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Archive for July, 2013

Bikinis and Boluses.

In keeping with the theme of revisiting older posts this week, I’m looking back at an Animas video about bringing diabetes to the beach.  You know, for people who wear their cell phones into the water.

One thing I’ll add:  those little pump cap things that come in the packages of infusion sites, for both Animas and Medtronic?  Use them at the beach.  Salt water caked up in an infusion set makes reattachment a PITA.

Looking Back: Domino, Yo.

It’s Deadline Week, and I’m in the process of red-penning a writing project.  Actually, I’m taking a red pen to just about everything in my house, including the cat.  (The cat needed her tail edited down – waaay too fluffy.) While I finish word-murdering everything in my house, I’m revisiting some earlier posts from the SUM archives.  Today, I’m looking back at the power of branding, written back in 2010.

*   *   *

Do you guys have Splenda or Equal or anything?”

The waitress leaned in to hear Chris asking over the din of the restaurant.  “What?”

We were at a hibachi restaurant with NBF and her husband, celebrating.  The place was dark, the music was pulsing, and the waitress was from another planet, I think.

“Splenda?  Or Equal?  Or something?  Do you guys have any of that?”  He gestured towards his tea.

The waitress nodded her head.  “Yeah, we have Sweet n’ Low and Domino.”

All four of us stopped and turned slowly towards her (Like in that StrongBad email when he’s at the movies and slowly turns towards the popcorn-eating Cheat.  Click the link – it will make more sense.  And it’s SFW.)  Chris shook his head.

“Domino?  What is that?  Is that like a generic Splenda or something?”

“Domino?  It’s sugar.  White sugar?”  The waitress twirled her pen between her fingers as she waited for Chris to decide.

“Oh.  Okay, I’ll have two Sweet n’ Low, please.”

She walked away, and the four of us held a quick conference.

“Did she seriously just call sugar ‘Domino?’ What is Domino?”  I asked, confused.

“I think it’s that brand of sugar.  Domino?”  NBF said, furrowing her brow.

A smile tugged at the corner of Chris’s mouth.  “I would have known what she meant if she had just said ‘sugar.’  Either way, I’m safe.  I asked for Sweet n’ Low.”

I couldn’t stop giggling.  Domino?  I have never, ever heard someone call it that before.  Who calls table sugar by its brand name?  (“Oh this?  This here is Stop & Shop brand table sugar.  Want some?”)  And it wasn’t so much that she called it by its brand name, but more that she said it all tough, like Domino was the street name for some sinister version of sugar.

By the time the waitress came back, we were are laughing too hard to order.  So she just plunked down the two packets Chris had asked for on the table.

Of course, she didn’t bring the pink packets.

She brought the Domino, yo.

Looking Back: Rocco Returns.

After staring into the refrigerator for several minutes this morning, debating what to have for breakfast, my stomach was growling madly before I came to an egg-and-avocado conclusion.  It’s been a while since I’ve felt sincerely and frustratingly hungry, reminding me of dear Rocco.  So today, I’m looking back to a post about the bear who lives in my stomach.

 *    *    *

I should have packed more food.  What was I thinking, bringing lunch only?  Oh man, am I hungry.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Kerri, Kerri.  You have a delicious spread of portabella chicken and spinach for lunch, complete with a drizzled bit of balsamic dressing.  Can’t you just have your lunch early?

Stomach:  Give it up, Speaker.  It’s snack time.  Snack time never

includes healthy.  Snack time is ravenous.  Kerri, go downstairs and get a peppermint patty from the diner.

But I don’t even like peppermint patties.  I want a Nutrigrain bar.

Stomach:  I don’t care if you like it or not.  It’s almost ten-thirty.  You’ve given me nothing but coffee.  Rocco doesn’t like coffee, Kerri.

Growling from the pits of my stomach.  The chain rattles and I can hear him breathing heavily, scraping his paws along the floor. 

Internal Motivational Speaker:  (panicked squeal) Oh, hi Rocco!  I see you have a new chain.  That’s a lovely new chain.  (nervous laugh)  Have you done something different with your fur?

Rocco growls and leans against his chain, the links straining against one another.

