Tag Archives: continuous glucose monitor

Is That A Pager? And other random things that make me go… hmmm….

It happens at least once a week, more when I’m around people and have to pull out the pump from my pocket. “Is that a pager?” Now, after being asked for like the 500th time, I have some alternate answers to that question.

“Yes, yes it is. Problem?”

“I’m a doctor.”

“It’s actually a morphine dispenser. Want some?”

I can go on and on as to what I tell them and what they ask me. Sometimes they ask if it’s an iPod or something. Yes, it has internal surround sound. Beat that.

There are other things that we people with diabetes use that typically other people want to use just so that they know what’s going on in their bodies, like a CGMS. “Really?” I thought as I read a comment on my Instagrammed CGMS photo from the gym. “I need one of those for my workouts!” it read.

Here I am, not wanting to use the damn thing because of pain and comfort issues, and this guy wants to use it because he’s a workout freak. Can’t they make something like that for the general public? Make it more painful while you’re at it.

The fact that we live in a data driven society makes me weak with an overwhelming nausea. Fitbits, pedometers, heart monitors, work out apps, calorie counters, spread sheets, all that good stuff that people look at and collect is just too much. The first time the doctor took my pump and downloaded all the information it had stored, I was going to throw up. It was like he was reading my diary.

He knew when I took it off, when I didn’t check, could assume why I didn’t check and why I did (and he was right), could tell me when I ate, how I slept and even knew my deepest, darkest secret! (Just kidding on that one, but they can also see when you take it off during “intimate times.”)

They gave me the print outs of all the information that they downloaded off the tiny purple MiniMed and I was overwhelmed, confused and wanted to faint. Did I really have to know about all the numbers and trends and graphs and data points in order to know I felt good? Did I have to know all of that so that I could check my blood sugar and make a smart decision on how much insulin I was going to take? Normal people don’t even know their blood sugar levels on an hourly basis, yet we were getting it every five minutes. Oh, how jealous must those data nerds be right now?!

I find it interesting that diabetes is such an epidemic that everyone is willing to test you on and question (“You know, I heard that if you…”) yet those same people who are ready to judge really have no idea what we go through or what life is like. When you talk about the pain, the discomfort, the repercussions of the sickness, most people say, “I’d never be able to do that.” Yes you would, modie fodie, because you want to live, breathe, dance, survive. When your life is on the line, you’ll do as much as you can to keep it.

After feeling humiliated and naked after they checked out my data points, I decided that I’d have to be really good and not try to mask things. When you have diabetes, your numbers tell it all. It’s like that idea that you can’t hide what you eat because it shows on your body. I can’t hide what I’m doing to myself because it shows on the CGMs. Caught! Red handed!

Sometimes it’s not about the management of the actual disease as much as it’s about the conditioning to keep things on track. It becomes clock work after a while. I wake up in the morning and grab my machine on my way to the bathroom to wash up. I test and brush my teeth, then go along my merry way. That’s my morning, before I make a smoothie, work out and clean something.

Once you do something for 20 days straight, it becomes a habit. How about if you do it for 20 years straight? I think I’ve skipped checking a few days out of those years, quite honestly.

Now I want to know– if you have diabetes, what situations or things have you found yourself in that make you go “Hmmm…”? Tell me! I want to know! 

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Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Health

Does diabetes really disable me?

Through work, we are voluntarily asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding disabilities– making sure they hit quotas, I suppose, on supporting the people with disabilities in this world. I voluntarily answered the questionnaire, like usual, not afraid of any question that should come up, especially because I don’t think of myself as having a disability.

As I reviewed the questions, I saw it on the list: Diabetes. All of a sudden, a trigger went off in my head and I almost closed the questionnaire because I didn’t want to admit that I had a disability. Would anyone?

In the end, I didn’t close it and I ended up finishing it, however there was a feeling of anger and resentment that went through me. I thought, I’m never going to be like everyone else. I’ve come to this realization many times in my life– it wasn’t something new to me or to anyone. In fact, I’ve written about how diabetes made me different multiple times and I wasn’t ashamed of it.

But now, work knew. The people who employed me and those above them now all knew that I had diabetes. Again, this is not something that I’m ashamed about, however it is something that I’m weary of especially because to those who don’t know me, I’m another person with diabetes– enter all of the stereotypes that screw with the mindset of those who are ignorant to the disease.

Was it really a disability? A few hours later that night, I told one of my best friends about the questionnaire. “You don’t have a disability!” he said to me, so confidently. I smiled because I was grateful to him and to all of my friends who feel the same way.

It’s not a disability simply because I don’t treat it like one. I technically have not been disabled from doing anything in my life. Besides wanting to maybe be in the peace corp or a fighter pilot (because I mean, who doesn’t want to do something like that in their life?), I’ve done everything that I’ve ever wanted to do. Sure, a vital organ in my body doesn’t really work the way it should and I’m part cyborg because of the pump that I wear on my hip, but in no way was that a disability.

