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April 30, 2007

Meter Discrepancies.

Onward to our wedding!The Good:  I think Chris and I have found the perfect place to have our wedding reception.  We spent Sunday afternoon in Newport, RI, met with Charles the EPE (Event Planner Extraordinare), and toured a place in Newport that would be perfect for our reception.  Grinning from the excitement of finding a place big enough to accomodate our guest list and beautiful enough to be our first stop as husband and wife (wow ... that actually blows my mind to write out), we have made the first big step in planning our big wedding.  Now when do we get to sample cakes? 

The Bad:  A nasty little blood sugar weekend, giving me a two day average of over 200 mg/dl.  Ridiculously high - the kind of meter readings that you look at and you feel the need to test again just to confirm that you are indeed that high. 

Strange thing, though:  I tested once and came in at 441 mg/dl.  (Holy shit.)  Feeling high but not believing I was that high, I tested again.  249 mg/dl.  Hmmm... third time's the charm:  312 mg/dl.  For some reason, my One Touch UltraSmart meter flaked out on me and gave me very variable readings.  My hands were clean and my meter was calibrated - what the hell?  Taking the middle reading as the "average," I corrected for the 312.  But I am rattled by the big discrepancies between readings. 

I need a diabetes revamping session.  I'm pretty burnt out at the moment.

The Mission:  I have been holed up in random Westport Starbucks locations for the pFinish your damn book, Kerri!!ast few days, and that is where I will be found until the end of May.  Eventually, the staff at these locations will throw me out for spending so much time in their establishments, taking up a full table with my laptop and notes, and nursing the same coffee for h-o-u-r-s.  I am determined to nail down the final phases of this book draft, and I'll be damned if June dawns and I'm still spinning my wheels.  It's not so much writer's block as it is just making time to focus.  Work, wedding, and Life in General are bustling at the moment, so Book has unfortunately taken a back seat to the fray.  However, I will finish this draft within the next 30 days, mark my words.  I almost need to dare myself to finish it. 

Or perhaps double-dog dare myself.   

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April 27, 2007

My Greenish Thumb

When I first moved out on my own, I killed a plastic plant. 

Ridiculous? 

Completely.  After several rounds with live plants, where I watered them to death and talked to them and cleaned their leaves gently with paper towels misted with affection, I gave up and went the plastic plant route.  I placed this plant on top of the micowave stand in the kitchen, right in front of the window, where the sun beamed in and lit up its little plastic leaves.

I went away on a week's vacation and came back to find the plant, mushy and melted in sections.

My friends used to make fun of me for being a plant-murderer, claiming that florists lived in fear of me and produce managers begged me not to touch their wares.  It was a dark and leave-less time.

However, I fancy myself a budding horticulturist these days, having learned that the best thing to do for plants is to leave them the hell alone.  No excessive watering, don't bother naming them, and keep the damn cats away from their fragile leaves.

At home, the basil is starting to grow on the windowsill, under the hungry, watchful eye of Ms. Siah.

Basil.  Up close, apparently.

At work, an easter cactus blooms.

 

 A spider plant reaches towards the skylight above my desk.

Spiderman plant.

And Treebeard keeps watch over dLife from his top-shelf vantage point.

Treebeard, in charge. 

And little Sausage wishes she could go outside and chase the birds.

Ms. Siah "Cocoa Sweege Johnson" Sausage

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April 26, 2007

Nano-What?

Photo credit to Debiotech.

The Nanopump from Debiotech.   

I must admit:  I love that they are showing the size of this thing against a stack of sugar cubes.  (No, not the band that Bjork used to be in, although she is very cool and reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog.)  After reading a few releases, checking it out at Amy's, and then receiving an email from an F.R. in the United Kingdom, I couldn't resist a post-ling about it. 

(Post-ling - noun. "mini post")

The pictures I found didn't exactly show how the pump would look, but more how tiny the actual insulin facilitator is.  My fashion-curious self couldn't help but wonder how big the hub for this Nanopump would end up being.  I found a picture at the Diabetes Mall that gave a better representation of how this technology could end up looking once it's on the market. 

Photo credit to Diabetes MallThe pumping mechanism itself would be attached to your skin and you would control the hub by means of a remote, much like the Omnipod system.  Various websites have mentioned that this system could hold maybe 5ml of insulin - that's over 16 days of use for someone like me who is taking about 30u of Humalog a day.  Even if the pump can hang tough that long, would my body be able to play host to one infusion site for that many days? 

As Amy already mentioned, it could be years before this thing even hits test phases in the United States.  But I can't help but become excited about the idea of a pump that lays so flat against my skin that I can barely detect it underneath my clothes.  As my Paradigm 512 rests quietly in my pants pocket this morning, I notice the overall mass of my current system.  It would be very nice indeed to have a crafty little MiniPump - aPhoto credit to Diabetes Mall pump-ling? - to assist me in navigating my diabetes management.

I remember using blood sugar meters that took 120 seconds to count down results, basing readings off the color patterns on a spongy test strip.  I remember playing Bill Nye the Science Guy in the bathroom with test tubes of urine, what appeared to be Paas egg coloring tabs, and eye-dropping urine to see if my blood sugar or ketone levels were elevated.  I used pig and cow insulin.  These management methods were in use when I was first diagnosed.  Now, 20 years later, we've come so far with technology.  Wireless insulin pumps?  Smart-fabrics to detect neuropathy?  The promise of teeny insulin pumps?  Amazing developments.

While we hope for a cure, I'll take these tremendous advancements in the meantime.

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April 25, 2007

Things to Try and Things to Avoid.

What I Want to Try:

A constant glucose monitoring system.  Who out there is wearing/has worn one and how can I get my hands on one for just a week?  My blood sugars have a mind of their own sometimes and I just want to peek inside and see what the hell is going on.Here's the part where my pump falls into the rapids.  I really want to try one out for a short stint.

