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The One About Expiration Dates.

On the Dexcom and Libre Rash Facebook group, I saw a note posted back in December from someone referencing sensors with an expiration date after August 17, 2017.

“Dex recently changed their mfg process to eliminate a substance that caused rashes in some. Get some expiration date AFTER 8/15/17 …”

Huh.  Interesting.  (Read: HOLY SHIT COULD THIS BE TRUE??!!) I’ve been experiencing a Dexcom adhesive rash since 2012 and despite many conversations with clinicians and diabetes device industry specialists, no one has a solution for this issue.  (No one openly acknowledges this issue, either, which I find weird.)  For several years, I thought I was the only one having a rash reaction to the sensor adhesive, but then the Facebook group popped up and holy shit, there are a lot of us.  (The group currently has over 1900 members.)

Since 2012, I’ve tried several workarounds for this rash issue.  Steroid inhaler spray, barrier tapes, the blessed JnJ Toughpad … nothing eliminates the rash completely but the Toughpad does the best job of giving me seven days of sensor wear.  Fine.  The data and protection I get from using a CGM is worth the itch.  (See also: two solid pregnancies, two healthy kids, an A1C I’m happy with, and a marked decrease in overnight hypoglycemic events.  See also also:  “hypoglycemic events” is a stupid name)

Expiration investigation.

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

My previous sensor shipment has an expiration date of August 7, 2017.  The shipment I received last week expires in November 2017.  Even though I have a couple August expiration sensors left to use, I’m skipping ahead.  I want to know if the rumors are true.

New one goes in in a few hours.  Here’s hoping.

 

Eye Quit.

It’s like a patch of horrible road rash that you don’t bandage and instead throw the itchiest wool sweater over, then roll around in pine needles.  All day long.  Every time you blink.

This pretty much sums up what recurring corneal erosion feels like.

Friday night, I felt the twitchy, horribly familiar symptoms associated with an eye tear – the redness, the slight swelling, a little bit of blurry vision – but I assumed that a good night’s sleep and some eye lubricant would do the trick.

It did not do any trick.  Saturday morning, my right eyeball was a disaster, almost as badly injured as the first time it happened (six years ago).  It was swollen, razor-bladey, and super sensitive to light, very similar to what happened in San Diego several years ago.  Plans to bring Birdzone to a birthday party?  Delegated.  Plans to attend the Writer’s Guild awards in NYC on Sunday night?  Nope.  (Good thing I hadn’t taken the tags off my dress yet.)  Hopes of spending time away from the two kiddos and having fun?  Or reading a book?  Or even thinking about opening my computer and looking at emails?

Up in a puff of a cat turning into smoke.

… didn’t see that gif coming, did you?  Me neither.  But thar she smokes.

Because I was only 80% sure that it was a corneal tear and not an eyelash jammed up in there (the eye swelling was pretty tremendous, making me think there could be a foreign body stuck in there) and also because it was a Saturday morning and not a single eye doctor’s office was open in our area, I ended up at the local walk in clinic.  They confirmed my eyeball only contained eyeball and recommended I spend as much time healing as I could.

What best heals a corneal erosion is time with your eyelids SHUT.  Which translates into spending 48 hours straight in bed with the blinds drawn and a bunch of cold compresses and eye goop at the ready.  Which also translates into the kids going to my mom’s for the weekend and me asking Chris to go to the event in NYC so I could hole up and sleep without experiencing any mom guilt.  But with the house empty, I was able to rest and heal, despite blood sugars that went bananas in response to the pain (hello, 200% basal rate for two days).

It wasn’t until Tuesday morning (thanks, holiday weekend) that I was able to get to a proper ophthalmologist, who took a look at my eyeball and deemed it “incredibly swollen.”  He prescribed (in addition to follow up visits) some steroid drops for my eye that took effect within hours and by Tuesday night, I was able to properly see for the first time in three days.

