Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Clarity (of the Plastic Persuasian)

A pair of new plastic holsters for my insulin pump just arrived by brown truck.

I've been wearing my MiniMed 723 Revel since March, and I took a risk and changed up my color choice for the first time in years. Going clear, instead of charcoal. Sadly, Medtronic didn't yet have one of these beloved holsters that same color so I had to stick with the old one I'd been using.

They told me the clear ones were on the way, and I've been anxiously waiting. In the meantime, my clear pump and charcoal holster have been horribly mismatched.

Until now.

Finally, the time's come. Two new holsters arrived earlier this week.

And now I'm happy. And see things much more clearly.

I'm pumping with clarity, you might say.

And they better compliment my black-to-black Dexcom G4 CGM and belt case, too.

Wait... I use the MedT pump and a Dexcom G4 CGM?! Yep, sure do. That's how I roll.

And now, I can do it with a little more clear plastic style on my waist.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When Trees Have High Glucose Levels...

Diabetes is everywhere.

Even on my vacation to Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

We escaped from work and regular life here in Indiana for about 10 days recently, heading up across the mighty Mackinac Bridge to a place I had never been. While we stayed mostly on the eastern side of the UP and settled in Michigan's first city known as Sault Ste Marie (the Soo), we also ventured into the central UP to experience the magic of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior and other places around there.

One of the most breath-taking experiences you can find in this part of the country, aside from just the incredible history and soul-enriching water that is everywhere, is getting a glimpse of the changing colors of the Fall Foliage. The trees and the changing colors of the leaves are just... awesome.

Fall is beautiful in many places throughout the country, and I haven't personally been to places on the East Coast or more West of Michigan and Indiana to see for myself how they compare. But in my post-college years of working the state and local environmental beat for a local newspaper, I've heard many people "in the know" about those kind of things (read: tree experts and nature-observers) say Michigan's got most beat. Why's that? Simply, because of the changing temps and all the water of the fresh water from the Great Lakes that surround the state and effect the seasonal changes and trees more than most.

The trees "explode in a frenzy of color," as some describe it, like Tim Allen in this Pure Michigan ad

#PureMichigan, indeed.

But, why do the leaves change?

That's a question that I thought I knew, but realized during our trip it all goes back to long-forgotten and jumbled bits of info from 9th grade science class. And that fun little process known as photosynthesis. My memory has just enough in there to know it's all about plants and oxygen, and that all plays into why leaves change colors when the temps change outside.

But what I had forgotten (assuming I learned it at all) from back in the day was that glucose is a part of that leaf color-changing process. And yes, with diabetes more on my mind these days (hello, sometimes it feels like my whole world!), you get where my brain took that next.

"No kidding, the trees have high blood sugars and that's why the leaves change!" I may have blurted out as we drove through the UP, in response to Suzi rattling off that info she found online.

At that exact moment, I was behind the wheel and she was in the passenger seat, Googling the question "Why do leaves change colors?" thanks to a stray data connection we managed to find on that drive in the middle of the UP.

"Diabetes is everywhere... I just can't escape it!" may have been what came from my mouth next.
I could feel her eyes rolling from the passenger seat.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Restless Sleeping

I love sleep.

Even if I don't get enough of it by my own doing, closing my eyes and letting my mind drift off into dreamland is a good feeling.

But lately, my sleep has been a little restless.

Not in the way where my mind's working endlessly and reluctant to calm down, but rather my body has a mind of its own. I come to bed, but can't sleep because my foot is itching or even a little painful. Same with my leg, and I sometimes need to wiggle it or even let out a sort of kick to tide it over. These past number of days, that's been happening with my arms.

Of course, this all frustrates Suzi and prompts her to tell me to "Stop Wiggling" next to her.

I'm afraid that neuropathy and diabetes complications are weaving their way back into my sleep routine, and causing me to fidget and not sleep. And inevitably, I find myself thinking it's just easier to go sleep in the other room or on the couch.

This has been off and off for more than a decade now. I remember the most severe and life-impacting time was in 2005, just about the time we walked down the aisle. At that point, there were shooting pains and a constant ache in my toes, feet and legs.

That was neuropathy.

And it's what ultimately led me to going online in search of "real stories," not the textbook warnings and advice from medical professionals who were just saying "do better and keep your blood sugars under control." No, I wanted to find those people who were also living with diabetes, and telling me real stories about how to deal with these foot pains in real life -- when you're sleeping next to your loved one, or how to sit at your desk at work and not get too distracted by the pain. Or when you have to stand up and walk around every few minutes as a result.

That's what I was looking for, and search engines eventually connected me with Kerri, Scott Johnson, and George; and others like Amy, Christel and Scott Strumello who were telling real stories and even keeping an eye on diabetes issues and not just pumping out (HA!) press releases and medical lingo that wasn't real.

Through those people and an expanding online universe that's now the DOC, I found support that I didn't even know I needed.

No, it wasn't about finding a new medication to take. Or what my A1C should be, and how to get it there. Or hearing about special socks that could help circulation, or putting my feet up with specialized pillows to help ease the pain.

That wasn't and isn't the point of the DOC, as most of us see it.

Instead, it was about hearing the "me too." Hearing the "Yes, it does suck, but it's going to be OK." And we're here, no matter what hour and without any office visit or co-pay needed. Just go to any blog, or on Twitter, or whatever channel works. And we won't judge you."

The DOC made me not feel alone, and through that I found something that no doctor or medical professional had been able to give me before -- hope. and a desire to do better.

