Tag Archives: checking blood sugar

Wednesday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week What I Need to Clean Out

Click for the Clean it Out – Wednesday 5/13 Link List.
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.)

 

I am a sentimental fool.  Let me tell you about the lancet device I use.  Well, first let me explain that last year I was using a multi clix device and I really loved it (ooh and I know I want to try the fast clix!)  But then my dog chewed it up and I went back to my original 1994 (don’t know what brand, it has long rubbed off) lancet device.  It’s the one I’ve mostly used throughout the years.  I’ve tried new ones, agreed the new ones are better, and then my weirdo self went back to the original.

Why?  I think using this clunky, loud, and more painful device makes me feel like I haven’t had diabetes for 20 years.  There is a sense that 20 years hasn’t actually gone by.  It makes me feel younger because I was 11 when I started using it.  It makes me feel like there is some consistency to my diabetes even though I’ve been on a roller coaster in terms of how I manage my diabetes and even though my body has certainly been affected by diabetes.  People who are now long gone have laid eyes on this device, probably somewhat associating it with me.  The sound is familiar-it makes a horribly loud and clunky (not clicky) noise.  I’m appreciative of how this device hasn’t broken in 20 years despite all the times I’ve dropped it.  See?  I’ve got my silly reasons.

I’m hoping to tear away again and use a highly superior lancet device.  In the meantime I will stick with this one out of some strange sense of comfort and practicality  (because I rarely change the needle, I still have plenty of them for this device).  I just need to let go.  Accept some final things.  Like, that I’ve had diabetes a hella long time.  And that’s ok.  Because I’m ok.

How the DOC Helped Me Check Again

Part of a diabetes art showing by Ana Morales

 

There have been times when I’ve slacked when it comes to how often I check my blood sugars.  Sometimes I get down to 4 times a day and I know that isn’t personally enough-not for my aggressive control of blood sugars.  But, I rarely keep that up for long because being connected to the DOC, or Diabetes Online Community, means constant reminders of how important checking blood sugars is along with encouragement and people to really relate to.

In January I ran out of test strips because I had given half of my last shipment to my brother, who was just recently diagnosed with type 1 and then I ran out of money.  I had to put money into paying rent and bills and focused on just getting by while not feeling pity for myself but instead, feeling happy and grateful that I normally am able to afford all that I need for my diabetes.

I made a comment on Facebook about having run out of strips and was shocked by how many fellow people with diabetes suddenly told me they would send me some extras they had.  Several people knew I didn’t have a certain kind of meter and ended up sending me strips and the meter that corresponded.

It has been so heartwarming.  Strips are a precious commodity for us people with diabetes-and they cost a lot  So to me these acts of kindness are HUGE!

I was getting by decently by eating low carb, skipping meals, and trying to constantly guess my blood sugars.  Thanks to certain members of the DOC, I was able to stop the stressful madness and check again.

I can’t thank you enough,.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I accepted the help on the condition that if these people ever needed anything they’d let me know.  I hope they know I mean that ;)

Just another reason why being part of the DOC is awesome.

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.

Testing Blood Sugar, A Repressed Memory?

 

I genuinely believe that we may not remember to test (which should be a habit, indeed) because our brains treat it like a repressed memory and locks it away.  Testing can bring about a lot of negative feelings and with each passing year we may get more and more tired of it and those feelings. 

I know of many diabetics who have experienced this to some degree.  I experienced it pretty badly one year where I only tested maybe 50 times-that entire year.  Every day that year I’d write in my diary something to the effect of “What’s wrong with me?  I want to test about 7 times a day like I’m supposed to but, I just can’t remember to and the few times I do remember I just can’t do it.”  The frustration over this has been a great source of stress over the years.  I would test and see a number I didn’t like and get really physically ill over it.  So maybe my brain was trying to save my body which was crumbling under the emotional strain of controlling blood glucose by repressing the reminder to test blood sugar?

I don’t see this as impossible and the more and more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  Any of you reading know a psychologist?  We need a professional opinion.  But you’ve just heard mine, and this happening to so many doesn’t make us the ones that are wrong-why we’re the “control” in this experiment.  I think this is an example of how psychologically damaging living with diabetes can be and how an increased awareness on the issue is called for.

