Dorm Life

dorm pic

This weekend was my college reunion, aka we got to stay over in the dorms and pretend that we were back in school with all of our closest friends right down the hallway whenever we got bored!  This is like the adult version of Disney Land to us!  #GoFriars

We enjoyed every minute of catching up, singing our favorite songs from college, imbibing at the bar on campus, and not thinking much about real life stressors like work or diabetes for a few short days.  We truly needed this, judging by the smiles of joy on all of the alums’ faces for the entire weekend.

I have been fighting a fever / sore throat / mild ketones thing all week, and was losing my voice before I even stepped on campus.  The responsible diabetic part of me felt a bit guilty that I was going to be staying up late dancing instead of dwelling at home in bed piled under blankets and sweating out the fever.  But I decided that this weekend only comes around once every five years, so I better live in the moment unless there was a serious health problem going on, which thankfully was not the case.  I did take some time out during the day on Saturday and Sunday to rest, but the evenings were reserved for my friends.  The relief that this weekend provided in terms of being with my fellow alums and enjoying a mini-hiatus from grad school homework, et al., was so appreciated.

You didn’t win this weekend, Diabetes Guilt Monster!  Channeling our favorite movie, Mean Girls, YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!!!

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Wicked Witch of the East?

“Woah!  Is that normal?!!” my friend and coworker, Jack, exclaimed as we sat on the bench at lunchtime.

“You mean these Incredible Hulk feet?  Yeahhh, not so much,” I replied.

Filed away in some teeny weeny “Future Useful Information” cabinet in my brain, I recalled how months earlier my doctors described that I may notice some swelling in my feet as I transitioned from the insulin pump back to multiple daily injections after a decade of pumping.

In layman’s terms regarding “Swelling Feet 101”- because I have a very basic understanding of this very complicated medical scenario- we would expect to see some swelling, particularly of the feet, due to my body readjusting to normal-ish blood sugar values.

While experiencing the high frequency of my insulin pump problems in the fall/winter, my body was more or less in a prolonged ketonic state.  With almost every site change, ketones built up, and it took hours to recover.  On especially rough days, I sometimes experienced multiple site failures, pushing the recuperation process even farther behind.  Once the problem was rectified, it was time for another site change, and often this process began all over again.  Not fun.

When ketones pop up, your body burns fat for fuel, and you dehydrate and do not absorb food properly.  Hence, the overall zombie apocalypse feeling that ketones carry.  During this time period, I was gaunt, hungry, and tired.  My body became accustomed to this unhealthy status quo of spilling ketones, flushing them out, and starting all over again once a new problem arose.

Shots mostly erased this high ketones song and dance. Insulin was regularly getting into my body via injections, so the ketones did not have a chance to compound like they had in the past. Although I felt infinitely better without ketones, my blood sugars were far from stellar for the first few months back on shots. There was a lot of back and forth figuring out proper basal rates, insulin to carb ratios, and correction factors. And, in diabetes’ signature fashion, it usually changed its mind once we seemed to iron out some details.

I am still not the poster child of superb blood sugars or a brag-worthy A1C, but my numbers are beginning to stabilize. Interestingly, I am seeing improved blood sugars with a significantly-reduced basal regimen. In the past, the basal was too high, prompting big crashes and consequential reactionary blood sugar spikes. In other words, the diabetes rollercoaster had a lot of peaks and valleys.

So, recently when my feet looked like the Wicked Witch of the East’s heels poking out from under the house that crushed her, it was actually a positive thing. Luckily I had a doctor’s appointment the following day, which confirmed that this was the swelling we had initially expected. It had not appeared when first back on shots because my blood sugars had remained erratic, despite the lack of ketones. Now, my body is getting more of the fuel that it needs and the insulin to cover that fuel, so as it rehydrates, there may be some temporary swelling.

