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June 30, 2011

Dear Diabetes.

Hate mail:  I haz it for the D.Dear Diabetes,

You suck.

Yes, there are more eloquent ways to express my frustration, but that one, simple phrase really sums it up for me today.  I could talk about how I was up before the sun, battling the ridiculous Boston commuter traffic to make it to my 8:30 am Joslin Clinic appointment on time, just so that you could be checked on.  ("Checked on," as if you are going anywhere.)  I could mention how the nurse chastised me for being eight minutes late - "You're on me for eight minutes?  I've waited multiple hours to see the doctor in the past, and you're on me for eight minutes."  I could bring up the fact that I ran like hell from the garage over on Pilgrim Street in efforts to be as on-time as possible for my appointment. By the time the took my blood pressure, I was through the roof with anxiety. 

Today's endocrinologist appointment was a disappointment, diabetes.  Because you suck.  I hate how my A1C hasn't come down nearly enough to reflect the work I've put into managing you.  I'm back at the gym with frightening regularity.  I'm back up to testing at least ten times per day, and also wearing the Dexcom every day.  I change out my infusion sets every three days.  I am LOGGING blood sugars, you stupid fool.  I've lost a little more of that pesky baby weight since my last appointment (down four more pounds).  I eat well.  I try.  I try and try and freaking try, and my A1C is 7.8%.  

"This is better than December, when you were at 8.6%," my endo said.  "And since you aren't having nearly as many lows as you were in the past, this is a truer result.  I much prefer you to be more even than to have those sharp spikes and lows.  This is going in the right direction."

Her words soothed me a little bit, but not enough.  I want a more solid A1C, one that reflects the work I've put into my health.  I feel so angry at you, diabetes, for being such a pain in the ass.  And a scary one, at that.  I want good health.  I want a good quality of life.  And right now, I'm having a hard time lining those two ideologies up. 

Diabetes, you make everything just sticky enough to catch guilt and fear in your fly tape.  An early morning drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic for two and a half hours is stressful and frustrating, but you have to go and throw my blood sugar from 106 mg/dl up to 178 mg/dl.  For what - for fun?  Last night's workout ended at 111 mg/dl, but then crashed into the 50's for kicks?  Why do you complicate every little moment?  Why do you suck so much?

... Wah wah wah much, Kerri?  Yes, I'm in wicked wah-wah mode.  But I am so mad that my efforts in managing this disease don't always reflect on paper.  I am angry that it's never truly "good," but only "good enough."  And I hate being in this state of mind because it contributes to more chaos than calm.  For me, being in control of you means being in decent emotional health, and it's hard to feel emotionally capable of controlling a chronic illness when you can't quite control your tears.  Or your anger.  ... or both.

Diabetes, you are stupid.  You are annoying.  You're a thorn in my side.  You frustrate me.  You make me create  brand-new curse words because the ones that already exist don't do you justice.  You make me cry.  You make me pound on the steering wheel of my car like Donkey Kong.  You royally piss me off.

But you don't define me.  And you won't own my whole day.  I just want you to know that despite your efforts to screw with me, I'm still here.  I'm still trying.  And I will kick your ass.


June 29, 2011

Medtronic: You Need to Call These People.

After Abby wrote about her diabetes-themed tattoo, there were a lot of comments from people either yaying or naying the idea of a tattoo.  I received a few emails with some photos, but the BEST photo I've seen so far is from a mom in Quebec, Canada.  Camille is the mom of a kid with diabetes, and she and her husband got inked in solidarity for their son. 

From Camille's email:  "My hubby and I both got inked last October in support of our four years old son Jacob who was diagnosed [in] January 2010. He started pumping in August 2010. One day he said to me, ''Mom, am I the only one in the world who has a pump?'' I knew he felt alone on his diabetes planet so we decided to join him! I told him that we too would get pumps, that T1 is part of who we are and that the love we share is way stronger than D!"

Incredible ink.  Incredible!
Two dedicated parents, and one cute kid with a great smile.

If that's not the most badass advertising Medtronic will ever get, I don't know what is.

June 28, 2011

Eye Love San Diego.

Birds have sharp little nails.  For the record.Back at the beginning of May, the Bird took a swipe at my left eyeball with her little birdie talon, ripping off a nice, solid chunk of my cornea and leaving me in some serious pain.  It was a rough couple of days, especially because Chris was away for the week on business, but my family and friends pitched in to help with the baby and to allow me to heal. 

I figured I was done with this issue.

"You may want to be careful about recurrence, Kerri.  With this kind of injury, it does happen."  My eye doctor warned me, handing me a small tube of eye goop stuff.  "This is Muro 128.  Pull down your lower eyelid and smear this in there.  It will help keep your eye coated while you sleep."

(Oh eyeball injuries.  You make me feel old, because if you Google "Muro 128," you'll see that this product is targeted at the 60+ crowd.  Throw in a few tennis balls for my walker and I'm ready for my debut at the bingo hall.)

I used the stuff, but it wasn't enough to protect me from San Diego's desire to blind me.  I don't know if the air conditioning was super-intense, or if the air was beyond dry, or if it was some perfect storm of eye effery, but on Friday morning, I woke up with my eye the size of a baseball and the cornea so ripped and red that you could barely see the blue of my iris.  

"Oh you pesky little whippersnapper," I said.  Verbatim.  Didn't throw in any curse words.  Nope.

I knew the cornea abrasion was back, with a vengeance, but I had no idea how bad it was going to be to manage this condition while traveling.  Something about hotel air and climate control measures taken by conference rooms (plus all that recycled airplane air on the flight from RI to CA) made for a very ripe string-cheesing.  And also impeded healing.  So on Friday, I spent the morning sitting on the floor of my hotel bathroom with the lights off and the air conditioning off, talking with my eye doctor in RI and hoping to have a prescription for numbing drops, anti-inflammatory drops, or a glass eyeball called in. 

In efforts to truncate this tale, I ended up missing the last morning of the Roche Summit.  I also missed the entire ADA Scientific Sessions conference.  I spent early Friday afternoon in the care of my wonderful d-friends and then holed up in my second hotel for the rest of the day.  (It was a nice hotel, too, from what I smelled of it.)  Hours on end of trying to sleep, waking up with that feeling of razorblades in my eye, and trying to reschedule my flight.  The pain was one thing, but the inconvenience of not being able to see made me very nervous.  I couldn't see my meter results, my CGM graph, or the readout on my pump clearly at all, making me paranoid about managing my diabetes.  Total chaos.  I ended up finding a flight to get me out on Saturday afternoon, and it wasn't until Monday morning that I had my vision mostly restored in my left eye.

Oh, but that flight home from CA.  

Like I told a few of my friends already, the airplane travel made my cornea go from "bad" to "holy tumultuous clustereff."  Those little airplane personal fan things that spew out a ton of recycled air onto each passenger?  Completely dried out my eye on the flight from San Diego to my connection in Phoenix, so that I was in so much pain I could barely stand when I had to switch flights in Arizona. 

