April 30, 2008

Endo Visits

This week I went to my Endocrinology appointment for my 3-month diabetes check up. I actually see a physicians assistant, Rosanna, and she is the best.

As I filled out the blood sugar chart in the waiting room I realized how proud I was of my recent blood sugar numbers. I know, it's weird how much blood sugar can affect your mood or how you feel about yourself, but it does!

Sitting in that waiting room I recognized all of the nurses and medical assistants behind the check-in counter from my numerous past visits. There's one woman in particular who stands out. She's never very friendly and is significantly overweight. I don't know how to say this without sounding judgmental, but I'm always curious about overweight people who work in the health care industry. How can you take a medical professional seriously when they tell you to watch your calories when they're overweight? This has definitely happened to me before.

Another interesting experience that sometimes occurs in the Endocrinology office is when an inexperienced nurse checks your blood sugar. I've had someone once who didn't even know how to use the glucometer. I was like, you've GOT to be kidding me.

And another time, a nurse spoke to me in a very condescending way in response to a high blood sugar test in the doctor's office. First, I wanted to slap her, then I wanted to tell her that you shouldn't make a diabetic feel bad about their blood sugar control. If you're not diabetic, it might be tough to understand that no matter how hard you try, sometimes you'll get a bad number. But you'd think that someone who works in an Endocrinology office would know better.

April 29, 2008

Dirty Dancing

Well, I turned 29 this past weekend and had an amazing weekend with the girls in Palm Sprizzle. It was a blast! We gossiped, laughed til our cheeks hurt, people watched at the pool, and met Patrick Swayze's body double from Dirty Dancing (or so he claimed right before offering to "dance" for us for $5). It was also filled with lots and lots of blood testing.

When you're on vaca with your girls, the last thing you need is diabetes eff-ing it up. Mixing alcohol and diabetes can be dangerous, but I've worked very closely with my doctor and nutritionist to pinpoint exactly how it affects my body.

I know what beer, wine and hard alcohol do to my blood sugar. But the thing is, you can't know what it's doing without testing. So I took every opportunity to do it...before leaving the hotel, under the restaurant table before ordering dinner, between each drink, in the nightclub bathroom, back at the hotel before 3am snacks, before passing out, and again when I woke up at 6am for water.

Still, with all this blood flowin' I still managed to go low on the dance floor. No matter how fun it is, dancing = exercise. Just as Flo Rida was singing about apple bottom jeans and boots with fur, this shorty got low, low, low. I made a bee line to the bar for some sugary coke to bring it back up, and was feeling better in minutes.

If you drink, talk to your doctors about it. Be upfront and be healthy about it. And when you're partying, stay aware of what you're doing and how you're feeling. You can't not test. It's just not worth it.

April 25, 2008

Birthday In Palm Springs

At the risk of dating myself...ah, whatever, I'm turning 29 today. Happy Birthday to me!

I'm headed to Palm Springs with a group of fabulous ladies for a weekend of fun, sun, booze, dancing, late nights, pool time, gossiping and anything else that gets in our way. I'm sure it'll be trouble, as it usually is.

Since I'm the only diabetic in the group (which you'd assume after reading my previous post) I need to remember to watch out for myself and not get distracted from my diabetes while having all this fun.

I've noticed that on trips like these, the girls can forget to eat. It's always me who comes up with the idea to eat, and usually everyone follows suit. Adding in the drinking factor, my blood sugar has a tendency to stay on the low side, so I really need to stay on top of it, especially while dancing.

I also have a secret buddy system. While all these girls are very aware that I'm diabetic, there are a few who were with me when I was diagnosed, lived with me in college, and just know exactly what to do if something happens to me. I find myself tending to stick close to those girls, like the buddy system. But I know that if anything were to happen, I could count on any one of them, because I'm so open about diabetes that everyone is aware for me.

This morning I'm prepping for the 4 hour drive, which I'm doing solo. Lots of water and snacks for just in case. Plus I double checked that my emergency $5 is in my car (for food when you find yourself stuck without).

All in all it should be a great weekend and great birthday! And if I can just remember to keep my diabetes top of mind, then I'll return home just as healthy as I left.

Party time! Excellent! (For you fellow Wayne's World fans.)

