Lemonade Life

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Memo

For the first time in months, I really wanted to go to the gym. I even lowered my basal rates and I ate a cracker pack.

But I still couldn't go because I was low. So I drank juice. I disconnected from my insulin pump. And I waited 15 minutes. Then I was 81. So I ate two cookies, had some more juice, and drank some milk. And I waited 15 more minutes. But I was only 95. Then I decided to be healthy and I ate a nectarine. I waited 15 more minutes, until 9:00. I tested. I was 109.

Lows be damned! I decided.

I walked through the rain to the Student Rec Center. In the entrance to the gym, I could feel my legs turn to rubber. I was already fatigued. I tested, but my meter only said 98.

I walked in, and checked out a lock. I went to the locker room. My hands fumbled with the lock. I put away my jacket and sweatshirt. I took my juice, and my CD player and my determination and I marched up to the track.

I looked around. I could feel that all-too-familiar ache creep into my legs and hands. You're not going to impress anyone by fainting.

I walked back downstairs. I trudged back to the locker room. I sat down. I punched a hole into the juice box with the straw. I sipped my juice. I tried not to cry.

I waited. The ache slowly dissipated. I retrieved my items from the locker, and returned the lock.

And walked back, through the rain, to my house. Soaking wet. Tired. Pissed off.

And my blood sugar is still only 104.

Have I mentioned I hate diabetes? Because I do.

Just in case you didn't get the memo.

Monday, January 30, 2006

To Ponder

"What lies behind
us and what lies
before us are small
matters compared
to what lies within us."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

That's what it said on the front of the card my parents sent for my anniversary. I thought I would share it with you all.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cute & Happy


Allison, 8, and Eric, 3.

Cute and happy.


Allison, 8, and Eric, now 4.

See a difference? Yeah, neither do I. But it's there...

(But still cute and happy.)


Allison, 20, Mumzie, and Eric, 16.
(Father's taking the picture. He says, "Hi.")

Still cute, still happy.

Just taller. And wiser.


Vital Stats

Name: Allison Blass
Age: 20 years, 5 months, and 21 days old
Age at Diagnosis: 8 years, 5 months and 21 days old
Current Treatment: Minimed Paradigm 715
Years on the Pump: 5 years, 6 months and 4 days.
Current A1C: 7.3 (as of Dec. 15, 2005)
Highest A1C: 9.2 (April 2005)
Lowest A1C: 7.3 (May 1999, December 2005)
Approximate Number of Injections: 9,000
Approximate Number of Finger Pokes: 26,000
Approximate Number of Pump Site Changes: 575
Number of Seizures: ZERO
Number of Hospitalizations after Diagnosis: ZERO
Number of Complications: ZERO

Be your own reason to celebrate!

See you next year!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;

Sometimes I am so tired.
Tired of checking to see if my pump has enough insulin to last me through the day (because you can't survive without it). Tired of the beeping reminding me to test (because you don't want to drive off the road). Tired of filling in numbers that tell me whether or not I'm doing a good job (because a high number means you suck as a person ). Tired of wondering (is today the day I will have a seizure?). Tired of the fear (will I be in pain when I go?). Tired of being positive (please stop telling me it's okay, I just want to scream in peace). Tired of being alone (nobody knows about anything). Tired of talking (I am not a diabetes educator. There is no acronym after my name). Tired of thinking (so, now what are you going to do?).

Tired of stupid questions (I thought you couldn't eat sugar?).
Tired of stupid comments (That's a cool MP3 player).
Tired of stupid doctors (All you need to do this, that and the other- what's so hard about that?).
Tired of stupid critics (Diabetes doesn't really take that much time. They practically give you the formula. Carbohydrates/insulin - exercise. A monkey could do it. So what's wrong with you?).

perplexed, but not in despair;

Diabetes, the "job", has become my life. I think about my projects all the time. Every day. Hours and hours. When my professor is talking, when I'm walking home from school, when I'm drinking my third cup of coffee, when I'm brushing my teeth, when I check my phone messages, when I'm in a bookstore, when I'm eating a sandwich, when I'm in the shower, when it's 2:30 in the fucking morning and I still can't sleep because my mind keeps talking to me about everything I'm doing, should be doing, could be doing, want to be doing, and CAN'T because I'm a 20-year-old college student who is trying to graduate with a degree and her sanity.

I'm trapped at a large university in the middle of nowhere with thousands of students and thousands of opportunities and all I can think of is graduating so I can try to convince somebody in the "diabetes industry" to hire me and so I can move across the country to be closer to everybody I really want to be around (because these people don't understand) and actually do what I want to do because what I'm doing now isn't good enough (obviously).

persecuted, but not abandoned;

The whole point of This is to help people. That's what I keep telling myself. Everyday. You're helping people. You're an inspiration. You're a role model. People Like You. You can't quit now. What would you do? You're the Expert on Teens, for God knows what reason. How did I become an authority? Because I created a website when I was 17 and talked to a couple of Really Important People? I don't get it. I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

I eat cupcakes. I skip testing when I'm too busy to open my backpack. I forget to bolus. I don't count carbs unless there's a label on the package. I can't remember the last time I went to the gym. I smoke sometimes. I drink occassionally. The majority of my professors don't know I have diabetes. I went 12 years without wearing a Medical ID bracelet. Sometimes I don't eat breakfast. I've run out of juice and eaten half a package of cookies because I thought I was going to die.

