« April 2010 | Main | June 2010 »

May 31, 2010

Looking Back: If You're Going to Stare ...

I'm working to get my body back in shape after BSparl (ha ha ha ha ha - I hate the gym), so I think it's a fitting time to rerun a gym post from January 2009, when I was still living in CT. Happy Memorial Day, all!!

*   *   *

Last night at the gym, I put my bag in the locker and took off my sweatshirt.  Wearing my black yoga pants, sports bra, and a tank top, I went into the bathroom section of the locker room to put my hair in a ponytail.

Two other women were at the sinks, chatting in Spanish and washing their hands.   They were standing to my left and as I raised my arm to put the elastic in my hair, I noticed that both women had stopped talking for a minute and were staring at my arm. Staring like I had moldy peach stuck to my arm, or maybe one of those bizarre happy spiders

Then I remembered that the Dexcom sensor is comfortably resting on the back of my left arm.  Facing them.  

I had a quick surge of "Grrrrr," as in "What are you staring at, woman?  Never seen a CGM sensor before?" ... then I had to check my attitude.  No, they probably haven't ever seen a continuous glucose monitoring sensor before.  Just because it's something I'm used to doesn't mean it's something they are used to.  After yesterday's post purge and your wonderful and inspiring comments, I felt ready to cast off some of this anger and try, instead, to help.

So I decided to smile instead.  

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to notice that you're staring."  Gestured to my arm.  "This thing - it's for my type 1 diabetes.  It's a glucose monitor."

"Oh my goodness, I did not mean to stare," said the woman in the green shirt.  "I was like, 'Is that an iPod thing or something?'  I have never seen that kind of thing before."

Her friend with the glasses leaned in.  "For diabetes?"

"Yeah.  I know it doesn't look completely natural, and I would stare, too, if it wasn't something I was used to." Glasses and Green Shirt smiled back.  "It's cool.  I just didn't want you wondering if I was some kind of cyborg or something."

Green Shirt laughed.  "Cyborg?  No, chica.  It's interesting looking.  I was waiting for, like, the music to come out of it or something.  But I didn't mean to stare.  Lo siento, my friend."

"Not a problem at all.  Have a good workout!"

I left the locker room and went to do my workout.  After I was done, I went back in to grab my sweatshirt and saw Glasses and Green Shirt getting their gear together.  Flashed them a quick smile.  Glasses smiled back.  Green Shirt tapped her left arm and gave me a knowing nod.

Some people can try to bring you down.  But others, even strangers, can raise you up.  

May 28, 2010

You Know You're a Diabetic Mommy When ...

You know you're a cat-shaped rattle when ...You know you're a diabetic mommy when ...

  • The bottle of glucose tabs is just as important as the bottle of breast milk in the diaper bag.
  • You have already started wondering how you're going to explain "juice" as "medicine" to the kiddo.
  • When you wake up for 3 am feedings, they double as a 3 am blood sugar check.
  • You start cooing sweetly at your meter when it gives you a result of 100 mg/dl.  ("Oooh, what a good meter you are!  Yes you are!")
  • Your baby ends up with a dot of blood on the back of her pajamas from your middle-of-the-night blood sugar check that didn't stop bleeding right away.
  • When you talk about "the pump," you need to clarify "the insulin one, not the boob one."
  • Sometimes you have to draw numbers to see who gets to feed the baby.  And by "draw," we mean blood samples.
  • Nothing makes you happier than a full baby with a clean diaper and a full pump with a full battery.
  • You need a diaper bag just for diabetes supplies.
  • Your bedside table has just as many burp clothes as used test strips gathered at its base.
And when the Dexcom starts to BEEEEEEEP!, you wonder if it needs a diaper change.

May 27, 2010

Guest Blog: I Dream of Sleep.

Windy is has been a Type 1 diabetic for 22 years and is the wife of Justin and mother of five year old Gabe  and two year old Zoe.  Every once in a blue moon, when she’s not chasing them around, Windy blogs at The Diabetic Domestic Diva, and today she's guest posting here on Six Until Me.  (About sleep.  Sleep?  What's that?) 

Thanks, Windy!    

*   *   *

Windy and her beautiful  familyI dream of more than four hours of consecutive sleep. 

I remember in college when I would sleep till noon on days I didn’t have morning classes.  I remember those sunny Florida days when I’d drive over to the beach and lay on the warm sand to my little heart’s desire.  Or those romantic weekend newlywed getaways we’d spontaneously galavant off to and lay in each other’s arms till the 11 am check out time.    

But then we had kids.    Glorious kids!!  

I wear many hats in this life... wife, daughter, sister, friend, piano teacher, chef, housekeeper, ... the list goes on and on. One of my favorites, is now "Mommy." As the mother of a 5 year old boy and 2 year old girl, I hear it often, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" They always need something. Milk, snacks, diaper changes, a play mate, kiss for their boo boo, and often a referee!  I LOVE being a Mom, and I am blessed that I get to spend a lot of time with my kids, despite the fact that sometimes it's exhausting, and I just want to get a friggin' nap!

Last night something incredible happened.

They both slept all night.

No one had a bad dream.
No one wet the bed.
No one needed a 3 am sippee cup.

We spent the whole day at the beach and just wore them out silly with the swimming, sandcastle building, and burying each other in the sand.

But alas... I was still awoken.

Ah, diabetes.

The third red-headed step child I never wanted. Like a pre-schooler whose been locked in their car seat a little too long and is relentless with a high-pitched whiny voice, "Feed me. Change your infusion set. Charge your Dexcom. BEEEEEEEEEEP!!! Test! Pick up your prescription. Schedule your check up. Ketones? Drink water! BEEEEEEEEP!!"   

Get the picture?

People with diabetes are warriors.  
Members of the Diabetes OC are well aware of this.   
But diabetic moms and dads with young children?
They are Super Warrior Samurai Ninjas.  (You’d agree, Ninjabetic?)   

Kerri, congratulations on entering the amazing world of parenthood!   May your red-headed step child behave so you can enjoy your beautiful BSparl in all her glory!  :0) 

May 26, 2010

Oxygen Mask.

Gotta wear mine before I can help BSparl.In the airplane safety manuals, they instruct you to, in the case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others with theirs.  Makes sense.  Can't help someone if you are in need of help, yourself.

Chris and I reference the "oxygen mask" all the time, mostly when I'm low.  During the course of the pregnancy, I had some wicked lows that kept me from attending conference calls, making it to dinner meetings, and even just meeting a friend out for coffee.  "I'm going to be late, but I need a few minutes.  Oxygen mask, you know?"  And Chris would nod, knowing that I was waiting until my blood sugar was stable before I headed out. 

But as I wrote about yesterday, I'm in the middle of The Suck.  Can't wrap my head around what I need to do in order to take care of myself, because I'm too overwhelmed with what my daughter needs.  The baby learning curve is pretty steep, and both Chris and I being schooled on just a few hours of sleep.  My baby is well-cared for, but my diabetes management has seen better days.

... so I guess my baby isn't as well-cared for as she could be.  Because I'm trying to put her oxygen mask on while fumbling with my own.  

Yesterday's post had some good ideas in the comments section, and I'm going to try and implement them going forward.  Like the testing suggestion.  I'm already testing my blood sugar before I feed the baby, so now I need to find other benchmarks in my day to assign testing to.  I'm working off a mental "even numbers" schedule today, making sure that I test at all the even hours.  I'm awake around 6:15 am every morning, so that means I get a 6 am fasting, and then a test every two hours. 

Some other things I simply need to make part of the routine.  So it becomes natural(ish).  Like the Dexcom.  That tool is extremely useful to me ... when I look at it.  For the last 11 days, I had a sensor in and the Dexcom was working great, but I wasn't looking at it.  The receiver would sit on the dining room table while I worked on my laptop and I'd barely pay it any mind.  Then, one night when it was pinging because I was high, I turned off the high alarm so that it wouldn't wake up BSparl.  Being the dingbat that I am, I left the high alarm off.  For four days. WTF?  What's the point of wearing the device when I'm not using it when I need it most?  Today, a new sensor goes on and I'm determined to reset the alarms and to actually use the data.  (Otherwise, what's the point?)

And then there's what Chris and I call "life stuff." Like remembering to call in my reorder for insulin to my mail order pharmacy.  And then remembering to pick it up from the mail drop.  Or remembering to throw a bottle of glucose tabs in my purse or the baby bag, or grabbing a back-up insulin pen, or making sure I have enough test strips in my meter case to get through the day.  Maintenance.  Life stuff. 

But I can't do all this stuff at once.  Baby steps, right?  Today, I'll start with testing more frequently and rearming myself with the Dexcom.  I threw a bottle of glucose tabs both into my purse and the baby bag this morning, and I called in my insulin reorder a few minutes ago.  New bottle of test strips is floating around in my purse.  Small changes that will hopefully make a big difference in how things roll out, diabetes-wise.  Because the better care I'm taking of myself, the better care I'm taking of the little BSparl baby.

Oxygen mask, you know?

May 25, 2010

The Suck.

Bright?  Not me these days.While motherhood is going well and I'm completely in love with my daughter, I'm reminded, daily, that diabetes doesn't care if I've slept or if I have carefully counted carbs or if I've just changed my infusion set.  Diabetes doesn't give a shit about my schedule.

It's The Suck.

Like last week, when at 4:30 am, my "alarm" went off - also known as BSparl starting to fuss and wail from her bassinet in our bedroom.  Not a problem.  I woke up, tested my blood sugar, and saw that I was 176 mg/dl.  That number (albeit spiky) works just fine for feedings, so BSparl and I spent some quality time hanging out, having an early snack, and debating where exactly the sun hides behind the trees before it starts to poke out.

We both went back to bed around 5:45 and slept until the next alarm went off - the Dexcom BEEEEEEEP!ing wildly at me at 8 am.

