Thursday, November 19, 2015

How Many "Pricks" Before A Change?

Lancets - The lovely little things that prick our fingers to produce a precious drop of blood so we can test our sugar.

The companies that make them say we should change them every time we test.  Of course they do; they make more money if we use more.  I test my blood sugar an average of 8 times a day (I often do it more than that).  That's approximately 2,920 lancets a year.  They usually come in boxes of 100 so that's a bit over 29 boxes a year.  The average cost (from a Google search) ranges from $7 to $15 a box.  While not the most expensive part of diabetes - YIKES!

Lots of us don't bother changing them regularly.  There are many memes (funny as hell!) floating around like these:

There are articles and blogs about this as well.  Some of the experts (CDEs and doctors) seem to think it's OK to keep using the same lancet.  Read their thoughts here, here, and here if you are interested.

I DO change mine but not for every test.  Except, if I use that son of a bitch for too long it starts to hurt.  And I'm a wimp.  A. Total. Wimp.  That means I want to I'm forced to dig out a new one and make the big change.  Sometimes I can go a couple of weeks and sometimes it's a couple of days.

I read Kerri's blog about this and still was not moved to the once a day change.  I just re-read it while doing research for this post and now I feel like she's hit the nail on the head.  I guess I'm older and wiser?  Well, older for sure.  Once a day doesn't seem so bad.  That's only 365 lancets a year.  I think I'll try to follow in her footsteps.

Change is good, right?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Rollercoaster That He Didn't Want To Ride

Angry and I were on vacation in Mexico in June.  Being brand new to my continuous glucose monitor (Dexcom), I had decided to leave it at home.  We were going to spend the majority of time in the pool.  I didn't want to chance ruining a brand new receiver and it doesn't read through water very well anyway.  It would have come in handy at least one time though when I had one of the lowest lows I've ever had.  

Angry wanted to tell his side of the story.  Those that love us D Peeps will understand and he wanted them to know that they are not alone in their very own struggles and worries.

This 'story' is written as he told it to me:

We got back to the room after dinner and I wanted to watch some TV.  You went to bed and fell asleep pretty fast (I could hear you snoring!).  About half an hour later you asked if it was "hot in here."  I told you no and I figured it was a hot flash speaking.  A couple of minutes later you asked me again. 

My first thought after that was "Oh shit" and I went to the bed planning to touch your back to see if you had the cold sweats.  I could SEE before I had to touch you that your hair was wet.  I knew I had a problem on my hands.  But you were conscious and talking to me so I was hopeful that this wouldn't be too bad.

I asked you if you wanted to test your blood sugar and you, for once (actually I think that was the first time ever), said yes.  I got your meter and sat next to you on the bed.  You were turned away from me so I couldn't see the result but you said, "It's low."  I was surprised because you usually say "I'm fine."  And normally that's where our battles begin.

I offered you some crackers and you told me that those wouldn't  work fast enough.  This got me feeling good as I assumed you weren't too low.  You'd not be able to understand that if you were.  The mini fridge in our room had juice so I got both the apple and orange juice bottles and asked you which you'd like.  You got me a bit worried when you told me you don't like apple juice.  Yes you do!  Was your normal 'fight' response coming out?  You did drink some orange juice but then became obsessed with the carb count.  You kept turning the bottle around and around trying to read and understand how many carbs were in there.  I tried to reassure you that everything would be fine and finally just took the bottle away from you in frustration.  I was getting pissed that you wouldn't drink it!

Even though you had just barely had any juice, you kept insisting that you needed to check your blood sugar.  I handed you your meter and you tested at 25!  In the 26 years we've been together I don't remember ever seeing a number that low.  My adrenaline was already pumping and now I felt a bit panicked.  Then you dumped the bottle of test strips on the bed and that really bothered you.  You couldn't pick them up no matter how hard you tried and just kept fumbling and fumbling.  The words "What about those?" were repeated over and over as you were struggling.  I told you several times that they'd be fine and you needed to worry about getting your blood sugar back to normal.  You just kept at it and I finally picked them up myself. 

You asked again, "Did I test my blood sugar?  I think I should test my blood sugar.  What about my blood sugar."  I told you that you had just tested and and we were going to drink some Sprite instead.  You wouldn't touch the soda until I let you test.  The meter (about 10 minutes since the last try) said 29.  I told you, "See it's only 29 so let's drink some more."  You asked me "Is that bad?" and I told you "Yes."  Then you asked me "How do I know that the reading is right?"  My answer was "Because it's always right."  The argument was still winnable or so I thought.

But no, that answer didn't work as you kept asking "What was my blood sugar?  Do I need to test my blood sugar?"  I told you several times that you had just tested a minute ago and it was low so you needed to drink the damn Sprite.  But you just kept saying over and over, "I need to test my blood sugar.  I should test my blood sugar.  Did I test my blood sugar?  How do I know what my blood sugar is?"  I explained that you had tested three times already and you said I needed to show you the used strips to "prove it."  I was not digging in the garbage for the fucking test strips so I told you to "trust me."  But you kept asking to test since I couldn't prove you had.  So you tested again, four minutes later, at 28.  It wasn't moving up yet but I knew that it wasn't going anywhere THAT quickly. 

