Explaining diabetes..

Often times people will ask me what exactly diabetes is.

What is type one, or type two, and is their grandma’s type four the worst kind?

When I was younger it annoyed me. I would think, hello, have you not heard of the internet? Look it up. Then as I grew up and matured quite a bit I realized that when the questions seem off the wall, random, or even rude, they are still questions. It is my opportunity to spread fact, break the myths, and educate someone.

I would normally give a very basic, run of the mill, maybe even text book type answer. Leave it as cut and dry as possible. The truth is that diabetes is not cut and dry. There are a lot of components, factors, layers, that go into it. I won’t break all of them down for you at this very moment but I will say that for me it is like battling the same monster, with the same weapons, on different terrain with different kinds of weather every single day. No breaks! No tap outs! Just you and the beast face to face and though you survive it sometimes you get beat down here and there, and sometimes you beat it down and leave it crying in a corner..those days are the best obviously. The point is that everyday is different even if the monster is the same. That’s what I explain to people. I give them the textbook definitions and then I tell them what it’s like for me.

Most people don’t understand the tedious lifestyle that we as diabetics live. I like to add in that even though we have to do this it isn’t the end. We fight and move forward. Own it or be owned. Sounds cheesy but it’s the truth. Anyway, this is all a set up for the fact that over and over my daughter has heard me explain what diabetes is. How it affects my life and even hers. She asks questions and I am always happy to answer them. I don’t want her to be afraid/ashamed/awkward about this. Thankfully she isn’t. In fact she is very understanding and loving when it comes to my disease.

When I check my sugar she’ll ask me what the number is and then shout out to her dad if it is “good” or “bad” which I think is hilarious. If it’s lower than 160 but higher than 70 she’ll shout out that I’m all good. When it’s very low or very high she will acknowledge that situation and act accordingly. She knows that when my numbers are high to bring me my insulin bag. If I am low she’ll offer me one of her juices. All of this makes me so darn proud of her.

Another thing I am proud of is her very own explanation of diabetes…

She says, “Mommy, you know you have little people in your blood sugar!? When your sugar is high it’s because little people are climbing up and up and when your sugar is low it’s because they keep climbing down and down.”

She’s five and though the thought of little people in my blood is creepy she came up with this analogy all on her own. I wondered what/how this would affect her one day. I realize that I don’t have to worry about it anymore. She is so smart. So when people ask me about my diabetes my little spokesperson will put a hand up as if to say, I got this, and will then proceed to explain to them what it is I am going through and how I have to do this or that.

It’s very sweet. :)

So these days I don’t shy away from educating someone.

And when I am not feeling up to it I have someone ready and willing to do it for me. :)

June-#Dsma Blog Carnival.

Regardless of which type of diabetes you have you probably use one or more diabetes devices on a daily basis.   For this post, when we refer to devices we mean blood glucose meters, insulin pens or pumps, and all other diabetes medications.  This month we’re going to revisit the May 15th chat on Diabetes Devices and really think about what we use. 

We’d like to know:

  • How do you select the diabetes devices you use? To others looking into new or replacement devices, what would be your best advice to someone shopping around? 

To answer the questions I’d say that in choosing my devices I look for affordability, first and foremost, it would be nice to have every gadget out there on the market but for some that is just not a reasonable option. I am in that category. So I shop around for products that will do the job I need it to do and not cost me an arm and a leg. I will have to admit I also look for convenience, I already have to carry mountains of crap with me, if you have children you might understand, so the last thing I need is more junk to bring along for a simple trip to the grocery store…

For those looking for options/replacements I’d say get what you feel comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be flashy, though I like cute stuff too, it serves a purpose and that is the most important thing to remember. Check out the accuracy, take it for a test drive, and make sure it is doing what it needs to do for you. This includes, pens, insulin and syringes, pumps, meters…all of it. Make sure it is going to work for you.

Here’s what I use to survive…

For the longest time I was using the “old school” method of insulin and syringes. Then one day, a few years back, I discovered the awesomeness of an insulin pen. It’s the same concept, you have to manually inject the insulin into your body, the difference is that it is all loaded into one quick an easy device.

