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Diabetically Speaking

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January 2011

I Thought I Thaw an Ophthalmologist

I did, I did, I did thee an ophthalmologist!

I went to the ophthalmologist for the first time in three years today. I’m so good about keeping my appointments with my endo, but the other appointments just seem to get neglected more than respected. Maybe it’s because they aren’t prescribing me insulin. In any case…

It wasn’t without reason that I haven’t been to the ophthalmologist in three years. After a few visits, my last eye doctor and I were no longer able to see…um, eye to eye. I remember the day well. It was a sunny day in south Florida (like so many of them), and I had left work early to go to my annual eye exam. I went through the usual steps of signing in, getting my vision screening, eyes dilated, and squinting at the TV to try and read the news ticker with blurry vision. Always a fun game in the eye doctor waiting room. Finally, I went back to see the doctor, and he proceeded to look in my eyes with his little bright lights and explain to me how us people with diabetes just don’t take care of ourselves and it’s our fault for being in the shape we’re in. He continued to tell me that I had spots on the backs of my eyes from diabetes retinopathy that were leaking and cataracts. I was 28 years old, and had lived with diabetes for 26 of them.

Unlike John Boehner, it’s hard to make me cry. I have a tendency to throw up walls and block things out. But that appointment managed to get inside my walls, and I broke down. The technician couldn’t get a picture of my eyeball to put in my file because of the tears. That visit was a disaster, I was a failure, and I had just been told that my failure was nobody’s fault but my own. No wonder PWD’s struggle with guilt.

The sun was bright that day, so I sat down in the lobby after my appointment to wait for the sun to go down a bit more before driving home with my eyes dilated. That’s when I got to thinking. My A1C was in the 6 percentile. I was 175 pounds and put over 200 miles a week on my bicycle. I didn’t smoke, and only drank on rare occasions. I kept regular appointments with my endo, and wore my lab numbers with pride. How dare that doctor blame me for my diabetes! Which was about the time I marched back to the exam rooms and set the record straight for him in front of his staff.

So three years passed without my going to another eye doctor appointment.

At a recent diabetes meet-up, a friend recommended me to her eye doctor. Seeing as how my good glasses are broken now and I’m wandering around in my backups with their scratched lenses and all their glory, it was time to try it again, so I bit the bullet and made the appointment.

Today was a completely different experience, and for that I am so thankful. My vision screening went well (20/50 in both eyes without glasses, 20/20 with). Everyone I met at the doctor’s office was very polite, patient, and respectful. They answered my librarian brain fueled list of questions without showing any signs of annoyance or judgment. My new eye doctor understood the differences between the various types of diabetes, and was very encouraging. He did find a couple very minor spots on both eyes, but no leaks and no cataracts, and he said that I have nothing at all to be concerned about, especially not for someone who has had diabetes for 29 years and taken care of it like I have.

Sometimes it feels damn good to have someone pat you on the back and say, “Good job!”

Plus, I got a prescription for new glasses now, and I’m going to save my pennies and reward myself with a pair of these…

Livestrong Glasses
Oakley Black Livestrong glasses...yes please!

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A Tale of Two Pumps

Once upon a time, in the land of Diabetes, there was a person named Martin. This stunningly handsome and striking specimen of a man had endured the variety of ways to treat and manage the kingdom of Diabetes his entire life. Having been abandoned in Diabetes at the wee age of two years old, he had lived through the olden days of determining blood sugar by careful aiming his sword at magic strips that could tell him the range of his blood sugar level.

Magic Strips

Back in those days, Diabetes was managed quite differently than it is in our modern day. Similar to the race between the tortoise and the hare, two different kinds of insulin were used in relay to get our budding hero through the day: One a fast-acting rabbit-like insulin aimed at beating the gangs of sugars and carbohydrates at the beginning of the day, and the other a turtle-paced insulin made to finish out the battles as the day grew long. This type of managing Diabetes seemed to work reasonably well for a good number of years, until the evil dictator Adolescence descended upon the land and threatened to throw the whole world into chaos.

