Monday, April 21, 2014

Grief and Diabetes Management . . .

It’s been one piece of bad news after another around here over the past couple of weeks.  And I’m beginning to understand that grief sends my diabetes management in two completely different directions.

ComfortFoodThe first is the “eff it all” mentality.  And there is nothing like bad news to make me crave curling up with a big bowl of carby indulgence.  Hello Macaroni and Cheese.  Bring on all the warm, gooey, creamy treats.  Hey, it’s called Comfort Food for a reason, right?  Grief makes it hard to care about what all those carbs do to my blood sugar.  That whole “life is too short, enjoy while you can” thinking sets in, along with the urge to take as many diabetes shortcuts as possible.  Because, you know, it can be hard to care when your hurting inside.

But then thinking about “life is too short” brings the realization that “life IS too short so we had better not waste a minute”.  And that actually inspires me to work harder at diabetes.  Times of grief  make it easy to see how much family members and loved ones need one another.  I am reminded of how important it is to do all we can to stay around for as long as possible.  Diabetes is tough and takes a lot of work and doesn’t always respond in a way that reflects the effort put in, but I’ve been managing pretty well for 34 years.  And I owe it to my family and friends to keep trying my best, because they need me.

So yes, a good cry is fine.  A bit of an indiscretion with some comfort food is okay once in a while.  But for the most part, I’m reminded that I owe it to my loved ones to do all I can.  And so, I will.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two Diabetics, a Low and a Pizza Place . . .

Imagine you head out for pizza with the love of your life, and every few minutes you hear your pump’s low alarm.  But when you check your pump, it wasn’t alarming.  That’s exactly what happened to me and it was weird!!


Pete and I had just finished packing for a long weekend in Florida with his family so I checked my purse, thinking that perhaps I had stashed my old, spare, backup pump in there while packing.  But no, the backup pump was safely at home in my  The beeping happened again when our waiter came to take our order.  I asked him if he heard it too, just to be sure I wasn’t completely losing my mind.  He did hear it, and judging from the reactions of those at the tables around me, they could hear it too.  I explained what the alarm was to my waiter, showing him my pump as if to prove I knew what I was talking about.  “Somebody is low and needs a glass of juice.”, I told him.  He just smiled and went to deliver our order to the kitchen.

A few minutes later the low alarm sounded again.  Each time I instinctively grabbed my pump even though I knew it wasn’t me beeping.  Except this time, it was!  Talk about REALLY freaking a PWD out - a dozen low alarms that weren’t mine followed by one that actually was.  It felt like someone was trying to gaslight me.  A sip of Pete’s soda quieted my alarm, but soon I could hear the telltale siren of either a 530G with Enlite suspending, or an older Medtronic pump whose low alarm has been ignored way too long.  “Someone is going to pass out”, I told Pete, but we still couldn’t figure out where the alarm was coming from.  I was becoming a bit obsessed with the whole situation, but Pete convinced me to concentrate on eating my own pizza before I too went low again.  As I ate I made up a elaborate story that the pump alarm was coming from someone in the band that was performing in the bar area.  I decided the person couldn’t hear his alarm over the sound of his music, but we could hear it over the restaurant’s sound system.

As our waiter came to check on us, the siren alarm sounded again.  The waiter took one look at me and said “I know.  I hear it.  It’s coming from that table in the corner.”.

Ah ha!!!  I wasn’t any more crazy than usual!!!  I looked across the room and saw the tiniest, oldest couple sitting in a booth next to their walkers - and I didn’t know what to do.  Maybe their hearing wasn’t what it used to be and they just couldn’t hear the alarm.  But maybe they would be embarrassed by a stranger coming up to talk about diabetes with them.  Maybe my fellow pumper was diagnosed at a time when PWDs were taught diabetes is something to hide and to be ashamed of.  I didn’t want to make this person feel uncomfortable, and they were both eating, so I decided to stay at my own table and leave well enough alone.

