Sunday, May 21, 2017

First week with Animas Vibe aka Big Blue

I finally took advantage of the ADP program here in Ontario and now have been in possession of Big Blue .. aka an Animas VIBE and CGM System.  The program pays for all age groups of Type 1 diabetics in the province of Ontario for the pump and $2,500 a year towards pump supplies.  So, no more paying outright for my pump ... and making Visa travel reward miles on the purchase - boo! hoo! The pump warranty is for 5 years rather than the 4, when I would purchase my pump privately, so win win.  So until the pump breaks down, it's my buddy until it's death date of ... get this ... 2040!!!  Unlike my previous pump, a ONE TOUCH Ping aka Ziggy Stardust ... his death date IS December 31, 2022.  I'm still keeping Ziggy, as a back up for holiday until then.  He served me well!  I just wanted to have the pump and CGM integration that the VIBE offers.


A few people have written to me privately, asking me what I think of the Vibe, and after a week of using it, here's my honest thoughts.  I'll keep this as easy to understand as possible.  If it doesn't make sense, comment below and I'll do my best to answer you.

Comparison of Ziggy and Big Blue


  • The pump is a little bit bigger then the ONE TOUCH PING, so the screen is abit larger.  Probably due to housing more hardware inside due to the CGM being incorporated into it.  See below in CONS.
  • When it comes to entering the TOTAL that is shown on your screen when doing an EzCarb or EzBg.  You no longer have to scroll the numbers from 0.  If your TOTAL is showing 3.0 units ... as soon as you touch the OK and the UP BUTTON ... you are at 3.0 instantly.  It is still taking me time to remember this ... since you can rapidly go up to 6.0 in a nanosecond.
  • You have your CGM display available to you.  See below in CONS.
  • You can use any blood meter you want to - which in my case when I was using the 2020 - was FreeStyle Lite which uses the smallest droplet of blood and according to research has better accuracy of many other meters on the market (plus the strips are less expensive - a big factor for me come September when I no longer have work coverage).

CONS or as I call it FAIL:

  • I'm finding the screen keys abit less soft, so you do have to press abit harder.  For someone with arthritis (which I have), it could be problematic in time.  Also, I wonder if the plastic on the buttons is more hardier, since the 2020 and PING seemed to wear down faster.  I never had these problems, but have heard from others who did.  Again, warranty for most people should cover this problem if it occurs.
  • For the CGM ALARM settings -  they suck compare to the DEXCOM Receiver!  You only have options similar to what you use on your insulin pump portion for ALARM settings.  It's annoying as all hell when you're driving, and it's going off on some hissy fit.  Hard to distinguish one from the other.   FAIL!!!
  • Accuracy between the DEXCOM receiver and the VIBE are not as accurate as I thought.  I had started them both off within 5 seconds of each other when booting them off so that Calibration times would coordinate.  The DEXCOM receiver wins hands down.  FAIL!
  • You cannot set the REMINDER time on the PING for HYPO any lower than 30 minutes.  The receiver you can enter in as low as 15.  Not good in my opinion.  This also surprised my CDE's when they witnessed me experiencing a 2.8 while in their office (and I amazed them further by acting the same way ... cool and under control ... actually I was sweating like a pig ... and sadly ... the alarms on the VIBE did not forewarn me of my rapid decline in blood sugar like my DEXCOM receiver does.  FAIL!
  • Too many screens to go though to get to the CGM area.  DEXCOM receiver wins hands down.
  • No ability on the VIBE to enter in Activity or additional Insulin perhaps given by IM for high blood sugar (a no no still in my endo and CDE's eyes ... I swear I have whip marks on my behind from them!!!).  DEXCOM receiver - wins hands down.
  • I am now limited to wearing separates again when it comes to being a Fashionista, no remote for pump entry for blood sugars, and also if you rely on pump soley for CGM reading ... you get it ... I dare you to look at this naughty picture!!

My lust for the ANIMAS Vibe was bigger than my brain!     


