Saturday, December 20, 2014

Researcher Needs Volunteers

 If any of you are dealign with diabetic kidney disease, a medical research company could use your help.

Here are the details:

My name is Laura Greer, I work with The Henne Group, www.thehennegroup.com, a small medical research company in San Francisco. We are contacting you to see if you can help us with our new project. We are looking for people, patients who are managing Diabetic Kidney Disease. We will be conducting in person interviews in different cities across the US. starting on the third week of January and participants will receive $100 as a thank you incentive to compensate for their time and effort.

No attempt will be made to sell anything or influence their thinking, and all participation is confidential.

If you think you can help us to spread the information of this study please feel free to post this email or to contact me by phone or email. If you know anyone who is interested, they can contact us on our phone number 415-348-2986 or 877.737.5782 x 286.

People can see if they qualify to do the study by taking this survey:
http://surveys.thehennegroup.com/survey/intweb.dll/project/cawi/1416_DKD_CAWI

My direct line, if you have any questions is 415.348.2918
 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Did I remember or forget an insulin shot?

When it comes to looking after my own diabetes, I have my pump to help me. I can look at my history and see if I remembered to bolus for that chocolate doughnut. Remembering if I gave my dog her insulin shot is becoming a problem.

I knew the day April was diagnosed, giving her insulin would become a routine. Routines are good and dangerous. My typical morning begins the same way:

1. Get up and take care of business.
2. Take April the diabetic dog and her best friend, Honey outside.
3. Come back inside with the dogs and clean up any puddles April left overnight.
4. Greet daughter while she feeds her cat, Cyclone.
5. Feed Fresh Air and Sunshine, my twin cats
6. Feed April
7. Feed Honey
8. Give April her shot--21u NPH.
9. Drive Evelyn to work

Unless, Evelyn has to be at work early. Then I do steps 1-3. Skip ahead to step 9, add a step 4.5 and feed Evelyn's cat, Cyclone. Then I do steps 5-8.

This morning I took my daughter to work early. I came home and fed all pets. Did I remember April's shot? I think I did. Wait, did I? Oh no, I can't remember. Open fridge, find an empty syringe. OK, no I didn't give April her breakfast insulin. Give April her shot. Whew.

Then there is Saturday morning. Saturday morning I sleep in, and my husband feeds April and gives her a shot. Unless, he is napping on the couch and I don't want to disturb him and then I give April a second breakfast and a second shot. OK, that happened once, but wow did that suck.

Do you know what a dog looks like with a blood glucose of 22? I do. Shaking, trembling, stumbling, glassy-eyed and very scary. Did you know a dog will not eat glucose tablets, or drink juice, or eat Smarties, or caramel sauce? We stuffed her mouth full of vanilla frosting. Followed by more vanilla frosting and peanut butter once her BG stabilized. That was so scary. Never again.

Steve and I now have a system in place on weekends. I assume he gave April her breakfast and insulin, unless he says otherwise. So, double insulin doses won't happen again. 42u of NPH at once scared the crap out of us. Morning pet feeding is a daily routine for me and it's hard to skip feeding April on the weekends. Steve reminds me and that helps.

Honey and Sunshine 2013
In the evening, I feed all pets again in the same order: Cyclone first, Fresh Air and Sunshine second, April is fed third and Honey is fed last. The hierarchy keeps things peaceful. Dogs are pack animals. Animals higher in status eat first. Humans-->cats-->dogs is how we avoid any food aggression in our home. I can feed a cat that is sitting on top of a dog, and not worry the dog will snap at the cat. There is only one alpha bitch in our house: me. Everyone knows their standing, and everything is peaceful between pets.

Remembering insulin is the only pet problem I have. I think I will start marking syringes with blue and orange marker. Blue for breakfast, orange for dinner. That way I will know at a glance if I gave April her insulin. If I see a syringe with a blue line on it in the fridge, I forgot April's breakfast insulin. If I see an orange mark, and it is morning, I remembered and replaced the syringe for dinner time.

This could be helpful for people, too. If you use syringes, marking them with marker could let you know at a glance if you gave yourself a shot or not. Timesulin caps for insulin pens are a good idea, too. I use the history function on my pump every day to keep myself on track.

April doing her thing in 2014
Looking after a dog with diabetes requires some extra patience. High blood sugar leads to excessive thirst which leads to puddles in the house. On the plus side, keeping April's blood sugar steady is easier than it is for people, because she is content to eat the same food at every meal. Except sometimes she steals bread off the table. Or gets in the garbage. Still, most of the time we have a good balance and I am grateful.


April is a normal dog who happens to have diabetes. We're doing all we can to look after her. She will be 12 in February, which is old for a weimaraner. She is about 89 in human years. April has two autoimmune diseases: Addison's disease and type 1 diabetes. Both April and I have multiple autoimmune diseases and we both do what we can to deal with it. April hasn't let it wreck her life. I won't let it wreck my life either.

Since I mentioned my pets, I think it's fair to add a few pet pics. Here are the Smith Family kids:


 Cyclone, my daughter's cat. (She pays for his food and vet bills. Her pet, not mine.)


