Give to a good cause, or two


Think about making a year-end tax-deductible gift

Donation to JDRF

I just sent a check for $350 to theJuvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). This is part of my commitment – to donate part of the proceeds from the sale of my book, “The ABCs of Loving Yourself with Diabetes,” to an organization making life better for those with diabetes. If you purchased a book this year this donation was possible because of you.

Last year your purchase funded asimilar donation to Diabetes Research Institute, another premier institute searching for a cure for diabetes. 

Every year I’ll make a donation to a diabetes organization from the sale of “The ABCs of Loving Yourself with Diabetes.” So buy a book and do yourself and others a good deed.


Like JDRF, started by a few families with type 1 kids wanting to raise awareness, TuDiabetes, one, if notthe world’s largest diabetes social networking site, is making a similarly dramatic difference in the life of people with diabetes. TuDiabetes, the dream and vision of Manny Hernandez, is a place where almost 10,000 PWDs across the planet come together to share their stories, information, hopes, fears and  inspire one another. Manny’s mission is that no one with diabetes feel alone. 

Manny’s Diabetes Hands Foundation, from which TuDiabetes was born, is constantly active raising diabetes awareness through projects they both initiate and support. Think about lending your support as you watch Manny’s video. From every dollar you donate TuDiabetes and diabetes awareness grows. I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Manny a bit this year and I can tell you no one has a truer heart.

Sometimes I think it’s easy for all of us in this diabetes-blogging world to forget that we actually affect something or someone out there, speaking and listening virtually as we do. But as I look back on my year I know that we do. 

I’ve written enough posts to share my personal ups and downs with diabetes and get it out of my system, for the moment that is. I’ve written several articles for various diabetes magazines and been advisor for a few diabetes organizations. I’ve seen my second book, “50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It” hit bookstores and receive praise from reviewers and thumbs up from readers. I’ve been invited to Roche pharmaceuticals’ first diabetes bloggers social summit. I gave away 2,000 of my books at the International Diabetes Federation conference that are now in libraries, clinics and practitioners’ and patients’ hands around the world. I’ve traveled across the states educating and inspiring fellow patients. I’ve flown to England to become a more skilled health coach and been taught by two Harvard professors to enhance my skills even further. One of my aims next year is to be part of the solution helping patients improve their self-management.  

Of course this all came at a cost: I traveled far and wide, met wonderful new people, made some incredible new friends and made my husband very proud. Here’s to a great new year for all of us.

Dear Santa


At the North Pole Station

I posted this two years ago, and in truth, my letter to Santa hasn’t changed any.

Dear Santa,

All I’d like this Christmas is for you to take this diabetes away. I’m so tired of it already. All these finger sticks and guessing when my blood sugar’s high or low. Now that I’m in menopause I can barely tell if I’m sweating because I’m losing estrogen or my blood sugar’s crashing at 50! And, can we talk…I mean the constant figuring out how many carbs are in a ravioli or bread stick or that fried calamari that will be at the company Christmas party. Some days I just want to lay down and shoot myself. Please, please Santa, would you take this diabetes away?



Dear Riva,

I’m very sorry you’re having a tough time during my favorite season. I only want people to be singing carols and drinking eggnog and feeling good cheer. Unfortunately, it says in my contract, that I’m not allowed to interfere with life’s natural occurrences. So here’s my suggestion, after you open your holiday gifts, look under your Hanukah bush for the gift in having diabetes. You may have to spend a few days looking so why don’t you schedule it for the week between Christmas and New Years while you have some down time? Then you can start the new year fresh.

Best wishes,

Santa and the gang

Dear Santa,

A gift in my diabetes? What are you crazy? Meshuggah? Thanks, but no thanks!


Dear Rabbi,

I seek your wise counsel. I wrote to Santa to take away my diabetes but he wasn’t helpful at all. Surely you who have studied so much and represent our people who have suffered throughout history can help me with this awful diabetes. It’s such a strain, Rabbi. I have to test my blood sugar when I really want to be lighting the sabbath candles. I forgot all about the High Holy days this year because I was so busy counting carbs in the Challah, bagels and honey cake. Rabbi, please, what solace can you offer me? What words of wisdom? Surely you would tell me to just forget about this diabetes thing and study the Torah, right?

