Things Diabetes has taught me…

Inspired by a post on Reddit…
What has Diabetes taught me?

Diabetes has taught me…

…to be really, really good with numbers.  Frequently the Hubs asks me “what’s x + y” and I laugh because who can’t do addition like that in their head???  And then I remember that he doesn’t have the ‘betes, therefore he doesn’t have an honorary math degree and he isn’t a bonehead and is actually really, really smart and I should probably stay married to him.  ;o)

…that shots are no big deal.  Seriously, why’d I freak so much as a kid?  If the nurse would let me, I’d give myself my yearly flu shot.  Followed by a lollypop, of course.

…to not compare myself to others.  I often get jealous of friends losing weight rather quickly and I get very frustrated that it takes me a month to lose 2 pounds.  Yet I can put that 2 pounds on just by looking at a cookie.  What gives?  It’s my own journey…must embrace it.

…to be more compassionate.  Diabetes sucks.  But it could be a hell of a lot worse.

…that sweating the small stuff is stupid.  I can’t control everything.  I can have duplicate numbers on different days, treat identically, and get different results.  It happens.  Treat and move on.  Life happens.  Deal with it and move on.

…that exercise is important.  Sitting on my butt all day at a desk job means I have to make the effort to exercise, and when I do, my numbers thank me.

…that food is important too.  I struggle a lot with this and wish that I would remember this more often in the heat of the moment when I’m faced with deciding between nachos and beer or salad and water, that while nachos and beer will make me happy right now, salad and water will make me feel better in the future.

…to forgive myself.  Sometimes the nachos and beer are worth it.  🙂

…to ask for help.  People love and care about me.  I’m not going at this alone.  My Hubs is my number one fan and an awesome Type 3-er.  He’s not the diabetes police (although he’d look super cute in a cop uniform, yowza!), but he is supportive and shows concern when needed.  We have a good thing goin’ on.

…that what goes down, must come up.  Blood sugar low?  It’ll come up (with a little help).  Bad diabetes day?  Tomorrow will be better.

…all the cool kids are cyborgs.  ‘Nuff said.

What has diabetes taught you – either as a person living with it or as a Type 3-er?

The cost of the ‘betes.

One of the things that I gripe most about with having diabetes is the sheer cost of the disease.  The doctor’s appointments, the test strips, the glucose tabs, the lancets, the pump supplies, the never-ending prescriptions that always need to be refilled.  It never, ever ends.  I get very frustrated when the Hubs and I are having a budget conversation and we have to include monthly medical expenses.  It shouldn’t be this way.  I feel angry and I feel guilty that my health has such an effect on our finances.

We spend about $300 per month on keeping me alive.  I’m on meds for my thyroid, bum pancreas, birth control (for now), cholesterol, and of course there are the test strips (which my insurance refuses to recognize as a prescription, but instead are labeled durable medical equipment, do not even get me started), pump supplies, CGM supplies, the list goes on and on and on and on some more.  Granted some of these things can be seen as “elective” – Birth Control, Pump, CGM, but in my mind, they are essential.  One of the big reasons why I didn’t go on the CGM previously was the cost.  How sad is that?  I’m on my 10th day with this fancy new toy and I already see it’s amazing value.  My numbers are already better (Currently cruising at 127 and holding steady, thankyouverymuch).  As I said to my husband while venting my frustrations about the “diabetes cover charge”, the insurance companies should be handing insulin pumps and CGMs out like candy.  (Pun intended).  It makes me wonder what costs them more – the initial expense of getting people on these courses of treatment, or treating diabetes related complications down the road.  I know that I am very lucky and very blessed to have insurance and the Hubs and I can afford our out-of-pocket expenses for me to best manage my disease.  As we are planning to have a family, it is so important to both of us that we do whatever is possible to ensure that I am as healthy as possible come baby time!

While I recognize my fortune, I still get frustrated.  I’d love an extra $300 per month to spend on myself (can we say mani/pedi time?) or to put towards our future, be it in a retirement fund or into savings for a new home.  And then when I have the friends complaining that the cost of their birth control went up from $10/month to $20, or that they have to go to the doctor and are annoyed at their copay…it really makes me want to scream.  Medical care is ridiculously expensive as is.  Add a chronic disease in the mix and it just multiplies.  I sometimes think people really have no idea how expensive this disease is.

