Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Almost Untruths?

Tweet About My Last Few DBlogs

Deceptively Untrue to the Tweet

Highs! They happen!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rollercoasters Bring More than Fear

This is a post I've been working on for a while...and despite that, I ask for your patience with the ungraceful writing. I just want to get this out. Shout. Shout. Shout it all out. Right?

I'm terrified of heights. Everyone wonders how I rock climb and enjoy the big metal rides of steel. Once I test my climbing anchors with a full lap, understand the safety mechanisms, and watch someone do it, the fear melts away like butter. Monkey see, Monkey do. (Goes very well with "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." but I digress...)

When the rollercoaster changes in unexpected ways and my safety mechanisms don't work, I get very upset. When I was younger, I'd be able to tell a low was coming when I got to 75 mg/dl just by a little nudging feeling inside me with some light shaking and perspiring. In the last two years, I've become very dependent on my robotic paraphenalia aka my Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor aka Eggy.

This week I had a monster low. Eggy was unhelpful, because it was reading confuzzled with the ??? staring back at me. I didn't feel it. I didn't see it. I didn't hear it, taste it, or smell it. I didn't realize it at all until I stabbed my finger before leaving my apt to drive into school (PSA for the day: Always test before you drive). It. This crazed monster of the low bloodsugar variety. Hypoglycemia. The thing that makes every cell in my body silently scream without hope for a solution.

The signs change. The feelings. The nudges.

It started with some lethargy. A bout of nasty nasty depression question whether or not grad school was the wrong choice for me. Ensuing panic. Freezing cold.

All I knew was that I felt wrong. I felt unlike myself but I couldn't do anything about it. I felt this way (at varying levels) for at least 4 hours. I put my to-do-list on hold and seriously questioned one of the largest undertakings I've committed myself to accomplish. Graduate school is not something to undertake lightly kids. No tears. No screaming. No sweat. Just a quiet but persistent inquisition. I honestly believed I should just give up on everything I spent more than a third of my life on for a solid few hours.

I've come to expect lethargy and anger with a high. Not with a low. Lows are supposed to be urgent. Unseasonably warm. Loud. Metallic tasting. Making the energy inside me feel like I'm going to explode. like every little blood cell is bouncing off my capillaries vibrating and hunting for the last molecule of glucose.

Dear diabetes, it's not cool when you change the rules. It's not cool when you make me wonder if I'm me first or you first. It's not cool when I begin to question my sanity. It's not cool when I have to scrutinize my emotions and decisions for the lingering presence of sugar effects. Sometimes, I want my body to belong wholly to me and not to the monsters created by the absence of a single hormone: Insulin. Hear me RAWR. I won't let you take over my life like this.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oops, I Did It Again....

Britney Spears lyrics are the lingering mark of my teenage years and remain firmly embedded in my memory regardless of how much I'd rather have that space for anything else. Anyways..

Yesterday, I revisited my last blog post a little too literally and very out of the blue. Note that the time stamps on my meter are extremely wrong since this happened at 3 or 4 in the afternoon...

Purple Mini One Touch Meter BG 24

Since I thought it was impossible to hit this hypoglycemic benchmark twice in under two months (two years, two decades, ever?!), I swiftly rechecked it even though logic defies seeing a radical low because of meter error to find this:

Purple Mini One Touch Meter BG 20

I survived the low after three juice boxes and with no harm done to anything/anyone else. Of course, this necessitated a revisit to my last blog post in a more fun way. So without ado:

Things My Blood Sugar Should Not Equal (version 2):
1. Vigesimal
2. Music Album Names (Boyz II Men, Lynyrd Skynrd, Harry Connick Jr.)
3. Age which you cannot be considered a teenager anymore
4. Half of a late-night tv show made famous by Barbara Walters
5. Ounces in a Venti-sized Starbucks drink
6. A question game reserved for car rides (in my mind)
7. Protein Building Amino Acids
8. Andrew Jackson's US monetary bill
9. Platinum Anniversary
10. Atomic number of Calcium

Diabetes is hilarious sometimes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Things My Blood Sugar Should Not Equal

1. My age
2. Number of hours in the day
3. Almost the speed limit in school zones
4. A TV show staring Kiefer Sutherland
5. Total number of ribs in the human body
6. The number of carats in pure gold
7. Yotta
8. The atomic number of chromium
9. Players on the field in a Canadian football game
10. Total number of pieces in a game of Checkers

And yet, this surprised me today:

After a few double takes, I rechecked 4 times with two meters: 28, 26, 29, 25.

Of course, this occurred in the two hours I was waiting before calibrating Eggy. No symptoms. I felt a little funny but wasn't suspecting a low at all. No shaking until 20 minutes later when treated with a few gulps of orange juice. Oh diabetes, you get stranger and stranger everyday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


If you know me, you know that I don't possess Grace in great quantity, for instance...

