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D-Blog Week 2017; Monday – Expecting the Unexpected

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“Diabetes can sometimes seem to play by a rulebook that makes no sense, tossing out unexpected challenges at random.  What are your best tips for being prepared when the unexpected happens?  Or, take this topic another way and tell us about some good things diabetes has brought into your, or your loved one’s, life that you never could have expected?”

 

Expecting the unexpected is probably the perfect way to describe diabetes.  You can kind of relate it to the movie “Speed.”  You’re driving on a freeway with no option of slowing down and you must deal with whatever is in front of you at the time.  Occasionally you will see the gap in the highway and you step on the gas hoping that you will hit the pavement on the other side (think low blood sugars).  Often you find yourself wishing you had missed the bus to begin with but wishing doesn’t change the fact that if you slow down you will explode (think awful complications that come from years of high blood sugars).

So how do you prepare for something that often finds you on the wrong bus headed for a gap in the highway?  I suppose the first step you’ve already taken.  Read, read, read.  Educate yourself on how to formulate a plan and a back-up plan and a back-up to the back-up plan.  For instance, after reading this post at ASweetLife about how the changes in altitude can cause unexpected lows, I was not taken by suprise when this happened to me.

Really the best you can hope for is to take some of the anxiety out of dealing with the unexpected by educating yourself on the possibilities.  Welcome to the DOC (Diabetic Online Community); this is the perfect place to start.

#DBlogWeek

To read more from the DOC regarding today’s topic, go here!

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Ode to Those Little Strips

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“Oh little strips, How quaint you sit

Nestled in my bathroom cupboard

More often than not, Expiring each lot

While sweet health propels me forward

Keytones be gone, While I carry on

Stay far from this house forever

And come what may, Little strips please remain

Replaced and ready for a day that’s hopefully…NEVER”

-Carmygee, Sweetness and Light; A Collection of Diabetes Poems


Just a little light-hearted humor to begin…thanks to Kelly from Below Seven for this post on Keytones for the inspiration this morning.

Actually, I did not intend to write poetry for this post at all.  I too had my first experience recently with keytones.  There was a quick hitting, violent stomach virus that went around the community.  It started in my family in a rather dramatic fashion involving me trying to hold my son’s, well let’s say, projection in my hands while dashing out of a music store (think coat sleeves full of unpleasantness).  When we made it home, we both had to change clothes and shower.  Poor little guy.

I felt fine and bleached everything in sight for 2 ½ days but to no avail.  My oldest daughter started feeling ill that night and every time I looked at her I would feel very ill too.  I thought it was just a mother’s sympathy until it became all to obvious that I was not well.

The worst part was trying to chew and hold down glucose tablets to replace the lost dinner carbohydrates I had already bolused for.  True to good old Murphy, I didn’t have any juice in the house.  So glucose tablets and water it was.  My son was feeling better by this point and came to check on me when I was getting sick.  He got more than a little worried when he saw the result of the raspberry (think bright red) glucose tablets that were not staying down.  I was trying to reassure him but couldn’t talk to well.  Luckily my other daughter had not yet gotten sick and could reassure him for me.  Her turn didn’t hit until 5am next morning.

During the course of all of this I started checking my keytones.  I had developed light keytones before bed.  I woke with high keytones.  Luckily I was able to hold down fluids at that point and, in a couple of hours, keytones returned to normal as I re-hydrated.

My husband had been traveling and was due to come in that day.   I warned my husband to stay in a hotel for a few days but he graciously came home and took great care of us.  I am sorry to report that despite his even greater precautions,  three days later he got ill.

Happily, we are all well at the moment.