If you are with the ONE TOUCH PING ... stick with it.  The only thing that got me into going onto the VIBE was the representative wiggling a carrot in my face at the yearly Insulin Pump meeting in March that all ADP participants have to attend ...  that for only $800 I could get a box of sensors, transmitter, and receiver IF I purchased the VIBE soon (Animas Canada is no longer going to be selling Dexcom supplies as of this summer, so they're getting rid of all their G4 stock).  As many of you know,  I live on handouts of expired sensors, receivers (and I even have a transmitter that may still have life in it from someone who went onto a G5 system) due to paying out of pocket.  Here I was with lust in my eyes for this great deal (as bad as I am when I see a deal in a thrift shop, but this is a life saving article that isn't $2!!).

A week later .... this is how I feel ... blah ... and wishing maybe I'd just stuck with good old Ziggy and his  side kick Stardust (the ONE TOUCH blood meter)  who sucks up alot of blood, but means I don't have to pull my pump out all the time to bolus, look at CGM reading.  Really fun when you're wearing a dress I'm telling you, make sure you are wearing clean, unholey underwear!!) - and if you didn't click on the "naughty" picture in the CONS area ... scroll back up - I double dare you!!

Sigh - I should really be more serious when I write shouldn't I?  Chin up and all that stuff.

Anyhow, I've turned off the CGM on my Big Blue, gone back to the DEXCOM receiver, that I've had for almost 4 years that is still working strong.  I had hoped with the VIBE that I would not have to use it, but I guess I was spoiled by using the receiver, and it works, it notifies me when it's unhappy with me.  Perhaps if I was a newbie to the CGM system on the pump, and had nothing to compare it to, then I'd not be writing this.  I wouldn't know any better.

In hindsight, I should have just waited it out until the end of my ONE TOUCH PING life when perhaps updates could have been made on the programming of the VIBE.  I'm going to contact both my CDE and Animas (they'll be getting a link to this blog) next week to see what we can do.  I'll keep you posted in upcoming blogs on my progress and I hope it's good news.

By Manny Hernandez - 2008 - Hope: Diabetes Supplies Art 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Vampire testing on the fingertips

Okay, kidding aside ... as diabetics ... testing your blood sugar on your finger tips can be abit of a drag at times.  I've been doing this process since home testing was introduced back in the 1980's  (you can read more about the history of these blood sucking devices at David Mendosa's link HERE).  Even with wearing a CGMS (aka Bowie) which many people think means you won't have to do the old finger prick anymore, I still test on average about 6X a day, sometimes more, depending on what is going on in my life.

Recently, a family member of mine was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  Luckily, with the help of their spouse, they're are diligently performing 4 tests a day in order to stay in a good blood sugar range to avoid any complications of high blood sugars.  The one thing they admitted to me the other day, was how much it hurt.  I discovered the "nurse" was pricking the fatty portion of the finger tip, where numerous nerves exist ... that beg <NOT> to be heard when they're mistreated.

Screaming Hands by

I then slowly explained the best way to avoid the pain, by testing on their finger tips, which over the years I've shown nurses how to perform this task on their patients hands.  What better person to show them how to treat their patients, and not have them stop testing when they go back home to deal with diabetes on their own.

I even went as far as to post a few pictures on my Instagram account that you see below, since sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words!   If you've never tried testing on the sides of your finger tips, then give it a go next time, and be rewarded with no pain or scars.

Here's some of my tips to get the best results out of a pain free blood test:

  • Always wash your hands before testing, simple soap and water are fine (alcohol dries out the skin).
  • If your fingertips are cold, rub them gently to warm them up and get better blood circulation.
  • Use your lancing device on the SIDE of your fingertip to get a drop of blood sufficient for test.
  • Then hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood and wait for results 😀 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I finally got inked for Diabetes!

I've been humming and hawing for awhile about getting a tattoo representing my diabetes status for sometime.  I finally decided to give it a go last week and made an appointment, since I'm celebrating my Diaversary of over 1/2 a century.  Along with this treat of being inked I'm going on a well deserved break from social media / work this Spring and I thought if I meet up with anyone from Diabetes UK  it would be fun to show it off!  

The good thing with this holiday treat though is that it's been basically paid off by a few years of purchasing diabetic meds, pump supplies, food, clothing, you name it with a credit card that gives back the most travel rewards.  I figure, if I've got to have diabetes, I might as well enjoy some rewards from purchasing all the crap needed to stay alive with a credit card (and yes, I pay off my balance EVERY month especially at the current 19.99% interest rate).  So, it's win, win all around with getting to see family / friends overseas - relax on an ocean voyage and not doing dishes for a change of pace!

