sisterSTAFF Blog

sisterSTAFF Blog

Diabetes & Driving Privileges

sisterSTAFF Blog

February 22, 2010

Hello Sisters!  First, I must provide everyone with the latest update on the Weekend for Women Conference!  I am excited to announce that the registration is almost FULL!  We have women coming in to the Conference from ALL over the country.  In fact, women from 20 different states will descend upon Raleigh, North Carolina on the weekend of Mary 22-23, 2010 for a heart-warming, life-changing, educational, good time!  To provide a little info about the diversity and the truly amazing women who you will be able to mingle with at the Conference: We have a group of 30-somethings who have Type 1 diabetes from around the country who are meeting up at the Conference.  We also have a group of 10 women with Type 2 diabetes from Brooklyn, NY who are driving down to NC together!   Aside from these women, we have numerous pairs of women who are meeting up at the Conference and far more women who are attending as individuals with hopes of meeting their “lifelong” diabetes buddy.  If you have not registered yet, THERE ARE ONLY 10 SPOTS LEFT!  So, registration will likely be filled by March 1st!  If you want to look at the Agenda or read the Speaker Bios, click here: http://www.diabetessisters.org/weekend-for-women-conference.   But, do so quickly! J

This past month, I have had to give some thought to diabetes in relation to my driving privileges.  Why? You ask.  Well, since the age of 16, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has required me to get a physician/diabetes specialist to complete medical paperwork every two years (like clockwork!) on my ability to drive a car.  Every time I see the forms come in the mail, I feel a certain amount of stress.  Stress because the letter always says something to the effect of, “If this paperwork is not completed and received in our office within 30 days from  the date this letter was written, driving privileges will be suspended. “  Talk about scaring the life out of me!  I honestly don’t know how I would live without the ability to jump in my car and go somewhere when I need to go.   I don’t know if anyone else has to do this (or something similar) in order to maintain their driver’s license.   In fact, I’ve never talked to anyone who has had to get these forms completed! L  It all started when I went to get my driver’s license at the age of 16.  I was so excited!  Unfortunately, they went through a list of questions when getting me registered, one of which included, “Do you have diabetes?”  I answered yes, unaware that it would result in a barrage of paperwork from the DMV every two years.  I was also EXTREMELY disappointed to leave from the DMV that day without a driver’s license.  You see, I couldn’t get my license until a physician gave me “the ok” with completed paperwork.  Thus started my 20 year adventure with diabetes and driving. 

TEAM WORK makes THE DREAM WORK

sisterSTAFF Blog

February 15, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sisters!  I am disappointed to tell you that we were forced to cancel our DS Quarterly Meeting that was scheduled for this past Saturday (Feb 13th) in Raleigh, NC due to inclement weather.  However, our next Quarterly meeting is scheduled for Saturday, June 12, 2010 at Brio Steakhouse at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, North Carolina.  For those who like having the ability to choose their own meal, Brio allows each person to order from their menu individually.  I hope you will join us!  Prior to the Quarterly meeting, I REALLY hope you will join us at the Weekend for Women Conference at Marriott City Center in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina on May 22-23, 2010.  Registration is already ¾ full.  We only have 25 spots left out of the 100 allocated spots.  If you are considering registering, I encourage you to do so now as the Conference will likely be FULL by the end of the month!  To register, visit: http://www.diabetessisters.org/weekend-for-women-conference.

Over the weekend I heard someone make the comment, “Team Work makes the Dream Work” and I immediately knew that phrase would become a permanent part of my vocabulary.  Often, people can’t comprehend all that goes on behind the scenes of an organization.  To outsiders, it seems as if the website automatically gets updated, events just pop up totally organized out of nowhere, and money just drops into the bank account.  However, I can strongly attest that for an organization to make it past the initial start-up stage, there must be a team of quality people in place (behind the scenes of an organization) who are dedicated to ‘the dream.’   This TEAM must take pride in the work they are accomplishing for women with diabetes- not for me, not for themselves.  From the beginning of this organization, I have talked endlessly about how strong our voice can be….if we come together and work as a TEAM.   In reality, no organization can be successful if everything has to go through the Executive Director or if the Executive Director has to be involved in every activity to ensure that it is accomplished with excellence.  More importantly, it is important for the volunteer leaders to understand the mission and vision of the organization and use their individual leadership skills to propel the organization to the next level.  That’s how American Diabetes, American Heart, and American Cancer grew to the size they are today! 

