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Posts from the ‘Robot Life’ Category

A Sobering Experience

“Do you mind ringing out this orange juice first?”  I asked the lady who was working the cash register.

“No problem,” and she went bip with the scanner against the bottle’s bar code while my Dexcom screamed BEEP BEEP BEEP! from my phone.

I opened the bottle and downed the majority of it in one, open-throated gulp.  My son, strapped into the front of the shopping cart, reached over to the conveyor belt as the groceries were unloaded, one by one, by his mother with the bird hands.

“Hang on, little guy.  Here, play with this,” I said, handing him a crinkly toy elephant that was peeking out of my purse.  I ran my sleeve against my forehead to catch the beads of sweat that threatened to run down my face.  My ankles felt weak and I know I stumbled a little when I went to unload the contents of my carriage onto the conveyor belt.

“Miss, do you have a Stop & Shop card?” the cashier asked, sizing me up.  She was my mother’s age.  She watched me fumble with my wallet in search of the card, and I dropped it instead of landing it into her hand.

“Hang on a second,” I said, carefully bending over and plucking the card from the floor.   My son yelled, “YEAH!!!” and then “HEY!” from the carriage.  My blood sugar was still dropping and the Dexcom kept hollering.  Clumsy hands and the fog of hypoglycemia made my every movement look ridiculously awkward.

And I knew, knew, knew that the cashier thought I was drunk.

I read Riva’s article about hypoglycemic episodes looking like drunk moments and shook my head in recognition of the concept, but honestly hadn’t ever been mistaken as drunk when low before.  In college, I had this credit-card sized placard in my wallet that said something like, “I have type 1 diabetes.  If I seem drunk, please allow me to check my blood sugar to make sure I am not experiencing low blood sugar.”  I never had to use it, and my college roommates and I giggled at it once in a while, probably because we were actually drunk.

But yesterday at the grocery store, I wished that card had been in my wallet.  I would have handed it to the cashier and pointed sheepishly at the orange juice.

Instead, in the fog of my low, I gracelessly unloaded and paid for my groceries while wrangling my one year old.  Running my debit card for the purchase, I said to the cashier, “I have diabetes.  My blood sugar is low,” but I’m not sure she believed me.  My brain wasn’t sweetened enough to really care.  I was more concerned with pushing through to the other side of this low.

After we paid, I moved the carriage over to a row of benches just inside the main door of the grocery store and we sat there.  I finished my orange juice.  A few minutes later, the arrow on my CGM graph started pointing in a more respectable direction.  I almost went back to the cashier to explain myself more lucidly but decided against it.  Maybe next time I see her, I’ll explain.  For now, it was time to go home.

“Mama?  Mamamamamamamama …” rambled my little man.

“Okay, sweet boy.  We’re good to go.  Let’s go.”

Tandem X2 with Dexcom G5 Update

[Please read my Tandem disclosure.  I was not asked to write this post.  But I need to disclose anyway, because it felt weird not to.]

Even though the update email came in a few days ago, I didn’t have a chance to update my Tandem X2 insulin pump until yesterday afternoon.  My original intentions were to sit down (preferably with a cup of tea and my reading glasses, so I could look the part of “focused” which would hopefully, in turn, become real focus) and update my pump in a relaxed environment, but that’s not a thing in my house anymore.  Every time I went to update the pump, the little Guy needed a snack or Birdzone wanted to play Spit (she kicks my butt regularly) or one of the neighborhood kids would roll through the house or the phone would ring or … the list of distractions remains long.

So I had to just sit down at the kitchen table and update the damn thing, house tornado be damned.

It was easy.  Thankfully, because I was only able to keep half an eyeball on the process as it unfolded.

The information I needed – my pump’s serial number and my “update ID number” – was in the email from Tandem Device Updater (if you’re looking for it in your inbox), so once I downloaded the device updater software to my computer, it took just a few minutes to update my pump.  I plugged my pump into the charger and then stuck the charger into the computer’s USB port, followed the prompts, and let my pump get pumpier.