I rushed, rushed, rushed onto a train to New York City to meet Steve and Stephanie of LivingVertical for an afternoon of city bouldering. I hustled my way through the subway and emerged to see a text message relaying that my friends were running a little late. Luckily, we were meeting in Central Park. There are an abundance of benches and grass patches to plop down on. I was smart enough to bring a book for the train ride to keep me occupied without killing my battery, and I made a point to stop in Penn Station to pick up a bottle of Diet Coke for refreshment.

As I waited for my friends, I glanced at my ever faithful Eggy and he showed me something steady at around 100. On the train ride, I had suffered a mild low that I treated with a Clif Bar and I didn't want to have diabetes interfering with my afternoon. Just before I get a text from my friend telling me where they were at, I wake up from my reading fog (where the entire real world disappears) to the dreadful triple buzz at 62 mg/dl. My mind was still glazed with confusion as I hunted through my backpack for glucose tabs. I popped in 5 or 6 since my blood sugar was trending downward. My phone buzzed. I thought about asking them to meet me instead of walking the two blocks, but decided I was fine even though I was still trending down. Off I went (in the wrong direction, but I figured that out afterwards).

I smushed everything back into place in my bag. My wallet was stowed away secretly. My phone was resting safely in my pocket. I had Eggy in my left hand and the empty bottle in my right hand. I walked over to the nearest trashcan and paused with fuzzy questions of which way to walk down the sidewalk. Right then, I did it. I thoughtlessly and gracefully tossed Eggy in the trashcan while the plastic bottle remained firmly in my grasp. I paused. I gasped. I slapped my forehead, and then, perched up onto the ledge where the can sat. Almost thereeee with my hand stretched out. But not quite. The trashcan was large enough that I needed to hop and gently toss myself over the edge to be able to reach it. I managed to escape with just a little pain to my stomach from being gouged by the metal edge. I'm sure there were some very confused tourists snapping photos and whispering about the crazy chick in the trashcan. If they only knew half of the truth... Most importantly, Eggy survived without any impact/liquid damage or any squishy/sticky/gross residue.

Grace? I'm still hunting for that in the trash can I lost it in years ago (if I ever had it).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Feed me, Seymour!


Prompt #3: Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at. Today let’s look at the flip-side. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on.

I wrote a little while ago about how I wanted to pay attention to my Dexcom more, ignore alarms less, and not put off treatment of hypoglycemic events. And I've done that pretty well (despite my out of the blue ER visit). Fewer lows and hesitations to reach for juice/candy/nutella...

Finger-sticking while not my favorite thing in the world is something I manage at least four (if not more) times a day. Counting/SWAG-ing carbs has always been a strength of mine. Like a lot of other people out there, I despise changing my infusion set and my Dexcom sensor. Yet, I even do that with out a lot of struggle. And yesterday, I discussed my ability to tweak basals & boluses like a pro.

My biggest problem, and something I'm still trying to figure out, is eating. Not carb counting. Just the act of eating. Remembering to eat. Eating often. Since I've started eating healthier (read: less stuff from a box/bag), I find myself struggling to put meals together. I did pretty well for a few weeks, but I fell off the eating wagon during the madness of the end of the semester. I promise I don't have an eating disorder. I actually have a deep love of food and a healthy appreciation of how I look. Are there a few stubborn pouches I'd like to get rid of? Definitely. Am I going to do it by starving myself? Definitely not. 

I just get wrapped up my work and by the time my stomach is grumbling, I'm too lazy to find something healthy to nom nom nom on. And if it's not that healthy, I will usually eat it out of necessity but I'll be unhappy because I know I can do better. My blood sugar doesn't really complain since I've got my basal rates rocking steady, but my tummy grumbles like a hungry, over-sized Venus fly trap. I am more likely to grab a handful or almonds or some string cheese before chopping up some veggies and boiling up some brown rice. Snacks do not replace meals. My lack of willingness to take time out of my schedule for just cooking/eating is a problem. This is definitely something I can step up on. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


2012DBlogWeekBannerPrompt #2: Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it's easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren't “perfect”. But today it's time to give ourselves some much deserved credit. Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly! Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes. Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!

After nearly 15 years, I have become an expert at just making tiny adjustments.

Every day is different in terms of how often I check, how much I eat, and how well I count carbs, but as a whole I've made great strides in just accepting the hand that I'm dealt daily. That's not say that I never complain. My twitter feed is littered with #bgnow-s, #cgmnow-s, and the all important RAWRRRR-s. But overall as a whole, I keep my cool with diabetes by just making little adjustments to my routine on my own.

