Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eat, Drink & Be Carb Happy

One of the biggest ways I keep my sugar under control is by carb counting. 15 grams of carbs equals one carb unit. For breakfast, I generally eat 2-3 carbs (depending on how low my sugar is when I wake up, and how long I’m on the treadmill). For lunch, it’s usually 2-3 carb units (depending on if I walk at lunch). For dinner, 1 or 2.

Because my carbs are limited, but I’m
still a hungry girl, I’m always on the hunt for food that is low in carbohydrates, but still tastes good. (Not all low-carb food is created equal.) I take forever in the grocery store (drives my husband batty) because I scan the shelves for anything new and read labels religiously.

I mostly shop at Strack and Van Til, a grocery store that’s maybe a step above a Food For Less, and a step below a Dominick’s or a Jewel. They carry a lot of stuff, they carry it fairly cheaply and the store is a clean, well-lighted place (my homage to Hemingway). It’s not a specialty store by any means.

So, here are so
me of my favorite finds that fit in with my eating plan…

1. Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Spray
carbs: 2g for 8oz.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, the hardest thing to give up was juice. I know I can still have some, and I do,
but I used to drink a lot of juice. I would rather have a glass of juice than a glass of pop, milk, water or beer. The Cranberry Spray is awesome—I feel like I’m drinking juice, but I’m not getting all the carbs. I can actually pour a large glass.

2. Carr’s Cheese Melts
carbs:
7g for 3 crackers
A big cracker, big taste and I can eat six (SIX) of them if I’m looking for a one-carb snack. I feel like I’m cheating even though I’m not. One of my more recent finds, and as you can see from the box, a newer product on the market. The time before last when I went to the grocery store they were out of them. The horror! The last time I went, I bought two boxes, just in case…

3. Reese Imported Original Holland Rusk Light Crisp Toast carbs:
11g for 2 pieces

It’s like toast in a box, only it’s not a box, just some cylinder-shaped paper. I’ve always been a big bread girl, but it doesn’t always fit into my eating plan. When I discovered these, I was thrilled. Now I can have peanut-butter on toast and not break the carb bank. And since they’re
already toasted, I can bring them to work for lunch (I don’t have a kitchen at work, and bringing homemade toast from home leaves me with a soggy piece of bread by lunchtime). P.S. They’re also great for tuna melts…

4. La Fuerza del Sabor Healthier Choices Whole Wheat Wraps
carbs: 13g for 1 wrap

These are like
tortillas, which are usually two carb units while these are only one. I make my turkey-spinach-Neufchatel wraps with these, enchiladas and quesadillas. They come in different flavors (spinach, jalapeno), but I like the whole wheat version. (Sorry! I couldn’t find a photo and my camera skills are lacking. They come in a plastic bag just like regular tortillas.)

5. Damascus Bakeries Whole Wheat Roll Ups
carbs: 17g for 1 roll up

I discovered these before the La Fuerza Wraps and used to make everything from them. They’re rectangular shaped and have a little more substance to them. While they made an okay
enchilada, they just don’t work as good as La Fuerza. HOWEVER, these are awesome for making flat-bread pizzas. I love pizza but it doesn’t always agree with my blood sugar, so this is a great alternative. I stick a roll up in the oven until it gets crispy, then pull it out and add all my toppings and stick it back in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts. It’s filling and fabulous. Plus, I get to do whatever toppings I want, and I do try everything. I made a pretty spectacular green olive, mozzarella, blue cheese, feta, mushroom pizza the other night…

6. Tropicana Light N Healthy Orange Juice
carbs: 13g for 8oz

As I said, I’m a former juice addict. And while 8oz doesn’t always seem like enough, it’s enough to keep my addiction in check. And when I’m sick and I have a cold, there’s nothing that makes me feel a little better like a little orange juice. The fact that the Light N Healthy version has 1/2 the carbs as the regular version makes that glass easier to swallow. And because I don’t want to fill this whole blog with juice, I’ll just add that the Welch’s White Grape Light juice is the same deal and
also a staple in my pantry.


7. Kozy Shack No Sugar Added Tapioca
carbs: 11g for one serving-size cup

I love dessert and
sweets, even though my carb counts don’t always let me have them. (Although I’ve been known to forgo “real” and “healthy” food for dessert…) When I do want something creamy and sweet, this is a perfect snack. I’ve read that they also have No Sugar Added Butterscotch Pudding but have yet to be able to locate it.

