Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Surgery, A Rice-ectomy & The Diabetes Transplant Summit

It went exceptionally well. Although my blood sugar was not well behaved in the least(the instant I rolled out of bed @4:30 am, it began to skyrocket) 165 at 5 am,and 265 2.5 hours later when the nurse took it.

I was the first patient of the as soon as they got me back there, changed,and an IV in, it was a whirlwind of anesthesiologist/nurse/surgeon & it seemed like no time at all that they were all ready. I really wasn't(as evidenced by my blood sugar-gave a several unit correction & cued the anesthesiologist that this sort of excursion was normal for someone who was nervous. I get like that prior to any sort of "nock out" procedure. And I know that sounds stupid,but that's how I am. The dude in the other unit(2nd patient of the day) was not anxious in the least.(I envied his nonchalance) I didn't like the blood sugar,but there's really not much you can do about something(hardcore correction) w/out flirting with hypoglycemia.(they were perfectly ok with it) My sole request,was for a hearty dose of anti-nausea meds,I wasn't worried that worried about the pain.(they did a nerve block & a pain med so I knew it wouldn't wear off for awhile)But I have learned that anytime I go under,there will always be nausea (waiting for me) when I wake up. The anesthesiologist (who caters to cowards) was very accommodating in that last request. Nothing was going to make me any less nervous,but at least the atmosphere was very upbeat.

And just like that,I was waking up from a dreamless dream (some 2 hours later),arm almost completely encased in white plaster at a 90 degree angle. There was no pain, or nausea(much to my surprise) just that fuzzy headed disorientation that takes some time to go away.

Blood Sugar: 276. Happy day in the morning. I corrected(one handed),& discovered just how hard it is to check your blood sugar with one hand.(I use the Multiclix,so I had to cock first,& attempt to hit my pinkie as I pushed down with the thumb) Sat up,getting acclimated to the thought of going home & got hit by a horrible wave of nausea & started dry retching. The nurse got me a smelling salt/nausea killer sort of thing, which smelled really horrible but did indeed knock that nausea into submission. Tried again 15 minutes later to sit up & was fine. The nurse also gave me some alcohol swabs(I never knew that those were nausea busters), RX's,and then the husband drove me home. Nerve block wore off about 5 hours later but I still was not in any great pain. More then anything, it itched.(the crazy,rip your skin to shreds itch) My mom helped out that first day.

The next morning, I dumped my glass of water into the cabinet drawer, flooding my iphone in the process. As soon as that registered,I grabbed it out, attempted to dry it off,& did an emergency Rice-ectomy (container,cover iphone with rice, leave for 24 hours) not knowing if it was truly the end for my phone or not.

That evening,I stuffed my arm in a sling & husband & I went to The Diabetes Transplant Summit. And there's not really much I can add to that(Kathy has said it all) but it was a very interesting experience. One of the participants made a statement that really stuck in my head,and that was "Good control doesn't do you any good if you're dead." Hypoglycemia is a very serious problem..& kills people every year.(how many,I'm not sure,but even if it were just 1 death that is a tragedy)
For these people, hypos were constant, severe, and life threatening. Every single day they dealt with that reality. They had the transplant(s) to fix that particular issue...not very many of them had secondary complications from diabetes. (although that can be another reason for having a transplant) One of them, Gary Kleiman, has been on immunosuppressents more then half his life(he had a kidney transplant in his 20's) For them,having to take immunosuppressents was an acceptable trade-off. None of them has to worry about severe hypoglycemia..even the ones who have to take small doses of supplemental insulin.(over time, the islet's die) And I must agree,if I were in such a situation I would take life w/immunosuppressents over no life at all. I think everyone who goes into those transplants is absolutely informed about the risks they're taking..but the bigger risk is not having the transplant. And I respect their choice,& the courage it takes to do that.

They are working on raising genetically "pure" pigs, for (future) large scale porcine islet harvesting. Of course,this is all stuff for the future...but it's a fascinating concept (pig islets & some sort of localized immunosuppression=possible cure?)

By the end of all that,I really wanted to go home,take painkillers, and not go to any more social events for the next week. It was exhausting,but events like this only come around once in a blue moon...& I'm glad I went.

(the next morning,my iphone powered right it all ended well)

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Little Chevy That Could

This is Nugget.

Nugget is my 3rd vehicle, the last two having met unfortunate ends involving collisions & ex-cops & Northern Virginia intersections.Nugget is a product of the 20th century...they don't make Chevy Cavaliers anymore.(I've had several interesting run-in's with fellow Chevy Cavalier owners,they absolutely loved theirs.Apparently,it's a sub-culture..much like the DOC.And I do love my car,but it is a very basic car & it's racking up the miles..doesn't have as much gumph as it had in 2005.So,when it does quit,I have no problem moving on,and getting something from the 21st century.Technology is not a bad thing.)
And I believe I have matured, (in matters pertaining to vehicular operation)for Nugget is definatly the longest lived vehicle in the lineup. It was a Christmas Eve(make a rapid decision NOW) sort of deal,required by the family members tired of carting me around on a regular basis.


It was a chilly November night,(about 2.5 weeks ago)& I'd had a long day(making the 4 hour trip down to Virginia to complete the research study). Spent several hours at the research study,went to a buffet & stuffed my face with everything I probably shouldn't,bought a gift for our 3rd wedding anniversary(and gotten carded for the first time in my life,which was very annoying.Worse then that-I asked the cashier if she needed to see some ID and she declined. So long, golden 20's) and was headed across the mountain to spend the night at brother #2's house (brother #1's kid had the plague).

Before doing so, I filled up the gas tank(for the 2nd time that day)& hoped the compensation would be quick in coming..for I'd spent a small fortune in gas from all those trips. And yes-it was absolutely worth it(free strips,pods,etc.)but if they didn't have both monetary & supply distribution it may not have been. Research studies can be educational, but they can also be a pain in the butt.(4 times down there=stick a fork in me, I'm done)

It was about half way up said mountain, as Nugget huffed and puffed away like the little engine that could, when it happened.


Instinctively,my foot let off the accelerator,my eyes closed, and my body tensed
as I waited for 60 mph-flesh-on-metal-contact as a large buck glided strong,gracefully,purposefully, right in front of my vehicle.There was no time to hit the brakes or went that quickly. It was like one of those Kodak moments-where the subject has just woken up,and the flash goes off right in their startled eyes.

Several heart-stopping seconds later, when there was no consequent cascade of deer vs car vs airbag vs chest vs flying off road, I opened my eyes. Apparently, large deer had successfully missed my car (and the one slightly behind, in the other lane) and made it to the median strip of the interstate. It took me awhile to truly relax after that,for I thought my car was a goner. I've hit small rodents before (NOT on purpose) but its the first time a deer jumped in front of my car. And I know its a common problem...the sides of the road have alot of dead animals this time of the year.

I'm just grateful nothing happened,for that deer was huge & absolutely would have totaled my car.Nugget lived, to run another day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ten Days

It's unbelievably great to finally NOT have a full arm cast on my arm.Its stiff,sore,numb,and looks like a staple gun went to town from my wrist past the elbow but the surgeon says its progressing well.Therapy starts next week. (it may take months to fully regain function)
(before picture)

Dr.Hand: Any questions?

Me: Can I blog now?

Dr.Hand: As long as you keep it light, don't over do it.

Me: Ok.

Man I've missed blogging.(had to get that out)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

SIX things (#Dblog Day)

Hey, there.

Don't hit the back button just yet...I'm here to let you in on SIX earth-shattering revolutions about diabetes. Things you may not have known,but things you NEED to know because by 2050 you may be one of the "1 in 3" Americans who has type 2 diabetes. Or perhaps, you may be 1 of the billions elsewhere..diabetes is by no means limited to the North American population. The fact is, it's sweeping the globe,and if we don't get some answers soon both types will continue to wreak damage and destruction in their path. Most of my tidbits will be from a type 1 perspective, but the types have more in common then they have apart. (I feel...type 2 ain't no cakewalk either)

#1 This insulin pump is not an "intelligent" system. Far from it, I have highs,I have lows, I still have to feed my glucose meter blood 7-10 times a day & for the trouble,I get a so-so a1c. Diabetes is difficult 24/7/365. Diabetes sucks, even when it doesn't. A pancreas is a difficult organ to mimic.(In my opinion,the most difficult) And everyone's needs are's all trial & error.

#2 Don't go it alone. The Diabetes Online Community is a support group wherever you are..places like TuDiabetes,Diabetes Daily,and Children with Diabetes Forums. You may feel like you know everything there is to know (and are a rock unto yourself), but take it from the introvert,you NEED support.(in one way or another,be from spouse/family/friends/other)And only other people with diabetes(or parents) truly get what you're really going through. You never realize just how much you needed it until you find it.(and then it's like,where has this been all my D-life!!!?)

