Tag: type 1

frankly friday: to glucagon or not (it shouldn’t be a question)

Hello all you happy people.  I’ve got another diabetes issue clanking around my brain lately.  First, let me explain about that funny word in the title…

GLUCAGON- n. (gloo-KA-gon)  Glucagon is a naturally occurring hormone.  It raises blood glucose whenever it falls too low.  …in a REGULAR person, that is.  For us diabetics, we may or may not still secrete some glucagon naturally.  The thing is, if we’ve over-dosed our insulin or had more exercise or stress or missed a meal… we could end up with LOTS more insulin in our bodies than would ever happen normally in a non-diabetic.  So, if that happens, and we still secrete a little glucagon ourselves, it will still not be enough to prevent hypoglycemia.  We will still go severely low and may lose consciousness or even die.  (here is an even better explanation!)

Low blood sugar is SERIOUS!  That’s why you always see a type 1 with tons of snacks or other means of raising blood sugar if necessary.

Yep, this is why most T1Ds carry huge purses (or the guys even carry a bag in the first place!) We have A LOT of stuff to keep with us!

RABBIT TRAIL:  While I’m on this topic, let me just say that it is tough having to treat a medical condition, a potentially deadly medical condition, with food.  Countless type 1’s have been heckled, bullied, scorned, gossiped about…you name it, over this self-preservation method we MUST use.

This is what a lot of people picture when they think of a type 1 needing to “have a snack”… *siiiigh*

Let me explain…let’s say for instance, you are in a roomful of high school students, taking a test perhaps, and you begin to feel your sugar dropping.  The rule of this class, from this teacher, is no candy in class.  The fastest way to counter the impending hypo is to quickly chew up a couple peppermints or glucose tabs or Lifesavers (my fave).  The teacher is aware of your condition (because you informed them, like a good diabetic) but the kids sitting around you may not.  Even if they do, because they don’t know anything about diabetes, they think you are faking, milking it or worse, doing it for spite.  Then there are those times (BTDT too many times!) when you have a substitute OR even a regular teacher who doesn’t understand diabetes and is completely uncooperative or gives you a hard time about treating hypos in or during class.  (remind me to tell you about the middle school teacher I had who had flunked out of med school & insisted on making a major production every time I went low in his class!!   GAH!!)

Then there are those wonderful times when, as an adult…maybe a parent, even, when you have to treat in front of children.  That’s always lovely.  Here… these photos will give you the gist of what I mean:


(thanks, Jimmy Kimmel, for these perfect examples of how kids respond when they think you’re hogging all the candy)

Then you have co-workers and such who will respond this way:


Yeah, no matter how many times you explain, no matter how much info you give them, they STILL don’t get why you have to stop and EAT FOOD and you call it “treatment” or say it’s because you are sick.

That’s the big problem…people don’t see food as “medicine”, they don’t relate food intake with how the body functions.  They don’t get that as type 1 diabetics, we must MANUALLY balance food intake with energy expenditures and insulin dosages.  EVERY DAY.  ALL DAY.  And even while we sleep.  They don’t get that if we have too much insulin (or perhaps overexert or expend too much energy for the nutrients in our bodies) or if we don’t inject insulin according to our food intake, or if we experience an illness (like a cold, people.  A COLD can derail our diabetes!) or excess stress, it can cause all sorts of problems for us simply because we do NOT have a functioning pancreas to do all that thinking for us like everyone else.

deep breath  Sorry…thought I needed to throw that stuff in there.  Heh.

Okay, so back to the glucagon question.  You see, like EVERYTHING ELSE with diabetes, (and most any other illness or disease these days!) medication and supplies are NOT cheap.  With diabetes, there’s a never-ending list of supplies that we need and most of those need to be kept with us, on our person, all the time.  Especially when travelling or any sort of activity where we are away from home.