The device updater

I knew the pump was ready to roll once this screen came up –
the update ID from the email went here.

Once the pump was plugged in, this screen popped up.

“Whoa, your pump updates like an iPhone?”  The 13 year old boy who lives down the street asked.

“It does,” I said, watching the blue progress line for the update move across my computer screen.

“That’s cool,” he said.

Truth.  My X2 now grabs Dexcom G5 results and shows them on the pump.  And I’m still learning the ropes with this new update.  In total, the update took about 15 minutes to work through.  I decided to wait until I was ready for a site change because in doing the update, I’d need to swap everything out anyway, and would also have my IOB set back to zero.

I have my iPhone running the G5 app in addition to the pump, and both appear to be working fine.  I was concerned about battery life after making the update, but since it’s been less than 24 hours since updating, I’ll have to come back to that at another time.


Updated!!

What was nice, though, is that my CGM was already up and running on my phone before I updated my pump, so when the update completed on my pump, the CGM results showed up immediately.  It didn’t seem like I had to independently calibrate my pump and my Dexcom phone app.  I’m rebooting my CGM sensor as I type this, so I’ll have a better sense of how this all works in a few hours.  In addition to CGM functionality and battery life, I’m really curious to see what the payment/update reimbursement structure will look like for future updates.  The G5 update was free.

The bottom line, for me, is that updates are available for my insulin pump that don’t require me to wait for a FedEx box to arrive before I can access them, and that’s damn convenient.  Having a pump that can be updated from my house while dinner is cooking (read: burning), kids are running amuck, and emails are dinging makes diabetes fit better into my life … in that I don’t have to organize my life around diabetes.

Pockets.

I’ve been wearing an insulin pump since 2004 and even though I take pump vacations or go untethered every now and again, I prefer pumping over injections because it’s just EASIER to avoid high blood sugars if I’m wearing a pump.

Yep.  That’s my jam.  It’s not the basal rate programming that I can do (although that’s a nice plus) and it’s not the carbohydrate calculations that my pump can whiz through (although that’s a nice plus, too) and it’s not even the fact that I can be super discreet when taking my insulin (a welcomed departure from going full Science Guy at the dinner table) … it’s the ease of correcting highs.

With injections, I cannot be bothered to draw up 0.3u of insulin to correct a 155 mg/dL back down to 100 mg/dL.  For some reason, that doesn’t seem “worth it.”  But on the pump, I’ll ding in those little doses to keep myself streamlined, and my A1C thanks me for it.

So diabetes reasons win when it comes to pumping. But sometimes getting dressed is a pain in the ass, making mashing up my wardrobe with my diabetes devices a  challenge.  Insulin pump squirreled away in my bra as a disco boob is not optimal all the time.  And dresses don’t present a lot of options outside of the bra …

Unless.  The dress.  HAS POCKETS.

I love dresses.  Love, love, love.  They are comfortable and not too sweaty gross and they are just lovely.  Love them.  And when the dress has a pocket, you can snip a little hole right in the top of the pocket, lace your pump tubing through the hole, and nest your pump safely and soundly into the pocket pouch.

Like these *:

  1. Women’s Lace Yoke Striped Knit Swing Dress
  2. Frondescent Fete A-Line Dress in Dusk Thicket
  3. Renewed Resplendence A-Line Dress in Ocean
  4. One-Shoulder Ponte Fit-and-Flare Dress
  5. Vila Shift Dress With Pockets
  6. Linen fit and flare dress
  7. Short-sleeved Jersey Dress
  8. Knee-length Dress
  9. Women’s Soybu Sleeveless Surplice Dress
  10. Pack Everywhere Dress

It’s kangarooing your pancreas, without going full marsupial.  And I am a fan.

(* And none of these links are affiliate links.  They are just links to the dresses because POCKETS and PUMPS and those two things should be teammates for sure.  Ooh, and here are 33 [larry bird] more dresses that have pockets.)

