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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The worst they can say is no.

A few weeks ago my electric hot water maker died. I've had it for years and loved it so much. I use it nightly to make my tea (you may recall from previous posts just HOW MUCH tea I actually have.) Anyway, while most normal people would drive over to the local Walmart or Target and pick up a new one (they are only about $20-something dollars, after all), me being very frugal decided to write a letter to Hamilton Beach, the parent company of the Proctor Silex hot water maker I own. Here was my letter:

Dear Hamilton Beach,

I am sad to report that my loyal, favorite hot water maker (Proctor Silex) has pooped out on me for the last time. I love this kettle because of its reliability and the long cord, and I can't find another like it. It started to die a while ago but I was always able to get it working again by wiggling and jiggling the cord each time until the light finally came on. Sometimes I would have to prop the cord up with something under it so the power would stay on. It became a nightly (fun) challenge to find what item to put under the cord that was the right height that would keep the light on. But last weekend, the wiggling and jiggling and cord gymnastics stopped working. And thus, I had to warm up my water in the dirty microwave instead.

I'm wondering if you have replacement cords? I love my kettle and am sad to see it go.

No tea for me,

Nikki


I am happy to report that Hamilton Beach provided me with a 30% off coupon towards a new hot water maker.

Also a few weeks ago, my Otterbox case for my iPhone started to break. I've had the case since February 2011 and surely didn't expect that contacting Otterbox about it would do any good. WRONG.

Upon reading my letter, even advising them that I purchased the case almost 2 years ago, they had me send them a picture of the damaged case. Then they sent me an email saying a new case would be shipped. BOOM. I received my new Otterbox case about a week later. I sent them a thank you letter!

The point of sharing these seemingly-unrelated-to-anything stories is that it never hurts to ask. I would never lie to get something for free, because I have strict morals about that and think that's wrong. But there's nothing wrong (in my humble opinion) in asking to see if they would be willing to help you with whatever your situation is.

When I had my spinal cord injury this summer and was laid up without any income, I sat in my cervical collar in a bed 24/7 and watched my medical bills pile up with no money to pay them. Then one day I decided to contact the two health systems I owed the most money to and ask if they had any sort of patient finance programs to help those in 'tight spots' financially. Both did. What I hoped for was that they could lower my monthly payments or write off a small portion of my bill; making it more affordable for me to pay it off. I went through their internal application process, in which I had to prove my income (or lack thereof), provide proof of hardship (easy with all the medical bills I was accumulating), and write a letter explaining my hardship. The health systems decide if- and how much- they are willing to assist, based on your hardship. In my case, both health systems decided I qualified to have the entire amounts I owed written off; one wrote off $1600.00 as long as I paid them $200.00 over the course of 6 months (in $33.50 installments), and the other health system wrote off the entire $1800.00 bill due to providing evidence of severe hardship. I now owe them zero and am $3400.00 less in debt than I would have been had I never inquired about their programs.

Clinics and hospitals offer programs out there specifically to help those who are in tight financial spots. Don't be afraid to inquire if you are one of those people. They understand that people fall on hard times and need help paying their medical bills. In my case, I had been making high monthly payments to both of them for over a year and could no longer continue to make those payments once I was unable to work.

So again, my point is that it never hurts to ask, whether it's your favorite tea kettle that just died on you, or whether you are in dire straights financially due to loads of medical debt. Don't try to tackle more than you are able. See what resources the clinics/hospitals might be able to offer you. These are not state-programs; these are exclusively offered by the health systems as part of a budget they set aside to assist patients experiencing hardships, so don't feel bad about it!

I hope that this information has been useful to you. If you have any stories you'd like to share about a time when you asked for something - and got it - I'd love to hear it!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Losing my driving privileges from Big D?

This was my morning (my work desk) at 7am. A D-mess on my desk.


