Friday, December 29, 2006

A potential nightmare

I was on the edge of sleep last night and I felt a little odd. When I checked my blood glucose it was a tad too low so I popped a hard candy into my mouth and....... the next thing I know I'm coughing, choking and spluttering. I must have fallen asleep while sucking on the sweetie.
Luckily all was well, but it did make me think, if I died while treating a hypo this way would the authorities record it as a death caused by diabetic complications?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Doing What You Have To

I finally had to give in today and do something I'd been putting off for almost a week. I've been unable to get a work out at the gym since December 1st because I can't walk fast, pedal or sit without it being literally a big pain in the butt. Consequently my BG has been rocketing skywards for the last few days. I've been correcting with extra units of Humalog to keep it in check during the day but the morning levels have been above 270 since Friday.
So this morning I took an extra 10% Lantus and like magic my BG has been below 126 ever since. I don't know why I'll take an extra bolus here and there but upping the basal rate makes me feel like the diabetes is getting worse. That's truly crazy, right?
I'm sure this is just a temporary thing until I can get back to the gym but it goes to show that exercise makes a big difference to glucose levels, mine at least.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Diabetes-friendly recipes?

I'm surfing the web looking for inspiration for this year's xmas meal when I hit upon this recipe on the dLife website. It's a Kwanzaa Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I'm intrigued because I don't have any Kwanzaa recipes in my repertoire and when I was at school Pineapple Upside Down Cake was the first thing I made in Home Economics class.
I want to see what makes in specific for Kwanzaa and how they adapted a high carbohydrate recipe to fit in with the dLife guidelines of small amounts of sugar and less than 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving. From what I remember of my cake it was pretty high on both counts.
Well, it turns out there is little difference from the recipe I know. It contains both molasses and honey and of course the canned pineapples in fruit juice. My mouth is already puckering with distaste from the excess sweetness. Then I read the nutritional information:

Exchanges per serving: 3 Carbohydrates, ½ fat
Calories 237
Calories from fat 36
Total Fat 4g
Saturated fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 156mg
Carbohydrates 48g
Dietary fiber 1g
Sugar 29g
Protein 4g

You have to be kidding me. 48g of carbohydrates for a slice of cake? I could have four delicious Whole Foods Chocolate Truffles for half the carbs and 5g less sugar.
Could someone please explain to me what makes this recipe diabetes-friendly?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mad Cow Disease May Solve Diabetes Riddle

I don't know what all the implications are but scientists at Ottawa Health Research Institute in Canada have discovered that a prion that causes Creutzfeld-Jakob disease might be involved in regulating blood glucose levels and could possibly affect the development of Type 1 diabetes.
It's probably not a major breakthrough, more another piece of the puzzle that will lead to an answer to why some of us get diabetes and others don't. And that's an important question to address when you are looking for a cure.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I'm still sore from slipping last week but it served me right for putting up the lights before Sinterklaas has visited. This is one of the traditions we bought with us from Belgium and I violated it at my peril.
The Sint (known as St Nicolas in the francophone part of the country) arrives on a boat from Spain at the end of November then treks through the low countries on his horse, accompanied by his helper(s) Zwarte Piet(s). On the evening of Dec 5 he leaves oranges, a chocolate initial and presents in the shoes of good children in The Netherlands, and arrives in Belgium on the morning of the 6th to do the same.
As most Mamas in Belgium work, families celebrate St Nicholas the weekend before but Sintaklaas always visits nurseries and schools on the right day. Only after Sinterklaas has passed through can the xmas decorating begin, and December 25th is more a family celebration than the culmination of retail frenzy.
I shall be singing these songs and a few others until I drive everyone demented and they beg me to stop. It's a happy holiday.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Getting in the holiday spirit

What's worse than Achilles tendonitis that won't go away? Crashing down on that ankle while you are attempting to hang xmas lights, that's what. I now have a swollen ankle, a bruised coccyx, cut right thumb, black and blue arm and a nasty gash on the left hand to go with the sore ankle.
I should have stuck to plan A, which was to leave the poor trees and shrubs alone. But it is yuletide and a few lights make the yard so pretty. Next year I'm going with something manageable like this.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Worth the bolus?

Candy with butter and salt? A celtic girl's dream delicacy. And who would be naughty enough to tempt Jane to eat candy? Whole Foods Market, that's who. Not only are they selling French chocolate bars filled with caramel and fleur de sel but they also have this recipe for chocolate truffles on their website which is so pure and decadent- just chocolate, cream, butter and salt.
All natural and pure evil.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

It's that time of year again. No, not the two turkey pig-out that is Thanksgiving/Christmas but the annual reminder that I have failed to accomplish even half my goals and I'm one year nearer to never doing so. Some people save this day for Jan 1st and make resolutions to do better next year. I do it on my birthday, without bothering with the "do better next year" bit.
I've always hated this day. Every year when I was small, my mother would host a party at our house. Normally I loved to have other kids over but there was something about the pressure of my birthday: dressing up, choosing games, that would have me hiding out on the stairs, usually crying.
It hasn't got better as I've gotten older. I no longer dress up and I never tell anyone that my birthday is approaching, but I still have to deal with the loved ones bearing cards and gifts. I'd really rather crawl into bed, put the covers over my head and not get up until the next day. The day after the birthday I am fine, a pleasant rational human being. On my birthday I am Satan with toothache. Anyone with any sense would avoid me. I would avoid me if I could.
So this year I set out to do just that. I left my long-suffering husband with the unopened cards and presents and took myself off to the gym for two hours, then, as the weather was phenomenal, I spent an hour on the beach alone and finally I went to the movies on my own. It was quite the best birthday I have had.
Now, as long as no one asks me how old I am, I should be fairly sane for another twelve months.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Achilles what?

I have another visit to the Orthopaedic Specialist on Monday and as I promised last time I would go to the medical supply store and pick up a foam pad for my ankle I thought I'd better get on to it. The OS assured me that I could pick up an Achilles foam support anywhere. He described it as a larger padded version of those bunion pads that are sold in the foot care department of any pharmacy. The padding would keep the back of my shoes away from the bump allowing me to wear boots and closed shoes in the winter.
A combination of unseasonably warm weather and this diabetic's fear of surgical supply stores meant I was able to put off the purchase until the last possible moment. But I couldn't wait any longer so I started my search at the local store. I weaved my way around half a dozen wheelchairs and a display of canes until I reached the salesperson. I really thought that I could just grab one off the shelf but no such luck. She only had heel cups and arch supports - the same that I could buy at CVS but at a 50% upcharge. She suggested an orthopedic supply store and I limped off imagining once again that I could pick up this surgical aid in a couple of minutes.
Yeah, a five minute trip turned into a nightmare where I had to force myself to go into a building that advertised "Prosthetics" in neon lights. Inside there were no prosthetics on display, thank goodness, but also no foam donuts. Half hour later an orthopedic specialist came to look at my ankle and declare that they would have to have something made because they only dealt in made-to-measure orthotics, preferably charged to my insurance. They would be happy to make one, perhaps included in a lace-up shoe, but maybe I could manufacture something myself out of lambswool and adhesive? What the f***? Do I look like Martha Stewart? And I'm not about to go clumping about in some old person's frumpy shoe either. Strike two but I did leave with the address of another surgical supply place so I got back into the car and drove another five miles.
This place was a regular pharmacy with a surgical supply department that had leg braces, knee braces, covers for plaster casts, even a sling to support the pregnant bulge for mums-to-be but no donut, foam or otherwise. The pharmacist even got out the catalog and the only thing that was remotely suitable was this decidedly unsexy sock, which will look great with my stilletos. Strike three. Empty-handed and footed and two and a half hours out of my day later I decided that the foam donut was a figment of the OS's imagination. However, given how common this injury is I'm sure there's an opportunity for someone to develop something. Perhaps with interchangeable diamond edging?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Health"care" provider

I made my monthly run to the pharmacy to load up on supplies: insulin, syringes, pen needles, other prescription meds and of course test strips. Since I became a "good" diabetic nearly a year ago I have been getting 300 of these suckers each month. I have a current script from my doctor for three more refills so I expected to get my full amount.
The pharmacist motions me over and explains that my excellent healthcare provider in its wisdom has decided that the limit will be 200. Starting now. But, he explains, all I have to do is call my endo and if she deems that my diabetes is severe enough to warrant 300 test strips a month she can write that on the scrip and fax it in.
My wonderful healthcare provider, the people who hound me if my A1c is above 7 with repeated phonecalls: "What can we do to help you achieve your goals?". Who are so proud of their diabetes education program. The one with the suckiest website in the universe, which they just made better by insisting I change my password to a combination of letters and numbers that I cannot remember so I have to phone them and request they reset it, again. Yes, you Oxford, I'm talking about you, here's what you can do to ensure I keep my BG at an acceptable level.
Leave the decision about how many strips I use to me and my doctor. Once we have decided that, do not interfere and never, ever make me take time out of my day to phone my endo unless it's an emergency; and don't tie up the health professionals' time either, not the the pharmacist, the doctor nor the nurse. Oh, and don't demand that diabetics are classified into groups based on how many blood testing strips they use.
What's next? Will they insist I change to a meter that uses cheaper strips unless I get a note from my doctor to say I really need the smarter meter?
And what do they think I'm doing with the extra 100 strips? Making collages?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rocking again

I've got tickets to see The Raconteurs tonight, oh and yeah, Bob Dylan is playing too. I've had the tickets since they went on sale in August and I am seriously looking forward to this even though I can't wear my kick ass cowboy boots because of the damn lump at my Achilles tendon; hell, I can't even wear sneakers.
The ankle had responded really well to physical therapy and I thought it was pretty much healed but a week or so ago it suddenly became much more painful. I changed orthopaedic surgeons and found one that is gentle and sympathetic and who actually examined my feet! He sent me back to PT but suggested that I don't do any training other than weight lifting at the gym for the next couple of weeks. This has kind of thrown my work out routine into chaos. I tried just using the resistance machines for abs and pecs but I never felt like I warmed up enough before I started and after ten minutes I wasn't sure what to do next. I don't want to just work those muscles for an hour because I think I'm just going to get sore. So I'm having a week off from the gym but I'm feeling both guilty and fidgety because I'm not getting any real exercise apart from strolling around with the big dogs twice a day.
So tonight there will be no dancing in the aisles for me or jumping up and down but it'll still rock, right?

