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July 03, 2007

SiCKO

SiCKOWe saw it last night - SiCKO.  And I have to admit - I walked out feeling a bit tangled.

Michael Moore gets people talking.  You don't have to like him and you can call him "un-American."  You can hate his films.  You can love his films.  The fact of the matter is that his films start discussions, and these discussions are necessary.

That disclaimer tossed out there, the film generated a big "sigh" from me.  The first half of it, showing images of people working three jobs to cover their healthcare expenses, negotiating "which finger to reattach" after an accidental amputation based on what a patient can afford, and the stress of making sense of insurance denials.  This portion resonated for me on several levels.  The battles faced not by someone without health insurance but by the Americans who have it.

I thought about my own insurance battles.  Like the hoops I had to jump through to have my insulin pump covered as a "medical necessity."  Or when insurance companies told me that "four test strips a day is enough for a type 1 diabetic," not taking into account any hypoglycemic unawareness, jaunts to the gym, or the need to know if I'm steady before going to bed.   I thought about the pump infusion sets I've used for more than their prescribed length because I couldn't afford the copays for an extra box of sets.  The phone calls to insurance representatives that include phrases like, "Um, I need it to live," and "I can't believe you're telling me, a diabetic, that testing my blood sugar isn't necessary."

Michael Moore makes several talking points that Chris and I talked about for the rest of the night.  Moments in the film where Moore illustrates how keeping a society blanketed in debt makes them more dedicated (desperate?) members of the workforce.  This was disturbing to me, as I thought about people I knew who worked 70 hour work weeks at incredibly trying jobs, just so that they can have medical insurance. 

The part of this film that I didn't like was Moore's blinders-on view of universal health care.  No system is perfect.  He made it seem as though after the film finished, I needed to grab my passport and go ex-Pat, heading off to France or Britain or even hopping the border to Canada.  I do think that countries practicing preventative care vs. acute care are far smarter than the reactive United States, but I don't want to pack my bags and trot off to France.  I would rather help change to happen within our own borders and take measures to fix a problem instead of abandoning it.  Aren't we a force to be reckoned with, the blogosphere?  Aren't we some of the voices that Big Pharma thinks about nervously, right before they fall asleep at night?

(Whoa, Kerri.  A bit idealistic today.  Don't you want to go to France?  They have unlimited sick days.  And government employees who do your laundry.  Stop humming "The Greatest Love of All ...")

I'm fine with doing my own laundry.  I'm fine with working hard and earning my medical insurance.  But I'm not fine with being told that my medicine isn't "covered" or "necessary" or that insurance companies would rather pay for my dialysis vs. my insulin pump.  Preventative care is what protects people with diabetes, keeping our potential diabetes-related complications quiet longer.  Being plucked for every cent we earn, or worse denied, for that preventative care is cruel.

Go see this movie.  See what gnaws at you. 

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July 02, 2007

All or Nothing.

Saturday afternoon, I removed the Dexcom sensor. 

For the record, that Dexcom is worth the design flaws and I was very impressed with the results.  (More on that later.)  But also for the record, pulling out the sensor was extremely painful - that adhesive is intense!  I had to use a damp cloth around the sticky gauzey bits to help alleviate that "peeling my skin from my body" feeling.   Why didn't I apply a new sensor?  Due to the upcoming July 4th holiday and the white-water rafting trip this weekend, I didn't feel comfortable toting around an additional gizmo that couldn't get wet.  So off it came, to be reintegrated next week.

Saturday night, I removed my insulin pump.

I decided to take a "pump vacation" for the rafting trip, based on my insecurity about being able toLantus in lieu of my pump. properly protect it and my fear of it being busted on the excursion.  (I thought a lot about the advice to order a back-up pump, use the AquaPack, etc. but I had to go with my gut on this one.)   So late Saturday night, I disconnected my pump and took my first shot of Lantus in almost four years.

I was at Batman's house, spending the night before I headed up to Boston to retrieve Chris (yay!) from the airport.  

"Ah, the red ladybug bag!"  Batman exclaimed.  (It was a Clinique "free gift" from several years ago - a red circular zippered case that was plastic and held my insulin bottles when I was on injections.)  "I remember that thing!  I also remember when you went on the pump in the first place.  Is this weird?"

"Definitely."  I uncapped the syringe with my teeth and put the needle tip into the new bottle of Lantus, drawing back 16 units.  "This is completely bizarre.  But it's only for a week.  Just until Sunday night."

It's been two days without it and I'm feeling pretty good.  I am back on my old dose of Lantus (15 1/2 units at 10 o'clock at night) and I'm bolusing with an insulin pen.  Between you and I (and the entire internet), I miss my pump and I feel like I'm walking around naked, but this brief vacation is just that:  brief.  Blood sugars have been closely monitored and in a holding pattern of about 150 mg/dl, which is higher than I shoot for but I'm happy to have them steady instead of bouncing.

This is weird, though, going from two savvy devices to nothing more than an insulin pen in my purse.  Weirder still (yet comforting) is the fact that Chris has never known me without my pump.  It's always been a part of our life together.

After rescuing my fiance from the airport (at 7 am in Boston - damn that's early), I gave him a huge hug and then shared my secret with him.  "I'm not wearing a pump today."

His arms circled my waist and he gave me a kiss on the head.

"I never notice even when you do." 

Welcome home, Chris.  I'm so happy you're home!

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June 27, 2007

Dexcom Warrior.

Siah spies.I have to be completely honest here:  The Dexcom scared the hell out of me.

It sat on the kitchen table for a few days and stayed hidden in the FedEx box.  I wasn't quite ready to look at it and I was even less ready to saddle myself with another medical device.  But a couple of Officially Scary low blood sugars, coupled with my fiance being away on business, and I was ready to give it a go.

Siah and I spent a few hours reading over the material that came with the Dexcom.  She flipped through a few pages and finally trotted off with one of the shower covers,  leaving me in peace to peruse the papers.

8:00 pm:  There are a lot of pieces to work with here.  The sensor, the inserter for the sensor, and the receiver.  I'm intimidated at the idea of wearing another device, even for just a few days.  I don't want it to be cumbersome.  Oh man, I'm nervous.  

What?  The insertion needle is how long?  Half an inch?  Is that long?  That's 1.3 cm.  That's more than double the length of my infusion set.  Damnit, I just need to put this thing in and be done with it.

9:30 pm:   Here's the insertion device for the STS Sensor.  (That's Prussia the Cat asleep in the chair in the background.  This is her blog cameo.) 

The STS Sensor inserter.  And Prussia in the background.

After reading over and over in the instruction booklet how to put it in, I pressed the insertion device against my stomach and gently - oh so gently - pressed down on the plunger apparatus.  I felt the needle prick against my skin.  It felt like an infusion set.  My panic eased back a bit as I deployed the plunger and fully inserted the sensor needle.

9:35 pm:  Inserted.  Now I wait two hours for the damn thing to calibrate.  

11:35 pm:  The receiver clipped to my shorts buzzes like it is alerting me that the house is on fire.  "Whoa there, Dexcom."  I mutter, unclipping the device and setting it on the desk in front of me.  Two little blood drops are dancing on the screen.  Following the instructions in the manual, I test my blood sugar twice on a One Touch Ultra machine and link up the One Touch to the STS Receiver.  The results travel across time, space, and the span of my desk and lodge themselves into the receiver.

11:50 pm:  As promised, 15 minutes passes and my results pop up on the screen.  "96 mg/dl."  Nice way to start.  Let's see if it lasts.

Here's what the site looks like "on."  (Pump on the left, Dexcom on the right, like I'm a six-until-me shooter from some weird diabetes Western.  And apparently I need to Windex the full-length mirror.)

Dexcom Warrior - And I'll admit that I never, EVER thought I would post my stomach on the internet.  Geez.

It feels slightly more intrusive than an insulin pump infusion site, but it's not too troublesome.  I'm wondering if it can be worn on the thigh.  The biggest drawback so far (even after only three hours) is definitely the size of the receiver.  This thing is clunky and cumbersome.  I'm hoping that the data will outweigh the device.  

Tomorrow brings my first full Dexcom Day.  I'm all a-twitter!

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June 25, 2007

Weekend Update.

Over the weekend in Rhode Island, NurseBestFriend and I spent a little time on the beach, relaxing in the sun and watching families play along the shore and the old guy with leathered skin behind us swirl his belly hair into a cyclone. 

"What is that guy doing?"  NBF whispered over her shoulder as the man behind us sang along to his iPod.

"It's like his stomach is a cotton candy machine.  Oh my goodness, is he singing Celine Dion?"

We talked about our jobs, the wedding next year, and our plans to take Batman out for her birthday that night.  After assessing our sun-burned skin, we headed up Route 4 and grabbed the Batman.

Dinner in Providence.

All three.

A drink or two.  (Okay, maybe a few drinks.)

Kerri and NBF.

And some dancing.

Batman and Robin?  No, that's Kerri.

Blood sugars were a little on the higher side (running from around 180 mg/dl and crested up as high as 265 mg/dl) but it was nice to relax with friends and have a good time.  Focusing on work, developing side-projects, and keeping my eye on the career ball is good, but sometimes you need to just let loose and have a damn good time.

And before bed last night I was 129 g/dl.  This morning, 127 mg/dl.  Good recovery.  Back on track for the work week.   

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June 21, 2007

Fudgy the Whale

Back a few years ago, when I was working in an arbitration firm, I developed an obsession with Fudgy the Whale.  (Yes, we're back at Tom Carvel again.)  The job I worked was thankless, forcing my then 23 year old self to receive payment for only 35 hours when I was plugging through more than 40.  Deadlines were strict, the matters were enormously legal, and my days were spent consulting with high-power attorneys and former FBI heads.  Files piled up.  Stress levels were elevated. 

It was at this job that I decided to start insulin pumping.  I had been struggling to lower my A1c for some time and my morning dawn phenomenon symptoms were becoming a daily nuisance.  Couple those factors with the low blood sugars I was being tagged with and I was a grumpy little diabetic. 

I started making the phone calls to my doctor in November, telling her that I was ready to transition to pump therapy.  After a few training classes at Joslin, some in-depth discussions with my then-partner, and way too many phone calls with the soul-sucking ghouls at my medical insurance company, I was finally suited up with my Minimed 512 and ready to roll.

After I started pumping, I was so tempted to start experimenting with the insulin-to-carb ratios.  Specifically the ones that would allow for, say, some ice cream cake?

"You guys remember Fudgy the Whale, right?"  I asked my co-workers over lunch one day.  They did.  But I wouldn't let it go.

"Man, those ice cream cakes were delicious.  We should totally get one for the office."

"Right.  We should!"

But we didn't.  And the pump clipped to my hip kept whispering to me as I filed my arbitration awards. 

"Pssst.  Kerri.  Listen, you can totally do an ice cream cake.  Just use your 1:10 ratio and read the carb count on the side of the box."

I tried to whisper back without moving my lips.  Didn't want anyone at work to think I was nuts.

"I know.  I'm working on it."

After a few days, my frenzied discussions about Tom Carvel and his fabulous cakes tapered off a bit, thanks to a workload that was holding me by the throat.

One afternoon - "Hey guys, we have a meeting in ten.  Conference room."  My bosses voice rang out over the cubicle farm and we all popped up like overworked whack-a-moles.

I finished up the file I was working on and grabbed my notebook for the meeting.  The conference room was right near my desk, so I strolled on over, opened the door, and saw:

Fudgie.

And on his belly, it said, "Fudgy Loves Kerri."Fudgy the Whale!!!

"Oh!  Fudgy the Whale!  He's here!"  I couldn't help myself.  I regressed immediately, grinning like a six year old at the idea of ice cream cake with tasty crunchies. 

"We were going to write 'You Must Shoot Up Now,' but figured that may be offensive.  But you can shoot up now.  Use your pump thing.  And we'll have cake!"

And we had cake.  As a team, we devoured every last morsel of Mr. F.T. Whale.  I used my new insulin pump to cover bases and enjoyed both a piece of Whale and a stable blood sugar an hour and half afterwards.

Even a crappy job can be momentarily saved by Tom Carvel. 

( And a HUGE Happy Birthday to my friend Batman! )  

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June 19, 2007

Belly Up.

Last night:  In a bit of a fit, I decided to use my abdomen for my infusion set.  Pressing the Quick-Serter against my stomach for the first time in over two years, I had that fleeting thought of "Oh what if this stings???" but it deployed smoothly.  Sitting at my desk and returning some emails, the site on my stomach didn't bother me much.  Resting about three inches to the right of my naval, I didn't notice any issue due to my low-rise pajama bottoms.

Went to bed just past midnight, after texting Chris good-night and knowing he would call once he was back in his hotel room in San Francisco, I fell asleep with Abby to the right of me and Siah prowling around after the cap of the hairspray bottle on the floor.

The phone rings at 2:30 in the morning, 11:30 California time.

I reach over and answer, my head damp and the waves of nausea coming over me violently.

"Hello?"

"Hey baby, it's me.  How's my girl?"

How's his girl?  She's fumbling with the test strip, convinced she needs to test and confirm this low blood sugar instead of crawling to the kitchen for juice.  She's pricking her finger by the lamplight.  She's afraid to say anything yet because she knows this one is bad and she doesn't want to make him nervous.

30 mg/dl.

"I'm low.  I'm 30.  I'm low."  The words are a steady stream of consciousness, falling off my lips and traveling 3,000 miles across the country to my fiance's ears.

"Juice.  Now, okay?  You need to drink it now."  I can hear him trying to be calm, but it's hard when he's not next to me and able to run for the juice himself.

"Okay."  I walk out to the kitchen, Abby following me and wailing.  I open a sports bottle of juice and drain it.  I open a second one and drain that one, too, my phone against my ear and my back against the cold edge of the fridge.

"I drank it.  I'm going to come up soon." 

Most of the time when I'm low, I know it's going to be okay.  I know that I'll regain my control and then I'll smile sheepishly.  But this time, I'm scared.  I'm alone, I'm scared, and these tides of weakness and release are washing over me, making me frightened that if I close my eyes, I won't open them again.Light the way to good control?  Oh man, that's cheesy.

"It's okay, Kerri.  It's okay.  We're going to wait and you'll be okay.  I'm here."

The tears escape without my permission.

"But I'm scared.  I feel close.  I'm scared.."

I sit quietly and wait for the juice to push back the tide.  And it does.

"I miss you." 

"There's my girl.  You sound better already.  You're coming up, right?  Why don't you test?"

62 mg/dl.  Just seeing the number brings me relief.

"Sixty-two.  I'm on the climb.  It's okay.  I'm sorry."

"What happened?"

"I don't know.  I put the site on my stomach for the first time in a few years and maybe it absorbed more quickly than my thigh.  I don't know."

And we stay on the phone for another thirty minutes, his voice coaxing my blood sugar back into range. 

I have a DexCom (thank you, endlessly, Diabetes Fairy) sitting on my dining room table.  I think it's time to give it a go.

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June 18, 2007

Regression.

The phone rang at 4:30 in the morning.  One shrill ring cut through the unfamiliar darkness of my mother's house.  I reached over to grab the receiver but it stopped ringing.  My head, warm from sleep and damp with sweat, pounded in the silence.

I switched on the lamp by the bed and unzipped the black case that hides my meter.  I closed my eyes as the screen counted down, not wanting to see the numbers just yet.  I wanted to go back to sleep.   

42 mg/dl. 

My arms like overcooked spaghetti, I spilled from the guestbed in my mother's house and shuffled into her kitchen, my hands tracing the walls to keep me centered.  I switched on the kitchen light and rescued a bottle of juice from her fridge.  Poured a glass of dark purple grape juice, tipped it back into my throat.  Counting back eight sips, a small bit dribbled out onto my blue t-shirt and left a splotchy reminder. 

Back in the bed, I lay on top of the covers and concentrated on the face of a small ceramic doll in the corner of the guest room, locking eyes with it and willing the room to stop tossing like a ship. 

My mother poked her head in.  "Are you okay?  Was that Chris?  Did he arrive safely?"

"I'm okay.  I'm just low."

"Oh."  She pushes the door open and steps inside.  "Did you have someRegardless of age.  juice?"

"I did.  I'm okay.  I'll come up in a few minutes.  Don't worry."

"I feel weird going back to sleep now."

I haven't lived with either of my parents since I was 20 years old.  I share an apartment with my fiance and a few cats, maintaining some semblance of adult life and living independently.  Yet a low blood sugar under my mother's roof sends me back to when I was nine years old.

"It's okay, Mom.  I promise."

She nods her head and I hear her go back into her bedroom.  She leaves her door open just enough. 

As I wait for my blood sugar to rise, I understand that despite a career and a wedding and fierce independence, I understand that no matter how grown-up my life may feel, I am still her daughter. 

Her worries don't taper with age.

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June 13, 2007

Grocery Wars.

The wheels on the grocery cart clatter against the store's tile floor as my Internal Motivational Speaker and My Stomach wage war inside my head.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Oh Kerri, don't those organic cucumbers look delicious!  You can slice them up and eat them as a snack in the morning.  Grab two of those.

My hands extend out and grab two cucumbers.

Stomach:  Seriously, dude, if you don't get me something to eat I am going to make Total weakness for these things.that noise you hate.  You know the one.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  And raspberries!  They are filled with flavonoids.  Get those, too.

The raspberries make their way into my cart.  I shuffle through the grocery store on autopilot.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Yes, yes.  Baby spinach.  Some sliced turkey and cheese for sandwiches for lunch.  Good idea.  Baby carrots ...

Stomach:  Baby spinach, baby carrots.  You eat babies.  Heh heh.  FEED ME.  I'm running out of patience. 

I turn right and make my way down the granola bar and cereal aisle.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  You liked those organic granola bars we bought last week.  Grab another box of those.  Keep walking past that cereal, too high in carbs for you.  You know if makes you spike.  How about some banana bread oatmeal?  That worked out nicely.

The area just below my belly button lets loose with a low growl, like I'm hiding a ravenous bear underneath my workout shirt.

Stomach:  See?  Told you.  You can't go to the gym and then come straight here without feeding me.  I've let the bear loose now.  That guy over there just looked at you because it sounds like you are about to throw up.  Ha ha ha.  Because you eat babies.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Stomach, stop being so crude!  We'll be home soon.  Just be patient.

Stomach:  I am being patient.  You don't know what I've been through, lady.  She did abs tonight.  Do you know what that means?  She spent way too much time crunching and now I'm all tense.  Hey Kerri, grab those frosted mini-wheats.  I've earned them.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  No no!  Frosting on the outside means high blood sugars on the inside, you silly prat! 

Stomach:  They say whole-grain.  Do you see that, Kerri?  Whole-grain.  Grab 'em.

Whispering "Whole-grains are in these," to myself, I add the mini-wheats to my cart.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I can't believe this!  You just went to the gym and now you're adding "frosted mini-wheats" to the cart?  I mean really, Kerri, you need to get your priorities straight.  Now come on and put them back.

Stomach:  Kerri, you have your priorities in fine order.  You are eating well and exercising and torturing the hell out of me.  Add those mini-wheats to your rabbit food carriage and let's get on with this.  I need a snack. 

The bear growls again.

Stomach:  Rocco's getting upset.  Better move on.Rocco has the wheats.

I move the mini-wheats underneath the bags of fresh vegetables.  My Internal Motivational Speaker sighs deeply.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I can still see them, you know. 

Stomach:  Oh would you just shut up?

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I will not.  And another thing ...

I hear the sound of a heavy chain snapping and the ravenous roar of a hungry bear. 

Stomach:  Sick 'em, Rocco!

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Noooo!!  Oh God, I can feel his breath on my motivational neck!  Help! 

Her voice trails off.  And the mini-wheats stay in the cart.

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June 07, 2007

Lisa Roney, and then Some Sausage.

Three items in this post, two of which are very important.  (One is purely silliness.)

ONE:  My friend Lisa Roney, author of "Sweet Invisible Body" is the guest of honor tonight over at Diabetes Talkfest.  Log in to chat with her at 9 pm EST.  This is the logo that will appear.This is definitely a chat to be at!

TWO:  Be sure to check out the posts over at Your Story!  If you'd like to submit your own story, send an email to story @ sixuntilme dot com.  And if you'd like to post a banner in your sidebar that links to Your Story, click here for the html.

AND THREE:  (this is the silly one.) I'm sorry to be posting another YouTube clip (they make the blog look messy, in my opinion), but I was duped.  Sausage has been trotting around with a little notebook I received (from Ms. ChronicBabe herself, actually!) and bringing it everywhere with her.  I wanted to grab her escapades on video, but she wouldn't perform for me.  I sat on the floor for a few minutes, hopeful that Siah would do her thing, but she just sat staring at me.  I left the camera on the floor.  And the little rat bastard pulled a fast one.  (Guest appearance by Abby the Cat.  She also has a speaking role.)

Ah.  Cat blogging.  Completely ridiculous. (And the video is a little on the dark side. Working on fixing that now.)

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June 06, 2007

Snacks.

Diagnosed as a kid, I don't remember ever having the option to snack recklessly.  My mother and father, determined to keep me as healthy as possible, packed me school snacks that would bring great joy to ... an 80 year old woman maybe.  However, I was eight years old and toting around a lunch sack containing rice cakes and carrot sticks.  (Yes, very healthy.  Yes, also very boring when you're a kid.)

I have to admit:  I finagled some lunch switcheroos when I was a kid.  Those rice cakes that my Tasty and fibrous!mother had loving factored into my meal plan were chucked into the trash in favor of someone else's Ring Dings.  I'm ashamed to admit it, but I'm assuming I'm not the only one who ditched the meal plan.  I was a stupid kid, for crying out loud!  And those snacks that were orchestrated to fit with my peaking NPH and Regular doses were tedious.   

I've heard that taste buds change every seven years.  Is this a bullshit claim?  Does that explain why the snacks of yester-year are no longer repulsive to me and are instead coveted tasty bits?

Enter green beans.

Fresh green beans are my snack of choice all year long, all day long.  I like their cool exterior and their vibrant green color.  I like how they snap.  And I like how they make me feel full and require almost no insulin to keep their effects on my blood sugars quiet. 

If you asked me when I was a kid, "Hey Kerri, how about some nice, tasty green beans?" I would have mustered up the nastiest look possible.  But now I buy them by the pound at the grocery store.

Other snacks I've found to be both diabetes-friendly and tasty (or at least not disgusting) are walnuts, almonds, cottage cheese, and sharon fruits.  If I was presented with that list as a child, I would have been sick to my stomach.  But thanks to my evolving taste buds, I find these things to be delicious and relatively easy on the D.  What are you guys snacking on?  I could use some further palette expansion.

