Tag: diabetes management

Perfection Does Not Exist In a Life With Diabetes

Perfection Does Not Exist In a Life With Diabetes –

Perfection Does Not Exist In a Life With Diabetes –

By: Christina Blackmon

15 years ago my life changed forever when I was told I had Type 1 diabetes.

I didn’t even know what diabetes was. I think I thought it meant you can’t eat sugar anymore. Little did I know that when I turned 20 years old my pancreas unexplainably stopped working properly and that would mean that my entire life would now depend on a hormone called insulin being injected into my body for the rest of my life.

Without those insulin injections I would die.

Little did I know that for the rest of my life I would be completely dependent upon this hormone. I also had no idea that my days thereafter would consist of being measured 8-10 times per day by a number. A number I get from pricking myself. Knowing that important number so that I can mathematically calculate how much insulin to inject to maintain good blood glucose range based on a formula that changes hourly without notice.

I also had no idea how unpredictable and unreliable my body would be and that there would be factors outside my control that dictated what my blood glucose levels would be despite eating and calculating “correctly”.

That my blood glucose would go up and down like a roller coaster ride and effect every fiber of my being. That sometimes I would want to crawl out of my own skin to escape the pain I was enduring. That I would go from being completely calm and rational to completely angry and irritable. That my pain would be invisible to others because it’s all happening internally without notice to anyone else.

There is no exact science or prescription to manage diabetes and everyday is a guessing game. Knowledge became my power and I studied and researched everything I could about this unforgivable disease. I found that it’s high maintenance and takes no breaks or vacations.

But I also found some tools that would help me. Tools like an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor that could help me manage every second, every minute, every hour of every day for the rest of my life.

There is no cure for type 1 diabetes. I will always be dependent upon insulin.

Even with my tools – just like every piece of technology they fail me. But despite this disease I have 2 beautiful healthy kids and one on the way and no diabetic complications. Some days I feel so strong like I can do anything then others I lack the motivation to keep going.

But I never give up. I keep fighting and will keep fighting till there’s no fight left in me.

I don’t ever see any other option. I’m very thankful for the tools I have to manage this disease with everything I have and love when I can encourage or inspire other diabetics to do the same.

People ask me all the time is your diabetes controlled and I just want to laugh…what does that even mean??!! I just always say it’s not perfect and will never be. I don’t try to maintain perfection because diabetes means having bad days. I try to have more good than bad days and not focus on perfection.

Perfection does not exist in a life with diabetes.



 

Why Are They Judging Me?

Why Are They Judging Me?

Why Are They Judging Me?

By: Marrium abid Sandhu

Some people have a background or a story that is so central to their identity that they believe their life would be incomplete without it. Here’s my story..

Why are they judging me?

Is this the reality or do I suffer from schizophrenia? I’m not from another galaxy, I mean, I just have diabetes.

Society took it upon itself to delineate me as a diabetic. On the mention of my name, the ignorant minds of humans formed an image of a weak, disoriented, bewildered and egotistical teenager.

I was nine years old when I was first diagnosed with type-one diabetes. It shook me to my core. I was not old enough to even comprehend what diabetes meant. But the way people around me reacted; it felt as if I was an unstable nucleus emitting radiations.

My heart told me to be optimistic, persuaded me to look at life from this new perspective, but everything in my life went downhill. On various occasions during the early stages, I was able to pick myself up and do my daily chores the normal way but that did not last that way for long.

Pricking my fingers four to five times a day and taking insulin shots before every meal was never an easy task. Until high school, I used to go around hiding the fact that I was a diabetic. I had an irrational fear of people judging me. I hardly socialized. I kept to my room and to myself, reading miserable and depressing novels, injecting myself with something that was supposed to make me better but felt no less than a cruel punishment.

As I grew older,

things started to improve and diabetes became a part of my daily routine. I realized that having diabetes was a part of me but it in no way defined me. It had rehabilitated me. It had made me resilient, mentally and morally.

As I progressed through high school, I craved to do better in academics, sports, and life in general. Having diabetes gave me strength to face any challenge or problem that came my way.

Friends are of imminent importance, you cannot function without having someone to talk to, someone to associate yourself with. Socializing made me grasp the significance and need for someone to share my feelings with, someone to trust with my problems.

My family and I shifted a lot due to my father’s work. Being on the go, I constantly met new people who made me confident in my own skin. I went to Greece on a school trip for 4 weeks. Exploring a new country, a completely different environment was an experience I will trade for nothing.

Doing everything myself, from shopping to laundry, I gained a fair bit of poise and familiarized myself with adapting to a new place and a completely different way of life. The diabetic, anthrophobic girl had transformed.

My hard working and astute sense of nature led me to be selected as a part of my school’s student council and in addition I represented my school in various national level sports competitions. I volunteered myself to help the underdeveloped schools in my city.

I taught English and Mathematics to a group of class 9 students. I saw a whole new way of life within my culture in that school. And now I’m studying architecture in one of the best universities in turkey.

I am a diabetic.

And I do not have a problem with people judging me because of that. If they judge me, it does not depict who I am, it depicts who they are.