So, with further adieu ... here's the design that my new best tattoo artist Nat from The Skinwithin and I came up with after she looked over some of the designs I'd come sent to her during the week.  She knew I wanted to incorporate the blue circle from IDF, along with my pen name of FatCatAnna which evolved from my diabetic cat Beauduoin (though on hindsight ... I should have asked Nat to maybe tweak the cat  to be abit fuller (okay fatter) since this cat looks a bit malnourished ... but as my skin stretches with age ... maybe it'll blimp out <lol>).  

All in all, I'm happy I did it, and found out that having it on the left wrist is actually the best place to put a tattoo like this.  According to a paramedic, the left arm is where they first go to when checking your pulse, etc.  Even with the tattoo stating my being diabetic, I'll still wear my other piece of medical ID from Mediband ... just to be on the safe side. Again, as the paramedic told me, they still look for medical ID over a tattoo when they are performing their work in an emergency situation!

If you're looking for advise on getting a tattoo SAFELY - check out T1D's Chris Clement's blog post at this link.  He's got some great tips so you can safely have one done by your fav ink artist.  He should know, since I've viewed a few of his up close and personal ;)   

Below is how it's looking at the moment, after removing the plastic wrap it was kept in for about 12 hours.  I'm using Aveeno baby cream to keep it moist.  Luckily, I heal well from cuts, surgeries (due to my being a healthy diabetic probably).  Now what will be my next tattoo?


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Here I Am!

Wow, I can't believe how long it is since I've had time to sit down and compose a blog.

The last one I wrote was in the summer, dealing with my husband's motorcycle accident (his ribs and face are all healed).  Along with other issues, like work, still sorting out from house move, took me away from my usual bit of fun with composing a blog filled with fun links to click that are both educational and entertaining.

So,  ♩♬ HERE I AM ♬♪ ...  it's a new world, a new start .... ♪♪ my time has come .... ♬♫

And along with this, I'm trying to get into the New Years resolution crap  links that I'm working on for one of my contracts I do.  Resolutions have never been a big thing with me, but  I decided to take one of the ones I gave to them, which probably will not be chosen and just go ahead with it on my own (because I think this is a really good)!  I've been abit down and out, so anything to help get more motivated to being active,  Does running up and down the stairs of our house REALLY count as activity because my menopausal brain has leaks in it for forgetfulness?

So, what is it that I'm rambling on about? 

Fit2Me  is an online coach to get you active and into eating healthy.  It's aimed for those of us with chronic health conditions according to it's website as well, but I think it would work for basically anyone.  Even better, it is FREE (which I like) !!!   I've picked my own personal coach by the name of Tim (I feel like such a Cougar), who supposedly is a surfer and laid back and won't hopefully bark orders at me if I don't full fill my commitment of 150 minutes of exercise that I've set for myself.

I've chosen the types of exercises (and there are LOTS)  plus it is YOU that has to chose your exercise plan.  Originally, I had assumed that the site would chose them for you, but I am fine with doing my own thing.   Which is good in away, and probably why the Fit2Me site requests request that your own health team be fully aware of what you are doing (which I will be talking to my team about this Tuesday).  The site also gives you the option  to print out a form to take to them.  The last thing you want  to have happen is some health issues occurring to you without first consulting with your team, especially if you've been inactive for abit.

Setting up My Food preferences was easy and luckily I eat pretty well everything under the sun (my Mum had an easy child to feed) ... and one of the recipes suggested for me ... which is making my mouth water is this one - Greek Tuna Casserole (24 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein - WIN WIN).  I'm already salivating over when I'll be making this one up!!!  I've yet to explore what suggestions they will make to me, but I'll give it a go during the week when I have some free time.

So, that's it in a nutshell.  My plan is set in action to get more active, starting off with this online tool. Though, warning to non-Americans,  it states  that it is for residents of the USA.  I'm just pretending that I am semi-American, since I do only live about 5 kms from the American border!  Though if they see this post, hopefully they don't shut it down to outsiders like myself.