From early in my diabetes career to now, things have been different. I can't say that I remember the times during my early diagnosis where I shot up for a perfectly measured meal and was not allowed to leave food on my plate. It happened. Often. But those memories have migrated into that fuzzy far-way drawer of my brain. Everything was precise and rigid. Like the definition of insanity, I did the exact same thing every day and expected the same results.

Now, I make little adjustments like a pro. Sometimes I visualize my diabetes (personified as a squeaky pancreas) as a little crank motor. Busy schedule? Crank the lever a little to the left for a half turn of more food. Bad day with tons of stress? Crank the lever wayyy to the right for three full turns more of insulin. I'm extremely comfortable adjusting and waiting. Adjusting and waiting. Adjusting...and waiting some more. Very rarely do I freak out about what's going on and need to start from scratch. Pull out all the parts and clean up the grease before putting it all back together. To be honest, I can't really remember the last time I hit reboot. Like everything else, I just go with the flow and enjoy the ride as best I can.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gotta Read Them ALL!

2012DBlogWeekBannerPrompt #1: It seems the most popular thing about Diabetes Blog Week is that it helps us find blogs we weren’t reading yet and connect with some new blog friends. With that in mind, let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by making some new connections. Think about the d-blogs you read that you think we may not know about and introduce us to one that you love! Let’s all find a new friend today!

For diabetes based blogs and websites, I have a relatively short list that I follow on a regular basis. The rest of the random storytellers I find are the direct result of Twitter mentions with interesting hooks. I'm sure there are a handful or so that "everyone" reads because of their popularity, writing style, or particular topic (everyone has a theme whether they know it or not). Instead of scouring the internet or my friends' list for cool ones, I'm just going to highlight some blogs that are lingering in my RSS reading list that I haven't heard lots of people tweeting about. My really abbreviated and wayyy out of date side list has more. And because I'm lazy, bullet points and short descriptions follow (IN RANDOM ORDER)!

  • Nerdy April's Space Adventures
    There are many struggles for a brainy woman (read: aerospace engineer) to win her right to float above us in the next big frontier. Space is definitely not the last adventure that diabetes will tag along on. I'm rooting her on and reading along. She's also getting married soon (to an engineer!), which is always something fun to hear about!
  • The Sweet Life @ Blast Magazine
    So I had seen tweets by this chickabee wandering around before when I was still a lurker in the DOC. I knew then what I knew as soon as I met her. She rocks. The socks. OFF EVERYTHING. We have a lot of random stuff in common beyond our dysfunctional pancrei. We're both young, brilliant, enthusiastic, addicted to sitting in our cars rocking out to the radio, and to be brief: awesome. Also, she's a great writer and activist (especially for DHF). Read her. NOW!
  • Sugar Rollercoaster
    Unlike most blogs out there that have just one person or upwards of ten people writing the stories, this blog just has two girls. They both have very important stories to share about being young-adults living with diabetes. (Side note: I don't know when I'll stop thinking of myself as a young-adult). A lot of their stories are personal tales of the day to day mental challenges with D (and trust me, from personal experience, they are just as innumerable as everything else). Plus, they live across the pond which definitely gives me a new perspective.
  • Alternate Interior
    What can I say about Mr. Bosh other than he is a funny (and pun-ny) man from New Mexico. He's a little bit geek (see his d-app and profession). He's a little bit eccentric. He's totally fun. There are some people out there that just feel right when you talk to them. He falls into that category. He doesn't necessarily blog a lot but if you aren't following him on Twitter, you're seriously missing out on some awesome banter.
  • Living Vertical
    Steve and Stef Richert are inspiring people. A friend put us in touch. He's the first diabetic rock climber to come across my radar, and a part of me wishes I could be him when I "grow up." Steve is a great story teller and a great photographer too. He and his wife travelling across North America climbing every single day for a year. They have some great stories about strength, finesse, and fear: things that are ever present in both rock climbing and living daily with diabetes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bullet Points: Catching Up

So it's been a little more than a month since I've last posted and way too much stuff has happened. I promise to come back and write real posts about some of this stuff but for now, all you get is the abbreviated version:

  • I finished my first year of doctoral classes.
    • Many, many all nighters
    • May have given myself a stomach ulcer (not really)
  • I love seeing old friends.
    • Somethings never change
    • Especially in NYC
    • Time flies!
  • A neighbor backed into my rear passenger side door.
    • No human damage
    • Car still drives
    • Mostly other driver's fault (Insurance split it 80%-20%)
  • My doctors suspect I have developed Diabetes Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN).
    • Almost 15 years complication free
    • Intermittent numbness in my feet
    • Diverging opinions between two primary care physicians
    • Started taking a B-complex vitamin
    • Still investigating my next steps
  • I spent 12 hours in the ER.
    • Somehow double bolused too much insulin when out with friends
    • Extreme disorientation
    • Blood sugar of 28 mg/dl & unresponsive for 30 minutes while in the ER
    • My friends are awesome at taking care of me
I'm sure there's more stuff but those are the things that are glaring in my mind. Oh yea, in case you missed it, I was Fan of the Week over at the Blue Heel Society. Check them out, because they're awesome.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Birthday by the Pictures