8. Sugar Free Jell-O
carbs: 0

Okay, I’ve read some debates online about this and how it’s a scam and really does affect sugar levels, but it doesn’t affect mine, so it’s still a favorite. I
tend to binge on Jell-O for a while, then ignore it for a couple months, then go back. Since summer is arriving (supposedly, although doubtful here in Chicago), I’m back on the Jell-O kick. I buy the snack packs for convenience and because I like the taste better than making it myself. As such, I buy the black cherry/cherry and the lime/orange version. (I can’t wrap my mind around Watermelon Jell-O.) Also a must: Cool Whip for the top. The carbs are negligent as long as you don’t over-do and eat the whole tub (no, I never have).

9. Ziploc Bags
carbs: 15g

No, not really a food item, but a necessity. I used to buy the 100 Calorie Packs, which are almost always 1 carb unit. Then I realized (duh) it would be cheaper to buy the product in its regular size and divvy it up in 1 carb unit portions in Ziploc baggies. So I buy the big bag of pretzels or Cheez-Its, do a little math and use my trusty digital scale to measure out the right portions. Then I stock them in my food bowl in the
kitchen and grab one for my lunch or whenever I need a boost.

10. Kellogg Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars
carbs: 26g for one bar

Definitely NOT low-carb, but a necessity in my life. These are one of the things I discovered that will help raise my sugar and keep it pretty steady for a little while. In the morning, if I’m low when I wake up and I want to hit the treadmill, I eat half of one of these and it carries me through my workout. In the afternoon at work if I dive-bomb for no reason, I can eat half a one and make it through the rest of the day, and still be able to eat a normal dinner. I rarely eat a whole one at once, unless I’m pressed for time at breakfast and eat one while I’m driving to work. The good news is that I like them stale almost more than I like them fresh, so the half a bar that sits there for a day, loosely wrapped in its packaging, tastes pretty good the next morning.
I like the Cherry and the Mixed Berry versions.

So there you go. I know there’s lots more out there that I haven’t tried yet, so if anyone has any great low-carb or good food finds, let me know.

As always, more to come…

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

School Of Thought

I mentioned before that when I was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes almost five years ago, I was thoroughly confused and went to the internet to see what I could learn. I learned there wasn’t a lot of information out there that wasn’t clinical and hard to understand, and that people freak out really easily and write a lot about it.

Jump to today, or rather about a month or so ago, and I revisited the World Wide Web to discover all sorts of new things about diabetes. Web sites from medical professionals, blogs from people with diabetes, blogs from people who live with people with diabetes, forums and discussions, chat rooms and basically just all kinds of opinions and information.

I’ve spent time not only writing my own blog, but reading other people’s, and reading comments that people leave me, and dipping into chats where people talk about what they know and how they handle things.

And I got confused all over again.

I know what my doctors tell me, what I was taught upon diagnosis, what I’ve learned from various sources, and I came up with a plan that worked for me, a school of thought that I could live with and maintain and that I thought would keep me healthy.

But the more I read, the more I started to doubt my thinking. Maybe she’s right? Maybe I should try what he said? Maybe my high number isn’t so high? Maybe my low number isn’t that low? Maybe I’m not “complicated” enough to count myself as a “real” diabetic? Maybe I need to loosen up? Maybe I need to tighten up? Maybe I need to have more tests done? Maybe I need to find a different doctor? Maybe I’m a fluke? Maybe I’m the typical? Maybe I need more education? Maybe I know too much? When will I ever know enough?

I started obsessing. It felt like everything became about diabetes, and the more I read, the more I thought I should read.

And then suddenly, about five minutes ago, I had an epiphany. While there’s a lot of great advice and information out there—what meters, lancets and other machinery everyone uses and how they like it; how someone handled a low moment with grace and stealth; what new development is on the horizon; what fabulous food find someone discovered—not all of it applies to me. I can read everything I want, but I can make the decision that the plan someone else is following isn’t compatible with my own, and I can continue as I am. I can also read and decide that yes, this will work for me, and yes, that’s a great idea I’m going to try.

