Diabetes Yo Yo

It was a bit of a rough night. The morning started way too early for my liking, although our two year old seemed okay with it. (UGH!)

When my husband tested his blood sugar last night, it was in the 240’s. We kind of expected it to be high, because we had jasmine rice at dinner. We rarely have rice, but last night I was hankering for this for dinner. I will be having it for lunch today too. It was hard to stop at just one bowl. 🙂 At about 2:30AM, I heard my husband’s c-pap machine turn off. At 5:45, I don’t notice it, but my mind must have known it was the wrong time. I sat up, put my glasses on and asked what was going on. I asked if he had a low blood sugar and he said he thought so. He sounded a little slow, so I got up to check it for him. 57!

In the course of four and a half hours it went from 240 to 57.

This does not reassure me about his upcoming business trip!

After bringing his blood sugar back up to the normal range, covering the sheets from his sweat fest, and laying back down, I couldn’t sleep. First he was snoring. Then that two year old wasn’t interested in going back to sleep. I was going over “Where did we (I) go wrong?” And I couldn’t stop thinking about how to prepare him for his trip, to ease my mind and to help him in the case of a low blood sugar.

I told him that he had to wake up to test each night he is gone, no matter what. I am going to make sure he has some Squeezable apple sauce, pbj’s, and small sodas available. And I am going to pray A LOT.

(What are some other ready to go snacks he could have available?)

Parents of kids with diabetes, how on earth do you survive time away from your kids? I feel like a control freak, or that I am being really annoying about this. We’ve survived time apart before, but still I worry.

By the way, I went to the library yesterday and brought this home:

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Just a little light reading for the kids’ summer break. 🙂

Back to that low blood sugar, what’s the deal with rice anyway?

Sugar!

Yesterday my husband and I were at Lowe’s, looking at this and that. When we found something we wanted, we moseyed our way up to the cash register. I looked at him and asked if he was okay. He said “Yes”, but I could tell by the look on his face that his blood sugar was low. I asked him if his blood sugar was low and he said “yeah, it might be”.

It was just a quick trip to Lowe’s while the baby was napping and I didn’t know if we had glucose tablets in the truck. The soda fridge was right there, so I grabbed a Mt. Dew, “just in case”.

As we walked to our vehicle, I looked at the nutrition label and gasped. “This has 77 grams of sugar in it!”‘ I told him that if his blood sugar was low, he only needed to drink like a third of it. He tested at 54, and drank just a third. I was actually surprised. He typically chugs a soda if his blood sugar is low, which makes it go sky high. Those of you with diabetes know the drill. Too low, too high, just right is somewhere in between.

When we got home, I got our little scale out and measured out 77 grams of sugar:

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It’s not the world’s greatest picture, but LOOK AT ALL THAT SUGAR! In one 20 oz soda!

How much is 77 grams of sugar? There are 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon. (77 grams = about 19 teaspoons) Three teaspoons in one tablespoon. (19 teaspoons = about 6 tablespoons) Four Tablespoons in a quarter cup. (6 tablespoons = 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup)

To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement!

I have never been a diehard sugar avoider, but this made me look at some of the foods I eat. Yikes.

The World Health Organization recommends that the maximum amount of added sugar per day for women is 25 grams. For men, 37.5. So if you are a woman, a Mt Dew is three times the daily allowance, and twice the daily allowance for a  man.

Whoah.

At first I was confused, because milk has 12 grams of sugar per 8 ounces and I thought “Wait! That is half the daily allowance!” Thankfully, it is ADDED sugars, although we should not be overindulging on the natural sugars either.

If it wasn’t for my husband’s diabetes, I might not have even noticed how much sugar is in stuff. I tell you, I was a crazy woman, running around, checking the nutrition label on EVERYTHING I put in my mouth. It’s not pretty. Sugar is added to nearly everything. They don’t make it easy for you either, because added sugars and natural sugars are counted together on nutrition labels. So you kind of have to super sleuth it.

