Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Expert? It's You . . . . .

Last Friday I flew to Vegas for The Diabetes UnConference.  Despite my usual travel anxiety, the journey went smoothly and I was lucky enough to spend both flights sitting with Stacey.  I was also lucky enough to have been randomly sent through TSA Pre-Check at both airports.  (Yay!!  And I spend about 30 minutes playing slots in Vegas and ended up $30 ahead!)  With the travel out of the way it was time to get on with the conference.

Vegas
I feel very fortunate to have attended many diabetes conferences in the past.  I've been to pharma conferences where my travel was covered, and I've been to open conferences where anyone can attend if they can budget for it or obtain a scholarship.  Both kinds of conferences are comprised mostly of sessions.  And most of these sessions are led by experts - people with a ton of credentials and a long string of letters following their name.  That's good, because I often learn a lot and think about things I've never though of before.  Or think about things in a way I never had before.  These sessions are very valuable to me.

But the UnConference?  The UnConference was different in that all the sessions and discussion were led by us, the patients / attendees.  The conference facilitators were patients / attendees.  While other conferences I've been to usually have at least one similar session, where we can gather in a circle and really talk in a safe environment, I've never been to a conference where every single session was like this.  And it was wonderful.  I shared some of my deepest fears and said some of the hardest things I've ever had to admit out-loud.  I cried tears that were both happy and sad.  I laughed a lot and nodded in understanding.  I found out that all of the weird things I feel maybe aren't so weird after all.  Maybe I'm not a freak for feeling the way I feel.  Maybe it's diabetes that is the freak and others with diabetes share my feelings too.

The truth of the matter is that every session of The Diabetes UnConference was filled with a room of experts.  Every person living with diabetes is an expert.  Even when you don't feel it, you are an expert.  I'm willing to bet that diabetes has an impact on you, and nobody understands that personal impact better than you.  You are the expert.  I'm not an expert in the medical side of diabetes.  I may not even be an expert in parts of my life with diabetes.  But nobody knows better than I do what diabetes means to me, what diabetes does to my body and my emotions and where diabetes seeps into the cracks of my life.

I am my diabetes expert.  You are your diabetes expert.  And it took The Diabetes UnConference to show me how important that is and how much we need to come together and help each other.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Revisiting "Freak Outs" . . . .

***Today the DOC is participating in another #dblogcheck day, when we stop lurking on all the blogs we read and actually reach out and leave a comment.  Even if it's just to say "#dblogcheck" or "Hi, I'm here and I'm reading your blog!!".  It's always a lot of fun for me, but since (as mentioned yesterday) I don't have my laptop on-line things are all very slow and clunky.  So instead of writing a whole new post, I thought I'd look back at a silly little post from 2013 in hopes of giving you a little laugh as you make the #dblogcheck rounds today!***


Yesterday on Facebook Kerri shared a cute blog post she had come across - 46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might be Freaking Out.  It’s really funny, and you should probably go read it or you won’t really get the rest of my post.

So anyway, as often is the case, my demented brain worked out a way to bring this around to diabetes.  And I give you . . . . . .

FreakOut46 D-Reasons I Might be Freaking Out like a Three Year Old


No AAA batteries.

Huge plates of French fries.

My husband drank the last of the juice.

My insurance company . . . . anything about them at all.

Mexican food.

I’m really really thirsty.

Low reservoir.

My toes are cold.

Gusher.

“Can you eat that?”

Endo appointment tomorrow.

“My Grandmother had diabetes and went blind!”

Ketones.

Chinese food.

“My father’s uncle had diabetes and they had to cut off his foot!”

26 mg/dL.

348 mg/dL.

Beep Boop BEEP.

I took my Lantus this morning . . . . . didn’t I????

Dessert buffet.

Bent cannula.

“My sister’s friend’s cousin had diabetes, but he lost weigh and it went away. Why don’t you do that?”

Dropped my bottle of insulin on a marble floor.

Dropped SOMEONE ELSE’S bottle of insulin on a marble floor.

Low alarm at the gym.

High alarm at the Italian restaurant . . . . before we even got seated.

Shopping at Target.

Non-delivery error.

Button error.

Motor error.

Husband thinks the reason I’m mad at him must be because I’m low.

Two up arrows.

Two down arrows.

Pricked, but can’t squeeze out any damn blood.

Pricked one spot, but bled from three.

Seven rage boluses finally kick in . . . . . all at once.

Co-pays.

TSA.

