Monday, September 22, 2008


Things have been pretty busy around here lately. Pea and I are starting to feel like the only time we see each other is when we collapse glassy-eyed in front of the TV. So yesterday we decided to take time out for an adventure to our favorite playground for grown-ups, Mohegan Sun Casino. Pea's game of choice is Roulette, while I'm more of a Slot Machine girl.

Oddly enough, I couldn't help but compare the one-armed-bandit to my blood glucose monitor. They both sing out to me - with a Ling-Ling-Ling from the slots and a Beep-Beep from my monitor. I feed shiny round quarters into one, and red droplets into the other. Then I wait patiently for the results. Sometimes I'm up. Sometimes I'm down. When I break even, I consider that I've won!

Are there days when you feel like you have as much control over your blood sugar as you do over the slot machine reels? Sometimes it's all just feels like a gamble to me. With the slots, I try to cash out when I'm ahead. I wish diabetes had a "collect your winnings" button too. Instead, I just keep feeding in those red droplets.

Yesterday was a good day. I hit the jackpot on both counts. I ended the day with an extra $200 in my pocket and a daily blood sugar average of 108. I hope Lady Luck decides to stick around for a while!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My meter of choice

A few days ago in one of the forums I peruse, someone posted that they were getting ready to buy a meter and wanted to know which one we preferred and why.  She was thinking of buying a One-Touch Ultra Mini.  I posted that I own one and use it as a back-up because it's small enough to stash permanently in my purse.  I also let her know there was a good chance she could qualify for a free one (scroll down and click on "Get a meter").

However, my favorite meter, the one I use all the time, is the Accu-Check Compact Plus.  Since they just came out with a new version, I thought I'd write a post about what I love . . . . and also what I don't love . . . about my meter.

WHY I LOVE MY COMPACT PLUS (new - on the left & old - on the right):
  • The strips.  They come in drums of 17 which you load into the meter, so you don't have to fiddle with individual strips each time you test.
  • The lancet.  It's pretty painless.  And it snaps right onto the side of the meter.  So not only do you not have to fiddle with strips, but you don't have to juggle the lancet device.
  • Uploading your results.  I did have to buy the cord, for $15, to allow me to upload my blood sugars to my computer.  But for me, it was well worth it.  I like the on-line software Accu-Check has for printing results, averages, trends and other reports.

  • The case.  I loved the old case, above on the right.  I wasn't sure what I'd think about the new case, but I love it even more.  The meter slide into a pocket, instead of being held in by an elastic loop.  Under the pocket is a little flap that makes a compartment meant for spare drums of strips.  I use mine to hold an emergency syringe and bottle of insulin.  In the old case, it was out in the open and at times I felt self-conscious having it out there for the world to see.  I appreciate that it's now hidden away.  On top is a pocket for spare lancets.  And the whole thing folds in half and secures with an elastic.  I was skeptical at first, but I love it even more than the old zippered case.
  • The backlight.  That's right, no more struggling to see results in dim lighting.  The new backlight is awesome.
  • "Strip Tally"  If you hold down the off button, it tells you how many strips are left.  There is also a window on the back, like the old version - but over the years the window on my meter got cloudy and I couldn't see the numbers below.  Being able to see  my strip tally on the screen is much better.
  •  I got it for free.  Actually, better than free.  Target was selling it for almost $70, but I knew better than to buy it then.  I waited two weeks, and CVS had them on sale for $10.  Plus, if you bought it, you got $10 in ExtraCare bucks back.  And, there is a rebate in the box for your purchase price back, up to $40.  If you watch for offers, it's pretty easy to get meters for free, because the companies want you to buy their strips.

  • The size.  The old meter wasn't really all that compact, and the new one is even larger.  I understand it needs to be large enough to hold the drum of strips, but it's about three times as tall as a drum.   I'm disappointed that the new version got bigger instead of smaller.
  • It doesn't ping my pump.  I'm always sure to enter each and every blood sugar into my pump.  But it would be nice if Minimed had partnered with Accu-Check so my Compact Plus sent the results to the pump automatically.
  • The strips are not "preferred".  My co-pay for the Accu-Check strips is pretty high.  I have to admit, this ticks me off.  Bad enough I'm stuck doing 8 - 10 fingersticks a day, but the fact that my insurance company tries to dictate what meter I use is pretty infuriating.  But that's another fight for another day.
So there you go.  My thoughts on the Compact Plus. I hope it's helpful - whether you decide these features are what you are looking for in a meter or not.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You've got mail . . . eerrr, dinner . . .

Last night, I did something I've never done before. I sat down to dinner with three other Type 1s. Three complete strangers, who quickly felt like friends. People who I met thanks to the Internet and the Diabetic OC.

You may have read over at Kerri's blog about the Fld County Diabetes Dinner she arranged. The idea appealed to me immediately for two reasons. 1) I live in Fld County and 2) I've never ever shared a dinner with other Type 1s. I was nervous, yes, hoping I wouldn't revert back to Junior High Karen who was painfully shy. As it turns out, there was absolutely no need for nerves or shyness.

I arrived a bit early, and babbled to the hostess that I was meeting a group - but I didn't know how many of us there were or what name the reservation was under. Luckily, a minute later, Kerri showed up to take charge. She also babble to the hostess that she didn't know how many of us there were (and that we didn't have a reservation because we didn't need one on a Monday night). From that moment, I knew things were going to be fine (although I'm sure the restaurant staff wasn't as optimistic!!)

