Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - The Aftermath

Here is my poor nearly depleted bag of Jelly Bellys after that low on Saturday.  I’m glad the little gummy star survived the carb-rampage.  For a bit of perspective, the bag looked like this when I bought it.

Granted I had eaten some during the week, but I definitely consumed the largest chunk of them on Saturday.  Which is fine, because after Saturday I no longer find them appealing at all . . .

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reality Check

Just as my blog title states, I honestly believe that life with diabetes isn’t all bad.  But the reality is that sometimes it is.  Sometimes it’s very bad.  And I think sometimes we need to stop and talk about that reality, to acknowledge the crappy parts of living with diabetes and to tell it like it is.  Sometimes I need to force myself to take an honest look at the real stuff I just don't want to deal with.

scaredThat real stuff hit me hard on Saturday evening with a bad low blood sugar, and it was scary.  I don’t want to tell the story, I’d rather just forget it happened.   But I need to tell it.  I need to because it will hopefully raise a little more awareness of real life with diabetes.  I need to because it will hopefully help me deal with it and take some of the fear away.  So here goes.  Late Saturday afternoon, Pete got me some takeout for dinner and then headed off to Guy’s Night Out.  I picked out a stack of chick flicks to watch and settled in for a quiet evening.  I made an educated estimate of my dinner carbs, bolused, and ate.

About 2/3s of the way into my first movie, my CGM low alarm sounded and I also felt low.  I grabbed the bag of kiwi and coconut Jelly Bellys we had purchased last weekend and began munching them in my OCD way.  (This means 3 kiwi and 3 coconut jellybeans in each bite.)  I munched away but suddenly I was having a really hard time matching up the jellybeans.  I had to really concentrate to count them out and I felt like I was enveloped in a dark fog.  The movie was getting really confusing too, even though it wasn’t a confusing movie (Bridget Jones’s Diary) and I’d seen it at least a dozen times before.  But I just couldn’t follow it, and I had a strange blurry feeling that maybe I was actually in the movie.  It was extremely confusing.  Next I could feel big drops of sweat running down my back and sides, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it.  And then?  Honestly, I don’t know what happened then.  It kind of goes blank at that point.  Did I let myself go to sleep?  Did I pass out briefly?  Did I just sit there in a stupid haze?  I don’t know . . . . and the fact that I don’t know scares me to my core.

The next thing I remember is that the movie was over and the DVD was playing the annoying menu screen.  I felt clear headed and knew I had just had a really scary low.  In a panic I grabbed a package of Oreos and ate about eight of them, until the thought of any more food made my stomach roll.  I wanted to call Pete but I knew he’d come straight home, and I didn’t want to ruin his night out.  I knew I was now completely back to normal and safe to spend the rest of the evening by myself but I felt so darn alone.  I wanted to call my parents, but there was no way I would ever worry them with details of my bad low.  I wanted to call some friends, but didn’t want to bother anyone on a Saturday night with their friends or families.  So I had a good long cry to release some of the emotions I was feeling, showered off the low-sweat, and spent the rest of the evening fighting down a huge post-low rebound blood sugar and feeling completely crappy.

In my 32+ years of diabetes, this was among a very small handful of really scary and serious lows I’ve had.  But this is real life with diabetes.  I did everything to the best of my ability and still got blindsided.  Maybe I overestimated my dinner carbs, but that’s the problem with foods without accurate nutrition information available.  I’ve eaten that dinner before and I used a bolus combo that has worked beautifully in the past.  There was no real reason for it not to work this time.  I know it’s going to take me a while to get over the low-fears I’ve been feeling for the past few days.  I’m a bit panicked about my trip to a conference for a few days next week, where I’ll be on my own for two nights.  And I hate that after all this time, diabetes can still be so freaking scary.  Not often, but still . . . . .

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

(Not so much) Wordless Wednesday - Look Familiar?

(Click any picture to "biggie")

Let’s compare this . . .
to this . . .
and let’s take a closer look at that bottom corner.
Ah, let’s take a peek at the inside cover!
Last fall Spry Publishing contacted me about recreating my Diabetes Voodoo Doll for the cover of “Kids First, Diabetes Second”.  Being commissioned to create cover art for a book is definitely something I never would have imagined I’d do.  And although diabetes can be such a drag sometimes, this is something cool that never would have come along if I didn’t have diabetes.  Thank you to Jeremy and Lynne at Spry for the wonderful opportunity and for the big reminder of my blog tagline, “life with diabetes isn’t all bad”.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Expo Hall Highlights

I have to admit, I really love the CWD Friends for Life Expo Hall.  Not really for the S.W.A.G., but for the chance to check out new products and get demonstrations of all their nifty features.  Although in all honesty, I was quite thrilled at the OneTouch booth when the rep gave me a Verio IQ after showing me its cool features.  Other highlights were watching the excitement at the You Can Do This booth, seeing and touching the Tandem t:slim, the opportunity to vote on some new glucose tablet flavors (while begging them to bring my favorite Green Apple back!!), and learning about the new Bayer meter coming soon that’s similar to the Contour USB but with greater accuracy and the ability to wirelessly send the results to my Medtronic pump.

