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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flu Shot Choice?

This morning, I got my flu shot.  My neighborhood community center was holding a free flu clinic from 9 AM to 3 PM.  Because this was a publicly-advertised free flu clinic, I knew I had to get there early.  I went to a similar flu clinic last year and got there an hour before the shots started, and I was #50-something in line.  So, today I got there at 7:30 AM and was #11 in line.  Sweet! 

The wait in line was like riding on an airplane.  I tried to awkwardly make small talk with the gentleman next to me.  We discussed our jobs, allergies, and wondered if they were actually going to give us numbers or follow the already-huge line.  Eventually, a lady came by with scrap pieces of paper with numbers written on them and tore off #11 for me.  I chuckled with the gentleman next to me, "Now I feel like I'm somebody.  I have a number!"  He laughed, too, then we filled out a form on a clipboard.  Name, DOB, address, and on the back a list of questions like "Have you ever had a reaction to a vaccine?", "Do you have any long-term health problems like . . . [blah blah blah], diabetes, [blah blah blah]."  And at the bottom, it said, "Just because you answered 'yes' to any of these questions doesn't mean you won't get the shot, you just may have to wait." 

Wait?!  I got here at ferning 7:30 AM, and now just because I have diabetes I may have to wait longer?!  I worried about it for a split-second, but by then they were calling numbers.  It was then that I kind of had an ironic thought:  The lobby of the community center was easily packed with over 200 people, all of them waiting to get the flu shot.  What are the chances that someone in that room already had the flu and was exposing everyone around them to it.  The vaccine takes up to 2 weeks to take full effect, but we could all be sick right now and not know it.  I smiled at the irony. 

"Numbers 11 through 20, come forward."  I grabbed my form, little number strip, and my coffee mug (I wasn't waiting until after 9 AM for coffee) and headed to the little room.  I gave my form to the community center worker, got in line, and unbuttoned my sweater for the nurse to put it in my arm.  The nurse motioned me to sit in the chair.  I sat down, she looked at my form and gave it to the nurse behind the table.  "Whew," I thought, "no more waiting."  She took out the needle and began to swab my arm.  I turned my head and closed my eyes.  Even though I've had diabetes for almost 4 years, I still don't like needles unless I'm the one handling it.  I clinched when I felt the needle pierce my skin, then it was out, then I got a bandaid.  "There you go," she said.  "Thanks." 

This was right before they started calling numbers.  Madness!

I'm vaccinated!  The thought is a little comforting, even with all the stuff "they" say about vaccines.  I've heard and read several people talking about this issue, and they all make great points.  The problem is, I really don't feel I have a choice in the matter.  Regardless of what exactly is in the vaccine, I really can't afford to get the flu. 

(The first flu season following my diagnosis, I had the flu.  I didn't realize that's what I had until it was over it and I was explaining my "cold symptoms" to someone.  But all the signs were there:  faucet for a nose, fever, muscle aches, no appetite, and BGs cruising in the 300s.  I was in grad school, trying to finish up a hefty homework assignment.  If I was sick, I ignored the fact in order to get my assignment done.  I had to force myself to drink some chocolate meal drinks just so I could get some nutrition in me.  When I was in class, I could barely sit still because my lower back ached so much.  No doubt now, I had the flu.  Looking back on it , I was very irresponsible.  Not only was I putting my health at risk, but also my coworkers and classmates.  I had to learn to take a day off when I was sick, something I wasn't used to pre-D being the ambitious student I was.) 

I'm not going to judge anyone's decision on whether to get the flu shot or not, but I just personally feel with my already compromised immune system that I can't take the risk.  And growing up with a mom who was an immunization director has helped me stay informed.  This shot was the combined shot, including the vaccine for H1N1.  I feel that the shot is safe with no risks of any weirdness or turning into a piggie.  *oink oink*  Being sick with diabetes just makes things too complicated and scary.  In the game of diabetes, defense and preplanning is the key.  So next year, I'll roll up my sleeve, turn my head, and close my eyes, just as bravely as I did today. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Get High in the Morning

Don't let the title of my post confuse you, I'm talking about my blood sugar.  Several members of the DOC have mentioned about having to up their insulin in the last week.  I don't have any scientific research that proves that changing seasons messes with insulin sensitivity, but this all seems very freaky. 

In the last two weeks, I have up both my morning basal rates by 0.1 units.  My total daily basal insulin amount has gone up from 15.0 units (I love when it is exact like that!) to 15.9 units.  This morning I woke up at 103 mg/dL and that's much better than the 150s-160s I had been waking up to.  I've also had to give up my routine morning cereal because it seems I can't keep from peaking above 250 mg/dL, even if I take my insulin 30 minutes beforehand. 

So, this morning I decided to change things up a bit and see if I can keep below 200 mg/dL until noon.  I decided to have a whole grain waffle with peanut butter and a glass of milk, a total of 32 grams which is only 1 gram less than my Kashi cereal.  So far I've peaked at 150 mg/dL and started going slowly down (currently 133 mg/dL 2-hours post-prandial).  And thanks to Sara, I gave myself 0.5 units before I got in the shower this morning, which seemed to help that initial spike after I wake up and the dawn phenomenon. 

Now that's a breakfast curve!

