sisterSTAFF Blog

sisterSTAFF Blog

Diabetes Discrimination

sisterSTAFF Blog

May 2, 2010

First, I want to point you to the article I mentioned that I was working on a couple of weeks ago in my blog.  I promised to let you know when it had been posted, so here it is:    Secondly, I read an article about Tim Duffy and the discrimination he faced because of his diabetes in the May 2010 Diabetes Forecast magazine today.  He was denied his license to become a boat captain by the Coast Guard.  After putting him through extensive testing that included providing 6 months of blood glucose readings, the Coast Guard sent him a letter saying, "We will not approve waivers for insulin-controlled diabetic mariners who show repeated low blood sugar levels below 70."  He had a few blood sugars below 70-- which is to be expected for anyone with type 1 diabetes who has excellent control.  

I have to admit that my life with diabetes (20+ years) has been relatively discrimination-free.  Part of that may be because I have always been very upfront and assertive about the fact that I have diabetes.  I am also the kind of person who responds to someone telling me that I “can’t” do something by saying, “Watch me!”  Another reason may be because I have chosen jobs in medical fields where diabetes was more understood—most often in careers where diabetes was the main focus.  I’m sure in those arenas it is much more difficult for someone to discriminate against me because of my diabetes….or, at least, to blatantly discriminate against me.  Of course, most discrimination cases aren’t cut and dry anyway. 

Testing in Public? What are your thoughts?

sisterSTAFF Blog

April 28, 2010

It’s great to hear/see everyone’s excitement about the Weekend for Women Conference!  At our planning committee meeting on Saturday, the members talked about the number of women they know who want to attend the next Conference.  So, it looks like it will be another sell-out!  Be sure to check our website and monthly e-newsletter for updates so you can get your spot before it is sold out! 

While at the meeting, we also had a brief sidebar discussion at the end regarding our comfort level with   testing blood sugar/taking shots in public.  It is interesting to hear the various perspectives on this topic.  It seemed that those who had diabetes longer were more comfortable with checking their blood sugars, taking shots, or blousing insulin (pump), though I could be mistaken about this.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 diabetes: end the War

sisterSTAFF Blog

April 19, 2010

Last week,  I was asked to write a brief article about the differences in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes for an organization whose readership is the ‘average woman.’  This was a bit different for me because I am used to writing for people who have a basic understanding of the disease.  Of course, my natural tendency was to tell every detail about the disease to ensure that the readers fully understood the disease, to erase any preconceived stereotypes, and to provide a positive view of people living with diabetes.  But, naturally, that kind of detail wasn’t possible with the word limit.  (I’ll let you know when it is published!)

Writing the article really got me thinking about the divide that has long-existed between those with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 diabetes.  Why is there a line drawn in the sand between these two groups?  Indeed, there are some distinct differences in the onset and management of the disease.  Yet, there are also a lot of similarities that exist between the two groups.  Society and media place a lot of blame on people with type 2 diabetes with the message: “You did this to yourself.  You are responsible.  You have a sad, debilitating life ahead of you.”  On the other hand, the message to those with type 1 diabetes seems to be: “There was nothing you could have done to prevent this disease.  It is not your fault.  You have a sad, debilitating life ahead of you. ”

Open Letter to Restaurant Employees

sisterSTAFF Blog

April 11, 2010

Monday is a special day because it is my daughter’s fifth birthday.  It’s hard to believe that she’ll be starting kindergarten in the fall!  We had a big cookout with my family and friends in Hickory, NC today.  We had beautiful weather and we were surrounded by wonderful friends/family and we ate delicious food!  What more could you ask for!  I love the fact that my daughter understands the value of friends and family at such a young age.  For the last two years, when we asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she replied, “I want to have a big party at Nana and Papa’s and I want everybody to come!”  Personally, I would much rather do a cookout with family and friends than to pay for an elaborate party at Gymboree or Chuck E Cheese’s (or wherever the latest and greatest place  with the parents and kids that we really don’t know all that well.  It’s much more enjoyable for all of us and costs less money! 

Women, Diabetes, & BIRTH CONTROL?

sisterSTAFF Blog

April 5, 2010

Happy Easter!  It certainly was beautiful on the East Coast!  Luckily, I was able to get away to the beach for a few days with my biological sister!  As we all know, “Sister Time” is important!  Whether it’s a biological sister or a diabetes sister, sisterhood is a very important part of a woman’s life! 