Oprah on Diabetes?!?!?

sisterSTAFF Blog

February 7, 2010

Did you see Oprah’s show on diabetes on Thursday- (America’s Silent Killer: Diabetes)?  Those in the diabetes world sit on two very opposite ends of the spectrum in their opinions about the show—those who really liked the show vs. those who really DID NOT like the show at all.  Among people living with diabetes, there’s not much “in between.”  In case you didn’t see it, the show was highly focused on type 2 diabetes with a brief mention about the differences in type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  There were numerous scare tactics sprinkled throughout the hour.  For example, they visited a hospitalized woman whose feet had been amputated and required dialysis.  Physician Ian Smith spent lots of time telling worst case scenarios.  Art Smith, Oprah’s personal chef, has Type 2 diabetes and shared  how he lost weight and eliminated his need for medication.  And last but not least, the words “You’re a ticking time bomb” seemed to be used a lot.      

As many of you know, my previous career was in the pharmaceutical sales industry selling diabetes medications.  In this role, I talked about/explained the disease of diabetes from a patient’s perspective with primary care physicians every day.  I always cringed when a physician would discuss their frustration with diabetes patients and proudly tell a story of scaring a diabetes patient by showing them photos of foot infections or amputations.  The shock on the patient’s faces made them think that they had gotten through to the patient and the patient “had no choice but to change now!”  What I came to realize is that scare tactics tend to be used by those who don’t know any better…those who don’t have a good understanding of the disease.  Forgive me for saying so, but it is a short-term, simple-minded way of influencing someone to change his or her life.  In fact, stories of diabetes-related amputations and complications are nothing new to those of us living with diabetes.  We’ve heard it all and seen it all, especially if we have lived with the disease for more than 10 years.  Even those who don’t have diabetes or don’t understand the disease (i.e. average Americans) can always recall a story of Aunt Phyllis whose leg was amputated because of her diabetes or Uncle Joe who lost his vision due to diabetes.  If there’s anything that people in America understand about diabetes it’s that diabetes CAN ravage your body and cause horrific complications.  Essentially, that is old news and doesn’t really get to the core of the issue. 

Oprah was AWESOME!

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 31, 2010

Needless to say, I had an awesome week!  I flew out to Chicago on Monday morning, did some sightseeing, walked around bundled up in the snow, and sipped my favorite mixed drink (Amaretto Sour!) sitting on the top floor of the John Hancock Building (96 floors high!) while taking in the view of the beautiful city! 

The diabetes packing routine before leaving was grueling as usual.  My husband packed the night before we left in 15 minutes flat!  I always start packing knowing that it will be a few hours before I feel confident everything I need is in the suitcase.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I actually spend 3 continuous hours packing.  What generally happens is that I start packing, take a few breaks along the way, and get distracted a few times.  Hey!  What can I say….I am a multi-tasking woman!   You probably do something similar!  Right??  I hope so.  The thing that I always do FIRST is to ensure I have enough reservoirs, test strips, and insulin to make it through the trip and a little longer (just in case something goes wrong while traveling).  My motto is: The only things I MUST have to live on this trip are my diabetes supplies.  As long as I have all of these things, everything else is negligible.  So, when I get out of town and realize I forgot my favorite pair of shoes or my blush, I just remind myself of the motto!

We ended up attending the 7am taping of the Oprah Show on Thursday, January 28th.  It was the show about the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien fiasco.  Oprah had already interviewed Jay Leno in LA, so we watched the interview in the studio.  Then, Oprah came out and discussed the issues with the audience.   We were sitting on the 3rd ROW, so we had GREAT seats!  My husband, Chris, was on the end of the aisle, so he got to shake Oprah’s hand when she walked into the studio.  Then, she disclosed that she was sick and came back to give him some Purel to ensure she didn’t get him sick. 

You can watch a video of the show here:  http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-Talks-About-the-Tonight-Show-VideoBe sure to take note (or fast forward the video) to 31:00.  My husband spoke directly with Oprah on the topic from 30:09-30:39.  We both have on orange sweaters—You can’t miss us!  (We’re the only interracial couple in the audience!)   

Before you ask, Yes, Oprah was just as nice and down-to-earth as she seems on television.  She stayed and talked with the audience long after the video crew tried to usher her out of the studio (She just ignored them because she was so engrossed in the conversations with the audience!)  I guess you can do that when you own the Show! J 

I also have to give a shout out to Oprah Show Staff Member, Freddy!  She has a number of female family members who have diabetes and live in Raleigh and Winston-Salem.  She was excited to learn that there is an organization for women with diabetes!  She immediately understood what DiabetesSisters is all about because she is a woman who is trying to live a healthy life and avoid the seemingly inevitable diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.  She too would like the support, wisdom, and education of other women who are living successfully with diabetes.  I hope to introduce you to Freddy and her family at the Weekend for Women Conference in May! 

 

Off to See Oprah!

