Saturday, August 25, 2012

You CAN dance en pointe

I've had several dancers emailing me telling me that as diabetics they were told that they weren't allowed to dance en pointe.  What do I have to say to that?  They were misinformed!  Of course you can dance en pointe.  There are many dancers including myself that have danced en pointe and still have healthy feet.  Zippora Karz for one of them!  So there you go, living proof!

The one disclaimer I have is that if your A1C is out of control it probably is best to wait until it's a bit lower before you pull those pointe shoes on.  The reason I say this is that pointe work beats up your feet...a lot.   You want to give your skin the best fighting chance to heal from all the abuse.  So the better your A1C, the better your feet will feel and the better your pointe work will be!  

Typical ballerina feet, take good care of them!
So eat healthy, keep active, watch your A1C, keep a close eye on your feet and tie those ribbons!

-Exit Stage Left

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Feeling a little Famous

Hey everyone!

Since the fall in now underway I can finally share my dance company's website.  It has performance information for all our upcoming shows, plus lots of pretty pictures of modern dance at its finest.
It's just been updated and I am now finally on it!  Yay!
...just feeling a little famous at the moment...

Sanspointe Dance Company

-Exit stage left

PS: I am still working on my Dexcom video, I haven't forgotten :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Diabetes Gadgets Videos: Part 1

Hey everyone!

I've been getting lots of questions related to pumping and dancing (and sparkles) and I think it would be great to share them with the world!  

So as promised, I present to you Part 1 of my 2 part video series about diabetes gadgets.  Part one is about pumping and part 2 will be an explanation on how to insert a dexcom sensor in your arm, by yourself with no headaches!  Stay tuned!

Also, I talk about Groovy Patches in my video.  Check them out!

-Exit Stage Left

Friday, August 3, 2012

Photos of one fantastic duet

Hey fabulous people!
I know, I know, it's been a month and I haven't posted anything.  I bit of a little more than I could chew with my chemistry and math summer courses along with teaching another anatomy class.  I made it through and collected two more A's to add to my pre-med basket but I certainly have missed posting my blog.

I continued to work on rehearsal for Sanspointe's next show and I want to share some new photos with you!  These are from a brand new duet between me and Michelle.  It is full of lifts, and rolls and I was so sore afterward.  I love how the two tallest dancers were the ones lifting each other!  My pump stuck with me through it all though.

Also stay tuned a two part video special I'll be filming while on my short vacation to my home country of Canada.  I just flew into Calgary Alberta this afternoon and am having a lovely time relaxing with my friends.  I'll be answering all the lovely questions I've been getting about my pump as well as how to insert a dexcom sensor on your arm without any help!  Yes, it's possible and easy!

Get excited!

Michelle and I are the same size!  I was sore from all those lifts!

I enjoyed this backwards jump

Michelle and I in my favorite pose.  My knee hurt for days!

-Exit Stage Left

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My New Endo Experience

So this week I had my 6 month check up at my endocrinologist.  I wasn't clicking with my old endo so after I met Dr. V at a JDRF function I knew I had to switch.  He was nice enough to give an appointment pretty quickly and from our conversations he seemed like a nice, knowledgable doctor.  I decided to try him out and if he didn't work for me then I would keep searching for physician perfection.

But I was still nervous.

After shadowing so many doctors it felt weird to be a patient again but I knew my diabetes needed a tune up.  I parked my jeep in the massive parking deck and wandered around until I found an elevated walkway leading to the Kirklin Clinic.  I was lead into what looked like an airport.  I walked by a patient library, a huge pharmacy even a Starbucks.  Each level housed different specialties.  I must have looked lost and scared because another patient took me under her wing and showed me the way around.  

You have to remember that I'm from Canada and when you say the word "Clinic" I think of a small, quaint office with 10 chairs, not a high class hospital with a Starbucks!  Anyways, I was checked in by a super nice receptionist (not many are nice!) and after spending 20 minutes trying, and not succeeding to study, I was taken back by a very nice nurse.  I tried my best to not panic but I always do and my blood pressure shot through the roof.  I told the nurse that I check my blood pressure constantly at the pharmacy and even took photos to prove it.  She just laughed and said that I had "White Coat" syndrome.  Yes, yes I do!  Like a lightening fast ninja she took my blood sugar (104) and A1C.  With a cotton ball in hand I was ready to go.