But don't get me wrong - my remaining childish tastebuds scream for some black raspberry ice cream.  Or a Snickers bar.  ;) 

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June 04, 2007

Starbucks Strikes Again.

Walking along Thames Street in Newport, Chris and I were weeding through the nest of ideas in our heads.  The wind was whipping in off the ocean and danced around our goosebump-covered legs.  The sky became a little overcast, so we decided to duck into Starbucks to grab a coffee and let Chris sketch out his ideas on the margin of a newspaper.Non-fat super-sized double-wide mocha fine jell-o shot machiado supreme.  With fries.

Walking into the coffee shop in shorts and a t-shirt, I couldn't decide which drink I wanted to warm me up.  I knew that it as possible to make some of the drinks sugar-free, but I'm not a Starbucks rat.  I have no clue how to order there - it makes me feel sweaty just thinking about it.  I can't wrap my head around calling something that's a "medium" a "grande."  It's like a caffeinated Taco Bell.  Sometimes I just want to clutch the edge of the counter, lean in close, and whisper madly, through clenched teeth, "A coffee.  Just make me a damn coffee."

But I've digressed once again.

"Hi, what can I get for you?"  The young boy behind the counter had a nice smile and handled the long line of chilly Newport customers with grace.  Chris had already ordered and moved aside to let me in.

"Hi.  Can I get a chai tea?  Is that sugar-free?"

"No, but I can make one with skim milk?"

"Actually, can you do a chai tea with the teabags and steamed milk or something?"

"Sure!  And you can add a few honey packets and then we'll froth it up and it will be delicious."  He grinned. 

I grinned back.

"I can't really add the honey.  I'm diabetic, so I'm looking for something that's as sugar-free as you can make it."

He stopped and looked me dead in the eye.  "A teasto."  (Editor's note:  No clue how to spell that.)  "A non-fat sugar-free vanilla teasto.  No sugar."

"Really?  That sounds delicious.  And then I'll be good to go?"

"Yes.  My father is a diabetic."  He punched in my order on the cash register.  "And so is my little brother."  The girl to his right started making the drink, but he leaned in a grabbed the cup from her.  "Hey Gabby.  I'll make this one myself.  It's important that it comes out right."

A minute later, he placed two cups on the counter. 

"Double espresso for you?"  Chris took his cup.  "And then the sugar-free non-fat vanilla teasto.  For you."  The Starbucks boy leaned across the counter furtively.  "Add like half a packet of Splenda and it's awesome." 

Damn you, Starbucks.  Just when I've thought I'm beyond your caffeinated claws, you reach back out and gently bring me back in.

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May 31, 2007

Meter, Meter, Average-Eater

When I'm feeling particularly moody, I check the average on my machine to assess how things are going, diabetes-wise.  Sometimes I'm expecting a nice number and I'm rewarded with an average of 120 mg/dl or similar.  Sometimes I look at the meter screen through my fingers and see an average of 180 mg/dl screaming back at me. 

But until recently, I believed everything my meter told me.  It was my own little Oracle (like from The Neverending Story, which I have mentioned before and I still love).  Clean my hands, prick my finger, and act in response to the number revealed. 

Earlier this week, my meter was more Magic 8 ball than Oracle.This thing reminds me of that show, A Current Affair.

Using my OneTouch Ultra2 (the mini-meter is officially my "beach meter" and sits waiting in my backpack, along with the tampons), I tested on Wednesday afternoon to see how much glucose I was carrying. 

At 2:38, my meter blipped back with 121 mg/dl.  Ah.  Nice result there.

I am currently testing out the Keynote from Agamatrix, so I busted out that meter for a comparison test.

259 mg/dl.

Quite a difference there. 

Remembering the Hand Lotion Incident from this past winter, I trotted off to the bathroom to wash my hands.  Returning, I retested with the One Touch. 

2:40 pm:  244 mg/dl

2:41 pm:  118 mg/dl

Control solultion test at 2:42 pm:  115 mg/dl

2:43 pm:  210 mg/dl

2:45 pm:  Ask Again Later.  (Damn you, Magic 8 Meter!)

I'm silently screaming in my head at this point.  HOW THE HELL DO I TREAT A BLOOD SUGAR THAT WON'T STAY STILL?

The Keynote responds differently.

2:40 pm:  259 mg/dl

2:41 pm:  272 mg/dl

2:41 pm:  216 mg/dl

Control Solution test at 2:42 pm:  111 mg/dl

2:43 pm:  298 mg/dl

I needed a tie-breaker.  Calling upon one of the diabetics on the dLife Production team, I asked if I could snake his meter for a minute.  Having bailed one another out of several diabetes-jams over the last year, he was more than happy to help me out.  His BD meter spit back a crispy 252 mg/dl.

Okay, obviously I am high.  But I'm not particularly symptomatic, so what if I rolled on with the initial result from the One Touch?  I would have spent the afternoon in the mid-200's, all while thinking I was at a healthy 120 mg/dl.

I'm thankful that I was testing out the Keynote, otherwise I wouldn't have had the inclination to test again and find out that the One Touch was tossing skewed results again.  But my faith is shaken in technology at the moment.  Diabetes control is a moving target as it is, but to factor in technological misfirings in addition to my own wayward tendencies? 

OneTouch, you need to get your shit together. 

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May 21, 2007

(Pre)Cautionary Tales

The good news:  Chris is involved with a very cool film project for the next several weeks, shuttling him back and forth between RI, CT, NYC, and CA.  I am so proud of him that I can't keep the grin off my face even as I type this.

The off-centered news:  My fiance's erratic schedule does create a bit of a concern for me, as I'll be spending more time sleeping alone than I have in the past.  He's here one night, gone the next, away for a few days and then back for a few.  Aside from missing him while he's away working, there is that one small concern.

Yes, that whole "diabetes" thing.

I've lived by myself before.  It wasn't a big deal.  Managing the finances, doing all the shelf-hanging and furniture moving and garbage-taking-outing was more of an issue than being diabetic.   However, I took extra-careful measures when it came to preparing for emergencies.  I was, and have reverted back to being, the diabetic girl scout.

Be prepared, right?

Bedside table, stashed each night with glucose tabs, juicebox, a glucagon kit, my meter, and my cell phone in case I need to call someone?  Check.

Fridge filled with juice bottles, juice boxes, and some tasty gumdrop treats (Come on, you can't always treat with juice.  Sometimes a nice, chewy gumdrop makes the low a bit less crumby.)?  Check.

Contingency plan set up with my mother so that she calls me every morning around 8:30 am?  My office knows that I am staying alone some nights, so they are on the lookout for me and they also have my house number?  Check and check.

Internal pep talk about staying on task, being vigilant, and not letting any diabetes fear compromise how much I'm enjoying my job, my apartment, and my life at the moment?  Check. 

Discussion with Abby about the fact that Chris will be gone some nights, leaving her responsible for waking me up from any low blood sugars by drumming her massive paws on my head and mewing until I start to stir?  She and I touched base about it this morning.  Her lick of my hand confirMy goodness, she can be so creepy!med that she was on board.  Check.

Sidebar discussion with Siah about being not being annoying, not climbing all over me while I'm sleeping, and not hiding out underneath the couch so she can leap out and attack my feet?  Check.  But that had nothing to do with diabetes.  That was mostly about Siah Sausage being annoying.

While Chris persues this incredible opportunity, I need to hold down the proverbial fort.  That includes making sure I'm safe and sound, so he doesn't have to worry about anything. 

Except for Siah.  That cat is completely unpredictable.

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May 15, 2007

Catching Old Ladies In The Act

Chris and I took a little jaunt to Boston this past weekend to visit with Shannon, Julia, and Julia's beautiful family.  (We missed you, Nicole!)  It was so nice - not too much diabetes-talk, but more like the reunion of old friends.

Ah, I love Boston.  We tucked in some lunch at the Purple Shamrock (where all items are renamed to sound Irish - hence my "Celtic Cob Salad" and Chris's "O'Hamburger," or some nonsense) and ventured off to the gardens.

On our walk, we saw a rainbow that was encircling the entire sun.  I've never seen anything quite like it.

Taste the rainbow.

We also saw some of Boston's finest:  The Macy's Fashion Police.  These girls were an atrocity - O and I had our fun mocking them relentlessly.  If this is your job, you should quit, because there is no need for you.  Seriously.  (Nice hats.)

Ridiculous bitches.

After a ride in the Swan Boat (where we saw potentially plastic turtles, beautiful spring flowers, and Chris almost knocked Shannon off into the murky water trying to take pictures), we walked along the garden paths and there we saw it.

Spring in Boston

An old lady in the act.

Signs were posted everywhere - "Keep Off The Grass."  People complied, for the most part, but we watched as one old lady walked around the partition, knife in hand, towards a huge tree.  She leaned up and started to carve her name into the trunk, her friend coming over to help her.

Old lady convict.

"I'm getting this picture for evidence.  We're caught her red-handed, defacing Boston property!"

And as the shutter snapped, I realized that this old woman was carving her name into a tree for perhaps the last time in her life.  Her withered fingers held tight to the knife, despite her shaking hands, and she chipped away at the bark. 

It was a minute where I felt young and foolish, making jokes while this woman was etching in one last moment of her life.  From her gentle hands to her baby blue socks, if I close my eyes I can hear her asking her friend,

"Help me reach just a bit higher.  I want to make sure people can see it."

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May 14, 2007

The Most Dangerous Game

Last Friday, I couldn't believe my eyes.Credit to http://www.lesmellor.com/

10:34 am:  358 mg/dl

10:34 and a half am:  259 mg/dl

10:35 am:  189 mg/dl

(Fragile readers, cover your ears.)

What the fuck?!! 

Between the highest and lowest results, I'm seeing a difference of 169 points.  To correct down from 358 mg/dl, I need 5.4u of Humalog.  To bring me down from 189 mg/dl, I need 1.7u.  That's 3.7u difference.  That's either remaining in the crispy 200 range or ending up a mushy puddle of hypoglycemia on my office floor.  How exactly am I supposed to keep my blood sugars in check when I can't accurately check my blood sugars? 

I have HAD IT with this meter.  I changed the batteries.  I recalibrated the machine.  I used control solution (which could have been a bit-outdated, but still came back within range).  I thought about chucking the meter against the concrete floors here at dLife and watching it smash into a million pieces.  I thought better of that last idea and instead wondered if running over it with my Jetta would be more satisfactory.

I was one pissed off diabetic.

Placed a call to my doctor. 

"Hi, this is Kerri Morrone.  I need a prescription for a new meter."  Realizing that I have a closet full of One Touch test strips at home and reluctant to dance for the insurance companies in hopes of them filling another prescription for 1800 different strips.  "Can she write me one for the One Touch Ultra 2?"

"No problem.  We'll call it into your pharmacy now."My fancy-schmancy new meter.

Upshot to my lunch break, when I hoof it over to CVS and pick up my new meter.  Cracking it open impatiently in the car, I whip out my old meter and do a test, aiming to compare the results of the new meter against my now-defunct meter.

Guess who only has two test strips for the rest of the afternoon and can't waste strips on a test comparison?

Arghhh ... diabetes frustrations aplenty to end out last week.  However, once I got home and compared the results of the two meters, they were almost exactly the same.  Was it just a fluke?  Just a chaotic chance event?  Something purely to piss me off and make me think I'm going out of my mind? 

Either way, the weekend was busy, but excellent.  A swan boat ride in Boston, an evening chatting with my college roommates, and the most bad-ass Mother's Day breakfast waitress in the history of mankind. 

More on that tomorrow.  :)

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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 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 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 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 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 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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March 30, 2007

The Old Grind.

I submitted a prescription to my medical supply home delivery place. 

As a result of my desire to lower my A1c, a sprinkling of hypoglycemic unawareness, and a dash of daily cardiovascular exercise, I test my blood sugar often.  “Often” meaning “sometimes up to 18 times per day.”  While I understand that this is excessive and potentially overzealous, I know that it is the best method this side of a constant glucose monitor (that actually works – zing!) of keeping myself in attempted control. 

Back at my old job, I was paying the difference for the strips that my insurance wouldn’t cover.  I spent a lot of money on these little suckers that my old insurance company deemed “unnecessary more than 4x per day,” despite letters from my doctor.  (This goes back to my whole “paying to treat complications vs. paying to prevent them” mentality, but what do I know?)  Regardless of cost, I knew that frequent testing worked best for me and I was sticking with it.

Cue dLife.  Then cue happily chucking the finger to my old job.

The medical insurance is far superior here than at my last job.  However, diabetes company or not, medical insurance is still medical insurance.  You can only do so much.

Back to the beginning:

I submitted a prescription to my medical supply home delivery service for 90 days worth of test strips at 18x per day.  I received a phone call from the supply company today.

Representative De Jour From Medical Company:  "Yes, I'm calling to speak with Kerri More-Own-Eee?"

Me:  "It's More-own ("Soon to be Sparling," I thought gleefully).  How can I help you?"

RDJFMC:  "Yes, I am calling about your prescription for One Touch UltraSmart test strips."  Pause.  "It says here 18 times per day."

Me:  "That's true.  That's the correct prescription."

RDJFMC:  "Okay."  Pause again.  "Do you really test your blood sugar that often?"

Me:  "I do.  I realize that seems a bit much, but it's what my doctor and I have decided works best for me." 

(Closer.  I'll have him on the same page by the end of this call.)

RDJFMC:  "I have a note here from the pharmacist to make sure it's necessary that you test this often."

Me:  Starting to get annoyed.  "I double-checked all the scripts before I sent them to you.  I am actively involved in my diabetes management and I can assure you that the script my doctor wrote is both necessary and accurate."

RDJFMC:  "Oh.  Okay, I just wanted to check before we sent this order out.  It will be shipped to you by Tuesday.  All "  He pauses again.  "That's a lot of testing.  Doesn't that get expensive?"

(Oh, much closer!  Maybe he gets it now!)

Me:  Laughing.  "Yes, it does.  Good thing I have you guys!"

RDJFMC:  "Good thing indeed, Ms. More-Own-Eee."

(Sigh.  So close.)

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March 29, 2007

Virgin Islands Pale Ale ... and Road Critters.

Right off the plane, we trot over to Budget to pick up the keys to our rental Jeep.

"Reservation for Chris Sparling, please."  Chris leans against the counter and we revel briefly in the fact that we're now in our tropical paradise.

"We don't have a car for you."  The customer service representative behind the counter snaps her gum.

"Excuse me?  I have a reservation.  I gave my credit card weeks ago to hold this Jeep."

"Reservation doesn't guarantee a vehicle, sir." 

Re-serve (verb): to retain or secure by express stipulation.

After much discussion, Chris and I ended up in a Taurus instead of a Jeep Wrangler.  Not the best arrangement for our hilly St. John adventure, but we were determined to keep it from ruining our vacation.  (By the way, an eight page letter is en route to Budget as we speak.) 

Road Cow

However, we weren't the only "bulls" on the road.  Driving along the windy streches of road in St. John, we were accosted by wild pigs charging from the woods, a handful of bleating goats, and a few big ol' Road Cows. 

The view from the Tap Room.

We stayed for part of our trip with one of Chris's friends, enjoying the beer he and his business partner created and drinking into the wee hours of the night at their bar - The Tap Room.  You have to try the Virgin Islands Pale Ale.  I'm not a beer drinker, but this stuff is so nice and mango-infused that it tastes much better than the regular "carbonated bread" tasting beer nonsense.  Note:  0.8u Humalog per one beer, for me. 

The Engagement Eco-Tent.  :)

For the other part of our trip (the engagement part!), we stayed at the Concordia Eco-Tents, which were tucked into the southern part of the island and provided the most spectacular views.  We  hiked out to Ram Head and saw both breathtaking shorelines ...

The View from Ram Head
... and very odd looking plants.
Odd plants indeed.

And yes, of course I was sure to test along the way.  I tested all across the nine miles of St. John - on the beach, on the hiking trails, in the eco-tent, and on the Red Hook ferry.  And I did my best to keep all test strips contained, though I fear that one may have leapt out as I traveled.  But damn it, I tried!  (Chris, my fiance - yay! - kept snapping diabetes-related pictures as we traveled.  "For the blog, baby."  Ever my content editor.)

Testing blood sugar

We had such a terrific time.  And now we have the next year to plan our wedding.  Do you think Ms. Sausage will be able to behave herself as she traipses down the aisle?  (Yes, I'm kidding.  Mostly.  Damnit, now I have to go get Larry's address so I can send him an invitation.  He's going to be thrilled!)

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March 28, 2007

Postcards.

This whole place looks like postcards. 

Trunk Bay

White sand beaches, (Which, Shannon was completely right.  They are a product of fish poop, or at least a large percentage of the sand is.  I was impressed and horrified, all in one fell swoop. A poop swoop.  Oh dear, I've already digressed.)  towering palm trees, and the clearest, most crystalline water I have ever seen.

St. John is a small island and very hilly (read: we drove up mountains at a 60 degree incline in a Ford Taurus ... more on that rental car later), so every clearing in the road provided a new, more spectacular view than the last. 

Gibneys

Out of the dozens of beaches on the island, we stopped at as many as possible.  Armed with our bookbags, a beach blanket, and bathing suits, Chris and I tanned at Hawksnest, snorkeled with trumpet fish in Trunk Bay, and climbed down a secret staircase to Gibney's beach.  My insulin pump joined us on these excursions, laying sand-free and safely in a little zipper bag by my side.  Funny thing is, we were so active and swimming around most of the day that I remained disconnected for 45 minutes stints at times.  I tested frequently, but blood sugars stayed stable for the most part.  (However, infusion sets did not.  All that salt water had my sites peeling back after barely three days.) 

Safe and sound little insulin pump.

At these postcard beaches, we snorkeled, after a fashion.  Being a little wary of sharks and other sea critters, Chris and I found ourselves with masks, snorkels, and about eight inches of water.  It was kind of silly, despite the fact that we were having a blast.  We saw little tropical fish scooting around near their coral homes, trumpet fish (that we called "baby barracudas" because it made us sound tougher), and these white, tropical fish that kept circling our heads.  Despite the fact that we're a little bit chicken, we eventually ventured out into the deep.  All was well until we heard two small children excitedly exclaim, "Hey Mom!  We just saw a hu-uuuge octopus!"  Huge?  Octopus?

It was at that point we swam like hell back to the shore.

But there was also our frequent visits to The Tap Room.  And then there was that freaking car.  Oh, and I can't forget the wild road pigs.  How about that Eco-Tent?  And the hike to Ram Head?  More to come.  :)

(And thank you so much for your congratulations messages!  We are so excited and are already in the planning phases of our wedding.  Bridezilla, here I come!)

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March 13, 2007

Feeling the Burn.

I’m in a slump, I can admit it.

Blood sugars have been dodgy, to say the least.  My machine average is up to 143 mg/dl and considering the lows that have been peppering the last 10 days or so, I’m running higher than usual on the average.  I’m experiencing some strange moments that are testing my patience.

Like this morning:  I tested at 123 mg/dl at 8:30 am, had a cup of coffee, bolused 2.2 units to cover my delicious Yoplait Light yogurt – should be all set, right?  I even waited before I ate!  Nevertheless, a taunting 291 mg/dl just winked at me from my meter.  How the hell did that happen?  I changed my site late last night, but I woke up at 103 mg/dl and didn’t have the pump off for more than 30 minutes while showering/getting ready.  How exactly did this happen?

Is it stress?  That wily little bugger.  I’m feeling very busy lately, with project deadlines spanning across my job and my freelance opportunities, but not so busy that I thought it would affect my blood sugars.  But then again, I did just receive a whopping medical insurance bill from my previous job (they are billing me now for 2005?) that sent me into a mental tailspin.  And I’m a little tense about the flight on Thursday.  It could be stress.

I’m in a mini diabetes-burnout moment.  I’m avoiding A1c tests (as I mentioned the other day and as is the topic of this month’s Generation D.)  Granted, I am testing.  I’m eating relatively healthily.  And I’m at the gym, even though my heart isn’t into it lately.  I’m very much looking forward to this vacation because my brain needs a little break from the churn-and-burn that’s been going on of late. 

Ah, St. John.

Ah, that helped.

I.  Can't.  Wait.

Ooh, so did that.

I'm hopeful that white sand beaches lower A1cs.

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March 09, 2007

Butterfly Needles.

I've been putting off this appointment for a few months. 

I hate needles.  Any needle I'm not controlling makes me feel faint.  (I've talked about this irony before.)  So the idea of offering up that sensitive little fleshy crease of my arm to the phlembotomist makes me pale with panic.  Also, blood sugars have been a little nutty lately, fluctuating wildly after Grammie passed away and taking several months to sort of reclaim their sanity, so I haven't been feeling like a well-controlled diabetic. 

In fact, I've been feeling a little crummy about the whole thing entirely.

It's hard to avoid paying attention to diabetes, considering where I work and what I do for a living.  It's a large part of my life and one that, even if I didn't want to pay attention to it, I don't have much of a choice.  Ignoring it for a morning is one thing, but ignoring it for more than a few hours is non-negotiable. Eventually, it forces you to listen, one way or the other. 

So I had the paperwork for my A1c blood work sitting in my desk drawer for a few weeks.  I called and made an appointment, but then rescheduled it due to the weather, my weekend plans, my mood, the cat's mood ... anything that seemed like it could stand for a second as a reason to reschedule, I rescheduled.  I ignored.

An A1c, to me, is my diabetes report card.  Even though I know I should haveButterfly needles don't hurt, right? this test every three months or so, I haven't had one since last June.  I haven't wanted to find this number out because I'm afraid it will be higher than I'd like.  But it's always higher than I'd like.  I'm diabetic.  I just needed to suck it up and find out what that blasted number is and move on.

I made an appointment for this morning, 7:30 am.  No excuses.  The alarm went off this morning and I thought about snoozing through, but I woke up.  I got dressed.  And I drove there. 

"I'm here for an A1c and microalbumin test.  I'm Kerri."  I stuck out my hand, insurance card at the ready.  Paperwork filled out.  Consent form signed.

In the chair, I pulled up the sleeve of my sweater and closed my eyes.

"I can't watch.  It makes me feel weak.  So I'm going to look over here, okay?"

The lab technician started laughing.  "Lady, you said you had diabetes?"

"Yes, since I was a kid, but I'm scared of needles.  I know, I know."

The elastic band snapped tight arouind my arm.  "Okay, quick pinch ..."  I felt the hot spike of a needle against my inner arm and my stomach leapt in response.

"So tell me about yourself," I said to the corner of the wall, hoping my words would bounce back to the man who was holding my arm.

"My mom has diabetes.  Type 2.  She's on insulin twice a day.  You take insulin?"

