About Me

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I'm a glass-half-full type of girl. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, grave's disease and celiac disease in 2010 and life-altering allergies in 2013. I believe having a positive attitude is the only way to live with dis-ease. I also believe that life doesn't have to be PERFECT for it to be WONDERFUL. Dis-ease is expensive, so I live a frugal yet healthy lifestyle. This is just my blog; my day-to-day story.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Who I Am.

Who I am.

dog lover
animal lover
church volunteer
JDRF walker
Animal Humane Society volunteer
loyal friend
good cook
blog reader
cook book addict
Bible reader
book lover
magazine junkie
walker/jogger/soon-to-be runner
celiac/gluten free eater

care taker for my critically ill Welsh Corgi, Bella (please see #1 and #2 on the list)
dedicated employee
in-progress hiker/camper
lover of all things leopard print
ID-Investigation Discovery Channel watcher
sugar addict
hard worker
nail polish hoarder

type A planner
natural blonde
skin care junkie
super cleaner
health food lover
sunshine lover

I am a person with t1 diabetes, but I am so much more than that!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Omnipod should partner with Kindle to get a screen I can see in the sunlight.

Omnipod, you and I need to have a serious talk about your screen. I think you need to get together with Kindle technology. I mean seriously, what's wrong with your screen???? Why is it hard, no, not hard... IMPOSSIBLE to read your screen when it's sunny out????

Omnipod, this was me checking my blood sugar and trying to bolus today at the gas station. Do you see a problem here??

Your screen looks...blank. But it's not. If I block the light from outside, I am sometimes able to see the screen. But not without a lot of effort, and certainly not effort I would want to take driving (thus, why I was testing while pumping gas).

It's just one of those small things that could make our d-life a little easier.

Tonight I had one of those inevitable accidents with the pod on my arm. I didn't give enough clearance when walking through a doorway and knocked my two-hour-old pod right off. Since it was newly put on only an hour or two earlier, when the adhesive is still nice and new and strong, it also took with it the top layer of skin. Oouuuch. I guess I never noticed that I walk that close to door frames. Diabetes helps you to notice interesting things about yourself.

Happy to report that the 'betes has been pretty good lately. The low blood sugar issue I was having seems to have resolved itself and my pancreas seems to have returned to its old non-functioning self. Diabetes: it will teach you to be grateful for weird things. Like that.

I've gotten back into juicing and smoothie-ing again lately. Tonight I made a smoothie with spinach, strawberries, a frozen banana (but a fresh one with also work), and a little water. I use frozen bananas often because I hate to waste food, so when my bananas get over ripe, I slice them and put them in baggies in the freezer for smoothie use. This is what it looked like before blending:

And here's what it looked like after blending

I know, not as appealing-looking afterwards but trust me when I say it's so delicious! It's drinkable (read: fast to reach your blood stream) carbs though, so I have to limit my serving size. Otherwise, I could just drink the whole thing down in one sitting. It definitely tastes more strawberry-ish than spinach-ish. And you can taste the banana, too. If you aren't a big banana fan, I'd add 1/2 a banana instead because it's pretty banana-y as well.

Usually when I juice, I make more vegetable juices and less fruit stuff because of the carbs. When you are drinking your carbs, it sure spikes your bg faster, so I have to bolus a good 15-20 minutes ahead of time before drinking it. I think I'm supposed to be doing that for all foods, but I usually don't. And often times with the juices I make I will even increase the bolus amount by a little.

But at least when you make your own you know how many carbs you actually used to make it, versus when you buy it from a smoothie place. And it doesn't cost you oodles of money, either, compared to buying it from a juice bar. Now that produce is coming down in price in the grocery stores, I can afford to juice and smoothie it up more frequently.

Warning tho, I wouldn't drink this at night time, because I think the spinach gives you energy or something. I feel like I am a little more energized than normal right now and think I will stick to drinking them in the morning when I need the energy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The pattern I like the most.

Patterns. It's something diabetics are taught to pay attention to. Your blood sugar patterns, your eating patterns, your insulin need patterns. Patterns become a subconscious part of life. Our favorite patterns are ones that are flat line; consistent. We diabetics like boring patterns; we don't like exciting patterns.