And in my own blog, I’m going to keep writing about what works for me, how I’m managing my diabetes, and what kind of control I have. If you read something you like, feel free to try it. If you read something you don’t think is believable, or that you don’t agree with, then you can make your own decision not to include it in your diabetes plan.

After all, I think there’s enough fish out there to make up a magnificent school of thought.

As always, more to come…

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And Then I Got High

I started exercising again last week. I had fallen off the wagon a bit, was only hitting the treadmill a couple times a week because of my cold (I needed the extra 45 minutes of sleep in the morning). But since my cold had mostly cleared up, I was back to doing 45 minutes in the morning and even did close to an hour on Saturday. My sugars were doing great.

And then I got high.

For some reason, I was running high on Sunday. I woke up at 117, which is a little off for me—I’m usually no more than 105-ish, and usually in the mid-80s. I didn’t eat anything and went straight to the Home Depot to pick up some flowers before the crowds got nasty. When I got home, I had dropped to 105. I was planning on going outside and doing some pretty heavy work in the garden, so I knew I had to eat something. I ate about 3 carb units and went to work. I weeded, I planted, I lugged dirt, I moved flower pots, I removed approximately 123,546 helicopter seeds from my backyard due to the shedding tree two doors down (the beauty of small urban backyards and huge maple trees combined with a lot of wind). I did quite a bit of work for several hours.

When I came in, I was 95. A good number, and when I saw it, I was glad I carbed up even though I was over 100. I ate dinner and went to bed at 137.

I hate the number 137. When I’m running high, it seems to be the number that rears its ugly head more times than any other one. I wonder if my meter has a predilection to it?

When I woke up on Monday morning, I was 135. Very, very rare for me. This high, this early??? Egad! So I started to try to figure out what was up. True, I had skipped the treadmill on Sunday, but I figured the garden workout made up for it. I hadn’t eaten anything weird that would keep my sugars high. I did have a raging headache from sinus issues and allergies and I chalked it up to that. I sank into my big, fluffy chair, still in my pajamas and let the effects of three Tylenol sink in. About an hour and a half later, I had dropped to 115 or so, and was starving, so I ate about 2-3 carbs for breakfast and did some more work outside. When I was through a few hours later, I was 90. I ate a snack, then fell asleep on the chair (it was humid and I had woken up way too early after going to bed way too late—wait, why am I explaining a nap? I’m almost 40—I’m allowed to nap with no excuse).

I ate dinner (only about 2 carb units) and went to bed at 126.

This morning I was 109 when I woke up, so I hope whatever trend this was has decided to subside. I did about 15 minutes on the exercise bike this morning (although this activity has zero impact on my blood sugars) and I ate a regular breakfast. I guess I’ll just have to wait to see what happens today.

I’m also just a tiny bit curious about the insulin. I’ve been using my Lantus SoloStar pen for the past week and last night was my last shot from the pen. Tonight I’ll go back to the vial and syringe. Perhaps that had an effect? Who knows? I’m just going to focus on getting back into a routine with the exercise, my eating habits, my injection times and my sleeping and eating schedule (which were a little out of whack due to the three-day holiday weekend) and hope that the good numbers start appearing again.

No offense to Afroman…

As always, more to come…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Supah Star!

Even Mary Katherine Gallagher would have to agree—the Lantus SoloStar is kick-butt.

When Lantus came out with their first insulin pen, I jumped all over it. The OptiClik promised freedom. I travel a lot and the thought of just grabbing a pen and a few needle caps seemed easier than packing a glass vial of insulin and multiple syringes. And if any of you read my Tagged! entry, you’ve seen that I actually used this glass vial and syringe in the middle of a Tokyo subway station. How much easier a pen would have been than filling a syringe!


As soon as I knew it was available, I made an appointment at my endo’s office to see the diabetes educator and get my pen. It looked so simple!
So fantastic! So liberating! Then I tried it.

It sucked. I know there are a million adjectives out there that I could use to describe the OptiClik and normally I would find one of them, but really, in all seriousness, “sucked” is the most appropriate. The OptiClik is a clunker—too heavy to hold up, no indication that the insulin is actually delivering and how much more it has to go before the whole dosage is administered and just a general all-around pain. And I still had the glass vials; the pen was a permanent mechanism and the insulin vials had to be changed out. My syringes and original vials seemed miles ahead technology-wise. Honestly—did anyone try this thing out before they put it on the market? I think I used it twice before I hissed at it and threw it in a drawer.

