Scott's Diabetes Blog

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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in April of 1980. I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. I hope to share my struggles, my successes, and everything in between.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I've Been Tagged!

Wil over at LifeAfterDx has "tagged" me!

The deal is that after reading five random facts from many other folks around the "blogosphere" (which have all been very interesting reads by the way), I, being tagged, am to post five random facts about myself.

After feeling very good about being worthy of a "tag" from the most popular guy around, sharing his every detail about being one of the very first people actually using the Guardian Continuous Glucose Sensor, I started to think about what the heck I would say about myself. Man, I have to admit, I'm pretty darn boring! It's pretty hard to come up with five different things that people might find interesting enough to read about!

Here goes!

Random Fact #1: I once owned and ran a small flower shop selling roses that came direct from Ecuador. Now, I need to start this off with a little background. I am, by nature, a computer guy. I started working with computers while in high school, and have made a career out of it one way or another since then. I've spent time as a computer operator in what's called "Mid-Range Operations". That is basically where everything that is too small to be considered a MainFrame computer gets put, and let me tell you - there were some interesting systems there. I have done Automated Voice Response - you know when you call your bank and get automated information? Yep, I programmed that type of stuff. Went back and spent more time in the Mid-Range Operations area, went and did network support and UNIX System Administration for a moderate sized ISP, spent time working at the Federal Reserve Bank doing telephone support for banks using the FRB's systems to do their banking, and am now doing phone support for the consumer computer side of a medical device company.

How in the heck did opening a rose shop fall into that mix?!

My mom & dad have lived in the same house in South Minneapolis since I was very young. They spent much of their free time doing gardening, and let me tell you, their yard is the most beautiful place in the world, complete with pond and all. My dad was recently notified that their garden had won first prize for one of the categories in the Minneapolis Blooms Award. I think it is a wonderful tribute to my mom who passed away in April of this year. They both love many kinds of plants and flowers, but my dad has an incredible amount of rose plants. I don't remember exactly how many different kinds, but I remember thinking "how can there be room for all those different types of roses!?". All of this in a modest inner city plot of South Minneapolis. So - I've had an appreciation for the beauty of roses since I was young.

I got laid off from my computer admin job at the ISP, and just before getting laid off I met this very interesting guy from Ecuador who's family owned a rose farm. I would sit in this guys shop and watch person after person come in and throw money at him for these beautiful roses. My mom & dad really liked his roses too - and if they earned their approval, I figured they MUST be good! When I got laid off I started talking to this guy and decided I could make a run at it. I found some space and got all the stuff I needed and was off and running.

Boy, what an experience! It didn't last long before I got burned out - working 7+ days a week and hustling to make ends meet. It wasn't a great plan right from the get go, but I almost made it. I had a pretty crummy landlord which made the situation downright unbearable and thankfully I was able to squirm my way out of the agreement. With lots of help from my parents and friends I was able to get out of that and start to look for work that I was more comfortable with.

It was an experience I learned a lot from, and I am very thankful that I went through it. I have a lot of respect for people who run their own business. It's so much tougher than you think it would be, but also very rewarding. I also learned that some people are downright crooked. I am, by instinct, a trusting person. It's just my natural way to want to trust people. It's unfortunate, but that way will get you messed up in this day & age. Pretty sad.

Random Fact #2: I love to listen to audio books. I am a faithful member, and listen to AT LEAST 2 audio books per months. You would think that it would be pretty boring, someone reading a book to you. But, it's actually very entertaining! These narrators are so incredibly talented - taking on the different characters and accents with such fluid transition that you often forget that it's the same person!! I think it's a lot like how people would listen to radio shows back before TV's were around (although that was just a bit before my time). I can get so wrapped up in these "books" - it's just great. I listen to them while I'm driving, while I'm walking, I've even listened to them while out on my kayak. I like to listen to thrillers and mysteries, cop stories and spy stories, scary stories and inspirational stories. I do like to read too, but it's a bit harder to do while driving and stuff :-) .

It all started when I was working at the Federal Reserve Bank. The building was right on the corner of downtown Minneapolis. Parking was $4 per day to park in a crappy dirt & gravel parking lot near the bank. After 4 PM I could move my vehicle down into the heated underground ramp. Now the building was built right off the parkway of the mighty Mississippi River. About one mile away, down the river parkway, I could park on the street with no worries about time limits or parking tickets. So, in addition to being "economical" and not paying that $4 per day, I thought of it to be a great way to get 2 miles of walking in every day. The fact that the scenery was really nice and peaceful was a plus. Even through the dead of winter I kept on walking. It was such a great kick start to my day, and 2 miles of walking every day is no small item! I would listen to music on a little MP3 player or my pocket pc. After a while I got tired of the music I had and wanted something a little more engaging so I tried the audio books.

