Friday, November 27, 2009

My 40 Meme

***My 40***

1. Do you like bleu cheese? Yep. Not in huge amounts, but a little is tasty.

2. Have you ever smoked? Yes. Don't tell my mom.

3. Do you own a gun? No way.

4. Favorite type of food? Deli food. Sandwiches, salads, dill pickles, etc.

5. Favorite type of music? All but country and rap.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? About two times a year they are the bomb. They must be eaten at a sports event.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? Frosty the Snowman.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Latte.

9. Can you do push ups? Only against the wall or against a counter top.

10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My medic alert bracelet is about the only jewelry I wear. Does that make it a favorite?

11. Favorite hobby? BWCA canoe camping

12. Do you have A.D.D.? Mine is more of the ADHD kind. I’m a wiggler.

13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Glasses for distance, sunglasses to look cool.

14. Middle name? Smart Ass if you ask my friends. Elizabeth if you check my birth certificate.

15. Name three thoughts at this exact moment: Diners, Drive ins, and Dives marathon today=YAY! Dixie needs her water dish outside refilled. I have a bothersome hangnail on my left index finger.

16. Name three drinks you regularly drink: Water, coffee, and diet Mountain Dew.

17. Current worry? I need to change my dang pump site tonight and don’t want to.

18. Current hate right now? I hate getting a regular soda in a drive through and not noticing it until I’m down the road. I hate changing my pump site even more than that.

19. Favorite place to be? BWCA.

20. How did you bring in the new year? graciously.

21. Someplace you’d like to go? Greece. But I hate to fly. Maybe Quebec.

22. Name three people who will complete this. huh?

23. Do you own slippers? Actually I do have some but I never wear them. I like fuzzy socks more than slippers.

24. What color shirt are you wearing? Red sweatshirt.

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I don’t think that I have ever tried. I’m guessing I wouldn’t like them.

26. Can you whistle? Yes, and both on inspiration and expiration.

27. Where are you now? Sitting on a recliner in the living room at my house.

28. Would you be a pirate? No way. My quarters would be too small and my “bunkmate” would probably snore like crazy.

29. What songs do you sing in the shower? I’m not a shower singer. Sometimes I hum.

30. Favorite Girl’s Name? Kaylee

31. Favorite boy’s name? Samuel.

32. What is in your pocket right now? An insulin pump.

33. Last thing that made you laugh? A radio show I was listening to in the car.

34. What vehicle do you drive? A Subaru Forester

35. Worst injury you’ve ever had? Broke my left leg when I was 14. That meant that I was in a cast for about 4 months. But... this part summer with a herniated disc was, perhaps, the worst lingering, "make me crazy as a hoot owl" pain I've ever experienced.

36. Do you love where you live? Totally. It's exactly where I've always wanted to be.

37. How many TVs do you have in your house? Two.

38. How many computers do you have in your house? Two. Does an Iphone count as a computer?

39. If you changed your job, what would it be? Canoe trip outfitter and guide.

40. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be? Peace for friends, Happiness for my family, and that Dixie would live as long as I do.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy D-blog day!

Happy D-blog day everybody!

I started blogging a couple of years ago. I had been reading a number of blogs, and decided to start up my own. Mostly it was to share information about Dixie. At least, that's what I thought.

I do blog about Dixie. About how she alerts me when my blood sugar is out of range. How she alerts others when they are out of range. :-) And... I post pictures of her. After all, she is a very cute, black dog. Especially when she wears her fancy hot pink bowtie.

I also blog about MY diabetes. My frustrations and anxiety. My accomplishments. And I can't help but smile when someone comments on my post and I know that they really understand what it's like to live with diabetes, day in and day out.

I've been fortunate to meet some local d-bloggers. (and an out of towner d-blogger!)

I've lived with diabetes for the last 34 years. I've seen a lot of change in the treatment. I've lived through some out of range A1c's and some kick butt A1c's. I've lived through DKA, severe hypoglycemia (have I ever shared the story of biting a hole through my tongue during a particularly bad reaction.?? Gross, but it was cool to be able to stick noodles through the hole and gross all my friends out in junior high school), thousands of pokes, and more wild ass guesses estimating carbs than one would believe is possible.