White-water rafting in Maine.  Chris and I are talking about putting some people together and going rafting this summer and I’m all for it.  However, I have no desire to end up floating down the river with a water-logged insulin pump.  Any advice for this sort of adventure?  I am leaning towards disconnecting (for fear of going overboard and ruining such a pricy and necessary medical device) but I don’t want to go untethered because I would still need to keep the pump in the raft with me.  I was thinking switching back to Lantus a night or two before and using an insulin pen for the trip.  I’d be the pump-less wonder for a few days.  Any insight would be great!

To organize my wedding to-attempt-to-do list.  I’ve been engaged for over a month now and I’ve done nothing but smile.  Seriously.  Nothing.  We have to book a church, a reception hall, and make sense of the forever-tangled guest list.  Not to mention inviting people to be members of my wedding party.  Oh, and dreaming up places to go on our honeymoon. But as far the “to do” list goes, I can happily check off “Grin.”

To pop into NYC next week.  I haven’t been into the city in a few weeks and I’m itching to go visit.  I am craving some delicious Italian food.  I sense a two-fer. 

Breathing.  It’s been busy lately. 

What I Want to Avoid:

Stress.  With dLife work and personal work edging towards an all-time frenzied pace, I need to make sure I find a little zen-like place and nestle myself inside.  This means stickingFond farewell, chai tea. with the aggressive gym routine because I feel so much better after a good workout.  This may also mean cutting back on the coffee/tea consumption, as it just makes me feel completely out of my mind.  Farewell, sugar-free chai tea!  I will miss you the most.

Being awake all night.  I need to get to bed before the wee hours.  It can't be adding to my level of productivity to be up until one or two in the morning. 

Cat hair.  Oh dear lord these cats are revolting.  I am a domestic goddess, using my super-cool, environmentally friendly vacuum at all hours of the day.  Sausage is the bane of my existance, flopping herself all over the floor as soon as I make a pass with the vacuum.   

Damn cat. 

Oh, and my infusion set is behaving itself.  No more unexplained highs or dodgy bits going on there.  I have no idea why it was acting out of turn, but I hope I scared it enough to do it's damn job for a few more days. 

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April 24, 2007

High Blood Sugar Blues

While it left me be for the weekend, I had a very diabetes-bloggable evening.

I came home from work and changed into my gym clothes.  Checked my reservoir – 19u left and I was edging towards the fourth night with my infusion set.  No problem.  I’ll go to the gym, come home, eat dinner, and then swap out the set after my shower. 

So the plan went according to … plan (I could have chosen a better word there but I’m going ahead with it as is) and my blood sugars cruised around 150 mg/dl during my workout, dropped to about 98 mg/dl before I ate, and hovering near 114 mg/dl before I pulled the site for my shower.

Ahhhh, free shower.

Hopped out, toweled off, and tested.  84 mg/dl.  Looks like my workout is still touching on my blood sugars.  No worries, because dinner is ready to roll and all I have to do is put in this new set …

F-ing sticky infusion inserter thingy.  Damned sticky tape got stuck again, only this time the site barely plunged into my skin.  I peel back the tape and yank the site from my thigh out of frustration.  In response, my leg decides to pretend it’s been hit by shrapnel and a spurt of blood leaps from my leg onto my spring-yellow bathrobe.

Slap a bandaid on the “wound.”  Make nice with Infusion Set No. 2, which also decides to become stuck against the side of the Quick-Serter.  Maybe because I forgot to wipe the sticky residue off from the first set?  Maybe because every infusion set I own is reluctant to join forces with my body?

A steady stream of curse words lets loose from my lips.  Siah, who was cleaning herself on the chair next to me, stops mid-lick to shoot me a dirty look.High blood sugar sweaters.  Cableknit, at that.

I ready the third infusion set and it slides in without reservation.  Prime the pump, prime the cannula, and test.  184 mg/dl.  I love how stress affects my blood sugars.  I bolus the blood sugar down and head out to the kitchen. 

After a dinner of chicken and peppers, I’m feeling very sleepy.  Chris is watching tv on the couch so I lay down next to him and put my head on his leg.  45 minutes later, I wake up with a piercing headache, 13lb eyelids, and a cableknit sweater in my mouth.

378 mg/dl.

Too exhausted to get all riled up about it, I take a correction bolus, brush my teeth to untangle the sweaters, and lay back down on the couch.  Forget doing any reading.  Forget catching up on any work.  My body needs to recuperate.

Two hours later, before bed, I test again.  364 mg/dl.  Fantastic.

I shuffle over to the fridge and unzip the red ladybug bag (courtesy of my free gift from Clinque many years ago) that holds my syringes and open Humalog bottles.  With the orange cap between my teeth, I pull back 5 units into the syringe and inject it swiftly into my abdomen. 

“I’m going to bed.  I feel like garbage.”

Chris puts his arms around me and folds me into a hug.  “Are you still high?”

“I took a big bolus with my pump to bring it down hours ago, but it’s still up there.  So I just took a shot.  Can you wake me up at 2:30 so I can see if this shit is working?”

“Will do.”

2:30 am:  The cats and I wake with a start at the sound of Chris’s cell phone jingling in alarm.

Grumbly blood sugar test.  98 mg/dl.

“Finally.”  I blearily make my way into the bathroom to brush my teeth in efforts to rid my mouth of the final high blood sugar sweaters and then stumble back to bed.  Bloggable Batman

This morning:  73 mg/dl.

Can I blame a busted site?  Is my infusion set actually working or did the injection save the day?  Is my site even working now?  Will I ever be rich enough to yank out infusion sets without hearing cash registers chiming in my mind?  Or less stubborn?  Will any of these questions ever be answered?  Will Batman and Robin escape The Machine before being turned into mashed potatoes? 

Tune in next time.  Same Bat-time.  Same Bat-Blog.

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April 23, 2007

Bloggable Moments

Sometimes not much goes on that is is "bloggable."

This weekend, Chris and I played host to my mom and her husband for the weekend, enjoying delicious dinners, a little jaunt to the famed Chocopologie, and a visit to the Aquarium the following day with my brother, sister-in-law, and their two kids.