"Do not wake up the baby, you."  I grumbled while fumbling for the receiver on the bedside table.  "LOW.  Under 55 mg/dl" was the warning it was flashing up at me.  While BEEEEEEEPing.

"Shhhhhh!!"  I unzipped my meter case and deftly stuck a strip into the top of the machine.  I wasn't sweaty, my brain was functioning fine (aside from shushing inanimate objects), and I felt physical capable.  Maybe the Dexcom was just being finicky and throwing lower numbers?

"36 mg/dl"

Well shoot.  Not a whisper of a symptom, either.  I got up from the bed and wandered out to the kitchen, where Chris was making his protein shake.

"Can you keep an ear on the baby?  I'm 36 and just want to grab some juice," I said, opening the fridge door.

"Of course."  Pause.  "What?  You're 36??"

"Yeah.  No symptoms, dude.  Not even one."  I chugged a few sips of grape juice and put the bottle back in the fridge.  "I feel fine.  The Dexcom woke me up."

A blood sugar of 36 mg/dl without a single symptom, other than a wailing Dexcom and a bit of a groggy feeling.  But, in true diabetes form, once my blood sugar started to rise, I felt the symptoms acutely. 

"I feel pretty bad right now."  Shunk.  "Fifty-six.  Why do I feel worse at 56 than I did at 36?"

There's no rhyme or reason to diabetes.  The symptoms of lows and highs change with the seasons, it seems.  And they come without warning, these numbers.  Sometimes it's a hormonal or emotional surge that sends numbers pinging.  Other times, it's a little, teeny technical glitch that sends thing spinning.

Like two nights ago, when I bolused for a snack and felt a damp spot on the side of my shirt.

"What the ..." and I probed with my fingers and felt that telltale wetness around the gauze of my infusion set.  I tugged up the side of my shirt and gave the spot a sniff - yup, that bandaid smell.  Frigging infusion set was leaking some how.  No symptoms, though.  I wasn't thirsty, I wasn't lethargic, and I was actually just about to head off to the gym.  I felt pretty okay.  Problem was, I hadn't tested in about four hours, nor had I peeked at the Dexcom.  So basically, I didn't have a clue what was going on in my body. 

I tested my blood sugar and a 423 mg/dl grinned back at me.   

(Have I mentioned Yosemite Sam yet in this post?  Suffice to say, I rocketed through a list of curse words that would have caused Yosemite Sam to give me a frick-a-frakin' high five.)

New site, quick injection with an orange capped syringe from the fridge, a ketone test (negative), and an hour and a half later, I was down to 195 mg/dl.   But I was pissed.  Because during the course of my pregnancy, I maintained an A1C between 6.0% and 6.5% and I busted my butt to keep myself controlled.  But now, with my body reacting to adjusting levels of hormones and a serious lack of concentration due to a truncated sleep schedule (read:  no sleep 'til Brooklyn, with Brooklyn being college, I think), I'm all over the map. 

I'm frustrated with my control, or lack thereof.  Trying to figure out my post-pregnancy insulin needs and taking care of my little girl have become a full-time endeavor, and I'm not getting it completely done on either front.  I have to buckle down.  These epic lows and highs are not fun, and are wrecking havoc on my healing body. 

Next week, I'm back at Joslin to see my endo.  Diabetes needs to take center stage until I can get things under better control.  It's my priority.  I need to get back to logging, to testing every hour and a half or so during the day, to actually cooking meals instead of just snacking when time allows, to changing my infusion set when it's due, not when it's convenient. 

... after diaper changes, of course.  And breastfeeding.  And BSparl laundry.  And pediatrician appointments.  And 3 am feedings.  And that occasional moment when I lock the bathroom door and look at myself in the mirror with determination and say, "Get it together, Mommy."  

May 24, 2010

Vlog: Nine Months.

(Okay, eight months, but who's counting?)  A vloggy look at our nine months of pregnancy and the arrival of Ms. BSparl.

May 21, 2010

Cats and BSparl.

Dear BSparl,

Don't think that you can come in here and be all small and cute and expect us to love you.  Everyone keeps coming by and cooing over "Oh, how much hair you have!" and "You sweet baby, you make the silliest faces!"  They want to marvel over your teeny hands and teeny feet, and the little snaps on your newborn baby clothes.  They hold you and rock you and sing to you and when you burp, they laugh at how cute your burps are.

Not us, though. We're on to you.

Don't think we've forgotten that WE used to run this joint.  It was once all about us, and how small and snuggly we were.  How soft our fur was and how much we made her laugh.  Kerri used to write posts about how we'd make silly faces and even how we'd alert her to low blood sugars.

Siah waits for the tides to turn in her favor again.
Siah feels like she's in jail these days, with the baby in the house.

Please.  You think we're going to alert her to anything, when first she replaced us with that Dexcom thing, and now she's replaced us with YOU?

Don't you hear the noises you make, baby?  You wail at a decibel that even we, as cats, can't tolerate.  For something so small, your lungs are acutely developed and capable of some serious sounds.  We tend to hide under the bed, but not because we're scared.  We're actually under there, all three of us, conferencing:  "She's LOUD, right?"

And those white things ... the diapers?  Yeah, those.  We think Kerri and Chris should be thankful that we use a litter box and it only has to be dealt with every other day or so.  You, baby?  Require attention in your nether regions every two hours or so, shooting out epic yellow poops on a whim.  But we can't figure it out, BSparl.  They like, celebrate your crap.  They say, "Oh, that's a good one," and they mark it as some kind of success in a book by your changing table.  They're never celebrated our offerings, even when we leave them outside of the litter box so they can get a better look.  Most we get is an "EW!  Which one of you crapped on the floor??"  We don't feel appreciated for our efforts, that's for damn sure.

BSparl, you don't know how good you've got it.  These two idiots worship you, even when you're gross.  Appreciate that, little baby, because they buy the groceries for this house, so it's good to be on their side.  And besides, they've purchased you all these fun things to sleep in, that we are trying to 'share' with you, but they aren't having it yet.

Abby shares BSparl's bouncy chair.
Abby seriously digs the bouncy chair.

We, as a cat collective, know that we'll warm to you eventually.  Because once you are able to work the can opener, you'll be useful to us. 

Best,
The Cats.

May 20, 2010

Guest Post: Painting by Numbers.

I think "Instructions Not Included" is a very cool name for a diabetes blog (or, as I'm quickly learning, a mommy blog).  I'm excited to have Becky from Instructions Not Included stepping in today here on SUM to guest blog about all the freaking numbers.  NUMBERS!  People with diabetes know the drill - there are so many numbers to juggle throughout the day that if you aren't a math major, it can be pretty daunting.  Becky acknowledges that, but she also gives a beautiful twist at the end that I just loved.

Thanks for posting today, Becky, and be sure to check out her blog!

*   *   *

Becky from Instructions Not IncludedI am twenty five years old. I stand at five foot and a debatable number of inches. My last HbA1c was 6.2%. Cholesterol was 3.4. By the end of today, I will have done approximately 1340 injections. I will have tested my blood glucose levels over 2555 times, testing seven times a day if everything goes well. I have filled and disposed of four sharps bins, two are sitting filled up under my coffee table, and I'm working on my seventh.  Today is my 365th official day of having Type 1 diabetes, which makes me a whole year old. Time flies.

Numbers are fascinating. They really are. I'm always keen to look at the numbers on my test results - it's in my nature to want to understand what's going on. I think there gets to a point though, and it happened to me recently, when you just want to yell 'stop!', because there are just too many numbers. It reaches overload, and you can start to feel as though you're either drowning in them, or it's all there is to you.  

It's all about the numbers. It's this amount of mmol/l. It's that many grams of carb. This percent and that percent. Turning this into a fraction, working out the carb value. Dividing and multiplying. Adding and subtracting. Diabetes has done so much more for my maths skills than watching Countdown ever did when I was trying to pass my GCSE.

I've always found it strangely reassuring that though I rarely see my consultant, he remembers where I work, knows that I take ballroom dancing classes, and remembers my housemate. But yet I know that it's my numbers he's really interested in.  Unless I say something to concern him, it's what's on the paper that matters.

I did a bit of research, based off a hazy memory I had of some figures of what the human body consists of. According to the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, the body is made up primarily of oxygen, which clocks up at 65%, followed by carbon (18%), hydrogen (10%), nitrogen (3%), calcium (1.5%) and phosphorus (1.0%). Then there is potassium, sulfur, sodium and magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, molybdenum, fluorine, chlorine, iodine, manganese, colbalt, and iron, all at under 1%. Finally, trace amounts of lithium, strontium, aluminium, silicon, lead, vanadium, arsenic and bromine. And if you made it through that, I'm seriously impressed.

So that's what makes up a human body. But is it what makes up a human being? Sure, I'm 65% oxygen and 18% carbon, as well as all the rest, but that's not what makes me me.  When I was talking to Andrew (my housemate) about this post, and that I was researching what makes up a human body,  and he said something that really struck a chord:

The elemental form of almost anything, is almost worthless. Take a diamond, for instance – it's just a lump of carbon. Same thing we stick in our pencils. Change its chemical composition, and it's worth far more.

That's very much what I'm trying to say.  I might have a HbA1c of 6.2%, but I also compulsively buy pyjamas, and have at least 11 pairs. I test at least seven times a day, but I also don't like to walk with someone on my left hand side (strange but true).  These are some of the things that make me who I am. Diabetes and all its related statistics doesn't define me. I'm sure that it's true of you as well.  So maybe every now and then, when we're swamped with all these numbers, it's a good moment to take a deep breath, and remember some of the things that make us a diamond rather than a heap of carbon.


May 19, 2010

Breastfeeding and Diabetes (AKA: Oh dear, another TMI post.)

Opinions run rampant on everything health-related. 

