Tag Archives: 8 things

8 Things: Holiday gifts for everyone living with diabetes.

Hey, how are you? I hope you’re in the middle of a rather stupendous holiday season.

I hope that gifts are in order this year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or another holiday, giving and getting are AWESOME. So let’s look at 8 holiday gifts all People With Diabetes could really use this year:

1. More support. There are new diabetes diagnoses every day. There are new people waking up, like I did six years ago, realizing their diabetes doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

I hope those people find the hope and support that I found when I found this community. And I hope they pay it forward when they do.

2. Laughter. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I really laughed hard. I’m ready for something really funny to just knock me out of my chair.

Likewise, I think it would be really great if I could make someone else laugh too. I just hope it’s not because I did something really embarrassing at the same time.

3. Retail Competition for Closed Loop Systems. Honestly, the #WeAreNotWaiting movement, and all of the do-it-yourself systems it has spawned, has taken a bit of the wind out of the sails out of the commercial artificial pancreas designers out there.

Eventually, we know these systems (the iLet, Cell Novo, etc.) will be approved, but whenever we start to see rollout of non-DIY closed loop, I hope it’s not just one at a time. Good, reliable technology is what we need, and we need more than one option to choose from.

4. More knowledge sharing. Here at Happy Medium, I try to do my best to keep you as up-to-date as I can on the latest diabetes happenings, especially when it comes to news out of Washington, D.C., and items I gather from attendance at various conferences, research summits, and symposia.

I would like to see more of that from everyone in our community, or at least a sharing of resources for learning about new developments in diabetes. Not just, “Here’s the group I spoke in front of today”– which is still good, and should be shared– but also an occasional post that says, “I read this interesting thing today”, or “This event is happening in your area”. I don’t see much of that anymore.

5. A couple of diabetes memes. I can’t handle something new every week, but it’s fun when we can get out of whatever rut we’re in and post something on a common theme. Hey, I’m not the only one with good ideas!

I love Diabetes Blog Week, and I loved the social media #MakeDiabetesVisible campaign during Diabetes Awareness Month. Again, I don’t need a prompter all the time, but it might be cool to do a #dblog Check-in Day, or Diabetes Art Day, or No-D Day again.

6. A couple of recipes might be nice too. One of my favorite things to do here is share recipes, but I haven’t done a lot of that lately. Have I shared every recipe I know?

Chances are, I haven’t. Chances are, you haven’t either. Maybe it’s time to search our cookbooks (give credit where credit is due) and family recipes and deliver something new for everyone’s palate to enjoy.

7. Less Uncertainty. Let’s face it… we’ve been through the wringer on this Affordable Care Act thing. Ever since this time last year, we’ve all been worried out of our minds about whether ACA will still exist, and whether it will be as helpful and as accessible as it has been up to now.

We’ve always known it was broken. Damn few of us expected a so-called “fix” that would break it entirely. Let’s stop the uncertainty, congress. Let’s take away the roadblocks toward giving Americans the same healthcare rights available in every other decent nation in the world. Do that, congress, and maybe I’ll use the big C when I refer to you again.

8. More Kindness. Any change, meaningful change, change that lasts, begins and ends with kindness. Empathy. Decency. Change that lasts does not include cheating, lying, or calling people, even elected officials, names.

This gift could also go to some of our friends in the diabetes community, who have been less than friendly with people not living with their type of diabetes, or are fans of one cause but not another. We all want the same thing. Bashing each other to get there, or to get more notice, is a recipe for eventual failure. You might get your way initially. But no one is going to be excited about how you got there, and that will be shown in their overwhelming lack of support for you.
 
 
However you celebrate the holidays, I hope they are full of gifts, however you define them. And happiness, however you define it. Here’s to us this holiday season… may we celebrate many, many more!

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8 Questions… just because.

It’s been kind of a whirlwind week, in the middle of two or three whirlwind weeks in a row. Lots of things going on, some important news, and a few really sad stories outside of the Diabetes Community.

Since we’re busy and we’ve had a lot of dark clouds hanging over our collective heads lately, I think we all could use a break. So, without further ado, here are eight interesting diabetes questions based on, well, nothing really. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments. Here we go:

1. Insulin pump or MDI (multiple daily injections)? Or neither? We know that some people who live with Type 2 diabetes don’t take insulin at all, and some insulin users are using inhalable insulin. I’m still working with my Animas Vibe pump, even though Animas has decided to go out of business. Whatever you do to help manage your diabetes, if it’s working, you’re doing the right thing. Isn’t it great to have choices? When we’re allowed to have choices?

