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Posts from the ‘Blood Sugars’ Category

Sweet Little Lancet.

Sweet little lancet
You are so damn tough.
I keep you until
All your edges are rough,
Until your sharp peak
Becomes dull and harpoons.
Oh sweet little lancet,
I will change you soon.

Sweet little lancet,
You deploy with a thud.
It can take several tries
To get you to draw blood.
And at that point, you’d think,
I’d wise up and swap out.
But sweet little lancet,
You should have your doubts.

Sometimes I forget
I have a vast collection.
No need to reuse!
I’m inviting infection.
I should change you out
Before you get strange,
But it takes a reminder
(Like when the clocks change.)

Sweet little lancet,
I respect what you do.
My supply closet’s stashed
With an army of you.
But in the event
There’s a cure that’s clever,
I’ll repurpose your ass;
I’ll have thumbtacks forever.

Enjoy the Silence. Or Not So Much.

[Disclosure about my relationship with Dexcom]

During the first trimester of this pregnancy, lows were intense and weirdly symptomatic; a nice contrast from the hypoglycemia unawareness that’s crept in over the last five or six years.  (I ended up stashing a jar of jellybeans in the dining room hutch, only to have to move it into direct line of sight in the kitchen in efforts to keep up with the persistent low blood sugars of those first few weeks.)  As this pregnancy has moved forward, the lows have become slightly more predictable and the hypo-unawareness has returned, making the Dexcom BEEPS! and BLARGHS! more necessary.

Until that week when I noticed, “Hey, the alarms have been quieter.”  And then I realized, “Hey, the alarms aren’t working.”  Because overnight, my G4 receiver had been rendered mute.

When I received the Dexcom recall notice several months ago, it was very early February, and I was still using the G5 transmitter.  At the time, the only people who knew I was pregnant were my family and my medical team, but I knew, and I was stalking blood sugars with vigor (and a side of panic).  My endocrinologist, not a fan of the data output from the G5 application, asked if I would consider using the G4 for the remainder of my pregnancy.  Wanting her to check the “compliant” box on my chart (there’s a first time for everything), I switched back to the G4 the following week and have been on it since.

And for months, my G4 receiver was fine.  Alarmed all the damn time, vibrating and buzzing from my bedside table or my purse and alerting me to the changing needs of my baby-hosting body.  And then, all of a sudden, the speaker went full garbage, not working at all.  Only a vibration came from the receiver, making my phone* the best laid plan for alerting me audibly.

It wasn’t until I woke up one morning and saw the empty raisin box and the discarded juice box that I realized the night before wasn’t very comfortable.  And that I didn’t wake up because of alarms, but instead because of aggressive baby kicks.  I couldn’t ride out the rest of this pregnancy without replacing the receiver, because I was NOT waking up even with the phone alarms.  I needed high octane, receiver-in-a-glass-with-some-coins sort of jolting.  I needed to connect the alarms to Siah, encouraging her to walk across my face when I was low.  Or similar.

I needed the receiver to actually WORK PROPERLY.

So I went to the website – Dexcom has a special page set up for this particular issue.  There’s also a special hotline number to call: (844) 607-8398.  After a quick exchange with the woman on the phone, she asked me to confirm that my alarms weren’t working by doing the following:

  • press the center button on your receiver to access the Main Menu
  • scroll down to Profiles
  • select Profiles
  • scroll down to Try It
  • select Try It
  • scroll down to 55 Fixed Low
  • select 55 Fixed Low
  • verify that you receive vibrations first (vibratory portion of alarm), followed by beeps (audible portion of alarm).

And once we confirmed the alarm absence, a new receiver was scheduled to be shipped out.  Should be arriving in the next few days, in time for me to finish up this pregnancy as a G4 user (to make my doctor happy) and hopefully by staying in my threshold lines (to make my fetus happy).

If your G4 receiver suddenly craps out, sound-wise, call the hotline number and have a new one sent out.  Alarms that won’t alarm are alarming.

(* I follow myself on the Dexcom Follow app, along with one other person.  Yes, redundant.  In response to the dead receiver speaker, I changed the alarm settings on my phone so that I’d be alerted for highs and lows.  This worked, in theory, except when my phone was on silent or in the other room.)

Diabetic Pregnancy: Third Trimester.

Ten weeks left until the little man arrives, which means I’m in the third trimester and ready to fast forward through the summer.  FAST.  FORWAAAAAAAAARD!!

