Friday, April 30, 2010

Nerves . . .

It happens like clockwork . . . every few months.  The nerves set in.  The butterflies make a nest in my stomach.  Anxiety overload.  What is the trigger?  An upcoming endo appointment.

Next Friday it's time for me to go back to Dr. F.  On Monday I'll go to the lab to get my blood work done.  I'm nervous about that.  It's not the actual needle that I stress over - I'm an old pro at that by now.  It's what my blood will show - more specifically what my A1C and blood glucose numbers will be.  I must confess, if my fasting number is not in range on Monday, chances are I'll delay my blood draw until Tuesday.  I know this is silly.  My pump downloads and A1C will help show if that out-of-range reading was an exception or the norm.  But still, I can't help wanting the fasting number the lab prints on my test results to be "perfect".

The nerves don't stop once the blood work is drawn.  I have a full week of anxiety ahead of me.  It's stupid, really.  Even when I was on MDIs and my A1C was way above a healthy range, Dr. F never once lectured or blamed me.  Instead, we discussed what was going on and he gave me new things to try.  A new type of insulin that might work better for my body.  The splitting of my Lantus dose in the hopes of providing more even coverage.  A gentle suggestion that pumping might help me, but the freedom and time to come around to the idea of pumping on my own.  The statement that no matter what, there will always be some highs and lows and that I shouldn't beat myself up over them.

And since going on the pump, my A1Cs have been consistently under 6.5.  The only problems my other lab work has ever shown have been easily fixable - things like low iron stores or low Vitamin D levels.  Sure, I do breathe a sigh of relief each time he reports that my liver and kidney function results are awesome - who wouldn't?  But for the most part, he reports that everything looks good, he looks at my pump downloads and we discuss anything that might need tweaking, he asks me if I have any questions, and then he tells me how great I'm doing and says he'll see me in 3 - 4 (or sometimes even 5 - 6) months.  I head out the door with a huge smile on my face and the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders.  And I wonder why I spent the past week all stressed out.

Until a week before my next appointment.  When the cycle starts all over again . . .

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sometimes pretty makes a difference . . .

Let's face it.  Those plain black cases that come with our blood glucose meters are fine.  They are functional.  They are also damned boring and blah.  Flash to Amy's 2009 Holiday Survival Story Contest. I was really excited to be chosen as one of the winners of a fabulous diabetes prize pack. One of the items included was a meter case from Stick Me Designs.  And when it arrived, I loved it so much I ordered another one!  Now my "home meter" and my "travel meter", which lives in my pocketbook, can be equally decked out in style.

I love these cases because they are bright and fun.  But to be honest, if it ended there I wouldn't be using them.  When it comes to my meter cases, functionality is most important.  And that's where these cases win, hands down!  As you can see in the picture above, each case has a large zippered pocket on the outside.  But it's the inside of the case that really shines.

On the left there is a huge pocket that closes with Velcro - I use that to hold emergency syringes and alcohol wipes.  The outside of this pocket has another large zippered pocket in which I can stash rolls of Smarties, a spare battery and a nickel for unscrewing my pump's battery cap.  There is also an elastic loop, which I'm currently not using.  You can't see that loop in the picture because it's hidden behind a smaller zippered pocket which is perfect for holding my stash of lancets.  In the middle you can see two more elastic loops, in which I store my insulin and my Bio Flip, which I love because it prevents me for leaving a trail of old test strips behind.

Moving to the right side of the case, you can see a second smallish zippered pocket.  I use that to hold tissues for mopping up blood after finger sticks.   Behind that pocket is a pouch large enough to hold my Accu-Chek Compact Plus (which I call my Accu-Chek Bulky Plus because it really isn't compact at all).  I've stashed a spare drum of strips in the elastic loop above my meter.  And I still have one more elastic loop on the right that I'm not using.  The whole thing closes easily with a zipper that goes around three sides. This case holds all of my stuff with room to spare!