I watched as my nephew C introduced himself to loggerhead turtles swimming cphoto credit to Donald Peterson of Web Design Portfolio & Guide - Newark1lockwise in a large tank.  He pressed his little face against the glass and waved to their wise faces as they swam by.

I held my baby niece A as she blew raspberries at the tank full of fish from Finding Nemo.  Her smile lit up the room and people stopped to say hello to such a happy baby.

The sun was shining.  Warm spring weather finally paid us a visit and the trees were budded with new leaves, the sun shining down against the navy blue hood of my Volkswagon.

Nothing happened.  There weren't any lows.  There weren't any tremendous highs.  I didn't end up tangled in my pump tubing or mistakenly catching my pump sites on my pants.  I had enough strips.  My insulin pump whirred and purred according to it's intended design.  My purse was stocked with juice boxes, glucose tabs, and a granola bar but I didn't need to eat them.

As we were preparing to leave the aquarium, I mentioned that I was hungry and needed to eat.

My family vaulted immediately into "diabetes mode."

"There's some ice cream down the road we can go get, right?  If we have to eat right away,"  my brother asked.

I laughed.  "No, I'm not low or anything.  I'm just hungry."

My brother made a playful face. "Oh, okay.  I didn't know if this was one of those 'bloggable moments'."

There weren't any diabetes-bloggable moments.  Diabetes was there, but it was milling around in the background, leaving me alone for a little while.  No emergencies.  No crises.  No bloggable moments. 

I may have to go back to writing about my stupid cat.

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April 20, 2007

Thanking You.

I was joking at work today about how I didn't want to have my picture as my instant messenger avatar because I was looking to preserve my anonymity and privacy.

"You?  The blogger?"  My co-worker laughed.

And it caused me to think about just how much of my brain is online for the world to poke around in.  Sometimes I feel very self-conscious about it.  All these thoughts about diabetes and how it makes me feel, how it affects my life, my friends, my fiance, my job, my ability to consume mass quantities of juice ... all of it.  I kept these thoughts to myself for so many years that to finally have found comfort with sharing them is startling when I stop to think about it.

I thought about how much more my family knows about living with diabetes as a result of having this little portal into my heart.  How much more my friends have learned without me having to say a word.  How my then-boyfriend, now fiance, has realized how much of my life diabetes touches.  How much of his life diabetes touches.

There is a definitive power to blogging, but it has nothing to do with statcounters and comments and accolades.  It's about sharing these feelings and forcing myself to deal with these emotions, how that has truly kept diabetes from being an isolating force in my life. 

So, as I've experienced some difficult diabetes moments in the last few days - struggling with workouts, waking at 5 am to the dull thud of a low blood sugar, and a general feeling of frustration - I am reminded that I owe all of you an enormous thank you.  Thank you to the people who are reading, to those who are blogging along side me, and to those of you who take care of us. 

(Yes, Sausage.  Even you.) 

Siah Sausage
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April 19, 2007

Isopure - I So Sure?

When I think of draping myself in all white for my wedding, it's a thrilling thought at first.  I mean, this is my wedding dress we're talking about and I want to feel as princess-picture perfect as possible. 

Cutting rudely back to reality, I realize that all-white isn't exactly the most slimming ensemble.  "Princess-picture perfect" doesn't include feeling a little squashy.  I also realize that the last few weeks have been a blood sugar madhouse, with all kinds of extra calories being consumed and exercise routines interrupted by lows.  Oh, and summer is coming, bringing with it bathing suit season. 

Taking these facts into account, I am looking to tone up my body and keep my health and fitness goals on track.  From experience, I know that my blood sugars stay a little more stable when I'm consuming fewer carbohydrates.  But oh man do I love Wheat Thins and granola bars and all that starchy stuff.  I'm a carb-a-holic, for sure.  The afternoons have been difficult for me because I'm very hungry and always reaching for something sweet or starchy.  I was on the hunt for something to serve as an afternoon interlude, filling my stomach without affecting my blood sugars or instigating a need for new pants.

So I'm trying out a new thing that I picked up at Vitamin World - Isopure.  I-So-Trying-This.

It's a whey protein mixture that has 50 grams of protein and zero grams of carbohydrates, intended for use as a snack replacer for me in the afternoon, when I'm most carb-craving.  Chris and I reviewed the different kinds of whey proteins and, after considering the factors I was juggling, decided that this would be a good product to test out.  (If you've used something different that worked for you as a meal replacement, pass it on.  I'm all for trying out new things.)

I went with Pineapple-Orange-Banana flavored, because I thought it would be the most like Jell-O.  (Only not red.)

And I was right.

I just tested at 193 mg/dl but I'm starving ... so I decided to lace in a correction bolus and enjoy a glass of Isopure as my snack.  Mixing it at my desk was a bit of a hassle, since I brought a stash of it in a tupperware container and definitely let loose with a few granules when I was trying to pour the scoop into my glass of water.  After mixing it up vigorously with a spoon, I took a sip and realized that this tastes exactly like Jell-O, which I love, so it was easy to drain the glass.  And now I do feel sort of full and satisfied, so hopefully this is a good sign.  Anything to keep my carbohydrate intake and blood sugar swings to a minimum.  Oh, and to protect my hips from expansion.

More updates on this little experiment as I keep at it.  And onward towards an all-white ensemble next spring, complete with a decent A1c! 

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April 18, 2007

For All My Peeps.

I bought a new vacuum cleaner. 

It was one of my first highly domesticated purchases and I was proud of the fact that I found a vacuum that looked pretty nifty, with it's bright blue handles and 12 lb body weight and "eco-friendly bag-less canister!" 

Standing in line at Target with my cool new vacuum purchase, I was about seven people back from the register on a Thursday night.  I was flanked on both sides by "impulse buys," including batteries, hand sanitizer, one dollar dvds featuring "Sharks of the Deep Blue Depths," and Easter candy that was 75% off.

The line was not moving very quickly.  It's almost 8 o'clock at night.  Man, I have a headache.  The noises of Target dulled down to a cloudy whisper and wrapped around my head like a bandage.For all my peeps.