A good mouser and a good boy. I love my grand-cat.


Fresh Air and Sunshine are my cats. Fresh Air is wearing a tuxedo. 
Sunshine is all black and softer than mink. They are both rescued barn cats and littermates. 
They came to live with us in November 2013.
 
 
 We call them "the twins." If you took a gumdrop, dipped it in honey, and rolled it in powdered sugar, it would be no where near as sweet as these two cats. They are amazing friends and I love them dearly. I've had cats for 25 years. These two may be the best cats I've ever known. Fresh Air purrs when he sees me. I don't even have to pet him and he starts purring. Sunshine makes me laugh because she's a clown and kind of dopey in a sweet sort of way.
"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

Honey. My retired service dog, chemo buddy and all around best friend. She is much younger in this picture. Honey just turned 12 in August.


The one and only April, my husband's dog and our loyal friend.


"When the Man waked up he said, 'What is Wild Dog doing here?' And the Woman said, 'His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.'" —Rudyard Kipling



Monday, December 1, 2014

Good Vibes


I am vibrating with excitement for two reasons today.

Reason number 1: Check out Kerri's blog. YES! OH YES!

Reason number 2: I won NaNoWriMo. For those who have no idea what that is, National Novel Writing Month was in November. I sat down on November 1st and began a novel. I completed a 50,000 word novel draft by November 30th. I have always wanted to do the NaNoWriMo challenge, but I've never been able to do it.

Until this year.

After four years of creative drought, finishing a novel draft made me feel alive again. I love blogging, and writing non-fiction, but writing stories gives my life meaning. I've been lost and disconnected inside without having a story to write. I knew the only thing that would heal me was writing fiction, but I couldn't find my storyteller voice. It was stuck. I was stuck. I've been sad inside for many years, because I couldn't write a story.

Last month, I found my voice. I wrote an entire novel in a month. I feel like I've reconnected with myself. It feels good to be back home.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Trying out the Comfort Short

I've been using Inset 30's since I started pumping. Once I got over the fear of the introducing needle, I learned how to put on a new set without too many tears.

The one thing I couldn't get used to was the sound of the insertion device snapping. I'd wince every time I heard it. Line up the little plastic feet against my skin. Adjust the angle. Adjust it again. Take a deep breath and get ready to squeeze the trigger buttons. Wait. I didn't do it. Take another deep breath and SNAP! Wow, that's loud. Way too loud. Scares me silly every time. SNAP! Knowing it just jabbed that long needle into my flesh was bad enough. The SNAP sent me around the bend. There had to be a better way.

After I use my Inset 30, I reach in the center of it with a needle nose pliers and pull out the plastic needle. I toss that plastic bit in the sharps container and recycle the rest of the freaky little race car. I have hyperacusis from myasthenia gravis. The little muscles that move the bones in my ears get weak. When that happens, the entire world is way too loud. Sound hurts. It's like someone put in earbuds with the music full blast. Only, it's every sound everywhere and there is no escape until MG decides to move somewhere less annoying.

I needed to change my set. The eeeeee-eeeeee-eeeeeee of my pump rewinding was so loud I left the room. I couldn't deal with the SNAP from the Inset 30. So, I looked inside the Inset 30, and discovered I could rip the needle and the set loose from the insertion device. This left me with a long needle with an unused set still attached. I fumbled around a bit, and discovered I could put in a set without the insertion device.

It was quiet. It didn't hurt as much because the needle wasn't pushed into my skin with a spring loaded SNAP. After I taped it in place, I realized maybe I should look into a different set. My next order was the Comfort Short.

From Here


This picture from Animas makes the set look less intimidating. Flip the set over and the needle is a lot longer. Still, once I got over the fear of sticking that long needle in my skin, I found I like the Comfort Short.

There are two differences I've noticed.

1. The connection from the tubing to the set is not universal. There is only one way to connect it. Flip the connector upside down and it won't click in place. This is different from the Inset 30.

2. The tubing is more opaque, and the texture isn't as smooth. The plus side? My cat doesn't seem to like chewing the tubing.


The Comfort Short is not for the needle phobic. There's nothing between you and the reality of a long needle going into your skin. But, you can go at your own pace, and there's not a loud snapping noise. I think it's going to work well for me. YDMV.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

16 Years Cancer Free

My cancer free anniversary came and went without me even pausing to notice it. Sixteen years ago a tumor was wrapped around my aorta twice. Sixteen years ago my sternum was split in half with an electric saw. Sixteen years.

I was 29. Now I am... not 29.
My daughter was eight. Now she is 24.
Weeks after my surgery, my husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. In just a few days, on September 9th, is our 25th wedding anniversary.

During the last 16 years, the trees in my garden have grown taller. My dark hair has fallen out from chemo. And grown back. And fallen out again from more chemo. And grown back all over again. Now it is streaked with gray.

After my surgery, I got carded at the liquor store. Now my daughter gets carded. Through my bifocals, I watch her pull out her ID. When she pours herself a cocktail, I wrestle back the urge to tell her, "Hey, what are you doing!" Then I remember she is 24 and I am... not young anymore.