Thank you to everyone who made yesterday an awesome kick off to the next (fantastic) year of my life!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not Such a Secret

"I'm from New Jersey. I'm seventeen. I'm Pakistani. I'm Pre-med. I'm majoring in Biomedical Engineering. And, oh, I'm a diabetic."

This statement came out of my mouth several dozen times when I started my undergraduate studies. From the first time I was away from the cocoon of my family, I always disclosed my diabetes. But I also treated it as an afterthought. Therefore, everyone around me didn't really notice the diabetes. Usually it was exactly what I wanted except for the few occasional times people forgot.

Why did I tell them? Because it made me feel safe to know the people closest to me knew well about my "serious" medical condition. And because my mother always told everyone for me. Loudly. And vehemently. But after freshman year, the splurge train about my diabetes didn't roll out very often. Mostly because I felt too independent (read: cocky teenager) to share about my life with the big D everyday. It was my own mental hurdle to overcome. I nonchalantly told my research advisers about it and they never really cared about the days off or extra snack breaks. I'm lucky that nothing horrible has ever happened with my diabetes, but planning for the worst case scenarios has always given me a safety blanket.

Since becoming an active participant in the DOC, I bring up my diabetes more often than I used to, but my "it's no big deal" attitude towards it hasn't changed at all. I'm still learning about what kind of people to tell in what manner. Sometimes inundating people with facts is not the right way to go. Sometimes not telling them enough makes them feel less important or unintelligent. Sometimes they just figure it out by watching me inhale glucose tabs or stab my fingers.

What I recently realized is that I shouldn't be ashamed of my diabetes and all it entails. I can scream that I have diabetes from the roof tops. I shouldn't be embarrassed by the beeping or the bleeding. Now, I do have stuff to be embarrassed about (like my guilty pleasure music or not zipping up my fly) but all in all my slacker pancreas and the havoc it causes shouldn't ever bring about shame. Because I can't control everything. I try to do my best and remember all the things I am without diabetes ever coming into the picture.

I am adventurous.
I am a rock climber.
I am smarter than the average bear.
I am a student.
I am caring.
I am a daughter, a sister, and an aunt.
And I am thriving with diabetes (in case you didn't know).

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

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The New, The Old, and the Restless

The New: I ventured to the Sanofi US Headquarters on Monday for a super tiny focus group with Joslin Diabetes Educators for a new training program: "Are You on the Road to Living Well with Diabetes?" Most of my excitement stemmed from the fact that I found out about all of this through Twitter. While I thought the material was pretty repetitive, I realize that they're hitting their target audience (newly diagnosed / searching for better control) really well. I did learn a few things here and there, and I love their new analogies for diabetes control. Plus, there's a magic number for your microalbumin that you should know: under 30 for happy kidneys. I spent the better part of the session trying to keep myself from blurting out answers to questions for the program mangers and hug the other people in the session (must pretend to be polite, right?). The really cool part was that I got a free HbA1c just for answering some questions. My results show that I'm still at the same spot (6.2) even though I'm eating differently and working out more. I'm much happier about that, because I'm doing it without being low 24/7. Curious to see about my cholesterol levels with the new diet but my lipid panel must wait until June.

The Old: My car is all better. No check engine light. I'm not sure if I can feel a difference in how it drives (or if I'm supposed to) but I will find out very quickly in the next week with copious hours driving from state to state (it's spring break, don't cha know?). Despite the many hours in my car, I still have a ton of work to get done so that's going to be... interesting?

The Restless: I WANT TO KICK MY BUTT INTO GEAR. To do anything. I don't know what's up with my motivation lately. I want to scream. I want to run and jump and tumble. I want to accomplish something. Any recommendations on how to do so would be helpful.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lemon Laws

I spent my Friday morning waiting for three hours to find out what was wrong with my car. The waiting rooms at automobile dealerships kind of remind me of the waiting rooms of doctor's offices. It's especially bad when medical issues arise while at a car dealership but more on that later...

In the United States, the have laws to protect consumers who buy new cars from manufacturing defaults. No process is perfect. With thousands of parts going into creating one machine, there's just an inherent chance for something to go wrong because of part defects when putting something together on a factory line. They're called Lemon Laws. They vary from state to state but essentially covers any performance problems in a new car in the first few weeks.