But perhaps the highlight of the Expo Hall this year was getting to see my GlucoLift friends.  I first met the founder, Christopher Angell, and his father at TCOYD in February, but soon learned I already new Chris from the DOC and his blog.  (He stopped posting there after creating GlucoLift so as not to create a conflict of interest).  I always have a fantastic time chatting with Chris and his dad Phillip about GlucoLift, diabetes social media (yup, they Tweet and FaceBook), and everything else under the sun.  I was happy to meet Christopher's lovely wife this time and she was ever so gracious after Pete fumbled his cup of water and practically splashed it all over her.  (My man is smooooth around pretty women.)


Even if I didn’t love the people behind the product, I’d seriously love GlucoLift.  Because these all-natural, non-GMO tablets are healthier than your average glucose tablet, and they taste so much better.  I can attest to this because Chris is always kind enough to gift some to me when I see him.  I’ve finished the whole bottle of Cherry flavor, and I usually hate anything cherry flavored but these were really good!

I told Chris I wanted to post about GlucoLift and asked if there was anything he’d like me to share.  Here’s what he had to say:
“Knowing I was never going to be the person to cure diabetes, I'm happy if I can make one of the more unpleasant necessities of managing it a little better for people. For me, the main point is that I always felt the fact that the 'other guys' ' tablets were made with unnecessary artificial junk, left a chalky finish, and were flavored as though people were going to eat one (and not 3, 4 or 5) meant that they weren't designed or evaluated by the people who actually have to use them. That just made me upset and frustrated. There are a lot of frustrating things about having diabetes, but some of them you excuse because it's the best we can do right now. Icky glucose tablets do not fall into that category!”

I hope you know me well enough to know that I’m not posting about these because Chris gifted some to me.  I’m posting about them because I really love the idea behind a healthier glucose tablet.  And because these things taste good!  After Pete tried one in the Expo Hall, he told me“Wow, those didn’t taste like the icky tablets you’ve let me try before.  Those taste more like candy”.  Which means I’m probably going to need to start hiding my glucose tablets.  And also ordering more from the online store or through Amazon.  (Just a tip: if you are ordering your own, I’d consider picking a combo that comes with a travel tube. These tablets are slightly bigger than the “other guys’” glucose tabs, and they don’t fit in the tubes I try to recycle from my other tabs.)

Have you tried GlucoLift?  I’d love to hear what you think.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thar She Blows . . .

Usually putting in my CGM sensor isn’t that big of a deal.  Okay, I’ll admit it did take me about a year before I didn’t need to stop and psyche myself up before insertion because the needles is like a freaking whale harpoon and apparently even after 30+ years of diabetes jabs I’m still a baby.  But by now, I’m over the harpoon fear and I don’t think anything of launching said harpoon directly into my . . . .  blubber seems to be the correct word to carry out my whale harpoon metaphor.  *sigh*

whaleLast week I inserted a new CGM sensor right before leaving for Friends for Life.  It was no big deal, until I pulled out the needle.  Holy Thar She Blows . . . . blood squirted out like water from a blowhole!!  I debated pulling the sensor, but the bleeding stopped so I attached the transmitter, taped the whole thing down with Tegaderm as usual, and that was that.

But that wasn’t actually that.  Because somewhere along the way the bleeding started again.  I got out of the shower one morning and saw a lot of blood beneath the Tegaderm.  I debated pulling the sensor completely, but I didn’t pack a spare with me and Pete was nervous about me going sans CGM for the rest of our trip.  I was a bit nervous too, considering I’d been having some pretty low lows without symptoms.  Besides, the ugly bloody mess gave me the perfect excuse to opt out of a trip to the pool with Pete in the muggy unbearable Orlando heat . . . . . I was quite happy to nap in the air-conditioned room so my gruesome CGM didn’t scare any innocent children.

When we got home, the first thing I did was remove the icky sensor.  No, wait, the first thing I did was snuggle my little cat for about an eon . . . . . but next was the yanking of the sensor.  I was not prepared for a repeat Thar She Blows, but that’s what I got.  I have never had a gusher like this one.  I can usually tolerate the sight of my own blood, but this time I got a little dizzy as I watched the puddle form on the floor despite clapping my hand firmly over the spot where the sensor had been.  Pete had to come help me because it was quite a while before I could take pressure off . . . . eerrrr . . .  my blowhole(??).  And I’m still sporting the ugly bruise on my leg.

