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September 30, 2009

Helper.

When I make a list of people who have helped with our move, this hobo cat is not on it. 

Most unhelpful cat in the world.  Who loves that "hobo" look.

Give her a can of beans and a lighter and she's fine.  And I'm starting to wonder about that one ear there.  It's never quite straight.

(Yes, posts are light this week.  My apartment is a mess, my job is grinding to a close, and my mind may have been accidentally FedEx'd to Boston.  Hoping someone signs for it.) 

September 29, 2009

Inspired by the Parents.

Parents of kids with diabetes - it's a full time job.Last night I had a chance to sit with some parents here in Norwalk and talk about our collective experiences with diabetes.  These parents were taking care of children with diabetes, ranging from the newly diagnosed three year old to the newly diagnosed 13 year old, and everywhere in between.  High school angst, the issues of disclosure, the pursuit of "perfection," and all those other issues that parents of kids with diabetes, and the kids themselves, are dealing with.

"I was invited here to talk about how to raise a child with diabetes without losing your mind.  But I'm not really qualified to talk about that sort of thing, to be honest.  I'm not the parent of a diabetic child.  I am the diabetic child."

The parents at this group were wonderful, all actively engaged in their child's health, just trying to make sense of what diabetes doles out every day.  We were a small group - about 12 of us in total - so the conversation flowed pretty smoothly and comfortably.  And we hit upon some very intimate issues.

Like menstrual cycles and their impact on blood sugars.  (Remind me again why I'm talking about puberty and my female hormones with strangers?)  Or the dodgy things I did as a kid to lash out at my diabetes or my parents or at life in general.

I admitted to hitting the old school glucose meters with a touch of rubbing alcohol so that the result would come up lower.  I also admitted to knowing that my mother hid ice cream sandwiches in the frozen vegetable boxes, but I ate them despite her efforts. 

"I wasn't the best kid, and definitely not the best kid with diabetes, but I made it through okay.  And my parents and I?  We still talk.  And we still like each other."

They laughed.  

"What advice do you have for parents who are dealing with teenagers?  What's on the 'don't ever say that,' list?"

And the only thing I could think of was the epic "We."  

"It's just that one pronoun.  The 'we.'  We need to test our blood sugar.  We need to take our injection.  We have diabetes.  This always drove me nuts because unless my mother was testing her blood sugar or my father was taking an injection, they weren't diabetic.  They didn't know what the lows and the highs felt like, only what it felt like to watch the highs and lows and to feel those moments externally and emotionally."

The group nodded, understanding.

"But it wasn't until I was older that I realized the 'we' concept did apply.  It wasn't just me.  It was all of us, as a family, living with this disease.  And even though I was the one who had diabetes, my parents were dealing with something, too.  Diabetes has a lot of different sides to it, and it doesn't just affect the person who actually has it.  So it is a 'we' thing.  We live with diabetes, as a family.  And it took me a long time to realize that."

One of the parents piped up.  "How long?"

"Like ... yesterday morning?  Maybe Friday, at the earliest." 

She laughed.  Another parent asked, "When will my kid figure that part out?" 

"I don't know, honestly.  Everyone's experiences vary.  For me, diabetes wa a dragon that we, as a family, fought together.  We didn't fight one another, but it was us against IT.  And now, I'm a married woman with a husband who goes to the doctor with my instead of my mom and dad going, and my mother has no idea how this insulin pump works or how the CGM works or what the hell 'basal insulin' is, but she still has the same protective instincts, and still works hard to take care of me."

"Even just this past Friday, at my Joslin appointment, I saw this CDE I'd never met before.  This lady was critical of every number, every moment of my management, and yelled at me for doing too much while she yelled at me for not doing enough.  I was feeling pretty emotional after 45 minutes of this, so I went to take a break to calm down, leaving the CDE and my mother alone in the room together."

"And I guess while I was gathering my wits in the bathroom, my mother, who had been sitting there quietly and watching the fireworks, leaned towards this CDE and said, 'It's been a long, emotional day.  And you are supposed to support her, not rip her apart.  I think you should tone it down a bit, don't you?'"

"I guess you don't ever age out of being the parent of a kid with diabetes."

Diabetes is a journey, and for some of these parents, they've been on it for many, many years.  For others, they are just beginning to take those first steps.  And for me, with more than two decades with type 1, it was beyond amazing to see them gathered together around the table to find answers, find support, and find inspiration.

September 28, 2009

Good Morning.

Everything is chaos.  Spent Friday at Joslin (went very well - more on that later), picked up Chris at the airport after he had spent a week in Los Angeles (here's an update on what he's doing - so proud!!), and then Sunday was spent signing our new lease, buying furniture for our new place, and driving back to CT one last time to finish off my last week at work. 

I'm exhausted.  And a little bit stressed out.

And no, Siah, I didn't need to see your little face and your alien ears at 5:30 in the morning:

Good morning, alien cat.

 I hope you're ready for a three hour car ride, Sausage.   

September 24, 2009

You Know You're a Diabetic When ...