Now I've been having some issued with a evaporation purge valve in my fuel line. It's been going on for about a year. It just decides to not play nice once in a while. Doesn't seriously affect the car's performance (as far as I know) but it does keep the car from passing the NH state inspection next week. Usually they test this valve and it tests out fine. Every dealer I've shown it to has said if it keeps acting up, to replace it. Me being stubborn, I won't replace it until the tests definitively say this part is broken. Much to my chagrin, the test on Friday declared this valve broken. Unfortunately, my car is well past the lemon law stage.

Apparently, there is no Lemon Law for body parts. I'd gladly swap my pancreas out but I guess I'll just keep rocking my pancreas impersonation skills.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

HOPE for a Cure Day

March 1st was Hope for a Cure for Diabetes Day. That's a mouthful to type to label just one day. Here's my hand.

For more shots of people hoping, check out the Facebook page!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Technology Failure

My poor little laptop is officially dead. It croaked its last breath on Tuesday night at 8:16pm. I stuffed it into a well packed box and shipped it back to the company yesterday afternoon. Now, I have to wait 4-6 business days for it to return...

In the meantime, I have all these little snippets of posts waiting to be written into full fledged awesome stories. I guess I'll just keep writing myself little notes until I can find some time (and technology) to put them together.

Keep on holding steady.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Are You Okay?

I know that worry has existed as a human emotion almost as long as humans have been around. I know that worry from others is a sign that you're not alone in the big bad world. I know that worry sounds like a four letter word to me.

Worry. Care. Concern.

Whatever you call it. However you see it. I feel like those three words sear into me sometimes. Sometimes, I just want to scream until my lungs are empty: I AM OKAY.

Just because I have diabetes, it does not mean I am some fragile little glass figurine that will crack if you tip me the wrong way (and yes, I believe the same thing about be a woman. I can do almost anything my brothers can do). I am strong. I am vibrant. I am resilient.

Worry is needed sometimes in limited quantities. The only person I let get away with it rampantly is my mom (because she's my mom. Worrying can make her overbearing, but she's connected to me).

I will unabashedly declare that I have diabetes, because I want people to know in case something happens to me. I want people know that I am strong enough to do or try whatever I set my mind do (school, climbing, the presidency (just for Simon), whatever!).

There are different reactions. Public and written all over your face. Private and whispered around guarded corners. Everyone has an opinion. And they're entitled to it. But I wish they knew me better (AND ASKED QUESTIONS) before they formed them.

My first class my freshman year was Engineering and Design. I had it with the Assistant Dean of the college in a computer lab where no food or drink was allowed. Instead of pestering the guy later, I just raised my hand and asked if it was alright if I brought juice and water with me because of my diabetes. Of course he said it was okay. What I didn't find out until I was nearly graduating (from one of the college secretaries at that) is that as soon as the lecture was over, he stumbled into the college's front office in a panic about what to do if I passed out in class or some such traumatic medical event arose. The funniest part of this story is that I was his preceptor for three years after my freshman year teaching right alongside him, and I don't think he was ever showed that fear (I hope he realized it was unnecessary).

I've started a bootcamp training program. My trainer looked like she was filled with questions that she never asked when I told her I'm a diabetic. And she asks at least 5 or 6 times during a 50 minute session if I'm okay. I can see the look of concern in her eyes just for me while she's scanning the room of us. It drives me a little nuts, but I know the longer I stay with the program and the more she gets to know me, the less she'll ask. I know she's got that same sense of panic as that professor, because she wears it on her face.

Sometimes, my blood sugar is low and I need help. But more often than not, I figure it out myself. I don't know if it's the stubborn streak in me, or something else all together (maybe it's just the phrase). I am fiercely independent most days, which can cause trouble once in a blue moon. I've been lucky and blessed so far. Without taking it for granted, I just wish for one day I could look around and know that no one is worrying.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Bad Kind of Comfortable

Since I've acquired my Eggster (aka my Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor), I've also noticed a bad trend.

I'm more comfortable with lows.

I'm less scared until hypoglycemia really, really hits me at a 40 mg/dl or even a 30 mg/dl.

I'm more complacent about letting my blood sugar chill in the lows 70s and high 60s. (everything about that statement makes me feel like a diabetes weather forecaster)

In reality, this has nothing do with Eggy and more to do with me. I don't know why I'm so unphased by lows but completely terrified of the lethargy that sets in with highs (read: leaded limbs and instant naptime). I'm sure it has to do with my insulin sensitivity. The longer your blood sugar is low: the more your body adapts to that environment. It's bad. I like my brain cells and my insides. I don't want them to slowly die off because I'm happier experience a mild low than a mild high. Eggy should be helping me out with that. But instead he's just begging me to do something with each buzz, and I just let him buzz away.

The worst is that I know that this is a major issue for working out and studying. I need to be in tip-top shape to be performing at my best. Exercising while low and studying while low have the same results. NOTHING GOOD.

What am I doing to remedy this? I'm lowering the low blood sugar alarm on my dex from 80 mg/dl to 70 mg/dl. Because when it buzzes and I'm rocking out at 78 mg/dl, I'm wayyy less likely to pay attention to it until it gives me the quadruple buzz at 55 mg/dl. Here's to hoping for some positive momentum to get back to a good kind of comfortable.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Focus on the Forward (Not the Backward)

I can't start a post about the future without touching upon the past.

This past year, I've made real connections with more diabetics (type whatever) than I ever have before. I've gone from being relatively alone (minus those silly voices in my head) on this tireless journey with my friend, diabetes (I'm thinking she's gonna have to be nicknamed Bete soon) to trying to remember who is in which time zone. I met more and more new friends with diabetes that have inspired and supported me. Just rattling off names and numbers (like a good engineer?) wouldn't describe the type of connection and hope that each person has given me through a few simple moments. I was also very lucky to get my hands on my (relatively) unbreakable Eggy who has helped me bring me a little more control. I've been blessed on all these accounts.

So the one diabetes-related thing I'm looking forward to for 2012 is building more of those relationships. Meeting more people I can lean and more people who can lean on me. Getting out into the real world a little more. Teaching one more person that people with diabetes can do whatever we set our minds to despite a paperweight for a pancreas. Showing one more person that we all have our moments of weakness and struggle. The diabetes community is vast and diverse. Sometimes it is really difficult to believe that there are so many of us doing so many amazing things. And sometimes that amazing thing is just saying hello.

Now that I'm here and now that I've found you, I can't imagine going back. Back to fighting this on my own. Back to fighting this silently. Back to fighting this just for me.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not Coordinated or Together (or a Good Example)

I don't pretend to be a good example. Or a maker of good decisions.

Most days, I carry around a massive black backpack. One filled with my laptop and folders for school and all the fun diabetes supplies I carry around. In addition to my little tupperware case of medical swag and glucometer, you can usually find a big bottle of glucose tabs, Clif bars, a Nalgene water bottle, and an emergency Diet Coke can (because you never know when you'll need caffeine).

For a variety of reasons, I've been experimenting with downsizing. Instead of bringing my laptop with me (which is the main reason for the humongous backpack), I managed to bring two folders, my d-tupperware, a snack, a tube of glucose tabs, my tester, and my water bottle on the very first day of classes this semester. But I've been going back and forth between my big black backpack and my slim blue tote.

Monday was a crazy (read: super unprepared) mad rush to school. I *almost* forgot about my weekly seminar. I stuck my folders in my tote with my tester, d-case, and a fast snack, and then, I dashed to my car. As soon as I pulled out my notebook during the seminar, I realized I forgot a pen (not a girl scout without my big prepared bad with 9 of everything). No biggie. Just borrowed one from a friend. During my 20 minute break between the two classes, I quickly ran up to the lab to straighten out a meeting I had missed cause of the seminar. Checked Eggster to see a nice flat line around 90. No worries...

Until the ominous triple buzz set in 5 minutes into my second class. And Eggy says? 64 mg/dl. No prob. Just need some sugar. But since I grabbed the slim tote, no sugar in site. Just mozerella sticks and carrots. Instead of saying something or just taking a few minutes to hunt down some sugar, I sat there. I suspended my pump. Devoured those cheese sticks as discretely as I could. Kept pressing the button on my Eggy to prevent the LOW screeching. As soon as class was over, I ran to my car an chomped down on four glucose tabs...

But I had to hurry for my first gym class of the semester (or ever...). My roommates and I signed up for this flexible exercise series at the school gym. I want more structure (read: an external motivator) in my sweatabetes. And I'm always willing to try something new. So I needed to dart to the gym for my very first Zumba class. Still low though. And it's raining. But I'm very functional. The gym is only a 1 minute away by car. 10 minutes later. Still low. More glucose tabs. Run in and change. Still low. Find the room. Only at 68 according to Eggy. But I'm exercising anyway.

I know it's not healthy. But I wasn't doing this for my diabetes. I was doing this for me. Because if I skipped number 1, I'd skip the next one. And the next one. I don't want to sit on the sidelines. And a little low isn't going to stop me. At some point the glucose tabs kicked in. My pump was still on suspend and I turned it back on once I was past 100 mg/dl. I peaked at 130 and then slowly came down with the exercise. The rest of the night was filled with little glasses of juice. But I survived.

