Monday, December 19, 2011

Breaks and Vacations

I just finished my last exam of the semester today. Cell biology will never haunt me again unless I have to retake it (let's all cross our fingers for me!). Technically, I have the next four weeks off. In reality, I should spend some large portion of that time writing grant proposals, reading research papers, figuring out where I want to go in the future, and the steps I need to take to get there.

School vacations always threw me off. Either I'd want to do nothing but relax and then get bored of being a slug only to pick up a tutoring job or research position, or I'd have grandiose plans to read novels or build things that I couldn't during the semester and instead end up sleeping my time away.

I'm looking forward to seeing friends and family that I miss like crazy. To rock climbing with my old crew at least once. To sleeping for eight hours guilt free. To getting some exercise regularly on purpose. Oh yeah, and seeing my endocrinologist to check up on my diabetes, which makes me think of another kind of vacation...

For 10 of the 14 years I've had diabetes, I've never taken a purposeful break from my pump. Yes, I've squeezed in a few dozen shots of insulin when my pumps broken (which I think has only happened 3 or 4 times). And yes, I've occasionally taken shots to tide me over between site changes. With my recent adventures in rotating infusion sites (fairly unsuccessfully, I think), I've been thinking more about just putting my pump away in a drawer for a while. But the thought of that scares me, just a little.

My schedule is... well kind of a nightmare. It's inconsistent. Everyday is different just by the virtue of my classes and visiting lecturers and the nature of research. I've gotten used to being able to dial up or down my basal rates for stress or exercise and extend a bolus for crazy food combinations. I always thought being on shots required more... discipline than I have. Take a shot of long acting twice a day everyday at the same time. Take multiple shots of short acting for all the food consumed for meals and snacks. Which makes me wonder about how much I'd like popping out a pen or a shot when I take just one measely unit for those lectures with free snacks outside where I grab a tiny plate of melon, even if I just ate lunch or dinner is in an hour. It's easy when it's a button. Not so easy when it's a shot.

My mother would never understand why I'd ever take a break. She thinks that my insulin pump is the greatest thing since sliced bread and has always advocated giving pumps to kids even when they were hesitant to give them to teenagers. But I've been making my own decisions about diabetes for a few years now. That shouldn't really be a factor but it's bouncing through my head.

Just cause I'm taking a break from my pump (hypothetically) wouldn't mean I'm taking a break from Eggy (my CGM) so any fear of lows or highs from being on multiple daily injections should be nonexistent. Right?

Maybe I'm over thinking this, and it's just something I have to try. Or maybe I've been stuck with my pump for so long that I'm too comfortable to let go.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

I was planning on penning a letter to Eggy (my faithful Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor) today.

Instead, I'm here to tell you that I am unwell. Somehow over the sleepless nights, lots of diet coke, and preparation for my exams, I have managed to acquire a urinary tract infection and some sort of happy cold. And because of that, I am MISERABLE. If you've never had a UTI before, be very, VERY grateful. It hurts. And requires lots and lots of water. I feel a little bit like a fish...

How does Diabetes factor into this whole thing? Well since D is an autoimmune condition, my awesome rampant immune system seems to get confused and makes me more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. It took me many years to understand how my overactive immune system wasn't fighting off every bacteria or virus that came along my way.

Trying to figure out how to balance sleep, studying, and my health just got MUCH harder. Only 3 more days til my exams are over...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It Burns!

My big brown eyes have been in quite a bit of pain today.

I managed to see a new ophthalmologist today. What was supposed to be a cold winter day somehow became a nice autumn day, with lots and lots of sun.

In case you didn't already know, a dilated eye appointment is required each year to scope out your retina (aka the back of your eyeball). Since raging glucocoasters harden blood vessels and the little one in your retina are kind of important to seeing, diabetes can have a severe impact on your vision so getting them checked out is vital. The drops that they put in your eye to dilate the retina are usually preceded by numbing drops. Somehow, either the nurse forgot to give me those drops or the solution was just a little past their prime, because for the first time in 14 years, the dilation drops burned. With the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. She might as well have just put some vinegar in there...

On the upside, my eyes are very healthy and show no signs of retinopathy or glaucoma. Yay for being healthy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dusting Off My Writing Skills

I've been a random-time/day blogger for a little while now. But I think I'm ready to commit to at least 3 blog posts a week. I'm aiming to update MWF (for consistency sake). Hopefully, this will help me dust off (read: develop) my writing skills and maybe ramble a little less.

When my Google calender surreptitiously announced that it was December, I started to panic.

When you're a college student, December means that a semester is about to end. Exams. Papers. Projects. They all begin to pile up and impede on simple things like workouts, regular meals, and sleep.

For me as a diabetic with the privilege of health insurance, December means the end of annual coverage aka check up time. Some people schedule to see doctors across the year, or the summer, or the start of the year. For me, the fancy specialists I see once year all get crammed into December.

Since I moved to a new place this year, it meant trying to schedule time to call and see new doctors. I was really lucky to manage to find specialists with openings within the next two weeks. So far this December I have acquired a comprehensive primary care doctor (annual physical & REALLY important school paperwork) and a podiatrist. My ophthalmologist appointment is on Wednesday.

To be honest, I never really cared for seeing a podiatrist. They spend a few minutes looking at my feet, a few minutes poking the bottom with a fun flexible needle, and a few minutes holding a tuning fork to my foot. Minus the tickling (laughter is the best medicine after all), I don't understand what looking at my feet for about 10 minutes would do that I couldn't just vocalize. i already know that temporary tingling and numbness in the feet is usually caused by nerve compression (bad shoes or socks). Especially since I can recite all the nerves that I may be impinging upon to cause such ailments, seeing a doctor for my feet numbs my brain... but I do it anyway.

Also for some reason, every time I see a podiatrist, there are always people 4 times my age in the waiting room leering at me and wondering "Why is this perfectly healthy young lady seeing MY foot doctor?" Listen nice old lady, I'm not here committing a crime. I (potentially) have feet problem too.

This time I learned something new though (and I'm happy whenever that happens at a doctor's appointment). Apparently, the Achilles Tendon stiffens over time with Diabetes. This is particularly a problem for people who have poor flexibility in that tendon from birth (genetic and environmental factors). On the upside, level of dorsal flexion (basically how far back you can push the base of my foot up toward my calf) and therefore, my Achilles tendon is in good shape so far.

When I went to the receptionist to schedule my appointment for next year, she said I'd have to call next September. Apparently she's baffled by scheduling out that far. That foot doctor is lucky I like him otherwise that would've been enough to make me try someone else. Here's to hoping I remember to call.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

So much to write about...


I feel like I barely have breathing room at the moment. I was a little disappointed that I haven't been able to fill you in on all the interesting, exciting, and frustrating things going on at the moment.

I've almost survived a whole semester of doctoral work. All I have left:
  • 18 Days
  • 3 Papers
  • 2 Exams
  • 1 Presentation (not in peaaaaaaaar treeeee!)
  • Many many sleepless nights...
  • Babs (@babssoup) & Her Husband (@kssoup)
    Easily one of the cutest couples ever. We went out to the Macaroni Grill and it was awesome because we played with crayons on the table cloth. And Lobster Ravioli. I made them my Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies. Babs and I talked for hours about... well... everything. It was fantastic.
  • Cherise (@diabetic_iz_me)
    Someone who's impacted so much change wanted to meet little old me? And she had a special request for some pumpkin pie (and she got a WHOLE lot more baked loving in sugar cookie madness). I loved listening to her ideas and drive to reach as many diabetics out there as possible. Tons of fun on our brief breakfast encounter.
  • Steven and Stephanie of LivingVertical (@LivingVertical) [Okay not quite but it's coming!]
    I'm in awe of these two, because they managed to figure out how to do what they love ALL the time, instead of just as a hobby. They're overcoming diabetes one rock at a time across the US everyday of 2012. They went climbing this weekend in Boston with my awesome friend, Fatima (@shahzadii). Let's just say they were on my mind and here's the photographic proof that I was on theirs!
Diabetes Adventures (in brief):
  • Switched Infusion Sets from the Silhoutte to the Mio!
    - Love that I can tell the tubing where to come out from. Makes alternate sites a little less complicated
    - Had a few fights with the built-in inserter, but I think we're on better terms now
    - Not totally comfortable with removing the needle by pulling on a giant plastic hub
    - Day 3 seems to be a little on the less effective side. Play around with that later.
  • I tried putting my Dexcom in on my hip (didn't go so well)
    - Thought moving my Dex to somewhere else would be easier than using alternate site for infusion sets
    - Good logic, poor execution
    - May not have worked cause I was in such a hurry (welcome to the whirlwind that is my life)

  • Terrifying experience at the Pharmacy
    - Called in for Test Strips and Novolog
    - Test strips needed a new prescription but they'd call the doc
    - Arrive at pharmacy to find JUST test strips waiting for me
    - Apparently the last pharmacy (in NH) had billed the insurance for 3 months for a 1 month supply
    - Insurance wasn't going to cover more right now
    - Pharmacy in NH said they'd just give me the difference when I came there
    - Wasn't planning on making that 5 hour journey for another... 4 weeks.
    - The AWESOME Pharmacist just gave me 3 vials to tide me over and said to deal with the other people when I get back to NH.

