September | 2014 | Charming Diabetes

September 2014 archive

drink your juice

Everything I Know About Diabetes I Learned From Watching Steel Magnolias

So Steel Magnolias was on TV last week. It’s been approximately forever since I’ve seen that movie, but I couldn’t help myself. Had to watch. After all, this classic is like an old amigo to me. It taught me everything I needed to know about Diabetes back in the day.  Maybe I’m partial because I’m from Nashville (Hello, Dolly!), or maybe it’s cuz I love the 90’s (ok I think it came out in ’89 but I saw it a million times in the 90’s),  but  seriously when I was first diagnosed, EVERYTHING I knew about Diabetes came from Steel Magnolias. To this day some of the lessons I picked up way back then ring in my head. And they also HAUNTED me for years! They day my youngest child turned 2, I celebrated because I could FINALLY stop worrying I’d end up like Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. Milestone Reached!! steel magnolias

#1. LOW BLOOD SUGAR MAKES YOU TWITCH: First up, that scene where they’re getting their hair done and Julia Roberts starts twitching and freaking out is, I always thought, Hollywood drama at it’s best. Psssshhh, that doesn’t really happen, I’d think to myself. That was until my blood sugar got low enough to twitch. Mayyybe it’s exaggerated a bit for dramatic effect in the film, but Don’t mess around people!  Low blood sugar (really low, 30ish) totally makes me twitch.  At the very least it can cause trembling and loss of coordination. And you can bet the first time it happened my mind went straight to poor Shelby from Steel Magnolias! Well, after I drank some juice and got my mind back, that is.

photo credit:

photo credit:

#2 LOW BLOOD SUGAR CAN MAKE YOU MEAN: Same scene at the hair salon. Remember how mean Shelby (Julia Roberts’s character, aka the-one-you-identify-with-the-moment-you-get-diabetes) is to her mom (Sally Field) when she’s trying to get her to drink juice?!! She tries to smack it away, and says no, and then Truvy (my girl Dolly Parton) tries to offer a cookie. Oh my! I put this one away in my memory bank as a Hollywood myth too–until, once again, Diabetes surprised me and I got all snappy when someone told my blood sugar must be low. On a side note–pointing out that a diabetic’s blood sugar when they’re acting a certain way is much like telling a woman she must be “hormonal” or “PMS-ing” in the middle of an argument—even if it’s true you probably shouldn’t bring it up. It WILL end badly for you.  It has only been a problem for me as I’ve gotten older, and had more extreme episodes of hypoglycemia. I’ve definitely been accused of being a bit more aggressive and irritable.

#3 JUICE IS BETTER. This one’s my fave. It’s my personal motto 🙂 It still rings in my head when I’m scouring the cabinets for cookies to treat low blood sugar. Juice is Better. Shelby, Baby, Drink Your Juice!

drink your juice, shelby

couldn’t stop myself..

#4 YOUR MOM SUFFERS TOO. Poor M’Lynn can’t even be excited for her daughter trying to have a baby because of the additional strain it might put on her. Ultimately she’s just like any other mother with a sick child would be: terrified. As someone who has diabetes I spend a lot of time making decisions about food, and exercise taking care of myself, and while those decisions don’t always end well, I’m the one in the driver’s seat. I feel like I’m the only one dealing with the consequences sometimes, but parents and those who love us deserve some credit too. Mothers of diabetics in particular have such an important and difficult job, watching over us, driving us to appointments, picking up medication, teaching us, loving us, supporting us, cooking for us, crying with us. As diabetics we do not suffer alone. I’ll step of my soapbox now, but go hug your mama!

#5 PREGNANCY AND DIABETES IS A MONSTER. I never really thought about what it might be like to deal with being pregnant and diabetic, until I watched Steel Magnolias with Diabetes!! And then I realized OMG it’s going to be horrible!! The reality is, there are so so many treatment options and working closely with your doctors to monitor your blood sugars and a handful of other factors can make it totally safe for most diabetics to have happy healthy pregnancies. But it’s not easy! It’s hard work, and all those hormones swirling around don’t make it any better. From managing cravings and extra insulin, to weight gain, to that round of morning sickness that happens right after you’ve taken insulin–it’s a beast. Totally worth it, obviously! But hard work, nonetheless.

