Category Archives: Random Glucose

Becoming a Chameleon

The longer my life goes on with diabetes, the weirder it seems to get.

I’ve been experiencing a strange situation lately, where I can tell when an infusion site for my insulin pump is giving out. Or, maybe I can say I can just about tell, with the help of my Dexcom CGM, when it’s giving out.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s always on the last day before a site change. You know, when you’d rather be doing anything else, and when you’d like the last remaining drops of insulin in your reservoir to last all week.

But there I am on those days, eating low-carb or no-carb, bolusing way more than I should have to, and watching my BGs go up even higher. It’s frustrating.

Sometimes I can finally get the numbers to come down a bit, if I rage bolus enough. But it’s only temporary. Eventually, I’ll start to see another trend upward, and the insulin I had hoped would last for a whole day or more winds up lasting only 2/3 of a day. Even more frustrating.

This is one of the many things that People With Diabetes think about when they consider the burden of living with this condition. Despite our best efforts, efficient glucose management does not come easy, even on the good days. Days like this make it even harder.

But you know, the weird thing about it is that I haven’t really experienced this particular issue until the last six months or so. Even more proof that diabetes is not set it and forget it.

Fifteen years ago, I had a terrible problem with morning highs, and for a while, it seemed like I would never get over it. At some point, however, that problem went away (mostly), and then seemingly, another issue took its place. Now this.

This diabetes is a chameleon, and we’re forced to become chameleons ourselves in order to adapt to it. If possible, while avoiding the trap of feeling like ourselves and our diabetes are becoming one.

I wonder what new issues the coming years will bring to myself and my diabetes. Regardless of the issues, I hope to still be here to experience all of them.

Because it’s important.

I took the time to donate blood last week. Actually, I was lucky in that there was a blood drive sponsored by the company I work for, so it made things convenient. I didn’t even have to leave the floor I was working on.

If you’re a frequent reader here, you’ve seen a lot of stories about the importance of giving your blood if you’re able. You may be thinking, “Why talk about this again?”.

Because it’s important, that’s why. In fact, donated blood is as important to some as insulin is to People With Diabetes. They can’t live without it. It’s particularly important to those with more rare blood types.

**Note: People living with diabetes in the USA are able, should we meet eligibility requirements, to donate blood.

I’m an O Positive, which puts me in select company, and that means my blood type is in demand. Who could use my blood? Think about it:

– Surgery patients
– Trauma center patients
– Cancer patients
– Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia and other blood disorders

And that’s just scratching the surface. Every blood donation can save up to three lives.

I’ve known a number of people in my life who needed transfusions at one time or another, and without people like me, they might be left needing. I don’t like it when people are left needing something I can so easily give away.

I mean, here’s something I can do that doesn’t cost me anything but an hour of my time. Besides, I’m used to being stuck with sharp objects, so the whole process is no big deal to me.

I hope you’ll go to redcross.org/blood to find out more about the blood donation process and schedule your appointment to give.

Trust me… it feels really great knowing you helped someone who needed you.

Influences

I was reminded recently of how much we’re influenced by our experiences. Our surroundings, the things we encounter as we go through life have a profound impact on our lives. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that.

Genetics play a role too, I suppose. But lately, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve learned, grown, been influenced, and influenced myself, the world I live in.

Small things have been a part of helping to make me the man I am. Big things too. In many ways, influences that seem small to me now may have, in fact, have had a lot to do in how I’ve come to where I am with my diabetes. Even my diagnosis.

I guess we’ll never know for sure about the diagnosis part. But when I’ve thought the past few weeks about how I’ve managed (or tried to manage) diabetes since early 1991, both well and poorly, I’ve been blown away by how much early and current experiences have been a part of that.

I grew up shy as can be, sometimes painfully shy. That led to some bullying, and being excluded from a lot of social situations growing up. By the time I was an adult, I was still a social infant in many ways.

In later years, that led to my insistence that I’ll never count on anyone for anything. Ever. So when I was diagnosed at age 28, I didn’t look for empathy, and I believed that it was up to me to live with diabetes or not live with it. I needed to rely on me, and no one else. I didn’t even want to go to the doctor to get my prescriptions filled, and where I could get away with it, I didn’t.

That helped me in a lot of ways, because I learned how to take care of myself from the very beginning. But in many ways, I also missed out… on innovations and changes in care and a hundred other things. I didn’t even hear of an insulin pump until maybe six months before I started wearing one, years after others had started. Until then, late 2009, I was still eating off of the old exchange diet and failing miserably.

Today, me and my diabetes are doing a little better. And I’m engaged with more people, inside and outside of the diabetes community, than ever before. I’m not only wearing a pump, I’m wearing a continuous glucose monitor full time. I’ve participated in clinical trials. I’m still working on improving my dietary choices, but I’m not doing too bad on that either.

