Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hiatus

After much thought and consideration, I have decided to suspend the blog for the time being. I have just started work on my third novel and I want to be able to devote as much time as I can to that (which, at the moment, will still be very little, unfortunately). With a little luck and some time management practice, I anticipate rejoining the blogosphere later in the fall when the chaos of Summer is behind me.

See you then!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Insulin Binge Anyone?

Shortly after waking up on Sunday, I was overcome with the realization that I was getting sick. What? Now? After a beautiful 12 mile mountain climb? I should feel like a million bucks! I should be healthy as a horse! By Monday there was no denying it. A summer cold had made its home deep in the warm tissues of my lungs. (My lungs must be weak, because they are the only part of me that ever get sick!)

I am slowly recovering thanks to coconut water, vitamins, effervescing tablets, and all kinds of tinctures and teas. But my pancreas has been slow to respond.

Sickness = High blood sugars

I'm not convinced this phenomenon is limited to just diabetics either, we just have the means to find out about it (and we probably have the power to get way higher than those normal healthy folk!).

My week has been plagued with these unpredictable highs, even now, as I am starting to feel better.

So do I a.) accept this and raise my meal-insulin dose to compensate? or do I b.) rage bolus and see what happens?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Long Trek

  • 12:30 am
    • Breakfast- egg and cheese bagel and chia kambucha drink--75g carb
    • 2u of insulin (normally I would take 1u per every 30g of carb, but I wanted to set myself up to be a little high to start the trek)
  • 2:25 am
    • We hit the trail head--9,405 ft
    • blood sugar = 240
    • I the chalked up the high to nerves and excitement (a "fake-high") and didn't bolus for it
  •  3:24 am
    • Two miles in I start to lose my steam and feel the familiar symptoms of a low--sweaty, light headed, fat fingers (yes, very similar to the symptoms of hiking up a mountain...)
    • blood sugar = 59
    • I take 4 gluco tabs and try to slow my pace until the symptoms subside (stopping is never an option!)
    • Fifteen minutes later I eat an energy bar--18g carbs and 23g protein (homemade, great recipe!)
  • 4:25 am
    •  Just above tree line--10,700 ft
    • blood sugar = 86
    • I eat another homemade protein bar (and start to worry that I may run out of food before this thing is over! Normally I would have cut my long term insulin in half the night before, but in all honesty, I totally forgot to do so).
  • 5:30 am
    • Start sipping on coconut water to keep my sugars up through the two miles of rock stairs
  • 6:02 am
    • 12,400 ft
    • We hit the boulder field just after sunrise
    • blood sugar = 129 (much closer to where I want it to be)
    • I snack on some trail mix and a Laura Bar while I listen to my hiking partners discuss whether or not they can go on
  • 7:00 am
    • 13,000 ft
    • I convince the others to at least make it to the keyhole before we turn back (this is what came out of my mouth after a lot of tongue biting and patience--I felt better than I have the last three times and was more than ready to make it to the summit)
  • 8:36 am
    • 11,300 ft
    •  Back down by the Chasm Lake turn off
    • blood sugar = 170 (probably that high from the rage I was feeling at having to get out of bed at midnight just to go on a little stroll)
  • 11:16 am
    • Back at the trail head
In the end, the trip took just under 7 hours and we traveled 12.9 miles. I was seriously disappointed that we didn't make it to the summit, but it was still a beautiful trip and I got some great pictures!









Thursday, August 2, 2012

2 Days and Counting

Long's Peak: Round 4 is looming just around the corner. While I have already bested her three times before, I am not willing to get cocky about the task ahead of me. She is a crafty beast!

Tomorrow I plan to go to bed right when I get home from work. Even if I do manage to fall asleep (which I won't) I am still only looking at 6 hours of rest before I have to get up at midnight and jump in the car (there is something sick and wrong about starting your morning at midnight). the first time I made this journey four years ago, I got stopped at a DUI checkpoint on my way out of town ("No officer, I haven't been drinking, I just got out of bed!"). But once you get to that trail head and start marching in the cool, black forest, all that crabbiness about early mornings fade and the sense of adventure sets in. It is an amazing feeling.

And this is me packing light!



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Big B

Last weekend was a little crazy. I ran a 5k Saturday morning (the spotted monster and I came in at 24:33) and then catered a 13 hour wedding (actually the wedding was only about 10 hours, but hand washing all their dishware took well over 3 hours). I didn't get home until two in the morning. I spent most of Sunday on the couch complaining about how much my feet hurt and watching my blood sugars play out like the profile of a mountain range (high. low. high. low.).

But that is nothing compared to the daunting task that awaits me this weekend: Long's Peak, aka "The Bitch." Seven miles of unrelenting trail with hazards like "the boulder field," "the aunt hill," "the narrows," and "the ledge." 14,225 feet of elevation gain (ok that's not exactly true, but it certainly feels like that much). A billion rock stairs to heave yourself up (seriously, no exaggeration). 3,000 foot cliffs guarding the final ascent. And when you do finally make it to the top, you just have to turn around and do it all again.

This will be my fourth Long's climb (despite me swearing that I will never do it again each and every time I do it). The first time, I wasn't diabetic and it took us 14 hours. The second time, I went with a couple friends who were afraid of heights and I had been diabetic for four months. That one took us 16 hours. The third time, last year, I was a master of my sugars and climbing with two master hikers. It took us 10 hours.

This year? As usual I'll just be happy to make it up and back alive.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

You Put that Where and Other Reasons Not to Vomit

Insulin and vomiting do not go together. That's something T1Ds know all to well. You calculate your insulin dose based on how much food goes in. When some of that food comes back out later, that can be dangerous. We are talking anti-vomitose suppository dangerous (and what could be more frightening than a suppository?!). I will regretfully admit that there have been times in my diabetic life, when I have been placed at the foot of the porcelain god by my own means (it's a mistake you only make once or twice... or five times).

But last night, after a celebratory dinner at Carraba's (we were celebrating the fact that I had a gift card to Carraba's) and trivia night at Ryan's, I found myself meeting the toilet head first late in the night. Luckily, my BS was already riding a little high thanks to the festivities of the night, and the purging had only a positive effect there, bringing me down to a respectable 88 (still, if I had the choice, I would NOT do it again).

But the question remains: Was it the talapia from Carraba's (do Italians know how to do talapia? I've only ever had good talapia in Ecuador)? Or the one bite of pizza I had at Ryan's? Or those brown, skanky limes they put in my drink during trivia? (And no, it was not the drink itself. That particular brand of up-chucking is proceeded by massive vertigo and an unyielding need to end my suffering with a quick shot to the heart).

It may be a question we never answer. But for the time being, I will be throwing away my left overs and refusing all drinks adorned with suspect limes.


On a completely different note, I found a short article about apple cider vinegar and diabetes--something I have wanted to do some experimenting with. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Week of Goals

My goals for the week:
  • Come to terms with my new meter (yes, I finally gave in to my insurance--I am now officially a One Touch user)
  • Start training for the Long's Peak climb on 8/4 (this will be the fourth time I have climbed the 14,225 ft beast, but that doesn't make it any easier)
  • Find a good multi-grain bread recipe and figure out how to actually get the damn thing to rise for once
  • Complete the second harvest of my porch garden and make some kick-ass home-grown salsa
  • Get the maintenance guy out here to tell me why my air conditioner is leaking green liquid
  • Decide what sacrifices I need to make in my daily life so that I may actually start working on my third novel (the one I have written ten times over in my head, but have yet to put on paper)

They have grown a bit since that first picture.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Benefits of Boring

For the past couple weeks I have been trying desperately to save money for my September vacation to Costa Rica. And for the past two weeks, my blood sugars have been exceptional.

Coincidence?

Could it be that living simply and within my means can actually have a positive impact on my diabetes?

I am not going out as much, which means I am not eating strange and decadent meals of unknown carb counts at restaurants. I am not buying beer by the pint or being tempted with dessert. I am grocery shopping with a decidedly reserved and simple plan of action and making meals that fall into the "old stand-by" category. And I am spending less time consuming, which means I have more time for things like exercising, biking, and walking the dogs.