As with anything diabetes-related, it’s never really simple, is it? Thankfully, in this situation, the unpleasantness is only brief and will not cause any permanent problems.  The only other issue is that I am having muscle spasms in my feet and legs quite frequently.  I have experienced muscle cramps since childhood.  Although this is nothing new to me, I could do without the intensified “Charlie Horse” occurrences.  The doctors believe this number will decline as the swelling in my feet lessens over time.

Finally, my high heels game is taking a hit here.  But who doesn’t want to wear sandals or Sperry’s in this awesome weather, anyway?  Bring it on!  #ItMakesSenseIfYouHaveDiabetes

Greater Love Has No One Than This

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.           John 15:13

Every day that we wake up as free individuals is because a Veteran/Service Member sacrificed for that freedom.  Some make the ultimate sacrifice.  Please pray for and reflect on them during Memorial Day, and every day.

New Friends on the #doc Playground

I truly enjoyed my first DBlog Week and want to again thank Karen Graffeo for organizing this for us.  One of my favorite aspects of DBlog Week was discovering blogs that I may not have been aware of prior to this week.  This seems to be the resounding theme from many of the blogs I have perused over the past seven days.  All of the reading material presented was a wonderful representation of our diverse diabetic online community, and I will always remember my inaugural DBlog Week for impressing me with the #doc spirit yet again.

I could probably shout out 100 or more posts that I loved.  Alas, my blood sugar is inconveniently crying out for food, so I am going to highlight two blogs which were new and intriguing to me this week.

In particular, I am happy to have found the blog of Frank over at type1writes.com, as well as the blog of Tamsin at type1diabeater.com.  Both Frank and Tamsin displayed contagious enthusiasm for DBlog Week, and I am so happy that our virtual paths crossed!

Thanks to all in the #doc for an enjoyable experience!  I am already looking forward to the next DBlog Week! 🙂

Favorites and Forgiving Diabetes

My favorite post is one that mostly flew under the radar:  24. P.S. I forgive you.

This post describes how I chose to forgive diabetes for the bad and to reflect on the good I have received during my 24th “diaversary.”  While it was not my most popular post of all time, it openly represents my emotions on a day that is always bittersweet.

Stephen’s short yet powerful comment on this blog post meant a lot to me, as did another I received via Facebook from the mother of a diabetic child who thanked me for writing the things that her son could not yet articulate at a young age.  Those little moments make blogging so worth it.  We can use our words to connect with and encourage others who face similar obstacles each day.  #DOC in a nutshell!

If Diabetes Were A Cinnamon Cure

 

I’m a big fan of Katy’s wit and attitude in Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes, so I wanted to stay true to her suggestion for today’s food-related theme for DBlog Week.  Alas, I am embarrassed to say that I am on the “grad school diet,” a fad that I do not endorse for full health benefits.  It amounts to guzzling coffee at all hours of the day, eating handfuls of peanuts in the car while driving to and from work/school, and scarfing down frozen dinners at 10:00 pm.  Ahh!!

Therefore, I’m playing the Diabetes Personified wild card today, but I’ll keep it food-related! 

One more disclaimer: As a former college English major, I must admit that my take on this exercise does not 100% meet the definition of personification.  Cinnamon “cures” are not people, but they do affect people’s attitudes.  So, please play along with the diabetes-cinnamon analogy here.  Mostly, I just really freakin’ wanted to write this!

If diabetes were to take the form of a cinnamon “cure” concoction that actually worked in a non-spammer world, would I pour it in my coffee and watch the Dexcom CGM line even out with each sip?

Would it fade that scar on my right lower back?  The one where the needle didn’t quite stick in all the way- so the nurse had to fiddle around with it until she could secure it with medical tape?  When she quietly asked if she was hurting me as I fidgeted under her grasp, would I still mutter “It only hurts a little bit” through clenched teeth?  Would my doctor still look on and pretend to believe me, mostly for the sake of my stubborn pride?

Would all of the needles and sleepless nights get swept away in a sea of cinnamon?

