Friday, January 22, 2016

Bringing in the Parenting Village at The Endocrinology Appointment

Today is our quarterly endocrinology appointment.

For weeks, the red encircled date on the kitchen calendar has been a reminder for all of us.

But please do not think that is negative.

What I have decided to share is a glimpse into how I am feeling about this particular appointment and how those feelings show me that we need to be there, perhaps more than ever.

Backing up a bit, the general consensus around here is that our girls have grown up a lot.  The little girl business appears to have basically closed down and been replaced with teen hotspot.  I know I have shared how life has changed considerably over the past few years, but even more as of late.  My girls have gained independence - not that they are out all hours of the night (eek! would they ever be????) but that they have their own activities, events and places to be - all without mom or dad. 

Part of me is crazy proud that we have built a life where the girls are ABLE TO LIVE FULLY while simply fitting T1D in.  However, the other part of me has some major worry over their maturity to REMEMBER to fit T1D so that they may continue to live that full life that they desire.

This is where that proverbial "It takes a village...." fits in.

I need our family to have a strong support group surrounding us.  Recognizing that it can not always be mom or dad dispensing the advice on how to maintain health while growing up, might be the most important step that I take to keep our girls on the right track.

During this past three months, there were some 'forgetting' moments and some 'off-SWAG counting' (Super Wild Ass Guesses) and our least favorite of all, 'ketones induced from bad pump sites'.

All of those issues happen in the world of Type 1 Diabetes.  For my girls to continue to be successful, we need to have ideas in place to prevent them and support to keep them feeling positive if and when they do.

This is a HUGE mind-shift for quarterly appointments.  I don't want our daughters to fear those honest discussions with their endocrinologist.  I want them instead to embrace the positive correlation of living better by attending an endocrinology appointment to be supported during their T1D journey.  

Looking at the red encircled date on the kitchen calendar has provided us with the sense of well-being.  Our 'Village' is going to be waiting with open arms for us this afternoon.

I can't wait to return the hug.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January Fun: Fora Test N' Go with an Exclusive Naturally Sweet Sisters Unboxing Video


With her sweet-talking nature, we have named her Flora Fora. What did you name your meter?  

January has been a long month.  It's cold.  It's dark.  It's long.  Oh, did I already mention that? For extra emphasis, it's lonnnggggg!  

Both girls are finishing up the semester.  Our oldest has her first set of mid-term exams for high school this week.  Our youngest is entering what the theater lovingly refers to as 'hell week', long days of dress rehearsal and fine-tuning her upcoming middle school play where she will star as Hillary Hook in The Adventures of the Fearsome Pirate Frank. 

Understandably, T1D has even felt a little dodgy.   

In true middle school fashion, I recently had a long talk with our youngest about skipping her blood sugar checks. Noticing a big hole in her insulin pump bolus history, with a few tears, she explained that she was just so busy at school that she actually forgot to test.  I gently but firmly explained that without managing T1D, none of what she wants to do can be accomplished.  Our health is the first priority and by taking care of that, only then can we have fun in activities like her beloved play.  

Conversely, our oldest has been very compliant with managing her blood sugars and dosing insulin for food that she has eaten.  Although part of me worries even more because I suspect that some of her vigilance is stemming from the stress of managing T1D during such an important week of school.  She is well aware that her four years of high school grades count more than ever.  For the first time, there is no do-over in examinations.  Final scores will be added to her transcript and ultimately, her GPA will reflect how well she studied.  Even with a 504 backing her, she'd rather get it right the first time and not be saddled with retakes if her blood sugars aren't behaving. 

So when the FORA Test N' Go was offered to us, we eagerly jumped at the chance to try it out.  Headquartered in Moorpark, California, the ForaCare Company offers several styles of blood sugar meters.  For more information, click HERE.

Or Cut and Paste this link into your browser:

On the day the package arrived, only our oldest daughter was at home.  Upon receiving the big brown box, she said, "I can't wait!  Let's try it out NOW!"  Thankfully, her younger sister was understanding and agreed to not waiting by acknowledging with a confirmation text message, "It's fine to go ahead.  Older sister can show me how it works when I get back home tonight."  (Parenting note... I adore it when they are able to work through situations that I think might be difficult.  Now, why is it so hard to decide what movie to watch on Family Movie Night???)

