Wednesday, December 23, 2015

After Darkness There is Light

My blog has been on hiatus since my service dog, Honey died. My entire life has been on hiatus. Matchbox Twenty has a song called, Unwell. The chorus is:

But I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
I know right now you can't tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see
A different side of me
I'm not crazy, I'm just a little impaired
I know right now you don't care
But soon enough you're gonna think of me
And how I used to be, me

I've been unwell since Honey died on July 22. The pause button in my life was set, and I didn't know how to restart. I cried daily, sometimes dozens of times. It's been lonely and empty. I was in a hole. It's hard being in a hole. You can see the light shining down, but it's so far away it doesn't even cast shadows. I withdrew from everything because I didn't need anyone helpfully telling me, "Get over it. Honey was just a dog." 

Honey was my hands. Honey was my arms. Honey unloaded the clothes dryer. She picked up the same dollar off the floor 15 times in a row and never, ever, said, "What is the matter with you. Hang on to it this time." On the day she died, I dropped my glucose meter on the floor. Gasping for air, she stood up, grabbed my meter and put it in my hands. I was going to get it, but Honey got there first and helped me like always. I burst into tears. Such a good dog.

Dogs don't judge. They don't look at someone with a disability and see disability first. They see their friend first. Honey and I formed a bond that can only be described as telepathic. She knew what I needed, and did it before I asked. Honey alerted to myasthenia gravis leg muscle weakness. Before Honey, I used to fall. I was in my head all the time, and didn't notice my legs getting tired, until it was too late. As a puppy, Honey dragged me to a park bench and put her paws on my legs. She forced me to sit. Then she curled up by my feet. I was annoyed, so I stood up. Honey jumped up and pushed me down. Three times in a row, she forced me to sit. The third time, I cued into how tired my legs were. I needed a rest, and Honey knew it before I did. 

When MG blurred my sight, Honey was my eyes. I mistook a moving car for a parked car and stepped into the street. Honey jumped in front of me and would not let me go. Honey saved my life. Our bond meant so much to me. When she died, I fell apart. I didn't need anyone telling me, "She's just a dog." She was my closest friend. Losing her broke my mainspring.
It's been nighttime inside since July. I couldn't face the holiday season with my heart trapped in darkness. Solstice, Yule, Hanukkah, HumanLight, Christmas, Chalica, Kwanza. This time of year celebrates light. I needed light back in my world. I needed a puppy. 

In Honey's first training class, there was a poodle named Pearl who was also a service dog in training. Pearl stole my heart. She was a beautiful dog with a sunny temperament. I decided that my next service dog would be a poodle.
I carefully researched poodle breeders and found one who has placed puppies with a service dog organization. He health tests his dogs and breeds ethically. Since I am looking for a new service dog in training, this breeder felt like a good fit. 
On Saturday, I drove five hours to the breeder's house. I sat down on his kitchen floor and was mobbed by fuzzy puppies. They bounced all over me, then ran off to play. The fourth puppy to greet me, climbed in my lap and snuggled in my arms. I set her on the floor and she climbed back in my lap. While her sisters raced around playing with each other, this little pup wanted to be with me. 
Did I choose my puppy, or did she choose me? Perhaps we chose each other. It took me five minutes to choose a puppy. I met the puppy's mother. Her name... Honey. It felt like a nod of approval from my dear Honey. It's time to move forward and live again.  I picked up my little puppy, put her in the crate and drove five hours home. It was a long day for both of us. I played Christmas music in my car and The First Noel started playing. I looked at the puppy in the crate beside me and named her Noelle. 
Noelle is 3.11 pounds and 7 and a half weeks old. The vet checked her out and fell in love with her kind temperament. Noelle has the most important trait a service dog needs: strong nerves and a quick recovery from startle. I threw a can in the recycling bin. It was louder than I expected. Noelle looked up, glanced at the bin, and shrugged. I can train my dog to do a thousand tasks, but it doesn't matter if her nerves aren't sound. If she growls or snaps when something surprises her, it's game over. Noelle has potential. So much potential.
I've only had her for five days. In those five days, Noelle has brightened my world. We're clicker training together and it is so much fun. Play tug. Remove the tug toy and hold it behind my back. Wait in silence for Noelle to sit and give me eye contact. Click! Play tug again. Repeat. She isn't even eight weeks old, and she knows the rules to the game. She is learning self control and patience. Watching her puzzle out how to get me to give her the piece of chicken hidden in my hand is a joy. Hold the treat in my hand. She licks and nibbles, but the treat doesn't appear. I watch Noelle thinking. This isn't working. What should I do? Hmm. What if I sit and give eye contact? Click! Release the treat. I say nothing. I just watch the wheels turn in her head. Watch her think. Watch her learn to regulate her behavior on her own. She doesn't even bother sniffing my hand anymore. Sit, look me in the eye, and wait for the click. I love training dogs. Noelle is fun to train. 
We're working on housebreaking, and not chewing my pants, attacking feet, and all the annoying things puppies do. Puppies are a ton of work. But, it is joyful work for me and it is good to have a new Joy Benchmark in my life. I needed one. Welcome, Noelle. Welcome and thank you for lifting me out of the dark. Her registered name is Gave Great Light. Noelle gave great light already and I am so grateful.

Merry Christmas from Marie and Noelle

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I'm burned out. I've blogged about chronic illness. I've written two books about chronic illness. Trying to come up with something new to say makes me feel tired before I even start.

Right now I am recovering from losing my dog. I think about dogs all day. I think about how much I miss my dog. I think about how much I want a standard poodle puppy. I think I'll name her Clara. Or Claudia. Or Meadow. Or Clover.

I am thinking about dogs all the time. What I don't think about is diabetes management. I don't think about MG. I don't think about the intertwining craziness of having both conditions at the same time. Then I sit down to blog and there's no spark left. I've said what I wanted to say. Can I talk about something else now?

I get burned out when the DOC starts squabbling about Type 1 vs Type 2. The Crossfit dust up was the latest. It made me wonder if advocating makes any difference. Comedians still use diabetes as a punchline. People still post pictures of desserts with captions about giving themselves diabetes. Trying to use a unified voice to counter these misunderstandings leads to more T1 vs. T2 bickering. And I get burned out.

I've backed off of blogging because I've been sad. It's hard to blog about the joy in my life when I am sad. My service dog died. My husband's elderly dog has diabetes and Addison's disease. We are getting to the point where 16u is too little and her BG is in the 400's. 17u makes her crash into the 20's Have you ever seen a dog have a seizure from low blood sugar? It's heartbreaking. I know how to rescue April from lows, but every time I do it, I question if it is ethical. Just how much medical pounding does one dog have to endure? She's my husband's dog. I care for April, but the decisions belong to him, and he isn't ready to say goodbye.

