Friday, May 31, 2013

Insulin Pump MacGyver

You may have seen that I got hooked up to my new t:slim this week.  Actual impressions on the pump will be forthcoming, after I've been able to use it for several days and give some opinions.  In the meantime, I still feel like I'm in pump transition from my Cozmo.  Additionally, I think my brain is still in transition from last weekend's vacation.  Why?  I ran into some odd pump-specific trouble this morning.

I drove to work knowing I needed to refill my pump and change my site this morning.  I had a box of supplies in my tote bag, left over from pump training two days ago, so I figured I'd be fine.

Whenever you say "I'll be fine", you should probably accept that there's a chance something is going to go awry.  In that sense, I was correct.

After doing some things at work, I pull out my t:slim to refill it.  I can't slide the cartridge off right away, so that was a bit frustrating until I popped it out with a coin.  I open my box of supplies, pull out a new cartridge, and realize I am missing a fill syringe.

With the t:slim, the cartridge isn't like your usual reservoir.  It's different than loading insulin into the cartridge of a Medtronic, Animas, or my old Cozmo.  You get a big ol' 3mL BG syringe, and you inject insulin into a port on the t:slim cartridge, which you've just installed into your pump.  So there I was, the Syringeless Wonder.
Image found at:
But!  My Cozmo was still in my purse from training two days ago.  If I couldn't refill my new robo-pancreas, I could just use the old one!  They both have a luer-lock connection so my infusion set would fit either pump. I pull out my trusty old purple pump pal, ready to remove the reservoir, screw on the spare reservoir needle and plunger I keep in my test kit, fill it up and kick it old-skool pump style.


Yes, with my Cozmo, and even my Medtronic years ago, I'd keep a spare reservoir needle and plunger in my purse at all times.  You never knew when it might come in handy, and it was easier than carrying an extra reservoir for emergencies.  It also meant if I had to change out a whole set before schedule, I could save the insulin left in my reservoir.  Nobody encourages reuse of pump supplies, but I have a feeling a lot more of us have done it than we admit.

But I digress.

So I pull my handy-dandy Cozmo out from my purse only to find it is dead.  Dead for a ducat, dead!  (I don't mention it often but I'm a Shakespeare lover.  Digressing.  Again.  Unprofessional.)  I realize at my pump training Wednesday morning, I had a low battery.  I now had on my hands a dead battery, and not another AAA battery in sight.

So I've got a pump with no filler at a 75% charge, and a pump that I can fill but no power.

This is when the reservoir in my old pump, combined with the needle and plunger, came brilliantly into play.  I filled my old Cozmo reservoir, stuck the needle into the t:slim fill port (after a test that the needle itself would fit), and muscled some insulin into it.  There was a lot of resistance, I couldn't get all 3mL out of the Cozmo reservoir into the t:slim cartridge.  Cozmo reservoir needles are not meant for injecting, obviously.  I managed to get about 2mL into the t:slim and called it good enough.

I ran the priming sequence on my t:slim, and so far it's working just fine.  I'm anticipating a big SWAG-gy, carb-y dinner tonight, so most likely I'll have to refill again tomorrow.  With the proper new needle, of course.

I feel like MacGyver.  I took the parts available to me, and I made it work.  No explosions necessary, though some kickass 80's background music was most likely playing in my head while I worked this whole thing out.  While I am mullet-free, I am now, once again, full of insulin.

What have you wrangled up in a diabetes emergency for yourself?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's the T, girl?

beep boop

The T:Slim from Tandem Diabetes!  It's mine, all mine, and I'm up and running!  I anticipate the next several weeks of techno-joy.  At least I hope so.  I'm looking forward to telling everyone about it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

D-Blog Week, Day 5: Freaky Friday

Friday:  Just like in the movie, today we’re doing a swap. If you could switch chronic diseases, which one would you choose to deal with instead of diabetes? And while we’re considering other chronic conditions, do you think your participation in the DOC has affected how you treat friends and acquaintances with other medical conditions?

When we talk about Freaky Friday, are we discussing the Jodie Foster version or the Lindsey Lohan version?  Because in the end I'd rather be Jodie Foster.  Or Jamie Lee Curtis.  Can I just switch with one of them in real life?  I know there are quite a few jackasses out there who feel feminism is like a disease.

This is a tough question to answer.  My initial thought was that just straight-up hypothyroidism might be simpler than diabetes.  Of course, only having to pop one pill every day sounds quite appealing, then you go out to the internet and read that it has its own complications.

What about a chronically high cholesterol level?  Heart disease is pretty strong in my dad's side of the family, so I don't think that's any better either.

So then I started to think, what if I didn't have diabetes, but had only one of the other issues I've got now?  Yes, I probably wouldn't have worried that my tachycardia was diabetes-related, but would that be more or less comforting?  Sometimes I am pretty sure that tightening up my glucose control would lessen some of my mental health issues.  But would I be more depressed and anxious without being able to attribute some of it to diabetes?  As if to say, "I am having this mood swing out of nowhere, I must be bipolar!" instead of "I am having this mood swing out of nowhere, maybe I forgot to bolus for my afternoon snack!"

