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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Friday (Thursday) Five: 27 May 2010

Since we're leaving tonight to head to south Alabama for the Memorial Day weekend, today is technicall my "Friday".  So here's a Thursday edition of the Friday Five: 

1.  Lee Dewyze won over fellow type 1 diabetic Crystal Bowersox last night in the American Idol Season 9 Finale.  Honestly, I thought Crystal was more talented, but Simon had it right when he said to Lee, "You are the type of person this show was made for."  Crystal has the experience and the motivation with being a single mom, so whether it was American Idol or some other way she would have found a break eventually.  I would probably buy a Lee album over a Crystal album because I tend to like guys with that gruffy, scratcy, sounds-like-they-smoked-for-too-long voice like the lead singers from Hinder and Skillet (I realize they are completely different genres, adult rock & contemporary christian, but they sound similar). 

2.  We bought an automatic litter box, the Scoop Free Automatic Litter Box.  I placed this in our house remodeling budget because, to me, it is definitely an improvement for the house.  First of all, it uses crystals, not litter--so no worrying about the litter getting clogged in the machine.  We have a problem with Elvis not peeing in different places in a litter box, so his paws would get caked in moist, clay-like litter clumps that he would track all over the house (too gross & TMI? maybe) leaving little gray footprints all over our dark floors.  But no more!  Plus the crystals are designed to last 10-15 days with two cats, but with our cats it will be more like a week.  So, we can take extra long weekend trips without worrying about someone cleaning their litter box (which, if you have, it's like handling toxic waste, so Thank you, Jessica!  For the many many times you endured this.)  I don't know why I'm so excited about this little machine, but I am!      

 Yay!  =D
3.  I got my hair cut!  Not much shorter and still the same style (via Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama or Alice from Twilight, take your pick).  I usually grow my hair out for Locks of Love once every 2 years, but with my new "big girl job" I feel more inclined to keep it professional looking at all times. 

4.  I think I've succumbed to the fact that my endo won't sign my letter of medical necessity for my Dexcom until my appointment in June.  I hate that, but it's my best time to have one-on-one access to him.  But once it's here, I will be giddy. 

5.  I got a new box of pump supplies this week.  Chris has talked about experiencing "Diabetic Christmas" when a new box of supplies come in.  I feel the exact same way when I saw that Medtronic box on the dining room table.  Also (I guess this could be #6, but I think Kerri has rights on "Friday Six"), I picked up insulin yesterday using our medical FSA (flexible spending account) card.  I noticed there were some things in the pharmacy section that had a green "FSA" sticker on their price tag, meaning an FSA card would pay for them.  I wanted to pick up more sugar tablets before our trip, so I looked and the green FSA tag was on the raspberry (my flavor of choice) and sour apple, but not the orange.  What?!  It's deemed medically accessible to have raspberry and sour apple sugar tablets, but not orange.  Poor orange, first it gets confused as a color and now this. 

I still matter, right?  

Have a great & safe weekend, everybody! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Traveling with Diabetes

It's no secret that diabetics require a little extra luggage when traveling, mostly in the form of extra supplies.  The ultimate worst-case scenario is bringing just enough supplies but an emergency happens that requires an extra site change or more insulin than originally packed.

I remember the first trip I had with Arnold.  Hubby (then boyfriend) and I were headed up to his parents' house for the weekend.  I brought an extra reservoir and insertion set, just in case my amateur pumping self managed to screw up a site change (very VERY likely).  We sat down to dinner and I discretely tried to bolus for dinner.  BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!  "Delivery Failed!"  What?!  No way!  Try again.  BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!  "Delivery Failed, Moron!"  How rude!  Try again.  BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!  "Delivery Failed!  Do I need to spell it out for you, Blondie?!"  Frustrated that my pump was malfunctioning and being hair color prejudice, I excused myself and completely changed my site.  Upon inspection, I had a bent canula that I blamed as the culprit.  I sat back down at the table.  "Everything OK?" someone asked.  "Yeah, pump messing up on me."  From then on, I've always taken the necessary amount of supplies times double.

Then, there's taking diabetes to the air.  Don't get me wrong, I love to fly.  I hate airports.  The instant stress that comes from checking in and being herded like cattle through the security line with the fear of being branded with a hot iron if you get out of line without taking your shoes and belt off.  (Holy digression, Batman!)  I've only been stopped once in the security line because my pump was bulging an outline from my pocket and the security guard was like "What's that, ma'am?".  Luckily, it was an early morning flight and there weren't many people there, so the stress factor was low.  Once I'm past the line and gather my things, I'm fine.  I find my gate, then find the closest bathroom and snack bar or meal spot, then stop to check my BG.  I'm a carry-on only gal, so I always have my diabetes and pump supplies with me.  But I also bring syringes for going high and extra snacks for going low.  Then, I chill and relax before my flight, checking my BG every 1-2 hours for the stress factor.   

But traveling with diabetes starts way before the trip.  Like today, I called in my insulin prescription even though I have at least a reservoir and half left.  I also check my number of strip vials because I typically go through one vial every 4 days.  And I'm starting to travel with sugar tablets for lows on the go, even though they're not my low treat of choice.  And when we go on long road trips, I turn my basal down to 75%.  Nothing is scarier than going low and being 20 miles from an exit. 

So, with all the extra supplies, strips, syringes, and snacks, Arnold gets his own travel bag.  I keep Arnold's bag either connected to or within the cooler holding my vials of insulin.  I usually do 5 checks every hour or so on my luggage making sure that I have everything I need.  It's usually on my 20th check that I feel confident that I didn't forget anything. 

I really should make a checklist for supplies depending upon days of travel, but instead I spend half of our travel time worrying I didn't bring enough D-supplies.  Oh yeah, and batteries!  I always forget batteries since I change those the least.  Battery change for my brain, please, kthxbai.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rookie Mistake

I'm afraid of lows.  I'm so afraid of lows that I sometimes will eat something and not bolus, only to find I'm sky high 2 hours later.  Such was the case yesterday. 

Less than two hours after my lunch of a PB sammich, Sun chips, and a Babybel, my eyes were feeling dizzy and I could barely read the words on my computer.  I had a colleague coming to help me set up some executable files, so I did a quick test:  72.  Not low, but I felt low.  So I reached into my desk and pulled out a grape Juicy Juice, 16 g of quick carby goodness.  Shortly afterwards my colleague came in and helped me get set up on my new project.  Thirty minutes later he leaves and I test again:  126.  "That shouldn't have happened," I thought.  "I didn't over bolus for food . . . did I?" 

Around 3:00 PM, I decide to have my afternoon snack--Fiber One oats and chocolate bar, yum.  However, fearing a low later before my 5:30 PM softball game, I decide not to bolus.  Stupid stupid stupid!  "It would only be 2 units, how high could I go?  Should help before my game, too."  Rookie mistake. 

I arrive at the field at 5:00 PM dressed and ready to warm up.  I test before I get out of my SUV:  213!  "I'm sorry," I actually said to Arnold.  I know better than this.  I know it's better to bolus and THEN disconnect before a game.  I was torn on what to do next.  "Do I correct and risk a low during the game?  Should I not worry about it and try to exercise it out?  But that might mean I can't drink my G2, and I still need some hydration."  I decide to correct and immediately disconnect, a good 10 minutes before I start to really exert myself. 

