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.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Does that have something to do with it?

I have a question for the all-knowing blogosphere.

Symlin/Amylin. (no, that's not the question. Be patient...I'll get to it...)

Symlin is the brand name of the man-made drug now available that resembles amylin. Amylin is a natural hormone that is created by the pancreas and released into the blood after meals. It's job is to slow the rate at which food is digested and absorbed, to reduce the production of glucose by the liver, and also to reduce appetite. Many of us have heard about it, and know people using it.

I know that I probably would benefit from symlin, and will give it a shot (ha!) soon. I have pretty dramatic post meal BG spikes, but then come back down to target within a few hours. I can't add more insulin because I would be dropping too low shortly after. I think I could do better by making smarter food choices (lower GI items), bolusing 15-20 minutes before eating (I try, but it's pretty damn hard most of the time), and by limiting the amount of carbs I eat in a meal. I have also tried John Walsh's "Super Bolus" with promising results, but it's a complicated bolus and takes a little bit longer to program.

That list of stuff exhausts me just thinking about it. So, I'll try symlin and see how that goes. I'm waiting for it to come out in pen form (recently FDA approved) and to get on a CGM. Both are (relatively) right around the corner.

My question is this; We know that amylin/symlin slows the digestion of food (therefore slowing the rise in BG). We know that people without diabetes naturally produce amylin. I know that I don't produce amylin. Does that mean that my food digests (and raises my BG) faster than a person without diabetes (because they produce amylin)?

Shit. That hardly seems fair. I'm already pancreatically challenged, and the timing of today's insulins are not fast enough as it is. Don't tell me my food is raising my blood sugar even faster than the next guy and his perfectly working pancreas!

If my carbs are like Road Runner then I'm like Wile E. Coyote getting all effed up trying to chase them down (using all sorts of questionable contraptions).

I hope that C-Peptide (another hormone produced by the pancreas that is not in the man-made insulin I use) doesn't do anything terribly important!

Maybe it is responsible for boosting IQ. That would explain a lot...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Desert Dingo?

What do the terms "Desert Dingo", "Class 11", and "Baja 1000" have to do with diabetes?

That is a very good question.

But before I answer, I would ask that you go watch this very short clip from a Baja 1000 documentary called "Dust to Glory".

Got your attention? At least a little bit?


What ties it all together is that the Desert Dingo Racing Team decided to build a "World Diabetes Day Car", launch a drive-a-thon fundraiser to support diabetes research and education, and give 100% (!!) of the funds raised directly to the International Diabetes Federation!

The race car will sport the official World Diabetes Day logos in English and Spanish as well as have the distinctive blue circle on the roof (for the helicopters to see).

Color me impressed.

The Baja 1000 race takes a week to run (1,300 miles, through the desert). It is the longest non-stop point-to-point race in the world. The team will start early on Wednesday, November 13 (World Diabetes Day is November 14), and expect to drive non-stop for 53 hours (changing out drivers and navigators several times).

They will begin live blogging and Twittering when they arrive in Mexico on November 9th.

Please consider making a donation at the World Diabetes Day "drive-a-thon" pledge page.

Good luck Desert Dingo's! Thank you!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Product Review: Eat Smart Nutrition Scale

Eat Smart Nutrition Scale

I feel pulled in a couple different directions with this post.

Disclaimer: I don't intend for this blog to become some commercialized dumping ground for marketers to flood my e-mail box with requests for posts and product reviews. Because I experienced such strong feelings of conflict through this experience, I don't plan on doing this again.

With that being said, Mr. Geronimo, the man behind the product, approached me in such a genuine and unassuming way that I decided to explore the possibility further. We exchanged a few e-mails and he sent me a review model of his product. We decided on a review model, which I am sending back after trying, so that it does not appear he "purchased" a favorable review by giving me a scale. I'll end up buying one when it's all said and done.

Another concern that I had with doing a review is that I don't have any experience with other scales on the market that have a food database feature. How can I possibly review a product when I don't have any exposure to the competition? Well, I'm not going to. What I can do is run the scale through some of my daily routine. Ready?

I'm not - let's do some more background.

One of the first questions I asked Mr. Geronimo was what makes his Eat Smart Nutrition Scale unique? What sets it apart from the competition?

1) It was designed by nutrition and medical professionals, and from the very beginning the design and functionality were done specifically for people with various conditions (diabetes, hypertension, etc.) for whom there is great importance in tracking specific nutrient intake.
2) The internal database of foods. To piggy back on that point, the manual talks about the specific foods that were selected because nutritional information is not readily available, such as fresh fruits & vegetables, meats, fish, etc. (there are usually no food labels on these items).
3) With each scale comes a booklet titled "A Practical Approach To Healthy Eating", which is a nicely put together and goes into general information on generally healthy eating, cardiovascular health, diabetes (both type 1 and type 2!), osteoporosis, and weight management. I found the section on diabetes to be well done and it was refreshing to see such a brief summary of diabetes touch on the important points of the dietary aspect of managing our condition.
4) (MY FAVORITE FEATURE) A Nutrition Facts Calculator mode of operation. This computes nutrients of a weighed portion using the Nutrition Facts label. In this mode, the scale does the math for me. It is great, and I'll talk a bit more about it.

