Friday, 30 November 2012

Little Reminder on Glucose Testing

This afternoon I was at my computer doing some work and I started to realise that I was having trouble concentrating and holding my thoughts.  These are tell tale signs for me that I need to test my blood sugar.  So I took out my meter and did my test.  11.8.  Strange, I thought I was low not high.  I almost gave myself a correction shot.  I decided I better give my hands a good scrubbing under the sink and then test again.  So I took the test and it came back at 3.4.  I tested again on my other hand and it was 3.6.  Yikes!!!  I almost took a corrective shot when I was already low.

A few things to point out here...

1.) You should always cleanse your hands before you test your BG.

2.)  If you are considering giving yourself a correction shot then make sure you re-test your BG before you do.

3.)  Considering my BG was at 3.4 I was lucky I had the presence of mind to go wash my hands and re-test.  There would have been some serious consequences if I would have given myself my 2 units of Humalog like I normally do for a correction when my glucose is in that range.

I guess that I had got a little sloppy in forgetting to wash my hands.  I always do; or at least use hand sanitizer before I test.  Complacency almost got the best of me.  I am pretty sure what happened is that when I went into my diabetes kit, my hands must have rubbed up against my Dex tabs.  I keep everything in the same bag, including my hand sanitizer, which in this case would have been very helpful to use.  Lesson learned.  Or refreshed.  Either way a close call.  Learn from my mistake, or get a refresher from my mistake, whatever way you want to look at it.   Consider it a reminder, just wash your hands!

The Little Things You Take for Granted... Like Light

The Little Things You Take for Granted... Like Light

I have issues with testing in the light sometimes when I am low, let alone in the dark! 

I find the injections in the dark to be more of an issue because I am often in a public place when I need to take an injection.  I was in a movie theatre, trying to give myself my nightly basal shot and couldn't see the numbers on my pen.  I got out my IPhone and used it as a light source for maybe 20 seconds, next thing I know the guy next to me freaks out and starts yelling at me to put away my phone.  He was literally yelling at me, in a public place, and he was a stranger.  This was during the previews.  I just held up the needle and said "I am diabetic and need to give myself insulin."  He replies "Whatever".  Frankly, the guy was a real jerk and didn't even apologize.  I was a littel upset.

I have successfully given myself my basal shot at a Foo Fighters concert, a Pearl Jam concert, and a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert over the past year though.  I consider that a great success.  The strobe lights and lasers help me read the numbers on the pen.  Rock concerts rule, great for diabetics!  Way better than movie theatres!

Since getting T1D my wife has started taking pictures of me testing and injecting in interesting locations.  I will post them when I get a chance. 


More on Emotions and Other Complications

More on Emotions and Other Complications

I had a very stong response to my last post on emotions and diabetes.  In fact, I had more reaction to that post than any other since I have started this blog.  So, I decided to find an online  resource specifically relating to the mental health complications that can come with diabetes.  I personally think that the emotional side of dealing with diabetes is the most overlooked complication that we deal with and was happy to find resources to this on a main stream charitable organisation's website. 
I found a pretty good resource on complications on the Canadian Diabetes Foundation website (found here  ).  I am pleased that they do mention Depression and Emotions along with the other complications such as Celiac's, foot care, peripheral neuropathy, Thyroid Disease and Vision Health.  There is some good information here, especially for the recently diagnosed. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Mental Illness, Stress, Anxiety and Diabetes