Thank God for the woman who sat next to me from AZ to RI.  Since I was wearing sunglasses on the plane, cupping my eye, and being escorted by the flight attendants to my seat, I think it was clear that I was damaged goods.

"What happened to your eye?"  she asked, taking out her knitting.

"Corneal abrasion.  Nasty one."

"I have this eye cover - would you like it?"  She pulled out one of those diva sleep mask-looking things and handed it to me.  It was black, and sort of velvety, and smelled as if it hadn't seen the light of day in quite some time.  

But I slapped it right over my eyes with vigor.  "Thank you.  THANK you," I said.  The mask perfectly protected my eye from being accessed by the bursts of cool, dry air.  Once we were in the air, I plugged in my headphones and sat there for five hours straight, in my own, personal sensory deprivation chamber.  And when the flight attendant walked me off the plane at midnight and into the care of my husband, I looked like a sloppy starlet at the end of her game, with my diva mask perched on my forehead and my sunglasses over my eyes, one hand up to shield my eye from the florescent lights of the airport.

"Oh my poor girl," said Chris, taking my carry-on off my shoulder and grabbing my arm.  

"No pictures, dah-link," I replied, so relieved to be home.

Note to all parents of small children:  For the love of God, please cut your child's nails.  Like every day.

June 27, 2011

Roche Summit 2011: SUM Thoughts.

What should have been a fun business trip ended up being a big ol' mess.  Here's my attempted recap:

On Wednesday, I flew out to San Diego for the Roche Social Media Summit and then the ADA Scientific Sessions Conference.  On Thursday, I attended the first day of the Roche Summit.  On Friday, my cornea tore again (almost as fiercely as the first time) and I spent the day hiding in my hotel room, freaking out from the pain, and trying to get home to RI sooner.  And on Saturday, I made the long trek home. 

So please forgive me for the bullet list recap, but I'm still regrowing my eyeball.  (More on that later.)

  • Seeing my fellow diabetes bloggers and advocates is always the highlight of this summit.  I can't lie about that.  Walking into a room and wanting to hug everyone in it is a rare thing. 
  • However, since this was the third Roche Summit I've attended, I sort of wanted to hug the Roche people, too.  Todd and Rob are dedicated to this community, and they have never once tried to "hard sell me" on using their company's products.  Instead, they seem like they are happy to learn from our perspectives as people with diabetes.  I appreciate that openness.  (However, I missed seeing Lisa this year.  We missed you, Lisa!)
  • The agenda included hearing from the International Diabetes Federation, and the CEO of the JDRF.  Both the IDF and the JDRF are organizations I support wholeheartedly, but hearing from their leaders ignited a fire under me once again.  I hate to say "more on this later," but ... um, more on this later.  (The agenda also included Dr. William Polonsky, but he spoke on the day I missed due to eye trouble, so I'll have to rely on my fellow summit attendees to recap that one.  I'm sure it was brilliant, though.  He's always brilliant.  Guy totally "gets it.")
  • We also, in smaller groups, talked about ways to move the DOC forward.  The group I was part of discussed partnerships between patients and companies, and our end-result idea was a sort of guidebook to set forth the rules of engagement.  From my perspective, each person and company has an obligation to disclose a certain amount of information and to set personal expectations (i.e. "don't contact me for PR pitches" or "this blog does do product reviews" and of course "Hi, I'm So-and-So and I work for Diabetes Company X") to help move the community towards a greater good (which, as defined by me, is having higher quality information reach the less net-connected masses).  The online community has impacted how I handle my health tremendously, and I would love for our community to be able to access more rural areas.
  • There was also a photo moment in the lobby of the Hard Rock hotel, where all 37 (I think?) of us gathered to grin and then get goofy for a minute.  Evidence:
The Roche Social Media Summit crew for 2011
  • The best part about this Summit is that it's the opposite of that "Vegas" mentality; what happens here is supposed to leave with us.  Whether the focus is on the fellow advocates we spent time with, or our perceptions of Roche as a diabetes company, or on how much fun a night of bowling might happen to be, these experiences are okay to be shared.  There aren't any secrets to be kept.  Of course, if you're feeling skeptical, you might say, "But of course they [Roche] want you to blog about this Summit.  Good press for them!"  Good point, and true.  But Roche also took a leap of faith by inviting us in the first place, and allowing us to report on any and everything about the Summit. They also didn't discriminate in who they invited (as in, they invited me, openly sponsored by both Animas and Dexcom but still invited by Roche). And most important, to me, anyway, is that they gave a few dozen bloggers the opportunity to have dinner together, in person.  Our opinions aren't bought and sold, but it's hard not to appreciate a company that literally brings our community together once a year. 
  • And here's my disclosure, similar to last year's:  Roche paid for my plane tickets to and from San Diego, and they also covered my hotel room on Wednesday and Thursday night.  But they didn't hold me over a shark tank to gain input from me, and I am also still using my brain on my own, so basically they can only claim travel, food during the conference, and lodging.  They also didn't ask us to blog about the event (even though they knew we would).
Next on tap is to organize my thoughts on the IDF and JDRF sessions, and figuring out where Sprinkles ended up crashing this weekend.  But first, finishing the regrowth of aforementioned cornea.  Ouch.

June 23, 2011

From Abby: My Dia-Ink.

I've never wanted a tattoo because I can't think of anything I want on my body FOREVER (I was more of a piercer than an inker), but Abby figured out what she wanted:  a diabetes tattoo.  But not exactly what you might be thinking.  Today, she's talking about her decision to get dia-inked.
*   *   *
I didn’t even know that people got diabetes tattoos until my first summer at Clara Barton Camp, where I saw a bunch of them. I saw some that were blue ribbons with dates under them, some with the medic-alert symbol, hearts with their dates, quotes.

I had to have one.

It took me about a year and a half to decide what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want a medic alert symbol, because I didn’t want people to know what the tattoo was about when they saw it. I started thinking of quotes that would represent the way I live my life with diabetes, and I came up with a few that stuck with me for a while.

"It’s only life" is from a song by Kate Voegele, which I had almost settled on. "Impossible Means Nothing To Me" from another Kate Voegele song was also in the running.

I definitely wanted the date of my diagnosis in with the quote, I just couldn’t decide which quote I wanted. Then I kept asking myself “what if I hate that song in 10 years?” or “what if Kate Voegele becomes a crazy murderer and I’ve got her words stuck on me forever?”

That’s when I nixed the quote idea and went with just "the date." Deciding where was less of a hassle. I have a tattoo on my right ankle, and on my back (not a tramp stamp) which both have some really deep meaning to them, so I needed a place that would be separate from those. I chose my ribs on the left side.

Getting inked for diabetes.
Abby getting inked.

So there it was, I had what I wanted, I had the place – to the tattoo parlor I went. The guy there just doodled up the final design in like a hot second - so talented. It took like, two hours maybe, and that’s because he took a break to smoke. I went low before we started and was in the 200s by the end, as I recall. Typical. (And no it didn’t hurt that bad. It’s like a stingy pump site, but for two full hours. Diabetics are tough.)