How much sugar is in your favorite food? Have you ever realized how much sugar is in everything we eat?

As a side funny, my husband told me that the 77 must have been a misprint, he’s never seen it that high. I used that trusty Google to visit the manufacturer’s site and there, right on the site, 77 grams! I showed it to him, then he brought up that time that I thought the speed limit on our road was 40 and went to prove it and it was only 35. I don’t know what that has to do with sugar, but whatever. 😉

Have You Tried Essential Oils?

Ahem. I might step on a few toes today. That is not my intent, but sometimes the suggestions given to my husband are crazy, even if they are well intentioned. Nobody likes to see a friend or a loved one suffer from a disease that *might* be cured or managed. My husband has heard some zingers. These are a few of the suggestions he has heard from others regarding his diabetes and the reason(s) why he is not/ has not/ will not try(ing) them.

1. Have you tried essential oils? No. His doctor doesn’t really recommend essential oils has a viable method of controlling his diabetes.

2. I heard that okra in water will cure diabetes. No. I think if this worked, we would all know about it and there would be an okra shortage. (Source: http://www.diabetesdaily.com/blog/2014/03/why-okra-will-not-cure-your-diabetes/)

3. If you just had more faith, your diabetes would be cured. Do I believe that God COULD cure diabetes? Yes, but so far He hasn’t. My husband said that he was approached at a family wedding by an aunt who thought she could cure him with her faith. This many years later, he’s still diabetic. This has become an inside joke for us though. When his blood sugars are whacked, I tell him to get “in the word”. I’ve heard it’s a cure for all that ails ya. (Don’t hate us, we’re believers. We also think we are funny)

4. Medifast.  I can’t tell you how many times Medifast has been recommended for my husband for weight loss and diabetes control. I have seen Medifast work wonders for some people. I am not discounting that it’s a great product for some people; however when we looked into it we were told that my husband needed to check with his health care provider before starting this program. In fact, straight from here is this: If you have type 1 diabetes, it is essential to discuss Medifast with your health care provider or diabetes specialist before you start any of our plans for weight loss. He has been seeing the same doctor for 15 years. He has a good relationship with him. He asked him about Medifast. His doctor said that he did not think this was a good option for my husband. Rather than leave the people hanging that had recommended this to us, I politely informed them that his doctor did not recommend this route. These were the responses:

  • “What? Really? I have never had a doctor say no before” (There’s a first time for everything?)
  • “He obviously doesn’t understand what it is. Let me give you information to take with you next time. In fact, do you want me to come with you?” (no)
  • “That’s weird. Our doctor said it was okay for my diabetes.” (ok)
  • “Why would he say no? That doesn’t even make sense!” (none of your business)
  • “If his doctor said no, he has a good reason. Honestly, I sell it and wouldn’t recommend it for your husband.” (smile)

5. What about an insulin pump? Yes. Yes. Yes! We have looked into this before, but at the time, the cost was prohibitive. Now my husband has double coverage. I just checked his benefits and BOTH insurances cover the insulin pump! He has had some major medical expenses in the past two years and our out of pocket costs have been minimal. It looks like this will be the case for the pump. He has an appointment with his doctor soon and we will be asking about this again!

Did I step on your toes? I hope not, but when you are a diabetic (I am not) you have heard it all…. for the most part. To keep our patience, we try to remember that people are just trying to help because they care. It’s actually the people who are offended that we are not taking their suggestion that test our patience. We have learned to say “Thank you” rather than give the reason why what they said will not work for him. If you are diabetic, what are some helpful/ unhelpful things you have heard to cure or manage your diabetes? 

