“I’ll Have a Regular Soda, Please.”

A funny thing about life with diabetes is that new experiences occur all the time. For example, this was a first for me the other day: ordering a regular soda at a restaurant instead of a diet.

Why was this necessary? I chalk it up to a few different factors that affected my blood sugar: 1) I did strength training earlier in the day, which can make me go low several hours after the fact. 2) I ignored the diagonal down arrow that had appeared on my CGM, because I really didn’t think I’d end up below 100 mg/dL before dinner. 3) It took a long time for our dinner to come out, and I’d made the rookie mistake of bolusing soon after ordering the food. 4) I also think I miscalculated the carbs in my dinner – I’m used to ordering this particular dish, a cajun chicken salad, with a beer or two. But since I gave up alcohol for Lent (more on this in an upcoming blog post), I wasn’t getting the extra carbs from the beer, which I forgot to take into account.

So yeah, in hindsight, I could’ve seen the low blood sugar coming. But I just didn’t anticipate some of these occurrences, such as our food coming out late. This particular restaurant is usually timely, but since it was a Saturday evening and the bar was rapidly filling up, I should’ve connected the dots.

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Diet Coke has a special place in my part, but in a hypoglycemic emergency, it just won’t cut it.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda. There was nothing I could do about my rapidly dropping blood sugar, unless I bit the bullet and ordered a regular soda. Shoving my diet root beer to the side, I flagged down my semi-bemused bartender and asked for a regular Pepsi, trying to ignore the fact that he was joking about how “diet just wouldn’t do it for me any longer, eh”.

If only he knew that the circumstances required sugar, stat.

It only took him about 60 seconds to deliver the Pepsi, but it felt like a long time. My CGM alerted me to an urgent low and things around me were a little fuzzy. I was trying to engage in conversation with my companions, who knew that I was going low, but maybe weren’t aware of how quickly I was going down due to my determination to appear normal.

Once my Pepsi arrived, I gulped down several sips and sighed with relief as my dinner appeared soon after. I wolfed down every last bit of it within 15 minutes, taking breaks only to drink a little more soda. I knew I needed to control how much I drank, because I didn’t want to end up sky high later on in the night.

Fortunately, my blood sugar was coming back up to normal within no time, and I actually didn’t even go higher than 172 mg/dL for the remainder of the night. A huge win, all things considered. Even though it was a somewhat scary experience, I’m glad I did what I needed to in order to take proper care of myself…even if that meant drinking regular soda, which was actually pretty gross. How do people actually enjoy that saccharine sludge?!

How I Learned the Importance of Carb Counting

One recent evening, I was rummaging through the kitchen pantry and noticed a bag of “veggie stix” stashed away, waiting to get opened. The sight of the bag instantly brought back memories of a time I was blatantly irresponsible with my carb counting and insulin dosing…

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…It was my junior year of college. I had plans to meet with a friend for dinner at seven o’clock. While that’s a standard suppertime for many people, it was kind of late for me. So that explains why I decided to treat myself to a snack a couple hours before it was time to go, just to hold me until I had my meal. My snack of choice? A bag of veggie stix just like these were sitting in the kitchen of my on-campus apartment. I thought I’d help myself to a few, believing (naively) that I had enough self control to know when to stop shoveling them down my gullet. That’s right, instead of doing the right thing and counting out a bunch before stowing the bag away, I was blindly consuming handful after handful without dosing for a single stick.

I can’t even use the defense that these veggie stix are strangely addicting – they really are, they taste a little like those potato sticks that used to come in cans – because I knew what I was doing wasn’t good for me. I just didn’t care. I had munched my way through half of the bag when it dawned on me that it would probably be smart to stop myself from eating more. I rolled up the bag, returned to my room, and did some homework until it was time to meet with my gal pal.

Little did I know that my blood sugar was rising to potentially dangerous levels.

I didn’t find out how high I was – over 400 mg/dL – until I reached the sandwich shop and had a plate full of chicken pesto carb-y goodness waiting to be consumed. My face must’ve shown my shock, because my friend asked me if I was alright. I quickly explained to her my mistake, and took an extra large bolus to cover my food and correct my blood sugar. Once that was done, I somehow managed to stop panicking long enough to enjoy the dinner with my friend, even though I couldn’t eat a bite of mine until an hour or so after injecting my insulin.

Although it sucked to go through this, I’m kind of glad that it happened because I learned a major lesson from it: ALWAYS count my carbs. It doesn’t matter if I WANT to be lazy or pretend that my diabetes doesn’t exist, I HAVE to hold myself accountable. It may be mentally draining and a bit of a nuisance, but it’s my own health here. It’s up to me, and me alone, to manage it.

And by the way, I did just help myself to the above bag of veggie stix. I had exactly 24 pieces, which equals exactly 5.4 grams of carbohydrates – a much smaller amount than what I ate that one night five years ago.

How to Change an OmniPod

I decided to do something a little different and take video of how to change an OmniPod. Rest assured, though, that it does not take 22 seconds – it’s more like a seven-minute process.

Some things you’ll notice about my process:

  1. I fill my syringe with insulin and set it aside before deactivating my old pod. This simply means that I wear the old pod a little bit longer so there’s less of an interruption in time that I go without insulin.
  2. I use a pen to smack bubbles out of the syringe. Air bubbles will inevitably develop when drawing insulin out of a vial, so I find that gently hitting the sides of the syringe with a pen is the most effective way to get rid of the pesky air pockets.
  3. I prep my site with an alcohol swab, followed by a skin-tac wipe. The alcohol merely cleans the site, whereas the skin-tac makes the pod adhere to my skin better and longer.
  4. The new pod activates best when it is adjacent to my PDM. I always place my new pod to the right of my PDM. This helps the PDM register the new pod.
  5. It doesn’t actually hurt when I rip off an old pod. Not sure if you detected my dramatic facial expressing, but I was just yukking it up for the camera. It truly doesn’t hurt, especially if you just remove it in one swift motion.

