Tag Archives: dsma

My Ideal Diabetes Support Group

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This month’s DSMA Blog Carnival Topic is: “Describe your ideal diabetes “support group”? What would you discuss?”

Well, I’d be happy to tell you.  My ideal diabetes support group meets once a week.  That’s a tall order isn’t it?  But that’s what I would like.  Frequent “support”.  There would be plenty of members so that if half of the group can’t show, there is still a group to meet and carry on.

Also, I would like any type of diabetic because that way, we could all become friends and defend each other against the media’s war between the diabetics and spread our ideals all over the land, causing no more arguing between the types ever again!  Muahahaha!

Next, I’d like us to all exchange numbers and emails and facebook and twitter handles.  I’d like us all to know we can interact later on the DOC as much or as little as we’d like.

My ideal support group would discuss any and all issues brought up by the members of the group.  Why not?  If we are going to talk about something R rated, we can definitely decide to do so on a pre-established day so those who don’t want to discuss that topic don’t go or meet up at a coffee shop to talk other things.

I think it’s ok to get into groups by “type of diabetic” in order to get down to the technical nitty gritty aspects of living with type 1, 2, and so on.  It’s true that a type 1 doesn’t know what it’s like for a type 2 and a type 2 doesn’t know what it’s like for a type 1 so it makes sense if people want to divide up in order to discuss particular things.  Maybe people would want to divide up by age as well and that certainly makes sense.  I like the idea of meeting with everyone and then splitting up to talk about certain things like motherhood and diabetes or dating and diabetes and therefore specific groups forming for that.

Overall, we’d be a support group utopia!  How does that sound?

Today is Friday so we’re supposed to talk about something that involves self love.  Getting support is TOTALLY an important part of loving yourself.  If you are able to, check out a local support group!  If there isn’t one, consider starting one!  And if those aren’t options, join the diabetes online community!  Check out DSMA and all the support it offers.  Oh and read more entries like this one.

Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend!

I’ve Never Hid My Diabetes and Here is Why

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DSMA Blog Carnival topic for March:

“Does your employer/school/friends know you have diabetes? Why or why not?”

I have never interviewed for a job without disclosing my type 1 diabetes in the first few minutes of the interview.  I thought I’d make them think “Either she’s crazy or she isn’t afraid of what we’ll think about her”.  I’m a fan of bold moves during interviews-makes things more exciting for everyone.  I know it was a risk but out of about 10 job interviews in my life I’ve only once not gotten the job (in that case I totally bombed the interview).  And I’ve been lucky to have never been fired from a job.

I share this to say that I suspect confidence and demeanor probably do more to create an impression on your employer of reliability and ability than one’s having diabetes.  I might be wrong or I might have been lucky but that’s how it’s always been for me.  I imagine it helps to look relatively healthy and happy as well.  Smiling and assuring them that I take care of myself is something that worked for me (even if that wasn’t all true at the time).

People at school have always known of my diabetes because my mom was very adamant about meeting with all my teachers (even when I was in high school) and looking them in the eye and very seriously explaining what the diabetes thing was all about.  She’d insist that whatever I needed to do like test, eat, use the restroom, should not be questioned.  (Yay mom!)  This made it impossible for me to hide my diabetes even if I had wanted to.  Teachers would be very aware of me.  I’d get my little snacks out and they’d discretely ask me how I was doing.  Or they’d make a little note on my homework or test paper reminding me that if I didn’t feel well or needed something I shouldn’t hesitate to let them know.  It was comforting to have them know.  I believe that it’s possible I got more tutoring help from teachers because of having diabetes but that could just be a figment of my imagination.  If that’s true, then being open about having diabetes sent me extra help, understanding, and support my way.

And then because intense diabetes management has a hard time hiding anyway, I was open with everyone in general about it.  I wanted friends to know about my diabetes.  I happened to be friends with really sweet, caring kids who all had great parents.  That helped a lot.  I was never teased or made to feel bad about my diabetes by a peer.  But then again, I don’t recall ever teasing or bothering anyone about anything, ever (though I did punch a few boys who deserved it).  I think that helped, too.  And if someone did say hurtful things, I can’t remember anything about that right now.  Weird huh?