I guess what I’m saying is that we all have things that make us what we are today. But we don’t have to let those influences rule us forever. I am faaaar from perfect. But I’m different than I was, hopefully in a good way.

My focus isn’t perfection. It’s being better. For me, for the people I influence, and for those who influence me.

What I Had to Learn About Living with Diabetes

I may not look like it today, but I have to admit that I used to be obsessive about a lot of things in my life. I mean obsessive.

Whether it was something I was trying to master for work, or while I was competing in an athletic endeavor (something I still do occasionally), I was pretty intense in trying to perfect everything I did, and criticizing myself endlessly when things didn’t go my way.

Part of the reason for that is probably the fact that I’m at the tail end of the baby boomer generation, the group of kids who all grew up being told we could be the greatest at anything we tried, as long as we beat the other guy doing it.

But then, a funny thing happened. Diabetes happened.

Diabetes is not egalitarian. It doesn’t care how hard you work at it, and it certainly doesn’t care how much you care about being healthy. It’s ready to disappoint you when you least expect it… middle of the night, on your weekend away, right at the beginning of that big presentation at work.

Even when I obsess over everything having to do with my blood sugar, sometimes diabetes won’t cooperate anyway. I can be “compliant” as hell, but the numbers won’t always reflect it. And there’s nothing I can do about that.

That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned about living with diabetes for almost 28 years. There are no absolutes. No guarantees. Nothing is certain, except that tomorrow, I’ll still be living with diabetes, and I will still be a slave to my numbers.

Diabetes has taught me not to trade in absolutes. It’s taught me that there are no perfect days. It’s taught me that if I work harder today, I’ll still have to work harder tomorrow. And the next day. There are no rest breaks.

It hasn’t been easy. My brain is hard-wired to find a solution and implement that solution whenever possible. But through age, experience, or a combination of the two, the synapses of my brain are being re-wired to look for solutions, work on those solutions, and sometimes be okay with a less than satisfactory result.

Of course, being a slave to my numbers means I have a better chance at diabetes success from day to day. At the same time, I’ve also learned that at any given moment, I may have to remind myself that I’m just doing the best I can.

And that’s good enough.

Random Thoughts.

Lately, I’ve been living this kind of existence where really, I’m just trying to maintain some sense of happiness in what should be a happy season. Because this year has been hard, full of appointments and meetings and tasks and oh, by the way, all the crap that just keeps coming out of Washington these days.

So even though there’s been some diabetes, I’ve chosen to make diabetes less of a priority this December. That said, here are a few random thoughts, diabetes included:
 
 
I had my quarterly appointment with my endocrinologist last week, and since I’m going to have to decide at some point, we discussed pump options. I told her that because I already have the most important pieces, the most appealing thing for me to do for a while is open APS.

That did not go well. Not because she doesn’t think I could handle it. Rather, because she thinks I’d be too obsessed with it… that I would find it hard to leave alone, and it would rule my life. I found her reticence surprising, but her reasoning sound. For now, Open APS is not an option. In fact, she wouldn’t even write a script so I could get reservoirs and infusion sets to use my old Medtronic pump as a backup. I think she really wants me to make a pump decision.

In other news, I’ve been trying out a new timelapse photography app on my phone. Kind of fun to see everything moving in fast motion. I’m trying to find interesting ways to use it.

I’ve been cooking a lot this December. I really do love to cook, though I wouldn’t want to do it for a living. But there’s been a lot of comfort food.

I’m working on configuration of open enrollment on the human resources software at my company for the 22nd year in a row. Basically, I make it so people can make their benefit elections online according to their eligibility, including a somewhat complex rate structure for multiple health plans. Every single time I do this, I realize how lucky I am to have access to a pretty good health plan through my employer. If you don’t live in the USA, you probably don’t understand what I’m talking about, and I hope you never have to.

I’m currently dealing with another medical issue. I don’t know what it is yet, but I hope I find out soon. That’s all I will say about it right now. Just wanted to get it off of my chest.

The Great Spousal Unit and I went to the movie theater last week to see a special showing of the 1954 holiday classic, White Christmas. As we were walking out, I remarked that we saw only two movies in theaters all year: Black Panther (on its opening weekend), and White Christmas.

Our Holiday Open House was a big success again this year. We counted 49 attendees, new and returning. Including a neighbor and a kid from the city he’s mentoring, who we contracted for leaf cleanup in our yard. They happened to arrive just as the party was starting.

When they finished, I went out and told them they couldn’t leave without coming in and hanging out with everyone else for a while. They stayed for a couple of hours, watched the football game in the back room, met just about everyone I know, and left with agreements to clean up leaves in four more yards. One of the best stories of the season, for me and for them.
 
 
Finally, I hope you will allow me to wish you the happiest of holiday seasons. Please know that even though it can seem like it at times, you are not alone, and there are resources out there to help you if you’re feeling down. If you have trouble finding them, send me an e-mail and I will try to help you locate them.

From me to you, All The Best this holiday season.

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