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, November 22, 2006

Are You Ready?! Another "AUTS" Contest!!

I am a creature of habit. I can't reach my arm two inches further in the opposite direction to throw these into the trash.

That being said, I'd like to share a picture with you all.

As many of you may already know - this picture is of a corner of my desk at work. As I've explained before, the trash can is simply too far away for me to throw these away on any regular basis. And with such a collection I simply had to run another contest.

I don't discriminate between meters. If I have strips available for a particular meter, they will get used. You can see a One Touch Ultra Smart, a FreeStyle Flash, an Accu-Chek Compact, and there are two Accu-Chek Aviva's you can't see. I go through spurts where one type of strip will be better covered by insurance than the other. Being of limited financial resources, I have to go with what it cheapest. And yes, that actually is a bottle of Ketostix.

The foot? That's my Kevin Garnett figure. I love that guy.

The Contest:

You know how it works - the first person to leave a comment in this post with the closest guess to the actual number of test strips will win a small "real world" prize!

Deadline is Sunday, December 10th, with the winner being announced on Monday the 11th. I must also have some way to e-mail you - no "anonymous" winners.

Game on!

And yes, Julia, I know. I just can't help it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Amy's Food Scale!

Amy over at posted recently about her new food scale.

This is something that has been around for a while, but I didn't appreciate the concept then as I think I might now.

This type of scale comes with a database of foods. You put the food on the scale, punch in the code or look up the food, and it gives you (among other things) the total grams of carbohydrates.

One of the many major obstacles I fight with is the resistance to measure and count. I think it has something to do with getting all emotionally tied up around the so called "serving size" and my desire to eat much more than that little amount. Or to eat in multiples so I can more easily calculate the carb grams.

Are you with me here?

With this type of scale, I would dish up what I want, punch in the code, and have an accurate count of the carbs. This gets me around the serving size mental roadblock, and give me a very accurate count. This is assuming the food I want is actually in the database.

One commenter, Jana, described actually being able to build a meal this way. Working the scale to "zero" out the previous items and adding the next.

I completely realize that this single item is not going to solve all of my food woes, but each helpful tool is a helpful tool right? I also realize that an accurate count of carb grams can help me match my insulin to those carbs, but it will not make the calories "go away".

If anyone finds something that makes the calories just "go away" - please let me know.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Which Way is Down

I have some very exciting news to share!

I have recently been invited to contribute to the Viewpoints section on!

In such honorable company as Amy Tenderich from Diabetes Mine and Kerri Morrone from Six Until Me!

I feel like I'm in the company of SUPERSTARS!!

My new column is called "Which Way is Down", and I'll be on board for at least a three month "trial" run.

If you enjoy my blog, I feel that you will also enjoy what I have to share in my column. Sometimes living with diabetes is a never ending source of things to write about. I'm hoping to share my experiences with people in the hopes that they (you) might be able to gain some insight, avoid mistakes that I make, and shorten the learning curve for things that are similar in your situation.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Bad Sign?

Feeling weird.

Maybe I’m low?

What will I eat? Maybe I’ll have some chocolate milk? Or how about some of the kids Halloween stash? The list of things I might use to treat this suspected low is already flying around my head. My mouth is already starting to salivate.

I reach over to the nightstand and grab my test kit. Get the strip, insert it into the meter, poke my finger and apply the sample. Within 5 seconds I have my result.

186 mg/dl.


Well, I’m not low, that’s for sure!

But is it a bad sign that I’m a little disappointed because I don’t have to (get to?) go and indulge my sweet tooth?

Once again I recognize the irritating link between elevated blood sugars and the urges to eat.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Race Walking Experience

We had a lot of fun with Art-Sweet's little twist on the "Tag" game flying around.

Rather than give us five straight up facts about herself, she shared four facts and one fiction. It was a hoot!

She recently spilled the truth (which, by the way, we were anxiously awaiting).

The one item that was not true had to do with being a competitive race walker.