Welcome to the 21st Century

 

The convenience of these made life so much easier. All I had to carry with me was my glucose meter, which we will discuss shortly, and the little caps that click right on top..think of them as mini syringes. Simple. I could just dial up the units I needed and then discretely inject and be on my way. I loved them! The only issue I had with this was that insurance couldn’t cover the cost of them for very long. I couldn’t afford them out of pocket so back to insulin and syringes for me. Which isn’t bad. I mean it isn’t too troublesome. These days I’m not so shy about taking my shots in public either so that helps. The pens were just so nice to throw in my purse with a handful of the caps and just go, go, go..

As a diabetic, and if a pump is not for you, I would highly recommend insulin pens.

As far as a glucose meter is concerned. I have had a few. Currently I am using a Reli-On Prime. You can find these at your local Walmart. The best feature of this device is how incredibly cheap the strips are. You can get 50 testing strips for $ 9.00 and to me that is a bargain. I have heard some say that the accuracy is a bit off, however, I have tested mine against the other glucose meters I have and the points have not been off by very much. At least not for me. I think it depends on the product itself. Some things are going to work when you buy them and others are not.

I personally really like this meter.

My favorite meter!

My favorite meter!

Side Note: Can I just say that I really wish diabetes was a little bit cheaper. There was a time where every single diabetic thing I needed came from out of pocket funds. (Sometimes that’s still the case) The insulin vials, the syringes, the meter and strips, the doctors visits. It is all so costly. Maybe more people would be inclined to manage their health/diabetes if it was more affordable. I understand that not everything can be 5 cents..I think that’s from the medlife commercial..but it would help a lot if it were just a little more attainable. Just thought I’d throw that out there..

Anyway. I like this meter. It comes in a gorgeous fire engine red, or brilliant blue, and like I said the strips are very affordable. I have seen a lot of high end devices but at the end of the day as long as I can test my sugar with a fair amount of accuracy and get that insulin into me then I am all set.

Which devices do you use?

Did you enjoy my scattered review? :)

“This post is my June entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2013/june-dsma-blog-carnival-3/

Driving with diabetes..Pt 2

So my last post discussed my fear of driving again. I’d mentioned that I haven’t been behind the wheel for quite some time and had recently decided to venture out of my comfort zone…If you’d like to read all about it you can find it over here.

At the end of my venting I noted that I didn’t think I’d be driving ever again..

Well, Tuesday changed that whole mind frame. Early in the morning my husband was making breakfast for everyone when I heard a loud crash downstairs. I came rushing down to see what was the matter and he had hurt his back, severely, he was wincing in pain and couldn’t even breathe. I suppose he had been lifting something heavy and turned the wrong way and the next thing he knew something popped in his back. Anyway, long story short, he needed someone to take him to the emergency room. As I looked around at my five year old, wondering if she’d be able to reach the pedals, my husband was staring right at me. I knew it had to be me but I wasn’t happy about it.

It was raining and dark out and I was nervous.

With how much pain my husband was in, and the fact that he actually called off work, meant he needed to be seen. So we piled in the car and took off. Surprisingly I did very well. I shook off the fear and went for it. I drove him to the emergency room, to Walmart to get his prescription filled and out to his moms house to pick up a few things. The whole time just building more and more confidence. Before I knew it my husband was silent and I was just doing my thing. It felt great. I mean I was worried about him but I felt amazing being able to drive and get stuff done.

He said I was great! Of course he had a few notes for me to work on, because even in pain he is on top of everything, but overall the driving part of that day was a success. So, maybe I will be driving again. You’d be surprised at how quickly you adapt when you are thrown into a very stressful situation. My sugar was sky high by the time the day was over and then dropped over night but I didn’t let that affect me or affect the confidence I had just built up. Also, it helped reaching out to the DOC. You all gave me so much love and support that I could have exploded.

All the positive thoughts sent my way really enabled me to keep on trucking.

I’m happy to announce that I am back behind the wheel with diabetes by my side.

