Life Had Me in a Rut

For the last three months, I have been in a bit of a funk when it comes to advocacy, being active within the DOC and basically everything to do with diabetes. There are multiple reasons for this and they are primarily all family focused.

Several months ago my wife and I decided that we were going to sell our home so we can travel between Pennsylvania and Florida a lot easier. This meant that we had to completely clean the house, pack and organize everything into our garage. We then had to get all the yard work done, plant flowers, lay mulch, pressure wash and all the other fun things that go into prepping a home for sale.

Once the house was sold, we had to move. After we moved, we decided that we were going to come up to PA for 2 months (which is currently where I am). While up in PA, I have basically just done as much stuff with family and friends as possible and that has left me with little time for work and all that goes with my diabetes activities.

Not only have I had zero time to do much else than hang out with friends and family, I’ve been having a bit of a battle with my own diabetes. Because of an insurance snafu a few months, I’ve had to switch to Novolin R insulin because I have no insulin coverage and have to pay 95% of the retail costs.

My diabetes has been very difficult to manage with using this insulin. The two hardest parts are having to take it at least 30 minutes before I eat and trying to correct a high.

I am not much of a planner when it comes to eating. Especially when on vacation. My wife and I just go along with the day and then eventually decide we’re going to eat and that could be within the next 5 minutes. Because of that, my blood sugar sky rockets. Then, when I use Novolin R to correct, it takes hours to come down.

With all of this added together, I have been in a rut. But, the only way to get out of the rut is to keep going and push through it. So that is what I am going to do.

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diabetes-farmers-market

Diabetes at the Farmer’s Market

Amanda and I have always been fans of local farmer’s markets. For me, I love the fresh food and small businesses that are out there hustling. I am a huge fan of homemade items that are usually sold at farmer’s markets, such as pickles, jellies, pepper jellies, baked goods, fresh veggies, etc.

Our local farmer’s market is located right next to the intracoastal waterway so it is a beautiful site as well. We had not been there in a while, so we decided to check it out and see if there were any new vendors. There were some new ones there and I knew it was going to be time for a BG check and some insulin because I saw some great free samples.

That leads me into what I wanted to talk about. During this time, I was taking an insulin pump vacation for the weekend and was just using a syringe and vial. Walking around eating free samples and not knowing exactly what I am going to be eating never worked out well for me when I was on MDI. When I am pumping, it is not a big deal because every time I decide to eat something, I just bolus for it with the pump and that’s that.

When I am on MDI, my strategy is a bit different. And in the comments below, or on Facebook, I would love to hear your feedback and your comments on how you handle situations like this.

In a situation like this where I am eating random items that are free samples, they typically are not large enough that I need to worry about a bolus. If I eat 3-4 free samples from different vendors and I feel like it was a significant amount of carbs, then I will simply stop and take a shot. If I know that I am going to eat something that is not a free sample, but an actual item (New England Clam Chowda at this farmer’s market is amazing!) then I will bolus directly for that.

The other issue is that depending on what you are eating (sweet pickles, pepper jelly) it is difficult to guestimate how many carbs are in a specific food. I honestly do not get mad if the vendor does not have that information. I just ask what they put in it and I do my best to guestimate. If I am wrong, then I correct, simple as that.

Usually after the amount of walking that we do at the farmer’s markets we go to (at least 2 miles altogether) the exercise helps burn off some of the food that I ate and helps balance out the blood sugar. Please note, I am not saying exercise is going to lower my blood sugar and I don’t need insulin, so diabetes trolls, stop right there.

Like I said above, I’m curious as to how MDI-ers handle situations like this? Would love to hear your feedback.

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packing-supplies

Process of Packing Supplies for a Day Out

The process of packing up and heading out for the day has definitely changed not only after my diagnosis in 2004, but even more now with a 1-year old (actually, just a few days shy of one). I have come to perfect the “leaving for the day” thing, except sometimes, I forget my diabetes bag.

