Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Great Glucose Tablet Debate!!

One of the things I love most about Twitter is that I often find myself in a totally silly and very entertaining conversation that leaves me giggling long after I’ve shut down the computer.  One of these silly conversations happened a week or so ago and, believe it or not,  it was all about glucose tablets.  It started innocently enough, with a tweet from Brian pondering which flavor glucose tabs he should order:

And a bunch of us started voicing our opinions on our favorite glucose tablet flavors, and on flavors we wish existed.  Before we knew it, Bennet had a brilliant brainstorm:

And then it got really silly really fun!!  We settled on the categories of Best Flavor, Worst Flavor and Strangest Flavor.  Nominations began flying in from Alecia, Briley, Bennet, Kelly, Brian and me.  (I also tagged @GlucoLift and barraged poor Christopher with our flavor inspirations!!)

But hey, we want to make sure the whole DOC can voice their opinions on glucose tablet flavors.  So Bennet came up with The Great Glucose Tab Survey of 2012!!  He put together a clever and funny little survey that we hope everyone will take a few seconds to answer.  It contains all of the brilliant, silly and downright gross suggestions, along with spaces for your own tab flavor creations.  Are you game??  Click below and make your vote count!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

My (knit) Pancreas doesn’t Work . . .

Happy Diabetes Art Day!!! 

It’s unlike me to plan ahead, but I’ve known for a while what my Diabetes Art Day project would be.  I was inspired by those cute little plush pancreases I’ve seen around.  I decided, since my current pancreas isn’t doing a thing, I’d knit myself a new one!!  I decided to base my knit pancreas on this picture, which is even labeled with “head”, “body” and “tail”, so I’d know exactly where to stitch the facial features.  I had plans on using old diabetes supplies to embellish my knit pancreas.

I selected some soft, fuzzy yarn.  I got my knitting needles.  I did some figuring and wrote up the beginnings of a pattern.  And I cast on my pancreas.  I knit and knit and knit.  I knit some more.  I worked hard . . . . and then?  Yuck.  I hated it.  It was way too big and looking kind of odd.  So I frogged.  (Frogged is knit-speak for ripped the whole damn thing out).

I grabbed some graph paper and started to chart out a new pancreas based on that picture I liked.  I cast on again.  I knit some more.  Then I really looked at what I was knitting and at what I had drawn on the graph paper.  I decided it looked less like a pancreas and more like . . . . well . . . .  a very non-family-friendly body part.  That’s right.  Just like my real pancreas, I sadly realized that my knit pancreas was not working.

So for Diabetes Art Day, I present to you, MY PANCREAS FAIL.
But here is the key thing.  The next Diabetes Art Day is just five months away.  So I’ll treat this failed project just like I treat diabetes.  As noted in my art, I will “Adjust and Try Again”.  I will “Persevere”.  And maybe when the Fourth annual Diabetes Art Day rolls around, I’ll have a brand new (knit) pancreas to share!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Getting WILD

After acknowledging and blogging about my diabetes slump, I took the first step towards turning over a new leaf.   So excited to get started next week!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sloppy or Burnt . . . .

I feel like I’m slowly becoming more and more lazy about diabetes lately.  I’m swagging my carbs and insulin more than usual.  I’m testing a lot less.  I’m bolusing and treating off my CGM numbers more and more, even though I know that’s a very bad idea.  Exercise?  What is exercise?  Overall, I just feel like my diabetes management has been getting sloppy.

BurntIf you asked me if it’s Diabetes Burnout, I’d probably say it’s not and that it’s just me being a slacker.  But when I stop to think about it . . . . isn’t that pretty much what Diabetes Burnout is?  Being sloppy because I just don’t feel that motivated?  Knowing I should try harder, but just not today?  Feeling that while I could be doing better, I’m not doing all that bad so it’s no big deal?

Ummm, hello, time for a wake-up call!!  I have to say, this sounds like Diabetes Burnout (or at least the beginnings of it) to me.  Does it sound like Diabetes Burnout to you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Bad Night

Or perhaps I should say “Bad Site”.  Although I’m not entirely sure that was the cause - it's still a mystery.  It took me until almost 3 a.m. to get it below 200.  Today?  Feeling terrible.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Two Weeks until DArt Day!!

dartday_Postcard_Front copy
Yay, we are just two weeks away from Diabetes Art Day!  This is always such a fun event.  Two years ago I made the VooDoo doll that eventually became a book cover.  Last year I made jewelry.  And this year?  This year involves knitting . . .

