Friday, April 29, 2011

A Call for Help

(Beyond the images of the Royal Wedding) The images of the disaster in the south stop me short.  And then it feels as though there is nothing you can do.  But that's not true.  If you can help, please do so.  In a time like this, anything you can send will help.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

From Life to InDpendence

Maybe you've noticed that my blog looks a little different this week.

When I started writing, it wasn't even here.  It was at ______(if I could remember, I'd share).  And back then I read ONE blog.  And I had a friend telling me that I would be a able to make a big diabetes difference.  I didn't believe her, because my last known A1C was 11.1.  How could IIIIIII make a difference?  And so I bought an at home A1C kit.  And then I felt as though I could do this.  And so the writing began and I joined the DOC and I've never looked back.

I've never enjoyed the title of my blog though (It's About Independence, It's About Life).  I think that independence plays a huge part in my diabetes.  Not only because of my D-Day, but because I'm now actively monitoring and tracking my diabetes.  So I had been thinking about changing the name, and then when I listened to the wego health webinar, they discussed the importantance of the blog name.  If you use your health condition in the title, it can get people there.  Or you can be clever and cute and other fun things.  It jumpstarted the thoughts that were already milling around in my brain.  So I asked Meredith, Kerri, Kim and Sarah their individual thoughts on it.  In keeping with Independence, my idea was Fireworks and Fructose or Independence and Lows.  And then Kerri suggested InDpendence.  And I fell in love.  So here I am.  I still think Life is important, and I always will.  But the name of the blog just feels better to me now.

Thank you Kerri!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eating Healthier

In the mindset of being healthier, I've been consciously thinking about the food I eat.  (No, I don't keep a food log - hate those!)  But I realized that I eat pasta or rice almost every day at lunch.  And if not that, then a sandwich.  I always have fruits or vegetables as well.  But I'm thinking of trying to change that and instead of having grainy starches, to have some starchy vegetables.  I want to continue to eat other non-starchy vegetables too.  But I need some advice.  And oh yea, it needs to be easy!  Making lunch with the kids isn't always the time for fancy foods.  So if anyone has any suggestions, or places to look, I will greatly appreciate it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Coffee Stop

new re-usable cup holder with a handle!
I went home this weekend for Easter, and as I was driving up in the rain (and snow!) on Saturday, I started to feel low.  I got off the highway and was trying to test.  And of course, I dropped the bottle of strips.  It was still closed, so I didn't lose any, but I actually needed to park my car in order to test.  So I parked my car and I was 70 mg/dL.  So out came the juicebox and into the mall went I to find Starbucks.  I walked in where I thought the food court was, and it wasn't.  So I had arrow vision for the little map to get to Starbucks.  All I needed to do was turn my head 90 degrees to the right though.  So in I walked, and when it was my turn to order the woman had a "you look completely out of it" face on and it took everything I had just to order my coffee and not confirm her suspicions.  In a few minutes, all was well and I was back on my way.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Preparing for Departure

I wrote over at Stage of Life again today; one of my best friends is moving.  And to a place more than a drive away.  I'm happy for her, but sad for me, and over there is where I write all about it.  So excuse me if I'm crazy busy these next few months, because I'm cramming in as much time with her as I can.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Post: Chocolate Cheeks

I have another guest post from my mother today.  I wrote about my first Easter, but I got it wrong, so here's the real version.  Keep in mind, this was in 1990, when we counted calories, not carbs and there was no humalog and each meal had a set amount of food to be eaten.  

The hard cold facts of diabetes and balancing diet, eating schedule and insulin, first became apparent for you the week after Easter when you were 4 years old.  Of course at that age, Daddy and I managed what you ate and when.  We tried to give you a variety of choices and foods so that you weren't constantly aware of the structure diabetes had placed on your life.

As with every holiday, we felt it was important for you to receive the same "treats" as other children.  Easter, Halloween, etc.  We had our own way of dealing with what we did with the treats, or when you ate them.  Sugar free chocolates from Van Otis are great *editor's note: I don't think so anymore*, but they still contain calories.