Then there were rumors of a new Lantus pen. It was in Europe, it was being looked at by the FDA. It was here, but in limited distribution. It was HERE. The Lantus SoloStar.
I went to a diabetes health fair and got a demonstration. Beautiful. I got to hold the pen and do a fake shot—lightweight and easy. I got a prescription when I went to see my doctor and, after my pharmacy ordered it and I waited a few days, I had it in my hot little hands.

The pen is disposable. No changing out of insulin vials; you just use the insulin in the pen and when there’s no more, you throw the pen out. A prescription contains five pens, with 300 units in each pen. Since I had just gotten my regular insulin (in the glass vials) filled, the fabulous folks at HMO decided I’d gotten my allotment for the time being and I had to pay cash for the pens. I’m planning a trip this fall to France (fingers-crossed) and I really wanted to test it out to see if it would be as good as I thought it would be. I wanted time with the pen to make sure I liked it before carting it through customs.


I’ve used it two nights in a row now and I’ve got to say—all the hype is true. The first night I didn’t even feel it. I was paranoid, though, so I kept checking my sugar the next day to make sure I actually had insulin in my system; I did. The second night it hurt a little, but I was using the same injection site and generally speaking, I can only use a site pain-free once before I bruise and have to shoot into the bruise.

The pen is light; I can hold it, push in the button and pinch together skin without feeling like I’m doing a balancing act. And the dial-a-unit feature on the end has improved greatly. With the OptiClik, you dialed a number, pushed the button and it immediately went to zero; you just had to keep holding the pen in place until you thought all the insulin had made its way into your body. With the SoloStar, the numbers click down as the insulin is injected. 35 click, 34 click, 33 click—all the way to zero. You only have to hold the pen in place for about 10 seconds to make sure all the insulin is delivered, not much different than a syringe. And I’m not 100% positive, but I think the insulin vial that’s already inserted into the pen when you get it is plastic—or if it’s not, it’s got to be some really good safety glass, which makes travelling with it make even more sense.

As for the cost, of course anything newfangled and fabulous is more expensive. I did a unit-by-unit comparison between the pen and the original vial and it is just a tiny bit costlier. However, I think the ease factor makes it totally worth the money. I don’t plan on using the pen every day (unless the price goes down), but for travel, I’ll definitely keep a prescription filled. How much easier to bring two pens than two glass vials that I’m always paranoid will drop on a cement floor and break (I’ve dropped many in my own home and they don’t bounce; they shatter).


So, all-in-all, thumbs up—or in the case of Mary Katherine, two arms up.


As always, more to come…

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Snack Outage

I always think I have food stashed everywhere. I have a box of Nutrigrain bars in my car. I have granola bars in my husband’s car. I have a supply of various foods in a basket next to my desk at work. I have juice boxes upstairs and downstairs at home. I have baggies of measured-out items in my work bag. I have glucose tabs in at least three different bags I use on the weekends. I have hard candy and tabs in my carry-on travel bag for when I go somewhere. I have it everywhere.

Or so I think. Because even though, technically, all this food should be there, when I need it and I go to reach for it, it isn’t there. The box of Nutrigrain bars is empty. I ate the stuff in my work bag and forgot to replace it. The juice box has expired at least a year ago. The glucose tabs container is still there; it just only has one tab left in it.

It seems that no matter how often I think I’m stashing, how much squirreling I think I’m doing, how many different places I can think to tuck a pack of peanut-butter crackers, I’m not really doing it. I think somewhere in my mind, I’m stuck on the fact that I only need to check and refill every few months, when in actuality, I need to check a bit more often than that.

I never used to carry a purse before I was diagnosed; I stuck money and my driver’s license in my pocket, shoe or bra and off I went. Then came the blood kit, and the PDA with all my important phone numbers and emergency contacts, and sometimes my insulin and a couple syringes. So I had to start carrying a purse, or a bag of some kind, to keep it all in. But while I’ve finally gotten used to doing that, I’ve only started to make a conscious effort to remember to throw in a bag of snacks every time I walk out the door. I really have to make an effort to remember, and I need to remember, because I’ve been caught off guard one too many times for my liking.

