Monday, March 25, 2013

You are my hero, You don't need a costume, Everybody knows your name

The past two years have been full of surprises for me. Obviously, one of the biggest ones was learning I have diabetes.

After a year and two months of struggling, I learned an even bigger problem. I have Type 1.5 diabetes, not Type 2 as I originally learned.

This meant a world of news for me. I was going to have to start taking insulin. Lactic Acidosis was a problem I was facing. I was going to have to make decisions on insulin to use, if I wanted to do injections, use a pen needle or get a pump. I would need a Continuous Glucose Monitor because it was constantly ups and downs with my blood sugar. I was going to have make food choices for the rest of my life and hope for the best while trying to control diabetes at it's worst. I could face a world of complications, and I had no choice. Health insurance was no longer an option.

Since I was diagnosed correctly, I have gone through a divorce and lost my insurance as I work jobs that don't normally carry it. It's been a scary ride. I finally found a job that I loved and would cover most of the costs of at least my supplies and insulin and lab tests I do on a weekly basis. But, I lost my job this weekend because of an unfortunate turn of events. So, there goes all hopes of being able to cover myself.

One of the first decisions I made, as a newly diagnosed Type 1, was to use Medtronic as my pump and CGM companies. I had to wait until my insurance was good enough to cover most of it. And it was so worth the wait.

Right away, I was greeted by a Representative named Rebecca. Rebecca held my hand (figuratively) by teaching me how to use my CGM and my Pump. She told me I could do this and showed me she did it some times too, even though she didn't have diabetes.

My first pump insertion was guided by Cara at the Medtronic Product Assistance Line. She was so sweet and took me step by step because I couldn't remember any of it. My first site change with my CGM was guided by Matt, also at the Medtronic Product Assistance Line. He was so patient with me as I had to convince myself into pushing the little white button to insert it. Matt reminded me to keep breathing and stay calm. He was right. When I kept getting kinks, Ingrid walked me through the different products they had and believed it was because I was so skinny that my body was rejecting the needle. She was right, and sent me a whole new pack of products. When I got a bad batch of sensors, Lisa over-nighted me a new box and sent me shipping products to send it back. At lunch one day, I noticed my pump cracked and Michelle talked me through the process, over-nighted me a new one to my work, and sent me shipping to mail the old one back so they could dispose of it properly. Then, when I was at my saddest, I tweeted about losing my jobs and my insurance. Within moments, I received a phone call from Ashley, offering her deepest regards, and is sending me supplies free of charge, to hold me over until I can get a job or insurance for the next round.

WOW. I am at a loss for words. This company has never let me down. They continually impress me with their customer service and excellent people skills. Their generosity and helpfulness has reminded me that businesses aren't all business.

Medtronic isn't just about profit. They are about keeping people alive. They are about reminding us all that we all have hard times and they are there for their customers. They quite literally just saved my life.

I am so happy I went with their company. It is hands down one of the best decisions I've made as a diabetic. If I have to have this disease, its amazing I have Medtronic by my side (literally on my hip and figuratively on my Twitter) helping me out through all of this.

*Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this article. I was not bribed, or even suggested to make a blog about my experience. I was merely blown away by the fact that one company was so amazing to care what I am going through.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just Understand, I Got it Well In Hand

I think being a diabetic is hard work. (Obvious statement, right?) But, I feel like people don't know how much that statement means.

Since being diagnosed in October 2010, I have talked to so many non-diabetics and received a lot of feedback about their views on diabetes. It's easy for them to offer up suggestions or statements to relate. And I appreciate that they want to be in the conversation. My favorite statement is "I hate when people don't take care of their of diabetes, but it's good that you do!" I have such mixed feelings about this statement.

Here's the deal. It's day to day. Some days, it's easier to take care of than others. Some days, I care more than others. Most days, I do exactly what I'm supposed to do-whatever that means.