Boy was today EVER a Monday. I woke up late, no time for makeup, ironed clothes or even a shower. Scarfed down my breakfast so fast that I actually forgot that I ate breakfast, and as I was trying to rush out the door, had an insulin pump failure. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP it screamed. Too busy to take care of it at home, I grab pump supplies and race to work. I call Omnipod while I'm driving to report the defective pod; hang up with them as I'm pulling into work.

I get to my desk, I pull off the failed pod (ouch cuz it was really stuck on), and quickly began getting the next one ready to put on. Except, there's a problem. It won't prime. It won't beep. BEEEP. No beep. It's dead. GAH! Luckily I'm prepared and pull out my backup spare pump supplies from my desk drawer. I'm calling Omnipod quickly and quietly to report the 2nd pump failure. The call feels like it's taking forever. I'm at work, and I'm a new employee with this pile of d-crap on my desk and sitting on my cell phone on a personal call. I understand the phone reps have to go through a laundry list of questions- what kind of insulin did you use, was it room temp, what were you doing when it failed, can I confirm your home address, when is your next shipment due, what is your astrological sign...etc. I finally tell the woman on the phone, who at the end of the call wants me to 'hang on the line while she documents the call(which I did for a while but we were now about 15 minutes into the call) that I'm at work and I HAVE to go; my shift had started 10 minutes prior and could not hang on the line any further. I put on the new pump and OUCHHHHHHHHHHH, it hits a nerve or something and I'm writhing in pain with no back up pumps to replace it. It's 7am and I'm stuck with it until 5pm when I get home. I'm starving, and try finding anything gluten free in a vending machine.

You might have seen my Twitter post at 7:10am.

You'd hope that would be the end of a bad day. But when I got home and opened my mail, I saw this



I'm not sure how I feel about this. Why do I feel that as a diabetic I was singled out for this? Do they send people with all diseases this letter and force them to get into their specialist doctor (endocrinologist) within three weeks from receipt of the letter (yeah, right) or else lose your driving privileges? Why did I receive this? Why now and not two years ago when I was diagnosed? Why ever? This upsets me for two reasons, first I have a perfect driving record. Second, I am a very well-managed diabetic with no history of having an event while driving. So why do they require that I fill this out in the next three weeks OR ELSE... To me, it would make more sense to send out this letter if you've had a documented medical event while driving. But I'm healthy, and when I opened this letter I felt like my civil rights were being threatened and given a very short and unreasonable amount of time to complete their request. I called my doctor's office and advised I'll be faxing this over tomorrow but can't get an appointment until 11/23, and that was because there was a cancellation.

I would love to hear how others feel about this. Am I overreacting? Is there any part of you that feels that this is somewhat discriminatory towards those that have diabetes? Do they require everyone with a disease to fill this form out?

I can't wait to get in the bubble bath and wash this day off me. The whole day just feels rough and dirty.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Celiabetes Facebook Page.

I finally got my facebook page up and running today. It would be very awesome if you visited it! I'll be adding more content each day, more pictures and things.

I really want to connect with diabetics and celiacs (and their friends and loved ones alike). I consider it my favorite past time and I definitely feel that connecting with others has been a HUGE part in my disease management. If I hadn't connected with people through my blog and twitter, I would still be feeling really alone, like I did for the first year after diagnoses. If only I'd known about the online community sooner; I wouldn't have suffered alone like I did.

Anyways, the weekend is almost here. Tomorrow night I am meeting up with a good friend for coffee, and I am looking forward to some face-to-face time! Sunday I have volunteer work for the church, followed by meal prep for the week so Saturday will be my wildcard day; a do-whatever-i-want day. I plan to use it wisely, catching up on some much needed reading and book-finishing. I have a bunch of books STARTED... sigh. I should be working in some cleaning time but nah.

