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.


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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