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September 28, 2012

Diabetes Art Day 2012: Late.

We're late in posting for Diabetes Art Day, but we were waiting for the glue stick to dry.  ;)

This year, Birdy helped by setting the stage.  I asked her to paint me an ocean (the first line of "waves" is mine, but then she took the brush and did her thing) so I could float a test strip boat in there.  "Okay, mama.  And we need fish.  Red fish."  She swirled the brush in the red paint and added some fish blotches.  "And some ocean waves for the boat for ocean waves boats." 

For ocean waves boats.  Of course. 

Diabetes is a raging sea.  But technology and community keep me afloat. 

September 27, 2012

Glucose Dust.

"I couldn't put any inflection in my voice.  It was like I was speaking while in a trance or something," I said, recounting last night's low to Chris.

"I know.  You always sound like that when you're really low.  That was the worst one I've seen in a long time."

"Worst one I've felt, in ages, too."

Officially rotten number.

This is the second low in as many weeks that's made me feel like I was sliding too close to something dangerous.  And as I've mentioned before, it's the middle-of-the-night lows that feel like out-of-body experiences.  (Thank goodness for hyphens, no?) It's like I'm not even in there, my words just coming out on unaffected autopilot, my body going through whatever survival motions are required but the adrenaline isn't even in place to make me feel human.

Robot lows.  

I woke up this morning and my mouth tasted like glucose tabs and toothpaste (product of the post-low bathroom visit where I brush my teeth and wonder how many brain cells I took out in the process of this hypoglycemic event), a sweet, minty hybrid that tastes like failure.

These lows have happened a bit more lately than they have in months past, as I'm trying to keep my A1c in the range it's in, and they're knocking me for a serious loop.  (And no Dexcom on last night because the sensor wilted off late in the afternoon, and I'm still dealing with itchy rash issues.  Hopefully will find a solution to that soon.)  The hangovers from these wee morning lows ache a bit more, and they take time to taper off, leaving the morning after a bit foggy and thick.  Currently running on glucose dust and the odd avocado.  (What can I say - they're tasty, those avocado things.)

Tomorrow will be better.  Today has an air of "suck" to it, but tomorrow will be better. 

September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 12 Hours.

So am I allowed to use words in the alt text?  Yes, I will.  This photo is proof that my basal rates are set decently, because after long hours of traveling and zero access to proper food, I rolled out alright. Except that low bit at the end.
Who now has a 42 inch tube, two thumbs, and is happy to be reunited with her pump?

This girl.

September 25, 2012

.... , please.

"Hi George!"

Test blood sugars several times a day?  Monitor and react to CGM data?  Count carbohydrates?  Bolus accordingly?  Hide robot parts discreetly? Experience low and high blood sugars?  Jump the insurance hurdles?  Work with doctors to best manage health?

Monitor all the diabetes crap? 

Stay happy?

Bitch, please.  

We're on it.

(These two videos, from SNL and Key & Peele, are running on a loop in my head this morning.  Not enough sleep and too much coffee in the last few days.  But this painting, spied in a restaurant last weekend, seemed to be subtly saying, "Bitch, please," as she poured her pitcher and I can't stop thinking she's awesome.  And she pretty much sums up how I feel about diabetes at the moment.)

September 24, 2012

Diabetes Art Day!!!

YAY!  Art!

Today is Diabetes Art Day (endless thanks to art therapist Lee Ann Thill for bringing this brainchild to the community), and the diabetes online community is getting their art on.  You can check out the submissions on the Diabetes Art Day website, and submit your own piece

(And once I get home to Rhodizzy ... er, I mean Rhode Island, I'll be able to upload my mess.  Can't wait to share what Birdy and I created!)

September 21, 2012

Pump Break.

(No, not "pump broke."  That would suck.)

I wanted a little bit of a device break earlier this week.  After dealing with itchy Dexcom rashes and doorknobs tugging hard on pump tubing and just feeling a little excessively-robotic over the last few weeks, I wanted to disconnect and decompress for a few days, before upcoming travel forced familiarity (and for me, device necessity). 