In the diabetes community, there are varying opinions on insulin pumps vs. multiple daily injections.  Humalog vs. Apidra.  Lantus vs. Levemir.  Medtronic vs. Animas.  Coke vs. Pepsi.  (That last one isn't a joke - Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi?  I know I go against the grain with my preference, but I'm a Diet Pepsi gal, myself.)  And there isn't a "right" or "wrong" when it comes to these management decisions.  Just different ways of managing diabetes within a lifestyle.  We share our opinions and personal health choices with one another, and there isn't a lot of judging going on - or at least not within the safety of our diabetes blogosphere.

Now that I'm a mom, I'm encountering the same sort of opinions on how I'm raising my child.  Opinions, advice, you name it.  And I'm all for advice, mostly because I am not an expert on anything and am always open to other people's input.  But some stuff I'm a little less snuggly about. Hell, there was commentary run on my "decision" to have a c-section (and again, I'll reiterate:  it wasn't a choice.  It was a medical recommendation based on the location of my diabetic retinopathy.  See also:  gardening).  And lately, I'm getting a lot of feedback on breastfeeding.

For me, I decided to give breastfeeding a go for my daughter.  There are pros and cons to this decision, though.  (What, you thought this was going to be straight up rainbows and unicorns?)  -->

PROS:

  • Breastfeeding my daughter helps provide her with antibodies that protect her from the chaos of germies and viruses around her.
  • Feeding her is truly a bonding experience, where it's just she and I and we're snuggled close.
  • My medical team at Joslin recommended that if I could breastfeed and if it worked for my lifestyle, it would be to the benefit of my daughter.
  • Honestly?  Breastfeeding is cheap.  We don't have to buy formula, and our biggest expense has been the breast pump that I staggered into Babies R Us for the day I was discharged from Beth Israel.
  • It's convenient in that if the baby needs to eat, there is very little preparation required.
  • Magical moment:  BSparl's poop?  Literally?  Doesn't stink.  Something about breastfeeding keeps the poops from smelling weird.
  • I'm currently able to produce enough milk to feed the baby and stash sterile bags of milk in the fridge for those moments when Chris needs/wants to feed the baby, or for when we're on the road.  I can't lie - being able to create a stash of food for the baby fuels my OCD.
  • Breastfeeding is a wicked calorie burner.  I'm not back to my pre-pregnancy weight by any stretch, but feeding the baby and making milk are caloric furnace activities.  It's tough because I don't have a previous pregnancy to compare things to, but I feel that my uterus has shrunk faster and weight has come off a bit easier due to breastfeeding. 
  • Diabetes connection - Apparently, there's research that shows breast feeding a child can help ward off a type 1 diabetes diagnosis.  But I'm not sure how I feel about that, seeing as how I was the only breastfed child in my family, yet I'm the only diabetic.  Go figure.
  • Another diabetes connection - The actual feeding process doesn't seem to make me low, but when my supply is refilling?  That makes my numbers plummet.  This is a good thing when I want to eat a sandwich after feeding BSparl because I can just skip the bolus.
  • Thankfully, BSparl is happy to feed from the bottle and the breast, which I've heard is not often the case, but I'm grateful she'll do it that way.  I've had many moments when my blood sugar has been too low to breast feed the baby, and it's good that she'll happily take a bottle from Chris.  I've also fed her a bottle, myself, without issue.  BSparl doesn't have any nipple confusion (thank God), and she goes from breast to bottle without issue.
  • I like knowing that I'm providing BSparl with the most natural food source possible.  Also, feeding her makes me pay more rapt attention to my blood sugars, because even though my medical team told me that I can feed BSparl at any blood sugar, I prefer to be as stable as possible so BSparl gets normally-sweetened milk.

CONS:

  • When the milk comes in at first, it feels like your boobs are filled with rocks.  Rocks that want to GET OUT RIGHT THE HELL NOW.  It's not comfy.  My milk didn't come in until the fourth day, which is a little later than your average non-diabetic mommy, but right on schedule for a mom with type 1.
  • Using the breast pump is awkward and sometimes uncomfortable, and not something I could ever do in public without feeling like a complete weirdo.
  • On that same theme, I'm not comfortable enough yet to feed BSparl in public, so I am currently restricted to feeding her in our home or in the home of a friend of family member where I can duck into a private bedroom for a spell. 
  • If I'm unable to feed BSparl and unable to pump, the discomfort can be intense.
  • Sometimes, at very inopportune moments (like while I'm asleep), there's "leaking."  Preventing this can require the use of breast pads, which don't look cool.
  • The whole "her poop doesn't stink" thing also comes with the reality that her bowel movements are sometimes ELECTRIC YELLOW (but they do not glow in the dark, unfortunately - I checked). 
  • The nickname "Bessie" used to be a "con" because I was trying to get comfortable with breast feeding and the whole "Oh hey, these things are supposed to be used to feed a baby?" But now I don't mind.  And I just say "Moo."
  • I worked with the team at Beth Israel to get BSparl to latch on properly, but sometimes that initial latching at the beginning of a feeding is pretty painful.
  • The dietary restrictions feel like an extension of pregnancy, in some ways.  As in, no drinking (unless I know it's going to be hours until I feed the baby).  And nothing exceptionally spicy or garlicky, because that could make the kiddo colicky.  And that's not on my To Do list.
  • That Pro about being able to skip boluses?  If I forget to eat after feeding her or pumping, the lows can be extremely stubborn.  Stubborn as in "Wow, I just ate that whole box of Tollhouse crackers."  Or "Wow, I go low so quickly that I need to keep Fruit Roll-Ups stashed in the cushions of the couch."

I have no idea how long I'll decide to breast feed my child, but I know that it's been four weeks already and I'm not planning on stopping anytime terribly soon.  I can't say that I'm planning to keep it up for a year, or even six months, but I'm taking it week by week and letting life dictate my decision.  For now, with my work-from-home schedule and the fact that BSparl is still so little, I'm sticking with breastfeeding because it works for us.

These are my opinions based on my personal experiences, not a pile of facts.  I know I keep throwing out these disclaimers, but I'm very sensitive in regards to people who think they know it all or think there's only one way to do something.  This is the way I'm moving forward, but it's not the rule for every new mom.  Or every diabetic.  Or every cat owner. 

(Okay, it could be good advice for cat owners.   Because my crew of felines have had some opinions of their own re: BSparl.  More on that in a later post, because the pictures are just too damn funny.)

May 18, 2010

Dos.

A little over three years ago, my best friend proposed to me as the sun was setting in St. John. 


We were married on a sunny afternoon in May, surrounded by our friends and family.


And today, as we mark our second wedding anniversary, we're a family of three.


Happy anniversary to the guy who is my hero, my inspiration, and who tolerates all my nonsense.  I've loved being his girlfriend, then fiance, then bride, wife, and now mother of his baby girl.  It's been a busy few years, Chris, and I am excited for what our future holds!!!

May 17, 2010

C-Section Recovery.

More details on the c-sectionI've been putting off writing about the recovery from the c-section because, quite frankly, I'm not fully recovered just yet. But I've received a lot of emails asking about the specifics, so here they are - just be warned, there's a lot of boring details and TMI going on in these posts.  :) 

After BSparl was born and we were back, as a family, in the recovery room, I spent a few hours vomiting myself silly.  But once the nausea had worked itself out of my system, I was feeling pretty decent.  Not much pain, but then again, I was in bed, with a catheter in place (so no need to jump up and use the bathroom), and on morphine.  I was also holding my baby.  (She's an excellent pain killer.  So cute!)

It wasn't until the next day - Friday - that I started to feel the effects of the actual surgery.  Once the morphine had worn off, I became acutely aware of the incision.  There was a big gauze patch over the incision itself, keeping me from catching a good look at the staples and all the ick in that region.  What I did know was that the pain was a little less than I expected ...

"Hi Kerri!  Would you like your pain meds?" the nurse asked, the morning after BSparl's birth.

"Oh, I think I'm okay.  I'd like to see how far I can get without them."

... until the morphine wore off.

"Hi Kerri.  How are you feeling?" the nurse asked, later that morning.

"Pain meds.  I'll take 'em NOW.  Anytime.  Now would be awesome, though.  I love you?"

After the morphine was out of my system, my medical team had me on a combination of Percocet and mega-strength ibuprofen.  The ibuprofen was fine with me, but I was very uncomfortable taking the Percocet.  I'd never taken a pain killer of that nature before, and it made my brain feel like it was total mush.  I resolved to come off the Percocets as soon as possible, and only ended up staying on them for about four days.  But because the pain was so intense at times, and because I had no clue what the "right thing" was for me, I followed the doctor's orders.

Note re: Dexcom:  Two days after the surgery, I asked to move from Percocet (which is an oxycodone/Tylenol blend) to straight oxycodone, because the Tylenol mucked with my Dexcom readings.  Once I was off the Tylenol, I plunked a new Dexcom sensor on to help me keep track of the chaotic blood sugar readings.

Once the catheter was taken out (embarrassing moment, having the very kind, patient nurse pull the tube out of me and then help me scurry into the bathroom like a wounded crab), I was at the mercy of my bladder again.  Which meant that I was getting in and out of bed finally, working my abdominal muscles for the first time since the surgery. 

It was not a snuggly experience.  I moved sloooooooowly to help minimize the pain, but it was still very uncomfortable. For the first few hours, I was like a 95 year old woman, half bent over and favoring my abdomen and saying things like "Oh, my medication is wearing off!" and "Those nurses are so sweet - we should call their mothers and thank them for raising such nice girls."  Using the bathroom was very awkward because that motion of sitting to pee was a strain on my stomach, and also because the bleeding post-surgery was exceptionally heavy (you pass clots, which I was not prepared for but is common), making for a lot of activity in a region of my body that had been pretty quiet for a few weeks.