This particular night you had requested spaghetti for dinner.  Like most children, you liked pasta.  Yours with sauce on the side of course!  It was probably right before I was to begin cooking dinner, and I was upstairs, you downstairs.  You were very quiet, but for you that was normal, always busy with your coloring, books, etc.  When I came downstairs I saw you make a beeline around the house in the opposite direction of the kitchen.  Hmmmm, there were little pieces of colored foil on the floor.  When I met you in the living room, your cheeks were full of chocolate Easter eggs.  Now you had only had diabetes for a year or so, so this floored me.  I had no idea of figuring out how many you had eaten, what to do about the calories, dinner, and of course you had no idea.  The main thing is that Daddy and I had made the choice that food was never to be a battle with you.  So I determined that you should have no pasta for dinner, we would give you Regular insulin based on your normal dosage, hoped that you had candy that matched the carbs you were scheduled to have, and monitor you till bedtime testing and insulin.  You were SOOO disappointed about having no pasta.  I explained the hows and why of your choice of eating the candy.  Oh you had such a sad face.  I don't remember how the rest of the night went with glucose readings.  But it was the first time all of us had to deal with you acting like a normal 4-year-old after Easter, and us having to deal with the adjustments and corrections of diabetes.  I guess I felt that you needed to know that your choice to eat the candy was okay, but that affected your choice for dinner as well.

That was a day that again reminded me how different your life would be with all the birthdays and holidays.  I hope that because of the flexibility we did "allow"you on those occasions, that you knew that on occasion, you could eat the cake, ice cream, and some candy.  We just had to plan more than others did.

As always, when one door closes, another opens.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Registering for Gifts

The first of my college friends is getting married this summer.  (Yes, I feel old.) This past weekend was the bridal shower, and it was like a college reunion.  As the bride and groom were opening their presents and an awesome bouquet was being made, the rest of us were chatting.  We were paying attention for the most part, but there's lots of boxes of wine glasses when they are packaged 4 per box.  And then she was opening things that we think we'd never use (like a french press) or things we know we'll never use (like a soap making kit).  One of my friends mentioned that most women register for the same things that their mother's and grandmothers' registered for, even though they've never used some of it, and likely never will.  There is a thought that once you're married you'll magically start using them, and knowing how.  And since diabetes wasn't cooperating that day, I said, "Then I'll just register for diabetes supplies, because I need them and know how to use them."  Inappropriate?  Maybe.  Truthful?  Yes.  Would I ever do that?  No.  But I felt pretty clever at the time, especially when I needed that insulin to bolus for this:
Bolus-worthy Red Velvet Cake

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marathon Monday

Yesterday Girl Genius and I walked over to see the Boston Marathon on Heartbreak Hill.  We were later than the rest of the neighborhood, because I wasn't planning on being there for the elite runners.  So off we went, with our sunglasses, smiles, warm jackets and me with a backpack full of snacks, water, glucose and meter.  And as we left I had a really awesome BG of 304 mg/dL.  And I felt every single piece of it.  The past two days have been a fricken' roller coaster ride, and it's starting to catch up with how I'm feeling.  So as we walked up the street, we had this conversation:

Heartbreak Hill
Me: Now, I have to talk to you about something.
GG: Okay
Me: My sugar number is really high right now, so I'm not feeling very good, so I need you to listen extra well when we get there.
GG: Okay
Me: I think that it should get better, but if it doesn't, we might need to leave.  If that happens I'll see you if you can stay with your friends, but I just want you to know that this might happen.
GG: Okay

My blood sugars came down, (so much so that I was low), and we stayed until she wanted to leave.  I don't let diabetes interfere a lot, and it didn't.  But having that conversation broke my heart.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shin Splints

Shin Splints

I've been running lately, and getting shin splints every time, and this time only running 1.65 miles.  I don't want to increase my mileage until I go a day without a shin splint (it's also a very convenient loop).  When I run, I have my pump on a 30% temp basal for between 30-60 minutes before I leave and during the run.  If I feel a shin splint, I suspend my pump.  I've been getting them in the last half-ish mile of my run.  Last Thursday my quads were really sore during my run, and then I had killer shin splints earlier than usual.  I wanted to base it on my quads, but I didn't let diabetes trick me completely, so I suspended my pump.  I was also on a 10% basal during this run because I was lower before leaving than I usually am.  When I got back to my apartment I was in the 60s, and lately I haven't been low returning from a run.  

I posted this on November 16, 2010, but I need to post it again.  

I am the type to get bored with one type of exercise very easily, so I try to do all sorts of different things.  I like tennis, but unfortunately that requires another person and a gym with tennis courts (neither of which are available to me right now).  So instead, I try to run at least one day per week, swim laps one day per week, and do some other cardio at the gym one day per week (generally either the elliptical or the bike - depending on the BG beforehand). 