*Side Note: I completely understand someone’s unwillingness to share their diabetes with others readily.  If my life had gone a little differently with other experiences, had people not been as supportive, or had someone poked fun at me…well, I’m sure I’d done different.

To read other awesome submissions for this topic, click here.

DSMA February, Depression in the Winter

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DSMA asked us last month (I know, I’m late!): 

What can we do to help stop depression from hitting our community during the winter months?

Well, this is a good question indeed.

I think first we need to make sure we are getting sufficient Vitamin D.  Next time you get blood work done, have your doctor test your levels.  If they are not in optimum range, get a supplement (or sunlight if that’s possible where you live).  Do not take Vitamin D2.  Take Vitamin D3.  This is really important.  Don’t count on the Vitamin D in your soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk-it’s all D2 and this form does not raise your levels.  So be sure to get D3.  Have your levels checked again in a few months to make sure you’re not under or over supplementing.

Secondly, I find that if I am dealing with a little depression before or during the Holidays, by the time January rolls around, I kind of fall apart.  So I think being proactive is important.  Getting Vitamin D levels at optimal levels by September, exercising a little each day or at least each week through the Holiday season, and making plenty of time to slow down and rest.

For people with diabetes, we tend to go, go, go during December and eat the goodies we want, resulting in higher blood sugars.  Higher blood sugars for a few weeks predisposes us to depression because it really alters our moods.  If you feel sick for a few weeks, it’s naturally going to take a toll and this isn’t limited to your body as your mind also gets affected.  So I think that trying to sustain blood sugar management during this time of year is crucial.

By January, I am tired of working out when it’s cold and then I run into problems with my blood sugars.  I think that finding creative ways to work out indoors is also important because the reality is that I’m not the only one who doesn’t make it out due to the weather.

Being focused on gratitude and possibilities is helpful, too.  Keeping perspective.

Lastly, putting off feelings of depression often makes them worse.  Get help.  See a therapist or counselor, tackle the issues mostly fueling depression, and if needed take something to help you get out of the cycle of lowly feelings.

I’ve struggled with depression in the Winter since I can remember.  This year is the first year I’ve taken Vitamin D year round and I feel much better.  I’m also taking something for anxiety and depression and that has helped immensely as well.  If you’re struggling, tackle the problem and work on healthy lifestyle habits.  You can feel better.

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To read other entries, click here!

DSMA October Entry Post

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The question is: What types of decisions and frequency of diabetes related decisions do you make in any given day?

My initial reaction to this question is, “Ugh, where do I begin?”

You see…because my type 1 diabetes involves so many decisions each day, many of them are kind of innate.

I feel this is a good time to share something.  You may think I’m nuts or a liar or both (or maybe you do this, too!) but for example, I never consciously carb count.

Seriously.  I can’t remember the last time I “carb counted”.

Before you think I’m psycho…have you ever driven to work or someplace usual and realized as you parked, “I don’t remember driving here”.  In other words, you were not fully present in the act of driving some place because you do it all the time and just go through the motions.  Ever done that?

That’s what I do with carb counting.  When I realized this today, I checked out my meter.  This past week I’ve tested about 8 times a day, averaged 130 on my meter for the past week, and had 3 lows (62, 53, and 58).  So I’d say that my insulin has been approximately on target for what I eat.  This tells me that I’m aware enough to do a pretty decent carb count, just not aware enough to remember the steps.  It’s a dangerous place to be because that’s how I’ve also given 20 units of fast acting insulin instead of Lantus.  On um, two occasions in the past.  I’m on autopilot so much and in those instances I grabbed my insulin and just dialed the units, without giving much thought to how many units or which insulin I had. I’ve also tested, walked away from my meter and 20 minutes later said, “Omg, I don’t recall looking at my blood sugar result” and have had to check the memory on the meter for the last result.  Suffice to say I’m working on being more mindful when I test and give insulin and prepare to know how many carbs I’m going to have.

If you have diabetes you already know all of the decisions I make and how often I make them.  Because you make them, too.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to discuss a personal phenomenon of mine, one I’m trying to break.  After 17 years of looking at food and automatically scanning it for carbs, it’s a difficult change to make.  However, I’m pretty sure it’s a habit that needs to be adjusted.