I take care of myself as best as I can. Sometimes that does slip from me because of my busy lifestyle and all the different things I get myself into. At times, I don’t check myself as frequently as I should, but I always keep my pump on. That’s one thing that I can’t not do; I can’t not take insulin. It’s not like taking aspirin or a pill of some sort. It’s not a medication that I’m taking to help me live. It’s a hormone that I NEED to live.

The kicker here, is that diabetes can become a disability. If I let it slip enough, I can go blind, lose a limb, lose my life. This is why I continue to go to the doctor so that I can stay on top of my issues and making sure that I can prevent any harm that may come my way.

It’s important to track and important to know what’s going on in my body, since it’s not something that I can take advantage of and not think about. I was told to go back to the continuous glucose monitoring system to help better control myself and I have. There are dietary restrictions that I’m putting on myself just out of mere knowledge and understanding that certain foods don’t cooperate with me. I have to do these extra things so that diabetes NEVER becomes a disability.

There may be sacrifices, but I don’t see them that way. I see them as ways to live a better and longer life. If not eating rice and bananas means I get to stay here and enjoy life for a few more years– then so be it. Here I’ll stay.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Health, Personal

Diabetes and Tech: We’re all Geeks.

Continuous Glucose Monitors hurt. Their needles are thicker than anything I’ve seen since I’ve been diagnosed—do you know how many needles that is? Thousands. Blood withdraw, injections, tetanus shots, vaccines, all included. Especially for the size of the object that you’re inserting into your body, the needle for the sensor couldn’t be any thicker.

I stopped using it because of that. It didn’t just hurt—it felt like I was stabbing myself. My poor soft, virgin-to-any-needle thighs endured the worst pain. Bruises, blood and brashness were included every time I changed the sensor. However, according to my doctor there are two types of CGM users in the world: Those that hate it and use it and those who hate it and don’t use it. I fall perfectly into a category—for the first time in my life.

And don’t get me wrong, the 45 degree insertion angle is all kinds of important and I did prop it at such an angle, but it still hurt!

One of the downsides I found to wearing a monitor was the scars. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of them already from insertion sites for my pump, but when I wore the CGM I had to worry about double the amount of scars and where to place both devices. Additionally, the amount of times I saw “Cal Error” come up was disturbing. So I just went back to checking my sugar with finger pricks.

I went back to using my good old-fashioned glucose meter that conveys readings to my pump. It’s not at all new, especially since I live by the motto: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  I’ve decided to downgrade just because of the fact that at this point in time, I don’t want to be literally tied down and monitored 24/7.

However, if you’re like me and have instances of hypoglycemia, the CGM can literally be a lifesaver. When you drop below a certain number, your pump or monitoring device will beep, vibrate or somehow call your attention so that you wake up and  treat the low before it’s too late. The CGM is programmed to keep you aware, and the more aware you are, the better it is for your diabetes management.

For those of you like me that don’t necessarily have a tracker of sorts, you can also use MySugr, a diabetes companion used to “tame your diabetes monster.” You put in everything manually, but it makes it fun and keeps you on your toes about the stuff that’s going into your system and the results that it portrays.

See, the thing here is, you can input your numbers (of all forms) and see your results tracked, allowing you to identify what you’re eating and how it’s impacting your body. This answer the question of the “if… then” scenario. You’ll start thinking, “If I eat this, then my blood sugar will be XXX,” allowing you for wiser choices on meals and carbohydrate intake.

There are other things that I use to monitor my activity—like the fitbit that I wear. That’s just one of the many devices that are currently being sold to play the pedometer role in a more high-tech and fancy way. It also shows that you’re “active.”

What’s the downside to wearing one of these? Charging it and forgetting not to put it back on. Additionally, you also have to be good about inputting your caloric intake, water intake and setting your fitbit to sleep mode. I mean, if you need something to make you active, are you really going to be adding in all that information? I know data geeks do it. Do you fall in that category? What ’bout the simple folks, like me? Will power I tell you.

I would like to wish from the app making gods, to create something that not only allows me to track my glucose levels and intakes, but also communicates with my smartphone, updating data so that I can look at it IRT. You know what that means? In Real Time—some marketing terminology I picked up. But instead of sitting there and unplugging in order to download all of my numbers, I could have them as they happen with stats and all! That would be cool. Someone get on that now.

Bottom line, we people with diabetes are all geeks. We love to nerd out to new technologies that can give us more data and tell us more information about our body’s performance. It’s quite literally looking at your body as if you were some kind of machine, or dare I say, cyborg. I actually like calling myself that. Geeky– I told you.