I'm hoping things have settled out a little bit with this crazy weather change.  I've got several activities coming up and I need diabetes to behave.  Also, I'm getting my flu shot tomorrow morning (boo!  I hate needles unless I'm the one handling them.).  The last thing I need messing up my favorite season is a pesky flu. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

He Brings Me Bananas

I have a love/hate relationship with Saturday mornings.  I love sleeping in!  I typically sleep until 8 or 9 AM on a given Saturday.  However, since I only have one set of basal rates, Arnold still thinks I'm getting up at 5 AM for a normal workday.  Therefore, my morning basal that kicks in at 3 AM to help conquer the dawn phenomenon during the week leads to a low around 7 AM on a Saturday.  It's very inconvenient to sleeping in when you have a beeping little nuisance under your pillow. 

Trey does not like to sleep in.  He usually gets up several hours before me, makes coffee, and gets on the computer for an hour or two while I snooze.  I must admit, having a CGM has done wonders for our marriage and my diabetes.  I typically don't like to make diabetes a topic of conversation between us, but with Constance constantly beeping at me, she has made Trey more away of my diabetes and how varying my numbers can be.  Pre-CGM, Trey only ever saw the paralyzing lows with me, sweaty laying on the couch, clutching a bottle of juice, and only managing a few words of speak like, "Low . . . juice . . . bunny."  Bunnies have nothing to do with lows, but incoherent speak has been expected with my lows.  But now that Trey can "see" my diabetes in action as much as I can, he's taken to letting me know I need to do something. 

This past Saturday, Trey woke up to Constance beeping.  I didn't hear her, so he grabbed her from underneath my pillow where he saw "LOW.  Under 70 mg/dL." and the screen showed 67 mg/dL with a slight southeast arrow.  "Holly, you're low."  I mumbled something I don't remember, then Trey said, "Do you want a banana?"  "Mmmm hmmm."  "OK, I'll bring you a banana."  Before I knew it, a banana appeared on my side of the bed.  Trey standed over me long enough to make sure I ate it, then he went to the kitchen to make coffee and let me sleep in.  I was able to sleep in 2 more hours and woke up at 127 mg/dL. 

I love my husband.  He puts up with me and my diabetes, and he brings me bananas (as opposed to driving me bananas). 

Filled with love and 27 grams of fast-acting carbs.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Five: 24 September 2010

Welcome to Fall!  Even though it's still in the 90s this week for where I live, it's officially the fall season.  I must admit, this is my favorite season of the year.  The refreshingly cool weather following the Alabama summer feels so good, especially when a breeze blows across a grassy field and gives me goosebumps.  I also love the vibrant colors on the trees when the leaves begin to change.  I love visiting my in-laws in Tennessee during this time of the year (not that I don't love visiting them any other time, promise) because I get my fall leaf mecca that soothes my soul.  And, of course, the fires.  There's something about the fall season and fires that goes together like Nutella and strawberry preserves (what?!  peanut butter and jelly is the ONLY analogy I can use?).  This is the first fall in our new house, and we've been collecting firewood ever since a lightning strike killed a tree in our backyard.  But one of the other reasons I love this season is the seasonal foods that come out at the same time.  And this Friday Five is dedicated to some of those seasonal additions to the stores that make me just as excited as a bright orange maple leaf. 

  1. Starbuck's has brought back their fall drinks, including my favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte.  This drink is kind of heavy on the carbs, so I try to stick to the tall and get it skinny.  If I want to skip the carbs, I also enjoy the seasonal Anniversary Blend, which is a bold yet spicy brew.  For me, the bolder the better the coffee with as little amount of creamer as possible.   Either way, this season is when I enjoy coffee the most because the warm caffeine combined with a cool breeze is just heaven.  
  2. Chili!  What could be better than coming home after a cold day and walk in the door to an overwhelming scent of tomatoes, spices, and beans roasting in a crock pot.  I enjoy making soups all throughout the year, but chili is one of those things that warms the body, soul, and home.  Plus most chilis are loaded with protein, so depending on if there's cornbread involved or not I rarely have to bolus for chili.  
  3. Fall Beers!  Specifically, Sam Adam's Octoberfest.  They also have a harvest collection 12-pack that includes other fall flavors including Black Lager which has carmel and chocolate in it.  Yum!  Most of these beers are on the order of 20-30g carbs each, but alcohol lowers BG so there's a counterattack going on.  I usually try to have a beer either with dinner or a snack to help prevent the low that comes after the beer.  
  4. Halloween Candy!  OK, so this isn't specifically a "fall" food, but I love all the different candies that come in small, bite-size packages.  After we buy way, WAY too much candy for the handful of kids that come through our neighborhood, I save all these treats for potential low treaters.  Or just because, you know, if we're gonna have extra anyway . . . *blush*  
  5. And just to add something relatively healthy to this list, apples!  Specifically, caramel apples at that.  But it doesn't have to be strictly caramel.  There's a candy store close to me that does dark chocolate covered or while chocolate covered with candy worms or Oreo crumblings or sprinkles or *drool* . . . If I'm feeling adventurous to conquer one of these, I try to get it presliced (because let's face it, trying to eat those things straight up will guarantee I'll need a shower afterward), split it with Trey, and bolus about 2 units per slice.  

I hope this post doesn't have you running to the nearest Starbuck's or candy store, but I hope you join me in embracing this fall season.  It truly is a great time of year because of all the reasons mentioned above and it means the holidays are right around the corner!  What are some of your favorite fall foodies? 

Have a great weekend!

(Hey!  I went through a whole post about fall without talking about football.  That's progress, people!) 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Food Recovering Meme

I'm still way burnt out from our trip last week.  I finally unpacked all of our clothes from our huge suitcase, but have yet to actually fold them and put them away.  The dogs keep finding new ways to dirty themselves in the yard, and the cats are one swift kick away from being ally cats.  Thus, a meme is in order.  I got this meme from Kerri and it's about food.  I actually missed cooking for us while we were traveling, so this meme resonates with me. 

