Friends for Life 2014 – Pictures and First Thoughts

July 15th, 2014

I have been back from the Children with Diabetes Friends For Life conference for almost a week and a half, and I miss everything about the conference – except for my bed, a good, consistent internet connection, and a fairly regular sleep schedule. FFL was a game-changing conference for me, and I have not blogged about it before now, because, well, I have not been able to put my feelings, emotions, and thoughts about the conference in general and #MasterLab into coherent words. So, my first Friends For Life post is basically a compilation of some of my pictures from the conference. I have a lot more pictures, so there will be more posts, of both pictures, and my thoughts, but this was a good place to start.

First of all, attending FFL was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I felt like I was home, and that I was surrounded by friends – both those that I “knew” from the DOC, and ones that I met during the week at FFL. As I will write in another post, I learned the power of community, and how amazing and supportive this group  is (which I already knew!).

I learned some information while at FFL that will be game changing for me. The support that I got from attending the conference is something that I cannot adequately put into words.  I am eternally grateful to the Diabetes Hands Foundation, who, through the Diabetes Advocates program, gave me a scholarship for my travel to and from the conference, my hotel, and conference registration. 

picture with manny at FFL

With the absolutely amazing Manny Hernandez from Diabetes Hands Foundation.

The amazing and wonderful Mr. Mike Lawson!

Hanging out by the pool (one of the only times outside of the hotel building!)

At the Farewell breakfast on the last day of FFL with some amazing friends!

Photo booth picture from the photo booth at Tandem’s Adult Casino night party!

A very large group of us gathered for breakfast on Saturday morning

with Melissa (blogger at

with Jess (blogs at

with Kelly Kunik (blogs at

The restaurants at the hotel were extremely accommodating to food allergy needs. Each restaurant had Gluten Free options, and the chef would come out and talk to me personally at each restaurant and meal to ensure that my choice and order would be gluten free and meet all of my needs. Awesome, right?


More to come … I have a lot of thoughts after MasterLab, and more pictures to sort through. As I said, FFL was game-changing for me on so many levels. I am already working to do everything that I can do to make sure that I can be back there next year – my mental health needs it, and connecting with other amazing PWD in person is absolutely, truly wonderful and definitely something that I need! That connection is so important, and one that I don’t get the opportunity to do often enough.

My biggest takeaway from Friends for Life is the connections. All of the sessions were amazing, but having the time to truly connect with other PWD who just get it is the most amazing feeling. It is a place where no explanations are necessary, where walking and chewing glucose tablets on the way to a session, or a meal, or meeting up with friends doesn’t seem crazy, and where carb counts are listed on everything that is served. Glucose tablets are in the back of every conference room, and available at conference desks in multi-packs. Dexcom alarms go off, and half of the room looks down to see if it is their Dexcom firing a warning signal. It is about solidarity. Unity. A place where you don’t have to worry about hiding pump tubing or your pump, because others are in the same situation. Meters are everywhere, and FFL is certainly one place where nobody minds when you check at the table, during a session, or sitting with a group of friends. We are all part of a big family, and we can share the thread of “diabetes” same  – even if we may treat differently, we are part of the same community and share more similarities than differences.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about my week at FFL with you in the coming days, including more about MasterLab, and more about some individual sessions.

Disclaimer: I am eternally grateful to the Diabetes Hands Foundation, who, through the Diabetes Advocates program, gave me a scholarship for my travel to and from the conference, my hotel, and conference registration. The opinions that I share about Friends for Life are completely my own. 

~ Aliza


Book Review: “Balancing Diabetes” by Kerri Sparling

March 4th, 2014

It is very exciting to review “Balancing Diabetes” by Kerri Sparling. As many of you know, Kerri is an active member of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) and writes the wonderful blog Six Until Me. Kerri’s blog is one of the first that I found when I started exploring the DOC, and one that I read and follow. I was very excited when I found out from Spry Publishing that Kerri had a book! In full discloser, I received a review copy of “Balancing Diabetes” from Spry Publishing, but the review is completely my own thoughts and feelings.

“Balancing Diabetes” is a very easy, comforting read and one that I suggest anyone diagnosed with diabetes read – no matter what type. Reading “Balancing Diabetes” is like sitting in a room with so many active members of the DOC, and getting not only Kerri’s story and advice about how to handle life situations with diabetes, but getting to learn and hear the life experiences of many members of the diabetes community. Kerri expertly weaves the stories together into what is a great book filled with advice, anecdotes, and at many times left me feeling like I was definitely not alone in this world of life with diabetes.

