Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coffee and Diabetes Conversation in Indy

A small group of us in the Indy area got together recently for an Adult Diabetes Meetup.

About 8 of us came out, including my good friend Cherise Shockley who also lives nearby in the Indy area. We had some great conversation, ranging from the crazy winter weather, jobs, our dogs, health insurance adventures, insulin pumps v. injections, the wonders of CGMs and of course some other random points during the course of two hours.

Of course, the big question we analyzed: "What is a Hoosier?"

This is a question that apparently has no rock-solid answer, and in the decade I've been living in Indy there's been no consensus. I remember a local museum exhibit years ago exploring that, without anything be settled.

As always, no matter what we were talking about, it was good conversation. And there was plenty of coffee to go around!

Here's a photo of the group, which sadly doesn't include Cherise as she had to scoot before this was taken. It also doesn't show the awesome husband of one of our friends, who agreed to snap the photo of us.

Oh, and this candid shot that Jeff snapped while we were chatting it up...

It's actually pretty amazing that it's now been almost 4 years that these local D-meetups have been happening.

What started out with a push by the JDRF Indiana chapter to extend its outreach to more of the adult D-community, quickly branched off on its own and left all organizational ties at the door. We know have an email list of about 65 local D-peeps, plus a private Facebook group with about 35 people.

These are all very informal without any agenda or designated topic (although we did try that once a year or so ago, without much success.) There's been coffee shops during the week and weekend, brunches, dinners and after-dinner drinks, to bowling alleys where we had the largest turnout of about two dozen people.

Anyhow, this past meetup was a great time and I can't wait for the next one... which happens to fall on March 8, just two days before my 30th diaversary!

Yes, it's time again for the annual Beta Cell Bash that should bring a good number of us in the D-Community together. Remember this one, founded 10 years ago by local Indy PWD Michael Schwab? Well, as it turns out, this year is actually Mike's 40th diaversary and so we're hoping to have a sort of "dual-diaversary" celebration in conjunction with the event. Fourteen bands will play covers by Johnny Cash at Radio Radio beginning at 8 PM. Simultaneously a silent auction of artwork by 25+ local and nationally known artists will take place across the street at the New Day Meadery.

As it has been in past years, this one should be a blast!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Goodbye to Gibbs Corleone, My Don of Rage Bolusing

New diabetes tech is always exciting!

A clear Minimed Revel 723 (without CGM!)

Ah, the box opening... FUN!

Out with the old 722, in with the new 723... (sorry, my out-of-warranty friend.)

There's now a new D-Device Love Triangle...

Yet, there is sadness as someone is always left behind and looking in from the outside.

Yes, I see you there, my out-of-warranty friend, all by yourself and peering from behind the new trio.

My dear insulin pump Gibbs Corleone, the ole Don of Rage Bolusing.

You will be missed, but not forotten. You've been a trusted and reliable companion for the past few years. You were the latest in a line of insulin pumps, and followed loyally in the footsteps of your predecessors Bacon Gibbs and Tony P "Scarface" before him. And even though you were past your prime, you continued your job without complaint. Even when I started flirting with others this past year and considered proposing to that younger touchscreen model...

In the end, I decided to stay in the family and have now married your younger sister.

And so, Insulin Pump Don: I wish you well in your trade-in experiences and whatever comes next once you return to the distribution and D-Device testing facilities.

Now, on to the next priorities. Like coming with a name for my clear new Revel 723...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This Isn't The Zombie Apocalypse, But...

It's 2014, and there's no zombie apocalypse playing out in the real world like it is on hit shows like The Walking Dead.

The world as we know it hasn't ended, chaos hasn't ensued, and death isn't necessarily right around the corner. At least, not for most of us in developed countries.

But for some diabetic children in parts of the world, it's more like an apocalyptic society than we may realize. Life is grim, uncertain and anything but pleasant, and death is right around the corner.

