Diabetes & the Holidays

Let’s face it, during the holiday season we all tend to over indulge. There are parties to attend and everywhere you turn you are being enticed by delicious foods.  Here are some tips to survive the holidays without feeling guilty or deprived!

Plan Ahead 

Eat light for the 1st meal of the day and have a small healthy snack before the BIG meal of the day. This way, you aren’t ‘starving’ and ready to eat everything in sight. Make sure the snack is carb free or at least very low in carbs so you don’t sabotage your blood glucose level (think veggie tray or cheese without the crackers).

If you take insulin, plan the time of your bolus appropriately and remember to check multiple times after the meal. Traditional holiday foods tend to be difficult to bolus for. How many carbs were in that 1 table spoon of mashed potatoes? What about the gravy? Oh, and I had 1/2 of a roll also- you get the idea. You may have to give yourself multiple corrections so that you don’t spike so high after the meal. You can also help decrease spikes by going for a walk after the meal or partaking in a friendly game of tag football in the front yard.

Choosing Foods

There is no reason that you can’t have your holiday favorites but be careful not to over do it! Choose smaller portion sizes, make sure to choose non starchy veggies, and be selective. If mashed potatoes are your favorite, skip the rolls.

Dessert and Alcohol 

Whenever I have dessert I always ask for a “diabetic portion”. Think about sharing that slice of pumpkin pie with someone else. Maybe even make your own diabetic friendly sweet to bring to your relatives home (sugar free pudding pie, replace sugar with Stevia in a favorite recipe etc.).

Keep in mind that many holiday themed cocktails have a lot of sugar in them! For many people, alcohol tends to LOWER blood glucose so keep that in mind when consuming beer, wine, and liquor.

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MOST importantly take the time to make wonderful memories with your family and friends! 

Diabetes & Dating

I figured this would be a good topic to bring up shortly after Valentine’s Day… diabetes and dating. As if dating isn’t awkward (& sometimes complicated) on it’s own I am facing the task of do it with diabetes.

I’ve been out of the dating game for a LONG time but it’s about time I get back out there again. I don’t have a ton of experience with this and I’m intrigued with how it’s going to go. Will it be a big deal to some people? There are so many people that don’t know much about type 1 diabetes and even worse there are people that have incorrect information about it.

I’m certainly not looking for someone to take care of my diabetes for me, I do that just fine on my own but I need someone that is open to learning about it and would know what to do in case of an emergency.  If my life was in the hands of my ex during an emergency I surely would have died. While I don’t want someone to be afraid to be around me, I need people that care about me to understand how serious it can be and how it impacts my life.

I suppose I would have to share this information on my first date after taking out my glucometer to check my blood sugar or my insulin pump to bolus for a meal. Questions are good and something I prefer rather than people making assumptions. I am not going to get up from the table to bolus insulin. I don’t expect others to get up from the table when their pancreas secretes insulin. 😉

Diabetes is a part of who I am. If you don’t like it, you can’t like me and that’s fine. There are things that are ‘deal breakers’ for people and me having diabetes may be one of them. I accept that and would be thankful for that person’s honesty and promptly move on. Kissing a few frogs is nothing new to me. It’s the price we pay for the value of the lessons learned.

Love, peace, & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

American Girl Doll Diabetes Care Kit

Just wanted to share something that I saw in the news recently that I thought was great. For anyone who grew up with American Girl dolls themselves or have a child that loves these…

There is now a diabetes care kit available as an accessory! How great is that?! For years there have been many choices such as hearing aids, wheel chairs etc. but it wasn’t until this year that diabetes was represented. From what I read, there was a petition going around trying to make this happen for a long time. How special for a young girl to have this option to make the doll more like her if that’s what she chooses to do.

I’ve always been fond of the American Girl dolls & the company itself. Good job American Girl, I applaud you.

If your curious here’s a picture of what’s included in the kit as well as one with a little girl & her doll, both wearing their insulin pumps. Precious!

 

Type 1 Diabetes Myths

Diabetes myths debunked:

Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.

Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths each year than breast cancer & AIDS combined.

Myth: Eating too much sugar will cause diabetes.

Fact: Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics & unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease (it is an autoimmune disease). Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics & lifestyle factors.

Myth: People with diabetes should eat a special diet or special ‘diabetic food’.

Fact: A healthy meal for people with diabetes is the same type of meal that would be considered healthy for anyone.

Myth: Type 1 diabetes is a ‘children’s disease’.

Fact: A person can be diagnosed at any age & you can never outgrow it. More than 1/2 of the people diagnosed with Type 1 are over the age of 18.

Myth: Insulin cures Type 1 diabetes.

Fact:The use of external (man made) insulin manages the disease. Currently, there is no cure.