It took a bit of getting used to - you know when you listen to music, your brain can wander and be off thinking about other things. With these books you have to pay a little attention, and it took a while for me to do that. But boy am I hooked. I look forward to times when I'm alone and have a chance to listen to my books. In fact one time I was out running around with my kids, and we were on our way home later that night. I thought they were both sleeping, so I turned off the radio, popped in my little earpiece and turned on my book. After a couple of minutes my son, from right behind me, said "DAD! Do you hear those voices?!?!!". I considered teasing him a little - "no son, are you hearing voices in your head?" - but he's only 5 and probably wouldn't catch the humor in it. So I turned off my book and we chatted the rest of the ride home.

Random Fact #3: I love watching cartoons with my kids. I'm pretty much a kid at heart, especially when hanging out with my kids (aren't we all?). I swear, I could watch SpongeBob Squarpants all day and all night. I never get tired of it. Hats off to the creators of this show. There are of course others that I get into, and others that I can tolerate. There's also always the old favorites like Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry and Scooby Doo.

Random Fact #4: I like to think that I'm a decent amateur photographer. Although with a digital camera (sorry Wil!), it's more like "take a thousand pictures and at least ONE has to turn out Ok". I get my camera skills from my mom. She was a great photographer. She took the best pictures of the kids. Here are a couple pictures that I took while out kayaking.

I've got more on my gallery if you're really bored and need to waste some time. I guess that when I look at these, maybe they're not all that great. They just look great in comparison to most of the others I took! hehe! Bottom line, I like taking pictures of stuff.

Random Fact #5: I feel deep down in my heart that I have some major role to play in the field of diabetes. I will affect peoples lives in a positive way that helps them deal with the daily trials and challenges of dealing with diabetes. I have no idea what exactly this means, or how exactly to go about it, but it's something I'm destined to do - I can just feel it. When I figure it out, you'll be the first to know.

Next to be tagged:

Violet from Pumplandia. Violet is a gal who used to attend a monthly pump support group I go to - she recently had a major life change and was relocated to Brooklyn, NY. I greatly enjoy her blog and am glad that things are going well for her in her new city.

Jay from CYBER-PANCREAS. I think Jay & I have a lot in common, and I appreciate his attack on the issues he (and I) deal with.

My scientific approach to see if either of these blog buddies had been "tagged" before was to check their blog for recent posts about it. If you have been tagged before, pardon the mistake, consider it a vote of appreciation, and perhaps pass the tag along anyways. Cheers!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why Am I Awake?

I had one of those "Why am I awake" moments last night. Yep, a low blood sugar.

Sometimes I wake up and can tell right away that I'm low. Other times, it's a little weird. Those weird ones are the "why am I awake" ones.

Here's how it goes. Your eyes pop open. You look at nothing for a minute, then try to find the clock. Focus, focus, focus, rub eyes, blink real hard a couple times, focus, focus, ah! There it is. You manage to decipher the blob of red digital numbers to realize it's 3:38am. Somethings not quite right, but you can't put a finger on it. You consider just closing your eyes again and trying to get back to sleep. You actually close your eyes for a minute and start to drift off to sleep again, when something pokes your brain.

"Why did I wake up?"

You think for a second about why you woke up, and can't really come up with any good reason. Then it slowly dawns on you - check your blood sugar, you're probably low. But, the temptation of sleep is pulling at you. Usually reason overpowers the sleep monster, as it did last night. So I fumble around for my testing stuff and check. 48. Ok, what did I mess up on? Miscalculated something I ate before bed.

And on that tangent, that is when my eating, counting & dosing gets real sloppy - evenings at home after a diligent day at work.

Anyways, you make the cold & tired trek to wherever your stuff is. Of course I can't possibly just use glucose tablets - they make way too much sense. I'd rather go to the kitchen and indulge on something sweet and tasty. Low treated. Back to sleep.

I've been thinking a lot about Wil's post over at LifeAfterDx regarding lows at night. In that post he talks about deaths from low blood sugars. It is scary, and unfortunately a real danger. I'm sure it does happen, though I'm not sure how frequently and under what circumstances. It's my opinion that it's not as simple as crossing a threshold (getting below a certain number) and that's it - you fall over dead.