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm clean

Good news today.
I have been officially certified free of any communicable disease. That's great news for anyone who might have rubbed up against me recently or over whom I may have coughed or sneezed.
Whatever you've got you didn't catch it from me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cranky Jane is Back

I'm really cranky today. Those in the cheap seats who are yelling "Give us a break, how are we supposed to tell the difference? You're always cranky, Jane" can just settle down for a moment while I relate the source of my crankiness.
Last week I had my endo visit and all was good, very good even; for me it was great. I had blood drawn and as I don't have to go back to the opthamologist until next March I thought I was done with doctors for a few months. Ha, not so fast, missy.
First, hurrah! I had a call from the immigration lawyer to tell me that our case has been read and we should go get medicals asap. These have to be performed by a designated Civil Surgeon and there was only one in our area. She had an appointment the next day or in four weeks time, so we duly leapt on the less than twenty-four hours notice one.
Basically, people, the only things that the US government cares about are that immigrants do not have any communicable diseases, that they are sane and don't have problems with drugs or alcohol. I think I scored on the sane front when the doctor asked me how much I drank and I answered "Not nearly enough". I don't have a non-prescription drug problem either as my co-pays on all the prescription drugs I take leave me with no extra cash to spend on recreational drugs. As for the communicable diseases bit, if I had any, I picked them up in the six+ years I have been breathing pure American air.
Still, I had to have blood drawn by the Civil Surgeon for an HIV test and a gonorrhea test. Then I had to have a purified protein derivative injected under the skin of my right forearm to see if I have TB. Because I no longer have a record of vaccinations I had to go to my regular doctor who drew blood to see if I was immune to MMR and who gave me an unnecessary tetanus shot because my last one was in Belgium and try getting proof of that in English within 10 days.
For those who are counting I have had blood drawn three times in five days. I swear if you press down on the vein in my right arm blood will shoot right out. I got a free blood pressure reading thrown in each time, too. In fact I got two each time as they couldn't hear my BP the first time they tried. Isn't about time we found a more scientific way to take BP than a cuff or a finger sensor?
I also have a sore arm because the arm I had the tetanus shot in was the same arm I had the flu shot in three days before. And I hate getting shots almost as much as Kerri does. In Belgium my family doctor used to let me give myself the flu shot on the basis that I had more practice than she did.
Three doctors' visits, two shots, three separate lots of blood drawn, six blood pressure readings and a skin test. Is it any wonder I'm cranky? The irony is that every one of the three doctors I saw was willing to say I was in excellent health. Diabetes, thyroid disease, arthritis, PCOS, achilles tendonitis, they are apparently not contra-indicators of healthiness. Isn't that nice to know?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

First casualty

Rumsfeld is stepping down.
I must remember this is firstly a blog about diabetes and other auto-immune diseases. So here is a piece of news about stem-cell research in mice that may, some years down the road, help people with visual complications from diabetes see again.
But it's also my life, people, and it's a political one.


My faith in the democratic process, restored and without my help. You really can't fool all of the people all of the time.
My favorite moment, even though it was never seriously in doubt, was this piece of schadenfreude.
I got four hours sleep last night so if there are errors in my html or spelling I apologise. I'm going to have a little nap at my desk.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting rights

I'm so frustrated at the moment. I'm holding my breath to see who is elected to the Congress, alternately checking MSNBC and CNN, and half a dozen websites because I'm a political junkie. The frustrating part is that once again I was not allowed to take part in the democratic process.
One of the worst things for me about living in a country where I'm not a citizen is that I have no right to vote. I've lived here for more than six years and I'm a legal resident who pays taxes but I'm not yet "of the people". Not being able to cast a ballot for the person that I think will serve society best makes me feel alienated, disenfranchised and impotent.
The only thing that makes me more sad and angry is people taking democracy for granted and not exercising their right to vote when they have the opportunity to do so. This time around, though, it seems that there has been a higher than usual turnout at the polls. I'm so heartened by this, it's great to see democracy in action, but I firmly believe that it would be better if I could take part too.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Make my surprise secret, please

I suppose I should read my emails more carefully then I wouldn't have been surprised when the UPS guy walked up the path and handed me a parcel from dLife. But it's been busy here and I was expecting a parcel from Amazon and not a surprise gift from dLife.
I've already written about my willingness to look a gift horse in the mouth and then bitch at it so it will come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I was more than miffed by this one.
DLife sent me a meter. Another free meter. I'm guessing now that this is where the last free meter came from. I examined my dLife profile and although I had left unchecked the box that asked if I wanted a free meter, I got one anyway. At least the last free meter arrived in a plain brown wrapper. This parcel came in a custom box in the signature blue and yellow colors with the dLife logo proudly printed all over it and a message on the UPS label: DLIFE-FOR YOUR DIABETES LIFE just above the "Ship to Jane" part of the label.
I know, I should have read the privacy statement a little closer and not put my address on my profile, so it's my fault but I never expected that offers from dLife and partners would arrive in such obvious packaging.
And yes, I realize I'm being a little inconsistent here. After all I write a blog that has my baby photo on it, my real name and the town where I live, so it wouldn't be hard to track me down but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the UPS guy knowing my medical condition.
Wait a minute, I am sure about this. I'm mighty uncomfortable about it. Something to do with a feeling that my privacy has been invaded. I choose who to tell about my life with diabetes and when to tell them. I don't need to be outed by an information and support website. While I applaud the work that dLife is doing to raise the profile of diabetes I'm not keen on them raising my particular profile. I like to do that for myself.
On the positive side though, I now have three spare meters, one I bought for myself just before I traded up to the Lifescan One Touch UltraSmart and two brand new ones, one still in its original, unopened packaging. Of course they all take different types of test strips so I would have to get a prescription from my doctor before I could use any of them except the one I bought for myself as that uses the One Touch strips I have for my regular meter. Hmm. Anyone need a free meter?

My Post-Hallowe'en Scary Day

November 1st. All Saints. It was more like "Saints Alive". I'm not a candy eater so I didn't expect anything different with my BG tests on November 1st. I certainly didn't expect this:
BG before breakfast: 55
BG before lunch: 56
BG before dinner: 61
BG before bed: 59
I'm really glad we had left-over trick or treat candy because I couldn't hold a decent number all freakin' day. I didn't dare risk the gym because I don't like to exercise if I'm below 120 and the highest post meal number was 81!
I'm with the doctors on this one BG and BP better high than low. Oh well, it all helps the magic A1c I guess.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Life below 7

6.7 baby. 6.7
It's been so many years since I had an A1c that low that I truly thought I wasn't capable.
And this is despite a really bad couple of days a fortnight or so ago when I couldn't get a sensible reading at all. It started after I'd upped my workout quite a bit. I had a BG reading of 429 that I corrected (probably a little too aggressively) and I rebounded to 33. By dinner time it was back in the 400s and although I corrected it (a lot more conservatively) for the next day I hovered around the 300-450 mark. Then just as suddenly I was back down to 117 and I've had no real issues since.
I don't know if my body just got stressed by the extra exercise or the insulin was just not getting to where it needed to be but I was expecting that this would throw my A1c out. And that would have been really unfair. But my endo was really excited by the rest of the numbers and there was a lot of cheering when they phoned them through to me today. I put this down to them being hyped up on Hallowe'en candy but who cares? I got the pat on the back that I though I would get three months ago.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Orange Cheese is Everywhere

It's bad enough that I had a nightmare about orange cheese but it seems that I can't turn around these days without seeing it somewhere.
American "cheese" was the secret ingredient in the first episode of the TV reality show Top Chef. Then we went to the movies on Sunday to see Infamous, about the life of Truman Capote, which in one scene featured an entire chest cooler full of Velveeta.

