sisterSTAFF Blog

sisterSTAFF Blog

Powerful Testimonials

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Over the last few weeks, I have heard countless testimonials from women who have been positively impacted by DiabetesSisters.  Each time I hear one of these stories, (in addition to shedding a tear) I usually think, “Wow!  Who would have ever thought???”  When the concept of DiabetesSisters came to me over four years ago, I could not even imagine that four years later I would be receiving such touching emails and having such powerful conversations with women.  I have to admit that during those early periods of self-doubt, I would ask myself, “Is this organization making a difference?  Is it really worth all of the time and energy I am putting in it?”

Getting Back on the D-Train

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Well, I realized something not so good this week….I have let my diabetes management fall pretty far down the priority scale lately.  Definitely not something I am proud of!  This realization hit me hard when I realized one day this week that I had not checked my blood sugar all day (and it was mid-afternoon).  Ten years ago this was absolutely unheard of for me.  Heck….a year ago this was unheard of for me.  I have always been meticulous about checking my blood sugar at least 6 times every day.  I even remember thinking (once upon a time), “I don’t know how someone could go more than 3-4 hours without checking their blood sugar.  The curiosity (of what my blood sugar was doing) would kill me!” 

Office Space Offers Opportunities to Connect

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My new Executive Assistant, Kelly Evans, and I are settling into the new office space nicely. (Kelly started working at DiabetesSisters at the end of December 2011.) When I say office space, I really mean ‘closet space’, but I am not complaining about the size because I know we are blessed to even have office space at all!  One of the benefits of having office space and someone to answer the phone is actually receiving phone calls.

My Daughter, The Diabetes Advocate

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On our way to her weekly ballet class, Summer began to tell me about a conversation she had with her peers at the after-school program.  According to her, a group of kids asked her if her mother worked and she replied, “yes.”  Then, they asked where her mother worked.  She explained that her mother started and runs an organization for women with diabetes.  They asked why she “started an organization for women with diabetes when she doesn’t have diabetes” and Summer replied, “My mom DOES have diabetes!” 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

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Well, last week had its ups and downs. ….I went to Washington, DC and met with some awesome women like Lisa Tate of WomenHeart and Diana K. of the American Diabetes Association.  The Omnipod DID require a bit more work in getting through airport security on the way to DC.  I had to step to the side and let them see the pod, they had to rub my hands with some kind of cloth (that apparently testing for something), and I had to answer a few questions. 

Sysy's Interview with Her Husband

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This week, I'd like to share another perspective from a husband of a woman with diabetes.  This time Sysy Morales, a fellow DiabetesSister, is sharing an interview with her husband, Alex Munoz.  Alex is working with my husband, Chris, and David Edelman of Diabetes Daily to create The Partner's Perspective Program at this year's Conference.  This will provide some insight into why a program for Partners/Spouses/Significant Others is important!  Also- take note-- he is wearing ORANGE!  I already love the guy and I've never even met him!

MTV and Paula Deen

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Yes, I watched the MTV Real Life episode on diabetes this week. As soon as I realized it was on, I couldn’t be pried from the television.  I am always interested in seeing how the media represents people with diabetes—and I’m always hopeful that they will get it right!  I have to say that I thought it was a pretty realistic representation of diabetes—from a young adult woman who had to move home to pay for a new insulin pump (because she did not have health insurance) to a male college student who seemingly “went wild” with alcohol once he got to college to a young woman who was diagnosed with diabetes on the same day she found out she was pregnant.  The pregnant woman’s story was the most disturbing to me because the viewers watched her go to her doctor appointments and get berated by her doctor about her watching her diet and taking her meds in order to get her blood sugars down.  She was told that she would have to start taking shots—if she didn’t get her diabetes under control.  (FYI-She was either told she had type 2 or gestational diabetes—it wasn’t clear which one.)  We then saw the woman struggle with getting her blood sugars under control and being induced three weeks early because of her baby’s large size.   At the end, the viewers are told that the doctors eventually changed her diagnosis to Type 1.  As an advocate for women with diabetes, this scenario is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE!  There should be procedures in place to make accurate diagnoses of women- and all women with diabetes should go through the appropriate testing (as simple as a c-peptide test to see if the pancreas is working or not).  This young woman was blamed and shamed about her lack of blood sugar control when, in reality, it didn’t matter how many pills she took – the pills were never going to get her blood sugars under control!  She needed insulin all along and she needed good diabetes education- including carbohydrate counting.  If there was any way I could reach this young woman, I would gladly offer her a scholarship to attend our Weekend for Women Conference because she is someone who could have greatly benefitted from a support network like DiabetesSisters when she was pregnant-- and now!

