Category Archives: Education

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.

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Recap of 2013.

Hi friends!  It seems like I’ve had a lot going on this year and my posts have been sporadic. But I’m still around and I’d love to recap what my year was about.  When I DID post that is 🙂  I’d love to call them highlights but honestly a lot of them don’t seem so exciting to fall under that category!

December: 32 years ago today I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

November: Oops.

October: What I am very glad about is that I am an empowered patient and have the wisdom to make this sort of determination.

September: Have you ever felt that something in your life needed to be “recharged”?

August: This is a fairly new collaboration within the diabetes online community to spread knowledge about the fact that the glucose test strips we use today, yes in 2013, are not completely accurate.

July: Talking with a true inspiration.

June: This isn’t really diabetes related.  But it’s about a huge part of my life – my twin sister.

May: Like the past conferences, I had a wonderful time.

April: I am honored to be hosting the Best of The ‘Betes Blogs for the month of April.

March: It was a little after 1am when I woke up kind of suddenly.

February:  Lucky for me, the great people over at Sanofi Diabetes asked if I was willing to share some advice or tips if you will, on traveling with diabetes.

January: When I was growing up with diabetes, there weren’t many books around that I knew of on the topic.

I cannot believe that we are getting ready to say goodbye to another year.  Is it me or did this one just fly right by?? I want to wish all of you a very happy and healthy new year.  May 2014 be good to all of you 🙂

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Big Blue Test 2013.

I posted about the Big Blue Test last year.  And I’m going to reflect back on that post since the initiative is going on again this year!  If there are 20,000 tests logged by November 14, 2013, the Big Blue Test grants (St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic in San Francisco, CA and University of Colorado, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, CO) will be funded to provide people touched by diabetes who are in need with lifesaving supplies, medical tests, treatment, and/or patient education (each will receive US$2,500) and an additional US$5,000 will support projects in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Big Blue Test.

 

 

 

One of the things that I struggle most with in terms of my health and(or) diabetes management is consistent exercise.  Usually I do well for a few weeks then work hours are longer or I have more things to do and I get off track.  I’ve made a promise to myself recently that I am going to make it a priority in my life no matter what.  What helps me a lot to stay motivated honestly is support and inspiration of others.  When I see someone post about working out or read about the accomplishments of athletes living with diabetes or pass by someone who is running or riding a bike in my neighborhood, I want to get active.

 

That is why I love the Big Blue Test.  It is a movement started by the Diabetes Hands Foundation in 2010, to help promote the positive affect physical activity has not only on a person with diabetes’ blood sugar, but on everyone’s health in general.  It is so simple.  All you have to do is test your blood sugar, exercise for at least 14 minutes, test your blood sugar again and log it over at http://www.bigbluetest.org.  Those people without diabetes can participate also, just minus the blood sugar readings part.  The best part is this:  if 20,000 entries are logged by November 14th, Roche will donate $100,000 to organizations that will provide life saving diabetes supplies to those who need it the most.

 

I know together, we can achieve this goal and help those less fortunate than us while helping ourselves stay healthy.  I’ve logged my Big Blue Test three times already this week.  Have you?

 

 

New Doc Update.

A few of you had asked me to keep them posted on my new endocrinologist story.  Which I appreciated.  And so here is an update.

