Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas to me: Dexcom

It's the holidays. It's the time of year that people with diabetes sometimes just say shag it and bolus and bolus and bolus, and sometimes forget if they had bolused and bolus again. There's treats and candy and chocolate everywhere, there are potluck meals with endless carbs and fats that last for hours, there's sleeping in and staying up late...and for those who partake there's alcohol.

So, naturally my new (to me) Dexcom 7+ system arrived on Christmas Eve. I was excited. I am a huge tech geek when it comes to diabetes management, and any thing that can give me more data to try and manage the better. 

I also haven't written much about it, but I have been having some pretty bad night time lows for the past 8 months. It seems any minor adjustments for my night time basals were fruitless...if I wasn't low I was running pretty high in the low teens (around 200s). So I started getting up 2-3 times a night to check and either treat a low or high. I don't remember one night in the past 6-8 months waking up to test and seeing a number I didn't either have to eat for or adjust a correction/basal increase for. And let me tell you, trying to figure out how much of a percentage to increase a basal for at 13.4 at 3:30 am when you have to be up at 6 and refreshed enough to drive 40 km to work....it's hard. I missed the mark a lot. I would wake up at 2.0 some days, and 15.4 the others. It felt like no matter what adjustments I made were fruitless. I called for an appointment to my endocrinologist and CDE in June and was told I would get an appointment in the mail. Which I did.....for April 2013.

The wacky night time sugars usually evened off by 10 am and I would run around 6.0 all day, which was great until I was going to bed again. I started to get kind of edgy internally at night. I hated having to check in the dark, and even more I hated eating in the middle of the night. That's so many calories I just didn't have the opportunity to burn off which could have lead to weight gain. It didn't, I didn't lose a pound despite my efforts....but I definitely didn't gain. Math was never my strong suit but the last 8 months have definitely improved that with having to guess as how much my temp basal would lower me by what percentage at what time.

Anyway, I put a call out on twitter for a Dexcom 7+. I offered to pay a small amount for someones used Dexcom and a few sensors. Within an hour I had given my address to a very special friend for her system and another offered to send me a sensor.  So as of now I have three sensors and the system. I do need more sensors but for the time being this should give me about a month to adjust and sleep a little more soundly.

Note: I am still looking for sensors, if you or someone you know would like to sell me some at a small price please let me know.


Anyway, here is my first 24 hours with a Dexcom:

Um yeah. I was advised to wait until after the holidays to start, however my Christmas was extremely low key this year. No alcohol, not a whole lot of treats, I spent most of yesterday (blissfully) alone with my dog, we even went for a hike in the woods, cooked a low key dinner and enjoyed opening presents with Todd in the evening. In a word: It was fabulous. In another word it was typical for me. So yes, if I had family gatherings, a big party, lots of food to snack on...I probably would have waited, but yesterday's only difference was there was a blissful gift exchange and an extra set of foot rubs for.

The first night (Christmas eve) was awful. I had 4 low blood sugars and two more alarms for double down arrows. It was exactly what I needed to start. Yesterday morning I adjusted my night time basals according to the handy graph. So last night....well you can see last night...that's the giant clump that's hovering between 220 (12.2) and 300 (16.6). So I needed a site change and will try some basals out tonight.

The biggest thing this has done for me is provided me peace of mind. I now have warnings for my lows any time. Before I usually would start to feel a low around 2.5 and I would feel incredibly high at 8.5. So I can start to get in touch with what my lows feel like as they approach and same with my highs.

It will take some tweaking and adjusting but there was absolutely no better way to spend my Christmas. I am so happy to have a bit of peace of mind.

I will update maybe in a week or so on my progress, but for now: let the addiction to the data begin.

Also: Merry Christmas if you celebrate :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 in diabetes. It was a big one.

This year.

This year has been a year filled with defining who I am.

When you live with a chronic illness that is often seen in the public eye as something you have created, when you live being overweight no matter what you do to change that, when you live with people in your life who point these things out to you regularly it can be easy to start to believe what you see and hear.

