Sunday, December 20, 2015

My Reflections of the International Diabetes Federation Conference in Vancouver

Sock Monkey preparing to give a speech!

We made it to Vancouver!!!
I’ve been back for a week now since doing my volunteer stint at #wdc2015 in Vancouver where  I lucked in on being one of the 100 volunteers that help IDF run smoothly.  Now, when I  say “lucked in”, being a volunteer is an expensive endeavour for those of us who don’t live close by.  For myself, it was a 12 hour journey to get to Vancouver on a milk run (if you saw my posts in Instagram with my 4 hour layover in Edmonton and “date” with one of the Westjet employees … you will see I made the most of this long trip out west).  I lucked in for this trip of having a nephew who is a Captain at Westjet giving up one of his standby passes to allow a less expensive option of flying the friendly skies of Canada along with shacking up with two other T1D mates in a time share that one of them has that was under a 2 km walk each day to the conference centre in Vancouver. 

Hamming it up within the #bluecircle
Despite this time of the year, which is rain, rain, and more rain … I loved my time in Vancouver both during the conference and afterwards (will blog about that experience later … let’s just say … I’m no longer a virgin when it comes to staying in a youth hostel).  The temperatures weren’t cold though many of the non Canadian visitors to the conference thought otherwise (e.g. “Dubai is 30C today … this 11C is cold”).  Ha! Ha! Come to other parts of Canada my friend and you will not be complaining.  All I can say, if I had a well paying job (rents are not cheap in the city which is where I’d love to live), I’d move out there in a flash!  Fresh seafood, laid back people, 2nd hand shops galore, funkiness, ability to walk in comfort, good public transport … need I say more?

This was my 2nd time volunteering with CDA (Canadian Diabetes Association) for the IDF convention, the last time was in 2009 in Montreal where I lived at the time (you can read about it where I also did a stint wearing a media badge for them … this time I didn’t).   I loved my experience last time, talking to doctors, researchers, companies involved in helping diabetics live life to the fullest.   This time though, IDF due to legalities of products either not being available in Canada, as well as my not being in the medical profession limited the company representatives the ability to converse with me, and some could not even giving me a brochure to help me pass on the info to others (e.g. my CDE's at Cornwall Community Hospital - sorry).  This was my main goal with attending the IDF conference!  So sadly this maybe my last time going (next one is in Abu Dhabi) – as I found it highly frustrating not to have open and honest conversations with people.

Henna Tattoo (I got two) - and insulin pens that have been blinged out in "jewels"!!!
The one good thing though despite not being able to obtain info on new insulins, etc. was the amount of people I met who had either never seen a T1D of my longevity, without complications or the devices I wore.  I educated a few of them on the Dexcom G4 CGMS, insulin pump (e.g. a few nurses were interested in watching me do an infusion change in the washroom one day when Ziggy, my insulin pump, ran out of his juice of life aka insulin).  I was invited to a few countries to give talks (me … on a stage … never … leave that to the ones that enjoy being in the lime light … I’m just happy doing what I do here from my laptop and meeting folks in small groups).  So that made up for not being able to collect more information that I did last time I attended and I'm hoping to play catch up with some of the information sessions that I couldn't attend due to schedule with volunteer duties that are available to attendees to view online.

What did sadden me the most, and what I was being asked to help out with if I came to their country to educate/speak …. EDUCATION (please note … as I told them … I am not a medical professional … just someone living with diabetes most of their life).  It is greatly lacking, along with resources, and costs for drugs, etc. that we all take for granted here in Canada / USA (50 test strips a year are covered in some countries for a T1D!!!).    One surgeon I spoke to from Bangladesh, who performs amputations told me of the amount of amputations he does, not just of toes, but of legs due to people not either knowing they are diabetic, or footwear (many go barefoot or wear shoes that allow objects to become embedded into their feet).  He wished they had better education in their hospitals or community centre that taught people about foot care and diabetes.  I heard similar stories from people I met both during and after the conference, e.g. I met a woman from Saudi Arabia on the day of Santa Claus’s parade in Vancouver (piss pouring rain) and she asked me for directions to it.  It turned out as we walked that she had attended the conference, we discussed diabetes and how I handled it, exchanged calling cards, and viola, another person dealing with the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes in their part of our big blue marble.

