Tag Archives: insulin

Happy Diabetes Art Day 2011!

By Ana Morales

Over the past two years, I’m pretty sure I’ve thought about my diabetes more than I ever did when I was younger. As I’ve been learning more, I’ve also been getting more scared. However, I’ve heard and read about people with diabetes that inspire me and give me hope. In my piece for diabetes art day this year, I wanted to illustrate part of the silver lining in my own and many others’ situation. Sure it’s no fun sliding needles and tubes into our skin every day and having to count carbs and wait for the insulin to kick in, but for now it’s what keeps us alive and we should be thankful that we have fairly easy access to it. At the same time, we should continue to promote diabetes awareness in hopes that one day every person with diabetes will be able to receive the supplies he or she needs.

So smile because you woke up to another day of possibility. Don’t ever forget how strong you are, even when you mess up. For more inspiration, check out the Diabetes Art Day website and The Butter Compartment, the website of Lee Ann Thill, creator of diabetes art day. I can’t wait to see what everyone else has created! Happy Diabetes Art Day! :]

Here’s what Sysy made: (she asks that you remember she is not an artist :)

It says “You deserve a halo, for jumping through hoops of fire”

And Sysy’s husband, Alex made this drawing from his perspective of things.  To him, what we diabetics do day in and day out looks like…

The Greatest Injustice in the World of Diabetes

The President of the International Diabetes Federation speaks in this video.

I was compelled to write about it.  He makes a passionate case for the need to cause an uproar of outrage against the injustices regarding diabetes.  Every day, people die in the world because they don’t have access to life-saving insulin.  It’s an outrage that a person should have to live with needles and finger pricks and the cost of those things.  It’s an outrage that a person should have part of their childhood torn away.  It’s an outrage that a person should face daily risk of death and daily worry of future complications because of diabetes. 

But what do we call a child, an adult, who dies because they were not even given the chance to fight diabetes?

If something disrupts my insulin supply, I am dead before 2 weeks pass.  It’s that fast.  Insulin is THAT monumental to someone with diabetes.  I walk around seemingly healthy, without a care in the world and unless you got to know me you wouldn’t know that I walk around with my life saving insulin in my purse at all times. 

Let me tell you a story that illustrates how I feel about my life-saving insulin.  Years ago when I was about 19 years old, I was leaving a club where I had just spent some time with friends, dancing.  On my way back to my car that night, someone sprinted past me and snatched my purse from my hand.  I know what a safety conscious person does and normally I’m that person but the only thought that went through my mind was, “My insulin and my glucose meter are in there!”  So I ran.  I took off running after a theft.  Poor guy, he didn’t know he had my insulin and that to me, that was like ripping off my arm.  So I left my heels on the pavement and I sprinted after the guy.  Back then I was really fast and I caught up to him because he didn’t think I’d chase him.  He went over two cars at some point and I followed him right over those vehicles.

I knew that screaming was a good thing because it got people’s attention so I shrieked like a mad woman, “Give me back my purse, you don’t know what’s in there, I need what’s in there!”  I’m was quite loud and got the attention of a police officer on his bike.  He followed after us and pleaded for me to stop.  I couldn’t.  I had this one track mind and the thought that I could easily replace all of my purse’s contents did not cross my mind.  We reached a dead end where the scared-out-of-his-mind guy threw my purse at me and just heaved in and out in exhaustion.  The police officer told me I was insane as he ran over to the theft-which just looked like a 16 year old boy to me. 

 There is a psychological effect that occurs in a person whose life relies on a drug, I think.  There is a particular pain that comes with knowing that your life relies on the contents of a tiny vial.  It’s sort of humbling but it’s also frustrating.  I think that’s what I acted on when my purse was taken.  I felt, panicky, in a sense and also as if some great injustice had been done to me.  I thought, “How dare you steal THIS?”

The thing is, I’m lucky enough to always have access to insulin because I have enough money to go to the pharmacy down the street and buy it any time I need it.

To me, the greatest injustice out there in the world of diabetes isn’t how we’re stereotyped or how our lives are so challenged.  It’s not how my childhood was spent largely depressed and worried that I would never fit in or do what I wanted or live as long as I could. 

The greatest injustice is people with diabetes dying because they don’t have access to insulin or the medications that keep them alive.  We’re not talking about someone thriving or being healthy, we’re talking about someone having the chance to live another day with diabetes.  We’re talking about the bare minimum-which by the way, isn’t enough.  But, we should at least be reaching this bare minimum.

We owe it to these people to take care of ourselves, to make good decisions, to be kind to one another.  We owe it to them to be their voice because they hardly have one.  They’re too busy trying to survive.  We’re trying to survive, too but we have so much more than so many others.  As humans we should feel obligated to stand up for one another and make sure we treat others with the same respect we’d have shown to us.  We can raise money for a cure, we can demand improvements on our health care, we can work to put an end to negative stereotypes, but we should also work to ensure everyone receives their most basic natural human right to a fighting chance in this life. 

For someone with diabetes, this chance begins with insulin. 

Click here to say you agree.

How to be an expert on your diabetes (plus, awesome resources for diabetics!)

