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February 29, 2012

Constant Progress, However Small.

Paging Doctor Awesome ... Doctor Awesome?It has taken me a long time to find a new primary care doctor. For a good span of time, I was at the Joslin clinic preparing for pregnancy and then actually being pregnant, and in tandem with the pregnancy care team, I had a kick-ass doctor in Connecticut (where I was living at the time ... and yes, I was driving from Norwalk, CT to Boston, MA for endo appointments. Joslin is worth it, in my opinion. But that was when gas was $4.65 a gallon, so it was an expensive adventure in pancreas pandering.)

Over the last two years, I've seen a few different primary care doctors that are local to where I am now (in Rhode Island), but I hadn't found a good fit yet. Every patient is different and has different needs (same goes for docs), but I wanted a doctor who was at least familiar with type 1 diabetes care, even though I still see Joslin specifically for my diabetes care. I wanted to have a doctor who was comfortable discussing diabetes stuff, and who would be okay with shuttling information back and forth with my endo at Joslin. And I really, really hoped that their staff would be kind, because as a patient, the doctor's staff can make or break your desire to be seen by that practice.

Lastly, this person had to be a woman.  (Nothing wrong with doctors who are men, but I can't comfortably talk shop with a guy. I don't know why. I've always felt most comfortable with female practitioners.)  So with that "wish list" in place, it has taken me a few tries to find a good doc/patient fit.

But I think I found her. And she's awesome, because she threatened to 'break up with me' during the course of the first appointment.

As I mentioned last week, during my first appointment with her, she wanted to run the full gamut of labwork to 'establish the baseline."  But we reviewed my last few lab work ups (I brought the older results with me - I'm a creepily-fastidious paperwork person), and she, like me, wasn't happy to see the higher A1C values over the last six months.

"This isn't where you want to be. I can tell," she said, watching my face as we discussed my health history. "And I don't want your numbers here, either."

"Definitely not," I agreed, trying to look like an adult capable of making my own medical decisions, while sporting the awkward paper johnny. "I'm really unnerved by those A1Cs, and I'm working to bring it down. It just seems to be a really slow process for me. I don't know why. I've always had trouble with my A1C, even as a kid when my mom was fully in charge of things."

"Did they call you that old-school name? The 'brittle' kind of diabetes?" she asked.

"Yes! That word is written all over my old Joslin charts. Always made made me think about fancy tea cups. Or really weak fingernails."

"Exactly." She smiled, and closed my chart. "But the fact remains that your A1C is higher than it should be, considering all the complications that come as a result of maintaining that kind of number. You know the list - I'm not going to run through it for you. But we've discussed the things you're doing to make changes, and I think that's the right path.  I know the lows scare you."

"It's less the fear for me, personally, and more about dealing with them when I'm home alone with my daughter. I'd rather be 150 than 80, because I seem to drop so quickly."

"I understand that. I have a little one myself." She grinned at me. "They're fast, aren't they?"

She opened my chart again and reviewed one of the labwork slips. "So do you want to be my patient? Because I'm happy to take you on."

"Yes." (It felt strangely like a platonic date. I should have brought her flowers?)

"Great. The only condition I have is this: your diabetes is not in the control that you or I want it in. I know you see Joslin for your endo appointments, and that's fine, but I want to make sure that you're continuing to pursue tighter control. I like what you're doing to move forward, and I want you to stick with that. I don't expect you to have perfect results the next time we meet, but we need to have constant progress - however small - towards that goal that you have set and i agree with. Does that work for you? Because anything less than that doesn't work for me."

"More than you realize - yes."

She smiled. "Welcome to the practice, then! I'm happy to have you with us."

"Can I put my clothes back on?"

She laughed.  "Of course! I'm sorry - such a strange conversation to have in a paper johnny, I know."

Constant progress, even if the steps are very small? I love that. And understanding how freaking awkward it is to meet someone for the first time and then have serious health discussions while sporting a paper dressing gown?

Even better. 

February 28, 2012

A Week of Blood Sugar Logging.

Old timey (blood sugar?) loggers. For the first two or three days, I actually looked forward to logging my blood sugars on the Kevin spreadsheet. I'd take the meter out, queue up the spreadsheet (oddly gleeful about Excel, for the first time ... ever), and plug the numbers into the cells. It was Nerd Number Heaven, and I actually enjoyed it. Now, a week later, it's less novel, but I'm still doing it because I started noticing a few patterns.

And then I realized I was noticing all kinds of stuff.

Like the patterns of when I actually test my blood sugar.  On weekends, I don't test as often as I'd like. During the week now, I'm pricking my finger at least eight times a day (usually around 10), but on weekends, I'm barely clocking five. On Saturday and Sunday, there are these long gaps between my pre-breakfast test (not necessarily my fasting one - breakfast usually happens late on weekends) and the lunch test (meals tend to be awkwardly scheduled on the weekends).  I also noticed that weekday afternoons tend to be a little blank in the blood sugar testing department, so I've set an alarm on my phone to remind me to test at 3 pm, regardless of what I'm doing.

I also noticed that my blood sugars bump a little bit after every dinner meal - or at least every single one last week. I don't like to make changes after one or two days of a "maybe pattern," but after seeing a dinner post-prandial in the 190's for several days in a row, I remembered that a few months ago, when I was bolusing 20 minutes in advance for dinner (instead of five - ten minutes prior), I didn't see those highs. So this week, I'm pre-bolusing for dinner a little earlier, and hopefully seeing better numbers later in the evening. (And if that doesn't work, I'll probably tweak my insulin:carb ratio for dinner, as that's always been a problem meal for me to nail down.)

Overall, I'm seeing evidence of why my A1C is higher than I'd like:  I see a lot of 140s and 150s. A lot. They're the most common numbers I see, aside from fasting blood sugars. And I'm hesitant to correct them a lot of the time because I am uneasy about hitting 40s and 50s. (Double-checking my insulin sensitivity factor is also on my "to do" list, because it's shifted a lot since I was pregnant, and I think I have it set higher than it should be.) But these 140s and 150s are replacing the higher 190s and the 200s I saw a few months ago, so I'm happy to see that things are dropping, if not yet where I'm aiming for. (They'll get there.)

There are things I'm glad I noticed, though.  I did notice that my schedule during the week is pretty consistent, and a more consistent day produces better (or at least a smidge more predictable) results for me. Since I wake up with Birdy most mornings, my fasting blood sugar times are between the same 30 minute window every day (7 - 7:30 am), and those numbers are all in a range I'm happy with. And I also noticed that my Dexcom graphs are steady through the overnights, which makes me feel confident in the basal profile I have set to roll in the evening. 