Stomach:  Easy there, Rock.  It’s cool, buddy.  Kerri is going to go downstairs and grab you a blueberry Nutrigrain bar.  You like those, don’tcha?

Rocco puffs out his bear breath and plunks down on his haunches, waiting.  My stomach lurches a bit.  I need something to eat.  I get up from my desk chair and grab a dollar from my wallet.  Rocco starts to purr, as much as a bear can.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Oh no.  No, no Miss Kerri.  Nutrigrain bars have high fructose corn syrup in them.  Not to mention almost 25 grams of carbohydrates.  You have that package of almonds in your drawer.  Why not snack on those?  Do you really need a high-carb indulgence right now?  I mean …

Stomach:  Lady, do you ever take a breath?  Let the girl have her Nutrigrain bar.  It’s not like she’s going to have a side of soft-serve ice cream with it.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I am sick and tired of you bossing me around!  I don’t care that you have your fancy pepsinogen and that Pyloric sphincter.  (her voice crescendos to a vehement peak)  You aren’t the boss of me.  I have every right to my opinions!

Stomach:  All you do is nag!  Eat this, don’t eat this.  Spend all that money on organic foods.  Don’t drink too much caffiene.  Make sure you test.  Make sure you bolus.  Cripes, can’t she have a break?

Internal Motivational Speaker:  No!  This is full time!  Twenty-four hours a day.  I work long hours, you know, Stomach.  Some of us don’t have the luxury of taking our time to digest!

Rocco looks at me with pleading eyes.  “Growl, growl.”  I know, Rocco.  I’m starving.  Let’s go downstairs and get a snack while they’re arguing. 

Stomach:  Do you ever stop?

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Does your mom ever stop?

Stomach:  Don’t you be bringing my mom into this!

Dollar clutched in my hand and leading Rocco by his chain, we sneak out.  A few minutes later, I’m bolusing for the 25 grams of carbohydrate and Rocco is licking blueberry Nutrigrain crumbs off his paws.

Low Hangover.

This morning, in the shower, I heard the Dexcom start to wail.  Actually, I heard Birdy mimicking the Dexcom low alarm from the bathroom floor, where she was hanging out and coloring with crayons while I took a shower (Chris was away and in a meeting all day, so I was solo-parenting).

“Beeeep, beeeeeep,” she sang in a tuneless sort of way, sticking out her tongue while she worked her blue crayon in Mickey Mouse’s shoes.  “Hey mawm, your Dexcom is saying you need glupose tabs.”

I knew she, and the Dexcom, were right because, at that moment, I was wondering if I had already put conditioner in my hair.  I couldn’t remember.  I also wasn’t sure how long I had been in the shower, but judging by the fact that Birdy hadn’t colored much of her picture yet, I guess I hadn’t been in there too long.

I rinsed off quickly and turned off the shower, grabbing my towel and wrapping it around myself in a hurry.  Just a few feet away, in my medicine cabinet, were two jars of Glucolift, and I grabbed one and popped it open in a hurry.

“You okay, mawm?”

I ate three glucose tabs as quickly as I could – barely chewed them – as I felt the shakes and the confusion of hypoglycemia setting in.  “I’m good, kiddo.  Nothing to worry about.”

“Whoa bwoodsugar?”

“Yes.  But I’ll eat lots of glucose tabs and then I’ll feel better.”

It wasn’t working fast enough, though.  Even though the house was nice and cool – a brisk 64 degrees and raining outside, making for comfortable indoor temperatures – sweat was beading up on my forehead and my face was the color of a cotton ball.   Even though I knew I had glucose tabs in my mouth, I had to remind my jaw to chew them, as the lower half of my face had gone numb, as though I had just experienced the teeth-pulling of a lifetime.

Somehow, I managed to get dressed and corral my daughter and I into my bedroom, where I shut the door and sat on the floor her, trying to mitigate damage.  I didn’t want her walking anywhere near our staircase (for fear of tumbling down the stairs), and I couldn’t risk not being able to chase her if she ended up getting into something.  This was my low blood sugar, but I needed to make sure it wasn’t a problem for her, too.