Error 5.

Blood spot on my new white shirt.

“Type 1 . . . . . is that the BAD kind?”

Halle Berry.

The diet Coke the waitress brought doesn’t taste like diet.

“220?  What did you eat??”

Snake oil cures.

It’s Wednesday evening and TWITTER IS DOWN!!!  #dsma

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fours For Friday (err, Monday)

After seeing this meme float around the DOC (and especially after seeing Stephen participate, because I believe Stephen is a great example to follow), I decided it would make for a fun and light Friday post.  (Much better than downer rantings about scary low blood sugars.)  But then, Friday got away from me and no post got posted.  So Fours For Friday has become the much less fun title of Fours For Monday.

Four names people call me other than my real name.
  • Chickadeedle - Mom called me this when I was little
  • Bubsy - Dad called me this when I was little.  They called my brother Turkey Brain, so obviously I was thrilled with Chickadeedle and Bubsy.
  • K.C. - My initials before I got married.  I always feel the need to point out that I did not name my cat K.C. - she already had that name when we adopted her.
  • Puddin’ Pie - Pete calls me this.
Four jobs I’ve had.
  • Grocery store cashier
  • Secretary in a lawyer’s office
  • Cable advertising traffic coordinator
  • Cable advertising traffic supervisor
Four movies I’ve watched more than once
  • Gone with the Wind
  • The Godfather
  • 40 Year Old Virgin
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary
IMG_2890 
Four books I would recommend
  • Gone with the Wind
  • The Godfather - (noticing a pattern here?)
  • Anna Karenina
  • Anything by Agatha Christie
Four places I’ve lived
  • My parent’s house (Connecticut)
  • College dorm room (near Boston)
  • College apartment (still near Boston)
  • My own house (back in Connecticut again)
Four places I’ve visited
  • Bacardi Rum Factory (Puerto Rico)
  • Tabasco Factory (Avery Island, Louisiana)
  • Bermuda Rum Cake Bakery (Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda)
  • Where they make the Medtronic CGM Sensors . . . . ummmm The Sensor Factory? The Sensor Assembly Line?  I don’t know what to call it, but it was cool!!   (Northridge, California)
IMG_2891 
Four things I prefer not to eat
  • Mashed potatoes - Ewwww.  Just hate them.  My mom does too.
  • Any kind of bean except jelly beans
  • Moldy cheeses (Blue, Gorgonzola, Camembert, etc.  Yuck!)
  • Runny eggs (Over-easy, Sunny-side up, Poached, Runny Scrambled Eggs, etc.  Yuck!)
Four of my favorite foods
  • Lobster anything (lobster rolls, lobster bisque, lobster pie, lobster ravioli, etc.)
  • Fried mozzarella and a small Greek salad from a restaurant I’ve been going to since grammar school.
  • Cheesecake.  Unless it has fruit on it.  I like fruit, just not on my cheesecake.  But chocolate or caramel are just fine.
  • My Chicken Tortilla Soup
Four TV shows I watch
  • Castle
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Blacklist
  • The Goldbergs
Four things I’m looking forward to this year
  • #dblogcheck day tomorrow!! - Are you in?
  • The Diabetes UnConference this weekend.
  • JDRF Government Day next weekend.
  • Getting my laptop back. - Yes, that new laptop I bought in December died last month (on Friday the 13th, no less).  It’s gone back to Dell for repair and I feel like I’ll never get it back and I’ll be stuck trying to get by on my crappy netbook forever.
Four things I’m always saying
  • So’s your Mama - Pete started saying this, then I started, and now we’re addicted.  It’s kind of annoying (so’s your Mama) but we just can’t stop.
  • Random quotes from 40 Year Old Virgin -I’ve probably watched that movie way too many times.
  • Fuck - Sorry, just being honest.
  • Who’s the cutest kitten in the world?  Or Who’s my little baby good girl.  Or Kitten?  Kitten?  Come for a snuggle.  Or Hey!!!!  Stop scratching that. -  I could go on, but I guess you already understand I’m a crazy cat lady. And yes, she scratches the couch and armchair all the time.
lounging

Okay.  So.  Now that you know way too much about me, who want to do this meme next?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Anti-Betes . . . . .

Every so often I go through a weird string of incessant lows.  There are chunks of time, several days or more, when I just can’t seem to keep my blood sugar up.  (I don’t think I’m the only one who goes through this, either, so if you have diabetes you probably know what I’m talking about.)  Pete refers to these weird low periods as “anti-betes”.

