Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One pump, Two pump, Dead pump, New pump . . .

With a hat tip to Dr. Seuss for my post title, I wanted to finally tell you a story.  This all happened a few weeks ago - and while I've been wanting to blog about it, some things around here have kept me off-line for a while.  Things like finishing up my class, busy weekends, some not-so-good family news, out of town guests and being sick on the couch.  You know, life stuff.

For now, let's rewind to a Friday night a few weeks ago.  Pete and I decided to FINALLY attend one of the Practice Parties at the ballroom studio where we take lessons.  I put on a cute dress, stashed my pump in my bra, and headed out to the Oktoberfest Dance Celebration.  (The studio owners are from Germany, as are most of the staff.)  We had fun.  We danced a lot.  And then we headed home.

While in the car, I fished my pump out of my bra to see what the CGM was reading.  I hit the buttons but something was wrong.  It kept freezing up on me.  I decided to wait until we got home and into the light to see what was going on.

In the well-lit kitchen, I tried again.  It seemed like the pump would take one button push and then lock up.  After fiddling with it for a few more minutes, I decided to call Minimed's 24 hour tech support.  Even at 11:00 pm on a Friday they were "experienced high call volume" and I had to "stay on the line for the next available support person" . . . *** insert cheesy on-hold music here *****.  While I waited for Mr. Tech-Support-Guy my pump wailed a series of shrill beeps and flashed me a "Button Error".

It wasn't too long before Mr. Tech-Support-Guy was with me and I explained the locking buttons and the error message.  "Okay, has your pump recently been submerged?"  "No."  "Okay, we do see this problem sometimes, and I have to say, it happens to females more often than males.  I'll explain why."  He talked about how most men just clip their pump to their waistband and are done.  But women often tuck it into their bra (why yes, I did!!) or inside their waistband where it is next to the skin.  Over time, especially in hotter climates, sweat can make it's way into the buttons and cause them to corrode.  I mentioned that I don't wear my pump in my bra very often, but that I had it there that night.

I had hoped we'd run some diagnostic test, but unfortunately he said once the button error flashed the pump was dead and there was nothing left to do but pull out the battery to keep the pump from squawking all night and reach for the syringes for some old-fashioned injections.  He would have a new pump to my door by noon on Saturday.  I thanked him for his help and hung up.

Then I had a major melt-down.  It was almost midnight and I was freaked out and my mind wouldn't think straight.  First off I was upset that diabetes was going to make me sit around Saturday morning waiting for a new pump when I had been promising Pete all week that we'd go to a remote control helicopter show he'd been really looking forward to.  (Yeah, I know, boring . . . . but he walks around looking at yarn all day when I drag him to Fiber Festivals, so I owe him  a lot!)   Once I was done being angry at letting Pete down . . . again . . . I panicked about Lantus dosages.  How much did I used to take?  I'd been dancing all evening, how low would that push me?  Without my pump I have no CGM alarm to wake me if I crash.  It's almost midnight . . . WTF do I do?

What did I do?  I actually did something really smart.  I got on Twitter and tweeted.

Within seconds, I had helpful and supportive tweets from the D-OC and even from a knitter.

Then the phone rang and Crystal was on the other end - telling me to calm down and take some deep breathes while she figured out my dosage for me.  I don't know what I would have done without her.

This story has a happy ending.  My new pump was delivered just after 9 am on Saturday morning, meaning I was pumpless less than 10 hours.  That impressed the heck out of me, considering it broke just before midnight on a Friday.  I have to give Minimed a huge salute for the way this was handled.   I logged onto my Carelink account and printed the Device Settings report, which gave me all of the information I needed to get my new pump programmed just like my old pump.  And Pete and I were on our way to the helicopter show just one hour behind schedule.

The morel?  Always be prepared, because the worst will happen at the very worst time possible.  And if you are stuck, reach out to the D-OC.  Chances are there is always someone there to support you, no matter the time of day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Good . . .