I kept trying to get you to drink more Sprite but you decided that it now tasted "yucky."  I hoped that between 1/2 a bottle of orange juice and maybe 1/2 a can of Sprite something good was going to happen with your blood sugar.

You sat quietly for about fifteen minutes while I watched to be sure you didn't pass out.  Then out of the blue you asked me what was going on.  I told you that we had a bit of a problem and I suggested another test because you seemed to be feeling better.  About an hour from "Is it hot in here?" and you were reading at 64.  Thank God!! 

I felt like we had it under control and that you'd keep rising and you surprised me by actually taking a couple more sips of that "yucky" Sprite without me asking you.  Your pajamas were soaking wet but you didn't want to change because you didn't bring any extra.  I told you to wear one of your cotton tank tops and a dry pair of underwear instead but you made a goofy face and said, "No way; that's not pajamas!"  I let you win that argument even though I felt bad.  Was I going to wrestle you to change?  No way.

At that point you said you felt sick to your stomach but you were going to try to get back to sleep.  I would have liked you to stay up a bit longer and test again but I was pretty sure you'd be OK.

I tried to get to sleep myself but I felt like I had just run a marathon.  My heart was pumping, my hands were sweating, and I was trying to get over being completely freaked out by those numbers.  I've been through a lot of lows with you but I've never seen numbers that low.

That's what Angry told me.  I vaguely remember picking the orange juice.  I do remember testing at 64, tasting yucky Sprite, and feeling like I was going to puke.  I don't remember anything else.  Over an hour of my life had disappeared without a trace. 

We discussed what happened at breakfast the next morning and he asked me what my original test was since he didn't see it.  I checked the meter and it was 27.  As I scrolled through the night's readings I wasn't sure I ever remembered seeing numbers that low either.  That's when he told me, "That was like a rollercoaster.  I didn't enjoy the ride though."

I feel guilty for episodes like this one.  I hate that he worries.  I hate that he knows I may need help at any time.  I hate that he wonders what will happen to me if I'm alone during a hypo like that.  I know that the CGM has helped alleviate some of those fears but they still exist, even if they are buried a bit deeper in his brain.

But I also feel blessed that he's my partner in all things, including my diabetes.  I have a husband who has spent our time together supporting me and helping me.  He loves me despite and because of my diabetes.  I couldn't ask for anything more.  I'll try to keep him off the rollercoasters from now on but I'm not promising anything.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Diabetes Online Community #DOCBurnout2015 - Let's All Behave!

I'm very new to the DOC (Diabetes Online Community).  In fact, until March of 2014 I didn't realize it existed!  I knew if I used Google I could find plenty of information about things like pumps and CGMs.  Other than that, I knew bupkis.

Thanks to Diabetes Daily, I'm participating in the first ever Diabetes Online Community Burnout (#DOCburnout2015) Experience

I jumped into the DOC after the first Diabetes UnConference and started blogging (all be it sporadically).  I read a ton of other blogs and am I member of several Facebook communities related to diabetes.  I don't do a lot of posting or reading on the great site TuDiabetes because I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed there.  I plan to get more involved because there are so many good people using that site.

One thing we all need to keep in mind is that behind every computer keyboard there is a human being with feelings.  If you read, contribute to sites, blog, or do anything else in the DOC you need to remember that.  Always.

I think that cyber bullying is one main reason we can and do burnout.  It's not necessary nor it is nice acceptable.

Use some restraint if you feel a question has been asked "a zillion times" and give a helpful answer (or skip over that post if it bothers you that much). That question is new to that person!  They may be confused or frightened.  I've personally been too upset to do "a search" for an answer and thankfully people responded to me positively.

Use some restraint if you disagree with someone's diet, exercise program, choice of medical devices (or not using them), testing routine etc.  Each of us deals with our diabetes in different ways.  What works for me may not work for you.  As we often always say, "Your diabetes may vary."  If someone says that they found something that helps them, how about saying "good job" or some other encouraging words?  If their ideas don't appeal to you keep your criticism to yourself and move on.

Remember, cinnamon does not cure diabetes.  Don't post or forward incorrect medical information.    If you see someone else doing so, notify the site administrator so that it can be removed.  The spread of erroneous information hurts us all.

If you are being bullied, walk away.  A bully loves your anger or fear and they will feed on that forever.  You will never, ever win a cyber fight with a bully.  Ignoring them makes them fade away.  It can be hard but take a deep breath and move on.  If you have been personally attacked, contact the site's administration to report the person and their content.

The DOC is a very important part of our lives.  Reaching out with questions, successes, failures, and ideas is helpful to all.  I personally found the "me too" factor beyond words.  How very comforting to know I'm we're not alone.  We should be, at a minimum, courteous to those who are on this ride with us.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sometimes It's The Simple Things

Lest we not forget how simple things can affect our blood sugars . . .