  • Won a free class at Type 1 University
    - I called in on DSMA live and correctly answered the following question:
    What are the names of the two hormones lacking in Type 1 Diabetes?
    - The answer is Insulin (which I think all of us know by now) and Amylin (which acts on stomach nerves to slow down the rate of digestion and aid glycemic control)
    - There are too many awesome classes for me to choose from so I'm picking my top 3 and letting you guys do the rest (just leave your vote in the comments!)
    *Blood Glucose Control During Sport & Exercise
    *Strike the Spike: After-Meal Glucose Control
    *Weight Loss for Insulin Users
    - Live Classes seem to all be in January so we'll see which class has the most votes in 2 weeks
Thanks for your help as always and for reading all my ramblings.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

When There Are No Words...

I'm too busy to write so instead I'm posting my baking pictures from the week. I think they all tasted delicious!

The unfortunately burnt DSMA cookie... One of these days...

Blue Circle Sugar Cookies for World Diabetes Day!

Three Different Blue Circles for Three Different Reasons (Exercise, Eating, and Advocacy!)

Pumpking Pie for the DOC's Shining Blue Star: Cherise!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Post World Diabetes Day

Try reloading the pancreas every 5 years for the impending cure...

Why? Because my pancreas is a paperweight. Why? Because my immune system thinks my Beta cells look strange. Why? Because my T-Lymphocytes are "easily" and "permanently" confused. Why? I WISH I KNEW!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Big Blue Test

This is simple. Climb. Jump. Walk. Dance. Just move. NOW!

Diabetes or not, you can help donate medical supplies to people in need across the United States and the Globe. For more information (AND TO PARTICPATE), check out!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monkey Wrenches

Life has a funny way of putting obstacles in front of you in order to see how high you can jump. This week is not particularly pleasant for me because of a Cell Biology exam I have on Thursday followed by a poster presentation with a fellow graduate student on Friday. This is kind of the norm of graduate school so I can't say that I'm terribly surprised, but I am a little disappointed to not be more out and about advocating for the American Diabetes Month. I've had to give up my facebook and Twitter feeds for a few days and it's kinda killing me (Yes, I'm one of those poorpeople who's addicted to social media...). I still read a few here and there but doing my best to stay focus is sooo difficult even when I'm in the "zone".

In the moments in between studying and programming and sleeping and sometimes eating, I've managed to at least participate and get the word out about a few really awesome Diabetes Awareness activities everyone with diabetes (and without) should know about. For instance...
  • The BIG blue Test! or the big BLUE test! or the big blue TEST! (see what I did there?)
    I was in NYC helping out while they were shooting this awesome chick. (yea I'm hiding somewhere in those group shots). You don't have to have diabetes to participate. You just have to move. What's the reward? IMPROVING YOUR HEALTH! and SAVING LIVES! In the good old US of A and across the globe. All you have to do is exercise for 15 minutes. No silly signing up either! Check it out at
  • Blue Fridays! With awesome giveaways! Even doable on rainy days! Bonus points if you wear blue everyday?! (okay, no more rhyming. I promise)
    Every Friday in November, wear a little or a lot of blue to raise awareness! In your hair, on your nails, with your friends...T-shirts, socks, and bathrobes will do too! Check out the Facebook page here! and follow #bluefriday on Twitter!
  • Team Type 1's Run Across America
    If there were ever a group of people I'd follow off a cliff, it would probably these 10 (or 11) guys. Phil Southerland (the CEO) is a great guy, and he's a constant reminder that diabetes doesn't hold any of us down from surpassing our dreams. This group of diabetic athletes is running from coast to coast, and they are estimated to land in NYC on November 14th!
  • Blood Sugar Testing Flash Mob in Times Square
    I'm gonna try my darnedest to make it out to Times Square for a Blood Sugar Testing Flash Mob in Times Square on noon on Sunday, Novemeber 13th in front of the Kodak screen. If you can't make it, help out this fantastic young man by sending a picture of you and your friend Diabetes to to be there in spirit!
  • World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange
    Art is always therapeutic, but in this case, it's doubly so because I get to reach out to someone. I was assigned an awesome PWD (or their family, friends, and awesome associates). I get make some art for them. And then I'll get one. Let's hope it's something that doesn't turn out like those finger paints when I was three...
  • World Diabetes Day
    Blue Monuments. Diabetes Awareness Events. Reach Out and Hug A Diabetic Events... I may be trapped in class all day, but I'll do something awesome for it all on my own if I have to!
Alright. I have another story to share but it's going to have to wait. Wish me luck on my test.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Diabetes Online Community

So I've written about this before here, but for you guys who don't know:

I was a "bad" / somewhat "non-compliant" diabetic for many, many years. When I was diagnosed, I was 9 years old and at that age, everyone looked at me and though I was pretty smart and responsible. I had a fantastic Pediatric Endocrinologist for a while that kept me motivated enough to stay in line. But between her moving to another town and me starting high school, things started deteriorating slowly. I was never a fan of checking my blood sugar (really, who is ever?) and while I took my insulin, it was usually after the fact.

Fast forward through high school, undergraduate college, and my first year of a masters. I had only been in the hospital for one hypoglycemic event in my junior/senior year of high school (where I majorly miscalculated the number of carbs I ate at a party but I was at home so my mom found me, injected me with glucagon, and called the paramedics). Even though I tested occasionally and took insulin through my pump, I wasn't REALLY taking care of myself. Everyone assumed my that my intelligence and responsibility from school stuff translated to my health but that was far from the truth. A friend had come across and article somewhere that featured a prominent DOC blogger ( I slowly started devouring her blog posts as far back as I could manage. And then I found another ( And another. So on and so forth.

Reading all their posts made me think, "Hey. If they can do this, why can't I?" Yes, we live different lifestyles. Yes, we have different goals for the future. Yes, diabetes is different for every person. But in the end, there's a lot about living with Diabetes that is the same. Vigilance (lots and lots of blood sugar testing). Healthy Eating (and correct carb counting...). Exercise (running, climbing, playing, working, etc). Regardless of what can be different, finding the Diabetes Online Community has been inspiring. My HbA1c has gone down and become more consistent. I'm testing more often. I'm eating healthier. I'm exercising more.

All of the members are unique but we all have something in common. There's someone to support each and every person. We all have a story to share and we all make a difference to someone else. Whether it's a hello, a smile, or a good joke, every letter typed matters. Sometimes it leads to actual changes in our medical treatment (which pump/continuous monitors/glucometers, better infusion sites, doctors) but it always leads to changes in our outlooks (attitudes, & perspectives) on this crazy life with D.

This post was written as part of the JDRF Juvenation Blog Carnival for National Diabetes Month! For more information, check out their post here or!

Better Late than Never? T1Din3


Those are my three words describing what Type 1 Diabetes means to me. Since I like to ramble (on and on and on), here's why I picked those three little words.

Having a condition where one small mistake like taking too much insulin can cost my life scares the daylights out of me. I'm afraid about tons of things about my body (but not creepy crawlies, dark spaces, and strange places). Is every new ache or pain a sign that I'm developing another chronic condition as a complication resulting from inattention to my nagging friend, Diabetes? Is my foot numb because I'm going to loose it or just because I was sitting on it funny? Will I fall asleep one day and wake up the next unable to see? And what if I don't wake up? I believe that somethings are beyond my control. Yes, I could step off the curb and get hit by a bus or have a freak tree fall on me. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of living a life where I can't do or experience things the way I'm used to because of ME.