For years of my life I always thought that I just wasn't doing enough to lose weight or control my diabetes. I was always made to believe that no matter what my effort was, it wasn't enough and I was doing it wrong.

What people who are outside of diabetes (no matter the type) don't know, what people who are outside of being overweight don't know, is that it just isn't their place unless they are part of the patients medical team.

In April, I decided I was going to change how I saw the world. It sounds lofty and like the words of a daydreamer, but there was a moment in time where I said this is it, this is me and I am who I am. Nobody from that point on could make me feel like any less of a person because of how I appeared to them or how they were going to view me due to my diabetes.

It has been an incredible transformation personally. My outlook in every aspect of my life has changed dramatically, and I have maintained to still be the person I have been striving to be. 

I decided that I want to tell people what real life is like with diabetes, so I jumped on twitter and searched diabetes. It happened that I stumbled on a #dsma chat night. That was where I needed to be at that exact time. The online diabetes community has provided me with the empowerment that I needed to remain committed to my personal development. I have made a multitude of friends through the online community. I have helped start the first Canada-centered diabetes online chat, I have witnessed chats in Great Britain, Australia, Italy, France, South Africa and more. A very special thank you goes out to members of the Diabetes Online Community for being a warm blanket when I was very cold.

I now know that no matter what any outside source says to me about my weight or diabetes, I have a place to turn to. I don't have to keep my thoughts inside and assume the person probably meant well, and even consider that maybe they are right.

I started to hear about people all around the world who were feeling what I was feeling. I was starting to realize that I am not alone in taking everything head on and not taking what others say at face value.

On my path to better myself, I am trying to better understand the motives of people's actions towards me, specifically my weight and my diabetes. A lot of the time it is a lack of understanding and comprehension of what is going on in my body. As many times as I patiently try to explain that I am doing the best I can.

But what I have really come to realize, and this is my biggest learned lesson of 2012:

It can't be said enough. Everyone has things to deal with. Some seem more serious than others, but if we all would take two steps back from a comment we are about to make to or about another person and just remember that everyone is fighting a hard battle, I think we might get somewhere in making this world a better place to live.



This post is my December entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2012/december-dsma-blog-carnival-2/

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A minefield

Friends, I am ready to cry, nay I HAVE cried today. twice.

I am so frustrated. I don't know what to do. I need some advice.

My sugars have been off the charts for three days. I can't get them down. I am  battling with everything I have.

I have been through 4 infusion sets, 3 catridges, tubing, a new bottle of insulin, injections, and no matter what My sugar will NOT stay down.

I have had a +60% basal rate for two days. I drop sporadically but then I spike high again.

I feel exhausted. My eyes are burning, the tears are stringing from behind them.

I am not sick, I am quite average. I do have a little extra stress in my life, but certainly nothing crazy and nothing I haven't dealt with before. These sugars are adding to my stress. I am finding it hard to focus, and I just want something to give.



I feel like every single orange dot is a mine waiting to be stepped on.


My average blood sugar spiked to over 10 from the lovely 6.9 it was last week. This is NUTS. and I feel like CRAP.

Help? Ideas? Anyone?




Monday, December 10, 2012

Sweaty infusion set

Today my sugars have been hovering around 12-19 all day. Corrections, temp basals....nothing seemed to work. I replaced everything yesterday (cannula, tubing, cartridge, insulin) so I assumed it was all good.

Tonight I had 15g carb with supper and instead of my usual 1:10 ratio I have 1:5 plus a correction. 2 hours later my sugar is still climbing so I decided to pull my cannula.

This is what I saw (it was on my butt so I didn't see it up close until I pulled it)

It seems like some of the insulin wasn't going in all day? I guess? I have never seen this sort of insulin condensation on my infusion sets. It's definitely insulin, I wiped it with a q-tip to smell it and make sure.

Has anyone experienced this?




Saturday, December 8, 2012

You know, life isn't bad at all.

Sometimes I feel deflated at my efforts I put into things only to get a miniscule return. It happens, I put in a lot to projects, relationships and my personal (diabetes) care.  I always grew up being told you get out what you put into something, but I have come to the realization that it just doesn't always ring true.