No, there's no flesh-eating zombies chasing after them. But they're facing the likelihood of death just the
same, because their access to life-sustaining insulin is as challenging or impossible as it might be during a zombie apocalypse.

For them, it's a "No Insulin Apocalypse" that is pretty much the same as it would be if there were zombies roaming the earth.

Source: Pinterest.
Now, hear me out for a minute: I don't mean to make light of this, comparing something as serious as a lack of insulin to a sci-fi storyline that may never come to pass. No, quite the opposite. Just think about it for a moment...

What would a diabetic's life and insulin access be like during an apocalypse, zombies or otherwise?

That's horrifying, to think that if our first world came crashing down and insulin access suddenly dried up, it'd be very challenging if not impossible to get it. That we could wake up each and every day not knowing if we'd have access to the medicine that keeps us alive, and we might be on the brink of death as a result. And it enrages me to know that kids are living like this now, just as uncertain and likely to die as they might be during an apocalypse.

We're talking roughly 70,000 kids and youth with type 1 diabetes who don't have access to insulin as they should. This is so not right, especially since it's been more than 90 years since insulin was first discovered. 

Believe me, you don't want to think about what it's like being without insulin for any extended period of time. I've had high blood sugars in the 400s or 500s, feeling miserably sluggish and moody and like I've come down with a case of the flu. Where nothing can quench my un-ending thirst or need to pee, and it eventually leads to nausea and puking. If that hyperglycemia lasts long enough without any insulin to bring you down, there'd be weight loss and more unhealthy side effects that make life unbearably unpleasant - you're basically like the walking dead, before getting to the point where your body can't take it anymore and death arrives. 

Again, being 2014, it's an outrage.

We all can do something about this, though, and make insulin access in places like Haiti, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Philippines, and the Congo. not mirror how it would be during an end-of-the-world apocalypse movie.

Valentine's Day is here, and I'm proud to be supporting the Spare a Rose, Save a Child initiative to help get insulin into the hands of those children who need it. The Diabetes Online Community (DOC).

Those in the D-Community (especially the online universe) know about this grassroots initiative pretty well... but to those who don't, here's the scoop: 

The idea that emerged is simple: instead of buying the typical “dozen roses” that are so popular on
Valentine’s Day, you buy just 11 and donate the value of that last flower to help a child with diabetes. You still get to be romantic and give your loved one roses, while you both show some love to someone who really needs it.

One rose ( or a $5 donation) equates to a month of life for a child, and a dozen roses costing $60 is a whole year of life.

The money goes to the International Diabetes Federation’s Life For A Child program, which processes contributions and sends them to established centers helping children and youth with diabetes in developing countries. For just $1 a day, the IDF can supply these kids with regular insulin, glucose monitors and test strips, and D-education to help them take care of themselves.

Totally worth cause and it's really that easy.

So, I'm doing what I can to help out.

Sure, that means talking this grassroots initiative up online, but also offline in my own local D-Community community. That includes getting my local ADA and JDRF chapters involved and helping to spread the word, as well as the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana that I'm proud to be involved with. On top of that, just getting flyers and information to the local media and to flower shops around Central Indiana has been something I've been doing, too.

And of course, letting my family and friends know about #SpareARose and even pitching it to my beloved Sigma Pi Fraternity, in the hopes that the college guys could use this as a quick philanthropic effort that could be tied in with any of the sororities on campus. The more awareness about Spare a Rose, the better!

As of Wednesday evening when I'm finishing up this post, word from IDF is that there's about $15,000 that has been raised so far during this 2014 campaign. Doing the math, that equates to about 3,000 kids who have gotten a month of life that they normally might not have. 

This makes me smile beyond belief, especially knowing that we're not even to Valentine's Day yet and that's probably the biggest flower-buying day of this whole campaign period.

I've just marked my 35th birthday and this is my third decade of living with type 1, and I recognize how lucky I am to have access to insulin every day to stay alive. There's no reason that a diagnosis should be a death sentence for kids anywhere in this world, just like it was back before the mid-1920s before insulin became readily available to diabetics.