"I do.  I have an insulin pump, though."  I gestured flailing towards the pocket of my jeans, where my pump was clipped. 

"No kidding!  That's cool.  I thought it was a beeper.  I'm gonna have to tell my mom about that.  Damn, no more shots?  That's cool."  The pinch in my arm shifted a bit.  "We're almost done.  I used a butterfly needle instead of the big needle, so it would hurt less."  His smile bounced off the corner of the wall and into my ears. 

"Thanks.  'Butterfly' makes it sound so cute and nice, even though it's still a needle."

"Yeah, but it's important that you have your A1c checked, diabetes and all.  You need to take good care of yourself."  He removed the elastic from my arm and slipped the needle out of my skin.  A bandaid was applied to my "wound."

"All set.  You did a good job.  And you know what?  That didn't hurt a bit, right?"  He asked me, taking off his gloves and folding his arms.

"Not a bit.  Thanks."

Back in the car.  Driving to work early, watching the morning commuters traveling beneath me as I crossed the overpass of 95 southbound, into New York.  The sun warmed the seats of my VW and caused the windows of the houses I passed to wink at me. 

My A1c result may not be what I'm hoping for.  It won't be "perfect."  It won't be ideal.  But knowing it will give me the chance to change it. 

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February 27, 2007

Grumble Grumble.

Two am.

The alarm goes off.  My response:  Grumble, grumble.Grumble.

My arm snakes out from underneath the warm down comforter.  Siah sneezes beside me, where she has taken up residence on Chris’s pillow.  I grab my kit.  Unzip it.  Fumble with the strip, trying to use the sliver of moonlight as my guide.  Prick finger.  Stick finger in my mouth.  Wait for result.  170 mg/dl.  Okay. 

Text Chris – “2:30 am – 170 mg/dl.”

With Chris away for the next week, he’s asked me to promise to do 2 am glucose testings while he’s gone, so I'll stay safe.

“I’ll be tired, though!”  The whine in my voice is almost unavoidable.  Two am?  Every night?  Oh man…

“I know, but please just do it anyway?  You can go right back to sleep afterwards.”

Grumble grumble.  But he's right.

Last night was the first in this string of midnight vampirism.  I’m not anticipating any problems while he's gone, but I am sleeping with the phone and a bottle of juice by the bed.  My mom expects a phone call by 8:30 every morning so she knows I’m alive and well at work.  I also had a brief discussion with Abby (yes, the cat) about waking me up if I seem sweaty.  She confirmed the arrangement by licking my knuckle. 

And on a completely unrelated note, I did a podcast interview for The Official Diabetes Blog.  Bit of a chat about diabetes, blogging, and diabetes education.  (I’m beginning to think that I may, in fact, speak way too quickly for human consumption.)  I hope you enjoy it!

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February 22, 2007

Siah Fits In.

What is die-a-beeeet-es?  What are all these little toys she plays with?  Test strips are fun to chew on.  What is that beeper thing?  I see the delicious wires poking from the top of her sweatpants before bed.  And I love those fun little plastic caps.  I steal them off the dresser and hide them underneath her desk.  Sometimes she mutters, "I can't find a damn pump cap anywhere!" but I know where they all are.

I wanted to know what it was like to have this die-a-beeeet-es.  I want to fit in.  So when she jumped in the shower after she came back from the gym, I tried out her stuff.

Make sure the site is clean!

I made sure my paw was clean before I tested. 

Stuff on my cat, anyone?

I pushed some buttons on this beeper thing like she does before she eats, but then became distracted by the tasty tubing.

Snacktime.

Okay, use the pricker thing.  Push buttons on the beeper thing.  Eat snacks.  Got it.

tuckered out

This die-a-beeeet-es is a lot of work!  I need a nap.

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February 21, 2007

Unlocking the Memory.

Strange, this "blogging."  Unlocking this memory.

It’s one of those things that I never expected would interest me, and then once I started, I never expected anyone to read it.  I write this stuff to get it out of my system and to deal with the emotional aspects of being diabetic.  And I write it so that the parents of diabetic kids, and the diabetic kids themselves, will maybe read it and see that they’re not alone. 

But mostly, I write it to write it. And I never expected anyone to read it.

Which is why writing about a moment that made me feel so vulnerable didn’t really give me pause, because who would see it, really? 

Written back when I first started the blog, I told the story about a time when I was in 5th grade and a classmate made me feel like … well, “Crumbs Morrone.”  She and another classmate had left a note in my locker about how they hated me because I was diabetic.  It was a dark moment in my diabetes memory and one that I haven’t forgotten about, even now, so many years later.  But I did keep it locked up and close.

It’s been almost two years since I started blogging.  I had sort of forgotten about that post.

Until I received an email from that classmate.

“I don’t know why I’m writing you.  … I guess the only thing I can say is I’m sorry.  I wanted to let you know that it is one of the things that I remember and regret daily.” 

I haven’t talked to this classmate in ten years.  I never thought she would ever read my blog.  The shock of hearing from her was tremendous.

“I work at a high school now and one of my students is diabetic.  I’ve told her the story about what I did to you one day when we were talking one-on-one.  I explained how mean I was and how ignorant.  And I told her about your blog.”

I can’t help it – I start to cry at this point. 

“I wanted you to know what just as you remember, so do I.  And it still stings my memory as well.”

Thank you, Red Headed Girl, for letting me unlock this memory and set us both free.

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February 16, 2007

Overtreating.

We had the bedroom door mostly shut, to keep the heat in and in (futile) attempt to keep the cats out.   It’s icy cold out there and the big picture window in the bedroom doesn’t do much for keeping things toasty warm, so we have a down comforter, a fleece, and a throw on the bed.Cold.

I fell asleep around midnight, tucked underneath the mountain of blankets and pressed against my boyfriend.  Warm and cozy, with a little gray Siah nestled between us. 

5:32 am.

Every blanket tossed off me.  Shirt tangled around my damp collarbone.  Forehead slick with sweat.  Abby is prowling around at the base of the bed, emitting frantic little meows.  The room is frighteningly silent and I can hear my heart beating in my ears.  It is so hot in here I can’t stand it.  I am so tired.  I ask Chris for help but the words are caught in my teeth and, instead, I reach over for my meter case, unzip it, and find out what number was keeping me from sleeping.

43 mg/dl.

The same version of autopilot for 20 years.  Out to the fridge.  Upcap the grape juice.  Eight sips.  Wipe my mouth with my sleeve, knowing I’ll be angry that my white shirt sleeve is stained violet with juice but I didn’t mind now and I just wanted to go back to bed.

Without thinking, grabbed a fistful of cereal from the box on the top of the fridge.  The little O’s look like prehistoric tires, all jagged and almost square-ish.  Chomp those down, imagining them turning shades of purple in my mouth from the grape juice stains.

Stumble back to bed.  Abby walks in front of me, guiding the way.

Back under the covers.  Press my cold nose against Chris’s shoulder.  He stirs and goes into the autopilot he's been on for the past two years. 

“Are you okay?” 

“I’m low.  Will you hold me?”

“Did you drink juice?”

“Yes.”

He puts his arm around me.  My brain is sloshing around in my head but the letters have been picked clean from my teeth and I’m regaining the ability to make words.

Reassured that the taste of juice in my mouth means my blood sugar will come up eventually, I close my eyes and sleep holds me as close as Chris.

This morning, the sweaters have replaced the letters.  Blood sugar is 306 mg/dl, thank you very much.  Annoyed that it was probably the arbitrary fistful of cereal that lurched me over the edge, I’m chasing insulin with coffee to keep from letting the night’s events affect my work day.

Damn this urge to over-treat.  You would think, after all these years, I would be able to control that by now.

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February 15, 2007

The Sharon Fruit. And Spam.

I feel generally creepy about eating foods named for people.  Granny Smith apples (Julia, please tell me you’d seen the Eddie Izzard bit about Mrs. Smith not making it big in the apple business until she encouraged her daughter to have a baby…), The Roker, or Eggs Benedict.   But I may have found an exception to the rule.

The Sharon fruit.

This delicious Sharon fruit is a kind of persimmon and is bright orange with a thick waxy skin and pulpy interior.  … hmmm, I just read what I wrote for a description and it doesn’t exactly sound delicious.  But it is.  Chris read about it in one of his fitness magazines and he bought some at the grocery store.  We both ate one and decided these were tasty, unique, and the perfect thing to devour before a gym workout as they seem to help keep my sugars steady throughouTasty bits, these.t an intense cardio workout. 

And damnit, these little fruits are so tasty!  They’re like fancy, fruity tomatoes.  (Again, maybe that doesn’t sound completely delicious, but describing their taste is a bit tricky.)

These are now my new favorite snacky bit.  I know there is dissention within the diabetes community about whether or not fruit is the best snacking option, but it works for me.  And I refuse to inundate myself with low-carb snack bars and other processed bits when an organic Sharon fruit is working just fine.  

RANDOM EDITOR’S NOTE:  Unbelievable amount of spam in the comments these days.  So far, I’ve been offered 15 different ways to increase penis size, hints on how to make her love me like no other man, and advice on how to start an online casino.  These spammers are getting trickier and trickier.  They leave comments ranging from “Nice site!  I love it!” to “Not much going on these days.  I’m really bored and just hanging around the house,” to “Pretty colors!  And you, as the blog owner, are terrific!”  Mind you, these comments include hyperlinks to what I’m guessing are the most horrific pornographic sites imaginable and other disturbing pages. 

So I’ve changed the comments function on SUM to require an email address.  Almost everyone does, at this point, but now I’m requiring it to keep the comments section free of offensive, spammy chaos.  If you are a lurker and prefer to remain lurkish, just dummy up an email and pop it in there.  No harm, no foul.  Sorry about the changes!

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February 05, 2007

Where the hell is my meter?

I definitely tested at the gym.  I did my 33 minutes and checked before I went into the weight room – 107 mg/dl.  Had a few quick swigs of juice, put my meter back in the locker, and went upstairs to do my resistance workout.

The rest of the afternoon was a bit of a whirlwind, but it involved a shower, sandwiches, folding the rest of the laundry before the cats slept on it and made it all furry, and driving up to a Where are you?friend’s house for a Superbowl party. 

Halfway there, Chris and I were yapping away to one another and I was absently riffling through my purse for the black zipper case where my meter lives.  Hmmm … no where to be found.  Cell phone, lip gloss, juice, glucose tabs, that dog-eared yellow notebook I always have on me, and what may have once been a granola bar, but no meter. 

Aw shit.  I must have left it at home.  Now I have the next five hours to muddle through without testing. 

No issues at the Superbowl party (aside from the fact that I don’t really care about football and almost cried at the GM commercial with the suicidal machine), but when we came home, no meter.

“Did you check all the places?”  Chris asked.

“Yeah.  I looked on the bedside table.  On the bureau.  On the bookcase.  In the cupboard where the granola bars are.  In the fridge.  I checked the linen closet, too, and the bathroom.”

“I’m going to check outside in the car again.”  But even after Chris traipsed around in the freezing cold in pursuit of my meter, it was still missing. 

Armed with a back-up AccuChek meter, it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t check my blood sugar but more the fact that I felt like an irresponsible crumb.  What the hell did I do with my meter?  That thing is supposed to be within reach at all times, and I gone more than five hours without testing.  All of a sudden I cared about the results saved on my meter (as if I were printing them out nightly and making charts to analyze my course, like a glucose-obsessed sea captain).  And I was not happy about having no lancing device and being forced to manually prick my finger, which included me making horrible anticipatory faces, even though it didn’t hurt that much. 

Overall, feeling like a crumb.  I was Crumbs Morrone.

This morning’s mission:  Call the gym and see if my little meter is there.  If it is, rejoice.  If it isn’t, call my doctor for a quick prescription for another OneTouch.

But the best commercial of last night was definitely the GM one.  Hands down. 

UPDATED 11:30 am:  Yay!  The Russian man who runs my gym just called and told me that my meter was found in the ladies' locker room and is safe and sound.  I will recover it tonight, with glee.  Argh ... the Glucose Sea Captain in me is now calmed.  Full speed ahead!

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February 02, 2007

Exposed.

I work for a diabetes media company.  People here are significantly more educated than your average co-worker about the intricacies of diabetes.  They talk about it all day long here at dLife.  It’s the focus of our business.  The CEO is diabetic, for crying out loud.

And it’s known that I’m diabetic, as well.  My co-workers know about my blog.  They see my meter case on my desk all day long.  They’ve seen my pump clipped to my pocket, on occasion.  It’s not like I hide anything.  It’s not like I have to.  It's not like I ever would.

My boss popped her head into my office.

“We’re meeting over in [Marketing Woman]’s office.”

I had my hand to my collarbone and, with the other hand, held the juice to my mouth as I drained the can like someone dared me to.  I knew I was white as the papers on my desk and my forehead felt damp and clammy. 

50 mg/dl. 

“You okay?”

“Yeah.  Just low.  I’ll be fine in a few minutes.”

These words – I’m low – they mean something in this office.

“Okay.  Do you need anything?”

Shook my head.  Kept drinking.

“Take your time.”

She left and I finished the juice.  And for some reason, sitting there alone, these tears filled my eyes and I had to furiously blink them back. 

I waited a few minutes.  Tested at 87 mg/dl – high enough to join the meeting without issue. 

Why did I feel so odd?  Maybe because I was low.  Maybe I was embarrassed.  Maybe I just want to write about it - I don’t really want to live with it.  That’s a feeling I try to keep squashed down for the most part, but at that moment, I felt weak.  I don’t make any claims to be in control of this thing, but it’s nice to pretend sometimes. Usually I can make a joke about it, or find the bits that are worth learning from. 

But this time, I felt vulnerable.

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January 29, 2007

A Few Drinks.

Let's Get it On!The microphone drops down and Mills Lane plucks it out of the sky.

“In this corner, bringing a bevy of boluses and carbonated carbohydrate content, wearing Gold Shorts and a lime wedge, weighing in at about 12 oz is the mysterious new challenger, La Corona!” 

He raises his fists in the air and burps.

“And in this corner, The Titan of Tight Control, the A1c Ally, weighing in at about 9 oz and made up of cheap vodka, cranberry juice, and a splash of Tropicana orange juice – the reigning champion, The Mighty Madras!”

Madras also pumps his fists, holding tight to a thin, red straw and a test strip.

“Gentlemen, this is the title match.  Nothing below 50 mg/dl and nothing, nothing above 250 mg/dl – do you hear me?  I want a good, clean fight.  Now let’s get it on!”

Bell rings.

“And the Corona lurches forward right away, fists flailing! Look at those carbs, folks!  The Mighty Madras is backing off a bit – I can hear those ice cubes clanking against the side of him!  Corona reels back, swings out and oooooh! A solid hit to the jaw of the Madras!  He’s falling back!  He’s staggering!  Could he be out already?  Is this newcomer going to knock the ol’ Tried and True out of the ring? 

The Madras is leaning against the ropes … he looks exhausted!  Only a few minutes into this fight and the Cold Corona definitely has the upper hand!  This could be it! 

… But wait, what’s this I see?  Yes, the Mighty Madras is on his feet!  He’s taken out a blood glucose meter from his pocket.  He’s looking to test Kerri – judges?  Are we allowing this?  Yes, the judges are allowing a blood test.  And Kerri, after having two of the icy cold Coronas, is up to 253 md/gl!  Her bolus was grossly under estimated!  They’re flashing the results across the marquee – indeed, Kerri is high and the Corona can’t stop staring at the number! 

And – ooooh! – the Mighty Madras has snuck in a jab while the Corona isn’t paying attention!  He’s now pummeling the Corona!  There’s lime juice everywhere, my friends … this is truly a gruesome beating!”

Corona is leaning against the ropes, exhausted from the beating.  The Madras reels back his fist, angry that Kerri didn’t measure correctly for her drinks and is now high as a kite.  He knows he would have been easier to count.  He knows he could have let Kerri enjoy steadier blood sugars and a night out.  Why did she pick Corona?  Was it the price?  Was it the fact that “out having a beer” is what she preferred over a more pretentious mixed drink?  Madras didn’t know.  He didn’t care.  All he knew is that the Corona was horning in on his woman and he wasn’t standing for it.

“And the Madras has brought out a bottle of insulin!!  And OH MY GOD he’s cracked it over the Corona’s head!  Corona is out!  It’s a knock-out, dear viewers!  This fight is over!  Over!”

Corona falls flat against the mat, out cold.  The ring smells of sweat and insulin.  Mills Lane grabs the championship belt and thrusts it into Madras’s hand, declaring him “Winnah!”  Madras, bleeding profusely from the eye and crying, raises the belt to the air and yells, “Kerri!  Kerri!”  Kerri comes running from the stands, meter in hand, and stands in front of him as she tests.  “153 mg/dl.  I’m coming down.  I’ll be more careful next time I drink high-carb beers, O Mighty Madras.  I promise!”

They embrace.  The “Rocky” theme swells in the background.  Kerri decides that the next time she wants to have a beer, she needs to measure more carefully and bolus with more precision.  She also discovers that she has run this storyline into the ground.

Mills Lane wipes the tears from his eyes.  “I love a good fight.”

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January 24, 2007

Kitty.

They told me I had to go into the hospital for a few weeks.  I wasn’t exactly sure what “diabetes” meant, but I knew it must involve vampires, because people were drawing my blood every few hours.

“You can pick any friend you’d like to bring with you to the hospital.  Any one you want.” 

My father held my hand as we walked into Ray Willis’ Toy Store and I looked at the rows and rows of cuddly and soft stuffed animals.  My seven year old shoes clicked against the tiled floor as I examined the fare.

The soft ears of a gray elephant looked so nice.  I could picture myself hiding behind them if I was scared.  I saw an amber-eyed puppy dog with a pokey little nose.  He looked like he could be my friend.

Then I saw it.My beloved Kitty.

Kitty.

A huggable, marmalade-colored stuffed animal cat with bright eyes and a long, fluffy tail.  He was sandwiched between a giraffe with the tongue sticking out and a stuffed octopus (can’t figure out why anyone would make one of those). 

I reached out with my little hands and grabbed him from the shelf.

“This one?  Is this one okay?”

My father gave me the thumbs up.  “That one looks good to me.”

Mom and Dad paid for Kitty and we started our drive up to the hospital for my overnight stay.  Originally named “Tigger” but eventually falling victim to a less imaginative moniker of “Kitty,” I kept this stuffed animal at my side for every blood test and doctor visit.  He was a loyal friend and received the occasional shot, too, when I wasn’t feeling brave enough to be the only one being injected.

I used to wag his tail and make him wiggle about, trying to convince people in the hospital elevators that he was real.

A boy on the bus in second grade tried to pull Kitty’s arm off and gave him a good rip.  I cried to my mother, who was about to sew up the wound with orange thread, that she needed to use black thread so it would look like a stitch and I would know he was better.  Ever-obliging, my mother stitched Kitty up and I admired his war wound with fascination. 

Twenty years later and no longer the newly diagnosed little girl at the toy store, I've had this Kitty with me through it all.  He used to look vibrant and fluffy, but now his fur is matted and mangy.  He lived on my bed in college.  He moved to my first apartment with me after college.  Even when I felt “too grown up” to have a stuffed animal on display in my house, Kitty has managed to weasel his way into a bookcase or a closet shelf.  Currently, he lives on top of my winter sweaters in my closet, looking at me with his matted fur and sad eyes from the mountain of wool and cotton.

He made me feel comforted.  Admittedly, he still does.

He’s a testament to how long it’s been.  And how far I’ve come. 

(But Siah doesn’t like him too much.)  

Siah is not a fan.
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January 19, 2007

Penguin Girl and the Exploding Pixies.

Hand Rot HelperAfter reading everyone’s comments and assessing the situation (taking into account that it was also snowing for the first time this winter and I was going to be faced with the Bread and Milk Soup people no matter where I went), I trotted off to CVS after my workout last night and picked up Aveeno Intense Relief hand cream.  It had the words “relief” right there in the title.  And I had a coupon.  (And they were out of the Brad Pitt Jergens … damnit!)

I finished my work for the evening and settled into bed at an unreasonably late hour.  Noting the recommendations of my brilliant readers, I slathered on the hand cream and covered my aching hands with clean, white gym socks. 

Ah.  This felt nice.

Only I looked like I had penguin flippers for hands. 

Good thing I had already tested before bed, or that would have been an ordeal.  I tried to turn off the lamp, only to deftly knock it to the floor.  Abby came up to be petted and my hands were ineffective, trapped in my sock mittons. 

I laid back. 

“I’m a penguin.” 

By the time I woke up in the morning, I was flipper-less.  The socks had disappeared from my hands and Siah was wrapped up beside one of them.  I still haven’t found the other one.  My hands, however, felt much better and were looking less angry. 

So success is en route, on that front.

However, as soon as I, Awkward Penguin Girl, arrived at work, I slipped in the parking lot and ended up on my arse in the newly fallen snow.  I poured coffee down my sleeve and proceeded to get red ink all over my wrist while I was working.  And just now, I picked up a glittery Christmas ornament to move it out of my way and it EXPLODED all over the place.  The sound of shattering holiday spirits was joined by about 5 lbs of orange glitter. 

Co-Worker:  “What was that?”

“All I did was pick it up!  I’m like the Hulk today.” 

It looks like a pixie flew in and blew up on my desk. 

So now I’m picking glitter out of my keyboard.  And my hair.  It’s all over my black shirt.  And my shoes are more ruby slipper than sneaker at the moment. 

Clumsy, clumsy girl. 

But my hands feel better. 

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January 18, 2007

Rotten Hands.

This happens to me every winter:  I get to work, take off my gloves, log on to my computer, and then realize that a thin line of blood is smeared on my knuckle.  Softens hands, you know.Cracked and mangled, these little hands are.

My hands become so dry and uncomfortable during the bitter cold seasons.  Is it diabetes-related?  Or is it because I have sensitive skin and I wash my hands every 35 minutes?  Or is it just one of those Things?

My desk at work looks like CVS – I have more little bottles of hand lotion stashed in the drawers than I know what to do with.  Sometimes, I slather it liberally and put my gloves back on, though that makes all attempts at normal typing look like this:  lo’]po9ih32 klqj 49u dfa’’. 

I stay very hydrated (hence, the washing my hands every 35 minutes) and my blood sugars aren’t running high at the moment, so what gives?

I’ve tried everything from Johnson’s softlotion to a litany of Bath and Body Works stuff.  I smell gorgeous at all times, thanks to my rotten hands.  But they still ache.  And they look horrendous, like I’m the crypt keeper.  It doesn’t help that I’m back to biting my nails and chewing my cuticles, not to mention the hard pads of scar tissue on my fingertips from testing all day long.  I’m convinced that if I look closely enough, I’ll see a miniature tumbleweed roll across the desert that my knuckles have become.