Swelling.  So far, so good.  I don’t have any swelling to speak of, which is a far cry from my first pregnancy, when I was in StayPuft mode starting around 28 weeks and stayed there until I delivered.  But thankfully, I’m a little more comfortable this round.  I can still wear my wedding rings, all my shoes, and my feet look like feet (instead of inflatable kayaks).

And I’m grateful to be back home from Utah, which was the scene of the swelling crime six years ago.  Something about being that far above sea level seemingly kicked off my incoming preeclampsia last time, and I’m glad Utah this year didn’t bring about any repeat performances.  (Also, I’ve only been to SLC twice, and both times I was seven months pregnant.  Weird theme.)

Blood sugars.  I still have them.  And they haven’t been entirely pleasant lately.  Some high numbers are returning in the evenings, which caused me to kick up my insulin : carb ratio for dinner as of this morning and I’m also side-eying my basal rate a little bit.  Still attempting to pre-bolus for as many meals as I can manage, which is working out pretty well.  I am aiming to keep my A1C in the same range it has been for as long as I can.

Some lows are back, only without symptoms at all, and those suck.  The other night, my CGM was screaming LOW for about an hour and I woke up the next morning with glucose tab dust all over the bedside table, a text message conversation on my phone that I have no recollection of having, and a low hangover that kicked my ass for hours.  Also, there was a missing burrito, which I can neither confirm nor deny responsibility for.

(Have I mentioned the Comfort Burritos that have lived in my freezer for the last five months?  Cravings were weird and intense during the first trimester, and there was a specific day when I NEEDED to have a burrito but didn’t want to eat so many carbs in one sitting, so I bought a frozen one and threw it in the fridge next to Animal.  It’s been in there since, comforting my cravings without having to be consumed.  I will plant it in the backyard after my son is born.  Perhaps a burrito tree will sprout?)

Baby kicks.  My daughter is strong and quick now, but I do not remember her being such an athlete in the womb.  However, her little brother is a storm of flying feet and hands at all times.

“Are you pregnant?” asked the lady next to me on my flight over the weekend.

“Yes, I am,” I confirmed, grateful for people who don’t assume/don’t say “WHOA! ARE YOU DUE TODAY?!”

“I thought so.   Your baby has been moving like crazy since we took off.  You have an active little one in there!”

Awesome.  You can see my son moving around through my shirt now.  And he clearly digs long flights.

Doctor’s appointments.  We’re turning up the dial on doctor’s appointments for this last trimester, moving to weekly appointments next week and then twice-weekly appointments until delivery.  My team at Beth Israel and Joslin are in sync and tracking me closely, in addition to keeping tabs on any eye disease progression (holding steady), kidney issues (none to speak of), and blood pressure spikes (still not back on BP medication yet, so feeling good about that).

I’m grateful to have so many medical professionals at the ready and tracking my baby’s progress.  (But I can’t lie; I’m looking forward to never seeing any of them again, post-delivery.  I’m emotionally done making that frigging drive to Boston.)

August.  We’re still working towards a late August escape date, with my body cooperating so far.  If the weather holds in this lovely 72 degrees and no humidity pattern for a few more weeks, I’ll be the happiest third trimester lady of all time.

Fifteen Minutes, Fifteen Grams.

I just needed fifteen minutes, after fifteen grams of carbs.

“I can’t go with you, because I need to eat something else and wait for my blood sugar to come up.  You guys can go without me and come right back, if you want?”

The sentences sounded soft and measured.  Sure, go for the bike ride around the neighborhood, dear daughter and trusted neighborhood friend.  I’ll just sit here and eat fifteen grams of carbohydrate, then wait patiently for fifteen minutes while the food works its magic.

Instead, I was shouting up at them from the bottom of the well, hoping my voice carried in a way that didn’t make my kid nervous, hoping she’s hearing the reassuring tones of my voice instead of the panicked inner monologue that was playing out:

“HEY!  Go on outside and play and don’t watch me mop the sweat from my forehead while I inhale two juice boxes and a packet of fruit snacks.  Ignore me while I fight back the urge to lie down on the kitchen floor and let this weird wave of unconsciousness wash over me.  Pretend not to notice that I’m looking through you instead of at you while I’m talking to you.  Go on outside and let mommy fall apart for fifteen minutes, after these fifteen grams of carbs.”

My daughter and her friend strapped on their bicycle helmets and took off down the street, enjoying the sunshine and almost-summer weather while I stuck a spoon into a jar of Nutella, not giving a shit if this was the best option or healthiest decision but mostly because I wanted to have something sweet on my tongue, reminding me that I was still here and capable of coming back from this low blood sugar and that I could start making dinner soon because I would be capable of standing unassisted, without fear of falling into the abyss, in just fifteen minutes, after fifteen grams of carbs.

t:slim with a Twist.

