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Posts from the ‘Real Life Diabetes’ Category

Warning: The One About UTIs.

The last time I had a urinary tract infection was about ten years ago.

I used to get them every once in a while, and while I’m sure it was horrible at the time, these infections weren’t frequent enough to make a mark on my memory.  I know that ‘feeling,’ of the twinge of pain after urinating when the muscles re-clench and how that was the hallmark sign that I needed to call my doctor and go in for a urinalysis ASAP, but overall, these infections were few and far between.

The one firm memory I have of these infections was how quickly they would come on for me – in a matter of hours, I would go from “fine” to “decidedly not fine.”  My OB/GYN at the time confirmed what my endocrinologist had always told me:  type 1 diabetes makes issues like yeast infections and urinary tract infections move quickly and aggressively.

The worse one I had was at my grandfather’s funeral, which took place in the midst of my parents’ divorce and during a time when diabetes was unattended to (<– massive understatement).  I was slow in recognizing and responding to symptoms, slow in contacting a doctor, and pretty much slow to anything that even came close to self-care.  These days, I’m better about self-care, but even still, things like a urinary tract infection can crop up in a matter of hours and make a mess of things.

Last Friday afternoon, Chris and I were preparing for Birdy’s birthday party and doing the whole clean things/bake things/set up things cycle that comes with party hosting.  At 4.40 pm, I headed to the store to grab a few last minute things, and I felt fine.  I came home around 5.30 pm and still felt completely fine.  At 6.10 pm, I went to use the bathroom and had that weird twinge of pain while urinating.  And by 6.45 pm, I was using the bathroom every three minutes (not an exaggeration) and in extreme pain, with a fever of 101 and a Dexcom graph that was doubly pointed north.  By 7.30 pm, I was peeing blood and hosting every other symptom of a UTI (lower abdomen pain, constant and painful urge to urinate, pain when urinating, cloudy urine, blood in urine, shooting pain after peeing, fever, chills, and oh yeah, instant blood sugar issues).

“Decidedly not fine.”

Of course this happens on a Friday evening, when doctor’s offices are closed.

Which is why I am so, so thankful to be a patient in a doctor’s office where there is an on-call doctor who was able to return my message within 15 minutes and order a UTI test and also provide a prescription for antibiotics to kick the infection to the curb.  Even though I had to stop en route to the pharmacy (six minutes away) to use the bathroom, I was diagnosed and medicated by 8.45 pm and feeling much more human by 11 pm.   And by birthday party time (the next afternoon), I was almost completely better.

Thank you, excellent medical team, for being almost as quick as the onset of this urinary tract infection.  You saved me from peeing in pain whilst serving birthday cake at my kid’s party, and I’m very grateful.

(Note:  the frosting is yellow due to food coloring.  After all this discussion about pee, I wanted to make sure that distinction was clear.)

 

 

What’s On Your Bedside Table?

What do you mean, all the glucose tab jars were in the car and you were out of juice so you stashed one giant marshmallow on your bedside table in case of low blood sugars?

Potentially a bit gross, but practical.  Serves as a throw pillow when not in use.

Binge-Watching Causes Low Blood Sugars.

Dead Poet’s Society.  It might be a film from 1989, but it remains one of my favorites largely in part to Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet.

(He doesn’t care that Chris is with Chet.  Carpe diem!  And there’s a point to this – stick with me.)

Chris and I don’t watch a lot of television, but we have been swept up in the whole binge-watching phenomenon afforded by outlets like iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.  Even though we were late in getting into Breaking Bad, we caught up last year in a hurry just in time to immerse ourselves into the broadcast of the second half of season five (technology, bitch!)  We didn’t watch The Wire when it was originally broadcasted, but we did rip through five seasons of that show in a hurry.  And we finished True Detective last night (even though I will admit that I didn’t catch everything everyone was saying because the mumbling was oh my).  Binge!!

But we don’t watch every show together. The Good Wife, which I’ve just recently started watching while doing longer, steady cardio workouts at the gym, is my go-to show to watch solo.  Which brings us back to Knox Overstreet, because he’s a lead character in The Good Wife.  And for at least 40 minutes every day, for the last two weeks or so, good ol’ Knox has been helping me earn my steps for the day.

Last week, though, I made the mistake of trying to binge-watch at the gym and mistakenly lost track of time and blood sugars.  Instead of taking a peek at my Dexcom every ten minutes or so, I totally spaced.  Which meant that I did an hour of walking/running “blinded.”  I should have checked my blood sugar.  Instead, I walked to the car in a staggered pattern, not unlike Billy from Family Circus, unlocking the car door and haphazardly throwing all my junk onto the passenger seat while simultaneously fumbling for my glucose meter.

“Yes, I’m sure you’re right,” in response to the triple BEEP BEEP BEEP! of my Dexcom receiver, throwing rage from inside my gym bag.  My glucose meter confirmed the tri-beep with a blood sugar of 33 mg/dL.