The best part though?  Meeting up with new people and some I only know online and never met IRL since joining the #DOC (diabetic online community) in order to learn how to use my pump back in 2008! That in turn lead to a job at along with getting more involved in advocacy (I didn’t really talk much about diabetes for my first 41 years with it … shame on me).    Cherise Shockley gives a really good hug and speaks from the heart.  Manny Hernandez … well my “wet pussy” statements floored both him and Tom Karlya aka Diabetic Dad (sorry – I told them I didn’t wear my ears walking to the conference centre due to getting … rain soaked!!).   Sadly, I think Kerri Sparling was worried another photo bomb would be taken of us … so she avoided any "ear contact" with me ;)   The main thing though, meeting up with other folks (some you see scattered in pictures here) who are advocating / educating about diabetes is the most important thing!!!

Here’s to finding a CURE!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

In a blink of an eye

Back in 2010 I did the most stupid thing, I briefly got an eye lash separator aka “ weapon of cornea destruction “ as I now call it (and I think my Mum does too) into my right eye which caused a corneal abrasion.   I already had a cataract forming in the same eye that my ophthalmologist had discovered just a few weeks prior (that really shocked me abit … but remember I am getting to be an old cat here). 

Fast forward almost 5 years later.  I’ve been noticing lately that I always seem to have sand in my eyes, and I put it down to air quality, heat.  I use eye drops once in awhile, and even use Muro 128 that is meant for this type of eye problem when I “remember” to you both the eye drops and gel.  See note below what I had been using had been recalled – yikes!   

Come Halloween night, I had a pretty teary and red eyeball that seemed to just come out of the blue. It made for that extra scary affect as I swung open the door and demanded to know what they wanted (some kids coming up the doorstep said my house creeped them out … jezz Louise … this is Halloween!!! Boo to you little cute Princesses, etc. etc.).

The next day, I was in agony. Eyes welling up with tears and I was even feeling depressed or down like I have been lately.  My eye was just leaking on its own accord and PAINFUL!!  Light made me feel like I was a vampire, wanting to seek shelter in the ground.  Sadly, I can’t do that, and even worse, working my shift with a lit up terminal was agony. 

Because of my fear of going into a walk-in clinic like I had back in 2010,  I called up the optometrist I was going to see for my yearly diabetic exam in December ( free for us in this province when it’s diabetes related – otherwise like in this case – I paid for each visit of $35).    I've been wearing glasses since Grade 5 and I’ve never been to an optometrist  for diabetic eye check ups except for vision testing ( you pay for this in most provinces of Canada).  I’m hoping that if my optometrist can’t help me with a problem that is diabetes related, that he will refer me to an ophthalmologist, and at that point, I no longer pay out of pocket.  If anyone from Ontario is reading this, correct me if I’m wrong.

Unlike Quebec though, where trying to see someone right away is impossible which is what occurred to me in 2010 … this optometrist office said get here stat.  Luckily, it’s within a 5 minute walk since I wasn’t fit to drive a car with this wacko eyeball affecting the other one, so off I trotted.

Long story short?  I had a pretty serious corneal abrasion that meant wearing a temporary clear contact lens for at least 24-48 hours (it was a bitch to put in by the optician since according to him I’m 1 in 100 that has very small eyes for my age and he had to use a child’s contact in the end).  Also, an antibiotic drop was given for 4 days to be on safe side along with keeping the eyeball bathed in gel drops for AM/PM use and other drops that will keep my eyeball encased in fluid (hang on a moment – off to put in some drops).  

The one thing he mentioned is what I have is very common in children and women due to our rubbing our eyes (which I don’t – so I’m wondering if part of the problem was from using the Muro 128 gel that had been recalled).  Also, this problem of dry eyes is seen in women in their menopause period of life, and can go on for … well like forever is the way I am understand him.  Time to buy stock in Alcon or Bausch & Lomb!