To sum it up in the words of Sonia Sotomayor, the current associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,

“Diabetes taught me discipline”.



 

diabetes and the unexpected - diabetes blog week

Diabetes Blog Week: Diabetes and the Unexpected

Diabetes Blog Week: Diabetes and the Unexpected

This year is my first year participating in Diabetes Blog Week. I’m excited to be part of this annual diabetes event and share my perspective.

Diabetes can sometimes seem to play by a rulebook that makes no sense, tossing out unexpected challenges at random.  What are your best tips for being prepared when the unexpected happens?  Or, take this topic another way and tell us about some good things diabetes has brought into your, or your loved one’s, life that you never could have expected?

Having diabetes for so many years I’ve become accustomed to the unexpected. Diabetes has a way of throwing curveballs when you least expect it. It makes things rather difficult and frustrating at times.

Here are my best tips for when the unexpected happens:

Be over prepared

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere thinking that I’m not going to need to change my pump site— and it fails. How convenient, right? So now I just bring everything that I could possibly need “just in case”. Just enough to spare me if anything unexpected happens. It’s certainly more of a hassle to carry around extra weight all the time, but the stress of “what if” is therefore not an issue.

Take a deep breath

I have a way of wanting to control everything that goes on with my diabetes to the point where I’m actually doing more harm than good. When unexpected occurrences arise, I’ve learned to now take a deep breath—and handle it calmly and carefully. It’s taken me awhile to be patient, but adding stress to the situation and making quick judgments only makes it worse.

Ask for help

This is probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to learn to do. I always want to feel like I can handle the world and whatever comes my way. But sometimes when my blood sugars are off—and I need assistance getting my supplies, or a snack nearby. Having an extra hand actually makes me feel more at ease and I’ve learned it’s okay to ask for help.

Create back up plans

I’m not always sure if diabetes will cooperate or how my body will react upon each day. Diabetes comes with a lot of uncertainty and unknown. So of course I think of well “if this happens, I have this plan.” But say, for some reason that isn’t effective—I also have this plan for back up.

For instance, I have a dexcom, but what if I don’t hear my alarm, then my husband will be alarmed and call me or run home to check up on me. Creating back up plans creates a more stable safety net and helps living with this disease a little less worrisome.

Diabetes comes with a bunch of twists and turns, up and downs, highs and lows. But I take what I’ve learned in the past and I apply it to the future. No matter how unexpected diabetes is and the challenges that do arise, I will continue on living beyond it.

Would You Kill Me For a Tax Cut?

Would You Kill Me For a Tax Cut?

By: Ashlyn Mills

Blog: A Trail Of Test Strips

Before I get into the meat of this issue, I want you to imagine something…

You are 19 years old and a sophomore in college with your whole life ahead of you. Suddenly, you begin feeling ill. You are thirsty all of the time, you feel lethargic and can barely make it through 5 hours of classes without a nap in your car, something is not right and you know it. You finally go to the doctor after you’ve lost 10 pounds and the doctor tells you that you have Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).

The doctor tells you that T1D is an autoimmune condition that has no cure and teaches you what you must do to keep yourself alive. After learning about carb counting, insulin injections, blood sugar testing, and life threatening high and low blood sugar, you’re sent to the pharmacy to pick up your life saving tools.

For the next 3 months supply, you are given 900 blood glucose test strips, 900 lancets, a blood glucose meter, 6 insulin pens, 50 ketone test strips, and 540 needles to use for insulin injections. All of these supplies would have been upwards of $5,000 without good insurance coverage and even with insurance, your first trip to the pharmacy cost you $400.

Now that I’ve painted a picture for you, let me put a face to this story. This is me, Ashlyn, and this is what a pre-existing condition looks like. The story above is my story. 

As you probably know, yesterday the House of Representatives made the decision to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care. Obama Care has been a major topic of debate for Americans over recent years. With the ACA, many American’s saw their insurance premiums skyrocket, which made the Affordable Care Act not so affordable.

With the ACA did come some positives such as protection for those with pre-existing conditions and the ability for an adult under the age of 27 to stay on their parents’ health insurance. At the beginning of his campaign, President Trump began pushing the issue of the ACA and saying that should he be elected, it would be one of the first things on his agenda. President Trump also insured that with this repeal, he would protect those with pre-existing conditions. Yesterday, however, the House voted against protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

If you aren’t someone with a pre-existing condition or don’t have a child with one, you probably don’t understand how serious this is. Let me tell you what this could do to people like me.
Insurance companies will be able to decide if they want to cover me or not. I will have to search high and low for an insurance company who will cover me and when I finally find one, they will charge me 3x what they charge the average patient because they know I will be a guaranteed expense.

I will then be paying $3000+ per month just for insurance premiums, which will make many of my daily meds and technologies unaffordable. I may have to limit how many test strips I can afford, which will then limit how many times per day I can test my blood sugar. The less I am able to test my blood sugar, the greater my risk for life threatening high and low blood sugars and long-term complications due to poorly managed diabetes. Meanwhile, some celebrate because they got a tax cut. But those who celebrate don’t know that their tax cut could kill me or the other millions of American’s like me living with a pre-existing condition.