The leaves are almost done turning here in Minnesota. Most have dropped to the ground and I'm seeing a lot of bare trees. That means my favorite season is coming to an end. I still need to hit up a hayride before it snows! And an apple farm! Oh how I miss my childhood and teen years growing up on a fruit farm. Fresh fruits year round without the grocery store prices. I never purchased fruit from a store until I was around 23; I had no idea it cost so much and was unripe. Looking back, it was kind of like living in the Garden of Eden; perfectly sun-riped fruit everywhere. At our country home I'd walk in the back yard and pick the ripened apples/peaches/pears/plums/apricots that fell to the ground they were so ripe and eat them. We had grapes, too. Juice grapes, not wine grapes. So I'd eat those, too. Now if I want produce, I have to go get it from the overpriced grocery stores and clean it with fruit cleaner to get all the spray dope, wax coating and fake coloring off of it. It just isn't the same :(

But then again I didn't enjoy getting up at 3am every spring and summer break to go work on the farms all day in all types of weather. And I got chased a few times by mean, loose dogs. Boy did I learn to climb trees fast! It was hard work, but somedays I think that working in a cube in an office building is much harder! I miss working in nature!

Ok enough with memory lane. I gotta go get my food for tomorrow put together. I've been eating the same lunch each day and love it. Those organic kidney beans on my salad each day have been fantastic. The salad alone fills me so much that I rarely have room for anything else I brought to eat; I end up eating the rest for snacks later. If forgot how much I love beans!






Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-Doggy Style.

Or at least less-words Wednesday. Today I bring you Doggy Planking. You never know when you'll come up on it.











Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A lil bit o' this, a lil bit o' that.

Just finished packing my lunch/snacks for tomorrow. After last weekend's not-so-pretty gluten-ing, I'm eating a little less meat this week (it hurts my sensitive intestines while they are trying to heal up). It's a healthy selection, with the exception of a less-than-diabetes-friendly choice (pasta salad). The main course for lunch will be a salad with kidney beans for the protein and and Bragg's Healthy dressing. Along with some steamed cauliflower and homemade unsweetened applesauce. I don't think I'll be able to eat all that for lunch, so some of it will be continued into my afternoon snack.



Afterwards, I took my evening shower. Unfortunately, for a reason unknown to me my hot water started to quickly run out on me shortly after getting in. I knew I didn't have much time left, and had to make some tough decisions with what remaining warm water I had left (front or back?) Anyways, I jumped out and here I sit. On the couch. Feet up. Ahhhh.

I started working earlier hours today (7-3:30), which means getting up an hour earlier. Which means going to bed earlier (yeah right). Which means a very tired, disoriented me in the morning.

I thought I'd share two pictures that were shared with me today from Barbara Campbell and Scott Johnson. These were taken at the TCOYD conference in Des Moines a few weeks back.

Me with awesome motivational D-speaker Bill King


Drawing some D-Art for diabetes art day at the conference


Now off to go take a benadryl or nyquil or something because I'm not tired at all and I need to get to bed!

P.S. Pre-ordered the CrazySexyKitchen cookbook today from Amazon. Can't wait for it to be released at the end of this month! I love Kris Carr so much and I truly credit her for being a big part of my return-to-health process that began in 2010 after my year of diagnoses. I own all of her books as well as her documentary and can't wait to own her very first cook book. This chick is definitely in the amazing category. Although not all the recipes are gluten free, most of the ones I saw in the preview of the book can be altered to make a gluten free version, and are healthy, diabetes friendly. I worry a lot about the hormones in the food I eat- especially dairy products and meat. Especially when at least two of my auto-immunes involve hormone issues (insulin= hormone. grave's disease/thyroid= hormone disease.) I've pretty much eliminated dairy from my diet. I'd like to cut back a little on the amount of meat I eat until I can afford to buy more organic meat. That stuff is EXPENSIVE. It's like buying a Coach purse every week. I tell ya, worrying about nutrition is almost a full time job in itself these days.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

D-Street Cred.

