Friday, April 18, 2014

Life is a Highway

Life is a Highway… What a great driving song!

It is also a great metaphor for living life – and driving – with diabetes.
Despite the temptation, and except when we are driving on the autobahn, most of us try to stick to the speed limit, more or less – and some of us are better at it (or luckier) than others.

When you have Type 1 diabetes, one must take care not to ‘drive low’, by observing personal blood sugar limits. Just as any driver will put on a favourite driving song when hitting the road and putting the pedal to the metal. In doing so, risk factors are assessed – personal safety, risk to others, and if making poor choices, one ultimately can face fines, or worse.

It’s the same with blood sugars. There’s no room for error, because errors can end up with dire consequences – for yourself and for others.

For me, I won’t get behind the wheel if my blood sugar is below 5.0 mmol/90 mg. An additional rule that I observe – if I’m in that mid-5.0 area (100 mg-ish), and my CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) is showing a down arrow (telling me “Warning! Falling blood sugars”) when I am heading out the door, I won’t get behind the wheel then either. I’ll sit down, load up with carbs and/or sugar, and wait it out.

Work will have to wait.
Grocery shopping will go on hold.
Life is absolutely suspended until I’m in a drive-safe range.

Once I get behind the wheel, the checking doesn’t stop. In fact this is when I become more alert – to the way I am feeling, and also to be in tune to what my CGM is telling me. Although it is set to alert me at 4.4 mmol/80 mg, when it does alert me, it means that I’ll pull over without delay, and will sit there, scarfing down glucose, until my BG rises above that magical 5.0/90 mark, with an up arrow. I don’t ask questions.
There's no load, I can't hold
Road so rough this I know
I'll be there when the light comes in
Tell 'em we're survivors
From "Life is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane
So driving with Type 1 diabetes. No excuses. No “I’m almost there”. And that's that.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Diabetesopoly: The Living With Diabetes Game

February 3rd was Diabetes Art Day, and yes, Mom, I'm still late with my assignments. Some things never change. 

Much like the ubiquitous board game, living with diabetes is a strategic effort between the body, the mind and many external factors. As much as this piece shows many aspects to be considered by people living with diabetes, it also gives an insight into the complexity of living with it.

Larry and I collaborated on this board. Larry has been living with Type 2 for about 8 years and I've been living with Type 1 for 25 years. Needless to say, we've been around the board a few times.

Imagined by: Larry & Jamie
Medium: Digital (using Excel 2007)
Monopoly Copyright: Public Domain

I admit, our submission went beyond the norm, but what the heck. I think Larry and I have expressed ourselves quite nicely via this traditional office software turned alternative art form - a digital media and a simple game board. And believe it or not, Excel and lots of imagination were the only mediums used for this project. Ok, I admit, the cupcake image was 'borrowed'.

In our household, we express ourselves in two ways - words and music. Of course it can be argued that music is an art form, but does not work well in this format. As for words, by default, are somewhat off limits for the nature of this project.

This creation has been posted at this year's Diabetes Art Day 2014 Gallery. I urge you to wander over there at some point soon. It's definitely a worthwhile trip.

Now, for the uninitiated who might be wondering what Diabetes Art Day is all about, it is best summed up by Lee Ann Thill:
Diabetes Art Day is a web-based initiative for the Diabetes Online Community to “tell a story” about life with diabetes though creative visual expression. It’s a way for us to tell our stories so we can connect and share with each other and with our loved ones. It’s a way to generate diabetes awareness outside of the DOC by sharing artwork on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and community websites. Diabetes Art Day is for people young and old with any type of diabetes and their families, so children, spouses, parents, siblings, or anyone who is affected by diabetes can participate. For this one day, you’re encouraged to break out of your linguistic comfort zone, bust out some art materials, and make a piece of artwork – painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, an installation piece, a mixed media something or other, or whatever you can imagine. Whether you have lots of experience making art or none at all, Diabetes Art Day is for you to show the world what it’s like to live with diabetes in that “a picture is worth 1000 words” kind of way. 
So there you have it. Our Diabetes Art Day submission for 2014. We'd love to hear what you have to say about our alternative art expression.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pausing to breathe

With holiday time upon us, I am reminded of the type of world that we find ourselves in, and the technology that is part of it. Whether the latest Nintendo, tablet or the handy robot vacuums that wander our houses, something is always competing for our attention.