I've survived.

It's fun to survive when I have support from a great online community.

Keep blogging! Stick together. None of us can do this alone.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween, Dixie style

Happy Halloween everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My invisible illness

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know.

1. The illness I live with is: Type 1 diabetes

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1975

3. But I had symptoms since: I actually didn't have symptoms. I went in to the doctor for my first grade check up and they did a random whiz quiz. I had some sugar in my urine, so I was sent to Children's Hospital for a blood test. I didn't start taking insulin until about 2 months after my diagnosis.

4. The biggest adjustment I've had to make is: My entire life had been a series of adjustments.

5. Most people assume: that I am mostly healthy. Which is true.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Waking up and getting out of bed. I hate mornings.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: House. I used to be a big ER fan.

8. A gadget I couldn't live without is: My blood testing meter.

9. The hardest part about nights are: Getting organized for work the next morning.

10. Each day I take 2 pills & some vitamins: I've been figuring out how much vitamin D to take, because my levels are constantly low.

11. Regarding alternative treatments: I don't use alternative treatments to treat my Type 1, but use a variety of alternative treatments for other reasons.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Neither. Both choices suck.

13. Regarding working and career: I work. I need health insurance to pay for my diabetes.

14. People would be surprised to know: That I hate injections and have a very low pain tolerance.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: I was diagnosed when I was 6 years old. This is my reality. I don't remember any other way of life. I can say that it's a heck of a lot easier having diabetes with the technology/information that's available now versus when I was a kid.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: I've never believed that I couldn't do something because of my diabetes.

17. The commercials about my illness: are few and far between, and are usually targeted to people with Type 2 diabetes.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Yeah, again, I don't remember anything pre diabetes. I miss not having flexibility in my life. I wish I could be more spontaneous.

19. It was really hard to have to give up: Um.... candy at Halloween as a child.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: So this question seems to be geared to people who were diagnosed a whole lot later in life. I have taken up blogging in the last couple years.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Have a day of unplanned freedom. I would take off without spare supplies, a meter, etc.

22. My illness has taught me: To persevere.

23. One thing people say that gets under my skin is: "Oh, you have a service dog? Your diabetes must be brittle."

24. But I love it when people: Recognize the time, effort, and energy I put into my diabetes management.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: Giddy up.

26. When someone is diagnosed I'd like to tell them: That they can live a good life with diabetes. Diabetes doesn't have to define them.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: How resilient I am. I've also learned and experienced the ability dogs have to help manage diabetes.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn't feeling well was: cover for me so that I could go home and crash.

29. I'm involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I have diabetes and I've been telling people about the significance of this week.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Super. Thanks for asking. :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009


(first pictures of Dixie on August, 7 2005)

Today is Dixie’s “gotcha day.”

What is a “gotcha day” you ask? I didn’t come up with it. I used to work with a little boy who was adopted. Every year, his parents would celebrate the day that they got him. Hence, the term “gotcha day.”

Four years ago today I was in Jud, North Dakota. I had traveled there the previous day and had moved into the little house where I would live for three weeks while I trained. I remember the day I met Dixie. It was hot and humid. I woke early so that I could shower, have breakfast, and check internet before I needed to be at the training facility. (which was about 20 yards away) I was so nervous.

I finally walked over to the office and met the training staff. They had me work with a couple of different dogs. I practiced having the dogs heel while I walked around the room. This went on for about 1/2 hour. Then they brought out Dixie. She was so much smaller than all the other dogs. I asked if she was a puppy, and they told me that she was nearly two years old. The other dogs that I had been with were all around 80-100 pounders. Dixie was much smaller...only around 40 pounds. We walked around the room, with her heeling at my side.

I was sent to an office to sit and watch a short video about dog training principles. The trainer had instructed me to carry my tester with me all the time, and to test if Dixie did anything “unusual.” She stayed next to me on the floor while the t.v. played. About 15 minutes into it, she sat up and started pawing me. I whipped out my tester and rang in at 62. I ran out and told the trainers. They rewarded Dixie, and I got out some fruit snacks to cover the low.

