food

Star Trek Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre

Make It So…Wait, Low?

We’re right smack dab in the middle of Diabetes Blog Week, and as much as I would love to be able to post every day, my schedule refuses to allow it. Today’s topic, about some diabetes thing that you or your loved one does spectacularly, captured my attention though, and reminded me of a story that happened just this past weekend.

2012 DBlog Week Banner

On Friday, my 31st Diaversary, A-Flizzle and I ventured over to the Monticello Opera House, where I dawned one of these…

Viking Opera Helmet

…and proceeded to serenade the sold out crowd.

Or maybe I just went there for the Star Trek Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre.

Star Trek Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre

In any case, me and Number One (A-Flizzle) were there and made it so. This was my first murder mystery dinner, so I really had no clue what to expect. In diabetes terms, I didn’t pre-bolus, because I didn’t know exactly when we would get food, or even what the food was going to be. The menu said something about sliced Tribble, with a side of pok tar, and a big stein of Romulan ale. Yeah, go ahead…try looking THAT up in Go Meals! (Which is awesome, by the way, if you ever need an app to look up nutritional info. And no, they didn’t pay me or give me anything to say that. But if they wanted to…*cough, cough*)

Do you think the computer in Star Trek would tell you the nutritional info, or would it just beep and buzz at you like our insulin pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM’s) do now? Inquiring Klingons want to know.

Back to the story…so we were sitting there in Act 1, and the galactic detective was setting the scene, something about how awful of a detective he was, or maybe he was getting ready to retire, or perhaps he had chased an alien rabbit down a black hole and had been warped to the other side of space and landed on some distant starship. Honestly, I have no clue, because while we were making it so, diabetes and the full-throttle day was making me low.

Near the end of Act 1, I was trying my hardest to focus and keep up with the story, but I was checked out. My attention was somewhere between Jupiter and Pluto. All I could think was, “I’m low…and is that person really wearing a Darth Vader mask under a hood and pretending to be in Star Trek?”

The spectacular of the story is that A-Flizzle noticed. A regular Coke and a couple of glucose tabs later, I was back in space, instead of spaced out. I caught up with the mystery, we enjoyed dinner, had blueberry cobbler for dessert that was to die for, and by the end I had even figured out whodunit.

The biggest mystery though is how A-Flizzle figured out that I was low in a crowded room with attention being diverted in the opposite direction of me. Somehow, she has figured out my low blood sugar tells, those hijinks that give away that something is wrong, sometimes even before my brain is capable of comprehending it…and that’s a pretty spectacular diabetes trick.

Friendly Neighborhood Tyrannosaurus Rex

Just Another Day

This past weekend was a good weekend. No deadlines except that one that made a nice whooshing noise as it went by, nowhere to be, just an opportunity to enjoy things at a leisurely pace.

Saturday, A-Flizzle and I got a wild hair and decided it would be fun to go on a six mile urban hike, which is a more adventurous way out saying that we walked through a few neighborhoods and down a few sidewalks. It’s kind of amazing the things you notice when you are on foot that you never see from driving around in a car. We found a house with a dinosaur in the front yard, several Florida rooms off the sides of houses with beds in them that we were hoping to catch someone dozing in, a new sports bar and restaurant being built, and we learned that the pedestrian crosswalks have absolutely no rhyme or reason for when they decide to let you cross the street.

Friendly Neighborhood Tyrannosaurus Rex

Throughout the day, I thought I had done a really good job of counting carbs, factoring in activity, and doing a good job of keeping tabs on things so that I didn’t go low from the activity or high from any of the delicious things that I ate, like the banana and Nutella crepe that I may or may not have had for lunch at about mile 4.5 of our urban hike. And by the way, this is my blog post, and I call it Nutella, not Noo-tella…because there’s a freakin’ “nut” in it. YPONMV. (Your pronunciation of Nutella may vary.)

After a day of near perfect BG’s, around bedtime on Saturday night I realized that I wasn’t feeling too well, so I did a quick check to see where things were. 342. I was pissed. Are you for real?! I counted everything! I know I got the math right, or at least in the ballpark enough to not merit a stupid 342 BG. What the #$@#%#$?!!!!

After I got done pitching a fit, I tried to think what might have jacked my BG up so high. Surprisingly, I don’t think it was the banana and Nutella crepe. There was nutritional info, and I’m pretty sure I was in the ballpark on that one. Since it was sunny and over 90 degrees outside when we were urban hiking all over town, I settled on the idea that the insulin in the tube of my pump probably got a little too warm during the activity and had lost its effectiveness. Insulin is supposed to be kept cool or at room temperature, and let’s face it, late Spring and Summer in Florida is far from being room temperature by any stretch of the definition. Something you have to be aware of if you’re going to sport an insulin pump is that, every once in awhile, heat happens.

