Start of the Snap.

Before I begin today, please allow me to say Happy Anniversary to my wife of 21 years. No baseball games tonight Maureen… let’s celebrate!

Part of my day Wednesday was spent getting training and getting started on my four week trial of the Asante Snap insulin pump.

Asante is confident enough in their product to offer a free four week trial of the Snap pump to prospective customers, complete with a voucher to help pay for the Humalog cartridges required for the pump’s use (side note: Asante, you have no idea how much I appreciate the help). In the end, it’s not much different from Medtronic, who, after I would submit insurance paperwork and a prescription, would help me through the process of purchasing the 530g system, then allow me to return it within 30 days if I wasn’t satisfied. The biggest difference between the two (I had to submit the same type of paperwork for my Snap trial) is that for Asante, this is a trial, with the opportunity to go through the purchase process once it’s complete. If I decide not to keep the pump, I already have a postage-paid envelope to drop the pump into to send it back.

After just a couple of days, I can’t speak with much authority on the Snap. So I’ll just give some first impressions.

Maybe I’m a seasoned veteran after 4 ½ years of pumping (I doubt it), but training seemed a pretty easy thing with this pump. My local rep was knowledgeable and able to describe everything about every menu item on this device. Training was simple and straightforward, and the thing that took the longest was probably just inserting the cannula. Part of trying out a new pump also involves trying out a new infusion set. The one I’m using has extra long tubing, which can be a little tough at times. But the extra length really comes in handy when you have to put on a dress shirt for work.

I like that this pump has a volume setting. I cranked that sucker up, and I can actually hear beeps from my pump! I can also turn the volume way down for those times when I’m at a play or at the movies.

Programming a bolus is simple too, though I have one question of anyone using the Snap: After programming a bolus, have you accidentally hit the button to cancel that bolus when returning the pump to your pocket or belt clip? I haven’t done that yet, but it seems like it would be easy to do.

The display is nothing to write home about. Kind of like the Medtronic display (though brighter), I think of it as an MS-DOS screen, if you’re old enough to know what that means.

Taking the display a bit further, I should tell you that Asante is in the process of updating their screens to a color display, which should start happening in late November. Along with that, users will also have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of pump color combinations. So my question was: If I purchased the pump now, would I be allowed to upgrade in November? The answer is… Yes. Anyone purchasing the Snap pump between now and November 15 will not only be able to upgrade their pump to a new color combo and a color display, they will also be allowed to keep their original version too. For someone new to pumping, this could be an easy way to get a backup pump for nothing extra.

I’m not a big fan of the belt clip. But honestly… Can you say you’re a fan of any of the belt clips from any manufacturer? I can’t think of a way to improve belt clips without invoking the phrase “putting lipstick on a pig”.

When my trial is finished, I’ll try to get a little more in depth with the Snap. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to reach out to my rep for the solution. Also, if you have experience with the Asante Snap pump, I’d love to hear some of your insights!

Disclosure: I’m beginning a standard four week trial of the Asante Snap insulin pump. This is the same trial that is available to all users who are considering starting on insulin pump therapy, or are considering a pump change. I was not given anything by Asante, and I was not asked to write about my experiences. In fact, I did not tell them I’m a writer at all. All opinions, as always, are my own.
 
 
 

Wordless Wednesday: Birds.

I am so busy right now, I don’t have time to write much at all. So today, I’ll share a few photos from last week, when The Great Spousal Unit and I traveled with her dad and his wife (and her brother) to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Blackwater is home to one of the largest groups of nesting bald eagles on the east coast. We saw a few bald eagles, but I couldn’t really get a good photo of one, though there is one of an eagle off in the distance drying his wings after diving into the water for a fish. It was a great day, and we enjoyed seeing all of the wildlife. Here’s a look:

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Here's your eagle.  Sorry I couldn't get anything closer.

Here’s your eagle. Sorry I couldn’t get anything closer.

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Happy Wednesday!
 
 
 

Three reasons why I don’t see a CDE.

