Monday, December 13, 2010

Damn You, Steel Magnolias

First for an Omnipod update, I can't believe I've been shot free since September! Pods are sticking to me pretty well, bloodsugars are regulating for the most part, and Peter, my PDM, has been very nice to me for the last couple of weeks. I have been seriously slacking on reporting back to my pump manager, not because of shame and dread, as I'm used to, but genuinely because I have been so busy, and have always been sort of bad at time management.My diabetes goal for the week is to upload and get in touch with MJ, my manager.

What I really wanted to talk about is Steel Magnolias. I am betting that everyone has seen this movie, from the early 90's I believe, starring, among other famous actors, Sally Fields, Dolly Parton, Dylon McDermott, and playing the character of the young Southern newlywed, baby-craving diabetic is Julia Roberts. I don't know about everyone else, but this movie just gets under my skin. I don't remember ever seeing it before I was diagnosed, but I do remember seeing it for the first time after. I was distraught for weeks, maybe even months. I still merely have to think about this movie and I want to cry. My heart doesn't just break the way it does with other sad movies, but fear slams into every inch of my consciousness. Fear over trying to have kids that I don't even want, yet. Fear over how that might affect the type of family I don't have, yet. The first time I got a low bloodsugar while I was babysitting my, at the time, newborn nephew, I was almost paralyzed with visions of Shelby (Julia's character) passed out on the porch, the stove on, the fridge door open, and her baby on the floor just wailing. My mom already gave up a kidney for her sister, my aunt, but maybe my sister would give me a kidney one day if I needed it, and it would be pointless because I might just die a year later. I have nightmares about my mother trying to wake me up from a coma I'll never come out of, exercising my legs while I'm on a ventilator, having to pull the plug because I'll never wake up from this episode. This movie was one of those things that magnified some of my harshest diabetic fears, from which, among other things, I lived in a sort of depression for so many years. One of those things that supported my decade long case of the "F*** Its," symptoms of which are not managing d, not taking insulin, eating whatever I wanted, drinking too much, drugs...etc.. Like I have said before, not all of my problems had to do with being a diabetic, but many of my fears that led me to where I was, at my breaking point, came from not understanding and not managing my diabetes.

I hate Steel Magnolias. I hate that people die of diabetes. I hate that other diabetics, young diabetics, might watch this movie and experience this same fear. I know I shouldn't watch it, but I can't rip my eyes away from it sometimes. It's so scary. It's so sad. Many things have changed since the time when this movie was made, but it still scares me. Diabetics don't die just because they don't take care of themselves or because they want to have babies, sometimes they just go low and crash their car or go low in their sleep and don't wake up.

My oldest sister and I had this one year where we were addicted to the television show Lost. I remember saying to her once, "you know, if I was in a plane that crashed on an island, I wouldn't last very long," and she said,"you know, I actually thought about that already." It made me sad, but then I felt okay about it. I'm not in this alone, you know?

Anyways, I know it doesn't have anything to do with my Omnipod, but Steel Magnolias has been a constant source of fear in my diabetic life, so I'm glad I have somewhere to vent about this. I'm glad I have a community of people with whom I can share, who understand, and who help me to not feel alone in this. I guess I'll wipe my tear streaked cheeks, dab my puffy red eyes, blow my snotty, runny nose, and get on with my happy new life with my wonderful new pump.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Even though Thanksgiving has always been a day of thanks for my family and I, I always have that carb-counting, "I shouldn't eat that" cognitive reaction to the table feast full of glorious carbohydrates. Over the last few year things that I am grateful for have definitely outweighed the headache that can become Thanksgiving dinner. The thought kind of just hit me the other day that this year one of the things that I am most grateful for is also gonna be the sweet relief to the normal stress of Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, I know, things are not so different when it comes to the carb-counting and the "I shouldn't eat that," but holidays such as the feast-filled Thanksgiving have always been one of those special days where I could eat the stuffing, the mashed potatoes and the apple pie without worrying about whether or not I should. My mom and my doctor when I was a kid made that deal with me, that I could have special days like this. It was a promise. But just because they say not to worry, but it's not that easy to turn off the d worry, even when momma says its okay. Its the little things about the Omnipod that will make this so much sweeter. If I bolus at 2, and decide I want more, I'll bonus again for my second plate. If I don't get it right the first time, I'll just hit a button, and fix it. It won't get sick of shooting up, and say "screw it" and just let myself get high, resulting in a headache and nausea for my day of thanks. My gratitude on Thanksgiving will be highlighted by my being able to willingly take care of myself and enjoy all of the festivities. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Here is a picture of my nephew checking out my pod for me, making sure its secure.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet Halloween

