Bye Phife – A Funky Diabetic

“Now here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am.

Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram.

I’m like an energizer cause, you see, I last long.

My crew is never ever whack because we stand strong.”


Five years ago I attended a screening of Michael Rapaport’s documentary “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest”. Tribe had been one of my absolute favorite Hip Hop bands (still is).  I went to a TCQ show shortly after college when I moved to New York City.  Busta Rhymes made a guest appearance and I remember fondly how everyone went bananas-cuckoo-crazy when he jumped on stage.  It was at THAT very show where A Tribe Called Quest announced that they were breaking-up.  It was shocking.

Years later I learned Michael Rapaport (actor/director) was at the very same NYC show in 1998.  He was so fascinated by the break-up and was a super fan, that he decided to make a documentary or “rapumentary” about the group’s rise to fame and subsequent feuding and break-up.  I made it my mission to go to the opening screening of the movie at the Tribeca Film Festival.  I knew Phife Dawg (member of TCQ) was diabetic, person-with-diabetes, and had undergone a kidney transplant.  i was quite curious to see how he was doing.

What I didn’t know, and was surprised to find while viewing the movie, was the significant role diabetes played in the break-up and conflicts within the band.  Diagnosed in 1990, Phife made it clear in both the movie and in the Q&A with the audience, that he struggled with his diabetes diagnosis.  Phife had problems with hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia as the fame of the band grew.  He also addressed how fluctuations in glucose levels led to moodiness which also led to conflicts with his bandmates.  I sat in the theater next to my college roommate, as Phife spoke, we both cried.


Can I kick it?

Yes you can!

This morning, I read that Phife passed away.  I just saw a release from his family that he passed from complications of diabetes.  One of my brothers contacted me about whether Phife was T1D or T2D.  Over the years, I have seen reports of both.  All I know, is when I hear of a loss of life from diabetes, I am flooded with feelings and then ideas. Today, I think of my many happy memories listening to and seeing a Tribe Called Quest while in college, when I was a brand new New Yorker, and at a film screening.  I think of the massive influence TCQ had on so many of today’s musicians.  I think of all the times I giggled listening to the incredibly creative lyrics of Tribe songs.

“When’s the last time you heard a funky diabetic?”


Paths Crossing – The BETES

There’s this woman who’s path and mine continually cross, more than she actually knows. It involves a whole substory from Spiegeltent (love) in 2006 to ringing in the New Year at La Soiree in 2014 (both were cabaret/vaudeville shows in NYC).  It’s a bizarre story but this woman, Marina, and I keep crossing paths in T1D Land too.  We have friends in common, are sometimes at the same events but never have more than a few minutes to chat (I did get to see her in action once at a JDRF TypeOneNation Summit in Long Island and was intrigued).  I follow her on all sorts of social media platforms (clearly, I’m a stalker), and with all of that said, I am quite disappointed I will not be in NYC this coming weekend to see her work with The BETES Organization.  So instead of trying to describe this myself, Marina sent me some information (she is the Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of The BETES Organization), and I share it with you below:
Our work is about the lived experience of living with chronic illness- the mental health, the emotional well being, and the social. Our programming currently focuses on the Type 1 space.
Whatever your story is – coming to understand and express the rewards and hardships of living with a chronic condition, surrounded by community. The act of expression gives validity to our narratives, and strengthens all of our voices, simultaneously helping those who we are surrounded by better understand the patient experience, strengthening communication and building compassion.
What we add to the mix is the transformative power of puppetry- suddenly, all of this invisible stuff has form and shape, and we can all see it, talk to it, cry and laugh at it.  Its a powerfully unique creative tool.
Our honorary event co-chair is Dr. Henry Anhalt, DO of T1D Exchange
Our honorees are Dr. Jason Baker, M.D. of Marjorie’s Fund and Dr. Barbara Anderson, PhD.
The event will hold a 45 minute section of our creative, participatory programming followed by a heated discussion with a leading panel of clinicians, advocates and patients, and will be followed by an award ceremony for our two honorees.
This is in-between a wine reception with a top-notch live jazz trio.
Here are the details:
Event: The Patient Voice 2016: Bridging the #Diabetes Gaps
Date: Sunday March 20, 2016
time: 1:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Location: 417 e. 61st street, Manhattan
3 minute video:
event registration page:
And click HERE for more general information on The Betes.