It's so ironic that I could go throughout life without this product puncturing my consciousness and know I am pursued by it. As long as I never have to taste it!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thanks for your support, sweetie

"Why are you limping?" my man inquired this morning.
I explained that I wanted to beat my 5k time on the elliptical yesterday and my ankle was objecting today.
"Don't you think you should have a day off?"
"But I'm never going to be thin." I wailed.
"Exactly. Accept it and move on."
Am I weird because I find this hysterically funny?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cheese gives you nightmares

Last night I dreamt I had put cheese in the dishwasher. Orange cheese, which I had previously shaped into spirals and cones and placed on cocktail sticks and skewers. Then, so I wouldn't eat it, I cleared it away into the dishwasher, carefully placing the cheese kebabs upright in the cutlery basket so they wouldn't get damaged.
This is worrying on so many levels:
Firstly, I put cheese into the dishwasher. The new dishwasher. Why would I do that? Why not just through it in the garbage?
Secondly, it was orange cheese. I love cheese but only, for example, the sort of artisanal cheese made by lederhosen-clad goatherds on a hillside in Sicily. That artificially coloured mass-produced stuff? Ugh. That sits right along with pumpkins, carrots and the actor George Hamilton - all lurid shades of orange are kept well away from my kitchen.
Then there's the cheese-shaping aspect. I have absolutely no Martha Stewart tendencies. Cheese is served on an old but impeccably designed wooden Bodum platter, the only adornment a handful of whatever nuts are available at that moment. I don't shape food, I eat it or rather at this moment I avoid it.
This must be my psyche telling me that I am taking this dieting thing too far. Cheese denial. Cheese dreaming. Can sleepwalking refrigerator raiding be far behind?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why I really shouldn't exercise in the company of others

Back to school means the gym is fuller than usual, especially in the mornings. And that means that sometimes there is only one machine free downstairs.
I hate exercising next to people because I make a lot of noise. I grunt and puff and I sing along to my iPod. In short I think I'm really annoying, so what other people think must be much worse. I always try to leave at least two ellpiticals free on either side of me. Today that wasn't possible. The choice was take the free machine or go lift weights without warming up. So I sucked it up and jumped on. Then I noticed that I had inserted myself between ultra-fit man and tireless woman.
This is the other reason I shouldn't exercise with other people. I am horribly competitive. I could not get off the machine until the people on either side had finished. And I had to match their fitness level too. So I set the elliptical at cardio/random, plugged in the iPod and walked.
I figured I was good for thirty-forty minutes, but after twenty it was getting to be really hard work. My lips were fizzing and my legs felt like lead. A normal person would have stopped, tested their BG and taken some dextrose. A stubborn person might have reached into their pocket pulled out the dextrose, and chewed it while exercising. A complete idiot would think: I can't stop now, these people were here before me and they are still going. I'm never going to be fit if I quit.
Luckily, at that point the tireless woman got off and a few minutes later the ultra-fit man started his cooldown. I was now going so slowly I think I was going backwards. I got off and went to test my BG. I was so hypo I could barely read it, but I think it was 36. Oh, shit. I didn't bother with the weight-lifting today and it was nearly 30 minutes before I was fit to drive home.
Well, at least I'm only a danger to myself when I disobey the one free machine on either side rule. Look what could happen if men disobey urinal etiquette.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sick Day Meme

The nice thing about having a rotten, streaming cold is that you have time to watch The View for the first time. (Rosie O'Donnell pretty much runs that show, doesn't she? ) And do memes like these from Sandra

1. Do you still have tonsils?

Yes, I have all my bits intact.

2. Would you bungee jump?

I'd jump before I bungee jumped.

3. If You Could Do Anything In The World For A Living What Would It Be?
A doctor so I could prescribe my own drugs and by-pass that whole waiting room/form filling hell. But as the sight of blood or a scalpel brings on a heaving flop sweat I don't think it'd work out.

4. How many tattoos do you have?

Art goes on the wall not my skin.

5. Your favorite fictional animal?

Pigs rule. Wilbur from Charlotte's Web is lovely but the most memorable is the stalinist Napoleon from George Orwell's Animal Farm.

6. One person that never fails to make you laugh?

My youngest brother. Always the witty riposte

7. Do you consider yourself well organized?

I'm punctual to the second, put things away the moment I've finished with them, make lists and stick to them. That's normal, no?

8. Any Addictions?

I'll admit to Project Runway. Adirondack sparkling water (unflavored).

9. From what news source do you receive the bulk of your news?

The BBC, Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, the huffington post. Progressive, liberal, lefty, socialist, I've been called them all. So, what's wrong with that?

10. Would you rather go to a carnival or circus?

I'd consider going on the pump before I'd go to either.

11. When you were twelve years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Foreign correspondent.

12. Best Movie You've Seen This Year?

Little Miss Sunshine.

13.Favourite alcoholic drink

Gin Martini: Tanqueray Gin, extra dry, ice cold, olives.

14. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

It used to be reach for the coffee, now it's groan. See # 17 and #29

15. Siblings?

Two younger brothers.

16. What is the best thing about your job?

I can work from home. This is also the worst thing about it.

17. Have you ever gone to therapy?

That would mean sitting still for an hour, right? No.
I have had eight sessions of physical therapy on my ankle though. We're getting there.

18. If you could have one superpower what would it be?

I'd love to be able to fly. I could see things from a different perspective. I could visit people and places any moment I chose. And I might bump into Superman up there.

19. Do you own any furniture from Ikea?

Two gorgeous leather sofas from IKEA in Belgium that look like they cost 5x what I paid for them and are still in great condition 10 years later. I also have a sculpture that is sexy and so unIKEA like I can't believe it.

20. Have you ever gone camping?

Almost every year until I came to the US. Now we use hotel points.

21. Gas prices! First thought?

Please, try paying European prices. But don't you think it's ironic they are coming down just before the election?

22. Your favorite cartoon character?
Kenny from South Park. (Oh, my God, they killed Kenny!)

23. What was your first car?

Blue VW Polo.

24. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?

I honestly don't get it. We did it to save taxes. Then the tax laws changed, so we should get divorced. But then I wouldn't have the right to stay in the US. Stupid bureaucratic crap.
However, whatever works for you.

25. The Cosby Show or the Simpsons?

Not much of a choice but The Simpsons if I was pushed.

26. Do you go to church?

To worship? No. To look at architecture? Sure.

27. What famous person would you like to have dinner with?

It'd be a toss-up. Bill Clinton because he would be such an intelligent, entertaining companion or George W Bush so I could get a lot off my chest.

28. What errand/chore do you despise?

Washing the floors. I put it off forever as you can tell be the state of my feet/socks.

29. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?

Don't have an alarm. Have animals instead. First thought? Why are you waking me at 5:08 stupid talking cat?

30. Last time you puked from drinking?

Cinco de Mayo 2005. Just before we were due to get on an early plane to Nashville. Also the last time I drank Margharitas.

31. What is your heritage?

I'm a Celt.

32. Favorite flower?

Calla lily.

33. Disney or Warner Bros?

Please, no more cartoons.

34. What is your best childhood memory?

Hiding in an ice house in the pouring rain.

35. Your favorite potato chip?

Kettle Chips. Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese. Also my secret addiction. Sssshhh.

36. What is your favorite candy?

No candy, only pure milk chocolate, preferably Belgian (used to be called Callebaut but is now Jacky) but I'll take Wholefoods 365 Swiss Milk. Although if they made a candy from butter and salt I'd probably like that. It's a celtic thing.

37. Do you burn or tan?

I'm a Celt. What's tan?

38. Astrological sign?


39. Do you own a gun?

Good grief. The world would be much safer if there were no guns, especially handguns.

40. What do you think of hot dogs?

A cruel and unusual punishment? Bratwurst though, that's real food.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Got to keep sweating

Here's a study I can believe.
Scientists at the University of Alberta found that walking just doesn't kick it if weight loss and getting fit are your goals. You really do have to do some aerobic exercise to achieve that. That's borne out by my own experience.
I sent the link to my man who emailed back that he'd reached that conclusion but hadn't had sufficient motivation to do anything about it yet! I really have no ideas left for spurring him to take up a sport so I'm going to let it slide.
What I really need is a study that tells me exactly how much I have to sweat each day so that I can achieve my ideal weight (that's my ideal weight for me, not some BM index decided by a mathematical formula) and feel fit. Is it a cupful? A bucketful? Or a bathtubful? Or do I only stop when I have dissolved into a large puddle on the gym floor?

Monday, September 25, 2006

I'd better look elsewhere for a gym buddy

After weeks of pleading, nagging, dropping subtle and not-so-subtle hints about the need to take some form of regular exercise, and buying him a new pair of Reeboks as a bribe, I finally persuaded my man to come to the gym with me. After all, I don't see why I have to be the only one exercising my butt off and he is always bemoaning the extra pounds that America has given him.
I had a guest pass good for a week's worth of gym fun and I figured that I could get him there at least a couple of times over the weekend, and with any luck he'd find it fun. I am proud to say that he did give it a try on Saturday morning despite complaining that he had nothing to wear, that he hated the whole "gym ethos", and that he took regular exercise in the form of walking the dogs once a day.
I thought I'd get to the gym and then hand him over to a trainer who could explain the machines but there was no one around to help so it was down to me. I put him on the elliptical while I went to drop my bag and when I returned he had the machine at such a high rate his HR was 150. Of course he thought this was excellent and wouldn't hear of warming up or cooling down. After 10 minutes he started complaining his thighs hurt and he swapped to the treadmill, which he set at an incline of 9 and a speed of 5.6. And he kept pushing the increase buttons. It was him against the machine, and the machine was going down.
After I'd done my 30 minutes cardio I suggested we go do some resistance training for half an hour or so. It was then that I knew that he was never going to the gym again. At least not with me. He just wanted to make those weights go up and down as fast as possible, never mind the risk to his muscles or my nerves as they crashed back to the stack each time. Up and down, faster and faster like the Duracell Bunny on speed.
Eventually he stopped. Covered in sweat and barely able to speak, he indicated he had had enough and was going to sit in the car while I finished my workout. Later he said he had no idea how hard working out could be until he tried it for himself or that he was so unfit but he had no intention of repeating the experience.
I guess I'll be going to the gym alone again this evening.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Maybe it's better if they don't read the medical chart...
I had another physio session last night, this time with a different therapist. She introduced herself and then asked "How long have you had chronic foot pain?" Then she looked at the sole of my foot and says "Where is the pain?"
I lift my leg up and point to the large bump on the heel.
"But is that all? Where else does it hurt? Haven't you got other pains?"
Nope, that's it. Annoying, painful but not yet chronic.
"But I read your chart. I thought with your history you would have had chronic foot pain by now".
Ah. Lightbulb moment. Diabetes =neuropathy.
Sorry to mess with your understanding of diabetes but even though I've been a diabetic for twenty-one years it still hurts if you stand on my toes, I can still tell the difference between hot and cold and that blister I got from overdoing the elliptical the other day in backless trainers (yes, I am that committed to working out/stupid), it hurt like crazy but it healed without a trace in two days.
So far no tingling, burning or numbness. I should be pleased that I've been complication-free but I just felt deflated.
And then I read this: Weightlifting Glaucoma Risk. If the diabetes doesn't cause me to go blind, maybe the exercise regime will.
For some irrational reason that made me feel much better. I'm going for a walk now. I may or may not look both ways before I cross the road.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Physical Therapy

