Tuesday, February 25, 2014

There is no such thing as small change.

I held the insulin vial high above my head where the light from the gym windows could just catch the liquid left within.

“This is insulin.  Your bodies make insulin all day long.  Believe it or not, your body needs insulin to live.  My boys have Type 1 Diabetes.  Their bodies do not make insulin.  Just days without this…and they can’t be alive anymore.”

I gently shake the bottle to make my point.  Their eyes were bright with interest.  I had them.

“Thankfully, we’re able to inject this insulin into their bodies, and they can live a normal life just like you and me.  But there is a catch.  This bottle of insulin is very expensive.  This little vial alone costs about $150.  Our family goes through a bottle of insulin about every five days.  We are very lucky we have good insurance so we can afford to keep our boys alive and healthy.”

I pointed to a map bright on the screen projected by the overhead.

“This is Haiti.  And over here?  This is Africa.  When a child is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in these countries, their family almost always can’t afford the insulin.  Do you understand what that means?”

The children nodded solemnly.

“All they need to live are several drops of this very special liquid.  A lot of times bad things happen and there is nothing we can do about it.  But in this case, that isn’t true.  We all can help!  Even if we can only help one child, wouldn’t our efforts be worth it?”

Children are humble, loving, pure souls.  They have a knack for empathy.  When I asked them if they’d be willing to bring in $1 or more on Valentines Day to help these children live, they cheered.  When I told them their $1 would also buy them a pass to wear their favorite silly or fun hat to school that day too, they were beside themselves with happiness.

Two weeks later I walked around the school collecting envelopes thick with money.  Each teacher had a story. 

“This student’s family has nothing.  They are barely making it and they handed me a $20 bill.  I tried to explain to them that $1 would be enough, but they insisted.”

“That student over there handed me $40.  Her parents said they would match any amount of money she was willing to give of her own.  She gave it all.”

“Hi Mrs. Schuhmacher!  I gave money for in-su-lin!!!  I’m helping a kid in Africa be alive!”

All in all we raised $1000 for the Spare a Rose Campaign on behalf of Life for a Child.

This is the effort it took me:

5 minutes to talk to the students about the campaign.
20 minutes to prepare envelopes with attached class lists to hand out to the teachers.
20 minutes to put together a flier for the students to bring home to their families.
30 minutes to print the fliers and collate them for each class.
1 hour to collect and count the money.

Two hours and 15 minutes of my time, and what benefits did it reap?

16+ years of life for a child.

Please don’t sing my praises.  I didn’t do anything that any of you couldn’t do.

I writing this to show everyone within my reach that with very minimal effort, amazing things can come to pass.  If we all do something little, our little efforts unite into a tidal wave of help.

Look what the children of our Elementary School did!  

Today I dropped off 450 homemade chocolate chip cookies to the boys’ school.  On each class plate, I pinned this note:

Dear Teachers and Students,

Our Valentine's Day caps fundraiser was a fantastic success!  The (school name) community raised $1000 to put towards insulin for children in developing countries.  That is over sixteen and a half years of life for a child!

As with everything in life, your actions will have consequences.  I know we often think of consequences as a bad thing, but sometimes our actions reap good consequences too.  In that spirit, I wanted to say thank you for your kind donations by sending chocolate chip cookies your way.  I hope in the future this experience will fuel your desire to do more good in the world.  Many small acts of kindness can make a huge difference.  Look at the difference we made!

Congratulations on a job well done!

All our love and adoration,
Meri Schuhmaher and Family

I want you to know that I believe what I wrote to these children.  Too often I don't contribute, because I believe my contribution will be too small to be noticed.  Imagine if we all stopped thinking like that.  Imagine everyone, all of us, doing small things everyday to contribute.  I can scarcely imagine what a wonderful world this would be.

It's time to do our part.  "There is no such thing as small change."

Friday, February 21, 2014


There is someone you’re going to pass today that is having a hard time.  They might not know how to cope with the feelings they are having, and as a result the passing might not be kind.

Be gentle.

There is a person that you work with that’s family member is going through cancer treatments.  You don’t know that.  They are quieter than usual.  You want to tease them for being so quiet.