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

This literally was just my reaction when my friend asked what type one diabetes was and she said she knew it didn't have to do with sugar. @Allison j.d.m j.d.m Rice Stoudnour:

When Non Diabetics Post Pictures Of Junk Food And Do That!!!:

Insurance Open Enrollment

Long time no see sugarnspice diabetes blog! I couldn’t think of a better time to reconnect than insurance open enrollment time! While I was enjoying some R&R in Puerto Rico I was informed by co workers that our office was changing medical insurance carries for 2016. When I arrived home I was shocked by the premium increase as well as how the coverage differed! My office offers a high deductible plan (to use with a Health Care Spending Account) & a PPO plan (with the option of having a Flexible Spending Account). It should go without saying that as a Type 1 diabetic, I require the PPO plan.

As it turns out, in 2016 my out of pocket cost will increase by $132/month & I will have to pay more out of pocket for insulin pump supplies due to changes in coverage. I am grateful to not require a family plan as the increase on that plan is $540/month! The last few weeks have been stressful as I’ve had to sort through this. I do not qualify for tax credits/subsidies on plans offered through the Healthcare Market Place because my employer offers group coverage that is considered “affordable” & meets the standards. Here is a definition from the healthcare.gov website:

Employer insurance is considered affordable under the health care law if the employee’s share of the premium for the lowest priced plan available that would cover the employee only — not the employee’s family — is 9.56% or less of their household income. People offered job-based coverage that’s affordable and provides minimum value aren’t eligible for a premium tax credit if they buy a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The PPO plan offered by my employer DOES exceed 9.56% of my household income. You ask why then would I not be eligible for tax credits/subsidies on plans offered through the Healthcare Market Place? Well… because my employer also offers that high deductible plan which does not exceed that set amount.How would any Type 1 diabetic survive on a high deductible plan? I certainly could not survive with a $6,000 deductible (& then still paying 20% after that) & $8,000 out of pocket max. Therefore, I have no choice then to sign up for the PPO & figure out the finances later. My bank account can not afford having this insurance but my health can not afford not to have insurance.

Side note #1: Can someone please explain to me why insulin pump supplies (not the actual pump) are covered under Durable Medical Equipment (DME) & not pharmacy benefits?! Here is a quote from the Social Security website:

Durable medical equipment is equipment which can withstand repeated use…

Last time I checked, my disposable insulin reservoirs & infusion sets can NOT be reused.

Side note #2: Why is it that abortion services (elective & non elective) are covered on my new plan at the low cost of a $20-$40 co-pay (depending on the type of setting it’s done in) & I’ve been stressed to tears trying to figure out how to make the coverage for my pump supplies work?! This is so discouraging.

This post is more or less a rant but I hope that it sheds some light on one diabetics situation. I wish everyone luck with their own situations during the 2016 open enrollment time.

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

6th Annual Diabetes Blog Week 5/11/15 – 5/17/15

I have registered Sugar n Spice Diabetes to participate in the 6th Annual Diabetes Blog week from 5/11 – 5/17.

http://www.bittersweetdiabetes.com/2015/05/diabetes-blog-week.html

I will post 1 blog per day on the topics outlined below:

Topic List:

Monday 5/11/15: I Can

What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could?  Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of?  Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?

Tuesday 5/12/15: Keep it to Yourself 

What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?

Wednesday 5/13/15: Clean it Out 

What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you’re mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?

Thursday 5/14/15: Changes

Today let’s talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you’d most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people’s perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.

Friday 5/15/15: Foods on Friday 

Write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.

Saturday 5/16/15: Favorites & Motivations 

If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blogpost that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don’t have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?

Sunday 5/17/15: Continuing Connections 

The very first inspiration for Diabetes Blog Week was to help connect our blogging community, and that continues to be the most important reason it’s held every year.  So let’s help foster and continue those connections as we wrap up another Dblog Week.  Share a link to a new blog you’ve found or a new friend you’ve made.  Or pick a random blog off of the Participant’s List, check it out and share it with us.

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

Successful Endo Visit

Update on my endo visit from Monday…

#1 Blood pressure was totally normal (not borderline elevated)! 124/84 to be exact!

#2 Weight is down 8 pounds.

#3 ALL blood work was normal, including my fasting blood glucose of 89 & my HbA1c of……wait for it……..5.4% !!!!! Below is a chart for an explanation of what an HbA1c means in relation to average blood glucose readings & what the ideal levels are.

#4 I have been taking an oral drug called Invokana for about 4 months now & have enjoyed the results. How this medication works is pretty neat. It works with your kidneys to lose (some) sugar through urination. The makers of the drug say you can lose 80-120 grams of glucose daily through urination. I’m using it ‘off label’ since it’s a medication for Type 2s. It has helped me to cut down on the amount of insulin I take. Since this has been working for me I asked my endo about taking it a step further & trying Invokamet instead. That combines the Invokana with Metformin. Metformin is a oral drug commonly used to treat Type 2s that decreases the amount of sugar produced by your liver & improves your body’s response to insulin. My goal with this is to help with the insulin resistance I have, by lowering the amount of insulin intake. We’ll see how the next 3 months go!

That’s all for now!