                                                       just a drop in the bucket

The point to all this is…when trying to decide what to spend our family’s limited funds on, medically speaking, I sometimes have to choose what is absolutely vital over what is not-so-absolutely vital.  Yeah…stinky choices, I know.  So when I have to pick, I must choose my insulin (because without that, I will die) and all the instruments I need to administer the insulin (reservoirs, tubing sets, batteries, alcohol swabs, syringes in case the pump fails) and also testing supplies so I know how to dose the insulin (test strips, lancets, sensors, transmitters and batteries).  Other than those, I also need adequate food supply and foods that can be carried easily, so certain types of snacks and candy and/or glucose tabs or gels.  When figuring all this up, most often, spending another $50 on a glucagon kit, which always has a short shelf-life and will likely expire before I need it (which means it must be thrown away)  becomes an easy “no” and usually a very distant after-thought.

                                                                    The glucagon kit.

Fifty bucks might not be a lot to you, but to us, it’s a small fortune.  I have a REALLY hard time laying out $50 that most often has to be thrown away in a few short months.

However, when you are sitting on a highway in another state with no exits in sight and no way to get off the road (because you’re with the Hubby in his work truck pulling a trailer) and you are popping Lifesavers in your mouth, chewing as fast as you can, drinking a can of Coke and trying to fend off a very aggressive low that feels like it’s threatening to put you under…you begin to feel really stupid about not spending that $50 bucks.  That is, you feel stupid in between your life flashing before your eyes, wondering if you told your kids you loved them enough or hugged your mom the last time you saw her or if your best friends know how much you love them.

I’m not exaggerating.  That’s how it feels when you are close to passing out while your blood sugar is plummeting.  It’s horrible and you do NOT want to experience it.

So what’s a poor diabetic supposed to do?

I honestly don’t know right now.  I mean, if it was just a matter of scrounging up the extra money so I’d have the thing, it wouldn’t be a big deal.  But when it expires so quickly and it’s not every day/week/month or even year that you even need a kit??  It’s hard to know what to do.

However, it’s those times that you never suspect, the times you could never “plan” for, those times when you ~thought~ you planned everything very, very well–when you ate properly, counted all the carbs, dosed exactly as prescribed but STILL everything goes wrong….those are the times you keep a kit for.

How do YOU deal with this?  I have been reading and chatting with folks in the DOC about this and some have great insurance so keeping a good kit isn’t an issue, others speak of never being without several for their children (which would TOTALLY different!  it’s much easier to risk my own life…I’d never be without a kit for one of my children!)   So how do YOU handle this issue?  What do you think should or could be done??  I know making the kits more affordable would be an awesome first step for me.  Even half that price would be helpful.  I don’t understand why insurance doesn’t cover them more than they do since having one of these kits can help me avoid a trip to the ER or worse.

Before we discuss, let me drop this info on you…I know many people, even in my own family, who would shudder at the thought of having to mix a medication and give me an injection in an emergency.  I understand.  Opening a glucagon kit when someone you love is passed out can be intensely scary!  People panic, especially since it has to be mixed, not just drawn out like insulin.  Maybe I’m just way out of the loop on this, but Eli Lilly has an app to show people how to use glucagon!  I’m not sure how this would work, especially if you use a password on your phone (and I think most people do these days!) but there IS an app!!  Look: 


Okay, so let’s dish…what is your stance on the glucagon issue?  Is it hard for you to afford and/or justify purchasing it for yourself?  How do you handle it?

Inquiring minds want to know…


frankly friday: about that cure, though

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole “cure for diabetes” thing.

It’s these kinds of “ads” that mislead & misinform the masses. Argh!

There are really two lines of thought on this for me.  There’s the thing where everyone and their brother tells you about some wacky “cure” — everything from cinnamon to okra water and lots of stuff in between.   Those just irk me most of the time.

After over 40 years of living with T1D, I’ve had TONS of so-called “cures” offered to me and extolled to me by very impassioned and well-meaning folks.

More misleading click-bait. Do you know what honey does to a T1D??!?!!

Most of the time I just smile and let it go.  Yes, it drives me nuts that people, especially those close to me, don’t get that there’s a difference, a HUGE difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes…that type 1 is NOT caused by lifestyle or diet or weight nor can it be reversed or, as yet, cured.  They don’t get that type 1 means “insulin deficient” and type 2 means “insulin resistant”.  They don’t get that while, yes, sometimes people they’ve known with type 2, when it IS caused by lifestyle, can be reversed while other times for other reasons, it cannot.