Be gentle.

There is a mother at the grocery store who is going to bump your cart and mumble an apology under her breath, that may not seem sincere…but her mind is her child.  She is overcome with worry.

Be gentle.

There is a person who is going to spout uneducated things about your condition.  You’re going to want to yell and use bad words. You’re going to want to strangle them.  But the truth is, no one has ever told them the truth.

Be gentle.

There is a driver on the road who is going to cut you off, and another one that is going to flip you off.  They are late for work.  If they are late again, they might be fired.  They can hardly pay their bills as it is.

Be gentle.

There is a person on Facebook who is going to say something you disagree with.  They are going to say it in a way that is going to feel personal. 

Be gentle.

There is a family member that is going to bug you today.  They are going to say all the wrong things.  They are going to try to burn bridges.  They are scared too.

Be gentle.

There is a blogger who has lost her husband.  She is angry that she is vulnerable.  She doesn’t know how to feel and wants to hide.  But she can’t.  She must walk around like everything is fine.

When you see her, be gentle.

Every person is fighting something.  Every person has opposition.  Every person has their own way to deal with things.

Not everyone deals with things the way you would.

Not everyone feels the way you feel.

And everyone, for the most part, wishes they could handle it all better.

When you see someone having a hard time, or acting in a way that is unbecoming…

Remember, we are our worst critics.  Generally, they know they are doing it.  Generally, they aren’t happy about it either.

But if they run into someone who is gentle?  Someone who forgives?  Someone who is kind?

It can change everything.

Today, I’m going to try hard to be more gentle.  

And then tomorrow, I'm going to try again.

Monday, February 17, 2014


I want to thank everyone for their amazing efforts to raise money this year on behalf of the Spare a Rose campaign.  At last count, we've raised over $26,000 for children in need of insulin.

If that isn't winning, I don't know what is.

Dozens of people shared my post and didn't leave a comment on the original post.  In fairness, I could only pick a winner that left a comment.  As Mean Scott would say, "RULES!"

I put the numbers one through twenty four through the random generator and out came:


Sarah of the Ethan and Isaac Show has won!!!

Here are your spoils!  Since Medtronic sent me double of things, I thought I would have two winners.  But Sarah has two young sons, and don't they both deserve a Lenny?  Also, Sarah's son and her husband have Type 1.  Don't they both deserve a water bottle?

So Sarah gets ALL THE THINGS!

Two Medtronic Water Bottles.
Two little Lenny the Lions.
Glucolift Glucose tabs.
Glucose Bits.
Unicorn key caps. (Unicorn being one of the DOC mascots.)
Two of our family favorites, The Princess Bride and The Sandlot.
A photo album.
A "LOVE YOU MORE" sign.  'Cause yeah, I love Sarah more.
Raising Teens with Diabetes.  (One day your little guy will be a teen.  AND I wrote a sidebar in it!)
Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring by the one and only Francine Kaufman.
A Medtronic tote bag.

Congratulations, Sarah!

It's a win/win for everyone.  Many lives will be touched because of the generosity of all of you and your willingness to share and get the word out!

I hope all this goodness circles back to you!  Have a wonderful week, everyone!

(Also, thank you Medtronic for your generosity!!)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Conversations about Diabetes.

Tonight we celebrated my youngest and his milestone of eight years of living with Type 1 Diabetes.  Since the evening was all about him, I let him choose where we would go for dinner.

Despite his brothers’ persuasive arguments for Red Lobster and Chile’s, L was personally torn between Wendy’s and Chipoltle.  He wanted both.  So in an effort to make this a night to remember, we went through the Wendy’s drive-thru for one “Son of a Baconator” and carefully cut it into four pieces to serve as an appetizer to our Chipoltle.

Yeah.  He said I was the best mom ever.  (Blush)

Anyway, sitting in Chipoltle we chatted a bit, and then got to reminiscing.

“Hey L?  Do you remember life before diabetes?”  He was diagnosed at 2 years old, so I already knew the answer.  He gave me a somber, “No.”