So far so good I quickly got shuttled back to a nice little examination room.  The nurse told me to sit on the table and wait for Dr. V.  After seeing so many patients choose to sit in the chairs and not on the table I decided that I too, was going to sit in the chairs.  I was nervous already, I didn't want to be stuck up on a pedestal too.  I sat down, pulled out 3 months of records that I had printed off the night before and bounced my leg to pass the time.  

Dr. V came in quickly and immediately I calmed right down.  I shared my story of diabetes up until now and he listened carefully and let me talk.  I just LOVE it when doctors let you talk!  He agreed that the Omnipod wasn't a good fit for me (something my other doctor and I fought about) and even told me that other elite athletes had the same issues as I did.  Hah!  I'm not crazy!  My A1C was ridiculously low.  So low in fact that I seriously suspect that the little A1C machine was inaccurate.  It was 4.2.  How am I still alive you ask?  I have no idea.  Dr. V looked at the huge amount of data I printed out and told me that he was fine with a 4.2 because I don't actually go low all that often, but told me a number like this probably won't ever happen again.  I'm ok with that.  Normally I sit at 5.4 or so.  

So we discussed tweaking my basal rates, poked my scarred up dancer feet, and checked my back fat for any pump bumps.  All good to go and super healthy.  He was worried about my thyroid since I hold onto a lot of water weight and have super irregular periods (too much info?  Whatever!)  Also he wanted to test me for celiac and a whole other host of hormone, autoimmune and whatever he could think of problems.  I'm going in on Friday to donate half my body in blood and hopefully everything is peachy keen and I'm good to go for another 6 months.    

So, I do believe I have reached physician perfection.  Luckily Dr. V is young so I'm guaranteed to have a great doctor for a while.  He listens, doesn't yack about other patients or the weather and wants to negotiate with me on treatment options.  He treats me like an equal.  Plus it's also cool to know that he's at the same JDRF research meetings as I am so we can discuss fun cutting edge stuff.  Like the Varapmill study that I posted about a few weeks ago.  

Well it's the 4th of July and I have sufficiently cooled down after my run.  It's time to hit the pool!

-Exit Stage Left

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rehearsal Photos

Rehearsal was great this week!  We spent hours and hours working on the introduction to our next big show.  It's a slow, mesmerizing piece that I'm really enjoying.  One of my fellow dancers, Shellie, took some photos of me in my favorite movement of the day!  

Also, tomorrow I have my checkup with my new endocrinologist.  He's a great guy and I've met him a few times with JDRF but I'm still nervous!  Gah!

-Exit Stage Left

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's my Birthday and I'll eat if I want to

On Monday I turned the big 25!  I can't believe another year has passed.  This was my second birthday with diabetes.  Last year I had some real challenges dealing with all the junk food and alcohol but this year I think I was able to enjoy myself and be safe too.  

The gang in all their glory
I drove down to Fairhope Alabama to meet up with my family and some close family friends from Oregon.  From there we all spent time at the beach, which was lovely.  
I decided that for a full 24 hours calories didn't matter but carbs still did.  I had Dreamcakes Bakery here in Birmingham make me a cake and they were kind enough to give me the exact recipe for the cake, frosting and filling.  With my trusty friend Calorie Count, I calculated how many carbs were in a standard, big ol' slice.  My cake had 99 grams of carbs!  At least I knew what I was up against!

I also calculated the carbs in my cinnamon rolls beforehand and put the info into my pump's meter so 
I got plush organs as my present!
with the press of a button I could bolus my way back to happy blood sugars.  

Happy 2nd Bday diabetes
Of course I drank too.  I very rarely drink these days but I had to go all out on my special day.  I bought margaritas in freezable bags so that way they had the nutritional values printed on the back.  It's so hard to know exactly what is in alcoholic drinks so anything with a label is good in my books.  
Eating the famous 99 carb count cake!
I drank three of them and lounged on the beach, hoping that Tropical Storm Debbie wouldn't be a downer.  (She wasn't :))  I leaned over to my dad and said, "gee I drank 3 margaritas and I don't feel anything"  Being the good father he was, he made me a long island iced tea.  That did it for sure and I didn't feel so hot after that.  

