Updates: Bullet Point Style

It’s been almost a month since I posted. It’s crazy to think it’s been that long but at the same time, in my head, that was just last week. So much has been going on and I’ve basically just been concentrating on life than my blog, and I’m learning that that’s okay. I’ve been contemplating what to do about the situation… should I try to blog more? On a scheduled basis? But I’ve realized that I’m not a person who blogs based on schedules or requirements – I blog when I feel I have something to say or news to share. And, it may be that after 5 1/2 years that it may be time to slow down a bit. After all, I’m no person of authority or status to be sharing as if what I have to say or think is important – I just blog to blog. To get things out of my head. And I’m coming to grips with a lot of things lately in relation to diabetes and life, and diabetes blogging lately hasn’t made the top of the list…. it’s barely on the list, really.

Anyway, the updates I have are simply going to be bullet point style, because, honestly, there are a few topics that I’m just going to spit out randomly.

  • At the beginning of the month, I had a viral infection in my throat called “herpangina”. It’s the cousin to Hand, Foot, Mouth disease because both are caused by the same virus just different variations. It was painful, and I’m still – two weeks later – dealing with one big sore left in the back of my throat that’s taking a while to heal. The pain was awful in the beginning – and I could not eat anything that wasn’t a milkshake. 10665183_699683870117237_2650253020165325563_nNot even soup because it was too spicy (yes, soup!) and set me on fire. I sneezed at one point and thought my entire throat was going to come out. VERY very painful. I finally went to the doctor because I thought it may have been strep – but nope. He knew I was in a lot of pain, so he gave me a low-dose of prednisone to help the healing process. And, thankfully, the pain started to dull by that afternoon.
  • Speaking of prednisone, I now understand why doctors are cautious of giving diabetics steroids. Within 1 hour, my glucose readings went through the roof. But, the pain was easing, so I didn’t care. I raised my high threshold on my Dexcom, called my endo and asked how to handle the difference in BG’s (because, honestly, I didn’t feel like trying to troubleshoot on my own. I’m thankful to have a very good endo who has my back whenever I need him).
  • The prednisone gave me a new perspective on insulin resistance that was similar to how things were in my third trimester of my pregnancy, but without the worry of harming my unborn child. Seeing how I could go from a 1:8 carb ratio to one of 1:4 within 1 day and then have to remember that, yes, being off by just 2g of carb really COULD make a difference in my glucose later… yeah… it was nerve wracking, but so very cool at the same time. It was a learning experience, and one that made me feel even more compassion to those who deal with insulin resistance every day.
  • School is back in session, so my past weekend’s break was nice. And my BG’s were easier to control, so it made me realize just how stressed I’m staying while in school, and it makes graduating in May look that much better.
  • I finally have a treadmill. My husband promised we could get one for our anniversary, so we scouted and looked and finally came across one that was half-off and more within our budget range. It’s not a top-of-the-line gym model, but it will do for what we need, and for what we paid for it – I would have paid a 1-year gym membership, so we broke even there but the biggest advantage is that I can use it at home whenever I want/need to.
  • 1899983_705997876152503_6975308679029554123_nOn the topic of my t:slim and the Accu-chek Ultraflex infusion sets – I have been doing so much better with those verses the Insets that I loved so dearly. I have no idea for the reason, all I know is that it works. So, even though I don’t’ have the cool colors to choose from, I’m happy because I have been able to use my t:slim without issue.
  • And, lastly, my eyes. I went for my checkup about the swelling/edema from the macroaneurysm earlier this year and all of the swelling and fluid has resolved and my vision has gone back to normal in that eye. I do have some “hard exudates” (collections of cholesterol/fat stuff from the fluid) left, but he said those would resolve on their own, but much slower. I do have a few places that need to be watched just from simply having diabetes for almost 26 years, so I’ll continue to see him every 6 months from now on.

That’s about it.. Wraps everything up. I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting until the end of this month but I’ll be sure to try to post more next month since, you know, it’s National Diabetes Awareness Month and all 🙂

 

Also, starting on the 20th (that’s this coming Monday), the Big Blue Test restarts the counter for this year’s Big Blue Test challenge. Click HERE to find out more about it!!!