I saw Dr. R last week.  Was it magical?  No.  Was it dreadful?  No.  Was it satisfactory?  Yes.  It was kind of strange to have to start from the very beginning of my diabetes life when giving her my complete history. But I had to and she updated my records with the information I gave her.  I of course included the minor complications I have been dealing with over the past couple of years.  She wasn’t surprised by this since I have been living with diabetes for over 30 years.  She asked if I was on an insulin pump and when I confirmed I was indeed on the OmniPod, she asked for the PDM right away to download.  Note: at my old practice, this information was only downloaded at my CDE appointments.  She inquired about my last A1c and how it has been generally speaking.  When I stated that since being on the Dexcom CGM, it has been pretty stable around the 7% mark, sometimes a bit lower, sometimes a bit higher, she asked for the Dexcom to be downloaded and was almost shocked why I didn’t give it to her upfront.  I explained that I was not used to having my devices downloaded at endo appointments.  I felt so silly!  We spoke about general endo issues as well including celiac.  When I was tested for celiac about 2 years ago, it wasn’t at the suggestion of my endo but at my own request.  I inquired how my visits would go in terms of seeing her and other staff in the practice, like a CDE for example, she said to her it was apparent that I did not need continued education so it would be quarterly visits to see her.  However I would have access to a CDE in the practice, one who I could contact for anything.  She ordered a bunch of blood work which was done in the in-office lab (plus!) and a urine analysis.  She requested I see her in three months when she will perform a follow up sonogram on thyroid nodes that were identified on me last year.  I called yesterday for the results of my lab work and was pleasantly surprised when she was the one who called me back.  The blood work and urine was normal and my A1c is back under 7%.  All of which made me extremely happy 🙂

Moral of the story.  Was I blown away by the first meeting with this new doctor?  I wouldn’t say so.  But she was more assertive in addressing things than what I’m used to.  And she adjusted one of my insulin to carb ratios, something that has never been done for me by an endocrinologist.  And we got along.  My dear husband’s view is that I became stagnant at my old practice and a change would be good.  This doctor is also associated with a bigger and better network which could be a benefit down the road.  I’m feeling positive which is definitely a good thing.  I think I will take the next three months to decide but I’m already leaning toward keeping Dr. R.  What I am very glad about is that I am an empowered patient and have the wisdom to make this sort of determination.  I wish everyone could have that knowledge and not settle for mediocre health care.

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We Can Do This.

Happy Friday everyone!  And a happy Labor Day to my US friends too!  I’m not sure how it got to be the end of summer already but here we are … September is approaching and pumpkin is everywhere 🙂

I am taking Kerri’s lead today and posting about a very important issue.  The Strip Safely campaign is well under way.  But there is something else that is needed from us to ensure that the tools we use to manage our diabetes is taken very seriously by the FDA.  They are planning future patient meetings on various diseases and conditions to better understand them.  Don’t you think they need to get a better view of the challenges of living with diabetes and how the tools available play a huge role in that?  Don’t you think since the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes keeps growing and growing, a solid understanding of this disease from the people who have it would help?  I do.  And I’m sure many of you would agree.  So let’s get together and make our voices heard.  Take a few minutes to sign this petition, please.  And pass it along.  We need 5,000 signatures so get to it!

Please sign here.

Three Years Old.

The big three

The Girl with the Portable Pancreas turns 3 on Sunday.  I cannot believe how time flies.  It wasn’t my start at blogging, as I had already been blogging for my friends at ACT1, but I started my own three years ago.  I am very happy to be able to reach out to people sharing my own experiences and knowledge and be part of such a powerful community.  I hope you continue to read and know that together we can do this.

I will leave you with wishes for a wonderful weekend and some motivation to keep you going strong 🙂

Optimism

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Strip Safely.

Two posts in one day.  Another first for me 😉

Strip Safely.  This is a fairly new collaboration within the diabetes online community to spread knowledge about the fact that the glucose test strips we use today, yes in 2013, are not completely accurate.  I have known this and it is an issue that bothers me greatly.  I think about all the people with diabetes who are not aware of an issue like this.  Those that are outside of the diabetes community.  Those that take their BG readings for granted.  And it can set someone up for major tragedy.  Since I know my BG meter is not 100% accurate, I always double and triple check if I get a questionable reading.  Too high or too low or totally off from my Dexcom, continuous glucose monitor.  Someone who is naive to meter accuracy, would go ahead and dose insulin based on a questionable reading.  That could lead to an immediate danger of an insulin overdose or not administering enough insulin which could lead to high blood sugar and the subsequent complications.