You know you're a diabetic when ... you see what appears to be this:

Owie!!

And you freak out for a full minute because you thought it was a nasty, messy blister but you forgot about when you ate this:

Rogue raspberry

And a rogue raspberry landed in this: 

Fruit in my shoe - not a blister.
Making you hit this:
OH GOD NOT THE PANIC BUTTON!
 

Oh diabetes.  You are warping my little brain this week!  

(And this whole "You Know You're a Diabetic When ..." concept is not new.  There's a Facebook group, a TuDiabetes discussion, and a blog post on Diabetes Mine.  Apparently, there's a lot of this going around!  Have you had these moments?  Share 'em!)

September 23, 2009

Patients For a Moment: SUM Edition.

Patients for a Moment:  Hosting at SixUntilMeFor many of us who are writing medical blogs and reading blogs like this one, we're patients every day. Being a patient isn't something we chose, and it's not something we can avoid.  But we can do is share our experiences with one another and show our readers how life as a patient can really be.  And that is a powerful experience.

This is where Patients for a Moment comes in.  This new blog carnival, started by Duncan Cross, puts the focus on patients, and lets us tell it like it is.  I'm honored to be hosting this week, and thrilled to have to many diabetes bloggers, both new and old, representing!!!  Here we go ...

Thanks for all of your submissions, and be on the lookout for upcoming editions of this patient-focused blog carnival!

September 22, 2009

Still More SEO.

SUM more SEO terms for this ol' diabetes blog.The SEO terms that lead people to SUM make me scratch my head.  Over the past few months, I've had some real winners, and a few that made me repeat the Google search just to see how the heck that was possible to get them from "there" to "here."  But poking through the search engine terms over the last few weeks has made me laugh - and question the logic of Google - all at the same time, and I wanted to share the latest:

can type 1 diabetic marry and live well - Yes, I believe that they can.

i wear a pump for my diabetes, what is my life span - I'm hoping a really, really long time, my friend.

type 1 diabetes and energy blog - I'm hoping this means that you think I have a lot of energy.  It was the coffee, I tell you.  On decaf, I'm decidely more docile.  (See also:  Zzzz ... zzzz)

what is type 1 diabetes insulin made of - Going out on a limb to guess "insulin" on this one.

clifford noodle soup - Can't picture anything other than a big bowl of Big, Red Dog.  With noodles.  Ew.

Kerri leaving dLife - True

cereal for dogs - Are you talking about the Barkfast of Chompions?  Guilty as Googled.

I am happy - You know what?  I'm glad that search brought you here.  I am happy.  I hope you are, too.

oh what an ocd morning - Oh what an OCD day!  I've got an OCD feeling that everything's going to be counted eight times today.

And the winner this round?

Cat in a banana - OH HELL YES!

September 21, 2009

Hanging on by a Thread.

I will do just about anything to keep a Dexcom sensor stuck for more than seven days.  Wearing the sensor on my thigh has been very effective because my that location allowed for a little less friction in the summer months, thanks to skirts and summer dresses.

With a little maintenance (read:  using bandaids to help stick down the sides that threaten to peel), I've been able to go from barely seven days with a sensor to an 11 or 12 day streak.  This is a huge milestone for me because a few months ago, that thing would have been melting off my body after four days, at best.

This Dexcom sensor is hanging on by a thread.

But they look like garbage once I'm ready to pull them off.  (And you can see the outline of the bandaid I had slapped on there for a few days in efforts to keep the sides from peeling back.  Not ghetto at all.)

These sensors are expensive.  And I treat them with appropriate respect.  (Also, they sting a bit to put in, so once they're in, I want to keep them there for as long as humanly possible.)  Which is why when they fail, I'm frustrated.   

I had my first ever "Sensor Failed" on Saturday.  Once the sensor in the photo above peeled beyond my ability to save it, I pulled it off and reapplied a new one.  No pain, no worries, fired up that sensor and waited for the two hour calibration period to pass.

Only the thing kept throwing "???" in the box instead of that shuffling gray line.  

"What the hell?"

After a full hour of triple question marks, I hit "Stop Sensor" on the receiver and restarted it again.  Almost instantly, the triple question marks came back.  Then, about twenty minutes later, the receiver BEEEEEEEP!ed loudly and I saw this screen for the first time:

"Sensor Failed."

Oh come on.

Because I'm both stubborn AND cheap, I restarted that same sensor again.  And again.  I spent about six hours starting and restarting that same sensor, in effort to keep from having to pull it on its first day of work.  I even consulted the online product information to see if there was something I was doing wrong.  By the time I left my friend's house and headed home, the sensor had died three separate times.  I knew the thing was kicked, so I went home to reinstall a new one.

Two hours later, the second sensor of the day was up, running, and giving me results that were within 10 mg/dl of my meter.  Like it has been for the last three months.  Like it should, in my opinion.  And today I'll send a quick email to Dexcom and let them know that the sensor wasn't as snuggly as usual.

