30 Days With Diabetes: Alarms, Alerts and Beeps

I’m constantly being alerted by my diabetes devices. It’s amazing I haven’t been conditioned to tune them out. Sometimes, the beeps annoy the hell out of me, and I yell at these devices with little to no effect.

So, what’s with all the beeps? And why do I keep certain alerts on, even to the detriment of office cube mates and dinner companions? Some of these alerts literally save my life. Others just keep me in check. Each alert is different, and over time, I’ve learned exactly what each type of beep or alarm means. But that’s hard to explain in words so instead, I’ll just give a quick summation of what I may be alerted to when you hear an odd sound emitting from my bag. Continue reading


If the World Ended

If the world ended, and I somehow managed to be one of the few survivors in the new post-apocalyptic world, this is all I would need to manage my diabetes.

When I was diagnosed with T1D I depended on these bad boys to survive.

The world hasn’t ended. And yet this past month, I learned firsthand what life would be like without all of the technology that helps me manage this disease.

Back to Finger Pricks

First, my prescription for the wireless transmitter component of my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) expired. My health insurance company requires a letter of medical necessity, certified from my endocrinologist, every year (you know, because I may be miraculously cured in that time span). For some reason, medical supply companies and doctor offices still communicate by fax (archaic!). Fast forward three weeks from when I put in the order for a new transmitter (I documented the whole saga on social media, by the way), and my transmitter dies. Continue reading

Seven Years With T1D

Today is my seven-year anniversary with Type 1 diabetes. I’m not sure what to say. It’s definitely been a learning experience, and I’m thankful I live in an age of technology where it’s easier to manage this disease but let’s be honest that doesn’t make it easy.

And maybe my diabetes (because I just love to give it its own persona) knew my anniversary was coming up and wanted to send me a big fat reminder of its existence by pushing the limits of my insulin sensitivity and resistance. A lot of highs and lows this past week.

Last night was no exception. Got home from a date with a friend, and my blood sugar was 77 with 0.9 units of active insulin in my system. So I drank some juice and ate some protein to keep it stable throughout the night. But then by the time I went to bed it was 167 and climbing so I gave myself a dose of insulin. And then my CGM woke me up at 4 a.m. because it was 48 and dropping. So I drank some juice. Then I ate some gelato. And then I just said f*ck it and poured myself some granola cereal and almond milk.

But by 4:30 a.m. it was 118 and climbing again. So I calculated how many of those carbs I really needed to keep my blood sugar stable and then gave myself an extended bolus rate over the next hour. By the time I checked it again at 11 a.m. it was 106 and stable.

Happy anniversary to me!

Oh and just for fun here’s a list of the most-read diabetes-related posts on this blog. Continue reading

Needles, Reservoirs, Cannulas, and More

The other day I was replacing my insulin pump reservoir. This requires a series of steps that I will reiterate for those who have never had to replace their insulin pump supply (as a side note, manufacturers, physicians, and researchers alike recommend switching this supply every three days although I sometimes stretch mine to four).

Replacing my Insulin Pump Reservoir

The first thing one needs is an alcohol swab, reservoir, infusion set, a blue cylinder-shaped device to inject the infusion set underneath the skin, and of course the insulin and pump. So after wiping the spot on my stomach with alcohol and then the top of the insulin vial, I use the reservoir to fill the plastic insulin container with insulin from the vial (it’s important to make sure you remove all air bubbles from the plastic container). And then of course my cat knocks the vial from my desk (it’s small enough this is harmless).

I then twist the reservoir into the end of the infusion set. I rewind the insulin pump so that it knows there is zero insulin inside and can essentially start to recount my usage (I tell it I use 100 units per new supply). I place the new reservoir into the insulin pump and then fill the 23-inch thin plastic tubing of the infusion set so that I know insulin will safely travel through the cannula from the pump to underneath my skin (this usually requires 6-9 units of insulin per fill). Continue reading

Basal and Bolus

Basal and Bolus are my lifeline, but they’ve recently hit puberty, and their hormones and emotions are all over the place. This does not make life easier for me, and no matter what I do, they don’t listen. I guess I should respect their independence, but sometimes I miss the obedient rates that never questioned me.

I try to be the healthiest person I can be, but there are days when the diabetes takes over. It’s not necessarily a result of anything wrong I’ve done in managing it, but whether it’s stress or hormones, sometimes my blood sugar levels have a mind of their own.

In a State of Flux

Blacktip Reef with wavy blue lineYesterday was one of those days. Since I went off birth control six months ago, I’ve struggled to balance my basal and bolus rates (basal is the long-lasting insulin I take continuously throughout the day; bolus is the fast-acting insulin I take before meals). My insulin sensitivity is constantly fluctuating. Continue reading

Happy Anniversary Sugarcoated!

According to my LinkedIn account, this month marks the one-year anniversary of this blog. I’m impressed I kept it going one month, much less a year. But here we are, more than a year since my short book of essays, Sugarcoated, was published, since I graduated with an MFA in writing and publishing, and now a year sharing my trials and tribulations online with you.

It seems fitting to focus on the numbers. I leave their meaning up to you.

of three million Type 1 diabetics (T1D) in the U.S.

times per week that I plan to spend writing for this blog

seizures as a result of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar

times per week I think my body may be curing itself, and I no longer have to live with T1D

17 times I change my continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system site per year (this does not count the number of times I re-tape the transmitter so the wire stays beneath my skin)

20 units of insulin I use every day Continue reading

Diabetes Breakdown

Not every day is easy with diabetes. Not that it should be. My pancreas doesn’t work so technically I can’t properly digest food so technically, five years after my diagnosis, I shouldn’t be alive.

I should be thankful for technology, thankful that even though these medical supplies cost me a ridiculous copay, they keep me alive – they help me maintain an overall good quality of life.

I should be thankful, but there are days when I come home from my two-hour commute from DC and I stand in my walk-in closet debating what outfit I should wear tomorrow and then I lose it. I just sink to the dilapidated hardwood floor and start sobbing.

Okay maybe there’s more to it than that? Maybe it’s been a rough day? Maybe I’ve been having highs all day for no apparent reason other than my hormones started going crazy? Or maybe I’ve spent half the day going back and forth from the insurance company to the pharmacy to the doctor’s office trying to get my 90-day supply of test strips covered? Continue reading

Say Hello To Cosmo, My New CGM

The vibrating wakes me up for the third time this night. It’s 3 a.m., and my new continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM) says my blood sugar reads 55. I know it’s a lie. I recently checked my blood sugar, and it was stable at 93. I have no active insulin in my system, but I just started this CGM, which I have decided to call “Cosmo,” and the nurse said it may take a few days to reflect my actual blood sugar. It’s a shame, but in the few weeks that I’ve had Cosmo, I still won’t give it up.

In the almost five years that I’ve had Type 1 diabetes, I’ve thought about investing in a CGM, which uses a sensor to monitor my blood sugar 24/7, but there can be a 20-minute delay since it’s reading my glucose levels from the interstitial fluid (a thin layer of fluid that surrounds the body’s cells), as opposed to a glucometer that reads it from a blood sample. I’ve always erred on the hypoglycemic side – two seizures in my short history as a result.

But in addition to the added expense of a CGM (my health insurance history has not been very consistent), I didn’t know if I wanted a 24/7 reminder of my diabetes. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know how much two pieces of bread or pasta or ice cream affected my blood sugar in the three hours I didn’t check it with my glucometer. Even though by the time that three-hour period had passed, my blood sugar returned to a normal state of 80-120, it didn’t mean that in that time, it hadn’t spiked to 300 and come back down. Did I really want to know that? Continue reading