Thankfully, I had plenty of help.  The nurses were constantly coming in and out of the room, checking on me, on the baby, and spying on my incision to spot-check recovery.  Chris stayed in the hospital with me for the four days I recovered, so he was able to help me get in and out of bed and also was able to serve as BSparl's primary caregiver.  (He did most of BSparl's diaper changes in those first 24 hours - thank goodness.  Because if she was waiting for me to leap up out of bed to change her poopy diapers, she would have been waiting a while.  I was a sloth, only with five toes.)  I was able to start breast feeding BSparl, though I only had colostrum to offer at that time.  My milk didn't come in for a few days.  (More on the diabetes/breast feeding fun in another post.)

So pain in the incision area was expected, and I was also expecting to feel sore in my back where the epidural went in and where all the other pokes and proddings took place.  I had also expected the nausea and the blood sugar bounces.  But what I didn't expect was the gas pain.

Oh holy hell, that was painful.  

I hadn't thought about it before, but when they opened me up for the c-section, my internal bits and pieces were exposed to the air.  And some of that air got in.  It's like a Ziploc bag - you need to push the air of of the bag before you zip it shut, or else air gets trapped in there.  For a person's body, you can't help but end up with air trapped after an abdominal surgery like a c-section.  Which meant that my body had these pockets of air in it that needed to work themselves out.

"Oh, it's just gas," people say (often while holding their tea cups with their pinky in the air).

Oh, it's just freaking awful.  The air trapped in there was one of the worst parts of my recovery.  When my OB came in to examine the incision, she grazed my stomach skin with her pinky finger as she went to remove the bandage and I jumped an absolute mile.

"WHOA!  I'm sorry.  Whoa, that hurts a freakin' ton right now.  I'm not sure why ..."  I panted, unaccustomed to that kind of insistent discomfort.

"It's that gas pain.  All the air trapped in there.  It will work itself out over the next 24 hours or so, but it can be really painful.  Would you like something to help break those air pockets up?"

"YES.  Please.  That would be awesome.  And it's okay if you don't want to touch me until the pain has sort of gone away, right?"  (At that point, I didn't have the guts to tell someone not to examine me.  I just sort of hoped they wouldn't if I asked in a really passive way.)

"We can wait a few hours.  I'll have the nurse bring you something to help with the pain."

The nurse showed up with what tasted like a stale wedding shower favor mint, and after chewing on it, I felt some relief in the abdominal region.  About 24 hours after the c-section, I was starting to feel a lot better re: the gas pains.  I worked to get out of bed and get moving as much as possible, because everyone who had left comments here on SUM regarding their own c-sections said "GET UP ASAP!" to help speed up recovery.

It's now a month later, and I'm feeling a lot more like I'm in once piece again.  The staples were left in for a full week, but once they were removed, I felt much better.  (I didn't anticipate that the staples were ACTUAL staples.  Like from Office Max.  I thought they'd look more medicinal or surgical.  Nope - they looked like someone had grabbed a black Bostich and worked me over.)  The scar is about eight inches long and looks very narrow and well-healed, and should shrink up even more as my uterus goes back to its previous size.  I'm able to walk without much issue, and in two more weeks, I'll have my surgical follow-up, where I'll hopefully be cleared for exercise, lifting, sexual activity - LIFE

Tiny daisies for my tiny baby

So - to recap:  The c-section did freak me out.  The recovery was harder than I thought it would be, but that's probably because I'm a wuss and I don't like pain.  And the actual incision was way more FrankenKerri than I thought it would be, but every day it becomes less obvious and uncomfortable.  I wish that I had the opportunity to deliver my child vaginally, but the damn retinopathy was a factor, so the c-section is how we had to move forward.  I wouldn't chose surgery, if I had a choice.  (Note to anyone who wants to tell me that I made a horrible decision to have a c-section:  My medical team and I, together, decided that a c-section would help ensure a safe delivery of my daughter, in addition to preserving my vision.  If you still have a strong opinion on the method of my daughter's arrival, I suggest you start gardening.  It will bring you to a zen-like place where I bet you'll appreciate the fact that my health is intact and my daughter is safe, instead of getting all judgy on me.  Just a thought.)

Overall, as the scar fades, so do the memories of the discomfort.  And every day, I have the blessing of this baby girl in my life.  Doesn't matter how she got here - point is, she's here.  She's safe.  And she's my buddy. 

May 14, 2010

Working on my Fitness.

'Round and 'round I go.  (Because secretly, I am a Fergie fan.  Even if she pees her pants onstage.)

Before BSparl, I went to the gym every day.  But wait - I have a good excuse! My then-boyfriend/now-husband already had working out as part of his daily routine.  So, in folding our schedules together, I somehow ended up at the gym with him.  I can't complain, though.  It helps to have a very motivated partner to help keep me motivated.

But I do not really enjoy working out.  I'm not one of those endorphin junkies.  Of course, it feels good to push  my body and to have that limber, stretched feeling, and I really like sports bras and yoga pants (comfy!), but I don't really like to sweat. 

Don't get me wrong - I see the benefits of exercise, and not solely from a diabetes perspective.  A good workout helps me lower my blood sugars (most of the time, unless it's one of those freak times where exercise makes me higher), increases my muscle mass (which helps me better use insulin), and also helps me maintain my weight (helps ward off insulin resistance).  But diabetes stuff aside, I also like the way that exercise keeps me toned up.  Before BSparl, I wasn't the slimmest or most fit creature on the planet, but I didn't feel ashamed of how I looked.  I felt pretty strong.  And my body had a more athletic tone to it, which was nice.  And while I'm not a huge fan of the gym, I really like going hiking and riding my bike and doing activities that keep me moving and out of the confines of four walls.

However, now I'm in the After BSparl realm.  It's decidedly ... squishier.  My body feels and looks completely different to me now.  After nine months of a constantly growing belly and hormone levels pinging all over creation, my body is a bit worse for the wear.  During the course of my pregnancy, I tried to keep exercising, but by the end of the second trimester, I was starting to puff up.  And by the end of the third trimester, I was hospitalized.  Not to mention the whole c-section thing, which was my first surgical experience and left me unable to get out of bed comfortably, nevermind start climbing mountains. Today, even four weeks out from BSparl's birthday, my uterus is still in the process of shrinking back to its normal size, leaving my belly flompy and with a nice scar along the southernmost part. 

It's hard to look in the mirror these days, especially after working so hard for years to maintain a good weight and decent muscle tone.  It's strange to not be able to do sit-ups because (even though I know this is a ridiculous thought) I keep picturing my incision giving way and flapping open.  And it's frustrating to wait through the six week healing process until I can start working out again.  But I'm trying.  And I'll continue to try.  Right now, my workouts are limited to long, easy walks on the treadmill.  I'm looking forward to lifting even little weights again.  (For now, I'm using BSparl as part of my makeshift my resistance training.  She's 8 lbs of wiggly weight!)

Every day brings me closer to "healed," and spending all this recovery time snuggling with my daughter isn't a exactly a bad thing.  Besides, chasing after her once she's able to crawl will definitely burn some calories!  I should rest while I can.  :)  

May 13, 2010

Guest Blog: Dealing with the Tough Stuff.

Mike Lawson offered to guest post, and I'm always one to encourage people to share their stories ... even when those stories hurt to share.  This afternoon, Mike shares a very tough experience with us, and one that I think anyone (diabetes notwithstanding) can relate to, on one level or another.  Thank you for sharing your story, Mike.

*   *   *

This is the one where I’m super-depressing.
 
Mike and DanMy apologies to Kerri.  I was originally going to write a post for Six Until Me titled “Twitter Your Way To Better Blood Sugar,” and it was going to be awesome…but with some recent events in my life I couldn’t help but do a quick switcherroo.  So now you have the super-depressing story of how diabetes has negatively affected my love life:
 
There are a million articles on the web about how to support your loved ones living with diabetes.  You can find half a million articles on how diabetics can help their loved ones deal with this chronic illness.  I’m going out on a limb, but I think this may be the first blog post out there about how diabetes can ruin a relationship.
 
Last week I ended a relationship with my partner of three years.  And it sucks to say that my type 1 diabetes was a factor in the breakup.
 
Dan and I started dating back in 2007, and quickly hit it off.  We both have nerdy hobbies and love sitting around criticizing the television.  We both wear dorky glasses.  We frequently went out to dinner, or I’d cook for him.
 
What Dan didn’t know at the time was that I had a really nasty secret: I had absolutely no control over my blood sugars.
 
I was waiting out my health insurance’s stupid pre-existing condition penalty, and struggled to afford the basics for my diabetes management.  I wouldn’t test my blood unless I felt sick because when paying full price, those strips are more expensive than a strip of gold leaf.
 
I’d like to make villains out of the insurance companies, the government or other people…but the reality is that I dropped the ball on my own well-being.
 
During this time Dan tried to understand my Diabetes.  He has a problem-solvers brain, and hated not understanding why my glucose levels were high when all I ate was a pizza.  It’s sugar-free after all, right?  Ha!
 
About a year ago I was literally days away from the end of the pre-existing condition hold on my insurance when I started getting really sick.  I thought that I was facing a serious flu.  I had all of the normal and nasty flu-like symptoms…vomiting, aches, chills, and extreme tiredness.
 
Dan was super supportive…doing all of the things boyfriends do.  He got me crackers and medicine.  He came upstairs to refill my ice water.  And then I started having trouble breathing.  And I was hallucinating a little.  
 
Dan scooped me up and took me to the hospital.
 
“When was the last time you tested your blood sugar?” the nurse in the ICU asked me.
 
“Well it’s been a few days,” I said.
 
The nurses eyes got wide.  “You don’t test before each time you inject insulin?” she asked.
 
“Yes I do,” I said.  “That’s been a few days too.”  Actually closer to a month.
 
Ketoacidosis.  In basic terms, my body was completely deprived of all insulin.  This is potentially fatal.
 
I had to explain to the nurses and doctors about my pre-existing condition – which thankfully concluded one day before the hospital visit – and Dan sat by my side silently nodding as if he was an accomplice to all of this.
 
