Blog Archives

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

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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.

Related Posts:

Do you really think that?

Diabetes Hero

The Quest

 

A memorable day

I’ve said several times before that I really don’t know people in my “real life” with type 1. I finally had the opportunity to meet DOC member Amy in person and discovered how truly small the world is (we found out that she’s known members of my family longer than she’s “known” me!). When I read today’s prompt directly followed by some tweets about diabetes in the wild, I thought back to a day… not my most memorable day with diabetes but one worth sharing.

Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere…. your or your loved one’s diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share. (Thanks to Jasmine of Silver-Lined for this topic suggestion.)

I was diagnosed with diabetes in the middle of August 2011. My husband and I moved to Cleveland in September and that October we were shopping at Crocker Park (an amazing outdoor shopping center). I wasn’t yet on an insulin pump but was in the process of getting started with one.

Brad and I had finished our shopping and were returning to our car in the parking garage. When we reached our garage, there was a group of three teenagers talking and laughing in the stairwell. The girl who was sitting on the step scooted over so we could walk past, as she scooted I saw it. It looked like a purple pager clipped to the outside of her pocket with a clear tube sticking out of it.

I wanted to exclaim, “I have diabetes too!” but the calm, rational adult in me reminded me that having a stranger point out your medical condition as a teenager could possibly mortifying, so instead I smiled and said thanks to her when we passed.

On the second level of the parking garage, when we were safely out of earshot I turned to Brad and said, “That girl on the steps has diabetes too and she was wearing an insulin pump.” He hadn’t noticed.

I learned two things that day:

1. There were other people in the world having “normal” lives while having diabetes. I hadn’t yet achieved a “normal” life since my diagnosis.

2. It’s completely possible to for the condition that had taken over my life to go completely unnoticed by others.

Sometimes I wish I had said something to the girl in the stairwell, especially after moments when my insulin pump being visible helped others feel less alone.

Other Memorable Days:

Hiding

Would I Ever Feel Better Again?

A Pregnancy Test Saved My Life

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

In the Office

The nice thing about having online access to my test results is that most of the treatment decisions are made and communicated before I even make it to the doctor’s office.

A week and a half after getting my blood drawn, I went to see my endo. She had already advised me to start taking a supplement AND complimented my numbers via comments on my labs.

#WaitingWithDiabetes

When I wound my way up to the endocrinology department I answered the standard questions from the nurse got weighed and then offered her my left arm for blood pressure, “If you don’t mind, I’ll have you do my blood pressure on my left arm since I have my site on my right arm.”

“You have your what?” she asked me as I shrugged off my cardigan.

“My insulin pump,” I explained and turned my arm to show her the OmniPod on my arm.

“So that doesn’t fall off of your arm?” she asked. I said no and that is stays put just fine. “So you like your pump?”

“Yes I do, I love that it’s tubeless,” I responded. Then it was like something dawned on her and she took a closer look at my right arm.

“Your pump is tubeless! So it has a cartridge in the white thing? How often do you have to change that?”

I explained that I wear an OmniPod and I fill each pod with insulin and put a new one on every three days.

“I know it’s stuck on there pretty well, but have you ever had one fall off before?” she asked.

“None have ever fallen off, but I have accidentally ripped one off my leg before.” She responded that it was interesting and finally took my blood pressure. Read the rest of this entry

Stream of Thought

Have you ever felt like you were forgetting something? I had that feeling all morning. I mentally checked off my list while getting ready for work. Contacts in? Check. Feed cats? Check. Put on deodorant? Check. Grab lunch from fridge? check.

I was almost all the way to the office before I remembered… I only put one set of earrings in. I keep meaning to bring a spare set to work and keep them in my desk, but I basically never forget to wear earrings. Today I’m sporting half-naked ears.

Our trash is still sitting on the curb. Between Easter observed on Monday and a solidarity, one-day walk-off among sanitation workers (supporting sanitation workers striking in another community), our trash was not collected yesterday as usual. It was still on the curb this morning when I left. I saw a garbage truck on our street so I’m hopeful. What happens when garbage sits on the curb for more than a day is a mess. Between people who don’t bag their trash and just put it in the can and people who only bag their trash and don’t use cans, there is unpleasant debris in the street. Not to be a whiner, but I hate picking up other people’s trash out of my yard.

It’s never okay to tear your spouse down on social media. Airing a frustration over your wife leaving the oven on for an hour after dinner or your husband forgetting to fold the clothes out of the dryer is much worse  than the actual “infraction.” I know that a lot of people use social media to vent, and I’ve caught myself a time or two wanting to tweet about one of my husband’s annoying habits but it’s good to stop and think, “Do I really want to put this person, who I love, down in front of my friends and family?” The answer is probably no. Plus it’s easier to get past those things if they aren’t immortalized on the internet.

I’m afraid of potassium. When I was in the hospital when I was diagnosed with diabetes, everything in my blood was off including really low potassium. They gave me IV potassium and before I was discharged, I had to drink potassium powder mixed with juice (great idea hospital, make the person who’s just out of DKA drink juice). IV potassium currently holds the title for the absolute, most painful thing I’ve experienced. I’ve broken bones, had blood drawn what dehydrated, gotten a concussion, punctured my eardrum and has a spring-loaded canula inserted directly into a vein… and the potassium wins hands down. It was the only time I’ve ever thrown up from pain. The potassium powder drink was disgusting to drink as well.

Back to why I’m talking about potassium… My latest labs showed that my potassium was low-ish again. Knowing that I can do something about this immediately, I bought bananas. I hope to never need potassium in a painful way ever again.

A couple of my stories are featured on OmniPod’s blog, Suite D today as part of their Diabetes Foolishness series. People say and think the strangest things about insulin pumps, glucose monitors and the things that people with diabetes do to stay healthy alive.

Related Posts:

Friday Five: What I Learned

Sometimes I’m Amazed

Curb the complaining