So, could it be that a boring, simple life is exactly what it takes to master this disease???

No. Absolutely not.

(Because, what would be the fun in that?)

Monday, July 16, 2012

IVs and Vampires

Flashback Continued...

That night in the emergency room was the first time I had been in the hospital since I was born. It was a strange, chaotic place that bore no similarities to my favorite hospital TV dramas (no hot doctors battling outrageous personal issues while heroically saving my life). My phone died almost immediately after I arrived, which severely limited my ability to communicate with my now panicking family and friends. While I was down in the ER in a tiny closet of a room being strapped up to all matter of machine, my brother and his girlfriend would take turns coming in to talk to me, but it wasn't long before it got late and became painfully clear I wasn't going anywhere.

After they left, it was just me, my Diabetes for Dummies book, and a swarm of doctors and nurses buzzing into my room then out every few minutes. I quickly got used to telling my complicated story.

"You're a diabetic but you don't have insulin?"

"Well, I just got diagnosed this morning, and my doctor didn't give me any..."

By midnight, it was clear I was going to stay the night. Thanks to IV insulin, my blood sugar was starting to fall, but even after two hours I was still hovering around 400. They wheeled me out of the ER and through a long corridor and up to ICU.

I spent the next couple hours reading my diabetes book. There was no way I could get to sleep, and even if I did, I had nurses coming in to take vitals on me every half hour. And beyond that, it was all just a little bit exciting. I had my first IV, my first insulin shot (they were hitting me with insulin from all angles), and my first blood draw. (By the end of my third year with diabetes, I have had over 25 IVs [mostly thanks to a clinical trail I was in], over 15 blood draws and about 4,380 insulin shots.)

By 3:00am my head was pounding as my brain began to expand back to normal size thanks to a never ending supply of IV fluids and I was finally willing to get some sleep. It wasn't easy. Aside from the constant barrage of nurses, I had an unusually young looking lab tech in a wife beater try to steal my blood in the darkest hours of the night (lab tech or vampire? I'm still not certain).

I finally fell asleep around five in the morning. Not much later, as the first rays of sun broke the black of night, I rolled over to find my mom sitting quietly next to my bed. I wasn't sure where she had come from or how on earth she had crept so quietly into my room, but I was certainly glad to see her and to this day, the sight of her sitting there is one of my fondest memories.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"HI"

Flashback

I was first diagnosed with diabetes by my family doctor while visiting my parents on a weekend home from college. Not having dealt with many cases of T1D, my doctor referred me to the Barbra Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. She said she would contact some of her colleagues there and set up an appointment for me for the end of the week. And then she gave me a meter and sent me on my way, without a prescription for insulin (not that I would have known how to use insulin even if she had given me one).

I made the two hour drive back up to Fort Collins later that day. I had no idea what else to do. I had been sick for six weeks, what was a couple more days? And besides, I had already missed one day of school. But there was a problem: Now I had a meter. knowledge is power, right? As it turns out, sometimes it's better to stay in the dark.

That night I ate a modest meal (I now knew that carbs were the enemy, but, like most of the population, I had a very warped view of what carbs were and where they were found). My doctor had instructed me to test my sugars before bed and call her if my levels were above 300. After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I pulled the meter out and set it on the bathroom counter. I carefully pulled out a test strip and stuck it into the strange looking device just as I had seen my doctor do earlier. I pricked my finger with the lancet, panicked for a moment when no blood came out, pricked it again with more conviction and pushed the red bubble up to the strip. The little machine beeped and started thinking. After a moment, the meter beeped again and a message appeared on the screen. "HI" was all it read. What? What the hell does that mean? Is it broken? Should that say "81"?

I pulled the strip out and inserted another one and tested again. Again the screen showed "HI." I raced into my room, hands shaking and a cold sweat breaking down my back. I pulled the instruction sheet from the meter box and started flipping through the pages wildly. Finally I found it: "'HI' will appear on the screen when blood glucose levels test to be over 500."

500!?!

Tears started to gush from my eyes as my body sprung into full panic mode. I grabbed the vile of test strips and struggled to remove the cap with shaking fingers. Just as the lid came loose I dropped the whole vile into the sink. I scrambled to collect the test strips before they got wet and began to cry even harder.

By the time I got a test strip loaded and a decent blood bubble ready to test, my bathroom counter was littered with soaking wet test strips and streaks of blood. The third test agreed with the previous two and a moment later I was on the phone, frantically dialing my mother. While she called my doctor to relay the message, I called my friend and told her to stand by because I might need a ride to the hospital.

My mom called back. Yes I needed to go to the emergency room. She had already called my brother (who was attending the same college) and he would be by soon to pick me up. Within ten minutes my driveway was packed with cars as my brother and his girlfriend and my friend and her boyfriend all swooped in to my rescue. Still in my pajamas, I jumped in my brother's car and we were off.

By the time we reached the hospital my disposition had flipped completely. I was calm. Everyone around me panicked, but I was calm. I had one very simple realization hit me on the drive: My blood sugar was dangerously high, but that was unlikely to be anything new. I had been symptomatic for six weeks. I had been gorging myself for six weeks in the face of starvation in the midst of plenty. I had eaten way bigger, carb packed dinners than the one I had had tonight. And I felt fine, well, as fine as I had all month. In fact the only thing that had changed was the meter. I wasn't going to keel over or slip into a coma. I was fine.

In the ER the nurse knelt down before me and tested my blood with her much bigger, much fancier glucose meter. After a few seconds the machine beeped and the screen flashed. 598. But I was fine. I was fine.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

System Reboot

For a diabetic, fasting can be a four letter word. If you have insulin on board then you'd better be eating consistent meals or you will crash hard. But in my endless experiments I conduct on myself, I have found that there is a place for fasting within my own diabetic world.

I use fasting as a reboot. When insulin needs are skyrocketing and blood sugars are flying high, then low, then higher. And when I have gotten so off routine that a simple turn in the right direction isn't going to get me back to normal fast enough. In that case (i.e. after every vacation I take), fasting works wonders in realigning me on my path to diabetes gold.

Of course, the five day juice fast/detox I so long to be able to do (though I probably lack the will power for anyway) is out of the question. My fasting style--what I call an Easy Fast--is a little different. I eat breakfast--a fiber and protein packed breakfast. And then for the rest of that day, I exist completely on water with lemon and decaf tea (the act of abstaining from all that is flavorful would likely end in my mental demise, so herbal tea is a must to get me through the day). I don't exercise and I don't over exert myself. The next morning, after a full 24 hours without food, I eat breakfast as usual and jump back into my strict, normal routine. (Yes, I was fasting yesterday after my fun-filled trip to Montana over the holiday weekend. And yes, that may have had something to do with the rage.)

I find this kind of fast does two things for me. One, it gives my gut a break. As a person who eats variations of the same meals just about every day, any step off track often leaves me suffering from Angry Intestines. After a few days on this foreign diet, I am usually feeling it in my energy levels as well. And it's not just the food itself, it's the amount I eat of it (what can I say, my mind and body firmly believe that VACATION means it's time to make up for all the months of strict portion control and general military style routine). A fast is the perfect respite for my overworked stomach.

And two, it gives my pancreas a break. I'm not sure how much insulin my body still produces, but I know for a fact that when I abuse my body by upping my portions and doing more sitting than standing, my insulin needs go way up. It's like my pancreas only has so much to give at any given moment and if it can't keep up with demand than it throws its hands up and walks out. But on a fast day, it's my pancreas that gets the vacation. Once breakfast is digested, it has twenty-four hours to kick back and relax. After a fast day, I find my insulin needs drop much quicker than if I just try to get back on my normal routine and wait it out.