Any of you do this?  Just look at a plate of food and subconsciously add up the carb count, translate that to insulin units, and give the insulin?  If you do and if it’s any consolation, it’s like we diabetics are a new breed of human.  Kind of magical, even.  Now if only I could clean the house without even being aware I’m doing it.  THAT would be magical.

Check out more DSMA October carnival posts here!

My Dream Improvement to Current Diabetes Technology

This needs a serious upgrade! Courtesy of Suat Eman

 

This month’s DSMA Blog Carnival prompt is as follows:

Over the years diabetes technology has come a very long way from the days when syringes were boiled and sharpened, and sugar was checked using droplets of urine and fizzy tablets in test tubes. Today we can choose from an array of blood sugar meters, insulin pumps, carb counting apps, data uploading programs – technology is woven into our diabetes lives. But although technology has come a long way there is always room for improvement, right? So this month give us your complaints, your ideas and your technological wishes and tell us:

What improvements or adjustments would you make to current [diabetes] technology?

My weakness is dealing with technology.  I love what it does for me but hate how it complicates things for me.  I’m more into words and ideas than I am stuff so as nifty as technology is, I get lost in it.  I can’t even work a dvd player without hard concentration.  It’s not that I’m dumb, it’s that I don’t have motivation to learn these things.  Someone nearby always knows for me anyway :)

Therefore this is what I would like:

I would like a nifty little watch that looks like this and tells me what my glucose is at all times including up and down arrows to show trending, like the CGM does.  I would like it to be 99.9% accurate, 99.9% of the time.  It would also, of course, show me the time.

This one thing would take away the need for a meter and the CGM.  I wouldn’t have to spend money on those darn test strips, the only expense would be the watch and batteries.  I would love a device that functioned like the CGM receiver to come with this watch so that parents or other caretakers can receive alarm notices and all data.  The watch can be connected to the computer to upload the blood sugar information so people don’t have to log numbers. 

I also want this gadget to help pump me up through the day.  If I’m low I want it to send my cell phone a text that says, “Get out your glucose tabs!  Everything is going to be ok”.  When I’m high I want a text saying, “oops, lol”  or “you’ll get it next time” or “take a deep breathe”.  When my blood sugar is on target without any up or down arrows I want a text that says “Yes!  Keep up the great work!”  If I’m on target and trending upward I want a text that says “Whoa, what’s going on here?”  If I’m trending downward I want a text that says “Lookout!”

I want the ability to turn off those texts at any time.  They’d probably get annoying after the first day…

That’s my dream thing aside from a cure and aside from the closed loop system that we’re all hoping might work as good as intended…

Oh and if I couldn’t have that I suppose I’d settle for reusable test strips.  At least then I’d have a bigger bank account with which to buy more diabetes technology!

What improvements or adjustments would you make to current diabetes technology?

Lessons from the DOC

 
 
Thanks to Michael Marcol for the photo

Thanks to Michael Marcol for the photo

 

Last Day of Diabetes Blog Week

What we’ve learned – Sunday 5/15: Last year, Wendy of Candy Hearts made a suggestion for this year. She commented “I think Day 7 should be a post about stuff we’ve learned from other blogs or the experience of coming together online…” Today, let’s do just that!! What have you learned from other blogs – either this week or since finding the D-OC? What has your experience of blogging the DBlog Week topics with other participants been like? What has finding the D-OC done for you? If you’d like, you can even look ahead and tell us what you think the future holds!

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Through reading many blogs about diabetes I’ve learned the deep and dark feelings many people touched by diabetes endure.  And so I’ve learned I’m not the only one-not even close.  There is a sense of comfort in knowing I’m not alone. 

I’ve learned that because diabetes is complicated it manifests it’s side effects in a multitude of ways.  I’ve learned the human body is complicated and functions and reacts in a multitude of ways.  Therefore we cannot assume that what works for one diabetic works for another or that what happens to one diabetic will happen to another.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at data it just means there are exceptions for EVERYTHING.