Around noon, they called a lunch break. Dixie was taken back to her kennel, and I went to my “house” for lunch. After lunch, Dixie was brought back out to me, and we practiced heeling through the streets of Jud. I asked the trainer if Dixie was my “primary candidate.” (Before I came, I was told that a dog would be selected for me. That dog would be my primary candidate. They would also have some secondary candidates, in case the primary candidate didn’t work out.) The trainer told me yes. I was excited. Now I knew that Dixie would most likely be mine. We went back to the training facility and they gave me supplies so that I could take Dixie back to the house with me. They gave me dog food, bowls, toys, and treats.

At the end of that first day I was exhausted. Dixie and I crashed on the couch. I took the first pictures of her and emailed them to all my friends. It finally felt real.

That was four years ago. Before that, I struggled with identifying my own lows. I had to rely on friends, family, and colleagues to help me know when I was low. Usually by the time they realized it, I was really low. Numbers in the 20s, 30s, and 40s were common.

Those days are gone.

Dixie knows I am dropping before my numbers get that low. At my endo appointments the last couple years, my doctor is amazed at my numbers. She used to circle numbers in the 20s, 30s, and 40s to track and try to understand. She doesn’t need to do that anymore. I am rarely that low. My A1c’s have dropped into the upper 5 range for the last year. That is without constant lows.

My life is complete with Dixie. She is a gift.

Thank you, Great Plains, for training Dixie and giving her to me.

Thank you, Dixie, for all your hard work. Happy Gotcha Day buddy!!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Pain. It’s been controlling my life for the last two months. I haven’t been able to do much of anything except work on finding comfortable positions and taking pain pills.

Let me start by saying that I will admit to having a very low pain tolerance. I’m a whimp when it comes to things that hurt. Blood draws cause anxiety, paper cuts can require neosporin and bandaids, and pump site changes require some serious mind over matter.

About two months ago I was exercising. I was lifting weights, and decided to “add in” some time on the elliptical trainer between sets. I didn’t have any shoes on, but didn’t stop and think that might lead to a problem. Which it did. I fell off the trainer and felt a muscle twinge in my right leg. I had pulled my hamstring. I took advil and babied it for about 10 days. Then it seemed to be feeling better. I didn’t think about it. Until 3 weeks ago. I started having serious pain in my hamstring, specifically in the places where it attaches to my pelvis and behind by knee. I was taking advil in mass doses, but it just seemed to get worse and worse.

I am not a fan of western medicine. I don’t have a “primary care doctor.” I see my endocrinologist twice a year, and she has agreed to do the things that a primary care doctor would manage. (cholesterol check, liver enzymes, etc.) I’m lucky that I don’t get sick very often. If I do have an infection I generally just go to urgent care, get some meds, and go on.

I have a large circle of friends who practice alternative medicine. When my leg was really hurting I had someone kinesio-tape my leg. I had several sessions of mayofacial release. I took epsom baths. I increased some vitamins. I had some relief from all of those strategies, but not enough. I was nervous about seeing an MD. I was convinced that my problem was just a pulled muscle and low pain tolerance. I hate going to urgent care because I usually get the “oh.... you have diabetes. Your problem is because of that.”

Two weeks ago I dragged myself to urgent care. The doctor pulls up my records and says, “Oh, you have diabetes and have had it for a long time. Do you take insulin?” Um, yeah.. I have type 1. She asks if I took insulin this week. Crap. This week?!?! My pump probably gave me some basal insulin 30 seconds ago, lady! Then she asks if I test my blood sugar. Again I say yes. She asks if I’ve checked this week. Argh. (see my frustration with western medicine?) Now let me also share that I am standing in the room, and she has my chart pulled up on her computer. The first paragraph at the top (which I eavesdropped and read while she was reading it) says, “excellent controlled type 1 diabetes.” Seems stupid that she asked those diabetes questions with that information kind of information about me.

This doctor decides that I need a Doppler study to rule out a blood clot and cyst behind my knee. Of course, they don’t do that at the clinic, so I need to drive over to the hospital to have it done. They do the study and the doctor calls me on the phone in the lobby. She says the tests were negative and she would prescribe narcotics and physical therapy. Later that afternoon the scheduler calls with two PT appointments.

