sisterSTAFF Blog

sisterSTAFF Blog

How does your diabetes light shine?

sisterSTAFF Blog

October 4, 2009

How does your “diabetes light” shine?
Like a Camera Flash?
Like a Flashlight?
Like a Flood light?

Hmmm.  Does your diabetes light shine like a camera flash?  In other words, does your “light” (desire to take control of your diabetes) come on for a few brief moments, then disappear as quickly as it came on.  If you think this might be you, answer the following questions:  When you look at your blood sugar log or your meter memory, can you see a day here and there with a lot of blood sugar checks, indicating that your “camera flash” was on.  Do you find yourself saying, “I’m going to do better with my diabetes tomorrow” a few times every week.   Do you have exercise clothing/equipment that hasn’t been used since the day you had the epiphany that exercising would help you control your blood sugar?

Thyroidectomy Week 2: Road to Recovery

sisterSTAFF Blog

September 27, 2009

Happy Autumn Everyone!  Since I wrote my blog last Sunday, my voice has cleared up and gone back to normal.  I only have a little tickle in the back of my throat that requires me to cough every once in a while and the same is true for the need to clear my throat- only occasionally.  Another thing that is different is my neck’s appearance and how it “feels” from my perspective.  I have NO problems swallowing food anymore and it really feels like a tennis ball was removed from the front of my neck!  On the down side, the removal of such a big thyroid from my neck has left a little bit of loose skin under my chin.  I’m hoping the doctor will tell me that it will adjust to my new neckline over time, but I just don’t know!  My new routine includes leaving my Synthroid pill bottle by my bed, so that I can take my pill as soon as I wake in the morning.  (Note: Synthroid must be taken 30-60 minutes before eating and it should not be taken with any calcium supplements.) 

A Day in the Life...of a Woman with Diabetes

sisterSTAFF Blog

September 21, 2009


BEFORE (Note bulge just below chin)              AFTER (scar on bottom of neck; bulge gone)

Well, it has been an interesting week to say the least!  I started out the week with my thyroid intact and now it is GONE!  Yes, on Thursday morning, I underwent a thyroidectomy!  Why?  You ask.  Well, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis about 18 years ago.  At that time, I was told that I would have to have it removed sooner or later because it would eventually cease to function.  Since then, I have had my thyroid levels checked annually (sometimes bi-annually) and they always came back within normal range.  Since high school, I have had ongoing symptoms of hypothyroidism (lethargic, inappropriately cold all the time!, dry skin, forgetfulness, painful menstrual periods, etc).  My mom took me to several doctors while I was in high school because she was “sure” I had hypothyroidism.  Yet, every time we were told that my levels were “normal.”

Earlier this year, I started to have difficulty swallowing bread, started snoring, and started having trouble sleeping.  When I started to research the cause, I kept running into hypothyroidism as a potential cause.  So, I promptly set up an appointment with my endocrinologist.  At the appointment, I promptly underwent an ultrasound of my neck.  Normally, the doc would have performed a fine-needle biopsy (stick a needle through a lump on my neck to test for cancer) on the mass in my neck, but I was told there were too many nodules on my thyroid… which equals too many needles to stick in my neck.  Instead, the endocrinologist set up a consultation with a surgeon and said it was time to get the thyroid removed.   The surgeon would assess for malignancy (cancer) when removing the thyroid.  At my consultation with the surgeon, my thyroidectomy was scheduled for Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 8am. 

"A Letter to Me"

sisterSTAFF Blog

September 13, 2009

The name of the song is “A Letter to Me” and it is sung by Brad Paisley.  Have you heard it?  A wise person told me about this song this weekend.  Since I don’t listen to a lot of country music, I was not familiar with the song.  So, I looked it up when I got home.  The song is a letter written from a mature, wise man to himself when he was 17. 

It says,

“And oh you got so much going for you going right
But I know at 17 it's hard to see past Friday night

I wish you'd study Spanish
I wish you'd take a typing class
I wish you wouldn't worry, let it be”

It really got me thinking….At 17, I had been living with diabetes for two years, so my dream of a 'perfect life' had already been shattered.  In other words, I had already been awakened to some of the harsh realities of life.  I was also young and naive in my diabetes journey.  Needless to say, there were still many unanswered questions about how diabetes would affect my life in the short- and long-term:  Will diabetes impact the kind of job I would be able to land?  Will I be able to be a mother?  Will I be able to find a man who accepted me for who I am…diabetes and all?  Will I have one of those really scary low blood sugars that everybody talks about and would I live through it if I did?  Will I still be able to travel? 