I've had three physio sessions so far and the good news is that the heel looks much better. I get ultrasound, TENS and massage each time (yes, I know, it sounds like prenatal care) and I feel fantastic when I leave.
The bad news is that the physio says my feet are horrible. No neuropathy, but my calf muscle is still like "marble", I have problems with the tendon as well as this bursa, some arthritis, and apparently my feet are only flexible in the opposite direction to most other people! Although I have the bursa on one heel, the therapist judges from my stance that I will probably have some problems there in the future. So I am icing and stretching four times a day and have to keep off the treadmill for the forseeable future. I can, however, keep up the resistance training and swimming. I'll have to find an indoor pool as it's too cold to swim in our pool anymore this season.
I got far more information from the therapists here than from the Orthopaedic Surgeon and they cheerfully answer any questions I have: Is this diabetes related? Is it because I walk badly? Am I just getting old and wearing out? (All the above, except the first, plus a change in exercise and wearing high heels can cause it). The only question they can't answer is how long it will take for this bump to go away completely and all the discomfort with it.
The evil treadmill is probably partly to blame, as is the fact that I tend to wear my trainers until they fall to bits because I am a cheap girl. And in a vain attempt to shed poundage I really upped the training since March. Something had to give, I was hoping it was the fat but it turned out to be the posterior archilles tendon.
The really irony is that through all the stress my BG has never been better. Go figure.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

How to be an effective Orthopaedic Surgeon

Do shake the patient's hand when it is proffered.
Do read the patient's medical notes.
Do reassure the patient that you have had a lot of experience dealing with this particular problem.
Do take the time to answer the patient's questions.

Do not walk in, glance at xray, glance at foot, pronounce:
"Calcaneal Bursitis"
"I treat this with physical therapy"
"Come back in four weeks" and start walking out of the room.
When the patient calls after you "Wait, can I work out with this?" do not yell over your shoulder as you continue down the corridor: "You can't run or jog, so I don't see how you can work out"

Unless you yourself physically treat the patient with physio, then you don't treat the patient, you oversee the treatment.

It cost me only $10 co-pay. I will find out later what it cost my HMO but I waited 90 minutes for a 90 second diagnosis that I had already got off the web a month ago.
I saw the OS a week ago and it has taken that long to recover my temper. One thing is certain, I will not be returning in four weeks.

A quick joke to prove my sense of humour has returned:

How do you hide a dollar bill from an orthopedic surgeon?
Put it in the chart.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Two months on

Yahoo! Avatars

This is what I thought I'd look like after two months of serious cardio and resistance training.

This what I really look like

OK, I exaggerate.
The dog is thinner than I am.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Once they get their hooks into you

I'm being hounded by my personal trainer. After he rang last week to tell me he needed a doctor's note before he could train me I thought I wouldn't hear from him again. Wrong. He phoned on Sunday morning and left a detailed message on the answering machine with multiple phone numbers where he could be reached and this morning he phoned before 8 am. This meant he got to speak to scary phone guy aka my darling husband, who does not like early morning or late evening calls.
It seems PT was concerned that I hadn't been to the gym for a while and wanted to "check in" with me. If he'd checked the computer he might be able to tell I'd been there 5/7 since I got back from Canada just not at times when I might run into him.
Or maybe not, this gym is more expensive than my last but they certainly don't seem to put their money into client databases or any useful software that I can see. He promises to phone me again next week to see what the doctor says about my ankle and to remind me that the special $100 off packages of 50 or 100 PT sessions doesn't expire until 9/30.
Not so much drop a few lbs more drop mega $$$.

Monday, August 28, 2006

How to annoy your friends (and ruin your evening)

We were having dinner with some old friends. The friends, I should clarify, are longstanding rather than elderly. I was telling them about the painful ankle and my female friend said something about having to learn to live with it. My husband said we'd just add it to the list of stuff I have to live with and that's where things went rapidly downhill.
Like what, they wanted to know, like diabetes said my husband, who at this point had decided that he was my spokesperson. Once in a while you have the chance to sit back and see what people think of you, I decided this was one of those times. So I shut the hell up and watched the drama unfold.
The female friend was upset because she thought we had hidden this from them. When I say before every meal we have eaten together over the past ten years "I just have to go shoot up", what did she think I was doing? Did she think I had a bad heroin habit?
Her husband, one of my husband's best friends, was close to tears because his great uncle had died of diabetes. Turns out his relative was ninety-one and this was thirty years ago but it obviously traumatized him. At this point I thought I'd better interject but maybe my comment about being lucky to live nearly two decades past the normal life expectancy wasn't the most diplomatic thing I could have said. For the remainder of the evening he kept holding my hand, and shaking his head. He obviously thought I was about to expire at any moment.
Of course that was the only topic of conversation the whole evening. I actually apologized for not telling them, but although I've never hidden it (I inject at the table, I tell people if I need sugar NOW) I don't introduce myself as "Jane, and I have diabetes." I could only say that I tell people when it comes up and I was amazed they didn't know.
I was completely pissed at my husband who decided that he would stress his role as the martyr in this relationship, having to be aware of food, injections, testing etc. As the one time I let him carry my emergency candy because we were kayacking and he had a zipper pocket in his shorts, he forgot to do up the zipper and, well you can guess the rest.
And then came dessert, which I passed on. Oh, they said, that's why you don't eat desserts, because you are a diabetic. Aaagh. No, that's why I don't tell people, because they would make that assumption and maybe offer to make a "special sugar free" version that I still wouldn't eat.
I'm not sure how this will affect our relationship with this couple. Maybe once they get over the shock we'll be four friends bitching about work and politics and house prices again. Maybe.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Gym Hogs

I'm sneaking into the gym at the moment to avoid the personal trainer. He wants a note from my doctor to say I can work out with my sore heel/ankle. I haven't provided a note to anyone since I started secondary school and forged a get-out-of-gym note:
"Dear Sister Marie-Therese
Please excuse Jane from netball practice today. If she has to play Goal Defense one more time she is going to bounce the ball off someone's head so hard She is not feeling very well.
Jane's Mama"
As I'm not twelve anymore I am doing the mature thing and going to the gym after he has finished his shift.
One thing I've discovered is that different types of people work out at different time. Early morning (when I used to go) is busy with people who work up a sweat. They run on the treadmills and ellipticals and grunt when they lift weights. Now I'm going later I'm running into a whole new (to me) group of people. Those who go to the gym to socialise and even relax.
These are perfectly tanned and toned women (always) who wear cute pink and white shorts and tank tops and who never, ever sweat. I suppose it's quite difficult to work up a sweat when you're predominately using the equipment to rest your butt while you make calls on your cell to arrange the rest of your under-productive life. It's not that they are doing nothing, they are listening to their iPod Shuffle through one ear, while the other is glued to a pink or magenta Razr cellphone. They are usually skimming a magazine at the same time. Multitasking. What they are not doing, is actually using the machine. And I'm noticing because either they are next to me and I can hear their one-sided phone conversation over my iPod or they are occupying the machine I want to use.
My gym isn't cheap but it does include a bunch of services such as a creche for the kids. I wonder if I could suggest they provide a lounge where people could go hang out, read magazines and make calls and thus free up the machines for the people who actually use them?
I don't know if it's the sore foot or the sore muscles but I an aware that I'm getting very intolerant. And cellphones in cinemas, restaurants and gyms are top of my rage list right now. Maybe I should try yoga to help me relax. They wouldn't use cellphones in a yoga class, would they?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Instant Internet Diagnosis

Frustrated by the thought of waiting another three weeks for a diagnosis of the ankle/heel pain I did a little web research last night. What a fascinating hour can be spent by typing "ankle/heel pain" into google and trawling through the results.
I rejected gout because the pain hasn't flared up and gone away but gradually increased. I also rejected it because the cure involves giving up beef, shrimp and most importantly alcohol and it's the gin martini that is getting me through this at the moment.
I also rejected arthritis because it hasn't behaved like the arthritis in my wrists or hands: it's just one ankle and the lump is red and tender. The ones on my hands don't hurt, it's the joint itself that hurts and the lumps are symmetrical. Likewise I dismissed tendonitis because that is supposed to flare up and, in most cases, disappear after a couple of weeks, and because of the nasty hard lump. I liked bursitis better, well actually I hated it but it seemed a better diagnosis. And then I found this article and it was a perfect match for my symptoms. The clincher was this sentence: "Another possible contributor to Haglund's deformity is a tendency to walk on the outside of the heel."
Always, all my walking life. When I was a toddler I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon and one of my earliest memories is walking up and down his huge mahogany desk so he could examine the way my foot "rolled". My other early recollections involve falling down flights of stairs because I couldn't bend my leg in the steel calipers he had prescribed. Eventually my mother decreed that given the choice between a child that couldn't walk straight and one that was brain damaged due to the number of times she knocked myself out falling down the stairs, she'd take the deformed child. After that it was a dozen years of built-up shoes to try and correct the problem. Hey Mom, I think you wasted your money!
Of course, I'll wait and see what the doctor says but I pretty sure even if the diagnosis is different the cure will be the same. I already ice it (although not 20 minutes out of each waking hour, I mean I have a life to get on with) I've been using the heel inserts and lifts for a month now, and stretching and Advil are part of the daily routine. I guess what remains is physio and ultrasound. I certainly won't be going down the cast and surgery route if I can help it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Limping Along