The other hot topic this week was Paula Deen and her announcement that she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago.  This created much controversy in both the media and the diabetes world.  Personally, I don’t think it would benefit anyone for me to bash Paula Deen and I have no desire to bash her.  After all, DiabetesSisters is all about empowering and celebrating women with diabetes and here is certainly a woman who could use our support.  It is much more challenging for a woman to come out about her diabetes than for a man.  Think about it—if it were an overweight male chef who announced that he had diabetes, would there have been such a backlash?  I really don’t think so…In fact, Oprah’s chef, Art Smith, who owns a famous restaurant in Chicago, was close to 100 pounds overweight when he was working as Oprah’s personal chef and announced that he had diabetes.  He has since lost 85 pounds…but my point is—Does anybody even remember this being in the news?  Probably not.  He and his recipes were featured on Oprah’s Show regularly, and I ate at his restaurant in Chicago and I can vouch that it was not anything close to health food.  Again, it was food that is reserved for special occasions.  In today’s world, it seems much more acceptable for a man to be “large” than for a woman to be large.  And we wonder why there aren’t more female role models (celebrities, athletes, etc.)???  Imagine how hard it is to announce that you have diabetes…especially type 2 diabetes…and all of the blame and shame that is hurled your way?  Would anybody willingly put themselves through that?  Unfortunately, I think the Paula Deen backlash has really hurt our opportunities for having more Type 2 female role models.  Paula is human just like us and it sounds like she probably had to deal with her diabetes diagnosis without the support of another person who understood what she was going through—a person with diabetes.


So, in the end, I say, “We welcome you to the Sisterhood, Paula Deen….flaws and all!”  


After all, none of us are perfect and we are all responsible for our own health/diet decisions.  I know that I should not eat Paula Deen’s food every day- it should be reserved for special occasions. Just because something is available doesn’t mean you have to eat it.  Just because the McDonald’s is by your house, it doesn’t mean that you have to eat it every day.  It’s all about moderation, people!  I feel like America has become a place where everyone looks for someone else to blame (or sue) when something isn’t right in their life.  Often times, they need to look inside themselves when things are right.


I hope that Paula uses this incredible opportunity and platform to educate herself and the public about diabetes.  I'm also hopeful that she will turn her diabetes diagnosis into a positive experience and show the world that diabetes will not stop her- nor will her critics!


(Note: Although I planned to post an interview from Alex Munoz--Sysy Morales' husband--this week, due to the flurry of activity in the diabetes world this week, the interview will be posted on next week's blog.  So check back soon!)

A Husband's Perspective

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Welcome back!  I'm glad you made it over to my blog this week because I have a special treat for you.  One of my good friends and colleagues from the diabetes blog world, David  Edelman, wrote a blog this week that struck a nerve with many people.  The post was entitled, "Married to Diabetes: A Husband's Perspective."  I think it received so many comments for a couple of reasons-

1) Women with diabetes rarely have the opportunity to hear the innermost thoughts and feelings of our partners because a) our partners feel guilty sharing them with us and b) we're too scared to ask our partners how they feel and what they think about being married to a woman with diabetes because we're scared the reponse may be something we don't want to hear.