There is a part of me that is still kicking myself for not going over to the couple, just to ask if they needed some help.  (What would you have done?)  And there is another big part of me that can’t believe two diabetic were out at an Italian restaurant and we both had low alarms!  What are the chances of that?  #freaky

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

(Not Very) Wordless Wednesday - Crumpled

After inserting a new sensor yesterday I began getting “Sensor Error” messages during the warm-up period.  I called the HelpLine, who went over insertion techniques and did a bit more trouble-shooting, and we decided to give the sensor some more time to see if it worked itself out.  I was later able to start and calibrate it and it worked fine . . . . . for a few hours, until the Sensor Errors started up again.  I decided to pull it this morning and saw the problem immediately.  The sensor cannula was crumpled up under my skin (left picture) and even after stretching it out you can see it was completely kinked (right picture).  But I’m glad to say the new sensor I put in this morning is faring much better!

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Be There

When the bad days are increasingly outweighing the good ones, it can help to know others understand.  Don’t miss this important Diabetes and Depression chat today on TuDiabetes.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Save The Date . . . .

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is already the first day of April.  (Especially since I’m looking out my window right  now to see flakes wafting down and the ground covered in white . . . . again . . .  even though all our snow had finally melted.  I’m not happy with this turn of events.  But I digress . . . )  Anyway, it’s true.  Spring is here (or so they tell me) and April starts tomorrow.  Which means that Diabetes Blog Week is coming up FAST! 

SaveTheDateI’ve gotten a few emails asking when Diabetes Blog Week will be held, so here is your official Save The Date.  The 5th Annual (OMG, five??) Diabetes Blog Week will be held May 12th - 18th.  Sign ups will start the week before, Monday, May 5th.  (Olé!!)  As in the past, the blog topics for the week will also be posted that day.

As each year goes by, coming up with fresh topics becomes more challenging.  So last year, I put out a call for topic suggestions.  I loved that because 1) you guys have much better ideas than I do and 2) I’ve always wanted DBlog Week to be by the DOC as well as for the DOC, so having the DOC help come up with topics seems like a perfect fit.  So, I'm asking for your help again.  What should we blog about this year?  Please email your suggestions to me at

I’m hoping with your help we can make our 5th Diabetes Blog Week the biggest and bestest and funnest (and most grammatically inaccurate) one yet!!  (Just kidding . . .  I promise . . .  no more made up words.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Good Luck with That . . . .

During our final dinner at JDRF Government Day last week Jeffery Brewer gave a speech that quickly brought tears to my eyes.  Parts of it have continued to run through my mind all week.  I know I don’t have this down word for word, but I wanted to share the gist what he said.

GoodLuckImagine your doctor diagnoses you with chronic illness.  He tells you “We have this medicine that you must take.  However, if you take too much it could be fatal.  On the other hand, taking too  little can, over time, lead to some very serious complications.  Also the amount you should take depends on what you are eating.  Your dose is also effected by factors such as stress, how much sleep you got, if you are getting sick, and the amount of physical activity you’ve done.  Further  more, you can eat the same things at the same times with the same amount of activity and take the same dose two days in a row, and the results can be completely different.  So . . . . good luck with that.”

If you are or care for a person with diabetes, you know that this is our life.  But I find I don’t really stop and think about it all that often.  When I go back and reread that paragraph I just typed, it sounds completely preposterous.  And yet, this is our lives with diabetes.  This is how hard we work every day, and how uncertain and fragile our management really is.  I’m not sure we give ourselves enough credit for all we do to stay healthy.  So today, I want to give you a huge pat on the back and tell you that YOU ROCK!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

