Friday, November 22, 2013

Insulin for Life

I am a diabetic. I take insulin for life. Without it, I'll die. Getting insulin is easy for me. All I have to do to get more is trot down the street to Walgreens. Diabetes isn't easy for me to live with, but getting the insulin I need is as simple and easy as that. November is Diabetes Awareness Month. I write this blog to document what life is like with myasthenia gravis and diabetes. But, even on my hardest days, I always have access to insulin that lets me live and thrive.

After the tornadoes hit my state this week, my first thought was to my brothers and sisters living with diabetes. Even with houses destroyed and neighborhoods ruined, people living with diabetes in Illinois still have access to the supplies they need just because they live in the USA. Too many people aren't as fortunate.

For me, diabetes is frustrating, annoying, frightening, and upsetting. But, I never have to worry about this happening to me and my family:

Just like Sujata, adding insulin to my life felt like a miracle. I went from being deathly sick to feeling immesurably better with just with a few drops of insulin a day. Insulin matters so much to me, I want to share the gift with others. That's why I support Insulin for Life.

As you know, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines. Unlike my brothers and sisters in downstate Illinois, access to insulin and strips is hard to come by after the storm. Insulin For Life is holding an appeal to deliver needed supplies to the Philippines. They need your help. You can donate on their website right here:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Low Blood Sugar Response Squad

My kittens have made up for munching through my insulin pump tubing in a big way. Last night my Dexcom went off with the 55 low alarm. I'm a deep sleeper. Sometimes I sleep through Dexcom alarms. I wish there was a Shrieking Banshee mode, an alarm so loud it would wake the neighbors, but I would sleep through that, too. The 55 low alarm didn't wake me up, but it did wake up Fresh Air and Sunshine.

My kittens climbed on me and that woke me up. They started meowing and walked around my head until I sat up. Both kittens stayed with me while I treated the low, which took about half an hour. Low blood sugars at night scare me. Being low is disorienting any time of day, but being jarred out of sleep makes it worse.

Fresh Air and Sunshine stayed with me the whole time. They were my low blood sugar response squad, and I was so glad they were there.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Are My Kittens Trying To Kill Me?

Sometimes when I get a high blood sugar, I know exactly went wrong. I ate more carbs than I expected. Or, I planned on giving myself an insulin bolus after a meal, and totally forgot about it. When this happens, I correct and move on.

Other times, a high BG comes as a total surprise. These high blood sugars take a little detective work to figure out. Is the insulin in my pump bad? Is my set faulty? Did I get my pump tubing twisted on a door knob and yank out my set... again?

Recently I had an experience like that. I woke up to a shrieking Dexcom. I tested and my blood sugar was 303. What the Fructose? I didn't even have a snack. I reached down to check my pump tubing and found it was split completely in half.

That did not happen when I rolled over on my pump tubing. This was no accident. While I was sleeping someone soft, fuzzy, and cuddly deliberately chewed through my insulin pump tubing. I have a paranoid feeling that my kittens are trying to kill me.

Let's have a look at our two suspects.

Was it dear little Sunshine? Look at her innocent little face. She is gentle and sweet. Would she eat through an insulin pump tube? Is this the face of an attempted murderer?

Or was it Fresh Air? He's as sweet as a gumdrop dipped in honey and rolled in powdered sugar. Aw, look at him. He's chewing on a little rag toy. Would Fresh Air try to kill me?

The answer is, yes. Yes, they are trying to kill me. My kittens have discovered I keep my insulin pump in my pocket. Every chance they get, Fresh Air and Sunshine dig at my pocket to get at my pump tubing. When I'm awake I redirect them to something appropriate to play with. There's nothing I can do when I am asleep.

Right before I fall asleep, the two of them conspire. They speak out their plans in whisper soft purrs. I used to think purring was a sign of contentment, but now I think that rhythmic sound is designed to induce sleep in their human prey. Purr. Purr. Go to sleep. All is well. Go to sleep. I'm not trying to kill you. Relax. That's it. Good Marie. Now, let's eat her insulin pump tubing! Duo Kitten Tag Team Activate!

Tonight I'm going to curl my excess tubing into a coil and tape it to my body with Flexifix. If anyone has any other suggestions on how to kitten proof an insulin pump, can you let me know? Thanks.

Monday, November 11, 2013

What The Fructose?

This morning I woke up and my fasting BG was over 200. What the Fructose? My morning BG is never that high. I got an insulin pump because of serious dawn phenomenon that couldn't be managed with Levemir or Lantus.

Dawn Phenomenon is a rise in blood sugar that occurs between 4 and 8 AM.