I'm sad. I cry all the time. Blogging about diabetes and myasthenia gravis, encourages me to become Our Lady of Perpetual Uplift. Only I'm not uplifting. I'm just me, and right now I hurt inside.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

17 and 10

I'm 17 years cancer free. If my scar was a person, it would be a senior in high school. My scar would be borrowing my car and bringing it home without putting gas in the tank. My scar would be grounded from driving. My scar would be standing in the kitchen giving me sass because I won't let it stay out all night with its friends. Ha! 17 years! Wow.

Even more amazing to me is I'm celebrating 10 years of chemotherapy. No, not 10 years since I finished chemo. Ten years of continuous chemo.

Every so often, I'll come across an ignoramus on the internet (shocking, I know) who claims that chemotherapy is nothing but poison. Cancer doesn't kill people, chemotherapy does. These are the same people who claim diabetes is curable with okra water. Or was it lemon and baking soda? Or is it apple cider vinegar? Colloidal silver? No, silver turns people blue.

Before I started chemotherapy, myasthenia gravis wrecked my life. I lost the ability to chew and swallow. I couldn't hold up my head. I couldn't walk. I slurred my speech. MG compromised my ability to breathe. I was bedridden. My life was a living hell.

Then in August 2005, I started moderately high dose chemotherapy. With weeks, the antibodies circulating in my blood that attack my nerve/muscle junctions started dying. My muscles got stronger. I could chew and swallow again. I could hold up my head. I could walk. I could speak. I could breathe. I was no longer bedridden. My life opened up wider and wider each week.

I was on infusions for 23 cycles. We hoped it would push my MG into remission, but after 18 months, the experiment was a failure. MG roared back to life between infusions. In February 2007, I switched from infusions every three weeks, to weekly pills at home. My weekly pill cocktail keeps MG from destroying my life.

I know exactly what would happen to me if I stopped treatment. The chemo knocks down the antibodies in my blood, then they rebound by the end of the week. By Monday afternoon, I feel MG weakening my body. Tuesdays chemo kicks my ass. Wednesdays, I kick MG's ass.

Just how much chemo helps me became obvious when I skipped a week. I had a severe cold. I needed my immune system to be strong enough to knock it out, so I didn't want to take chemo. After missing a week, I sat down to eat a blueberry yogurt. I held a plastic yogurt cup in my hand and a plastic spoon in the other. Everything was going fine, until the plastic spoon was too heavy to lift. I stared at it in shock. How is it possible to be so weak a plastic spoon feels as heavy as a car?

My brain screamed at my arm, "Quit screwing around and pick up the damn spoon. It's not heavy! A newborn can pick up a plastic spoon."

My arm did not move. The spoon was too heavy to lift.

I am not paralized. I can feel my body. But that stupid little gap where nerves tell muscles to move, failed. No matter how much my brain cursed and swore, the little plastic spoon was too heavy. Tears filled my yogurt container. I bolused for the yogurt and I was too weak to eat it. What a lonely moment that was for me.

Who knows what that feels like? Who knows what it is like to be so weak a plastic spoon is heavier than a box of bowling balls? Fourteen in a 100,000 people have MG and I feel so alone. Sometimes I feel like I live on the wrong planet. A moon astronaut in reverse, trapped on a world where gravity is too strong for my body to function. And the loneliness I felt as a I stared at a plastic spoon overwhelmed me.

Then I remembered chemo day. I remembered I would take a nasty pill that tastes like a rotting fruit. I'd take chalky pills, and flavorless pills. I'd curl up in bed and sleep most of the day. But, after that... After that I could use a plastic spoon again. I could cook dinner for my family. I could walk April the weimaraner around the block. I could drive, and eat, and play the cello. I could have arms and legs and a jaw that moved. Chemo would fix my misery. Chemo would give me back my life.

Chemo is a gift! It's a toll booth on the highway of life. It's not a disaster. It's a gift that makes everything worthwhile.

Ten years. Ten years. Ten years. I can dress myself. I can feed myself. I can talk. I can brush my hair. I can play my cello. I can drive. I can go, see, do, walk, play. I can. I can live. Insulin and chemo made my life better in thousands of ways, millions of ways. I am so grateful I have no words.

I am sitting here, 17 years cancer free, and 10 years as a chemo warrior. Right now I am aware that little things matter. Like, being able to lift a plastic spoon, and eat yogurt instead of tears.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Loud Silence

On July 22, my dog died.

A Little Bit O' Honey CGC, SDX August 26, 2002--July 22, 2015

I sat here, staring at my computer for 20 minutes, unable to come up with the next thing to say. I'm a word smith. Words are how I make sense of things. Here I am, lost for words. I'm lost without my dog.

My black cat, Sunshine, is sitting on a chair and looking out the window. I'm glad she is in the bedroom with me. Cats are family, no question about it. However, my relationship with my cats is not the same as the relationship I had with Honey. When my cat jumps up on my bed in the morning, she purrs and purrs, rubs her head on my hands and chin. Is she affectionate because she loves me, or because the food dish is empty? After I fill the bowl, Sunshine eats and disappears. Affection is a coupon exchanged for food.

When Honey jumped on my bed to see me, it was to be with me.
She followed me from room to room, not because she wanted anything. Honey liked being with me. She liked walking beside me, staying beside me. When I was sick, my family had to force her to go outside. As soon as they let her back in the house, Honey jumped on my bed beside me. Nurse Honey. Gentle Honey. Faithful Honey. For 12 years she was with me. Now, I am alone.

Steve still has April. Our weimaraner living with diabetes is still here. I still check her blood sugar (464) and correct her with NovoLog. I wake up in the middle of the night and check her blood sugar (38) and rescue her from the Sugar Reaper. I let her out. I let her in. I put food in her bowl, water in her bowl, insulin needles in the folds of skin between her shoulder blades.

I care for April, but, she isn't our dog. April is Steve's dog. It's Steve she wants when it's time to cuddle with someone. She follows Steve from room to room. April is a great dog, a sweet dog, a funny dog. I love April. She's just not my dog. My dog died.