In the evening we got all dolled up and I drank a bunch of diet powerade to offset the dehydration I had experienced on the beach.  The gang headed out to The Hangout in Gulf Shores and were treated like kings and queens for the evening.  I ate fried pickles, shrimp and rounded it off with my 99 carb count cake.  They were even kind enough to turn on the bubble machine just for us.  I ran straight into the pile of bubbles and thanked the lord that my pump was waterproof.  

I may be 25 but I can still play in the bubbles!
Bolus after bolus, test after test I was able to keep my blood sugar under 200...barely.  I felt hungover and sick for two days afterward but you know what, it was worth it.  The moral of the story is that even if we have to deal with diabetes day in day out we can always have some fun and keep ourselves healthy.  I wouldn't recommend eating like that every day though!
A gorgeous view of the beach

Now it's back to my low carb meals!  This diabetic dancer needs to stay in shape for another 3 hour rehearsal tomorrow.  
This is a video of us playing in the bubbles!  I'm in pink!

-Exit Stage Left

Sunday, June 17, 2012

JDRF keeps me hopeful

This week has been crazy!  I've been taking two summer classes, teaching anatomy, rehearsing and most importantly working with JDRF's Junior Board here in Birmingham.  

We had one meeting for just us junior board members which involved electing officials and I got a nomination to be the chair of community involvement!  I'm crossing my fingers and thinking of every possible connection I've built in Birmingham and how we can link it to JDRF.  I'll find out soon if I am elected and I'll let you know.  

While that was exciting the next night was a special annual meeting for the senior board.  Members of the junior board are welcome to come, so I packed the prettiest pants and shirt that would fit in my book bag and ran over after teaching my class.  Only a few junior board members were with me.  I was nervous to run with the big dogs with their gold name tags while I was stuck with my "hi, my name is" sticker.  Luckily my own endocrinologist was there too.
Dr. Anath Shalev

We discussed the success of the year as well as new research that's currently going on.  Anath Shalev, MD, a brilliant researcher from Switzerland came to talk to us about her findings.  She is investigating how a specific protein, turned off by the presence of a calcium channel blocker, can help preserve existing beta cells in people with diabetes.  

She showed us graph after graph, table after table and micro pictographs (photos taken with a microscope) of the beta cell masses of mice with diabetes.  She found that with the use of a calcium channel blocker, found in the common blood pressure medicine Varapmil, preserved and reversed the damage of the beta cells.  I was glad that my science courses gave me some literacy for all of her research.  

I sat there stunned.  There it was.  The proof that someone was working her tail off and getting incredible results.  Due to the fact that Varapmill is a generic drug that has side affects (like dropping your blood pressure!) big pharma has no interest in producing it.  Dr. Shalev is working tirelessly to isolate the compound responsible for preserving beta cells and hopefully, in time, there may be a cure in our lifetime.

Like any diabetic, I have heard every trick in the book; that cures are just "10 years away" or that research is bringing advances every day.  We get excited, we wait and then give up and get on with our lives.  Somehow meeting a researcher and seeing her work has demystified my dreams of a cure.  I think it's great for us to remain hopeful but also take good care of ourselves so when the cure comes we'll be healthy enough to receive it.  

-Exit Stage Left

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rehearsals begin for Sanspointe's 10th anniversary outdoor performance

This Saturday Sanspointe began more rehearsals for it's special 10th anniversary outdoor performance located at Railroad park.  One of the dancers asked our artistic director Rhea, for a really difficult dance and so Rhea delivered!  We began working in the studio with a fast paced dance including turns, flips and jumps.  We all started sweating in the heat of the studio but I was having a great time.  

My pump has an alarm on it to check 1 hour after I bolus.  I like to see how I peak after meals so I have some information for my endo.  So my alarm went off to me to check and surprise surprise, my blood sugar had sharply dropped to 58.  I felt so confused.  I felt fine.  I was picking up complicated choreography and my balance was great.  Rhea asked me if I needed water and I told her I needed a glucose gel.  I was in good spirits so she decided to pull out the line "Juice is better" from Steel Magnolias.  The whole company chuckled and I laughed myself.  We are in the south after all.  

