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!

Check here for more posts on this topic.

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.

Click here to read more posts on this topic.

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.