Because I live in that "hope for the best, plan for the worst" cliche, I have all the MDI tools on hand at the house.  I carry a Humalog pen with me all the time (in case my pump borks), so there's always one or two of those on hand.  My endocrinologist keeps a standing prescription for Levemir at my pharmacy in case of emergencies, which I had filled for traveling purposes a few months ago.  (And I've had the same two shoe boxes filled with unopened bags of syringes under the bed for about eight years now.  They don't go bad, right?  Here's hoping.)

So earlier this week, I took off my pump before showering and, instead of reconnecting, I took my doctor-discussed dose of Levemir at 10 pm.  (Months ago, when I took another short pump hiatus, my doctor and I worked out what kind of dose to take for days off the pump.  For me, splitting my Levemir dose in half and taking it 12 hours apart seems to be what works best.  So I take one injection of basal insulin at 10 pm, and the next one at 10 am.)  And I dose for meals/correct highs with an insulin pen of Humalog.

I do like the device-free feeling.  Or at least the device-free-ish feeling.  (Still wearing the Dexcom and trying to figure out a way to wear the device without experiencing a rash.  The next few weeks have me traveling quite a bit, and I'm not willing to go without the Dexcom for extreme time zone changes.)  I have worn a lot of dresses without shoving the pump into my bra (severe lack of disco boobs), and workouts have been nice without my pump gently trying to pants me.  I am enjoying these robot-free moments.

And I do like how injections make me really think about food choices.  The ease of bolusing from the pump makes me more likely to reach for a snack, but knowing I need to inject for it makes me rethink certain choices.  I can say, with certainty, that I've made better food choices in the last few days as a result of deciding what is and isn't bolus-worthy.

Old school.

I don't miss multiple daily injections as part of my long-term routine.  I don't know if using the pump has made me a wimp, but I think the injections sting.  (Yes, I'm a baby.)  Remembering the insulin pen is easy, because I keep it in my glucose meter case, but last night I forgot to take my Levemir before bed, and was greeted at 6 am with a 404 mg/dL (I haven't seen a number that high in a long time, and I forgot how gross the super-high glucose headaches suck).  Thankfully, I was able to bring it down quickly with a Humalog bolus, but it was a reminder that my brain enjoys not thinking about insulin injections and is comfortable with/accustomed to the steady stream of the pump.

And I don't like injecting in public.  I don't have a problem with it, but I much prefer to take out my pump and bolus from there rather than take out a pen, expose a needle, and then expose a bit of skin to inject into.  I never thought I'd feel this way, seeing as how I did injections for 17 years before I started on an insulin pump, but I do favor the discretion of pumping, when it comes to being out in public.  ... I've become a delicate effing flower.

What I like most is having options.  I prefer the pump for long-term use, but I like that I can take it off when I need a little breathing room and can swiftly revert back to multiple daily injections in the interim.  (Especially since my doctor feels strongly about having all kinds of back-ups in place for pump failure, leaving me with the right tools for MDI.)  This pump break has been good, but I'm oddly looking forward to reconnecting. 

Because honestly, without the pump on, I have absolutely no idea what time it is.

September 20, 2012

Looking Back: Taking the Plunge.

Being back on injections this week has me thinking about injections and how they played into my daily life as a kid.  This story is about how my family learned to adjust to my "new normal" ... after a fashion.

*   *   *

I'm from a very big family - my mother is one of seven and my dad is one of five, for starters - so I had plenty of relatives who used to babysit for me when I was small.  Overnight visits at my aunts' houses were part of the fun, and I always looked forward to them.  (Because - let's be honest - I liked that they let me put makeup on them and do their hair.  My pretty aunts were like living Barbie Doll heads to me.)

Things changed a bit when diabetes came into the picture.  Sleepovers weren't as easy to manage, because now we had to juggle insulin injections, blood sugar tests, and being on the lookout for high and low blood sugars - especially back in that first year when everything diabetes-related was so new to all of us. I was still a little kid, and now all this medical stuff, too?

When I was first diagnosed, I didn't do my own insulin injections.  At the outset, my parents did my injections for me, but after a few months, my extended family started to learn.  I think about it now, having baby-sat for my nieces and nephews and little cousins, and I can't even picture that learning curve.  I'm so grateful that my family came together to learn to deal with diabetes, instead of leaving my mom and dad as the only ones who were "in the know." 

One of my earliest memories with diabetes is of me waiting on my aunt's couch while my mother tried to explain to my aunt how to administer my insulin injection.  And every time I recall it, it makes me laugh.

