Wednesday, April 28, 2010

diabetic dreamin'

diabetes is now officially invading my dreams. 

last night i dreamed that my infusion site fell out while i was sleeping.  in the dream, i woke up with blood dripping out of me where the site had been (way more blood than would ever actually come from an infusion site, of course).  then i tested, and my bg was 520 mg/dL.  i'm pretty sure real meters only go up to 500 and then say >500 beyond that...but that was my dream.  i remember my dad and his wife were there, and in real life they've never seen my pump.  in the dream this was their first time seeing me with it, and everything was crazy, and i felt very anxious.  they thought the pump was bad and not helping me, and i was trying to convince them that this doesn't usually happen and that the pump is actually wonderful.  sounds like i was having a nice, relaxing sleep, huh?

i don't think this was my first dream that somehow involved diabetes, but it was definitely the first where it played a major role.  i've been thinking recently about how diabetes is forever.  of course i knew this very early on, but i don't think it quite hit home at first.  i've had to adjust my fantasies of the future a wedding [+ insulin pump in my dress], pregnancy [+ strict, rigid diabetes management], etc.  i had a feeling a day would come where i dreamed in diabetes, and i'm sure this will not be the last time that happens. 

all of this has been on my mind, oddly enough, as i have felt significantly less like a diabetic since getting my pump.  i forget it's there 90% of the time, and eating meals is almost like it was pre-D.  of course, when i get undressed at the end of the night and i forget to grab my pump before it goes crashing to the floor, i am reminded.  perhaps the dreaming is indicative of the fact that diabetes is moving into the background of my life.  it's still always there, but i'm not always thinking about it or paying attention to it, and the day-to-day routine of it's mangement has is becoming seamlessly intertwined with every other part of my routine. 

when i got my pump, my first diabetic buddy ever said to me: "welcome to the world of almost normal!"  truer words had never been spoken. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

sarah + insulin pump

if i had to put it into one word, i would say: glorious.

is it weird having a technological contraption attached to me at all times?  yes.  am i still fairly self-conscious of it?  kind of.  has it made my daily life much less complicated and much easier?  absolutely.

monday morning my pump was filled with insulin.  i had breakfast at the diabetes center and stayed for 2 hours after so they could make sure everything was functioning properly.  i was 268 mg/dL two hours after, but this was probably more related to having no basal insulin in 12 hours (although i still somehow woke up at 135 mg/dL! silly honeymoon phase/pancreas deciding to work sometimes...) i corrected this high, and came down an hour later, so it was clearly not an infusion set/site issue, and i was free to go.

being able to bolus so easily, wherever/whenever i want is amazing.  it's basically like i have a pancreas but i just have to do some of the work for it.  being on injections is doing all of the work.  carrying all the stupid supplies around, having to take out the pen, put the needle on, try and determine how much insulin i needed in 1 unit was all very intrusive and often anxiety-provoking.  the pump is wonderful.  i take it out, press a few buttons, and i'm good to go.  if i underestimate, it's a simple process to correct.  if i want to work out, i take the pump off, and if i'm low-ish at the end (in the 70s or so)  i just leave the pump off a bit longer and my blood sugar comes up on it's own.  no more shoveling food that i don't even want to eat (or perhaps just a lot less of that).

a few noteworthy events have occurred thus far in getting used to this new limb/organ i have.  the other night, while showing my friend how easy it is to disconnect/reconnect, i stabbed the needle into the tubing, and only realized this when i was high for no apparent reason and not going down hours later.  there was a hole, and insulin was leaking out.  oops!  need to be careful about that.

also, i wore that tight blue dress last night, and it was a success!  i took the clip off, put it in my bra in the back so it was off to the side, and i was told that it was difficult to notice.  it kind of just looked like i'm on a reality tv show, and i'm wearing a microphone.  no harm, no foul.  i was able to forget it was there, and that's really the most important thing.  the pump definitely helps me forget about diabetes.  it's a lot less thinking/work for me to do.  it's also kind of a cool little thing, and it makes for interesting conversation if i feel like having it.  i kind of feel like a robot.  and i'm happy to say that i mean that in the nicest way possible.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


this weekend was freaking exhausting.  actually, the whole week leading up to it was too.  pretty much i have no idea how i'm awake right now.

it all started monday night.  it was my good friend's birthday, and we were out gallivanting around the city.  i got home around 2:30 and went to bed at 3.  sure, this is pretty ridiculous given that i have to be at work at 9, but hey, you only live once, right?  i can handle nights like these every once in a while.