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 24, 2010

Well Ladies, I am packing for a fun-filled week in Chicago!  I managed to do the impossible—GET TICKETS TO ATTEND A TAPING OF THE OPRAH SHOW!  Not only do I have tickets to attend the taping of an Oprah show on Wednesday, but I even have plans to meet up with one of our DiabetesSisters from Chicago named Patti.  She owns Cooler Concept (www.coolerconcept.com).  I am also excited to eat at the restaurant of one of Oprah’s personal chefs (www.tablefifty-two.com)!  Snow and wind are in the forecast, so it will be an interesting week to travel to Chicago.   Over the past few weeks, many DiabetesSisters have sent emails to Oprah about the importance of having a show about women with diabetes.  I plan to work hard to get women with diabetes and DiabetesSisters some attention from Oprah’s staff (in whatever way I can—maybe even try inviting her and/or her staff to come to the Weekend for Women Conference!)  It can’t hurt that John Buse, the former President of the American Diabetes Association and Board Member of DiabetesSisters sent an email to Oprah about the great work we are doing to educate women with diabetes!  So, now I have a CALL TO ACTION for you… PLEASE DO YOUR PART THIS WEEK to show Oprah and her staff that we ALL (DiabetesSisters) deserve her attention!  If you didn’t receive our January Newsletter with easy instructions for submitting a request to Oprah, here you go!  It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!  (and if enough requests flood Oprah’s Inbox, her staff will HAVE to take notice!)  This is Oprah’s last season after all! 

1) PLEASE go to this link:  http://www.oprah.com/ownshow/plug_form.html?plug_id=3337311
2) Enter your contact information,
3) Cut and Paste the information below in the “Tell us Your Story” text box:

Please consider doing an Oprah show on WOMEN WITH DIABETES!
Why WOMEN WITH DIABETES?

WOMEN WITH DIABETES are an overlooked subgroup (9.1 million women with diabetes in the US) of the general population of people with diabetes (246 million people worldwide and 24million people in the US). Because of the increasing lifespan of women and the rapid growth of minority populations, the number of women at high risk for diabetes and its complications is increasing. Overall, women with diabetes are at increased risk for depression, cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease, and osteoporosis. Women with diabetes also face higher risks (such as diabetic ketoacidosis) than their male counterparts. Like most people, you are probably unaware of the challenges that puberty, pregnancy, and menopause bring to women with diabetes. Yet, very little research exists to help them. Furthermore, the general public doesn’t understand diabetes or how to help those who are living with the disease. Women with diabetes also have numerous questions about sexuality, body image, nutrition, and weight loss that deserve to be answered. Through the national nonprofit organization, DiabetesSisters (www.diabetessisters.org), we can provide access to thousands of women of all ages who are living with diabetes to fill your audience, provide success stories of women overcoming the challenges of diabetes, and provide questions for Dr. Oz to answer (including the often avoided topic of sexual dysfunction) about living healthy with diabetes and how to avoid diabetes. Please help us replace the negative stereotypes and incorrect information about diabetes and the women that live with the disease (fat, sloppy, old) with correct facts and positive role models.

Are men really in an uproar about the Weekend for Women Conference?

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 18, 2010

Hi Ladies!  After reading a response from an embittered man regarding the Weekend for Women Conference (saying that a conference for women is “monumentally discriminatory”), I was excited to see an article published in the Journal of Neuroscience this week that further speaks to the reason why a Conference for women with diabetes is important!  I’ll get to the article momentarily.  But first, I must take this opportunity to clarify the purpose of this Conference.  You probably know that there is a conference for Children with Diabetes (www.childrenwithdiabetes.com), camps for tweens and teens with diabetes, and a conference for adults with diabetes (www.tcoyd.org).  Similarly, it is important to recognize the differences and the needs of other sub-groups within the large population of people with diabetes.  Because women tend to be more social and more emotional in their dealings with diabetes, we can benefit from receiving diabetes education in a more social way that allows us to share our experiences with peers.  Similarly, teenagers with diabetes have their own issues, ways of communicating, and research related to their health issues.  Even men would benefit from education that revolves around the way men like to communicate (maybe making sports comparisons or creating competitions) to receive the highest level of education and motivation based on research that has been done specifically on the male gender.  In no way, do I want DiabetesSisters to be discriminatory.  But it is very sad that, in 2010, I am still explaining the differences in the male body and female body and the male mind and the female mind.  We are not “little men!”  After all, men have no idea what it is like to experience fluctuating blood sugars related to menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.  The man’s comment went on to say that the “world would be in an uproar if there was a conference for men with diabetes.”  I don’t know what planet he is living on, but if my husband had a disease and wanted to go to a conference to talk to other men who are living successfully with the disease and learn more about how to manage his condition, I would welcome the opportunity.  Unfortunately, over the last two years, I have been asked by many men, “Why isn’t there a DiabetesBrothers?” as if it was my responsibility to create the organization.   My response is always the same, “Well, I guess they are just waiting on a man with diabetes, like you, start it!”  That usually results in silence.

Week 1 of Registration; 2010 Resolutions???

