World Diabetes Day 2013 is something that I will always remember. I planned on being a part of as many of the 24 topics for the World Diabetes Day Chat as possible. With so many different topics and moderators and participants, I knew that there was going to be so much information to learn and new perspectives to be seen. To say I was super excited was an understatement.
It all started at midnight on the 14th, when it all began. There were a lot of familiar faces, but there were also a lot of people that I haven’t seen tweets from or had ever seen participating in chats. I knew I was going to need a lot of coffee if I was going to make it until 3 .am. like I wanted to. I didn’t make it to 3 a.m., but 2:15-ish was close enough for me. It was time to get some sleep and be refreshed for the long day ahead.
Luckily, I work from home, so I was able to participate as much as I was able to during the day. There were some great topics and I found that answers and responses from one topic would bleed into another one, which led to a lot of common thoughts among the participants. I also found a lot more new people to follow on Twitter.
All in all, after a long 24 hours, the day was a success. I received several spam tweets which means that the hashtag was getting some traction. That’s all that we can ask for, that the conversation fell upon ears that may have not known exactly what was going on.
How did you spend your World Diabetes Day? Did you participate in the chat and/or what else did you do?
I was approached a couple of months ago to start a trial for the Asante SNAP Insulin Pump. As you may recall, I have stopped using my Medtronic pump about 6 months ago and have been on MDI. This will be my first time pumping since May. I chose to wait until now to do the trial because I knew that I had my honeymoon approaching and I didn’t want to be on a trial insulin pump in another country.
In order to get started, I have to regroup and figure out all of my old pump settings as a starting point. This is going to be a great test for the pump, because I will need to be testing my basal rates and carb ratios and sensitivity levels because I know they have changed from 6 months ago when I stopped pumping.
Wishing myself a happy pumping experience.
I’m approaching my 10 year diaversary (not until April 2014), but it’s close enough for me to consider it approaching. I wanted to take some time for myself to reflect back on where I was in my life 10 years ago. And, if you did the math properly, you will notice that I didn’t have diabetes 10 years ago.
10 years ago, I was in college playing football at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The season was winding down with only a few games left and I was really looking forward to the season being over and getting a break from football. I seemed to be getting worn down and just didn’t have the same amount of energy that I previously had and I just wanted to get home for Thanksgiving break.
I don’t recall having any of the symptoms of diabetes at this time, I just remember that I was feeling burnt out from the effects of a long football season. I didn’t start feeling any symptoms until about January – February. Once I came back from Winter break in January, I still felt sluggish going to the gym everyday and getting into our off-season workouts. I started to believe that my years of football were done, that I just didn’t want to put in the hard hours of the off-season anymore.
It wasn’t until spring break in early March that I decided that I just had enough. I couldn’t lift as much in the weight room, I couldn’t run as long during workouts and my arm would be tired after a 30 minute throwing session, so I wanted to have spring break to discuss with my parents about quitting football. I had never once thought about quitting football. Even when I had a full ride to Maryland and Rutgers thrown away because of an ACL injury in high school, I swallowed my pride and went to a D3 school. But, this time I could not take anymore of the off-season workouts.
While I was at home during that spring break, I remember going to breakfast with my mom and eating french toast with regular syrup and feeling like I was swallowing thorns because of how dry my mouth was after eating and going to the bathroom every 15-20 minutes while I was home and going out with my friends.
It wasn’t until a month after that I was on my way to the emergency with the 858 blood sugar diagnosis.
And then the life with diabetes began.
I have expressed my disgust in the past about my local JDRF chapter. I used to have a great relationship with them in the past. They would allow me to attend events that cost money, they would send me personal emails about events that they had upcoming and things were great. Here’s the kicker, I worked for a local diabetes supply company at the time who was donating money for different walks and events.
After not being at the company, the relationship began to dissolve. I was no longer receiving as many emails or invites to things. I was denied to speak about the DOC and hand out Diabetes Advocates information. Heck, I wasn’t even allowed to get votes from them for my Diabetes Heroes video. Yet, they were constantly requesting money and things from me with their newsletters.
I have always loved JDRF because I love the things they are doing. I love giving back to the kids and giving kids hope is great, so I always enjoyed attending JDRF events that were focused on kids. I give them credit for attempting some sort of adult functions, but they occur once in a blue moon and the ones that are more frequent are like $50 tickets per person to get in. Which means, that I will be attending with my wife and we will need to drop $100 every time we want to go to a JDRF function. I’m sorry, but I’m not loaded with that kind of money. Let’s also not forget that CSI Marketing Solutions (company I own) has donated plenty of money to them over the last 3 years, but that doesn’t matter come ticket time.