April 24, 2008

Donating Body Parts

Diabetes affects every single cell in your body. And whether or not we're otherwise 100% healthy, diabetes is slowly damaging our bodies cell by cell. Depressing, I know, but lets not think about that for now.

What I want to focus on is that fact that this damage to our cells puts us in a group of people who can't donate our organs or any other body part, including giving blood or marrow. When I found this out, I was really upset because I'd always wanted to gives blood regularly. I patiently waited for my 18th birthday when I could legally donate, but then I went and got diabetes. Grr.

Another reason this makes me upset is the fact that if my husband needed something, a kidney for example, I wouldn't be able to give him one of mine even if we're a match. I've got a great friend with cancer, and if she ever needs a bone marrow transplant (knock on wood she NEVER needs one), I can't help her.

A few months ago I realized that there is one thing, one part of my body that isn't affected by diabetes, at least not in a way that would make it dangerous to other people...my hair. My hair was getting pretty long and I was ready for a substantial cut, so I started doing some research.

There are a number of organizations out there that take donated hair and change peoples' lives.

I've officially committed to donating my hair. Tomorrow, I'm chopping off 12 full inches of my strawberry blonde hair and pretty soon someone else will be wearing it. I haven't selected the organization just yet though.

Just because we're diabetic doesn't mean we still can't give of ourselves. Besides, wouldn't it be good karma to donate all we can in case the day ever comes when we need an organ transplant? (I'm knocking on wood again.)

April 22, 2008

Blood Sugar Testing On A Schedule

Testing your blood sugar is just a few quick and easy steps to do. Yes, it can be a touch painful, but honestly, I've stubbed by toe way harder than testing my blood sugar or taking an injection ever hurt me.

Despite the fact that it only takes a minute or so to do, blood sugar testing can be painful in the sense that it's a royal pain in the neck to remember to do throughout the day. I used to have days where I'd sometimes test once a day and sometimes 8, even though 8 was my goal. Now it's 10 and that was a lot for me to remember at the start.

I've now put myself on a schedule, because it's the only thing that works. I find that if I don't incorporate testing into my life 100% and try to make it a habit, then it just doesn't happen, even when I have the best of intentions.

Test #1As soon as my alarm goes off, I grab my testie from my nightstand and test while still half under the covers.
Test #2I test as soon as I get to work while my computer boots up and then I eat breakfast while checking my email.
Test #3A 2 hour alarm is set on my pump to alert me 2 hours after breakfast.
Test #4As soon as I decide what to do for lunch, eat at my desk or order out, I test.
Test #5Again, a 2 hour alarm is set on my pump to alert me 2 hours after lunch.
Test #64:00pm snacking cravings hit me, I test, if low I get to snack, if not I chug a glass of water and get over the craving.
Test #7While cooking dinner, when I get to the "dinner in 5 minutes!"-mark, it's time to test.
Test #8Once again, a 2 hour alarm is set on my pump to alert me 2 hours after dinner.
Test #9Once in PJs, I test before brushing my teeth, just in case I need to munch something.
Test #10I never test in the middle of the night unless I wake up on my own. Sometimes when I wake up it takes a few minutes before I start feeling shaky when I'm low, so I always test if I wake up at night.

Of course, I have days where I forget to do one of the tests mentioned above, but all in all, a schedule seriously helps me pull in all together. And with the busy lives most people have these days, making blood sugar testing as simple as possible is a necessity.

April 21, 2008

Healthy Spring Cleaning For Diabetics

This past weekend was a flurry of spring cleaning at my house. I cleaned all but one room from top to bottom.

I also did my own version of that old TLC show Clean Sweep, where they go through someone's stuff and separate it all out into four piles: keep, donate, sell, and toss. Although, my house did NOT look like one of those pack rat homes in the beginning. But everyone can use a little spring cleaning, right?

When starting a cleaning frenzy like this, diabetics have to be very aware of what all this activity will do to their blood sugar. While not typically thought of as exercise, house cleaning is just that. And it will absolutely affect your blood sugar. Constant activity while cleaning house usually keeps me on the verge of going low all day long, and I just might get there a few times.

In my experience, the best way to stay healthy while house cleaning is to test my blood sugar throughout the day and to set a periodic alarm for myself. I do this because when I'm knee deep in old photo boxes, magazines I never read, and costumes from my old sorority days, you tend to lose track of time.

