Tag Archives: Insulin pump

The unthinkable

The unthinkable happened.

Seven years ago I had feared the worst. My first marathon, it was pouring rain. The marathon had yet to start, and I was in the porta-potty for the umpteenth time when I heard a loud, stomach-dropping splash in the grossness below. I thought it was my pump. It was not. Thank freaking every god in the world! It was one of my electrolytes bottles.

From that day forward I have been beyond careful. I am, unequivocally, the slowest person when it comes to washrooms. About a month ago I was in a long washroom line with a friend. We were the next up for the two available stalls. She told the girls behind us not to worry, she was quick. I gave them an apologetic look: I’m not.

You see, I don’t hide my insulin pump. It is almost always clipped to my belt loop, or when I’m not wearing a belt, the waistband of my pants or skirts or shorts. That means nearly every time I go to the washroom, I am not only pulling down my pants, but I’m also either unclipping my pump and holding on to it, or trying to ensure the weight of it doesn’t cause my belt to unloop and drop to the seriously unsanitary grounds below.

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The other day, I was not wearing a belt. I was wearing high-waisted jeans. My brain was in a post finals fog; I had only just finished minutes prior. I peed. I grabbed some toilet paper. I heard a clang.

The clip on the back of my insulin pump had wriggled free of my jeans. The infusion was in my stomach. It was the 43 inch tubing attached instead of the 23. Had it been the 23, it might have been saved. But no…

It was in the toilet bowl – the pee-filled toilet bowl.

Oh. My. Freaking. Ewwwww!

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Sure, I’ve heard that urine is “supposedly” sanitary. I learned from one of my lovely campers back when I was a camp counsellor in Maine years ago that pee is the cure for athlete’s foot. Still, that knowledge did not give me comfort. This thing is vital to my life; it should not be covered in pee.

And the worst thing, it actually proved waterproof. That means, no new pump for me.

Ewwww!

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Medtronic Global Heroes Part 2: Science!!!

About 15 years ago I met a couple of gals, who I kid you not spent an entire summer trying to convince me that science was the coolest thing on the planet. I was a hard sell; after a lack lustre experience with it in high school, and an eye for the words, I never imagined science to be anything more than something I had to do. (Little did I know then that it would turn into my life journey.) Had those gals had the Medtronic Headquarters at their fingertips, they may have had a bit more success of shooting science love into my heart!

On day two of being a Global Hero, my new besties and I toured the Medtronic facility. Holy freaking hell!!! This place was like serious nerdville for us diabetics (and all the other technology enhanced peeps as well). We got to see medical devices in the making; check out the behind-the-scene intricacies of a study that is working to make infusion insertion less painful on us wee pin cushions; and talk to the very scientists whose brains are working every day at making our lives better to live.

Medtronic headquarter.

The Medtronic logo: sick to healthy.

And that’s where Tom comes in. This man, wow! I don’t think I will ever forget his voice; the light in his eyes; the passion in his words. For years, pretty much since I got the pump, I have been lamenting its size. It is the thickness of a ‘90s style pager, and the size of a deck of cards. That is TOO big. When I wear it on my belt, my shirts ride up all the time because of it. Tight-fitting jeans are a challenge because of it. And dresses, I look like a bloody hunchback when wearing a cardigan because, unless I want to sport the look of square boobs, it ain’t fitting in my bra! So naturally, my question to Tom was:

“Are they ever going to get smaller?”

Before I could speak another word, before I could tell him my issues, he looked me straight in the eyes and the words just shot out of his mouth faster than a cannonball, arms waving every which way. He fully admitted the technology wasn’t good enough. He wants it smaller, thinner – the thickness of an iPhone. You’re not satisfied, he said, I’m not satisfied!

Sure, I could have been sold a bill of goods, but if you’d seen those eyes, I think you’d agree, this man is going to do everything he can to get insulin pumps to the point where I will be satisfied, where the 100s of 1000s of other insulin pump users will be satisfied. I’m not gonna lie, I kinda, totally fell in love with this man!

Insulin pump technology: "Not good enough!"

Insulin pump technology: “Not good enough!”

Walking through headquarters, Big Ring kept pontificating the benefits for the employees – they had to have had a fantastic onsite daycare; they must have a state-of-the-art gym; a basketball court likely… maybe even a napping room! Not only the passion of the employees, but the grounds – it was like a university campus in of itself. But me, I wasn’t thinking of any of that. As soon as I saw the electron microscopes in action (which I had only just discovered in my microbiology text the week prior) I was in serious lala land – coolest things EVER!!!