But, what can you do?  Not taking my meds isn’t an option.  So we grin and bear it and move forward.  It’s just a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, and today is one of those days!

 

Week one – Gut Reactions.

“Gut Reactions”.  See what I did there?

You’re probably thinking this will be an overall review of how my first week with Dexter (trying out this name for my Dexcom, seeing how it feels, meh).  Well, you’re wrong!!  This blog post is sort of on the topic of “Stupid stuff people say” to diabetics, but with a twist.  Let’s call it “stupid reactions to my medically neccessary really-nice-to-have device”.  That fits.

Reaction 1.
Upon showing a coworker my receiver and explaining how it all works, including holding my shirt down so she could see the small bulge of my sensor/transmitter on the bigger bulge that is my belly, she asked to see it.  I’m not terribly shy so I lifted my shirt up right in her cube.  (Hopefully HR wasn’t walking by).  Her reaction: visible disgust followed by an “Oh girl, why’d you have to gross me out?!”.  Gee, thanks.  You asked!!

Reaction 2.
I was telling a friend (via email) about my CGM and how the first few days have been.  Mentioned that I can’t wait until I get my new insulin pump so I can more easily correct my off-target blood sugars.  She responds that she thought my CGM did that.  Now, I’ve explained the difference to her dozens of time and this is someone who’s been in my life for years (including during my prior stint as a pumper) and she still doesn’t get it.

bear_Facepalm

:Facepalm:

Yes, I know that non-diabetics don’t fully understand the disease (who does?), but how annoying is it that I’ve explained it to her 900 million bazillion times, and she has been following along with me as I’ve gone through the process of getting my CGM so it’s not like this is new to her?  So I politely explained it for time 900 bazillion and 1 (I don’t know how many zeros that is) and included a picture in my email, showing that the CGM and pump are, indeed, 2 separate things…

featured_pregnant_1600x600

This is me. Minus the whole growing a human thing (for now!).
(Thanks JDRF for the photo)

Said friend responds with “I could never do that”.  Well, it’s not fun to have a dead pancreas but you do what you gotta do.  Not exactly what someone would choose in life.  And really, I didn’t ask if you could do it…I have to do it.

Reaction 3.
I sent my mother a very lengthy, very detailed email a few weeks ago, explaining the CGM and why I was going on it, and why I think it’d be a great option for my father (Also a T1D who can no longer feel his lows).  I included links to the Dexcom website, videos, blogs, etc.  She responded with a curt “Thanks for the info.”  (Well, Thanks for the support, Mother.  However, that is another blog for another day.)  After inserting my sensor and transmitter, I sent my mother and my sister a text message with a picture of it, along with the caption “Partial cyborg!”.  My sister responds in a supportive manner.  My mother, however, responds that it looks “Indented” and she “doesn’t get it.”  Obviously the email I previously sent had zero impact on her and she did not take the time to watch the videos or explore the links I sent.  Le sighe.

Reaction 4.
Another coworker has Type 2.  I was showing him my CGM and he was so excited about it.  Told me I am “one strong woman”.  He’s my favorite.

All in all, the people who matter have been 100% supportive, asking questions, not reacting in a negative way, all that good stuff.  I just wish sometimes people would fake it a little better.  If you are grossed out, don’t show it.  If you don’t know anything about what I’m telling you, do a quick google search.  If I explain my new course of treatment to you in great detail, maybe listen just a bit.  I didn’t ask for this disease, but I do ask for support.

*yawn*

Today is one of those days where I need tooth picks to prop my eyes open. Woke up high and according to my Dexcom, I was running high all night:

20130425-084233.jpg

Ruh roh. Is anyone else super sleepy when they wake up on the high side?

Good news is what comes up must come down (with the help of a mini-rage bolus). I’ll wake up by lunchtime. Maybe.

20130425-084424.jpg

Also, I need a name for my Dexcom, because that’s what the cool kids do.  I’m thinking Dexter the Dexcom, however I have seen all of zero episodes of Dexter.  Conundrum.

A1c sads.

I have the sads.

I’ve been trying really hard to get my A1c down to a “Conception happy” range (6.0-7.0 or lower).  This has been my focus for the past 6 months or so and until now I’ve been making slow, but steady, progress.  *HIGH FIVE* to me!  “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”, “Slow and steady wins the race”, all that fun stuff, right?

