Gentler Testing.

As of today, I have done approximately 48,836 blood glucose checks.  That is an estimate based on the 33+ years I have had type 1 diabetes, checking on a low estimate of 4 times a day.  The past number of years I have checked daily many more times than that however I wanted to take into consideration the first couple of years not having a glucose meter to check with or the number of years I unfortunately checked less than that.  So that’s the number I calculated and I’m sticking to it 🙂

It’s no wonder my fingertips are a mess!  I cannot tell you how often I need to re-stick myself in order to get blood from my fingertip.  My fingers are marked with scars and are hard to the touch.  It may sound gross but it comes with the territory.  When the team at Genteel reached out to me, asking if I’d like to try their lancing device, of course I said yes.  Why wouldn’t I want to see if there is a gentler-on-my-fingertips way to check my BG?

My very first impressions when receiving the Genteel device was that it was pretty (of course I got the princess pink).  And big.  But those were just based on how it looked and nothing yet on how it works.  After reading the material on how to use it – it comes with various contact tips for different depths of penetration so I chose the one I thought best suited for my fingers – I gave it a try.  To my surprise, it didn’t hurt at all!  You can also use the Genteel to test on other areas, not just your fingertips.  I may be a creature of habit (a 30 year habit) so I haven’t branched out to other areas.  But I may give it a try at some point 😉  You can also use multiple types of lancets with this device which is a great feature since it doesn’t limit you to just one particular type.

Genteel

Overall the device is comfortable for your fingers.  It also comes in various colors (yes I do like “pretty” diabetes devices and accessories.  And choices.) and the stickers are a cute feature for kids to dress theirs up.  I even put a sticker on mine 🙂  One thing I honestly didn’t love about it is that it’s pretty bulky.  However comfort should precede looks if it’s an important enough feature.  Your diabetes may vary of course.

The great team over at Genteel (https://www.mygenteel.com/) have provided a code to be used for readers here, for $10 off the purchase of your own Genteel lancing device.  The code to use during purchase is “stacey10off”.  Keep in mind they have a 120 day money back guarantee in case you’re concerned about buying something you haven’t tried before.

After all these years of fingersticks, I actually never knew this (from Genteel’s website) “All lancing devices on the market today mainly rely on extracting blood from the fingertips, because they are the primary area where blood capillaries are closest to the surface of the skin. Unfortunately, they also have the most abundant supply of pain nerves.”  See, it’s never too late to learn!

Accuracy. And Lots of Links.

Glucose meter accuracy is one thing that I feel very strongly about.  As everyone living with diabetes should.  I have been able to keep my A1c under 7% for the past 2+ years, something I have never done before in my 33 years with T1D.  But one of the things I need in order to be able to do that is an accurate glucose meter.

When using the OmniPod insulin pump, I mainly used the PDM as a glucose meter since it was built in – it uses Abbott Freestyle test strips.  I also have a One Touch Verio IQ meter which I posted about some time ago, really liking all of its features.  Even though it reads a bit higher compared to other meters for me, I’ve been using that as my main meter since shortly before I switched to the Tandem t:slim pump.

When Dexcom recently announced a software update to their G4 CGM product for more overall accurate results, of course I was thrilled.  I downloaded the update as soon as I could a few weeks ago.  Since the G4 was already very accurate for me (in terms of being in line with my fingersticks) even better accuracy sounded amazing!    Until it started reading off to my glucose meter and it’s been like that for the past few weeks, driving me crazy.  Has anyone else noticed this?

I received an email last week regarding the results of a J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey that noted Bayer ranks highest in overall satisfaction.  In the report, it also states “In addition to these results, Bayer recently presented data from two new analyses of previously published studies at the Diabetes Technology Society Annual Meeting 2014 that demonstrated the impressive accuracy of Bayer meters”.  This got me thinking to my own Bayer Contour Next Link USB meter that was tucked away.  I’ve tried it in the past and liked it and recall it being very close to my Dexcom readings.  So I decided to give it a try again.

IMG_6578

(In the above picture, the Dexcom had been calibrated with the Verio) I’ve done my share of meter comparisons and I don’t want to do that anymore.  Not only is each meter different, it stresses me out completely to do this.  So I’d rather not drive myself crazy if I can help it 🙂

Since Friday evening, there is definitely a notable difference of having readings much closer to my Dexcom than the Verio has had recently.  All I want is a meter and CGM I can trust for accuracy and consistency.  Since I already trust the Dexcom after 6 years of use, I need a glucose meter that will give me the same experience.  My diabetes management cannot be at its best without it.

IMG_6612 

 (While I have mentioned specific glucose meter brands in my post, I am in no way bad mouthing any of them.  Everyone’s experiences vary and I am only writing about my own.) 

Some Updates.