Yesterday was all about The Ugly.  I showed the big bruise from my CGM sensor and complained about the ugliness.  But I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea, so today is about The Good.  I love having my CGM.  On the rare occasion that I don't have it on, I feel lost.  Yes, I still test just as often, if not more.  Yes, sometimes the numbers it reports are a bit off.  But usually they are within 10 - 15 points of my finger stick.  And it has helped me catch more highs and lows than I can count!!

Just the other day, I answered some questions Cherise posted as she debates whether a CGM is right for her.  Here's what she asked, and what I answered.

1. What CGM do you have?  Minimed because I have a Minimed pump and like to have everything on one gadget.

2. How long have you had it? Almost 10 months.

3. Does the insertion hurt? Often, yes, it hurts when the needle goes in and comes out. Sometimes it even stays sore for 5 or 10 minutes. Sometimes it doesn't hurt at all, although that is rare. That said, it doesn't ever hurt badly enough to make me not want to use it.

4. How long can you wear your sensor? Usually 6 - 10 days. Sometimes as many as 12. Once in a while, they only last 4 days.

5. The one thing you love about the CGM? It alerts me to highs so I can correct them sooner. It alerts me to lows that I hadn't been feeling. I've been known to go into the 30s before I even felt low, and that was scary. I also feel so much safer sleeping at night with it on.

6. What is the one thing you hate the most? I have to admit, I hate the big needles. I know I said it doesn't hurt THAT bad and it doesn't. But the big needle is scary and makes me nervous every time. Then I insert it and I'm usually thinking "that wasn't so bad, why do I let it psych me out every time?".

7. What feature do you wish your CGM had? Well, I love that the screen shows arrows up or down if my blood sugar is spiking or dropping rapidly. But I'll only see them if I LOOK at the screen. I wish there was a little alarm to alert me to the rapid changes if I don't happen to be looking at the screen.  Otherwise I likely won't know I'm spiking or dropping until my high or low alarm beeps.

8. Have you seen any overall improvement? Yes!! At my last endo appointment in July, my A1C was 6.1 - which is the lowest I've EVER been!!

9. At what point in your life did you decide "I need to get a CGM?" Once I got myself comfortable with the idea of a pump and loved having one, I felt ready for a CGM pretty quickly. Especially when I started having lows in the 30s and high 20s that I barely felt. However, I believe only you will know when the time is right for you!!

Do you have a question I didn't cover?  Submit it in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ugly . . .

This morning my CGM threw a calibration error. This almost never happens to me. Not to mention, the finger stick reading wasn't that far off from the CGM reading. But for some reason, the CGM was feeling crabby.

I was almost at the end of my six-day run. It's been reading great, so I had plans to disconnect the transmitter and recharge it. I'm hoping to get another 3 to 6 days out of it. When the cal error beeped, I decided it was the perfect time to recharge and restart.

Once the happy little light on the charger stopped flashing, I reached around to snap the transmitter back into place on the sensor. And I noticed this for the first time . . .

bruise on sensor

Nope, that is not a shadow on the right, near the front of the sensor. That is one UGLY bruise. It freaked me out a little, because I've never seen a bruise like that from a sensor - or from an insertion set, for that matter. But, I suppose they are bound to happen. After all, I am sticking needles into my body.  When I pull them out, medical equipment is left behind - my new constant companion until I swap it out for its neighbor from the supply box.

First I bent around to take a (blurry) picture of the bruise. Then I thought about the cost of the sensors. Then I attached the transmitter back into place. For now, I'll try to forget about how ugly diabetes is . . .

Monday, October 5, 2009

Meme Monday - Remember That Time?

I'm going way back to 2006 and rerunning a meme I've done before.  The catch with this meme is that this week YOU have to do the work!  Come on, play along, it will be fun!  I can't wait to see what my witty internet pals come up with!!

