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Diabetic Pregnancy: 25 Weeks and Counting Slooooowly.

A quick-ish update on pregnancy stuff.  It’s week 25 and I’m deep into the second trimester, just about ready to launch into the third and final lap on this baby stuff.  Warning:  I’m feeling uncomfortable and whiny this evening, so read this post through a lens of hopefully-forgiveable waaaaaaaaah.

Blood sugars.  I have them.  And they continue to be weird.  I remember dialing up my basal rates quite a bit when I was pregnant with my daughter, but this time there’s more focus on my insulin:carb ratios.  (Which, for the record, used to be 1:10 or 1:11 across the board, but now are 1:7 and 1:6.)  My overnights and mornings are very steady, but mid-to-late evening is where I am still falling apart and going higher than I’d like.  My endo has made tweaks.  I remain tweaked. But my A1C is the best it’s ever been in my entire life, so I need to stop bitching.

Doctor’s appointments.  I have them, too, and they all irritate me because I’ve made the horrible decision of anchoring each one in Boston. I trust the medical team at Beth Israel and Joslin (in combination) to help me see this pregnancy through to its successful conclusion, and I know my health and my baby’s health are in good hands with these medical professionals. BUT. I hate the drive into Boston from southern RI. I hate waiting for doctors who are running late (though this was not an issue last Friday – a very nice and welcomed respite from waiting 40 min to an hour to be seen by one doctor). Last week, I had an endo appointment, eye dilation, OB/GYN prenatal visit, and an ultrasound on the same day. I spent six hours in Boston being poked, scanned, and paying for multiple parking garages.

All of this is necessary for the health of me and the baby being built, but at the same time, the stress of trying to coordinate the appointments and corral childcare and take time off from work has been a lot to juggle mentally and physically.  And it causes major whining.  Like, MAJOR. (Like this whole post, perhaps.)

Thankfully, the endo appointment resulted in minor tweaks, the eye dilation showed nothing surprising or panic-inducing, the prenatal visit was an exercise in “Hey, everything looks awesome,” and the ultrasound showed a baby boy who was perfectly in range in terms of size and activity.  My c-section has been scheduled (and is subject to change, depending on how my blood pressure does for the next few weeks), but thankfully, I’m not even on blood pressure meds at the moment since everything is in range.

Lots of checks and balances to make sure everyone is safe.  The end-game is healthy baby, healthy mom.  And I’m on track for both of those things, so I need to keep my head on straight for the next pile of weeks.  But doing that has been hard lately, since I’m pretty freaking uncomfortable.

Planning for August.  Dude, I can’t wait for August.  We’ve dug out all of Birdy’s useable hand-me-downs (including the crib, which needs to be un-dissasembled, and a high-chair that shamefully still had three gluten-free sweet potato puff lodged into the base of it) and my son’s room is painted and somewhat figured out.  And in preparation for his arrival, my travel has been pared down to include just a few more things between now and the impending birthday, leaving me free to expand fully after Friends for Life this summer.

Body issues.  I have those, too.  Because yeah, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have them.  I am expanding, and rapidly at that.  I’ve routinely envied women who carry their babies all beautifully, glowing and happy.  I’m kind of the opposite.  I love being a mom. Period. However, the process of becoming a mother again is hard on my body, and on my emotional state.  I wish I was more graceful and welcoming of all the changes, but I’m grouchy and weirded out by a lot of them. The influx of extra weight makes my body feel uncomfortable, my diabetes harder to manage, and the pregnancy aches and pains are kind of not my thing.  (Although I do like the kicks I’m feeling lately. It’s weird to be so happy about being kicked all day long by someone.) I am grateful this is happening in the first place, and I wouldn’t do anything to change it, but I need to remind myself that the body changes are somewhat temporary. And that I’ll feel normal again.  And that second pregnancies, from what I’ve heard, can be a little weirder than the first because things happen faster. And that it’s okay that my entire face looks different when I’m pregnant, because apparently I carry my babies in my face.

I’m excited to have my son safely out and healthy so I can go back to bending at the waist again without making strange “oooof!” noises.

Distractions.  In effort to distract myself from the discomfort of pregnancy in pursuit of the fruits of my (hopefully brief) labor, I’m easing myself away from the Internet here and there in efforts to be outside more.  I planted a garden.  Also potentially known as “a salad bar for all the asshole deer in my neighborhood.”  I’m eyeballing a children’s book writing class this summer.  I’m researching different writing opportunities, both in the diabetes space and waaaay outside of it.  I’m trying to monitor my emails without becoming a slave to them.  I’m aiming to keep healthy tabs on my pregnancy while also keeping tabs on my job. I’m looking at too many GIFs on the Internet and also missing The Good Wife (oh that finale). My brain is a fruit salad of mostly pineapple and random thoughts.

