Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Diabetes: The Musical?

Those who know me, know my obsession with all things theater. In fact, I felt so bad about my theater posts on my diabetes blogs, I broke down and started a blog that is solely dedicated to theater. When I started that blog, I kind of promised myself that I wouldn’t “bore” my diabetes readers with my theater posts on this blog.

And here I am, just a few months later, breaking that promise already. But since this theater post involves diabetes all the way, I figured my readers would forgive me. About two weeks ago I saw a Twitter post that came from TuDiabetes. In that post there was a link to an article that totally blew my mind. Someone had written a musical about Type 1 diabetes. A musical called Andy & the Beats. Wow. Not only had it been written, they were putting on a production. And the most amazing part? It was in Knoxville, Tennessee.
As with any diabetic, my first, knee-jerk, reaction was to be wary of a musical written about diabetes. How “wrong” would it be? Was it a joke? A comedy of errors? A random person’s attempt at making a joke of this disease we live with every day? I think most of us can understand a reaction like that. We deal with media misconceptions on a daily basis. Those of us in the diabetes online community spend out time trying to education and inform, often running into brick walls of ignorance over and over again.

The initial article put me completely at ease because the writer of this musical, Andy Rogers, is living with Type 1 diabetes. So is his sister. Knowing that, my excitement took over and I started researching when and where this musical was going to be performed, and how I was going to make the time to be there.
There were only four performance times, admission was free with all donations going to benefit JDRF. While I was researching this show, I found Andy’s research paper online. Those of you who have ever written a research paper, or read one, know how boring they can be. This one was not. I read all 52 pages. And I cried. This was a story. It was the story of Andy and his sister. It was the story of their family and diabetes. Sure, there were the scientific parts, and the “technical” parts. But this research paper was a story that made me even more sure that Andy Rogers had written a special show that would education, inform, and entertain.

Sunday evening I arrived over an hour early. I’m not terribly familiar with the Knoxville area, and even less familiar with the University of Tennessee campus, so I wanted to be sure I got there in plenty of time. From posts on the Andy & the Beats facebook page, I knew that they had to turn away people from one of the performances, and that they had had a full house at the others. I was going to have a seat. And hour early was a good bet. I was the first person in line.

Being the first in line didn’t last long. Within 20 minutes there was a line all the way down the sidewalk. When they opened the house, Andy was at the door and you could see the amazement all over his face. Even though (from what I understood) they’d had full crowds every time. I knew with that kind of reaction from him, and the crowd size, that this show was going to be great.

And great it was. Andy Rogers played a 12 year old Andy who developed Type 1 diabetes after a virus attacked him. The Beats were 3 singing, dancing… well, I’m not exactly sure what they were other than maybe Andy’s guides to having diabetes. Regardless, they were fantastic. Played by Lauren Fitzgerald, Brooks Morelock, and Jessica Hunter, they made Andy’s transition into diabetes… well, kind of entertaining.

Andy was a healthy, happy 12 year old boy and then is attacked by Virus, played by James McGuire. The Beats show up to help Andy by explaining Type 1 diabetes and its symtoms to him and the audience in “The Symptoms Song.”

Andy’s mother takes him to a Dr. Arfaee, played with great comedy by Tina Arfaee. At one point she stabs an orange in Andy’s hand with a syringe. And when I say stabs, I mean STABS. :) How many of us remember learning to give a shot on an orange? *silently raises hand* The title of the song she sings while she stabs that orange: “Your New Friend, Insulin.” I laughed my head off during the entire song.
Andy’s mother, played by Martha Reddick, is very disturbed by the fact that her son can’t be “fixed” by a pill or a shot. Andy ends up in a conversation with his Pancreas, also played by James McGuire. Andy’s Pancreas is angry. So is Andy. They both want to know why this happened to them (sound familiar anyone?).
When they can’t figure out why, Andy starts searching for a cure. Stem-cell transplants, pancreas transplants, etc. It touches on all the reasons why they are still in research stages, or not good for a “healthy” person with diabetes. Andy then searches to make his own cure. After all, he’s a smart boy. When his “cure” fails, he becomes frustrated and sad.
In comes Campbell, another young person living with diabetes. Campbell is played by Campbell Garver, a child actually living with diabetes. Campbell lets Andy know he’s not alone and introduces him to other children with diabetes. Andy Rogers wisely, and beautifully used all children living with diabetes (a full list of names will be listed below).
The final song “Walk for the Cure” left me in tears. Obviously written for the JDRF Walk(s) to Cure Diabetes, the beauty wasn’t in the words (though they were beautiful in their own right), it was in the children singing those words. All I could think as I sat there was that I have just celebrated 25 years living with diabetes. And all I could do is cry and pray that these children don’t have to live for 25 years with diabetes. That there will be a cure before they reach that “milestone”.
Andy Rogers did a wonderful job writing this musical. It’s informative, funny, a little snarky at times, touching, and it pulls at your heart strings. Even though the show has closed, I can’t help but hope that Andy has a way of keeping this show alive. Maybe local communities could do their own productions of the show? I believe that it should be done at Children’s Congress as well. Families affected by diabetes would LOVE this show.
Type 1 Diabetic Children:

