Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ringing Out The Old Year

I don't know about you, but any recent luck o'the averages I may have had has been irrevocably ruined from the Christmas holidays.

Ok I tried to be a good D...truly I did. But the goodies called my name,(over and over) the set changes became fewer,the Dexcom crapped completely out,(of warranty,too) & I just stopped caring what I was,I just wanted to have fun for once.(without inconveniencing anyone with a low). Throw in some hormones and you have the next episode of "Blood Sugars Gone Wild."
All of which equals an average bg in the mid -to-upper 200's.

Yep-not good on the a1c, & unfortuently,the holidays have not yet ended..there's still my side of the family.( New Years Day). I need to get back to regular life, routine really helps.(that and knowing the carb count!) Fortuently,my next a1c isn't till April so there's lots of time to undo that damage. I sure don't want an a1c in the 9's.(after making significant progress on that front)

I'm also starting on a low dose of Levothyroxine (25 mcg) to improve my TSH. My Endo was not wild about the idea,but she agreed to start it.My thyroid antibodies have gone up,my TSH is in the middle of the spectrum(still normal,but not "good") Hence the minuscule dose of (Synthroid). I need my thyroid at optimal levels. It was hard to get my Endo on board with it,she muttered uncomplimentary things under her breath(as to the overkill tactics of certain other specialties) but did agree to start it. It's not going to make me hyperthyroid, it can only help.

Have a Happy & safe New Year,all!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Elevator Shift

(this is a story of an elevator encounter of the life-altering kind)

It was his eyes that told the story. They were the sort of eyes that you could go swimming around in,lose yourself in the passage of time...and wake up to find that 20 years had gone by,unbeknownst to all involved. There was a lifetime in those eyes.(magnetizing)

It was the summer of 2003,& I (was very single & uninvolved,ok folks?) had gotten on the hospital elevator,punched my floor number,& was set to tune out the various individuals on board..for I could think of nothing else beyond my impending "Diabetes & Driving" impatient study.(involving a simulated driving game & "controlled" hypoglycemia,I would murder virtual cows right & left.)

"Are you going to the hole?"

I semi-turned, & looked at the person who had asked the question. "The Hole?"

"Yeah-admission?You look like you are." He coughed,& the spasms wracked his thin frame. It had the sounds of cystic fibrosis,of chronic disease,of a life spent in places like this against one's desire & will.

"Ah,yes,the hole. I am indeed."
(I wasn't quite sure I wanted to spill out my medical history in the very public elevator to a guy I didn't know) And did I really have "the look?" I thought PWD were not supposed to look sick. Not like I had any wires or tubes coming from random orifices on my body.(yet)

"Take my advice...don't let the residents near you,they're real bloodsuckers & can't hit a vein to save their lives."

(this advice did not seem to phase the several white coats on board,although,I laughed. Loudly.)

"Duly noted". I was looking in the eyes,& feeling sorry for the suckyness of the situation for people with such chronic diseases & lucky just to have diabetes. We were the same ages...& yet I would likely live 40 years beyond what he would. I didn't know the half of the depths of the disease & dying process. And yet,he was living with his disease in the same way millions must...most of the time,it felt like I was ignoring mine.

The elevator clanged,6th floor.

"Take care." (I felt I needed to say something) "Hope you get out of here soon."

"Yeah,same to you. Stay cool."
IV pole in hand,he took off towards the nursing station on the heart/lung floor. And I continued onto the 8th floor,where the diabetes study awaited.(it was the most grueling,most demanding study that I have ever done,& 48 hours into it my electrolytes would drop(caused by the blood-letting & insulin clamps)resulting in them dropping me from the study early. I had no complaints to that,since they were still giving me full compensation & I just wanted to go home & die quietly,it was the first time my (as yet undisclosed) Bartters Syndrome would cause a problem & it would take months of unsuccessful dosing before I would see a nephrologist,& be diagnosed. At that moment,however,6 additional hours into IV's I just wanted the Endo to let me go home.I hoped I would be ok,and I no longer felt like I was having a heart attack right there,& although still very shaky I could walk out to my car & drive so she let me go.I went home & crashed for the rest of the weekend.)

I couldn't shake the sense that not only old people die in hospitals...22 year olds did too. All. the. time. And yet,they were one heck of well-adjusted individuals...they lived their lives knowing that day was sooner,rather then later. I think most PWD think "it will never happen to me" whereas most other chronic diseases know it will happen to them.(I'm not saying diabetes is a cakewalk but compared to CF it is)

That day,I got another perspective on life with a chronic disease.(& another idea of what I wanted to do with my life,should I ever become an RN(research,peds,or a CF nurse coordinator) This day, I still want to do something along those lines...& next semester, I shall be joining those nursing student ranks.(at last) The world needs more then a few good nurses.I know what being a patient is like...& that will make me a better nurse.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

The Top Seven Holiday Gifts(for the PWD)

#1 For the Dexcom(er) (or Navigator user) in your life... I recommend one of these. You can get small camera & phone cases at any office supply store.(such as Office Depot,Staples) And I've found it to be much more useful then that generic "skin" they provide.(for the Dexcom) Yes,the skins look snazzy,but that feature really doesn't help me locate the Dex any quicker from the depths of my handbag...nor does it have a clip on the back.This does,and it's solid-does not get knocked off five seconds later.And I can find,& unzip it quickly,because it has a unique shape compared to the hundreds of other things that reside in said handbag.

