A Family Diagnosis

A couple of weeks ago, I received a text that I never thought I would have received. My sister in law texted me, “her blood sugar is over 400, we are taking her to the ER now.” My initial response was….”wait, what??!!!??”

My 6 year old niece (who we will call S), who did not have diabetes, was being taken to the ER after going to the doctor and her blood sugar was tested at over 400.

My heart just absolutely sank. I didn’t even know what to think at first because I definitely was not expecting anything like this to happen.

As I was texting my sister in law back to try and figure out what the hell was going on, my brother called me and I could tell the hurt, fear, and sadness in his voice. After telling me that S was going to the hospital, his very first question was, “what does this mean? Does this mean she can be normal and still live a normal life and do things normal kids do?”

I am sure this is a very common question amongst parents of newly diagnosed, but as someone who blogs about living a normal life with diabetes, my answer was obviously…. absolutely she can! She can continue to do girl scouts and dance and whatever else she wants to do.

FOT9D51The first day or two was filled with questions and phone calls from my brother and sister in law wondering about what her life is going to be like from here on out. Being someone with diabetes, I realized, it is a lot easier to talk to someone else who has diabetes as opposed to trying to talk to a parent of a newly diagnosed child.

To add to this, she was diagnosed on a Friday and her birthday was the following Tuesday and her birthday party was that upcoming Sunday. Unfortunately, her birthday party had to be cancelled and she missed out on Trick or Treating, so try explaining that to a child as well.

After I was able to collect my thoughts as an uncle, my advocate side of me jumped right in. I wanted to make sure that they have the best information possible from the best people, so I just started texting my brother Facebook groups, blog URL’s, books, people’s phone numbers, etc. I just wanted them to feel as safe and comforting as possible.

And obviously there were plenty of people that stepped up right away and provided information about how to handle their feelings, how to create a 504 plan, how to handle 3 a.m. blood sugar checks, how to parent a child with type 1 diabetes, etc.imagejpeg_0

So, let’s jump forward almost a month to now.

My niece is doing freaking awesome! She went from being absolutely petrified of her shots (she asked mommy why she was hurting her with the needle) and she is now testing her own blood sugar and giving herself shots by herself (with a little help from mommy and daddy). But to hear about this turnaround is amazing to me, especially in such a short amount of time.

My niece’s favorite color has been blue for as long as I can remember, so when I told my sister in law that Blue is the diabetes color, S was elated. I then told her about Blue Friday’s and how it’s important to wear blue and spread awareness for diabetes on Friday’s. After that, S wanted blue shoes, blue shirts, blue hats, blue everything.

In fact, on World Diabetes Day, which just so happened to be her re-scheduled birthday party that she missed when she was in the hospital, my brother, sister in law, 2 nieces and nephew all wore blue to the birthday party. The two girls also decided to use the Novo Nordisk #LaceUp4Diabetes shoelaces as hair ties to rock even more blue.

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Is it just a coincidence too that her favorite animal was already a Unicorn? And now she loves Unicorns even more just like everyone else in the diabetes community.imagejpeg_0-4 copy

As I try to explain to my brother that yes, a diagnosis sucks, but in today’s world and the technology that we have and the community of support that is provided within the Diabetes Community, if there had to be a chronic disease that she was diagnosed with, at least it was diabetes. I know that may not sound good, but it could have always been worse.

Now, they are already gearing up for a Dexcom training and are already exploring the different options for insulin pumps. My brother and sister in law are lurking now in all the Facebook groups and Children with Diabetes forums and my sister in law even created a Twitter account because they want to learn and want to participate.

I want to thank everyone that gave a helping hand when I reached out for help. Some of you may not even know that you helped, but either a book or post that you wrote did. Please know that I am forever grateful for what you did in a time when my family needed you most.

Moving forward, my niece LOVES arts and crafts, so I have already shared some ideas of things that they can do that gives a positive outlook on her diabetes and doesn’t make her hate the disease and hate having to do what she needs to do in order to manage it.

