Off the Dial

Not alone

Had a great time at Give Back With Zach earlier this month. It's a big party for the first Panthers away game and helps raise money for childhood cancer. There's a wonderful story here, but it's really better told by my coworker Keith Larson.  

This event always looks like a good time, but we've never been able to make it before this year. On our way in, Benny asked, "Do you think I'm the only one with diabetes here?"  That's not something he usually brings up.  "No way," I said. "First of all, there are plenty of people here with type 2. Maybe we'll find someone with type 1, who knows?"

The party was terrific. Meeting the Top Cat cheerleaders, dancing with mascot Sir Purr, and dozens of people having fun supporting a great cause. Former Panthers Kevin Donnalley (below) & Jeff Mitchell signed Benny's helmet and posed for pictures with their NFC Championship rings.

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All the food was buffet style and Benny was awesome as usual, helping himself but checking with me for carb counts. Lea loved the mini brownies and I know she snuck a few extra (I did too)! She wasn't too impressed with the football stuff; she spent much of the party like this:

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About half an hour into our time there, I saw them. A mom and a teenager, coming over to talk with us. Guess why? Sure enough – he was diagnosed at age 7.  We chatted for a bit – the older boy doesn't have a pump which shocked Benny. He showed off his Animas 2020 (the boy may have a future in sales!). 

A few minutes later I saw some listeners I know from our Hometown Heroes program a few years back. They told me about a friend of theirs with an 18-month old just diagnosed with type 1.

As I've said before, I really enjoy connecting with other people over diabetes, but I hate hearing about new cases.  At 7, Benny doesn't yet think that way, he just loves finding people he can relate to. 

As we were leaving, I reminded him about his question on the way in. I think this is one of the few times he's been happy to hear me say, "I told you so!"

Welcome To The Club

I gave my annual diabetes talk to Benny's class this week. I always have fun with that and he enjoys being the center of attention that day. This year, Benny wore his JDRF Walk shirt to class, but kept it hidden under a sweatshirt until it was time for our talk. Then he dramatically unzipped – Diabetics Assemble! – and we explained what Benny's Brigade is all about.

On our way home, I passed another mom in a minivan, a good friend. I waved and she signalled for me to roll down the window. "Did you get my message?" she asked. She'd left me a voice mail about a newly diagnosed girl in her daughter's 4th grade class.

So I'm leaving a diabetes talk and I get news of a new diagnosis.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I always am. I love connecting with other type 1 families, but I hate that we keep adding to our club.

A bit of good news that night - a great tweet from Chef Sam Talbot. He's the Top Chef contestant and author of The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Boundaries. Chef Sam was recently involved in an online charity contest and I was one of many who helped spread the word.

He wrote: @staceysimms Hey Stacey, thanks to you and your followers, we won the $10K for @JDRF ! Thanks again, hope you're well!

  

That made me feel a bit better. If this club has to keep growing, at least we have cool people in it!

Thanks to the folks at Mezzetta for their Make That Sandwich contest and generous donation.

 

Insulindependence in Charlotte

Guest post this week by someone I connected with as part of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) and then realized he lived here! A rare native Charlottean, Harry Thompson is starting a chapter of Insulindependence  in our fair city. What's that? Read on.. 

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When I sat down to write this post, I had planned to use a slightly modified version of a post I’d written for another friend’s diabetes blog. However, before I finished, I received an email from someone that had seen that original post. This person had been living with Type 1 diabetes for 7 years, but I was the first other diabetic that she had “spoken” with. That really made me realize…it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day management of diabetes that you sometimes end up trapped inside your own Truman Show-style diabetes bubble. Finding 3-dimensional people with diabetes can seem like hunting a white whale, but once you find them, they can be a wealth of information and support. It’s amazing how the awkwardness of meeting a complete stranger goes away when you share the common bond of a malfunctioning pancreas.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes shortly before my 12th birthday. I've always been an active person – I played baseball throughout high school, rowed competitively in college, and have been an avid runner, cyclist, and occasional triathlete in my adult life. Not surprisingly it has gotten harder to find time for exercise with a full-time job, work around the house, and chasing a toddler, but I still consider exercise to be one of the most important parts of my diabetes management.

