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March 31, 2009

Townie Bar Meetup.

"What are you on?"Connecting with other d-folk!

Four sets of hands fumble for their hardware.

Me:  "I'm on a 522."

Karen:  "I have the other one?  The bigger one?  722?"

Erin:  "I've got Minimed, too."

M:  "Animas ping!"  (She reaches into her shirt and pulls out a pink pump.)  "I bet you didn't even know it was in there." 

Where does the question "What are you on?" get everyone to flash their pumps, other than at a dinner with fellow diabetics? 

Last night, four of us (me, Karen, Erin, and M) met up for another Fairfield County dinner at a townie bar in western Connecticut.   Despite the fact that none of us were locals, the townies in the bar accepted us and allowed us to occupy a table for two hours and chat about pumps, pregnancy, and coffee addictions.  (Dear Waitress,  Sorry I yelled to get your attention.  I was excited.  It was coffee!  I'm sorry.)  It's nice to hang with nice people who completely understand the need to briefly bleed before eating, and who get it when your "hose" is exposed. 

It has become a comforting tradition, with the attendees fluctuating dependent on the weather, the season, people's work schedules, etc, but there's always at least a handful of us who have a few hours to spare with new friends.  Note:  Beware of stories taking a decidedly non-diabetes turn, i.e. storing lipgloss without pockets.  ;)

Are you interested in meeting up?  Are you in Fairfleld County, CT?  Email me at kerri (at) sixuntilme (dot) com and we'll add you to the email list!

March 30, 2009

Trading War Stories.

It weird, because we originally connected through my diabetes blog and her diabetes podcast, and we spent a lot of time comparing war stories about our collective decades with diabetes. 

Diabetes was our introduction, but isn't the glue that holds our friendship together.

We grabbed dinner at Antico Forno in Boston's North End on Friday night with Christi and John, and I was again reminded of how good friends aren't necessarily the ones you talk with every day.  They can also be the ones who you go months without seeing but can fall right back in step with in minutes.

Kerri and Christel, reunited!

(We miss you guys already!!)

March 27, 2009

Diabetes Carnage.

I know my daily diabetes stuff produces a lot of waste, like the test strip I use every time I prick my finger and all the packaging that comes along with each disposable insulin pump infusion set. 

But it wasn't until I changed my pump and my Dexcom sensor at once that I realized how much carnage I leave in my management wake.  

Exhibit C (for crap, holy):

So.  Much.  Stuff!

If you scoot over to Flickr, you can see each item flagged in the photo, but the basic gist is that two small bits of technology attached to my body creates a lot of waste.  (The Blackberry is in the photo purely because I forgot to move it.  It isn't related to diabetes management.  Then again, with the number of emails I'm sending from that thing on an hourly basis on the climb, maybe it is.  Digression?  Yup.)

Other PWDs and parents of PWDs (POPWD?) have talked about the insane amount of diabetes-related garbage before, but this one night really showed me how so little goes such a long way - and not in a great way.  And with Earth Day coming up at the end of April, I'm extra-aware of the mess I make sometimes.  Do you guys put your stuff in a sharps container, or do you throw these things out?  I used to be so good about clipping syringe tips and filling those coffee cans and taping them shut with electrical tape, but the last few years have produced medical waste that doesn't look as "druggy" as the orange-capped syringes of my past diabetes life.  ;)

Once, in college, we had a party and threw out a lot of beer cans.  (There were seven of us in one house, okay?)  During the night, animals got into our garbage and we woke up to beer cans and - oh crap - syringes all over the front lawn.  I.  Was.  Mortified and have been paranoid ever since.  How do you guys dispose of your diabetes carnage?  I need some tips, because I'm getting sloppy.

(Also also, SUM may have some downtime this weekend, as I'm moving some web bits around.  So if you stop by over the weekend and hit a 404 or 500 error, please be patient.  I should be back up by Monday morning.  Thanks, and have a good weekend!)

March 26, 2009

SUM (More) Diabetes SEO.

Searching for ... Sausage?I went poking around in my Statcounter statistics for the search terms that are sending people to Six Until Me.  Most of the anticipated terms are there in full force, like "diabetes," "Kerri Sparling," and "blogs about insulin pumps," but there were some real zingers this week that I wanted to share. 

Another version of SUM SEO, right after this break tag! 

diabetes pun - I love that this term brought someone here.  I LOVE PUNS!!! 

aluminum foil in my aquarium hurt - I'm sorry, what?

i had a dream that i was diabetic - Funny.  I had a dream that I wasn't. 

why did my diabetic friend act crazy the other night - If I had a nickel for everytime my friends said this ...

making animals out of towels - This is a direct throw-back to the cruise I went on with Chris a few years ago, and I was enamored with the towel animals.  Still am - they amaze me!

can a type 1 diabetic ever drop down to just taking pills instead of insulin - Sigh.  Halle Berry, are you Googling for answers again?

xanax slogan - Makes Kerri "plane" happy!

snorkeling with an insulin pump - You may be better off using a snorkel. 

that cat Siah - Yes!  Siah is her own search term.  Now maybe she'll stop.  staring

type one diabetes weird facts
- We eat tree bark?  We can smell colors?  We can turn Jell-O into minature bicycles?  Oh, and we don't make insulin. 

frozen toast on a stick - FROAST!!!!

Even though this is a diabetes blog, the non-diabetes search terms make me laugh the hardest.  Especially this one:

Was Grimace a dinosaur? - Of course.  Of course that sent you here.    

True2Go Meter - It's THAT Small.

It's kind of like Review Week here at SUM, because I have a lot of diabetes-related products and goodies that I've received over the past few weeks and wanted to talk about here.

One of the items I received was this teeny True2Go meter.  Pictured heeyah:

True2Go - wicked tiny.

I am usually very good about making sure I have my on me at all times, successful mainly because I always carry a purse (even in the woods) and I am usually the group "pack mule" for any event.  Very rarely do I forget my meter, but it has happened. 

(I realize I've just tempted fate to have me leave my meter behind sometime in the near future.  Fate, please forget I said that.)