I don’t want to go back to the days of urine testing where you knew in what “range” your sugar was.  When I was diagnosed in 1981 that was the method used to test glucose levels.  You peed on a strip (similar to ketone test strips) and your urine turned it a certain color depending on how much glucose was in your urine.  Probably from hours ago.  That color represented a range of readings.  When I bolus from my insulin pump today, it doesn’t ask me what range my blood glucose is.  It asks for a specific reading that is used to calculate a precise amount of insulin needed to either correct a high or cover carbohydrates.  Carb counting and insulin dosing can be difficult enough at times without factoring in an inaccurate blood glucose reading.

Every single thing about diabetes management lies in the blood sugar.  How can one possibly manage blood sugar if they do not know with certainty what it is?  The answer?  One cannot.  And when people’s lives are at stake I can’t think of any better reason to campaign for better test strip accuracy and oversight over that market.

Take the time to write a letter to your elected officials. Urge them to attend the Diabetes Technology Society meeting taking place on September 9th.   Tonight on Twitter, there is a special time designated between 8 and 9pm, EST, to tweet about this issue to your elected officials.  They need to be aware of this important issue.  We need support to get this resolved.  Don’t forget to use the hashtag #stripsafely 

Portable Pancreas Girl Giveaway.

A couple of weeks ago, I turned to my friends and readers to help me choose a new medical alert bracelet from Lauren’s Hope.  The winner of the “contest” was the Olivia and I received it from the team over there a few days later.

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This bracelet is absolutely beautiful.  Purple and grey are my favorite colors so this is perfect for me!  It’s a pretty, dainty style but not too much for every day wear.  I thought maybe I wouldn’t like the three strands but I actually do.  It’s quite comfortable.  I’ve been wearing it every day since I received it and I see no signs of that yet.

Now for the surprise.  The team over at Lauren’s Hope would like to offer an opportunity for you guys as readers, to get your own medical alert!  There are three ways you can participate.  1) leave a comment on this particular blog post 2) tweet about this giveaway using the hashtags #ppggiveaway and #laurenshope 3) leave a comment on my share of this post on Facebook (for my friends).  At 5pm on Thursday July 18th, I will randomly select a winner of a $50 gift certificate to use at Lauren’s Hope for your choice of a medical alert accessory.

The winner will be announced here on Friday, July 19th.  If you happen to not be the winner, you can still get 10% off a purchase using the coupon code FAN.

Good luck!!! 🙂

Pump It Up.

I have always struggled with maintaining an exercise regimen. I’ve tried gyms and never stick with it so wind up cancelling my membership. I do my best working out at home so I have tried numerous workout programs. My generous hubby got me an elliptical a few years ago which did get some good use but not consistently. I liked the Biggest Loser Challenge game for the Wii for a while and Zumba for Xbox Kinect. Those didn’t last either. I even did a Kettlenetics program for a short time. I worked with Ginger for a bit and worked on some routines that she gave me. I didn’t mind them but wasn’t something I really enjoyed doing either (sorry G!!) . For some reason I never stay motivated enough to keep up with something. That is until recently.

Working with Ginger, I learned how your body and BG are affected differently from different types of exercise.  Ultimately weight training or intervals are better for losing weight as well as for managing BG.  (I will not pretend to be the expert and get into all the details here! 😉 ) I’ve heard about programs like P90X and Insanity, that they are difficult but result provoking.  For some reason though, I never had any interest in trying them.  However, my fellow T1D friend Jen, posted a few times about a fitness program called Les Mills Pump on Facebook and it got me intrigued.  I chatted a little with her about it and figured I’d give it a try.  Well, I love it!  It’s a 90 day program consisting of eight different workout DVD’s of lighter weight training at high repetitions.  It comes with a schedule that you should adhere to that I don’t exactly follow but have been working out 4-5 days a week which is a HUGE improvement for me.  Along with that program I am also alternating some HIIT spin workouts on my newer spin bike courtesy again of my generous hubby 🙂  Although the program is suited for 90 days, I can see this as something I’ll stick with much longer than that.