2) Men are not usually as open and honest about their feelings as David was.  Often, it's because feelings and emotions are somewhat foreign to them or at least, they are taught that they should be.  It's very refreshing to see a man own his feelings/emotions!

As you may or may not be aware, David is the husband of Elizabth Edelman and they are the brains behind Diabetes Daily.  David is also on the Planning Committee for The Partner's Perspective Program (that will be held simultaneous to the 2012 Weekend for Women Conference) along with Alex Munoz, husband of Sysy Morales, the brain behind The Girl's Guide to Diabetes; and my huband, Chris Barnes.  Pretty awesome team, heh?!?  Can you imagine your husband sharing any of the feelings/emotions David does in the article below? To read more of David's work, visit Diabeetes Daily.  Next'll hear from Alex, Sysy's husband.   

Married to Diabetes: A Husband's Perspective

by David Edelman

I am married to a beautiful woman with type 1 diabetes. On many days, diabetes has churned the waters in our relationship.

I’ve argued with low blood sugars and lost. What woman can be responsible for being snippy when her blood sugar’s at 35 mg/dl (2 mmol/L)? I’ve watched date night get canceled by an all day high. My empathy for Elizabeth is spiked with a little anger. But how can I talk about my frustration at diabetes when it’s a trifle next to the boulder that Elizabeth carries?  These feelings sit inside me. They fester. I try to be strong.

On difficult days, frustration boils over.

Other times I don’t know what to say. I lie there in bed while she has low blood sugar and struggles. I see how much it’s hurting her, how hard it is for her, how bad she feels. I want her to know that I see it, and it tears me up, and I wish there was a way I could share that burden. But instead I say I’m sorry.

The last thing she wants is pity.

I’ve learned a lot about diabetes helping develop Diabetes Daily over the last six years. Yet when it comes to my own relationship with the most important person in my life, I still get it wrong too often.

The challenges faced by those who care about someone with diabetes are rarely discussed. It ends up hurting both the person with diabetes and the person without it. So this year, let’s start a dialogue about ways that people with diabetes and their loved ones can support each other better.

I invite any loved ones who would like to talk about their experiences to get in touch or to write about it on your own site and share a link. I also encourage couples to attend the 2012 National DiabetesSisters Conference in Raleigh, NC this May. There will be a session specifically for those without diabetes to talk about issues like this.

So what can we do to better support each other?

Conference, Partner's Perspective, Walk Registration OPEN

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Wow!  Can you believe 2011 is officially GONE??  I hope you had a great New Year celebration.  With a 6-year-old, it’s been quite a few years since we’ve actually been out to celebrate on New Year’s Eve.  As usual, my daughter made it until 10:30pm until she dropped from sheer exhaustion.  Chris and I made it until midnight and brought in the New Year with kiss.


Of course, the New Year brings about something else exciting for you- as a woman with diabetes!  OPEN REGISTRATION for the 2012 Weekend for Women Conference, Partner’s Perspective Program, and the orange:will Diabetes Awareness Walk!  This year, our annual event will take place on May 18-20, 2012 in Raleigh, NC at the Marriott City Center Hotel.


For those who enjoy the time away from spouses, children, and the everyday demands of life—the Conference will provide the rejuvenation you need to make it through another year with diabetes (successfully!).  For those women who always bring their spouses/partners/significant others with them to the Conference, we are offering the ALL NEW Partner’s Perspective Program to make their time in Raleigh useful.  This Program is led by my husband, Chris Barnes along with David Edelman and Alex Munoz.  Their sessions will take also place in the Marriott City Center Hotel.  Just like you, they will have the opportunity to laugh, share frustrations, and bond with others who understand what life is like for them while also hearing from some experts in the field of diabetes.  I am so proud that we are offering this Program for the partners who are so very important, but whose needs are also often overlooked.


