Category Archives: Random Glucose

I already have to live with diabetes all day, every day. Why do I have to attach another thing to my body to remind me of that?

So, my new continuous glucose monitor had been sitting in the box it was shipped in since around Thanksgiving.
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Beginning to wear it now is not a New Year’s Resolution, or an effort to game my diabetes data gathering to avoid the high carb temptation that bombards us during the holiday season. No, it’s not that simple. I’m not going gently into that CGM-inspired good night.

Nor do I have a simple answer for why I’ve waited so long to use a CGM, and why I’ve waited so long to start to wear it since it arrived. In this case, the answers aren’t simple. They’re also not pretty.

I can give you reasons why I’ve resisted so long. Worries about having to carry the receiver in my already overloaded pockets (no, I don’t have an iPhone, and until an iPhone carries a price less than a few hundred dollars more than a comparable phone, I’ll stick with my Android platform– which means I have to carry the receiver too). Concerns about using up already valuable real estate by having both an insulin pump and a CGM inserted into my body at the same time.

Any concerns I might have had about appearances, I lost long ago. When it comes to looks, I care a lot more about my clothes than about my devices. So how it looks doesn’t affect me.

Wearing an insulin pump was an easy process for me. No problems getting started or staying with it, and nearly seven years later, I’m a proud insulin pump user. What’s the issue anyway?

I don’t know, but it’s troubling. I know that something is definitely bothering me about this. I can tell by the way I delayed getting started, until the reasons for my delay were outweighed by the embarrassment that I have access to a device that many crave and cannot get their hands on. I must go forward.

Yet, when I did my first insertion, I was using language that would make a sailor blush. I got even more surly as that first insertion didn’t work, because my brand new transmitter was crap from the start. Now I’ve used two transmitters and two (actually three, after working with technical support to get everything right) sensors with nothing to show for them. Finally, on the fourth try, I got it to start up and calibrate properly. But my issues, I fear, go deeper than a sensor insertion.

I think my problem may be the notion, the confirmation, that a CGM gives you data 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In other words, it’s a constant reminder that I live with diabetes, a fact I try to forget every day.

Yet, there’s no question. I must begin my CGM journey. As The Great Spousal Unit shared, and she was right: sometimes, I don’t want to believe what my numbers are without a glucose check. If I’m going to be such a slave to data (and you have to be one if you live with diabetes), sometimes I need data I can access even quicker than a BG check.

But it’s not easy, and I’m not entirely sure why. The trick right now, I think, is to make the physical effort to get started, and then over time, work on what my brain and my heart are trying to tell me.

I recently read a statistic sharing that adults living with diabetes are at least three times more likely to develop depression than other adults living in America. Depression isn’t exactly what I’m feeling. Still, I already know I have diabetes all day, every day… why do I have to wear something additional so I can be reminded of that? All day, every day?

Ultimately, I need to remember that this is a device that could save my life. And over time, I may actually get used to wearing it. I’ll know I’ve turned the corner when my desire to get the data overwhelms the desire to rip it off of my body for good.

Until then, the emotional price of data gathering seems awfully high.

A dog’s life.

I’ve spent a lot of time at home this week, hanging out with the dog and the cat, and another dog that has been here for an extended sleepover. The dogs, especially, seem to have a certain calmness about them (most of the time, anyway). They don’t seem to be burdened by many of the things I am concerned with.
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Dogs don’t seem to worry about too much. They sleep when they sleep, they eat when they eat. They’re happy if you’re watching CNBC, or Drunk History, or the ballgame on TV. Their pursuits include fully stretching out on the floor, chasing after balls in the yard, and playing tug of war over a toy. If you’ve had a difficult day, they seem to empathize, but they’re also happy waiting nearby in case you need them.

The dogs that have been my companions this week don’t live with diabetes and all of the crap I live with as a Person With Diabetes. They don’t have to check their blood sugar 7 or 8 or 10 or 12 times every day. They don’t have to guess how many grams of carbohydrates are hiding in my noonday meal, or how many units (or partial units) of insulin are required to counteract the carbs entering my system, and they don’t have to remember to bolus before they eat those carbs.