Dan cried in the hospital.  Scared as hell.  That problem-solver that I told you about had no control over this one.
 
Since the hospital visit a year ago, we had ups and we had downs.  I started seeing a wonderful doctor that put me on an ultra-low carb diet that made my numbers close to perfect.
 
What non-diabetics sometimes fail to understand is how persistent this illness is.  Even (God forgive the analogy please) cancer has an end date.  It gets better or it doesn’t.  And while I’m not wishing for cancer, I do think that perhaps Dan and I could have battled that one out a bit better because of the finality of it.
 
So with time, my doctor’s visits became more and more spread out.  I would cancel appointments because I hadn’t been testing and recording as regularly as I know my doctor would have wanted.  I started sneaking in more and more carbohydrates.
 
And the carbohydrates made my numbers higher, and I was afraid of what my a1c results would be.  Another canceled appointment.
 
I even lied to Dan about a canceled appointment.  “She said everything was fine,” I told him, unable to fess up to canceling another meeting with my doctor out of fear for the harsh words he might have.
 
There’s really no bad guy here.  Dan loved me and wanted me to be healthy so we could grow old together…with all four of our feet.  And I wasn’t a bad guy either.  When confronted I always told myself that I could handle this.  “Just give me one more week to start testing and recording my numbers, and then I’ll go to the doctor.”
 
And ultimately I failed.
 
I’m totally leaving some stuff out.  Dan didn’t break up with me because I can’t control my blood glucose levels.  That would be jerky.  And Dan is less than jerky.  But my diabetes (un)management was a contributing factor in our decision to break up.  It’s tough to worry about your own blood glucose levels … let alone your boyfriends.

*   *   *

Mike Lawson is a program director for a youth-serving non-profit organization in Tempe, Arizona.  He was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2005, and then was re-diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 2007.  At this rate, he should be diagnosed with a working pancreas any day now.  Find Mike on Twitter: @mrmikelawson or read his blog: WhatSomeWouldCallLies.com

Crabs are Evil.

BEWARE THE EVIL ... CRABS!Crabs are something that people with diabetes are constantly grappling with.  Are crabs good for us?  Should we be avoiding crabs at all costs?  If we have too many crabs in our diet, will our A1c go up?  What's the official recommendation for diabetics as it pertains to crabs?  Has anyone ever really tamed the wild crabs?  Is anyone eating crabs, right now, as they read this?

(Note:  Spellcheck is my nemesis right now.  It always, always wants to change "carbs" to "crabs."  As though I have anything against Sebastian and his little sea foul friends.  Spellcheck also likes changing "bolusing" to "blousing," as if wearing a puffy shirt is a verb.  For the record, I have nothing against crabs.  Crabs are fine.  And, in my opinion, carbs are fine, too.  Spellcheck is a bit of a bitch, though.  /digression)  

In all seriousness (sort of), I've been told, time and time again, that carbs are evil.  That if I maintain a diet that's reasonably low-carb, my diabetes will thank me for it.  But I don't think that carbohydrates are the enemy.  In fact, they're my best molecular friend when my blood sugar is hanging out in the trenches.  (See also:  Reese's)

But.

I did notice, as I was gearing up for my wedding and working out more than usual, that my very low carb diet and my consistent exercise regimen made for minimal spikes in my blood sugar.  It wasn't a perfect system, but subbing in vegetables for mashed potatoes at dinner time made for a post-prandial under 200 mg/dl, which (pre-BSparl), was a solid goal for me.  Granted, I didn't avoid carbs all the time, but I actively avoided high carb diet choices because I knew both my weight and my A1c would pay the price somehow.  And now, post-BSparl, I'm trying to go back to that lower carb lifestyle, because that helped keep me at a weight I was more comfortable with.  (Not that I'm actively avoiding carbs now, thanks to the epic breastfeeding lows that crop up every few hours, so I'm giving myself a big ol' bell curve on getting back into shape.)

For me, part of the carbohydrate conundrum is user error.  Pre-Bsparl, I was a bit of a lazy boluser.  I never bolused well in advance of a meal, and my post-prandials (and my overall A1C) definitely paid the price over and over again.  It seems that I need to get my insulin pushed through my system at least 25 minutes before I sit down to eat, not five minutes before.  I learned this lesson (23 years too late, eh?) while I planning for baby, and during the course of the pregnancy, it was definitely the case.  Bolusing well before the meal worked better for me.  

To each diabetic their own, I think, when it comes to carbohydrate intake.  Some people are able to manage high piles of carbs without the messy spikes.  Other people, like me, might be clumsy with their insulin.  Or sometimes the decision not to carb has nothing to do with diabetes (as in my case, and in the case of my husband) - we go lower carb for weight management reasons.  But there's no set magical diabetes diet that cures all that ails ya.  Eating carbs, or not eating carbs, is a personal decision that each individual diabetic needs to figure out for themselves. 

In the Sparling house, we tend to avoid the carbs.

And we also arm ourselves against the crabs.  Because seriously, you never know.

May 12, 2010

Permanent Scaffolding.

Diabetes support scaffolding.  Which, thankfully, is not filled with cats.I was thinking about today's DBlog Week prompt, and trying to figure out my "biggest diabetes supporter." 

Would it be my mom, who learned to pinch hit as my pancreas before I started second grade, making sure I had a childhood that wasn't owned by diabetes?  Would it be my friends, who instinctively carry tubes of glucose tabs in their glove compartments or purses without even realizing it?  Would it be my pediatric endocrinologist, who never forgot that liking boys and sleep overs at my best friend's house were just as important as blood sugar logs and insulin injections?  Would it be this online community of fellow diabetics, who understand that there's a real life to be lived, even after diagnosis?  Or would my hero be my husband, who has championed my health and made me feel like I was every bit his bride, no matter what the status of my pancreas?

There are so many people who are part of my life with diabetes.  But life is more than all this diabetes stuff.  Diabetes doesn't define me.  (Have I mentioned that before?)  And it doesn't define my relationships, either. 

In my head, diabetes is just one part of the core of who I am.  And the people who support me, and my diabetes "stuff," are part of the scaffolding that keeps me steady.  Diabetes is a constant in my life, but also a constantly shifting priority.  Some days, I don't need much help or care and diabetes maintenance is on the back burner of my life.  Other days, it's a huge part of the day and requires a lot of attention.  And then there are the in between days.  But regardless of how loudly diabetes is fussing on any given day, the people in my life who support me aren't viewing my health as a project we need to constantly discuss or assess.  It's what we do, as a family, almost without thinking. 

And those people I mentioned - my parents, my husband, my friends, my medical team, and you guys - are the permanent scaffolding in my life.  The structure that I almost forget is there sometimes, because it's folded so seamlessly around the rest of my life.  You all help me repair and maintain my health, wrapping neatly around the whole of me and keeping me standing tall and strong.

On the easier days, I take it a bit for granted. 

But on the hard days, I'm able to stand tall, thanks to this support.

May 11, 2010

Break Glass In Emergency.

BSparl and I made our first trip out today into Boston proper, so I'm wicked late on writing my post for DBlog Week.  (I apologize for my tardy, bloggy arse.)  But when I was thinking about this topic last night while I waited for the baby to decide yes, she'd like to go back to bed after her 4 am feeding, thank you very much,  I knew I couldn't wax on about the old school low blood sugar treatments I used back in the day. 

Like the white, BD glucose tabs that tasted like the Lick n' Dip sticks and came in foil-wrapped packs of three.  Or the packets of honey they'd dole out at Clara Barton Camp.  Or the bottles of grape juice that hide out in my fridge at this very moment.  Or the many flavors of glucose tabs that, despite their color or packaging, still tasted like the same flavor:  chalk. 

Because when I'm low, I don't want the recommended fifteen grams of carbs.  I don't want to wait patiently for my blood sugar to rise.  I want to grab the hammer and break the glass, as suggested in times of emergency, and house a whole bag of Reese's Pieces.

E.T. can eat his little yellow mums instead.  I'm calling dibs on these.

Those things?  Are the freaking bomb.

May 10, 2010

A Day in the Life of a New Mom with Diabetes.

For D-Blog Week, Karen challenged the diabetes blogging community with a week's worth of blog prompts. Today is "A Day on the Life," and I've decided to focus on my new life with BSparl.  (Because if I tried to pretend that motherhood isn't affecting my diabetes, I'd be lying my face off.)

DING!!!  Game on.

A day in the life of a mom with diabetes5 am:  Alarms?  We don't need no stinkin' alarms.  Because now we have little baby girl who wakes us up at all hours of the night. 

When BSparl starts to fuss from her bassinet, either Chris or I leans up to check on her to make sure she's okay.  Since Chris usually does the 1 am feeding with a bottle, I try and do the 5 am feeding.  Since I'm breastfeeding, what I need to do first is check my blood sugar.  Anything less than 120 mg/dl and I'm snacking while she's eating.  I start this feeding at 98 mg/dl.

5:15 am:  BSparl is done with one side.  I switch her to the other side to finish eating, and I brush the foil wrapper that the fruit snacks came in to the floor.  

5:45 am:  BSparl is fed, burped, changed, and tucked back in.  I test my blood sugar again - now I'm 74 mg/dl and the Dexcom is showing a bit of a drop.  I wander out to the kitchen for peanut butter and a piece of toast.  (Not froast.) 

7 am:  Up again, only this time because the Dexcom is blaring at me.  49 mg/dl.  WTF?  Breastfeeding has very unpredictable effects on my blood sugars.  Some mornings, it doesn't make me low at all.  And then other mornings, it makes me plummet.

7:30 am:  BSparl and Chris are asleep in the bedroom, so I settle in on the couch with my laptop and a cup of tea.  My goal?  Answer some emails, write a blog post, finish some stuff that always seems to be due and I'm chasing the deadlines of, and use the breast pump to stash some milk for BSparl.  My insulin pump tubing sometimes gets tangled up in the breast pump tubing.  Which makes me think I'm wearing too many freaking pumps.

