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Diabetically Speaking

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June 2012

Diabetes Supreme

Today there is cause for people with type 1 diabetes and other pre-existing conditions to celebrate. The Supreme Court ruling confirms that people with diabetes (PWDs) will retain protection from insurance discrimination, and parents can rest easier knowing that their children with diabetes will be covered for life-saving diabetes supplies until at least age 26, when they can get their own insurance without fear of being denied because they are insulin-dependent. Sure, the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but it’s one step closer to not having to fear how we are going to get that next vial of insulin, test strips, and other necessities to stay alive. We can rest assured that diabetes won’t prevent us from getting health care, because diabetes is a big reason we, people with diabetes, need health care to begin with.

USA Flag

Bullets: Rat-a-tat Tat

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. And working. And traveling some more. If my counting is correct, this past weekend was my 8th trip somewhere out of town in the last two months, after weeks of prepping for said travel, and I still have one more trip to go.

8 Fingers

I’ve forgotten what weekends at home are, but if those mythical creatures still exist, I’m certainly looking forward to one someday soon. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and so much that I want to share with all of you that still read my blog and haven’t given up on me while I’ve been M.I.A. the past few months.

Overall, the past several months have been a success, made up of both work and diabetes, and including a lot of reading, thinking, meetings, planning, traveling, juggling, tightrope walking, backward and forward somersaults, and as much fun as there has been time for in the three ring circus that is my life these days. Here are just a few highlights:

  • I took a trip to Seattle, Washington for the Medical Library Association conference. I had never been that far west or north before, and it was a mind-boggling and delightful experience. Jet lag sucks though.
  • I attended the inaugural Students With Diabetes National Conference in May, and it was one of the most incredible three days with diabetes that I’ve had in my entire life. Ever. I’m still processing my thoughts on it, but what is being done with Students With Diabetes and Bringing Science Home is nothing less than life altering.
  • After working every day (and night) since the end of February to plan a statewide meeting of medical librarians, I was elected President of the Florida Health Sciences Library Association. I’m extremely proud of and excited to lead this group to some grand things for medical libraries in Florida over the next year.
  • I’ve finally decided that I’m all in for D-Ink. I just have to find someone who has the skill to draw what I want. Will share my thoughts on that process, which may appeal to some of you who are also considering D-Ink.
  • New diabetes technology is out and about, and I’m drooling over it. However, with every new invention to improve the lives of people with diabetes, there comes a list of challenges.
  • Traveling and eating out so much has left me still struggling with my weight…again. It’s a recurring theme, really. I wanted to be lean by Friends For Life this year, but alas, that’s next week, and I don’t see myself losing the equivalent of a toddler between now and then. I’m exploring some options of what to do about it, and trying to figure out how I can get into a routine that isn’t so detrimental to my bottom line, so to speak.
  • Through everything, I’m still working to stay on top of my world with diabetes. 60% of the time it works every time. Wearing my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) on a constant basis is still probably my biggest diabetes challenge, for a host of different reasons.
  • Also, I’ve spent some time recently shepherding someone near and dear to me who is newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It has left me with a lot of thoughts about how we, both as patients and parents of children with diabetes, react to change and the news that our transmission has decided that it wants to be a “stick shift” rather than an “automatic.”

More to come on all of this, but I’m just excited to get back to writing and sharing and communicating with everyone again.

Here’s a picture of me and Sara at the Students With Diabetes National Conference. See also: Poster children for Type 1 diabetes. (You read it here first.)

SWD - Sara & Martin - May 2012

Level Up

A recurring theme in my diabetes world is running low. I can function normally with a blood sugar down to the mid-40’s most of the time, and not even realize it. That’s called blood sugar unawareness. It’s also dangerous.

Low blood sugars have a way of sneaking up on me. I finally figure out something is wrong when all of a sudden I’m unable to focus, or my mouth is running 90mph but the words aren’t making sense anymore, or I’m trying to communicate but can’t get any words out at all, or my mood swings from normal to highly agitated and upset for no reason, or I’ve sweat through my clothes and am a shaky mess.

Most days I wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), which alarms when my BG drops too low. Most days, it even catches it in time. However, there are days that I go without my CGM, which is dangerous, stupid, and quite honestly, a total waste of money. Those CGM sensors are not cheap…at all!

When I was a kid, I was stupid and I guess I thought I was invincible, because I would run off to play or with friends and never carry anything to treat a low with me. It’s a wonder that I survived, as active as I am and as busy as I’ve always been, from childhood to adult. I don’t even want to know what my A1C must have been when I was flying by the seat of my pants like that.

After 31 years of Type 1 diabetes, and a lot of lessons learned, I don’t go anywhere without something to treat a low. I’ve got glucose tabs on my car keys. I’ve got juice boxes in my refrigerator. I have a stash of low blood sugar remedies in my nightstand drawer. In fact, I’ve probably got something to treat a low in every room of my house, every bag I carry, in my car, and in every drawer of my desk at work.

There’s a new product that I carry with me everywhere now. It comes in a pouch, and it fits in my pocket, in my BG kit case, in the easy access velcro pocket on the outside of my messenger bag, in my gym bag, in the back of my cycling jersey, in my car, and I’ve even managed to stuff one in my shaving kit for when I’m traveling.

Level Foods

I’m talking about Level. Level is a pouch of glucose gel, 15 grams of carbohydrates in each, that are perfect for me to treat a low blood sugar with…anywhere. I can swallow it easy when my mouth won’t cooperate, it opens easy so that I can rip it open with my teeth if necessary when my hands are being clumsy, and it’s delicious, unlike most other glucose products I’ve choked down in a moment of low blood sugar desperation. Level is available in four flavors: Mandarin Orange, Caramel, Strawberry-Banana, and Vanilla.

One thing that most people with diabetes (PWD’s) who run low can appreciate is that, when we are low, it’s a lot more fun to treat that low blood sugar with something delicious than it is to force feed ourselves with something that nobody would eat on a normal day. That is one thing I like about Level pouches. Treating a low with something that tastes like mandarin-orange, strawberry-banana, caramel or vanilla really isn’t so bad.

My advice: Try it. It’s worth a shot to not have to eat a handful of glucose tabs, at least for one low. Tell the folks at Level that you read about it on Diabetically Speaking, and they’ll throw in a bonus! Just enter diabeticallyspeaking at checkout on their web site, LevelFoods.com, and get 20% off any purchase of $25 or more. Pretty sweet! (Pun kind of intended.)


Now, this is the disclaimer part. I am in cahoots with the company that makes Level. They really didn’t have to push me very hard to get me to say good things about their product. I really wanted to share with those of you that read Diabetically Speaking because it works for me, it doesn’t taste like I’m eating chalk, and I can actually get into it when I’m having a shaky, clumsy, can’t quite get my body to do what it’s supposed to kind of low. It’s pretty much a life saver in Martin’s diabetes world, but in the effort of honesty and integrity, I’m divulging that not only am I a Level fan, I’m also a customer. So there. Remember, enter diabeticallyspeaking at checkout at LevelFoods.com, and get 20% off orders of $25 or more.

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