Balancing my purse on the edge of the shopping cart, where my super-cool vacuum cleaner rests, I fish out my meter case, unzip it, and covertly prick my fingertip. 

The countdown.  The result?  53 mg/dl.

Tricky little sucker, that low.  Snuck up on me out of nowhere, but in retrospect, it was 8 o'clock at night and I hadn't eaten dinner yet.  Anyone's body would be hollering for attention by this point.  Mine wanted sugar.  Fast.

The batteries weren't going to do much for me.  I shifted my attention to the discounted Easter treats, honing in on the creepiest candy of all time:  marshmallow peeps. 

There's something altogether odd about little candies in the shapes of sweet farm animals, like chicks and bunnies.  (Bunny farms exist, right?)  I'm more comfortable with M&M's or Twizzlers, because they don't look like anything I'd want to cuddle with.  However, time was of the essence and I needed some fast sugar.

I reached out a grabbed a box of NEW! green peeps.  I popped a peep into my mouth and my teeth shuddered at the presence of such concentrated sugar.  You don't even have to chew these things - they just melt in your mouth and peep their way down into your bloodstream.  Trying to look like a grown-up, I wiped my mouth with the back of my wrist and unsettled the nest of sugar granules that had made my lips their home. 

A few minutes passed.  I popped a few more peeps, bringing my peep total to three.  After a few more minutes, I tested to reveal a much friendlier blood sugar of 98 mg/dl.  On the climb. 

The line progressed.  I paid for my vacuum and the tattered package of peeps that looked as though a wild lion had ripped them open.  (I am robbed of my ability to properly open food packages when I'm low.  Boxes of crackers are ripped open from the bottom, juice bottles are missing half their labels, and glucose tab containers never recover their original caps.  I'm a diabetic in the wild.)

Driving home, with the vacuum in the trunk and the peeps respectfully strapped in on the front seat (yes, the guilt I had for consuming their brethren was a bit much), I thought about the peeps.  I hadn't eaten peeps in almost ten years.  I had forgotten how they tasted. 

At a stoplight before the highway on-ramp, I reached over to the passenger's seat and ferreted around with my fingers until they clasped the box o' peeps.  Snaking one more through the cellophane wrapper, I popped him into my mouth and actually tasted it.  And it tasted good. 

Big blood sugar-ups to my peeps. 

We raise blood sugars!

(Sidenote:  Peeps are now available in sugar-free style!)

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April 17, 2007

Reader Response - Her Own Pump Poem

From the ol' mailbag.I received one of the best emails EVER yesterday, from Kymberly in New Jersey, in response to my poem - Pump, O Pump. Here it is:

Hi Kerri, my name is Kymberly,
I've had diabetes since 1973.
Found your site doing an internet quest:
"Where to put a pump when wearing a dress".

Saw your post today about your pump
And had to email, cuz' I'm in a slump.
Have taken injections for 34 years
And the ever-imbedded cannula is what I fear.

The doctor says that it's my decision
But a lower A1c he can envision.
It's something I long for - tighter control,
A long healthy life is the ultimate goal.

Your website answers alot of my questions
Along with giving helpful suggestions.
Figure I've got to give the pump a 3-month trial
To see if the partnership is friendly or hostile.

Diabetes can be so easy while other days it's a curse,
But I always remember I could have it worse.
I prick and I test with the goal of perfection
And feel like I failed when it doesn't meet expectation.

So just wanted to write and tell you "hello",
Congratulations on your engagement to your beau.
I'll keep checking your website to see what you wrote
And I'll let you know if the pump gets my vote.

Regards,
Kymberly McDonald
from Texas but living in NJ."

If you have any tips to offer up to someone who may be teetering on the edge of deciding to pump, have at it!

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April 16, 2007

Pump, O Pump

Pump, O Pump, you are number one.

When it comes to my sugars, you sure get things done.

For so many years, I took gobs of injections

“Too many,” I thought, after one night’s reflections.

I called up my doctor, jumped through some hoops,

Nagged my insurance and rallied the troops.

You showed up one weekend, arrived by FedEx,

Your buttons were tricky, your innards complex.

Yet we worked hard together, me and my pump,

To become familiar and get over the hump.

 

And now, ah now, O Machine on my Hip,

You’re as much my routine as a bloody test strip.

I am the Wallace to your savvy Gromitt.

When I’m feeling high, buttons beep and you’re on it.

My blood sugars fall from their highs with such ease

As the tubing snakes down from my thigh to my knees.Pumping poem.  Ah!

You sit, small and patient, at rest in my sock,

Sending units of insulin right round the clock.

 

Of course, we’re not perfect, our little D-Team,

There are times when you make me so mad I could scream.

When your tubing is kinked or your cannula bent,

I think about all the of the money I spent

On your infusion set goodies or IV prep wipes,

And all of pricey insurance-based gripes.

But then I see numbers, like my A1c,

(Which one time were bouncing, but now it's held steady)…

 

I’m reminded of why I chose pumping for me -

To help keep myself healthy for as long as can be.

 

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April 13, 2007

Stubborn Kerri vs. The Infusion Set

Warning:  The following is sort of a gross post.  A "grost." 

I am so sorry to gripe, but diabetes is chewing happily on my last nerve at the moment.  After peaking and plumeting all day long for the past two days, I finally pulled the infusion set in my leg out to be greeted by spurting blood and a cannula clogged with blood.  Disgusting, but helped explain why maybe my insulin wasn't being absorbed in a timely fashion.

After mentally chastising myself - "Kerri, next time don't be so damn stubborn and just pull the set." - I hopped in the shower for a nice, infusion-free shower, where the shower pouf doesn't get caught on the pump cap and I don't have to worry about catching my razor on the gauzy edges while I shave my legs.

Ah, nice.  Warm, clean ... feeling better.

I settle down at my desk to put in a new set.  Fill the reservoir, prime the pump, wipe an IV prep over my right thigh in preparation for the set, and load the Quick-Set into the Quick-Serter.