This little True2Go meter is super small, and with the meter attached to the actual bottle of strips, it's very easy to stash anywhere.  Glove compartment, desk drawer at work, mother-in-law's house, shoved into that extremely small beaded purse that your license barely fits into - teeny meter may do the job.

It seems to be reasonably accurate, and by "accurate," I mean it was just a few points off from my OneTouch UltraLink and in tune with my Dexcom graph.  For a meter the size of a silver dollar, the display is decent.  It took longer to show my result than I'm used to, but it eventually popped up on the screen after 15 seconds or so, I think.  

For true travel convenience, I could just throw a lancet into the strip bottle and be emergency-ready.  I used my OneTouch lancing device for most of my tests, though.

Having different meters is nice, for convenience, but the main drawback is that most insurance companies only cover one kind of test strip.  For me, my insurance covers my Lifescan strips, but they aren't hip to covering a second brand.  I have used a Lifescan meter for several years now, but I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that I have a stash of strips already, whereas I don't have any more of these little True2Go strips.

Points to ponder.  But this meter definitely gets high marks on size and portability, and I daresay it's a bit cute. 

For a few photos with the meter in a size comparison pose-down with my UltraLink and the ubiquitous quarter, scope out Flickr.

March 25, 2009

Smiths Medical Pulls Out from Diabetes Market.

Farewell, Cozmo.Wow - this surprised me. 

The company that makes the Deltec Cozmo pump issued a statement today, saying that they are stopping the sale of their insulin pump.  According to the press release

“The continued health of the thousands of people who use the Deltec Cozmo® insulin pump is our primary concern, and they should be reassured that their pump remains an excellent choice to help them manage their diabetes,” said Srini Seshadri, president of Smiths Medical. “Our customers also should be reassured that Smiths Medical will meet all of its warranty obligations; provide customer and clinical support for the lifetime of the warranty of all pumps; ensure that Deltec Cozmo® insulin pump cartridges and Cleo® and Comfort® infusion sets are available; and make any necessary transitions as simple as possible.”

Why did they pull out? Looks like the pump "biggies" - Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson - have cornered the market share.  More from the release:

"In addition, as its only direct-to-consumer enterprise, the Diabetes business has little synergy with the rest of Smiths Medical’s businesses. For this reason, Diabetes requires its own extensive sales, marketing, reimbursement, insurance and clinical support infrastructure in the United States, which has resulted in it becoming uneconomical as sales and profits for the business have decreased. Without a strong, profitable Diabetes business in the United States, the world's largest medical market, it would also be impossible to sustain the business internationally.

Looks like the full transition out will take about four years, which corresponds to the warranty on new insulin pumps.  Cozmo pumpers, at that time, will need to chat up their medical team to get information on switching to a new insulin pump.  They have a whole website dedicated to answering questions, so if you need more information, check out the site.

Personally, I'm sad to see this happening.  I think having more pump manufacturers contributes to more innovation, offering diversity to insulin pumpers.  I'm a Medtronic pumper, but I considered the Cozmo back when I was shopping for a pump.  I hate seeing options removed from us.

Sorry to see you go, Cozmo.   

All-Inclusive Diabetes Software.

Do you know of any?  (See title.)Diabetes info OVERLOAD!!!

I've received a few requestions from readers about software to take all the information from our respective diabetes devices (multiple meters, continuous glucose monitors, electronic food diaries, etc, etc, etc.), and I don't have a clue where to refer people.

I know some d-folk use SugarStats and other data tracking software, but are there others?  I have a few readers who are looking for info, but quite frankly, I'd like to know, too.  :)  My logbook is being updated regularly (and blue stars are being steadily applied to my calendar), but to have an all-in-one system that can integrate all of my various diabetes info moments would be awesome.   

if you have any ideas, please share them! 

Update:  Someone emailed me about Project Diabetes - which has an iPhone app and everything.   Another person mentioned the Track3 device (which I will be reviewing later in the week/next week) for tracking.  If you're using this, let us know how it works for you!

March 24, 2009

French Fried.

Chris has a crush on these things.Last weekend, Chris and I went out on Saturday night for his birthday.  And because he is a Francophile and borderline crème brulée addict, we revisited an excellent French bistro in Brooklyn (that we were introduced to by some wonderful friends). 

We drove in a found a parking spot right across the street from our destination (stroke of freaking good luck, that)- Moutarde in Park Slope, and we were right on time for our 8:30 reservation. 

And we ate.

Oh how we ate.

We started with slices of celery and peppers dipped into an array of spicy mustards.  There was freshly baked french bread with creamy butter.  A shared appetizer of escargot, entrees of duck confit and hanger steak with frites (read: fries) - we were beyond indulgent.  To round out our meal (and our bellies), we had not one, but TWO desserts - crème brulée and two profiteroles with ice cream and covered in warm chocolate sauce.

My blood sugars were screaming at the very notion of these noshes. 

"Nooooo!  Kerri!!!   You'll end up at 400 mg/dl, stupid!"

"Quiet, you.  I'm having a night off from your hollering."  

My husband and I cleaned our plates and topped our meals off with coffee (me) and cappuccino (Chris).   

"So how is your birthday going?"

Francophile Sparling leaned back in his chair, smiling.  "This is great.  I loved this.  I love French food!"

I reached into my purse and consulted the Dexcom, to see if my numbers were started to go berserk.  I saw a flatline - 142 mg/dl and steady.  

"Dude, I think I did this right.  After all that food, I'm barely 140."

"Nice.  Can we get another profiterole?"

I love a good night out with excellent food, excellent company, and excellent blood sugars.  A few hours later, when we were climbing into bed, I checked the Dex again and saw that I was 103 mg/dl with a little arrow pointing straight down, showing that I was falling slowly, but still falling.

Meter confirmed:  97 mg/dl.

"Bah.  I must have over-bolused.  I'm going to grab a swig of juice."

Face-planted into the bed and slowly digesting thousands of French calories, Chris murmured "Mmm hmm."

I took a drink from the grape juice bottle by the bed and settled in beside him, feeling cocky about our indulgent dinner and it's lack of effect on my numbers.