I worried about going low, so I kept a mental check on how I felt after each inning.  However, the excitement of the game made me completely forgot about going low (it was a tight game that we lost in the last inning, boo!).  I barely drank half of my G2 before I get back in my SUV and test:  131.  *sigh of relief* 

I didn't go low, but I very well could have.  It was a rookie mistake to not bolus that far before a game, and I knew it.  I know better than that.  So why did I do it?  Because I fear lows, and always will. 

Hey, even pros make mistakes, right?  And I'm still in the minor leagues here. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

CGM Odyssey

Over a month ago, I started my process to obtain a CGM (Constant Glucose Monitor).  There are several reasons why I want a CGM including catching lows and highs, pre-pregnancy planning and tracking when I am pregnant, and overall OCDness to constantly know my BG without wasting a ton of strips.  Like any good shopper, I wanted to know what the best product would be for me.   I found this pretty good website comparing the 4 most popular CGMs:

It compares the Guardian REAL-Time CGMS, the Dexcom SEVEN Plus, and the Minimed Paradigm REAL-Time System.  It also compares the Abbott FreeStyle Navigator which I've never heard of.

I made a call a month ago to Dexcom for them to ping my insurace to see how much they would be willing to pay at first.  You might be wondering why I didn't approach the Minimed Paradigm first since that's the pump I'm currently using.  Well, through various researching and testimonies (and now this website), I decided that the MM is not the kind of CGM I would use if I were sans Arnold.  Just because it is meant to coordinate with my pump doesn't make it my first choice.  Besides, I've also heard about the difficulty in calibrating with the MM.  I am not opposed to the MM and would certainly be willing to test it, but it's not my first choice.

I decided to go with Dexcom first because I like the fact it can be inserted for 6 days.  If I can stretch it to 7 days, it would be easy to remember, "Oh, it's Wednesday, time to change my CGM site."

I received a call back from Dexcom two days later where they gave me the good news that caused me to jump on my husband.  All they needed from me were my last 60 days of BG readings, last 2 chart notes from my endocrinologist, and last 2 blood work results. 

Oh yeah, and they needed my endo to sign a letter of medical necessity stating that I would benefit from a CGM.  

This has been the biggest hiccup and frustration so far in this process.  Unfortunately, I'm the victim of being a patient in the only office of endocrinology for all of north Alabama, not just my city.  Therefore, getting through to my endo's office is somewhat a hassle (being kind here).  Dexcom tried several times to fax the letter of medical necessity to my endo's office, and everytime I would call to see if they received it, I got a "Received what?"  Finally, I tried faxing the letter thinking they were having trouble receiving a fax out of state (not a likely cause, but I felt comfortable taking this process into my own hands).  Four attempts still left me with a "Fax Delivery Failed" in the machine message box.

So, I finally took the paperwork to my endo's office myself.  That was 3 weeks ago.  I'm trying to be a patient patient and call about once a week to see if my endo has signed the letter.  The medical records nurse has already pulled the necessary chart notes and blood work, so they're just waiting on my endo. 

I called this morning and the receptionist I talked to basically told me they've been really busy lately (Lately?!  How about always?!) and they would call me when the paperwork is faxed to Dexcom.  I am very frustrated. 

I like my endo, I really do.  He saved my life.  And I understand he is really busy with too many patients.  But there is something wrong when it takes 3 weeks for him to sign a piece of paper (I filled out most of it except the area where he needed to fill out and sign.  I even highlighted it with "Sign here.").  My current plan is wait another week and call them next Tuesday.  I was hoping to have my CGM by now so I could show it to my family this weekend, but no such luck apparently. 

When I started this odyssey, I originally thought it might be better to just make an appointment for him to view and sign the paperwork because that's when I receive the best one-on-one time with him.  But it had only been 2 months since my last appointment and all I need him to do is sign the letter.  Well, my next appointment is June 21st, and it looks like that might be when he actually signs it. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Five: 21 May 2010

OK, this is my first ever "Friday Five", which I'm not sure exactly what that means.  From what I've seen of other Friday Fives, I just listed 5 random facts about my week?!  Who knows, but that's what I'll do: 

  1. I'm really looking forward to my trip to south Alabama next weekend.  I haven't visited my hometown since June of last year (yeah, I know, I'm a bad daughter).  With starting my new job back in August, I've had to save up time to take off.  But I'm really looking forward to visiting my parents, going swimming, soaking in the hot tub, eating crawfish (yes, I suck the head), and visiting all my favorite places and people.  
  2. We're thinking about getting another dog after the Memorial Day trip.  Roscoe loves when other dogs are around for him to play with.  We're toying around the idea of getting an American Bulldog.  I saw one at the softball field the other night and she was absolutely gorgeous!  And mild mannered, too, for a puppy.  I asked the owner for the name of her breeder and she gave me her phone number.  We'll probably give them a call when we get back.  
  3. I'm getting really, really, REALLY frustrated and impatient with my endo right now.  Because their office is so busy, it's impossible to send a fax or get someone on the phone half the time.  I dropped off my paperwork for a Dexcom CGM two weeks ago.  All endo has to do is sign and date the letter of medical necessity.  The medical records office has already pulled the necessary information for Dexcom, they're just waiting on my endo to sign the letter and they can fax it on.  I've been making weekly calls to them, asking for an update.  Monday, I will call again and keep calling daily until this thing happens . . . dangit.  
  4. OK, this is getting hard to come up with.  I'm much better with memes.  
  5. We might see The Blind Side this weekend with some friends!  I've been wanting to see this movie for a long time now!  Really looking forward to that.  
That's it!  First Friday Five.  Have a great weekend, everyone!  =)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweet Summer Movies

I love going to the movies!  Especially during the summer.  I love the smell of buttered popcorn in a dark room, sitting next to my hubby while sharing a large Diet Pepsi.  Our first movie we saw together was Hidalgo (2004).  It was an 11:00 PM showing, and he learned then that if he wanted me to make it through a movie awake, we better stick to matinee showings.  However, I still have that stub, though slightly faded now.

And there are several movies that I'm looking forward to this year:
  • The Twilight Saga:  Eclipse (June 30th) 
  • Iron Man 2 (seen it:  awesome!) 
  • Robin Hood (seen it:  Meh, I liked Robin Hood better as a fox) 
  • Eclipse! 
  • Shrek Forever After (May 21st)
  • Eclipse! 
  • Buried  (October 8th, Yay Team Sparling!) 
  • Did I mention Eclipse?  
But I'd like to take this opportunity (or blog post, however you see it) to mention some famous movies featuring diabetes and how (in)accurate they are:

Let's start with the biggie and obvious:  Steel Magnolias

Julia Roberts' character Shelby is a diabetic bride who loses her life due to complications from a kidney transplant from her mom, M'Lynn played by Sally Field.  The scene that really gets me is the beauty parlor scene on the day of the wedding when Shelby suddenly experiences low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.  Shelby's face says it all.  She goes from a blushing bride to pale white and immediately begins to lose it.  M'Lynn notices and reaches for juice and begins to feed it down Shelby's throat, even though she tries to fight her.  I love how patient M'Lynn is even when Shelby is saying horrible things to her.  She knows it's her low blood sugar talking, not her daughter.