What I'm noticing most is that I'm noticing. Logging blood sugars helps me pay more attention to the whole mess. My endocrinologist tells me - often - that logging blood sugars is important for noting trends, and it also helps her get a feel for how things are going on a day-to-day basis in my diabetes. I want to be a "good logger," but I've historically been a terrible one. However, my endo is right, and I'm working to try new(ish) things (aside from the "chocolate shake cure for diabetes" that ended up in my email inbox AGAIN this morning - that spammer has the most magical timing) to lower my A1C while keeping the extreme low blood sugars out of the rotation ... including finally keeping a decent logbook for the first time since the Bird was born.

One person with diabetes can do exactly the same thing as another person with diabetes, and the results may vary wildly. There isn't a perfect system to management, and diabetes is a needy little monster. But ignoring it and apathy aren't options I'm willing to entertain, and I'm confident that these efforts will pay off. I need to continue to solve for why, and to continue to move forward.

(Isn't there a thing ... like an Internet thing out there that says You (we!) Can Do ThisSmile Yup.)

February 27, 2012

CWD: Focus on Technology.

Over the weekend, I was in Conshohocken, PA with 100 or so of my fellow PWDs (people with diabetes) and their caregivers, getting a bit of a refresher on some diabetes technology bits. As an insulin pumper, a CGM'er (is that properly conjugated?), and still teetering on the edge of a serious bout with diabetes burnout, an informative conference with fellow synthetic insulin junkies was exactly what I needed.

Honored to have met Dr. Anhalt

One of the presentations that resonated most for me was from Dr. Henry Anhalt, Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director of the Artificial Pancreas Program for Animas Corporation. The guy is smart, and he spoke about the progress towards an artificial pancreas (or, as I kept hearing in my head, an "art panc," which made me picture a finger-painted, paper-mache pancreas), but he was accessible. Dr. Anhalt knew that the people in the room wanted to hear about the project, but not from some guy who spouted off empty promises about "five to ten years" and who wasn't in touch with the real patients in the real world. 

He talked about the frustration of managing diabetes. "Is there any other condition that's as challenging to manage as type 1 diabetes?" he asked the audience, and almost every head shook in a "nope" of agreement. "If your kids aren't making 'target,' it's not because you failed." And I watched one mom wipe her eyes with her sleeve, clearly needing to hear those words.

"Imagine failing at something you really, really wanted to do. Then imagine how it feels to fail at something you never wanted to do in the first place," Dr. Anhalt said, and a breeze swept through the room from the force of the nodding.

"The artificial pancreas will not keep you at 100 mg/dL all day long. There will be blood sugar excursions, but the result will be a lower overall A1C." And for me, hearing those words, meant a real A1C that's lower, not one that is the average of highs and lows. I am working hard to have a proper A1C that shows real stability, and I have high hopes that something like the artificial pancreas, or other stabilizing technologies, can help more people with diabetes achieve that goal. Short of a biological cure that gets my body making and maintaining its own insulin levels, I'll take whatever helps me continue to live a healthy life.

Overall, the conference was crammed with solid diabetes tech information, and each presenter made their concepts accessible. (More on other presentations later in the week, once I can unearth all of my notes.)  But in addition to the conference sessions, there were also some moments of down-time with my fellow PWDs, which can be just as important (maybe more so) than the information at the sessions. (Also, the Philly area has one of the best crews of local PWDs ever. It has to be said.)

Ladies who don't make their own insulin but who managed to color coordinate nonetheless

It's not easy being green ... unless you're at a CWD conference.
It's easiest being (a) green (bracelet) there.

"The diabetic who knows the most, lives the longest."  So claimed Elliot P. Joslin. Well, if that guy is right, attending conferences like the Children with Diabetes "Focus on Technology" weekend will hopefully tack a few years onto my life.  ;)

[Disclosure:  I have a sponsorship agreement with Animas, and they paid my travel, lodging, and expenses for this conference.  Full details on my relationship with Animas here. And this is a shird.]

February 24, 2012

The Friday Six: Spaceshot Edition.

The Friday Six: February 24, 2012 edition. Also, it snowed?I'm all sorts of spaceshot, and headed to Philadelphia for the weekend (technically to Conshohocken, PA, where the Children With Diabetes Focus on Technology weekend is taking place), but I had some bits and pieces I wanted to share before bailing. What better way than a loooooong overdue Friday Six?

1.  My daughter is exercising her right to just say "NO!" (or, in her case, "No, no, no!"), and as a little extra added chaos, Chris decided to teach her to do the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag. It cracks me up because Birdy starts going all "No, no!!" and wagging her finger, and then he wags his, and the two of them almost fall over from Mutombo'ing. Is this normal?

2.  I wanted to share the new clip from Chris's upcoming film, ATM. Click here to check out the teaser clip, and know that I sleep with one eye open and have trained the Dexcom to alarm for low and high blood sugars, and also when Chris is writing something involving "it could happen to any of us" chaos ... so all the time? (And you can check out a little Chris-on-Chris discussion in a coming soon edition of Just Talking.)

3. In other "family" news, I love, love this post from George at Ninjabetic. Replacing a chair with an exercise bike is an awesome way to inspire a little fitness while checking out your favorite shows? He's making the switch for Lent, and I think it's a badass way to spend 40 days.

4. After a #dsma discussion this week with some friends from the DOC, I ended up waaaaaay down the rabbit hole on YouTube, catching one of my favorite Sesame Street clips of all time. The "yip yip" martians are awesome, but if you're not careful with said rabbit hole, you may end up stumbling upon one-eyed versions of Ernie and Bert taking street drugs. (Don't blame me - I voted for Kodos. Also, it was late at night.) 

5. Cupcakes from a box sometimes come out alright. (Even though I didn't try one for several days - I was making an attempt at willpower, and I didn't want to have to log a "cupcake entry" on my Kevin spreadsheet. Didn't stop Birdy from chomping one down, and throwing the Mutombo finger when I told her she couldn't have another one.)

Birds love cupcakes.

6. And this is not my fault. I just think he's hot - is that a crime??! Don't judge.

Happy weekend'ing!

February 23, 2012

From Abby: Scared.

No intro needed on this one.  Abby shares her thoughts on diabetes, dating, and disclosure.

*   *   *

This weekend as I was working through some of Kerri's "Generation D" columns on dLife, and reading a few here and there while watching a Whitney Houston Marathon on Lifetime (judge me all you want, folks), there was one post that literally made me stop what I was doing and say, "Hmph, I think it's time I talked about this."

I am so afraid of being silently discriminated against because I have diabetes. So afraid, and I don't talk about it with anyone.

Luckily the field of work that I've chosen saw my dead beta cells as a resume booster, and my family is full of medical professionals, so they accept me. I also have some really great best friends (one of whom also has type 1 diabetes) who embrace the awkwardness of my pump tubing and the test strip trail. But boyfriends? This is where my anxiety lies.