I’m going grocery shopping this weekend, and I’m making a special separate list of food items I need to buy, and where I intend to put them (because they do me no good when I have four boxes of Nutrigrain bars in my pantry and none in my car). I need to be better prepared, because there is no excuse ever to have a snack outage.

As always, more to come…

Monday, May 19, 2008

HbA1c

It took me forever to remember these four letters and one number in the right combination. It didn’t take me quite as long to figure out what it meant and that I should pay attention when the doctor told me what it was.

It did take me a little while to figure out I should keep track of the number. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I suddenly had a lot of doctor’s appointments. And then, to complicate matters, during a routine check-up about six months later, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease—my thyroid was about to go wacky-wacky, but wasn’t quite there yet. Add doctor’s appointments every four weeks to track it until it could be destroyed, then track it until I could be put on Synthroid, then track it until I was stabilized. A lot of appointments to remember, so I bought a PDA and filled it. The PDA has a memo section and at some point, I started recording my HbA1c numbers so I could have my own personal history to gaze at. (Yes, I know, I digressed and it took me longer than I anticipated to get to that last sentence. Best way to tell my cold is going away: I’m back to verbose entries.)

Anyhow, here’s my history. It doesn’t go all the way back to diagnosis, and there’s a few sketchy dates in there when my PDA went haywire (it’s been replaced with a snazzier version combined with a phone), but you get the general idea:

7/30/04: 5.5
1/13/05: 6.0
11/15/05: 5.6
3/22/06: 5.6
late ‘06: 5.8 (when PDA #1 died; may he rest in peace)
5/14/07: 5.7
11/5/07: 6.1
5/12/08: 6.0

I know I should have more in there, that I should be tested more often, but every doctor I’ve had has told me, “I wish my other patients had this control,” and they let me blip by on their radar. I try to go to the doctor about every six months, and the endocrinologist at least once a year. They always tell me if what I’m doing is working, just to keep doing it; no need to change anything. Sometimes I’m grateful for this, because the last thing I need is another doctor’s appointment to squeeze in on my lunch hour, and sometimes I’m disappointed in their seemingly lack of interest in my health—shouldn’t they be yelling at me to see them more often?

So, my latest number: 6.0. I know this is a good number, truly I do. But to be honest, I was a little upset by the fact that it wasn’t below 6. I’ve had a lot of tests in the fives, and I thought that’s where I should be. I was really good about diet and exercise and checking my levels and working my insulin from January through mid-April. Then I went off the tracks a bit—celebrated a couple of occasions with multiple elaborate dinners, went out of town and had a fabulous weekend, exercised a little less than I should have. And, of course, because it had been a full six months since my last HbA1c, only the last three months were really counted—and that didn’t include my only behaved-really-good months, it included the treated-myself-a-little-too-much month, one really-good month and one so-so month. So it was 6.0.

It had me annoyed. It had me ready to start sketching strict guidelines for food and grueling exercise routines and excessive blood sugar testing. And then I read a blog about numbers, and did a little research. And I found out that sometimes, the low numbers are just as bad as the high numbers. If your HbA1c is too low, it could indicate that you have too many low sugar readings. Guilty as charged. In the past, during the 5-range days, I regularly hit 65 and considered 65-70 my usual “low” number. These days, I aim for 75-80, a much safer low.

So now I think I’m okay with my 6.0, or slowly coming to terms with it. And while I’m still going to watch what I eat and exercise, I’m not going to go overboard. As long as it doesn’t go too much higher than 6.0. A girl’s gotta have her standards…

As always, more to come…

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tagged

I’ve been tagged by Laura at Diabetic In Calgary, and it’s my very first tag, so I’m going to go ahead and do it. And, no, to all my friends and family who keep sending me chain e-mails, this is not the same thing and I’m not going to start forwarding doom messages to 20 people I know… Here are ten quirky or interesting things about me….

1. When I blog, I write everything out in Word first, then cut and paste into my blog. A) Because I usually type at work and I want my boss to think I’m working on something work-related and B) Because I prefer typing on my blue screen.

