ASweetLife Turns 4: The Best Diabetes Blogs of the Year

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Four years ago this month my husband, Michael Aviad, and I launched ASweetLife with the goal of helping people with diabetes live better.  Through our experience (we both have diabetes) we had learned that life with diabetes can be sweet, and having diabetes doesn’t mean you’re  sick.  We wanted to share that message with the world.  Mike and I knew that starting a diabetes magazine would mean a lot of hard work and we were mostly prepared for it.  What took us by surprise, though, was the incredible community of people who, through our work, would become part of lives.  The Diabetes Online Community’s (DOC) support has been immeasurable.  We felt this more than ever on Monday when our science editor, Karmel Allison, nearly fainted as she stood behind President Obama, supporting him while he addressed the nation on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  For a blip in time, Karmel was the most talked about woman in America.  And because Karmel was publicly supporting the ACA, a politically controversial issue, hateful messages from ACA opposers flooded our inboxes.  Messages are easy to delete, but the fury directed our way is difficult to forget. I can accept that the healthcare reform comes with controversy, but I deplore the fact that some people have allowed the controversy to stifle their compassion.  

The DOC, however, was there for Karmel.  Even members whose political views are different than her’s showed concern for her well-being.  I am very thankful that Karmel is fine, and full of admiration for her.  She handled a distressful moment with poise and gracefully carried on her diabetes advocacy.  In a statement Karmel made through the American Diabetes Association she said:

“that was me – fainting on stage, on national television, waking up to the President of the United States of America telling me I would be OK. As embarrassed as I was, fainting led my story – but more importantly the story of all people fighting to Stop Diabetes – to catch everyone’s attention. I spent yesterday afternoon talking to media around the country, allowing me to spread the message of just how important the new healthcare act is to people with diabetes.”

The need for diabetes advocacy has always been urgent, but the response to Karmel’s incident on Monday, makes it evident that there is so much more that needs to be done.  For our part, Mike and I have created a new nonprofit organization, the Diabetes Media Foundation (DMF), which is now the publisher of ASweetLife.  DMF is just getting on its feet now, but we are excited to engage with all of you as we work towards a better life for all people with diabetes.  

So, as we look back on ASweetLife’s fourth year, I can happily say it has been a wonderful year for the magazine and for its writers.  Jen Jacobs gave birth to a baby girl, Karmel is pregnant, Mike ran a marathon in Milan, I (somewhat) overcame stage-fright and presented at the Children With Diabetes (CWD) conference in Orlando, Jane Kokernak, faced her celiac diagnosis with courage, Catherine Price completed a draft of her book, Molly Johannes attended her first CWD conference, and there’s so much more… 

Every year on ASweetLife’s anniversary we like to look back at some of our favorite blog posts of the year.  So here’s our round-up for the best diabetes blogs of the year:

 
 

I will admit to having a bit of a diabetes crush on Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE, Type 1, and founder of Integrated Diabetes Services, LLC. And you know what? I’m not the only one. 

I recently saw Gary give a talk called “Strike the Spike” at the American Association of Diabetes Educators’ (AADE) 2013 conference to a room packed with diabetes educators. The point was to help CDEs understand why managing/avoiding post-meal blood glucose spikes is important – and to learn new techniques for how to do so. 

I was there because I am constantly struggling with post-meal spikes. I appear to digest food quickly and absorb insulin slowly — that’s why I’m on Symlin, which helps slow down the emptying of my stomach so I’ve got some chance of having my insulin start working by the time my food makes it to my blood. (I love my Symlin.) But I wanted to hear what other tips Gary might have, and what the responses might be… Read More

 
 

Living with type 1 diabetes is challenging, but even after years of living with it, I was not prepared to deal with a having a diabetic child. That has been almost completely overwhelming at times. I’m a worrier by nature and I am equally concerned about all aspects of both of my children’s lives. However, I must admit that my worry is doubled for my daughter Molly due to her diabetes. Over the years, my husband and I have tried to balance this worry with letting her have as normal a childhood as possible.