B chimed in though.  “I do!  I remember chocolate milk before diabetes.”

He was diagnosed at 5.

“What about you, J?” 

“You’re hilarious, Mom.”  Said whilst slapping his knee and rolling his eyes at the same time.  Diagnosed at 8 months old, he’s got a fire in him that is unmatched.

Later in the car the question was asked, “If the world threw their problems in a pile, and you could throw in your Diabetes…what would you pick instead of Diabetes.”

“I would pick being allergic to cheese.”  Says the teenager.

“So, you would choose being lactose intolerant?”

“Wait.  That would mean giving up milk.  Never mind.  I’ll keep diabetes.”

Ideas were thrown around left and right.

“Would you give away your diabetes for a pinky finger that had no bones?  Like it was a rubber snake, and just flung around all the time.”

That was a no.

“But I would give my left arm for a cure.” Says B.

“It’s really hard to button your pants with one arm.”  Retorts J.

“You’re right.  Diabetes stays I guess.”

The conversation took a turn to cures.

B offered this: “If our diabetes could be cured by 50 scorpion stings, and then you had to EAT the scorpion…would you do it?”

“Could I sauté it in butter?” Asked J.

“No.  You have to eat it live.”

“Then no.  I wouldn’t do it.”

My youngest then chimed in.  “I would drink anything for a cure.  Even if it made me throw up!  Even if it made me have diarrhea for days!  Any side effect…except dying.  I wouldn’t drink it if it made me die.”

“What if there was a magic potion that cured half the people and killed the other half.  Would you drink it?”  Asked the Tween.

There was a thoughtful pause and then they all agreed, no.  They wouldn’t take it.

“Yeah, anything that could make me dead, or give me cancer…it’s not happening.” Said my baby.

Crickets.  Just a whole lot of nothing for a couple minutes.

It all ended with my oldest saying he’d trade his problems for my problems.

“Really?” I ask.  “You really want my problems??”

And he answered, “Yeah.  You’re Mom.  You don’t have problems.  You’re awesome.”

And that tells me I must be doing something right, because apparently they think I’ve got it all together.

Man.  I’ve got them fooled. 

Diabetes may be around for a while, but it seems my boys have some idea how fortunate they are despite the craptasticness of it all.

I certainly wouldn’t give them my problems for theirs, but if there was a way for me to absorb Type 1 Diabetes away from them and into me?

Sign me up, people.  Sign.  Me.  Up.

In June B will celebrate 7 years of Type 1, and I realized that will make 30 years of diabetes combined in the Schuhmacher household.

In the meantime I’m google-ing “Eating a raw scorpion.”  Maybe it won’t be as bad as we think.

(Also, today is the day we're wrapping up the Spare A Rose Campaign.  Please read THIS post and direct as many of your friends as possible to sparearose.org.  When you're done, leave a comment  on the aforementioned post to enter to win a box of love.  HINT: Little Lenny is involved! Thank you!)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Diabetes is an invisible disease, right?

Yeah.  Then this happened.

 When my boys were little, they always wore their pumps in a pump pack, or a spibelt.  When they got older, they all simply put them in their pockets.

For my oldest J, that means he looks like this sometimes…

Because he needs to hold his wallet, his pump and his cell phone in his pockets.

I don’t know how it happened but my littlest L announced this morning he wanted to use a clip.

My first reaction was, “Oh honey, clips don’t work for us.  They always fall off and bungee jump off your waist.”  But then I realized that was true when they were toddlers.  No one has really been willing to wear their pancreas out in the open since they started walking around.

So of course I concurred with him that it was a GREAT idea!  Especially since he just got a new silicone skin from Medtronic for his pump.  It looked super cool, and now the world could see it.

Wait.  The world could see it.

As he walked around the house this morning with the pump hanging from his hip pocket, I couldn’t help but gawk.  Gawk?  It that the right word?  I don’t know…I stared a little, that’s for sure.

And when we walked into school I half expected the entire 4th grade class to flock to him and ask him what the heck was hanging on his waist… 

But there was nothing.

After school I asked him what everyone thought of his pump, and he said not one person said a word.  “Everyone already knows I have a pump, Mawwm.”