From the American Diabetes Association:
"Between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., the body increases the production of certain hormones. These
natural body chemicals suppress the activity of insulin, a hormone that transports glucose
into cells to use for energy and reduces blood sugar levels.

The hormones include:

Growth hormone
Epinephrine (adrenaline)

These hormones trigger the liver to release enough glucose to give the body the energy
to wake up. In non-diabetic people, the body responds to the excess glucose that
accumulates as a result of this process by producing insulin. The insulin then moves the
excess glucose into the cells. However, people with diabetes either fail to produce insulin
or cannot properly use the insulin that is available. As a result, glucose continues to rise
to abnormally high levels (hyperglycemia)" 

Since I got my insulin pump I have never had a fasting blood sugar over 200. Until today. What the Fructose is going on? I looked at my insulin pump tubing a little more closely and saw little punctures in it. What could have caused something like that.

Suspect A: Sunshine Smith


Or was it Suspect B: Fresh Air Smith


I took these mugshots this morning. Sunshine is fascinated with my insulin pump tubing, so I'm thinking she is responsible. Either way, they have the right to remain adorable. Any infractions will not be held against them. They have the right to be kittens and I'm the dummy who let my pump get too close to their little kitten teeth. 

I sleep with my insulin pump stuffed inside a stuffed ladybug. Tomorrow night I'll have to secure the tubing a little better. Speaking of better, I'm doing better. Adding two lively kittens has ruined my sleep, but improved my mental health, and that is making all the difference. Joy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Better Times Ahead

Yesterday was a tough day. We went to a memorial service for my husband's cousin, Russ. It was good to be with the Smith side of the family, even though I was sad. I love them all a ton. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially two goodbyes in one day. When we came home from the memorial service, our 16-year-old cat Neptune crashed from kidney failure. Half an hour after getting home I was at the vet. Neptune was put to sleep around 5 pm. It was the kindest thing I could do for her, but it was hard.

I felt so empty. For the first time in 25 years, I didn't have a cat to love. I mentioned in my last post that we've had two deaths in the family this year.  It's been dark inside our lives. What my family needed today was a little bit of fresh air and sunshine.


I'd like you to meet the two newest members of the Smith Family...

This is Fresh Air, my first tuxedo cat. He has quite a dapper mustache.

And this is Sunshine. She is our lucky black cat.

These two are bringing new life and new joy to our family. They are former barn cats. A professional kitten cuddler brings just weaned barn cats into her home, cuddles them, and socializes them, so they make excellent pets. Fresh Air purrs as soon as I touch him. Sunshine takes about three seconds longer, but she has a lovely purr. They are brother and sister and about 12-weeks-old. They've already figured out how to get on the bed, and how to raise plenty of chaos, and make us laugh. It was very hard to get these pictures because these kitties are built for speed.

On a day when I didn't think anything would make me smile, I needed a little Fresh Air and Sunshine to brighten up my day. I hope they brightened up your day, too.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Having a hard time

I know it's diabetes awareness month, but I'm having a hard time. Yesterday I found out my husband's cousin died. Russ was 45 and very dear to our family. He had cancer and fought hard. My heart hurts for his mom and brother and sisters. I close my eyes and I see his smile. Russ had a wonderful way of being in the world and it's not the same without him. We always celebrated Thanksgiving with cousin Laurie and her baby brother Russ was always there. Now there will be a vacant chair.

At the same time my 16-year-old cat is dying. She's skinny and stopped eating. I've had cats for 25 years and I've been down this sad road before. I'm in the middle of trying to decide to have my cat euthanized, or just let her pass away on her heating pad. Neptune doesn't appear to be in pain. She's just weak and sleeps all the time.

Part of me thinks the humane thing to do is take her to the vet and have her put to sleep. The other part of me has dealt with too much death this year already. My mother-in-law died in July, and Russ died yesterday. Now Neptune... I'm lost in the weeds today, unable to tell if I'm heartbroken over my mother-in-law, Russ or my sweet cat. It's all a lump of sadness.

Diabetes awareness month and National Novel Writing Month are both in November. I always wanted to try the NaNoWriMo challenge and perhaps I still will. I don't know how much help I can be in promoting diabetes awareness right now, except to say that emotions impact my blood sugar as much, or even more than, food sometimes. Grief is a roller coaster ride.

The diabetes management skills I'm practicing now are:

  • Remembering to test, even when I don't feel like it.
  • Remembering to eat, even when I don't feel like it.
  • Remembering to bolus, maintain my pump sites, and my pump.
  • Remembering to exercise, especially when I don't feel like it.
  • Remembering to be kind to myself and my family, because sometimes life punches like a fist in the face, and we need to help one another fend off the blows.
I am in tears and I can't see my computer. More later.



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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