It is completely unlike me to have started my Diabetes Art Day project already.  Usually I’m extremely last minute, crafting it ON Diabetes Art Day.  But this year I decided early what I wanted to make.  I don’t have a pattern, so I’m making it up as I go.  And I’m NOT a knit-designer, so this may end up being a disaster.  But I’m really hoping it turns out okay, because I really like my idea.

You can get all of the details on Diabetes Art Day and how to participate right on the site.  What are you creating for Diabetes Art Day??

Friday, September 7, 2012

Little things mean a lot . . .

Monday morning started just like any other Monday . . . . except that I woke up a little later because it was a holiday.  But still, just like every other Monday (or Tuesday or Saturday or every day) the first thing I did was reach for my pump to check my CGM.  As I unclipped it from my pajamas I heard the distressing sound of plastic cracking.  Nestled deep in the sheets was that little button thingie that locks and unlocks the pump (yes, that is the technical term . . . okay, not  really).  The rest of the clip immediately let go of my pump and refused to clutch it any more.

“Oh crud, my pump clip broke!”  The broken clip is a pretty minor thing, and if I’m going to have a pump problem, I’d say the broken clip is the one to have.  I ordered up a new one before I even got out of bed (yay for the myMedtronic Connect app on my iPhone!).  Then I dug out the other clip that came with my new pump, the Holster, which was still sealed in its packaging.

The Holster works.  It holds my pump and clips to my clothing.  But can I tell you?  I kind of hated it.  Compared to the Belt Clip, the Holster felt big and bulky.  It was cool that it rotates so I could wear my pump vertically or horizontally, but either way I wore it I found it jabbed into me all the time.  So when Mr. UPS Guy delivered my replacement Belt Clip today, I practically hugged him!

A pump clip is such a small accessory that I’ve never given it much thought - until it was out of commission.  It’s funny to realize what a difference something so small can make!!  What little things have you discovered actually mean a lot?

** As much as I dislike disclosures stating there is nothing to disclose, I find myself compelled to do so today.  I do have a contract with Medtronic, however this post has nothing to do with it. I'm just your average pump user who broke her clip and ordered a new one. **

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lilly Glucagon Mobile App

I’ll admit it . . . .  glucagon scares me.  So far I’ve been fortunate enough to never have needed a loved one to administer it to me, but that doesn’t make me any less scared.  The thing with glucagon is that it comes with a fairly detailed set of instructions that must be followed precisely before it is ready to administer.  And it gets injected with a huge needle.  In the event that I passed out and needed glucagon, it’s likely that Pete would be the one to give it to me.  I can’t imagine the stress he’d be feeling if I was in an urgent enough situation that glucagon was needed. Now let’s add in the fact that he is extremely nervous about needles - he doesn’t even like to prick my finger for a blood sugar check. My heart breaks to picture him frantically trying to unfold, read and follow the larger printed sheet of instructions in a glucagon kit while knowing my life depends on him and that huge needle.

A glucagon kit that is easier to use would be great, but until then there is a new mobile app out from Lilly which, according their press release, “serves as a teaching tool and can provide guidance for treatment with Lilly Glucagon for Injection (rDNA origin) during severe hypoglycemic events".  The press release also notes that the app includes . . .
  • "Information about severe hypoglycemia and Glucagon
  • Simulated practice demonstrating how to prepare and inject Glucagon
  • Visual and audio emergency instructions
  • Tools to keep track of kit locations and alerts for expiration dates
  • Important safety information"
  I downloaded the app to take a look.

Screen shots from the Lilly Glucagon Mobile App
I think this app is a really good idea.  The first screen shot shows the intro screen detailing some of the features noted from the press release, the second shows the home screen, and the third is a shot of the emergency instructions.  I particularly think the Manage My Kits log is a fantastic idea - since we’ve never used our glucagon I sometimes forget where we stashed it and honestly, I’m pretty sure it has expired.  This app will allow me to set one or more reminders of the expiration date - one month before, two weeks before, and every day for the last week before the kit expires.

