Tag Archives: dsma blog carnival

I’ve Never Hid My Diabetes and Here is Why

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DSMA Blog Carnival topic for March:

“Does your employer/school/friends know you have diabetes? Why or why not?”

I have never interviewed for a job without disclosing my type 1 diabetes in the first few minutes of the interview.  I thought I’d make them think “Either she’s crazy or she isn’t afraid of what we’ll think about her”.  I’m a fan of bold moves during interviews-makes things more exciting for everyone.  I know it was a risk but out of about 10 job interviews in my life I’ve only once not gotten the job (in that case I totally bombed the interview).  And I’ve been lucky to have never been fired from a job.

I share this to say that I suspect confidence and demeanor probably do more to create an impression on your employer of reliability and ability than one’s having diabetes.  I might be wrong or I might have been lucky but that’s how it’s always been for me.  I imagine it helps to look relatively healthy and happy as well.  Smiling and assuring them that I take care of myself is something that worked for me (even if that wasn’t all true at the time).

People at school have always known of my diabetes because my mom was very adamant about meeting with all my teachers (even when I was in high school) and looking them in the eye and very seriously explaining what the diabetes thing was all about.  She’d insist that whatever I needed to do like test, eat, use the restroom, should not be questioned.  (Yay mom!)  This made it impossible for me to hide my diabetes even if I had wanted to.  Teachers would be very aware of me.  I’d get my little snacks out and they’d discretely ask me how I was doing.  Or they’d make a little note on my homework or test paper reminding me that if I didn’t feel well or needed something I shouldn’t hesitate to let them know.  It was comforting to have them know.  I believe that it’s possible I got more tutoring help from teachers because of having diabetes but that could just be a figment of my imagination.  If that’s true, then being open about having diabetes sent me extra help, understanding, and support my way.

And then because intense diabetes management has a hard time hiding anyway, I was open with everyone in general about it.  I wanted friends to know about my diabetes.  I happened to be friends with really sweet, caring kids who all had great parents.  That helped a lot.  I was never teased or made to feel bad about my diabetes by a peer.  But then again, I don’t recall ever teasing or bothering anyone about anything, ever (though I did punch a few boys who deserved it).  I think that helped, too.  And if someone did say hurtful things, I can’t remember anything about that right now.  Weird huh?

*Side Note: I completely understand someone’s unwillingness to share their diabetes with others readily.  If my life had gone a little differently with other experiences, had people not been as supportive, or had someone poked fun at me…well, I’m sure I’d done different.

To read other awesome submissions for this topic, click here.

DSMA Blog Carnival January 2012

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I’m barely squeezing in DSMA’s Blog Carnival entry for this month which asks the question:

What is the one thing you are looking forward to this year?

My formal answer is…my health coaching business!  It fits into my life and personality perfectly.  And though I love being with my kids, I do think I’m one of those moms that needs a part time thing to stay sane.  Not to mention, the way the economy is these days…I can totally get why both parents often work to make ends meet.  We are no different.

Now for my secret, locked away answer. My kids will be turning three in June and I look forward to them talking.  By now, yes, they are technically behind.  But, luckily, that’s the only set back that can be observed AND…I feel like it’s right around the corner.  My son talks all the time only you really can’t make out much of what he says.  It’s time for him to stop using “twin gibberish” or “twinspeak” and start using English or Spanish.  He knows both.  Son, just pick one.  I beg you.

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My daughter on the other hand doesn’t say much.  She likes to make a lot of noises.  She can imitate any noise (or action for that matter, she could be a very talented mime).  She can do any animal sound, even an elephant (an advanced one, in my opinion) and the other day I heard her repeating her leaptop’s alphabet sounds.  She can pronounce the sound for every letter in the alphabet.  I’ve heard her say well over 50 words by now.  But she doesn’t like repeating them.  It’s like she doesn’t want to talk, yet.  Weird, because mom is such a blabbermouth and clearly, it’s so much fun.  Anyway, I think she has a pretty wild sense of  humor.  Yesterday for example, Alex encouraged her to say “mama” instead of “papa” when calling out to me.  She can say “mama” and she does say it, but she thinks it’s funny to say “papa” because I’m like, “No! I’m mama!”  We asked her to say “mama” quite a bit and you know what she did?  She spent the rest of the evening calling me “Sysy”, instead.  You see what silliness I’m dealing with here?