I'm angry that there isn't a cure yet (just around the corner, right?). I'm angry I have to stab my fingers. I'm angry that people don't understand (yes, I can eat sugar. Thank you very much for your concern). I don't express that anger all the time but it doesn't mean that it isn't there. I'm angry that I have to spend so much time scheduling and seeing doctors. I'm angry that dealing with medical (or any) insurance companies is so difficult (but I'm grateful that I have it). I'm angry that I survived because I was born and raised in the United States but if it was one of many other parts of the world, I wouldn't have made it these past 14 years. I'm angry that diabetes tries to hold me back, but...

I am stronger for having lived with this crummy chronic condition. I was the only 9 year old I knew that wasn't afraid of hospitals. I'm living the life I want to be (even though I may complain sometimes). Diabetes has taught me about my body and how it works. I had a better understanding of the Endocrine system by the time I was 14 years old than some early medical students I know because I devoured books about my Pancreas (read: Paperweight). I'm a fighter (that anger sometimes helps me with finding energy to fight). Diabetes won't put me down. Not shots. Not sticks. Not sugar. These things won't hold me back from getting to what I want for my life.

This post was written as part of the JDRF Juvenation Blog Carnival for National Diabetes Month! For more information, check out their post here or!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

To test, or not to test...

DSMA Blog Carnival Question: What types of decisions and frequency of diabetes related decisions do you make in any given day?

My man, Shakespeare (or Hamlet), had the question phrased right even though he missed my topic. There are so many questions that role around in our minds all day long. Especially as a diabetic, the questions seem like they never end. I don't think that it's ever "noble" to choose laziness or indecision over responsibility or action but I can't say that I always represent myself as Queen of my diabetes...

I had a professor in my Freshman year of college tell me that computers are dumb machines. You tell it what to do and that's exactly what it does. So if it's malfunctioning, there's a good chance the problem lies between the keyboard and the chair (aka you told it something other than what you meant to). Whenever I think of decisions, I think of that little snippet of wisdom.

Making diabetes decisions isn't as nearly as easy as writing a computer program (okay, that's pretty difficult sometimes). I can't say if this crazy number appears, then I need exactly this much insulin to fix it (even though I wish I could). I constantly have to keep track of all these extra variables (sleeping, eating, exercising, etc) and my simple little if-statement blows out of proportion with extra clauses. If I ate, did I eat more protein, more carbs, or more vegetables? If I bolus, did I account for how long it takes my body to break down an apple versus pizza? Did I remember to subtract some for all the extra exercising I'm planning? Is it enough aerobic exercise or is it anaerobic and am I going to need more or less insulin? AND how do all of the answers to these gigantic questions come together?

The toughest decision I make is the one I run into most often. Should I test my blood sugar? Do I ever really want to test? NO. It's really that simple. But without knowing that little piece of info, it's like wandering around in the dark without knowing anything about where I am. Yes, sometimes I'll treat based on what my Dexcom (aka my blood sugar etch-a-sketch) says, buzzes, or screams at me. I don't feel good about it, but gosh darn it, it's a whoooooooole lot easier. I wake up every morning struggling with that decision. It plagues me at lunch when I realize I left my tester at my desk or in my car, and I really don't want to go wait any longer to eat. It nags me at night when I haven't checked, but I'm already tucked into bed. The way I understand it (and explain to everyone else too), I'm SUPPOSED to test:
  • Whenever I wake up (yes it can happen more than once if I nap) [Let's guess once for this example]
  • Whenever I go to bed
  • Before I eat (Between 3 and 6 times a day) [That's why eating 6 meals in CRAZZZY but good for you nonetheless]
  • 2 hours after I eat (Between 3 and 6 times a day) [post-prandial test. I despise them]
  • Before I exercise
  • After I exercise
  • Before I drive my car
  • Anytime in between when I feel "off"
So for anyone keeping track, that's a minimum of 10 times and a maximum of 16 times I "should" test everyday assuming I don't feel low or high all day long and don't drive. If I sleep for 8 hours, that means I’m testing about once an hour if I divide that maximum number up evenly. Do I ever test that often? Sometimes. Everyday? I'd lose my mind. Usually it's between 4 to 7 times a day that I stab my cute little fingers. I really can't stand doing post-prandials unless it's in preparation for a snack or I feel off.

For brevity, I won't talk about the decisions revolving around food or actually bolusing insulin. They occur way more than 3-6 times a day (somedays it feels like I’m hungry every second of the day). I won’t talk about the decisions I make in fear of low blood sugars (like drinking an extra swig of juice), high blood sugars (why, yes I’ll treat those double up arrows even though I know my continuous glucose monitor will be nose diving in ten minutes), and glucose roller coasters (how long can I go, eating nothing but vegetables and drinking nothing but water?). AND we really won't discuss my aversion to changing my infusion sites or sensors (REALLY REALLY hate it) and the decisions that those devices add to the situation (yes, I should put those extra supplies in my bag even if I'm going out on the town).

What makes diabetes really overwhelming is that I can't pass some of those decisions along to someone else (like when I tell my roomies to decide what our plans are for the evening). These silly diabetes decisions stick to me like glue. And when I decide to do nothing or be lazy, I end up paying the price with a hyperglycemic-hangover or a hypoglycemic-slump.

If I could build a little decision making diabetes robot or some sort of awesome diabetes-centered Magic-8 ball, then I would in a heartbeat. I'd save my decision making power for more important life and fun decisions. I'd instantly forget about how many silly Diabetes decisions I have to make every moment of every day and instead, spend more time deciding how big my smile should be or the minimum amount of sunshine I need to soak in a day to appropriately fuel that grin.

This post is my October entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Things are crazy. As the usual. So bullet point time!
  • In case you missed it (because I forgot to mention it), I did a guest post for Kim ( I think that the post was awesome [the title says it all: "I Get By With (Or Without Real Life) Help From My Friends"], and if you're not already reading about her awesome dog, Billy Corgin, you're seriously missing out!

  • When I was volunteering at the UNite for a Healthy Future event in NYC, some awesome peeps from were shooting a video about the one and only d-community superstar Manny Hernandez (aka the creator of TuDiabetes and founder of the Diabetes Hands Foundation. They asked to interview me (I still don't understand why but anyways). Apparently, they really liked what I had to say because they used some (or lots) of it. Check it out here!

  • I have approximately 3 different d-meet ups scheduled at 2 week intervals with super awesome diabetes rockstarsss (more about that after they happen...)!

  • I almost had a no hitter yesterday minus the crazy coming down from a bad infusion set over night (but we won't talk about how I didn't really eat dinner and drove 2 hrs [yes, I'm okay and nothing eventful happened]).

  • On Friday afternoon, an economics major interviewed me for about 1.5 hrs about chronic conditions for a really cool design project. He was originally going to work towards a focus on sickle cell anemia and/or cancer patients, but I think I may have changed his mind a smidge (Listen, I'm not saying that Diabetes is cooler. I just think the patients might be a little more awesome).

  • I have another cell biology exam in 2 weeks and I'm trying really hard to bust my butt with the studying (didn't do as well as I needed to on the 1st one), which inadvertently means...

  • I've become hooked on diet coke again, which advertently means...

  • I'm trying to get back to drinking more water, taking my vitamins (every day, ugh), and eating healthier. Sweatbetes? Hopefully I'll get to work on that soon.

  • I think there may or may not be a DSMA blog carnival in the near future if I can manage to sneak more time away later...

  • This weekend's sugar-filled bake fest with my college friends ended with Apple Crisp (x3), Apple Pies (x3), Apple Crumb Pies (x2), Apple Cider Doughnuts (2 batches), and Apple Pie Cookies (yes, we went to an orchard. yes, the apples that we ACTUALLY baked came from a grocery store). I picked up pumpkins as well for some well needed pumpkin pie and pumpkin oatmeal cookie things. Definitely for a later time... Apparently requests for my baked goods are now coming in from ALL OVER THE GLOBE. Must make friends with the mailman...
Back to work for me now!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Man, The Myth, The Legend...

