sisterSTAFF Blog

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Celebration of Strength

sisterSTAFF Blog

October 4, 2010

Hello!  It’s hard to believe that October is already here….that means that November (National Diabetes Awareness Month) is right around the corner!  I hope you have your DiabetesSisters t-shirt to wear in November!  Stay tuned for information about an upcoming  opportunity to join "your Sisters" in a diabetes awareness activity.

This past week, I went to San Diego, CA to the Annual Celebration of Strength Luncheon that is put on by Behavioral Diabetes Institute (  It was held from 10am-3pm on Saturday, October 2nd.  I got to see many of my DiabetesSisters that I had only met via the web—Amy Mercer and Suzanne Lohnes.  I also got to see many of my longtime DiabetesSisters- such as Laura Ely and Laura Bennett, both of whom have been involved with DiabetesSisters practically its inception!  I was honored to be a speaker at this year’s event.  I told my story about my experiences with loneliness and isolation, my internal struggle in 2007, and the eventual formation of DiabetesSisters.  The overall message was that diabetes must be seen as a strength rather than a weakness if we want it to bring anything positive into our lives.  As women with diabetes, we should be proud of the strength, resilience, persistence, problem-solving, and wisdom that diabetes has taught us.  It makes us unique and special!  It makes us “a catch”!   

 2011 BDI 'Celebration of Strength' Luncheon

Of course, there was a three hour time change to deal with.  Since I was there for less than 48 hours, I decided not to change the settings (time) on my pump and it actually seemed to work well.  My blood sugars were great the entire time I was there.

We also made a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT at the Celebration of Strength Luncheon!  Drum Roll please……….. 

Behavioral Diabetes Institute and DiabetesSisters are partnering in 2011 to bring the Weekend for Women Conference to San Diego, CA on October 7-9, 2011.  For more information and to register for updates, click HERE.


Oprah Show Taping

sisterSTAFF Blog

September 27, 2010

Me and Chris in front of Harpo Studios

Hello everyone!  It has been a BIG week in the Barnes household!  My husband, Chris, and I attended a taping of Oprah on Thursday and it is airing today (Monday, September 27th)!  The photo above was taken after the taping in front of Harpo Studios.  Even more exciting—Chris and I were chosen to speak on Oprah Radio.  (I’ll let you know when it will air!)  This was our second Oprah experience (in one year!), so we felt like pros this time.  We received an email on Tuesday advising us to arrive at the studio at 6:30am (30 minutes earlier than original arrival time) for a little bit of pampering.  We arrived at 5:30am and were the second group in line.  When we were escorted to the manicure stations, we got a backstage tour.  After our manicures, we returned to the small waiting area, and at about 8:10am, we were ushered into the studio.  The topic was celebrities pursuing their dreams (outside of Hollywood).  After the show, people began sharing how Oprah had inspired them.  I was determined to share with Oprah how she had inspired me (even using vision boards in the creation of DiabetesSisters).  I raised my hand uncontrollably, but, it was not meant to be.  It probably would have helped if we would have been sitting up close like we were last timeL.  I still admire Oprah and thank her tremendously for the inspiration she has provided me over the years, especially in creating DiabetesSisters.  In fact, those who attended the 2010 Weekend for Women Conference can see the similarity in how we started the conference off with complimentary manicures—just as she started off our Oprah Show taping!

Me and Chris at his 37th "Surprise" Birthday Party

Today is my husband’s birthday and over the weekend we held a “Surprise Birthday Party” with a 70s theme (since he was born in the 70s) in Hickory, NC with my family.  We were even able to get his grandparents to travel from 3 hours away to surprise him at the party.  Needless to say, it worked!

DiabetesSisters' Step Out Team:
Victoria Gibbons, Marsha Csaszar, Kelli Turner, Lindsey O'Hare

Unfortunately, since I was out of town, I missed the (American Diabetes Association’s) Step Out walk that was held in the Triangle this past weekend.  I’d like to take this opportunity to salute our DiabetesSisters team who walked in the Step Out walk this past weekend.  Thank you for representing us so well!  Check out those beautiful DiabetesSisters t-shirts!  Laughing

 In the upcoming week, I will be traveling to San Diego, CA to speak at the Celebration of Strength Luncheon on Saturday.  I am so excited!  Check back next week for an update on my first experience at this annual Luncheon.  


