some that come every year and some that only come once. As a team and individually, we fundraise all year long. We raise quite a bit of money each year to fund research with JDRF. But, this year, I learned that’s not all we do….. I never realized before that we are more… we are there representing the T1 community. Let me back up just a second and tell you some of what makes the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend so special. Disney races attract a lot of first time racers, a lot of people who have overcome something and I believe the reason isn’t just because of where the race is (who wouldn’t want to race the the Disney parks) , but because of the people who race and volunteer at the races. Nowhere is known for having more supportive and encouraging people. I , myself, got back into running at Disney because of the supportive people. Twice this past weekend, I am aware of people being carried over the finish line by friends sacrificing their on finish time. I love that. Now back to how I learned that Team JDRF doesn’t “just” fundraise at WDW Marathon weekend….. People come from all over the world to participate in the races. This year, a family came from Bermuda for the Dad to race the Dopey challenge (4races, 4days, 5k, 10k, half marathon and full Marathon). One of their children had been diagnosed with Type 1 just 3 weeks earlier. Those in the T1 community know just how overwhelming that first month can be. The Dad happened to see one of our team in his Team JDRF shirt and inquired about it. After listening, he went to the JDRF tent and asked how he could help. Our wonderful leaders invited this Dad to our banquet where I was lucky enough to meet the whole family. I invited to sit with me at a table and we were joined by another type 1 family. I have so many emotions about what happened next that I hope I can share them well enough. In the short amount of time it takes to have dinner 1) a little girl met someone just like herself and became a little more comfortable with her new normal, 2) a mom got to talk to another mom and share what it’s like to be a T1 mom, 3) a Dad got to see that things really are going to be ok and he got a few extra apps for his phone too. And, I made some new friends! These things might seem very simple, but in the grand scheme of things making connections is very important. Talking to someone who understands makes you feel normal and accepted. I really enjoyed meeting them and hope to see them again at Children With Diabetes Friends For Life this coming summer (told them all about it).

The next thing that happened was pure coincidence . The race that I run each year is the 10k, which happens on Friday. Then, for the Marathon on Sunday, I cheer for my teammates and friends. The past couple years, I’ve dressed up and handed out tissues (for runny noses which happens when you run in cold weather) in front of the hot dog restaurant on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. After the races, a lot of people post pictures on Facebook in their favorite running group pages. I also posted a picture of myself in my Mike hoodie holding my JDRF sign.

From the posted picture Right off the bat, I recruited someone else to run for the team. Then, a couple hours later a discussion was started by another Type 1 about how to fuel during the race.

So, this year, I wasn’t just a part of Team JDRF the fundraising team….. I was a facilitator for discussion about Type 1. This isn’t about tooting my own horn, except it is. It’s about never knowing when the opportunity to help someone is going to pop up and how good it feels!

There is a joke about runners wanting to talk about it all the time and nobody wanting to listen, so feel free to skip the next part, I understand 😄

The next passage is what I wrote on my Facebook page and kind of sums things up….

637 women in the 50-54 division. My place was 468. That might sound awful to you. To me, it feels the same as if I had won. Rising above Type 1 diabetes and Rheumatoid arthritis is my goal. Showing young people that they too can thrive, makes my heart so full. Thank you all for your support!! #Winning

#Type1diabetes #Type1 #WDWMarathon #JDRF #Type1lookslikeme