Take A #bluecircle #selfie!

So, there’s this app from the International Diabetes Federation, or IDF, that lets you snap a photo and have the World Diabetes Day blue circle placed on top of it… automatically. No photoshopping, no Twibbon-ing, nothing. It’s all right there on your phone, in the app.

 


Take your photo with your camera right then, or choose a photo from your photo library.. you know… since you might not be selfie-ready at the moment or you might already have an awesome selfie in your library to use…. Don’t want to have your face in it? That’s okay.. you can take a picture of anything, like your diabetes supplies, a BG number, or an infusion site!

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You can choose to share your photo or download it (which, of course, you may share it even still after that… I did so I could put it on Instagram too 🙂 ).

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The only thing I wish it would let you do is to place the circle onto a square photo (yeah, I’m TOTALLY a square pic girl), but you can move the circle to where you think it would be there if you cropped the photo for Instagram or a profile picture.

Of course, in the app, you can also give the IDF automatic permission to use your photo in their Blue Circle Selfies Flickr account, to help spread awareness. I did, and a few of mine are already up. But if you change your mind, you can turn it off if you want to later.

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I have to say, I love this app. It’s simple and easy and it lets me put the WDD circle on my pictures. Go get it. Play around with it. Add your photo to the other #wdd #bluecircle #selfies and let’s share the blue circle love.

Unplugging, Listening and Walking

Vacation time is when I try to unplug from the social media world for a while and just spend time with family. I did sign in a few times to Facebook to upload a few pictures and post a couple of statuses, but I didn’t stay on it like I usually do. I’m trying to wean myself from it, to be honest. Last week was a perfect week to do so.

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We also had a great time just staying at the house and cooking at the beach house rather than eating out at restaurants and things. We made it our home away from home. But the one night we went out, we had sushi… and I ate a Dori… Dori Roll that is. The restaurant also had an amazing silver fish sculpture hanging from the ceiling as you entered the door… it was amazing.

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The weather was wonderful until Thursday, when Hurricane Arthur came through, but even then it was just like a windy rainstorm all day. Otherwise, we had nice sunny days, mid-80 degree weather with a nice breeze and cool beach waves.Yeah, my phone was in my hand a lot of times, but it was to take pictures rather than find out what everyone else was doing and up to.image (3)

It’s nice to unplug every now and then. It lets me recenter my thoughts and decide what path I need to take – whether to continue on the one I am on or to change directions. We all leave our footprints in our social media posts or blogs, but how often do we just sit back and close our eyes and just listen to what the waves are saying? Or where and how we are walking along with them? Walk too close, and our footprints are lost as soon as they’re made in the vast ocean. Walk too far, and our footprints are just empty holes in the sand. But walking just right down that area where the sand is not too hard and not too soft and the waves keep it like a sponge, the footprints are made and they last a good while. There is an intricate dance that happens between the waves, the sand, and you footprints, as is with the dance of life. What does it all mean? I don’t know.. I’m still trying to figure it out, along with a lot of things – with life, my career, my diabetes, my social media, my blog. I did a lot of thinking this week. It was a much needed time to just relax and think… and run after an almost-3-year-old, of course. Do I have an answer for anything? Nope. But I do have a few ideas, we’ll just have to see how they work out.

It was a good week. A relaxing week. An insightful week. But it was a man-I-can’t-wait-to-sleep-in-my-own-bed week too.

Making Progress

When I went to my endo appointment in April, I was really upset with myself. Not just weight, but also just the amount of insulin I was taking and all. Granted, I was also in school and it was around the hardest part of the semester, so mindless eating was my go-to stress reliever.

Now that I’ve taken the summer off and I’m not stressing over a lot of things, not just school, I’m concentrating on my own health. Yes, I still have my normal duties to think of, but I’m working on a routine that I hope I can stick to when school starts back in the fall. When the semester ended at the beginning of May, I took advantage of the new “time off” I had and steered it toward getting active. My dear friend challenged me to a friendly walking competition of walking 50 miles by July 6th (or 5th? I can’t remember.) I have to say, I bucked it at first. There was just no way. It was getting hot here already and I don’t have a gym membership to be able to use a treadmill, so I didn’t think it was possible. But, I had 2 months to complete it, so that would mean I could just do things slow and steady – maybe 1 mile a day… not to bad, huh?