“What?  “I’m low again?”
“Sounds like you have the anti-betes.”

“Unbelievable.  We had Mexican food for dinner last night and I never went high.  In fact, I had to treat lows twice.”
“Must be the anti-betes.”

It’s a silly little turn of phrase that keeps me from going totally insane when my blood sugar throws dip after dip at me.  I’m in a period of anti-betes right now.  It started with that very scary low last week.  And it simply has not let up. My poor Fitbit stats are suffering because I’m practically too low to move.  Now is the time to indulge in carb heavy foods without facing the blood sugar consequences.  Pete wanted Macaroni and Cheese?  No problem.  Yes, we did have Mexican food - enchiladas and rice and chips with salsa.  My high alarm did not ring.  It’s completely crazy and as much as I hate high blood sugars (so much more than I hate lows) I’d almost welcome a bunch of them right now.  Especially after last night.

I’m a really light sleeper.  Which is why I was really surprised to wake up sometime after 4:00 this morning to find my pump had suspended.  The Threshold Suspend alarm on my 530G is crazy loud but somehow I had slept right through it.  In fact, upon reviewing my Alarm History it seems I slept through it twice!!

IMG_2874This shows that my pump was suspended from 11:45pm to 1:45am.

IMG_2875And this shows that my pump suspended again from 2:08am to 4:08am. It shows that my blood sugar was in the 40s both times. And let me assure you, this sensor has been spot on. Before bed it read 93 and my fingerstick was 96.

IMG_2876At 4:15ish when I awoke, after 4 hours without basal insulin, I was spiking and needed a correction.  Which is completely fine by me because that big gap .at the bottom of the graph shows that I spent several hours with my blood sugar below 40.  And I can feel it this morning.  Although I slept through it, my body does not feel the least bit rested.  I corrected for the spike and went back to sleep.  My graph shows me topping out in the 180s before starting to come back down.  My fasting was 139 with a tiny correction needed along with my coffee bolus.  And by 9:30 my blood sugar was back in the 90s.

Today I’m feeling grateful and privileged for the diabetes technology I am lucky to be using.  I’m thinking back to the 1980s when I didn’t even have a blood glucose meter, let alone a CGM and insulin pump.  And I’m pushing away thoughts of how last night would have gone if I slept through those blood sugars in the 40s without having technology going to bat for me.

And as I wrap up this post so I can go treat yet another low, I’m  really looking forward to the end of this current instance of anti-betes.

** My Medtronic disclosure can be found here. **

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This is a Low . . . .

darknessThis is a low.  It’s the moment when you go from “I feel a little bit funny” to “Oh crap, this is bad”.  When you begin eating anything you can get your hands on.  When you start seeing dark spots before your eyes.  When you wander around the house feeling like your consciousness is slowly slipping in and out.  When you feel fear begin to take over.

This is a low. When suddenly you can think of nothing but the comment you just left on Facebook.  You only vaguely remember what you typed and you can only hope it made sense - at least a little bit.  You know the person you were commenting to has diabetes too, so even if you type complete nonsense he will understand.  But you still can’t help but feel really embarrassed.

This is a low.  When you are suddenly overcome with exhaustion.  When you wander upstairs with a bag of chips in your hand, shoving them into your mouth as you crawl back into bed.  When you snuggle up to your cat because even though you know she can’t help, you feel a weird safety in the knowledge that you’re in the presence of another living creature.  When you continue to pet her as you shut your eyes, knowing that as long as you can still hear her purring softly beside you, everything is okay.

This is a low.  When, thankfully, the food you’ve inhaled finally starts to overtake the insulin in your body.  When the clouds in your mind finally start to part and instead of feeling like you’re fading away you start to feel whole again.  Like you’re a little more there then you were a minute ago.  When it feels like someone pulled back a heavy curtain that was in your brain and solid thoughts flood in like strong rays of sunshine.  When you feel relieved to know everything is going to be okay.  When you are no longer sure you are about to die.

This is a low.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Much Too Much . . . . .

I was browsing through the camera roll on my phone recently and came across this picture.  It’s from a breakfast we had at the casino on an overnight trip we took during Christmas break.  I had shared it on Facebook at the time, with a comment about how I needed a small village to come help me eat it.  I wasn’t kidding either.  That pancake was bigger than my head!