I have a TON of filing to do at work.  When I say a ton, I'm not kidding.  I decided to take about an hour today to work on some (which now puts me only ONE YEAR behind so that's a win victory).

My blood sugar was about 135 or so before I started.  I had just checked to see if I was spiking after breakfast.  As I filed, it dropped to 87 with a down arrow.  Is filing considered exercise?  Man, I'd rather go to the gym! 
Filing is exercise? I vote no.
I finished and sat back down to work on something else.  Suddenly my Dexcom receiver buzzed, warning me that I was at 70.  "OK" I thought, "I'm not moving around anymore so I'll be fine."  Nope.  A minute or two later, another buzz and I'd dropped to 57.  Well now, that's no good.

At least I didn't have a down arrow.
I had to finish one thing before testing and considering how to treat the darn low.  I have to stop doing that.  Work can wait; hypos can't.

Angry texted me a few moments later to let me know he'd seen my low.  He knows me all to well and always assumes I'm waiting to treat.  His text prompted me to stop what I was doing and test my blood sugar (the meter read 58 so Dexcom was spot on this time).  I decided to treat by eating an early lunch.

It's hard to remember that anything and everything we do can have an effect on our blood sugars.  I was reminded of that today.

Stay safe out there!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Luck Be A Lady

I'm a lucky gal.  Am I lucky to have diabetes? No. But I'm lucky to have a great team to help me stay healthy.

I visited my Endocrinologist yesterday.  I really, really like her.  She's a great doctor but she's also a super friendly and sweet person.  Our first bit of conversation was about how hard it is to keep up with all our passwords.  She was logging into the hospital's computer to see my records and we started chatting about how and where to keep these things.

Once we moved on to discussion of my health and diabetes, she was all business. 

Angry and I joined a gym and started personal training a little over a year ago.  I've had several discussions with my CDE about adjustments in my basal rates (on my pump) to stop the highs and lows associated with that exercise.  We talked about that yesterday and I told her I found a "sweet spot."  She took notes and asked me if she could share my adjustments with some of her other patients.  A few are still struggling even with her and her team's help.  I felt like a diabetes champ when she told me, "I like your approach and your self-awareness."

We also discussed statins.  She explained to me that the ADA is now recommending that all people with diabetes over the age of 40 and a LDL of 70 mg/dl or above take a statin for "heart health."  Mine is well below the recommended 100 mg/dl "optimal" number so I told her, "I'm not taking a stain unless I will die without it."  She looked at me and said "OK."  What?  A doctor that listens to her patients?

I started my CGM (a Dexcom) about three months ago so we also discussed that.  We chatted about my feelings about it, how I was using it, and if I'd recommend it to others.  We didn't download any data.  She said that she felt she didn't need to babysit me because I was making great adjustments on my own.  I did give her the low-down on the trends I was seeing and she was glad I had that information at my fingertips now.  When I told her I didn't know how I had lived all these years without the CGM she told me that she was glad I finally decided to try it (I had been terrified of it before).  She also asked if it was helpful with my hypo unawareness.  "Holy crap, YES!" was my heartfelt response.  Her feelings were that this was the most important factor for me (and thank goodness that I was getting some help that I needed).  Her last questions was, "Do you or did you feel overwhelmed by it?"  I explained that I had been to the Diabetes UnConference in March and learned a lot about them there.  I had also joined Facebook groups to get info and support before I got mine.  In other words, no I was not overwhelmed.  "Awesome!" was her response.

I walked out, having spent almost an hour with her, feeling like a person that mattered, that was respected, and that had someone who actually listened and cared about me and what I was doing to stay healthy and happy. 

I certainly am lucky.

Monday, June 1, 2015

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

I recently saw a post on a diabetes Facebook group that made me sad.

A woman posted that her husband's family just didn't understand how horrid having a low blood sugar is and how it affects him.  She said that his family believes his Type 1 can be cured with vitamins and they won't listen to him or her as they try to explain how diabetes actually works.  She asked for suggestions for ways to get them to listen and to be more supportive.

I thought about this post for a while and realized how lucky blessed I truly am.

These tasted like crap. Literally.
I was diagnosed at the age of 7 and honestly don't remember NOT being diabetic.  My life has always included the hustle and bustle of blood sugars, insulin reactions (as we used to call hypos), glucose tablets (who remembers the square, hard as a rock, and gross tasting BD version?), insulin bottles, syringes, insulin pens, a pump, and most recently a CGM.

Growing up, my friends were always there for me.  They'd remind me to take my shots if we were in the midst of a crazy party.  They'd watch for lows and help me if I wasn't able to help myself (even calling an ambulance once when I was in college).  They never judged me.  They never acted as the 'diabetes police' by asking "Should you be eating that?"  The friends I've made as an adult are exactly the same.  How would I handle life if they didn't have my back?