The Dexcom, in my opinion, helped me improve my A1C.  It helped me stay on top of my blood sugar numbers instead of spending a few hours at a clip ignoring them entirely, and when it BEEEEEEP!s in the middle of the night and alerts me to a low my body hasn't acknowledged with symptoms yet, I'm grateful.  

It's not a perfect technology.  But it's worth the effort.

[Dexcom disclosure]

September 20, 2009

Quick Note: Patients for a Moment.

Hey guys - I'm hosting the Patients For a Moment blog carnival on September 23rd, and I'm looking for your posts!  This is a relatively new blog carnival started by patient blogger Duncan Cross and the focus is to highlight blogs by patients or about patients.

If you are a patient blogger, or a medical blogger who has a great post focusing on patients, I want to encourage you to send your post to me at kerri (at) sixuntilme (dot) com so I can include your post in the blog carnival round up!

Please follow this format for submission and please email your submissions by midnight on Monday, September 21st:

Blog Name:
URL:
Author:
Post Name:
Permalink:
Synopsis:

Thanks, and I'm looking forward to hosting your posts!

September 18, 2009

30 Things About My Invisible Illness.

It's the meme taking the chronic illness bloggers by storm ... and I wanted to cram this one in before Invisible Illness Week came to a close.  Here's my edition of 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know.

   1. The illness I live with is: type 1 diabetes
   2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1986
   3. But I had symptoms since: the summer before
   4. The biggest adjustment I've had to make is: adjusting to the changing demands of a disease that doesn't sit still for even a second.
   5. Most people assume: that diabetes isn't a serious disease. They couldn't be more wrong.
   6. The hardest part about mornings are: when the start out of range.  Or with a cat on my head. 
   7. My favorite medical TV show is: I actually don't like medical TV shows.  I'd rather watch Family Guy.
   8. A gadget I couldn't live without is: my glucose meter.
   9. The hardest part about nights are: having low blood sugars in the middle of them.
  10. Each day I take 2 pills & vitamins: I take a prenatal vitamin, blood pressure medication.  And then there's that whole "insulin" thing 24/7.
  11. Regarding alternative treatments: I think that insulin is the only course of treatment that works for type 1 diabetes right now.  But I believe that an overall healthy lifestyle is important, regardless of someone's medical history.
  12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: These choices suck.  I'd rather not have any illness, thank you very much.
  13. Regarding working and career: I work.  And I have a career. And I'm finally making diabetes work for me, instead of against me, in a financial sense.
  14. People would be surprised to know: that it's not as easy as we make it look.  Sometimes it hurts in every way.
  15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: that I have no memory of the "old" reality.
  16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: get married.  I'm not sure what put the thought in my head as a child, but the doctors scared the pants off my family and I when I was diagnosed.  They had us convinced that I might not be healthy as an adult, and that I may be "hard to love."  Pfffft.
  17. The commercials about my illness: are never about MY illness.  They are always about type 2 diabetes.
  18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: I have no idea - um, I'm sure I liked Halloween more before I was diagnosed, in second grade. 
  19. It was really hard to have to give up: hoping for a cure.
  20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: ... these questions are hard because my diabetes has been in the game for almost all of my life.  I don't know what new hobbies I picked up in 1986, but you can bet that there weren't any hobbies I avoided as a result of being diabetic.
  21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: do nothing.  That would be awesome, to just sit around and hang out, without worrying about a single number.
  22. My illness has taught me: to be strong.  And to be realistic.
  23. One thing people say that gets under my skin is:  "That's not a big deal. It's better than __________"  You know what?  It is way better than a lot of things.  But that doesn't make it any less hard some days.
  24. But I love it when people: really try to understand, and see me as a person, not just as a diabetic.
  25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: "This, too, shall pass."
  26. When someone is diagnosed I'd like to tell them: that they aren't alone.  And they'll be okay.
  27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: that it's not the definition of who I am.  It's just a small part of the bigger ... problem person.  ;)
  28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn't feeling well was: leave me alone. 
  29. I'm involved with Invisible Illness Week because: if we don't raise our voices, we remain invisible.
  30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: ... like you might post your own list. 

Get involved with Invisible Illnes Week and let people know that just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.  And have a great weekend!

The Perfect Storm of Stupid.

Perfect storm of stupid.  And balls. I didn't check my pump before I left for work yesterday morning.  Not a big deal - I live close to work and I have back-up supplies at my office anyway, so there wasn't much I couldn't pinch hit for.  When the day started, I had about 20 units left in my pump to get me through to 5:30 pm.

No problem.  I'm using about 16 throughout the course of a day at the moment, so I wasn't worried about running out.  I went to work and did my thing.

But I forgot about our editorial dinner plans after work, taking place at my coworker's house, located about 40 minutes away.

And I also completely blanked when I went home for lunch because I was so hungry and so distracted by what I was working to finish before deadline at work that I neglected to refill my pump reservoir.

And I also was so elated by a freelance opportunity that came in late afternoon that I ended up racing out of the office, en route to dinner, without grabbing the insulin pen from my desk drawer.   

So I'm in the car.  Driving up to dinner.  With six units of insulin in my pump. 