Women with Diabetes and Spouses- Part II

sisterSTAFF Blog

September 13, 2010

Last week’s blog about women with diabetes and spouses seemed to ring true with a lot of readers.  After I posted it, I had a number of conversations with DiabetesSisters about it.  Those conversations along with the interview I recently did on The Diabetes Power Show made me think a little bit deeper about this issue and raise a few more questions for you to consider.  First, almost every woman I spoke with who was diagnosed prior to adulthood had felt anxiety about sharing her diabetes diagnosis with the man in her life.  They all felt like it would be too much for the man to handle, that it would drive him away, and/or that they (the women with diabetes) were damaged goods as a result of their diabetes.  I must admit that I once thought some of those same thoughts.  Even though I have always been fairly confident and open about my diabetes, I still thought those ridiculous thoughts!  It is really scary to think that someone you love might walk away from you (and stop loving you) when he finds out you have diabetes (a diagnosis in which you had no control over).  Despite my concerns-- I was wearing my pump on the waistband on the outside of my clothes when I met my husband.  Ironically, my husband later told me that he thought my pump was a “pager” when we first met.  (Do I sound really old now?  Some of you are probably asking “what’s a pager?”)  He had never known anyone with diabetes and didn’t really know what it was, but he listened intently when I explained the disease to him…It didn’t seem to phase him at all and never looked at me differently.  Even now, when I have one of those embarrassing low blood sugars that cause me to say or do something totally out of character, his view of me never seems to change.   I can tell that he views me as a healthy, resilient, and fierce woman regardless of whether I have diabetes or not. I’m sure there are many other women with diabetes out there who can attest to similar experiences. 

For those who have yet to find their mate, take heart that diabetes does not IN ANY WAY make you damaged goods.  There is more than enough men who will love you just as you are (diabetes and all).  And please be prepared to walk away if a man is not accepting of your diabetes and/or doesn’t see you as a stronger woman as a result of your diabetes.

Women with Diabetes and their Spouses

sisterSTAFF Blog

September 6, 2010

Hi All!  I hope everyone enjoyed Labor Day and didn’t “labor” too much over the holiday!  After sending out our newsletter on Friday, I received an email from Ingrid Straugh, the Editor of Diabetes Self-Management saying that DiabetesSisters is also going to be featured in their Sept/Oct 2010 issue with an article about support programs for people with diabetes.  Yay!  The Sisterhood is growing on a daily basis!  I’m so excited to be a part of it and I hope you are too!  We are also in the midst of launching our first five PODS Meetups outside the Raleigh, NC area.  Start-up packets were sent out this week, so I can’t wait to see things kick-off with the first meetings in October!  More information about dates/locations to come soon!  If you are interested in hosting or attending a monthly PODS Meetup in your area, please contact me at or Kelli Turner at

Tanya Varanelli, DS Volunteer Coordinator
and Brandy Barnes at PF Chang's

On Friday, I ate lunch with Tanya Varanelli, DiabetesSisters’ Volunteer Coordinator (  One of our lunch topics related to a conversation that occurred at our last PODS Meetup in August.  To provide a little background-- At our last PODS Meetup, the topic arose about spouses and their involvement in our diabetes management.  Luckily, my husband is the laid-back person in our relationship, so he has never been the “food police” or “diabetes police” type.  One of the ladies at the PODS Meetup discussed how her husband and (adult) daughter are a bit more anxious and tend to ask her what her blood sugar is every time she checks it.  I immediately piped up and said that my husband knew better than to ask me about my blood sugars.  My comment was met with a few comments such as, “What do you mean? How do you stop him from asking?”  The lively conversation that ensued (from those who had spouses that ask what their blood sugar level is and those who didn’t) told me that this is a topic of interest for most women with diabetes.

I recall someone once saying that Type A personalities make the best “diabetics” (not my word choice, but theirs!) because they are task- and goal-oriented; high achievers; and detail-oriented.  Type A personalities are also more likely to seek perfection.  I guess it makes sense, especially when you look at the dynamics of married life.  If the spouse with diabetes has a Type B personality (‘laid-back’), he/she is more likely to let diabetes management fall to

Lots of "Firsts"

sisterSTAFF Blog

August 30, 2010

This week was a pretty eventful one!  On Wednesday, I had the privilege of speaking with Chris, Theresa, and Charlie on The Diabetes Power Show podcast.  Charlie has Type 2 diabetes, Theresa has Type 1 diabetes, and Chris has Type 3 diabetes (meaning he loves someone with diabetes).  We had such a great time talking about all things diabetes.  You can listen to the interview here and let me know what you think!  We discussed everything from my diagnosis to my dad’s response to my diagnosis to diabulimia to cardiovascular disease and everything in between.  Mostly, everything came back to the main theme: life as a woman with diabetes!