Steve is on the couch, watching videos on his computer. April is stretched out next to him. I am in the bedroom with the door shut. I have a pillow on my bed where Honey used to sleep. No one is curled up on the pillow. No one is cuddled against me with her chin on my ankle. No one makes little wuffling noises when I open a bag of crackers. It's the silence that reminds me Honey is gone. I never realized how loud silence could be. Or how much it hurts to say goodbye.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A slow goodbye

My dog is dying of cancer. When I brought her home 13 years ago, and she sat in a sunbeam in the backyard, I knew this day would come. But of course, that was years, and years, and years in the future. I had a puppy. The dog I whined, begged, and pleaded for was finally home.

We named her Honey because of her yellow fur. No, I just lied. We named her Honey because when I picked up the puppy and held her, I babbled, "Oh honey, oh honey, oh honey."

Steve said, "That's a good name for the dog."

"What is?"

"Oh Honey, oh Honey, oh Honey!" he teased.
I didn't care. I had my puppy. The dog Steve said we were never, ever, ever, quit asking, no, never getting, was home in my backyard. And I was happy.

Honey grew, as puppies all do. She went to obedience school and earned her Canine Good Citizenship. Of course, I dressed her in a cap and gown and took lots of photographs. When I got Honey, my MG was in remission. Then one afternoon in January, my hand was too weak to hold a cup, and I knew the nightmare was starting all over again. And I was sad. But, Honey was there.

I dropped my pen on the floor in front of my puppy. I thought she was going to chew it into bits, but she did the most unlikely thing. She picked up the pen and brought it to my hand. Then she sat at my feet. Thank you, Honey. Good dog. If Honey can pick up a pen, without any training at all, what could she learn how to do?

This was when Honey became a service dog in training. Being a service dog was what Honey was born to do.

Unload the dryer. Open the refrigerator, get a pop, bring it through the house to my hand, return to the kitchen, close the fridge door. She learned to pick up anything I dropped: a hair brush, a quarter, a credit card, and give it to me. She learned to do what would help me most.

Even if it was just keeping me warm when chemo made me bald, cold and exhausted.

She stayed with me when I started needing a cane.

And a wheelchair.

We performed together on stage. While I played the cello, Honey stayed on a mat by my feet. She snoozed while I spoke and played for audiences big and small. Then, on cue, she strutted her stuff for the audience. She let them know what a service dog can do. Honey retrieved keys, a credit card, a pen. She showed adults and children how to approach a service dog, and why not to pet them. She taught hundreds. She taught me.

Honey taught me to be bolder, because she wouldn't listen to an uncertain leader. She taught me to be brave. She gave people something more interesting to stare at than the lady in the wheelchair. And she was with me. Always.

Now she is lying on the floor. I hear her breathing hard and heavy. She has cancer. It spread to her lungs. Honey is still helping me, even now. I dropped my glucose meter on the floor. She picked it up and gave it to me. Here you go. You dropped this. Aw, thank you, Honey.

About a month ago, the vet said she had two months to live. The tumors in her lungs look like a thousand snowflakes. Her breathing is raspy. She pants a lot from the prednisone. Other than that, she is still herself. Honey still likes eating, which is good. She likes ice cream cones stuffed with peanut butter and dog treats. She liked the hamburger and french fries I brought her. And the Dairy Queen ice cream cone with sprinkles. She likes all the spoiling I'm doing. She's been my helper dog. I'm honored to help her right back. Honey is a happy dog, but sometimes she has a tough time breathing when she lies down.

Truthfully, I think I am suffering more than she is. Honey just had a dog biscuit. Not wanting to share it with April, she took off running from the kitchen to the living room, with that cute little scoot of hers. No limping. No crying. Still doing things she loves to do. Right now she's on the bed and eating Ritz crackers. Honey keeps making little wuffling noises, trying to see if I will give her any more.

Honey isn't ready to say goodbye. I'm not ready, either. It's just, I'm aware of what is coming, and it's breaking my heart. So, I am focusing on making each day as magical as possible by spoiling her.

If you have any dog spoiling ideas, please leave a comment.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Favorites and Motivations

Here’s today’s prompt: Favorites and Motivations.  If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blog post that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don’t have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog? Click for the Favorites and Motivations - Saturday 5/16 Link List

One of my favorite posts was after a diabetes event in Iowa. It summed up my experiences being diagnosed with diabetes as an adult.


Differently the Same

I was at TCOYD in Des Moines Iowa over the weekend. Bea drove us from Illinois to Iowa in George the Beetle. We listened to The Beetles and the songs are still stuck in my head. I got a chance to meet several people living with diabetes. It was fun. Sitting together at a long restaurant table, seeing everyone else test their blood sugar, use pens or pumps to dose insulin, made me feel less alone. It was like summer camp for grown-ups.

While I was laughing and listening I realized so many people grew up living with diabetes. They found out when they were five, six, eight. l found out I had diabetes at 42. While we were counting carbs and figuring out insulin doses, I realized our initial experiences with diabetes couldn't have been more different.

I wondered what it would be like to grow up with diabetes. The idea that they "didn't know any different," doesn't ring true to me. Kids know more than they let on. Growing up with diabetes in the way must have been challenging.

It made me think of trees that grow through fences.

The fence couldn't stop the tree from growing. Diabetes didn't stop my friends from growing up, either. They grew up around diabetes. They grew up with all the needle sticks and glucose tests. Highs and lows knocked them down, but they got back up and kept going. They share a familiarity with diabetes that I will never have. I didn't grow up with diabetes. I spent the first 42 years of my life without it.

Diabetes arrived in my life like this:

Like a sudden storm, diabetes knocked me over and shocked me down to the core. I don't have strong roots that nurtured me as a child with diabetes. I don't have my parents to shield me from the uglier realities and worries about complications. I have to learn to live after a storm and reinvent how I go about doing this. It is a tough task.

During dinner I realized how differently the same I am from my friends. Adjusting pump settings, trying to determine how many carbs are in the Cajun food and laughing, I can do with everyone. Adapting to a new life with diabetes? That is a different task. Thanks to the DOC, I don't have to face it alone.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Crazy Stories Wildcard

I started playing Assassin's Creed Black Flag after dinner. I got kinda engrossed in being a pirate. "There's booty to starboard, Captain". Sheesh, I'm starting to sound like a pirate. OK, that's it. I gotta put the controller down and blog. And... and crap, now it's almost Saturday. BLOG WEEK! Oh no!

Sorry folks, I'm taking a wildcard.

Diabetes can sure bring some crazy moments.  So tell us your Top 3 craziest D related stories!  If you can't think of three, don't worry.  We're just as happy with one or two . . . .   (Thank you Maria M of My Life: A Long Trip with T1D for this topic.) Click for the Crazy Stories Wildcard Link List.

