Friday, October 30, 2009
Personally, I grew up not caring much about the candy component of Halloween. Sure, I liked the candy and wanted some just like all kids. Of course, I was told that I couldn't have much and would have to work it in or only have a few select pieces from my bag. Now, at age 30, I don't recall being traumatized by this or that it was all that big a deal - it may have been then, I just don't know). There was one house in particular down the street that was always better than anyone else, and gave out that one full-sized candy bar rather than the bite-sized versions typically given out. Had to make a stop there. Even with that, I wasn't like Garfield trying to convince my dog Odie to go with me simply so I could get more "candy candy candy!"
Really, candy doesn't make the holiday special. It's everything else. (Though, this year, for the first that I remember in many, we didn't get a pumpkin!).
More importantly than the candy, though, I recall the fun times of the holiday. The costumes. Being with friends. The pre-season pumpkin carving, party-going, hayrides, and haunted houses. That was more exciting and memorable.
I like to think that has continued into my adulthood, particularly now that I've reached my 30s. We don't yet have children to dress up and screen candy for, but many of our friends do and we always enjoy seeing the little munchkins come to our doors dressed up. So, we have to have the candy bowl stocked and ready to go near the doorway. This year, it's overflowing with suckers (the least expensive choice at the store and one we could easily indulge any leftovers). I may put on a hat or mask myself, just for the festivities of it all. My dad, who recently had eye surgery, is going with the pirate look - I can't swing that, but credit his creativity.
Halloween is about the horror, but not the diabetes-style... We all know the D-Horror stories associated with management and complications. That's not the type I'm up for when Halloween comes around. No, I'd rather be up for the classic flick types: Garfield's Halloween Adventure, It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; Night of the Living Dead and Return of the Living Dead and all the spawn; usually one of the Halloween movies playing throughout the night; and any other horror classics that might be showing. Gremlins could probably be added to the list to, as that's recently been a discussion topic in the Hoskins Household (we decided it could be either Christmas or Halloween).
On Friday night, we went to a work party at a great little place in downtown Franklin called The Willard, a historic hotel converted into a restaurant. They have great beer and great pizza, and it's an awesome setting to have fun with friends or co-workers. We went as Louis and Clark, a perfect costume for me as it requires no additional costuming or work - all I need to do is go as myself, wearing my glasses and work clothes with a Superman t-shirt underneath and a little Daily Planet press badge attached. Perfect.
Anyway, that's what we'll be doing on Halloween. Hope everyone has fun, candy or not!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
My Thursday morning experience illustrates this. Thankfully, it was not quite like Wednesday morning's adventure.
After a reaction the previous morning (as detailed above), I was ready for work and pleased that I hadn't sunken down into the Land of Lows and Reactions. A quick test before getting behind the wheel and venturing off to work kidnapped that excitement, though.
Blood sugar: 35. At first, I didn't believe the meter. Had to check the pump to make sure it wasn't lying. It wasn't.
I felt fine, but another test confirmed where I was at. Apparently, my threshold for low-sugar coherency is about 35 - the night before a 33 brought me to the reaction-stage while I seemed fully-functional at 36. Now this.
(Sidenote: Six Until Me writes Thursday afternoon that she experienced a 29 mg/dL without any symptoms - wow. Saved by her Dexcom beeping.)
Anyhow, with my morning dip to 35, my mind was somewhat clouded likely an effect of the low. But I was still thinking pretty clearly and knew exactly what was happening. I jumped into action at ninja-like speed... Actually, I moved that way only in my mind. The rest of me: stayed sitting in front of the computer.You see, I'm a D-blogger. A writer. A journalist. Someone who follows Facebook now just as closely as my many online newspapers and CNN and local news sites.... So, I had to get the message out. Though on the edge of coherency that any moment could mean not being fully-functional in my right mind, I couldn't quench that desire to stay connected. And to share...
Instead of rushing to get the trusty orange glucose tabs or something else to boost the blood sugars, I turned to Twitter. And Facebook. And I started thinking about the outline for this newest blog. Scribbling notes, updated with a couple Tweets. Someone asked if I'd yet become a member of TuDiabetes. Took five pictures of my pump and blood meter proclaiming "35" - both with my digital camera and the phone camera. I decided not to pose. A cold wave hit, and I began being distracted by the house temperature that seemed too low. Returned a few work-related emails. Wondered where the dog was at... Saw the cat, who eyed me suspiciously as she jumped to the windowsill to look outside and wish about escaping from my stupidity.
