My New Insulin Pump was Approved by Insurance!

Getting new diabetes supplies/equipment makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning! I have been using the Medtronic Minimed Paradigm insulin pump for the past 4 years. This was my first experience with an insulin pump & it’s time to say goodbye & upgrade! My Medtronic has served me well & has never caused me any issues but after doing some research I decided to switch to an Animas device. Luckily, the Animas Vibe was (FINALLY) approved for use in the United States! The Vibe is an insulin pump that integrates a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) into the same device. Here is a picture of what my new set up is going to look like (yes, I did choose the pink pump):

The new device(s) have been approved by my insurance & it turns out that my coverage is pretty wonderful. 2 amazing points to share: #1 Animas is giving me a $700 trade in credit for my current pump #2 After I meet my Durable Medical Equipment (DME) deductible ALL of my supplies will be covered at 100% until January 2016! I’m less than $500 short of meeting the deductible at this point so that’s all I’m going to have to pay to get my new pump! I’ve been planning for this since last year so I maxed out my Flexible Spending Account (FSA) so I can pay my balance with un-taxed money. Isn’t it so great when things work out as planned? My order will be placed on March 31st & I will have it only a few days after that. Woo hoo! After a few weeks of use, I’ll post my thoughts on the Animas Vibe.

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

Scary Low Situation

I don’t know about you guys but, I feel like I’ve been sick way too many times this winter! I’ve had everything from a common cold, to bronchitis, to laryngitis & the latest thing being a stomach virus. This stomach virus came totally out of nowhere, without warning, & hit me like a TON OF BRICKS! Not only was I down for the count for a few days but it put me in a pretty scary situation with my diabetes. Here’s what happened:

It was a typical Thursday evening & I was eating dinner. I had tested my blood sugar & bolused my insulin to cover my carbohydrates. Suddenly, I started not feeling so well. I quickly put my dinner in the fridge & went to lay down. No sooner than I did that, I was hit with extreme nausea & diarrhea (yeah I know… TMI… oh well).  I was so overwhelmed at the time that I didn’t even think about the insulin that I had given myself to cover the food that was no longer in my body, because I was vomiting. Some time later I began feeling the effects of a low blood sugar. It was lower than I had expected it to be. The problem became that I was unable to treat the low because I was not able to keep anything down. The vomiting was out of control. I tired to slowly drink a juice box. Several times. I tried dissolving sugar on & then under my tongue. I tried fast acting glucose tablets. Nothing was staying down. All the while, I was testing & my sugar was going lower. Panic started to set in & I wondered if I should call 911. The whole time I continued to be sick & I continued to test. After what seemed like forever my blood sugar reading was magically in the 80’s! How was this even possible? I checked again just to make sure it was accurate. Sure enough, it was! I can only assume that my panic & anxiety (not to mention stress on my body from being sick) actually saved me. My body has always reacted to stress (physical & emotional) by causing an increase in blood sugar. For the first time ever I was SO thankful for that. Looking back, should I have called 911? Probably. Should I have had my Emergency Glucagon kit? Absolutely! This was a huge lesson learned for me, especially since I live alone!

A few hours later I was treated at Urgent Care & given several liters of IV fluids. My blood sugar quickly stabilized & thanks to the help of my family, I recovered in a few days. I did refill my Emergency Glucagon kit & that does give me some peace of mind for the future.

For those of you that may not know what an Emergency Glucagon kit is, there are some pictures below. Glucagon is a medication that works differently than insulin. It works by telling the body to release sugar back into the blood stream to bring blood sugar back up. It is an injectable medication (injected into the butt, arm or thigh) that works very quickly in an emergent situation. If a person has lost consciousness from a low blood sugar, they are unable to eat or drink anything to treat the low. They need someone to administer this medication for them while 911 is on the way.

In a way, I am glad this situation happened to me. It scared me enough (without terrible consequences) to make some necessary changes. I need to be better about taking precautions & making sure I have ALL of the supplies I need with me at all times. Whether at home or away, I need to be prepared. It’s wasn’t until something happened that I was able to recognize just how unprepared I was. When you know better, you can do better!

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

Technology & Diabetes: Look How Far We’ve Come

I use an insulin pump to deliver my basal insulin & mealtime insulin boluses. My basal insulin covers just what my body needs without taking any carbohydrates into account. If I did not eat a single carb all day, the insulin would not make my blood glucose go low. This is just the right amount that my body needs to carry out it’s biological functions. My mealtime insulin dosage is dependent on how many carbs I am eating at that time. I only take my pump off to shower, otherwise it’s on my at all times. We’re pretty inseparable.

Medical technology has certainly come a long way when I consider where diabetes technology started. Here is a picture of the first insulin pump that was created in 1963 by Dr. Arnold Kadish:

The first insulin pump was designed by Dr. Arnold Kadish in 1963.  It was a very large device that was essentially worn as a backpack.  A more wearable version, dubbed the “big blue brick” was developed in the late 1970s.  A lack of accuracy of the device, however, made the device more of a hindrance than a help.