Adolescence would attack with severe low blood sugars, often resulting in visits to the dreaded land of Hospital, where to this day inflation runs wild and it takes nearly a lifetime to escape. As Adolescence continued its terrible reign of…um, terror…our fearless hero Martin teamed up with his trusty wizard, Endo, and called upon the forces of Multiple, Daily, and Injections. Armed with the power of MDI, Martin was able to defeat the evil Adolescence back to the twisted realm of Puberty, and for many more years peace once again ruled the kingdom.

But alas, peace was not meant for a lifetime. As the years wore on, Adolescence’s cousin, Adulthood, came to power in the realm of Puberty and declared revenge on Martin. Adulthood struck suddenly and deliberately, causing seizures, confusion, and shaking from fear. Adulthood would attack at even the most innocent of times, during exercise, vacations, trips to the market, and even during sleep. Adulthood screamed from the mountaintops, “Hear me Martin, your MDI is no match for my wrath!”

Tired, nearly defeated, and not knowing what to do, Martin turned to his trusted wizard and said, “Endo, I just can’t do this anymore. I try so hard, and feel like I’m doing everything right, yet Adulthood still manages to outsmart me in this land of Diabetes.”

Endo knew Martin’s heart was pure and true, and that his will could never truly be beaten. With a mighty wave of his staff, the Rx Pen, Endo conjured a beast like no other. Formed from the power of lightning, the miracle of insulin, and the technology of the future, Endo presented Martin with a new tool for fighting Adulthood in Diabetes…the Animas 1250 insulin pump!

Animas 1250

With the Animas 1250, Martin was not only able to bring peace back to the kingdom, but he was also able to partake in the joy of eating at odd times, sleeping until midday on the weekends, exercising without having to eat more calories than burned, and even indulging in the occasional late night ice cream.

Yet, Adulthood would not go quietly into the pages of Diabetes history. Watching and learning how the power of the Animas 1250 was wielded, Adulthood planned its attacks carefully and maliciously. Adulthood would test the weaknesses of the Animas 1250 by introducing a slow and steady low blood sugar, fooling Martin into believing that nothing was wrong.

Finally, after Martin had spent a long day toiling in the fields, Adulthood struck in an attempt to finally capitalize on its long-awaited revenge. With a severe low of 33, Adulthood knew that its time had come to capture the throne.

Yet our fearless, well-groomed, and attractive hero was prepared. As Adulthood celebrated its victory and marveled at its use of a Larry Low, Martin fought back the surprise attack with the spirit of the swamp, Gatorade! Adulthood cowered in defeat, outmatched by the sugars and electrolytes in the magical potion.

Although Adulthood was defeated once again, Martin realized that the Animas 1250 was no longer the superior weapon in the Diabetes fight. Martin once again turned to Endo for a solution. Endo, who had locked himself away in the Diabetes research labs for years in anticipation of this day, with a mighty wave of the Rx Pen, revealed a new pump from the technological land of Medtronic…the MiniMed Revel!

MiniMed Revel

To this day Martin and the MiniMed Revel rule the land of Diabetes with a plastic grip. Partnered with the built-in omniscient Continuous Glucose Monitor, the influences of Adulthood on the kingdom of Diabetes have been mostly kept at bay, with only an occasional uprising. However, no one in the land of Diabetes can forget the low blood sugars that almost kept them from these prosperous times. Anticipating the next time Adulthood tries to rise up, the people of Diabetes vow to always remain a community, to support each other, to be Friends For Life, and to never give up in the fight for a cure, when Diabetes and Adulthood can finally live free from one another.

D-Coaster Day 2011

VENUE CHANGE! …as of May 16, 2011.

D-Coaster Day 2011 (JPG)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 9:00am EST

Set your calendars! Make your travel arrangements! Get ready!

