Diathlete Gavin Griffiths in Minneapolis!

Gavin Griffiths I’m very excited to welcome Gavin Griffiths to Minneapolis!

Gavin is an ultra-marathoner who has lived with type 1 diabetes since the age of 8.

He’s making our great city an important part of an amazing adventure he’s on – the “Diathlete USA Tour 2014!

Based in London, Gavin makes a habit of doing big things in the name of diabetes advocacy. As this post publishes, he’ll be in New York running SEVEN back-to-back marathons in support of diabetes awareness…  that’s right, one marathon each day between September 7th – September 13th. Amazing!

Come Meet Gavin!

On Monday, September 15th, Gavin will be appearing at the JDRF MinnDakotas local office to give a talk about “Taking Control and Achieving Your Goals!”

I can’t wait – hope to see you there!

Gavin at JDRF

Camp Sweet Life – Diabetes Camp in Southern Minnesota

Scott & Dr. Larson

Scott & Dr. Robert Larson

Last weekend I bumped into an old friend.

I don’t even know how to properly convey the gratitude I have for Dr. Robert Larson.  He is the pediatric endocrinologist that took care of me and my diabetes for nearly twenty years as I was growing up.  Starting with me at age six or seven, going into appointments with me and my parents, all the way to me at age twenty-five and having to kick me out of his practice because I was getting too old.

In his defense, it was time to go.  Highlights magazine and those big wire frame toys with colored wooden beads were not quite my speed anymore.

Dr. Larson helped me with so much, and very little of it was the mechanics of diabetes care (after the first couple of years).   It was all about me as a person, growing up and learning about life first.  He helped me know my diabetes well enough that it stayed mostly out of the way.  He viewed me as the strong and motivated young person, rather than the rebellious and failing young diabetic person my inner critical voice had created.

Camp Sweet LifeThese days Dr. Larson is still helping young people to live well with diabetes.  He’s currently working in Mankato, MN, a city a couple hours south of where I am now.  In 2010 Dr. Larson helped start Camp Sweet Life.  A grassroots effort to connect kids with diabetes in southern Minnesota through a safe outdoor camp setting.

Year one was a single daycamp experience, ending in an all family cookout.  Year two, August 2011, camp expanded to an overnight and two-day camp.  Parents were able to stay for educational sessions, and younger children were offered a day-camp experience.  Activities at camp varied from swimming, archery, arts & crafts, tie-dye, and star gazing with their local planetarium expert guiding the way.

They are expanding to include many activities and year-round events in addition to camp.  This last year activities included fall hayrides, sledding, JDRF walk, and a back to school event at Wow Zone.  Earlier in November, Dr. William Polonsky (one of my favorite people in the world!) and Dr. William Tamborlane (Yale School of Medicine Pediatric Endo & Artificial Pancreas Researcher) came to Mankato, MN for a ‘Living the Sweet Life’ Diabetes Symposium.  I totally wish I would have known about this – I would have been there in a heartbeat.

They have a sledding event coming up on Sunday, January 15, 2012 at the Norseland Boy Scout Camp near Mankato, MN.  Keep an eye on their website (www.campsweetlife.org) and their facebook page for more information.

I’m so excited to watch this grow – I know it will be a huge help to many in the area.  I’m hoping to find some ways to help Dr. Larson and the group working on this.  It would be a fun way for me to show my gratitude and serve others with diabetes at the same time.

Diabetes Diplomats – Lisa & Zach Treese

Diagnosis

Diabetes Diplomats!Zach was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of three, on Father’s Day, 2007.

Spending four days in the hospital, learning how to check blood sugars and give shots, Lisa watched her little guy finally smile again.  He had been the moodiest little boy, and now she understood why.

They spent their time in the hospital on the same floor as little kids with cancer. Right there, Lisa decided she would never complain about diabetes.  She also set her mind to doing everything she could to make Zach’s life better.

She started “Team Zachary” that September, and walked at a diabetes walk in Pittsburgh.

Unquenchable Thirst (to do more)

Lisa wanted to do more.  So she organized a diabetes education assembly at their school, and had their own walk that spring.

