Monday, May 23, 2011

Highs and Lows

While trying to compose my thoughts for this post, I felt like I was all over the place with things I wanted to say, but I did pick up on a theme: highs and lows. Not just in specific reference to type 1. 

On the diabetes front: At the beginning of last week, I was under a lot of stress, which, for me, means highs. By Tuesday, I was tripling my insulin rate and still couldn't come down under 140. It's a vicious cycle of being stressed in my personal life and then going high, only to then stress over the numbers I'm seeing on my meter. A kind of circular reasoning takes place and it takes hours or days to break it. After I got myself back under control, I had a great week and weekend numbers-wise, only to have a site go bad today. Note to self - if the infusion site itches and burns, pull it out because you're not getting your insulin! And of course, this happened when I'm not wearing my continuous glucose monitor. Sometimes a girl needs a break from her machinery.

A great weekend: Anthony and I had a full weekend that started out at the Charlie West Blues Fest in Charleston. Great show, great friends and a great time! Saturday, we saw the new Pirates movie (a good pick if you liked the others) and Sunday we caught up on some much-needed yard work. After breakfast, we washed our vehicles, went for a run, grilled out, trimmed hedges, mowed, cut down a dead rose bush and then I "helped" at Anthony's first soccer practice. By the time we finished all of that and got home, it was almost 8. It was a busy but fun day. And I didn't have any major low sugars, which was a high point!

And just because I want to share: To the "dude" who works on the second floor of my office building...your white-guy fro, bicycle riding and style of dress all make me think that you are probably a hippie. I am intrigued by the way you leave your office door open as if our building is a college dorm. However, thanks to your odd door habit, I get to listen to your music choices after work everyday. Death Cab, REM, Garth Brooks, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, jam bands...I just never know what I'll hear walking from stairwell to stairwell. I must say thank you for giving me this interesting afternoon guessing game!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

JDRF Walk for a Cure Review

The Good:
First off, I'd like to thank our great friends who donated to our Walk Team - we set a first-timers goal of $100, but due to your generosity, we ended up at $200! Thank you for donating, and when a cure is found, you will have been a part of the all-important research process.

There were an estimated 500 people at the event, which set a goal to raise more than $129,000. Their numbers aren't in yet, but I'm willing to bet they made it.

The Not-so-Good
All of that said, I am sad to admit that I was disappointed with the event organization on many levels. Weeks before the event, I emailed the local branch to ask how I could volunteer three times. All I got in reply was one email asking me to sign up as an advocate for the Children's Congress. (My husband and I both signed up.) 

Very little information was made available before the Walk. We received an email telling us to arrive at 12:15 p.m. for photos, but when we arrived at the registration booth, no one seemed to be able to tell us where to go for the photo-op. Three tables and twenty minutes of wandering later, we finally found an answer. Since the walk wasn't scheduled to start until 2 p.m., we had some time to kill and spent it at the adjacent Cruisin' for a Cure Car Show, which was fun. But, as far as Walk-hosted activities, if you weren't under the age of twelve, you didn't matter. There was a bouncy house, a clown, face painting and all sorts of fun kids' activities. Which was great - all the kids there had a blast. BUT...every announcement, note and sign was about kids with type 1. No mention was made of all of us there who were adults. (And when we finally got to start the walk, there was so much confusion about the course that people were going in three different directions at one intersection.)

Why Does it Matter?
This is prime time for public education! Here's the kicker - at the event, I heard someone say: So, how old do you have to be until it's not Juvenile Diabetes anymore? There was so much opportunity for advocacy at this event, and it was lost.

While I support the cause, I was let down by the execution.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blog Week #7: What We've Learned

As blog week ends, we have been asked to say what we learned from other bloggers in the diabetes online community (the d.o.c.).

The things I have learned from fellow bloggers in the past week, and long before that, are too numerous and profound to name. The d.o.c. is a place to gain perspective, comfort, ideas, humor and so much more.

I could never name all the reasons I'm glad to have the d.o.c., so let me just say THANK YOU to all of my online "friends" who inspire me everyday. It was wonderful seeing the camaraderie this week and I've now picked up even more blogs to follow.

On another note: I'd also like to thank our wonderful family and friends who donated to today's JDRF Walk for a Cure. While the experience was not exactly what I expected (more on that this week), it was for a great cause, and I'm thankful for all of your donations.

And one more note: A big congrats to my husband who graduated this weekend with his MBA. I'm so proud of him!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blog Week #6: Snapshot Saturday

Mustard, ketchup, taco sauce, eggs, insulin...the usual.