My girlfriends of 15 years ago would be so proud – Science!!!

Ahh, but the tour wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The moment I walked through those doors, I felt somewhat like a Scooby Doo intruder about to be unmasked. You see, I was wearing a super cute dress, and as mentioned the pump doesn’t hide well, at all, in dresses. Normally that’s not an issue; I’ve used this sucker as a fashion accessory for six years now. But the thing is, my pump, ahem, isn’t a Medtronic Pump!!!

INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT!

Okay, so it’s not like it was a secret, Medtronic knew my pump wasn’t theirs. They don’t discriminate against other companies when selecting Global Heroes. But still, I was touring the Medtronic facility, I was meeting the Medtronic scientists and engineers, and would be a handshake distance from one of the top big wigs of the whole company! I could have at least disguised my pump as a Medtronic one. That is all.

Stephen Oesterle, Senior VP for Medicine and Technology.

Stephen Oesterle, Senior VP for Medicine and Technology.

Leaving Medtronic, my head was spinning with information and details and things I wanted to do, things I needed to do. But it was a precious little boy’s face who filled the majority of my brain capacity. Lightening Bolt, my four year old nephew who was diagnosed in June with type-1 – he is going to be the beneficiary of Tom’s, and all the other Medtronic employees, passion! Thank you.

The future of T-1.

The future of T-1.

Diabetes: The frienemy strikes again

Oh Diabetes. Dear, Dear, DEAR Diabetes. This was to be your day. The day the spotlight was to shine all over your youness. The day when you would think you’d want to look your best, you know, have a fresh-faced glow about you, especially in the face of flashing lights and snapping cameras. You’d think you’d want to show the world what a lowly medium, such as myself, can do with your greatness jabbed into my side.

But you’ve never really been an easy one have you, never really gone with the flow, why start now, why put on a phoney face for the reporters, hey. Nah, you wouldn’t do that.

Sure you had me fooled, weeks of cooperation, nary a hiccup to be heard. But that was your plan all along wasn’t it? I had just sat down to my desk, had just lifted my steeping cup of matcha for a quick sip before the phone interview was to begin, when you and your frienemy greatness struck once again.

There was a loud clicking noise my ears couldn’t quite detect, like the sound of an old grandfather clock when you’re trying to sleep. I thought it was coming from the bathroom, but just as I was about to get up, I felt a vibrating sensation rubbing against my back. When my hand reached around, the only thing there was your insulin pump. Before I could even contemplate what was going on, the phone rang.

And you were laughing weren’t you?

I muddled my way through the interview, talked in nonsensical sentences filled with uhms and ers, I told the daily newspaper reporter all that I had achieved athletically, was it with you, or despite you, I can’t recall, all the while wondering what the hell you were doing. You made it hard to forget what with starting to blare a high decibel alarm on top of the clicking and vibrating.

The interview lasted just shy of a half an hour. When I hung up the phone, I saw the alarm message on the pump, no delivery, call service. And I could hear that cackle of yours. I had five minutes, five minutes, to dig out my old backup insulin pump, program her, load her up with insulin and get connected to my infusion. Any other day I would have waited. Any. Other. Day.

Oh bloody, effing hell!

Oh bloody, effing hell!

But this day, this day was all about you, and the fact I wear a bloody insulin pump while running. The photographer was on his way, scheduled to be here in mere seconds, I could not exactly show off an out-of-service pump now could I?

But hey, guess what jerk face, it was actually ME who had the last laugh. I made it out to that photo shoot, my cheeks all aglow, backup pump attached, dosing away, and it was my greatness they wanted – not yours.

Photo courtesy Vancouver Sun, Nick Procaylo

Photo courtesy Vancouver Sun, Nick Procaylo

Ha. Who’s laughing now?

Here’s a link to the article: http://www.vancouversun.com/sunrun/event/Blood+sugar+levels+balance+marathon+runner/10947649/story.html

THURSDAY’S SPEED INTERVALS:
6 p.m. BG before: 7.6
Temp. basal: -50% (1 hour)
Carbs: banana (no bolus) 30 minutes before
Workout: :30-1:00-1:30-2:00-2:30-2:30-2:00-1:30-1:00-:30 with 1:30 walk after each
Distance: 7.70 km
Time: 49:54
Average interval pace: 4:11 min/km
7:30 p.m. BG after: 5.1
Temp. basal: +50% (1.5 hours)

Memory lapsed F bombs

Diabetes frustration No. 5,061:

When I went on the insulin pump almost 5 years ago, my biggest fear was that I would forget to administer the insulin. Taking needles, you don’t forget. But pressing a button, that seemed all too easy to forget. And yet, for almost five years, I rarely, if ever, forgot – until this last month or so.