Of course--and this should really go without saying because you should question everything anyone tells you, especially about managing YOUR diabetes--this is what works for ME. If you are going to try it there are two things to keep in mind: Check your blood sugar frequently; And if it drops, eat something! As all diabetics know, making compromises to fit your needs at any given time is the only way to stay healthy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Excuse Me While I Rage

Dear Mr. Insurance Company,

Thank you for being sooooo easy to deal with. I'm glad your phone number doesn't appear anywhere on my member card, after all, why on earth would I ever need to contact you? It's not like I have ever had a question about a bill, or a benefit. Its not like I have ever gone to the pharmacy and had my jaw unhinge and fall to the floor in a bloody heap when the teller read me the total.

But honestly, I'm glad I have to get on the internet and look you up before I am able to give you a call. You know why? Because I loath calling you. I LOATH it. I would rather submerge myself in a vat of ice than to be subjected to the dispassionate, dim witted teller that answers the phone. Can I help you? IT SURE DOESN'T SEEM LIKE IT. But really I don't blame them, after all, it's not easy answering a phone call half a world away and pretending like you actually work for the company you say, and are not in fact just a telephone operator in a damp building in Bhutan with another caller inquiring about motorcycle insurance holding on the other line.

No I blame you Mr. Insurance. I blame YOU for my rage because you are the reason I spent half a day scouring the internet, printing off paperwork, filling out paperwork, faxing the paperwork to my doctor, refaxing the paperwork because my fax machine apparently wasn't working, breaking the fax machine when it continued not to work, driving to my doctors to hand deliver the paperwork, waiting in the waiting room with a menagerie of sick people, and finally handing the paperwork to my doctor so she can scribble out a prescription.

And was that the end of it? Of course not, that would still be too simple for you. Because that i wasn't dotted and that t wasn't crossed, the mail-in pharmacy decides to give me a call. I try to call back but of course they are closed. So I wait. And when I do get a hold of Mr. Aziz who mistakenly answers the phone with the wrong company name and then quickly corrects himself, we finally get things squared away. WRONG. Because two days later I get another call. Well of course you must get my permission to run my credit card if the total is above--HOW MUCH!?! But why Mr. Aziz??? Why is it so much??? Yes of course, I will call my insurance company right away, of course they will know!

Just let me find the number...

So I scream repeatedly at the automated woman who asks me questions but can't understand me when I use certain four letter words in my response, and I eventually am put through to a real human--who may or may not actually be Mr. Aziz once again. Oh, this is a question I should be asking the mail-in pharmacy and not my insurance provider? Of course, why would my insurance have any idea why they are charging me 55% on a prescription that should only cost me 35%? That clearly has nothing to do with you, Mr. Insurance.

Back to the mail-in people it is!

But this time I press a completely new set of buttons and am put on with a whole new branch of people within the phone web of cyberspace. And we talk and talk and I threaten him with cutting words when he tries to tell me to call my insurance about this issue and finally we find the problem.

Oh, these kinds of test strips are non-formulary?

So unless I want to sell a kidney I should change my meter brand?

And get a new meter?

And throw all the other ones in a box somewhere because they weren't good (cheap) enough for you to cover?

And in order to get a different kind of test strip I will need to fill out more paperwork?

And go back to my doctors?

And re-fax it in?

And wait another week for a response?

And I will by that time, of course be out of tests strips completely, so I should go to the walk-in pharmacy?

And pay an arm and a leg, even though the point of this whole mail-in endeavor was to avoid such outrageous charges?

Excuse me, what was your name? Where do you live? Do you usually lock your back door at night???? 

...

So I rage and I rage. But in the end I give in. Because I am at your mercy Mr. Insurance. I LOATH you. But I am at your mercy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Taking a Holiday

4th of July on a Wednesday spells a long, busy week at the boarding kennel. But, seeing as I have spent the last month or so pouring every ounce of myself into that place, I have decided to forgo the madness this year. Instead, Colter, myself, and the dogs will be road tripping up to Montana tomorrow for a looooong weekend get-away.

For my brain, this means a nice relaxing time spent in a beautiful country with my book, my writing, and my pups. We'll be celebrating the Fourth and Colter's mom's birthday with some fun, some laughter, and probably some wine. To put it simply: It will be amazing.

But for my pancreas, it means seven hours on the road trying desperately to avoid all manner of gas station snackery (I pack a plethora of veggies, nuts, and tea so I can engage in the constant grazing my mind so desires on long, boring car rides without so many of the harmful sugar spikes that are already guaranteed by the simple fact that I will be sitting down for more than an hour straight). And of course, after we get there I will have to try and talk myself out of this idea that vacation = gluttony (which = poor dietary choices, which = poor sugar control, which = sky rocketing insulin needs).

But in the end, I still see it all as a small price to pay for a little R&R and mental sanity (because my diabetes control would be much much worse if I went insane, right?)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Today

The sun has been conspiring against me. It has been raging since the last weeks of Spring without signs of ceasing. It has been dancing violently on the parched grass and trees of Colorado forests and lighting them up like kindling. The smoke has joined the conspiracy and has been swimming low across my town for weeks. It has been laughing at me from the other side of closed windows, daring me to come out and play.

Between the sweltering heat that lasts deep into the night and the blanket of suffocating smoke, I have been forced to hang up my running shoes. But today I will prevail. Today I get up at 5:00am. Today I slink out into the first rays of morning sun before the heat sets in and before the wind drives the smoke into town. Today, I run.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Juice

When I opened the cupboard to get a glass this morning, I found a carton of juice staring me in the face.

A half-full carton of juice? In the cupboard?

Oh that's right. I had a low last night.

Some things only diabetics (and lunatics?) have the pleasure of experiencing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Right Kind of Sacrifice

I am finally taking a long, deep sigh after one hell of a work month. A multitude of factors, including an attempt to put together a fundraising event for a local dog rescue (eventually successful, but not without cost to my sanity), all led to the last few weeks being some of the most stressful of my life. I had to make a lot of sacrifices in my daily routine just to keep from going insane (this blog, unfortunately, being one of them).

And all this sacrificing has started me thinking (now that the madness is over and my brain is again capable of doing so). Few people know daily sacrifice the way a T1D does. I don't know any healthy diabetic that hasn't had to change their lifestyles (turn it upside down really) in order to stay healthy. You change what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you exercise, when you exercise. You change your social interactions, you change your likes and dislikes, sometime you even have to change your friends. All in the name of living with diabetes.

But I, long ago, learned that you can't live with that mindset. If you look at everything you do for the sake of staying healthy as a "sacrifice," you won't stay healthy for long. So, I no longer make sacrifices in my life in order to stay a healthy diabetic. I now, instead, make sacrifices in my diabetes health in order to live a little.

A healthy diabetic is who I am. But what's the point of staying healthy in order live, if you never actually live?

So, I still make sacrifices. I sacrifice a perfect blood sugar streak in order to go out for a drink with my friends. I trade in that beautiful 5.5 A1C for a glutinous Thanksgiving with my family. I go on exotic vacations and fun-filled road trips knowing full-well the traveling will set my sugars off for days. I throw carb counting out the window so I can enjoy a stress-free and romantic night out with my boyfriend.

The point is, I LIVE with diabetes.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Can't is a Dirty Word

Things I have been told I can not or should not do by peers, doctors, liability waivers, and strangers, because I am a diabetic:

  • Get a tattoo (I have three)
  • Get a massage (get one every couple months)
  • Get a facial (have had one)
  • Get a manicure (have not had one, but only because pretty nails don't last long where I work)
  • Do a shoulder stand (my second favorite yoga move)
  • Drink alcohol (guilty as charged)
  • Walk barefoot (I would do it ALL the time if society would let me)
  • Eat dessert (I have been known to indulge)
  • Exercise (won a metal a couple weeks ago at a 5k--second fastest time in my age group)
  • Participate in extreme activities (I've climbed 3 14ers, finished a 27 mile mountain bike race, and I will be spending most of September at a surf camp in Costa Rica)
  • Get decent health insurance (ok, so far this one is proving correct)
What are some things you have been told you can't or shouldn't do, and how have you proven them wrong?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Whole Food Experiment: Vanadium

What is it? Vanadium is a trace mineral that aids in insulin's ability to move glucose into cells.

