What My First 72 Hours of CGM Was Like

CGM Diabetes Thoughts

It takes insulin awhile to get going.

With the CGM alongside, I now understand the speed at which insulin operates. Yesterday evening, my glucose trended up towards 200. I corrected with a unit of insulin. At the moment, I was attempting to study, which invariably leads to a search for any excuse not to study. Insert CGM. I kept looking to see if the insulin was working. It didn’t initially. Fifteen minutes later, I could see the readings crest and begin trending downwards. This is the indicator to stop giving insulin unless you enjoy being low, or well… crazy. Continue reading

Tuesday Topic: Just Another Diabetes Stem Cell Announcement? No.

Diabetes Stem Cell Research

I received the Type 1 diagnosis 15 years ago. Since, announcements about an artificial pancreas, pancreas transplants, and various stem cell developments, have disappointed. I understand that these have all been important developments. I get that we’re getting somewhere. Yes, the future is bright. How about today? Still filled with diabetes. It’s been easier to casually follow the research without getting invested, attempting to appreciate what’s happening in research. Continue reading

5 Ways to Back Off the “High” Cliff

Walking off the "High" blood sugar cliff

High blood sugar sucks. Really though, it changes who you are. You become angrier. Patience has no meaning anymore. The idea of a nap rules over everything else in the world. Things that you love, my example would be cycling, sound detestable. Someone could ask me to go cycling and I’d want to respond with “I hate bicycles!”.

Okay, I know you get it. So how do we still function as human beings while high? I have a few hacks that I’ve learned via trial by fire over the 15 #blessed years of my life:

1) Repeat “Life is impermanent. How you feel now, will soon change.”

– Just reminding myself that all will be okay again is reassuring. It’s easy for us to believe that our current struggle will last forever but it’s just not reality. It always gets better. Continue reading

Thriller Alarm Clock

Thriller Alarm Clock

I spent 12 days in Children’s Hospital and was lucky to have met a few fellow sick kids.  One in particular humbles me to this day.  John woke up every morning and blasted Thriller on his record player.  I didn’t mind waking up to that song, but God it was early.  John was a permanent resident because his parents abandoned him due to his condition and insane medical bills.  I am not sure how long he had been there, but his room was a bedroom, not a hospital room and the nurses treated him like a son.

I have no idea what was wrong with him, but he was in a wheelchair and had a number of tubes coming out of every part of this body.  I was pissed about the one IV – ridiculous.  I couldn’t help staring at the hole in his neck and he explained at some point in me stalking him that it was the only way he could breath. The tube and the snotty nose were pretty appalling, but it didn’t keep me from visiting him every day. Continue reading

Zen and the Art of Diabetes Management, Part I

Zen and the Art of Diabetes Management

I’ll admit that I could be more without diabetes. Not acknowledging that, to be blunt, is ignorant. Don’t mistake me, I subscribe to the power of positive thinking, knowing that it improves the quality of each moment. However, I will not use that methodology to convince myself that my life is better with the disease.

Diabetes is a grind, never ceasing. Yet, it’s forged who we are. Most of us will give it responsibility for great things in our lives. Still though, deep down, on occasion or daily, we ask the question, “Could we be more without it?” Being content knowing that we could, that’s the Zen in diabetes. Continue reading

Walgreens Worked a Wonder

Insulin at the pharmacy

No, I have not been paid off. No, I am not in the pockets of big pharma. No, I do not purchase all prescriptions from Walgreens. Yet, my perspective on pharmacy refills took a turn for the grateful last week with the singular effort of one pharmacist.

In accordance with a common theme, I was looking to pickup a prescription right as I need it. Picking up a prescription early has never crossed my mind. Due to some insulin resistance from scar tissue (referenced here), I made the switch back to the pens (Lantus and Novolog). When I called Walgreens expecting it to be ready within the next hour, relayed to me was the news that each prescription would be costing $150 under my coverage (BCBS Oklahoma under HealthCare.gov). Continue reading

How Going Vegan Changed My Type 1 Diabetic Life

Vegan Type 1 Diabetes

In one year, my life with type 1 diabetes changed in ways I never thought possible.

After 12 months of eating a plant-based diet, my insulin needs decreased by 50%. As a 24 year old with Type 1 diabetes, I injected on average 60 units of insulin per day. Now at 25, I dial up 30 units per day. While defying conventional wisdom, I achieved these results while doubling my carbohydrate intake – effectively increasing carbohydrate consumption from 100 to 200 grams per day.

For those not familiar with Type 1 diabetes, let me clarify. People with Type 1 diabetes make no insulin. Every carbohydrate I eat is compensated for with insulin. We with diabetes do not know why our pancreas went on permanent vacation, but it did. I can exercise, eat right, and meditate until the proverbial cows come home, and I will still be using insulin.

How then, can we explain that I am eating more carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes) but taking less insulin? Continue reading

Tuesday Topic: Medical Research Donations vs. Deaths

Fundraising ChartI came across a recent article, The Truth About the Ice Bucket Challenge by VOX.com, that sparked a bit of anger.  As someone in the non-profit world, charitable gifts are a HUGE component to the success of your organization or cause, and in my industry we have to be transparent as to what the donation will be used for (capital improvements, programming, general operation expenses, etc).  The recent ALS challenge and the statistics from this article brought that gut wrenching question to the surface – where is this money going?  Will it focus on finding a cure or just advancing methods/medications to treat the disease.  Both are very important, but my blood begins to boil knowing that a few companies actually benefit from the focus being on medications instead of a cure.   Continue reading

Do You Suffer In Silence?

Since my diagnosis date, I only recall a handful of occasions when I’ve actually addressed my thoughts about having diabetes. I’ve allowed my anger to surface when an uncomfortable situation personally or professionally reared it’s head. I knew it was 100% this damn disease – BUT I never shared my inner thoughts and consumed myself with anxiety and hate. I’ve always been amazed that my physicians could break down the chemistry of my very being (carb ratios, correction factor, etc), but my mental state was never even brought up. No one ever told me it was okay to be angry!

Angry Woman

As an adult, I choose to address the dark rooted fears and feelings of utter universal defeat. I had allowed the negative thoughts and energy to fester, effecting every part of my life. One day when I have the courage, I’ll write about the moments that broke me and allowed me cry in the dark – wondering… WHY ME? The Diabetes Daily Grind has fueled my desire to address my feelings. I hope our stories will help you reach a new level of self acceptance.

When the negative thoughts try to creep in, I do my best to face them by practicing the following: Continue reading

When All Trust is Gone

When Trust is Gone - Diabetes Management

Sometimes, in lieu of a cure, all diabetics want is consistency—a simple assurance that when we go to bed and our blood sugar is 130, we will wake to a number in the 100s. A hope that when we eat the same breakfast each morning, take the same insulin amount, and control all other meaningful factors, our blood sugar will react similarly day-to-day. What happens when that doesn’t happen? What happens when you eat that same breakfast you’ve always ate, take the same insulin, and your sugar is at 320? Continue reading

Fellow Grinder – Meet a T2D Who Flipped the Switch

The DDG wants to share the stories of fellow diabetic warriors.  Meet John B., a Type 2 diabetic who used the diagnosis as a catalyst to transform his life.

DDG: Dude, what are you all about?
JB: I have type 2 diabetes. It is a disease of choice and I choose not to live with the symptoms anymore. I will work hard, play outside in God’s playground, be present and I choose life! That is what I’m about.

DDG: Tell us about your diagnosis day.    

JB: I was diagnosed November 30, 2011.  I hadn’t been feeling well and I suspected diabetes, so I went in for some blood work.  Dr. Ratliff called to tell me that my A1c was critically high and my blood sugar was 434.  I have Type 2 diabetes and had apparently had it for quite some time. That was the most important date in my life because it allowed me to move forward with purpose, and live my life by my rules. I just had to learn what those rules would be.  I decided the minute I hung-up the phone that I was going to live, not only live, I was going to thrive!   As Andy Dufresne (Shawshank Redemption) said,  “Get busy living, or get busy dying”. Continue reading

Tuesday Topic: Putting Stem Cells In My Body?

thought bubble

Viacyte, a San Diego based regenerative health/drug company, set off ripples of hope and relief in the diabetes community.  We’ve been dreaming of drinking coffee without blood sugar spikes, running an hour without being low for the next hour, and not having to smother my pump’s low battery alarm during meetings.

Here’s a quick review of the announcement—Viacyte is moving forward with an application, to the FDA, to initiate Phase I/II clinical trials in Type 1 diabetes patients.  They’re testing safety and efficacy of an implantable device that secretes insulin through enclosed stem cells, turned to pancreatic beta cells, effectively removing the need for diabetics to take insulin.  Found on Viacyte’s website, here’s their grandiose take on the product’s possibilities:

“In short, ViaCyte’s VC-01 combination product has the potential to transform the way diabetes care is managed. The product could be a virtual cure for type 1 diabetes and an important new therapy for insulin-requiring type 2 diabetes.”

VC-01-cross-section-5 Continue reading

Running a Marathon with Type 1 Diabetes

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June marked the 2nd marathon I’ve run in two months. I don’t feel special, nor am I dawning a 26.2 sticker on my car. I run because I find that running is good for the soul. Nevertheless, I hope through sharing a few training tips and race tricks I can inspire more people with diabetes to lace ‘em up.

Training Breakdown

Here’s how the average training week looked over the previous three months:

M – Off
T – 6 miles (Some kind of interval training)
W – Cross Training (Yoga, cycling, etc.)
Th – 6 miles (Ran at marathon race pace)
F – Off
Sa – 4 miles (10K pace)
Su – 10 to 20 miles (15-30 seconds slower than marathon pace)
Continue reading

Never Say These 5 Things to a Type 1 Diabetic

diabetes spelled in sugar cubes

1) Test your blood sugar
– This is sure to incite anger. Who do you think you are? I know where my blood sugar’s at! Undoubtedly, each time someone asks you about your blood sugar, it’s always low.

2) You got diabetes because you ate too much candy as a kid, huh?
– NO!!!!!!!! I have no idea how I got this disease. My parents didn’t even have candy in the house! Continue reading

A Diabetic Night Out – Part I

GREER INEZ-1142

Saturday nights can take one of two paths. Path number one is the relaxed, free-flowing night – most likely a result of people not going out the night before. Path number two is the forced and tired means of searching for something night – a result of either going out the night before, a grinding week in the office, or a low blood sugar… Continue reading

The Big “C”

Chemotherapy

So my dad was recently diagnosed with cancer.  Don’t get me wrong, cancer is a total nightmare, but balancing all of his other medical conditions and medications has presented quite the challenge for my mother and his team of doctors.  He is a Type 2 diabetic, has high blood pressure, heart problems…and the list goes on and on.  After a solid month of dentists and small surgeries, he was cleared to begin a radiation – chemo combo. Continue reading

The Middle Zone (70-90)

It haunts us. It’s almost indescribable but you know the feeling. Described as anxiety, lack of focus, restlessness, or the time when you act like a person you aren’t. It doesn’t happen when you’re blood sugar’s high. It doesn’t happen when you’re blood sugar’s low. It strikes when your blood sugar is in the twilight zone: 70-90.

We know the signs of being high – foggy eyes, agitation, thirst, etc. We know the signs of being low – nonsensical hunger, dizziness, fatigue, etc. In the twilight zone, it’s really hard to recognize any signs. It isn’t a physical sensation except for perhaps a faster heart rate. Particularly, it’s purely mental, the inability to control your thoughts. Allow a monk on a mountainside in Tibet thirty minutes in the middle zone and he’ll never be the same. Continue reading

The Perfect World: Counting Carbs

Count your carbs – take your insulin. This is the mirage we chase tirelessly every day.

Here’s how the situation usually places out. Tuesday I wake up and my blood sugar is say 80. Not where I like to wake up but not a low blood sugar that slows down my mind all morning. I make a blueberry banana smoothie with a scoop of protein powder. Looking at bolusing for about 45-50 carbs by my count. I send 3 units in through the pump. Feel great all morning. Blood sugar looks good at lunch. I OWN THIS DISEASE!

Flash forward to Wednesday. I wake up. Make the exact same smoothie. Blood sugar is at 123 this time. Given the higher blood sugar, I take 3.5 units of insulin. By 9AM, in mid-lesson, I feel that wave of anxiety and insecurity move through me. Words and coherent thought escape me. You guys know how that sweat feels. Here we go – blood sugar is at 70. What just happened? Continue reading

The Cortisol Conundrum

Before high school football games, my blood sugar was manic – 110 during warm-ups and then 315 by gametime (I used to pee at least 10 times in the two hours before a game. Great for in-game hydration). Intuitively, I knew stress/adrenaline/anxiety/excitement was responsible, but honestly I just read the number and reacted as best I could. Physicians would always mention adrenaline as the culprit. Was I ever given resources to reign in my excitement? Not exactly.

When I began taking medical school prerequisite courses in college, the dots connected. Cortisol is the X factor of diabetes management. Responsible for the random highs. Responsible for the sugar issues with the flu. Responsible for the elevated sugars before the big presentation.Responsible for elevated sugar after your cup of coffee.Responsible for the 300 number after a two hour run. Continue reading

Cheez-It Trauma

Cheez-It

I believe I was in the 4th grade and had a pretty good handle on what was expected in this new life with diabetes.  I kept Cheez-It’s in my desk and a secret stash of graham crackers in the office.  Cheez-It’s were for my afternoon snack and the grahams were to be eaten before PE or in an emergency.  I tried to keep these things on the “down-low” because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

Well – word got out that I had snacks in my desk.  The class bully/jackass, Blaine, made it a point to bring this to everyone’s attention. I was humiliated. The teacher figured out what was going on and quickly shut down the hurtful comments. Later that day or maybe later that week, I chose to no longer be embarrassed about my snacks. Continue reading