I'm sure that you diabetics out there have experienced this once or twice too. Next time your at it, set little reminders like me on your phone to check your blood sugar every 2 hours or so. Not only will you welcome the break, but it'll help keep you from having hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) throughout the day.

April 17, 2008

Big News For My Blood Sugar Numbers!

I heard word today from Medtronic Minimed that United Healthcare has officially approved me for a continuous glucose monitor! I'm so excited I could scream! Don't worry, I won't.

This means that I'll know how my blood sugar is fluctuating around the clock, instead of just 8 times a day.

For those of you still waiting to be approved, have patience. My fingers are crossed for you for the insurance companies to get with it and cover it across the board.

I had to switch from HealthNet to United Healthcare when I switched jobs a few months back. I was already happy with my decision to change my job, but this makes me 110% happy about it. You never know what a job change can bring, and if it happens to you anytime soon, I hope the same kind of positive changes come to you too.

April 16, 2008

Testing & Driving

We all do it...texting while driving. Word on the street is it'll be illegal in California (where I live) beginning this July 1. I'm sure this will lead to less accidents on the road.

I've got something to confess. I not only text while driving; I test while driving. I pull out my tester, set it on my lap, and steer with my knees for a moment while I poke my hand. If the results are high, I go one step further, pull out my insulin pump, and juice it up.

I know it's bad. I'm sure just as bad as texting or eating while driving. But I do it anyway because it always feels important to do it the very moment when I need to. And I'm sure that if I do it, there are other diabetics out there too who are testing while driving.

While I'm trying to prevent future complications, I'm ignoring the more immediate possible complications, like dying in a car accident or worse, killing someone else.

I hereby promise to stop testing while driving. I will do my best to remember to test before starting the car, or else I will pull the car over to do it. What about you?

April 15, 2008

A Love/Hate Relationship With My Tester

As a Diabetic, one of the things that I always have with me is my Blood Glucometer, a FreeStyle Flash.

Of course, I don't go around calling it my "Blood Glucometer," as I'm sure you don't either. It's had many names over the years and keeps on evolving - from Glucometer to Blood Tester to Tester to Testie to Testicle. The last one is a joke I have with my husband because it lives in a little pouch that goes everywhere with me. But mostly, it's my Testie.

I've had a few glucometers over the years, but this FreeStyle Flash has been my favorite by far. It's small, the poker is small, it has a light on the end so I can test at night, and, I'll admit, my husband bought it for me because there was a butterfly on the box. If you knew me, you'd understand.

While it's certainly the best one I've ever had, I do have a love/hate relationship with it. I mean, it's this thing that has to go everywhere with me and I have to make myself bleed with it multiple times a day. Who wouldn't hate that?

My solution to this "hate" problem was to try to turn it into something fun. Hence the nicknaming. Something else that helped was to accessorize it. Yes, I said accessorize it! I'm a girl who loves fashion. So, why am I carrying this thing around in a not-cute, nylon, black case that's unnecessarily big?

Enter Chinatown, San Francisco. While shopping through silk-embroidered handbags in a little shop there two years ago, I came across a pretty little red zippered pouch. Fashion crisis averted! For $1, this pouch was the solution. Albeit, my equipment barely fit inside, but I made it work. And getting a red one was great for two reasons, blood won't show up if you get some on it, and it's easy to spot from across the room when you're in a rush.

I went back to Chinatown after a year and upgraded to a slightly larger beautiful red pouch for $5 that's actually made my negative feelings toward my glucometer go away! Who would have thought that's all it would take!

If my Testie and I have to go everywhere together, at least we'll look cute doing it!

April 14, 2008

Beach Day, Beer, Bikes & Blood Sugar

Yesterday was a lovely day. 90 degrees. Gorgeous. A definite beach day.

I took a bike ride downtown with a friend for lunch, rode to the beach, we had two beers and chilled out while watching the waves and other beach-goers. Then I rode my bike home. It was a really great day.

A bike ride like this takes planning for diabetics, and somehow it still didn't work out quite right. Before leaving the house, I tested (135), had a bowl of cereal, and drank a glass of water. When we got to the restaurant it was 317. Huh?!

