Off the Dial


Expect the Unexpected #DBlogWeek

Hey! It’s Diabetes Blog Week again! All week amazing people in the Diabetes Online Community will be sharing their thoughts on all sorts of cool topics. Karen Graffeo organizes this event every year – I spoke to her for the podcast last week. You can listen here (Karen’s interview starts at 39:00):



Today’s topic: Diabetes can sometimes seem to play by a rulebook that makes no sense, tossing out unexpected challenges at random.  What are your best tips for being prepared when the unexpected happens? 

After more than ten years of type 1 diabetes, I can say that the only thing you can be ready for IS the unexpected. Especially with kids. Site comes off during a birthday party? Low-carb drink turns out to be big time sugar? Too much sand in an inset to reinsert? Yup. It happens. While I never like that feeling of “fix it later,” we’ve learned that Benny is more resilient and diabetes is less of an emergency than I ever thought it would be during those first few scary months after diagnosis.

My husband likes to say the backup plan is more important than the actual plan. That came in handy when he was a TV newscast  director and we’ve found it to be true for diabetes in action!

As just one example, a while back we took the kids snow tubing. Slade and I grew up in New York, but our children are snow-deprived. The Charlotte area gets maybe 1-2 inches a year and rarely all at once. We’re more likely to get ice or slushy yuck. Once every couple of years, we get 3-4 inches all at once and the kids go bananas.

That Saturday, we bundled everyone up and headed off to the mountains. I packed two changes of clothes and extra socks and shoes for everyone. We don’t have actual winter clothes (no ski jackets or pants) and I assumed there’d be a lot of slush and wet and general yuck. I also threw in our diabetes bag.

Benny carries his meter and a juice box wherever he goes. For the last few years, he’s used a leather pouch. It’s really a golf tee/supply bag, but it’s a great fit and Benny doesn’t feel like he’s carrying a purse!  When we take a day trip or we’ll be out for a while, I throw a bigger diabetes bag in the car. This one can hold our pump supplies, extra strips, insulin, needles, etc.   In the summer, I put the insulin vial in a Frio. Somehow, it all fits.

A day outside in the mountains means stopping on the road for a big breakfast. Our kids love the Waffle House and I’ve resigned myself to eating there (I try not to watch the grease on the grill). After something smothered & covered, Slade and Benny figured out the carbs and Benny started to bolus. They both looked up at me with that “something’s wrong” look. “The pump says there’s only one unit left,” Slade said.

What? How is that possible? Why didn’t the pump alarm go off? Oh wait….

That’s when I remembered Benny waking up at 1am, stumbling into my room muttering, “My pump’s making noise.” The reminder alarm was going off, indicating the pump only had 10 units of insulin left. I confirmed the alarm (which turns it off) and told him we’d change the cartridge in the morning.  Of course, in the morning all I remembered was that I was pretty tired for some reason.

We paid the bill and walked to the car. I had the diabetes bag, so I knew we should be all set. But while I was reassuring Benny and Lea everything would be fine, I was trying to remember if I’d double checked the bag and if I could even remember the last time I’d reloaded everything. We were at least an hour from home and, I have to admit, I was nervous. But, it was all there.  One quick cartridge change in the car, giant breakfast bolus and on our way to tubing (which reminds me, I really should put some extra pump tubing in the bag).

I love it when a backup plan comes together.

(partially reprinted from a 2013 post)


My 1993 Oscar Interview with Leonardo DiCaprio

I tweeted this out the night of the Golden Globes.  Got a few questions, so I thought I’d explain a bit more. Here’s the story:




This Boy’s Life is an adaptation of a memoir by author Tobias Wolff.  The movie feaures Robert De Niro, Ellen Barkin and DiCaprio, in one of his first big-screen roles. Wolff was teaching at Syracuse University when the movie came out, which is why one of the premieres was held at a Central New York movie theater.

As I remember, DiCaprio’s dad was the person who pointed him out to me. Could have been a PR flack. The event was over and I must have looked pretty pathetic with my bulky tape recorder slung over my shoulder, running late and trying desperately to give off the aura of  a professional reporter. I was a senior at SU, working weekends at the NewsTalk station in town.


I first looked through my stuff for this story after Titanic came out and I realized it might be nice to have. But no luck. WSYR certainly has no record of it (right, guys? we looked, didn’t we?). This was way before digital – I may have edited it on reel-to-reel – and we didn’t keep quite as much.

I hope DiCaprio wins the Oscar this weekend. I have a fun little story here and that’ll be a cherry on top. Maybe someone will ask him if he dreamed of winning way back when. And if they’re really good, when they put the story together, they’ll use that Lovitz drop.




Happy New Year!

I’m not much for New Year celebrations. We had a quiet night with the kids, making s’mores in the fire pit and toasting with some quality sparkling cider:

Ringing in the New Year

Instead of big resolutions, just a few goals for 2015:


Writing, water, veggies, laughing


Guilt, caffeine, junk food, staying up late for no good reason

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2015!


Hanukkah with Diabetes (a response)

We’re right in the middle of Hanukkah, lighting four candles tonight. This will be our 8th since Benny’s diagnosis,  but I can’t say I’ve thought a lot about diabetes and the Festival of Lights.

Interesting then, to read a post on Diabetesmine about Hanukkah in Israel and T1D.  The author, Jessica Apple, is the founder and editor of the terrific website ASweetLife and she recently founded the Diabetes Media Foundation. I was surprised to read her words; she spells out the exact opposite of how I treat holidays and food:

“Dr. Tal began to list foods I should no longer eat, which—of course—included not just anything with sugar, but most carbohydrates, including all of my favorites: pasta, pizza, pita, burekas, and cereal.  To make it even more depressing, it was Hanukkah season, so Dr. Tal said potato latkes, jelly doughnuts, and the traditional chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil were all out of the question too.”

“Dr. Tal’s words ran through my mind. “Be afraid of sugar,” he’d said.”

This is a very interesting and well written post (link here). Apple weaves her T1D diagnosis through a remembrance of her families challenge of trying to keep kosher during her upbringing in  Texas. She was diagnosed with T1D while pregnant with her third child. I have a lot of respect for the strength she must have shown to keep her family going and come through with a healthy pregnancy. But I think her doctor’s advice in general is way off.

I posted this comment on the blog:

I’m Jewish and you can bet your dreidel my T1D son will be eating his share of latkes, gelt and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) during Hanukkah. Of course, in moderation, but with enjoyment and without fear. I love this article, but it saddens me to think that a doctor would tell a newly diagnosed T1D to be afraid of sugar or any food. My son was dx’d before he was 2, he’ll be ten in a few days and he is allowed to eat anything. Measure, bolus and be smart (his A1cs are great). People in general have enough food issues. People with diabetes should not be taught to add fear to the mix. Have a happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, wonderful New Year and enjoy your family foods and traditions!

What do you think? Should more doctors tell us to be afraid of sugar? Would that help us achieve better health?

2014-12-16 16.44.16

My front lawn right now. Really. I’m not a fan, but my kids and neighbors love it!