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Tamagotchi Diabetes.

Remember the little Tamagotchi pets that were creepy/trendy 20 years ago?  (Yes, that was 20 years ago.  I’ll wait while you pluck out the gray hairs.)  As much as I wanted to not give a shit about that weird little egg, I did.  I wanted to press the buttons and feed it, pet it, care for it, and when the little X’s over the eyes popped up because I killed it, I felt like a crumb because I failed at doing the simple tasks required to keep it alive.

So much of the public perception of life with diabetes is that it runs Tamagotchi-style, a simple matter of pushing the right buttons and following the formula.  But diabetes doesn’t always run within the rules.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the last few decades with diabetes, it’s to always hope – hard – for the best but to be prepared for the inevitable hiccups.

Not in a “woe” sort of way, but more like avoiding the “whoa.”

Like this past weekend, when Chris and I took Birdzone to Maine for a few days.  It makes absolutely zero sense to me that a three hour drive would produce lingering low blood sugars, but playing on the beach would give rise (literally) to my Dexcom graph.  Eating the same breakfast two days in a row produced wildly different post-prandial numbers, despite similar fasting blood sugars and insulin doses.  Nothing went foul (fowl, in keeping with the digital chicken theme?) because I was pressed the buttons, fed it, petted it, cared for it, but it was paying it mind instead of “set it and forget it” that kept me between the lines.

“You just take your insulin and avoid sugar, yes?”

Run around and collect things, with the main requirement for success being to stick to the task list?  Dude, I wish.

Gone Offline!

After too much time away from my family, I need to keep this laptop lid slammed shut for a few days.  See you next week!

Dexcom Rash.

The itch started back in July 2012, when I pulled off a Dexcom sensor and saw a prickly, hive-ish rash underneath where the sensor and transmitter had been placed.  Blaming it on the summer heat and the recycled, dry air of airplane cabins, I figured it was a one-time thing and I’d be sorted out on the following sensor placement.

Which ended up being an “oh hell no – here’s a big, fat rash from the adhesive” experience instead.  I don’t know what changed (the adhesive? my body’s chemistry? my skin sloughed off overnight and was replaced by Super Sensitive Skin?), but I do know that I need to take some extra precautions to this day in order to comfortably wear my Dexcom sensor.

A search phrase that leads folks to SUM is often “Dexcom rash,” so I wanted to make sure that information was easily findable.  Not being able to wear the Dexcom due to adhesive reaction/allergy was frustrating, so if this information can help make life easier for PWD who want CGM data, I’m all in.

Here is some decidedly NON-MEDICAL, ANECDOTAL (talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medical regimen, please and thank you) solutions aimed at avoiding the Dexcom rash.

I’ve used a few different methods to help keep the Dexcom stuck, or to avoid the rash, but the regimen that has been tried-and-true and actually working for the last year and a half is this:

  • After showering, make sure the skin is completely dry.
  • In the colder months, when the air is dry and the heat in the house makes my skin particularly sensitive, I spray a blast or two of steroid inhaler on my skin where the sensor is to be placed.  This is a method I learned about from a reader, and discussed with my endocrinologist before trying.  She thought I was bananas, but she gave me the go-ahead anyway.
  • After applying the inhaler blast (but in mild weather, without applying it), I placed a Johnson & Johnson Tough Pad against my skin.  (It’s like a thick, gel-ish bandaid.)
  • I stick the Dexcom sensor over the Tough Pad (so that none of the sensor adhesive is touching my skin) and insert the sensor straight through the Tough Pad.
  • Then it’s business as usual – stick the transmitter in and start up the receiver!

Usually I can get the recommended seven days without having any kind of skin flare up, and when the sensor starts to peel away prematurely, I stick some Opsite Flexifix tape onto the loose bits to keep things stuck.

And that’s it.  It’s not medical advice, but it is a way to bypass the potential rash and to continue use of a medical device I rely on to help keep me safe.  I hate itching … unless it’s that advocacy itch.

[Disclosure page]

 

Sparkly, Like Her Shoes.

As a family, we went to dinner and Birdy’s sequin-covered shoes sparkled furiously in the afternoon sunlight.  Her shoes were downright distracting and I found myself low-staring at them, focusing on the individual sparkles being projected onto the tablecloth at the restaurant.  My brain had hit an uncomfortably steady pace with the anxiety of being under 60 mg/dL for more than two hours, adjusting to the panic but still needing an outlet.  Staring at the glitter on my daughter’s shoes calmed my brain down just enough.

We ordered and ate, and a meal plated with carbs and less-than-normal bolusing still didn’t battle back against the low alarm from my Dexcom.  I felt like a failure, asking Chris to grab a glass of juice from the waitress as my empty dinner plate sat in front of me.

“I’m still low.”  I tested my blood sugar again, hoping to see a number that didn’t require more glucose tabs, hoping the Dexcom was wrong, but a bright 43 mg/dL grinned back at me.  I knew the food would hit but not fast enough.  “Yeah, I need juice now.”

In a quiet hurry, I heard the background noise of hypo management done from a distance.  “I need a glass of juice.”  “Would you like lemonade?”  “No, juice.  Do you have orange juice?”  “We have apple juice.”  “That, then.  Please.”  Chris sat back down at the table while Birdy bounced and played beside me, her shoes throwing sparkles onto the table that were spreading out everywhere, my eyes starting to cave to the low blood sugar.  Peripheral vision was being replaced by these starbursts that were sparkly, like her shoes.  I felt my body pulling in tight and rallying glucose, sending it to the places that were necessary and not caring that I couldn’t hold a fork or keep my mouth from twisting into a resting bitch face/uncomfortable grimace.

Dinner tumbled into a pile of apologies and distractions because I couldn’t get my wits about me, and even once my blood sugar was stable (back up to 72 mg/dL), it still wasn’t staying up, and tumbled again a few more times before bed.

It doesn’t look like much, from the outside.  It’s hard to explain how silent the panic is, how evacuated my brain feels when the hypos hit and stay for too long.  I don’t know how to show someone a Dexcom graph that looks like this and explain how it’s not just the blood sugar number, but the cumulative effect on my body – the exhaustion in my muscles from being clenched in fight-or-flight mode, the sleep my brain needs after a five hour low blood sugar experience, my inability to find the words for what I want to say because my mind is just like, “We’re DONE.”

I woke up with a blood sugar of 230 mg/dL this morning, the product of answering low alarms with frustration and marshmallows, and I corrected the number with the predetermined, carefully calculated amount of insulin.  And I hoped that, for today, diabetes would leave the sparkles on my daughter’s shoes.

I’m That Type.

Last night closed out a long week+ of travel, and it closed out with style at the JDRF TypeOneNation Texas event, where I was honored to be a presenter at the conference (talking about balancing diabetesHEY-O! – and getting the most out of your medical appointments).  More on those sessions once I dive into this basin of coffee, but I did want to share one of my favorite visuals from the conference:  this board –>

This was a board where people could write who they were at the conference in support of, and they could share their thoughts on the theme of the conference, which was “I’m the ______ type.”  Fill-in-the-blank sorts of things used to remind me of school, but now they remind me of some of my favorite #dsma chat nights, so watching this board fill up was eye-opening.

Perspectives (and hand writing) varied, but common threads were support and determination.

Mine was, “I’m the never let it define me type.”  But I could have filled that little blue circle out a dozen times with a dozen different answers.  What type are you?

 

 

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