9 am:  Husband and daughter emerge, both sporting the same furrowed brow of the morning.  BSparl needs to be fed again, so I test my blood sugar to see where I'm at.  145 mg/dl - thank goodness.  Enough with the lows.  Bring on the BSparl!

11 am:  All of a sudden, it's almost noon, and I haven't eaten anything since 7 am.  I also haven't answered a single email.  Or finished the article I needed to finish.  My mornings are usually spent testing my blood sugar, feeding BSparl, changing her diapers (which have baby Sesame Street characters on them, which makes me laugh.  Because what do you call "Baby Big Bird?"  Little Bird?), and doing laundry.  I test my blood sugar - 118 mg/dl - and thank God that it's not pinging all over the damn place today.  Because some days it does. 

High Noon:  Still haven't eaten.  I force myself to stop and devour a Greek yogurt.  Blood sugars are holding steady.  But my pump site is aching a little - when was the last time I changed out the site?

Noon-thirty:  BSparl and I investigate the site.  Well, she hangs out in her bouncy chair on the bathroom floor while I take a look at the infusion set.  Looks fine - edges are peeling a bit - but it's only been four days.  Even though the reservoir isn't anywhere near empty, I opt to change the site because it's achy.  And because if I don't do it now, while I'm thinking about it, it will be another full day before I remember.  With all of my focus on BSparl and adjusting to life as her mommy, sometimes diabetes takes a wicked back seat.

1 pm:  New infusion set is in, baby girl is getting a bottle of breast milk because my own breasts need a break sometimes, and I still haven't answered one single email.  Is this why people take maternity leave?  I need some coffee.

2:15 pm:  Thirsty as all hell.  Test again - oh, that's nice.  233 mg/dl.  Frigging pump site change ... did I forget to take a little 0.3u bolus before pulling the site?  That seems to be the only way for me to avoid post-site change highs.  But of course, I had forgotten to do that.  And now I'm basking in the warm warming glow of a high blood sugar.  FanTAStic.  Still haven't eaten lunch, and now lunch is on a further delay due to the high.  I bolus down the high.

2:45 pm:  Dexcom shows that I'm dropping.  Meter confirms the same - 177 mg/dl.  Thing is, with the baby now out of me, I'm trying to figure out what my body's insulin needs are.  And that's tricky, because with breast feeding, I am never able to do an accurate basal test.  I have an appointment with Joslin in two weeks (for my 6 week follow up after surgery/birth), so I'm trying to log blood sugars to give my endo something to go on.

2:46 pm:  CRAP!  I haven't logged any blood sugars in three days!  With BSparl in my arms, I open up my laptop and try to find the spreadsheet.  I locate it, and then try to scroll through my meter memory and type the blood sugars into the spreadsheet using one hand.  BSparl decides this isn't a good time for her, and she makes a sound not unlike a can of shaving cream being deployed.  (She is a delicate, fragile, pooping flower, this child of mine.)  Diaper change time!

3:30 pm:  Lunch.  Finally.  Blood sugar is 109 mg/dl.  Lunch is a turkey and cheese sandwich, even though I'd much rather go low-carb these days to help lose the pregnancy weight.  But without carbs, I'm low all the time after feeding BSparl, so carbs it is. 

4 pm:  Time to head out to the grocery store and then to the post office.  BSparl hangs at the house with her dad while he works, and I test once more before getting into my car.  167 mg/dl.  How is the post-prandial that high?  I counted those stupid carbs.  My insuiln:carb ratio, I thought, was settled back into 1:12.  I need to test that ratio again, but no time today.  Must run errands.

4:04 pm:  As much as I love my daughter, I felt guilty blasting the Beastie Boys while she was inside of me.  Without her in the car, I can crank up the volume of the music again.  So i do.  As I head to the grocery store.  Damn, my life is a thrill a minute.

5 pm:  Walking out of the store, I realize that my Blackberry has been pinging for three hours and I haven't looked at it yet.  Checking the emails, I see that 75 emails have come in since 7 am.  And I STILL haven't answered a single one.  Whoops.

6:30 pm:  It's time for BSparl's dinner.  And then we read a book together - I like Dr. Seuss, but sometimes we read other books because I can only make my mouth navigate words like "Th'need" so many times before I start to either giggle or accidentally spit on my daughter while reading.  

7:45 pm:  Chris heads down to the gym and I prepare to go when he gets back.  (No, I'm not really "exercising."  Can't for another two weeks, due to the c-section.  But I can go for walks on the treadmill, so that's what I do.)  I test my blood sugar (139 mg/dl) and get all my crap together for the gym:  Dexcom receiver, meter, cell phone, reaction treaters, and that ever-elusive pair of workout pants that actually FIT. 

9 pm:  Back from the gym, blood sugars are steady for once, and BSparl is napping.  FINALLY, I answer some emails and finish up that article.  Oh crap - dinner!  I find something in the kitchen that doesn't require much assembly.

11 pm:  I realize that, since 5 pm, I've either fed BSparl or pumped six times.  How is that even possible?  Sure does account for the unpredictable blood sugars, though.  My body is in a constant state of "feed," making trends nothing short of chaotic.  And I have to be honest - I'm not sure I have the mental bandwidth to wrangle in diabetes and motherhood with any kind of precision these days.  Working off of very little sleep, and trying to understand the new swell of hormone changes in my body, is frustrating as hell.  Diabetes fine-tuning isn't my top priority these days.  I just want to coast as safely as I can at the moment.  (Note to people who may want to lecture me about my own health: Back off for a few weeks before you run cryptic commentary.)

Midnight:  What am I thinking, still awake??  BSparl will be up in two hours for her 2 am snack.  I'd better restock the bedside table with low blood sugar snacks and call it a day.  

Midnight-thirty:  Whoops, forgot to test.  94 mg/dl.  Dexcom confirms it's a steady number.  Off to bed!

Game Over ... until 5 am.  :)

May 07, 2010

BSparl's Birthday: Part Three.

Babies rule.My last entry, about the birth of my daughter, was simply about her.  About how she joined our family and how much we loved her even before we heard her cry.  I didn't want to focus on all the diabetes crap because it paled in comparison to becoming her mom.

But.

Diabetes was definitely in the mix of things.  Of course, right?  So here's the gist on how diabetes played into BSparl's birthday.

After she arrived and I was sewn back up, I don't remember a whole lot.  I know I ended up in a recovery room in the labor and delivery department of Beth Israel, but how I got there is a mystery to me.  As I was preparing to write this post, I had my head in my hands.  Chris came over.

"What's the matter?"

"Dude.  I clearly remember going into the operating room, and I remember all the moments about her birth, but I have no idea how I got into the recovery room.  Did she come with us?  Did they ever take her away from us?  I think I was in a fog after the delivery."

So Chris filled me in on what my brain missed.  Apparently, we all stayed in the operating room together.  The nurses took BSparl at first to clean her off, but after that, she was with her mom and dad until we all left the OR.  Chris told me that I was moved from the surgical table to a hospital bed, and BSparl was in a glass-walled bassinet on wheels.  When the surgical team was finished putting me back together, I was wheeled down the hallway to the recovery room, and my baby followed.  

I was completely in a fog, but Chris told me that the baby was removed from the recovery room for about 15 minutes so they could take her to the nursery and test her blood sugar.  I remember when they returned - the nurse said that BSparl's blood sugar was 20 mg/dl.  They seemed somewhat casual about that number (I guess a baby's blood sugar is most often close to 60 mg/dl, so 20 mg/dl wasn't enough to send them scrambling.)  However, I wasn't able to wrap my head around that concept.  I knew what 20 mg/dl felt like, and my heart broke.  I know it's common for the babies of type 1 diabetics to have low blood sugar issues after birth, but still ...

"We can give her a bottle, or you guys can give her a bottle.  Either way, she needs to have something."

The anesthesia was hitting me hard, and waves of nausea were taking over rational thought.  I knew my blood sugar was fine (I'd been testing every 30 minutes or so since 6 am, and it was now about 10 am), but if my baby was having trouble, I wanted someone to feed her immediately.

I blinked.  Or maybe dozed off due to the drugs.  But when I came to, I saw Chris, sitting in a chair by my recovery bed, holding our daughter and giving her a bottle.  "She's fine now.  She'll be just fine," he said to me, not looking up but instead keeping his eyes locked on his child.

"Have they been testing her blood sugar?"  I could see these little bandaids on her heels, proof positive of the blood sugar checks.

"They're going to check her again in a few minutes.  Don't worry," Chris said.

They did - she was monitored steadily for the first 12 hours of her life.  And after that initial post-birth low, her numbers held in the 68 mg/dl - 75 mg/dl for the rest of her hospital stay.

On my end of the diabetes stuff, the situation got a little tricky once I was back in my hospital room.  After about an hour and a half in the recovery room (during which time Chris called all of our friends and family members to spread the good news about BSparl's safe arrival, and I opted not to talk to anyone for a bit because I kept throwing up into the handy bedpan - yum), Team Sparling was escorted back to the hospital room I'd been captive in for weeks.  I was still hooked up to the insulin drip, the glucagon drip, and was being monitored by my own glucose meter at my discretion.  

Problem was, my numbers started to bottom out.  And I wasn't able to keep anything down, due to my body's reaction to the anesthesia.  Some c-section ladies get "the shakes" after the spinal, but I didn't have that issue.  I had "the pukes."  I threw up - like a champ - about seven times in the hours following BSparl's birth, which the doctors said was normal but my blood sugars weren't digging it.  I was stuck, for about three hours, at a blood sugar of 50 mg/dl.  I tried to keep down some grape glucose tabs but they made their way back out, so we buzzed the nurses and asked for the dextrose drip to be turned up.