One of the important topics that can only be discussed with another woman (a sister!) is birth control options. Although it is a very personal decision, there is certainly a lot to be learned from other women, especially with women who also have

Thyroidectomy Update: 6 Months Out

sisterSTAFF Blog

March 28, 2010

Spring is upon us!  Thank God!  I recently hit the 6 month mark since my thyroid surgery (removal) in September 2009.  After my surgery, a few people who had been through it told me to expect it to take 6 months for me to get my TSH levels straightened out and to get back to feeling normal.  Always an optimist, I thought that surely I would be back to normal in 3 months.  I mean, after all, who has three (or worse, six) months to drag around with no energy, mental fuzziness, depression, and no focus!  I know I don’t, but that’s exactly what happened.  I am now at 150mg of Synthroid every day, and doubling up to take 300 mg one day each week.  I had my TSH level tested on March 15th and my level is now stable at .23.  I can tell that my mental clarity is back, I have more energy, and my mood has lifted significantly.  Also important to note is the fact that my menstrual flow has lessened significantly over the last two months and is now back to normal flow.  I also don’t have ringing in my ears anymore and my skin and hair aren’t dry any more. 

I must say that the horrible feeling I felt for the first couple of months after my surgery is more than enough to motivate me to take my Synthroid pill EVERY day without fail.  Although those first few months are a little fuzzy, I distinctly recall thinking that I didn’t feel quite right, like something was a little “off”.  I just didn’t know what it was or how to fix it.   I recall weeks after my surgery sitting on the couch during the day and feeling so depressed, not having motivation to get up off the couch and not having enough focus to accomplish much of anything.  There were many days that went by in which I thought, “What did I do today?  Did I accomplish anything?”  If you have had thyroid surgery or have thyroid surgery scheduled, be prepared for the total recuperation to take 6 months! 

Happy Spring!  


The Importance of Friendship in Women's Lives

sisterSTAFF Blog

March 21, 2010

I hope all of the Weekend for Women Conference registrants received their first e-blast this past weekend about the Conference.  The Marketing Team is working hard to keep you updated about the Conference and help you get the most out of this wonderful weekend experience.  Please be sure to answer the survey included in the email—because it asks for your t-shirt size!

Many of you have heard my story which details how I longed for a female friend with diabetes after I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990.  For about a decade and a half I continued to dream of having a friend who also had diabetes, or even more exciting, a group of female friend with diabetes.  That is, until a fall day in 2007 when God put the dream in my heart and the will in my spirit to put DiabetesSisters into action.  After all, we all agree that friendships are important, right?  I mean, what would life be like if you had no friends in this world to lean on?  Can you even imagine that possibility?  The concept of friendship and its level of importance in human wellbeing is a widely accepted principle among psychologists, researchers, and the general public.  Yet, I don’t hear much about research focusing on the social psychology of friendships/social support/peer support.  I mean, we all know it’s important to have friends and that friends can help us through some of the most difficult times in our lives, but do we have research to back up that concept/theory? 

I came across an article in the April 2010 issue of The Oprah Magazine that puts the science behind the theory—at least for women, anyway.  For example, in a 2008 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers asked participants to stand at the base of a steep hill and estimate how tough it would be to climb.  Those standing with a friend gauged the ascent to be less steep than compared with those who were alone.  Interesting enough, the longer the study patients had known the friend, the less steep they estimated the incline to be.  Hmmm…standing at the base of a steep hill could be correlated to being diagnosed with diabetes, struggling with the day-to-day (“take no breaks”) management required by diabetes, or any of the hills we face in our lifetime as women with diabetes.  Those women with diabetes who have a friend who understands and supports them, don’t have as much difficulty overcoming the obstacles of diabetes as do those trying to navigate the diabetes journey alone.  Furthermore, the longer you have a friend with diabetes, the less and less steep obstacles become when they appear in your path.  

