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Posts from the ‘Robot Life’ Category

Missing Meter.

The initial search through my bag was kind of nonchalant.  “Where is my meter bag?”  Bright pink with a smiling bear on one side, it’s a hard bag to misplace, even in the seemingly unending abyss of my purse.

But the flurry of leaving the house that morning to catch an early flight left me mentally snowed-in.  I brought it with me, right?  I know I checked my blood sugar that morning, and I had a clear memory (didn’t I?) of pricking my finger on the plane after we had reached cruising altitude, so where the hell was my glucose meter?  I had it just a few hours ago?

“Where is my glucose meter?”

The search went from casual to frantic in a matter of minutes, when I realized that my meter bag was nowhere to be found.  Not in my suitcase, not in my book bag, not in the rental car.  No memory of where the hell it could be, and all the moments I’ve ever checked my blood sugar on a plane were melting together.  Did that happen today, or had I been working off info from my CGM graph all day long?

Just as Chris and I confirmed that my meter was, indeed, MIA, my Dexcom sensor alarm went off, warning me that my sensor was going to die in two hours.  And the “low battery” alarm went off a few minutes later on my pump, reminding me that it needed a new battery.

“Everything is breaking and I’m an idiot.  I’ve never, ever left my glucose meter behind before.  Ever!  On so many of my trips, I’ve packed an extra meter, but even on the trips where I didn’t, I still didn’t lose my meter!  I’ve never lost my glucose meter before, in like three decades with diabetes.”  I was rambling, but frustrated.  The device I needed most to properly dose the drug I needed most?  Missing.  Data crucial to my safe survival?  Inaccessible without purchasing a backup system.

(And, as luck would have it, I had just refilled my meter bag with a brand new bottle of 50 test strips and a fresh AA battery for my pump.  Reminded me of the time I replaced my car’s exhaust system, filed the tank up with gas, and then proceeded to total the car.)

Thankfully, finding a pharmacy that sold the brand of glucose meter I had strips at home for was easy enough.  (I didn’t want to have to replace the meter, again, when I got home.)  And thankfully, we have the means to purchase a meter and a bottle of test strips without insurance coverage.  But holy shit, I was shocked to see the sticker price for a bottle of 25 test strips.

“Forty five dollars?  For 25 test strips?  That’s bananas!”  I said the pharmacist.  “How do people afford these things without insurance coverage?”

She shrugged.  “They don’t.  They buy the CVS brand and the strips that go with that one.  Most people don’t pay for the top tier strips out of pocket.”

“But the accuracy is …”

“It’s what it is,” she said.  She finished ringing up the meter and strips (and AA batteries for the pump), bringing my grand total up over $100.  For a meter, 25 test strips, and batteries.

“This is the price for maintenance,” I said to Chris.  “For the stuff that keeps me healthy.  I can’t imagine what the cost would be to do more than “maintain.’”

After reuniting with a glucose meter, our trip continued on without issue.  But throughout the rest of the week, I thought about having access, and having the financial means to replace things I accidentally lose, and being grateful.  I thought about the Spare a Rose campaign and how far $5 goes.

This holiday season, I’m more grateful than ever for more things than I realized.

(And when we came home on Friday evening and I went into the bathroom, I saw my glucose meter sitting on the bathroom counter, halfway hidden underneath a hand towel.  Never again!)

 

A Wicked Rash.

When I was younger, my pediatric endocrinologist told me that I shouldn’t be poking the syringes into the parts of my skin that didn’t hurt.  “If you don’t feel the pinch of the needle, that means you have scar tissue building up, which can lead to poor absorption of the insulin.”  She stayed on me about rotating injection sites, and even though I didn’t like rotating to new spots that hurt a little, she was right.  The more I rotated, the better my skin felt and fewer egg-bumps of scar tissue formed under my skin.

… shame on me for not following that same rotation protocol when it comes to Dexcom sensors.  I wear mine almost exclusively on my outer thigh because that’s where they feel the best, stay put the best, and are least apt to peel away before their time is up.  For several years, this worked fine because I rotated within the thigh site, making sure not to reuse an area in the same month.  But once the Dexcom adhesive rash started, I was screwed because the skin was taxed not just by the sensor itself, but by the residual rash.