The book talks about diagnosis, adjusting to a “new normal”, how to deal with your siblings, friendships, pregnancy and diabetes, relationships, diabetes devices, day-to-day life, work and diabetes, exercise, travel, advocacy work, college, and so much more. I feel like I could relate to so much of the book, and also was inspired and encouraged to read about the parts of Kerri’s life that I have not yet experienced yet myself (relationships can happen, and so can pregnancies!).

I would recommend that anyone with a diabetes diagnosis read “Balancing Diabetes.” It is an inspiring read, and helpful to know that you are not alone. There are other people out there managing, living, and thriving with diabetes. It is a nice to read a book from another person living with diabetes.

Why you never achieve your New Year resolutions and what you can do about it!

December 8th, 2013

Advertise 1

Do you set New Year resolutions, but never seem to achieve them?

Are you afraid of failure, afraid of change, and afraid that you don’t have all of the tools that you need to successfully reach your goals?

There are four main issues with which people struggle after the holiday season and transitioning into the new year. These issues are:

  • Stress management
  • Nutrition
  • Financial Health
  • Setting and Reaching goals

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Are you nodding your head along with each of these key issues, but thinking in the back of your mind that you can’t possibly combat these problem areas alone?

It can feel completely overwhelming to try to overcome these issues alone.

You’re likely:

  • afraid of failure
  • afraid of change
  • in fear that you do not have the tools to transition into this new healthy you this year

This New Year, we have a program to help assist you in these key issues. 

This group program consists of

  • Weekly discussions
  • Information on each weekly topic
  • Exercises weekly to help you reach your goals
  • Accountability to assist you in your journey
  • My personal attention and love throughout the program

You don’t have to do this alone. I am here to help you become the person you want to be and achieve the most optimal level of health possible.

Join us for this incredible program beginning December 22! 

The entire Healthy New Year Program is just $24 if you sign up before December 20! To get even more results from your program, add on a 1 hour session of one-on-one coaching for $74 (includes your Healthy New Year Program!), or get your year off to an even more powerful start by signing up for my signature 6-month one-on-one health coaching program and lock in my current rate of $80/month before my coaching rates increase in the new year!!

To sign up for the Healthy in the New Year Program, click on over to the Health in my Mind  website, where you can choose the program package that you’d like. 

You have a chance to win a Healthy in the New Year Program plus One hour of one on one coaching! Participate in the raffle for your chance to win! To participate in the raffle, click on the Rafflecopter link below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Review: “The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life”

September 30th, 2013

I’m very happy to be reviewing the new diabetes book from Spry publishing The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life by Susan Weiner and Leslie Josel.

I’ve been living with diabetes myself since November, 2001, and I generally consider myself to be an organized person. After all, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and, well, I like things to be in order. That tends to come in handy when managing a chronic condition like diabetes and everything that fits under that umbrella. I was on the Medtronic pump starting in 2003 until I started on the Omnipod pump system this past March (April?), and until I started on the Omnipod system, all of my Medtronic pump and Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) supplies were organized, along with extra blood glucose test strips, lancets, alcohol swabs, skin tac swabs, batteries for my pump, batteries for my meters, and extra meters. All of my supplies were kept in either large stacked plastic drawers in my closet that were easily accessible for site changes or the “overflow” supplies that wouldn’t fit in the drawers in the closet were stacked on a shelf in the spare bedroom. It was organized. I knew easily where to find supplies, and there weren’t supplies everywhere.

I also had a “diabetes bag” that fit enough supplies for an overnight or weekend away, and could carry a few extra pump sites, reservoirs, insulin, lancets, test strips, glucose tablets, batteries, alcohol swabs, skin tac swabs, and tegaderm.

Now, well, I’ve switched to the Omnipod system, and I’m very happy “podding” … but if you look at my supply drawers and shelves, you’d think that I was still on my Medtronic Paradigm, and low on diabetes supplies. So, why is this usually Obsessive Compulsive organized gal “living” out of boxes of diabetes supplies, currently having set up camp and made a “home” out of the upstairs hallway? I don’t know. In some ways, that is way beyond the scope of this particular blog post, and probably has to do with my OCD issues with change, and the fact that after over 10 years with Medtronic pumps, I jumped ship for something “new” and “different” – which, by the way, I absolutely love!

