A1c Champions Training Progress

May 2012 078

Psyching myself out of my nerves before speaking on a panel in D.C.

 

So I’ve been in training for the A1c Champions Program.  It’s really a wonderful program which happens to be sponsored by Sanofi US.

I have had to confront my fear of public speaking head on.  It has not been easy.  It has not been without pain.  But, I’m not quitting and that fact alone makes me feel really fulfilled.  You see, my social anxiety issues go back to my preschool and kindergarten age.  When I was 5 in kindergarten, I remember wanting so badly to tell my nice teacher that I thought she was great and that I appreciated her (she was sensitive and understanding of my ways unlike many teachers to follow).  Alas, I could do no such thing.

A few years later I fell in love with gymnastics.  I really felt like it was something I could be good at.  And I’m petite and small boned and I get really muscular, I would have been able to do well, I think.  But they announced we’d have to do a routine in front of all the parents and I remember crying outside the door to the place, while my dad (or mom?) tried to convince me to not be afraid, to just go on and do it.  I did not go in.  I quit forever.  I did as much as I could at home for years, even putting on dance/gymnastic shows for my parents just for the joy of it but I always regretted quitting.

Just after that I took piano lessons, which I really enjoyed.  My instructor said I was a natural.  I did two recitals that I thought would stop my heart and then, knowing there would be more to come, I decided to quit.  I told my parents I was just choosing soccer over piano.  The truth was that on a soccer team there were a lot of us to watch versus having all the focus be on me.

There have been many more examples like this in my life.  In fact every time I had to present something in class I usually delayed the grief by claiming high or low blood sugar to which the teacher would say, “Oh sweetie, ok, why don’t you present tomorrow?”  “Ugh.  Tomorrow.”  I couldn’t win.

So learning to give an hour long program where I’m doing almost all the talking is really challenging for me.  I have a flight/fight instinct kicking in.  I’m fighting the urge to come up with some pathetic excuse as to why I can’t continue.  But you know what?  I’m not going to quit.  For all those out there with diabetes, for all the times I let my own self down, I’m going to do this.

Are you doing something that scares you?  Share in comments.  If not, find something to do that scares you!  ;)

Human Bicycle

Get ready to laugh. Photo Courtesy of Nuttakit

My friend and fellow PWD, Emily shared this on facebook yesterday and I swear this put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.  Laughter is really great medicine so enjoy!

 

 

Have a great weekend!

Three

June 2012 027

My kid’s turned three the other day.  We spent the day watching 9 little kids play together in celebration.  They all dealt with obstacles as those obstacles presented themselves (how do I reach that blackberry on the blackberry tree?)  They helped each other.  They weren’t afraid to tell the truth.  Or to cry.  Or laugh.  And when they fell down they just jumped back up and continued on their way.

If we manage our diabetes in the same spirit with which a child lives, I think we can do pretty well.

June 2012 377

The kids planted a tree with dad for their birthday.

A word on my children in case they read this one day.  Aurora is a sensitive and cheerful child.  She likes to act.  In fact, the world is her stage, almost all the time.  She can play alone for hours.  She loves to dance and sing and is very enthusiastic and kind towards others.  She is a bit of a drama queen like me, which entertains me to no end.  She loves being outdoors and discovered that she loves being barefoot outside.  So much so that I now struggle to get her to wear shoes.  Oh, and she’s very stubborn.  But I’m kind of glad about that.  Her favorite food is anything starchy or sweet (ugh).

Henri is really extroverted and friendly.  He is excitable and high energy.  When he stops moving he falls asleep.  He loves to inspect everything new that presents itself, whether that be a bug, a piece of technology, a toy, or a blade of grass.  He can be a handful but I have discovered that if he’s had his fill of social endeavor, he’s calm and happy.  If not, well, look out, that’s all I gotta say.  With all his moving about he is a surprisingly good cuddle bug and is very affectionate and loving.  He is also very decisive and bossy.  He’ll only eat chicken if there are bones attached.

The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes also turns Three!

I had began blogging with one goal in mind: to tell others that going from lowest of low to happy and healthy was possible because that’s my story.  But this blogging thing has turned into a vehicle for being a diabetes advocate and for discovering opportunities for talking to more people about our diabetes than I ever imagined.  My favorite thing is teamwork and camaraderie and working on making a real difference.  Blogging has opened up a world where these things are all possible-much more so than if I had just done what I set out to do initially.

So here’s to going with the flow and letting hard work and one’s heart lead the way.  Fulfillment doesn’t escape us that way.  I foresee blogging forever so watch out!

XOXO

ps:  If you want to guest post, I don’t care who you are, you’re welcome to (provided you’re real).  Contact me at sysy@thegirlsguidetodiabetes.com

On Meter Accuracy and What to Do in the Meantime…

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While I do give my time and energy when it comes to petitioning for better meter accuracy, I also have adopted a few personal safeguards.  These safeguards are like self imposed regulations that I don’t know how to live without.  I used to live without them but there were a lot of close calls.  And sometimes I forego them and scary things happen.

