Tuesday, November 9, 2010

6 things - D blog day

Here are six things I wish people knew about living with Type 1 diabetes:

1. It's complicated.
To some people it seems like if I just watch what I eat, give insulin, and prick my fingers I will be right as rain. It's not that easy. Diabetes is complicated. It's a hundred decisions about "simple things" like eating and exercising. It's constantly thinking about what's next, what's worked, what hasn't worked, and what's ahead. What works one day doesn't always work the next. It's like a lifelong brain-teaser.

2. It's a lot of mind games.
It's a lot of mind work. It's constant mental math trying to calculate carbs and insulin. (and I HATE math. I'm rotten at it) Trying to remember how food affected me in the past. Trying to remember to keep a running total of carbs that I eat. Remembering to bolus for said carbs. Convincing myself that a high or low number on my tester doesn't mean failure and doesn't mean I have to beat myself up. Convincing my mind that I can do this. My brain can be simply exhausted some days to tackle all that I need to tackle just to stay healthy.

3. It's a time stealer.
Diabetes takes time. Time to remember supplies. Time to fill cartridges with insulin. Time to deal with insurance companies. Time to test. Time to change my pump site. Time to read labels. Time to figure out solutions to blood sugar problems. Time lost to lows. Time lost to highs. Time to keep supplies stocked. Time for doctor appointments.
I've said that if I was cured, I'd have a heck of a lot of free time.

4. It's damaging.
Diabetes damages small blood vessels. In my eyes, in my gastrointestinal system, in my kidneys, and in my fingers and toes. Controlling my blood sugars helps stop some of the damage. But having diabetes means that damage is taking place under my skin. It's scary to think about. It's hard to not worry about what might happen.

5. If you know a person with diabetes, you know ONE person with diabetes.
This disease isn't the same for all of us. What works for one person, doesn't work for another. The way one person uses insulin isn't the way another person does. What diet strategy works well for one of us, doesn't work for another. It is called diabetes, but it looks different for each individual who lives with it.

6. I don't have a service dog because I have "brittle" or "bad" diabetes. I have Dixie because:
1) I love dogs,
2) I was having problems knowing when my blood sugar was low or dropping,
3) I wanted a security system and didn't want another site needed for a CGMS (continuous glucose monitoring system),
4) I like to be on the cutting edge and try things that others don't always believe can work, and
5) because it makes living with diabetes a LOT easier for me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

D Meme

What type of diabetes do you have:
Type 1.

When were you diagnosed:
August 15th, 1975

What's your current blood sugar:

What kind of meter do you use:
Freestyle Lite

How many times per day do you check your blood sugar:
I'd say the average is about 8-10 times a day.

What is a "HIGH" number for you:
I should probably direct this question to Dixie. She believes that the ideal range is 85-105. I correct for anything over 130.

What do you consider "LOW":
Under 70.

What is your favorite low blood sugar reaction treater:
I usually treat with apple juice in the night, Powerade and fruit snacks during the day. I use Gu and Carb-boom when I need a bigger lift or if I need to grab it out of Dixie's vest.

Describe your dream endo:
Hmmm. I like my endo. I guess it would be ideal if she would call me personally every couple months just to chat and answer random questions.

Who's on your support team:
My family
My friends

Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime:
Nope. At least, not one without "hitches." (like needing to take anti-rejection meds)

What is a "cure" to you:
Being able to live spontaneously. Eating and/or drinking without a second thought.

The most annoying thing people say to you about your diabetes is:
"Oh, you must have the brittle kind!"

The most common misconception about diabetes:
That eating is the cause of diabetes.

If you could say one thing to your pancreas, what would it be:
Really? Come on!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

D-versary day

Wow. Where did the summer go??

