Author Archives: StephenS

Hello… I’m Stephen. I live in Baltimore, Maryland, USA with The Great Spousal Unit, Maureen. I’ve been living with Type 1 Diabetes since January 1991. I’ve been a pump user since April 2010, and I’m currently wearing the Animas Vibe pump. Also wearing the Dexcom G5 continuous glucose monitor.

I found the Diabetes Online Community in the summer/fall of 2011, and that discovery has changed my life. I started this blog in April 2012, and since then, my diabetes advocacy has continued to grow. Among other achievements, I’ve attended and spoken up at FDA workshops and participated in clinical trials.

I’ve been thrilled to serve as a facilitator for the Diabetes UnConference. And I’ve been honored to volunteer for Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition. You should Google both of those.

I’m currently serving as a member of the State of Maryland’s Advisory Council on Health and Wellness, where I am co-chair of the Diabetes committee. In addition, I’m part of the 2018 Reader Panel at Diabetes Forecast magazine.

I’m always searching for the perfect balance between the highs and lows of my blood glucose level and my life… always searching for the Happy Medium.

Anything you’d like to share? Please let me know… I’d love to hear from you.

8 Things: Wordplay.


I’m a fan of words. Their spellings, their meanings. Learning to live with diabetes is like learning an entirely new language.

Here’s what I mean by that, using 8 examples:
 
 
1. Diabetus
I always hated when people said “diabetus” instead of “diabetes”. It’s the last two syllables… “beat us”. I don’t like the idea of living with a chronic condition that has that kind of language in its very name.

2. Medical Devices
There are more medical devices helping us to succeed with diabetes than ever before. Some people name their Dexcom Dex, or their pump some other name. If you’re someone using an Omnipod, do you call yourself a Podder? Are you Podding? I can tell you that I am definitely not Vibeing…

3. Co-morbidities
I don’t know about you, but I don’t even want one morbidity, let alone two or more. I might settle for 1/2 a morbidity, but that’s all. No more. I can only accept so much. I wonder if this is that bargaining part of bargaining, denial anger, depression, and acceptance we hear about?

4. Target range
To be honest, it would be a lot easier to hit the target if the target didn’t move constantly throughout the day. That’s the way it is with diabetes, every day. This is a term I’d love to find a replacement for.

5. Basal
When I wanted to begin on an insulin pump, I must admit that I didn’t even know what a basal or a bolus was. No endocrinologist I ever saw up to that point described dosing insulin in this way. Once my current endo educated me, I had trouble for a week or two remembering which was the basal and which was the bolus. So I tried to think of basal as the herb… you know, basil. I imagined an herb leaf every time I logged in what my basal rate was for the day. Don’t knock it… it worked.

6. Bolus
I don’t really have much to say about bolusing, except that I get ticked off every time autocorrect changes it to “blousing”.

7. Advocacy
Like many people, I used to think that advocacy was too big and too difficult for someone like me. The truth is that advocacy is easier than you think, it can take place in many forms, and it usually has a positive effect on both the subject and the practitioner of said advocacy. So let your advocacy loose… you’ve got a lot to give.

8. Lancet
Another word I don’t like. Probably because it has elements of onomatopoeia to it. In other words, the word itself sounds too much like what it does, which is lance the skin to get blood for a glucose test. I wouldn’t mind the onomatopoeiac nature of it so much if it were something a little nicer.
 
 
And there you have it… eight diabetes words, and eight ways of looking at them. I hope your weekend is fabulous. Talk to you next week!

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Landfill filler.

Happy Hump Day everyone… I posted something like this years ago, and thought I would post this from earlier in the week, so you can see exactly the amount of shit I throw away when doing a site change for my insulin pump.

To be fair, not all of this goes to the landfill. I separate what I can for recycling.

Still, it’s a lot.

And please don’t say anything about my dirty placemat…

Like these links.

Welcome to a Friday rundown of some things I’ve read recently from our glorious Diabetes Online Community. I encourage you to check these out, and how about leaving a comment or two for the writers? Sound good? Here we go:
 
 
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about how our diabetes can be different from person to person, and how we have many ways of managing our condition. In the end though, we take what we learn and personalize it to come up with the best life with diabetes we can. The post was titled You do You.

Well, guess what? Renza wrote about the same thing, and also covered the fact that just because I don’t manage my diabetes like you do, I’m not wrong. Neither are you. I had to add a reference to it here, because it’s better than mine and because I like strong language when the situation calls for it. Renza’s post is titled:
You do You
 
 
Are you a dude? Are you interested in knowing more about dudes with diabetes? It is Men’s Health Month, after all, and Wil Dubois at Diabetes Mine has a great rundown on how diabetes affects everything about being a man:
Talking Sense to Men with Diabetes (During Men’s Health Month and Beyond)
 
 
I’m not a parent, so I’m not a parent of a child living with diabetes. But if you are, or if you were ever parented as a child with diabetes, you’ll want to read this from Meri, because it’s true and it will make you feel good:
A step by step guide to perfection
 
 
Finally, Laddie at Test, Guess and Go wrote something that pretty much sums up my life with a CGM these days. I’m glad I’m not the only one:
Living on Planet Dexcom
 
 
Enjoy your weekends kids… I’m off to D.C. for a diabetes meetup Saturday, then to a play on Sunday. Talk to you next week!