Aging means aches and pains in the morning. It means middle age spread. It means wrinkles and gray hair. And it means you have survived. You survived close calls and near misses. You survived failures and set backs. You have been knocked over, and pushed down, and held down, and stressed to tears. And gotten back up again. You have learned to deal with pain, because pain is as much a part of life as laughter. No one tells you this. You learn it the hard way, the ugly way, the way that leaves seven inch surgical scars that still ache 16 years later when you turn your head to back up the car in the driveway.

Aging is the most amazing thing that can happen. It is proof you lived, even when death was an option. Aging is a gift to be celebrated. Gray hair, scars, and all.

Monday, August 11, 2014

If Suicide Makes Sense

Today the world learned Robin Williams committed suicide. I'm feeling shocked and saddened. I've read comments that he had everything to live for, that he was selfish, and on and on they go. The hard truth is, when someone is badly depressed, everything stops making sense. Everything is dark and the pain is excruciating. I am so sorry Robin was in so much pain. I couldn't help him. Maybe I can help you.

If I had to choose between having a nine hour chest cracking cancer surgery again, or be suicidally depressed again, I would choose surgery. It hurts less.

If I had to choose between 24 more cycles of intense chemotherapy again, or be suicidally depressed again, I would choose chemotherapy. It hurts less.

Deep depression is isolating, and frightening, and so painfully lonely that no love can enter inside. Depression feels like being trapped in a hole so deep no light can penetrate. People flippantly say that, "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem," but this just isn't true. If you are trapped in a place without light, or hope, or love, feeling like committing suicide to escape makes sense. When you are that depressed, suicidal thoughts are the only light you can find on your own. And that is a scary place to be.

Suicide is an attempt to solve a problem of intense emotional pain with impaired problem-solving skills--Kalafat & Underwood, 1989

 Thoughts of suicide feel like a comfort, and way out of this hellish trap. Suicide is the only way out  you can come up with to make the pain stop. If you are in that place right now, and found this blog because you are suicidal, please understand this: The reason you cannot escape the dark is because someone else has the key to let you out.

You need to ask someone for the key. Tell someone that you hurt inside. Someone who won't laugh it off. Someone who will hear you. You can call emergency services, or go to the hospital. Speak to a doctor. Speak to a crisis hotline. A teacher. A neighbor. A parent. A spouse. A sibling. A friend. The person who hears you has the key to unlock this dark pit.

You don't have the key, and you can't think your way out of depression. You need to ask someone to help you escape. They will unlock the door and lead you to the help you need. The key exists. I know it does, because someone unlocked the door for me. I am alive and well now. It wasn't easy to get better, but I did get better. So will you.

There are medications that can help. Doctors and nurses who can help. There are tools you can learn to help you problem solve. There is hope on the other side of the dark pit. Ask someone for help. Please. I've lost three friends to suicide, and I don't want to lose another friend. If you are here reading my blog, you're my friend. Your life matters to me, even if it doesn't matter to you right now. If you hurt so much inside that suicide makes sense, please get help. Please.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Good News

We increased April's insulin dose and now she is back to her old tricks.






I never thought I would be glad to see April getting into the garbage. Thanks to insulin, we have our old dog back. I'm a lot less stressed now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Slow and Steady Makes Me Crazy

Yesterday's blood sugar readings:

8:00 -- 509
11:00 -- 478
2:00 -- 482
5:00 -- 537
8:00 -- 486

This morning's fasting blood sugar: 533

The only good news is, these aren't my numbers. They are my dog April's numbers. My dog's blood is turning into pancake syrup. I see these numbers and I want to scream DO SOMETHING! I call the vet and she is worried about April going low.

Low. LOW? Are you sh*tting me? If April had a low, I would have a party in celebration! A low would be welcome news. Treat the low, adjust insulin back one unit, and move on. A fasting BG of 533? All I see is death. I fear I am watching my dog die from under-treated diabetes.

April is still losing weight. At this point I am afraid to walk her around the block because someone will call the ASPCA on me for not feeding her. Her rib bones are sticking out. Her hip bones are showing. I can see her spine. This dog is going to die from high blood sugar and my vet is worried about going low.

Maybe if I didn't know what high blood sugar feels like it wouldn't bother me so much. Maybe ignorance is bliss. I know what super high blood sugar feels like. It feels like you're gonna die. This super conservative approach to April's diabetes is making me crazy.

Slow and steady might win the race, but at least running around in circles feels like doing something. I want to bang my head against the wall. We just adjusted her up 4 more units a day. I hope it's better. It has to be better. I can't take much more of this.

Disclaimer

I am not a doctor. I do not have a medical degree. Nothing on this site qualifies as medical advice. These are lessons I'm learning at the University of Catastrophe. What I find to be correct answers in my classes may not be the right answers for you.

If you are enrolled with your own major at the University of Catastrophe, please consult your doctor, therapist, attorney, auto mechanic, veterinarian, plumber, dietician, arborist, acupuncturist, manicurist, mother, local dairy council, shoe shine boy, or other equally qualified professional, for advice and assistance.

If you email me your personal information will not be shared without your permission and your email address will not be sold. I hate spam. Even with eggs.

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