For the record, my clinic is about 50 minutes away from my house. There is another branch that is about 40 minutes away. I choose to do the PT there.

I show up for my first appointment. The PT has no idea why I’m in so much pain. He works on my for 30 minutes and then tells me to come back tomorrow so that he can do more evaluation. I do. He is still perplexed.

On Monday I called the orthopedic department. They offered me an appointment on Tuesday. I went in. The doctor thought that I had tendonOsis. Apparently that is tendonitis that has stopped healing. He sent me for an MRI. I did that on Tuesday night. Wednesday, I saw him. He said that I had swelling in my bursa where the hamstring attaches, consistent with tendonitis. The treatment for tendonitis is large doses of prednisone. Not great for someone with diabetes. Even worse for someone who is allergic to insulin and will have to take lots of it to manage the increased blood sugars from the prednisone. He was concerned the tendonitis diagnosis didn’t explain all my pain. So he sent me to another MRI for my lumbar region.

I had that done yesterday afternoon. Turns out that I have a herniated disc. (or is it spelled “disk” ... ?) The tech brings me back to a room and says that the neurosurgeon is going to give me a spinal epidural shot to relieve the pain and hopefully help the disc/disk to heal on its own.

Have you ever had a shot in your spine?!?!? It hurts. A lot. It also is a steroid shot so it does crazy things to blood sugars.

I’m feeling less painful today. I guess it was worth it.

I’m supposed to being heading to Canada in less than three weeks for a canoe trip in the Quetico Provincial Park.

I’m hope that my body starts healing now.

I'm afraid of living with chronic pain.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Update and answers

(This is Dixie alerting. First, she pushes against me. If I don't respond she hits with her paw and stares at me until I test and treat.)

It’s been a fast-moving last month.

My insulin pump was part of a recall. Not for a big issue, just a little technical error when an extended bolus was given. I was sent two replacement pumps--one for my current pump and one for my old pump that is out of warranty. I have to transfer my settings by hand, because I use a Mac, and the software only works on PCs. I had the new pumps sitting around for a couple days waiting to be programmed. Finally, I decided it was time. I programmed both, and put one back in the closet as a back up. I hooked up to the new one, and sent the recalled ones back to Smith.

Two days later, I was eating a higher carb meal. I bolused, and started eating. I was watching an old ER rerun at the time, and kept wondering why there was a high pitched noise coming from the show. Finally I realized that the noise was coming from my pump. I took it out of my pocket and it was squealing and had the message “depleted battery.” I knew something was fishy because I had just put a new battery in when I started using it two days earlier. I replaced the battery and continued the bolus. I got another error message (occlusion alarm) and knew that this pump was on the fritz. I quickly got out the “backup” one that I had programmed and hooked up to that one. I called Smith and the technical support had me go through the history. She finally said, “yeah, it’s broken. We’ll send you another one.” I was thankful to have a backup ready to use. Having to go back to shots is really crippling.

I got a Wii Fit. It’s been fun playing with it. Although it’s a little humbling to have a Mii (the little character that you design to represent yourself) on the t.v. become plumpy after the Fit weighs. Your character starts out as stick thin, then plumps out after it calculates your weight/BMI.

Lately, I’ve been getting a slurry of emails, etc requesting information about Dixie and diabetes alert service dogs. I’m posting this as a review, in case new readers are reading this:

1. Dixie is my diabetes alert service dog. She alerts me when I’m low, high, or moving out of range. The longer we’ve been together, the smaller her “range” is. (she’s really happiest if my blood sugar is between 85-110. Heck, so am I!)

2. I got Dixie because I have had significant hypoglycemia unawareness since the day I was diagnosed. Even as a little, newly diagnosed child I was unable to tell when I was low. I have struggled with overnight hypoglycemia. I don't wake up on my own if I'm low. I was relying on friends and family to "alert" me when I was low. It was frustrating and embarrassing.