"Okay, we work off a sliding scale for this sort of thing, so we'll increase you to 20u of dextrose over the course of the next hour."

Even though I was still in the post-surgery fog, this wasn't a good plan to me.

"But I'm dropping.  A lot.  Like right now.  Can't we truncate the time frame on that dextrose?  Maybe get the 20u administered in the next 15 minutes?  Instead of over the course of an hour?"

Nope.  The sliding scale (bah) didn't call for that kind of action.  The best they could do was to turn off the insulin drip for a little bit to help counteract the plummeting blood sugar.  This scene played out for about three hours, with me calling for the nurses and asking for upped dextrose, watching my meter continuously throw out results under 60 mg/dl, and any attempts at glucose tabs or gel immediately evacuated by my body.  BSparl was being cuddled by my husband and then my mother (my mom came up to the hospital for the surgery - I may have been having my daughter, but hers was having surgery, so she was nervous), so baby girl was safe.  But I was stuck in the lows for hours.  And by the time I was starting to come up, the insulin drip had been "off" for three hours, I had been dosed with a pile of dextrose over the course of those three hours, and my blood sugar was rising fast.  (Why, oh why, couldn't they just quick dose me when I was low, instead of the sliding scale crap?)

It wasn't until about 7 pm that night that I was able to keep down some food.  And it wasn't until about 12 pm that they let me remove the insulin drip and reconnect the Ping pump.  My pump, once cranked beyond recognition in efforts to accommodate my third trimester insulin needs, was dialed down to a flat basal rate of 0.3u per hour and programmed with an insulin:carb ratio of 1:20.  They err on the side of caution with lows, post-birth, because of the nausea, etc.  And my body responded in kind, with blood sugars over 260 mg/dl for the next 48 hours.

"Oh, fabulous.  I'm 300 mg/dl now.  This is a far cry from the control I had just yesterday, right?"  I asked my husband.

He was holding BSparl in our now-quiet hospital room, looking at all the hair on her head and her tiny features.  I didn't want to wake her up.  I just wanted to watch him hold her, seeing the bond between the two of them grow as I watched.

"She's still okay, right?  Her blood sugars are okay?  She's okay over there?"

BSparl whimpered and stretched a little bit, her little hands reaching.  Her dad smiled.

"She's perfect."

May 06, 2010

Guest Post: Jumping Right In!

Holly is a sweetheart who is jumping into the diabetes blogosphere with her blog, Arnold and Me.  She says that she used to have a lot of conflicting emotions about diabetes, but she's no longer ashamed.  Check out her post below and then be sure to skip on over to her blog and welcome her to the crew!!

*   *   *

Hello, my name is Holly!  I am 25-years-old and I’m from Alabama.  I am married to the most wonderful, patient man I’ve ever known, Trey.  I am the pet momma to two cats (Charlie & Elvis) and one dog (Roscoe).  I love SEC football.  I work as an environmental engineer for NASA.  And I love the weather, especially thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.  

Oh yeah, and I have diabetes.  

On December 11, 2006, I woke up in my local hospital’s intensive care unit after experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis.  My blood sugar was over 1400 at the time of my hospitalization.  That afternoon, I met my endocrinologist.  He told me that I was type 1 diabetic but it wasn’t my fault and I had done nothing wrong.  So, two weeks after my 22nd birthday, my life changed.  

For the first three years after my diagnosis, I was ashamed that I was diabetic.  I avoided testing in front of people, especially friends and family.  I would test and dose in restroom stalls when I was out in public.  I would always wear my pump inside a pocket or somewhere discreet.  Regardless of what my endocrinologist told me, I somehow felt this “thing” was my fault and I wanted to hide it.  

But now, I want to start a diabetes blog.  What changed?  Am I more open to this “thing?”  Am I less shy and private about it?  Hardly!  Then, why start a blog about one of the most personal areas of my life?

For starters, I am no longer ashamed to have diabetes.  I understand this was meant to be a part of my life and was written for me long before I was born.  However, there are some aspects about living with a disease that can only be fulfilled by sharing it with others:  

Accountability: 
I don’t know why, but my numbers are always better when I write them down.  Regardless if I eat the same or work out the same, my diabetes is more in check when it’s logged.  I guess it’s kind of like when a trainer tells you “think about the muscle you’re using.”  When I think about my diabetes, the more in control it seems to be.  I’m hoping that with displaying my numbers and habits for anyone to see, my conscious will nag me to take better care of myself.  

Community: 
The first type 1 diabetic that I met in real life was April (fellow d-blogger, Nerdy April, and space nerd).  We were working together at a summer camp for kids.  It had been less than six months since my diagnosis, and I guess I was still in shock.  When I told her I had just found out I was diabetic, she gave me a hug.  A hug.  From someone who understood.  NO!  She knew!  That was my turning point, I wanted more of that.  More people who felt the same way I did.  More people with this “thing.” 

Encouragement: 
Let’s face it, we all have our highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes.   And I’ll have my days where all I want to do is test on my middle finger and say, “F-U, diabetes!”  But sometimes we have our little victories.  Like finally getting a fasting BG below 130.  Or bringing my A1c down by 0.5%.  I want encouragement for all that and for when my husband and I want to have a baby (but not yet, Mom!).  And encouragement for when I want to ask my doctor for a CGM—and fighting the insurance company afterwards.  

For those of you who are experienced at this, what other reasons have you found a d-blog to be beneficial?  I’d like to know what I’m getting myself into.  =)

So, thanks to Kerri, for letting me make my first official d-blog post on SUM.  You can check out my blog at Arnold and Me.  I’ll start with the story of my diagnosis, which you can tell from my intro was very dramatic.  Then, some more non-D things about me.  

P.S.  I’m also a huge Twilight nerd.  Team Jacob! 

May 05, 2010

Guest Post: Diabetic Parenting.

About a month before my daughter was born, my friend Elizabeth became a mom.  Her baby girl joined her family through the miracle of adoption, instead of the c-section that brought BSparl roaring into our family, and both Elizabeth and I share the experience of first-time motherhood and type 1 diabetes. 

Her post, which I have the privilege of posting here on SUM today, echoes many of my own fears and thoughts.  I've had a few lows while watching BSparl, and the combination of panic, guilt, pride, and love is intensity defined.  Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your story here.

*   *   *

It was a bad one.
    
And of course I’ve had the bad ones before, plenty of times. Where you’re working so hard or playing so hard (or worst of all, sleeping so hard) that you don’t realize what’s happening with your body until figuring out the series of muscles you’d need to walk feels as complex as solving differential equations, while drunk. Course I’ve had the bad ones before and it’s annoying, sure, and somewhat scary but no big deal. Except that this time it happened while my daughter was screaming.
    
I need to ingrain this in my brain, like that canned airline speech about what to do when your oxygen mask drops. My oxygen mask had conked me square in the nose, but my instinct, of course, was to save my child first.
    
The back story is that Anna has a hard time pooping, something called dyschezia where she gets all confused and tenses up. (I know, right? Who knew some babies actually have to learn how? This is not one of those things the baby books tell you, perhaps to keep you from gouging out your eyes in despair over what’s to come. Imagine this, a prolonged high-pitched screaming and me cheering, You can do it, push, push, push!  It’s like Anna is giving birth to a poop.)
    
The only thing that helps somewhat is to pull her knees up to her chest (as one would if she were giving birth to an actual baby), to help her relax. Drop her knees and the screaming escalates. So there I was last week, standing over the changing table with my hands on Anna’s knees, Anna sobbing, me sobbing and not wanting to let go. Until I didn’t have a choice. It was chomp down glucose tabs or pass out, so…and thank God I had the presence of mind not to try and lift Anna from the table … I dropped her legs, and tried not to hear the screaming as I raced to the kitchen.
    
It was awful.
    
And when I became lucid enough to think through what had happened, it became even more awful. Anna’s only five weeks old now, so she’s not in danger of rolling herself off the changing table, but what happens in three months when I can’t leave her alone? Or what if I’m carrying her or walking her down a busy street in her stroller, and I go hypo without realizing how low I am? And then there’s a whole other set of worries, not as immediate but just as profound…Namely, what will my diabetes do to Anna in the long run?

   
I’m sure all d-parents think this through before deciding to raise a child, and I wonder how they manage to come to terms with and accept it. Because my daughter will inevitably go through things no child should have to experience. There will be times when she isn’t the center of attention, and whacky-bg times I won’t have the energy to chase her in circles. She’ll be one of those children who, at the age of 3, knows how and when to dial 911, and as she gets older, experience will make her worry about me, doing that thing my husband does where he tries to gauge my sugar through the pace of my conversation. She’ll get used to the sight of blood. She’ll have to learn restraint, that some of the candy in the house is just for me. She’ll very likely see me with extremely low bg, nonresponsive or confused, acting in a way that scares her. She’ll likely see me go through various complications throughout our lives. She’ll likely lose her mom at a younger age than she would have otherwise.
    
Before my husband and I first signed up to adopt, I thought a lot about the weight the child of a diabetic parent might carry. I’m sure the d-parents who actually conceive a child have the same thoughts, along with others that’re even more terrifying (see: everything Kerri went through over the past 10 months.) But I probably looked at the issue even more closely, because this child’s existence didn’t depend on us creating her. I knew we’d be amazing parents, but I also knew that for every child available for adoption, there are tens of other amazing parents who want them, most of whom don’t have a chronic illness. (And okay, those of you who know me are now thinking you need to comment, saying she’s lucky to have us⎯You’re sweet, but that’s not going to help. I know we’re lucky to have each other, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’ll necessarily need to make sacrifices. And now that I actually know our daughter, and love her with all my heart, thinking about those sacrifices hurts like hell.)
    
