Monday, July 9, 2018

I'm Off To #FFLOrlando18

I'm heading back to Orlando this morning to attend the Children With Diabetes, Friends For Life Conference, at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. 
And #FFLOrlando18 on the Social Media - and I can't wait! 
This is my 6th year attending (which blows my mind,) and it's a week of being surrounded by people who "get diabetes in all dimensions." 
It's a week of sessions about living with diabetes and support. A week where green and orange bracelets rule, carb counts on all the group meals are the norm, not the exception, and official low blood sugar stations are around every turn. 
It's a lot of laughter, a few tears, and an enormous amount of hugging with friends you haven't seen in 365 days, friends you ate breakfast with, or friends you just met!
It's meeting new friends at every turn because if you wear a green or orange bracelet - you are immediately part of the gang. 
I received/responded, to the following text from one of my DMama friends last week, who wanted to make sure I had enough juice boxes and water in my room because she knows me (and she knows my preference for Elmo Fruit Punch Juice boxes;) she gets me, and she knows and gets diabetes. 
I think it perfectly sums up how the friends you make at the Children With Diabetes, Friends For Life conference - really do become friends for life! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Kismet: Attending #2018ADA As A Guest Reporter For Ascensia

Kismet has been occurring as of late and I'm embracing it!
For instance, I was able to attend The American Diabetes Association's 78th Scientific Sessions last week in balmy (code for UBER HUMID,) Orlando, Florida - and thanks to Ascensia Diabetes Care, who hired me to write a 3-part series re: my experiences as a person living with diabetes attending ADA. acting as their official on-site Guest Reporter for ADA 2018. 

ADA was awe inspiring; incredibly overwhelming, physically never ending, a total sensory overload, and IT WAS AMAZING! 
I learned so much, met incredible people,  reconnected with diabetes friends and colleagues. 
My first post is up and running and it's all about diabetes data; dtech, helping other people with diabetes in under-served communities and a very cool WHISK. Click  HERE and give a read!

As always, while Ascensia paid for my flight, hotel, and travel expenses, and provided me  
with an honorarium for my time and skills - ALL THOUGHTS are mine and mine alone. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Diabetes And Periods - In This Case - My Period.

Yeah..... NO. 

Yeah, I’m getting personal - I do that on this blog - so if you don’t want to hear about me talking about all that is the glory of having my period and diabetes - OH WELL. 

I’m on the last 24ish hours of my period and I am fucking tired.
Diabetes and periods - at least for me, can mean either relatively mild symptoms and elevated blood sugars for a few days prior to Aunt Flow actually getting her “flow on,” and blood sugars that are perfect, low, or elevated - or a wicked and sometimes manic trifecta of all three, during said period. 
And sometimes not relatively mild at all.  As in not much of an appetite; boobs being tender (yes, as in it can actually hurt to shower, unless the shower-head is set to the "Gentle Rain setting", stomach issues, salt cravings, bloating, emotions, as in #POGDogs making me cry like a baby, and bitch cramps to boot. 
It depends on the cycle. 

And because of strokes, t1 diabetes, and heart issues, run in my ginormous family tree (as does tenacity, talent, good looks, and humor,) - I am not a candidate for the pill.

PSA - THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you have diabetes and are considering birth control methods:
1. Be honest about your diabetes diagnoses and your family history with your Gynecologist, Planned Parenthood professional, or GP - because the pill can be dangerous depending on your family history of strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes
2. Make sure all your doctors are on the same page 
3. Pill, IUD, or Diaphragm, you still need to use condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. 


Also: I was anemic as kid, and my iron has been on the low side of normal for years - so there’s that. Luckily I have a friend (NO, not that friend, but I could see how you'd go there,) who could totally relate and recommended that I try Blood Builder supplements since last summer and for me, it's helped even out my iron levels (which are now on the normal side of normal,)  and my energy…most of the time.

We know that hormones and diabetes are never a smooth ride - don’t even get me started on cortisone!
But as women with diabetes know, hormones and periods, being premenstrual or para-menopausal, or post-menopausal the hormonal douche-baggery (yes, I absolutely meant to use that phrase,) can be brutal.

Like I said, for me, some periods are worse than others - sometimes killer cramps, sometimes not so much, plus everything else I've already mentioned.- 

This time around, it was on the worse side - at least for the first couple of days. 

