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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Favorite Fingers

This is a picture of the fingertips on my right hand.

I think you can pretty easily pick out what fingers I use most for testing.

1) Ring finger
2) Followed closely by the middle finger
3) Then the pinky
4) and last but not least the index finger

I am a serious creature of habit when it comes to which fingers I like to poke. It's a habit that is not too tough to break - but I find that I don't usually have a compelling reason to change unless there's something else making me change (switching meters, injury to a favorite finger or hand, etc.).

Once I change, I quickly develop new favorites, and stick with them until something else comes along again.

While the fingers look pretty beaten up, they are really not too calloused up or rough. They are not difficult to draw blood from, and the tips are still sensitive to touch and temperature, etc. But looking at fingers from my left hand and comparing them to my right, you can pick out the most poked at first glance. No contest.

Not only can you tell the favorites, but you can easily pick out the favorite areas of the favorite fingers!!

I guess that it is easy to understand why we develop habits like this, especially considering how many times per day we test.

Am I the only one who has favorite fingers to draw from? C'mon - fess up...

Friday, May 26, 2006

"FreeStylin' "

Kevin's Here!!

I am very excited to announce that our good friend Kevin has started his own blog!

Take a look at parenthetic (diabetic)!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

AUTS Contest Number Two!

AUTS = Another Used Test Strip

Well folks, I couldn't take it anymore. I had to clean up my test kit at work.

I was having a problem throwing strips away because I felt that I needed to collect them for another contest. I mean, what good is a "guess the number" contest if you don't have enough numbers to make it worthwhile?!

These strips have been collecting in my case ever since I counted and dumped them for the first contest back in March.

In the tradition of the original contest I will be taking submissions in the comments to this post. The contest will run through the end of the day Friday June 2, 2006. The first person to submit the closest guess will win a real world prize (as opposed to some virtual "kudos" or something).

And, for the sake of my friend Wil, I did not use my camera phone for this picture. I was tempted, but pulled out my (not so) fancy digital camera.

Let the games begin!! Good luck to everyone!

On another note - I had SUCH a good management day yesterday. My high of the day was 204, which was the first reading of the day (171 was the next highest after that). My low of the day was 63, which was due to some more experimentation with my set change day (more on that in a different post).

Not quite meeting the fine example set by our friend Kerri, with a tight threshold of 87 - 139 (sheesh! Can you even call yourself diabetic with numbers like that?!), but I was pretty happy about my day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Ebbs & Flows of Motivation

Do you ever feel like there are 48 hours in the day, and you still can't get everything done?! And those long 48 hours are daytime working hours, while the nights, where you get your precious sleep, are but a short 2 or 3 minutes long?

I have been B.U.S.Y. lately. Just haven't had the time to sit down and hammer out any posts. I have also not had any topics that were just begging for attention. Nothing real particular that's keeping me busy, just work and life in general. Plus with the nice weather, my family has been outside more, and that's just much more fun that sitting in front of the computer.

I'm a big advocate of posting when time & motivation dictate - I don't feel any obligation to get material out on a certain schedule or time line. I do it when I can, and when I feel like I've got something to say.

Today I want to ramble on about motivation.

I know that for myself, my motivation levels change a lot over the course of a short period of time. Sometimes it's a matter of hours, other times it can be weeks or a month.

I believe that it is normal for motivation levels to go up and down. That's just human nature. Nobody feels great all the time. Everyone goes through periods where they are feeling a little down, or not up to the task of eating healthy and exercising. It's normal.

I think that being diabetic straps you down with a whole mess of extra emotions and feelings of guilt and shame when going through a rough period. We are also always loaded down with a bunch of diabetes related work - whether that means checking BG's, counting and calculating, reacting to highs or lows, planning for anticipated activities or scrambling to recover from some miscalculation or mistake, or from things out of our control (pump problem or situation we didn't anticipate).

The fact that we never, ever, get a break from all of that leads to burnout. Burnout leads to low motivation. Burnout leads to a "fuck it" attitude. Burnout leads to problems.

Why is it that during high times of motivation, burnout is not an issue? We do what we have to do, and don't really think much about it? We get on with out lives, and all the rest of the normal joys and pains that life brings along with it.

Burnout with diabetes is inevitable. There is just sometimes too much to deal with - especially when you feel like you are doing everything you can do, and it's still not working "right". I think we all often also feel that our diabetic management (or lack of it) is somehow a judgement of us for some reason. Much of this is self imposed, but there have been many a doctors or other health professionals who ask "what are you doing wrong". Maybe we have been conditioned to feel that way? Maybe it's easy for a non-diabetic clinician to pass judgement on things - when they can quit thinking about it after 4:30pm.

I am trying to stop thinking in terms of right and wrong - it's hurtful and of no benefit to anyone. I am also trying to be gentle with myself (thanks ruppert!) during my down periods. Recognizing that they are a natural part of life, and at the same time trying to minimize the time I spend there.