Basically, I’m slooowly losing my mind but only a few short months to go until my son arrives and I can start snuggling him.  Getting there. GETTING THERE!

Pumps and a Bump.

I don't think MC Hammer meant this the way I am taking it. #diabeticpregnancy

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Unexpected alignment with an MC Hammer song.

Diabetes Blog Week: Tips and Tricks.

Tips and Tricks:  Let’s round out the week by sharing our best diabetes tips and diabetes tricks. From how you organize supplies to how you manage gear on the go/vacation (beach, or skiing, or whatever). From how you keep track of prescription numbers to how you remember to get your orders refilled. How about any “unconventional” diabetes practices, or ways to make diabetes work for YOU (not necessarily how the doctors say to do it!). There’s always something we can learn from each other. (Remember though, please no medical advice or dangerous suggestions.) 

(And for more on the topics of Diabetes Blog Week 2016, click here.)

Let’s jump right in and say that every suggestion I have is borderline dangerous.  Why?  Because I am someone without a medical degree writing about my personal diabetes best practices on the Internet.  That said, anything you read here that’s considered a “tip” or a “trick” is not something you should try without talking to your doctor.  Because I am not a doctor, nor am I your doctor.  And this morning I let the coffee pot run without a coffee cup underneath the spout thing.  Consider your source(s).

That also said, I have close to thirty years of experience with type 1 diabetes, so there is more than a shred of validity to my scope of experience.  If something resonates, party on.  But don’t take any of this stuff as medical advice.  Please.  For the love of god.

KERRI STOP WITH THE CAVEATING OKAY FINE.

Tips and tricks.  Here’s a bulleted list of weird shit I do to make diabetes less intrusive and more malleable:

  • I put Toughpads underneath my Dexcom sensors to keep my allergic reaction to the adhesive at bay.  This works reasonably well – the blistering welts have stopped, but long-standing patches of scaly, raised skin remain for weeks, if not months, at a time.
  • Re: the scaly skin bit, I sprayed anti-fungal spray on the most irritated patch of skin this morning.  Mostly out of frustration, but also because I read somewhere that it might help.  If it does anything useful for healing my skin, I will share that information.  For now, please don’t judge me because I off-labeled the shit out of athlete’s foot spray.
  • Out of pockets?  Wear your insulin pump in your bra (but beware those pesky disco boobs).
  • YOU GUYS THIS t:slim CLIP IS THE BEST.
  • During all three pregnancies (and most notably the two that made it past the first trimester), I downloaded my diabetes devices and examined the data.  This is cumbersome and annoying and one of my least favorite diabetes to-do tasks but it HELPS.  Citing it as a trick or treat tip feels goofy because I should be doing this anyway, but I usually don’t.  And now I do.  And it helps.
  • I charge my devices when I shower.  And since I am a hygeine-freak, I shower very regularly.  I charge my t:slim every three days or so (usually not letting the percentage of charge fall below 50%), and my Dexcom receiver (using the G4, per my doctor’s preference, until I deliver the baby) once or twice a week.  I charge my Verio Sync meter once a week, at best.  A full battery is exciting to me.  Which illustrates how much I need to leave my house today.
  • I keep a charger thing in my car.  And Tandem provides a snazzy one with their pump, which I keep in my glove compartment.  (Hey, disclosure.)  Seems like overkill when you don’t need it, but when you do need a power boost, it’s beyond handy.
  • I also keep a few slips of Opsite Flexifix tape in my wallet.  Has been busted out as necessary on dozens of occasions.
  • And while they are most noted for keeping cans of beer … safe?, I guess? … I have an insulin bottle rubber sleeve to protect the vials.  Has kept more than a few bottles safe from the bathroom tile.

Do you feel tipsy now?  All full of tricksies?  There you go.

Diabetes Blog Week: The Healthcare Experience.

The Healthcare Experience:  Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!

(And for more on the topics of Diabetes Blog Week 2016, click here.)

This one will be short and sweet, thanks to a very tardy publishing schedule today (thank you, child’s ear ache coupled with four different low blood sugars for me during the course of the night), but I’ve written about the healthcare experience before.

