Friday, July 30, 2010

Dexcom on Its Way!

So not only am I getting an insulin pump, but I found out today that I've been approved for the Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (CGM)!

I was skeptical my insurance would approve it, because it's still so common for people to get turned down, but I'm betting the pregnancy planning is what won them over... though Mom pointed out that my situation is an unusual one, even if it's not uncommon, so they may have been prone to approving it for someone with a brand new case of Type 1 at the age of 30. She also thinks insurance companies are catching on to the fact that good treatment now is usually less expensive than complications down the road.

Caremark and BCBC of Oklahoma, your recent moves to benefit my health and treatment plan are starting to shake my whole insurance-companies-are-evil stance!

While the pump is very exciting, I'm even more excited about some of the benefits of the Dexcom. First of all, it'll warn me about lows and highs, sometimes even before I think to test for them. And I find that, while I feel most lows before they get bad, I haven't really tuned into the symptoms of highs yet. I don't pee like crazy, my thirst isn't unusual enough to tip me off, and I don't feel that "off," which I attribute to having recently spent so much time with even higher BGs as an undiagnosed diabetic. Highs just feel like more of the same to me. But now, Dexcom will buzz me when things are climbing too fast.

And, in tandem with the temporary basal options the pump gives me, I think this technology will let me exercise and be otherwise physically active without worrying as much about lows anymore. If I take a sudden nose dive, Dexcom will most likely tell me.


Thursday, July 29, 2010


Look what I have...

That's right, I have an insulin pump!!!

It's an Animas Ping... A pink Animas Ping! I used to hate pink, but I now really appreciate it when it's an unexpected color... like in the case of a medical device.

I'm not using it until Wednesday, when I'll meet with my CDE and get the official "training." I've been playing with the functions, with a cartridge and tube full of water. Tonight, per my CDE's recommendation, I'll tape the tubing to my stomach (pump attached) so I can figure out how I'll want to sleep with it.

Aside from how awesome it is that I'll soon have more precise blood sugar control and will just have to push buttons instead of giving injections in public (not that it's embarrassing, just a hassle), I'm totally drawn in by the fun that comes along with a pump! It's a medical device, yes, but it's a gadget. It's advanced, cute, and it makes fun noises! Oh, oh... AND IT DOES MATH FOR ME!!! Sold!!!

I keep reading about T1 girls struggling to "hide" their pumps, and I'm sure I'll get tired of the questions and start tucking it away into my bra, but I currently have no anxiety over the prospect of it being visible on my everyday outfits. It's cute, and I imagine a lot of people will assume it's an MP3 player of some sort. For those who ask, my current plan is just to tell them and to answer any other questions.

I should also comment that my insurance has all worked out remarkably well! Blue Cross Blue Shield approved this earlier than their policy normally allows, and Caremark agreed to cover vials of Novolog for me right away even though I very recently refilled my prescription for the Novolog pens (technically, this was like trying to "refill" my Novolog prescription too early). I still think the system needs reform, but I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised by how relatively few roadblocks I've hit.

And, in general, I have to say things are pretty good right now!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Very Important Cog in a Much More Important Machine

"At some point, you have to stop and say, 'Lord, why?'" said my doctor. "But thank God we found this early. God really did protect you! Most people end up in the ICU for a week!"

There are so many things about these statements that do not ring true and clear for me.

I will absolutely never tell people what's right when it comes to religion, spirituality, and a divine being... except, perhaps, that I do not believe any higher power would approve of hurting others except in self-defense or the defense of those who cannot protect themselves. Beyond that, I only know what feels right and what doesn't... and I don't feel that any one organized religion has it entirely "right."

This makes me a grade A agnostic, and there have been times when I considered myself an atheist. So, I'm no authority on God.

But I don't think I would ever stop and say to God, in whatever form I believe in Him/Her/It, "Why would you let me develop diabetes?" If there's one thing I do believe about divinity, and I do believe there is some kind of divinity, it is that we are all very important cogs in a much more important machine that is the universe. Everything happens because that's the way the universe, and the divinity that made or is a part of this universe, works. That doesn't mean there was a conscious divine plan for me to get diabetes, just that it is one of the tiny little processes that make up this amazingly complex and ever changing universe.

And do not believe that I am so uniquely special that a personal god would protect me with an early diagnosis. Not when there are small and innocent children who develop the same disease and don't know it until their parents have rushed their limp little bodies to the emergency room, racing against time and death. This does not mean I consider myself insignificant to a personal god, but rather that I am no more special to Him than those children.

I do not consider myself cynical in this lack of belief in a personal god who makes things happen in my life or protects me. It doesn't even mean I believe there is no god, or that God must be impersonal if He exists. I believe, rather, that any such god would be an eloquent designer who created the universe (and everything that happens in it) exactly as it must be, and who would see all good people as equally deserving of whatever benevolent intervention He might offer.

