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Diabetically Speaking

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February 2011

The Difference A Day Makes

With the exception of a couple lows in the past few days, my blood sugar levels have been exemplary lately. I mean, in serious 2011-goal-A1C-of-6.2-or-better getting contention. I have my CGM rates set to alarm if I drop below 70 mg/dl or spike higher than 160. Just the other day I was 20 minutes (not units…MINUTES) away from getting a no-hitter in that tight range. The stupid dawn phenomenon managed to thwart my efforts in the early morning hours with a CGM reading of 165 around 4:00am before dropping back down to normal, preceded by an ever so slight low around bedtime the previous night. Vengeance will be mine!

CGM Almost No-Hitter
My Almost No-Hitter

On Saturday of this past weekend I went to the gym, something I’ve started recently as part of a one month trial with a gym here in my neighborhood to get back in the habit of exercising regularly. I’ve been hitting the weights, trying to get my muscles to wake up and remember what they are there for, and the past couple visits I’ve added cardio back into the mix.

Cardio plays all kinds of tricks on my BG’s, usually with sneaky lows during and sometimes hours after the actity. I have had issues in the past of pushing myself too hard while exercising, especially cycling, and seeing numbers on my meter that are too low for me to continue, so the CGM really helps me and allows me to correct problems before they get out of hand. The CGM is another valuable tool in my arsenal that I use to control this diabetes beast within, and on Saturday it was working great.

The thing about cardio is that I sweat…a lot. I get into it, get my heart rate up into that aerobic calorie burn zone, and really push my limits. I enjoy the stationary bike in the gym, and I challenge myself while trying to hold a particular cadence (rate of pedaling) or speed for a certain amount of time on the bike. It’s an absolute blast for me to rock out with my iPod in my ears while conquering a ride intensity level that I’ve set into the computer of the bike. It’s not as much fun as a real ride, but for training and gym work, it keeps my attention.

So I did my bike work on Saturday, got home, and after a rest I realized that the sticky on my CGM sensor was just barely hanging on after all the sweating and training. I went ahead and removed it, as it was starting to irritate me, and since it was late I decided to take the night off before putting a new one in. That was stupidity on my part, and not the first time I’ve done it.

On Sunday morning I woke up later than ideal to get ready for a family event that I needed to get to, and I was in a rush and didn’t take the time to put a new CGM sensor in before I left the house. I went about my business at full throttle all day, and didn’t take a break to eat anything. By the time I finally got around to eating something for an early dinner, my BG was 43. I sat there cramming carbs like it was my job, and didn’t bolus enough to cover them. On top of the that, I’m trying really hard to ween myself off of carbs, so my body seems to be very hypersensitive when I do eat them, causing my BG’s to spike through the roof. By the time I got home and settled a couple of hours later, my BG was 292.

Both the low and the high could have probably been avoided, or at least better acted upon, had I taken the time to put a new CGM sensor in immediately after removing the old one. This is a challenge that I seem to continuously battle. I love it when I have the CGM, and I am a bit of an addict about keeping my BG’s within normal range. I’ve been doing SO GOOD! But once in awhile I convince myself that I need a break, and I take it, and then I regret it when my BG’s decide to go all random on me, with a stubborn high here and a severe low there, which was what happened on Sunday.

One day with CGM and I can keep my BG’s in tight control and quickly react to changes in blood sugar levels, whether they start to sneak up from an inaccurate count in carbs or drop from excessive activity.

One day without CGM and I have severe lows and highs that make me feel like I’m the world’s worst at managing diabetes, guilt trip included.

One day, I’ll learn.

In Spite of Diabetes

I am part of the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy community, and each Wednesday night we have a live chat via Twitter where we answer questions and discuss topics relating to life with diabetes, followed by a live internet radio call in show on BlogTalk Radio on Thursday nights. The following blog post is the newest diabetes advocacy initiative of DSMA, the DSMA Blog Carnival. Each month a question will be featured, and participants are given the opportunity to expand on the answer with a dedicated blog post. Here is my contribution for February 2011.