Would we inhale it like Afrezza, or tell Uncle Brad to “Pass the cinnamon, please” at Thanksgiving dinner?

Would we keep calm and bolus on?  Or would we keep calm and cinnamon?

If diabetes were a cinnamon cure, would insurance still want Prior Approval?  Would we be limited to one dab of cinnamon per month instead of the five that we might require to live healthy lives?  Would paperwork swallow us whole?

Would some people not have access to cinnamon?  Would we advocate long and hard for them?

What would the spammers say when the cinnamon cure suddenly worked for diabetes as advertised, its years of falsehood erased by a magic wand in the sky?  Would the spammers tap the Staples “That was easy!” button in unison?  Would they move on to the next groups- the cancer and the cystic fibrosis heroes?  Would they diminish the battles that these human beings face each day by promoting a “cure” so ludicrous that society rationalizes its way out of the burden of easing their pain?

“It’s your fault. You didn’t eat the cinnamon.”  And just like that the moral compass gets readjusted!

Would Wilford Brimley still say diabeetus?  Would he order a very light, extra cinnamon coffee at the drive-thru before breaking out in a dance?  Because of course he still has two functioning legs. He didn’t lose them like your grandma’s best friend’s tabby cat’s brother’s cousin did because he “failed” to “control” an autoimmune disease that doesn’t like to follow orders.  He was cured by cinnamon.  You heard it here first!

Would the #doc become the #coc- the Cinnamon Online Community?  Would we have weekly #CSMA chats?  Cinnamon Social Media Advocacy, it’s what all the cured kids are doing!

What happens to a cinnamon cure deferred?  Does its powdery dust make an audible “poof” as it dissipates?

#IWishPeopleKnewThatCinnamon is silly, mon! (Said in best Jamaican accent)

Cinnamon pleases the taste buds, not the islet cells.  If diabetes were as simple as a cinnamon cure, we wouldn’t enjoy all of the hidden blessings that we have grown to love through the complexity of managing this disease as best we can. It’s just not the same having a Kerri / Cinnamon, a Cinnamon Unconference, a @CinnamonCherise, a #dayofcinnamon Symplur hash tag, or a Cinnamon Hands Foundation- to name a few.  The real life diabetes versions of these people, organizations, and events bring far more goodness to the world than cinnamon ever will. Perhaps our virtual paths would not have crossed if silly cinnamon cures actually worked.  #Coc just doesn’t have the same ring to it as #doc, unless your mind is in the gutter!

Occasionally I sprinkle cinnamon in my coffee mug.  Then I check myself in the mirror.  It doesn’t hurt anymore, but the scar is still there on my back, a reminder of a disease that cannot be remedied by simple measures like cinnamon, a visible testament to the care I receive from others despite the pain, part of what gives us perspective and gratitude for the good days.

The needles are still required.  There will be more tears, more laughter, and more perspective gained along the way.  A sprinkle of cinnamon cannot make up for the other ingredients which have shaped our lives.  Wacky cinnamon cure theories do not do justice to the crosses we have carried.

There are no Nutrition Facts on the packaging that is life with diabetes along for the ride- not the other way around.  When we come together as a community, things are sweet enough to enjoy this #doc life for what it is without the artificial flavoring of ridiculous cure remedies.

For now, I’ll take one large coffee.  Very light, no sugar.  Hold the cinnamon, please.

Diabetes Campfire Stories

“Back in my day, we used pork-sourced insulin when I was diagnosed!” I may one day proclaim to my future grandchildren.

At this point in time, there will be a cure for diabetes and they will laugh off my fireside tales of the struggles of the past, oblivious to the hardships that generations before them have faced. Honestly, that’s how it should be if we aim to improve the world during our brief time here.

So many changes have occurred in diabetes treatments since my diagnosis just before my third birthday in the early 1990s. And I have not endured half of what rockstars like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor have lived through regarding diabetes management processes! Change does not have to be a comparison battle, rather it should grant a clear perspective of just how blessed we are today despite a conniving autoimmune condition.