Work it! Work it! Work it!
Pete the Cat 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Stupid Girl

I’ve been abit behind in trying to blog lately … life has got abit crazy and if you follow me on some of the sites I post at … you’ll know why … with my DH aka Mr. Evel Knievel‘s wipe out on my D-anniversary motorcycle I’ve had for abit (it’s repairable … and luckily … he is repairing too with 3 broken ribs and stitches to the face).  It was scary the first 24 hours, watching the monitors, and him being out of it.  I basically broke down 48 hours afterwards due to  lack of sleep, food and just the fact I could have lost my husband, I was exhausted and needed a Calgon moment (hasn't happened yet). 

Taking someone to ER is scary, especially when it’s someone you love.  I’ve only been rushed to ER once in my life, when I was 13, and in DKA … at that point I was in and out of comatose state for a few days, while my body fought to regain control.  Yes, I was a really really #badass with my diabetes as a teenager.  I often hear of other diabetics being Frequent Flyers at the ER, but even in worst case scenarios (e.g. when I had a bad experience while sailing a few years ago) … I sort things out.  I hate hospitals with a passion, and even more so when it comes to surgical procedures that require me to put myself in someone else’s hands, and my diabetes control is temporarily out of kilter.

This is now where I finally explain Part Deux of what occurred with a recent colonoscopy that I had at a local hospital.  If you haven’t yet read it yet (how could you not have already – shame, shame) and wonder why I’ve entitled my blog this way … go to this link  to play catch up.

Do ya like my tush twinkle?
The day after having my colonoscopy done a few weeks I had my 3 month endo appointment.  Due to not being able to think properly, I had my DH drive and accompany me to the appointment (the hospital had told me 24 hours after the procedure not to operate any machinery or drive).   I needed his arm to support me for walking /  thinking and probably should have had him help with my infusion change the day before ( it seemed to take forever because I was so out of it and I’ve really got to show my DH how to perform this duty if I’m ever in this situation again).

As I’m trying my best to stay “ with it “ during my appointment, my DH is talking for me to help explain the situation.   I know at some point I tell the endo that I kept my insulin pump on, and that I’d told a fib about reducing the basal.

My endo basically slapped me in the face for my stupidity

Okay, she didn’t really “slap me”, since I only see her face on a screen since she lives 100 km away, but she was not happy with me.  Her reason for calling me stupid?   Well, I think after reading what she said, you may come to the same conclusion … I was plain stupid and taking a risk with my life not just with the colonoscopy but previous surgery that I’d had a long overdue repair on my knee for a meniscus tear (it couldn’t be saved).

She explained to me,  " what would have happened if by accident the surgeon had perforated my colon, and what is a simple 10 minute procedure could have lasted an hour or two "?  Meanwhile, unknown to the surgeon or RN’s, my pump is still running full throttle with basal not having been reduced as I told them.  What if the pump had started to do something wonky?  She admits that not many surgeons or RN’s understand pump technology … and even if they did … a mistake could happen, since I am the one responsible for how it is run. 

I of course went on about how the surgery I’d had almost a year ago where my blood sugars had zoomed up to 22 mmol/l after what was supposed to be a 1 hour surgery became 5 hours.  No insulin had been in the drip (they no longer do this) … you can read that blog at this link if you’re interested. 

I found out she has a Type 1 diabetic brother (still on MDI) and that if he was on a pump she would NOT have him wearing it during surgery.  She would rather see him go high then low; since it can be more easily corrected then if he went low  (I can hear a few of you making some noises at her statement).  And as my DH pointed out to my endo that after the hysterectomy surgery last year, he was there advising them how much insulin to give to me to bring me down since I was semi-conscious at the time and was trying to tell the RN's the same thing.  So it wasn’t like I was in exact danger of going into DKA, though I could have gone into hypoglycemic mode if he’d not told them at the time to not give 10 units of rapid insulin … I would have crashed with that amount since I’m still sensitive to insulin after ½ a century of being diabetic. 

I’d never really looked at it her way before.  Of the what if’s ….