Returning briefly to the inevitable reality of the situation, I decided the low-bloog sugar probably needed more immediate action. I could feel my blood sugar dropping even lower, and I moved downstairs to the kitchen to avoid unexpectedly bottoming out.
No cereal, as the fridge alerted me we were out of milk and the little left in the gallon was out-of-date. No bagels. Used to have little apple juice boxes, but I greedly sucked them all down a few weeks ago. The Apple Cider from the night before somehow had been abducted, probably by the aliens who realized their plan to dominate my world had been foiled. Instead, I took refuse in 4 pieces of toast coated with peanut butter. And some trusted orange glucose tabs, though I resisted the urge to make a sandwich out of the ingredients.
20 minutes later: 66. (Ah ha, progress! I can feel the sugar rush.)
In all, it took about a half hour to get myself balanced out and into the vehicle for the drive to work. Kept the pump suspended for an hour or so. Hours later, after attending court arguments, a pre-lunch test revealed a 251 reading. (Figures)
There's several lessons here, but some more glaring than others. One is the question of should a diabetic experiencing a low immediately go for a sugar-boost, or a text and status update (or Vlog in Kerri's case at Six Until Me)?
I had already learned a lesson that when there's even a slightest chance you could be low, DON'T GET BEHIND THE WHEEL. Lesson learned in August 2009.
But specific to the ever-ongoing rollercoaster ride of daily diabetes management, here's what we may have learned: A.) My overnight/early morning basal rate(s) is too high; OR B.) by bed-time correction is too high. Time to explore that in the push for tighter control. Going on the mantra that three times makes a pattern, we nearly have a trend here. Hopefully we can learn the needed lessons from this, without a third time that I guarantee probably wouldn't be a charm. It would be a D-charm.
Still, no matter what's learned, there's always a place to share the experience online. Thanks for listening. And LOL. See you on Twitter or Facebook, or wherever this online community takes us.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Well, that's how Wednesday morning played out for me. I should've seen it coming.
Backstory: Tuesday was a dental adventure day for both Suzi and I. A cemented crown had escaped from its spot in my mouth I like it to call home, so I had gotten in to the dentist to have that put back in place. A torturous gum-poking followed before I was able to free myself. Meanwhile, Suzi had a few crowns put onto teeth that weren't adequately cared for under our previous dentist's reign. Needless to say, we both weren't up for chomping on steaks or burgers or much solid food for that matter.
As a result, my dinner consisted of a few saltine crackers. Thanks to a pump site mishap and disconnect for most of the day, my sugar skyrocketed to levels we don't discuss - that directly led to a lack of appetite, for which I decided not to eat the great waffles my wife had made anyhow. So, they went into a baggie in the fridge.
The sugar fell as the evening progressed, and some intense house cleaning offered a tad more exercise than I'm typically used to in the later evening hours. Some late-night units balanced the sugar out, but it led me to wonder about something as I climbed into bed and snuggled in for the soon-to-be-slumber: "You know, I hope my blood sugar doesn't plummet tonight because there's no protein in my system. Oh well, I'll wake up and scarf a couple glucose tabs if I feel myself getting low and it'll be OK."
Uh-huh. Right.... (Enter head-shaking laugh here.) After 25 years of living with the D, I should know better, but once again the slumber-craved portion of my mind took over.
Fast forward to Wednesday, before 6 a.m. - the envisioned plummeting blood sugar came true, along with an added bonus: a face-slapping reaction. Snuck right up on me, even though I'd seen it coming.
The memory is foggy, but some highlights I recall:
- The dog was nearby, but this time she wasn't trying to eat my head (as has happened before). She tried to jump on the bed to help out, but to no avail.
- Suzi was there like a trooper, and this time managed to not summon the paramedics to our house (as has happened before).
- Alien Apple cider, being kept in a radioactive container: As Wednesday is the day our trusted trash and recycling trucks come by, I'd decided to do-away with the plastic gallon jug that had once contained apple cider. With only a little left, I transfered the contents to a little plastic container and disposed of the jug with our recycling. At the time, I didn't realize my actions would induce a train of thought that the container was some sort of weird alien contraption keeping in the radioactive poison that was now being forced down my throat...)
- When the apple cider forcing didn't work as well as planned, the aliens decided to use a probing device to force a thicker version of the poison into me. It appeared to be honey, but I knew better. No trickery was going to happen on this guy... As it turns out, it was a straw. And honey. And Suzi isn't possessed or abducted.