Christmas Day 2011 145

Anyway, the reason that this is something I’m really looking forward to is not just because it’s convenient and fun to have them talk but mostly because deep…deep down I sometimes wonder if my kids don’t talk yet because of my having diabetes or not breast feeding them long enough or not feeding them the right stuff or just doing something wrong.  I usually understand that this happens to plenty of kids and I know it’s common in twins, but on certain days, I find myself scared that somehow I’ve ruined them.  Perhaps with toddler TV shows or by somehow being an inadequate mom.

It’s often an asset to be the type that analyzes situations to death but when it comes to parenting I think it drives a person nuts.  Surprisingly, it’s been helpful to write this post out.  It has helped me realize I just want to focus on making the most of this year by doing things with them like finger painting, howling at the moon, running in the grandparent’s yard, playing with cousins, dancing on the balcony when it rains, and hopefully, when they are ready, having long conversations…about anything.

DSMA October Entry Post

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The question is: What types of decisions and frequency of diabetes related decisions do you make in any given day?

My initial reaction to this question is, “Ugh, where do I begin?”

You see…because my type 1 diabetes involves so many decisions each day, many of them are kind of innate.

I feel this is a good time to share something.  You may think I’m nuts or a liar or both (or maybe you do this, too!) but for example, I never consciously carb count.

Seriously.  I can’t remember the last time I “carb counted”.

Before you think I’m psycho…have you ever driven to work or someplace usual and realized as you parked, “I don’t remember driving here”.  In other words, you were not fully present in the act of driving some place because you do it all the time and just go through the motions.  Ever done that?

That’s what I do with carb counting.  When I realized this today, I checked out my meter.  This past week I’ve tested about 8 times a day, averaged 130 on my meter for the past week, and had 3 lows (62, 53, and 58).  So I’d say that my insulin has been approximately on target for what I eat.  This tells me that I’m aware enough to do a pretty decent carb count, just not aware enough to remember the steps.  It’s a dangerous place to be because that’s how I’ve also given 20 units of fast acting insulin instead of Lantus.  On um, two occasions in the past.  I’m on autopilot so much and in those instances I grabbed my insulin and just dialed the units, without giving much thought to how many units or which insulin I had. I’ve also tested, walked away from my meter and 20 minutes later said, “Omg, I don’t recall looking at my blood sugar result” and have had to check the memory on the meter for the last result.  Suffice to say I’m working on being more mindful when I test and give insulin and prepare to know how many carbs I’m going to have.

If you have diabetes you already know all of the decisions I make and how often I make them.  Because you make them, too.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to discuss a personal phenomenon of mine, one I’m trying to break.  After 17 years of looking at food and automatically scanning it for carbs, it’s a difficult change to make.  However, I’m pretty sure it’s a habit that needs to be adjusted.

Any of you do this?  Just look at a plate of food and subconsciously add up the carb count, translate that to insulin units, and give the insulin?  If you do and if it’s any consolation, it’s like we diabetics are a new breed of human.  Kind of magical, even.  Now if only I could clean the house without even being aware I’m doing it.  THAT would be magical.

Check out more DSMA October carnival posts here!

September DSMA Blog Carnival Entry

Sept 2011 002

To read more entries in this blog carnival, click here.

If I didn’t laugh about life with diabetes and twins, then I would be like a chicken with her head cut off.

Seriously!  I grew up surrounded by four younger siblings.  So I’m used to dodging toys on the floor, building tents out of blankets, child versions of recipes that for some reason include grass, “cologne” made of pine needles, my stuff “magically” disappearing, the house rarely quiet, and of course, the sense that in my own home, I could never be alone.  But, having siblings and having kids that rely on me are two VERY different things.