What do YOU think?

Diabetes Juggling Act and Scary Creatures

 

I’m often most frustrated at my diabetes when I’m forced to multi-task between it and several other things.  I am a proponent of single-tasking in order to really give things the proper attention they deserve and in order to provide a greater focus to a task.  However, sometimes life makes you juggle a few more balls than you’d like. 

This week my son has been dealing with strep throat and because he has a twin sister and a diabetic mother, the week has been kind of nutty.  It has been a never ending stream of separating the babies so the other doesn’t get strep and disinfecting everything from the ground up about 3 feet (which is a lot of disinfecting!), trying to remember when pain medicine and antibiotic was given, cooking food for each meal only to find son won’t eat it, and last but not least, trying to keep on top of blood sugars even in the midst of feeling under the weather.

Yesterday I carried both my kids for 30 minutes (50 pounds in total) because they were crying pretty dramatically and finally when I thought my arms would burn off I decided to let them cry on the floor as I tested my sugar.  It was 32.  I’m sensitive to my children’s crying so much so that I separate logic and emotions and sometimes skip a diabetes related task just trying to comfort them.  That 32 snapped me out of that!

Still, I felt immensely frustrated because the diabetes was in the way of my mothering and I didn’t want it to be.  And what if something had happened to me?  I was alone!  Well, later that day Alex came home early to help and my mother came back over (she came by that morning as well).  Three adults and two babies and it was still plenty hectic.  At least I could test at this point without a baby trying to grab my meter and run with it.

Something else has been bothering me this week…I’ve spotted a bug twice in two days that I’ve never seen before (and I’ve lived here well over two decades!)  At first I think, “A spider? no…a giant stink bug? no…an evil praying mantis?”  My husband, whom I affectionately refer to as “animal planet” felt he knew what this was and captured the 1.5 inch long creature in a jar and after a little research we discovered the bug to be a blood sucking, disease carrying, “assassin bug”.  Supposedly these bugs are bed bugs if they get in your house and like to come out every couple days and fill up on animal or human blood for about 15-20 minutes.  I’m confused because why have I seen two in two days?  Husband and wife?  And why in Virginia?  They’re also called “kissing” bugs.  Did they hear Virginia is for lovers?  Apparently they are commonly found in Mexico, Central America, and South America.  In the US they’re found in Florida and Arizona more than anywhere else (which makes sense) but, why have they come way up here?  Doesn’t matter…what matters is this thing is a vampire and looks like this:

Wheelbug, a type of "assassin" or "kissing" bug
Wheelbug, a type of “assassin” or “kissing” bug
Top View
Top View

 

Sleep well tonight…. :)

Make a diabetes back up supply stash!

 

I thought I’d let my life serve as a useful reminder for someone else again. 

All day today I haven’t tested my blood sugar.  My meter’s battery ran out.  I can’t really leave the house on my own with my 15 month old twins (we live on the 3rd floor).  I also wouldn’t attempt it without knowing my blood sugar status!

So I’ve been stuck for a while trying to figure out what my blood sugar is.  I think I figured it out.  I gave a small amount of insulin without eating and eventually started feeling low.  So I had some coffee with about 15 grams of sugar and have been sipping it slowly until I feel ok again.  So my guess is right now I’m about right. (Maybe…)

Anyway, I had extra batteries somewhere but, I can’t find them.  I bought them before moving to our current place.  My husband and I packed each night between 9 or 10pm until midnight for only a week.  So you can imagine by the last day I was throwing stuff in boxes and bags thinking “I’ll sort everything out when we unpack”.  That didn’t happen too well because the reason we didn’t have much time to pack was the reason we didn’t have much time to unpack:  those precious bundles of joy of ours. 

In case you haven’t already heard twin babies/toddlers really are a handful. 

I’ll keep searching for those batteries.  In the meantime, I urge us all to make a special stash of extra batteries for the meter, pump, and anything else that uses batteries.  Include a flash light, glucose tablets, and anything else you can think of!  Put this in a special place and then make a note somewhere (the fridge or computer maybe?) to remind you of where that stash is located.  (Don’t rely on memory it doesn’t work when you need it the most).

Wish me luck, I may have to go all day playing “Guess my glucose”.