During the course of this illness, the “what-if’s” were on hyper drive in my mind.  My neighbors were out-of-town.  None of my children are licensed drivers. The one who has her learner’s permit wasn’t in any condition to attempt driving…

I am grateful that I did not have to figure out a ride to the urgent care or ER for DKA.  Additionally, I formulated a few takeaway’s from my first keytone experience:

  • always have some form of liquid sugar on hand
  • advise your family of sick day protocol to prevent unduly alarming them (still working on this one)
  • write out a plan and a back up plan
  • when all is said and done – you’ve done what you can

With each lesson learned I suppose I’ve become more philosophical.  Life is tenuous enough, why expend your energy on “what-ifs”?  Sure there are times when worries are valid and shouldn’t be ignored.  T1D definitely has its’ way of reminding you of that.  But for all of the moments in-between; Que será, será!  There’s always Those Little Strips.

the silence will fall…

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I can’t seem to find the desire to acknowledge diabetes in my life.  My A1C is stagnant.  My writing is stale. Apathy reigns.  I remembered kind of last-minute that I never made my endo appointment.  Luckily, when I called, she had a cancellation the next day.  But that meant that I didn’t get the blood work done before hand.  I was anxious that she would be judgemental or judge me as harshly as I was judging myself.  She didn’t.  I am grateful that she is very positive.  Her professionalism shines.  The last visit actually helped me in ways she’ll never know.  Mostly because I don’t like to talk about the mental/emotional side of diabetes.  It’s not that she wouldn’t understand per say…ok, maybe it is a little.  She is not a person with diabetes.  Regardless, it’s good to have someone who looks at numbers and applies logic and medical knowledge.  I’ve got the emotional side covered.  To be truthful, I don’t want to think or feel about diabetes any more than necessary.  It’s very helpful to approach it from the outside sometimes.

That is why the silence has fallen on this blog.  I haven’t read as many blogs either.  To be fair to myself there has been so much happening in a short time that I really haven’t had time.  Time to blog about the fact that it took me roughly seven months to get my transmitters for my Dexcom and luckily my G4’s had lasted far longer than the six months meaning I wasn’t in dire straights regarding CGM coverage.  Time to blog about my thoughts with the G5 vs the G4 system.  Time to blog about the endless pod failure alarms all in the same lot number.  The list goes on.

Finding the right words to write for this blog means I have to think about this insidious disease for longer than I already am required to day-in day-out.  Most days I sail through managing things with finesse.  Other days I forget to bolus and find myself chasing the numbers.  And the silence reigns.

But not today…today I break the silence.

Diabetes Blogweek 2016; Day 4 – The Healthcare Experience

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“Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!”

For the sake of brevity I am going to just have a few bullet comments today.  These are a few things I’d like to see changed (mostly insurance related):

  • I have Type 1 diabetes.  My pancreas isn’t going to suddenly start producing insulin.  Why, oh why, do I have to keep getting new referrals to continue to see my endocrinologist.
  • The insurance company establishes guidelines for qualification for CGM coverage.  What they consider qualifying is basically equals really out of range A1c’s – either too high or too low.  How does that make sense to deny a patient continuing coverage once they maintain a reasonable A1c using a CGM?
  • I’m not retirement/medicare age yet but it will be here all too soon.  We all will eventually and so it makes sense for us all to get behind this Medicare & CGMS bill.  Thanks to Colleen of D-Meanderings for bringing that to my attention in her post Wednesday.

 

Diabetes Blogweek 2016; Day 3 – Happy Hamster Hunting!

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“There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I’m willing to bet we’ve all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.”

I haven’t had much time to put together any clear thoughts on today’s topic.  I was, however, able to read a few of the other posts.

Colleen from D-Meanderings was the first post that I read and I really could identify with her opening sentence.  She also brought up topic of Medicare & CGMS which is worth a look.  Link here.

During my attempts to fill out the personalize-this-message section of the JRDF’s contact your senator form I wrote two paragraphs.  One which I included and one which I deleted at the last minute.  I didn’t think the deleted paragraph appropriate there but though the DOC might get a chuckle.

Here is what I wrote:

I currently am using CGM technology and would like to add that using a continuous glucose monitor is essential to getting a clearer picture of how the insulin therapy is working. No two persons are alike in their responses to insulin or the myriad of other factors that effect blood sugar values. Using a CGM is the only way to really understand how your body reacts to different foods, stress, exercise, and sickness.