These dogs get excited about dinner, and walks in the park, and the occasional mailman or jogger that goes by. But the rest of the time, they’re good just hanging out. They don’t have to live with the frustration of high glucose readings and doing the detective work to find out why the readings are high.

They drink water when they’re thirsty. They’re not forced to drink water to help get their blood sugar to come down. They’re not into why my insulin is so freaking expensive. They don’t have to fight with insurance companies to get them to cover devices like continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps and enough test strips to be able to live the best life I can while standing in for my own pancreas.

Dogs are okay being lifesavers alerting us to highs or lows. Dogs are okay with just being part of the pack, and enjoying the occasional bacon flavored treat. Life isn’t much more complicated than that, because it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

I want that. I want a dog’s life.

Checking In.

Hi… how are you? I’m doing well now, thanks.

When I started this blog over four years ago, one of my goals was to keep sort of a history of my life with diabetes. So every now and then, I sit down and chronicle what’s been going on in my world. Partly for me (it’s my blog, after all); and partly for any family (and you’re family) that may come by, now or later, to find out what was really on my mind back in the spring of 2016. So here’s the latest:

You probably know I’ve been traveling a lot. Las Vegas in March, Northern Virginia a couple of weeks ago, California a few days after that. On the way home from Las Vegas, I had a cough, but I attributed it to the dry climate, and thought I would be better once I got home. Then, on my flight home, I wound up next to someone with a mask on (or off and on) through the flight, who was coughing a lot. A couple of days later, I was real people sick, which turned out to be bronchitis, which I never had before. It was treated, but apparently not enough, because a couple of weeks after that, I came down with something else I never had before: pneumonia. Long story short, a couple of weeks of antibiotics, and I’m back to my old self. Thank goodness, ’cause I felt pretty awful there for a few days. Pneumonia takes no prisoners.

Traditionally, my blood sugar runs high when I travel. Chalk it up to a mixture of food I don’t always eat (and thus have trouble bolusing for), and the fact that I’d rather be high than dangerously low when I’m in a hotel room by myself.

But lately, travel has been no trouble at all. Except for one weird breakfast occurrence in Los Angeles where, after breakfast, I found myself low, then ate the carbs I intentionally ignored over breakfast, then suspended my pump, then ate candy, then ate Skittles (thanks Karen). That kind of low doesn’t happen very often. It must have been the animated conversation.

At home, it’s been a revolving door of sorts. It seems like just when I get home, The Great Spousal Unit is headed somewhere herself. So there has been a fair amount of time at home alone for both of us, though we did travel together for the Friends for Life Falls Church event (and I’m super grateful she decided to come with me/let me drag her down there).

Here in Maryland, it’s finally spring. The azaleas are blooming, I have to mow the grass once a week, and plans are being made for throwing mulch down in multiple beds around the yard. I also put up a new window box for Maureen. She was ecstatic.
WindowBox
I got the vegetable garden started over the weekend (which is a week or two late for me– blame travel and the weather), so in a couple of months at most I should be feasting on home grown lettuce just about every night. I can’t wait.

The BGs at home have been playing nice too, mostly. I just have the feeling that my basal rates are really good right now. My dietary bolus needs have changed a bit over time… does that happen to you too? I don’t even touch half a bagel anymore, let alone a full one. Requires gobs of insulin to bring me back down into range, no matter how much I pre-bolus. Seriously, I’m finding that a donut requires less insulin than a bagel these days. Potatoes don’t seem to require much for me now. Bread, on the other hand, is a nuisance. Pepperidge Farm makes a low carb bread that I found a couple of weeks back though, and it actually tastes like bread and requires far less insulin to cover, so when I’m eating a sandwich or toast, it’s at least a decent option.

Other than that, I must admit to going primarily low carb in the last five or six months. Not crazy low carb, but… you know how People With Diabetes say that over the years, orange juice starts to taste like medicine instead of juice? Well, for me, mindless carbs are starting to look like poison to me. I still eat a little of the poison here and there, but I’m also okay with a salad for dinner and something like quinoa rather than rice. My BGs and my weight have responded positively.

Okay, so that’s a lot of my life right now. How’s it going with you? I’d really like to know. Let’s talk!
 

Something positive.

After so much death and sadness this past week, it feels good to do something positive.