One case that can hold everything I need is awesome.  Even more awesome is the thrill I get when I pull it out to test my blood!  It's fun to have something bright and stylish instead of that plain black case.  And beyond looking pretty, the fabric these cases are made out of is heavy and durable.  Even after 8 - 10 finger sticks a day, my cases are in the same shape as they were when I got them.

If you are looking for a meter case that mixes functionality with fun, I highly recommend checking out Stick Me Designs.  I wouldn't trade mine for the world!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Here WEGO to Boston . . .

Boston Creme Pie for tourists!
Okay, okay, forgive the goofy post title. Hopefully that little picture of my awesome dessert will pull you in - even if Pete did tease me about ordering the most touristy cake going!  The trip to Boston wasn't all about creme pies though, the highlight was the WEGO Health Activist Meetup.

I’ll admit I was nervous before the meetup. I didn’t know anyone else who was attending – which is not an easy thing for me. Upon arrival, I pinned on my name tag and did what any shy girl does when entering a room full of people she’s never met before. I headed to the bar to get a glass of wine. Then I was asked to do a brief on-camera interview. Yikes, the nerves really set in and I’m sure I babbled like an idiot. Hopefully the wonders of editing will hide that to some extent!

Once the torture interview was over, I started to mingle. It didn’t take long for me to feel extremely glad that I decided to attend the meetup. I met some of the WEGO crew, all of whom were so friendly and enthusiastic and put me at ease right away. The other meetup attendees were just as friendly and were so interesting that I quickly forgot to be nervous. Soon the mingling and networking was put on hold so we could all introduce ourselves and describe ourselves with three made-up Twitter hashtags. (I know, fun idea, right? Feel free to leave your three hashtags in the comments - I'd love to hear them!) I have to admit, I felt pretty out of my league standing next to activists who had written books, started foundations and more! My hashtags? #T1Diabetes #knitter (but you saw that coming, right) and #shy (saw that one coming too, huh?) There were a few hashtags I could easily have stolen though – like #chocolate #cats and #salsadancing (or the broader #ballroomdancing).

Next we split up into breakout sessions. I chose “The Road to Activism: How to Turn Your Passion into Activism”, which Laurie did a terrific job running. The first thing we talked about was that ah-ha moment when we realized we were health activists. Everyone got a chuckle when I said my ah-ha moment was when I got invited to that very event – and I still wasn’t even sure if my invite was sent by mistake. But as we talked, I started to realize that each and every one of us in the D-OC is a health activist. We share information through our blogs and tweets. Our thoughts on diabetes products (and what we think would make them better) could possibly be read by the companies making those products. By simply sharing our frustrations and triumphs, we are giving support to others. That’s when I had my real ah-ha moment. I remembered that post I wrote about the scary-bad low. And I thought about the comments and tweets I received from moms of diabetics thanking me for giving them a little more insight into what a low can feel like. And I thought about Colleen, who has been diagnosed with T1 as an adult.  She left a comment telling me she was printing that post out and making her husband read it in case the day comes when she has her first scary-bad low. I thought about how thrilled I am if just one post I write can help someone. And I realized that maybe that’s what being an activist is all about.

Before I knew it, the time had flown by and our breakout sessions joined back together. Each group shared three major points we were taking away with us. But I found I was taking away much more. I was so inspired by the amazing things that the people I met are doing! I feel like I want to, and can, do so much more as well. I may not yet know what it’s going to be or how I’m going to get there – but I’m ready to start finding my way.

In the end, I realized how much I had in common with all of these people I was meeting for the first time. Diabetes may be an “invisible” disease, unless you spy my pump or see me doing a finger stick. But as I looked around the room, I realized that the vast majority of chronic illnesses are invisible. Anyone who walked into our room would not have seen diabetics, cancer survivors, people recovering from eating disorders or battling sickle cell disease, people who have been in and out of hospitals more times than they can count. No, anyone walking into our room would have seen a group of happy people chatting and laughing and bonding. Because that’s exactly what we were.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Pumpiversary to Me!!

Two years ago today, despite being quite nervous about the whole "attached to my body 24/7" thing, I took the plunge and began pumping.  I even documented the whole thing for my knitting blog as part of Type 1 Awareness Day.

