Molly Johannes was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1997 at the age of four. She controls her diabetes with an OmniPod insulin pump, Dexcom continuous glucose monitor, and daily exercise. Molly graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in December 2014 with a degree in English. Currently, she works fulltime as an associate editor for a financial company. In her spare time, Molly enjoys spending time with her loved ones, reading books, watching movies, and playing games. She’s an avid fan of Disney, dark chocolate, wine, Harry Potter, and fun times. While Molly does not know a life without diabetes, she is determined to defy the daily obstacles the disease presents. Read full bio

Three People with Diabetes Go to a Zumba Class…

Geez, the title of this blog post sounds like the start of a ridiculously cheesy joke, doesn’t it? But it’s true—my mom, my aunt, and I go to a Zumba class every Wednesday night to get some exercise in the middle of our busy workweeks. And it just so happens that we each have type one diabetes.

If you don’t know what Zumba is, then I’d highly recommend trying out a class at some point to find out for yourself. Words can’t exactly do it justice, but I’ll take a stab at it. Basically, one Zumba class is an hour-long session that blends Latin dance moves with strength and conditioning exercises. The instructor plays high energy music and shows you the choreography for each song.

It’s a lot of fun, even if you do have two left feet—which I certainly do. Sometimes, I have to fake my way through a song if I can’t quite comprehend the steps involved, which makes me feel a little goofy. At the same time, though, it’s good for a laugh as well as dynamic exercise.

Speaking of exercise, have you heard about the Big Blue Test? It’s an initiative launched by the Diabetes Hands Foundation that encourages those with diabetes to exercise 14-20 minutes daily. The idea is that you test your blood sugar before and after the physical activity and see how it affects your blood sugar. According to their website (, those who partake in the Big Blue Test notice an average blood sugar drop of 20%.

After you’ve completed your blood sugar tests and exercise, visit either the website or the mobile app to share your results. By doing this, the Diabetes Hands Foundation grants $1 for every Big Blue Test logged. This money helps support people in need who are affected by diabetes around the world.

This year, the Diabetes Hands Foundation hopes to reach 110,000 Big Blue Test entries by the end of November. Seeing as November is also Diabetes Awareness Month, it’s a great time to blend advocacy with fitness by taking as many Big Blue Tests as possible. It doesn’t hurt that my weekly Zumba classes extend through the month, so you can bet that I’ll be logging my blood sugars after each one.

So even though my mom, my aunt, and I aren’t the most coordinated people, we are definitely motivated to stay in shape and keep our blood sugars in check with this exercise. Whether you work out on your own or with others (T1D or nonT1D!), be sure to think about the benefits it can have individually AND collectively by making it a Big Blue Test!

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OmniPod Failure and Frustration

Omnipod - When it works, it's great. But when it doesn't...The pod was applied and my PDM’s “start” button was pressed. My body tensed in anticipation of the cannula inserting itself into my skin. It doesn’t cause excruciating pain, but the sensation isn’t exactly pleasant. I waited, listening to the pod tick as the mechanism inside it started to work. I closed my eyes, knowing the pinch would come soon, and waited a bit longer. My grip on the chair tightened. Why was it taking so long? I waited some more. Beep! My PDM chirped at me. I looked down at the screen, which bore the following message:

“Pod is active. ‘basal 1’ has been programmed. Check infusion site and cannula. Is cannula properly inserted?”

I should have hit the “no” option, but my bemusement with the situation prompted me to hit “yes”. I still hadn’t felt the cannula insert itself.

“Ugh! Mom, it happened again…” My mom, who was in the kitchen with me, came over. I explained to her that the cannula failed to insert itself for the second time in a one-month span.

Neither of us had a clue what was going on the first time it happened. I followed the typical pod-change routine like usual and braced myself for the cannula insertion. It didn’t happen, but the “active pod” message appeared. We exchanged confused looks and I began to second guess myself. Did the cannula go in, and I just couldn’t feel it? Did this mean I was becoming invulnerable in the face of the cannula’s prick?

Just as these thoughts were coursing through my mind, my mom and I both heard a loud *click* that made me yelp in surprise. The cannula pierced my skin at last, after an inexplicable lapse of time. Normally, you feel the cannula go in once it has been successfully primed with insulin. This is followed by the “active pod” message on the PDM. This time, though, the PDM message deployed while the cannula failed to until a solid three minutes later.