My supply closet. Very organized after spring cleaning!

Glucose tabs next to the alarm clock for middle-of-the night lows.
Fruit punch and orange are the best!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blog Week #5: Awesome Things

Let's take a look at the bright side - being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes has come with some perks. Every finger prick, shot, pump-site change and SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess) insulin dose comes with a balance of learning (on a bad day), gratification (on a good day) and wonder (where the F did that number come from?!).

Here are some of the finer points of diabetes:
  • I love being right.
    Exhibit A: my three-hour readout after a lunch of beef stir-fry, fruit and a handful of almonds.
  • Learning about nutrition. Most people eat what they want and don't think much about it unless they are trying to be healthy or lose weight. Diabetes and insulin pumping have taught me a lot about the delicate balances in meals - carbs, proteins, fats, fiber - and how they all work together and affect the absorption of glucose into cells and the bloodstream.
  • Real food is way better than sugar free. A lot of non-D people eat sugar free because they think it's healthier. It's really just chemically enhanced. I learned the hard way that "sugar-free" treats are, first, not really "sugar-free"; and second, made with sugar alcohols. You remember when Olestra hit the potato chip market and the problems that caused to peoples' digestion? Yeah. Sugar alcohols do that, too.
  • Having a really good reason to exercise. Aside from the obvious benefits to overall fitness, exercise is also instrumental to keeping blood sugar regulated. I can tell a big difference if I take more than a few days off from physical activity.
  • I honestly believe I am healthier because of my diagnosis. I pay attention to details I never bothered with before, and would probably still ignore.
  • Having cool technology is a must. At any given time, I am carrying no less than three pieces of life-saving technology. My insulin pump, my glucose meter and my continuous glucose monitor are almost always with me, and in two of the cases, actually attached to me. While carrying all of this stuff can be cumbersome, it's tolerable when I think about how much easier they make my life.
  • Other bloggers. I have learned so much about diabetes and life in general from all of the other people who have put their stories into the world wide web. The diabetes online community is a great place of learning, camaraderie and venting.

Keep on the sunny side!

Eggs - 2 carbs, 31g protein!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blog Week #4: Wild Card Post "Outside the Box"

Today's Blog Week post was supposed to be "Ten Things I Hate About Diabetes." However, since I did my own Top Ten List a couple of weeks ago, I'm picking a wild card today: "Thinking Outside the Box" to produce something creative.

So, while many talented bloggers will probably express their "outside-the-box" posts in inspiring and much more creative ways, I have decided to take this post verbatim and show you something "outside-the-box", literally.

Yay for new shoes! Anthony and our good friend Jacob have decided to take up the Couch to 5k training program and I am tagging a much slower pace, a few laps behind. The program seems do-able, and should be a great way to help shape-up my layer of chub A1c number. (FYI, non-D readers, the A1c test is like a report card for your blood sugar numbers, averaging from the last few months.)

For the record, after our first two sessions, I still hate running. It is definitely an outside-the-box activity for me! Wish me and my shoes luck!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blog Week #3: Bloopers

Funny/embarrassing moments thanks to my diabetes:
  • During an excruciatingly boring meeting, my insulin pump fell out of my pocket and banged on the chair leg. The entire room jolted upright and later said they were glad for the distraction because everyone was dozing off. 
  • When my pump was hidden in my cleavage and notified me that my blood sugar was low by buzzing and lighting up, someone said "Why are your boobs glowing?"
  • Saying "I'm high" and having someone take it the wrong way.
  • The many times I've had to explain that my insulin pump is not a pager/phone/iPod.
  • Or better yet, having my friends jump in with something like "she's a robot" or "yeah, it's a pager since this is 1995" 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blog Week #2: A Letter to Me

A letter to myself, the day before diagnosis.

To me, on December 31, 2004...

Your life is about to change.

Right now, you are celebrating because you fit into those jeans even though you know you shouldn't be losing weight. You're drinking champagne at a New Year's Eve party off campus and really want to chase it with a gallon of water. You woke up last night with terrible leg cramps and your pinkie fingers were tingly all day yesterday. By tomorrow, it will all seem so obvious.

You will cry. You will ask every new doctor who visits your hospital room if the last one was wrong. You won't understand, and you will mourn your state of oblivion. Your parents will mourn, too, and you will cry for their guilt too. Because it's not anyone's fault. You'll learn that type 1 is a numbers game. Dad will get it pretty quickly, as will you. Mom is worried, as she usually is, and overwhelmed - cut her some slack.