Turns out, going on the pump was the best thing I ever did!! I still think that it isn't necessarily the best option for everyone - but it's been great for me.  Before I pumped, my A1C was stuck in the 7's (aside from a random 6.4 right after I quit my job, but three months later I was back at 7.1).  One month after I started pumping, my A1C dropped to 6.7.  And in the two years since then, I've been no higher than 6.3.

Honestly, I was extremely freaked out about where I would wear the pump and scared that I'd hate being attached to it.  But most of the time, I barely even know it's there.  I stash it in a pocket, clip it to my waist-band, or sew up a little pouch to tuck it into.  It's rarely in the way.

So, Happy Pumpiversary?  You bet!! I polled FaceBook and Twitter this morning for the proper ways to celebrate.

As Kelly suggested, I may just have to fire up the dual-wave bolus feature and celebrate with one of each!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Positive vs Negative Reinforcements . . .

Pete and I were at the mall this weekend to buy some proper running shoes.  (I know!  Running?  Me?  What the heck?  I won't say too much, because the minute I do I'll jinx myself and the desire to ever run again will quickly leave me.  Although now that we've sunk money into good shoes for both of us, we have an extra incentive not to flake out.)  *ahem*  Anyway, we were at the mall to buy running shoes when this sign by the food court stopped me in my tracks.

Diabetes? A heart attack could be right around the corner.
(click picture to enlarge)
To be honest, I felt like someone was kicking me when I was down.  My disappointment must have been pretty apparent, because Pete suggested I snap a picture with my iPhone and write a post about it.

I don't know if you can see it in the sign, but the web-site advertised is  If I hadn't taken the picture and decided to write this post, I know seeing this sign would never have prompted me to visit the site.  That's a shame, because it is a pretty slick site.  It has two main focuses - information or "simple answers", and tips or "easy actions".  I found the content a bit basic for me, but I can see it being a great tool for the newly diagnosed or for someone who has ignored their diabetes for years but is ready to start over.  At the end of each "easy action" video is a button marked "I'll Try It".  If you click that you can sign up for email reminders and access to your own Easy Action page where you can track your progress.

All in all, I can see the value of this site.  I also appreciate the education this sign is trying to bring, but I can't help wishing such a positive web-site had reached out with a more positive sign.  I understand that some feel scare tactics and the shock factor are great attention-getters.  They may be, but the idea of a heart-attack jumping out at me from behind the next corner is not going to motivate me to visit an advertised site.  I'd rather see an image of a person putting some of their "easy action" tips to use and taking positive steps to prevent heart disease.  Something like that is more apt to put me in information-seeking mode.

What do you think?  Was I just cranky that day and over-reacting to the sign?  Are negative reinforcements worthwhile for the attention they generate?  Or do we need to start demanding more positive reinforcements?  Are you tired of feeling like diabetes ads love to kick us when we're down?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meme Monday - Movies

Last week Kerri was stuck for a quick post and sent out a plea for a good Meme she could grab.  Christopher responded back with a link to this Movie Meme. I couldn't resist grabbing it myself!

Name a film that you have seen more than 10 times.
I haven't counted, but I've probably seen Sleepless in Seattle at least a dozen times.

Name a film that you’ve seen multiple times in the cinema.
Believe it or not, I've seen my all time favorite movie, Gone With The Wind, on the big screen twice!  They re-released it in the theaters in for its 50th anniversary.  And a local theater in town showed it a few years ago.

Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a film.
Well, I'm suddenly a huge James Bond fan since Daniel Craig got cast!

Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a film.
I'm not keen on any of those action-adventure guys, like Vin Diesel or The Rock.

Name a film that you can and do quote from.
Well, of course, if you've seen a movie more than 10 times you are bound to quote from it - so I've been known to spout lines from Sleepless in Seattle.  (It's gotten so bad that even Pete quotes from it sometimes!)  I also love to quote from my second favorite movie of all time, The Godfather.

Name a film musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.
Ummm, I used to know the all the lyrics to Rent, although I never saw the movie version.  I saw the original production on Broadway.