Way back when, we were told we couldn't have any sugar.  None at all.  My childhood friends' parents were always aware of how to cook for me.  No judgement was passed when I DID grab some cake or ice cream.  There was always Tab or sugar free Kool-aid for me to drink.  They made sure there was plenty to eat for breakfast and snacks if I was at a sleepover.  They made sure everyone waited for me when I needed an extra minute or two to take a shot when everyone else wanted to eat or go to bed.

This sucked but it was all we had for a while.
Then this came along! Not much better really.
My family loved me and always, always helped and supported me in any way possible.  For heavens sake, they had to give me shots until I learned to do it myself!  They never judged or berated me for 'cheating' when I snuck candy bars in my pocket before school.  My Dad, when I was 7 and crying about having to take shots, always tried to cheer me up by suggesting that he could give me one in my tongue.  That always made me laugh!

My co-workers understand that I may flip my lid if my blood sugar is low or high.  They let me blow off that steam without getting mad at me.  They also know that I may need help if I'm low and have said if they aren't sure what to do, they'll call 911 and let the experts take care of me.

And most important of all is my wonderful and amazing husband, Angry.  When we started dating, I told him I was diabetic.  He didn't know squat about diabetes but he learned quickly.  I had several very bad hypos while we were dating and he never let it phase him (even when he was covered in honey and Pepsi while wrestling with me to force feed me).  When we got engaged, I asked him if he could "handle" that for the rest of his life.  He said he loved me and that meant he loved my diabetes too.  He's literally saved my life several times and can smell a hypo from miles away.  We've had ups and downs because of diabetes but he's never given up on me, or been mad at me, or judged me.  He's always supported any decision I've made and tried to whisk away my frustration when I've made mistakes.  When I was ready to get my CGM I was pretty scared.  He told me to think of it as a new, even better chapter in my life.  I couldn't ask for more.  His love gives me a lifeline that I couldn't live without.

My heart goes out to those that don't have the kind of support I have (and have had all my life).  I hope that those who don't can find some in the DOC.  There are lots of us out here in the cyber-world who are ready and willing to encourage, reassure, or give comfort.  Sometimes we just need to hear "I understand." or "I've done that too!" or "Keep up the good work." or even "It's OK, things will get better."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What About My Dexcom? - Updated*

I wanted to shares my thoughts about my brand new (one week old) Dexcom.  Just so you understand, I've been pretty fearful about trying a continuous glucose monitor.

My insurance company requires that I purchase my Dexcom 'starter kit' and all future supplies from Byram Healthcare.  Byram did contact me to see if I was aware of and OK with the amount I'd have to pay since I've not met my deductible yet.  They also asked what color receiver I wanted (PINK!).  I'm disappointed that after the initial phone call I've heard nothing from them.  How do I order more supplies?  What do I do if I have a sensor, transmitter, or receiver failure?  How do I contact them with these questions or for other help?  I guess I'll use 'the Google' to find an 800 number to call so I can get some answers.

Shouldn't I have heard from Dexcom?  I'd think they contact new users to see if they have any questions, concerns, or if they would like any sort of training with a local rep.  My training only exists thanks to YouTube and the user's guide.  Another disappointment right out of the box.  *UPDATE:  When I got home last night, I had a message from Dexcom telling me to give them a call.  It's like they saw my blog and picked up the phone.

There are Facebook groups for Dexcom users and they have been a great place to find hints and tips.  Thanks to them, I restarted my sensor yesterday to see if I can get more than the recommended seven days out of it.

What I like:

Low alarms.  I'm hypo unaware and this helps a ton.  This was the main reason I was interested and my CDE was excited to fill out paperwork for me.  I've been woken up twice so far and have been able to get glucose tabs without going so low that I can't function.  This is a true lifesaver which makes it a super duper pro!

The ability to bolus with the knowledge of where my blood sugar is heading.  If I use my meter alone, I may have a 100 BS at lunch.  I'll take my bolus based on my insulin to carb ratio.  Sometimes I'll spike, other times I'll drop like a rock.  Now I can adjust my bolus if I see up or down arrows (especially double ups or downs!). 

The ability to see how exercise is affecting my BS right while it's happening.  I've been testing before I work out and then right after.  Basal rates for exercise have been an experimentation.  While that's worked out fairly well, this is a much better option.  This past week I saw that I go up really fast when strength training.  I went down during exercise classes and while walking on the treadmill.  I stayed steady then jumped up pretty fast (double up arrows) right at the end of spin class yesterday.  As I watch my trends for the next two weeks or so, I'll make some better choices on basal rates to keep myself steady.

This may be silly but I like that the receiver has a rechargeable battery.  I love my Animas Ping pump but I hate buying lithium batteries and replacing them about once a month.  It gets expensive and I feel bad for throwing all those batteries in a land fill.

What I don't like:

Having another thing 'stuck' to my body all the time.  I've been using my pump for about seven years and never had an attachment issue.  Now that there are two things I'm feeling a bit like a cyborg.  Maybe I'll have super powers soon?

