My heart hurts each time I hear a story about someone passing away because they had undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed, type 1 diabetes. There are a lot of things being passed around the online diabetes community trying to alert parents to the symptoms of diabetes that they should recognize, this is important to me. It’s also important to recognize these symptoms in adults because diabetes (in general) does not discriminate on age, weight, race, general health, anything.
People have died because someone (themselves, parents or doctors) thought their diabetes was just the flu or something else. My doctor thought I was pregnant. If you see these symptoms in someone yourself or a loved one, go to the doctor:
- Extreme, persistent thirst.
- Frequent urination.
- Extreme hunger.
- Explainable weight loss.
- Fatigue or extreme tiredness.
- Unusual behavior including mood change and irritability.
- Blurred vision.
- Yeast infections.
My mouth was always dry and a craved a cool, clear glass of water. I remember filling a glass, gulping it all down, then refilling it. I thought it was dry mouth from allergies. And because I drank so much, I was going to the bathroom all the time. I was exhausted all the time, but I thought it was from getting up to go to the bathroom from drinking so much and not getting enough sleep.
I remember being out and not being able to read a menu because everything was fuzzy. Then I couldn’t eat my meal despite being extremely hungry because with every bite I thought I was going to vomit. My stomach was upset all the time, then the morning I got out of the shower and immediately threw up, I decided that I must have the flu. I thought I would rest, stay hydrated and push myself through it, but I honestly forgot when the last time I felt well was.
Brad convinced me to go to the doctor.
He saved my life. Read the rest of this entry
“Back before you had to bolus for it,” Brad said when reminiscing about college weekends and late night snack trips to get these amazing pretzel melts.
“It’s pretty amazing to see how much work goes into taking care of yourself with diabetes,” he continued. “So many people abuse the ability to make insulin, or use the crap out of it rather. They take it for granted.”
While that didn’t make my pancreas envy any better, it did make me feel better about who I’ve chosen to spend my life with.
Today is World Diabetes Day.
November 14th celebrates the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, discovered insulin as a life-saving treatment for diabetes in 1922. Today, I celebrate being diagnosed with diabetes after this discovery, because had I lived a century ago, I would not have lived for very long.
I celebrate each of the 20-30 units of smelly, clear liquid that my body receives to stay alive.
There are people with different types of diabetes and people who love someone with diabetes getting involved today (and year round) to raise awareness and fight for a cure.
I am thankful for insulin, but it’s only a treatment. It’s not a cure.
Yesterday, I recorded what I could about how diabetes plays into my day. Yesterday was not like every single day ever, but it also was not unique, I’ve had a lot of days like this.
7:00am – I wake up and test my blood sugar. 179. Too high. I bolus 1.10 units of insulin. My fasting has been great for weeks, I wonder if I might be getting sick or if last nights low is to blame.
7:15am – while showering, Dexcom alerts to a high. Brad tells me it’s reading 182 and clears it for me when I let him know I’ve already taken a correction.
7:30am – I realize I’ve left my test strip in my meter. I check my feet while applying lotion and select blue clothing since it’s Type 1 Day.
7:55am – test again, in down to 158 and bolus 3.2 units for 32 grams of carbs. I have .8 of my correction still active. Grab a Glucerna and leave for work. (27g for a Glucerna and 5g for the cream I’ll put in my coffee at work)
On my drive to work, I sip on my Glucerna and it’s halfway gone when I arrive at work.
8:37am – I’m drinking my coffee and find that my Dexcom reads ???.
11:23am – I’ve been busy at work and ignored Dex and hunger. Now I’m thinking about lunch, which I’ll eat at noon. Dex figured it out again and reads 133. I hope it’s accurate. I have a brief break in my day, so I log online to pay for my insulin that arrived yesterday. Medco’s online portal is not easy to navigate and I have to search to find where to pay them!
I’m also painfully aware today that I’m between health insurance plans. Since Brad started a new job, the great health plan ended yesterday. The less-than great plan starts soon, but we hope to not have to use it until next year.
11:40am – I test my blood sugar. The finger stick really hurts. It comes in at 90. I tag it as “Pre-Meal” and bolus 1.65 units for the 20g of carbs that my little sandwich has. Dex thinks I’m 123, so I calibrate with the 90 and it settles at 110. Close enough. I won’t be eating for 20 minutes still.
Noon – I can finally eat, I put my sandwich in the toaster oven and refill my water bottle. My finger still smarts from the last check and I post my T1 Day blog. Read the rest of this entry
Today is Type 1 Diabetes Day. Today also kicks of Diabetes Awareness month. November 14th is World Diabetes Day.
For me, today is a normal day since Type 1 Diabetes invades every moment of my life. But for those of you without diabetes, please take today to educate yourself about this condition and break down myths about diabetes around you.