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This is me, in the middle of donating blood last Saturday. This time, I donated double red blood cells. That bag you see hanging off of the machine in the background (the one that looks like it doesn’t belong) contains my plasma. Behind that was another bag that was just starting to collect my red blood cells.

Basically, the machine you see collects my blood, then separates the red blood cells from the plasma. Once it gathers enough red blood cells, it transfers those to the bag for collection. Then the plasma, along with an anti-coagulant, is pumped back into me through the same IV that took the blood out.

Does that sound creepy? Sorry. It’s actually kinda cool to me.

In case you haven’t read what I’ve written on this subject before, allow me to tell you that, if you live in the USA, and you have diabetes, and your diabetes isn’t old enough to have been treated with bovine or pork-based insulin; and you are, in the words of the American Red Cross, “well controlled on insulin or oral medications”, you may be eligible to donate blood. And I encourage you to consider doing so. You never know when it may be needed.

After this past week that included four high profile deaths due to cancer, the death of the Eagles’ Glenn Frey, and countless other deaths and injuries and infections that could have potentially been helped through a donation of my blood, I do consider it a responsibility to donate. If we’re eligible, it’s one of the easiest, most selfless things we can do.

And after a week like the one we’ve just had, it makes me feel like I’m finally doing something positive to push back against the sadness. I think that qualifies as a win-win. What do you think?
 
 
People living with diabetes may be eligible to donate blood in the United States. CLICK HERE For a full list of eligibility criteria.
 

I don’t know from Glycemic Index.

I’ve been trying out those sliced bagel things that I’ve been seeing in my grocery store lately. You know, the ones where the bagel is sliced horizontally into three or four slices, so you don’t have to choose to eat the entire thing at once (which, I admit, I am prone to do). I like a nice bagel in the morning, but in the last year or so, they have been affecting my post-prandial numbers to the degree that the bagel goodness wasn’t a good tradeoff for a mid-morning (or noontime) high BG anymore.

So I’ve been trying out eating about half the bagel for breakfast, instead of the whole thing. And guess what? The numbers still suck. And that’s frustrating. I can still eat a donut occasionally (about twice a year), and it doesn’t affect me this much. I’ll have an occasional pancake, and while I get an initial spike, I can usually bring it down well in advance of my next meal. Other things, like bagels, biscuits, and certain breads, forget about it. Zoom-pow! To the moon!

But it wasn’t always this way. Yes, those products have always caused higher numbers, but not to the degree, and as long lasting, as they do today. I’m not eating these things for every meal, or even every day, or even every week for that matter. But when I do, my blood sugar does not like it very much. Now I’m trying to find out why, and particularly, why now, when this wasn’t as much of a concern as before?

Hey, listen: I don’t know from glycemic index. I’ve been living long enough with diabetes (and been told by too many) that things like donuts and Chinese food are bad for my blood glucose; and celery and carrots and nuts and tree bark are good for my BGs. Unless, of course, it’s that sappy kind of tree bark. Okay, now I just want waffles…

Anyway, it’s not much farther from there where my knowledge of how specific carbohydrates react specifically to my diabetes ends. (It’s okay… I’ll wait a second in case you need to re-read that sentence)

I think I need to educate myself a little more about the Glycemic Index (if that’s what I really need to concentrate on), and how each item in my diet will affect me. Fortunately, I have lots of resources at my disposal: a simple Google search on “Glycemic Index” returned 1,670,000 results. The University of Sydney has a great search tool where you enter a food and it returns the glycemic index and the portion size that resulted in that index number. The American Diabetes Association has a super informational page on GI that, among other things, identifies low glycemic index foods as those with a score 55 or under. Medium GI foods are scored between 56 and 69, and High GI foods come in at 70 or above. The Harvard Medical School has a web page with over 100 food items and their GI numbers, including Raisin Bran and Snickers bars. Which I don’t really eat anymore.

Of course, like everything else having to do with my diabetes, these are great reference tools, but the devil is in the details. Nothing about a glycemic index chart will tell me why I react so poorly to something that I did not have a lot of trouble with before.

I like to kid people and tell them that the only two vices left in my life are salt and alcohol, and while I want to enjoy them for as long as I can, eventually I’ll have to give those up too.

Now it looks like I may have to add bagels to the list.
 
 
 

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