I'm an inspiration (so they say); but I still do ridiculous things.
And I'm just as scared as you.
Twelve years and I'm still crying myself to sleep.
I am still begging God to make this all go away.

struck down, but not destroyed...

I have thought about quitting. Five years in the "industry" and I've considered retiring. What would I do? I would have so much Time. When Diabetes Portal closed, I thought about not coming back. I thought about volunteering somewhere else. Some place where the results don't affect me directly. Some place truly philanthropic, without this Little Voice going, "You're still doing it for yourself. You still want this for you more than anything."

But I can't. It's an addiction. Helping people is habit-forming, it's true. The comments (as few and far between as they are) really are the reason I stay. When you say I've helped you, that's all I need to hear. I need feedback. I don't just do this for kicks- I do this for You. Please tell me when it's working and when it's not.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

When I first started, I thought it would be Really Cool to be famous like Clare or Jeff and get to travel and have people talk to me and be interviewed and have my picture taken (the Paris Hilton of Diabetes). I can't tell if it has happened or it's happening or if it ever will happen. Then I became a Christian and realized how selfish I was being. I felt very guilty.

I still feel guilty. I'm sorry for wanting to be in a magazine more than I want to help people.

I'm repenting.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.

I want to cry and be bitter. Bitter not so much for what I have lost, but bitter for the pain of those who are hurting even more than me. I can see the tears through the words typed in the dozens of blogs and essays and comments I read everyday. I can hear the prayers of the Mothers (and the Fathers). All the wishes and the dreams that Diabetes challenges and threatens to take away.
I can feel the strength in each one of you.

For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Being negative drives me nuts. I can't spend very much time in this frame of mind, which is why I'm glad that tomorrow I will remember all my reasons for why it will be okay.

One of the reasons why I wrote Cutting Honesty to begin with was to allow myself the freedom to be both Happy and Sad at the same time. To become a whole person again, rather than a dual identity. Happy Role Model on one side, Depressed Teenage Diabetic on the other. I am Both.

And I'm not perfect. Sometimes a girl's just gotta vent. I like being positive. But it's really hard sometimes.


This is my Prayer:

May we all be strong.
May we all be courageous, for courage is not strength in the absence of fear but in the face of fear.

May we all love.
May we all listen, for the words that are shared between friends can save lives.

May we continue hoping.
May we fight the good fight.
May the Dream stay alive and bold.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Heart Everybody.

All of these people have made a significant, lasting impact on my life. Mostly I just had to assign an order that they go in, but I just wanted to share how much I love and appreciate all of these people. How much I care about them. How much I am thankful for all that they have given me.

This is a long one. I recommend bringing some tea and a big box of Kleenex.

My Top 12 People Who Helped or Inspired Me to Do Good For Diabetes

12. Jeff Hitchcock. Come on. It's Jeff Hitchcock. Of course he's on the list! Nothing I have done really would have been possible or successful without Jeff. Not only has he created ChildrenWithDiabetes (by far the most amazing website on diabetes EVER), but he is determined, passionate and caring. Those amazing qualities have inspired millions of those affected with diabetes to come together to gain friendship, education and inspiration. He has opened up so many doors and opportunities for people, including me. I think we should elect Jeff as President. Maybe we can find a small island in the Pacific and take it over as Diabetica and Jeff and Brenda can rule as King & Queen. Just a thought...

11. Brynna Hurwitz. Brynna is the Director of the Children's Diabetes Network in Portland, OR and the wonderfully dedicated mother of Benton. I began volunteering with CDN (formally Children's Diabetes Seminars and Support Network) in 2000, when Brynna opened this program with a couple other parents. I started out as a child care provider, coming to the Seminars to baby-sit children with diabetes. After a few sessions, Brynna hired me as the Child Care Coordinator, and I organized teens in the community to come and watch the kids. With CDN, I served as a role model to the kids, teens and parents in the Portland Metropolitan area and it fueled my passion for helping families. CDN has also grown substantially. Dr. Francine Kaufman spoke last spring, and this March, they are flying in Dr. Peter Chase. CDN is an amazing local organization and if you are looking to start something similar, I strongly recommend talking to Brynna. How did she do it? Lots of work!

10. Susie Buss. Susie used to be the Special Events Coordinator for our JDRF chapter when I was in high school. She let me tag along to corporate Walk kickoffs as the Diabetic Poster Child. Pretty much everything I know about speaking in public I learned from those experiences. Question and answer sessions at the end of the presentations taught me how to educate effectively. They were also fun! Watching Susie at those special events, getting up and being so comfortable talking about the importance of finding a cure definitely inspired me to pursue working at JDRF someday.

9. Gary Scheiner. Before Gary became my diabetes educator, he was the guy Diabetes Station brought on to talk about pumps. A lot. I swear, there was a Gary program every other day. So when I found out he was taking patients outside of Philly, I asked my parents to let me switch. They said no. Obviously, I won (through much negotiating and the selling of my soul). He is by far the best thing to happen to my health care since Dr. Hansen (and if you read the tribute, you know that's a Really Big Deal). Gary has diabetes and he gets it in a way that I don't see very often. Not only is he great at his job, but he's also a really great friend. I feel really lucky to have him around. I heart Gary. - Signed, the President of the Gary Scheiner Fan Club.