Please write soon,


Dear riva,

Santa and I just returned from the Caribbean and he told me about your difficulty. He said he told you you should look for the gift in your diabetes. I concur with Santa, there are many gifts to be found in diabetes if you look. For one, my child, you won’t have to drink the traditional Manishewitz holiday wine anymore. The Counsel all agree it is much too sweet. Bring out the Chardonnay!

When Santa asks you to look for a gift in your diabetes, he is not saying this because you are not Catholic and he is not bringing you anything, although this is true. He is speaking like our brothers the Buddhists, who profess there is a gift in everything if you look for something positive it can bring into your life.

Let me tell you a story my child. My own Aunt Sheila had diabetes and after she stopped kvetching, she went to a spa and learned how to eat healthy. She shopped along Rodeo Drive and bought a cute little jogging outfit and started running. On her jog along the ocean she met her fourth husband, Marvin, and they’re very happy. They just moved into a $6,000,000 mansion in Jupiter, Florida — right next to Burt Reynolds! Everyone’s plotzing! Darling girl, find a gift in your diabetes, because to be honest, since you’re not orthodox, and all I have are these great wigs I got on sale from my cousin Schlomo, I’m not bringing you anything either. And really, it’s not very pleasant to whine.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi, Local Union 107

Dear Rabbi,

I thought about what you and Santa said and have decided to become a Buddhist. I picked up the Dalai Lama’s book, The Art of Happiness. He says, “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” I told my friend, Joe, I like butterflies and I like the robe, so these aren’t bad gifts. Joe said the quotation meant that we are the source of our happiness, that happiness can only come from inside us regardless of what happens in our lives. Hmmm, I said, maybe I need to learn more. So I booked a flight to Tibet. Now if only I didn’t have to drag all this damn diabetes stuff with me….ohm…ohm…oy. riva

Sisterhood of the Traveling Computer Bag


“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” is a sweet friendship tale of four teenage girls, lifelong friends, who will be spending their first summer apart. On the eve of their separation, they find a pair of jeans that magically fits all of them perfectly, even though they’re all different shapes and sizes. They decide they will share the pants over the summer as a way of staying together while they are apart. 


I have a similar story only it involves a computer bag, someone I’d never met before and less than sweet emotions.


I spied this burgundy computer bag on the second day of theInternational Diabetes Federationconference I attended this October in Montreal. Scads of people (true different sizes and shapes all) were walking around the lecture rooms and exhibition halls with this bag on their different-sized shoulders. Magically, it fit them all and I knew it would fit my shoulders as well. And I wanted one, badly.


Frankly, I don’t lug around my computer. And I didn’t want this bag because I thought it was such an amazing bag, although I do love burgundy and did get married in a gorgeous cut velvet burgundy dress… but that’s another story.


No, this bag had an emotional tug on me from the moment I saw it. Having this bag over my shoulder would proclaim to the world just as it says, “I am traveling to change diabetes.” It would prove membership in the club of those who work in diabetes, and be validation that I am making a difference.  


This bag was my visible, tangible confirmation that these posts and my books and talking to fellow patients contributes something. With no congenial office to go to, no lunches with colleagues, drinks after work, boring meetings where everyone rolls their eyes in solidarity at the boss’s obtuseness, no annual Christmas party, this bag symbolized to me below my conscious radar, acknowledgement for what I do. It was a purely immature and selfish urge to want, and to get, this bag. I also noticed that the more I saw the bag around the conference, the more my amygdala (fear-based center of the brain) was controlling me beyond all reason.


I asked at the Novo Nordisk booth if I could get a bag and was told they were only given to people who’d attended their seminar the first day of the conference. Disappointment clouded every other booth from my view. 


