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Posts from the ‘Blood Sugars’ Category

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.

LOW.

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.

Reboot.

Diabetes and I are not getting along these days.  Not even a little bit.

Funny how that shit happens.  You’re rolling along [insert lilting "do de doooo" tune here] and then BAM Dexcom graphs start to get weird and BAM other health concerns start issuing commands that dominate the conversation and BAM all of a sudden, my blood sugars are absolute garbage and I need to reboot my whole system.

So okay, fine.  I’ll reboot my system.  Only it’s having trouble rebooting because of a few hard-to-change-at-the-moment things.  Like a demanding travel schedule for work.  And some meds that are gaffing up my blood sugar numbers all on their own.  And my unparalleled ability to instantly be distracted.  These aren’t excuses, but they are reasons, and these reasons are keeping me from rebooting entirely.  Instead, I’m temporarily stuck in that spinning pinwheel of rainbow doom that my old laptop was stuck in, going around and around in an attempt to reboot but ends up being a “press the power button until the whole thing powers down” moment.

(Yes, I also cannot stop staring at that thing while it spins.  It pulls me in.  Siren song of Mac doom.)

I’m aware of a lot of my shortcomings, though, and I recognize that a full reboot isn’t going to help.  I am not a “change everything all at once” sort of diabetes repair woman.  I’m more of a “change one thing, then change something else” type, leaving me with a breadcrumb trail of good decisions that eventually brings me back to better blood sugar control.  It’s a mixed metaphor that has yet to involve Hansel (he’s so hot right now, so I should get on that), but in time, I can wiggle these glucose numbers back into a better groove.

This time, I know it’s my response time to data that needs the most attention.  I have to be checking my glucose more regularly (and not simply in the morning, before bed, and whenever the CGM needs to be calibrated) and responding to the data I collect ASAP.  (Calling it “data” helps keep me from feeling like those numbers are little pockets of judgement and self-worth assessments.)  High?  Correct it.  Low?  Don’t over-treat it.  In range?  Do a happy dance in the kitchen because hot damn.  But the bottom line is PAY ATTENTION.

Complaining about this crap helps, but working to fix the parts I’m complaining about helps more.  This was my whine.  Now it’s time to work.

 

Does Not Compute.

“Do you guys have any fun plans for the summer?”

The question was simple enough, but not even close to a level my hypoglycemia-addled brain could handle.  I had trouble formulating a response, and the lag time was embarrassing.  We’ve only moved to the neighborhood a few months ago and haven’t solidified relationships with our neighbors yet, so being wickedly low in front of someone new wasn’t my favorite way to disclose my diabetes.

Thankfully, a disclosure had already happened, to a certain extent.  When she had asked me about my work travel this past week and what I did for work, I said that I worked in patient advocacy and that I’d had diabetes since I was a kid.  She nodded in recognition and shared that her college roommate was also T1D, so my disclosure was pleasantly subtle and streamlined.  No big deal.  What I hadn’t anticipated was going low during the course of our conversation.

And I was low.  Wickedly low.  The kind of low that made my face feel like it was full of Novocaine and that my hands were like birds at my sides, twitching and flapping absently.

I scanned the trees in the front yard for some kind of hint.

“Pssssst.  You guys!  You, trees!  Do I have fun plans for the summer?  HELP!”

They only waved their leaves at me.  “We have no idea!  Go get something to eat, dummy!”

“We go to Maine.  MAINE.”  I said it twice with way too much emphasis on the second one, an angry seal barking out their summer plans.  My neighbor didn’t seem to notice that my eyes weren’t able to focus on her, and I’m fairly certain she didn’t hear my Dexcom receiver hollering at me from the front steps of the house.  But I knew that another minute or two was the chasm between attempted conversation and calling for medical help, so I had to embrace the awkward.

“I’m so sorry; I know I mentioned that I have diabetes and you said your college roommate also had diabetes.  So I’m really, really low at the moment and I need to go inside to grab some juice.  Would you excuse me for a minute?”  I was trying to be polite and not let on that my thoughts were knocking around in my head like socks in a dryer.  She nodded and I took off for the kitchen, where I downed a glass of grape juice as quickly as I could.  My CGM only told me I was “LOW” and I cursed myself for not responding faster to the beeping.

Coming back outside, we stepped back into conversation without much pause, watching our kids play in the front yard.

“Sorry about that,” I said.  “No problem at all,” she warmly responded, not missing a beat.

And I kept an eye on my CGM graph, watching my blood sugars rise and kindly deposit thoughts back into my head.