It helped me deal with that neuropathy, because the online community brought a sense of support that I'd been missing because no one had really let me explore that psychosocial aspect of diabetes before. That helped motivate me to do better, to pay more attention to my own diabetes, and get back on the bandwagon of taking care of myself.

Of course, I also went on medication to help ease the symptoms. Getting back into better BG management was the best move, and it helped me say goodbye to that most painful neuropathy at the time. And it hasn't come back to that extent, even to this day. All of that was with the help of my doctors, but it wasn't because of them. It was because of the DOC, and that's what led me to doing better.

That is where I find myself these days.

I am restless, and my sleep is off. There is a pain in my feet, legs and now arms. And it's a bit different, not as painful, but different because times have changed and I'm a different person, a different diabetic, and in a different place than I was in 2005. And "the DOC" is different too -- certainly not in the theme of connecting and helping people feel not-so-alone, but in that there's so many people out there and it can feel... large and impersonal, sometimes.

But that's where finding those stories that mean something to you matters most, and it's what this DOC thrive. Because there are so many voices out there, that probably means you can find whatever you might need, and hopefully it helps you get to a place you need and want to be.

Whether it's neuoropathy or mental health or blood sugar checks, or whatever.

Plugging back into the DOC may not be answer anymore for me, but it could be a start. The rest? We'll just have to see how it plays out. I'm just glad to know I'm not in this by myself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Pump Sighting While Buying a Belt

It was Labor Day, and we were at the local outlet mall to buy a few items.

Hey, I needed a new belt. Or two, since I actually needed both a black and brown one for my casual and more dressy outfits. So there we were, doing some holiday shopping.

On the way to the checkout counter, I glanced at my G4 receiver. It was an hour or so after dinner, and my blood sugar was shooting upwards toward 200 and beyond. All because I'd been blurry-eyed, grumpy Low and decided not to bolus for my dinner right away. And then, I had forgotten.

And so, it was time to bolus up.

So as we walked toward the register where we'd pay for my 2 new belts, I unholstered my Medtronic 723 pump from my belt and pushed the arrow for the overdue dinner bolus.

As a result of my distraction, Suzi took the lead at the register to pay while I finished off the bolusing. And just as I holstered my pump and felt the insulin going into my body, I heard these words come at me:

"Are you a diabetic, too?!"

The cashier, a younger girl with blonde hair and glasses, asked me.

"I am!"

With that, she pulled a t:slim from underneath her shirt and proudly showed off her insulin pump that had been tucked away discretely and probably wouldn't have been noticeable had she not mentioned it or displayed it.

No, I didn't yell out #ShowMeYourPump... even though it did cross my mind. She may have no clue as to what it's all about, and the last thing I was interested in at that point was advocating or being all "in the know" as to diabetes community happenings.

Still, it was a very cool and totally random Pump Sighting in the Wild, and I'm glad she spoke up and said something. I did ask her how long she'd had the t:slim and how she liked it. Her response: About six months, and she loved it much better than the OmniPod she'd worn before that. And she said her endo was pretty excited about suggesting the Tandem device, which made me smile because I've heard how some endos do quite the opposite and push people to pumps that have had a longer life on the market.

That's all there was to it. We were done paying, and others were in line behind us waiting for Blonde Pumper and her colleague to turn attention their way. We thanked them, and moved on.

Yes, it would've been cool to chat some more and even see if she knew of any other local diabetics in the area. Or to even hand her a biz card or tell her about the Indy Adult D-Community. But I didn't, and we both went about our evenings.

No more required, but it at least brought a smile. And a sense that I wasn't alone in my local area, even in times when diabetes isn't something I'm waving around and brandishing on my sleeve.

This time around, I was glad to have gone Low, forgotten my dinner bolus, and felt the need to give myself a bolus while walking up to buy a belt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Almost Gone

Having insulin in the butter compartment (where else?) is like having a security blanket, something to keep me reassured that all will be OK if something goes wrong.

Say, if my insulin bottle is left in the direct sunlight, slips from my hand and shatters on the floor, or just happens to evaporate without my knowing. I'm reassured that there's more in the fridge.

Not at the moment.

Somehow, I forgot to call in a refill in late July. I noticed in early August, but somehow managed to forget
again to call in my refill. By the time I did last week, I was down to half a bottle.

I'm a little nervous, especially since there's been some wire-crossing between my endo and the pharmacy in restocking my supply -- no refills, so the endo has to sign and forward a new Rx, which hasn't happened despite my calls to his office and the pharmacy.

So, after a pump refill over the weekend, I am now down to probably about one more 300-unit amount (or a quarter of a vial). My sugars have been running higher these past several days and I have been correcting more and snacking more, and so it seems my insulin consumption has been even higher lately. And as I'm writing this post, my pump has started giving me the "Low Reservoir" vibration...

Better call the pharmacy to see if the script is filled yet...

I get that some people in the world have little to no access to insulin, and I've already sucked up my #FirstWorldProblem guilt and reconciled my guilty feelings with a donation to Life For a Child to help those who need it most. But in the context of where I live and how my world goes without having the entire global insulin delimma weighing on me, I feel exposed. It's like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff, and that any wrong move could put me over the edge, falling without a lifeline.

If my stock gets filled today, I am a little worried that I'll have to get more just before I head off to vacation out of state, and want to make sure I have enough insulin for that get-away to parts where a local pharmacy isn't right around the corner.

There's nothing at fault here other than my own ineptitude in ordering insulin and making sure I'm stocked up. It's just one more task in the never-ending roster of things to do, when it comes to life with diabetes.

Maybe I needed this lessson, to remember what it feels like to have that butter compartment unstocked -- at least for a bit.