But I am a person before I am a diabetic, and a woman at that, and my favorite pattern has nothing to do with diabetes. My favorite pattern is leopard print.

I have leopard print earrings and coffee cup sleeves,

facial tissues for my purse,

a girlie wine glass with leopard print,

and then there's everything else, including note pads, bathrobe, wallet, mittens, sleep eye cover, a dog-paw wiper, and even duct tape.

It took me seeing my leopard print things today to remind myself that I am still a person first; and that not every thought needs to revolve around diabetes. I can still have likes and interests that are completely separate from diabetes. It was a nice reminder to myself that I don't have to use diabetes as a frame of reference for every thought, every question, every answer. I need that reminder sometimes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Diabetes Doomsday Prepper

As I was taking inventory of my diabetic supplies over the weekend, I realized I am a diabetic doomsday prepper. Or a hoarder. Take your pick. I added up my test strips and currently have approximately 850-900 strips. At my current testing rate of 9-10 times per day, this is about a 3 month supply.
This drawer is one of my diabetes drawers. It contains my Multiclix lancets, ketostix, glucagon kits, tape, different colored skins for my CGM and PDM (for Omnipod) because I like them to match my clothes, and every other diabetic supply you can think of.
This drawer is actually one of my bedside table drawers. I ran out of room in my other drawer. This one holds BD lancets 2-deep.
In the bedside table drawer right below the BD lancets, it is drawer. It carries all of my extra glucometers I've received in the two years I've had diabetes. I don't have test strips for most of them so they don't get used. I also store extra cords for my CGM here.
Finally, in my diabetes cube (the kind you can sit on), I discretely hide my Dexcom sensors and Omnipod equipment. I actually don't have extra supplies of those; I use up every single one by the time I'm eligible to reorder.
In the end, I counted 900 test strips (a 3-month supply for me), 3300 lancets, more Ketostix that I can imagine using before they expire. I might just have to start peeing on them every day just for fun. As you saw in my previous blog showing you my fridge, you saw my insulin supply in the bottom vegetable drawer. I've got a enough to last me a while. I stock up on items because I periodically go through financial phases where I can't afford to buy the equipment or supplies that I need, when I need them. So I like to have extras, "just in case." Also, you never know when an emergency is going to happen and you are going to need LOTS of supplies. Does anyone else stock up on any particular diabetes supplies? DO share if you do!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I want a T1 tattoo, but...

So I've been giving some thought lately about getting a T1 tattoo on the inside of my wrist. I met a girl at the Diabetes Expo last October who had a nice tattoo, and who allowed me to take a picture of it (shown here). I currently wear a sterling silver medical alert bracelet. It's gotten pretty scratched up in the 2 years I've worn it, and I have to keep polishing the tarnish off it. It's a wee bit annoying.

A tattoo would be a viable option, except for one teeny thing that I worry about. What if they find a cure for type 1 diabetes soon? I still hope and pray for it every night in my list of prayers. And I hear on the news lots of promising advancements in various stages of testing. What would I do then, with a T1 tattoo? Could I have have it re-designed into a whale or something?

I don't know, it's probably an unnecessary worry. And maybe I hang on to that worry because the day I give it up is the day I accept that I'm going to have diabetes forever. And really, the day I'm cured I'll probably be too busy being happy that I DON'T HAVE DIABETES ANYMORE to worry about the formerly-needed tattoo.

Has anyone else thought of getting a tattoo? If so, have you worried about this, too?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Corgi, a fridge, and a grocery haul.

It's because I'm interested when other diabetics and celiacs eat that I decided I would show you, in pictures, what I eat, too.

Here's the top of my fridge. (Under the foil are my stuffed peppers). And the green stuff is Appletini flavored Crystal Light. Salad stuff, ff greek yogurt, almond butter, mushrooms, hummus, salsa, eggs, light string cheese, more yogurt, eggs, lunch meat, Brummel & Brown yogurt butter. Oh, and crap loads of sf black cherry jell-o.

And the bottom. Lemons, avocados, gf tempeh, cukes, carrots, shredded low fat cheddar, and of course, massive amounts of Novolog insulin.