It’s funny (not really) how the symptoms are dammed up until I see the number, and then once I am aware of my actual blood sugar, the dam gives and hot damn, panic hits.  My car, for a brief moment, looked like I let a glucose tab dust genie loose from its lamp as I worked through five glucose tabs.  I sat and waited until the feeling came back to my lips and my hands stopped shaking, then checked my blood sugar again to make sure I was okay enough to drive home.

The lesson learned?  If I’m going to spend more than my fair share of time watching Knox Overstreet woo Nurse Carol Hathaway, I need to watch my Dexcom graph closely.  Binge-watching is apparently the leading cause of Sparling low blood sugars.

 

Recapping #dayofdiabetes.

My documented day of diabetes wasn’t an all-star showing.  I didn’t hit one out of the park, but it wasn’t a complete shut-out, either.  I’m no bush-league player, so I knew how to handle the things that kept coming out of left field, even when a diabetes triple-play was in effect (morning highs! then a few lows! then a pump site change at midnight!)  But there’s no cure on deck, so I keep swinging for the fences and taking it one base at a time.

The day started with a higher blood sugar than usual, which I found frustrating because overnight numbers are usually my stable-zone (of course there are outliers, but my A1C stays stable largely in part to having overnights reasonably nailed).  Kicking off the day with a little grumpiness isn’t my style, but that’s how it started yesterday:

Sometimes my blood sugars don’t respond quickly to insulin, and I have to kick start things with a little exercise.  Self-employment affords me a flexible schedule, which I’m very grateful for, letting me jump on the ellipmachine for a few minutes to help move the correction bolus into action.

But after the initial morning high, blood sugars were oddly low yesterday.  I spent more time than usual chomping on glucose tabs.

Low blood sugars didn’t just jack up my day.  They cramped my parenting style, too, as I waited for the glucose to hit my system and reboot my brain.

Work still needed to be done, though, so I found myself prepping for conference calls in an unusual way yesterday:

Family dinner was punctuated by the soundtrack of diabetes.

My bedtime routine was ambushed by the need for an insulin pump site change (which I despise doing before bed, due to the ambiguity of the pump site working properly, having a post-site change high blood sugar, [insert other variables here]).

But overall, the technology I use to keep track of my diabetes protects me more than it inconveniences me, and I’m grateful.

And then the day was done. Over! Today is another day. As is tomorrow.

“It’s like deja vu all over again!”

If I Knew Then: Diabetes Blogging.

I wish I had known, at the outset, what a “blog” was.  When Chris suggested I start one back in 2005, the face I made was as though he had shoved a lemon into my mouth.  “A blaaaaahgg?”

I wish I had known that things like SEO would matter – not on the “I need more page views” sort of nonsense, but in terms of being found by the people I was hoping to connect with.  I started blogging in search of others who understood what diabetes in real life was like, and in starting that journey, I picked a blog title that took poetic license into account more so than SEO.  (I guess I should have included ‘diabetes’ in the title, but where’s the fun in that?)

I wish I had known how privacy concerns would change over the course of a decade. When I first started writing about diabetes, I wanted other people to find me, and I was happy to have my real name attached to my writing.  (I also didn’t know any better.)  Openly disclosing my diabetes was an asset in my pursuit of diabetes-related employment (leading directly to my job at dLife) and I was fine with being Googled.  But over time, and with the realization of how pervasive the Internet is, I wanted a less-is-more approach for certain topics.  Not everything needs to be shared, in particular moments where my family is concerned.  We have made certain decisions, as a family, but it doesn’t mean they are the right choice for everyone.  There is no “right choice,” – just varying perspectives and levels of comfort.

I wish I had known how much I needed to connect with peers who have diabetes.  I don’t know what it’s like for every person diagnosed with type 1 as a kid, but for me, there was this long period between diabetes camp and finding the DOC where I felt isolated and alone with diabetes.  I didn’t realize the missing link between “pursuing” and “achieving” my health-related goals was peer-to-peer support.  Having access to a community doesn’t make me like diabetes, but it does make diabetes feel less like something I’m inclined to hate.

I wish I had known there would be trolls.  And that they don’t matter.

I wish I had known how my writing would affect the people closest to me.  When I write about a low blood sugar that scared the hell out of me, I forget that my mother and father also read about that same low blood sugar, and it still scares the hell out of them.  My diabetes, though existing in my physical body, reaches out into my family and might scare them at times, too.

(To that same end, I wish I had known my mother didn’t know that I could pre-write posts and schedule them to go live at any given time.  For a while, my mom thought a new blog post in the morning meant I was awake and fine.  I hated taking that security away from her.)

I wish I had known there would be growing pains as the community expanded and grew in numbers, scope, and passion.  When the DOC was small, it was easy to know all the folks involved and for people to support one another.  Now, there are hundreds and hundreds of amazing voices and perspectives, and keeping up is damn near impossible.  Even the best feed reader and the strongest coffee can’t get me through everyone’s new updates, so I read as many as I can instead of reading as many as there are.  Sometimes I don’t agree with everything I read, but isn’t that the point?  For the community to expand my mind and my perspectives?  For the DOC to be the red pill?