I then told her how just a month previous to the colonoscopy that an anesthesiologist (Dr. McDreamy aka Dr. Cook in reality) had actually allowed me to wear my pump (after I showed him how to shut it off if my CGM started to go alarm I was going low).  It was so nice waking up after that surgery with perfect blood sugars, and feeling like I could leap over tall buildings  (well – not quite exactly like Superman) 

Ohh, ohh, another virtual slap (this is started to sting abit)

Once again, she explained all that could have gone wrong, and I actually began to see where she was coming from.  She even said that if I had one of the CDE’s beside me, watching things, it still is dangerous, that they may make an error despite all the knowledge that they may have, they are not YOU! 

It really made me face reality with what could/can occur during even the simplest procedure, while you are out flat on your back.  In future, I will rethink my control freakiness to have the perfect blood sugar during and after a surgical procedure (I’m hoping to not have another one for many years … well … at least 5 more years until my next colonoscopy).

So I've now come to the conclusion that MDI will be my future way to go … and know that even if I do spike high in my blood sugars, that I’ll be okay. 

I'm no longer a Stupid Girl 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I want you to have a great colonoscopy

On July 4th (no fireworks that day, sorry I'm Canadian) I finally got around to my 2nd colonoscopy (I have them done due to my Dad having colon cancer).  My previous one that was done back in Quebec was an easy process, with doing that usual day before clean out, liquid diet (yes, beer counts as it’s a clear liquid).  When it was done (I wasn't on the pump then just my "poor man's pump" ), I was hooked up to an IV with a slow drip of insulin, no sedation, and got to watch the whole show of my squeaky clean A-hole on a screen.  Easy peasy – though they wouldn’t give me a copy of the video to share with friends on the big screen as we all ate popcorn!  I remember being so hungry, that a greasy breakfast was a must for me, and I was able to resume back to work the next day.

When I’d left Quebec last summer, I was still waiting to be called up for my 2nd colonoscopy which already was going into year 3.  Ontario seems to be alot better with wait times as I was referred  after going to a local walk-in clinic.  Night and day over Quebec health care system where the waiting game can go on for years.

This time, totally different, starting with the prep the day before.  It was a day of not being  actually able to work, despite sitting on my behind for the majority of one of my jobs I do.  Perhaps due to being a wee bit younger last time, what I'd used to "process" the goop out of me, who knows.  All I could do the day before was be a slug and I now understand why people don't like the prep bit - I feel for you all now.

The other difference this time, I was to be sedated aka " conscious sedation ".  I was told that I could not wear my insulin pump for this 10 minute procedure – but to give ½ my usual dose that AM (this was stated on the hospital form – obviously insulin pumps haven’t been updated onto the form).  I had planned on just giving a unit of rapid insulin in my pump, and then disengaging, but with some of the comments on my Facebook posts of how they'd kept them on during this procedure,  I convinced the RN that by lowering my basal rate of my pump by 50% things would all be good.  I decided at the last minute though, with my blood sugar showing 7.1 mmol/dl / 128 mg/dl – that I’d leave it be, and not reduce the basal.

I didn’t tell them this …

After a weigh in, that I insisted on them doing since they asked me what my weight was, and I told them I really didn’t know  (they wanted me to guess … it’s like … WTF?).  I found I'd lost 15 pounds (maybe the previous day of fasting helped shed some?) - and now I understand why my pants keep on falling down.  I figured the amount of sedation would be based on my weight (I have later found out since, that there is a limit to how much they give a patient (Versed and Fentanyl were used on me). 

Then came the " let’s find a juicy vein ".  Two RN's tried to find one in my forearm (and they're commenting on how tough my skin is … hello … diabetic of ½ a century … we have tough skin). They give up despite my saying my hand is the best bet but the clock is ticking for the next patient to be processed and they're understaffed.

So, it’s wheel the patient, moi, into the OR.  Where the doctor takes over in the game of finding a vein in my hand, and even better, he uses a butterfly needle, which just glides into that juicy plump vein in my hand (I sound like a junkie don’t I? LOL).   Then its lights out, night night Pussy Cat … despite being told by RN that I would be awake during the procedure.  No watching the screen like  the classic 1960's movie The Fantastic Voyage  ... I'm out ... cold ... no seeing the bowels of the Earth.