2. I’ve given myself an insulin shot in the middle of a busy subway station in Tokyo, Japan. My husband stood watch while I set up on a shelf next to the ticket machines. It was my first international trip after I was diagnosed with diabetes and although I was scared to death to be in a foreign country where I couldn’t speak or read the language, I was also determined that I wasn’t going to let diabetes stop me from doing what I wanted to do. In a way, it gave me a little more courage to go a little further…

3. I read catalogs while eating breakfast. I save them all up (Levenger, L.L. Bean, Travelsmith, Lillian Vernon, Sur La Table, you name it) and read them while I eat breakfast. I’m a compulsive reader and catalogs are the only thing I can stop reading when I’m in the middle. If I tried a magazine or a book, I’d always be late for work.

4. I once spent the day at a nudist colony. I’ll leave that one right where it is.

5. I don’t do caffeine. I was on some temporary prescription about four or five years ago that prohibited it and when I got off the Rx, I just kept going. I don’t miss it, but it’s hard to find restaurants that carry diet and caffeine-free pop. I drink a lot of club soda when I’m out. Or Belevedere martinis—straight up and dirty with three blue cheese olives.

6. I’ve stood inside a pyramid. In Egypt. (I also rode a camel in the desert.)

7. I have two “big” ones coming up this year. In July, it will be my five-year anniversary of being diagnosed with diabetes; I haven’t decided what to do to commemorate it yet, but I’ll think of something. In October, I’ll turn 40; I’m going to France and will be having an incredibly expensive bottle of wine in Bordeaux (dollar conversion be damned).

8. While many would disagree, I think Katharine Hepburn is way cooler than Audrey Hepburn. (I do like Audrey, but Katharine!)

9. I grew up a picky eater and since I’ve hit “adulthood” (somewhere in my 30s), I’ve tried to introduce one new food into my repertoire each year. I’ve gotten myself to like yogurt, mushrooms, onions, Brussels sprouts and a variety of other food. In fact, I’m rather addicted to mushrooms these days (and they’re carb-free!).

10. I love baking, reading, being a cool aunt, licorice tea, the first snow (as long as I’m already home), the first great spring day after too much snow, balancing my checkbook, cheese of almost any kind, the 45-second adrenaline rush after a great interview at work, when my husband sings songs to the dogs, my very cool sewing machine that I splurged on, browsing Zappos shoe site, grocery shopping and sitting in the living room, surrounded by dogs and my husband, watching TV all day long.

That’s it. I’m supposed to tag somebody else, but I’m pretty new to the blog community so I don’t really know anyone I can tag who hasn’t already done this meme. But if you happen to read this and want to give it a go, consider yourself tagged.

As always, more to come…. (I got my HbA1c results…)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Force Feeding

I’m still sick—hence lack of writing. (And, also my reason for why this may be slightly incoherent or rambling…)

I don’t like being sick and I can generally avoid it, but I’m always bound to get a winter cold and a spring cold. This is my spring cold. Runny nose, watery eyes, headache, sore throat, achy all over, exhausted, itchy ears, sneezing, coughing. It starts in my throat, moves to my head and then toward my chest before I can get rid of it. And, I’m prone to sinus infections, so I have to get it out of my head before it roots and makes things worse.

While my sugars go up and down with my fever, my appetite stays the same: level zero. I’m past the fever part now (and just stuck with the “feeling miserable” portion), which means my sugars are acting pretty much normal. When I woke up this morning, I was 84. I ate a Fiber One bar and drank a juice box (3 carb units) at 7:45 and hoped it would last a while. It only lasted until noon, when I dropped to 77. I ate some Cheez-Its and pretzels (one carb unit; measured out in my baggie). I’m hoping that will last me a full hour, then I’ll go to lunch.

I normally bring my lunch to work, but no matter how hard I try, when I’m sick, I can’t make a homemade salad and turkey wrap appealing. I just don’t want to eat anything—it all seems like so much work to choose, prepare, bite, chew, swallow and repeat when all I want to do is crawl back in bed and watch bad movies I’ve Tivo’d. So I’m going to buy my lunch today in an effort to rouse up an appetite. Surely the world beyond my office and clogged head offers something worth the effort of chewing?

Mark this day’s blog as: Yet Another Reason To Be Annoyed With Diabetes: Force Feeding Or Having To Eat Even When You Don’t Want To.