When Pete gets home tonight, I plan to load this app on his phone too, and go through the tutorial with him.  In reality, it may not keep him any calmer if he ever needs to give me glucagon.  But the fact that he can familiarize himself with the steps on a simulator before hand, and will have emergency instructions easily accessible on either of our cell phones, does help me worry a bit less.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Life with a Diabetic Alert Dog - Part 2

Today I’m happy to share the second guest post from my friend Hilary, who blogs at Rainie and Me.  Yesterday she gave us some insights on how Rainie helps alert her to lows - sometimes well before her meter can even pick it up!  Today she shares more about her work with Early Alert Canines and how DADs can  help keep children with diabetes safe.

One of the reasons I’m excited about working with Early Alert Canines (EAC) is we train and place DADs with families with young diabetic children. We call those dogs “Skilled Companions”. I wish every family with a diabetic child could have a DAD. Looking back on my own childhood, I wish I had had a blood sugar alert dog. The dog would have been able to express what I, as an infant and child, could not. The dog could have affirmed to my parents that my blood sugar was dropping, and that I was not cranky from teething pains, growth spurts, adolescence, etc. And even though kids might get angry with their parents, a gentle nuzzle from a dog is usually returned in kind.

As a nurse, and a person born with diabetes, I can only imagine what a dog could do for a parent’s peace of mind. The dog would be another set of eyes and ears (and nose) to monitor the young child’s (or children’s) BS levels and alert the child’s parent when appropriate. The DAD can help shoulder some of the parent’s responsibilities, while, hopefully, allying some of their fears. One mother who just graduated from EAC with her son and their dog tearfully exclaimed, “Thank you! I don’t feel so alone!” Here is another story that shows why I’m passionate about DADs being placed in families with diabetic children: I know of a dog that has been placed in a home with three diabetic children under age 6. The dog sleeps in the hallway between the children’s bedrooms, and alerts the mom when one of the kid’s blood sugar begins dropping rapidly, bringing her to the appropriate child.


I apologize for getting on my soapbox! I wish I could tell you all the ways Rainie has changed my life and my relationship to my own diabetes. She is my friend and constant companion, as well as being my perpetual blood sugar alert system. She has truly saved my life at night and during one particular walk on the beach. There are so many stories to tell – and Rainie and I have only been together for a little over two years.

I’d like to make myself available to anyone who has questions about life with a diabetic alert dog! Please feel free to read my blog or contact me at or email me at:

And, for those individuals interested in reading a blog about having a diabetic alert dog while in college, please read my friend Amelia’s blog

And one last story: Not long after Halloween, I was walking my dog when a little boy named Jason came running with his cape flying behind him as he swung his light-saber from side to side. He was yelling, “Hey! Is that a Ewok?” I laughed and introduced him to my golden retriever named Rainie. He wanted to know why she had a red jacket on. As I explained to Jason and his mom that Rainie is a diabetic alert dog and that she notifies me when my blood sugar is dropping rapidly, his mom began to cry — Jason had just been released from the hospital after being found unconscious due to low blood sugar. As we were talking, Jason looked up at me, with his arms around Rainie’s neck, and said, “If I had a dog like Rainie, she would keep me safe – just like my light-saber.”

Thank you so much, Hilary, for giving us your insights on life with a DAD!  Please be sure to visit Hilary at Rainie And Me to hear more about life with Rainie and to see the beautiful pottery Hilary created for a recent Early Alert Canines fundraiser.  You can also check out more about EAC on their Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life with a Diabetic Alert Dog - Part 1

Each year during Diabetes Blog Week, I have the pleasure of “meeting” and getting to know diabetes bloggers who I hadn’t connected with yet.  This year, one of the new friends I made was Hilary of Rainie and Me.  We’ve conversed by email and over the phone, and I am fascinated by her stories of life with a Diabetes Alert Dog and her work with Early Alert Canines.  When I asked if she’d like to write a guest post, she graciously agreed!

IMG_1997Rainie is my diabetic alert dog, and even though I’ve experienced lots of changes and advancements in diabetic technology since I was diagnosed 55 years ago, nothing has changed my life as much as Rainie has. I hope to explain about diabetic alert dogs (DADs), and tell you some stories about how she has impacted my life. Please note: when I refer to Rainie’s training, or the training of a DAD, I am talking only about the training Rainie has received. I help to train the dogs at Early Alert Canines (EAC), and am supported by EAC’s head trainer, Carol Edwards, in order to keep Rainie certified with ADI (Assistance Dogs International).