P.S. As President of the GSFC, I feel it my duty to encourage EVERYONE to buy Gary's book. Right now. I'm serious. Go. You can finish the countdown after you buy the book.

8. The O.C. Hi guys. I suppose it's kind of cheating by listing the O.C. as one person that has inspired me, considering the O.C. is now comprised of 8,938 blogs in 210 countries and Mars. But this is my Countdown and I don't care. Because honestly I don't think I could single any one of you out as "Most Inspiring." Reading about your lives and feeling connected through shared circumstances and emotions, adorable photos and random facts has motivated me to Keep Going. Sometimes I forget why I do what I do. I get bogged down with the details of website management, advertising and public relations, who needs this or what I should add. I forget that there's a Difference being made in people's lives that I should never forget. I'm not going to single you out because all of you are inspiring me to not give up. To keep fighting the good fight. To keep the Dream alive.

7. Deb Butterfield. The woman who plucked the little Nobody out of obscurity and gave her Fame. Well, okay, that might be a tad overdramatic, but still. Deb is former President of Diabetes Portal. Diabetes Portal is the company I used to work for as Youth Programs Manager. As Youth Programs Manager, I hosted Teen Talk, interviewed dozens of really awesome people and mentored tons of teens. Although Teen Talk wasn't the first advocacy job or website I had, I consider it My Big Break, considering it's basically how I came to know everyone. Deb, of course, is an amazing woman all by herself, neverminding the fact she gave me Teen Talk. She had a pancreas transplant in '93, and in '95 started Diabetes Portal as a hub for research and advocacy news. I'm terribly sad that Diabetes Portal is no longer around, as it provided amazing resources and hope to so many people. Deb = total awesomeness.

6. Clare Rosenfeld. Clare has been a diabetes advocate for 11 out of the 12 years she has had diabetes. I could write a book about all the different things she has done to help people with diabetes. Obviously, I'm not going to, but sufficed to say she is an amazing, tireless advocate for diabetes and far too busy for her own good. Clare and I also went to camp together. I remember watching her growing up, seeing her in magazines and thinking all the things she did were really cool. But then I heard her talk about all these children around the country that were facing discrimination in schools. I never had that problem, but Clare made it seem like I could do something to help. I could make a difference. That fall, I applied to go to Children's Congress, having never done anything at all to help the cause. But Clare told me I could make a difference and I believed her. I still do.

5. The Camo Crew. Clare and I were a part of a group at Gales Creek Camp called the Camo Crew, named for our obsessive use of camo-wear during camp. There seven of us: Clare (Radar), Daniel (Tarzan), Kimberly (Tweety Bird), Kelsey (Velcro), Travis (Zedd), Nathan (X) and me (Angel). Those are our camp names, because we were convinced we would all one day be counselors together. Daniel is the only one who made it. For three summers, and for a handful of youth conferences and random encounters, we were the Camo Crew. A camp icon. We weren't really anything special. We weren't superheroes, though we thought we were. We were just a group of kids who had nothing in common except diabetes and, somehow, that was all we needed. The Camo Crew taught me about friendship, adventure, courage, honesty, disappointments, loyalty and love. Many lessons came out of my relationships with these six individuals and although most of us have little or no contact with the rest, we will always and forever remain the Camo Crew.

4. All of my friends from High School. My friends from high school are amazing. They are educated and wise about diabetes. They know when to help and they know when to back off. They know what a high is and they know what a low is, and why both suck. They know I am strong and capable and should never not be invited. They are proud of me for my accomplishments, and I love them for their support. I am thankful that they never made me feel different or weird, except for the Good Weird. I am so thankful to have these kids in my life.

3. Dr. James Hansen. I included a tribute to him in my D-Blog day post. So I'm not going to write very much more. All I can say is this: Dr. Hansen was and continues to be one of the most amazing men I have ever known. He was a brilliant doctor coupled with a loving soul. His death was a tragedy for so many because we believed he was one of the few good doctors, no, one of the few good people we had. Dr. Hansen, his entire spirit, inspires me to become a better teacher, a better person.

I love you, Dr. Hansen, and I miss you so much.

2. Amanda F. Amanda was one of my kids from the Children's Diabetes Network. She was 3 years old when I started babysitting for her, having been diagnosed at 2 1/2 years. One night, while I was babysitting her and her sister, Julia, I had to give Amanda a shot of insulin. It was over dinner time and it just wasn't possible for her mother to give her the shot before she left. I, of course, thought it not a problem. I have given myself thousands of insulin injections, including some on other children. I prepared the syringe, and Amanda laid over my knees as I prepared to give the injection. I set it up, I injected, and I released. Amanda sobbed. So this must be what it feels like to be a Mother, I thought, knowing full well this was just the tip of the iceberg. But the feeling in my heart of having to hurt Amanda in order to keep her healthy has stayed with me ever since. At that moment, I made a promise to myself to do whatever I could to make sure no other child like Amanda ever had to feel pain in order to stay alive.

One day, Amanda will have her cure and I will have kept my promise. I do this for her, and all the children: past, present and future.

1. My parents. My parents are amazing people. I don't say this just because they've put up with me for twenty years (though that doesn't hurt), I say it because of everything they have done for me. The places they drove me, the doctors they talked with. The patience. The travel. The time. The energy. The sleepless nights. The wondering. My father told me over winter break that my mother had actually considered at one time becoming a diabetes educator. But it's more than just what they did for me that matters. How they taught me to think is what really inspires me.

