Monday, August 9, 2010

Smoothing Out the Seams

I think I’m beginning to incorporate diabetes treatment into my life more smoothly. Even with the pump being so new, and even with other new things (CGM) on the way, it’s all starting to blend in. All of the actions are inspiring less, “Let me stop my life for 5 minutes to test my blood sugar and take an injection,” and more, “I hope I don’t look too inattentive while I test my blood sugar and listen to this person talk at the same time.”

The most invasive daily activity at this point is counting carbs, even though the pump takes care of some of that for me. Even if the database were easier to browse, some foods are just always a mystery unless you make them yourself. There could be sugar in your sweet corn, flour in your omelet, or (on the flip side) far more fiber in that dinner roll than is typical. And what is the tuna-to-pasta ratio in that tuna casserole??? It helps, when dining out someplace without a nutritional guide, to stick to simple foods. I’ve been eating a lot of poultry and seafood with rice and veggies or salad lately... The meat has little to no carbs (as long as it's not battered, and depending on sauces and glazes!), I can pile rice or veggies into a mound and judge which of my measuring cups it would likely fill, and side-salads with creamy dressings (ranch or Caesar), a few croutons, and no fruit have pretty reliably acted like about 10 or 15 carbs (depending on size). I’ll probably branch out into more combination foods as I get a better feel for carb content, but simple and familiar foods make life a little easier when there are no hard numbers to rely on.

Making food at home is easy. Meals for just myself are usually packaged and frozen (I love Kashi meals for lunch!) or routine enough that I know exactly how many carbs are in the final product as I always make it (my usual PB&J sandwiches are 34 carbs). If it’s a more complex meal for my husband and I, I usually try to cook exactly enough for both of us. I jot down carbs on a scrap of paper as I choose ingredients, total it up, then divide by two to determine the carbs in my half of the meal. (Or, more likely, I take a look at the carbs for one serving of a frozen “meal for two” I’ve just sauteed!) I test my blood sugar while the food is in the last couple of minutes of cooking, then punch the carbs into my meter-remote for my bolus calculation as soon as we sit down to eat. I’m already eating the first bite before the pump has finished its bolus. (So much faster than taking a shot!)

So it’s all falling into a rhythm. I’ve had to make some adjustments to my routine to more seamlessly incorporate treatment (eating simple foods at restaurants without nutrition guides, taking a few extra minutes every third day to put insulin in my pump and insert an infusion site so I don’t have to take a shot 5+ times a day, buying a more organized purse to easily carry and find my gear, buying some 1-cup tupperware bowls so I know exactly how much cereal I’m eating without breaking out the measuring cup...), but the treatment itself is also becoming easier to adjust (the pump means less time and mess before meals, I can use my glucose monitoring kit more quickly and without taking every little thing out of the case now that I’m used to it, and I don’t have to do as much math to give myself insulin anymore).

I still have these surreal moments when I realize, “I’m diabetic. I have a chronic disease. I have to take medicine multiple times a day to stay healthy and alive.” This strikes me especially hard when I wrestle with the tube of my pump while changing clothes, but then the pump disappears quite effectively under the front of my bra, and I only occasionally talk to it for the rest of the day through what looks pretty much like a fat little PDA... and it talks back to me from beneath my shirt through the quietest whisper of a *click* when it gives me a basal dose of insulin, and through a rhythmic vibration that translates into, “Bolus insulin for 41 carbs coming right up!!!” And I can hear the quiet twist-and-deliver as I enjoy the first bite of my meal... and then I think about other things.

Every now and then, I’m amazed by the things I do automatically. The seams are smoothing out...


  1. Enjoyed reading your blog. My husband spent 5 days in ICU about 5 years ago when his blood sugar spiraled out of control. Many of the things you are going through sound so familiar. Facing your mortality was definitely his wakeup call. He now gives himself 5 shots a day (doesn't want a pump), exercises more and watches what he eats. You are so right, the seams smooth out over time. Normalcy has returned. Great blog!

  2. Great to hear things smooth out (and I'm so glad they're starting to for me).

    I feel so fortunate that I discovered my T1 before ending up in the hospital. That must have been so scary for you and your husband! :(