FOT640I would love if you could please comment below or on Facebook different activities (using insulin vials as Christmas lights, Diabetes Art Day, etc.) that my sister in law can do with her that would be awesome. Also, any resources that you may have, for example, Children with Diabetes forums, Kids First Diabetes Second book, etc. please list them all below in the comments. My sister in law and brother will be reading this, so I hope to share with them plenty of additional information that I haven’t been able to share.

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What I Learned from World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day was a very long and tiresome day for me this year. I normally don’t really do anything to celebrate the day, I used to use it as a vacation day from everything I do with diabetes. Last year I participated actively for about 6-7 hours of the World Diabetes Day Chat, but this year, my goal was to break the record, in fact I wanted to actively participate in the entire event.

And I did.

Throughout the 13,14, 15 hours ( I don’t even know how long it was), I attempted to answer every question asked by every moderator. There were a couple of reasons why I did this. First, because I wanted to motivate someone to do something. I was hoping just one person would say to themselves, “if he’s been tweeting all day, I can find 5 minutes to send an email to my local reps.” Secondly, I wanted to show people that we all have time. I know we all live busy lives, but if you audit your day, you can find some time to do more advocacy related things that you feel like you don’t have the time to do. And lastly, I wanted to get a better understanding and feeling for how the DOC felt towards all of the topics that were being discussed.

So, what did I learn during this all day chat? A lot.

I learned that the DOC comes together like a boss. I learned that even when there were disagreements about certain things, there was still a common goal in the end, just maybe the paths were a little different. I learned that there are a lot of people that want to help and do more, but just don’t know they can do. I also learned that when we come together as a community like we did on Saturday, our voices are heard a hell of a lot louder than when we are just individuals shouting.

I learned how I can advocate better and how I can do things differently to better manage my own diabetes. I also learned that it’s very easy for your words to be taken out of context in just one tweet (well, I guess I already knew that).

What did you learn from the World Diabetes Day Chat? Comment below.

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Favorite Diabetes Books

My List of Favorite Diabetes Books

A recent diagnosis that was brought to my attention led me to recommending books about diabetes, so I decided to make a list of my favorite diabetes books that I’ve read over the years. If yours did not make the list, don’t get upset, I either have not had a chance to read it, or it just slipped my mind because there have been a lot sent my way over the years.

So, here we go, and in no particular order:

  1. Balancing Diabetes: Conversations About Finding Happiness and Living Well by Kerri Sparling
  2. Dealing with Diabetes Burnout: How to Recharge and Get Back on Track When You Feel Frustrated and Overwhelmed Living with Diabetes by Ginger Vieira
  3. Think Like a Pancreas: A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes with Insulin by Gary Scheiner
  4. Kids First Diabetes Second: Tips for Parenting a Child with Type 1 Diabetes by Leighann Calentine
  5. Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad by Scott Benner (this one is not strictly about diabetes)
  6. Diabetes Do’s & How To’s by Riva Greenberg
  7. The Book of Better: Life with Diabetes Can’t be Perfect. Make it Better by Chuck Eichten
  8. Sugar Linings: Finding the Bright Side of Type 1 Diabetes by Sierra Sandison (I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my list)
  9. Thriving with Diabetes by David Edelman and Paul Rosman (I haven’t read this yet, but is next up on the list)

If you have any additional books to add, please do in the comments.

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How Gary Vaynerchuk (who?) Can Help Your Diabetes Advocacy Mindset

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been using my Twitter account to share more than just some diabetes stuff. The reason is because I had a Twitter account that I used for business related stuff (@chris_stocker), but I didn’t really share that much on there because I spent all of my time on my diabetes Twitter handle. I decided that I am going to begin to merge the two together because we always say that diabetes doesn’t define who I am as a person, so why do I have my business stuff and diabetes stuff separated?

If you did notice this change in my posting, then you may know that I am a big follower and fan of Gary Vaynerchuk. This guy totally changed my life back around 2009 when I first started blogging. Some may think of him as a motivational speaker, which he can motivate the hell out of you, but that’s not all that he is.

A lot of his talking points are based around business, but more importantly, can be put towards anything that you have a passion for. For example, diabetes advocacy.