Name a film that you would recommend everyone see.
Of course I think everyone should see my favorite movies, but would they like them?  I guess The Godfather has a better chance of appealing to both males and females.

Ever walked out of a film?
Not that I recall.

Name a film that made you cry in the cinema.
Oh gosh, I'm a sap so there are a lot.  I know I balled in the theater when I saw Sense and Sensibility with my best friend.  I still cry every time I see it.

Yes, with lots of butter!!  When Pete and I watch movies at home, we usually make Jiffy Pop.

How often do you go to the cinema (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?
We don't go to the movies all that much.  Maybe a couple of times a year.

What’s the last film you saw in the cinema?
We saw Sherlock Holmes with my brother-in-law.  I really enjoyed it and I thought Robert Downey Jr. did a fabulous job as Sherlock Holmes.

What’s your favorite/preferred genre of film?
It depends on my mood.  I love a good comedy.  I like a chick-flick every so often.  A great drama can be so engrossing.  I can't watch slasher films though.  Ugh.

What’s the first film you remember seeing in the cinema?
The first one I remember seeing is Bambi.  I remember the part when his mother got shot.  I think the first movie my mom took me to see was Pinocchio or Cinderella, but I don't really remember either of those.

What film do you wish you had never seen?
When we were dating, I went with Pete to see some computer generated sci-fi movie that I don't even remember the name of.  It was so damn boring, it felt like it was seven hours long!  I could have done without seeing that one - but I'm happy Pete enjoyed it.

What is the scariest film you’ve seen?
I really try to stay away from scary movies.  Pete is a huge fan of Jaws, and he tends to watch it when ever he can find it on T.V.  So I guess I'll go with that one.

If you could be any character portrayed in a movie, who would it be?
Any good character usually has to go through some pretty horrific stuff.  I'd love the wear all of Scarlett O'Hara's big ballgowns, but I'd never want to go through everything she did.  Does my wedding video count, because I was perfectly happy playing "the bride" in that film!

Total number of films you own on DVD and video.
I'd say a few dozen.  I need to weed them out though, because a lot of them are pretty old and we don't really like them any more.

Last film you bought.
We don't buy a lot of movies - we usually just rent them from NetFlix.  I guess my most recent acquisition would be Casino Royale, which the Easter Bunny left in my basket a few years ago.

Last film you watched.
We watched The Sting over the weekend.  Pete asked me if I though Robert Redford was dreamy, and then was surprised when I said YES!!!  Sometimes guys just don't get it.

Five films that mean a lot to you.
This might be the toughest question of the whole meme for me.  There are movies I love and can watch over and over, purely for their entertainment value.  But I feel like for this question, I'm supposed to name deep, life-changing movies.  Instead, I'll just name five movies that I haven't yet mentioned, that I could watch any day, any time.  Most of them probably don't have any deep life-changing messages, but they are FUN!

Bridget Jone's Diary
When Harry Met Sally
Forrest Gump
Say Anything

and, it's stupid and silly, but I just love Airpane!

What are your favorite movies?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

No hard feelings . . .

I’m going to be completely honest here. Jealousy . . . is a bitch. It sneaks up and convinces you that what you have is crap and what others have is much much better. I’m sure we’re all the victims of jealousy from time to time. I envy knitters who are so speedy that beautiful projects seem to fly off their needles in the time it takes me to get an inch or two done on whatever I’m knitting. I’m jealous of petite pretty women with skinny thighs and thick wavy hair that looks great no matter how humid it is out. I see the green-eyed monster often when I’m attempting to count carbs and fat grams and figure out just how to time my bolus, while others simply dive in and eat whatever looks good. Jealousy loves to hit us and hit us hard.

