Kerri Morrone Sparling is the author and creator of Six Until Me, one of the most widely-read diabetes patient blogs. Kerri, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was six, is sharp, honest, funny and lovable, so it’s no surprise that her blog has a strong and loyal readership- from diabetics, to their caregivers, to medical professionals. Six Until Me has been spotlighted on WebMD, The Lancet, AOL, US News and World Report, and CNBC. Kerri Sparling has contributed to many diabetes-related websites and publications, and is a passionate advocate for diabetes awareness. She doesn’t sleep much and when she does, there’s sometimes a little gray cat on her head. Kerri is at the gym at least five days a week, doing cardio circuits and resistance training. And most importantly, after years of preparing her body for pregnancy, she’s expecting! Thanks for taking the time to talk to A Sweet Life, Kerri. We wish you an easy pregnancy and good health to you and your baby.
How has your care changed since you found out you’re pregnant?
Honestly, my health care changed in pursuit of pregnancy, over six years ago. I decided to make the move from multiple daily insulin injections to using an insulin pump in hopes of gaining better control of my diabetes. And that was before I even met my now-husband, so it goes to show you how important having a baby has always been to me. But since Chris and I decided to try for a baby, I’ve been basically stalking my blood sugars: testing my blood sugar about every hour, wearing a continuous glucose monitoring device, logging my numbers and food intake, and visiting my diabetes care team every two weeks. I have worked very hard to get to this point, and I’m going to keep working hard in hopes of a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby, and a healthy me.
Does the pump make you feel self-conscious, say when you are dressed up? Does it inhibit you?
Honestly? Yes. I work hard to stay in shape and to dress nicely, and it’s frustrating to have a great outfit picked out only to say, “Oh shoot – where the heck am I going to stash the pump?” But I’ve been pumping for over six years, so I’ve learned to get really creative when it comes to navigating the wilds of fashion. Give me a little fabric and a roll of duct tape and I’ll MacGyver my way out of any tricky fashion situation.
Do you need to take the pump off in intimate moments?
I do disconnect my insulin pump during intimate moments. Truth is, sex is exercise, and exercise makes my blood sugar drop. So disconnecting for the duration is the best way for me to avoid a low blood sugar while engaged in intimacy. Wearing the continuous glucose monitor also helps, because it beeps whenever my blood sugar levels drop too low or rise too high, so that device is an excellent safety net. Believe me, nothing kills the moment more than needing to leave the bedroom for a glass of orange juice. While naked. Bit of a mood killer. ;)
What is the most significant change you’ve noticed in how diabetics are treated in this country since you were diagnosed as a child?
When I was diagnosed, I was in second grade, so I grew up in the comfortable bubble of having my parents explain things to people. I had type 1 diabetes and it was clear that my diagnosis wasn’t a result of a poor diet, a lack of exercise, or any other environmental triggers. However, now that I’m 30, I’m beginning to see the misconceptions that our society harbors about diabetes, in general. “Oh, did you have weight loss surgery?” someone might ask, unable to believe that my diabetes isn’t related to my weight. “Oh, you’re on a pump because you have diabetes really bad,” they say, unaware that there is more than one type of diabetes and multiple treatment methods. I didn’t realize it when I was cloaked in safety of my childhood, but diabetes is truly an invisible disease, and without advocates willing to help raise awareness, it willremain invisible. While I would rather not have type 1 diabetes, if I have to have it, I’m going to hold my head high. I’m proud to be part of the diabetes community.