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Arden's Day Blog

Arden's Day is a type I diabetes care giver blog written by author Scott Benner. Scott has been a stay-at-home dad since 2000, he is the author of the award winning parenting memoir, 'Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal'. Arden's Day is an honest and transparent look at life with diabetes - since 2007.

type I diabetes, parent of type I child, diabetes Blog, OmniPod, DexCom, insulin pump, CGM, continuous glucose monitor, Arden, Arden's Day, Scott Benner, JDRF, diabetes, juvenile diabetes, daddy blog, blog, stay at home parent, DOC, twitter, Facebook, @ardensday, 504 plan, Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal, Dexcom SHARE, 生命是短暂的,洗衣是永恒的, Shēngmìng shì duǎnzàn de, xǐyī shì yǒnghéng de

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Bold is my Favorite Word

Scott Benner

A long time ago on a Diabetes Facebook page that now seems far away...

The sky was always falling... Real conniptions were omnipresent... Shit was bananas... You name the panic, it was at the disco. We were ALL GOING TO DIE, like right now.

I am very happy to report that the sky is not falling and that we are all going to be fine. However, there was a time when you wouldn't have known that if you were a person looking for support (in some corners of the diabetes community), but that time seems to be changing more with each passing day. I couldn't be any more pleased to see it go or any happier to learn of what has replaced it. Maybe I should explain.

Living with diabetes requires support and finding that support online can actually be a huge and extremely helpful part of moving forward. There can however, be a downside; for example... What happens when you "arrive" online two days after the person that you are suddenly taking advice from? To you this well-meaning person seems sage like and you are apt to take their words as law. What happens when your new found guru is scared (as most rightfully are in the beginning) and at a loss for what to do next? Well, when they are afraid your understanding quickly aligns with theirs as it enforces your fear and uncertainty. That fear often imprints on you and all of your expectations and experiences going forward become tinted in that light. Now maybe you'll get lucky and log on while someone who is a little farther along the path is online and offering answers. In that situation the positive attitude and learnid experience that follow will lead you in a more positive direction. But what happens when twenty people offer their opinions in a thread and they all seem to be different - usually our minds will find truth in the feelings that we are currently experiencing. Basically, if the new person is scared, they follow the fear based answers and vice-versa. These initial interactions are, in my opinion, of vital importance especially early after diagnosis.

Many years ago I made it my personal goal to try and affect that part of our community. I thought that if enough newly diagnosed people felt empowered, understood insulin and began seeing positive outcomes sooner than expected, when it was their turn to give back to the community they'd begin from that position. I believe that when you have a bit of information, support, perspective and a reasonable yet positive expectation; you are well on your way down the path that leads to a healthier and happier life with diabetes.

Basically Instead of...

Q. I'm seeing mealtime spikes, what can I do?

A. Too bad sister, that's diabetes. You're screwed.

I was hoping for...

Q. I'm seeing mealtime spikes, what can I do?

A. Have you tried to pre-bolus? Tell me more about the starting BG when you ate. Don't worry this is easily fixed by understanding how insulin works - you're going to be fine!

I wanted to change the perception that all is lost and there is no way out because I don't believe that and it is simply not true. In my experience the sooner you have a meaningful direction supported by actionable facts, that sooner things will be okay again.

So I began to write blogs about ignoring fear, I talked more openly about how we manage, how insulin works and taking more control in endo appointments and while your children are sleeping and in school. I wanted people to have a chance to begin at the end. I thought this was possible because (do you want to hear a secret?)... largely confidence is one part preparedness and one part pollyanna. All you really need to begin to live well with type 1 is the facts and someone to stand on the other side of the room cheering for you with blinding encouragement. Recently I've begun to notice that those private Facebook groups that I spoke about are trending toward "yes you can and here's how" and getting away from, "dig a hole and climb in - you're cooked". There has even been a severe reduction in the posts that are designed to draw in people who are struggling so everyone can commiserate in a way that allows for them to give up. When giving up feels (and has been assured by others) like the only path left, struggles will follow. There is nothing wrong with a good cry once and a while but after that, back up, keep going, find a better answer than the one you currently have and put it into practice.