More junk to carry around.  While the receiver is small it still takes up space.  I did order a cute pink case from Myabetic.  Who likes bright colors?  This girl!  I'm also at a loss right now looking for a place to put that receiver at the gym.  I ordered a couple of exercise bands, one from Tallygear (in purple cause I DO like bright colors) and one from Myabetic so I can try to wear this thing on my arm.

The sensor insertion contraption is really intimidating.  I'd seen it in YouTube videos and on Dexcom's website but when I opened that package I sort of worried freaked out.

Just look at that thing!
Angry did stand right next to me and read the instructions as I inserted for the first time.  Surprise!  It wasn't too hard and it didn't hurt at all.  This should be a short term con for me.

In reverse to liking the rechargeable battery this means I have another charger to carry with me when I travel.

Funky tan lines (can you say First World problem?).  Right now I'm wearing it on my stomach and I don't do bikinis so it's OK.  I do want to try my arms soon and I feel like I'll look goofy (although some may say I already do!).  I think I'll call this an "I can deal with it" con.

As you can see, my cons are pretty slim compared to my pros.  After using this thingy for a week, I think I'm already sold.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

#DBlogWeek Day 7 - Continuing Connections

We've come to the conclusion of the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week.  This was my first year participating as I've just started my DBlog.

I want to thank Karen Graffeo at Bitter~Sweet again for pulling this together.  I'm so glad to have participated.

Today's Topic:  The very first inspiration for Diabetes Blog Week was to help connect our blogging community, and that continues to be the most important reason it's held every year.  So let's help foster and continue those connections as we wrap up another Dblog Week.  Share a link to a new blog you've found or a new friend you've made.  Or pick a random blog off of the Participant's List, check it out and share it with us.  Let's take some time today to make new friends.

I've discovered a bunch about a gazillion new diabetes blogs/bloggers this week.  What fun I've had reading them!  I will be adding a bunch to my reading list on this blog (look over to the right to find it).

Everyone's blogs were fabulous and I will continue to read them regularly.  But there were a few that stuck out to me.

Tamsin at Type 1 Diabeater - She inspired me by her outlook, her love of life, and her healthy lifestyle.

Brian at The Trials of Type 2 Diabetes - He is a great spokesman for Type 2 diabetics and a diabetes advocate.  I was lucky to have met Brian at the first annual UnConference.  He's totally cool.

Ally at Very Light, No Sugar - I love her sense of humor!

Alanna at Life on T1 - She is completely open and honest.  I appreciate that.

Celine at Running on Carbs - She makes me want to be a healthier person.

Thanks to everyone who participated.  You all let me dive right into the DOC that is so new to me.  I'm already looking forward to next year's Diabetes Blog Week!

Here's a list of other posts on this topic.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

#DBlogWeek Day 6 - Favorites and Motivations

Welcome to the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week!  This is my first year participating as I've just started my DBlog.

Today's Topic:  If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blog post that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don't have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog? 

I've blogged for a few years in the non-diabetes world.  It was a 'look at the silliness of life' type blog.  Life got in the way so I haven't posted there in over a year.

Now my DBlog life has begun!  I'd only written two posts before this wonderful Diabetes Blog Week has kicked my butt into high gear.

What motivated me to blog about diabetes?  That's very easy to answer.  In my four decades of diabetes, I've never been part of the DOC.  I wasn't even aware it existed!  Last year I caught wind of a Diabetes UnConference (thanks to Facebook) and decided I needed to go. 

As I met and talked to more and more attendees, I realized that many of them had great blogs (check them out over there on the right side of the page).  I started thinking that maybe it would be fun to share my thoughts, experiences, and memories.  I'm hopeful that maybe someone might find some comfort, some humor, some hints or tips, or even a new idea or two from my words.

And on the selfish side, I feel like I want to keep some sort of record for myself.  This is also my 'journal' about my diabetes.

So here I am, blogging away.

Here are more posts on this topic.

Friday, May 15, 2015

#DBlogWeek - Your Crazy Stories - Wildcard Topic

Welcome to the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week!  This is my first year participating as I've just started my DBlog.  Thanks to Karen at Bitter~Sweet for this wonderful opportunity!

Today I'm posting again to join a "Wild Card" topic called Crazy Stories:  Diabetes can sure bring some crazy moments.  So tell us your Top 3 craziest D related stories!  If you can't think of three, don't worry.  We're just as happy with one or two. . .

Once upon a time, there were three bears.  Momma bear, Poppa bear, and Baby bear.  Oh wait . . . That's not the story you want to hear is it?

Mine is an ongoing story.  I have terrible horrifying nightmares when I'm low in the middle of the night.  I'll try to describe them.  I hope you can get a sense of how awful they are.

I have two types of nightmares.

One centers on a sort of time swap theme.  I'll be doing something and go back and forth in time to find out I've made a horrible mistake and everyone (including myself) dies because if it. 