Ok, enough background. On with the review!

Looking at the damaged edge of the box and the delicate glass tray of the scale, I was hoping that it made it through the postal system in one piece. Which it did. Whew!

In the last few weeks I have used the scale for a couple of different things, none of which used the food database in the scale's memory. I have "unique" eating habits. I pretty much don't eat anything in the list (that doesn't already have a label). Shame on me and my less than ideal eating habits.

I really enjoyed the "Nutrition Facts Calculator" mode on the scale. It is fantastic. It is one of those simple math things that I just don't like to do in my head. I typically get around this dislike for math by measuring everything out to the serving size(s) listed on the nutrition facts label. I have to match how much I want to eat to the serving sizes on the label, just to keep the math simple.

Pasta noodles and minute rice are my most frequently used examples of this. With the pasta noodles I weight out servings in two ounce increments (dry, uncooked noodles). With the minute rice I measure out servings in half cup increments. Another good example would be cereal, but I am usually too lazy to do that kind of thing when I eat cereal.

With the nutrition facts calculator, I weigh how much I want to eat, and the scale does the math for me. Fantastic! I no longer struggle with whether I have exact serving sizes or not. I tell the scale how much one serving weighs (in grams), then how many nutrients per serving I want to know. In my case I wanted to know the grams of carbohydrates. You can only do one nutrient per calculation, so if I needed to know the calories as well I would have to punch more buttons on the scale.

So, when I'm hungry for some minute rice, I pull out the scale, tare out the bowl I'm using, pour in my rice, and presto! I have an exact carb count for my rice. And I didn't have to do any math in my head. I love it.

The other thing I often use my food scale for is preparing some of the foods I bring to work for lunches (14 chips anyone?).

In the pictures below I've told the scale that one serving of pita chips (whole grain!) is 28 grams, and that each serving is 17 grams of carbohydrate. In this picture you can see that I have 30 grams of pita chips, and the scale calculates that those extra 2 grams (weight) equals one more gram (nutrient) of carbohydrate.

Some time later...

As I was weighing and bagging, I did find that there is about a two second delay between placing the food on the scale and getting the calculation. It takes some getting used to, but was not a major distraction.

To wrap up, I enjoyed using the scale and am a bit sorry that I have to send it back. I will end up buying one, mostly for the nutrition facts calculator feature (which is not found on any competitor scales). There are a couple really nice videos on the website that give an introduction and demo of the scale. If you are interested I encourage you to take a look at them. Here are some more photos of the packaging and books.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Saved by the bell?

1:06 AM last night (today?). My pump had been vibrating for (it turns out) for about an hour, trying to get my attention. Blood glucose reminder.

I finally wake up enough to acknowledge the alert and get it to stop bothering me. But I realize that I'm really honking hungry. REALLY hungry. Hungry enough to pursued me to actually check my blood glucose.

I prop myself up on one elbow, fumble around until I've gathered my bottle of test strips, my lancing device, and my FreeStyle Flash meter (I love the light on the end). I get everything set, apply the blood to the strip, and almost before I was able to lick the blood off my finger the result was on the screen. 34 mg/dl.

Two thoughts cross my mind at almost the same time. 1) Yikes! 2) How the heck did that happen?

I chalked up the low BG to being really, really sloppy in my eating and counting and bolusing earlier in the evening. Really sloppy.

As I hoovered up everything I could find in the kitchen, I was really struck by the timing of everything.

When I take any type of bolus later in the evening, I try my best to remember to bypass the blood glucose reminder (by pressing the touch bolus button when "deliver" is above the right button) so that it doesn't wake me up a couple hours later.

In this case I obviously forgot to bypass that reminder. Good thing I did.

The reminder had been buzzing away for 59 minutes before I crawled out of whatever REM state I was in to acknowledge it. Most other nights that I'm disturbed by a pump alert I just press the button to silence it so I can go back to sleep. To say that I even wake up to silence it would be a stretch.

This time when I acknowledged the alert, I felt a strong sense of hunger, but not a single other symptom of being low. Nothing. I'm usually very able to sense my low BG's, even at night. I usually wake up feeling low WAY before I get down that far.

Was I dropping so rapidly that I didn't experience those familiar and uncomfortable feelings? Was I so overly tired that I just slept right through them? What happened?

I was really quite disturbed by not waking up feeling low, and not really even feeling low until I saw the number on my meter. And I was scared shitless about what might have happened if I hadn't forgotten to bypass the BG reminder some three or four hours earlier...

Thank God for the little things that sometimes make a very big difference.