Is one chronic disease better to have than another?  I don't really think so.

If I were to personify my diabetes, would I give it a hug and say, "Hey buddy, I hope you stick around forever because I love you"?  Never.  But if I could, would I leave diabetes for something else?  I'm not so sure. 

Actually, I think I just made a decision.  I might trade diabetes for being a Never-Nude.  I might just accept having to wear a bikini in the shower if it meant I never had to worry about blood sugar levels, insulin boluses, or carb counting ever again.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

D-Blog Week Day 2: We, The Undersigned

It's D-Blog Week...join your favorite diabetes bloggers as we write about/share/mouth off about different diabetes-related topics all week.  Links and learn more at: Bitter-sweet Diabetes!

Tuesday: Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so today let’s pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to – a person, an organization, even an object (animate or inanimate) - get creative!! What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change?


(I'm pretty much addressing the grownups here.  D-Moms & Dads, I'm not trying to make your kids grow up too fast, but face it.  Your kids will be my age one day.  This is just to say...we're all grownups at some point.  We'll be okay.)

We, the undersigned, hereby believe that people with diabetes are just as hot as people without diabetes.  Many, many people with diabetes are in successful domestic partnerships and marriages.  Many people with diabetes have rich, interesting dating lives.  We are tired of seeing various postings on the internet that reflect self-doubt over body image or worthiness of loving relationships, just because of having diabetes.

Say what you will about Halle Berry, she does look pretty good in a bikini.  Recent scientific studies have shown that people with guitars have greater sex appeal, so what about Crystal Bowersox?  And there's always the cutie-patootie from the days before One Direction, Nick Jonas.  There's delectable chef Sam Talbot. There are actors, musicians, athletes, racecar drivers, and Supreme Court justices, all with their own brand of hotness.

The point we are making is that people with diabetes are cute, sexy, wonderful, loveable people. 

We, the undersigned, agree that:

...we have the right to walk out on any date who would consider our diabetes a dealbreaker.

...we can be confident happy people who ask for what we want in bed, even when what we want is a glass of juice because we're going low. is not a burden to check a BG or disconnect a pump before getting intimate.

...diabetes alone is no excuse.  You can have a love life/sex life just the same as anyone without diabetes.

...there are challenges we may face as people with diabetes in relationships, but people in any sort of relationships have challenges.  Always remember you're not alone.

...PWD are allowed to be just as kinky as people without diabetes...and we're not talking bent cannulas or insulin pump tubing.

...we are dateable.

...we are worthy of finding partners we can love and trust.

...we can be just as gorgeous and confident as any celebrity.  We can strut in our favorite non-diabetic shoes.  We can get nekkid with an infusion set on.  We are just as smiley and charming as anyone.

...we're sexy, and we know it.  Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah.

PS--How dare I leave out the intellects, artists, authors and scientists with diabetes?  You guys, statistically speaking, are probably the ones I'm most attracted to.  Sexy smarts, grrrrowl.

Monday, May 13, 2013

D-Blog Week, Day 1: Share & Don't Share

It's D-Blog Week...join your favorite diabetes bloggers as we write about/share/mouth off about different diabetes-related topics all week.  Links and learn more at: Bitter-sweet Diabetes!

Monday:  Often our health care team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let’s pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved one's daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don't see?

1.)  Today, I left my insulin pump at home.  I commuted all 40 minutes to work and then realized it was still on the bed.  My normal routine was interrupted this morning by a cable/internet installation.  I didn't give myself my usual pre-commute patdown to make sure my pump is on my person somewhere, be it in a pocket or under a bra strapYou may think I wouldn't want the healthcare team to know about my snafu, but honestly, I trust mine enough that they were the first people I called.  "I have Novolog and syringes.  What's my game plan for the day until I can get home to my pump?"  We looked up basal rates and bolus amounts.  We discussed extra testing and doing corrections.  It hasn't been the most pleasant day, but it's been okay.  I'm thirsty.  I'm tired.  I'm getting by.  I think I'd really want the healthcare team to know that information in the clutch is appreciated and vital to what could otherwise have become a diabetes emergency.  Daily life with diabetes can bring very unexpected things.  Your prompt assistance is welcomed!

2.)  I wish a lot of healthcare providers could see that many people are shy to talk about what's concerning them the most, even when they say you can tell them anything.  In my experience, doctors don't necessarily talk diabetes and vices (sex, drugs, alcohol, rock 'n' roll) unless you really bring it up.  Teenagers and college students wishing to experiment with such things, and wishing to experiment safely, don't really have an outlet for this kind of info if they can't trust their doctor/nurse practitioner/diabetes educator.  I'm not the only one who's wished we had more resources for learning about what some might consider less-than-appropo topics!