Today, I step over the Legos to prepare breakfast for the kids as they were carrying out a tug of war with a blanket.  Eventually one let go and the other is sent flying into the wall.  That was Henri and he is what I like to call compact and strappy because he falls, flips, rolls, and nothing ever seems to slow him down.  He bounces really well.  Henri doesn’t like being thrown into the wall and takes off running and in a move that would impress any NFL player, he soars through the air to tackle his sister, his little arms ready to get around her.  Really?  We’re tackling now?  Not in my house!  I intercept this and put my arms around Henri until he stops squirming and the aggression dissipates.  Aurora looks at him as if to say, “haha, mommy stopped you!” and then she prances along her way, as usual.

I’m explaining to Henri that we don’t tackle one another when Aurora happily pops out of the kitchen with the sharp cooking shears.  She points them forward while closing and opening them and smiling.  It almost looks like a scene from a horror movie.  I run and intercept that disaster and hide the shears out of reach.  I didn’t know they could reach those drawers.  I am suddenly well aware of all the “weapons”  the kitchen is equipped with.

I look over at the kids to find them side by side with their arms around each other, smiling.  “Awww you guys that’s more like it!”  Then I look over on the floor and see a few of my favorite books from the bookcase, with shreds of paper all around.  “Ughhh”.  Henri jumps into action and helps me pick up the pieces of paper.  I wonder if this may be a sign of guilt…  “Thank you, son”.  Aurora surprises me and picks a few pieces up, too but then, while spinning around, throws them up into the air and laughs.   I go on about how we treat books carefully and gently when I notice Henri grabbing the large wooden table top cover that belongs to their play table and resting it against the couch.  Then he slides down.  And guess who wants to join him?  Only, their combined weight of over 60 pounds is too much for this table top so I try to take it away before it snaps.  This results in me having a child wrapped around each one of my legs in protest.

Then I remember how I gave insulin for breakfast 20 minutes ago.  This is when I feel a low coming on.  This is when I laugh to myself as I walk like a lead footed zombie while dragging two heavy toddlers over to the kitchen where I grab some glucose tablets.  A little later the house is quiet and they’re playing with Legos.  I laugh again because this peaceful moment and my blood sugar holding steady at 98 will probably last all of five more minutes.

My Dream Improvement to Current Diabetes Technology

This needs a serious upgrade! Courtesy of Suat Eman

 

This month’s DSMA Blog Carnival prompt is as follows:

Over the years diabetes technology has come a very long way from the days when syringes were boiled and sharpened, and sugar was checked using droplets of urine and fizzy tablets in test tubes. Today we can choose from an array of blood sugar meters, insulin pumps, carb counting apps, data uploading programs – technology is woven into our diabetes lives. But although technology has come a long way there is always room for improvement, right? So this month give us your complaints, your ideas and your technological wishes and tell us:

What improvements or adjustments would you make to current [diabetes] technology?

My weakness is dealing with technology.  I love what it does for me but hate how it complicates things for me.  I’m more into words and ideas than I am stuff so as nifty as technology is, I get lost in it.  I can’t even work a dvd player without hard concentration.  It’s not that I’m dumb, it’s that I don’t have motivation to learn these things.  Someone nearby always knows for me anyway :)

Therefore this is what I would like:

I would like a nifty little watch that looks like this and tells me what my glucose is at all times including up and down arrows to show trending, like the CGM does.  I would like it to be 99.9% accurate, 99.9% of the time.  It would also, of course, show me the time.

This one thing would take away the need for a meter and the CGM.  I wouldn’t have to spend money on those darn test strips, the only expense would be the watch and batteries.  I would love a device that functioned like the CGM receiver to come with this watch so that parents or other caretakers can receive alarm notices and all data.  The watch can be connected to the computer to upload the blood sugar information so people don’t have to log numbers. 

I also want this gadget to help pump me up through the day.  If I’m low I want it to send my cell phone a text that says, “Get out your glucose tabs!  Everything is going to be ok”.  When I’m high I want a text saying, “oops, lol”  or “you’ll get it next time” or “take a deep breathe”.  When my blood sugar is on target without any up or down arrows I want a text that says “Yes!  Keep up the great work!”  If I’m on target and trending upward I want a text that says “Whoa, what’s going on here?”  If I’m trending downward I want a text that says “Lookout!”