Any time I hear or see "race walker", I have a flashback to one of the most humiliating (in a funny way) times of my life.

Probably about five or six years ago I signed up for a handful of 10k races over the summer. I think it was three in all. Yeah, you know, jogging for 6.2 miles and all that.

What the hell was I thinking?!

I had been playing basketball, doing a little running (like 2 whole miles, once or twice a week), and some weight training. I felt like I could conquer the world.

My first race came and went - and it was not bad. Sure, I was one of the last to cross the finish line, but that wasn't important to me. Simply CROSSING the finish line was my goal. All this time later, I can't remember exactly what I did to manage my blood sugars, but it was Ok. I remember carrying a big plastic bottle of OJ for the whole race, just in case. I never needed it. Finished in a little over an hour.

Second race came and went - and it sucked. Lots of hills, really hot weather and high humidity. But again, my blood sugars were fine. This time I had a little belt pouch thing with some stuff in it, rather than carrying that bottle of juice. No issues, again finished in a bit over an hour - just a little slower than the first race.

My third (and last) race was total and complete suckage.

It was even hotter and more humid than race number 2, and this time I had some family from out of town with me. Some waiting at the finish line, and a cousin and aunt running with (ahead) of me. Now my cousin and aunt actually run - so they were lost beyond the horizon within minutes of starting the race. That's fine - again, I'm just simply trying to reach the finish line.

At this point, I'm still new to this whole racing thing - and hadn't figured much of a plan out. I had stuff with me to treat a low, but that's it. I had good luck for the first two races and didn't appreciate the need for more "tools" in hand for this race. Plus, it's a race right? I didn't want to be carrying a bunch of crap with me. I was all about traveling light. Bare essentials.

Not more than a mile into the race and I felt like crap. My legs were toast and were barely cooperating with my brains instructions to keep going one step at a time. I thought to myself "holy crap - what the hell is up?! I must be getting low!" - so I crammed a gu packet. These things have about 25 grams of carbs or so, and are a very small and compact little packet. Easy to carry, easy to use.

I've never touched the damn things since.

I have since reconsidered, on the sole recommendations of Sarah, but we'll see...

My legs did not get any better. I just kept pushing on. Each step feeling like I was wearing cement blocks for shoes, with lead socks.

By this time I have watched what seemed like the entire population of Minneapolis truck right on by me.

There were big people, small people, tall people and short people. But the one thing they all had in common was that they were faster than me.

Again, the focus for me was not to WIN the race. Just to finish. And at this point, even that was questionable.

My cement block shoes and lead socks felt like they were gaining a pound for each and every step I took. Each step was a miracle. Every foot of ground gained brought me that much closer to the finish line. And the finish line is where I could stop this foolishness.

Every few minutes another faster race participant would jog on by me. I could not help but to wonder just how many damn people were in this race?! There simply could not be many more people behind me.

Another few steps, another few feet.

What? That can't be yet another person coming up behind me!

Sure enough, out of the corner of my eye I see someone next to me, and of course, going faster than me.

As this little firecracker of a woman advances ahead of me, I can't help but to notice that she's not running.

She's race walking.

And she's race walking faster than I am running...

It was not more than about 5 minutes before I lost her over the horizon.

Gone - just like that.

Race. Walking.

Not being one to throw in the towel, I somehow kept pushing on. Pushing my legs to carry my lackluster self on, eventually reaching the finish line. My family was there waiting, probably wondering if I'd ever show up.

I collapsed sat down on the grassy hill, guzzling whatever water I could get my hands on. After a few minutes of recovery, I made my way to my car and tested my blood sugar.

I don't remember exactly what it was, but it was in the mid to high 400's.

Now it all made sense. My blood was thicker than molasses in a frigid Minnesota winter. Can you imagine your blood as thick as maple syrup, trying desperately to work it's way into your muscles and cells? No wonder my body was struggling to cooperate with what my brain was begging it to do!!