Today, a month and a few days in, I’m at 46 miles of my 50. I’ve not lost a lot of weight (about 3 pounds I think… It’s hard to know with the swelling that comes and goes). Just this past weekend? Friday night I walked 3 miles, and Saturday I walked 6 (3 in the morning and 3 in the evening). That’s 9 miles within 36 hours. I NEVER would have dreamed of being able to do that in April or even in the beginning of May (granted, I needed a lot of IcyHot that night on my calves!).

Disclaimer: AS ALWAYS, YOUR DIABETES MAY VARY!

But, where I was missing the point, was in my own diabetes care. It wasn’t until yesterday when I looked at my pump and thought, “You know, it’s been a while since I changed my cartridge.” Sure enough, I had changed it last Wednesday. That was 6 days off of one cartridge that I usually get 3-4 days out of. I checked my total daily dose averages for 7 days, and it shocked me.

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My TDD of insulin when I had gone to my endo back in April was around 45-46u per day. Yesterday? It was 29.38. That’s freakin’ awesome. Granted, I also use MyFitnessPal, and even just tracking food helped to bring it down an average of 10u from what my records show, but adding in the exercise brought it down even more.

I’m not saying that this is how it will work for you, but I have my own experience as well as I know others who have told me of how making little changes helps to reduce your insulin needs, and it’s true. Granted, I know I will never be off of insulin completely – that’s just a given with being Type 1, but doing things to help implement a healthier lifestyle through food choices and exercise goes a loooong way to feeling better, at least. If not doing it for ANY other reason, just feeling better is a huge payoff for the hard work (of course, don’t ask me how “good” I actually feel in the morning when I can’t move my legs… hoping that will pass soon!)

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This morning, I had the awesome satisfaction of filling my insulin pump with just about 100u, not my normal 150u. It felt good. I felt like for once, I had accomplished something very cool. Even though the scale isn’t moving as fast as I’d like, I’m loving the other benefits I’m seeing. I’m making progress, and that’s all that matters.

(And, I’m thinking of making this thing a monthly goal of 50 miles….Am I crazy???)

My New Fav. App : CalorieKing, ControlMyWeight

When I had to upgrade my from my Disetronic H-Tron Plus to the new Accu-Chek Spirit years ago, the representative went over several options I had for carb counting. Reason being was because since the Disetronic had no way of calculating carbs, I honestly just knew to eat a certain amount of carbs and to bolus a set amount. It was a strange way, but it worked for me back then. When I upgraded, it came with a Palm Treo cell phone that had their own bolus calculator and logbook integrated into the phone (or you could choose a PDA if you wanted). Anyway, to make a long story short, she suggested the CalorieKing website. I was hooked from then on. All I had ever known was the book, but to have a website with search? Yep. Totally up my alley.

Fast forward until today. Pumps have come a long way since then. Most all of them have some sort of calculator in their system making it much easier to calculate your dose based on various amounts of carbohydrates. Granted, I still stick to having a steady amount of carbs per meal, but I can vary those if I want, but I just have to be mindful of the total amount of carbs no matter what, and CalorieKing remains my go-to source for carbohydrate amounts in foods I’m not familiar with. Since it was available, I’ve had the CalorieKing app on my phone – no matter which phone I use. It’s a staple in my diabetes care. And now, with all the fitness apps out there too, such as MyFitnessPal (which I LOVE), CalorieKing has one of their own as well. It’s called ControlMyWeight (obviously they like their words to run together… like a hashtag… minus the hashtag). In this app, you can set up a set amount of calories you’d like to track for a day, and it also lets you track water intake and minutes of exercise. But, what I love most about the app is you can set it to show the total amount of carbs per meal.

