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Guest Post: “KITTY!!” and Other Low Tales.

Mindy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during the age of NPH (not the actor) and Regular when she was 7 years old. She’s been involved in the diabetes community since she was diagnosed and got involved in the online community when she started her blog (Telling Type 1 Diabetes Who’s Boss – which she recently changed to There’s More to the Story after getting diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, and OCD.)  Today, Mindy is guest posting about how her low blood sugars can go from goofy to goat cheese in a matter of seconds.  Read on to see what I mean.

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When I’m low, I get extra chatty and very loopy. I’m already chatty without outside (well inside) factors and loopy- hello ADHD! Add the low blood sugar, and it becomes quite entertaining. After fighting with lows for four days, I’ll take the entertaining because well … the little things, right?

No seriously. Blood sugar, what in the world is going on? I actually still don’t know (even called the endo!)

I made changes; lowered Lantus, lowered basals, changed ratios and corrections, lots of juice, lots of snacks (should I be truthful and mention the Chinese food, fried food, red velvet cake, chocolate covered pretzels, gummi-bears, and beyond I have consumed this week? Most were related to lows- but a few- I was in a bad mood and wanted it).

Some of the nights I woke up high. Needless to say, I was exhausted. The lack of sleep, emotions of the entire thing, and how my body was feeling (plus the heat wave that hit the Northeast)-led for a very fun Mindy. I am so grateful for the understanding people I have in my life who read my texts and tweets, saw my snaps, and stayed with me on the phone during lows (even during a bad mood).

I got the loopy thing going for me, right? I’ll go ahead and say that makes me absolutely adorable.

Everything is hilarious at this point and once the giggle fest starts, nothing can stop me.

You can find me screaming “KITTY” everywhere I go and the cat is terrified. I chase him for love that he doesn’t want to be a part of.
I have a knack for getting lost and being clumsy and low BG makes it even worse. I’ve been walking around with my arms extended ready for a fall and extra time for the navigation purposes.

My new favorite low moment? Thursday night (not the fact that I couldn’t get my blood sugar up until 1AM and not the fact that I couldn’t enjoy my delicious cupcake because nothing tasted delicious and my stomach was a mess).

After my third juice and complaining while giggling, I SHOT up and screamed “GOAT CHEESE.”  I immediately ran to the fridge grabbed a container and a spoon. Ran back to the living room. Kept standing in the middle of the room (because that’s how I roll. There’s something about a low blood sugar that wants me to keep moving- at camp people chased me to sit down to treat a low and eventually get a mini-glucagon). Enjoying the delicious goat cheese (and remembering to take a Lactaid!). I also added some awkward low-infused dancing (to some silent music or maybe very quiet music?). In between spoons of goat cheese, I used the spoon as a wand or pretended to be a conductor.

Yes. That all happened.

I also embrace my child-like sass and blame my endo for bringing up the low blood sugar conversation – about how we don’t want lows – Which makes me gawk every time and ask how? I’m trying to decide if I would rather go the endo while it’s my period and trying to discover the magic formula for not being high during it (like I did last week) or in the middle of constant lows like this week.

Gosh, I thought the “real world” would make blood sugar management easier. You can take the college out of the girl but not the T1D, unfortunately.

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In addition to telling her story here today on SUM, Mindy is the Program Assistant at the College Diabetes Network, CDN, in Boston, MA.  She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Georgia in May of 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and minor in Sociology (which throws her immediately into that aforementioned “real world.”)  

After living in Georgia in a small town, her whole life and being Pre-Law since she was 14, she decide law school wasn’t right for her and moved to Boston. In addition to the diabetes bits and pieces, she thoroughly enjoys diabetes camp, travel, crafts, running, quotes, reading, binge-watching Netflix, and being awkward. You can follow her on twitter and Instagram @mindy_bartleson.  Thanks for sharing your story today, Mindy!

Change Your Lancet.

This morning I woke up
And reached right over to the table.
Grabbing my receiver,
I saw my blood sugars stable.
Meter confirmation
Showed a 107 number
And that things had been quite steady
Overnight, while I did slumber.

(“While I did slumber?”
Yes, I used that phrase despite it sounding formal.
It’s fun to turn a stodgy phrase
To make sleep sound less normal.