I ran my first half-marathon in roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes. That's not really impressive from a competitive standpoint…there are people who have run full marathons in less time. The reason I mention the time is that the time I spent running a race one Saturday morning is longer than the combined time I've spent with my endocrinologist in the past two years. My doctors have always been supportive of my exercise goals, as they also know how beneficial exercise is to diabetes management. However, in the limited amount of time that we get to spend together during my checkups 3-4 times a year, it’s really not possible for them to tell me how to handle all of the surprises that may come up during training and competition. They can offer dosing advice, recommend reference books, and provide plenty of moral support, but 90% of exercising with diabetes is trial and error. Each person reacts differently to physical activity, so there’s no magical formula. The type of exercise is another variable…short, intense activity can raise blood sugar levels, while longer endurance activity can cause pretty steady drops in blood sugar (and as Stacey has described before, swimming pools have magical blood-sugar-stabilizing properties).

I knew there were other diabetic athletes out there that were going through the same struggles, but I had no idea how to connect with them. Thankfully, a friend that I’d met through the diabetes blogosphere introduced me to a group called Insulindependence.
InsulinindyI learned about the various clubs within the organization (specializing in triathlon, running, outdoor adventure, and ocean sports), as well as their monthly local chapter events, known as Dawn Phenoms. As I learned more, I became envious of other cities that had existing chapters, and thought how awesome it would be to have the opportunity to show up at one of those monthly events, meet other diabetics, and share stories of how they deal with the challenges of diabetes and exercise.

Unfortunately, I found out there was not a local chapter anywhere near Charlotte. That’s understandable, since Insulindependence is based out of San Diego, but that doesn’t mean that diabetics in the Carolinas don’t deserve the same benefits as our West Coast friends. This summer, I traveled to San Diego to meet and train with other volunteers who are running existing chapters or starting new ones in other cities. Starting in a few weeks, I’ll be running the monthly Dawn Phenom events for the new Charlotte chapter of Insulindependence.

Our first local event will be on Saturday, September 22nd at 9:00am, and will be a run/walk event at the Huntersville Business Park off I-77, exit 23. The group will meet in the parking lot of the Physician’s Plaza, attached to the back of the Presbyterian Hospital-Huntersville.

I’d like to emphasize that these events are free and open to all ability levels. Type 1s, 2s, and 3s (non-diabetic supporters) are all encouraged to attend. We will have snacks and plenty of time to socialize, in addition to getting in a Saturday morning workout.

If you or anyone you know would benefit from this group, I hope you’ll join us in getting the Charlotte chapter off the ground. If you have any questions or want to be added to our mailing list for event details and announcements, please email me at CLT.Insulindependence@gmail.com

Also, to join Insulindependence (again, free!) and begin earning points for free rewards, please visit Insulindependence.org and click “become a member” in the upper left corner.

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Harry and his wife Meredith live in Huntersville with their two-year-old daughter. You can follow Harry on Twitter @harrythompson.

DNC OMG

Like most people this week in Charlotte, I'm digging out from the avalanche that was the Democratic National Convention. 

You've heard all the big news from the convention this week. Some quick high spots from my perspective:

Kudos to the WBT shuttle drivers, staffers Katie, Gary & Eriel. My biggest broadcast concern was actually getting to the Arena. At 4am you don't want to make a wrong turn down a closed street. They got us where we needed to go. With A/C!

Dncshuttle

We had a great location inside Time Warner Cable Arena, just inside the 5th street entrance. First thing we did was flip our logo banner over a nearby railing. You can see it in the background of this David Letterman's clip (around 2:20 in) and thousands of people passed it as they came up the elevator. I expect a bonus from Marketing.

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That elevator is kind of unusual in that it's the only one on the 5th Street side of the Arena.  There's a guy who comes by around 5:45am to turn the key and change the direction. Up in the morning, down in the evening. I tried to talk to him ("You're the most important guy here this morning!"). He was not amused.

Geraldo turned out to be my favorite guest of the week. We were on what they call Radio Row - he was broadcasting right behind us.  He says hi to my mom (she listens to him in NY) so I got some kudos for that. By the way, bit of controversy about censorship on Radio Row.

DNCGeraldo2

I got some new listeners by taking a few cell phone pictures over at MSNBC's setup at the Epicentre.  These ladies were stalking NBC's Chuck Todd and they were watching when Tom Brokaw become ill on the set of Morning Joe (he's fine, story here).

Dncladies

A new Twitter hashtag, #CLTfaq, took off this week. Launched by @BriandFrancis, assistant to the Mecklenburg County Manager, it's crowd-sourced Q&A about the city and the DNC. Wondering if it stays actitve after the convention. It should.

People here joke that Charlotte is very buttoned up; our midday host calls it Tidy Town. So I'd love to have seen the reaction when protestors used a projector to flash slogans with dirty words (gasp!) on the sides of uptown buildings last night. Anybody get a picture?

Jon Stewart's been taping the Daily Show here. I like his quote about Charlotte, "“You’re the nicest people. It’s really kind of annoying.”

See y'all next time!