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Posts Tagged ‘diabetes’

Halloween with Diabetes : Distract and Decorate!

Ok so Halloween (aka the Major Sugar High Holiday) can be kind of frustrating when you have diabetes. It’s hard to play cool and participate in an event like trick or treating, where you have to stock every corner of your house with candy, (because honestly, who wants to be the raisin lady) and then exercise every ounce of willpower to avoid certain death. Ok, yes, I have insulin, but seriously if I didn’t, certain death would not be an exaggeration. At the very least it’s a couple of days of high blood sugars.

When the whole premise of a holiday is based around candy, and you have an autoimmune disease that makes you the Anti-Candy (there’s a costume that needs to be made! Worst superhero ever!), and you’re trying to teach your kids healthy habits, and you also really LOVE Halloween, and you DON’T LOVE certain death, Halloween can be hard, dammit!

So, every year, I try to be prepared…with distractions. I’m a big Dia de Los Muertos fan, so I try to incorporate some of those traditions to take the focus off of candy, and then of course there are costumes, and then it’s decorate, decorate, decorate. I turn my attention to the pumpkins. And of course when all else fails and the snickers are yelling at me to eat them, I try to make sure I stay calm and bolus properly. I also leave my wrappers out, so that I can keep a visual of how many of those little bite size devils I’m taking in!

So back to the distractions…Man I love to carve a pumpkin. My husband and I always carve at least one each, and since we’re not the least bit competitive (ahem. nope, only friendly pumpkin carving here. no sarcasm either), sometimes we end up doing a few.

That said, we live in FL, where we have to time our carving perfectly bc those things will rot in a day or two, so I’m always looking for other things to do with pumpkins earlier in the month since the carving has to be last minute. Since we also have kids, and letting them play with knives is not high on the list of trophy parenting games, and also because you may not love the goopy gloppy all day mess of pumpkin carving like I do, I’m presenting you with a list that has plenty of  no-carve pumpkin inspirations as well!

Enjoy! diy pumpkins charming diabetes

Donut Pumpkins from Studio DIY

succulent pumpkin

succulent pumpkin from Simply Happenstance

black and white pumpkins

black and white paint pen pattern pumpkin from Lovely Indeed

gold foil pumpkins

Gold leaf pumpkin from The Every Girl

pumpkin lanterns

Lantern Pumkins! from Design Love Fest

pumpkin puns

and one more from Studio DIY because these PUN-kins are just the best!

There are a few others I’m coveting over on my pinterest board. So if you need some more inspo, head over and pin with me!

Happy carb counting, candy eating (if you choose to accept that challenge), and pumpkin-ing!



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Pump Site Supplies to help you site last longer | Charming Diabetes

Keep Your Pump Site Longer In Summer Weather

Summer! I love almost everything about summer. In fact, living in Florida I don’t even have to deal with winter much, and I like it that way. I’m all about humidity, palm trees, and flip flops.

Diabetes in warm weather, however, can add a whole new dimension to the way I think about summer. Between the heat and frequent trips to the pool/beach, it can be tough to keep an insulin pump site dry and in place for as long as I’d like. Let’s face it, I’d like to be able to go more than a day or two without having to change it, especially given my less-than-stellar insurance plan (cue the small violin). And I’d really like to stop living in fear of the swimming pool knowing that the flimsy tape holding in my lifeline could loose it’s stick and fall off at any moment!

Seriously. I HATE the peeling tape. After countless summers full of what would have been sad face emojis 🙁 at every pool party back in the day, here’s what I’ve found most helpful. These are a couple of tips that have worked for me keep my insulin pump site in place through the water-sporting, humid, fry an egg on the sidewalk, dog days of summer. As with everything else on this site, this is not medical advice, this is just what works for me. Maybe it’ll work for you too, but talk to your own doc or health care provider about what’s best for you 🙂

Keep your pump longer

1. use alcohol swabs to clean your site before inserting

2.  IV Prep (or if you need hard core stick, Mastisol Liquid Adhesive) –these make the skin a little sticky and provide a barrier to help adhesive irritation. If you use these, an adhesive remover is not a bad idea because if the adhesive skin prep is working properly, the tape will be tough to remove once you’ve used it. If you don’t have an adhesive remover on hand, baby oil can work wonders.

