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Friday Five: Hello August!

Happy August friends!

August kind of feels like a big month for me this year. I can’t seem to keep everything organized into neat posts today so you get bullets:

  • Love and Marriage. My Matron of Honor duties are beginning to wrap up (still weird being a “matron”). I’m finalizing little things and preparing for a last hurrah for my friend as a “miss.” Of course my friend is getting married this month! I’ve been looking forward to this wedding for probably about 2 years. I’m also ashamed to admit that I’m looking forward to the last wedding on the books for  this year to wrap up so that I have a bit of a break before the 2014 weddings start coming (The calendar already has 3 on it!)
  • Home. Next week is one year since actually moving into our house. It feels like yesterday, but it also feels like forever ago.
  • Blue. So far I like my G4 Dexcom.. I’m liking the blue but keeping an eye on Pump Peelz for a decal patter/color combo that I like. I feel like there used to be one I liked but now that I actually have the Dexcom nothing speaks to me so far.

  • Low. Speaking of my Dexcom and that lovely 55 (don’t worry I’m eating as I type!) My newest low symptom is blurred vision… which is also a high symptom. Also… not being able to keep my fingers on the right keys.
  • Sewing. My new dress form… yet to be named. Might be christened with a refashion for a work social event this weekend. That is contingent on finding time to sew this weekend.

What’s August hold for you?

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It’s been awhile

It’s been awhile…

  1. since I stuck a piece of wire into my body with a large needle… and it hurt.
  2. since a device buzzing on my night stand woke me up.
  3. since I’ve needed to carry a receiver around with me.
  4. since I’ve had access to my blood sugar trends.
  5. since my old Dexcom stopped working… I can’t find where I put it.
  6. since I pressed the button on my G4 to turn on my screen. It takes a couple seconds huh?

If you can’t tell, I’m officially back to continuous glucose monitoring. I received a box full of Dexcom goodies yesterday and got everything up and running after work yesterday. I haven’t been back to it long enough to give an official report on my thoughts, but for now, I’m just happy to see my trends… and in color! (What a bonus!).

I’d like to think that blogging about not having a Dexcom helped… but at the end of the day, the cold, hard numbers and a fantastic letter from my endocrinologist probably pushed it over.

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When I’m old

A high-tech life

Numbers lie

When I’m Old

At Christmastime we were visiting with my grandmother, who has Type 2, at her nursing home when it was almost time for dinner. One of the nurses came in to test her blood sugar and give her insulin for dinner. She asked my grandmother if she wanted us to leave. “Oh, it doesn’t bother me,” she responded. Grandma is a very laid-back lady. The nurse tested her blood sugar and recorded it, then asked if we would like to step out while she gave my grandmother a shot.

I kind of chuckled and said, “I have type 1 diabetes, if it doesn’t bother grandma, it doesn’t bother me.”

Let me tell you, the needle that she gave my grandmother her insulin with was huge

We wrapped up our visit to let grandma get to her dinner, but on the way home I told Brad, “If anyone ever came at me with a needle that big for insulin, I would probably hurt them.” Honestly the needle looked as large as the syringes I use to fill my pods.

Watson likes to rest on my pods (that’s my leg if you were wondering)

That got me thinking… what’s my life with diabetes going to look like when I’m old? Read the rest of this entry

A High-Tech Life

I haven’t participated in the DSMA Blog Carnival in awhile… But this topic resonates with me. Diabetes Gadgets.

Here’s the prompt:

How do you select the diabetes devices you use?  To others looking into new or replacement devices, what would be your best advice to someone shopping around?

Brad and I talk about the gadgets and gear that keep me chugging along a lot. There are things that we wish would be different about them and things that we love… as much as you can love medical devices.

The Pump (The Pod)

Image Courtesy of Insulet

I’ve said in the past that I love my OmniPod… I don’t really though. I like the control and management I get by being on an insulin pump, but I shocked Brad’s socks off the other night when I said I would switch to a tubed pump if I don’t get the new OmniPod system soon and if I keep having pod failures (My recent failure rate is: 1 in 4 pods during filling or priming) . I followed that up by saying I wished there were more tubeless pumps on the market… I wish I had options. Right now, for someone like me who wants an insulin pump that they can wear, hide and not have tubing to deal with there aren’t options. There’s the OmniPod and… the OmniPod!

Overall it’s a good system even if the PDM looks like a kid’s toy of an old BlackBerry. I did a lot of research but really “found my moving buddy” when we learned about OmniPod. I didn’t want to deal with needles more than necessary, I didn’t want to get tangled in tube and I didn’t want to have to clip something to my clothes all the time.

Omni-Arm, out of the way during a service project

I found out that OmniPod “wastes” less insulin since there isn’t any caught up in the tube, so I’m saving liquid gold too… Although with my recent string of pod failures and only being able to get at most half of the insulin back from the podds I’m not sure about how much overall I’m saving.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my pod in their research… many go with OmniPod. So many that I wish I could get a commission from Insulet! (Or at least the new system. *wink*wink*)

The CGM

Read the rest of this entry

Friday Five: This Week

1. The short work week has been weird with so many people extended it one way or another for vacations.

2. On Tuesday we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. The past two years have flown by.

3. Apparently wearing my pump on my arm is strange. I had my annual exam this week and when I took off my sweater for the nurse to check my blood pressure, she asks, “What’s on your arm?” Of course I answered that it was my insulin pump and she commented that she’d never seen anyone wear their pumps somewhere other than their stomachs. When my doctor came in she goes, “Hey, you’ve got your pump on your arm!”

4. I missed out on my morning coffee yesterday… There are no other words.

5. I’ve been flying blind for the past week without my Dexcom. Here’s the story: Read the rest of this entry

Numbers Lie

We don’t always realize it, but each one of us had come a long way since diabetes first came into our life. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 5 weeks, 5 years or 50 years, you’ve done something outstanding diabetes-wise. So today let’s share the greatest accomplishment you’ve made in terms of dealing with your diabetes. No accomplishment is too big or too small – think about self-acceptance, something you’ve mastered (pump / exercise / diet / etc.), making a tough care decision (finding a new endo or support group / choosing to use or not use a technology / etc.). (Thanks to Hilary of Rainie and Me for this topic suggestion.)

One thing I can say 100% for sure is that diabetes has made me better at math. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, graphs, patterns, fractions, confidence intervals… those things that I hated in school came back to rule my life.

You’ve heard the saying “numbers don’t lie” before, I’m sure of it. One of my most recent victories has been understanding that number can, in fact, lie. Most medical professionals want to know one number for people with diabetes: the A1c. Here’s my A1c history since my diagnosis less than two years ago:

  • August 2011: 11.3 at diagnosis
  • September 2011: 8.3 (big drop!)
  • February 2012: 5.9
  • August 2012: 6.1
  • March 2013: 6.2

I parroted these numbers to medical professionals when asked and was judged on them. In fact when the 8.3 was reported, I got scolded by a PCP (who I won’t be seeing again) for such a “high” A1c. She saw that 8.3 in a vacuum. She didn’t see the diagnosis date one month prior and she didn’t see the massive 3-point drop. Likewise, I was praise by other members of my medical team for the 5.9… but what they didn’t know about those two numbers were that they were lies. LIES!!

The 5.9 reflected a lot of changes in my basal rates, my carbohydrate ratios and diet. It reflected a lot of low blood sugars. It didn’t reflect excellent numbers all the time. It wasn’t a real representation of my diabetes management. What the last two number reflect are a better grasp on my numbers, new insulin and the introduction of a CGM. They’re stable. Admittedly, they’re pretty good. Even if it’s not my personal goal.

Numbers other than A1c values can lie also. For example, this morning I had a reading of 77 but I felt like I was 27. Since meters are only required to be accurate within 20%, I could have actually been in the low 60s.  Prices for our supplies can even lie, if you look at an insurance EOB you can see that.

Honestly, accepting the fact that numbers can lie is only a tiny accomplishment in my life with diabetes, but I was thinking about it today. Bigger D-accomplishments include:

  • Advocating for my own health when I need to
  • Educating others when I have the opportunity
  • Getting every high blood sugar back into range and appropriately correcting the lows
  • Giving myself that first shot
  • Pushing the paperwork through to get on my OmniPod and Dexcom
  • Having a normal life with a chronic health condition
  • Making it on time to doctors appointments without the aid of a personal assistant

To read other accomplishment posts, go here.

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Petitions: We Shouldn’t Need Them

Today’s D-Blog Week topic is about petitions. Here’s the prompt:

Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so today let’s pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to – a person, an organization, even an object (animate or inanimate) – get creative!! What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change? (Thanks to Briley of inDpendence for this topic suggestion.)