When we were by the beach, I tested...114. Fab. But on the ride home, I started feeling weak and shaky. By the time I got home it was 54.

At this point I was tired from riding, overheated from the sun, had a beer buzz goin' on, and low blood sugar. I did not feel well. After eating something, I felt exhausted. By 8:00pm I felt pretty sick and went to bed feeling like I had the flu. I slept 10 hours and woke up feeling great.

I know there were a lot of factors that led to my feeling ill, but I know from experience that it was the fluctuations of my blood sugar that left me feeling like crap and ready to vomit. I've learned to get through these low points by having patience, and not allowing it to ruin the fantastic day that led up to it.

As diabetics, we can never relax, never stop testing, never stop being vigilant about trying to stay healthy. Some might think this sounds depressing, but you have to move past that. There are just too many lovely days ahead for us to enjoy.

April 12, 2008

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I'm unhappy today. I'm having one of those "I Hate Diabetes" days that seem to crop up every once in awhile. I don't know why.

Yesterday I was fine. Tomorrow, I'll probably be fine. But for today...today royally sucks.

There's nothing abnormal about today. Subtract my current emotional state from the equation and it's a pretty darn good day. Even my blood sugar numbers are good. But the negative emotions about having Diabetes crawled out of some dark place and are haunting me.

I need to test right now, and I will, but honestly, I'm over it. So over it. When will the madness stop?

It's days like this that tempt me to throw in the towel. Why shouldn't I? But I know deep down that Diabetes is doable. Millions are doing it right now. To get through it, I force myself to stay strict with my testing/insulin routine and my diet. Then I just allow myself to feel the emotion. You can't deny emotion. But you can choose to not let it take over.

Think of the people who have diseases that can't be cured. Diseases that take control of your body so you can't move, can't function, can't live. That's when I tell myself, "Pull it together, Sarah." With medicine and technology, us Diabetics have been given a chance to not only survive, but to thrive. We have the opportunity to accomplish just as much as our families, friends, and neighbors in this lifetime. And we only get one.

I've decided to feel the emotion for today. But tomorrow, I'm waking up happy, and I'm going to keep on living, one test strip at a time.

April 11, 2008

Diabetes Detecting Dogs

I was awakened this morning by my sweet kitty Miles who pounced on my stomach and meowed in my face. I looked at the clock and sure enough, I was late. Somehow I'd turned off my alarm in my sleep (I really dislike my alarm).

As I sat up in bed to do the first thing I do every morning - test my blood sugar - I remembered a news story I heard a year or so ago about dogs that are trained to smell low blood sugar. For a split second I thought, hey, maybe Miles pounced because I'm low. Wouldn't that be exciting! But, alas, it was 130.

This rude awakening made me wonder about how the Diabetes detecting dogs are doing these days. It would be pretty amazing to have a pet who could tell when things were wrong and warn you. Especially for all the Diabetics out there who just don't feel the lows coming on.

Turns out the timing couldn't have been better for Miles to remind me of this cool concept. Diabetes Forecast magazine published an article on it last month that I somehow missed (Read it here!). There are a few organizations out there training dogs to specialize in Diabetes, and an article on the subject if you'd like to find out more:
- Dogs 4 Diabetics
- All Purpose Canines
- Canine Partners for Life
- British Research Article

I'm currently trying to work out getting on a Continuous Glucose Monitor, which will give me warnings when my blood sugar is low. So getting a Diabetes detecting dog may not be the right way for me to go (and I'm sure Miles wouldn't appreciate it). But it might be right for you, especially if you have young children with Diabetes. It's great to know that man's best friend could really save your life!

April 10, 2008

Saving Your Heart & Your Life

Diabetics are definitely at high risk for developing Heart Disease. So, what can we do about it? Aside from keeping your blood sugar in the "good" range, we should also be watching our blood pressure and cholesterol.

A new study has found that keeping close tabs on your Systolic blood pressure (the upper number) and your LDL cholesterol (the bad one) can provide some added help to diabetics when it comes to preventing heart disease.

Here are the #'s that are recommended:


The "Diabetic-old" numbers are what doctors used to have us aim for - even lower than non-Diabetics. But this new study found that if Diabetics can achieve even lower numbers ("Diabetic-new"), we can stop the increase of plaque formation, and even reverse it!