I was eye-lated.  Eye’ll never take my ability to open my eyes without pain for granted again.  I hope I didn’t lash out at my loved ones when I was in pain and that they’re tolerant of my terrible vitreous humor.

Eye jokes are the worst.  But eye-related animated gifs are the best.

Iris my case.

From NOPE to Yes.

My friend Susan is a huge part of the Postpartum Progress group, and on her Facebook feed I saw an article that she had shared.  I like to see what my friends are working in and sharing in and out of the diabetes space, so I clicked.

Reading through the postpartum depression list had me nodding a little bit.  But the postpartum anxiety list had me leaning forward, nervous that I was finding myself in almost every bullet point.

This one in particular:

You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with my baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you, it doesn’t help.

After my daughter was born, I did not worry all the time.  I worried in a way that felt normal, about her eating patterns and my ability to meet them, or whether I buckled her in the carseat the right way … that sort of thing.  The worrying started right after she was born and was background noise by the time she was six months old.

With my son, everything was worry.  I worried the whole time I was pregnant, reluctant to get too excited or attached.  I kept thinking the pregnancy was ending, even though I saw his dancing little self on the ultrasound screen every few weeks.  My friends and family wanted to throw a baby shower and I avoiding committing to the idea for weeks, nervous that celebrating his soon-to-be arrival date would somehow make him not come.

After he was born, I worried incessantly about my health, and his.  My second c-section wasn’t as easy as my first, and I recovered slowly.  My son had swallowed some amniotic fluid during birth and he spent the first three days choking slightly and needing to have the fluid cleared from his mouth and through via suction.  We knew he needed assistance when he would gag and cough and then flap his arms because he couldn’t breathe.  The nurses in the hospital told us to push the call button immediately if he did this, so they could come in and help.

“This is normal.  It’s common for babies to experience this the first few days after birth.  He will clear the fluid out and be fine; don’t worry.”

Except I worried.  Like professional grade worry.  I was afraid to leave his side because I thought he was going to choke to death in his sleep.

No one on my medical team was panicking about anything at all, yet I was panicking about everything.  When my son settled into a pattern of waking up every 20 minutes for the first 11 weeks of his life, exhaustion and anxiety dominated my mind.  I wasn’t myself for the first three months.  Which makes sense, considering the little bits of chaos we were managing, on so little sleep.

But around the 3 1/2 month mark, he started to sleep.  And my incision was healing.  And blood sugars were becoming more predictable, even with exclusive breastfeeding. Things should have been feeling better, but I had some trouble appreciating the things that were going right as I was already halfway down the anxiety slide at all times.  I had horrible thoughts all the time, born out of innocuous moments.

Like I’d be pushing the stroller around the neighborhood and mentally picture the stroller tipping over and my son’s body crushed.  Or a big hawk would fly overhead and I’d immediately picture the bird coming down and jamming its beak into my son’s leg.  (Fucking bird.  I had this particular thought often.  Weird shit, the mind.)  The thoughts would come ramming into my brain and I’d immediately banish them, saying, “Nope.  Nope, nope, nope,” to myself and physically shaking them free from my head, but I was feeling anxious regardless.  I had zero desire/thought to hurt myself or my child, but I kept picturing some scenario where he’d get hurt.

I felt like I was in fight-or-flight mode at all times.

Reading that list of symptoms jolted something inside of me.  I showed the list to Chris to see if that list put words to any concerns that he had.

“Seeing this all written down, I do see a lot of these in you,” he admitted.

I called my OB/GYN that afternoon and made an appointment.  After a screening process and a discussion about my concerns (including telling her that I called mainly because a list of symptoms had me nodding “Yes” to almost every single one) my OB agreed that there was some kind of postpartum thing going on.

“You have experienced a few things that would influence this kind of response, like infertility for several years.  And pregnancy after loss.  And then a complicated pregnancy due to diabetes.  And then deciding on permanent sterilization.  And then the sleep issues after birth.  One of those things might be enough to warrant intervention; all of those things definitely might.”