I’ve done the “appointment wishlist” thing.  I’ve wanted to build my own doctor’s appointment.  And marveled at the weird airport departure-esque board noting the on-time arrival of HCPs.  I’ve rolled around in the healthcare hamster wheel.  I’ve even been tested to confirm my type 1 diabetes … after living with type 1 diabetes for over 28 years.

And as a patient with decent insurance and excellent coverage for different diabetes related devices at the moment, my chief complaint, and subsequent request, regarding the healthcare system is simple, but firm:

BE ON TIME.

Diabetes is a time suck, even on its best days, and the less time I can spend dedicated to diabetes, the better.  But I can’t skimp on checking my glucose ever morning or changing my pump site every few days.  Logging blood sugar data is important, too.  So is making the time and effort to eat right and exercise.

And hot damn, all of those doctor’s appointments take up a lot of time, but they are important and proactive and necessary but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, waiting over an hour to see an HCP is completely ridiculous.  More often than not, my doctors are late.  Please.  Be on time.  I’m on time.  Please be on time.  The doctors are terrific, but the system is making access to them inconvenient at best and impossible at worst.  Wasting a whole day going to the doctor is not the best way to keep me motivated; if anything, it’s incentive to cancel appointments and reschedule.

Be on time.  Please.  Please.  Please.

Diabetes Blog Week: Language and Diabetes.

Language and Diabetes:  There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I’m willing to bet we’ve all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.

(And for more on the topics of Diabetes Blog Week 2016, click here.)

Language matters.  The words we use matter.

Some words make me all fired up, like “consumer.”  I am a consumer when it comes to cars, or coats, or snow blowers.  When it comes to diabetes, I’m not a consumer.  I would never choose to consume these goods; they are chosen out of the desire to stay alive.  I don’t like “suffering from diabetes” because it makes me feel weak and compromised, which stands in contrast to where I prefer to anchor my emotions about diabetes.  And I totally hate the concept of “good” and “bad” blood sugars.  That whole ideology can fuck off in favor of “in range” and “out of range.”

I appreciate the word “complications” because its connotation is perfect for how I feel about diabetes-related complications; that shit is complicated.  I like the word “empowered” because it reminds me that I have a say in how this whole life maps out, diabetes or not.  I like any words and phrases that tie the physical aspects of diabetes to the emotional ones.  I latch on actively to “hope” versus fear.  And I like being called “Kerri” instead of “diabetic,” but hey, that’s just me.

(And I really like certain curse words, but I am trying to use those less, but it’s difficult.  I don’t make insulin, I do make use of curse words.  It’s a terrible habit, but one I am not changing.)

But it’s not about the words we shouldn’t use, or the ones that seem potentially loaded.  This morning, after hearing about the death of a fellow advocate (outside of the diabetes space), I’m spinning with thoughts of the words I wish I used more, the things I wish I said.  The things I should say.

Like “thanks for sharing this.”  I think this every time I read a blog post, or a Tweet, or a Facebook update from someone and it makes me stop and think.  The DOC is filled with voices that challenge what I thought I knew, and who teach me how to re-examine my chronic illness with grace and determination or perspective or humility … or all of it.  I like the way they think.  I like what they say.

And “How are you feeling today?”  I interact with a lot of people touched by illness – patients, consumers, caregivers … whatever word words for you in this way – and their stories touch me.  A lot of the time, I absorb what they’re saying and store it away in my head, but I want to reach out more, ask “how are you feeling today?”  I want the people in our community, and outside of it, to know how much I appreciate what it takes to share their stories, even when they are worn out by doing it, by living it.  A little ask goes a long way.

Or “You aren’t alone; how can I help?”  Because sometimes people share to get things off their chest (“I hate low blood sugars!”), but other times they reach out in hopes of someone reaching back (“I feel so alone with diabetes.”)  Words matter, and hearing, “You aren’t alone; how can I help?” might make a difference.

And “I’m sorry.”  Because I am.

But mostly “thank you” and sometimes, “I love you.”  Over the last few years, there have been people who have come and gone from my life that left lasting impressions, and I bet I didn’t tell them “thank you” and “I love you” nearly as much as I should have.  I know I thought it – thought it a lot after they were gone – but I should have said it then.  When they were here.  When they could hear me and understand the influence they’ve had on my life, the positive mark they’ve left on my existence, and the ways they’ve rocked my world for the better.

Words matter.  Stories matter.  People matter.  So thank you.  And even though you’re reading these words on a glowing screen and we’re communicating mostly through a digital medium, you are part of a community that has forever changed me.

 

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