Happy Anniversary!

sisterSTAFF Blog

Sept. 7, 2009

I’m baaaaack!  and I must admit, it was nice to have a break….after all, we ALL need to take a step back once in a while!  Today (Sept. 7th) is a special day for me!  It is my 7-Year Wedding Anniversary!  I am very appreciative of my husband—both of his acceptance of me as a woman and his recognition that diabetes is only a small part of the complex person I am!  I can honestly say that he has never once, in the 13 years since I met him, made me feel like my diabetes had any effect on his feelings for me.  We met when we were both in college.  Back then, I was open about my diabetes, yet also fearful of men’s response when they found out that I had diabetes.  I often wore my insulin pump clipped to my waist, so I got lots of questions.  These questions provided lots of opportunities to educate my peers (especially men) about diabetes.  It always amazed me how even the most educated people understood very little about the disease I was required to think about 24 hours a day.  But then, when I think back, I realize that before my diagnosis, I knew VERY little about diabetes.  Therefore, I can't get too upset with the average person over their ignorance about my disease.  If I didn't have diabetes, how much would I really understand the "ins" and "outs" of the disease?

For example, one male PhD student who was a friend of mine once commented, “Oh, you have diabetes….that means you have to eat all the time, right?  I mean, you have to eat stuff like Big Macs all the time?”  At first, I thought he had to be joking.  But, when I realized he wasn’t, it served as a great opportunity to correct his misconceptions about diabetes and educate him about the realities of living with diabetes.   Then, there were the harsh boyfriend’s mothers.   One particularly harsh mother was constantly negative about the fact that I had diabetes and made me feel as if I was not good enough for her son because I was “damaged goods” in her mind.  She took lots of opportunities (when her son was not around) to say things like, “You know insert name loves children, right?...Are you sure you will be able to give that to him?  I know he won't be happy if you can't.”  I knew she was referring to the fact that I had diabetes!  Again, this was an opportunity to change the stereotypes ingrained in many people’s minds by movies like Steel Magnolias about the inability of women with diabetes to have children.  I quickly replied, “Yes, if and when we choose to have children, there is nothing that would stop me from having a healthy child.  My blood sugar is under control and I know what is required for me to have a healthy pregnancy.”   How ironic that she was diagnosed with diabetes within five years! 

Weekend for Women: Session topics??

sisterSTAFF Blog

August 23, 2009

Yes, this week has been another busy, but great one! (Thank You, Lord!)  As I announced last week, we are currently in the planning stages for the first annual Weekend for Women Conference that will take place on May 22-23, 2010 in conjunction with the TCOYD ( Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Currently, our WfW Planning Committee is being formed and will hold our first meeting on Sunday, October 11th from 3-5pm in Durham, North Carolina.  If you are interested in serving on this committee, please contact us at for more information.   Some of the potential sessions that are being considered for the Conference include (but are not limited to):

Reclaiming Sexuality;
Getting in Touch with Spirituality;
Laughing Lowers Glucose: Find an Excuse to Laugh;
Finding Hope and Healing in Writing;
Working Matters: What You Should Know About the Americans with Disabilities Act;
Making it Through All of Life’s Stages with Diabetes: Puberty, Pregnancy, and Menopause;
Pregnancy and Diabetes: Tell Me What I REALLY Need to Know;
Coping with Fear, Stereotypes, Body Image Issues;
Diabetes & Eating Disorders;
Managing Menopause & Diabetes;
Knowing & Understanding the Facts about Women & Diabetes;
Strategies for Talking to Friends/Loved Ones about Diabetes
Belly Dancing/Yoga/Meditation Classes


sisterSTAFF Blog

August 16, 2009


Date: May 22-23, 2010;

Location: Marriott City Center, downtown Raleigh, North Carolina

Time: 5pm on May 22nd- 5pm on May 23rd 

Cost: TBD (approximately $75 per person)

Registration: Coming Soon! 