ETA: Out of all these things, the only one he has tried is prayer, although he isn’t praying that he’s cured. He’s praying that he manages well. So he can’t say without a doubt that none of these will work to manage his diabetes. 🙂

P.S. in an earlier post I talked about how my husband’s insurance only wanted to cover 100 test strips a month. We talked to a different pharmacist the last time we filled his test strips and she knew the work around/ coding needed for insurance. They just needed to know that he had a condition that required the test strips, because people like to fake diabetes, you know. 

Diabetes: Must Be Mathematically Proficient

If there is something most of my family does not enjoy, it’s math. Unless it has to do with adding and subtracting their spending money. Of course they are all over that!

It makes it interesting that the treatment and care of diabetes includes SO. MANY. NUMBERS.

There’s carbs. “How many carbs are in this?”

And blood sugar “What is my current blood sugar? What do I need my blood sugar to be?”

And insulin, oh my. “How many units of this do I need to take?”

My dear, overly sweet (hence the diabetes? He’s so sweet, he’s diabetic. HA) husband doesn’t like to think about it. His mind shuts off after adding up the carbs. Then he just takes a stab at it. “This looks like 10 units of insulin.”. Boom.

It never quite works out as well as he hopes it will. He either under doses and ends up feeling miserable from a high blood sugar, or he over doses and ends up feeling miserable from a low blood sugar.

“This one is too much, this one is too little…. this one is just right!”

This is the formula we use for dosing his insulin:

(Current blood sugar – target blood sugar)/amount glucose drops with each unit + (number of carbs/carbs per unit) = insulin dosage

That doesn’t sound complicated at all, right? I have to write this stuff down, because it’s more like this:

Carbs in meal (cottage cheese + fruit + salad/ dressing/ toppings + main course)

Take blood sugar. “Hon, how many carbs did you say were in the meal?”

“Hold on! I’ll add it up again.” Weigh, add, calculate.

“Shoot. I already forgot what my blood sugar was.” Checks monitor again. “Okay, I am _____ now, I want to be _____. I need it to drop 35 units, and I have to dose for my meal, and crap, 10! 10 is good.”

Then there is me. “No, hold on, I got this. You should actually take 6”.

Diabetes is a math nightmare. So, kids, if you are sitting in math class, rolling your eyes, thinking “When will I ever use this????”, remember

DIABETES.

(Although I hope it never happens to you)

Where Are We Going?

When I look back, it’s hard to believe that 17 years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about diabetes. Well, I guess I can’t say NOTHING. I knew my husband had it. I knew he had to test his blood sugar and take shots. I didn’t know about carbs, high blood sugars, low blood sugars. I was about to get a crash course though.

Less than a year into our marriage, my husband, stepdaughter, and I went camping with my parents. My parents have never camped in the local parks. Oh, no, as children we hiked miles to our camping locations. As adults, it was a little gentler, we just drove hours to our destination. (By the way, I miss those days!)

On this particular trip, I don’t remember how long we had been there or how long we were staying. I do remember waking up at some point in the night and knowing that something wasn’t right. I checked my husband. He was breathing, but he wasn’t particularly responsive. Fortunately I knew enough to know that not responding was not okay. I grabbed his blood glucose monitor. I had seen him use it hundreds of times. I looked at that thing, I pushed buttons, I looked at it again.

I had no clue what I was doing.

I ran to my parents’ camp site and knocked on their trailer door. “Something is wrong with Chad!” They woke up right away and came to our site. They tried to figure out this blood sugar tester thingamabob and we. were. CLUELESS. It was a bad time to realize that we had no idea how to operate this thing. I am not sure that I should even get points for knowing we NEEDED to use it.

My dad said the hospital was some 40+ miles away. Somehow we were able to get my husband into the truck. My mom stayed behind with my step daughter. My dad was hurtling down this windy, curvy road as fast as he could maneuver the corners. It was dark and it was a little concerning and I don’t think my anxiety could handle a trip like that today. I remember wondering what it was going to be like at the hospital. What would they do? Would he be okay? I didn’t have any experience in this department and I hadn’t prepared myself very well. It was his disease. I was just married to him. I never gave any thought to his diabetes.