I see that somebody who previously lived in my area, now lives elsewhere (I’m not naming names, because I don’t know if they want names to be named), and they are having a completely different experience with their local JDRF. This tells me that it’s not JDRF who has the problem, it’s my local chapter. But, I don’t know how far up the chain it goes. Some of the day to day people in the chapter have always been great to me, but the directors seem to be the ones that put the hammer down on any sort of ideas that I’ve had in the past.
I am almost to the point that I want to begin supporting the local JDRF chapter in Pennsylvania where I am originally from.
How many others have frustrations like mine with their local JDRF chapter?
Over the last few months that I have been off my insulin pump, I have really enjoyed it. My A1C came down a few decimal points and I see fewer high blood sugars. One negative that I have seen though is the amount of fat around my lower belly has increased, a lot. I take 90% of my shots in my stomach. Since I use so much insulin, it’s easier to take the shots there than in my arms or legs. Plus, I usually take insulin at the same time that I’m eating, so in my legs takes too long and I end up with spikes after eating. I have definitely seem the increase in the amount of fat in the injection areas though. And that, I don’t like.
I’ve been trying to take smaller doses of insulin since I read an article that Scott Johnson posted a couple of weeks ago. Sorry, I don’t have the link, but if you have it, please add it. This means that I can take my full amount of insulin, but take half in my left arm and half in my right arm and then there’s not as much sting or pain because of the large amount of insulin being injected there.
I’ve been losing weight overall and have been really trying to do some ab exercises to get rid of this extra belly fat, but as of now, nothing has been working. But, just like anything in life, I will continue to work hard at it and not give up.
Whether you are on MDI or wear a pump in your stomach area, have you found this to be the case?
Let me first say, that I am not talking about the honeymoon period when you are first diagnosed with diabetes. I am talking about the honeymoon that I just came back from last week and having diabetes. My honeymoon consisted of a cruise to the Bahamas, as well as a stop in Key West. I have been cruising before with diabetes, so I wasn’t too concerned about the supplies issue. The last time that I cruised with diabetes, I was using an insulin pump, but this time, it’s all syringes and vials.
For anyone that has ever been on a cruise, you know the first thing that you do as soon as you get on the boat is sprint to the lunch buffet and start the weight gain process as soon as possible. That’s what I did. I was feeling a bit low from the process of checking in, walking through the lines to get on the boat, and carrying two bags with me, so I knew that eating first was the right choice. I went to the restroom to take a shot in-between plate one and plate two.
We were planning on taking the day trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas and doing the watermark and pools there. We did this several years ago when I was on the pump, and I had to disconnect and connect every time that I wanted to go into the rapids river (their version of a not so lazy river). This time around, it was so much easier. Just go in and out whenever I felt like it with no worries about disconnecting at all.
All the diabetes supplies were in the locker that we rented and I only went back to the locker about once every hour in order to test and grab anything else that we may have needed.
The second day of the cruise included a day at the private island of Coco Cay. This place was truly tropical paradise. Quick side note. One of Amanda and myself’s favorite combined movie is Couple Retreat. We watch it every chance we get. So, this honeymoon had nonstop references to Couples Retreat. Coco Cay felt like Eden West and East, depending on which side of the island you were on.
Back to the story.
While we were there, we decided to get our first couples massage, once again from Couples Retreat. As crazy as this may sound, I’ve never had a massage before, so I had no idea what to expect. I was concerned that I was going to go low in the middle of the massage and would have to stop the therapist in order to eat some candy. So, to prepare for this, I had a little snack before I went into the massage. My blood sugar was around 200, but I was fine with that because I didn’t want to stop the massage because of a low. I did alert the therapist however that I was diabetic and that in the case of a low blood sugar, I would need to drink some juice or eat candy.
No lows, just a bit of snoring because I fell asleep in the middle of the massage. The rest of the day was a bit of the same. Food, sunshine and paradise.
By the time we were on night 3 and after all the testing that I had done, I said to Amanda, “we need to cruise more often because other than one bad high after breakfast today, my blood sugars have been nearly perfect”
Who would have thought? On vacation, a honeymoon at that, breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and alcohol and my blood sugars would be better than when exercising, dieting and counting carbs. I will admit, I went through more insulin than I normally would, but who cares how much insulin I have to use if every time I test, I’m showing a number under 160.
