Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What’s That Wednesday - Solution or Problem

So I’ve given up calling posts “Wordless Wednesday” because I’m pretty sure I am never, ever Wordless.  Instead I’ve come up with “What’s That Wednesday” since I always show you a picture and then proceed to explain it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I use to treat my lows.  I’ve gotten pretty sick of juice over the years.  I’ve also gotten tired of glucose tablets, even delicious ones like GlucoLift, so I reserve them for when I’m out and about.  (They’re portable and durable!!)  I’m also trying to break my Pavlovian habit of treating lows with candy, so instead I’m relying on small packets of organic fruit snacks and apple sauce.  But still, sometimes I can’t help but want to treat with candy.  Enter these:


These are Watermelon Rings I found at Whole Foods.  I’m hoping I’m not misguided in believing they don’t have as much bad stuff in them as regular gummies.  Even so, there is still a big problem with these.  THEY TASTE WAY TOO GOOD.  I know I only need one of these to bring up a low.  And it is nearly impossible for me to eat just one of these.  (By the way, I’m not low now but I may have just bolused for and ate one ring while taking this picture.)

And so, my low solution has become my low problem.  Okay, diabetes, you win this time . . . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Going Old School . . . .

****  Happy #dblogcheck day!!  And a big thank you to Hannah and Chris for helping motivate us (okay, okay, ME) to stop slacking on leaving blog comments. ****

MeasuringCupsWhen I was younger, and the Exchange Diet ruled diabetes management, my mom carefully weighed and measured everything I ate.  A small food scale was a permanent and much used fixture in our kitchen, as was the multi-colored set of plastic measuring cups.  To this day I still grimace at memories of meals composed of “2 meats, 3 breads, 1 fat, 1 fruit, 2 vegetables” with no regard to how hungry I was or what I was in the mood to eat that day.  Portions were precisely measured and I ate them whether I wanted to or not.

Thankfully, those days are long gone and instead I count my carbs and dose my insulin for (almost) what ever I’m in the mood to eat.  (I say almost, because I do still try not to overindulge in carbs or else my blood sugar will pay the price.)  When counting my carbs I’ve definitely become more of an “estimator” rather than a “measurer”, simply eyeballing my portion sizes.  It works well for me, maybe because I’m a good eye-baller but more likely because there are so many other factors at play making carb counting somewhat of a gamble anyway.  (Am I going to exercise soon?  Have I exercised recently?  Am I full of hormones this week?  How stressed out am I?  Any of these can assure that even the most accurate carb count ends up a miss.)

But lately, I’ve hopped into my time machine and have begun making regular use of the food scale and measuring cups again.  Why would I subject myself to that?  Calorie tracking.  (YUCK)  I’m working on reversing the steady forward creep my weight has been taking over the past few (or more than a few) years.  I don’t want to do any fad diets and I’m not looking to eliminate anything from my menu - after living years of “diabetics can’t have sugar” I refuse to deny myself anything.  So the solution is careful calorie tracking, allowing myself to eat foods I want but only in portions that keep me within a calorie range for the day.  And while guesstimating carbs works really well for me, guesstimating calories doesn’t work at all.  I find I tend to overestimate portions sizes and underestimate calories.  So the hands of time have rolled back and I’m making regular use of measuring cups and food scales again.  It kind of sucks, but it is working.  I’ve lost almost 7 pounds so far (and I really hope the “blog jinx” won’t kick in now and I’ll gain it all back this week!!).

Are you a measurer or a guesstimator when it comes to food?  What works best for you and why?

Friday, July 18, 2014

3rd Time’s a Charm?

As I sit down to write this post, I realize I haven’t really done a very good job at blogging about my Enlite sensor experience.  I guess the reason is that I seem to only blog about problems.  I just don’t feel inclined to write a post saying “Hey, everything is good and I have nothing to say”.  And, of course, I always feel like the minute I blog about how perfect something is going, it all immediately goes to crap.  Stupid blog jinx.

But, for the most part, my experience with the Enlite sensors has been fantastic.  I think my only complaint is that the sensor wire kinks up quite easily.  (Is it still called a cannula on a sensor?  Or is sensor wire the right term?)  I don’t remember ever having a kinking problem with the Sof-Sensors, so my guess is that the trade-off for the much thinner needle and wire is that it’s more prone to kinking.  If that is the case, I think I would be willing to have some sort of middle-ground - a thickness somewhere between Sof-Sensor and Enlite, so there is more comfort than Sof-Sensor but less kinking than Enlite.  (And with both systems I still wish warm-up time took less than 2 hours and range was better.  And that my CGM data went to the cloud.)  But overall, I’m really happy.  The accuracy, for me, is terrific right from the start and the new tapes hold everything in place perfectly.