My little hands are horrific at the moment.

I’m waiting for that moment when I stop my manicurist on the street and say, “Look Madge, I soaked them!”  Maybe Palmolive is the answer.  That’s one I haven’t tried yet.

Anyone have a remedy for this?  My hands thank you in advance. 

EDIT:  This Jergens stuff looks mighty fine to me.  Eh, John?

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January 11, 2007

Take that, Squirrel!

Things were starting to look a little fuzzy.  I was having some trouble, seeing blurry bits, and a pounding in my brain that was matched only by the sounds of people’s heels on the industrial flooring here at dLife. 

In particular, it was my right eye that was bothering me.

The panic was on a slow boil, starting with those little questions that would creep in between meetings and editing.

“Kerri, did you test?  Maybe you should test and make sure you’re not popping out of range.”

I comply with the voices in my head.  Quick finger prick reveals a spot on sugar of 104 mg/dl.  (Which was always the sugar they splashed out on meter commercials.  B.B. King was always 104 mg/dl.  Recently, I’ve seen commercial results of 99 mg/dl.  Damnit!  They do so love to challenge us.)

“Kerri, maybe you’re stressed out.  Are you stressed out?”

I assess the situation:  Nothing too stressful kicking around.  Feeling calm, for once.

Except for the nagging suspicion that something else is going on with my eye. 

After talking with Chris about it, (Kerri:  There’s something in my eye.  Chris:  Go have it checked.  Kerri:  Seriously, there’s something going on.  I’m concerned.  Chris:  Go have it checked?  Kerri:  I should have it checked.) I made an appointment with my retinologist.

Dr. Retina popped in the drops and I sat in the waiting room with Chris while my eyes dilated.

“I can’t see a thing,” I said, almost comforted by the fact that it was absolutely normal under these circumstances to be half-blind.

He took my hand.

Dr. Retina came out and summoned me.  “Kerri?  Right this way.”  I settled into the big beige chair in the last room on the right. 

“So, let’s see … you’re three months early for your follow up.  Something going on?”

“Actually, yeah.  I’m seeing some spots and blurry bits sometimes.  It doesn’t appear to be only when I’m high or something like that.  And my blood pressure is fine – I just had it checked.  But I’m concerned that the hemorrhage you found in September has progressed.”

“You, nervous?”  He chucked me a grin as he slipped on his Hannibal Lector-style miner’s cap to examine my eyes.  “You seem cool as a cucumber.”

“You have to be kidding me,” I leaned back in the reclined chair.  “I’m a nervous wreck about everything.”

He gave me a stern look.  “I know.  I was being sarcastic.  You need to relax a bit.”

He blinded me with those intense white light bars, then the miner’s cap.  He blinded me with the machine you lean into and settle your chin and forehead against the bar.  Every few minutes, we had to take a break because my eyes were tearing up due to the intensity of the light.  The technology of an eye exam, up close and personal.  All things considered, he blinded me with science.  (You had to see that one coming, right?)

He flipped up his mask. 

“I can’t even mark that box.”

“What?”  I couldn’t see a damn thing.  I rubbed my eyes with the back of my wrist in efforts to acclimate to the normal lighting.

“The box that indicates retina damage.  What you have going on in there is so small, I can barely see it.  That’s why this exam was so long, because it took me a while to actually find the hemorrhage this time.  There’s no bleeding into your eye.  I can barely tell you have diabetes, never mind two decades of it.”

I grinned. 

“We’ll slate you for follow up in May.  We’ll keep close watch on that little … what did you call it?”

“The squirrel.  An eye squirrel.”Damn him!

He washed his hands at the white sink in the corner of the room. 

“The squirrel.  I’m thinking he’s not the cause of your eye strain at work.  Do you spend a lot of time on the computer?”

My inner-blogger cringed.

“Yes.”

“And do you take a lot of breaks?”

“Not really.”

“Okay.  I’m recommending that you get a diffuser for your computer screen.  And maybe you want to go over to my buddy at LensCrafters and look into diffuser glasses to wear while you’re doing computer work to reduce eye strain.  And relax, would you?”  He patted me on the arm. 

I stumbled as gracefully as I could back out to the waiting room.

“How did it go?”  Chris stood up as I walked over.

“Good.  Everything is good.  No change.  He couldn’t even check the box.”

Take that, Squirrel.

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January 10, 2007

The New Doctor.

Dr. CTIt took me a while to find a primary care physician out here.  (Mostly because I had previously never left RI and was naively convinced that doctors didn’t practice outside of the borders of my fine, tiny former state.  Oh, and laziness.)

I made a few phone calls to area physicians.

Ring.  “Hello, you’ve reached the offices of [doctor].  Our offices are closed.  Our business hours are from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, closed on Wednesdays.” 

Open six hours a day?  Only four days a week?  No way.  Picked another one.

Ring.   “Yeah?  What?”

I hung up. 

Ring..  “Hello, Dr. Pompous’s office.”

“Yes, I’d like to see if Dr. Pompous is taking new patients.”

Barely concealed laugh.  “You’ll need a referral.  Dr. Pompous doesn’t bother with patients without referrals.”

I made a face.  Then hung up promptly.  Stupid fools.  No way to treat a patient, potential or otherwise.  What was with these people? 

I closed my eyes, ran my finger down the list.

Ring.  “Hello?  You’ve reached Dr. CT’s office.  How can I help you?”

“Is the doctor taking new patients?”

“Yes.  Would you like to come in to meet her?”

Meet her?

“Yes.  Can I make an appointment for a physical, too?  Or do I have to meet her first?”

I heard a muffled sound, as though the receptionist was leaning in and covering the phone a bit.

“Sure.  I have to be honest with you – I’ve never had a patient not want Dr. CT.”

Sold.  I made the appointment and visited with my new doctor last week. 

Dr. CT sat me in her big, comfy office and talked about my health.  She put her cell phone in her drawer and told the receptionists to hold her calls.   

We talked about the big issues:  diabetes, fitness, blood pressure, pregnancy (no, I’m not), and my overall health goals.  She reviewed my last A1c and told me she wanted to have me under 7%.  I laughed and told her I would also like to be under 7%.  We talked about steps towards that goal.  I watched as she made notes that read, “Type 1 – 20 years.  Good health.  Big sense of humor.  Lives with boyfriend.”  We talked about stress.  About anxiety.  And we touched base briefly about the new Rocky movie. 

I felt like she listened.  Really listened.

They also hooked me up to an EKG machine, which I had never experienced before.  “You’ve been diabetic for 20 years and, even though you are in very good physical condition, we want to make sure there aren’t any unseen issues.” 

Appreciating her thorough perspective, I nodded.  “So what do I have to do?”

I have never felt more like Frankenstein’s monster in my life.  Exposed almost entirely, my doctor and one of her assistants covered me in those sticky tabs and connected the wires.  My mind started to race.

“I’m wearing a pump.  Will it short out?”

“There’s underwire in my bra.  Will I be electrocuted?”

“I feel like Frankenstein’s monster.”

She laughed at the last one, and said, “Well, it’s all over now.  See?  It was that painless.  Everything looks perfect.  And now you can stop feeling like Frankenstein’s monster.”

“Can I rip off the tabs and roar?”

She laughed again.  “Sure.”

She hummed haunted theme music as she switched off the EKG machine.  I sat up, slowly, and ripped the tabs from my body, letting loose with a quiet, but fierce monster roar.

“I can assure you – that has never happened in my office before."  She paused.  "But I wish it had."

I’m pretty sure this doctor is a keeper.

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January 04, 2007

On the Wrong Foot.

I’m not pleased with the way the first work day of the new year started out.

5:00 am.  Abby is pawing furiously at the top of my head, milling around and licking my shoulder.  Siah is asleep on my ankles.  Chris is fast asleep just a few inches away from me.

The pillow is damp.  The bedsheets are cold.  My shirt is stuck to me and wrapped around me like a maypole ribbon.  I feel a bead of sweat run down my forehead and trickle down my neck. 

There is a bottle of juice on the bedside table.  All I have to do is reach my hand out.

My brain is fully functioning.  Internal Motivational Speaker was on the case. 

“Kerri, sit up.  Remove the cat from your head and drink the juice.  You’re low and you know it.  This always happens when you do a set change before bed.  I know the site pulled and you had to, but you should have expected this.  Why didn’t you set an alarm at 3 am?  Tell Chris you need help.  Wake up, Kerri.”

I would have nodded in agreement.  I needed to ask Chris to help me.  I wanted to reach my hand out and shake his shoulder.  But I couldn’t move.  I was trapped at the bottomI'm at the bottom of this one. of this well, so low I couldn’t make my body respond to my mind’s requests to move.

Drifted back to sleep.  Stirred again to see that it was 5:23 am.

“Get up!”  Motivational Speaker screamed in my ear.  My hand twitched.  Someone dropped the bucket down into my well and I clutched on to it.

Unzipped the case.  Why do I feel the need to test, even when I am completely certain I’m low?

34 mg/dl. 

Uncapped.  Desperately drained the bottle – no counting sips.    The bright white sheets I had put on only hours before going to bed were now splattered with juice.  Hair, damp and tangled against my head.  I sat propped up on my elbows until the juice started to infiltrate my system and I started to come around.

“I’m low.”  I said it to no one in particular.  Just to use my voice.  Abby meowed in agreement.

Then I felt that fear, prickly and subtle, sneaking up on me.  Why was I awake but couldn’t move?  Why was I able to think those thoughts but my body wouldn’t respond?  Is this what it feels like to slip into a coma?  Is this what it’s like to be paralyzed?  Where is that line between “just low” and “too low?”  And what keeps us from slipping over that line? 

It sounds so dramatic.  I re-read this and I think, “Okay, Kerri.  You were low.  We get it.”  But it wasn’t the low that made me nervous.  It was my lack of response.  I’ve been 34 mg/dl before.  I’ve been 52 and 78 and 27 and 101 and 309 mg/dl.  I’ve seen every number from my age to 535 mg/dl.  I’m not proud of that ridiculous range, but it’s the truth.  Drink the juice, move on.  But I’ve never felt trapped in my own body before.  I’ve never been “of sound mind” but unable to make my own hands move.  It completely freaked me out. 

When Chris and I talked about this later that night, I was a little bit upset. 

“It wasn’t that I was low.  I know that it’s temporary and they pass and it’s okay.  It was that I knew I needed to get up.  I knew I needed to grab that juice.  But my body wouldn’t respond.  It was like I was stuck at the bottom of a well and my voice didn’t carry to the top.”
  
He put his hand on my shoulder.

“But you’re okay.  You’re okay.”

Yes, I’m okay.  But it was a disturbing way to start the week, hoping someone would drop down a bucket.

I'm giving Internal Motivational Speaker a raise.

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December 20, 2006

Free Foods

Before the steam.Growing up on NPH and Regular, there was a lot of talk about snacks.  And there was a lot of talk about “free foods.” 

Free foods, according to my doctor at Joslin and my mother, were snacks like pickles, cucumbers, Jell-O, and sugar-free popsicles.

“Eat all you want!  Go on,” my mother would urge.  In those pre-pump, peaking insulin days, it was all about chasing that meal plan and adhering to the guidelines.  Two starches, one protein, a fat, a milk, and a fruit.  Rinse and repeat.

Except for the “free foods.”  I was encouraged to go hog-wild on those suckers.   But my palette soon became tired of pickles and popsicles.

“Why can’t a Snickers bar be a free food?”  Grumble, grumble.

The one free food that always brought me glee was Jell-O.  My mom used to make “jigglers,” which included a package of Jell-O and two packages of Knox unflavored gelatin.  They were prepared in the big lasagna pan and she would leave them in the fridge for me to snack on.  Sometimes she would add a small bit of whipping cream to the mixture and it would settle on the top, creating a very thin layer of fantastic Jell-O flavored custard on top of the aforementioned Jiggler. 

This was a free food I dug.

And I still dig.

A few nights ago, I made some Jell-O.  The tea kettle whistled and I poured the powdery mixture into my mixing bowl, adding the boiling water while I stirred.  (For the record, nothing stains a countertop quite like red-flavored Jell-O mix.  And yes, the flavor is always “red.”  There are plenty of claims on those boxes but strawberry, raspberry, mixed fruit - they all taste … red.)

Eighteen years later (or so it seemed), the Jell-O solidified and bounced around in my fridge.  I ate a big spoonful this morning and felt like a little kid again. 
Steam!
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December 18, 2006

Gingerbread Torture

Friday:  Played host to a big juicy hamburger and a frothy cappuccino.

Saturday:  Two glasses of wine at the house party and a few handfuls of popcorn.

Sunday:  Big family dinner that included delicious pasta and a bevy of Christmas cookies.  

Sunday night:  “I ate like a baby piglet this weekend.  And I haven’t been to the gym since Thursday night."  Looked at self in bathroom mirror and firmly resolved to be strong for the rest of the holiday season.  I made it through Thanksgiving without a hitch – no reason to cave for Christmas. 

(Rocky theme, “Gonna Fly Now,” starts playing in my head.)    

“Come on, Kerri.  Back on track.  Get to the gym tomorrow after work.  No more messing around.  Keep it all in check.”  I end my pep talk and, for a split second, am convinced that I see Larry Bird looking back at me in the mirror, much like Luke saw Obi-Wan. 

I blink, and his image is gone.Damn him!

Monday morning:  Damn this girl who made gingerbread cookies.  The whole platter is right by the coffee machine, whispering to me. 

“Kerri …. Kerri … we are delicious gingerbread cookies!  We are tasty and warm and why don’t you just lace in a few units and eat one of us?”

“No, Evil Cookies!  I will not bend to your sugary seductions!”

The cookies sigh in unison.

“But Kerri, a unit and a half!  That’s all it takes!  Come on … we have fresh, white icing as our buttons.”

I had to eat one just to shut it up.

Damn you, holiday confections!  And my sincerest of apologies to L. Bird and to Kevin (I caved, man). 

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December 15, 2006

Hoping...

Come on, Canada!Even though I claim I'm not waiting for a cure, I still want one so badly. 

This article has my attention today.

I'm afraid to hope.

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December 14, 2006

'Twas the Night Before Work ...

Pen.  No teller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Twas the night before work, and all through the flat,
Not a creature was stirring, except for two cats.
The meter was stashed on the table with care,
In case that there was a low blood sugar scare.

We two were all nestled, quite snug in our beds,
While fat cats named Abby made nests on our heads.
And Chris in his bedclothes and me tucked in mine,
Lay down our two heads for some earned sleepy-time.

When inside my body there arose such a clatter,
My liver awoke to see what was the matter.
He peeked at my glucose and spied with such vigor
That I was dropping low – I needed some sugar!

My liver, he poked me, and I shifted a bit.
Then awoke with a start and reached for my kit.
When, what to my startled blue eyes should appear,
But a reading of “50” and a small bit of fear.

More rapid than rapids, I sprang from the bed,
Unsettled the cat asleep up on my head,
I moved down the hallway, stumbled a smidge,
And made my way towards the juice stashed in my fridge.

Cracked open the bottle, drank down my eight sips,
Used the edge of the counter to steady my hips.
“This grape juice is tasty,” I said, don’t ya know. 
“I wish I could drink it when I wasn’t low!”

I stood in the kitchen, admired our tree
As its white, twinkling lights glowed and comforted me.
The juice did its job as it coursed through my body
And after a spell, I felt not quite as shoddy.

I turned on my heel, shuffled off back to bed
Where my boyfriend was sleeping with two cats instead.
Slid under the covers, quick pass with the meter,
The result that popped up confirmed I was much sweeter.

I snuggled back in underneath the warm covers,
The cats got excited and meowed at each other.
Crisis averted, my body called “truce!”
And I drifted to sleep, ever-thankful for juice.

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December 08, 2006

Non-Verbal.

Numbers Matter.Grab coat.  Fumble with keys.  Mind is racing.  Eyebrows furrowed.  What feels so wrong?  I'm on the moon.  Tired.  Can’t focus.  Unzip black meter case.

Beep.

Clink.

5 …

4 …

Meowing from the floor.  Cell phone buzzes in my purse. 

3 …

2 …

1 …

53 mg/dl.

Shaky hands.  Headache.  I wish my mom was here.  The cold air sighing out from the fridge. 

Eight sips.

It will be fine.  Everything will be fine.  Lean against the counter.  

Eight minutes pass.

Clink.

81 mg/dl.

Warm rush of relief. 

1
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December 05, 2006

Quiet Morning.

The alarm goes off, forcing my hand out from under the covers to seek it out. I test my blood sugar without thinking, easing the tip of my finger into my mouth to whisk away the blood. Wipe the sleep from my eyes. Pet Abby as she stretches out on my pillow. I shuffle off to the fridge to take out a bottle of insulin, letting it warm to room temperature while I shower.

I pull the tape loose on my set and gently pry it from my thigh.  It’s the one shower per week that I am without an infusion set.  The shower is hot and the sticky residue left from the tape is worked away by the soap.

Filling up.

I think about what I will wear to work as I fill the reservoir and tap out the bubbles.

Set to Reservoir

Siah comes up and rubs against my leg while I connect the reservoir to the tubing of the new infusion set. She reaches for the tubing.  I bat her paws away, “No, kitty.”  She sits, watching.

Loaded into Quick-Serter

Prime the pump, keeping watch for bubbles.  Chris stirs in bed as the pump beeps and whirs.  Load the set into the insertion device, peeling back the tabs and removing the needle sheath.

Holding my breath

Run my hands against my thigh, looking for a place that isn’t already sore or blotchy. I find a spot and rub it vigorously with the IV prep wipe.  Press the insertion device against my thigh.

Even though I’ve done this hundreds of times before, I still hold my breath before I release the buttons.

Infusion set needle.

The set slides in with a soft click.  I pull back the blue cap, leaving the cannula in place.  Send 0.3 units through the tubing to fill the plastic tube that is now embedded in my skin.  Furrow my brow at the initial cold wince of insulin spreading under my skin.  Tap on the top of the infusion set – “You stay put,” I encourage it.

Stay put.

I decide on black pants and a pretty blue sweater for work.  Nestle the pump into the waistband of my pants and tuck the tubing out of sight.

I put on my watch. Siah and Abby meow at me for food.  And Chris’ alarm goes off. 

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November 27, 2006

Old Habits Die Hard.

I’m cheap.  Frugal.  Stingy. 

Or maybe just bitter?

I’ll spend an obscene amount of money on a pair of pants or a shirt,D-Piggy Bank. but I will reuse a lancet until its bitter, blunted end and I will stretch out the life of an infusion set until the site starts to throb a small bit.  I’d rather spend my money on something normal instead of shelling out any more than is necessary to the diabetes supply fund.  Sounds sort of whiney but it’s true:  I spend as little money as humanly possible on maintaining the D.  I’ll exercise and eat right and keep things as tight as possible every single day, but I'm cheap about supplies.

Like today:  I went home for lunch.  Grabbed my handbag and some paperwork from the front seat of the car and closed the door with my hip.  Felt that “hey!” from the outside of my left thigh, where the infusion set is living.  The lip of the door snagged on my site and gave it a solid yank.

Oh man, that hurts.

I trotted upstairs to my apartment and scoped out the site.  The edge of my QuickSet had ripped a little bit, leaving a peek-a-boo spot that I could spy the cannula through.

“Shit, shit, shit.”  I pushed against the cap of the infusion set and watched as the cannula imbedded itself deeper into my thigh.  Pulling the plastic wrapping off a band aid with my teeth, I stuck the band aid over the infusion site and pressed down hard. 

Too cheap/frugal/stingy/bitter to replace the site.  I mean, there was still 8 units left in the pump.  Enough to last me through the end of the work day, when I could rip the site before the gym, workout, and replace it after my “pump-free shower” tonight.

“Please work.  Please just hold out until the end of the day.”  This makes the second time in a week that I’ve had a conversation with my leg.

So now, a few hours later, I’m enjoying a blood sugar of 116 mg/dl.  My pump keeps hollering at me – boop beep boop – because the reservoir is less than 5 units, but I’m riding it out.  I have a brand new infusion set and a bottle of insulin in my bag.  I have an insulin pen stashed in my desk drawer. 

What I don’t have is the desire to rip out a set before I feel it’s due to be removed.

Conserving test strips.  Re-using syringes.  Re-filled pump reservoirs.  These are the financial tricks of my trade.  Even though I know it’s better to switch the site every three days and to change the lancet every time I test, I just don’t do it.

I’m trying to convince myself that I’m recycling, but it’s a bit of a tough sell at the moment, with this sore site in my thigh. 

Other people do this, don't they?

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November 21, 2006

Site Unseen.

Tasty sandwich.I went home for lunch (my commute is six minutes – have I mentioned that I love my job?) and enjoyed a sandwich and an ice cold glass of milk.  Terrific.  Bolused a few units for the meal.  Put the dishes in the dishwasher away, entertained the cats with a hair tie for a few minutes, and then drove back to the office.

Staring at the computer screen, I noticed that the letters were leaping all over the place.  “For your diabetes life” looked like it was trying to scuttle across the top of the screen.  If I spied weights attached to each individual finger, I wouldn’t have been surprised.    My eyes were aching and dry.  I rubbed them with the back of my fist and reached for my water bottle, guzzling down half of it in one breath.  I felt Grade A crummy.

“Oh for crying out loud,” I half muttered to myself as I sat at my desk and tried to make sense of the recipe pages in front of me.  “I’m definitely frigging high.”

I pricked my finger and the droplet of blood formed, thick like syrup, on the tip of my index finger.

366 mg/dl.

The groan escaped me involuntarily.  Ugh, that’s so high.  How did I end up that high?

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my insulin pump discreetly.  Too sluggish to calculate the math myself, I listened intently to the bolus wizard as it boop beep booped out a few units for me.  I tucked the pump back into my pocket and resumed staring aimlessly at my computer screen.

I smelled the dentist-ish, Band-Aid smell first.  Then I noticed that the spot near my outer thigh, where my infusion set was stashed, felt a little damp.  Hoping no one would walk by and see me with my hand down my pants, I reached in and felt my thigh for the site hub. 

The little sucker was loose.  Not connected to my body.  The tubing must have swiveled around and tugged the site loose sometime over the last hour or so.  Probably just in time to miss my lunchtime bolus, leaving me at this sticky 366 mg/dl. 

I reattached the tubing to the hub and re-bolused.  “Gotcha now, you pesky high.”  One of the marketing people strolled by and I pretended I was on the phone instead of talking to my infusion site.

An hour later- 184 mg/dl.  