I also did an interview with Diabetes Forecast magazine.  I’ll keep you posted on the print date!  In addition, if you are not familiar with the annual “Celebration of Strength” Luncheon for women with Type 1 diabetes that is put on by the Behavioral Diabetes Institute in San Diego, CA, I want to encourage you to attend.   This year it is being held on Saturday, October 2nd.     I am very honored to be selected as a speaker at this year’s luncheon.  This will be my first time attending, but I have heard so many positive things about it!  I can't wait!  Please let me know if you are planning to attend or if you live in the San Diego area and maybe we could meet up while I’m out there!     


Precious Memories: Summer's First Day of Kindergarten

Finally, my daughter started kindergarten today (Monday)!  It’s hard to believe that the little one who was just a little seed in me six years ago is sitting in a kindergarten class as I type this blog!  What is most memorable is her comment to me and my husband, Chris, as we walked her into school this morning.  She turned to us and said, “Today is going to be the best day of my life!”  So innocent and so sweet!  What can you say, except, “Yes, I’ll bet it will be and I can’t wait to hear about it!”  What a blessing that women with diabetes have the opportunity to make memories with their children…whereas two or three decades ago pregnancy was not recommended for women with diabetes!      


The Art of Infusion Site Placement

sisterSTAFF Blog

August 24, 2010

This past weekend was my daughter’s “last hoorah” at the beach before her first day of kindergarten next week.  Naturally, we spent a lot of our time by the pool.  As I was preparing to put on my swimsuit on Saturday morning, a quick jolt of anxiety shot through me.  I thought the same thought that many women with diabetes who are on an insulin pump think, “Did I put my infusion site in a place that will be covered by my swimsuit?”  Ahhh!  Relief….I pulled up my bikini bottoms and saw that the infusion site was covered.  (Tip: I bought a cute swimsuit cover-up from Target that has small pockets on the front bottom.  It works nicely to put my insulin pump in the pocket while walking to the pool or walking on the beach. Aside from the clear tubing that trails up to the pocket, you really don’t notice it.)  Infusion site placement is just a part of life as a woman with diabetes that someone without diabetes wouldn’t understand. Yet, I’m sure many readers can identify.  I got my first insulin pump back in 1996—when there were no insertion devices.  I am often asked what kind of insertion device I use and when I respond that I don’t use one, there is an immediate gasp, followed by, “What?  You don’t use one?  How do you do it without an insertion device?”  I feel really old when I explain that when I went on a pump (way back in 1996!) there were no insertion devices, at least none that I knew of.  To my younger counterparts, not using an insertion device sounds barbaric! 

All of this talk about infusion site and insertion devices is very timely for the upcoming National Infusion Site Awareness Week (Aug 30– Sept 5).  You can read more about it here:  (Note: If you have type 1 diabetes and aren’t on an insulin pump or type 1.5 or type 2 diabetes, the previous site will provide more detailed information to help you understand what an infusion site it.)  The Week is sponsored by Roche Diagnostics, maker of ACCU-CHEK products.  The purpose of the Week is to increase understanding and education about proper infusion site management – and complications that can result from poor site management such as infection, poor insulin delivery and tissue or skin damage.  Personally, I am glad that there is some awareness being brought to an aspect of diabetes that isn’t often given much thought, yet is VERY important in overall blood sugar management.  Although there are over 26 million people in the US who are living with diabetes, the number of people that use an insulin pump to control their insulin is about 400,000.      


In the Moment with Diabetes

sisterSTAFF Blog

August 16, 2010

This past weekend I ventured back to my hometown of Hickory, NC to emcee my cousin’s wedding reception.  It was a simple affair, but it still required a lot of work to get everything set up.  We spent the day on Saturday setting up the reception area and running last minute errands for the guests of honor.  I recall my pump beeping on Saturday morning to alert me that I had less than 20 units left, but I blew it off in the midst of the reception chaos.

Don't Play Games with Me! :-)

sisterSTAFF Blog

August 9, 2010

 Connie Hanham-Cain, a DiabetesSisters Blogger and me at the 2010 AADE Conference

Hello Sisters!  This week, I attended the AADE Conference in San Antonio,Texas.   Compared to the 2009 conference, this year’s attendance seemed to be quite lower.  Despite the lower attendance, I was able to spend quality time with quality people in the diabetes world while in San Antonio. 


“Don’t play games with me!”  It’s a phrase that we have all either heard or said before.  However, computer/phone applications and games are the current rage in the diabetes industry.  So, I hope you are prepared to play games!   For those who like to play games on Facebook and iphone, there is a new world of “diabetes games” on the horizon.  The purpose of these games has moved from being meaningless (i.e. Facebook’s Farmville) to driving positive behaviors and engaging communities.   A great example is the partnership between Manny Hernandez of Diabetes Hands Foundation, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Joslin Diabetes Center.  They teamed up to bring HealthSeeker, a Facebook game, to the diabetes community.  Another example is the new Didget meter by Bayer.   It plugs into the Nintendo DS gaming system and rewards kids for consistent blood sugar monitoring.   How the world of diabetes has changed in the last few years! 