Meters being a good bit off (up to 20% off is it?) is an important issue to tackle, indeed.  But since it’s the reality of our current situation, we might ask ourselves in case we haven’t already, “What can I do about it?”  I’ll share what I do in case in inspires anyone to answer this question for themselves:

It’s been my experience that the further away from 100 my blood sugar is, the less accurate my meter may be.  Well how about that?  My meter and I mutually agree as to what my “target” is.  Just kidding.  Sort of…

Since low blood sugar comes with clearer symptoms for me and is an immediate emergency situation, I don’t question my meter when it says I’m low.  Though, if I don’t feel low at all, I will try jump in jacks and if I have energy for those I will retest because something strange is going on.  Perhaps leftover fruit juice on my fingertips from the apple I had earlier.

When my blood sugar is within my target range I relax, cheer, do a dance, etc.  But I try to have faith in my meter and assume it’s right on.

When my blood sugar is over 250, I retest.  It hurts me to retest because strips are like gold but I do it because this could happen:

Years ago, I tested 350-something.  When my blood sugar is that high, it’s hard for me to bring down so I usually push it down with a larger than usual bit of insulin.  Well, I gave insulin and then stopped.  I thought about how I didn’t feel 350 high.  So I tested again and saw I was 260.  I tested yet again and was 249.  “OK” I thought, “Now I’ve got a heck of a lot of insulin coming my way”.  Sure enough in 40 minutes I was 98 and dropping fast and still had over an hour of active insulin coming.  Nowadays the times that has happened have been handled differently.  I start to eat after 15 minutes to deflect the steep drop.

But better yet, it really doesn’t happen too often because I test twice.  If the second test is really far off from the first, I test a third time and go with the majority rule.  I would never ever test, see a high number, give insulin, and go to sleep.  Our meters are not built to support that level of responsibility.  Not with our lives.  That is a shame, yes, but that’s where our brain comes in handy.  What can we do to help ourselves against this?

Something a lot of my friends do is to eat low or moderate carb.  They have many reasons for eating low or lowish carb but one of the reasons for many of them is that this way, there is usually not a lot of insulin circulating at any given time.  And the food they eat is going to minimize the likelihood for being high enough to see super large discrepancies in their test results.  This works well for me.  In particular, what works well for me is to be careful with processed food.  I find that avoiding it makes my blood sugars more stable and my life easier because I don’t have super high highs.  And then my meter isn’t as big an issue for me as it could be.

But they should totally work on meter accuracy.  Or at the very least give everyone more strip allowance.

Please.

My Reason

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I take care of myself for my husband and children.  For my parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.  For my extended family and friends composed of the DOC.  Last but not least I take care of myself for me.

Have a fabulous Friday everyone!

Remember, love and respect yourself and the rest will follow.

XOXO

Travelling with Diabetes…and other Health Issues

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I haven’t travelled by plane too much in my life.  I’ve been to visit relatives in Venezuela, gone to Aruba with my pump (would have loved the Omnipod for that trip), went to Mexico for business and my honeymoon, and just this past week, Kansas City for A1c Champions training.

For this trip, I was so nervous about forgetting my insulin that I instead forgot my anxiety and allergy medications.  So not only did I not have my anxiety relief, I endured awful withdrawal symptoms like nausea, extreme anxiety, sweating, insomnia, and dizziness.  And since I didn’t have allergy relief, I got a sinus headache, sore throat, and swollen limph nodes.  Thank goodness the training and the people there were all splendid because without all that going well I would have cried the entire time.

Thanks to that anxiety I was having, my adrenaline sent my blood sugars skyrocketing.  Oh and plane rides seem to make my blood pressure drop, too.  I was almost sure I was going to pass out a few times and since I had forgotten my medic alert bracelet (another genius move), I had to write type 1 diabetes on my wrist with a permanent marker.  Geez, diabetes, how I’d love to leave you at home.

I’m better now and very equipped with information on how to not forget things when I travel again next month (aka, make a travel check list!)  Fingers crossed for a better travel experience.

Any tips for dealing with low blood pressure and motion sickness on planes?  I’m going to be travelling more and could really use some advice on what helps.  Asking the stewardess for a vomit bag does not make the poor soul next to me feel very comfortable.

By the way, if you’re curious about the A1c Champions program, it’s AMAZING.  Seriously, AMAZING.  You can learn more here: A1cChampions.com

Low Blood Sugar Dreams

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I don’t know about you but when I have a low blood sugar at night, I end up having dreams I remember when I awake.  If my low comes on really slowly, and most of mine do, the threat isn’t as immediate and I sometimes find myself in a lucid dream while somehow acknowledging I’m low but refusing to stop the fun.