I want the ability to turn off those texts at any time.  They’d probably get annoying after the first day…

That’s my dream thing aside from a cure and aside from the closed loop system that we’re all hoping might work as good as intended…

Oh and if I couldn’t have that I suppose I’d settle for reusable test strips.  At least then I’d have a bigger bank account with which to buy more diabetes technology!

What improvements or adjustments would you make to current diabetes technology?

DSMA June: Troubleshooting Diabetes

 

Photo courtesy of Renjith Krishnan

 

 

The June DSMA Blog Carnival Topic: When it comes to diabetes, sometimes it seems things change more than they stay the same. Every so often, we may start to notice things going a bit out of whack and some new blood sugar patterns emerging. Part of being an informed and educated patient is learning to identify these problems. So this month we’d love to hear:

What are the best resources you have used to help trouble shoot?

I don’t believe in just counting carbs and then reacting to the subsequent highs and lows.

My philosophy

Well…after 16 years of diabetes and lots of note-taking and troubleshooting and learning about how insulin works and what factors can influence insulin resistance, insulin absorption, and blood sugars….I don’t usually get confused about my blood sugars.  I know that sounds like an arrogant lie but I’m being honest.  I mostly get confused about why I couldn’t muster up the motivation or energy to do what I know I needed to do.  The overwhelming majority of my out of range blood sugars are due to my own self-discipline issues-which are impossible to always avoid because, duh, I’m human.  I try not to kick myself when I choose incorrectly, I just move on.  I believe in accepting full responsibility for my actions but showing guilt the door.  Anyway, here is how I have arrived to this point.  I certainly didn’t get to this place quickly or easily.

Low blood sugars

When my blood sugar is low, the first thing I do is to recall the last time I gave an insulin shot and how much I gave.  (I take mental note of the time every time I inject)  If it was within the past two hours then I know this low is going down fast.  Especially if I’m low and my last insulin shot was within the past hour.  So by remembering this insulin info I know whether or not I need more than 15 grams of carbs or not.  I really stay on top of these lows since they tend to feel more dramatic and are more dramatic.  

If my blood sugar is low and I haven’t given insulin in the past two hours I take my 15 grams of carbs and relax, the low shouldn’t be too harsh. 

Usually, when I’m low, I realize it’s because I didn’t eat as much as I thought I might or I forgot to finish something I was drinking which contained carbs.  This morning for example, I woke up low and right away knew that it was because I gave too much lantus (basal insulin) last night and yesterday morning I worked out 30 minutes longer than I normally do.  I had a light dinner and woke up really hungry and of course, low.  I should have known (and usually know) to have a light snack before bed or to give a little less lantus.  Either one usually does the trick for me.

High blood sugars

When my blood sugar is high, the first thing I do is to go through a mental check-list that looks like this:

-Am I PMS-ing?

-Did I give enough insulin last time I ate?

-Have I been abnormally stressed during the past few hours?

-Did I exercise within the past 48 hours?

-Did I snack on anything without giving insulin for it? (Even a bite of something turns into a high hours later)

-This is a TMI but, when was the last time I had a BM? (Believe it or not, going regularly reallyyy helps keep blood sugars regular, too)

-How much lantus did I give last night?

-Do I have any active/on board insulin?  If so, how much?

-Do I possibly have any infections?

-Am I in any pain?/ Does anything hurt? (Because that can do it, too!)

-Did I overeat during my last meal?

-Have I had any processed foods in the past 24 hours? (this makes it impossible for me personally, to avoid highs at some point in the 24 hours following processed food- and I do mean impossible)

-There are probably more but that’s what I tend to go through when I am high.