Would YOU kill ME for a tax-cut?

 It all boils down to this, republican or democrat, it is important for you to understand how much this decision could impact me if the senate votes yes in the next few weeks. PLEASE, do your research and contact your senator to let them know that this is NOT okay. I am actually registered republican, but that does not mean I have to stand for this and neither do you. While I believe some MAJOR changes need to be made with our current healthcare system (the ACA) in the US, I do not believe that changes need to be made at the expense of people who have no control of the cards they were dealt. Life with diseases like T1D is hard enough as it is, please don’t make it any harder on us.

TAX CUT

Please contact your senator, my life depends on it.

-Ashlyn 

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One Drop

One Drop | Diabetes Management

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the diabetes management platform called the One Drop. This diabetes management subscription model has paved the way for easier, more affordable and reliable access to many diabetes needs.

I received a complimentary Chrome kit and had the opportunity of trying it out for a few weeks before giving a review.

This platform offers:

Unlimited test strips and 24/7 in-app Certified Diabetes Educator support – all for $40 a month.

The One Drop is not covered by insurance. This is a direct-to-consumer service. You will pay roughly around the same that you currently pay with insurance by copayment. But now you don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting test strips approved.

The One Drop offers a free award winning application to manage your diabetes. You can Download One Drop for iOS and Android, You can track all of your information in one place: glucose, meds, food, activity.

What I Like About The One Drop Management System:

  1. The glucose meter is slick, shiny, and easy to store.
  2. The app is easy to use and gives me insight on how I’m managing throughout the day
  3. Having the option of unlimited test strips gives me flexibility. I no longer to worry about running low on test strips.
  4. I have online support for any questions I may have using the product and how to better process the information that I receive.

The customer management team has been very helpful in assisting me on setting up my account on the app and syncing my bluetooth meter. Once they were both paired, it was easy to keep track of all my readings directly on my phone.

 

The glucose meter is very accurate and glucose reading corresponds to the ones that I receive on my CGM and compare to other glucose meters that I currently have. I would highly recommend this product for anyone needing a positive change at a lower cost.

To get started on the One Drop Premium Plan. (Available in USA, EU, and UK)

Finding My Purpose By Educating and Helping Those Affected By Type 1 Diabetes

Finding My Purpose By Educating and Helping Those Affected By Type 1 Diabetes

By: Ali Dugger

I have taken over 20,500 insulin injections over my life so far. That’s a lot of syringes. I’ve pricked my fingers about 30,000 times. It’s what we as Type I Diabetics must do to check our blood sugar. Now I only need to prick my fingers twice a day. I wear something called a continuous glucose monitor. My CGM is usually worn on my arm. I’ve pretty much decided it officially makes me half cylon.

The day I was diagnosed was July 10 of 2003, ten days after my 18th birthday.

During that summer, after my high school graduation, my days were filled with lifeguarding, zipping around town in my T-top, white, 1998 Camaro, wakeboarding on Lake Travis wiping out every other turn, and a steady diet of pizza.

I had not been feeling well on that particular day. My mother said, as she always did when one of us was feeling ill, “Test your blood sugar.”

She had been a nurse for eight years already and had been caring for my TID younger brother for about ten. With eyes rolling, I dragged my feet downstairs to do the obligatory finger stick to humor her. Earlier I had devoured some pepperoni pizza, a slice or two of chocolate cake (Carinos’ chocolate cake which is the BEST in the world), and had washed it all down with half a bag of sour patch kids.

Usually I would fake it and call out, “It’s FIIINE, mom, 98!” but this time I sensed I should follow her advice. The meter counted down the five seconds and read, 480. I guffawed to myself thinking I must have had sugar on my finger from my candy craze earlier. So, I tested again. It read 485. I stumbled into the living room and collapsed on the floor letting out a wail. My mom flew down the stairs. The look in her eyes was enough to register she already knew the answer to why I had sounded such an alarm.

Within moments my brothers and father were surrounding me. We all wept. It wasn’t just a few minutes after that the doorbell rang. It was my first date with a boy I had met on the fourth of July. I opened the door and dramatically sobbed, “I have diabeteeeeees.” Before he knew it he was loaded up into our family car, all six of us packed in tightly, and carted off to the hospital.

Type 1 Diabetes is also referred to as Juvenile Diabetes. Only 5% of diabetics are TID. The disease is caused not by diet and exercise rather the immune system turning on the body and killing off the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Most people are diagnosed under the age of twelve. My brother had even joked that since I was no longer a child, being 18, I was in the clear of ever being diagnosed. To this day I am a firm believer in knocking on wood.

When we discovered my brother had TID I was terrified. He had slowly been wasting away (TID prevents your body from storing fat if untreated) for over a year. My parents had been seeking answers everywhere from the city’s best pediatricians to homeopathic doctors. It wasn’t until my father took him to the ER refusing to leave that they did something. His son was obviously at death’s door.