Coming to terms with the fact that I may very well put a lot more in to something than I get out of it has taken a lot of pressure off myself to achieve all of these lofty goals I set.

I am slowly starting to take power away from events, things and people which held so much power over how I felt about myself and it is incredibly eye opening and the self-realization that I am not awful at everything I do or try is really a breath of fresh air.

I won't get into great detail, since my year-end wrap up will include all of the details about my journey of taking the power away from my diabetes, but I will say this has been incredibly effective.

I didn't realize this is what I was doing until I bought Ginger Viera's book Emotional Eating with Diabetes

Everyone should read her book. Everyone. It has helped me put into real thoughts things that have really been helping me the past few months.

 Ok. I am eating A LOT of candy and probably should go for a walk or something. YAY HOLIDAY SEASON :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A mish mash

I have been trying to write this post for almost a week. I can't seem to get past a few sentences before I scrap the idea.

I wanted to wrap up Diabetes Awareness Month with an epic post about how I felt at the end.

I felt no different. I don't know why I thought I would. It's not to say I felt bad, I felt good about our efforts to be honest, but I always do.

The World Diabetes Day chat on the 14th was an absolute highlight for me. To be able to log in to tweetchat.com any time of the day and be able to take part in a truly meaningful and dedicated conversation about real issues that people with diabetes face all the time was a great relief.

I started this blog because I wanted to chronicle my life with diabetes. I wanted an outlet to write, because I am so passionate about writing and I don't get the opportunity to do it in my "day" job. I didn't know what I was going to get out of starting this little tiny blog in a far corner.

This November was the second Diabetes Month in all of my 23 years that I felt hopeful. I felt that one day I may not have to live with this illness, I felt hopeful that maybe just maybe the words I spill out on to my figurative page may help someone out of a dark place in their life.

I would be lying if I said I didn't always have a diabetes community. When I was first diagnosed I went to camp almost immediately. I still have friends that I see regular that went to camp with me. I volunteer with them, drink with them, eat with them, and everything in between. I love my girlfriends (and guy friends) that I made at camp.

But I just need to touch on something that happened this week in the DOC that has floored me.

I posted on twitter that I would like a Dexcom system. I need one in fact. I have anxiety when I go to the gym or on a bike ride because my blood sugar drops quickly with exercise, and lately I haven't been feeling my lows until I am around 2.0. So I put the call out, I had an offer of an entire system in under 10 minutes...at no cost. I am so thankful. For the privacy of the person who is sending me this system I won't post who it is, but they know who they are and they can rest assured I will pay it forward.

I still do not have extra sensors. One other person offered to send me one extra that they had (and thank you thank you thank you!!), but other than that I am out of luck. Does any one have any they could sell me or donate to me? I really just want enough for a few months so I can understand why I cant sleep at night because I am so low. If you can, contact me on twitter or through the comment section :)

There you have it. I am not even reading this post before getting it out there. It's disjointed. It's my wrap up of diabetes month. It's necessary.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Big Brother-The day of D-Siblings

Today I have seen many posts about other d-bloggers' siblings, and how today is a day to recognize them.

So I guess I will do that!

My brother is 4 years my senior, and growing up we fought a lot. At the time I never put much thought into caring about what he must be going through when mom and dad paid a lot of attention to everything I ate and everything I did.  We gave my parents a run for their good parenting money...so to speak. He was a hockey player and I was an artsy kid who didn't really know which direction to pick...I liked them all.

My parents did an excellent job of making life seem completely normal after diagnosis. I don't really remember it to be honest, I do remember dropping my drawers so my dad or mom could give me a shot in the butt. I remember eating healthier snacks after school and gazing longingly at my brother putting away 10 mini pizzas as a "snack". I don't remember feeling sad or deprived about diabetes. I always felt it made me special.