Love, health, & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

The Cost of Diabetes

2 things I know for sure: #1 money makes the world go ’round #2 healthcare is expensive. I am fortunate enough to have group healthcare offered through my employer at this time which helps out tremendously with the cost of my Type 1 diabetes. Even with this blessing in my life, I am shocked when I add up how much my diabetes cost (out of pocket) at the end of each year. Here are some stats for ya:

• As many as three million Americans may have T1D.1

• T1D accounts for $14.9 billion in healthcare costs in the U.S. each year.5

1 Type 1 Diabetes, 2010; Prime Group for JDRF, Mar. 2011

5 The United States of Diabetes: Challenges and Opportunities in the Decade Ahead, 2010; United Health Group: unitedhealthgroup.com/hrm/UNH_WorkingPaper5.pdf

For 1 month of treatment, here is an estimate of the retail cost of the supplies I currently use to treat my diabetes:

  • 4 vials of Novolog insulin $880.76
  • 20 insulin pump cartridges (part of the pump where the insulin is stored) $176.82
  • 20 insulin pump infusion sites  (part of the pump that attaches to my body) $471.70
  • 4 Dexcom continuous glucose monitor sensors $639.99
  • 200 Bayer glucose test strips $204.64

TOTAL: $ 2,373.91

*I do realize that an insulin pump is not required to treat T1D (type 1 diabetes) & is really a ‘luxury’ item but I wanted to show the retail prices of the items that I am currently using. PS the retail price of my insulin pump is $4,000 & $2,400 for the Dexcom device.*

Without my health insurance I WOULD NOT be even able to afford the cost of insulin. $880.76 is more than I pay to keep a roof over my head. My point is to show the reality of things, as they are at this current time. We could all debate our political views as they pertain to healthcare but that’s not what I’m here to do. I think that knowledge is power & that knowledge starts with awareness. You can now say you’re had your lesson for the day. You’re welcome. 😉

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

My Blood sugars were 126 before I worked out, 107 when I finished and now they are 467!!! I really want to eat my stuffed green pepper. STUPID BETIES!

Pump/CGM Updated

It’s been 2 weeks since I started using the Animas Vibe insulin pump system & I must say that I’m loving life with my new pump! I can equate getting adjusted to using a new insulin pump like getting a new cell phone. All of them have similar features & the same basic functions, just in a different format. Going from using a Medtronic device to an Animas device has been much like the time I went from using an Apple smart phone to an Android.

The first few days were annoying as it took extra time for me to do simple tasks, like blousing or viewing my insulin on board (IOB). After a slight learning curve I’m feeling like a pumping pro again. I have begun to recognize the meaning of the sounds produced by this pump without having to read the prompt on the screen. I even changed my infusion site at 3am, in bed, without turning a light on or waking my dog! That’s what I call success!

The continuous glucose monitor (CGM) has given me such peace of mind at night (especially) & while working out. I was concerned at first that I would become obsessed with looking at the CGM & constantly doing corrections to make my blood glucose ‘perfect’. I’m thankful that this has not been the case since that would be a full time job (hassle) seeing as THERE ARE NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT BLOOD SUGARS! I had a day when my readings ran on the higher side for majority of the day & I used the CGM as a tool to help gain steady readings again before bed.  I did that without obsessing or over-correcting!! Can you tell that’s a huge deal for me?

For the first time in about a year, I am actually looking forward to my upcoming endocrine appointment. The whole experience is usually not very pleasant. Ordinarily I stress about the visit weeks in advance & feel so defeated when I have a really high blood sugar during that time. UGH…. I ate those damn pita chips… my A1C is going to be .3% higher now… I’m going to disappoint my doctor & end up crying in the office (again). Must be under 6%…must be under 6%! For whatever reason, this time around I’m feeling different. I excited to show my doctor all of my new equipment & how well I’ve been doing despite the illness I’ve dealt with this winter. So, yes… I’ll be showing off. As the saying goes- if you’ve got, flaunt it!

In honor of my upcoming visit on May 4th, here are some pictures…

Type 1 Diabetes

Love, health, & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

First Impression of Animas Vibe Insulin Pump System

The first 4 hours of my day was spent obsessively looking out my window to check for the FedEx delivery truck. Was that a knock at the door? Is that a truck I hear driving over the gravel driveway? Did I hear a package being set down outside of my front door? After much anticipation I finally received the packages containing my Dexcom G4 transmitter & Animas Vibe insulin pump supplies. I tore into those boxes like a child on Christmas morning! The dog went running from the room as I scattered paper, cardboard & packing insulation all over my living room.

I like to think of myself as an ‘independent diabetic patient’ & true to that title, I wasn’t going to wait for a training session at my Endocrine office. Heck no! I took the time to read the basics & changed the settings in the new Animas pump. I even went so far as to insert the Dexcom sensor (after viewing a Youtube video- of course). All things are scary the first time & today’s experience was no exception. I want to use the new system for awhile before forming an opinion about it but so far so good! Here are some of my first impressions:

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Here’s a shot of all my lovely boxes!

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Really enjoying the smaller Animas inset footprint (left) compared to the Medtronic one (right)!

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Here’s the intimidating Dexcom (CGM) sensor inserting device. This thing made me nervous!

Stay tuned for more thoughts on the Animas Vibe system to come!

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn