BG meter

Big Success

Geek, Party Of One

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 27: Quote Unquote. Grab a quote from this site (type in any word – see what comes up!) and use that quote to set your writing.NHBPM_2011_Day27

“The twenty-first century will be different. The human species, along with the computational technology it created, will be able to solve age-old problems of need, if not desire, and will be in a position to change the nature of mortality in a postbiological future.” – Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines

One of my favorite bands, Our Lady Peace, released an album in 2000 titled Spiritual Machines that was inspired by concepts from the book “The Age of Spiritual Machines” by Ray Kurzweil. After hearing the album, I was as intrigued as the guys in the band, and had to dig a little deeper.

There are many quotable passages in the book, and in different scenarios it appeals more than others. I make no bones about the fact that I am a tech geek. I love and live technology. I can spend way too much time keeping up with tech news, advancements, and creative ways that people use technology to solve real world problems. This book was right up my geeky alley.

If you have diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes, you probably walk around with a myriad of technology at any given time. This does not speak to everyone (or every type of person with diabetes, YDMV), but it isn’t unheard of to hear of someone walking around several devices attached to them or nearby that are helping them to make decisions that keep them alive.

I’m an example. I have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that gathers information from a flexible sensor residing just under my skin and a wireless transmitter. My CGM is integrated with my insulin pump, and helps me to maintain better control with my blood glucose (BG) levels by tracking trends so that I can see when my BG is rising or falling.

My insulin pump is connected to me via a similar type of cannula, though this one is linked to my pump via a nearly three foot tube. My insulin pump, powered by battery and programmed to my individual insulin needs, doses very small amounts of insulin around the clock through that tube, with bigger doses occurring when I eat a meal or have a high BG that needs correcting. I also carry around a standard issue fingerprick BG kit that tells me what my BG is at any given time with more accuracy than my CGM alone.

I have other, more multipurpose pieces of technology that I use to help me manage my life with diabetes as well. I have my cell phone (smartphone) and iPad that I use to look up carbohydrate info, keep in touch with the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), and search for other info that I might need on the fly to better manage my diabetes. One of my favorite apps to use when carb counting is the Go Meals app, especially when I go out to eat.

I feel like, in many ways, Kurzweil’s vision of a 21st century where computational technology is used to change the nature of mortality has already come true, though we still have miles to go before we sleep. When I was diagnosed with diabetes over 30 years ago, the information and data that we have today was simply not available. Now, we can figure out how many carbs are in a meal at a restaurant by the time a server can return to the table with our drink order. The swiftness of information is only going to get better, and the quality will continue to improve as well.

I’m excited to see what is next with technology used to live with and manage this disease, and how our world with diabetes will continue to evolve. I believe that one day there will be a cure, but until then, I am thankful that technology keeps improving to keep us alive and well until we get there.

Big Success

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

The Beach

The Beach

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 22: Be present. Describe something peaceful with as much sensory imagery as you can. What are the sights, sounds, scents, and feelings?NHBPM_2011_Day22

Peace, in my world, is that elusive thing that peeks its head out from around a corner every once in awhile, letting you have only a short glimpse, before quickly scampering off into the chaotic wilds of the land of To Do. I am one of those people who packs their day full of stuff to do (often unintentionally) from the moment my feet hit the ground in the morning to when I set my alarm and turn my light off at night. My days are packed with diabetes concerns, work concerns, BG tests, tasks and things I need to get accomplished, phone calls, emails, spreadsheets, web pages, beeping CGM’s, carb counting, questions and answers, and even unknowns.

Lately, I really haven’t found a peaceful, blissful place where I’m not bombarded with a list of things that I can’t get my mind off of that I should be doing instead of enjoying the serenity. But I know a few places where I am the most at ease, and I hope I can get there to spend some time before long.

The beach at dusk and night is one of my favorite places to get away from it all. Even if for only a few minutes. I like the beach during the day, don’t get me wrong. I love it. But at night, it’s different.

At the beach at night, the waves seem to crash just a little more gently. The breeze seems to blow just a little more calmly. The darkness helps to retire the beachgoers from the day, replacing them with footprints, disappearing sandcastles, and subtle reminders that yes, this beach belongs to all, but the small bit of solitude that remains is mine.

I don’t have to share the beach at night. A cell phone or an iPad has no place here. There is no light to read a book, a newspaper, or a magazine. There is only the subtle reflection of the setting sun on the water, painting the sky a series of pinks, purples, oranges, and gold. Or maybe it’s the vision of the moon slowly climbing its way out of the water at the edge of the horizon, giving off a soft pale glow, and letting gravity take the water as it rises higher and higher in the sky.