Seriously? Argh!

They don’t get that diabetes is different than “hypoglycemia” or even that “hypo” isn’t actually a disease but rather a symptom, a passing event that diabetics can have and also non-diabetics can experience if they don’t eat correctly.

I usually let those go unless I see that kind of stuff being pushed on someone who is newly diagnosed or is a care-giver of a type 1.  They don’t always know any better so I normally will either step in while the concerned person is explaining their chosen “cure” or I’ll talk to the other person privately and explain that none of that is remotely true.


Okay, then there is the actual, legitimately possible cures that are in the works.  For YEARS I have heard “there will be a cure for diabetes in 5 to 10 years” and yet, here I am, at the beginning of my 5th decade of living with type 1 with no evidence of this cure.

However…there are some promising improvements to diabetes treatment in the pipelines.  While they are still not “cures”, per se, they are definite steps in the right direction.

While I have an insulin pump, a device that helps me avoid multiple injections each day AND provides an adjustable baseline delivery of insulin (basal rate) throughout the day and night, there are some new devices on the horizon being referred to as artificial, or bionic pancreases.

Genesis, from Pancreum

The Genesis by Pancreum

is the latest one I’ve read about.  There is also this one, the iLet from BetaBionic, that I’ve been reading and hearing about the longest.

The iLet by BetaBionics

This one was, the best I know, the beginning of the idea of putting both insulin and glucagon (essentially, the opposite of insulin) into one device to go beyond what an insulin pump can do in closely controlling blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics.  The idea was born in the mind of a dad, Ed Damiano, who wanted better for his type 1 son, David, who was diagnosed at 11 months when the idea that one day, David would go off to college and not have him or David’s mother there to watch over him.  I guess that would be every D-parent’s nightmare, right?  So Ed began to work on this idea of a better way to regulate blood sugars.  And now, after many years and much effort, the iLet “bionic pancreas” has moved into clinical trials.

That is BEYOND exciting to me!  I mean, yes, it’s NOT a cure, but it would be SO MUCH CLOSER to being able to live a “normal” life for most type 1 diabetics.

If you watch the video linked to Ed’s name up there, you’ll get a bit better understanding of why, since we now have these great insulin pumps and CGMs, we need this new technology to work.  No matter HOW long you live with T1D, there will come a time when something goes wrong.  A set is defective or gets pulled out in your sleep and your sugar goes too high or you forget to bolus, under-bolus or your insulin is bad and you end up hypo or possibly high again.  There is ALWAYS some uncontrollable factor that can really jack you up as a T1.  Stress, unexpected travel, an emergency, sickness, an overtime shift at work, the baby gets colic and won’t sleep, you fight with your spouse… seriously, pretty much ANYthing can affect our blood sugar, so simply having a device that delivers insulin isn’t the best possible answer.  The advent of CGM availability was a BIG step forward, but still, not enough to remove enough ability of variables to mess up one’s levels.  I’m sure a bionic pancreas won’t be the end-all-be-all we all dream about, but I’m hoping it will be another huge step forward and I’m praying that I might be one of the lucky ones who will benefit from it eventually.

In the meantime, c’mon, Cure… we’re still waiting for you!!  Enough of this already!


i’m not dead…but sometimes it’s hard to be sure

Pardon the drama up there, but I’m feelin’ pretty raunchy today.  Not sure what’s up really.  I’m achy and my sinuses are not very happy.  I feel like I have been awake for a week straight.  (but I promise you, I haven’t)  I’ve slept almost all day and nope, I didn’t stay up last night.  I was in bed around 11pm which is pretty normal for me.  I slept fairly sound in spite of my Dex alerting that I was “high” for several hours.  Max never got me up, so I probably slept better than on some nights.

I just have no clue why I’m so worn out and feeling so cuh-rappy other than my night of waiting for a high blood sugar to resolve!

The worst of it lasted for about 4 hours last night.  I bolused for and ate a small bowl of cereal (Rice Chex–yay!) with unsweetened vanilla almond milk earlier in the evening.  Later, I crashed, so I ate another yummy bowl.  (seriously, it had been a few years since I’d indulged in cereal!  it’s one of my faves!)  Slowly, my sugar rose to a good level…and just kept going.

going high on CGM

This isn’t mine.  I didn’t snap it because I hate seeing a jagged line.