I don't really feel comfortable talking about my dating life online - just not at that point in internet comfort yet. But I think there's an aspect of it that needs to be talked about more ... namely, that fear that I will meet someone and when they find out my body is dysfunctional, they will delete my phone number.

If you don't have diabetes, or a some chronic illness, you might think this sounds crazy. Heck, even if you DO have a dead organ, you might think this is ridiculous. However, I think it's fair to say, that there are a lot of us out here living in the dating world who are scared to death that Prince or Princess Charming will have a phobia of needles.

As strong as I am in other areas of my life, I will never feel 100% confident with anything that I do because diabetes looms in the back of my mind. Diabetes effects everything that I do, everywhere I go, and everyone I encounter. This can be extremely intimidating, and I'm not sure I could blame a guy for running at mach 3 in the opposite direction of my glucose tabs. That is what scares the c-peptide out of me.

I know that I should just tell myself that "The One" will accept my diabetes and probably be like, an Endocrine Fellow or something. I know that diabetes probably isn't as scary to the general population as it is to me. I'm fully aware that this fear is partially ridiculous.

But for right now, I'm scared.

*   *   *

My relationships in the past (and my marriage now) haven't ever been perfect, but diabetes wasn't ever an issue in finding love or being loved.  (I actually just submitted a vlog post to Animas about this topic - coming soon on their site.) But it can be an intimidating thing, bringing diabetes into relationships. It can impact sex and what you're comfortable sharing may vary depending on how you're viewing your health on a day-to-day basis. I've been where Abby is, and I know so many of us have been wary of how our health may impact our relationships. Any words of advice are welcome.

February 22, 2012

When In Doubt, Look to Kevin.

Last week, I met with a new primary care physician, and as part of the "getting to know you" groundwork, she ordered a full lab work up, including an A1C.  And I felt pretty good about it, because I've tried really hard to leave the gross bout with diabetes burnout behind, moving forward with a better mental attitude about the whole thing.

"So you're feeling all sunshiny.  That's great for you, but a good mood doesn't lower your A1C," says the grumpy voice in my head. 

Right.  Which is why shaking off the burnout included letting go of the guilt, but also ditching the bad habits and making a focused effort to make sense of my diabetes management.  

I've tuned back in to my Dexcom, and am making the most of the information it's throwing my way (like correcting those subtle highs of 170 mg/dL, instead of letting them linger). I'm testing my blood sugar way more often (back up to about ten times per day), and while the average on my meter isn't anything to write home about (151 mg/dL), I'm really working to bring that number down without an onslaught of low blood sugars. I don't know ... I feel better, overall, and more confident in how I'm managing my diabetes these days.

So when the nurse called me yesterday with some labwork results, I was really, really disappointed to hear that my A1C was not reflective of the work I've been putting in.  It's lower than it was a few months ago - a major plus - but not close to where I want it. And that frustrates the hell out of me, because I want that number to reflect effort. The A1C value is what we're judged on, as PWDs. That number is what healthcare professionals ask us about, and base their judgment of our diabetes control - sometimes of us, personally - upon. 

When the nurse told the result, I let out a low whistle and admitted, "I thought it was going to be a bit better than that."

"It's higher than we'd like you at," she said, without a trace of judgment in her voice. 

And I wanted to tell her that I have been testing a lot and reacting to the Dexcom and working out and trying to eat better and with more regularity ... I wanted to give her that deluge of information, because I didn't want her to think I was okay with That Number. I was new to her practice, and I wanted her to know that these labwork results matter a whole lot to me, that I was working diligently towards better control, and I wanted to be a patient they wanted to work with.

But all I said was, "It's higher then I'd like, too. But I'm working to bring it down."

Life gets in the way of good diabetes management. When I was trying to get pregnant and then during my pregnancy, I spent the majority of my day stalking diabetes. I tested a ton, wore the Dex, logged my blood sugars, and didn't do much other than that. My A1C was gorgeous (6.3 %), and my job was to create a safe environment for my growing baby. Incentive, at that moment, was the Birdy.

Now, I'm not in a position to dedicate my entire day to diabetes management. It's that whole "Life" thing again. The Bird is on the loose, and her little legs are freaking fast. I'm working a lot, doing some traveling, and spending time with Chris. However, diabetes is still part of the mix, and I need to find ways to further fine-tune in pursuit of a more solid A1C, and to keep diabetes complications in their stupid boxes (because they are worth more in their original packaging). 

So what's missing? Testing? Bolusing? Dex'ing? Nope x3. What's missing, I think, is the stupid logbook. I hate logging. But every time I dedicate myself to it for a few weeks, I see good results. And sinceKEVIN! You are the shit, dude. I'm in a healthy stride, diabetes-management-wise, I need to just keep at it until the A1C starts to reflect the effort.

So I'm returning to Kevin. The Kevin spreadsheet (he should trademark that shit) is back and in full-effect, and I've been logging numbers. (It's only been two days, but I'm hoping I can stick with it.) Maybe this is the tool that's been missing from my arsenal. Maybe this is just a tangible reminder to stick with the anti-burnout program I've been working hard to make habit. Whatever it takes to bring this stupid A1C down, I'm in.

Before, it was about being healthy enough to have a baby. Now, it's about being healthy enough to be here for her for a long time.

February 21, 2012

Running the Boston Marathon, With Diabetes.

Marathons are hard.  They're just over 26 miles of endurance chaos, as far as I'm concerned.  I'm not a runner of any kind, so the idea of running a marathon, on its own, sounds like a very busy day.  Running a marathon with diabetes?  Even more challenging.

But Laura Takach is doing just that. She's taking on the Boston Marathon this year, running for the JDRF.  Laura is 28 years old and has been living with type 1 diabetes since the age of six. 

"Running is something that reminds me that my body is capable.  That I'm able to function and do something that everyone else can do."

"Diabetes is the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm learning it's even harder than training for a marathon. At least with my running schedule, I get a rest day. That's why I think it's so important we all continue to work for better treatment options and a cure."

You can support Laura by checking out her fundraising page, and passing on her video.

Go get 'em, Laura!!! 

February 20, 2012

The Low Blood Sugar Beatdown.

My total daily dose of Humalog insulin varies between 23 and 34 units, depending upon if I'm correcting highs or consuming waffles (faffles) instead of eggs.  Going above the 34 units means I spent the day eating my way out of an Olympic swimming pool-sized cheesecake.  (And there were those weeks at the end of my pregnancy when I was at 91 - 110 units per day.  Holy third trimester.