I awoke, wondering WTF, ½ an hour had passed since being wheeled in, and I was being asked if I wanted any biscuits and water.  It’s like, yes please.  Sadly, within 5 minutes, I was trying to be polite about requesting a … fetch me a bucket Garcon … and just about hopped out of the bed to go searching.  At that point, after the hurl session or two,  the RN brought me my clothing and I wobbly got dressed, texted my DH to come and fetch me.  I'm still amazed how I  managed to get myself out the right door to where he picked me up, I was that out of it and wondered why no one was asking if I needed a wheel chair.  For the next 3 days that was how I was, the effects of the sedation making me feel like I was having a hangover from Hell going between hurling, coldness, nonstop sleeping, and eating was a chore, but wait … this isn’t the end of the story yet of my anal probe.

Are you wondering about the highlighted bit above “I didn’t tell them this …”?

Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this blog, and be ready to be as surprised as I was …

Psst,  remember, if you don't follow me on Blogger, maybe now's the time to get cracking ... so you can keep up with my occasional blogs that come forth from my sponge brain!!!  I always aim to make them both educational and entertaining!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Barley can help lower 'bad' cholesterol according to a recent study

Did you know that the cholesterol-lowering effect of barley could be a benefit to your LDL and non-HDL cholesterol level which is found to be high in Type 2 diabetics? It also has 2x as much protein and 1/2 the amount of calories as oats.

So, after reading the article that was posted at CTV news what does this gal who loves to cook with barley from time to time do (see my blog post with a delicious gluten free recipe from Katie Zeller of Thyme of Cooking at this link ) ? Goes on the hunt for a breakfast cereal recipe that uses barley and is also gluten free (I was coming up with recipes that contained wheat - so instead plugged in "gluten free barley recipes").

So, feast your eyes on the one below that I found at Project Open Hand that was posted back in 2013 by Raymond Palko and get started yourself on exploring other options for cooking with barley and feel free to post any other ones you may find below in the comments section!!

Also, if you are wondering what some of the barley types are that you will see in the recipe links below - then scoot on over to this link - which helps explain the different types available.

Hulled barley is a hearty and nutritious grain that makes a wonderful breakfast. It’s high in fiber and may help lower cholesterol. Barley takes longer to cook than some other grains, but the following tips make it a convenient breakfast staple in your home.

Soak barley to decrease cooking time. Soak 1 cup of barley in 2 cups of water overnight in a covered container, in the refrigerator. Drain and rinse the barley before cooking. This will provide multiple servings, which can be stored in the refrigerator and quickly reheated over the next 3 days. (NOTE: These directions are for hulled barley. Pearled barley commonly found in the grocery store does not require pre-soaking.) Barley can be cooked in a pot on a stove or hot plate, in a slow cooker, or a pressure cooker. It cooks fastest in a pressure cooker, slowest on the stovetop.
  • Stove: Add 3 cups of water to the soaked barley. Over high heat, bring the barley and water to a boil. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Allow the grain to simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Pressure cooker: Follow the above directions, but cook for only 15-20 minutes.
If you like your barley chewier, cook for less time. To make it creamier like porridge you will need to cook longer. Once it is a texture you prefer, drain off any remaining liquid.

Now that your barley is cooked, add any combination of the following items for a delicious breakfast:
  • Milk or soy milk (note from FatCatAnna ... almond or cashew milk is what I'd use)
  • Fresh or frozen fruit
  • Raisins or other dried fruits (note from FatCatAnna WARNING will add more to carbs so be careful)
  • Protein trail mix
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt
Yes, I had to put a cat picture somewhere in this blog !!
Other resources to get your barley fix? Just look below -
  • Bob's Red Mill Barley Flakes (the recipe post above uses whole barley) ... so check it out here - you'll also find recipes using the product.
  • GoBarley - an international site based in Canada - that has some great recipe ideas and the story behind barley.
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation - just search for barley recipes - and you'll find alot of mouth watering ones to try.
  • I couldn't resist posting this recipe - that is made with mango, coconut and bananas (the recipe states that the barley can be made ahead of time and eaten over 5 days ... which is what I already do with oatmeal that I soak in milk overnight).
  • Last but not least - not into a sweet breakfast meal with barley? Then check out this baked savoury one that has me licking my chops as I finish up this post .... you can find the recipe at this link .