1. Can you cook? If yes, do you like to cook?
I guess anybody "can" cook, but the talent for making good food is something else.  In other words, yes, I can cook.  And I actually like to cook, too.  It is kind of soothing after a long day to be lost in the scent of minced garlic and olive oil heating up in the skillet.  If only that were a candle scent . . .

2. When do you eat with your whole family?
Trey and I eat together everyday for dinner and sometimes for lunch (we are brown baggers most of the time).  We see our extended family maybe once a month, and there's usually one big meal with all of us together then. 

3. What do you eat for breakfast?
Cereal, almost always.  Sometimes I'll make a fried egg if I have the time.  Oh, and coffee, of course. 

4. When, where and how do you eat on weekdays?
This question is very instrusive.  Are you trying to stalk me?  Breakfast is usually on the couch while watching the morning news, lunch is at my desk, and dinner is at home either at our bar or the dining table.  How do I eat?  Like a caveman (cavewoman?) with both my hands filled while they rotate shoving into my mouth, of course! 

5. How often do you eat out (in a restaurant)?
Well, last week, it was once a day.  But most of the time it's about once or twice a week. 

6. How often do you order delivery/take-out?
Maybe once a week (can I combine this with #5?) and it's either pizza or Chinese, it's our splurge for the week. 

7. Regarding no. 5 and 6: Say there weren’t financial reasons would you do this more often?
I'm not sure.  Of course we take our lunch most of the time for financial reasons, but I've gotten to the point where I really like to cook so it would at least be a hobby.  Plus eating out = more calories, so I'm not sure I'd want the extra weight. 

8. Are there any “standard dishes” you serve regularly?
We typically have meatloaf, quesadillas, and some type of spaghetti meal once a week.  

9. Have you ever cooked for more than 6 persons?
Yes and no.  We were planning to have 8 people over one night for pizza, beer, and card games.  So I prepared 3 homemade pizzas, but only 5 people came.  So I've prepared for that many, does that count? 

10. Do you cook every day?
Every day, no.  Even if we're reheating something, I don't consider that cooking. 

11. Have you ever tried recipes from blogs?
I have about 30 recipes saved here.  They have a ton of selections plus the nutritional info! 

12. Who cooks more frequently at your home?

I do, but Trey actually taught me how to cook most of the stuff I make.  Kind of the student surpassing the teacher thing. 

13. And who cooks better?
I think he would say I do, obviously, but any meal where I don't have to clean up afterward makes it the best. 

14. Do you cook totally different compared to your mother/parents?
A little.  We each have our own style, but I call her sometimes to get tips. 

15. If yes, do you nevertheless eat at your parents?
She's a southern cook, so YES!!!

16. Are you a vegetarian or could you imagine being one?

No and never.  I like my meat too much. 

17. What would you like to cook which you haven’t dared to make yet?
My mom's turkey dressing.  It's a family recipe that takes a couple years to master.  I haven't even started.  =(

18. Do you prefer cooking or baking?
Definitely cooking.  Usually whatever I try to bake ends up in flames (i.e. burnt). 

19. What is your greatest misery in the kitchen?
Having to get things that are above the 2nd shelf.  I have a stool that I just move from one shelf to another, but I think we should have put in one of those rotating ladders like you see in old libraries. 

20. What do you dislike?
Asparagus, coleslaw, basically anything that can be made with vinegar.  Blech! 

Yay food!  =P 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall Has Officially Started

There are certain signs in the weather that show the changing of the seasons.  For fall, we feel a coolness in the air, we see changing colors on leaves, we begin to see frost.  But there's also another sign that fall is soon around the corner:  insulin resistance!  That's right, as the air temperature drops, so does my sensitivity to insulin.

Case in point:  last night's dinner.  I made chicken quesadillas with rice, cheese, and 15 different kinds of beans (holy protein!).  This dinner was relatively mild on the carbs, only 31 grams, with a nice amount of protein to help keep things steady.  I peaked at 250 mg/dL with this meal, which kind of surprised me, but I leveled out at 123 mg/dL before bedtime with less than a unit of active insulin on board.  I thought I was set for a nice streamline when I woke up this morning.

But around 4:00 AM I woke up to a high alarm from Constance, 184 mg/dL.  I thought this was weird, but I knew I was starting to see a climb in my numbers around this time when I first got on Dexcom.  I started to see this climb again during our beach trip, but I chalked it up to not eating the greatest.  But it seems this trend occurs around the first week of fall and follows me through the holidays.  When I got up an hour later I was up to 206 mg/dL according to my meter.  After correcting and taking my bolus for breakfast, I was still streaming in the 180s before my breakfast peaked at 275 mg/dL!

It's really frustrating because I felt like I had this routine down for so long and it usually resulted in a 180 mg/dL peak AT MAX!  Now I'm seeing fasting numbers at that level with post-meal numbers even higher.  I think it might be time to bump up my midnight basal so as to hopefully control this problem.  It's either the changing weather or a bad vial (which is possible considering my vial just spent over 24 hours in a car traveling last week, even with an ice pack I'm not sure it would last that long), but I won't know until I change my site in a few days.  I'll probably wait to change my basals then or at my endo appointment next month.