2. Dexcom or Libre? With U.S. FDA approval of Abbott’s Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor, I suspect this will be a question asked more and more in doctor’s offices and at diabetes conferences nationwide. These aren’t the only CGMs available, but they’re the only ones available as standalone devices (not required to be paired with an insulin pump). Again, it’s great to have choices, when we’re allowed to have choices.

3. Have you heard of The Affordable Insulin Project? This is another of DPAC’s efforts on an issue that affects millions of Americans. Check out the website and see how you can help spread the word and help make access to the life-saving drug that many cannot live without more affordable. To find out more, go to AffordableInsulinProject.org.

4. Have you donated insulin or supplies to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico? Insulin for Life USA is helping to coordinate efforts to send much-needed insulin and test strips to those impacted by hurricane Maria, and also hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Find out how you can help pay it forward by going to ifl-usa.org.

5. Are you donating blood? All of us were shaken this week by the news that hundreds were gunned down at a concert in Las Vegas. In response, many have donated blood via the American Red Cross. Did you know that many People With Diabetes in the USA can donate blood? Whether it helps victims in Vegas, or those closer to your home, every pint is necessary and so appreciated. I can state unequivocally that donating blood has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Consider donating too, then go to RedCrossBlood.org.

6. Did you watch the Sammies this year? Maybe you missed them because you were concentrating on the Emmys. The Sammies, or Service to America medals, are known as the Oscars of government service. They’re given each year to federal employees who are recognized as “breaking down barriers, overcoming huge challenges and getting results”. That’s especially true of Courtney Lias and Stayce Beck of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who have been instrumental in helping artificial pancreas research move from the “maybe, someday” stage to patient’s hands. I cannot say enough good things about them. Read about their incredible work HERE. Congratulations Stayce and Courtney!

7. Will I see you this weekend? Friends for Life comes to the Washington, D.C. area this weekend in Falls Church, Virginia. If you’re coming, I hope to see you as I advocate at the DPAC table in the exhibit area. Look for a brief recap in this space shortly.

8. Will I see you next weekend? When it rains, it pours, and diabetes events will be pouring over Northern Virginia like monsoon season in Myanmar this October, as the Diabetes UnConference and Diabetes Sisters’ Weekend for Women co-locate in Alexandria October 13-15. I will once again be a facilitator at the UnConference, and I am very much looking forward to getting together for peer-to-peer support, encouragement, and all the feels. I’ll let you know how it goes later in the month.
 
 
Those are my questions of the moment… have any answers, or questions of your own? Let me see yours in the comments below.

Getting Acquainted.

Now that I’m officially several weeks into my life on Dexcom, I just wanted to scribble down some notes for the purpose of keeping a record on how it’s been going so far.
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This is mostly stream of consciousness, but as usual, my stream of consciousness still contains several words. Hopefully, they are ones you’ll want to read. Here are eight observations on the early going with Dexcom.

1. I know that I have FDA approval to bolus based on my Dexcom G5 readings, but I haven’t done it yet. Okay, I may have pushed a one unit correction bolus through once or twice without doing a fingerstick, but that’s all. I’m not blousing for a meal based on my display. I’m confident in my Dexcom– I’m just not confident that it will be perfect 100 percent of the time, every single day. I would hate to over- or under-bolus based on the one time it’s off by a bit. I hate to think of the result of doing that. So, no dice to the bolus-off-Dex so far.

2. I’ve got to remember to order some Skin Tac or Opsite Flexfix or something to hold down my sensor, and soon. The peeling is real, folks.

3. At the Diabetes UnConference, I checked in with a couple of people to get their pointers on doing an upper arm insertion. I also looked at Daniele Hargenrader’s recent video showing her doing this. Then I did it. Then I loved it. It’s mostly out of the way, and the sensor works pretty good there. And the accuracy has been fantastic. Win-win-win.

4. I’m not interested in using my thigh or forearm for sensor placement. I use my thigh a lot for insulin pump infusion sites, and I’m guessing that using my forearm would be painful. This outlook is subject to change, as I should be from time to time. Also, I may be going back to using my midsection for a while anyway. More about that at another time.

5. Based on what I’m seeing up to now, it looks like the basal rate settings on my insulin pump are, frankly, stellar. Whether I’m high or low (you’re welcome Janelle Monae), once the peaks level out, if I don’t touch my pump, the line on my graph is pretty flat. I’m a little shocked, but happy that my endocrinologist and I were able to work this out without the benefit of a CGM to guide us.
dexcom100
6. I have avoided the newbie temptation to check my CGM graph every two minutes. I think that’s because of my Dexcom experience during clinical trials. Of course, not checking the receiver all the time means I’ve made the mistake of putting it on the table and walking out of the room every so often. I never said I was perfect.

