Thursday, July 31, 2008

New tips I've learned

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I picked up Pumping Insulin recently after reading in several places that it's a Must Read for any pumper. Being the OCD person I am, I decided to read every single page. I have to admit, the first few chapters seemed kind of dry and I was anxious to get into the chapters that cover pump operation. But even in those "dry chapters" I'm learning tips and info I didn't know. I plan to hope to share a few new discoveries with you each week.

So far I've learned this:
  • Fast acting insulin is not as fast as I've been lead to believe. I'm now bolusing even earlier before eating, and as a result my 2 hours blood sugars have shown real improvement. (Almost always 140 or below).

  • Using the bg reminder is great! When I went for my pump training, the CDE was quick to notice my OCD tenancies. She told me I wouldn't need to use the reminder, since she was sure I'd remember to test two hours after eating. Which is true. It's also true that the alarm bugs many (most?) people. However, after reading about it in the book, I turned my pump's Reminder Feature on for at try. And I love it!! While I CAN remember what time I ate and what time I need to test again, it's nice not to HAVE TO remember. When I'm distracted and busy (okay, reading blogs *ahem*), the little BEEP BOOP BEEP will tear me away from the computer for my next test. After all the keeping track I do both diabetes-wise and in general, it's nice to have something do the keeping track for me.
There is also great info on carb counting and the glycemic index. I've been carb counting for years and recently read a couple of books on GI eating though, so most of it was just a refresher for me.

I highly recommend adding this book to your library, and I know I'll turn to it in the years to come for reference. I'll try to keep you posted on the other useful info I find as I finish reading it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How can you laugh when you know I'm down

Just like The Beatles song, "I'm down (I'm really down)".

Don't get me wrong . . . my mood is just fine. It's my blood sugars that are down. Really down. (Well, actually no . . . not really down . . . just kind of down.)

The weird thing is, things have been pretty level for the past few weeks. But now, suddenly, lots of lows. The details:
  • 56 - before dinner yesterday. Ate 14g "fast acting carbs (yum)" , then bolused for and ate dinner.
  • 51 - 2 hours after dinner. Ate another 14g of carbs, then had a big spoonful of frosting. Then, although I knew I was over-treating, I ate three cookies. Yup, it was one of those lows where I couldn't stop eating. I decided to bolus enough to almost cover the cookies, so I wouldn't spike too high.
  • 139 - 1 hour later and before bed. Seemed good, but I set my alarm for 3am in case I was still spiking up.
  • 2ish am - while half asleep, decided I was fine (didn't feel thirsty and didn't have to pee), so I shut off the alarm. Had I been fully awake, I would have tested anyway, regardless of how I felt.
  • 58 - fasting sugar this morning (I was shocked that it was so low). My Bolus Wizard and I agreed that skipping the normal .7 unit bolus I take to cover my coffee would work just fine.
  • 94 - Yes!!! In the good range before breakfast. Ate my usual 1/2 cup Fiber One and 1/2 banana and took .1 unit less than my usual bolus.
  • 97 - 2 hours after breakfast. That's a bit low after only two hours, with insulin still on board. I had a snack and only bolused for half the carbs.
  • 52 - before lunch. What the heck!!!! Good thing I didn't spend the morning cleaning the house like I had planned!!
  • 143 - 2 hours after lunch. That's more on target for an after-meal reading.
Just another case of "don't know how, don't know why". Oh well, at least it seems to be Getting Better. "A little better all the time (It can't get no worse)" (Well, actually yes. . . it could . . . let's just hope it doesn't!!)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Meet my biggest supporter

One of the most important things I've learned over my years with diabetes is this:
It helps so much to have people in your life to pick you up and cheer you on when things get tough. Things will get tough. Not always, but sometimes. And that's when you really need people you can count on to keep you going.
Hands down, my biggest supporter is my husband - whom I call Sweetpea on my knitting blog . . . . and in Real Life . . . . and now here. I figured it was about time he was properly introduced, since I'm sure I'll be referring to him often.

I met my Sweetpea in 1999 (see #2 here if you want the details). We went on our first date on June 26, 1999, and six months later he took a job 3 hours away. I understood why he needed to go, but I was insistent that I would not, could not, do the long distance thing. Until the decision was made that he would be moving. Then I decided to give it a try.

We saw each other only on weekends for three long years. Then he moved back, and soon after we got engaged. We were married on June 26, 2004 - five years to the day of our first date.

Pea is the best thing in my life. He encourages me to no end. When the stress of my old job was becoming too much for my blood sugar to handle, he didn't hesitate to crunch numbers and put together budgets so we could get me out of there. And as I continue to try to figure out what I want to be "when I grow up", he is nothing but patient and supportive. He finds me "treats" when I'm too low. He encourages us both to eat a very healthy diet. He gently nudges me to test at the first sign of crankiness (and quite often, there is a low I didn't feel. Although, many times I'm just cranky by nature!) He would do anything he can to keep me healthy - and that really helps on those days where it just feels not worth the trouble.

