Tag Archives: blood glucose

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.
 

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Throw me a frickin’ bone here…

I was a victim of one of those stupid unexplained, recurring lows the other day.

Near the end of my workday, I had to excuse myself from a meeting and reschedule because I couldn’t focus. I knew something was wrong. A quick glucose check revealed a 47 mg/dL reading.

So immediately, I shut off my pump. I did not have any insulin on board at that time. I ate a fruit cup that was hiding in my desk drawer for just such an occasion, and just for good measure I ate a couple of pieces of candy too. Okay, three pieces.

I performed another check half an hour later (it’s supposed to be 15 minutes, I know, sue me), and I was at 170 mg/dL. This was at the end of my day, and figuring I was at a safe number, I turned my pump back on. I should also note that to err on the safe side, my basal setting between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. is significantly below what my basal rate is at any other time of day, because that’s usually when I’m finishing up my day and traveling home.

I made it home, let the dog out, looked at the mail, and then did another BG check. Can you believe it?

52 mg/dL

I made my kicked-up ramen noodle recipe for dinner
, and due to the day’s previous events, I definitely under-bolused. Or so I thought. 2½ hours later? I was at 62 mg/dL.

Sometimes diabetes throws us a curve ball, and we need to try and deal with it the best we can.

It would be nice, however, if diabetes would throw me a frickin’ bone now and then.


 
 
 

Just stop it already.

What a beautiful weekend of weather we just experienced here in the Mid-Atlantic. Sunny days, highs in the 80s. The Great Spousal Unit and I worked on getting things uncovered and cleaned up on our screened porch off the back of our house. These are the days that feel just fantastic outside.

So I was certainly excited at the possibility of getting on my bike for an actual outdoor ride for the first time in six months. I had too much to do on Saturday, so I knew Sunday was the day. On Sunday, there were pressing issues at home that required my attention. But I planned things out so I could do my ride beginning at 2:00 in the afternoon.

I had a high-carb lunch about 12:30. I made sure not to bolus too much, knowing I would be out in the hottest part of the day burning off those carbs. I got my bike out, checked everything to make sure it was okay, inflated the tires, and changed my clothes. To be sure, I did a quick glucose check before I got started.

The result: 55 mg/dL

What made it worse was the fact that I still had a unit and a half of insulin on board. So I knew that even after stopping my pump and ingesting a few more carbs, it would take a while before I could raise my BG to the level that I would feel safe riding for an hour. I decided to just bag the ride and try to head to the gym on Monday morning before work.

I don’t generally go around feeling like everything is my fault. But if I ever do, it’s at times like this. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to ride this weekend. And when that 55 came in, I was pretty unconsolable. I’m feeling pretty out of shape (pretty much like I have at this time every year for the past thirty years), and I hate when I miss opportunities like this weekend.

But… I’ve got to just stop it already. Sure, Sunday’s ride was a bust, and I think it’s okay to be very unhappy about that. But I also know I can’t change it now. The only thing I can do is the absolute best I can do today. Yesterday was a point of disgust for me. I’m not above using it for motivation to crush those feelings of feeling crushed today and the rest of this week.

I hope you’ll join me in feeling that way, both about my preparation for the ADA’s Chesapeake Bay Tour de Cure in May, and about your daily journey with diabetes. It’s not about your diabetes. At least it doesn’t have to be about your diabetes. It can be about the great life you’re living. Or at least about the inspiration you provide in trying your best every day despite this stupid diabetes. Just stop it already. You are worth the journey. And you are worth far more than whatever you’re going through.
 
 
 

Holiday goodness.. and badness, all at the same time.

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Man, the holidays can be tough sometimes.

I’m talking about the difficulty of keeping your glucose in a good range despite all of the festive cheer that adorns plates and cups and crock pots full of cider and filing cabinets at the office with cookies, and lions, and tigers, and bears… oh my!

I don’t have any great advice for you on how to avoid the temptations and spikes to your glucose that giving in to those temptations means at this time of year.

Instead, I’ll tell you what works for me (most of the time—not always). Hopefully, there will be a nugget or two for you in here.

First of all, I try to perform BG checks a lot during this time. There are two reasons for this: 1) If I check, I know how to bolus, or adjust basal rates, of course. And 2) If I check, and I’m not in an optimal place, I know I have to wait. This doesn’t always work for everyone, I know, so it’s not advice. But for me, a high number often shames me into just saying no.

That said… Second, I try to never say never to anything. But in my case, I really try to think of less. If I think, “hey, I’d like to have some crab dip on some of that great bread in the basket there”, I’ll give myself about 15 minutes before I actually go for it. Often, that 15 minutes makes the difference, and I don’t go for the crab dip, or maybe I just forego the bread. I don’t do this all day, but if I do it here and there, and it works, I wind up eating or drinking less than I might have in the first place. Every little bit helps. Oh… if I do all this and I still have trouble with my glucose, I try to remind myself where I’d be if I hadn’t done all of this in the first place.

Third, I remind myself that there are certain truths regarding the holiday goodies. They are good. Because they are often things I don’t have the rest of the year, they’re harder to bolus for. Other than a snack in the evening, eating at any time other than mealtime is just not my thing (though, truthfully, you wouldn’t know that by looking at me). And I know that I won’t be tempted by this stuff a month from now. It is the holiday season after all, not the holiday year. It makes sense if our numbers are off from time to time in December. Which makes having a number that’s in a good place really fulfilling right now. I hope you get more than a few of those 80 mg/dL – 120 mg/dL readings this month.