Own it or be owned, am I right? :)

Side Note: My husband is doing fine as of right now. He had a pull/tear in his lower back and has been on medication to help him out. Still working though so I know it isn’t too bad. Thank you all for the concern. 

Driving while diabetic.

For the last seven years of being with my husband I haven’t needed to drive.

He has been more than willing to assume that responsibility and that hasn’t bothered me much. I have never felt less independent with him being the main driver, and he has never seemed bothered by this dynamic either. I used to drive, a lot, actually. Before diabetes, before children in the back seat, and with out a care in the world. I drove, with or with out a license, a real rebel. Then something in me became afraid. That confident spark went out. Maybe it was after diagnosis, maybe it was after having my daughter, but something made me step back and make the conscious decision to not drive. It didn’t help that when I met my husband he raced around in a 1977 Corvette and then every other car after that was a manual, something I had not been interested in learning to drive, so it didn’t matter if I wanted to be behind the wheel or not.

Side note: This all boils down to the fact that for most of my “diabetic life” I have not driven. So I have not had to worry about checking my sugar before operating a big, hulking piece of machinery.

After years of being the passenger I became content with this situation. Then I noticed that our schedules were only getting busier and busier and I really needed to get over whatever it was stopping me and start driving again. So recently my husband started letting me take the car out and run errands with our daughter.

The experience had been pleasant, not one hiccup, nothing.

Until the other day..

I had spoken with other driving diabetics who all said they made sure to check their blood sugars before operating a vehicle. Made sense, I mean if you’re too high or too low your reaction time is going to be off. Thankfully I haven’t been running very high these days but the lows have been more than I’d like. I checked before taking off and though I was on the low side I popped a few glucose tablets and the family and I were on our way. Then halfway through I started to feel shaky, dizzy, and very overwhelmed. I nearly ran a red light, and more importantly I took a turn that nearly sent us flying into another vehicle. Instead of pushing on the brake I slammed my foot into the gas and then had to instantly correct. I frantically pulled over to the side and cried. When I checked my sugar at home I was in the 50’s. It was the number one most scariest moment in my life. I had my five year old in the car, my husband next to me..we could have been hurt. Others could have been hurt..

I’m tearing up as I type this. I have been driving off and on here for months now with everything going smoothly and then this happens. Now, I don’t know if I ever want to drive again. That low, I felt, came out of left field. What if it happens again? I have gone over the whole thing in my head, over and over and over again. My sugar was 60, I had eaten dinner, I checked again and I was in the 100’s. Popped a glucose tablet. The next thing I know my sugar is in the 50’s? My husband assures me it wasn’t my fault, stuff like this happens and though he was concerned something like this might take place one day he was proud of me for reacting correctly. I, on the other hand, am not so proud of myself.

That fear is back and I don’t know if it’ll ever go away this time.

Wordless Wednesday-ish.

My diabetic life through meters…

This was my very first meter. I didn't like it very much.

This was my very first meter.

Side noteThose test strips have expired and I was sort of bummed finding them. I hate wasting money.

Speaking of hate…I hated this meter!

When I was first diagnosed I had no idea what sort of equipment was out there for diabetics. I used it because I had to but carrying it around was such a chore and I often “forgot” it at home. I know, not the best idea. I was younger and very concerned with what others thought. Thankfully that is something I have outgrown now. These days I’ll check my sugar right in the middle of a baseball game and inject my insulin right there too.  

Pictured here is my second meter and then the purple one is my "on the go" meter.

Here is the second meter I ever owned. The purple one is my “on the go” one.

Side note: The test strips for the above meter came wrapped in a foil casing and that was so stinking annoying!

I have had type one diabetes for close to eight years now and one day I just up and bought a different meter. I guess I figured why not. When I think back I really bought it because I thought maybe it would get me more “excited” about diabetes. Ha. You know, if I had a new gadget maybe then I’d have more of an incentive to check my blood sugar. The little purple thing on top was a more travel friendly meter and I liked it a lot. I ended up just using that one the majority of the time.

Recently I started getting bored with both of these so my husband found this one…

My favorite meter!