This is a re-post, and no doubt the craziest thing that has ever happened to me because of diabetes. Enjoy the laughs.


How NOT To Insert a Dexcom Sensor

A Dexcom 7 sensor insertion requires some finesse. Bill 1 Happy Diabetic and Kerri of Six Until Me do a fantastic job of explaining the process. As you can see from their examples, a Dexcom Sensor insertion is a simple process. Well, it is simple, assuming the person inserting it is not me.

Bill and Kerri have helpfully illustrated exactly what to do. I often suspect my function in life is to serve as a warning to others, so with that in mind let me tell you how Not to insert a Dexcom 7 sensor.

Step 1. Begin With Skin Adhesive. Skin Tac Skin Adhesive comes in small pouches that look like larger versions of alcohol pads. When you pull them out of the pouch they will feel similar to an alcohol pad. This is a devious trick. This stuff makes flypaper seem slicker than Teflon.

Once Skin Tac comes in contact with human skin it becomes stickier than the La Brea Tar Pits. You want to swab this adhesive on your skin where the Dexcom is supposed to get stuck. What you do not want to do is get this adhesive on your hands. Do not, under any circumstances get Skin Tac on your fingers or hands. And exactly how do you swab adhesive on your skin without getting it on your fingers? By using your other two hands, of course. However, if for some odd reason you only have two hands proceed to Step 2.

Step 2. Remove plastic locking device from Dexcom inserter. Because of Skin Tac the lock will instantly get stuck to your right index finger. All attempts to shake it off will only get it stuck more firmly. Flailing is of no use. Simply ignore the roughly three inch piece of hard plastic adhered to your hand. You will get used to it in time.

Step 3. Remove white backing from your Dexcom sensor to reveal the sticky bandage. White backing is now stuck to your left thumb. Try to ignore this as well.

Step 4. Place Dexcom Sensor on top of now extremely sticky skin adhesive. Using your left big toe, smooth down the bandage. You cannot use your fingers because they are now webbed together in a club.

Step 5. Do not remember to pinch up your skin. Instead, place your thumb on the plunger and jam that 26 gauge insertion needle right on in. After you pass out it won't hurt a bit. Before you pass out you will probably look like this guy:

Step 6. When you regain consciousness, let go of the plunger and pull up the ring shaped collar on the insertion device. Pulling up the collar is the only way to get the 26 gauge harpoon out of your skin. Pulling up the collar is quite easy until you realize your hand is adhered to the plunger with Skin Tac! You're stuck! How is this possible? This didn’t happen in the demo!

Step 7. Let go of the plunger. It’s OK. It’s OK. You can do this. Don’t panic.

Step 7. Let go of the plunger.

Step 8. Let go of the plunger.

Step 9. Appeal to deity of your choosing to assist you in letting go of the plunger.

Step 10. Cry.

Step 11. Take a deep breath. Yank your hand away from the plunger. Ignore ripping sound. Ignore painful tug from Dexcom Sensor, too.

Step 12. Place fingers under the collar and pull up. There. The needle is out. You did it!

Step 13. Now, let go of the collar.

Step 14. Let go of the collar.

Step 15. You can’t let go can you? You’re stuck! You’re going to be stuck like this forever. And ever. And ever! And ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha! And… They’re coming to take me away….


Step 16. Rip hand away from collar and let go of insertion device. Squeeze tabs and pull insertion device out of your Dexcom Sensor bandage. While you are doing this a thought will occur to you. Removing the insertion device would be a lot easier to do if the Dexcom wasn’t attached to your skin. Resist temptation to rip off the sensor and unhook it the easy way. If you squeeze the tabs and yank the insertion device upward and outward, it can be removed. Just ignore the pain.

Step 17. Place the gray sensor in the slot. Yank your sticky thumb and forefinger off the gray sensor. Lift up on tab A while pushing the sensor in slot B. Turn around twice, do the Hokey Pokey. Push Tab A up until you hear a click. Twist off tab A.

Step 18. You’re all done. Start sensor on Dexcom.

Step 19. Pour stiff drink.
 OK, maybe I exaggerated slightly. But, I really did manage to glue my hand to the insertion device and I did forget to pinch up my skin. It's my job to make stupid mistakes so you don't have to.

A tip for using Skin Tac: never touch the pad. Use a glove or even hold a corner of it with an alcohol pad or Tac Away pad while you prepare your skin. I learned the hard way that touching the Skin Tac pad creates webbed fingers. You don't want to get your hand stuck to the insertion device. Trust me on this. Just... Trust me. OK?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Changes

Here’s today’s prompt: Today let's talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you'd most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people's perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you? Click for the Changes - Thursday 5/14 Link List.

As far as changes to how I manage my diabetes, May 14 is a special day. On May 14, 2012, at exactly 4:44 pm, I started pumping insulin.

This is XPU Mark I, my first insulin pump. I named her XPU because she is my eXternal Pancreatic Unit. When I started pumping, I had no idea how much it would change my diabetes management.

I know I am supposed to write about how pumping lowered my A1c. Or, how pumping helped me with my dawn phenomenon. It did both of those things, but that's not the biggest change.

The biggest change is, well... OK, we're friends, right? I can be completely honest, right? Deep breath. Here comes the hidden truth.

Good evening, welcome to Scatterbrains Anonymous. My name is Marie S. and I am a scatterbrain. When I was using MDI to control my diabetes, I did my best to keep my insulin pens separate. The bright vivid orange pen is NovoLog. The deep green pen is Levemir. The manufacturer probably assumed that the difference in color would be sufficient enough to prevent error. They did not consult me.

What I needed was for the robot from Lost in Space to pop out of the NovoLog Pen and shout: Danger, Will Robinson!

This might have prevented an epic scatterbrain mistake. A few weeks before I started pumping, the inevitable happened. I grabbed an insulin pen and injected a great deal of what I assumed was Levemir. Only, it was NovoLog. A whole lot of NovoLog. I really screwed up. When I noticed, I said something that rhymed with Oh puck! That was not my first mistake mixing up two insulin pens, but it was my last.

As a scatterbrain, I pump for safety reasons. Using only one type of insulin prevents me from being a danger to myself. All day, every day, NovoLog is in my pump. I don't have to look for the right pen. I can't lose my insulin. I cannot lose my pump because of the tubing.

As much as I like the design of the OmniPod, I cannot be trusted with something as critical as a meter remote. It would get lost, probably within an hour after I got it. An hour? Who am I kidding. It would get lost the second I opened the box. My pump tubing is my safety line, and I'm grateful for it.