So once upon a time, there was a beautiful and brilliant diabetic girl who spent 13 years holed up in her own world of academics, rocks, and sweet flour-y things. Despite being diagnosed at a very young age, she had never really known any other fun and enthusiastic kids with diabetes. She never went to camp (for reasons that are still unknown but mostly amount to too much studying) and never really participated in interactive outreach events (there were a few JDRF walks I vaguely remember as a kid and a couple of expos). One day (not too long ago), the light switch went on. There must be other people out there like me. People who live and breathe with music. People who bake things covered in real sugar. People who skydive, rock climb, and ride their bikes across the country. People who REALLY live life to the fullest in spite of a silly chronic condition. So she went hunting on the Internet and built a life. A persona. A circle of friends that she had never really met...

My very first "real" Diabetic meet up was the UNite for a Healthy Future event in NYC just a few weeks ago. But it was a little unusual. I met amazing and fantastic diabetics with crazy lives. People like who I had run into online that looked and sounded nothing like I would've expected. People who did make my eyes gleam like a fan girl despite my subdued manner. It was spectacular and I met all of these people who shared great stories and skills. People who didn't look at me funny when I tested my blood sugar or chomped down on glucose tabs.

My second and third Diabetic (swap-story)meets were JDRF walks. I did two in NJ along the shore. I met lots of families. I did pump bumps with kids. I met mom's and dad's who littered me with stories about how well or poorly their children with Diabetes were doing. I smiled and enjoyed the sun and answered questions.

Not to say that those moments weren't special and that I'll forget them, but this Sunday night was different. I was anxious. Excited. Teeming with energy. I wanted to run and jump and scream and shout. I was wandering into a big city by myself to meet just one stranger. One specific stranger. A stranger who anyone (and everyyyyyyyone) could tell was special in the way he related to others. In the way he spoke. In the way he tweeted song lyrics. I had seen a lot of his posts on Twitter and said to myself, "He's way too awesome. Why would he care what I have to say." But I think he's already demonstrated in his short time stateside that what I (and every other diabetes blogger) do matters.

I knew he was meeting up with people in Kansas City. I didn't even know he was going to be in NYC until a week ago. Already signed up for a 4 day conference in Hartford, I knew I was going to miss the bowling extravaganza. I, for some reason, assumed he was leaving on Sunday before I'd be back in NJ. And then, on a whim, I tweeted him. And he responded. And said he was leaving Monday. And my adrenaline kicked in.

He called and my knees shook in the wind (like a well composed fan girl). "I'll be the one with an accent," he nonchalantly concluded with. I didn't need to ask for clarification. After seeing a picture (or several dozen) and hearing his voice (both on the phone and on a DSMA webcast), I didn't have a hard time placing him. He just looked different. More alive. Less pixel-y. Thinner and taller. And I instantly felt less alone.

I don't really know how to describe the rest of the evening. We just grabbed coffee, sat in Times Square, and talked like we were new-but long lost friends. I sat there in awe of him and he just kept telling me how smart I was.

AND to top it off, I got meet Caroline (@carobanano) who I can only describe as PURE sunshine. She reminds me of my favorite roommate from college. Singing at the top of her lungs (she has a fantastic voice in case you didn't know). I'm definitely planning to go back and see her in Brooklyn. I already have a teeny-weeny SURPRISE present for her.

Like the three sugar-free Musketeers: We soaked in the lights. We posed with Batman. We made funny faces. We grabbed dinner at the Ruby Tuesday's in Times Square (and died a happy death over their cheese biscuits). We discussed music (the difference between Coldplay and the Cure). We rushed for trains that weren't quite there (neither my roommate nor I can appropriately read a weekend timetable). We just laughed (at Shhs and Soda-names) and enjoyed each other's companies. I savored each moment.

Looking at us, you'd never know we had diabetes. You'd just think we were friends. And now, that's all I ever have to say we are. (And friends will ALWAYS see each other again. One way or another).

Friday, October 7, 2011

No D Day!

So today is the day. The No D Day. No Diabetes talk. Not on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or where ever else you love to talk online about your best friend for life, Diabetes. To see some awesome stories, go here and check out George, the guy who came up with this fantastic idea.

(For a little bit, I thought No D Day was supposed to be a little like Fight Club. The first rule of No D Day is that we don't talk about Diabetes. We don't say the word. It's really about finding out more about who a person is without Diabetes. But the thought made me laugh.)

So I anyone who has been reading about me already knows about my love for Rock Climbing (thus the blog name) and Ultimate Frisbee (the 10 or so discs on my wall shouldn't tip you off at all). You know I'm a giant science lover (but one who has social skills and can rock a dress), which is apparent from my 6 years of higher education for Biomedical Engineering with many more ahead of me. So what else don't you know?

I love to bake. Not cook. Because while I can whip up some delicious stuff with herbs and spices, my stomach really loves the satisfaction of good cookie or fresh pie crusts.
Apple Heart Pie!

Turtle Cheesecake

Pumpkin Pie from Real Pumpkins!

(Why don't I have pictures of my cookies? They all get eaten up too fast...)

Other cool things about me? While I don't sing nearly as much and as awesomely as Zooey Deschanel on the New Girl (if you're not watching it, you have to see the pilot!), I sing along to anything whether or not I know the words. I'll sing loudly and softly. In bed. In the shower. Especially in my car. I used to sing in the choir from grades 1 to 10, and then science took over my life (all those AP Classes saved me some time in undergrad). I'm thinking of joining some sort of casual singing group (in all my extra free time...). Also, despite not celebrating Christmas, I absolutely love Christmas carols. Once when I was in high school, I actually got to sing at Carnegie Hall with the NJ Children's choir. That was an incredible experience.

Other random tidbits?

I don't own a TV. If I did and I had cable, I might never get out from in front of it (happens with Netflix/Hulu sometimes).

I'm really lazy with certain chores. One time, I actually bought myself something to wear for 2/3 more days from Walmart because I had avoided doing laundry for 3-4 weeks.

I love filing my schedule to the brim. Back to back appointments 24/7 if I could. I like being busy, and I've learned to stop complaining about it. I can't handle the restlessness of having nothing to do. I've only recently started being more prompt for things. Otherwise, I'd always be running between 5 and 15 minutes late.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sweatbetes Week!

So it's the first week since I've moved to this new-old place (moving back to the state when I grew up but an hour away from the actually city I grew up in) that I've managed to do something awesome and outdoorsy. The awesome part of this week is that I got to do both things that made me so happy as an undergraduate after not experiencing either in a while (2-3 years and 2-3 months). Mind you that sweatbetes and I (while on fairly good terms) haven't hung out in a while...

Ultimate Frisbee and I used to be best friends. I was one of the few women that played in our small college's mostly male intercollegiate team (apparently I'm not eligible for intercollegiate play anymore [alas getting old really does happen]). My living room at my old apartment was decorated with my large (and ever growing) frisbee collection. A disc is never more than an arms reach away for me, but unfortunately, I haven't been playing Ultimate in a very long while. Our friendship got strained by real life issues. Pick up games can be hard to find sometimes because of the number of people required (5+ on a team) and my schedule for the last few years has been, well, unpredictable so playing in a league has been out of the question.

After scouring the internet for hours, I found a pick up game that is fairly consistent and not too far away. Despite my fear of being wayyy to out of shape (isn't round a shape?) to handle the required running, I dusted off my cleats and walked to the park a few blocks from my house. There were many more people than I was expecting and the game was intense as always. But I survived. And felt amazing as I left.

There's something freeing to me about making a little piece of plastic fly. I forget about my diabetes. I forget about my schoolwork. I forget about my problems. It's enthralling and cathartic to run my heart out and make a Frisbee soar. I can feel the wind it feels (as crazy as it sounds). I missed it. I'm glad I didn't let a little anxiety keep me down. Or low blood sugars. Glucose tablets cure me (Thanks to my Dex for warnings!).