He's pretty cute too!!!

Hey, what's that he's pouring into the glass? I think we need a closer look, no?

They look yummy, don't they?? What you see there are the Frozen Strawberry Daiquiris Pea whipped up the other night from our 375 Sensational Splenda Recipes cookbook. No sugar (besides what occurs in the unsweetened frozen strawberries), only 7 grams of carbs per serving, and so yummy that I no longer have to miss Strawberry Daiquiris! And what did Pea think about them?

Yup, he liked 'em just as much as I did!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Good to be away, good to be home.

Well, vacation is officially over. We spend a fun week in Colonial Williamsburg for a Family Reunion with my mother's side of the family. I was sure I had gotten a shot of the 25ish of us all posing together, but I guess my camera was hidden away when the picture was taken. Hopefully some relatives will upload their copies soon! The best I can do is a picture of me and my brother at Jamestown, with my aunt and uncle in the back.

How can you tell that's me, and that we are related? Why, by the way we are both desperately trying to ignore the camera (and Pea) in the hopes of not getting our picture taken!! Our conversation probably went something like this:
"Is he gone yet?"
"Nope, still there."
"Well for goodness sake, don't look - and certainly don't smile!"
"Why doesn't he just go take a shot of the scenery?"

As great as vacation is, it's good to be home. Am I the only one who loves to go away, but maybe loves to come home even more? It's always so nice to be back in my own house, sleeping in my own bed and using my own clean bathroom where everything is accessible and not stuffed in a travel case. If it weren't for the empty fridge and piles of dirty laundry, coming home just might be perfect.

Another nice thing about coming home is cooking my meals own again. Now, I love a good meal out as much as the next person, but it's always a bit of a challenge. Trying to resist the less-healthy menu options (and in my case, usually ordering them anyway), playing Guess the Carb Count, and punching in S.W.A.G. boluses with the hopes of covering the mystery carbs just right. After a full week of eating every meal this way, it feels good to come back home to food whose carb count I am 100% sure of.

But as vacations go, things went pretty smoothly Diabetes-Wise. Well, okay, I did get my first ever non-delivery message at breakfast on Monday, which caused a near freak-out. But I caught it when my blood sugar was only in the low 200's, and since I had put in a new site a few hours earlier I knew to just change it out. By mid-morning I was back where I should be. Oh, and there was the night I accidentally gave my site a good whack. It seemed fine, but I woke up a 2 am in the high 200's. Not normal for me. Again, I changed out the site, stayed up for an hour to make sure my blood sugar was heading back down, and woke for good at 7 am with a reading of 72. Crisis averted. The very hot weather and all of the walking we did while sight seeing even afforded me a few treats along the way. (Mmm, fudge, how I've missed you!) All in all, not a bad vacation.

But it's still good to be home.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Off schedule

It seems I'm running a bit behind these days. My brother is here from Colorado for the first time in a few years. Pea is officially on vacation this week. And it's time for some fun. I had hoped to pre-write a few posts to keep things rolling on the blog while I'm off "playing" - but I seem to have run out of time.

I hate when my schedule is off. I love having a routine and sticking to it. I know this is going to be a very fun week, but vacations are always hard too. Different routines. Different exercise. Different food. And now, trying to navigate through it all with my pump.

I think I'll be okay though. The pump is different, and I'm still adjusting, but it's already made things much MUCH easier. And my vacation reading? Pumping Insulin.

What, other people prefer "fluff" books when they are on vacation? Oh well, once a geek, always a geek!!

Enjoy your week and I'll see you after my vacation!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Did the Sugar Fairy visit me while I slept?

A few mornings ago, I awoke a little after 6:00 to use the bathroom. This is a normal routine for me. I rarely need to make a bathroom run during the night, but by 6 or 6:30 my bladder has had enough.

I noticed I was more thirsty than usual, but wasn't too worried. I had cooked some home-made Chicken Tortilla Soup for dinner the night before and figured maybe it was a bit heavy on the salt. Surely that was the cause for my thirst, and not a visit from the Sugar Fairy.

But as I washed my hands, I felt something smacking against my shins. I looked down, horrified to find it was the end of my tubing. I was even more horrified when I couldn't get the "quick disconnect" to connect back into my infusion set.

I woke up Sweetpea (my husband, who hates to get up early) and asked him to help me connect the tubing, but he couldn't get it to snap back in either. Best I can tell, I must have rolled over on the infusion set in the night and smooshed it but good. (It was toward the back of my hip.) But what time did this happen? With an impending sense of doom, I tested my blood sugar . . .

3 . . . .

2 . . . .

1 . . . .

In retrospect, 327 wasn't THAT bad. It could have been much, much worse. It could have been "off the meter". But, as a newbie pumper in the midst of my first equipment malfunction, I promptly freaked out and cried to Pea that I didn't want to end up in the hospital with The Big K.