- Sugars were in there 30s. Some probing-picking device kept stabbing my fingers, and the aliens appeared to be winning. One suggested "36" and seemed happy about it, then another came at me for another finger-prick - this convinced me that not only were they lowering my sugar and taking pleasure in it, but there was more than 1 alien and they all looked like Suzi.
- While fighting the alien (disguised as my lovely wife, Suzi), that hovered over me, I slugged her. In the shoulder. I recall dreaming that my punch straight to the mouth would save my dear wife, and catapult across the room and out the window the little green alien creature lurking underneath the costume. That didn't happen, fortunately for many reasons, among them being the newly-placed crowns she'd had done within the past 20 hours. She later thanked me for this not happening, though promised to punch back had it happened. (Diabetic Domestic Violence Support Groupers, we look forward to your membership brochure!)
- Being fully confident in the disillusions noted above, I refused to consume anything unsafe. Somehow, I recognized glucose tablets as being "safe." I was willing to eat those. They tasted like candy. Mmmm...
- The cider also tasted better. But not the honey.
Soon, the fog lifted. The cider became cider, the honey-in-a-straw became just that, and my wife was indeed my wife, not an alien in a costume. Actually, there may not have been any aliens at all. I glanced at the clock, it was after 6 a.m. Realization set in. I was cold. And tired. Embarrassed about what had happened, as always. But thankful the paramedics were saved a trip to the Hoskins Household (again). There was a conversation about something, but I don't recall what it was.
The dog was sitting near the bed, watching me with those brown eyes and restraining herself from jumping on the bed. Her tail was wagging, of course.
Next thing I knew, Suzi was off to work. I was still scrunched up in a fetal position under the covers - the dog was keeping my feet warm, though sensing the earlier tension and wanting to play and comfort her daddy. Got off to a late start and headed into work. Only realizing after a couple hours that my pump was still suspended and that's what the double-vibration beat at my beltline was signalling. So now, the sugar is higher than it should be - again. And I am navigating that path of a day's suffering thanks to an early-morning low. All appears normal by mid-afternoon.
Fortunately, we have chicken stir fry on tap for this evening. So at least my belly will be full, and there won't be a sequel to the Cider & Honey Poisoning Aliens episode from this morning. This time, I won't open that door and will instead take a tommy-machine gun to stop what's obviously on the other side.
Many lessons can be found in this and any other D-experience, but the priority lesson learned from this one is a lesson reiterated: Eat dinner. And the aliens aren't out to get us, even if they are trying to possess our spouses and poison our honey and apple cider.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
By CLAIRE SUDDATH Claire Suddath (Time)
Oct 20, 2009
Too much sugar will make you fat, but too much artificial sweetener will ... do what exactly? Kill you? Make you thinner? Or have absolutely no effect at all? This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration's decision to ban cyclamate, the first artificial sweetener prohibited in the U.S., and yet scientists still haven't reached a consensus about how safe (or harmful) artificial sweeteners may be. Shouldn't we have figured this out by now?
The first artificial sweetener, saccharin, was discovered in 1879 when Constantin Fahlberg, a Johns Hopkins University scientist working on coal-tar derivatives, noticed a substance on his hands and arms that tasted sweet. No one knows why Fahlberg decided to lick an unknown substance off his body, but it's a good thing he did. Despite an early attempt to ban the substance in 1911 - skeptical scientists said it was an "adulterant" that changed the makeup of food - saccharin grew in popularity, and was used to sweeten foods during sugar rationings in World Wars I and II. Though it is about 300 times sweeter than sugar and has zero calories, saccharin leaves an unpleasant metallic aftertaste. So when cyclamate came on the market in 1951, food and beverage companies jumped at the chance to sweeten their products with something that tasted more natural. By 1968, Americans were consuming more than 17 million pounds of the calorie-free substance a year in snack foods, canned fruit and soft drinks like Tab and Diet Pepsi.
But in the late 1960s, studies began linking cyclamate to cancer. One noted that chicken embryos injected with the chemical developed extreme deformities, leading scientists to wonder if unborn humans could be similarly damaged by their cola-drinking mothers. Another study linked the sweetener to malignant bladder tumors in rats. Because a 1958 congressional amendment required the FDA to ban any food additive shown to cause cancer in humans or animals, on Oct. 18, 1969, the government ordered cyclamate removed from all food products.