We were seated at a table with a clear view of the door so we could attempt to watch for others meeting us. Soon J joined us, and a few minutes later R arrived. We all chatted so much that the poor waiter had to come back three times before we were ready to order. We compared how long we've had diabetes (I "won" with almost 29 years, but all false pride at that fact was lost when I realized this also meant I was the oldest person at the table). We "pumped" J for her perspective on being diagnosed as an adult, just 6 months ago. We listened to R's insights about going through pregnancy as at Type 1. We were entertained by D-blogging stories that only Kerri could tell. We talked about husbands and boyfriends and parents. We talked about jobs and cats and dogs. We talked about lows and highs. We tested our blood sugar (and no one asked what the results were). We ate our dinner, and we talked and shared and laughed until the waiters started putting up chairs and turning off lights in a desperate attempt to make us go home!

A shared disease is no guarantee that people will be compatible, but these three women are people I would be happy to hang out with even without the diabetes bond. The fact that we could share our diabetes trials and tribulations with people who really get it was the icing on the cake. (And yes, we can have cake, we just need to bolus for it!)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

"Dressy Pumping"

Before I got my pump, one of my biggest concerns was how and where I would wear it.  I wasn't all that thrilled with the thought of having it clipped to my waist.  After all, I've inherited a pear-shaped body-type (gee, thanks mom), and I certainly didn't want anything drawing more attention to my hips!

I also wondered what I would do on fancy occasions.  Where would I put my pump if I was wearing a little dress?   Pea's cousin's recent wedding provided the perfect opportunity to come up with a solution, and I thought I'd share.

Like I said, I'm a pear-shape.  Because of this, I always gravitate toward A-line dresses.  This turns out to be a good thing, because I found the folds of the skirt are perfect for hiding a pump.  The dress I wore to the wedding was a blue lacy number, with a tan lining underneath.  I decided the solution would be to sew a small pocket for my pump right into the inside lining of my dress.  (Click any photo to enlarge it for a closer look.)
First, I measured my pump and cut my fabric.  I wanted it slightly wider than my pump, so I could slide it easily in and out when I needed to.  I also made it quite a bit longer than my pump, so it wouldn't fall out the top of the pocket when I danced.  (I just used some old cotton in my fabric stash, since I knew no one would see it but me.  A pretty fabric would have been nice to use too - like when you wear pretty underwear and feel special all day.  Sorry, a bit of over sharing there!)
Once I had the strip measured out, I turned the raw edges over slightly and hemmed them a bit so they wouldn't fray. Of course, when cutting the strip I made sure to leave a seam allowance for this step.
Once done sewing the strip, I laid my pump on top just to double check it for size.  To be honest, the one in this picture ended up being a bit narrow, so I quickly sewed up wider one. 
Once I had a "pocket" my pump would fit into, I put on my dress and decided where I wanted the pocket to go.  I marked it with a pin, turned the dress inside out, pinned on the pocket and tried the dress on.  This was the hardest part, and I pinned it several times before I got it placed just right - low enough that I could get to it when I needed to, but high enough to disappear into the folds of the skirt.  (But then again, I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive - so just right is a hard place for me to get to!)
Next, I CAREFULLY sewed the pocket to my lining.  This was the scary part.  The lining was a slippery, silky fabric that wasn't easy to work with.  And it would be just like me to accidentally sew through the outer layer of the dress as well.  But luckily, by going slow and being careful, I stitched it in just right!
Done!!  I checked my new creation by standing on my bed in front of the dresser mirror.  Can you see the pump?  I sure can't!

I intended to get a "real" picture of my dress in action at the wedding, but unfortunately things didn't work out so well.  I ended up with a terrible headache, probably a migraine, that had me tossing my appetizers before we even got seated for dinner.  We had to take a taxi back to our hotel, and I was probably asleep before the bride and groom even had their first dance.  Oh well, at least I looked nice at the ceremony.

What is your favorite way to wear your pump on fancy occasions?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Six months ago, I had my annual dilated eye exam.  For the first time ever, the eye doctor found a leaky vessel.  In my left eye.  It was small, and she told me that after almost 29 years with diabetes, this was bound to happen.  She reassured me that there was no reason to be alarmed right now, but that we should keep a close eye on it.  (Hahahahaha, close EYE on it!!  I crack myself up.)

So today, we took another look.  (Tee hee, LOOK.  Okay, enough puns?)

The good news is, the bleeder in my left eye is gone.

The bad news, now there is one in my right eye.

Sigh.  Again, it's very small and not in a "dangerous" part of my eye.  For now, we'll wait another six months and check again. 

But we know what that means.  Six more months for me to worry about the state of my eyes.  Damn this disease is frustrating some times.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My AIC results are in!

Actually, they were in on Friday morning at my endo visit - I just haven't had a chance to post until now.  But first, a bit of background . . .

When I worked at my old job, my A1C was in the low 7's.  After I quit, I got it down to my all-time low of 6.4 -but it was back up three months later and has never been anywhere near that since.  In the past year, I've been stuck between 7.0 and 6.7, unable to do any better.

I've been on the pump for about 4 1/2 months.    My current A1C . . .


I'm stunned!!  I'm thrilled!!  I'm excited!!  I'm overjoyed to know my decision to start pumping was absolutely the right one for me.  And I'm inspired to keep up with the hard work it took me to get here.