No, this isn't the zombie apocalypse. And so, no kid anywhere in this world should be exposed to that apocalyptic-kind of healthcare and access to insulin.

Every dollar helps prevent this "No Insulin Apocalypse" for kids. That way, they can live on and not feel like it's an inevitable reality that death (or flesh-eating zombie attacks) is going to happen no matter what.

Help save a life, like I am. Why? Because we can.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Feel That Burn

There's nothing like the burning sensation on the right sight of your abdomen during a bolus of insulin to signal that it's time to change your infusion set after a few days.

And then the burning sensation you feel on the other side of your abdomen during a bolus, to tell you the site you just put a new infusion set on is no good.

Even better when this all goes down in the course of 20 minutes.

As you are walking out the door trying to make your way to a coffee shop, to tell a local insulin pump rep why you're not interested in their device but prefer the one you're wearing.

You do have a sense of humor, diabetes. I'll give you that. And no, I doubt this is what Jane Fonda had in mind when it came to feeling the burn.

But hey, you know what they say: No Pain, No Gain.

A small price to pay for the privilege of using an insulin pump.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Birthdays, Beer and Boluses

"Where would you like to go to dinner?"

The inquiry came from my wife, tossed in my direction non-nonchalantly a few days before that Friday evening we were planning for. Her question seemed innocent enough, but really it was just disguised as one that could've been asked any night of the week. This time, there was a lot more pressure tied to the answer.

You see this was no ordinary dinner. It was my birthday dinner, on Feb. 1. My 35th, to be exact.

OK, maybe that's all a little dramatic. Really, there was no pressure and we weren't hard-pressed to decide where we wanted to eat. Thirty-five isn't 16, or 21, or 30, or 40, or... you get the point.

We actually were planning for Friday night (Jan. 31) rather than my birthday on Saturday, because we had planned to be spending the day and dinner hours with our friends. Their youngest daughter was turning 3 and that was the day they'd chosen for her birthday party. A three-year-old unwrapping gifts, slopping cake all around and just smiling and experiencing new things in life is just more fun all around. So, we planned to go out the night before.

The only requirement was that there be some interesting beer choices, so we opted to venture to a local tavern we hadn't been to before so I could enjoy some local Indiana craft beers.

My two beer choices: a thicker beer known as the Indiana City Shadow Boxer Oatmeal Stout, and also a Bell's Hoppslam Ale Double IPA that came in at the high alcohol content of 10.0%.

You can see how much I enjoyed that beer, from the photo to the right over there... (next to the nice Remember When card from my in-laws).

(Random 1979 Trivia: Sony introduced the Walkman with a price tag of $200 the year I was born. Oh, and bacon cost $1.30 per pound that year compared to $5.50 nowadays!)

Hey, and while we're talking numbers...

Apparently, birthday boluses were lining up in my favor during this celebratory time in 2014. I'm actually very proud that, along a steak dinner with some sweeter wine sauce on it, the beers and food were relatively easy to bolus for and I spiked briefly to about 250 that night. Totally bolus-worthy!

The next night, on my birthday, the 3-year-old's birthday party ended up being cancelled because her mom got sick, so we ended up going out to dinner by ourselves again. This time, it was a local burger joint and some Indiana microbrews were again in my sight.

That night there were two on my tap-list:

 Followed by an after-dinner "dessert" drink...

Both were great and I'd highly recommend them again. And yes, just like the night before, my dosing seemed like it was right on the money.

For both nights, my blood sugars were pretty spot on and steady except for the post-dinner spikes that didn't go over 250 mg/dL. The Dexcom G4 kept me in the steady 100s most of the time, and I only rose up higher when failing to count my carbs correctly. And that's all on me, but I'm totally fine with it. The fact that I knew the reasons for those Highs is comforting in itself.

OK, now imagine the BEST birthday cake you could ever get if your name was Mike and you were a beer lover? It might look something like this...

