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


Show Me Your Pump

I’ve been a Type 1 diabetic for five years and an insulin pump wearer for two, but I still struggle with putting “Gizmo” out there. Recently, Sierra Sandison’s #showmeyourpump campaign has been trending on Twitter and among diabetes communities. I have to admit I am in awe. For one, I don’t usually wear my insulin pump with my bathing suit because it’s not waterproof, and two, I don’t want the stares and questions.

But now that I have Cosmo, my continuous glucose monitoring system, I’ve had to reconsider. This is something I can’t unplug at a moment’s notice (although as often as the tape stops adhering to my skin, I almost want to). Yesterday, I decided to “be brave,” so to speak, and wear my insulin pump on the outside of my pencil skirt. Not only did it make for easier access, but it reminded my coworkers and myself that yes, diabetes is a part of me, but it doesn’t control me.

In the end, no one commented on it. Maybe they stared, but I didn’t notice. Or maybe they’ve just gotten used to me being a vibrating machine because between Gizmo and Cosmo and my phone, even my boyfriend never knows which medical device is calling me.

Gizmo aka My Insulin Pump Comes Back

It wasn’t a weekend of firsts. It wasn’t a weekend of lasts. But it was a weekend that changed my outlook on this whole “diabetes” situation.

I did more than survive a weekend without Gizmo, my insulin pump. I re-learned the challenges associated with counting carbs and calculating insulin dosages and how to listen to my body.

Sunday and Monday were good examples.

On Sunday night, my blood sugar felt high (159), but not high enough to warrant a correction dosage of one unit (the lowest increment my flex pen will allow). I had a vague recollection my syringes were divided into 0.5 increments. I only needed a 0.4 unit correction dosage.

I looked at the needle on the syringe – not much longer than my flex pen; I could do this. Now how do I get insulin from the vial to the syringe without breaking the needle? The last time I used a syringe was four and a half years ago, right after I was diagnosed.

Apparently, I needed to unscrew the bottom of the syringe to access the plastic extension that would allow me to fill the syringe. I couldn’t fill it to the 0.5 mark. How would I get out the air bubbles? I used the same method I use for the plastic vial I attach to my pump. I overfilled it and then used the extra space to rid of the bubbles.

Now I will just inject myself with the 0.5 increment and dump the rest back into the insulin vial, I thought. However, as soon as I inserted the needle into my skin, I realized how stupid this was, how easily I could accidentally inject myself with all 15 units of insulin. That means I would need to eat 300 grams of carbs to make up for it, which would totally defeat the purpose of this. Continue reading

My Weekend Without Gizmo: Day 2

8 a.m.

I contemplated getting up even earlier this morning to drive to work and pick up my pump supplies, but then I decided it would be more worth it to stick to my original plan and live a weekend with pens and needles.

Today would be a true test, too. It wasn’t like any other Saturday. I had volunteered to plant trees at Farring Baybrook Park with the National Aquarium and TreeBaltimore. The event was supposed to last five hours – that meant five hours in the cold, doing hard, physical labor.

I would need to make sure my blood sugar didn’t drop, but I also didn’t want it to remain high – I didn’t want to feel constantly thirsty and have to pee every 10 minutes. I checked my blood sugar. It read 83.

Wow, I was impressed it stayed stable overnight. I shouldn’t be. After all, I had taken Lantus (long-lasting insulin) injections nightly before the pump to keep my blood sugars stable over a 24-hour period.

I drank half of cup of “green” juice. I didn’t feel like eating. The event organizers promised granola bars, but they would be full of carbs and sugar. How would I take insulin? Wouldn’t I have to take too much insulin depending on the carb ratio? Maybe I would just wait to eat the hard boiled eggs (devoid of carbs and full of protein) I had packed when I felt hungry?

They encouraged us to bring lunch, but I was out of any “to-go” options so I brought a hodge podge of snacks: granola, crackers, hummus, and Gatorade. Continue reading

My Weekend Without An Insulin Pump

When did I become afraid of needles? As a diabetic, this seems like a silly question.

But this past weekend, I decided to put Gizmo (my insulin pump) on the shelf and attempt to live off insulin injections via needles. It wasn’t my initial plan, but after a mishap involving leaving vital pump supplies at work, I decided to test it out.

Gizmo’s been by my side for the past two years. What would a day be like without it?

Day 1

When I twist my needle onto a flex pen I still happen to own after two years that still happens to have effective insulin in it, I feel nervous. I wet the skin around my belly button with an alcohol swab and wait for it to dry. The needle seems longer than I remember. At least it is shorter than my other back-up method – the syringe.

I used to do this for two years before I had Gizmo. Was it really this hard? I’ve never been afraid of needles. In fact, I was the kid who wanted to look when the nurse injected me with my annual shots so I knew when the pain was coming.

I know I’m less likely to feel pain if I inject into the fat around my stomach rather than my muscled thighs, skinny arms, or butt. Yes, but doesn’t my butt have the most fat, you may ask? That’s not something you need to know, but really the reason I don’t attempt this area is because it’s too difficult. Continue reading