So even though my blood sugars were pretty damn good over the weekend - I spent a lot of time on the couch, chilling out, wrapped in a blanket and drinking hot tea, while snuggling with my friend’s cat  (OK, not snuggling because she’s not a snuggler, but she did let me pet her while she leaned against my leg,) and watching season 4 of Shetland (because Netflix is dropping the ball, BIG TIME,) and #POGdogs on Britbox. 
Sidebar: It rained all weekend so I wasn’t compelled to be outdoors. 
Also: It pays to house/pet sit for friends with Amazon Prime! Which I’ve stubbornly avoided getting, but am now strongly considering - and it’s all The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s fault!
God, so much great writing, acting, set design, costumes and coat porn! 

In the "70s' and "80s,"
periods were all about riding horses, bikes, and windsurfing.
But back to diabetes; hormones and periods, being premenstrual/para-menopausal, or post-menopausal, and if you feel like sharing - great. 

If you don’t - I get it and no pressure.

And if you are a guy - I hope you’ve learned something - Also: MENSES. 
You know I was going to sneak that word in there !

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Advocate Everywhere

"ADVOCATE EVERYWHERE," are the words printed on the front of one of my
favorite T-shirts, obtained years ago (maybe 2013 or 2014,) from the Diabetes MasterLab, which at that time, piggybacked CWDFFL, in Florida. 

And they are words that continue to inspire me in my life... and my life with diabetes. 

I wear this shirt because I love the message and the spirit 
behind it. 
I love how this message sparks
conversations whenever and wherever I wear it. 

Lastly, I love how it encourages us to use our voices individually and collectively, because all our diabetes voices matter and no act of advocacy is too small. #AdvocateEverywhere ~

Thursday, May 24, 2018

What I Learned About Afrezza

At the end of April, I attended a meeting with Mannkind, the company who manufactures the inhaled insulin, Afrezza, with a small group of Diabetes Advocates and .Orgs at their HQ in Danbury, Connecticut. There we had the opportunity to meet with senior members of the company, including engineers and scientists and discuss Afrezza and Social Media.
I went in not knowing much about Afrezza, but was curious to learn all I could. 
I have friends (both on the pump and MDI,) who are fiercely loyal to Afrezza and I’d tried it once with positive results - more on that later. 
I went in with an open mind and hoping for another diabetes option for us.
Here’s what I found out. 
Afrezza is a crystallized, inhaled, powdered form of Regular insulin that works quickly via the lungs and the bloodstream and is used for mealtime dosing.

Afrezza works fast - as in wicked fast. As in it starts working in 3 to 7 minutes, reaches its peak in 30 minutes, and out of your system within 1 to 2 hours. 
Basically, the short time in the system helps to prevent low blood sugar hangovers - my words, not Afrezza’s. 

Other short acting insulins (Apidra Novolog, Humalog), take 20 plus minutes before they start to kick in.
WHY? Because being injected through skin has a slower turnaround time than inhaling.
Injectable insulins peak in 2 hours and exit the body somewhere between 4 and 7 hours.

As far as the Billing Code, Afrezza uses the same billing code as an insulin pump - so check your Durable Medical Equipment clauses in your insurance policy. 

FYI: Exercise activates Afrezza.

Clinical Trials
Clinical trials for Afrezza have shown no evidence of long term lung 
damage to patients. Our group was told that the reason why people have lung tests be
fore starting Afrezza is to rule out any unknown/underlying lung issues like COPD. 

Bitch Lows and preventing them 
Afrezza has been shown to reduce severe hypos by more than 30%. THAT"S BIG.
Dosing: Afrezza inhalable insulins are currently available in packs of 4, 8,12. 
Afrezza’s unit amounts differ from injectable insulin units -HealthCare Pro's help 
with the learning curve.
Friends who use Afrezza say it wasn’t difficult to get with the Afrezza program.
User Breakdown
Afrezza users are evenly divided into type1s - some of whom combine Afrezza with 
using their insulin pump. Using their pump for basal rates/correction boluses and 
dosing Afrezza for meals.  
The other 50% are type 2s.
Some users on both sides of the diabetes fence have experienced weight loss. 
Sidebar: There is currently no info re: LADA1.5 users at this time.

Is there a Patient Assistance Program? 
YEP. Go to Mannkind Cares Start Out Program and here's the link to the Patient Savings Card.

My Own Experience with Afrezza
My one experience with Afrezza was 3 years ago and it was a positive one. 
I was attending the Diabetes UnConference in Atlantic City and was out with some Diabetes Online Community friends who came to town early the night before the conference began. 
After copious amounts of Crab Nachos and bolusing multiple times - I could tell something was wrong. My numbers kept going up - even with an increased temporary basal rate of 40%. 
It turned out that my Medtronic infusion site had crapped out.
I had another infusion set with me, but low and behold that new site didn’t work either.