I haven't a clue what my Systolic or LDL are, but I'm definitely going to pay more attention to them next time I'm at the doctor or getting lab work done.

CNN's coverage of this study also mentions that study participants were taking blood pressure and cholesterol medications, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to acheive such low numbers. At least I now know that there are even more ways to help prevent diabetes complications. And I'm going to do everything I can to prevent them.

April 9, 2008

Where Are My Diabetic Friends?

I don't know about you, but I don't really have any diabetes friends. I do have friends who know a lot about it and ask me how I'm doing, but they don't know exactly what I'm going through. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends, but sometime it'd be like to have some extra support from friends with diabetes.

After 10 1/2 years, you'd think I'd have made a diabetic friend along the way. In college, I met one guy who had it, but he was such a cocky jerk that I didn't even attempt to get to know him. Last year, I met a girl who seemed cool at first, but it turned out she was a compulsive liar. So both friendships were doomed from the start.

I'll admit that I haven't exactly been searching for you out there. In the beginning I heard there was a local diabetes support group, but my doc told me they'd "disbanded" because people weren't coming.

Someday it'd be nice to have a great friend that I really click with who also knows what I'm going through. The kind where you just get each other without words. Until then, I'll try to be patient. I'd love to hear about where and how you've met your diabetic friends!

April 8, 2008

Party Foul

I went to a beer drinking, Bocce Ball-playing birthday party this past weekend. It was super fun, and super low-key.

I usually steer clear of beer (sorry about the rhyming here), because of it's high carb content. If I do drink it, I'll stick to Michelob Ultra (only 1.5 carbs. YES!). At a mellow party or get together, dry wine is my drink of choice (about 2-5 carbs), and when it's time to hit the dance floor with my girls, it's rum and diet cokes for me (zero carbs!).

Lately, though, it's beer that has been calling my name, and a lot of times my good friend Michelob Ultra isn't on the menu. As was the case at this beer drinking party. And if it's got carbs in it, insulin is necessary.

My problem with beer is that it takes me so long to drink it that I forget to take insulin for it. Especially once I've gotten my buzz on. An hour later, I'm feeling parched, despite the fact that I've been drinking an icy cold beverage the whole time. I check my blood sugar and hot damn, it's high.

I tend to get pretty down on myself for letting this happen. It's not like it's that difficult to remember something so simple. I mean, I have to remember to take insulin so many times throughout the day that it's hard for me to believe I forgot.

I got caught up with friends and fun. Even though high blood sugar is bad for my body, it was really nice to feel normal for an hour and feel unburdened by my constant worries about diabetes. But not thinking about it is a luxury that I can't afford.

April 7, 2008

Cracking Down on Cravings

Heading to the gym on a Sunday morning, I was proud of myself for not giving in to the urge to sleep in. As I walked from my car to the gym entrance, I started getting hungry. I had eaten a bowl of Special K 15 minutes earlier. How could I be hungry?

The smell of Mexican food wafted out of the delicious restaurant right next to 24 Hour Fitness. This isn't just any Mexican food, this is the special Sunday brunch of a beautiful, well-known, not-cheap Mexican restaurant. Each Sunday, I head past the heavenly smells on my way in to burn some calories.

Fortunately, good 'ol Paul McKenna from "I Can Make You Thin" had armed me with a weapon to fight back.

I pressed together my left thumb and left middle finger and imagined sitting down to a big plate of Mexican brunch. I kept squeezing as I passed, and wouldn't ya know it? I immediately began to feel a bit nauseas. I didn't hold it too long for fear that I'd feel so nauseas that I wouldn't be able to work out.

Crisis averted. This method is really working for me! Squelching my Mexican food cravings is key to controlling my diabetes, what with the tortillas, beans, and rice (carbs, carbs, carbs), and the cheese, sour cream, and guacamole (fat, fat, fat). It was another healthy Sunday for me!

April 4, 2008

Stopping the Snacking Madness

As I mentioned in my previous post, Snacking on the Job, I've got a problem with snacking at work. I may have found a solution!

Have you heard of the new TLC show "I Can Make You Thin"? It started a few weeks ago and I recorded last Sunday's episode to my DVR. I watched it last night, and so far, I think it's genius.

