Blog Archives

Blood Draws for Total Babies (like me!)

I’m a total baby when it comes to having blood drawn. It goes back to long before diabetes, but my panic over having lab work was exacerbated when I was dehydrated and having hourly draws nearly two years ago.

On Friday, I needed to go in to get regular testing done, including losing giving 3 vials of blood and peeing in a cup (having diabetes is all fun and games, didn’t you know?). Because of Good Friday, I ended up with the afternoon off so I headed out to the lab. When I got there, I thought I’d have to wait for a long time because there were several people in the waiting area. I didn’t even wait 5 minutes, come to find out all of the waiting room people were waiting on people who were already being seen. I was the only one there on my own which was strange.

Anyway, Friday’s draw was by far the best experience I’ve had since I put into practice the things I’d learned from past bad experiences… and I thought I’d share my tips for anyone who might be a bit of a wimp when it comes to blood work… like me.

  1. If you are not required to fast for your blood work, don’t. Being low on energy then having blood drawn is a recipe for bad news. If your blood work is fasting, eat a snack before bedtime and go early in the morning. Take a snack along for directly after.
  2. Be well-hydrated. The more water I’ve had before a draw, the easier it’s gone. Dehydrated Rachel veins like to collapse and I end up getting poked more times than necessary. I gulped down 3 big glasses of water right before leaving on Friday and only had to be poked once. As a bonus, if you have to have a urine test as well, you’ll be prepared.
  3. Don’t think about it. When you know you have to go, think about something else beforehand. I have a horrible habit of psyching myself out beforehand. Listening to music on the way in and reading my Twitter feed in the waiting room helped a lot. 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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Friday Five: Meter Reader

A collection of random thoughts on glucose meters. Enjoy.

1. I’ve called myself a meter hoarder, but I know there are others with a larger collection than me. I have five meters.

2. I get really annoyed when people call blood glucose meters “diabetic meters.” It doesn’t have diabetes, monitor diabetes or require you to have diabetes in order to use it. I’ve stabbed poked and tested many a non-diabetic with them (at their request of course, I don’t go around randomly checking BGs.

3. I do get confused when people call them “glucometers.” It looks right spelled out, but sounds foreign to me when spoken. When I got my wisdom teeth extracted, the nurse asked if I’d brought my “glucometer” with me or if we should test on the office’s. It took me a solid 10 seconds to realize what she was talking about.

4. I love it when people ask me about meters. My brother called to wish me a happy birthday last week and in the middle of our conversation asked, “What’s a USB meter? What does the USB do?”

5. Why is it that high readings take longer to come up? My meter is super speedy when I’m low or in a good range, but it takes forever to process when I’m 170+. Or maybe it’s just me?

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Holidays, food and diabetes

The Plight of a Young, Healthy Diabetic

I sat behind the closed door of my office during a rarely taken lunch break. I had turned my phone on speaker in order to type while on hold, cringing at the choice of hold “entertainment.” Through the hold programming, I learned about absorbent dressing, mini-catheters and other medical equipment that makes you squirm to think about it. I was calling to find out when my pending order for my CGM sensors would ship out, but I got an education on wound care and ostomy products while I waited and hoped that phone volume wasn’t too loud that my coworkers were being educated as well. Sound carries strangely in our office.

Sometimes the things that I need to do in order to manage my health are uncomfortable. Even more uncomfortable than giving myself shots.

Sometimes the things that I need to buy in order to manage my health, make me look young for my condition. Like nutrition shakes that feature elderly people on their ads.

Sometimes the things that I need to carry with me in order to manage my health make me look like a drug addict… who doesn’t carry needles in their purse?

Sometimes the facilities that help me manage my health further the stereotype. My diabetes center shares a building and a lab with a geriatric medical office.

Not matter how awkward it is, I need to plug through it. Discomfort, appearances and stereotypes shouldn’t deter me from doing what I need to do.

Neither should insurance paperwork or long periods of time on hold… but sometimes they do.

I have to say that I envy people who don’t give their health benefits a second thought. Who don’t research all 12 of their doctors, but just stick with the one or two that they’ve always used. I envy the people who can say they “feel like a pincushion” after donating blood or getting a shot. I really envy the people who can eat without math or not pass out at a blood draw.

Despite all of the draw backs, I’m thankful for my life, and health, with diabetes. If I didn’t live with type 1 diabetes, I would have died from it… so being on this side of the dirt is not something to take lightly.

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Diabetes Sleep Interruptions

Dexcom vibrated on the nightstand and I ignored it. I heard it, but I ignored it. It vibrated again, but this time was accompanied by the ear-splitting “beep” alarm. Instinctively I threw out my arm and dragged the glowing receiver in front of my face. It said I was high, reading me at 184 and the time registered as 4:15 am. I rolled over onto my back, holding the receiver on my chest and allowed my eyes to droop closed again and the screen’s glow lit up the entire bedroom.

“Are you going to handle that,” mumbled Brad, causing me to open my eyes again. I didn’t want to get it, I just wanted to go back to sleep. I reluctantly pricked my finger and tested while my husband stumbled to the bathroom.

“What was it?” Brad asked when he climbed back into bed.

“It was 141, I didn’t need to be awake,” I complained and went back to sleep.

