Diabetes Blog Week Day 2 ‘Keep it to Yourself’

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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? 

This is a tough topic for me because I feel like I’m an open book when it comes to my diabetes. I’m always willing to share my experience & any knowledge/tips that I may have. Diabetes is such a huge part of who I am so I try my best to not hide any aspect of it from family, friends, or the world.

One thing that I don’t talk about often (if at all) is the uncertainty that I have about my health in the years to come. There was a time when fear consumed me when I thought about this, but thankfully I have a better outlook on it now. My plan is to take care of myself the best way that I can/know how & deal with the future when it becomes the present. I once read an article in the New York Times that stated type 1 diabetes reduces the normal lifespan by 5-8 years. I was in a panic. The article also addressed my biggest fear of kidney failure & dialysis. These are facts that I may have to face one day but the fact is, today is not that day. If I allowed myself to think about these things & be consumed by them, I way wonder ‘what’s the point in taking care of myself’? I think the reason I don’t talk about my fears is also because I don’t want my family to worry about me. I’m here for now & don’t expect to leave anytime soon. I believe that no matter how long a person lives, at the end, we all feel like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye. I’d like to make the best of my time on this earth & spend it doing what I love, with the ones I love & not worrying about things that are out of  my control.

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Diabetes Blog Week Day 1 ‘I can’

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So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.  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?

I’m proud of how I handle my diabetes. I don’t let it control my life, I have taken control over it. I have good diabetes days & bad days but I don’t let the bad ones stop me from trying again. I have gained a lot of knowledge & that is what gives me my power over diabetes. I’m proud of how well I manage to take care of myself because let’s face it… it’s not an easy task. Despite the fact managing diabetes can be like an second full time job, I don’t complain (often). It’s such a big part of who I am & I embrace that.

Strangely, having diabetes has brought good into my life. It makes me feel like I’m apart of something bigger than & outside the norm. It’s like I belong to a secret society or club. I love meeting other diabetics & hearing their stories. I get thrilled when I see someone else wearing an insulin pump & I always stop to talk to them. Meeting a fellow diabetic is never like meeting a stranger, it’s like catching up with an old friend.

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

Diabetes & Eating Disorders

Women’s health issues have always been an interest of mine & since my diabetes diagnosis, diabetes education is a close tie for 1st place. Discovering a topic that covers both really gets me excited!

Think about this fact: Women with Type 1 diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop an eating disorder than age-matched women without diabetes. As a type 1 myself this makes total sense to me but I don’t think information is public knowledge. In my opinion, it should be!

Below is information from the American Diabetes Association:

Eating Disorders

Research suggests that eating disorders are probably more common among women with diabetes than women who do not have diabetes.

Bulimia is the most common eating disorder in women with type 1 diabetes. Among women with type 2 diabetes, binge eating is more common.

Because both diabetes and eating disorders involve attention to body states, weight management, and control of food, some people develop a pattern in which they use the disease to justify or camouflage the disorder. Because the complications of diabetes and eating disorders can be serious or even fatal, responsible, healthy behavior is essential.

Eating disorders are illnesses with a biological basis modified and influenced by emotional and cultural factors. The stigma associated with eating disorders has long kept individuals suffering in silence, inhibited funding for crucial research, and created barriers to treatment. Because of insufficient information, the public and professionals fail to recognize the dangerous consequences of eating disorders. While eating disorders are serious, potentially life threatening illnesses, there is help available and recovery is possible.

Types of Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia (or anorexia nervosa) is an eating disorder centered around an obsessive fear of weight gain. Anorexia involves self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Although anorexia is a psychological disorder, the physical consequences are serious and sometimes life-threatening.

  • Bulimia is characterized by recurrent binge eating (the rapid controlled consumption of large amounts of food). Purging may occur with self-induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, insulin omission or reduction, fasting, severe diets, or vigorous exercise.

  • Binge Eating Disorder (also known as Compulsive Overeating) is characterized primarily by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive, or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full. While there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets and often feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge.

  • Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is a range of other disordered eating patterns that doesn’t fit the other specific types. These conditions are still serious, and intervention and attention are necessary. EDNOS, or other types of eating disorders, may include:

    • Eating problems or disordered eating with some, but not all, of the characteristics of an eating disorder; for example, people who severely restrict food intake, but who do not meet the full criteria for anorexia nervosa.

    • Chewing food and spitting it out (without swallowing).

    • Bingeing and purging irregularly, such as at times of increased stress.

Since my teenage years, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food. Between the ages of 16-18 I struggled a lot with my body image. I’ve never been a teeny tiny girl and that fact really became apparent during that time frame. In order to force my body to be ‘thin’ I limited my food intake. I skipped breakfast. I ate a snack size bag of chips or pretzels for lunch & then had a regular meal at dinner time. After some time of doing this I slightly resembled a bobble head doll. But what was important to me at the time was that I wore a 2 piece bathing suit (for the 1st time) the summer I turned 16.

Now in my 20’s I struggle again with my body image but on a much different level & with Type 1 diabetes as a factor. I’m carrying around extra weight due to the amount of insulin that I take. I’m on a carousal of needing to take insulin to live, having a harder time loosing weight put on by insulin, & having to take more insulin due to insulin resistance (from carrying extra weight). There are certainly things that I can do to improve the situation (smarter food choices, more often & to be more active). I would be lying if I didn’t say my diabetes can be discouraging since sometimes it feels like just another hurtle to jump. The only thing I can do is make the best of the cards I’ve been dealt & to make the best decisions for myself & my health. Like anything, it’s a work in progress & sometimes I just have a hard time. I know that diabetes will only get the best of my if I allow it to.

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

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