This prompt inspired thoughts not related to writing a petition but about the fact that we shouldn’t need them. Not that long ago, a petition to standardize TSA screenings for people with self-monitoring medical equipment failed to reach the required number of signatures to move forward. This disappointed me. I wrote about my experiences flying out of Cleveland with TSA and the multiple refusals to be scanned, and the not terrible pat down. My security experience flying out of Seattle was in some ways worse and some ways better. Had the petition been successful in its goals, the overall flying experiences of people with diabetes would be better, but we shouldn’t have needed a petition in the first place.

The travel story:

Are you ready to be scared? I again turned down the body scanner at the airport and respectfully requested a pat down. I again received the “it’s totally safe lecture” this time a little more sternly. I was then sent through the metal detector, didn’t set it off and TSA agent number two was about to just let me go about my business when Agent #1 yelled, “she’s wearing an insulin pump!” Read the rest of this entry

Leavin’ On a Jetplane

Security

I know that yesterday I was nervous about security with my insulin pump. Of course when we arrived at the airport, they were sending everyone through the body scanners, so I politely requested the pat down from the TSA agent. She made three attempts to convince me to go through, “it’s radio waves. No more than using a cell phone or microwave,” she told me.

I explained that since it’s my health, I would like to be on the safe side and be patted down. After two refusals, she walked me over for a pat down. Overall it went very smoothly. She was fairly pleasant. I was offered a private screening and she explained to me everything she was about to do. Was is comfortable? No. Was it the worst thing ever? No.

While I was being close and personal with the TSA, she chatted with me about the weather and insulin pump. A family member of hers has had “childhood” diabetes for 33 years and uses “the newest insulin pump.” She totally understood the tubeless OmniPod and asked if I wore any other devices, so I showed her the Dexcom on my arm. She glanced at it and moved on.

So the verdict is that I survived. I basically got felt up and had someone’s hands in my pants (waistband). It’s over and I don’t have to go through it again for a week!

The Rules Read the rest of this entry

Pre-Flight System Check

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on an airplane. The last time was our honeymoon in June of 2011. That means… I have never flown since being diagnosed with diabetes… and I’ve never flown with a medical device.

I’m flying across the country tomorrow. Of course I got my ticket early enough to build up a massive case of nerves.

I’m excited to go back here.

The first thing I did though was email Lisa, who uses the same d-gear I do and has flown out of Cleveland before. Lisa was incredibly reassuring and answered my questions the best that she could and I felt better for awhile.

I stopped feeling better when Brad and I were planning out when we’d be going to the airport… then I started looking things up about policies for insulin pumps/CGMs when it comes to TSA. Long story short, there really aren’t any and it just becomes to luck of the draw for which agents I encounter. Beyond that research and reading travel recommendations (nothing that my doctor didn’t mention when we talked) I did probably the worst thing I could have done… I started reading flight stories. The stories that go online are usually the horror stories. Read the rest of this entry

Health Monitoring Devices

I clicked over to this article from Twitter the other day in part because I already wear a medical monitoring device. It’s an interesting read, but to summarize it talks about how someday technology may make it possible for insurance companies to do the same thing with our bodies that they can let us do with our cars, have a device that monitors activities and gives rate incentives on choosing low-risk/healthy behaviors.

At this moment, I have a platinum and silver wire in my right thigh. The sensor wire makes contact with a transmitter that sends blood sugar information to a receiver where I track my trends, patterns and movements, helping me make better choices about my health. As I was reading the article I thought about how I’ve been turned down for additional life insurance coverage because of my “history of diabetes and long-term insulin use.”

It astounded me to be turned down for additional coverage because I have a bum pancreas that forces me to make healthy choices, the questionnaire didn’t bother asking about my current health status (things like blood pressure, cholesterol, kidney function or even A1c). I get denied but people who have a history of alcohol abuse or who smoke can get additional coverage.

I often feel like the world is unfair (which is true). I can’t “catch a break” ever because I don’t have a functioning pancreas. I get penalized with prescription costs, testing expenses, the ignorance of others, plates that look like math and higher insurance costs coupled with being denied coverage because I’m obligated to check the diabetes box. (The box literally just says diabetes, doesn’t ask for type or any other information.)

One stinking word doesn’t define my existence or even my health. Sure an implanted health monitoring device is pretty big brother-ish, but I thought about how something like that would capture healthy eating habits and exercise and give a better picture of me as a healthy person than a check box on a piece of paper the causes red flags to go up.

What do you think? Would you volunteer to wear a monitoring device?

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