When Kerri Sparling, the voice behind the popular diabetes blog Six Until Me and author of the recently published book Balancing Diabetes: Conversations about finding happiness and living well, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1986, the easiest way for her to connect with the diabetes community was through a diabetes camp. After Sparling aged out of the camp, she found it difficult to find others who shared her experiences with diabetes, and she often felt isolated.
“There was a long stretch of time where I was the only person with diabetes that I knew, and I would often Google ‘diabetes’ and a long list of diabetes-related complications greeted me in the search return,” said Sparling. “I started a blog in hopes that someone else might be looking for a person living with, and not dying from, diabetes.”
Within a week of her first blog post, Kerri connected with several other diabetes bloggers, and now 10 years later, there is an entire community of diabetes bloggers.
“It’s an inspiring and supportive network that I’ve had the honor of watching bloom over the last decade,” she said.
Although it took some time for Sparling to gain access to the larger diabetes community following her diagnosis, she quickly found great diabetes care, education and support at Joslin Diabetes Center. At Joslin, Sparling was under the care of R. Dumont, M.D. and Alyne Ricker, M.D.
“I remain forever grateful for access to such progressive care,” commented Sparling.
Sparling currently receives her diabetes care from Florence Brown, M.D., co-director of the joint Joslin-Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Diabetes and Pregnancy Program and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“I’m grateful for Dr. Brown’s guidance and expertise, as she has helped me make the most important transition, to date, in my life; she helped me achieve my goal of becoming a mother,” commented Sparling.
“The Joslin/BIDMC Pregnancy Clinic changed my life and my daughter and I are both healthy and happy as a direct result of their education, compassion, and care.”
Sparling’s journey with diabetes and blogging led to the publishing of her book, Balancing Diabetes: Conversations about finding happiness and living well. The process of writing her book was an intimate one that took place amidst Sparling’s day-to-day life as a mother and blogger.
“The process of writing a book was emotionally intense, because I wasn’t writing fiction – I was writing about my real life, and incorporating stories from the real lives of other people with diabetes,” explained Sparling.
This book focuses on the “life” part of living with diabetes, and brings attention to the balance that Sparling and others hope to achieve with their day-to-day diabetes management. This includes common diabetes-related challenges, such as learning to view diabetes as something that does not define one’s life and finding a way to lead both an active life that is not controlled by insulin.
In addition to documenting her own experiences and anecdotes with diabetes, Sparling also included excerpts from her own caregivers as well as the caregivers and perspectives of other people with diabetes.
“I am grateful that so many friends agreed to share their voices, and that they trusted me with their words,” said Sparling. “This book is for the community of ‘like-pancreased’ people who work hard to make diabetes a part of their bigger whole. It’s not a ‘how to,’ but more a ‘keep at it.’”
“There is a life to be found after diagnosis, and it’s a good one,” commented Sparling.