Yep, I was screwed. My blood sugar was well over 300 and I felt it.
I had two choices: Go back to the hotel a few miles down the boardwalk and change out my site, or take my friend M’s advice and try his 4 unit Afrezza and inhaler.  
I went with the Afrezza, inhaled, and 2.5 hours later (plus 1/4 of a turkey club,) my blood sugar was 167 - and I was happy.  

Closing Thoughts
I was impressed with what I learned about Afrezza, and while I don't want to give up my Omnipod, I would consider using Afrezza with my Omnipod therapy - and I'm going to discuss that with my Endo at my next appointment.
Also: Your diabetes is different from mine and collectively, people with diabetes need as many viable and beneficial diabetes options on the table as we can get!
Afrezza is an option. 

Disclosure – My expenses including travel, food, and lodging were covered by Mannkind,  and I was paid an honorarium - which I appreciated. 
With that being said, all thoughts are my own and I was not asked to write about Afrezza - but I did because I wanted to share what I learned with you - and now you know ~ 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Diabetes: A Bitch Low Blood Sugar - And Waiting It Out At The Deli

I stood at the convince store/deli counter, clutching it with one hand and holding/downing a Nantucket Nectar Lemonade with the other. 
I'm sweaty and it feels like my whole body is shaking  — but I'm not sure.
I need to focus on drinking the lemonade and staying calm, so I do. 

The bitchlow had come out of nowhere  — and I was dropping fast. I’d been walking on the main street of my town when I broke out into a cold sweat — and right near the deli.
The register was on the other end of the circular counter and the woman behind the register watched me. 

I struggled to find my words and finally said: I’m sorry, but my blood sugar is low, I need to drink this now.
I was out of breath and as I spoke and my words didn’t tumble out of my mouth — my speech cadence was slower than normal and my mouth was numb. 
The woman walked over to where I was standing and said: It’s OK, I have diabetes, I know exactly how you feel. Sit at a table and pay me when you feel better — and let me know if you need food. 

And that’s what I did. 
I sat quietly at a table and watched the clock on the wall as the minutes ticked by. 
I finished three quarters of the bottle and waited until I felt stronger. 
I ran my hands through my hair out of habit and I felt the tears stinging my eyes.
I’ve noticed that when I get a bitch low that stops me in my tracks, I end up fighting back tears. 
My face is pale during the low, but as my blood sugar starts to come up, my eyes start to sting, and I can feel my checks turn red. 

I think part of my tears are due to the fact that I've  fought so hard to stay in control during the low, that an emotional wave of relief floods over me as things start slowly shifting back to normal and my eyes start to swell - and the other part is diabetes and my body's reaction.

And I hate this feeling. 

I hate feeling that if I don’t drink or eat I will crash to the ground. 
I hate that my words are halted and that I feel weak.
I hate that I am on the verge of tears. 
I hate feeling helpless, weak, scared, and determined all rolled into one.

I hate feeling alone. 

But for this particular blood sugar, I am incredibly grateful that I have a place to wait it out — and a person who watching from the sidelines. 

I glance at my medical ID bracelet and I feel myself calming down. 

I check my blood sugar at the twenty minute mark - I’m 83. 
Even thought the juice was over 60 grams of carbs, I decide to finish the bottle, wait another five minutes and then went up to pay the woman behind the register. 

She looked at me and said: Feel better, honey?? 
 I told her I did and thanked her for letting my pay after things settled down  and for “getting it.” 
She doesn’t want to take the money and I insist she does. 
I say goodbye, walked down the block to my car, get in and sit for a bit. 
Tears are streaming down my face at this point and I'm glad I'm wearing my prescription sunglasses. 

I’m home 10 minutes later and 50 minutes after that I check my blood sugar again. 
I am 116. And at that moment I am glad I drank that whole damn bottle.

And I breathe deep, walk to the bathroom and look in the mirror. 

I am a hot fucking mess - and not in the good way.

Mascara running down my eyes, tears stained cheeks, and I look a sad. 

I wash my face, and say THANK-YOU out loud. 
And I mean it. I am thankful that lows like that don’t happen very often, and I am thankful that I'm OK.
Then I smile at my reflection and forge ahead.... towards the couch. 
Dinner can wait, for now I'm going to chill. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Spring Travel; Diabetes, High Ketones, Normal Blood Sugars, And The Stomach Bug From Hell

OK-first and foremost  — spring has finally sprung. YAY!

Secondly, sorry for the being MIA the last couple weeks. 