Just when you think things are going along swimmingly someone pulls the plug. That's what happened this week while on an enforced but very pleasant vacation in Canada. One day I'm happily walking around the Vancouver seawall from Gastown to Stanley Park and the next I'm hopping on one foot because the pain in my ankle is excrutiating.
Of course there was no public transport and no taxis at that point so I hobbled the last kilometre or so. And then being an extremely cheap type, I refused to take a taxi the few blocks back to the hotel. So I hopped and hobbled and wimped until we got back and received zero sympathy from the husband who was mad because I wouldn't let him get a cab. A bucket of ice later I examined the foot and there seems to be a large, hard lump on the back of the heel at ankle height and it hurts like crazy.
Full disclosure: the heel/ankle has been making me aware of its existence for a while now but I thought diet and exercise would fix it. It gave me grief in Boston because we were walking a lot so I wore trainers all the time but once I put my stilletos on, the tenderness disappeared. I stretched it and iced it and if I walked around on my tiptoes I didn't know I had a problem. How's that for denial?
Well, now I'm back and I dragged myself to the doctor with my diagnosis: plantar fasciitis and he wasn't impressed. He thought it too high on the foot for that and sent me for an xray. The xray revealed no broken bones or fractures but did indicate evidence of an old injury. What? Did I break something and not notice? How old an injury? Maybe when I was in my bassinet. I sure don't recall anything.
I have an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon in September. I'm hoping it will resolve itself before then. I can deal with the pain but not with filling out another bunch of forms and signing one of those "privacy notices".

Friday, August 11, 2006

Citrus Shrimp

I made this for supper yesterday, it was so easy and delicious I thought I'd share. (The recipe, not the food - that's long gone). It was totally my own invention as I was trying to use up the stuff in the refrigerator before we go out of town.

Citrus Shrimp
Half a packet of frozen shrimp
1 lime
Half a lemon
1 tbls orange juice
Shake tabasco
Salt and Pepper
3 tbls V8 juice (low sodium)
2 tbls chili oil with garlic (or olive oil, a shake of dried chili flakes and I clove garlic, crushed)
Half a vidalia onion sliced
Half a tomato

An hour before you want to eat take the shrimp from the deep freeze and lay in a shallow dish. Cut lime in half and squeeze over shrimp. Put limes in with shrimp (adds extra flavour). Squeeze lemon over prawns. Add orange juice. Give a shake of tabasco (three to five drops depending on how spicy you like your food). Season with salt and pepper. Place somewhere cool for an hour. The juice will "cook" the shrimp.
After 45 minutes heat the chili oil and saute onion until soft and lightly brown. Drain shrimp and pour marinade into pan with onions. Discard lime. Add V8 juice and tomato to marinade mix. Cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes.
Throw the shrimp into the hot sauce and cook two or three minutes. Serves two greedy people or three with normal appetites.
Serve with rice and a green salad.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What about the insulin?

The latest terror threat means that international flying is going to be extremely trying for a while. The media is reporting that no liquids will be allowed on flights, except in checked baggage, and a reporter said the TSA screeners had confiscated her eyeliner.
I have to fly to Canada on Saturday (another year, another visa in the passport) and I'm wondering if I can carry on my Lantus and my Humalog pens. I normally don't let them out of my sight because no one can guarantee that both myself and my luggage will arrive at the same place at the same time.
Even during the extreme airport security after 9/11 no one stopped me carrying a pack of syringes. When I asked what I should with the sharp objects I was carrying, the check-in attendant told me to hand them to the screeners and they would ensure that I would be given them back on the plane. That made zero sense to me. If I was planning to take out someone with a syringe full of insulin, I would surely be doing that on the plane, not in the airport terminal. Then it occurred to me that they would stand over me while I took my shot and then confiscate my stuff for the rest of the flight. I didn't fancy that idea either. In the event the screeners searched my hand luggage and didn't say a word about the pen or the syringes and I never asked the question again.
I guess I'll just make sure that I have the prescription slip for the insulins with me and hope for the best. And I'll pack my liquid eyeliner in the check-in bag.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Of course you can

Finally after I had left messages on every voicemail at the endocrinologist's office I got a call back. They wanted to know how many testing strips I needed. As the number times I test a day depends on
i) what I'm doing
ii) what my last BG result was
iii) how I'm feeling: low, high or just plain weird
iv) my mood: can I be bothered to test or should I just wing it
the number of test strips I go through per day varies from a couple to ten. I guestimated eight which is what we applied for last time and the insurance paid for no questions asked. The nurse was about to call the Rx through when I reminded her I hadn't had my bloodwork results yet.
Well score for me 'cos the A1c was down another .5, making a drop of 2.8 since February. Pretty cool, I thought, because I live in fantasy land where the magic number is <7. Apparently in the new real world the number to aim for is <6.5. Is this like when they raised the perfect score on the SATs to 1600 making those who took the exam years ago look stupid? Or when the medical profession dropped the LDL for diabetics to <70 and I became a bad person who needed another drug overnight?
Obviously I'd like it to be <5.9 but that isn't going to happen. So <6.5? If I can get it there without keeping my control so tight I go hypo every day, and without huge swings in the amount of glucose running around my bloodstream, I will. But a word of encouragement wouldn't have gone amiss.

Please can I get my results?

It's a week since my last endo appointment and I've been trying to pick up my results since Friday. I've been leaving messages on their answerphone (press 20 for the results service) and at the switchboard but no one phoned me back. Then yesterday afternoon I phoned the refill service (5) and left a list of meds I needed. This morning they left me a message to say they had a couple of questions. I'm going out of town on Saturday so I want to make sure I have adequate meds. I have phoned back five times (extension 11) but no-one is picking up. I'd go to my PCP but his office is shut for a week.
I guess I have to sit on the phone and call every five minutes until I get a real live human being. I wonder what would happen if I had a medical emergency? I certainly wouldn't bother if I had a casual query.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Training myself

The third of my reduced price personal training package was early this morning and I've learnt another thing. My right upper arm is much stronger than my left. The Trainer is keen that I work both sides equally so I'd don't exacerbate the problem, which means that, at the moment, I'm working well inside my comfort level on one side while the other arm hurts like crazy.
Since I gave up doing stomach shots a while ago I seem to have used my left arm as a Humalog pin cushion. Actually, more of a bullseye. I do the Lantus injection in different places on my upper legs every evening, but without giving it any thought I jam the pen needle in the same spot in my arm three times a day. I have definitely bruised the muscle.
So from now on I will make an effort to switch arms as well vary the injection site on each arm. That's in addition to figuring out the carb ratio and correction bolus. I think maybe I need a diabetes personal trainer as well.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Not depressed, just paranoid

I love (note the sarcasm) filling out forms. Especially the ones sent by my Health Insurance Provider. Especially the ones that are targeted at me, a person with diabetes. Especially when the questionnaire is being read to me over the phone by my Healthcare Provider.
Generally if asked, I describe my health as good. Sometimes I am then asked to list any other conditions or illnesses that I have and I usually get the giggles at some point and clarify my first comment with "Well generally good, taking into account the chronic, life-threatening nature of these conditions." Most people laugh along but my health provider has been taking Diabetes and Depression very seriously so they followed up with a whole bunch of questions like "Do I ever feel sad?" "Do I get depressed?" I have a real hard time answering these because I don't think they are asking the right questions. I mean I felt sad when my cat died. I feel depressed when I look at the situation in the Near/Middle East or when I can't come up with a answer to the healthcare crisis in this country that doesn't involve the words "Universal Healthcare".
Somehow I don't think that's what the health insurance people had in mind. But I am leery of answering yes to these questions because I fear someone will tick a box on my records that suggests that I suffer from depression and that will form part of a database that one day will be published showing that 98% of people with diabetes suffer from depression.
So I always answer no to these questions. Which leads me to a new fear, that there is a box on the paper that says "Is this person an unfeeling, uncaring bitch?" and where there will be a check next to my name.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blame Game?

Introductions at a party:

Friend: "This is X, she's a diabetes educator"
"This is Jane, she has diabetes"

Diabetes Educator: "Type I, I hope"

Me: "???????"