99% of the time for me, one or more of these reasons is the culprit.  So I don’t usually change my routine or my insulin doses, I just make a mental note for next time and often, I have to work on my discipline.  Lately, when I’m high it’s usually because I make a conscious decision to do something I know I shouldn’t do-or I don’t do something I know I should do.  Either way, the blood sugar is on me, not on some mysterious phenomenon.  But like I said before, and I really want to reiterate, guilt or shame have no place here.  We’re human.

Along with plenty of blood sugar checks, this is how I have avoided many lows under 50 and many highs over 250. 

After having many of the above scenarios play out, I’ve learned to see them coming and therefore prevent them instead of reacting to them when they happen. Reacting to highs and lows is exhausting and doing it for years really wore me out-much more so than using extra discipline or simply sticking to certain habits that guarantee me better chances. 

Taking notes or the journaling trouble shooting method

I really advocate for note-taking.  Not just blood sugars but activity and physical and emotional stuff, too. 

It’s so important to narrow down the cause for out of range blood sugars.  For example, when I’m nervous, I will quickly go from 100 to 300 and then have a hard time going down (and this is without food being involved!).  Lately, I’ve been dealing with more anxiety and will soon get evaluated for that because I know I can’t ignore something that is messing with my blood sugars.  I wouldn’t be so sure this was a problem without my note taking though. 

Sidenote:  This really is a challenging area for parents of children with diabetes for all sorts of obvious reasons.  The troubleshooting on my blood sugars truly got easier for me as an adult (not to mention I often relayed inaccurate info to my parents and hid emotions from them).  So parents, hang in there and never beat yourselves up.  You’re in a super hard, outside position for troubleshooting because you can’t feel what your kid is feeling and they aren’t always going to be able to articulate certain feelings and symptoms.  Please do not be discouraged.  Keep up the amazing work!

Also, I hope no one feels that I’m pushing advice on them.  I am compelled to share this info because it helped me SO much and I wish someone had shared it with me long ago.  So take it or leave it, it’s brought to you with the most sincere of intentions  :)

DSMA Blog Carnival Post for April

Love is taking the from your high diabetic wife.  (just kidding)

Love is taking the cake from your high diabetic wife. (just kidding)

 

Q: How did the relationships with other people inspire you to take care of yourself?

A: I remember when my now husband and I started dating, I suddenly felt very much pushed to manage my diabetes better.  There were concrete reasons.  High blood sugar causes me to have major dry mouth-something I wanted to avoid on dates.  We went out on a lot of active dates like hiking or playing soccer or roller blading and I did not want my blood sugars to make impressing my husband the more difficult (hehe).  I am after all, one of those girls who insist women are as athletic as men and therefore I needed my blood sugars to cooperate and not slow me down.

My diabetes management improved as soon as I discovered that I loved Alex.  I felt lost before, not sure of what my motivation in life even was.  I’m not saying a person should be one’s ultimate motivation but I guess it was a start for me considering I didn’t know what to do with my life, yet.  Once I realized something I wanted, I could buckle down and get my diabetes management together.  I made a clear path between me and him and pushed my diabetes out of my way by controlling it the best I could.

In high school when my blood sugars were out of control I remember feeling no reason to do better.  Yeah, my family wanted me healthy, sure I wanted good grades, and of course I wanted to play on the soccer team-apparently it wasn’t enough.  I didn’t sense a clear path between me and anything.  My family would love me and be there for me no matter what, I could just get by on mediocre grades, and I wasn’t going to play soccer much longer anyway.  I didn’t see my future, I didn’t imagine anything great or appealing.  I thought, “what’s the point?” 

When I became pregnant with my twins, it all became very clear.  I had no problem denying myself certain foods or testing frequently because my motivation was on target.  I wanted healthy children and that was that.

Besides wanting to always be there for my kids,  I consider a marriage a never ending work in progress so I still get motivated to be healthy for my relationship with my husband. 

I always considered my parents kind of invincible.  I always felt like they take care of me and not the other way around.  Recently, my two living grandparents have needed their children to step in and take care of them for the first time and knowing this has awakened in me the realization that I must also take care of myself so that I can be there for my parents when they need me.  Suddenly I see what my path must be and can work towards it with enough focus and energy.