Mental Illness, Stress, Anxiety and Diabetes

Living with Type 1 Diabetes, or any form of Diabetes for that matter is not easy.  It is not just the routine aspects of care such as giving yourself injections, testing your blood sugar, changing your tubing if you have a pump, or going to the doctor every 3 months to check your blood work.
The thing that is most often overlooked is the emotional strain or mental illness that can come with the disease. 
It is the anxiety you feel before you prick your finger.  I still have times where I have the lancet against my finger for a minute and I just can't push the button.  I have to take a breather and then get it done.  It is against human nature to cause pain to yourself.  Not to mention fear of needles and anxiety towards that
It is the anxiety you feel when you test your BG and it is high or low.  What do you have to do to take care of that?  How can you stop it from happening in the future?  Will this high BG test result in some sort of immediate complication? 
How about your doctor visits...  Are they going to find something new that is wrong with me?   I get worried about my HBA1C... is it going to be higher than last time?  If so, does this mean that I have failed over the past three months at managing my diabetes effectively?  What sort of guilt comes with that.
I think that we all have some of these thoughts or worries sometimes and that is perfectly normal and to be expected.  We deal with a lot.  People who don't have diabetes do not necessarily understand that. 
What I have come to realise is that a higher HBA1C can be the result of illness over the past three months, if you had lots of unexplained highs or lows, if you were stressed more than usual, if you were having trouble sleeping, etc.  Can I control these things?  Not really.  As diabetics we need to give ourselves a break.  What we live with is not our fault.  We do the best we can with the hand we were dealt.  The way I see it is that as long as we are doing our best, regardless of the outside factors we may be dealing with, that is all we can do.  There is no reason to feel guilty or anxious about that.
All this said, as diabetics we are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental illness.  It can be overwhelming sometimes and at those times it is important to seek out professional help.  It is nothing to be ashamed of. 
I have a close friend who deals with another chronic illness.  He needed an organ transplant to survive.  At one point he was taking over 25 pills a day.  These were not pills that had little side effects, these were major drugs that had bigtime side effects.  The guy is amazing for going through what he did and still dealing with it on a daily basis. Yet, he told me once he went through years of self destructive behaviour before he finally accepted that he was going to live with his illness and get some peace within.  This isn't the sort of thing men usually talk about but it made me realise that it isn't just diabetes that can get a person down, it is any form of chronic illness.  It also made me realise that reaching out to friends can be a great thing.  Some friends will understand, some won't.  But, getting to relate to a true friend is something that is invaluable.  It is worth it to reach out, take the risk and let others know what is going on with you.  It can be extremely rewarding.   
I have a close family member who has MS.  It is a brutal disease and she deals with it like a pro.  If you didn't know her, you would not know that she had any health issues.  My mother and her were talking and she said that she hoped I could accept my illness quicker and easier than she did.  People with chronic illness tend to have some emotional baggage that comes with it... it takes time to realise that and to conquer it.  The sooner I can do that, the more rewarding my life will be.
The point I am trying to make is that it is important for us to not just look after out physical health but it is equally important to tend to our mental health.  If you find yourself feeling down, feeling burnout, being overly anxious, seek help.  In the long run, it will probably make the biggest difference in your life.  I am still struggling with this and I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in August 2011.  I am just starting to realise that to live with this disease you have to find some acceptance within.  Try to put things in perspective.  Overall, my life is really great at this point.  Yeah, I have a disease... but I also have a supportive family, a loving wife and great friends.  That is the stuff that truly matters.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Spouses of People with Diabetes

Spouses of People with Diabetes

I have to say that my wife has been an unbelievable support to me since my diagnosis.  From the first day of diagnosis she has been amazing.  She has dealt with my weird mood swings, my lack of energy, my scary lows, my complications and everything else that comes along with being a Type 1 Diabetic.  She is great at not being the "Diabetic Police" and politely corrects others when they are.  Yet, she is very supportive of the proper lifestyle changes in regards to exercise and nutrition that we have had to make.  (In reality, she was already exercising and eating healthy, me... not so much).  

She has become just as knowledgeable as I have about the disease and that is a great help when I need to figure out patterns with my BG levels or to know the signs of when I am low.  Sometimes I am not always that receptive to her suggestions when I am low...

Wife - "I think you are low, you should test your blood"
Me - "No"
Wife - "You should eat."
Me - "No, I really don't think I need to."
Wife - "I think you are low, you should test your blood and if you are low you can have some Coke"
Me - "Ok"... "Oh you were right"

Thankfully I usually realise when I am low.  Plus, she knows a little bribery never hurts.  Real Coke!  Not Coke Zero!  Yeah, it should be juice or something but you gotta have your treats here and there.  

I wish that all diabetics could have such great support as well although I know not everyone does.  If you don't have a good support system check out other blogs, message boards, twitter, or perhaps there is an actual support group in your community where you can meet face to face.  There are all sorts of people out there willing to help and listen, I am just very lucky to have one at home.  

Parents of Kids with Diabetes

Parents of Kids with Diabetes


I just have to say it.  Parents that are dealing with diabetes in their children are amazing.  Knowing what it is like as an adult living with diabetes and knowing what I was like when I was a small child, the perseverance, patience, and courage those parents must have.  It's funny, I was a good kid in most respects, but when it came to needles, I was a nightmare!  I still am a little scared of needles.  Not a great phobia for a Type 1 Diabetic but it's not like I have a choice then to stick myself numerous times a day.  