Here is a picture of a pump from 2015 that also integrates a device called a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). The CGM helps a person know approximately what their current blood glucose is & whether it’s trending up,down or staying stable. Different trends are treated differently so it is extremely helpful information to have. For example, a reading of 80 & falling may become a low very fast but a reading of 80 & increases is fine. It increases the control over your blood glucose & decreases the roller coaster ups & downs. The CGM also alerts when a blood glucose is going too high or too low. This is especially helpful during the night when someone may not wake up while having a dangerously low blood glucose.

Animas Vibe (Animas + Dexcom)... I can't wait for Pen to get this.

Things are always changing & I’m thankful for that. Considering I’ll have to deal with Type 1 for the rest of my life, it’s nice to know there are devices to make it easier. Prior to using a pump I was dosing my insulin with syringes. For me, this was a hassle & I was taking way too many shots for my liking (without gaining the control I did after I started on a pump). Having an insulin pump has definitely been a blessing in my life. It’s ironic that having a device attached to me at all times has really allowed me so much freedom.

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

Things People Say to Diabetics

As part of this blog I hope to shed some light on exactly what the diabetic experience is like. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can lead to some silly comments from non-diabetics. In this post I will share comments that have actually been said to me at one time or another & my reactions to them. People… please think before you speak. If you aren’t sure about something & are curious, you should ask. Not everyone can be an expert on everything.

Win.

Does that hurt (referring to finger pricks or injection)?

Want to find out? But seriously, what do you think a needle feels like? It doesn’t feel good but it’s certainly not the worse thing in the world. With diabetes, it’s a necessary evil.

I could never do that if I had diabetes!

Then it’s a good thing you don’t have diabetes. I’m pretty sure most people would do things they don’t necessarily enjoy, if it meant keeping them alive.

Is that a pager (referring to insulin pump)?

Yes… NO it’s not a pager. It’s 2015. I actually use this to communicate with far away galaxies. Why not just ask what it is if you’re curious?

Are you going to have your legs cut off one day?

I really hope not. Limb amputations can be a consequence of not taking care of your diabetes. Two complications are nerve damage (neuropathy) & poor circulation. Neuropathy causes a loss of feeling in your feet & you may not feel pain from an injury. Poor circulation reduces your ability to heal as quickly. Complications can be avoidable or delayed if you blood glucose is in control!

I thought only old people got diabetes/you don’t look like you have diabetes.

I blame society for this misinformation. Think of the actors/actresses used in any TV commercial related to diabetes. They are all older & most of them are overweight. This is the picture most people have of diabetics but it’s simply not true. Infants can get Type 1 diabetes, adults can get Type 1 diabetes, teenagers can get Type 2 diabetes, thin people can get Type 2 diabetes. Everyone is different & there is no mold for diabetes.

You’re not that fat, how did you get diabetes?

Not that fat? Thanks… I think? This is just plain rude. Again, all people are different & have a different story. I happen to have Type 1 diabetes that is an autoimmune disease. My body has certain antibodies that attacked cells in my pancreas that caused it not to work anymore. Because I do not produce my own insulin, I have to take in through a shot (or in my case, an insulin pump).

At least it’s not something serious like cancer.

Of course I’m thankful that I don’t have cancer, duh! This comment however, is very insensitive. Please don’t compare diseases.  P.S. although it’s not as serious as cancer, it’s still serious.

What’s the big deal? You just can’t eat sugar, right?

I can eat whatever I want. Should I eat cookies, candy & cake? NO. But then again, no one should eat like that. I count how many carbohydrates I eat at a meal so that I can dose my insulin accordingly to keep the food from increasing my blood glucose too much. When an non-diabetic person eats, their body secretes insulin on it’s own. I have to take my insulin from an external source, since I don’t produce it.

Can you eat that (referring to something sweet)?

Why, does it have poison in it? It’s not just sweets that cause an increase in blood glucose. It’s any type of carbohydrate. Apple? Insulin. Bread? insulin. Candy? Insulin. Milk? Insulin. Pizza? Insulin. You get the point. It always surprises me how many people think diabetes is controlled by not eating sweets. I could probably eat an entire pizza pie without anyone saying anything but if I ate a cupcake, they would freak.

I would rather take a million shots a day instead of taking pills. Pills are the worst. 

This comment was said to me by a family member. Just note, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I think all Type 1s would love to take 1 pill per day instead of dealing with the shots/pump site changes/extra costs etc.

I would rather shoot myself in the head than do what you have to do to take care of your diabetes. I just couldn’t do it!

This. Is. So. Ridiculous. This comment was especially hurtful because it was said to me by a family member. It really doesn’t even deserve a response.

Are you shooting up drugs (referring to me doing an injection in a public place)?

Ummm… yes? I’m shooting heroin in plain sight… into… my… stomach. Some people are beyond clueless. I can’t help but to give a sarcastic reply to this comment.

