This is the process of inserting a Dexcom sensor into your arm (this is also the sick moment where even though your hands may be shaking, you will stop to take a photo). So far, hands-down (get it? ha), this was by far, my smoothest insertion. Unlike the bra incident from last week, this time I used a towel hanging on a rack to remove the inserter.
Some diabetes thoughts:
1. Putting a Dexcom sensor in my arm, solo, is definitely doable. Having gravity work to my advantage to release inserter… maybe not so much. I watched the amazing Kim from www.textingmypancreas.com and she is so smooth (and bravery/awe inspiring). Her Arm Dexcom Insertion video is awesome, but for some reason she has better gravity (the gravity in NYC may be broken, but I have not confirmed this). I get the site inserted (woo hoo) but can’t get the inserter OFF MY DAMN ARM. Mild panic then ensues (and hopping). I consider going downstairs, asking my doorman to pull the inserter off while I squeeze the sensor sides. I then wonder which doorman is on duty. I’m convinced it’ll be the same doorman who told me he was going to faint the time I tripped and came home with a bloody knee. THAT makes me laugh. Yes, I’m sick in the head. Doorman horrified and passed out while I greet my neighbors with that barbaric inserter protruding out of my tricep.
Here’s what I’ve realized…having a bra on the bathroom door knob is key. I use it as a sling shot to release the inserter while I frantically squeeze the sensor. This manuever may make me either McGuyver or a genius, or someone who needs to straighten up.
2. Speaking of straightening up, if you need to do some Spring cleaning (well in my case it’s more like Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring cleaning), donating your gently worn clothing to a charity, will make you feel good. Donating to a store that supports diabetes research will make you feel EVEN better (it’s also extremely motivating). NYers, check-out Cure Thrift Shop. Cool right?
3. Making jokes with fellow DOC friends on Twitter about Dexcom adhesion battles, really will lighten your mood. It also MAY turn a hassle… into an art project!
I’ve been active in JDRF (especially the JDRF Walk-For-A-Cure events) for much of my life. I have two Alecia’s Stem Cells teams walking this year (New York City on September 30th and Los Angeles on November 11). Every year, I write a letter, asking (sometimes begging) my friends and family to participate. There are years where writing the letter comes easily, while other years I agonize over it. I try to have the letter ready to go on my diaversary (June 19th) but this year I did a diaversary blog post instead. So yes, I’m a little behind my own schedule. It got me thinking though, why JDRF? I have recently shared my D-blog with my family and decided to ask my Mom, about why my parents got involved specifically in JDRF. Although I was a bossy 6 year old when I was diagnosed, I wasn’t calling the shots (Get it? Diabetes pun? Shots? Ha) so here’s my Mom, filling in the blanks:
When asked why did we get involved in JDRF? The answer came easily.
Alecia, our firstborn child was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of six. That day, June 19, was a shockingly sad time in our lives. To say we were blindsided, is exactly how we felt. This was a child who was the picture of health, extremely bright, adorable, always cheerful and up for anything. Everything we had ever heard about this disease came running through our minds and we were devastated. Fear of the unknown was stifling!
Our endocrinologist, Dr. Robert Kaye, was most encouraging. He gave us the best advice which became our mantra – “Alecia is a child, who happens to have diabetes, not a diabetic who is a child.” That was the beginning of our journey, becoming immersed in the education of the vast world of living with diabetes. Dr. Kay suggested we become acquainted with JDRF. Through our association with them, we quickly realized we were not alone. JDRF became our lifeline to meet others with small children, to learn from those families who had been down this road and most importantly, we learned fact from fiction about this disease.
We attended lectures, participated in telethons, had Alecia appear in public service announcements and I became a member of JDRF’s board – ultimately running the Philadelphia Zoo walk. We were always hoping with the funds raised through JDRF that a cure was in the wings to be realized by our precious little girl and all the others afflicted with this life altering disease.
As years passed our daughter grew up, and we did everything possible to ensure her a normal life, participating in various activities like other kids her age. After college, she moved to NYC and became involved in the NYC Chapter of JDRF and has cultivated a team each year for the annual walk in which her family and friends all participate. The involvement with JDRF has shifted to her as an adult.
Our memories of working along side Lee Ducat and her leadership of an all embracing foundation (JDF) now JDRF, still remain a source of inspiration. Lee fostered a community to welcome, educate, and most importantly diminish the fear factor for families. JDRF introduced us to other families who shared the same ultimate goal to help our kid’s lives be relatively normal until the day they discover the four letter word – CURE.
I took some photos (I know, weird right?) of the gnarly situation known as Saturday Night Site Change.
Note: This is not the norm for a site change. The clean-up was ridiculous and I just found blood on my wall 3 days later. This is why I advocate for diabetes research. A pump is a great tool, but it is not a cure.
My boyfriend (herein after known as M) asks me how I’m feeling when I’m coming back from a LOW bg. Awhile ago, he asked what it felt like to go LOW. I described it as best I could but realized it has been such a long time since anyone has even asked me that question that I stumbled over my own babbling description.
Maybe a month ago I had a Saturday of Dexcom beeping lows. Although partially user error (bolused perfectly for the food I was supposed to eat… operative word being “supposed”), I was also dealing with warm weather and a heck of a lot of walking. I kept joking that perhaps I was CURED as I spent my day eating chalky glucose tablets almost hourly. Maybe I didn’t need my pump after all, I was a summer solstice pancreatic miracle!