So didn't I feel like a tool when the Dex started singing at 5:30 in the morning, announcing my 271 mg/dl to the entire room?   Sweaters on teeth, that instant "Oh my God I have to pee" feeling, and my tongue weighing about 8 lbs - the whole mess. 

I never, ever remember that the fat hits my blood sugars so much later.  (And we ate a lot of fatty foods!)    Stupid overconfident Kerri.  You done been French fried.

"Kerri, we told you.  We so told you."

"Enough!  I am fixing this now and besides, it was worth it." 

"The high?"

"Nope.  The crème brulée!" 

Diabetes Alert Day: Do You Need to Know?

Awareness days - we have a pile of them.  But because I am a diehard diabetes advocate, I believe in these moments of advocacy (see also:  World Diabetes Day, Diabetes Month, Raise Your Voice, etc.)

So today is Diabetes Alert Day, and the intention of this day is aimed at people with pre-diabetes and people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.  There are a number of fine, clickable resources out there to mark this day:

The alert is being sounded today, and if you are affected by type 2 diabetes, or if you are part of the at-risk population, there's no better time than now to get healthier.

March 23, 2009

The Born-Again Diabetic.

William "Lee" Dubois and I have been blogger buddies for years now, from when I came across his blog back in 2005 when he was writing about his experiences with the old Medtronic Guardian RT system.  Diagnosed with type 1 at he age of 40, he's one of the original diabetes bloggers.  (He's called me the "diabetes whack-a-mole" for a long time, because I keep popping up.  And I think I may always call him "Printcrafter" in my head.)

I've always been a fan of his writing, and now I'm happy to hold his book in my hands.  Will sent me a copy of his book a few weeks ago - The Born-Again Diabetic:  A Handbook to Help You Get Your Diabetes In Control (Again).

Will's book.

Just as I had expected, and hoped, Will's book is written in the same totally accessible, completely approachable style as his blog.  He may be a diabetic and a diabetes educator, but he's truly a "diabetic of the people," as exemplified by the very title of Chapter 1:  What the hell is diabetes, anyway? 

Throughout the course of Will's 14 chapter journey, he takes us through diagnosis, diabetes hardware like meters and CGMs, A1C tests, the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, oral meds, insulin, and the gritty chapter called "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll."   

Okay, so this all sound familiar, right?  Same sorts of topics, same rehashed information, same ... disease, right?  That everyone else and their grandmother has written about?  Yes indeed.

But what makes this book different is that it is actually readable.  In my job and through blogging, I've been sent many books from publishers and authors, and I have to be honest - some are an effort to plod through.  With Will's book, it was like having an old friend (Not OLD, Will, but more like longtime.  Don't send me a nasty email.) explain diabetes to a coffeehouse of people, and I'm sitting there laughing, nodding, and going, "Yes, that's right." 

"What else affects my blood sugar, you ask?  Why everything, of course! What do you know about the Chaos Theory?  Yeah, I don't know much either, I can't even balance my checkbook.  But as I understand it with my third-grade grasp  of mathematics, Chaos Theory is a way of explaining the interactions of events in complex environments with lots of variables. It's the whole a-butterfly-flaps-its-wings-in-Mongolia-so-it-rains-in-Flagstaff kind of science."  - pg. 81

Diabetes is about life.  About friends.  About lauhing at the moments of extreme management and making sense of the true chaos theory that is this disease.  Will's book has done well in capturing some of those moments and making diabetes seem more like a disease you have to know and accept in order to control.

And as the diabetes whack-a-mole, I agree.  :)

Note:  If you want to order your own copy of Will's book, visit his blog and click through on the order link.  And tell him I said hi!   

No Peace.

In the morning when the alarm starts blaring, I stagger off to the shower and make attempts to wake up in the hot water.  I shower, blow-dry my hair, and proceed to finding something that isn't too wrinkled to wear to work.

You would think I'd be able to do these morning rituals by myself.  But noooooo.

Siah wants to stand between the shower curtain and the liner and purr while I shower.

She wants to slalom between my legs while I move through the house.

And God forbid she leaves me alone for five minutes while I use the curling iron.  

I am certain she cannot do math.

Instead, she spies from her perch and stares at me.  Purring.  And twice now she has fallen into the toilet while attempting to saunter towards me.

Siah, you provide me with endless entertainment.  Now please, for crying out loud, leave me alone for five minutes!

March 20, 2009

Dexcom Seven Plus: First Impressions.

So far, so good.

Last night, I installed my first Dexcom Seven Plus sensor.  "First" might be a bit of a misnomer, because the sensors that actually go into my body are still the same as the ones I used previous.  I have a new transmitter (the little plastic part that clips into the sensor housing) and a new receiver (the external device), which are the pieces that have been upgraded.  

Dexcom has a good overview of the new system and its features, including a video that walks you through the upgrades.  They can give you all the technical jargony stuff.  :)

For me, I've put this new sensor on my left thigh and after the initial pinch, I was good to go.  The hardware on the Seven Plus works almost exactly like the old system, with a two hour calibration period, same sensor insertion devices, and the same general gist.  What's new is the software inside the receiver.

When I tried out the Minimed system last year, I liked the fact that the MiniLink had rate of change arrows on the CGM.  So when I looked at my pump, I could see my blood sugar graph and could also see if I was plummeting or rising quickly.  I was sorry that Dexcom didn't have this option before - but now they do.  The new Seven Plus has those rate of change arrows, and you can also set an alarm to BEEEEEEEEEP (if you want) when you're rising or falling too quickly. 

Oh so dexy ... I mean, sexy!

And regarding BEEEEEEEP!s, there are more beeping options on this thing, too.  You can set an alarm for a high, low, rise rate, fall rate, and sensor out of range (i.e. when the cat takes off with it in the middle of the night and you don't realize it until you wake up without it).  There are snooze alarms for the high and low levels, so I have mine set to BEEEEEEEP! at a low and then give me 30 minutes to correct and climb, instead of beeping its head off every five minutes for hours.  (Nice.) 

Another feature that's been added is the ability to add "events," like exercise, food, insulin doses, and health info - much like the One Touch Ultra meters.  I've been consistent so far with entering this info (read: it's only been 12 hours with this thing attached, so I'm in a bit of "new device euphoria" and I have no clue if I'll stick with being so tuned in), and if I can keep up, it will make the records from the Dex pretty comprehensive.