When you call Anthony from the hospital, know that he'll be scared too. When you get back to campus, he will look at you like he's trying to figure out if you're okay. Tell him you're okay, because it's the truth. The day you get back to campus is the first day you'll see a normal blood sugar number, so you're feeling pretty confident by now. You will give your future husband his own crash course, and later, your roommates and your friends...and you will feel better knowing that those close to you know what you're dealing with. You will learn about all of this together. They will all look out for you.

Don't get bogged down by the worries and the what-ifs. You will learn so much about yourself. You will learn about nutrition and all of the nuances of how food is used by your body that it will become second nature to you. You will have days when your blood sugar is high for seemingly no reason and you will take too much insulin out of sheer anger that you will then have to treat the resulting low. You'll get the hang of it, most of the time.

Tomorrow, your life will change. But, I promise, you'll be just fine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blog Week #1: Admiring our Differences

Before we get into the differences among the diabetes community, let's have a quick overview of what happens in our bodies.

When you eat, your body absorbs the nutrients in your food and takes them to various places in your cells. One of these nutrients is a carbohydrate. Carbs are turned to glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream, and are then taken into your cells to be used as energy. Insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas, acts as a key to unlock your cells and allow the glucose into your cells. Without adequate insulin (type 1) or without cooperation from your cells (type 2), glucose will stay in your bloodstream and build to dangerously high levels. This is the root definition of diabetes.

The basic types of diabetes can be broken down as follows:
  • Type 1, in which the pancreas produces little-to-no insulin. Type 1s must take insulin through shots or insulin pump therapy to replace it in their body. The amount of insulin required by each person is different based on weight, age, diet, activity level, etc.
  • Type 2, in which the body gradually loses its ability to effectively use its own insulin through either poor usage by cells or insulin resistance. This can be treated through some combination of diet, exercise, oral medicines or insulin shots. Each individual's treatment is personal and varied.
  • Gestational diabetes, in which a pregnant woman develops some degree of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Generally, pregnant women are placed on insulin therapy for the safety of their fetus. High glucose levels during pregnancy can lead to large babies and birth defects. Although pregnant women with any kind of diabetes are classified as high risk, they can have normal, healthy pregnancies as long as they monitor their blood glucose closely.
  • Latent Autoimmune/LADA/Type 1.5, in which an adult develops a combination of symptoms from both types 1 and 2. These symptoms can be slow-onset like type 2 and may eventually adopt the appearance of type 1. Patients with this form are often misdiagnosed.

Although there are many different types and treatments, we all have the same goal: to have healthy and normal lives.

As I admire our differences, I see that it doesn't really matter what type you have or what treatment you use, as long as you do what you need to do to stay healthy.

*A note to anyone who found this post from the D-Blog list: I realize this isn't 100% on topic, but since this blog is new, I thought this would be a good topic to personalize and use as a tool for my friends who read but may have no idea about diabetes. While I absolutely admire all the bloggers I read, I felt a post about them might be lost on my readers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

2nd Annual Diabetes Blog Week

DBlogWeek2011ButtonNext week is the Second Annual Diabetes Blog Week. From May 9-15, diabetes bloggers across the web will be participating in this event organized by one of the blogs I have followed for some time, I've been reading other people's blogs for several years now, and am excited to be able to participate now as a blogger.

Each day features a themed writing prompt, designed to show different perspectives on some common issues facing the diabetes community.

Here's a preview of what you'll see here next week:
  • Monday, 5/9: Admiring our Differences
    • The differences and similarities in the diabetes community - types, treatments, goals, etc.
  • Tuesday, 5/10: Letter Writing Day
    • Write a letter to someone/something involved in your d-life. It can be a doctor, your disease, parents, spouses, medical devices, etc.
  • Wednesday, 5/11: Diabetes Bloopers
    • Funny moments inspired by your screw-ups.
  • Thursday, 5/12: Wild Card - Diabetes Art
    • Step "outside the box" for creativity.
  • Friday, 5/13: Awesome Things
    • Great things you've done or learned since your diagnosis.
  • Saturday, 5/14: Snapshots
    • Photo day
  • Sunday, 5/15: What We've Learned
    • What have you learned from others in the diabetes community?
I hope you'll follow D-Blog Week with me, and also, please remember that next Sunday May 15 is the JDRF Walk for a Cure. Please give what you can for this great cause.