I came home from a work trip on the night of Tuesday, April 24th, with a 101.2 fever, Moderate to Large keynotes, and the stomach virus that has been the plague of spring 2018 for many — and it was horrible. 
It was the longest car ride home of my life and an hour after I walked in the door and 55 minutes I found out I did indeed have Moderate/Large ketones, (literally the color was somewhere between the two on the chart,) I Linda Blaired it, a'la "The Exorcist." 

I immediately felt slightly better and made a deal with myself. 
If my ketones went down to moderate in 80 minutes and I didn’t vomit again, 
I wouldn't call 911.

If either of those things happened, I would. 

I filled up my 24 once water bottle and immediately drank 1/2. 
15 minutes later I finished the other 1/2 and filled up the bottle again. 
I was scared but I was calm  — weirdly and mythodically so. 
I knew what goasl I needed to meet and had made peace with my plan B option. 
Yes, I was scared, but knowing that I had a plan helped me stay calm.

Luckily, 80 minutes later I checked my ketones and they were indeed  moderate, I didn’t vomit again and I downing drinking water. My blood sugars were normal with insulin on board. I drank a little juice and went to bed. 

I woke up in the middle of the night, checked my blood sugar and  keytones ( 109 bg and small to moderate Keytones on the color chart), downed 10 ounces of water and went back to sleep. 

I woke up Wednesday with small ketones, that quickly and thankfully moved Trace, and finally edged to Normal by Wednesday afternoon. My fever kept shrinking until it left me for good on Friday.

Which would be the exact day the whole, not being able to be too far away from the bathroom, thing kicked in with a vengeance. 

I continued surviving on Mixed Fruit flavored gatorade, saltines, and weak black tea because those were literally all I could stomach. 
After 5.5 days,I was finally was able to drink coffee (and leave my house,) Sunday, April 29th. 
The last day of April and the first day of May meant working on deadlines and I flew to Boston on May 2nd. 

Dealing with all of the above reminded me of some important things that I'm going to share with you. 
  1. We ALWAYS need to bring Keytone Strips/Keytone Meter and thermometer when we  travel — and even if we're only going away overnight 
  2. Why? because you can have normal-ish blood sugars and still have nasty keytones — even if you drink lots of water. And if those sneaky keytones get the upper hand, no good will come of it.
3. You can feel “off,” but because diabetes can be a tricky bitch, your blood sugars might not reflect that. I felt tired and in need of a nap early Monday afternoon - but my blood sugars were stellar and I wrote it off as  travel day fatigue. 
But it was an easy travel day by car. Looking back, feeling that tired was a sign of things to come.
Also: You can feel hot and blame the traveling and hotel air conditioning, but it might actually be a fever. I was walking around with a fever that alternated to the chills for a good part of Tuesday - and I blamed the forced air heating and air conditioning system. 
Here are my stats from Tuesday, April 24th. 
For the most part, everything looked "OK," numbers wise. 

Insulin total breakdown for 24 hours on 4/24 
Bolus history 4/25

4/24 bg from early in the morning.
Elevated morning bgs thanks to a low bg
in the middle of the night. 
4. ALWAYS make sure that you not only have regular ginger-ale in your pantry, but 3 or 4 bottles of your favorite flavored Gatorade and saltines, because if you end up with the stomach virus from hell, regular Gatorade is your best friend. It helps keep your hydration levels and electrolytes where they need to be, gives you drinkable carbs, and is the only thing (besides maybe a few saltines), that won’t add to the destruction of your gastrointestinal system.

5. Also, stomach viruses can be f^cking tricky, not to mention confusing. 
I had damn near normal blood sugars ( Bgs were constantly running on the low side of normal), for 5 days — it was like I was like my pancreas was messing with my head and I was this close to thinking that I was making insulin. But I was still “real people sick," and barely eating anything. 

6. Sleep is your friend and hydrate like your life depends on it — because it does.

7. Stomach viruses NEVER come at the right time and playing catch up is not easy — but you do it because you must. 

I’ve had trips scheduled the last two weeks and I travel again on Thursday. 

Sharing all of the above because it’s diabetes and life related and I think we need to be reminded that everything can look good on the surface, but there can be a literal shit storm (sorry I couldn't resist,) brewing - So check your blood sugars and your keytones!   

New blog posts re: what I learned on my travels soon!

***FTR, when I was down for the count being real people sick, I made sure to let a couple close friends and family know what was going. I live by myself and like to think I can handle it all - but when I'm under the weather, I let a few of my "go-to," friends know.... just in case I need help. It makes me feel better - and it makes them feel better.