#3 Ingested sugar will not kill you. Elevated blood sugars are what leads to complications...if you have type 1 diabetes,you cover that dessert with insulin,and if you have type 2 diabetes,you follow your health care provider's recommendations. I often have the exact opposite problem..I'll overbolus,& end up low, trying to avoid the high. It really bugs me when people don't realize that practically EVERYTHING has carbohydrates in it yet feed me the sweet potatoes when I'd rather have the brownie because it's a "vegetable" & must therefore be safe. Really,really, bugs me.

#4 Diabetes is Expensive. Even if you have insurance,they may not cover much,and if you don't have insurance,you probably don't
have the means to do more then stay alive. 1 bottle of fast acting insulin is now well over $100..pump supplies run hundreds of dollars per month,test strips soar into the upper stratosphere (despite not improving in accuracy),the costs of CGM'ing are over $300/month,(without insurance)
doctor bills,lab fees,other meds, the list goes on. And all of this is still cheaper then not taking care of the diabetes & developing complications. Something needs to be done to make it less expensive.(what, I don't know,I don't favor gov't takeover but how can you curb an epidemic if people can't even afford to treat their disease?)

#5 Insulin is not evil. Insulin is not bad. Insulin is not "a failure." Insulin is perfectly natural,non-D's produce sufficient amounts of it but if you have diabetes,you must inject it. (in one way or another) Insulin will not cause you to go blind, lose your toes,require kidney dialysis-improper management/cumulative effects of diabetes will do that. And I will guarantee you that there are many individuals(who have been on insulin for eons) who are happy,healthy,and have all their toes. Insulin is life,and we all need it.

#6 All types of diabetes need to be taken seriously. Any elevated blood sugar is a blood sugar that is going to cause damage,down the road.Type 2 diabetes is progressive,& often has co-morbiditating factors irritated by higher blood sugars. Whatever type you have,you must do your best to manage/control it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


(from the poem archives, dated December 6,2001. I thought it would be appropriate for National Diabetes Month)


Last night I dreamed there was a cure
And folks were lined up at the door
This cure was real, there were no pills
No side effects, no doctor bills.

One shot, forever free to be
From this dreaded thing they call the D
Islet cells, that won't die off
Each time I get a stupid cough.

The freedom was a sight to see
The joy was real, unbridled, free
We chucked our meters,took a bite
This food would not cost us our sight.


Nine more years have come and gone
Since yesteryear's whisimcal song
We're waiting still, who knows how long
It's all so very,very wrong.

(it's weird how fast time passes when one is waiting on a cure. I'm sure that fifteen years from now,I'll be looking back at 2010 (in much the same light-like,whoa, those were the dark ages of D-care) & there still won't be a cure. Which I'm expecting,but it doesn't mean that I don't want one,bad)

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Lot to SAE

Sarah, over at Sugabetic has designed an awesome logo that very much represents what National Diabetes Month is all about.

I'm aware that my advocacy efforts will not go very far this year. And I can't do NaPoBloMo (for what would have been the third year running). My education will be limited to direct contact (i.e."Do not touch the pump. Do NOT touch the pump.")with health care providers.

In the works for November: (D-related)

November 3: DSMA. (Twitter chat)

November 5-6: Research study ends.(for now) Return (crappy Dexcom)equipment,fill out forms, participate in focus group. I really,really,really need the break. It's just been one disaster after the next lately,on every front. I really need to unload everything bothering me (equipment failures,communication failures,algorithmic failures) and get back on track. It's one thing when it works,its another,when it doesn't.

November 9: National D-Blog Day.

November 10: THIRD ANNIVERSARY.(actually,the have-surgery-on-your-arm-day) Will move the actual celebration of said day to the 8th,or 9th)

November 11- Diabetes Transplant Summit. I am really,really, really hoping to attend this, but I'm not going to assume that everything is going to be hunky-dory enough to do so. But at least the husband would drive me..if we choose to go.

November 14- The Big Blue Test. I shall move my pinkie finger up and down for 14 minutes,and then test my blood sugar.(in honor of the concept,and not being able to do any more then that)Which will probably make my blood sugar go up,not down,but last year's 35 minute sweat-a-thon had the same yeah,it's not about the blood sugar,it's about the education.

November 1-November 30 Have the best control a1c looms mid-December,& it takes hard core committal to bring about real change in an a1c. If you want it,its absolutely about those overnights and post-meals & pre-meals. Deciding to get serious about control (1-2 weeks pre-appointment) does not work. (been there, done that)