Don’t you hate it when your sugar is going up and all you can do is watch…and wait for the insulin to kick in?  Ugh!  I didn’t want to crash myself again, so I tried to refrain from rage-bolusing.  keep calm & don't rage-bolusSo it wasn’t until much later that again, I went low.  Not really crashing, but just gradually getting lower until finally. my alert went off that I was below 60.  I’m sure most of that was due to it being the time of morning I am normally dropping lower slowly like that.

I got up and ate some peanut butter crackers and drank a little juice.  I was so worn out though I just fell back into bed.  I had taken my thyroid medicine a few hours earlier when Tommy went to work and I got up to fix his breakfast.  And now, finally I have taken the rest of my meds, but I just feel so YUCKY!

I’ve been taking my thyroid meds with some vitamin C powder.  Why?  I read that it helps with absorption.  I’m not sure yet if it’s worth the 8 carbs I have to bolus for the powder, but we’ll see when I go back to the endo.  It’d be great if I could get on a lower dose of Synthroid for sure!  Right now, I’m taking 175mcg and 200mcg alternately.  Fun.  (not)

The reason my head feels so crappy is possibly because Friday I met Tommy for lunch at Taco Bell where I got my usual Mexican Pizza combo.  I really should have stopped after the pizza since I was feeling pretty full already, but I didn’t want to waste the tacos that came with it and Tommy was telling me I hadn’t eaten enough (like he knows? argh)  So I ate part of the taco, which had sour cream on it.  I stopped eating when I hit the sour cream, or at least I thought I did.   I knew I’d gotten a little of it, but a teeny bit hadn’t been bothering me.

But oh, boy!  Saturday morning I was a wreck!  I had to drag out the netti pot, I was so stopped up.  And we had planned to go with Corey and Mel to this thing in Bowling Green that day.  It was an attempt to break the Guinness World record for most people simultaneously hanging in hammocks.  I know, kinda weird, but it sounded fun and we originally thought the rest of the kids were going, but a couple of them along with Casey and Tay decided to go to King’s Island instead!  hmph!  Taylor’s birthday was Friday.  I’d been trying all week to get up with her to give a gift to her, but we didn’t get to do that til Sunday because the child has been gone somewhere with somebody every single night/day.  The King’s Island trip was part of her birthday, so we went without them and ended up being a party of 7.

guys in hammocks

the fellas, from bottom to top: there’s the Hubby, Nibs, Cootie & StankyLaigs up top. 🙂


Mel & Maddie

The gals… Bottom to top: Mel & Maddie

We had a good time.  We almost melted in the heat, but it was okay since none of us actually died.  heh  We didn’t break the record.  The event just wasn’t organized very well and that may have been part of it.  We fell almost 200 people short, but they did raise over a thousand dollars for their animal shelter.  I guess it was worth it.  Ha!

Geannie's hammocking legs

Me…trying to swing & get some heat-relief. My SHINS are sweating, people! ACK!

all hands on deck, a helping hand... ha, ha, ha, ha!

I call this one “The helping hands of friendship”… HA! When your long-legged buddy isn’t quite tall enough to triple-hang, you improvise.

See?  In spite of the 100-degree heat, we had fun.  Who couldn’t laugh with this buncha nuts?!

And Mama had a good line most all day, too!  YAY!

good Dex line in 100-degree heat!

Lookin’ good, Dex!

And almost all of us were really cool…  Ha, ha, ha!


Chacos! Our family is really a #chaconation unto itself. We can’t have #summerfun without our #chacos!

So yeah, I have been either busy with stuff or just feeling raunchy or dealing with another issue that I’ll cover in another post and I completely flaked out on last week’s frankly friday.  Sorry, guys.  Heh.  Like there were any of you out there waiting with baited breath, right?  Ha, ha, ha!!