We didn’t know if it was okay for me to continue using the pod, so we got on the phone with OmniPod to get confirmation. Sure enough, the delay in cannula insertion is a known “needle mechanism failure” that apparently affects pods once in a blue moon. We were told that I would receive a pod to replace the faulty one, and that was pretty much the extent of the conversation.

I hoped the incident would be a one-time thing; obviously, a second occurrence within a month proved me wrong and also sets me on edge. So far, things have been awesome with my OmniPod. When it works, and it usually does, it’s incredibly convenient. But when the unpredictable strikes and a pod fails or the needle mechanism itself fails, pricy pods and insulin are wasted and I become very frustrated.

On the bright side, I removed the second pod blighted by needle mechanism failure before I had to experience the shock of it pricking me unawares. And I can say with certainty that after these two nettlesome (needle-some?) episodes, I’ll be very happy about every successful pod change going forward.


My Newfound Devotion to #DSMA

My Newfound Devotion to #DSMAMost Wednesday nights from 9-10 P.M., you’ll find me glued to my phone as I participate in DSMA.

DSMA stands for Diabetes Social Media Advocacy and is one of the primary reasons why I decided to rejoin Twitter. I had an account that I maintained throughout college, but I deleted it last January because it had no meaning left to me. It existed as a mere narration of the awkward encounters, strange observances, and many musings that occurred to me in this specific period of my life. It was, in short, diary entries consisting of 140 characters (or less) that I no longer felt comfortable sharing with my followers despite having a private account.

However, I changed my mind this past June when I re-evaluated how I could use Twitter in a more fulfilling way. After all, I enjoy how social media connects me with others. I decided to invent an entirely new account that is focused on my diabetes, much like this blog. I would say that 80% of it pertains to my diabetes, whereas the remaining 20% is little snippets about my other interests (including, but not limited to, soap operas, Harry Potter, and chocolate).

After creating my diabetes-concentrated account, I discovered that a solid portion of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) participates in weekly chats hosted by DSMA. These tweet sessions last one hour and revolve around a different, pre-selected topic each week. The DSMA account tweets out an average of five or six questions over the course of the hour, giving you ample time to respond to each one and look at, reply to, and re-tweet what other people have to say. And once you participate in one DSMA conversation, it totally becomes an addiction. You bond with others over shared experiences and feelings, despite the fact that you might not have met them in person.

Since June, I’ve looked forward to these Wednesday night virtual hang-outs. It’s always interesting to speculate on the subject for the night—some of my favorites have been about burnout, exercise, exploring the past/future with diabetes, and the always-amusing fill-in-the-blank prompts.

Another pro of DSMA live tweeting? Participation week-to-week is (obviously) completely voluntary. You can keep up with it for the full hour, join in late, or bow out early. That way, you can catch up with members of the DOC for as long as you like.

Needless to say, my current use of Twitter is drastically different compared to how I used it in the past. It’s still completely saturated with my personality, but now I feel much more positive when I tweet than I did before. And thanks to the existence of platforms like DSMA, I can open up and connect with others in a way unique from this blog.

So I encourage you to find me, DSMA, and the other members of DOC on Twitter and join in the next conversation!

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Saved by a Panda Button or Hypoglycemia at the Zoo

The Panda Button

Drenched, dazed, and donning a button with a panda picture on it—this is an accurate depiction of my appearance after venturing to Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo this past Friday.

How did I wind up in such a state of disarray? It all starts with my desire to go to the zoo with my boyfriend during my trip to see him. Slowly but surely, we’re making our way around to all the super cool museums and monuments within the nation’s capital and enjoying every experience.

But sometimes, diabetes leaves its mark in times like these. Not in a serious or unpredictable manner; rather, it plays mean little tricks at less convenient times.

This time, it happened towards the end of our zoo excursion. We spent four or five hours on a particularly hot September day wandering around the enormous space. Despite all the walking and the merciless heat, my blood sugars remained relatively stable—much to my relief, considering my CGM was out of commission. This made seeing the animals even more exciting. I wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun if my mind had been preoccupied by a low or a high. We loved the playful elephants, jungle cats, exotic birds, and the other various fauna we encountered (except for the bird-eating spider, yikes).