And the door. (I have a small condiment obsession).

The door, 2 seconds later, with Bella the Corgi nearby. She always seems to show up when the fridge opens. She gets that possessed look around food. I think she gets that from me.

And here's my latest grocery haul. This is from Target. I've got my gluten free blueberry whole grain waffles (that I eat without syrup), decaf Dunkin' Donuts, GF bread mix, extra-thin corn tortillas, low sodium tuna, reduced-sugar jelly, SF jell-o (that I actually bought FOUR of), avocados and cukes. In preparation for summer, I bought Hello Kitty Clean-n-clear oil sheets, Loreal Sublime Bronzer, Loreal Sublime SPF 50 for face, and two different cellulite creams, which I may-or-may-not need but that's NOYFB. Lol! Hey, at least I was honest and kept them in the pictures.

The healthy alternative to a casserole.

I've been a pretty lazy cook lately. For a few days in a row, I've been eating the same things out of sheer laziness: oatmeal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch with a yogurt, salad for dinner. Gets boring mighty quick. So I decided to break out of my slump and make something tasty.

Now, here in the midwest, we lerrrrrve our casseroles. It's what we make when we have leftovers and don't know what to do with them. There are lots of jokes about how much we here in Minnesot-ahhh love our casseroles. Casseroles tend to include whatever leftovers you have, covered in way too much cheese, tater tots, and cream-of-something soup. Too much fat for this girl.

I hate, capital-H-A-T-E throwing out food. What a waste of money and a waste of food. So what are you supposed to do with ingredients that you need to use up before they go bad? Well, I have found a good substitute for the casserole.

Stuffed peppers! These are my stuffed peppers right before going into the oven to bake. Nummm nummm. Do you know that just about anything tastes great stuffed in a pepper and baked? You can use whatever you have in the fridge. These were the ingredients that I needed to use up: ground turkey (that was going to spoil if I didn't use right away), about a cup of corn, an open jar of heart-smart, gluten free spaghetti sauce that was going to go bad soon, feta cheese, onions, canned mushrooms.

So here's what I did. I put a tablespoon of olive oil in a fry pan and heated it on medium. I choppped up the onions and threw them and the mushrooms into the pan and sauteed until the onions were soft. Then I added the ground turkey, around a 1/4 container of fat free feta cheese and the corn, and a little bit of black pepper and fried it until the turkey was just about all browned.

Then I took a baking dish and poured a little of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom. Oh yeah, preheat your oven to 375. Then I cut the green peppers in 1/2 (they were huge), seeded and cored them, and then stuffed each of them with the mix. I took the remainder of the spaghetti sauce and drizzled it across the top of each pepper. Then I sprinkled a little more feta on top. I baked them for 25 minutes. When they came out, I dusted each one with grated parmesan cheese (well, except for the first pepper. Which had a TON of parmesan on it from opening the wrong side of the shaker container).

The spaghetti sauce I used was low carb, which made this dish a nice lower-carb supper. I added no grains (like rice), which would add to the carb count. So I only had to count for the small amount of corn in each pepper and the sauce.

You can use whatever you have in your fridge. If you don't have any meat, use quinoa (higher protein than rice). Mix some veggies in and a little cheese. If you don't have fresh veggies (I didn't), use frozen or canned. It all works in a stuffed pepper. Season it up with some salt and pepper. Yum!

No dinner is complete without dessert.

Especially when it's GUILT FREE dessert!

I didn't want to blow my low-carb meal by eating a high-carb or high fat dessert, so I grabbed some sugar free jell-0 (the black cherry is the BEST and goes on sale often at SuperTarget) and some fat free, low carb whip cream.

What a healthy, satisfying meal that satisfied both my gluten-free and lower-carb needs!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Disease and Love. Warning: TMI included.

Love. It's a topic that I don't have much experience with. I didn't date when I was a teenager. I didn't go to prom. I didn't have a boyfriend until college. I've had my heart broken, and I've broken hearts. I've never been married. So I certainly don't have much advice to give on this topic.