My father always tells me, now as an adult, how they put a concerted effort into integrating diabetes into my life as much as possible. I don't remember a gigantic take-over of diabetes onto my life. Diabetes just became another thing that I did. It was normal. It just was what it was and what it still is. We made it part of the routine, like brushing teeth or taking out my contact lenses. My childhood didn't go from being my wonderful, easy-going childhood to this miserable existence with needles and blood. It just changed. Like life changes. They adapted, and as I grew up, my parents taught me to adapt with it. As difficult as life with diabetes is sometimes, I think the reason I don't go overboard or quit is because of what they taught me.

I could go on like the Energizer Bunny about how wonderful my parents are and how I don't tell them nearly enough how much I love them. So I think I'll just say that right now and leave it at that: I love them. Very much.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

This Proves How Cool I Really Am.

Ready for Round Two? When I was describing this list to a friend, he quipped, "Is like the Diabetes Gag Reel?" Well, not quite, though some of the incidents are very funny. At least, in retrospect! Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "We'll laugh about this later." This 2nd list is of my favorite diabetes moments. Most of them are funny (which is where the "gag reel" come in), but they are nonetheless very memorable for me. Enjoy!

My Top 12 Greatest Diabetes Moments

12. The JDRF Countdown Photo Shoot. Okay, not to sound like an Uber-Bitchy-Celeb-Princess, but I really REALLY hate photo shoots. It's boring, for one thing. They really do make you pose and act all unnatural like. And I never ever seem to like the way I look in photos, so it's a total waste of my time. But you have to do them. It's just one of those sacrifices I have to make for the good of mankind. Anyway, one time, I was doing this photo shoot for JDRF Countdown. It was August 2002, and I was still working on my old old website, CureNow. The photographer they chose was sooo cool! He was really nice and friendly, and he let me look at the pictures and I told him which ones I liked. His assistant was also really cool too. Even though they used all these really bright lights (which took them 30 minutes to set up) that made our office 9,000 degrees and even though I had to lay down on the floor next to my computer monitor, they still made it fun. I liked them.

11. "How Did You Experience Jesus Today?". I am on a Catholic website. I am not Catholic. I know, it's weird. As gloriously self-absorbed as this will sound, I occasionally search my name on Google. Mostly because I have discovered that I can find myself on really random websites. Like AmericanCatholic.org. I'm in their Links for Learners section, which features different people in different "When I was..." categories. I'm the "When I Was Ill" Girl.

10. My Chemistry Teacher unintentionally telling me to turn of my pump. One day during organic chemistry, I was changing my pump set (for whatever reason, I don't remember the details). I was just minding my own business, sitting at the desk with all my tubing, and the alcohol wipes, and the IV tape. All of a sudden, Mr. Kuykendall turns around and yells, "Turn it off!" Stunned silence. Everyone look around at each other, completely baffled.

"The cell phone! Turn it off!" Mr Kuykendall repeated. Of course, there was no one using a cell phone.

Lightbulb goes off. "Oh! That's me!" I said, realizing he could hear the beeping of my pump while I changed my set. "Sorry." Mr. Kuykendall looked at me, confused for a moment.

"Oh. Yeah, you don't need to turn that off."

9. Ad-libbing a speech at a JDRF Gala. In front of, oh, 300 people. It was 2001, and my mother and I were about fly to Washington D.C. for Children's Congress. Well, JDRF decided to have me and the other delegate, Hannah, speak at the annual Gala. Before we left, I quickly wrote a short 2 paragraph speech about what we were going to be doing there. I folded it up and off we went. When I arrived at the Gala with my parents, I discovered there was no podium. Completely resistent to the idea of standing in front of 300 people and obviously reading off a piece of paper, I decided to just go up there and talk. For about 10 minutes. When I got down, the emcees, who happened to be broadcasters on a local TV station, said, "Wow, you did a great job up there!" Little did they know I completely made up the whole thing.

8. The "Wood Family Reunion" Episode. One summer, at camp, my friends and I all went low at the exact same time at 3 a.m. check. First Clare, then me, then Kim. Kim and Clare made a reference to a previously made inside joke about Mr. Meter and Mr. Poker. They wondered if they would ever have a family reunion (remember, these girls have hypoglycemia. Try not to hold it against them). Then Kim asked if the bunk beds would ever have a family reunion. Being that we were pretty awake and very chit-chatty after being low (and not quite with it), we spent the next half hour listing off all the different things in the cabin that we thought would go to the Wood Family Reunion. I climbed over to Clare's bunk and started playing with her stuffed bull-frog, Jeremiah. Then, Clare asked, "Is Jeremiah the Bullfrog made out of wood?"

"Well," I replied, "Jeremiah is made of cotton, which is a plant. Trees are plants too, and you get wood from trees. So, he's like a cousin. Yeah, Jeremiah would go to the Wood Family Reunion."

7. Getting my ears pierced for my 1st anniversary. For MONTHS I had begged and pleaded and argued and negotiated with my mother to let me get my ears pierced. "Jenny has them, Kayce has them, Annie has them, Bobbie Jo has them...." (ok, there was no Bobbie Jo, but you get the idea). My mother just would budge. I was thisclose to giving up hope. Then one evening towards the end of January in 1995, while my mother and I are out, she drives us up to Willoughby's, a beauty salon that also does ear piercing. I couldn't believe it! I was so excited. Mumzie, as a reward for all my hard work and cooperation during the first year of having diabetes, allowed me to get my ears pierced. And thus the tradition began... I've since received dolls, jewelry, make-up, and knitting needles...