Upon opening the box, oldest daughter happily found that we were sent one FORA Test N'Go Blood Sugar Meter, One Box of Test Strips, One Lancing Device, One Box of Lancets and a vial of solution to ensure the meter calibrates properly.  

Immediately out of the box, the FORA Test N'Go Blood Sugar Meter was super easy to use.  Without any instructions (although we were also sent beautiful portfolio style instructions of the FORA Blood Sugar Meter product line), our oldest daughter just took off the package wrapping and started the meter right up.  It was so simple and intuitive that anyone could do the same.

And this is the BEST part......!!!!!!

As soon as a strip was inserted, our oldest daughter discovered that the FORA Test N'Go Blood Sugar Meter TALKED!!!!!!  

That's right!  This stylish little blood sugar gadget is full of sweet nothings.  We had a laugh too as her very first BG recorded at 102 mg/dl - what are the chances?  Immediately, oldest daughter was smitten.  Not only did it talk, but it said nice things!  Take that Diabetes Monster!  

Cool, pen-like lancing device holds one single lancet and dials to fit your exact depth needs.

The FORA Test N'Go also used very little blood.  After finally saying good-bye to our beloved BIG UGLY, we have gotten used to another meter that also samples tiny amounts.  One of my daughter's first concerns was the pain associated with the lancet and the amount of blood that it would require.  Both fears were alleviated instantly:  No pain and only .5 ul blood sample using the 30-gauge lancet. 

The five second readout was clear and easy to read.  Late in the night, we tried the meter in different areas such as balancing in the bathroom (it stays put on a pedestal sink) and walking on the treadmill (our oldest has started running this winter).  Our favorite was the girls' bedrooms, where in the dark, which for parents like me, continues to be a place of constant blood sugar testing with very little light sources as the girls are still sleeping.  Using the FORA Test N'Go, for the first time, I knew immediately when I pushed the clean strip in far enough (something that I often struggle with in the dark) as the meter told me it was ready... not a beep, but an actual acknowledgement that the meter was ready.  Amazing!  Later, my youngest daughter also discovered that not only would the FORA Test N'Go talk in English, but in Spanish too.  She excitedly said it would be the hit of every middle school Spanish class student and begged me to take it to the school the next day.   (Parenting note:  This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that sparks T1D management in kids - cool, new gadgets that break away from the blahs of chronic care.  While I am 100% sure that this feature was not designed or intended for this purpose, the reality is that kids view the world differently and reducing their burden of care is just as important as it is for an adult - thank you FORA!)

The backlit LCD was so clear that I found that I could also use it as a flashlight when hunting for her charger cord for her cell phone.  Let's be real... the best meters are the ones that multi-task and flashlight use in the middle of the night is a very honest problem.  

FORA also offers an awesome Diabetes Manager App.  Once I was able to charge my daughter's phone, I took a few seconds to download the FORA mobile app.  The nicest part of having the app is that the blood sugar readings were automatically uploaded to the FORA 24/7 HealthView Cloud app. This is a HUGE time-saver for busy families with ultra busy teens.  Just test and go and let FORA manage blood sugar logging for you.  In fact, why doesn't every meter do this now???  

If you are in the market for a sweet blood sugar meter, than you may want to add the FORA Test N'Go to your list to check out.  It just may lift you out of the winter slump of T1D care AND keep you feeling happy too!

Check out the Naturally Sweet Sisters on YOUTUBE for an unboxing video and to check out the FORA Test N'GO website at to learn more. 

Hope you enjoy!

((1/21/16- LIMITED TIME OFFER THROUGH - 2/21/16 ))


Now you can own your very own meter bundle including everything needed to get started on testing blood sugars with TNG Voice Meter + 100 meter strips.  

Click HERE or cut and paste this address directly into your browser to order your own TNG VOICE METER + 100 STRIPS BUNDLE DEAL.

Just enter the special coupon code "sweetsisters" to receive an additional 20% off anything in our store through 2/21/16 (minimum purchase of $50.00).

Disclaimer:  The FORA Test N'Go was provided free of charge in exchange for a product review.  The review is an honest overview of the Naturally Sweet Sisters own ideas and opinions.  ForaCare did not tell us what to say or write about their meters.  We happily shared our own thoughts and feelings about the FORA Test N'Go.  Thank you!