An action shot of me flipping over my shoulder!

I downed my glucose gel (which is made by my friend Ethan.  Check out his website here!) and knew that it contained the right amount of glucose to keep me safe.  Since I was feeling fine I decided to keep going with rehearsal and within a few minutes everything was back to normal.  I quickly transitioned back from a diabetic having a low back to a dancer in rehearsal.  Another dancer in the company is also a nurse and asked me what my number was.  When I told her she made a face and went "oh dear". It's nice to know that when I'm low I have a nurse and an understanding, compassionate director.  

Later on, we went outside the studio to practice the new piece of work on the stage that we would be performing it on.  Railroad park is a large, gorgeous park located in downtown Birmingham.  Our stage is a massive raked stage on the grass.  The grass made the turns difficult but it made doing flips and jumps much more fun.  I tried out new and risky movements that I had never done before.  Nothing like a little fear to make you feel alive.  

More rehearsals and photos will be coming up!  If you are planning in being in the Birmingham area in October I would love to see you in the audience.  For performance information check out our Website!

-Exit Stage Left

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Students with Diabetes Conference

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Students with Diabetes Conference.  It was a whirlwind of late night talks sharing our personal diabetes struggles, inspirational speakers and hilarious experiences.  Nicole Johnson, former Miss America (with type 1 diabetes!) was our fearless leader and took us down the road to validation, strength and connections.  

Since a picture is worth a thousand words and I need to stretch my sore dancer legs I leave you with a slideshow of our adventures!

-Exit Stage Left

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gold Plated Dance

Accidentally ripping the crotch of my suit!
For the past two weeks Sanspointe Dance has been touring all over Birmingham giving showings of "The Golden Record"  While we dance on stage often, we decided to dance in libraries to help bring dance to the people.  I had the pleasure of dancing with them.  It was my first modern dance performance and I loved it.  Here are some photos as well as a review from the Birmingham News.  I did my usual tummitote belt hide my pump thing and besides ripping the crotch out of my paper hazmat suit there weren't any mishaps!  Enjoy!

You can see my pump!

If extraterrestrial dancers could respond to music from a distant blue planet, it might look something like Sanspointe Dance Company’s interpretation of “The Golden Record.”

A far-fetched notion? Of course. But Rhea Speights and Lynn Andrews’ choreography, as danced Tuesday at Avondale Library, had enough earthbound whimsy, physicality and poignancy to ignite the imagination.

The gold-plated copper phonograph record known as "The Golden Record" was sent into space in 1977 aboard two Voyager spacecrafts. A broad range of images and messages, greetings in dozens of languages, sounds of nature and music from around the planet are included. Its instigator, Carl Sagan, likened it to launching a bottle into a cosmic ocean.

Heading off into space!

Birmingham Public Library
Avondale Branch
Four stars out of five
For the 30-minute dance, Sanspointe settled on an eclectic selection of J.S. Bach, Blind Willie Johnson, and music from Peru, Senegal and elsewhere. Four white-clad dancers sent out “signals,” their arms searching like antennas in symmetrical motion to an ambient sonic hum.

**For the full review click here

-Exit Stage Left

Friday, May 25, 2012

My recipe for egg muffins!

A reader asked me to post my paleo recipe for egg muffins!  They are too delicious not to share so here it is.  Enjoy!


  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c ground meat or bacon bits (I used the bacon bits!)
  • 1/2 c diced green bell peppers
  • 1/8 c mayonaise
  • 1/8 c water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Grease 6 muffin tins with cooking spray, or coconut oil
  3. Beat the eggs and add the ground meat, bell peppers, water, mayonnaise and season with salt and or pepper.  Combine well.
  4. Scoop equal portions into the 6 muffin tins 
  5. Bake for about 18 minutes or until a knife inserted into the muffins comes out clean
  6. Remove from the oven, let cool and dive in!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to be a great patient

Right after acing my anatomy lab final exam!
As you know, I live a double life!  I'm half dancer half pre-med student and balancing my time can be a little crazy but very rewarding.  Stay posted for photos from my most recent modern dance performance next week!  