(Source: Customised Cakes By Jen blog)

No, that's not the cake I got. Actually, I Googled "birthday cake" and "beer" and "35th birthday" and that image appeared, looking all delicious. Apparently, a girl named Jen in New Jersey designed that cake and posted a blog about it a couple years back. No idea who this woman is or whether her "Customised Cakes By Jen" still exists, but I couldn't pass up the chance to post a pic and plug her cake-creativity!

But short of that beer-themed 35th birthday cake, what I got was just as good in my little corner booth of the world.

At our fun dinner experience on Friday night, we got two dessert choices. Since we decided to split one piece of cheesecake and bring the other home, that became my wonderful piece of birthday cheescake (complete with chocolate sprinkles, caramel topping, and a perfect chill from the fridge by the time we got home). Of course, we didn't have any cake candles in the house... so we made due with a tea light!

Yes, I'm sure my bolus of 50g for that cheesecake was off... as the mid-200s proved later in the evening. But again, totally worth it.

Oh, and the gift. Nothing big, just a special "you so understand me" gift from Suzi. We saw this little sign in the aisles of Target a few weeks earlier while doing some grocery shopping, and it spoke to me. Even Tweeted it to some DOC friends, I recall. Anyhow, now I've got it hanging up in my home office where I can see it every day. After some obligatory poses near my massive coffee mug, the sign got to its home on the wall. Now, the little Coffee Understands sign is hanging on my home office wall underneath the "Java Dreams" picture featuring Elvis, Marilyn, James Dean and Bogey. Perfect companion pieces, if I do say so myself.

Simple truth, that sign is.

Other than that, we had a non-eventful night at home on Super Bowl Sunday and watched the game and commercials. That followed, of course, a full day of enjoying the Walking Dead marathon (#Zombie Bowl) on AMC. Being a big fan of this show, I'm quite excited about the mid-season premiere coming up on Feb. 9 -- and really I've just biding my time until that moment arrives.

We had no stock in the football game and couldn't help but laugh at how it played out (no spoilers here, sports fans), and while there were some good commercials, we didn't feel they weren't as memorable as years' past. Yes, we liked the Cheerios, Coca-Cola, Budweiser Puppy Love and Radio Shack 80s commercials, along with the Doritos time machine ad. But being from Detroit originally, we're biased and really enjoyed the Bob Dylan commercial more than most (but not more than the Clint Eastwood and Eminen commercials of Super Bowl past).

Oh, and besides my birthday gift, the Riley Dog did get a gift of her own in honor of the Super Bowl...

Anyhow, that was the 35th birthday weekend. Thanks for reading, all.

Now, go get a drink (coffee or beer, your choice)!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Diabetes Coffee Art 2014

With 2014 marking the 5th Diabetes Art Day, created by my friend Lee Ann Thill who lives in New Jersey and has been living with type 1 since the late 70s. I'm a huge fan of this, even though I'm someone who isn't artistic by any stretch of the imagination but enjoys tapping into my emotions about how diabetes makes me feel.

That's what D-Art Day is all about -- art therapy, something Lee Ann is passionate about and inspires this community to take part in year after year. Taking inspiration from my header up there on The D-Corner Booth itself, I made a sketch about how I sometimes feel when it comes to living with type 1. If diabetes life were a cup of coffee, this may be what it would look like in sketch-form:

See that test strip there, floating around?

Yep. That's me, just trying to stay afloat and not sink in the never-ending cup of diabetes coffee. With a little help from the Diabetes Online Community (#DOC) when needed, of course!

Another D-reality: Test strips appear everywhere in the strangest of places...

(For the record: There once was an actual test strip that somehow found its way into my coffee mug on my desk, when I had an office job. No photo staging for that original strip-in-mug, and I'm just glad I looked down at my java before taking a sip... I've since recreated that image a few times, including in my current blog header above.)

So that is my D-Art Day creation for 2014. Go ahead, make something up yourself -- no artistic talent required and just create from the heart.