First, let me answer this question: What is a Diabetic Alert Dog (also known as a Hypoglycemic Alert Dog)?

A diabetic alert dog (DAD) has been trained to recognize the biochemical scent that a diabetic's body produces as the blood glucose begins to drop. Upon smelling the scent, the dog will then alert its partner, thus avoiding acutely dangerous hypoglycemia and long-term diabetes complications. Some DADs are trained to smell and alert on the scent of rapidly rising blood sugar also.


Rainie and I have been a team for over two years now. When we were placed together, she was a semi-rowdy, 20 month-old, golden retriever/yellow Lab puppy. She was raised as a seeing-eye puppy, but was ‘career-changed’ and trained as a DAD because she is very afraid of motorcycles. Now, she is my best friend, non-judgmental companion and perpetual blood sugar alert system. Because she is a service dog, she can come with me anyplace the general public is allowed. And her presence and constant monitoring allows me to experience a greater peace of mind. I’m more confident because she will alert me before I get into trouble.

I like to consider her alerts a warning, as if she’s telling me, “Pay attention to your blood sugar NOW! You’re changing fast.” Her alerts begin as gentle nudges that will get stronger if I ignore her – even to the point of getting my husband, daughter, or a friend if I’m not paying attention. Rainie has been trained to be ‘on duty’ no matter where we are or what we’re dong. She has alerted me in places like the movies, on hikes, while I’m in the shower, in restaurants, at the farmers’ market, on airplanes, working in the garden, at the doctor’s office, while I’m swimming at the gym, etc. She will wake me up at night (which is important), and once got my husband from another room when I was sick with a high fever, and was too asleep to notice her nudges, which proceeded to her lying on top of me. She alerts me when I’m driving, and has blocked me from getting into the driver’s seat when she’s felt my blood sugar is too low – and she was right each time!

IMG_1905There are many wonderful things about having a DAD. First of all, her alerting indicates my BS is dropping at this instance. In fact sometimes the dogs alert before the meters can measure a change. They can even smell that your blood sugar is going to drop soon! (And this is much more accurate that the 20 minute delay of a continuous glucose monitor.) The first time Rainie alerted me early, I was at work. I did my BS and it was 180 after breakfast – that number was expected, so I did my BS again 10 minutes later (as I’m supposed to do), and it was about 182. But she kept alerting me! I repeated a test again 10 minutes later, and the reading was 179. Yet Rainie kept alerting. Finally, I tested myself a fourth time, and my BS had dropped 100 points! I was amazed, and ate some glucose. Another pleasure about DADs is that their alerting is consistent and non-judgmental. I don’t tend to get annoyed at Rainie like I would if my husband told me, “Hilary, don’t you think you should check your blood sugar?” I know she’s alerting out of duty and love. And by alerting when my BS (blood sugar) begins to drop quickly, I can often avoid going too high afterword (often called ‘re-bounding). My liver no longer has the need to push glucose out into my blood stream because my blood sugar levels haven’t gone so low that the liver is signaled to correct the hypoglycemia. Having a dog is also a wonderful way to meet people, get exercise, and I find I’m not so self-conscious about having diabetes. People will ask me, “What does she do?” or “What does she ‘early alert on?” and I’ll tell them that she is a diabetic alert dog and smells my low blood sugar. I can then talk about diabetes and DADs without having the focus on me. But I think the best ‘gift’ I get from having Rainie, my diabetic alert dog, is a fuller sense of peace-of-mind. I no longer have to fear that my blood sugar will drop and that I’ll be unaware of it. I can exercise, drive, and do almost anything while not worrying that I’m falling into danger. Because of having diabetes so long, I can no longer feel when I’m going low, and having Rainie’s attention and monitoring makes me feel safer in the world, and during sleep. My family doesn’t worry as much about me either. My husband isn’t afraid to go on long trips because he knows that Rainie will help to keep me aware and safe. And, even with all her life-saving responsibilities, Rainie knows just when to put her head in my lap when life with diabetes has gotten me down.

Thank you, Hilary, for giving us some first hand insights on Diabetes Alert Dogs, and more specifically, wonderful Rainie.  Come back tomorrow for more about Hilary’s work with Early Alert Canines and how DAD’s are so helpful to people with diabetes.