The longer I live with diabetes, the less annoying the various aspects of self-care become. I’m pretty sure that I will never stop being annoyed with the sleep interruptions though. Read the rest of this entry

Spare a Rose, Save a Child

When I agreed to participate in a survey-based research study, I found out that I could choose to have a donation made to one of two charities, or split it between both. One of those organizations was call Life for a Child. I decided to do a little research and found that this organization helps children with diabetes have access  to insulin.

For many reasons, I’m thankful that I received my diabetes diagnosis as an adult and my family was never saddled with the emotional and financial burden of diabetes. For some families,the obstacles to having the treatment their child with diabetes needs are great, which is why this organization is amazing. I’m joining many other d-bloggers in talking about this organization and encouraging our readers to support it. This Valentine’s Day, members of our community decided to encourage those around them to donate what they might spend on flowers to this organization, which in my opinion is a very loving, giving and wonderful idea.

Read more online on the International Diabetes Federation’s site or on Twitter and in the blogosphere through the hashtag: #sparearose.

Diabetes Lately

Back up your settings

At Stacey’s tip, I took pictures of my basal rate, target blood sugar and IC ratio menus on my PDM and promptly saved them to the cloud. Why? Because stuff happens. Technology can have a mind of it’s own and trying to remember pump settings isn’t easy, especially with variable rates like most of us have.

Mystery holes

Poke once, bleed twice:

I actually poked the left side which makes it even weirder.

Annoyed Read the rest of this entry


Last night, my husband and I were discussing a “Biggest Loser” type of work challenge (and honestly it was mainly a “hey this reminds me of those episodes on the Office” conversation).

Image via

I’m all for workplaces encouraging their employees to be healthy, but my sense of fairness gets a little offended when people can win great prizes from their employer for losing weight, but the employees who are already maintaining a healthy weight are completely left out.

Maybe I’m being sensitive.

What do you think? Do you think programs like the one I mentioned alienate already fit employees?

How would you recommend employers incentivize their staff to be healthy (not exclusively weight loss)? Or should they stay out of it?

My personal opinion is that if some sort of fitness competition is going to be organized, it should be a goal-oriented, overall wellness competition. Weight loss may be an important goal for some, for others increasing strength, indurance or flexibility may be more important goals. Health reward programs at work should be open to everyone.

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Friendly Reminder

My Eyes

Friendly Reminder

If you don’t know at least one person who had (or has) the flu, consider yourself lucky!

I feel like I dodged a major bullet avoiding the flu so far this year, I was unknowingly exposed to someone with it, my husband caught it and kicked it quickly, but I’m still wary. I’m also kind of anti-social right now.

Here’s a friendly reminder to anyone with the flu, a cold or any other contagious ailment: Stay away from others. Seriously, don’t try to be a social sick person or try to convince others (and yourself) that you’re well when you aren’t. Just because “it’s going around” doesn’t mean you should go around with it.

Since so many people around me have fallen ill to this year’s flu, plus the nasty cold that I actually did come down with a few months ago, I’ve been extra vigilant about my health. I’m not sure how far it will get me, but I’ve added an extra vitamin C to my regular daily vitamin, I’m drinking lots of water and green tea and I’m washing my hands… a lot.

It’s also not a bad idea during cold and flu season to kick up the cleaning a notch ny sanitizing things like doorknobs, light switches, other handles, keyboards, phones and workspaces.

For most “normal” people coming down with a cold or the flu is an inconvenience and some missed work time. For people with diabetes, like me, coming down with a cold or the flu wreaks havoc on my overall health. These viruses directly impact blood sugar levels making diabetes even harder to manage on top of the regular sick management, plus it takes longer to get over illness.

If you’re sick, I hope that you feel better soon. I also hope that you remember to practice good hygiene and anti-social behavior.

I’m curious about this, Brad had a flu shot and still caught the flu this year. He’s not the only one who experiences this.

Did you get a flu shot? Did you catch the flu?

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Please take off your shoes

Procrastination and Stalking

When Procrastination Does (and Doesn’t) Pay

There’s a lot of change happening at one time when it comes to how I manage my diabetes. First there’s the new insurance, the new year and the coming of the new OmniPods. Those things kind of coincided into a minor panic the other day.

With the new insurance, ordering my pump supplies in 3-month shipments is not the best option (hello deductible!). I halted all of my supply management orders for the time being in favor of more control over timing for not only insurance but for the new pods. The last thing I want is a backlog of old pods to push through when it’s my turn for the new system. I also didn’t want to order more before the calendar year rolled over and I had a whole new deductible to meet. It already hurt my brain to have to order another medication before the year ended and count toward a 2012 deductible that would never get met.

So after the first of the year, I ordered one month’s worth of pods logged all of my new insurance information and waiting for a shipping confirmation. My order went into pending status for a couple of days before I received an email telling me to call and pay for my pods before they’d ship. I was already nervous before that because my supply was dwindling but that order date had to be a 2013 date. By the time I received a shipping confirmation I was down to two OmniPods (plus the one stuck to my arm).

Now, stocked for the next month with pods, I feel better and the deductible that I have to deal with for 2013 is already smaller.

OmniPods and a lot of wasted box space

Stalking a Pattern Read the rest of this entry