"We're having apple crumb cake for dessert!" said my coworker's excited email.

I am Kerri's perfect storm of stupid.   

A few things were working in my favor:  the Dexcom had me flatlining, for over three hours, at 98 mg/dl.  I also had enough insulin in my pump reservoir to draw out a unit or two with the syringe I keep in my insulin case.  So there were options.

I didn't panic.  I just thought I'd lay low, eat conservatively, and ride it out until I got home and could change my pump.

Throughout dinner, I kept a close eye on the Dexcom and tested every 30 minutes or so to confirm.  But after a dinner of vegetables, chicken, and delicious rice, I saw the graph starting to spike a little bit.  Not crazy, but edging towards 150 mg/dl for the first time that day.  I avoided the crumb cake.  And knowing I had very little insulin left after dinner (only 0.3 retrievable units), I started to get a little anxious.

So I reached into my kit for that syringe.  

Which wasn't there.  

I am a maelstrom in Kerri's perfect storm of stupid.

In an idiotic move, I waited.  And then, about an hour later, went into the bathroom, removed the insulin cartridge from my pump, and stuck my pinky finger into the end of it to press more insulin into the tubing.  I've done this a few times when desperate, and knowing I had about an hour before I'd get home, even if I left right then, made me willing to take the foolish risk.

Another 30 minutes went by.  My numbers hit 177 mg/dl and stalled there, which made me think it was going to be okay.  I left my coworker's house and drove back home.  Once I got home, I switched out my pump immediately and then relaxed for a little bit.  Numbers were steady-ish, but nothing that made me jumpy.  

"Oh, starting to dip a bit."  The Dexcom said I was 101 and falling, and my meter confirmed with an 81 mgm/dl.  "I'm going to down a swig of juice and a kiwi before bed."

Chris:  "Why are you talking to yourself?"

Me:  "Because ... I don't know.  It's expository for the blog post, I suppose."

Chris:  "Okay."

Right before bed, I was 111 mg/dl, steady Dexcom, and feeling okay. So I went to sleep.

What makes this perfect storm of stupid particularly ... stupid is that my move in the bathroom with the unmeasured bolus was a disaster.  I had no idea how much insulin I'd taken, and I only knew some made it into my skin because of the little pinch I felt.  I could have taken one unit, four units ... or who knows how many.  But I'm obsessively stalking these highs and I was willing to take the risk.  Which wasn't smart at all.

Because at 2:51 am, I woke up completely drenched in sweat, my tongue a deflated balloon in my mouth, and panic buried underneath my exhaustion.  A full glass of juice, a concerned husband, a messy Kerri, and a prowling, yowling Abby.  A blood sugar of 38 mg/dl a few minutes after downing the grape juice. 

A perfect storm of stupid.

Preparation can't be overemphasized.  When your pancreas doesn't make it's own insulin and you're relying upon external sources, and when every food excursion depends on your careful calculation, winging it can cause problems on either side of the scale.  And all the lectures and blog posts and well-intentioned moments can't replace good, old fashioned stupid human behavior.

I am Kerri's hairdryer, running at 3 am because the sweat from the low was so copious and nasty.  I am Kerri's low blood sugar walk of shame.  I am speaking in third person because I'm so beat down tired today.

Diabetes, dude, you are The Suck.    

September 17, 2009

Cat Head.

A lovely commenter, Fran, leaving a lovely comment:

"PS how do you get your cats to sleep with you. all my cats have to sleep just out of arms reach - you wear cat nip?"

Oh Fran.  It's not my fault.  I wish I could make it stop.  I do not wear cat nip.  I don't have a headband made of Tender Vittles.  I don't even leave any room for the stupid cat on the pillow.

There is no peace.  From this one, either.

Yet she comes.

And sleeps.

On my head.

Every night. 

(At least she's a decent back-up CGM.  As noted here.  And here.  And she's pretty darn cute, even though she's 16 lbs of fat cat mess.) 

September 16, 2009

Meme: I've come to realize ...

Stolen from George, who lifted it from LeeAnn, who got it from ... well, I'm not sure.  But I'm completely mentally spent, so I needed a meme to help bring my brain back up to speed.  Here we go!

1. I’ve come to realize that my chest-size … is a weird topic to discuss at the beginning of an Internet meme.

2. I’ve come to realize that my job … is something I'm grateful for, and am sad to leave behind.  But I am so excited to see what's next.

3. I’ve come to realize that when I’m driving … I am usually going over the speed limit.

4. I’ve come to realize that I need … and appreciate love.

5. I’ve come to realize that I have lost
… very little when compared to others, and I grateful for my life's opportunities.

6. I’ve come to realize that I hate it when … I lose my patience and my compassion.

7. I’ve come to realize that if I’m drunk
… I'm fun.  And sometimes I dance on bars.

8. I’ve come to realize that money
… shouldn't be the only reason why people stay at their jobs.

9. I’ve come to realize that certain people
… will never like me.  And I've also come to realize that their acceptance doesn't matter to me.