Several years ago, while at a K-Mart in Pennsylvania, my wife found a Philadelphia Eagles pencil case and she bought it and then said to me, “I figured you could use this for your supplies in my purse.” I still use that case every single day of my life.

I found that there wasn’t a single glucose meter case from any of the companies that fit exactly what I needed. Here is what I keep in that bag:

  • Syringe
  • Vial of insulin
  • Vial of test strips
  • Meter
  • Lancing device
  • Reservoir for pump
  • Extra tubing for pump
  • Infusion Set
  • Infusion set injector
  • Lots and lots and lots of used test strips (literally 100 at a time)

This bag is usually kept in my wife’s purse, or now, the diaper bag.

I try to always have this bag stocked with items because when we have to leave for the day, we are both concerned about making sure we have enough diapers, wipes, food for the kid, extra outfit, etc. You know, all the crap a kid needs throughout the day.

There have been many times that I have forgotten the “Eagles Bag” at home and had to come back home to get it, or just hope that my current infusion set didn’t rip out or leak. So, my wife and I have devised a plan to make sure that never happens.

eagles bagFirst, we give each other a 15 minute warning for when we are going to be ready to leave. Typically, whoever is the one that is getting showered, dressed, etc last will give that warning.

Next, my wife gets started preparing the diaper bag for the long day, or short trip, whichever. If my wife is the one getting ready, then I will get the diaper bag ready….. meaning, I ask her one by one what needs to go in it.

Once the diaper bag is ready, I then go and grab my Eagles Bag and ensure that it has everything in it that I need. I then put it in the diaper bag. ┬áThe diaper bag is then put on the couch near the door so that when I am leaving and setting the alarm, I don’t forget the diaper bag.

I’ve forgotten the diaper bag in the past. I was told by my wife that I forgot the diaper bag. I have never again forgot the diaper bag.

After 12 years with diabetes (April 3 will be 12) and one year with a kid, we have finally gotten this traveling out for the day thing down…. so far.

I don’t think that people truly understand everything that goes into the daily life of someone living with diabetes. Things just as simple as getting in the car to drive to Target or visit family requires planning and prepping and making sure that you don’t forget crucial, life saving supplies.

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Driving with a Baby, Wife, Dog and Diabetes to PA and Back

Back in August, Amanda and I.. and Lucy (I have to remember to keep adding her) decided to drive up to Pennsylvania for a little summer visit to my family and friends up there. We made this drive last year and it wasn’t that bad. Oh yea, our Cavalier King Charles comes along for the right too. Packing for this trip is usually a breeze for me when it comes to clothes, but the diabetes part is what is stressful. Making sure that I have everything that I need and getting it stored in a nice box that I can have for the month vacation is important for me.

The drive up was not bad at all. I was wearing my MiniMed 530G with Enlite sensor during the drive up. Last year, I didn’t wear my sensor and there was a lot more testing than this year, but if you have ever made a road trip like that (1,200 miles) then you know there is a lot of snacking and eating going on. Wearing the CGM helped give me an idea of where my BG was at when I decided to have a snack. (by snack, that usually meant Chic-Fil-A)

While we were up there, I didn’t have to re-oder insulin or anything like I had to last year. Last year, my insulin was shipped to Florida instead of PA and that wasn’t a fun experience.

After spending an entire month up in PA (and trading in the car we drove up in and bought a new one from a friend’s dealership) it was time to drive home. I decided not to wear my CGM on the ride back, pure laziness, so there was a lot more testing. My blood sugars ran a little higher during the drive back, but that was primarily due to the fact that I wasn’t wearing my CGM.

My legs during the drive would cramp up a lot, so I made sure to move them around whenever I could and walk for a little bit at every stop because I know the importance of getting that blood flowing.

I didn’t post while I was away primarily for the safety reasons of being away from home for a month, so that’s why you haven’t heard much from me. Since I got back, I have been swamped with catching up on work, but things are better now. New month, new start, let’s go.