“Okay, go on and tell you story,”
Thanks.  I almost blew it.)

I noticed, when I pricked my finger
That the lancet got stuck into it.

It was gross.  There was a shunk
As the lancet then deployed.
And the OUCH when it went in
Had me less shocked than quite annoyed.
Because I CHANGED that stupid lancet
Just the day before the last!
It wasn’t stale or all that old.
How dare it give my thumb such blast?

And not only did it sting
But the em effer didn’t bleed.
In order to check sugars,
“Change the lancet” was the need.

I gave it glance with both my eyes
After I took the lancet out
The tip looked worse for wear.
So what the hell – I swapped it out.

I tried again, this time determined
Not to let the prick be useless.
I resolved to change my lancet more
Lest diabetes think I’m truceless.
When the needle went in my finger
I squeezed it for a spell.
And blood came from the wound.
… and from a random spot as well.

What’s the moral of the story?
How can I work my D smarter?
Here’s advice for all the ages:
Change your lancet, or squeeze harder.

 

Gluten-Free Bread Showcase.

For those who are unaccustomed, gluten-free bread is kind of terrible.  It’s like the bread can’t commit to being bread.  It starts out strong – looks good, smells good – but once you try to make a sandwich out of that sucker, it falls apart into a crumbly mess in a matter of milliseconds.  For the last year, I’ve been entirely gluten-free (and I feel better for it – more here on the how and why), and over the course of my gluten-free adventures, I miss proper bread the most.

There are some decent options, though, and they’ve been tested by adults (Chris and I) and kids (Birdy) alike.  Here are some of the top contenders in the Sparling household:

Udi’s is the first kind of gluten-free bread I’ve ever tried, and I want to like it more than I actually do.  It’s not bad, but it’s my least-favorite option.  The pieces of bread themselves are tiny, the bread can’t hold up unless it’s toasted, and when it comes into contact with peanut butter, it becomes sludgy almost immediately.  But it will do in a pinch, and the other Udi’s options are infinitely better than their actual bread.  (Like the hamburger buns.  Those are legitimately awesome.)

Rudi’s is slightly better than Udi’s, but the similarity in names confuses the hell out of me.  Are Rudi and Udi brothers fraught with conflict who once had a unified bakery but then split off and created their own gluten-free fortresses?  Whatever the case,  Rudi’s bread is slightly studier than Udi’s but with the same “better when toasted” consistency.  The pieces of bread seem slightly bigger than Udi’s on the whole.  This brand is a little better but only marginally.

Three Bakers was my favorite bread until two weeks ago (more on that in a second).  This bread is decent in size, better than Udi’s or Rudi’s in consistency, and doesn’t have to be toasted in order to be tolerated.  This bread can hold up to cold cuts and doesn’t shrink and die when touched by condiments.  Three Bakers hold up pretty well when compared to the other kinds.  And it makes bangin’ French Toast.

 

For a long time, the frustrating fragility of gluten-free bread had me baking my own bread, and the preferred bread mix was Pamela’s.  While I’ve made my own bread from scratch before, it takes a reasonable amount of time, and Pamela’s mix on the gluten-free setting for the breadmaker works really well.  It’s thicker and more moist (worst word ever but it applies here) than the store-bought breads, but it falls apart pretty easily when not toasted.  (Sensing a theme here?)

Two weeks ago, though, I found a real winner.  A REAL WINNER.  The Schar brand of bread popped up in the gluten-free section of our local grocery store and holy shit, this stuff seems legit.  It can hold up without being toasted, which is the first kind of GF bread I’ve found capable of unlocking that achievement.  It has a consistency and texture closest to regular bread (in my opinion) and it stood up to the sandwich-in-a-cooler-on-the-beach-for-five-hours test.  I realize I’m holding this stuff up against a strange standard of failure (“This bread sucks the LEAST!”), but it’s been the most successful substitution I’ve found in my 12+ months going gluten-free.

The main drawback to all of these options?  They are pricey.  $5 or $6 for a loaf of bread is ridiculous, which prompts us to buy less of it and embrace other non-bready options more.  But the gluten-free world keeps expanding, and as someone who dove in headfirst and ditched a year’s worth of bellyaches, I’m wicked grateful for these options.