My brother was only six. Being three years older than him, my mom trusted me to stay home alone with the neighbor boy (I hadn’t gone boy crazy yet so she had no idea what was in store for her down the road). She raced off after them to the hospital. It wasn’t too much later in the day she called home and told me the news, “Your brother has diabetes.” I hung up, looked at the boy, leaned my head on his shoulder with tears in my eyes and said, “My brother has rabies!”

As the years passed diabetes became a part of all of our daily lives.

From time to time I would overhear my mother’s fears about his future and all of the complications TID can cause. It was terrifying and I believed the universe had spared me because lord knows I loved flip flops and couldn’t imagine having to wear tennis shoes all of the time (feet are a big issue with TID due to how it prevents wounds from healing). One of my first thoughts when I was diagnosed was how screwed I would be because I ran around outside like a wild banshee all day.

Even though my life had changed dramatically, I still moved into my university dorm that fall. I also still lived life as if nothing had changed. Halle Barry is a TID and I heard an interview where she said it took five years for her to get it down pact. So I thought, “I’ve got five years until I’ve gotta figure this thing out.” Five years passed, then ten, and even though I had a mother who begged, pleaded, and prodded me to take better care of myself, I always waved her off saying, “Mom, I’m perfectly fine!” I would test my sugar every now and then, take my shots hours after I ate, and sometimes would altogether skip my insulin. I felt and looked like a healthy person! I also ate like a superstar and was a yoga instructor (and we all know yoga cures everything in India).

My complications began to arise a few years ago.

It happened so slowly it snuck up on me. At the time, I was a middle school teacher. I attributed my exhaustion and fatigue to stress and managing a classroom of 34 students. Eventually I went to the doctor and I was told I had a leaky heart. They recommended I reduce the stress in my life and really take my TID seriously. I resigned from teaching the next day.

But, that still did not move me to get my act together completely. There was a sense of procrastination when it came to accepting my TID just like most of us do when it comes to going to the gym. Every day I would tell myself, “Oh tomorrow you’ll test your blood sugar at all of the right times and take the right amount of insulin.” It wasn’t until 2016 when the gravity of my situation hit me.

My health was suffering to the point where I couldn’t hold down a job.

My relationship of several years had deteriorated. I had a sense of dread and despair clouding my mind every day. I was confused. I really had no complaints in life! Why was I suffering on the inside so much?

Well, let me tell you. Uncontrolled TID messes with everything, even your hormones. My body was imbalanced from head to toe and it was screaming in every way possible for me to do something about it. Many mornings were spent with my head in the toilet after sleeping on the bathroom floor all night. I experienced uncontrollable bowels while out dancing with my friends (oh do I have some spectacular stories about that!). I kept my apartment at a cool 55 degrees because I felt I was about to combust half of the time. I drank gallons of water daily and looked as if you could blow me a kiss and I would fly away. Some days my vision would be so impaired I would have to pull over on the side of the road and practice squinting until I could see well enough to drive again.

My boyfriend and I eventually broke up and I moved out to LA back in with my parents. I planned on staying with them for a few months while I looked for a new job and place to live. Little did I know 2016 would be the toughest, roughest year of my life.

Every person experiences diabetes differently so I won’t go into the details of what I endured. However, I will share that I spent about a quarter of that year in the hospital, and the other three quarters holed up in my bedroom buried under my blankets. All of my complications came pouring out of me like the Hoover dam opening its floodgates. Gastroparesis, Retinopathy, Neuropathy, and then some really off the wall complications such as Dupuytren’s Contracture started filling up my medical records. I became incredibly depressed.

But soon I buckled down, turned it around, and started to change my daily habits.

Towards the end of the year I had nearly done a 180 degree turn around. To celebrate, I decided it was time to start dating again! So of course, not knowing how to really go about doing that, I signed up for Tinder. I went on a few dates here and there but there was one date in particular that would change my life forever.

I can’t even tell you his name. But I can tell you what kind of motorcycle he rode, a Triumph. It was 9:00 at night and I was feeling restless. We had briefly chatted on text and he mentioned he was going for a ride around LA to check out the skyline. Giggling, I replied, “Why don’t you come pick me up, Night Rider?” and he did. We rode around LA for about an hour. I clasped tightly to him as we raced down the 405. I realized quickly over In-and-Out this was not a crazy Irishman I could ever see myself taking seriously.

He dropped me off back home and said cheesily, “You’ve inspired me to be a better man. May I kiss you?” I promptly said, “No.” (demurely of course) referring back to my Tinder caption OLD FASHIONED. He rode off into the night and I made my way up the old rickety brick steps to our house.

It wasn’t until I was showered and in bed that I noticed my sheets were wet. “What in the world?” I thought annoyedly assuming one of the dogs had dragged some slobber coated toy under my sheets. But to my horror, it was my feet! They were leaking fluid like water faucets.

The podiatrist would tell me two weeks later (yes I waited that long to see the foot doctor. Neosporin and gauze does NOT do the trick) that I had third degree burns down to the bone, even exposing some tendons in my toes. I had burned my feet on the Triumph’s tailpipes and had not felt the heat due to my already existing neuropathy.