I am extremely excited to announce that on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 9:00am EST members of the DOC and their families are invited to join together at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida for the 1st ever D-Coaster Day!

Update: The venue has been changed because Disney’s Magic Kingdom will allow for more people to attend D-Coaster Day than leaving Disney property and traveling offsite to Universal Studios. Magic Kingdom provides three family-friendly roller coasters (Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain), as well as a variety of other shows, rides, and experiences. For those staying at the Coronado Springs Resort, you can get to Magic Kingdom via Disney bus, free of charge.

I am working with the Magic Kingdom to make sure that those of us with special needs are taken care of on that day. After all, it is July, in Florida (read: It’s hot.). For more information about what to wear and bring with you, check out the Magic Kingdom Guest Relations page.

I’d like to get a better idea now that we’re getting closer to the date (and since the venue has changed) of who will be able to attend. This will help with my discussions with Disney’s Guest Services department. I have reset the comments below, so please message me on Twitter or leave a comment below if you will be attending (and what time you will arrive, if not at 9:00am EST), so that I can add your name and contact information to my list. It will not show up below, but when you leave a comment, please also enter your email address in the appropriate field so that I can contact you with updates and if there are any questions. No matter what time of day you arrive, I am arranging a way for you to meet up with other members of the DOC once inside the park, so don’t stress if you can’t be there at 9:00am EST when we bust through the gates at Magic Kingdom.

Also, you can leave a comment below if you have any questions. I will respond, and if appropriate, post the Q&A here for others to benefit from.

——————————–
Question: Are all people with diabetes welcome?
Answer: Yes, anyone with or without diabetes is welcome to take part in D-Coaster Day. All are welcome.
——————————–
Question: Is this event part of the Friends For Life: Children With Diabetes conference?
Answer: No, this event has no affiliation with the Friends For Life conference. This is a completely separate event.
——————————–
Question: What if I am arriving later than 9:00am EST? Can I and my family still be a part of D-Coaster Day?
Answer: Yes, absolutely. All of the folks who confirm their attendance by commenting below will be given a cell phone number to reach a member of the group once inside the Magic Kingdom.
——————————–
Question: How much do tickets cost?
Answer: As of May 16, 2011, regular priced tickets to Disney’s Magic Kingdom are $87.33 for ages 10 and older. Tickets for ages 3 to 9 are $78.81. You may be able to get discounts if you are attending the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life conference. Click here for more info.
——————————–
Question: Is there a list of who will be joining in on the D-Coaster Day fun?
Answer: See below. List will be updated as people confirm.

  1. Martin Wood (+1)
  2. Karen (+1)
  3. Courtney
  4. Kim
  5. Jess (+1)
  6. Michelle (+3)
  7. Scott Strange
  8. Jacquie
  9. Caleb (+4)
  10. Brian
  11. Heidi
  12. Sara

A Pain in the Abdomen

Some days diabetes is, for all intensive purposes, easy. Blood sugars stay in range, we feel good, no infusion sets go bad, and we can eat whatever we want, dose accurately, and live happily ever after.

And then there are days like last Friday. Blood sugars spiking into the 200’s for no real reason. Then just a touch of insulin sends things plummeting to below 70. Back and forth, to and fro, round and round the mulberry bush, and all that jazz.

I spent all day with my BG’s bouncing around like that, riding the proverbial “glucoaster” until the wheels nearly fell off. I got home after work completely exhausted and agitated from correcting the highs and feeding the lows all day. I had a total of two cups of oatmeal during the day (breakfast and lunch), and I’m pretty certain that it’s the new pizza for me. I dumped the entire container, and added it to the list of “Things my diabetes has a shit fit about.”

To try and relax, I decided to take a hot shower and just clear my head. It was almost time to change my infusion set anyway, and I like to be so fresh and so clean when I put a new one in. Once done, and feeling a little better, I removed the old inset and got ready to insert a new one. I’ve been trying to get more comfortable with using the auto inserter, or as I like to call it, “the harpoon thingy”, instead of manually inserting a new infusion set. Supposedly it’s less trauma on the sites to use the harpoon thingy, but I’m not convinced yet.