I am very passionate about diabetes. I think that we all are. In fact, if you are taking the time to read this post right now, you probably have a bit of a passion for it.

What I wanted to do here is share a few videos of Gary’s and how they can relate to diabetes advocacy and how they can help you.

Monday Morning Motivational Video

I watch this video every single morning. It’s the first thing I do every morning, because I take this mentality for every day of the week, not just Monday’s


One is Greater than Zero

The concept of this video is very simple, one is greater than zero. You can take this anyway that you want, but in the diabetes advocacy world, this is how I take it. Emailing or tweeting to just one elected official is better than zero. Creating a relationship with just one of them is a lot better than just doing nothing at all.


This last video is 15 minutes long, but it pretty much sums it all up. One thing that a lot of people use as an excuse for not being active or involved is because of time. To quote Gary, “we all have time, stop watching fucking Lost.” Now, you can change Lost to any other Netflix show that you are marathoning this weekend. But using the excuse, “I don’t have time to take action on these ideas that other people are doing. I have kids, I have a family, a job…” blah blah blah. When listening to him speak about monetizing, you can consider monetizing, responses from your advocacy.


I hope that just watching one of these videos helps you get over that hump that you may be at and take action.

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How I Became an Empowered Patient

Before I get into the how I became an empowered patient, I want to briefly talk about why I became one. First, what is an empowered patient? This question was brought up during the #ChatActChange #DSMA last Wednesday. To me, an empowered patient is someone who takes an active role in managing their illness, disease, disorder, etc. For me, that is taking an active role in managing my diabetes, not just from the “I test my blood sugar 6 times  a day” perspective, but from a more in depth one.

For example, I decided one day that just simply listening to what my endo and educator was telling me was not enough. I wanted to go and read more about these studies that they were talking about so we could have an actual conversation during our visits and it not just be a one way instructional visit. I wanted to not just do what I was being told to do, but I wanted to know why I was being told this and I also wanted to know if this really was the best thing for me to be doing.

Once I knew that I wanted to be a bit more involved, it was easy from there. I started to read more and consume more. I started to read about more of the science behind diabetes. I began to read as much from the ADA Scientific Sessions free posters that I could. I admit, 90% didn’t make sense, but I took notes and wrote things down and knew that I would go back later and start researching more of those words.

I began to learn more about different products and medications.

The very first time that I went into a visit with my CDE and I said, “hey, I read an ADA Scientific Sessions poster on the effects of wheat and gut bacteria….blah blah blah” I could see the look in her eyes like, wow this guy knows his shit. From that day forward, I had a lot more respect from my CDE as a patient and had a lot more involvement in my management.

Now, my visits start off with a conversation. My CDE asking me to evaluate myself and recommend my own changes and then she chimes in with her input and we come to a mutual decision on the next plan of action.

Having that feeling of knowing that I have the respect from my doctor has completely changed the way that I view my healthcare team. And I think it would for you also.

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Do You When it Comes to Advocacy

It is Diabetes Awareness month this month, so you will be seeing an overflow of diabetes information. You will also see bickering amongst people with diabetes because not  everyone believes in the same advocacy efforts. And you know what? That is fine.

When it comes to awareness and advocacy, do you.

If you have a certain passion about something and that’s what you want to advocate about, great, do it. Don’t just jump on the advocacy bandwagon because you are afraid people will look at you weird because you’re not jumping on board with them.

If you choose not to do anything in the month of November, that is perfectly awesome too. However, don’t try and bash people that are.

We need to support each other’s efforts in advocacy. You may not necessarily agree with someone, but who is to say who is right in regards to that particular topic. If you choose not to help them with their advocacy efforts, that is perfectly fine, just please stop bashing each other’s efforts.


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5 Ways to take action for diabetes change today

You Chatted, Now It’s Time To Act – 5 Things to Do Today to Take Action

I have been participating in DSMA chats on and off for the 5 years that it has been around. I do not participate as much as I would like to, but I definitely try to jump in when I can. Last night’s was one of the best that I can remember being a part of. It was being promoted well through PR campaigns as well because there were some special sponsors of the chat last night.