In addition to squeezing in an hour and a half (with breaks) of Ultimate, I managed to go rock climbing at a gym with one of my buddies from high school. He's learning for the first time, but I'm getting back into learning technique & balance so it's not a bad fit. We're trying to make it a regular thing. [In case you didn't know, my love of rock climbing is what lead to the name of the blog ;) ]

The silly thing about rock climbing and diabetes for me is that unless there's a 30 minute hike to where the climb is, I need more insulin to get my act together otherwise after one climb (aka 40-50 ft in my case), I'll be in the low 200s while I start in the low 100s. So after some experimenting (a la Ginger Vieira), I've learned that an extra bolus before I climb helps keep me in range. No lows while climbing = more fun!

Why do I love climbing? It doesn't quite make sense. I have a fear of heights, so I never look down on the view of a climb until I've done it at least once comfortably. There's something about the puzzle aspect (where do my hands and feet go exactly?) and the amount of finesse required to accomplish overcoming a giant wall that is extremely rewarding. I love the feeling of leaving all my energy on the wall. If I'm not tired by the end of a day of climbing, it wasn't fun. I forget about the D when I'm trying to solve a climb. My brain gets into the zone. Sooo much better than playing with equations all day long.

Sweatbetes 3X this week is a win. I'm trying to squeeze in some at-home stuff/school-gym stuff. Step 1: Gym bag with necessities in my car. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

UNite for a Healthy Future

So yesterday was the UNite for a Healthy Future event at the NY Academy of Medicine / Central Park. And the only word I can keep coming up with to describe it is amazing.

When speaking to someone (a fellow PWD, a parent, an activist, I don't really remember who exactly [more on that later]), I was recalling the last time I had physically been in the room with many other diabetics. The last time it happened was maybe 3 years after my diagnosis and it was because my new doctor really wanted me to attend their support group. Unfortunately, most of the patients were much older or much younger and a little hard for me to relate to (I'll blame my youth & lack of experience cause I'm sure they were ripe with info). Despite attending a few fundraising activities like walks, I can't say I've really ever connected with another diabetic. I've been a diabetic for over 14 years now. Which means I've been sorely missing my fellow 'betes buddies.

Walking into a group of people and just being overwhelmed by this feeling of belonging was extremely cathartic and freeing. None of that means that I didn't spend the entire day talking about what I knew about diabetes, research, the FDA, human physiology, etc. But having other people there to help explain was really comforting. Not feeling strange to say, "Hey, I need to test first," was really bizarre for me after spending sooo much time being the only PWD I know.

To prepare for the day (and the at least 1.5 hr commute of walking, trains, and subways), I packed a large bag of snacks, extra clothes, and my diabetes supplies (I assumed I'd be outside and on my feet all day). What I really needed yesterday was a lot of water, a lot of energy, and a lot of glucose. Looking back, I wish I had packed a little differently but hopefully, this experience will help prepare for future diabetes outreach events.

So I was actually volunteering [for the awesome Isabella Platon @ IDF :)] at the event in addition to just being another person with D, which meant that I got to meet an extraordinary number of people that ranged the activism gamete (and forget their names regardless of how important & influential they are [sorry!]) while running around taking care of organizational things (what? why? where? when?). There was sooo much going on yesterday that there was actually a lot that I missed but I wanted to participate in.

The bullet point rundown & SUPER-brief recap of the events:
  • Live Art Mural - All day creation of art representing different Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The depictions were so creative, vivid, and enigmatic. I loved meeting/talking with Zoey Stevens but really all the artists were so curious about how and why diabetes affects everyday life.
  • Children's Art Mural - Great event for kids lead by two art therapists including Lea Ann Thill.
  • Bike Ride - Lead by Phil Southerland & Team Type 1, a group of 10-15 adults & kids rode a 1 kilometer track around Central Park.
  • Big Blue Test Video Shoot / Walk - Walking around Central Park North handing out blue balloons and "woohoo"-ing for an hour while two awesome videographers captured our excitement and activism. Love knowing I'm helping to create something that will hopefully reach many people and do some good for the less fortunate all at the same time.
  • Socamotion, Tai Chi, & Zumba - Enthralling and energetic ways to get your blood circulating, but unfortunately one of the things I didn't get to experience much (read: almost any) of.
  • Information/Outreach Pods - Met lots of great people from the International Diabetes Federation, dLife, JDRF NY Ride to Cure, Living In Progress, TuDiabetes, and more. Everyone was super-welcoming, super-informative, and super-empowered.
Photos from the day can be found here and here! Unfortunately in all the craziness, not only did my phone die (with no extra charger in sight) leading to no awesome Twitter updates, but also I didn't manage to get any pictures that weren't requested by other people. But one of these days, I'll figure out how to multi-task a little more efficiently.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


If I didn't laugh about "misplacing" Diabetes (and real life) accessories, then I would probably still be hunting down my missing Eggy (Dexcom Reciever), my keys, or my sanity (I think that disappeared 7 or 8 years ago, but shh who's counting?). I walk in the door to my apartment with my keys, my cellphone, Eggy, and my tester in one hand. Recently, I lost my cellphone in a Kohl's while shopping through racks of clothes for something specific. The funny thing about all this is that I'm more likely to lose things while my blood sugar is dropping, which makes them harder to find. I sat down on the floor of the store, popped some glucose tabs, and 15 minutes later just as I was about to give up, on of the retail specialists found it! I laugh at how lucky I am. I laugh at where I find things (under bookshelves, in soccer fields, between seat cushions).

If I didn't laugh about my scar tattoos and hole-y fingers, then I would probably notice all the liquids that leak inadvertently. After having this disease for 14 years, I'm covered in all sorts of scars (my favorites [not] being my infusion site freckles), well beyond my non-D scars (I was a super-clumsy kid and had stitches 4? times). But I notice that not all pokes heal as quickly as you'd think. I love giggling at the double squirters on my fingers (aka when you prick and squeeze the stabbed finger only to notice blood coming out in two places [especially awesome when it's on opposite sides of my finger]). My infusion sites leak when they're just removed and when I decided I want to pick at the scabs. This doesn't include the number of times I've had a juice box leak or squeezed 3/4 of it out on the floor or my clothes in my eagerness for sugar. I laugh at all the stains. As much as I love the color white, I walk around like a stiff robot when I do wear it for fear of ruining a new outfit.

If I didn't laugh about the reasons people think I'm having a D-moment, then I would probably still be lecturing them sternly about all the awesome things I do with my diabetes. It's taken me a while to get to the age where I no longer get upset when people ask me if my blood sugar is okay. My teenage years were not my best years (and if they were for you, kudos for being in the minority). I would get worked up over something my parents or friends would say/do, which would promptly be followed by yelling or even the occasional crying fit (now those are reserved for sappy movies and little kids). They'd ask if my blood sugar was okay and I'd get even more furious. Diabetes does not possess me like a demonic spirit. It's just a disease. Yes, my emotions run wild sometimes because of highs/lows but they're still MY emotions. Instead of getting angry and letting a moment take over my blood sugar, I've learned to laugh and accept that at least they care. In the past few years, people have asked if my blood sugar is okay because I look "funny","tired", or "confused". 90% of the time, I'm okay. Which means 90% of the time I'm laughing at them. I laugh when my climbing partners try to convince me that I need to eat some fruit for sugar instead of just a handful of nuts. When my new roomie walks into my room and asks me if I need some juice whenever I look tired, I can't do anything but smirk. I've learned that teaching people about diabetes is a slow process for some. Diabetes has never stopped me from anything I've really wanted to do. Only I can hold me back and let's just say I'm not a fan of that.

This post is my September entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vampire Infusion Sets

Yes, vampires can be cool. Vampire infusion sets are definitively not. If you're not fond of blood, then I don't know how we can be friends (not really, because I have all sorts of friends but read on). Mostly because little finger pricks for blood drops are involved between 4-15 (it feels like a billion most days) times a day for me. I have to warn you that if you get faint at the sight of gross things like blood, you DON'T want to scroll down (although even if you were, you would because I just told you not to).

I posted a few weeks ago about some issues rotating sites with my hips. Apparently, the same is true with my thighs. To be honest, I'm just having all sorts of new issues with infusion sites that make me want to go back to just using my stomach again. I'm fairly certain that the last site I pulled out was infected from the gooey stuff that oozed out of it and the raised . I'm used to seeing some liquid (I can only assume it's insulin) come back out when I pull out an old site (actually it happens sometimes with regular needles too). Most of the time, I don't account for it unless my blood sugar is rising/high.

