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

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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

30 Days With Diabetes: Fathers

It was hard to say goodbye to my dad today. He flew in from Kentucky on Friday to visit me for the weekend – his first solo visit. He hasn’t been to DC since his last visit in 2016. Our relationship has really changed over the years. We’ve become close, and one thing I do regret about moving away from Kentucky is being so far from family.

I wasn’t close to family when I was in Kentucky. It’s funny what distance does – what perspective it provides. I also didn’t have diabetes when I was in Kentucky. They knew a different Tracy, and on some level, are figuring out what Tracy with Type 1 means. Maybe I am too, for that matter?

Today at brunch, my dad asked me about what prompted them to admit me to the hospital when I was diagnosed. He asked about my blood sugar levels. It’s not that he doesn’t know. He’s just never had to deal with it on a daily basis. I only see my family once or twice a year (sometimes three, if I’m lucky). I once wrote about Christmas in Cookietown – how when I visit home, it can be fun to “play pretend,” forget that I have this disease that affects every fucking moment of every day.  Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: Tourists

It’s draining enough for me to be around people all day, especially crowds of tourists. In addition to energy depleting, it’s also a strain on my blood sugar.

The stress and anxiety of the crowds can contribute to an increased blood sugar (above 120). The constant walking and limited food/water supply can lead to lower blood sugar levels (below 90).

It’s very tricky to navigate this “abnormal” routine. Considering the amount of walking and energy depletion, I usually play to the “high” side and adjust my insulin settings so I’m not getting as much insulin during this time frame to ensure my blood sugar doesn’t drop. I also don’t take as much insulin for food.

So, when my dad asks if I need to eat while touring the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian, I say yes, not because my blood sugar is dropping (it’s actually been stable at 170 thanks to my proactive management style), but because I legitimately need the energy.

It’s nice to feel normal every once in awhile.

This post is part of my 30 Days With Diabetes series