Every time I look at my tattoo (which isn’t often because it’s at a weird angle for me to see) it reminds me that something beautiful can come of a really dark day. When I think about the day I was diagnosed, I don’t have any happy memories. I don’t know many people who do. Getting this tattoo was my way of permanently saying that life moves on, and to be wicked cliché, "what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger."

So I have a tattoo about diabetes. Kind of. It’s the date I was diagnosed, with some swirly girly pretty doodles around it.

And I think it’s awesome.
Dia-Ink, by Abby

*   *   *
I agree, Abby.  Anyone else out there sporting dia-ink?

June 22, 2011

The One About Not Getting It RIght On the First Try.

Chug, chug, chug!!So last night's basal adjustments were a bit ... eh. 

Actually, they totally sucked it up.

I went to bed at 140 mg/dl, knowing that a low might be lurking due to the basal tweaks, but the Dexcom was flatlined, so I felt reasonably comfortable.  At my 2:30 am check, I was 108 mg/dl, and again saw the flatline on that graph.

So when I woke up to the Dexcom BEEEEEEEEP!ing at me and my head almost sunk into the sweaty pillow, I wasn't pleased.  Honestly, I was frozen there a bit, trying to communicate with my hand to force it to reach up and wipe the sweat from my forehead.

"Chris."  The ceiling fan was whirring, but he woke with a start at the sound of my voice.  He reached over and touched my forehead, almost like he knew exactly what was going on.

"You're sweaty," he said, already getting up from bed.

"I need juice."  Conserving my movements to hang on to as much glucose as I could.

He was already in the kitchen and coming back with a glass of grape juice before I realized I was holding my breath.  

Nothing tastes more desperate than that feeling of grape juice hitting my still-sleepy mouth.  I worry briefly about the sheets I had taken out of the dryer earlier in the day, knowing I was probably staining them purple with every clumsy sip.

Chris reached over and took the Dexcom receiver from my side of the bed.  "I didn't hear this go off."

"I did."

"I need to hear it, too."  He put the receiver between us and rubbed my shoulders, the empty juice glass safely on the bedside table.

It took almost fifteen minutes for me to be able to function in any way.  By the time I actually tested my blood sugar, I was 71 mg/dl.  I don't want to think about how low I was at the outset.  I was able to walk into the bathroom and brush my teeth.  Catching a look at myself in the mirror, I looked like I had been dragged through hell.

Back in bed, I turned my pillow over to the sweat-free side.

"Baby.  You know how I said that the sweating symptom disappeared?"


"It's back."

Basals have been tweaked to reflect a lower range.  Here's hoping tonight is an easier night's rest.

June 21, 2011

Adjusting Overnight Basals.

Hoping I hit a balance as lovely and even as depicted in this here clip art from 1994.I do not enjoy basal testing.  Even though I sometimes go six hour clips without having a snack (thanks, Birdy and your busy ways), something about knowing I can't eat or exercise makes me want to do a 5K while simultaneously chomping down on some soft serve.

But when I noticed that I was going to bed at a completely normal blood sugar, but waking up in the 180 - 220 mg/dl range for three days in a row, I knew I needed to do some basal tweaking.  

Making adjustments to my overnight basal rates always skeeves me out.  I'm a very deep sleeper (as evidenced by the fact that Siah prowling around on the bed all night doesn't wake me in the slightest, but makes Chris say "We're sleeping with the door SHUT tonight," in the morning), and I have a very healthy fear of overnight low blood sugars.  My symptoms of a low on the overnights used to be this body-drenching sweat, but since the birth of my daughter, that symptom has all but disappeared.  Now, I don't have any symptoms at all.  Blood sugars of 60, 50, and lower don't even register until I prick my finger and go, "Oh.  I guess I'm low?"

So the idea of raising my basal rates, even though I'm doing it to make a preemptive strike against highs, makes me nervous.  Thankfully, I have my Dexcom, but I'm still a little on edge. 

This morning, I made some small adjustments to my complicated overnight basal (I have three very modest rates in an eight hour span, so each 0.01u counts), and tonight will begin the mad scientist experimentation that is diabetes.  I'll have to get up and test around 3 am, because while I trust the Dex to give me the gist of things, i want my meter to confirm I've made a good change.  Oh you, basal testing!  You want me to sleep even less than my kid does!

Even though I'm traveling for the rest of the week (and then again in two weeks - it's going to be a very busy month), I can't let these highs permeate my overnights.  Sometimes I feel like those precious hours of sleep are the only moments I'm securely in range (I do so love that Dexcom graph flatline of 108 mg/dl overnight ... or at least the flatlines I used to see, until a few days ago), and I want to return to that level of overnight control.

I do not enjoy basal testing, but I understand why it's important to nail these rates.  I just hope I got it right on the first try.  Because I need all the sleep I can get!

(Thank God for iced coffee.)

June 20, 2011

Guest Post: What is a Diabetes Superhero?

If you don't know Captain Glucose and Meter Boy, you are about to have your animated world rocked.  This dynamic duo, aka Bill Kirchenbauer (Captain Glucose) and Brad Slaight (Meter Boy), are tireless advocates for the diabetes online community. They rap.  They advocate for why glucose meters matter.  And today, they're premiering their new PSA here!

*   *   *

There are many important questions in the world today, like: Will there ever be peace in the Middle East? How will America pay off the deficit? What the heck is that thing on Donald Trump's head? We have no answers for any of those, but we can answer the question we are asked the most often: What is a diabetes superhero?
Years ago when we created the characters Captain Glucose and Meter Boy: The Diabetes Duo, we patterned them after iconic do-gooders like Batman and Robin, The Incredibles, and other non pancreas challenged comic book superheroes. We both have diabetes and being in the entertainment industry we felt that we could best contribute to diabetes awareness by using our creative talents. We came up with a TV pilot to star in but our agent said no one was interested in a sitcom about diabetes called "$#*! My Meter Says" so we decided to make a short humorous PSA (public service announcement) instead. We believe that basic diabetes information is more accessible if it's presented in an entertaining manner. At first we played the characters as live-action real people and we dressed up in handmade costumes, which really made our friends and family question our sanity. But we have since changed them to animated characters with special powers. We did this for two reasons: 1) animated characters have more of a visual impact, and 2) when you're a cartoon you never age or put on weight! 
Since first creating Captain Glucose and Meter Boy, we have come to realize that there already exists many real life diabetes superheroes. They can be found in the diabetes online community, or more acronymically appropriate, the D.O.C. They don't wear tights (good thing because those can really chafe) but they are on a similar mission to share their knowledge and help others. They are not in a lab looking for a way to cure "mouseabetes." These real life diabetes superheroes are at their computers spreading the word, writing blogs, supporting those in need, representing all of us at conferences, and fighting the good fight day in and day out. It is a long list of names that is growing faster than diabetes itself and they work tirelessly to help others without ever asking anything in return. Theses D-heroes are making a difference in the lives of many.
Dr. Seuss said in The Lorax, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." (He's good, but probably didn't write any stories about our disease because there aren't enough words that rhyme with diabetes.) His touching poetic line applies to the many people in the diabetes online community we've met who do care a whole awful lot. They are willing to share their knowledge, experience, successes, failures, hopes, fears, dreams, tears, laughter...and on occasion even something as effectively simple as a Diet Coke. Captain Glucose and Meter Boy's motto is "Be Your Own Personal Diabetes Superhero." These amazing  people help make that an achievable goal for everyone.
So now whenever someone asks us what a diabetes superhero is, we tell them to go to their P-C or M-A-C and log on to the D-O-C. That's where all the real diabetes superheroes hang out ...just don't expect them to be wearing costumes!
Here is our new animated diabetes PSA about fighting apathy. It introduces our newest team member Dee Dee (a.k.a. D-Girl). We are honored that Kerri, one of our favorite diabetes superheroes, is letting us "world premiere" it here on Six Until Me.