I got a nice big dose of insulin in my system, and began my long and sleepy road to recovery. Recovery from the high blood sugar, recovery from the race itself and recovery from being lapped by a race walker.

I skipped the celebratory breakfast, which was pancakes and syrup by the way.

After that traumatic experience I put together a better game plan, to help avoid a repeat of this situation (at least the high blood sugar part - there's really not much I can do about the race walker), but have never signed up for any more races.

Since then, I have learned so much more about how my body works during exercise. I don't think I would go into the situation so ill-prepared again. But with that being said, every situation is different, and we can only do the best we can do.

And that folks, is my very own race walking experience. Thank you, Art-Sweet, for bringing that memory back into focus for me! I had tried very, very hard to forget. :-)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

D-Blog Day!


2nd Annual D-Blog Day

What an event! D-Bloggers from all around are posting like crazy!

I can't keep up with it all! I do promise that I will read each and every post in the blogs I follow - but there's no way it will happen tonight.

What an inspiring group you all are, and you should be so very proud. I never would have imagined that so many of us would come together and provide such a useful resource for each other. It is humbling.

Thank you all for doing what you do and being who you are.

And a super special "Thank You" to Allison, Gina and Tiffany for all that you do for us. Without the work that you do for us, the OC would not be what it is today. You rock!!

Why the hell didn't I think of that earlier?!

I know that I am not the only one that this happens to. You know, one of those "why didn't I think of that?" moments? Or, in this case, "why didn't I think of that earlier?".

I was talking to my therapist about the amount of work that goes into trying to prepare for basketball. Not only the actual physical aspects of getting everything together, lugging that big bag to the gym and all that.

More so it was juggling the food, blood sugars and insulin levels before starting.

I talked for a long time about all of the things I had tried. I complained about this and that, why this didn't work or why I thought that was too hard.

It was all related to trying to have my breakfast food pretty much digested and my insulin done "doing it's thang". I wanted to start at a certain point and have as few variables in the mix as possible.

I was struggling with this though because there were typically only about three hours or so between breakfast time and basketball time. There was just not enough time in the morning to let it all "wash out".

I would try to have breakfast earlier and earlier, and it just was not working out. I would either be running too low or too high shortly before starting. Just not having any luck at all.

I tried just skipping breakfast altogether, but that was a disaster. I might as well have worn cement shoes out there. I had no energy.

As I'm explaining to my therapist why life before ball was so difficult, I had a "light bulb" moment.

"Hey!" I exclaimed! "I could eat a LATER breakfast and just cut the bolus down some!"


She calmly explained that she thought it was worth a try, even though she probably really wanted to say "Um, yeah, that's what I would have done a long time ago".

I've tried it a few times, and I think that it is working out MUCH better than anything else I've tried so far. I still need to tweak the ratios and adjust my temp rates, but it's going good at this point.

My energy level is good, and my BG's can be pretty stable. It still all depends on what I eat, but that's another discussion.

Man. Why is that you sometimes have to just start talking (or blogging) about something before you get some valuable ideas popping into your head? Because it helps you think through the problem, sometimes allowing you to get around the blocks you have in your "self talk".

Monday, November 06, 2006

To Move Mountains

The truth is what it is.

Diabetes sucks. At least for me. At least most of the time.

When I posted A Call to Action, I just let it out. I didn't pull any punches or sugar coat my feelings. I worried about what so many of you parents would experience when reading it. But also felt that I just needed to put it out there.

When talking motivation for finding a cure, people need to know that it is not Ok to just settle on insulin and make money on the supplies we need. People need to know what it is like to live with type 1 diabetes.

But I also want to share the other side of all of that.

I live a good life.

I have experienced many wonderful things, many not-so-wonderful things, and a lot that fall in the middle somewhere.

I am a good father to two wonderful kids.

I am a good husband to an amazing wife.

I am a thankful and gracious son to my awe inspiring mom & dad.