I do remember how I was diagnosed. It was on a hockey trip for my brother. I had just gotten over the flu and we were making our trek home and stopped for supper. All I wanted was to drink milkshakes. I didn't want any supper just strawberry milkshakes. I distinctly remember feeling kind of sick at the thought of eating but anything liquid meant that I could be satisfied if only for a minute. Apparently that's when my mom knew something was up. That's how a lot of things happened when I was little, I was a hockey sister. I didn't mind it, I enjoyed running around the arena and sneaking treats out of the candy machine. I had friends who were there, I got to travel a bit...it was a great childhood!

My brother has always taken everything in stride about my diabetes. I got to go to diabetes camp and he got to go to hockey camp. I remember when I was first diagnosed we were still in the same school, I remember one day I spilled my milk on my sandwich and ruined it. My teacher let me go up to the grade 6 wing and tell him and he gave me his sandwich, knowing that I needed to eat (of course this was back in the 2 starch, 1 protein, 1 fat, 1 fruit days). I don't really know if he got to have another sandwich that day, but I do know that even 11 year old brother didn't let me go hungry and low.

We may have fought a lot and I know I was jealous of the attention HE got sometimes because he was a true athlete (and he still is!) If he was ever jealous, guilty or angry: he certainly never let it show. All in all I think we were pretty normal siblings.

Today we are not as close as I would like, but we both have busy lives. But I do know that he would always be there for me in an emergency if I needed him.

Hey Brandon, if you're reading this you should comment and tell me if any of this rings true!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

LifeoutsideD Part 2: Hector

**This post is part of an ongoing series about PWD's life outside of diabetes to show just how normal we can be (I use the term "normal" loosely). If you make a post about your life outside of D please use the hashtag on twitter #lifeoutsideD and I will be doing a round up. So far Jennifer of  Sweet Zoo has posted about her awesome daughter here 


Today I have forgotten to bolus twice. My sugars are around 180/10 and that sucks but at least I know why so I can fix it. Also note to self: don't forget to bolus, geez it's not that hard!

In my ongoing posts showing a little about my life outside of diabetes, let me present to you...my furbaby.

The guy in focus is Hectordog.
Hector is my dog. Well, he is mine and my boyfriend's dog (more on that guy later). He is a purebred (akllegedly) Redbone Coonhound. He has big floppy hears, and sad droopy eyes which he uses to his advantage. We adopted him last July from a local adoption agency that takes dogs out of emergency/ pro-kill shelters in the Unites States and brings them to Canada where they are less likely to be killed. 

Here is models a scarf I made for Cherise.


Hector is a really, really great dog. We knew when we first met him he was special. When we went to the adoption center he was running around, and when he was called he would jump up on the camp chair they had set out in the yard and sit pretty. I distinctly remember him coming over and putting his paws over my toes and bowing down in his play posture. 

Sunbathing after a bath



He really is adorable. He sleeps at my feet and cuddles with us all the time. I have never seen a dog that thrives on being super attached and lazy more in my life. He is totally in bliss either running around outside or laying on the couch...it doesn't matter as long as his people are around. 

Underage drinking, tsk tsk!


He makes us laugh every day. When we laugh he feeds off of it and does more silly things. He groans a lot in response to touch and words and expresses how he feels VERY clearly through body language and groans. Sometimes when he has been warm, we think his scent smells like corn pops. So I usually call him my little stink, Mr. Stinkerton, or corn pop.

Just maxin and relaxing




Lately he has started to pick up on my highs and lows. At night, on more than one occasion, he has woken me up and I have been low or high. Sometimes he will whine incessantly at me until I check my blood sugar if we are just hanging out and I will be low and not have felt it. He is really special to us. He gets us out walking or playing, he cuddles us, he makes us happy and yeah he can make us frustrated too.

I have never met a dog with a more ridiculous personality in my life. I just love this guy.



Friday, November 23, 2012

#lifeoutsideD

Re-reading my posts recently I noticed a certain negative tone to them.

When I started this blog, I wanted to demonstrate that life with diabetes doesn't always suck, so I really do need to re-focus on that...at least today.

I often find myself wondering about what the doc members are like outside of their diabetes blogging/social media advocating lives too. So I am going to start a series of posts about my life outside of diabetes, at just how normal (and often...boring!) life with diabetes can be! If you intent to post about yourself outside of  D showing your normal life, please use the hashtag #lifeoutsideD. I would love to hear more about you!