Of all of the things that I've tried I am particularly proud of a few Juicebox Podcast episodes that I see people talking about online. Every time that I see someone saying that they are being 'bold with insulin', my heart warms in ways that you can't imagine. 

So thank you if you've been part of ignoring the fear and being bold and for sharing your strength instead of your anxiety, you are shaping a community that will help to form a new generation of what people living with diabetes expect from their lives. Happy Diabetes Awareness Month!

Listen to the Juicebox Podcast on: itunes/ios - google play/android - iheart radio -  or your favorite podcast app. subscribe today!

Arden's Nine Year Diaversary

Scott Benner

On this very date, some time after midnight in 2006, I remembered something that I meant to say to my wife Kelly but forgot to earlier in the day. Arden was two years old, we were on a family vacation and she had been very sick for days. Our family was gathered around a table playing a board game late at night, Arden was sleeping on Kelly's lap.

"Arden’s breath smells funny, metallic or maybe sweet..."

Moments after I spoke those words, all sense of joy left our world. A few hours later Arden was diagnosed by an ER doctor with type 1 diabetes. 

One year later as the anniversary of that night approached, I started writing on the Internet about my life as the father of a child who lived with type 1. I posted my first blog at 3 am. I spoke in that first post of a high BG that was over 220 and I talked about that number like it wasn't really that high. Back then our diabetes technology consisted of a small meter and not much else, I was scared, our technology was lacking and 220 seemed safe as she slept. Safe in the short term that is.

Much thankfully, has changed since then...

Tonight Arden is sleeping in her bed, BG is 78 and steady. I'm bumping it up before I go to sleep with a short temp basal decrease on her Omnipod, I'd like to have it at 95 before I finish writing this. I'm watching her blood sugar in real-time on my iPhone at the moment. Again, much has changed in nine years, no more sneaking into rooms like a vampire.

My daughter has had type 1 diabetes for nine years and I've been sharing my life as her father for eight of them. I've seen this blog help many families and I have a sincere hope that it will help many more. Arden has always been generous and allowed me to share my experiences without reserve. Aside from the occasional request to leave out a detail, she lets me tell my story in the hopes that something we have learned or lived through may help you. I got my joy back years ago and I don't want you to be without yours for a second longer than you have to be. I believe very much that community support in all its forms, is key to finding balance and recapturing the joy you felt before diabetes arrived.

But my story is her story and she's made a request...

Arden no longer wants this blog to be adorned with a header image that depicts her as a four year old. A reasonable desire, I'm sure you agree. She made this small request at the beginning of 2015 and since then I've been working with an artist that I love to replace the art that is at the top of the blog, on Facebook, Twitter as well as my social media badges. The banners, profile images and Juicebox Podcast cover art are nearing completion and should begin popping up in the coming weeks. The artist has created a representation of that sweet picture of a four year old Arden, the one in the yellow top, that is reminiscent of the original. It was my goal for current readers to be reminded of that image and for new readers to not see Arden as a four year old.

Moving forward my goal for this blog and my new podcast remains the same as ever. I'll live my life as well as I can and when something happens that I believe would help you to live yours, I'll share it here and on the podcast (Which you guys are being so supportive of... thank you!). A podcast, a lot really has changed in nine years.

By the way, Arden's BG is now 98. I temp basal'd that low away like a champ... but then I've had nine years to practice.

Until there is a cure, I'll be here if you need me.

Diabetes Blog Week Day 1: I Can...

Scott Benner

I can...

Diabetes Blog Week begins on Monday, May 11 and runs until May 17. The day one writing prompt is, "I can...".

I realized last week while talking to the creator of Diabetes Blog Week, Karen Graffeo for the Juicebox Podcast that I can help people in the diabetes community that want to share their thoughts during blog week... but don't have a blog.