6. Breaking my record low. This is another Gales Creek Camp story involving those infamous and annoying Night Checks. It's 12 a.m. Bronco, a girl counselor, wakes me. "Allison it's time to test." I give her my hand, not wanting to move to test myself. A few seconds. "Okay, you're 48." I choke down the chalky BD glucose tablets (which should be illegal). 15 minutes, Bronco came back to test me. "Allison," she whispers. "You're 29." Pause. I absorb this information.

"Yes! I beat my record!" The lowest number I've ever reached and survived accomplished at 12:30 in the morning at diabetes camp. Go me.

5. Putting together "When There's a Cure...". While I was working on CureNow, I came up with this idea to have reader's send me their plans for what they were going to do when there is a cure. The question asked them "What is the first thing you are going to do when you are cured? Have a party? Go to Africa?" The responses I received were AMAZING. I cried reading some of them, especially the ones from the little kids. I loved getting them. The website was tough, and it was never very good in my opinion, but the series "When There's A Cure..." was I think my best idea.

Here are just a few:

  • What will I do when I'm cured of type 1 diabetes? 1. I will get to go to my friends's house for sleepovers. 2. I will get to go to Canada fishing with my dad - (in the remote part of Canada where there are no health care facilities within 100s of miles). ~ Cody, age 8 &1/4 years old (diagnosed 1 year ago).
  • I asked my daughter what she will do when she gets a cure.......she said" throw ALL my needles and owie things away and eat cookies when it's not time for my snack." My response, ditto. ~ Debi, mom of Jessi, age 5, diabetic 2 1/2yrs.
  • When there's a cure... With tears of joy, I will thank mom for the many years of caring. Tell her to cast her feelings of worry and guilt into the wind ...we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel. ~ Rita, age 35

Isn't that, like, the coolest thing ever?

4. The Great Heroin Pump Incident. Hahaha. I haven't even written anything and I'm already laughing! This is actually a pretty short story. Soon after I got my pump in 2000, I was hanging out with my friends and, naturally, I was telling them all about my new gear. My friend, Josh, asks, "So, could you, like, put heroin in that?" Pause. "Um. I don't know, Josh. Maybe..." I have yet to test this theory. Any volunteers?

3. Mary Tyler Moore Photo Op. The ultimate highlight of Children's Congress was meeting Mary Tyler Moore and having a picture taken with her. Actually, it wasn't just with her. It was me, Mary, Hannah, the other delegate, and Jonathan Lipnicki (remember him?) who was one of the other celebrity guests. The photo took like 2 seconds to take, kind of an In-And-Out thing. But whenever people talk about their exciting Celebrity Sightings, I can casually reply, "Well, I got my picture taken with Mary Tyler Moore."

2. Children's Congress. Children's Congress as a whole was one incredibly awesome, totally inspiring, life-altering experience. Four days. 200 children. Their parents. And one Capitol. Awesome. It was the closest thing I've come to a diabetes conference (having yet attended a CWD function). All the children, all the laughing, all the test strips, all the glucose tabs. "How long have you had it?" "Where are you from?" "I have the same pump!" Giggles, tears, excitement, anticipation. We were kids on a mission. We wanted our cure and we wanted it now. And we weren't going to let any 3-piece-suit get in our way.

1. The Dr. Shapiro Phone Call. Before I start, I want to make sure everyone knows who Dr. James Shapiro is. He is the Director and Lead Researcher of the Edmonton Protocol in Alberta, Canada. They were the ones who refined the art of islet cell transplants. In other words, he is a Really Big Deal, definitely a contender for Coolest Diabetes Researcher Ever. I was 16 years old and had been running CureNow for about 2 months. I was on the phone with Dr. Furlanetto, VP of Research at JDRF, and he asked me if there was anyone in particular I wanted to interview. "Dr. Shapiro," I replied, thinking that reaching this Rock Star of a researcher at age 16 was a long shot. I was pipsqueak, a nobody in the diabetes community back then. He said he would look into it. A few weeks later, Mumzie picked me up from the library and informed me that I had a message from a doctor. I didn't know who it was, though I thought perhaps it was Dr. Shapiro, since he was the only one I was somewhat expecting. Mumzie didn't remember the name, but she said, "He's British." Well, I thought, Dr. Shapiro lives in Canada... I immediately listened to the message as soon as we got home.

"Hullo, this is Dr. James Shapiro calling for Allison Blass..." Oh. My. Freaking. God.

The way I was jumping up and down, you would have thought Brad Pitt had called me.

And, yes, we did do an interview. I have actually interviewed him three times. Twice for CureNow and once for Teen Talk. He's very nice. And he is from Britain.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Let the Countdown Begin!

This Friday is my 12th anniversary. In honor of that momentous occasion (ok, really I'm just looking for another excuse to draw attention to myself...), I'm doing a week-long Life In Review series where hopefully you'll get to know me even better (you don't have to say it, I can sense the excitement from here). I'm doing four Allison's Top 12 lists, and then a special post on Friday. Wheee! I'm excited. Are you excited?