#2 Music Player Cases

(looks like small backpacks)

I'm a fan of jazzed up meter cases...& these are perfect for the job,holding the meter,strips,backup vial,infusion set,syringe,roll of glucose tabs,& the Multiclix lancing device.(IMO,the greatest lancer ever,& no,I'm not being paid by Roche to say so,I am way too uncool for the likes of Roche. The Multiclix is just awesome...& better then the Delica,IMO.
These cases have several zippable compartments & a belt loop and are really quite the on-the-go accessory of the year.And I'm sure they exist in solid colors..for the male PWD in your life.


I found this ornament at CVS..& it immeadietly found a warm fuzzy spot in my heart.(& a place on our tree) Love,love,LOVE anything diet coke themed.


Cup-Cake-y lip gloss. (I prefer the CVS, or Bath and Body Works brands) So very yummy,and completely free (of the need for insulin). Of course, this often has the side effect of making one hungry for REAL cupcakes (and a trip to a real,live,cupcake establishment. More on that in a future post.) A gift card to a cupcake place is also an entirely appropriate present. (if the individual can cover such dietary excursions with insulin...I realize that not everyone who reads this is a type 1/family member of a type 1.Moderation is a must, for anyone.)

#5 If it's jewelry you're looking for,the JDRF and ADA have several new unique choices.(ideas gotten courtesy of Diabetes Living magazine)

- "Katie's Cure" (designed by a 12 year old with type 1)(Proceeds to benifit individuals living with type 2 diabetes,but that's completely beside the point) It's a very pretty design.

- JDRF charm bracelet. It would be cool if you could have the date of dx engraved on this(for $50,that should REALLY be an option)& I'm not sure I'd ever buy this,unless I had more money then I know what to do with..but I like the design.

- Diabetes Awareness bracelet. Hand engraved, in your choice of multiple diabetes sayings.($75)

- If you're looking for something much, much cheaper(and who isn't, these days) head over to the DRI & snag yourself an "I'm Tired of Diabetes" bracelet. It's made of recycled tires(environmentally friendly!) and the cost ($14.50 won't bust the bank.

-Finally, you can get an official Bret Michaels "Live to Rock, Rock to Live!" bandanna or an ID (I decide) tag from the American Diabetes Association.

The Stupid Sock Creature. (now if they would only make the Stupid Hand Creature,they'd be all set) Good for a few laughs(and endless hours of preschooler amusement)

#7 And lastly, you can get a free Bayer Contour USB meter (along with 25 strips) at Walgreens. (until 01/01/2011) Go here, print out a coupon (for $20 off) and they'll adjust it down for you (it's on sale for 9.99). Or, you can find $10 off coupons for both the USB and the Bayer Didget in their pharmacy diabetes magazines.This is not just another "free" meter offer..this is a snazzy meter( with strips), which makes it a pretty generous deal, IMO.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Twelve Years

Dear Diabetes,

Tomorrow marks 12 happy years of being joined at the hip.And like every morning since then, I've woken up,checked my blood sugar,& taken insulin. Some things blur with the passage of time.I don't remember what an 1100 blood sugar feels like but if I see or smell a Kendall brand alcohol swab my mind takes me back to that moment in a flash. No other brand but Kendall does that.It was a night of strange smells,sights,& sounds...which may well be imprinted permanently in my memory.

Like I do every year, I'm celebrating our Anniversary with great fan-fare. (I hope you don't mind if I bring along my husband) Dinner, and a movie (Voyage of the Dawn Treader)sounds like the perfect way to end the day. One thing about our D-Date,it seems to be a popular day for new movies to come out.

You and I have worked our butts off this year,& have gone from a number that was so bad I couldn't even blog about it to a most-recent 7.1.While that isn't under 7.0,it's a .8 improvement over the last time & was met by enthusiasm from our Endo & deemed acceptable enough for plans involving future offspring on this Earth.(we will keep working on said a1c,obviously) I really wish my a1c had dropped more,but it is what it is.Further testing revealed several whacked out hormones (trouble with the thyroid,yet again) & the jury's not out yet on whether I'll have to start Synthroid/ other drug.As anyone's with D who has gone this route knows, it's not just the simple matter of getting your a1c in line. But with an endocrinologist & a maternal-fetal medicine specialist working on it, I'm sure they'll get those hormones precisely where they should be.(unlike blood sugars..those levels are easier to get into line) There is much to say on this topic,but the relief of not having one's Endo stare in horror at one for even considering the thought is the victory of the moment. I have faith that it can happen.

Bring on 2011!!