Have I noticed any weight loss yet?  Not exactly.  But I am hoping to see a difference in my body soon.  I am not only doing this to lose weight.  My BG have been fabulous (for the most part of course – it is diabetes we are talking about here) and I feel great.  More important is that I actually look forward to working out when I get home from work or on the weekends and it doesn’t feel so much like a chore anymore!  I truly find motivation from others.  Their posts.  Their pictures.  Their stories.  I hope that this pushes a little motivation your way if you are in need of some!

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From Arnold Sports Festival Facebook Page

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(image credit goes to the internet for these)

**I do not have any relations with Beach Body or Nintendo or Microsoft nor do they have any idea I even wrote this post.  I do not work for Ginger or Jen but am lucky to be friends with them from the diabetes community.  I would however recommend getting to know both of them 🙂  Thank you to both of them for sharing their knowledge and motivation with others.  It is greatly appreciated.  And also a thank you to my husband for always being supportive of my overall health and encouraging me to do things that will keep me healthy.**

Talking with a True Inspiration.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kris Freeman. If you are not familiar with who he is, I hope I can help with introducing a great person in the diabetes community. Kris is a professional American cross-country skier. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at 19 years old.

Kris Freeman

(image credit: Lilly Diabetes)  

Kris has been partnering with Eli Lilly since 2002 for advocacy. He wants to teach others “don’t let go of dreams because of diagnosis”.  This year he will be the guest of honor at 10 diabetes camps across the country in conjunction with the Lilly Camp Care Package program.  Kris feels that in a setting such as diabetes camps, people with diabetes can draw together for support and be more mentally equipped to handle the day to day challenges. I could not agree more with him. I have never attended diabetes camp but I have attended other events or just meet ups and have made so many friends along the way.  My attitude or my outlook would not be where it is today without that support, that’s for sure.

I’ve been working out more than usual recently. By that I mean 4-5 times a week for 30-45 minutes. And I felt so accomplished for this. Until I spoke with Kris that is! A basic day for Kris would include about 4 hours of some sort of training. A 2 hour roller ski, an 8 mile run, 2 mile swim. Then when he is training for the Olympics (which are coming up in a few months!) that is taken to a whole other level. He does 100 mile bike rides, 5km road races. Six days a week with only one off day a week. Whoa. Now I’m not a professional athlete but that kind of workout schedule still impresses the hell out of me.

Kris is a fellow OmniPodder and Dexcom user. I could imagine that being an athlete like himself, wearing the pod vs. a conventional insulin pump would be much more practical and easy. I asked him what his favorite site was for the pods and believe it or not, it’s his pecs! Beside his triceps, that is where he most wears his pods.  He never takes a Dexcom break and likes that he can be more discreet, able to check his BG with a glance at the Dexcom instead of having to do a fingerstick among his non diabetic peers.  I think we can all appreciate that!

In addition to using modern technology and heavy duty sports training to manage his BG, he also is a big believer in a high glycemic diet.  He is always thinking about his blood sugar.  I sit on my butt all day for work and think about my BG constantly so I can only imagine that being as active as he is would make me think about it even more.  A rhythmic diet full of fruits and vegetables, high in protein for breakfast and high in carbs for dinner is what he finds works best for him.

One thing Kris said resonated with me very much. He said that diabetes doesn’t go away but learning about it makes it easier. After living with T1D for 31 and a half years, I myself am still learning. And I have to agree that the more you know and understand, the easier it can be to deal with.  After being told to forget about his Olympic goals after diagnosis and dealing with road bumps along the way, it never even occurred to Kris to give up.  That is what makes him stand out.  What makes him a true inspiration.

Thank you so much Kris for taking time to speak with me. It was a pleasure hearing from someone as inspiring as you.  And best wishes for your upcoming endeavor in the winter Olympics!