Miraculously, the second day of the conference I attended a small party given by one of the vendors I knew whereupon one of the guests said to me, “I know Pia at the Novo booth, give her my name and tell her I said if she has any bags left to give you one. Pia’s great, if it can happen, she’ll make it happen.” Excitement flushed my cheeks, or was it the wine?


The next day I found Pia and she said the last day of the conference they would give out their remaining bags. She wrote my name in her little red book adding each of the beautifully scribed letters to the list of the select few (trust me this is as close to VIP as I get) who would be given this treasure. “Come back anytime after 10 AM on Thursday,” Pia said, “to get your bag.”


I told my husband, “You see persistence pays off!” all puffed up with how pleased I was with myself. Thursday morning at 10:30, my hands hanging awkwardly by my side feeling their emptiness soon to be filled, I walked over to the Novo booth. I didn’t see Pia so I asked the woman there, “Hi, my name is in the book to get one of your burgundy bags.” “I’m sorry,” she said, “they’re all gone.” 


“They’re all gone?” I said dumbfounded. How is this possible? My name is in the book. I’m here as I was told to be. “Are you sure?” I almost whispered, “My name’s in the book.” “I’m sorry, they’re all gone,” she said and turned away.


I could barely keep the disappointment out of my voice when someone I’d befriended at the conference addressed me minutes afterward. (Yes, I know you’re saying to yourself my goodness all this fuss over a bag?! But you have to imagine this was the world diabetes conference, 12,000 people, and every time I turned crowds of them were parading by in my burgundy bag.)


My husband didn’t know what to say to make me feel better. Then by accident at 2:09 PM, not that I remember, I saw Pia. “Hi, I came by earlier but was told there are no bags left?” “Yes, I’m sorry,” she said, “they started handing them out early this morning by mistake and they all went in no time.” After a long pause she said, “I still have one left in my office in Copenhagen. If you give me your address I’ll send it to you when I get back.” 


Without a moment’s hesitation I gave her my card and thanked her, stupidly, I’m sure I was rambling. Only as I walked away did I think the chances of her really sending me a bag from Copenhagen were slim. After all, it would be so easy to lose my card on the way home. She’d be swamped with work when she returned and this would go forgotten. Someone would have already taken that last bag from her office, or she would look at it upon her return and think it’s too much effort.


But still, I waited. Hope is its own salve. I watched the mail and waited. I thought if it comes it will be in three weeks time. Certainly Pia needs some time to catch up on her work after attending this conference and it is an international package. After three weeks and no bag I kept moving my timeline out. Each day I approached my front door hesitantly, expectantly, hoping to see a package but I knew after four weeks I would never see that bag again. 


Just when I truly forgot about it I came back from my morning walk and my husband said, “You got a package and pointed to the FedEx box on the floor.” I looked at it and said as I sat down at my computer, “I’ll open it later.” My husband, having looked at the post mark knew what lay in the box and said, “Are you sure you don’t want to open this? It’s going to make you very happy.” Not thinking about the bag at all, it took two more of his attempts for me to get up and look at the box whereupon I saw that it was from Copenhagen. 


Inside was the burgundy bag and a note from Pia hoping I would enjoy the bag. Little did she know. I wrote Pia a thank you letter and sent her my books in return, yet I’m sure she still doesn’t know how much this bag and the fact that she took the time and trouble to send it to me means. The fact that there are still people in this world as good as their word. The fact that what seems like a small act of kindness can be richly rewarding to another. When I give presentations now I put my materials in this bag and on its first flight out at JFK waiting to board a plane to Cleveland, the woman sitting next to me seeing my bag smiled and asked me about what I do. 


Yes, it’s crazy, but I proudly sport this bag as my declaration to the world that this is the work I do. That I am a member of this club. Inwardly, it’s a cue to myself that what I do matters and that I belong right where I am.


On second thought maybe this tale bears less resemblance to “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and more to the film, “The Red Violin,” where a perfect violin is admired for its red color and passes through many lives playing a significant role. Maybe my bag’s adventures from Copenhagen to Brooklyn to Cleveland, where it has yet to travel, stories it will yet engender and lives it will yet touch, is the true gift and meaning of this bag.  