Personal opinion:  the low blood sugar scene was pretty dramatic but, hey, it's a movie.  I've certainly felt paralyzing lows like that before, most all of them insulin induced.  I cried my eyeballs out when Shelby dies (hello? who doesn't?!).  The only thing I don't like about this movie is a LOT of people get the wrong impression about type 1s being pregnant.  With so many advancements like meters, pumps and CGMs, "diabetics have babies all the time".  If someone tries to quote SM to me when I'm pregnant, I will say "Pregnancy doesn't kill diabetics, diabetes kills diabetics.  And mine is just dandy, thanks!"

Good Movie, Bad Diabetes Reference:  Con Air

Oh Nicholas Cage, you can retrieve my diabetic supplies anytime. *swoon*

Nicholas Cage plays Cameron Poe, a prisoner being released to go home to his wife and daughter.  His bus and plane are hijacked by some deathrow inmates planning for a life a freedom.  His friend Mike "Baby-O" O'dell is a diabetic prisoner (hey, aren't we all? *sigh*) who expects to receive his insulin shot at the inmate transfer, but the hijacking inmates take over before he can get his syringe.  When the inmates make a stop at Carson City to change planes, Poe searches the area for a first aid kit in hopes of finding a syringe for O'Dell.  Once he finds one and O'Dell administers his insulin, all is peachy, until O'Dell gets shot.  Then, Poe spends the rest of the movie trying to keep him alive until the plane crashes in Las Vegas.

Personal opinion:  O'Dell's reaction to not having insulin is 100% WRONG!  He begins to sweat and shake, much like hypoglycemia.  If he were experiencing high blood sugar, he would have been peeing all over the place and vomiting.  Then, when he does get his syringe he administers the insulin in his arm.  WTH?!  The arm?  Ouch!  Any shot given in a muscle hurts like Hades!  If I put my pump site too close to ab muscles it feels like I have a huge splinter in my stomach.  Butt or thigh for me.  And O'Dell's immediate recovery is also inaccurate.  Experiencing extreme high (or low) blood sugar takes at least a day to fully recover.  So, this movie is a great action film, but totally inaccurate when it comes to diabetes, except that insulin goes in a syringe.  Nice try, Hollywood. 

Haven't seen yet, but sounds interesting:  The Panic Room

I'll be honest and say that I haven't seen this movie yet, but I plan to for our next visit to the video store.  So, for a full synopsis, go here.  But the general story is this girl and her mom are locked in a safe room while burglars invade their house where the daughter, Kristen Stewart, has a hypoglycemia attack and passes out.  The movie ends with someone barely getting to her in time to administer a glucagon injection.  You can tell me if the movie is worth seeing or not.

Personal opinion:  The only thing I do know about this movie is that Kristen Stewart has become a celebrity advocate for type 1 diabetes, often seen at JDRF runs.  And with her recent Twilight fame and all the latest researches for a cure, I'm glad.  Advocacy is best to come from a familiar face.

So there are the big 3 movies with diabetes in their plot line.  Also, for anyone who's seen Iron Man 2, did you see his blood toxicity meter?  I leaned over to hubby and said, "Wish they made glucose meters like that."  Seriously, it was a pump-size meter with no coding, lancing, or stripping.  Just insert your finger and 5 seconds later get a blood glucose . . . er . . . toxicity reading.  How awesome!

"Mr. Stark, your latest blood work is in." 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Working Out a Basal Rate

Now that it's warm weather again and house remodeling has calmed down a bit, I'm trying to get back into my workout groove.  The biggest obstacle, diabetes wise, is trying to figure out a basal rate on my pump so that I'm not chugging juice after working out, consuming the same or more calories that I just burned off.  I'm done some looking around diabetes blogs and community forums to get some ideas.  One idea that has been pretty consistent is turning down my basal rate BEFORE I work out, roughly 30 minutes. 

I am on my company's softball team which usually has a game once a week, sometimes twice a week.  The typical routine is for our team to arrive at the field 30 minutes before the game starts.  We warm up our arms by throwing the ball to our partner starting about 10 feet away and increasing distances until our arms are close to jello.  Then, I make a run down the field to the outfield corner and back, warming up my legs.  I disconnect before we begin throwing, and after running I take a swig of my G2 (low calorie Gatorade) before the game starts.  I take my position at 1st or 2nd base, whichever one I'm assigned, and take a few grounders before the first pitch.  Then, for the next hour, I'm diabetes-free.  I run, I field, I bat, all without worrying about my pump or BG.  Some people may be asking, "Why don't you wear your pump during the game?"  Good question.  The answer:  This little device and all it's fixings is easily worth 5 digits of mula, and I'm not about to risk getting Arnold injured by a line drive to the hip.  He stays safely wrapped up in my bag, away from line drives and bats.

Once the game is over, I reconnect and test.  After my finished G2, I land around 140-150 mg/dL before making the drive home.  I feel good at this number, because if I were closer to 100 I would be worried about going low before I made it home.  I've found that my number keeps dropping after a workout, so landing 20 points above target immediately after the game is fine with me. 

I'm slowly trying to get back to a walking routine which leads to a running routine after about a month or so.  This workout is a little trickier because I'm constantly moving, unlike softball where I get to rest every inning.  When I started back on my walking routine, I was determined to try and figure out a basal rate so that I might actually burn some calories!

I started with simply setting by basal to 50% for our 30 minute walk around the neighborhood.  BG test after:  42.  FAIL!

The next day I tried going down to 25% for 30 minutes.  BG test after:  56.  FAIL!

Disconnect entirely for 30 minutes.  BG test after:  68.  FAIL!

At this point I am frustrated and do some researching (i.e. reading blogs and forums) about how to exercise and lose weight with a pump.  I found Gary's blog where he explained turning down his basal rate BEFORE running!  Hmmm, the concept made sense to me, because you essentially trick your body into thinking you've just eaten some carbs and raising your BG.  Then, you burn off what you just raised, hopefully landing around normal afterwards.

Tried decreasing basal down to 50% for 30 minutes before and disconnect entirely during walk.  BG test after:  86.  Hmmm, technically normal, but I know I'm dropping more.

Decrease basal down to 25% for 30 minutes before and disconnect for walk.  BG test after:  94.  Winner winner chicken dinner!  But, I know I'm still going to drop before dinner.  Hmmm . . .

New tactic:  take the decreased basal rate and spread it out over the time before workout and after.  Set basal to 10% for 1.5 hours, 30 minutes before walk.  Thus creating the raised BG before, bring down during walk, and let coast until dinner.  BG test after walk:  114.  Plenty of room before a low, and still at a decreased basal rate.

So far, this basal coasting seems to be working, but I'll get a better view of it once I get a CGM.  And I'm enjoying my walks with my pup so much more now without fear of going low or chugging juice when we get home.  I'm thinking about getting some of those nifty walking shoes that make your walking more intense, per my friend Jessica's inspiration.

 Does this ad make my butt look big?

I'm hoping one more week or two of walking will get me running again.  I run like a bull in a china shop, but I feel so great afterward.  And keeping up with a 60 lb lab/husky as my trainer should help.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where will I be?