Last Friday, my total daily dose was 18 units of insulin.  For the whole day.  Because I spent the majority of it watching the Dexcom arrows hit the deck:

My meter confirmed this Dex BEEEEEP! with a 45 mg/dL.

This photo was taken from the side of the road, where I had to pull over and treat this low, then wait to come back up before I headed back out.  (Meter showed me at 58 mg/dL for this one.  Glove compartment stash of fruit snacks and a banana to chase it down for the win.) 

And the day closed with numbers tumbling again. 

Caloric consumption for a day like this is staggering - each low blood sugar came with it's own snackfest of fast-acting sugar (juice or glucose tabs), and some slower-digested carbs.  I'd see a spike, but wouldn't bolus it down, yet the effing numbers still plummeted.  Several times throughout the day, I hit numbers under 55 mg/dL, and those lows hung on way longer than their supposed 15 minute shelf-life. 

"Dude, I'm cured," I said to Chris through a mouthful of glucose tabs.

"Let's go get pizza, then," he replied.

I spent the day in a creepy, low fog, running the battery down on my Dexcom from obsessively clicking the buttons, and blowing through about 15 test strips out of justified paranoia.  Diabetes, on a day when numbers won't behave, is a full-time job.

"You look sad," someone said to me.

And it's hard to explain that I'm not sad, I'm just whipped into a quieter, more exhausted version of myself. Lows sometimes come and go without any fanfare at all, but when you spend a whole day under 60 mg/dL, it's that whole penguin truck thing again.

Saturday morning started with a blood sugar of 194 mg/dL, and I was oddly relieved. 

"Not cured anymore.  Still diabetic," I joked to Chris. 

He looked slightly disappointed.  I think he still wanted pizza.  ;)

February 17, 2012

Twenty Two.


You've left "being a baby" in the dust, kid.  You are officially "a kid."  And I know this because when you see little babies, you tilt your head to one side and coo at them.  "Ooooh, baby!!"  Like you know they're something different from what you are, which is "giant kid with fluffy ponytail."

I thought I'd miss "Baby Bird," but I am so in love with this "Big Bird."  (Sidenote:  You call Big Bird on Sesame Street "Bob." So when you see Big Bird, you gesture casually with your hand to greet him.  "Hey, Bob."  I don't have the heart to correct you, because I'm too busy laughing.)  Now that you're more verbal, I finally get to spy on what's going on in your head. 

My big Bird at 22 months old.

You can tell us what you want for breakfast.  "Faffles?  Milk?  Booberries?"  (Translation:  Waffles, milk, and blueberries.)  You fill us in on where you'd like to go.  "Jacket?  Car?  Aunties house?"  You are vocal about what you'd like to wear.  "Elmo shirt? Pants?  Socks? Black shoes, Mama?" 

Opinions, kid:  you have them.

This past month, we've has some really crummy firsts.  Like your first rotten, snarfling cold, complete with horrible moments of foraging in your nose for rogue boogers.  (My worst nightmare.)  And your first molars, followed by the rest of your molars and a few other teeth thrown in just to make your week suck more.  And then we had Pukefest 2012, where you had your first true plague, your first visit to the emergency room, and your first 72 hours spent laying on the couch.  I know these firsts were coming, regardless, but I'm so sorry you had to deal with them all in the same month.  It's been a rough go.

But you've bounced back.  You're back to your sunny, lovely self, wearing your boots and your cupcake pajamas and back on the horse.  Literally.  (I just wish you wouldn't text while trotting.) 

Musically, you're all over the map, singing along with Coldplay, Noel Gallagher, the Elmo's World theme song, Beastie Boys, and some Radiohead.  Watching you bop along to the music makes me so happy, because you've thankfully inherited your dad's rhythm - mama has none to spare.  Your favorite books are the Richard Scarry ones, and you love pointing out all the nouns you know.  (You just don't know what a "noun" is, just yet.  But the worm driving the apple makes you giggle, which warms my heart.) You also are a mini-practical joker, Birdface. Like when I went into the bathroom one morning last week and saw this doll staring back at me, all creepy.  Not cool, kid.  Mommy doesn't like creepy dolls. Stop scaring Mommy.

My love for you grows every single day (even on the days when "No!" is the most used word in your growing vocabulary).  Your smile makes my world bigger, my big Bird. 

Keep doing what you're doing.


February 16, 2012

From Abby: A Fogged-Up Insulin Pump.

While I was dealing with Dexcom errors, Abby has been dealing with some pump errors.  Namely, "the whiteness."  Has this ever happened to you?

*   *   *

It seems like once you think "Oh, that'll never happen to me," someone somewhere in the world hears you and then makes sure that it does happen to you, very shortly after.

Or at least that's what keeps happening to me.

Yesterday at work, I was filling a script for a patient who was going on a vacation and wanted back-up Lantus in case her pump died. Totally a legitimate reason. I do this all the time. But this particular time I got to thinking "Hmph, i've never had backup Lantus, because my pump never dies."

And that mysterious force heard me. Less than 48 hours later, my pump crapped out.

I got home from the gym and checked my blood glucose in preparation for dinner. It was 44 mg/dL (shocking - I was low after the gym). I was also 42 mg/dL about three hours earlier (my sensor is about nine days old, so it's definitely time for a new one if it's not catching these lows). After I treated the current low and ate dinner (and bolused for it), I looked at my pump about to check how much insulin I had taken all day, in hopes of finding the culprit for these lows. But I didn't get that far, because I saw on the screen this white substance all around the edge of the inside. Kind of like when a mirror fogs up - that weird, foggy whiteness.

poor borken pumpy :(
The weird, white screen on Abby's pump

Me, being the faithful "call-Medtronic-about-everything" customer that I am, I called. The woman on the phone was INCREDIBLY nice and we arranged for a new pump to be shipped to me the next day. Such a simple process. It's frustrating though, because I have this awesome pump sticker that I'm not sure will transfer to my new pump. And also that I have to use my zebra pump until it gets here is disconcerting since it doesn't have the same accurate basal rates as my Revel. (And I don't like Lantus - my body requires such variable basal rates that Lantus really doesn't work for me... I also don't have any).

This pump is only nine months old. It shouldn't be giving me problems. I have no idea what happened, other than this is the first time I went to the gym without my TallyGear (I forgot it) but I'm pretty sure being clipped inside my yoga pants shouldn't have caused this (I am NOT that sweaty I swear).

Some things are just a mystery. Hopefully new pumpy will last me the duration of my warranty.

*   *   *

When you're wearing medical devices 24/7, the wear and tear on them is tremendous.  And weird.  (Like the time I dropped my pump into the toilet.  Fun moment.)  What's the strangest thing that's ever happened to your stuff?

Dexcom, Revisited.