-- Bill Kirchenbauer (T2) and Brad Slaight (T1)

*   *   *

(If YouTube is on the fritz, you can also check out the video on the duo's website.)  Thanks for helping to raise awareness and defeat apathy, guys!!!  

June 17, 2011



Oh you. You are into everything.  I can't childproof this house enough for your fast little fingers.  Screen door?  Let's try and put our faces through it, okay?  Mulch in the garden?  I know - it tastes delicious!  Dexcom receiver?  Your favorite thing to HIDE!  Toy box?  You want to see what's at the bottom!  Yay!!!  YAY!!!!!

By the time you go to bed at night, my whole body feels like it's been put through that Playdough spaghetti factory.  Thank GOD you sleep through the night and have been for almost a year now.  (Yes, I'm going to say it out loud now, even though my pediatrician said not to whisper a word of it when you were two months old and sleeping through.  Whatever.  You're Super Sleeper!)  I love, love, love you but I have to admit that you wear me right out. 

It's been a bit of a tough month because your teeth have doubled in number.  For the longest time, you only had those two little teeth on the bottom, making you look like an upside down rabbit.  But in the last eight days, four of your top teeth busted through.  This makes for a few tough (screaming) nights, some Santa Claus-red cheeks, and one very cute smile.

You are trying really hard to feed yourself independently now.  Thanks to your mother's poor hairstyling skills (those pigtails are desperate, and secured by clips instead of elastics, making them like rabbit ears to go with your rabbit teeth), your hair is at least out of your face while you eat.  But you haven't quite mastered the concept of "fork" and "spoon" yet.  I arm you with several utensils at once, but you just wield them like a plastic scepter and use your other hand to grab your scrambled eggs.  (Or "eggies," as I have taken to calling them.)

Fourteen months of the Birdzone

You had your first nibble of gluten last week (a little bite of bread from the restaurant table) and while I know it's okay to introduce these things slowly and with good nutrition and good health in mind, I will admit that I teared up.  I know it's ridiculous to have superstitions about anything related to my diabetes, but somehow I felt a little scared.  I can't let this Thought dominate my mind, and it's now banished to the back of my mind.  Where it belongs.  In a cage.  Without a key.

But all those serious thoughts aside, it's been a busy little bird month for you.  You've cut teeth.  You give kisses and hugs when they're requested.  You said your first, excited sentence:  "HI KITTY!!!"  (All caps necessary to convey your excitement at seeing THE KITTY!!!)  And - oh yeah - you helped me earn my mommy stripes one again when you pooped in the bathtub.  Two days in a row.  Causing both of us to furrow our brows in distress.  (Note to BSparl:  Thanks for not playing with those new, floating brown pool toys.  Also, you are a gross little bird.)  I am looking forward to potty-training.  ;)

Motherhood isn't easy.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.  And I think you are the best little friend I've EVER had.

You're my big birdy, and I love you.

Love always,

June 16, 2011

Destructo Kerri.

I need a suit made out of this.When Chris and I first started dating, I had him fooled.  Because I was able to maneuver in high heels and I hadn't yet fallen in front of him (just for him ... aww?), he didn't have any reason to think I was a clumsy fool.  But I remember the moment, after we had been dating for a few months and I had just fumbled my keys four times while trying to unlock the car, when he said, "Baby, I believe you now.  Maybe you aren't graceful?"

Grace isn't my middle name.  (My middle name is Morrone. Maiden name for the win!)  Graceful isn't ever a word anyone who knows me would use to describe me.  And this last week has proven precisely why.

In the last seven days, I have become Destructo Kerri. To recap:

  • I somehow ruined my phone's ability to send emails, and then smashed the replacement phone very thoroughly against the kitchen floor. Now I can answer phone calls, but can't end them.  Makes for creative conference calling.
  • I ruined two different gel cases for my Dexcom receiver; one destroyed with the help of BSparl, who thought Dexcom receivers were for teething, and the other case got caught on my engagement ring and tore.  (Diamonds might be a girl's best friend, but they are a gel case's worst enemy.) 
  • I accidentally smashed my backup One Touch Mini meter when it got caught in the bathroom closet door.  Little shards of hot pink plastic are everywhere now.  And the meter is obliterated.
  • I cut my thumb when trying to take the skin off a mango and didn't realize it until the fruit was red with blood.  At that point, I was totally grossed out at the zombie mango that I had to throw it out.
  • I'd like to think it's not my fault that the FedEx truck backed into (a non-essential, but still needs to be fixed) part of my house, but I bet my klutziness influenced the event, somehow.  I mean, when you're brushing your teeth and you hear this massive BANG! and the whole house shimmies, that's not a good sign.
  • My pump almost ended up dragged down 95 South when I left an appointment.  Thankfully, I noticed that the pump wasn't in my pocket when I went to put the car in reverse.  And also thankfully, the tubing didn't sever when I slammed it in the door.  (Pumps are durable little suckers!)
  • I accidentally tested the lower pad of my finger (where the second knuckle is, instead of your standard "finger tip") when I sneezed while deploying the lancet.  Seriously - who does that?
  • And I came pretty darn close to dropping the baby monitor into the garden watering can.  Don't even ask - I can't pretend to know how I did that, either.
Being clumsy is dangerous.  And expensive (read: replacing yet another cell phone).  And awkward as eff.  At teh suggestion of Briley, I'm planning to wrap myself in bubble wrap and hide out until the weekend.  ;)

June 15, 2011

You Can Do THIS: My Video.

When you're dealing with something relentless each day,
It can feel like frustrations are seconds away.
There's the burnout, depression of chronic disease
The chaos that comes with attempts to appease.

We do blood sugar testing, precision carb counting,
We're wearing devices to aid in surmounting
The pressure of acting as panceri stand-ins.
This whole diabetes can sure be demanding!