#6 DIABETES WILL RUIN YOUR KIDNEYS. Yep, Shelby taught me all about how to fear dialysis and renal failure. Fortunately there is lots of hope these days for people with Type 1 diabetes. Treatment has come a long way, and insulin pumps and sensors can do so much to help keep blood sugars under control thus stemming the tide of adverse effects that can happen to your diabetic body over time. But let’s get real–the threat of damage to eyes, kidneys, feet, nerves, etc. is very, very real.

Time out, I better go check my blood sugar… Ugh. 146 mg/dL. I was hoping I could impress you all with a glowing 91 or something, but this is my real life. For the record, one day this happened…

blood glucose check


#7 YOU NEED AN EMERGENCY PLAN. That scene when *spolier alert* Julia Roberts collapses as her baby son crawls around her on the floor, only to die later, is one of my biggest fears as a mother with type 1 diabetes and young children. Aren’t the fears that have an actual basis in reality the worst? I know, I know, someone watched way too many movies as a kid. But as someone who has in fact had a low blood sugar episode where I blacked out I can tell you, it can sneak up on you. If you struggle with low blood sugars like I do, don’t be afraid to let people know, and let them know what your symptoms might be, so that if they get a confused phone call from you, they know to follow up. That exact scenario has saved my life, but that’s a story for another day.  Especially if you happen to be diabetic and an introvert, it can be difficult to put it out there to people in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re under a microscope or socially awkward, but find a way to talk to those closest to you, and let them know the specific steps they should take if you should have a dangerous low. If I have a busy work schedule, or a change in routine or activity, I am even more diligent about checking my blood sugars. My husband knows how to use a glucagon shot, and as soon as my kids are old enough they will too. Because nobody wants to go out like that. drink your juice Drink your juice!!   xo Sara

Yes, You Can

Let’s be honest, no matter how optimistic I am, this is a chronic illness. Day in, day out. It can be tough. There are days where I’m just like, “I Can’t”.

I can’t check my blood sugar again today.

I can’t handle this for the rest of my life.

I can’t do one more thing for my diabetes.

I can’t get up early to exercise today.

I can’t go through the drive through and NOT order fries.

I can’t write down my blood sugars.

I can’t deal with this right now.

I can’t pull out my meter and check my blood sugar in front of all these people.

I can’t do that with diabetes.

I can’t wear this pump with my bathing suit.

I can’t explain how much insurance frustrates me.

I can’t do math.

I can’t I can’t I can’t. Literally. I cannot. do. diabetes. for real.

Sometimes I just have to remind myself…




And if I can do it, so can you!

If I dig down deep, underneath all the excuses I make for myself, I know that I can do what needs to be done. All I have to do is look at a gorgeous sky like that to know that God knows what he’s doing. He has a plan and I am part of it, along with my faulty pancreas.

I read somewhere that if we all took our problems and threw them in a heap for everyone to see, we’d reach in and snatch our own up as fast as we could. Everyone has battles, Diabetes just happens to be mine.  I believe deep down that as much as I might hate it, God has equipped me to deal with it.

Because I know that I, for one, need to be reminded of this, I’m giving this one away as a FREE iPhone wallpaper!! The next time diabetes, or whatever challenge you might be up against, has got you down, you just have to pick up your phone and remember: YES, YOU CAN!

Go ahead and grab it now. Set your goals and do what needs to be done. Yep, You can do it!



Heart Coffee_Charming Diabetes

Diabetes from 6 am to 6:03

Here’s three minutes of my morning with Diabetes. And also a good explanation of why I don’t drink coffee, and why no one considers me a morning person.