Free Shower.

(to the tune of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Free Fallin’)

He’s a good pump, does his job well
Loves priming and bolusing too.
He’s a good pump, crazy ‘bout islets
Gives insulin when those islets don’t come through.

It’s a long week being my Dex sensor
There’s adhesive workin’ while I play
And I’m a happy girl cause I don’t even miss them
I’m a happy girl on site change day

And I’m free, free showerin’
Yeah I’m free, free showerin’

All devices are sitting on my counter
Going nowhere until I put them on my bod.
And all the good pumps are taking their short leave
And all the good sensors are still in plastic sleeves

‘Cause I’m free, free showerin’
Yeah I’m free, free showerin’

Free showerin’, now I’m free showerin’
Now I’m free showerin’, now I’m free showerin’

I’m gonna dry off and refill my cartridge
I’m gonna peel back adhesive tapey rings
I’m gonna free shower but then when it’s over
I’ll reconnect with these live-saving things.

For now I’m free, free showerin’
Yeah I’m free, free showerin’

Yeah I’m free, free showerin’
Oh! Free showerin’
Now I’m free
Oh!
Free showerin’

Magic Kingdom, Magic Bathrooms.

“Is that an insulin pump?”

I was standing outside of the stall in a bathroom in Tomorrowland, waiting for my daughter to wash her hands.

“Yes, on my arm here?  Yes, it is.”  I pointed to the infusion set on my right arm, the tubing snaking back up my sleeve into my dress.

“Oh!”  The lady smiled really big, relieved.  “Do you mind if I show my son when he comes out of the stall?  He’s five – was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was three.”

“Of course!”

The bathroom continued being a bathroom for a minute more, then her son came out.

“Henry, this lady is wearing an insulin pump.  Remember I told you about those?  Look, it goes right into her arm here!”

His little face was so little, just a few years older than my own son, a few years younger than my daughter.

“Hi, Henry.  I’m Kerri.  I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was seven.  This insulin pump is what I use instead of shots to take my insulin.  Want to see?”

He nodded.

“This is the little spot where the insulin goes in, and this tube connects here,” I pulled my pump out so he could see it.  “And the insulin is stored in here.”

Henry’s mom smiled.  “I was telling you about this!”  She turned to me.  “I was telling him about this.”

“If you touch this screen, it lights up.  Want to try it?”

His face broke into a grin.  I showed him how to tap the 1 … 2 … 3 buttons on my t:slim X2 to wake it up.  “If I wanted to take some insulin to have a snack, I’d press this button, tell it what to give me, and then I’d be all set!”

I turned to his mom.  “Are you guys here for the conference?”

She looked confused.  “What conference?”

Showing her the green bracelet on my arm, I explained that we had just spent the week at Friends for Life, hanging out with friends and making diabetes feel commonplace for a few days.  “So many families go.  Some parents bring their kids who have diabetes.  And in my case, I’m the one with diabetes, so I bring my kid to meet other kids of parents with diabetes.”

(This whole conversation is taking place while our kids are washing their hands and playing with the hand dryers.)

Before the next stall could flush, we’d figured out that we lived close-ish to one another, and that we had some common stomping grounds.  At my urging, Henry’s mom opened my phone and started an email to herself.

“I’ll send you an email after we leave the park with some details on the conference.  And if you have any questions about insulin pumps or connecting Henry with other kids who have diabetes, or anything at all about anything, I’d be so happy to connect,” I said.

All hands washed, we shook them, laughing about the awkwardness of meeting in a bathroom.  And then I sent my now-new favorite email intro ever, opening with, “We just met in the bathroom at Magic Kingdom (great way to start an email, right?) and I wanted to email you right away.

A few days ago, I heard from Maggie.  Our bathroom connection has come full circle.  Advocacy can happen anywhere: in a conference hall, on an airplane, in the grocery store.  Even in a bathroom at Disney World, our community is flush with connection and possibility.

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