We lean on our doctors, we lean on our friends,
We lean on our families and try to no end
To master this monster known as diabetes.
We try, and we stumble, but get back on our feeties.

Because we can do this!  I know that we can!
We can master this monster! We can draft up a plan!
Or just fumble days we're unsure how to weather.
The point is, we're in this, and in this together.

You can do this!  You can.  If I can, so can you.
I'm the last diabetic who knows what to do.
I try hard to succeed in managing this whole mess.
I am so far from perfect, but I do my best.

If you have diabetes, you are not alone.
You're part of a group that has blossomed and grown.
We're all living with this. We hold on to each other.
We'll get through today and move on to another.

You can do this.  I swear.  Even days that are tough
Come with moments that prove how you can be tough.
There's a life to be lived, one that I wouldn't miss.
So hold your head high.  You can do THIS.

June 14, 2011

Joslin Medalists: How Far We've Come, and How Far We Can Go.

During the Joslin medalist meeting last week, I didn't say anything.  I wasn't presenting or doing any kind of networking.  I was invited as "media" (totally in quotes) but I attended as a grown-up child with diabetes, hoping to continue on that path of growing up. 

I sat next to a woman named Eleanor (my beloved grandmother's name) and she had been living with type 1 for 58 years.  She asked to see pictures of my daughter.  She offered me a cough drop after I spent a few minutes trying to clear my throat, and she stuck her hand out to take the wrapper, spying my pump tubing jutting out from my pocket.  "I don't wear a pump," she said.  "I do just fine with my needles.  And you appear to be doing just fine with your pump.  Do you need another cough drop?"  I almost hugged her. 

As Dr. George King, director of research at the Joslin Clinic, gave his opening remarks, quotes from the medalists were flashing up on the screen behind him.  "I have learned to understand that perfection is not possible."  "Tomorrow is another chance to do better."  "Say YES to every opportunity."  

These people were incredible because of what they've accomplished with type 1 diabetes.  Hilary Keenan, PhD and pat of the Joslin biostatistics team, stunned me with the stats on this group.  Their average A1C is 7.3%, with an average diagnosis age of 11 years old.  Their average age is 70.  The average duration of their diabetes is 59 years.  The most common ages for their type 1 diagnosis are age 6 and age 12. And this group of medalists have a very low rate of proliferative retinopathy and kidney disease. 

The amazing Joslin medalists (and some of the Joslin team)
Photo credit to the Joslin team

I sat in this room, listening intently, and thinking about my own life.  I've had diabetes for 24 years.  Long enough to appreciate where I've come from and what I've accomplished, and yet still a "rookie" in the eyes of these medalists. 

Not only are they brilliantly healthy, despite their diabetes, but they're also insightful and wise in that way that only decades of life can bring.  They stood up, one at a time, and introduced themselves to the group.  Their stories made me laugh out loud (like when the lady was talking about her CGM and her pump, and then someone's phone rang and she stopped to ask, "What kind of meter is that?" and the other woman answered, "It's a phone?"), made me grateful, and made me cry openly in this room of strangers.

"Eliot Joslin was my first endocrinologist.  He wore a charcoal gray suit and a crisp white shirt.  And the first time I met with him I said, 'Oh my God, he's an undertaker!'"

"Diabetes has given me so many opportunities.  I had a chance to spend time with Bret Michaels."  Pause.  "But I didn't know who he was.  Now I do, though!"

"I have seen many doctors retire.  I don't have that option, so I keep finding new doctors."

One man talked about the party he threw for himself when he reached 63 years with type 1, as part of his 70th birthday party. "I handed out certificates to the people who helped me get here.  And I had one for Eliot Joslin that said, 'Helped to keep me alive, despite myself.'"

"We do our best.  And to God trust the balance."

"I was diagnosed when I was one.  My doctors told my parents I would die in my early 20's.  My parents didn't tell me this until I was, oh, well into my 50's."

"I'm here today, really, because of my wife," said a man with shaking hands.  

"Today, I brought with me my beautiful daughter.  Her name is Joslin. I named her for this wonderful place."

Me and my fellow Clara Barton Camp alumni, Jane.  YOU ROCK, JANE!!!
Photo credit to the Joslin team.  They also get credit for taking care of me and my friend here.  :)

But one man broke my heart entirely when he quietly stood up and addressed the group of his peers, his fellow PWDs with more than 50 years under their belt.  "One year, I asked the woman behind the counter how many of us there were.  How many medalists?  And she said that out of the million and a half type 1 diabetics, only about 1000 survive 50 years.  And it wasn't until I was driving home that I realized what we're up against."  He paused and put his hand to his collar, absently touching the ribbon on his medal.  "And that is when I cried."

This whole experience was so inspiring, so humbling, and made me so aware of what diabetes has the potential to affect in my life.  I was born decades after these people were diagnosed, so I know things have changed for the better, as far as treatment options.  I know the outcome for people living with type 1 diabetes has improved by leaps and bounds.  This group of medalists began their journey with glass syringes and twice-yearly finger sticks.  We are a new generation of people with diabetes, and hopefully a healthier one. 

In 25 years, I plan to celebrate my 50 years with diabetes.  I can do this.  We can do this. 

[To catch a video of the Joslin medalists telling their stories, check out this post.]

June 13, 2011

From Abby: My First TCOYD.

Over the weekend, the TCOYD conference team visited Albany, NY.  I was hoping to make it to this conference, but ended up all tangled in life stuff.  (Like a Sparling spiderweb.  Ew.  Spiders.)  Thankfully, Abby was nearby and able to spend the day checking out her first TCOYD event.  (And she got to meet up with the fabulous Karen and Caroline, and several other members of the DOC.)  Here's Abby's take on the conference.

*   *   *

This past Saturday, I attended my first Taking Control of You Diabetes conference in Albany, NY.  It was really amazing, and I'm going to try and recap it in one blog post.  Which is going to be a challenge, but I'm feeling pretty motivated after seeing Dr. Edelman and Dr. Polonsky both speak as part of the conference.  AND I have pictures.  Let's get started!

The recurring theme that was pointed out by Dr. William Polonsky was that there isn’t anyone who doesn’t want to live a long, healthy life. As the day went on, I kept thinking about this and it really resonated with me. No matter how frustrated we get with diabetes, or our doctors, or our diabetes-police support groups … we all want to live a long and healthy life. This lead to the theme that Dr. Steven Edelman repeated;  being educated about how to take care of yourself isn’t enough – we need to be “activated,” or motivated to take action in our own health.

The morning session presented by Dr. Polonsky was called “Balancing the Emotional Highs and Lows of Diabetes.”  I cannot express how refreshing it was to hear a medical professional stand in front of a room full of people and tell us that if we feel sad, defeated, angry, hopeless, and tired because of our disease, we are in the majority and that is normal.  82% of people with diabetes worry about complications.  (My guess would be that the other 18% are under the age of 6 and don’t know what complications are.) I worry about complications every day. Every blood glucose reading I get over 200 mg/dl, I have this lightning-fast thought of “Ugh, I hope my eyes/kidneys/toes/heart/you name it are ok right now.” 