With that in mind - If you are a person who lives with diabetes, or you love someone that does and you don't have a blog... I'm excited to offer Arden's Day as a way for your words to find their way into the community. 

If you are interested in publishing your diabetes blog week writing on Arden's Day contact me by email and we'll make arrangements for your post to be featured during blog week.

I can help the diabetes community to grow...

My conversation with Karen Graffeo is available now on the podcast. You can listen to the Juicebox Podcast here, on iTunes or with your favorite podcast app. Karen's episode started out as a conversation about Diabetes Blog Week but quickly grew into a discussion about what it was like to be a child with type 1 diabetes over thirty years ago. I think you'll love hearing Karen talk about growing up with type 1 diabetes, how she imagined blog week and much more.

Share your life with diabetes today. Your transparency will help others in ways that you can not imagine. You can find out more about blog week and add your name to the participant list here.

The Importance of the Diabetes Community

Scott Benner

This is the second in a series of five pieces that I wrote for Omnipod's Suite D blog. Part three is live on Suite D now and will arrive here next month.

It's a paid freelance gig, you can read my disclaimer about that on part one of the series (link below), 

Part 2: Finding Support

My bedroom was pitch black and the house completely silent. It was well after three in the morning and I hadn’t been to sleep. My belief that my daughter Arden’s blood sugar would rise to a safe level was tenuous that evening so I was watching over her even more than usual.

When I fall asleep the likelihood of me waking up when I need to is slim. So on nights like this one I tend to just stay up. This night happened before we became continuous glucose monitor users and I would periodically walk from my room to hers to check her blood sugar. Each time I climbed back into bed, I became a little less certain that I could stay awake. Because my wife was sleeping I was trying to stay still, my eyes were sore from a long day that was getting longer. I had to stop watching television on my laptop, because it felt like there was sand in my eyes. I was exhausted, bleary-eyed and pretty sure that I was about to nod off – so I opened my Twitter app and, perhaps out of desperation to stay awake or maybe in an effort to not fall apart, I told who ever may be out there what was happening.

A few silent minutes later, I received a response from a woman whom I’d never met. She told me that she was also sitting up watching a blood sugar that she didn’t quite trust. That was it really. We didn’t talk much or offer one another solace. It was sort of a, “I’m here doing this thing and it’s getting the best of me.” And a reply that basically said, “Me too.”

I closed my laptop, the abyss of the night enveloped me and I began to sob tears of relief.

I was buoyed by the notion that there was another person in the world that was doing what I was and suddenly everything felt better. I learned that night that it isn’t the diabetes that made me feel alone and it wasn’t the darkness that caused me to want to reach out; I was being oppressed by the feeling that no one understood our life.

And just like that, with a tweet, I found sameness with someone that I couldn’t see, hear or touch. My diabetes community expanded. No longer would I have to wait for a JDRF walk to talk to a person who understood my life. Supportive glances, understanding words and the satiation that sameness brought, they were all I needed to feel recharged. Support came that night, but not in the form of mentorship or advice. This wasn’t a plan for counting carbs or talks of how to best prep a pump site. It was simple, beautiful and kind. A brief encounter with a person who had walked in my shoes and reassured me that I was not alone.

I’ve learned diabetes jargon, gathered information about insulin pumps, medications and ways of handling type 1 diabetes from the diabetes community. They’ve taught me with their openness to be comfortable with others being my rock when I can’t do it for myself. With the help of these wonderful new friends I began to see a light at the end of a tunnel, I was beginning to believe that it was possible for us to find our way back to feeling normal.

Read 'The Importance of the Diabetes Community Series
Part 1: How it Saved Our Family
Part 2: Currently Reading
Part 3: Coming in April
Part 4: Coming in May
Part 5: Coming in June

Feel what it’s like to wear the OmniPod – with no obligations. Click here to order a free Demo today.

The Importance of the Diabetes Community

Scott Benner

For those of you who are new to Arden's Day...