 

[picappgallerysingle id=”7282463″]         Master Your Diabetes

 

Here is a follow up to Why diabetics hate going to the doctor and to The professional diabetic.

We’ve established that we all need to be well educated about our diabetes.  So where can you find the right information? 

First off, it isn’t easy.  There are thousands of diabetes resources out there.  Here are the guidelines I’ve used to try to separate the good info from the bad info.

Educating yourself about your diabetes

First, begin with the basics.

You must have a pretty thorough understanding about the following:

Know how the particular insulin you use works.  Find out how long it lasts in your system, how heat affects it, and when it expires.  This information is in the literature that comes with your prescription.  Read it and if you don’t understand something, ask your doctor.

If you use a pump, make sure you understand everything about it.  If you have ANY doubts don’t hesitate to go to the maker of your pump (perhaps their website) and get the information you need.  You might even want to find a local insulin pump educator in your area who can meet with you and answer all of your questions.  You can ask questions on online forums, too.  Just be careful about automatically trusting any/every response you get.

Know your insulin/carb ratio. 

Mine for example, is 1 unit of insulin (humalog) per every 15 grams of carbohydrates.  If you don’t know your ratio call your doctor and work out a strategy to find out what it is.  Typically, the more you weigh and the less active you are, the more insulin you need but, we’re all different so when it comes to figuring out the right ratio for yourself, be careful and get guidance from your doctor.  No guessing.

Learn to count carbohydrates.

This is where a nutritionist or dietitian comes in to help you.  They can teach you all about portions and how to read nutrition labels and how to eyeball carbohydrate content in foods.  You can probably learn a lot about this online, too.  Check out this site and this one.

Know all about diabetes complications and the signs of those complications. 

This is scary but necessary.  Learn about these here.  Or here.  And don’t be afraid but do take the information seriously.  Diabetes is serious.  We can’t get around that.  We have to meet it head on if we want a fighting chance.  When I read this stuff I take deep breathes and take some notes.  Then I do something completely unrelated like listen to music or call a friend.   

Understand how physical activity, stress, and even your monthly period affects your blood sugars. 

Go to your doctor and ask about how each of these might affect your blood sugars.  For me personally (and you may be different), physical activity lowers my blood sugar and lowers my need for insulin.  Stress makes my blood sugars go up and makes me require more insulin.  PMS makes me turn psycho and makes me require more insulin and as soon as I start my period, I have to decrease insulin again.  But, that’s just me and all I can claim to know.  Yet, it helps me out so much to know this stuff about myself so if you don’t know yet, find out.  You’ll see better blood sugars!

Journal to understand your diabetes.

Write down in a journal what you eat, how much insulin you give, and your activities throughout the day.  Make note of major moments of stress or unusual symptoms.  Track what times of the day you have problems with blood sugars and track when you feel good versus bad.  Then after a month or two look back and note any trends you see.  You could show this to your doctor and see what you two come up with.  A wonderful place to to use as a resource is Livestrong.com.  You can register for free and keep an online diary that is truly handy.  It is called My Daily Plate and it lets you track what you eat throughout the day as well as how many calories you’ve consumed and burned.  You can use MyDPlate which will also allow you to track your blood sugars and units of insulin used each day.  You can keep this online journal private or make it public.  Mine is public in case you are curious about how it may look (although I just started so there are just a few days tracked).  To see what I’m eating and how much I’m working out just go to http://www.livestrong.com/profile/SysyMorales/.  Now if I eat a candy bar you can catch me in the guilty act. 

For some info about how I problem solve, read Diabetic troubleshooting method.

Once you know all of the above you can be much better at managing your diabetes and anticipating highs and lows in your blood sugar.  You will also feel more confident with your day to day decisions.  Don’t be afraid of learning all you can about your diabetes and remember that knowledge truly is power

As you learn you can ask your doctor specific questions instead of just telling him/her you don’t know why your blood sugars are high.  Doctors can’t help us much without enough information.  When you understand the basics about your diabetes, you have a much better chance at handling any issue diabetes throws your way.

The insulin pump versus the syringe; weighing the pros and cons.

       About half of my diabetic life has been spent on the pump and the other half using insulin shots. I started out on shots, then spent 7 years on the pump and have now spent over a year back on shot therapy. There are a few things I miss about the pump but, my A1c is better using shots and therefore I’ll continue using them instead. No matter what your case is, let me share why I believe I will never use the pump again.

With the pump, I gained a lot of freedom and convenience. So much I was tempted to become “trigger happy” and give insulin anytime I wanted to eat something just because I could. Well, often, we over or underdose our insulin needs and when this happens, blood sugars become out of control. This happened to me and I gained about 40 pounds on the pump. My A1c was around a 7 or 8 which isn’t extremely awful, but we know it isn’t good enough.

The pump also complicated matters for me due to its components. With shot therapy, you have a syringe and a bottle of insulin and you know exactly how much insulin you are injecting. Unless you rotate religiously, insulin pump sites create a lot of scar tissue which over time can cause difficulties, pain, and bleeding when inserting or removing a site. The tubing can have air bubbles in it, meaning some insulin may not reach you like you think, causing an unexpected high glucose reading. The pump itself has many safety checks, but it is STILL a machine which can err. After a few years on the pump I became paranoid that something wrong would happen to the pump or the tubing or with my site (because things DID go wrong) and I would distrust the machine and often give too much insulin “just incase”.

