Monday, May 7, 2018

Better Teammates

Artist: Brendan Eskridge, 10
Age at diagnosis: 9

Title: T1D Hockey
“This is about me wanting to get into the NHL but when T1D hit me, it was like I was getting cross checked. Max Domi inspires me to achieve my NHL goal.”

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Dear Warriors, set for release November 2018. I need your help to make this come true! If you or someone you know has T1D and has some art that could help illustrate this book, please contact me at More info can be found here.  Remember: we're all Warriors- just some of us are specialized Diabetic Warriors. 

Thank you!

Better Teammates

I wrote this book through the lens of an adult Diabetic Warrior (DW) relying on other adult Warriors, Diabetic or not. Through this writing process, and exploring the lives and art of young T1D artists, I was reminded that young DWs rely on their fellow Warriors, too.

I received the above image from a mom whose son was diagnosed with T1D after suffering the teasing of hockey teammates for his excessive water drinking and bathroom breaks. Teasing that switched to support as his reality became clear. Now, the ribbing has become encouragement. The whole team is learning lessons on how to live together and on how to collaborate.

We think that children should not be Warriors, period. We think they should be able to grow and explore unfettered by real pain and hardship. We want their struggles, if any, to be manageable and controlled.

Sometimes, our fears get the best of us. Images form of our babies stumbling through a hostile forest, lost and alone. It terrifies us. While we struggle with these worries, we must remember neither we nor our kids are alone in the woods.

Let's remember what the enemy really is. It's not people. It's things. It's our choices.

We don’t want our children to face struggle, but they do. Along with beauty, life is filled with struggle: walking, learning, growing up and old. Some kids jump from Warrior to Diabetic Warrior within months or even days of their very first breaths. If we go back to our Warrior and forest metaphors, we shouldn’t be surprised that reality is rough for our kids. There’s no magic net protecting the tender sapling in the forest until it reaches a certain size. There’s no safety lock for Warriors in the field that will ensure they get through the barrages that life shoots out, unscathed. There are no guarantees.

But we do have each other.

This boy’s teammates became better teammates because of his diabetes. We can become better teammates to each other- better Warriors to each other- by acknowledging and understanding one another’s strengths and weaknesses. By working together, whether we want to or not. By never taking each other for granted. By commending each other in our successes and lifting each other up in our failures.

How can I be a better teammate? Do I have enough teammates? Do I rely on them as I should?

Thursday, May 3, 2018


The crazy ups and downs of this spring’s weather have me thinking about patterns. Seasons come and go in a regular sequence. We humans act in fairly repetitive ways, too- especially us with T1D. So, of course I talk about patterns in Dear Warriors. There are some benefits to them. But we need to stop ourselves upon occasion, and ask ourselves if it's time for us to change things up.

Case in point: Is our foot-focus outdated?

People with diabetes know that a foot exam is part of the the checkup process. I was talking with a friend, who is also a doctor, about this recently, after she very graciously agreed to read through my current Dear Warriors manuscript. We discussed the parts of an annual exam and that lead me to this interesting article, How to do a 3-minute diabetic foot exam. I was curious, because my own experience with them, as with my overall 20+ year experience with this condition, has been a range of both scope and detail.

Foot exams are part of the diabetes codex, but why? Do you ever wonder if perhaps we should focus on something else? Or simply remodel what we do, like this article suggests, (supported with data) to get the most bang-for-our-buck? There is much that needs to be changed in our healthcare in the US. Assembly line meetings that last under 15 minutes do not lend themselves to in-depth relationships, for starters. The mad rush seems to skip over things that we know are really important. Instead of lots of time on our feet, how about some serious time on our mental health and how we feel, which affects how we operate? Which leads me to my next point.

We can do more together. This article specifies “patient education” for one of the three minutes involved in their suggested foot exam protocol. As it states, “Even with proper patient education, many patients may be in various stages of coping with this all-consuming, yet frequently asymptomatic condition, which makes the need for repeated patient education even more critical.” Patient education? Let’s think in terms of patient participation, self-advocacy and agency. The psychological element of not simply being a body to be examined is key. Looking at our whole beings and how we relate to others are huge parts of the message behind Dear Warriors. Swinging this whole conversation further into collaboration would be helpful, as I’ll bring up in my next question.

Why aren’t blood sugar tests done once a year on everyone? Perhaps it’s was never considered before, due to relative rates of cases and equipment costs. But what were once logical practices may not make sense today. Testing today is fast and inexpensive. There are still regular occurrences of people with elevated blood sugars going long periods of time with complaints that end up being rooted in glucose levels. Relative rates of this condition are on the rise. In addition, even if results are fine, this test could be used as a positive segue to discussing dietary and exercise practices, which are extremely important health subjects for everyone. The alienation those with diabetes regularly feel might be relieved a bit if everyone dealt with this testing in their own lives.

These were just some thoughts I’ve had recently while working on Dear Warriors. I wish you well, and if you have, or no anyone else who has, any images you’d like to share, please spread the word and email me at More info on my blog entry here.