Recommended daily intake: No more than 1.8mg (though there does seem to be some conflicting information on this--definitely talk to your doctor or dietitian if you are taking vanadium supplements).

Whole Food Sources:

  • Dill Weed
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Shellfish



Disclaimer (because this is America): I am not a dietitian or a physician. I am a diabetic armed with a giant book called Prescription for Nutritional Healing (Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, 2010) and access to a whole slew of nutritional websites. I experiment on myself constantly, but that does not mean you should. Unless, of course, your doctor says its ok.

Helpful sources for vanadium information: livestrong.com, vitalhealthzone.com, UMM.com 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Calculating on the Fly

Calculating carbs at a restaurant is always difficult. The food comes to you all dressed and pretty, the carbs intermingling with the fats and proteins. The apparent quantity skewed by the size of the fancy plate. Sugars hiding in the dressings and marinades. And don't forget about the bread you downed before your meal came. Or that spoonful you stole off your table mate's plate. And you should always consider the Q factor (aka the quantity factor--the more fats and proteins you cram into your stomach the longer those carbs take to digest, causing you to miss that key moment when your insulin and glucose digestion are supposed to peak at the same time).

Calculating at restaurants is difficult.

But having a paper table cloth an a crayon make it a little easier.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pancreatic Abuse

I am finally recovering from what was a VERY busy weekend. There was a 5k (my spotted sidekick and I took 2nd in my age division), a festival complete with booze, greasy food vendors, and awesome 90's rock, my family was in town, and every moment I wasn't playing, I was working. Add it all up and what do you get? A little pancreatic abuse.

The morning started out promising. I woke up in the 90s, ate a normal breakfast and downed a protein shake (17g protien, 20g carb, 3g fat) before the race. After the 5k I had to stick around the festival to work the booth, pimping out my dog daycare to the half interested passers by. I ate a granola bar (15g carb) and made it easily to lunch in the low 100s. After that, me and my family, who had come up for the Taste of Fort Collins festival, all jumped on our bikes for the 3 mile journey into old town. Half way there I felt my sugar dip and had to pop four glucotabs at a stop light. The lows meant I was free to indulge a little at the festival without much of a consequence (at least, that's what I told myself). And indulge I did. We made the long bike ride home after a few too many luke-warm festival beers (but who doesn't love flying down a dark bike path when your a little tipsy?). I was a low 77 before bed, and ate a small snack before crawling under the sheets.

I woke the next morning feeling a little anxious and looking a little flush. 42. And from the throbbing headache and puffy face, I guessed I had been low for most of the night. I ate a small snack while waiting for the others to get ready for breakfast. The low was biting at my mind the entire meal and I made the easy mistake of over indulging. My blood sugar peaked a few hours later at 203 and continued to seesaw throughout the day.

Apparently beer and exercise can be a little too much for failing pancreas to handle.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Whole Food Experiment: Coenzyme Q10

What is it? Coenzyme Q10 is an oil-soluble, vitamin-like substance that helps improve circulation and stabilize blood sugar.

Recommended daily intake: 80mg

Whole Food Sources:

  • Red Meats (wild game contains higher concentrations than domestic; boiling the meat preserves more coQ10 than frying)
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, herring, trout; boil to preserve higher levels)
  • Oils (canola and soybean)
  • Nuts and Seeds (peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, pistachios; raw seeds have higher levels than roasted)
  • Hard Boiled Eggs

Disclaimer (because this is America): I am not a dietitian or a physician. I am a diabetic armed with a giant book called Prescription for Nutritional Healing (Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, 2010) and access to a whole slew of nutritional websites. I experiment on myself constantly, but that does not mean you should. Unless, of course, your doctor says its ok.

Helpful sources for Coenzyme Q10: Livestrong.com, UMM.com 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Adventures in Catering

Among a fist-full of crazy endeavors that have been monopolizing my time lately is my new job as a caterer. As a person who has spent most of their work life talking to dogs, the food service industry might seem an odd choice. But, the pay is good, the hours are flexible, and I had an in with one of the other employees. It is the perfect second job to put a little spending cash in my pocket. And in fact, it just may be the most perfect job for me ever! It's all about food (delicious, tantalizing food), expressing my anal-retentiveness (napkins and silverware should be straight!), and running around like a mad woman (empty glass there, empty plate there, my god, get that woman some water stat!)--All things I am very good at.

But when you are a diabetic, no new task is ever a simple one. It is always an adventure. Throw in free food (including chocolate cake you can smell from ten feet away), a lot of moving and sweating, and a touch of nervous anxiety, and you have yourself an all out expedition into an unknown land.

I showed up to the catering place for my first gig on Saturday. Nervous, excited--my blood sugars were teetering on the high end of normal. I was thrown in the mix immediately--Fill this up! Put this in the van! Now go get that! Quick! (BS normalizing.) Then it was a one hour car ride to the ranch where the wedding was being held. (BS threatening to climb again.) Followed by an all out sprint to get the tent set up before the wedding party took over. (Dropping.)

By 2:00 we had everything in place and ready for the reception. And it was exactly two hours past my lunch time. Not fully sure of the etiquette associated with eating the food you are serving, I opted instead for the emergency peanut butter and agave sandwich I had packed. The second I took the first bite, the crowd of wedding patrons over at the gazebo started to cheer and stand up. Crap. They were heading for the reception tent where I was supposed to be. But the insulin was already on board. I shoved the sandwich into my mouth one giant, sticky, chocking bite at a time and forced it all down with a bottle of water.

I spent the rest of the evening running around busing the tables, filling water glasses, and serving the best smelling chocolate cake ever. By 8:00 things started to wind down and the servers gathered in the kitchen tent to graze through the left overs in the buffet trays. It was again two hours past my dinner time and the allure of the amazing yet untouchable food I had been handling all night, proved to be too much. I threw all caution and carb counts to the wind and started shoveling the food into my mouth.

The reckless eating combined with an hour long drive home, a staff celebration at the bar after dishes were done, and a full day of not having the opportunity to check my blood sugar led to a spectacular 221 when I finally had time to prick my finger at 11:30 (spectacular because it could have been much much worse, but I had been hoping it was much much better).

But next time I'll know: The chaotic running around doesn't burn as much energy as you feel like it should; The cake is best left to the patrons; and before you fill your mouth with food scraps, take a moment, and take some insulin.




Friday, June 1, 2012

Guinea Pig

I came across this article while skimming through my daily diabetes news brief today:

Omni Announces Type 1 Diabetes Trial Results

This is the trial I have been involved with since January 2011. I personally saw some pretty amazing results during the initial few weeks on AAT. At one point I was off long acting insulin completely! While being a guinea pig is a bit of a strange thing, and maybe a little scary at times, these kinds of trials do so much to help scientists understand the disease and get that much closer to a cure. (True, I have stated my distrust in pharmaceutical companies before, but I have faith that scientists will overcome Big Pharma and develop a true cure--even if I have to go through the black market to get it!)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

History Written in A1C


After my endocrinology appointment and subsequent A1C test last week, I started thinking about how my A1C results have often reflected the different milestones in my life. (For the record, I see any A1C over 6 as a fail. I don't want to be a "normal diabetic." I want to be a "normal person." Or, when possible, better than a normal person--Super Human.)


  • April 2009
    • Diagnosis
      • A1C = 13
  • July 2009
    • My life revolves around the big D
      • A1C = 5.3
  • October 2009
    • Love this honeymoon stuff!
      • A1C = 5.4
  • January 2010
    • Nine months strong!
      • A1C = 5.7
  • May 2010
    • Graduate from college
      • A1C = 5.8
  • September 2010
    • Meet my boyfriend at a festival over the summer
      • A1C = 6.0
  • January 2011
    • A little less focused on diabetes, a little more focused on life
      • A1C = 6.7
  • April 2011
    • Enter a diabetes trial for alpha-1-antitrypsin treatment at the Barbara Davis Center
      • A1C = 6.5
  • July 2011
    • I think its working!
      • A1C = 6.0
  • November 2011
    • Is it wearing off already?
      • A1C = 6.3
  • February 2012
    • The holidays aren't kind to my pancreas, it's time to get serious!
      • A1C = 6.4
  • May 2012
    • Discover the awesome power of nature in the form of superfoods and supplements
      • A1C = 5.8

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Whole Food Experiment: Quercetin

What is it? Quercetin is a flavonoid that helps protect the membranes of the eyes from the accumulation of polyols that result from high blood sugars (among other things).