Holding the insertion device against my thigh, I press the buttons and the spring-loaded device clicks forward with a distinctly dragging shunk.

"What the hell?"

I try and pull back the Quick-Serter to see the set only to have it resist.  The infusion set sticky tape ended up stuck on the insertion device.  This is what I saw:

Pain in the arse.

Stubborn as always, I refused to pull the set out and use another one.  Damn it, I was going to make this work.  I pulled back the needle and gently pried the Quick-Serter away from the edge of the set.  Eventually, it gave way with a fluttery bandaid sound and I quickly pressed the sticky edges against my thigh, hoping they would stick.

Stubborn Kerri: 1

Infusion Set: 0

I This amuses me.wasn't sure if the site was working until I woke up this morning at 40 mg/dl and had to ask Chris, in that ethereal "dead" voice I apparently speak in when I'm low, to please get me some juice.  Now I feel like I've been hit by a truck filled with penguins, who are all carrying suitcases filled with bricks.  Because that makes sense.

Bouncing Blood Sugars: 1

Stubborn (Tired) Kerri:  0, for now

Here's hoping that diabetes lays low for the weekend.  (And not the hypoglycemic kind of low, you pun-filled Faithful Readers.)  Have a good one!

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April 12, 2007

Andy Bell - Staying Fit With Type 1

Andy Bell

Diabetes can sometimes feel like a limiting factor, but other times it can push you to achieve great things.  Meet Andy Bell - fitness trainer extraordinaire and type 1 diabetic.  He's in top condition, and he credits his hours at the gym to turning his diabetes management around.  Andy agreed to "sit down" with me and answer a few questions about diabetes, fitness, and his personal story.

Kerri:    If you’re here, you’ve got one to tell:  What is your diagnosis story?

Andy Bell:  I was in the 8th grade.  I can look back and remember some of whaAndy Bellt I was experiencing before knowing that I had diabetes.  I remember being so unbelievably thirsty!  I can recall being at a University of Missouri basketball game with my good friend at the time.  He and I had just bought huge cokes from the concession stand.  I remember drinking the entire (non-diet) soda from start to finish in one drink and then looking over and telling my friend that I was going to have to go get another one because I was still thirsty!  Another similar experience was while I was playing golf that summer with my friend and his dad.  The water coolers on the course that 90-degree day were all empty!  I exclaimed to my friend and his dad that if I didn’t get a drink soon then I was going to drink from the pond on hole #5, green from the chemicals on the course.  It somehow worked out that I would make it until I got to the end of the nine holes.  I didn’t feel completing the last nine.

Finally, after many instances of blurred vision, severe cramping, and wetting the bed, mom and I scheduled an appointment with my pediatrician.  After checking my urine he quickly sent us to the emergency room where my sugars were reportedly tested in the 800’s.  Emergency room physicians were shocked that I had not slipped into a diabetic coma.  I spent the next two weeks in the hospital learning how my life was never going to be the same.  It had a profound impact on me.  I was deeply hurt.

Kerri:  Having gone through your school years with diabetes, how did it affect your relationships, if at all?

Andy Bell:  I remember my friends being very supportive.  While I was in the hospital after being diagnosed I had many visitors each day.  People gave me flowers, cards, and balloons.  I think the funniest gift that I got was a huge bag of candy that two of my close girl friends gave to me the very day that I was diagnosed!  They felt pretty bad after they learned that I wasn’t actually going to be able to eat it!  I still tease them about there gift to this very day!

Outside of that my relationships for the most part were very normal.  I have never been shy about telling people that I am diabetic.   If anything I think people respected me more for telling them about it.  They could see that I was a responsible guy for taking control of such a thing and managing it successfully.  My girlfriend now of about 6 months is extremely supportive and she has willingly and voluntarily learned more about what I do to retain control over this disease.  She is getting more knowledgeable about recognizing things that I do for it everyday.  I think that is very important for people in relationships with a person with diabetes.

Kerri:  You mentioned a time in your life when diabetes management fell by the wayside.  What kind of burn-out did you experience, and how/why did you turn things around?

Andy Bell:  At the time of my diagnosis I had been smoking and drinking for a couple years.  I was also experimenting with other drugs and I regularly smoked and even sold marijuana.  When I got diabetes I didn’t want to feel different than anyone else so I continued to participate in the same unhealthy activities.  I don’t even remember if I checked my sugars at all.  Looking back, I think it just came down to me not caring about it.  I think that I just got so used to my blood sugars fluctuating everyday that I got into the habit of feeling crappy all the time.  Things probably would not have changed if it were not for two things, my family, and being introduced to weightlifting.  My parents were there for me from day one and they will always be.  They are the number one reason why I have even had the chance to turn things around.  In combination wiPhoto by G.J. McCarthy of the Tribune’s staff th the love and support that I got from my parents I found something in weightlifting that made me want to turn things around.   In lifting weights and exercising I could do for myself and it made me feel better.  I could fight this problem.  It was the key in turning things around for me.  I gained confidence, a better outlook on my disease, and it made me feel great!  

Kerri:  As a personal trainer and a type 1 diabetic, how would you advise a fellow diabetic to start a fitness program?

Andy Bell:  I am so glad that you asked this question.  Thank you Kerri!  I want everyone to see this!

YOU HAVE TO FIND THE THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO MOTIVATE YOU TO CHANGE!  My philosophy is simple; everyone deals with something that they have to live with everyday, diabetic or not.  This can be found on the spiritual, emotional, or physical levels.  WHATEVER THE CASE ….NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO BE MOTIVATED BY THE SAME THING!  I have worked with many different people and they all have something in common, something motivated them to start on a fitness program.  ASK YOURSELF WHAT IT IS GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU!

Kerri:  What kind of obstacles did you face on your quest for fitness?

Andy Bell:  I have, and I will continue to face obstacles in my LIFE-LONG quest for fitness.  I am a fighter.   Nothing can prevent me from staying active and healthy.  One thing I can tell you though without a doubt is to always be prepared and to always think ahead.  I also think that it is very important for people to understand we all face different obstacles.  The question is, how will you handle them?