Heart Coffee_Charming Diabetes

[While I check my Blood Sugar the wheels start turning]…

I need caffeine. We’re out of Diet Coke. They say Diet Coke is poison now, anyway. Coffee it is!

I can’t drink it black. Just. Can’t. Do. It. Milk, milk, where’s the milk. How much?  A 1/4 cup? that’s about 8 carbs. Sugar? why bother? wasting carbs. artificial sweetener? Oh do you want diabetes and cancer, too? Plus I don’t have any. I’ve heard Truvia’s good, I’ll have to check that out next time I’m at the store.

Ok so coffee with 1/4 cup of milk, 8 carbs. My blood sugar’s 116. 116? that’s kid of high for first thing in the morning. I wonder why? What was it last night? Oh I can’t remember. Did I write it down? 132. It was 132 last night. I wonder if I need to change an early morning Basal rate. I’ll have to check that later. OK so 8 carbs for coffee. I’m starving. I’ll have toast b/c I’m in a hurry. What bread do we have in the pantry? Oh the good stuff, but it has 29 carbs in one slice. Ok twist my arm I’ll eat the whole thing. And I should have some fruit. Bananas. Aren’t these like, the perfect food? I’ll eat half of that and save the rest for the girls’ cereal. That banana’s not huge. I’ll call it…11?  So 8 + 29 that’s 37, plus 11 that’s 48. Getting up there. No jelly on the toast today! Darn coffee. So 12 into 48…ok 10 would be 4.8 so let’s call it 3.8. Enter it into the insulin pump and…Pump says 4.0. So close! ok, 4.0 units.

Why do I have this disease if I am so bad at math? Way to throw down a challenge, God. I have a long way to go. What the, wait did I use 1/4 cup of milk? That’s not 8 carbs that’s only 3. Pssh.

Ugh. Brain, where are you when I need you? It’s too early. I need caffeine for this. Ok so 3 plus 29, was it? 32 plus 11 for the banana that’s only 43 carbs so I just took about half a unit too much. Which will mean low blood sugar before 10am if I’m not careful. 

Wait–is someone crying? Is that one of the girls crying? I’ve gottta go get her before she wakes up her sister. I better drink some of the coffee first, no way I’ll drink it all if it gets cold, which means I just took too much insulin. I really don’t like coffee.

Ok forget it. I’ll just chug this milk, eat the whole banana, and stop for a diet coke after I drop off the girls at school.  

Oh my gosh is the toast burning?! 


Can anyone out there relate to hectic carb counting mornings?! I’m really working on being more organized in the mornings so I don’t feel so scatterbrained. Coffee always throws me off! I want to be a coffee drinker. I want to be cool enough to enter a coffee shop and have a go-to drink that I love to order, but it just doesn’t work for me and my faulty pancreas.  I just can’t make myself drink it black, and any other way is just too complicated for me to bother with.

I’ve pretty much accepted that my morning diet soda is probably terrible for me, and I’m trying to kick the habit, but so far I’ve been unsuccessful in finding a carb-free replacement that gives me the caffeine I crave.  I also just read about a study showing that Diet Coke and artificial sweeteners can actually raise blood sugars, which I’ve never noticed.

What about you? What’s your A.M. beverage of choice? Have any of you ever experienced a rise in blood sugar after a diet soda? How do you bolus for coffee?! Leave me a comment and let me know!



The Beach with Diabetes and The ONE thing I can’t do without

Sometimes a girl just needs a vacation! And yet, sometimes when you have Diabetes planning and prepping for the vacation can be enough to need another vacation.

We decided to do a little stay-cation and check out St. Pete Beach last week. I should have been better about taking photos of the packing process for this! Next time, I promise. For now you’ll just have to take my word for it that I always overpack, and diabetes supplies are no exception.

My number one MUST HAVE for a beach trip: Ziploc Bags. The ziploc people do not pay me, so use whichever brand you like. Call it a Zipper Lock Bag if that helps. Whatever you do, make sure you have them for your beach trip!