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, even if we don't speak often, please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL MEMORY OF YOU AND ME. It can be anything you want--good or bad--BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished, post this on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The F Word

Today I am not blogging about The D Word.  Instead I thought I'd blog about the F word.

No, not that F word!!  Figure Skating.  My mom and I share an obsession a love of figure skating.  We've been to tons of figure skating shows and to a few competitions including Skate America in 2006.  To say we are fans is a gross understatement.  To say we are gracious would also be wrong.  We have been known to go to skating events and quietly make fun of "fans" who don't know their stuff.  We firmly believe audience members should be quizzed on skating knowledge before entering the arena, and seats should be granted according to the quiz score.  This would assure us the best seats in the house!  My mom also once hinted at something I could *ahem* trade with some male skaters to get us better seats.  She was kidding . . . I think.

Go ahead.  Throw out the name of any figure skater you can think of.  I'm almost certain to have seen them skate live (provided you don't go back 45 years or anything).  I may have even met them / follow them on Twitter / got their autograph / hugged or touched them.  (Does that sound creepy?)  I watch Brian Boitano's show on Food Network.  The only thing I don't do is skate myself.  Don't get me wrong, I can go forward.  I can stop if I skate into the boards.  But that's about all I'm coordinated enough to do.  That doesn't stop me from loving, and obsessing over, figure skating.

I read skating magazines.

I have skating books.

I have a ton of autographs.
These are Ekaterina Gordeeva and Brian Boitano.

I have pictures.

The first figure skating show I ever saw was Ice Capades in the early 80s.  Tai and Randy skated in that show.  Mom and I saw every Champions on Ice from the mid-90s until they folded in 2007.  We still go to Stars on Ice every year and we always sit in the front row, which is actually folding chairs on the ice.  We used to go to all of the shows at the International Skating Center of Connecticut and we are still upset they don't have shows anymore.  We went to one show in Newington and just last weekend we went to a show in Danbury.  When Pete was living in New Jersey, I dragged him to a couple of really cool shows down there!  We sat in on-ice seats for one of those shows, An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends, and Kurt Browning crouched beside me waiting to go on and accidentally touched my hip.  *sigh*

Of all the shows we've seen, Mom and I have loved each and every one.  But a few stand out in my memory.  The year Brian Boitano did his tribute to Andrea Bocelli was amazing.  Mom and I were already huge fans of Andrea as well, so it was like someone put together a show crafted just for us.  The following year, Brian's tribute was to Earth, Wind and Fire.  They played the whole show and rocked the place!!  Andrea was a hard act to follow, but the Earth Wind and Fire show was just as awesome in its own way.  Then there was the tribute to the 1961 U.S. World Figure Skating Team.  Did you know that back then, the entire world team would travel together on one plane?  Did you know in 1961 that plane crashed and our best skaters and coaches were all lost?  That is when so many figure skating coaches from other countries began coaching in the U.S.  We had no coaches left of our own.

There are shows that were less epic, but mean as much to me.  I loved the show in Simsbury when Viktor Petrenko gave me a hug after his number.  I loved the year the male members in Stars on Ice did a spoof of an 80s hair-band (this is a YouTube link with regrettable poor footage, but it's all I could find), and John Zimmerman played "rock god and groupie" with me by grabbing my hand when I held it up.  (I have to admit, I blacked out a little on that one, but it was cool.)  I loved the time my mom clapped so hard that her ring flew off her hand and onto the ice.  Brian Orser picked it up and brought it to her, and she conned a hug out of him.  (Yes, I know, we are shameless).

The show I loved the most of all is also the show I wish never happened.  It was the tribute that was held after Sergei Grinkov died.  He had been living in Connecticut at the time, and the tribute was held here.  We were able to go.  It was the first time his widow appeared on the ice after his death.  It was beautiful and sad and so amazing.   I can never ever put into words what that show was like, but the memories will never fade.

And that, my friends, is what the F Word is to me.  There is so much more to all of us than the D Word.  Thank you for letting me share a little more of myself with you!