I don’t look sick, because I’m not sick. I have an uncle who said it fairly well after I was diagnosed, “You’ve had an organ failure.” I’m living basically without an organ that some people don’t even know they have one or what it does.
If you want to try to image what diabetes management is like in one day, you an attempt with this text message challenge from the JDRF. The messages attempt to simulate blood sugar checks, insulin injections, etc. Inspired by that challenge, I’m recording my day today the best that I can when it comes to what I do to… well live. Or live well in general. But even that won’t give you a sense of the emotional, physical and mental components of diabetes.
In your attempts to be more aware and actually help people with diabetes, take 15 minutes to exercise and do the Big Blue Test. Exercise is good for everyone, for people with diabetes it positively impacts blood sugar levels, and by doing this challenge, the sponsor donates to send diabetes supplies to those who can’t afford them. And diabetes is expensive. You can do the test as many times as you’d like, and since I know that a lot of my readers are going to exercise, or did exercise today, I hope that each of them will do it.
Also, I make a point to wear blue every Friday in November at least. You wore pink all last month, you might not be shaving this month, so do some blue once a week maybe?
With the election in just under a week, there was a bit of a break in presidential politics for us with the hurricane. The reprieve is already over and people are getting all fired up over who to vote for for president.
I can guarantee that there are people going out to vote who will ONLY vote for their presidential candidate and leave the rest of the ballot blank. That’s sad. If you know me in real life, you probably know that I believe informed voting is important.
State and local offices and issues have a more direct, immediate impact on you. Why would you not have your say in how your city, county and state operate?
I would ask that you take a few minutes between now and November 6th, to look up the local issues that will be on your ballots. Check out who is running for judge, what levies are up for vote and what issues you should have a say in. It’s easier that you’d think to find out what’s happening in your district. If you’re reading this blog, you have access to the internet and to the wide world of political resources. As voters in this election, we have the easiest access to information about what we, the people, are sounding off on.
Just because you’re fired up about who to vote for at the top of the ballot, doesn’t mean you should ignore the rest.
Not sure how to get started on research? Go to your favorite search engine and search “(your state/region) voter’s guide” or check out your local newspaper’s website.
Across the internet on this date every year, people talk about where they were in 2001. I was in school 11 years ago. I had no idea that anything had happened until I heard a couple of kids talking about a plane crash on the bus heading home. I didn’t really think much of it.
When I walked into the house though, the TV was on and my family was staring at the crash being played over and over again on the news. Things started to make more sense.
The next day in school we talked about it, they mentioned it on the announcements. Not a lot got done. When the event appeared on breaking news on the TV in the teachers’ lounge the school administration decided quickly to make the day go on as normal and let parents tell their children at home so they told the teachers not to turn on the TVs or mention it to their students. Some teachers followed this and others did not. The teachers for the classes that I had followed that direction.
More than a decade later, I wonder if the school did the right thing. I can understand the actions of teachers who followed orders as well as the actions of those who did not. The school administration chose to keep panic and fear from spreading throughout a large group of pre-teens, but they also had to explain that to us the next day and apparently to some parents who came to pick up their children early. The teachers who turned on the TVs in their rooms and who told their students decided that their students deserved to know what was happening as it happened. What do you think? Did my school administration make the right decision?
I know that for many, it seems like yesterday. For me, 11 years is a long time. A lot has happened in our country during the last 11 years. Some good and some bad. I’m sure for many, not long after September 11, 2001 going to an airport or a government building was a little scary. But today, airports and government buildings feel fairly safe, it’s theaters, schools and the unknown that seem more dangerous.
There’s a generation of children in school who are learning about September 11th as history when their parents remember it as one of the scariest days of their lives.
When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the word diabetes appeared on every piece of medical paperwork… I started wondering about some things and decided to do some research. Then a Twitter friend asked if she could donate blood with diabetes. Even though I don’t meet donor requirements for other reasons (weight limit) I looked it up.
Some things require “reasonably controlled diabetes.” With diabetes you can still:
- Donate blood
- Donate organs
- Donate plasma
- Have healthy babies (see here, and here…there are a lot of diabetic moms out there)
- Climb mountains
- Be a rock star
- Be an athlete
- Be a body builder
- Be an Olympic medalist
- Hold a political office
- Win a Nobel Prize
- Become Miss America
Also, we can eat cheeseburgers if we so desire (I’ve been asked that a lot).
There are a few limitations that we’re stuck with because of diabetes, but this list is much, much shorter than what you can do. Read the rest of this entry
Last week, Brad and I went to the animal shelter to look at kittens. We had decided to make the leap into pet ownership and get two kitties. I texted my mom that day and let her know we were going to the shelter, her response:
Have fun! But don’t take them all home!
