30 Days With Diabetes: This Is Your Life Now

Last night, I almost broke down in tears – the first of many signs that I’m stressed, maxed out and putting undue pressure on myself. It’s been a busy few weeks, to say the least.

A little more than nine years ago, I also felt broken. I was preparing to graduate college, move out on my own and start working full-time. And then I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

While lying in a hospital bed next to syringes and vials of saline solution (for practice), I remember telling my mom how much I had on my plate and that I didn’t have time for “this” – this being my newfound life partner, diabetes. In so many words, my mom replied: “Tracy, this is your life now. You can’t ignore it.”  Continue reading

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30 Days With Diabetes: Why I Talk About It

I didn’t use to talk about my diabetes. I figured folks didn’t want to hear about it. I also didn’t want it to become a part of my every day.

But when I started this blog, I realized it is a part of my every day. No, it’s not my only identity and as someone so recently reminded me: it is not the most interesting thing about me.

I am more than Type 1 diabetes. I have 22 years that confirm this. By talking about it, I help to educate others about its existence and effects, but the truth is I write and talk about it to feel less alone. Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: Diabulimia Research

I’m not a stress eater. In fact, when I’m stressed, I typically lose weight from “not eating.” Back in 2014, when I was commuting 5.5 hours per day to and from Baltimore and DC and nearing the end of a long-term relationship, I dropped down to 118 pounds (my lowest adult weight to date).

Fortunately now, the people closest to me know this about me and are great about checking me on this matter. So is diabetes. Before (and even after) I was diagnosed with Type 1, I struggled with a positive body image. I engaged in unhealthy behaviors, and although never diagnosed, I exhibited the signs of an eating disorder.

Even when diabetes came along, this was a hard habit to break. I ended up developing a binge eating disorder because I resented diabetes for not allowing me to indulge in certain foods anymore, and then I started omitting insulin so I wouldn’t gain weight from the binge eating. This is called “Diabulimia.” It’s something I’ve written about before on this blog.  Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: Ketone Test Strips

After posting about testing my blood sugar levels with test strips and a glucometer, someone reached out to me and asked if it was possible to measure ketones with the same meter and test strips.

With diabetes, it’s important to test ketones when you’re sick or have high blood sugar to ensure your body doesn’t go into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). When I was diagnosed, I was given urine strips to test for ketones and never thought to question that method. Until now. Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: DIY Pancreas

In the 9 years since I’ve had Type 1 diabetes (T1D), it’s been amazing to see what parents of children with T1D have done to improve management of blood sugar levels. Well, I learned today that parents are now hacking into diabetes management systems and creating their own form of the artificial pancreas (at a much cheaper cost than the official FDA-approved $7,000 device).

And all of this because of a security slip-up in 2011 – when many Medtronic insulin pumps were left open to hackers and apparently do-it-yourself (DIY) parents. Some companies have now hired or consulted with those DIYers to improve products and share ideas. It’s hard to believe that I could one day owe my life to someone who had the guts to hack into an automated system and tinker.

As one parent said of parents with T1D kids, “They know their kids the best, and sometimes technology or medicine is slower and doesn’t know what we need as much as we do.”

Patient advocacy at its best.  Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: I Gotta Eat

Today was a busy day. And when 4 p.m. rolled around, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since noon. Not only was I hungry but my blood sugar was dropping (even though I decrease my basal insulin rate in preparation for my commute). I usually snack on something like an apple, banana or almonds before I leave work to ensure my blood sugar stays stable during my commute home.

But since the metro currently sucks, and I know it will take me more than an hour to get home via bus if I don’t leave by 4:15 p.m., I left work without that snack. I had glucose tablets with me just in case. I turned off my insulin for the next hour. But by the time I made it through stop and start traffic (because in addition to my metro line being down, they decided to do work on one of the busiest center streets in the city causing all kinds of traffic jams), I was feeling light-headed and hangry. Continue reading