What I can tell you is that this is a hard topic for me to write about, because it forces me to face my insecurities. Like the fact that I think I might be too flawed for anyone to love for the next 65 years. And wonder if a man could love a woman in her 30s who has 3 auto-immune diseases; two of which are guaranteed to impact his life daily. Would a man commit to never-again-in-his-life have a gluten-laden pizza at home? Or bread? Or anything breaded? Could he be happy knowing he could never grab fast food with his lady? Or drink a regular ol' beer with her? Or have a normal holiday meal? And the whammy to the gluten-free-for-the-rest-of-your-life lifestyle, is the life-altering, hourly-managed disease like type 1. Could I be someone that someone else could be proud of?

I am afraid that these traits (not sure if that's the best word) would scare someone away in the long run. Maybe in the short run it would be okay, but for life? Well, that's a long time. Sometimes I think that maybe if I only had one disease, maybe I'd be a more attractive package. Anyone that is going to love me - or anyone else with a chronic illness- for life, is going to have extra responsibilities on their plate. But for my situation, your going to need two plates.

And on top of that, I still have normal-person flaws. Like that I watch way too many crime tv shows, bite my nails, hate the History Channel, and have a dog that I talk to daily like she's human.

What I do know about love, is that I love loving someone else, I love being loved, and I love the idea of loving one person for life. I just wish I could have gotten married before getting sick, because I wonder now if I'm loveable.

And then on the other side of the coin, I know I'm a good catch. I'm loyal, passionate, kind-hearted, reliable, smart, happy, and a great cook. But will anyone be able to see those qualities before they see my flaws?

I do not normally sit around and stress about this situation. I'm really only stressed about it when I am writing a blog about it and throwing it out to the universe to read.

But I'm curious about whether others have input. Were you already married when you got diagnosed with your illness? If you were young when you were diagnosed, was it ever an issue when you were dating? Do you feel it limited you at all in the dating pool? Were you self conscious about it?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My pancreas has lost its mind and gone rogue.

Well, my final installment of my little blog series "Diabetes AND", which will be titled Diabetes and Love has been temporarily derailed due to some blood sugar issues I've been dealing with.

As you saw in an earlier post from this week, I've been experiencing some persistent lows on and off for the last several days. I decided to take my insulin pump off this week and was receiving no insulin (no slow-acting insulin or fast-acting insulin), but was still able to maintain normal blood sugars. Still had lots of lows, too. I wasn't bolusing after eating carbs, but still, my blood sugar kept going low. How on earth does that happen? I had no slow or fast-acting insulin for almost 18 hours, and even ate 2 pieces of cake with frosting back -to-back just to see what would happen, and had LOW blood sugar afterwards. And despite having no pump on over night for 2 nights straight, I woke up with a blood sugar of 112 and 114. What the what?????

Over the course of a few days, even though I was treating the lows, and mostly overtreating with 45-50 carbs each time, my blood sugar continued to go low. Let me tell you, that is scary stuff; lows that won't turn around. So here's what's happening.

As I mentioned, I had an appointment scheduled at the Mayo Clinic on Thursday, which was originally scheduled as just my 3-month diabetes checkup. But in light of the low blood sugars issue, it ended up turning into a 2 1/2 hour appt.

In short, my doctor says that my pancreas is now producing insulin. Am I cured, I asked. Nope. Is it the "honeymoon" phase? Nope, not that either. Unfortunately, my pancreas has apparently lost it's mind and gone rogue. At least that's how I can best describe it. What the doctor explained is that while my pancreas is now producing insulin, it is not in a controlled fashion. It is sporadically here-and-there producing it, and not always when it should be. So, for example, it isn't just producing insulin when I'm eating. It is producing it when I haven't eaten anything. It's also producing insulin when my blood sugar is already low. And sometimes when I eat, it appears to be producing 2 or 3 times the amount of insulin that I actually need to cover the carbs. And unfortunately, it isn't doing anything consistently enough for them to be able to treat it. There is nothing they can do about it. Why is it happening? They don't know. But he did say that he doesn't think it will continue to do this long-term. I sure hope not.

So for now I am not supposed to use any basal insulin (slow-acting insulin), and he had me reduce my insulin-to-carb ratio to a mere 1 unit for every 50 grams of carb, if I take a bolus at all. This is to prevent getting insulin from my pump AND from my pancreas at the same time. To achieve this, I need to leave my pump off and stop using it temporarily, because with the Omnipod you cannot turn off the basal insulin rate. You can suspend it for a 2-hr period, at which point it will turn itself back on.

It's a (scary) pain in the butt right now because I don't know when I should bolus for a meal, since I'm not sure if my pancreas is secreteing insulin. So for the most part, I haven't been bolusing for meals. Which feels so crazy not to do. Tonight, I had a 6" (gluten free) sub sandwich with soup and a bowl of ice cream. With no insulin on board, my blood sugar 2 hours post is 109. It makes me scared of the overnights, because if my sugar is only 109 after eating almost 90g of carb, what will it go down to tonight while I'm sleeping and not eating? That's why I'm checking it often.

I've been eating like a pig these last few days to keep my blood sugar high enough to be "in range." I shudder at the amount of extra calories I've ingested this week. But really, right now my main concern is preventing lows, or at least getting them turned around quickly, which right now feels like a 24/7 job. Yesterday I checked my bg a total of 16 times. I'm blowing through my test strips supply, but don't really think I have a choice. I need to check and re-check every 15 minutes when lows occur. And at nighttime, I'm waking up frequently to check it, for fear my cgm might not catch a low. But I must say how fortunate I feel right now to have a cgm. It has been a miracle for me these last few days. I don't know what I would do without it.

Hopefully, I'll be back to my normal nonfunctioning pancreatic state soon (so weird to wish for that).

Onto other things. Today was a good day. No persistent or unmanageable lows and was also the first night I did some volunteer work for my church. I was nervous with the low bg situation about being on my feet and running around for a few hours, so prior to volunteering I ate lots of extra-unbolused-for-carbs, and drank juice boxes while I was there. It was a fun opportunity. I've lined up several volunteer activities over the next several weeks. Most are with my church, and one is with the Animal Humane Society. I think I have more anxiety than I should sometimes, and I also have a tendency to obsess about unimportant details in my life, so I decided to put my energy to better use.

I hope to put up my final "Diabetes AND" post tomorrow. I also thought I'd throw in a Grocery Haul post just for fun. It think it's neat to see what others with either the 'betes or celiac eat. I always get good ideas for food/snack items from blogs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mayo Clinic on 4/12/12

Isn't that hand made glass art that hangs inside the Mayo Clinic beautiful?

Tomorrow I will be at the Mayo Clinic for my 3-month T1 check up. We will be checking the A1c and other labs. The Mayo Clinic is about an hour drive from my house. My blood work will be done at 8am, and then I see the endocrinologist at 3pm. I won't be driving home in between the appointments since it's an hour drive each way and gas isn't exactly cheap these days. So I'll spend the day on the Mayo campus. They have a Barnes & Noble and even nap rooms, a host of restaurants and stores, and a Caribou Coffee inside. I have my coolers ready to go (since I have to pre-pack gluten free food). Surprisingly, the Mayo doesn't have gluten free food options in their cafeteria, and the restaurants on campus don't have gluten free menus. I could drive off campus, because there are lots of restaurants in the Rochester, MN area that have gluten free menus, but once you find a parking space in the Mayo Clinic ramp, you hate to give it up to drive off campus. Plus then I'll have to pay for expensive parking twice.

I'm bringing my laptop, a whole bunch of magazines and two books that I'm currently reading. Plus my coolers of food. Plus extra pods and supplies. You can never pack too much!

So I'll be writing a blog from the Mayo tomorrow. I want to st in my "DISEASE AND ___" series, which is Disease and Love, and then I'd like to talk about the information I'm given during my visit to the Mayo Clinic. So, wish me luck and I'll talk to you tomorrow!

Have a great nite!

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." --Roald Dahl (1916-1990), Writer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Day of Lows- In Pictures

Ever have one of those days where your bg wants to stay low all day? If you are a T1, then of course you have. I only bolused twice today, first for my gluten free oatmeal at breakfast time, and then not again until about 12 hours later when I had a gluten free dessert. I also suspended my basal insulin for a total of 4 hours today. The rest of the day was "free" carbs, because my blood sugar kept falling low. The lows aren't fun, but it was nice to eat carbs all day and not have to take insulin. It was almost like old times. Even with over-treating the lows (at one point I ate 50g of carbs to correct), my blood sugar never went above 160 today. Here are the highlights, in pictures.