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deep-sea-diabetes

Deep Sea Diabetes

Last month my parents were down here for a little vacation to visit their grand daughter. During this trip, my dad really wanted to get out on the ocean and do some deep sea fishing. We decided we were going to take out a large charter boat, even though we knew we weren’t likely to catch much because of the amount of people that were going to be on the boat.

The night before I got everything together that I knew I was going to take with me because we had to get up pretty early. I packed the cooler with:

  • Water
  • Gatorade
  • Regular Soda
  • Skittles
  • Sunscreen
  • Syringe, insulin, meter (packed in ziplock and kept on the outer pocket of the cooler)

In the morning I ate a bagel because I wanted a food that I knew would keep my BG levels above 160. This is one of the few times that I don’t mind my BG going over 160-180 and not doing anything to correct it. I knew that the heat and the activity level of reeling in fishing line would lower my BG levels naturally, so I didn’t want any extra help with the insulin.

Once on the boat, I actually decided to detach myself from the pump for a little while because it was very crowded and lines were being crossed so people were walking in and out and in front of and behind of everyone and I didn’t want to take the chance of the tubing getting snagged (no fishing pun intended, well kinda), on anyone.

Unfortunately, I was right about catching fish. My dad and I both hooked two fish, but it was at the same time we were surrounded by sharks and they were having a feeding frenzy on everyone who was hooking fishing. The good news about the trip is that I didn’t have any extreme lows. We moved to a different fishing spot 2 times, so during those 10-15 minute breaks I drank some water and snacked on a few Skittles.

This was only the 3rd time in the 11 years I’ve been diagnosed that I’ve been out in the ocean and all 3 times I’ve had successful trips.

Here’s to the next one being just as fun.

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Are You Ready for Some Football

Did reading that title just give you the chills? Because I know it did to me. The beginning of football, even pre-season games is better than any Christmas morning feeling I ever had as a kid. I grew up playing the sport, I’ve studied the game, I’ve crafted the game and now I watch the game as much as I possibly can. And yes, I am a huge fantasy football player.

Which leads me to today’s post. Last year, I got started in one day / week fantasy sports such as Fan Duel and Draft Kings. I started out just playing free leagues for fun and then eventually started playing for money. Every week a group of my friends still do weekly free leagues just for bragging rights for the week. So, I thought, why not do this with my online diabetes friends too. Why just bond over diabetes, why not bond and trash talk a little bit over football with some of the people I interact with online.

So, tonight is a pre-season league for Draft Kings (FanDuel doesn’t do pre-season), so I am creating a free 10 person league which means you do not need to deposit any money at all.

Sign up for Fan Duel and Draft Kings now and I will post links to the free contests every Sunday.

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Summarizing My Year in a Post

So the last year of my life has been a complete whirlwind. It’s been filled with a lot of positives, some negatives, and some things just in the middle somewhere. Within that past year I found out I was having a daughter, I’ve since had my daughter (6 weeks old already!), grew my business to a whole other level that I wasn’t expecting to hit this year, and many more exciting events.

My diabetes side of things is where my life took a hit. Health wise, my A1C’s have remained stable and at a level that I am comfortable with. Not my goal levels, but am comfortable with. I have gone on blood pressure medication after a week of feeling off and having symptoms of high blood pressure. I started off using Lisinopril, but I had a cough reaction to it and had to switch.

I also added a weekly Vitamin D pill to my life, along with a daily cholesterol pill (generic Lipitor). However, I was switched to a different medication because my triglycerides are so damn high because I eat unhealthy and don’t exercise at all.

I obviously have not written much over the last year. That includes here, dLife, Medtronic, and a few other places where I provide some content here and there for. I admittedly just could not find the time to do it. When I had free time, it seemed as though this diabetes stuff ended up lower on the to-do list than I thought that it would.

After the birth of my daughter, I found myself in a position that felt similar to when I was first diagnosed. I was new to something and I did not have the answers, so I began reaching out to my brother and family members who have kids looking for advice. And then it hit me, that’s how I got involved in the diabetes community in the first place and the reason that I continued to blog was because if I could just help one person who had an issue or a question with one of my posts, my job was done. And I realized that by not putting out any new posts, how am I helping anyone?