I am a proud brother to the best little sister in the world.

I am a successful and valuable asset to my employer.

I am a lot of things, and diabetes has not gotten in the way too much.

While it is always there, and I have to always be aware of it. Mindful in how I deal with it, and respectful of it's dangerous aspects. It does not stop me from living and experiencing life. All the good and bad that it brings.

My life is not all about diabetes. My life is about life, and family, and happiness, and joy, and pain, and everything else that every-one's life is about. I just have to carry my diabetes around with that.

Sometimes it is very heavy. Crushing, in fact.

But as I've said before - I am strong (we are strong), and there are times where I don't notice the weight so much. Times where I'm wrapped up in life just like anyone else.

Those of us dealing with chronic conditions like type 1 diabetes, we find a way to make it work. We find a way to do what we want to do in life.

Life does not stop just because diabetes is along for the ride.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

And while we're at it...

I am up late tonight.

I can't seem to put the computer away and sign off for the night.

I saw that Martha O'Connor had updated her blog, and I went to check it out. She posted a link to a photo gallery about young kids with type 1 diabetes by Teresa Ollila. This stuff is powerful, and when they say pictures say a thousand words, this is a perfect example.

The timing of me stumbling across these (thank you Martha!) just seemed too important to ignore.

Teresa Ollila's photo project

A Call to Action

Penny has posted a Call to Action.

Please go take a look at her post. She really makes some great points about the general lack of awareness that exists in the public eye.

The majority of what we do see every day focuses on type 2 diabetes. With that making up 90% of the diabetic population, I guess it makes sense. But it also makes me look at all of this "National Diabetes Month" and other events with a little bit of selfish annoyance. Why? Even I can't make much sense of it.

I think that much of it comes from being angry about cures promised to me 20 years ago. 26 years later and we're not any closer. It's frustrating, and it takes the wind right out of your sails. But it's also wrong of me to automatically have such a negatively biased take on everything. It's not fair. I'm trying to be better about that.

In Penny's post, she encourages us to post about what living with diabetes means to us, and why it is so important for the public to get involved with fighting this disease too. I put together some of my first thoughts, and they are hard to read about. I think of my dad, who will have a hard time reading these things, and I think about my other loved ones who care so much about me too. But these are the things that first jumped into my head. People won't care about a cure if the treatment (insulin) seems to be good enough. It's not.

So, here are the thoughts that I documented shortly after reading Penny's post:

Living with diabetes cannot be explained to anyone. It is very difficult to put into word these vague but important feelings you have. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the word or words for the feelings you have.

Feeling of isolation or loneliness is a feeling I’m often dealing with. Feeling like the only one in the world who has to juggle all of the things that need to be juggled, feeling like the only one who has to test blood sugars, count carbohydrates, anticipate and react, deal with highs and lows, and constantly worrying about whether or not I’m doing it all good enough.

At the age of 31, I’m already contemplating what my last days will be like. On one hand, I’m not afraid. Recognizing that my passing will be a point where I can finally get some peace, and not having to deal with all that diabetes throws at you. But on the other hand, while I do know that my friends and family will be there, I will be the one going through whatever it is that is happening. That sounds lonely.

Feeling tired is a constant. Not tired as in sleepy, but tired of dealing with it all. It is too much and it is all the time. There is never a point where I can stop thinking about where I’m at, where I’m headed, where I’ve come from, what activity might I be doing soon, have I done any activity recently, what might I eat soon, what have I eaten recently, etc. The list goes on and on, and then on some more. I tire of dealing with it all.

I also tire of feeling crummy when my blood sugar is high or low, and of always questioning the perception what I did wrong or failed to do to get me there. Sure, there are times when it really is nothing I did or didn’t do – but I believe those times are rare. More often it is something I perceive I did or didn’t do, or something I feel I did wrong. I don’t even want to talk about the guilt and shame associated with that.

