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Today begins National Diabetes Awareness Month!  To begin, let’s focus on “SAE it loud!” day.  SAE stands for, “Support, Advocate, and Educate”.

In my opinion, there has been no other time in the history of diabetes where support, advocacy, and education are so very important.  Not only to those of us who have diabetes, but to those who do not.

First, for those of us who do not have diabetes…if you haven’t seen a doctor for a full checkup, do so NOW.  Don’t wait until you get really sick or have some unexplained health issue.  Go see your doctor for a full physical now.

Second, if you do have diabetes and you haven’t seen an endocrinologist for a long time, then please make an appointment.  Life is too short to take chances with your health.

Here are a few helpful websites:

AACE – American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

ADA – American Diabetes Association

JDRF – Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Don’t delay; act now.

Happy SAE it Loud day!!!

Diabetes Perfection?

The first thing I do in the morning is test my blood sugar level.  Absurd, isn’t it?  I mean most people roll out of bed and either hit the shower or grab a cup of coffee, tea, or soda.  Me?  I test my blood sugar.  This morning was no different.  I went straight to the bathroom and tested.

220 mg/dl

The tiny blood glucose meter shined back at me.  My wife who always asks what my reading is (for safety purposes mind you) was stunned.  “What happened?” she asked.

“I ate too much last night.” I replied, now a little grumpy.

Grumpy

My wife starts to chuckle.  “Well I guess what Nicholas told you was true.  You had too much food on your plate.”  (My youngest son kindly said that I had too much food on my plate last night at dinner.)

Now I’m really grumpy and my wife notices the change in my voice.  She humbly apologizes, knowing a little salt was just rubbed into my wound.  I quickly took a correction and proceeded to get ready for the day.  It wouldn’t be so bad, but I’m really striving to lower my A1c, from a 6.4 to a 6.0.  I want to keep my blood sugar levels between 80-100 just to prove if it can possibly be done.  I constantly notice that my body does so well when I keep my blood sugars at a constant 100.

However, the more I strive to maintain those tight numbers, the more perfection may take its toll.  The more I push the pendulum toward perfection, the more moody I get when those blood sugar numbers aren’t perfect.  This, in turn, affects everyone.  Family, friends, co-workers, are all affected by my emotional carnage.  Is there a way around it?  Heck, I know there are many diabetics out there that shrug off a 220.  But I can’t.  I have too much at stake.  (retinopathy)

I want to do well at this game and if it means going the extra mile to keep my organs healthy, then I just might do it.  I just need to remember to keep a cool head through all this and be at peace with those around me.

Of course it wouldn’t hurt to hear the godly words of a 10 year-old boy every now and then either.  😀

Friend or Foe

“Cool!  I have a friend who is diabetic and he’s doing great!”

This is what I heard the other day from a young man, who saw me using my OmniPod. We conversed for a short time about diabetes (good stuff, not bad) and we went on our separate ways. I am always enthusiastic when I hear fellow diabetics striving to do their best. However, I can’t say the same for everyone.

I recently read this post by David Edelman: “Which is Worse: Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

I read the blog and subsequent comments.  Sadly, many of the negative, sometimes “hate-filled”, replies didn’t surprise me. Many, many years ago, I probably would’ve replied the same way. BUT…my eyes have been opened to realize that diabetes is becoming more and more meshed together. Now before some of you care to argue whether type 1’s or type 2’s have it worse, consider this line of thought…

With cancer, we see several different forms, e.g. liver cancer, leukemia, breast, colon, etc.  The list goes on. While not comparing diabetes to cancer, diabetes affects the pancreas directly and indirectly other organs (different topic altogether). Okay, stay with me now. Diabetics, whether a type 1 or type 2 diagnosis, face the challenge of a pancreas that is not doing it’s job. Has the pancreas stopped working? No, it hasn’t. Has it stopped producing insulin cells? Maybe.

So, why all the argument and anger between the two (and possibly 3) types of diabetes? Frankly, I don’t know anymore. I see both type 1’s and 2’s every day, as either co-workers or family, and can’t say I have any anger towards the difference. Throw LADA’s (or type 1.5’s) in the mix and the mesh of diabetes becomes more entwined. I do know this much: the anger and bitterness between type 1’s and 2’s needs to stop. No one ever asked for this disease; no one ever asks for any chronic and/or terminal illness. We must put aside our differences and help each other.

And if you’re not helping others who have type 1, type 2, or LADA diabetes, then why not?

Diabetic Technology

As a person who works in the field of technology, I often read articles on the latest and greatest in the area of diabetic technology.  For example, as of a couple years ago who would’ve thought that continuous glucose monitoring was even possible.  In addition, the term, “patch pump”, wasn’t a part of our English language.  And who would’ve thought that cell phones would become a part of our diabetes routine, and I’m not just talking about apps for the iPhone.  No, I’m talking Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I’ve lived with diabetes for almost 34 years now, and I thought I’d never see the day where we could use so much technology to enhance our lives.  But…is it?

iPhone Apps

I’ve tried two different apps for my iPhone to manage blood sugar readings.  Sadly, I would use them for about a day or two and then forget them.  Sure, they’re nice and convenient, but they don’t match up against downloading directly from the monitor.  Entering a blood sugar reading, on another device, doesn’t seem all that convenient to me.  Do I really need to study all this data (graphs, etc.) every day?  If you’re a numbers person or analyst who thrives on data overload, then go for it.  But for me, it seems overkill.