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This way, you can just search for all of the foods you plan to eat, and it keeps a running total. Granted, as far as a weightloss app, it’s pretty fair but expensive in my opinion at $4.99, but I still think MyFitnessPal beats it (because it’s awesome and free). And if MFP integrates an option to total the carb count per meal, I’d absolutely have no reason to look anywhere else. But as far as just finding out how many carbs would be in your total meal for something you may not be used to eating, the Control My Weight app does a good job at keeping a running total for you. And, if you choose to let it be your calorie counting app and you keep a dedicated log in it, you can tap the circle that has the lines in it in the upper right hand corner, and it will give you a summary for that day, with Calories and Carbs at the top. So, if you have a goal per day that you aim towards, you can see how you’re fitting in there.

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Why do I see all of that as important? Because when it comes to taking insulin, it’s good to maintain a good basal to bolus ratio. So, for me, a 60/40 ratio is ideal. Since *my* daily total basal is 20.7u, then my boluses should typically average 13.8u per day, or about 150g of carb. (Your diabetes may vary**). This is also why when I go on a lower carb diet, I typically have to lower my basal rate, otherwise the ratio is thrown off and I go low a lot more often and and up making up the excess with glucose tablets.

To some, this may not be a big deal. If you have the Tandem t:slim or Asante Snap pumps that also have a carb calculator built in, you may not need something like this and could rely on just the standard (and free) CalorieKing app, but if you don’t, this may be an app you might want to check out and see if you like it for yourself.

The mySugr App

It seems that having different ways of spelling “sugar” is catching on.. and I like it! 🙂 But I’m not talking about “suga” today, I’m talking about sugr.. as in mySugr… new diabetes logging app on the block. Well, it’s not new… it’s been overseas since 2011, but isn’t that usually the case? Thank you, FDA.

My journey with the app began in late 2011 / early 2012 when I saw a post on a fellow d-friend from Australia’s wall on Facebook. I looked at the website, but there wasn’t much to being able to see how the app worked, so I emailed the nice people over at mySugr to see if I could have a way to see the app in action. When Fredrik Debong emailed me with an invite to Skype about the app, I was excited.

mySugr MonsterWe spoke for about an hour at length about the app and what all had gone into development. We spoke stories of our childhood and our diabetes and compared how things were for me here in the US verses for him in Sweden and Australia. At the core of the discussion was how tedious and mundane diabetes management is and how the least bit of encouragement and fun that can be placed into taking care of ourselves can improve our outlook on our diabetes and ourself. And that is where Fredrik said the idea of mySugr was born.

I left that conversation with an excitement for the app even more than I had before. I was given the ability to be an alpha tester for the app to help see how I liked the app and to see what I thought needed improving or not. I remember when the little monster was just a square composed of 9 little blocks that would move around and make sounds when you entered information. Even in it’s beginning stages, the app was cool.

Now, over the past year or so, they’ve worked and improved things tremendously, added lots of cool features, and it even now has a cute buggy-eyed monster that you can name. (Mine’s name is Suga, by the way.) Each entry adds points towards your daily point goal, of which can help unlock premium features. There are also challenges that you can sign up for as well, one involving their partnership with JDRF where you “can do 30 minutes of sports within 2 days and collect points for the community. The points are collected, the more money is donated.” And doing this? Earns you 3 days of Pro features. How cool is that? So, if you don’t want to pay for pro features, at least there is a way to earn it… and I must say, it’s quite fun to do so.

I have been so very anxious and excited for this app to finally come to the US, and it has now (well, as of yesterday…. but who’s counting?). If you’re a manual logger for any reason, I highly suggest this app above all of the others (and trust me, I’ve tried and paid for a LOT of them, and this tops them all in my opinion). I have to admit though, I don’t use it very often now, but before t:connect came out for the Tandem t:slim, this was my go-to logging app. The interface, ease of use, and awesome reports all work together in a nice little package that somehow makes you want to keep logging. It’s cool, fun and functional. It’s easy to use and engages you so that it’s not boring old logging, but fun logging. And really, can you resist not seeing that cute little monster above?? (And seriously, it’s sound is even cuter…. you’ve been warned.)

Here’s a little video to give you a better idea of the app:

And, here’s another little video the guys have put together to show you how it is used throughout the day.

