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The Diabetes UnConference

The Diabetes Unconference happened this past weekend and I am not sure how to write about it with any sort of clarity. Since I left Las Vegas I have been thinking about the weekend nonstop. It was incredible but difficult to put into words.

Why was it so incredible? Here are a few of the reasons. 

1. I was a facilitator and able to help Christel in her vision of what the UnConference could be. And the rest of the facilitator team was amazing!

2. Most of the participants were people who I did not know which meant meeting a bunch of awesome new people!

3. Some friends I have only met online were there and we were able to give irl hugs!

4. Seeing old friends is always great and especially when they introduce you to new friends they met. And vice versa!

5. The safe space we all created and respected that allowed everyone to feel valued, respected, and welcomed. This gave people the comfort level they needed to share and listen and react and laugh and cry and swear and whatever else they needed to do.

6. No judgement.

7. Sitting at a table with someone who had never sat at a table with even one other PWD and now had 7 other people toasting to celebrate!

8. Being reminded that I am not alone and never will be again.

9. Almost 2000 years of people living with diabetes in the same room!

10. Vegas baby!

I wonder if any other patient group has done something like this before? I was honestly a little freaked out about how it would all turn out. Who would come? How does an UnConference work? Will people connect and share? Will they like it? 

Everything I hoped for it to be feels like an insult to what it actually was. 

Thank you to everyone who attended, the sponsors, the facilitors, Christel, and everyone who encouraged someone to attend.

I cannot wait until next years UnConference. 


Toenail Totem

“George we are going to help you up, do you think you can stand?”

“yeah, I think so.” I looked at this strangers face and noticed there were 4 other people in my room. Radios kept coming on which made me believe these must be paramedics.

“Okay, we are just going to walk you outside okay?”

“okay.” Nothing hurts. I can walk okay? Did I have a stroke? Did I have a heart attack? Is this a dream? This has to be a dream.

“Watch your step down and can you sit on the gurney?”

“yeah.” The red lights flickered all around my front door and at that moment I saw my children standing beyond the doorway looking out at me. They looked scared, tired, worried, helpless. This has to be a dream.

“Just swing your legs up and slide to the middle”

“Where is my wife?” As soon as I said it I heard her familiar voice.

“I’m here, I’m right here.”

“What happened?” As soon as I said it I could not wait for an answer. I couldn’t hold anything back. My sobbing drowned out what she said.

When I was in the back of the ambulance I heard my wife talking to the driver so I knew she was upfront. The paramedic in the back started asking me my name, my birthday, and how long I had diabetes.

For fear of a stroke or to prove to myself I was awake I spouted off every single fact I could pull out of my head. “George Scott Simmons. Born on March 23rd 1973 in Hollywood California. It was Friday. I have had type 1 diabetes for 23 years. I was diagnosed on October 2nd 1990. It was a Monday.”

They must have thought I was crazy.

“So why are your toenails blue?”

This was when I was sure I was awake. Like a totem from the movie Inception, those blue toenails were nothing I would ever dream up so I knew for sure this was real life.

“My nieces were painting their toenails over the weekend and I thought, what the heck. Go for it!”

That was when the paramedic started to tell me that I had a really bad low blood sugar that I could not come back from. That was when I noticed I had an IV in my arm and 3 Band-Aid’s on different fingers.

When we got to the hospital my wife started to explain the entire situation piece by piece to the doctor. It turns out she knew I was having a lot because I threw all of the covers off of myself and started to moan. She woke up and saw my sweating profusely. She came to my side of the bed, grabbed my machine, and had me sit up. She put a strip in my Verio meter and grabbed my hand to prick my finger. When she did blood streamed down my hand on a river of sweat.

She grabbed a hand towel and dried my hand and arm off. She squeezed the same finger and as soon as a drop of blood appeared it found a new river of sweat to travel down. She has never seen me sweat so bad and neither have I.

Finally she was able to check my bg. It was 37.

She grabbed a Level glucose gel and tore it open. She put it in my mouth and started to squeeze the gel into my mouth. She said I bit the end in my mouth and wouldn’t let any gel in. Not in a argumentative way but rather like I had no idea what I was doing.

She flicked my mouth and I opened up. She squeezed the whole thing in and when to get my daughter up to help. I swallowed the gel and lied back down.

My wife got my daughter up and asked her to make some waffles for me to eat. It was 4 in the morning and we usually add some waffles for some more carbs to last me through the morning. She popped in a couple of Eggo’s and my wife came back to check on me.

I was still sweating and out of it. She opened up another Level and squirted it into my mouth. She said I did not swallow it. I just left it in my mouth so she had to keep telling me to swallow it. Finally I did and just then my daughter came in with the waffles.

My wife put a piece of waffle on a fork and stuffed it into my mouth. She said I just sat there with the waffle in my mouth. Not chewing or reacting at all. Like I forgot what to do.

She grabbed another Level, took the waffle out, and squirted it in. Apparently I started leaning forward as if I was going to fall over. My wife got scared and told my daughter to wake my son up to help.

A ramekin full of regular syrup and about 8oz of regular soda were brought in by my son and daughter. My daughter put a straw in the soda to make it easier to drink. My wife said I looked at the straw, took it out of the glass, and stuck it on my finger to try and get blood out for another bg test. She said I kept squeezing my finger to try and get blood out even though she kept reassuring me she already got the drop she needed.

