Diabetes Blog Week 2012 – Day 4

Welcome back to Day 4 of Diabetes Blog Week 2012!

The topic for today is “Fantasy Diabetes Device:”

Fantasy Diabetes Device – Thursday 5/17: Today let’s tackle an idea inspired by Bennet of Your Diabetes May Vary. Tell us what your Fantasy Diabetes Device would be? Think of your dream blood glucose checker, delivery system for insulin or other meds, magic carb counter, etc etc etc. The sky is the limit – what would you love to see?

My fantasy diabetes device is really not all that fantastical. You may or may not know that JDRF is already working on creating an artificial pancreas. Though not a cure for diabetes, an artificial pancreas would be totally and utterly awesome because it would be to predict and respond to my bloodsugar levels automatically, like most people’s pancreases do everyday.

But, while the FDA decides whether or not it wants to move forward with the artificial pancreas, let’s focus on something a little less fantastical: a smaller insulin pump with a reliable built-in CGM. My pump isn’t huge by any means, but it would be great if it could more easily slip into my jeans pocket, or more easily hide in general. And while Medtronic does produce a CGM that’s integrated with the pump that I use, the sensors were unreliable and painful enough that I made the switch to the Dexcom system, which added a not-so-pleasant, football-shaped device to the list of need-to-carry’s for my diabetes care.

Let me be honest for a moment: I still get asked “IS THAT A PAGER?!?” often enough to wish that people were more educated about diabetes and insulin pumps… or that I could just hide it somewhere out of sight!



p.s. Sorry to the guy at Starbucks in Redlands last Saturday! You were nice and overly apologetic when I replied, “no, it’s not a pager; it’s an insulin pump,” but our conversation was awkward and I’d rather just not have conversations like that at this point in my life! :)

Diabetes Blog Week 2012 – Day 3

Welcome back to Day 3 of Diabetes Blog Week 2012!

The topic for today is “One Thing to Improve:”

One Thing to Improve – Wednesday 5/16: Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at.  Today let’s look at the flip-side.  We probably all have one thing we could try to do better.  Why not make today the day we start working on it.  No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

One thing that I do need to improve is adjusting the basal rates on my pump. Basal rates are the baseline amount of insulin that my pump is programmed to deliver. They’re the little amounts of insulin I get every hour, the pump equivalent to taking a shot of long-acting insulin to maintain my bloodsugar through the day. They can be adjusted to fine-tune each person’s needs, which is what I need to improve.

It’s not as simple as just adding more here and there, or reducing them just a bit every so often. Each change should be calculated precisely so as to keep myself from being too low or too high at any point in the day. Insulin is a hormone that lasts in my* body for about 5 hours. So, to adjust the basal rate that’s affecting my bloodsugars at noon, I would have to analyze my basal rates at 7am and earlier. (*I said my body because, like food, different people metabolize insulin at different rates–thus adding to the complications of diabetes management.)

Recently, I kept waking up low, but then my bloodsugar would spike about an hour after I got up, even though I had determined that I wasn’t over-treating the low (a.k.a. eating too much). After uploading my CGM data to my computer and verifying when the drops and inclines were happening, I actually ended up increasing the amount of insulin I received in the early morning hours, while decreasing it in the late evening. The process of fine-tuning my morning basal rates took a few tries over a week or so until I finally got it to work decently. But it caused another problem… Since I made that adjustment, I’ve been having more mid-to-late-afternoon lows than I was. Now what? It’s time to adjust those basals again! In the meantime, I’ve been stocking up on juice and granola bars for my afternoon snack.

As you might guess, basal adjustment is an on-going process, and I need to get better at keeping up with my body’s needs!


Diabetes Blog Week 2012 – Day 2

Welcome back to Day 2 of Diabetes Blog Week 2012!

The topic for today is “One Great Thing:”

One Great Thing – Tuesday 5/15: Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”.  But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit.  Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly!  Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes.  Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!

One thing that I do really well is to keep snacks on my nightstand. This is a really simple concept, but one that I didn’t adopt until I started using a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (CGM) a little less than a year ago. Why the change?

Well, usually, before using a CGM, I would wake up in the middle of the night from being low when I hit 45 or 50. Then I’d stumble downstairs and eat practically everything in the pantry before heading back up and getting in bed. 