M and I went to The GAP. We both had a bunch of items to take back to the fitting room when we heard Dex beeping yet again. I was in the 70s and dropping (damn you arrow and your knowledge I should be able to feel. Oh and by “damn you” I mean “thank you for saving me”). I had already eaten through my glucose tabs, screamed in my mind, “OH MY GOD I’M SUGER NAKED”, and felt panic surge through me like I’d been electrocuted. M took charge, told me to stay put, and he’d go get juice. My gut screamed at me to say, “NO, I have to go with you”, but for some reason the self-concious, how-many-more-times-is-diabetes-going-to-interrupt-our-day part of me politely told him to get juice FAST and pointed him in the direction of a drug store. I tried to play it cool. I stood looking at the same shirt over and over, attempting to use the least amount of energy possible. I’m fairly certain The GAP employees pegged me as a shoplifter as I remained motionless, looking at a shirt while holding an arm full of women’s clothing, the other arm full of guy’s gear, and scanning the doorway every 2 seconds.
By bg reached the high 50s and still headed down. I was alone, mentally kicking myself for eating all my glucose tabs and not replacing them, and angry for ignoring my gut. I started counting. I decided when I counted to 60, I would walk over to the check-out counter, ask for the manager and explain that I needed help. M would definitely be back in 60 seconds and he’d be the hero and that would be that. 60 seconds came and went. I was in the high 40s. I kept waiting. There was M, juice in hand, cap already off the bottle. I drank like I’d been hanging-out waiting for him in the Sahara. Within 5 minutes I was feeling better and we continued our GAP sale shopping. M explained that he’d tried to find the “best” juice. He wanted something that had enough sugar but also was healthy. He wanted to get the right juice, not all refined sugars. I celebrated his heroics but alone, in the fitting room, I knew I’d failed. I’d never explained to my super athletic, gym loving M that when I’m LOW, the term “healthy” is swiftly tossed out the window. I need pure glucose. Gulpable glucose. I need sugar loaded drinks. Give me a COKE, STAT!
Jump ahead to this past weekend. It was ungodly, sit-on-the-equator, oh-look-it’s-Satan, Welcome-to-Hell HOT! M was back in town (oh did I mention I’m in a long distance relationship? I didn’t? That’s odd because being 3000 miles apart is so incredibly awesome I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it. Oh and in this case the term awesome = torturous). On Sunday morning my bg stayed in the 100-130 range. I made a terrific breakfast (toot, toot to me) and we ran errands. We dropped off a ton of my stuff at Goodwill (toot, toot to me for getting organized) and my Dex started beeping. Dex has been way off recently but it didn’t need it to be correct this time, I FELT LOW. I felt REALLY LOW. It is indeed possible to feel the color drain out of your face. I know because I felt it as it happened. I grabbed glucose gel out of my purse. Struggle with the microscopic safety seal. OMG that stuff is bad! Gelatinous, warm, thick, super sweet, yuckiness in a tube. I tried drinking (is drinking even the right word?), that God awful goop. I felt my hands shaking, my knees and legs looking much like the glucose gel (no, not neon and sugary but rubbery like Jell-O) and then I started to gag. Not good. This was not going to do the trick.
M saw my glucometer confirm my Dex warning and he looked at my face. I looked LOW. I knew, he knew I looked LOW. I told him there was a Duane Reade (like the CVS/Rite Aid of NYC) ahead of us and I needed more than this glucose goop. He grabbed my hand and we started race walking. We got to the corner and I realized I’d been wrong. It was yet another block ahead (note, it’s NYC and East to West blocks can be rather long). M and I were sweating like crazy (gross but true) and he turned to me and said I should stay there in the shade of the scaffolding and he’d be back with juice. OH NO! I grabbed his hand tighter and said a very firm “NO”. As we raced across the street and dodged slowpoke walkers, I explained what I should have said that day at The GAP, I was too LOW to be left alone. That if he left me in the shady spot there was a chance when he’d returned, I’d have X’s over my eyes and my tongue sticking out the side of my mouth. I also added I’d be robbed (that might have been a bit of an exaggeration). Sadly we both found my cartoon-like imagery very funny which proves I’m sick in the head, not just the pancreas. At Duane Reade we grabbed grapefruit juice. Sugary, pink, grapefruit juice. As I gulped, M started reading the nutrition label and warning me that there’s A LOT of sugar per serving. YAY! GIVE ME SUGAR! We continued walking the aisles, relishing the wondrous air conditioning of Duane Reade as the color returned to my face. My jittery hands ceased as stability returned and we headed to the diabetes section to pick-up more glucose tablets. See ya never, glucose gel. Ewwwww.
So what does it feel like to go LOW? You know on TV shows when the character gets shot and is slipping away and the other character is holding them and crying while repeating to just hold on *sob* help is on it’s way? A LOW is sort of like that but both of those characters are me. I tell myself calmly to keep it together while I frantically consume any sugar I can. The first time I explained to M how a LOW sometimes feels like my lips are going numb, almost like they fell asleep and my tongue also feels odd too but a different numbness, that’s exactly how THAT LOW felt.
Yesterday was the type of LOW from my childhood. A sudden and abrupt paleness my skin doesn’t have even during the darkest winter (yep like an ill Snow White). The twitching, shaking hands was always the give away as a kid. Feeling like my legs were so unsteady and almost incapable of supporting me were symptoms I haven’t felt in quite sometime too. When we headed to lunch (in a cab, thank God), I tried to explain how that LOW was different but yet a LOW I know well. And the racing heart and sweaty LOW, yeah I know that one too. There’s also a LOW that my vision gets a bit skewed like I’m about to get a migraine.
So #DOC, how do you describe your LOW?