My favorite and newest meter!

This is the first meter I can say, with honesty, that I absolutely love! It’s not that boring, standard-looking meter, it’s bright red and the case that holds everything is smaller despite the meters actual size. It seems silly to me, someone who has always tried to hide their diabetes, someone who hasn’t cared much about the gadgets, someone who has done the bare minimum to live with this disease, to be excited about this..but I am. I’ve written before about pushing my diabetic needs to the side and how at the beginning of the year I really started to focus on my health and being the absolute “best diabetic” I can be and I can say that I have been feeling/doing so much better. What helped was that moment I decided to stop hiding and stop caring what other people thought. Once I let all of that negativity go my world just opened up dramatically.

I’m not saying I don’t have my off days where I feel frustrated but if buying a new meter gets me excited then I’m going for it. If going for a walk everyday makes me feel good then I’m doing it. I’m all about a better, happier me.

I don’t, by any means, think that I have a lot of meters either.

I know a few people with way more! :)

Side note: This was for Wordless Wednesday but I obviously like to chat. :)

Random Ramblings…

It's Monday, folks!! :)

It’s Monday, folks!! :)

This past weekend has been a very busy one.

I’ve loved every second of it.

Friday I wrote about my frustrations with diabetes and all the crazy high numbers I had been dealing with here and there. I’m not sure why I expect my blood sugar to ever stay “normal” when diabetes is such a fickle little thing. A few of my twitter friends had some very kind words of encouragement though and that helped ease my mind a bit. After sulking for a few minutes that day I decided to just let it go. To throw my hands up and just go with it.

That helped because the rest of the weekend was close to perfect.

Saturday there was a huge neighborhood “garage sale” type thing. I gathered up a few things the night before to try to sell and ended up with a decent chunk of change. My daughter and another little girl sold lemonade, which was a huge success, and more importantly my blood sugar stayed in check. I was slightly amazed. There was one spike after indulging in a refreshing glass of lemonade but it was for a good cause. :)

I spent an entire nine hours running around that day. Helping my brother in law and his girlfriend keep an eye on things. Selling this trinket and that one. We had lunch there and I opted for a burger without the bun and some fruit. Sugar stayed around the 130’s. I felt like a champion. Later that night my husband and I made french bread pizzas and then I was able to enjoy a delicious s’more when my blood sugar got to be around 60. Not a bad way to end a very long day!

Sunday I did even better with my numbers, at least I thought so. I did a bolus for every meal/snack yesterday and the numbers all looked great. Until I woke up this morning in the 200’s. I didn’t fret this time around though. I know the cause was our impromptu movie night out and that delicious movie theater popcorn.

Today I am spending the day doing some chores around the house and hopefully getting a little workout in. It’s been since Wednesday! Terrible. My Monday is going to be fairly quiet though, so no complaints here, going to enjoy it.

Side note: I wanted to share a few random things..

1. My JDRF Walk to Cure is the second week of October and already I have raised my donation goal! I’m actually fifteen dollars over and I hope to continue my fundraising. I’m all about going above and beyond especially since this is something that not only affects my life but friends/family of mine as well.

Very exciting stuff.

2. Lastly, and this is just some nerd fact, I calculated out how many times, roughly, I have checked my sugar and given myself injections. (Poked myself with a syringe) Here’s what I came up with–I have pricked a finger to check my blood sugar about 19,000 times. Think about that. For some of my diabetic friends who have been doing this longer than I have it’s even more. But I have made myself bleed from my fingertips 19,000 times. Crazy! I have injected insulin, with a syringe, over 16,000 times. These numbers are insane to me. I mean, I have to do it, I don’t have a choice, but wow! I’m shocked that I don’t look like a piece of Swiss cheese by now. The time span is from the end of 2005 to now.

(Keep in mind that these are rough guesstimates)

I just thought this was sort of interesting and wanted to share.

Do you know how many times you’ve poked your fingers?

Or stabbed yourself with a syringe?

(I hate saying stabbed, by the way, I need to find a better term)

If you can, or even want to, try figuring it out!