What Would You Sacrifice for the One You Love?

I’m just going to start out by saying I’ve been a little cranky and off edge the past few days. Maybe it’s because my husband and I have been changing the way we eat? It was three weeks ago that I was sitting on the couch thinking “I really want some ice cream”, and stopping myself because I was also feeling sludgey. So I’m cranky and irritated and maybe I’ll step on a few toes or hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t know!

I am part of a few online groups for diabetes. One is for the Tandem T:Slim pump. The other is for the Livongo One Touch Meter. I’m not diabetic, but there are a lot of parents of diabetics, I am not sure how many spouses of diabetics are lurking around there. We were talking about the benefits of the One Touch Meter. It’s amazing that the meter uploads to a cloud. If you are below 50 or above 400 (2.8 to 22.2 for those outside the US), a Livongo Health Coach will contact you to make sure you are okay. You can also set your account up to notify your spouse, parents, etc. Twice I have received a text to indicate that my husband was below 50. I don’t mind this at all! It’s a feature I love!

One of the other group members said that her significant other was receiving notifications for her low blood sugars, but turned it off, because he was tired of getting woken up at night. It seems that she was having too many and it was disturbing his sleep.

I’m disturbed by his attitude. Your supposed loved one is having a low blood sugar and you are worried about your sleep? Just as a reminder, the symptoms of a low blood sugar are:

  • confusion
  • heart palpitations
  • anxiety
  • shakiness
  • slurred speech
  • blurred vision

A diabetic suffering from hyperglycemia may also have the following “symptoms”:

  • excess sweating
  • excess hunger (explains why my husband will eat through the kitchen if I’m not managing. LOL)
  • FAINTING
  • BLACK OUT

Those last two seem more like problems than symptoms. Sometimes I get so very tired of helping my husband manage diabetes, but it’s not because of him, it’s because of IT. It can be frustrating to deal with one low on top of another, or many lows, many nights in a row. I get that. I don’t get the attitude of “it’s your problem, please don’t wake me”. Now if this other member had said something along the lines of “It’s usually okay, I am able to manage my lows relatively easy”, it would be one thing, but it was apparent that she was hurt by his attitude.

There have been a handful of times that I have heard stumbling around, or doors opening at night (and I’m deaf!) and woken up to check on things. My husband was having a low blood sugar and didn’t want to bother/ wake me. (that didn’t work out) It is much easier for ME, in my sleepy stupor to find him something to eat or drink than it is for him in his low blood sugar and sleepy stupor. No matter how tired I am, no matter how many nights in a row it happens, I will wake up and help him every single time. I am shocked that this isn’t a common theme among significant others or spouses.

My mom said it’s because I am caring and compassionate and that I go above and beyond in the care of my husband and his disease. My actions should be so typical among all of us that they are not noticeable. What I am doing shouldn’t be considered anything special, because it’s just me loving my husband and standing by his side, no matter when.

Is this really a foreign concept to people?

I told this lady she could call me and I would stay up all night with her. My cousin recently had a dream about my husband and his diabetes. I had a GPS device that showed all the diabetics in the area who were having low blood sugars. I was panicking and telling her “I have to get these off my screen! I need to help them all”. I really would. Not because I am anything special, but because diabetes is a huge beast to manage on your own, and everyone can use support. Especially your loved ones.

I Love the Pump

It’s been over a month of pumping now. Can I just say how much I love this thing? I don’t know how my husband feels about it. ha ha, yes I do. He is wondering why we had to wait so long to get it. (ahem, the price could have something to do with that!)

Chad had cataract surgery today. We tested his blood sugar up the wazoo, reduced his basal flow on the pump, and he stayed in the normal range the entire time! When the nurses would come in and ask if anyone had done a blood sugar check, I would say “Yep, 143” or whatever it was. I wasn’t waiting around. ūüôā

Another new love? The Livongo Blood Glucose Monitor. Omigosh! We have only had it since Tuesday and I really, REALLY like this thing. It is 3g connected (I think). Each time he tests, it uploads to his online account. Yesterday, he hadn’t called me for lunch like normal. I texted, no reply. I finally realized that I could look online and see if he had tested prior to lunch. He hadn’t, so I knew he hadn’t eaten and I could (lovingly) nag him. That’s not all. UNLIMITED test strips. They start you out with 300 test strips, but if you use more, they send you more. All this for $25 a month for to years? Yes, yes, and yes!

