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Archive for September, 2013

Weird Together.

“I travel a bit and go to conferences and events where there are people who have diabetes, too.  It can be kind of isolating, diabetes, so knowing other people who have it makes it easier to manage on all levels.  Does that make sense?”

“Yeah.  It’s like, ‘Hey, we’re weird together.’  And when you’re weird together, you get closer.”

That Guy George From the Plane (TGGFtP) and I spent the flight from San Francisco to Chicago sitting next to one another, talking first about how hung over he was (he was in San Francisco for a bachelor party and had a collection of air sickness bags in his seat pocket, jokingly at the ready) and then touching into trickier topics, like religion, politics, healthcare, and other topics that Miss Manners suggests keeping to yourself.

But honestly, after all the time I’ve spent in planes this past week (BOS -> LHR -> BCN -> SFO -> MDW -> PVD = WTF), I was happy to talk to someone, instead of picking through emails.

I laughed, harder than I’d meant to.  “Yes, that’s it.  That’s it, exactly, and a very eloquent description, at that.”

It’s true, though.  Even though I don’t have friendly feelings towards every person with diabetes I’ve ever encountered due to personalities, preferences, and proximity, there still is a strange draw to them.  It’s intrinsic.  At the MedX conference this past weekend, I was in a conference room with three PWD I knew (Sara, Chris, and myself), but when I heard a Medtronic pump go off somewhere a few rows behind me, I was intrigued and started doing the math.

“Sara and I are on Animas, so we don’t make the boop beep boop sound, and Chris is on MDI, so that’s not him going off.  Who is it?”

The boop beep boop’er didn’t make their presence known, and I didn’t pry, but if that person came up to me and needed to bum a fresh lancet or a test strip or a fistful of glucose tabs, I would have emptied my pockets for them, no questions asked.  There’s a level of understanding in play that’s automatic, and feels downright autonomic.

George was right:  I like having people to be weird together with.  And I like the fact that being weird together makes us closer.

Diabetes Reality, Reframed.

Recently, I read a blog post about the concept of “reality reframed,” which is basically the photo practice of cropping-out of the tougher stuff in life, and giving focus to the positive and “prettied up” stuff.

As Tracey wrote:

“I figure instead of abandoning the art I love, I will show the reality along side of it. This is how the idea of reality reframed came about; sharing a snapshot of the bigger picture first and right next to it the snippet of I choose to look at it. I’ve never really done anything quite like this before but by revealing this part of the picture I hope that anyone watching will feel less alone in their own imperfect life. And I also hope that I can really drive the point home that you can excavate photo-worthy magic from everyday life, no matter how messy it gets. It’s part of the practice of elevating the everyday.”

I thought her statement was brilliant, and it really got me thinking about how diabetes bloggers, and all patient communities online, reframe the reality of their health condition.  We write about the stuff that sucks and the stuff we celebrate, and all the mess in between.  I love sharing a bright, shiny 100 mg/dL on my meter, or a Dexcom no-hitter, and documenting those moments gives me a lift on the days when numbers aren’t so bright, or shiny, but the Big Picture also needs to be shared, giving context to those blood sugar numbers.

Diabetes isn’t a perfect math where you can just solve for X.  Usually, we’re solving for ‘why.’  And part of that equation is acknowledging, and appreciating, the sum of our community and what we document, every day.  We are reframing the reality of our disease by sharing, showing people, and ourselves, that diabetes is a constant exercise in solving for why.  Managing diabetes takes a ton of hard work, and we work hard for the health we maintain.

Some days are easy, others are difficult, but none are absent effort.

Today, I’m appreciating the fact that so many people with diabetes are willing to share their stories, letting strangers look into their lives via a window on the Internet, finding pieces of themselves in the words written by others.  Telling our stories, and expanding the perceptions of what diabetes really requires, can be so powerful.  To tweak Tracey’s sentiment, you can excavate magic from everyday life with diabetes, no matter how messy it gets.

European Blogger Summit: Photo.

The time zone shuffle isn’t doing much for me, in terms of finding words to describe this meeting and Internet to send out those words, so for now I have a photo of the amazing fellow PWD I’ve had the pleasure of seeing here at EASD, and a big thanks to them for doing all the work they do.

Flight Risk.

I’m not a fan of traveling by air (major understatement) and my flight-related anxiety has ebbed and flowed over the last few years.  Actually, it’s been way more flow than ebb, because traveling by plane has a direct and predictable influence on my blood sugars, in that the anxiety of air travel causes my blood sugar to rise with the plane.

What amazes me is that even with a 200% basal increase and a conservative correction while I watched the double-up arrows on my Dexcom graph, my blood sugars still went berserk.  (Thankfully, the Dexcom showed me up in the 300′s, while my meter only had me in the 230′s.  But still.  And yes, I know I need to calibrate.  You can also see where my connection flight took off, riiiiiight there at the 3.30 am-ish mark.)

Even though I know emotions are on the long list of variables, it still amazes me how something as intangible as stress can be as powerful as food or insulin when it comes to tangling up my blood sugars.

Zookeeper.

I am the zookeeper today.  The keeper of the zoo of chaos.  The same zoo that the cat keeps walking through, like Loopzilla.  With a test strip in her Zoopzilla mouth, no less.

Whoops.

Anti-Rant.

Recently, I stumbled onto a site called Daily Prompt, and I have used it from time to time to jostle the thoughts in my head into a more respectable state.  This was a prompt from last week:  “The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone).”

I’m thankful for so many BIG things, like my family and my friends, but there are so many little things that deserve recognition.  Time for a bullet list o’ thankfulness, you say?  I couldn’t agree more.