Almost one year ago I began using the Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor) in the hopes of alleviating anxiety surrounding my diabetes. From the first day, I was absolutely floored by this product. Sure, it is technology and it is not the same as a properly-functioning pancreas. I have to carefully prep my insertion sites to avoid blistering rashes. And I am still waiting on my winning lottery ticket so that I can make my first purchase: a fulltime nurse who will check my blood sugar at night and will perform Dexcom insertions on me so that I do not have to do the one-handed pretzel move to get a sensor in my lower back.

Despite these minor issues, Dexcom is, in my humble opinion, the best quality product on the diabetes market. Due to many diabetes hurdles this year, I cannot boast of an A1C that drastically improved while on Dexcom, but I can say that my mental anguish regarding diabetes has lessened substantially thanks to Dexcom’s accurate readings. That, my friends, is half the battle. I still fear overnight lows, but I am much more confident that I will wake up thanks to Dexcom rattling and alarming from an empty coffee mug on my nightstand. I owe my life to Dexcom, as do many others. In the past, we all had to make do with what we had, and plenty of us survived prior to CGMs. But Dexcom is an added safeguard that makes life less complicated. It is the sort of change that is easy to embrace.

The Dexcom Facebook group was my true introduction to the diabetic online community. For the most part, this group is wonderfully supportive and non-judgmental- a place where we can all feel at home. We are able to share our scary moments and our triumphs with an audience who “gets it.” As I ventured off into the blogosphere, I fostered genuine friendships with others in the community, but I will always have Dexcom to thank for being the springboard to finding some of my largest supporters in fighting diabetes.

In grade school my mother used to drive to the auditorium to check my blood sugar every day at lunch. These were the infamous NPH and R days, and lunchtime was primetime for lows. My mother recalls seeing me file into the cafeteria with the rest of my class looking white as a ghost; she does not know how I had enough energy to even walk on some occasions when my blood sugar hovered in the 30s and 40s. There was no Dexcom back then to alert my teacher to the rapid decline.

On the playground in fourth grade, Michelle spoke the unfiltered truth. “I’m sorry that I didn’t invite you to my sleepover for my birthday. You could come if you weren’t diabetic, but my Mom doesn’t know how to take care of your diabetes so you can’t sleep over.”

In fairness to Michelle’s Mom, after twenty-four years of diabetes, I’m still trying to crack its code. I give her credit for recognizing that this disease is much more serious than an herbal cure remedy. Perhaps she could have coached her child on her delivery of the bad news a little more, but we can’t always have it all.

When I see the parents of children using Dexcom CGM post in the Facebook group about little Joey or Susie attending the first big sleepover of the school year, it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Those kids put up with enough pokes and prods, fingersticks and pump site rotations, Dexcom insertions and limited cake consumption that they warrant having some fun with their friends every once in a while. They deserve to stay up all night eating popcorn and watching movies, forgetting that diabetes exists while Mom and Dad rest comfortably at home watching the steady line of the Nightscout Project’s Pebble watch display or the Dexcom Share apps.

Enjoy that good type of change. Remember the freedom that this product affords us, even on the days where the calibrations seem a bit off. After all, we are dealing with type one diabetes; diabetes’ “calibrations” to everyday life are rarely on the mark. Innovative products like Dexcom CGM allow us to live life in the moment, to have an additional security blanket onboard, to do things that diabetics in the past may not have been able to do.

To the parents of the kids going to the sleepovers where Dexcom gets the invite, too: Your kids will thank you for allowing them to just be kids one day when they are old enough to realize the sacrifices that you made for them. One day we will all sit with our respective families around the campfire and talk about that first sleepover as a diabetic, the first time fast-acting insulin was introduced, and so on, until we can finally talk about the first big meal after the cure.

Keep up the good work.