The sounds of the beach are hypnotizing. The waves crashing against the shore in a never ending loop have the nature of the stars, in that they are nearly impossible to count and keep track of. They keep repeating, with no story of where they have come from, or where they are going next. The water slapping against a pier, or a seawall, adds a backbeat rhythm for the waves to keep time to.

The smell in the air is crisp, clean, yet salty. The lingering sweet smell of suntan lotion hovers around the public areas. Along the pier you can smell the freshness in the daily catches of the fisherman, who are still at their task of gathering just enough fish for dinner, and leaving behind just enough for tomorrow.

If you close your eyes, and take a deep breath in, you can feel the energy of the day slowing down, wrapping up the fond memories and new beginnings of every person’s day at the beach before you. As you breathe out, the world is replaced by calmness unlike any other, and a feeling of life all around, but moving at a slower pace, with beautiful deliberateness.

You can stay for a moment, or you can stay for hours. The beach at night has no time clock. It is just there, winding down from a long day in the sun, and glad that you stopped long enough to give it a chance to share.

That is my peaceful.

The Beach

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Swiss Gear Bag

Swiss Time

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I’ve been contemplating my diabetes supply transit situation since my post the other day about all the stuff we have to carry around. I’ve decided that I need to learn to travel at least a little bit lighter than I normally do. Why do I need to carry around a notebook if I have Post-Its? Why do I even need a notebook or Post-Its when I have my iPad and phone?

I started looking around online last week to see if I could find a bag that jumped out at me. Something small, manly, yet big enough to carry what I consider my essentials: iPad, phone, camera, BG kit, an extra pump inset, and something to treat a low blood sugar with. As long as I remember to make sure my BG kit is well stocked with strips and alcohol swabs (yes, I am part of the 1% of people with diabetes that use alcohol swabs), everything else is really non-essential. For most people, even these items aren’t all essential, but these are things that I use every single day.

I have messenger bags galore, so I decided to opt for something different, more adventure-friendly. I have found that most cases and bags that focus on diabetes supplies tend to be a bit of a letdown. I’m totally willing to be proven wrong on that blanket statement, but for the most part diabetes-centric bags either end up being too big, too girly, or just simply don’t meet the practical needs of me, Martin, male person with diabetes. (Not to be confused with mail person with diabetes, which Lee Ann Thill is responsible for.)

I couldn’t really find anything that I liked online. Plus I wanted instant gratification, as I was hoping to have something that I could take with me this week for Thanksgiving. On Saturday, I managed to talk A-Flizzle into going with me to Marshall’s to look at their bags. They usually have a smattering of different kinds of bags, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if they had something that was good quality, my style, and on the cheap.

I found something I think will work perfectly: My first Swiss Gear backpack. And it has a 5 year warranty, which is really like a dare to say, “Hey, see if you can bust this one with all the crap you carry around and the abuse you inflict on it.” I’m going to give it my best shot.

Swiss Gear Bag

Disclaimer: Marshall’s nor Wenger had any bearing on this post whatsoever. I just simply wanted to share that you can sometimes find excellent D-related gear from non-D-related places. And that I’m excited to have a bag that I can brutalize for at least 5 years.

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Complimentary Burro

Complimentary Burro

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 17: Let It Be. What’s something that bothers you or weighs on you? Let it go. Talk out the letting go process and how you’re going to be better to yourself for it.NHBPM_2011_Day17

You want to know what weighs on me? Backpacks. Messenger bags. Man bags. (It’s called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one.) Call them whatever you want, I don’t like having to carry so much junk around with me to stay alive. Especially when I’m trying to do something fun…which is like, all the time in my world.

Diabetes is a disease that should come with a complimentary burro. And I don’t mean one that says “Thank you” or “You look very nice today.” I’m talking about a burro to help haul around all of the supplies required for “optimal” diabetes control.

Complimentary Burro

Photo by moose.boy (Flickr - CC license)

I carry around a messenger bag or backpack just about everywhere I go. This is what is in my messenger bag right now:

Okay, so maybe I don’t need ALL of that stuff to stay alive. Still, I could do without half of it if it weren’t for diabetes. When I travel, I like to lighten the load a bit; I put my working files in my Dropbox so I don’t have to carry the USB flash drive. I know, BIG difference. (That’s sarcasm.)

I can look at that list of stuff and justify every single bit of it. What can I say? I like to be prepared. They should tell you at diagnosis that a side effect of having diabetes is chronic overpacking.

I think I’m going to need a bigger bag.