Before I get into that though, I want to show you a few days of success. I think it's radically important to share our successes. Too often it is too easy to be negative about our chronic illness, so I will start...but I want to hear about your success too!



Yesterday

My day so far. Look at those averages of my past 26 tests! I am so happy with that. For the record (for my American friends)  6.0 mmol/l is 108 mg/dcl.     

So, my life outside of D right now is pretty consumed with crocheting! I love it! It passes the time, I feel satisfied when I make things and it makes some really beautiful items. I am the type of person that can give up on myself easily if I do not master something quickly, so starting new hobbies is always a minefield for my self-esteem. But when I started to crochet something just...clicked! Is tarted to crochet maybe a month ago. I can see myself being totally addicted and starting an etsy shop.

One of my projects, for a person who shall remain nameless since they may see my blog:



Happy, happy, HAPPY Friday all. Please make sure to tweet me @alannaswartz if you are posting a #lifeoutsideD blog post, I want to read it and I want to promote it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Advice wanted

Hey all.

So I have been learning a lot about Apidra and its ability to reduce the post meal spike/quick action time.

I have heard both good and bad things about it. My main concern is that it can not remain unrefrigerated for any period of time.

I go through a lot of insulin as a big girl. I can go through 200 units in a few days no problem, but my big stickler is that I always ALWAYS have a bottle of insulin unrefrigerated on me. At ALL times. I carry this because a) I may need a back up shot, b)I may run out of insulin and c)it keeps me alive so in case of any sort of emergency I always want some on me. A bottle of 10ml usually lasts me mayyyyyybe 3 weeks. Is this too long? I know the label says its too long, but is it actually too long?

Likewise, do any of my pumping pals use Symlin? I have heard good things from some T2s, but I wonder what its effect on T1 pumper would be?

I am trying to arm myself with lots of info before I beg and plead for the diabetes clinic to see me in the new year.

I will have approximately 15 minutes to present my findings and get an endocrinologist to believe me when I present these findings, so give me your best shot.

Any other meds or endo endorsed supplements that help make you feel more in control of your Diabetes?

Let me know!


This post is not requesting medical advice, nor will responses be taken as such. It is requesting user experiences only. Any changes I, or my readers make will be the responsibility of the patient.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hello Darkness My Old Friend






Two days. What's up?
Perhaps silence is what is necessary for me today.
Thank you Meri, for your lovely post.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The guilt.

I have had a few decent-ish days D-wise.  Sugars are relatively in range. My only high spike is again where I changed my infusion set. I tried the tip of leaving my older one in for four hours to ensure all insulin/basal/boluses were absorbed, but alas the new site still took forever to start absorbing correctly. I don't feel good when my sugar is up around 14.0/252. Some people might not feel that at all, and that's ok too, but for me the feeling is awful.

So what happens emotionally when my sugar is out of range? I feel even worse, like I am failing at something I am supposed to be really, really good at. When my sugar is above 8.0 or below 4.5 I feel like something I did was wrong. I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel sadness, I feel angry. It doesn't happen often but sometimes I think: "Why me?"

Why was I the one to have to deal with this crap day-in and day out? There are so many people out there who do bad things and are bad, mean-spirited people. I don't necessarily think that anyone deserves to struggle with a chronic illness, but I catch myself sometimes thinking: why not them? Then I feel guilty for even thinking that! So I am guilty over failing myself because of my numbers and then I feel guilty for thinking someone else should have to deal with this and not me. It can be a vicious circle.

So, in times like that in the past I have vented to friends or my partner. But these days I am reading blogs/reaching out on twitter to people like me. I can't really list them all here, in fact that is another post for another day but people like: Kerri , Kim, Scott, Mike, Stacey and SO MANY MORE (believe me if you aren't listed here: I still read your blog, I just had those off the top of my head!) are writing every day about stuff that I am dealing with too.


