Let’s get moving

Exercise…love it or hate it? Interesting question, especially for today. To explain why, let me give you a rundown of my afternoon:

Around 2pm, my boss tells me if I’m caught up on everything, I should leave and get an early start on the weekend. Awesome, I think. I’ve got enough time to fit in a bike ride before my sister-in-law (who’s spending the night with us) arrives. So I get home, plot out a nice 24 mile loop, and head out on my way. About 8 miles in, I hear the noise that no cyclist ever wants to hear: psssssssssssshhhhh. FANTASTIC. I LOVE flat tires. I pull over to the side of the road, get out my spare tube, CO2 inflator, and get to work. (Did I mention it was 90˚ outside?) Since this isn’t my first roadside tire change, it actually went pretty smoothly, so I get ready to start riding again, and I look at the pump to see how my blood sugar is doing:

This is not what you want to see when you still have 16 miles to go, and have already used 1 of the 2 PowerBal gels that you brought with you. I ripped open the other gel pack, gulped it down, and started pedaling. A few miles later, I check the pump again, this time it’s at 84, still with a down arrow. Knowing that when it comes to lows, the CGM is usually higher than the actual number, I know I’m in trouble. At this point, I decided to call my wife for a ride home, as I can feel myself running out of juice. No answer. I tried a couple of friends in the area…no answer there either. Well crap. Using the old internal GPS, I routed the shortest, most downhill route home and started back. I finally made it home (and since I had suspended the pump, my blood sugar at least leveled off rather than continuing to drop), but still frustrated that once again, diabetes had foiled a perfectly good workout plan.

I like cycling, running, and other forms of exercise, but I often find it really frustrating how difficult it is to do while managing the whole insulin/food/blood sugar issue. I’ve got the normal after-work routine figured out, but any time I change one variable (time of day, duration of exercise, etc.), I never know what’s going to happen. That’s the part I hate. I don’t want to jump ahead to the “after-cure” post topic, but I often fantasize about being able to just go for a run or bike ride, whenever the mood strikes me. Maybe one of these days…

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To carb or not to carb?

To me, it’s not really a question. I love carbs. They are delicious. I understand the thinking behind the low-carb diet thing, but it’s not the method I would choose for weight control. I would much rather go for a long run or bike ride to work off a big meal rather than completely deprive myself of a food that I want. Of course I think about carbs, but it’s primarily because it affects my insulin dosage, not because I’m keeping a running tally of the intake. If you ask me, we diabetics have enough numbers to keep track of, I just don’t have the capacity to get down to the complete caloric breakdown of everything that enters my body. That’s not to say I feel everyone should just go nuts and eat whatever they want, after all, you don’t want to end up on Maury Povich. But at long as you’re reasonable with what you eat, you take the insulin to cover it, and you exercise to keep your body healthy, I think that’s enough.

I’m not sure if that addresses today’s blogging prompt, but it’s the best I can do. I considering just playing off of Kerri and writing about the crab’s evil sea-cohort, the carp. But I powered through. Sort of.

You Bastard.

My Biggest Supporter(s)

I have a hard time making decisions. Just ask anyone who’s ever been out to eat with me. First there’s the whole “where do we go?” thing, and once we finally reach a consensus on that, I have to select something from the menu. We’ve all been there. I felt the same way when prompted to choose my biggest diabetes supporter for today’s blog post. Since I couldn’t pick just one, here’s a menu for you to choose from:

  • My lovely wife – whether she likes it or not, she’s always there to hear me complain about living with this disease. Like today, when I returned from my run after a low 2.5 miles in. Sure, she doesn’t actually know that it feels like my brain is attached to my skull with rubber bands with about an inch of air around it, but she knows that I feel bad, and she listens to me as I shove food in my dry, sweaty mouth. And she puts up with all of the test strips, infusion set garbage, and such that I leave around the house. And best of all, as Gary mentioned earlier today, she has a purse to carry my meter when we go out together, which is awesome. Because cargo pants just aren’t always appropriate.
  • My CDE – We’ll call her K. Partially because that’s her first initial, but also to protect the remainder of her identity. I’ve only been seeing her for a couple of years, but she’s one of the most down-to-earth medical professionals I’ve every worked with. K is the one that got me started on the pump, even though she was surprised at how much I had researched before we even met. I had pretty much decided on which pump I wanted before I even saw them in person. But more than just giving me advice and facts, she actually cares about ME…not just Harry Thompson, type 1 patient. She has reached out on my behalf to multiple diabetes equipment reps about employment opportunities, because she knew I wanted something more out of my career. She has introduced me to several people as “her favorite patient”…I’m sure I’m not the only person she’s said that about, but it means a lot knowing that someone else recognizes all of the work I put into managing this disease. I honestly can’t see how anyone could not put the same amount of effort into something so important, but I guess there are people that just don’t care as much.
  • YOU – I know I’m not only person to have said this today, but the DOC is really an amazing group of people. Although I went to diabetes camp when I was younger and met other kids with type 1, there was a good 15 years in my life where I felt like the only person around with this disease. I knew I wasn’t the only one, but I just couldn’t picture real, normal, funny people that were living with it just like me. Like so many others, I have to thank Kerri for opening my eyes to this community, and I’m honored to have met so many awesome people through Twitter, blogs, and other online connections.

I’ll let you guys choose your favorite. I don’t want to be accused of nepotism, but it is worth nothing that since Meredith is “with child”, she really should get double the votes. However, I’m grateful for anyone that read this far, so feel free to vote for yourselves too.

Making the low go

Today’s assignment is to tell you about my favorite way to treat a low blood sugar. Ever since I was a young diabetic, most of my low treatments have involved peanut butter in one way or another. My favorite is probably Honey Maid graham crackers with peanut butter, but Nilla Wafers are a pretty good combo as well. In a pinch, you can use saltines, but in that case, the cracker really just become a vehicle for the PB instead of a complement to it.

The probably usually comes in restraining myself…I’m experienced enough to know that it doesn’t take many cracker sandwiches to bring my BG back into range, but I’ll be damned if those things aren’t tasty. Most peanut butter-infused low treatments are followed by a bolus to correct my gluttony overtreatment.

Well that was easy. Hey, look at that! The CGM line is trending pretty low. I better head to the pantry to ward this low off…

My hero Dr. Carver, presumably enjoying a PB shake.

A day in the life…with diabetes

Today I’m supposed to write about the ways diabetes affects my life in a typical day. Since I wasn’t prepared enough to plan a day in advance, I’m just going to go with the past 24 hours, as that is by definition, “a day”. Of course, I could go with a Jupiter day, which is only 9.8 Earth hours, but I digress…

Rather than bore you with the mundane part the day where I work, sleep, and such just like every other person, I’ll just select a few highlights:

Sunday, 6:05pm: At a pool party for our 7th grade youth group at church (I’m one of the leaders, not a 7th grader, btw), I get to answer a series of questions – What is that on your back? That’s where my insulin pump connects. Why do you have that? Because my pancreas doesn’t make insulin to cover the food I eat. Can you feel it? I feel the part that’s attached to my skin, but I don’t feel the part that’s inside me really. And so on…

Sunday, 6:30pm: Despite having been disconnected from my pump for about 45 minutes, my blood sugar still goes low and I have to get out of the pool and have a snack. This is, of course, due to the previously discussed fact that swimming pools cure diabetes.

Sunday, 11:00pm: Quick blood sugar check before bed. 114 mg/dl. Sweet! Goodnight, world.

Monday, 7:30am: Pump – “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP” Me – “WTF do you want? Oh, right. Since I didn’t have to take any insulin at bedtime, you’re letting me know that I haven’t touched you in 10 hours. Awesome. Thanks.”

Monday, 8:34am: I’m hungry. Better check the old blood sugar before I have that delightful Nutri Grain bar. 257 mg/dl? What the deuce? How did that happen? <Quick pat-down to make sure I remembered to connect my pump after my shower this morning. Oh yeah, the beeping. Nevermind.> Oh well. No breakfast for me this morning.

Monday, 8:35am: Sad face.

Monday, 11:45am: I’m so hungry. Can I have lunch now? 142 mg/dl. Yay, I CAN have lunch!

Monday, 5:05pm: Driving home from work. Crap, I forgot to set the temporary basal on my pump before I left work, so I can go for a bike ride when I get home without too much insulin on board. Thus begins the graceful ballet of snaking the pump out of my pocket, setting the temp basal, all while not wrecking the car.