Dexcom 2 Software screenshot.  Sorry this caption wasn't that interesting.

The software is pretty good this round, able to download information from past sensors, instead of just the most previous one.  I took some screenshots of the software and gave my notes on Flickr, because honestly, I'm not terribly techy and writing on and on and on and on ... zzzzzzz ... and on about software upgrades could make me yawn my face off.  Overall, the software is good and tracks what I need it to track and if I was able to make my patient profile avatar into a picture of Siah's head, I would.  You know it.

Overall, I like the upgrades.  And the upgrade is universally available to all Dexcom users (EDIT:  It's available immediately to all new customers.  Existing ones can get it in May.  I'm not sure why that is, but if anyone from Dexcom is reading and wants to leave a comment, please do!), but I don't know the details of insurance coverage and cost.  I am glad that Dexcom is willing to push out new options as they become available, instead of waiting for a full device overhaul.  I'm hopeful that the next round of developments will help reduce the size of the sensor and the receiver. 

I'll let you know next week how a few days worth of experience with this system feels, but in the meantime, feel free to check out my Flickr photos of the Dexcom Seven Plus.  If you have questions, I'll do my best to help.  (Keep in mind:  I'm slightly clueless.)

Now I'm heading to work in this snow squall (WTF?) - what is that about?  I thought today was supposed to be the first day of spring??  More later!

[Dexcom disclosure]

March 19, 2009

Bad Larry and the Dexcom.

When Chris was traveling last week, I had to install (Install?  Is that the right word or does that make me sound like a TRS-80 from Radio Shack?) a new Dexcom sensor.  Usually, with his help, I wear the sensor on the back of my arm and he takes care of securing it.  But since I was flying solo for this installation, I decided to try a new spot.

So I slapped that bad Larry onto my right thigh.

The aforementioned "Bad Larry."

(Note: A Bad Larry is defined by the online Urban Dictionary as "an adjective that describes something that is sweet or badass."  This note is purely for FYI purposes and not to be confused with the Good Larry, aka Larry Bird.)

To be completely honest, that thing hurt like a bitch going in.  Usually the arm placement for sensors doesn't hurt much at all and the whole installation process is over without much fanfare.  But this thigh one made me jump and skip around cussing like Yosemite Sam (again).  I immediately wanted to pull it out and put it somewhere else, but I recognize the value of these things and I did not want to waste one just because it was a stinger.  

So I sucked it up and slept carefully that night, avoiding any pressure on that tender spot.  Thankfully, by about noon the next day, the sensor had settled in and either took out all the local nerves (kidding) or my body finally adjusted to the placement.  It was snug against my jeans and didn't create too much of a bulge.

Because I do not want a bulge in my jeans.  (Hey Google - have fun with that one!)

A plus to wearing the sensor on my thigh seemed to be the lack of rubbing on the edges.  Granted, the thing was ringed in blue by the sixth day due to jeans, but it stayed relatively unfrayed (that photo is from Day 6) and wasn't in the way much.  A minus to this spot may have been the constant rubbing of clothes, because it crapped out on me on the evening of the sixth day, throwing a dead sensor error.  Was it the rubbing that caused this, or was the sensor kaput on me too early?  I'll touch base with the crew at Dexcom to see what the deal could be and I'll let you know.

But that thigh sensor was my last run with the Dexcom SEVEN Ye Olde (But New) Dexcom Seven Plussystem, because my new Dexcom Seven Plus arrived this week, and I'm giving that a go tonight.  The upgrades are very software based, with the receiver and the sensors remaining the same size, but now there are rate of change indicators and ways to log food, exercise, etc. on the receiver, making the logbooks from Dex significantly more useful.  AND there is a 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 hour graph screen, which I'm stoked about. 

More details on the Seven Plus tomorrow, but for now, I'm trying to decide where to stick that next bad Larry.  ;) 

(And in keeping with my full disclosure, these supplies are provided to me in accordance with my sponsorship agreement.  You can also find my grinning head in their information brochure - if you dare to download.)

March 18, 2009

Knot What I Expected.

I have to admit - I'm pretty satisfied with this longer tubing option.  Maybe I'll be more annoyed in the summer when I'm sporting fitted clothes and no trouser socks, but for those freaking freezing months with bundly sweaters and long pants, I'm content to have an extra 20" of tubing. 

Thing is, I tend to get tangled in it when I take off the pump.  I guess I bunch the tubing together and just shove it in the waistband of my pants or, if I'm rocking the sock, it stays smooth as it travels down from my hip to my ankle.  But when I disconnect to shower or go to the gym, the tubing becomes a knot of chaos.

Exhibit A:

Knot a clever caption, either.

How did this happen?  It was on the bureau for exactly 20 minutes - just for a shower! - and when I went to snap it back into place, the whole damn thing was knitted into this insuiln pretzel.

(Should I mention that it also was wrapped around me, and Prussia the Cat, this morning?  I woke up to find the cat pressed against my side and the pump tubing casually looped around her paws.  Thank goodness she didn't pull a Sausage and bite through the thing.) 

It's weird to look into my diabetes supply closet and mentally map out my tubing options.  Now that the weather is starting to warm up a smidge, I'm thinking about packing up my winter coats and my wool skirts in exchange for my spring sweaters and dresses.  Long tubing works well for using the sock trick with a lower back infusion set, but it could be a pain in the everything when it comes to tucking tubing in a springy warp dress.  I'm planning to switch back to the 23" tubing in a few weeks.

I can't wait until the weather is warm again.  I've had a freaking-nuff of the snowy stuff.

March 17, 2009

I Had Nothing To Write About.

Low again.  F this noise.Last night I was sending off a quick email before bed, and I lingered on the Movable Type platform for SUM. 

"Hey Chris, I think I'm out of stuff to write about.  My brain - she is empty."

"It's okay.  You'll think of something tomorrow.  Now let's eat Jell-O."  (The Jell-O part is not completely relevant, but it was delicious and worth mentioning.  Red Jell-O with fat-free cool whip.)

The night progressed, and eventually we went to bed.

At 2 am, the Dexcom starting singing.  And because I am a very tuned in, dedicated diabetic (oh the lies!), I pulled it from the headboard and threw it across the room.  

"BEEEEEEEEEEEEP!" it wailed relentlessly from the corner.

About 15 minutes later, I woke up with that heavy, sandbag feeling, like all my organs were ten times their normal size and fuzzy on the edges.  I felt as though I was covered in something grainy, almost tangible, but I couldn't shake it off. 

A low. A nasty one, proving its strength by keeping me flat on the bed.  I tried to sit up but my brain was too dizzy and the sandbags were heavy.

"Hey.  I need juice.  It's a bad low."

Chris woke up immediately and grabbed a bottle of juice.  I drained it, not counting out eight sips, not caring about the carb content, just wanting the sugar back in my body and the function back to my brain.  A bit of juice started to drip from the side of the bottle and I went after it, not willing to let any bit of sugar escape my mouth.  It was a desperate and pathetic low, where I could have consumed a whole cake without thinking twice.

I lay back down against the pillow and tried to pretend the waves of unconsciousness weren't happening.

"Next time, let's not talk," I said, mumbling.

"Not talk about what?  What don't we want to talk about?  You are okay, you drank the juice, you'll come up.  I'll wait here with you."  Chris was propped up on his elbow, a hand on my shoulder while he talked.

"Let's not talk about how I have nothing to write about, okay?"  I laughed and it sounded jagged against the dark, like it wasn't actually coming from my mouth.   

"No kidding, right?"

"Yeah.  This isn't what I wanted.  I would have been happy writing about the cats or something, you know?"

The low passed.

This morning, I have dark circles under my eyes and a headache that even the strongest coffee can't cure.  My body keeps edging back towards low and I'm not sure how much to dial my basal rates back to.  I'm tired.  Of a lot of things.

I'd rather be wracking my brain, trying to think of what to write about today. 

St. Patrick's Day and Diabetes.

Yay for frosty glasses of beer!  And for frosty snowmen.Come on, like you didn't see this one coming.

So just about everyone in my office is wearing green today, and there's a certain jolly, slightly-inebriated vibe to the place.  (No, we're not drinking.  Yes, we should be.  No, I don't have a flask strapped to my thigh, thanks.  That's an insulin pump.) Don we now our green apparel, right?  Our kitchen is stocked with Irish soda bread, and the stuff is tasty.

Seems that attentions turn to drinking and diabetes when March 17th rolls around.  dLife has a whole section dedicated to the diabetes and drinking, I've written columns and blog posts about it before, people are polling the blogosphere about their drinking habits, and there are even quizzes you can take that touch on the topic.

I've always found that even a little alcohol can make my blood sugar tumble a few hours later, which is the thing that makes drinking a pain in the arse.  Even when I have a drink or two (and subsequently get buzzed because I'm a lightweight), I need to make sure I down some carbs before bed to help keep the lows from attacking on the overnight.  I've talked to a lot of other diabetics about this, and it seems to be one of those "your diabetes may vary" (hat tip to Bennet) moments. 

Personally, I have never been much of a drinker, and there were so many nights in college when I opted for diet soda or coffee instead of a beer.  But as I've grown a bit older and considerably more responsible, I have begun to appreciate a nice glass of wine or a few beers with friends.  It sounds irresponsible to some, but I figure that as long as the drinks are infrequent and well-monitored, it's okay to cut loose once in a while. 

Like tonight, maybe. :)

What are you guys doing to celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

(Sidenote: Today is both my father's birthday and our editor-in-chief's birthday.  So happy birthday to both!)

March 16, 2009

The "Ellipmachine."

The Ellipmachine ... by Mennen.When I was preparing for our wedding last year, I spent a lot of time at the gym.  A.  Lot.  As in, too much.  If I wasn't at work at dLife or doing wedding-esque things like cake tastings, dress fittings, and bridal shower fun, I was working out and doing my best to keep the stress from fattening me up.

Fitness was my priority.  

But after the wedding, other stuff started to crop up.  Weekends home in RI.  Travel for work.  Writing projects that required lots of attention.  New focuses at dLife.  Every day was this whirlwind of chaos and while I've been having fun and being very productive, my days at the gym were harder to come by.  Before, I was working out faithfully Monday - Friday after work.  But "life stuff" kept cropping up, and suddenly I found myself at the gym only four days a week.

Then it all became a perfect storm of distraction.  I was working late on dLife initiatives.  I was answering emails from my Blackberry into the wee hours of the night and sleeping less.  My wrist exploded in a fit of tendinitis and low blood sugars returned to my life with a renewed sense of determination.  Piles of snow kept falling and the gym kept closing, and on other days, I worked too late to get to the gym before it closed.

My time at the gym went from frequent and intense to only four days a week and pretty remedial.

Not okay, because my body wants to be fluffy.  It may be a family gene pool thing and it might also be exacerbated by diabetes factors, but if I sit still and let nature take its course, my body wants to be a happy 15 lbs heavier.

I, however, do not agree.

But I was frustrated because between feeling stressed and having lows again, my caloric intake far exceeded my burn off.  Thus, I lost any semblance of abs.  (Shame, too, because I liked them while they were there.)  So, in effort to reclaim my abs before I get pregnant and become a happy beach ball swallower, I did my part to stimulate the economy:  I bought an elliptical machine.

Or, as I keep calling it by mistake, an "ellipmachine."

It was delivered and assembled last Monday morning, and I called Chris (who was on business in California last week) to tell him it had arrived safely.  

"It's here!  The ellipmachine!"

"The what?"  

"I mean the elliptical."

It's a nice machine - very smooth and not clunky as to annoy our downstairs neighbors (I do not want to become Shoes) - and I used it every day last week for an hour.  Now I'm able to go out with my coworkers after work for an hour or two and still manage to slide a workout in.  I am also hoping to use it in the mornings (provided I'm able to get to bed at a reasonable time and eek out a 20 minute workout in the am).  My main hope is to reclaim the level of fitness I worked so hard to achieve before the wedding but lost a bit due to that pesky "life stuff."  