Finally, we spent the day in Key West. We have been there several times, so we decided to not spend money on lunch there and just eat the lunch buffet one last time. BAM. Great blood sugar after that also.
On the last night, I ran into our room attendant, who I swear was in the hallway to greet me every time I opened the door, it was kinda scary, but well appreciated. I keep my diabetes stuff hidden in the room because they tend to make a big deal about it on a cruise ship. I have my own sharps container, so that’s why I didn’t alert them about it. However, I left a syringe out when we left the boat to go to Key West and he saw it when he came to the clean the room. He didn’t ask what it was for, but just asked if I needed a container to put it in for safety reasons and I let him know that I had my own container and we were all good.
That was the last of that.
As I was walking off the boat on the last day, not only sad that the trip was over, but I thought to myself, that my diabetes didn’t effect me in one single way this trip. I didn’t really have any lows, only 1 bad high after those amazing pancakes and french toast, and it’s just another reason why I am lucky to have the technology and equipment we have today to manage our diabetes.
Honeymoon is over and life is just beginning!
Since switching back to taking shots from a syringe, I was using Levemir that was being provided by my endo since I couldn’t get the insulin through insurance. I went a few days without any basal insulin and was tracking my blood sugar a lot closer than normal. What did I find? My control was a lot better than it was on the pump and with using basal insulin. How can this be? This goes against everything that I’ve learned about diabetes in my almost 10 years of living with it. Basal rates with the pump and basal insulin when on MDI.
I decided to continue down that path for a while. It’s now been about 3 weeks since I have gone without any Levemir or Lantus and usingly Humalog only. I have had more lows during this time because I take a few extra units at meal time to cover for the “basal”, but these lows are tending to occur right around the next meal time. How perfect is that? You’re blood sugar gets a little low right before you eat your next meal. I tried to do that while I was on the pump all the time and I just couldn’t get it to work.
There’s always a lot of talk about YDMV, Your Diabetes May Vary, and this is definitely a way that my diabetes has varied. In fact, I do not recommend trying this at home, or work, or anywhere, especially without talking to your doctor about it. My doctor is not thrilled about this decision I made, but she has said, “if your numbers are in range, then it’s a good, working plan”.
I have some travel plans coming up soon, my honeymoon, and I’m curious to see how this plan is going to work in vacation mode. Vacation mode means, over-eating at every meal, and adding a few extra meals during the day, no exercise, alcohol and fun.
If this is a way for me to better control my blood sugar, then I’m in!
A few months ago I was sent some new pen needles from BD to use and review. As you can tell, I’m a little backed up on all my product and books reviews. This around the same time that I switched back to insulin pens and went off the pump (which I’m still off). When I was first diagnosed, I was using pens and I just used the pen needles that my doctor wrote a prescription for. I didn’t really have any preference. When I went back on the pens a few months ago, I still didn’t have a preference. I had a box of pen needles that were a sample from a while back that I had for pump emergencies that I was using at the beginning of this latest time on the pens.
Then, I was sent the BD Ultra-Fine Nano (4mm x 32G) pen needles, so I decided to give them a shot and write a review on them.
When I first saw the needles, I thought, wow these are pretty short and I don’t know if they are going to work for me. Since I’ve been diagnosed, I have put on a lot of weight, and I have a lot of body fat. So typically, I need longer needles or infusion sets so I can fully absorb the insulin. Surprisingly, that was not the case with these needles.
I used these pen needles in my stomach, leg and arm, so I tried them out in all 3 areas that I usually take my shots. All three areas absorbed the insulin perfectly fine.
I know we have all heard before from other companies about things being painless or whatever words they want to use, but I must say, this was as close to that as possible. BD did not make any claims of painless, that is strictly just my opinion and words not theirs! I really did not feel the pen needle go in or come out.
All in all, I really liked the pen needle. I have since switched to insulin vials and syringes, old school, and am no longer using the pens, so I have stopped using the pen needles. However, if I had to go back to the pens, I would continue using the BD pen needles.
**Disclosure – I was provided the pen needle samples for free and was asked to write a review on them. I was not compensated in any form by BD. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are mine and were not influenced in any way by BD.
Yesterday I posted about the excitement that I had about ordering and receiving my first 90 day supply order since having insurance for the first time in 15 months. However, I also had to add an update because after coming home and opening the box, there was 3 vials of Humulin in this box.