Monday, 6:05pm: Sorry, time’s up! 🙂

I’m sure I could come up with more, but in the essence of time (since you kind people have a lot of blogs to read this week!), I’ll wrap things up. These are some of the more notable moments, but to be honest, there are so many times that I think about diabetes in one way or another, it’s hard to write them all down. I often wonder what I would think about if I didn’t have to think about the big D all of the time. Would I be one of those people that remembers statistics about sports? Could I actually complete a Sudoku puzzle? Who knows? Stay tuned for tomorrow, when I write about <this is where I go to Karen’s blog to find out what I have to write about tomorrow>.

Blogger Van Winkle

So yeah, I’m writing a blog post again. Speaking of blogs, are those still popular? Do meals come in pill form yet? I feel like I’ve been away for ages! Thanks to Karen’s brilliant idea, I will (if all goes according to plan) have blog posts every day this week for Diabetes Blog Week. Well, at least I’m thanking you now, Karen. I may hate you by the end of the week.

I feel bad for the lack of blog posts lately, but just haven’t had the time, energy, or ideas of what to write about. At least I have the ideas, I just have to come up with the words this time. I’m looking forward to blogging this week, and I hope someone is inclined to read what I come up with. Stay tuned!

A little announcement…

Hi Friends! Listen, daddy knows he has been neglecting you lately. He’s been really busy at work drunk tired.  Oh hey, speaking of daddy, look what we made!!!

I am so happy to introduce you to LT (Little Thompson)! He or she is scheduled to arrive September 5th (the day before Labor Day, conveniently), and we couldn’t be more excited!

Things around the house have already started changing – the office has mostly been emptied out in preparation for nursery-fication, maternity clothes are making their way into the drawers, and I have the pleasure of being the sole cat poop scooper in the house for the next 6 months.

So far, everything has gone really well. Meredith (my wife, for those of you stalking at home) hasn’t had any huge morning sickness issues, the baby’s heart is beating and it is growing as it should be, and I’ve had an awesome time enjoying the hormonal imbalances in our day-to-day life. For example, the time back in early January that my wife broke down crying over the sad plight of Christmas trees. Can you believe they spend their entire life growing, and then are cut down, displayed for a few weeks, then tossed to the curb?!? It’s really quite a travesty.

So that explains why I’ve been a little preoccupied lately. At least now that we’ve “gone public”, I can share father-to-be stories with you and do super-dorky things such as debate the merits of 3 and 4-wheeled strollers. Stay tuned for more adventures!

P.S. I apologize for the excessive exclamation points in this post.  (Wait, no I don’t, screw it, it’s awesome.) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frank, you forgot your birthday, didn’t you?

I completely forgot my diabetes anniversary. January 24th. Two weeks ago. To be fair, I’ve been very busy lately with work and other things (more on that later), but it’s kind of surprising that it slipped right by. This was a big one too…18 years…my diabetes can buy cigarettes now! (Not that it should, of course.)

I discovered this not by reviewing my calendar (note to self. calendar – noun: a place to record dates of important occasions that you might want to remember), but by yesterday’s occurrence of the Super Bowl. You see, it was on the weekend of the Super Bowl 18 years ago that Type 1 diabetes forced its way into my life. Everything started off Friday morning at my pediatrician’s office. My mom had brought me in after several days of those typical symptoms: frequent urination, unquenchable thirst, constant tiredness. A quick blood test at the doctor was all it took to determine that the old pancreas was on its last legs (Or beta cells. Whatever.). Honestly, I don’t really remember what happened after that. The rest of the day was a whirlwind of doctors, dieticians, new medicines, long-term complication threats…all things that were completely mind-blowing to a 12 year old boy.

I’m not sure of the protocol nowadays, but the standard procedure back then for a newly diagnosed juvenile diabetic was to be admitted for a few days in the hospital. I suppose this way the doctors could try to get things under control and familiarize you with the injection and testing routine, before throwing you into the deep end of the pool, so to speak. Again, I don’t remember a lot of details about that weekend, but I do remember Sunday evening pretty well. My parents had both gone home for some rest, as visiting hours were over and they had been with me in the hospital most of the weekend. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in the hospital after hours, so I enjoyed my carefully portioned meal and browsed the channel lineup using the combination TV remote/nurse call button/bed adjusting controller. Even though I wasn’t a huge football fan, I ended up watching the Super Bowl, because well, it’s the Super Bowl. It’s just what you do. I remember that the Redskins and the Bills played, but my mind was still swirling with so many questions and concerns that I doubt I really paid much attention to the game. That is the first time in my life I remember feeling so alone…all of the food exchange and regimented injection schedule talk had subsided, and it was just me and my new companion in that room. No doctors, no family, just me.