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Florida Capitol - World Diabetes Day 2011

100 and World Diabetes Day

NHBPM_2011_Day16

Monday, November 14, was World Diabetes Day. All around the world people were wearing blue, sharing their stories with diabetes, advocating and increasing awareness, and even lighting landmarks blue. Here in Florida, the city of Orlando changed a number of their downtown landmarks to blue thanks in large part to the efforts of one Tremayne Sirmons, a person with Type 1 diabetes who made it his personal mission to turn the world around him blue for just one day.

A bit further north in Tallahassee, the folks at Novo Nordisk sponsored and managed to convince the powers that be to allow the old Florida state capitol building to be lit blue for World Diabetes Day. This was reportedly the first time ever that the capitol has allowed any group to change its public facing image in such a way for health awareness.

Florida Capitol - World Diabetes Day 2011

Manan Shah, who works for Novo Nordisk, shared with me that it took them several years to finally make lighting the capitol blue a reality here in Florida. They have been successful at lighting the capitol of North Carolina blue for the past two years. Like Manan, I hope that this trend continues to the point that every state in the union has their capitol turned blue on November 14 each year. Can you imagine if the capitol in Washington D.C. went blue for World Diabetes Day? That would certainly set an example for all of the states.

Go ahead, put it on your list of things to do. It’s on mine, as soon as I can get to Washington and start putting the bug in the ear of senators and state representatives on the hill.

I felt a swell of pride for the state of Florida on Monday night, and was so pleased and grateful that they made such a bold statement in support of people with diabetes as to allow the historic capitol building to change its image in such a profound way. Earlier in the day there had been a press conference on the steps of the old capitol, and one of the speakers was a 15 year old diabetes advocate with Type 1 diabetes who shared her story and made it clear that diabetes is not a disease that can be ignored.

And we won’t be ignored either. Next year, I expect to see even more cities, states, and people getting on board with showing their support for people with diabetes on World Diabetes Day…and every day.

Florida Capitol - WDD 2011 - A-Flizzle and Martin

A-Flizzle and me in front of the Florida capitol, blue for World Diabetes Day 2011

Disclaimer: The folks at Novo Nordisk did not pay me or provide sponsorship to Diabetically Speaking in order for me to say kind things about them in today’s post. It’s legitimate gratitude that I have for Novo Nordisk for footing the bill to turn the Florida capitol blue for World Diabetes Day and showing support for people with diabetes. I hope they have continued success next year. (Hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge…do it again, do it again!)

Florida Capitol - WDD 2011 - Novo Nordisk

Me with Manan Shah (left) and Rich Ropp (right) from Novo Nordisk, sponsors for turning the Florida capitol blue for World Diabetes Day 2011

P.S. – Today’s blog post is my 100th blog post since launching Diabetically Speaking. That may not be a big deal for some folks, but I am taking it as an accomplishment, and proud that I was able to share something as important as World Diabetes Day as my 100th blog post. Thank you all for reading, and for your continued encouragement. Now here’s a gratuitous picture of a 100.

BG 100

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Halloween Howl 2011

Just One Little Touch

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For Halloween this year, A-Flizzle and I joined some friends for the Halloween Howl at the Tallahassee Museum. There was a Not-So-Spooky Trail for the kids full of inflatable Halloween ghouls and ghosts, dinosaurs constructed out of junked car parts, as well as animals that were so accustomed to humans that they would come right up to the fence to say hello. I loved it! (And maybe I want to go back during the daytime so I can play with the animals. Just sayin’.)

There was a haunted trail for the more mature crowd, which was really well done. They had folks walk in groups of 4-6 people through a dark and winding forest, and all of a sudden you would turn around and there would be some evil beastie following closely just waiting to get a squeal out of you. Not that I squealed…much…I mean…that was all A-Flizzle. Honest.

The zombie maze was also a highlight. Imagine zigging and zagging your way through a loud, gory fright fest full of brain-hungry zombies everywhere. EVERYWHERE! They were on the ground, in the passageways, chasing humans, chasing each other, agitated because they were trapped behind some obstacle. It was awesome!

After the Halloween Howl, we all decided to go to one of our favorite pizza joints in town and have dinner. I don’t typically hide my diabetes, but at the same time, when we’re hanging out with friends that haven’t spent a significant time around me and my life with diabetes, I try to not make too much of a spectacle of it either.

A-Flizzle had thrown my blood sugar kit in her purse, and after we sat down at our table, I reached my hand over and gently touched her leg with my finger. No words. No look. Not even a break in conversation. Just one little touch. Two seconds later I had a BG kit in my hands and was checking the status of things.