Somewhere between the camp site and the hospital, my husband came out of his low blood glucose stupor. (I can’t remember if we had tried to give him anything. My mom probably remembers) What a surprise it must have been for him! He looked around and said “Where are we going?”

I told him we were headed to the hospital, because he hadn’t been responsive. Then he asked where his daughter was. I figured if he was aware enough to worry about the care of his daughter, he was probably okay, so I gave my dad the all clear to head back to camp.

You better believe that we learned to use that monitor immediately!

Also, the next morning, we were talking to the camp host and told him what had happened. He said he was diabetic and he could have helped us. Why didn’t we think of that?

I know the answer to that. Back then we didn’t think about a lot of things. We would eventually learn though.

Test Strips, Test Strips Everywhere!

My husband goes through a lot of test strips. 4-6 per day on a good day, up to 8-10 on others. He says he throws them away, but I am telling you, I FIND THEM EVERYWHERE! I’ve heard other people say the same thing about their family members, friends, or self with diabetes. Test strips everywhere. When we were on vacation, I found test strips in the driveway. I wonder if he has ever inadvertently left any in a restaurant?

I knew that he had reached new heights in dropping test strips when my 15 year old daughter came in the kitchen and said “I just found one of daddy’s test strips… IN MY BED!”

Now this is a miracle. He never even goes in their room and she is in the top bunk of a bunk bed!

We’ve got test strips…. everywhere!

How Low Can He Go?

The right amount of carbs + the right amount of insulin = Diabetes Bliss

The right amount of carbs + too much insulin = Diabetes Hell aka a low blood sugar

My least favorite thing about diabetes is the low blood sugar.

This is my husband

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This is my husband with a low blood sugar

Chad blood sugar beachThe difference may be so subtle that many people wouldn’t even notice. I don’t like this picture. It is a reminder of the time that I was so focused on something else that I didn’t notice he was not “right”. Usually I can look at him and tell by his stance, the look on his face, the way he holds his hands, and the way he talks to me. On this day, I completely missed it, and he had to bring it to my attention. A few days later I was looking through the pictures I had taken and it was as clear as day.

According to WebMD, symptoms of a low blood sugar include:

I normally have a sixth sense when it comes to my husband and his blood sugars. I called him from work a few years ago and knew he had a low blood sugar. I was too far away to help in a reasonable amount of time, so I called the paramedics.

Low blood sugars can be caused by too much insulin, too little carbs, and exercise. It happens when the body does not have enough glucose in its blood stream.

I asked my husband what it is like to have a low blood sugar. He said that for him, low blood sugar leads to confusion, exhaustion, and feeling like it is extremely difficult to move. I looked at him and smiled. “That explains the time you kept telling us your feet were glued to the floor”. He said that is exactly what it feels like, as if he is slogging through mud and it takes all of his strength and effort to lift his feet one more time. I asked if he knows that he is having a low blood sugar. He said “Sometimes, but it’s like I am in an alternate world. I know that’s what it is, but I can’t figure out what to do to take care of it.” He also said that diabetes likes to trick the brain. His body feels off, but his brain keeps telling him he is okay.

My daughter says that the scariest time for her was a day we were at Goodwill. My husband was shopping with the kids elsewhere in the store. I hadn’t seen him for a while. My daughter came up and said “Something is wrong with daddy”. It was very crowded and I had a hard time finding him. When I did, he was staggering like a drunk. I found a chair and sat him down. We had been at Target prior to Goodwill and I just happened to buy an orange juice. I had taken a sip of it, then put it back in my purse. His blood sugar was so low that the bottle didn’t help much. I grabbed a bottle out of their cooler and gave that to him. We’ve had to do this a few times over the years, and I do it knowing that I could risk making an employee angry. I don’t care. 🙂 Sometimes, like that day, a low blood sugar comes on so quick that he doesn’t have time to react to it.