but then, tuesday.  all day i was acting like a crazy person at work, and my coworkers were laughing at me because of it.  i somehow mustered up the energy to go the gym, but while on the elliptical i was beginning to question why i ever thought going to the gym on 4 hours of sleep after a full day of work was a good idea.  also, i had tentative plans to go out with some friends, which was seeming more and more like it was not going to happen.  so, after the gym i went home, took a shower, put on my pjs, and texted my friend to tell her i was in no shape to go out again.  yea...not so much.  i was pretty easily convinced to scratch my plans for a tame night, and promptly got out of my pajamas, made myself look like a real person, and headed out with the intention of getting home by 12 ("i wouldn't be going to bed any earlier anyway, right?")

see, there was a key element missing in this sequence of events: work, gym, shower, go out.....dinner?  nah.  my blood sugar had being running high all day (hormonal stuff + lack of sleep), so i didn't need to eat, and therefore decided to forgo my meal in favor of drinking.  3 vodka/sodas + 1.5 tequila shots later, and i'm feeling like the world's biggest idiot/a freshman in college puking on the streets of new york.  good times.  the next day at work i was even more cracked out and ridiculous, and my blood sugars followed in suit.  ate an english muffin for breakfast that was 32g, gave 3 units even though my normal morning ratio is 1/15, and rang in at 220 mg/dL two hours later,  200 mg/dL three hours later.  thanks, diabetes, for giving me yet another reason to feel like ass.

i was able to reign in my inner rebellious teenager for the rest of the week, and excused my ridiculous weekday behavior with the fact that i had to take my psych GREs this saturday and work on sunday, so no time to go out during the actual weekend.  this meant waking up at 6:45 saturday and 5:15 sunday.  saturday i had one of the most horrendous blood sugars i have seen in months.  i ate my normal oatmeal breakfast that on any given day requires 1-4 units of insulin (it's about 45g), and went to take my test.  i was nervous, i guess, which i know can shoot up my numbers, but i was not at all prepared for the 315 mg/dL that greeted me two hours after breakfast.  i retested and got 305 mg/dL.  um...what?  can you do not do that, diabetes?  it took a lot of strength to return to my test and focus on it, rather than being distracted by that obscene number.  ugh.

oh, and did i mention that i got my pump hooked up on thursday?!  i'm not going to lie, it's kind of annoying the ever loving crap out of me right now.  a lot of that has to do with the fact that it just has saline in it, so currently it's only purpose in life is to irritate me while i am still shooting up the old fashioned way.  i have already dropped it a few times while attempting to go to the bathroom (luckily not in the toilet), tried on and purchased a dress that is not pump friendly:

(i am determined to figure out a way!), and dealt with it just hanging off the back of my pants in a way that is more obvious than i would like.  it doesn't fit in my bra as well as i had hoped.  there will definitely be a lot of exposures, so i'm just trying to prepare myself for that. 

last night was my last does of lantus.  i think once gilbey is filled with insulin tomorrow, i will appreciate it a lot more.  and i just need to get used to it being on me, which is a work in progress for sure. 

so yea, i'm exhausted. [end bitch fest]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

my friends all think i'm crazy...

...but i had to do it.

we were in mcsorley's - the oldest bar in new york - and there was a table of men next to us.  a few were graying, the others were probably in their 30s.  one of the younger ones in particular caught my eye, just because he was rather good-looking and muscular, and we made eye contact a few times.  i wasn't drinking any alcohol since they only have beer there, and i am not a beer person.  i just sat, sipping my water and chatting with my friends.

all of a sudden, i looked over at the table of guys, and i saw something very familiar on the table in front of the guy i had been eying.  it was a black, zippered case.  then, i watched in awe as he unzipped the case, pulled out an all too familiar bright orange syringe, and stick it in his giant bulging arm.  i almost fell out of my chair.

"dude!" i half-whispered as i hit my friend impatiently, "look what that guy has!" not clear enough. "DUDE THAT GUY IS F-ING DIABETIC" (i swear a lot when i'm excited).

but as soon as the needle was out of his arm, everyone at his table got up and started to leave.  as they lingered for a moment, i was having a major debate inside myself and out loud. 