People with diabetes or PWD want to know more. I think it’s a sense that something went wrong within our bodies that we couldn’t control and by having control and understanding everything else, is not only necessary, but it also keeps us sane in a strange way. I mean, my life is run by numbers and sometimes that’s enough– especially when you burn out and become exhausted of always being “on top of it.” However, using technology helps us stay on it even when we don’t necessarily want to.

Additionally, we have the ideas of islet transplants– which create beta cells which create insulin– along with this far fetched notion of stem cells and the more we learn about it, the more we are excited that there may just be a cure of some sort. Trust me, when it comes to the ethics of some of these things, I find myself in a bind. I tend to be selfish and think of only myself when it comes to these things. I don’t know if anyone else thinks along these lines but I’m like, “I can be free!” Kind of like the genie in Aladdin. We can dream, can’t we?

Social media has also played a huge role for us. You’re probably reading this right BECAUSE you follow me on social. You saw this blog post on Twitter, right? Leave a note in the comments, please.

I digress. Social media has allowed for people to find those who are like them in various ways, not just also being a person living with diabetes. This includes people who live in the same city, like the same music, play the same games – all folks who have allowed for friendships to flourish and conferences fun to go to. Together, as a band of do-gooders, we have allowed for people to come to us with questions, comments and “I know EXACTLY how you feel” sentiments. We just want the dialogue to continue so that we know we’re never alone.

And that companionship, my friends, follows us all over the place through our technology, especially our smartphones. We are able to tweet, Facebook, Pin and Instagram from anywhere on the planet (that has Wi-Fi) and stay connected via microblogging and blog and information sharing has never been easier. Wherever my friends are, I can be right there with them, letting them know that, for example, TSA didn’t have to pat me down today at the airport. Those are #smallwins, but #wins in my book nonetheless.

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Filed under Diabetes, Health, technology

Sometimes Anger Creeps In

There are a lot of things that get to me. You could say that I’m a very emotional person, however you look at me. I have different experiences with diabetes; sometimes I’m fine, other times, I get very angry. In the past blog, I mentioned that my previous doctor loved diabetes. She told me to do what she said and she’d figure out the rest.

At one point, they put this CGM or continuous glucose monitor on me for a week. What it does is checks your blood sugar once every 5 minutes. It keeps all the data and then once the chip is connected to a computer, it shows you graph after graph and all the numbers. They do this to test how well you’re monitoring yourself; if you give yourself the right amount of insulin for the food you’re eating and check your own blood sugar. With the CGM, you can’t see the numbers, it’s just a little thing inserted into your side with a catheter. You don’t go over all of the results until you’re with your doctor the following week. It was a wake up call to say the least.

The monitor looked like this little shell on my side, taped to my hip. I had to record every thing I ate, my insulin in take, the time everything happened. The last day I had it on, I was going to make every effort to keep everything perfect, to show if you will, that I had learned something important. When I stopped for lunch, mind you, I hadn’t eaten anything that morning, my sugar was high. I didn’t expect it to go up at all, since all I had done was taken the train.

I got angry. They couldn’t tell me what had happened, I couldn’t tell me what happened and at the same time, I thought, why the hell do I even try?

The doctor even asked me if I had been scared or stressed between the time I left my house and the time I stopped for lunch. Let’s just say, I didn’t even want to eat after that.
That night, I went home feeling bad. How was I supposed to work with something that was going to do what it wanted anyway? It’s like when a kid does exactly what their parents say yet still doesn’t get that toy they’ve wanted because they didn’t do it the exact way mom said. I don’t even know if that makes any sense.

I ended up telling a friend about it, who clearly didn’t understand, basically making it my fault. Again, it was my fault for not taking care of myself, for doing things wrong and I got angry.
Why did I have to have this disorder? Why did my pancreas have to give out? Why is it that couldn’t be normal like everyone else? I don’t want to have to do this because like everything  else, it’s a lot of work.

But then The fighter in me came out and I said, no one else could fix this beside me. No one could know my body better than me, this body, susceptible to emotion and stress that has a great effect on the blood sugar and vise versa. When my blood sugar drops I get very touchy and emotional. When it goes up, I get sleepy and tired.

The reason why I write about this is because my new doctor wants to do it again. I’ve finally made the decision to get the pump, which is basically an external pancreas which is always attached and gives me a certain amount of insulin at a time throughout the day. This means no more shots. But the thought of having this thing put on me again makes me weary. Hopefully I’ve learned something and this time it won’t be so shocking.

I just have to keep reminding myself that I will continue to work hard for me for my family and for those who love me. I don’t want to lose my limbs, have a heart attack or die a premature death. I want to live as well as everyone else I know. And I will.

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Filed under Diabetes, Doctors, Personal, Stories