I didn’t walk for nearly four months. I’m a gamer so I thought, “Perfect! Now I can hit level 60!” I saw the situation as a little break from adulting for a bit. So, when the doctor gave me the okay to walk again I was feeling even more ready and refreshed to get out there, get employed, and finally move into my own place.

My first day out on the town I headed to the mall to buy my interview outfit. I had just landed a dream job opportunity at a gaming studio and couldn’t wait to impress the recruiter. It was only after about two hours that my feet began to ache. Assuming they just needed a break, I went ahead and called it a day. The next morning my feet were black and blue. Still, I wasn’t worried. However my mother, true to form, made an appointment with my podiatrist the next day.

I knew everyone very well at the doctor’s office by that point and sat in the patient’s chair giving the tech advice about how to smooth things over with his wife, “Foot rubs fix everything and you’re the master at cleaning mine!” I said as he scrubbed my feet. Within a few minutes the doctor flew through the door in a rush and was in his stool poking and prodding at my feet. There was a quietness about him that usually didn’t stiffen the air the way it did that afternoon. He smacked his lips together and said,

“Well, we need to get X-rays.”

I was planning on going on a blind date immediately after my appointment so I hobbled off as quickly as I could. Before we left I mentioned I had plans. The doctor said he preferred if I didn’t go unless the guy looked like Brad Pitt (which he didn’t so, that was a no go). It was only a few days later the doctor sat my mother and me down and mentioned something that sounded like, “Shark Hot Foot” which I found really funny. It’s actually not really that funny.

Charcot Foot is a very rare condition that affects people with diabetes.

It is an autoimmune disease which causes the bones in the feet to break when one walks on them. Doctors don’t know much about the disease except for the fact that the circulation pumping through the bones causes them to splinter and crack from within during acute episodes. Acute episodes occur when the immune system decides to go Rambo and attack the feet. Medical professionals still do not understand what triggers a “flare”. It’s during these episodes that the bones break and crumble. Healing can take months and a lot of people find themselves wheelchair bound. Most only have Charcot in one foot. I have it in both.

Now, here I am.

I’m currently in a wheelchair but hope to someday walk again with the aid of orthopedic shoes and a walker.

It did take me a few weeks to process this news. I probably (most likely definitely) still have a lot of processing to do. However, the moment I realized how life changing this condition would be I closed my eyes and thanked my lucky stars. I thanked the world for preparing me in 2016 in a way nobody or nothing could have. If it had not been for all of my trials and tribulations I don’t believe I would have had the strength to accept such life altering news. I now know that all of the pain I have endured was to prepare me for Part II of my life, which is already filled with wonder and awe of the community of people I’m discovering who live with disabilities every day.

In closing, if you were to ask me for one piece of advice after everything I have been through so far, I would say, “No matter how terrible it may seem right now, know you are being prepared to do something great.” I have never recognized my purpose as fully as I do now. And that purpose is to help, even if it is just one person, but hopefully many people, to understand TID and its complications and to see that life can still be an amazing thing to live.

If you are a TID, or you’re the loved one of a TID,

you’re courageous, you can do this, and I will always be here if you need someone to cry with, vent to, or just ask a simple question. As my favorite poet of all time would say, “Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson


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WHAT A HIGH BLOOD SUGAR FEELS LIKE

What a High Blood Sugar Feels Like

What a High Blood Sugar Feels Like

The high blood sugars are what gets me. A high blood sugar is a blood glucose above 140 mg/dL. For me, the symptoms I experience with severe hyperglycemia don’t emerge until well over 250-300 mg/dL.  The lows, while urgent and intensely serious are felt differently. I don’t like to compare the two evils but the highs can be just as debilitating and it leaves me incapacitated.

It’s so hard to describe this pain that can’t be seen. I look fine on the outside but inside my body is fighting for energy and I’m suffering from the adverse effects.

In these moments all I want to do is cry but I have no tears. I can’t quench my thirst no matter how much water I drink. My whole body aches and I’m staring at the clock waiting for the insulin I’ve given myself to be absorbed; giving my body the relief and nourishment that I desperately need.

When my blood sugar is high I despise diabetes the most. When it’s high the minutes and possibly hours it takes for my blood sugar to come down is agonizing. I sit uncomfortably, restless, back and forth to the bathroom checking for ketones and blaming myself. When I know that with diabetes anything is possible. It’s absolutely torturous for anyone including myself to have to go through this.

My heads pounding, I’m irritable and utterly exhausted. I feel like I’m being crushed by tons of weight. I can’t move. I can’t think. I can’t function properly. I feel useless. These are the moments that I beg and plead to just get back to where I was before the high blood sugar. I become grateful for the bad days that weren’t as bad as this.

The high blood sugar could have been caused by a pump malfunction, hormones, stress, illness, wrong dosage, or any number of different things. The fact that things I can’t control can cause this is startling and frustrating. All I can do is try my hardest and hope for the best.

Once my blood sugar does start to lower I feel like I’m taking in a breath of fresh air. There really isn’t a better feeling than knowing I’m going to be okay. That these symptoms are going to diminish and I’ll start to feel myself again. My mood starts to shift and the brain fog slowly goes away. The exhaustion lingers for the rest of the day, but thankfully I’m much better.