But developing a chronic disease that puts me in a much higher risk category for other life-threatening conditions has certainly gotten me thinking about belief. I believe that there is divinity in the universe, though I've leaned away from picturing that divinity as a being... But my sudden sense of mortality made me ask: Is there something there for me after I die? And if I were to pray for help, is there someone to listen? And would that someone actually be willing to consider answering my prayers?

I still haven't learned those answers, or even developed much of an opinion on them... but I am no longer content to not ask them. Perhaps this is one good thing diabetes has given me.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Who is This?

I find it difficult to relate to other people with diabetes. Wait, that's not right... I can relate to the people, but I find it hard to relate to their diabetes.

I read blogs where people talk about their lives with diabetes, and I'm overwhelmed by their... overwhelmed state. It's like it's ingrained itself into every minutia of their lives. As so many of them say, diabetes doesn't define them... but it sure does seem to shape their lives. Sometimes their entries scare me. Blood sugars of 500 because your pump malfunctioned?! Such horrible lows that you weren't with-it enough to trust the person trying to give you juice?! I read these and boggle. That's not me! They must be "brittle!" But... What if it is me? What if it's just a matter of statistics, and these things are bound to happen a few times in the lifetime of a diabetic? What if it's not happening now only because I'm having a little "honeymoon," and it'll start once my pancreas has utterly crapped out?

On the other side of things: when I talk to a friend who has had diabetes since she was 7, I'm in awe of how normal her life has always seemed to me... because I don't feel very normal right now. And though she and I have the same disease, we are in such different places at this point. She's such an awesome resource and I'm so lucky to know her, but sometimes I get frustrated about not even knowing the right questions to ask.

And I even have trouble relating to my own diabetes. A little over two months ago, I was just Elizabeth. Who am I now? I know I'm still me, but I'd be fooling myself if I thought a chronic disease didn't change me at all. It's like now I'm Elizabeth*, with the asterisk pointing to a footnote explaining all about diabetes and how it affects me.

But the thing is, I think I can get used to the asterisk... as long as it stays an asterisk. I would never have invited this into my life, but I'm starting to understand that diabetes is now a part of Who I Am. It's not Me, but it's one of the many, many things that make up Me. It's going to shape my life, but I have some control over how.

I don't really know this Elizabeth* yet, and that's disconcerting, but I'm starting to think she's an OK girl.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Need to Return to Normalcy

Long time no post, but I've been a wee bit busy.  I'm sitting in a new house full of cardboard boxes.

Also, I went through a dark patch there.  I was very, very down about life, including diabetes.  Not that I'm totally over that, but I feel a little more in control again.  And I want to get back to blogging, but I feel bogged down by everything I want to say when I do...  So, I'll just type.

Moving plus my period did a number on my blood sugars.  I had a lows four days in a row, including a 40!!!  So today begins a slightly new routine with the Lantus ("basal" or long-acting insulin):  A smaller shot every 12 hours, instead of a larger one every 24 hours.  My educator thinks it'll help prevent my evening numbers from going so low.

The honest truth is that this has been trickier than I thought.  I wasn't going to have crazy lows like all those other diabetes bloggers!  I wasn't going to have mystery blood sugar numbers that logically shouldn't have occurred!  But alas, I am no VIP to diabetes.

I think one of the most important things I can do for myself right now is take control of my life.  I may not have perfect control of my diabetes yet (it'll improve, though it will probably never be "perfect"), but maybe I can take control of other areas.  For various reasons, I've felt like a passenger in the process of finding, moving into, and buying this new house.  I need to make it mine.  My job is not where I want to be.  I need to make the best of it for the moment while taking steps toward where I do want to be.

Some other areas aren't as easy.  Diabetes has its claws in my diet and, to some extent, my physical activity.  This is necessary, at least in these early stages when we're still "figuring it out."  But I have to say that the psychological effect that has on me is very negative.  The first month, no problem, I was surviving.  Now, I need to start living.  I need to reclaim these areas to the extent that I can.  I'm eating more fruit again, for example, which I avoided at the beginning simply because I wanted labels and things I could measure.  But now I'm branching out and letting myself use my best judgment on portions/carbs.  Exercise?  Well, moving certainly was exercise.  Unpacking is too, as far as my blood sugar numbers are concerned.  After all this is winds down, I'm going to go do the exercise I always enjoyed most, damn it!!!  If I have to do shorter or lighter sessions, so be it, but I'm tired of being scared to walk-run on the treadmill or go to my favorite yoga class.  I'll be extra cautious, but I need to return to a little normalcy.

Phew!  There's my lunchtime post.  Back to work!