I had to post today since today is my 35 year d-anniversary day. It was 35 years ago today that I went to my pediatrician for my back to school (1st grade) physical. They did a random urinalysis and I was diagnosed with diabetes. My clinic was so small that it didn't have a lab in it, so I was sent to Minneapolis Children's Hospital for a blood test. Back then, I had to have a venous blood draw. Fast forward an hour from then and I was being admitted to the hospital with Type 1 diabetes. I stayed a week, so my parents could learn all about the big D. I didn't start insulin until sometime in September, as I was honeymooning and the doctors didn't think I needed to start insulin until my blood sugars were really high.

35 years later and I celebrate all my hard work. Living with diabetes for a long time takes a lot of persistence and hard work. (and also a heck of a lot of guessing!) I celebrate because I am proud of tackling this disease day in and day out. I'm proud that I see my endo once or twice a year, and that is the only specialist that I need to see. I'm proud (and really lucky!) that my only diabetes complication is hypoglycemia unawareness. And I'm happy that I have good friends and family (and a great dog!) who stick with me and help during the challenging times.
Of course, as always, I'll be celebrating my hard work with chocolate cake (with chocolate ganache) and good beer. (Beck's light, in case you're wondering)

Dixie and I just returned from our yearly wilderness canoe trip.

This year we ventured into the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. We had to mail away for Remote Border Crossing Permits (RABC, so we could enter at a little cabin on Basswood Lake) and carry our passports. The trip was much more rugged than I've ever done before. The mosquitoes were worse than they've been in a couple years. The weather was beautiful. Daytime highs in the mid-70s and nighttime lows in the mid-50s. Dixie was a star. She has learned how to do "remote alerts." She sits in the middle of the canoe (on top of a pack), and I sit in the back. Several times she looked back at me and lifted her paw to hit the pack that she was on. I tested and was able to catch lows. Really, during the entire trip, I only had 5 lows. That's 8 days of rugged exercise with only 5 LOWS!! Amazing. Dixie was able to alert when I was still in the average range, and I could make adjustments by turning down my basal rate (or turning it off) or having some gel.

It's hard to believe that school workshops start in two weeks, and I'll be back to work. Honestly, where does the time go?

Molly and Dixie

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dblog day 6 - pictures

Just a couple snapshots of life with diabetes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Let's get moving - dblog day 5

Exercise . . . love it or hate it?

I'd be outright lying if I said I love it. I'd be lying if I said I hate it. I'm more of a middle of the roader.

I like taking rugged canoe trips into the BWCA or Quetico Provincial Park. I love paddling all day, walking through the woods with a canoe on my shoulders, and slogging through thigh-high mud while dragging a canoe. Unfortunately, I can't do that every day. Shoot. All day consistent exercise is much easier to deal with. I turn my pump down most of the day, and test often. I don't seem to have many lows during those trips.

I walk. Every day when I'm working, I take Dixie for a short walk twice during the day. I cut my lunch short and walk with Dixie. It's not long, but it's consistent. It's a lot more fun doing in nice weather than it is in the middle of the winter, or when it's raining. Even then the two of us are outside.

I have a Wii Fit. I like to use it. (some of the activities more than others! I hate the bird flapping mission. I can't figure it out. I'm a master at the tight rope.) I use it, though not as much as I need to.

I have a house that needs to be cleaned. I remind myself that sweating while vacuuming an entire house is a workout.

During the summer months, I find it easier to get into a workout routine. I have weights, and like to use them a couple times a week. I through in some elliptical or walking, and find that I can easily fit it into the day.

School months are challenging. I'm not a morning person. I haven't been able to bring myself to waking earlier and working out. When I get home from teaching, I'm spent. And it's so easy to just crash. Really, when all is said and done, I only end up having about 4-5 hours M-F that are my own. Exercise often moves to the bottom of the list.

I need to keep working on it.

It's easy to think of when there's only 21 days of school left!

Oh, and by the way....Dixie loves to exercise. She loves walks, running, and digging. She doesn't mind getting muddy or rained on in the process.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To carb or not to carb

Hmmm. To carb or not to carb is today's posting prompt. I guess my answer is yes.

I have been counting carbs for my entire adult life. As a kid, I was on the old exchange system diet.