After spending time among the cat cages, I realized how easy it would be to do just that. We focused on kittens. While holding a cute four-month-old kitten (who I did take home with me), I felt a tap on my shoulder, accompanied by a gentle poke of a claw. The lovely adult cat in the cage behind me had reached out the touch me. I had to pet her too. And I had to pet the beautiful black cat “guarding” the door. And of course the brown and tan striped guy who wanted to do our adoption papers with us deserved some love as well.
If I spent much time in an animal shelter, I truly would turn into a crazy cat lady and fill our new home with pets. It would be possible because there are so many cats, dogs, rabbits and other animals that need homes.
We adopted two of the sweetest, affectionate and playful kittens that were taken in by a passionate animal foster “mom.” We wanted to adopt from a shelter or rescue group to help alleviate the overpopulation of pets. Holmes and Watson (our kitties) were already neutered and vaccinated when we brought them home.
If you’re considering adding an animal (or two!) to your family, Read the rest of this entry
Stories like these rub me the wrong way:
- “So and so” was a bad diabetic, she had to test her blood sugar a lot.
- “So and so” had diabetes bad, he had to eat candy all the time.
- “So and so’s” diabetes was so severe, she had to take insulin for it.
- “So and so” has had diabetes longer than you, so he must not have to test as often.
- “So and so” didn’t take care of her diabetes, she’d go out drinking with her friends.
Unfortunately, people prefer to jump to conclusions instead of asking questions. Those without medical knowledge or who aren’t living with this condition on a daily basis have no room to judge, tell horror stories or shrink anything as complex as diabetes into a tiny little box that makes them feel like they have the scoop. In the past year, I’ve been given these examples by acquaintances and complete strangers and they represent severe misconceptions about managing this chronic condition.
I’m not saying that all of the so and sos I’ve been told about have stellar diabetes management skills, but cut them some slack, they’re living with a trying medical condition.
Frequent blood sugar testing by someone with diabetes is never, never ever a bad thing! It’s never a sign of poor management. Testing our blood sugar is a positive step in diabetes self-management. Testing tells us where we are at a single moment in time blood sugar wise. Testing often can help us see how we’re moving. Testing is the basic foundation for treating our condition and taking over for an organ no longer on auto pilot. Testing is good, even if the numbers are not “good.”
At this point you might be thinking, “Doesn’t Rachel have that monitor thing that makes it so she doesn’t have to test her blood sugar?”
I use, and appreciate, my Dexcom but it doesn’t eliminate my need to do blood sugar testing. If I were to always trust the Dexcom over the way my body feels, I’d be in trouble. There are no 100% accurate glucose testing systems (not even meters!), the FDA only requires regular meters to be 20% accurate. When an engineer friend heard that, he raised his eyebrows and said, “That’s not a very good confidence interval.” My Dexcom only claims to be accurate within a 30% range. Simplified: If my regular meter tests me at 100, I could be anywhere from 80 to 120 (+ or – 20%, see?) If my Dexcom reads me at 100, I could be anywhere from 70 to 130. It’s a significant range folks, from Rachel should probably eat to Rachel could go for a run right now. Plus my Dexcom has to know how to interpret my body chemistry some way, so I have to give it finger stick numbers at least every 12 hours. What if my finger stick is 20% off and my Dexcom is 30% off of that? But I digress…
Testing = Knowledge. Knowledge is good.
(CWD = Child with diabetes)
I was 22, graduated from college and married when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I say Type 1 a lot, but find that people don’t always understand so I say “juvenile diabetes” occasionally. But that’s not really true in my case. I’m an adult with type 1 diabetes. I’m a “typical type 1” medically, so I went from 60 to 0 in the pancreas department very quickly. During more extensive testing two months after I was diagnosed, we found out I make zero insulin. Which I suppose makes things easier and I don’t have to ever worry about the honeymoon period ending, because diabetes and I skipped our honeymoon.
In some ways, the late autoimmune response that massacred my insulin-producing cells was a blessing. I’ve been reading the diagnosis stories and the ongoing stories of people who grew up with diabetes and I can’t even imagine it.
My parents never had to function as an external organ for me. They didn’t have to agonize over giving me injections or getting our insurance to cover insulin. I didn’t have to deal with other kids thinking I was sick. I didn’t have to be on a first-name basis with the school nurse. I could compete in swimming without testing pool side or worry about keeping snacks in my extemp bin for high school speech. In college, I could eat in the dining hall without a second thought, I never had to take a test while low, or high. I got to celebrate my 21st birthday with a berry mojito and no insulin. I enjoyed our wedding cake with no worries of out of control blood sugar. For more than 2 decades, I was blissfully unaware and unaffected by type 1 diabetes. Read the rest of this entry