“About time.  You’d better stay connected now,” I threatened my thigh.  The marketing person walked by as I stared admonishingly at my leg. 

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November 15, 2006

An Open Letter to my Pancreas

(With a tip of the hat to Julia and McSweeney's

Dear Pancreas,

Dear Pancreas,

I’m not sure what the hell happened to you, but you’ve taken it upon yourself to stop working.  You did have that job for about six years, where you got up early every day and produced my insulin, but apparently that was too much for you.  You were laid off or fired or something.  Don’t blame it on that virus again.  I think you just slept through the alarm and were let go and you just don’t want to admit it.

All you do is sit around, hiding out behind my stomach, reading smut novels and watching reruns of The Facts of Life.  Sure, you push out the occasional juices and you can sound important when you talk about “trypsinogen” and “chymotrypsinogen,” but you and I both know that you don’t do much.  It’s not even like you empty the dishwasher or anything.  The least you could do, after I’ve been testing blood sugar levels and bolusing all day long, is have dinner on the table when I come home.  Is that too much to ask?

Oh no, you’d rather just sit there like a bump on the duodenum, letting me do all the work.  Don’t worry, Pancreas, I’ll make sure I count the carbohydrates in every little scrap of food and bolus accordingly.  No, no, don’t get up.  God forbid you raise an islet these days to let me have a cup of coffee. 

And I don’t care that you’re jealous of The Pump.  I’m sick of listening to you whine about it.  “She gets all the attention.”  “Everyone loves her best.”  “You never made me a special pocket in your skirt.”  Sigh ... Pancreas, if you would just do your job, I could toss The Pump forever.

Remember what it was like when you were working?  How happy we were?  I was playing outside and drinking the Bug Juice Kool-Aide that Grammie made and you were secreting insulin and everything was cool.  We had fun, didn’t we?  Just you and I?  A Girl and her Pancreas?  No pump, no measuring cups, no medic alert bracelet.  Just you and me. 

And now this:  Unemployed.  Lazy.  Would it kill you to even just make some glucagon?  Or maybe cover a meal or two? 

I miss the way things used to be.

That’s it:  you need to find a job.  I’ve had just about enough of this.  Tomorrow morning, we’re going to load your resume onto Monster and see what happens.  I know that the Wonkas are always looking for help.

Signed,
Kerri

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November 09, 2006

My Heroes.

Sometimes it stings when I test my blood sugar.  The lancet springs forward and pierces my fingertip, hitting a nerve and making my eyebrows furrow. 

“Ow!”  I pull my finger back and shake it around a little bit to ease the sting.  The blood is pulled into the strip and I wait for the result.

No one in my family knows what that feels like.  My family and friends know that this is part of the routine I follow every day – testing blood sugars, taking insulin, watching carbs, carrying juice – but they don’t know how this feels.   Do they know what it’s like to prick your finger every day?  Or to experience the sensation of insulin spreading beneath your skin?  Do our loved ones understand the settling mental fog of a high blood sugar?  Or the panicked frustration of a low?  What it’s like to understand that the future of your health lies heavily in your hands sometimes?  They try their best to understand and they go to great lengths to make you feel like they understand completely, but they can’t.  And I don’t want them to.  I don’t want my family and friends to feel what I feel sometimes.  I want them to be healthy and protected from this.

But those of you with diabetes – you know.D-Blog DayYou know what a three hour high blood sugar feels like.  You understand how frustrating it is to do “all the right things” and still end up at 212 mg/dl.  You have been at the bottom of the well, aching for glucose, clinging desperately to a bottle of Dole orange juice as you lean against the freezer cases at the gas station.  You have felt those fears about the future. 

You’ve also felt the elation at eating a piece of delectable strawberry cheesecake, accurately bolusing for the carbohydrates, and clocking in at a tidy 100 mg/dl.  You know what’s like to go to the gym and work out hard and with great ambition, successfully keeping your glucose steady at 130 mg/dl the whole time.  Some of you have challenged your body and created beautiful children.  You understand how funny it is to find a test strip in your shoe.  You have posted a lab result on your fridge with an A1c you’re proud of.  You understand and appreciate feeling Good, because you know you’ve worked hard that day to feel that healthy.

We are the success stories.  Even as I sit here, 20 years into this and with the beginnings of diabetic retinopathy in my eye, I feel successful.  I can’t think of a single thing I have been unable to do because I was diabetic.  I have ridden rollercoasters.  Taken gorgeous vacations.  Danced with reckless abandon with my friends.  Moved to new towns and started new careers.  Said goodbye to loved ones.  Said hello to others.  Fallen in love. 

All with a pump in my pocket and a meter in my purse. 

Every day we face this disease.  There are days when we feel like we’re on top of the world and others when we feel like we’re trying to keep it from falling on us.  But for me, every day is a easier knowing that there are people out there who Understand Completely.  You, my fellow d-bloggers, are my heroes.  Every day, every post I read, inspires me.  You understand what it’s like to really live with this disease. 

I’m not sure how my life would be if I hadn’t started blogging, but I’m so thankful for the life I lead.  And I’m so thankful for all of you. 

Happy D-Blog Day.

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November 07, 2006

The Flu Shot Emmy Award

They had a flu shot clinic at dLife yesterday.  This happens in most offices around this time of year.  The nurse comes in, you submit your form, and she sticks a needle in your arm.  Easy-peasy. 

Not for me-sie.

I can’t stand needles.  Irony, anyone?  The diabetic who hates needles?  That’s me.  Better said:  I fear any needle I’m not in control of.  After administering my own injections for over seventeen years and using an insulin pump for the last two and a half, I am very accustomed to doing my own shots.  When I was a little girl at the pediatrician’s office, my doctor would let me put my hand on his wrist as he administered the shot because he knew I needed some semblance of control over the needle.  If I’m just sitting and waiting for that needle to slide into my skin … oooh, I can’t stand the thought of it.  Having my blood drawn at Joslin is a nightmare and the lab technicians remember me as, “Hey, you’re that girl we had to sit on to draw blood when you were a kid!”  Now I just turn a ghastly shade of pale.

So yesterday, the nurse came to give flu shots.  And, knowing my mother panics if I don’t have this shot every year, I stood in line and waited amongst my co-workers. 

My heart started to race a small bit from the anxiety of the needle-to-come. 

“You okay?”  Marketing Guy asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.  I just hate needles.”

“Okay.”

IT Guy who busts on me daily leaned in.  “You hate needles?”

“I fully recognize the irony.  But I hate any needle I’m not controlling.” 

The shots were being given in the conference room, which is behind plate glass walls. I could see every syringe that the nurse drew up.  I started to get a little jittery.

“You really don’t like this, do you?”  Marketing Guy asked.

“Not really, but it will be okay.”  The Senior Editor walked to have her shot.  I couldn’t control myself.  “Good luck!”  I called after her.

My turn.  Nerves shot.  (No pun intended.)  I walked towards the glass doors with as much confidence as my shaky knees could muster.

“Good luck!”  Giggles from the line behind me.

The nurse examined my form.  I fidgeted beside her. 

“Little nervous?” she asked with a smile. “It won’t hurt a bit.”

“I know.  But I’m still anxious.  I’m diabetic, too, so it’s bizarre to be afraid of needles.”

“Makes sense to me.  Good thing you’re getting a shot.  You’re in the high-risk group.”  She opened a plastic sleeve and removed a sterilized syringe.  I looked back over my shoulder.  The group waved at me.

“They’re busting on me for being nervous.”  I grinned at her. 

“Looks like you should pretend to pass out afterwards.”  She grinned back and uncapped the needle.

“Here we go, quick pinch … you’re fine.  But they don’t need to know that.  Go ahead and slump over to the side.”  She pulled the needle away from my arm.  I let my head roll to the side and collapse onto my arm on the long conference table.

“Are the looking?”  I whispered.The Flu Shot Emmy

“Yeah.  They look sort of concerned.”

I popped back up, put my cardigan back on, and shook the nurse’s hand.

“Thanks for playing.” 

She laughed.  “Anytime.”

I walked back towards the line and tossed out a grin.  A co-worker grabbed one of the many Telly awards that dLife has won.  “Here’s your Emmy, Kerri.” 

I’d like to thank the academy ... and the patience of the wonderful nurse ...

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November 06, 2006

One of Those Diabetes Days.

Funny thing, stress.  It’s a sneaky little bugger.

Despite the fact that I’m doing my best to continue on with business as usual, good ol’ diabetes has reared its ugly head.  Instead of lying quietly and letting me mourn, stress has chosen this time to join the fray and make me grumpy.

Feeling a little too crummy to eat?  Don’t worry.  Stress levels will keep my bloodsugars cruising neatly around 250 mg/dl, making my stomach ache with loss and hunger and hyperglycemia, all at the same time.  How much insulin does it take to cover a bowl of oatmeal?  On any other day, three units, but these past few days, it takes about five units coursing through me to keep me under 200 mg/dl.  Mind too busy to sleep?  Good.  Stay up all night, end up tangled in the blankets, and only acheive REM once, or so it seems.  My eyes close and then aStress Lizardll of a sudden the alarm is nagging me, causing me to unsnuggle from the bed and wander towards the shower.  Morning sugars are fine but they immediately become chaotic once I am awake for an hour or so.

I changed my pump set this morning and have been enjoying a sticky 307 mg/dl for the last 45 minutes, climbing from the 202 mg/dl I was at 10 o'clock this morning.  I am waiting to see if this bolus starts to bring me down (thus making the site valid) or if it will require a rip and reset.  My eyes feel like they're tethered by extra tendons, aching every time I move them.  And my skin feels tight and dry, despite the water I'm trying to chug.  I'm like a miserable lizard.  I'm liz-rible.  Which makes me laugh to think about but at the same time, it's contributing to an already-elevated stress level.

Then I read posts like Martha's and Scott's and I feel like this is just One of Those Diabetes Days.

Maybe hitting the gym will help.  Or reading the new Jennifer Weiner book I picked up this weekend.  (Hey Julia, have you read this one?  It's shaping up to be pretty good so far.)  I realize that this is what happens when you lose someone you love and the daily bits of stress seem magnified as a result.  And I know this stress will pass.  But while it's here, I'm not enjoying it.

Tomorrow:  The Flu Shot Emmy Award

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October 18, 2006

Insulin Pumping, After a Fashion

Fashionable.I wear an insulin pump.  (Gasp from the Faithful Readers.  “She’s a diabetic?!”  I know.) 

The pump itself is not very big – Minimed says it’s a tiny 2.0 x 3.0. x 0.8 inches.  That’s smaller than your average cell phone, true. 

As I was going through my morning “get ready” routine today, I stood in front of my closet and did a quick assessment of my clothes.  I like classic, tailored sorts of outfits and I like for my clothes to look streamlined.  Incorporating this device sometimes proves to be very … challenging.  (Diplomacy won out on that phrase, over my other option of “makes my head spin and I almost launch the pump across the room.")

I don’t like when the pump is exposed.  Not that it’s something I consider to be shameful, and especially since I work at a diabetes-focused media company, but I don’t want tubing and pump bulges as part of my daily look.  I always tuck the tubing away and I keep the pump as tucked away as possible.  Every skirt has either a pocket sewn in or I use that thigh thingy from Minimed.  Every pair of pants has either a pocket to slide the pump into or a waistband wide enough to hide the pump inside.  (And for some fabulous reason, my favorite stores - like Ann Taylor - have been adding these convenient little pockets to their pants, perfect for pump-tucking.  That’s a way to earn my consumer loyalty.)  And for those that don’t, I add a little internal pocket just as swiftly as I hem the pants before I wear them.  (I’m sort of short, so the hemming was just as necessary a skill to learn as pocket creating.) 

I often go to great lengths to conceal my pump.  Sometimes it’s a complete pain in the arse and I can’t find a way to incorporate it into my outfit.  Today’s ensemble includes a pair of tailored corduroy pants (no pockets) and a long sleeved, fitted shirt (not billowy enough to hide the pump bulge).  Out of options, I reluctantly clipped the pump to my pants and it’s been a visible part of me all day long.  No one notices.  No one comments.  And to be honest, no one cares but me.

But sometimes it makes me frustrated to have to interrupt my attempts at dressing like a “normal twenty something girl” with these pump integrations.  Just as it makes me a little batty when I have to interrupt my gym workout for a blood sugar testing session.  Just as it makes me moody when I have to splice some glucose tabs into my afternoon article-writing session. 

Do you, my fellow pumpers, make efforts to hide your pump? 

It can be a pain.  Sometimes in superficial ways that I hate admitting.  But, when I’m looking at my bloodsugars and I’m 85% content with their progression, wearing this machine is worth it. 

It's fashionable to be healthy.

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October 15, 2006

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes

The Temple at RW Park

The day dawned bright and crisp.  Roger Williams Park in Rhode Island served as a gorgeous backdrop for Team Six Until Me. to make their second annual JDRF Walk appearance. 

There were over 4,000 walkers this year and among thSandra and Kerri.em were my mother, step-father, Chris, Chris' sister and brother-in-law, his adorable niece, oh, and a Special Guest:

Team SUM had the pleasure of Sandra Miller and her sister joining up for the walk! 

Fresh from the blistering Wisconsin cold and recovering from a surprise party in MA the night before, Sandra made the jaunt to RI to walk with our team.  And yes, as you probably guessed, she is as warm and gentle in person as she is on her blog.  Funny, quick to smile, and fiercely passionate, Sandra and her sister were a much-appreciated addition to Team SUM.  (It was cool watching her and Chris chat about "Uzi" and seeing she and my mother exchange hugs even though they've never exchanged words before.  This internet is an amazing thing.)

We walked.  We chatted.  (Chris served as our photographer.  Thank you, Chris!)

Walk Chats.

We saw Ronald McDonald.  And I had this uncontrollable urge to hug him. 

Ronnie.
Our team crossed the finish archway after a brisk 5 mile walk (yes, that is a just-in-case can of juice in my hand) and I was just so damn proud to have this collection of people in my life. 
The Finish Line. 
Walking in that enormous pack of people, all supporting the same cause and harboring the same hopes, I felt like I was a part of something bigger than just testing and shooting and counting carbs.  All of those people, walking for a cure.  It highlights one of the best parts of the human spirit:  that sense of unity.

We're all in this together, no matter how far apart we seem at times.

Steve.

And, of course, my man Steve was there again.  Here's to you, Steve.
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October 12, 2006

Six Things on a Wednesday.

The Joslin atrium.1.  I had my Joslin appointment on Tuesday afternoon, and it only took me three and a half hours to get there from my apartment in Norwalk.  Joslin always makes me feel hopeful, like no matter what happens, these people will keep me safe.  I saw my endocrinologist, Dr. Florence Brown, and after reviewing my bloodsugars and noticing a few trends, we talked about a continuous blood glucose monitor.  I would love to have one of these for a few days a month, just to get a feel for how my sugars are trending.  I’m exploring the possibility of trying one out – leaning towards Dexcom.  Can anyone make a solid recommendation as to which one I should try? 

2.  The JDRF walk is this Sunday.  My family and loved ones will be walking, along with some potential special guests, which I’m hoping to divulge on Sunday night.  (Here’s hoping everything works out and my Special Guests are able to attend!)  If you are walking with me on Sunday and you still haven’t signed up, or if you’d like to make a donation towards Team Six Until Me., visit HERE.  A big thanks to my team members, who have raised hundreds of dollars on their own fundraising quests.  I am very proud to have you on my team!!

3.  Generation D.” has been updated.  Note:  I had never been called over the intercom of a police cruiser before.  This was a first for me. 

4.  Halloween is a-comin’ and there are big plans here.  Not only is my brother’s house being transformed into a pirate ship (much to the delight of my 6 year old nephew) but the Morrone Family is expecting A New Baby.  My brother’s daughter is due at the end of October and I absolutely cannot wait to meet her.  My sister-in-law confirms that, if the baby is born before Halloween, New Baby will attend as a hotdog.  A hotdog on the pirate ship.  I endorse this idea.

Asleep on my clean clothes.5.  I love doing the laundry.  The smell of a dryer sheet permeating my household makes me so happy.  However, finding a small Sausage sleeping on a pile of toasty warm clothes straight from the dryer made me laugh.  So I snapped a picture.

6.  I laughed.  And laughed and laughed and laughed when I read this post:  The Lifecycle of a Blog.

Mental state at the beginning of reading this post:  “Hmmm… that sounds a lot like me.” 

Mental state at the end of reading this post:  “Whoa.  I could really go for a cheese sandwich right now.”

Blogging.  It’s what’s for dinner.

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October 03, 2006

Blogging Across Boundaries

Blogging Across Boundaries.“Because the internet should be a tool for bridging gaps as well as building communities.”

This line struck me most about Andrea’s call for entries for Blogging Across Boundaries.  Bridging gaps as well as building communities. 

There are plenty of gaps in the internet communities I find myself a part of.  It’s not so much between the topics we cover when we write, but more about bridging the gaps between the words and the people. 

There’s something about meeting these people in person.  These people whose intimate details you know but whose faces you can barely begin to picture.  I have had the utmost pleasure of meeting several bloggers in the past and it’s always this startling combination of comfort, ease, and laughter.

This past week was no exception.

Early last week, I met a fellow d-blogger who announces herself online as Violet.  (Real name remains under wraps, until she uncloaks at her own discretion.)  It's a strange thing, meeting a fellow blogger for the first time.  I wonder if it will be awkward.  Will we get along as well in person as we do online?  What happens when I finally have a face and a voice for this writer I enjoy so much? I stood in the middle of Grand Central Station, looking every inch the Country Mouse.  I have posted pictures of myself online (why why why do I do that?) so I was recognizable, but what she looked like was a mystery to me.  She said she would meet up with me, so I stood like a kid lost in NY until I heard a voice say, "Kerri?"

"Violet??"  Knowing full well that wasn't her given name, but instead the one she goes by online to protect her anonymity, I leaned in to give this stranger that I knew so well a hug. 

When two people meet for the first time, there is often that awkwardness that needs some time to dissipate.   Strange thing, though, meeting a fellow blogger whose heart and soul you have peered into for the last year and a half.  Who was one of the very first bloggers you ever knew existed, well before the explosion of diabetes blogs.  Stranger still, having a discussion about very deep-seeded fears and knowing exactly what she means when she sits in silence.  And possibly the strangest of The bridge to Pumplandia?all, feeling comfortable – instantly comfortable – with someone you’ve never met before.

Weblog.  We blog.  Some of us blog daily.  Others blog when the inspiration strikes us.  We blog about such a wide array of things, ranging from politics to medicines to emotions to experiences.  We don’t share the same experiences.  We don’t have the same backgrounds or interests or opinions.  Yet we are all able to meet together on the web and offer up glimpses into our lives, embracing as a community despite the fact that we wouldn’t know one another if we passed on the street.  Meeting my fellow bloggers has helped to make them Real, in ways that the internet, despite its constant advances, can’t rival.

There don’t appear to be many boundaries, just a lack of bridges. 

Here’s to bridging the gaps. 

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September 28, 2006

A Penny for my Thoughts.

The little bastard.My head has been in the clouds lately.  But I want to thank you for your very kind comments.  They've provided me with much-needed solace this week.  I'm currently regarding this issue in my eye as a very annoying Squirrel that has taken up residence.  I will drive him from my tree (read: head) and send him on his merry way.  Whatever it takes:  more time at the gym, tighter blood sugar control, easing off the stress in my life to keep my body calm ... I'll do everything I can to keep this Squirrel at bay.   And if he's still there in six months, so be it.  As long as he doesn't bring more friends.  Because if I end up with a head full of Squirrels, I'm going to laser the hell out of them and they'll be sorry they didn't leave when they had the chance.

Whoa.

Very long-winded metaphor there.  But I'm sticking with it.  Here's to the banishment of The Squirrel.  He won't drive me nuts for long.  (Ah, there's the pun.)   Until then, and forever more, it's business as usual.  Forging ahead.  And with that, I've stolen a meme from Sandra (who stole it from Penny) in efforts to get my head back in the game.

***     The MEME.     ***

Do you still have tonsils?  Yes.  They are back there in my throat, along with that hanger-ball thingy.

Would you bungee jump?  Oooh, no thank you.

If You Could Do Anything In The World For A Living What Would It Be?  Write.  Ah ha!

How many tattoos do you have?  
None.  I never liked the idea of a stretched out, aging dolphin or rose.
Crimey, DM!
Your favorite fictional animal? 
Danger Mouse.  Dashing,  British, and best friends with a hamster named Penfold.  That’s a triple win.

One person that never fails to make you laugh? 
Nurse Best Friend.  She and I make no sense to anyone but each other, and it’s damn funny every time.

Do you consider yourself well organized? 
Yes.  No.  Um, what was the question?  Hold on, I need to grab a pen...

Any Addictions? 
Coffee.  Trashy magazines in the aisles at supermarkets.  (Oftentimes, Chris is kind enough to unload the grocery cart so I can stand there and read the magazines on the sly.)  I think I’m addicted to blogging.  And I really do like driving fast.    

From what news source do you receive the bulk of your news?
Sigh ... Yahoo.  I’ll admit it:  I get most of my current news either from Yahoo news blurbs or Jon Stewart.

Would you rather go to a carnival or circus?  
Carnival.  Where else can you toss a ping pong ball and score a goldfish? 

When you were twelve years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
A writer.  And taller than I was at the age of 12.  I’m one for two at the moment. 

Best Movie You've Seen This Year? The Illusionist.  Or Little Miss Sunshine.  Both brilliant.

Favorite alcoholic drink? 
Pinot grigio.  Or a madras.  And I’m in the process of developing a taste for Corona.  More on that once I’m convinced it’s not actually carbonated bread.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Remove the sleeping Siah Sausage from my head and then test my bloodsugar.

Siblings?
But of course.  Older brother, younger sister.

What is the best thing about your job? 
That I get to write for a living.  And it doesn’t involve insurance in the least bit.   

Have you ever gone to therapy?  Once, after my parents divorced.  It didn’t do much for me but I was emotionally unreachable at the time. 

If you could have one super power what would it be? 
To have three more super powers. 

Do you own any furniture from Ikea?
The chaos of IKEA has been ferreted out by Mr. Sparling and me.  Half of our living room is furnished with IKEA stuff we’ve built ourselves using dowels and that wild, L-shaped screw thing they give you.  I’ve never been so horrified and delighted at the same time as when I realized that over $500 worth of Ikea stuff fit into a VW Jetta.

Have you ever gone camping? 
Yes.  Many, many times.  I don’t fancy myself a woman of the woods, but I “roughed it” and have been known to pee behind trees on occasion.  (I think I may have just crossed the liCiao.ne into Too Much Information Land.)