I don't eat low carb. Or, I should say, I don't make a conscious effort to eat low carb all the time. I tried limiting carbs when I thought that was the easy answer, but it made me feel sick and lethargic all the time and it ended quickly. Now I make eating decisions based on my current blood glucose and trends.

I'm a creature of habit. I usually eat the same thing for breakfast and the same thing for lunch every day. Breakfast is usually some kind of granola bar. (Luna, MoJo, etc) Lunch is a lettuce/vegie salad.

I'm not much of a snacker during the day. If I have a snack, it's because I'm low.

Dinner is a wild card. If my number is higher, I eat low carb. If my number is lower, I eat carbs.

I tend to avoid food that are frustrating to try and bolus for. This includes baked potatoes, white rice, pizza, and pasta. I have an allergy to many fruits (especially citrus). I like many vegies. I like to eat a dinner that contains three items. Not sure if I got that from my old exchange system days, but it's pretty programmed into me. Sometimes pickles have to count as the third item. :-)

Dixie, on the other hand, loves meat and the low carb lifestyle. She is quite content with a dinner of steak and chicken, thank you very much.

PS. Every year on my diabetes anniversary I eat chocolate cake and beer. Just saying that it's worked so far! 34 years!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My support

I am fortunate to have so many people supporting me every day and in different ways.

My parents were there when I was diagnosed. They taught me that diabetes was not what defined me. They taught me self confidence and to be proud of my accomplishments. They never made me feel like an inconvenience or that I was different. They allowed me to be independent, and to make my own mistakes. They supported me helped me learn to understand diabetes.

My brother and sister put up with me. :-) Their lives were affected because of my diabetes, but I never felt like they resented me for that. My sister, who was deathly afraid of needles, learned to give me a shot for a silly reason. We were on a vacation and I forgot syringes. The only kind available to buy were different from the brand that I used. I just couldn’t fathom using it. So my sister gave me a shot... because she loved me. As an adult, I realize that my brother and sister had to live a different kind of life because I have diabetes. They are my family, and they have been my support through everything.

My friends that I made while at Camp Needlepoint were amazingly important support. It was at camp that I realized that other people had diabetes. It was there that I felt in the majority for the first time in my short life. Some of the kids that I went to camp with are still close friends of mine today, and I rely on their perspective and help problem solving. I met B. when we were both 8 years old. We grew up together, writing each other letters during the year that said, “only 285 days until camp.” We cherished our relationship. We didn’t have much in common. Different interests, different lifestyles. But we both had diabetes, and that was most important. She went on an insulin pump first, when she became pregnant. She made it safe for me to try and to know that I wouldn’t be alone. We have laughed and cried together. I wouldn’t have made it through my teen age years without her. 30 years later, we are still friends.

I have friends at work who I trust and appreciate.

My teaching partner is my school family. She was with me when hypoglycemia unawareness reared its ugly head. She found juice and found ways to get me to drink, even when I was uncooperative at times. She recognizes the work involved in living with diabetes, and encourages and supports me. When I decided to pursue getting a diabetes alert dog, she helped to set up fund raising and made me believe it was possible. Without judging or hesitation, she lets me bring a big, black dog to work every day. She supports me to eat a healthy lunch, and cuts up the vegies for our salad every day.

My friend W, who also works at school with me, loves my dog. She keeps me grounded in where I’m at. She acknowledges the effort that I put in to managing my diabetes. She brings Dixie birthday presents in gift bags. (which Dixie LOVES-- the bag as much as the present!!) She picks ticks off of her, and scratches her every day. She makes my job easier because of her skills with kids.

The friends from the D-OC who I’ve met up with are amazing. Their support doesn’t usually come live, but via posts and responses. I appreciate their willingness to share ideas and help me celebrate the daily victories.

Then there’s my Dixie. The dog who loves me unconditionally. The dog who is with me every day. She has changed my life. She is wise beyond her years. I trust her.

To all my friends, my family, and Dixie... thank you for your support. You’re the best.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making the Low Go...