I’ve enjoyed reading about the recent American Association of Diabetes Educators meeting in Orlando. Wil Dubois at Diabetes Mine has written thorough recaps of many facets of the conference, and thoughtful viewpoints of the conference and of Certified Diabetes Educators in general have either been posted or will be posted at ThePerfectD and Diabetesaliciousness, as well as on blog posts I haven’t seen yet (If you’ve seen a good one, feel free to link to them in a comment below). There’s no doubt Certified Diabetes Educators do an amazing job of providing education, encouragement, and ongoing information for people living with diabetes. Metaphorically placed end to end, their numerous success stories could stretch from here to the moon and back, and probably back again. They are an important and vital part of the diabetes community.

So why haven’t I seen a CDE since my diagnosis 23 years ago?

The reasons are many. I’ll give you three right now. I’m not saying these are good reasons; in fact, they might be downright ridiculous. I’m not saying you shouldn’t see a CDE. If it will benefit you, you should. But why haven’t I seen a CDE in 23 years? It’s more than just a simple “I don’t wanna see a CDE”. Here we go:

A doctor has never asked me to see a Diabetes Educator.
This is true. I saw a Diabetes Educator in the hospital after my diagnosis. She taught me how to inject insulin, gave me the lowdown about the exchange diet (it was 1991), and she even warned me about certain parts of my anatomy not functioning properly if I didn’t take care of my diabetes (creepy, but true). Since then, not only have my GPs and endocrinologists not suggested that I see a CDE, they haven’t even mentioned it at all. Ever. I never thought about it either, until reading online about how much people love their CDEs. Since then, I’ve thought about discussing it with my endo. But as you probably know, time with our primary healthcare professionals is precious and short, so I never got around to it. But this whole paragraph makes me think: Are doctors not recommending CDEs to their patients enough? Are they only recommending them where there aren’t enough doctors or nurses in the first place? I don’t know the answers to those questions. I’m just asking.

It’s one more person to make an appointment with. And pay.
I already need to visit my endocrinologist every 90 days (no complaints about that… it just is). Then there’s my GP, whom I don’t see often, but still. I also have to keep regular appointments with the eye doctor and the podiatrist. I have to see a dermatologist every now and then. Now I need to schedule time with a CDE too? I’m already forking out over three grand per year in out-of-pocket expenses for my diabetes. Like it or love it, it’s one more appointment and one more expense.

On the other hand: If a CDE could help me get to a better state of diabetes management, they would be worth their weight in gold. Just sayin’.

Side note: I can see where people on an insurance plan that still requires referrals would just say no to this outright. Why pay an out-of-pocket expense to get a referral from the primary or endo, then pay another out-of-pocket to go see the CDE? This is why many plans have done away with the idea of referrals for everything—it’s too expensive for them too. In fact, some plans are probably saying that they won’t cover visits to a Diabetes Educator at all, though I don’t know how prevalent that is. Again, my view on that is: If it helps, it’s more than worth the cost.

It’s one more person to answer to.
This is probably the dumbest reason, and yet the easiest to write out. Why do I feel this way? Because I like my endo. I trust my endo. I want my results to make my endo happy every 90 days. If my results are less than stellar, I feel a little like I’ve let her down. I do not want that responsibility every 90 days with an additional person. To change this would probably require rewiring my brain, so I see a CDE as an additional member of my team, there to help me rather than be another person telling me what to do. But right now, while things are going okay, I’m worried that an additional person added to the mix might make me less likely to want to listen to their advice, no matter how helpful it may be.

Now… go ahead, leave a comment and give me the 1000 reasons why I’m wrong about all of this. I know I deserve it. But please be respectful. I might deserve criticism, but not hatred. Thanks.

Disclaimer: As I said above, these are NOT reasons why you should not see a CDE. Everyone has a right to seek the best help they can find.
 
 
 

Happy Halloween! It’s a Peep®.

File this one under the category “Things I never thought I’d write about on a diabetes blog”.

If there’s an e-mail I’ve received this year that made me laugh really hard, it had to be the one from a representative for Marshmallow Peeps®. If you’re someone in the ‘States who celebrates Easter, you may have received a peep or two in your Easter basket prior to diagnosis. Or maybe after too… YDMV.

Now the Peeps® people are rolling out marshmallow treats with Halloween in mind. Marshmallow ghosts, pumpkins, and chicks with different flavors and colors. Also, and the reason they wrote to me: They are now producing sugar free Peeps®.

What made me laugh was the fact that someone who makes something so sugary wanted me to write about their sugar free options. And most important… I absolutely hate marshmallow. Marshmallow invokes an almost immediate gag response in me. And they wanted to send me free samples!