For the most part, I love fall and it's my favorite season.  But this change is one I can't tolerate!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Diabetes at the Beach

Hello!  I'm back from my trip to the beach, and we had a great time!  I want to thank everyone who guest blogged in my absence.  It turned out to be a great source of inspiration for me to see what other people come up with.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 

Now that I'm back from the beach, there are so many things I want to share.  For the most part, my blood sugar levels stayed on track while we were there.  My average was 146 mg/dL for the week, according to Constance.  Considering it was a week long vacation with plenty of SWAG bolusing, I'd say that was pretty good.  I had some major highs, mainly from not waiting 30 minutes after taking my insulin to eat (and who wants to do that on vacation, pssht!).  I also had some lows, especially after battling the waves in the beach and jet skiing.  Constance saved my butt on those occassions because the adrenaline from those activities overshadowed my  hypo unawareness, so I was catching a lot of lows in the 60s with no symptoms.  But that's the extremely shortened version of the trip. 

On Saturday we drove down to lovely Cocoa Beach, making a lunch stop in Savannah, Georgia to meet a friend.  I've never been to Savannah, but our short lunch stop made me want to go back!  The beautifully restored houses along cobbled stone streets right on the water made me feel like I was in a place where time stood still.  Were it not for the tourist trolly and the many people carrying smart phones (myself included), I would have thought we were somewhere in the 19th century!  I fully expected to see Scarlet O'Hara passing by me in a sun dress with an umbrella.  What made the trip even more memorable was the fact that I chose to read listen via audiobook during our trip to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, which is a nonfiction novel about a murder that happens in Savannah.  Now that I'm done (awesome book, by the way!), I want to go back and visit all the places mentioned in the book.  Guess I'll have to settle for renting the movie. 

On Sunday, we went to orientation where we received a rundown of the beach clubs' activities for that week, and then we made our way to the beach.  The water was warm and clear the whole week, we couldn't have asked for better conditions.  The waves were nice and playful, too, if waves could be such things.  I've always enjoyed jumping over and into waves when they break, but Trey introduced me to a new activity--boogie boarding!  He taught me how to jump on top of the waves right as they're breaking and how to remain stiff as a board while the water carried you to shore.  Once I got the hang (ten!) of it, I loved it!  We played in the water for about 45 minutes before I started feeling fuzzy.  I brought my OneTouch Mini with me for easy testing from the beach bag.  Sure enough, I was in the low 100s and dropping.  Breaking waves is a perfect exercise for bringing down my BG. 

Cowabunga, Dudes!

That night we went to Port Canaveral and had dinner while we watched the Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, and Disney cruise ships leave the port.  I experienced grilled mahi mahi for the first time and it was delicious!  We also saw the happiest weimaraner dog who hung out on the front of his owner's boat while he cleaned fish. 

View from our table looking at the Royal Caribbean ship, the biggest of the three.  

Just chillin' out, maxin', relaxin', being all cool. 

Another BG lowering event took place on Tuesday when we rented jet skiis.  Igor was beginning to churn up the waves along the Atlantic Coast, so our ride was quite choppy and bumpy.  We even went completely air born a few times.  When we got back, my legs were shaking so bad I thought I was having an extreme adrenaline rush.  I might have been, but I was also low--test resulted at 61 mg/dL post-skiing.  Unfortunately, I forgot my little bag of glucose tabs and had to run to the nearest establishment with sugar.  Luckily, the closest place was a smoothie and sandwich restaurant, so I boosted my BG with a peanut butter and blueberry treat.  I actually passed on the protein supplement because I thought it might have tampered the sugar absorption.  (Note:  Drinking a smoothie really fast while low results in multiple brain freezes.  Ouch!

On Wednesday, Trey decided he wanted to go golfing and I tagged along.  When we got to the place, they had a big sign that said, "No Personal Coolers."  I looked at my little blue cooler filled with drinks and candy and asked Trey, "What are we gonna do?"  "You're diabetic, we're taking the cooler."  I hate having to pull the D-card like that, but we just implemented the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  We stuffed the cooler in the back of the cart behind Trey's clubs, and no one was the wiser.  Fun note:  Trey got paired up with an Irishman named David, and I loved hearing him talk!  I'm sure our accents were just as atrocious (especially mine), but I must admit I giggled a little everytime he talked.  He and I actually talked diabetes for a few minutes and he told me he had a friend who died of type 1 at 26 because she never took care of herself.  "Huh, well I'm 25, almost 26.  But I have an insulin pump and a CGM."  I showed him my bionic parts and he was amazed.  "Aye, I bet that's much better to manage then, isn't it?"  Giggling, "Yes." 

The golfers out on the course, notice the inlet river in the background.

The rest of the week was mainly spent around the beach club/beach/pool, with ventures to go out to eat or shopping.  I got sunburnt while listening to my book on the beach, awesomeness!  Our last day we went out to downtown Cocoa and shopped in their little village.  I picked up a cruise ship charm for my charm bracelet to commemorate the trip.  On Saturday we checked out and drove up to my parents' for the night for dinner and the Auburn game, which about gave me a heart attack (overtime and a field goal!).  We finished the trip on Sunday where we were greeted to lots of slobbery kisses from the dogs.  The cats just sniffed us and jumped in our laps. 

Greetings from our condo patio!

Now for the daunting task of trying to unpack . . .

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guest Post: Shopping Under the Diabetic Influence

Today's guest post comes from Jacquie and she talks about some low shopping.  I have to admit I've been in this situation too many times to count.  Perhaps I'll do my own post on it later, but I won't steal Jacquie's thunder.  Take it away, Jacquie!  