Manny Hernandez, Michael Fergusson, Kelly Close, me, Janie Rodriguez (Boehringer-Ingelheim)

On Friday morning, I had the honor and pleasure of attending a session led by none other than our very own DiabetesSisters—Connie, Claire, and Cindi.  Their presentation, Conversations that Matter: Living with Advanced Duration Diabetes, was highly informative!  They discussed the complications that are present (and many diabetes educators are unaware of) in advanced duration diabetes.  At the end of their presentation, they mentioned their work with DiabetesSisters and the survey they compiled to assess the unique needs and experiences of women with advanced duration diabetes.  Here it is:    I encourage you to take it.  They plan to use the results from this survey to present at next year’s AADE poster session.

Cindi Goldman-Pattin, Claire Blum, me, and Connie Hanham-Cain

DiabetesSisters Bloggers at 2010 AADE Conference

Until next week!


Pink is for Breast Cancer...

sisterSTAFF Blog

August 2, 2010

Pink is for Breast Cancer; Orange is for Women with Diabetes 

If you live in the US, it’s pretty much a given that you know that pink is the color for breast cancer.  It’s everywhere- on television, billboards, newspapers, and radio.  In fact, it’s even on the products we buy- from cereals to garden tools.  We even see men’s professional teams donning pink uniforms in support of women with breast cancer.  There is absolutely no way you could get through the month of October without knowing that it is breast cancer awareness month.  Why is it that we see breast cancer awareness campaigns everywhere?  Is it because it is the most frequently diagnosed disease among women?  Is it because more women are dying from breast cancer than from any other disease?   Is it because breast cancer treatment places a heavier financial burden on consumers, the health care system, and the government than does breast cancer?  It must be because of one of these very important reasons, right?

Is it just me or...

sisterSTAFF Blog

July 25, 2010

As many of you know, I am an avid supporter of women, especially women with diabetes “taking care of themselves- emotionally and physically.”  One way I take care of my spirit is to be pampered through regular pedicures.  My five-year-old daughter, Summer, has been going with me to the nail salon for the last year.  We seem to draw a lot of attention when we walk into the salon.  I think everyone is curious to see how such a young girl is going to behave.  Amazingly, she has been enough now that she knows the routine—sign in, choose your polish, find a magazine, settle into your chair, read your magazine while your toes are being pampered.  All of the customers always get a kick out of watching her because they are not expecting her to know what to do and to actually do it.  I guess she’s had a good role model! J  On one hand, pedicures at such a young age could be viewed by some as “spoiling” my daughter.  (Let me clarify that she doesn’t get a “full” pedicure.  She gets a “polish change” which costs a total of $5.)  I, on the other hand, feel proud that I am teaching my daughter the importance of nurturing her spirit at such a young age.  I often talk to women who say they have never had a manicure or a massage.  It seems as if they equate taking care of themselves with being selfish.  While one must not get carried away with the pampering, I still say that there is nothing wrong with taking time out for yourself once a week or once every two weeks.  We deserve it!  Not to mention, it rejuvenates our spirit! 

The last time I was at the nail salon I ran into one of my DiabetesSisters that I have known for a long time.  She and I began talking and she revealed that she had just experienced a “bad low blood sugar” in Ann Taylor's Loft.  In fact, she mentioned that her blood sugar had dropped to 29.  Then she said those important bonding words, “I don’t know what it is about shopping, but I have a low blood sugar every time I go shopping.”  Immediately, I said, “Wow!  You too?  It seems like all I have to do is walk in the mall and my blood sugar drops.”  We commiserated over our stories about low blood sugars while shopping and shared our own strategies for avoiding lows while shopping.  She mentioned that she always “carbs up” before going to the mall and I discussed how I make sure I have at least two snacks in my purse before entering the mall. 

All of this discussion got me wondering….Now I know that it’s not just me who experiences consistent low blood sugars while shopping.  But, I wonder if someone-- maybe a CDE, nutritionist, or dietician can shed some light on this occurrence.  I realize that shopping requires a lot of walking, which works off a lot of energy.  But, it really seems like there is something else going on besides that…especially when you consider how many lows I’ve had after being at the mall for only 5 or 10 minutes.  Is it the excitement?  Is it the combination of physical activity and brain activity (hey, we have to do some serious thinking to put together such stylish ensembles!?!?)  Has anyone else experienced this?  Does anyone have any theories or suggestions?I guess that’s just another thing that makes diabetes DIFFERENT for women!  (Trust me--I doubt men are concerned about excessive low blood sugars while shopping! Ha ha!)