Today I volunteered at the Omnipod booth at the 2012 Minneapolis American Diabetes Association Expo. I didn't sleep all that well last night thanks to being glutened, but still awoke at 6am cheery and excited (albeit bloated and gurgly) to work at the Expo. Due to the intestinal swelling from the glutening, I was unable to wear the outfit I had originally planned, but found something else comfy to wear. I was originally only going to work at the booth for 1-2 hours, but so many people were coming up to me with questions about wearing the Omnipod that I ended up staying at the booth from 9-3. It was literally nonstop for 6 straight hours. I had to treat a couple of minor lows, from not eating the entire time I was there, but no big deal. It was an amazing experience to meet SO many neat people with amazing spirits and stories; so many people interested in changing up their current D-regimes in an attempt to gain better control, and others who are already on pumps who were just curious about my pump. Type 1s, type 2s, and type 3s all came up to me. I'm pretty sure I swayed more people to get on an Omnipod pump than the sales guys! For me, it's not work. It is something I live with daily and truly believe helps me to manage my diabetes and I think my passion was evident. People expect that the sales guy will tell them how wonderful the product is, which is why so many of them waited around until I was available so they could ask the "real" questions they didn't want to ask the reps. Since I'm not on the payroll, I had no problem telling them what I loved about the pump, and also about what I feel are the limitations (just a few). I offered real life, 1st hand accounts of day-to-day experiences. I'm a fellow D-soldier. I have D-street cred.

At the end of the day, the territory manager asked me if I would be willing to be their local advocate for their other diabetes events. "Of course!" I said. I will be at the JDRF Reach & Teach U on 11/17. I do not get paid nor do I get reimbursed with pump supplies (I wish, lol). I just want to help other D-people.

What also made today amazing was running into Scott Johnson, Heather Leide and Kelly Rawlings from the DOC. SO COOL!!!!!!!

On a separate note, after having discovered that my new insurance doesn't cover Freestyle test strips, AT ANY COPAY LEVEL, I will be switching to a new brand. My choices were Accu-Chek and Bayer. Having had a Bayer Contour in the past and not loving it (I love that it's pink but don't like that it doesn't light up so I can't test in the dark when I'm sleeping), I'll be going with the new Accu-Chek Nano. I saw it in person today and boy is it COOL. It's so small! It has adorable skins and cases available, too. I love this case. I saw it in person at the expo today. It's SO much cuter in person than on this website. It's metallic and shiny and so cute. Everyone wanted it! Hope there's some left :/

So now I'm sitting on my couch, with the dog, kicking back and eating reheated chili. Yumm. It will be a quiet rest of the night for me. Reading, tea, maybe a little DVR'd Dr. Phil :) Tomorrow is food prep day for the week, so gotta rest up now! In light of last night's gluten-ing event, next week's menu will be blander and milder than originally planned. Light on spices and hot sauce, and more tummy-healing foods like sweet potatoes, avocados, cooked veggies.

Friday, October 12, 2012

GLUTENED

I ate gluten tonight. Not on purpose. I'm now sitting here waiting for the inevitable consequences. And I'm feeling very mad right now, and it takes a lot to make my easy-going self this mad.

So how did it happen? Tonight I went to Target to buy some vitamins, the same vitamins I always buy because they are gluten free- Nature Made brand. They have always been good about labeling the top 10 allergens. I bought the chewable vitamin c.


I popped two in my mouth when I got home. I don't know what it was that gave me the feeling that I needed to go to their website to double check the gluten status of these vitamins, but I did. And what I saw made me very mad.


And this is why it made me mad


Notice how they take the time to label one of the other top allergens, Milk, in parenthesis in the ingredient listing. But they do not list GLUTEN in parenthesis behind the words "natural orange flavors," despite the fact their website makes it clear there is gluten in the flavoring. The FDA requires labeling of the top 10 allergens on food. So how did Nature Made get away with not labeling the gluten source, you ask?

Because only WHEAT is on the top 10 allergens list; none of the other sources of gluten are (barley, rye, oat, malt). So therefore, a company is not LEGALLY required to label the gluten source, unless it's wheat-based, although ethically and morally they should be.

This made me highly suspect of the other vitamins I bought tonight that I have not yet opened.


They labeled one of the other top allergens, SOY, but no mention of gluten.