10. I’ve come to realize that I’ll always
… have my integrity.  And hopefully my teeth.

11. I’ve come to realize that my siblings … and I have so much in common but are so, so different.

12. I’ve come to realize that my mom … is my best friend.

13. I’ve come to realize that my cell phone
… might be my second-best-friend.

14. I’ve come to realize that when I woke up this morning … I had a cat on my head.  And one at my feet.  Yet Chris remained untouched by the feline irritants.  What gives?

15. I’ve come to realize that last night before I went to sleep
… I fell in love with him all over again.

16. I’ve come to realize that right now I am thinking
… that memes are a good way to get my brain stirring again.

17. I’ve come to realize that my dad … and I have a relationship that we've fought hard for and have earned.

18. I’ve come to realize that when I get on Facebook … I promptly update my status to reflect something mundane.  I have to stop doing that.

19. I’ve come to realize that today … will never be duplicated, so I should go do something fun.

20. I’ve come to realize that tonight … will end with my husband's arms around me ... and most like an issue involving the cats.  (See No. 14.)

21. I’ve come to realize that tomorrow
… is bringing me closer to my future.

22. I’ve come to realize that I really want to … be a mom.

23. I’ve come to realize that the person who is most likely to repost this is … up to you.

24. I’ve come to realize that life
… is what you make of it.

25. I’ve come to realize that this weekend
… is mine!!

26. I’ve come to realize that marriage
… means family.  With or without children, we are still a family.

27. I’ve come to realize that my friends … make me so happy.

28. I’ve come to realize that this year
… is one of tremendous change and I am so, so excited.

29. I’ve come to realize that my ex is … a wonderful person.

30. I’ve come to realize that maybe I should
… sleep a bit more. The bags under my eyes are throwing out a pretty direct hint.

31. I’ve come to realize that I love
… people I've never even met.

32. I’ve come to realize that I don’t understand
… anything yet, even though I've been on this planet for 30 years.  

33. I’ve come to realize my past
… is something I've learned from.  And am thankful for.

34. I’ve come to realize that parties
… don't stop 'til they reach the top.

35. I’ve come to realize that I’m totally terrified
… of memes.

If your brain is foggy this morning, grab a cup of (decaf? blah) coffee and settle down with this meme.  :) 

September 15, 2009

Diabetes in a Recession.

My diabetes supplies arrived the other day.  Some infusion sets, dozens of boxes of test strips, and insulin pump reservoirs.  Usually the supplies come in a box marked "Byrem Healthcare" and have a mail order slip on the side.

Gauzey!

But the recession is hitting diabetes companies, it seems.  And my supplies came, this round, in a box that once held gauze sponges.  With what appeared to be a man in the fetal position on the side of the box.

I, for one, am glad to see some recycling going on.  But if they ship my next order crammed into a massive stuffed animal bear, I may lose it.

September 14, 2009

Invisible Illness: Type 1 Diabetes.

If you just snapped a quick picture, you wouldn't see it.  Not unless you were looking for the small signs, like my insulin pump.  Or my spotted fingertips.    

Type 1 diabetes isn't something you can see on me.  It's not an illness that, at this point in my life, comes with any constant external symptoms.  I am fortunate enough to not use a wheelchair or need vision assistance devices.  You can't see my disease, even though it's something I manage every day.

I seem "normal."  (Stop laughing.  Let me use the word normal for the sake of this blog post, at the very least!)  I seem like your average 30 year old professional woman (again, stop laughing), recently married, inspired to achieve, and happy.

And I am happy. 

But my good health is not without great effort.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic illness, and one that has required daily maintenance and effort from me, and from my caregivers, for the last 23 years. Every morning starts with my meter.  Every meal I've eaten in the last two plus decades has been preceeded by a blood sugar check and an insulin dose.  And every night has my finger pricked by a lancet before my head hits the pillow.

This isn't a pity party.  Not by a long shot.  My life is healthy and I have a very fulfiling existance, even if days are bookended by diabetes and even if I'm now wearing medical devices 24 hours a day, every single day.  And back when I was a fresh-faced litttle kiddo, people seemed to want to cure my disease because they didn't like the idea of a small child dealing with this disease.  

Kids are fun to cure.  They're cute.  And their futures seem worth investing in.

What confuses me is how quickly people forget.  Type 1 diabetes became a part of my life a long time ago, and I don't remember even a snippet of "the before."  But even though I've lived very well with this disease and kept it from defining me in any way, it's still here.  And it's still something I deal with every day, regardless of how well or poorly controlled.  But just because I'm no longer a little kid with the bright, shining future, am I any less diabetic?  Any less deserving of that cure?  Just because you can't see my disease, and because I seem to have it under physical and emotional control, does not mean it's past the point of deserving a cure. 

Here is a vlog post that I did back in February about vlogging during a low blood sugar and how "diabetes can look so normal yet feel so rotten."   It's a video that shows how invisible diabetes can be, but how visible it feels from the perspective of those who live with it:

Children with diabetes grow up to be adults with diabetes.  And all the while, we're still ready for progress. And for hope.  And for a cure.