I am not even a little guilty about how much crap just spilled out of my diabag when I lifted it up the wrong way to refill Huey the Bluey pump. Look at all those used test strips I carry around with me every day! GROSS/I kind of want to keep all my used strips for a year and make something out of them. I AM GROSS.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Life with T1D: Glucolifted



You can click on the image and you will be taken to the Glucolift website.

Follow them on Twitter: @Glucolift
Or email them: caring@glucolift.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

World Diabetes Day: Hope



Hope.


Hope is that fleeting feeling that dances across your chest and mind when someone you care about looks at you just so.

Hope is that warm embrace from a friend you haven't seen in years.

Hope is your phone ringing.

Hope is what replaces fear when the diagnosis trauma wears off, when the burnout dies down, when the insulin kicks in, when the juice box gives you its last carbohydrate.

Hope is when the night sweats from a low blood sugar subside and you slip safely into a deep sleep.

Hope is what keeps us alive.

Hope is what keeps me alive.

World Diabetes Day provides us a symbol of hope that one day we will be able to say we were once living with diabetes. It provides a beacon for us who are drowning in corrections and glucose tablets and gives us the wind in our sails when we just don't want to care any more.

Diabetes Online Community, friends, family, loved ones: this is a call to arms. World Diabetes Day is our way to reach out to you and ask you to hold us up when we just can't do it ourselves. We are asking for you to come to our defense and sometimes offense when necessary.  Diabetes is hard, until there is a cure we need you.

Please celebrate World Diabetes Day, teach your co-worker, neighbour, friend, or cousin that diabetes affects everyone differently. All people with diabetes need from you is respect, not medical advice.

Interested in speaking with people living with diabetes living all around the world? Please join us for a chat on twitter under hashtag #WDDchat12. There will be moderators from all over the world, including me! For the schedule, please see here. 

You can log on to www.tweetchat.com and follow the hashtag #WDDchat12 any time between 7am and 11pm ATL tomorrow and watch the magic of the diabetes online community unfold.

I will be moderating from 9-10pm ATL under the username @theCANDOC





Sunday, November 4, 2012

Guest Post: Stuff You Should Know-Type One Diabetes

My friend Sara has posted this around Facebook and on her personal journal. I asked her if she would mind me re-posting it here to share her hilarious and smart words. I have known Sara for...probably 20 years. We grew up attending the camp put on by the Canadian Diabetes Association together (though she is a few years older than me), we worked together and we both have travelled and worked at other diabetes camps. We are close friends now who do a lot together. Sara is just over one week into her switch from MDI to insulin pumping and I am so excited for her. 

It’s Diabetes Awareness Month! Below is an interesting fact about diabetes for each day of the month. I'd love it if you'd take a few minutes to learn about this disease affecting 347 million people worldwide.

1) There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational (experienced during pregnancy). You can put the terms “brittle diabetes”, “juvenile diabetes” and “sugar diabetes” in the back of the closet… they’re considered outdated and inaccurate.

2) Only about 10% of people with diabetes have Type 1 (including me). Just a few accomplished people with Type 1: Halle Berry, Victor Garber, Neil Young, Anne Rice, Tony Bennett, Mary Tyler Moore, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

3) In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin entirely. People with Type 1 are treated with insulin, delivered through the skin by injections or a pump. Insulin can’t be swallowed because the acid in the stomach breaks it down. (Believe me, that’s the first thing we all ask.)


Here’s someone wearing an insulin pump. That white thing contains a tiny tube that goes under the skin and delivers the insulin.

4) People with Type 2 either don’t have enough insulin, or their body becomes unable to use the insulin they have. It can be treated with diet, pills, and sometimes insulin, too.

5) Insulin is not a cure for diabetes (there IS no cure). It lowers blood sugars, but every day is still a balancing act for people with diabetes as they figure out exactly how much food to eat, and how much insulin to give to counteract the effect of the food. Those are just two of many factors which can affect blood sugar levels.

           
A few other things that affect blood sugar levels in sometimes unpredictable ways.

6) In short, diabetes is a condition where a shortage of insulin prevents the body from being able to process sugar, causing excess sugar in the blood and urine. (That feels BAD.)