I dosed down the 342 BG with a shot of insulin via the old faithful syringe, and then switched out the insulin in my pump. Either I overestimated how much I needed to pull that 342 BG back down to normal, or the activity of the day finally caught up with me, because I woke up around 3:00am at BG 35. After a juice box and a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter (which I may or may not have shared with Hopper dog), I woke up in the morning with a perfect BG of 88.

Diabetes is a total game of numbers. In order to stay alive we have to count everything. And guess. A lot.

We have to know how many carbohydrates are in everything that we put in our mouth, what our blood sugar (BG) level is at the time, and guesstimate how much activity (or lack thereof) is going to affect our metabolism and BG level. Then, on top of that, there are ever present questions about how accurate our BG meters are, we never really know for sure how effective the insulin that we’re injecting is going to be (especially after it has been in an insulin pump for a few days), and our bodies sometimes process that magical life elixir differently than yesterday, when we had the same food, the same activity, and the same BG levels.

My endo says that “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity…unless you have diabetes.” In Martin World, it’s just another day.

Why You So Stubborn, Diabetes?

I think of myself as a typically optimistic person, especially when it comes to my diabetes, because really my life with diabetes is better when I’m able to cast it in a positive light. Even so, that doesn’t mean that I don’t spend a few days in the trough of a wave every once in awhile.

Today was one of those days. I didn’t sleep much over the weekend, so this morning I got up early and fed the dogs and then decided I would try to sleep a little bit longer, considering it was Sunday and all and I didn’t have to go to work or anything. About the time I got comfortable, some masochist with a lawnmower decided that 8:00am was a fine time to mow the grass next door. Seriously, how do you get up so early on a Sunday and think, “I’ll go mow the grass this morning.” Read the paper and have a cup of coffee for Pete’s sake. Have a whole pot if it tickles you. Just don’t go outside and crank up the mower and wake up the neighborhood! </rant>

I like to make a big breakfast at least one morning on the weekend. I’m doing good to get dressed and get to work on the weekdays, so Sunday mornings are my time to pause and enjoy the thrills of a pot (or two) of coffee, eggs, sausage or bacon, and Meet the Press with A-Flizzle. If you ordered that meal at Denny’s, it would be a Grand Slam Nerdy, and could you leave a carafe of coffee on the table please?

I found a little bit of Bisquick left in the fridge, which is weird because most people put that in the pantry, but I decided to use it up and make a couple of pancakes. I limited myself to just one pancake, the one that came out looking like it had been put in somebody’s pocket instead of in the skillet, because I didn’t want my blood sugar to go through the roof or anything crazy. And it didn’t. It just hovered around the stinkin’ penthouse suite all day long, making me real frustrated because it wouldn’t come back down to the lobby where all the normal BG’s hang out.

That was the only starch that I had on the day, and I hovered around 200 mg/dl all day long. Being used to running a BG of around 100 lately, I felt that 200 in full effect. I even resorted to rage bolusing, just throwing a max amount of insulin at it to try and get it to budge. We went to see Hunger Games with some friends, and I barely touched the popcorn. Then we went to dinner afterward, and I couldn’t even eat because I was so nauseous and thirsty from the stubborn high BG. Finally, after I got home and gave up, I started to sink back down to normal again.

Stubborn CGM

I ended up having to take over 100 units of insulin today to combat diabetes. That really, REALLY frustrates me, considering how a normal day for me (with carbs) is closer to 60 or 70. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have eaten that pancake, but there was no way of knowing that it would have been so stubborn all day long. The beauty of the conundrum is that it might not have even been the pancake. It could have been that my insulin lost its potency, or that I’m fighting off a virus of some kind, or that I was wearing green today instead of blue and my diabetes was offended. In other words, who knows?

Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “Wow, he’s got the diabetes real bad.” You may be thinking, “He really isn’t taking care of himself having to dose that much to get his blood sugars to cooperate.” You might even be thinking, “I would have been pissed too if that guy had woken me up with that damn lawnmower!” Or you might just be thinking, “Yup, been there, done that.” I’m convinced that some days diabetes has a mind of its own and does whatever it damn well pleases, regardless of what we try to do to “control” it.

Fighting back the tears, I was telling A-Flizzle about how frustrated it makes me when I feel like I have no control over what my body and diabetes has decided it wants to do. I hate feeling like I’m just strapped in and along for the ride, wherever it may take me. That is why I have the CGM, why I check my blood sugar on average 6-8 times a day, and why I try and count everything that goes in my mouth so that when I do make a mistake, hopefully it isn’t a complete disaster.