"You need to uncap the syringe, check for any air bubbles one last time, and then pinch up where you're going to stick the needle.  Once the needle is in, you press down the plunger and pull the needle out.  No problem!"

My aunt was nervous.  "I pinch the skin and then put the needle in?  How fast do I put the needle in?"

"Pretty quickly," my mom responded.  "Don't think about it.  Just jab it in there, as gently as you can."

"Okay, so pinch, jab, plunge, remove.  Got it."

"Great, so are you ready to give it a try?"

(Mind you, the entire time they're debating this, I'm face-down on the couch with my pants pulled down, waiting for the insulin injection to be given into my seven year old butt cheek.  Another truly classy moment for me.)

My aunt came towards me, brandishing the syringe like a hot poker.  She uncapped it nervously, pinched up the top of my hip, and said (and I remember this clearly), "Ready, Kerri?"

"Yessh I amph."  I said into the couch cushion.

"Okay, here we go!"

She expertly stuck the syringe needle into my skin, and I barely felt the pinch.  And then she pulled the needle quickly out, letting out an "Oooh!  I did it!"

My mother sighed.

"You didn't push the plunger down."

"What?"

"The plunger.  To dispense the insulin?  You didn't push it down.  You just stuck her with a needle and then pulled it out again."  I could hear my mother trying not to laugh.

"Oh shit!" my aunt exclaimed.  

I laughed, despite the fact that they were about to advance on me again with that syringe.

"You shed de esh word."

*   *   *

September 19, 2012

Twenty-Nine.

You are my sunshine.  Dear Birdy,

"I want to do it mySELF!"

So let's just open with that statement, that assertion.  That sentence that you say six dozen times a day, because you don't want to be assisted with ANYTHING.  You want to get on the chair yourself.  Put on your socks yourself.  Balance the checkbook yourself.  Climb into the car seat yourself. Oh the car seat.

"I want to do it mySELF," you say, half smiling but mostly defiant.

"Okay, fine.  I'll wait and you climb into the car seat yourself.  Please hurry," I said to you, knowing we had ten minutes to drive over to the bank.  

"Aw-wight."  And you scamper happily into the car, embarking on the seven minute journey of settling into the car seat.  Come hell or high water, you will do it yourSELF.  (For the record, we didn't make it to the bank on time.)

The last month has had me home more than usual, so we've had a lot of time to hang out.  And I love that.  You're fast-transitioning from a little Bird that I take care of to one that I can actively hang out with, buddy-style.  Sitting and having breakfast with you gives rise to some of the oddest, most entertaining conversations I've had in a long time (I do so enjoy when you tell me about what you think your grandparents do when they aren't with you).  And talking on the phone with you breaks my heart, because the blow-by-blow details of what you're doing are very intense.  ("I took the ball and put the ball in the hoop and then it fell down so I cried and then put the ball in the hoop AGAIN, mommy, but it was a different hoop and the ball was BLUE!  Not red.  Blue.")

Your obsessions are expanding, and now include the likes of the band Plan B (this song in particular - so awesome), Jungle Junction (are Ellyvan and Zooter like a thing or are they just friends?), and glucose tabs.  Or, as you have deftly assigned them:  gluPose tabs.  Anytime the Dexcom wails, you trot off and return shaking the plastic jar of tablets.  "Glupose tabs, mama?"  "No, I'm okay, but thanks." 

"Aw-wight." 

And god help us if we pass by a playground without stopping.  Slides, swings, open grassy areas where you run with your arms flapping and your ponytail bouncing until you fall down in a tangled, giggling heap?  You love it all.  Despite your proficiency at "check-a your emails?" with your little fake computer, being outside is the greatest thing ever for you.  This summer, we clung to every scrap of our beach days, we're still trucking around on the bike ("I like my tent!"), and the backyard is littered with evidence of playtime (including a small, plastic Elmo doll shoved deep inside a tree stump ... he looks uncomfortable).  I love that you love being outside.  You make me love being outside even more. 

What's up, Baby Evita?

