Friday, March 28, 2014

Medicare: Cover CGM's Now!

I live in tornado alley. A few years ago the sirens sounded and my family took cover. Across the street, trees were uprooted. Trees fell over on fences and garages. The tornado really did sound like a freight train. The sirens gave us enough warning to get to safety. I'm grateful my government provides that protection for the community.

Diabetes is like living in tornado alley. You never know when trouble is going to strike. Wouldn't it be great if someone invented an early warning system? Something small that I could carry in my pocket that would sound an alarm before I had a seizure from low blood sugar? Or how about a device that sounded a warning that my blood sugar was dangerously high? Wouldn't that device be life saving?

The early warning system for people with diabetes does exist. It's called Continuous Glucose Monitoring. I carry one in my pocket. Most of the time it is quiet and monitors things in the background. But every few days, I get an alarm.

Not only does the graph show my blood sugar is 50. It has an arrow pointing down letting me know my blood sugar is falling. Now is the time to intervene before something tragic happens.

This time my blood sugar was going up in the middle of the night. The high blood sugar warning sounded. I woke up and discovered the cat had chewed through my insulin pump tubing. Once again my CGM saved me from disaster.

A CGM is an early warning system that I have come to rely on. It's something I feel my life depends on. When I found out Medicare doesn't cover CGM I was surprised. Then I was angry. A device this remarkable needs to be available for people over 65. 

A CGM is as life saving as a tornado warning. Our seniors deserve the same protection I have. Medicare needs to cover them now. 

I'm joining the Crusade for CGM Coverage By Medicare. Do you want to join me? Here's how.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

One of those lows

I had a sneak attack low blood sugar today. I was in the grocery store and it slammed into me out of nowhere. POW!

OK, I need some food. I'm in a store surrounded by food. But there are too many choices and the colors are too bright in here. I know, I'll grab a snack bar. Trudge over to the snack bars. Do I want a LĂ„RABAR? Kind Bar? Power Bar? Special K Bar? Do I want fruit? Nuts? Granola? Soft? Crunchy? Munchy rhymes with crunchy. So does punchy. Punchy. What a funny word. Now, what was I doing here? That's right. I need a bar because I'm low. But, I don't know which one I want. Wow I feel weird. My face is feeling all scrunchy. Which rhymes with crunchy, munchy, punchy... Hey this snack has Chia seeds. Cha-cha-cha Chia.

I have no idea how long I stood in front of these bars just staring and thinking up rhymes. I didn't grab one. The colors were too vivid and confusing. Instead, I left Aisle 12 and walked across the giant store to the deli. By this time my insides started twitching. At the deli I bought chicken salad. Understand, directly behind me was the bakery section full of donuts, cupcakes, cookies and eclairs. But, it didn't occur to me to get a cookie. Nope, I got a half a pound of delicious carb-free chicken salad.

Because I was low.

And going lower.

I managed to pay for my chicken salad at a little kiosk, but by the time I got my four cents in change, I had a hard time putting the money in my wallet. My heart started racing. The rhyming in my head got worse. I started sweating and shaking. Wow, I am low. I need carbs. This salad doesn't have any carbs in it. Why did I buy this? What am I thinking?

My legs didn't want to work anymore, but I mentally slapped myself into staying upright and walking all the way across the store again to the checkout. Candy. I need candy. Candy will fix this. I got a packet of Air Heads. The store was jammed and all 15 checkout lanes were packed. I had that horrible feeling that if I waited in line, I might need to sit down. The lady in front of me with a thousand items in her cart noticed I just needed to get a packet of candy. She let me go ahead.

As I was leaning on the counter, trying to remember which coins were quarters and which ones were dimes, I felt like a foreigner fumbling with unfamiliar currency. Why is there a national forest on the back of this coin? Is this a quarter or not? I felt so lost and confused I almost burst into tears.

