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Posts from the ‘Blood Sugars’ Category

Traffic Jam.

Last week, I was up in Boston visiting with Ed Damiano to hear some updates on the bionic pancreas (now known as the iLet – more on that later meeting this week), and our meeting ended late in the afternoon.

Which means I climbed into my car to make the drive home on Route 93 south towards Rhode Island at 6 pm.

For anyone who lives in New England, you know this is a recipe for sitting in the car in maddening traffic for hours.  The drive in and out of Boston is abysmal and unforgiving.  Sitting in traffic for hours on end trying to get to one stupid exit only to have to sit in traffic again for another long while is a waste of time and makes me endlessly grateful for my short commute.

But dude … I was on an iLet high, excited after hearing about how this new technology might help keep me healthy while freeing up brain space previously assigned to diabetes management.  Unfortunately, after peeking at my Dexcom, I was also on a bit of a blood sugar high.

212 mg/dL with an arrow pointing straight up, to be more precise.

“Gosh darn it,” is what I would have said if Birdy was in the car with me.  I was already in traffic.  It was going to be a long, needing-to-pee-because-hyperglycemia.  Time to bolus.

Several boops and beeps later, the correction bolus was en route.


“Oh for pete’s sake,” is another thing I would have said if Birdy was in the car.

I looked at the pump.  I haven’t had an occlusion alarm in ages, so I wasn’t sure what would happen next.  After confirming that none of the insulin had been delivered, I tried it again.


Well okay then.  Time for Plan B.

Plan B is always an option because I am painfully prepared for all kinds of crap things to happen at the most crap of times.  (Except that one time.)  My family mocks me for my giant purse, but when someone needs a bandaid or an insulin set or a t-shirt or a 3 lb bag of coffee or a brick or a small (small) weasel, I am their go-to girl.

Which explains why the contents of my purse often paint me as some kind of drug lord, because I thankfully had a syringe in my meter bag and a back-up insulin pen in my purse, just for moments like these when I’m in Boston traffic and need to shoot up quickly.  I disconnected my pump, uncapped my pen, and took my correction bolus old school style.  Nineteen and a half hours (read: two) later, I was back in my diabetes supply closet safety zone, where I could swap for a new pump set up.

This is exactly why I carry an insulin pen with me at all times. Even when it seems like overkill.

Which also reminds me – I need to update my stash of small (small) weasels.

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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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.


A Matter of Apologies.

“I was low.  I was frustrated because of the low blood sugar.  I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” and I can tell she means it by the look in her friendly, brown eyes.

I used to be very terrible at saying, “I’m sorry.”  I would hold on to frustration and anger in a way that was not good for me or anyone around me, making a grudge or the need to feel like I “won” the disagreement take precedence over a relationship.  I’d keep “I’m sorry” under my tongue because I didn’t want to admit that I’d done something that hurt someone’s feelings.  I felt embarrassed to admit my shortcomings.  It felt awkward and bad.

It took a long time for my head to figure out that my heart was better off if I let the sorry fly, but once I came to that realization, I tried to embrace as often as I could.  (I also had to work on the “does this interaction make me better or worse as a person?”  This is still a work in progress.)  Now I’m less terrible at saying, “I’m sorry,” and I feel better for it.

As much as I hate to admit it, my blood sugars are not only influenced by my emotions (stress, anyone?) but they influence my emotions, as well.  The way my numbers make me physically feel can cause me to act like a total crumb.  It’s another reason to be aware of what my blood sugars are, and if I enter the Crumb Zone, apologize for it.

I find myself apologizing to my daughter at times for entirely blood sugar related reasons.  Sometimes I snap because I’m taking yet another bolus to correct yet another high and my body is riddled with sugar and rage, and I will be far less than patient with my little one as a result.  Other times I raise my voice because I’m trying to treat a low blood sugar reaction and she’s at my elbow asking to [insert rogue request from active 5 year old here].  Losing my patience during the course of run-of-the-mill parenting is something I am not proud of, but losing my patience because diabetes is leaning on my parenting style is something I want my kid to understand as best she can, because I don’t want her ever thinking my seemingly random outbursts are tied to her in any way.