“The most awesome thing I’ve done in spite of diabetes is…”

Everything that I can ever remember doing in my life has been in spite of diabetes, and it is a laundry list of awesomeness. That is what makes this post a challenge, because I don’t have the perspective that some others have of a life before and after being diagnosed with diabetes. My life is simply “with diabetes.”

I remember being a child in elementary school and seeing my friends eat candy bars and gummie bears, drink their little juices, trade snacks, and even barter for Moon Pies. On Halloween and Valentine’s Day they would bring in candy and trade, or hand out candy canes at Christmas. I would always accept the candy, and be part of the group, but I’d never eat it. I would take it home and it would get tossed in a drawer or a basket, and eventually find its way to the garbage due to old age. I didn’t feel out of place or like an oddball during those days. It was just the way it was. I didn’t know any better, and quietly accepted the way things were.

As an adult, I don’t accept things quite that easy. Where some doctors or diabetes “experts” say that you have to limit yourself because of diabetes, I ask, “Why?” I find absolutely no logical reason why I have to limit myself to anything in this world that I want to achieve strictly because I have diabetes.

As an adult with diabetes, I have become a cyclist, pedaling thousands of miles on my bike and keeping up with people both younger and older than me in quests for a finish line that is often many miles away.

I have become a librarian, teaching people how to find information that they can use to do everything from satisfy curiosity to save a life.

I have become an adventurer, exploring cities like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New York, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C. without limits.

I have become a contributing member of the Diabetes Online Community, a blogger, a voice, and a soldier in an army of People With Diabetes.

I have become ME, and that is the most awesome thing that I have done in spite of diabetes.

Five Boro Bike Tour 2010 - New York City
Five Boro Bike Tour 2010 - New York City

 

This post is my February entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2011/introducing-the-dsma-blog-carnival.

Secrets

Recently, Kerri wrote a post over at Six Until Me that opened up an opportunity for people to share secrets that they keep relating to life with diabetes. The comments range from common to surprising, and from lighthearted to heartbreaking.

Because the diabetes online community is abundant with talent, I am often touched, impressed, and entertained by the perspectives shared via Twitter and other diabetes blogs. We take time out of our lives, our families, our jobs, and our leisure to share with the world our successes and struggles with diabetes.

But we don’t share everything. Kerri’s post and the comments on it are proof of that. We all live with secrets that reside in the shadows of our lives with diabetes, some of which we don’t want to admit to anyone, even ourselves.

We share all the time about how we can handle diabetes and still do anything we want and have a normal life. That is true most of the time, but sometimes living with diabetes comes at an emotional cost beyond the co-pays and deductibles.

Secret

This morning my blood sugar was skyrocketing northward for no reason at all. Even though I was hungry, I skipped breakfast because of the spike, but it just kept climbing. Finally, around mid-morning (and the mid-200’s) while sitting in a class, I got a good whiff of that band-aidy odor we know so well, and I looked down to see a wet spot on my shirt. I went to the bathroom, thinking my pump tubing had just come unplugged from my inset, and after making sure it was attached and dosing again for the high blood sugar, it was still leaking insulin everywhere.

I had changed my inset and refilled my pump this morning before work, and I’ve done it hundreds of times and I know I did everything right. But it wasn’t right, because I didn’t have the sense enough to check it earlier when my BG’s were rising for no reason in the first place. I had put work and progress ahead of me and my diabetes, and the diabetes monster was letting me know it.

I was in the bathroom, with insulin and the guilt of a stupid high blood sugar that I should have caught sooner all over me, and I was missing a training that I had been looking forward to for two weeks. I now had to go back to my office, fish out my backup pump supplies from my desk, and start all over. I leaned over the sink, looked in the mirror, and tears of frustration were running down my face. It was only for a moment, and it wasn’t the end of the world or a complete Shakespearean tragedy. In fact, it was quite small and insignificant compared to what others sometimes have to deal with. It was just more than I could deal with at that moment.