Several months ago, I switched insulin pumps.  (Here is the post about the switch, and please read this post about the disclaimer that initiated the switch.  My full disclosure page is here.)  My first impressions of the t:slim pump were drummed up over a year ago, after trialing one for a few weeks, but my real t:slim immersion came once I switched in full.

Funny thing is the timing of that switch.  When I packaged up my Animas pump in favor of a Tandem one, I had also just found out I was pregnant.  Which means that I was adjusting to life as a pregnant PWD and also to a new insulin pump.

tl;dr – There’s stuff about the t:slim pump I wouldn’t have appreciated so soon were it not for the baby-en-route.

Because dude, if I had switched a year ago, I would have been all, “Oh, it looks so cool and the touchscreen is badass, and the fact that it’s flat all the way across the front makes it easier to tuck into my clothes,” making the wearability the most important part of my switch.  Yeah, wearability matters, but not as much as ease of use and OUTCOMES does these days.

(None of the following is medical advice; remember, I’m not a doctor and currently can’t even see my feet in full these days.)

#tslim #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Entering a bolus is stupid-easy.  And this matters, since every blood sugar counts double these days (for me and for my growing son).  It takes me a few seconds to unlock the pump and bang out a bolus, and only a few extra seconds to add crucial information like my current blood glucose and the carbs I’m consuming.  Part of my over-arching problem of diabetes management is keeping apathy from creeping in; the all day, every day tasks of type 1 diabetes wear on me in a way that prevents me from taking advantage of everything technology has to offer.  Oh, so an insulin pump can calculate my insulin on board (IOB) and the dose I need to bring down a blood sugar back into range, or what’s needed to cover X amount of carbs?  HANDY INFO!  The only thing I have to do is enter that information and it spits out a result?  ALSO HANDY.  But having to scroll forever to enter information is enough to keep me from entering that information.

It’s pathetic, how often I was taking 2u of insulin because it seemed “close enough” to cover what I needed, instead of spending the time calculating the proper dose.  Being able to input this necessary information in a matter of seconds makes me actually DO IT.  My endo is very pleased with this uptick in my management, and my A1C 100% reflects these efforts.

#tslim #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Changing my basal rates is stupid-easy.  Being pregnant means that my insulin needs are changing rapidly.  First trimester brought about insanely sticky hypoglycemic events, which equaled out to dialing down my basal rates significantly and making frequent use of the temp basal option.  (Again, it’s about the button pushing – it takes me seconds to set a temporary basal rate.  Ease of freaking use FTW.)  Second trimester showed a steady climb in my weight and insulin resistance, with a marked rise in my basal rates and my insulin:carb ratios.  And now, at the beginning of the third trimester, shit is changing all over the place, with some basal rates going down a little bit and my insulin:carb ratio almost double what it was pre-pregnancy.  There’s a lot of math going on in my baby-building body, and being able to change my rates after reviewing my data on Diasend and t:connect makes for easier management.

Holding more insulin is stupid-easy.  The t:slim holds a ton of insulin (300u) and as my pregnancy progresses, I may need that cartridge to be filled in full, instead of the half-way filled I’ve been doing for the last six months.

#tslim #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Seeing my status is stupid-easy.  One button push shows me how much insulin is on board, how long it will be active, shows how much insulin is left in the reservoir, the percentage of charge left in my battery, and the time.  Oh, and what day it is.  (This matters, as the day and time are bits of information that are being eaten regularly by intense pregnancy brain.)

Not everything is stupid-easy.  This isn’t a list of perfect moments with my insulin pump.  There are pros and cons, and the time it takes to change out the cartridge and infusion set is still cumbersome.  I also am not a fan of the luer-lock tubing bulge, as it takes on a “third nipple” appearance more often than I’d prefer.  And I’ve seen more occlusion alarms with the t:slim than I did in the past.  But I’ll these cons over the pros, especially when I review my lab work from Joslin and see how strong my numbers are.

Being more on-target through my pregnancy is not stupid-easy.  Let’s not make my successes as a pregnant PWD the product of an insulin pump, shall we?  I am working my ass off to make sure my body and my baby are healthy, with just over 11 weeks left to go before we release this particular Kraken.  But having a piece of technology that alleviates the bolus math angst, makes it impossible to forget whether or not I’ve taken my basal insulin, and being able to bang out a correction dose in a matter of moments helps take the pressure off, at least a little bit.

… even if the beeps and boops might startle my developing fetus.  (If that study has any truth to it, my poor kids are screwed.)



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