The other centers on me having to do something or the world will end.  The pressure to save everyone is unbearable.  My task is always something different.  I've have to repeat a song word for word without making a mistake (which, of course, I can't do).  Sometimes it's doing something complex like linking the alphabet to different codes (which I don't understand).  Once I had to count backwards from one zillion (I couldn't figure out what came before a zillion).  I always fail.  Always.  Then I die (and so does everyone else).

Death (in either type of dream) is caused by my stomach exploding.  I always wake up as that explosion is happening.  I'm terrified but somehow (luckily) realize that I'm probably low.  My stomach always hurts like it really did explode and Angry says I rub it constantly until my blood sugar comes back up.  I also ask him if I'm OK or if I'm dead.  He says it's like I'm using a mantra as I repeat, "Am I OK?  Did I die?  Is my stomach OK?  Did I die?"  He stays awake with me, reassuring me that I'm fine (and making sure I did treat the hypo).

There is one plus about these nightmares.  I can assure you that if you die in a dream you will NOT die in real life.

As much as I hate these things I'm a bit grateful that they wake me up and somehow (at least so far) I always reach for the glucose tablets. 

Check here to read more on this topic.

#DBlogWeek Day 5 - Food

Welcome to the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week!  This is my first year participating as I've just started my DBlog.

Today's Topic:  Write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way. 

According to Shakespeare, "Unquiet Meals Make Ill Digestions" (from The Comedy Of Errors).

And Virginia Wolf wrote (in A Room of One's Own) "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”  I say, "Define well."

Let's start this food post by telling you that I've never been a low carb eater even though "they" recommend that for diabetics.  I'm too much in love with my potatoes, my rice, my pasta, my high carb fruits and veggies, and my chocolate to lower my intake in any way.

Breakfast today will be a Chobani Flip (Tropical Escape flavor).

I really like these but since I got my Dexcom this week I'm seeing a pretty big blood sugar spike after breakfast.  I may need to go back to another favorite which is a Kind bar and a hard boiled egg.

Lunch today is different as we will be going out to dinner.  We cut back on lunch so we can eat 'naughty' later.  I'll be having a Kind Popped Bar (Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt) and an apple.

Normally lunch is a sandwich (on a "healthy" grain bread) of either cold cuts (nitrate free), cheese, or peanut butter.  To add something crunchy I've been using carrots or peppers in place of potato chips.  And there is always a piece of fruit to finish it out.

Dinner?  Tonight it will be at our favorite Mexican restaurant (we've been going so long that we are friends with the owners).  This will include chips and salsa as well as margaritas.  I can't plan for an actual meal because they have so many things to choose from plus a menu with rotating specials.  I'll pick something on the fly.

When not dining out we truly mix it up for dinners.  One day we may eat grilled or baked fish.  Another could be some dish made with chicken breasts (I'm always trying new recipes to spice things up).  How about meatloaf occasionally?  One quick favorite is sausages on the grill from Applegate Farms or AmyLu (lots of yummy ones to choose from).  We also like Trader Joe's ravioli topped with some olive oil and shredded parmesan cheese.  Or, I'll make some homemade soups on the weekends to use for weekday dinners.  Unless it's a pasta dish, we always have some sort of veggie.  Broccoli is Angry's very favorite so that's usually the one.  Sometimes we are 'naughty' and eat frozen pizza.  Can you say "lazy days?"

Dinner rarely goes without some sort of dessert.  We tend to go for some good chocolate.  As Erma Bombeck said, “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart.” 

Snacks are not something I plan for.  If I'm starving I'll grab some almonds or cashews or a piece of cheese to tide me over.

Certainly not perfection but we do try to 'behave' most of the time.  HA!

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

#DBlogWeek Day 4 - Changes

Welcome to the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week!  This is my first year participating as I've just started my DBlog.  Karen at Bitter~Sweet deserves all the credit for getting the wonderful week up and running and keeping it going for six years!

Today's Topic:  Today let's talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you'd most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people's perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you?

What would I like to see change about diabetes?
There are several things but number one is the cost of care.
What do diabetics spend on keeping themselves alive?  We don't have a choice.  If we don't take our medication(s), if we don't check our blood sugars, and if we don't visit our doctors we have a life or death situation on our hands.
As an example, let's take look at my approximate cost for healthcare as a Type 1 diabetic (all prices as of January, 2015).  My insurance is a high deductible plan.  I have to pay the first $5,000 for my health care costs.  Once that is met, I still have to cover a co-pay for prescriptions but all other costs (expect the insurance premium) are covered.

Health insurance premium = $196 per month (for a total of $2,352 per year)

Four visits a year to the CDE or Endocrinologist = $163.50 per visit

One month's supply (three bottles) of Novolog insulin = $630.53

One month's supply (200) of One Touch test strips = $245.76

One month's supply of Animas Ping cartridges and Contact Detach infusion sets = $125.20

Other miscellaneous items such as lancets (yes, I do change mine somewhat regularly!!), alcohol swabs, and tapes (I like IV3000) for my infusion set.