3. Site Placement Is EVERYTHING! I wear a medtronic pump, and typically place sites low on my stomach or around my waistband area. The problem with summer is that these places have a tendency to be closer to clothing and, well, get sweatier. If you’re using a cordless pump like an omnipod, this might not be as big of an issue as you can use a spot like your arm (which honestly may or may not be better? I don’t wear and omnipod so I can’t say for sure).

For summer, I place the pump high on my torso..like, basically my back. I go as far back as I can comfortably reach just under my rib cage. I thought it would be insanely painful, and it took me a while to work up to trying it, but I was running out of real estate and needed some new sites to avoid scar tissue build up from using the same old areas over and over. It’s now one of my fave spots. Not only does it interfere less with my clothing (fewer accidental rip outs with waistband movement), but in general the site stays put much easier, for much longer, without tape issues.

pump site placement | charmingdiabetes.com

yep, just posted my torso on the internet. proof that diabetes causes insanity.

4. Anti-Perspirant. Yep. (Not Deodorant.)  It needs to be an antiperspirant-only spray (cannot be a gel or cream), and you spray it on the skin before inserting your infusion set. The antiperspirant acts to keep your skin dry, thus the site can stick better.

5. Tegaderm on the skin under the infusion set.  This is where the Tegaderm tape goes on the skin first, and you insert the infusion set through the Tegaderm.  This way the site is sticking to Tegaderm, not your skin. Less moisture, less chance for it to come off.  You can even add another layer of tape on top of the site if you’re feeling particularly industrious.

6. On those days where you know you’ll be swimming or in the water, if you’re site is in good shape use extra tape or a waterproof bandaid to cover it. If your site is already peeling, and you attempt to place more tape on top, it could end up pulling your site out all together. If your site is already peeling or loose, I use extra tape to the spot where it’s peeling instead of over the whole site, and then pray for the best. On swim days I always make sure I have a back up infusion set on hand just in case.

Here’s a pin so you can save the list for later!

Pump Site Supplies to help you site last longer | Charming Diabetes


Those are my best tips and tricks. What do you do to keep your sites dry and help them last through the summer heat and water sports?!

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Diabetes Birthday (and 4 warning signs you probably shouldn’t ignore)

Ok, so everyone with Diabetes has one: a Diabetes Birthday. That fateful day when they were diagnosed. If you’ve got Type 1 and were diagnosed as a young child, you may not remember it.  If you’re old enough to remember it, it is definitely one of those Before-and-After Moments– A cataclysmic event in your life where there is before that moment, and after, and nothing on the after side is ever the same. I know, I know, a little melodramatic–but it kind of is that way. So since I’ve got a whole Diabetes Blog thing happening here, I thought I’d paint you a picture of my Diabetes Birthday…it’s always easy for me to remember since I was diagnosed on my 16th birthday. Seriously.

4 diabetes warning signs you shouldn't ignore | www.charmingdiabetes.com


Throw back to 1995 (yeah, can you smell the grunge movement and doc martens?). I was about to turn 16 and get my driver’s license but was a little concerned because my vision had been sooo bad lately (Blurry Vision, sign #1). But that didn’t matter. I was turning 16! And my pants seemed to be fitting more loosely. Was I losing weight? That’s awesome! (yeah, not when it’s related to diabetes. Sudden weight loss, sign #2). I was carting around drinks all the time because I was noticeably more thirsty (excessive thirst, sign #3). I was even waking up at night bc I was thirsty. Hmm, that’s strange. And then again because I had to pee (frequent urination, sign #4). My mom suspected something was wrong, but I knew she was just being overly cautious (complete denial, sign #5?) and nothing mattered anyway because did I mention–I was about to get my driver’s license!! FREEDOM!! (in my William Wallace voice).