The relationships in my life have helped fuel my motivation to take care of myself and I’m so thankful for them. 

Now I’m enjoying the extra oomph of support coming from the great big diabetes online community.  Being a part of this community is like getting constantly reminded that my health matters, that I matter.  Support is one of the most precious things in life.  So thanks :)

Read more carnival posts here!

Diabetes and Exercise!

Oh How I Miss You      Photo courtesy of Kanate
               Oh How I Miss You                                                                                                                                 Photo courtesy of Kanate

 

Here is another submission to the DSMA Blog Carnival, this time for March.  We were on the subject of exercise recently, discussing what was most difficult, what are preferences were, and so on.  Here is my answer.  Check out more at DSMA Blog Carnival.

The most difficult thing about managing diabetes and exercising for me is that I don’t like exercising in scheduled format but it’s what works for my diabetes management.  Doing the same workout every day at the same time means predictable blood sugars.  However, I really like doing different activities on different days and at different times of the day if I so choose.  Since this doesn’t work best for me blood sugar wise, frustration with swinging glucose eventually wins.

One thing I’ve noticed that works is to lower my lantus insulin (basal rate if you have a pump) and I stay active as much as possible morning to night.  So if I’m sitting in a chair typing as I am now, I am also holding my legs up for a leg workout.  When I get up from here I do 20 jumping jacks.  As I’m cooking in the kitchen I do squats.  And when playing with the kids, I make sure to add in a game of swing the kids around and throw them up in the air into the mix.  This works for major calorie burning but the constant activity every day helps my blood sugars.  The problem with this?  I DON’T want to do it every day so I let it run in phases.  When I feel like going back to couch potato-like status for a week, I up my lantus again and try to stick to an easy exercise schedule.

As far as the type of exercises I prefer…I prefer to play a soccer match but that’s not possible now that I’m a mom and home all day.  But I like variety, so one day I’ll do yoga and the next use the elliptical machine.  I love Latin ballroom dancing (or any kind of dancing for that matter) and do it in the living room without a partner and I will dribble the soccer ball all around the apartment around the kids and their toys about once a week.  Lately I have fallen for the kettle bell.  The kettle bell has been the most challenging work out as of late.  It causes me to break out in a sweat in only a few minutes.  It’s the easiest way I’ve found to sculpt muscles into a different shape.

I stay motivated with every blood sugar test reminding me what I need to do (not that I follow through, but I do better than I used to).  I also stay motivated out of practicality.  I don’t have money for new clothes and the clothes I already own are perfectly good so I really need to stay the size I am.  ACTUALLY…I’ve increased muscle tone by a whole lot and even though I weigh what I weighed when I got pregnant, my hips and waist are two sizes bigger!  (SO unfair)  So I’m wearing a third of the clothes I own and that motivates me pretty well to keep exercising and reshaping my body to what it once was.  Just so I don’t have to go shopping.  In fact, when I get back to the size I was, I will go shopping in my closet! 

I know some people don’t enjoy exercise and I think it’s not that they don’t enjoy it so much as they haven’t found something they love to do or that works for them.  For example, some people don’t like a gym atmosphere but also don’t feel motivated enough to work out alone so maybe they need to try walks with a friend or dance lessons or something different yet still social.  Maybe certain exercises cause physical pain.  It pays to try different things until you find what works.  I know of some people whose only exercise option is swimming and those that do it reap huge rewards!  Have you swam laps lately?  It’s a major workout! 

A series of injuries and major foot pain are what led me to the kettle bell so I didn’t have to stop exercising and luckily so because the kettle bell has given me the strength I need to keep picking up my kids who will soon hit 30 pounds in weight, each.  Plus, since using the kettle bell I’ve been having less wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain.  I have had carpel tunnel and tendonitis since my kids were born almost two years ago and I think carpel tunnel is a muscle imbalance and structural issue and the kettle bell has been rebalancing all those muscles in my arm, making the pain disappear.  The tendonitis which is more an issue of inflammation has been alleviated since getting back better blood sugars caused by exercising.  How can I not love exercise?  Woohoo!

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