Gas prices! First thought?
A vespa. 

Your favorite cartoon character? Slowpoke Rodriguez.  Speedy may have received more press, but SlowPoke was just so sleepy and slow ... he makes me laugh every time.

What was your first car?  A 1984 Volvo DL with no horn, windows that fell into the doorframe everytime I rolled them down, and started in accordance with it’s German whims.  My brother left it behind when he went to college and I snapped it up when I turned 16.

Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?  
No.  But it isn’t the only benchmark for a committed relationship.

The Cosby Show or the Simpsons?   The Simpsons.  All the way.  Comic Book Guy stands guard on my bookshelf at work as we speak.  He’s the gardener here at dLife. 

Do you go to church? 
No.  Do I have to in order to affirm my faith?

What famous person would you like to have dinner with? 
Bono.  Or Larry Bird.  (Are there any surprises anymore?)

What errand/chore do you despise?  
The dishes.  They are disgusting.  Once food is done being eaten, I immediately consider it “trash.”  And who wants to scrub trash off their dinner plates?  Horrendous.  I do, however, love washing laundry.  Goes in dirty, comes out clean.  I love that system.  And I could sniff dryer sheets all day long.  They’re like crack for me.

First thought when the alarm went off this morning? 
"Why is there a little gray tail in my ear?"

Last time you puked from drinking? 
 
Come on ... my mother reads this blog.  (This morning.  Nah, just kidding.  Yesterday morning.)

What is your heritage?   Irish, English, and Italian.  I’m a tea-drinking, hot-tempered pitbull who should be able to cook but is dreadfully deficient in that arena.

Favorite flower? 
The ones from Chris.  From roses for Valentines’ Day to a bouquet of daisies he grabbed while grocery shopping, I love them all.

Disney or Warner Bros?  They’re all mildly amusing but if I see one more grown woman wearing a jean jacket with Tweety Bird embroidered on it, I may lose my mind.

What is your best childhood memory? 
Riding the carousel every summer in Watch Hill.

Your favorite potato chip? 
I don’t like potato chips.  But I love Sherbet Cyclone popsicles.  I haven’t been able to find them in about three years.  If you know of a place where I can purchase Sherbet Cyclones, please disclose your source.  I seriously would drive across states to score a box.  But then I’d have to eat them all in one sitting because otherwise they would melt.  That’s the price I’m willing to pay.

What is your favorite candy? 
Gummy peaches.  The first three taste so delicious, but then you have to quit because you’re either going to end up ridiculously high or sick to your stomach.  Still, those first three are money.

Do you burn or tan? 
I tan to golden brown perfection.  I am currently missing my summer glow at the moment... looking rather pasty these days.

Astrological sign? 
Aquarius.

Do you own a gun? 
No way.  But I do have a baseball bat under the bed, just in case I want to play homerun derby in the middle of the night.

What do you think of hot dogs? 
They can be kind of pushy.

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September 26, 2006

No title.

My eyes were wide, wide open and my pupils were dilating further by the second.

It’s strange, sitting there as the dilation solution starts to affect your eyes.  Things start to look a bit wavier and the light seems brighter.  Then it’s almost too bright to focus and you ask them to turn off the fluorescents above you.

“No problem.  Now let’s talk about your diabetes.”

“Yes, I’m a type one.  Since 1986.  I just marked my 20th year a few weeks ago.  …  I’m trying to get it under 7%, yeah.  No complications.  I do take Altace for high blood pressure, though. … yeah, it’s working okay, I think.  How many times?  Um, I test about twelve times per day, on average.  … Yeah, it makes me anxious not to know what my bloodsugar is.  I did have a  cotton wool spot about a year and a half ago, sort of prompted the whole Altace thing.  It was gone as of September 2005, though.  I’m feeling pretty good.  I exercise a lot.”

He shines the light in my eyes.  Looks at me with that weird miner cap with the light on it. 

“Look over my shoulder… okay … at my left ear … okay …”

The visit goes on and my eyes are wide, wide open. 

“Left eye looks good, kiddo.  You work hard to take care of yourself, don’t you?”  The light shines brightly in my face and I wince a little bit.

“I do.  I do my best.”

“Right eye has that little cotton spot and a very, very small hemorrhage … two very small hemorrhages.  Nothing to worry about, though.  They’re so small.  So over at dLife, what exactly do you do?...”

And I start to cry.  Not big, sobbing, aching tears but the ones that just spill out and you can’t stop them and they burn so hot on your cheeks. 

“Bit leaky there, eh?  Those eye drops make people react differently.  I’ll grab you a tissue.”

Blot at my eyes.  My eyes. 

“So, nothing to worry about.  I wish every patient I saw who had been diabetic for 20 years was as fastidious as you!  Your eyes look great.  Nothing to worry about.”

“The spots, though?  The hemorrhage?  What do I do about that?”

“Keep doing what you’re doing, Ms. Morrone.  You are testing often, eating very well, exercising more than most patients I see.  You are doing a fine job.  Twenty years is a long time with this and you are doing just fine.”

My face is so streaked with tears but it’s okay because the lights are still dimmed and he can’t see me clearly.  I can’t see anything clearly.

“Can I do anything differently?  I want those spots to go away.”

“Well, see how tight you can run your sugars.  And maybe increase that blood pressure medication, because a higher BP doesn’t help.  But just stay on top of things and you’ll be just fine. This is nothing to worry about.  You're doing a fine job.”  He snapped my chart shut.  “Just visit the girls at the front desk and they’ll set up your six month follow up.”

I work hard at this.  Harder than I’ve ever worked at anything before.  I devote so much of my time to trying to monitor my diabetes that sometimes it makes me ache.  I’m scared that it’s never enough, that no matter what I do, it’s won’t ever be enough to keep me safe.  Monitoring bloodsugars, seeing the best doctors, eating a very healthy meal plan, exercising diligently, keeping myself as educated as possible – and it isn’t enough.

People tell me that they wouldn’t know I was diabetic by looking at me.  And now that secret hides in my eyes and I wonder if people know. 

I’m scared.  And I can’t help but blame myself a little bit.  There’s so much guilt with this disease sometimes that it suffocates me. 

I thought about not writing about this on the blog because I’m scared to see it actually written down.  I’m not sure if I’m ready to really face how scared I am of this sometimes.  And I know that it’s just a little smudge in my eye and it may correct itself and all I have to do is work harder, but to have someone regard it almost as what is expected to happen to me … I don’t want what is expected.  I want to defy expectations and have my doctors say, “Wow!  Fifty-three years with diabetes and you are in terrific condition!  Wouldn’t know by looking at you.”  My stomach is in knots at the thought that I’m 27 years old and I’m forced to face more of my journey as a diabetic.  The doctor said there’s nothing to worry about.  My family says it will be okay.  My boyfriend says he loves me today and will love me 50 years from today, regardless of what happens.  I don’t feel sick.  I hardly ever feel sick.  But will it get me?  Will it change the course of my life and make me sick?  Will I ever feel safe or am I always waiting … waiting for that next bit of dodgy news, that sharp poke of a complication, that fear making my heart it’s home. 

I'll keep trying - I'll always try - and tomorrow won't feel as scary.  But today does.  And so did yesterday.

My eyes are wide, wide open and I’m scared to look at myself.  I don’t want to change.  I don’t want this.

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September 20, 2006

My Medicine Cabinet.

Insulin.

It’s the core of my daily maintenance routine.  The stuff is crucial and I’m completely hooked.  (I would have said “pumped” but the pun would have been too obvious.  Tune in later for more subtle puns.) 

So when I was first diagnosed, insulin was the crux of my regimen.  Whether it was NPH, Lente, UltraLente, Lantus, Regular or Humalog, insulin was all that my body required to keep it running tight.A Cauldron of Supplments

Then hormones hit. 

Puberty brought on the “Jane becomes a woman” pubery filmstrip from middle school moment, as she twirls around once and sparkles emit from her long, brown hair.  Apparently, just twirling around and radiating glitter takes care of the whole puberty mess.  No direct mention of menstruation, acne, growth spurts and womanly curves.  No subdirectory of an adolescent girl with diabetes, trying to reign in her bloodsugars, keep insulin levels steady, and make sure the monthly cycle was cycling correctly.

At the tail end of the puberty adventure, the birth control pill was introduced into my routine.  I mean, when you’re 16 years old and experiencing your monthly period one or twice a season (at best), a little regimentation is needed.  I didn’t feel too strangely about the birth control, though, because I was planning on utilizing birth control once I decided to become sexually active (yes yes, Mother, in addition to other methods and no, Mother, it was like 40 years later that I decided to …), so I just had a hormonal headstart.

Insulin and birth control.  Normal.

Now that I am in my 20’s, however, I’m noticing that my medicine cabinet isn’t just toothpaste and eye makeup remover anymore.  In addition to insulin and birth control, I am taking a blood pressure medication called Altace to keep both my pressure and my kidneys in check.  The decision to make this part of my regimen came after realizing that the cotton wool spot from last year was directly caused by the slight elevation of my blood pressure.  Thankfully, Altace and my dedication to the gym made that cotton wool spot history. 

Insulin.  Birth control.  Now Altace.

The list of prescription medications is joined by an arsenal of supplements, on any given day.  There’s the pre-natal vitamin (to keep my natals … pre-ed), cranberry extract pills to ward off urinary tract infections, the mystical and magical L-Glutamine, Garlique to keep cholesterol in check, and a bottle of cinnamon pills and flax seed oil that I’ve yet to crack open. 

Insulin.  Birth control.  Altace.  A cornucopia of supplemental goodies.

My body feels like a cauldron sometimes, swirling with attempts to stay healthy. 

I read today that type one diabetes takes an hour per day to maintain.  One hour.  And I thought about my medicine cabinet, the efforts Chris and I take to keep our kitchen stocked with healthy foods, and the daily excursions to the gym … an hour??  Hardly.  Managing diabetes is a moment-to-moment endeavor.

And I thought about my own life.  And the life of the girl planning her wedding.  The guys going on vacation.  The woman starting fresh.  The woman expecting her child.  The style of a busy life.  The quiet conversations. 

And I thought of each of you, doing what you do every day, and achieving such success with such grace.  While we may not be acheiving this with the same glittery ease that good ol' Jane twirled through puberty, we do a damn fine job indeed. 

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September 18, 2006

Hungry Like the Wolf.

We went arrived at the festival in Boston around 4 o’clock, after driving from RI.  Hours later, I felt the churning, swirling ache in my stomach.  That irritability and emptiness, making the railing of the theater’s chair almost ... chewy.

“When did we eat last?”  I whispered to Chris as the fifteenth short film started.Hungry

“At 3 o’clock.”

My stomach rumbled.

“And what time is it now?”

“I don’t know.  Check your pump.”  Quick hit of the button to illuminate the screen.  “It’s 9:30.”

A little bit shaky.  Kind of weak.  What was going on?  I must be like 50 mg/dl.  I pulled my meter from my purse and, by the backlight of my pump and meter, watched the countdown from 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

174 mg/dl.

Okay, not even close to low.  I bolused a unit and a half to bring me back towards 100 mg/dl and sat back in my seat to watch the rest of the film.  My stomach ached in protest.  “Hey lady.  Go eat something.  It’s been like seven hours.  I’m empty.  Whahh.”

Is this what hungry feels like?

Before I went on an insulin pump, I never really knew how “being hungry” felt.  Back when I was using NPH and Lente and UltraLente insulins, I kept to an eating schedule that protected me from the peaks and valleys of my insulin.  Even transitioning to Lantus had me eating on a scheduled basis, as the insulin seemed to peak a bit in my body.  Going more than three hours without a little snack was unheard of. 

Flash forward 17 years to the insulin pump.  At the age of 25, I started using my Paradigm 512 and it allowed me, for the first time in my life as a diabetic, to eat when I felt like it.  I could sleep until noon and not have to worry about blood sugar fluctuations.  I could go to bed at 3 in the morning and my A1c didn’t suffer the consequences.  (Though the bags under my eyes were impressive.)  And I didn’t have to eat every three hours to ensure that my sugars would remain range-ish.

For the first time that I could remember, I felt “hungry”.  And the feeling was so new and startling yet familiar and uncomfortable that I couldn’t help but associate it with being low.

We finally left the film festival and wandered towards the car.  “Eat something,” Stomach pleaded, lurching and trying to turn itself inside out. 

"Let's eat," said Chris, almost in answer to my hungry belly.

“One quick thing,” I murmured, reaching for my kit again.  144 mg/dl. 

Damn tricky hunger.  I would have bet money on the fact that I was low.    

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September 11, 2006

Twenty.

Me as a wee little lass.Twenty years.

I thought I would feel this epiphany, this moment of clarity, a feeling of pride and accomplishment that I have lived such  a normal life with diabetes.  That I would have sage words of wisdom to impart.  Some tips and tricks, maybe.  Advice.  Something I could look back on in another twenty years and nod my head in agreement with.

Twenty years of insulin. Of blood sugar tests.  Of diet plans and food exchanges and carb counting and ratios.  Twenty years of my mother worrying.  Of doctor appointments.  Of explaining the disease to new bosses, new friends, new lovers.  Of meters and needles and glucose tabs.  Of highs and ketones, of lows and juice.

I was just a little kid when I was diagnosed.  My mother and father were strong for me then.  Now, I am all of my twenty-seven years and strong for myself, leaning on my friends and family and support systems when I need help.  But I don't have any words of advice.  I'm not an expert.  I deal with this the best I can.  There are days when I feel confident and in control.  There are others when I'm not sure which way the world is spinning.  Just like you. Just like everyone.

Twenty years ago today, I was diagnosed with diabetes.  Today feels good.  I feel no different from yesterday.

Here's to tomorrow being just the same.

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September 08, 2006

Diabetic White Noise

The house was completely quiet this morning when I woke up.  A sliver of sun cut through the bedroom shades and hit a patch on the floor that Fat Cat Abby was stretched out in.  Siah was White Noise.napping on the bed, tucked neatly against Chris as he slept.  No noise from outside.  I reached for my testing kit, which was sitting on the bedside table and the zzz-iiiip of the case broke the silence.

There’s a steady hum of diabetic white noise in my life at all times.

Even if I don’t notice as much anymore, there are signs of diabetes everywhere in my house.  My black zipper kit sits on the bedside table.  Cake gel is tucked in to the little drawer of the table, laying flat against the bottle of blood pressure medication I take every night. 

The master bedroom closet houses all of my clothes and shoes.  I am a complete clothes horse (another phrase that makes about as much sense as eating a horse) and there is barely enough room for my summer wardrobe, nevermind every item I own.  But there is also a large, white cabinet tucked within its doors, which holds all my back-up pump supplies, lancets, bottles of test strips, and some spare pump clips. 

Bathroom cabinet?  Moisturizer, eye makeup remover, toothpaste, a bottle of Clean Provence perfume, and the Quickserter for my infusion sets.  Cake gel is in there, too, just in case.

Refrigerator?  Aside from the stock of produce and milk, thirteen vials of insulin stand at ready attention in a compartment in the door, alongside my stock of Humalog “just-in-case” insulin pens.  And the juice.  Always juice.

Dead test strips: on the floor right by the bedside table, under the couch cushion in the living room, a shoe in my closet, one was on the bottom shelf of the fridge this morning, and scattered around the garbage can in the kitchen.  (It’s like they rebel against being thrown away.  I make the effort to toss them and they still don’t make it in.)

Even on my own body:  You wouldn’t know by looking at me that I was diabetic, but the spotty scars on my fingertips and the dots (and tan lines) of past infusion sets on my thighs tell a silent story.   My purse is never without my kit, some juice, and some kind of carbohydrate source.  My boyfriend checks my forehead for beads of sweat every time he wakes up in the middle of the night. 

All these little signs.  Tucked away into compartments and drawers but at every turn and in every room.   I noticed them all this morning.  Every last one. 

Always there, humming away like white noise in the background, like the air conditioner at your office or the fan in your computer.  You barely notice when it’s on, but imagine, just for a minute, how much you’d notice if it starting spinning out of control.  Or if it hiccupped and stalled. 

Or if it just stopped.  Creating silence, like my house this morning.

… and the silence is broken by the sound of Ms. Siah, who found a ping-pong ball underneath the couch and is chasing it frantically across the kitchen floor.  I just picked a test strip out of my computer keyboard. 

So begins another day.

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September 05, 2006

Complaining Kerri.

<whine>

I feel crummy. 

Headache:  foggy and achy, wanting nothing more than to just hold my head in my hands, occasionally mussing up my ponytail.   Stomach:  apparently doing flips inside mWhah whah whah.y body, refusing to accept more than a spoonful of oatmeal at a time.  Temperature:  I haven’t taken it yet but I’m pretty sure I have a little fever because my skin is horrified to have my clothes near it.  Every brush of my sleeve against my arm makes my skin scream.  Bloodsugars:   at a jolly old 155 mg/dl, but my insulin:carb ratios are through the roof this morning.  My oatmeal, which is usually covered by 2 units of insulin, was countered with 5 units this morning.  Last night’s sugars, however, were content to hover around 300 mg/dl.  Ketones:  none.  Thirst level:  extreme.  I could drink a horse.*  General mood:  whiny.  Seriously whiny.  The kind of mood that makes me want to go home and flounce around the house, eating popsicles and napping on the couch and enjoying the furry company of one little, gray Siah cat.  Miserable, pouting Kerri.

</whine>

*  “I’m so thirsty, I could drink a horse,” doesn’t make nearly the amount of sense that “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse,” makes.  Although the “eat a horse” expression is ridiculous on its own.  Whatever.  I’m at a feverish loss.  This is the best I can come up with this morning.   

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August 30, 2006

Blog Therapy.

So much to keep track of:  blood sugar results, boluses, basal rates, low bloodsugar reaction treaters, medical alert bracelet,  A1c levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight management, food intake, hiding the pump in my daily ensemble, carbohydrate counting, insulin to carb ratios, medical insurance deductibles, appointments at Joslin, extra battery for pump, back up infusion sets, insulin pen, meter log book …

Oh, and have I fed the cats?  Or changed the oil in my car?  Or put on my pants?

It’s difficult sometimes to keep track of everything in life that needs attention.  With diabetes, it’s as though there are two lives to keep track of:  One Life that is filled with the same things that all lives are filled with and The Other Life that exists for my diabetes.  Often, the lines are blurred between the two and I find myself out to a fabulous dinner with my boyfriend, blending the arrival of the food and a mental calculation of carbs, testing my blood, and then the subsequent bolus without noticing the seams.  Or I climb into the car to drive home after work and test my blood sugar just as instinctively as I put on my seatbelt.  One Life and The Other Life are often just My Life.  The Little, Teeny Blogosphere.

And then sometimes I feel so crummy about the whole thing that it lays so heavy on my chest that I can’t breathe right.

It’s strange how something as simple as a little blog can bring such focus for me. 

Writing about this disease makes it easier for me to deal with.  Putting my thoughts on paper (and then on the internet for the whole world to see … what am I thinking?) gets them out of my head and takes some of the pressure off my heart.  Hearing that there are people who are experiencing similar frustrations, encountering similar roadblocks, feeling what I feel, means so much to me.  I feel like I lived alone with this disease for so long.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t have the support of my wonderful family or my loyal friends or my romantic relationships, but they can only understand so much.  Now I have a vast network of other people with diabetes that makes the lines between One Life and The Other Life blur. 

It struck me last night, as I added two more new diabetes blogs to my blogroll and marveled at how long I had to scroll down to view all the voices.  How many people out there know how I feel.  I feel comforted.  And inspired.  I read a post last night about a woman who wondered how she would fold her pump into her wedding gown and I thought, “That’s exactly it!  This is how we take the best care of ourselves as diabetics and have tremendous lives.”  And I thought about it again this morning, as I sat down at my job where I write for a living, and I thought about how un-lonely I felt.  How grateful I was for just the presence of other people living, every single day, with this same disease.  How the spin cycle of my life rinses out neatly when I don’t feel as though I’m the only one.

The world is whittled down to a more manageable size when I don’t feel alone.

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August 28, 2006

Team Six Until Me. Rises Again!

The Team Six Until Me. Rally Message:

Team SUM!
This September marks my 20th year living with type one diabetes. 

Over the course of the last twenty years, I have seen tremendous advances in diabetes management, including the blood glucose monitoring meter I use every two hours and the insulin pump I wear every day.  These advancements are life-changing and they make my day-to-day living with diabetes easier.

However, these advancements are not a cure.  Despite the fancy gadgets and technological developments, my pancreas still does not produce insulin.  I will be tethered to these devices and reliant upon many maintenance drugs for the rest of my life.

Unless there is a cure.  A real cure.

And if anyone can find it, it's the JDRF.

I am proud to announce that Team Six Until Me. will be taking part in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's "Walk to Cure Diabetes" on October 15th.  

Our goal?    To raise at least $3,000 towards the cure for diabetes.

I am looking for your support as I chair Team Six Until Me. for our follow-up to last year's raging success.    It was fun.  And this year, it will be ... funner.

Want to walk with Team S.U.M.? 
Register here:  http://walk.jdrf.org/index.cfm

Want to donate to Team S.U.M.?
Click here to Donate Now!  Or email me for mailing information by clicking here.

Today I say, "I live successfully with type one diabetes."

I can't wait to say, "I used to be a diabetic."

Thank you for your continued support!

-- Kerri.

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August 24, 2006

Pump Things I Wish I Had Known:

Insulin Pump:  CharleneThat I should learn to sew.   Pockets in every pair of pants, tricky little places sewn into skirts to drop in that little pump.

About little kittens and their affinity for the tasty tubing. 

That the infusion set needle wasn’t this enormous horse needle that would pierce me straight through.  Instead, it’s a small, thin intrusion that pulls out as quickly as it entered, leaving behind the plastic cannula that I can hardly feel.

That I could house the infusion set somewhere other than my abdomen.  If I had known I could use my thigh, my arm, my hip, and my stomach, I may have switched sooner. 

That my pump consultant was serious when she said to check for air bubbles in the tubing.  One little teeny air bubble can be the difference between a bolus of five units and a bolus of three. 

Bouncy Castle.  Fun!That I should buy more than one pump clip, because one bounce in the Bouncy Castle at my cousin’s family cookout sent the pump clip flying across the castle and left my pump dangling from my waistband.  (Yes, I was a bit too old to be bouncing around in the bouncy castle, but that is not the point.  And I would definitely do it again.)

Doorknobs.  It’s like they have hands and they reach out specifically to grab pump tubing.

That the phrases, “I’m pumped,” and “Pumped up,” would send me into a fit of giggles and smirks for the few months after the pump came in that big FedEx box.  Pumping has made puns even more delicious for me.