I started thinking about why their would be Humulin N in this box and not Humalog, so right away I called the insurance company. They told me that the RX they had on file that the doctor faxed over was for Humulin N, 10 units a day, which meant 3 vials for a 90 day supply. What is this? I’ve never used Humulin N in my life. In fact, I didn’t even know what Humulin N is!
So I asked OptumRX what the process was to return this insulin and to get my $25 back for this 90 day supply because I will never use this insulin and it’s just going to go to waste. Well, since they shipped the insulin that the doctor faxed over, they cannot refund the money and they cannot accept the insulin back as a return. I mentioned that it was a doctor mistake and I’m not even using Humulin so it’s not an actual doctor’s order because I don’t use this stuff, never have.
Their answer, “Sorry, sir, we apologize for the inconvenience, but we cannot refund the $25 or accept the insulin back as a return”
One day back with an insurance company and already the hoops, loops, obstacles, and BS has started. I also mentioned yesterday that I will never complain about insurance or pharmacies again because I have lived without having them, so I am completely grateful for this and the $25 loss is well worth it, as long as the correct insulin is ordered and shipped.
I called the doctors office this morning and explained the situation. The doctor’s assistant is the one who faxed over the RX and there was a bit of confusion….so, let me explain.
During my last visit, we discussed ways to try and cut out these highs in the morning. Here’s an example of one, I woke up this morning at 124 @6:30 a.m. I fell back asleep until 9:30 and my blood sugar was 325. That’s it, no food, no coffee, nothing, just simply waking up increases my blood sugars crazy high. So, my doctor recommended taking 10 units of Humulin N at night before bed to try and stop those lows.
There was the confusion, I guess.
Doctor’s assistant saw the visit notes and saw Humulin and did not see anything about Humalog, because I was on Apidra, but it’s too expensive right now and went with Humalog. Even though I told the receptionist Humalog, and I know she didn’t get it wrong because she’s probably the best doctor’s receptionist I’ve ever had before.
Bottom line is that the issue is fixed….I hope. My credit card was charged another $25, so I’m assuming I should be getting an email later tonight about the order shipping and hopefully will get it tomorrow. If not, it’s back to the doctor for a sample vial of insulin to get me through the weekend.
It’s been approximately 15 months since the last time that I was able to go to my mailbox and pick up a 90 day supply of insulin from the insurance company, and damn it feels good. It felt great yesterday to call the insurance company and set up my mail order account with OptumRX, which this is my first time dealing with them, I’ve previously dealt with Medco with United Healthcare.
The customer service rep answered all the questions that I had about my new insurance and the costs and it was a very simple process to set up my account and get my first order submitted. Called the doctor and had them fax a prescription which I figured would take several days for it to be input into the computer and then another day for the order to process. That was not the case. I called my doctor around 10 a.m. and I received an email last night around 7 p.m. that my order was processed and had a tracking number. That tracking number showed that the package was already picked up and headed my way to south Florida.
The insulin pricing was a bit different then previous insurances that I used in the past. And insulin in a vial vs insulin pens were different as well. For example, the Humalog insulin vials were a tier 1, but the Humalog insulin pens were a tier 2. The Novolog vials were tier 2 and so were the insulin pens, but the insulin pen refills were tier 3. Apidra of course was a tier 3.
Just for my own curiosity, is Apidra NOT a tier 3 for any of your insurances?
Going from what I was paying out of pocket for insulin, which could have been a lot more if it wasn’t for some of the awesome people in the DOC, to only having to pay $25 for a 90 day supply, I cannot find words for the way it feels.
Next up is test strips. All of the supplies are covered under my medical and not pharmacy, so that’s a whole other story. The new year for insurance starts in November, so why waste money on a deductible now, when it will just need to be re-paid again in a month and a half. But that also means I have to stretch out the life of the current strips that I have.
No matter what, I will never complain about an insurance issue, the costs of supplies or a deductible or anything! I hope that I can eventually help others as much as people helped me get through this tough time.
***Update*** I wrote this post before I opened up the package. I received the package and went to Starbucks to write this post. Upon opening the box when I got home, the package contained 3 vials of Humulin N. I use 5 vials of Humalog a month, and have never used Humulin, so this is a big mistake. Then I remembered that during my last appointment two weeks ago, I spoke with my doctor about possibly using 10 units a night of Humulin to help with the morning highs and that’s where the confusion may have came in. So, although the pharmacy did not make a mistake and I have been billed for the $25 for the insulin that I will never use, I can’t really complain about them.