Type I, I hope! What the heck does that mean? Did she mean a lifetime of insulin shots is preferable to pills? Or does she think that Type II diabetes is just a result of poor lifestyle choices?
Of course what I should have replied was "Diabetes educator? Medical doctor, I hope". But I'm not that obnoxious.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not so much a breeze, more a complete washout

I finally overcame my antipathy to the surprise package this morning, at least enough to open the carton and check out the meter. But first I did a little research on Bayer Healthcare's website.
Here's the claim:
Studies show the new Ascensia® BREEZE® meter is preferred by patients and professionals: Ascensia(TM) BREEZE(TM)
And here's their data to back that up:
* 9 out of 10 healthcare professionals and patients say that the Ascensia® BREEZE® system fulfills a need in blood glucose monitoring
* 3 out of 4 patients were successful running a test with the Ascensia® BREEZE® system the first time
* 2 out of 3 people would recommend or switch to the Ascensia® BREEZE® system for its effortless handling

Well that sounds great, but a closer examination of the website and a thorough testing of the meter reveal a few problems.
Claim #1: 9/10 say the system fulfills a need. I'm sure it does. It takes a sample of blood and displays its glucose level. Sometimes that's all I need to know. But both my healthcare professionals and myself are looking for a little more information here. Like whether I had been exercising before the reading, how many carbs I had eaten before the last reading, how many I ate after, if I had been ill. This meter tells me the date and time and BG and that's it. Everything else I have to record in a logbook. How very 1980s. What's worse is the length of time that it takes to deliver the reading - 30 seconds. I could go crazy waiting. Meters have been getting faster, I could trade up to one that delivers the number in three seconds. Why would I trade down?
The second claim that 3/4 patients successfully ran a test the first time? It took me three goes. The machine is bigger than the one I'm used to and much more difficult to handle. I actually dropped it the first time I tried to use it.
The Breeze came with a wheel of 10 strips. I have had two correct readings out of six strips. Maybe I am very clumsy, maybe its the arthritis but, wait a minute, "the Ascensia® BREEZE® is so easy, it's the first meter to earn the Arthritis Foundation's Ease-of-Use Commendation". So it must be me.
Claim #3: 2/3 patients would swap their machine for this. Not this patient. This is a cheap feeling, flimsy, basic machine. It stores only 100 readings. My Lifescan Ultrasmart allows for 7, 14, 30, 60 and 90 day averages, by times of day in numeric or graph form. My Ultrasmart lets me test on my arm as well as finger. If I wanted to do that with the Breeze I would have to buy an alternative lancing device, although Bayer will kindlt reimburse $25 of the cost.
And here's my final worry about the accuracy and rigour of Bayer's data collection methods from their website "Based on interim results from Asecia Breeze evaulation tial. Final results may vary.". I want to know what this machine was preferred over. Urine testing perhaps?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Surprise Package

When I got home this evening there was a package for me. I wasn't expecting anything and there was no identifying logo on the box so I couldn't imagine what it was. I had to fight off dearly beloved who loves surprises much more than I do and eventually got the box open.
Guess what it was? An Ascensia Breeze BG Meter. Not something I had ordered although from the generic letter that was enclosed in the package my better half thought I had been hammering the Visa card again.

Now, nicer people than me would probably be delighted to receive a free meter in the mail but it kind of freaked me out. I don't really like surprises at all and when it comes to shopping I like to research everything, weigh up the pros and cons and ruminate for a while before making a decision. So this may be the meter I would have chosen for myself if I was shopping for a new one but I wouldn't know. I really had no reason to search out a new meter as my Lifescan Ultra has all my data on it and is working perfectly well at the moment.
But what really freaks me out is that I have no clue who ordered this for me. It came directly from Bayer HealthCare so there is a 1800 number and I could phone them and find out, but do I really want to waste time dealing with Customer Service? Would they be able to tell me anyway? Could it have been my endo who arranged for it? I was at her office today and she didn't say anything and my last endo had me buy two meters with cold, hard cash so I wouldn't have thought so. My health insurance? If they are sharing my details with Bayer I'd prefer to know in advance.
Hubby muttered something about gift horses' mouths but quickly shut up when he saw the look on my face. He then suggested I put it back in the box and store it in a drawer. Yep, that might work with a more rational less suspicious person.
What should be a good thing has turned me into a paranoid freak and I'm not sure what to do about it. I haven't been this weirded out since I found a piece of rawhide on the doorstep and thought someone was trying to poison my dog.
Any thoughts, anyone?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I made the PT sick

When I got to the gym for my personal training session I found that the PT had gone to the hospital with a migraine so my session had been cancelled. I did get someone else to help me and I have been comped another session but I'm not sure what's going to happen in the future. The PT was supposed to phone me to set up another session but hasn't and I don't want to phone the PT in case she's really sick.
I'm not going to worry about it for now as I'm off to Boston for a little vacation. I can't wait. I've been practising dropping my r in car, bar and park. Chowdah will be eaten, lobster too I should think. Cape Codders may be sipped.
And the hotel has a gym so I don't doubt I will be falling off the equipment there, too. Can't let a holiday get in the way of the fitness regime.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Personal trainers kick ass

and thighs, abs, arms and pinkies too. Everything hurts. Really, really hurts. And I'm not joking about the pinkie. I'm back to typing with two fingers on one hand.
Have I been too easy on myself at the gym? Oh yes. 45 lb leg press? That's for kiddies. 60 lb is for wuzzes. 100 lb is where the personal trainer started me because I have nice, strong legs.
Yeah. By the end of the session the nice, strong legs were shaking. You recall the scene from Bridget Jones where Renee Zellweger gets off the exercise bicycle and falls to the ground? That was me.
After 30 minutes lifting and pressing the PT suggested 15 minutes on the elliptical, The only obstacle between the machine and me was two flights of stairs. How bad does it look when you have to crawl downstairs at a gym? I was sweating too much too care. After the elliptical I was pretty much a pathetic pool on the floor.
Today is a rest day. Tomorrow more training.
I will be fit and strong. If it kills me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

How about them apples?

A couple of months ago (Memorial Day weekend to be precise) I was buying cleaning supplies in a big supermarket, rather than the wholefoods place I usually shop in. I needed some flowers to cheer up the kitchen but there wasn't a great choice. Then I spotted a huge bag of green apples for $1.99. That's way less than flowers would cost and I do love a bargain, and I figured the green would look pretty punchy on the island.
I emptied them into a glass bowl and there they've sat ever since. I've stopped family and friends from eating them, steering them to the organic apples in the refrigerator. Every week or so I flick a cloth across them. And I've turned them once to make sure there is no rot starting as they are pretty closely packed in there.
The thing is, they are right above the cooktop and everything else I've placed there: lemons, limes, oranges and even other apples, has started to decay after a week or so. The other weird thing is that they have absolutely no smell. They could even be fake fruit, I have no intention of biting into one to find out.
I'm wondering what they have been sprayed with, would it be safe to eat? If I get hold of some and spray it on me would it halt the aging process? I'm also intrigued to know how long they can possibly last. So we are currently taking bets. I think they'll last until the visitors leave the beginning of August. Others are betting on Labor Day and Thanksgiving. One person who knows me well is betting I'll get bored with them and pitch them before they decompose.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Does Exercise Boost Metabolism?

If you read Health and Sports magazines you would think so. The hypothesis is that exercise benefits you while you are doing it and hours later. But is there evidence to support the theory? Based on my past exercise history I'd have to say no.
I don't think I've ever not taken some form of daily physical activity although it's varied greatly in its intensity. I've always walked, at least two thirty minute walks a day with the dogs, swum and stretched. I don't think of this as "exercise" more part of my routine.
Then there is the part I consider real exercise. The stuff that raises the heart rate and makes the muscles ache. That's the kind of exercise that's supposed to raise my Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) so I'll continue to expend energy even after I've stopped the activity. I wish exercise would increase my RMR and help me lose weight. It didn't do it when I was on the school swim team. It didn't do it when I took aerobics classes, step classes or yoga. At my last gym you got weighed when you joined and monthly after that. I was the only person who managed to lose not one pound for the entire time I was there. They didn't believe it. Sadly I did. Been there, done that.
I did a little research because I am convinced I'm not the only person who doesn't lose weight on an exercise regime. Chris Melby, Dr.P.H. writing for the American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM Fit Society® reproduced in Sports Medicine suggests that I'm right. Most of the benefit comes while exercising and the effort put in by the typical gym-goer will not result in substantial changes in RMR. Another article in Peak Performance has even more bad news. Studies report that for some people, exercise may actually lower metabolic rate and it's gender specific too. Women experience less benefit than men because we are more effecient at conserving energy. And for me, as a person with diabetes, when I do get some delayed energy expenditure it sends me hypo so I have to eat to survive. Calories out balanced by calories in = negative weight loss.
That's why I want to work with a personal trainer this time. Maybe I've been doing it wrong all these years, or maybe I just need to do more. I want to increase the intensity of the weight training while controlling extra calorie intake and avoiding hypos. I hope I can also lose some weight but I'll be pleased if I just increase my strength, flexibility and sense of well-being.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fitness Programme Part III Week I

I've been to the gym twice this week and I haven't had a personal training session yet. Won't get one until next Monday in fact. This slightly bums me out as I'm not sure I'm getting the most out of the equipment. It's different from my last gym where all the apparatus was resistance - the more you put in the harder the body worked. This is all weights and I don't know if I should be pushing 10, 23 or 40 kg. I've taken to putting the bolt in the second slot and hoping for the best.
On Monday my arms hurt so much I couldn't type but my legs felt great, however I didn't get that nice rush afterwards. The guy at the gym told me to only do three times a week so I went again today and pushed the legs a bit more - used the treadmill for longer to warm up and the step walker to cool down and felt like I'd had more of a work out. At the last place I went at least five days a week, sometimes six because I felt if I missed a day I might never go back. And that is just what happened. (I actually hate exercising but I love the feeling I get after I've done it).
On the good side BG before exercising 125, after 115. On the bad side I had to consume two Graham crackers to keep it there. So calories burnt maybe 200, calories consumed probably 250.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mission Fitness Part III