So that’s it, the full process boiled down into 22 measly seconds. I admit that I kind of had fun making this video, even though the sight of myself sans make-up is semi-horrifying. But give me a break, I was on my way to a Pilates class! And let’s be real, diabetes isn’t always glamorous.

My Diabetes and My Dog: Do they Mix?

Clarence the puppy came home last week! I’m loving getting to know him. It’s beyond adorable to watch him explore his new environment, but it’s also a lot of work.

I knew that he might affect my diabetes, but I figured it would mainly be in positive ways: He’d help keep me active and console me when I was feeling down about it. But there’s also a couple of drawbacks. I confess that instead of my blood sugars being my number one priority, it’s Clarence that takes precedence.

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This little dude is my whole world right now.

It’s not like I’m completely forgetting to take care of my diabetes, or that it’s far from my thoughts. It’s more that I let things go a little longer, that I push the limits a smidgen. For instance, my first full day with him, I woke up and tested my blood sugar but did not test again until the evening. I was trusting my Dexcom readings as I got better acquainted with the puppy. And I tended to graze on food all day long instead of sitting down for real meals. In fact, dinner that first night was almost comical. My T1D mom and I ate a lukewarm meal over the course of about 40 minutes while we took turns taking Clarence outside. We were so concerned with getting him to do his business that we didn’t really care about feeding ourselves in a timely manner.

I know that it’s just a transitional phase, though. Clarence will get adjusted to his new home in due time and we’ll get used to a new routine tailored to suit both our needs and his needs.

And in case you’re wondering, I think Clarence is forming a general awareness of my diabetes. When we were playing on the floor, he walked around me and sniffed at the pod I was wearing on my lower back. He’s a bit mouthy (part of being a puppy), so I was worried he might try to nip at it. Instead, he backed away and picked up one of his toys.

Attaboy, Clarence – he’s a smart cookie.

Easter Basket Dos and Don’ts for People with Diabetes

Please don’t judge me for what I’m about to say…

…Even though I’m an adult, I still get Easter baskets. I know, I’m a bit spoiled.

The contents of said Easter baskets have varied over the years. But the ever-thoughtful Easter bunny has always been conscientious of the goodies he places within it, given my diabetes. After all, diabetes doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Easter treats, both of the sugary and sugar-free variety.

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One of my favorite Easter baskets received as an adult contained a stuffed animal, two bottles of wine, a book of crossword puzzles, and Easter chocolates.

Whether a kid or an adult, here’s some ideas for an Easter basket that any T1D in your life will appreciate:

For kids:
Coloring books, markers/crayons/colored pencils, stickers, comic books, movies, frisbees, outdoor/warm weather toys, nail polish, puzzles, mini games, stuffed animals…

For adults:
Lottery tickets, gift cards, coffee, wine/beer (one of the best finds in an Easter basket, TBH), gum, other small snacks, books…

Truly, depending on who the basket is for, there’s a ton of possibilities as to what can fill it.

My thoughts on candy:
I’m the only person I know who doesn’t completely loathe sugar-free chocolates. Obviously, I prefer actual chocolate – because, you know, that’s what tastes good. But I don’t exactly love all the carbs in it. I find that snacking on sugar-free chocolates (as long as the quantity is small) satisfies a sweets craving well enough. But I also think that real treats, like Reese’s peanut butter eggs (my weakness) or Cadbury eggs (pure confectionary delight) are okay. After all, Easter is only once a year. And with carb counts widely available these days, it’s easy to know exactly how many you’re consuming.

Plus…who doesn’t love a good candy sale the day after a holiday? Talk about a great low blood sugar stash!

On another note…Happy Easter, Happy Passover, and Happy Spring to you!!!

Fantastic News! Dexcom G6 is Approved by the FDA

The official announcement has appeared across all sorts of social media in the last 48 hours, but I thought I’d say something about it here, too…

The FDA approved the Dexcom G6, the new and improved version of their Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) system!

This is particularly exciting, because the G6 comes with many new and exciting features:

  • 10-day wear (as opposed to seven days)
  • Slimmer and smaller sensor
  • Easy-to-use inserter
  • Zero calibrations necessary – the system does not require manual blood sugar inputs

Visit the Dexcom website to read about all of the details. And as more information comes out about its availability, stay tuned…

…because you may recognize a familiar name and face along the way!

 

Low Carb Lasagna Exists, and it is Amazing

Nothing screams “comfort food” quite like a hot, cheesy, and utterly delicious slice of lasagna. Unfortunately, though, said lasagna has a tendency to make my CGM scream, because consumption of the carb-laden food usually skyrockets my blood sugar.

On the bright side, a very low carb version of this dish exists, and it is just as wonderful as its starchy counterpart. The ground beef, pasta sauce, and mozzarella-parmesan blend are all there – the only bit that’s different is what’s used in lieu of pasta.

Instead of pasta, use cabbage leaves. No, I’m not kidding.

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Cabbage lasagna looks and tastes just like its carb-ier alternative.

The cabbage soaks up the flavors of the sauce, meat, and cheese. As the concoction is baked, the cabbage also takes on the same consistency as pasta. It slices just as easily, and no, you really can’t taste the cabbage flavor (unless you pick out several chunks of it to eat on their own, but honestly, who does that?). It’s such a satisfying meal that I promise you won’t miss the carbs from the pasta.

Besides, if you’re like me and enjoy eating a healthy amount of carbs daily…you can always add a slice or two of garlic bread to your meal. I did just that, and in addition to having a well-rounded meal, I experienced great post-dinner blood sugars: a diabetes win!