Okay, so to all of the parents of babies with d, I hope all of the little ones (and you all) had a Happy Halloween. When I was younger Halloween used to fill me with dread. Post-diagnoses years really tainted the holiday which used to be one of my favorites, along with Christmas with it's cookies and Thanksgiving with it's carb-filled dinners and sweet pies. In my mind, due a lot to the many voices of ignorance, diabetes meant to me "no candy, no cookies, no pies, no cake"...etc. We all know that this is not the case, simply that moderation is key; however, I'm not sure if it was just the way things were back then or merely the way my baby brain processed direction, for a ten year old, hearing "no candy" on a day where they just give the stuff away was like a dagger to the heart! My parents and my granny used to help me cheat, candy in moderation and all that. Family, friends and neighbors would buy sugar free candy just for me, bless their hearts, and give me a whole bag sometimes when I came to their door shrieking "Trick or Treat!" Of course, I would rebel and abuse Halloween when unsupervised, making myself sick with candy binges. Naturally, that didn't last very long. But the lengths that people who cared about me would go to in an attempt to make sure I felt like just another regular kid on Halloween fills me with gratitude. I didn't see it then, but these days, when the holiday season comes around, I always feel this gratitude and appreciate the holidays in a very different sense. I know there isn't a thing most parents wouldn't do to ease the pain and make my little friends with d forget their disease any day, but especially on days like Halloween. So, I wanted to thank all of you wonderful parents for doing this for your kiddos, like I know you all did. I would love to hear some of your clever ideas for special Halloween treats for your kids, too.

My Halloween was special. I stopped caring so much about candy since I started noticing that my butt gets a little bigger a lot faster, so that's not really an issue for me anymore. I dressed up as a buccaneer and went to a party to listen to my good friend and some other talented Jacksonville musicians play some dang good music. I tapped my pirate boots all night long! After that, went to a costume contest at AJ's in Jax, I didn't place, but was in Top 5. Woo-Hoo! It was actually my first costume contest since I was a pre-teen, so I feel pretty good about it. Sunday night I took my handsome 22 month-old nephew to Jacksonville Zoo's Spooktacular. He was a buccaneer, too, but looked much better then I did. He was awesome in the Haunted House paths, didn't scream, jump or cry at all! It was recommended for ages 10 and up, so I was a little nervous, but he was a pro!

I feel good about these kinds of Holidays since growing up. Glad that I'm not still haunted by bitterness for these sweets-marketed celebrations, but instead graced with gratitude. I love that so many little d buddies have friends and family out there like mine, then and now, that do their best to help us not feel like outcasts because we can't rot our teeth and gain that seasonal 10 lbs this time of year without getting sick and stressing about numbers, going blind or losing limbs. I'm so happy that I got over those feelings I associated with these awesome holidays, and I pray that your kids do, too, or better yet, never have to feel that way at all. Keep on doing what you're doing, though, because even if my young d friends do feel like this (and I have a feeling it's a little natural) they will get over it, and have such warm, loving memories on which to look back.

Happy Halloween, y'all! Looking forward to Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

All Beginnings Can Feel Strangely Similar

It has now been a month and a few days since I activated my first insulin-filled pod. My bgs are finally beginning to regulate after, I don't know, a stinking decade! For the first few weeks a.p. (After Pod) they were seriously wacky, mostly high. But at the rate I am going now, I might even have a within-range A1C next time I get my blood work-up. Just to clarify, only once since being diagnosed have I had an average A1C, and that was a result of many menacing lows. Even when I felt like I was trying my very hardest, I still only got below an A1C of 8 once in the last 14 and 1/2 years. I can't wait to find out, I would like to go to Wal Mart and get one of those instant A1C checkers for $15, or however much they are (cheap), just for my own curiosity. I've never really been tempted to do that, since I always just assumed it would be higher then I wanted it to be, as usual, which would depress me. But now, I'm excited more then I am anxious. It's gotta be a little better!

In the last month I have gone through quite a few pods needlessly. What a waste, but I am still figuring out how to wear the darn things without my active and clumsy little self knocking them right off. I think it's kind of funny that the only actual painful part of the pod is the super water proof adhesive ripping off of my flesh. Nothing else hurts, except maybe if you forget to squeeze the fat up when it's inserted near a muscle. But that's a feeling I got used to a long time ago, seeing as how I'm a muscle machine...just kidding, but it does happen even when you're not a muscle machine.

I still feel so much better since getting the pod. I felt good when I first heard about Omnipod. My journey towards getting approved for this tubeless, wireless insulin delivery system was tough, exciting, fretful and fulfilling all at the same time, and my feelings the day I activated my pod were joyous, but still unsure. It reminds me now of the feelings I had upon being diagnosed when I was ten years old. I didn't feel it to the same degree back then, what being diabetic meant for me, but I had an idea. Though I knew next to nothing about it, from the way people were acting around me and from some intuition deep inside of my gut, I knew when they told me I was diabetic that this was a big deal, that this was life-changing. Almost fifteen years later, after I put on this pod, though I knew that this was a life changer, I still didn't know what it would feel like. I still don't know fully. I'm experiencing this gradual enlightenment of the freedom that I now have without the burden of giving myself shots multiple times a day. One day I will look back and remember how I really had no idea how life changing that moment was, when I pushed the button on my PDM and activated my first pod. I will do so with the same sense of nostalgia I feel when I look back to that poor unknowing little girl trying to grasp what it meant to be diabetic, with no idea that how it feels to wake up for fifteen years knowing she would have to inject herself every time she ate so much as an apple if she wanted to be healthy. But this time I will look back with a sense of joy, at that hard working 24 y/o woman that, after years of feeling like she was walking a tightrope, had no idea what it would be like to wake up after fifteen years of life without insulin injections littered throughout her day. That day when I can look back the way I look back at diagnoses day now, except with a smile instead of tears...that will be the best part of all of this.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I had forgotten how clumsy I am until I became an Omnipod user. You know how when you have a painful scratch or bruise somewhere on your body, it seems like all of a sudden you're constantly bumping and jamming it on everything around you and in every single activity you participate in, from getting in the car to making dinner. Having a pod attached to your body, even in the most out of the way places, is kind of like that. It is frustrating. Not so much that I would think of quitting it, but still...I went camping this weekend at Roy's Hideaway in Collins, Ga., running around outdoors, playing with animals, setting up equipment on stage for my gfs band to play onsite and other fun camping stuff and didn't have any problems, but then lost a pod getting into the car the next day. Seriously? I have been trying different solutions on for size, such as patchy tape jobs and Skin Tac, but these pods are stubborn.

When I get to thinking too much (which happens often) I feel like the pods are self destructive, and just don't want a succesful working relationship with me and my d, like they just don't like me. Silly, I know. I've felt that way about my own body quite a bit over the years, that my body inside just doesn't like me. That's irrational, though. I've talked with some people, and many of them have had the same problems, and gave me some suggestions for sports sleeves for my arms and some special tape. One of these things should do the trick. My pods and I are still getting to know each other, though, and it might just take a while longer to adjust, I suppose. Hopefully, we will get along better soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

'Tis the Season

I absolutely love the fall season. In Florida, this time of year is perfect weather, with it's still warm, loving sun blessed with cool breezes after a long hot summer. I love the colors of the leaves that I sweep into piles and jump and play in as they fall from the trees. I love being able to dress up in my jeans and cute brown and orange sweaters. It's a lovely season. The hardest part about this time of year is that fall seems to be my immune systems nemisis (that is, next to it's arch rival, the very body it exists inside of). It has been a hectic couple of weeks for my body, inside and out, my emotions and my d as I still work and learn how to be a succesful pump-user.

First off, this is the time of year I usually start getting sick. Every year, it seems that I catch some cold, flu or other virus that seems to stay with me all through the winter, in some form or other. This has been going on for many years, though I get a break every once in a while, and I've kind of gotten used to it. It still sucks when that time of year comes around, however. Two Fridays ago, I discovered that I had an abcess/ staff infection near to a "red zone" area that needed to be drained. If your not familiar with the red zone, just take a moment to imagine the place on your body it would suck the most to have an abcess...yeah, that one...mine was about four inches down on my leg from there. The lancing was awful, painful and disgusting. This is my third skin infection, the first being a large abcess on my hip after getting a tattoo, the second being on my ear after having the middle cartilage pierced, which concluded only after a piece of my right ear was removed. I still feel like Sloth from the Goonies sometimes. "Hey you guu-uuys...Baby Ruth..." I decided to give up on piercings after that. Not sure how this new one came about, really, but I'm also trying my best not to think about it. Needless to say, the weekend I had planned to spend with my new gf was kind of a bust. But that's ok. I had packing in for a few days, and was told to take it out myself at home in the shower. I took two loritabs before hand because I really hate pain. I got in the shower, and ran the water as hot as I could stand it. I was told to cough and pull out the packing. I didn't realize the packing stuffed in there was as long as my leg until I coughed, pulled, and there was still some inside of my leg. So it took a few more coughs for me to get it all out, and the prolonged forced coughing caused me to gag and regurgitate. Lovely, right? Anyways, double antibiotics and some steroid cream, and its already becoming just another diabetic scar.

However, a couple of days later, I found myself with the beginning of some kind of nasty sinus issue. I am prone to sinus infections, but I hope it hasn't gotten that far. Crazy congestion, ear aches, off-and-on again slight fever, chest-caving-in coughing and drainage...that kind of stuff. Every year! It's lame. But I'm staying hydrated, doing some breathing exercises, and trying not to think about it. I think it's getting better. Spent the weekend outside in fresh air at Jacksonville's River City Pride Festival playing roadie for my gf's band, and selling jewelry, which was awesome. I think fresh air definately helped.

Naturally, all of this yucky stuff has been affecting my bgs negatively. Running high, working to find a good sick day basal, overcorrecting, dangerous lows. Got the oppurtunity to show my gf and her roommates what a nasty low looks like, so embarassing! No matter how long I have to deal with this stuff, I still get so sick and kind of ashamed of having to tell people, "If this happens, I'm going to need help taking care of it." The behavior that comes along with a bad low is still so embarrasing: crying, making funny faces because my face and tongue go numb, shaking violently, sometimes acting defiant when people are trying to help me, while I'm in a drunk-like confused stupor. It's hard for someone like me to have to rely on people in the first place, for anything. I hate putting that kind of pressure on my family who have been with me since the beginning of this mess, so putting it on new friends feels like I'm being such a burden. In a new dating relationship it feels even worse. "I know we've only been dating a few months, but I just wanted to tell you, I might start crying, sticking my tongue out at you, then pass out at the weirdest, sometimes, most unprovoked moments and I expect you to learn and know how to inject a glucagon shot and save my life." I know that's extreme, but that's how it feels.

Oh, goodness, listen to me ramble! Quickly now, to the point. Despite being sick, I've been managing my sugars pretty well, checking a little more often. I'm getting tighter on my basal rate. Having trouble with pod placement still, clumsily knocking two off in the past two weeks. Discovered one pod that had a leak, thought I was experiencing illness-related highs until I gave a large bolus and smelled insulin. It all still feels very much worth it, though, so LIFE IS GOOD! I'll feel better as soon as I can get into those jeans and sweaters, and maybe even some boots. 'Tis the Season!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stuck On You

I had the strangest sensation the other day. It was a pod change day, and I was trying to decide where to put it next. I went through the list of where I've had it before, weighing the pros and the cons of each. On the back of my arms I hit it often while driving, and walking close to walls and doors (I'm already a little clumsy), and on my stomach I always knock it around when I'm reaching for things in cabinets or doing dishes (which happens a lot, I'm only 4'11"). Because of my social calender this month (sort of on vacation from the hospital) certain placements would make it difficult to wear the clothes (tight) I would like to wear, like on my tummy (I look like I have a hernia) or my thighs. As I was going through my next pod placement, taking these things into consideration, like a static shock it hit me...
SERIOUSLY! These are my issues right now? How my pod placement affects my party wear? These are not the type of things I would have thought to worry about as a needle diabetic.
Of course, I still stress the bgs I haven't been able to get in range yet since starting Omnipod, but I'm not as stressed about it because I know it's coming as long as I keep working with my coach on it. I know this system works, where as I never had faith in trying to control it with the blanket sliding scale system I used with Novolog and flat rate Lantus injections. I can already see positive results reflected in all that Omnipod, and Insulet Corporation for that matter, has to offer.
Either way, I feel the need to point out, to myself more than anyone, that I know somewhat the nature of the d after nearly 15 years, and I know not to have the expectation of complete control. This stuff will always vary from day to day. I have days where stress alone raises my bgs. Things like where I choose to work out (outside or in), taking my nephew to daycare or keeping him home, a night spent emptying urinals and taking vitals versus a night of pre-op prep and turning patients at work or a day spent cleaning instead of a day of paying bills (or spent on the phone trying to avoid them, that is). Everything is a variable, and the numbers prove it. The only way to control this is to not let the swings (in moods and numbers) of one day affect the care and the hard work put into it the next day. To not let the confusion and discomfort caused by the d make you lose faith in all of the dedication put forth in order to achieve a long, happy, healthy and untormented life. Because that is what happens when you lose hope of a succesful diabetic lifestyle and let the d control you, you are tormented every day.