Blog Archives

What you should know

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.
  • Vomiting.

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

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What to Wear to a Graduation

If you’re graduating, let’s be honest your outfit won’t be seen during the ceremony. With that said… don’t wear jeans under a graduation gown, that will be seen.

I made the mistake of wearing “challenging” shoes when I graduated from college. Because of the horrible parking situation, we walked from our apartment to graduation. Add that to the processional, going across the stage, walking to lunch, etc (thankfully my parents drove me back to my apartment!) I had a college degree AND blisters.

What to wear if you’re a graduate:

  • Sensible/comfortable dress shoes. They should look nice and give you the height you want… without giving you blisters or causing you to trip down the steps.
  • Something that won’t look crazy under a gown. If your graduation gown is white, wear white underneath. If you wear a white dress with a yellow pattern under one of the thin white gowns, your gown will look dirty. If you wear any other color underneath, it’ll look like you’ve been in a wet t-shirt grad gown contest.
  • Hair down. If you wear your hair up with a graduation cap, you run the risk of looking bald or having hat troubles. (Also bring a couple of bobby pins to pin to affix your hat to your head.)

What to wear if you’re a guest at a graduation:

  • Not jeans.
  • A dress, skirt or dress pants. If it’s a spring/summer graduation, have fun with patterns and colors. December graduations are a good time to embrace textures and jewel tones.
  • Something comfortable but still nice. Every graduation I’ve ever attended has been a long ceremony and not usually in a comfortable seat… you can’t control those things, but you can control how comfortable your clothes are.
  • Nothing too revealing or that could embarrass you during a hug or photo.
  • Avoid hats and fascinators out of respect for the people sitting behind you.
  • Comfortable but nice shoes.
  • A smile. Someone you care about is graduating! (unless you attend graduations as a hobby, but smile regardless)

I attended my brother-in-law’s high school graduation over the weekend and put together some outfit ideas on Polyvore that might be helpful for some inspiration: Read the rest of this entry

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

Probably Rachel Just Got Shorter

Rest assured, I did not shrink (that would be bad news), the URL to get here shrunk. I’m now the proud owner of probablyrachel.com.

The “old” URL will still get you here, but if you want to shorten any links you have to me, go for it!

This blog has looked pretty much the same for a couple of years and I like it, but I’m considering making some other changes that extend beyond my address and picture. If that happens, you’ll know. The content that you know (and hopefully love) will continue.

I haven’t said thanks to you all in awhile, so thank you for being wonderful! I appreciate the conversation, shares, support and time with your eyeballs that I get.

Related Posts:

Blog Action Day: The Power of We (in the DOC)

Thanks for helping me grow

Responsibility

 

My Curse

Since our names are our identities, I’m amazed that I’m not completely screwed up about who I am. It’s incredibly rare that any paperwork for me is accurate, I’ve come to refer to this as my curse.

At a young age, it was difficult to learn how to spell my name because both my first and last name were often spelled incorrectly and I saw so many different versions of my name that it was tough to keep track. But the curse really started when I was 16 and got my driver’s license. I lived in Massillon. My official identification indicated that I lived in Masssillon. (See the issue?) But it gets better…

1. At our wedding reception, the hall spelled both of our last names wrong on the sign

2. I had to make them redo one section of our home-buying paperwork because they spelled my first name wrong

3. The Board of Elections printed my name wrong in its records so when I went to vote they had to call the board and get approval from them for me to be able to vote

4. My last name was spelled wrong when Brad and I opened our joint bank account (his name was correct though… you know the same name) and my bank card was printed wrong as well

5. I’ve received personal mail with my name spelled “Rachel” on the note inside and “Rachael” on the envelope

Then to put icing on the curse cake, here’s the tag that was on my dress that I just picked up for my friend’s wedding:

I clearly printed my name on the paperwork and the worst part is, it looks like that sticker might have been stuck over top of a sticker that was spelled correctly.

I’ve learned to check things over carefully when official things are involved, but occasionally things slip through the cracks.

Do you have a “curse”?

Related Posts:

What’s in a name?

Thanks Pam!

Feeling Left Out

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

Thanks Pam!

A funny thing happens when you officially change your address…

You start getting junk mail for people who don’t even live in your house.

We receive promotional mail (i.e. not official stuff like bills or letters) for my father-in-law, mother-in-law and brother-in-law occasionally. Things like special offers for Cleveland lawn treatment services (my in-laws don’t live in Cleveland) and tuxedo rental offers. These kind of, sort of, maybe make sense.

But then we started getting mail for Pam.