My Top 12 Reasons Why I Don't Always Mind Having Diabetes

12. I laugh when people complain about the flu shot.

11. At school, I can say I'm "high" and not get in trouble. Come on, who didn't like casually mentioning you were "high" last night in front of all your friends and your teacher. If nothing else, it just sounds funny. Go on, say it. In public. I dare ya.

10. "Legitimate" reasons for skipping gym class. Not that I ever did such a thing...

9. I can lecture people about why the Atkin's Diet is a crock and people believe me. Honestly, don't you just want to take the people who say "Carbs are eeee-velle!" and just smack them?

8. Diabetes camp is better than non-diabetes camp. Trust me, I've been to both. Diabetes camps have a much stronger sense of comradery and there is a bond between children with diabetes that just never fails to amaze me.

7. I can use big words like "ketoacidosis" and "hyperglycemia" and sound smarter than I really am. I bet you'd never guess that I flunked 10th grade and actually have an IQ of 79.

6. The Never-Ending Guess Game as to what my pump is. Best guess: Walkie-talkie. Runners up include: pager, cell phone and MP3 player. I wish! It's funny. People amuse me greatly.

5. Free stuff! Granted, it's all diabetes-related, but I've never paid for a glucose meter, publishing companies send me copies of diabetes books (so far I've received Think Like a Pancreas, Conquering Diabetes, and Yes I Can! Yes You Can!) and the Australian rock band Brother sent me their CD Urban Cave (which is uber cool).

4. Having an Insta-Friend when you meet someone else with diabetes. It's like that saying "A Stranger is a Friend you haven't met yet." A "Stranger with Diabetes is a Best Friend you haven't met yet." I have met so many awesome people over the years with diabetes. And without diabetes (::waves to the Parents::). I think Diabetes does something to the people it affects to make them cooler. Or maybe it's just me.

3. I can talk about myself for long periods of time without seeming self-absorbed. I mean, you're reading this blog, aren't you? And you see that Wall of Shameless Self-Promotion over there? Apparently people actually like listening to me. Seems I'm "educational." I spend literally hours and hours a week talking about my life experiences and what I think about anything and everything and somehow, people are still talking to me. Amazing.

2. I'm inspirational for just being me. I didn't ask to become a diabetic/PWD. I didn't wake up one morning and decide to have a chronic illness to prove to the world how mature/smart/caring of a person I am. I'm just living my life, one day at a time, trying to make the best out of the situations I'm given. Sometimes I'm a royal mess. Sometimes I kick butt. But we all do it. In our own special way. I think the key to being inspiring is not to try to be Unique or Wonderful, but just to Be. Not to go all Oprah on you, but I think as long as you try to Live Your Best Life, everything else will take care of itself.

And the number 1 reason why I don't always mind having diabetes is...

1. I'm saving the world. I mean, come on...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Quickie

  • Check out the newly updated Wall of Shameless Self-Promotion! Listen to me on Janis Roszler's Jump Start to Good Health on January 29 and for those in the Portland, OR area, you can Meet Me on April 8th at the Children's Diabetes Seminar's Teen Seminar (which I will be going to assuming I don't have any tests or quizzes that Monday). More details about the April 8th seminar will be coming soon. This is an Open Event that anyone can come to - and there will be lot of people there so Potential Stalkers: Back off! I've also included some old articles and interviews that I've done over the years. These are just the ones that happen to be available online.
  • There is an open-ended survey on the OC Website about how I can improve the OC services. Please take a look at some of my questions and let me know what you think. Thanks in advance!
  • I visited the campus CDE and she gave me a new Freestyle Flash, which I will be using as soon as I can figure out if I can get my insurance to pay for a whole new set of strips. Seeing as how I currently have 15 unopened boxes of BD test strips, this might take some negotiation.
  • I told Tina about everyone's comments, which she thinks is funny! She says, "I would feel so bad if something happened!" Nice to have peeps looking out for me.
  • I currently am in the throes of The Hobbit. I need to finish it by tomorrow. 100 pages! EEEK! Better get crackin'!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Sweet Life

Tonight, Tina, a girl who has just moved into The House, and I paid a visit to Sweet Life, a popular and delicious bakery a couple miles away. Tina has been on a strick "Chocolate Only Every Four Days" diet and today was her day to splurge. I told her about Sweet Life and the rows of pastries: eclairs, creme brule, lemon bars, brownies, cookies and tarlets. The slices and whole cakes of tiramisu, chocolate silks, berry pies and cheesecake.

If there is a Heaven on Earth, this is it (providing your insulin pump is fully locked and loaded with enough insulin to kill a large horse).

Tina and I gorged on Mixed Berry Cheesecake and Chocolate Turtle Pave (chocolate cake mixed with walnuts and topped with caramel syrup). I bolused 12.8 units - enough to cover 90 carbs. It's been almost an hour and I've clocked in at 174 (although we all know that's debatable). Not too bad, but I'm gonna keep an eye out.

Driving home, I could feel the cake sitting like a rock in my stomach. If I jumped in a lake, I would plummeted straight to the bottom.

"Ugh. I think I can actually feel my blood sugar rising," I joked.

Tina turned to me, concerned. "Oh yeah, was this okay?"

"It's fine," I replied. "I just took a ton of insulin. It'll be okay." She nodded, and there was a brief pause.

"If we're ever together and something should happen, what should I do?" Tina asked.