Mixing up my two insulin pens is what drove me to seek help with Scatterbrains Anonymous. Since I've been a member, I've learned I am scatterbrained because I am physically here, but mentally elsewhere. My name is Marie S. and I am a scatterbrain. This, above all other reasons, is why I pump.

XPU Mark I had an unfortunate accident and was replaced with XPU Mark II. My new pump is an Animas Vibe, XPU Mark III.

Pumping has changed my life for the better. I am less fearful of making a mistake. If I can't remember if I gave myself a bolus or not, I press a button and see my insulin on board. Or, I click my history. My pump remembers things for me, so I can keep my scatterbrained self safe.

Now, all I need is a robot to follow me around, making little notes about where I put things. Marie set her phone on top of the washing machine. Marie set her iPad on the kitchen table. Marie left her purse on the bedside table.

Robot? Where is my phone? Your phone is on the washing machine, right where you left it. Robot? Where is my iPad? Your iPad is on the kitchen table, right where you left it. Robot? Where is my purse? Your purse is on your bedside table, right where you left it. Robot? Where is my brain? Your brain is scattered across fifteen known galaxies. Ah, progress.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Clean it Out

Here’s today’s prompt: Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let's clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you're mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?  (Thank you Rick of RA Diabetes for this topic suggestion.) Click for the Clean it Out - Wednesday 5/13 Link List.

I have a glucose meter collection. None of them have batteries. I don't have any strips for them.  I have a stack of dead meters because... Well, I actually have no good reason to keep them.

Sooooo, that's it then. Yup, I have a collection of used, dead meters. They aren't going to sprout batteries, or grow new testing strips. So, yeah, I, er, have a glucose meter collection, and um, what else can I say about that? Excuse me while I get a trash bag.

Stupid meters. Should have thrown these out years ago. iBGstar. Doesn't fit my phone anymore. What's this one? A meter remote from my last insulin pump? Great. That's useful. Here's a One Touch Mini I stepped on when I was getting the vacuum cleaner. What's this? Some kind of Accu-check...

Man, that post was rough. What did I keep all those for? What will people think of me? If only I could come up with some kind of distraction.

Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Conway Twitty.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Keep It To Yourself

Here's today's prompt: Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see.  What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?  (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone.  There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects.  Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won't tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic.)  Click for the Keep It To Yourself – Tuesday 5/12 Link List.

I avoid talking about research, and the cure that is just around the corner. Research is exciting and gives me hope for a better future, don't get me wrong. But, a treatment that is 5 years away doesn't help me right now. Maybe other people find dreaming about the future helpful, but for me it distracts.

Thinking about research makes me consider the tools I have now less valuable than they are. The next pump, that does these new things, will be better than one one I am using now. Inside my head, the pump that I am using today isn't good enough, when in reality it is a marvel of engineering. Dwelling on what I don't have interrupts my inner peace and joy. What I do have is incredible. Every day I pause a moment to look at my insulin pump. I turn it over in my hands and wonder at all the thought and creativity that went into making this device. I'm wowed by it all over again. Pausing for amazement brings my life joy in the here and now.

Thinking about a cure makes me feel like someone put a pause button in my life; I'm left waiting instead of living. Perhaps it is because I also juggle myasthenia gravis that waiting for a cure makes me sad. Researchers are busy creating better and better tools for people with diabetes, and that is good. However, MG hasn't had a new medication released since 1935. Waiting for a cure for MG keeps me from enjoying my life as it is.

I've had MG for a lot longer than I've had diabetes, so maybe the hopeless nature of MG has colored the way I think about diabetes. Type 1 diabetes may not be as utterly, hopelessly, incurable as MG. But, for today, it is. Today, I act as if my diabetes is always going to be incurable. On my blog, and in my life, I put my focus and attention on dealing with diabetes today.

Today my fasting blood sugar was 217. Yesterday it was 211. The lowest number yesterday was 132, and that isn't like me at all. Something is up. I think the insulin I am using needs to be tossed out, and I need a new vial. Sometimes trying to get the last pump fill out of an old vial isn't worth it. OK, truthfully, it's never worth it for me, but I always do it, because I don't want to waste any insulin, which makes no sense, because I fill my pump with old insulin that has less potency, so it isn't effective anyway, but throwing out a vial with insulin still in it seems wasteful, so I go around in this ridiculous circle once a month, filling my pump with insulin that doesn’t work well, and then my blood sugars are high and I feel like crap because of it, and I know if I just used a fresh vial everything would be fine, but I never do this, even though I should. (Yes, that was a 112 word sentence. Yes, it was fun to write, thanks for asking.)

Old insulin in my pump isn't doing its job today. So, I am going to fill my pump with new insulin from a new vial. In roughly an hour, I'm going to have a shocking low. My body always freaks out when it gets brand new insulin. Maybe I get used to insulin with less potency, so when the real stuff shows up my body goes bonkers. Diabetes is bonkers. Dealing with it in the here and now is hard enough, that's why I don't talk about the future. I keep that to myself.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: I Can

It's D-blog week, and I am so glad.

Here’s today’s prompt:  “In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…” that participants found wonderfully empowering. So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could? Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life? (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.)” Click for the I Can – Monday 5/11 Link List.

I think the biggest change diabetes brought to my lifeapart from the obviousis belonging. I can belong to a community. This is no small thing for me. See, I've never belonged anywhere. That feeling of being on the outside has been with me since I was tiny.

I remember watching Sesame Street, hearing the song, "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong..." and having the distinct, unnerving, feeling they were singing about me. I looked around my preschool world and realized I didn't belong.

Something about me made it impossible to belong. In first grade, I was reading like a fourth grader. In fourth grade, I was reading Othello, and there was no one to talk to about Othello smothering Desdemona, because I didn't belong in fourth grade. My body was 9. My intellect was 17. My emotional maturity was 7. I didn't belong inside my own skin. I didn't belong in my classroom.

One of these things is not like the others...

I didn't belong anywhere. I was too... Too intense. Too smart. Too weird. Too emotional. Too much. Calm down. Pipe down. Tone it down. Slow down. For the love of God, just... stop.

One of these things just doesn't belong...

Snip off the tall poppy. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down. And I was hammered down, by teachers and the other kids. I saw other kids playing, and wanted to join in, but I had no idea how to blend in. So, I watched. I pretended. I hid. I made friends with books, because books don't bully.

The more I read, the weirder I got. The weirder I got, the more I read. I isolated myself inside walls of books.