Between the unlimited use of the test strips and his pump, I am feeling really hopeful about getting this diabetes beast better managed!

What’s new with you?

Four Weeks In

Today marks four weeks that my husband has been on an insulin pump. Four weeks out of nearly 45 years of diabetes. Wow.

I can honestly say that I wish we had had the money and the education to start this process when we first looked into it. We attended a pump information session about 10 years ago and it just didn’t work out. The counting carbs was a foreign concept to both of us. It seemed too difficult to take on that task in addition to all the regular life stuff that we had going on. Also, 10 years ago, the cost of a pump seemed prohibitive. Now, thanks to http://www.ynab.com I feel confident that we can come up with our portion of the pump cost.

We have been carb ¬†counting for the past two or three years. I remember going into a Borders book store and looking through all of the diabetes related books. I settled on “Think Like a Pancreas”. The author, Gary Schreiner, is a fellow diabetic. He was able to explain some complicated terms in ways I could understand. Two and a half years ago, our precious BONUS baby was born. My husband was 47, and he knew that he needed to start taking his health seriously if he was going to live better, just so he could be with her for as long as possible. She is a miracle. ūüôā So armed with the info in Think Like a Pancreas, we started counting carbs. Now it seems like we’ve always done it.

We have finally figured out my husband’s night time basal rates. I can not express enough what a relief it is to feel confident that his blood sugar is not dropping when we should be resting. I admit that I still check on him at night. Most diabetics and loved ones of diabetics know about the cold, clammy sweat that accompanies a sudden drop in blood sugars. So I do the sweat test. ūüôā I feel like I have won the lottery every morning when he wakes up with a blood sugar that mirrors the one he went to bed with!

We are still tweaking his day time basal rates. We tested one segment of time on Saturday. In order to test the basal rates, you have to check your blood sugar every 2 hours, and not eat for 8 – 12 hours. This is so you know that your sugars are staying in the normal range without having to consume carbs. At about 4 hours, his blood sugar dipped a bit below 80, so we stopped the test, he ate, and we adjusted his basal for that time period. Now we just need another weekend so we can test it again.

I can not express enough how much I love this pump! It has simplified the procedure for my husband. He doesn’t have to do any mental math before dosing. He doesn’t have to remember if he has insulin left in his system, because the pump tracks it for him. In fact, the other night, he tested his blood sugar and when he put it into the pump for recording purposes, it warned him that with the insulin that was still calculated in his system, and his blood sugar, he was at risk for going low. WOW! Mind blown.

We still don’t know how much we are going to owe on the pump. Insurance gave us an estimate of benefits, but we have not received a final bill yet. I am making and selling handmade necklaces and bracelets to help ease the burden of the final cost. If you are interested in seeing them, shout out!

Hi, Hi, Hi

Or high, high, high, Whatever the case may be.

Chad had a doctor appointment yesterday. He got a cortisone shot in his hip, because he had what presented itself to be bursitis. His blood sugars have been pretty good, but after the appointment, he had a tough time keeping it below 300. It was fine at lunch, then skyrocketed after that. We could say it might be what he had for lunch, but it was left over dinner, so who knows. He was thinking it might be the cortisone shot.

Last night he took about 20 units of insulin to compensate for the high blood sugar and the birthday cupcakes we had for our 10 year old. This is way more than he usually takes, so I got up at 2AM to test his blood sugar. It had dropped a little, but it sky rocketed again this morning, and was still high near lunch time. He called his doctor and they said “Don’t eat carbs and go for a walk”. He texted me along with a “WTF” for emphasis and I said “Well, ¬†that sounds like a pretty good plan, actually”. So he ditched the left over lasagna from his lunch, but ate everything else. He texted a bit ago and said his blood sugar was 160-something. So that stinky old doctor’s advice must’ve worked.

I told him to be patient and ride it out, because panicking creates the yo-yo affect, Sky rocket, plummet, over compensate, repeat steps, which is just frustrating. You really do have to be patient ¬†with diabetes (when it’s not an emergency, OMG get the Glucagon situation). It’s hard to ride it out though, because we’re human and we want things to be better five minutes ago.

The good news is that his A1C is down to 6.8%! His doctor was impressed with his A1C and cholesterol numbers. His kidney function has declined a bit in the past year. I really wish they would give more information than just “kidney function is declining”. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? I’m assuming that if it was ¬†an emergency, they would say more?