From what I understand, each episode teaches a different method to stop you from overeating or snacking. The one I just saw taught me how to fight cravings.

Show host Paul McKenna, apparently known "round the world" for his unique methods, promised to help us "through the television" with these simple steps.

  • First he asked viewers to visualize your favorite food, whatever you often crave or snack on. For me, it's chips and other carby things.
  • Then visualize a food you hate, or something nasty - the examples he gave were worms, hair from a barbershop floor, or the contents of a spittoon.
  • From this point until the end of the process, press together the tips of your left thumb and left middle finger.
  • Now, visualize your favorite food combined with the nastiness. So my brain pictures Doritos swimming in a full-to-the-brim spittoon. You should be entirely grossed out by now.
  • Next, physically pretend that you're eating it. So I held out my hand and pretended I was scooping up soggy chips dripping with saliva and chewing tobacco with an imaginary spoon, put it in my mouth and made chewing motions.

If you're ready to hurl, then this method is working. I could feel my gag reflex wanting to react on its own. And that's just the point.

Paul claims that the brain cannot tell the difference between the real and the imaginary. By doing this, you are conditioning your brain to connect the sickening feeling you get with the act of pressing together your left thumb and middle finger.

Now for the good part.

  • Press together the tips of your right thumb and right middle finger.
  • Imagine something that gives you pleasure (not food). Imagine it clearly and vividly, and notice how good it makes you feel.

You are now conditioning your brain to have pleasure from good thoughts, instead of food.

The next time you have a craving, do the first set of steps focusing on the object of your craving plus nastiness, while using your left hand. Then do the second set of steps using your right hand.

My experience so far is that it works. Today I didn't go anywhere near the snack food at the office. I'm definitely going to watch the new episode this Sunday (TLC at 9/8c) to see what other tricks he has for me..

April 3, 2008

What Really Counts?

When I first started taking short-acting insulin, a nutritionist taught me to count carbs so I could take my insulin accordingly. Before this, I had never paid attention to the quantities of food or carbs that I swallowed.

I bought The Calorie King's Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter book and carried it with me everywhere. The book was incredible. It listed the calorie, fat and carb content for thousands of foods, including dishes from chain restaurants, and it somehow fit in my purse.

This was my bible for years, looking up the contents of each meal so I could accurately take my insulin. The problem was that no one had ever stressed the importance of looking at the calorie or fat listings in the book. I literally only looked at carbs.

Last fall, I started seeing a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. He was shocked to discover that I didn't pay attention to calories, and immediately put me on a 1,200-1,500 calorie/day diet. That, combined with a new weight lifting and cardio routine, made my body start morphing into something a bit leaner that I was more comfortable with.

Ever since my eyes were opened to the importance of calories, I started to see all the mistakes I was making with my "attention to carbs only" diet. There were foods I ate high quantities of because they had little to no carbs, like cheese, eggs, olives and mushrooms. I considered them to be "free" foods. I couldn't have been further from the truth. These calories were seriously adding up!

Now that I've been awakened to the world of truly healthy eating, I know that there is no such thing as a "free" food. It all adds up. I just wish that someone had told me this from the start.

April 2, 2008

Snacking on the Job

I recently started a new job. It's awesome. Better pay, better hours, more flexibility, less stress, and an all 'round better environment. It was definitely a fantastic decision to make the change.

With this great job, I've developed a major problem. Snacking on the job. You see, there's this fully stocked refrigerator. And when I say refrigerator I mean a humongous, commercial size refrigerator, where the whole thing is a fridge (no freezer). Plus, there are numerous shelves covered in snacky foods. Chips, nuts, sweets, granola bars, apples, oranges, cookies, candy, sandwich fixin's, guacamole, sodas, galore!

For the first month, I did a great job of resisting the snacking temptation. After having to eat some of the candy to solve a low blood sugar problem, I started having little things here and there. Now, I'm snacking every day, sometimes more than once. For a non-diabetic, my habits probably wouldn't be all that "out of hand". But for me, they are. Every time I give in to the urge I have to check my blood sugar AND take insulin. Even with these obstacles, I somehow still choose snack.

Of course, this type of snacking will pack a few pounds onto anyone who does it regularly. But the long term effects of this snacking on my body will be far more severe. I've got to stop. Immediately!