Actually, I kind of wish my pump looked like this. Pump manufacturers, take note

When you have type 1 diabetes, even more technology makes demands on you everyday, all day. Remember those tamagotchis? Feed me, pet me, play with me now, or you will be sorry. If you treat me well, I might play nicely. For a while.

But there comes a time when it just seems to much. This past summer, this reached a critical level. My pump and CGM seemed to be nagging, demanding, day and night. One in particular went rogue. Rogue because there seemed to be no discernible benefit, because it was wrong much of the time, so after more lost sleep, I wondered what's the point. I put it aside for the time being, but when I upgraded my OS on my Mac, Carelink, which is used to upload boatloads of data, was ill prepared for the upgrade, and was deemed broken; the last straw. My colicky tamagotchi babies were laid to rest.

So I hauled out my Ping out of my trusty Dbox (my treasure box of diabetes supplies and retired equipment), programmed it up, ordered supplies, and I haven't looked back. Mind you, I still don't have a CGM but one day I will do something about that. I have mixed feelings about ramping up the technology again. I am rather enjoying the relative peace that the Ping provides.

I admit, some technology does improve quality of life. But one day, barring a cure (ha!) (sorry that was a cynical slip), I hope to only have to worry about the feeding and watering of a Diabetes Alert Dog. Not only will that dog give me peace of mind, but an occasional appreciative wag of the tail after a long walk, which would be much more than my CGM could ever give me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bad Word Wednesday: Redacted Edition

Infusion set failures. Let me tell you about them.

For those who pump insulin, you know what that can mean. For those who don't know, it can lead to high BG readings that don't want to budge, not because you had that second brownie and didn't bolus the requisite amount of insulin, but because some [redacted] piece of [redacted] plastic failed to properly insert another piece under my skin properly. But instead of, say, trying to deliver for 5 minutes, and then telling me, "Hey, over here! I'm not working so well!", it lets me carry on with my bedtime routine. Until…

4:30-something [redacted] a.m.

Beep beep beep. 

I roll over to check the phone on my bedside table. Not time to get up yet. I roll over to go back to sleep, knowing my trusty first alarm is scheduled for 5:55 am. 

Beep beep beep.

I reach over to poke my phone, trying not to wake up too much.

Beep beep beep. 

Then I realize that it's my [redacted] pump. I squint in the darkness, and see the dreaded No Delivery alert. 

No this is a perfectly acceptable notification if it is, indeed, out of insulin because I hadn't loaded it up with insulin. However, I inserted the set right before bed. Something had gone wrong with the installation of said set, and I had to do something about it. Now. 


So out of bed. Which means there's a required trip to the bathroom (yeah, because I am of a certain age), and downstairs to the Diabetes Supply Bin, unwrap a new infusion set, find a good spot on my body with my eyes squinting in the [redacted] too bright light of the dining room. 

Next comes a BG test to find out where I'm at.

16.9 mmol (300 mg)


... and a lot more profane words than that were going through my head. And [redacted] that, I'm annoyed and starting to wake up too. This is just a piece of crap. 

Nonetheless, I bolus the suggested amount and crawl back into bed. I think I noticed that it was just after 5 now. Less than an hour before the first alarm. 

Fast forward to breakfast time. 6:20 am. Time to test, and THIS is what I get?! 


BTW 15.9 mmol = 286 mg = not much [redacted] difference from 1-1/2 hours ago.

Ok, moving on....