One day last week I went for a run.  Just 2.3 miles, but all of a sudden I got this crazy shin splint in my left leg.  When I started running earlier this fall, I had awful shin splints one day, and when I got back I was in the low 40s.  Definitely scary, especially since I didn't feel low while I was running.  So last week I'm going along, and past the halfway point, when I start to get a shin splint in my left leg.  It comes on pretty strong and then just holds steady.  I'm already on a temp basal, I started my run with a BG near 200, but I suspend my pump anyways.  It's not like I can stop a run like I can at the gym.  I've noticed this feeling before, and since I don't run with a meter, it's an educated guess.  I keep on running, nearly tripping over the bumpy sidewalk, but I grab my pump from my waistband and I suspend.  I get back to my apartment about a half mile later (I think) and I test and I'm in the 60s.  Not only a quick drop, but my suspicions in the way to feel low while running are confirmed.

My mother has always been outspoken about how each person with diabetes has different low symptoms.  My experience with a certain medical professional, is they only care about the ones we all share, but aren't our individual ones important too?  But back to running, is there anyone else who has ever gotten this symptom (even if not as specific as just the left leg)?  Or is there anyone else who gets another type of symptom, especially while exercising, that is just as specific?  It's something that has gotten the wheels in my brain turning, and I'm hoping to find more information.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Paying Attention

The other day on twitter, Kim asked if anyone noticed a change in BGs when they have a sunburn.  I wanted to answer, but this is the thing, I couldn't.  Not because I haven't been sunburned, I know that I have.  But it's because throughout college and a few years beyond, I didn't pay attention to my diabetes.  So the answer that popped into my head was "I wish I knew."  And then, "In the theme of honesty, I'm going to have to write about this."

This is the thing.  I know diabetes.  And I sound like I know it, so when I went to the endo all throughout college, I was able to talk my way into paying attention to diabetes.  And it worked.  At the time, fortunately, but ultimately, unfortunately.  But even if it hadn't worked, would I have changed?  Probably not, because I wasn't ready.  Sure, I paid attention, and I always had insulin with me and tabs, but I wouldn't always test.  And then, paying attention to things like "do blood sugars have a different pattern when you're sunburnt?"  The thought of paying attention to a different pattern when I couldn't even pay attention to my regular patterns is a little intimidating, and right now, embarrassing.

But now.  Now I'm ready for this.  I've been paying attention and changing basals and asking questions not only of my medical team, but also of PWDs and Caregivers.  And I have a list of things to pay attention to.  (Being sunburnt is at the top).  I've been researching, investigating, and feeling better than I've felt in years.

Does anyone else have any other things that may cause a change in the amount of insulin they need?  (Besides exercise & illness)  Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Closed Loop

Sometimes the world just comes together.  Monday afternoon was a beautiful day, and Boy Genius had a parent event at school and then Dad Genius worked his schedule to be able to pick him up after school.  Between the event and the end of school I was outside on the deck with Mom & Dad Genius and Girl Genius.  I needed to change my site Monday evening, so my low reservoir alarm beeped.  I looked down to turn it off and Dad Genius asked if they had a system that tests the blood sugar and automatically tells the pump what to do.  I reluctantly replied "not yet" while thinking in my head how my insurance doesn't even cover the CGM, when his reply was "that kind of closed loop system will be awesome for all people with diabetes."

Yes sir, yes it will.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


College Art Class

Last night I had my first watercolor class.  The painting above is a watercolor I painted my junior year of college during an intro to art type class.  The assignment was kind of a past, present and future assignment with icons depicting the major events in our life.  I did not become serious about taking care of my diabetes until I started writing this blog, and yet this was done 3 - 4 years ago and most of my icons are diabetes related.  

Diabetes Icons
The river: diagnosed with diabetes
The green trees: Camp Carefree
The red cross: ketoacidosis in 2003
6.0: diabetes A1C 

I believe that the third island is "future."  This island includes Camp Carefree, 6.0 A1C, becoming a teacher and traveling.  The only thing I have done is traveled.  This is not bad, it's just another reminder that life doesn't always go in the direction you think it will.  I never did make it back to Camp Carefree, But I went to Gales Creek Camp, which is also part of traveling.  And I may not be a teacher, but I do teach every day and I love my job and feel as though I am making an impact.  And right now I'm working really hard on the A1C.  So hopefully I can get that part of my future island.  And maybe not 6.0.  But a 6._ would be incredible.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

It Works, Just Not the Way It's Advertised

This is my low treatment of choice when at the gym.  While it may take 4 or 5 gulps of a juice box, this thing is like a shot.  However, can we please look at the seal?  "Instant Energy Drink"  Um, what?  Maybe if you don't have diabetes, but I have quite never felt instant energy from a low treatment, unless psychologically.  By no means will I stop using this, especially after reading this, but the seal cracks me up.  You are wrong Dex4, so wrong.  Yet, it does work.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Numbers in a Song

I was listening to the music on my TV the other night while I was cleaning and this song came on. And let's add diabetes to the mix. 