It’s a weird balance between feeling like I’m blaming diabetes for my actions and simply explaining my actions.  Am I in the Crumb Zone (or Mayor of Crumb City, if you’re nasty) because of diabetes?  Nope.  Diabetes doesn’t get credit or get blamed.  But sometimes this disease is part of the explanation, and I want my family to have a sense for how, and why, I’m wired a certain way.

There are moments when Birdy assumes my attitude problem is diabetes-rYes, this whole post was an excuse to use the Siah-in-a-banana picture again.elated when it’s not, and I’m forced to fess up.

“Are you in a bad mood because of a low blood sugar?” my daughter asks, pointedly.

“Not at the moment.  Right now, I’m in a bad mood because I just realized I left a banana in the car while I was on my trip last week.  And now I’m afraid to open the door and confront the banana stink.”

“It’s okay,” she says.  And then adds, “Ew.”


Pulled Over.

I had just buckled the girls into their car seats and was ready to make the drive home from day camp, and as I turned the car on, I reflexively grabbed my Dexcom receiver to take a peek at my blood sugars before I started driving.

Shit.  68 mg/dL with an arrow straight down and a blood drop signaling a need for calibration.

“Hang on guys,” I said to my daughter and her friend, who were already singing camp songs in the backseat.  “I need to wait a minute before we head out.”  I pricked my finger quickly to check my blood sugar and, sure enough, saw the 63 mg/dL on my meter waving its arms at me.  No worries – I always have a jar of Glucolift in my center console.

Except this time.


“Hey girls. Do you guys have anything left in your lunches?”

“Yeah, I have strawberries and a pouch left in my lunch.  Do you want it, Mom?”  Birdy offered.

“Yep.”  I climbed out of the car and went back to the trunk to rummage around through her lunch bag.  Pulling out the snacks, I gobbled them while standing at the back of my car, a mom on a mission to bring her blood sugar up before driving.

We sat in the parking lot for ten minutes or so, and I watched the CGM graph arrow relax and point sideways.  A glucose meter check showed me at 78 mg/dL, so I felt I was on the rise.  We started the ride home.

Except the CGM alarm went off 15 minutes later, only this time it showed double-down arrows and the BELOW 55 mg/dL message on the screen.


Certain parts of Rhode Island are relatively rural, and sometimes you have to drive for a while before you pass a gas station or a convenience store.  I immediately started calculating when I’d pass the next place to stop.  I also assessed my symptoms (none) and instinctively reached over to disconnect my insulin pump from my hip.  I thought the two little kids in my car.  I thought about where I could pull over.  I worried about what was safer: driving for another minute or pulling over and not having any food in the car.  And I hoped that worrying so intensely would make me feel stressed and hopefully jack my blood sugar up a little more.

But then, just ahead, I saw the familiar orange and brown sign of a Dunkin Donuts coffee shop.

“Yes.”  I put on my blinker and pulled into the drive through lane of the coffee shop.  “Girls, I need to stop here and get an orange juice, okay?”

“DOUGHNUTS!!!!!” they yelled in unison.

“Not this time, guys.  I need to get some juice and wait a few more minutes before we can keep going.”

Minutes later, I was in the parking lot with an empty bottle of orange juice and two patient kids in the backseat of the car who were peppering me with questions about diabetes.

“Why did we have to stop?”

“Because I needed juice to treat a low blood sugar.”

“What’s a low blood sugar,” asked my daughter’s friend.

Birdy piped up.  “It’s when you have diabetes and you have too much insulin or not enough food in your body and you need glucose tabs or juice or doughnuts but not today because these doughnuts have gluten in them.”  (All in one breath.)

“No doughnuts?”

“Sorry, guys.”

“Can we drive soon?”


“Okay, can we sing until we start driving?”


We sat in the parking lot while I waited for the orange juice to do its thing, keeping an eye on my CGM graph and an ear on the two little kids in the back of my car who were belting out songs they learned at camp and who trusted me to take good care of myself in order to take good care of them.

Only no doughnuts, because gluten.


My IOB and Me.

There’s a lot of data that PWD (people with diabetes) spin through on a daily basis – carbs counts, insulin units, blood sugar results, blah, blah, blaaaaaaah there’s so much shit sometimes.  I’ve been encouraged by my endocrinologist to download my data and review it every week or two in order to assess trends over time, but I don’t do that as often as I should.  I’m more of a monthly downloader, and I definitely download every night-before-the-endo-appointment, but a systematic review of my diabetes data is one of those things I could do more consistently.