Media: Where are our diabetes spokeswomen?

sisterSTAFF Blog

March 16, 2010

Hello again!  Clocks have been moved forward again…and that means that spring is just around the corner!  Yay!  (I am not a cold weather person at all! And having four snow storms in one winter was a bit much for me!)  Spring 2010 is especially exciting because it will go down in history as the date of the FIRST EVER national conference for women with diabetes!  The Weekend for Women Conference is barreling forward at full speed and everything is coming together to make it a wildly successful event for all participants.  I’m just glad I have a family vacation planned the week after! Did you see Celebrity Apprentice this week?  In case you missed it, Bret Michaels, former Poison band member, has chosen the American Diabetes Association as his charity.  At first, I was confused because when Donald Trump asked him what his cause was he said something like, “The American Diabetes Association (ADA) who does research on children with diabetes to find a cure.”  Immediately, I thought he must have been talking about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) rather than the ADA.  But, I looked on the NBC website and found that he is indeed representing the American Diabetes Association.  Specifically, his cause within the ADA is the camp program for kids with diabetes.  Apparently, his mother was instrumental in forming some of the first camps.  Ahhh!  Now it makes more sense!  (That’s a great example of why it is important for our spokespeople to know and understand our mission!)

But, I’m still left with one question: Where ARE our female celebrities, athletes, actresses, etc. with diabetes?  If I were given the awesome opportunity to be in the public spotlight as an actress, celebrity or athlete, I can think of nothing better to do with that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity than to educate and support people with diabetes—specifically women with diabetes.  But, there seems to be a phenomenon going on  that deserves some discussion. There seems to be two possible explanations for the high number of men celebrities with diabetes compared to the number of female celebrities with diabetes: 1) there are A LOT more men than women with diabetes who are famous or 2) men (who are famous) are more willing to talk about their diabetes than are women who are famous (and have diabetes).  It makes me wonder: Is the lack of diabetes disclosure in Hollywood really a gender discrimination issue?

Diabetes & Eye Health

sisterSTAFF Blog

March 7, 2010

If you received the March Newsletter, you probably saw the headline article about eye health written by Laura Ely.  She pointed out some things that I was not aware of…such as vision changes during pregnancy and increased eye dryness during/after menopause.  Granted, this is not earth-shattering news.  But, I am certainly glad to be aware of these potential issues now.  For those of you who haven’t been pregnant yet, you now have a license to ‘not freak out’ if/when you notice some slight vision changes during your pregnancy.  Certainly, you should mention it to your physician, but at least you don’t have to spend your time in between doctor visits worrying about something that will return to normal after the pregnancy is over. 


This is a little off subject, but I remember being very concerned about ANYTHING that might cause harm to the baby growing inside me when I was pregnant.  Early on, I was also freaked out by almost every high blood sugar.  It’s amazing how having a child changes your mindset!  I was so much nicer to my body when there was a little one growing inside of it.  I ate all kinds of fruit for snacks..and that’s a biggie for me because I am not a big fan of  fruit at all!  My blood sugars were also the best they had ever been IN MY LIFE!  My A1C stayed under 6% throughout the nine months of my pregnancy…and I went through more test strips than I have ever gone through in a nine month period.  But, the hard work paid off…my daughter was born at a healthy 7lb. 13 oz. on April 12, 2005!  Her blood sugar was a little low at first, which is common among babies born to mothers with diabetes.  So, after a brief period of monitoring to ensure her blood sugar was rising to normal levels, she was brought to my room.  She also had a little bit of jaundice after we brought her home, so she had to have one of the medical blankets for a couple of days.  However, since then, she has been a wonderfully healthy, energetic child!

Diabetes & the Female Heart

sisterSTAFF Blog

February 28, 2010

Greetings Sisters!  There’s so, so much going on in the world of women with diabetes.  It is an exciting place to be right now!  First of all, I must tell you that the Weekend for Women Conference in Raleigh, NC is FULL.  Who would have thought that it would fill up THAT FAST?!?!?!  I was optimistic, but filling up the registration in 8 weeks surpassed my expectations!  The good news is that having such a positive response lays the groundwork (and illustrates the need) for more Weekend for Women Conferences to take place so that DiabetesSisters can serve more women with diabetes!  If you would like to be put on a waitlist (in case we are able to open more spots) or if you would like to be updated when registration for our next conference is open, please send an email to with “Waitlist/Updates on Conference” in the subject line.  You can also register for our monthly newsletter on the DiabetesSisters homepage (www.diabetessisters) to receive monthly updates on the conference series.

Since February is American Heart Month, I felt it was important to bring an article to your attention that illustrates one of the the gender differences that exists in heart disease (Diabetes Care, October 2009):