Thank goodness for Sweetpea. He told me to calm down, and began to gather my supplies from the dresser drawer. In the mean time, I took an injection to adjust. Within a few minutes or so, a new set was safely in place. And by mid-morning, my blood sugar was a nice (if a bit low) 71.

All in all, I was very lucky to catch it pretty quickly. But I'm still a bit nervous each night, wondering what exactly happened and if it will happen again. Has anything like this ever happened to you? (I use the Minimed Quick-Set.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

This . . . is . . . Jeopardy!!!!

For $100, the reason construction hasn't begun on a building.
"What is a site problem?"

For $200, why little Suzie can't see the blackboard in her classroom.
"What are sight problems?"

For $300, it is why that web-page just won't load.
"What are site problems?"
You are on a roll!!

And for $400, the probable cause of those floopy blood sugar readings in my last post?
(can you see where this is going?) "WHAT IS A SITE PROBLEM'?

That's right. When I changed my infusion set on Thursday afternoon, I discovered what I think was the problem. As a new pumper, I'm still very much in the learning phase, but it was quite obvious something was wrong. I snapped a picture, but I'm not sure how much you can see.

If you look closely, above the red mark where the cannula was there is a small blister type thingie. I'm not sure if it had insulin or puss (ick) or just air inside, but I've never seen anything like that before when I remove a site. So, along with the dozens of other reasons my blood sugars may have been "off", we can add this one.

For now, I'll just focus on the wise words of my new blog-friend and "give myself a break". Things won't ever be perfect all the time, so we just do what we can and move forward.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I knew it . . . .

Remember in my last post, where I said I shouldn't mention that my blood sugars have been great because I'd probably jinx myself and be plagued by high readings? Yeah . . . . I was right. I should have kept my big mouth shut!

A random sample of how my daily blood sugars look goes something like this:

67 96 90 65 115 124 130 87 90

Pretty good, huh???? But, after jinxing myself on Tuesday, yesterday looked like this:

193 129 195 67 90 160 167 178
and 251

(the 251 is at 2:43 am, which is technically today not yesterday, but I count it as yesterday because I don't start my day at 2:43 am)

Okay, okay, I know things are bound to go hay-wire sometimes. And the bad readings are probably NOT due to the fact that I posted about good blood sugars for all the world to see - thus banishing myself to a Diabetes Smack-Down via bad readings.

The frustrating thing, as I'm sure you all can guess, is that I have no clue why my blood sugars are suddenly soaring (besides the whole jinx thing). Maybe I've been a bit less active due to the hot and humid weather we've been having - but we had our weekly ballroom dancing lesson last night, and my overnights always rock after that. (So why a 251?????) I don't feel any more stressed out than I usually do (I can always find SOMETHING to stress over, but nothing new there). And it isn't the right time of month for the hormone roller-coaster.

Rather than dwell (and stress) over it too much, today I'll be a little more active, drink a lot more water (which I've been slacking off on lately) and hope my Blood Sugar Jinx wears off soon! I'll also test a few extra times. Gee, wouldn't a CGM really come in handy right now???

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


As I mentioned in my last post, Gina has had the wonderful idea that we all raise our voices today and let the insurance companies know how much we need them to approve requests for CGMs.

I've been on my pump for about 2 1/2 months. Before I took the plunge, I couldn't see how the "new" pump technology could really help me any more than taking injections. After all, both have the same end result - getting insulin into my body. Now, as a pumper, I can attest to how much better this little piece of technology is. My blood sugars have never been better (although I hate to say that for fear of jinxing myself and ending up with a boat-load of highs - I think it will take a while before I get more confident that control this good can last). Pumping has also made my life much easier in ways I never could have imagined.

So what does that have to do with Continuous Glucose Monitors? Well, like the pump, in the not so distant past I had no desire to try a CGMS. I figured why mess with what I know - finger sticks? How could a CGMS be any better, especially since the technology is new and all the kinks have not been worked out yet?

Well, my views on CGM have changed in the last 2 1/2 months as well. I can see how, even if right now they are not always 100% accurate, a CGM can help control immensely. They help spot trends and pinpoint times of the day when a basal tweak may be necessary. They work hard in the over-night hours, when I'd be asleep and less likely to catch a low - ready to sound the alarm if my blood sugar starts to crash. I am sure a CGMS would make my life easier in ways I could never have imagined - just like my pump. So I am very upset to know that if my doctor agrees with me that I am ready to start on one, chances are good the the insurance company will jinx it.

I have had an important point ingrained into me over and over - the most important thing a diabetic can do to stay healthy is to check blood sugar often and keep it under control. This is the best way to fend off complications and live a long and healthy life. Yes, the cost of a CGMS is not small - but the insurance companies need to understand that the costs are much smaller than the cost of managing and treating diabetes complications. And on a personal level. the costs are nothing compared to the improved quality of life a CGMS can bring me.

I did not ask for this disease. It's something I was dealt, and I live with it every day and work constantly to manage it the best I can.

I did not ask for this disease. But you can bet I'm ready to ask for anything that will help me manage it. Don't deny me that right.