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 11, 2010

Well, I have a lot to tell you about this week!  First and foremost, during the first week of open registration for the Weekend for Women Conference, we had more than 20 women register from all over the US—including Colorado, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Ohio, North Carolina, and Tennessee!   At this rate, we will reach our max by mid-February!  We’ll have to start a wait list for next year’s Conference!  If you haven’t seen the Agenda or want more information about this life-changing conference for women with diabetes, I encourage you to visit: www.diabetessisters.org/weekend-for-women-conference.  If you are planning to register, please do so soon--before the registration is full!  It’s only open to the first 100 registrants. 

One SCARY experience! Check your code!

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 4, 2010

Hey!  How IS everyone doing?  Did you have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year?  Is your new year off to a great start?  Mine is!  In case you didn’t receive the January issue of the DiabetesSisters Newsletter, REGISTRATION OPENED on January 1st for the Weekend for Women Conference and spots are filling up quickly!  We have lots of diabetes all-stars lined up to share their knowledge about every subject related to being a female with diabetes!  Reserve your spot today because it is only open to the first 100 registrants! 

I would be remiss if I didn’t share a very frightening diabetes experience I had over the holiday season.  While I was in my hometown (Hickory, NC) visiting family my husband, daughter, and I stayed at my parent’s house.   I noticed that my blood sugars were pretty much all over the place for a few days prior to traveling to Hickory.  I changed my site on Tuesday night and when nothing changed by Wednesday evening, I started thinking, “I’ve got to do something about this!”  I started running through the list of possible causes.  I thought maybe the insulin I had been using was bad.  I checked my blood sugar and it was over 300 for the third time that day, so I took insulin using the bolus calculator on my pump.  I checked an hour later and it had only dropped about 20 points….further fueling the idea that my insulin was bad (=not as potent as normal).  I took more insulin and checked it again about an hour later.  It still hadn’t fallen very much and I was frustrated and sleepy.  So, I decided to go on to bed and deal with it the next day. 

A Look Back at 2009

sisterSTAFF Blog

December 27, 2009

Wow!  What a YEAR!  This year there were A LOT of “firsts.”  For one, I was laid off from my full-time job in December 2009 for the first time in my life!  But, most importantly, DiabetesSisters experienced A LOT of “firsts.”  Let’s walk together down memory lane and you’ll see just how much has happened in the life of DiabetesSisters this year!

Thank You for a Great 2009!

sisterSTAFF Blog

December 22, 2009

To Everyone Who Has Served As A Volunteer for DiabetesSisters in 2009:

I want to express my sincere thanks for your help in the growth the organization has experienced this year.  Everyone who helped--from sending out emails to serving as a weekly blogger to organizing a meeting to serving on a Planning Committee to researching an important decision for the organization--should be proud of the hard work put in to the organization.  Each and every person who contributed is a part of the organization’s history!  In ten years from now, when DiabetesSisters is known worldwide for serving millions of women with diabetes, you will be proud to say that you helped get the organization off the ground!  When your best friend’s granddaughter is diagnosed with diabetes in 30 years from now (assuming there is no cure by then!), you will be excited to tell her about DiabetesSisters and how beneficial it is to attend the Weekend for Women Conference!    I am so proud of the diverse group of women (and men!) who have become a part of the core of this growing organization. Yes, the future has a lot in store for women with diabetes and the organization as a whole!     There is one common factor I have noticed among those volunteers who have served the longest and been the most satisfied in their volunteer role:  No matter what task they are performing for the organization, they have kept the focus on the mission of the organization and they have reminded themselves that the work they are doing (even if it is putting stamps on envelopes) is going to help women with diabetes in the long-term!  In today’s self-focused world, that kind of volunteer is hard to find!   I invite you to join me next week for a fun-filled, roller-coaster ride look back at the peaks and valleys DiabetesSisters experienced in 2009!  From the approval of our 501(c)3 nonprofit status in January 2009 to the Press Release announcing the Weekend for Women Conference hosted by DiabetesSisters and TCOYD on May 22-23, 2010, it is an intriguing story with many details that I am sure you were unaware of!

Personal Update:  I am glad to tell you that my dad underwent a biopsy at Duke University on Monday and we now have a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  However, it is not like the Hodgkin’s he had back in 1993 because it is much more aggressive.  So, he will start chemotherapy on Monday (after Christmas)!  Please pray with me that the form of chemo the doctors have chosen is going to completely eradicate the cancer and we can move on… As far as jobs go, there is really no update on that front.  L    From the thyroid perspective, I am still not sleeping well at night, but I have started taking Tylenol PM and it has helped tremendously!  My blood sugars are still a bit out of range, but my doc told me that my thyroid level being too high can slow my metabolism down and cause my blood sugars to be high.  Hopefully, this will correct itself in time.