I do a little freelance writing some times. Once a year I write a series for Insulet, the company that makes the Omnipod insulin pump. It is no secret that when I'm paid to contribute articles the company paying me is hoping that my blog readers will checkout their blog, site, products etc. Hopefully they also like my writing, but I digress. 

When I negotiate my writing contracts I always push to be able to repost what I've written here on Arden's Day. There are two reasons for that. 1. I don't want you to feel pressure to visit another site and 2. I don't want to hand in less than my best work in an effort to keep the 'good stuff' for Arden's Day, and for you. This way it's all the 'good stuff' and you can read it where you'd like. Alllllllll that said, this is the first in my five part series on the Diabetes Community. It ran on Insulet's Suite D blog one month ago (I have to wait a month to post here). Part 2 is up now on their blog as well, you can read it on Suite D or wait until next month and I'll repost it on Arden's Day. One last word on this. While I am paid to write for Insulet, it's not nearly as much money as you may be imagining and besides, there is no amount of money that could make me pass information or sentiments to you that are anything less than my 100% real feelings and experiences. This blog, our community and the responsibility that I feel toward you all means too much to me for anything like that to every happen. I just love the Omnipod and am happy to tell people about it. And you know what? Good on Insulet for letting me repost here, they couldn't have been thrilled when I made that request. 

Part 1: How it Saved Our Family

When my daughter Arden was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006, our family was violently thrown into a world that we didn’t understand. The days, weeks and months that followed were full of endless sadness, fear and moments that hindsight would later tell us we could have handled much better.

I’m choosing to share my largest diabetes misstep from that time in our lives, because it led me to what may be the most valuable discovery of my adult life. This is part one of my five-part series about community and how it will save, support, teach, improve and transform your life with diabetes.

I should have sought out other people who understood our struggles, I should have found community. Too many of the decisions I was making were informed by speculation that was fed by an often self-imposed and largely unnecessary fear.

What I needed was support and wisdom, but instead I hid from the world and, in doing so, created a vacuum that was not conducive to living well. Had I found other people living with diabetes sooner, they could have shown me what I now know, but took much too long to discover.

Arden and Kelly at our first JDRF walk, two months after diagnosis.

Arden and Kelly at our first JDRF walk, two months after diagnosis.

My first experience meeting other people from the diabetes community was at our local JDRF walk. The walk we attend goes through a park full of winding paths, steep hills and majestic scenery – countless thousands of people all moving forward in love and support of one another.

At some point during the morning Arden needed insulin. We had just stepped off the path so others could pass when I realized that pausing our life to give Arden insulin didn’t seem in any way noteworthy to the people passing by. And then it hit me.

Everyone here has or loves someone who has diabetes. They don’t look scared and their faces don’t reflect the sadness that I feel. We were suddenly and beautifully surrounded by people whose lives weren’t being defined by diabetes. It was right then that I began to believe that diabetes wasn’t always going to permeate every second of our lives.

To this day I believe that the most beneficial aspect of what the JDRF provides is the opportunity to find sameness. If those walks didn’t produce a dime for research, I would still be there each year just to spend a little time around people who understand. Each year when I walk, my greatest hope is that someone who is feeling as I once did will see our faces and think, “I’m not alone. Those people look happy – we can be happy too.”

Community can take many forms and often the support you need can’t wait for a moment that can be found in real life – you may need the community to come to you. Luckily, the diabetes community is one of the most well-represented patient communities online. There are so many different ways to find kind, helpful and present people who would love nothing more than to help you believe that living well with diabetes is a tangible goal. These people have walked the path that you are on – they know the shortcuts. They write blogs, take the time to lend an ear on forums and give their best advice on Facebook pages. You haven’t been hugged until you’ve been hugged virtually by a stranger whose only desire is for you to not feel alone. Now that’s support!

Read 'The Importance of the Diabetes Community' Series
Part 1: Currently Reading
Part 2: Finding Support
Part 3: Coming in April
Part 4: Coming in May
Part 5: Coming in June

Feel what it’s like to wear the OmniPod – with no obligations. Click here to order a free Demo today.