Still wasn’t enough.  Lisa still wanted to do more.  She stayed up all night researching everything she could find, and came upon the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI).  She reached out to some of the names on the website and connected with Lori Weintraub, VP of Marketing and Communication, DRIF (the non-profit fundraising arm of the DRI).

They e-mailed back and forth for a while.  The more Lisa talked with Lori, the more she realized this was the kind of group she was looking for — one that cared about her family, even though they had never met.

Getting Involved

Lisa joined their “Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Squad” support group.  Before long, Lisa asked Lori for help organizing a local PEP Squad.  Lisa is now a PEP Squad leader for local families.

Lisa also asked for help with her diabetes walk at Zach’s school.  That’s when Lori introduced Lisa to Tom Karlya.  Tom had a program called “Diabetes Diplomats“, and the walk Lisa was doing would fit right into Tom’s already existing program.  So they started working together.

Picture of "Team Zachary" at the walk

With the help of the Diabetes Diplomats program, she started getting kids involved with educational programs at school.  Getting the kids directly involved was a win/win.  Makes them feel involved with the program, and things just take off from there.

Huge Success!

Last year, with the help of the Diabetes Diplomats program, the Blair County Diabetes Walk raised about FIVE TIMES as much as it did the first year, and things are on track for a great 2011.

Blair County Diabetes Walk
Saturday, June 4, 2011
11am – 2pm
Foot of Ten Elementary Walking Track
Duncansville, PA

 

Lisa is a great example of taking Diabetes Diplomats to the max, and we appreciate all of the hard work and sacrifices she has made.  As someone living with type 1 diabetes, I personally appreciate all of their efforts.

Thank you Zach!  Thank you Lisa!

Learn More

What is a Diabetes Diplomat? Read more…

Fear: What it Does and Doesn’t Do

Riva Greenberg - Diabetes Heroine!I love Riva Greenberg. We are all so fortunate that she is able to devote herself to helping people with diabetes.  She has much wisdom and many gifts to share with us.

She wrote a post recently (A Valentine’s Gift of Health and Happiness) about her experience with Divabetics (another group I’d like to write more about – Max is awesome), and there was a section that jumped out at me.

Many healthcare providers unknowingly try to motivate diabetes patients to manage their condition through fear — specifically, fear of diabetes complications, which indeed are scary. But fear motivates behavior temporarily — you jump to protect yourself from harm. Fear does not motivate sustainable behavior change because you do not want to stay focused on your fears.

You jump to protect yourself from harm.

Fear motivates behavior temporarily.

Fear does not motivate sustainable behavior change because you do not want to stay focused on your fears.

Wow.

Riva goes on to recommend “focusing instead on what you want, and enlisting your positive emotions, which creates an energy within you that is vibrant, viable, and more enduring as it is tinged with excitement, hope, purpose and pleasure.”

I love this.

Thank you Riva!

Beyond Fingersticks

Thirty years ago I was peeing on test strips to assess my diabetes management (a revolution for those who had to use a chemistry kit).  Within the next few years I was measuring my blood sugar instead of urine, and had machines that spit an actual number at me.  A relevant, actionable number as current as the two minutes it took to do the test.

It was still hard to manage any immediate changes, as the tools available were slow (Regular and NPH Insulin).  It was more about watching trends than making sliding scale adjustments.  Doesn’t the idea of making adjustments at night or first thing in the morning to combat a low or high the next day sound crazy?  But that was the reality of it.  Sort of like having to park a cruise ship at the cabin dock.

As faster insulins hit the shelves, and more sophisticated delivery tools were developed, I started doing more with those blood sugar numbers.  I could be a little more proactive, and make changes to my insulin dose that I would actually see in the next 2-3 hours.  It was a shift in the way I thought about the information I was getting from my blood sugar machine.

We’re ready for another shift.  With continuous glucose monitors maturing and a stronger push for insurance coverage, they will hopefully be commonplace soon.  But the amount of data they spew can be overwhelming.  We need to learn how to cope with so much information.  We need to look… Beyond Fingersticks.

I love Wil, and I’m a fan of all his writing.  It wouldn’t be a fair review if I didn’t disclose that I’m certainly biased here.  I can’t help it!  But now at least you know, right?