3.)  I hope you DON'T just see noncompliant patients who won't do what they're told but walk around like everything is okay.  I hope you DO see real people with real stressful lives sometimes, people who sometimes need patience, encouragement, and a game plan that fits their lives so they can manage their health accordingly.

4.)  Stop making judgments on the health of people with diabetes before you've appropriated examined things.  I have left doctors because they've acted like I've brought a health problem on myself due to uncontrolled Type 1.  Do some tests.  Give me some scientific proof.  I married an engineer, and I'm pretty smart myself, so logically prove to me why and how some issues I have are related to my diabetes, and then we can talk about them.  Otherwise, I feel discriminated against.  You're a doctor.  I expect you to do tests, not to dismiss me based on your personal judgment.

5.)  I honestly hope my healthcare team would see most anything.  I don't think there's much of anything I'd want them to miss.  I feel like having a more personal relationship with our healthcare providers makes us a stronger team together.  If it weren't for the great family doctor I saw in Phoenixville, I may not have such an awesome endocrinologist!  I may never have gone to a psychiatrist and eventually a therapist to talk about depression/anxiety.  I think we should all be able to trust our healthcare teams!  Now, whether or not you'd want to tell them your favorite song to sing in the shower or your biggest celebrity crushes is entirely up to you. 

Stay tuned for more D-Blog Week dorkiness right here!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Take Your Mama Out All Night, Yeah...

Happy Mother's Day!

Not just to all the moms of the Diabetes Online Community out there, but to MY mom as well.  She may not like this picture, but here it is anyway:

Taken in 2011, Back row, l-r: Mom, Aunt L, yours truly, cousin B (who has a beautiful 1-year-old now), cousin N (holding her youngest). Front row: cousin N's first daughter and my Nana. My fam has a lot of smart, sassy women in it!

She's always been there for me, even in the days before the internet and massive online gatherings of d-parents.  She encouraged me to learn how to manage diabetes myself, even if I never logged enough for her liking.  (I still probably don't.  At least I can just plug my meter into my laptop now.)  I know she's had a lion's share of worries about me, but she's always encouraged me to be happy and do what I think is right.

My mom is a writer, even if she doesn't think of herself as one that often.  She wrote all the time when I was a kid.  If you want to talk nerdy things, I always wanted to play with her electric typewriter, and when I was little I marveled at how she could type without looking at the keys.  Mom now congratulates me on poetry features, asks how the slam is going and yes, she even reads this blog.  I know you're doing it.  Why else would I talk about you?

And while my mom is not a self-professed geek, she helped make me the Dorkabetic I am today.  Thanks for all those trips to the library and all the VHS viewings of classic movies.  I also think most moms didn't actively enjoy watching cartoons with their kids the way my mom did all the way through college, nor do they still quote those shows with their kids today.  Thanks for all the rides to various rehearsals and practices.  Thanks for coming to my band and choir concerts, even though I know sometimes the parts without me bored you.  My mom still has my original Nintendo Game Boy (the greenish LCD one), and when last I checked, it was still working so she could work on her Tetris skills.

I hope that most of you are or have been as lucky as I am, to have a mom who is always proud of your achievements, who just wants you to do what makes you the happiest, who loves you all the time no matter what, and maybe, just maybe, a mom who is currently beating you in Candy Crush Saga.  (I'm just sayin' level 35 is positively dreadful and Mom's off on level 38.)

I love you, Mom!

PS:  Everyone and their mama should rock out to this song this weekend.  I think it's actually about coming out, but it's very simply about showing your mama a good time and letting her know you turned out okay.  Bonus points for use of giant silly puppets and costumes in this performance.  My mom would definitely approve of that, especially the singing watermelons.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Did It! (Or, an update on the last post regarding moving and stuff)

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Dorkabetic readers...lend me your ears eyes.  I have a new home!  A lovely little rental in what so far seems to be a friendly neighborhood in Philadelphia proper. 

It's only been about a week or so.  We're still settling in.  There's some furniture yet to be rebuilt, and there's definitely a lot of boxes still unopened.  We're getting there.  When I have a housewarming, some of you are going to be on my first-to-know list!

Am I really ready for this?  Am I crazy for moving to the city at 31 just to see what happens?  The answers are, in this order: I think so...and no, I'm not crazy.  I've never done most things in a normal way.  Why start being normal now? 

In another update, my T:Slim is here, and I'll be trained on May 29th.  I can't wait to be beeping and booping my way through life with a fancy touchscreen robot pancreas!

There's not much more time to catch up right now.  I have yet to have FiOS moved to my house so internet at home is sparse (read: 3G wireless).  But I'm there!  I'm in the city!  I'm just like a married Mary Tyler Moore!  I'm Gonna Make It After All! 

That's a lot of exclamation points there, folks.  I'm running on caffeine and adrenaline today.  Go easy on me.