I don’t know what is wrong with me. I don’t know why I keep forgetting to take my insulin. But there’s something not clicking in my brain. I test my blood sugars. I calculate the carbs. But I don’t input them into my pump. Some weeks, it’s happening multiple times. What the fricking hell?

This is an issue, a major issue, I need insulin, I survive on insulin. Without it, my blood sugars go through the roof, my energy goes down the drain, and my attitude, let’s just say it’s a get out of my face if you know what’s good for you kind of attitude.

Friday evening, at about 8 p.m., just as I was about to start thinking about an evening snack, the F bombs started flying. Are you fricking kidding me? I forgot – again??? Unlike other times, this one had the potential for the worst no-bolus disaster.

I had a race Saturday morning.

My pre-race preparations are always calculated. The week leading up to a race, I am normally so careful about what I ingest, the types of runs/exercise I do in the week, how much sleep I get, the times I’m taking my insulin, and the insulin itself. The day before, those calculations are elevated even more, all mostly to ensure I have optimal blood sugars the day before, the night before, and the morning of a race.

But a missed bolus, in the evening, not remembering for two hours post dinner, not having much time at all for a correction and then no time for re-correction after they finally bottom out, which they inevitably do, is, oh what’s that word, a cluster freaking $%*#!!!

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

This close to flushing the little Jerkface!

This close to flushing the little Jerkface forever!

I’ve been stressed lately. I’ve had some major life changes. But for 27 years, it’s been me and Dear Diabetes. That doesn’t change just because life changes.

Race report coming in the next post…

Diabetic superstar, meh

I wasn’t planning on writing about this; it was something that happened about a month ago, and at the time, I just didn’t have the energy to put into it. But my thoughts on the topic wouldn’t stop, and this weekend, they went into overdrive. So, here goes.

Last month, diabetic social media circles were a buzz with news about type-1 beauty queen Miss Idaho. Can you believe it, they fluttered. She wore her insulin pump on her dress and bikini – for ALL to see!!! Shocking, right! Congratulations, they applauded. Good for you, they clapped. Wahoo, score one for Team Type 1, they cheered. And for those who actually think the Huffington Post has any credibility (please, don’t get me started on that!) they, too, endorsed her as an inspiration for all diabetic women. Only a few expressed their disgust towards it, up in arms about this young woman exploiting her body in such a mind-dumbing experience.

But me, frankly, I didn’t get it.

I didn’t understand what made this young woman such a diabetes superstar. I wasn’t angrily opposed at her choice to participate in the beauty pageant. If she’s confident enough to prance around in a barely there bikini and doll herself up in Dynasty style sparkly gowns and sound like a broken record with “World Peace” then that’s her prerogative. But seriously, how does standing in front of a panel of drooling and catty judges – with your insulin pump on display – make you a superstar?

I don’t get it.

If that truly is all it takes, I should be the most famous diabetic chick around. I have never hidden my pump. Since Day 1 it has been clicked on my belt or my waist band for all to see. Even with most dresses, it’s not obscured. I don’t have ample breasts, so I can’t store it there, not unless I want to start the square boob trend; I have no use for so-called “diabetic-helpful” waistbands and leg bands; nor am I keen to stuff it in an already snug jeans pocket.

It's been a full display accessory for almost five years now.

It’s been a full display accessory for almost five years now.

This weekend, I swear my insulin pump must have been glowing neon with the amount of times I was stopped. Over two days, I had three people stop me to ask about it – two complete strangers and one acquaintance. (Likely due to the infusion in my arm; my go-to stabbing spot as of late.)

The arm infusion almost always brings out the masses.

The arm infusion almost always brings out the masses.

It’s not the first time this has happened. I’ve been stopped by moms whose children have diabetes, a pregnant woman with diabetes, a man whose wife is a nurse, a couple of doctors whose baby nephew has diabetes, a co-worker whose twin has diabetes, an elderly woman whose brother  is on the pump, curious onlookers who have no diabetes in their family, etc., etc.. They’re all very apologetic, almost like they feel they’re being intrusive. Not at all. I have no problem telling them about it, answering their questions, sharing a bit of my story, listening to theirs. And frankly, I feel their stories are far more rock star than a potato-proud beauty queen.

The mom who sews her little boy jet pack style inserts for his insulin pump on the back of his onesies so he’d feel more superhero than sickly. SUPERSTAR!

The mom in the retail outlet who had been researching insulin pumps for her teenage daughter and used me as another studying tool. SUPERSTAR!