Getting ready to eat lunch when my newly inserted Dexcom sensor starts beeping. I look at it.

Hmm... wonder if that's accurate, because I don't feel any symptoms of a low. But just to be safe, grab a juice box and down it. Then proceed to check on my insulin pump. Shoot, I'm actually lower than the CGM is reporting.

CGM is beeping again. It's 49, with a down arrow. Feeling a little panicky about it. Down another juice box and ate a small bag of crackers; not follow "rule of 15." No way I'm waiting 15 minutes to eat more carbs.

CGM is now reporting 43 with a down arrow. Low bg symptoms in full swing. Sweating, shaking, blurry vision, leg pain, fuzzy thinking. I locate my glucagon kit and am getting prepared to inject myself. I'm panicked because I don't know at what point it's going to stop going low and start going up. Luckily, it the next reading it was headed in the right direction. Ate lunch and snack with no bolus.

Things are okay for a few hours, until...

Drank two more juice boxes. Things improved and then it was back to a normal day. The rest of the day, my blood sugar remained in the 80-120 range, even with eating a high carb supper with no bolus and later an apple with no bolus. I did eat a dessert and I bolused for that.

I didn't get to go for my usual 3-mile walk this evening because of the lows. Didn't think that would be a good idea.

Keeping bg slightly inflated as I head to bed tonight, and turning down my basal rate for the night, just in case it gets loosey goosey on me when I'm sleeping.

Bella the Corgi is already in bed. Now it's my turn. Night folks!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Disease and Work.

This post is about disease and work life. The reality for those of us that live with illness is that from time to time, your illness will affect your work life. It can be difficult to strike a balance when letting your employer know about your illness. They need to know what to do in case of an emergency situation, but you don't want them to view you as a sick person. Do you let them know about your illnesses? When do you decide to tell them? How many people do you tell? How much do you tell them about the illness?

No one wants to be known as the sick person on the team. You don't want that to overshadow your accomplishments, your dedication, or your level of knowledge. But it can be hard not to be flagged as "the diabetic" or "the celiac" on the team. These are not exactly silent diseases that run in the background.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, it definitely affected my ability to work. I was very ill shortly before my diabetes diagnosis and for most of the year afterwards. I missed a lot of work in 2010; first for the diabetes diagnosis and follow up appointments, and especially in the early days after diagnosis when my doctor was trying to figure out the correct dosages of insulin for me (a lot of trial and error which resulted in many high highs and low lows), and again later for diagnosis and treatment of two additional auto-immune diseases, grave's disease and celiac disease.

The year 2010 seems like it went by in a big blur. I was sick the entire year and was scared I was never going to get better. I thought I would continue to get diagnosed with auto-immune diseases until they killed me. The company I worked for at the time, a health insurance company, was not tolerant of the time off I needed for treatment of my illnesses. After I informed my manager about my diabetes diagnosis, I quickly became the black sheep on team. Following my diabetes diagnosis, she sent an email to me advising that I was not allowed to tell any of my coworkers that I had diabetes because it would be a burden for the team (her exact words). It went against what my doctor had told me to do, which included making sure that the people that I worked around were aware of my diabetes and knew what to do in an emergency. And it put me in an awkward position because coworkers were curious about the new equipment I was wearing (an insulin pump) and the beeeeeeeeping noises it made. Even the days I worked, I was so ill that my work performance began to suffer. Despite the fact I had always been a top performer on my team and received good annual reviews, there was little sympathy from the management when I became ill.