I really cannot wait to begin med school and start becoming a doctor.  Being a doctor has been my dream for as long as dance has been my dream.  With a medical degree I can return to my patients the inspiring healing that I experienced as a patient with diabetes.  Since a ballet career is time sensitive I tackled that first and am two years away from sleepless nights of studying and stress...oh wait, I do that now!  

So, for the month of May, when I'm not rehearsing for Sanspointe's newest show "The Golden Record", I have been donning my shiny doctor shoes, lab coat and curious mind and shadowing several doctors all over Alabama.  I absolutely loved it and what I experienced didn't scare me away from medicine!  I guess you could say that I'm an "embryonic" doctor.  I just listened, asked questions and learned a lot.  

Having type 1 diabetes myself I was hip to how the patients were feeling, mostly because I'm usually in their shoes.  I took mental notes as to how each doctor communicated with each patient as well as how the patient communicated with the doctor.  Since I'm not a doctor yet, but I am a professional patient, I thought I would share a few things I learned this month to help us be more effective patients!  Hooray!
Ballet bun+Lab Coat=Awesome!

  1. Medicine is a service industry.  You're paying the doctor to help heal you.  If you don't like the service you're getting then look for another doctor.
  2. Insurance is just as annoying for doctors as it is for us patients *groan*
  3. Be clear with how you're feeling.  If something doesn't feel right, talk about it
  4. Your life story may reveal a diagnosis, or be entertaining.  No harm in sharing!
  5. Always ask your doctor to wash their hands
  6. Write down every question you have before you head to the doctors
  7. If your doctor doesn't let you talk, or interrupts you, it's time for a new doctor
  8. Inform yourself!  50% of doctors I shadowed believe their patients should inform themselves.  The other 50% think is the root of all evil.  
  9. Doctors are running from patient to patient, one right after the other.  It feels like we're waiting forever in the office but they really are working at lightning speed
  10. Drug reps bring Starbucks.  This doesn't really help the patients, but it's sure darn tasty!      
-Exit Stage Left

Friday, May 11, 2012

Snappy Comebacks!

Don't you ever lie awake and think of all the snappy comebacks that you wish you told someone after they said something irritating about diabetes?  I did, then I made a Vlog about it.  Get ready to laugh!
-Exit Stage Left

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dancing Diabetes in the Park

My first performance with Sanspointe Dance Company was out in the park at the Magic City Art Connection.  It was a beautiful warm sunny day.  The crowd was enthusiastic and all encompassing and my diabetes was quietly dancing with me.
I took a pair of pants that had a zippered pocket and cut a hole to feed the tubing for my pump.  It worked like a charm!  I ate one of my favorite Think Thin Protein Bar containing 23 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein one hour prior to the performance.  

Can you spot 
the pump?  I give you permission to look at my butt!             
My nerves kept my blood sugar from going low so I didn't even give myself a temp basal.  I tried to appear fearless but right before we went on stage I leaned over to one of my colleagues and said "Gee, I'm actually kind of nervous for this!"  I'm glad she agreed with me!

For once, diabetes stayed quiet during the performance.  All I could hear was the live music carrying my movement and the applause of the audience. 

-Exit Stage Left

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Tasty Surprise!

So I'm going to risk sounding like a dork but I'm going to say it anyways.  I adore muffins!  It just sucks that every kind of muffin I can get my hands on is 400 calories and 60g of carbs.  They're just not even worth the trouble anymore.  

Until now!
Check them out...ThinSlim Foods

While I was procrastinating I found a website that supposedly makes muffins that are ridiculously low in carbs, calories and don't skyrocket your blood sugar.  My first thought was that, like all other "diet" foods, those muffins would taste like cardboard or make my tummy sick from all the artificial sweeteners. Somehow against my better judgement I ordered a few and they just arrived in the mail today.  You know what?!?!?!  They're delicious!  I seriously cannot believe it.  40 calories and 12g of carbs per muffin.  I'm in diabetic ballerina heaven.