To add a syringe to my kit, just in case the pump malfunctioned and I needed to draw a dose from the reservoir itself.  (The syringe fits neatly into the top of the reservoir and you can draw back from it, just like you would a bottle of insulin.)

To get an insertion device right off the bat.  I spent two full weeks fussing with bent cannulas because I wasn’t manually inserting the sets correctly.  That QuickSet thing makes life much easier.  I have three of them in various places in my house, car, and office.

That I should be thankful for my breasts because they have successfully hidden my pump between them at many fancy functions.

Summer dress.Oh, and that thigh thing contraption that wraps around my thigh and has a pocket for the pump.  I own three of them and use them at least a few times per week.  They make dresses and skirts a snap.

That the tubing is resilient and strong enough to withstand the pump dropping from my hand.  But the tubing is not a yo-yo string and the pump cannot “bounce back up” if I give the tubing a snap.

That it is easy to disconnect and set aside. 

That calling myself “A Robot” to my nephew generated a laugh.  Same response from Chris.  And my mother.  And me, to be honest.

That both Chris’ niece and my beautiful nephew would nod understandingly when I referred to my pump as “my medicine”:

"Okay,” my nephew Connor said.  “Let’s go play zombies.” 

Chris’ lovely niece stared for a minute, then asked if she could wear my pretty diabetes bracelet.  (Which, of course, I let her.)

That I no longer needed to wear a watch because the pump kept such exquisite time.

That I could use the backlight on the pump in my darkened hallway at night when I’ve slipped out to the kitchen for a glass of water and need more than mental breadcrumbs to find my way back.

That pumping isn’t right for every diabetic and just because someone isn’t pumping doesn’t mean they aren’t taking the very best care of themselves.

That the little plastic cap that comes in the infusion set packaging was the best thing for me to wear in the shower and the ocean when I’m disconnected, and that (again), little kittens love those tasty things.

That wearing the pump and my bikini would be a pain in the ass, but I would still be on the beach every weekend of the summer.  And that the white infusion set would leave an equally white tan line when I moved the site around. 

That I could leave an infusion set in for more than three days.  And I wish someone had shown me how to refill a reservoir right off the bat.

That this shit is EXPENSIVE and to be prepared for exorbitant costs and battles with insurance companies.

That the little boop beep boop noise of the pump trying to get my attention would become something I said conversationally back to the pump.  Boop beep boop,” says the pump.  “Boop beep boop to you,” responds Kerri to the inanimate object. 

That Duracell batteries are crap and to not bother buying them, even though they were on sale at CVS and significantly cheaper than their Energizer counterparts.  Little did I know, they would be sucked dry within four days.   

That my body is still the same, except for this white plastic circle that is less than an inch in diameter.  Maybe it’s healthier.

That sex wouldn’t be ruined because of my pump.  That my partner would find my body desirable and sexy and wouldn’t be phased by the fact that I disconnect an insulin pump before we make love.  That I felt almost a little bit sexier because I felt like I was in better control of my diabetes.

That someone can say, “I love you,” and I know they mean every little bit of me, including my smile and my laugh and my ambition and my pump.  That the same person can also say that they don’t think about diabetes when they think of me.  They think of just Me.

That it would drop my A1c by a half a point within six months.Violets.

That it isn’t as big as I thought it would be.  I pictured something not unlike a toaster oven, clanking from my hip and sounding a siren when my bloodsugar was cresting out of range.  I wasn’t prepared for the little beeper sized machine that I could hide in my pocket.

That when people catch a glimpse of the pump, they might stare.  But I couldn’t blame them.  If I wasn’t diabetic, I would probably stare, too.  It helps to smile at them.

But I can’t mislead you.  Some days it feels like the pump accounts for most of my body.  Some days it doesn’t hide neatly in the folds of my skirt.  Some days it falls from my hand and bangs against the floor, tugging the tubing and causing the site to ache.  Some days the boluses burn and the sites ooze infection.

Some days I feel like I want to toss it against the wall and watch it explode into a thousand little pieces.  Some days I feel like I am exploding into a thousand pieces.

I wish I had known that wearing a pump didn’t make me “more diabetic.”  It didn’t mean defeat or acceptance.  It means that I decided to utilize the precision of an insulin pump to deliver my insulin.  It means I will be bonking it against door jams and tables and boyfriends while dancing.  It means I wear this device.  It means I feel strong and healthy and on my way to securing my future as a good wife and mother. But it doesn’t make me any less “Kerri.” 

Maybe it makes me able to be more.

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August 22, 2006

Superfriends, Take Two.

A while back,  The Anonymous Lurker Mom posted an open question in the comment section of SUM.  The online community responded with the compassion, resourcefulness, and honesty we're known for. 

There's now another de-lurker with a question: 

"Hi,
I'm a long-time lurker and new-time pumper. Actually, infant pumper. As in, one week (I’ve been diabetic for 15 years). I have a couple of questions and I’d appreciate practical advice.

1. How long do you actually leave your site in? If you leave it in longer than 3 days and you run out of insulin, do you just change/refill the reservoir without changing the infusion set?

2. I think I remember reading that you’ve used pen cartridges to refill a reservoir? I tried unsuccessfully to do that and then gave up because I didn’t want to waste any more insulin. But I also don’t want to waste my leftover cartridges.

Maybe you could do a post about things you wish you had known or had been told when you first started pumping? Not that you need ideas. I don’t have any diabetic friends, but I really enjoy reading your blog and the blogs that I found through Six Until Me. There is always something there that I can relate to. Superfriends

Thanks!
Em"

This is "Em" and she's a self-proclaimed pumping infant, having just started on her insulin pump this past week.  Looks like she's in hot pursuit of the real life, everyday bits of insulin pumping, from finagling an extra day on the infusion set to making the most of her insulin cartridges.  She's looking for practical advice.  And we're a veritable treasure trove here in the blogosphere. 

This is what we're here for, F.R.'s.  Let's help our newly de-lurked, infant pumping friend.

Capes en route.

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August 18, 2006

What’s on Tap for the Weekend:

I shall brave Route 95 north from Connecticut to Rhode Island during rush hour on a Friday afternoon.  I have packed a snack, dinner, a change of clothes, blanket, pillow, extra insulin, CB radio, flares, astronaut ice cream, pup-tent, and a map of every rest stop between Norwalk and home.

Enjoy a nice dinner with my friend Batman and our respective beaus tonight at Café Paragon in Providence.

Join forces with College Roommates and have an almost-end-of-summer hurrah at Johnny’s Atlantic Beach Club in Newport, RI on Saturday.

Watch as Chris amazes his cute little niece with newly-learned magic tricks.  (When we went to Toys “Backwards R” Us in NYC, Chris picked up a magic kit and has been practicing “wowing” me at the house.  So far, he’s made a pen disappear, he’s pulled loose change from my ear, and he’s made a matchstick suspend in midair.  He’s also stolen my heart, the fool.  And subsequently turned it into a rabbit.)

Figure out what the hell is going on with my bloodsugars.  My mNaughty Sausage.eter average has kicked up 10 points in the last week and a half based on these bizarre elevations in the morning.  Looks like a basal testing will need to happen on Monday.  This new work schedule requires a little more tweaking before I’m good to go.  As a sidenote, my fasting bloodsugars have been great lately.  Ranging from 88 mg/dl – 130 mg/dl, I’m very pleased with the way my mornings are starting.  Midmorning sugars … eh, they’ve been better.  I don’t like all these 200’s peeking their little heads in.

Format the PCP6UntilMe.  I’ve received many fantastic entries so far.  Deadline for entry is Sunday night at 6 p.m.  Email them to me to have your entry considered.  Remember, the theme is “The Fabric of our Lives,” and assuming I don’t get sued for ripping off the Cotton people, the PCP6UntilMe will be posted on Monday morning.

Teach S. Sausage a lesson:  Little Miss Siah has been climbing up onto the bookcases and eating my plants.  I know this because there are nibbles in every single leaf and a smattering of dirt with little sausage-sized footprints.  Punishment may include being squirted with a spraybottle.  Or being hugged. Startled Fat Abby.

And poor chubby Abby is just startled by the whole scene.  (Yes, I'm doing my best to get her to lose some weight.  My God she's massive.)  She just doesn't know what to make of the little Sausage.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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August 16, 2006

Eye of newt … pill of cinnamon …

Insulin is a given.  Every type one diabetic is addicted to the stuff, either by injection or pumped or inhaled. 

We don’t make it, so we take it.

However, there’s all this buzz about different supplements that can assist in diabetes management.  It’s being talked about in the blogosphere.  It’s the subject of my online chats with fellow bloggers.  And this information rolls across my desk here at dLife every single day.So what to make of it?  I know that there isn’t a magic cure for diabetes.  (There was this one guy from my old job who tried to tell me that a special chocolate shake every morning would cure my type one diabetes.  I mean, of course chocolate cures diabetes.  Foolish Kerri for not thinking of that on her own.)  I know that there is no substitute for insulin, but are there other tools that can make management a little bit easier?

I have already tried L-Glutamine and I was happy with the results of that little project.  Unfortunately the move to CT ended up losing Mr. El Glutamine in the shuffle, so I haven’t started taking that again.  Now that I'm working regular hours and sucking down coffee like a wild work beast, I'm picking more up on my lunch break.

Sounds like it lines pans.Then there’s the whole cinnamon debate.  Does it help?  Doesn’t it help?  Does it sound weird that I want to just break open the enormous supplement capsules and sprinkle them over a latte?

And what about good ol’ chrominum picolinate?  This is one that I heard about through work.  GNC will sell it to me for $15.00 a bottle.  Is it worth a shot?  (Ah, puns.) 

My new supplement since the move to CT has been a prenatal vitamin.  No, I’m not pregnant.  Nor am I planning on becoming pregnant (I can hear the frustration from some and the sigh of relief from others).  But prenatal vitamins are suppoNot Pregnant, thanks.sed to prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy, helping her achieve optimum levels of wellness.  Why wouldn’t I want that?  And, when I'm ready to start a family, my body will be extra-prepared.  Since I started taking the prenatals, I’ve noticed a change for the better in the health of my hair, skin, and overall feeling goodness. 

But maybe that’s the effect of not working in insurance anymore.  Point to ponder.

Have any of you guys in the blogosphere tried any of these?  I need some user feedback.  Before GNC takes more of my money...

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August 11, 2006

A dissertation on why my boyfriend should be cloned.

I changed my infusion set last night, moved it from one thigh to the other.  No big deal.  Except upon inserting the cannula into my thigh, I felt this icy cold feeling.

“Weird.  This is weird.  Hey Chris, this is easily the most bizarre feeling I’ve ever had from a set change.”

He stopped typing on his computer and looked over at me on the couch.  (The couch that should be in our living room but is instead stuck in our den.  More on that later.)Icy.

“What’s the matter?  Did it sting?”

“No.  This is strange.  It doesn’t hurt, but the bit where the little plastic tube is … it feels ice cold.  I can feel my pulse in it, like when you cut your finger and it throbs.”  The quiet, icy feeling was not enough to make me want to rip the set out, but I kept touching the plastic cap to make sure it wasn’t leaking.

“Are you feeling the insulin injecting?”

“I don’t know.  It’s strange, though.”

The night progressed and my bloodsugar, which was a sticky 200 mg/dl after leaving my pump off too long after the gym, had climbed to 313 mg/dl after the set change.

“I feel like shit.  I’m not sure if the insulin is even getting in my system.”

Quick trot to the bathroom to check for ketones.

“No ketones.  I’m not wasting this site.  I’m going to bolus hard for this and test in the middle of the night to make sure it’s working.  If I’m still high, I’ll rip the site and redo it.”

Lace in four units.  The icy feeling is gone now, for some reason.  We work on our respective computers for a little bit longer until it’s almost one-thirty in the morning.  I test:  265 mg/dl.  On the downslide.  I wonder if that icy feeling had anything to do with that persistant high?  Was something blocking the cannula?  Hmmm...

Tucked into bed.  Still no ketones.  Stick a sports bottle of juice on the bedside table.  Feeling exhausted from the extended high bloodsugar.  The sweaters on my teeth are revolting and I’m wrapped up my Red Sox t-shirt to protect me from the chill of my hyperglycemia.

Ah, sleep.

Three-thirty in the morning.

"Kerri.”  Shakes me gently.  “Kerri, wake up.”  A little harder this time.  “Kerri.  You have to test now.”

“Whaa… what’s the matter?”  I roll over and ignore his request, my sweaty forehead against the white pillow.

“You need to wake up and test.”

Propelled purely by learned instinct, I fuss open my black meter case and load a strip in.  Click of the lancet device.  41 mg/dl.

There is suddenly a bottle of juice in my hand and I’m throwing it back.  Lay back down.  He rubs my back as I wait for the juice to do its thing.  A few minutes pass.

“I need you to test again to make sure you’re coming up.” 

“No.  I drank the juice.  I don’t want to waste a test strip.”  Damn insurance.

“Okay.  I’ll wait up until you’re okay.”

And I drifted back to sleep, the fan whirrs beside the bed.  Abby and Siah lounging on the floor, flat like manta rays.  My boyfriend, always at the ready, keeping watch to make sure I’m okay. 

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August 04, 2006

Paper Cranes

Last week, I had a pretty sneaky low pounce on me while I was on the treadmill.  Readings have been steadily improving but aren’t back on track yet.  So I’m erring on the side of caution as much as possible.  This is resulting in many “dead test strips.”

My initial meter reading when I started my workout was 170 mg/dl.  The pump was stashed in my purse and I had a bottle of juice and my kit on the treadmill with me.  (Not running beside me, mind you, but in the little holder compartments.)  Fifteen minutes into my workout, I was 100 mg/dl.  That’s quite a drop.  Sip the juice, keep going.  At the thirty minute mark:  84 mg/dl.  Hmmm.  I’d rather finish my workout at 200 mg/dl then have to stop because of a low, so I finish the juice off.  Forty minutes:  113 mg/dl.  Spot on.  No problems.  Fifty-three minute mark … all of a sudden sweating like a maniac.  I was reading the closed-captioning on the TV screen just a few minutes earlier, but now the words are dancing along the bottom of the screen.  Headache.

We know where this is going.

Turn off the treadmill.  As the machine stops scrolling back, I prick my fingertip.  51 mg/dl.  Damn it.  113 mg/dl only thirteen minutes earlier.

Reaching into my kit, I grab the only money I have on me:  a one and a ten dollar bill.  Walking determinedly towards the juice machine, I notice that juice is two dollars in this (god-forsakenly expensive) Connecticut town.

“Excuse me.  Can you please break a ten?”

“Sure thing.  You want me to break it like I’m a ninja?  Put my hand straight through it?”  The guy behind the counter grins and means so well, making jokes with me, the New Girl at the Gym.

“It’s okay.  Just ones are fine.”

“I can make it into a paper crane.  Watch my paper crane.”  He starts to fold.  I lean on the countertop.  This will not be a repeat performance of the Showcase Cinemas episode.

The money shift under his hand and I watch as wings take shape.  I’m running out of time to wait.

“Listen, I’m a diabetic and I’m having a low bloodsugar reaction.  I need to buy some juice.  It’s okay.  Just please give me a dollar and I’ll come back for the rest of my change.”  I smile.  I’m not a completely hypoglycemic mess so it’s easier to be in control this time.

“Sorry.  Here.  Here you go.”  He casts his eyes down, hands me a five and five ones and I wander off to the juice machine.

I drain half of the bottle.  It’s going to be just fine.  A few minutes pass.  I test.  94 mg/dl.  Back on the climb.

I walk back over to the counter, where the man behind the counter is deliberately not looking at me.
“I’m sorry if I was short with you.  I just needed a hand.”

He didn’t look at me.Paper Cranes

“I appreciate your help, you know.”  I start to walk away from the counter.

“Hey.”

I turn around.

He gently places a paper crane made from a post-it note on the countertop.  Wings flutter from the ceiling fans.

“My cousin has diabetes.”

Continue reading "Paper Cranes" »

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August 02, 2006

Hot, Hot Heat.

Magical StuffInsulin is not a cure, but it is quite the magical substance.  Every single day, my body fails to produce its own insulin.  And every day, I am able to supplement my physiological failures with some nice, cool synthetic hormones.  Mmmm, delicious.

I’m very careful with my insulin supply.  I have the little white boxes neatly lined up in the fridge like my army of miracles.  I take careful note of the expiration dates and I always reorder on time.   One time, while I was in college, I dropped my last bottle of Humalog on the floor and it shattered into a million pieces.  I drove 2 hours to the closest 24 hour CVS to purchase a bottle out of pocket. 

I’m dedicated to the stuff.

Which is why this past weekend surprised even me.

Chris and I went home to Rhode Island for the weekend to visit grandparents and hang out with our friends.  A few of my College Roommates (there were seven of us) were heading to Narragansett Beach for some sandy shore festivities and I was running late (per usual) in joining up.

“I’m about twenty minutes away.”  The first sip of my iced coffee and a quick half-unit bolus on the pump as I waited at the stop light on Route 1 South.

“We are already at the beach.  Just park at the hotel and meet us down here.”

“Will do.” 

Drove like a maniac to the hotel.  Tossed the car into a spot, hung the parking pass in the mirror, and chucked my overnight bag (complete with change of clothes for later and all my medical supplies) into the trunk of the Jetta. 

My navy blue Jetta with black interior.  The one parked in the hot, hot July sun, no shade in sight.

Stupid girl.  Not thinking...

I spent all day on the beach without thinking much about my car.  There were other things to concentrate on, like trying not to kick sand up on other people’s blankets, playing in the Atlantic Ocean, and making sure my bathing suit didn’t suffer the consequences of the rough surf. 
A day on the beach laughing and talking and making plans for that Saturday night.  Around four o’clock, we walked back to the hotel and started calling dibs on who would shower first.

“I just have to grab my bag.”  I popped the trunk and retrieved my overnight bag.  The zipper was hot to the touch.   I still didn’t make the connection.

In the hotel room, I noticed that my pump site was completely sticky from sunscreen, sand and salt water.  I could barely get the infusion set to reconnect to the site.  Luckily, being ever-paranoid, I had the Quick-serter, a back-up infusion set and a bottle of insulin tucked neatly into my overnight bag.

A nice, steaming hot bottle of insulin.

Oh for crying out loud.

Almost a brand new bottle and I had cooked it.  Even worse, I didn’t have enough insulin left in the pump cartridge to freestyle for the rest of the night – the reservoir had to be changed.

“Moron,” I muttered to myself, sticking the bottle of insulin into the hotel fridge, hoping that the insulin would be magically useable if I just made it cold once more.  After a cold shower, I took the bottle from the fridge and began priming the pump.

“That wasn’t in your car all day, was it?” one of my Roommates asked.

“Yeah.”  I rubbed the IV prep on my thigh and waved my hand at it to dry it off.

“Is it still going to work?”  Roommate looked concerned.

“Here’s hoping...” Inserted the site, fixed-primed, and took a preemptive correction bolus.  “I’m 155 mg/dl now.  If my bloodsugar comes down, we’re back in business.”

“Otherwise you’re driving two hours to that CVS again, right?”

“Right.”  Flashed a hopeful grin.

About twenty minutes later, my bloodsugar eased down to a tight 100 mg/gl and my night of Fancy Dinner and drinks at the Coast Guard House was saved. 


Was this a fluke?  Shouldn’t this bottle be considered “ineffective” and tossed?  Why is it still working, to this day??  Has anyone else had their insulin supply survive an unfortunate turn of events?

Faithful Readers, insulin is a magical substance.  Not only does it sustain my life and keep my body running properly, it can also apparently sustain prolonged exposure to high temperatures.  It’s definitely not a cure, but it is tough stuff.    

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August 01, 2006

Grammie, Exist, and The Bird.

Updates.

First off, my Grammie is a fighter.  It turns out that a very large tumor was found but her medical team has decided to operate.  I'm not sure exactly how big the cancer is, but the term "bowling ball" was offered up.  The fact that she's still puttering around is a testament to how truly amazing my grandmother is.  So in a few days she will have this tumor and one and a half of her kidneys removed.  The surgery is long and complicated and requires some serious recovery time, but my grandmother is ready to fight.  I appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers.  Please keep my Grammie in your thoughts.  This woman means the world to my family.  We love her very muchExist August Cover.

I wish I had more time to update SUM but good ol' Life is keeping me very busy as of late.  Life and that freaking magazine.  That brings me to:  the August issue of Exist Magazine

You may notice that the webzine looks a little (read: completely revamped) different these days.  That's because Chris and I have had the pleasure of working with Alexis Gallisa of BlueTickDig on the new layout for Exist.  Basically, Alexis saved me from burning in the firey hell of CSS.  Take a spin through the designs on his website and appreciate that true talent is out there.  And, thankfully, his talent stopped by Exist for a spell.  Chris and I extend our biggest thanks possible to Alexis for all of his help.  In the meantime, be sure to check out the new issue of Exist Magazine - Now With More Wholegrain Oats.  Let us know what you think of the new look.

What else?  I had myself a rockin' Larry Bird 33 mg/dl at the gym last night.  I blame the fact that I bolused and ate before going to the gym as the trigger for this low.  Strange, though.  I was on the treadmill.  I did a quick and covert finger stick.  Result flashed up as "33 mg/dl" and for a second I was all cocky about it.  "Yeah," said Insane Mental Kerri.  "That's Larry Bird right there."  Then I became sort of dizzy, turned off the treadmill and chugged my juice.

Coming soon:  Paper Cranes do not treat low bloodsugars.

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July 28, 2006

Cobra Kai

I went to CVS last night to pick up my prescriptions:  my birth control and my (sigh … old lady) blood pressure medication.  Maintenance drugs, in addition to my insulin and pump stuff.  Necessary.  One to keep my blood pressure down and the other to … well, to keep my blood pressure down.

“It’s Morrone.  M-O.  First name is Kerri.  There should be two.”

The pharmacist shot me a grin.  “Thanks for spelling it.”

She riffled though the cache of white paper bags until she came to mine.  I knew it was mine because it had a huge red piece of paper clipped to the top of it, marked “COBRA.”

Oh for crying out loud.

“Um, Ms. Morrone?  There’s a problem with your medical insurance.  Looks like your COBRA plan isn’t in effect yet.”

“I don’t understand.  My previous employer told me things were all set with continuation of insurance.  I should be good to go until my new insurance kicks in.” 

Mentally assessing the situation:    Pump supplies?  Check.  Test strips?  Always tenuous, but check for the moment.  (Did I mention that my old job’s insurance company rejected my test strip claim, stating that it’s “not medically necessary” for me to test my bloodsugar more than four times per day?)  Monthly meds? Not so check.
 
