Treating lows

May 11, 2010

Today’s topic for Diabetes Blog Week is about your favorite treatment for low blood sugars. Sadly, my absolute favorite low treatment is no longer being made! I freaking loved BD glucose tabs. They were undoubtedly the most delicious glucose tabs! They tasted like the stick part of a Fun Dip! But just like my beloved Nite Bites, they have been discontinued.

The best part of these tabs was that they could slide right into your pocket, unlike the only “portable” tabs available now. They fit into a tiny little purse or pocket. And they were exactly 15 carbs. Because I have always followed the “rule of 15” and because I’m anal retentive when it comes to diabetes, it irritates me a little that the only tabs available now are 4 grams per tab, and therefore I can’t get exactly 15 grams. Yes, I am weird.

As you can see, this has been bothering me for quite awhile. So, needless to say, I was very excited at my last appointment with my old endocrinologist when I saw a huge stack “BD Getting Started Take Home Kits.” They have sleeves of BD tabs in them! I took as many of these big boxes as I could take. Unfortunately that was only 5, and each one only has 2 sleeves. I am so excited that I at least have some of these, and I’m saving for a time when I think it will be perfect to use. them. Again, I’m weird.


A day with a malfunctioning pancreas

May 10, 2010

This is my first post for Karen‘s great idea: Diabetes Blog Week! Check out Karen’ts post to see what the topics are for the week and to see the full list of participants. There are 95 of them!

So… a day in my life with diabetes. I actually don’t see a day in my life as being all that terribly different than someone’s without diabetes. The only exception is that I have some finger pricks, button presses, set/sensor changes, carb counting, and long division mixed in.

Lately, my diabetes life has actually been pretty simple. I haven’t been very active during the date lately since I am unemployed. So I’ve been able to perfect my basal rates and bolus timing. It’s honestly hard for me to break down all the times diabetes creeps into my day. It is constant. It is always the little voice in the back of my head second guessing every decision I make from what to eat to driving the car to doing any kind of physical activity.

Diabetes is something that plays a role in everything. I feel like I need to be constantly aware of my body and how I’m feeling. This is why they say you can never really have a vacation from diabetes. It is like an overprotective mother constantly nagging you.

The thing is though, this is how my days have always been. I don’t remember not having the constant nagging. I’m not sure what life would be like without it. I’ve tested my blood sugar every single day since June 1st, 1989. Therefore, it’s not really something that I see as a very big deal. It is second nature.

My guilty pleasure

May 7, 2010

First off, I know this probably sounds absolutely ridiculous. But… I freaking love Ramen. I’m not totally sure why. I think it might just be my love of soup  combined with my love of thrifty shopping, but I eat it almost everyday for lunch.

I know I wrote the other day about how I haven’t been eating white bread or pasta, but this is my only real exception. The awesome thing is though, I have pretty much perfected my “Ramen bolus.” Each pack is around 52g of carbs. I bolus my 5.2 units (by the way, I love having a 1:10 carb ratio… it makes math really easy!) about 20 to 30 minutes before I start making the Ramen. I also have to factor in what my blood sugar is before I  decide on how long I need to wait. If I’m on the lower side, I don’t wait as long. If I’m on the higher side, I wait much longer.

This may seem pretty obvious, but it’s a huge step for me, and the CGM has really helped me make this work! My post prandial blood sugars have been stellar since I figured this all out.

I know it also may just seem silly that I worked so hard to be able to eat a 10 cent pack of microwavable noodles, but what can I say? They are just that yummy to me. Shrimp ramen is my favorite! And I always sprinkle some cayenne pepper into it to give it a kick. I also love “oriental” ramen because I can use a few drops of “rooster sauce” to spice it up.

I think this is a great example of how you can eat just about anything as a diabetic if you can figure out how to cover it properly.

Coming out of the pancreatic closet

May 6, 2010

Last year I was lucky to be able to attend DTreat (a retreat for young adults with type 1) at Villanova. We had a ton of different discussion sessions. But one thing really has stuck out to me and I’ve been pondering it ever since.