Part one was increasing the daily walking, part two was unearthing the evil running machine from the cobwebs in the basement and actually using it, part three started this morning when I joined a new gym.
My plan was to try put all the gyms in town, pick one I liked that was easy to park at, not full of super fit bodies and not outrageously expensive. This has been my plan for months. It was a great plan but hadn't accomplished anything except a vague feeling of guilt every time I drove by a gym on the way to get a Starbucks.
This morning I woke up stiff from doing nothing more strenuous than carrying shopping bags around the Mall for a few hours and I knew I had to do something. It was time to put the plan into action. The gym I tried was completely scary and intimidating, lots of fit bodies running on treadmills and using the step machines, but upstairs in the weight room it was calmer and after I'd been introduced to the machines I felt better.
Anyway I thought I'd messed around for long enough so I joined for two years and signed up for four personal training sessions. How's that for commitment?
I was so unused to any real exercise that BG went from 179 to 68 in thirty minutes. I guess I'll have to plan snacks and testing really careful until I get into the swing of things.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Well, yeah

A new UK report suggests that Infections may cause Diabetes. No kidding. I thought this was proven years ago. I can't count the number of people with diabetes I've met who have stories like "My sisters caught chicken pox and I got diabetes" or "I thought it was a virus but then I was thirsty all the time".
For me I swear it was the flu. I got a dose of influenza. The real stuff that hits you at the back of the neck with a fifty pound iron weight and leaves you to rot for a week, and then robs you of any energy for the next three weeks. The kind that kills healthy twenty year olds, not the snivelly cold that everyone gets once a year and is incorrectly labeled as flu. I have never felt so bad in my life, and when it was over and I could stand upright again without shaking, I found I could drink and drink and never assuage the thirst.
So I'm really not surprised that infection plays a part and I truly hope that this research helps them to get another step closer to finding a cure, but it seems to me that its taking way longer than it should and I'm not holding my breath here.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Injection sites

Is there anywhere I can't inject? Latest rise to a technical challenge - in a bar, by candlelight, balanced on a stool.
I would have preferred to do this discreetly at a table but we'd left our reservation too late and the Jill Sobule concert at Joe's Pub was sold out. I guess I could have gone to the restroom but that's a trek and pretty gross, and after the great hypo incident I prefer to actually order the food and count the carbs rather than guess from the menu. (Evil tiny cute rolls).
I had to count the clicks on my Pen because it was too dark to see and avoid the people jogging my elbow while injecting but mission was successfully accomplished and the concert rocked too.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Warning signs

One of the things I love about having diabetes are those pesky hypos in the middle of the night. Like last night. I thought it was the cat's purring that had woken me up and I tried to get her to shut up (in the nicest possible way of course) but I was aware that something wasn't right. One, I was still awake, two, I was hungry, three, I felt odd and the clincher: I could read the display on the clock without my glasses, a feat I can normally only accomplish by squinting really well.
What I don't understand is why sometimes the warning signs are subtle, sometimes I get increased vision, sometimes I can't see at all, and sometimes they are horribly obvious i.e. the full-on shakes and sweats incident. The lowness of the BG doesn't seem to have any effect on the severity of the symptoms, I can feel hungry at 43 and 27, I can get flashy lights in my eyes at those numbers too. And no, alcohol doesn't play any part in what kind of hypo warning signs I get or how severe they might be.
What I don't want in the middle of the night though, is to wake up, work out why I've woken up, deal with the hypo in whatever shape it comes and then go back to bed. I just want to roll over and go back to sleep. And I definitely don't want to have to feed at that time.
So if anyone knows of a magic excess insulin sucking up device that I could just stick in my body at the first sign of low BG could they send me details? Thanks.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Not prepared for the big one

The hurricane that is. According to a mail from my insurance company the north east of the US is overdue for a major hurricane. They sent out a Hurricane Preparedness List so we could put together a kit.

Water - at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
Food - at least enough for 3 to 7 days
— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
— foods for infants or the elderly
— snack foods
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools / fuel
— paper plates / plastic utensils
Blankets / Pillows, etc.
Clothing - seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
Special Items - for babies and the elderly
Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
Flashlight / Batteries
Radio - Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
Telephones - Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards - Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
Toys, Books and Games
Important documents - in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
Tools - keep a set with you during the storm
Vehicle fuel tanks filled

Pet care items
— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash

A quick check of the items revealed that we are woefully ill prepared for a disaster of any kind. I am almost out of all medicines (a trip to the pharmacy is on the agenda for this weekend). We have a bunch of flashlights, none of which functions, the only cash I have is small bills - five ones and a five dollar bill. We don't possess either a traditional phone or a battery-operated radio and my car has almost no fuel in it. And what is that "keys" item? We have one set of keys for the house and the cars - that's what we use on a daily basis. We also have a spare set. And tools, am I supposed to have two sets of tools?
Never mind. I have all the pet care items except for the muzzle. And I have discovered the perfect packaged food that doesn't even require a can-opener. Low-carb, ready-to-eat, preservative-free, vegetarian Indian food you can heat in a pan or a microwave. Eat it with rice, or with grilled chicken, as a side to Rogan Josh or straight out of the pan with a spoon, it's comfort food that tastes delicious. Just what I'll need if the hurricane comes.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Can't Live Without It

I'm currently reading Judith Levine's Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping an account of a year spent buying only essential items. She begins by making a list of those items that she cannot function without. Her cat is diabetic so insulin is on the essential list. But other items, more life enhancing than absolutely necessary, make the "can't live without it" list.
That prompted me to think about what I consider "essential" to my life on this planet, and later I started to compose an essential shopping list for this weekend. Here it is in all its hedonistic, alcoholic glory.

shopping list

Don't judge me too harshly, Levine's last purchase before giving up consumerism was a concrete baby elephant from Red Envelope.
Apart from insulin and related items like syringes (not much point in having insulin if you can't find a way to get it into your body) and your loved ones, what are your "must haves" to sustain body and soul, if not for twelve months then at least for the next weekend?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Rollercoaster weekend

Another one of those weekends.
Saturday: Woke at 3 am feeling low. Staggered downstairs, found meter, 43, swallowed 20 cl orange juice, ate a graham cracker, staggered back to bed.
Woke at 7 am. BG 71. Calculated breakfast, allowing for lower glucose reading.
Ate breakfast.
Walked dogs on beach for an hour. BG 117. Hurrah.
Cleaned house. BG 54. Ate another graham cracker, washed down with coffee.
Played with my new "toy": a virtual kitchen planner by IKEA that allows me to see in 3D and color what my kitchen will look like when I have saved the money/won the lottery. Stop playing when I feel really, really hungry.
Lunch. BG 57. In view of low BG, eat Wholefoods prepared Macaroni Cheese. Regret it 30 minutes later when stomach ache starts.
Clean the pool, Swim in pool. Float in pool. Lounge by pool reading. Stomach still aching.
5 pm. BG 297. What?? Correct with bolus.
7 pm dinner date with sweetie. Cocktail in restaurant bar. Vodka tastes weird so I eat the olives and drink about a third of the martini.
8 pm our table is ready. Bartender offers to bring remainder of now very warm martini to the table, I decline. It's hot so I opt for 6 oysters and steamed lobster. Take insulin. Eat cute, tiny bread roll. Listen to conversation at next table about numerology. Restrain sweetie from correcting the assertions made about the number seven. Oysters are served with pickled ginger and Japanese seaweed. Hope insulin sufficient to cope with sugar in dressing. Pass on the wine as I'm still feeling a little odd and it's hot. Drink an entire litre of sparkling water though.
Lobster arrives with corn on the cob placed vertical between lobster claws like some phallic totem pole. Pass this to sweetie as I don't like corn. Wrestle lobster. Cover hair, face and wall behind with lobster juice, manage not to get any on attractive plastic bib! Woman at next table starts to tell her table about her special spoon. Kick husband under table as he is frankly staring open-mouthed. Husband returns attention to date and asks "would you like my potatoes?"
I've known him long enough that I can crack the secret code. "Am I white?" "A bit" he says. Before I can reach for the potatoes or the meter in my bag, I am hit by the worst, most devastating hypo of my diabetic life. Sweat is pouring off me, I am sure I am going to pass out or throw up. Sweetie has his hand in the air and orders an OJ asap, please, and the bus boy leaps in to remove out plates. Sweetie waves him off, because I hadn't finished and he thought I might come back to it or because if I was going to be sick the bowl for the lobster shell might come in handy? I don't know but the OJ arrives and he gives the waiter his credit card and asks for the bill so I'm guessing it was the latter.
I slurp the OJ, and chase it down with more water. Hubby gets up and kneels by me. Maitre d' brings check, credit card already swiped and asks if he can do "anything, whatever you need".
Eventually I feel like I can walk to the block to the car. Table next door still discussing numbers 666 and 7. Outside where it is cooler, I start to feel better. "OK", I say to my angel, "can't go there again for a while. Was everyone staring?" "They never noticed, if they did they probably thought I was proposing to you". Such a sweetie.
Make it home and into bed feeling like I have been sandbagged.
Woke up Sunday morning. BG 340. Felt like crap and I never found out what the woman at the next table used her magic spoon for.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oh Canada!