So about a year ago I got off of the rollercoaster. I was scared to do this thinking about the freedom I would sacrifice. I first bought a gorgeous orange leather clutch with 2 zipper pockets to fashionably store syringes and bottle of humulog in. When I pull this out in public people have no clue what I’m doing.

I also began taking 20 units of lantus insulin every morning. I don’t like giving shots (who does?) so I only gave a shot when I needed it or before meals. I gave a shot to cover only those snacks I deemed worthy of giving an extra shot for. I ended up losing weight and getting better glucose readings.

Often for lunch, I’ll have a salad and some nuts or chicken. Before I begin eating I give a tiny shot of about 1 or 2 units (depending on what is in the salad) and then I eat and relish the fact that I’m not connected to a tiny machine which is unpleasant and time consuming to connect every other day, isn’t waterproof, and often gets in my way when I’m doing an activity. And because I didn’t give much insulin and kept my carbs low, I almost always maintain perfect glucose after a meal-meaning I stay feeling good and my mood doesn’t plummet.

Sometimes, as with jewelry, its true ladies, less IS more. So if you are on the pump and your control could be improved, I urge you to try using shots, especially if my experience sounds familiar to you and you eat too much and too easily because of those convenient little buttons.

If you have great control on the pump and love using it-awesome! I commend you and urge you to continue exactly what you are doing.

Why should a girl care about what Bruce Lee had to say?


 

“One does not accumulate but eliminate.  It is not daily increase but daily decrease.  The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” 

~Bruce Lee

When I stumbled upon these words by Bruce Lee-master of martial arts and fascination to every man on earth, a light bulb went off. 

I realized I had been practicing this very idea with my diabetes management for some time.  Bruce Lee was right on with this.  Here’s why:

First off, I decided a while back to simplify the task of giving insulin by following a lower carbohydrate diet.  What I eliminated were some carbohydrates. 

This allows for less insulin administering and smaller scale errors afterwards.  It also translates into less time waiting for the insulin to work before eating.  Sometimes I eat something which I don’t have to give insulin for, depending on my blood sugar at the time and in that case there is less pain, too. 

All in all I eliminated a lot with one move. 

Another example is when I switched from using an insulin pump back to the humble syringe.  I wanted to eliminate the possible impediments of air in the tubing, a faulty insertion site, and a mishap with the computer of the pump itself.  Any of these issues would hurt my diabetes management (and frustrate me).  So I eliminated them. 

Left to use was a bottle of insulin and a syringe.  I draw up the exact dosage I need everytime and inject in a different spot (practicing good rotation).  Then I relish in the fact that I don’t have to worry about the insulin not reaching me for some reason.  And if I am not home I don’t have to worry about a problem with the pump-which would makes me return home to fix or take the time to inconveniently redo the site wherever I’m at. 

Simple, yet reliable.

These two changes alone have made my life so much easier AND have allowed me to take my A1c level to the 5% range.

Oh yes, and did I mention I lost weight?  It is more tempting to hit a button on the pump than pull out a needle and inject. 

So just think about this concept, you don’t have to try anything I have.  Just consider what you might simplify in your life.  Then joke with your guy about having something in common with Bruce Lee.  He’ll give you a strange look, but he’ll be listening.

 

 

 

What a type 1 diabetic’s handbag should always contain

 

     A woman’s handbag is precious to her. Inside she may have headache relief medicine, a cell phone, tampons, make-up, a mirror, her money and checkbook, and possibly a note pad and paper. A diabetic woman’s bag should contain a few additional items:

1. If you don’t wear some sort of diabetic alert bracelet or necklace, you should have a medic alert card or some kind of ID in your purse containing information about your diabetes including the fact you are insulin-dependent.

2. A tube of glucose gel. This can be purchased at your local pharmacy. I get one called “Insta-Glucose”  Someone uses this in the case you go unconscious from low blood sugar because it slides down the throat.

3. A Glucagon injection kit. This is also used in the case you are unconscious from low glucose but, it is an injection. Loved ones with whom you spend a lot of time should review the instructions of how to use this. Make sure yours has not expired. This is only provided by prescription from a doctor.

4. Plenty of glucose tablets. I recommend these over juice or candy because it is easy to drink too much juice or eat too much unmeasured sugar in candy. Either way you choose to do it, keep enough sugar for back up. This is to avoid the case where you use one sugar stash in an emergency and are then left with none. What if your sugar drops again? I always keep a back up sugar supply just in case. Occasionally, my blood sugar drops so low I need double the amount of sugar, as well.

5. Glucose meter with enough strips in case you were to get stranded somewhere. Don’t leave the house with less than 10 strips!

6. Insulin and more than one syringe if you do injections.

7. If on a long trip or far from home, make sure you have a lot of extra supplies handy. You never know what could happen. The hassle today could save you from a big one tomorrow!

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