In the last 20 years of my diabetic life, I like to think that I've mastered the art of doing almost everything -- sleeping, beachgoing, driving, exercising -- with diabetes at my side.

To this day, however, there's a glaring absence in that list of skills: shopping.

I kind of hate shopping for clothes anyway, diabetes aside. There are always too many people wandering around, all the stores seem to have the same ugly clothes (Jeggings? Really, everyone?), the music is too upbeat and the saleswomen are too attentive.

And then, there's the crippling case of hypoglycemia that never fails to join me in the dressing room at my third or fourth stop. I don't know if it's the sensory overload or the stress of not being able to find pants that aren't at least 11 inches too long, but something about the shopping experience renders me incredibly insulin sensitive for several hours.

The best part about it is that I'm usually too freaked out about the prospect of shopping itself to remember to bring any emergency eats with me. A few weeks ago I was forced to buy a pound of jellybeans at the gift store next to Ann Taylor LOFT because I didn't have enough change to get a 20-ounce Coke out of the machine. Let me tell you: nothing puts you in the mood to buy a new pair of pants more than digging into a pound of candy in a dressing room.

Not to mention the actual physical challenges of taking the pump on and off with every skirt or shirt I want to try on -- and trying not to snag the tape on my sensor with a price tag or a rogue zipper. Lately I've taken to completely disconnecting the pump and tossing it in my purse while I'm trying stuff on. It works -- especially if my blood sugar's tanking -- but there's always that moment of panic when I'm convinced I left the pump in the dressing room. (I haven't yet, thank goodness.)

Soon, the weather will start to cool, one of my pairs of jeans will spring a hole, and I'll be forced to return to the stores to stock up on shirts that don't make me look like a sausage and pants with enough pocket space to hold my insulin pump. I'm going to try to experiment with some temporary basal rates and some solid, protein-filled pre-shopping meals. And I'll make sure I bring some glucose tabs or granola bars along for the ride.

Anything to avoid that moment when the saleslady knocks on the dressing room door to ask how I'm doing, and I respond: "Can you bring me this shirt in a large? And 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates?"

Nice top.  Did you get this while low shopping? 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Guest Post: Weird Low Symptoms

Today's guest post comes from my favorite diabetic across the pond (Atlantic Ocean), Becky.  Becky tweets and blogs over at Instructions Not Included, a perfect title for a dblog!  Today she talks about having weird low symptoms (aren't they all?!) and deciding when to test.  I must agree, when in doubt, TEST!  

A lot of us second guess ourselves. I think it's natural. The thing I've found, though, is that I tend to think twice over a lot of things now that I previously would have taken for granted.  A prime example is the weather. I've always been one for not gauging it properly, and then dressing completely inappropriately for the temperature (layers are your friend, by the way). However, waves of heat on my legs are actually one of my (more peculiar) hypo symptoms. As is shivering. So when I find myself feeling particularly hot or cold, there's always the question in my mind as to whether it's totally natural, or if it's a hypo-related thing. It gets annoying.

Earlier today, I was feeling really tired. Which is perfectly understandable, as I've been busy working  on a project, and I've had more than a few late nights recently. But of course, it was actually because I was hypo, and I'd slipped down to 3.3mmol/l (59mg/dl). Lovely.

There are days when I get more than a little frustrated at having to think things over. Is the train I'm going to be on likely to be delayed? If so, by how long? Do I need to put cereal bars or similar in my handbag? Am I feeling dizzy because I'm low, or did I just stand up too fast a moment ago, and now have a head-rush? Is the fact I'm really thirsty because I haven't had enough to drink, or it's too warm, or I've just eaten something salty, or am I high?

I could go on listing, but if you're reading this, you most likely know the score. Sometimes you have to stop yourself, and go 'hang on a minute, you're drinking a lot because you just ate that bacon (or something equally salty)', and you'll be right. The thing that is harder is when the answer isn't quite so clear cut. Then you've got to test and be sure. You could ignore it, but what if you're wrong? That's the worrying point. Sometimes it does pay to think twice.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guest Post: Another Bionic Woman

Today's guest post comes from Adriana who blogs and tweets.  She's channeled her inner bionic woman and blogged about when she went on the pump 18 years ago and had to be hospitalized.  Wow!  Thanks, Adriana for sharing this story. 

Hey! I’m Adriana and I blog over at Living Life with Diabetes. I’m excited to be guest posting for Holly while she is off at the beach. I’m so jealous!

While I was thinking about what to write about for this blog post the idea of “bionic woman” kept coming to mind. Holly has talked a lot about being the bionic woman what with Arnold her trusty pump and now Constance her new CGM.

At age 7, in 1988, I was diagnosed with diabetes.  It came as a huge shock to the family but we all adjusted as best we could. In July 1992 at age 11 my endocrinologist put me on an insulin pump. At the time I was the youngest person in the area to have been put on the pump. This meant that I didn’t know anybody else who was on the pump. In fact it would be a few years until I met somebody who also wore a pump.

I remember pulling into the hospital that would be my home for the next week while I adjusted to the insulin pump and learned how to use it. Yes, I was admitted into the hospital! Looking up at the hospital all I could see was a jail. In my 11 year old mind that was what the hospital was. I wanted to be hanging out at the mall with my friends instead of being in hooked up to some machine 24/7 and spending a week in the hospital. You could say I didn’t have the greatest attitude.

Over the course of the next week my mom and I learned all about carb counting (such a new thing at the time,) basal rates, infusion sites, and all the blood testing involved. One day I was given a get-out-of-jail-free card for 2 hours so my mom and I went to Michael’s and bought arts and crafts supplies. Standing in the parking lot I felt different. I felt like I belonged in the hospital.