Recommended daily intake: 300 mg

Whole Food Sources:

  • Black and green teas
  • Capers
  • Lovage 
  • Apples
  • Red onion
  • Red grapes
  • Citrus fruit
  • Tomato
  • Broccoli
  • Red and purple berry varieties
  • Nopal cactus fruit

Disclaimer (because this is America): I am not a dietitian or a physician. I am a diabetic armed with a giant book called Prescription for Nutritional Healing (Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, 2010) and access to a whole slew of nutritional websites. I experiment on myself constantly, but that does not mean you should. Unless, of course, your doctor says its ok.

Helpful sources for quercetin information: livestrong.com, UMM.com

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Diabetes Pal???

Over the last few weeks, we have hired on a whole slew of new people at my job. Normally I don't pay much attention to the fresh blood as they rarely last more than a month. But there was one in particular that caught my eye. She wore a little metal bracelet with an all too familiar emblem on it.

Could it be? Had the universe finally conspired to bring me a diabetic pal?

At the first opportunity I got, I coyly introduced myself.

"And what's the medical alert bracelet for, if you don't mind me asking."

The excitement was bubbling up in me like a giddy child.

"Oh," she said, "I'm allergic to penicillin."

Dammit. So close.

Someday someone will join my Special Bracelet Club.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Whole Food Experiment: Chromium

What is it? A mineral used by the body to process glucose and increase insulin's efficiency.

Why take it? Chromium can help maintain normal blood sugars and reduce insulin needs.

Cautions: May significantly reduce your need for insulin, so always work with your doctor before starting on a chromium supplement.

Recommended dose for the average person: 20-45 mcg/day

Recommended dose for a diabetic: 400-600 mcg/day

Whole Food Sources:
High Quality Brewer's Yeast- 1 tbs = 60mcg
Corn on Cob- 1 ear = 52mcg
Sweet Potato- 1 medium = 36mcg
Apple- 1 medium = 36mcg
Organic Egg- 1 medium = 26mcg
Tomato- 1 medium = 24
Ham- 3oz = 10
Beef and Turkey- 3oz = 2mcg
Red Wine- 1 glass = 1-10mcg (depending on the brand)


Disclaimer (because this is America): I am not a dietitian or a physician. I am a diabetic armed with a giant book called Prescription for Nutritional Healing (Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, 2010) and access to a whole slew of nutritional websites. I experiment on myself constantly, but that does not mean you should. Unless, of course, your doctor says its ok.


Useful Sources: livestrong.com, guidetohealth.com





Let the Whole Food Experiments Begin!

Chromium. I've said it before: This is something I believe all diabetics should be taking--Type 1 or 2. For Type 2s, it is an obvious supplement to add to the daily routine. Chromium is necessary for proper glucose metabolism and is important for proper insulin utilization. In other words, it can be seriously beneficial to people with insulin resistance. If you are a Type 2 and your doctor has never mentioned chromium, odds are pretty good that they have been bought and paid for by the prescription companies. If you're a Type 1, odds are good that no doctor has ever mentioned anything about supplements to you.

When I was diagnosed, all anyone ever told was how to use my insulin and change my diet. I never thought about supplements being able to help. My body doesn't make insulin, so of course the solution is simple and singular: take insulin. But what about all those supplements out there that make insulin use more efficient within your body. I have to pay for the stuff, I might as well get my money's worth. Even beyond that, there are supplements out there with the potential to help the pancreas and beta-cells to stay healthier longer, and supplements to help control sugar absorption in the gut. Even some that curb sugar cravings, which is important when you are headed off the deep end at the end of a long work week (but I want cake now! There is no time to count all these carbs!).

But supplements can be expensive. There have been multiple occasions when I have put myself on a regimen of this supplement or that, and seen great results from it. But then I run out at the worst time, or the store is suddenly out of stock, or the prices go up, or whatever. And I go off the regimen for a while. My insulin needs start to crawl back up and I wonder if it is worth it to start again, knowing the same thing will happen at the end of the month, when I'll be too broke to buy more, again.

But my friend Andrea recently gave me an idea. Why not skip the supplements and go right for the foods that are rich in that mineral or vitamin. Supplement critics have always said that taking a vitamin or mineral or amino acid in a pill all by itself is a waste of time. Our bodies weren't meant to ingest singular nutrients at a time, they were meant to take in a whole slew of them along with fats and proteins and sugars. Our bodies need that stuff in order to properly absorb everything else.

Now, I'm not quite that skeptical about the worth of supplements, but I do believe absorption is best when in a natural, whole food form. So I am taking my friend up on her suggestion and I am going to do some research into the various nutrients that can potentially help diabetes, and I am going to find out the best foods to find these illusive vitamins and minerals in. And of course, I am going to share my findings with you!

Disclaimer (because this is America): I am not a dietitian or a physician. I am a diabetic armed with a giant book called Prescription for Nutritional Healing (Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, 2010) and access to a whole slew of nutritional websites. I experiment on myself constantly, but that does not mean you should. Unless, of course, your doctor says its ok.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guest Post: Barb Stephens

Here is a guest post for all the T2D readers out there by Barb Stephens. If rates keep rising the way they are, by 2050 1 in 3 people will have Type 2--a prediction that is no doubt putting a smile on the face of Big Pharmaceutical. No matter what disease you are suffering from, you should always do your research when it comes to your medications and possible alternative treatments. Most doctors aren't super geniuses. They don't know everything. And a growing number of them only know what prescription companies want them to know. Bottom line: Question everything.


*          *          *

How to Stay Informed About the Safety of Diabetes Medications


By learning the dangerous side effects of common diabetes drugs, asking your physician the right questions and utilizing internet resources, you can safely take your diabetes medications and avoid painful surprises. 

Be aware of common safety concerns.

Sulfonylureas may cause heart problems.

Meglitinides should only be taken before meals.

Thiazolidiones may cause difficulty breathing, immediate weight gain and fluid retention — all possible indicators of heart failure. 

Actos, which is in the thiazolidione class, may cause blood in the urine, a frequent need to urinate, urinary tract infections, and stomach and back pain — all possible indicators of bladder cancer.
This has led some patients to start filing an Actos lawsuit after receiving the prognosis of bladder cancer to help make the companies providing this drug fund their recovery.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors should be taking at the beginning of meals and should not be used by people with intestinal diseases.

Talk to your doctor.

Whenever you get a new medication, ask your doctor about what you are taking and why you are taking it.  You and your doctor together can determine if the medication you are prescribed is the best for you based on your weight, diet, exercise habits, current medications and pre-existing conditions.

Before you leave your appointment, make sure you have written down all of the following information for each prescription:

  •          Name
  •          Dosage
  •          Frequency of dosage
  •          How to take medication
  •          Best time to take medications
  •          How often to refill prescription



Once you get the medications, you will want to take the time to read not just the text on the medicine bottles and boxes, but also the paperwork that your pharmacy provides. 
Although it may be a struggle to comprehend the medical terminology, you can make it easier by knowing which words apply to you.  For instance, if you have had kidney problems in the past, be on the lookout for warnings that mention kidney or renal.

Research your medications online.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has a website where you can learn how your medications work, what their side effects are and possible dangerous interactions.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has booklets and fact sheets on diabetes medication that you can print from their website.  You can also use put the name of your medication in their search bar to find specific information.