The ziploc bags become sand + water free zones. The pump goes in the bag when I’m swimming or building sandcastles. If I have my phone, I’ll put that in the bag too. But I limit it to those 2 items because the more that goes in the bag the more sand will inevitably come with it.

The heat can affect insulin effectiveness, so I bring a thermal cooler bag along, too. Even without an ice pack in it, the thermal bag can stay in the shade and zipped up will keep the pump cool(er) when I’m not wearing it. If I lay out in the sun, I can even leave the pump connected and drop it in the cooler bag in the shade while I lounge, and the pump stays cool and dry. This has worked WAY better for me than what I used to do, which was the old wrap-it-in-a-towel-and-pray method. Pump issues on a beach trip with that method a few years ago made me step up my game!


I have this thermal thirty-one bag (in a different pattern). For the money, these bags are money!

thermal bag for the pump on beach days

photo cred:

I try to keep the Ziploc bags as clean as possible inside and out. If it’s a particularly rowdy day, and you have a sand throwing toddler like me, I’ve even been known to THINK about rinsing them out in the hotel after a long beach day and letting them dry so they’re ready to go again the next day. But usually I just bring lots of extras, it really just depends on how you feel about trying to reduce, reuse, and recycle while dealing with Diabetes and sand and toddlers.

When I pack, a stack of baggies goes right in with my diabetic supplies and I’m ready. Sunscreen, check. Bathing Suit, check. Insulin and Infusion sets, check, check. ZIPLOC baggies?!! check, check, check, check, check. The pump stays clean, moisture-free, and keeps working. Take it from me, having to get a replacement pump on vacation is less than relaxing.

Here are a few other little snapshots from the trip! Follow me on instagram @CharmingDiabetes to see more!

SunbathersDelight_CharmingDiabetes SunriseRun

I try to get up early for a run on at least a few mornings while on vacation. It let’s me see sunrises like the ones above, and more importantly, it let’s me enjoy my hammock time and vacation dessert-eating without stressing as much over blood sugars.



surreal dessert counter at Mazzaros in St. Petersburg, FL

I love the beach! St. Pete was great for that alone, but let me tell you what, only one thing rivals my love for the beach and that’s…my love for dessert! Do yourself a favor and if you’re ever anywhere near St. Petersburg, FL stop into Mazzaros. You won’t regret it!!



It’s Official!

Hey there, everyone! It’s official, this journey is underway.

I’ve had Diabetes for almost 20 years now (yikes) and for the longest time have really been searching for certain things online about Diabetes, and not finding them. I’ve wanted tips, honest advice, from a happy perspective–from a place of wanting to succeed at Diabetes and also wanting to be stylish, chic, and not too medical or serious. From a place of not being ashamed of Diabetes, but not having my life revolve around it either.

I was diagnosed on my 16th birthday, and having Diabetes as a teenager was not easy. I’ve been searching for a way to share what’s worked for me, and what hasn’t, so that someone out there like me, newly diagnosed and searching for answers, can find this and see a way to a full, happy life with Diabetes.

So this blog was born as a way to do all that. To add my voice to the Diabetes Blogosphere and in the process to challenge myself to take better care of myself and my disease, instead of pushing it into the background.

I’m also a mom now, which presents it’s own set of worries and challenges and fears and I’ll share more of that as I go.

So I hope you’ll join me as I share my successes and failures, while I try to charm the pants off my Diabetes with laughter, recipes, tips, tricks, desserts, distractions, letters, and more. I hope you’ll share your stories with me as well.

Comment here, or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you, whether you have diabetes or love someone who does. Let me know what your biggest struggle is right now with Diabetes. I’m not a doctor, but I do believe that there is power in sharing our stories with each other!

You can also find me on Instagram @CharmingDiabetes and Pinterest @saratallent  and read more about me over on the About Page.

Please hang in there with me as I get all the kinks of the new site worked out, all the pages filled out, and all the new site jitters out of my system! It’s a work in progress but I hope to have it all under control soon! Stay tuned!