Birdzone, you have dark curly hair from your great-grammie and your auntie.  You have your father's eyes.  But damn, child ... you have my stubborn and independent attitude.  And while that makes my head spin with frustration sometimes, I'm proud that you're exactly the way you are. Because despite what you have inherited from your family members, you're all YOU.  And YOU are a strange and wonderful critter who leaves piles of acorns outside to feed the hedgehog that lives underneath our deck, and who pets the cats with carefully calculated strokes, assuring me, "I am being GENTLE," as the cats are pancaked against the floor.

You are my friend.  My best little friend.  Even when you want to do everything yourSELF.

Love,
Mommy

September 18, 2012

Sleepless in Rhode Island.

Thoughts.

  • I could faceplant with exhaustion onto my keyboard, smushing my nose right against the F.
  • Because Birdface woke up at 3 am this morning, and when Chris went down to check on her, she was insistent on visiting mommy.  "I want to go upstairs and see Mommy in her bed!"  Yay?  So up she came, and spent a few hours as the connecting middle bar to our Sparling capital H.  Sleep was hard to come by last night, and I think I was kicked in the face a few times. 
  • Which means that today everything has that strange, foggy sheen to it, where you know you should just close your damn eyes but you don't because you're a workaholic and scared of your inbox.
  • That, and my dreams keep including weird things, like the one where I was stuck in a bowl of rice (?) and the other one where I kept dreaming I was dreaming, which made me nervous that the kick wasn't ever coming.
  • I'm on a short pump vacation this week, and making use of insulin pens while my pump sits quiet for a few days.  I've been trying out the Timesulin pen cap, which is so clever in its simplicity - once you uncap the pen to take a bolus, the timer on the cap starts up upon recapping.  It keeps track of how long it's been since you bolused (or at least since you uncapped.)  More on this thing later, but it is interesting to have a ticking clock on my insulin pen.  Makes me feel like I'm carrying something that needs to have the blue wire cut.  (No, cut the red wire!)
  • It's weird not wearing the pump.  I miss it for bolusing and convenience, but it's nice not having my workout pants affected by the extra gravity while running.  (Read:  Pump try to pants you.)  I'm enjoying the break, but I'll also enjoy reconnecting.  It's good to have breathing room sometimes, though.
  • Huh.  "Pants" is a British slang term for something that sort of sucks.  Urban Dictionary, you teach me so much.
  • My Spotify playlists are riddled with chaos at the moment, but the new album from Alexander Wolfe (particularly the track "Fangs") is so lovely.  And I'm really into Hobo Humpin Slobo Babe from Whale.  Because those two songs go together like peanut butter and ... ham.  
  • I really don't like ham. 
  • I'm most of the way through this cup of coffee but it's not having the effect on my synapses that I really need right now.  The eff.
  • I've been reading some posts from fellow Rhode Islanders about test strip woes (see Katy and Ryan), and had my own experience with test strip allowances this week when I picked up some prescriptions from the pharmacy.  For some reason, my insurance will only cover a 20 day supply of test strips.  Which is weird, because even my birth control pills acknowledge that a month is at least 28 days long.  
  • The science of burping is important.
  • This is the greatest episode of Mister Rogers EVER.  Watching the crayons collate is oddly soothing.  
  • Time for more coffee.  Like a basin-full. 

Bang.

September 17, 2012

Sticky Issues.

Last week and in pursuit of keeping the skin rashes at bay, I tried a new Dexcom sensor on my thigh, but instead of placing it directly against my skin, I put a piece of that Opsite Flexifix tape underneath the sensor (cutting a teeny hole out for the Dexcom wire insertion), and sticking the sensor to that instead of my actual skin.

And for the first few days, I was all, "Ahhhh!" because it seemed like it was a solution to avoiding the itchy, burning rash.

And then, I was all *scratch, scratch,* because the sensor was somehow affecting my skin, even with the tape as a barrier.  I gave the site a full seven days, but as soon as it beeped "Change sensor now," I gratefully ripped the thing loose.  Underneath, the rash wasn't too raw (not nearly as raw as the first one I experienced), but it was prickly and bumpy and if I let my brain think about how much it might possibly itch, I wanted to scratch my leg down to the bare bone.

Gross.

So I'm trying two new attempts this week:  the sensor is up north, on my arm, and I also applied a layer of Benadryl spray to my skin before slapping on the new sensor (per the recommendation of several very clever people, to whom I shall send balloons and jellybeans to).  So far, since last night, not a whisper of an itch, and the sensor is giving me very good results.  Will this work because of the Benadryl?  Or because the sensor is in completely new skin real estate? Did I get a batch of sensors that I'm reacting strangely to? 