#JDRFGovDay Highs and Lows

I always struggle to write up event recaps because I'm just not good at them.  I tend to draw a blank on what words to use other than “it was so awesome, you had to be there to understand”.  Great, huh?  So this time I’ll try the old bulleted list to attempt to describe my four days at JDRF Advocacy Government Day, where I joined about 150 other Advocacy Team Chairs and advocates from JDRF chapters around the country to bring our message to Capital Hill. 
  • HIGH:  Meeting with Senator Murphy and health staff from the offices of our Connecticut representatives to thank them for their continued support and to urge them to help ensure the Special Diabetes Program is renewed.  We explained how critical the $150 million dollars provided by the SDP to the NIH is for diabetes research.MurphyMeetingLOW:  A longer than expected walk to our very first meeting of the day, which brought on one of the lowest lows I’ve had in a very long time.  It left me feeling like I had been run over by a truck for the rest of the day.  But I did what any of us would do - sucked it up and powered through.  PWDs are STRONG!!  (Well, okay, I whined a lot too.  Maybe I'm not that strong.)
  • HIGH:  Walking into Congressman Courtney’s office and having his wonderful Health Aide not only recognize me on sight, but notice that  my hair was different and compliment me on it!  (The pictures don’t show it well, but I dyed it red last week.)  Knowing she remembers me and our previous meetings means we can jump right in with less background information and more important details each time we meet.capitalLOW:  During our meeting my CGM alarm went off a billion times due the a major rebound from my earlier 28.  (BEEP BEEP BEEP HIGH PREDICTED!!!  BEEP BEEP BEEP RISE RATE!!  BEEP BEEP BEEP HIGH!!!  BEEP BEEP BEEP OMG YOU ARE SO HIGH!!!)
    HIGH: Having a real example of life with diabetes to show the aide.
  • HIGH: During the final dinner we saw a cool new “something” that is hopefully headed for human clinical trials this year.OMGLOW:  It’s proprietary so I can’t show you or tell you anything more about it.  But trust me, it has very awesome potential!!
  • HIGH: Finally banishing some of my shyness and heading to the bar with great new
    Left to Right: Marcus, Jonathan, Lisa, Deb and Ann.
    LOW:  Major sleep deprivation.  (Totally worth it though!!)
  • HIGH:  Reconnecting with old friends, some of which I met IRL for the first time.friends Clockwise from top:  Meghann; Kathy; Jeanne and Flat Robby; Beth; and Mellissa and JuicyMama.
    LOW:  Saying good-bye to them all when it was time to head home.
  • HIGH:  Knowing that I’m doing something to help make life better for everyone with Type 1 diabetes.YouCanDoThisTooHIGH: Letting you know how important it is for you to use your voice too!  Please sign up and become an advocate - it’s quick, easy and painless!  You’ll get a few action alerts through out the year with easy detailed instructions to email or call your representative and let them know how important diabetes funding is.  Please please please add your voice to our ranks here.
    LOW: This time there isn't one. Everybody wins!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Beautiful(?) Day in the Neighborhood . . . .

About an hour ago I was on the phone with Pete when suddenly we got disconnected.  My t.v. and internet were down too, so I assumed it was a cable provider outage due to sun spots.  (I know, sounds crazy but it’s a real thing.  I used to work for a cable company and I swear it’s true!!)  I decided to go dry my hair but the blow dryer wouldn’t work.  Crap, it wasn’t a cable outage, it was a power outage!

I saw my neighbor outside so I went (into the 20 degree weather with my hair in a wet towel) to ask if he’d lost power too.  He had, and another neighbor came out to say he had just reported the outage. 

And then the first neighbor said “Hey, I have another question for you.  You have diabetes, right?  My wife has diabetes too and she brought all her diabetes levels down with okra.”

Me: “Good for her.  But she had Type 2, which means her body doesn’t properly use the insulin she makes.  (An oversimplification, I know, but I was trying to start somewhere.)  I have Type 1, which means I don’t make any insulin at all.”

Neighbor:  “Type 1, Type 2, it doesn’t matter.  Do you know what okra is?”

Me:  “Yes.  I like it fried.  Although that isn’t very healthy.”

Neighbor:  “Well, she brought all her diabetes levels down with okra.  Just chop it up and put it in water for eight hours and then drink it.”

Me:  “I'm glad for her, but I don’t think okra will work for me.  I have Type 1, my body doesn't make any insulin.”

Neighbor:  “It doesn’t matter.  She has friends with diabetes and she turned them on to the okra.  A few of them have that pump thing, so that means their diabetes is really bad.  And the okra brought all of their diabetes levels down too.  You just have to drink it twice a day.”

I know he doesn’t know a lot about diabetes.  And I know he’s one of those people who always thinks he knows everything, on every subject.  So today, as I stood out there freezing, I decided it wasn’t worth the advocacy effort to attempt any more explanations.  And just then, the second neighbor yelled from his house the the power was back.  I thanked the first neighbor and told him I'd look into the okra thing (yes, I flat out lied) and came back inside.

I feel bad that I didn’t do a better job of explaining to him.  I feel scared for him and his wife, because I don’t think they really understand diabetes.  And I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t try harder.  But some days, I just don’t have it in me.