Community is something other people have. Belonging is something other people do. Not me. Never me. Who would want me in their community? I have always looked at community as an outsider, wondering what it would feel like to belong.

My entire life, I have tried trimming off pieces of myself in an attempt to fit in. I am not a square peg in a round hole. I am a great triambic icosahedron in a round hole. Hide this pointy bit. Don't let anyone see that part. Blend in. Hide. Then I would say the wrong thing, and someone would glare and say, "Well, we can't all be in Mensa, Marie." And I would try and snap off another part of me. Can't you at least pretend to belong?

I wished I could find somewhere to belong. A community where I could actually be my 20-sided self, sharp points and all, and be accepted anyway. Then I got diabetes. I found the DOC. I started blogging.

We are as different from each other as snowflakes, yet we all know what a high blood sugar feels like. That weird internal surge, like all the Budweiser Clydesdales showed up inside your body, and pulled you in a hundred directions at once. Thirsty, trembling, wow this just sucks so bad. We know the Wiley Coyote falling over a cliff feeling of a low. Holding a sign that says, Bye bye! There's that sharp, stabbing pain from using a lancet one too many times, swearing you'll never do that again, and then doing it anyway, and feeling incredibly stupid. How hard is it to flip a switch on a FastClix? Flip. Done. Why do I wait a month? I dunno.

Because of the DOC, and this blog, I have admitted to mistakes, and failures. And laughed at myself, just for being myself. Others have joined me in commiserating with my goofs and blunders. You've cheered me on when I've succeeded. I've found community because of diabetes. I found out I can belong.

When I blog, I belong. When I read other blogs, I belong. When I participate in #DSMA, I belong. When I write for D-Blog Week, I belong. When I read other D-Blog Week posts, I belong. Without snipping off parts of what make me who I am, I can belong inside the DOC. Without hiding, or pretending to be someone else, I can belong. And that matters to me. I can be a part of a community. I can belong.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


This hashtag was Kelly's idea. I learned about it on Facebook and decided I needed to participate.

I wish people knew that diabetes...

Isn't a punchline for a joke.
Diabetes is just another way of saying "I became such a fat bastard I can no longer be trusted with sugar".

Official food of the 2012 Olympic Games: McDonalds

Official drink of the 2012 Olympic Games: Coca Cola

Official disease of the 2012 Olympic Games: Type 2 Diabetes

And on they go. 
I wish people knew that I couldn't have avoided diabetes. I couldn't have avoided myasthenia gravis. I couldn't have avoided thymoma cancer. I just couldn't do anything different with the f*cked-up body I have. My body is falling apart and it takes all of my courage and strength just keeping it together. Assuming I contributed to having diabetes is unfair. Assuming people who have diabetes brought it on themselves is untrue and unfair. Type 1, or Type 2, or various assorted diabetes subtypes, all suck. No one deserves something that sucks as much as diabetes.

How I wish the people who make jokes about diabetes could live with it. Dinner is ready. It's really hot and I'm so hungry. I think I'd like to sit down and calculate how many grams of carbs are in this. And then stick a sharp lancet in my finger and test my blood sugar. And then do an algebra problem in my head to figure out how much insulin to bolus. And then deal with the sting from the insulin going in too fast. And... now dinner is cold.

Oh, that is hilarious. Isn't it? No, it's annoying. Diabetes jokes lack compassion, and heap guilt and blame on people who live with diabetes. They make it sound like it's fun. It isn't. Next person who tells me one will get a free blood sugar test. I'll make sure to crank my Fastclix lancet to depth 5, first. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Life After Dexcom

Well, since my insurance isn't covering Dexcom, and I cannot afford to pay for it out of pocket, I had to let go of my Dexcom. A few days ago, I took the plunge and ripped off my three-week-old Dexcom Sensor. It was strange at first, like something really important was missing. I found myself pulling my Vibe pump out of my pocket, and seeing a blank blue line where my Dexcom graph should be. It was stressful, like having my cell phone taken away.

After a few days, I realized just how often I looked at my screen. Check the screen, BG is 114. 10 minutes later... Check the screen, BG is 119. 15 minutes later... Check the screen, BG is 111.

Once I took off Dexcom, I felt liberated. I thought about diabetes so much less! Instead of getting constant feedback, I have my finger sticks and that's it. It was weird at first. Now, I am getting used to it.

Also, for the most part, I know my daily BG patterns. I know that when I wake up in the morning, insulin will be less effective than an eye dropper full of water on a grass fire. Dawn phenomenon blows. Around 11:00, that goes away and my insulin sensitivity kicks into overdrive. Between 11:00 am and 5 pm, my BG is going to be in the 70-115 range. I know that between 5 pm and 11:00 pm, my BG is going to be elevated from dinner, and then drift down into the 120’s. That is my typical daily pattern. If I eat more carbs than usual, I’ll test more often and keep an eye on it. If I feel funny, I’ll test and see what’s up. I do miss the trending, but I can substitute for it by testing again in half an hour or so.

The main thing I'm doing to look after my diabetes is keeping consistent with my food. Taking care of my diabetic dog means feeding her the same foods, in the same amounts, twice a day. Keeping things consistent makes looking after April's diabetes much easier. After a few weeks of looking after April, I realized I can do the same thing.

I eat the same thing for breakfast every day. I eat the same lunch every day. I've been doing this for several months now, and I don't mind at all. Choosing to eat the same thing every day has eased the blood sugar roller coaster. I know that breakfast will raise my blood sugar x amount. Lunch will raise it y amount. I have less lows because I'm not chasing an unexpected high with more insulin, and then crashing because my insulin sensitivity is in overdrive mode and I bolused too much. I know that my worst lows come in the mid-afternoon, and I'm ready for them. Eating the same meals twice a day has made my life much easier.

Truthfully, if there was a Human Chow, 100% nutritionally complete, delicious, kibbles for people, I'd eat Human Chow twice a day and be fine.

Photo Source
Some days, I wish a genius would come up with Human Chow. Whatcha having for breakfast? Kibbles in a bowl. Yum. Whatcha having for lunch? Kibbles in a bowl. Yum. Ooh, it's cinnamon flavor. My favorite.

My only variables are dinner and (ahem) after dinner snacks. So, I keep my meter handy at night. My only problem with testing more is I have more trash. I keep missing the little trashcan on the floor and my little strips are getting everywhere. I got myself this little desktop trashcan on Amazon to put on my bedside table. I hope it helps me keep the mess down.

The only scary thing about giving up Dexcom has been sleeping. I relied on Dexcom to wake me up if I was low. And it did. Over and over again. Fear of going low while sleeping is still difficult to deal with.