Link to Naturally Sweet Sisters ForaCare directly by cutting this link and pasting it into your browser.  Or click HERE.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Parents and Teens - Thinking about Insulin Pump Therapy or CGM? Check This Out!

Through the years post diagnosis of our Naturally Sweet Sisters, many families have asked how we decided to start insulin pump therapy.  My answer is relatively simple.  Since our little one was just a hair over three years old (37 months to be exact), I made the decision.  It was difficult enough to decipher toddler eating habits and even worse to try to measure a 1/4 of a unit of insulin on a teeny-tiny syringe.  Just a few months post diagnosis and I was promptly asking (demanding) a shiny new pink pump.

That same decision can be more complicated when it comes to teens.  Whether the teen is years post diagnosis or newly entering the world of T1D, the decision to try insulin pump therapy (or CGM) becomes a three-way partnership between teen, parent/caregiver and provider.

A few weeks ago, our friend and researcher, Dr. Tim Wysocki and I shared a conversation about a new research opportunity for teens (ages 11 - 17) that have been diagnosed with T1D for at least one year or 6 months if HbA1c > 7.5%.

The study includes a mix of randomly assigned teens to either be assigned to usual clinical practices OR take part in using a web-based "decision aids" that guide families to carefully consider decisions about insulin pumps and CGMS - using information from similar teens and other families.

How cool is that?

To me, this is the way of the future - teaming up to utilize information from peers to help make real, practical and educated decisions about chronic care.

If  you have heard your teen ask (or maybe you have) any of these questions...

To pump or not to pump?

Shouldn't we stay with what we know?

CGM means what???

Too many choices to decide, so maybe I should do nothing?

How do I decide?

Than think about joining the research study led by Dr. Tim Wysocki, PhD, Nemours Center for Health Care Delivery Services, called   "Teens with Type 1 Diabetes: Is an Insulin Pump or Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) the right choice for you?"  

For more information on the study, click HERE 

Or Cut and Paste Into Your Browser:

You may also contact Alex Taylor at (904) 697-3507 or to have additional questions answered.

Oh and as a bonus, there is compensation available for participation in this research study, which if you ask my daughters, is a nice perk for any teen that loves shopping!

 Don't forget to follow @Natsweetsisters on Twitter for information and news on the latest research for T1D! 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Little Victory and A Lot of Nostalgia

I know they have outgrown most all of their playthings.

Still, when the announcement of the victory of Anja Busse, a 13-year old #youngmaker with an idea to give her doll a special diabetes kit was confirmed by mainstream toy maker, Mattel, this week, my heart wildly fluttered.

I remembered, all too well, the many versions of 'homemade' insulin pumps, plastic doctor kits and band-aid covered stuffed animals that our girls once played with.

I also remembered the very special trips to Chicago and New York's American Girl flagship stores to scoop up pint-sized toys which included (through their own choosing) a wheelchair, a set of crutches and even a tiny kit for braces on dolly's teeth.

My girls always gravitated towards the realistic gear of what was often seen at the Children's Hospital as they went to and from their quarterly clinic appointments.

While tea sets were nice, the coolest items were always those that provided a story line of helping through surgeries, magic medicines and ultimately, a creative cure.

I still think that having access to that type of 'play' allowed the girls to work through many difficult concerns of chronic care.  Through their own creativity, they normalized the life that we led,  As they played, it became a mantra that everybody has something - especially teddy, bitty baby, Molly and Julia.

In short, being imperfect was perfect.

It wasn't all that long ago, was it?

Sigh.  Time does swiftly fly by.  The proof is between the now and then.

Tonight, as our daughters are away with friends, having memory-making teen aged sleepovers, my sleepless mind, happily encouraged the rest of me to seek out the American Girl website.  With little willpower, I ordered not one, but two tiny little doll-sized diabetes kits.

Sitting here now with the admitted nostalgia, I can't tell whom this shopping spree is really for.

Me, as a mom, with memories of little girls transformed from patients to doctors,


maybe after the kits arrive,

it will be older girls transformed back into little girls with a mom delighted to see a glimpse back in time.

And mom as the biggest 'little' girl of all.