Kerri:  What are your ambitions for the future?

Andy Bell:  I will continue to be in great shape.  I will stay extremely active.  I will continue to be successful.  As long as I have Diabetes, I will always be representative of a person who does not let diabetes control me.  I control it!  I will be a role model for others to look up to and confide in.

Kerri:  And, as part of the SUM standard fare, if given the chance to grab an aerial perspective of anywhere, what would you chose to fly over in your hot air balloon trip?

Great question!  SHOW ME THE WORLD!  I am fascinated with seeing as much as I can.  I just wish that everyplace was warm!  I don’t like to be cold!

Thanks, Andy.  Stay tuned for more from Andy Bell on his quest towards making his body a testament to good health and diabetes strength.  You can find out more about Andy at his MySpace page, or through his articles at Diabetes Health and the Columbia Tribune.

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April 11, 2007

Katie Couric Said So.

Yesterday was a disasterous diabetes day.  Despite the fact that the day began in a flurry of Sox fans and ended with a 14-3 victory, my blood sugar numbers left much to be desired.

I started out the day at a slightly elevated 157 mg/dl, but I took a little correction bolus and then disconnected for the shower.  Headed off to work to enjoy a crispy 244 mg/dl before I had my coffee.

"What the hell ..."  Check the site.  Check the pump.  Everything looks good.  Bolus in a correction and carry on.  Half an hour later, 276 mg/dl.

"Oh come on," I plead with my thigh.  Lace in a few more units.  An hour later, peaking at 290 mg/dl.  Mouth thick with sweaters, a high headache, and feeling too sleepy to sit at a computer and try to focus on work.

45 minutes later, back down to 210 mg/dl.  An hour from there, 176 mg/dl. 

A shaky 59 mg/dl at lunchtime. 

Ridiculous.  It's my own fault for correcting on top of correcting, but I felt so frustrated with the high that I was intent upon getting it down.  Of course, I slightly over-treated the reaction because it felt particularly intense after a morning of elevated blood sugars, so I had the pleasure of a 261 mg/dl later in the afternoon.

Back down to 143 mg/dl before I left work.

Before going into the gym, I was steady at 134 mg/dl.  Feeling better now that I was down to a normal number but beaten down after a day of ping-ponging, I hopped on the treadmill and started my Larry Bird 33 minutes.  The televisions at the gym were all on, but no sound, so I listened to my iPod and watched the news in closed-captioning. 

Katie Couric sat at the newsdesk and a graphic reading "Type 1 Diabetes" appeared over her right shoulder.  My eyes locked on the screen.  Sweat on my forehead.  Working out hard.  Tested my blood sugar - 90 mg/dl.  I felt strong and healthy and like the world was mine to conquer.

The tv showed a young girl with a meter and an insulin pump.  The captioning then switched to talk about the study in Brazil where 13 type 1 patients are now making their own insulin, after a risky yet hopefully effective procedure.  "Potentially a cure for people living with type 1 diabetes."

My heart leapt.  Is it okay to hope sometimes?  Or is it safer to not think about it and instead fight hard, every day, because my life - our lives -depend on it?

Closed captioning keeps coming:  "Could be the breakthrough for type 1 ... years aA Cure for Diabetesway from reaching the public ... cure ... advancements in technology ... cure..."

Shaky.  My legs are weak.  The sweat on my brow feels different, colder somehow.  I slow the treadmill down and test - 55 mg/dl. 

Tears of frustration spring up.  I felt so strong just seven minutes ago, when my blood sugar was at 90 mg/dl.  Now I feel crumpled at 55 mg/dl.  I drain half of my juice bottle and wait for my blood sugar to rise.  The word "cure" is on the closed captioning slates behind my eyes.

I just want to know.  I want to know what it will be like.  I want it in my lifetime.  I'm reluctant to say that I want it now because that means I'm allowing myself to hope.  Hope is nice and makes me smile, but it does nothing to lower my A1c or repair my eyes.

Some days, diabetes is something small that I carry in my pocket.  Other days it is something heavy that I drag behind me in a wagon with no wheels. 

But is there a tiny glimmer of hope now?  I mean,  Katie Couric said so.

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April 10, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Photo credit to BostonDirtDogs.com

I walked up the sidewalk from my car towards the parking lot as the sun rose behind the train station.  The street was bathed in a golden, early morning light and everything seemed calm and peaceful.

I approached my building and saw some people standing outside, milling around in their red jackets.  Familiar blue caps with the red "B" stitched to the front.  And before these heroes was a pile of beer as they waited for their bus to take them to Boston for opening day.

I couldn't help myself.

"Excuse me?"

The oldest man in the bunch turned to look at me, a soft look of understanding in his eye.

"Yes?"

"I'm sorry, but am I seeing things?  Are there really a bunch of Red Sox fans outside of my western CT office?"

His face eased into a smile and he put his hand on my shoulder.

"Yes.  We're here."

"I'm from Rhode Island.  I love the Red Sox..."  It was all I could choke out.  I am constantly surrounded by Yankees fans (I'm marrying one, for crying out loud) and Mets fans out here in western Connecticut ... was I really seeing my beloved Sox fans?

He laughed.  The rest of them quieted and leaned in, like monks in red jackets.

"We're here, my child.  You're never alone."

Then the crew of them errupted in laughter.  They offered me a beer.  I respectfully declined, thanked them for making my day, and went into my office, proud of the pack of wild Sox fans that waited for their Boston-bound buses. 

GO SOX!!!

Go Sox!!!

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April 09, 2007

Faithful Reader Needs Some Advice

Looking for brilliant help from the vast resources and life experiences of the people who read this blog.  I received an email from the mother of a little girl with type 1 diabetes who is looking for ways to teach her daughter's classmates about diabetes.   

"Hi Kerri,

I've been a faithful reader of your website at Six Until Me from some months now. I just love your site.