The pregnant woman on the seawall who proved the myths of diabetes wrong with her watermelon belly and wanted to learn more about arm infusions. SUPERSTAR!

The elderly lady who was shocked to see the infusion in my arm, but open-minded enough to want to learn more for the benefit of her brother. SUPERSTAR!

Maybe I’m wrong about the effectiveness this beauty queen had with her insulin-pump strutting walk, but I just don’t see why her act of simple beauty is poised as diabetic inspiration. I’m sure she’s got some great qualities, maybe even superstar ones, but truly, a month has passed and all I remember is a pretty young woman dressed to the nines with an insulin pump accessory attached to the outside of her dress. I see pretty people all the time – some are most definitely NOT superstars.

So, the next time you see an insulin pump on display, please don’t automatically label the person attached to it as heroic, because not all of us are. Ask questions first, then decide: Superstar? Or not?

TODAY’S INTERVALS:
1:15 p.m. BG before: 7.4
Temp. basal: none
Carbs: (45 minutes prior, no bolus) 1/2 PB and banana sandwich (30g)
Time: 36:33
Distance: (10′ warmup with 4×30 second sprints, 4×500 metre sprints, 10′ cool down)
Average interval pace: 4:45 min/km
2 p.m. BG after: 5.2

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Cue the drum roll…

Thanks to @theBigRing1 for drawing the name!

Thanks to @theBigRing1 for drawing the name!

Congratulations jmosh21!!!  You’re the lucky winner of $60 worth of Level Life products. Please email me your contact details and I’ll forward them to the company to send out the package 🙂

The hidden faces of Dear Diabetes

I am not disabled. I am not disabled. I am not disabled… but wait, am I?

For more than 20 years I have vehemently fought the “disabled” label. I am not disabled, I have said. I can do anything you can do and probably even more, I have said. Call me disabled and see what happens to your knees, I have said.

But the reality is, no matter how hard I fight it, I do have limitations. Yes, I can do anything I put my heart and sweat into, but I can’t do any of it without Dear Diabetes. I can’t go for a run without diabetes, I can’t go on a hike without diabetes, I can’t have a baby without diabetes, I cant eat at a restaurant without diabetes, heck, I can’t even sleep without the bloody disease.

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Faces of Dear Diabetes part 1: (clockwise) stopped by a low BG on a ride; traveling with diabetes; running with diabetes; waiting out a low BG before driving.

Diabetes does not define me, but it is very much a part of me.

It doesn’t prevent me from walking, talking, reading, writing, working or schooling. But when my blood sugars are so low, and I can’t speak without my tongue getting twisted, I can’t lift my head without a screaming siren roaring inside, I can’t see without blurred objects swimming throughout my vision, I can’t drink without three quarters of the juice slopping down my chin, and sometimes, I’m left in a fetal position silently crying out inside, “help, help, help” – try and tell me that’s not a disability. Or, when my blood sugars are so high, I can’t lift my limbs, my legs, arms, head so heavy, it’s as though a 10 tonne anvil were attached, and my eyes, so droopy it’s as though I downed a bottle of Gravol, and my stomach so queasy, it’s all I can do not to puke – tell me that’s not a disability.

And the time spent on this disease, ohmygawd, it’s shocking. Most people see me test my blood sugars and that’s it. They don’t see the number of times I test in a day – before every meal and snack, two hours after every meal and snack, at least once, oftentimes more, in a night, every half hour for two hours prior to exercise, and then during exercise, every half hour for two hours after exercise, every 15 minutes for an hour or more after a low, every half hour for two hours, or more, after a high, before driving, etc., etc.. They don’t see the number of times in a day I disappear to a washroom to wash my hands, or up the stairs to safely dispose of lancets and test strips and infusion sets; or the time it takes to change my infusion multiple times a week, or the math it takes, even with the bolus wizard, to figure out insulin doses every time I eat. They see a low, but they don’t see the effort it takes to come out of that low, which by the way, happens multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. They don’t see that I can’t work when my blood sugars are low, that I can’t read, I can’t write, I can’t run, I can’t drive, I can’t function. They don’t see me documenting my blood glucose readings every time I test, every time before I eat. They don’t see the regular reviews, the calculations, the analyzing done. They don’t see the intricate, behind-the-scenes diabetes.

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Faces of Dear Diabetes part 2: dressing with diabetes; pregnancy with diabetes; waiting out a nasty low BG mid run.

For me, when all is said and done, that averages to about 1,070 minutes a week, or 17.83 hours per week – almost a full day a week dedicated solely to Dear Diabetes. If I did the math correct, that’s 20 days a year; 493 days (1 year and 4 months) over a 27-year span – all diabetes!