Recent Update:  Around noon I discovered a meter my mom had received from some lady (I don’t know I just know we happily take free meters).  Anyway, It’s the Freestyle Freedom Lite.  It uses a tiny amount of blood…so tiny I find myself doubting it’s accuracy.  It gave me my reading in like 2 split seconds.  I am 81!  Not bad for guessing all morning.  When it gave the reading it beeped really loud and obnoxiously.  So thanks Freestyle but no thanks, I’ll stick with my Accucheck Aviva for now.  Well, once I get it some batteries that is.

Does this happen to you with caffeine?

 

I think I’m entirely too sensitive.  I’ve always been very emotional, have always dealt with sensitive skin, and have always responded to about half the normal dose of any medication (Seriously, you don’t want to see me on morphine pills).

So naturally, with caffeine, I’ve got to be careful.  Why you ask?

Well, like many people I love coffee in the morning (or noon…or at night) and I don’t like the taste of decaf. 

Yet, I’ve found that if I have too much coffee, I begin getting symptoms much like those I get when my blood sugar is low.  You know, shaky, irritable, anxious, fast heart beat…

Lately I’ve been enjoying 2 cups of coffee a day.  This is better than the 4-6 cups (hello, psycho!) I used to have years ago but, I think it is still too much-for me anyway.  During my pregnancy and while breastfeeding I had absolutely zero caffeine.  For the first time in many years I was caffeine free and I was amazed at how body felt so relaxed, my heart didn’t race, and I believe I was even more patient with everything. 

The biggest thing was I didn’t confuse the caffeine overdose with low blood sugar symptoms.  It was nice.  Lets face it, sometimes we eat something when we feel low without testing first because we’re sure we feel low.  Then this leads to high blood sugars because we were not really low.  Now we’re just mad because we ruined a perfectly good blood sugar level. 

Lately I’ve done this a couple of times.  Also, when I eat meals I eat them so fast because I’m all wired and the fastest thing on me seems to be my jaw.  I’ve noticed the more days I consecutively drink coffee the worse my symptoms.  The more I snap at my husband.  If I take a day or two off in between days when I do drink coffee I feel almost normal.

So I’m really wondering…does anyone else experience this with caffeine?  Or is it just me and I should quit coffee altogether before I start biting off heads or find myself testing every hour because I feel low all the time?

Maybe I should buy myself a cute little coffee cup that can only hold a tiny bit of coffee and limit myself to that each day?

Halle Berry doesn’t let diabetes age her

43 years vs 36 years old (looks the same to me)

 

I just saw an “ageless stars” feature on yahoo.  It has old pictures of Hollywood stars like Jennifer Aniston and Tom Cruise paired against recent photos of them and yeah…they look pretty much the same despite 8-10 years or so passing by.  Pretty amazing.  (Of course they have all of the resources for this…) 

Anyway, the reason I clicked on the link in the first place was because it features Halle Berry.  She has had type 2 diabetes for a very long time.  Yet, haven’t we all heard how diabetes is a degenerative disease meaning it ages you prematurely?

Forget about all of the accessibility this woman has to personal trainers and chefs, Botox, and plastic surgery (I’ve never heard of her using the two latter by the way).  You can’t hide a healthy look.  What I mean is you can’t take an overweight and unhealthy person and make them look as healthy as she does.  Sure, Halle Berry has great genes.  Yet, 2 decades of uncontrolled diabetes would have most certainly shown up on her by now.  I can literally see that she takes care of her diabetes.

The times I’ve read interviews with her have always revealed something consistent.  She is very strict with her diabetes management.  She supposedly tests several times a day, exercises every day, and maintains a very strict diet low in sugar and starchy foods.  She used to take insulin and gradually worked her way out of that need. 

I always worry that because of being diabetic I’ll end up looking a decade older than I really am.  After all, that’s what doctors used to say.  And I’ve already got about 20 grey hairs (thats right, I counted them) and although going grey early simply runs in my family, I can’t help but wonder if I wasn’t a diabetic would I have any at all?  Maybe it is just paranoia.  The other day while buying wine a lady cards me and proclaims, “Uh uh honey, you can’t be 27!  You look 18!”  She has a few others look at my ID and while everyone is determining whether or not my ID is a fake I think to myself, “Maybe I am just paranoid…”

So my inspiration will continue to be people who manage to beat negative stereotypes about diabetes-like aging very quickly.