I was wondering if you could tell me your personal experience with how you made your classmates in Elementary school aware of your diabetes, how did you go about doing that? My daughter KayLee(dxd at 26 months) is in Kindergarten this year, and we've been searching for a fun way to teach the kids in her class about her diabetes. I havent came up with much You guys are definitely superheroes.as of yet. Do you have any suggestions, or even something that you would NOT recommend?

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Thanks for your time.
   ~Bobbi"

How did you tell your classmates about your diabetes?  And if you are the parent of a diabetic child, do you have any tips on telling?  Any help you can offer up to Bobbi is greatly appreciated.

1EDIT:  If you have a chance to drop Bobbi an email, she can be reached at davisbj at umr dot edu.
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April 06, 2007

Chow Daddy

Eating healthy is sometimes very difficult for me, particularly when I'm having fantasies (also known as "fan-taste-ies) about things like cheesecake, ice cream, and Cadbury mini eggs.  I don't have snacky urges too often, but the last two days have been a real struggle.

Case in point:  We went to the grocery store last night and I had to physically force myself to peruse the produce aisles instead of sneaking off to the aisle where all the Easter candy is.  We bought green beans, tomatoes, some fruit, fresh spinach, and carrots.  

Bo-oooring.  What a pair of boring health freaks.  I wanted nothing more than to throw the green beans into the air as a distraction and, while everyone is watching the beans cascade back to the ground, devour a whole box of Keebler cookies. 

"I need something snaaaaaacky," I mumbled. 

"Let's find something snaaaaaacky, then."  Chris responded.

What I found: 

Eat Smart Soy Chips.  YUM!

These Eat Smart Soy Crisps.  They are pretty tasty, crunchy enough to convince me that they may, in fact, be potato chips, and they only have 11g of carbs per 20 pieces.  They could tame the Snack Beast.

Sold.

Eating healthy can be a bit of a pain, but the payoff is worth it.  It's much easier to eat healthier now than back in the 80's when PSA's like Chow Daddy were on the air.

(Please, please tell me you remember Chow Daddy. He was on a PSA that ran in the Boston area, and he was an advocate for healthy school lunches. Mind you, he told everyone to eat pizza, spaghetti, and burgers, but the hand motions he used were distracting enough to make you consider it. I remember seeing him when I was a little kid.

I asked people in my office if they had heard of him and they had no idea what I was talking about.  I was also told that cartoons are based on my life, but that's neither here nor there.)

Chow Daddy does exist, damn it.  Here's the only video clip I could find:


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April 05, 2007

Question and Answer Meme.

credit to Toothpaste for Dinner

Questions courtesy of Julia

1.  What does blogging do for you?

It’s put me in touch with other diabetics who are experiencing so much of what I experience.  It’s given me the opportunity to embark on a new career path.  It makes me feel confident, strong, silly, self-conscious, and happy all in the same spin cycle.  It has given my family and friends the opportunity to see what diabetes is like, without having to talk about it all the time.  It makes me laugh, sometimes.  (It also forces me to learn html coding and stylesheets.)

It makes me realize how much reading the words, “I feel that way, too,” can make your whole world crack wide open.  It confirms I’m not alone.

2.  Do you have any tattoos?  If so, what of and what do they represent?  If not, would you?

No tattoos for this girl.  And no plans for any, either.  I can’t think of anything I want on my body for permanence.  My two best friends are all inked, though.  They look lovely.  I just don’t have the desire.  I did, however, pierce my navel just to piss my father off.  Success!

3.  If money were no object, describe what your wedding would be like.  Where would you Pez.  It's very wedding-y.honeymoon?

Ah, the wedding.  (Can I admit to the seven bridal magazines that are on my bookshelf at work right now?  And the wedding binder I’m building at home?  And should I also admit to the fact that I’ve barely been engaged for two weeks?) 

Having fully disclosed that, my dream wedding would be enormous.  Our guest list would scroll on for miles, including the names of every family member and every friend we have.  There would be a string quartet that plays as I walk down the aisle, a live band for our reception, and the most decadent, crank-up-your-pump cake of all time.  People would be happy that we’re happy.  You’d hear the laughter from miles away and people’s jaws would ache from smiling.  And we’d know that plane tickets (and let’s not forget the xanax!) would be sitting in our hotel room, ready to fly us off to Europe for a three-week honeymoon adventure.

But, regardless of budget, the day would end and I would be his wife.  That’s the best part.  And you can’t put a price on that.

4.  What is your all-time, number one, desert island favorite book/album/movie?

All time favorite book – The Princess Bride 
All-time favorite album – The Joshua Tree
All-time favorite movie – Braveheart

5.  Is what you do for a living what you’d do if money were no object?  If not, what would you do?

Let’s be honest – if money were no object, I’d be writing books full-time and running a flower shop.  But since money is always an object, I’m more than happy to be working for a company whose mission I respect and share.

If you want five, let me know.  I'm more than happy to dole them out.  (Be warned - they could be pretty damn random.)

Completely unrelated – I received a UPS box yesterday at work from a reader with a lovely engagement gift inside.  The card was so nice, but unsigned.  If you wish to remain anonymous, I wanted to make sure I thanked you so much for your gift!  If Who is this from?you would email me at kerri @ sixuntilme . com, I would love to send you a personal “thank you” instead of this sort of general one. 

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April 04, 2007

Diabetes is Everywhere.

Diabetes is everywhere. 

It was in my car last night when I climbed in after work, seeing the test strip on the driver's seat.  It was on my bathroom counter, where I placed the pump when I disconnected for my shower.  Little bits of it are at the bottom of my purse, where test strips are scattered.  And it's folded into every meal, with a quick finger prick, some fast calculations, and discreet button pushing.

No one's the wiser.  Where's the pump?

Except this morning, when I made a small scene on my way into work.

Making attempts to enjoy the more feminine side of my wardrobe, I decided on a skirt this morning.  Skirt, shirt, underwear, and stockings.  Jewelry.  And insulin pump.  Since there was no good place to clip my pump, I used the thigh holster and viola - the outfit was complete.