I had a six hour long low in my sleep on chemo day. Seeing that graph scared me. How often does that happen? Without a Dexcom, I don't know. Not knowing scares me, too.

Waking up, feeling low, sweaty and shaky, scares me. Without a Dexcom, I don't know how long I've been low. I don't like that, either. I'm doing what I can to avoid going low when I sleep. This part of losing my Dexcom, I don't like.

However, all in all, weirdly enough, I don’t miss my Dexcom. Funny! I was panicking when I found out that my insurance didn't cover it. Now, I don't miss wearing a sensor every day.

Instead of wearing a Dexcom sensor every day, I will put one on a few days before we go on a trip, so it can settle in and start working right. I can see how Dexcom would be useful while traveling, simply because I will be eating weird things. At home, my life is a fairly predictable pattern. And I like that. I am finding peace in simplicity these days.

Maybe it's because we've been spring cleaning around here, and I have been asking myself, "Do I really need this?" that I've found it somewhat refreshing to let go of my Dexcom. Throwing away things that I don't use, don't need, or don't like, has brought me peace. But.. that's another post.

There is life after Dexcom. Just like there is life after a diabetes diagnosis. And life is good.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Decisions Decisions

I got an Animas Vibe pump a few months ago. Not having to carry a Dexcom receiver and my pump has been a welcome change. However, on Monday night, I had a six hour low while I slept.

It was chemo day, and after taking anti-nausea drugs that make me groggy, I slept all morning. Waking up and seeing I was low upset me. Waking up and realizing I was low for six hours, made me wonder why I even bother having a Dexcom.

The alarm is too short. A quick run through of Fur Elise, and then silence, followed by soft beeping, is not loud enough to wake me up. The pump is wrapped under blankets and the vibration isn't strong enough to wake me up.

What I'd like to have is a Night Mode switch. Make this pump scream like a banshee. LOW! Wake Up! Not a muffled Fur Elise and a gentle vibration that cannot be noticed under blankets.

I need my alarm to warn me of lows overnight night. That's why I have a Dexcom sensor. Well, not for long. My insurance company isn't covering Dexcom. So, I have to decide if I want to pay out of pocket and continue using it, or not.

Given that my Vibe Pump doesn't wake me up, is finding out I was low for the past 6 hours helpful? I felt upset the second I saw that long blue line of failure. I've used Dexcom for four years and I appreciate the extra data. It's better than running a basal test and waking up every few hours.

Decisions. Decisions.

For the most part, my pump settings are spot on. Because of Dexcom, I have an idea how high my BG is going to go after I eat. I've learned to bolus for coffee.  Dexcom helped me spot a rise in blood glucose that happens at 10 pm, whether I've had a snack or not, no matter how many carbs I ate during dinner. Around 10, my blood sugar spikes. Well, it did. Until I changed my pump's basal settings at 8 pm and made that spike disappear. Those trends, trends I can act on, have made a huge difference in how I treat my diabetes.

Fall alerts have helped me head off disaster, too. Same with rise alerts that let me know my pump has gone haywire. However, when I saw that long blue line of failure -- six hours of untreated low blood sugar -- I wondered if Dexcom has given me a false sense of security. What I trust it to do is wake me up when I'm low. Now I found out, I can sleep through alarms. Now I am wondering if Dexcom is worth it or not.

Can I manage my diabetes without a Dexcom? Have I learned enough from this tool to give it up? Should I fight my insurance company? Should I quietly surrender? Should I save up for sensors?

Decisions. Decisions.

My pump has automated much of my diabetes care. The ever changing basal rates keep me steady most of the time. I've got my corrections figured out. I've got my insulin to carb ratios figured out. I know how food is going to impact my blood sugar, for the most part, anyway. Still, there are surprises, like a six hour long low.

Decisions. Decisions.

 I made a good decision a few months ago and changed neurologists. My new doctor increased my chemo medication. More evil antibodies are dying ever week. My arms work now. It's an amazing change. I have so much more energy. During the last few weeks I was able to put new tile in the bathroom. I was able to grout all the tiles. I painted the ceiling and the walls. I even put in a new bathroom floor. My arms move, because I made a good decision and changed doctors. I'm wildly happy about this decision.

Deciding to give up my Dexcom, or pay out of pocket, feels like a lose/lose. However, there are numbers between zero and one hundred. There is more than off or on. I can pay for a few boxes of sensors a year, but not wear it all the time. Balance matters to me. I always seek balance in my life. It keeps me from being depressed and anxious about my health.

If anyone has a spare sensor and wants to mail it to me, contact me at thecellochick(at) Maybe we can make a trade. One thing I've learned is I'm not alone in my decision making, and that matters to me.

Let me turn this over to you...

If you had to pay out of pocket for Dexcom, would you do it? Would you give it up entirely? Or would you rely on finger sticks and only use Dexcom for basal testing? Leave a comment, or send me an email.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Please Continue to Hold...

(Current estimated wait time is... 8 minutes.)

I'm on hold for the third time today with the third business. All I want to is order a Dexcom transmitter. My warning went off on Monday that my transmitter battery is almost dead. Now, I knew that my transmitter was getting old, so a month ago, I contacted my DME supplier, their name rhymes with DredgeShark, about getting a replacement.

Two weeks later, I found out my order was canceled. Why was it canceled? I called DredgeShark, and they didn't know why. They said they would get to the bottom of it and send me my sensors and transmitter.

(Please continue to hold and we will be right with you...)

I just called DredgeShark, because my transmitter is going to turn off any day now.  They told me my insurance company is no longer contracted with DredgeShark to provide Dexcom sensors.

Why didn't they tell me this three weeks ago? What am I supposed to do now?

I called my insurance company.

(Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed.)

My insurance company agent had no idea what a CGM was. After putting me on hold for half an hour, I suggested calling Dexcom directly to find a company to help me get sensors and a transmitter.

(All agents are busy assisting other customers.)

So, right now I am on hold with Dexcom. I really hope I can go directly through Dexcom.

Tick tock. Tick Tock.

OK, I talked to Dexcom. Now I have to wait and see if my insurance company will let me order supplies directly from them. I sure hope so. 

DredgeShark has become a nightmare. I ordered insulin pump sets online a month ago, and DredgeShark deleted the order instead of processing it. So, I ordered on the phone. Did they send me my supplies? No. Instead I got an email telling me I had to fill out forms for Medicare before my supplies would be approved. I'm not using Medicare! So, I called them back a third time with my information and now once again it is processing. Maybe. I hope.