I’m also ready to admit to some Baby Envy that I’ve been feeling. The D-OC has come down with a case of Baby Fever. It’s a happy thing, but sometimes brings up feelings of “why not me”. I’ve always loved babies and kids. I started baby-sitting for a neighbor when I was barely old enough to be left alone myself. (My parents were right next door and looked in often.)  When I cashiered at a grocery store in high school, I had a knack for entertaining cranky toddlers in my line. (I often said I could charm any man, as long as he was less than five years old.) At my former job, a co-worker on maternity leave brought in her preemie when he weighed only five pounds and everyone was afraid to hold him. Everyone except for me, who happily scooped him up and held him until his mom was ready to go home. As he grew over the years and came back in for visits, I was always his favorite. I’m convinced that on some level he remembered that I was the only one who would hold him when he was so tiny and new.

It was always just assumed I’d have a family of my own. But as my friends were finding their Prince Charmings and walking down the aisle, I found myself kissing frog after frog. When I finally met Pete, I was 31 years old. When I put on my white dress and veil and we started our life together, I was already 36. 36 with an A1C I just couldn’t get below 7. In the blink of an eye, I find that next month I’ll be celebrating 42 years on the planet. For me, not having babies doesn’t seem like a conscious choice I made. Rather, it’s just the way my life worked out. So I must admit that I’ve looked on other expectant parents with some envy . . . . and a large dose of jealousy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely thrilled for all of the parents-to-be in the D-OC, but it’s been a little bit hard to cheer from the side-lines sometimes.

And then there’s the Roche thing. As LeeAnn mentioned in a recent post, there was quite a bit of Roche backlash last year after they hosted their first Media Summit. Although I didn’t voice it to many, I will admit to a raging case of Roche-Envy at the time. It was difficult to watch so many people who I consider such close friends pack up for an adventure together and not feel left behind. And honestly, it seemed to me that I was the only one stuck with those “why not me” feelings. But then, things blew up. A few pretty nasty posts began to appear.  Although they weren't on any blogs I read regularly, seeing them out there upset me. It was like someone was attacking my friends. I thought long and hard about the situation. Our community is vast and filled with so many hugely talented members. There is no way any company could ever hold an event or summit that could include everyone at once. The more I thought about who was participating, the easier it was to see “why not me”. The people invited are a wonderful cross-section of our community. Each and every one has earned their place. They did and will represent us well and I can’t wait to hear what they report back to us this year. And I honestly hope they do report back – without fear of any backlash this time. I hope we’ve all banished the Roche-Envy this year.

The thing about jealous is this - nothing good comes from it. The grass is always greener on the other side, and all that. I’ve decided it’s okay – and probably even natural – to have a little bit of envy over all new babies popping up around the D-OC. But that won’t stop me from ooohing and aaahing over their perfect little faces and being sincerely excited for each new parent. On the other hand, I’ve realized that being jealous of events some are attending is just plain silly. When I look around, I can find plenty of wonderful things in my life that maybe someone else might feel jealous of. But I hope they won’t. Jealousy is called The Green Eyed Monster for a reason – it’s destructive and ugly. Instead, I choose to look at what others have and celebrate with them. With no hard feelings at all.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Out into the World . . . .

I love my computer.  I spend way too much a lot of time on blogs and Twitter and Facebook.  I'm always more comfortable behind the keyboard than face to face.  That's not to say I haven't been to a few meet-ups and Diabetes Dinners and other great events.  But mostly it's just shy little me and my laptop.

This picture scares me in a "Terminator" kind of way.

Next week, I'm going out into the real world for a couple events that I'm pretty excited about.  The first is the Boston Health Activist Meetup hosted by Wego Health.  When I first received the email about it, I was pretty interested but I wasn't sure I could go.  I'm actually a few hours away from Boston and I figured a Thursday evening trip might not really work out.  I mentioned it to Pete in passing, and he really encouraged me to go.  So today I changed my "maybe" RSVP status to "Attending" and I can't wait to see who I'll meet and what's in store for us!

Two days later is the ADA Expo in Hartford.  I've never been to one of these before, so I'm not quite sure what it will be like.  But cooking demos?  Product exhibitors?  Leading experts?  All cool!!

So here I go.  Out from behind the computer screen and off to do some D-Stuff in real life.  I'm looking forward to it.  Anyone else in the Boston / Connecticut area attending either of these events?  I'll keep an eye out for you!