Finally, I’m rocking a fairly steady line hovering in the 140-range.  Thank God!  I hate rollercoaster days!

my roller coaster Dex line over the past 24 hours

This one IS mine. Ugh. Go away, roller coaster!! I need some steady in my life right now! #diabeticprobs

Blessings, y’all!



water: liquid gold for the body

woman drinking water

I guess that’s what was wrong with me yesterday.  Maybe?  I dunno, but I felt like some cow poo yesterday and pretty much just laid in the bed all day.

How sad IS that, y’all???

Actually, there were some extenuating circumstances.  We went riding again Sunday afternoon.  It was perfect weather and so we took the opportunity to ride!  We had stopped to get some lunch on the way home from church, so we just had to change, check the tires and get our water bottles ready.

I ended up going low by the time we’d gone four miles…all of which were downhill.  It wasn’t terribly low: in the sixties, so very manageable.  I suspended my pump and “shot a Gu” (the way Tommy phrases using an energy gel (called GU (goo)) always makes me laugh) drank a little water and started off again.  Gu energy gelsBy the time we were halfway through what ended up being the entire ride (a little over 13 miles) I was feeling terrible!  Just like I couldn’t get any energy even though my sugar had climbed to almost eighty, which is fine for easy riding and I had also taken another Gu by that time with my pump remaining suspended.  I just felt plain ol’ crappy!  Every time I exerted any extra energy at all, for instance, a tiny bit harder pedaling to go up a slight incline, I felt like I was just gonna pass out.  If I did much more than that, I’d actually see stars.

Despite feeling nasty, I actually did better this time.  I made it all the way back home, even pedaling up our continuous incline to the house.  I think that section has been named “Stairway To Heaven” on Strava.  It didn’t dawn on me until I dragged myself out of the bathtub that I was dehydrated!

woman drinking bottle of water Remember, I got dehydrated so bad a few weeks ago that my endo recommended going to the hospital for fluids.  I was already sick that time so I wasn’t sure how much of the yucky feeling was from dehydration, but I now know that was MOST of the reason!  I have never dealt with dehydratioin before in my life!  I had no clue it could make you feel like you’re going to die.  When I stood up out of the tub water, I felt a little woozy.  Not unusual, was my thought, since the water had been as hot as I could stand.  But by the time I had dabbed most of the water off (instead of thoroughly drying like normal) and stumbled from the bathroom to the bed, it hit me about the dehydration.

Infographic on Dehydration

YIKES!  According to this, both times I have felt this way, I was already in “significant” or moderate dehydration!  If I look at the symptoms under “severe”, I realize what a bad state I was in because I also had the respiratory symptoms of rapid pulse and depressed respiration.  Y’all, I had NO CLUE dehydration was so serious!  And what the heck?!   Looking at the “mild” symptoms, I now know why I have been freezing even when the thermostat says it should be very comfortable in the here.

Did you guys KNOW this stuff?!?!?  Wow.  I saw one graphic that said when you feel thirsty, you are ALREADY dehydrated.  I don’t often feel thirsty and I sure didn’t during the bike ride.  It seems my turncoat body just won’t give proper signals in any situation, not just when I’m hypoglycemic!!  pththt

Check out this last one about what a small percentage of dehydration can do to your body:

percentage of dehydration and effects on physical performanceNo wonder it was wiping me out completely to exert the least bit of energy!  I have GOT to learn to recognize the symptoms before I get to the point that I can barely walk.  Honestly, it’s a miracle I even made it up the hills to our house.

I wonder if diabetes makes dehydration worse too?  Do any of you know?  I mean, I wonder if it effects us “harder” or maybe faster for some reason?  More than likely, I have got to feeling SO bad because I was completely unaware of the symptoms.  But you know how it is if you have t1d too, most everything seems to affect us in a more extreme way.  I just wondered if it was true of dehydration as well?

Anyway, that’s sorta why I didn’t post on Monday like normal.  I was wiped all day yesterday too.  I slept most of the day, which makes me feel like a crappy human, but whatcha gonna do?  I’m thankful to feel better today, but I gotta start making an effort to just drink more water.  I feel like I drink a lot of water already, but apparently it’s not enough.  I’m hopeful that if I can combat the dehydration, maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to feel better all the way around!!

I can handle that!

Chime in and let me know your experiences with dehydration!!