I get frustrated with the amount of time it takes to treat a high or low blood sugar. In the case of a low, it’s often only about 15 minutes. But DURING that low, those 15 minutes feel like an eternity. The HOURS spent trying to come back down after a high blood sugar. It's awful. I just want to sleep it all away.

I often get scared. Sometimes it is an immediate thing, like a low that I’m worried I won’t be able to handle myself. Or a low while I’m alone with my kids. Those things are truly scary, and you feel the cold fingers of fear on the back of your neck whenever you sense the situation approaching.

Sometimes it is a fear of what the future holds. What complications might I battle with, and what will those battles be like? I think that the fear of complications is more general, and when faced with a complication I will find a way to cope and get through it. But it is still scary to think about.

There is a lot of misunderstanding around managing diabetes. That lack of control means a lack of effort. That because my blood sugar numbers or A1C results are high, that I don’t try very hard to keep them lower. If I develop complications the perception is that I didn’t try hard enough or work hard enough.

What about the fact that the tools available to us today are still very primitive? Sure, they are way better than what was available years ago – but they are still primitive. I can try until I’m blue in the face, work as hard as I can, and I still may not be able to reach my target range.

Diabetes is also a very expensive condition to live with. If you don’t have some form of insurance coverage I don’t believe you could maintain for long. Even with insurance coverage there are months where I simply can’t get as many test strips as I would like. I’m often sacrificing purchasing other things just so I can afford to get my insulin or thyroid pills.

The cost of insurance coverage is always going up, and the benefits covering less and less. It’s scary to think about. It’s frustrating to feel like you are not able to get the tools you need to try your best with managing diabetes. There are enough daily battles living with diabetes that having to jump through extra hoops can really beat you into submission.

With all that being said, there are times where diabetes is not in the forefront of your brain. Times where you push it into the background and do the other things that life is about. But it’s really not long before you have to pull it forward again, or when it’s forced to the forefront by a low or a high, some feeling that totally interrupts whatever it was you were doing.

We find a way to live life, to move on with things. To work. To play. To survive.

Because we have to.

A day later, I read through all of that and it sounds pretty terrible. But you know what - those are the uncensored thoughts that came to me. The truth of living with diabetes has to be recognized as a difficult thing to do in order for there to be any priority in working for the cure or advancing therapy.

I did not write this looking for sympathy or well wishes. I am Ok, life moves on and I find a way to make it. But living with diabetes really sucks most of the time, and it needs to be talked about. People "out there" need to understand that it is a hard thing to live with.

So there you have it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

El Tagaroo!

Ryan over at Ryan Bruner's blog has tagged me! Ryan - I'm honored!

There was a round of tag that worked it's way through the OC last year, and I was bitten on or around December of 2005. Wow, that seems like EONS ago in blogtime doesn't it?! I know that I personally got a kick out of reading all this stuff about people that you would never know about.

I am supposed to share five facts about myself, and then tag five other bloggers and challenge them to do the same.

Random Fact #1: I can't spell. I am highly dependant on either the google toolbar's spell check, the spell check in bloggers WYSIWYG post editor, and/or all the other spell checks that are available. In fact, if you watch closely, the blogs whos comments are in a "pop-up" window (which renders the google toolbar's spell check useless) you will find many misspelled words.

Random Fact #2: I have trouble knowing when to use "effect" rather than "affect". I look it up every time, think I understand it, then get frustrated and find some other way to say what I'm trying to say. I'm quite sure I've misused it many times before. Please call my attention to it when I do it again.

Random Fact #3: I can raise one eyebrow at a time. On both sides.

Random Fact #4: I still sleep with my "blanky". I have had this thing for as longer than I can remember. It's a (faded) yellow blanky, that used to have a velvet lining around the edges. I do not travel with it, but I fiercely defend it when I'm at home. I used to fight with my kids for it, but now they know better than to mess with it. When I can't find it I will spend a significant amount of time looking for it before giving up and just going to bed. Angry.