Even so, when we went to the frozen yogurt shop for a small treat, I walked behind him, watching him in a thoughtful head-tilted kinda way, wondering if everyone else was wondering what was hanging off his hip.

No one looked.   No one.  And trust me, I was looking for people looking.

We’ve been pumping in this family for 10 years, and here I was emotionally verklempt about him wearing his pump all naked out there for all to see.  Before, there was just a little tubing hanging under his shirt.  Virtually undetectable and serving only as a small tell to those that belonged to the same club.  But now, he was loud and proud.  Sure, I have loads of friends that I’ve hung out with that have worn their pumps on clips…but they weren’t my children.  And even though I knew it was ok…hell yeah it was more than ok…it still moved something in me a bit.

Invisible no more. 

But, you know what?  Man, within all that conflicting emotion, more than anything I was proud.

Proud that he is so comfortable with who he is that he doesn’t question wearing his pump for all to see.

It taught me that maybe showing some of our vulnerabilities might not be a bad thing.  Especially if we are strong enough to embrace those vulnerabilities.  Turns out doing so can turn weak things strong.

Maybe his pancreas doesn’t work, but he has a bangin’ blue pump to make up for it.  And I know, like anything else, I’ll get used to it and before I know it I’ll be surprised if someone asks me about it.

And he loves it…there’s that.

And he’s happy….there’s that.

And the bottom line is, if he’s happy.  I’m happy.

The end.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Spare a Rose Initiative and how you can help.

Maybe I can’t change the world.  But I can change one child’s world.

Maybe I don’t have enough money to make a huge difference.  But I do have enough money to make a huge difference for a child.

Maybe I can’t fly and hold these children that are suffering.  But I can send insulin, and help ebb their suffering a bit.

Maybe I can’t do all I want to do.  But that shouldn’t stop me from doing something.


I can do something.

You can too.

At the Medtronic Advocate Forum I learned that in Haiti and Africa, newly diagnosed children with Type 1 Diabetes have an 80% mortality rate.

90% if they are a girl.

Only 10% of girls are able to get their hands on insulin when diagnosed.  And for those that do, they often have to use a different insulin every month.  Whatever is available.  Sometimes that insulin is only long acting insulin.  Sometimes, it is only fast acting.  Sometimes it is a combo insulin of the two.

Whatever it is, they want it.

These children deserve a chance to live.

And the answer is simple.

 This vial can change everything.  This vial is life.

What if I told you that only 5 dollars would keep one child alive for a full month?  Wouldn’t you have an extra 5 bucks laying around?  Wouldn’t giving that 5 dollars to a child mean more than a Grande Mocha Frappuccino?

Please, consider donating today.  As a diabetes online community, we take two weeks out of the year to spread the love, and to save lives.

Spare a Rose, Save a Child is the brainchild of the DOC.

It is our opportunity to say, “I’m blessed to have insulin in my fridge.  I’m going to keep someone alive today as a token of my gratefulness.”

It’s our opportunity to spread the love on a day that is meant for love, Valentines Day.

To light your fire, I’m going to offer you this:  A Box of Love.

If you share this post, or heck, ANY post about the Spare a Rose campaign or even simply link to the Spare a Rose webpage, leave a message for me in the comments. Tell me whom you shared it with, or how.  You can share on your blog.  You can share on Twitter, on Tumblr, on Instagram, on Facebook…with your next-door neighbor, with your extended family by email…any share…that all it takes to enter you to win my Box of Love. 

Inside my Box of Love is a smattering of prizes, to show you that even a small gesture like sharing, can make all the difference, and reap great rewards.  There is only one box, and only one winner, and everyone can enter only one time. 

And donate.  You can use the widget at the top of this blogpost, or you can go directly to the Spare A Rose website.

And leave a comment, on this post.  Tell me what you did to spread the word.

Here is your opportunity to make a real difference in the life of a child. 

If YOU don’t.  Who will?  Do you think what you can offer is too small?  I think a month of life can never be too small.

We have less than two weeks.  Get the word out. 

And let’s change some lives.