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.