One person asked how you go about telling people you have diabetes. I honestly was kind of stumped. I realized that I very rarely have that thought in my head. I never think “Shoot. How will I tell this person I have diabetes?” It usually comes up in casual conversation for me. I guess it happens because I’m so comfortable with treating my diabetes in front of people. I wear my pump hanging off my pocket. It beeps obnoxiously every once in awhile. I have no problem whipping out my meter just about anywhere and everywhere. So when I meet someone new and I need to test, it kind of just comes out.

The only time I’ve ever really thought “I guess I should tell this person” is when I’m starting a new job or I’m in a situation where I think others should know for my own safety. And usually it’s just something along the lines of “Hey, just FYI I’m diabetic, so if you see me munching or playing on my ‘beeper’ that’s why.”

So, it’s something I’ve become kind of curious about this topic. Is being afraid to tell people about your diabetes a sign of just not being comfortable with diabetes itself? How do you fix this problem? I felt so bad because the person at DTreat was asking for advice, and I really didn’t know how to help.

How do you come out of the pancreatic closet???? Do you feel the need to come out of the closet with your diabetes? Do you feel the need to hide it at times?

I just started reading Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes by James S. Hirsch and he talks about Elizabeth Evans Hughes. Elizabeth was one of Banting and Best’s first patients to receive insulin. She had prolonged her life using a starvation diet long enough to see the discovery and mass production of insulin. She survived with little diabetes complications until she passed away in 1981. Her story is frankly amazing. But what is really crazy about it to me, is that she refused to let anyone know she was diabetic. Even her own children didn’t know until they each turned 18! Hirsch points out that Elizabeth could’ve been the poster child for insulin and living well with diabetes, but she stayed in the “pancreatic closet.” Her story could’ve actually saved lives, but for whatever reason (and in the book Hirsch theorizes about why) she kept it all to herself.

I feel like a major reason I have never kept my diabetes a secret because I want people to know what life with diabetes is really like. A lot of times people have questions. And I love it when they ask! Some people apologize for asking so many questions, and I usually respond with “Please ask whatever you want! I’d rather you understand!”

I guess it’s hard for me to understand why someone would hide their diabetes, but then again I am comfortable enough with my diabetes to share it with the entire internet. Can anyone offer any insight here?

I wish I could still get these

May 5, 2010

It happens to all of us. Your blood sugar is not really low but you are trying to get ready for bed and you are concerned about a possible low overnight. Maybe even hours later. It’s a tricky situation, and before the Temp Basal was invented, there wasn’t a whole lot you could do to ensure your BG stayed at a non-dangerous low level.

Back in the 90s a fantastic product type of product was invented! There were several different brands of these type of bars but the whole idea was that they contained uncooked cornstarch (UCS) that would slow down the release of the carbohydrates in the bar over about 8 hours. Here’s an old article about how they work and all the different kinds.

The BEST kind of UCS bars that existed were called Nite Bites and they were made by ICN Pharmaceuticals. They came in three flavors: banana, peanut butter, and “tasty chocolate.” Actually, I think they called all their flavors “tasty.” But seriously, the chocolate ones were really tasty.

Since the rise of insulin pumps, there really isn’t much of a need for these things anymore. However, I used to love when I got them as a kid! And I really wish I could still get them. In fact, back when I first started the pump, my CDE told me how to bolus for them so I could still eat them if I wanted. Jeff has even scoured the internet trying to find them for me but hasn’t been able to track any down.

What’s the point of the post? I’m not really sure. I guess just to point out that there used to be a solution to overnight hypoglycemia that was much tastier than a temp basal.

How I told my pancreas who’s boss

May 4, 2010

Weeks ago I posted on both Twitter and Facebook that I had accomplished what I thought was impossible. In just 3 months I brought my already decent A1C down an entire percentage point to 5.8! This beats my previous record of 6.2 which was my first A1C on the pump.