My 16th birthday was a busy day. Got to school late because I went to get my driver’s license. Omg! Omg! I passed with flying colors, blurry vision and all (miracle!). I can even remember the outfit I was wearing that day. It involved double denim and crushed velvet, and that’s all I will say (It was the 90’s, people).

I had a cake from Becker’s Bakery (if you’ve had one you know what a mouth watering prospect that is) waiting for me at home that I was pumped up about, but first I had a doctor’s appointment. I drove myself. Just a normal yearly well-check until they checked the pee cup and then BAM!

“you have diabetes”.

I’m sorry, what?

“Type 1 Diabetes”.

The words rang in my ears. I literally can’t remember many of the details after that. That’s what happens with those Before-and-After Moments; so many of those very first “after” details are fuzzy.

Just like that I was scheduled for outpatient training at the hospital the next day with a pediatric endocrinologist named Dr. Najaar, very kind woman and yet my mom never got her name right and always called her Dr. Jafar. As in, the villain from Disney’s Aladdin.


Again, it was the 90’s, Aladdin was big. It is not lost on me that the first medical professional to treat my diabetes was (subconsciously?) vilified by my mom. Gotta love it.


I vaguely remember a long drive down familiar streets. Not understanding. Wanting to cry.

And then home, to my birthday cake.

With my mom and a couple of close family friends who were there looking at me, and then at the cake, and then back at me, I just took a fork and dug in. I ate like 1/2 the cake by myself. I was not going to let anyone take this long standing tradition of birthday joy from me…

And then, yes, I was miserable. My blood sugar had presumably been high for a while (hence the blurry vision, weight loss, etc) so I must have been used to feeling kind of “meh”, but I do remember feeling particularly yucky after all the cake. But I was so afraid! So afraid that tomorrow they’d tell me I couldn’t ever have that again. I had to get my fill.

My relationship with Diabetes has kind of been like that ever since. A little bit fearful of the unknown consequences to come, and many, many episodes of loved ones looking at me, then the dessert in front of me, and then back at me as I dig in, defiantly.

There are so many other memories from that day that I’ll leave in the vault for now. I did gain some freedom with my license , but I also got dealt a big fat lifetime ball and chain with a diabetes diagnosis.  Isn’t it Ironic? There’s a bold-faced Alanis Morrisette reference just to make sure you remember the 90’s setting of this little tale. It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? It’s like raaaaiiin on your wedding day.  Sorry 🙂

Fear, Defiance, Loneliness, Misunderstanding, Feeling Judged, Feeling Guilty. It can be a monster, Diabetes. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog: to share what was working (and not working) for me as I try to live the life I want while dealing with all that this disease can hurl at you. But just as with any fear, facing it head on is often the best course of action. As I educate myself, and take control of my blood sugar, take responsibility for my food choices, and lay down my guilt, I find myself feeling less fearful, and more empowered.

And I’ve had my cake every birthday since.

you can have your insulin and your cupcakes too | www.charmingdiabetes.com

you can have your insulin and your cupcakes too

That’s how I was diagnosed. 1995 on my 16th birthday with a very 90’s soundtrack playing in the background. That means I’ve now had more “after diabetes” birthdays than “before diabetes” birthdays. And for that, I am grateful.

What about you? When is your Diabetes Birthday? Let me know in the comments. Or if you’d like to Share Your Story with me & the Charming Diabetes community you can do that here

If you’re looking for more facts and info on Type 1 diabetes and it’s signs and symptoms the American Diabetes Association is a great place to start. If you’re experiencing any of those warning signs and think you might be at risk, talk to your doctor or a medical professional.

Here’s hoping they find a cure, and until then, may there alway be enough insulin on board to cover your birthday cake.



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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: emerysboard.tumbler.com

photo credit: emerysboard.tumbler.com

#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


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!