Walking out the door to my car, no problem.

Driving to work, no problem.

Arrived at work.  Grabbed my bag and my folder.  Started walking from the car to my office.

Pump.  Slipping.  With every step.

"Oh shit, shit."  Whispering to myself, trying not to make it look like I'm walking as though I've just been startled to the point of staggering.  Every step I take, my knees are bending more and more to keep the pump from sliding out.  Since the infusion set is in my thigh, there's plenty of tubing to send this pump straight to the sidewalk.  The pump is sliding neatly down my right thigh, edging towards my knee, soon to be on the ground.

Wearing a calf-length black coat, I figure I have about two more steps before the pump and the holster drop into plain view of everyone driving by and the entire Westport train station. 

I duck into a side lot and try to make it look like I'm just itching my ankle.  Then I try and grab the holster through my coat, as it hovers just below my knee, hoping I can hitch it up above my knee and at least make it into my office. 

No luck.

The pump drops, hanging around my ankle like a sad garter belt. 

I grab it, holster and all, and hold it against my purse.  The tubing is pulling up the front of my skirt a little, but not in an indecent way, more in a "Are you wearing a garter to work?" sort of way.  My face is scarlet - I'm trying to walk with dignity, as though I'm not holding my pancreas in my hand.

Almost to the building.  I think I may be able to make it in there without dropping it or everything I'm carrying. 

All at once, my phone rings.  The pump beeps.  The train comes roaring into the station.  My meter case falls from my open purse.  My pump slips from my hand, clatters against the sidewalk, just in time for the guy who runs the parking lot to put out his cigarette and say, "Mornin'.  Hey, your phone charger is still attached to your phone, you know." 

Diabetes is everywhere.  And this morning, it was all over the sidewalk. 

1
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April 03, 2007

Doug Burns, Maced?

A few months ago, I had a very nasty low blood sugar at the movie theater.  Robbed of my ability toScene Two. comprehend and stumbling like I was intoxicated, I wandered out to the snack counter and tried to purchase a juice from the concession counter.  The refused to serve me because they had "already closed down for the night."  An argument ensued and I ended up screaming at the manager until they provided me with juice - which of course I paid for. 

If I was a strong, athletic looking man with a deep voice and bulging biceps, instead of a young woman, barely 5'3" and speaking in a higher-pitched voice, would I have been arrested?  Would management have called the police on me instead of rolling their eyes at my protests and reluctantly providing me with juice? 

Ask Doug Burns.

He was wrestled and maced outside of a downtown movie theater in Redwood City after police thought he was intoxicated, watching him stumble to the snack counter to ask for juice to treat his reaction. 

According to an article by Michelle Durand of The Daily Journal, "The security guard told police that Burns was wobbly and unstable on his feet and wouldn't reply to his questions.  Thinking Burns was intoxicated, the guard walked him outside and told him to leave.  When Burns didn't, he called police to report his loitering." 

"I could understand if I was belligerent or had track marks but I was nicely dressed and I don't think I fit the profile or smelled like alcohol," said Burns, according to the article.

The Daily Journal went on to further state that "Burns believes the situation was based on complete ignorance of his condition and diabetes as a whole."

I've been asked by police officers if I am drunk, when in fact I was low.  I've experienced my own altercations at movie theaters and gyms and grocery stores.  I've fought off paramedics and spoken completely out of turn, due to a low blood sugar.  While I know I am responsible for maintaining my own condition and while I do my best to be prepared for any diabetes-related situation, things happen.  We are responsible for ourselves, but this is another example of how ignorance about diabetes can put lives in dangerous situations.  Sometimes we need the kindness and the help of strangers.

Not to be maced.

Read the full article here.  Contact Michelle Durand by clicking here.  Sometimes I can't believe the things I hear. 

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April 02, 2007

Has A Nice Ring To It.

EXIST Magazine:  Enjoy it while you're young.Busy times.  Already on Coffee No. 3.  This can't be good.  (Actually, it's quite tasty.  Nice hazelnut blend, light on the cream, couple of Equals shoved in there.  Piping hot in my ridiculous SUM mug.)

EXIST Magazine:  The April Edition is live and looming large over at www.existmag.com.  Read up on the latest from the EXIST Magazine staff.  And if you're interested in submitting your own piece to the magazine, send your queries to The Editors.

The 30-60-120 Challenge:  I'm having trouble prioritizing lately.  Tasks are starting to swirl around, and not in the lovely soft-serve ice cream sort of way.  Being the busy couple that we are and in efforts to help prioritize, Chris and I have challenged one another to the "30-60-120 Challenge."  We've set goals for one another at the 30 day, 60 day, and 120 day marks, contingent upon what we know means most to one another.  While my 30 Day and 60 Day goals are writing oriented (see also: Kerri Needs to Finish Her Damn Book), my 120 Day goal is decidedly diabetes-related.  I'm not sure if it was the vacation fun, the excitement of the engagement, or just plain old burnout, but whatever the case, the average on my meter is edging ever closer to 170 mg/dl and I'm disgusted.  Couple of spotty 300's and way too many 200's in the memory of my machine. 

I need to focus and fix this.  Now.

I was talking about it with Chris and he has challenged me to lower my A1c.  It's my 120 Day Challenge.  So, over the next four months, my health focus is to reign in this number.  Regardless of work, wedding, and other assorted bits, diabetes management cannot be cast aside.  Instead, it's become paramount.  My fiance and I will tackle this mess together.  Maybe Siah will help by not prowling all over the bed at night and staring at me while I try and sleep.  It's not easy to fall asleep with a purring, gray diaster pawing at your chin.  Blasted cat.

If you had to set a 30, 60, or 120 Day Challenge for yourself, what would you aim to accomplish?

The Ring:  For those of you who asked to see it, here is my engagement ring.  (Courtney, I'm not sure if the picture I sent you made it through, so this is for you!)  I love it.  The sparkle continuously distracts me and makes me grin.

My ring.  :)

 

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