So, that’s when the light bulb went off and I said to myself, stop with the f*cking excuses and get back to doing the sh*t that you love to do.

So, here I am, back at it and for good this time.

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We Are Expecting

Within the past week I turned 30 years old and also found out the gender of our baby. We have waited until today to announce to the social world that we are pregnant and what we are having. So, without any more hesitation, Amanda and I are expecting our first child, a little baby girl in March 2015.

baby-announcement

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4 Things I Have Overcame Since My Diabetes Diagnosis

As you all know, there is a lot of stuff we have to live and deal with on a daily basis living with diabetes. Before I was diagnosed with diabetes I had fears that I had not been able to overcome at that point. After diagnosis, I began to deal with a lot more fears. After taking an injection from a syringe the other day, I realized, damn I have overcame a lot and began thinking about some of the biggest fears or challenges that I have overcame since being diagnosed with diabetes.

Needles

Seriously, who isn’t afraid needles? Before diabetes, I couldn’t stand to take a shot. I actually remember when I was 18 and had to get some shots before heading off to play football in college, I almost cried at the doctors office. I just couldn’t take the pain of some other person stabbing me with a sharp object and injecting me with who knows what.

Well, obviously I have gotten over that little fear. And it really didn’t take me too long either. After the first or second injection I realized that I didn’t really have a choice. Either learn to give yourself a shot and deal with it, or you’re not going to live. That was a pretty easy decision.

Owning a Business

For a long time I was always told that it is difficult for someone with diabetes to own their own business because of the health insurance issue. Sure, if you have enough employees you can get company insurance or just live off of your wife’s health insurance plan. Well, at the time that I decided to start my business, I was not married, so that wasn’t a choice. Also, I knew my business would start out as a freelance style business before I was able to grow it to include employees (if I ever wanted to have full time employees).

So, the fear of going out on my own and not knowing if I would have enough money to pay for my medical expenses was growing in my head. But what would I rather do? Go to work everyday miserable just so I had a paycheck every two weeks and health insurance or take the chance and go work for myself and do what I always wanted to know and have the risk of not being able to afford insurance?

It caused many sleepless nights, but I chose the second option. I then spent a lot of time second guessing myself because unfortunately, I lost my COBRA health insurance just a few months after leaving the company I was working for and was living without insurance and paying cash for everything (and receiving a lot of help from the DOC). But, I overcame that fear and am still living that dream of owning and running my own company.

Getting Blood Drawn

Ok, so this one I am not 100% over yet, but I am able to do it as needed. I still cannot look in the direction of the arm where the blood is being drawn from, but I have no hesitation in getting the blood drawn. When I was first diagnosed my grandmother worked in the hospital and she drew blood for over 30 years, so when I needed bloodwork done, she was the only one that I would let do it. 1 year after diagnosis she actually retired and came in and drew my blood when I had to get it done.

When I moved to south Florida to finish school, I would only get bloodwork done up in PA when I would visit by my grandfather. Unfortunately, I live full time in south Florida now and have to get my bloodwork done down here by random people at Lab Corp.

So, technically, I have overcame half of the fear, but I’m not sure that I will ever overcome the other fear.

Getting Personal

Growing up, I was never really a shy person, but I did not just vent my life stories to anybody, not even really my closest friends. I was never great at sharing personal things that may have upset me or made me mad, but I was very outgoing. As you can obviously tell by this blog, I have overcame that fear of letting other people get to know me and letting out some of my fears and sad moments of my life.

I still have some more work to do when it comes to face to face communication with people, but I am getting better. Diabetes has allowed me the opportunity to connect with a lot more people from the DOC than if I wasn’t ever diagnosed. Sharing my life’s journey is part of my life now and communicating with people I’ve never met has become a reality.

What specific fears have you overcome since being diagnosed with diabetes?

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