7. That said, can I just say how much I really hate the fact that I still have to look at a pager-sized display to get my readings? I’m not buying the “We’re working on an Android solution” anymore. You’re not… just admit it. If I’m wrong about that, I’ll be the happiest guy around who ever had to eat his own words, and I will gladly eat those words in this very space.

8. Like anything, when things go well, you tend to see something in a very positive light. That’s where I am now. At the beginning, I had a failed transmitter which also cost me a few sensors, and that was extremely frustrating. I realize that how I use my CGM, and how I react to various things affecting my use of my CGM, may very well change over time. But I hope things remain positive. Because for the last couple of weeks, it hasn’t been a big problem to deal with, and that’s the only way I’m going to buy into the notion of wearing my Dexcom every single day.

Those are my initial observations. I wonder how I will feel about my CGM in a year? Only time will tell. The goal is to make it to another year and find out.

8 things to help you manage your blood sugar (and your life) over the holidays.

With another holiday season upon us, we have more chances than usual for our blood sugar to get out of whack. There are several reasons for this, and if you will permit me, I’m going to list eight of them here.

Why? Because I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my diabetes management over the holidays. So you can consider these a sort of “don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made” list.
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1. Be careful what, how, and when you drink. Others have written about alcohol and diabetes far better than I ever will. See HERE and HERE and HERE. Of course there are more chances to imbibe in December, and being careful does not always mean you have to say No. It just means it’s important to be aware of how alcohol affects your blood sugar. Hint: it’s not how you might think.

2. What about those parties? There’s no question there are more social situations right now than there are earlier in the year. Some of the questions I ask myself are: Is a party taking the place of a meal? Is it between meals, or later in the evening? It’s important for me to know, because it will help me determine whether I need to set a temporary basal on my pump (either higher or lower).

3. Keep up on the BG checks. If I know I’m going to a party that starts around 6:00 p.m. (around when I usually eat dinner), I can do a check before I leave the house and when I get to the party, so I have a good starting point before I decide to eat something. Of course, if you’re wearing a CGM, you’re going to be looking at that a little more often through the night, and that’s great. If the party includes some finger food but it’s not an actual meal, I’ll probably just bolus a little after I see what’s there to eat and guess what my carb intake might be. The point is to stay on top of my BGs in situations like this because it’s easy for me to have numbers that are not normal, for various reasons.

4. Do not over bolus. As someone who makes this mistake from time to time, let me say it again: Do not over bolus. Your diabetes numbers do not have to be perfect in December, and it’s probably best that you don’t set yourself up for disaster by trying too hard to get to 100 mg/dL. If you’re checking your numbers a lot anyway, you’re obviously doing what you can to mitigate super high numbers. Don’t make it worse by rage blousing and winding up with a hypoglycemic EMT or ER visit at the holidays. I’ve been there. If I can help it, I won’t make this mistake again.

5. That said, Yes, you can eat that. Hey, don’t look to me for validation for eating that cupcake with the red and green sprinkles. But if you do it, don’t complain about a high BG number later. Most of us are adults. We’re capable of making our own decisions, while usually recognizing where the line is, even if we do cross it once in a while. Ignore that crummy “sugar free” [insert dessert name here]. Often, the carb count isn’t any less than the real thing. It just doesn’t taste as good, and sometimes it’s laced with sorbitol, which means if you do eat it, you might be spending more time than usual in the bathroom, rather than with your friends and family.

6. Go with the flow. Like I said in the last paragraph, your numbers are not always going to be perfect. Do you want to concentrate on diabetes perfection, or do you want to enjoy special times with family and friends? We’re meant to celebrate the holidays, not obsess over our next A1c.

7. Have a diabuddy? When spending time in places and among people where your diabetes isn’t well known, it’s especially helpful if someone else in attendance “gets it”. If your spouse, or a friend who knows you and/or your diabetes well can attend with you, you’ll have the added feeling that no matter what happens, someone will be there who understands you and can help you when you need it. Who doesn’t like to have a wingman? Bonus tip: a bracelet or necklace announcing your status as a Person With Diabetes is almost as good.

8. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Be grateful. Be nice. It’s okay to talk diabetes (it’s kind of hard for me not to talk about diabetes), but it’s a festive time too. Ask someone else how they’re doing. Tell someone how happy you are to see them. Wish them all the best this holiday season.
 
 
So remember to check often. Be careful while imbibing. Don’t be too hard on yourself. And have a happy and fun time this December.