Whatever works. Not having the Dexcom information makes me twitchy, so I'll tar and feather myself if that's what it takes to keep this thing stuck on and keep my safety net intact. 

[Dexcom disclosure]  

September 14, 2012

3 am Eternal.

The Dexcom was buzzing, but from across the bedroom floor, where it had shimmied itself into a corner after BEEEEEP!ing and vibrating for close to an hour.  Without the silicone case around it, the housing vibrated loudly against the wood floors, but it still wasn't what woke me.

"Mama!!!"  Birdy's voice rang out through the video monitor on my bedside table, waking me instantly.  I listened for another minute, but she had re-snuggled herself underneath the blankets in her crib, and I could see that she was asleep.  

I then realized my shirt was stuck to my body, damp with sweat, and my hair was tousled (read: sticking straight up in the air, in crazy directions) and slick with perspiration. 

Normally, my low blood sugar symptoms are such that I can self-treat.  During the day, I don't get too dizzy or rattled, and I'm able to chomp glucose tabs or take a swig of juice without disrupting the flow of things.  But the nighttime low symptoms are strange.  Maybe it's because those lows are more sustained, and I don't catch them until I've been hypoglycemic for some time.  Maybe it's because I'm deeply asleep, and not reading any of the physical cues, like sweat or confusion.

Whatever the case, this low had me so dizzy that the room started spinning as soon as I attempted to sit up, like I was in the Gravitron at the fair. I quickly eased myself back onto the pillow, and my arm swung out and tapped (read: smashed) Chris on the shoulder.  

"You okay?"  (Poor Chris.  It's like he wakes up already halfway with his hand in the fridge, foraging for juice.)

"Wicked low.  Can you help?"  The words sounded slurred, like they'd gone through a blender before hitting my mouth.

He was already out of bed before I could mention the glucose tab jar on the bedside table.  But he was back in an instant with a glass of milk and some honey. 

This low took forever, and the clock minutes never seemed to tick by.  Every time I looked at my pump or my phone, it was 3 am.  And every time I looked at my Dexcom graph (after it was recovered from the floor), it was hollering "LOW" with that stupid flat line of hypoglycemia.

BIG truck.The milk and honey became a peanut butter sandwich.  And then some glucose tabs.  In all, I consumed over 80 grams of carbohydrate, but I was willing to correct the wake-up 360 mg/dL rather than continue to hover in the slick sweat of this low.

I woke up at 169 mg/dL.  Without bolusing for all that crap. The only evidence of the low was the trench on my Dexcom graph and the rogue sandwich plate in the kitchen sink. 

Oh.  And the fact that I feel like I've been trounced by a large truck. 

September 13, 2012

Living in Perfect Harmony.

WHAT?  Is that actual BUTTER in my butter compartment?

Insulin, in its sort-of natural habitat. 

September 12, 2012

From Abby: Mind the Gap.

Working as a healthcare professional and a person with diabetes, Abby has seen diabetes from, and on, all sides.  Today, she's writing about how her view on diabetes has changed in the last few years, and how it shapes her advocacy efforts.

*   *   *

Mind it!!So as I work more with people who have type 2 diabetes, and as I grow older and wiser, with my "juvenile diabetes" not staying in it's juvenile place and insisting on tagging along into adulthood, I think I've come up with a theory.

There is a gap closure between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes with age.

When you are a kid with diabetes, everyone assumes you have type 1. Nobody really questions it, especially under the age of 15. Or at least in my life, that was the case. I got the occasional "oh my cat/Grampa/uncle has/had that" blah blah, but for the most part, people knew that my kind of diabetes was "genetic" or whatever. Once I entered college, things got a little grey, though. I got a lot of, "Oh ... which kind of diabetes?" or, "How long have you had it?" or ,"Wait, can you eat that candy bar?".

Then I became a real life grown-up. I wear dressy pants to work and I have a badge that I swipe in and I pay my rent with checks (those silly things that debit cards replaced). I. Am. An. Adult. (#gross). This new status also came with a lot of really annoying and not necessarily accurate "but you're not fat" types of comments when my dead organ status was revealed. I'm sure most of you can relate so far.

