Thursday, July 30, 2015

Low Blood Sugars, A No Hitter and the Michigan Move

For those who weren't aware, I just made a move from Indiana back to Southeast Michigan.

It's been an adventure packing everything up for the move, which just happened this past week. And I wrote about some of that fun over at DiabetesMine the other day.

Photo made by me, so I'm posting it here. Since it's my Moving Day, D-Stuff, and Dog.

When Moving Day arrived, I had my trusty Dexcom G4 connected along with my data-sharing CGM in the Cloud setup. You know, to keep tabs on where my blood sugars were at during this move between states.

As is typically the case, the low blood sugars came at the most inconvenient time.

The first was just as we were getting on the road for the 5+ hour drive (more like 7, thanks to the 20' moving truck slowing things down).

Everything looked fine as we were leaving the house, as my G4 happily told me that I was part of the 100 Club with a 100 mg/dL at that moment. Like, the move was meant to be!

We were all good to go, and my moving truck cab was well-stocked in case of any diabetes emergencies -- with my Dexcom at my side, Nightscout on my wrist and sharing data to my wife's watch in the car behind me, plus a cracker pack and Gluco-Lift tabs in the cleverly-marketed t:slim tin. Also, had a cooler with my insulin supply and some juice. Not to mention some other goodies, all with the vacuum and flatscreen TV occupying the passenger seat next to me.

I was ready.

Of course, within 10 minutes as we left the neighborhood, that's when I started going Low... Figures.

It was nearly dinner-time, so before hopping on the interstate, we decided to stop for some fast-food chicken and wait the Hypo and Rebound Effect out for a bit... not to mention the early rush hour traffic.

I am happy to also point out that after treating my Low before the drive, I didn't rise above 180... a small diabetes victory sprinkled throughout all of this! Woot!!

Suzi was driving in the vehicle behind my truck, with our Riley Dog. The drive was uneventful, both generally and relating to diabetes. Made a couple stops to rest, fuel up, and let the Riley Dog just get out and burn off some dog energy.

We stayed the night at the half-way mark, then finished off the move early the next morning and made it to the new house in more than enough time to start moving everything inside.

And again, Dexcom began vibrating that a Low was setting in.

This time, I swear could feel the low symptoms. But a fingerstick told me I wasn't actually Low, and I realized that I actually wasn't Low but had set my low alert to 90 for that afternoon just to make sure to catch any impending lows. It worked, and all was good!

After all the big boxes and heavy work where done for the day, I re-set my low alert back to about 70 and it made for a better BG trend for that entire day.

Our move went well, and we love the new house in Michigan!

Magically, I was impressed that the new fridge actually has TWO butter compartments -- as if, it's designed for someone with diabetes to have one compartment completely for insulin, and another actually for butter or dairy. Outstanding!!!


I've insisted that we need to label them, one that says "Insulin" and the other that says "Dairy." I'm told we won't be doing that, but since I work from home...


That first day, after the move-in, I was pretty impressed with how I'd managed to achieve a Michigan No-Hitter (something our Detroit Tigers haven't been able to do in far too long, btw...) Looks like moving agreed with my blood sugars!

As it turned out, I had conservatively reserved a 20-foot truck and it was too small to fit everything we were moving. The movers said: "Two more feet and we could've gotten everything in there!" So, we had a small portion left in the garage to transport, and so I rented a cargo van a couple days later and made a quick trip back to Indy myself. I couldn't get the truck until Noon, and had it through the next day at that time, so half my trip was pretty much at night.

The drive was 5 hours each way, and I was at the old house for less than an hour moving in the grill, lawnmower, outdoor tools, and other items.

Blood sugars were fine, and thanks to Nightscout, I was sharing all the data with Suzi while en route.

This was a sunset captured along the interstate, on the final drive from Indy to Michigan.

At the halfway point, roughly around midnight, Dexcom started vibrating that I was going Low. And before I knew it, we entered into the below 70 threshold. And I could feel this one, making me panic in the darkened night behind the wheel of a cargo van full of stuff.

Gluco-Lift in my pocket, but I had only grabbed a two-tab pack and that certainly wasn't enough. And I had nothing else with me to treat.

An emergency stop was needed at the nearest gas station -- and I wanted a well-lit, trusty station not a mom-and-pop place out in the middle of nowhere that was probably already closed at that hour.

