Monthly Archives: August 2012

Public Diabetes.

I went to New York on Saturday to hang out with The Great Spousal Unit’s brother and his family. I’ve made no secret of that fact that up until about a year ago, I never took my meter out in public. In addition, I never really wanted to show my pump in public either. I always had it under a big shirt. And I was very careful to kind of turn away from everyone (even if it was friends or family) when I used the pump to bolus or adjust my basal.

It’s not that I really care about anyone seeing me. Anybody who has a problem with it can just shove it, you know? But I don’t want anyone to get sick once they see the sight of blood on my finger. And I’ve certainly noticed how freaked out people get sometimes when they see me using my pump, like I have some sort of really scary problem. Well, it is a scary problem. But that doesn’t make me scary, does it? Anyway, I don’t want anyone to be afraid of me. And I don’t want anyone to look at me with pity. Those kind of things make me feel bad… like it could be avoided if I just hide it away for a while. So until now, I’ve either left the meter at home, or left it on the bus. While I was away, or at least while I was in Manhattan, I was guessing about basals and boluses.

But I’ve been reading posts in the past year or so from many in the DOC who show that testing, set changes, pump adjustments in public are no big deal. It’s just part of what you do. Those posts were powerful, empowering examples for me. I started to realize that at some point, my health and my care had to become a priority. And damn the consequences. So this time, I put my meter in my pocket and used it all day.

I used it at lunch (142 mg/DL). And then about 45 minutes before I got on the bus to go home, I stopped in a small place to grab a sandwich and some iced tea. After walking around all day (that’s what you do in New York) in the 95 degree heat, I was feeling pretty crappy. I wasn’t moving well, and I was thirsty, my mouth was dry. I was certain I was still high. So much so, that I almost didn’t even check. But then I thought: no, I have to know… coming down from 150 requires a different strategy than coming down from 250 or more.

So I pulled out the meter, and right in front of about 35 people, I checked: 52 mg/DL

If I had just bolused based on a guess, how long before I would have gone hypo? What would that have looked like? How would I feel about myself the day after?

I’ll name it: I overcame fear Saturday. Ridiculous, stupid, ego-based fear. Stupid, dumb, vain things that I’ve been feeling and keeping deep inside for a long time. Saturday, it could have affected me in a very bad way.

Don’t be me. Make your health and your care the top priority. Today. Right now. And who knows? Maybe your initiative could serve as an example to someone who’s still hiding their diabetes from the rest of the world.

Like These Links. D Pluribus Unum.

Let’s look again at the DOC. Or specifically, about bloggers. I’ve seen a few posts about bloggers, and blogging, in the past couple of weeks. I’ve also seen more than a few comments related to blogging and bloggers.

I’ve been trying to resist writing about bloggers and blogging for a while. Mostly because I’ve only been blogging here for about 4 months myself. Not enough experience to really see things clearly. So instead, let me share a few links, and hopefully add a few thoughts of my own.

At My Busted Pancreas, I’m reminded that I too live this T1D life on my own for the most part. The only other type 1 that I know personally lives about 500 miles away, and she’s one of The Great Spousal Unit’s friends anyway. If it weren’t for what I read from the DOC, I’d still feel like I’m alone and no one gets it. And yes, I really mean that.

Kim at KD(and it’s not kraft dinner!) wrote about her advocacy at the grocery store, and how, a year ago, she was the shy one who didn’t want to bring her diabetes out in the open. Likewise, Karen at Bitter-Sweet talks about how she’s evolved from the shy person in high school to an unlikely advocate. I don’t think these things happen without the support and understanding of all of us in this community, do they?

Scott Strange at Strangely Diabetic talks about a lot of things when he describes his blogging and advocacy, including Survivor’s Guilt. Or Proactive Survivorship. Anyway, his story is inspiring, and he lays it out on the line about why he does what he does. It’s a good read.

What if you’re writing all the time, and you start to feel like nobody notices? There are it seems, a few bloggers that everyone reads, everyone sends comments to, everyone tweets. You wonder if you’re really doing something worthwhile. Kate at Kate’s Sweet Success has a great post that gets to the heart of the matter: “…the more voices we hear, the better off we will all be. I don’t have to be a rock star in the DOC in order to make an important contribution. What I have to do is be honest and put my ideas out there in the hopes that someone else will benefit.” Exactly. Let’s remember why we got into this game, okay? I don’t think it was to get the most hits on a particular day. If that is why you’re blogging about your diabetes, well… maybe you should rethink your mission statement. Just saying.

Finally, if you are wondering if you really are making a difference, take this advice from Sara at Moments of Wonderful (and then read all of the great Best of the ‘Betes Blogs posts): “Never doubt whether anyone cares what you have to say. I guarantee that there is someone out there who is waiting for your words. This community cannot exist without each and everyone one of us.”