Pancake
I think I also joked about being glad I had a full reservoir of insulin in my pump, because I’d probably need it all to bolus for this monster pancake.  But of course, in reality I’d never eat that whole pancake.  I wouldn’t even eat half.  And we always end up doing a lot of walking at the casino and I’m always fighting lows, so it was the perfect time to indulge in some (but not all) of that pancake.

Which gets me thinking.  As a person with diabetes, I know I shouldn’t eat a pancake twice the size of my head.  It just wouldn’t be healthy.  But you know what?  NOBODY should eat a pancake that big.  It isn’t healthy for anyone.  And the more I think about it, the more I believe a restaurant shouldn’t even be serving pancakes that big.  Now I’m not blaming restaurants for any obesity epidemics or anything like that.  Nobody forces food down our throats and just because it’s put in front of us doesn’t mean we have to eat it.  But this pancake bothers me because when I look at it I see a huge waste of food.  The morning that pancake was served to us, similar ones were served to a table of teenage boys next to us.  Even they could not eat the whole thing.  That says something to me.

As a person with diabetes, I know what is healthy for me to eat and what isn’t so good.  Sometimes I make good food choices and sometimes I don’t.  I believe those rules should also apply to people without diabetes.  Know what is healthy and what isn’t, try to make the right choices, but don’t beat yourself up for indulgences here and there.  But restaurants?  Please don’t serve portions sizes that are so unbelievably huge . . . . because that’s just a waste of food and I find that shameful.

Diabetes or not, it really is much too much.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - #SpareARose

InsulinThis is the insulin that lives in a drawer in my refrigerator, next to the cheese compartment.  I’m lucky to know it’s there, ready to keep me alive for the next three months.  I’m lucky to know that as I use the bottles up, I can order my next three month supply so it’s ready and waiting when I need it.

PumpThis is my insulin pump.  The icon in the upper left corner is filled in with gray, showing that I’m lucky to have a full reservoir of insulin to get me through the next three days.  The large numbers toward the right show my insulin bolus being delivered so I can enjoy . . . .

Cookies. . . these festive cookies I’ve baked.  I’m lucky to have a wonderful husband to share them with as we look forward to Valentine’s Day together.  I’m lucky to live in a time and in a part of the world where I have the medications and devices that allow me to eat a cookie (or two) without shooting my blood sugar dangerously and deathly high.

SpareARoseDOTorgThis is Spare A Rose.  It’s a reminder that not everyone is as lucky as I am.  It’s a reminder that Pete and I don’t need to spend a lot of money on flowers and chocolates and jewelry and other gifts.  We need to help others who can’t afford the insulin they need to survive.  Each $5 donation provides life saving insulin or test strips to someone in need for a month.  $5 is such a small amount but it can do so much.  Please join me in making a donation so others can know what it feels like to be as lucky as we are.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Time Stands Still . . . .

timeIsn’t it funny how time can seem to pass at such varied speeds?  The weekends zip by in a blink while weekdays pass much more slowly.  Today I’m willing to put money on the fact that winter is three times as long as any other season.  (Yeah, I know that isn’t true, but as I look out the window and see everything coated in ice it sure feels true.)  And, of course, there are many times when diabetes certainly makes time crawl.  Like when?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

Pre-bolusing!  I try to dose my insulin about 20 minutes before I eat.  And oh my gosh, those 20 minutes take FOREVER to pass.

Coming down from a high!  Ugh, high blood sugars.  Sleepy, achy, thirsty, syrupy. sluggish torture.  Even the fastest of our fast acting insulin can’t provide relief quickly enough.  And the whole time I’m trying to talk myself out of rage-bolusing, which will only result in a ride on the glucocoaster.  And I hate rollercoasters of any kind!

Starting a new sensor!  It takes two hours after inserting a new sensor before you can enter the first calibration to get it up and running.  In those two hours it’s important to keep blood sugars as stable as possible.  Which is actually kind of laughable, because, you know, diabetes doesn’t really play that way.  Suddenly very hungry?  Sorry, wait two hours.  Feel yourself dropping low (which, ironically, you probably would’ve caught sooner if your sensor was running)?  Well, you have to treat, but now you’d better wait even longer before putting in that first sensor calibration.  Oh the things that happen in those two interminable hours.

Coming up from a low!  Or, more fairly, coming up  from a nasty low.  You know the ones?  Shaky, sweaty, confused, feeling like you are going to keel over any minute.  I really despise those lows, and they usually seem to drag on forever!

Are you with me on this?  What other instances have I missed when diabetes makes time absolutely crawl?