I realize I have not been blogging much lately so wanted to say hello to everyone and let you all know what’s been going on around my neck of the woods and keeping me busy.  Or maybe distracted.

 

  • It seems my blog anniversary completely slipped by me!  The end of August marked four years since I started here and I want to thank everyone that has ever stopped by to read, to comment and support me.  This wouldn’t mean to me what it does if it weren’t for all of you.
  • In July, I had a repeat gastric emptying scan done.  Unfortunately it confirmed what both me and my gastroenterologist figured, my gastroparesis has progressed.  Compared to the first one I had four years ago, it is still considered mild but it has gotten worse.  She prescribed two medications to take as needed and luckily I’ve been able to manage without them.  My hubby did some investigating to see if there were any natural remedies to help and he found out about ginger root.  I have been taking capsules before most meals and have noticed that it does help.  Thank you hubby!  I have learned a lot about this condition and it is not something that I would wish on anyone.  I’m truly hoping that managing my blood sugar as best I can will help keep it mild.
  • A few weeks ago I had my very first insulin pump infusion site infection, after almost 8 years of pumping.  I had removed the pod from my lower back and it was a little sore which is not completely unusual.  However the next day it was extremely painful and with the advice of a friend, I had it looked at by a doctor.  It was indeed infected so was put on 10 days of an oral antibiotic.  It has healed nicely but I have to admit I’m a bit weary of getting another one.  I’m hoping it was just a one-time-fluke type of thing.
  • I have been more involved with IRL citizenship and advocacy type efforts.  I am part of the citizenship committee as well as the disability network at my job.  It is very fulfilling to be part of such great networks and helps make my “regular” job more worthwhile.  I am also on the walk committee of my local JDRF chapter this year.  It makes me proud to be part of an organization that has announced such exciting advances in type 1 diabetes research in recent months.
  • Over the past 2 months, I haven’t exercised and my eating habits weren’t always the greatest.  While I’m finally working on changing that now, I was extremely surprised at the results from my endo appointment this past week.  A1c went down, not up like I expected and also one of the lowest I’ve ever had.  Also I lost a couple of pounds.  None of this makes much sense to me and really not the motivation I was hoping for to get back on track but honestly I’ll take it.  It makes me think back to all the times I was expecting and hoping for an A1c a lot lower than it turned out to be.  Sometimes diabetes is just unpredictable.
  • Most importantly, on September 3rd, my Mema (grandmother) passed away.  It wasn’t sudden as her health had deteriorated rapidly since earlier in the year but I still cannot believe she’s gone.  I’m glad I got to spend more time with her the few weeks before she passed, even though she may not have realized it was me.  I’m glad and thankful she was a part of my life for so long.  I’m glad that she lived such a full life – she would have been 95 next month, had 8 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.  I’m glad that she went peacefully and is now in a better place.  But it still hurts and I miss her dearly.

 

I suppose that’s most of it in a nutshell.  I’m hoping for more peaceful times to come and to make a better effort at blogging more often.  Especially with a big month coming up with a lot to do and say.  Oh, one more thing.  I got the new iPhone 6 on Friday (I was one of the crazy people who pre-ordered early in the morning on September 12th and not the crazy person who got on a line at the Apple store two weeks ago) and would highly recommend it for other iPhone lovers out there!

sunset_by_peaceful_child-d42ekxb

(image credit goes to the internet)

Diabetes Burnout.

I have been living with T1 diabetes for almost 33 years.  That is 11,863 days or 1,694 weeks or 284,712 hours or even 1,024,963,200 seconds without ever getting a break from having to fill in for my non working, good for nothing pancreas.  When I was a child, my parents did most of the worrying and diabetes work.  But it was still there.  As I grew into my teenage years, my focus sadly was not so much on my diabetes.  But it was still there.  When I went to college and got my first full time job and started making an adult life for myself, I didn’t want my diabetes to be at the forefront of my day to day tasks.  But it was still there.  And it will always be there.

I love Ginger.  I “met” her initially online, then got to meet her in person a few times and also worked with her briefly for coaching.  I honestly learned a lot from her in regard to diet and exercise, and that was after living with diabetes forever.  She always has such a positive outlook and loves to share her knowledge to help others.  I read her books Your Diabetes Science Experiment and Emotional Eating with Diabetes and found them both to be easy reads, full of useful information.  When I was asked to give tiny input and also to give a preview of her newest book, Dealing with Diabetes Burnout, of course I said yes.

In more recent years, I have put a lot of effort into working on my diabetes management.  (I hate to use the term “management” but I guess that’s what we try to do is manage our blood sugar right?) And I can sometimes feel it taking its toll.  One thing Ginger mentions in the beginning of the book is  “It’s endless.  Whether or not you become noticeably frustrated with your diabetes, the constant thought, energy and worry is inevitable.  And that can lead to burnout.  That constant effort and worry is exhausting, even if it motivates you to take care of yourself”.  Bingo.