Night time is the worst, because it is generally 8 hours of untreated diabetes. If you are resting, you are not testing your blood sugar. Lucky for my husband, I don’t sleep. Okay, I’m kidding. I do wake up several times a night to check on him though. I don’t always check his blood sugar, but I make sure he is breathing and not sweating. When he is sleeping, I can predict a blood sugar by the way he breathes and if he is sweating. A low blood sugar sweat does not present itself in the same way as “this room is way too hot” sweat.

I wish that people who know he has diabetes understood better the signs and symptoms of a low blood sugar. Last week, I made a spur of the moment decision to visit him at work. I didn’t tell him I was coming, I showed up. When I walked in, he was glad to see me, then he said “I’m not doing well”. He sat down and tested his blood sugar. It was 32. (anything less than 70 is considered low, although he is much more functional at 67 than he is 32) Even while he was treating his low blood sugar, his co-workers were talking to him, asking him questions, and trying to push him out the door for lunch.

If my husband has calculated his carbs and his insulin amount, he can’t decide halfway through that he just isn’t hungry anymore and skip eating the rest of his meal. Since he has already dosed for the entire meal, he’s kind of stuck eating the entire meal. It’s pretty inconvenient.

A low blood sugar can be relatively easy to counteract, you just have to catch it. One of the challenges we face is his insurance company only wants to cover 3 test strips per day. One for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner. Without insurance coverage, test strips are very expensive. He needs to test, at a minimum 4 times per day. (He needs to test before bedtime) If he feels off, he needs to test. If his blood sugar is low, he needs to treat it and retest in 15 minutes. It is very hard to get by on just 3 strips per day.

Have you ever seen someone with a low blood sugar? Do you know how to treat it? The general consensus is 15 grams of fast acting carbs and retest in 15 minutes. I’m official. I have glucose tablets in my purse at all times. 

My Credentials – I Have None

I have loved writing since I was a kid. I breathed writing. I lived writing. I was a writer and I knew I was going to grow up to be a writer. I wrote poems and stories and I was going to write books. Then all of a sudden, I stopped writing. I struggled to find words, ideas, and stories. People told me to write what I know, but I felt like I didn’t know anything.

Who am I? I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. As cliche as it sounds, I live, I laugh, I love. My husband and I have five kids. I keep house, I pay bills, I advocate for those who are considered “less than”. Other people have said I am so creative. Creative with paper, creative with words, but I don’t feel creative in my mind.

Then one weekend came like many before them. My husband of seventeen years was struggling with his type 1  diabetes management. I put my nose into our books, notes, doctor visits and created a plan. I presented the plan to him. Once again we were living and breathing diabetes and it hit me. Write about what I know. I know what it’s like to live with and love a diabetic.

I have been with my husband through the highs and lows of his chronic disease, as well as the steadies. Diabetes has interrupted my life and frustrated me, as much as it has him. It never rests and it is always present.

Diabetes is much like our 9 year old. We can not control it (or her). We can only manage them. Every day we wait for results and create new game plans. If it’s a good day, the game plan is very similar to the day before. On a bad day, it can be devastating and it is exhausting. We never know what we are going to get.

For 17 years, I have been my husband’s support person.  This is a family affair. Diabetes doesn’t just affect its host, it affects us all. When he has given up, I give my all. He goes head to head with diabetes every single day, and I stand next to him. Diabetes never rests, it never sleeps, it never gives us a break. We are always one step behind, learning the rules, and playing the game.

I will write what I know. I do not have medical knowledge. I have experience.

You are here:

Sugar Daddy

The Position is Filled and the Syringe is too

There will be stories. We have some doozies. You will laugh, hold your breath, and maybe shed a tear.

I’m looking forward to sharing it all. Maybe you are searching for someone who has been there and done that. I just might be that person. Come on in. All are welcome here.