But some days, I don't check my blood sugar more than twice. Some days, I run out of insulin in my pump because I wasn't prepared, got busy and didn't think to do back up. Some times, I sleep through my pump vibrating because I'm took tired to get up and test. Some days, I forget extra test strips. Some days, I forget my meter. I have yet to leave my pump disconnected when I leave the house, but I don't doubt that some day it will happen. I'm pretty bad about exercising more than my job that keeps me on my feet or playing soccer once a week. I go on spurts of when I wear my CGM. I have no health insurance because it was too costly. I over treat some times because when I feel low, I feel like the world is ending. I go too fast at work some times and don't pay attention to lows because I think my job is more important at that moment. I drink alcohol and some times, I drink more than two in one day. I smoked cigarettes forever because I thought it wasn't that big of a deal. I don't always eat every two hours. Some times, I only eat once a day. I choose french fries some times over veggies. I take the extra bolus when I want dessert. My A1C isn't below 7.0. I wear flip flops, and heels, and walk around barefoot. I get pedicures. I've been bad about Twitter lately, which disconnects me from my DOC to an extent. I haven't participated in DSMA in months because of other life happenings (work, soccer, etc.)

I'm not always the best I can be. But it's hard. Really hard. And I don't want my diabetes to define me. I want to try and control it as much as I can, and give myself some slack when I don't. And I want everyone around me to give me some slack too. I don't need a policeman to tell me how to take care of myself. I don't want you to ask me how my blood sugar is when I check in front of you. I appreciate when people notice I'm shaking or being aggressive to say, have you checked lately? But then, I appreciate they back off and let me check and treat as necessary.

If you tell you know someone that has diabetes, my first thought is, "How can I help?" I connect people with the DOC every day. I just talked to a girl I work with about meeting for lunch with her sister who is struggling to take care of herself right now. I'm not going to try and fix her. But I will listen. I will offer my heart and my ears and anything that I can.

I imagine that it's what everyone wants in any situation. Because, it's all I want.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

You Make it Hard on Me

Today, I woke up by my pump beeping at me. Like you do. But, it was my sensor. I had apparently ripped it out in the wee morning hours. I decided to leave it out for the first part of the day. I was productive and did everything I needed to do before coming home and putting a new sensor in, as well as a new pump site, since I was out of insulin. No big deal. Happens every three days.

I went to work at 5:30. Since I work in a fast paced environment, I was able to ignore my pump to a certain extent. Except, we were slooooow tonight. And of course, I was closing, which meant that I would get out of the restaurant at 10:30 at the EARLIEST. But, of course, we had people that wanted to sit there until 10:45. Which wouldn't have been a big deal normally, other than the mild irritation we had at them. However, at 8:00, my "Predicted High" alert started.

I checked my blood sugar and was at a 325 BG. So, I decided to eat a piece of bread quickly and bolus for it, thinking it would surely bring my blood sugar down. Three quarters of the way through my slice, I got a "No Delivery" message. Tried to bolus again. "No delivery." Tried again. "No Delivery."

Shit.

Started messing with my pump. Accidentally hit the rewind feature and lost my insulin. I didn't have an extra site with me because I had just changed today and didn't think it was necessary. Well, it was.

I lost all possibilities of insulin and pump use and realized I had two hours of work left at minimum.

In our restaurant, the closers check out the sidework, silverware and tables of the non-closers. We do it to be efficient. And then, the coaches (management) check us out. Which, is amazingly convienent. But, I started to lose it.

I freaked out. I was frustrated. I had to set my pump down because I thought I was going to throw it across the kitchen. I threw my tubing instead. #bigbabystyle

I had the other two closers helping me. But, I was getting triple sat and couldn't control myself. I consider a lot of my coworkers as friends. When "S" asked me what he could help me with, I pleaded for a new pancreas. In true S style, he said, "No problem. I know a guy."

I laughed through my tears. This was perfect for me. But, I was still distrought.