Last week, while Chris was out of town, he called one night and I answered, panting.  

"Hey baby ... what are you doing?"

"Dude, I'm on the ellipmachine."

I could hear him laughing.  "The ellipmachine, eh?"

"Oh you know what I mean."

Here's hoping that the ellipmachine can help me get a workout in even when my schedule wants to thwart my good intentions.  I'm ready to battle.

(Take that, early gym closings!  En garde, late nights at work!  Pffffft, snow days!  Come back, sort-of-abs!) 

March 13, 2009

My Mom Says Hi.

I love my mom.It's no secret that my mom is a huge part of my success as an adult with diabetes.  Her support, even when I rebelled against it with all my might, has made me confident in dealing with whatever diabetes has to throw at me. 

My mom has guest posted here a few times in the past (here are her archived entries), and she's offered to share her perspective again.  Reading her posts makes me think about how much the parents of kids with diabetes work so hard to maintain our "normal." 

From My Mom: 

Hello ... Kerri’s mom here! From time to time, Kerri will ask me to do a guest post.  What prompted me to post at this time is her recent blog regarding her old childhood journals. (Yes, she could write like a champ way back when. It’s always been a gift she has possessed.)

The fact that Kerri went to Clara Barton Camp from the time she was diagnosed until she was too old was a blessing in that I was able to hand over the responsibility of her medical care to a very capable and trusted staff at the camp. I don’t think I ever thought of it as “ok, now we can be normal for two weeks.” Maybe her siblings thought there would now be more sugary, tasty treats available during those two weeks that were not hidden in frozen bean boxes.

Parents are responsible for the well being of their children from birth to when they  are able to live on their own. (Not that it stops us from worrying.)  Throw diabetes into the mix and it can be overwhelming at times. We love our children and would do anything to keep them safe and protected. It is our “job.” I looked at sending Kerri to camp as a benefit to everyone in our family. She could bond with children who deal with the same issues she did on a daily basis. They can complain about how over protective their parents are and that we don’t understand what it’s like. No, we don’t, but as a parent these children don’t understand the fear that is ever present in our minds. Will we handle their diabetes care well enough to ensure that they don’t have serious lows or highs? Have we done enough to protect their future health from diabetes complications. It’s a scary ride we parents are on. I guess until they have children of their own … they can’t know how we feel just like we can’t know what it’s truly like for them.

Kerri used to get upset with me when I would say things like “we have to do a better job at…” She said it wasn’t a “we” disease, it was she who had diabetes. I beg to differ! When you are trying to protect your child from the consequences of diabetes or any disease it does become “our” disease as well. How can we let anything bad happen to them? You become the Lioness protecting her cub! I thought I was the only one that knew how to take care of her and I didn’t insist that others help out. If I could go back in time, I would certainly rethink that one! Everyone needs a support network. In a way, Clara Barton camp was that for me.

I needed that two week camp time to regroup. To take a mental health vacation. While she was at camp, I would often wonder how she was doing. How were her blood sugars running? Was she having fun?  But I can say that I wasn’t worried. She was in good hands. We both felt refreshed when camp was over. Kerri would come home having forged some long lasting friendships. She was more confident and determined. Camp allowed her to share feelings with other kids who understood what it was like to live with diabetes. No worries about acting weird when low…they all had been there and done that!

I lost my job as “Protector of the Kerri” a long time ago. She is very capable of handling her life and health. Will I always worry about her? Yes, like I do with all my children. That’s normal. But she is very fortunate in that she is married to Chris. My mind is at ease ... he is my Clara Barton camp!

Thanks, Mom.  For everything. 

March 12, 2009

When They Match.

My coworker has a special knack for matching.  Her shoes match her shirt with precision.  Her earrings and her bracelet have the exact same color purple in them.  Her headbands even match her pants which match her socks which match her bag.  In my mind, she has a whole frigging wing of her house dedicated solely to fashionable accessories.

Total matchy-matchy.  I’m always impressed.  I do not have a talent for this, and her outfits amaze me daily.

But there are moments when I have some matchy-matchy magic.  

The Dexcom isn’t meant to replace blood sugar testing, and usually when it BEEEEEEEP!s, I confirm whatever it’s hollering about with a blood sugar test.  I watch the line and see if I’m cruising upwards, falling slowly, or holding steady in a (hopefully) relatively flat line.  BUT when the CGM and the meter are just a point or two away from one another, I can’t help but mentally high-five my technology.

I like it when this shit matches.

I like when things work.  And better, I like when I work – numbers like these make me break out my camera because I want to capture that moment of success.

Small victories:  I haz them, too.

March 11, 2009

Diabetes Back in the Day.

Last night, I found a box of old diaries.  I've been keeping a paper journal since I was seven years old and I have so many hardcover journals with cats and flowers and balloons on them, my handwriting maturing as steadily and awkwardly as my content. 

It's strange, though, to see how little focus I put on diabetes in my previous journaling.  Most of my earlier journals (eight, ten years old at the time) talk about a boy I had a crush on in fourth grade or roller skating on the weekends or battling with my brother and sister.  But there were a few entries in particular that spoke to life with diabetes.  And while I'm not quite ready to recount the long, dramatic entry about my first kiss (gah!), I wanted to share snippets of my diabetes diary from my teenage years (these entries are from when I was 14 and 15):

May 13, 1993:  Beavis and Butthead is over.  It was strange, because they were in school and in home economics.  Their assignment was to carry around a back of sugar as a "baby." But Butthead said he couldn't do it because he was "diatetic."  The teacher reprimanded him by saying, "That's DIABETIC, and yes you can do this."  I'm not exactly sure why, but that comment bothered me.  Alot.  I think it's because I'm so sensitive about being a diabetic.  It makes me wonder how handicapped people feel about 'HandyMan' on In Living Color.  If I feel offended about an off-handed comment, how would someone else feel about a recurring segment?

Was this one of the first moments of diabetes in the mainstream media that I can remember?  I honestly can recall being affected by this, and wishing Butthead had said "diabetes" correctly. 