The day I learned that my four year old daughter Molly was diabetic was one of the worst of my life. It was right before Christmas and I went to my sister Joanne’s house after work to pick up the kids. My sister, Paula, (a type 1 diabetic since the age of 10) was also there and we were going to make final plans for Christmas dinner. Molly approached me saying she was thirsty and my sister Joanne said “boy, she’s been thirsty a lot today”. Call it mother’s intuition if you will, but the hair on the back of my head stood up and I looked at my sister Paula. She immediately knew what was going through my mind, and said “just take her home and test her blood sugar. I’m sure it’s nothing”. So I did just that.  I don’t remember the exact reading, but it was somewhere between 300 and 400. I was devastated… Read More

 
 

Others have written much about what the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, means for diabetics. I will leave the analysis to the people who have done the research. I just want to tell you what Obamacare feels like to a diabetic.

First, some background on my current healthcare status: I have been with the same HMO, Kaiser, since before I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of nine. I have therefore felt married to Kaiser; in Kaiser’s eyes, I do not have a pre-existing condition, whereas switching health insurance companies might expose me to being labeled with the big scarlet D for diabetic…. Read More

Karmel Allison: Diabetes and Sex: When Hypoglycemia Gets in the Way

A number of people over the years (hereherehere) have talked about the complexity of diabetes and sex– that is, sex with an insulin pump, and how to handle infusion sets and tubing. But that part seems pretty straightforward to me — take off the pump, do your best to ignore the infusion set.

What I struggle with is this: how do you deal with the complexity of sex with hypoglycemia? That is, how do you say, “Wait, hold on, I can’t yet,” when sex comes a-callin’ but you know you’re going low? What do you do when you’re halfway through the deed, and you feel your knees get weak and your energy start to drain as your blood sugar begins to dip? What about those times you think you’ll be okay, but then things turn out more… energetic than you were expecting? Or when you finish and realize, shit, now I’m 40 and I feel it? Read More 

 

 
 
It started off as an innocent trip to Staples. I bought packing tape because we’re moving. That was easy. Then I began rushing home because it was time to feed Maya, and here’s what wasn’t easy:  navigating through the crowd in the Union Square Farmer’s Market with a low blood sugar. It was one of those sneaky lows. No progression of symptoms. Just sudden blurred vision, shaky hands, and the thought, Gee, I might actually faint. I haven’t fainted from low blood sugar since age 14 (two years into my diabetes diagnosis), but still; it’s a valid concern. I reached into my bag to feel for my glucose tablets. I felt nothing.

I began to panic.   

 

I usually carry a big fat bag because people with diabetes have A Lot O’ Stuff. But I was only going on a quick errand and wanted to treat myself to a light-weight bag! The rebel that I am, I ditched the juice box. I wished I hadn’t because my glucose tablets were missing or stolen. Reward if found… Read More

 
 
 

One of the challenges of parenting a very young child with type 1 diabetes is the interactions with immediate family and other parents.

Our five year old son Sacha has had T1D now for three and a half years, and sadly, only one of our friends has ever tried to learn how to test our son’s blood sugar. This probably says a lot about us and the quality of our relationships, but I still find that statistic unsettling.  

To be sure, other adults in our lives do know how to take care of Sacha, but for the most part, they are people we pay. Our babysitter, K, who is terrific; a back-up sitter here in Minneapolis that we’ve trained; and Sacha’s teachers at his Montessori school. If my wife and I were to get injured in a car crash, only a handful of people would know how to care for him. The Medical Alert card he carries in his pump pouch is a nice backup, but doesn’t really solve the problem. His nine year old sister, Tessa, has excellent instincts, but she’s still far too young to provide real support. 

Our families are supportive, but they live far away… Read More

 
Michael Aviad: My Exceptional Diabetes Accomplishment

Like long distance running, diabetes is a lonely journey. There are others out there on the course and others cheering you on, but you are alone.

It is important to have caring and supportive people around you to help you cope with all of the difficulties of life with diabetes, but at the end of the day, we are alone with our diabetes. And those around us, as supportive and caring as they may be, don’t understand what life with diabetes is really like (this is why the DOC is so important).

