Jerry the Bear: The Big Idea

Benny was diagnosed with type 1 before he was old enough to pronounce diabetes. My parents bought him a Curious George doctor doll and his beloved Elmo often got a juice box and a shot. We explained everything the best we could to our 2 year old, but found that diabetes-play better helped him process what was going on.

That’s why I’m a big fan of Jerry the Bear, an adorable plush toy (below)that teaches kid about diabetes.

Jerry

I met the company founders at a conference last summerthey made a big impression on me. Jerry is a great tool for children with diabetes and for their friends and classmates. It makes learning about diabetes less scary and more fun.

I’m so pleased that they asked me to help get the word out about their latest project. It’s a pretty audacious one. They want to give every newly diagnosed child a Jerry the Bear toy. For free.

 

From their website:

“Last Christmas, we shipped our first production run of Jerry the Bear and reached 2% of all newly diagnosed children with T1D in the U.S. Now, after 5 months, kids are still playing with Jerry for over an hour each week – monitoring his blood sugar levels, feeding him a healthy diet, and replaying his educational lessons.

This makes us ask the questions, what if we can get Jerry into the hands of100% of children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? Can we make a profound difference in the life of every child diagnosed?”

I bet they can do it. Find out more about how you can help with this big idea (link takes you to their fundraising campaign).

Just want to know more about Jerry the Bear? Watch this:

Our Independence Day

This week marks seven years since we started Benny on an insulin pump. I remember joking about our independence from shots. Slade and I were excited to start on the Animas insulin pump. At two and a half years old, Benny wasn’t exactly so sure.

From my post in 2007 (click here to read it all):

“To say the pump transition has not gone as planned would be an understatement. I can honestly say I never thought Benny would grab his brand new pump and throw it across the room.We got the inset onto Benny (we’re calling it his “button”) and unlike last time, he was not happy about it. After the initial outburst (okay, it was a total tantrum – and that’s when he chucked the pump across the room) he calmed down until bedtime. When I changed him, he noticed the “button” on his tush and told me to ‘off it.’

So, it wasn’t perfect. And inset changes, while much easier, sometimes still hurt (that’s how the pump attaches to Benny’s body and it’s like getting a big shot). Overall, pumping has been a terrific experience. The Animas pump has given Benny more flexibility, discretion and independence in managing his diabetes.  The dosing is more accurate and consistent and caregivers who were reluctant to give shots were much more comfortable with pressing buttons.

Pumping isn’t for everyone with diabetes, of course. We know lots of people who get great control and numbers on shots or with insulin pens. But it was the 100% right decision for us.

bennypump2

 

Happy Independence Day!

 

Father’s Day

We’re spending Father’s Day this year taking Benny to diabetes camp. Or, as he calls it, “Best week of the year!” It got me thinking about dads and diabetes and how lucky I feel that Slade and I really are a team.

Well, that’s a bit of a lie. Right now, Benny will only let his father do the Dexcom sensor changes. Slade’s very fast and there’s some concern that I won’t do it right. It’s the first time we haven’t shared everything about Benny’s diabetes care. I was surprised to find, that’s a bit unusual.

Slade and Benny one week before diagnosis

One week before Benny’s diagnosis

There are whole studies about how fathers aren’t involved in diabetes care and what that does to their kids’ health outcomes. There is an assumption among many that mom is always the primary caregiver and dad just pays for the health insurance. I know much of this has to do with societal norms and the traditional mom/dad role, but that stinks.

I can’t imagine feeling uncomfortable leaving my husband to care for my child. I take for granted the fact that I can go out to dinner with friends or even away for the weekend and know Slade can handle whatever I could. I know a few moms with clueless-about-diabetes dads and while those moms definitely have more stress, frankly, I think the dads are getting the worse end of that deal.

Let me be clear, Slade and I do NOT have the exact same styles when it comes to diabetes. I know I baby Benny by doing things for him (“let me check your blood sugar, let’s calibrate your Dexcom now”). Slade pushes him to do more for himself (“go get your own meter, show me how you fill the cartridge.”) I love to talk about diabetes, go to meetings and JDRF/ADA events and Slade would just as soon never go to another workshop or D-meetup again. But we both agree on the big picture and long term goals  – giving Benny the tools to be independent, responsible, happy and healthy.