There have been a lot of great comments lately suggesting that I can perhaps simplify things when I'm feeling down. I think that is a great idea. I can be a wannabe perfectionist when I'm feeling "motivationally" high, and I can be a perfect minimalist when I'm feeling "motivationally" low.

I guess the point of this is that it's completely natural to have ups and downs, and to find a way to roll with the punches might be better than trying to swim against the current.

Until next time - take care!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm not angry anymore...

A while back I posted about feeling a lot of anger around logging.

I went through about two solid weeks of really really struggling with it. I mean, I was genuinely pissed off about it - and not really sure why.

There were a lot of very useful comments to that post, and I really got a lot of value from them.

One of the things I did was to just spend some time "in" that anger. Not working too hard to analyze it or try to work through it, but to just be aware of it. Maybe even paying attention to what part of logging was triggering me (which I never really figured out) - but not trying to change anything.

Near the end of the second week - after I had struggled through my action plan to log a certain number of days, I just started to feel better about it. Nothing really changed, at least that I can think of, but like a storm cloud clearing to reveal sunny skies above - my dark mood lifted.

It was not that I was magically and suddenly happy about logging - but rather a calm realization that it does help my (attempted) management, and an acceptance that I just had to do it.

I do believe that there will be times where I go through "rough periods" where that anger comes to the surface again - that just seems to be how it works for me - ups & downs, back & "forths".

I think though that I can minimize the down times, and get back on top after just a short time of that anger stuff. Normally I would set an unrealistic goal and try to totally eliminate those times. I don't think that's possible though.

Maybe coming to terms with the fact that there will be times where I'm angry, and to be Ok with short periods of it - that may be what has helped.

Kevin was generous enough to share an excel logbook that he uses (thanks Kevin!!). I like it quite a bit. There's a lot of room for free form notes, along with space to record up to four BG's per hour, carbs, boluses and basal rates. Each workbook has a tab for each day over a one week period, with some additional tabs for some averages (broken down by weekday/weekend), and a nice line graph for each of those tabs.

I still use my paper logbooks, but not as much as I used to. I pretty much only use those when I'm not at work - where I just plug them right into the spreadsheet.

I've found them very valuable while I'm playing basketball - the graph is so helpful because I can get a visual on how fast my BG is rising or falling. That visual is very important for me.

Then, once back at work, I'll go through the log and/or my pump and plug the information into the spreadsheet.

I've been using this "combination" method for about a week and a half - and it's working well for me so far. I feel somewhat liberated by not having to carry that little checkbook sized book around, along with it's pen or pencil - I mean, what good is it if you have nothing to write with!!

Until next time!

Monday, May 15, 2006

I just can't throw them away now...

My gosh I've been busy lately. But, a quick entry on Monday to let you all know that I'm still here and to get something off my chest.

Never fear - I have a list of things I'd like to talk about, and as time permits I'll get them put together here.

On to the meat of this post...

I have a problem. Well, I have a lot of problems, but this is one that I think you will all appreciate - at least a little bit.

After all of the fun and interest we had in the last Test Strip Contest, I have not been able to throw any test strips away.

I know! Crazy right? I mean, even before the contest I was not throwing enough of them away - but now I almost think of them like necessary accessories to the next contest!!! Sigh...

Courtesy of the now famous cameraphone:

Oh, and the feet you see hanging there - they belong to a Kevin Garnett McFarlane action figure that I've got hanging from my desk. Yeah, he's awesome.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pictures Speak Volumes (An AUTS Moment...)

I haven't posted in a while - just been feeling very busy. I've got a few things on my mind I want to share, but just haven't had the opportunity to sit down and hammer them out.

But every once in a while you are presented with an opportunity that just screams for your attention. This morning was one such opportunity:

This all started back when I was having so much fun with the whole "AUTS" (Another Used Test Strip) thing.

I was upstairs throwing my kids around wrestling with my kids in the bed. Right next to the bed is my nightstand which, among other things, has one of my test kits. As we all know, my test strips don't make it into the garbage. They just collect around the test kit that they originated from.

My wife came in the room and we started talking about test strips and the contest I was doing. She grabbed one of the used strips on the nightstand, licked a small portion of the backside of it, and stuck it to her forehead. "Hey kids - look!" she called - Oh, the kids just loved it, and of course started grabbing for the strips and plastering them all over their face.

Now keep in mind that this all happened months ago.

This morning, out of nowhere, my daughter walked into the bathroom with a test strip stuck to her forehead...

After pointing this out to my wife, I headed to the bedroom to grab the famous cameraphone to capture the moment. With daughter in tow from the bathroom, and cameraphone now in hand, we have yet another genuine AUTS moment captured on the blog.