"oh man...i really want to go over to him..." i said, expecting at least one of my friends to support my urge.  however, none of them seemed to want to condone such bold behavior.  i realized in those quick decision-making moments that this was not something anyone was going to understand but me and my new-found comrade.  until you've had something like diabetes, you cannot understand how absolutely necessary it is to commiserate with people that understand what you're dealing with.

so, i went for it.  with my own little black case in hand, i approached this man as my friends watched on laughing at what they saw as my chutzpah.  as soon as he realized why i was there, he lit up.  he told me how he has been a diabetic for 20 years and how he chooses to stay on injections because he doesn't want something on him all the time that shows people that he has diabetes (hmm...this sounds familiar).  when i told him i've had it for six months, his immediate response was "it's easy!"  which i loved.  whether or not any of us really believe that, his optimism in the face of 20 years with diabetes and doing old-fashioned drawn-up injections all along is really quite inspiring.

we only chatted for a few minutes as his group was already on their way out, and we never even exchanged names, but the whole experience made me so happy.  it was a refreshing reminder that diabetes does not preclude me from a normal life.  while i might logically know this, it is easy to forget sometimes when i'm in a group of non-diabetics, and i feel very different.  until this guy took out his case, he looked like a regular guy just getting a beer with his buddies.  he made me realize that diabetes or not, i am still me, as normal or regular as i was before.

also, his nonchalance about injecting and what not at the table made me think about when i get nervous about checking my sugar or shooting up in public.  maybe this isn't the best route...for all i know, i could be forming a new friendship just by pricking my finger above the table instead of under it. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

first times

i've been thinking a lot recently about my 'firsts.'  not the big life firsts, but my firsts as a diabetic.

one of the hardest things in the beginning was treading on new territory as a diabetic.  and, since it was the beginning, everything was new territory.  my first day of work with diabetes, first time traveling with diabetes, first time drinking with diabetes, first meal at a restaurant with diabetes, etc. were all quite daunting.  but once i realized that i could do all of these things just as a had before (with a few major/minor adjustments), i felt ok.  and, as time went on, there were fewer and fewer firsts to be had.  life with diabetes has become the norm, and i often forget that i ever wasn't diabetic.

...except for when another first comes around.  as much as it may feel like i've had diabetes forever, i have only had it for 6 months.  there are still a lot of things i haven't yet done with this disease, and in the last few weeks a couple have cropped up.

last weekend was probably the hardest first i've had yet, oddly enough.  it was during a yoga retreat that i went on with my mom.  this is our third year going.  it's a weekend of yoga, yummy (and healthy) food, spa treatments - basically total relaxation.  we both love it, and it's probably the most time we ever get to spend together just the two of us, so it's even more enjoyable for that reason.

this year, though, started out a little differently.  i was nervous.  even though i work out pretty vigorously on a regular basis and have (for the most part) mastered the art of cardio + diabetes, i had not yet done yoga since being a diabetic.  this yoga is not particularly cardio-intensive, but it is still a form of exercise nonetheless.  a regular workout for me is preceded by lots of carbs and no insulin, but i had no idea what to do about yoga.  do i go in high? normal?  if i eat a meal before, do i cover all of it?  part of it?  2/15 of it?  i just did not know.  then i was thinking about the dining room, where we always end up sitting and chatting with random am i going to inject myself discreetly while we're exchanging life stories with people we just met?  am i going to be giving diabetes spiels weekend? all of these thoughts were festering in my head, and they had me everything but relaxed as we made the 1.5 hour drive up to the berkshires.

as we arrived, checked in, and made our way to our room, i remembered our last time there.  i was "normal."  at least my pancreas was.  the words "carb ratio" and "bolus" were completely foreign to me.  i was in my last year of college, looking forward to graduating but unsure of what the future held.  little did i know.

it is in these moments that i have a brief sense of my old life.  i can actually feel it, just for a second.  the life of someone who is not on duty 24/7 to replace her own failed pancreas.  this sensation, coupled with my high levels of anxiety about yoga and eating, left me in tears. 

of course, the weekend was wonderful, even though i had to run out in the middle of our yoga classes and test, and even though i had one 65 mg/dL mid-class that left me shoveling a granola bar.  did any of this really matter?  no.  i still had a great time, and even when i think of it now the blood sugars and insulin calculations are not what i recall the most.  but it was a first, and that made it difficult. 

the hardest part about "firsts" for me is that memory of what life used to be like...the fleeting taste of "before."  i know that i am not done with these firsts.  next year i will go back to school and be a student with diabetes for the first time.  today, against my better judgment, i went tanning to prepare for an upcoming tropical vacation.  while my diabetes had no effect on the tanning experience, i did think "the last time i was here i was not diabetic."  and the tropical vacation, that will be a first too.  i wonder if they will get any easier.