Wil quickly builds a house of CGM information.  Foundation, Floor, Walls, and Roof.   Those are, literally, the section titles.  Each section goes on to have chapters like “11. Daily Life“, “12. Travel with CGM“, and “13. Living with, and loving, CGM“.

The book is full of practical, daily-use knowledge, as well as higher level, more philosophical thoughts around this new technology we are using.

As one of the first 30 people in the world using CGM in the real world, Wil has learned more than anyone I know about living with CGM, using it to improve diabetes management, and preventing hypoglycemic unawareness from killing him (scary thought, right?).

What you now hold in your hands is the result of hard work, due diligence, and the artistic skills of a dedicated individual. (from the forward, by Howard Zisser, MD)

Besides all of the great information, I also loved the artwork and quote/phrase choices for each chapter.  They seemed so fitting!


The thing that sticks with me most from the book?  That our blood sugars are chaos.  They are living, moving, fluid, always changing.  Looking at them as a single number does us no good.  Learning to see them differently is one of the many things Wil does well in this book, quite possibly his best work yet.  Buy one, borrow one, steal one (check the library first though!).  If you have a CGM, or are thinking about a CGM, I highly recommend reading this.

Diabetes Art Day!

 

Collage of D-Art Day Logo and a shot of Lee Ann
I want to spread the word about Diabetes Art Day (September 1), a very fun idea by a super special person.
Lee Ann Thill is an art therapist and a person living with diabetes.  Lee Ann is a wonderful person, and I’m blessed to know her.  I hope that you’ll find some way to participate – even if it is just stick figures on a post-it note.

From her post:

I’m asking you to break out of your linguistic comfort zone, bust out some art materials, and make a piece of artwork – painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, an installation piece, a mixed media something or other, or whatever you can imagine. I’m sure most of you don’t consider yourselves artists, but I think that you are, and just haven’t discovered it yet. Then, once your masterpiece is complete, post it on September 1st. If you want to get your family involved, maybe each of you can create something, or you can even do a group art project. The possibilities are endless if you use your imagination!

Singing Praises for Ginger Vieira (and me!)

I’ve been working a lot with Ginger Vieira, and she is one of the best things I have done for myself in a long time.  Maybe ever.  She is really good at helping people, and I am thankful to have such a great coach and sounding board.

I have also worked really hard at looking at myself and honestly answering the questions we have come up with.  I can’t say enough about how hard it is to be honest with myself about issues that I am scared to look at (change is hard).  The brain is an incredibly mysterious machine, and it is good at playing tricks.  So I take a lot of credit for my progress too.  Like many other things, you get from it what you put into it.  I’m working Ginger hard, and she is acknowledging the hard work and guiding my energy towards positive life progress.

While in Florida for the Roche summit I exercised with Ginger (who also attended the summit).  Our routine coaching sessions have all been via telephone, so I wanted to take advantage of an in-person session.  I’m almost sorry that I did (I say that tongue-in-cheek).

This particular aspect of my work with Ginger is exercise related, but her life coaching skills can help you with almost anything, and the other things she’s helping me with are not exercise related. I don’t want to “pigeon-hole” her into people thinking she only does fitness and exercise stuff.  That being said, she has a strong background in personal training and exercise physiology, and holds a bunch of national powerlifting records (I know, right?!).  I’d be a fool not to ask her to teach me some exercise/fitness type stuff.

Image of the workout notes Ginger made for meOur specific goal was to teach me a routine that I can do without any special gym equipment.  I wanted to have an arsenal of exercises that I could do wherever I am, whether that is in a hotel room or my living room.   Holy smokes did she deliver.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous on my way down to the exercise room.  Who in their right mind asks a record holding powerlifter to work them out?  Had I lost my mind?

I got there and traded greetings with Karmel, who was kicking ass on the elliptical machine (I didn’t know they went that fast!), and Rachel.  I jumped on the treadmill to warm up, then saw Ginger approaching the door.   The exercise room was secured, and Ginger‘s door key-card wasn’t working.  Here was my chance to get out of the whole deal.  If she couldn’t get in, and I pretended not to see her, I could blame everything on her not showing up!  Brilliant!