While I was trying hard to stay upright and focused, a cartoon flashed through my head. It's from texting my pancreas. (Here's the cartoon: Supreme Awesomeness) Remembering it reminded me I'm not alone in this. I'm not the only one who has had a wicked low in public. In that moment, while I was trying so hard to keep from falling apart, thinking about that cartoon made all the difference. Thanks Kim.

(I ate the candy in the car, and the chicken salad, and waited until I felt OK before driving home. However, what made this whole episode even more ridiculous was I had glucose tablets in my purse the entire time. It didn't occur to me to eat them. Doh!)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Maybe it's not my fault

For the past two weeks my blood sugars have been high and hitting the 300 mark way too often. I've tested, and done corrections, but nothing worked. I've been beating myself into a pulp because I can't get things to work right. Temp basals helped, but I stayed above 200 most of the time, which is not normal for me. I felt like a failure.

So, I started to wonder, am I eating the wrong things? I had a salad with zero carbs for lunch and two hours later my blood sugar was 259. What is going on? Maybe I have a bad set? Yank off insulin pump set, put in a new one. It didn't help.

Maybe the insulin in my pump is bad? I dumped the insulin in my pump and tried again. Now it is even worse than before. Blood sugar 283. Give a correction. Two hours later, blood sugar 268. Finally I got angry. OK, diabetes. You want to play rough, I'll play rough. Rage bolus five units. Take that! Two hours later, blood sugar 234.

What The FRUCTOSE is this? Why is this happening? What am I doing wrong? I stayed awake in bed trying to figure things out. No, that's not true. I stayed awake in bed berating myself for being horrible at diabetes management. I put myself down. After putting myself down, I dragged myself face down through the mud.

But, then I remembered something. Everything went haywire after I opened that new vial. Maybe it's not my fault.

I got a new vial, put in a new set, and my numbers have been averaging 100 points lower ever since. All that time I was beating myself up for having crappy diabetes management, the problem was crappy insulin.

I've learned two things from this:

1. Insulin that lost its potency makes my blood sugar numbers go haywire. It works, but not nearly as well. If my blood sugars are averaging 100 points higher than normal, get a new vial.

2. I also learned not to beat myself up for being crappy at diabetes management. I'm not stellar at it, but I don't suck nearly as badly as I think I do.

I wish I could tell you I've learned not to beat myself up, but... I'm still me. There will be a next time. Hopefully it won't last nearly as long. In the meantime, I'm sorry, Marie. Sorry for being mean.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One potato, two potato

I've been a potato this winter. There. I said it. This winter has me creating a comfortable @ss shaped groove on my sofa. Normally, winter is my favorite season. I love the cold on my face and the smell of snow. I love the beauty of ice sparkling on lakes. Most winters I love walking in the snow. But this winter...

Found here
Winter smacked the Chicago area with an ugly stick this year. We've had 73.9 inches of snow so far. And it is snowing right now. It has snowed 45 days this season. It never snows this much. Our usual snow fall is less than 25 inches a season. Not only is it snowy, but it's been bitter cold.

Usually, I love below zero cold weather, because it is an anomaly that doesn't repeat itself. During the first polar vortex, when it was -19 I was outside playing with boiling water and soap bubbles. The boiling water turns to vapor, and the bubbles freeze in mid-air.

But, then there was a second polar vortex. And another. My spirit animal is a grizzly bear. It's time to hibernate. So, I've read a lot of books and carved a comfortable groove in my sofa. It's been too icy, snowy and cold to take a walk. My balance isn't stable and walking in bad weather is tough for me. Even when I've tried walking outside I've ended up returning to my comfortable couch.

What I have done to get some exercise is store walking. Walking laps around the store, followed by laps through every aisle, and back to laps around the store, gives me a 45 minute walk several times a week. So, technically I haven't been a potato all the time, but without walking outside I feel like a potato.

Does anyone else have trouble exercising in the winter? What are you doing to keep from turning into a potato? I could use some inspiration. 


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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