I’ll be the first to admit things have vastly improved in the past 18 years. I’ve become more comfortable with the cards I’ve been dealt, and the technological and medicinal advances have made things a thousand times easier. Still, every year at this time, amidst all the commercials and halftime shows (oh, and football), I think of that hospital room and the half-size can of Diet Shasta, and I look at how my life has been changed by that Super Bowl weekend 18 years ago.

Oh, and Diet Shasta? The WORST diet drink I have ever tasted. I’m still wondering if that was some sort of test.

Endocrine Cowboy

You know how rednecks usually have that worn spot in their jeans from where their can of Skoal sits in the same pocket every day? No? Well here is a picture for those of you city folk unfamiliar with this phenomenon:

Pretty trashy, huh? Yeah, I thought so too, until I was looking through some pictures on Facebook recently and noticed that I have a similar outline in my jeans. Not from smokeless tobacco, or any other hip accessory…no, mine is from an insulin pump. Pretty sweet, huh?

So yeah. The chicks at the chronic disease rodeo are totally going to dig this.

P.S. Yes, I do realize the irony of mocking rednecks in the same post where there’s a picture of me holding a Budweiser thermometer and a giant fish-pillow. It was one of those white elephant gift exchanges, okay? This was actually one of the classier gifts.

Editor’s Note: This is probably the only time men’s asses will be featured in a post here. I hope.

Posted in “Missed Connections”

So I did something really stupid the other day. No, not writing “2009” instead of “2010”…that’s going to be a problem until at least March. Or that time that I responded to myself on Twitter. Granted, those were not my brightest moments, but they’re hardly worthy of a blog post.

Anyway, so we decided to go to a movie on New Year’s Eve (Sherlock Holmes…I recommend it, BTW). Since it was a 7:00 movie and we hadn’t eaten dinner, we just had a snack of cheese and crackers before we left, saving room for popcorn at the movies (the latter being a carb-counting challenge in itself, but not part of today’s blogging agenda). Back to the story. So we’re sitting about an hour into the movie, and I start to feel like someone had replaced my blood with corn syrup. I thought if anything, I had overestimated the dosage for the popcorn, so I couldn’t figure out why my blood sugar would be high. I pulled out my pump to take a quick glance at the CGM reading just to be sure. It was around 200mg/dl if I remember correctly. After placing the pump back in my pocket, I retrieved my meter from my wife’s purse (sure is nice to have someone to lug all of my supplies around!) to double check, as I was on day 7 of that sensor and it hadn’t been doing so well on the latest cycle. After fumbling for a minute in the darkness with the meter and auxilary lighting supply (a.k.a. iPhone), I got confirmation that something was off…309mg/dl off, to be exact. Reaching back into my pocket for the pump, I happened to brush past my infusion site, which felt smaller and sharp-edgier than usual. After a brief pat-down, I realized that there was an important component missing from the aforementioned infusion site…namely, the part with the tubing that supplies that lovely protein that we depend on. Well that makes sense. But when did it become disconnected? Oh, right. I changed pants a couple of hours ago. You know, before we had cheese and crackers. And sweet, buttery popcorn. So it’s been a few hours since I’ve had ANY insulin. No basals, no bolus to cover either of my snacks, nothing. Now comes the hard part…figuring out how much to bolus to bring things back under control. Of course the pump didn’t want to give me anything, considering how much active insulin I had on board (nevermind that it had actively soaked itself into the fibers of my jeans), and I had no idea how much things were going to keep rising. The initial bolus brought things back into a more acceptable range, but it took a few follow-ups to get things just right. Not the end of the world, but still pretty frustrating that I forgot to do something so important.

Some things about diabetes are pretty tough to figure out, even after years of experience. On the other hand, making sure the insulin actually gets into your body, is quite elementary, my dear Thompson.