When I was first diagnosed, my mom made a little pouch for me to hold a pack of lifesavers. She would pin the pouch into all my pants and shorts. As I became more daring, I would take a couple lifesavers each day. My mom would ask why I ate 2 or 3 lifesavers and I would say, “because I had a little reaction.” (this mostly happened when she stocked my pouch with butter rum lifesavers. Or when I could sneak a little peak through the end of a regular pack and see that the white one was on the end. Then I would always eat that one) Honestly, how could I ever really know when I was low. Urine testing wasn’t accurate and that was the only reference I had. I said that I felt low, and my parents treated me. They didn't have me run to the bathroom to do a urine test. (since it wouldn't give good information anyway!) I might have been low my entire childhood. No wonder my grades were never very good. I was probably hypoglycemic (or hyperglycemic) through a good part of elementary school. :-)

When I was a kid, I used to love using regular pop for a low. As a child, the only diet pop available were Tab, Fresca, and Diet 7up. I used to stand in the convenience store oogling over the choices of regular pop. Oh, how I longed to have a swig of Tahitian Treat or Orange Crush. As a kid, my mom used to let me have some pop to treat a low.

I’m pretty boring when it comes to treating lows now. I guess the boring part comes from figuring out what works best, and sticking to it.

If I’m low in the middle of the night, or early morning, I drink Juicy Juice small apple juice boxes. Depending on the number, I might have a packet of GU energy gel too. Don’t get me wrong... I have no intention of expending energy in the middle of the night. I use that because it’s simple and easy to eat. Just rip open the package, squeeze the contents in my mouth, done.

Dixie carries GU packets in her vest. When I first got Dixie, I tried a couple different items in her vest. Most things ended up melting or being too bulky for her to lay on. GU smooshes flat and I can keep a couple packets in her vest. I use GU when I need something quick during the day.

At school, I keep juice boxes, GU, gatorade, and fruit snacks. I use different combinations of the three things depending on my number, time since/until a meal, and how much time I have to treat.

I try to avoid eating for lows whenever possible. Dixie helps with that. She will often alert to tell me that I have too much insulin on board. (because of some wild a-- bolus or guessing at carb counts for mixed foods) When that happens, I have figured out how much/how long to turn my basal rate down. When Dixie alerts and I’m in the 70s, I will usually not eat, I’ll just turn my basal off for a half hour. I use Gatorade or Powerade sometimes when I just need “a little something.” (for an alert from Dixie in the high 60s, I can take a couple swigs of Gatorade, turn my rate off for an hour, and coast)

Those are my preferred low strategies. Thanks to Dixie, I can make more subtle adjustments to my basal rate to anticipate or prevent a low.

Monday, May 10, 2010

One day at a time

8:30 am - no alarm set today because it’s Saturday. A black paw hits at my arm, which is hanging off of the side of the bed. I reach over and pet her head, then roll over. Now a black paw is hitting me on the back. All right. I reach over on the table and grab my tester. Load it up with a strip and poke. Countdown, then a number appears in the screen. 56. I open a straw wrapper and push it in the juice box. The black dog sighs and leaves the room. I drink the juice and then fall back to sleep.

9:55 am - I wake up. Stretch. Get out of bed. The black dog is happy that I’m finally awake. Check blood sugar. Happy that I had the whole juice box earlier because blood sugar is still a little low. (78) Have a piece of toast. Bolus for 15 grams of carb with correction for 78.

10:30 am - Disconnect pump and hit the shower. After, dry off and then reconnect. It was a short shower so I didn’t use the disconnect feature to cover the missed basal rate.

10:45 am - Check blood sugar to check that I gave right amount for toast.

1:00 pm - Time for lunch. Check blood sugar and bolus for carbs.

2:15pm- Black dog starts hitting me with her paw. I check. Blood sugar is 135. I check Insulin on board. Shoot. I overbolused for guessed carb content. Turn basal rate down to 10% for an hour to correct.

3:30 pm - Check blood sugar to make sure that I turned basal rate down enough to make up for the overbolus at lunch. I guessed right this time. Blood sugar is holding steady.