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Monday, December 06, 2010

December De jour

It's that time of year again...the snow lies thick on the ground(or soon will,if it's anything like last winter), it's bitterly cold and nasty and doesn't lend well to functional toes,fingers, or glucometers. Starbucks & Swiss Miss are absolute must-have's.(yes,I drink Diet Coke year-round but in winter I need something to warm me up) And it seems that life gets even busier, as the "flurries" of day-to-day tasks cascades into a blizzard.(Look for me sometime in January,as I don't expect to be doing much blogging)

On the agenda this month:

*Aforementioned school paperwork, most of which is financial-aid/scholarship oriented. Also a CPR recertification course and yet another physical exam(does the one I JUST had in October (for my surgery) count? Of course not) which shall involve booster shots and blood titers(for every known communicable disease out there). Medical school can't involve any less paperwork.

*Changing health insurance plans.(this being that magical time of the year known as "Open Season," which, for my non-US readers is when one can switch(or get) health insurances without fault for pre-existing conditions.For an individual with a chronic disease,this is one of the few opportunities to get instant coverage. ) My husband leaves this to me, as he rarely gets sick,takes no meds,and has never had a cavity in his life.(in other words, the opposite of me) Our current plan has hit rock bottom-everything costs a ton, & injectables go completely off the formulary beginning next year. Although this is to be expected with all the recent insurance company/Obaminination changes,our particular plan has essentially doubled EVERYTHING-monster deductibles,no diabetes education coverage,etc. and the time has come to jump ship.(before we sink) I'm grateful for the choice of several options,but it will be a monumental choice as I consider what parts are vitally important to me & which parts are less so.


- diabetes supply coverage (for pump supplies,insulin,strips, and CGM) via mail order with acceptable copays.
- NO cap on the number of test strips.
- catestrophic coverage cap
-low pharmacy rx copay
-outpatient infusion services covered (this is a biggie,because if I need more magnesium infusions it is very expensive & not otherwise affordable)
-coverage of injectables (such as Symlin)
-good dental plan
-free Diabetes Education Visits
-complete lab & tests coverage

I'm very much looking at this from the diabetes point of view..I want the freedom to see my own endo and follow my own diabetes plan. Access to an educator is a must on my list,(and one that current insurance decided to stop covering completely) since few endo's have the time to work with you on the nitty-gritty, day to day stuff. I guess after all these years I should know how to get myself out of the holes I dig,but they have perspectives that I often times, don't. I live it..the questions and problems never go away,& have numbed my brain so that if the answer were right in front of me, I wouldn't be able to see it. I need the fresh perspective.
I've heard only horror stories about HMO's,and I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to go that route. Freedom in physician choosing is very important to me, and I'd rather concede on a less important point(like the amount of the copay). You have to choose the plan that makes the most sense financially. Life is about more then diabetes..surgeries,tests,random stuff comes up and those possibilities must be considered as well. Decisions, decisions.(and I can't make this one lightly)

* Getting every last RX filled before the deductable/max reset to $0 and everything costs an arm and a leg again in the New Year. (to be done, prior to switching insurances, obviously) We don't have an FSA(flexible spending) account...that's probably something I should seriously consider. Could really save money there.

*Regular Christmas-y stuff..presents to buy, foods to cook,etc. and a week long stint on the Left Coast(come December 22) to survive. I cannot say I'm looking forward to the body scanner/patdown choice.(at the airports)

*Endo appt., continued hand therapy. Things are much improved on the arm front, there's now only a small localized patch of elbow numbness,a slightly weak pinky,and pain only if I lift something heavy. The scar is even starting to fade.

So that's what on the agenda, this won't be my last post of the year,but I won't be doing very many of them. Stay warm and safe, everyone.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Envelope

I got an envelope the other day. It was gorgeously thick & screamed out "Non-Rejection" without me having to open it. But open it I did,with my heart hammering away in my ears & my stomach doing flip-flops in my esophageal tube.

Guess what. I am not "rejected" but I am also not accepted, I'm in that fuzzy grey area known as the WAIT LIST.

So I had to go to Orientation, a 3.5 hour affair which was great for everyone who made it into the Spring 2011 RN program but most disagreeable for the rest of us.You sit there,pretending you belong,but you aren't really "in." You're a wannabe who is hoping someone drops,but you still have to fill out the forms,get the all-inclusive Cootie Report filled out,CPR, and have your financial aid,etc ready to go at the drop of a hat for if someone does drop out & you could get in.

Maybe I'm at the bottom of the "wait list" & maybe I won't get in at all. I hate this not knowing.(it goes purely off GPA) It's the 5th layer of Dante's Inferno,doing all the work & still not getting in & more & more I wish they'd have just rejected me outright.People have till Jan.18 to drop the course...that's a long time to be without an answer.(Everyone who is on the list knows exactly what to plan for) I'm in a state of educational limbo(knowing that I qualify but should I just reapply? or just scrap the whole nursing idea entirely) & it's just really hard & depressing right now.

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