Tell me again that that is not a major hindrance, that it’s not a plague of limitations and time constraints. Can you? I can’t.

And so, when I heard from a fellow blogger last summer about the government’s Disability Tax Credit, of which I likely would qualify for,  I had to somewhat drop my shield when it came to the disability label. This credit would not only help when I file my taxes every year, it could also potentially result in a significant credit of arrears. I could not pass that up.

After months of working through the system, several frustrations dealing with paperwork and ensuring others who were filling out on my behalf (I’m looking at you hot endo!) did so correctly, I was approved.

So there you go, I have the documentation and the money that officially labelled me in the government’s eyes as disabled, but call me disabled, and you might still get a swift kick in the knees. Some things just can’t be broken 😉

YESTERDAY’S RUN:

  • 4:45 p.m. BG before: 8.9
  • Carbs: 3 jujubes 1.5 hours before + 2 jujubes 45 minutes before, no bolus
  • Temp. basal: -50 per cent (45 minutes)
  • Time: 47 minutes
  • Distance: 8.72 km
  • Average pace: (3×15′ tempo) (1) 5:12 min/km (2) 5:15 min/km (3) 5:27 min/km
  • 5:45 p.m. BG after: 5.0
  • Temp. basal: +50 per cent (1 hour)

For more information on the Disability Tax Credit, visit these sites:
• Diabetes Advocacy: http://www.diabetesadvocacy.com/DTC.htm
• Canadian Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/know-your-rights/tax-credits-your-rights

Bananas and blood gushers

THIS: Ah bananas, they’re like the runners’ go-to fruit. So many benefits: instant energy boost, spiked full of natural electrolytes, and easy to digest… maybe a little TOO easy.

For me, bananas have never really been a first choice. I’m quite picky on the type of banana I eat. It cannot have any indication of brown spots forming, but it also can’t be too green. Really, it’s a small window for bananas and me. And following a hard-run race, I can’t even look at a banana, not even at a fully skinned banana; they induce an instant urge to hurl.

But on Sunday, just before heading out for a quick-paced tempo run, I noticed my BG plummeting. I needed something quick, and I needed something easy on the belly. The only thing that came to mind was banana. Half of it in my mouth and out the door I went.

I kid you not, not even five minutes later and my belly was pissed off grumbling, not quite writhing, but enough for me to know an angry war was building within. It didn’t bother me too much on the run as I was pretty focused on trying to keep up my pace. But man, the second I stopped, BAM! it attacked. I could NOT get to a washroom fast enough.

Now, you might ask me what else I ate prior to going out, maybe there was another culprit, but no, there was nothing, other than banana, out of the ordinary… and this isn’t the first time. In the last month, I’ve had a couple bananas and they’ve attacked every time. Coincidence? Nah.

No more bananas for me!

no-bananas-fishing

THAT: I didn’t realize I could bleed so much.

The other night, while watching the first episode of Game of Thrones, I was lying on the couch when I felt an uncomfortable sensation in my arm, right at the area of my infusion. I didn’t think much of it, just shifted my body so as not to continue irritating it. A few hours later, I glanced down at said arm, and HOLY FREAKING BLOODY HELL! My infusion site was on the verge of exploding!!!

When I removed it the bloody volcano erupted – blood gushing, shooting straight up into the air, splattering all over my bathroom counter, sink, floor, even my pants and slippers, and streaming down my arm. I practically went through an entire roll of toilet paper trying to sop up and cauterize the bloody mess gushing out.

Guess that’s what I can expect if I ever get stabbed in an artery 😉

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The bruised remnants of a gusher.

THE OTHER: I went for a hard interval run after work today, the same day as doing a hard noon-hour yoga session. I’m not sure it was the wisest decision, but I chose to do it because yesterday was mucky wet and today was sunshiny beautiful. And you know what, despite my legs feeling like jelly right now, I actually really enjoyed it… that is, once I was done 🙂

TODAY’S RUN:

  • 5:30 p.m. BG before: 7.7
  • Temp. basal -30 per cent
  • Carbs: 1/2 Larabar
  • Distance: 5.82 km
  • Time: 34 minutes
  • Sets: 5′ warmup, 3×3′ hard, 1′ easy, 2×5′ hard, 1 easy, 5′ cool down
  • Average interval pace: 3′: 4:43 min/km 5′: 5:01 min/km
  • 6:15 p.m. BG after: 8.2
  • Temp. basal +30 per cent

Hope you’re having a super fantastic day!