As we were walking out of the zoo, we realized it would probably be a smart idea to use the restrooms in the visitor’s center before hopping on the Metro to go back home. The moment we stepped into the air-conditioned facilities, it dawned on me that I was totally drenched in sweat…gross! We did our best to stay cool throughout the day, but the fact that I was wearing black in the blistering sun didn’t help my case. But I cared more about fashion over function by choosing to sport my new romper, a funky one-piece garment that baffled my boyfriend. He didn’t quite understand why it was trendy and questioned its practicality (“you have to pull the whole thing down to use the bathroom?!”), points that I thought were moot until I had a hell of a time freeing myself from the frock in the restroom stall. It seemed to cling to my sticky body, and the zippers were refusing to budge. In the middle of this struggle, I realized I was feeling somewhat dazed and disoriented. In tandem with my excessive sweatiness, these were surefire symptoms of a low.

I finally managed to go about my business in the stall, and hurriedly adjusted my romper so I could bust out of there, wash my hands, and test. In my haste, I knocked the zipper that shut the blouse part of my romper off its track. I stood there in disbelief for a few moments. Did I really just make it impossible to zip up my romper, exposing myself to the general public?

Yup, I sure did. So what did I do then? I pinched the front part of my romper together with my fingers to cover myself up and proceeded to wash my hands. I tested, found out that I was low, and pretty much stopped thinking from there. I walked out of the bathroom to my waiting boyfriend, and told him in panicked whispers about my wardrobe malfunction and low blood sugar. He became all business, telling me to go back into the bathroom, address my low, and try once more to fix the zipper. He told me that he would check the gift shop, which was conveniently right there, to see if he could find anything that might help me.

That’s how less than ten minutes later, I was walking out of the visitor’s center with some sugar in my system and a panda button pinning my blouse shut. Thanks to some quick thinking, my crises were averted and now I have a dorky souvenir to prove it.

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The Great Debate: Is it Fair to Punish a Hypoglycemic Child?

Katy Killilea recently wrote a feature article for ASweetLife in which she posed this thought-provoking question. It arose after a hypoglycemic experience with her son in which he wandered away from her when his blood sugar was low. His rebellious attitude during the incident prompted Katy to take his phone away from him. Even when his blood sugar came up and he apologized for his actions, Katy decided to stick with her decision in the hope that this would be a teaching moment for both her and her son.

After reading the article, I felt thoroughly caught in the middle between Katy and her son. On the one hand, I sympathized with him because I recall plenty of hypoglycemic episodes in my childhood in which I acted unlike myself. Heck, even in my adulthood, some blood sugars have triggered irrational emotions or behavior. On the other hand, I know that blood sugar cannot justify or excuse behavior (unless it’s an emergency situation or other unique circumstance). I’m absolutely guilty of being a defiant elementary-age kid who was conveniently “too low” at a given moment in time to clean her room or help with the dishes. Obviously, I realize now that it was wrong to blame my laziness on my diabetes, and I don’t blame my parents for a second for being frustrated with me in those particular situations in which I was perfectly fine, albeit bratty. Even though I’m not a parent, I can understand Katy’s feelings about the alarming nature of the event and the fact that an important lesson about behavior can be gleaned from it.

I decided to ask my mom her opinion on the subject. I summarized Katy’s article and the subsequent debate it sparked. My mother’s response was succinct; frankly, she felt as though she should not judge. She thinks this could be a common occurrence for some children and that they need to learn how to pay attention to their blood sugars, seeing as it could be a lifelong issue. In general, my mom believes that each family is unique, with their own set of issues that they will deal with as they see fit. She ended by saying she does not think a child should be overly punished, though.

The more I thought about my mom’s answer, the more it made sense to me. Just like diabetes itself, the fairness of punishing a hypoglycemic child varies case to case. Some children’s behavior may be more affected by a low than others, which could necessitate a punishment to prevent serious consequences in future hypoglycemic circumstances. I can’t remember a time in my life where I received a punishment for a low blood sugar, but I also have a good track record for recognizing low symptoms and correcting it before they exacerbate. Speaking of my low symptoms, my mood usually isn’t affected by them—I have physical indicators like shakiness, dizziness, and sluggishness—quite unlike Katy’s son as described in her article.

That proves the point, though: that each person with diabetes is different. We have different treatment methods, different low/high symptoms, different ways of coping with it. It’s all about trial-and-error, finding what works best for you. With that in mind, I’m pretty sure my mom and I lie on the same side of debate, the one I call the judgment-free zone. Diabetes is constantly teaching me, and this time I learned that what isn’t fair is to judge how other individuals handle the challenges that diabetes presents.

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Making Diabetes Prettier With Pump Peelz

Pump Peelz for OmniPodWhen I think about all the supplies associated with diabetes, “glamorous” or “cute” aren’t the first words that come to mind. This all changed, though, when I discovered Pump Peelz.

I recently noticed some other members of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) excitedly talking about Pump Peelz on social media. They posted pictures of their insulin pumps, meters, and CGMs all decked out in pretty patterns with a shout-out to Pump Peelz in the captions. Intrigued, I did some online research to learn more about how I could accessorize my diabetes devices.

I discovered that Pump Peelz is a company that specializes in designing stickers that can fit a wide range of diabetes tools. The stickers are available in numerous patterns, from floral and geometric to more zany styles like watermelon prints or holiday themes. There’s even an option to create your own customized pump peel for the device of your choice.

I had fun scrolling through the different peelz available. Nearly all of them were eye-catching, making it tough for me to narrow down exactly which designs I wanted to try. Moreover, I had to decide which ones were worthy of being adorned. After some thought, I chose two peelz for my OmniPod (note: for the actual pods, not the PDM) and one for my Verio meter. My PDM is already in a protective case, and I got to choose what color I wanted (pink) for my CGM, so I didn’t feel compelled to get peelz for them at this time. All three peelz were a very reasonable price, just under $15 total after I applied a promotional code.

Pump Peelz Meme

Roughly one week later, a small parcel arrived in the mail for me. My Pump Peelz were here at last! I tore excitedly into the brown envelope and out fell a card that explained how to apply my peelz. Immediately, I rummaged through my purse for my meter so I could affix the peel on it. It was super easy to put on, and neat to see my meter transform from blah to beautiful.

Pleased with my first peel, I was eager to see how I would like the ones I purchased for my pods. I’ve only used one pod-specific peel so far, and I posted a picture of the outcome for my friends on Facebook to see. It was met with great amusement, so I was satisfied with my diabetes-humor-inspired choice.

Pump Peelz for VerioThe only critique I have about the peelz for the pods are that they are difficult to remove. After three days passed, it was time to change my pod. Upon removing it from my body, I spent a solid five minutes trying and failing to remove the peel without damaging it. I can still probably use it on one or two more future pods, but it won’t look as nice as it did the first time around.

Overall, I’m really happy that I tried Pump Peelz. Previously, I’ve only worn my pods on sites that you can’t see – my stomach and lower back. Now, I’m excited to try areas like the upper arm so I can stick a pump peel on the pod and make a fashion statement out of it. I highly recommend the products that Pump Peelz offers to anyone who is looking to jazz up boring diabetes devices by making them stylish and fun.

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My 10 Best Diabetes Triumphant Moments

10. Finding a new, yummy snack that doesn’t skew blood sugar

I love cheese, veggies, and deli meats, but sometimes I get sick of turning to them when I’m looking for a low-carb snack that won’t make me skyrocket. That’s why I love discovering new, lower-glycemic index foods that taste great without triggering any CGM alarms.

Perfect BG Meme9. CGM and meter matches

Twins! It may be trivial, but I find it reassuring when the blood sugar that my meter reports happens to be exactly the same as the one on my CGM. It’s all about that accuracy!

8. Treating well for…well, treats

Speaking of accuracy, it can be ~hella~ tough to bolus after devouring a giant plate of nachos or a generous slice of cake with ice cream. The mental carb calculator might go a little haywire in the process of figuring out just how many grams of carbohydrate are in a given amount of “bad” food, but when you get it right, it feels so damn good.

7. Joining the Century Club

When I was a little kid and my blood sugar was 100 mg/dL, I would draw little fireworks next to the result in my logbook as a sign of my success. While I may no longer do that, I still feel happy when I reach the 100 mg/dL reading that I find pretty perfect. Definitely worthy of a meter advertisement!

6. Painless site changes

Oh my gosh, CGM changes and pod insertions can HURT. In fact, almost every time I change my pod I let out a little squeal of agony, whether it really was painful or not. So whenever I hit a sweet spot with a site change, it’s pure relief and makes the process less stressful.

5. Correcting accurately for a hyper

It’s not fun to have a hyperglycemic blood sugar. For me, it affects my mood by taking me from glad to grouchy within seconds. And don’t get me started on all the water/diet coke I down, resulting in endless bathroom trips! When I reverse a high by delivering a correction bolus that takes me back down to a better reading like 108 mg/dL, I feel that much better mentally and physically.

4. Conversely, correcting accurately for a hypo

Along the same lines, low blood sugars are so disorienting. I can’t stand feeling shaky, dizzy, and sweaty all at once. And it can be irksome to be forced to eat when you don’t necessarily want to. That’s why I take great pleasure in fixing a low with the bare minimum of carbs, which usually results in a near-perfect blood sugar reading later.

3. Seeing a doctor who just gets it

Over the last 17 years, I’ve seen my fair share of doctors – some I’ve loved, some I’ve loathed. Currently, I’m fortunate to have an endo who truly understands me and my needs. She listens, she cares, she doesn’t blame me diabetes mistakes. While I still don’t love having to see a doctor every three months, she makes it much more bearable.

2. Meeting other T1Ds

Talk about people who “just get it”! The only T1Ds I knew growing up were two immediate family members. When I went off to college, this completely changed and I connected with many other T1Ds. Suddenly, it was normal to whip out my meter or a syringe whenever needed, and conversations about carbohydrates were common.

1. Improved A1c results

A1c MemeThis. One of the ultimate victories! I’ll never forget how good I felt when my A1c dropped a whole point, marking major personal progress. An improved A1c is a true sign of your effort being worth it when it comes to your diabetes management. #FTW!

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Seeing the Good in Mild Diabetes Burnout

Good BG Bad BG - Diabetes Burnout

Sometimes, all it takes is one bad reading. It comes at the wrong place or time (often both), and it pisses you off.

I’m referring to the mild case of diabetes burnout that I experienced this week. I call it “mild” because it was fleeting and was not accompanied by the typical array of emotions that are associated with a real case of burnout. This time around, it lasted the length of a day and mainly made me aggravated. It all began bright and early, Monday morning…

I woke up to a beautiful blood sugar of 97 mg/dL, which made me especially happy after having to change my pod the night before. I rolled out of bed after testing, and as I started going about my morning routine, I noticed I felt a little shaky and dazed as if I was dropping low…odd, right? My CGM told me that I was stable, so I tried to shake the sensations and attribute it to grogginess. Nevertheless, I decided to eat breakfast before showering in the hopes that might give me the boost my body seemed to need. One smoothie and half a coffee roll later, I felt confident that I could resume getting ready without exacerbated low symptoms. I gave myself a bolus, guesstimating a higher carb count than normal due to the coffee roll, and went to go shower.

15 minutes later, I still wasn’t out of my fog. I wondered if I went overboard with my carb calculations and gave myself too much insulin. Without mulling it over further, I grabbed a small handful of fast-acting cereal to counteract this possibility.

All the diabetes drama was making me late for work, so I didn’t pay much attention to what my CGM was reporting over the next hour. When I finally got to the office, I did pay it a glance and saw I was sitting well at about 134 mg/dL. Maybe I’d made the right call, after all.

Not exactly. Unbeknownst to me, my blood sugar stealthily climbed to exceed 200 mg/dL over the next few hours. By lunchtime, I was simultaneously starving and irate when I tested and discovered I was 256! I bolused and sat there, steaming, as I tried to figure out where I went wrong. Did it have to do with my choice of breakfast? Was it because I didn’t sleep well enough? Should I have ignored my body’s pseudo-low symptoms?