Living with the mySugr Companion from mySugr on Vimeo.
Right now, you can get the app for free from the AppStore, and you can upgrade to Pro (in-app purchase) for half-price during the next two weeks. So go on! Give it a try!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write about this app nor to endorse it. As stated above, I had been working with Fredrik for well over a year and believed in him and his story so much, and knew the backstory about the app from him and I know that this is a project from his and his co-founder’s hearts. I was in love with this app at first sight and still am.. which is a lot to say coming from me who regularly downloads and deletes these types of apps. I do full-heartedly recommend this app.

Noted

How do you keep up with your pump settings for doctor appointments? Do you print out the sheet from your pump program or do you go through the pump during the appointment to pull this stuff up?

Do you ever use a “note” to keep note of what your prior basal rates were before basal testing? Or do you use just a separate basal profile for testing?

I’ve just begun to use the “Notes” app in my phone to keep track of my basal rates for appointments and basal testing changes. Do you have another apps that work better than the notes app? I’m an app geek, so any suggestions are welcome. 🙂

Progress

I’ve been battling with my weight since I stopped breastfeeding. And not just my weight, but my blood sugars too. I’ve tried WeightWatchers (which worked okay, but not as good as the old points system), but having “fruits and veggies” as a “free” food just doesn’t make sense to me… They’re still calories, right? I sure as heck still have to bolus for them. I’ve tried starting back to Zumba, but it was frustrating because soon into my workout, I was dropping low, so I felt like everything I was doing was negated by the intake of carbs.

I was frustrated. How the heck am I supposed to stop gaining weight and lose it?

That’s where Ginger comes in.

Coming from the “country”, you can imagine what sorts of foods I’m used to. Just open up a Paula Deen cookbook and there ya go… only much more limited. I rarely would eat veggies. Heck, I don’t even know how to COOK most of them! They were something I only ate maybe 2-3 times PER MONTH. Sad, I know. Since talking and texting with Ginger, I have learned how to cook a few things.

One major focus we had was avoiding gluten-containing foods. I haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac, but we wanted to see how I would do without them in my diet and see if some of my “ailments” (for lack of better wording) would improve.

After just ONE phone session with her, I have made some pretty big changes. And GUESS WHAT? I’m DOWN FIVE (5) pounds! But not just that! I feel better. I don’t feel muggy brained and huge. I haven’t had my terrible can’t-see-straight headache that I usually get once a week. I can actually drag my butt out of the bed in the morning. And my blood sugars?? They still have room for improvement, but I’m doing MUCH better.

I’m also eating veggies 2-3 times PER DAY along with more fruits and better proteins, and hardly ANY gluten containing foods (yeah, I cheated once or twice). I’m not fully low-carb, but I have cut down BIG TIME, from about 200 carbs per day, to about 80-ish, and I keep my calories around 300 per meal. I’m also drinking more water and only ONE carbonated/caffeinated drink per day until I’m weaned off of caffeine.

My hardest challenge right now is not eating when I’m stressed or worried.. or studying.

Next we’re working on how to exercise… correctly… to use “fat for fuel”, as she says.

 

DISCLOSURE: I am working with Ginger Vieira for a few sessions (or rather, she’s working with me?) in exchange for a few blog posts here. Everything I say here is the 100% honest truth of how I feel during these sessions. Any advice she has given me is STRICTLY tailored to ME, not you, so don’t take advice she has given me as a general guideline. She is an awesome Diabetes Coach, mainly because she KNOWS what it’s like to live with diabetes and have the same frustrations we do because SHE is a diabetic too. If you want to know more about Ginger, you can find her site HERE, or on Facebook HERE.

Guest Post : Synsyre Gets Sincere… About Diabetes

Alexis has been a good friend of mine since she came into the Diabetes Online Community. Hours and hours were spent on the phone in the early days when Justice was still using the Accu-Chek Spirit pump, and through those chats, we found out we have a LOT in common. She volunteered to do a guest post for me and I told her to surprise me… and she did. She asked her other son, Synsyre, to do a video post about his feelings as a sibling of a child with diabetes.

Synsyre on Diabetes:

“Sometimes diabetes rocks, and sometimes diabetes sucks…and also makes me feel great because I always have to help people.”

Synsyre, you’re one awesome d-brother. Never lose your drive to help your brother and others. 😉

Alexis, Thank you SO much for this video! You rock!