A propos to my previous post, I made an interesting discovery while eating breakfast this morning. All the products I like: Liberty yoghurt, Wholefoods All Natural Peanut Butter and Glutino flax crackers are all made in Canada, even though the milk for the yoghurt comes from good old Vermont cows.
Canada is a bit far for a weekly shopping trip, maybe I should consider moving there? Maybe they have decent bread? Maybe I should stop being a label-reading obsessive?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sugar, sugar everywhere

Just back from a rip to the supermarket and another full blown rant is going to be unleashed. You have been warned.
I have a weird type of diabetes. If I go into a big supermarket chain, Super Stop and Shop, for instance here in the US, or Tesco in the UK, or the Hypermarché Carrefour in Belgium, I manage to push my cart around only half the store before I see flashing lights before my eyes, or worse, the world goes dark. I've never actually passed out but it always brings the shopping expedition to a rapid end. I can't tell you how many times I've been forced to abandon a semi-full cart in the middle of an aisle. I think it has something to do with the lights or maybe my brain suffers overload from the apparent excess of breakfast cereals, which, when you examine it, consists of twenty boxes of the same damn cereal and never the one you actually want. Whatever it is I have learnt that the stuff I want isn't sold in these stores anyway or when it is, it's more expensive.
That's why I shop in the "natural" food supermarkets like Wholefoods. And it's fine when I want hormone free beef or chicken and organic vegetables but when it comes to a simple loaf of bread I'm stymied. I pick up one and read the ingredients: corn syrup, fructose, 3g of sugar per serving. What the hell? After I 've rejected the third loaf, I'm usually on the verge of a total meltdown. "Why?" I mutter to myself, "why would you put so much sugar in bread?" It doesn't make it taste better and it makes it much more difficult for me to bolus. I’m shopping in a store that’s supposed to promote healthy eating and all the bread comes with a healthy dose of sugar. Grrr.
I'm aware that I'm beginning to sound like the crazy lady but I don't have a sweet tooth and I like my bread to taste like bread. And don't tell me because it doesn't have actual sucrose in it that it's good for me. This is like a good friend, also a diabetic, offering me a glass of orange juice instead of Coke, because "we can drink this, it isn't sweetened". Uh, yeah it is, it's full of natural sugar and I don't think I could ever bolus enough for a full glass of OJ.
So, please, I don't want dried fruit in my bread, I don't want honey sweetened anything thanks, and if I wanted brioche, I'd buy that. I want bread that's made with flour, water, yeast, and a little salt. Is that too much to ask?
Oh, and I discovered today why take-out Indian food in the US pushes my BG to stratospheric limits while in Europe my numbers stay in range. Wholefoods, like a lot of Indian restaurants here, adapt recipes to local taste and add cane sugar to their dishes. And they don't even tell you how much sugar they're putting in there. That's just wrong.
So now I've got that off my chest I'm going to make Rogan Josh, and because you stayed with me through the rant I will share with you my favourite recipe, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking.

Rogan Josh
2" fresh ginger, peeled, coarsley chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tbls water
1 2O oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbls olive oil
2 lbs cubed lean lamb
10 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
6 cloves
10 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 onions, peeled, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander seed
2 tsp ground cumin seeds
2 tsp red paprika
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp salt
6 tbls plain yogurt (Do Not use the kind with gelatin in it)
1/4 tsp garam masala
Freshly ground blackpepper

Puree ginger, garlic and 4 tablespoons of water in an electric blender until you have a smooth paste.

Heat oil and brown meat cubes in several batches and set aside. Put the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon into the hot oil and cook until the cloves swell. Add the onions. Cook until the onions turn medium-brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir for 30 seconds. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and the salt. Stir, cook for 30 seconds, then add the browned lamb and any meat juices, the yoghurt and the tomatoes.
Cover, reduce to low heat and simmer for about an hour and a half or until meat is tender. Check that the casserole doesn't dry out, if necessary add a little water.
Just before serving sprinkle with garam masala and black pepper.
Serves 4

And by the way, DO NOT use yoghurt with gelatin in it. Why would you put gelatin in yoghurt anyway?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Another thought

From the past. Prompted by the Cargill advertisement on MSNBC for sugar-free chocolate.
It must have been 1992 or 1993. I was at a support group meeting and a dietician had been invited to answer questions. A study had just been released that suggested diabetics could consume up to 25g of sugar a day with no ill effects so a lot of the questions naturally concerned this matter and whether this represented one or two Belgian chocolates. At some point the dietician got a little cross we weren't heeding her mantra of lean meat, brown bread, green apples and she totally lost it.
She screamed that the study should never have been released, that we would never be able to eat just one chocolate (diabetics apparently have no self-control) and we would all end up getting horrible complications.
We've come a long way from those days. Genuine Belgian praline anyone?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

21st Celebration

Twenty-one years since the diagnosis and I'm in kind of a reflective mood. I'm thinking about what has improved during the intervening years, what's actually worse and what could do with a huge upgrade.
In 1985 Type 1 diabetes was called Juvenile Diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes (IDD) and pork and beef insulin was still being prescribed. But a growing number of people were taking the new "human" insulin, many of whom I seem to recall, blamed it for loss of hypo warning signs. When I was diagnosed, I was more concerned that the human insulin didn't come from actual humans, and when I was reassured that it was manufactured, that I got that rather than animal insulin (I was a recovering vegetarian at that time).
I was taught to use a syringe and told I could either mix the basal Ultratard with the bolus Actrapid or shoot it on its own before bedtime. As I was so befuddled I couldn't cope with mixing the stuff (hugely complicated), I opted for four rather than three shots a day. A little while later I discovered the diabetic nurse (that's the nurse who worked with diabetics and who had juvenile diabetes) used a Novopen and I had to have one. Before I left the office, please.
There was some sort of deal with the purchase of a special meter, buy one get a Novopen free (plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose), so I got a cool Novopen, and I loved it. Everyone thought it was a real pen and people were upset when I told them they could not borrow it. Still it was three shots of Actrapid and one of Ultratard and though I've changed insulins I'm still shooting up at least four times a day. This definitely needs improving.
Eventually the Novopen was replaced by Novopen II, nasty, plasticky beige but with one great feature: you could take your shot and the number remained displayed until you used the pen again. So if you were on a sliding scale and were the forgetful type you could see if you had taken your shot or not. In those days I had to take the shot 30 mins before a meal and I could forget a lot of things in that half-hour. Unfortunately the plastic locking mechanism wasn't very sturdy and the pens broke easily. A few years later and U-40 insulin became U-100 and I had to swap to a Novopen III. That was upgraded and it no longer showed the last number dialed, so I now had to remember if I had had a shot or not. Definitely worse.
Now I have disposable Humalog pens. They are so ugly, much bigger than they need be and no-one is going to mistake them for a Bic. Plus, I feel I'm using up the earth's resources at an alarming rate. What happens to all that plastic?
As for meters, I'm on my fourth. I loved my Glucoscan II so much. It had a huge display, 30 second wait compared to 60 seconds of other meters, it was simple to use, and was slim. It sat in a vinyl wallet, strips on one side in their foil packages, meter, lancets and sticker on the other side. Looked great, worked great.
When it finally died, my parents bought be the AccuCheck meter and I hated that machine with a passion. It was truly the worst designed meter I have ever seen, the size of a brick and an unappetizing generic grey colour. The strips came in a tube and I could never get the top off. I either had to ask someone to help or I wrestle it off with a knife and end up with strips all over the floor and, once or twice, a nasty gash to my finger. It was also so complicated and gave so many false readings I went out and bought myself a new One Touch Ultra.
The improvement here was a five second wait for results and it was tiny. But it didn't do much else. Then the big upgrade to One Touch UltraSmart. I know I've complained about this meter elsewhere, largely because it isn't Mac compatible but there is the facility to record insulin intake and carbs, fats, protein; it gives weekly, monthly and three-monthly averages, it even lets you record doctors' appointments.
What I'd like now is a meter that has a better screen, that comes with a keyboard so I can type in additional information and that wirelessly interfaces with my Mac. Manufacturers are you listening?
I remember the endocrinologist coming to see me while I was in the hospital and telling me two things: it was the best time in history to be diagnosed with diabetes and that there would be a cure within the next ten to twenty years. Well, I think he may have been right on the first one, and a lot of things have got better, especially the advocacy and activism and support of other people with diabetes but as for the second, I'm celebrating twenty-one relatively healthy years living with diabetes but I don't see that a cure is any nearer now than it was then.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The grass is always greener

Ok, it's time for my periodical whine about living in the USA. This time it has been brought about by an email from the US Government telling us that our application for a green card has been received at the Texas office and they will let us know if it has been approved in 400-450 days. As our visa runs out in 49 days we will be stuck waiting for an annual extension visa and unable to travel during that time. Rats.
It's at this time that I start making a pro/con list for living in the US.
On the pro side my worse half has a job here, on the con side I can't officially work until our green card is granted. On the pro side the weather is much better here, on the con: the healthcare system sucks. Big time. Example, sweetie had to go to the emergency room after a work related accident. After a four hour wait he got four stitches, a tetanus shot and a week later a bill for $500. We have health insurance, we are supposed to have a $50 copay. No one asked my husband for it and as he was bleeding freely, he probably didn't think of it. Anway it was a work related incident so he should have to pay $0. Two phone calls to the billing dept of the hospital confirmed that his copay was $0, and he thought it was finished. A week later another bill for $500. followed by a bill for $49:95, a letter from the insurance company to say they had paid $475 and another letter asking him to confirm it was he who had been treated. All that administrative work for what reason? Aaaagh.
And one more con: my doctor in Belgium used to write a scip for spa treatments. Very therapeutic. Apparently that doesn't happen here but I could get unlimited Nexium, Paxil and Ambien. Hum.