Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cartridges woes

When I was in the BWCA a couple weeks ago, I decided to half fill my pump cartridges, so that I wouldn’t heat up the entire 300 units of insulin day after day living outdoors in the hot sun. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Yesterday I realized that I only had one cartridge left in the box. O.k., no big deal. My medical supply order from the company in Florida was scheduled to come on Wednesday. Last night I filled the last cartridge and put it in my pump. When I screwed on the luer lock for my quick set, I heard a click. Hmmm, that was odd. Never heard that sound before. I didn’t really investigate the noise.

I went to bed about 10:30pm. I woke up (I think because it was raining so darn hard) at 1:47am. I felt horrible. I grabbed the tester and poked. 367. WHAT??? I remembered the click sound, and so disconnected my quick set and primed the line. Nothing. No insulin. It pooled up around the top of the pump. CRAP! I didn’t have any cartridges left. The one in my pump was apparently broken, and I was high as a kite. (with small ketones, might I add)

I did the only thing that I could think of. I took my used cartridge from the garbage can (where I had thrown it hours earlier, minus the screw on top), wiped it with alcohol, and filled it up again. I put it in my pump and gave a gi-normous corrective bolus.

I called the medical supply place today. The woman tells me that my order had a problem with UPS, and that it wouldn’t be coming until Friday. I calmly explained the contaminated cartridge I was currently using, infested with probably more bacteria than I’d really like to know about. She put me on hold for 20 minutes, trying to pass me through to the “diabetes division.” After the 20 min, she came back on the phone to ask me to give her my number so that she could have a rep call me. THEY NEVER CALLED. I called and sat on hold again, ending up having to hang up to head to a training that I needed to give at a local summer camp for environmental education staff.

So here I sit. Contaminated cartridge of insulin pumping into me, germs and all, without a replacement en route.

I leave for the BWCA at 4am on Thursday morning. Gotta figure out something by then.

I’ll have to get back on the phone tomorrow and offer to sell my soul in exchange for one lousy, overnight-aired, cartridge.

Dam diabetes!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

32 years and still going strong!!

32 years ago today I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

My mom took me to my pediatrician for my “entrance to first grade” physical. They did a urine test. The doctor told my mom that she needed to take me to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital so that the diagnosis could be confirmed with a blood test. The clinic that I went to was so small that it didn’t have it’s own lab.

I remember riding in the car, and my mom telling me “…if you’re good for the blood test, we’ll stop on the way home for a chocolate ice cream cone” at the local drugstore. (a big treat!) They did the blood draw and we waited for the results. I don’t remember much after that. I guess they told my mom that I had diabetes and that I would be admitted to the hospital for education, etc. (for 5 days! Imagine that.) My mom called my dad to tell him, and later that night, he punched a hole in our bathroom door out of frustration and sadness. I don’t know what my blood sugar was upon admittance. I’m sure that it wasn’t much higher than 200. I didn’t feel sick. I hadn’t been losing weight. It was caught early. I didn’t actually start taking insulin for about a month after diagnosis. I must have been in the “honeymoon” phase. Too bad this was so long ago, or the honeymoon period could have been lengthened. For a six year old, this was pretty crazy. I was hospitalized and taught to check my urine; my parents learned how to give injections, and how to help me follow a meal plan. But I felt FINE!

I never got the chocolate ice cream cone.

When I finally started taking insulin, I took one injection each day, in the morning. I didn’t start taking a second injection until a year or two after my diagnosis. I tested my urine four times a day, attempting to void ½ hour before the actual test. I learned to pee on command.

I remember my mom packing my lunch and snacks for school. She sewed little pockets in all of my shorts and pants so that I could carry a pack of lifesavers wherever I went. (this was WAY before glucose tabs and gel) Sometimes I would come home from school with a couple missing lifesavers. My mom would ask what happened and I would tell her that I had “a little reaction.” (the rule was to eat 7 lifesavers when I felt low. Sometimes I just wanted a lifesaver or two, so I came up with the “little reactions.”) I went to the nurse’s office every day before lunch so that I could pee in a cup and the health aide could test it. She would write the test value (Negative, Trace, +1, +2, +3, +4) on a little sheet of paper for me to put in my backpack. I followed a “meal plan.” I still remember the plan. Breakfast was 2 breads, 1 fruit, 0-1 fat, 0 vegetables, and 1 milk. There was no exchanging—if I was supposed to have 1 milk, I couldn’t switch and have an extra “bread exchange.” I put Sweet -10 liquid saccharin on my breakfast cereal and used it to mix with unsweetened kool-aid. If I was hungry between meals, I could choose a snack from the list of “free foods.” All those foods sucked. Rhubarb (raw), pickles, raw veggies, 1-tablespoon ketchup, or 1 tablespoon whipped topping. Seriously. Can you imagine telling your hungry 6 year old to choose one of those yummy snacks?! Does a picture of a little kid chomping on a stalk of raw rhubarb fill your head?! As you might imagine, I came to love pickles.

I started going to Camp Needlepoint. The counselors and medical team used to carry pouches of sugar cubes. You would get 4 big ones, or 6 small ones if you were low. (I don’t know how they checked if you were low…I don’t think I ran off to the bathroom and tested my pee every time I felt low…) I learned to give my own shot there when I was 8 years old. The last day of camp that summer, they called my name and I got to stand on a bench while the entire group in the dining hall clapped for my accomplishment. I remember that. I was one of the few kids that were taking two shots a day. Most were still only taking one. I was pissed about that. I remember standing in line at the bathroom before meals waiting to urine test. My friends and I used to just dip our diastix in the toilet water at bedtime snack time, (to ensure a negative reading) so that we would get to have more smunchies. (a favorite bedtime snack. Sugar free Chocolate pudding mixed with peanut butter, a dollop of whipped cream on top, then frozen between graham crackers. They were the bomb—at least back then they were. Compared to the rhubarb, smunchies were the Taj Mahal.) I remember the introduction of glucose tabs. You know the ones. Those big, white BD suckers. I still gag at the thought of those. I choked down more than I care to remember. I was a camper, a counselor, and an administrative member. I spent 20 of my summers at camp. I grew up there.

Diabetes is part of who I am. I don’t remember living without it. I got an email from my mom last week.

“Oh how I admire you, Molly, for all the years of everything you have had to endure...you are my inspiration. No words can say how proud of you I am.”

I don’t feel like I “endure.” If I had been diagnosed later, perhaps I would have a different feeling. Maybe I’d remember how much easier life was before my diagnosis. But I was just a little kid, and this just seems like the way life is to me.

I’ve met many cool people because I have diabetes. I have a really awesome dog because I have diabetes.

So raise your glass today (a diet soda or calorie free beverage will do, although I’ll certainly be having a cocktail!) to celebrate.

32 years with diabetes, with only a little hypoglycemia unawareness to show for it, is a pretty DAM good reason to celebrate.


Today, Dixie is secretly thinking that how happy she is that I have diabetes, or she would not be in my life. And secretly, I’m thinking the same thing too. ☺

Saturday, August 4, 2007

We're back!

I am back from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. What a great trip!

It’s hard to put in words, the experiences that we had.

There were quiet mornings, sunny afternoons, and loons calling. We lay in the tent listening to morning birds. We cooled down by jumping in the cold water. I watched the sunrise and the moon appear. We loved sitting in the breeze reading Harry Potter out loud. We ate steaming bowls of soup made on a little stove. We munched pistachios and drank sugar free kool-aid while sitting on the shore of a lake listening to waves roll in on the rocks. It was bliss.

I ended up bringing my expired glucagon, as my prescription was not approved. Apparently it is now in the appeal stage, and I will be notified in another 30 days if my health insurance will agree to cover it since the prescription coverage will not.

I brought two new meters (Freestyle Lite) that my friend from Michigan brought with her, courtesy of her friend that works for Abbot. I liked the bright light and the bigger numeral display. Otherwise, it isn’t much different than the Freestyle Flash. It does use different strips that she also brought for me.

On the third night, we headed into the tent, tired from the day. Each night that Dixie entered the tent she crashed hard. Living outdoors was exhausting for her. That third night, around midnight, I awoke to scratching. Dixie was still laying on her thermarest, but had one paw extended and was hitting me. I tested and was 42. I opened a zip lock baggie and got out two GU packets. I ripped open the packages and slammed them. During this time Dixie rolled over and went back to sleep, as if saying, “my work is done.”

It was very hot and humid, and I had a harder time keeping pump sites in for more than two days. Many times during the day, and especially after a portage, I lifted my shirt to wipe sweat from around the site and to check its integrity. I usually fill my Cozmo cartridges the whole way up. (300ish units) For the trip, because of the heat, I only filled them halfway. I kept the spare cartridges in a Frio cold pack that worked marvelously. I had also purchased a Frio pump pack, and kept my entire pump in that during the hot afternoons.

So what were the challenges of the trip? Black flies that bit and bit and bit. (especially around the ankles) Long portages (a mile at a time) carrying a canoe over my head. Hot nights in the tent, trying to get comfortable. (most night it was too hot for a sleeping bag so we just slept on our sleeping pads) Falling while carrying the canoe, landing with it on my head, and spending the rest of the day with a headache. But even with those things, it was incredible.

I’m already thinking about my trip next summer. ☺


Dixie loved the trip. She sat on top of the food pack in the canoe, and her sniffer worked overtime. She did a great job, not only in the canoe, but also on the portages.

The flies really got to her. She had a couple of afternoons of swollen bumps around her eyes and on her snout, but nothing that a couple doses of benadryl didn’t remedy. She was a trooper.

If I haven’t mentioned it lately…. Man, she’s a good dog. The best.