A Sweet Review

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 11.19.37 AMAvailable in bookstores and on Amazon

Hmmm…let me see, it must be at least a few posts since I last reminded you about this fantastic book I wrote that was released this summer, “50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and The 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It.” Nice thing is people keep discovering it.

I wouldn’t bring it up again (well, maybe) except this morning Catherine Price not only reviews the book but also includes in her review my answers to some really great questions she asked me like: “What 3 things would you tell people about diabetes?” “What kind of policy changes do we have to make to help stop the spread of diabetes?” and “How do I personally stay positive managing my diabetes?” among other questions.

You may remember Catherine – who among her many writer hats blogs on A Sweet Life, a great savvy and diverse site that brings you news, expert advice, tips, recipes and blogs – wrote a great piece in the NY Times recently

If you don’t know “50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life” also has its very own web site. Now there’s just no reason to let myths ruin your life. 

Imagine joy and humanity in a hospital

Humanizing illness in a flash

If you haven’t seen this video, Pink Glove Dance, that’s gone viral, take a look. It’s for breast cancer awareness and it will grab ahold of your heart. 

It upends our typical view of hospitals and everything we associate with them, and the music is a foot-stomper. 

You’ll find yourself smiling (even if you watch it more than once as I have) or find a tear or two has crept into your eyes as they have mine, as it reminds us just by its joyfulness of our connection, and the humanity we all share. 

Medline, the manufacturer of pink examination gloves, is making a significant contribution to the Providence St. Vincent Medical Center at the Portland hospital where the video was shot and offering free mammograms to the community when the video gets 1 million hits. Nice to see a company think outside the box.

The video’s already gotten almost 5 million hits, but that’s no reason not to add yours. Now we need one of these for diabetes awareness, don’t ya think?

Being a type 2 in a type 1 world

My A1C Champion friends


 I truly think type 1 and type 2 diabetes should have completelydifferent names. Yes, they both have “insulin inefficiency” and wacked out blood sugars in common, but their causes and related health conditions are different, and equally significant, managing the two are generally far from the same thing, and our lives with diabetes are far from the same. 

I know this well, I don’t need confirmation, yet yesterday while on the phone with three of my closest friends with diabetes I was surprised by how acute and visceral this knowledge is becoming for my type 2 friend who is learning to use an insulin pump. “That freakin’ daily log I have to keep now” she said. “I’ve worn my hands out! And, I’ve never been so attached to glucose tabs before! If I’m out gardening I’m going low. Last night I was 71 before going to bed. What do I do?!” Ah, welcome my type 2 to my type 1 world.

We four met as A1C Champions: We travel around the country giving educational presentations to fellow patients, sharing our personal story of living with diabetes hoping to inspire our audiences to better manage their diabetes. Most of the Champions have type 2 diabetes, yet not surprisingly of these four friends, three of us have type 1. Not surprising because for type 1s there is an intrinsic bond as pervasive and invisible as our condition; we see our mutual struggle in each other, we know intimately the burden we manage every day, and, that no one else sees it. That said, we three type 1s adore our type 2 friend. She is one of the most open, caring, curious and both emotionally and diabetes-intelligent people I know.

So, we were all on the phone yesterday at the request of our type 2 friend who was seeking our type 1 counsel about her pump. Her blood sugar control is far better overall, but “lows” are more frequent. “Before (15 years worth) I rarely went below 85 or 90,” she said with tempered evenness. “Now about every third day I’m going low! Even shopping can make me go low!! TWENTY MINUTES IN WALMART AND I’M REACHING FOR THE GLUCOSE TABLETS!!! 

This will straighten out. She is working with her endocrinologist to refine her basal calculation (the amount of insulin the pump delivers throughout the day). Also, since her blood sugars now hover at a lower level than they used to, she’s paying more attention so that they don’t go too low. 