Plug It In.

I’m not a good traveler, but I am a good packer. Part of my preparation ritual is to make sure I only bring what I need and that outfits are tried on and coordinated before I go. (Because there was that one time I brought a shirt and forgot pants and that made for a different sort of panic before a presentation.)

Thinking ahead helps me prevent over-packing. (I have made a rule about not checking baggage, ever, if I can help it.) So before I left for a business trip on Thursday afternoon, my house was a brief flurry of coat hangers, dresses, and shoes. I tried on four or five different things before chucking them into my suitcase (who am I kidding – I military roll everything so it fits) and then it was time to get ready to leave the house.

It took me almost an hour to realize that, in my frenetic fashion show, I had my pump clipped to my hip but not connected to my infusion set. It wasn’t until I heard the Dexcom alarm let loose with the HIGH ALARM! that I realized my tubing was wagging like a tail. Disconnected from my body. Leaving me on an unintentional insulin hiatus.

So many variables influence my blood sugars – exercise! Insulin levels! Food! Stress! Exclamation points!

But sometimes it’s as simple as remembering to plug shit in.

Egg Roll.

The trappings of Easter baskets can be a real kick in the ass for me, diabetes-wise.  Jellybeans, chocolate eggs, those Cadbury mini eggs of doom … all delicious, but rarely worth it for me because all of these high-sugar indulgences make for gross blood sugars.

Thankfully, the most mild of milds on my blood sugars are eggs.  And Easter isn’t short on eggs of the hard-boiled and highly decorative type.

Eastaaaaah.

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

“Do you want a jellybean, Mom?”

“No thank you.”

“But you can take insulin for the jellybean?”  My daughter paused a minute.  “OOOH! Or you could have a hard boiled eggie instead!” And she’s fine with that suggestion, only faltering slightly when she sees that the egg dye leaked through the shell a bit during the coloring process, tie-dying the hard-boiled egg white.

“Does the color part need insulin?” she asks.

Learning about diabetes, egg by egg, bird by bird.

Looking Back: Visual Reminders.

Nothing helps remind me more about the importance of being familiar with serving sizes and what they look like than being on the road for a few days.  Meals away from the comfort and familiarity of my kitchen make for some guesswork, and these last few days have shown me that I could use a refresher on serving sizes.  Here’s a look back at a post from 2012 about keeping your eye trained as to how “half a cup” really shapes up.

*   *   *

A deck of cards.  A baseball.  A pair of dice and you only look at one of them. (Sorry for the clumsiness; I think it’s weird to write “A die.” as a sentence.  Looks odd.)  A tennis ball.   A hockey puck.

The things that health-related articles use as “visual cues” for portion sizes and serving sizes makes me wish I was more athletic, because then I’d have a really strong feel for the size of these different balls, etc.  (Sidenote:  Hey. Ever write something you want to immediately delete but then you keep it and just wish your brain was less daft?)  But these visual cue things are helpful for me, because if I don’t take note of just how big “one small apple” really is, it’s easy to lose track of how much I’m eating.  I need to constantly refresh my eyes on serving sizes, which in turn helps me better estimate carbs when I’m SWAG (aka Scientific, Wild-Ass Guessing)’ing it.

(Second sidenote:  The hamburger pictured here looks exactly like a fudge-drizzled chocolate cookie, which is making my brain very confused.)

Which is what I spent part of my morning doing today:  busting out the measuring cups in my house and reminding myself what certain foods look like when properly measured out.  I’m not shooting for serving sizes or anything FDA official.  I needed to do this purely for carb assessment reasons.  What does 35 grams worth of Rice Chex measure out to look like?  How much salad dressing is 10 grams of carbs?  Brain, be reminded of what 28 carbs-worth of banana goodness looks like!!

Birdy thought I was a basketcase this morning, measuring things out and then putting them back.  “No eat banana, Mama?”  “No more cereal and milk, Mama?”  “That chicken is very good, right, Mama?” By the time I started eye-balling the lunch meat and measuring it on our kitchen scale, she threw her hands up in disgust and went to find her Thomas trains.  (Tertiary sidenote:  Spencer, the silver, streamlined diesel train, is the same size as 15 grams worth of banana, dagnabit.)

But now my brain is brought back to reality.  Less guesstimating and more true and proper estimating, which should help me fine-tune my boluses a touch.  Reminders like this are helpful in keeping me from sliding down that slippery slope of eating 18 lb apples and bathtubs full of Golden Grahams.

(Last sidenote:  I’m sorry that only 2/3 of this post made sense.)

 

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