I always try to focus on the positive and not dwell on the negative, especially when it comes to diabetes.  Another thing Ginger says in the book is “Diabetes may get to use up a tremendous amount of my mental energy every day, but I refuse to let it use up my happiness” and I can totally relate.  I think that is the key to not losing your mind completely.

Reading this book made me realize that number one I am not alone with feeling overwhelmed at times.  It also made me realize that it’s okay and totally understandable to get down from time to time.  I almost think we have to in order to cope healthily.  Ginger offers great insight in how to get to the bottom of your feelings and more importantly how to get through it.  No matter what you’re feeling today or what you’ve felt in the past, I would highly recommend reading this book.  It might be just what you didn’t know you needed.  I have an appointment with my endocrinologist tomorrow and will be mentioning it to her to tell her other patients.

 

Good for You.

You may have already heard of or even tried the glucose gels by Level Foods.  I have tried them and they are good for treating low blood sugars.  While my go-to treatments are still usually the good ol’ juice boxes, they do taste pretty good and work fairly quickly.  Lucky for us, Ethan, the founder of Level Foods, expanded his products and now offers protein shakes and bars.

Over the past year, I have made a greater effort to enhance my knowledge of food and exercise and how it affects my body with type 1 diabetes.  I have incorporated Beachbody into my life, with their workout programs and their Shakeology meal replacement shakes.  I recently did a 5 day Shakeology and clean eating cleanse that did wonders for my glucose levels.  I also learned a bit from my friend Ginger about food.

When I received an email from Ethan of Level Foods, I was very excited to give his new protein shakes and bars a try.  There are other recent reviews of his products from Sarah, Rachel and Brian.  Their feedback was all positive and I am going to add to that.  I’ve tried protein shakes by Special K and Muscle Milk.  Special K tasted very good however the nutritional value wasn’t exactly ideal.  The nutritional value of Muscle Milk was better however I didn’t particularly like the way it tasted.  I’ve also recently tried protein bars by Quest and wasn’t exactly in love with the taste of those.  Luckily the bars and shakes from Level Foods both taste delicious and have good for you ingredients.  And the bonus? My BG loves them!  They are low carb so very BG friendly.  The flavors of the shakes are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and caramel.  While they all taste good (honestly!), that is the order in which I like them 🙂  The flavors of the bars are caramel chocolatey peanut, double chocolatey chip, chocolatey crisp and chocolatey peanut crunch.  Again they are all good, but those are the order in which I like the bars.  I’ve shared my samples with my hubby, who is very into weight training and protein products, and he enjoyed them as well.  I will most definitely be buying these products.

13-2291050_BloggerProgramBannerAds-250X250_V2

Now here is the fun part.  And extremely generous of Ethan.  He is offering a premier bundle pack to one lucky winner!  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by midnight (EST) Saturday February 8th and I will randomly select a winner on Monday, February 10th and announce it here.

For those who will not be lucky enough to win the bundle pack, he is offering a 25% off $20+ purchases by using the code below.

13-2291050_BloggerProgramBannerAds-300x250_V1

Good luck everyone!  This is a great contest to win and I would highly recommend trying these products out!  And a very big thank you to Ethan for the products he created and for this great offer 🙂

Diabetes Art Day 2014.

Happy Diabetes Art Day!  If I’ve learned anything from Diabetes Art Day over the past few years, it’s that I’m really not too creative.  And I’m okay with that!  Most of the time anyway 😉  Thank you so much to Lee Ann for creating this event – I really do love all the passion you put into it and seeing what everyone else creates.  I’d have to say my favorite form or art is photography.  Especially since I used this last year too!  Without further ado, here is my piece for 2014:

A world with diabetes is a world with numbers.

IMG_4511

Does Size Really Matter?

Or more specifically, does angle really matter?  I’m going on 2 years with OmniPod.  And I LOVE this insulin pump.  For its tubelessness, its PDM, its convenience and functionality.  Prior to OmniPod, I used straight infusion sets with Medtronic and Animas insulin pumps for about 5 years.  And never had issues with them.  I could count on one hand how many occlusions or failed infusion sets I had over that time period.  Even though my lowest A1c’s have been in the last 2 years, more recently, I am beginning to wonder if the angled set is as effective as I need it to be.   And the one unfortunate thing about the OmniPod, is that it doesn’t give a choice of cannula angle or length.

While I consider myself an educated PWD, I am not certain if the angle of infusion sets can really make a difference in insulin delivery.  But I imagine it could.  I’ve read that the angled sets are usually better for areas of less “meat”.  (Unfortunately I do not have to worry about that)  But does that mean the straight sets are better for areas of more “meat”?  Does anyone know?  I’d love to hear your thoughts/advice/opinions.