Back to the point...  for all of those parents and families dealing with this, keep it up, I know it must be very hard and emotionally straining to "be in charge" of taking care of your child's illness. 

I realise I am only thinking of small children here.  When I think of what it was like to be a teenager, yikes.  My mother was worried about me enough without the added burden of worrying about my blood sugars.  

Those parents who are helping their children with this disease, well, you are amazing.  Just needs to be said.

Update on Insulin Neuritis

My Insulin Neuritis has gotten worse over the past few months.  I spoke to my Dr, about it and they were surprised it had not gone away yet but were concerned about the pain it was causing me.  The burning sensation has increased over the past few months.  They basically said there were two options...

1.) Opiates

2.) Gabapentin aka, Neurontin

Now, I will take as many opiates as the next guy if I have temporary pain like a broken foot or finger or whatever.  What I do not want to do is take it for a chronic pain issue that is more of a nerve issue.  I know some people have no choice in taking opiates for their pain management and I am not saying that is a bad thing.  I believe everyone has the right to try to live a pain free life.  No judging here.

I know for a fact that I would probably get in trouble with some sort of addiction problem if I had to take an opiate a few times a day.  I have suffered withdrawal from enough prescription drugs that I know I want to minimize that aspect of my life.  It is extremely disruptive, painful, and straining.

Now, so far the Neurontin has worked fairly well for me.  I am taking one pill when I take the rest of my pills at 10:00 pm.  I find that wears off around 7 pm. so I take another one then.  My prescription says I could take two pills at breakfast, lunch and nighttime.  The first time I took one of these pills I was so off kilter the next day it was not even funny.  After a week of one pill I upped it to two at night time.  I do not suffer anymore of these effects...  that said I do not want to take the chance of using these during the day when I may have to drive, work, think, etc.  My pharmacist said it is safe to do so if you increase your dose gradually.  But, the fact is I do not need that for my pain right now so I am not going to risk it.  If I did have to take some in the morning I would definitely refrain from driving for at least a week or so.  Maybe others have had different experiences with this drug but I know it has been helpful for me.  

There are some weird side effects though, my dentist did warn me that it can increase the rate of tooth decay so that is something to watch out for.  As with everything else with this disease it is about balancing the pros and cons and figuring out in conjunction with your healthcare team what works for you.

Monday, 19 November 2012

More on Testosterone and Diabetes

Well, I haven't made a post in some time but I am going to get back on the horse.  I have been dealing with a new host of endocrine problems.  Judging from the traffic on this site I can see that the one of the most popular readings is on Testosterone and Diabetes.

Low testosterone is a common problem that many men have but it does seem to happen more with people with type 1 diabetes at a younger age.  I am only 31 and my testosterone levels were basically non-existent.  After months of hormone replacement therapy here are some of my observations.

I tried the gel that you put on your arms.  There are a few concerns I had with that...

1.) It did not work to raise my testosterone levels

2.) It is extremely inconvenient to apply the gel.  You have to squeeze half a pack onto your hand and apply it to your upper arms.  Then you do the other arm while the one you just did dries.  Then you repeat and have to wait for it to dry again before putting on your shirt.  Then you have to wash your hands rigorously, and I mean rigorously.  You don't want to expose anyone else to this stuff which leads me to my next point...

3.) I found it worrisome that I could be exposing my wife to unhealthy levels of testosterone just by giving her a hug.  A healthy 29 year old woman does not need extra testosterone.  Seriously, the gel can rub off.

So, now I am at the point where I take weekly injections of testosterone cypionate.  It has worked in that it has raised my T level to over 20. 

The one really difficult thing about having low testosterone that I have found is adjusting the dosage.  The main issue with this is that it takes a really long time to get the lab results back.  My understanding is that it is an expensive test to do so they wait until they have enough requisitions before they run the tests. 

Still at that point you don't know if it is really accurate.  Do you take the blood test 3 days after the injection?  How about 1 week?  How about 2 weeks when you are at the end of the cycle?  I guess that is between you and your Dr. 

Looking back I remember saying that I did not want another needle in my life and that is why I opted for the gel.  If I could do it over I would have gone straight for the injections.  I am sure the gel works for some people.  Just not me.