This situation is a good reminder to myself that we can do seemingly everything right in our lives with diabetes, from correct carb counting, insulin dosing, BG checking, and everything else, and yet we can still have those days where all of the pieces just refuse to fit together.

Tomorrow is a new day, with a new inset, and a fresh reservoir of insulin in my pump. So bring it beetus! I’ll be your Huckleberry.

I Break For Coffee

Hangry

It’s hard to describe, and even differentiate sometimes, the difference between having a low blood sugar and just running on pure empty from not eating all day.

All week, since Daylight Savings Time kicked in, I have been trying to outrun the clock and get to work on time. I love DST, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really hard to get up in the morning when it’s still dark outside.

Okay, who am I kidding? It’s hard for me to get up in the morning whether it’s dark outside or not.

Yesterday morning was no different. Running late, I brushed my teeth, grabbed my work gear, made certain that I wasn’t walking out of the house with flip flops and pajama pants on, and hit the road.

I realized when I grabbed my messenger bag out of my car that it was lighter than usual. Turns out I had left my lunch (leftover white bean chicken chili from dinner the night before) at home. It happens, right?

This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but I have a habit (a good habit, if you’re viewing things from my employer’s perspective) of getting to work and throwing myself into things and not stopping. I’m notorious for working through lunch, skipping breaks, and looking at the clock to surprisingly discover that it’s mid-afternoon and I haven’t seen the outside of my office all day. The only thing that I will consistently break for is coffee.

I Break For Coffee

After my second cup of coffee…okay, third cup…maybe fourth cup…I realized that I was pretty much plowing through my day of meetings, emails, phone calls, and one-armed library dragon training. Once I was done, and those dragons were tamed well enough to stamp due dates in library books like they were born with that one lonely arm to do just that instead of burn villages and terrorize innocent monks (Trogdor!!!), I called it a day and headed home.

Now, I knew I had been moderately low all day. I’m back to wearing my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) again, after a slight hiatus from all the beeping and bonking and wee-ooo-wee-ooo-wee-ooo alarms waking me up in the middle of the night, and it had warned me off and on all day that I was hovering around 75 mg/dl. Still, I didn’t stop to treat it or deal with it. I just kept working.

When I got home, A-Flizzle and our pal EriCAH were there, so I started preparing dinner. Yay, food!

I kept noticing that I was agitated with everything, but I didn’t have the sense to question why. Cutting the chicken and vegetables, I was seething. Trying to figure out how to make the chicken stock thicker, I was fuming. When I realized that we only had a single serving of rice, I was mulling over what it would be like to throw the refrigerator off a cliff. It was so ridiculous that I was getting on my own nerves. I must have been driving A-Flizzle and EriCAH crazy.

That was when I realized I had reached my limit. I was low. I was hungry. I was angry. I was HANGRY! And I was making dinner and the food was too raw to eat immediately. Oh, the agony! The horribleness! The tragedy!

Eventually dinner finished, and we all got to experience my chicken thai curry science project of a meal, but it was a great example of how normal for some people isn’t normal for those of us with diabetes. There are times that we absolutely MUST stop and eat. Going all day long without eating is dangerous, and in hindsight, I’m probably lucky that I didn’t have a sneaky low that left me sitting in my office in a pile of sweaty, shaky, confused nonsense with a co-worker telling me, “Drink your juice Shelby!”

I’ll probably do it again though. Because I’m stubborn like that.

Cake or Death?

If you have diabetes, regardless of type, it is inevitable that at some point you have encountered some form of THE question…

“Can you eat that?”

Sometimes it takes on the shape of “Should you be eating that?” or “Is that good for your diabetes?” or “I’m eating for two, even though I’m a dude, so why are you eating that when I was counting on eating your share?!”

When I’m asked this question, sometimes I will respond with some well-deserved diabetes education. “Yes, I can eat this. I just have to know how many carbs (carbohydrates) are in it, and what my blood sugar is, so that I can give myself the correct amount of insulin to keep my blood sugar from spiking too high due to not enough insulin, or going too low because I dosed too much.”

That is usually enough to get either understanding or slightly confused looks of acceptance. Math and science, for the win! And truthfully, I’m typically happy to educate. I like it when people learn about real life with diabetes.

If I’m in a mood though, or if I’m having a low BG (low blood sugar) and don’t have the patience for a diabetes learnin’ session, I might just respond with a snotty little question of my own, such as, “Should YOU be eating that?” That’s always a show stopper, as the guilty party takes that last bite of chocolate cake and shamefully makes their way back to the other room while I feel only slightly guilty with my shaky, moody, slightly confused, sweat-drenched self. Cake or death? Whatever, I’ll apologize later…GIVE ME CAKE!