Oh lordie, this post has gotten too melodramatic and woe-is-us-ish, sorry. Listen, I’ve also thought about the good things that’ll come from having a diabetic mom…And there are good things, or at least good sides to the bad things. Anna will hopefully learn to care how others are feeling, sooner than she would have without me. She’ll have empathy and patience. She’ll learn not to take health for granted. And, you know, learning how to dial 911 is a useful skill for anyone. But the idea of my diabetes ever, ever being a burden for my child is pretty heartrending. Add to this the very real fact that I have much less time to test and log and weigh food and remember how long I need to extend a bolus when eating oatmeal, and I’m just scared the whole family will topple down the huge mountain diabetic parenting can be.

And yet many hundreds of thousands of people do it every day, and do it really well. They probably have to learn as they go, which I guess is what I’m doing now. (My first lesson was to have a constant stash of Dex 4s in my pockets so I can eat without leaving her side. Should’ve thought of this sooner, I’m a slow learner, but I do tend to get there eventually.)
    
What else have I learned from these five weeks of experience? I have a checklist now on my refrigerator, with items to pack with me before I leave the house. Now that I have to remember what to stock in Anna’s diaper bag, it’s easy to forget my diabetes supplies. I’ve learned that lack of sleep and an inconsistent eating schedule will completely skew my insulin needs, and I’ve learned how to test and bolus while supporting a bottle with my chin. I’ve learned that dancing a baby around the living room requires a decrease in basal rate, and that a buzzing CGMS in one’s pocket, while dancing said baby, makes her squeal in surprise.
    
And over all of this I’m learning something that I’m sure Kerri is learning now too, that the many challenges of diabetic parenting are completely and totally overshadowed by the pure joy of it.

*   *   *

You can read Elizabeth's blog, or check out her fantastic books on her website.  Thank you again, Elizabeth!

May 04, 2010

Guest Post: Balance.

Despite the fact that she feels I say her name wrong ("Saraaaaaah" vs. "Sara"), and despite the fact that back at CWD several years ago, the lady at the registration desk thought she was my daughter (ahhhh!), I'm honored to have Sara from Diabetes Daily guest posting today on SUM.  :)  She's very tolerant of my ball-busting, and I am pretty sure she might be one of the nicest people I've ever met.  So thanks, Sara, for lending your words today!

*   *   *

Sara(aaaah)

My whole life has been a competition. I have an older brother so I was always working to be as smart, athletic, funny, and creative as he seemed to so easily be.  When I was able to find those things that I was good at, like school, I worked very hard to not only be good, but the best. I’m not just competitive but also a perfectionist.

I was not diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes until my senior year of college in 2003. I think until that point, I could count the number of people I knew with diabetes on one hand, and four of them had Type 2. It was a whole new world for me, and one that I had to quickly perfect.

For example, I was sent home from the hospital after my diagnosis with what was basically an exchange system diet. Since I suddenly felt like I couldn’t control so many things in my life, following that diet was something that I could control. I ate the same thing every day and can remember it even now – an English muffin with peanut butter and a scrambled egg with cheese on it for breakfast, a sandwich on light wheat bread with a banana and two small ‘sugar free’ cookies for lunch, and a piece of baked chicken with vegetables and a piece of toast or small potato for dinner. Every day. I could measure my success by how well I followed that diet, and I followed it well.

In January of 2007, I stumbled upon one of the diabetes forums looking for the answer to a question. Living my life in the online diabetes world quickly became a new measure of success. I went from posting on my blog occasionally to posting almost daily. I was always reading the comments and posting some of my own on all the diabetes message boards. I became almost a nightly visitor in a diabetes chat room. I twittered diabetes and even pushed myself to be one of the first people to successfully finish the diabetes365 photo project. If anyone was going to have an answer to a question, I was going to have that answer and I was going to post it first! Being the best diabetic and, more importantly, the best member of the diabetes online community was my new obsession.

Obsession is not always a bad thing. The pressure that I put on myself gave me excellent control of my diabetes. I got my A1cs consistently in the low 6 range. I always knew about the latest controversy, advocacy, and research. I was taking really good care of myself, but for completely the wrong reasons.

My life had become nothing but diabetes and I didn’t notice anything wrong with that until it slapped me in the face this past October. It was actually what caused me to write this post and follow up with this one. Two people who are a very important part of my life shared with me some very painful things that had recently happened in their lives.  I almost immediately felt guilty because I knew that I had been so wrapped up in my diabetes world that I missed my opportunity to prevent even a small part of their pain.

I was suddenly forced with reevaluating my priorities. I don’t blog as much anymore. I don’t tweet as often as I should. I hardly ever visit the message boards anymore and I had to step back from being a moderator on one of them. I dropped out of my second attempt at the diabetes365 project after about two weeks. My perfectionist tendencies want me to call that a failure. But you know what? A bigger part of me is perfectly content with all of those decisions.

Diabetes still requires a lot of my attention. There is not a meal, a bedtime, a vacation, or even a long car ride where it does not make an appearance. And every time I look at my meter I am still reminded of those feelings of success or failure based on the number that appears. But there is so much more to my life than diabetes and I would rather have my life be measured by those moments rather than words or numbers on a screen.

Five Years.

Cheers to five years!I have a great guest post lined up for today that's going live in a few minutes, but it just dawned on me that May 4, 2010 marks the fifth anniversary of Six Until Me.  Five years ago today, I started this mess of a blog and found all of you guys - and my goodness, how badly I needed you guys!  I thought I was the only diabetic on the planet who was LIVING with diabetes.  Everything I found online pointed towards reasons why I would die as a result of diabetes.  Back in 2005, Google was a depressing place for chronic illness patients. 

But now.  :)  Now we have hundreds - literally, hundreds! - of diabetes blogs and diabetes-dedicated websites to fill the niche, and new bloggers add their voices to the chorus every month.  A big part of what I get from the diabetes blogosphere is that sense of community, that every one of us lives a very different, unique life with diabetes, but we're all in this together. 

And we aren't just sharing our diabetes lives, but we're tapping into the other aspects of our lives.  For me, just in the last five years alone, I've gone from a twenty something just starting out in a new relationship to a married thirty something with a little baby girl.  And there was a LOT in between that diabetes wasn't the focus of, but was more of the background. 

So cheers to you, all you diabetes bloggers and Twitterers and lurkers ... thanks for tolerating my goofy arse for five years!!

May 03, 2010

Guest Post: Twice as Nice!

Karen and K.C.

So, so awesome to have my good friend Karen guest blogging here on SUM.  She's the creator of a diabetes blog, a knitting blog, and Siah's yarn nemesis.  She's one terrific lady, and I'm very excited to have her filling in today.

*   *   *

Three years ago if you bet me a year’s worth of Blood Sugar Nirvana that I’d have a diabetes blog along with my knitting blog, I would have taken that bet.  I would have insisted I’d never have two active blogs.  And I would now have 365 days of constant highs and lows ahead of me, while you’d be enjoying a year of perfectly in-range numbers.

I started my knitting blog in 2005 while teaching myself to knit with a book that had a chapter devoted to blogging.  With each knitting blog I visited, the urge to join the knit-blog community got stronger.  I soon I found myself setting up a Blogger account and diving in.  I liked blogging from the start, even back in the early days when no one except my husband was reading.  Over time, I gained some regular readers and made some great friends, both online and in real life.   Although I blogged mostly about knitting, other topics peppered my posts too, including diabetes stuff.  But the thought of starting another blog dedicated to diabetes never entered my mind.  I certainly didn’t imagine there would be a thriving diabetes blog community out there.

Then came the day I started to seriously consider getting an insulin pump, even though the thought of being attached 24/7 freaked me out.  The self-conscious part of me didn’t want what I deemed an ugly piece of medical equipment clipped to my favorite outfits.  So I typed “where to hide an insulin pump” into my search engine and was brought to this very blog.  I read with great interest how Kerri tucked her pump into little pockets that Ann Taylor pants were designed with.  All along I had felt like the only person in the world silly enough to be self-conscious about an insulin pump.  It was wonderful to realize that others wanted to keep their pumps out of sight as well.  I continued to visit Six Until Me and soon started to visit the blogs of those who left comments for Kerri.  Often I was tempted to leave my own comments, but I held back out of embarrassment.   I figured anyone who clicked through and landed on my knitting blog would wonder what that heck this knitting chick was doing leaving comments on a diabetes blog.   In hindsight, that was a ridiculous assumption, because the diabetes community is so supportive and welcoming!  But to me, if I really wanted to join the D-OC, I decided I would need to take the plunge and start a diabetes blog.  And that’s when Bitter-Sweet was born.

At times having two blogs can be difficult.  I will admit I don’t post to either blog as regularly as I’d like.  Sometimes finding topics to for two different blogs can be a stretch.  Although on a knitting blog, it’s completely acceptable and even encouraged to just put up a picture of a pretty skein of yarn - that is absolutely considered a valid post.  It’s not so easy on a diabetes blog, because pictures of lancets or glucose tabs are pretty boring!  I could have just one blog that includes knitting and diabetes and anything else I wanted to blather about.  But I’m far too compulsive for that - I like things orderly and labeled, one blog for knitting and a separate blog for diabetes.  Heck, I could even start a whole new OCD blog but then I’d have three blogs . . . and three is an odd number so I’d feel compelled to start a fourth just to keep things even . . .  and frankly, it wouldn’t end well.  I’d end up with 100 blogs and people would start calling me a crazy blog lady.

So what is the upside of having two blogs?  Hands down, it’s the reward of being a part of two wonderful communities.  On either blog I can post about a problem or frustration, and my blog friends will rush to the rescue with support and tips and cheers to hang in there.  Although I have to say, I feel a tighter bond in the diabetes blog world.  Knitters are wonderful, don’t get me wrong.  But there is a different bond that forms when you share a chronic illness than when you share a hobby.  For this very reason, I’ve never once regretted my decision to maintain two different blogs at once.  Because even when writer’s block is at its very worst, and even though you can’t woo the D-OC with pictures of yarn, you can always get by with posting a picture of a good cupcake!

Visitors since November 7, 2005