Continuous Glucose Monitor – aka, ‘CGM’

The good and bad sides of me frequently debate this topic.  The good says, “A CGM is a must have with diabetes more so than with any other device available.”  While the bad says, “Why should I stick myself with another device and bleed like a stuck pig.  Sure, the device is cool, but is it necessary?”

Here is my take.  The CGM is great for people who, like my sister, do not recognize their hypoglycemia; otherwise known as hypoglycemia unawareness.  In addition, a CGM is great for those diabetics who are extremely busy and/or those who exercise a lot.  I do exercise during the day, but at or around the home, so my monitor is never far away.  I also test 8-10 times a day, whether at home or at work, so I do my best to stay on top of things.  Finally, a CGM is expensive and insurance companies are still having a hard time justifying it.  I’m looking forward to the non-invasive version to appear on the market within the next 5 years.

Insulin Patch Pump  – Tubeless Pumping

Last year I made a bold decision to try insulin pumping again.  I had used a MiniMed 508c and Paradigm 511, but took a couple years off due to too many scar tissue occlusions.  My A1c was between a 6.8 and 7.  I chose the OmniPod specifically for being tubeless.  Aside from taking this summer off from the OmniPod, I really can’t complain about it.  I still love the fact it is tubeless.

OmniPod

As for the future in tubeless pumping, I understand all major pump manufacturers are now working on some form of tubeless and/or patch pump.  This is great news for insulin pumpers.  Now let’s just hope all this is affordable to us.  We can only hope.

Artificial Pancreas System – Insulin Pump and CGM

Right now, studies are being done on the so-called, ‘closed loop system’, or the artificial pancreas system.  From what I understand, the artificial pancreas system takes away a lot of the diabetes guess work (carbs-to-insulin ratios, current blood sugar levels, and insulin).  Imagine eating a slice of pizza and not having to worry about how much insulin to take, along with the strange blood sugar readings that come afterward.  The system does it all for you (okay, well mostly – you still have to push a few buttons).  This will become a huge benefit to all of us when perfected.

As a long time diabetic, I’m looking forward to the future in diabetes care and the arrival of new innovations.  I just hope these new technologies are accurate and affordable.

Trials

On this past Saturday, close family and friends threw my wife a birthday party.  The party went great with awesome family and friends, great food and drink, and love everywhere.  My wife was very appreciative and the night ended with plenty of laughter.

In order to prepare for the party, I decided earlier that morning to go back on my OmniPod – if only for the day and night.  Insulin pumps are very convenient especially with the unpredictable, e.g. not knowing when you’ll eat, how much to eat, etc.  I was looking forward to not taking a shot for every small plate of food.

Sadly, the first 4 hours on the pump didn’t go as planned.  I remained a steady 250 mg/dl blood sugar average and worse, my insulin didn’t seem to work fast enough (When changing the pod, I always give myself 2 units as a “primer”.  This usually helps with any highs I get when changing the pod.) .  Worse yet, at about the 4th hour into the new change, my BS ran a 270.  I was getting really tired and frustrated.

And as fate would have it, the floor gave way.  I felt as if my body was on a bad roller coaster ride and I couldn’t get off.  I tested with a BS of 40 mg/dl.  I quickly drank some Gatorade and ran a temporary basal at -90 percent for an hour.  Afterward, I tested at a nice 89 mg/dl.  My body felt like I went a round with the great Sugar Ray Leonard.  I was wobbly and needed sleep.  But, alas, that didn’t happen.

I did, however, have a great time at the party with much better blood sugar readings.  I haven’t gone over 140 since then.  I am thankful that I test as often as I do and don’t panic when my diabetes goes bonkers.

The Munchies

On occasion, I have the dreaded ‘munchies‘. I hate it. No, really, I do. For the munchies push me toward the large container of Goldfish crackers and require me to consume a small bowl full of them.

yummy goldfish!

But as of late, I have been successfully fighting off the cursed munchies with a spoonful of peanut butter or cheese or some form of protein.  Does it work? My gut says, “no”, but my diabetes says, “YES!”

Why? With a bowl of Goldfish, I have to take a few extra units of insulin to cover the carbohydrates. Not really a big deal if you have an active job or regularly exercise. I, however, have a desk job and being sedentary adds pounds and increases the waistline and adds shelf space and…

Oh, forget it! You get the idea. If we don’t exercise, we get (gulp!) soft. Not that I have a rock hard body, mind you, but I want to be in shape, I want to be healthy. Heck, I’m even contemplating the replacement of beer with an occasional glass of wine. (Okay, stop laughing right now! I know you’re laughing. I can hear it…)

So, any ideas on fighting the munchies? I guess I could do peanut butter on celery sticks or other vegetables. Any help is very, very appreciated.

Be strong!

Mark

As a type 1 diabetic, or IDDM as we used to be called in the old days, I give myself permission to try things.  Some of these things can be a little risky.  For example…

Take one of these…

Crystal Light

Empty it into a large class with this:

Sprite Zero

Stir and add ice if necessary.

Right now, I’m enjoy a glass of Pepsi Max mixed with a Crystal Light grape packet.  Love it!

Another kinda new thing I’m trying is Abbott’s new teststrips for their FreeStyle Lite:

Freestyle Test Strips

I’ve actually been using these for a couple of weeks and I love the new contoured shape of the strip.  A very small blood sample is used.  And, if you are a registered user with Abbott’s FreeStyle Promise Program, then your costs are really low.  I highly recommend it!

Have fun this weekend!