Most of all I’ve learned that everyone in the DOC has their joys, passions, moments of excellence, loves of their lives, dreams, etc…and this doesn’t mean they don’t have a desperate need for support, approval, patience, kindness, hope, and a listening ear.  And perhaps this is why the DOC is one of the largest and most close knit communities out there.  We need each other.  We need each other to help celebrate the good times and to support one another through the bad times. 

And I say this despite being the lonely loner I am.  I’m happy to have found you all.  Thanks for sharing and thanks for reading :)

XOXO

DSMA Blog Carnival Post for April

Love is taking the from your high diabetic wife.  (just kidding)

Love is taking the cake from your high diabetic wife. (just kidding)

 

Q: How did the relationships with other people inspire you to take care of yourself?

A: I remember when my now husband and I started dating, I suddenly felt very much pushed to manage my diabetes better.  There were concrete reasons.  High blood sugar causes me to have major dry mouth-something I wanted to avoid on dates.  We went out on a lot of active dates like hiking or playing soccer or roller blading and I did not want my blood sugars to make impressing my husband the more difficult (hehe).  I am after all, one of those girls who insist women are as athletic as men and therefore I needed my blood sugars to cooperate and not slow me down.

My diabetes management improved as soon as I discovered that I loved Alex.  I felt lost before, not sure of what my motivation in life even was.  I’m not saying a person should be one’s ultimate motivation but I guess it was a start for me considering I didn’t know what to do with my life, yet.  Once I realized something I wanted, I could buckle down and get my diabetes management together.  I made a clear path between me and him and pushed my diabetes out of my way by controlling it the best I could.

In high school when my blood sugars were out of control I remember feeling no reason to do better.  Yeah, my family wanted me healthy, sure I wanted good grades, and of course I wanted to play on the soccer team-apparently it wasn’t enough.  I didn’t sense a clear path between me and anything.  My family would love me and be there for me no matter what, I could just get by on mediocre grades, and I wasn’t going to play soccer much longer anyway.  I didn’t see my future, I didn’t imagine anything great or appealing.  I thought, “what’s the point?” 

When I became pregnant with my twins, it all became very clear.  I had no problem denying myself certain foods or testing frequently because my motivation was on target.  I wanted healthy children and that was that.

Besides wanting to always be there for my kids,  I consider a marriage a never ending work in progress so I still get motivated to be healthy for my relationship with my husband. 

I always considered my parents kind of invincible.  I always felt like they take care of me and not the other way around.  Recently, my two living grandparents have needed their children to step in and take care of them for the first time and knowing this has awakened in me the realization that I must also take care of myself so that I can be there for my parents when they need me.  Suddenly I see what my path must be and can work towards it with enough focus and energy.

The relationships in my life have helped fuel my motivation to take care of myself and I’m so thankful for them. 

Now I’m enjoying the extra oomph of support coming from the great big diabetes online community.  Being a part of this community is like getting constantly reminded that my health matters, that I matter.  Support is one of the most precious things in life.  So thanks :)

Read more carnival posts here!

Diabetes and Exercise!

Oh How I Miss You      Photo courtesy of Kanate
               Oh How I Miss You                                                                                                                                 Photo courtesy of Kanate

 

Here is another submission to the DSMA Blog Carnival, this time for March.  We were on the subject of exercise recently, discussing what was most difficult, what are preferences were, and so on.  Here is my answer.  Check out more at DSMA Blog Carnival.

The most difficult thing about managing diabetes and exercising for me is that I don’t like exercising in scheduled format but it’s what works for my diabetes management.  Doing the same workout every day at the same time means predictable blood sugars.  However, I really like doing different activities on different days and at different times of the day if I so choose.  Since this doesn’t work best for me blood sugar wise, frustration with swinging glucose eventually wins.

One thing I’ve noticed that works is to lower my lantus insulin (basal rate if you have a pump) and I stay active as much as possible morning to night.  So if I’m sitting in a chair typing as I am now, I am also holding my legs up for a leg workout.  When I get up from here I do 20 jumping jacks.  As I’m cooking in the kitchen I do squats.  And when playing with the kids, I make sure to add in a game of swing the kids around and throw them up in the air into the mix.  This works for major calorie burning but the constant activity every day helps my blood sugars.  The problem with this?  I DON’T want to do it every day so I let it run in phases.  When I feel like going back to couch potato-like status for a week, I up my lantus again and try to stick to an easy exercise schedule.