The other night I dreamt Kelly Kunik, a diabetes blogger, ran and won a marathon.  Last night I dreamt that I was suddenly Angelina Jolie’s secret agent, hired (hmm…I don’t remember getting paid) to hack into a computer (though hmmm she provided a password) and retrieve some secret information before Brad Pitt found it.  Where was Brad Pitt in my dream, you ask?  He was lurking in the shadows trying to get the info before I did!  He was not very skilled at trying to get to the computer because I wasn’t very good and I beat him to it (he was much like his dopey character in “Burn After Reading”).  Then I got the info, whatever it was, back to Angelina “Boss” Jolie and she thanked me with a silent nod (though I never got paid…) and then I ninja rolled on the carpet and leapt out of a window in my black secret agent suit, never to be seen again.

At that point I let myself wake up because my mission was over and my blood sugar was low.  So I muttered to my husband, who had been in my dream dancing at Angelina and Brad’s party, “Aleeeex…”  He jumped up in the most freaky alert way “Low?!”  I nodded.  He brought me juice.  Then I laughed because the last thing I remember from my dream is someone saying “Wow, your Alex can really dance!”  And from what I remember he was doing something undeniably goofy.

Wacky dreams happen to me when I have lows and I find it helps with the sting of resentment towards lows, that’s for sure :)

Does this ever happen to you?  Any crazy dreams you can tell us about that will make me not so embarrassed about what I just shared?

One For Every Year

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My most memorable thoughts about diabetes for each year with diabetes, starting with the first year as an 11 year old:

1994  “I can do this.  No, I won’t go to diabetes camp, I’m just like everyone else, I’ll go to regular camp.”  “Ok, regular camp was fun but I thought I was going to die”.

1995  “Alright, I don’t like this at all.  I’m not sure I can do this.”

1996  “I can’t do this!  But I don’t want anyone to know…”  “I just want to be normal”.

1997  “Recovering from a gum grafting surgery.  So this is what happens when I try to be normal.  Not fair.”

1998  “I wonder what boys think about my diabetes?”

1999  “I hate diabetes.”

2000  “Feeling out of control.  Help!”

2001  “The way things are going, I might as well give up.”

2002  “I can’t do college while panicking like this.  I can’t even pick up a pencil.”

2003  “Can I turn my life around?  Is it possible?  I can’t live like this anymore.”

2004  “Ooooh…alcohol…what a nice way to forget my problems!”

2005  “Alcohol is useless.  Trying to do better.  Trying to do better.  Trying to do better.”

2006  “Eat this not that.  Do this not that.  Change is hard.  Super hard.”

2007  “Wow, I’m doing better…Just keep going.”

2008  “A1c is down.  Weight is down.  I can run a 5k every day.  Getting married this year.  Happiness is totally up.  I can’t believe this is my life now.”

2009  “TWINS!  Must. Have. Sleep.”

2010 “We’re not poor, we’re just struggling. (Can I borrow a $5 for groceries?)”

2011 “Hello DOC!”

2012  “I can do this!  Wait a minute…I am doing this.”

Life ebbs and flows.  When you’re on the up, enjoy it and take steps to safeguard your future.  When you’re down, know that you will be back up again.  Just don’t give up hope.  Giving up hope prolongs the process between going from down to up and we don’t want that.  Don’t give up hope.

The Dangers of Some Diabetes Medications

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*This is a guest post from Barb Stephens from Drugwatch.com, a website which raises awareness to consumers about drug safety information.

There are more than 25 million Americans who have diabetes — that’s more than 8 percent of the population. You may be one of them. If you’re like the majority, you have type 2 diabetes, which means your body does not produce enough insulin or your cells do not use insulin efficiently.

Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to help you control your diabetes. Make sure you are aware of the dangers of any drug you are given, as side effects for diabetes drugs can range in severity from minor pain to impaired vision to cancer and even death.

Drugs with Severe Side Effects

Thiazolidinediones are the most popular class of diabetes drugs. These medications work by increasing the sensitivity of cells to insulin. Unfortunately, the three drugs in this class have all had serious problems.

Rezulin was the first drug in this class, but it is no long available after being linked to liver failure.

Avandia (rosiglitazone) was the next hit in this class, but it too has been shown to cause severe side effects, including a higher risk of heart attack and liver failure.

Avandia is no longer available in U.S. pharmacies. A few patients still take it, but they have to go through a special program to have access.

Actos (pioglitazone), the world’s best-selling diabetes drug, has also been a huge disappointment.

Bladder cancer is one of the more dangerous side effects of Actos, and in some cases proves fatal.

One study showed that Actos (and Avandia) heighten risk for macular edema, which causes swelling in the eye. Another study showed that the same two drugs raise the risk of bone fractures in post-menopausal women.

