Renewing one’s vows to diabetes

MTB Paul Barbara

It was a remarkable Saturday evening in lower Manhattan a few weeks ago. Seated in an old Fire station just off Canal Street about 100 of us, including several diabetes’ luminaries – Psychologist Bill Polonsky, DRI’s Tom Karlya, AADE Educator of the Year Susan Weiner and Marjorie’s Fund founder Jason Baker – watched Paul Binder above renew his vows to his diabetes and his health.

This historic event was hosted by an innovative organization called The Betes. The Betes uses theatre and play to help people with chronic illness embrace their very personal story of illness – see them, hear them and begin to transform them to heal.

Read the whole story on The Huffington Post.

The Little Red Sports Car JDRF Sold to Ford

red carA Guest Post by Eleanor Troutt

Eleanor asked if she could share her story and how could I refuse. She’s written three inspirational books, available world-wide, for kids with T1D.

I’m a senior citizen who happens to have type 1 diabetes. I say “happens to” because diabetes doesn’t define who I am – it’s just a nuisance which I have to keep close tabs on. I don’t want to minimize this disease because it can be a killer but, to me, it’s a wily opponent whom I’m constantly trying to outsmart. And, it’s given me something I’m still in awe of – three published books.

A few years ago I was asked to be a counselor at two summer camps for children with type 1 diabetes and their parents. I thought about what I could share with the children and an analogy formed in my mind. I could compare the changes that diabetes had made in my life to those of a little red sports car that developed a serious mechanical problem. I had always taken my body for granted until it suddenly ceased functioning smoothly and required a major adjustment. Similarly, the little car in my analogy developed a problem which required its owner to learn a complete new way to drive it.

At the end of each camp session there was an amateur evening where campers and counselors presented something for everyone’s enjoyment. I read the story of the little red sports car. Many of the parents were moved and some were in tears as they related it to what they and their child were going through. Several said I should put it into a book.

It was eight years before that became a reality, but with a lot of time and effort and a large measure of help from God, I finally got it out in book form.

Wanting to donate a portion of the sale of each book to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, I made an appointment to see the CEO of JDRF in my area. She was intrigued and felt the book could be used as a fundraiser by the Ford Motor Company, which was a major sponsor of JDRF. With her help, things happened quickly – one Ford Motor Division after another put in orders for books which they sold and then donated the money to JDRF.

That got The Little Red Sports Car started on its journey and it has sold all over the world since.

Since then I’ve written two more books for children with type 1 diabetes. My second book, Winston the Amazing Dog, is about a guard dog for a circus, who watching the trainer teach one of the stunt riders a new trick, seizes the opportunity to show that he can do it too. People come to the circus just to see him perform, but then he gets diabetes and is devastated thinking his circus career is over. However, with the proper treatment, he performs again and goes on to become even more famous!  Diabetes doesn’t have to stop anyone from becoming anything they want to be.

My third book, Boots the Giant Killer, recounts the story of a little kitten who takes on a clever and wily opponent and wins.  Much as we who have diabetes have to do on a daily basis.

My hope is that my books give children hope that they can live a normal life in spite of diabetes – just with a few adjustments. And I can say that based on my own experience.

My Atlanta washer woman

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 5.47.51 PM

This morning I was sitting in the Atlanta airport on the way home from a Sanofi meeting. I’d been invited to moderate a patient panel. Since Sanofi will be losing its patent on Lantus it’s launching a new long-acting basal insulin, Toujeo. The main benefits of Toujeo appear to be a low incidence of nighttime hypoglycemia and 24 plus hours of action. For someone who only takes 8 units of Lantus a day I’ve been told and experienced that it doesn’t last me 24 hours. Toujeo would be a meaningful improvement for me.

But this post isn’t about Toujeo or insulin or Sanofi or even people with diabetes. This post is about Maria the washer woman in the Atlanta women’s rest room, Terminal A just aside gate A 9. She made my trip home, after basking in the compliments from the Sanofi reps, a continued high.

With the line snaking out of the rest room, Maria stood at the front of the line announcing each open stall as it became available. “Okay, two on the left, come right here ladies.” “We’ve got one open in the back on the right just for you ma’am.” “C’mon, ladies, shake a leg, right up here.” “Can I hold your package for you ma’am?” I smiled throughout her broadcast and marveled that she had made one of the loneliest and most menial jobs into a little beehive of super-connectivity, made herself vital to us and turned waiting on a ladies room line into a joyful act.

I left the rest room but couldn’t walk more than a few feet before I turned around and walked back in. I asked Maria, “Can I take your photo? “My photo?” she asked dubiously, curiously. Yes, I said, you gave me so much pleasure while I was waiting on line, you’re amazing. She grinned shyly and posed. cleaneer

Nothing more important going on here than what’s most important – connecting, giving away kindness, creating joy and ease. I’m home now, still thinking of you Maria and still grinning.

New health strategy: Live like a diabetic

I was doing some research this morning for the book I’m currently writing on flourishing with diabetes when I came across a note I’d made to myself. Re-read this article.

Alex O’Meara, author of the post, received two islet cell transplants and was diabetes-free for two years. What’s interesting is during that time as he says, “I did not go out and eat a chocolate Easter bunny. I didn’t sit with gallons of Ben & Jerry’s and sample myself into a gait-altering weight gain. I didn’t gorge at McDonald’s, or drink a pony keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon…” He still thought and acted like a diabetic continuing to eat healthy and exercise.

Almost two years after the transplant his islet cells began to die and he was back to taking insulin shots. But as he says, “I realized my entire life might be a whole lot better as a result of living it as a diabetic.”

I always say I’m healthier due to having diabetes. I would not have given up my beloved scones or walk through snow and slush each winter day had I not the reason to maintain my insulin sensitivity and live a long and healthy life. Maybe we ought to tell our fellow Americans to live like a diabetic [granted, without the constant carb calculations, shots, devices, frustration and worries  ;-)] and watch their health improve.