But I’m not that bright.  So I let her in…

She ran me through a grueling routine of body weight exercises.  We only worked out for about 30 minutes, and I was completely exhausted by the time we finished.  I was so whooped that she didn’t even make me finish all of the exercises on the list.  I had no idea that I didn’t need any equipment to get that tired.  No. Idea.

She put together a video that is a quick little glimpse of what we did, and it doesn’t do the pain justice at all.  But it’s still kind of fun to look at.

You’ll notice that for the (evil) turkish get-ups that we were holding a small dumbbell, but that could just as easily have been a book or small bag, or anything that adds a little bit of weight.  And please trust me on this, whatever you use for a turkish get-up, it does not need to be heavy – they are hard enough.

I learned so much from this workout, everything from how to make my push-ups harder to physically exhausting myself with no gym equipment in 30 minutes.

This routine is just one small weapon in the exercise armory that Ginger and I are working on.  We are also working on not rushing into big change, because that has never worked for me in the past.  We are working on learning about options.  We are working on having many choices for exercise.

I like where this is heading, and appreciate Ginger and her help.

Meet A Hero (Heroine?) of Mine

Riva GreenbergThis is Riva Greenberg.  I’m a big fan of her, and feel lucky that I can also say she is a friend.  I can’t remember exactly how I first found Riva and her blog (Diabetes Stories), but once I started reading I really connected with the wisdom that she so openly shares.

Riva was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1972.  Like so many of you (us?) diagnosed so long ago, she has seen a lot in her life with diabetes.  She has seen a lot of things change for the better, and has watched just as many things that need change, not evolve at all.

I have met a lot of people who have had diabetes for a long time.  They are all wise in their ways (as are most of us living with diabetes).  But Riva has something special about her, and it has taken me a long time to figure out what it is.  Riva is a learner.  Even with all she DOES know, she knows there is so much she DOESN’T know.  Because of that, she wants to hear about everyone and their experiences. But to take it a step farther, she has a gift for pulling all of these stories together, and giving it back to everybody with a layer of empowerment wrapped around it.

Another reason I identify with Riva so much is that she is really tuned in to the mental aspects of living with diabetes.  That is a very important part of living long with diabetes.  What good is it to dodge all the knives diabetes throws at us if we are complete insane because of it?  It takes a LOT of work, and Riva knows that, and her mission is to help as many people as she can to grow and be strong.

Riva has recently also started blogging at The Huffington Post, which is a very exciting deal for all of us.  Through Riva, we have another voice presenting accurate and realistic information about living with diabetes to large numbers of readers.  When it comes to accurate and realistic, I’m all for more readers.  You can click on the link above to see all of Riva’s articles there and subscribe to the RSS feed if interested.

Riva has also authored a couple of fun books on living with diabetes.

The ABC's of Loving Yourself With DiabetesHer first book, “The ABC’s Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes” is a fun and quick little read.  For each letter of the alphabet there is a little phrase, then a few paragraphs expanding on the idea.  For example, “K is for Knowing You Are Capable of Change“.

It’s maybe not something you sit down and read all the way through.  But instead, something you flip open when you need a little “pick me up”.  I love my copy, and pick it up often.

50 Diabetes MythsHer second book, “50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life: And the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It“, is many things.  On one hand I wish I could whip it out, flip it to the myth (and the truth), and shove it the face of someone perpetuating some diabetes related untruth (a.k.a. myth).  On the other hand, there is SO MUCH great stuff in here for all of us living with diabetes!  This is a book that you can read right through, or pick at it myth by myth.

With each book, you get a great dose of Riva’s wisdom, which she presents in such a gracious and humble way.

The last thing I want to share with you about Riva is another story that demonstrates her character and passion for helping as many as she can reach.  In October 2009, Riva attended the 2009 International Diabetes Conference in Montreal.  She actually GAVE AWAY 1000 copies of each of her books…  and they were gone before lunch on the second day.  Guys and gals, digest this for a minute.  Riva is not some rich and famous author who has thousands and thousands of her books laying around.  She’s more like you and me.  Just an average Jane.  But instead of trying to sell her books there, she decided to give them away.  In fact, she said she wished she would have brought another 2,000 books to give away!

Riva – thank you for all that you do.  You are a gem!