I wish I had known that the community would be bigger than one state, or one country, or even one continent.  I wish I had known that I would find kindred spirits in London and Melbourne and Burlington.  I wish I had known that these people were there the whole time, living with diabetes just like I was, and that I wasn’t nearly as alone as I felt at times.

I wish I had known there would be a lot of people asking “How do I get involved?” Because then I’d be prepared to tell them that involvement requires participation.  You want to get involved with the diabetes community, online or off?  You need to put yourself out there, even just a little bit, and make yourself available.  Volunteer at local JDRF or ADA events.  If support groups don’t exist, start one.  If you want to become more connected online, go to where many people are connecting (try #dsma tonight, even!).  Start your own website.  There are many avenues for diabetes advocacy, and the need for your voice is critical.

But what I did know is that every voice matters.  And every voice has always mattered.  This community is huge and continues to grow because it needs to, and because there isn’t someone who tells the story of all of us.  We tell our own stories, and the power is found in the collective itself.  One diabetes blog or website or newsletter doesn’t define this community (there is no “blog of Sauron”… wait a second …), so share your story – please!  Raise your voice.  And maybe the difference we make can be felt in more that just our own lives.

 

Spring Cleaning.

Finally – FINALLY – the bulbs planted last fall are starting to make good on their promises.

I don’t much care for resolutions that throw anchor in January, but I am a big fan of spring cleaning.  Organizing diabetes supply closetsRebooting an exercise routine! Scheduling the next slate of medical appointments (endo, primary care, dermatologist for a long-overdue re-examination of diabetes device-related skin rashes)!  Exclamation points because it’s finally above 30 degrees and I’m burning off buckets o’ carbs mulching and weeding the garden!

Oh spring, you are the control-alt-delete of bad habits.

My Diabetes App Wishlist.

After a long day of diabetes rule-following and making an attempt to log all of my actions [insert laugh track here], I started drumming up another diabetes application wishlist.  Because I’m beyond tired of having five different devices that speak entirely different languages/require different charging cords/can’t work on the operating system I use/hate the idea of integration.

I’m in wicked curmudgeon mode today.  But stay on my lawn for a few more minutes, because I have a list, a la Veruca Salt.

I want a diabetes application:

    • … that auto-magically siphons the results from my glucose meter and logs them in a lovely, color-coded graph and logbook on my phone and on my computer.
    • Yes, I want my data on my phone and my computer, because while my phone is with me constantly and is good for everyday spot-checking, I like having the bulk of my data stored on my computer so I can see a week at a glance, a month at a glance, and a clue as to what my A1C might be at a glance.
    • I want to be able to email all of this data as a PDF (because Excel and I have a less than harmonious relationship) to my healthcare professional and whoever else I choose.  Or I can print it and put it into a blood sugar binder that I do not currently have but would have if my logbooks were this easy to compile.
    • And then, the data from my pump should just as easily be pulled off and graphed neatly alongside the data of my glucose meter.  Insulin doses plotted alongside blood sugar checks, with the option to add a smiley face when I fucking well feel like it because some days deserve a big, fat smiley face.
    • (Frowny faces and other emoticons would be a nice bonus, to add in accordance with my whims, as emoticons are sometimes the only recourse I have against a day that’s been truly and mind-bogglingly ridiculous in those ways only diabetes can be.)
    • It should go without saying, but I’ll say it:  the data from my Dexcom should follow the same sharing and integration platform, living in logbook and pie chart harmony with my glucose meter and insulin pump.  And all of that data should be visible on all operating systems EVEN A MAC HOW ‘BOUT THAT?!
    • I want to be able to look at this data in several different ways: at-a-glance, where I can see how my day is going (similar to the One Touch Reveal app); how a week looks, where I can see data broken into high-level pie charts, detailed logbooks, and a bunch of in-between options; and what I’d call an A1C level-glance, which would give me data (detailed and high-level) about how all of my numbers have tracked over the course of three months.
    • All of this data should move from my devices to the application without needing to cobble together proprietary cables.  Bluetooth is fine.  Cloud is fine.  Bluetooth cloud with a side of hazelnut iced coffee would be ideal.
    • Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if the application also synced up with my FitBit (or Shine or whatever other fitness tracker is the thing in use these days) so that I could see how exercise plots against blood sugar checks or insulin doses?  Yes, yes it would.
    • Another excellent detail would be if the application, upon access the diabetes devices, would confirm that each device is synced up with the right time zone.  So when I travel and the clock on my phone is updated, so are my devices.
    • And lastly, NO DONGLES.  I can’t handle that word. It’s too silly.

I know this kind of application isn’t flashy enough, and doesn’t benefit each respective company enough to actually work together and create something cohesive and workable, with an easy data flow and an even easier user interface, but whatever.  A girl can dream, right?

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