My friend has discovered through this pump experience a new understanding and respect for what type 1s live with every day, pump or no pump. And I was made more aware through our conversation of just how truly unknowing others are of what we deal with everyday, even those with type 2 diabetes. 

So there we were, three type 1s throwing out ideas to help our type 2 friend with her pump until she sees her diabetes educator again. “Eat the same three meals, and only three, every day for a week to figure out your basal rate.” “Get a book on pumping by John Walsh or Gary Scheiner and devour it cover to cover.” “Make sure you’re using multiple basal programs for different hours of the day and night when you need varying amounts of insulin.” “Don’t just eat glucose tablets if you’re low, they don’t last that long. Make sure you eat some protein too.” “Well it’s a toss up whether to detach from the pump when you’re going low to stop the insulin drip or eat a snack. Of course that could lead to weight gain.” And finally, “Accept that even if you do the same thing every day your body will not act the same way every day.” The true mantra of type 1.

I don’t write this to discourage you if you’re a type 2 thinking of a pump. My type 2 friend is definitely benefitting. Her blood sugars are lower overall, she is taking less insulin, this is allowing her to lose some weight and when not worrying about lows, which will rectify themselves once her program is worked out, she feels better and more motivated to do better seeing her numbers improve. Also, she has a real awareness now that her actions affect her results. “It’s a real eye-opener to see on paper that what I do affects everything,” she told us. “It’s made me more judicious about what I eat. I see so clearly now that I’ll have to add more insulin if I eat that. It’s made me see my management all quite differently.” That’s indeed good news.

An insulin pump, I’ve been reading in preparation to go on one myself next year, typically reduces the amount of insulin one needs. Something about how it saturates your cells with insulin and mimics the normal functioning of a healthy pancreas. For Type 2’s the insulin requirement can drop by a third or nearly half. My friend used to give herself 4 units of Apidra (rapid-acting insulin to cover meals and make corrections) to come down 80 points, now it’s more often 1 unit. 

I also had a second awakening. Hearing my type 2 friend’s astonishment and growing understanding of how a type 1 lives – the constant attention our condition requires – and her experiential understanding now of what my type 1 friend expressed as, “I have a constant awareness of lows, 24/7 that absolutely borders on fear,” I have an even greater appreciation for the hardship I live with and how well I do most days (with minimum moaning and groaning.) 

As my type 2 friend said, “This is a big learning curve let me tell you!” You’ll find no argument here.

Two sides of the diabetes coin

UnknownCatherine Price, type 1 writer

Depending upon the day, my mood, who I’m with, the conversation, whether or not my oatmeal burned that morning, my feelings about living with diabetes vary. Some days are almost a breeze, other days I’m exhaustedly fed up with all it takes and soooooo annoyed no one really gets it.

With that, I wanted to spotlight these diabetes musings that reflect only two of the many sides of living with diabetes. One is a page from my book, “The ABCs of Loving Yourself With Diabetes,” which coaches you to more often engage your positive emotions – like kindness, forgiveness, strength, courage and appreciation – to manage your diabetes, and your life, with greater ease and happiness. It’s featured in the current newsletter from TCOYD(Taking Control of Your Diabetes.) TCOYD, headed by Dr. Steven Edelman, who has type 1 diabetes and was named Educator of the Year this year by the American Diabetes Association, brings informative and inspirational one day health fairs and conferences across the country to people with diabetes.  

Then two weeks ago, Catherine Price, a blogger over at A Sweet Life, shared her story of living with diabetes in the New York Times, “Thinking About Diabetes With Every Bite” and it was as if she was telling my own tale: The constant rigor, calculations, analysis and invisibility of living with diabetes, particularly type 1 diabetes where you must inject insulin and test blood sugars several times a day, every day, to manage it.

For me, both sitting in the positive and dealing with the sometimes grinding daily tasks co-exist – sometimes simultaneously, sometimes in parallel and sometimes at unsettling right angles depending upon the day. But always like a chronic condition they are there, the many sides of diabetes rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, expanding and contracting as we learn, move, grow, expand, collapse, relapse and press on again.