I feel conquering despite my defeats because even at my weakest points I still fight these unfathomable challenges. These battles are never seen nor felt by anyone besides myself and ALL who battle diabetes. One that I’ll have to fight more than once.


DKA is a serious life-threatening medical condition caused by high glucose levels. This blog content is not medical advice. If you have questions concerning your health please seek attention from a medical professional. 


 

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Pregnancy Week 15 with Type 1 Diabetes - Perfectionism vs. Sanity

Pregnancy Week 15 with Type 1 Diabetes – Perfectionism vs. Sanity

Pregnancy Week 15 with Type 1 Diabetes- Perfectionism vs. Sanity

By: Grace Wall

Follow: Type 1 Pace Blog

There have been studies that show girls and women with type 1 diabetes have a stronger chance of developing an eating disorder. Type 1 diabetics are constantly counting and measuring food, and measuring their level of success at managing diabetes (which is impossible to get right all the time) multiple times a day through a number on their blood glucose meter. Constant cognizance of being evaluated and judged on how vigilant we are with food, with exercise and with diabetes management is not always best.

I think it was around the time I was diagnosed that I developed perfectionist tendencies and the need to control any situation. I was ten years-old and diabetes honestly didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Adults were always telling me new things I had to do: you need to brush your teeth, you need to set the table, you need to go to summer running camp, you need to come home when the streetlights come on, and now you need to check your blood sugars and take insulin through a syringe. It didn’t phase me.

That is, until I saw when my blood sugars were out of range, worry would appear on my parents faces. When my blood sugars were good, they would proudly pat me on the back. I saw what grief I caused them when my blood sugars were out of range and I made it my goal to get as close to range as I could.

But how could I? I didn’t have the technology we have now. It took my meter 45 seconds to register a blood sugar! I began to feel lots of shame when my parents would look at my sugar log and ask about different patterns. They were only concerned and I took it as something I had done wrong. But I did nothing wrong. I did not cause my diabetes. As an adult, nineteen years later, that sentence feels cathartic to type.

Fast forward to present day. I am in my 15th week of pregnancy with my first child and I have never tried so hard to manage my diabetes. In the beginning every time my blood sugar would go over 140 I would feel guilty, but I have learned to use the reading as a tool that indicates I need to adjust my insulin needs for tomorrow. I have found it helpful to take a walk when my blood sugar is high and have already given insulin to correct it. It speeds up the absorption rate, and my dog doesn’t mind all the extra walks he’s getting!

I did have one scary day last week where I was 240 for 4 hours and I could not figure out why. The day before I had spoke with my High Risk OB/GYN about some high blood sugars which he believed just meant the placenta was doing it’s job and (here’s the fun part) starting to work against me by creating insulin resistance.

But this particular high event was not coming down with insulin or walking. I was freaking out to say the least and feeling more guilty I was hurting the baby with each passing minute. Of course it was a busy work day too so that did not help. I had a pounding headache, had to go to the bathroom close to every 5 minutes and felt nauseous.

Finally I realized my insulin pump infusion site had disconnected. Not fallen out, just unhooked the quarter of a turn it took for me to get none of the insulin I had been pumping the last few hours. I immediately reconnected and bolused for 7 units. I felt more guilty for being so stupid. In my 17 years of using an insulin pump, I hadn’t had this happen once. I have had my site completely rip out, but this was inexcusable in my perfectionist book.

As I began to reframe the situation, my guilt and anxiety tapered. I rarely wear my site on my stomach, which is where it was at the time, and as my stomach has gotten larger with a growing baby the last few weeks, it has created a variable I have not encountered before. I am getting used to my new body and I may have accidentally bumped my site.

I have also been wearing maternity pants and the waistband on those are great for growing bellies, bad for holding up pumps. Going to the bathroom throughout the day creates multiple opportunities while pulling down and pulling up those pants, where I could have knocked something loose.

The guilt of that high day registered through the roof for me. I remember feeling so defeated. However, I also recognize that I am only human and I am doing my absolute best for this baby. I think it’s truly impossible for me to try any harder (I have given up chips and salsa, pizza, diet Coke and beer for God’s sake!), and that is why I am letting it go. My husband calls it “clearing the mechanism” and it’s what we do when we come home and need to just forget about what happened at work that day. I am “clearing the mechanism” on this hyperglycemic episode and starting fresh tomorrow.

My team of High Risk OB/GYN’s have told me that I don’t need to see my regular OB/GYN any more. I ignored that and have kept seeing her. I like her – A LOT. She helped me through my first and second miscarriages and always has great things to say. She is a realist, which I appreciate.

On my last visit with her she told me I’m doing a great job with the pregnancy, the diabetes, running while pregnant, and everything and told me I need to stress less and start enjoying the pregnancy, because it’s going to be over before I know it.

I will continue to be diligent with my blood sugars but she’s right, I plan to start enjoying the pregnancy more. I plan to be value my sanity over my guilt and stop being so hard on myself. I’ve lasted almost 19 years with diabetes and if this baby is anything like it’s parents, it’s a fighter and it will be healthy and happy.