The lows at night are usually the most dangerous, mostly because you are not awake to notice the symptoms of the low. Or, with folks like Wil and others with hypoglycemic unawareness, there are no symptoms, the danger is present all the time. The trick is catching the low before it makes you unable to treat yourself. Whether that means you either pass out, or get so goofy that you just can't deal on your own.

I do believe that there are certain parts of our regulatory system that still work the way they are supposed to. We still have stores of glucose in our liver that get dumped with a dose of glucagon, whether that comes from our bodies or the shot.

Isn't there a point where the body tries on it's own to deal with a low, by dumping adrenaline and other hormones to alert you so you eat, dumping some glucagon to signal the liver to dump stored glucose, but also beyond that others such as cortisol and growth hormones which raise sugars hours later? I think these systems still work for the most part! The thing is, does it happen before or after you pass out or seizure.

I'm not clear on how it all works, but I seem to remember stories about a farmer who would get mad about his diabetes because he would get low, get sleepy, climb off the tractor to lay down under a tree or something, waking up many hours later - mad because he lost a day of productivity.

Where it gets scary is if you have had many lows recently and your body has no glucose stores to dump - doesn't matter how many glucagon shots you get - there's nothing to dump! In those cases you would need to get hooked up to a glucose drip real soon or I think you really would die.

Times like this I wish I had all the details, because I know all of the above is all real fuzzy and hearsay, but I just don't think we all need to freak out about getting below a certain number and kicking the bucket. I don't say that in a bad way, and I don't mean to say Wil is freaking out (he's not). His post just sparked some thoughts for me. It just usually doesn't work that way - at least I don't think so.

For the record, I once tested (and retested) myself and came in at 23. I was at work and thought I should go upstairs to the vending machine to get a treat. Then the number dawned on me and I decided to keep my ass in the chair and have some glucose tabs.

Lows are not fun and should be avoided whenever possible.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My BG Thinks I Should Have Stayed In Bed This Morning

I'm having a rough morning, and I'd like nothing better than to crawl into a corner somewhere and close my eyes for a few minutes.

My blood sugar is REALLY high right now. My blood feels as thick as molasses and I'm so very sleepy.

I had a low last night which I apparently over treated. Those are the hardest - the ones that wake you up. It's like you are already in a panic state from the low, but you've also just been pulled out of a nice warm bed and some restful sleep! I didn't freak out and eat everything - I had three Oreos, a cup of milk and the edges of a Pop Tart that my kids had eaten the middle out of. It was the damn Pop Tart that did it. I would have been Ok with the Oreos & milk alone. Those Pop Tarts are deadly - ever looked at the carb/calorie content of those?!

Anyways, I woke up this morning at 243 and took a correction bolus for it. I got up, got ready and left for work. Maybe my body freaked out from the cold (minus 7 here in Minneapolis) - when I got to work I was 334! I was surprised by that, especially because I had corrected for that high when I woke up. I should have been on my way down, not almost 100 points UP!

For breakfast I got a plain bagel with cream cheese and some diet pop (without caffeine). And of all mornings to forget to bolus, this was the morning I picked. Nice.

Feeling incredibly sleepy an hour later I checked my BG. 409. Yuck.

This would be a good day to have just stayed in bed! It's that time of year where I'm just watching the calendar waiting for my vacation time to renew on the 1st. I tell you, if I had any paid days off to use, it would have been used for sure! I can't concentrate on anything. It takes like 3 attempts to dial the number I'm trying to dial. It's like everything is disconnected. My brain is about a second ahead of my reflexes and my eyes just want to close and catch a few seconds of sleep.

I hope to be back on track around lunchtime, but that seems like a LONG TIME AWAY. My dad & his dad have a skill where they can sleep sitting up. Maybe I'll practice that a bit this morning.

In other news, things have been good. Even though my last few posts have been downers, I have been feeling good. Things are headed in the right direction.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It's not yet 10am...

...and I've already consumed over 1800 calories.

Just thought you all would like to know. I'm feeling particularly bad about not being able to resist the temptation to eat so much this morning.

It is a day I play basketball over lunch, during which I usually burn at least 1500 calories, so it's not all bad - although maybe I use that to justify all that extra eating. At the end of the day I'll still end up Ok with my calorie balance, but I think it's more the feeling that I caved in to the temptation so easily.

Work hard, play hard, feel better.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'm In Touch With These...

There were a couple of posts on the blogs I read regularly that I was particularly in touch with.

The first is Jay's post over at Cyber Pancreas regarding fighting depression, but also the "Trifecta" of weight loss (being Cardio, Weight Training & Diet), and not being able to pull it off.