What I've noticed is that any of my bloody (no, no like the English mean it) infusion sites usually take 6-24 hours and then they're fine. No more blood (not in the cannula, not on my clothes). Just the gross outline of it on the little gauze adhesive that surrounds it (see any of the pictures). This is what keeps me from tearing them out and putting in a new one. Because I don't think they're is ever a guarantee that it won't bleed (but I think its cause I dread putting in new ones). And it's not like a stab myself with one and it's gushing blood (cause if there were I might even do a glucose test with it for fun). It usually takes an hour before any blood starts showing and three before there's a weird pool of gunk on my infusion site.

I know that everyone says to pull out a set that is overly painful or bleeding. I can't say that they hurt. And to be honest, I HATE wasting perfectly good supplies. So is it worth it? An hour or two or twelve of a little uncertainty with my infusion set in exchange for a little less pain? I do it. I don't recommend it. The only thing I can recommend is trying to change sets in the morning or the middle of the day so you can push more insulin, because waking up at 262 mg/dl is not the way to start off any day. If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear from you. In the meantime, here are the gross pictures I mentioned (and no, they haven't been enhanced for total gross-ness):

Fresh and bloody infusion site after 24 hours

Bloody site after being removed

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Endo Visits and New Forgetful Starts

So. I saw my endo before I left my parents place to start my life at grad school with a "clean diabetes" record. Everything is up to date for a while and my HbA1c?
Pictures don't lie. I'm doing okay. There were somethings I should have probably asked about (primarily about my stomach) but I was to enamored by my great stats with less lows. I'm as healthy as I could be. More exercise wouldn't kill me but in terms of numbers and diabetes, I'm doing good.

My first day of classes went fairly well despite being exhausted from lots of driving with an 8:40 am class. I think I've talked about having diabetes quite a bit to my new classmates enough that they won't forget I have it. (Yes, I can eat that but no, I don't want some now; Yes those are glucose pills and yes I eat them for almost every one of my many lows; No I don't need some orange juice. I'm just annoyed with this homework). However, I will forget some of my diabetes essential and non-essential devices in random and sometimes untraceable places.

We decided to have our first study group on campus in one of the student dorms since they have much larger living rooms than my apartment. We eventually traveled from one room to another and finally figured out our homework woes. When I was getting ready to leave, I realized I didn't have Eggy (my Dexcom reciever) anddddd the panic sets in. Freaking out, I retraced my steps and unpacked/repacked my bag between 3 and 30 times. I was just about to give up when my classmate picked up his phone, let us into his dorm, and found it on the floor of his kitchen.

The lesson I learned? I need another SPIbelt. With Two Pockets. And preferably a clear window for both of them. Which I think is a dream. Or maybe a very expensive CUSTOM hope. One of these days I'll figure out how to walk around without losing/forgetting one of my many diabetic accoutrements somewhere. Til then, I'll keep my fingers crossed and keep patting my pockets

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Been a While...

So I haven't written in a while. Not really for a lack of ideas or thoughts (cause if you ask, I have exactly 10 or so rolling around my head at any given moment), but more so a lack of time at my laptop, energy, and organization. Because 2 or 3 sentences makes a tweet and not a blog. And while I love bullet points, they don't help my writing skills blossom. But alas, my mind just breaks down from all the clutter rolling around in there.

I managed to pull out not just ONE, but TWO infusion sets placed on my thighs within exactly 3 hours of each other last week. I think there was something wrong with the adhesive after they ventured into the great outdoors with me for a night. But considering I typically "accidentally" tear out a site once every 6 months, I was quite angry cause I despise changing my infusion sites. Plus, it screws up my rotation schedules for "landing zones".

Another first for me (today in fact) was the first time I misplaced my insulin. I'm on a pump. I change my site & reservoir every 3/4 days, but I always keep my medical bag packed especially when I'm travelling (read DRIVING everywhere). I was panicking after I noticed that my Novolog was missing for the bag when my reservoir was running on EMPTY just after eating a large dinner at 8pm at my parents. I guess that as I was hectically putting in extra infusion sets in the bag, it rolled out. Insulin 5 hours aways doesn't help me now. Absent-vial-syndrome hasn't EVER happened to me before. Thankfully, the CVS by my parents is open til 10pm and they had enough in stock to fill my prescriptions. Crisis averted.

I'm on the hunt for a cool diabetes shirt that says "Even though I don't look sick, I still deserve a cure for diabetes" preferably before the Non-Communincable Disease Summit in NYC (I'm going and you should too! More info here!). Anyone know someone who sells one already? Otherwise, I'm totally hitting up to make me one (because I really want to order half their website already). Anyone else interested?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sleeping... Or So I Hoped

It's funny for me to think about when I was in college and managed to fall asleep in all the strangest places at all the strangest times. I had (have?) a habit of running myself ragged, doing everything I possibly could, before my body would just decide naptime was required and I would be out like a light. (bonus story at the end!)

To this day, I'm still a pretty heavy sleeper. Except when the Diabetes Dragon exacts it's toll.

I remember being a teenager and having my endocrinologist ask me if I ever woke up in the middle of the night for water or to use the bathroom. Most often the answer was no. Thinking about it now, I always wondered why they never asked, "Do you ever wake up in a sweat?" or "Do you ever just sit up in bed?" Living with diabetes brings about a lot of good things like healthier eating and more attention to lifestyle choices, but with sleep, I wish I didn't have it. Luckily for me, I always woke up anxious or trembling when my blood sugar was dropping (usually at the 40s or 50s, but at least I'd know) [easily my mom's biggest fear]. In terms of high readings, most often I wake up groggy and dehydrated when I get to about 250 mg/dl.

The reason I bring this up today is because today I experienced random awakeness for the first time that wasn't D related. No cold sweats. No shaking. No anxiety. No dying for a liter of water. Just AWAKE. My body never ceases to amaze me. Why am I awake before 10am in the middle of my vacation? Because I think I've trained myself on 6 to 8 hours of sleep. I've been working on getting more sleep all summer and now it comes full circle.

I was overcome with this wave of exhaustion at about 11pm last night. Passed out on the couch kind of exhaustion. I woke up to 5am on my cell phone. I don't see 5am often for a reason. We're not friends. I understand doing this once school starts, but really, I'm trying to savor the last few weeks of freedom from craziness. On the upside, the internet always has something for me to do to keep occupied. On the downside, I really just want to close my eyes for a few more minutes of zzzs and can't.

Bonus story: When I was a sophomore, I went over to my friend's apartment to study for an organic chemistry exam we had coming up. We were sitting on the couch and flipping through our books, when her roommate came out of her room to ask my friend something quickly. I think they were talking for maybe 2 minutes. My friend turned back to me and I was out like a light right there on the couch next to her with my textbook in my lap. Woke up 2 hours later, very very confused.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Can't Get Out of My View?

So today I spent about 7 hours in my car. I made a point of putting in a new Dexcom sensor just after breakfast, because as awesome as testing at 70 mph hour is (shh, don't judge) it's really hard to accomplish.

Unfortunately, regardless of my fairly spotless record with Dexcom's accuracy, today did not reassure me that it works well. My Egg-shaped-friend (Eggy for those of you who are friends) beeped away ALL day. 2 of the 35 times were actually correct. The rest were waaaaaaaaaaaaay outta whack. But because I stopped trusting it, I missed the really bad one this evening.

After my 7 hour drive, my mom requested that I attend a dinner party at the neighbors. Drive, dress, dine (wheeeeeeee, not). Dinner was quite fabulous even though I didn't eat very much. I was much more enamored by all the little kids around, but I digress.

Most of the riveting conversation of the evening revolved around the children's food allergies and the struggles that they bring. I listened intently and gently prodded about difficult moments. Having diabetes changes my relationship with food, but exclusionary diets are extremely painstaking to maintain especially when those food cause life threatening reactions. Everyone was sympathetic, but only the two moms of kids with allergies REALLY got it.