It took me longer than expected, but after about 10 minutes I came across a well-lit set of stations at a major exit and made my stop. Orange juice, extra coffee, Combos to snack on.

And as I sat in the gas station parking lot in the cargo van, I could sense the gas station attendant watching me, wondering why I was still sitting there after five and ten minutes of coming inside.

It made me uncomfortable, especially since it was about 12:30 a.m.

Texted with Suzi, who was turning in for the night. Reassured her that all was OK, that I was treating my low and had enough on hand to tackle any more of those, and that I was going to wait until I hit the 100+ mark to get back on the interstate.

Two hours later: I was home, and my blood sugar was in the 300s. But I didn't care, because I was physically and mentally tired from all the moving and mental somersaults and just wanted to sleep.

So, I corrected and went to bed in my new house, ready to wake up a few hours later and continue with the unpacking along with working in my new home office.

I'm excited to be back in Michigan, eleven years after we left for Indiana.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trapped in a TV Show

A friend posted a question online the other day that got me thinking.

Certainly not a new question, as it's been going around online for years.

My answer: Well, it depends...

Mostly, on the rules.

Just how exactly am I going to be trapped in TV? Will this be like the movie Pleasantville, where I'm basically tossed into an existing story line but am really myself (except everyone seems to think I'm a particular character)? Maybe Quantum Leap, where I basically "leap" into other people's bodies and am confined to that reality and whatever limitations they may have (if they are a minority, or in a wheelchair, or a man or woman -- that's me for the time I'm in there)?

Or is it like Back to the Future, where I'm just plopped into some point and am just living my life as myself, except in the context of whatever show and time period we happen to be in.

These are important considerations in deciding on the show, I think. Because really, am I going to be a character or myself in that particular show? And if it's the latter, will I still be pancreatically-challenged and be living my TV character life with the additional adventure of managing diabetes?

Or do I suddenly just become a sugar normal?

The whole point about time is important, too.

While it may be fun to be transported into the world of the Brady Bunch for a month, I'd be putting myself into the late 60s and early 70s, a time when the "diabetes dark ages" was still playing out and there wasn't modern D-tech like blood meters, insulin pumps, and CGMs.

Sure, it'd be an adventure living in the world of Hell on Wheels, but then again that would be in the 1800s before insulin was discovered... so yeah, I probably wouldn't last a month.

Boardwalk Empire could be cool, but insulin was just making it on the scene, and so I'd probably be in the same boat because I wouldn't have access to this life-sustaining medication. Or I'd get knocked off by a gangster, since they were all over the place and I'd probably be in search of a good Prohibition-era beer to drink.

And that brings up an even more important big-picture rule question: What happens if I die before the month's up -- do I suddenly get pulled back to my own reality, or is my character just killed off and the show's cancelled?

That also helps me decide if other high-danger shows would be the best fit. Certainly, I wouldn't want to be on The Walking Dead, because I'd be the first to get zombified -- not even factoring in the "need to find insulin in an apocalyptic world" aspect. The same goes for Game of Thrones which is set in the medieval times, and with all the death and torture going on there, it'd be a bad month.

Probably best not to explore those kind of shows.

I really did love Burn Notice, but really I'd be a horrible spy and the danger factor is just too high even for that (assuming I'm either in that spy-group or just in danger by association). Smallville would also be interesting, and I'd certainly like to think I'd be safe by association to Clark Kent, but my luck I'd end up getting paired up with a meteor-freak or put in the crosshairs of some Lex Luthor scheme.

Maybe I'd be best to be in the world of How I Met Your Mother (before the ending episodes), which is basically this day and age and fun. A normal show, without much drama or danger... just good times, good friends, and so on.

Then again, thinking about all of this, I think my life is better than any TV show. I just need to learn to hit pause to cherish the episode a bit more at times, and maybe watch a few re-runs as I'm writing the screenplay for my future.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Boston Experience

So, the big diabetes conference of the year with all kinds of science and tech talk and just "diabetes research" as a mantra has now come and gone.

I'm in Detroit following the ADA's Scientific Sessions, and have to admit my time in Boston was quite a bit of fun on top of all the interesting diabetes stuff being covered in an official ccapacity.

Here are some of the photos (I don't take many pictures in the moment, sadly), and captured some of what I experienced in Boston.