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) has a dictionary where you can put in both medications and words associated with medications that are unfamiliar to you.
By being informed about the medications you take, you can avoid adding unforeseen pitfalls like Actos side effects to the pressure of managing diabetes. And always, always, ask questions.

Author bio: Barb Stephens is a writer for Drugwatch.com. She uses her medication knowledge to help inform consumers about potential risks involved with certain medications and to help promote overall drug safety.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meter Wars

What a week! For me, Diabetes Blog Week was a great success. I was able to connect with a lot of new people in the D community and I found some great new blogs to add to my daily Reader. And I loved the challenge of having to write every day. I need that kind of motivation.

On the diabetes side of things, last week was a little hectic. I have been trying to find a solution to my massive pharmaceutical bills. Since Aetna dropped their individual coverage in Colorado, I have been forced to switch my health insurance provider to Cover Colorado (there are not a lot of options for people with preexisting conditions--PPECs--such as myself). I'm certainly grateful to have the coverage, but they aren't exactly saving me much money.

Last week I attempted to get my meter and test strips changed to a generic brand (right now the test strips are costing me a hundred bucks a month even after the insurance kicks in their 60%). But, my doctor refused to fill the script for me, saying that generic meters are highly unreliable (ok so she didn't refuse, but she did make a compelling argument). She recommended I apply to CCS Medical and see if their mail-in pharmacy could save me any money. The bad news is, they don't carry my meter type. The good is, my doctor gave me a free kit that included a One Step meter and 50 free test strips (bonus!).

Unfortunately after a few days of dealing with the CCS people (they were incredibly helpful, I will give them that), it became very obvious to them that my insurance company would not save either one of us any money. They told me my best option was to go through the Rx company that works directly with my insurance (hey, why didn't I think of that!). Unfortunately, over the course of the week I spent dealing with all this, I ran low on both my insulins and my test strips and had to reorder from my normal pharmacy. So I am back to using my old meter (which is a huge relief! That meter has been with me since practically the beginning. I felt like I was cheating on it with the new one...) and I am forced into waiting another month before I can finally get this prescription thing solved.

Oh the joys of diabetes. You learn new lessons everyday!




Sunday, May 20, 2012

Diabetes Hero

Post 7 for Diabetes Blog Week

So I had big plans to write this post about Bret Michaels (I mean come on, the man survived the 80's as the lead singer of a glam metal band all while living with T1D--that's a note-worthy accomplishment). But then it struck me very suddenly and very obviously who my real diabetes hero is: my boyfriend Colter.

I have to give credit where credit is due. He has done (and puts up with) so much.

He didn't run away in fear on that first date, even while I used one hand to stuff pizza down my throat and the other to stab myself in the stomach with an insulin pen.

He acted legitimately interested on that second date when I overly-explained the difference between Type 1 and 2.

He asked questions and read Diabetes for Dummies and even bought a diabetes cookbook.

And now that we live together, he gracefully puts up with my sudden mood changes that accompany unexpected highs.

He never makes fun of me for that one time my BS bottomed out at 36 and I started crawling around on the couch and bawling like a baby. (I like to think of it as an out-of-mind experience.)

He laughs when he finds a stray test strip in the kitchen or the bathroom or inside his shoe.

He instantly asks "What do you need? What can I get" when I glance at the back of my hand. (It gets pale and swollen when my BS dips.)

He now, too, gets angry when he hears someone make an ignorant comment about diabetes.

He tries so hard to make meals that are healthy and easy to calculate.

He bites his tongue (at least most of the time) when I scrutinize the ingredients lists of the items in his shopping bags and pretends to care as much as I do about hydrogenated oils and yellow #6.

He is there for me, even when I'm not at my best. And with me, that kind of commitment takes a superhero.

He even looks like a superhero!





Friday, May 18, 2012

What They Should Know

Post 5 for Diabetes Blog Week

Don't even get me started. The lack of education on this disease baffles me. I could go on and on. But for your sake, I'll try to focus. What should they know? The first thing I have to explain to just about everyone is that Type 1 and Type 2 are two very different diseases (yes, I know, despite the names).

Why does it bother me so that no one knows the difference? Well, here is a list of responses I have actually gotten from real people when they learn I have T1D:

"But you're so thin" (this was my nurse at the hospital the day I got diagnosed)

"But you have always been so active and fit"

"Just take care of your feet, that is the most important thing" (another nurse)

"But you don't seem to be overweight or anything" (the diabetes educator provided by my mail-in pharmacy)

"If you just eat grapes and be more active you can easily become a Type 2 instead" (um.... What?)

"I have another client who had Type 1 diabetes for years, but she really started working on her diet and now she is a Type 2" (this was an Aflac insurance rep--needless to say, he did not get my business)

"That's the bad kind right?"

"Oh, well, at least it's not the bad kind."

"Is that the good kind or the bad kind?"

First, let me just clarify one point. There is no good diabetes and bad diabetes. Why? Because there are no good diseases. I think we can all agree that diseases of any degree suck. Even Spider Man thought his spider-bite-inflicted-super-human-capabilities-disease sucked some of the time. So NO, Type 1 is not the good kind. Why don't you go talk to a Type 2 and ask them if that's the good kind.

What I usually tell these ill-informed people is this (actually, I am usually way too peeved to even continue the conversation):

I have Type 1. My immune system is attacking my beta cells--the cells in my pancreas that make insulin. Now my body cannot make enough insulin to process the carbohydrates I eat--yes all carbs, not just sugar. So I take insulin injections most every time I eat (plus one extra dose a day, but I usually don't get into that). Eventually my pancreas won't make any insulin at all. I can eat whatever I want as long as I take the right amount of insulin for it (but not eating whatever you want is an important step of really getting control of the disease). There is nothing I can do to rid myself of this disease because (as of now) there is no cure. I will never morph into a Type 2 (I guess if I started eating massive meals of pasta and donuts and pizza and shooting up massive amounts of insulin I could probably cause my body to develop insulin resistance, but I would still be a Type 1, too). Oh and by the way, you don't have to be fat to develop Type 2 (I have to throw that one in there for my T2D pals).



One thing that would solve all these problems? Change the name! We'll let the T2s keep the rights to "diabetes" (as so many late night infomercials have tricked the population into believing that "diabetes" is synonymous with "insulin resistance") and we shall change T1D to "Autoimmune Induced Glucose Intolerance."

No I do not have diabetes, I have AIGI disease.





Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fantasy Diabetes Device

Post 4 for Diabetes Blog Week

I will try not to get too fantastical here. (Fantasy device? Easy, a new pancreas impervious to immune system attack).

I will admit, I am pretty much living in the stone age when it comes to diabetes devices. I have a meter (actually like ten meters, but that's only because I never turn down free stuff). And I have insulin pens. But that's really as far as my diabetes supplies go. I don't even have a cable for my meter (who has a hundred bucks lying around to buy a little tiny cable?). Compared to the many hot-wired pump and CGM wearers out there, I might as well be a neanderthal. It's not that I don't want all these fancy instruments, it's just that I am comfortable where I am, at least for the moment (and I really, REALLY hate squabbling with the pharmacy and my insurance company). But, that doesn't mean I still don't dream about my fantasy device...

First, this device would definitely have to erase the need for test strips. I hate those little, tiny pieces of paper. They cost a fortune, they get everywhere, and they are impossible to handle when your blood sugar is crashing and your hands are shaking like crazy!

Second, it could definitely not involve any kind of typical sensor. I have had the pleasure of wearing a CGM a few times for a clinical trial I was in. The first time, they put it in me the day before I left for the Bahamas. With the help of some waterproof tape (wrapped around and around my torso) I was able to keep the sensor in for a grand total of four days. The second time I had to wear one, I sweated through the tape within hours of getting home (packing and moving in the summer is never fun). Again I had to resort to wrapping myself with athletic tape, but the senor still slipped out on the third day. And the last time I wore one the sensor errored-out three hours after I got home from the clinic. Those little senors just don't like my zero percent body fat and corrosive sweat glands.