Dr. Polonsky offered up a lot of insight that struck a nerve with me. “We have too many labor saving devices that make it easy to be sedentary – it’s easy for us to be inactive.”  He mentioned this as he was explaining that it’s easy to make excuses not to exercise, but not in a way that assigned blame.  He also said that “having unrealistic goals sets you up to feel like a failure.” We should make goals that are small, and attainable, and don’t require a totally lifestyle change in one day. After reading Kerri’s post re: the goal bingo card, I’ve been really trying to set attainable goals for myself and it totally works! I used to be one of those “Will run a 5k in 3 months or else” kind of goal setters, and that does NOT work.  I left that session feeling like my sometimes passive approach at diabetes is not only normal, but expected and fixable. 

The DOC crew at TCOYD in Albany, NY.  Phew, that's a very technical alt text for ya.
The DOC, representing at TCOYD.  Holy initials!

There were a few moments during some of the sessions that left me more than disappointed. One doctor told us that no matter what our cholesterol levels or blood pressure, if you have diabetes you should be on a cholesterol lowering med, and a blood pressure medication, to fight off any future issues. I can’t even describe how angry I was with this. I understand the theory behind prophylactic medicine, but that’s just overboard. Rawr. There were also two Physician Assistants who were giving a talk titled “The Latest on Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring Devices”.  Their slides were outdated and had inaccurate information, and they kept calling the receiver of a CGM a “transmitter.”  Frustrating.  In plenty of cases, there was a need for some clarification.  And we, as members of the DOC, were happy to help clarify.  Education is key, and attendees weren’t the only ones who needed some info refreshers.

But speaking of needing a little education, I attended the session on health care reform to help school myself.  I just graduated from college for good, and so health insurance is a big deal to me right now. (Not only that, but I want to be a diabetes educator and so I like to learn about all aspects of diabetes, not just the medical stuff.)  Kriss Halpern, JD lead this session. I have to be honest - most of it went right over my head.  I never have and probably never will understand law, politics, insurance companies, or Japanese.  But what I did manage to catch were the main points of Halpern’s discussions.  Here’s my takeaway: 
  1. Dependent children are guaranteed coverage through their parents until age 26. This is the one that most directly affects me, and I have to tell you that I know from experience this is misleading.  Medical insurance is extended. Dental, vision, and prescription aren’t necessarily included.  This means that my dentist appointment last week was my last until I get my own insurance. It also means that my eye doctor appointments are covered, but only because they are considered medical necessity because I have diabetes, and I have to pay for my own glasses/contacts from now on. (Mind you, this is through my personal insurance, I’m sure the coverages vary from person to person.) 
  2. There are state and federal laws that evaluate insurance rate increases. This means that they can’t just raise rates because they want to.  Nice to see that kind of check-balance in place for once.
  3. The medical loss ratio. There is a percentage of money that is required by insurance companies to be spent on medical things. So for large group insurances they have to spend at least 85% of their money on medical, and not on salary, advertising, etc. This seems cool to me, but it might have been this way forever? Like I said, I do not speak Legalese.
  4. Annual limits will be $0 by 2014, and lifetime limits are banned.  This has something to do with the amount of money people are capped at paying out of pocket, I think.   Anyone able to clarify this one? 
Not all of this made perfect sense to me, and I now know that I have a lot of research to do, and a lot of questions to ask. This stuff directly changes my life, and my bank account. I need to be informed.  And sessions like Halpern’s help me know where to start.

The TCOYD team encouraged support groups, taking small steps to better your lifestyle, and most importantly, that we are not alone in this.  And that’s such a huge part of LIFE management, not just diabetes management.  Thanks to TCOYD for providing such an inspiring event!

*   *   *
Thanks for attending this event, Abby!  And to check out coverage from last year's TCOYD conference in good ol' Rhode Island, you can read this post and this one.  :)

June 10, 2011

Guest Post: Why I MDI.

Yesterday I wrote about a diabetes technology piece that works in my life.  But wearing a device - two or three devices, some of us - isn't for everyone.  Diabetes management varies like New England weather (hello, 95 yesterday and 68 today).  Today's guest post comes from Erin O'Neil, who eloquently shares her tale of why she went from pumping to injections.

*   *   *

Thank you to the lovely Erin for sharing her words on SUM today!“Ohhh no no no no no! Ohhhh my goodness, oh my goodness. You have GOT to be kidding me!”

These are words of panic I had hoped not to have to utter on my trip to Thailand.

After four years of staying close to home for university, my best friend and I had decided to get a little crazy and head overseas for an adventure.

When I uttered those words, I was in a state of true panic, in a small town on the edge of Khao Yai National Park, 200km north-east of Bangkok and way way way into the mountains. In other words, I was a long way from home.

My pump had broken.

I know it was the heat. For most of the week since we had arrived, the weather had been downright sticky, and I’m pretty sure that Animas doesn’t expect that many of their insulin pumps will need to withstand constant 40o temperatures (well over 100o, for you Americans).

Luckily (thanks, Mom), I had brought a back-up system. It was back to the insulin pen system of multiple daily injections (MDI). I vividly remember sitting on my cot in partial darkness, listening to the sounds of a million insects in the muggy heat, sleep deprived and achingly tired from a day of train travel (think ‘rickety’ rather than ‘luxury’).

My brain isn’t working properly and I’m already riding a serious wave of high blood sugar. And now I have to remember how on earth to go about calculating a short-acting/long-acting insulin ratio.

Somehow, I managed. With the help of a good friend and a good bowl of something delicious (and a refreshing Singha to calm my nerves), I began to feel normal again.

And before I knew it, the rest of the trip had passed without incident and I was home again, safe and sound.
“Well,” said my parents, “let’s get you a replacement pump.”

It was covered under warranty, no additional cost to us. It would have been simple to do the exchange and be up and running and bolusing in no time.

But I hesitated. The last two weeks of vacation in Thailand had be wonderful not only because I was doing nothing but eating good food and laying on the beach, but also because I hadn’t once worried about that little machine.

This was more than two years ago now, and I’ve continued using MDI (multiple daily injection). I know that my control could be better – whose couldn’t – but for this time in my life, MDI works for me. When my pump broke on that frightening night in Thailand, I was heading into my fifth year of pumping.

I had forgotten how delicious it is to be unattached, to be able to wear an outfit without worrying where to hide the pump. To be completely and utterly naked.

Diabetes has already stolen a handful of freedoms from me. For now, I’m not willing to give up anything more than I have to.

*   *   *

Thank you for your post, Erin!!  Erin works in public relations and communications in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since the age of 14. You can read her blog at Oh Erin and follow her tweets at @oerinoerin.

June 09, 2011

Need vs. Want.