And the pump lady called to set up an appointment. We are one step closer to pumping that man up. ūüôā

Game Changers for Diabetics

You might find this link interesting:

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/new-smart-insulin-patch-could-be-game-changer

I don’t get too excited about things, yet, because I know it can take years and years, but I thought this was interesting. Anything to make those frequent shots better is a win in my book. I can’t imagine what it is like for my husband or for any of the other diabetics, tied to a significant other, not of their choosing. Diabetes is a stalker that will not be ignored, only accommodated.

Anyway, check out the link, ignore the name of the website, and tell me what you think.

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:

20150615_163731

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. ūüėČ

What is a Carb and Why Does it Matter?

I Googled “What is a carb?”

Google said “Short for carburetor”.

Close. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

Carbohydrates, what they are, and how they affect the body are as important to a diabetic as insulin.

Let’s start with what a carbohydrate is. A carbohydrate is defined as:¬†any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose. They contain hydrogen and oxygen in the same ratio as water (2:1) and typically can be broken down to release energy in the animal body.

Um. What?

Foods with carbs are typically pastas, rice, bread, potatoes, sweets, sugars, etc. Carbs! Glorious carbs. I love carbs. 

That sounds simple enough, but it gets tricky when you learn that there are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs are sweets, white breads, potatoes, sugar, sodas, donuts, etc. Fruits and vegetables also consist of simple sugars, but the body processes them like a complex carb.

Complex carbs are carbs that take the body longer to break down and process. This gives a more steady release of sugars throughout the day and is better than the spike and dip of simple carbs. Complex carbs are whole wheat (rice, pasta, bread). Complex carbs are better for everyone.

Just to complicate things, one carb doesn’t always equal another. 15g of carbs from a bowl of cream of wheat affects my husband differently than 15g of carbs from a potato. If only one equaled another. He has to keep track of how many units of insulin he needs based on carbs and also has to remember that sometimes he needs to take more or less for one food than another.

The body uses carbohydrates for energy. The moment you put it in your mouth and swallow, your body starts processing it. Carbs cause your blood sugar to rise, then your pancreas produces insulin to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage.

Unless you’re diabetic, because your pancreas is broken and not producing insulin. A non-diabetic person’s body automatically calculates how much insulin you need and distributes it. ¬†A diabetic has to do this calculation themselves, taking into account current blood sugar and carbs to be consumed. Then they administer the insulin (synthetic) their body doesn’t produce. Without insulin, your body doesn’t know to level off. A normal blood sugar is under 140. Kycie¬†was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with T1D. She had a blood sugar of 1,148. This is what diabetes does!

I imagine that for a typical person, the amount of carbs in a food is not particularly important. It seems most people know there are good carbs and bad carbs, even if they like to indulge in the bad. A diabetic needs to be aware of the carbs in any and all foods and drinks that they consume. It’s not as simple as it sounds. Some food doesn’t come in labeled packaging and if it’s a vegetable, you might not think there are carbs in it. Carrots have carbs. My husband loves carrots, so he needs to be careful to either dose for the carbs, or not to over indulge.

I don’t know why anyone would willfully over indulge on a carrot, but hey, that’s me. He sings his own songs.¬†

Fortunately, these days, information is practically at our finger tips. It is very easy to search “How many carbs are in a carrot?”. 6g for one carrot, in case you were wondering. With this information, a diabetic can calculate their insulin dose, inject and eat. My husband would not dose for one carrot, but if he was eating 3 of them, he would need to do so. ¬†(There’s a calculation and it’s not a one size fits all¬†formula and if you figure out YOUR formula, it can change. Because it wants to. Diabetes is its own boss, it doesn’t need a reason.)

My husband has to be aware, all the time, of all the carbs. If he thinks he doesn’t need to count a carb, he is usually wrong. On Saturdays, we like to grab a coffee. He always gets a sugar free Double Torture. He used to never dose, but then we found out there are 16 carbs in the milk they use. He started injecting two units of insulin prior to drinking it, and hasn’t had wild blood sugars like in the past. “But I only had that sugar free drink!”. Sugar free does not equal carb free and it matters!

Sometime we’ll talk about that time that the waitress served him a regular drink, instead of diet. Fortunately he noticed. We can’t imagine what 38 extra carbs not accounted for, would have done to his blood sugar! By “noticed”, I mean after he drank practically the whole glass, he pushed it across the table and said “I don’t think that’s diet”. I tasted it, confirmed it was not. So he recalculated his dosage, with the extra carbs included.