Don’t misunderstand me. I am grateful for the support I receive from others and know that without it life would be much harder. I also know how difficult life with a diabetic can be – mood swings brought on by highs and lows, sudden changes in plans – “I feel terrible I have to lie down”, the annoying food obsessions and dietary requirements – “sorry I don’t eat pizza anymore”. And of course, there’s the worrying that goes with caring and loving a person with diabetes… Read More

Jessica Apple: Have a Donut with Your Donation to the American Diabetes Association

Just before I turned 14, in the middle of my eighth grade school year, my father, brother, and I left Houston and moved to NYC.  We moved into a sublet on 108th Street and Riverside Drive.  In contrast to sunny Houston, NYC was gray.  Our building was dreary, and the wind off the river was so bitter it stung my face.  But that was all tolerable because it was above ground.   The most shocking hardship I faced in NYC was the subway ride to my school, Friends Seminary, on East 16th Street.  The underground world was different – especially when we changed trains in Times Square.  The stench of urine was so overpowering I had to hold my breath.  And there was no escape from the devotees of L. Ron Hubbard, and their aggressive attempts to sell me copies of Dianetics

Every ride to and from school felt like the journey in The Way Back.  The one respite after a crowded subway ride home from school with my face stuck in the armpits of the passengers around me was a little shop called Happy Donuts down the street from my building.  After we exited the subway station, my brother and I made a daily stop at Happy Donuts, and carried our treats home in a little white paper bag so we could eat them while we played Nintendo.  (Looking back with the eyes of a mother, I can’t imagine allowing my sons to eat donuts every day nor can I imagine letting them eat them on the couch while playing a video game: crumbs and sticky fingers!  My father, though, never told us not to buy donuts.  I suppose he was just relieved we made it home.  And, hey, the donuts were Happy and I wasn’t.  Maybe he thought some of the donuts’ joy would rub off on me.) Read More

 

 

Dear Mars, Inc., Manufacturer of M&M’s,

In the 90s, when I came of voting age, I experienced the joy of voting for President Clinton.  I felt as though I were making a difference in the world.  I was proud of myself and my contribution to the United States of America as I cast my vote in favor of gun control, higher taxes for the wealthy, a woman’s right to abortion without exception, and so on.  Then, just a few years later, in 1995, thanks to you, I had the opportunity to cast my vote on a matter, unlike all that other stuff I mentioned, that truly defined basic American values: the color of our M&M’s. You gave me the power to oust the tan M&M, a color so putrid it was only in dark movie theaters that we could eat it without thinking of baby diarrhea.

I was not alone in my desire for change. 10 million Americans raised their phone receivers to vote on the future color of M&M’s. More than 50% of us chose blue. 

Blue m&m

At the time I based my vote on a several things: First, I was a student at the University of Michigan and “Go Blue!” was one of my regular cheers.  Second, I truly believed the world was in need of more blue food. Now, however, as I have become a person with diabetes, blue has a whole new meaning to me. Blue is the color of diabetes awareness. A blue circle is the international symbol of diabetes.  I write to you today to ask you to become a diabetes advocate. Help me and my community raise diabetes awareness by declaring the blue M&M the international symbol for the treatment of hypoglycemiaRead More

Jessica Apple is co-founder and editor-in-chief of ASweetLife.  She writes the blog The Natural Diabetic.

Follow Jessica on Twitter (@jessapple)

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Catherine
Catherine

Four years?!! That’s amazing. I am so grateful to both of you and the entire Sweet Life community for providing me with information, a sense of community, and an opportunity to connect with others through writing.  Here’s to many more. 

Steve

Congratulations! One of my favorite places to visit on the web, with loads of inspiration and information. Keep up the great work!

Kathy White

Congratulations on 4 years!  This is definitely my go to site for facts, news, and shared experiences.  I especially appreciate Karmel’s scientific explantations of the complex and exciting aspects of research for the cure. Your website home page is awesome for finding what i am looking for too. 

Here’s to many more years!!!! 

Jess
Jess

 
hmbalison,

Thank you so much for your comment.  You made my year.  I see your comments around the site.  We so appreciate your readership and support.Thank YOU! 

best,
jess
 

hmbalison
hmbalison

I come to this site every day and have learned so much about managing diabetes and living with diabetes. More than anything else, I’ve appreciated the community and support you provide. I don’t feel alone living with diabetes, and that is a gift.

Thanks everyone for the excellent writing and for providing outstanding content. Here’s to many more years of A Sweet Life. 

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