Goodness, the things kids pick up, eh?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Angry at logging

I did so well for so long - then just stopped.

I'm not exactly sure why it happened or how it happened, but I just stopped logging.

I went for about two and a half months, logging consistently almost every day. Weekends were hit or miss, but the weekdays were all good all the time. Uh, not necessarily good blood sugars mind you - but whatever they were, they were being logged.

Recognizing that the simple act of logging improves my control, I set up my weekly action plan for last week with my therapist:

what: to log a complete day 3 days out of the next 7
when: starting right now
confidence: 10

Seven days went by and I logged two and a half of them. And I was really pissed off about it. I could not identify what about it was pissing me off. I was very surprised by this, and it caught me completely off guard.

Was it the logging itself or the fact I had to keep track of everything? You know - I had to keep close enough track of things to be able to write them down accurately. Why should that bother me when I already have to keep close enough track of things to be able to bolus accurately?


I had become the king of SWAG and LADCS bolusing!! In other words, not taking good care of myself. Being lazy with the carb counting and doing too much estimating and not enough hard core counting.

But what set it off and why was I so bothered by it for those 2.5 days?

I think that I don't like to log stuff that I know is not good for me. I also don't like to log stuff that I find hard to quantify. Like when I eat a bunch of junk food and don't like being honest with myself about exactly how much I've eaten. What good does that do?

I think that it bothers me that when I decide to have something like Doritos or some other chips that I have to count or weigh them. So instead, I will take a good sized bolus, eat whatever, then wait for it all to wash out of my system and adjust for it later (by either correcting for a high or eating more for a low). Maybe it comes down to not wanting to feel limited by a certain serving size? I mean, how exactly do you bolus for something you have no idea how much of you're going to eat? Christ, even that sentence is jumbled, much less the scenario I'm trying to describe! But you get what I'm trying to say.

You sit down with this big ass bag of chips, with no real thought of how much you plan to eat because you have no plan. But that just can't work with diabetes.

That's just one aspect of it - the point is that I have felt very angry at the thought of logging everything. Where is that coming from? What's it all about?

How do I move past the recognition that I'm angry about it, and start uncovering why I'm angry about it? That's the part I'm having trouble with - uncovering why I'm feeling these things. The recognition is great - a step in the right direction. But what is the next step? So what - I recognize that I'm angry about it. Now what?

I have to be Ok with logging - for me, it's an important part of control - so I have to figure out how to deal with these emotions and get back to a place where I'm comfortable with it.

Preferably at a place where I've worked through the powerful emotions and have a better understanding of myself. Maybe even working towards some sort of balance and acceptance.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Talking the Talk and TALKING the Walk...

Otherwise known as "Faking the Funk".

Conceptually I "get it". I know what I need to focus on. I know what most of my problem areas are. At least I think I do.

I've talked about many of those things here on my blog, and even gone as far as to lay out an action plan to attack those problem areas.

And that's exactly how far I've gone with it in most cases.

What's up with that? Why don't I fix it? Why don't I take those steps I've thought out?

Sometimes I will start the plan, then get frustrated with something and throw it all to the wind.

The mind is such a tangled up place. I mean, if I KNOW that things are causing me problems, why is it so hard to change my behavior?

I need both my hands and feet, as well as those of my immediate family, to count all of the things I've talked about working on or improving on. I can count on one hand the areas that I've made some sort of progress.

I am thankful and proud of myself for that much progress, but there is so much more that I could be doing. Why is it so hard to actually follow through on this stuff?

My therapist and I have been making a lot of progress lately, which is great. I'm starting to find these appointments very productive and helpful and have therefore ramped up the frequency.

At the same time, some of the issues we are beginning to uncover are scary to me. I don't have any concrete examples - nothing I can put my finger on - but nevertheless these are things that my mind has avoided dealing with for some reason or another. I find that scary. And we have just now begun to slowly chip away at the layers and layers of protection that I have built up around them.

I have so much to gain by working all of this stuff out - but my immediate reaction to the idea of working on any of it is to escape - to ignore it somehow. To distract myself with some short term comfort (ie, food, sleep, TV, some silly project, etc.)

Is it because the problem areas are often things that don't cause me immediate and sharp pain - like a cut or a burn? Are they areas that I just "know better" but fool myself into thinking I can "get away" with what I'm doing now? Just one more time? Only to cause myself to carry around a thousand pound load of guilt & shame about the long term ramifications?

Is it just me? Any of you out there fight with knowing what needs to be done, but not actually doing anything about it? Or starting to do something, perhaps only half-assed, then when you encounter the tiniest of obstacles you get frustrated and give up? Where's my commitment and follow through? I have so much to gain. Why is it so hard?

There are times I feel very strong - I will not be beaten by this.

Then there are times where my willpower is about as strong as a wet noodle...