This book, by Susan Weiner and Leslie Josel gives excellent tips for organizing every aspect of your life with diabetes. I adore the way that this book is organized in and of itself. The book groups like topics together, in chapters ranging from organizing diabetes supplies, the kitchen, getting specific about your refrigerator and pantry (a whole chapter!), morning routines, diabetes at work, evening routines, diabetes at school – geared towards parents, how to deal with all of that paperwork from insurance companies and medical appointments, exercise, travel, and holidays.

I completely came away from reading this book with some new ideas for making my life easier, and how I can better organize my supplies and simplify some routines to make my diabetes life easier. After reading this book, I can tell you that I will be reorganizing my diabetes supplies, and switching out the “back-up” Medtronic supplies that are currently in the supply drawers for the currently-used Omnipod supplies, rather than living out of boxes in the hallway.

I think that this book is an excellent read for anyone with any type of diabetes who is looking to find a way to make life less chaotic and frenetic. There are some excellent tips in this book for not just how to organize in terms of space or routines, but apps that you can use for both iPhone and Android based phones to help manage your diabetes, and tips on how to incorporate some of those necessary tasks to live a healthy life with diabetes into your daily life, and do it without added worry.

I highly recommend this book, and think that it is an excellent addition to my diabetes library.

I was provided a review copy of this book by Spry Publishing. My thoughts and opinions on the book are completely my own. 

dblog Check in Day!

July 22nd, 2013

Chris from “A Consequence of Hypoglycemia” decided that we should have a check-in day, which I think is a brilliant idea!

I love reading other dBlogs and seeing what other members of the DOC are doing.

As most of you know, I haven’t been as connected to the DOC this past year as I usually have been because I’ve been in school. I’m trying to get back into blogging, and staying active on Facebook and Twitter.

I blog so that I can stay connected to the DOC and other PWD. I love the support that I gain from the DOC, and that I can help to provide to others in the DOC and the friendships that I’ve formed with other PWD, parents of CWD, and some spouses of PWD. It is amazing when I think about the strength of the connections that I’ve formed with my online friends and community, and how much I lean on my friends. I only hope that I will be able to meet my online community friends in the offline world one day.

I’m very thankful for the DOC and the support of my fellow dBloggers and OC members. You all have supported me through some difficult times during the past couple of years, and for that, I’m incredibly thankful.

I’m working on building my Holistic Health Coaching practice now that I’ve graduated from school, and will be starting the “Immersion” intensive part of my training at the end of the month. I’m really excited about this chapter in my life.


Aliza Chana


July 11th, 2013

I’ve been so busy with school that I haven’t had much time to blog! I graduated and I’m now a Certified Holistic Health Coach, and I hope to help people who are living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as other chronic illnesses with which I’ve dealt and learned how to manage over the years. School was amazing, but that is a post for another time!

In March, after pumping with a Minimed pump since 2003 when I started pumping, I started on the Omnipod system. I absolutely LOVE it!

I love the freedom from the tubing. I love being unattached, especially at night when I’m sleeping. I love that my PDM is also my BG meter, and I really only have to deal with one device. It is a great system for me, and while I’m still on the “old” system, I still find that it is amazing and wonderful, so I know that when I get the new system, from what I hear, I’m going to be even more thrilled by the smaller pod size and features!

I was a little bit unsure about making the jump from Medtronic to another pump company since they were my one and only pump company before Omnipod, and I really had no problems with them. The tubeless thing was just too appealing for me, and while at first, that is what made me uninterested in Omnipod, that is exactly what made them so appealing in the end. My sister’s wedding is coming up, and it is going to be great to be able to have my pod hidden and my PDM somewhere off to the side during the ceremony and in my purse during the night and not have to worry about hiding my insulin pump in my dress! There are going to be more times coming up where I will be dressed up, and I will be very happy to be able to wear a dress and not have to worry about where I’m clipping my pump for the day or evening. It is just so flexible!

And the beach… I was able to do whatever I wanted to at the beach, and know that I was still getting my programed basal rate. It is just awesome. I love it. I know that every pump is not right for every person, but I think that the Omnipod was the right decision for me, and I’m very happy that I made the switch!

My local representative was amazing at helping me make the decision and getting me started. Omnipod has been amazingly supportive, and I hope to work with them for a long time to come!



Strip safely!

July 2nd, 2013

As a PWD, I deal with more than my fair share of test strips … BG test strips, ketone test strips, more BG test strips. It seems that a rouge BG test strip follows me everywhere, and if I am anywhere for a prolonged period, chances are that someone will find the aforementioned rouge test strip somewhere in my vicinity.