This sucks!

I am running out of sets. I'm frustrated beyond words. I need insulin pump supplies to function. It's not like I am ordering books, or a new cell phone case. It feels like my life is on hold.

(Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and a customer service representative will be with you shortly.)

(This call may be monitored for quality and training purposes.)

My Dexcom is going to shut down in a few days when the transmitter dies. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

(Please continue to hold while we play irritating music in your ear. Thank you.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dog Diabetes VS My Diabetes

When April was diagnosed with diabetes last year, I was surprised how similar her diabetes is to mine.

A normal blood glucose range for a dog: 80-120
A normal blood glucose range for a human: 80-120

Low blood sugar in a dog: 70
Low blood sugar in a human: 70

Amount of glucose needed to raise April's low blood sugar: 15-30 grams (or more if epic low)
Amount of glucose needed to raise my blood sugar to normal: 15-30 grams (or more if epic low)

April's blood sugar after stealing a sandwich: 300 or higher
My blood sugar after eating a sandwich and (ahem) forgetting to bolus: 300 or higher. (Not that I ever forget to bolus.)

Symptoms of high blood sugar in a dog: Excessive thirst, peeing by the back door, weight loss.
Symptoms of high blood sugar in human: excessive thirst, peeing all day long, weight loss.

Symptoms of low blood sugar in a dog: stumbling, glassy eyes, confusion, shaking.
Symptoms of low blood sugar in a human: stumbling, glassy eyes, confusion, shaking.

Treatment of low blood sugar in a dog: vanilla frosting and mini donuts.
Treatment of low blood sugar in a human: glucose tablets. (Donuts? Baklava? Cookies? Cake?)

One big difference is April uses only insulin N. I get Reli-on brand from Walmart because it is 25.00 a vial. My insulin is covered by my health insurance. I use NovoLog. April has two shots a day. I use an insulin pump.

April gets 21u of NPH insulin twice a day, for a total daily dose of 42u. Because I am a human, and don't eat kibble out of a dog dish, I get a different dose of insulin every day. Sometimes my total daily insulin dose is less than my dog. Sometimes I get the same amount of insulin as April. (January 5th was the last time we had the same total daily dose.) When there is Chex Mix in the house, I use a lot more insulin. April is just as tempted by Chex Mix as I am, but she lacks opposable thumbs, and if we put it on a high shelf, she can't get at it. Except for when she finds a bowl on the table. Then, all bets are off. There are times when I wish I could correct April's high blood sugars, but since she is on NPH twice a day, I can't correct. All I can do is try to control her food.

April eats one can of dog food, and one scoop of dry food, twice a day. Except for when she doesn't. You see, April is a weimaraner. Weimaraners can do this:

I am so incredibly glad that is NOT MY DOG. However, while I was writing I heard a loud ripping, crunching sound in the living room. I went in. April stole a brand new bag of corn chips and managed to rip open the bag. No! Those are Dad's chips! Crazy dog!

Look, I try really hard to keep April eating only what she is supposed to, but April is still a weimaraner. Sometimes April eats cat food. Sometimes she gets in the garbage. Sometimes she steals a sandwich off the counter. This makes her blood sugar go bonkers, because I can't just count the extra carbs and cover them with extra insulin. Not being able to correct makes me unhappy, but I am learning to shrug it off.

April is 12. If I test her blood sugar six times a day, count all her carbs, and micromanage her diabetes, she will probably live another 18 months to two years. If I roll my eyes and laugh when she gets in the garbage, eats random snacks, and steals sandwiches, April will probably live another year and a half to two years. Realizing this has helped me ease up and worry less.

Why was April low over the weekend? I have no idea. Lows happen to both of us. So do highs. We both do our best to live well with diabetes, and in the end, that is all that matters.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thank heaven for 7 Eleven

I was on the bed reading. My husband came in with April the diabetic dog. Steve said, "April has been a little wobbly." I looked down on the floor. April had stumbled and fallen. Steve helped her stand. She fell again.

April is 12-years-old, which is 89 in human years. Maybe she had a stroke. Or maybe... Steve grabbed her glucose test kit. I tested her blood sugar. It was 27 mg/dl (1.5 mmol)

 That is sugar reaper territory. April wasn't even shaking anymore. She was just lying limp on the couch. I looked at the number, and at Steve. Both of us said something that rhymes with, "Puck! Goalie mitt!"

The dog needs carbs. Lots of carbs. Now! I searched the kitchen. What do we have? Caramel sauce? No. Orange juice? No. Smarties? No. Glucose tablets? No. Honey? No. What can I give the dog? I found a Poptart. 35 grams of carbs. OK. OK. This will help. I ripped open the wrapper. Chocolate! Crap!

Then I remembered, on the dog medicine shelf was a tube of green cake frosting. It was almost empty. Five grams of carbs per teaspoon. That's not going to be enough.

"Steve, go to 7 Eleven and grab some powdered sugar donuts."

He grabbed his coat and left. I sat on the couch and squeezed cake frosting into the dog's mouth. April perked up a little and licked the frosting. The tube was nearly empty when Steve came home with donuts. April didn't bark when he came home. She just stayed on the couch looking limp and glassy-eyed.

My husband ripped open the package and handed me a donut. April gobbled it. And she gobbled the next one. She ate five out of six donuts. I gave part of the last donut to Honey, our non-diabetic dog, because she was standing beside me drooling.

Within half an hour, April was up and romping around the house. We tested her blood sugar a second time and it was 127. Crisis averted. The Sugar Reaper left.

This experience reminded me once again how important it is to have carbs ready to go, both for me and our dog. Now we have a new tube of vanilla cake frosting, and another package of 7 Eleven Powdered Mini Donuts, on the shelf. We're ready for the next time the dog is low.

Speaking of low, Dexcom is telling me that I'm low. What the puck? Hang on a sec while I confirm. Yep, I'm low. Finger says BG now 68. Weird. I did not expect that. I was 257 about an hour and a half ago.

We're not going to name names here, but someone had eggs and waffles for breakfast and (ahem) forgot to bolus ahead of time. I remembered to bolus about 10 minutes after breakfast, which is why my BG was only 257 and not 357. Did I just write ONLY 257? That, right there, says a lot about my life with diabetes. Facepalm.

After eating waffles, my pump, XPU Mark II, calculated I needed a boatload of insulin. I used my pump, gave myself an amazingly large bolus, and here I am low an hour and a half later.

Move over April. It's my turn to eat some medicinal donuts. Who knew 7 Eleven could save someone's life? Thank heaven for 7 Eleven.


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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