Melissa, Marina and Freddy

Throwback Thursday.



Many, many years ago, I thought I caught a trash bag while fishing with my family.  Nope.  I caught a flounder that made me the Second place Cape May County Flounder Fishing Champion for that summer.  I was mentioned in a local newspaper, received an official champion certificate, and a fishing pin to be worn on my non-existent fishing cap.  Pretty damn exciting.  Beating both of my brothers for Biggest Fish Caught on our trip was amazing.  Finding out I was the second place Cape May County champ and watching the looks of disbelief on my brother’s faces was effing awesome (especially since I thought I had caught a trash bag).

Was it fair?  I did bait my own hook so by family rules, it did “count”.  As evidenced by the photo, I was too scared to hold Freddy the Flounder while on the dock.  Notice my hands pinned awkwardly at my sides and the nervous/proud/just-luck-I-guess smile on my face.  That is the first mate’s hand holding MY fish in front of me.  What I lacked in fish holding, I made up for in bragging enthusiasm.  My brothers weren’t amused on the car ride home as I went on and on and on about how cool it was to be the ONLY member of our family to EVER get placed on the HUGE Cape May County fish board.

When I saw this fishy photo today, it made me smile.  So proud and jumping around like I had ants in my pants, until I was supposed to hold Freddy, and then I froze.  Everyone shocked.  I was considered the least “into” fishing and yet I won.  Winner, winner chicken (well flounder) dinner.  How was that fair?

It wasn’t fair.  Like so very many other things in life, it wasn’t fair.  And that’s my favorite part of the story.  We were on the boat the whole day.  No one on the boat had caught anything for awhile.  The Captain decided to move so we could fish in another spot.  Everyone reeled in their lines lickity-split, except for me.  I was teased by both brothers, all of us simultaneously realizing my upper body strength was truly pathetic.  As my rod’s hook and weight got closer, it became more and more difficult to reel it in, but the pull didn’t seem like there was a fish on the line (This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, errr, Atlantic Ocean.  I’d caught flounder before).  I remember thinking how cool it would be if there REALLY was a fish on my line after all this upper body weakness embarrassment.  I was wishing for that magical, “NO WAY”, moment.  Everyone was watching and I swear to God it looked like a shadow for a second and then like a big black trashbag being pulled to the surface.

Here’s what you need to know about flounder fishing.  You do NOT yank the line into the boat with the fish on the end.  Big No-No.  It won’t stay on the hook (I’ll spare you the details). You get the fish to the surface and then scoop with a net.  As the fish disguised as a trashbag came to the surface, the 1st mate yelled to me to stop.  Give me a break, dude.  My brothers were still mocking my lack of muscle tone.

“You caught a BIG one!!”

Huh?  I did?

Nope, not fair.  Luck.  And that’s why if you’ve made it this far in my fishing story, I implore you to read Melissa’s post from Diabetes Daily, “Diabetes Complications are Complicated” (If you haven’t already read it five times like I have).  She absolutely nails it and touches on things that have been on my mind…  guilty and frightened…yep, nails it.  Diabetes complications… nope, not fair… who is lucky?

Today there was a response to Melissa’s post (also on Diabetes Daily) from Marina, “To LOVE A Thing That’s Always Trying To Kill You: Diabetes“.  Wow and WOW.  Again, this touches on so much of where my mind wonders, and the very core of the place I have been struggling for months, “I am worth this struggle”…?

I’ve read Marianna’s post 3 times today and everytime, my eyes tend to get a little watery (allergies?) when I reach, “I am worth this struggle”…. This is my struggle, plain and simple.  If this mantra in any way can lift some of the weight of all this…. that anchor in my mind that seems a little heavier these days, I will gladly repeat this mantra to myself a hundred times a day.

I’ve got much more upper body strength these days.  I need to reel in that anchor a little bit now or I will sink.  I am worth this struggle.  How very beautiful.