That feeling of belonging in the hospital took a long time to go away. I hated and loved the pump. Sometime in my early twenties I started to feel like my insulin pump was just another body part. Up until November of last year I only wore my pump hidden away in my bra so nobody could see. I would stick my hand down my shirt wherever I was to pull it out to bolus but never felt comfortable wearing it anywhere else. For some reason since November it is on my belt or pocket all the time. I don’t care anymore.

I wish I could tell my 11 year old self that just because I wore an insulin pump it didn’t mean I belonged in a hospital. The insulin pump has been amazing for me and I’m so glad and proud I’ve been on it for 18 years. I do wonder what 11 year old me would think about my CGM?

Adriana's pink Animas Ping insulin pump.  Pretty!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guest Post: Letting Go

My first guest post this week comes from Phyllis Post (hey!).  She tells the story of her son's diagnosis (that was very close to mine, in story and date) and learning to let him take control of his diabetes as he grows up.  Phyllis blogs about quilts and books with happy endings.  Thank you so much, Phyllis, for filling in today.  

It was like a scene in a TV medical drama. At around 4:00 am in a nearly deserted ER of the large children’s hospital near our Midwestern home, the triage nurse took a good look at our 10-year-old son and muttered, “I don’t like the look of this.” She immediately came around from behind the desk, grabbed the wheelchair he was in and rushed down the hallway yelling, “I need a resident in here, stat!” Doctors and nurses came out of nowhere and gathered around our son as they tested him and hooked him up to all manner of machines. Somewhere in there I heard the “D” word, but it would be over a day later before I even began to understand just what that word would mean for our family of 3.

That was how our Thanksgiving weekend ended in 2006. Now, nearly 4 years later, I rarely look back to try and remember what life was like without diabetes. Instead I am thankful that God promises to work for the good of all those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). And in all sincerity, there is a lot of good for us to see. Our friends and family have been so supportive. My employer in particular has made it possible for me to work around the rather insane schedule of medical appointments we now deal with. We have insurance. We still have our son who has handled having this disease with grace and good humor.

He’s in high school now. He just started as a freshman at the end of August. And it’s a whole new ballgame because the school nurse doesn’t keep a close eye on her diabetic charges unless they specifically ask for help. She tells me that few of them do. Instead it’s up to him now to count his carbs, bolus correctly, and pay attention (!) to what his body is telling him. Those 8 hours at school each day are the training ground for him to be living someday independently 24/7 with his diabetes. Those 8 hours at school each day are also the training ground for my husband & I to learn how to let him go. It’s hard enough to let go of a child as it is, but one day we’ll have to let go of his diabetes management, too.

These are treacherous waters. There are so many pitfalls facing teenagers; how do we help him avoid all of the normal ones as well as the one we never expected? There are no easy answers, no matter what issues we face as parents. I’ve spent a good bit of the last 4 years learning everything I can about diabetes. Blogs like Holly’s here help me understand some of the things my son will have to deal with when he’s on his own. So to all of you D-bloggers out there, I heart-felt “Thank You!” for what you do. I’m so grateful for the accumulated wisdom and knowledge that I find here in cyberspace. I don’t think we’d have adapted nearly as well as if we had if it hadn’t been for so many of you out there maintaining sites where I can lurk to my heart’s content.

Prov. 22:6 says “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” We apply this to everything, including diabetes, and then we simply remember that when all is said and done, God is in control. He loves us and will always be there for us and for our son. Life is about far more than diabetes and we do our best to always remember that.

Picture of Phyllis with author Brenda Novak who runs an annual auction to benefit diabetes research (Phyllis is the one on the right). 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Five: A Diabetes Meme

I know, this isn't technically five, but I'm feeling memed and this one from Kerri is specifically for diabetics.  Plus, my mind is simply mush from trying to get ready to leave for the beach, so I needed some assistance today.  I've got some great guests posts lined up for next week, so enjoy!

What type of diabetes do you have:  type 1 diabetes also known as juvenile diabetes

When were you diagnosed:  December 11, 2006--coming up on 4 years!!!!

What's your current blood sugar:  I just checked and I'm 103 mg/dL, I'm a diabetes commercial!

What kind of meter do you use:  oh my goodness, I actually had to take it out to look, it's a One Touch UltraLink for my Medtronic Minimed 522 insulin pump

How many times a day do you test your blood sugar:  On a good day, 6 (once before each meal and once 2 hours after), but it's usually 8 for waking and sleeping readings, too

What's a "high" number for you:  I cringe at anything over 200 mg/dL

What's do you consider "low":  Below 60 mg/dL is like really low, but I can function in the high 60s.  Don't worry, Constance's alarm is still set at 70 mg/dL.

What's your favorite low blood sugar reaction treater:  apple juice is easiest to chug when I'm really low, but I love me a good Snicker's bar, too  =P

Describe your dream endo:  One that doesn't take a month to sign something and less than an hour to be seen.  I don't mind if they have the bedside manner of Dr. House as long as they keep me alive and are accessible. 

What's your biggest diabetes achievement:  Have you heard of my no-hitterI got one

What's your biggest diabetes-related fear:  Not making to our 50th wedding anniversary.  Seriously, that's my biggest goal and other than a freak accident, diabetes is the only thing that could prevent that. 

Who's on your support team:  My husband, family, and friends (mostly other diabetic friends and members of the DOC).

Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime:  I don't know.  I feel like a lot of research is being done in that direction, but in my lifetime the best I will see is an artificial pancreas (basically a pump that thinks on it's own, which is kind of scary, actually). 

What is a "cure" to you:  I guess the artificial pancreas is the closest to a cure for me.  But if I can live a long, happy life despite living it with diabetes, then I'd say I was "cured". 

The most annoying thing people say to you about your diabetes is:  "Will you always have it?"  Yes, and there's nothing I can do about that. 

What is the most common misconception about diabetes:  For type 1 diabetes, I'd say the most common misconception is that if we're on a pump or have a CGM, that we're not controlling it enough or we are really bad off.  These tools were developed to help us, even the "good diabetics" are good because of these things. 

If you could say one thing to your pancreas, what would it be:  Nothing, I would give it the silent treatment, because that's what it's doing to me.  (Yeah, I'm mature like that.)

Well, that's it.  I'm off for the week!  Enjoy the guest posts next week and I'll try to bring back some stories of my own.  (I'm sure that won't be hard.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who Said All Diabetes Bags are Black?

Whenever I get a new meter, it always comes in the standard black vinyl-cloth bag.  BORING.  That's one of the reasons why I got my Mystique Myabetic wallet.  I want to be a well-equiped diabetic, but I still want to express myself--not in black. 

One of my coworkers recently returned from a trip to Korea where she brought back this lovely souvenir for me: 

It's a little handmade multicolored bag with a butterfly zipper, totally channels my girly side. 

After gushing over this thing for a few moments, I began examining its dimensions and determining its appropriate use.  Would it hold some on-the-go make-up supplies like lip gloss or a foundation compact?  No.  Would it hold some of those ever-so-necessary "girlie" products?  No! 

It's the perfect size for a cylinder of glucose tabs.
I could easily fit 4-5 cylinders of glucose tabs in this pretty little thing.  Having diabetes can make me low sometimes, but pulling my sugar-boosting tabs from this cute bag will make me smile--I think it helps make the carbs a little sweeter. 


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Feeling Vulnerable

Two weeks ago, I took on the endeavor of creaming 10 ears of corn by hand.  My goal was to make some turkey chowder completely homemade.  For those that don't know, the way to make homemade creamed corn is to take a knife and scrape off the kernels in chunks.  After about 5 ears of corn, I noticed on my right hand that my middle finger (yes, the birdie finger) starting going numb. 

My mind immediately went to that place I didn't want to be.  I was thinking about the "c"-word, complications.  After I got done and washed my hands, my finger was still numb.  I initially thought that I was just putting to much pressure on that finger and it would get feeling back in a little while.  The feeling didn't come back that day, or the next day.  Over the course of a week, I noticed the feeling slightly coming back to my fingertip. 

This might be a total fluke, and it might be totally normal, but I couldn't help feeling vulnerable from the experience.  My seemingly numb finger turned into, "I wonder if this means I'll lose my finger.  Will I have kids?  Will I die?"  I hate that my mind goes there, but it does.  The same thing happens whenever I notice I'm seemingly more thirsty or making more than average trips to the bathroom.  It might be diabetes related, but it also might mean I just had one too many iced coffees, period. 

Why do we do that to ourselves?  I feel like I'm doing everything right, so it's probably nothing to worry about.  But the instance something is wrong with me (numb finger, infection, sneeze, a twitch), I automatically blame it on D.  It's a safe bet I will end up with some type of complications later in life, simply by the odds, but I really don't think I should start now.  

Not that the feeling is 100% back in my middle finger, I really feel like using to test.  If you know what I mean.  *wink* 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's All in the Numbers

This past weekend, we hosted my parents for the long holiday weekend.  Having my parents here was such a joy and we had a blast.  We went out to eat 3 times during the weekend, which is 3 times more than we usually eat out during the week.  I certainly don't mind eating out, especially when it involves family as company, but eating out is like walking on a landmine with diabetes. 

If we know where we're going to eat beforehand, I like to look to see if the restaurant has a nutritional guide online so I can chart my course.  I did this with our anniversary dinner where we went out to a wonderful Italian restaurant.  My blood sugars participated OK, not great but not bad either.  It's hard to know just how much of the appetizer bread I have in one sitting.  But if I stick to what I researched online before walking into the restaurant, I'm as good as golden. 

This was confirmed this weekend when we went to one restaurant where I didn't research what I was going to eat, because we did a lot of running around that day and I didn't even see a computer until after dinner.  Appetizer and drinks, salads and entrees, I bolused my standard SWAG bolus of 7.0 units for the "ehh, this might work" mentality and ate my dinner.  My 2-hour post-prandial BG was hovering around 250 mg/dL.   A few corrections later I was OK, but I hate that I expect this to happen. 

The next day we went to another restaurant where they had a nutritional guide printed out on their wall.  Awesome.  I picked my meal and bolused according to the guide on the wall.  Probably the same amount of carbs (or more so) than the previous meal eating out, but I hovered between 80-100 mg/dL for 4 hours after this meal.  It was like Diabetes Nirvana. 

So what exactly is going on here?  Is simply knowing the exact amount of carbs I'm about to eat really affect my BGs afterwards?  Is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle at work here somehow?  Assume that I bolus the same amount for the same amount of carbs but one time is a lucky SWAG bolus and the other is calculated, would the result be the same? 

On one hand, I feel confident that I truly can eat anything I want as long as I know the exact amount of carbs I'm about to consume.  On the other hand, I feel defeated because if I don't know the exact amount and resort to SWAG bolusing then I'm likely to end up correcting later on.  And on the other hand, I feel that if I were a good diabetic I would stick to a no-carb diet in order to avoid this internal dialogue. 