And new to me starting in a few days:

A Dexcom "startup kit" = $1,400 (a one-time cost this year)
One month's supply (four) of Dexcom sensors (but, we'll see how long I can get them to last) = $308
Once I've met my deductible, my scripts drop to $50 for the insulin and $25 for the test strips (per month).

I have a Health Savings Account (HSA) which I use to pay the costs of the deductible with pre-tax dollars.  That helps but the money still comes out of my paycheck.
Everyone's costs are different but we all pay what I consider way too much for our health care life.  We don't have a choice.

While I'm surely complaining here, I DO consider myself lucky to have decent insurance that allows me to use any doctor and pharmacy I want.  They do require my pump and Dexcom supplies come from certain providers but that's OK (as long as I get the stuff when I need it).  What if I didn't have coverage?  What if my wage couldn't cover my deductible (and any costs beyond)?  My heart goes out to all that struggle to stay alive.

I'm positive that these companies don't have our best interests at heart.  They certainly aren't going to suddenly deeply discount their products.
How do we get this to change?  I'm not sure.  I've never been involved in any sort of advocacy but this may be my pain point.  I'll have to search to see if there is anything I can get involved in to help our voices be heard.
At this moment I'll just bitch about it and pray that someday everyone can afford to get the medications, care, and supplies they need.

Read other posts about this topic here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#DBlogWeek Day 3 - Clean it Out

Welcome to the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week!  This is my first year participating as I've just started my DBlog.  A huge thank you goes out to Karen at Bitter~Sweet for all her hard work to make this week a success!

Today's Topic:  Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let's clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you're mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?

I have an old-timey diabetic memory that, many years after that fact, still bothers me.

I was diagnosed during the summer of 1974 (at the age of 7).

I was admitted to the hospital and was placed on IVs for insulin and other liquids to drive the ketones down.  My stay lasted about a week.

During that week I was in a room that held beds for other children that were there for various reasons. 

During the day all was good as my parents were there to visit and doctors and nurses were in and out to check on me and to speak to me about diabetes.

But the nights?  Not so good.  The other kids spent a lot of time being mean to me. 

Those kids would talk to each other all the time and when I tried to join the conversation, they would act like they couldn't hear me.  A feeling of loneliness set it very quickly.

When I'd have to use the bathroom, it was so very awkward to push the IV cart along with me.  That was very funny to these kids and they made sure to laugh and tell me how dumb I looked.

They'd tell me I was ugly.  I had lost a lot of weight and quite a bit of hair before diagnosis.  Children should not be self-conscious but during that week I certainly became that way. 

Having overheard the nurses telling me what I could and couldn't eat they would incessantly tease me about how I was a loser because I couldn't have candy or cookies (or anything with sugar).  When meals were served, at least one would ask me what I had for dessert on my tray since I didn't get any.  They would all laugh hysterically.

This memory still haunts me to this day.  It can bring me to tears if I think about it for too long.  It was so very long ago and I couldn't even tell you what any of those kids looked like or what their names were.

It's time to let go.  The memory itself is impossible to "clean out" from my brain.  But the sadness and frustration that it still causes needs to go. 

I'm going to work on this.  Starting right now.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#DBlogWeek Day 2 - Keep it to Yourself

Welcome to the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week!  This is my first year participating as I've just started my DBlog.

Today's Topic:  Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see.  What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?  (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone.  There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects.  Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won't tell them.)

As I may have mentioned before, I don't hide that fact that I'm a diabetic.  I'll share this information with just about anybody that even looks my direction.  HA!

But, there is one aspect surrounding it that I don't share.  I have spoken to Angry about it once or twice but it's not something we discuss on a regular basis.  I have never, ever spoken to my friends, acquaintances, or colleagues about it. 

I don't share my diabetes fears.  Why do I "keep it to myself?"  I feel like I may burden others.  I don't want them to worry about me or make it seem like I want them to feel sympathetic.

As all diabetics understand, there are many things that can cause fear in our hearts and minds.  My fears will sound very familiar to any diabetic in the world.

I'm going to break the silence and share some with you now.

I'm afraid of the "dead in bed" syndrome.  I have been lucky all my life to wake up if I'm having a low in the middle of the night.  How long can that luck continue?  What if I go to bed one night and I don't wake up?

I'm afraid of having a hypo while driving and hurting or killing someone.  If I go low and hurt myself or (heaven forbid) kill myself, so be it.  But no one else should have to be affected by my blood sugars.  I'm not sure I could live with myself it this ever happened.

I'm afraid of complications (aren't we all?).  I realize that management isn't always the key.  I keep my HbA1c at a good level and don't have any signs of complications (yet).  But I know that people with great management still have complications while others that may not have good A1c levels never have a complication.

I also fear dementia and Alzheimer’s.  I've read a lot recently about a higher risk for diabetics.  I don't want to be a burden on Angry if I do end up with memory issues.  I think this is my biggest fear.

My fears lurk and they pop into my head just to give me something a bit scary to think about (usually when I'm trying to get to sleep at night).

A continuous glucose monitor should 'help' with the hypo related fears.  A Dexcom will arrive on my doorstop in a few days.  I'll certainly be happy to have a smaller list!