Not using a CGM would be like trying to capture your pet hamster in a darkened room full of furniture where you are allowed to turn on the light for only two seconds at a time and must wait at least two hours between each lighting with a maximum of six times per day.

Happy Hamster Hunting and Good Night Then!

Diabetes Blog Week 2016; Day 2 – The Other Half

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We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk? (If you are a caregiver to a person with diabetes, write about yourself or your loved one or both!)

Just Add Whipped Cream!

Whipped cream can do wonders for your psyche.  It’s fun.  It cascades into vast piles of fluffy perfection with just one touch of the nozzle.  It’s light.  It looks like a cottony white cloud on a perfect summer day.  It’s happiness in a can.  Just watch the people coming out of your local Starbucks with beverages bedecked in creamy dreamy sublimity.  They’re smiling.

AND…according to the Calorie King website, it is a mere 0.4g carbohydrates per tablespoon.

Just Add Whipped Cream!

(My daughter just glanced at the screen and said, “Wait;  what?  Are you OK Mom?”)

OK.  Then consider the following picture:

The vial on the right is:

a.  half empty.

b.  half full.

c.  obviously just refilled with water to take this photo since no PWD would actually have a full vial out of the refrigerator if there was an already opened vial.

Yes, I’m going there.  For me it is all about perspective.  That’s not to say I’m always a half full kind of gal.  But it does help me to try to find a bright side;  a silver lining;  a half full vial.

Today’s topic isn’t about the day-to-day though.  It’s about how to cope when you don’t want to cope any more;  how to find a way out of the Diabetes Funk.

Tricks for coping?  I suppose I just allow the funk to happen.

I blog about it.  I have to confess that this blog is not only about giving back to the DOC by sharing my experiences.  It’s also a way for me to wrap my head around it all.

I laugh about it.  For example, I prefer to use the acronym BS when referring to my glucose levels.  I giggle to hear my daughter reminding me not to say “I’m high right now” in public.  Thankfully not a phrase I ever had to think about before Diabetes.

I paint it.  I have my resident artists help me paint my pods.  When my oldest daughter asked me what to paint this last time I flippantly replied, “elbows.”  Yep, you guessed it, I sported an elbow on my next pod.

I live it and move on.  To get caught up in self recriminations is counter productive.  It’s OK to be not OK.  It’s also OK to focus on something else when you just can’t think about diabetes for another moment.

And, it’s OK sometimes to…

Just Add Whipped Cream!  Cheers!

Diabete Blog Week 2016; Day 1 – Message Monday

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“Lets kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog?”

The prompt started me thinking about the etymology of message.  We all know what that word means in context but I was curious and a little bit distracted as I tried to think of the diabetes awareness message that is most important to me.  The short answer, after getting utterly sidetracked, is as follows:

You are not alone!

I am here, in the diabetes blog space because I wanted to share my experiences.  I have found solace in reading other blogs and hoped that by giving voice to my experiences someone else may find the same.  This blog space, the Diabetes Online Community, is the “message” that so many of us need.

As far as sending a message for advocacy to those not touched by Diabetes, I am conflicted.  There are so many misconceptions that are perpetuated by the media, medical professionals, marketing companies, etc. that you will encounter as a diabetic.  At the very least those in the medical profession should know the difference between types and treatments.  I get that medicine is very specialized these days but a little better overlap would at least ensure that the right treatment is provided for the patient.  Certainly the patient blame game isn’t helpful to anyone involved!

I have to say that I am a bit more forgiving of the lack of understanding diabetes by the Non-D folk.  I mean, if I had to option not to think about diabetes ever again that would be just fine with me.  Imagine a world where we had no reason to blog about diabetes…

Maybe one day.

Until then, thank you DOC for being here.  Thank each and every one of you participating in this year’s Blog Week for providing that voice, that message, that advocacy.  You are unique in your Diabetes but…

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!