This week, September 14 - 20th, is Invisible Illness Awareness Week.  And today, I'm raising my voice for type 1 diabetes. 

September 11, 2009

Twenty Three is a Good Time for Change.

Twenty three years ago, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And today, I've got nothing but hope in my heart.

During the course of the last three years, Chris and I have taken steps in our relationship to become a family, going from "boyfriend and girlfriend" to "husband and wife," and becoming the Sparlings (or the Sparklings or Spauldings or Sparrings ... pick your favorite mangled version).  And we have hopes to even out the cat:human ratio in our home in the coming year, now that my numbers are in range.

Living here in Connecticut has been a very interesting experience, and I've loved working at dLife.  I absolutely love my coworkers and I know that this kind of team could never, ever be duplicated.  We've gone through a lot together, as a team, and I feel that these fabulous women are not just working alongside me every day, but they are also my friends.  (I mean, they danced at my wedding, for crying out loud!) 

I've also loved living somewhere new and having easy access to a city like New York.  Chris and I have seen so much of the city and have always felt like very thankful tourists.  But there's still more to see.  And more places to explore.

So now, as a family, we've decided it's time to move forward and explore a new place.  We're craving change.  Thanks to some tremendous career advances for my husband and the opportunties that are unfolding for him over the next few months, and thanks to the opportunities that SUM and dLife have opened up for me since I started blogging in 2005, we're on the move once more.  At the end of the month, I'll be leaving my current position at dLife and taking on a consulting role with the company.  I'm also broadening my freelance and consulting career to include other opportunities, and I'm really excited about where the next few months will take me.  Where they'll take my family.

I'm so ready for this.

My handsome husband and I are bidding Connecticut a fond farewell and heading up towards the Boston area to embrace a new chapter in our lives.  We're sad to go, on some levels, but thrilled to move onward and upward.  It's time, and we're excited to see what's next!!!

Thanks for all of your continued support.  It means the world to me.  Now I'm looking forward to seeing if Siah is too fat to shove into her cat carrier.  (It may be time for a bigger one, judging by her potbelly.)

When it's time to change, it's time to rearrANGE.

Silence: Eight Years.

 

 

 

 

September 10, 2009

A1C Payoff.

Oh hell yes.I've worked very hard over the last few weeks.  There's no denying that.  

I've logged blood sugar numbers on the Kevin spreadsheet and busted my butt to keep up with the maintenance of those logbooks.

Chris and I have counted carb after carb, making sure that I'm dosing accordingly.

I have changed some of my "bad habits" here and there in efforts to get crap under better control in pursuit of BabySparl.  (I even gave up coffee.  For anyone who knows me, THAT is a huge thing.  Huge-r than logging numbers.)

And yesterday, after spending the entire day under the weather, my phone rang.  Dr. CT was calling with my A1C results.

"Kerri?  This is Dr. CT.  I have your blood work back."

I was napping off my illness just before she called, so I had to shove the cat off my head and rub the sleep from my eyes.  "Okay.  How'd I do?"

"Wonderful.  This is just great - such progress!  You're at 6.3%.  You have done a fine job."

"No kidding?  6.3?  That's the lowest I've had in years.  Ever, maybe."

"Well I wanted to call and tell you personally.  I saw these results and said, 'Oh.  This will be a fun call!'"  

"Thanks, Dr. CT.  Thanks for calling."

And that's that. 

There's so much swirling around me right now and so much change on the horizon that I'm excited, ready, scared, and overwhelmed and all I can think is that tomorrow marks 23 years that I've been living with type 1 diabetes and I'm still learning so much every.  single.  day.

September 09, 2009

The Weather -

- I'm under it.  See you tomorrow!

September 08, 2009

Six Little Habits: The Bad Ones.

I WILL be good!Taking a cue from Rachel and Cherise, I wanted to post my diabetes "bad habits."  (Unfortunately, it didn't take long to come up with six.)  But thankfully, after months and months of extreme tweaking, my bad habits aren't nearly as bad as they used to be.

1.  Bolus-Stacking.  (See also:  rage bolusing)  I have a very, very bad habit of stacking boluses when my blood sugar is high.  You know ... test and see that 212 mg/dl, take  two units to correct it back to 100 ... test again 45 minutes later to see 245 mg/dl staring back at you ... freak out and take another unit for good measure ... test one more time an hour later to see no real change ... lace in two more units because you're angry and frustrated and sick of the high ... only to crash five hours later with a 45 mg/dl with your face mushed into a can of Pillsbury frosting.  Not that I've done that. But if I were to do that, it might play out just like that.

2.  Carb Winging It.  Until recently, I've been an estimator.  A SWAGger (scientific wild-ass guesser).  Someone who kind of wings the whole carb-counting thing and hopes that there were only about 15 grapes in that snack bag or that the apple was really "small" instead of "medium."  With the little weeny doses of insulin I take, counting carbs with precision is crucial to making sure my numbers stay stable, so when I'm guessing as to the carb count, the blood sugar results go all over the place. 