TCOYD ( and DiabetesSisters are nationwide non-profit organizations with similar missions of motivating and educating people with diabetes.  In an effort to reach more people living with diabetes with our combined messages of self-advocacy, motivation, and education, TCOYD and DiabetesSisters are partnering in 2010 to bring a unique, life-changing learning experience to women with diabetes.  The First Annual Weekend for Women Conference hosted by DiabetesSisters and TCOYD will begin at 5pm on Saturday, May 22nd (immediately following the TCOYD Conference) in Raleigh, North Carolina and end at 5pm on Sunday, May 23rd. The Weekend for Women Conference will take place at Marriott City Center in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.  All participants will receive a single room at the hotel.   

Weekend for Women participants will attend educational sessions on gender-specific topics related to diabetes treatment and care (such pregnancy, body image, journaling, nutrition), speak one-on-one with other women who are living successfully with diabetes, receive unbiased information on the emergence of new equipment and medications, and learn new tactics for improving their mental and physical health.  Participants will also relax and rejuvenate on Saturday evening through one (1) complimentary session in the “Sweet Suite.”  To kick off the educational sessions on Sunday, the seated breakfast will feature an entertaining and inspirational speaker, who shares something from her own experience of living with diabetes.  

The Sweet Suite:  Relaxation.  Rejuvenation. Ready to LIVE with diabetes.
After a day of learning and exploration at the TCOYD Conference, women will relax and rejuvenate.  From the moment they walk in the door of the Sweet Suite, women will find themselves immersed in luxury.  Weekend for Women Sweet Suite services are focused on providing women with diabetes the personal attention they deserve from a team of highly trained professionals.  From the therapeutic touch of a skilled massage therapist to nourishing benefits of facials, the Sweet Suite offers a variety of services to help women with diabetes enhance their personal well being.  Each registered participant of the Weekend for Women Conference will receive one (1) complimentary session of her choice to be redeemed in the Sweet Suite between 5pm-10pm on Saturday evening.

Now you can see why I am SO excited!  Doesn't this sound like an event you deserve to attend??? 



sisterSTAFF Blog
Laura Ely, DS Comm. Coordinator (Left) and
Brandy Barnes, DS Exec Dir/Founder (Right)     
Phil Sourhrland, Co-Founder/CEO of Team Type 1 (left) and   
Brandy Barnes, Exec. Dir/Founder of DiabetesSisters (rt)
Author, Hope Warshaw (left) and Brandy Barnes (rt)
August 10, 2009

Wow!  What an INCREDIBLE week!  I flew to Atlanta for the AADE Conference on Wednesday morning and returned on Friday night.  I haven’t had that much fun (at a Conference!) in a long time…well, maybe ever!  I saw some old diabetes friends and met lots of new diabetes friends.  I spent some time with old friends, Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge, of Team Type 1.  I also met one of my favorite diabetes authors, Hope Warshaw.  The DiabetesSisters booth was jumping with people and excitement the whole time.  Everyone was curious about us since this was the first time we have exhibited there.  Some even said that they were told by other educators that they “had to stop by our booth to hear about all that we are doing to help women with diabetes.”  Others said they had our name circled in their program as an organization that they wanted to check out.  We got lots of positive feedback on our mission (and how needed it is), our soothing color scheme, the layout of the website, and how pretty our t-shirts are.  Needless to say, we sold lots of t-shirts.  One woman bought 10 t-shirts!  She said her group of friends with diabetes had always referred to themselves as “DiabetesSisters” and she was glad there was an organization for them now!  I also met Kelly Rawlings of Diabetic Living and the new Managing Editor of Diabetes Health, Russ Phillips.  

HIGH Blood Sugar!

sisterSTAFF Blog

August 2, 2009

Hello Sisters!  It’s been a roller coaster week for me….both emotionally and with my blood-sugars.  Wednesday started out as a typical morning.  I got up.  I checked my blood sugar.  I ate breakfast.  I took a shower.  I kissed my daughter and husband good-bye.  I finished getting ready…and I left for work.  I reached my destination for the day, which was an hour and a half away from my house, and got to work.  I worked hard all morning trying to get as much work done before lunch as possible.  I recall thinking around 10:30am that I didn’t feel great and I should check my blood sugar, but I ignored that thought and kept working.  At 1pm, I finally stopped for lunch.  After taking a few bites of lunch, I realized that I had not taken my insulin.  I reach for my pump (under my shirt, in my bra) and to my shock, there was NO PUMP!  “What?!?!  This can’t be happening!  I am an hour and half away from my house…which means an hour and a half away from insulin!” I thought as my mind raced.