3. I don't test less because I have Dixie. Actually, I probably test more.

4. Dixie was trained at Great Plains Assistance Dog Foundation located in Jud, North Dakota. I spent three weeks at the facility training with Dixie. And no, she wasn’t trained using “scent training” techniques. (as some places use) She alerted me the first day that I worked with her, I praised her, and it was as if a light bulb immediately went off in her head. “AH, you want me to tell you that!” She didn’t alert 100% of the time for several months. It takes time (and experience) to master a job. That’s why it’s important for Dixie to be with me all (most) of the time. She is amazing at her job because she is around me all the time. I’m guessing that she wouldn’t be as skilled if I just “used” her overnight and didn’t take her with me to work, etc.

5. Dixie had to pass a “public access” exam before I could leave Great Plains. This test allows her to have access to public places. (she passed with flying colors, by the way) This means that Dixie can go everywhere with me...stores, school, haircuts, businesses, etc. She has flown with me on airplanes, and traveled in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in a canoe with me.

6. Dixie cost $15,000 dollars. The school district that I work for did a large fundraiser for me, in addition to some money I got from my older sister. I was able to pay the amount in full. Scholarships, etc are available, but I didn’t need one because of the fund raising. Some service dog organizations (especially ones with major corporate sponsorship/funding) provide service dogs at no cost to the recipient. This seems to be a point of controversy in some of the comments/emails I get from people. Some believe that all service dogs should be free. Some think that $15,000 is excessive. Most wonder how I was able to pay that amount.

A service dog isn’t for everyone. But it was worth it for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

7. My life has changed because of Dixie. My A1c is the lowest it’s ever been, with minimal fluctuations and no severe lows. She’s a great dog.

I know that many people are interested in diabetes alert service dogs, and it's often hard to find information. Before I got Dixie, I googled, etc looking for information. There was little out there to read. I'm hoping that for people investigating now, there's more out there. I've answered some of the most common questions that I get. Feel free to ask away if you have others.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Who is that handsome couple?!

Well it's Scott and Dixie, of course.

We were at today's MN O.C. meet up this morning. A few of us locals got together at Caribou for hot beverages and chatting. The hot beverages were important, as we had spent the last 86 hours below zero degrees.

I find it interesting that I can meet new people who are living with diabetes, and feel like I've known them for a long time. Two of the people at the meet up today I met for the first time. A couple minutes into a conversation and I felt completely comfortable and as if we went "way back."

Scott and I have been at two O.C. meet ups in the last year together. I read his blog, and we occasionally exchange an email. I feel like I've known the guy since elementary school.

Is it because we speak the same language? (the d-chat, that is) Is it because we both wear pumps and are working to figure out how to just eat 15 carbs for a low and wait? Is it our love for diet pop? I'm guessing it's probably all of it.

Diabetes just brings us together.

If you haven't met up with other diabetes O.C. friends yet... I strongly encourage you to give it a try.

Individually, we all live separate lives. But together, we understand the big part (diabetes) that complicates it. We can learn from each other. We can support each other.

And... if you come to an O.C. get together that I'm at... you can get YOUR picture taken with Dixie. (but bring your tester, because Dixie will alert you if you aren't in the range she likes! :-)

Thanks, my new (and old) friends. It was fun.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More cold

Today isn't really a fun day to live in Minnesota.

It's cold. We had a major snowfall last night. The commute is painfully slow, the roads are icy and many aren't plowed.

And... in school today it will be indoor recess.


I guess the good news is that tomorrow it could get above zero. I think the projected high temperature is 5.

When's the last time you were excited about a high temperature of 5??

Friday, January 9, 2009

A NEW TOY for Dixie!

Yesterday when Dixie and I got home from school, there was a package in the mailbox addressed to Dixie.

We went in the house and opened it right away. Here is what was inside:

A while ago, I had posted that Dixie's favorite "go to" toy was broken. It didn't make the noise when it was squeezed. ("Merry Christmas, woof, woof!") She kept bringing it to me as if saying, "please fix it." I sent a picture of it to people all over the US.

Lucky for Dixie, my mom's friend's daughter living in California found a replacement at Walgreens. She bought it and brought it home. She called her mom who told her to go back to Walgreens and get more. When she did, all the Christmas things were gone.

Dixie carried the new toy around with her for an hour after we got home. When it was time for her to eat her dinner, she set the new toy by her dish and ate. When she was done eating she picked it back up.

Thanks, Janie. Dixie couldn't be more thrilled!