Things I’ve learned from this experience?  If a sensor gushes like a whale’s spout upon insertion, it’s probably best to take it out and try again.  And when you blog about it, you  might not want to pick an analogy that casts you in the part of the whale . . . . .

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Post I Don’t Know How to Write . . . .

I’m exhausted.  I have a sore throat.  My blood sugars have been skyrocketing and crashing and no matter what I do I can’t get my CGM to show me a flat(ish) line.  But I can do nothing but smile, because I spent the last five days at Friends for Life.  With people who really are my friends for life.

The plan for today was to write a post that makes you feel like you were there.  That conveys how odd it feels to look down at a simple green bracelet on your wrist and feel pride and belonging.  (That green bracelet is given to all attendees that have Type 1 Diabetes.  Our family and loved ones wear orange bracelets.)  I need to write a post that gives you a taste of the comfort of discussing diabetes burnout with a room full of people who get it and two wonderful session leaders trained to help you cope with it.  I have a million stories, a million thoughts, a million experiences and I shed a million tears, both happy and sad.  I don’t know how to write about all of this in a way that will do it justice.  It is just beyond my scope.

So instead, I will tell you my first story from this year’s Friends for Life, and hope I can do the conference a small sliver of justice. 

Shortly after checking in, Pete and I were off to find registration and our friends who had already arrived.  As we stood waiting for the elevator a family joined us.  The mom and younger sister had on orange bracelets, and the older sister had on a green bracelet.  So I asked them where we needed to go to pick up our bracelets and registration packet.  I was starting to feel a bit of that fuzzy headedness as the mom explained that we needed to go to the first floor and then walk to the end of the long, long hallway.  I immediately muttered something like “better test” as I pulled out my meter.  And then, somewhat to my surprise, the bonding began.

The sister with the green bracelet excitedly exclaimed “You have diabetes too?  That is SO COOL!!!!”   Although I can’t be sure, her reaction and the tone of her voice makes me think I was the first fellow diabetic she had ever met.  I couldn’t help but smile, even as a 41 flashed across my meter.  In the jumble of the next few excited (but low-brained for me) minutes, we shared our stories.  Mom told me her daughter was diagnosed less than a year ago, and I told them I was diagnosed over 32 years ago.  Mom and I quietly murmured about expectancies for PWDs back then, and she asked pointedly “How are you?”  I was so proud to be able to tell her that I am healthy and complication free, and to see both relief for her daughter and gladness for me flash across her face.  As we got on the elevator I turned to Pete to tell him my blood sugar was 41, and the family all said “What??? 41????”  My friend with the green bracelet said “How are you smiling right now?” and tried to insist I take the small chocolate milk she was holding.  I can’t tell you how honored I was that she would give me her chocolate milk, and I thanked her but told her I’d be fine as I had plenty of Starbursts (which I was shoving into my mouth at that moment).

The elevator arrived at our floor and we all began walking down the long, long hall.  My new green bracelet friend asked if I wanted to sit down, and when I said I was okay to walk she put her arm around me and walked beside me.  (I swear, I was so touched I almost cried.)  Her sister seemed to delight in telling me how crabby my new friend gets when she is low - something I completely understand.  We all laughed about being crabby because of a low and being crabby just because we all sometimes get crabby!  We came upon a “Hydration / Low Station” and my green bracelet friend suggested I have some water.  She poured a cup and I poured a cup, and then was surprised as she handed  her cup to me and explained that she had poured it for me and she wanted me to drink it.  Then she reached into the bowl of glucose tab packets and said “Here, take these too”.  I told her the sign said to please only take them if I needed them, and I had already treated my low with Starbursts, and she wisely responded “Your blood sugar was 41, that means you need them so please take them”.  So I thanked her again and did.

By then it was time for Pete and I to head to registration and for them to head to the pool.  The mom and Pete snapped pictures, complete with my two cups of water and emergency packet of orange Dex4s.  I have never in my life felt such kindness and compassion from a complete stranger, let alone one that looked to be less than 10 years old.  The minute I heard the excitement in her voice upon realizing I had diabetes too, I knew without a doubt in my mind she was going to have an amazing experience at Friends for Life.  And I know she is going to have an amazing life.  I wish I had run into them again before the conference ended, but unfortunately our paths didn’t cross after that first night.  But I will always be thankful for the chance to meet this family.  And I will always remember how one small girl with a green bracelet drove the entire point of Friends for Life 2012 home to me during my very first moments there.