I spent over an hour in a hypoglycemic state (under 70 mg/dl according to Eggy) and an hour in in severe hypoglycemic state (under 55 mg/dl according to Eggy). And I'm lucky nothing happened. But now, I'm taping a tube of glucose tabs into every bag I own for next time.

(By the by, I'm not coordinated. But I survived Zumba. Kept up pretty well and only screwed up a fourth of the moves...I think. Someone needs to teach me how to pick up my feet instead of planting them. Oh and need new sneakers. STAT! The only thing that hurt when I was done was my ego and my feet.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So Much to Carry

Having diabetes inadvertently means carrying TONS of extra stuff around all the time or suffer some rather unpleasant consequences.

For my first decade or so of being a diabetic, the only thing I made sure to have with me all the time was my glucose monitor. Some luxury of trusting the school nurse, my parents, and friends meant that I was never really worried about carrying something to treat lows. And by the time I was in high school, I had a pump, which meant no lugging around insulin or taking shots. I made a point to leave some extra pump gear and some needles at the nurses office but never ever used ANY of it. Somehow, I was lucky enough to not see a clogged set or malfunctioning infusion site for the first 12 or so years as a diabetic. AND then things changed.

I started experimenting with different sites more. Travelling on the fly more. Paying more attention to my good friend, Diabetes. Having more bad experiences without extra supplies. Whatever the reason, I realized how important it was to carry more than just a glucose monitor with me.

So now, I try to carry:
  • Glucose meter
  • Lancing device
  • Test Strips
  • Continuous Glucose Monitor Reciever (Eggy!)
  • 2 pump reservoirs
  • 2 infusion sets
  • An Extra Bottle of Strips
  • 1 AAA battery
  • Current Vial of Insulin (and an extra if it's looking low)
  • A bajillion alcohol swabs (that I don't realllly use except for site changes [shhh!])
  • A tube of glucose tabs (or a bottle if it's a bad day/big bag)
  • Glucagon (usually there's one case in my backpack but I can't say it wanders out to dinner with me all the time...)
When I was a kid and we went on long vacations, I remember the green army pack looking thing that my mom put all my supplies in. It was pretty sturdy and seemed like you stuff enough syringes and other supplies to last me 2 months. But I hated that thing. It exemplified the idea that diabetes was ugly and just a burden to carry around.

Now that I'm older, I have purchasing power. I COULD buy whatever I wanted to hold this in. Coach. Nine West. Dolce & Gabana. (Alright, I'm kidding. If you know me, you know I'm no where near that trendy). In reality, I'm an eternal college student. I'm also really picky when it comes to bags and shoes. I like simple. Sleek. Elegant. The green army pack was never going to make it. But sometimes, my engineering side kicks in. So instead of buying a bag, I just macguyvered things around the house.

My favorite thing to carry supplies in is a tupperware container. Nothing fancy. Or blue. I ordered takeout sushi one night and the plastic container in was just the right size to fit all I needed. Plus, it's super easy to swap from my backpack to my purse to my overnight bag/carry on without losing any essential pieces. And the vain side of me loves that it's black instead of that ugly white plastic. If you were feeling crafty (or sticker-y), you could easily paint or wrap that clear cover to look cooler.

Large tupperware container filled with pump supplies!
On the inside of the large container

I was talking via Twitter to Mr. Mike Lawson (who's really cool if you didn't know) and he was wondering about something more manly and sleek to carry d-supplies around in. Since he's on multiple daily injections (MDI), there's a little less gear to tote around in some ways. I was thinking of other things to stick supplies in just in case tupperware isn't your thing.

The best thing I found around my apartment was my hard shell sunglasses case. I can't really remember where I got it from but it's pretty easy to stuff in the essentials (testing supplies, insulin, and syringes). There's tons of hard shell cases online and in stores and most are less than $30.

Sunglass Case, Small Takeout Container, Large Takeout Container
Small Container with MDI Supplies
Sunglass Case with MDI Supplies

Playing around with different things, I think the size of the case is most important and the limiting factor is really the size of your meter. Most syringes and vials of insulin are the same size. But really if your meter is big, your case needs to be large enough to hold it. A OneTouch Mini is pretty tiny but the only meter I had at the moment to test with. Also, I recommend any makeshift case be water proof/resistant, sturdy, and easy to clean. If making/modifying carrying cases isn't your thing, there are tons of cute or manly carrying cases out there to buy nowadays. Some even come with built in slots to hold syringes and vials! We'll see how long it takes me to graduate from tupperware...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Trust Yourself

I saw my endocrinologist just three days before the beginning of the new year.