Fun with Fiasp.

As I mentioned in my previous post on this subject, my endocrinologist provided me with a sample vial of Fiasp so I could try it out in my insulin pump. This is only my opinion… before starting or stopping a medication, especially insulin, check with your doctor.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of it yet, Fiasp is Novo Nordisk’s faster acting insulin– in fact, Fiasp stands for Faster-acting Insulin ASPart. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last September. I was able to try it out in my pump for about a week.

When I did an informal poll of this new insulin via Facebook, I got a series of answers. Some people love it, some hate it, some made adjustments, some went running back to their previous insulin. I really didn’t have an idea of what to expect before beginning my trial.

But I did think of some of the experiences shared on that thread when considering my own experience with Fiasp.

To begin with, let’s talk about the faster acting part of the equation. Maybe I’m a little more sensitive than I thought, but the first two or three boluses really hit me hard. Even if it took a little more time to kick in, when it hit me, my blood sugar would plummet.

The science behind this is a combination of Vitamin B3 and an amino acid known as L-Arginine. The first is to speed up the insulin’s absorption time, and the other is to help maintain the insulin’s stability.

After the first couple of boluses though, there didn’t seem to be any more of an impact with Fiasp than there was with the Novolog I’ve used up to now. The only difference I could notice was with pre-bolusing. I like to pre-bolus for a meal, but like anyone else, I’m not always perfect… sometimes I forget.

When that happened, the Fiasp allowed for some forgiveness of forgetfulness, allowing me to bolus late without any measurable post-meal BG spikes.

A couple of people mentioned feeling a burning sensation when injecting Fiasp. I didn’t really experience that. For me, it was more of a feeling like the insulin was thicker somehow, like something oversize was trying to squeeze its way past the tiny constraints of the cannula and under my skin.

Both times I changed out infusion sites while using Fiasp, I found blood about a foot up inside the tubing of my set. I don’t know if this phenomenon had anything to do with it, but blood in the tubing is a very rare occurrence for me.

It should also be noted that I’m using the now defunct Animas Vibe pump, which dispenses insulin at a rapid rate. If I had been using, say, a t:slim pump, which delivers insulin at a glacial pace, the result might have been different. You never know.

As far as in-range or out-of-range blood sugars go, there wasn’t really much difference between Fiasp and the Novolog I use on a regular basis. I had one post-workout BG in the upper 200s (mg/dL), which is not common for me. Otherwise, my highest highs were around 200.

Looking at the entire experience of my time on Fiasp, I can say that there just wasn’t much difference other than what’s noted above. In the end, yeah, there were differences… but not so much of a benefit using Fiasp that it’s going to make me want to go away from Novolog. Especially since Novo Nordisk products are not on my prescription provider’s formulary anyway.

If my out of pocket cost was less than what I’m shelling out now, I might make the switch. Same price? I’ll stick with what I have.

Again, this is just my experience using this drug. I’m not a medical expert. I also encourage you to learn more about Fiasp, by reading THIS from Diabetes Mine and THIS from diaTribe.

You can get additional first person accounts of Fiasp by reading about Julia’s experience HERE and Anna’s experience HERE.

One at a time.

How do we build community?

Many people have asked me this in the past couple of years. Like many other questions, there is no simple answer.

Actually, let me retract that. The way to build community is one person at a time. I think the “how” in How Do We Build Community comes from that.

It’s hard to imagine building a wide, resourceful, vibrant community one voice at a time. Maybe you live in a rural area, and you only come into contact with so many people every day. In your case, or even in more populous places with greater resources, let’s face it, one by one sounds like it would take a very long time.

Yet, somehow, we’ve managed to do it. We have huge organizations that provide education, funds for research, publishes the latest findings, and advocates for us before elected officials. There are also organizations that work on one or two specific aspects of living with diabetes, and they help all of us in concentrating on just those things they know well.

In addition, there are groups that work with People With Diabetes on issues that they might be experiencing all on their own. Someone who seeks help with things that are bigger than they are, but sensitive enough that they require a specialized approach. Where would we be without that one on one interaction in those cases?

How about the doctors, nurses, Certified Diabetes Educators, and other healthcare professionals who help us live the healthiest form of diabetes possible? There’s a chance to add a few more people to your community.

Let’s not forget the device makers who make CGMs and insulin pumps, and the drug makers who are finally getting around to faster acting insulins and biosimilars, and are developing even more effective Type 2 medications. They charge us an arm and a leg to stay alive, but they are undoubtedly an important part of our existence.

And I can’t forget the bloggers, podcasters, and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat devotees who share their stories for the masses, emphatically putting the Online in Diabetes Online Community.

When I really think about it, I can see that my own diabetes community began with one person: Me, at the time of my diagnosis. From there, it has grown one, or sometimes two or three people at a time, until after 27 years, I feel like I have an army of people all pulling for me to succeed.

That’s pretty powerful. And it leaves me with kind of a dual responsibility: keep the community growing by welcoming others. And use my place in this powerful community for good. My success exists thanks in part to countless individuals associated with the groups I’ve noted above. Now it’s my turn to give, and help others. So, let me ask you:

How do you build community?

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