As always, more to come (unless the cold completely takes over my brain and I forget life as I know it and morph into someone else (I watched three episodes of House yesterday…))…

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sick Day

I’m at work and I feel lousy. My throat hurts and I feel really tired and run down. I don’t have a thermometer at work, but I have something that works almost as well: my blood kit. I’m 131, which tells me for sure things are not right in the inner-workings of Lora. At this point, I should be about 85.

I’d love to go home, crawl into bed with my two dogs and sleep for 14 hours straight. But I can’t. Work is rough and sick days aren’t always looked upon as a good thing.

So I’m drinking a ton of water and slugging it out. I’ll keep an eye on my sugar in case I dive-bomb. Food really isn’t an issue. Although I brought a full lunch, I have zero appetite.

I’ll try to catch a five-minute nap in the bathroom a couple times today, and do the “yes, I’m really reading this manuscript” pose while I catch a quick eye rest. Other than that, I’ll just slug it out and fall asleep as soon as I get home; make my husband wake me at a couple points to check my sugar.

I hate being sick. And not just diabetes-sick.

As always, more to come...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Don't Hate The Player, Hate The Device

I know hate is a strong word, and you’re not supposed to hate anything—only dislike it a little. Hate can come back to bite you. But since hate is already biting me, I think it’s an okay emotion to have in this circumstance.

I hate my lancing device.

And I’m not just speaking metaphorically here. I don’t hate it because of what it represents or how many times a day I have to use it. I literally hate it.

I use the Freestyle blood meter, which I love. I bruise really easily and testing just once on a finger can leave a black and blue mark over my whole fingerprint for a week. When I was told about Freestyle by a wise doctor during my diagnosis hospital visit, I immediately (upon being released and sent home) began my research and bought one. With Freestyle, you can test on your arm and multiple other sites. I usually test on my arm, but I will do my finger or my palm in low moments.

I started with the large-sized meter, which had a large-sized lancing device. When Freestyle came out with the Flash meter that was half the size and weight, I bought that, too. It came with a little lancing device—which I disliked immediately. It was more cheaply made and broke within a week. I ordered another one from Freestyle, thinking I just got a bum one, but the second one broke within a week, too. I went back to using my old, larger lancing device and I was very happy.

Well, in a moment of kindness, I gave my large lancing device to someone else and went back to a small one. Freestyle has a new meter out that doesn’t require coding and I got a free one at a health fair. The strips are a lot more expensive, though, so I decided not to make the jump to it yet. I did take the lancing device from the box, though, and that’s what I’m using now.

And I hate it.

It’s still cheaply made and something is seriously wrong with the spring device on it. It doesn’t gently tap my skin and produce a little drop of blood. It gouges into my arm and leaves a gaping hole that scabs over or turns purple. My arm looks like it was attacked by a million tiny venomous spiders who all bit me at the same time, all within an area the size of a quarter.

I called Freestyle to order the larger lancing device, but I’m still waiting for it. I’ve seen generic devices at the drugstore that don’t necessarily go with any particular meter and I’m thinking I may be heading there this weekend to pick one up—although I just put in a mail order for 300 more lancets that work in my current device. Oh, the dilemma. And the hate.

As always, more to come…

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bony Ass

I now know why I have diabetes: I don’t have enough butt fat.

Here’s the headline I saw on the Yahoo! home page today:

Big bottom may help protect against diabetes, researchers say

Evidently, they’re doing experiments on mice and injecting fat and have come up with the conclusion it’s possible that people who are pear-shaped have less of a chance of being diabetic.

Of course, the study doesn’t differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes—a tidbit news sources often leave out, assuming the identity to be irrelevant, and they’re wrong—so I’m not sure it directly relates to me. But since this reason makes as much sense as the rest, I’m going to run with it for now.

I have diabetes because I have a bony ass. I’m not being modest, either. I’ve been told after sitting on people’s knees that my rear has injured them. And I know from first-hand experience that when I sit on hard surfaces, I can feel my derriere bones connecting without benefit of fat cushion.

So from now on (or at least until another fabulously outrageous explanation emerges), when people ask about my diagnosis and the dreaded disease, I’m going to say, “Yes, I have diabetes. Type 1. I have a bony ass, you see.”

As always, more to come…

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blood Sucker

Yes, I know I stick myself with needles and syringes every day of my life. Yes, I see a lot of blood—on a test strip, smeared on my arm, squirting from the site of my insulin shot when I have a “bleeder,” etc.