Those two topics in particular hit home with me. When asking himself "Why am I depressed", he answers "Well, for the most part I just try not to think about that, it makes me depressed.".

It sounds wrong of me to get a chuckle out of that, but I don't mean it that way. I chuckle because that perfectly sums it up! When feeling down, it is so much easier to just ignore everything, stay down and feel sorry for yourself. It feels like the amount of energy required to pull yourself back to good is just so great that it's really not worth it. Too much work.

I also like the "Trifecta" thing. In his post, he's referring to weight loss. I like the term "Trifecta" because it presents the idea that weight loss is not just a one sided thing, but rather is a small handful of things that all need to work together in order to get results. I think a similar concept applies to diabetes control, though there would be many more than three things implied in the "Tri" of "Trifecta". I tried thinking of other words but they just don't work.


You get the idea. There are so many things that need to work in harmony in order to pull off good control. If one of them is off by just a little it can throw things out of whack. And by "things" I generally mean everything.

The second post that got my attention was Kassie's post over at noncompliant about "Not Good Enough".

She touches on how after the discovery of insulin that living with diabetes was up to the patient, and how there is a lot of guilt there. What if things are not going right? Who's responsible? Me.

Yes Kassie, I hear you - I often don't feel that I'm doing good enough.

I often think about what happens if I develop a complication. Will I be able to be Ok with myself knowing that if I could have just done better 10 years ago I could have prevented it? The guilt is a trip. It's like living your whole life with this big bubble of fear and guilt just waiting to surround you and explode.

There has to be some balance out there somewhere. You know - where you can pull off the "Octfecta" of good health & diabetes control without it consuming your entire life. It's a mental thing I think, and a damn elusive one at that.

I feel that the mental health side of diabetes is often ignored until depression and other things start working their way into the mix. I think that it should be given a fair amount of attention right off the bat. Expecting people to be Ok with all the potential guilt and responsibility, without having some kind of mental meltdown, is a bit of a stretch.

Maybe I'm just tired of dealing with it all the time. That's fair too isn't it? Yes I do have a counselor, and no I'm not having any suicidal thoughts. I'm just feeling "worn down" with diabetes and am entitled to that feeling. I'm working to get my head back on straight and move on with the burden.

Out of the Slump

I've been working my way out of the slump. Slowly but surely.

Well, maybe not so surely, but definitely slowly.

Back in early November I was surprised by a higher than expected A1C. I posted on how surprised, frustrated and over all very deflated I felt by the result. I felt like I had been doing so good - to be blindsided by a higher A1C really messed me up.

Try as I did to avoid it, that higher A1C result kicked off what I call a "fuck it" phase. Where you feel, despite all that you know to the contrary, that all the work is not producing any results. I sent myself into a tail spin and lost most of my control about my eating, just ballparking the carb values and rollercoasting my BG's all over the place. My "payday BK breakfast" (BK for breakfast once every couple weeks) turned into 3-4 times per week. My motivation to exercise fell off the face of the planet. I was just generally depressed and not feeling like doing a damn thing about it. It's knowing you are down in the dumps, but deciding it's easier to stay there and feel sorry for yourself than it is to buck up and get back to good. I was basically doing what I had to do to avoid any major catastrophe's, but that was about it.

Being in the "Slump" makes each day completely overwhelming. Just doing whatever it takes to get through the day, to get to sleep, then wake up and start it all over again.

I think for the most part, dealing with and managing diabetes is different for everyone. For me, it's a lot of work. And as I've explained before it is not like some task I can simply cross off my "to do" list once I'm done. It requires many mental visits throughout the day, and a fairly consistent level of motivation, diligence and determination.

That consistent level of motivation, diligence and determination are hard for me to maintain. Especially because the consequences of bad decisions are not immediately apparent. But how long can I get away with that before I develop long term complications? Then I'll be dealing with constant punishment for decisions made years ago. What a guilt trip!

I think we all are guilty to some degree of "it won't happen to me". So far I've been lucky, but I've got this feeling of impending problems that will happen if I continue to go through these bad spots. But then I'm trying to control my diabetes out of fear, which pisses me off, then I rebel against it! Man, attitude makes such a difference!

I'm feeling the start of some desire to pull myself up out of the slump, and get things moving back in a positive direction. I am working my way through it, and just so you know - I don't think acceptance is a one time thing. I think it's probably a more cyclical process that happens many many times. The bottom line is that managing diabetes is something that you must want to do, even if you don't like to do it.