Sunday 5/16 - Dream a little dream - life after a cure. To wrap up Diabetes Blog Week, let’s pretend a cure has been found. We are all given a tiny little pill to swallow and *poof* our pancreases are back in working order. No side effects. No more insulin resistance. No more diabetes. Tell us what your life is now like. Or take us through your first day celebrating life without the Big D. Blog about how you imagine you would feel if you no longer were a Person With Diabetes.

This post feels a little weird to me because I had a whole lifetime without diabetes before I was diagnosed.  So to talk about life without diabetes is like "livin' in the ole days".  But my day-to-day routine is so revolved around diabetes that there are some things that I've been staying away from strictly because I'm diabetic.

# 1:  Go to Shipwreck Island Water

Some of my favorite memories as a kid were going to Shipwreck Island Waterpark in Panama City Beach, Florida.  High slides, wave pool, snow cones, ice cream, lazy river!  It was the highlight of my summers every year.  The minute we passed the Florida state line, I would begin begging my parents, "We going to Shipwreck Island?!  Please?!  Shipwreck Island??!!"  After at least a day of whining, they would give in and buy tickets.  We would get there as soon as they opened at 10:00 AM and stay until the sun went down, then my sunburnt tooshie and I would go to bed immediately after dinner.  I love this place!

A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to go back to my favorite childhood amusement park.  Unfortunately, the first thing that came to my mind was "What about my pump?"  I had just started with Arnold and hadn't mastered temporary basals much less disconnecting for a whole day.  The opportunity ended up falling through, but I was verging on backing out anyway.  Even if I didn't have the pump and went back to MDIs for a day, the constant running around the park and swimming would be a breeding ground for lows.  Simply put, I was not looking forward to tainting all my memories by worrying about my next BG reading. 

# 2:  Take a vacation to Italy

My dream vacation is to go to Italy.  I want to go visit the Coliseum in Rome, drink wine in Naples, and hang out on the beach in Capri.  Trey and I have often talked about going before we have kids.  But whenever we talk about it, I start stressing out thinking about the amount of insulin, pump supplies, and strips needed for an overseas trip.  Not to mention the amount of carbs I would consume with a daily diet of pasta and wine.  But I've already got the place set out that I want to go to:

This place is perfect.  Local hotel located along the beach between Rome and Naples.  Not to mention its own little town and shops. 

So, those are the two things that I think about whenever the latest research article comes out with a "cure" for type 1 diabetes.  And if we are blessed to receive a cure in our lifetime, you can bet that afterwards I'll be on the first European airline to Sperlonga.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Readings

Saturday 5/15 - Diabetes snapshots. Inspired by the Diabetes 365 project, let’s snap a few d-related pictures to share today. Post as many or as few as you’d like. Be creative! Feel free to blog your thoughts on or explanations of your pictures. Or leave out the written words and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Evidence of diabetes in my life:

Showing off my medical ID bracelet.  A potential lifesaver that's only $50.

Bathroom linen closet.  Middle row has been dubbed "Diabetes Only" stuff.

Insulin in the fridge (can you see it?). I keep it in a plastic bag for traveling so the box doesn't get wet from the cooler.  Oh yeah, and I made quesadillas last night.

How serendipitous that I would get a perfect reading for today's blog post. 

Some of the following pictures I did not take, but I think they're perfect for today's post: 

Can apparently make your eyes glow? 

 Diabeetus cat says, "Have you ordered your testing supplies from Liberty Medical?"

Friday, May 14, 2010

No Games, Just Sports

Friday 5/14 - Let's get moving. Exercise . . . love it or hate it? Do you have a regular exercise routine? Or do you have trouble finding your exercise motivation? How do you manage your insulin and food to avoid bottoming out during your workout? Today is the day to tell us all about your exercise habits, or lack thereof.

Exercise is essential to diabetes life.  But sometimes exercise is . . . well . . . boring!  Sorry, I can't handle being on a treadmill for 30 minutes staring at a wall.  And for me, I have a hard time of sticking to the same routine.  I need variety and spice when it comes to my exercise, which includes sports, biking, swimming, and a good walking partner. 

I'm a tomboy, to the core.  I love watching and playing competitive sports (P.S.  If you come over during an Auburn football game, you may want to bring earplugs.).  Therefore, it's no surprise that my favorite way to get in some exercise is through sports.  Currently, I'm only playing softball on my company's team.  However, during grad school I played intramural softball, football, and soccer.  Football was my most successful team; 3-year undefeated champions for the co-ed league.  I played on defense!

That's me, sitting down, in purple pants, hold up three fingers for our "three-peat".  

My softball career was a little more extensive (I'm thinking of dedicating a whole post to it later on, once I track down pictures).  For 10 years, I played fast-pitch softball year-round as a catcher.  I loved it!  I especially loved playing catcher--I could see every player on the field and I called the shots, even for the pitcher.  Softball was pre-diabetes life, though not hypoglycemia.  I knew what hypos were for a long time before diagnosis because of an incident where I nearly passed out at school when I was 12.  My mom tried these chocolate taffy bars that were supposed to normalize my BG, but they were gross!  Anyways, back to exercise and sports . . . this by far the best way for me to move around.  

Last year, Trey and I bought me a mountain bike.  I had never been over a pothole, much less a mountain on my childhood bike!  We went up to some trails here in north Alabama to test out my skills.  I fell off my bike 3 times, and only one was pretty nasty.  However, once we were done with my first trail, we found out it wasn't considered an official biking trail.  Great!  Nothing like baptism by fire!  But I still love my bike and finding a sweet downhill to evaporate the sweat from a 30 minute trek.  *Weeee!*  I'm hoping to condition myself for a marathon sometime later in life.  

I learned how to swim before I started remembering how to swim!  When I was a year old, my parents moved to my childhood home that had a pool.  I remember doing a lot of dog paddling, diving to the bottom of the pool and holding my breath as long as I could, games of "Marco Polo" with my friends, and races from the shallow end to the deep end.  Interestingly, diabetes always cooperates when I'm in water.  Whenever I go swimming, I disconnect Arnold and go have fun, but I test every hour.  And it doesn't matter if I'm doing laps or just wading in the water, my BG is always normal when I'm immersed.  If I could be a fish that never eats, my BG would be normal most of the time.

Have you seen Nemo?  

But I do know how much just getting some exercise in everyday helps my numbers.  So I try to get out for a walk everyday for at least 30 minutes.  To prevent it from getting boring, though, I feed off a good walking buddy who is excited, anxious, and begging for a walk! 

Did someone say "WALK"?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Carbs?! Psssht!! It's about BALANCE!!!

Thursday 5/13 - To carb or not to carb. Today let’s blog about what we eat. And perhaps what we don’t eat. Some believe a low carb diet is important in diabetes management, while others believe carbs are fine as long as they are counted and bolused for. Which side of the fence do you fall on? What kind of things do you eat for meals and snacks? What foods do you deem bolus-worthy? What other foodie wisdom would you like to share? 

Ironically, before I was diagnosed with T1 diabetes, I ate a pretty healthy diet.  My family has a dense history of T2 diabetes, and I was trying to avoid that.  And since God has a sense of humor, I got diagnosed with T1, instead.  I enjoyed a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, and whole grains--kind of a leaning towards a Mediterranean diet. 

