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.