Lastly, this genius little fantasy device needs to integrate the carb counting aspect of the disease. With all the recent advances in technology, I'm guessing a machine is way more accurate in predicting how many carbs are in the plate of pasta the waiter just dropped off than I am (especially if it has wifi). And wouldn't it be great if it kept track of your meals and how many units you need for each of them?

So this, after much deliberation, is my fantasy diabetes device: a tiny sensor inserted under your skin completely (think something like the microchip between your dog's shoulder blades) that continuously sends blood sugar readings to a small wireless device you can carry in your purse or on your belt. This sensor is so advanced that you never have to calibrate it or replace it (so long test strips!). And this little device has the power to calculate carb info on your meal just from a picture. And it will calculate the insulin needed for you, too. While we are at it, lets just say this little device connects wirelessly to a small device implanted in your abdomen that automatically releases insulin into your blood stream and bolusses on command. Of course this little device would never need to be changed or refilled because it makes its own insulin constantly by some awesome feat of science...

Ok, so it got a little fantastical.

My sensor hanging on by athletic tape on day 2 of  the Bahamas vacation (it made for a great tan line).



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One Thing to Improve (Perfect Imperfection)

Post 3 for Diabetes Blog Week

Now this is a topic I could write a novel about. What can't I improve on?! But I must stop myself and think for a second. My last A1C was 6.3. I eat healthier than anyone I know. I've recently taken up yoga and distance running. I bend over backwards for this disease. So why so many complaints about myself?

Oh, I know why.

I am way too hard on myself. If I test and find my BS is over 130, I can feel my mood drop instantly. If it's over  200, well, my nights ruined. If I'm having trouble counting carbs or getting my sugar levels down, you better not even try to talk to me because I will snap at you (only because yelling at myself might give people the wrong impression). The first time my A1C came back as being over 6, I was upset about it for days.

The guilt I inflict on myself, that's the worse. If I go down to my parent's for the weekend and indulge in some delicious meals and a little desert, I have to spend the whole next week eating like a bird just to punish myself. I could barely bring myself to eat a donut on Donut Day (what I have coined the anniversary of my diagnosis and one of the few times out of the year that I let myself indulge) this year because I had been doing so well with everything and didn't want to chance ruining it.

I am a stubborn perfectionist. I am also a passionate foodie, a party animal, and a free spirit. There is bound to be a little internal conflict.

I have been working on it, though. Now I can shoot up and shrug off an unexpected high in a matter of minutes (a matter of 30 to 60 minutes) while a year ago it would have been impossible to talk to me for the rest of the day. But starting now, as today's blog prompt instructs, I will work at improving on this even harder. I will stop beating myself up for things that are impossible to control. I will stop expecting myself to be a perfect diabetic. I will be cut myself some slack, ease up, and chill out. And if I am not perfectly happy with myself at all times, then I will just yell and scream at myself until I am.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One Great Thing

Post 2 for Diabetes Blog Week

When I was diagnosed, I took the entire event as a personal challenge. I had doctors and nurses and dietitians telling me my boundaries. What I can still do, what I can't. What I now have to do. It was new territory for me. No one tells me what I am capable of! Ok, so that wasn't my mindset at first (lying in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and wires with a BS of 598 while doctors hastily explained to me what diabetes was--I was in no mood for questioning anyone). But as things progressed and I slowly became more comfortable with my new condition, the old me came back to life. What do you mean the honeymoon period only lasts a few months? My endocrinologist told me one of her patients honeymooned for two years. I can do that. I can do anything!

I was in better health that first year with diabetes than I had been my entire life (and still am). I ate good food. I exercised with an intense enthusiasm. And I never stressed about anything (I was just happy to be alive). I calculated and administered my insulin with the precision you would expect from an up and coming scientist. I brought my A1C down from 13 to 5.4 in the first three months. I mastered the carb count and adjusted my meal sizes to align my insulin perfectly to the BS I wanted to have two hours after I ate. I took my doctor's advise and tailored it to fit what I wanted to do, to my own boundaries (which were none, of course!).

Two months ago I went down to the Barbara Davis Center to get some tests done. After getting information from me about my current insulin needs (which still fluctuate constantly--my long acting dose can be anywhere between 9u and 2u depending on the day--that's a three year honeymoon by my count) my doctor called me "atypical." Atypical? As in not adhering to predicted boundaries and expectations? Yes.

And that is what I am great at. Being atypical.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Find a Friend

Post 1 for  Diabetes Blog Week

A diabetic friend. I have to confess, I have always wanted one. Someone who would understand why I get so anxious about ordering food at restaurants. Someone to lend me some test strips when I wait too long to renew my prescriptions. Someone to talk me down when I'm standing in front of a tray of free donuts. And someone who will be angry along with me when my blood sugars spike for no reason (instead of trying to tell me everything will be fine and it's no big deal).

Unfortunately (big sigh), I have no PWD friends. The only other person in my family that has T1D was my mom's cousin (you can bet my diagnosis came as a bit of a shocker). No coworkers. Not even friends of friends. My great uncle (who I have met twice) has type 2. The hour I spent talking with him the last time he came to town was one of the greatest hours ever. He spoke my language! Well... almost.

I have no real diabetes friends. So I blog (virtual friends can be just as good). And I read blogs. I bitch with others about the trials and tribulations of this disease through the written word. I celebrate with them through links and pictures and comments.

One of my favorite blogs (and the one that really pushed me to start my own) is Kerri Morrone Sparling's Six Until Me. I read her posts and fantasize about being that involved in the D community. I wish I could talk face to face with others going through this. I wish I could fly to Europe to learn about new research and products. I wish I had a pump. (This is my absolute favorite blog from SUM. It still makes me laugh!) After all the envy has faded, I go and write my own very different blog about going at it alone. About searching for the natural remedy that will lower my insulin needs to an affordable level. And about the adventures that spring from that kind of independent mind set.

But in the end, this blog is (as they all really are) about finding a friend.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Never too Soon for Friday

Thank you, thank you! It's finally Friday. And a real Friday for me for once. No work tomorrow! Instead I get to cruise down to the parent's house to spend some time with my mom on her special holiday. I will also be attending a natro-path convention where my friend will have a booth set up. I'm hoping to find some potions/supplements/superfoods to experiment with.

Next week is the Third Annual Diabetes Blog Week! I am so excited to be a part of it this year. If you are on a mission to find more D Blogs or if you know someone who needs some serious educating on the subject, this is the perfect way to get it done! (This little event will also force me to post a blog a day next week--that's 7 whole posts for those counting. It will be a great challenge for me!)

Now all I have to do is survive today. It all starts with a latte (my special Friday reward), then a long, busy, eight hour shift with sixty plus very excited pooches, and hopefully time for two baths for a couple very stinky hounds of my own.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Red Tape

I read an article yesterday about a woman who was on a seemingly endless search for a daycare that would take her diabetic toddler. The ones that were willing to accept him either would not give him his insulin (they expected the mother to leave work multiple times a day to give him injections and check his BS) or they would only enroll him if she was willing to pay double. This seems illegal. And it is. But who has the time to get a lawyer involved? (Especially considering that in the end, the Americans with Disabilities Act only dictates they allow the child to come to daycare, they can still choose not to give him his medication.)

Unfortunately, diabetics see this kind of thing everywhere. I believe there is really only two reasons for it: ignorance and liability. Diabetes is a scary, mysterious disease that causes people's feet to fall of without warning! They may fall into a coma at any moment! Ignorance. (Liability on the other hand is a much bigger issue. Sue thy neighbor has practically become an American pastime.)

Shortly after reading this article, I went to yoga class. Before instructing everyone to move into shoulder stand, the teacher warned that anyone with high or low blood pressure, or anyone with diabetes should move into candle stick instead. Why? Does the simple fact that I have the disease make sticking my feet in the air a death sentence? Am I going to fall into one of those mysterious, spontaneous comas from attempting a simple inversion? No of course not. In fact I with my stellar cholesterol levels, perfect blood pressure, resting heart rate of 57, and 5 doctor check-ups a year, am probably the last one in the class that is going to die from doing a shoulder stand (I tried this same argument on a health insurance agent, to no avail).

What the teacher should have said is, "Anyone with high or low blood sugar may not want to attempt the shoulder stand. Oh and by the way, you probably don't want to be at yoga class right now. Maybe you should get that taken care of."

The first time I went to get a massage after being diagnosed, I noticed some fine print on the questionnaire. Right below the box that asks you to identify which diseases and conditions you have, there was a small side-note that said something about not being able to work on anyone with diabetes unless they provide a doctor's note. Now to me, that seemed a little silly (what am I, in elementary school?). And diabetes is a pretty big header to categorize people under. Type 1, type 2? Newly diagnosed? There is a big difference between a ten year old with well controlled type 1 and an overweight eighty year old suffering from neuropathy.

I did what any respectable diabetic would do. I ripped off my medical alert bracelet and lied on the form.

Tattoo and piercing release forms have the same fine print. I can bet I took better care of my tattoos than the tens of thousands of drunk teenagers that get them every day.

I say we drop the ignorance. Instead of categorizing and alienating people based on broad headings that our legal teams tell us we need, lets start educating ourselves and printing up liability forms that actually make sense. Yes, if your A1C is 13, you probably shouldn't get a tattoo. If you are lazy, irresponsible, and unhygienic, you probably shouldn't get one either.

How about we differentiate between type 1 and type 2 while we are at it (for those that don't know--and I freely admit, I was in this boat at one time in my life too--they are completely different diseases, they just have similar symptoms). I read an entire article yesterday about how diabetes can lead to fatty liver disease. I got all the way to the last paragraph before they mentioned that it was the insulin resistance factors that caused the liver damage--something that only happens in type 2 diabetics. (I'm all for renaming type 1. If I hear one more person say "but you're so thin" after I tell them I have diabetes, I will lose it. How about Autoimmune Induced Glucose Intolerance? AIGI for short.)

Education goes a long way. And having a little faith that if you are kind enough to accept my diabetic child into your daycare with no strings attached I won't sue you if something goes wrong, is also a step in the right direction.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Gloom

It is gloomy. The rain has been trickling down from grey skies all morning. And it's Monday. I hate Mondays. Especially gloomy Mondays that start with a high. After going to bed with a very respectable 121, I woke up this morning with a very frustrating 165. The last few nights I have experienced seemingly unjustified high blood sugars after dinner. Last night, I finally caught on. I double my dinner dose. And it worked! Well... Apparently not. I am struggling to hang on to the inspiring words that my yoga teacher shared with us yesterday: Life is not a given right, it is a gift. So I look outside and force myself to say, "Oh good, rain. We can really use it. It's been such a dry spring. I will enjoy this rain (and this gloom)." And I look at my monitor and clench my teeth in a smile, "I will enjoy this opportunity to listen to my disease and understand what it is telling me" (even though I cannot possibly wrap my mind around what the hell is going on here). I say these things aloud, but I still slump my shoulders and stare out the window with a frown because the grey skies make me depressed, the random imperfect blood sugars make me angry, and because the new iBGStar smartphone glucose monitor is only for the iPhone (come on Android! Does Apple have to win at everything!?).

I can sit here and bitch all morning (and I am compelled to). Or I can get up, put on my rain jacket and go for a run. The rain will energize me. The run will tame the rising sugars. And the post workout rush will make this Monday (maybe) a little more tolerable. Again I say it, this time aloud:

"Life is not a given right. It is a gift. Live in every moment. Take nothing for granted."

(Not even gloomy Mondays. Someday those will be gone too.)


Saturday, May 5, 2012

After the Ride

I am slowly recovering from the grueling bike ride on Thursday. I am not nearly as sore as I thought I would be (actually my sit-bones are just as sore as I thought they would be). The new trail (the Cheyenne Rim trail at Soapstone Natural Area) proved to be a little harder than I had anticipated. It took us about two hours to get to the turn around point (and only one hour to get back to the parking lot--I do love down hill so much better). But the pay off was well worth it. After 7.6 miles of tedious elevation gain, the landscape opened up to a beautiful red dirt valley. We stopped and ate lunch on a rock outcropping and took in the magnificent scene. We were the only people for miles. There is something so healing about that kind of silence.

Before we started the bike ride, I drank a homemade protein shake (about 17g protein, 20g carb). That, along with a conservative amount of insulin at brunch, held me over pretty well. I checked my sugars around the 6 mile mark, after a painful hill climb left me feeling drained. 67 and likely dropping. I took four glucose tabs and hopped back on my bike. I could sense that the halfway point and subsequent lunch break were near. It turned out I was being a little too hopeful in that aspect. by the time we did stop for lunch, I knew I had some room to work as far as blood sugars were concerned. I ate freely with little regard to carb counting (just one of the many benefits of serious activity). The way back was mostly downhill and by the time we got back to the car my blood sugar was holding strong at 93.

We ended the day with a home cooked meal and some celebratory drinks on the patio. (Did I mention that my parents kick ass?)



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Activity is the Best Thing

Down to 2u of long acting insulin! Things are definitely looking good. Thanks to a very fun integrated iPod adaptor my boyfriend got me, I have been pushing my morning runs farther and farther each day. I have my eyes set on three and a half miles for Friday. That is, if I can walk after my 15 mile mountain bike trek tomorrow. My parents are coming up for a belated birthday celebration and we have big plans: brunch at Snooze, bike ride, and homemade Moroccan shish kabobs for dinner. With any luck, I will be able to ditch the Lantus entirely for a few days and embrace a life that involves three needle pricks a day instead of four.

To all the T1Ds out there who were told they had to limit their activities because of this disease, it is just not true. I was lucky enough to be ignorant to that myth and to have an outpatient nurse with an eight year old diabetic son. She knew, just as I do, that diabetes does not have to keep you pinned down. Eat before you exercise, check your sugars frequently, and always pack glucose tabs and extra snacks. You can take on the world.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Porch Gardens and Yoga Class

Overall, I had a very successful weekend. Saturday started early as I rose with the sun to go to work. Now normally, working on a Saturday would make me a little glum. But my job (which involves a lot of being on my feet, chasing dogs around, and making decision after decision--did you know, thinking over and making a choice actually uses up to 20% of your blood sugar?) has an incredible capacity for sucking the glucose right out of my blood. And right now, I am on a mission to get my sugars back on track.

Sunday, I enjoyed a peaceful morning on the porch with a cup of tea. After an extravagant breakfast of mushroom, spinach, kale, and green onion eggs, with toast and strawberries, I forced myself to the gym for vinyasa (yoga on speed--especially if the instructor has had a bad week and wants to take it out on the innocent). About ten minutes into class I had a sudden and unfortunate realization: I only had one piece of toast this morning. Now to any normal person, this would be a good thing--way to not overeat, cut those calories out where you can! But for a carb counting diabetic, this spells disaster. I had taken enough insulin for two pieces of toast and five strawberries. In the middle of chaturanga dandasana I felt a pulse of cool blood rush through my system. The realization flooded through my body and into my subconscious before being perceived by my conscience mind. I stared at my hand. When my sugars crash my fingers flush and swell just slightly. (I can't even glance at my hand without my boyfriend asking if everything is okay.) Angrily, I jumped up from downward dog, bypassed the maze of yoga mats and went out to my car to fish some glucose tabs out of my purse.

I stubbornly finished the hour long class with teetering glucose levels (much to the chagrin of my healthcare team), and rushed home to find a more substantial snack (a piece of toast, because I was so angry about having shorted myself the pleasure of it at breakfast). I finished the day by planting my porch garden and praying to the gods of the deceptive Colorado spring to be kind to my vegetables and not strike them down with a late season frost.

Though the weekend held less time for relaxing than I would have liked, all the hard work has brought my long acting insulin needs down to 5u. With a long week of hard work ahead of me, I'm hoping those numbers will only continue to fall.