Yesterday, however, I had a lot of trouble.  It was sensor change day, so I inserted a new sensor while my morning coffee was brewing.  I like to eat breakfast late, and my coffee bolus is spot on and keeps my blood sugar flat, so that’s the best time for me to start up a new sensor.  Two hours later it was ready to go and I entered my first blood sugar.  Six hours later it was time to calibrate.  The sensor said I was 83.  My fingerstick said I was 93.  A few minutes later?  Beep beep beep, CAL ERROR.  I was surprised to get a CAL ERROR when the sensor and fingerstick values were so close, so  I tried calibrating again.  Beep beep beep, BAD SENSOR.

I thought about turning everything off and restarting it as a new sensor in a few hours, but decided it wasn’t worth it.  I pulled the sensor out and got everything ready to put in a new one.  Loaded up the serter, pressed the button, waited 45 seconds to be sure the adhesive stuck, and began to draw off the serter . . . . when I could see that the sensor needle was only halfway in my skin.  Great.  I carefully pulled everything off and decided to try to load the sensor back into the serter and try again.  But the same thing happened.  SO I pulled that second sensor and got out a third.  It inserted fine, but as I removed the serter the needle came off with it.  The sensor was properly in me, but the needle was stuck in the serter and wouldn’t come out.  That was when I realized I was long overdue for a call to the Medtronic HelpLine.

Two dead sensors & a serter with a needle stuck in it.

I’ve always had great experiences with the HelpLine and yesterday was no exception.  Here are the tips I learned.  1)  When I got that first CAL ERROR, I should have cleared it but then waited 45 minutes to an hour before trying to calibrate again.  The error comes up when the interstitial signal doesn’t jive with what the meter says your blood sugar is.  Waiting an hour gives it time for the signal to hopefully recover and for some of the sensor data to clear out.  2)  When the second sensor didn’t go in on the first try, I shouldn’t have tried it again.  Once the serter tries to insert it and fails, it’s pretty much a given that the sensor wire has been damaged and the sensor won’t work.  3)  When the needle is jammed in the serter, hold down the green button and shake the serter in the same motion as if you are ringing a bell.  But in my case, this didn’t actually make the needle come out.

Old serter with stuck needle on the left, new serter on the right.

Bottom line, by 9:30 this morning a new serter and two replacement sensors were on my doorstep, along with canisters to send the bad serter and sensors back for analysis.  And that third sensor that I put in yesterday is working just fine.  I don’t know what exactly made so many things go wrong for me yesterday, but I guess I was just having one of those day.

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Still Learning . . . .

It was lunch-time on Friday at Friends for Life.  (Or maybe it was Thursday.  I’m not exactly sure because the days kind of blur together in a rush of activity and fun and exhaustion.  But I’m pretty sure it was Friday, our second official day of FFL sessions.)  As I checked my blood sugar and dosed for my food, one of the hotel’s dining room attendants struck up a conversation.  It was obvious right away that she had a diabetes connection (turned out her nephew has T1), but also that she didn’t quite understand all the details.   (As in “My nephew has a pump, oh you do too, so it does everything for you.”.  I explained that it wasn’t exactly as easy as that.)

We talked about the fact that I’ve had diabetes for almost 35 years.  We talked about how this was my fourth time at Friends for Life.  And then she asked “You’ve had diabetes for so long and have been here so many times, are you really still learning anything new?”.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a great question that was.

Life with diabetes is, for now, a never ending journey.  And I am always still learning.  My first few years at Friends for Life the things I learned were more “technical’'.  I learned in-depth stuff about sensor data and glycemic indexes and how to best manage exercise.  And I’m still always picking up more snippets and tips on stuff like this.  But largely the things I learn these days have shifted from the “nuts and bolts” to the “touchy feely”.  IMG_2253I get the most out of the sessions that deal with the emotional burden of my chronic illness.  I learn the most in sessions where we sit in a circle and let our guard down and pour out our hearts . . . .  to a room full of people who really get it because the same things are in their hearts.  I get the most out of sessions where I’m surprised to suddenly find tears streaming down my cheeks.  I get the most out of the sessions that I can’t really tell you about, because at the start we all make a pact that what is shared goes no farther than the walls of the room we are in.  I get the most out of sessions led by psychologists like the fantastic Jill Weissberg-Benchell.

Over 34 years with Type 1.  Four trips to Friends for Life, not to  mention a big bunch of other diabetes conferences.  Still learning?  Oh yes.  Never underestimate the importance of still learning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hangover . . . . .

I’ve spent the last week with what I can best describe as a Friends for Life Hangover.  Lethargic, moody, emotionally achy and just feeling the need to avoid the internet.   Don’t get me wrong, I love the DOC and am so grateful to be able to connect on-line any time day or night.  But there is something crazy special about being in the same room, talking face to face, and hugging it out. 

Meeting friends for the first time in real life.
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Reconnecting with friends I don’t get to see enough.
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IMG_2233 IMG_2236

Acting silly.
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And just hanging out.
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Sometimes I forget how much I need the real-life stuff, in addition to the on-line stuff.  I miss it.  And I have a Friends for Life Hangover.  I kind of wish I could stay there forever.

But. of course, someone at home needs me too.  And she showed me how much she missed me the second I walked through the door.
I missed her.  But still, I miss my Friends for Life too. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Talk to Each Other . . . .