I felt weird that I was experiencing this stuff five months out instead of immediately after birth.  She reassured me that it happens often enough this way.  She made a recommendation for medication, I told her I wanted to try therapy before medication, and she deferred to my requested treatment.

“While you wait on your therapy appointment, I’d suggest that you get outside.  Often. And don’t stay holed up in your house; see your neighbors, call your friends, be as social as you can in efforts to help keep you from feeling so overwhelmed by the worries.  It might help.  And if you feel worse in any way at all, you need to call us,” she said, handing me a card with the therapist group’s number on it.  “This team will call you today or tomorrow.”

It felt oddly comforting to identify what was going on in my mind as something that could be addressed.  That I wasn’t stuck feeling this way forever.  That others have felt this way, too.  That there’s a light at the end of this sometimes dark tunnel that has made me feel so very much unlike my normal self.

And now?  I’m trying to ask for help instead of feeling like I have to shoulder the anxiety and chaos on my own.  My mother has been instrumental in helping me maintain my mental health, coming by regularly to spend a few hours with the baby and help with laundry.  My son is currently at my aunt’s house while I work from a coffee shop down the street.  My husband is quick to step in and make it possible for me to exercise daily.  And my friends in the neighborhood and beyond are vital to my mental health checklist, serving as people I can see throughout the week so that I don’t feel confined to my house. (Working from home with the baby makes for very long and lonely days without much grown-up interaction.)

There’s a network of people I can lean on, helping whittle some of the anxiety off me and reminding me that I’m still here, underneath all these worries.  That it’ll be okay.

And that?  That gets a big Yes, yes, YES.

 

A Valentine For My Pancreas.

(A post from the past, but still relevant, as my pancreas remains lazy.)

Oh rotting, feeble pancreas of mine,
Won’t you be my Valentine?
Won’t you wake from your long sleep
And make some insulin, you creep?

What makes you sit, all shaped like a wiener,
Lazy and dull, with a pompous demeanor?
What makes it okay, that for your enjoyment
You’ve spent twenty plus years filing unemployment?

We need to start over; we need to be friends.
We need this whole type 1 diabetes to end.
I’m tired of shots and I’m sick of the lows,
So I think we should talk about ending this row.
I could use a break, my corn-cob-shaped friend.
I’d love to have ‘old age’ listed as my end.
I think that your time off has drawn to a close.
I’d like working islets, and plenty of those.

How ’bout it, old pal? Care to start working?
Care to start minding duties you’ve been shirking?
I promise to be an attentive best friend,
I’ll thank you each morning and as the day ends.
I won’t take for granted the hormone you make
And I’ll forgive you for the last 25 years’ mistake.

I’ve brought you some flowers and a Border’s gift card,
In hopes that when I bring milkshakes to the yard
You’ll be so inclined to jump start all those islets
Who’ve been holding their breath for so long that they’re violet.

So what do you say, oh pancreas of mine?
Won’t you be my Valentine?

(Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your rotten old pancreas by sparing a rose.)

Spare a Rose.

I’ve been writing this website for almost twelve years.  The support, advice, and camaraderie I’ve found in the diabetes online community has made the last twelve years with type 1 diabetes among my healthiest and most successful.  The supply of insulin carefully tucked away in my fridge, along with access to an excellent medical team and the financial means to manage my disease, keep me alive.

I’m lucky.  In a lot of ways.

Today is my birthday.  The greatest gift I can have is another year of life, and I don’t take that for granted.  If you’ve found hope, or support, or joy, or friendship, or love in the diabetes online community, I’d really appreciate it if you would consider donating to the IDF’s Life for a Child campaign through Spare a Rose.  If you aren’t able to donate, would you mind sharing the donation link?

Flowers die.  Children shouldn’t.  Every small donation helps save a child.

 

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