I drank the soda and swallowed down the syrup.

Still I was completely out of it. I could not talk and my family could tell I was not “there.” My wife grabbed the Glucagon shot and instantly was overwhelmed by the instructions. My son stood right in front of my wife’s face and said, “we need to call 911 mom.”

When the ambulance got there they came into my room, put an IV in my arm and checked my blood sugar.

The machine read 34. This was 40 minutes after this all started.

My son remembers them putting a bag of fluid in me via the IV and when it was done they started to stand me up. This marked the very beginning of my memory.

That is what scares me most. I remember nothing before when I started this post. Not a glimpse or flash of the story I heard my wife tell the ER doctor. None of it.

I kept waiting for a fog to lift like a night of too much alcohol. As soon as you hear the story flashes of memories start to trickle in. But this was and is so different.

I have nothing.

So we stayed in the ER until about noon on Sunday after my bg was stable. The nurse asked me why my toenails were painted blue. I told her the paramedics must have done it on the drive over.

My kids had followed the ambulance in my car and they stayed with me all morning. When we all got home we all passed out on the couch. Exhausted and drained we slept until 5pm.

I have never in my 23 years of diabetes had a low like that. I have had bad lows that take forever to come up. I have had some where I couldn’t walk or talk but I remember them. Even though they felt like a dream I remember what happened. But this was crazy.

Have you ever had a low like this? I cannot understand what made it so different. I have seen 34 on a machine before and been totally aware of what was going on.

More than anything I feel so bad for putting my family through all of this. It is not fair.

I pray I will never have another low like that ever again.


The Blogaversary Post

Since starting this blog back in 2006:

Pluto was demoted to a "dwarf planet"

Apple introduced the iPhone

Tu Diabetes is introduced to the DOC

2 Summer and 3 Winter Olympics happened

The United States have held 2 presidential elections

30 Rock debuted and ended

CGM became widely available

Twitter started

Night at the Museum 1, 2, and 3 were released in theaters

I have had 3 different insulin pumps, 2 CGM's, several different doctors, thousands of tweets during DSMA, 1 trip to the Friends for Life conference in Orlando, found and met my soul brother, discovered a community I cannot live without, had a kid graduate from high school, saw my wife acheive her master's degree, kept the same job, moved 3 times, got a cat, had 2 stents put into my heart, celebrated 2 new nieces and 2 new nephews, recorded an original song, and celebrated my 40th birthday.






New Year Post

The holidays were spent in a cough syrup fog and breathing treatment haze. Not the way I normally I like to spend the end of the year but so be it.

As I look ahead to 2015, I am hoping my involvement in the DOC will reach back to the level it used to be. Seminars, chats, blog posting, blog reading, and just being around was such a joy for me. Plus it kept me focused on my health so much more than I am without the DOC. 

I can probably find 100 posts that sound exactly like this one. Promises to be more involved, to remember every day how much this community means to me. Wishing to travel to conferences and meet up with my online friends. I write a post like this often. 

For me this is like quitting smoking. I must have quit smoking 50 times before I finally actually quit. Sometimes it takes talking yourself into something over and over before you actually pull it off.

Once my pastor said in a sermon, "everyone is a hypocrite when they are trying to change their lives. The key is to not focus on it and to rather continue on until you have become that changed person." I think about this a lot. 

So often I am critical of everything I do and everything I want to become. I have to remember that the stress of life like family, work, money, and diabetes can take its toll. Sometimes just saying we want to change can be the beginning of the change we need to make. 

That is where I am once again. This time may be the one that does it! 


All At Once

Over the last two week I missed lots of doctor's appointments.




Diabetesologist (my diabetes doctor is not an endo).

With the holiday and work being nutso, I had to cancel them all. It's tough to ask for all the time off for doctors appointments when you have to see so many. 

No one else in the office has medical needs like I do and it's almost embarassing to say "I have to go to the doctors." AGAIN!?

I wish I could take a day off and see them all but there is no way to coordinate a day like this since my doctors are all over town! Ultimately I know I have to get in to see them all. And all for very important reasons.

Having neuropathy in my feet makes the Podiatrist appointment a high priority. I have my wife look at my feet every night but there are some issues with the bottoms of my feet and bone structure that we are keeping an eye on. 

After the heart issue a few years back, seeing the Cardiologist is a high priority. I need to follow up and see when we need to schedule another stress test and EKG. Dad died of a heart attack at 42 and since that age is coming up for me in a few months, I am wee bit concerned. History repeats and genes and all that jazz.

Mine eyes have seen dialation only several months ago, but my optho saw a minor bleed she had not seen before, so she told to come back real soon to see if its bled more, this is high priority! (that didn't end as strong as I had hoped)

After getting an A1C at a terribly high number, and FINALLY getting a Dexcom sensor in me (thank you Sara!) I need to get in to see my doc. I also showed a high level of cortisol which my doctor is concerned about. He actually wants me to repeat he cortisol test again to be sure there is an issue. It may explain my insulin resistance. This is a high priority.

So what do you do? I have to work. I have to have a job. I cannot take a ton of time off. When these all are hitting at the same time I give up and cancel them all. It's too stressful thinking about it all. 

I think today I will call one at a time and schedule them out at least a week apart. I have to have room to breathe. Diabetes and caring for it can be so exhausting. 

Regrouping and coming up with a plan helps me to not get stressed out too much. 

No stress is a high priority!