5:00 pm - Check blood sugar. Still holding steady.

6:30 pm - Check blood sugar before driving. Load black dog in the back of the car. Drive to restaurant to meet friends for dinner.

7:00 pm - Check blood sugar. Give bolus for estimated carbs in dinner and beer. Black dog seems to agree with bolus. She continues to snooze under the table at the restaurant. People are starring at the black dog and me. Someone comes over to the table and asks if the dog is in training. I say no. Then the person asks if I’m almost blind. I say no, and tell the story of what Dixie’s job is. The person says that she’s never heard of that before, but she has an uncle with “brittle” diabetes who has had his foot amputated.

8:45 pm - Get in the car and check blood sugar before driving. Guessed carb content pretty well, so I'm in a good zone and ready to drive home. Roll back windows down in the parking lot so the black dog can sniff the air outside.

10:00 pm - Give black dog some treats and snuggles. She loves having a bedtime snack.

10:30 pm - Check blood sugar one last time before bed.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April? Really?

Yikes. It's April already. And not just April... the end of April quickly approaching May. Seriously, where does the time go?

This photo is from our spring vacation up north in March. The weather (even on the Canadian border) was unseasonably warm and Dixie (and I) had a wonderful time. She loves sitting outside and just watching and being part of nature.

I also visited the endo in March. Not much new on the diabetes front. A1c is holding steady, Vitamin D level was finally in the average range, BP is fine, Kidneys are healthy, and all other random labs were fine.

This week, a special aired on PBS. If you didn't catch it... it was an amazing show about service dogs. Through a Dog's Eyes.

Here's looking at Dixie's eyes right after she dug a nice hole on vacation. :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Passed from my friend, Kathy. :-)

I have to admit. Life has been crazy busy lately. School is nuts. I had the second stage of a dental implant done last Thursday. (which was PAINFUL!) As much as I enjoy blogging, I have let it slip the last few months. I still read blogs daily, but just can't seem to pull it together and post.

So... Dixie is still a super dog. She loves the snow and is a happy dog romping around in the yard.

I saw this on Kathy's blog and thought, "better late than never."

Here are my responses to the survey:

1. Where is your cell phone? in my pocket.

2. Your hair? in need of a cut

3. Your mother? Living and working in the Twin Cities.

4. Your father? Living and working in a small town outside of the Twin Cities.

5. Your favorite food? deli sandwiches

6. Your dream last night? hmmm. don't remember

7. Your favorite drink? Diet Mountain Dew.

8. Your dream/goal? Be the best I can be.

9. What room are you in? Living room/Great room.

10. Your hobby? canoeing, camping, shopping for fun camping gear.

11. Your fear? Chronic Pain

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here.

13. Where were you last night? Home watching the Vikings game. (Booo!)

14. Something you aren't? Tall.

15. Muffins? Carrot.

16. Wish list item? Pool.

17. Where did you grow up? A suburb of Minneapolis.

18. Last thing you did? Worked on report cards.

19. What are you wearing? Jeans and a Dam Diabetes sweatshirt.

20. Your tv? Samsung.

21. Your pets? Dixie, the service dog and Ella, the cute pet dog.

22. Your friends? Mean the world to me.

23. Your life? Crazy busy right now.

24. Your mood? Calm .

25. Missing someone? Yes. My friend, Kim who stopped communicating with me over a year ago. Not sure why, but so very sad about it.

26. Vehicle? Yep. Subaru Forrester.

27. Something you're not wearing? One earring. The back fell off and I can't find it, so I only have one one right now.

28. Your favorite store? REI

29. Your favorite color? Red

30. When was the last time you laughed? This morning.

31. Cried? On Saturday when my mouth was hurting and I was frustrated with it.

32. Your best friend? K.

33.One place that I go over and over? canoeing in the BWCA.

34. One person who emails me regularly? MS, a good friend from New Mexico and W, a friend from work.

35. Favorite place to eat? Paddy Ryans