I like when my “toys” talk to each other.  (And now my head is filled with images from Toy Story.)  My new Fitbit wirelessly syncs to both my iPhone and my laptop.  When I log food into LoseIt, I can see it on the LoseIt site or the LoseIt app, and it’s magically reflected in Fitbit too.  When exercise has earned me a few more calories worth of snacks, Fitbit tells LoseIt that I can eat some more.  Life is easier when everything communicates seamlessly.

TalkingNow imagine a world where diabetes devices had the same seamless communication.  My stuff probably communicates better than most because the devices I use are designed to work with each other.  My Bayer Contour Next Link sends my blood glucose numbers directly to my 530G insulin pump.  My 530G works hand in hand with my Enlite CGM, showing all of that data too.  Good, yes?  Yes.  But it could be better.  What if, like Fitbit, my meter and CGM could also sync up to an app on my iPhone?  What if I could use that app to send a bolus to my 530G?  Oh my goodness, that would be awesome.  It would mean I could wear a dress without worrying about flashing too much leg or some boob every time I need to access a pump that is tucked into some unmentionables when I have no pockets.  In the winter, when my pump is buried under layer upon layer of wool, I could still see my CGM graph.  And it would mean I could put an app on Pete’s phone so that when I’m travelling and sleeping alone in a hotel room, he can take a peek from home and know I’m okay.

My world would work so much better if all of my diabetes stuff would not only talk to each other, but to the other electronic devices which have become a staple in my life.

More about the #WeAreNotWaiting campaign.

This post is my May entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Little Encouragement . . . .

As much as I try to focus on the bright side of living with diabetes, the truth is that it’s tough.  Day in, day out, relentless and often unreflective of the work we put in.  So when I received an email from Betsy Bush about her involvement in creating a line diabetes greeting cards for kids I immediately loved the idea.  Betsy, along with fellow artists Corrie Kuipers, Doreen Erhardt, and Sharon Fernleaf, and writer Nene Adams, are currently selling the cards online at Greeting Card Universe.  Nene Adams was kind enough to provide a little more information on the creation of their diabetes greeting card line . . .


“My partner, Corrie Kuipers, and I have been designing and selling specialty greeting cards since 2007. In 2011, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Of course, I wanted to read everything I could about the disease. During my research, I was surprised to find very few greeting cards for diabetics, especially children and teenagers.

According to the American Diabetes Association (, 25.8 million adults and children in the U.S. have diabetes. We feel the need exists for special greeting cards to serve the diabetic community. Creating positive greeting cards addressing issues like insulin pumps, body image, lifestyle changes, emotional reactions, feelings of isolation and other concerns seemed like an obvious choice, especially paired with Corrie’s whimsical and often humorous art.”

“We invited other uniquely talented artists - Doreen Erhardt, Sharon Fernleaf and Betsy Bush - to join us and make one of a kind greeting cards for diabetics.”

“If there’s a child or teenager (or adult) who’s been recently diagnosed with Type I or Type II diabetes in your life, send them a “hug in the mail.” A little encouragement accompanied by a colorful greeting card will go a long way toward making a diabetic feel like they’re not alone.

Thank you, Nene!!  Want to hear a little secret?  I may supposedly be an adult, but I’d love to find one of these in my mailbox.  After all, we could all use a little encouragement now and then, couldn’t we?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Intuition . . . .

I believe that sometimes, as people with diabetes, we just know.  Intuition screams at us.  Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t listen.  That’s exactly what happened yesterday.

Somewhere around the middle of the day, my blood sugars got stuck.  They weren’t high high, but they were higher than normal.  They hovered in the 170s, even after the treadmill and dusting and vacuuming the whole house and cleaning the bathroom.  Corrections did nothing to budge the number.


Here’s the thing.  170 isn’t a terrible number for me.  I had under-bolused a snack before the treadmill so I wouldn’t go low.  I had eaten dinner.  I had a bit of dessert.  All justifications for that stuck blood sugar, but my intuition was saying otherwise.  My intuition said my site had crapped out early.  It was scheduled to be changed this morning.  But it was in my abdomen, and in the past my ab sites haven’t lasted the full three days.  However, I didn’t listen to that intuition and instead I went to bed.

About a half hour later, my Rise Rate alarm rang.  And my blood sugar hit the 200s.  And I knew it was time to listen to my intuition and change out my site.  I dragged myself out of bed, turned on the light (much to the dismay of my sleeping husband) and did what I should have done a few hours ago.  One new site and one correction bolus later this happened.


Not only did I come down from the 200s, but I came all the way down to a gross low and a 2 a.m. juice box.

I’d love to say I learned my lesson.  I wish I could swear that next time I’ll listen to my intuition and get that site issue taken care of right away instead of going to bed hoping things will work themselves out.  But right now, my intuition is saying that next time I’ll probably make the same mistakes again.  I guess I just get so stubborn about pulling a site early, and I guess I just haven’t quite learned yet.
Am I the only one, or does your stubborn streak drown out your intuitions too?