Category Archives: Diabetes

Is That an Insulin Pump?

I was warming up at a fitness class the other day when I noticed a girl on the opposite side of the room as me. She was fit, a few months pregnant, and had what appeared to be an insulin pump clipped to the side of her workout pants.

For the next 60 minutes, I went through the motions of the class, completely distracted. While trying to be discreet (although looking back, I’m sure I was staring like a creep), I tried to get a better look at the device, hoping to confirm it was a pump. It had to be – it was the right size and looked like a Medtronic variety.

Once I had determined that, my excitement got the best of me: I was across the room from a new type 1 friend! We live in the same neighborhood and go to the same barre workouts! We’re going to swap stories about preventing lows during exercise over salads after class! She’ll give me all the details on pregnancy with type 1!

After class, I made a beeline to to my new friend. (Again, looking back, it was probably creepy.) “Is that an insulin pump?” I asked, still out of breath from the workout. “What?” she asked me with a blank look on her face. “Oh…this?” she said, grabbing the device. “It’s a pager.”

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A pager? Do people still use those? I’ve heard funny anecdotes from the diabetes community about strangers mistaking their insulin pumps for pagers. But, mistaking a pager for a pump might be a first.

Thankfully, the girl was sweet and didn’t treat me like a weirdo for staring at her for an hour before rushing up to her after class. (By the way, she seemed to know what an insulin pump was, so I assume she works in the medical field…hence, the pager). While the incident made me laugh, it also highlighted how hungry I always am to connect with other people with diabetes.

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 – Day Six

2015 Diabetes Blog WeekI love the topic for today:

If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blog post that you have ever written? Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don’t have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog? 

The question prompted me to read back through my past posts – something I don’t often do. One that stood out to me was from last year’s Diabetes Blog Week. My “Tell Me a Story” post, written by my insulin pump, is one of my favorites because it captures the anxiety I felt about using a new device. Here are the first few paragraphs:

It’s funny now to think of how scared of me you were initially. When I arrived on your doorstep, you were cautious taking me out of the box. You had shaky hands as you picked me up and felt my buttons. I was hoping our friendship would start right then and there, but you tucked me away for training day, not quite ready to bond.

I sat in my dark box and counted down the days for our next meeting. Finally, the trainer arrived and I emerged again. How glorious it felt to get that jolt of battery energy and be primed for the very first time. You were hesitant as you prepared our first insulin cartridge and infusion set, but you did it. You were pumping! I wanted to yell, “You did great! Keep it up!”

I remember the excitement you felt when the trainer left that evening, but I also remember the fear. Even though it was three days off, you were terrified of changing our next infusion set. You were scared that I was going to accidentally give you too much insulin and you were going to have a devastating low. You were anxious about if you’d get used to being connected to me. “Don’t worry,” I wanted to tell you.

Intrigued? You can read the rest here.

*Read other Diabetes Blog Week Day Six entries here.

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 – Day Five

2015 Diabetes Blog Week

On day five of Diabetes Blog Week, we are writing about one of my favorite things: food. The prompt is:

Taking a cue from Adam Brown’s recent post, write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.

I read Adam’s food posts recently and was surprised to see how similarly we eat. Below are some of my typical meals.

Breakfast

  • Yogurt and granola – Plain Greek yogurt with berries and nut granola (I LOVE this Grain Free Chocolate Granola from Delighted Momma).
  • Avocado toast – One piece of whole grain bread toasted and topped with half an avocado and a couple of fried or poached eggs.

Lunch

  • Roasted veggie bowl – Roasted veggies with a little brown rice or quinoa, and some kind of protein (often a poached egg). Roasted veggies are great because you can prepare a huge batch and use leftovers for days. I just toss raw vegetables with olive oil and sea salt, and then roast them in an oven set at 400 degrees.
  • Kitchen sink salad – A big bowl of salad greens with whatever else you have in your fridge – a variety of veggies (fresh or leftover roasted), nuts, cheese, and maybe a little fruit. The more items you add, the more interesting the salad. I make my own dressing with olive oil, balsamic and Dijon mustard.

Dinner

  • Roasted chicken and veggies – Roast chicken thighs (this is a delicious and super speedy rub), alongside veggies like cubed sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
  • Stir-fry – Throw together bite-sized meat and loads of veggies, and serve with a little brown rice. Lately I’ve been making a cashew chicken recipe that I learned to make in Thailand.
  • Whole grain pasta – For a heartier meal, pair whole grain pasta with meat and veggies. I just made this New York Times recipe for whole grain mac and cheese with broccoli, and added ham.

Dessert

  • Dark chocolate – I love dark chocolate and usually have a square or two in the evening.

Snacks

Like Adam, I find that managing my blood sugar is easiest when I eat about 120 grams of carbs or less a day. I cook most of my meals myself, focus on whole foods, and always include protein. When I bake, I tend to use almond flour (see my recipe posts for a Chocolate Torte and Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies), which is low carb a has a very low glycemic index.

*Read other Diabetes Blog Week Day Five entries here.

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 – Day Two

2015 Diabetes Blog Week

Today’s Diabetes Blog Week prompt focuses on keeping things to ourselves:

Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see.  What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself? 

I thought about this topic a lot, wondering what it is that I keep to myself when it comes to diabetes. Then it dawned on me: complications. While I want to be as informed as possible on the disease, talking about potential diabetes complications completely depresses me. Rather than motivate me to live a healthy life, the topic makes me want to throw in the towel. I also fear it would make others worry about or feel sorry for me in a way that I don’t think would be productive.

Who knows how I’ll feel about the topic down the road, but for now, I choose to stay quiet on complications.