"C" came up to me and asked how she could help and what was wrong. I lost it. I started crying and said, "I know it's stupid, but I just hate having diabetes and I don't want to deal with complications. I want to let go of what I can't control and just get over it." She patted my back and helped me gain my sanity back.

Then, "SB" came up to me and asked how he could help. I told him, "I know I need ot buck up. I do. I just wish it could be simple for a day."

405 mg for a bg.

"S" once again approached me and let me know his pancreas guy came through and we would be in touch.

Laughter commenced.

I asked my coach if I could keep back up supplies in the office and he agreed. He said there is no issue with it and if they could help, they would do anything. #lovemycoaches

Just as the last emotion broke, my bracelet (that I forgot I was wearing) poked through my shirt sleeve. YOU CAN DO THIS. A tear came to my eye, and I smiled.

I stopped worrying. I knew my BG level was climbing, and I couldn't control it. But, I wasn't going to die tonight. I wasn't going to pass out. I was making money. And I was with people that knew what was going on. I can do this.

It was frustrating as all get out. I had a kink in my tubing and couldn't get myself under control. I had to stay in the restaurant until things got grasp again and I had to put on a happy face in front of guests. I lost my cool for about twenty minutes, but I regained it and made good money. I fnished my close and came home and fixed my issue.

But, it doesn't change that I hate it. It doesn't change that some times, I'm going to get scared when diabetes won't do what I want it to and just GO AWAY.

The difference is, I have people that support me. Organizations that support me. Me, who supports me.

It's hard right now, but it won't be every moment of every day. I can't wait to sleep and get over today. But, first, I need to check my blood glucose level.

#bgnow 172.

Not too shabby.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Do you notice I can't focus?

Stressful night! With the use of the CGM, my pump is back to yelling commands at me. "Predicted High." "Predicted Low." "Meter BG NOW." And, I received all of those messages between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. And now, it's time to get up and start my day and I'm exhausted. My heart feels like it won't stop racing and anxiety is kicking in.

While chatting with my bestie via text this morning, she asked, "I feel like things (diabetes) have been more out of whack recently. Is everything ok?"

Bring on the water works.

Aside from diabetes, I hate the question: Is everything ok. Not because of someone asking. But it feels like when someone asks, my mind floods and I realize all the things that aren't ok. I'm a mess, I know. I should focus on the positive, and do mostly. But that question seems to be a trigger.

But, then, I really started thinking about the question. The past five to six months have been insane in my personal life. I started a new job. (Which I LOVE.) I have really become independent financially. (Which scares the shit out of me.) And I got divorced. (Super bitter sweet. Everything was finalized a week and a half ago.) With everything going hectic in my world, I really haven't paid as much attention to my diabetes as it deserves.

1. I don't want it to rule my life.
2. Obviously, bigger things have needed my direct attention.
3. Diabetes, believe it or not, is not as exciting and fun as it sounds so sweeping it under the carpet seems lovely.

So, as stated in my last post, I started using my CGM again. And it's a bitch. It's actually keep track of my blood sugars every ten minutes and doing it's friggin job. Which, I should be happy about. But I am a control freak, my friends. I like things how I like them. And I can't get my blood sugars to do exactly what I need to. So, my CGM is yelling at me constantly. At work. When I'm with friends. And, when I'm trying to get a decent nights rest.

I know it's good in the long run, but I just need some stinking sleep. And I am done with 3 am crashes and 4 am high predictions and 5 am meter BG demands and feeling like my body can't get a grip.

The good part of all of this is that I am recognizing I need more focus on D. The bad part is, I'm focusing on D and it's stressing me out.

I'm taking bids for who wants to take this over for me from now on. That's it, a diabetes secretary!