A few people asked me how I was able to do this. The major component to my new found glycemic perfection was my new CGM. I have been able to see how all kinds of things affect my blood sugar, especially foods. I had no idea what some things (like pizza) were doing to my blood sugar! I was honestly shocked and appalled that I was letting my post prandial blood sugars spike up so high. And I didn’t even know it was happening! To fix this problem I’ve actually cut out a few things. Or modified them at least. For example, I have always loved bagels! But now that I am able to watch my blood sugar spike up after one I’m not really a fan. However, I have discovered a great alternative. Whole wheat bagels! They are packed with fiber which is great for the heart and the blood sugar. Instead of an intense spike, I slowly creep up a little and my blood sugar tops out at a much lower level. The same goes for bread and pasta. You will not find white bread in our house anymore!

I really think the other major reason why my A1C has improved so much is that I’m not as scared of lows, especially at bed time. Before getting my CGM I was constantly worried about going low and not waking up. If I had any hint that my blood sugar might drop even close to low, I would eat something. Now, I feel more comfortable going to bed with a lower blood sugar as long as I have a flat line. My CGM does a pretty good job of yelling at me until I wake up and test! All this being said, I was having some more frequent lows. For some reason right before dinnertime was the worst spot. And I was still having some lows overnight here and there. However, I’ve done some basal testing and fixed things up a bit. Most of those lows are gone and my blood sugar average is still in the range of a 5.8 A1C. Hurray!

I definitely cannot stress enough how useful this CGM has been for me!

Why I’m so upset about Bret Michaels

May 3, 2010

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook already know that when I heard about Bret Michaels’s brain hemorrhage, I was pretty upset about it. I’m also guessing that a lot of you might not quite understand why so I thought I’d explain myself a bit.

First off, when something awful like this happens to someone with diabetes it really upsets me. The first thought that pops in my head is “Did diabetes do this?” Hearing about other peoples’ diabetes complications is always difficult. It is a painful reminder of what could happen. On the other hand, it’s also kind of a motivator. It drives me to focus on my self-management to keep me healthy and ward off those complications.

It turns out that Bret’s hemorrhage likely is not caused by his diabetes. So why am I still so worried and upset?

Like you my know from a few mentions here and there in previous posts, I have been going to diabetes camp since I was 7. My camp is called the Harrisburg Diabetic Youth Camp (HDYC). We are a very tight knit family, many of us having been there for over 5 years. A few of the people there have literally watched me grow up. Some of them are also some of my best friends. They are my crutch when it comes to diabetes. When I need to talk to someone who just understands, they are there for me. When something happens to a member of that family, whether we personally know them or not, it is pretty devastating. It’s like losing a family member. The picture at the top of this post is our wishing well from our closing ceremonies. Every cabin brings a candle and a penny and makes a wish into the well. The well is also adorned with members of our camp family that are no longer with us. Some of them have succombed to diabetes related complications and some of them have died of other causes. It’s a horrible feeling to add names to that well. Really. It sucks.

Bret Michaels is also one of the major reasons why HDYC even exists. His mom is one of our founders from the original JDF committee. She wanted a camp for Bret to go to where diabetes was not a worry. She also served as our camp director for many years. She was the director my first year at camp! I have always considered Marge and Tommie (one of our other founders) to be heroes and role models.

I guess that explains most of it. It’s definitely one of those things that’s hard to understand unless you’ve actually been to camp. I’ve seen grown men weep at our closing ceremonies. It just has such a profound affect on everyone who attends. Losing one of our alumni and family members would be very sad.

All things considered though, it sounds like Bret is doing pretty well in recovery. His people seem pretty optimistic in his recovery. I am so relieved to hear all of the positive reports that have come out in the past few days. I know that everyone from HDYC is hoping and praying for Bret to get better and continue doing great work and sending kids to camp all over the country!

(Just a side note: If you didn’t know already, Bret has raised $140,000 for camperships through the ADA on Celebrity Apprentice so far!!! That’s enough to send at least 140 kids to camp!!)