“Let’s sit here and write notes to one another, with these crayons, while mommy’s blood sugar comes up, okay?”  I sat with my phone next to one hand, the jar of glucose tabs next to the other, and the room tilting gently on its axis.

“That sounds like a good idea.  Do you feel better soon, mawm?”

“I will.  Just a few minutes and I’ll be all set.”

It took a really long time for this blood sugar to net out to the point where I felt comfortable checking (30 minutes into the experience, I was only up to 109 mg/dL) and now, five hours later, the low hangover is intense.  I’ve never had one like this before, where I’m happier asking Birdy to watch a movie with me and lay down on the couch instead of the dance party I had promised her.  (What – you don’t have toddler dance parties to George Michaels’s songs from the early 90s?)  I don’t know how low my blood sugar actually was (made more sense to cut to the chase and treat the obvious low), but I do know that it has left a day of lethargy and hollow eyes in its wake.

Diabetes, after I take a nap, I am totally going to resume (yawn) kicking your ass.

Postcards from Eddie.

Sometimes the only concrete proof that diabetes hasn’t been with me forever are the cards my classmates sent.  Made from Manila paper, the kind found in abundance in elementary school, the kids in my class used their Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils and a fistful of crayons to let me know they were thinking about me.

“Dear Kerri, I heard you were sick.  We cleaned out our desks yesterday.  You left your lunch here.  The pear was all rotten.  Hope you feel better soon.  – Mike.”  This card was illustrated in pencil, showing a skeleton picking up a spoiled bag lunch from the garbage can.

“Dear Kerri, Get well soon!  Love, Megan.”  A rainbow of three colors, – pink, blue, and purple – sprawled across the sky, represented by one line.  A tree with two apples hanging enormously from its branches stood exactly the same height as the building labeled “Hospitoll”.

These cards are safely packed away, somewhere at my dad’s house, with the pee alarm and the old blue comfort pillow that I used to clutch while I sucked my thumb.  My mother always claimed that she’d give me these things before my wedding day, a promise she followed through on when my husband and I married in 2008.

Even if I never see them again, I remember the cards.  I remember snippets of those years like they were postcards from someone else’s life.

A picture of the carousel near my childhood home brings back memories of black raspberry ice creams, riding my bike into the village with that Jack of Hearts card stuck in the rear tire, and collecting the perfect, miniature shells that washed up on the shoreline after the hurricanes made their tour.  No memories of a finger stick or an injection.  But I do remember that, if I rode my bike all the way to the beach, I could have ice cream without taking a shot.

I don’t remember everything about my diagnosis.  They spoke mostly to my parents.  My dad paced the room and looked out the window.  My mom sat at the table with the endocrinologist, listening and taking notes.  Books on long and short acting insulin, a proposed diet, and a chart to log my blood sugars slid across the table.

I wasn’t paying too much attention to these attempts at education.  The 13 year old boy who shared my hospital room had been bitten by a poisonous spider and was hooked up to an IV drip bag that I found much more interesting.  The bite mark was an angry pink and the boy said it itched tremendously.  He and his IV pole and me with my Kitty sat in the children’s ward and watched television.  He introduced himself as Eddie.  I told him my name, too.

“What are you in for?”  He raked his fingers down the side of his ankle, where the bite waged war on his immune system.

“I have diabetes.”

“Oh.  I’ve got a spider bite.”

“Wow.  Can I see it?”

“Sure.”  He rolled up his pant leg and exposed the sore.  “Where’s yours?”

“I don’t have any marks on me,” I responded.  We watched TV while our parents talked to doctors.

In a box in my attic today, I found a postcard from Eddie.  We corresponded as pen pals for for several years.  I remember writing to him about cats and going to the beach, ice cream and bike rides, but never diabetes.

Keeping the Dexcom Stuck.

It’s been almost a year since the first itchy, blistering rashes showed up underneath my Dexcom sensors, but by taking a very peculiar set of precautions, the rashes are all but gone.  Thanks to the use of the J&J Toughpad underneath my Dexcom sensors, I’m able to go a full seven (plus!) days without reacting rashly.

So yay! for no rash.  But now keeping that sucker stuck is another issue entirely.