The theme of the chat was #ChatActChange

I broke that down as, we chat during DSMA, we act the next day (and every day after that) and then we will see change. But, we will only see change if we communicate and act on those communications. Change will not just happen by itself.

One of the questions last night was geared towards how someone can get started if they don’t know where to begin or what can they do to get started advocating for change. Well, I want to see as much action as possible, so I figured I would outline 5 quick easy ways that you can act today!

Contact Your Local JDRF and American Diabetes Association

Head on over to your local JDRF or American Diabetes Association’s website and just send them a quick email. Explain to them that you are interested in working with them on a specific cause. Maybe you can simply volunteer at a local walk and be able to communicate and meet people in your community and from there you can build a peer to peer support system. Your local chapters may be involved in something locally that sparks your interest, but reach out and introduce yourself and let them know that you are a helping hand.

Contact Your Local Politicians / DiabetesPAC.org

These two are very similar so I decided to combine them together (but it’s still 5 total right?) If you are anything like me than contacting your local politicians can seem intimidating and trying to even figure out who these people are and how I contact them can be nearly impossible. Except for the fact that DiabetesPAC.org exists.

While there you can view some of the top issues such as safety, quality and access. You can also make just a few clicks to actual actions.

What I think is the coolest thing on the entire site is the Diabetes Scorecard. This basically outlines for you where your elected officials stand on important Diabetes related issues. From there, you can send them a message to say thank you for supporting a specific cause or send them a note as to why they should be supporting something.

First, find out who your officials are. Go to http://diabetespac.org/whydpac and in the lower right hand corner simply input your zip code. All of your elected officials will pop right up for you. It is my recommendation to keep that site open so you can easily reference it. Open up a new tab or new browser window and head on over to http://diabetespac.org/dpac/scorecard

From there you can search for your elected official and find out if they have supported any of the Bills listed. Now that you know who you want to contact and about what, you can use this page to search for their social media accounts – http://govsm.com/w/House

Connect with Locals on Twitter

Connecting with people on Twitter can be easy because you can just easily jump into conversations and also build relationships. I’ve connected with a lot of people on Twitter who I never met, but consider them some of my closest friends.

Here is how you can find people locally (there are several other tools to use, but let’s keep it simple with Twitter):

  1. Go to the Advanced Twitter Search tool
  2. In the All of These Words area type “diabetes” (or any other word you want to use)
  3. Under Places, if your area is not currently selected, then make the appropriate changes
  4. You can scroll through these tweets and look for people that may be tweeting about items that grab your attention

Just Simply Ask “How Can I Help?”

This is a very simple way to get started. If you have a Twitter account (and if you don’t sign up for one right now) simply log into your account. Think about what you are passionate about when it comes to diabetes. This can be anything, CGM and Medicare, Insurance issues, Work place issues, diabetes and schools, etc. Now type the following in Twitter “I am passionate about XYZ and diabetes. How can I help? #dsma”

That hashtag is followed by thousands of people, someone will either have an answer for you on how you can help or they will connect you with someone who can.

If you don’t want to go to Twitter, here’s a really simple, quick way. In the comment section below, tell me your passion and I will help connect you myself with someone within the diabetes community.

That’s it. Just by doing at least one of these items today, you are already taking action. If you want to spread these out over the next week and just do one a day, that is perfectly fine with me.

I just ask that you do something. I am going to hold myself more accountable and take more actions where I can.

Happy Take Action  Day!

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Open Enrollment Season 2016

Open Enrollment Season

Yesterday that good ole’ packet about open enrollment came in the mail. For the past 3 years, my wife and I have not changed our plans and I don’t plan on doing so again this year, even with the new addition to the family. The only part about open enrollment season that worries me is, how are my expenses going to change in the next year.

In 2013, I used Apidra because it was $50 for a 90 day supply.

In 2014, I then switched to Novolog because Apidra went up to $150 for 90 day supply and Novolog dropped to $30 for a 90 day supply.

In 2015, I switched to Humalog because Apidra stayed at $150 for 90 days, Novolog went up to $150 for 90 days and Humalog dropped to a whopping $12.50 for 90 days worth of insulin.