3.  Shooting with a Mouthful.  This is a bad habit pointing out by my endocrinologist a few months ago, and one that was wicked hard to break.  And I have no idea how I ended up in this terrible habit to begin with, but it's not good.  I had a terrible tendency to start eating, then decide to bolus.  Even if the carbs were counted perfectly and the insulin dose went in without issue, I wasn't giving the insulin any time to act before introducing the carbs.  Thus, making my numbers go berserk after meals.  No more shooting while I'm eating. Now I need to shoot up before eating.  Makes a big difference. 

4.  Self-Consious During Workouts.  Another bad habit.  When I go to the gym, I used to leave my insulin pump at home and then reconnect when I returned.  It worked out to keep me from going low during workouts, yes, but it was also because I didn't like having the device attached to me while I was wearing form-fitting workout clothes.  Stupid Kerri.  Sure, I was avoiding the lows, but I was also ending up close to 180 mg/dl by the end of my workout.  With pre-pregnancy goals of 150 or lower, this is unacceptable.  So I have to suck it up and wear the pump while I exercise and even sometimes go easier during a workout to avoid lows, instead of sacrificing blood sugar control for an extra mile on the treadmill.

5.  Log Lagging.  I have a good habit of starting logbooks, but a terrible time keeping up with them.  This has been a hard habit to break (habit to break), but I'm close to turning it around.  Logbooks are my diets - I am excellent at the outset, but then I fall apart.  Thankfully, I've got a team at Joslin and a husband at home who are helping keep me accountable, and it's making a world of difference.

6.  Blame Game.  And a sixth (but certainly not the last) bad diabetes habit that I have is my role in the blame game.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things "right" and when the diabetes outcome isn't what I'm hoping for, I tend to blame myself.  I have to constantly remind myself that strong efforts and a decent attitude go a long way in this marathon, and I can't beat myself up for every low or high that crops up randomly.  Diabetes isn't fair, and it isn't easy, and it sure as hell isn't my fault, so I just need to roll with the punches as gracefully as I can.

What are your diabetes bad habits?  Or maybe it's better to ask - what are your good diabetes habits?  I'm going to have to concoct another "good" list soon - they're way more fun.  :)

September 04, 2009

The Friday Six: Twitter Silliness Edition.

The Friday Six:  September 4, 2009 editionTwitter is a place where I share a lot of diabetes factoids, like blood sugar issues, Dexcom stuff, and moments of sheer diabetes stupidity.  It's also where I post a lot of things that have NOTHING to do with ... well, anything, really.  Pure nonsense.  It's a potluck of information that isn't totally diabetes-related, but touches upon that theme, as I wrote in my SUM Musings column this month on diaTribe. 

And for those who aren't participating in Twitter discussions and that whole mess, I wanted to share some links here that went up on Twitter.  Because they're fun.  And because it's Friday and quite frankly, I don't want to think about anything serious today.  :)

So here's the Friday Six:  Twitter Silliness Edition.   

1.  I don't remember a damn thing about the 70's (I was only there for a year), but I do remember every single moment of this clip from Sesame Street.  "One, two, three, four, five, sixseveneightnineten, eleven, twelve." And it wasn't until I looked the clip up that I realized the song was sung by the Pointer Sisters.  Trivia!

2.  My coworker sent me this cartoon, and I laughed hard because it reminded me of all the "MICE!  CURED OF TYPE 1 DIABETES!" headlines that I've seen on almost a daily basis for the last 15 years.  (Warning:  The language isn't very warm and friendly in this cartoon, so click at your own risk.)

3.  I don't have much of an explanation for this, other than seeing references to drunk hamsters in my newswire feed made me laugh.   

4.  When someone told me about a video with a singing cat and a rapping dog, I was ready to be amused and then move on.  But this video made me grin because the yawning cat really looks like it's belting out the moody tune about criminals.  (Unfortunately, there are many of these singing cat videos, so I wasted much more time watching them than I'd care to admit.)

5.  Does anyone else remember the evil Monchichis?  Okay, maybe not "evil," but in retrospect, these things were a bit creepy.  And the boy Monchichi looked exactly like the girl Monchichi, save for a hair bow, which makes me concerned about their reproductive abilities.

6. And THIS.  I am ABSOLUTELY printing this out and attempting to build one.  The first papercraft we did at the office (ceiling cat) remains taped to the light fixture above my desk to this day.  I will build hundreds, and cover my office in paper cats tickling the cardboard ivories.  Because the video alone on this page was enough to bring me a weird, warm glow of joy.  :) 

Looong weekend on tap, and I plan to spend it with friends and family.  Have a great weekend, enjoy the links, and I'll see you next week!

September 03, 2009

Goin' Decaf.

I did it. 

I started my mission while we were on vacation in Barcelona, because between the time change and our eating schedule and the fact that sleep was a hot commodity, it was a good time to let go of the caffeine addiction.  No real withdrawal, no extreme headaches, and no unrighteously sassy moments where I can't function "WITHOUT MY CUP OF COFFEE DAMNIT!" 

This is a big step for me, because coffee and I were buddies.  

Love it. 