As far as the type of exercises I prefer…I prefer to play a soccer match but that’s not possible now that I’m a mom and home all day.  But I like variety, so one day I’ll do yoga and the next use the elliptical machine.  I love Latin ballroom dancing (or any kind of dancing for that matter) and do it in the living room without a partner and I will dribble the soccer ball all around the apartment around the kids and their toys about once a week.  Lately I have fallen for the kettle bell.  The kettle bell has been the most challenging work out as of late.  It causes me to break out in a sweat in only a few minutes.  It’s the easiest way I’ve found to sculpt muscles into a different shape.

I stay motivated with every blood sugar test reminding me what I need to do (not that I follow through, but I do better than I used to).  I also stay motivated out of practicality.  I don’t have money for new clothes and the clothes I already own are perfectly good so I really need to stay the size I am.  ACTUALLY…I’ve increased muscle tone by a whole lot and even though I weigh what I weighed when I got pregnant, my hips and waist are two sizes bigger!  (SO unfair)  So I’m wearing a third of the clothes I own and that motivates me pretty well to keep exercising and reshaping my body to what it once was.  Just so I don’t have to go shopping.  In fact, when I get back to the size I was, I will go shopping in my closet! 

I know some people don’t enjoy exercise and I think it’s not that they don’t enjoy it so much as they haven’t found something they love to do or that works for them.  For example, some people don’t like a gym atmosphere but also don’t feel motivated enough to work out alone so maybe they need to try walks with a friend or dance lessons or something different yet still social.  Maybe certain exercises cause physical pain.  It pays to try different things until you find what works.  I know of some people whose only exercise option is swimming and those that do it reap huge rewards!  Have you swam laps lately?  It’s a major workout! 

A series of injuries and major foot pain are what led me to the kettle bell so I didn’t have to stop exercising and luckily so because the kettle bell has given me the strength I need to keep picking up my kids who will soon hit 30 pounds in weight, each.  Plus, since using the kettle bell I’ve been having less wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain.  I have had carpel tunnel and tendonitis since my kids were born almost two years ago and I think carpel tunnel is a muscle imbalance and structural issue and the kettle bell has been rebalancing all those muscles in my arm, making the pain disappear.  The tendonitis which is more an issue of inflammation has been alleviated since getting back better blood sugars caused by exercising.  How can I not love exercise?  Woohoo!

The Most Awesome Thing I’ve Done Despite Diabetes

  

This is a DSMA prompted question and a submission for the DSMA Blog Carnival. 

The most awesome thing I’ve done despite diabetes is start a family. 

Diabetes had kicked all the self esteem out of me to the point that when my now husband, wanted to go out with me in high school, all my self loathing led to a solid, “No”.  I worked hard to get past those issues and with patience and love from family and friends, I was eventually able to come to a more respectful place with myself and feel worthy of the man I loved.  Years later he was still thinking of me as more than a friend and shortly after, we married.

"OMG your stuck with me!"
“OMG your stuck with me!”

 

Then he and I were thinking about children but I wasn’t so sure it was in the cards for me.  In the short amount of time prior to having them, I had recurring kidney stones, ruptured ovarian cysts, and was told I may never conceive due to PCOS.  Then one month after getting married, I conceived twins!  Carrying two normal sized babies while having two vertebrae out of place was much harder than I imagined.  Carrying them while adjusting type 1 diabetes throughout all kinds of wild hormone changes and insulin need fluctuations was…well It’s one of those things; I don’t know how I did it but I’ve found we’re all pretty good at mustering all the strength in the world for our families.

"Hey, I know you!" "Yeah, I'm your little bro, thanks for not kicking me anymore"
“Heyyy, I know you!” “

 

"zzzzzzz"
“zzzzzzz”

 

"Everyone says you're a little guy but mommy carried you, she knows different!"
“Everyone says you’re a little guy but mommy carried you, she knows different!”

 

Join the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy Chatroom!