Here is where my theory comes in. When I was younger, I felt absolutely no connection with the type 2 world. It is a different disease, generally diagnosed at a different life stage, requires very different treatment and can sometimes be delayed with good health habits. Early stages of type 2 are pretty much nothing like type 1, and as a child, that's all I could see. Even as a teenager, and frankly until about two years ago, this is what I thought. Until I had to start defending myself against ugly, judgmental comments. Now I understand. Now I want to fight for all diabetes to be treated fairly.

I know plenty of people with type 1 who are very overweight, eat terrible foods and don't work out. I know that these people can take insulin and keep fairly stable blood sugars and not feel guilty about it. I know an equal number of people with type 2 who eat well, work out, are at an average weight, and still need insulin - probably a ton of it. This case bears a lot of guilt that they (according to social commentary), "could have worked out more and stayed off of insulin" so on top of the social judgement there is a huge personal guilt factor happening too ... or so I'm told.

So now that I'm an adult, I am judged for carrying the diagnosis of diabetes, and people with type 2 are judged for being on insulin. While they are still not the same disease, are not medically treated the same, and have entirely different influencing factors, I think we need to remember that those stereotypes hurt everyone. It took me about thirteen years to realize this, but I wish I had learned it earlier.

*   *   *

Has your perception of diabetes changed over the years?  Do you think society's views have changed?

September 11, 2012

26 Years with Type 1.

Last night at the gym, I ran as hard as I could, and as fast as I could.  Not the hardest and the fastest of anyone in there, but it was the best I could do.  My legs moved, my arms moved, my ponytail flashed behind me and I felt alive, alive, alive with this strange understanding that "forever" felt tangible and raw.

And with every step, the same sentence ran through my head.  "You can't catch me.  You can't catch me."

I've had type 1 diabetes for twenty-six years today.  Last week, I felt like it might have been a few steps ahead of me.  Yesterday, it was nipping at my heels.  But today, it's so far behind me that even when it hollers, I can't hear it.  Not over the sound of my daughter's laughter or the feeling of my family's love.

Not today, diabetes.

You can't catch me.

(This is all still trueJust add a year or two.)

Remembering.

 

 

 

 

September 10, 2012

Acting Rashly.

I slapped on my first Dexcom sensor over five years ago, using the old Dexcom STS system that lasted three days and you had to wear the giant sticky shower patch over the sensor to keep it from becoming water-logged.  (And I had to walk uphill both ways to get to the endocrinologist's office, dagnabit.)  Since first wearing the system, I've been addicted to the information, and I feel like I had the best pregnancy I could pull of as a result of following the graph.

Over the years, I've had few issues with the Dexcom, but early on, I saw a handful of weird rashes.  Thankfully, for the last few years (since about 2009), I haven't had any Dexcom-related skin issues.  Which means I've been suited up as a CGM robot without issue for years.

So why am I, all of a sudden, busting out with strange, itchy red rashes right underneath the sensor?  Two weeks ago, I put a new sensor on and after about five days, it was starting to itch like mad.  The results it was giving were spot-on with my meter, and I'm always reluctant to pull a sensor out too early (because even though they're usually fine once they're in, I hate the process of putting a new sensor on - creeps me out).  But the itch was tremendous, so on day six, I pulled the sensor off and was greeted by a raised, red welt-looking patch of skin, previously hidden by the actual transmitter.  It looked like a weird chemical burn.  And it itchy like crazytown.

After two days of bathroom home remedies (neosporin and a Muppet Show bandaid - thanks for lending me the "Kermit Frog" one, Birdy), the welt calmed down and reduced to a small patch of scaly-looking skin.  Now, almost a week later, it's just about completely healed and looks like it's about to peel, like a sunburnt spot. 

But the same day I pulled the old sensor, I put a new one on.  And damned if that thing didn't start to itch a few days later, too.  I only made it three days into that one (because I didn't want to encourage a weeping skin rash), and sure enough, a fledgling patch of itch was brewing up underneath that site, too.  The sensor I put on three days ago is on my left thigh and currently tingling, which makes me worry that I'm headed for a hat trick of itchiness. 