June 27, 1994:  Today, my mother was talking with [name redacted] about diabetes camp and I couldn't help but overhear.  She said, "As soon as Kerri left, we all relaxed and lead a normal two weeks free of worries and medical stuff."  Am I a burden to my family?  Do they resent my diabetes?  Do I have a "normal" life? 

This isn't to call my mother out for saying this.  I've heard a lot of parents say the same thing about the weeks that their child is away at diabetes camp.  Diabetes requires parents to think on their feet all the time, so the reprieve of having their child away and under constant and capable medical care must have been such a nice break. 

Funny - I've always wanted a break from it, too.

July 6, 1994:  I leave for Clara Barton Camp on Sunday.  I love camp.  We are all incredibly goofy and loved.  It is such a cool feeling to have people who understand it to talk to.  Sometimes I feel alienated at home because I am the only diabetic around.  No one seems to understand the emotions I feel concerning diabetes.  I am frustrated and angry sometimes, and other times I feel bad for myself.  Sometimes I even want sympathy, and that's confusing because I say I don't want to be treated differently at the same time.  It's weird, though, because I want to be able to control every aspect of my health, so when my health emotions get all crazy, I feel like I'm going nuts.  At least at CBC I'm not the only one who feels that way.  If I tried explaining that to my friends, they'd look at me like I was nutso.

Ah, my longing for a diabetes community, even before I knew there would be one online.  :)

And this paper was shoved into my diary from 1991, written on school paper and smelling softly of pencil boxes and recess.  It speaks volumes about how much a 12 year old kid grasps about guilt and diabetes:

A 12 yr old's diabetes to-do list.

It's a lot to carry.  I felt so alone.  And as I read through these diaries late into last night, I was again grateful to know I'm not the only person out there living with this.  The power of this community is tremendous.  I also realized how everything has changed, but at the same time, nothing has changed.

(And some embarrassing diary snapshots coming soon ... once I get the guts!)

March 10, 2009

Blooper Reel: SUM Diabetes Vlogging.

I have the Flip camera in my bag almost all the time, so I make attempts at vlog posts pretty often.  Thing is, they are usually chaos and never make it to the SUM YouTube channel as a "real vlog."

But they do make it into blooper reels.  

Sara, Rachel, and Julia - this is for you. (And my apologies to the French.)

March 09, 2009

Diabetes + Stem Cell Research = Hope.

Go Bama!  Go Bama!Chris and I were talking the other day about something completely random, when he turns to me and says, "Oh, wait.  Did you hear that Obama is signing that bill to reverse the ban on stem cell research?"

"I did."  

"So?  Are you excited?"

And I thought about the last two decades.  How the veiled promise of "five more years and then ..." and still nothing. 

"I'm hopeful.  You know me, baby.  I'm almost always hopeful, but until it's actually real ..."

He gave me a grin.  "We just keep you healthy and hoping, right?  Well, this is a huge leap forward."

And today, we leapt as President Obama reversed the ban.

We'll keep hoping.  With the JDRF actively leading (and Tweeting!) the charge, and with diabetes on the national stage, progress could actually be made.  Not just a product redesign or another clever device, not just another type of insulin or another pill - real progress.   

I'd love to go from "type 1" to "type: cured." 

(I've been itching to use the past tense for a long time now.)

Idle Hands.

I thought that winter was over.  (Stupid move on my part, because my car was iced over at least two days last week.  I gave some thought to bringing out a teacup of hot water before I gave better thought to putting my key in my mouth to warm it up.  But then it was 60 degrees out yesterday and all the snowdrifts melted except the gritty ones in the parking lot at work.  And now it's freezing and rainy again today.  Whoops, digression again?)  Turns out, winter isn’t over.  It’s still chilly, it’s still miserable outside, and I’m still at home watching movies. 

Trouble is, when I’m home hanging out with Chris and watching tv, I tend to want to snack on everything I can get my hands on.  Even when it’s a “healthy” snack like green beans, sugar-free Jell-O, a cup of excellent Lady Gray tea, chicken salad … eating these tasty healthy bits in mass quantities can still make my jeans tight.  

(Note to self:  Kerri, kettle corn is not the best snack.  You don’t need to eat this stuff by the fistful to the point where you find pieces of popcorn stuck inside your shirt sleeve like hours later.  Seriously.  You are becoming a little piggy about this stuff.  Lay off, okay?)

But I’m a snacker.  I like snacks.  And it’s a challenge to keep my hands busy so my mouth isn’t.

Spin me a yarn about idle hands.  And then smack me for making bad puns.

Years ago, my grandmother taught me how to crochet.  With the yarn skimming across my knuckles and the crochet hook in my hand, I’m too busy concentrating on the stitches to think about … oh, say kettle corn.  It’s an “old lady” habit, but it’s definitely a good way to keep me from snacking.  (And now all my family members have handmade scarves.)

But I’m running out of yarn, and my wrist is still a bit on the mend from this tendonitis crap.  Anyone out there have a good way to keep hands busy during the after work snacking hours?  

(And if you were thinking "Photoshopping hats onto the cats," I've already beat you to the punch.)

March 06, 2009

Kerri's Diabetes Technology FAIL.

I've had about three solid weeks of good blood sugar control, with just one or two lows and not many excessive highs.  I celebrated regularly, because this kind of even keel isn't common for me.  And because I'm in hot pursuit of a lower A1C.

So you can imagine my frustration when I had a 400+ blood sugar with no detectable cause - until I realized the pump tubing hadn't clicked into place properly after my shower.  (Something about the sweaters on my teeth and the fact that I was falling asleep face-first into my laptop didn't tip me off, apparently.   I had to wait until the realization of "Hey, haven't you peed three times in an hour?" hit me in full.)

Kerri + Diabetes Technology = FAIL.

(And also, be on the lookout for "fox paws." You'll see what I mean.)

March 05, 2009

I am Spam. Spam I Am.

F spam.Well this has never happened before.

Click.

Subject line:  diabetes 

Email:  rid myself from insulin lowered glucose from 600 mg/dl to avg of 69 mg/dl to118 mg/dl with an A1C reading from11.8 to 5.8 in 190 days check it out [name and URL redacted] doesn't cost a thing...hard to believe but that's life.... 