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Taking a break from diabetes technology

Taking Breaks From The Diabetes Technology

Taking Breaks From The Diabetes Technology

By: Randall Barker

My daughter, Emma was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a little over 3 1/2 years ago. Being a diabetic myself, it was a moment that has brought us significantly closer. As she was choosing which glucometer she wanted to try out among the countless choices offered to her by the Diabetes Educator in the hospital, my mind was already working on the technological options that were out there.

Of course, Emma was also thinking about the “tech toys” as well; in fact I recall her asking if she’d get an insulin infusion pump before we even left the hospital. It was her doctor that quickly mentioned that she needed to first learn about insulin injections before moving on to the insulin infusion pump. He told her she would get an insulin pump soon, in fact she got her first pump three short months later.

Emma’s insulin pump is a device that she has seen me wear since she was an infant. The insulin pump is a device that is sometimes mistaken by people as a pager. And to be honest it’s about the size of a pager and is usually clipped to a person’s waist.

The pump houses a supply of insulin and gives the wearer a continuous dose of insulin throughout the day. I often describe it as a small IV unit since most people can relate to what an IV machine does. Emma’s choice for insulin pump was one just like mine. She chose a unit made by Medtronic. Her insulin pump was the latest version available on the market.

The pump also included a CGM or continuous glucose monitor. The CGM is another device that has been around for sometime but has recently become more accessible and readily available. The CGM is a sensor that has a small filament that is inserted just below the skin, where it sits for 3-7 days. The filament detects the levels of sugar in the sub-dermal layer of skin and by translates these levels into a blood glucose level reading. By using this device a person can get an accurate idea of how their glucose levels respond to insulin, diet, and other factors.

After just being diagnosed for a little over 3 months, my now 11 year old daughter had some of the newest and most advanced technology available at the time for diabetics. Along with having this equipment, I was watching an emerging advancement in glucose monitoring via the cloud. There was a group of software engineers that were developing code that would allow the parents to see their children’s glucose readings. They saw a need and after doing some “hacking” to the insulin pump, developed glucose monitoring via the cloud. It was a group that would become know as NightScout.

This idea intrigued and frightened me at the same time. I applauded the idea of being able to see my daughter’s glucose reading anytime. Yet, I was scared to attempt the “hacking” on her pump. I decided that instead of testing it out on her pump I would try it on my pump. Ultimately I was successful, but that led me to a new concern.

Was the gear that was required to “hack” my daughter’s pump and then the added responsibility of the end result really necessary? I decided at that time it wasn’t. Emma was still young in terms of her diabetes diagnosis. I wanted her to develop and be involved in decisions that affected her. With that in mind, we decided at that time cloud monitoring wasn’t for us.

Time continued on, as well as advancements in technology. Some of the medical equipment we used changed and some stayed the same. One such instance was with another CGM that was manufactured by another company other than the one we used.

Taking breaks from the Diabetes Technology

It was called Dexcom and the new system was called the G5. It was the latest at the time and it brought new features that I was thrilled to see. The Dexcom system would not communicate to the insulin pump Emma was using, by that I mean Emma’s current CGM would automatically transmit to her pump the glucose reading it was detecting.

By doing that Emma could just pull out her pump and get a decent idea of where her glucose reading was. The Dexcom required a separate receiver to display the glucose readings. That was until the G5 series Dexcom was introduced. The G5 added Bluetooth functionality which meant now devices such as a mobile phone could be used to display the glucose reading.

Another advantage to this setup was now an app could be loaded on a separate mobile phone that could also be used to display glucose readings. Now we had a great solution to our CGM issue. Emma could see her glucose readings on her phone which just like any teenager, her phone was with her all the time!!!

And now her mother and I could see her glucose reading on our phones no matter where we were. We could be sitting across the room or across the globe. In fact I was recently on a trip in Africa and Emma was back home in Texas; I was still able to see how her glucose readings were.

I must say the medical and technology device advancements for diabetes that I have observed over the years are amazing. They have helped to improve the lives of countless diabetics and their families worldwide. Sometimes though these gadgets can create an unwanted effect.

For instance, one can rely on the tech so much that sometimes they forget the basics or fundamentals. I recall one time when my insulin pump simply stopped working. The manufacturer was great about getting me a replacement, in fact I had it the next day. Those 16 hours without the pump were very long though. I had to retrain myself how to do multiple insulin injections in order to keep from going into DKA.

Other times they can create a level of observation that one could almost compare to being watched by “big brother.” I find myself playing the role of a “helicopter parent” sometimes with Emma. By that I mean that I find myself glued to my phone sometimes following her glucose readings. When those readings start getting out of range I find myself quickly checking in on Emma, to then find out she has already taken action to correct the situation.

I have to remind myself that she needs to experience things firsthand in order to know how to react. There will come a time when Emma is out on her own and she will need the experience to help guide her with her diabetes management. Sometimes we become so “plugged in” with the gadgets that we lose sight of how things are without the technology.