You should take cinnamon/apple cider vinegar/some random ‘natural’ herbal thing, that cures diabetes. 

Please just stop talking. I have Type 1 diabetes. I will always have Type 1 diabetes. My pancreas will not start functioning again if I feed it cinnamon or drowned it in apple cider vinegar. Thanks for the expert advise though.

Do you have the bad kind of diabetes or the good kind of diabetes? 

I have the bad kind of diabetes. It’s called DIABETES. There is no bad or good type. It all stinks. Period.

Oh, your sugar is low? Hurry! Go take some insulin! 

No! Insulin lowers blood glucose. When my blood glucose is low, I need carbohydrates, not insulin.

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

I believe this applies to most of my medical problems as well as a vast amount of problems others experience.

My Diagnosis Story

The year was 2008, I was 20 years old (2 months away from 21). I had just started working a new job and was excited to have health insurance benefits after being without for over a year. The services I was receiving at Student Health on my college’s campus was pretty much limited to urgent care when I had a cold. I made my appointment with a Primary Care Physician as soon as I received my insurance cards in the mail. I was referred to this doctor by my manager, at the time. I happily went to my appointment for a check up, blood work, & to establish care at the new practice.

All went well & I didn’t think twice about checking my blood test results. I was 20 years old after all & didn’t have a care in the world when it came to my health. To my surprise I received a call from the doctor herself telling me that I needed to come to the office right away to discuss my blood glucose level. As it turned out, my fasting blood glucose was in the 500’s and my A1c was over 15%. During this time I had very limited knowledge of Diabetes  that came from society & some family members that had Type 2. Armed with almost no knowledge I didn’t think my results where that big of a deal. I didn’t bat an eye when the doctor diagnosed me at Type 2, started me on Metformin & sent me home with a glucometer. Due to my family history of Type 2 I wasn’t that surprised and I certainty did not question the diagnosis of the doctor.

Over the course of the next year my body was on a roller coaster of treatments. The Metformin did little to nothing to help lower my blood glucose despite increasing the dose every few weeks. The only thing increasing the dosage did was to increase the awful gastrointestinal side effects that I was experiencing. After Metformin proved to be no help, I was put on Actos, followed by Glucophage. My doctor was very insensitive & labeled me as “non-compliant”. She was constantly telling me that if I didn’t change my behavior I was going to suffer the consequences. There were several occasions when she mentioned me going blind and possible death. I was told that I needed to lose weight because the fact that I was overweight in combination with my family history was why I was in this position in the first place. SIDE NOTE: Years later I did request my records & saw that I was 12 lbs over the ideal weight for my height & age, certainty not at a huge risk for developing diabetes. Needless to say, I became very depressed. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I was following the directions from this doctor & at the same time was being told I was non-compliant with my treatment. I felt like my body was betraying me. I was too young for this! If I was in this boat now, what would my life be like years down the road?

Feeling like I wasn’t getting any help or compassion from my doctor, I took to the internet to do my own research. This was by far the best decision I ever made! I learned about the disease process of diabetes (Type 1 & 2). I learned about insulin therapy & read many medical journals that suggested insulin for Type 2’s in order to preserve working beta cells in the pancreas. Ah ha! Maybe I needed some insulin! When I approached my doctor with this genius idea, it was not received well. She refused to give me rapid acting insulin to take with meals. Her reasoning? I was depressed & she was worried that I would intentionally overdose myself on insulin. Yes. She really said that. Her compromise was to stop oral medication & give me Lantus (a 24 hour long acting insulin). My plan was to take this insulin in the meantime & FIND A NEW DOCTOR!

The new doctor was like a breath of fresh air. After telling him my story his words were, “Who told you that you had Type 2 diabetes & why where you not sent to the hospital?” This was something that I had never considered. I took my diagnosis for what it was & never once thought I had been misdiagnosed. Before leaving his office, I was put on a rapid acting insulin regimen & had filled out the paperwork to get an insulin pump. This man was my savior. After a year of being told this was all my fault, I finally had someone to listen to me, someone that wanted to help me!

After transferring care to an Endocrinologist, I received the proper blood tests necessary to truly determine the type of diabetes I had. I never even knew there was such a thing & I was so excited to get some answers! The results were in… I tested positive (for at least 1 of the antibodies) seen in people with Type 1 diabetes. A C peptide test showed that my pancreas was not producing any insulin. Suddenly everything made sense! The reason the Meformin helped slightly to lower my blood glucose was because I was still in a ‘Honeymoon’ Phase. This is a time that can vary in length during which a Type 1 has some functioning beta cells in their pancreas. Over time, my body attacked those cells until I was left with no insulin production.

I am in a much better place now than I was back then & I’m so thankful! I’m hoping to use this blog as a way to reach out to others & share my personal experience. No one should have to fight diabetes alone & no one should ever feel like they don’t have a voice. I would like to share my ups & down with people that know where I’m coming from. This life is a crazy beautiful journey & I’m along for the ride!

Love, Health, & Happiness,

Jessica Lynn