Thanks for letting me write this out. It feels good getting this out of my head. Again, it’s not advice, it’s just what works for me. I’m just trying to enjoy the holidays without a ton of guilt, while keeping the BGs in a place I’m comfortable with. That’s like climbing an icy roof this time of year. But keeping track of where I am, making do with less, not none, and understanding the realities of holiday fare makes things a little easier for me to handle.

I wish you luck with your holiday indulgences. Have any great tips for me?
 
 
 

Tour de Talbot recap.

Okay… My 55 miles in the Tour de Talbot on Saturday was not my favorite experience on the bicycle.

I was running late all morning, I forgot to put on sunscreen (no burn issues after all), I almost forgot to put on my riding gloves (and I’m soooo glad I didn’t), the weather was iffy, and my BGs did not want to play fair. But when do they ever play fair? Heck, I didn’t even get a photo of anything on Saturday, except my dog when I got home. Not to worry, I won’t bore you with it here. But I did complete the 55 mile journey, in roundabout fashion, and today I have a sore behind and a sense of accomplishment.

So let’s start at the beginning. BG at the start: 219 mg/dL. This is entirely due to the fact that I didn’t bolus for breakfast. I woke up at 81 mg/dL, and I didn’t want to be nearly that low when I started the ride. And yeah, I ate a lot of carbs for breakfast. I set my temporary basal rate at 30 percent for 5 hours.

This is the most laid back event ever. I think I mentioned that last year too, but it’s true. Somebody gives a speech at the beginning that hardly anyone can hear, then we’re off without a horn, or crowds cheering, or any of that. Down a paved two lane driveway and out onto the highway that goes between Easton, Maryland and St. Michael’s (more on that later).

We wound around a bit and then, about three or four miles in, suddenly we’re on a gravel road. Gravel. On my thin little road bike tires. This went on for about three or four miles, I think, and the whole time I’m hearing the same complaints and hopes coming from the other riders. Mostly, “I hope I don’t wipe out on this gravel”, and “I hope I don’t get a flat tire from this gravel”. Oh, and “Who’s idea was this?”. And these are still roads that are traveled by vehicles, mostly local residents and big farm trucks kicking up gravel as they pass by. And this was just the first gravel road we traveled. I started counting the riders on the side of the road with tire issues. I counted ten in 55 miles.

We hit the first rest stop 12 miles in. Even though it’s only quarter past eight in the morning, the salty pickles out on the table at this stop really looked good. But I passed them up in favor of a salty/sweet nut bar. These are usually my go-to snack on these rides. BG at this stop: 129 mg/dL. Pretty crazy, right? I dropped 90 points in about 45 minutes. With a 30 percent temp basal and breakfast carbs still working in my body (I think).

The next part of the trip wasn’t too bad. 18 miles to the next stop. Someone drafted behind me for about the last ten miles of that segment, but it was okay and we made good time. I made the mile 12 to mile 30 segment in a little less than an hour. That’s pretty good for me, on a long ride anyway. At the stop I had another nut bar and waited about ten minutes to let my body calm down a bit after working hard. BG at this stop. 82 mg/dL. I don’t want to worry anymore, so I just shut off my pump for the rest of the ride, and grabbed a banana at the rest stop too. Instead of climbing a steep incline after the stop, I decided to walk my bike to the top of the hill before climbing on for the next 12 mile segment. I’m glad I did.

The next 12 miles were probably the hardest 12 miles I’ve ever biked. About a mile after the rest stop, we turned onto another gravel road. Not as bad as the first gravel road we were on, but I had to make sure I didn’t get too far toward the shoulder or I would definitely have been in trouble. But I also had issues with the weather.

The same front that brought rain to the JDRF Ride for a Cure in Nashville was making its way toward the mid-Atlantic. Ahead of the front were some pretty strong 15 to 30 mile per hour winds from the south. On this stretch, we were riding south (on the gravel road) for about five or six miles. The rest of this part went pretty much straight south too. Straight into the wind. In short, it was brutal. I was never more grateful to reach a rest stop.

I took a moment to sit down and collect myself, and check my BG again: 66 mg/dL. Are you kidding me? My pump’s been off for an hour (and yes, it took me an hour to bike 12 miles). So now, I have to decide if I can even continue. I started with some glucose tabs, then loaded up on handfuls of pretzels for about 20 minutes. When I checked after being at this stop for 30 minutes, I was at 149 mg/dL. At this point, I felt like I could make it the final 12 miles, especially since we weren’t supposed to go any further south.

Shortly after leaving this stop, I connected with a couple of riders who were on my route, so I decided to ride in with them. Now it gets even more interesting. We’re about six or seven miles away from the finish, and we must have missed a turn. Because it wasn’t marked. I had been hearing about issues like this all day. Signs pointed in the wrong direction by pranksters. Arrows marked along the roadway pulled up. That must have been what happened to us, because before we knew it, about the three of us were in the heart of Easton. This was not on the route map. Now what to do? Well, I knew how to get back from where we were, and I wasn’t interested in going back to look for a missed turn, and I didn’t know whether the rest of the route was marked properly either. My decision was to go the way I knew to go to reach the finish. The two riders I had been with since the last stop thought that was the thing to do too, so we rode right through historic downtown Easton, then over to the main highway back to the start/finish.

Then, the final joke: When we near the finish, there were volunteers at the two lane driveway, which was now closed, directing us to go to the next driveway and turn right. So we did that, turning onto the worst stretch of one lane gravel road on the entire trip. With vehicles leaving the venue, coming right at us.

Somehow, we made it through and I was able to finish. BG at the end: 88 mg/dL. I can’t say that I’ll sign up for this ride next year. There were a lot of tough, grind it out miles, but overall, I can say that I’m happy to have been tested and passed the test. We claim our victories were we find them. This one wasn’t pretty, but in the end, it was a success.
 
 
 

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