Dexcom rash management has been better lately because of precautionary measures, but sometimes the rash flares up as a result of ten different factors (all ones that itch).  Last week, I was traveling for work and kept applying Opsite Flexifix tape to my Dexcom sensor as it was starting to peel away (and yes, I had a spare sensor on me but still didn’t want to pull the one that was working.  I’m a stubborn human.)  I covered that thing with tape.  And for two days, it was great.  But then it started to turn a little red underneath the tape (not the sensor adhesive, but the skin underneath the tape).  After another day, it went entirely bananas and turned bright red and started to swell.

“I can feel the heat of the infection through my jeans,” I said out loud to Chris.  At which point, I realized I was a frigging idiot for not pulling the sensor off.

Off it came, and what lurked beneath was gross.  (“It was the worst Dexcom rash … I ever seen!!”  Actual Large Marge quote.)  No way was I going to take a picture for evidence because it was horribly nasty and I’m irresponsible for letting the cost/convenience/reinstallation of the sensor supersede the integrity of my skin.  What was underneath the Toughpad was completely fine, but every bit of skin that had come into contact with the Opsite tape alone was raised, red, and borderline blistering.

It took a week for that site to heal, and only after I carefully applied Neosporin and bandaged to it.  Which brought me to that unfortunate realization:  I suck at rotating my Dexcom sensor sites.  And I need to be better about it, especially since the data is very important to me.

So I’m trying out a new spot in efforts to give my thighs some time to properly heal.  For the last week, I’ve had a sensor on my lower hip and it has worked much better than I thought it would.  It’s just below the belt time on my outer hip (see Gingerbread Man for placement accuracy because holidays) and despite the rub of pants, etc. it is staying put and not peeling up.  I have a little bit of Opsite tape on the lower edge and so far, so good.

I hope this sensor can run its seven day course without leaving a mark.  Because otherwise … itch, please.

Pun(ch) Line and Inkage.

I wish I could find the source for the following image, but I love it too much not to share.  (I think it was Type 1 Diabetes Memes but I can’t re-find it.  If you know the source, please leave a comment so I can link out appropriately!)  This is real life as a pancreatically-challenged cyborg:

The punch line!  The pun! Much joy.

And I came across this tattoo on Pinterest from user Carmen Bailey.  Her comment, in case you can’t read it:

“My cousin Jeff is getting married in just over a month, and his fiance has diabetes. He got this tattoo of an infusion set (from a insulin pump) to match his bride. I think it’s adorably romantic.”

Agreed.  This is adorably romantic and also safe from doorknobs, making it a double-win.

Insulin pumps:  A source of insulin infusion, tattoo inspiration, and comic relief since 1963.

 

Looking Back: Ironmom.

This morning, Birdy and I were talking about Halloween and our upcoming costume opportunities.  “You can be Batman, mom.  Just wear a black shirt and the mask and be helpful.”  “Sure, and I can stick my pump on my BatBelt?”  She laughed.  “Or you could put it in  your shirt and be Ironman.” 

Which reminded me of this post.  So I’m re-posting it, because being Ironmom isn’t too shabby.

*   *   *

“I really like Ironman.  And Superman.  And Spiderman.”  She paused.  “But not the Hulk, because he smashes things.  Why he smashes things?”

“He gets angry and that anger makes him turn into the giant green guy, and he smashes.”

My daughter, thanks to her father’s affinity for all-things superhero, has developed a taste for the slate of superheros and supervillains.  She rocks her Superman t-shirt at school, and her Batman pajamas at home with both encouraging regularity and vigor.  But that’s the nature of her being three years old – she is learning so much every day, taking in her surroundings and chewing on them until they make sense for her.

Part of what she’s hyper-fixated on, in addition to superheroes, is the location of  my Dexcom and insulin pump.  At least once a day, she asks me to show her my devices.

“Where is your Dexcom, mawm?” she asks me, patting my leg knowingly.

“Right here, on my right leg.”

“And your pump is right here, right?”  she asks, pressing her finger against the screen.

“Exactly.”

The other day, Birdy was troubled because she couldn’t find my insulin pump in the dress I was wearing.  “Mom, where is your pump?”