We should all strive to keep our insides looking good.  The outside will fall in line.  So remember, focus on keeping those glucose numbers in check!  Even Halle Berry has to do it.

Does your doctor want you to use a CGMS?

 

CGMS:  Continuous Glucose Monitoring System

I’ve discovered through the diabetes forums that one of the major reasons diabetics don’t have a CGMS is their doctor doesn’t see the need.  I know all about this…I wanted one during my pregnancy and my doctor said it was unnecessary and possibly counterproductive.  He and his colleague said it might hurt me to seek tighter control. 

Seriously?  I thought tight control was beneficial!  Besides, did he miss the part where this thing beeps in the middle of the night when blood sugar gets dangerously low?  I fought to get one and lost the battle. 

I was so upset I said “forget it” and bought a watch that has many alarms on it.  I also set my alarm clock for different times during the night all so I could remember to test my sugar frequently during the pregnancy.  I also know how to eat in order to prevent blood sugar from fluctuating much and that helped a whole lot.  And so I managed to keep a 5.3% A1c throughout a very challenging pregnancy.

Still, I see the enormous appeal of  CGMS and believe that if a diabetic wants one, a doctor should at least support them in trying it out.  Maybe they won’t find it very useful, but, if they do-that’s great!  Any help to a diabetic’s control is a huge and wonderful thing.

So I’m wondering…how many of you out there use one?  Was it easy to convince your doctor?  Was it difficult?  Let us know in the comments!

A personal example of how small sacrifices can free a diabetic

 

 For me, being free as a diabetic means not having to put up with excessive checking of blood sugar and giving of insulin so that I can focus on living life. 

I have 5 and a half month old twin babies and have been stuck at home lately because:

-I’m worried my blood sugar will drop and I will be too busy to notice

-Its cold outside and I hate cold weather

-Roads are busier than usual because of all the shoppers this time of year and I don’t want to risk a car accident

-If one of my babies throws up on my clothes while we’re out I don’t know how I’ll handle it

Needless to say I’ve been secluded at home so long I’m starting to get quite paranoid.

So the other day I spontaneously suggested my husband and I should take the babies on a short outing to the mall.

I packed the twin baby bag with all the necessities and then did the same with my bag.  It was cold out and already getting dark but, when I saw the look on my kid’s faces-super excited to be getting out of the house, I knew the trip was already worth it.

We opted to leave the twin baby stroller behind and just carry our babies through the mall.  My husband and I figured hey, we are still young enough to handle the arm and neck strain this would cause.

 I checked my blood sugar in the car on the way there and saw I was 109.  I made a mental note that carrying around a 16 pound baby was exercise and I should expect a low blood sugar-and a snack in about 30 minutes.

We checked out Baby Gap, The Disney Store, and noticed how our babies wouldn’t even look at us.  They were enthralled by the new faces and all the colors everywhere. 

After about 30 minutes of walking we bought some chicken nuggets at Chick-Fil-A and a small lemonade.  My husband and I split it and I calculated in my head the amount of carbs I was having.  I didn’t check my blood sugar or give insulin because its hard to do with a wiggling baby girl in arms.

After about 2 hours we left to go home.  The babies fell asleep in the car like little angels.  I checked and found my blood sugar to be 60.  Yes!  I get to have another something to eat or drink without giving insulin.  We went through the drive-thru at Starbucks and got coffee to warm us and raise my blood sugar a bit.  We drove around for a little longer to let the babies have a nap and then made it successfully home. 

I had to enjoy a very small dinner that evening (just a few chicken nuggets) but, it was worth it because had I ate more and tried to give insulin I would have been complicating my outing and my diabetes and I might have had a more severe low later on.  Or I could have not given enough insulin and been high later-which does not feel good while carrying a baby. 

I’m not saying one should never eat but, going low carb and using some strategic planning can go a long way. 

Regarding my diabetes, our little outing was easy and carefree.  That is how I like to best enjoy things. 

What sacrifices do YOU make as a diabetic when trying to multitask or do something challenging?

Oh by the way, I only got spit up on once.  :)

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