Slightly Charred.

Diabetes burnout and social media burnout have a tendency to go hand-in-hand for me because it becomes tiresome to document my failures.

“No, the failures of your pancreas,” said a friend.

Nope.  The failures of me, pancreas and all.  I can’t separate the two.  Diabetes challenges me emotionally and physically because I am lucky enough to deal with a disease that offers me a fair amount of control … which translates into a predictable to do list.  As much as I try to reduce my level of responsibility when it comes to this crap, I have to own my role in this disease.  It’s not something I could have prevented, but it is something I have to deal with.  I look at other health issues in my life and realize how little influence I have over them.  And then I look at diabetes and I’m forced to acknowledge that this disease is a confluence of intention and reaction.

Writing about diabetes has become hard some days.  It used to feel good to write about a low blood sugar and get that story out there because it felt like a purging of bad feelings, and the flood of “me, too!” moments made the edges of frustration softer.  Now there are moments when sharing feels pointless; no one needs a reminder of why my disease can be a pain in the ass … least of all me.

I have good intentions.  I intend to take care of myself, and despite the variables that influence diabetes outcomes, I make efforts.  (I exercise.  I eat well.  I don’t smoke.  I am proactive with my medical appointments.  I check blood sugars and take insulin.  I list things that seem smug, like the aforementioned list.)  But diabetes is still diabetes, and I am still reacting to the disease a fair amount of the time.  Reacting to a low (eat something!) or reacting to a high (bolus!) or reacting to a skin irritation (Toughpad me) or reacting to frustrations related to the diagnosis of complications (eyeball fuckery) or reacting to the underlying theme of always hoping for the best and yet being pragmatically prepared for the worst.

Community helps me process this stuff.

Community is a good way for me to manage my emotional health as it relates to diabetes (directly).  Connecting with peers helps me find my footing in moments when I feel like diabetes is dominating.  But that sounds so formal, like secondary headline on a journal article.  The diabetes online community and all this blogging stuff has given me so much in terms of emotional health success.  So what am I doing, writing about social media burnout?  I actually feel stupid saying that there can be burnout from social media, even though I know there can be.  It just feels like the most first world issue there ever was.  Almost like having too many pairs of sturdy shoes – “I simply cannot manage all of the opportunities that are available to me!  Woe is my woe-crammed self.”

So am I burnt out?  Or just slightly charred?  And do I need someone’s permission to voice this issue?  (No.)

Sometimes I question my decision to (over)share so much of my diabetes process in a public setting.  Putting information out to the Internet invites strangers to comment and critique, which is productive when the discussions are empowering and awful when the discussions are cruel.  I’ve had a lot of positive experiences overall via the Internet but it’s been a mixed bag at times.  Which I’m not surprised about – not everyone will like everything, or support everything, or spell everything correctly – but at the same time, it surprises me when I see people rip others apart for their shortcomings or vulnerabilities.  Watching people run commentary that’s hurtful detracts from the nice, mellow community vibe that I appreciate most.  Basically, sometime people (myself included) are dicks, and I hate when that happens.  It makes it harder to share openly and to support.  As the years go by, I want to share less because I want to protect my right to fuck up.  It’s a weird halfway, because the moments where I fuck up are the ones I need the most support during.

So what’s the point of this post?  Here you go:  On September 1st, the team at Diabetes Daily wanted to generate some discussion about social media burnout.  And I hope people talk, because discussions like these make our community stronger.  Or at least that’s the goal.

It’s not about curating a perfect online existence; it’s about living a real, healthy life even with the raw and ragged edges.

Diabetes Lifehack: Travel Tape.

Sometimes it’s an insulin pump infusion set that starts to peel back.  Other times it’s a Dexcom sensor that gives up on the edges and needs reinforcement.  And there are times when you just need a band-aid for one of those rogue blisters that pops up.

Which is why I keep little slips of Opsite Flexifix tape tucked into my wallet.  Because you never know when you might need an (opsite flexi)fix.

#diabeteslifehack

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

(There you go, Opsite.  Your new tagline, perhaps?)

 

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