Qualified Applicants will have the following:
  • Great Health Insurance
  • Never ending patience
  • Finger tips of steel
  • No scar tissue to interfere with infusion sites
  • Control over binge eating
  • Strong Mathematical Skills and Carb Counting Techniques
Preferred, but not necessary:
  • High journaling performance
  • Juice boxes and glutose tabs always on hand
  • Paddle to swat away diabetic unfriendly people

Apply within and you will be notified shortly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mr. Jones and Me

So, I haven't blogged in a while. I've been going through some stuff that I didn't want to uncover in my blog (divorce, mostly) and didn't know how it would affect my diabetes, nor did I want to talk about it. Everything is finalized now, and I am finding my voice again. But, be gentle on me as I ease back into this.

I work at a "Upscale Casual Dining" restaurant now. And I love EVERY bit of it. The people I work with, the coaches (management,) the company, and most of all, our regulars. The regulars are the people that keep coming back because they know we are the best. Even though we are just their servers, we learn SOOOOO much about them. We know their history, their allergies, their families, their money situation, their secrets, their ambitions. We know their stories.

There is a gentleman that has been coming in since Day 1. For his privacy, his name is Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones has A LOT of money. He had a very successful company and one of his past employees is now the backbone of our restaurant.

Mr. Jones is a vivacious individual. Well, he used to be. He liked to drink. He liked to dine. He loved to share his financial greatness with the rest of us. He still is one of the best tippers I work with. Mr. Jones tells me that I am pretty, wonderful, nice and a beautiful human being. He pulled over a co-worker of mine and told him, "Watch out for this one. She's one of the exceptional people that will change the world." In his mid-eighties, Mr. Jones makes my heart melt.

I found something out tonight that I had not known previously about him. Mr. Jones has been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 78 years.

In the past few years, over his many visits to the restaurant, my co-workers have watched him deteriorate. Not only is age hurting him, but dementia has attacked. Most of the time he is mostly lucid. But, occasionally, he is not and does not make much sense. I learned, from his past employee that he had many lows.

Tonight, in the middle of dinner rush, when we were at our busiest and my section was of course full, I went low. REALLY low. I kept pushing myself to get past it, not treating because I was convinced that the restaurant needed me to be attentive and get "First Round Drinks" within 60 seconds. (First round is when someone sits down and needs service immediately. We have many time restraints and first round is the first priority.) I noticed my blood sugar dropping by the sweat beads rolling down my back and continued to get six more greets. That is approximately 10 minutes before I tried to do anything. Then, I took a food order, further procrastinating my treating of my blood sugar.

All of a sudden, I dropped so low, I couldn't focus and someone noticed that my hands were unctrollably shaking. I dropped a glass. Then a plate. Then my server book. I couldn't concentrate or communicate what I needed because I had pushed so long that I had no idea what was going on. Moments before I felt like I was going to pass out, another server got a big glass of Sprite and let a coach know. The coach panicked. He picked everything up for me and made me sit down until my blood sugar was under control. Then, he started asking questions.

My coach wanted to know how to treat a low. How to treat a high. How to tell the difference. He wanted to know how to read my pump. What to tell an EMT. He called for servers to look over my section. He was worried. Really worried. I explained a little, but knew we were busy, so I told him I would get him some fact sheets. It took about twenty minutes (felt like an hour) to get my low under control. And I hit the floor running again.

But, I couldn't help but think of Mr. Jones. How his dementia must have to do somewhat with complications and lows and highs of diabetes. I don't want to get that bad. And chances are, it could happen. My heart goes out to him and his caretakers. I just want to give him a big hug and tell him I respect him and that living this long in a world that isn't always diabetes friendly (especially at his age and when he was diagnosed) is a huge accomplishment. He is such a sweet, sweet man and he will be included in my all of my prayers to come.

Now, I have to think about how to get my lows under control. Tomorrow, I am going to start using my CGM again. It's been months because I hate it. It is scary and hurts and looks ugly. But maybe it will help predict my lows before I go so low I can't get a grip.