What I shouldn’t have to worry about, as a PWD, is whether those test strips that seem to follow me everywhere, and that I use anywhere from 8-12+ times a day, are giving me accurate readings. I test my BG levels to keep myself safe, both now, and to prevent future complications. I can only do that when I’m armed with the best possible information to be able to keep my BG levels in the best range for me at any given time. If one meter will read 80, and another 150, that could mean two totally different treatment options! The current FDA standard is that test strips should be accurate +/-20%. That is a huge variance, and some strips can’t even hold to this standard!

Test strips are also highly unstable. The results can be impacted by cold, heat, exposure to air (yep, keeping them outside of the test strip container can impact the results!), not washing hands or having residue on hands before testing, expiration date, and some medications. That is a long list of possible things which can throw off your test results! Did you know that all of these things could impact your BG results?

There are newer meters on the market that have test strips with “improved” accuracy, but they are still only accurate to +/-15%. Also, FDA is not required to follow ISO standards for meter accuracy in the United States. This needs to change. This is why we need your help.

FDA does not have regulatory processes to insure that test strips in the US meet approved accuracy standards. Again, FDA does not have regulatory processes to insure that test strips in the US meet accuracy standards. This really needs to change.

We need you to help us change this. To help this effort, please write the FDA and congress to help hold our government accountable for the regulatory process, which they oversee.

With current standards, test strip accuracy can leave you with a wide range of results, and it is currently acceptable and approved to have this wide range of results. For example, if your BG is 100, the acceptable meter reading range is 80-120. If your BG is 150, your meter can read from 120-180. If your BG is 80, your meter can read from 64-96. If your BG is 200, your meter can read from 160-240. Think a treatment decision is difficult? Well, it is really difficult if you don’t know if you are getting correct information from your BG tests!

If you want to help change BG test strip accuracy, please head on over to to find out more information about the Strip Safely campaign!

If you want to write your elected officials or write letters to the FDA, here is some contact information:

Find your Elected Officials at this site:

Leaders at the FDA:
Jeffrey Shuren, MD JD
Director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue, WO66-5442, Silver Spring, MD 20993

Katherine Serrano
Diabetes Branch Chief
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue, WO66-5646, Silver Spring, MD 20993

Alberto Gutierrez, PhD.
Director of the Office of In-Vitro Devices Evaluation and Safety
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue, WO66-5680, Silver Spring, MD 20993

Courtney Lias
Director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health
Division of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue, WO66-5640, Silver Spring, MD 20993

Leaders at the CMS
Jonathan Blum
Deputy Administrative Director-CMS
7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244

You can find sample letters at Strip Safely!

dBlog Week day 2: We the Undersigned

May 14th, 2013

Click for the We, The Undersigned – Tuesday 5/14 Link List
Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so todaylet’s pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to – a person, an organization, even an object (animate or inanimate) – get creative!! What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change? (Thanks to Briley of inDpendence for this topic suggestion.)

We, the Undersigned, would like for health insurance companies to cover reasonable amounts of the necessary diabetes supplies required to sustain our lives. Even though you don’t understand why we must go through 6 test strips to test blood glucose levels some days and more than 12 the next day, neither do we. It is called the fickle nature of diabetes. And while we are at it, please cover the continuous glucose monitoring sensors without charging exorbitant out of pocket fees to receive these supplies. Some of us are on fixed incomes, and cannot afford to pay $3,000+ per box of glucose sensors each month. These are not just luxury items, either. Sure, it is pretty cool technology and all to be able to have a device measure the general relative glucose level and show you trends, but that doesn’t eliminate blood sugar testing, and the whole reason that most of us who use these nifty continuous glucose monitoring devices in the first place? Oh yeah, it is because we can no longer sense whether our blood glucose levels are within safe ranges. I myself, while going through approval verification, did not feel a low blood glucose level until my meter literally registered “LO” and trust me, that’s not pretty! It is much safer, and much better if you pay for and approve these devices, because preventing just one emergency use of glucagon and the related emergency room and hospital costs associated will be much higher. Is that what you really want? Really? If you really want to keep us as healthy as possible, and keep us from having as little long term damage as possible, paying for technology like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring devices will prevent hypoglycemic episodes, retinopathy, amputation, neuropathy, nephropathy, and more. You may have to pay more now, but you will save money in the long term when you don’t have to pay for dialysis later. Or, worse, when the kidney damage is so bad that we need to be listed for a kidney transplant. It happens. So please, look at the long term costs, not just the money that you are paying right now. Look at the long term health costs and the long term health benefits that we will gain from this technology. Sure, you may pay more right now, but look at how much you will save when you have healthier, more productive members of society in five, ten, or even fifteen years down the line.