Saccharin became mired in controversy in 1977, when a study indicated that the substance might contribute to cancer in rats. An FDA move to ban the chemical failed, though products containing saccharin were required to carry warning labels. In 2000, the chemical was officially removed from the Federal Government's list of suspected carcinogens.
In 1981, the synthetic compound aspartame was approved for use, and it capitalized on saccharin's bad publicity by becoming the leading additive in diet colas. In 1995 and 1996, misinformation about aspartame that linked the chemical to everything from multiple sclerosis to Gulf War syndrome was widely disseminated on the Internet. While aspartame does adversely effect some people - including those who are unable to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine - it has been tested more than 200 times, and each test has confirmed that your Diet Coke is safe to drink. Nor have any health risks been detected in more than 100 clinical tests of sucralose, a chemically altered sugar molecule found in food, drinks, chewing gum and Splenda.
The fear-mongering and misinformation plaguing the faux-sweetener market seems to be rooted in a common misconception. No evidence indicates that sweeteners cause obesity; people with weight problems simply tend to eat more of it. While recent studies have suggested a possible link between artificial sweeteners and obesity, a direct link between additives and weight gain has yet to be found. The general consensus in the scientific community is that saccharin, aspartame and sucralose are harmless when consumed in moderation. And while cyclamate is still banned in the U.S., many other countries still allow it; it can even be found in the Canadian version of Sweet'n Low. Low-calorie additives won't make you thinner or curb your appetite. But they help unsweetened food taste better without harming you. And that's sweet enough.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
So is my latest... In doing a test at some point in the past week, the finger prick was a little more noticeable than it usually is. From memory of that particular test, the blood may have flowed a little more freely - but don't ask me to relay the test result, as I don't even recall what time of day this was or where the test took place. Anyhow, I didn't take much notice at the time.
Several days later, I noticed that I'd been experiencing a little pain in my right hand index finger. To the tune of feeling it during typing, and normal day activity - such as not being able to type as quickly or efficiently, and falling back to finger-clunking the keyboard. My ever-observant wife, in hearing my complaint about this nuisance, noticed that I had a bruised finger. It was discolored, she explained. We retraced what else might have happened in recent days to cause this, but narrowed it down to that defining moment of finger-pricking and determined it was a blood testing casualty. Possibly hit a nerve, or something along those lines.
I've never experienced this before, in my 25 years of diabetes management. You'd think it would be a somewhat common thing for a diabetic, but it hasn't presented itself in my life before now. Just goes to show that even Ninja Fingers can fall victim to the little delights of Daily Diabetes Care.
Anyhow, life goes on. I manage. Today, it resulted in my spending way too long in front of a mirror trying to do up the top button of my dress shirt for work. I had a legislative meeting, and was hoping to sport a new suit and matching tie - alas, I couldn't get the button done in the 10 minutes of trying, so opted to go tieless and just sport the jacket.
While I avoid that finger in testing now, this has presented a new little nuance that I've never thought about before. More of a nuisance than anything, but a lesson that any little surprise can happen when you're talking about diabetes.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
This isn't a reference to our new president. Not symbolic of the classic baseball season we've just endured. Nor is it an ode to the last year of the new century's first decade. Quite simply, it's the year I've celebrated my 25th Anniversary as a Type 1 diabetic.
(Applause from the audience.) Thank you, thank you...
This isn't new. I've written about it before - back in a January post. But it's worth noting again, maybe as a sort of followup.
My adventure with the D (not to be confused with my hometown of Detroit), began in 1984. I was 5 years old, the only child of a Type 1 who'd been diagnosed herself at the same young age. Her instant recognition and lifetime of dealing with diabetes helped during the diagnosis phase, and has stretched through the years without fail. She recently celebrated her 50th Anniversary, even more notable than my measly 25...)
(Standing ovation. Cheering. Whistling. Hooting.)
We both have initial signs of complications, but nothing hindering (it's still scary) and we have been blessed overall. Anyhow, to the point: my D-mom told me early in 2009 that there's cool special awards and medals for those who've reached these milestones. - Joslin and Lilly are two. You can apply, supply documentation or proof of your diagnosis, and wa-la - You're an Award-Winning Diabetic.
Of course, as daily life went on, I soon forgot about this. Until today, when reading a fellow D-blogger here. And an even funnier post he wrote on topic, here.