Later, the conversation turned to fashion. Particularly, my custom "culturally" appropriate pants with pockets. Most Pakistani pants are baggy and don't include pockets. My mom had to pay the tailor extra for each one, but I was rather happy to have somewhere to put Eggy and my cell phone. That was when the conversation turned to "You're diabetic? Explain ALL of it." Usually, I over explain it but I did my best to squeeze in the vital information before dessert was served. Then, I casually walked over and explained how carb-counting worked. Fairly normal for me to SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) the carbs in a homemade dessert. I looked and sounded very convincing. I felt convincing. UNTIL, an hour later when I was tucking myself into bed.

PJs? Check. Brushed Teeth? Check. Blood sugar? I kept putting it off. I kept reading things on my phone and started getting this strange sensation of tunnel focus (just off the tip of my nose). I heard Eggster buzzing away but ignored him because of his track record. The feeling of tunnel focus was starting to make me uneasy so I pulled out my Mini and tested to find a fabulous (not) reading of 33 mg/dl. Eggy says nothing but Low (dun dun dunnnn). And then it all started to make sense. I ran downstairs for a tall glass of orange juice. Waited 15 minutes. 45 mg/dl. Not quite right. More orange juice followed by some rice cause (surprise!) I was STARVING.

In the end, the story has a happy ending. I leveled out nicely to a 110 mg/dl after it was all said and done. The scary feeling was the knowing something was wrong but my lack of ability to do anything about it. It's been happening more and more with my lows and I don't know how to snap out of it. My focus was fixed but not on what I needed to survive but some little lighted screen in the palm of my hand. Gotta fix that. Gotta listen. There are always signs. Little breadcrumbs. Gotta follow them to keep my life with D on track for survival.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bad Sites

I feel like putting in an infusion site nowadays is like digging for gold: Random and nonsensical.

A few weeks ago, my CDE and I discussed potential alternates from my stomach. After having an insulin pump for about a decade (2 upgrades later, that seems crazy) and recently acquiring a CGM that actually works for me, I feel like I need to give my tummy a break. There are little white scars everywhere on my brown skin that make me feel like I'm artificially giving myself reverse freckles.

Anyway, now the outside edges of my tummy (aka my lovehandles [eww]) are reserved for the Dexcom and the infusion sets are wandering. I've been comfortable enough to try the back side of my hips. I was afraid mostly because I didn't think I was flexible to comfortably get the site in with the sil-serter (makes me think of soft serve ice cream for some reason [#takethatwendell anyone?]). It's awkward but I've gotten to work for me with one very large caveat.

I can only use my left hip. Every site I've tried (I'm up to 4) on my right hip has ended up being a vampire infusion set. After putting one in that seemed fine for the 10 minutes I was watching it, I went shopping today and found the following image awaiting for me in the dressing room mirror.

It's a little hard to tell, but basically that's a lot of blood that's crusting around somewhere where there should be any. That's definitely an infusion site fail. The little dot to the left of it is one of the earlier ones that bled out and left my blood sugar running high for about 8 hours overnight (reasons not to change infusion sites before bed). I thought human bodies were supposed to be relatively symmetrical. I just want it to work. I hate having to change them early. I also don't want to be worrying about not hitting a vessel in addition to worrying about not hitting scar tissue. Some part of my body has to play nice, right?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Feel It Coming

Funny tidbit: Blogger only let's me update html post from my phone. Weird but I'm just happy to be writing despite no "real" broadband internet til Friday.

Anyways! Today is day one of unpacking into my new place. Let's just say that I'd rather be anywhere else doing anything else. So I kinda chalked up my lack of motivation to distaste for the task instead of low blood sugar.

Normally, I'm as bright eyed and bushy tailed as everyone else (and sometimes more so). Today, I experienced that slow, losing steam at the cracks sort of feeling. Arms that felt like lead made me think that maybe I just needed to relax for a few minutes on my bed and troll the web for something exciting to read. Somewhere, the better half of my conscience said, "It could be a falling number." But I looked at my CGM and saw a flat arrow at about 90 and decided it really was just too much moving stuff around.

Gradually, I became more and more tired, like a gradual fog settling in on the folds of my brains. I said to myself, "This kind of feels like a mild low. I should test. Where's my meter?" That notion was immediately battled by my inner child with a very whiney (sans cheese), "I don't want to. Please don't make me get up. I'm comfy."

That should've been my sign. But no. I kept reading and putzing. Meandering from site to site until I got really sleepy and suddenly Eggy buzzed loudly in my ear. 52 and slanty down arrow. Got up and tested to find a 49 waiting for me. I actually ate 6 glucose tabs (21g), set an alarm for 15 minutes for the recheck, and started to wait for that feeling of preparedness to come back.

Instead, I started zoning out while thinking of bookshelves and grocery lists. Luckily, I set a 15 minute timer on my phone because apparently I fell asleep on my comfy little airbed otherwise I would've missed the second reading of 49 on my little black OneTouch Mini.

I worry about my meter and my sanity when I see the same number. I always question myself as to whether I really ate those glucose tabs or whether that was low bg hazy delirium. And if it's a high, I ask myself, "Did I really push the ACT button?" and immediately pull out my pump to check the last bolus. The worst cases are late at night but sometimes it happens between meals and really freaks me out, because I know my body. I know there's no way my sugar levels have been at a constant for 4 or 5 hours after eating sometime. Is there such as thing as diabetes coincidences? Or does my meter just have an affinity that day for that particular number? This post makes me think that might just be a possibility.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Traveling & Surprise Vacations

I hate being all over the place. Scatter-brained checklists everywhere and anxiety laced with panic setting in.

I don't do well with living out of bags. Especially because I always like to be prepared and look appropriate for the destination. Which means that I have no idea how to pack light. I'm always thinking about pouring rain and cold breezes or bug bites and emergency situations. I wanna have six of everything but I know that impossible to carry that much stuff around comfortably. As it is, I always get looks of worry from lugging around and overstuffed duffel bag plus my school backpack (which houses my laptop and other random things). Regardless of the situation, I always end up with one too many "emergency" outfits and things that I don't touch at all, but in the same token, I ALWAYS forget something I wish I had brought.

On my latest excursion to no where terribly exciting to see family, I managed to forget to bring along an extra Dexcom sensor for Eggy mostly because I assumed, I'd get at least the extra 3 or 4 days that I needed to survive the extra 3 or 4 days I was out of town. Unfortunately, traveling makes me sweat and fidget with seatbelts which coincidentally makes Eggy's sensors peel. And that peeling was what led to the stingy feeling in my side that comes from the sensor coming a little bit out and then going back in a little bit (because those things are dull yet extremely sharp all at the same time). So I pulled it right out thinking I had an extra one.

I panicked for exactly 3 minutes. And then I breathed a great big sigh of relief. Because, yes, despite how much I love my CGM, I love my time without my CGM. One less D-tech thing I have to carry around. Plus, no serious fears of losing it (leaving it in the bathroom, slipping out of my pocket during a walk in the park, running out of my car, taking out the trash, and the list goes on). I enjoyed my Dexcom vacation a little longer than I had to and now I've got a new sensor in about 5 days later.

The alerts are nice. The Dexcom 7+ Sensor System is way more fun than I had I with 6 months of Minimed's shell-shaped Guardian/Paradigm sensor. It works better and is more functional for me when I can hold onto/remember where I put Eggy. But yea, sometimes it stresses me out and sometimes I bolus/eat without actually doing a finger-stick. Not all technology is good and useful (ESPECIALLY if you overreact to it). And even when it is good or useful, sometimes few days without it makes you remember to smell the roses, or the alcohol wipes on your finger tips, more often. I enjoyed my vacation so much, I think someday probably not until winter break I may want to take a full technology break: no Dexcom, no pump, no smartphone (GASP, could be hard). Of course that silly meter has to come along, but hey I can have my dreams right?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Diabetic Art Work!

So I was wandering around online (aka not apart from my laptop for hours) and I noticed that lot of the cool blogs out there have diabetes artwork (d-art from now on) as part of their website templates and designs.

I was a little bored and kind of sick of the layout of mine so I decided to try out my hand. Now please be patient while I get around to "transforming" my blog, but here's a preview of my diabetes supplies climber. I really want to come up with a name for him. Let you know when that part of my creativity starts spewing.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Technology: Benifits and Drawbacks

So I'm a biomedical engineer (BME). When I started college, I really wanted to be playing with stem cells, but I picked the school who's BME program was all biomechanics, aka movement analysis and prosthetics, because they gave me lots of money to go there. As I took more and more classes, I realized I really enjoyed bioinstrumentation, aka fancy medical devices, because on any given day, I can be found carrying at least three of them on my person.