So, Happy Father’s Day, Slade.  While it’s sometimes hard for me to watch your style, I know you’re teaching both our children life lessons they’ll need. Now go change the Dexcom sensor while I lounge around.

 

I have to say nice things about him or they'll make me go on the teacups!

I have to say nice things about him or they’ll make me go on the teacups!

George R.R. Martin Q&A

George R.R. Martin, the author of the books most people know better as HBO’s Game of Thrones, came to Charlotte this past weekend. He was the guest of honor at ConCarolinas. I’m a big nerd fan of the books so I decided to go and listen to Martin speak. Didn’t expect to get this close:

The view from my seat

My view at the opening program

Martin was sweetly worried that his hat was blocking my view (it wasn’t). We chatted for a moment, which was fun. You can see more of my Con pics here.

I’ve written up the Q&A that Martin did with fans.  There are spoilers; I’m not even sure everything will make sense if you haven’t read the books. Looking for more info? I recommend westeros.org.

I did not take notes on every question. Many simply consisted of, “I love your work,” or “It’s really exciting to talk to you.”  I use quotes only when I wrote down Martin’s response word for word. Everything else is paraphrased. The italics are my comments. Ok? Here we go!

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Q:  What about Elia & Oberyn Martell’s mother?  Will we know her name or hear more about her?

A: Maybe. She’s dead. There are a lot of other people to get to.

Martin talks for a bit here about how little changes made on the HBO show will have a big impact on the story there later. Made sure to let us know that he doesn’t control the choices the TV producers make. This seemed less about the Martells and more about getting that statement out early in the Q&A.

Q: Will you ever write a book about Robert’s Rebellion?

A: “Probably not.” There are going to be many more flashbacks and allusions to Robert’s Rebellion in the next two books. “By the end of this series you’ll know everything that happened” in the Rebellion.  A book about it then would not be very interesting.

Q: What can you tell us about a warg dragon rider?

A: There is no history/precedent for someone warging a dragon. There is a rich history of the mythical bond between dragon and rider.  There have been instances of dragons responding to their riders even from very far away (hmm) which shows it is a true and very strong bond. We will learn more about this. Keep reading (we hear “keep writing” from the back of the room).

This question was initially misheard as “a dwarf dragon rider,” which is just as interesting. I was hoping someone would press him to follow up on that, but they let it pass. Honestly, I’m not sure the moderator/host had even read one of Martin’s books. He seemed to be more interested in Buffy than in Bloodraven.

Q: How do you keep track of all your characters?

A: My brain! (laughter) I keep notes and I remember everything in my mind. But now I have no room in my brain for other things, like remembering who the f— you people are (more laughter). I’ve met many of you and already forgotten your names! Martin mentions of course he has computer files, other helpers (I didn’t write down if he specifically mentioned Elio & Linda at Westeros.org). As is widely known, I had a horse that that changed gender from book one to book two. Renly’s eyes were green then blue, so I just made them blue-green. Apparently, eye color is the worst. “I don’t even know why I include eye color! I can’t tell what color eyes people in the front row here have! I can just tell they have eyes!”

Q: Asks about a recent interview with Martin’s editor in which she said he submitted pages last year for The Winds of Winter.  “How many pages have you finished that you haven’t submitted?” (A few groans from the crowd)

A: “Some” (laughter)

Q: Very well-asked question about controversial rape depictions in the show and books. Questioner brings up the Jamie/Cersei rape scene on TV, then leads into question about Tyrion and Tysha’s last encounter. Was that scene written as a horrific rape? Questioner claims many of her friends do not see it that way.

This was interesting. Crowd seems very uncomfortable as this question is asked. It’s almost as though she’s stepping over a line many think should not be crossed. Martin’s answer is excellent and very long. He takes at least 15 minutes.

A: That scene is filtered through Tyrion’s point of view ten years after the fact. We don’t know anything about what Tysha is thinking, although it’s meant to be a brutal scene for everyone, Tywin included. No one enjoyed that incident.  We could only find out what Tysha was thinking or feeling if we see her again. We may.  Remember, and I’ve talked about this quite a bit lately, the concept of rape has changed over the years (i.e. there was once no concept of marital rape).