Bath & Body Works coupons started arriving for Pamela K (same last name as me). One day, I got mail for Pam (we’re tight seeing as how she lives in my house supposedly) that contained coupons for not only Bath & Body Works, but also for Victoria’s Secret. Both contained coupons for free stuff so I threw them in my purse.

The next time we were at the mall I stopped in both stores and redeemed my free items, courtesy of Pam.

I ended up with $15 of free stuff, all because someone thinks I have a Pam at my house.

Thanks Pam!

I’m Linking Up!

Related Posts:

What’s in a name?

Hi! I’m Rachel Engel…stetter

Ask and you shall receive

Winter Decorating

The moment leftover turkey and mashed potatoes find their way into the fridge after Thanksgiving, I shift into gear for Christmas and start decorating. The trees go up, the Advent wreath comes out, there’s garland about, snowmen, ribbon and a new wreath on the red door.

These decorations are out and lit during the whole holiday season, all the way until New Year’s Day when it’s time to move on from Christmas and hang a new calendar. Once all the festive Christmas decorations are packed away in the attic, the house kind of looks kind of sad. In order to avoid the 60 to 0 switch, not everything that goes up at the end of November is Christmas-centered.

Most often, my wreaths aren’t Christmas-specific, that way I can leave them up all winter. This year, I opted to make a pine cone wreath for the front door using the scented pine cones that were stashed after Christmas 2011.

Bonus: Our entry smells like cinnamon and vanilla!

Snowmen, snowflakes and inspirational words (joy, peace, hope, love) are also perfectly acceptable (to me) all winter, along with the metallic accents, so they stay long after the trees and stockings go away.

Sorry that I didn’t take any in-progress pictures, but if you want to make your own here’s how I made it: Read the rest of this entry

My First Full Year with Diabetes

This year felt like it flew by! 2012 has been my first full year of living with Type 1 diabetes, this month’s DSMA Blog Carnival prompt spurs a long summary of a short-feeling year.

The prompt:

Take a moment to reflect on diabetes in 2012 – on a personal level, on a community level, on a technological level, anything you can think of.  What things stand out to you the most?  What did 2012 and Diabetes mean to you?

Community

  • I made a lot of friends this year online
  • I had the pleasure of sharing thoughts with members of the community and a company that makes my life better every day
  • When I had questions, people answered
  • I was able to advocate and educate those around me more this year
  • I’ve been able to celebrate successes with friends online and offline when it comes to their health

Technology Read the rest of this entry

The Ones Who Love Us

The other night, Brad was meeting a friend after work, so I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up a few things. My numbers blood sugars had been stellar all day, so when my Dexcom alerted me to a 70 mg/dL as soon as I pulled into the driveway I wasn’t worried because I was just going to fix quick dinner and be fine.

Between walking into the house and hanging up my coat, something snapped. There were so many things I had to do before I could eat. I put away the groceries, went down to the basement and emptied the dehumidifier, went upstairs and changes my clothes. Then I fed the cats, got the mail and came back into the kitchen to get a clean plate out of the dishwasher. I got distracted by the dishwasher needing emptied – then I felt hot.

Really, really hot. Finally a functioning brain cell told me to test my blood sugar.

It was 42. OmniPod wouldn’t even let me bolus for the 25 grams of carbs that my dinner had (I’m thankful that it won’t let me bolus with a bg below 50). I did two shots of juice for quick sugar and Brad arrived home to find me standing at the kitchen counter, shaking, sweating and inhaling a plate of nachos. I didn’t even speak, just showed him my Dexcom and kept eating.

When I was back in range, he painted me a picture of what he thought he’d have come home to if he’d been later. It wasn’t pretty. (And I won’t be sharing it with you.)

If my husband had been eating and showed me an electronic device in lieu of saying hello, I’d be pretty upset. We fall into a bit of a routine and I often forget that he’s not just a bystander, he’s actively involved and informed.

During diabetes awareness month, we try to shed a little light on living with diabetes, but those who love us are aware every day as well. Living with me (a person with diabetes) can be tough, stressful or downright annoying at times. Brad eats low carb with me often, forgoes having sweets around the house on a regular basis, handles fussy lows, accepts numbers in response to “How are you?” and will literally track me down if he is concerned and can’t reach me (yes, my husband has located me using Find My iPhone, no it’s not creepy. It’s sweet.)

I’m thankful for each and every person who loves someone with diabetes and takes an active role in supporting them.

Related Posts:

Sometimes I’m Amazed

Curb the Complaining

My Husband Spied on Me!