7) No one knows exactly what causes diabetes. Types 1 and 2 are thought to have a genetic component, and Type 2 is influenced by external lifestyle factors, age, and ethnicity. You don’t get it from eating too much candy!


Thank god, am I right?

8) It is dangerous to have either too much or too little glucose in the blood. For a LOW, people with diabetes eat something sweet. Insulin corrects a HIGH blood sugar. (You wouldn’t believe how often Hollywood mixes this up in the movies.) And because I get asked this a lot: being low makes you feel shaky, hungry, empty, weak, fatigued, confused, and you have a hard time stringing sentences together. High blood sugar is marked by thirst, exhaustion, shortness of breath, nausea, and frequent urination.


This is me at my desk all last week.

Panic Room is the worst portrayal of diabetes I’ve ever seen in the movies. Do not get your diabetes info from Jodie Foster!

9) In many ancient cultures, diabetes mellitus (from the Latin for “to siphon honey”) was diagnosed by tasting the urine, as it was high in sugar and tasted sweet. In India they were a whole lot smarter, and would watch ants to see if they were attracted to the sugary urine. Cocktails, anyone?


Dr. Thomas Willis used this colour-flavour wheel to diagnose patients with diabetes. He poetically described a positive test result as “wonderfully sweet, as if imbued with honey”. Here, Dr. Willis thinks about maybe getting a new job or something.

10) Because I’m not done talking about urine yet: in the 17th century, diabetes was known as “the pissing evil”!

11) The World Health Organization estimates that the number of people in the world with diabetes will almost double from the year 2000 to 2030. Most will be found in Asia and Africa.

12) Canadian researcher Dr. Frederick Banting led his team to the discovery of insulin in 1921. The idea of isolating it had once appeared to him in a dream. Before insulin, the treatment for diabetes was gradual starvation leading to certain death, with the average life expectancy at about six months. Insulin was really the first miracle drug.


Dr. Banting, getting ready to be a hero to millions, no big deal.

13) Dr. Banting and his team could have retired on the riches from their discovery of insulin. Instead, they sold the patent rights to the University of Toronto for just one dollar, in the hopes that insulin could be made widely available to save the lives of people with diabetes. (I know… you’re not crying; you just have something in your eye. Me, too.)


Charles Best and Frederick Banting stand with the first dog to be kept alive with insulin injections after its pancreas was removed.

14) November 14 is World Diabetes Day, commemorating Dr. Frederick Banting’s birthday. Wear blue to help raise diabetes awareness (tell people why!), high-five your favourite people with diabetes, and consider a donation to your favourite diabetes organization.

The blue circle is the universal symbol for diabetes. The circle symbolizes life, health, and unity, and the blue is the colour of the flag of the United Nations.

15) Symptoms of diabetes include extreme thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, exhaustion, dry skin, and blurred vision. It is extremely fast (5 seconds), cheap (about 1 dollar), and easy (1 finger poke) to have your blood sugar checked, so ask your doctor to test you if you are showing any symptoms.


It barely hurts at all, I promise!

16) Diabetes is NOT contagious or transmittable in any way! So go ahead and give your favourite person with diabetes that hug you’ve been holding back.

Obviously I need this.

17) In 1797, Scottish physician John Rollo created the first medical therapy to treat diabetes. He prescribed an “animal diet” for his patients of “plain blood puddings” and “fat and rancid meat”. Blargh. The moral of this story is that the good ol’ days were actually totally the WORST.


Here's the sick fuck now.

18) People with diabetes should have regular eye exams. This is important because complications can arise from long-term damage to the blood vessels anywhere in the body. However, the only blood vessels in the body that can be examined non-invasively are in the eye, so an eye exam gives a sense of what might be happening elsewhere in the body.

19) It is less costly (not to mention more humane) for a society to support proper diabetes care and management than it is to treat diabetes complications down the line. Encourage your politicians to fund diabetes care programs and financial assistance for those with diabetes!