My Dexcom had a day or two of throwing triple question marks.  And then it spluttered.  And died, offering up the CGM-version of the "blue screen of death."  That error stayed stuck on the screen no matter what buttons I pressed or how often i swore under my breath.

After emailing the team at Dexcom and speaking with my representative there, I was waiting (sort of) patiently for the Dexcom to arrive.  I don't often go more than a few hours between sensors swaps, so being without the Dex for 48 hours felt creepy. 

And it was a long two days.  I didn't realize how integral the Dexcom routine was to my schedule before the thing busted.  Even though the receiver was dead, I still found myself bringing it everywhere.  I still brought the receiver to the gym with me.  I kept clicking on the screen and remembering "Oh, the error.  Shit."  And it still ended up on the bedside table, even though it wasn't technically working.  I also did that strange "take your pants off carefully to avoid scraping the Dexcom sensor from your thigh" thing, even though the sensor wasn't actually on.  (I felt like a diabetes mime.)

The most mental adjustment was the "before bed" routine.  Normally, I do the bedtime bit (wash face, brush teeth, put the horrible, old-lady Muro 128 in my eyeball thanks to the Bird talons) and then snuggle into bed.  But the very, very last thing I do before bed is test my blood sugar, and then check the Dexcom graph.  Mentally, I need (want?) that security of knowing where I'm at before I embark on eight (HA!) six hours of sleep.  Seeing a blood sugar snapshot on my meter is one thing ("Okay, I'm 143 mg/dL.") but seeing where that number came from and where it's going is another.  ("Okay, so the Dexcom says I was 212 mg/dL before but now I'm 143 mg/dL with double-down arrows, so I might grab a swig of juice before going to bed.")  

So when the new Dexcom system arrived yesterday morning, I couldn't wait to slap this Bad Larry on.  I felt like I was flying blind for a few days, and I wanted the new sensor queued up as soon as possible.  I was almost as excited to see that FedEx box as a certain BirdFace was:

Bird in the Box!

It's strange, what becomes part of the routine.  Strange to tote that little egg-shaped receiver around with me everywhere.  Strange to miss the sensor stuck to my body.  But on Sunday morning, when I woke up with a blood sugar of 42 mg/dL without any symptoms of the low, missing the CGM didn't seem strange at all. 

Reunited with the Bad Larry.  (Different from the Awesome Birthday Larry from a certain awesome editorial assistant.)  I'm happy to be back to the routine. 

[Dexcom disclosure]  

February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day with Diabetes: A Poem for my Panc.

Love is in the air ... and it smells like insulin.

Happy Valentine's Day!!  I'd like to dedicate this day to my endless pursuit of love from a certain organ of mine ... one who has evaded my embrace for over twenty-five years now.  Oh pancreas ... sweet little panc who looks just like a giant wiener ... this goes out to you.

Oh rotting, feeble pancreas of mine,
Won't you be my Valentine?
Won't you wake from your long sleep
And make some insulin, you creep?

What makes you sit, all shaped like a wiener,
Lazy and dull, with a pompous demeanor?
What makes it okay, that for your enjoyment
You've spent twenty plus years filing unemployment?

We need to start over; we need to be friends.
We need this whole type 1 diabetes to end.
I'm tired of shots and I'm sick of the lows,
So I think we should talk about ending this row.
I could use a break, my corn-cob-shaped friend.
I'd love to have 'old age' listed as my end.
I think that your time off has drawn to a close.
I'd like working islets, and plenty of those.

How 'bout it, old pal?  Care to start working?
Care to start minding duties you've been shirking?
I promise to be an attentive best friend,
I'll thank you each morning and as the day ends.
I won't take for granted the hormone you make
And I'll forgive you for the last 25 years' mistake.

I've brought you some flowers and a Border's gift card,
In hopes that when I bring milkshakes to the yard
You'll be so inclined to jump start all those islets
Who've been holding their breath for so long that they're violet.

So what do you say, oh pancreas of mine?
Won't you be my Valentine?

February 13, 2012

Diabetic Barbie.

Barbie was a staple toy in my childhood, along with my Cabbage Patch dolls and Rainbow Brite.  We had Barbies that were veterinarians, doctors, airplane pilots, business women, and rock stars.  (For the record, I still know every word to the Barbie and the Rockers theme song.  We also had their tour bus, which my dad had to put together one Christmas Eve, probably with blood, sweat, and swears.)  But I never saw a Barbie with diabetes.  (Hell, I never even saw a Barbie with realistic physical dimensions, but that's an entirely different post.)

In the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about a "beautiful and bald Barbie" being created to "to help young girls who suffer from hair loss due to cancer treatments, Alopecia or Trichotillomania. Also, for young girls who are having trouble coping with their mother's hair loss from chemo."  Almost 150,000 people have "Liked" that Facebook page. 

After seeing this public outcry, Amy Ermel was moved to respond to her own daughter's question of "Why isn't there a Barbie with diabetes?"  And today she's talking about her desire for a "diabetic Barbie" for her little girl.

So awesome: Diabetic Barbie
Amy's "Diabetic Barbie" prototype

Kerri:  Amy, can you please introduce yourself to everyone, and let them know what your connection to diabetes is?

Amy:  Hi there! My name is Amy Ermel and I have been a "D-Mom" for over three years now. My seven year old daughter (who will be turning eight on Valentine's Day, actually!) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of four.
Kerri:  Can you tell me a little bit about your daughter's diagnosis, and how she (and you) have been handling things so far?

Amy:  Emma was diagnosed on June 26, 2008 ... just a couple of months before she was to start junior kindergarten. She had been showing all of the classic symptoms, but I really had no idea. I thought that perhaps she had a bladder infection, so I took her to the doctor and was floored to find out the real diagnosis [of type 1 diabetes]. What a ride it has been since that day! Emma started off on injections and this past May she finally decided she was ready to pump. She chose the Animas Ping, and we have loved it since day one. Pumping has really given us back our freedom and it feels like we are able to live our lives about as close to how things were before diagnosis as possible.
Kerri:  What planted the seed for Diabetic Barbie, and why do you think it's important for kids like your daughter?

Amy:  Emma had gone to school a couple of weeks ago and had heard from friends that there was a bald Barbie doll coming out soon for cancer awareness. She came home that day and asked me why there wasn't one for diabetes? I feel that many children diagnosed with diabetes are of prime "Barbie playing" age. If they were able to sit down and play Barbies and see her with a pump, or a blood glucose meter, a lancet ... they would feel a sense of normalcy. They would feel that connection. They could play with a doll that was just like they were and it would bring a smile to their faces. The same rings true for siblings of diabetics, I believe. They could play with a Barbie doll that has diabetes just like their brother or sister does ,and it would make them proud! It would definitely be a huge self-esteem boost for our type 1 kiddos!
Kerri:  I saw that you have a Facebook page and are looking to grab the attention of Mattel.  What's your plan, moving forward?

