Off the Dial


Bionic update (with Tom Brobson)

This week, I went to a JDRF function as a volunteer and as a reporter. I brought my camera along to interview John Brady, the International JDRF Board President. That interview will air on Time Warner Cable News Charlotte soon. I was also thrilled to see Tom Brobson at the function. We’ve only met a few times, but it was like seeing an old friend.

Tom is one of the very first people to test the bionic or artificial pancreas. He’s seen it go from its days of testing in the hospital, to real- life experience, with doctors along for supervision, to more free-range testing. I was excited to get an update on how he thought it was all progressing.

You’ll hear that I start the interview referring to how Tom almost “ripped off his shirt” the last time I interviewed him. While I would love to report guys do that around me all the time, it was because I had misunderstood how a CGM sat on the skin. At that time, I hadn’t seen the Dexcom up close and I thought it had tubing, like our Animas Ping insulin pump. Tom loves to educate people, so he graciously showed me the gear.

Click play (below) to hear our conversation:

2014-10-07 18.19.162

(Hmm.. having a bit of a glitch on some browsers right now. If you can’t see the “play” button above, please click here to listen to the interview on SoundCloud)



Happy New Year

As with most holidays, Rosh Hashanah means some very sweet food.

But we’ve got it covered – after all, it’s 5775!

Apples = 15 carbs each

Honey = 17 carbs per Tbsp

Have a sweet and happy New Year!!

(Where were these videos when we were kids?!)




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.



Dear Parents…

Every year I go into Benny’s class and talk about diabetes. My little presentation has changed a lot since preschool, and so have the questions. This year, Benny wanted to explain most of it himself and we changed an insulin cartridge so the class could see some of how the pump works.

I always send home a letter to parents that same day (the teacher usually emails it for me). I change it a little every year. So far, the only feedback I’ve heard has been positive and most parents have been very supportive. If you’re considering doing something like this, I thought it might be helpful to see mine. Happy back to school!

Dear Parents,

Our son Benny is in Mrs. ___’s class with your child.  Benny has type 1 diabetes and today I visited the class to talk to the children and give them a better understanding of what that means. The basic emphasis was on the fact that Benny is a regular 3rd grader whose body needs help in using food for energy.

Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile diabetes) is caused when the body loses its ability to make insulin. This is different from type 2 (formerly called adult onset) in which the body still produces insulin but does not use it effectively.

People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin throughout the day to break down the sugar from the food they eat.  That sugar – called glucose – feeds each cell and gives us energy to move and think.

Benny gets his insulin from a pump he wears 24/7. He keeps it in a belt-pack around his waist.  Sometimes the pump is automatic and sometimes Benny will press buttons on the pump or a remote control to give him more insulin. Benny also checks his blood sugar by pricking his finger and testing a drop of blood 8-10 times a day.

Low blood sugar levels are an immediate concern. Exercise, lack of food, or too much insulin will cause blood sugar levels to drop. High blood sugar levels must be avoided in order to reduce the risk of serious health complications.  It’s a daily, even hourly, balancing act.

We are grateful to have been able to share information that will make Benny and the other students feel more comfortable at school. It has been our experience that Benny’s friends are as matter of fact and accepting of his condition as Benny is.

Please note: Benny can eat just about anything, even sweets and treats! We do need to know the carbohydrate count for the item.  If you plan to bring in birthday cupcakes or other snacks, please shoot me an email ahead of time.  Most items have nutritional labels, but many don’t. We’ve been doing this for almost 7 years and can estimate just about anything by now (example, Harris Teeter Oreo cupcakes = 35 carbs, cookie cake = 40 carbs per slice, etc). We try to stay away from sugar-free or “diabetic” desserts; they sound good but they usually have just as many carbs and lots of chemicals.

Feel  free to call or email with any questions you may have.



What your child learned today about type 1 diabetes:

A person cannot get type 1 diabetes by eating too much sugar or junk food.

We can’t catch diabetes

Everyone without diabetes has insulin in our bodies. It helps the food we eat give us energy.

People with type 1 diabetes don’t have any insulin in their bodies.

Benny gets his insulin through a small pump he wears every day.

Sometimes Benny puts a tiny drop of blood from his finger into a meter. This meter tells if Benny’s blood sugar level is low, high, or in range. This is called a blood sugar check. Benny does this about ten times each day.

Benny’s meter is also a remote control that works with his insulin pump.

Sometimes, especially after exercising, Benny’s blood sugar level may be too low. He may need to have an extra snack or juice to help him have more energy.

If Benny’s blood sugar is low or high, he may not feel well.

Benny can eat any kind of food, but we must keep track of what it is and how much he is eating, to make sure that he has enough insulin.

Occasionally, Benny may need to drink lots of water. He drinks lots of water when his blood sugar level is too high.

Benny wears a special bracelet that tells people he has diabetes.

Kids with diabetes like to play sports, hang out with their friends and have fun!