I knew I'd heard of this kind of reaction to sensors, pump sites, etc, so I searched online for some PWDs who had encountered itchy Dexcom sensors, and it became clear I wasn't blazing (scratching?) a new path.  Whole forum discussions were available on TuDiabetes and Children With Diabetes, detailing what is becoming unfortunately familiar to me. And Lorraine at This is Caleb has documented this skin irritation issue in a way that had me nodding in agreement and then itching in commiseration with Caleb.

The only time a flatline is quality.

Having used a CGM for over five years, I really value the information it gives me.  ("Value" also equals "am addicted to," because even in the weeks when I'm a little sloppier about my diabetes management, I'm still extremely grateful when the Dexcom wakes me up from a hypo in the middle of the night.  I can't properly describe what that kind of safety net means to me.)  So I'm not willing to give up my CGM, not even for a few days.  (In the last three years, I've taken it off so rarely that I feel creepy without it on.)

So now, it's about figuring out how to keep from acting rashly.  I have an arsenal of skin prep and barrier tapes to try out, and I'm hoping there's a combination that keeps my skin safe and my Dexcom fired up.  In the meantime:  I scratch my head (and site) in confusion.

September 07, 2012

Rebuilt.

The crayons had been broken into gnarled bits, still functional but different from the ones fresh out of the box.  Even her small hands were too clumsy to grip the chunks of wax.

"New crayons, mama?"  She took the cupcake pan from the cupboard, alluding to the show we'd watched a few weeks earlier about the boy who melted down his old crayons to make new crayons.  We sat on the kitchen floor and peeled the wrappers from dozens of mangled crayons, letting her decide which color combinations should be melted down and brought together in the metal cups.

This.  Is.  ART-A!!!!

The heat of the oven melted the crayons down into something simpler, twelve melted pools of colored wax and toddler fingerprints.  And once they were done, and cooled, they spilled onto the counter.  A dozen discs that were a little different from the other crayons, but that colored just the same.

"These are my new crayons, right?  We ... we remaked them."

"Rebuilt.  We rebuilt them, Birdy."

"Rebuilt."

We are just as good as the crayons that are fresh out of the box.  :)

They don't color exactly like the old crayons - sometimes a rogue spot of orange shows up when you expected blue.  

"They're not the same as the other crayons, Birdy.  But they still work.  They still color and work fine, right?"

"Right.  I love my new crayons.  We made them in the oven."  She paused to grab one of the discs and laughed when the seemingly red crayon colored her elephant picture in purple.  "My new crayons is just right.  Rebuilded."

"Rebuilt."

September 06, 2012

Twice.

"I have family members with diabetes, but they don't take care of themselves," he said.  "They eat whatever they want, and they never test their blood sugar, and they never go to the doctor."

The unspoken thought, capping the end of that sentence, felt like, "So they deserve whatever they get."  

I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut, even though I was at this dinner with people I didn't really know, and who didn't really know me.  They were aware of the fact that I have type 1 diabetes, but it wasn't a big discussion point throughout the day, so I think it was a little snippet of information that fell by the wayside by the time dinner was served.

"But how do you know that?" I blurted out.

He stopped and looked at me.  "What do you mean?"

"How do you know they don't take care of themselves?  Or go to the doctor?  Or test their blood sugar?" 

"Because they don't.  I never see it.  Not even at holidays."  

I didn't want to be That Person. I had zero desire to be the one who raises her voice at dinner table with strangers, preaching on about the misconceptions society has about diabetes, and about all the different kinds of people who live with it, blah blah blah.  I wanted to have dinner, and hang out, and have a good time.

But I don't like the "yeah, but the majority of people with diabetes DON'T take care of themselves" argument, because I take care of myself.  I try, and I do.  And I know so many people who take care of themselves the best they can, and so many who, despite dedicated efforts, still run a rough road.  Perfection isn't achievable, and guilt is inescapable.  Chris encourages me to not take these kinds of discussions personally, because he hates to see my feelings scraped, but it's hard not to take it personally.  I have diabetes.  They're talking about diabetes.  Even when I try, it's hard to keep my viewpoints objective.

"Did you see me test my blood sugar at the table a few minutes ago?"

"You did?"

"Yeah.  I have tested twice, actually, at this table.  While you sat there.  And that orange juice I had before?  Which might not have seemed like the 'right' food for a diabetic?  I was treating a low blood sugar.  You don't always see what we do to take care of ourselves.  But there's a lot that we do. I swear."  I smiled at him, but inside I was begging, pleading for him to see me as a person who, however my life wrings out, didn't "deserve" a damn thing.