The 2nd day after my diagnosis, I went to visit a CDE and a nutritionist.  The nutritionist set up some calorie and carb guidelines for me.  My "plan" (and I use this term loosely right now) was 1500 calories, 150 g carbs, and 50 g fat per day.  And I kept a purple binder with a pen/highlighter and logged what I ate everyday for several months.  Mostly, I was keeping it to know how I'm supposed to be eating, but I was also trying to lose my diagnosis-10.  It was really hard to meet each individual guideline, not just calories.  However, this binder was still during my MDI & Lantus days, so losing weight was extremely hard.  I was able to somewhat train my appetite to these guidelines a little bit (but now I can't handle milk chocolate because it's too sweet & rich for me, BAH!), so I somewhat still stick to this plan but it's just not written down.

But what about now and today?  Well, ever since Trey and I got married I have discovered something:  I LOVE to cook!  I love the smell of olive oil heating up on a skillet with minced garlic.  My mind can wander and be productive at the same time.  It's soothing.  I especially love making things from scratch as much as possible.  My homemade lasagna takes 2 hours just preparation time.  I have started making homemade pizza with fresh dough and homemade sauce and each sample has been delicious.  And my specialty is homemade Sloppy Joe's, oh yeah, with cheese!  But with all these homemade specialties, I at least try to have a balanced plate with veggies and protein.

So, am I low carb, no carb, or "hey, whatever!" carb?  I typically don't think strictly carbs (at least diet-wise, diabetes wise is all about carbs), I try to think about balance and try to get all the steps in the food pyramid.

So for any meal that I consume, I try to have at least 1 serving of whole grain carbs, 1 serving of fresh fruit/vegetable, 1 serving of a good, lean protein, and 1 serving of dairy.  And if I have fats or cook with oils, it's either olive oil or nuts like peanuts and almonds. 

But this is not my diet day-to-day!  I give myself at least one meal a week where I eat something extremely bad for me and forces me to worry about my diabetes.  In fact, this weekend we have a couple date with some friends to go to a local pizza place and try out a new local beer (can you tell I like to support local stuff?).  And I give myself one fast-food meal a week for the other 4 days that I pack my lunch.  I actually read somewhere that having one really big meal a week kind of ramps up your metabolism by giving your digestive system a marathon, but that could just be my justification for my weekly pizza and beer. 

So, there's my rough guideline system for daily food consumption.  Food should be enjoyable as well as nutritional, at least that's what I try to achieve!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Since Day One . . .

Wednesday 5/12 – Your Biggest Supporter. Sure, our diabetes care is ultimately up to us and us alone. But it’s important to have someone around to encourage you, cheer you, and even help you when you need it. Today it’s time to gush and brag about your biggest supporter. Is it your spouse or significant other? Your best friend, sibling, parent or child? Maybe it’s your endo or a great CDE? Or perhaps it’s another member of the D-OC who is always there for you? Go ahead, tell them just how much they mean to you!

To say that Trey, my husband, is my biggest supporter is a bit of an understatement.  He's so much more than a supporter, he's my sustainer, provider, heck! even my supplier.  I am speaking to the fact that my husband gets up everyday, goes to work, does great work at his job to secure our insurance coverage.  After reading the mind-blowing For Women Only, I understood that being a provider is a big deal for all guys.  As a member on our team in my diabetes management, he certainly does his part.

But even if Trey wanted to change jobs, careers, or become a clown, I know one thing is for certain:  he'll take care of me.  You see, Trey promised me when we were engaged that he would take care of me, that I would be safe with him (my parents, especially Mom, made sure to grill him about that).  It's sounds like the romantic cliche' you always hear at the end of a movie, but for someone with a chronic illness, it means so much more.

I have so many things to worry about in diabetes management:  testing, hypos, food, exercise, protein, kidneys, eyesight, pregnancy, etc.  All Trey has to do is just be my husband, which he is awesome at!  I really don't rely on Trey as much for the truly diabetes-related things.  Not because he's not willing, but because I'm too stubborn and independent [insert opinion here].  But honestly, I'm happy with that.  99% of the time, our marriage is like any other non-autoimmune-diseased marriage.  If I wanted to bring up diabetes stuff more often, I know Trey would oblige me (which has happened, like coming home crying from an endo appointment).

Trey's been there since Day #1: here and here and here.  And he'll be there at day #:end.  Trey doesn't see my sites, or tubing, or calloused finger tips.  He just sees me.  I feel normal when I'm with him.  I don't want to talk diabetes with him, I want to talk "us".  We recently met a woman who had been diabetic for 46 years and her husband.  They told us the story of her pregnancy and getting as low at 9 mg/dL (holy cow!) during labor and how the husband demanded giving her a shot of glucose instead of crackers and juice like the nurses wanted to do (hello?! 9 mg/dL?!).  As we were leaving our new-found friends, I remember thinking "I wonder if Trey and I will share those stories 46 years from now?"  Can you add some gray hair and wrinkles to this picture:

When I called Dexcom a few weeks ago to ping our insurance company about coverage for my CGM, I honestly expected bad news.  I was at home when I got the call, just starting dinner.  Heard my phone ring and expected it to be Trey telling me he was on his way home.  Instead, it was an out of range number.  "Hello?"  "Hello, Holly, this is [name] from Dexcom.  I'm calling about your insurance coverage."  Oh geez, I thought, here we go.  This is going to be Kerri's sequel.  "You have excellent insurance coverage.  They are covering you for 90% of the costs."  My mouth dropped, and I started to cry.  "Really?!"  We talked details for awhile, but my mind was too excited to really concentrate.  Trey came home and I immediately jumped on him.  "Yes?" he inquired while holding me up.  "It's all because of you . . . "

A few more pictures of us: 

First ever "Trey & Holly" picture, circa February 2004

By the Tennessee River, 1 year before diagnosis

Finally, a funny picture from our wedding, 8/23/08.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How low can you hopefully-not-too-low-before-you-crash go?

Today's assignment:  Tuesday 5/11 – Making the low go. Tell us about your favorite way to treat a low. Juice? Glucose tabs? Secret candy stash? What’s your favorite thing to indulge in when you are low? What do you find brings your blood sugar up fast without spiking it too high?

When I was first diagnosed, I made the horrible mistake of when I felt low that I would keep eating and  treating until I felt better.  Usually over-correcting by a good 50 g carbs (at least) and a BG soaring into the 200s or 300s.  Then, "Hello, extra 10 lbs!"  I don't care what pure science and research say, insulin is a metabolism killer!  Once Arnold came into my life, lows were a little more preventable and over a year I lost the diagnosis-10.

Now I've learned my lesson and that I need to wait out the low.  But for me, low is not just "low", i.e. below 70 mg/dL.  I have several degrees of "low".  So, for today's Diabetes Blog Week entry, I will go through my different phases of "low" and what I use to treat each.

The "I'm not technically low but I don't want to be later" low:  This is usually anywhere between 85-100 mg/dL and before an activity where I anticipate going low and treat the pre-low.  These events include before working out, shopping, sleeping, etc.  I know this is where a CGM will come in handy (*knock knock* Hello, dear endo! *knock knock*) because it will show where I'm trending not just what I am at the moment.  For these "lows" I like something with carbs and protein like a glass of chocolate milk, granola bar, or my favorite . . .