I can’t put it better than these people have. In a year or two, the DOC might be quite different from what it looks like now, for reasons we may not be aware of yet. For now, I am so happy to share my voice, and I hope to help give someone that one word of encouragement, or note of understanding, or crazy photo on that one day when they need it most. If you know what I mean.

D Pluribus Unum… out of many, one.

Enjoy the weekend!

Bolus-Worthy Coffee.

Crap! We received a gift of some great coffee from a neighbor who visited Seattle last week. I was so looking forward to that first cup this morning… when I realized that I am fresh out of Splenda! I don’t put anything other than sweetener in my coffee.

As a result, for the first time in a long time, I had to use regular sugar. But hey… I can have that. I just have to bolus for it.

The sacrifice was absolutely bolus-worthy. Happy Thursday!

Pumpin’ ain’t easy.

My apologies if some other blogger has already used this blog title. I can’t imagine someone hasn’t thought of it by now. So if you have, let me know and I’ll give you all the credit.

It’s been a little over 2 years since I started on pump therapy. And since a commenter asked me recently about it, I thought I would write down a few thoughts while they are fresh in my mind. This isn’t so much a product review. It’s just my thoughts on living the life of a pumper. I want to stress that it’s important to work with a medical professional to find what works best for you.

Officially, I’m using the Medtronic Minimed Paradigm Revel insulin pump. I’ll start off by saying I haven’t really had any problems with it. I wanted this pump for some time before I finally got it. I’d like to tell you that my choice was well thought out, and that I had gone through a few test runs of a few different models before making a decision. But I didn’t. Really, I went with the Med-T for two reasons. I had read the most about Medtronic, and the only other type 1 that I knew (actually– the only type 1 I know other than online) has a Medtronic pump. I did not do my due diligence, and I wish I had.

That said, I’m pretty happy with my choice so far. It’s not flashy, but it does exactly what I need it to do. And it’s been extremely reliable. I’ve beaten it up some. There’s a sizable scratch across the display. I got that going a little too close to the metal part of a door frame. While wearing this pump I’ve worked in the yard and around the house. Worked out at the gym. Stood on the train platform when it’s 10 degrees and 105.

I like that it’s powered by a normal AAA battery (simple things, right?). I like that I can upload data from the pump and share it with my endo. Even when the information isn’t always great. Making changes isn’t always intuitive, but I can usually figure out what to do. And Medtronic’s documentation is pretty thorough and mostly understandable, so if I can’t figure something out right away, I can always look up the answer.

Now, let’s talk infusion sets. I’m using the Quick-set infusion set with the 9mm cannula and the 23 inch tubing. I need the long tubing because it needs to go down and around the dress shirts that I wear to work. Here’s another area where I didn’t do a lot of research. I honestly don’t know if people generally like these sets or not. I like them okay. With one caveat: I wish the tape holding the set in was stronger. Mostly, it seems to be susceptible to big changes in temperature, either warm or cold. And it gets a little weaker when it gets wet. So if I’m swimming one day, then running in the 90 degree heat the next day, by the third day, I can feel the set trying to work its way out. I don’t think the set is bad; it’s pretty comfortable once you get used to it. Again, I just wish I had tried out a few more sets just so I could gauge the differences. Maybe I’m using the perfect set for me. I just don’t know if it is or isn’t.

Wanna talk continuous glucose monitors? I have one, but I don’t wear it often. I wear it about 2 to 3 weeks in between visits to my endocrinologist, so she can get an idea of how my BGs are trending throughout the day. Other thoughts about using the CGM will have to take up space in another post.

One additional complaint: well, not a complaint as much as an observation. This is one expensive piece of medical apparatus. I don’t really see the cost in the software or the look of the device. It must all be in the durability factor, which, right now, is pretty good. I can live with that. But I wonder if a drop in the price might get a few more people access to this kind of therapy. For some, it could be a life changer.

Speaking of cost: as much as I can tell, once you swallow the cost of the device (my insurance picked up a sizable portion of the bill), the ongoing cost is roughly the same as when I was on multiple daily injections.

The real advantage for me is in convenience. I can go nearly everywhere with it. And I love how a pump gives me the ability to adjust my basals or boluses on the fly, based on where my glucose is at that moment. That’s a huge thing for me.

So all in all, I’m glad I went to pump therapy. I’m happy with my decision to go with Minimed. If you’re thinking about going to the pump, and you have any questions, feel free to ask. Whomever you talk to, remember to ask a lot of questions! Make your choices in care from a well-informed point of view. Remember: pumpin’ ain’t easy (had to get that in there one more time). But it might be the next great step in your walk with diabetes. Good luck!

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