It’s not just the sensor that I’m trying to keep stuck, but the whole Toughpad/sensor combination.  Peeling edges of any kind create a domino effect where, if not addressed immediately, the whole sensor will just flop the eff off.  (Like on those days when I put a new sensor on and then pull on a pair of pants.  If the edge of the Toughpad gets compromised in any way, with rolling edges or peeling, that sensor has a life shorter my fuse … which is unfortunately quite short.)

The life of my average Dexcom G4 sensor goes as follows:

  • Prep my skin by taking a shower.  (Or, if I haven’t just showered, I wash my skin with soap and water and let it dry before starting the application process.)
  • Warm up the Toughpad by rubbing it vigorously in my hand.  (HA!  Mis-wrote that as “rubbing it vigorously with my nad” at first.  Nad warming.  Bwaaa haaaa!)
  • Stick the Toughpad to my skin and press firmly, making sure it’s stuck.
  • Remove the adhesive backing from the Dexcom sensor and place the sensor on top of the Toughpad, so that none of the sensor adhesive is touching my skin.
  • Install the sensor.  And roll on with it, as is, for a few days.
  • Once the Toughpad starts to peel (usually around day three or four), I slap some magical Opsite Flexifix tape on the edges.
  • Once the tape is starting to peel and the edges of the Toughpad are lifting away from my skin a little bit, I use the teeny, super-sharp scissors from my sewing kit and snip away the un-stuck edges of tape and Toughpad, leaving a smaller ring of Toughpad around the sensor base.
  • Then I tape that shit down again.
  • This snip-and-tape process goes on for as long as I can manage, helping prolong the life of the sensor and to also keep my frustration at a reasonable level.  See the photo above for a Dexcom sensor/Toughpad combo that’s been whittled down.

I don’t know why it works, but it does, and it helps keep my Dexcom sensor stuck for the FDA-approved seven days … and then some.

Here’s a link to the Opsite Flexifix tape, and to the Toughpads, in case you’re interested in checking them out.

Tuesday Tidbits.

Yes, I already hate myself for using that awful title.  Sounds like it comes with a side of everything-in-the-desk-drawer-of-an-elementary-school-teacher.  I’m at the tail-end of a big writing project, so while my brain is mostly occupied by that, there are still thoughts, unrelated, that have managed to escape.  And here they are, in a bulleted list.

  • The JDRF is looking for feedback as it relates to diabetes and technology.  If you’d like to give your opinion on pumps, CGMs, and all our other assorted robot parts, click through to this survey.
  • Little girls designing superhero costumes?  Right up my alley.
  • The DX is hosting an article from me about What I Didn’t Expect while I was pregnant.  It’s strange looking back three years to when I was in baby-building mode.
  • “Blood glucose test strips are at the center of diabetes life. The FDA acknowledges there are inaccurate strips in the marketplace but has no process to remove them. People with diabetes are at risk from inaccurate strips. Let’s change that.”  YES – let’s!!!
  • Frog in a Blender.  I remember this from a really long time ago.  It’s still awesome/gross.
  • Diabetes Mine is looking for submissions for their Patient Voices Scholarship program, and also for a survey on diabetes and technology (I sense a bulleted theme).  Check out Amy’s post for details.
  • Blogger Buzz Bishop writes about his perceptions of diabetes camp, and why it’s so important.
  • I love Molly’s recap of her first Friends for Life conference.
  • Lemonade doughnuts – their very existence – is cruel and unusual punishment, since I love lemonade and have been petitioning for lemonade-flavored glucose tabs, toothpaste, and grills (not the Weber variety) for at least sixteen minutes.  Dunkin Doughnuts made one.  And even the Gothamist can’t convince me to avoid it entirely.
  • Rhody-local newscasters actually broadcasted a piece on bear safety.  Our news teams are hard hitting.
  • This post, from Happy Medium, is the most amazing piece, in my opinion, to come out of Check In day yesterday.  “If you make a difference in someone’s life by writing, by tweeting, by instagraming, then you are a hero. That is a fact. Even if the only difference you make is in your own life.”  Brilliantly said.  If you haven’t read it already, please read his post.

Onward towards deadlines!  And stuff!

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