DARK CHOCOLATE SNICKERS!!!  The first time I had one of these, I thought my mouth was gonna explode with happiness.  I love dark chocolate, and I've always loved Snickers but not a fan of milk chocolate.  But this 30 g of dark chocolate, caramel, nougat, and peanut goodness is perfect for the "I'm not low but don't wanna be" low. 

The "OK, I'm low, no symptoms":  These are what I call the SOP (standard operating procedure) lows.  "Meh, I'm low.  I don't wanna gorge, so I'll do the prescribed method of 15 g of carbs and wait 15-20 minutes and check again."  For these lows, I like to use sugar tables or . . .

If I have one of these handy juice boxes available, I prefer these over sugar tablets because a) they taste better and b) they're "healthier" over all because it's actually fruit juice with vitamins and such (compared to sugar tablets' nutritional value of . . . nothing). 

And finally, the "holy crap I'm gonna faint" low:  Lovely things, aren't they? /sarcasm  99% of the time these occur from too much insulin.  I never had these paralyzing lows before Dx when I was technically considered just "hypoglycemic".  (note:  insulin is NOT a cure!)  Unfortunately during these, I throw all procedure and counting out the window cuz I just want to come up NOW!  And these usually involve standing at the fridge chugging . . .

Generally, I have found apple juice easiest to chug.  Grape juice, orange juice, and cranberry juice are way too tart for me to chug through.  And if I start chugging soda, I become a burping monster after I've recovered.  Once I feel recovered from this type of low, I try to follow with a good protein snack to correct for anymore active insulin. 

Lows are just a part of life for diabetics.  We have enough stashes of candy, juice, sugar tablets, and the like to make the Tooth Fairy faint.  Sometimes they're fun to treat (dark chocolate Snickers) and other times they're so inconvenient (who wants to down sugar tablets after brushing your teeth?).  But at least we can get some ideas through Diabetes Blog Week of what methods are working for us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A BUSY day in the life . . . with diabetes

So, the first entry for Diabetes Blog Week is an average (if there is such a thing) day in the life of diabetes.  I recently took a personality test which revealed I'm 96% introvert.  Basically, 96% of the time I'm having an internal dialogue in my head.  So, I figured the best way to display an "average" day is to show a typical timeline of a workday for me including random thoughts that occur in my head that hardly anyone ever knows (feel privileged?).  Here we go:

5:00 AM:  Alarm radio begins.  Immediately hit the snooze button.  "Seriously, it can't be this early already . . ."

5:10 AM:  Alarm blares.  I let it play for 2 minutes and listen to what the weather will be like today. "Sweater."

5:12 AM:  Finally get out of bed and drag myself to the shower.  Turn it on.  Detach Arnold.  Slide in shower.  "I need to shave, but I don't have time.  Guess no skirt for today." 

5:30 AM:  Get out of the shower, robe on, reattach Arnold.  BG test:  163.  "Damnit! Never below 130!"  Fill a bowl of Kix cereal and milk. "25 grams of carbs for 1 cup plus 13 grams of carbs for 1 cup of milk equals 38 grams of carbs total."  BEEP(163 mg/dL)--BEEP(38 g)--BEEP(0.7u + 3.8u = 4.5u total)--BEEP(confirm).  Watch the local news and eat while Roscoe patiently awaits to lick the milk reside from my bowl.  "Spoiled mutt." 

6:00 AM:  Start getting ready while hubby slowly starts waking up.  Pills popped (generic Prilosec and vitamins).  Brush teeth.  Apply face lotion.  Begin drying my hair and get surprise by a butt squeeze.  "Hello, beautiful!"  "Hey, baby."  Get dressed.  Put make-up on, fix hair, jewelry, and shoes.  One last look in the mirror.  "I'm only 25, I shouldn't have all these line."

6:45 AM:  Say good-bye to hubby (yes, I know, he gets ready faster than me, but I'm a diabetic woman, reason alone for an extra hour and a half).  Pack my lunchbox (PB sandwich, carrots, Sun chips, apple, yogurt, 100 calorie popcorn).  Let Roscoe outside for the day.  "I really hope it doesn't rain.  He'll get wet and be scared from the lightning and thunder."  Call hubby and discuss leaving him inside, but decide to chance it out. 

7:00 AM:  Leave for work.  Commuting usually take 25-30 minutes from door-to-door.  Listen to morning radio by two sexy fat guys in Birmingham (if you're from the south, you know who they are).  Usually, I am crying from laughing so hard.  "Wish I was that clever."

7:25 AM:  Arrive at gate with the same security guard that I see everyday.  "Hey there, Gorgeous."  "Mornin'."  Go through the gate and arrive at my building.  Scan nifty key card.  BEEP!  Walk up 2 flights of stairs to my office.  Drop off my purse, sunglasses, and lunchbox.  Grab coffee mug and head to breakroom.  "Sweet! Coffee's made!"  Poor coffee and stir in hazelnut creamer.  Head back to office and bring up email.  Spend the next 2 hours checking email, programming buoy data, and general office "Good Mornin's" to my officemates. 

8:30 AM:  BG test:  146.  "Hmmm.  Should I have my yogurt now or later.  If I have it now I'll be either really hungry or low before lunch.  But if I have it later I may run into my 9:00 meeting going low."  Internal dialogue continues for 20 minutes before deciding to scarf down yogurt before 9:00 AM meeting.

10:00 AM:  9:00 AM meeting is over.  Check email again.  Program and check data analysis again.  Again.  Again.  Frustrated with wacky numbers and IM team member to for help.  He comes down to my office and he immediately finds my glitch.  "Tricky force field of only not-working-like-it-was-five-minutes-ago when someone else is around!"  Team mate goes on about his weekend activities after glitch.  "If he talks longer than 30 minutes my BG is gonna stop dropping."  He leaves just before I start getting sweaty and clammy.

11:30 AM:  BG test:  76.  "Just in time! Time for my PB sammich!"  BEEP(-0.8u)--BEEP(4.5u)--BEEP(3.7u total)--BEEP(confirm).  Eat lunch while checking D-blogs, PhD comics, LOLcats, and Eclipse movie stalking (June 30th, PEOPLE!).  Finish lunch and head out for a quick walk around my building to get out of my office and get some Vitamin-D.

12:30 PM:  Try to beat off the post-lunch droll and try to start data analysis again.

 2:00 PM:  BG test:  133.  Another snack:  popcorn!  Walk down to the breakroom and begin popping.  "Hope I don't burn it again and stink up the whole office."  Success!  Make officemates and generally the whole building jealous for the aroma.  "24 grams over 30 minute square bolus equals 2.4 units."  BEEP--BEEP--BEEP.

2:30-4:45 PM:  Generally varies depending on the day from being stuck in my office data analyzing or meetings or rush requests.

4:45 PM:  Turn basal rate down to 50% to prepare for my 30 minute walk when I get home.  (I'm still trying to figure out a good rate because I don't want to have to constantly correct with juice after working out.  Kinda defeats the purpose of working out, to me.)  Begin commute home from work.  Take the back roads because the main highway is already congested.  "Please don't hit me, big semi.  Please, don't hit me."