There Was Coffee (see also: Duh)

Lots of Walking (and Low Blood Sugars, Consequently)

Actually, that was a photo of the Walking Challenge app on the 2nd full day. I walked the equivalent of something like 36,000 steps or miles upon miles, and so my feet and legs are still recovering.

Yes, I wore my Dexcom G4 and had it hooked up to Nightscout for CGM in the Cloud.

But of course, my G4 sensor died and the only backup in my case got ripped off thanks to a fast-moving, unnoticed hotel wall corner that appeared out of nowhere and accosted me). But thanks so much to a good D-peep who had an extra on hand, and was willing to help me out. Thanks, Chris Angell!

Loved visiting the Joslin Diabetes Center for the first time ever.

Actually, I was in a rush to get there that day for a "Beyond Carb Counting" event, and as you might guess, I went Low and needed to inhale some fast-acting glucose tabs while listening to presentations about carb counting. Diabetes irony at its best!

Diabetes at Fenway Park (thanks to Dexcom, which held a fundraising event there)

You can't see the screen in this pic, but look below to get beyond the bright white light...

Thanks to Briley for snapping this photo!

Word is (from what I read on Kerri's blog, that there were Collector's Cards too, but I didn't know that. And I did enjoy a Fenway Frank while there. #LikeYouDo

There was other Boston fare, of course -- seafood, shrimp and New England Clam "Chowda" (see also: Mmmmm)

Yes, and Boston microbrew:

Diabetes History (the Year I was Born):

Diabetes History (Year I was Diagnosed)

The 80s were a Big Time in Diabetes:

Just a few friends from the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) I got to hang out with, although there were so many more and pictures just weren't taken of all those great times.

Thanks for a great time, #2015ADA and Boston!

Monday, June 1, 2015

On The Road: Blood Sugars, Starbucks, and E-85 Fuel

These past several months have seen a lot more travel up to Michigan as we have been planning our move back to the state. Since we both have older cars, I've turned to renting some cars to save mileage.

Rental cars influence my D-travel world in small ways:
  • making sure I have the insulin pump site and CGM sensor connected in places that don't get nudged by the stranger seatbelts
  • making sure the devices themselves are accessible
  • ensuring there's a spot on the door or console to put my G4 receiver for easy-viewing-and-access; or even an extra cupholder allowing for both my coffee and D-device.
  • ID'ing an additional easy-access spot for glucose tabs and a granola bar/cracker-pack in case of Lows while driving.
My meter case is usually within reach on the passenger seat or in my nearby briefcase or bag, so there's no need to do anything different as far as my meter's concerned.

Of course, any of these drives pretty much involve some key "need to know" points for me no matter what type of vehicle I'm driving -- gas stations, coffee spots, and locales that have Wi-Fi in case I need to tune in online and get some work done while traveling.

Usually, I plot out my blood sugar checks before I leave and for these every-few hour stops. I tend to follow the same routes, and so I've come to know where the best places are to find a Starbucks that I can either drive-through or go inside, a gas station and even some free WiFi like a Panera or Hot Spot to fire up the work laptop.

My CGM is usually with me on these drives, and so I've got the continuous stream of data flowing to the receiver that is nearby and visible -- especially when I'm wearing my Pebble Watch that has CGM in the Cloud capability, and can just keep tabs by looking at my wrist on the steering wheel.

For some of these recent drives, I've managed to snag a car that needs E-85 fuel and so that's thrown a monkey wrench into my plans. These E-85 gas stations aren't all over the place, and they can be tough to find. It requires a lot more advanced planning, and I've been using an E-85 locator app or this handy site while on the road to know where the nearest fuel station is at selling this type. Unfortunately, even when I find one with that hallmark yellow pump handle, a lot of times it's out-of-order or completely empty -- have even found some of the fuel stations aren't even operating anymore.

This has made it tough to plan ahead, and as a result I've been changing up the driving routine and not stopping as consistently as I was at other locations for Starbucks, fuel, and WiFi -- meaning, it's messed with my D-management while on the road.

Thanks for the image, Google.
Seriously, if my blood sugar testing was as reliable as these E-85 locations are, I'd be screwed in knowing where my BGs are at on the road. Hell, if my insulin was dependent on the access to E-85, I'd be dead.