In reflecting on this, I've decided that there's no need for a special certificate, metal, plaque, or award. Knowing I'm here and blessed is an honor in itself, as is the ability to live on and manage my diabetes as best as possible. Really, in all of my 25 years of living with the D, and my overall 30 years, looking around and seeing where I am is the greatest award in itself. I thank Him for it all, as often as possible these days.
But specifically, I already won my award: my wife, Susanne, is my lifeline and the reason to do my best every day. While the D sometimes haunts our lives and throws unwanted monkey wrenches into great days, she co-exists incredibly and learns to live with "George" (a name that's apparently given to my pump, without my knowledge until very recently). Anyhow, Suz is my reward and I wear my badge of honor proudly.
That's not to say she doesn't deserve an award, though, for putting up with me. So, in a year that brought a 25-year-anniversary celebration and our 4th wedding anniversary (Sept. 24), I say thank you to her and look forward to many more anniversaries, no matter what they bring. (It's only 788,923,149 seconds - another 25 years - til the next one!) Regardless of how many there are, I welcome them. Just one is an award in itself, everytime.
(I'd like to thank the academy... the docs and endos, the dog, the cat.... ) You get the idea.
Ok. I don't have a fever and I'm not sick. Neither is my wife. But it's only October and the Regular Flu Season is just setting its eyes on us susceptible diabetics. Not to mention all the worry out there about the ever-looming Swine Flu... Plus, two of my co-workers are out sick today and several others I associate with for work are also down under the weather somewhere.
This comes about a week after the panic-stricken schools in Central Indiana sent as many kids home as possible, even those who weren't obviously sick, and thereby infected the rest of the human population outside the school walls. (Thanks, kiddies, thanks.)
So, the question arises: Do I need a flu shot this year? If so, am I going to get one?
It's a topic I mull each year, and typically reach the same conclusion (at least for a majority of years in the past decade): No. There isn't a need.
No, this isn't proven. It's simply my journalist-inspired skeptism of anything that claims to be good for you. Really, I'm taking the lead on this from Mel Gibson from the movie Conspiracy Theories, which also coincides with my fascination of anything Julia Roberts... But, I digress.
Back to the flu shot dilemma. I didn't get one last year, but did the year before. It's scattered before then, and mostly since turning 18 and the decision-making was left mostly up to me. In the college years, I went with the doc's recommendations and usually got them and only slacked a few times. But in the past five, since departing beloved Michigan and moving to Indianapolis, I haven't embraced consistency.
For one, the notion of injecting a virus, whether it be alive or dead, doesn't bode well in my mind. (Injections are the dead versions; the nasal spray versions apparently have live strains). Images of Aliens and all those zombie and Outbreak-type movies come to mind. Right, if I'm someone with a weaker-than-normal immune system and I'm trying to avoid getting sick, the first thing I want to do is inject a live and kicking virus into my blood and give it the means to grow.... Sure. Sounds great.
But practically, aside from the groundless fears and conspiracy theories, there's debate about all of this and the pros and cons of vaccinations in general. So I do wonder... In the years I haven't gotten the shots, I can't say I've been struck down because of any illness, let alone the flu. Those times I was sidelines because of illness can be attributed to diabetes (mis)management, dental nightmares, and other non-flu reasons. If there's no need, why bother? I'm sure my family doc and endo can sing the reasons, and that's not necessarily something to ignore. So, I may lean in the direction of getting one this year.
Of course, part of that decision comes as we navigate the Swine Flu Carnival Ride taking its toll throughout the nation. My wife tells me that two of her co-workers' family members have come down with it, and so it might be worthwhile to consider this. The research goes on. A root canal is coming early Wednesday, and so in prepping I am hopped up on antibiotics 4 times a day until gone - likely a week or so. The doc's office nurse hasn't yet returned my call asking about this wrinkle, and whether it should delay and flu shot receipt, but we'll see.
Hopefully, no illness will surface this season. Then again, if it does, I can always fall back on my movie quotes: "I've got a fever, and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL."
(Thanks for the healthy tip, Bruce Dickinson - it beats any shot, and the laughter may be a better remedy than anything else. With the help of Vitamin C, of course!)
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Frustrations are once again mounting, and impacting my management (not to mention my work, which has also been off). It would be really nice to have a break, or be able push diabetes to the back of the mind and forget about it for a while.
Regardless of the Pump v. Shots decision, it's clear this diabetic must muster the strength to get back on the ninja-like control. Laughing is a good start. That came Friday.