Things at work did not get better after my celiac disease diagnosis. I had experienced months of bloating, diarrhea, vomiting and the worst stomach cramps you have ever felt in your life. I was 5'6" and down to 106 lbs, because my body could not absorb any of the nutrients I was eating. Celiac disease affected my ability to absorb insulin. Also, because I was not able to absorb many of the carbs I ate, it often resulted in over-bolusing. This became a huge challenge for my endocrinologist, who was trying to figure out the correct basal and bolus rates. At work I was weak and light headed and extremely tired. Socially, it became difficult too, as I could no longer grab lunch in the cafeteria with my coworkers or participate in team potlucks or happy hours. Between the diabetes and the celiac, no one knew for sure what I could eat (I wasn't even sure at that point), so I was left out of those functions. Now don't get me wrong, my coworkers were some of the best people I have ever worked with. We worked together for two years and I am still friends with all of them. They were very supportive and caring.

As a result, I lost my job at the end of 2010. As a single woman, I needed my job for both the income and the health insurance it provided. I used unemployment pay to pay for my COBRA insurance premiums, which cost me $500/month. I ended up liquidating some of my 401k dollars to pay for my medical bills and to live off of.

I took the time I needed to get my diseases stabilized before job hunting, and I think that was a good decision for me.

Sometimes I feel I will have to work a little harder to prove that I am a good worker. Now maybe the employer does not feel that way at all and that's all in my own head. That could just be because I am still a little self-conscious about having illnesses. Another way in which illness affects my work life is in how I use my PTO time. I want to make sure I have vacation time saved for medical appointments and sick days, or unexpected medical events, so nowadays I don't use up every PTO hour I have on actual vacations. I have to really think ahead for the unplanned stuff that could come up. That's not something I really had to think about before.

Before getting diagnosed I never realized the extra challenges someone who manages a disease while having a job has. I certainly have a better understanding now.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Disease and Easter.

I wanted to do a short blog series entitled “DISEASE AND_____” to talk about different life topics and how disease can affect them. In the upcoming blogs, I will talk about topics like Disease and Love, and Disease and Work. In each blog, I’ll talk some general stuff and also talk on a personal level of how disease affects my life in that particular category. Because I have both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, you will likely hear a little mention of both.

With Easter coming up this Sunday, I thought I’d begin the series with Disease and Easter. The holidays can be a great time of togetherness and cheer. You may thoroughly enjoy the holidays. But for some, they can be a time of stress, especially for those with disease, and especially if those diseases involve food, like diabetes or celiac disease. It may highlight that others can eat how/what they want without consequences or preparation and you can’t. It may cause anxiety, guilt or even resentment. I think it’s also worth mentioning that not everyone has a strong support system and the holidays may be a source of sadness and loneliness.

It can sometimes be difficult to be at your holiday dinner if you are too focused on your disease. You may think that everyone else there can just enjoy the festivities without the responsibility that is on your shoulders. Or if you are like me, you may insert the “where’s my blood sugar at?” question after every non-diabetes related thought. Like “Wow, look at this beautiful spread of food (where’s my blood sugar at?) What’s the score on the baseball game? (where’s my blood sugar at?) I’m going to the bathroom (where’s my blood sugar at?) I may also look at every beautiful dish of food and wonder if there’s a way to make a gluten-free version of it at home.

Diabetes is a 24/7 disease. It doesn’t take holidays off. It’s open 365 days a year. The same holds true for celiac disease. Celiac disease makes you be on your toes at all times when it comes to food. While diabetes may have dietary suggestions, celiac disease has dietary requirements. So both diseases can be equally stressful at a food-centered holiday. And with all of our holidays being so food-centered, it takes extra work on our part to count every nibble while not letting Big D or celiac steal the show.

Having two medical diets to follow almost makes the holidays easier for me, in one sense. Since I bring my own plate of food to gatherings (to ensure a safe, gluten free meal), I know ahead of time how much/what I’m going to eat and it takes away some of the guesswork around carb counting. In another sense, it can be difficult in that I sometimes feel ‘different’ when I am eating different food than everyone else, and can’t comment on the green bean casserole because I can’t eat it (fried onions on top = gluten) or other foods that everyone is raving about. It can also be a source of unwanted attention. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind people asking me about my illnesses, but when it’s around the holiday dinner table, it puts attention on me that I don’t want. Other people get asked about their jobs, their kids, their hobbies. I get asked about my diseases. I’d rather talk about how I joined a running club or gas prices. Maybe even talk about what’s going down on a reality tv show. The point being that especially at holidays, when everyone gets together in one spot, I sometimes feel the need to prove to everyone that I am healthy. Yes, it is possible to have a disease and still be healthy!