Mr. Jones most likely will not last much longer. In my short five months at the restaurant, I have seen him go from bad to worse. Dementia scares me only second to losing a limb as a complication of diabetes. And I hate that he's going through this. I hate that there is only so much I can do to prevent it from happening to me.

I wish I could stop this crazy disease. I wish no one would ever have to live with it. I wish the fears would go away and people could just live with a working pancreas. I wish there was no diabetes. But, that's not true. There is diabetes. And it's different for every one. And everyone deals with different fears and eating disorders and complications and trials.

What I do know is that knowing people like the diabetic online community, fellow camp counselors, campers, and diabetics in the wild like Mr. Jones makes me feel less alone. And hopefully, I offer the same to all of them.

I faced a very real fear tonight. In a lot of small ways. But they are nothing like Mr. Jones faces them, when he knows whats going on. I just wished he knew that he has so many people pulling for him in this crazy, high-carb world.





Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Out with the Bad, and In with the Good

I think so many times, I focus on the negatives with diabetes. Which is INCREDIBLY easy to do. It's a tough disease. We have to do math every time we eat just to make sure our blood sugars are regulated. We perform surgery on ourselves every 3-4 days, some times more, to keep our pancreas hooked up. And it hurts some times. We prick our fingers upwards of 12 times daily to figure out what our bodies are doing.

At my last job, I was seen as weak almost because some times the diabetes took over. Whether I was in the hospital, or I had to stop and eat, or I'd get confused, a few select people would say things about it, not understanding what I was going through. Which I get. They don't understand.

I have met so many people this past week and a half at my new job. They are very particular about how we appear, so I clip my pump under my arm, right to the side of my bra. But, I am doing taste testing every day, so I find myself digging it out. I try to be as discreet as possible, but it's not easy.

My boss walked past me the other day and asked what I was doing. I explained it to her and the first words out of her mouth were, "It's that bad that you'll never get off the pump?" Trying to be respectful, I explained the differences in the types of diabetes. I had done taste plate in the morning, which is our way of tasting everything in the restaurant to make sure it's good enough to go out for the guests. She asked, "How did you deal with Taste Plate?" I explained to her that I guessed the carbohydrates, and i did pretty well because two hours later, my blood sugar was within range. She was truly excited for me!

"How awesome! It must feel like a personal triumph and victory every time you have to just guess, and it works!"

It's totally true. And I had never had a non-diabetic think of it like that. It was just nice to hear someone really get it. For a moment, I felt like she was empathetic. And that's not a feeling I get very much.

It's these kind of people that make it so much easier to go through this. It's the people that root for us that make us realize, we can do this.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Have you ever felt a pain so powerful?

In less than a year, diabetes has helped me connect with the greatest people I've ever known. People that are empowered to help other people. These wonderful souls have gotten me through some tough times. They brought me out of dark corners and told me I could do this when I was positive I couldn't. I could never thank them enough.

Unfortunately, knowing these people also means knowing their tragedies. Last week, we lost one of them very dear to us in our community. The Schumachers lost a father, a husband, a partner, and a friend last Sunday. Four out of the six of them have T1 diabetes. Could you imagine? Having one person in the family is a big enough test!

Everyone in the Diabetic Online Community got together and prayed for them. Prayers were sent from all over the world. The ones who don't pray, sent positive vibes and good feelings, hoping for a miracle. Our prayers were laid to rest when Ryan died peacefully in the arms of his family.

I wish I could do more. I wish I could hug Meri and tell her I will take all of her pain away. I wish I could  nanny for them and take care of everything so they don't have to think about all the mundane things that you have to think about, even though tragedy has struck their hearts. It's a trial to have to deal with diabetes on a normal basis, then throw a death of the most important person in your world in the mix, and it must seem damn near impossible.

I continue to pray for them in hopes that my small little prayer will touch them in bigger ways. I ask that anyone reading this do the same.

They've been calling this the Schumacher Family Miracle. The real miracle is knowing them, knowing their strength, and them letting us be a part of their lives.