20) The ancient Greek physician Aretaeus described diabetes as “the melting down of flesh and limbs into urine”, and said that “life (with diabetes) is short, disgusting, and painful”. We’ve come a long way, baby.


Here’s Aretaeus. Doesn’t really look like an optimist, does he?

21) Elizabeth Evans Hughes arrived in Toronto in 1922 to be treated by Dr. Banting for her diabetes. She was 13, weighed only 45 pounds and could hardly walk, She responded immediately to insulin treatment, lived a productive life, and died many years later at 73. The day she injected insulin for the first time on her own, she wrote to her mother: “I can do it perfectly beautifully. Now I feel so absolutely independent.”

Elizabeth lived longer by starvation than almost anyone ever had, surviving for 3 years to see the discovery of insulin.

22) It is now considered somewhat passé to call someone a diabetic. The more modern term is “person with diabetes”. (This applies not just to those with diabetes, but with other conditions, as well. It’s called “people-first language”, and its purpose is to avoid the subconscious dehumanization of people with health conditions and disabilities.)  Now you know!

23) The question I get asked the most is “doesn’t that hurt?” when I’m noticed poking myself to test my blood sugar or giving insulin. The answer is: yep, sometimes it does!

24) Why diabetes research still needs your help: despite advances in treatment, someone in the world dies of diabetes-related causes every 10 seconds. Please consider donating to diabetes research this month (or any month. Or every month!)

25) Gary Hall, Jr. is an American swimmer diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1999. His doctors told him he would never again be able to swim at an Olympic level. Hall ignored them and went on to win ten Olympic medals - five gold, three silver, two bronze. (He also punched a shark repeatedly until it swam away from biting his sister, while we’re talking about how cool this guy is.)

Attention, sharks: Beware of Gary Hall, Jr.

26) The days of people with diabetes avoiding certain foods are over! Many people with diabetes now count carbohydrates, and adjust their insulin levels according to how many grams of carbohydrate they eat. (I give one unit of insulin for every 7 grams of carbohydrate I eat, whether's it a carb from a carrot, or a carb from Hershey syrup.)

27) In 1922, children with diabetes were often kept in large hospital wards, comatose and with no chance of survival. The Banting team went from bed to bed in one ward, injecting their newly-isolated insulin into the patients. Many of them awoke to the unimaginable joy of their families before the doctors even reached the end of the ward. Isn’t that the greatest story?!


Here are Best and Banting again looking peeved.  Apparently they fought all the dang time.

28) When I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1986, I measured the sugar in my urine by putting 2 drops of urine in a test tube with 10 drops of water, dropping in a Clinitest tablet, and watching it boil and get hot and turn every colour of the rainbow. Urine testing was the only way of monitoring diabetes until home blood glucose kits came along in the 1970’s. Testing has improved incredibly over the years, but I can’t lie - being an 8 year-old mad urine scientist was pretty awesome.

“Modern and portable” Clinitest kit from 1963. Why, just pop that giant wooden case under your arm and you’re ready to go anywhere!

29) In 1989, the Queen Mum visited Banting House in London, Ontario, and lit a flame. The flame will burn as a symbol of hope until the cure for diabetes is found.

Queen Liz the first firing it up.

30) I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for 26 years and I’m still keepin’ on. It’s a challenge every day, but it has also brought wonderful people and experiences into my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I believe a cure for Type 1 diabetes will be found in my lifetime. Support diabetes research!

This is Sara. She is beautiful, smart, funny, a creative genius and a week in to her adventure of pumping.

If you are wondering where you can donate to diabetes charities this month please visit the following places:

My JDRF Walk page
The Canadian Diabetes Association

If you can not financially afford to make a donation, why don't you get out and do a Big Blue Test! You don't need to have diabetes!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Life with T1D

In honour of Diabetes Month, I am chronicling one or two events that are affected by diabetes every day on my Facebook and my blog. I am a day behind (I know, already!) on my blog so here are my first two days!

I am doing this to spread awareness that while it seems that I am able to handle a lot of tasks thrown at me and my disease well, it is challenging. It hopefully will give a little insight into day-to-day life with T1D.