I was psyched when I saw that the DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) was hosting a discussion week about medical devices. Unfortunately, because my social life is sideways and upside down in the summer, I haven't been able to join in to any of the convos. but I read the transcripts and try and listen in on at least some of the radiotalk on Thursdays. Then, I found out that it was this month's blog carnival, and I've been scheming about what to write about since I saw it. **I go back and forth with a lot of these issues because while I understand why they exist, I still think it sucks**

Because I'm on the up and up (I think) on how device development works, I know that bringing serious innovation forward to existing devices is hard. Partly because of how the FDA approves changes and partly because of how big business works. After that comes all the cool stuff I'd like to see happen with our current D technology.

Regulation of medical technology is hard. Period. It's a little backward in the US but it's not always better in other countries either. EACH country has different approval mechanisms. Some are easier and believe it or not some are harder to gain regulatory approval. So yes, while I'm jealous about the Animas Vibe coming out in the UK, I understand why they started there.

Regulatory approval is like those car seatbelt alarms. While they annoy the daylights out of you and they're pesky, the ONLY reason they're there is to help keep you alive. They're not really trying to hold back innovation and cool new technologies. They exist to keep us safe from medical fiascoes like the Pinto (read car that burst into flames) for the car industry. Also keep in mind, while some of what they do and their procedures make no sense, NOTHING in the medical or political world is close to perfect.

So the big bad world of big business makes it really hard for a basement tinkerer to come up with something really cool in terms of D-technology. They have lots of money and lots of resources. When larger companies absorb smaller companies, sometimes awesome things happen and sometimes awful things do. This goes back to the previous point but it's really tough and expensive to win regulatory approval as a small firm between the amount of money for the trials and the amount of paperwork to ensure you actually thought the idea through. A lot of times people have to sell their ideas to bigger companies so that they make it to the hands of everyday people like us. I was a little sad when I read the Deltec Cozmo pump (pump with meter attached) was going out of business because I was so psyched at how different it was from the other major pumps in the market. While I don't know their reasons, I do understand the pressures from a very competitive market.

As far as my hopes for D-technology, I'll break it up in 2 ways: Near Future and WAYYY out there. Everyone thinks that smaller is better when it comes to technology (see anything about cell phones and mp3 players). While smaller is cooler in some cases, bigger is also better too (especially for the older peeps with D). There are some populations of people with D that don't get as much attention as they nearly need. The two in my mind are the uber-technophiles like me and those kids who are diagnosed early on (because if I see a commercial selling my diabetes supplies with medicare once more, I may scream at the TV about how I'm not old enough for that by decades).

As far as technophiles, there's tons that we wish we could do with our D-technology. 1 integrated device to carry around instead of 3 or 4 would be awesome (are there security concerns? sure, but can't we decide our data risks personally?). Looking at our data in different forms and playing with it find trends that important to us. Customizing our devices sometimes plays a big role (see bg meter via iphone). I think someone brought up the incredible point of putting a light where the strip goes and the blood gets sucked in so we can test in the dark (think movie theaters, bedrooms, camping trips). Even some fluorescent or glow in the dark action on strips (I know you're supposed to keep them in a cool dark place but still) would be cool. It amazes me that not all pumps come with remote controls and there aren't smartphone widgets for inputting d-numbers to track. I HATE that I have to put carbs and bgs into my pump and then my dexcom. If tracking is SO important, why do they make it so impossible? I want more options. Can't we decide how complicated or simple we want our medical devices to be? I can get a less powerful version of an iphone for less money than the brand new one, but I can't do that with my medical devices? Can't I upgrade the processor or order more software to tinker with it myself at MY OWN RISK? (Although to be honest, I think that's more the FDA then the companies)

For kids? It's been a while and I was diagnosed close enough to puberty that I've always been pretty much the same size. But I met a d-dad at an interview who was telling me about how disappointed he was that his son couldn't live with an insulin pump because it's too big for him. With all of these miniaturization and customization skills that companies have, they haven't figured out how to make pumps and devices sized for kids. Ones that have smaller reservoirs and fewer options than the regular-sized adult ones would make their lives that much easier. They've started coming out with cellphones for kids that can gradually be transitioned to real phones. Why don't they have grow with you insulin pumps targeted to the ages of 0-12 years?

There are also things that most diabetics are disappointed and confused by. Like the accuracy of our testing devices. Why can two identical meters be so far off? (Variables. Temperature. Test strips. Tolerances in device specs. Testing locations. Blah blah blah. Seriously?) If we can send people to space, why can't I test my blood sugar when I'm snowboarding because my meter is too cold or at the beach because its too hot?

As far as the future, I'm right there with everyone for a cure or at least an implantable pump. I understand the difficulties with reservoirs and batteries as well as scar tissue and glucose monitoring physiology. I just would love something that would make me worry less 24/7. I'd be happy to forget that I have diabetes for more than an hour (most days, not even that).

I know that technology isn't instant like microwave noodles. It takes time and money and a lot of innovative minds. But I can't lie and say that I don't want more. More accuracy. More options. More simplicity. More sizes. I want more, and I want it soon.

This post is my July entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at

Monday, July 11, 2011

Favorite Pricking Spots

So I spent a fair portion of my time with my CDE talking about alternate sites for my infusion set, but it hasn't really occured to me that I need to be rotating my finger stick sites around.

I'm the very first to admit how poorly I managed my diabetes for years. 1 stick every once in a while to make sure I was... alive.

Now that I've gotten over my D-burnout and into a regular pattern of checking my bgs and remember my boluses, I've realized that my finger stick pattern has changed. MY favorite finger spot was the right side of my right ring finger. A few years ago the finger looked awful and gouged. For some reason, my new favorite finger has become my right middle finger. It's not in as bad shape as my ring finger was but it's getting there.

I've started adapting to using my left hand a little more often now, and I know that you can pretty much stick yourself where ever you think you can manage to strike blood (palm, forearm, etc.) I remember being not terribly shocked when the pamphlet inside the pricker device said not to use anything other than your finger tips for hypoglycemia or rapidly changing numbers (physiology says that the blood in your forearm lags behind the blood in your fingertips). Despising exceptions (because well, golly gee, IF I knew I was low, then that kind of defeats the point doesn't it) and already knowing how inaccurate meters can be (UGH & RAWR), I've always just stuck to my fingers.

So my question to all of you is where are your favorite spots, why are they your favs, and do you always pick your fingers?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Diabetes Wonder

I have gone from feeling like a diabetes burnout super-freak to feeling like the diabetic wonder-child.

Today, I visited a Certified Diabetes Educator in...3 or 4 years. My mom and I had an awesome relationship with my last CDE. When I outgrew the peds clinic and my parents moved to NH, I transferred to Dr. Awful and hadn't seen a CDE since. What that meant is that some of those awesome Diabetes skills I had acquired over the years (aka knowing what to do in emergencies, how to rotate my sites, tips and tricks) had gotten a little rusty over the years. For instance, my pump broke and I tried giving a shot into my arm muscles instead of arm fat. If you're really that curious, remember that I highly recommend AGAINST it.

Anyways, I had a few discussion points I was interested in: Alternate sites because my stomach is starting to look like Swiss Cheese; Adjustments to my Insulin to Carb Ratio: More tips for dual wave bolusing cause what I've tried so far hasn't quite worked.

All in all her answers while mostly textbook were all laced with the same theme: You're an empowered, smart, and motivated Diabetes patient aka wonder-child. She raved about how good everything looked and how I should stick to what I'm doing with some slight modifications here and there.

Now all in all, I haven't been anywhere near a good diabetic patient in years. What changed? I got a Dexcom and started reading more about awesome diabetics online. Actually, truth be told, the reading was probably what motivated me to switch to the Dex. Point is that behind every "good" diabetic is a lot of people: Doctors, Family, Friends. Ultimately, having someone who knows what it's like living with this crazy condition day after day really gives you a kick in the pants. It makes you aspire to be better and remember that you're human. So, thank you DOC for motivating me to take better care of myself.