Amy:  We have created a Facebook page called "Diabetic Barbie" and are trying to spread the word. We would like to have 5000 "likes" to our page so we can bring this along with a petition to Mattel and make them see that the DOC are a family.  We stand up for our kids and we want the best for them. I want to put diabetes in the spotlight and have our kids shine like the true heroes they are!

Kerri:  How can people in the DOC help you raise awareness of Diabetic Barbie?

Amy:  The DOC has shown tremendous support so far and Emma and I are truly grateful! You all are making my job as a mommy very easy. You are helping me to show Emma that it is okay to dream big ... even when you are seven years old! There are people out there willing to help you and support you! The DOC can help by spreading the word, sharing a link to our Diabetic Barbie Facebook page and asking their friends to "Like" it. Share and tell everyone you know and let's make this happen together!!

*   *   *

You can read Amy's blog at Laughing at Diabetes and, of course, visit the Diabetic Barbie Facebook page.  A little awareness and advocacy can go a long way in making a kid with diabetes feel empowered.

February 12, 2012

Snapshots: Dexcom Err Code: 16R0F2D93c.

Dexcom Err Code: 16R0F2D93c.

This is the Dexcom error code that cropped up just after breakfast this morning.  It won't reboot, it won't show my graphs, and it won't make eye contact.  I think it gave up.   I've emailed Dexcom and am hoping to hear back soon - already feeling oddly naked without my CGM.

February 10, 2012

Channeling Jane ... Fossey?

This flu has been a barrel of monkeys.  GET IT? IT'S LITERAL THIS TIME!I ducked down and spied on her through the staircase railing, speaking quietly into my cell phone.

"She's in the living room.  Yeah, in her high chair; I pulled it in there so she could pick at her eggs and toast and hopefully drink some of her water while Elmo was on."

"Is she drinking it?"

"Not yet ... wait, wait!  She's drinking it now."  I drop my voice to a whisper. "She just took like three big sips."

(This flu bug is NOT leaving my child alone, and she had a relapse on Thursday afternoon.  Pukefest 2012: The Redux came with crying from both of us, plenty of laundry cycling through the ol' washing machine, and the request "Baby, please don't touch the vomit until mommy is done cleaning it."  Doctors have been called, appointments have been made, advice from friends and family has been collected, and the main concern is dehydration.  Oh, and sanity. 

Thing is, every time I ask her to drink something or have a Pedialyte popsicle or whatever, she refuses.  It has to be on her terms, and if I acknowledge what she's doing as "good" or "Yay!", she stops drinking and says, "No!" and cries.  So my only option, in pursuit of re-hydrating this child, is to pretend I don't see what she's doing.  She'll pick up the sippy cup and take a long pull from it, and I have to turn my eyes up to the ceiling and whistle.  Only I can't whistle properly, so I end up just looking at the ceiling and making fish faces and saying the word "whooooooot" really low and melodiously.  Terrible.)

"Awesome," Chris said through the phone.  "Where are you right now?"

"I'm in the kitchen.  I can see her through the staircase railing posts."  

"Are you spying on her?"

"Yeah.  If she sees me, she stops eating or drinking.  It's like a weird mind game thing.  I'm like Jane Goodall, watching the gorillas out there in the mist."

I can hear him shaking his head all the way from California, where he's been watching this chaos unfold for the last week.

"Please keep me posted on how she's doing.  My poor girl ..."

"Of course.  She just had two more bites of toast and ... wait, wait ... she just saw me.  Hang on," and I duck down out of her line of sight, listening to her chew and sip from across the room. 

And it's not until much later in the evening, once Birdy is in bed, the laundry is swirling, and I'm running random Google searches that I realize the gorillas in the mist were with Dian Fossey, not Jane Goodall.

I'm taking a free pass on this fact-mangling moment, seeing as how I was covered in puke at the time. 

February 09, 2012

From Abby: My Silly Schedule.

Abby is working 9-5 now, (What a way to make a livin'!) (Actually, she's working 8 - 4:30.)  (Is it weird to have three sets of parenthesis in a row?) and her schedule is throwing diabetes management out of whack.  Here's a little glimpse into her "silly schedule."

*   *   *

Juggling EVERYTHING!!!Whenever I go through a significant change in schedule, my silly blood sugars don't let me forget it. (I'm sure I'm not the only one.)  For the past few months I've been on a schedule that varied from day to day. I got up whenever I wanted, babysat either all day or all evening some days, or would have the occasional appointment here and there. I guess I just didn't have a "set schedule," but my body got used to that.

Now that I'm living this silly grown up life of an 8-4:30 job, I have to readjust everything all over again. This is fine, and I can do it. Lots of testing an Dexcom wearing and pattern searching. Do-able. Except that while it's happening, I'm also supposed to be learning everything there is to know about my new career, while I've been on the ultimate blood sugar roller coaster.

I know that I can fix this. I've done it before, and I have the tools and the knowledge. I have the support from my co-workers and my friends, and especially from the DOC. I just really wish I didn't have to. I wish I could've sat through the past week of lectures and training sessions, could have met those 30 new people with a stable sugar that enabled me to remember their names.

What really gets me is that I tried so hard all week. I can't even blame these roller coasters on burnout, because I was testing at least six times a day, and wore my Dex the entire time. I counted my carbs, and ate what I thought were safe foods. Sometimes no matter what you do and how hard you work, diabetes wins.

Next week will be better. I know what to expect, I can have snacks on my desk, everyone in my office knows I have type 1 (and they all are RN's in an endocrinology office, so that helps a little), and I know what worked and didn't last week. So it will be better, it has to be better ... I think.

*   *   *

I rely heavily on the Dexcom to help me attempt to identify patterns when my schedule changes, but like Abby's previous lifestyle, my schedule is up in the air, all the time.  For me, a little structure goes a looooong way in keeping things under better control.  How do you change your diabetes to accommodate a changing schedule?

February 08, 2012

Day Off.

Today, I'm spending my birthday with my best friend, recovering from our collective "Birdy flu."

Were you expecting a Larry Bird themed post?  Tune in tomorrow.  ;)

Two nerdy birdies, hanging out and getting better.

February 07, 2012

Little Fevers.

Sick kittenGrown-ups can handle being sick, for the most part.  (Unless you have a cold, and you're a guy.)  But outside of those perimeters, I'm able to handle a nasty cold or even a bout with the flu.

But I'm not good with my kid being sick.  Not good at all.