So here’s how I get through the holidays. This is my holiday survival guide.

1. Just act normal. And healthy. YOU have to believe that you are both normal and healthy if you want others to think that of you. Answer questions that people have, and if you don’t feel like talking about your disease then move on to another topic of your liking.

2. Focus on the people, the friendships and the reason for the holiday. Focus on the positive aspects and try to relax. If you feel the conversation is becoming too you-focused, subtly change the topic by asking someone else about something of interest.

3. In the worst-case scenario if you are feeling down, maybe because you are alone or maybe because the holidays are just plain stressful for you for whatever reason, remember this: it’s just one day. Just get through the day, and then it will be over with. Focus on its shortness and temporariness. Tell yourself that no matter how you feel, you can get through it.

I hope that no matter what your situation is, you have a wonderful and fun Easter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

BG, you are a bad friend.

Your blood sugar is not your friend. It's a frenemy. Sometimes it's there, behaving all nicely, it's got your back in tough situations. It'll let you eat pizza or pasta and say "hey, no problem. I've got it covered for ya." And it may do this for several days in a row, where you wonder if you are somehow partially cured or it may even make you think "Wow, I've GOT this. I UNDERSTAND how it all works now."

And then, out of the blue, it turns on you and becomes your worst enemy. You usually get no warning when this is about to happen. You want to say, "Blood sugar, we're doing the same thing today that we did yesterday. Nothing is different, so why the hundred point difference???" Like today, when I ate my normal breakfast. The same breakfast every day, at the same time. But this morning, my blood sugar laughed in my face and went over 220 after the normal bolus. You feel betrayed, but still, you go about your normal day.

And tonight, I did my normal night routine. Even had some time to relax and read. I decided to take my bath a little earlier, in hopes of hitting the hay a little earlier. I checked my bg and the meter read 91 and my CGM indicated it was hanging steady. Yay me! Finally, blood sugar, we are back to being friends. I knew you'd come back to me. **HUGGS** Then I settled into my semi-warm bath (I forgot I was running a hot load in the washer and used all the hot water up), about 8 minutes in or so, I noticed my vision was a little blurry. Well, that's never a good sign. My CGM was just out of reach, sitting on the bathroom counter. It hadn't alarmed, but I could tell upon standing up in the tub that my bg was up to no good. Sure enough, my CGM was reading 64 with down arrows. CRAP. I quickly got out of the tub, checked my bg on my meter, which showed I was actually at 54. OH BOY. I downed a juice box, then laid on my bed, waiting for the low bg body aches and dizziness to subside. I don't know about you, but when my bg goes low, my legs ache. They feel fatigued and strained, like I did 100 squats.

BG, why are you such a horrible friend? Why do you like to make me feel like I don't know what I'm doing? You don't just make me feel bad emotionally, you hurt me physically, too. And I don't like it when you make me feel like I'm never going to understand just how you work. I'm not a stupid person, BG, so quit making me feel that way.

Alas, my bg and I are going to go to bed now. I'm hoping it will go back to being my friend tomorrow.

Monday, April 2, 2012

And THIS is why I go to the bakery instead.

I've got real issues when it comes to dessert. There's just no limit to how much I can eat. I rarely make desserts anymore, because I recognize that I have NO self discipline when it comes to them. Sugar is like crack to me. I'm happy when I eat it, and I'm willing to sacrifice a lot to have it (blood sugar, weight).

That's why I usually go to the gluten free bakery and buy ONE item. One brownie. Or one cupcake. Because if I have a whole pan sitting in my house, I won't ration them out; I'll eat a whole bunch in one day and hate myself. I'm eating a brownie right now as I type this, even though it's 10:30pm and I know my overnight blood sugars are going to pay big time. Because one of two things are going to happen- either I've over-bolused and I'm going to be low overnight (and get no sleep ala CGM alarms), or I've under-bolused and the exact opposite is going to happen. And then I'm going to step on the scale in the morning and say self-demeaning things to myself.

I sort of hate myself right now for having no self control.