When I was planning my pregnancy, I wanted a Dexcom because I desperately wanted to bring down my A1C without crashing and burning into a pile of low blood sugars.  But when I was pregnant and dealing with the epic lows of my first trimester (hello, 29 mg/dl without symptoms), I needed my CGM.

Sometimes the Dexcom is not on-target.  If I am hyper-calibrating and feeding it too much information, I run into false-highs when I exercise and numbers that range a little more elevated than they actually are.  (That's running on the assumption that my meter is accurate all the time, which I know it's not.  And I take serious issue with that, but that topic is for another blog post.  A really long blog post with expletives, I think.)  Other times, the Dex is off for no reason at all.  But the number of ??? I see on my receiver are (thankfully) very, very rare, and I also don't experience a lot of sensor errors.  

When it's wrong, I get all huffy and pissed and I rant to my social media friends (aka the poor souls who are forced to Tweet alongside me), but it's always easier to complain about the bad stuff.  Who spends time talking about how wonderful their technology other is?  Nah, much easier to just gripe when they're being doofuses.  (Spellcheck doesn't like that word.  Doofusi? Doofusees?)   

But the other day, our stereo system went off at 5 am for absolutely no reason, pumping the sound of Aqualung into every speaker in the house.  Thus waking me up.  And Chris.  And the baby.  (Remember - this is at 5 am.  Fun!)  And of course BSparl wanted to stay up and play once she saw her mommy stumbling in with crazy bedhead.  So when her nap time rolled around, I decided to take one, too.  Chris was out working, so the house was peaceful and quiet.

And it wasn't until I woke up, groggily, to the sound of Birdy calling for "Mama!!!" into the baby monitor that I realized I was low.  But I didn't feel super low, just sort of crabby.  I figured I was in the 60's, but a quick finger prick proved me very wrong.  Meter showed 37 mg/dl.  I grabbed a fistful of glucose tabs from the jar on the bedside table and chomped them down, thinking absently about needing to weed the garden and thankful that the baby was playing instead of crying. 

Oh, and where the eff were my low blood sugar symptoms??

The Dexcom receiver and transmitter were sitting on my bathroom counter, waiting patiently for me to put a new sensor in, since the old one had peeled off that morning.

It would have woken me up when I was 60 mg/dl, instead of me waiting for the 30's.  It would have alerted me well in advance.  When it shows me double-arrows pointing up after what I thought was a reasonably low-carb snack and lets me catch a high-in-training, I am thankful for the Dexcom.  And when it beeps in the middle of the night to let me know I'm out of range, gives me the opportunity to correct it, and allows me to sleep in blissful blood sugar HappyZone, I am thankful. 

When I spoke with the Joslin medalists, they all mentioned hypoglycemic events.  And how scary they were.  They feared the lows more than the highs, because of the immediacy.  You can live for years with highs, but you can be stolen instantly by a low.  A few of the medalists were wearing CGMs.  And they all mentioned how amazing the technology, regardless of the brand, has become.

I thought about the 37 mg/dl I had while I was asleep.  

And in those moments, I realize I need my CGM. 

I love this picture. I want to tattoo it on my pancreas.

[Dexcom disclosure]

June 08, 2011

Bullet the Blue Sky.

What fun are random links if I can't share them with you guys?  These sites have been emailed to me, Facebook'd (what a crap verb), and Tweeted.  And now I'm channeling Bono (and wishing I had picked him up when he was hitchhiking in Vancouver) and bulleting the blue sky:

  • The International Diabetes Federation is making a video compilation in time for World Diabetes Day, and they're getting a jump on things by starting now.  They are looking for videos on "how you act on diabetes," which makes me want to participate in a round with Kabuki Doug, but I'm excited to see how this plays out.
  • And you can't mention video in this community without calling back to the You Can Do This Project.  Have you signed up?  Have you recorded your video?  No better day than today!
  • Unrelated to anything diabetes, my mother and I spent over an hour trying to assemble this shiny little nightmare - the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.  The instructions are written in Japanese (truly - we never found the English translation) and you have to beat on this thing with a hammer numerous times before it somehow slides into place.  Thankfully, BSparl woke up this morning to find the car in our living room and she was ecstatic.  
  • There's a chat on Thursday night over at the ChronicBabe community, talking about being "real people sick."  To join in, you'll need to be a ChronicBabe member, and be sure to sign in at 9 pm Eastern Time over in the chat room.
  • Stuff Sick people Have to Put Up With:  A Tumblr dedicated to being "your window into a world of bureaucratic, patronizing bullshit."  Pretty direct, that.  (And I do love the guy with the pennies.)
  • F*$k Yeah Diabetic Cat:  Can't quite figure out what's going on with this one, but that Wilford Brimley cat cracks me up.  He looks so curmudgeoned and in sore need of a hairdo update. 
  • And lastly, if you'd like to dance with BSparl and I in the morning, we usually rock this song after she gets up from her morning nap.
End random links!  Onward to surviving this 90 degree weather and trying to stay cool.  (And yes, I just saw that tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter.  OMGWTFBBQ!)

June 07, 2011

Novolog Cake Pops = Amazing.

You know when you're skimming through the newsfeed on Facebook, and something totally grabs your face and says "LOOK AT ME I AM THE AWESOME?"

Yes, that's precisely what happened when I stumbled upon Faye's photo of Novolog-inspired cake pops.  (You did read that correctly.  Here, look:)

We're gonna need a bigger bottle.
Photo - and cake pops - by Faye!

Faye has been living with type 1 since the age of 9, and for her 18th diaversary she wanted to make something special and bolus-worthy. Her current obsession has been cake pops (making them and feeding them to her non-d friends, even though I can safely say that some of her d-friends would happily go chompies on one), so when she saw the bright orange candy melts at her local AC Moore, a lightbulb went off - NovoLog cake pops! It was too funny (and ironic) to pass up. It's a celebration of living with diabetes for 18 years, and it's also a tribute to the diabetes community and a reminder to find the humor in our journey.

In addition to being a mad scientist in the kitchen, she is a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in the Philadelphia area.  You can check out here photography site here!

Awesome, Faye.  Thanks for sharing this.  Let me know when your photography/bakery is shipping to Rhode Island!  :)

June 06, 2011

Joslin Medalists.

I would love one of these one day.To be a Joslin Medalist, you need to mark 25, 50, or 75 years with diabetes.  (Well, technically, you get a certificate at the 25 year mark, but it's definitely a milestone to celebrate.)  And over the weekend, I had the opportunity to spend the day with Joslin's medalists who have spent over 50 years with type 1 diabetes. 

I was invited as a member of the "media," but it was a strange experience, being "one of them," but only halfway there.  ("You're a nice kid, but you're still a rookie in this crowd," one woman said, flashing her medal and her smile at the same time.)  These generous medalists allowed me to listen to their stories, and offered a few sage words of advice into my video camera.

(Best response that didn't end up on camera:  "That's a video recorder? I have glucose meters bigger than that!")

While I compile my notes, let this video suffice as evidence that we can do this.  And seeing living, breathing, laughing proof of that is an amazing thing.