At least that Starbucks logo can be found on many highway signs, even they're a lot easier to find than E-85 stations that actually have fuel on tap... (although, to be honest: the Starbucks app and my Google Map sometimes lead me to non-existent coffee spots or ones that are annoyingly housed in grocery stores). But, still. Hellava lot easier to find, pretty much anywhere.

I'm just glad I don't rely on these E-85 stops to test my BGs or know where things stand. At least I'd know that if my D-management while driving was as consistent as Starbucks, I'd never stop testing because they're everywhere along the way.

OK, now that I read this whole post from the start, I realize something: There's no particular point. Except that I'm not a fan of E-85 requiring cars, and that I want to avoid renting these in the future as much as possible.

Maybe I'll just leave it with "Test, Don't Guess... Unless you're waiting for an E-85 station to fill up, and in that case you'd better Guess or just pull over to the side of the road and check, because who the hell knows when you'll have another chance."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Food Choices, Play By Play: (Day 5 of DBlogWeek 2015)

Mmmm, food.

That's the topic of Day 5 of this Diabetes Blog Week 2015.
Taking a cue from Adam Brown's recent post, write a post documenting what you eat in a day! Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever. Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.
(Thank you, Katy of  Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes for this topic.)
We have been trying to eat healthier and tone down our carb intake, a combination of overall interest in just losing weight and being healthy but also for me to navigate blood sugar swings that so often accompany carb-saturated meals. I've been inspired by D-peeps sharing more of their stories, and it's been a slow process putting this into practice... one mostly hindered by my lack of willpower. But, that's a work in progress and we do our best each day.

As this morning began, I realized two things:

1. I hadn't prepared a post for today, and
2. No clue what I was going to eat throughout the day.
3. We hadn't gone grocery shopping since returning home earlier this week, after several days away.

So, that pretty much meant I would take it as it came at me, doing a sort of play-by-play on food as the meal goes by. This is a normal Friday workday at the home office, with scattered phone calls and nothing overly pressing that will draw my attention. So, the food shouldn't be too tough to navigate.

I'll update this throughout the day with the latest food.

Breakfast (5:30a):

  • Dannon Light&Fit Greek Yogurt, my last blueberry flavored one. 8g of carb.
  • A small handful of dried cranberries mixed into my yogurt, equalling about half of one-third a cup. So, probably 15g
  • Black coffee, nothing polluting it. (my 2nd cup, and many more to follow)
Thought about a brown cage egg or two, but there were none in the fridge. Plus the pan normally used for eggs is dirty and I just didn't care to wash it just for an egg or two.

Post-breakfast Update (8:40a):

Damn it. Part of the whole reason I did "good" at breakfast was to not have too many carbs and raise my BG... but then I forgot to bolus for my yogurt and cranberries. So much for a flat line after breakfast... Figures.

And I'm hungry again. Great.

Oh Screw it, a 2nd breakfast, it is... (9a):

Luna protein bar, chocolate PB flavor. 19g of carb. And more coffee.


An hour or 90 minutes until lunch... yep, this Low isn't going to work for me. Juicebox time! 24g of applejuice through a straw.

And a small handful of PB trail mix with M&Ms. Because. +10g of carbs (I'm guessing.)
No bolusing.

Lunch (1:30p):

Salad on the Go from Panera Bread (my wife rocks for picking this up on her lunch hour!)

  • Cobb Salad with Avocado, Half Order with Greek dressing. 7g
  • Baguette: I had planned for an apple, but this bread appeared in the box and it's here now, calling to me... so what the hell. After that earlier Low blood sugar pre-lunch, I'm eating it. 36g
Total carbs: 43g

Unfortunately, I'm out of Diet Coke. So, a bottle of water it is.

Dinner (8p):

So, breaking news not only delayed dinner, but it nixed the plan for either Taco Night or the contender B'Dubs for some beer and wings. Instead, fast-food snuck its way into the house...

No clue what the carb count is on this, and I don't care enough to look it up online. So, I'm going with a Scientific Wild Ass Guess (SWAG) and going with 80g for the turlkey bacon ranch wrap, a pair of potato cakes, and a chocolate turnover.

Plus, a Michigan-made Founder's All Day IPA to help me welcome in the Friday evening.


And that, is my Friday Food Play By Play.

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Others are sharing some food for thought (pun, served!) today, so make sure to check out their posts and also keep tabs on the #DBlogWeek hashtag on Twitter.