In June of last year I started with a new doctor and an A1c of 8.7, by September it had dropped to 8.2, and I started the year off in January with a 7.8.  Go team!  I was especially happy with that January number as I got married and subsequently ate my face off on our honeymoon.  Whoops.  Honeymoons happen.  I’ve also been on a “Pump Vacation” for the past 8 months, and until today it seemed to be helping my number.

Today’s A1c…7.9.  :sadface:  Doc and I discussed and he’s happy that I’m steady, but we both agree that I need to be steady at about 6.9.  A few tweaks were made to my insulin to carb ratios – yay more math brain exercises for me!  (All diabetics should be handed an honorary math degree on date of diagnosis, don’t you agree?).  Doc and I feel that with my new CGM and going back on the pump in a few weeks, my next appointment will be happy once again.

If only every day could be like today:

20130422-124116.jpg

How you like me now, A1c?

Until I reach that elusive 6.5-ish, I will remember:

“Every Strike brings me closer to the next home run”.

I’m gonna hit this puppy outta the park.

Growing Pains.

The other day, a package arrived for me.

20130418-193011.jpg

I didn’t realize it was Christmas!

 

See how happy I was?

Happy

After charging my receiver and watching the tutorial videos (twice), I was ready to rock and roll.

20130418-192402.jpg

Let’s do this!

Inserted my sensor using the handy-dandy instructions.  Watching the tutorial videos definitely helped!

20130418-192427.jpg

20130418-192506.jpg

Beeeep. Booop. Bee-Boop. (Robot Speak?)

I am now, a partial cyborg.  I will consider myself a full cyborg once my Ping arrives, but alas, that is another story for another day.

I was very nervous about the first insertion.  I thought it would hurt more than changing an infusion site on a pump, but honestly, I didn’t feel it at all.  Which made me wonder if I did it wrong.  The only challenge was positioning of my hands, which I’m sure will get easier as I get used to the process.  Also, my boobs kind of got in the way.  May be a little easier to do in front of the mirror.

After the two hour waiting period, I calibrated my new toy.  Everything was running great, I was compulsively checking my Dexcom to see what my sugar was doing and was quickly falling in love.

However, after my shower, I received an unwelcome present:

20130419-080652.jpg

Not the question marks!

Noooo

Siiiiiigh.  As any PWD will tell you, nothing goes as planned!  I impatiently waited the 3 hours for my Dexcom to come back online and give me readings, but alas, it had gone to Dexcom Sensor Heaven – as confirmed by the very nice, very kind Dexcom rep I spoke to.  (FYI, they are sending me a new sensor, no questions asked!)

RIP

Being that it was 11:00pm at this point, I decided to go to bed.  However, I did leave the sensor in with the hopes that maybe, just maybe it would come back to life.  Plus, I thought it may be a good idea to get used to sleeping with it.  But, I woke up this morning and my receiver was still giving me the ??? attitude, so off the sensor went.

It was a bit easier to insert the sensor the second time around, which reinforces my thought that it will become much less awkward.

After waiting the 2 hours and calibrating, I have been getting readings all day with no errors.  I am exercising my OCD tendencies and checking my new toy every few minutes.  It is SO COOL to see what my sugar is doing.  And, being that I am a nerd, I have tested a few times for comparison.

20130419-135621.jpg

Pretty dang accurate!

Of course no day with D is complete with out some sort of fluctuating blood sugar.  My Dexcom started vibrating as my coworker and I were getting lunch and it said I was reading “72”. I had just tested myself a few minutes before to give myself my lunch time bolus and was 93, so I’m not sure if I dropped that quickly in the few blocks between the office and the cafe or what.  But I felt OK and figured I’d test when I got back to my desk.

By that time my Dexcom was vibrating like crazy and all I could see was the double down arrows.

Dex2

Came back to the office and sure enough:

20130419-135647.jpg

Felt closer to 69 than 49.

Luckily, I wasn’t too terribly low, however I did enjoy the company of a vibrating Dexcom during my lunch break.  Although the reading on the Dexcom wasn’t 100% accurate, I was glad for the head’s up.

So that’s my first day 6 hours with the Dexcom.