I am incredibly pumped, excited, and motivated about the 2012 orange:will Diabetes Awareness Walk.  It is going to be HUGE this year!  ABC11 has already signed on as our Official Media Sponsor and Zevia has already signed on as our Official Beverage Sponsor!  Angela Hampton from ABC11 will be on hand to emcee the Walk.  They will also be doing news stories about the event leading up to the day of the event.  With May being National Women’s Health Awareness Month, what better time to take a stand for ourselves, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our aunts, and our friends with diabetes?  Women with diabetes deserve resources to help them navigate the blood sugar fluctuations of puberty, pregnancy, monthly menstruation, and menopause and the increased health risks too often are not even discussed!


I was so pleased to see my daughter, Summer, really get into the orange:will spirit yesterday.  She decided to lead a Team in the Walk and she has already made a list of 38 people to send fundraising emails to!  Of course, before making the list, she had to come and ask, “Mom, if my team raises the most money, can I still get the grand prize—even if I am your daughter?”  I assured her that everyone who raises funds is eligible for the prizes.  And with that, she proceeded to make her fundraising list—thinking of teachers from her preschool and elementary school who had a relative with diabetes, friends from church, friends from our neighborhood, family members, my friends, her dad’s friends, even her grandmother’s friends! Since she got a new computer (a Netbook) for Christmas, she is excited to use the fundraising tools on the Walk website to send out emails asking people to be on her team and asking people to donate. (To all of our friends and family—let this blog serve as fair warning!J)   She is determined to have the biggest team and raise the most money!  Since she is my daughter, I have to say, “You’d better get out of her way when she sets her mind to something!”


NOTE: Announcement regarding specific prizes for fundraising is forthcoming.  Stay tuned!

Holiday Stress for People with Diabetes

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Although there are A LOT of recipes out there to help people with diabetes make it through the holidays, there isn’t a lot of recognition given to the emotional struggles of the holidays for people with diabetes.

Below are some of the emotional struggles you may have experienced this year:

CHAOS of the HOLIDAYS.  For example, there’s not much thought or recognition given to the fact that, as people with diabetes, we still have to carefully schedule and plan meals, insulin administration, blood sugar checks, exercise, in addition to all of the chaos of holiday shopping, celebrating, and cooking.  This chaos is hard enough for a person who doesn’t have diabetes!  So, we can be left  feeling overwhelmed and worn out before the holidays even arrive!

BEING DIFFERENT.  Then there’s the whole idea that while our “nondiabetic” friends can eat, drink, and be merry during the holidays, we (people with diabetes) have to be strategic about what we eat and drink and consider the consequences to our blood sugar. Everyone else is raising their glass for yet another toast and you are wondering why you can't just enjoy the overindulgence like everyone else!  This can generate feelings of anger, sadness, or frustration.

DEALING WITH THE DIABETES POLICE.  Being around relatives means lots more questions and intrusiveness.  As the person with diabetes, we’re often asked random questions by well-meaning relatives who haven’t seen us in a year such as, “How’s your diabetes? Or Do you have your diabetes under control? Or “Should you be eating that?”  These interactions can leave us feeling like a failure in our diabetes management or feeling alone because no one in our family understands what life is really like for us.

FEELING DEPRIVED.  Seeing all of your friends partake in all of the tasty desserts and high-carb foods without even a second thought can wear you down, especially when I feels like you have to think about every morsel of food that goes in your mouth and can only partake in small portion of the foods.  When the holidays are over, you may feel like hiding the closet with a bowl of cake batter, a whole pecan pie, or a huge bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy.  That’s completely normal!  Feelings of deprivation often lead to a desire to overcompensate.

Any/all of these feelings are completely normal.  It is really important to recognize your feelings as valid and important.  You should also know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  It is often best to discuss these feelings with someone who can empathize with you – like a DiabetesSister!  So, feel free to login to the Women’s Forum or the SisterMatch program to share some of your holiday frustrations with people who will understand and validate them.  Many people also find it therapeutic to blog or journal about their feelings/experiences.  If you are interested in blogging on the DS website, we'd love to have you!  Please email Markee (Blog Manager) at

Happy New Year!