So, 3 years, 3 different insulins all because the costs changed dramatically. I never know going into the next year what insulin I am going to be using.

The same goes for my test strips.

I have gone back and forth between One Touch and Contour strips for 3 years because of the large difference in costs. It would be nice to be able to choose which strips and insulin I want to use based on my personal preference and not on what my wallet can afford.

So, just for my own curiosity, I wanted to see how many others have had to change their insulin and/or test strips every year based on the difference of costs from year to year.

Have you had to change insulins from one year to another based on different copays?

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Have you had to change test strips from one year to another based on different copays?

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Why I Became a MiniMed Ambassador

A few months ago my application to become a MiniMed Ambassador was approved. This was very exciting for me, as it was something that I wanted to do for a while. I did not want to apply for the program until I felt that I had enough time to manage anything that would be asked of me from the program. For example, being able to respond to people who are looking for help.

The main reason that I wanted to become a MiniMed Ambassador was simple. It was because when I first was given the choice to go onto a pump, I was excited, but I had so many questions. At that time, almost 10 years ago, the only person that I could ask questions to was my CDE, who was also my certified pump trainer. My questions ranged from, can I swim with it? Can I shower with it? Is it surgically implanted inside me? (Yes, that was one of my questions because I initially thought that’s what the pump was. An infusion site sounded like a medical procedure to me!)

Throughout my 7 years of writing this blog (wow, time flies), I have had so many questions asked to me about going on an insulin pump. It’s probably the questions I get asked the most. So, I knew that as a MiniMed Ambassador, I could help people answer those questions.

I am proud to call myself an Ambassador along with all of the other great people.

You can check out my profile, as well as everyone else’s.

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A Little Trip to the ER

You may have seen on Twitter yesterday that I was debating whether or not to go to the ER because I had a bit of pain in the lower right abdomen area. So, obviously my very first thought is appendix. I don’t know why, but since I was younger, I have had this fear of my appendix bursting. I think it is because anytime that I have ever heard someone talk about it, they describe the most excruciating pain in the world. So, whenever I feel pain in that area, it is my first thought.

Yesterday morning I woke up and had a slight pain in that area, but didn’t think anything of it at first. About 6 years ago, I had this same pain and went to the ER because of my fear. It ended up being a strained abdominal muscle and that’s it, I was sent right home. So, this is exactly what I was thinking was the issue again, except 6 years ago, I was working out a lot and it made sense. These days, not working out so much.

Between my mother, wife, other family members and friends all telling me to just go get it checked, I decided to be safe than sorry. Especially as someone with type 1 diabetes, I’ve had the mentality that if I feel like anything is wrong with me at all, I need to go let a professional determine if it’s an issue or if it is nothing at all.

I decided that I would go to an urgent care facility first because I read on their site that they had in-house imaging services, so I figured I could just pay a small co-pay and still get an CT scan there if needed. Well, unfortunately, they stop doing those at 4 p.m. and it was already 6 p.m. So, after wasting a $75 co-pay, the doctor basically told me the only way to know is by getting a CT scan and only the ER can do that for me at this time. So, after 45 seconds with the doctor and $75 later, I was on my way to the ER.

There was not much of a wait at the ER because I guess abdominal pain is one of those cases they bring you back pretty quickly. After the nurse initially checked me out, she kind of felt that it was not my appendix, but still wanted the blood work and the CT scan to see if there was anything else going on in there.

After about 2.5 hours altogether at the ER, blood work, CT scan, the nurse came in and told me that my white blood cell count was perfect, the CT scan came back with nothing wrong and that I was good to go. She said that it could be that I tweaked that area or their could be some sort of intestinal issue going on that the CT scan can’t determine. However, appendix, kidney stones and gull bladder issues were all ruled out.

So, that now makes two trips to the ER thinking my appendix is bursting and both times I was sent home with the nurses pretty much laughing at me. But, at the end of the day, I would rather pay to know for a fact that nothing is wrong.

One last thing about the ER trip. Apparently, there was Blue Light special at the ER last night because when the administration person came in, she mentioned that there was a 20% off co-pays for today. So, I guess I came to the ER on the right night!

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