I tweeted lightheartedly about what was happening, but I couldn’t share my real frustration. I kept that secret. Sometimes we just want things to be easy, and with diabetes, so often everything feels harder than it should have to be. But we’re strong. We pick up the pieces, put them back together the best way we know how, and we make it work.

We don’t have to be perfect. Life with diabetes isn’t perfect. Life with a pulse isn’t perfect either. It would do us a lot of good to remember that when we’re kicking ourselves over our diabetes.

As Bruce Wayne’s trusted butler Alfred best puts it, “Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.”

A Type 3 Valentine

I have been harassed gently and repeatedly encouraged to write about my Type 3 for awhile now. I struggle with this, for multiple reasons. Okay, really only one reason: I don’t have a cool nickname for her. I want to call her A-Flizzle and make her sound gangsta, but I’m going to try and keep it real and just call her my girlfriend, Amanda.

I’d like to say that she is a Type 3 in training, but that wouldn’t be an accurate description exactly. We’re all in training. I mean, who really knows everything about diabetes…ever? Maybe just those doctors that say there will be a cure in five years. They seem to know everything. Until about 20 years later, when you realize they were full of baloney. But that’s a different blog post.

Amanda (aka, A-Flizzle) used to live near a friend who had diabetes. They would be out and about together, and she often found herself carrying a BG kit around in her purse. I think that is probably when she first started her Type 3 training. Fortunately, she never had to learn about the nitty-gritty details of diabetes life itself. As I’ve written before, us PWD’s can be very good at hiding our disease when we want to. For years I was one of them, and still am in certain situations.

One thing that I’ve been making an effort to do is to not hide my diabetes anymore. It doesn’t necessarily define me by itself, but it is a big part of who I am. I could hide it, and that is my natural instinct sometimes, but with age and time I find myself often asking a simple question about hiding my diabetes…why? It would be an absolute travesty to need help with a low blood sugar at some random and inopportune time and the people around me not know what is wrong with me or how to help me. I am an advocate for diabetes, and a major part of that is increasing awareness, educating others, and being a real live human bean that is trying everyday to show this disease who is boss.

With A-to-the-Flizzle, I’ve never once had to hide my diabetes, or any aspect of it. She accepts that I’m bionic with my pancreas on a string. She doesn’t find random gadgets attached to me as being signs of weakness. She doesn’t always know what I’m feeling, or what is going on when I say “I’m low” or “I’m high,” but she’s learning. Aren’t we all?

The CGM has been a real asset in her learning about my diabetes. She recognizes the beeping, and asks “What’s your pump saying?” I appreciate when she asks, because it’s an opportunity to connect my disposition (grumpy, tired, hungry) with my BG level. Sometimes they are related. But not always. That’s diabetes.

I live close enough to my CGM that I can usually tell what it’s saying just by the tones of the beeps it makes. Amanda hasn’t quite learned those yet, but she will (like when I’m sleeping and my CGM is yelling and screaming at me to wake up). In the meantime, she’s along on this diabetes journey just like me. She knows that if I say “I’m low, I need _____,” that it’s no joke. She’s learning that if I say, “I’m high,” it generally comes with a feeling of nauseousness, grumpiness, and all around lethargy.

The awesome thing about Amanda is that she accepts me AND my diabetes. One of my biggest fears is that someone might see me and the ugly side of D (like a severe low blood sugar) and hold it against me. From experiences I’ve had with others, I know that it is hard for a non-diabetic to not blame us for what this disease can do to us, even when we have the best control. They care about us, and hate to see us completely powerless, and natural instinct and lack of understanding wants to point the blame at someone. But it’s rarely someone’s fault; it’s someTHING’s fault. That thing is diabetes.

So this Valentine’s Day I wanted to share with all of you about my Type 3. I can have a great day with diabetes, and she cares. I can have a terrible day with diabetes, and she still cares. She never holds my diabetes against me, and I know that as long as I don’t give up, she won’t give up on me either. We should all be so lucky.

Martin and Amanda

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