There was an awkward silence.

"Twice?  You tested twice?"

"Yeah."

This time, he smiled warmly, erasing all awkwardness.  "Maybe they do stuff I don't see, too." 

I smiled back, wanting to jump across the table and hug him. 

"I hope so."

September 05, 2012

Down to the Wire.

After paying out-of-pocket for insulin a few times this year, I appreciate every drop of insulin to the point of hoarding it.  Which is why I was secretly (not that secretly,  because here it is on the blog) proud that, before my infusion set site change yesterday morning, I was able to run my pump down to one, single, shiny, bandaid-scented unit of Humalog. (I also am sure to weasel out the last few bits in the insulin vials, waiting impatiently for the creepy "insulin bubbles" to pop so I can suck them up with the needle tip.)

Let's not discuss the 16 units still hiding in that 42" tubing, or my head will explode with waste-not frustration.

September 04, 2012

With Kid In Tow.

My numbers run best when I'm in some kind of groove (most often found in the heart), even if my schedule isn't exactly predictable.  The groove applies to exercise as well, so even when I'm traveling, I have to find time to run around a little bit, be it at the hotel gym (with my favorite diabetes conference #sweatabetes partner, Scott), or getting out and exploring wherever I happen to be.  My diabetes nonsense seems to align more smoothly when I'm exercising regularly. 

Trouble is, when I'm in the normal ebb and flow of Stuff At Home, the gym is my main source of exercise.  (Or working out with the ellipmachine at home, but Birdy goes to bed so late now that by the time she's asleep, I'm close to snooze myself.)  For days when Chris is under deadline and busy all day long, getting to the gym can be tricky.  So I've been exploring ways of exercising with Birdy in tow.

Literally.

This is our new adventure:  pulling my little Bird behind me as I tackle the local bicycle trails.  We picked up an InStep trailer (not cheap) and gave it a go for the first time yesterday.  It was some added weight (Birdy weighs just a hair under 25 lbs and the trailer itself is about 30 pounds), but on the reasonably flat Rhode Island landscape, the extra baggage wasn't too much to manage. 

And holy crap, was it fun to listen to her talk about the landscape as it whizzed by.  "Oh, trees!  I saw a tree, Mama!  And a rock!  Two rocks!  Three rocks!  One more three rocks!" 

"You mean four rocks, Birdy?" 

"Yes, four!  Now fives!"

When I started the ride, I was at 168 mg/dL, which was high enough for me to feel comfortable exercising, but not so high that I felt like I was wearing lead boots.  Birdy sat in the trailer with my backpack, with the Dexcom receiver sitting in the front zipper pocket.

"Mama?  Your Dexcom has beeps!"

"It's beeping?"

"Yeah.  Like this:  Beeeeeep!"

"It's okay.  It might beep a little bit."  My high alarm is set at 160, so I knew it was beeping because I was cresting around that number.

About 30 minutes into our ride (her "ride," my "pull"), I stopped to check my blood sugar - 115 mg/dL.

"This so fun, you know," Birdy said, nodding as I took a swig of Gatorade.

And she was right - it was so fun.  I liked being able to fit in some proper activity without having to find baby-sitter, and I really liked having my daughter along for the ride.  Eventually, once she's big enough to ride her own bike, we'll tackle the trails together.  But for now, I'll carry her safely, listening to her exclaim happily from her trailer, "I see peoples, Mama!  More peoples on bicycles with their helmets!!  For safety!!!"

Exclamation point!

September 03, 2012

Labo(u)r Day.

It's Labor Day!  Today is the day after which people are threatened for wearing white pants (or at least in New England), and when people spend time with their families, enjoying the last few moments of summer.

Kid has inherited my carousel GLEE!!!!!

Which is why I wanted to share a few links to bits and bobs in the blogosphere, then go outside.  Bullets?  Yup.

And lastly, my thoughts are with Meri Schuhmacher and her family today as they grapple with the cruelty of cancer.  It's strange, how the passing of someone you've never met can break your heart.  Please give Meri and her family any support that you can.  And as you think of Meri and her family, please hug your own crew close.

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