It's not that I overreact and lose my cool.  Over the weekend, when Birdy woke up from a sound sleep and covered everything in her crib with vomit, my husband and I handled it with as much grace as we could manage.  She'd never been sick in that way before (kid had her first "legit cold" last week; we've been luck that she's been very healthy for the last twenty months), so the learning curve for all of us was steep.  Chris and I had to figure out how to unearth her from beneath all the gross, puke-covered clothes without getting ourselves completely covered, and Birdy had to try and wrap her head around the fact that breakfast and lunch were heading out the way they came in.  (Also, "puke" is a horrible word.  It's onomatopoeia at its nastiest.)  And after several hours, when it became clear that our little Bird wasn't able to keep anything in her system and we were nervous about dehydration, we shuffled off to the doctor.

After a long night and hours of observation, the vomiting stopped.  This weekend, Birdy spent the day lounging around on the couch, watching the same episode of Sesame Street over and over again, and alternating between sleeping snuggled with her "bim" (her name for her special blanket) and her "mama" (her not-as-special-but-still-warms-my-heart-when-I-hear-it name for me). 

And then I caught her illness.  It's been fun (lies), and we've learned the following:

  • The washing machine and the dryer are capable of running for 24 hours straight, without a break.  Even through the night, and without waking the sleeping baby.  Nice job, Samsung.
  • That small children are capable of expelling mass amounts of blech in a matter of seconds.
  • There isn't a diaper in existence that can properly contain toddler diarrhea.  I know that's graphic and gross to read, but let's keep in mind that cleaning up after this statement is worse than reading it.  So cut me some slack, and see aforementioned bullet point about loving my washer/dryer. 
  • Pedialyte that claims to be "flavorless" is lying.  Somehow, Birdy knows the difference between a sippy cup of Pedialyte and a sippy cup of water.  She would never lose at a Pepsi Challenge.
  • Seeing my normally happy and energetic toddler reduced to a small, sad lump on the couch breaks my heart in ways I wasn't prepared for. 
  • There are doctors and nurses who show such unflagging amounts of compassion and intelligence, even as they examine a distressed (read: sobbing and puking) child at 2 am.  Those medical professionals are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
  • That even though I test my blood sugar several times a day, I couldn't watch while they tested my daughter's heel.  (Her result was fine, but those five seconds were the longest in history.)
  • I learned that snuggling a sick child may cause you to catch sick child's sickness.
  • And then I learned about trying to care for a recovering little one when you're becoming sick, yourself.  Explaining to the baby, "I'll make your breakfast as soon as I finish throwing up," is a weird sentence for an almost-two year old to grasp.  
  • Family members who willingly enter the Thunderdome of Pukefest 2012 are brave and invaluable people.  I'd have been lost without my sister and mother coming to help.
  • (Which is why I hope they forgive us when they end up sick as dogs.)
  • Ketones are those things you read about, when you have diabetes, but until you have them for hours on end, you forget how much they suck.  My own illness brought about moderate ketones, and the back pain, nausea, and overall blech of ketones, stacked on top of the instigating illness, just sucks.
  • And no matter how long I've had diabetes, it's still weird to intentionally eat carbs when you're high, just to flush the ketones.  I can't wrap my head around that, entirely.
  • A 160% basal rate wasn't enough to wrangle in my blood sugars, which blows my mind.  How much insulin does an illness need to function?  
  • A diet of popsicles, tea, and Saltines is what we've both been on for the last three days, and I'm suddenly craving a cheeseburger.
  • I am really looking forward to seeing Birdy run around, yelling with happiness, and upending everything in her bedroom.  Because this quiet, sad little Bird isn't the Bird I'm used to.  Damn this illness and how it has sapped my kid of all her happies. 

Watching your kid go a few rounds with an illness sucks.  Battling that illness at the same time also sucks. 

Germs suck. 

February 06, 2012


Birdy was sick over the weekend (Pukefest 2012) and apparently was contagious.  Thankfully, the Bird is better but her mom is sick now. And using third person POV to shield herself from the awful truth of horrible dehydration, moderate ketones, and the shame of stealing her kid's Pedalyte popsicles.

See you tomorrow!

February 03, 2012

Medical ID: Lauren's Hope.

I destroy medical IDs.  Casually, and without much effort, unfortunately.  I've lost them on the soccer field (as a kid).  I've put them through the dryer by accident and they've disappeared straight into Narnia.  And there are the ones that just evaporate into the ether of college (read: it ended up lost at the bar). 

I've killed even the most resilient bracelets.  Back in the day (when I was 17), I had one of the diabetes medical alert bracelets with the large-link chain and the metal plate.  That sucker was solid, but one October morning before school, I managed to catch it on the emergency brake in my car, and it snapped and the pieces flew all over the car.  (I was picking up little metal links well into summer.)

But now, I'm a slightly more responsible adult, and I'm trying to wear a medical alert bracelet as often as possible.  I do a lot of solo traveling, so having something that lets people know I have diabetes in the (hopefully never) instances when I can't speak for myself is a safety net I don't want to pass up.  And thankfully, medical alert jewelry isn't as ghastly as it was back when I was diagnosed. 

This bracelet is one I received from the team at Lauren's Hope, and it's pretty enough to wear every day, but the alert plate is big enough that I feel confident it will be noticed as a medic alert ID.  

I asked for the inscription on the back, because I have this fear of being in some kind of situation where my pump will be accidentally disconnected, and I want any kind of emergency personnel to know that I am insulin-dependent.

It's pretty.  I love it.  Birdy loves it.  ("Pretty, Mama!"  Then, "Eat?"  One track mind on that kid.)  It's functional.  And it's point is to save my life, if such a need arises. I'm hoping I can go at least a few months without breaking this one, clumsy bird that I am.

(Okay, disclosure time.  Lauren's Hope sent me this bracelet for free.  They also sent one to Abby.  They did not ask me to write about it, but I think they could safely assume that I would.  They're offering a discount code for SUM readers, if you're inclined to order anything for yourself.  My biases are disclosed, per usual.  But my opinions, also per usual, are my own.  And this disclosure, per usual, is too long.)

February 02, 2012

YouTube'ing It: [Stuff] People Say to Diabetics.

This isn't my video, but I love it.  I saw this on Arianna's Facebook page, and I'm posting it here because it made me laugh out loud.  It's the perfect complement to Marcus's video.  If you're the girl who made this video and you're reading this:  THANK YOU.  You cracked me up.

(My favorite part:  " What would happen if you ate a chocolate bar?")

Exercise Lows.

This thing is used for more than just hanging clothes on!Last night was an at-home workout (so I could get a little exercise in without missing the Wednesday night #dsma chat), so I was holed up in the basement with the ellipmachine and Stephen Colbert, with a starting blood sugar of 138 mg/dL.