This question floored me. I was at a loss for words. I honestly could not believe someone had ASKED what they should do to help me with my diabetes. I explained to her how a low works and that if I couldn't get the soda or juice myself, that she would need to do it for me.

"Would it be helpful if I kept something in my car?" she asked. Again, the words vanished from my head.

"Uh, yeah, that would great," I replied. I explained that usually I have something with me or if we are at the mall we can just get something from the food court. But to have something in the car in case we are too far away from a 7-11 or restaurant and I am too low to wait is great.

Having a friend who actually gives a damn, even better.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Can I Please Throw My Meter Out the Window?


I promise to throw it really hard so it's a quick death and it won't hurt.

OK- perhaps I should start at the beginning. Lately, I have been feeling that my meter (a BD meter that is connected by radio frequency to my pump, so theoretically Very Cool) is lying to me. Bald-faced lying. It's really quite irritating because this little pip-squeak of technology is one of two things keeping me from croaking off at an early age.

So it's quite lame.

Anyhow. I've always thought I was uniquely sensitive to my lows. I'm talking ridiculous uniquely sensitive. Why is that? I can feel low as high at 85. Sometimes even 88 or 89. I always thought my body was just nice and liked to tell me when it was about to bottom out.

"Body to Allison, you're plummeting at a rate of 5 mg/dls per minute- Go Do Something!"

I have come to respect my body for this kindly consideration. However, lately I've been feeling doubt about my Ridiculously Uniquely Sensitive condition. Why is this? my Fine Blogging Friends may ask. Well, last week while home on Christmas break, I was in bed, getting ready to fall asleep when I get the Odd Sensation that something might be amiss. So I get up and trott downstairs and tested my blood sugar. At first, it registered at 101. And I thought, "Well, that can't be right." My hands were trembling slightly as I popped off the test strip bottle. So I tested again. Clocked in at 87. I thought, "Well, okay. That's a little bit more in the range of when I feel low."

But then I noticed my little Back-up Meter that I brought along, just in case. It is an Lifescan Ultra. I pop open the case and test. Little Ultra says, "Sorry hon, you're 50."

Huh? 50? Me? The girl who doesn't remember hitting below 60 in the last 4 months. But the strange thing: I felt really low. Not just kinda-sorted-shaky-out-of-sorts low, like I usually feel. I'm talking Falling-Face-Down-in-Cereal low. Requisite juice and raiding of the snack drawer was in order, seeing as how it was 12 a.m.

The next day: Went low again. Tested, per usual. Rang in somewhere in the upper 70s. Double checked with our friend Little Ultra. 68. Huh.

I've done this on two other occassions. Once, when BD told me I was 230, and Little Ultra said I was 207. Another time, BD told me I was 97. Little Ultra concured with a 97. And now, tonight. Just now. I tested on BD: 180. I tested on Little Ultra: 265. Who to trust? Who do I high bolus off of? I'm so confused!!! You have now entered Frustration City.

Now, I have some theories. The first being: all meters have discrepancies and there is no way to tell which one is truly the accurate one. BD might be dead-on, while Little Ultra aim is skewed. Little Ultra could be right, while BD is leading me astray. Second theory: The Little Ultra strips are expired. They expired last March. Does this have anything to do with the children arguing? Perhaps? Third theory: I have a bad batch of strips for the BD and this will simply pass and regulate itself once I open another set. But I've been noticing this trend for months now (feeling one way and getting a result that doesn't quite match up).

My question to you, my Fine Blogging Friends (and Resident Lurkers): Do you have any experience with the accuracies of glucose meters? Have you found one that gives better readings than others? Do you think either of my theories are legitimate or am I just over-thinking things? Is this just one of those Mysteries we must all deal with in our daily lives of diabetes management?

I still feel my lows. But I no longer know if the number I'm used to associating as my threshold is accurate anymore, it's a bit scary. Any ideas? Tips? Suggestions?

It's just a little pip-squeak of technology, but it's making me doubt my entire health. Stupid piece of [enter expletive here].

Monday, January 09, 2006


Between being handed a tag by Ryan Bruner and the indecisiveness of Lyrecha and E, I've decided to post my Top 5 Most Random Things About Allison, because, well, I WANT to.

So there.

Randomness #1: I have never had a boyfriend. I know. I don't get it either. Honestly, I haven't found myself wanting to date very many people that I know, and the people I do want to date, well, don't want to date me. But it's funny, whenever I tell people about my Singledom, they always says, "But you're so pretty! You're so nice! ::pause:: Well, guys your age are jerks anyway, you might as well just wait until you're like 25." With that kind of reaction, am I supposed to be inclinded towards spending copious amounts of time with the opposite sex?

Randomness #2: I can't remember sound. Well, that's partially true. I have very poor sound retention. My memories are mostly silent. I can remember lyrics, but not the music. I can remember a fact that someone said, but I rarely can remember them saying it. I can remember seeing people, and I can remember having conversations about certain topics, but I can only play little tidbits of the actual conversation in my head. Going to concerts are pointless, because I can never remember what was played. I remember who was there, what it looked like, how much fun I had while I was there. But the songs? I can only remember if I'm listening to the song. Don't ever ask me "Do you know this song?" unless you can play me the song. Because the answer is no.