“It’s in the front of my dress, here,” I said, pointing to where the pump was clipped to my bra (disco boob style).

She contemplated this for a minute, and I could see the laundry list of information she’s been collecting in the last few weeks rolling around in the dryer in her head.

“You’re like Ironman, mawm.”

“Ironmom?”

She laughed that wild, unfettered laugh of a toddler who just learned what “a joke” is.

“Yeah!  Ironmom!  You made a joke.”

When Good Insulin Goes BAD.

Ninety percent of the time, my high blood sugar has an identifiable reason, and there’s a cluster of common causes.  Did I under-estimate the carbs in a snack and therefore under-bolus?  Did I over-treat a low blood sugar?  Did I eat without bolusing at all (it happens)?  Is there a lot of stress floating around that I’m responding to?

Most of the time, those questions cover the why.  Once in a while, my highs are for rogue reasons, like an air bubble in my pump tubing.  Or when I eat something carb-heavy right after an insulin pump site change (it’s like that first bolus doesn’t “catch” somehow).  Or I forgot to reconnect my pump.  Or if the cat bites through my pump tubing.

But rarely, if ever, is one of my high blood sugars the result of bad insulin.

Except it totally happened last week, when two days of bullshit high numbers had me mitigating every possible variable … other than swapping out the insulin itself.  (And clearly I’m stubborn and/or in denial about the quality of my insulin’s influence on my blood sugars?)  I rage-bolused.  I exercised.  I low-carbed the eff out of an entire day.  I did a site change at midnight to take a bite out of the highs.  Nothing.  The downward-sloping arrow on my Dexcom graph had gone on hiatus.

(Always a punched-in-the-gut feeling to see the word HIGH on a Dexcom graph, accompanied by an up arrow.)

But ditching the bottle of insulin entirely and swapping in a new Humalog vial?  That did the trick in a big way.  For once, it was the insulin.  Next time, it will surely be the cat.

Diasend: Now With More CGM!?

Is it a glitch?  A misfiring Internet tube?  A mistake that they haven’t realized yet and now I’m that jerk for pointing it out?  WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?!!

Dexcom data, now available for upload on Diasend.  I don’t know when this changed (last time I looked was over 18 months ago), but it’s working now.  Even here, deep in Rhode Island (can’t go too deep, actually, as it’s a very small state).

After digging through the box of diabetes-related cables that lives in my bathroom cupboard, I can easily upload my glucose meter (Verio Sync), insulin pump (Animas Ping – actually not the easiest upload because it requires dongle dexterity and I can barely say “dongle” without losing it, so being dextrous is extra difficult), and continuous glucose monitor (Dexcom G4).  All my data garbage, dumped into one source.

It’s not streamlined, but it’s closer, and I’ll frigging take it.

(For a list of supported devices, check out this link.  And if you knew Diasend worked with Dexcom for US accounts a long time ago, sorry for being late to the game.  Also, why didn’t you tell me?  I am now VERY EXCITED and the CAPS BUTTON is sort of STUCK.)

Best Intentions Need to Stick.

Yesterday, my bag was packed with all kinds of good intentions.  My CGM sensor was only three day old, on a bright and shiny Toughpad to prevent adhesive rash!  The Dexcom receiver was fully charged!  My CGM in the Cloud rig was all charged up and ready to send my data into the cloud so that I would have a safety net while traveling to Washington, DC for the night.  Extra test strips and a fully charged Verio Sync meter?  I’M ON IT.  My wallet even had a few slips of Opsite Flexifix tape cut into band-aid sized strips and wedged into the change purse, ready to help hold down a wilting sensor.

Much best!  So intentioned!

… which did me zero good when I arrived in DC and my receiver threw a SENSOR FAILED error message after I went to the gym, forcing me to reboot before dinner.  Which meant I went to dinner without a CGM graph, which made me feel like I was sort of flying blind, but then I realized I left my glucose meter in my hotel room so I was actually flying blind without any way to check my blood sugar or calibrate my CGM during the meal.

… and then, sometime during the night, the sensor came loose and fell off my thigh.

All these good intentions? They need to STICK.

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