A-Flizzle is great for a lot of reasons. We laugh a lot, we have adventures together, and she tolerates my dog who may or may not leak a little when he gets excited. While we are always there for each other, she still gives me my space and independence. I’ll be the first to admit that I am too independent for my own good, and she would agree, but she doesn’t hold that against me. She will carry my BG kit in her bag if I don’t have a [man] bag of my own to carry it around in, and she also carries four glucose tabs on her key chain everywhere she goes…just in case I need them.

Seriously? How many of you carry something on your key chain just in case somebody else needs it? A-Flizzle is boss. We should all be so lucky. I’m glad I am.

Halloween Howl 2011

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

5 Things

5 Things

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 5: 5 things that changed my life. For better? For worse? List 5 things that changed your life as a patient, caregiver, or Health Activist and how.NHBPM_2011_Day05

Having had diabetes for over 30 years now, I’ve seen a lot of change happen. Some of the changes with diabetes have been subtle, like acquiring a Delica finger pricker to replace the spring-powered nail gun of a finger pricker that I was using before. Other changes have had a huge impact on my life with diabetes.

5 Things

#1: BG meter
When I was diagnosed in 1981, most people determined what their blood sugar was by peeing on a stick. Actually, it was a strip. But still, it was a stick. That you peed on! The problem with peeing on a stick (beyond accidentally spraying the bathroom with wee) is that it only tells what the range of the blood sugar is, and it’s often hours behind reality. Blood, on the other hand, is much more accurate, telling you what your blood sugar is right now, rather than what it was three or four hours ago.

After the peeing on a stick days, there were these strips that you would put a drop of blood on, wait a few minutes, then wipe off and see what range your blood sugar was based on the color of the strip. If you wiped the blood off too hard, sometimes the color of the strip would come off with it. It took some practice. I also learned that I could cheat and wipe it with an alcohol swab and the color would be lighter, indicating a lower BG than I actually was. I mean…wait…I never did that…honest. To save on costs, my mom would cut the strips into halves or thirds so that they would last longer. You have to be frugal with diabetes sometimes. We may or may not have also eaten cereal with a fork so that we could pass the milk on to somebody else.

I really don’t know when I got my first BG meter. It was sometime when I was in elementary school. I remember it was huge, and it took several minutes and a huge blood drop (or two, or three) to discover what my blood sugar actually was. Today, our meters are pocket-sized, only taking 5 seconds or so to analyze a very small sample and report the results. It’s a beautiful thing! (Except when the numbers on the screen are less than desirable, but that’s a different blog post.)

#2: Insulin pump
My insulin pump has granted me more freedom with my diabetes than any other single advancement. It allows me to be able to do what I want and eat what I want on my schedule (or lack thereof, if I so choose). I love it, and I don’t ever want to be without it (YDMV).

#3: CGM
I’ve had my continuous glucose monitor for a little over a year now. I’m still not the greatest at wearing it regularly, but I absolutely love it when I do. I love that it helps me to keep my BG’s closer to normal, helps warn me when I’m going low or high, and often prevents disaster. My CGM is integrated with my pump, and I love having these two devices working simultaneously to give me data that I can use to improve my diabetes control. Would you look at that…I think I just motivated myself to go put in a new CGM sensor. Go me!

#4: Connecting to the DOC & PWD’s
There is something very special about the Diabetes Online Community, and that is all the people with (and without) diabetes in it. I have met some amazing people in this community, and I have learned so much from them about sharing my life with diabetes. I have also learned all kinds of tips and tricks, such as what tape sticks best to someone made of awesomesauce. Between my laptop, iPad, and phone, I manage to pretty much stay in contact with the DOC 24/7. Beyond the folks the make up the DOC, my favorite thing about it is that no matter what time it is, where I’m at, or what I’m doing, I can always reach out (typically via Twitter) and get a response. It’s awesome!

#5: Friends For Life
Heed these words: If you have never been to a Friends For Life event, then you need to find some way to make that happen. I went for the first time last July (2011), and it was life changing. I got back home and immediately put my time off on the calendar to go again next year. Friends For Life is one of the only places where you can walk around with an insulin pump hanging on your pants pocket, or check your blood sugar in a crowded room, or ask, “How many carbs are in that?” and not get even so much as a sideways glance. It’s a rare opportunity to be in the majority of people with diabetes, where people without diabetes are the minority. Plus it’s an amazing opportunity to meet friends from the DOC, and bond in real life over giant M&M cookies and a shared affinity for plaid.

Disclaimer: The kind folks at OneTouch did not pay me or solicit me to write about or mention their Delica device. That said, if they want to send me some fresh lancets, that would be awesome.

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month