Does anyone else know where I'm coming from?  And does anyone else know why my internal dialogue self has so many hands? 

P.S.  I realize using the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as an analogy has unintentionally led some to an impromptu lesson in quantum mechanics.  I apologize, I try to leave my physics, nerdy self at home, but sometimes it sneaks out on its own.  Stupid Nerd Monster! 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friday Five: Labor Day

This past weekend I was hosting my parents for the long weekend, so I skipped out on my Friday Five (not on purpose, though, promise).  But I did want to post a Friday Five that I am excited about:  things in September that I'm looking forward to!

  1. College football!  Yes, I know I've been sounding like a broken record with this lately, but I love college football.  My team is the Auburn Tigers, and this weekend they won against Arkansas State 52-26.  We cooked steaks, grilled vegetables, steamed corn, and baked homemade bread for the 6:00 PM game.  It was the best way to start off the season; I also initiated it with a Sam Adams' Octoberfest in hand.  It was a great day, and I'm looking forward to a great year!  
  2. The Office Season 6 DVD comes out tomorrow.  We started a Netflix account a few months ago, so I got caught up on all the episodes from Seasons 1-5.  Season 6 has been waiting in my que for several months and I can't wait to get caught up before Season 7 (goodbye, Michael Scott *sniff*). 
  3. We'll be leaving for a week-long beach vacation this week.  I've got some great guest posts coming up while I'm away.  And I'm sure I'll have plenty of blog-friendly stories from our trip.  It seems we can never go on a vacation without a story brought back with us. 
  4. The fall season officially starts this month, but there's already been a scent in the air of the cooler, crisp weather.  I can already see some trees in our yard where the leaves are turning in a slight red hue.  And the stores already have Halloween decorations out, which means we get to give out candy in our new neighborhood.  
  5. Finally, and kind of related to #4, I can't wait to use our new fireplace.  One of the reasons we bought our new house was for the fireplace.  It's a wood-burning, stone fireplace with a gorgeous mantle.  It will be the best day of my life when we have a fire in the fireplace, chili in the crockpot, and a hot chocolate in my hand.  I love this time of year!  

Welcome to September and the best time of the year!  

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    The Rush

    I could feel the anticipation rising,
    The sweat on my brow was a sign
    Then a drop deep in the pit of my stomach.
    I knew exactly what it meant.

    I grabbed my meter
    Hands already shaking
    Pulled a strip out of the vial.
    Pricked my pinky like so many times before
    Licked the blood and wait.
    43 mg/dL

    Reached for a glass and the apple juice
    Poured to that magic line I know so well
    Begin chugging and close my eyes
    I could feel it coming
    The Rush.

    I can't really explain it but we all know how it feels
    Before I felt like I was drowning 
    My eyes were foggy, my head was dizzy
    My forehead was sweaty, my hands were shaking

    After that first gulp of sweet sugar
    I could feel it already working
    It's like coming up for air, 
    After drowning from waves.

    The cool liquid flows down my throat
    And like it's bonding to my cells
    I feel instantly my blood sugar rising
    Who knew I could feel so thirsty? 

    A few more gulps and a little time
    And I was feeling better
    These waves come and go,
    But I can't help noticing that feeling
    The Rush.  

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Perception is Art: Diabetes Art Day

    For Diabetes Art Day, I decided to take the somewhat easy way out, but still profound.  If I could, I wish I had diabetes glasses for non-D folks to wear whenever we encounter something diabetes-related in our daily life (which is pretty much everything).  Since I was diagnosed as a young adult, I have the privilege of remembering what it was like to simply go through a day without thinking anything diabetes.  My mind was carefree(ish) and (mostly) silent.  Now, I wish I could shut my mind off or at least hit the MUTE button.  See examples below:

    What a normal person sees:  

    "Time to brush my teeth."  

    What a diabetic person sees:  

    "I better brush my teeth because good oral hygiene is essential to good diabetes manag . . . oh crap . . . I'm going low.  *sigh*  I'll brush after I've eaten some glucose tabs." 
    What a normal person sees:  

    "Oh, look at that, a yummy slice of pizza."

    What a diabetic person sees: 

    "OK, so this is a pretty big piece of pizza.  I better bolus 3 units for it, but I'm kind of hungry so maybe I'll have two slices.  So, 6 units total with a 40/60 dual wave bolus extending the square bolus over 6 hours.  I hope that doesn't send me low later, though.  That's OK, I have a full jar of glucose tabs in my purse."
    What a normal person sees:  

    "Such a nice day for a workout.  iPod and water bottle in hand, that's all I need."  
    What a diabetic person sees:  

    "I've already turned my basal down to 25% when I got here to the gym and got dressed.  Was that enough time before getting on this thing?  Wonder if anyone knows how to use a glucagon kit if I pass out.  I have my meter, CGM, bottle of Gatorade if I get low, bottle of water for hydration, and I have my iPod but I forgot my earplugs!"
     What a normal person sees:  

    "Oh, there's my keys.  Let's go!"  
    What a diabetic person sees:  

    "I better test before I start driving." 

    What a normal person sees:  

    "Oooooooooh, yummy!"  

    What a diabetic person sees:  

    "Ohhhhhhhh, don't even go there!" 

    What a normal person sees:  

    "Oh cool!  Look at that Shuttle!" 
    What a diabetic person sees:  

    "Wow, even with diabetes, she aims for the stars." 

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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.