June 03, 2011

From Abby: Vacation on Virginia Beach!

Abby was on vacation last week (and was missed - sorry for throttling your inbox!), and while she was on 'real vacation," she also took a pump vacation.  But diabetes wasn't playing according to plan, and she tells the story of how vacation wasn't all rainbows and ... you-know-whats.

*   *   *

So I graduated from nursing school, signed a lease on an apartment for the fall, and helped my mom pack up and move the house I grew up in … all in one week. I needed a vacation.  A good friend from College Round 1 and I had planned a trip to Virginia Beach about a month prior, and it came at the perfect time.  I just really wish I could have left diabetes in New York ...  I wouldn’t say that it ruined our vacation, or even really negatively impacted it, but diabetes made its presence known plenty of times.

I decided to go on Lantus and Humalog again, because I hate pump tan lines, I get eeked out that my insulin will go bad sitting on a hot beach in my pump all day, I’ve gotten some nasty pump site infections after being on a beach, and I didn’t want to have to disconnect and leave my pump under my towel when we decided to go in the water. I’ve done this plenty of times.  Lantus and I have gotten along really well in the past, but I guess we are no longer friends.  I have to say, I should’ve seen this coming. My basal rates vary from 0.60u per hour to 1.1u per hour, so that steady flow of Lantus just doesn’t work for me right now.  (Live and learn, I guess?)

The really cute middle of the night lows I had were fun. The first night at 3 am I was 36 mg/dL, and the next night around 2am I was 44mg/dL. That was cool. (Probably why I have a 0.6u basal rate from 12 am - 4 am … duh.)

We found this wicked cute restaurant across the street from our hotel that made these DELICIOUS drinks called “Orange Crush."  We went out one night after dinner and discovered these most wonderful concoctions, and that they were half off at happy hour – which meant we had to revisit.  That first night didn’t do much damage to the blood sugars (upper 200s with a 56mg/dL at 6 am).  It was the happy hour drinks that killed me. We also got some crab dip to go with our super sweet drinks, and I left my Humalog in the room (again, insulin on the beach seems bad to me) so by the time I got home I was 479mg/dL. This resulted in dinner at 9 pm when I was finally back in the low 200s and starving. I realize this was totally my fault, and that there were much smarter ways of having fun, but gosh darnit it’s frustrating to not be able to go to happy hour on vacation without a stupid blood sugar after.

And don’t forget about the pre-creamed and pre-sugared iced coffee that they conveniently have at 711 (which is on every single corner in Virginia Beach, yet not a Dunkin Donuts in sight).  Took one sip of that delicious liquid candy and had to pass it on to my friend while we set out on a hunt for some place that would hold the sugar for my pancreatic problems (McDonald’s to the rescue!).

Diabetes didn’t totally get in the way though.  We ate really sensibly (minus the one lunch out with a giant BBQ burger, and those two days of drinks) which helped things, and my sugars ran a bit high but I was okay with that.  (There’s nothing worse than a low on vacation on the beach while your hands are all sunscreeny and sandy.) I also made it out pump site tan-line free, and with only a few spotty sunburns. 

Lesson Learned: Practice with Lantus and Humalog for a few days next time, or bring pump for backup, or figure out a way to turn pancreas back on for a week.

*   *   *

Welcome back, Abby, and thanks for posting.  Also, HAPPY GRADUATION!!!!  We're very proud to have you as "one of the good ones" out there in the medical community. 

June 02, 2011

The Coveted Dexcom/Animas Hybrid.

Clearly, the United Kingdom has the edge on us this morning, because they're getting the Animas/Dexcom "hybrid" before we are. 

I received this press release in the wee hours of the morning today (Oddly enough, I was awake when it came in.  Blogger zombie mode.), and I am very excited to see when this technology will be available in the US.  Here are the details (and you can also read the full release).  From the release:

"Animas Corporation announced today the receipt of CE Mark approval for Animas® Vibe™, the first and only continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)-enabled insulin pump system with Dexcom G4™ CGM technology.  Animas® Vibe™ brings together the unique features of an Animas® insulin pump and the convenience of Dexcom CGM, which is the only sensor approved for up to seven days of wear.
As a CGM-enabled system, the Animas® Vibe™ insulin pump functions as a receiver for the Dexcom G4™ Sensor.  The system delivers real-time glucose information, alerts for high and low readings, and glucose trend information, enabling patients to make more informed decisions to help control their disease*. Unlike currently available CGM-enabled pump systems, Animas® Vibe™ displays glucose trends in colour [Editor's note:  Awww.  The "u" in color!] and is waterproof.**"
Animas Vibe with the Dexcom G4:  Want.

Two sites, one device?  I'm digging it.  According to the release, the Animas Vibe is offering the following features (all copy pulled from the release, including the extra u):

  • "The latest technology available from Dexcom – Dexcom G4™, a tiny, round and flexible sensor with the smallest introducer needle as compared to Abbott Freestyle Navigator® and Medtronic Sof-Sensor®
  • Advanced high-contrast colour pump screen technology, that displays glucose trends with coloured arrows and lines showing where and how fast glucose levels are shifting
  • Dexcom sensor technology approved for up to seven days of wear, delivering more days of CGM data than those approved for a shorter duration
  • Waterproof durability up to 12 feet (3.6 metres) for 24 hours for the insulin pump, with a Dexcom G4™ Transmitter that is waterproof at 8 feet (2.4 metres) for 24 hours
  • Customizable alarms to indicate high and low glucose levels including a hypo-safety alarm fixed at 55 mg/dL (3.1mmol/L)
  • Low basal increment (0.025 U/hr) across all available ranges (0.025 U/hr to 25.00 U/hr) for precise dosing
  • Compatibility with Diasend® communications software, enabling patients to store, review and print both CGM and insulin pump data"

As both an Animas and Dexcom user, I'm very excited for when this technology becomes available in the United States. I spoke with Caroline Pavis, Director of Global Communications at Animas, about the timeline, and she had this to say:  "Bringing Animas Vibe to the U.S. and Canada continues to be one of our highest priorities.  Our goal is to submit Animas Vibe for approval in these countries as quickly as possible.  We anticipate filing with the FDA and Health Canada in 2011."

Come on, FDA.  Let this one roll through quickly!!  I can't wait to give this a go!

June 01, 2011

You CAN Do This.

I have had a lot of moments in the last 24 years with type 1 diabetes where I wasn't sure if I could do this.  But I did.  And I can.  And I'm still going.  

You can do this.

I've had the honor of being part of a project put together by Kim Vlasnik over at Texting My Pancreas, where some member of the Diabetes Online Community have contributed their perspectives to a "You Can Do This" movement.  It's about support.  Empowerment.  The reality of life with diabetes, and how a little love can go a very long way. 

Watch this video and visit Kim's blog for details, and please consider adding your voice to this project.  It's a great way to show one another that we aren't alone, and that yes, we CAN do this.

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