With the Dexcom, I have my low alert set to 70, which means that it starts vibrating and/or beeping if my bloodsugar reaches or goes below 70. This is a good thing because I’ll know before I fall too low that my bloodsugar is heading down. And, overnight, the Dexcom will wake me up before I get too low.

Since I’m only about 70 when it starts buzzing, I don’t have to eat the entire pantry to raise my bloodsugar to a decent level. Instead, I’ll eat the recommended 15g of carbohydrates and wait until my bloodsugar goes back up before indulging further. With snacks at my bedside, I have those 15g of carbs within reach (usually a small box of juice or sometimes a granola bar) so I can eat or drink up and go right back to sleep, knowing that good ol’ Dex will wake me again if my bloodsugar decides that 15g of carb just isn’t enough.

And there’s an added bonus! Since I’m not gorging myself on everything in sight, I don’t usually experience the rebound high anymore. It’s such a simple concept, yet it’s relatively new to me, and I’m glad I’ve adopted it!


Diabetes Blog Week 2012 – Day 1

Howdy y’all!

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since I was posting about Diabetes Blog Week 2011?! I sure can’t! Well, believe it or not, it’s time for Diabetes Blog Week 2012!

Karen has a whole list of topics I’ll be discussing over the next week, and we’re kicking it off with today’s topic, “Find A Friend:”

Find A Friend – Monday 5/14: It seems the most popular thing about Diabetes Blog Week is that it helps us find blogs we weren’t reading yet and connect with some new blog friends.  With that in mind, let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by making some new connections.  Think about the d-blogs you read that you think we may not know about and introduce us to one that you love!!  Let’s all find a new friend today!

There are two bloggers that I would like to introduce to you today: Faye Bernoulli and Mike Lawson.

Faye Bernoulli is a fabulous wedding and portrait photographer currently based in Philadeplphia, PA (but soon moving to Northern California!). She introduced herself to me after finding my blog when she was looking for other photographers with diabetes. We’ve chatted online and via Facebook, and she helped me get used to keeping the Dexcom receiver on my person, but I can’t get over her gorgeous photography! Head over to her website or blog to check it out!

Mike Lawson uses his blog, What Some Would Call Lies, to tell hilarious stories that may or may not be true. I found him through last year’s Diabetes Blog Week and have been following him since then. He records and posts weekly podcasts that I highly recommend (especially this one!) and his Mirror Mantras are sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, and usually true. He recently launched an online community for diabetic teens called 1 Sweet Life and is an all-around awesome guy! Definitely check him out!

Happy Monday!


Hope on My Hands

There’s this thing happening on Facebook today called “Write HOPE on your hands for diabetes” in honor of March 1 being “Hope for a cure for Diabetes” day. The concept is simple:

Write HOPE on your hands, and show your support for someone you love with diabetes, then post the photos here and tell us WHO you’re writing Hope on your hands for.

Though my mom was promised a cure within ten years when I was diagnosed (in–*cough cough*–1988!), I learned on Saturday that a cure is really far away. Clay and I went to JDRF San Diego’s Family Day at the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology. It was really cool because we got to listen to a research update from Dr. Matthias von Herrath, M.D., who is currently working on JDRF-funded research to cure diabetes. Pretty rad! Anyway, though we’d all LOVE to have a cure right around the corner, he highlighted what’s going on now with research and why it’s so hard to find a dang cure. Basically, pancreases are fickle creatures with many jobs, and don’t care to be poked and prodded in the name of research. (I know, RUDE!)

So what does that have to do with today, “Hope for a cure for Diabetes” day?

Well, a lot. Just because there’s not a cure right around the corner, doesn’t mean there will never be a cure. True, I may not see a cure in my lifetime. But, what if we–you and me and everyone on the earth right now–were so successful in our quest for the cure that the next generation never saw Type 1 Diabetes, and it floated into the history books to stay? Now that would be awesome.

In the meantime, I’ll keep checking my bloodsugar, planning my meals, wearing my continuous glucose monitor, bolusing early, and exercising to stave off all the effects of poor diabetes management. But that never means I’ll loose