Fantastic.  Another spam peddler.  But I'm not looking for a war this morning, so I just filed it into the email folder called "Spamtastic" and proceeded to check my other new messages.

Click.

Subject line:  sorry

Email:  I email you before I read your blog sorry that you have a difficult life with diabetes 1 and am sorry I tried to help by referring a wed site to you as you stated "don't e-mail you with snake oils" it's just that somewhere somplace there is help for us for me it's the referral, Your so positive please stay that way and keep helping others as i shall. Sorry for imposing on you

Wait, what?  An apologetic spammer?  They read the How to Pitch to Bloggers post and the one about snake oil?  And they admitted that they spam people for the referral bonus?  Someone who is sorry that they imposed?  And bothered to email me to follow up?

This is a milestone.  I'm not sure what kind, but it's definitely never happened to me before.  Are we getting through to these people?  Are our raised voices actually being heard?

March 04, 2009

Her Dream Assignment.

Vote for Michelle!!!As I've mentioned countless times before, I love the CWD forum folk.  They are compassionate, kind, and always doing their best to raise awareness for diabetes.

I received an email from one of my friends at CWD this morning about Michelle Rago, a CWD mom who is aiming to make a difference using her camera ... and her heart. 

Here are the details: 

"One of the longtime CWD moms, Michelle Rago, has entered a contest - a photography contest. The winner wins $50,000 to photograph her proposed subjects. Her proposal is to document people with type 1, doing both type 1 type things and their favorite things.

In her words: 'I would like to photograph children with Type 1 diabetes doing two things: 1. testing their blood sugar or injecting insulin and 2. doing their favorite thing. I would like to exhibit the photos to raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes.'"

Right now, Michelle is No. 3 in the contest, behind by a good number of votes, but we can help her climb to the top!  Voting goes from March 3 - April 3, so there's time to rally the diabetes community behind Michelle and help her win and raise awareness for a cause we all care so much about.  

Go to the Name Your Dream Assignment site, register, and cast your vote for Michelle.  A win for her is a win for diabetes advocacy!     

March 03, 2009

More Things I Found.

I found this handbag online, too, and I love it.It's become apparent that I'm more scattered these days than ever before.  I think I need a personal assistant, but one who can tolerate my mood swings, coffee addiction, and propensity for making up my own curse words.  Maybe someone from California Closets would be a good place to start, judging by the crap I found this morning:

Things I found in my workbag:
  Two iPod shuffles (both of which I thought I lost months ago),  a bottle of test strips with Code 22 (like every bottle I’ve opened in the last three months),  a TubeGuard, the cord that connects my meter to the computer for blood sugar downloads, the electric bill (whoa), a moleskin journal that I drag everywhere with me, and one lonely penny from 1994.

Things I found in my car:  Three discarded test strips, two Elbow cds, and a center console crammed with Dunkin Donuts napkins.  (Does that sound like the 12 Days of Christmas to anyone but me?  No?  Bueller?)

Things I found in the grocery bag: 
  Ahem

Things I found in my email inbox that I forgot about:
  An email from my mom asking me to confirm that I’m alive.  (Whoops – sorry, Mom.  I’m alive!)

Things I found hiding between the shower curtain and the liner when I climbed into the shower this morning: 
Siah.  I yelled.  She purred.  It was an odd scene.

Things I found in the work parking lot:  One small bird who was trying desperately to get inside of a discarded coffee cup.  I watched for a minute to make sure it wasn’t stuck, and laughed when I realized it was trying to snuggle up to it.  Apparently this bird didn't dig yesterday's snow extravaganza!

Things I found in my coffee cup:
  A tea bag.  That was unexpected, and proved how tired I was when I was trying to get my caffeine fix this morning.

Things I found in my bed this morning:  One fat Abby cat hiding under a pile of blankets and a rogue Dexcom receiver floating around.

Things I found funny:  This link from SomethingAwful - Real Books That Look Like Photoshops.  The "Barkley vs. Godzilla" made me laugh so hard my nose threatened to fly off my face. If you can look at these books without laughing, you are way more mature than I am.

Things I found out:  That I am in dire need of a vacation! 

March 02, 2009

Froast.

FROAST!!!

When I'm getting ready to go to the gym at night, I change up into my workout clothes and then test my blood sugar.  For a cardio workout, I like to at least start in the 160 - 180  mg/dl range,  but sometimes my numbers are lower than that at 6 pm.

Chris makes his protein shake and we talk about stuff that happened that day.

"So I was talking with [CoWorker] about this thing at work and ..." I lick the blood off my finger and see a result of 98 mg/dl.  I walk over to the freezer and open up the bag of whole wheat bread, grabbing a slice.  Still talking, though. 

"... it could really help bolster community so we were thinking about making that our next project.  What do you think?"  I bite into cold, almost completely frozen slice of bread, the chill making it easy to swallow.  Chew, chew, chew - all set.

"Good idea.  Also, you'll be good to go in a few minutes?"

"Yeah.  Having some froast and I'm good to go."

Froast.  Frozen toast.  I eat this all the time and only now am I realizing how (perhaps) slightly unusual it is.  Doesn't everyone get their carbohydrate fix by chomping into a frozen slice of whole wheat bread, sans butter or jam or any kind of condiment?

Chris thinks this is the oddest thing, but I do it all the time and barely think anything of it anymore. 

"Wouldn't it be fread?  Like frozen bread?"

We have this discussion more often than two creative people with social skills should.

"No, because it's frozen.  That's what makes it firm.  So it's like toast, only not cripsy from heat.  More solid from cold."

"Oh.  Okay.  That makes sense."

Not "fread."  Not "broast."  Not "brozen."  FROAST.  It's a frigging weirdo staple in my diet. Froast is a way for me to grab some carbs and keep my blood sugar holding a bit steadier instead of downing fast-acting slugs of juice and empty calories.  I hate the idea of drinking my calories and would much rather have a good old fashioned slice of froast.  At least it's something of substance.  Froasty goodness!

Weird food habits:  I haz them.

(Note to readers:  I never claimed to make any sense.  It's a tangled diabetes web I weave, and it includes the consumption of frozen bread.)

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