But that doesn’t mean I like having my blood drawn at the doctor’s office. In fact, I can’t even watch it happen. I thrust my left arm out (I bruise horribly from the blood draw and I’m right-handed) and turn my head the other way before they even swab the area with alcohol.

Flash back to the first or second grade. I’m in the hospital with pneumonia. I’m in an oxygen tent. I’m in with a baby in a crib who has a parent next to him. Only I can’t see that it’s a parent, I can only see his feet, and I think someone is lying dead on the reclining chair. Mom and Dad are gone and I’m left all alone, scared and feeling really, really sick. Some well-intentioned nurse walks in to take my blood. I’m still young, I’m still na├»ve, I still pay attention when adults talk to me. She sticks me with a needle (I was brave; I hated needles (come to think of it, still do)) and says, “Look, that’s all your blood,” as she fills up vial after vial. It was supposed to be “cool.” I was supposed to be impressed, comforted, in awe. I was terrified. She sucked all that blood out of me?

Flash forward to today and I’m sitting in the lab in my doctor’s office, arm thrust out. I watch as the nurse takes three huge vials and one medium size one from a tray. I turn my head and wait for the sting. Only when I feel her pressing two (not one, two) Band-Aids over my wound do I look back at the tray. My blood, filling all those vials. She sucked all that blood out of me?

And the worst part is, I’ll have to wait almost two weeks to find out my results—my HbA1c, my TSH level, my cholesterol and all the other things they’re going to use that blood for (and they’d better use every drop). Because they call you if it’s bad news, and write you if things are fairly normal. I guess I’ll take the letter…

Actually, the worst part is, I’ll have to pull those two Band-Aids off eventually and see where the Blood Sucker left her mark.

As always, more to come…

Monday, May 5, 2008

Waiting For Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the big day: doctor day. I get my HbA1c number, which I haven’t had since November. I’ve been so good all year, up until the last 20 days or so (vacation, a couple of celebrations in there), that I’m worried about what it will be. I have a list in my bag of all the things I need to remember to ask about and get prescriptions and referrals for. Just playing the waiting game until tomorrow morning.

As always, more to come…

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Packing For Two

I'm going out of town for a long weekend. We're leaving tonight and coming back Sunday afternoon. I've always been a light packer--I used to actually run out of things, but I've since learned to pack pretty much exactly what I need.

So, seeing as how I'm going straight to the airport from work tonight, I had to pack last night so I could bring everything with me to the office this morning. I started right when I got home from work; I went straight upstairs, pulled out a bag, picked out my clothes, folded carefully and arranged them in my bag. Grabbed some toiletries and shoes and that was it. Done in about 15 minutes. It would appear that I would actually have time to go with my husband to drop our dogs off at two different locations. But, alas, looks can be deceiving.

My title is "Packing For Two." Did I have to pack for my husband? No--he'll do it himself about 10 minutes before he leaves for the airport. The other person I had to pack for was my diabetic self. Ugh.

I actually made a packing checklist that I keep on my computer. Anytime I go on vacation, I print it out so I don't forget anything. Extra lancets? Check. Extra test strips? Check. Prescriptions #1-5? Check. Insulin? Check. Alcohol swabs? Check. Syringes? Check. Letter from my doctor? Check. Glucose tabs? Check. All kinds of food in case of lows or I get stuck in an airport with no food stands (it's happened to me before)? Check. I literally have to bring an extra bag just to fit everything. And that makes me a two-bag traveller (both carry-on, of course), but I'd really rather only be a one-bag kind of person.

Of course, anyone I travel with loves that I can always be counted on for a handful of cashews, a granola bar, Wheat Thins or peanut butter crackers--I'm a regular vending machine that requires no coins. But it's no fun for me that I have to lug everything around, all the time, every trip, international or domestic, weekend or week-long.

The rest of it doesn't even bother me anymore--configuring the 24-hour Lantus shot (especially when travelling to a completely different time zone that's hours and hours different from ours) and where I'll have to do it (tonight, on the airplane, about halfway through our flight), how my sugars will be if I'm walking all day, how my sugars will be if I eat that specialty in another country and have no clue how to even go about carbing it, etc.--it's all second nature.

But the packing. That just irks the hell out of me. I'm one person. Can't I just pack for one?

As always, more to come...