5:15 PM:  Arrive home and get slobbered by 60 lbs of lab love from Roscoe!  Start changing from work clothes to walking clothes, all while Roscoe is looking at me waiting for the magic phrase.  "Wanna go for a walk?!"  *ruff RUFF ruff*

5:30 PM:  Grab leash and head out the door.  We get half way down the driveway when "Crap, need to turn basal rate down again."  Turn basal rate down to 1% for one hour.  Take the trail through the woods connecting our neighborhood to the one down the street that has sidewalks (our street doesn't).  Spend the next 30 minutes saying, "Heel, Roscoe!" or "Don't eat that!" or "Come on . . . "  Roscoe must feel like a celebrity because all the dogs begin barking at him when he strolls down his red carpet, err, I mean sidewalk.

6:00 PM:  Arrive back home sweaty and generally crisp from the sun exposure.  Roscoe heads to his water bowl while I test.  BG test:  68.  "Fudge monkeys!  I'll get this figured out one day!"  Grab a juice box and begin to make dinner.  Hubby is home by now and takes a seat at the bar while we chat, he gets on his laptop, and I attempt to make something edible for us.  "Breaded fish.  Should it be breaded?  I'm still a little low from walking.  If we have green beans with it that makes it healthier.  But what else?  Corn?"

7:00 PM:  BG test:  86.  Eat dinner with hubby and talk about our day or the dog or weekend plans, etc.  Clean up the kitchen.  Clean out the cat litter box.  Veg out to The Office, Family Guy (or if it's Tuesday, American Idol and Glee).

9:00 PM:  BG test:  143.  "Really hope I wake up lower than this."  Climb in bed, wrapped in hubby's arms.  "Goodnight."  "Goodnight."  *smack*  Check Arnold's location in the bed.  Can't find him.  FREAK!  "Where's Arnold?!"  "He's on my side," hubby says.  "Here, take him back."  Position Arnold on my side within my curled legs.  "Hope I don't rip him out in the middle of the night."

Fade to black . . .

And that, folks, is a day in the life (or my head, at least) with diabetes.

Friday, May 7, 2010


The following two days in the hospital were a whirlwind.  Nurses came in at all hours to check my blood sugar, I desperately wanted a shower and to brush my teeth (couldn't shower cuz I was still in ICU, but they gave me a toothbrush and paste), and my friends and family came to visit.

The first visitor I remember was Jennifer's pastor.  She had called him after she and Trey admitted me.  He came in the room, introduced himself to my parents and me, and prayed with us.  My mom had tears in her eyes after he was done.  Later on that day my boss and her husband came by.  They came in my room briefly before a nurse came in and told me they needed to wait in the waiting area while she checked on me.  They wanted me to get up and try to walk a little.  So, my mom, me and my pee bag on a pole walked around the ICU lobby area.  Trey had come by after he got off work.  I walked into the waiting area with my parents, boyfriend, boss, her husband, and my pee bag.  Trey had gotten me a Get Well card that was "signed" (read: he listed names) by everyone in his family including Phil, his fish.  (Note:  Phil died shortly after I got out of the hospital.  I think the stress was too much for him to handle.) 

He held me in his arms, and I told him I was sorry.  "Why?" he asked.  "That you had to go through this," I said with tears streaming down my face.  If anybody had the worst role to play in this diagnosis show, it was Trey.  I can't imagine the roles being reversed and having to carry him to the hospital.  I wouldn't have been able to handle it.  He is so much stronger than I am.  I was out of it for most of the dramatic parts, but he was there when I was at my worst.  I've only ever seen the good and the bad; he's seen the ugly of diabetes. 

I finally got to eat the next day at lunch and was introduced to Diet Mountain Dew.  I remember the nurse telling me "Your blood sugar is below 350!  We can give you a different IV bag."  More testing, more sleeping, more Spongebob.  I was happy to finally get to eat, but my throat was so swollen from vomiting and dry heaving that all I could do was drink and eat small bites. 

The next day was more or roughly the same.  I attempted to study for my dynamics final that I missed, but my eyesight was still fuzzy.  I talked to a few people who found out I was in the hospital:  my brother, my supervisor, a few friends from school.  I was able to eat a little bit more.  More walking, more testing, more sleeping, more Spongebob.

The next morning during my breakfast, my endocrinologist came in and asked me if I wanted to go home.  "Please?!" I squealed.  He said I would have to go immediately to a diabetes class to learn how to test and give myself shots.  My mom came later with some clothes for me to wear out of the hospital, and some baby powder for my hair since I hadn't bathed in 3 days.  We picked up all my insulin and syringes at my closest pharmacy and head to the class.  One thing I was really grateful for at the class was that the CDE talked to me.  So far a lot of conversations had been towards my parents, "She's going to . . . She will have to . . ."  The CDE sat me in a chair right next to her, and we practiced giving a bean bag ball a shot of insulin.  I learned about carbs and testing and lancets and hypos.  Finally, I got to go home.

My mom dropped me off and let me shower while she went and got dinner for us that night.  I took about 2 showers worth of shampoo and soap, and just enjoyed being back in my apartment.  After I got dressed and came out, Trey was sitting at my computer desk.  Mom was in the kitchen making dinner, so we finally got a chance to be alone after this whole adventure.  I remember sitting in his lap and just hugging him.  This was by far the biggest thing I had ever gone through with a guy.  He was my hero. 

Fast forward:  I go home for Christmas and immediately went into "hiding" mode.  "I don't want to be known as the diabetic girl," I told my family on Christmas Eve.  That was the first year I didn't get Snickers in my stocking.  Seriously, Santa?!  I know carb counting!  I visit Trey's family for a few days after Christmas and go back to north Alabama and attempt to start my new life.  I graduate with my bachelor's degree, spend the summer as a camp counselor, start graduate school, and on October 29, 2007 I meet Arnold . . .

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Diagnosis Day

Note:  The following post is a recount of other people's testimony.  After Trey took me back to my apartment, I do not remember anything until I woke up in the hospital the next morning.  So, this is a 1.5-person testimony (story about me recounted by others but told by me, get it?  ahhh, nevermind!) of my diabetes diagnosis.  

After Trey took me back to my apartment, he and my roommate Jennifer attempted to take care of me and let me rest.  Trey fed me chicken noodle soup and Gatorade by the keg, because that's what the doc-in-box clinic doctors told him to do.  I was so out of it that Trey pretty much had to dress me for bed.

Once in bed, I never could get comfy.  I tossed and turned every 20-30 minutes waking up, wanting more Gatorade.  Meanwhile, Trey made a round of calls to my mom, his mom, the ER where I eventually ended up.  Trey's mom had once mentioned diabetes with all of my symptoms, but the clinic thought it was a stomach flu.