So I ran straight to their website, too. And this is what I saw



People, I can't begin to tell you how difficult and frustrating it is to try to find safe food. For people like me with Celiac Disease, and for those others who have anaphylactic allergies to gluten, crap like this makes it almost impossible to decipher food labels. What are we supposed to do, carry our laptops to the store and check the FAQ section of each food's website before we make a purchase? We rely on the labeling, yet companies seem to always find ways around the FDA requirements. Those measures are in place to keep people like me safe.

I'm angry and I'm tired of crap like this. Companies should be required to tell us what major allergens are in our food, in plain language. Too many times I've been in the shopping aisles of a grocery store, on the phone with the 800# customer service rep for a food company, to find out if a food is safe for me to eat, because there isn't proper labeling. Only for so many of them to tell me that while they don't ADD gluten ingredients, they cannot guarantee what their raw materials suppliers use. WTF. Just an FYI, when you pick up a food item and it says GLUTEN FREE on it, that only means there aren't gluten ingredients added. It does not mean there is no gluten in it from cross contamination from machines. A gluten-free labeling still requires a call to customer service to check the cross-contamination risks, unless the product is labeled as CERTIFIED GLUTEN FREE.

This diet and lifestyle isn't an option for me; it's the only management for a life-altering disease and my health pays a high price for non-adherence, even if it's accidental non-adherence.

Sorry for the rant, I'm feeling frustrated right now.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celiabetes cooking healthy on a budget.

It's no secret I like to stretch my dollars. And since most of my bills are not variable or negotiable (think car payment, insurance, medical bills, etc.), my food bill is one area that I feel I have some control over. In times where I realllly need to stretch my dollars, like now because I've been off work for a while, I meal plan and make meals that are not expensive, will last for several meals, are freezable and of course healthy. One of my favorite places to grocery shop is Aldi's. It's a no-frills national grocery chain and I love it because I can buy a lot of food for about 30% less than the other grocery stores. Here's my most recent shopping trip:


The meals I pre-planned to make were chili, corned beef, turkey meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce, chicken salad (using canned chicken), salads (which I also top with canned chicken or hard boiled eggs as my source of protein), canned chili for times I'm caught without a meal, and of course a restock of my daily breakfast stuff: eggs, spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms. Also pictured are snacks like bananas, radishes (yes, I like to snack on them), cheese puffs (my one unhealthy splurge), chicken broth to cook my rice in (tastes WAY better than cooking rice in water), and salad materials. All for... DRUM ROLL...


$58.40! Considering my corned beef was $11.00, 99% of my groceries only cost me $47. With the cost of groceries these days, that's a good deal in my book. I can stretch chili into 2 or 3 days worth of lunches or dinners, same with the corned beef, canned chicken/chicken salad, salads for lunch, etc, and that is close to 2 weeks worth of food.

The chili


The meatballs in homemade tomato sauce


My daily breakfast, in stages



Add a little kick


One final tip of a way I save money is to avoid soda vending machines at work. They are expensive. Sometimes you want something a little more than just water. So I pack this and restock it each week. The Snapple drink mixes I found in the dollar section of Target for a 10 pack. I bought 6 boxes. The crystal light ones I buy as they are on sale and I have a coupon, and I love both hot and iced herbal teas so I keep those on hand, too.


I also recommend doing your meal plan no later than Friday for the following week (sooner if time allows) so you can get all your grocery shopping done and then spend Sunday morning/afternoon prepping/chopping/dicing/slicing, cooking, and if need be freezing your meals for the week. It sure makes you enjoy your week more when you aren't coming home from work at 5:00 starving with nothing made.

Sometimes it feels impossible to cook healthy yummy meals when you are on a budget, but with a little planning it's doable. Once you've done it two weeks in a row, it will become very habitual and easy. Look to buy foods that are multi-purpose, like ground turkey, which can be made into burgers, meatballs, tacos, etc., or canned chicken (or canned tuna works) which can be eaten on salads, made into chicken salad or even used in a warm sandwich. Eggs are also great, using them for both breakfast, lunch (hard boiled sliced on salads or even eaten as a snack), and made into either frittatas, quiches or omelets for evenings.