Bestest pals.

Still lovin' it. 

Friends all day long.

But now, I have a new pal.  Someone who can still be part of the collection of stupid iPhotos that the editorial team snaps every few days. (These photos are known as the Friday Face-Off, where we take one photo to emulate, like this one (my version) or this one, and we all recreate it ourselves, then paste them together as a college.  My favorite so far was when we all tried to look like my chubby-cheeked niece.  But I've once again digressed.  Ignore me.) 

My new pal is decaf, and I have embraced the change.  The coffee shop downstairs makes a mean iced decaf coffee, and just a short walk away from my office is a fabulous graham cracker flavored coffee that comes in delicious decaf.  I am finally weaned off the caffeine, but I still get to enjoy the taste and the "coffee runs" that are part of the social routine in my office.

My new love.

It's nice to feel free.

It's also nice to not drink so much coffee that my fingertips actually jitter to the point where I can't type a sentence without mangling most of the words.

FutureBaby, I hope you appreciate this.  Because it was HAAARD.  But I know it was worth it.

September 02, 2009

Snacky Time: Meatballs.

Trader Joe's has some of the tastiest food options I've found since moving to CT (we didn't have a Trader Joe's in RI waaaaay back in the day like three years ago whoops digression and a run-on - yay), and their aisles appear to be crammed with almost entirely organic options.  Which is nice for a diabetic who is making attempts to be healthy.

But I find that a lower-carb lifestyle leaves me hungry sometimes.  Not like The Hulk-type hungry (You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry!) but more that gnawing stomach rumble that seems to be quieted only by a nice slice of toast.

Thankfully, Trader Joe (whoever he is) made meatballs.  And it is good

I love me some ... meatballs.

These round mounds of seasoned deliciousness are substantial enough to take the edge off my hunger and they pack a protein punch of 12 grams per two meatballs.  Clocking in at only 5 grams of carbs per two, a bowl of meatballs can give me 36 grams of protein and only 15 grams of carbs.  Coupled with Chris's homemade red sauce, this snack option does it for me. 

I've also been working on trying to not treat lows with juice or glucose tabs, but instead with "real food."  Stop & Shop also has these smoooooshed fruit bars from Fruitabu that are organic, delicious, and 10 grams of carbs apiece.  I've used these to treat lows over the last week or two (lows like 60 mg/dl, not lows like 40 mg/dl) and the hardest part has been sitting and waiting for the carbs to take effect.  But I'm not inclined to over-treat when the snack is portioned out into one 10 gram slam, and since they taste so nice (grape is my favorite so far), it's almost like a treat.

Food is a huge part of that equation we're trying to balance on a daily basis, and I remain thankful for the things that actually WORK OUT.  (And I'm also thankful for the fact that the word "smoooshed" is used in the Fruitabu marketing campaign.  That's quality.)

September 01, 2009

No Moral Lifeguard on Duty?

How can we help?I'm refraining from using the words that are REALLY flying around in my head regarding this discrimination issue.  But believe me, Yosemite Sam ain't got nothin' on me this morning.  My whole brain is "frick-a-frackin' ..."

Here's the story that was posted on TuDiabetes by "ShipAddict," a woman who wears an insulin pump.  This copy is taken directly from her posting, without any editing: 

"Has anyone besides me ever been kicked out of a pool for wearing a pump? I received a letter from my HOA board to refrain from using the pool because they consider my pump to be a port and I will infect our entire community for using the pool. Also they think that the wound site will spread infection through out our community. They photograph me using the pool or send a board member down to the pool to stare at me or will have our community attorney sit down at the pool to intimadate me to stop using the pool. I am recovering from a stroke and need the pool to help my paraylis. Also my heart is bad and the stress they are causing me makes me literally sick. But I own a share of the community and pay 245.00 a month for a maintance fee that gives me access to the pool. Any ideas what I should do? Animas 2020 is my pump and on page 95 of the user guide it reads that it is safe to use the pump while swimming. I have removed the pump and capped it off just so no one will yell at me or send me another letter."

This woman was kicked out of the pool because she was wearing an insulin pump?  She's recovering from a stroke and using the pool as part of her therapy, she's wearing a waterproof Animas pump, and she's minding her own business?  But she's being intimidated by the community attorney (by the way, what kind of community has an attorney prowling around the pool?) and photographed using the pool, as if she was doing something wrong?

I know I live in a bubble.  And I know that not everyone understands the medical devices that we wear to manage our diabetes.  But would you tell a child with a cochlear implant that they can't use a pool?  I am really tired of people assuming that our efforts towards good control and good health are something to ridicule, judge, and persecute.  I'm not sure what to do about this story, but I want to lend my support, and I'm hoping that we can help ShipAddict feel the support of our community as a whole.  What can she do to protect her rights? 

Hey Animas - this lady is using your pump.  Anything you can do to rally behind her?

Hey Media Outlets, interested in doing a story on this to help raise awareness for the rights of people with diabetes?

Hey ShipAddict, we've got your back.   

(And hat tip to Jeff, who let me know about this story.)

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