Since I got my CGM (continuous glucose monitor), even more questions have been introduced to my world with diabetes. A-Flizzle is getting good at recognizing the different tones of the CGM alarms, but most people around me and my beeps and bonks aren’t able to decipher if I’m low, high, have a low reservoir, a low battery, or if I just forgot to hit “OK” after my last BG (blood glucose) check. Still, I’m glad when it beeps and they stop to ask, “What does that alarm mean?” It doesn’t matter to me if they were able to define the alarm or not. What matters was that they heard it, and recognized that it was diabetes related, so that if I need something, I have their attention. Diabetes win!

Another diabetes win happened this past weekend when A-Flizzle was supervising, I mean, helping me organize my diabetes supplies. While sifting through test strips, glucose gels, infusion sets, and alcohol swabs, we came across this little gem when I got my paws on a fresh box of CGM sensors.

Cake and CGM Sensors

Do you see it? Look a little closer.

Cake (forget the CGM sensors)

Cake! On a diabetes supply container! For a device that helps monitor glucose levels!

Cake or death, you ask? CAKE! Definitely, cake.

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

Martin and Mom - 2006

Bummin’ Around

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 18: A comment as a blog post. Pick someone else’s post (from the past or from today) and write a comment to them. Write that comment as your blog post for today. Link back to them to let them know you were inspired.NHBPM_2011_Day18

Yesterday, I was reading through the “Let It Be” themed blog posts, and one really stuck out to me. Jen, over at Blood, Sweat & Carbs, wrote about the fear that so many parents have when raising a child with Type 1 diabetes. Jen’s words are real, and vivid, and I know something that every single parent of a child with diabetes thinks about, but never wants to admit. For some reason, Jen’s fear reminded me of a story that I haven’t thought about in awhile.

One morning in my early 20’s, I woke up all alone, in a strange bed, cold, in a room well lit with fluorescent lights, covered with nothing but a thin sheet, wearing only a pair of shorts, and staring at the clock on the wall above the door, trying my best to figure out when and where in the world I was. Turned out I was in the emergency room, having had a severe low blood sugar and seizure early that morning.

My dad would always call me in the mornings when he was working off the coast of Louisiana on oil rigs, and he later said that I had answered the call, but then he heard a crack and the phone went dead. The crack was my head hitting the kitchen floor. My girlfriend at the time heard the commotion, found me in the floor, and called 911.

After the ambulance ride and whatever the doctors did in the ER to get me back to good, my girlfriend and my college roommate finally invaded my room in the ER after having been told to wait in the lobby for a time. It wasn’t long before my mom and grandma, who lived an hour and a half away, also showed up. I remember being happy to tears that they were all there, and that I wasn’t alone anymore. Hospitals are scary when you’re that low. Heck, the entire world is scary when you’re that low.

It was still relatively early morning when I was discharged from the ER. I was starving, so we all went to McDonald’s to get breakfast. And who doesn’t love McDonald’s breakfast? No one. It’s awesome. Anyway…

While we were in line, a homeless man asked my mom if she could spare a few dollars so that he could get some breakfast. Thankful that I was okay, and in the spirit of blessings, my mom didn’t hesitate to give the man a bit of the cash for him to get himself some food with. The disheveled man promptly took the money and headed for the door, where his friend was waiting, so that they could most likely go buy themselves some booze instead.

Seeing this, my mom marched after him and grabbed him by the collar before he could get out the door and told him, “Now, I gave you money because you were hungry and wanted breakfast, and I just picked up my son from the hospital and we are thankful to be alive this morning. I didn’t give you money to go blow it on booze and cigarettes.” She then proceeded to walk the man to the counter at McDonald’s, as if he was a six year old boy, and made him order breakfast for him and his friend. Then she took her change back and sent them on their way with a paper bag full of hot McDonald’s goodness.

Back where me, my girlfriend, and my grandma were sitting, we couldn’t stop laughing at the spectacle of my mom making this bum unexpectedly order him and his friend breakfast. To this day, that story that started out so frightening still brings a smile to my face.

I don’t know why Jen’s post made me think of it. Maybe just to illustrate that diabetes is what it is, and it is going to throw a curveball in the direction of all of us at some point. The key is to be ready, and to be thankful for all the times that diabetes doesn’t win, which hopefully far outnumber the more fearful moments. Remember that, as a parent, it is your reaction to diabetes that your child will remember and learn to mimic, and will carry with them through life.

And also, never give a bum money at McDonald’s. Walk him to the counter and make him order breakfast instead. (Thanks Mom!)

Martin and Mom - 2006

Me and Mom (2006)

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