At the twenty-three minute mark of my workout, I started to feel a little strange.  Heavy.  Like each foot had a big, fat chicken sitting on it, trying desperately to hatch it.  My arms were over-cooked spaghetti noodles.  And from the shelf, just a few feet away, I could hear the Dexcom buzzing over the sounds of Colbert's applauding audience.

"Twenty-three minutes ... I can get to thirty." 

Stupid, stupid, stupid Kerri.  This is the same brand of stupid where I think I need to test my blood sugar at 3 am before any drinking juice, despite the fact that I'm damp with nighttime sweat and dizzy.  And the very same brand of stupid where I clean the house instead of treating the low.  When the glucose is sapped from my cells, my brain doesn't know how to prioritize. It's like I need to challenge myself, taking control of a situation that's rapidly spiraling out of it, despite the fact that the smart and safe thing to do is treat the low.  But my brain doesn't function properly when I'm under a certain blood sugar threshold.

So instead of stopping my workout and going upstairs to raid the fridge, I pushed through the workout for a few more minutes, until that rational part of my brain spoke up.  

"Um, Kerri?"

I keep moving my legs, concentrating on the computer screen halfway across the room that was broadcasting the Hulu show.

"Hey, Kerri?"  My Internal Motivational Speaker pipes up again, more forcefully this time.


"You need to go drink some juice."

I'm so low and so confused, but still trucking forward with this workout.  In my mind, I'm an elite athlete and moving with pop-and-lock precision.  But in reality, I'm loose and fogged up, my knees buckling every few seconds.  My whole body is screaming at me to STOP but my brain is drunk with power (seeing as how it's probably the only part of my body receiving any glucose).

"I need to get some juice," I say outloud, like I just thought of it.  I can hear my Internal Motivational Speaker sighing.  The ellipmachine shows a completed time of 18:58 and my brain is rattled by the fact that the numbers aren't round and complete.  (What is it about that need for symmetry and control when my blood sugar is in the trenches?  Why can't I force myself to focus on what I need, instead of what my OCD flare-ups are re-prioritizing for me?)

Once upstairs in the kitchen, my meter shows me at 48 mg/dL.  The grape juice enters my system almost immediately, firing off the synapses that were previously on snooze.  I start to relax.  I start to come up.  My brain switches back on in full.  And I realize how stupid, stupid, stupid I am.

"I'm an idiot," I mutter, wiping the sweat from my brow.

"I agree," the voice in my head mutters back.

(But damn it, once I was back up in range, I finished my workout.  Am I stubborn?  Yes, yes I am.)

February 01, 2012

Guest Post: Julia Goes to Denmark.

Today's guest post is from a fellow Clara Barton Camp alumni, Julia.  She's spending some time studying abroad in Denmark, exploring her new surroundings with her insulin pump by her side.  (Sidenote:  Every time I've met Julia, she's been armed with a giant camera in her hands.  My kind of PWD.)

*   *   *

This past semester, I decided to test out my survival skills and study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

... okay so it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the Hunger Games-esque experience I was secretly hoping for, but I did have my fair share of diabetes moments that required some survival-of-the-fittest techniques (or as survival-of-the-fittest as a first world country can get). Prior to departure, I knew little about Copenhagen other than it has good pastries, lots of bicycles, free health care, and the largest number of happy people in the world. [Editor's note: Is this true? Are the Danish super happy?]  All things I’m strongly in favor of – so why not?

I knew I would encounter some challenges with diabetes, so I tried to take as many precautionary measures as I could. The biggest one was ending my nearly two-year pump-break and going on a shots-hiatus. I reconnected ole yeller [Editor's note again: I'm going on the assumption that Ole Yeller is the pump.]  back in July, about a month before leaving, while working at CBC, where I was surrounded by diabetes experts. This gave me time to readjust to pumpster and figure out some basals and ratios. I’m more in check with my diabetes while on shots, but I knew my life abroad would be hectic and I’d need some extra flexibility. Best. Decision. Ever.

For the most part, I feel like diabetes didn’t really impact my life in Copenhagen. I had an incredible time, and the majority of my daily life wasn’t too out of the ordinary. With the exclusion of:

  1. Weird carb counting (so this whole package weighs 534.7 grams and 100 grams has 29.8 carbs and each cookie feels like it weighs three billion grams soooo I guess I’ll just bolus for 12 carbs)
  2. Biking everywhere all the time (I love incognito exercise. Unless it’s 7:30 am and I need to bike 30 minutes to class and my blood sugar is 43)
  3. Living alone

The housing I chose gave me my own room, kitchenette, and bathroom. I lived basically completely alone for the first time. This was great because I secretly love being alone. But this also absolutely terrified me –What if I have a really bad low? What if I have a seizure? What if my pump breaks and then my back-up pump breaks and then my insulin all goes bad and I go into DKA and I’m too stubborn to tell anyone and then I slip into a coma? Thankfully, these things didn’t happen. I had my fair share of lows, but my dear friend Dexcom helped me catch them before they ever became too severe. And I had multiple run-ins with fairly massive ketones, but never to the point of needing medical attention. Phewf.

Julia in Denmark!! 

But my biggest dia-abroad-fail moment ended up costing me quite a hefty sum of money. One night, after leaving my meter and Dexcom in my apartment and with my pump was trickling on its last few drops, I lost my keys. My super intendant wasn’t answering his phone, so I couldn’t get the master key. So I coined some first world survival techniques and called a locksmith. But he ended up needing to drill through my lock, destroying it. Between the locksmith and the new lock, I ended up paying about 2500 Danish Kroner – around $500. Ouch.

This little fiasco was one of a few I’M GONNA DIE WHAT AM I DOING HERE moments. But they were always short-lived, thanks to this beautiful new thing called the Internet, where you can almost instantly talk across the globe to people with diabetes. I know my diabetes wasn’t as well managed as it has been in the past, and maybe I could have paid a smidgen more attention to diabetes. But looking back, I wouldn’t do it any other way. I didn’t let diabetes hold me back from biking everywhere or trying new foods or from traveling to seven different countries. I not only survived and avoided any real disaster, but I explored, learned, and grew; both as Julia-with-diabetes, and as just plain Julia.

*   *   *

Julia Romano has had Type 1 diabetes since the ripe old age of twelve, and is currently a junior studying psychology and theater at Skidmore College. In the summer, Julia ventures to Massachusetts to play with dianuggets (“dianugget”: a wonderful and adorable child with diabetes) at Clara Barton Camp. Julia loves elephants, knitting, and fanny packs – hoping to someday knit a fanny pack for an elephant. She isn’t sure where her life will end up post-graduation, but she knows it will probably involve grad school, laughter, and children with chronic diseases.

Visitors since November 7, 2005