So inset loaded in harpoon thingy…cocked…3…2…1…CLICK.

Blood went EVERYWHERE.

For the first time, for me, I actually struck gold…er, red…with a brand new inset. I hadn’t even gotten the backing removed yet so that I could make it stick. I’ve had gushers in the past, but usually at the end of an inset’s life when I remove it and the site is irritated. This was new, and all over me, the counter, my pajama pants, all under and around my CGM sensor, and I think even the cat got sprayed a little (sorry kitteh!). Apparently I was pressurized.

Gusher with backing

So I tried again, with a brand new inset. Ask any pumper, it’s frustrating to waste those things. It’s money going down the drain, and even with insurance, they aren’t cheap. But, hard to use a pump without something to connect it to.

Second inset loaded into harpoon thingy…cocked…3…2…1…CLICK.

At this point, I felt like I should bust through somebody’s wall like the Kool-Aid guy and yell “Oh yeah!” because fruit punch was all over the place. Another gusher, this one fortunately restricted to just all over me.

Oh Yeah! - by stallio on Flickr

I was so frustrated. I cleaned up the mess, then took to Twitter and let the venting commence. That’s the great thing about the DOC, we’re always around. I just couldn’t bear to stick myself again after having failed twice. I’ve been doing this for years. What was I doing wrong? One gusher is an event, but two in a row?! That’s an anomaly.

I took a break. I needed a minute to chill out, and breathe, and not throw anything. It took probably 20 minutes, but I finally worked up the resolve to try again. Third time is the charm, right? I chose not to use the harpoon thingy on the third try. That was the one variable that hasn’t been traditional to my new infusion set process over the years. Call me old school, but if I’ve got to stab myself, I’d rather it be by my own hand and not by some plastic spring-loaded contraption. I also moved to a completely different area, wondering if maybe there was bruising or something going on underneath the surface of the former sites that was causing the gushers.

Third time worked just fine, and I breathed a sigh of relief with the realization that I could finally hook my pancreas on a string back up to my pincushion body after nearly an hour of it being unplugged. Oh goody, another high BG to correct. But at least I COULD correct it now.

It took me a couple of days to find the courage to put a new CGMS in, after the issue with the harpoon thingy for the infusion set, and my stomach still being sore from the repeated stabbings of Friday evening. With all we do to avoid painful complications of diabetes, sometimes living with it can be painful as well.

But I’m still thankful that I can LIVE with diabetes, despite having to live with diabetes. Even if it is a pain in the abdomen sometimes.

2011 Goals & Resolutions

To me, there is a big difference between a resolution and a goal. In my mind, a resolution implies that something needs changing, like a bad habit that needs breaking. A goal, on the other hand, aspires to be something greater. I’m a believer that if you put something in writing it serves as a reminder, holds you more accountable, and is an investment in others being able to support you along the way.

So here are some of my 2011 goals and resolutions.

Goals
1. A1C <= 6.2. Less would be good.
2. Run (not walk) a 5K.
3. Start cycling with a group again, and get back into organized & scheduled rides.
4. Like everybody else on the planet, drop a few pounds. Goal weight: A stable 165 lbs.
5. Pay off at least two debts.
6. Have an adventure…regularly. Take pictures.

Resolutions
1. Wear my CGMS 24/7/365, and stop taking 2-3 day breaks in between sensor changes. (I could have titled this one “Stop being stupid Martin” but I felt I should be more specific.)
2. Realize that it’s okay (and encouraged!) to spend money on diabetes supplies before other bills.
3. Go to the ophthalmologist and dentist at least once this year.
4. Find excuses to exercise, instead of excuses not to.
5. Remember that any day can be a “No D-Day” if you want it to be.

3 Stooges - Going for the Goal
Go for the goal!

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