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I was recently encouraged by Six Until Me’s Kerri, to attend DSMA chats on twitter.  I felt kind of stumped for a while thinking, huh?  What is DSMA and how does one chat on twitter?

Today I’m interviewing the woman that started it all.  We’ll find out exactly what DSMA means and why it was started and how you can join!

Cherise Shockley blogs over at Diabetes Daily.  Her blog is called Diabetic iz Me and she has been kind enough to answer some of my questions:

Cherise, How would you describe yourself?

 

I would describe myself as friendly, attentive, supporter of others, down to earth and all over the place.

 

What type of diabetes do you have and how long have you had it?

 

I was diagnosed with LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults) in June of 2004.

 

What is DSMA and why did you start it?

 

DSMA stands for Diabetes Social Media Advocacy. It’s a twitter chat/discussion about anything related to diabetes, ie meters, endocrinologists, pumps, support and more.

 

I am not sure if you’re familiar with #hcsm (Healthcare Communications and Social Media) but that’s how I had my “AHA” moment. #hcsm is held every Sunday. I was lurking during one of the chats and it dawned on me, “The Diabetes Online Community needs something like this.” We blog, participate in communities, and tweet-why not use twitter to have an organized chat/discussion about life with diabetes, media and other things that affect us. Plus, you do not have to sit in front of the computer to participate. We all have questions or need insight on something-I ask it and PWD’s/T-3’s respond in real time! It’s amazing!!!!!

 

What kind of feedback have you received about this?

 

I never thought my “AHA” moment would have so much support and participation. The diabetes community looks forward to it. The feedback from the participants of DSMA has been phenomenal. The DOC looks forward to Wednesday nights.

 

How many people typically attend the chats?

 

There are approximately 66-95 people that participate in DSMA on a weekly bases.

 

What is the main purpose of DSMA?  Do you have an ultimate goal in mind?

 

The main purpose of DSMA is to talk about diabetes, living with diabetes, and advocating for PWD’s to come together once a week to chat/discuss questions about our experience and opinions about certain topics in an organized way. My goal has been met, it’s been fantastic.

 

Do you have to be a diabetes blogger to attend the chats?

 

You do not have to be a blogger to participate or even have diabetes. If you are a person who advocates for diabetes, is curious about diabetes, is a care taker and/or parent-anyone and everyone can participate.

 

What is the greatest thing you personally, have gained from DSMA?

 

Personally, I have gained a lot of insight in the past 9 weeks about PWD’s and Parents that have children with diabetes. One of the most important things I’ve learned is T-1’s and T-2’s have a lot in common. Yes, treatments are different and our pancreas works differently but we are still people living with diabetes.

 

How does one join the chats and when/where do they take place?

 

#dsma takes place every Wednesday night at 9pm EST. You can participate in a couple of different ways.

First you have to have a twitter account. Follow @diabetessocmed for the questions and when responding include #dsma at the end of your response. You can also log on to tweetchat/room/dsma; it’s the easiest way to follow. You don’t have to have a twitter account and want to follow the chat, just search the hash tag #dsma.

 

Anything else you’d like to tell us about this?

 

Sysy- thank you for interviewing me about #dsma. I would also like to thank everyone for participating. If you have questions or topic suggestions, you can email them to admin at diabetessocmed.com.

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Thanks Cherise!  So remember to  Go to this link to sign in to your twitter account and you’re ready to join in on the chat!  (Tip:  when you see “RT” this means someone “retweeted” or “reposted” a message-this is a good thing :)  Oh and PWD stands for People or person With Diabetes.  DOC stands for Diabetes Online Community.

For the record, I attended my first chat last week where we answered a few questions based on the topic of mental health and diabetes.  It took me a few minutes to get the hang of the technology (I’m slow with this twitter stuff) but, soon I knew the abbreviations and I was chatting with all sorts of people from around the country who actually know what I’m dealing with.  It was the first time I’d ever had dialogue about diabetes with fellow diabetics (aside from my younger sister).  And for the first time I felt like “hey, I’m not so special” Ha ha.  No.  Seriously?  I felt support and comfort knowing I’m not alone.  Neither are you.

So if you like the idea of this and feel like you need some chicken soup for the diabetic soul join us, we’d love to chat with you.

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