But these are the lyrics that I think really spoke to me:
"Numbers all around, flying by, ups and downs, 
Some as slow as Christmas coming, Some like the speed of sound
And we all wonder, what they mean,
The highs, the lows, the in betweens, 
Most of them mean absolutely nothing, 
But some of them mean everything."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Being Hard Core

Retrieved from Sunday River's facebook page
There's been a lot of posts about advocating lately, whether for yourself, or triggered because of other people or the media.  While my friend and I were enjoying ourselves in this crowd of people after amazing skiing, we encountered a potential advocacy moment.  Except that it kept right on going.  We were sitting there in one of our favorite spots (between two tiki bars and able to people watch).  All of a sudden I hear "woah, you're hard core" while one of the guys nears us points to my pump.  This was not meant as an extreme form of diabetes or the bad kind or any other misconceptions we all get.  This was meant as "you have diabetes and you're drinking just like the rest of us."  And it felt good.  And it felt even better to say, "yeah, she is too."  We talked for a few minutes about diabetes, and the guys explained that they were on a ski patrol, so they knew all about it.  (I'm not sure what all includes, but I didn't encounter any misconceptions.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


This past weekend I went skiing again, and not only is it April, but there was powder, sunshine, friends, family and no grass.  When my friends and I showed up last year, this is what the mountain looked like:

And when we showed up this year, this is what the mountain looked like:

Needless to say we skied really hard every morning.  At one point, Meghan said, "We need to wait for my legs to catch up."  And that's pretty much how it went.  The powder was awesome, and the diabetes feelings, well, they were a little off.  I was starting to feel low, so when we got to the top of the chair I tested.  And a stupid 33 mg/dL was staring me back.  My mom & Meghan helped me with the juice boxes. But I didn't FEEL that low.  So when I was done Mom asked how I was doing and I said, let's go!  Don't worry, I went slow and we were making our way over to my favorite lodge for snack.  And Meghan said, "My mom would be sitting on the ground crying."  Meghan has had diabetes since she was 5.  Her brother 6 months later.  And her uncles have T1 as well.  And in September her mother was diagnosed.  This is a woman who knows diabetes, but not the way we do.  She knows how to be a sister and mother of PWD, but is struggling with being a PWD.  She has a fabulous support system, but comments like those put diabetes in perspective for me.  Learning how to be a PWD happened while learning how to grow up, not while being comfortable with my life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Letter to Lancing Device

Dear Mr. Blue Man,

I hope you found a good home, because my fingers certainly miss you.
This new poker just isn't the same.
I know that it was loud in the bar, and that there were some obnoxious people, but didn't you hear me trying to get away from them?!
 I was trying, you didn't have to leave on your own.
You stayed around long enough for me to survive the night though, but didn't allow me to know you were gone until there was no way to search for you.
Maybe some day we will meet again.

Briley's hurting fingers

Friday, April 1, 2011

I Miss My Pharmacist

Today I need to go to the pharmacy for strips and Humalog.  I am not a hater of the pharmacy, although big Walgreen's will never feel like home to me.  In the town I grew up in, there is a small pharmacy, where they know my name as soon as I walk in.  I remember when one of my orders got mixed up (new behind the counter worker), my mother said, "Just ask for *wicked awesome pharmacist (WAP)*.  He knows you and it'll be fine."  And it was: always.  One day I went to pick up insulin, and of course it was right before I was leaving for somewhere, and insurance got mixed up.  For some reason insurance didn't think I needed insulin yet (or something).  But what did WAP do?  He gave me one bottle, fought with my insurance, and I was good to go.  WAP is the pharmacist that I remember for as long as...well, I've had diabetes.  There's something about automatic doors, and neon signs and not being able to see the pharmacy as you walk in, that just can't feel like home.  I've been spoiled, and WAP, I miss you.

After I posted this, my mother emailed it to said WAP and attached this note.

Below is an entry Briley posted on a Blog.  I think she explains quite well how much we appreciate your professionalism, caring, and independent pharmacy.  My favorite memory was a Christmas Eve when I had mixed Regular and NPH insulins, ruining the remaining bottles.  You were about to close, yet stayed open as we rushed down for new bottles.
Thank you.

And then WAP emailed her back:

You and Briley just made my week!  It really is nice to hear something like that to reinforce what we try to do here to make a difference. The struggle to keep an independent pharmacy alive gets more difficult each year and knowing we are appreciated is the main reason I haven't sold out to a chain. The fact that we have great customers like you and Briley makes it worthwhile.
Thank you for sharing that with me,