Aliza, a person with diabetes, type, quite complicated

dBlog week: day 1! Share and don’t share

May 13th, 2013

dblog weekClick for the Share and Don’t Share – Monday 5/13 Link List.
Often our health care team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let’s pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved one’s daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don’t see?  (Thanks to Melissa Lee of Sweetly Voiced for this topic suggestion.)

For those of you who follow my blog, or who have even read a little bit of my blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m not your typical open and shut case. Actually, there is nothing “typical” or “textbook” about me or any of my healthcare concerns. While I am seen at a teaching hospital, I am very used to seeing multiple care providers at each appointment, generally beginning with a medical student, a rotating resident, sometimes a fellow, and then, finally, my attending doctor. Fortunately, I’m at a point in my “medical history” where all of my physicians have been hand picked by my primary care doctor or other members of my team, specifically for the expertise that they have in abnormal cases like my own. I give my team a whole lot of credit. Actually, to put it in non-technical terms, my team is pretty freaking amazing! They give me the time, attention, and dedication to listen to my concerns, see the issues that may, and usually do not fit inside the neat little box (but when does diabetes ever play nice, and fit inside of the stereotypical box?!?), and work to appeal insurance rules that say that because I’m not a textbook “type 1 diabetic” I’m not eligible to remain on my current therapy of an insulin pump.

I’m lucky, because my team of CDEs live with type 1 diabetes themselves, and know what living with the ups and downs of diabetes is like. They know that sometimes, no matter what we do and no matter how hard we try, BG numbers are going to be wonky, and it will have nothing to do with what I did to manage my diabetes, or more, what I didn’t do. I consider myself to have the dream team when it comes to endocrinology providers, because when I ask about pump questions, chances are, my CDE will pull out her pump or CGM and show me how she’s doing things right now, not look down at me like I should have been able to do better. There is no judgement, and I feel so comfortable discussing what is and what is not working with my team. This hasn’t always been the case, but I feel so incredibly fortunate to have the team that I have now. They are truly amazing, and it makes living with a condition that must constantly be managed just a little bit easier.

~ Aliza Chana

Long time, no post!

October 31st, 2012


It’s been way too long since my last blog post, but I haven’t forgotten about the amazing DOC, and my dBlog! I’ve been super busy with school. As most of you know, I’m in the Health Coach Training Program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition this year, and I’ve just reached the half-way point! In fact, I received my mid-point certification, which officially allows me to begin to work with clients professionally! I’m very excited, and have lots of hope about what I will be able to do with this, and where this will lead me. I’m hoping to be able to make a real difference in the lives of people living with diabetes of all types, after living with d myself for over 10 years now and going through a misdiagnosis, MDI, and a few pumps and CGM.

I have learned so much through school at IIN, and know that I will learn so much more before I graduate next May. I am so excited about the knowledge that I’m gaining, and I feel empowered to do so many things. I have so many ideas, so many things that I want to do with this degree to be able to help others. I hope to be able to write more about my programs in detail in the coming weeks. For now, I want to invite you all to visit my health coaching website. If you are interested, I offer a free 50-minute consultation so that we can discuss your goals and how I can help you to achieve your goals. You can email me if you are interested in scheduling a consultation. If you are not local to the Chapel Hill/Durham, NC area, I offer sessions via Skype, FaceTime, Google chat, and phone.

In Diabetes land, I have been doing really well. My BG levels have been mostly cooperative, B”H, and I am rapidly approaching my 11th diaversary. World Diabetes Day, 11-11-12, will mark 11 years of mostly complication-free living with diabetes. Yes, I have neuropathy, but that is more attributed to a thiamine deficiency, and I have visual impairments, related to my pseudotumor cerebri. I can no longer detect a low BG until I’m dangerously low, but I’m thankful for diabetes technology, and my CGM. I’m also very thankful for my insulin pump, which allowed me to gain better control, and get away from multiple, multiple daily injections to maintain some semblance of control. I will write more about my diaversary later.

For now, that is all. I will try to update more frequently. School has kept me from my blog, and things that I love in the DOC, like DSMA, and frequent tweets and Facebook posts, but I will be back soon!

Aliza Chana

orange:will. women's diabetes awareness Visit this page to donate to my 2012 orange:will Walk page and help me meet my goal! I am stepping out of a big medical decline and working towards training to walk the 1 mile in the 2012 orange:will Walk! I can do this! If you think I can do this too, please visit my page and support me!!