In the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks of my first semester, I may have let my diabetes care slide a little bit (read: like WHOA). Something about the stress of finals and staying up all night leads to intermittent to non-existent finger sticks along with copious amounts of diet coke and nothing but take out dinners. There were definitely days when I only checked what my blood sugar twice and saw numbers floating in the 200s and 300s (if ever you were curious, stress does make your blood sugar rise). I leaned heavily on my Egg-shaped friend and took somewhat random correction boluses. This routine disturbingly echoes my diabetes managements techniques as an undergraduate, except I didn't have a continuous monitor to keep an eye on my waxing and waning sugar levels.

Between celebrating that school was over, driving up and down the northeast, and trying to unwind, I completely forgot about my appointment. Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew there was some reason I hadn't made any plans for travelling or adventuring with friends for that Thursday. When the receptionist called, I mumbled my affirmation that I would be there. A mental image of a mostly empty spreadsheet appeared in my mind instantaneously. I didn't even pause before thinking my HbA1c would be somewhere between 7 and 9. The worry and fret weren't far behind.

I always want to be doing my best. If I can walk into my doctor's office knowing I've been trying, I don't have anything to fear. I can hold my head up high and answer any doc's questions. But this appointment was different. All I had to show were a bunch of excuses. Life gets in the way sometimes, but my good health gives me the ability to do more.

All bundled up, I walked into the office and handed the receptionist my dismal looking log. After a few minutes of waiting and watching dLife clips (love seeing people I "know" and know of on television), the nurse called me in. We went through the weight and blood pressure routine while exchanging niceties. She laughed when I told her I was a professional pin-cushion as she checked my blood sugar and loaded the on-site HbA1c tester. My doctor walked in a little hurried looking while the tester was still counting down. We chatted a bit and then she said something about not wanting to make any changes to my basal rates since she trusted my abilities to do so, she didn't have a log to look at, and my HbA1c hadn't changed much. I was so taken aback that I didn't notice or correct her about the log. In the 4 months at school and the crazy stress of finals, my HbA1c had only risen 0.2 points, which is well within the error range of those machines. She wished me well after my brief verbal and physical examination and was on her way out after before the full realization of that sunk in.

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, because they are very rarely kept. This year, however, I'm very determined to make and keep a very different resolution. Do I want to lose weight? Yea, but that can be tackled later. Right now, all I want to do is trust myself more. I want to trust my behavior. I want to trust that I'm doing my best. I want to trust and have faith for better results than the rational side of me would expect. Because stressing and worrying about what's coming isn't healthy for anyone. My resolution for 2012 is to believe in me, to believe in good things, and to believe in optimistic outcomes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vacations, Bad Luck, & Emergency Baking

It's weeks like these that make me feel like Diabetes isn't going to kill me. Stress on the other hand...

I apologize for the impromptu hiatus in blog posts. I'm a little disappointed for not making a goal I set to post regularly. Honestly, I'm burnt out on responsibilities at the moment. I needed to take a real break from everything for a little while, which was amazing while that feeling lasted (and unfortunately it was extremely short lived).

So what have I been doing? I took the week after Christmas to sleep out the exhaustion from my first semester and the crazy holiday/semester-end celebrations. There was quite a bit of driving around. I think I spent 14 hrs in a car over a 48 hr span of time. Every day that week began with many hours of sleep and a few enjoyable hours on the couch watching bad television (because really, it's the only kind).

Unluckily, my laptop crashed the day after I returned to New Jersey after only functioning for about 45 minutes. It was a serious blue screen of death followed by a "I won't boot regardless of how nicely you ask me" tantrum. Two system restores, many phone calls to HP tech repair, and 48 hours later my laptop was mildly functional. I just recently (as in the last few hours) installed Windows 7 and restored its functionality (read: it's no longer a very expensive paperweight).

This past Saturday, I managed to have my cell phone and One Touch Ultralink meter lost (and probably now stolen) in a public restroom. That lead to a very unpleasant 24 hours where I was relying very heavily on my continuous glucose monitor (EGGY TO THE RESCUE!). Needless to say, I have had multiple moments of undue stress, unclear thinking, and reckless panic. I still haven't slept to make up for all of it.

It proved to be a fairly (but not insanely) expensive mistake. I bought a new phone from AT&T and a One Touch mini from my favorite pharmacy. To try and unwind a little, I googled a quick recipe for my favorite (and mildly famous) chocolate chip cheesecake cookies since all my recipes are hiding in the backed up files on my external hard drive somewhere. Whipped up a batch as speedily as I could. I'm all sorts of discombobulated still. But indeed a delivered pizza and baked goods do ease large quantities of stress, in case you thought otherwise.

I'm sure you'll see upcoming posts that were intended for well before their actual post date. I hope they haven't hit their expiration dates.