*Read other Diabetes Blog Week Day Two entries here.

 


 

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 – Day Four

2015 Diabetes Blog Week

Today’s topic centers on change:

Either tell us what you’d most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  Or reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.

During last year’s Diabetes Blog Week, I wrote about how I want to see a cure for type 1 diabetes. While a cure is still the biggest change I want, today I’ll focus on management tools.

The best improvement would be a closed-loop system that manages blood sugar entirely on its own. There is a lot of exciting work being done this field, including by Dr. Ed Damiano at my alma mater, Boston University. The goal of his bionic pancreas is to “reduce the impact of diabetes on those who have to live with it until a cure is found.” It will “automatically make decisions about insulin and glucagon dosing every five minutes. That’s 288 decisions per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.”

I have followed trials of the bionic pancreas and other closed-loop systems and been cautiously optimistic about their performance. Many trial participants have blogged about their experience with the systems, including Kelly Close in 2013. She said in her post, “Getting rid of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia for a week was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever experienced.” Kerri at Six Until Me also wrote a great recap on seeing the Bionic Pancreas in action at Clara Barton Camp (make sure to check out the video at the bottom of her post).

I hope a safe and reliable closed-loop system becomes a reality for those of us living with diabetes. Soon. While it’s not a cure, it would be life-changing to be freed from the constant burden (and major time suck) of blood glucose management.

*Read other Diabetes Blog Week Day Four entries here.

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 – Day One

2015 Diabetes Blog Week 2Today kicks off the sixth annual Diabetes Blog Week, which brings bloggers together to write about a set topic each day. It’s hard to believe (especially considering my inconsistent blogging efforts over the past few years) that I’ve participated in all five of the previous weeks (see 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010). The week has always provided me with motivation to get back into writing and a sense of community around a topic that can sometimes make me feel so alone.

The topic for today’s post is “I Can”:

Lets’ kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.  What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could?  Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of?  Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?

It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of diabetes, so I appreciate a topic that forces me to think about the positive things I’ve accomplished because of – or despite of – diabetes. Below are a few things that come to mind:

  • Going to grad school – In 2010, I quit a steady job at a great company to move across the country and enroll as a full-time grad student in Boston. It was a huge risk (Would I find health insurance? Would I find a job after graduation? Could I figure how to be a student again?), but one I knew I needed to take. Being dealt a diabetes diagnosis at age 26 made me think about what I could and couldn’t control. It reminded me that I should make every effort to live life to the fullest – and if that meant going back to school in my late 20s to study food, so be it.
  • Traveling – In my five plus years of living with diabetes, I’ve taken some pretty incredible trips across the country and globe. They’ve included all kinds of adventures – from elephant treks to jungle hikes, snorkel trips, and ziplining – and new foods with unknown carb counts. While I’ve had occasional fears about what could go wrong, I’ve tried to focus on being prepared for any situation and not let diabetes hold me back.

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  • Getting hitched (without a low!) – Last October, my incredible boyfriend of ten years became my husband. Having diabetes forced me to think about a lot of things I otherwise wouldn’t have had to during the planning process (e.g., hiding an insulin pump in a form-fitting wedding dress). Thankfully, all of our thinking ahead resulted in an absolutely beautiful day focused on the two of us rather than diabetes. And, I didn’t go low all day!

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  • Meeting other people with diabetes – If there’s a good thing about this disease, it’s the community. Through JDRF, conferences and casual meet ups, I’ve met so many amazing type 1s who have offered support and become friends. I’m grateful for these people that diabetes has brought into my life.

*Read other Diabetes Blog Week Day One entries here.

Five Years

Five years ago today I was told I had diabetes. I walked into an urgent care clinic thinking there might be something minor going on, and walked out with a life-changing diagnosis. I’ve struggled with how to feel about this anniversary, which has been looming in the back of my mind for months.

I talked to a fellow type 1 the other day, who was diagnosed a year and a half ago. He mentioned that he hardly remembers life without diabetes anymore and it struck me that I don’t either. During my first couple of years, I would think back on experiences and categorize them as pre- or post-diagnosis. A trip to Norway was pre-diagnosis. A trip to Thailand was post-diagnosis. A carefree barhopping birthday celebration was pre. An awkward business lunch with injections was post. I don’t think like that anymore.

It’s largely because I’ve gotten used to this new life. I instinctively count the carbs of the food in front me and think about how much insulin I need to cover them. I automatically check my blood sugar before and after meals, exercise, and sleep. I change my insulin pump site every three days like clockwork. The habits required by diabetes have become second nature.

But just because diabetes has become part of my routine, doesn’t mean it’s become painless. It hasn’t become more predictable. It hasn’t become less scary. I stumbled upon a post by Hallie at Princess and the Pump that beautifully addresses this very idea. In it she writes about how she and her daughter, who was diagnosed with type 1 almost six years ago, are doing:

“We are used to treating this disease largely on our own.
We are used to making life and death decisions every day.
We are used to the sleepless nights.
We are used to the fear.
It’s just what we do.  It’s our life.  It’s our normal.
But just because we may be more quiet than we used to be does not mean it’s become easy.”

 So, five years of living with diabetes hasn’t made it easy, but it has made it routine. And time has taught me that I can continue to push boundaries, pursue my dreams, and live life to the fullest, even with a 24/7 disease. It may not be easy, but it will not stop me.

I talked to my mom yesterday and told her that today marked my five-year diabetes anniversary. She congratulated me and I asked why. Why would you congratulate someone for living with a disease for five years? “Because you’re doing so well,” she said. She’s right. And that’s worth celebrating.