Randomness #3: I want to adopt a child. When I was 13, I watched a special on adoption on Oprah. I wanted my mother to adopt, but then I figured out that probably wasn't going to happen. So I decided I would adopt, and I've wanted to ever since. I'm not opposed to giving birth, I just really REALLY want to adopt. I like the idea of taking a child and giving it a home and love. Every child deserves that.

Randomness #4: I was baptized on a Thursday. I didn't grow up Christian and I came to the faith on my own towards the end of high school and beginning of college. The summer after my freshman year, I decided I didn't want to go back to school until I had been baptized. So I drove down to the community church I attended for one month during my senior year in high school and asked to be baptized. When the secretary asked me when, I told her August 19, 2004. It was a Thursday. I picked Thursday because I wanted a day to be My Day, and not Me and Everyone Else in Church.

Randomness #5: I have met people in Real Life that I met on the Internet. I know, I'm crazy. They have all been awesome experiences too. When I was 13, Deirdre and I met online through Girl's Life magazine. We were in D.C. with our families at the same time the following summer and we met at the Lincoln Memorial. In 2004, I flew back East and I stayed with her for a week. Also, when I was 13, I met Ashleigh from Georgia. She had a Christian e-zine and we stayed in touch for years. I flew to Georgia in March 2005 and stayed with her at her college for a week. When I was 15, my mom and I flew to Minnesota to meet two more girls that I met online through a fan club for actress Scarlett Pomers, from the WB show REBA. I'm terribly sad I can't go to Boston in March (dratted school!) because I would love to meet some of you. However, I will be going to the CWD Orlando conference, and I hope some of you will be there as well!

Honestly, I can't think of anyone who hasn't been tagged, so if you're just DYING for a chance to show the world how random you are, knock yourself out.

Edit: You're it, AmyT! ::smack::

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It's A.... Website?

Heather and I are pleased to announce the birth of our very own Website!

Diabetes Teen Talk was born January 9, 2005 at 12:00 EST.

You can find out more by visiting Diabetes Teen Talk.


In all seriousness, folks, Diabetes Teen Talk, an online community for teens with diabetes, has just been launched. I'm very proud of this website, and I'm excited to hear what you think of it. The goal of this website is to educate and to inspire teens and to foster friendship among these D-Teens, who in some cases know no one else with diabetes. We have a message board and a chatroom (which we share with Diabetes Talkfest), a long list of articles and interviews with adults and celebrities with diabetes, diabetes experts and D-Teens.

Although it is geared towards teens, parents and adults should feel free to peruse the website. You won't find anything on how to raise your teen, but it might give you an insight into how they think and what they are going through.

I never had this kind of resource when I was growing up, but of course, I started the original Teen Talk over at Diabetes Portal when I was 17, so I suppose I created my own method for coping with being a D-Teen.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the website and please let me know what you think. I'm always open to ideas and suggestions for how to improve my work.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Because Love is always a good idea...

Reply to this post, and I'll tell you one reason [out of many] why I like/love/adore you.

Then put this in your own blog, and spread the love.

Peace, love & hope for a cure.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Endings and Beginnings

Don't worry, my Fine Blogging Friends, this isn't an "au revoir" post. Me? Get off my Soapbox? Ha ha, never!

There are just a few things that are Ending and a few things that are Beginning, and I thought I'd share them.

The End of: My Winter Vacation (::sniff::)

At the beginning of break, I posted my Big Plans. Let's see how they panned out.

Get a job (hopefully)

Finish Diabetes Teen Talk

Do lots and lots of PR work for DTT and for the OC (seriously, why are we not on dLife's website?)


Eat copious amounts of candy at the Candy House party (for the last 14 years, my friend Kayce's family has hosted a Candy House party where we decorate graham cracker houses with frosting and candy. More candy ends up in my stomach than on the house. I don't even try to keep my blood sugars under control while I'm there. A high is inevitable.

Shop shop shop

Write? Maybe?



Go to the endo and get my latest A1C (ahhhh. Scary!)

= 8/10 - Not too bad.

The End of: The Diabetes OC Blog Choice Awards

For this year at least. The Awards ceremony was last night and we had a great turn-out (though I'm sure it would have been larger had it not been the same night as the Rose Bowl. ::cough:: Dee ::cough:: Hey, who said that? Ahem.). The Winners list has been posted on the OC website, along with links. High-Fives to the Winners, Bear Hugs to all the nominees and a shout-out to everyone who voted! We had over 95 people vote, which was a lot more than I had expected. I was absolutely addicted to checking the results (as I am with my stat counter). I got giddy when I saw the numbers go up. It was such an amazingly close race in almost all of the categories, you have no idea! It was like watching the Presidential Race - who's it gonna be? Absolutely addicting.

The End of: The Interim Between Teen Talk and Diabetes Teen Talk

Teen Talk was my old website that I managed when I still worked for Diabetes Portal, Inc. As most of you know, it closed in September. Leaving me jobless and teens Teen Talk-less. Well, I've teamed up with a good friend of mine, Heather, to bring you Version 2.0. Diabetes Teen Talk, as it will now be known, features articles and interviews, a message board and a chatroom and it is the only website (that I know of) that is fully dedicated to providing TEEN-ONLY content.

I'm very proud of this website, and I think it's the best-looking website I've ever come up with (and, to be honest, I have very little to do with the snazzyness. That's all Heather.). You can see our gorgeous "Coming Soon" page by visiting Diabetes Teen Talk. The full site launches on Monday, January 9.

Who's excited?