These days I try to include my daughter in decisions that concern her diabetes management. She doesn’t always wear the Continuous Glucose Monitor. I understand that sometimes it does become cumbersome. She does routinely check her blood glucose by performing a finger stick so we at least have an idea of how her blood sugar levels are doing. She likes to take breaks from the CGM though. I do allow it because I want her to take responsibility and be involved in her diabetes decisions.

When it comes to insulin management once she was able to get her insulin pump she has never once looked back on it. I’m not sure she would ever want to go back to multiple daily injections. She does take the occasional injection when her infusion set malfunctions or if there is another reason why her blood sugar levels won’t drop. However, I don’t see her ever taking a break from the pump like she does with the CGM.

The technology that has emerged in diabetes care has exploded in the past decade. Having been a Type 1 for over 25 years I stand back in awe at some of the things I have seen. It’s still nice to remember the basics and to keep those familiar for when issues do arise. I can’t wait to see what new tech options are released in the upcoming years, but I never what to forget where things were when I was first diagnosed.

The technology is fantastic but the facts that one can take a break or even a step back is also great. The trick, I suppose is to never become overwhelmed by what options you have at your disposal.


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You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle

You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle

“You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle”

By: Amy Payne

“You are never given more than you can handle” — I have heard this many times over my life, and it has never really stuck until this past year. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 36 years ago at the age of 6. I never really thought much about it thanks to my amazing family who never made me feel different.

The only thoughts I had were that I would likely have horrible complications and die young from my Type1 Diabetes. Besides those thoughts, I truly did not think too much about it. I lived my life to the fullest thinking I should live a big happy life now because my future was going to be bad and short.

As time went by technology/drugs improved greatly and after living a somewhat reckless no fear life through my late teens and twenties my diabetes changed. All of a sudden I could not feel my lows/hypoglycemia anymore and my no big deal Diabetes had changed.

After a few years of trying to manage the lows with my new husband we moved to Denver, CO and went to the Barbara Davis Center. They told me I had had Type 1 Diabetes for over 25 years and had most likely avoided any major complications (except for my eyes, etc). I started crying right there in the office. Endocrinologists had stressed my whole life the importance of tight control otherwise I would have complications.

They have since changed their way of advising diabetics as they realize the old way of instilling fear of complications did more harm than good. Unfortunately being from the generation of 1980 diagnosed Type 1’s and even after being told I have bypassed most complications I still would rather be low than high and to this day feel the same, ironically it is the lows that threaten my life now.

Let’s cut to 6 years later, the cost of Type 1 Diabetic supplies have skyrocketed (the US insured populations out-of-pocket costs for insulin increased by 89 percent from 2000 to 2010 for insulin alone) and with the 89% conservative estimate increase of my insulin alone depression entered my life.

I lost it one day at the Barbara Davis Center- United Healthcare was forcing me to change from Novolog Insulin (that I had been on for approx 10 years) to Humalog Insulin (due to their contract with the manufacturer of Humalog, not for the best interest of their clients).

I was so upset because of the forced switch and how dare they when my Diabetes was so hard to control on a strict regimen and now you are forcing me to change insulin because of your financial interest vs my health best interest, I literally had a breakdown in the Dr’s office.

This along with the never ending increasing expenses to manage my Type 1 Diabetes just to simply stay alive seemed too much to handle and the happy and strong Amy had finally broken down after 34 years of being a tough Type 1 Diabetic.

Barbara Davis was amazing and helped me with my depression (by the way Type 1’a are prone to depression due to insulin is a hormone that we inject multiple times a day, the fluctuation of our blood sugar levels makes us feel bad, loss of sleep, stress and the 24/7 never ending demand of our disease). I also have an additional theory that the blood glucose testing numerous times a day or with a CGM every three minutes along with your A1C results contribute to depression in Type 1’s.

You are judged by a number constantly (you are high, you are low, you are good, you are bad). It is a constant number that gives a judgement on your control of a disease that is impossible to control and I firmly believe it does a number on your psyche.

I am sure Dr’s would agree with my thesis. It was a relief to know what I was feeling was normal, and it is okay to finally say you know what this is hard, I have a lot to deal with and guess what I don’t feel that great most days!

Yes it could be worse and I could have cancer but you know what Type 1 Diabetes sucks and is really really hard to manage. It is a very misunderstood disease, being confused with Type 2 and people thinking you caused this by eating too many candy bars vs the fact that Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where my body attacked my beta insulin-producing cells in my pancreas preventing it from ever producing insulin ever again.

The miss understanding hurts, you hear comments like you don’t look like you have diabetes and you know you can reverse it with diet. NO, you cannot! I am good today. I am tired. I continue to be strong and continue to fight Type 1 Diabetes EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Type 1 Diabetes builds character, strength, and maturity. Every experience, every interaction, no matter how bad it might seem, has the ability to shape you, to mold you, and to help you become the person you were born to be.

And if it seems that life has given you “a lot” to handle, it is only because it knows how powerful you truly are, and it wants you to discover the courage, the wisdom and the strength that lie deep within you.

Type 1 Diabetes does not define me — it has built my strong character to handle anything!


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