Whatever it was, it triggered me to feel very fed-up and negative about my diabetes for the rest of the day. Granted, I did come back down nicely by the nighttime, but I wasn’t over the fact that my diabetes had been so sneaky on me. Between the symptoms I felt and the slow rise to a hyperglycemic reading, I felt tricked. As a result, I knew I was ready to blame my anger on some good ol’ fashioned diabetes burnout. I felt tired of diabetes and its mean mind games and just wished it would go away.

But of course, reality sinks in at some point. As my day came to a close, I was ready to move past this day of feeling terrible about my diabetes management and kick ass the next day. And as it would happen, I did. This case of diabetes burnout turned into some damn good motivation, so I guess it isn’t always that bad.

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Body Image and the OmniPod: What I Didn’t Consider

Approximately six months ago, I made the decision to go on the insulin pump. The thought of changing insulin therapy scared the hell out of me, but I was ready to see how pumping might improve my health.

My pump of choice was the OmniPod because 1) it was tubeless and 2) my mom also uses it. In fact, her experience transitioning to the pump a few years ago both inspired and deterred me from trying it myself. Mom happened to go on it just a couple weeks before we were set to go on a family vacation in Maine, which totally threw her for a loop. She encountered irritating problems like non-adhesive pods and unexpected failures, so instead of enjoying time at the beach, she was making calls for help to OmniPod. Needless to say, that proved to me that injections were the way to go.

This changed, though, when I saw how well my mom was doing on the pump. Frustrated by my blood sugars and looking for a solution, I decided that 2015 would be the year that I give the pump a fair shot.

I’ve blogged previously about my mostly positive experience thus far on the OmniPod. It’s worked so well for me that I almost don’t regret going on it – the keyword there being almost.

I guess what bothers me more than anything else right now about the pod is that it’s yet another diabetes-related device that I have to wear 24/7. Obviously, I knew about this prior to using the OmniPod, but the thought of wearing two things on my body at once wasn’t cause for me to balk. I figured, what’s the big deal if I already have to wear my CGM sensor?

But I should have considered the semi-permanence of an insulin pump. A CGM sensor is optional – I can decide whether or not I want to use it. Nine times out of ten, I use it because of the valuable information it provides. On occasion, though, I choose to go without it, whether it is because I want a break from it or because of aesthetics. An insulin pump does not exactly provide this luxury. If I choose to stop wearing it, then all insulin delivery immediately halts and I have to give myself injections. As a result, I have to choose the lesser of two evils: pricking myself with a syringe multiple times a day, or treating my diabetes with the convenience of a pump while being self-conscious of the pod just-visible beneath my clothes?

I started giving this some more thought as the start of the summer. I went on vacation, and noticed that every now and then, people would stare at the devices planted on my belly and my backside. That didn’t bother me so much, but it did prompt me to become overly self-aware of my body. Each time I put on a bathing suit, I noticed how difficult it was to arrange any of my bikini bottoms so that they did not interfere with my pod or sensor but still offered adequate coverage. Not surprisingly, one-pieces were also a struggle seeing as they would cling to my devices, giving my body some unwanted (and certainly not sexy) curves. Even my most flattering bikini can’t camouflage my insecurity with my devices, and tends to heighten my self-consciousness.

So now I find myself trying to make peace with the fact that I have to wear my pod to experience the convenience of the insulin pump, all while feeling more awkward in a bathing suit. I know this all may seem trivial, but it is something that I wish I didn’t brush off before making the transition. It’s hard enough to accept my body the way it is – especially as a female in her 20s – and I try my best to not hold myself to everyone else’s standards. It’s easier said than done, though, and makes the road to being comfortable in my own skin a little bumpier.


10 Memorable Moments from my Disney Cruise

My family and I with Cinderella

When I was in middle school, my parents told my brother and me that once we graduated college, we would take a family vacation on a Disney cruise. I didn’t believe them up until this past November, when they informed us that we would make this vacation a reality in May 2015. It’s not easy to choose just 10 moments that stood out to me from the trip, but I think this list hits the major points. Continue reading to discover my highlights, diabetes-related and not.