-Campbell Garver
-Amanda Minutolo
-Autumn Barnett
-Natalie Olson
-Gwendolyn Dolenee
-Gavin Bentley
-Rachel Bentley
-Quinntin Bentley
-Catrina Estes
-Russell England
-Addysun Seaton-Camfield
-Dylan Green
-Riley Shover
-Ryan Hopkins
-Kelli Rogers

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hey all you folks in D-OC land. :) How's it goin'? I feel like I'm missing out on the D-OC and it's going on's. (Yes, I just totally went "southern" on all of you. Sorry, I'll rejoin the English speaking race now... )

I've been so busy lately. I've been trying desperately to get my life back in order now that my roommate has moved out (VERY sad :( about this!!!). I've been trying to get caught back up at work (we've been very busy). I've been thinking about buying a house (Ekk!!!). I've been putting up with the ten million snow storms that keep hitting here. Overall it's been kind of crazy.

In all of this, I've noticed something. While I miss the D-OC so much it's crazy, diabetes itself has taken somewhat of a backseat in my mind. Not my actual care, of course. That's been pretty decent. But the thinking about it, blogging about it, worrying about it has been less.

In fact, outside of my mini-celebration to celebrate my 25th diaversary, diabetes has pretty much been hanging out in the backseat of my life.

I'm not sure yet if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Diabetes is with me 24/7. As we all know, there are no breaks or vacations from this disease. So is stepping back from the D-OC and having diabetes advocacy and topics take a break from being in the forefront of my mind a bad thing?

I guess there's no "right" answer for that. I continue to blog when I get inspiration. I'll continue to be a part of the D-OC because you guys are part of my family. Heck, for all I know, my inspiration could hit tomorrow and I could be right back to posting three times a week. But for now, I'm okay with once a week and letting my mind have a semi-break from diabetes.

On that note, here's a picture of what I had to celebrate my diaversary:

And here is a totally awesom button that my friend made me to connect to my other blog. :)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spare Change

If you're like me, you don't carry a whole lot of cash on your person. But I'd almost bet that most of us could find a quarter rolling around in the bottom of our purses, or in an old coat pocket. A quarter. Twenty-five cents. When we're talking about change, that's not a lot.
But when we're talking about diabetes, twenty-five is a huge number. Twenty-five years ago today, a little 4 year old girl ended up in the hospital. Twenty-five years ago her life, and the lives of all those who loved, and would love her changed forever.
That little girl grew up. I'm almost 30 now. And diabetes is still around. As I'm writing this post my emotions are all over the place. Part of me celebrates. I celebrate LIVING with diabetes. I celebrate friends, and family, and the online community. I celebrate decent health. I celebrate the fact that parts of my life are so much better as a result of things surrounding diabetes.

But I'm also sad. I mourn. I mourn for innocence lost. I mourn for good health that I've never known. I mourn that people are still dying from this disease.

I'm angry because the doctors said "ten years" in 1986. I feel guilty because my health is better than some of my peers (Why did I get the good genes??).

Diabetes is an emotional disease. I am glad that some good emotions are coming out today. I'm going to Knoxville to celebrate a friend's birthday. But I'll also be celebrating 25 years. A quarter of a century of living with diabetes.

And just so you know... I'll probably have ice cream. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Maybe it's the cold winter weather and all the snow and rain. Maybe not. But my diet has gone to crap in the past several months. I used to be so good about limiting my fast food, and not eating pizza, and too much pasta or a lot of sugary foods. I did my best to eat fresh fruit and at least some veggies. But lately, all I've wanted is junk food.

Sweets, pizza, greasy foods. It's not that I haven't always loved them, I've just been better about controlling my urge to actually consume them all the freaking time! Not lately though. And my waistline feels it. I've gained weight. My insulin intake is up (partially from consuming more carbs, and partially from the crazy blood sugars that often go hand in hand with unhealthy foods). And I don't really feel good about myself right now.

I refuse to make my diet, exercise, or weight an New Year's resolution. I never keep those things anyway. :) But I do acknowledge my need to get back on track when it comes to my eating habits. And I'm going to start.

By no means will I give up all my junk food (I never do), but I am going to start making myself remember that I need to eat in moderation. Maybe then I can shed some of this weight, and eventually work my way back up to exercising again. We'll see...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Land of the Living

I think I might be joining it again. Really, after going on vacation to NYC, coming home and getting sick, my roommate buying a house and moving out, and my inability to get on the internet at work, I've basically been MIA.
And it SUCKS!!
But, things are starting to slow down again. And I did what I thought I wouldn't do for a long, long time... I got a smart phone. Yup. Although I won't use it all the time, I can at least check in on twitter a couple of times a day to see what's up in the world. :)
That makes me happy because I've missed you guys. I hate not knowing about what's going on in our community. It makes me feel out of touch and a little crazy.
As for diabetes blogging, right now I'm not sure what to blog about, so tonight, I'll just say "hi!" and let you all know I'm still breathing. And let you know I'll be back on the blogging bandwagon in no time.