Much of the rest of what Martin said about rape in history and war has been covered very well elsewhere. I’m not going to do it justice here. He did mention he wrote a three page response to the New York Times, which they edited down, of course. You can read that article here. 

A (Martin continues): “I hate that word gratuitous” about the books, whether it refers to sex or violence or food. “What that really means is, that didn’t interest me so I skipped that part.”  I want “total immersion” for readers.  For example, I read the Victarion preview chapter at last night’s banquet and when I write about the sound of drums to help the rowers keep time, I want you to feel it. “Boom BOOM Boom Boom” (he hits his hand on the table for emphasis). If I mention a howl, I want you to hear it. OOOOWWWWOOOOO (it was quite a nice howl).

Q:  What is your favorite line in ASOIAF?

A: I can’t single out one line but my favorite passage is Septon Meribald’s speech about war in… what was it?  (crowd yells out Feast for Crows).

How did he forget which book? Martin has said he sees this as one long novel. He also tells us later that he sometimes writes chapters that end up in different books than originally intended.

Q: Who do you see yourself as in the books? Which character has the most of you in him?

A: I’d like to say Tyrion, but it’s really Samwell Tarly. Tyrion gets more action, he gets laid more (laughter) but I’m really more like Sam.

Q: What real history books would you recommend?

A: Apologies, I was next in line and didn’t write down the answer. Please enjoy this other article that seems to list quite a few of Martin’s favorite fiction and nonfiction authors 

Q: My turn! My question is about the Mercy chapter released just before the start of Season 4. As a book-reader, it was so satisflying to read that before watching the similar situation play out on the show (Arya refers back to Lommy while killing Polliver on the show, Raff in the books). As you’ve mentioned, you can’t control the show content. Are there any plans to release more chapters to stay ahead of reveals like that as we head toward season 5? Also, Arya seems much older than we might expect in that chapter. Does “Mercy” happen more than a year in the future from the end of Dance or is it just that Arya always seems older than her age?

A: Big pause from Martin.  That chapter was written about ten years ago and was first supposed to be at the end of Feast, then included at the end of Dance. But it seems to be a beginning more than an end, so it got moved around quite a bit. It was also part of the five year gap that was supposed to happen in the books so the children could grow up a bit. This worked well for characters like Arya and Bran, but not at all for Jon Snow or others. “Well, I became Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch five years ago. Not much has happened since…” (laughter). I worked that chapter quite a bit to bring Arya back to her current age. There is no time gap there (he doesn’t say exactly when it comes in the story sequence).  Remember, this is a preview chapter, I may still go back and rework it before it’s published.

I’m sure I’m projecting since this is my question, but Martin seems a bit put out that Arya’s age seems to be an issue here. Sort of, “I’m not rewriting that damn chapter again.” No real comment on whether he would release more preview chapters before season 5 and another reminder that he doesn’t control what goes into the show.

Q: Do you have any advice for writers?

A:  Keep reading (from the back – again – keep writing!). Remember to write for the right reasons.  I’m up here on the dais and you’re all down there in the audience and some people really just want to be up here. If you want to write to get attention, please realize it doesn’t work that way. You should write if you have a story in our head you can’t shake. You should write if the stories or the characters wake you up at night or follow you around during the day. If you have something to say, be a writer. Not for the celebrity of it. That doesn’t usually work out.

Q: Question about the Silent Sisters and allowance of noisy bodily functions.

A: Um, I don’t think that’s an issue.

Q: I hate the show, they’ve “crapped all over “ Jaime.

A: Oh well. I don’t think they’ve ruined anyone. It’s different.

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There were a few questions I missed. A very young girl, maybe 8 years old, was first in line and I was distracted by the fact her parents let her watch or read this series! The moderator did ask GRRM if he had a Targaryan coloring book for her. He didn’t, but the crowd seemed really interested in that (connect the dots of Summerhall)!

At another session, Martin read from The World of Ice and Fire (due out later this year). You can find an excellent recap at History of Westeros. I found it interesting, but my “I’m here for Star Wars” friend fell asleep. Really.

Whew! Bit of a different post for me, but I loved working on it.  My husband is just happy I found other people just as crazy interested in these books as I am.