Random Fact #5: I don't fish. I hate the part about getting the live worm on the hook, and hate even more the part about having to get the live fish OFF the hook. I hate it. I am forced into uncomfortable situations because my six-year-old son likes to fish. You should see me out there - like a little pansy. Gloves on and everything. Squirming around with a grossed out look on my face, trying not to puke, as I'm trying to rip the fish hook out of a fish or stick some poor squiggly worm onto the hook. I figure another summer or two and my son will tire of his squeamish dad and do it all himself out of sheer frustration.

I can not possibly keep track of who has or has not been tagged yet, so if I'm re-tagging you, I apologize... Here are the folks I Tag:

Art-Sweet at Art-Sweet
ada/birdie at aiming for grace
Heidi at In Search of Balance
Minnesota Nice at PurpleHaze
Hannah at Dorkabetic

I know it can be kind of a weird thing, so don't feel pressured to participate. But you will spend some time in the official OC doghouse if you choose not to play along. C'mon - you can do it...

And with that - I officially declare "no tagbacks"!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Correction Bolus = Blood Sugar Go DOWN

Generally speaking, when you give a correction bolus, your blood sugar goes down.

I usually operate with that in mind. You know, blood sugar is higher than target, you take an appropriate amount of insulin, and your blood sugar starts going down.

Of course there are all of the scenarios that we know all too well. Being sick, fighting ketones, infusion set or site problems, bad insulin, whatever. Those are (hopefully) rare encounters, and they are easily explained away once we get to the bottom of it.

Here is how my morning went today:

  • Wake up, test blood sugar. Time is 7:40 am.
  • 142 mg/dl
  • Not too bad. Three digit number starting with "1".
  • Enter that number into pump and deliver a 1.20 unit bolus
  • Get ready for work, drive to work, get to work (as in "arrive", not like "yay! I get to work")
  • Do some work stuff, walk down to the cafeteria and get breakfast
  • Get back to my desk, ready to eat my english muffin & peanut butter
  • Test blood sugar. Time is 8:58 am.
  • 142 mg/dl
Um... Ok.

But wait - I did deliver a correction bolus right? You know, that one that is supposed to make your blood sugar go down? Yep, I sure did!

And typically when you take insulin, particularly a bolus it's job is to make your blood sugar go down, right? Yep, I thought so.

So what happened to that 1.20 units of insulin that I took? Did it just magically disappear? Did it wha..?

Well, I do realize that it had only been a tad short of an hour and a half, but on that note, IT HAD BEEN A FRICKIN' HOUR AND A HALF!!! All things considered, I would expect to be at least lower than what it was when I took the insulin.

Just one of those things.

I didn't really have the time this morning to sit back and see what would have happened given another hour or two - but I'm really curious now.

Stepping back a little bit, it makes me wonder if I don't need a different correction factor for a certain time period in the morning? You know, that I might be a little more resistant to my insulin for some time after I wake up.

But is it a "time of day" thing or a "waking up and moving around" thing?

And if I do come to the conclusion that my correction factor needs to be different for some period in the morning, how the hell do you figure what time you go back to your regular correction factor?

A lot of testing. A whole lot of testing. Then some more testing. And yet more testing.

And the presence of mind to watch and see if it worked or not. Sometimes I feel like my attention span is really bad when I can't keep track of something a short two or three hours later.

Or if I get distracted and forget to keep the variables out of the mix during that time.

I feel that there is a shortage of days that I can really take the time to eliminate those variables. So many days where something is going on that I need to take care of. Days where I just don't have the hours to really watch and see what's happening. Maybe two a week, excluding weekends.

With that in mind, it seems like such a big job to work through. Something that takes so much trial and error - and the daunting task of trying to keep track of it all over such a long time span.

I know, I know. I have to do it, and I just have to start. And it's not really as hard as my overly complicated self talk makes it seem.

But still.

Never do today what you can put off until next week.

Wake me up when things are easier.