So of course, I said yes.

I told them that I just can’t stomach marshmallow, but my wife used to love Peeps® as a kid, so if they wanted to send a few sugar free and non-sugar free selections my way, she would try them out and I would report back.

In fact, we took it a bit farther and waited until we had a big party (Maureen’s dad was visiting), and we handed them out for people to try. These were all people not living with diabetes, so their opinion on the taste of sugar free and sugar laden marshmallow would be important for this taste test.

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The verdict: The overwhelming majority of our guests said that the sugar free pumpkins taste just the same as the sugary versions. No difference. Of the sugary things they tried, they really liked the chocolate mousse-flavored cats. They thought those were the best by far. Opinions on everything else was mostly met with “Well, it tastes like a Peep”.

So I’m going to give you the link for the sugar free and the Halloween selections for Marshmallow Peeps®. Here they are:

https://www.peepsandcompany.com/brand/featured-products/new-arrivals

https://www.peepsandcompany.com/search?st=sugar%20free

 
 
Honestly, I wouldn’t usually write about something like this, but it just seemed like a fun thing to do, and we can’t always be super serious. With September just around the corner, whatever your options are for Halloween or for stubborn bouts of hypoglycemia, I hope your upcoming autumn is very nice indeed.

Disclosure: I was given some free samples of Marshmallow Peeps® to try. I did not promise to write anything about it. All opinions belong to me (and my guests).
 
 
 

Hitting the benchmark.

I was thinking the other day about some things I’ve written over the last couple of years. Things that said, essentially, “I’m going to do something”. I started listing those things in my head, then started assessing whether I had met each goal, and whether I had met the goal within the spirit that was intended when I wrote about it.

What I’m finding is that I am completing most of the things I’m starting. Almost all of them. I’m completing them, and as a result I’m able to feel good that I did something I felt was important enough to write about in the first place. What’s disturbing is the feeling that I’m often not as successful as I think I could have been when I first started out on these goals. This kind of thing is really gnawing at me right now.

Did I run that 5K? Sure. Cross it off the list. In a quiet moment of reflection, however, I lament the fact that I didn’t really train to run it hard; I just trained to be able to finish it in the first place. Big difference. It leads to the feeling that I’m not doing things big enough, or with big enough success.

You might think it’s good that I completed the 5K in the first place. Not completing it is the alternative, and that’s definitely not good. And hey, we’re all busy, and blah blah blah. I so appreciate the sentiment, but there are times when hearing that sounds more like a reminder that I didn’t do well enough, rather than what it should sound like, which is support, which I so desperately need. I want to hold myself to a higher standard. And it’s not about trying to be as great as [fill in the blank]. I don’t generally compare myself to others, because I find I feel better if I celebrate what others accomplish instead of comparing my accomplishments against theirs. Plus, I know there’s a good chance I’ll feel like I don’t measure up anyway, and feeling like I’m not measuring up is enough to make me hesitate to try anything new. Insert recipe for inertia.

Yet I have to root myself in the knowledge that much of our success in life comes from trying, not necessarily succeeding, in every new venture. And I must admit to giving in to the feeling that if I write about it, I’d damn well better do it. More than once, that’s kept me from giving up on something entirely. Maybe you think that’s a poor way to go about achieving things. But I don’t feel this way about everything. And if the end result is positive, who cares?
 
 
As in all things, I think there has to be a balance.

I need to hold myself accountable. I need to give myself a break once in a while.

I need to keep trying new things. I need to not be disappointed if it doesn’t always go perfectly the first time.

I need to try for the best possible result every time. I need to be happy that there is a result of any kind, even if it doesn’t always meet my expectations, which are generally pretty lofty anyway.

Side Note: I need to learn from every experience, and be open to learning from everyone else’s experiences.
 
 
What I most want to remember is:

1. Celebrate the success of others
2. Look for opportunities to make a positive difference, even if the difference only affects one person
3. Take advantage of those opportunities and actually make a positive difference
4. Never stop learning
5. Never stop trying

I might also add: Keep some perspective. In reality, it’s been a good year so far, and the future looks brighter all the time. I could have done more, or done what I’ve already done better perhaps, but it’s only okay to feel that way if I stop short of regret, self-pity, and future inaction. I’m not perfect. I will keep trying to be helpful, in as big a way as I can muster.
 
 
 

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