10. Our ship, the Disney Fantasy

In the weeks prior to vacation, I spent a good chunk of time researching our ship and the activities to do onboard. This extensive investigating certainly made me more excited for what was to come, but it paled in comparison to the splendor of the Fantasy in person. I was in awe of its sheer size, and this only amplified when embarked on the ship and took in the interior’s opulence. From classic Disney songs playing in the halls to the enormous projection screen (for playing Disney movies, of course) overlooking the pool, every minute detail added to the overall experience.

9. Lost Luggage

Remember, this is a list of memorable moments, so that means the good and the bad of our trip. Our luggage failed to make it onboard with us. As you could imagine, this resulted in a rough start to the trip and unwanted vacation stress. Our first night was not nearly as fun as it should’ve been due to our anxiety over our lost luggage, but the next morning we were informed it would be waiting for us when we arrived in St. Maarten, the first port of call. Even though we didn’t have our own clothing for nearly the first half of the trip, we still made the most of it and donned Disney Cruise Line clothes until we were reunited with our possessions.

8. Trivia Champions

I’m a bit of a trivia geek, so I was excited when I learned that there was trivia offered multiple times each day throughout the cruise. I convinced my family to play with me, and we wound up beating several other teams by taking first place!

7. Close Encounters with Wildlife

A view of our boat in St. ThomasI never thought I would have the chance to feed lorikeets or swim with stingrays…but I did both on this vacation. I’ve always loved animals, so it was incredible to interact with them in such a unique way.

6. The Incredible Staff

The crewmembers aboard the Fantasy really made us feel welcome from Day 1. They were super understanding about our luggage situation, and played a major role in assuaging us over the fiasco. Over the course of our vacation, we got to know many of them by name and shared daily conversation with them that felt genuine. Not to mention the fact that one of our waiters made dinner hilarious for my family by stumping us with crayon and card tricks – thanks, Julio!

5. Mixology, Martinis, and More

I wrote in greater detail on how alcohol affected my diabetes management on the cruise in a feature for ASweetLife – what I didn’t mention in that piece is that I now have a new favorite martini, which I happily sampled at a martini tasting. It’s called the coconut martini and it’s delicious! I loved going to the martini tasting and mixology class because of how much I learned from the bartender. As a result of these experiences, I found a new favorite cocktail: the coconut martini. It’s delicious!

4. Fantastic Food

OMG, I forgot how great cruise food could be! Breakfast was a buffet that had everything you could possibly imagine available. Lunch was arbitrary depending on what my family and I were doing, so some days it was a healthy salad and others it was nothing but soft serve ice cream (which was available 24 hours, yum!). Dinner was always a two-hour affair consisting of five – yes, FIVE – courses that could not have been portioned more perfectly. My mother and I happily made use of the extended bolus feature on our OmniPods to prevent lows, and it worked without a hitch for the most part.

3. Not One, but Two Pod Failures

This was a major annoyance, but my swift recoveries for both made me feel in control. The first occurred when I was showering after a long day spent at Waikiki Beach in St. Maarten. Halfway through my shower, I heard the telltale “beeeeeeeeeeep!”. I wasn’t pleased about having to put a new pod on so close to dinner, which was to happen an hour later, but I did it and I was fine. Pod failure #2 happened on Castaway Cay, where my PDM lost all communication with the pod I was wearing. Not entirely sure how this happened, but thankfully, we had an extra Humalog pen that I used to give myself a lunchtime bolus. Neither pod failure was terribly convenient, but really, are they ever?

2. Ports of Call

Words can’t express how beautiful the islands of St. Maarten and St. Thomas were. We only had about seven hours at each port, which simply wasn’t enough time! However, we enjoyed some gorgeous weather on both islands. The last port of call, Castaway Cay, is a Disney-owned private island – and yes, it’s as fantastic as it sounds. My parents and I went for a bike ride in the morning and spent the rest of our day there snorkeling and soaking up the sun at Serenity Bay, an adults-only beach. My brother, on the other hand, chose the more thrilling pastime: parasailing! Regretfully, our time here was even shorter, and we were sad when it was time to go back on the ship.

1. Spending Time with my Family

Cue the “aww”-ing. As time goes on, I find that life speeds up to an unstoppable pace and it’s more difficult to spend time with your loved ones. This vacation was much-needed not just for relaxing, but hanging out as a family. I’m really grateful for our trip together and I look forward to future ones.

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