Monday, December 11, 2006:  Around 8:00 AM after I hadn't gotten any better or responsive, Trey and Jennifer dressed me and wheeled me out to my car in one of these wood-rolling chairs we had in our apartment.  Once I arrived in at the ER, the medical staff came out and tried to get a response out of me.  "Holly . . . Holly . . . Holly!"  All the while they were pounding on my chest to try and get me to wake up. After no response they took me away and admitted me.  I'm guessing at some point when they were doing all the vital tests, they checked my blood sugar.  My initial reading with a standard meter was so high that it couldn't register a number; the meter just said "HIGH".  They had to get out a higher precision meter when the striking number came back:  over 1400 (note:  I never got an exact number.  My guess is the medical staff look at the number and saw 1-4-#-# and said "Oh S&!T!")  I vaguely remember waking up at this point and seeing Jennifer's face and going back out again.  The nurse asked me where I was and for some reason I said "UAB"--the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  I suppose I thought I had gotten so sick they had to transport me to the UAB Hospital.

At some point during the night, my mom drove up.  The usual drive from south Alabama to north Alabama usually takes 5 hours.  My mother took about 3!  Around 11:00 AM, I woke up and my mom was sitting in the chair beside my bed.  Jennifer was still there, but she left soon after so she could shower and study for her final.  I vaguely remember things in the hospital that day.  I remember seeing an IV in my right arm.  I had this tube in my nose.  I was wearing one of those gowns without a back (I remember thinking, "Where am I and why am I naked?!")  A nurse came in and asked me if I needed anything, and I asked her to call my work to let them know I wouldn't be in today.  I also asked for another gown, to wear on my backside to be completely covered.  I remember telling my mom and nurse that I was thirsty (I was used to chugging Gatorade by the gallons).  They told me I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything, but I could have some ice to chew on. 

Some time that afternoon, my dad arrived.  I was lying in bed, IVs and wires all coming out of me--his little girl.  I remember seeing his face then he immediately turned around, his hands covering his eyes and mouth.  I could tell he was starting to cry.  "Hey, Baby!" he mustered.  "Dad, I'm OK.  I'm OK, Dad" I tried reassuring him.  At some point, he and my mom left to meet my endocrinologist.  (Trey told me later that he tells them that I'm lucky to be alive, and they have a good cry together.  So glad I didn't see that!)

Then, he comes in.  White coat and white hair, he looked important.  I sat up straight in my hospital bed, as if I could muster up any dignity lying there without any clothes minus my two hospital gowns.  My parents surrounded me, Mom on my left, Dad on my right.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, "Holly, you have developed type 1 diabetes, but it was nothing you did.  You didn't do anything wrong.  We'll have you here a few days until we get your sugars down, but we don't want to do it too fast."  

At this point, I didn't realize the magnitude of his words.  I knew they were giving me insulin, but they didn't tell me I would have to take it for the rest of my life (probably a good thing).  I remember my mom saying "She's not good with shots.  I don't know how she's going to handle this."  All I knew at the time was I just wanted to rest, and sleep, and chew ice.

My parents left around 9:00 PM, and I was left alone in this room.  Nurses came in all hours to check my blood sugar.  I remember watching a lot of Spongebob, because that was the most entertaining show available on the hospital's cable network (plus, it was less serious than the atmosphere around me, a release).  I remember looking out the window from the 3rd floor.  It was December in Alabama, and I was supposed to be on Christmas break.  I remember looking outside my window and praying, "Lord, whatever this means, I want You with me."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How it all began . . .

I'll try to write as much as I can remember.  It's been over three years, but I still remember the major highlights.

It was the fall of 2006, my last fall semester as an undergrad.  My major was physics, but I was taking my specialty courses in atmospheric science since I was planning on starting grad school in that department the following year.  I was stressed out, but pretty happy with my life overall.  School was exciting.  I had been dating the same guy for over 2 years, an engineering major named Trey.  I made some girlfriends in the atmospheric science department, which was a refreshing change from the mostly male Physics Department.  I played intramural football and kicked major butt!

Around Thanksgiving is when I started to feel weird.  I remember becoming extremely thirsty; I would down 2 bottles of water before even leaving my apartment for school.  I guess that was the first symptom--thirst.  My hands were so dry and cracked that they started to bleed.  I blamed it on the cool, fall weather and my lack of lotion.  I became very fatigued even to the point of sitting in the bathroom at school for 10 minutes to take a nap.  I thought it was all just stress because of school and starting my senior project and graduating and . . . Then it became to difficult to see things far away.  Who am I kidding?  I couldn't even see the TV from the couch!  It got so bad that I asked my classmate next to me to take notes for me in class and Xerox them later because I couldn't see the board.  Between school and general Internet use, I thought my eyes were finally giving way.  This was all too bizarre.  Finally, I googled all my symptoms and found "diabetes".

I burst into tears and immediately called my mom who is also a nurse.  She said, "Honey, you have to be tested for that.  You're probably just stressed from school.  We'll get you checked when you come home for Christmas."  I didn't make it that far.  I tried to ignore it all because finals were coming up. 

Over a 60-hour period was how long I went from cheering at a hockey game to laying in a hospital bed.

Friday, December 8, 2006:  Went to our college hockey team's game that night.  I was so thirsty I drank 2 large Dr. Pepper's.  Went out to dinner afterwards with some friends where I puked in the bathroom.  I felt so crappy I only had a few pieces of bread and shrimp for dinner.  Tried to go to sleep that night but didn't because I kept getting up every few hours to pee. 

Saturday, December 9:  Slept in 'til almost lunch time.  Got a shower and tried to eat some pizza my roomate had made.  Went over to Trey's house to try and study for my dynamics final on Monday.  I kept throwing up at all times throughout the day.  My routine had become drink, pee, throw up, drink, pee, throw up, etc.

Sunday, December 10:  I woke up and immediately called Trey.  There was no way I was going to make it to church that day.  I could barely get out of bed.  He came over and dragged me to this walk-in clinic just down the street from my apartment (my brother affectionately calls it a doc-in-box).  I puked twice while I was in the waiting room.  When they finally took me they tried to get a blood sample from my veins but they were so dried up it took them 3 tries.  They informed that there was this stomach bug going around making people fatigued and vomitting.  (Looking back on it now, I wonder why they didn't think diabetes?!)  They hooked me up and gave me 2 bags of IV's (i.e. sugar water) and told Trey to keep giving me fluids for awhile and some antibiotics.  So, we went to the grocery store and bought Gatorade, chicken soup, popsicles, and jello.  I puked in the aisle with the popsicles.

We finally make it back to Trey's house where I collapsed on the couch.  At this point I called one of friends from school to ask the TA if I could take my Dynamics final later in the day because I needed to sleep (my final was scheduled for 8:00 AM).  For anybody that knows me personally, this shows how sick I really was.  Only if I was on my death bed (literally), do I miss school.  Tried to eat some jello, but threw up.  The last thing I remember was around 9:30 PM when I started yelling at Trey, "I want to go home!"  (He told me later I was barely whispering, but I remember "screaming" with all my strength.)

We make it back to my apartment, I stumbled across the parking lot like a drunk person.  Trey had to catch me before I fell on the sidewalk.

I think this is plenty to digest for now.  Tomorrow I'll post about what happened while I was "out of it".

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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE) or any medical professional of any kind. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!) Therefore, please do not use any of my postings as medical fact. I am simply a blogger expressing my highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes. For changes in your medication, exercise regiment, or diet please consult a qualified physician.

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My name is Holly and I live in north Alabama with my hubby, two cats, and a dog.