Carbs. They matter.

Please don’t take anything I say as gospel or fact. Do your own research, talk to your own doctor. If you see a mistake I’ve made, please bring it to my attention. I wrote this based on personal experience, reading, dietitian appointments, and internet searching. I am not a professional, just experienced. I’m going to get to some fun stories some time. I’m starting with the basics. Ha. None of this sounds basic though. Even writing it down makes my head spin and I am not sure how we do it. ¬†

Sources:

http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2011/mar/how-the-body-uses-carbohydrates-proteins-and-fats.html

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/101/nutrition-basics/good-carbs-bad-carbs.aspx

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/

http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/how-sugar-affects-diabetes

So What is Diabetes?

I’m going to go all Texan for a minute and say y’all! You have been so encouraging and excited and it makes ME excited! I have been stumbling for words for a few years. They used to flow through my finger tips and then they stopped coming. Much of my life is spent talking about, thinking about, reading about, learning about diabetes. Well, hello? Why don’t I WRITE about it?

I have a lot of stories floating around in my head about diabetes. I don’t even know where to start, because I want to start with them all! When I told my kids I was starting this blog, they started throwing out stories to tell. “Remember when daddy had a low blood sugar and he thought his feet were stuck to the floor?” Or from my husband “Remember when I belched in your mom’s face?”

So I’ll start with the obvious, what diabetes is, and what a person has to do to get it. (it’s not what you think)

So what is diabetes? Well, did you know that there are two types of diabetes? Many people don’t. There is a lot of information out there about Type 2 Diabetes and it is assumed that this is the type everyone has. You know the one where you are overweight, don’t exercise and don’t eat well, so this is your punishment? Yes, this is the actual attitude that a lot of diabetics are subjected to! I know a boy who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 18 months old. People have asked his mom if it’s because she gave him too much juice in his bottle.

Eh, no.

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. The receiver of this diagnosis is as culpable for it, as I am for my hearing loss. I did not do anything to cause my hearing loss, my ears are damaged. Type 1 diabetes is the same way. It does not happen to you because you have made poor choices. Your pancreas is as broken as my ears. (maybe a little more! I can still hear)

So with Type 1 Diabetes, your pancreas¬†stops producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. “Each year, 15,000 children and 15,000 adults are diagnosed with T1D in the United States.” (source) There is nothing you can do to prevent it. It is not caused by diet or life style choices.

Treatment for T1D¬†includes diet, exercise, INSULIN (the most important part of managing T1D), and frequent blood sugar testing. Not only do you have to treat T1D¬†with all these, you have to balance them. It may sound easy, but imagine someone hands you four playground balls and tells you to hold them without dropping them. Sound doable? Now balance those four balls, at one time, without dropping them. Oh, is that a little more challenging? Balancing all the components of diabetes care is a little like that. However if you drop one of those balls, you’re not risking your health and well being. A diabetic would be.

No matter how great a person with type 1 diabetes is with balancing all the components of their care, they run the risk every day of too high or too low blood sugars. Diabetes is constantly changing. What affects you one day will affect you differently the next day. A diabetic must constantly be alert and flexible in order to manage their disease.

There isn’t a cure for T1D. Even with treatment, those with T1D are at risk for nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, heart attack, stroke and complications in pregnancy.

The most important thing to remember is the difference. Type 1 Diabetes IS NOT Type 2 Diabetes. Do not ask a Type 1 diabetic what they did to cause their disease. In fact, don’t even ask a Type 2 diabetic that question. It’s insulting and rude and if you are not one of the key people in their life, you don’t really need this information.

My husband was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 45 years ago. The treatment then pales in comparison to the treatment now. Doctors told his parents that statistically he would only live to 35 years of age. That was 15 years ago! You might think that with 45 years of diabetic knowledge, he would know everything there is to know, but we are learning new things every day!

Here are some symptoms of diabetes:

  • extreme thirst
  • frequent urination
  • drowsiness/ lethargy
  • increased appetite
  • sudden weight loss
  • sudden vision changes
  • fruity smelling breath

Did you learn anything new? Did you know that there are two different kinds of diabetes? Do you have any questions? (I know how to Google) Did I get something wrong or not quite right? (Let me know!)