Yum Yum Yum!  Next I'll try blueberry!

I thought this information was too juicy to keep to myself so I'm sharing it!  Try them out!  For once you may actually find diet muffins that taste like real muffins.

-Exit Stage Left

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In Good Company

Hello everyone!  It is I!  Your local neighborhood diabetic ballerina.  I’m sorry for being a ghost lately.  As I’m sure you’re aware, finals week has swooped down upon me and all of my free time has been eaten up with studying for my classes and labs.  Anyways, I’m back!  I still have exams into next week but I thought I’d take a break and update you all on what’s going on with me!
I started dancing at a new company!  They’re a professional modern company called Sanspointe and if you’re interested you should check out their website Sanspointe .  I had an offer from them from last summer but due to my ankle surgery I couldn’t accept it...until now.
This is the first modern company I’ve ever worked with but I think it’s a healthier fit for me.  Trying to keep up with a full time ballet company as well as full time pre medical school classes was slowly killing me inside.  I just didn’t have the hours upon hours to spend on ensuring that I was perfectly on balance or was as skinny as possible.  I was certainly happy at Arova and they treated me well but I needed to explore a new avenue of dance.  We’re still on great terms and whenever I need to feed the ballet beast I can head back for classes, which I am so thankful to have.  

It’s exciting to learn to move differently.  I roll around on the floor, crash into other dancers, on purpose, do handstands and twist my body into shapes no one has ever seen before.  I don’t have to wear pointe shoes but my feet and knees are still sore from all of the floor work.  I love it though.  I even started weight lifting four weeks ago and it’s incredible how you drop body fat and strengthen your body.  If I wasn’t so terrified of looking too muscular when I was I classical dancer I would have started it long ago! 

Anyways, back to the diabetes.  I had to decide how I wanted to handle my diabetes.  Did I want to be “out of the closet” like I was at Arova Contemporary Ballet, or hide it like I was at Montgomery Ballet?  I decided a bit of both.  I didn’t want to be babied.  I didn’t want to have everything be blamed on my diabetes.  Sometimes I felt that if I had a bad day at my old company that diabetes would get the blame when really I was just having an off day.  Diabetes had far too much time on the stage.  I didn’t want diabetes to be the star of the show, I wanted to be the star!  I decided not to tell my artistic director unless there was an issue.  A choreographer who I had worked with when I was with Arova also works with Sanspointe and so I knew she knew of my BigD but I decided not to make a big deal out of it.
I took an old pair of “trashbag shorts” (dancers, you know what I’m talking about!) and cut a hole in one of the pockets.  I thread my tubing through and hid my pump from sight.  I left my dexcom on my bag at the side of the big, dark studio where it would still pick up readings but not constantly remind me of my malfunctioning pancreas.  I stayed relaxed and checked my blood sugar like I was having a sip of water.  My new artistic director treated me like an adult and didn’t make a big deal out of it.  My new dance colleagues were welcoming, supportive and most importantly, got to know my dancing and not my diabetes.
My first class with Sanspointe was filled with perfect blood sugars and even though I could feel my pump clunk on the floor as I rolled over my head, I felt as if I was diabetes free, even if it was only for a minute or two.  The studio we rehearse in is also made for performances so it felt like I was dancing on stage at the same time, a lovely feeling.  I danced so well that I was offered to perform in Sanspointe’s next show “The Golden Record”!  I am incredibly excited and will be posting pictures and videos in May.

I may be dancing modern movement, but ballet will always be in my heart.  I love my new company but most importantly I love that diabetes let me share the limelight.  I hope it continues to do so with every rehearsal and company class I take.
-Exit Stage Left

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Time to Laugh!

I've been stressing like crazy trying to keep my school work stellar, my dancing strong and blood sugars steady these days and I came across an amazing Facebook group that took me out of my panic. It's called "Type 1 Diabetes Memes".  I highly recommend you check them out.  They make new memes every single day!

What is a meme you ask? Well this is what Wikipedia (Most reliable resource on Earth) said "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture." A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures

They made me laugh and I need to share some of my favorites with you!  So sit back, relax and escape reality.

One I created myself!

-Exit Stage Left