Click here to read more posts on this topic.

Monday, May 11, 2015

#DBlogWeek Day 1 - I Can

Welcome to the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week!  This is my first year participating as I've just started my DBlog.  A huge thanks to Karen at Bitter~Sweet for putting this all together!

Today's Topic:  Let's kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.  What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren't sure you could?  Or what have you done that you've been particularly proud of?  Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?

I have never, ever hidden my diabetes.  If you meet me at a bus stop, you'll probably know I'm a diabetic within two minutes!  I test my blood sugar in public and I've taken shots (when I was on MDI) in public.  I now use my pump in public to bolus, change my basal rates, or most importantly, to see what time it is.

Why does that matter in today's "I Can" theme?

Well, it's certainly given me the opportunity talk to all sorts of people about diabetes.  I've had the opportunity to educate as well as 'correct' misconceptions about it.  I've also had the chance to talk to other diabetics about their experiences (which is a huge benefit to me!).

For example, Angry and I were at a bar and I used my pump to take a bolus for dinner.  The gentleman sitting next to me turned and asked what pump I was using.  He was a fellow Type 1 and was interested in learning about a pump that was different than the Medtronic he was currently using.  We had a nice conversation, comparing and contrasting the pumps.  He said he was going to speak to Animas to learn more about my pump and then go to his Endo to see if a switch was a good idea/necessary.

Another time, Angry and I were at a bar (as this blog continues, you'll see this as a regular theme!!) and I tested my blood sugar.  The gentleman next to me asked if I was a diabetic and we got into a rather long conversation about diabetes.  He had recently been told by his doctor that he was a pre-diabetic.  He was very interested in some education about the differences between Type 1 and Type 2, low carb diets, and how exercise affects blood sugar.  Please note that I told him repeatedly (as I always do) that I was not giving him advice and that he should consult with his doctor before changing anything in his routine/healthcare regime.  He was most thankful for the information and did mention that his doctor wasn't very educated about diabetes.  He had basically told him to stop eating sugar and exercise more so he wouldn't become a "full blown" diabetic.  YIKES!  I did suggest that he search out an endocrinologist for more information/diagnosis.

There have been many other instances similar to those.  Sometimes it was a quick "Hey, I'm diabetic too!" comment or "I've been afraid to test in public, thanks for making me feel more at ease about it." comment.

Am I "God's gift" to diabetes?  Hell no.  But I feel like "I can" do something.  I may be able to educate someone. I may learn something. I can share my experiences.  And I may be able to help someone feel more at ease about their own diabetes.

Click here to read more "I Can" posts.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How Low Can You Go?

Many people have asked me, “What does it feel like when you blood sugar goes low?”

Here’s a simple long winded explanation for anyone that has asked (or would like to ask but have been afraid to).

For several years, I’ve not slept well (eff you menopause!).  I often wake up in the middle of the night and my brain starts on the “what can I think about to keep you awake even longer” track.  I try to keep a note pad and pen next to my bed to write down things I want to remember.

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and was thinking about how to start this blog.  What would be good topics? How would I introduce myself?  I came up with a topic and realized I didn’t have my note pad next to me.  I hopped out of bed and went to the dining room to write down my thoughts. 

As I was writing, I realized I was sweating. Dripping in sweat. The thought crossed my mind (very briefly) that I should probably check my blood sugar. Then my brain said, “But wait! You have to write this idea down first!!”  Take a look at my notes.  Not very pretty are they? It looks like I was drunk.  I sort of felt like I was drunk as the words kept repeating themselves over and over in my hypo brain.  Once I hit the bottom of the page, I realized I was having a problem that needed attention.  Right. Now. 
Hmmm. A bit repetitive no? How about some spell check?
When I finally got my meter out and checked, of course I was low.  Funny but I don’t remember taking a picture of it!  I would have had to go back to my bedroom to get my phone to do this.  Not only that, but also took a picture of what I was using to fix my low.  What the hell?  With no memory of it, I’m assuming I was still thinking about this blog and wanted some ‘proof’ for a write up.
Yes those are my purple pajamas at the bottom of the photo. Cute, right?
I had some of the gel on my face when I woke up the next morning.
By the time I got back to the bedroom to try to get back to sleep, my pajamas were soaked. I felt like I had taken a shower in them. Of course I had to dig out new ones plus new underwear (TMI?) because they were soaked too.  More time for sleeping wasted.  The sheets were also wet so when I got tucked back into bed I was freezing.

I’ll recap for those who have asked about lows:
  • I was sweating like I had run a marathon.
  • I felt like I was drunk with thoughts running through my head that I couldn’t even write down.
  • I don’t remember taking pictures. Sort of like a blackout.
  • I had to change my pajamas and underwear as they were wringing wet.
  • I was freezing once I got back into bed because I was lying on wet sheets.

Sound like fun?  I’ll thank my lucky stars that I was safe at home where I could take care of myself and could have asked Angry for help if I needed it.