Off the Dial

Letter To My Younger Self

If you could write a letter to yourself at age 10 or 18 or 27, what would you say?

I was recently asked that question by Ellyn Spragins, the author of “If I’d Known Then” and other books that use that idea to share valuable information and advice. Ellyn came to Charlotte to speak at at the Jewish Federation of Charlotte and they asked me to sit on a panel of local women. All of us would write a letter to our younger selves.

I wasn’t sure at first what (or when) to write about. I’ve made some dumb choices, but I can’t say I have many regrets. Well, I do feel bad about not inviting some co-workers to my wedding. I was told that if I didn’t invite the whole office, I shouldn’t invite anyone. That’s just dumb (sorry Chris & Jeff!).

No too surprisingly, we decided to write about diabetes. Ellyn thought the day of Benny’s diagnosis was a time when knowing what would come next, a glimpse into the future, would have been welcome. She’s right. There’s not much I could have changed, but this letter (below) would’ve given me comfort and confidence.

Ellyn & Charlotte Panelists (1)

Panelists Emily Zimmern, Rabbi Judy Schindler, Ellyn Spragins, & me


Dear Stacey,

You are so indescribably upset. What the hell is wrong with Benny? In a moment the nurse is finally going to tell you: He has Type 1 diabetes.

As much as you’ve been desperate to hear an answer, knowing it will not bring you much comfort. In fact, it will do the opposite. You will have to learn how to push a needle into Benny’s pristine baby skin and watch his face crumple in pain and confusion about why his Mommy is hurting him. And Stacey, you’re going to have to do it five times a day.

The first month at home will be brutal. You’ll weep and sweat while trying to hold your crying child down in order to stick him. Every time he eats. Occasionally you’re going to have to do this in the middle of the night, when he’s sleeping peacefully, and follow up with an insulin shot.

There’s nothing I can say to take this heartbreak away from you and Benny. But I can tell you a couple of things that are essential you understand sooner rather than later. First, Benny’s diabetes isn’t going to get better and it isn’t going to go away. You take care of this—or it’s going to take care of you in a bad way. Which means, hard as it is to believe, it’s correct and essential that you “hurt” your child with this poking and these injections. In two weeks, neither of you will be the least bit bothered. I know—it doesn’t seem possible.

And second, in time it will be critical to understand that this isn’t your diabetes. It belongs to Benny. You have to give your children the tools to take care of themselves so that they can leave you. All parents should learn this, but you and Slade will do well by Benny if you learn it early.

Finally, take heart Stacey. This will not hold him back. He will do everything you hope for him. Imagine: when he is eight he will go to a sleep away camp—not a diabetes camp—for two weeks. Know that you will be so proud of him and of your family.

With compassion,


You can learn more about Ellyn Spragins and this project at her website (click here)

Bad (Miss) Manners

How rude!

The Washington Post recently ran a column from Miss Manners where she recommended people with diabetes only check their blood sugar out of sight.  Specifically, she advised we go into an airplane bathroom to check, rather than possibly disturbing those around us. This is wrong for many, many reasons.

When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just before he turned two, we decided we wouldn’t hide anything about his care. Before he started on his insulin pump he was taking 6-8 shots every day and we checked his blood sugar by pricking his finger even more frequently. I did all this on the playground, in other people’s homes, in movie theaters. I tried to be discreet (not really possible with anything involving a toddler!) but I never felt that I had to hide in a bathroom. Diabetes and its management isn’t something to be ashamed of.

Bathroom airplanes are pretty gross – and pretty small.  I’m also fairly certain Miss Manners didn’t consider how much time one spends on a plane without being allowed to actually get up and walk to the restroom.  I never thought about this before having children.  You may not get out of your seat while waiting to take off (no matter if the plane is number 1 or number 25 in line), during some of the flight (just after takeoff, turbulence or anytime the drink cart blocks the aisle) and 20 minutes before you land.  If I suspect my child’s blood sugar is low during those times, Miss Manners would rather I let him crash than to subject those around me to the horror that is a discreet blood sugar check.

I know the sight of blood makes some people uncomfortable.  But modern diabetes testing equipment draws less than a drop. You never see a needle, although you may hear a click. Good manners are all about consideration of others, so if you see me or my child pull out our diabetes kit, please consider this: testing keeps my kid healthy. Testing saves lives. Miss Manners is a moron.


“We know him!!”

We had just turned on the Olympics last night when this segment on skiier and type 1 diabtetic Kris Freeman came up:

Of course, we don’t really know Kris, but we’ve met him at a few diabetes events. He’s signed cards for my kids and chatted with us about everything from motivation to keeping insulin pump parts warm on the slopes.  Last summer he talked with me at the Children with Diabetes, Friends for Life conference:

I don’t know what Kris Freeman’s chances of medalling in this Olympics are. Insert cliche here about how he’s already an inspiration, right? But he is.  He is a real and true hero to our kids and to so many people touched by diabetes.

Oh, Kris also tweeted out a picture of himself with fellow skier Kikkan Randall. I’ve never seen anyone with an Omnipod on his chest (although Benny wears his Dexcom in the same place, on his side). That’s all I noticed about this picture. Just passing it along for.. um.. science.



 Thanks to Scott from ArdensDay for uploading the Olympic Zone story. It was surprisingly hard to find. C’mon NBC!!


Spare A Rose

I’ve never been big on flowers for Valentine’s Day. I much prefer chocolate. Maybe it’s the timing? Valentine’s Day comes right about the time I’m ready to give up on my New Year’s diet. This year, I’ve got something even better for all of us to consider.

Please check out the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign going on right now. This is a way to get life-saving diabetes supplies and education to children in developing countries.

We complain about the cost of health care in this country and I’m never thrilled to spend hours with my insurance company arguing chatting about Benny’s diabetes supplies. I’m grateful, though, that my child has access to insulin and whatever else we decide he needs to live with diabetes. Other children around the world are not so lucky. For many of them, diabetes can be a death sentence

You can help. Think about buying one less rose this Valentine’s Day. Just one. Your sweetie can still receive a beautiful bouquet and you can put the price of that rose (let’s say $5) to save a child’s life. Click here to learn more ( The campaign continues through February 14th.