Well, off to finish getting my evening chores done before bedtime. Have a good one.








Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New job jitters for those with diabetes or celiac disease.

Well I started at my new job last Monday and things have been a whirlwind ever since. The last two weeks have flown by quickly and I'm mostly still training. I work for a dental benefits company. I'm not yet used to working in a position with a rigid schedule, meaning I can't be late and I have actual scheduled times to be at work, lunches, etc. It's mostly because we have a small team and need to make sure we have people there to cover all of the work we do. I don't mind having a set schedule. I think I'll be choosing to work 6:30-3:00. I prefer to get off work earlier, but worry about with winter driving (in Minnesota) coming here shortly whether I'll have to deal with unplowed roads that early or risk being late. I drive a Subaru Outback which is all wheel drive, so I should be ok. I only live about 15 minutes from work.

The last couple weeks have been an adjustment, considering the months prior to it I was laid up in bed recovering from spinal cord surgery. Returning to work has left me feeling a little more exhausted than normal, frantic and trying to fit everything in in a night (pick out outfit, iron outfit, shower/blow dry hair, pre-make my egg breakfast and pack a lunch). That's just prep for work for the next day. That's not including all the other crud you have to do when you get home from work, like take care of the doggy, make supper, laundry, chores, pay bills, yard care, BLOGGING (ahem), grocery shopping, etc. You get the idea. So I've spent a fair amount of time trying to find balance in my days/week.

Returning to work brought back other worries/fears. Starting at a new job in a new position has left me feeling scared of telling anyone at work that I have diabetes or celiac disease. My boss just told us she is bringing in pizza for us next Monday so don't bring lunch that day. I haven't had the nerve to tell her I can't eat the pizza. So when I show up on Monday with my bagged lunch, she's probably going to wonder why or just think I'm a picky whiny eater-type person. Because she's also announced that for a week she is going to bring us in treats everyday- cupcakes, brownies, candy, etc, all stuff I cannot eat because of my celiac disease.

I've successfully hidden from my new colleagues that I have diabetes or celiac, which has not been easy. Yesterday at work my Omnipod PDM errored- loudly- in my cube. It wasn't just a pod error where I could just take it off and put on a new one. The actual PDM (the handheld portion) errored out and required a call to Insulet. I whispered on the phone the whole time, sweating each minute I was sitting on the phone on a personal call at my new job. But luckily noone noticed.

I know my diseases are nothing I should be ashamed of. But I learned the hard way from my previous job that sometimes employers DO treat you differently when they know. Some employers DO discriminate against you, and it's very hurtful because you know you are a loyal, dedicated employee who works hard and knows her stuff. And out of fear of that happening again, I've decided- at least for the time being- to keep my mouth shut. For now I'd rather be thought of as a crazy-picky eater who doesn't like anything than as a diabetic with celiac disease.

Just wondered if you guys had any opinions on how to handle the work situation?

On a happy note, I just saw the article that the next generation Dexcom was just released today, the Dexcom G4. Here is the link to the article, in case you haven't seen it: http://asweetlife.org/catherine/blogs/products/dexcom-g4-platinum-cgm-conference-call-for-the-doc/30753/

I am SUPER excited to order mine. I'm ordering the pink one, OF COURSE! My new insurance is effective on 11/1 and I will have my order in right away. For those of you who just recently got the previous model of the Dexcom, you may be eligible for a free upgrade/swap if it was within the last few months, or if it's been more like 6 months I think they give you a steep discount. Give them a call to find out what your options are. My Dexcom is 2 yrs old and was purchased under my previous insurance plan, so I'll be able to upgrade no problem.

Took some picks of my grocery haul and am excited to write about it tomorrow. Sorry again for my long absence. Since moving into my new house I have been internet-less while I looked for the best deal (apparently it's Comcast), then had to week almost 2 wks for an available appointment to have it hooked up! But I'm up and running now, and look forward to my regular blogging again.