8 Things about my diabetes.

This blog is a place for me to write about diabetes, but it’s also a place for me to write about my diabetes. So today, I’m telling you eight things you might not know about what’s going on in my life, diabetes-wise:
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1. Diabetes By The Numbers is not going away. As seems to happen with all things audio in my life, technology has let me down. I had been recording my podcast interviews through my ten year old laptop, and frankly, it’s just running out of juice. It was having trouble recording my interviews without garbling up important parts of what people were saying. If I’m going to do this podcasting thing, I want to have as good a sound as I can get. So I’ve invested in a new laptop (prices have really come down– this has more computing power for about a thousand bucks less than a decade ago). So look for new episodes of Diabetes By The Numbers soon. I don’t know about you, but I miss it.
 
 
2. I’m finally seeing doctors again. After writing about letting my appointments with various doctors slide for a while, I made a couple of phone calls. I have an appointment with my endocrinologist this afternoon, which, actually, I’m looking forward to. It’s been about 4 1/2 months since my last visit, and we have lots to discuss. I’ll let you know if there are any great nuggets that come out of this appointment. There usually are.

I’m also seeing a new ophthalmologist in a few weeks. Fingers crossed that this one is a little more detailed than the last one. Plus, I need a new prescription.
 
 
3. I’m training for a 5K run. This is my local neighborhood run, that takes place about five minutes away from my house. I had run this race every year for about ten years until I had knee surgery last June. This is my comeback run, my first athletic event in two years. I’ve lost weight in the past year, but I’m still not in great shape, so I don’t expect to do well. I don’t care. Simply put, this event is very important to me, and I will participate, even if I have to crawl my way to the finish line.

Then it’s back to the bike for a while.
 
 
4. I will be in Orlando in July. Actually, I should say I hope to be in Orlando in July, provided I can get the okay from my job to take off that week. I plan to be onsite during the Friends for Life conference, but I’m not necessarily going as an attendee. The plan is to go to MasterLab (sponsored by Diabetes Hands Foundation, which is letting me attend for free) on July 6, and then I’ll be working in the exhibit hall on the 6th, 7th, and 8th. If you’re going to be there, please come by and see me… there’s something I want you to do, and it will help all of us living with and affected by diabetes. I mean it.
 
 
5. It won’t be long before September is here. And September means… the Diabetes UnConference Atlantic City, September 9-11! In case you’re wondering, yes, this is the weekend of the Miss America pageant, which is held there each year, and while those festivities are occurring, scores of adults living with diabetes and the people who love us will be getting together for the only peer-to-peer conference of its kind. We’ll be talking about all the psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes 24/7/365. There will also be fun get-togethers, new friends made, lots of acceptance and support, and probably some hugs too when the UnConference makes its way to the U.S. east coast for the first time. Check out the super team of facilitators. I’ll bet you can recognize one or two.

More to come as deadlines near. I don’t want you to miss out on anything! To find out more, CLICK HERE. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I will be one of the facilitators in Atlantic City this September, and I can’t wait.
 
 
6. I will be hosting DSMA next week. I’ve been keeping to about a once-per-month schedule moderating the fastest hour of the week, the DSMA Twitter Chat, which happens every Wednesday at 9:00 p.m.(US). The other moderators are (of course) Cherise Shockley, Kelly Kunik, and Chelcie Rice. The DSMA chat is great fun, and it’s a great way to meet others from the diabetes community, all while answering prompts from the moderator. It’s been a great honor to help lead the community discussion on both important and fun topics, and that honor continues next week.

If you’d like to participate, it’s easy. First: get a Twitter account. Second: follow the @DiabetesSocMed Twitter handle and/or the #DSMA hashtag to participate. Come and join the conversation!
 
 
7. Still going on the Animas Vibe pump. I’ve been on the Vibe for about six months now, with a short break in April (I ran out of supplies– I’ll get that worked out with my endo today). Overall, the pump has been durable and delivers insulin like nobody’s business, but there are definitely things I don’t like about it. No use complaining anymore… I’m stuck with this one for another 3 1/2 years. Boo on the local trainer who was going to get together with me to show me some of the more intricate features of the pump. I got sick just before we were scheduled to meet, so I had to cancel. After that, repeated phone messages have been met with only silence. Maybe I can hit up the people working at the Animas booth in Florida for a quick tips and tricks session.
 
 
8. My diabetes circle is getting bigger. I work in a building with about 500 or 600 other people. Lawyers, admin assistants, architects, financial wizards. Just a couple of years ago I didn’t know anyone there who was living with diabetes. As far as I knew (though I knew it wasn’t true), I was the only one. Well, now I know three, two Type 2s, and a Type 1 who is wearing the same insulin pump that I wear. He got his first. It’s a double edged sword, really… I’m happy to know there are a few others around who get it, but I’m not happy that they have to live with this stupid condition too.
 
 
Okay… so that’s what’s happening in my world lately. What’s new with you?
 

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