“You need to call your COBRA administrator.  They can provide you with your account information and we can process this claim.  Do you want to pay out of pocket for these today and submit the bill later?” 

The CVS pharmacy lady is so nice.  I hope she finds a bag of gold doubloons in her car when she leaves work.  She deserves treasure.

“I’m going to try and see if I can iron out this COBRA thing first.  If not, I’ll be back tomorrow.”  Out of pocket costs of more than $100 just for monthly meds? 

The night progresses into the morning.  I spend much of it online dealing with the COBRA website, the Old Insurance Job HR website, and then first thing this morning on the phone with my COBRA administrator.  Turns out that my coverage election form wasn’t received, even though I mailed it out several weeks ago.  Coverage wasn’t “elected” until this morning.  Now I have to wait 30 days before I will even have a bill from COBRA.  And my coverage won’t technically be in effect until I pay that bill.  Which may not come for 45 days.  By that time, my dLife insurance will be rolling through.  And I know that I’m “covered,” persay, if anything happens, but I’m paying out of pocket for everything, only to submit bills for reimbursement once my insurance “goes live.”

So today I will wander back over to CVS and pay out of pocket for maintenance drugs.  I’ll put them at home with my other maintenance supplies; insulin, test strips, and pump gadgets.  Maintenance drugs. 

If this is the cost of “healthy,” I should start saving.

 

(Is it normal that this clip never fails to give me goosebumps?)

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July 19, 2006

HR 810 - Stem Cell Research

You are reading this blog.  That means that you are affected in some way by diabetes. 

It may be your children.  It may be your parents or your grandparents.  It may be the nice kid you sit next to on the subway during the morning commute.  It may be the author of the book you just read.  It may be the CEO of your company.  It may be your partner.  

It may be you.

Every minute of every day.  That’s how often diabetes affects life.  Every second is kissed by this condition.  While we all live every day with this disease, it is a tough journey sometimes.  So much effort to live normal, healthy lives.  And we do our best.  Our very best.  Taking each step with courage and determination and the knowledge that a cure could be within our lifetime.My 2006 medical bills as of July

Our lives are full.  We have successes and failures.  We have careers and make contributions to our society.  We are strong sons and daughters, mothers and fathers.  Our lives will not suffer the consequences of this condition without a fight.

And we’ll keep fighting. 

For at least another five years.

Because with one penstroke, Mr. George W. Bush pushed the cure for diabetes, and for many other diseases, just out of reach again.  He said the bill would have crossed a line and “once crossed, we would find it impossible to turn back.”  

I am not advocating the killing of a child.  I’m talking about saving one. 

And I don’t want to turn back.  I’m tired of the “Five More Years Promise.”  The possibility of a cure is a bitter taste I wake up with in my mouth.  I want my chance.  I am twenty-seven years old and I want my chance to experience my life without diabetes.  Diabetes will never quiet my ambition or temper my dreams, but it has the potential to shorten my life.  This September will mark my twentieth year with diabetes and I want nothing more than to feel strong and hopeful for my healthy future.

“In our zeal for new treatments and cures, America must never abandon our fundamental morals,” is the response he gave.  Our fundamental morals?  Protecting human life?

Mr. Bush, what about our lives?

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July 12, 2006

I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Gym.

Here’s the quandary:  I hated my old job.  HATED IT.  The stress was incredible and my boss was so tightly wound that he would have benefited from at least an afternoon nap.  So I found a new gig at dLife and quit the old chaos. 

Upside:  I enjoyed a few weeks off in May and June and became accustomed to a relaxed, beach bum sort of lifestyle.  I scored a very nice tan.  I was at the gym more often than not.  And my sleeping schedule morphed from “schedule” to “haphazard, at best,” sleeping whenever I felt like it and staying up all night sometimes.  It was like college again.  I knew this was (maybe) the last chance in my life to be so loose with my schedule.  So I was all about it.

Downside:  The lack of regimentation took it’s toll on me.  I wasn’t eating at standard times.  Dinner was oftentimes served at midnight.  “Morning” became a relative term, as I missed a number of mornings entirely.  I tested very often (per usual) and kept my boluses tight, but not keeping to a decent schedule set my internal clock to cuckoo.

Now that the dust is finally settling here in Norwalk, I am reclaiming some semblance of schedule.  I’m at work for a definitive set of hours per day.  I am eating meals at the same times.  After work, I’m at the gym by 7 o’clock and working out until about 8 p.m. 

And I’m rocking out low bloodsugars to the tune of almost two per day, ranging from an upper 65 mg/dl to the pitfalls of 38 mg/dl.  Symptoms are all in check (unlike what I was experiencing a few months ago) and they are most certainly kicking my ass.  These lows are intense.  The trembling hands, the waves of nausea/dizziness, and that “lost” look that Chris says I have when I’m low.  I’m crying.  I’m becoming intolerably grumpy and miserable during these reactions. 

I’m a mess.

And I’m consuming juice in mass quantities at the moment.  Two reactions per day adds up to many empty calories.  Faux-Fitness Kerri does not like empty calories.  She works too hard to keep her weight in check to give in to these lows.  She even does this in third person, as she’s noted. 

After downing a sports bottle of juice last night and recovering from a 47 mg/dl, I turned to Chris, tears in my eyes and a smirk on my face and said, “I can’t believe I ate the whole gym.”  I am consuming more calories than I’m burning during my workout.  I am eating my workouts these days.

I’m actively recording bloodsugars and doing my best to keep track of boluses.  I am attempting to test my basals but these lows are thwarting my efforts some days.  Over the next few days, I’m sure things will even out after some tweaking and I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled programming.

Until then, I’m keeping a bottle of juice by the bed.  And some alka-selzter.



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July 10, 2006

The Princess and the Pump.

Princess and the PeaA brief synopsis:  There’s this prince who is looking for a bride and he’s on the prowl.  Any woman up to snuff is a bona fide princess, and he’s not budging on that one.  He scours the countryside and finds no princesses.   

Slightly bummed – because he wanted a real princess pretty badly – he comes home and sits in his castle as a rainstorm thunders outside. 

Then, comes a knock on the door!  A woman, soaked to the skin and completely bedraggled, asks for a room for the night to wait out the storm.  She claims to be a real princess, but seeing her in such a disastrous state, the Prince’s maid scoffs. 

“Real princess, my ass.  Sleep on this bed and let’s see how you fare,”  and she puts but one pea on the boxspring and piles twenty feather mattresses on top. 

Next morning, the claimed-to-be princess doesn’t look much better for the night’s sleep.

“What’s the matter?” asks the maid.

“No offense meant, but I didn’t sleep a wink last night.  I kept tossing and turning but couldn’t get comfortable!  There was something in the bed that was so hard it has bruised my whole body!”

Everyone gasps and clasps their hands and the Prince realizes he’s got the Real Thing here because only the skin of a princess would be so fair as to notice a pea under 20 mattresses. 

So they get married.  And the pea is put on display in a museum.  And everyone lives happily every after.

Fast forward to last night:  Woke up in the middle of the night, so uncomfortable.  The skin on my back was tender to the touch.  Leaning up this morning, I reached around and felt my pump lying on the bedsheets, biting and burrowing into my back all night long.  It must have come loose from my shorts while I was sleeping.  There is already a blueish-yellow, baseball-sized sort of bruise.  The imprint of the tubing wrapped around my waist, the words “Medtronic Minimed” branded on my lower back. 

Feeling much like the princess with fragile skin.  And a little whiney, to boot.

I can't be the only one who has woken up with their pump wrapped around them like a boa constrictor.

And do boa constrictors have some sort of vendetta against princesses?

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June 18, 2006

Getting Groovy

Sunscreen?  Check.

Bathing suit?  Check. 

Blanket?  Check.

Day off from work and finally no freaking rain?  Check and check.

Earlier this week marked my first visit to the beach of the season.  Blue skies, bathing suit rescued from the depths of the suitcase we took to L.A., and my infusion set sitting snugly against my right thigh, we traversed to South County, RI and enjoyed a day at the beach.

While we laid out on the blanket and talked, I noticed how little and white the infusion set looked.  Stark contrast against my tanning skin.  And so dreadfully medicinal. 

Then I remember those little "patch" things I had read about on The Diabetes Blog and on LaLa's HiLo Blog... Groovy Patches.  I had mentioned them in my last dLife article about pumping at the beach. 

I was intrigued.  Groovy Envelope

So I emailed the President of Groovy Patches LLC and she was extremely kind and accommodating in providing me with a few Groovy Patches of my own to try out. 

They came in this lovely packaging (yes, that is my thumb with the nail bitten into oblivion).  I tore into the envelope like a kid at Christmas. 

The concept is this little circle that covers the white infusion set patch.  I received twelve different designs, including tropical fish, flowers, flames, a leopard pattern, and stripes.  You just peel this little sticker off, line it up on your pump site, and reconnect the pump. 

So here's the "Before" shot, Pre-Groovy Patch.  (Yes, those little dots are my infusion set marks.  I love a good thigh site.  And I also love a good tan, because in about a week, those little suckers will barely be noticeable.)

Pre-Groovified

And here's the "After," once I had been properly Grooved.

Officially Groovified

I'll be the first one to admit that I don't care much for flashy pump cases and I chose the most basic colored pump.  Most of the time, my pump is completely hidden in a pocket, a bra, or a MacGyvered gizmo, but at the beach, I wear it in public.  It's out there. 

These patches make my normally mundane and medicinal pump site a little more fashionable and fun. 

I'll admit it:  I felt groovy.

Has anyone else checked out these patches? 

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June 08, 2006

MacGyver Morrone.

Little black dressIt was short.  It was low cut.  It was ever-so slightly slinky.

It was the opening gala for the Newport Film Festival and the dress code was "a little bit dressy."

Seriously, when can you go wrong with a little black dress?  It always looks classy and simple and suitable for almost every occasion.  I had a beautiful one from Ann Taylor in the closet.  Just grab a pair of black heels, some sparkly (fake) jewelry, and slip into that dress.  No problem.

... No problem until I went to slip into my Something Most Comfortable: namely, my pump. 

Most often, I don't have problems wearing a dress and the pump at the same time.  Usually I tuck the pump safely between my ... in my bra and that's the end of it.  Or I utilize the thigh thingie that straps around my leg and has a little sleeve for the pump. 

This dress, however, was too low cut to hide my pump discreetly in my bra and the damn thigh holster wasn't cutting it.  (I think the velcro in that foolish thing is clogged up and is un-velcro-y now.  Damn it.) 

I debated forging forward with the bra attempt and started planning answers:  "Yes, it's very nice to meet you.  I loved your film.  Um, yes.  I was born half robot but I usually don't speak of that to strangers," or "I'm actually taping this conversation with my boobs," or "I, too, enjoy injecting hormones.  Seriously.  I'm hooked."

I couldn't do that.  Besides, the little peeking loop of tubing clashed with my necklace.

I tried to set the pump in the waistband of my underwear, but that proved to be both nearly impossible and completely visible under the form fitting bodice of the dress. 

Damn it, damn it.

I had no long acting insulin at the house.  I didn't want to disconnect and be forced to test and piggy-back boluses all night long.  I wanted to wear the pump and get on with it.

The Solution?:  I rigged up a little contraption using the clip on straps to a convertible bra (thank you, Oh Secrets of Victoria), the case from the thigh holster, and the tiniest piece of duct tape.

The pump stayed put.  The film party patrons were none the wiser.

And MacGyver's got nothing on me.

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May 26, 2006

The Boy at the Health Fair

I'd guess about ten years old.  Spikey blonde hair, pale blue eyes, chubby little kid face.

His mother stopped by the table we were manning at the School Health Fair, mussing with the pamphlets strewn about the blue plastic tablecloth.  The tri-fold cardboard display announced "Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation" in bright blue letters.  Myself and another volunteer from the RI JDRF stood vigil at the table, handing out trinkets and informational packets, answering questions, and enjoying the sights.

"Hey buddy.  Would you like a t-shirt?"  My fellow volunteer leaned in towards the little blonde boy.

"Sure.  Thanks."  Shy blue eyes.

Turning to the mother, my partner asked, "Does anyone in your family have diabetes?"

She waved a green sweatshirt clad sleeve at her son.  "Yeah!  He does!  He has diabetes."

He looked at the floor and contemplated his untied sneaker. 

His mother laughed loudly and clapped him on the back.  "Some days he talks about it and some days he doesn't.  Today he just ain't talking!"  She picked up an issue of Countdown Magazine and flipped through the pages.

"Here's your t-shirt."  Pale blue eyes met my own.  "I have diabetes, too, you know."Lost in the Crowd

"Really?"

"Yeah.  I have an insulin pump."  I pointed to the pump clipped inside the pocket of my khaki skirt.  "I've had diabetes since I was about six."

"I've had it since I was seven."  He smiled and fingered the plastic sleeve around the blue JDRF bracelet.  "It's okay... so you have it, too."  He looked at all the other volunteers at the other booths. 

After a beat:  " You look just like the rest of them."

I stood there after he and his mother walked away, toting plastic bags filled with health fair goodies and JDRF magnets and pamphlets on bloodsugar management.   His blonde head blended in with those of the other kids until I couldn't find him in the crowd anymore.

He looked just like the rest of them.

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May 15, 2006

Starbucks.

She waddled up to me, breathing entirely from her nose and leaning heavily on the countertop.

“Excuse me?  I just had a C-section a few days ago and I’m not feeling very well,” She blew her nose on her handkerchief.

Not CheapI was waiting at the counter at Starbucks for my pretentious grande-sized (read: medium) non-fat chai tea.  Three dollars and fifty cents.  About the price of a gallon of gas.  What a racket, this coffee thing.

“Um, … okay.  Are you okay?  Do you need help?”  I asked.

“Yeah.  My husband works over at the courthouse and I need to call him but I left my cell phone at home and there isn’t a pay phone anywhere near here and I can’t walk very far.  Can I use your cell phone?”

“Sure thing.  Let me just go over to my table and grab it.  It’s right over th…”

She frowned and gestured towards my jeans pocket.

“No, your cell phone?  Is that okay?”  She blew her nose again and pointed again at my pocket.  Where my pump was clipped.

“Oh, this isn’t a cell phone.  Listen, my cell phone is right over there and I’ll just go grab it…”

She frowned again.  “It looks like a cell phone.”

“It’s not.  It’s an insulin pump.  I’m a diabetic.”

Raised eyebrow.

“Instead of taking insulin injections, I wear this device and it routes the insulin into my body directly.  Much easier than all the shots.”  Smiled to diffuse the situation.

Silence from my C-Section Friend.

"I like it. Never seen one of those before.”  She blew her nose again. 

I trotted off to retrieve my cell phone and she waddled off to make the phone call to her husband.  As her phone conversation escalated and the entire Starbucks heard her hollering at her husband at the courthouse – “I had a freakin’ C-Section for your enormous baby and all I want is for you to come and pick me the f*@% up!” – I smiled at the opportunities to educate others that diabetes affords me.

It’s cheaper to educate than to buy a cup of chai, that’s for damn sure.

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May 09, 2006

Seeing D.C. : The JDRF Walk on the National Mall

Team PictureOur t-shirts, silently shouting "Bailey's Buddies!", were courtesy of the artistry of Jake's six year old hand.  A bright electric green, we stood out among the thousands of walkers on the National Mall. 

Just before the start of the walk, a voice asks from behind me, "Excuse me, are you Kerri?"

I turned around and had the pleasure of meeting Kevin (you know him from the comments sections of the blogs!), his beautiful wife and their little dog.

"Hi!  I'm Kevin!  I recognized you and Chris from the blog."

It startles me every time how strong this community is, even when we mostly haven't met one another in person.  Someone I've never met before comes up to me, recognizes me from the blog, and I'm so happy to see them because I know them from their comments.  Meeting Kevin - who is very cool, with a fantastic beard and an easy smile - reinforced why I blog in the first place:  to make sure that we're not alone with this disease.  Not for a second.

About 30 people strong, the Bailey's Buddy Team walked proudly away from the Capitol Building, towards the Washington Monument.  Jake spent the first few minutes of the walk giving Chris and I a version of a tour.  The dialog went as follows:

All the people"Kerri, I want to introduce you."

Me, wondering who a six year old wants me to meet, replied, "Sure thing, Jake."

"I'd like you to meet (with a flourish of his little hands) The Capitol!"

A bit later, as the Washington Monument came into view, Jake tugged my sleeve again.

"Kerri, I have something else I want you to meet!  Meet ... the Washington Monument!"

I tried not to giggle out loud, so instead I grabbed Chris's arm and said, "Hey Chris!  Have you met the Washington Monument!  Jake would be more than happy to introduce you."

Jake trotted off to show the status of his pedometer progress to his mother, as she pushed a sleepy Bailey along in the stroller.

Chris and I walked on with pride, stopping to talk to Kevin, having the pleasure of meeting Kerri at the WalkMegan (who worked for the D.C. JDRF) and her husband, and the countless other walkers who were there to support Bailey and her family.  Such a caring, enthusiastic group, coming together to support the search for a cure for Bailey.  For me. 

For all of us.

And I look forward to the day when I can tug at someone's sleeve and introduce them to a building.

"I'd like you to meet ... the Joslin Diabetes Clinic!  I used to have to go there. 

But I don't have to anymore."

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May 08, 2006

Seeing D.C. : The Magnitude of Museums

Saturday morning dawned and we woke up from the most comfortable bed on the planet.  (Dear Marriott, You have the best king size beds of all time.  If we could have gotten away with stealing it, we would have.)

Quick breakfast at the hotel and off to meet Dee and Co. at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  Having met Dee and his family once before in Boston, it was like greeting old friends. 

There's nothing quite like lunch with a six year old child.  While we all ate our lunches, Jake treated us to his take on the Revolutionary War.  And then his feelings on the Civil War.  And the Egyptian pharaohs.  The concepts spilling from this little boy were nothing short of brilliant.  He knew everything.  I watched as Chris stopped chewing for a few minutes and just stared at Jake, wondering how all this information fit into such a tiny kid.  Pausing only to help count the carbs in the Doritos for Bailey, Jake was the best historical tour guide in the city.

insulinAfter making our plans to meet up for the walk tomorrow, Chris and I broke off from the Herman's and made our way through the museums. 

Neither of us has been to D.C. since high school field trips, so this sojourn back to Washington marked our First Adult-ish Adventure.  Walking through the museums, I came across a number of poignant images of tragedies and triumphs from the past:  WWI, WWI, Vietnam, the atom bomb, an exhibit dedicated to the eugenics movement, the inaugural gowns of the First Ladies, the ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, the original Kermit the Frog, and the first bottle of synthetic insulin ever developed.

The museum was almost silent, despite the dozens of people moving in the rooms around me.  I Pentagon Flagwalked into a room that was dimly lit, save for a spotlight on two enormous steel beams, buckled in the middle and as thick and wide as tree trunks.

A picture of the second plane exploding in the World Trade Center Tower as the first tower burned loomed, enormous and silent, behind these beams rescued from the trade center towers.

And I was struck by the knowledge that everything in this museum happened.  The wars I saw depicted on video screens and represented in still photographs happened.  Vietnam happened.  WWI and WWII happened.  Atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened.  Just as the terrorist attack on September 11th happened.

My mind was screaming.  The magnitude of what these museums preserve hit me with such force that I had to sit down.  Clutching my purse against my chest, all the faces I had been staring at for the past hours suddenly bloomed into real lives, with families and hopes and dreams.  Staggering numbers like "48,000 killed" became more than just statistics:  these numbers all had faces.

It wasn't until he came up behind me and touched my shoulder that I was able to stand up again.  The weight of my realizations heavy against my mind.  Life is so short.  So truly short.

I looked forward to Sunday's walk on the National Mall with such pride. 

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May 04, 2006

Happy First Birthday, Six Until Me.

I existed for six year before diabetes came into my life.   I don’t remember much before I was diagnosed – all of my memories have been touched in some way by this disease.  I went to every birthday party as a kid with my trusted stuffed animal and my black zipper case blood testing kit by my side.  I remember every day in elementary school starting with my mother waking me up and testing my bloodsugar.  I remember injections in the kitchen before we had summer dinners on the back deck.

It’s not sad that things are this way.  It’s just how life is.

What is sad is that for a period of time during college and just afterwards, I felt like I was the only diabetic for miles.  I knew there were others out there, thanks to Clara Barton Camp, but I was ten plus years away from camp and hadn’t talked with another diabetic in as long as I could remember. 

In my apartment on a sunny May afternoon, I sat at my desk next to the bedroom window.  Switched on the computer.  Googled “diabetes.”

The page filled with a litany of links, urging me to take fastidious care of my feet, be sure to schedule annual eye exams, and discussing the benefits of testing my bloodsugar at least four times per day.  Organizations like the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation cropped up, along with countless medical and research articles.

I have had diabetes for most of my life.  I knew the essentials and then some.  It wasn’t that this information was useless to me, but it was mostly clinical and statistical and besides, who were these people writing this stuff? 

Where are the people with diabetes?  The ones who have it?  The ones who wake up every morning and deal with the daily maintenance?  The ones who have glove compartments filled with Smarties candies and caches of used test strips in the corner of every room?  The ones who don’t view juice as nutritional sustenance but instead a life-saving medical treatment?  The ones who know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with the daily tasks? 

Elated at a bloodsugar of 112 md/gl after eating Chinese food?  

Ecstatic at an A1c drop of 1 percent?

These people were writing blogs.  And there were a handful of d-bloggers when I first started searching.  Tek.  Violet.  Kathleen.  Amy.  Scott.  I’m sure there were a few others, but these were the first that I found.  Reading their experiences and feeling an instant sense of comfort and community with these wonderful people, I knew I wanted to do what they were doing.  I wanted to blog, too.

A year ago today, I started “Six Until Me.”  One fledgling post, perfectly blended with the hope that someone would find me and the fear that someone would find me.  One post that ushered me into the blogging community.  One post that confirmed for me, almost instantly, that I wasn’t alone. 

In self-celebration of my one year anniversary, I’m switching over to my own dot com.  Six Until Me.Com will be the link for this blog going forward.   The blogspot address will remain active for the archives.  If you have my site linked from your own, I would appreciate it if you would update your links!

Thank you.  To each reader.  To each commenter.  To each quiet lurker.  To each fellow d-blogger.  To each person who has changed me.  To each person who has emailed me and made me smile. Thank you to my wonderful family.  And my boyfriend, who inspires me. 

Thanks to each and every one of you. 

Now when I Google “diabetes blogs,” there are so many voices out there to be heard.  We most certainly are not alone.

Continue reading "Happy First Birthday, Six Until Me." »

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