  • I’m thankful for the fact that hazelnut coffee was on sale at the market and now I’m up to my ears in it and joy.
  • I love when my daughter burps – delicately, of course because she is a precious flower that wouldn’t ever dare let a raucous burp escape her rosebud mouth … nooooooo – and then blames it on Loopy.  “Hey, our kitten burped!  Say excuse me, Loopy.”
  • I enjoy Loopy, especially when she grabs Birdy’s little watercolor paintbrush off the floor and goes berserk with it.
  • I also enjoy seeing Siah and Loopy sitting next to each other.  It’s like watching Siah sitting next to a time travel mirror, with the reflection as her younger self.
  • I’m thankful that my daughter suggested I put my infusion set on my butt cheek.  Granted, she laughs at me all the time (“You have your pump on your butt!!” and then she collapses into a pile of her own giggles), but it’s new diabetes real estate for me, and it’s working out well.
  • I really like the Léon Foucault Google doodle today.  And this full list of Google doodles is awesome to poke around in.
  • I am thankful for going to bed with a blood sugar of 136 mg/dL and waking up at 136 mg/dL.  That seems like diabetes magic.
  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit Barcelona next week for the EASD meeting, having the opportunity to connect with friends from different time zones.
  • I was thankful that the mailbox yesterday had more real mail (packages, cards from friends, books) than bills.  That’s a first.
  • I’m thankful that we have a new dishwasher that actually cleans the dishes and doesn’t just cycle for an hour and then smell like burnt jewelry.
  • I’m thankful that the new Tom Odell album is available on Spotify.
  • Same for the Arctic Monkeys one.
  • See also:  Half Moon Run.
  • I’m thankful to have brave friends like The Briley, who is forcing herself out of her comfort zone this weekend and running her first half marathon … with type 1 diabetes, no less.  Cheer her on!
  • I’m also thankful for Scott and George.  They know why.
  • I love listening to Chris read out loud to our daughter before bed at night.
  • I’m thankful for Internet, and all the strange rangers who live on it.
  • I’m thankful for grapes, oddly enough.  The ones we bought this week are perfectly crisp and taste awesome.
  • And I’m thankful for Spibelt, who make it possible for me to bring glucose tabs, my Dexcom receiver, and car key when I feel the need to run out my stress.

You want to embrace the anti-rant today, too, you say?  Do it.  It helps peel back some of life’s yuck.

Short Dexcom Break.

It’s not just a matter of slapping on a new sensor, queuing it up, and making use of the data once it’s available on the graph.  Wearing a Dexcom sensor has now become this intricate pseudo-science of site rotation, skin maintenance, and scheduling, thanks to the dreaded Dexcom rash.

My first skin irritation from the Dexcom sensor popped up in August 2012.  It seemed that, overnight, my skin bloomed into this gross, oozing rash underneath the sensor adhesive, making me pull the sensor off after barely 24 hours due to excessive itch and irritation.  At first, I left sensors on too long, coaxing a bright red, blistering rash out on my skin.  It was nasty.  It looked like a chemical burn, and it itched like a son-of-a-bitch.  (How literal is that expression?  Also, there’s a whole Wiki entry on the word “bitch” and it’s fascinating.)

Now, over a year later, keeping the Dexcom as part of my life means bringing in some extra bits and pieces, things like a steroid inhaler, adhesive tape, and wound patches to act as skin barriers.  90% of the time, these strategies work great and I’m able to earn the FDA-approved seven days out of each sensor, without compromising accuracy or comfort.  Usually, one sensor is pulled and I put a new one on immediately, leaving me data-free for only the two hour calibration period.  Seven day seems to be enough time for one site to heal while I use another one, so the rotation from thigh-to-thigh works really well.

But 10% of the time, I need to take a break for a few days in order to let my skin heal.

I’m currently in that 10% moment, and it sort of sucks, because I miss that data security, big time.

After pulling my sensor off on Monday morning, I noticed that my skin was redder than usual, and a little puffy from reaction to the adhesive.  It itched like mad, and looked angry.  I’m traveling for work next week, so I want to make sure the sensor I have on as I’m switching time zones and taking red-eye flights is good to go.  I decided to give my skin a two or three day break, planning to stick the new sensor on Thursday morning so it would be in awesome-mode by the weekend.

I’ve been wearing the Dexcom every single day (with few exceptions) since I was pregnant, and being without the CGM data is a hard adjustment.  Before bed is particularly tricky, because I rely on the IOB on my pump and the direction of my CGM graph to dictate whether or not I set an alarm for 3 am to check my blood sugar.

Last night:  My blood sugar was 182 mg/dL before bed at midnight.  I had eaten a late meal (10.15 pm), so there was some insulin on board from that bolus.  I had gone to the gym to run around 7 pm, so there was residual exercise in the mix, too.  Normally, I’d pop my low alarm up to 70 mg/dL on the Dexcom and stick it in a glass overnight, but without the CGM to help guide me, I set the alarm for 3.30 am.

(In)Conveniently, Birdy woke up at 2 am, so I tested then (150 mg/dL).  I took a correction bolus and checked again at 3.30 am (110 mg/dL), and woke up this morning at 104 mg/dL.

Even though it worked out fine, blood sugar-wise, it was the insecurity of not having access to streaming blood sugar data that made me twitch.  The sensor is bulky and the receiver is easy to forget, at times, but the inconvenience of robot parts is outweighed by the information I get from a CGM.

… which makes me look forward to Thursday’s sensor reboot almost as much as I’m looking forward to Sunday’s second-to-last Breaking Bad.  :)

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