However, the data is crucial to my health success.  I just tend to lean more heavily on the daily data than the month-long reviews.

Like my beloved IOB.  IOB stands for “insulin on board” and it’s a tool in my insulin pump that calculates how much insulin from my most recent boluses is still “active” in my system.  And I don’t know if most pumpers love their IOB data as much as I do, but I LOVE mine.  Love.  Stupid love.  It’s part of the trifecta of diabetes that I rely on every night before bed.

The checklist is short, but always, always the same: every single night before I go to bed, I check my blood sugar on my meter, comparing that number against the CGM graph.  Then I click through on my CGM graph to get feel for how the day has mapped.  And then I click through on my pump to check my beloved IOB to see how much insulin might be in play.  (Okay, honestly I check on my daughter in her bed first.  She’s usually asleep with her hair tousled into a huge mess against her pillow, with Loopy curled up against her legs.  But then I do all the diabetes garbage.)

Checking the IOB in conjunction with the CGM graph and my glucose number gives me a fighting chance against middle-of-the-night hypoglycemia.  And in the last year or so, it’s been a check that’s worked really well.  Several times (last night, for instance), I will look at my data sources and determine that a low might be teased out overnight, and I can pop a glucose tab or run a temporary basal rate on my pump for an hour or two to keep me in range.

My overnight lows are way less frequent than they ever have been before, and that means I clean juice and sweat from my sheets way less often, so there is a practical bonus aside from the whole “not going wicked low while sleeping” thing.

There’s the takeaway:  IOB monitoring helps cut back on laundry.  Use all the money you save on detergent to buy a bionic pancreas!


Robot Arms.

[You can read my Dexcom disclosures here.]

The low alarm slammed into my ears from across the bed, coming from my Dexcom receiver on the bedside table.  A half second later, it echoed from my cell phone, where the SHARE app threw out a loud warning of its own.


I reached over and clicked on my phone, which was closer than my receiver, going to the app to look at my blood sugars.  I “follow” two PWD friends in addition to following my own data, so the screen showed three different profiles.  The two that weren’t me were fine – nothing to worry about.  They were perfectly safe.  Everyone was safe!

Everyone but me, because my data stream claimed “LOW.”  Somehow that number wasn’t registering in my head.  It wasn’t mine.  Clearly.  Wait, what’s happening?

I rolled over and went back to sleep, entering the fifteen minute cycle of hear beeps, respond to beeps by clicking a button, head back on pillow (drenched with sweat, but somehow the low still was recognized by my consciousness), repeat.  My daughter was asleep next to me (she had appeared in our room around 4 am) and for a split second, my brain wondered who belonged to the brown, curly ponytail spilling across the pillow.

And then all at once, the alarms made sense; their intention clicked firmly into place.  Their sounds reached across and tapped me on the shoulder, pushing me with frustration towards the juice.  I uncapped the little bottle and drained half of it, relief hitting the hypo-panicked parts of my mind.  It only took a few minutes to paddle back from confusion, and within minutes, I was fine.

Once I was downstairs in the kitchen, I checked my email on my phone while the coffee brewed.  I spun through the data on my SHARE app, seeing the long, red tail of the low that had wrapped around me for over an hour.  I felt frustrated by the fact that despite well-timed alarms, sometimes the lows themselves remove my ability to respond.

Some hypoglycemic moments are quieter and laced with a gentle fog of frustration, one that makes me reach for glucose tabs and forget how many I have already eaten but ha ha ha that’s okay, everything will be fine in a few minutes.  But the lows that come while I’m asleep and my body wakes up in the trenches of leave me entirely confused and oddly content to sit in a puddle of my own cold sweat, a bottle of juice within reach on the bedside table but my brain is too damn stupid to encourage my hand to reach over.

Eventually, science and technology will find a way to add two arms to my CGM receiver that, in the event of a low, will reach over and slap me, then hand me the bottle of juice.  Then those robo-arms will hand me a towel to wipe my forehead.  And once it’s over and done with, they’ll hug me quickly but firmly and tell me to suck it up because there’s shit to do.


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