Drugs with Less Severe Side Effects

There are other popular diabetes type 2 medications, which all come with common side effects (including low blood sugar). Most of these side effects are milder, like stomachaches, weight gain and gas. Many of these side effects will decrease as your body adjusts to the medication.

Biguanides work by preventing the liver from releasing a high amount of glucose.

Side effects may include nausea, metallic taste in mouth, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, gas and loss of appetite.

Sulphonylureas work to decrease blood sugar by stimulating insulin release from the pancreas.

If you retain water, have congestive heart failure, or have cirrhosis of the liver, approach with caution.

Side effects may include upset stomach, skin rash or itching, weight gain, breathing difficulties, drowsiness, muscle cramps, seizures and swelling of the face.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors stop enzymes that help digest starches, which prevents blood sugar from spiking.

Side effects may include upset stomach, diarrhea and gas.

Meglitnides stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin.

Side effects may include upset stomach.

D-Phenylalanine Derivatives stimulates insulin production after a meal.

Side effects may include dizziness and weight gain.

Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV) inhibitors help insulin to work longer and prevent the liver from producing too much glucose.

Side effects include runny nose, sore throat and headaches.

While the FDA looks into the more serious side effects of these medications some patients have chosen to start filing cases against companies, an example being an Actos lawsuit after incidents of bladder cancer resulted when taking the medication for longer than a year.

You can take an active role in the health by alerting your doctor to any pre-existing conditions and any significant change in your health. You should also read all of the materials that come with your medication.

Author bio: Barb Stephens is a writer for Drugwatch.com. She uses her knowledge about medications to help raise awareness about drug safety and to educate consumers and patients.

My Biggest Worry about Pumps

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“Ketones” by Ana Morales

 

I’m all about people using pumps if they like them (or don’t like them but find they manage their diabetes well with them).  It’s a wonderful device and I’m happy technology like that exists for us.  I used a pump for 7 years, which is plenty of time to experience just what pumping is all about.

So I want to talk about something I noticed during my pumping years and after them.

It occurred to me recently that my numbers rarely go high enough to induce DKA.  I can count on one hand the occasions in the past 5 years where my blood sugar has gone over 350 and it hasn’t been over 400 in 6 years.  I’ve been off the pump for 6 years and find I can’t go back, yet.  One of the most dangerous things in my mind is DKA and very high blood sugars.  I experienced super high blood sugars enough as a teenager to know I never want to go through that again.

When I was on the pump, it was a regular monthly occurrence to have a 400+ blood sugar reading and it was almost always due to a pump or tubing or pump site malfunction.  I knew that my being human provided sufficient variability and error to my diabetes management and I began to seriously resent the pump for adding to that risk simply because I didn’t have the energy to keep up with it’s extra requirements.

What I mean is people who don’t endure these pump issues have very good discipline when it comes to changing their pump site and checking their tubing and changing the site when they suspect they need to.  However, I know that many of us don’t do this.  I completely understand why-it’s hard to keep up this kind of diligence, especially if it means inserting a painfully long needle more times than we’d like.

Those who use pumps should probably be in a very good place when it comes to their motivation to do all that is necessary to successfully use the pump.  I was not one of these people because I resented wearing the pump and as a result, kept my site in too long sometimes and suffered the consequences.  Of course, sometimes, we can do everything right and something wrong can still happen with the pump though the likelihood is very much decreased if we keep up the right routine.

I love using syringes because I get piece of mind each time I give insulin, knowing I don’t have extra variables to contend with (there are SO many as is).  And mostly because I never have a high blood sugar surprise that is a result of my not receiving any basal insulin for a mysterious amount of time.  The danger of very high blood sugar isn’t just that, it’s also the lows that can result from giving insulin over and over again in an effort to push that really high and resistant blood sugar down.

Obviously there is more involved in keeping blood sugars stable.

Reducing my carbs and using shots has made my blood sugars so much more stable, with little extra effort involved.  And to me that’s practically miraculous in terms of gains to my quality of life and health.  So while I don’t mean to say that people shouldn’t use a pump I just think we should each be honest with ourselves about how it works for us.  I realized I was no longer a good candidate and got off the pump and there is nothing wrong with that.  And there is a good possibility that one day I’ll get back on a pump.  They are making wonderful improvements to pumps each year and I’m becoming a more responsible and disciplined person each year.

Very well meaning people tell me all the time, “but don’t you miss being able to sleep in and eat when you want?”  News flash my friends, there are now long acting insulin such as Lantus which serve as a basal insulin.  The NPH and R insulin of the past are just that.

I guess what I’m saying is, are you having a lot of extremely high numbers due to pump issues? If so, work to reduce them with your healthcare team and if you know in your heart that you aren’t keeping up with site changes and all the pump requires, think about your options.  Whatever you do, do it in favor of your health.  Everything else will surely fall into place.

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