With a few follow ups over the first 2 weeks after the initial visit I’m now diligently putting those drops in my eyes and due to the seriousness of the abrasion, I’m on a tetracycline antibiotic for the next 3-6 months in order to save the cornea from further damage (hey wonder if my teeth will discolour like one of my friends did as a teenager when she had to go on them for skin issues).  Anyway, vanity aside of my pearly whites because I don’t use my teeth to see J .  The best thing about this optometrist is he's is up front and honest saying that it was serious and stated that if anything unusual occurs in the eye in the meantime, get myself either to his office STAT when it’s open or go to ER.  He gets right to the point with no sugar coating.

Now, if I lived back in Quebec … the land of waiting waiting waiting … I might not be writing this out today because my eyesight would be badly compromised at this point.  So far, this move to Ontario has been a good one, despite my home sickness for Montreal and friends.  Medically speaking, even with what occurred at Cornwall Community Hospital in September, along with recent endo appointment, all is good in my little world of medical practise.

So, shout out to Dr. Steve Bacher of Cornwall (gotta love his recent post on his wall about the 20-20-20 rule)!!  My eyesight has been saved … and even better … it’s not due to diabetes!!  Whoo! Whoo! 

Note:  I only discovered when writing up this blog today that the Muro 128 eye gel drops I am using have the serial number that had been recalled back in June 18, 2014!  I have been using these gel drops since July of this year, which is sort of when I started to notice problems with something in my eye.  Why the pharmacy (Costco in Laval)  that distributed these drops didn’t inform patients of this problem is abit frightening because I would have continued using them! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My first endo visit in over 30 years!

I had my first meeting with an endocrinologist who works with insulin pump patients last month.  In the past I’ve used either my GP or a doctor that works in the endocrine area of the health field, but does not hold the title after their name (just like me, at times I’m like a CDE, but in reality, I’m just someone with 50 years of experience with T1D).  None of my past care givers understood pump technology, so as I’ve mentioned in the past, I do my own tweaking, and had been doing fine until menopause hit me last year.

The last time I’d seen an endocrinologist was way back in the 80’s … and I rarely saw them due to being busy with life, and in those days, we didn’t have all the technology today, so in some ways, at least for me, diabetes was just something in my life that today now seems to encompass my every waking moment with machines that read your blood sugars (CGM), or control the amount of insulin that goes into your body (insulin pump), along with blood glucose (BG) meters, and different types of insulin

It was an interesting meet up with the, originally they were coming to where I live (an hour and a half drive for them), but then a week before I was told they would have their head contained in a screen (my words – not the CDE’s words) … think of Max Headroom if you are of my age group you will know.  So, with the CDE in the meeting … we got started on figuring out my control of my diabetes, that I’ve basically been doing by myself the past 30 years.

I’d downloaded all my pump/CGM/BG meter info to Diasend that morning from home, so while the endo asked me questions, the CDE punched numbers on her screen while listening.   The endo couldn’t quite understand why I wanted a lower A1c which puzzled me, as I thought she would encourage me to attain a better number.  Explaining how many of us want to avoid complications, etc. with keeping a lower A1c didn’t interest her.

Their main concern was the hypoglycemic (hypo) reactions I have been having at night lately that they saw with the Diasend report.  Which is understandable after learning from various conferences I’ve attended over the year, hypos are harder on a diabetic body then a hyperglycemic (hyper) – e.g. going up high.  Of course, it all depends on how high you go up, but to me, anything over 15 / 270 freaks me out and the methods I use to bring even higher ones down she did not approve of.  I’m also still very lucky, I wake up to hypos, CGM or not, and generally do not over treat them which is what many diabetics do which results in that crazy roller swing.  I’ve learned over the years, depending on the BG number, to go from 5-15 grams of fast acting carbs, wait 15 minutes, retest.   Helps to offset that crazy high in the morning when you wake up.

The endo asked me to set my CGM alarm during sleep time to 15 / 270 in order to have a solid sleep (as we all know – lack of sleep can affect our blood sugars not just our sanity in our work place the next day or relationship that for me is already compromised by menopausal mood swings!).   Of course, freak out, I did request permission from CDE a week later after tying to follow endo’s instructions so I am now able to correct anything over that number, “safety first” as the CDE told me.  They just want me to be more sparse about it and only anything over 10 / 180 – which I have been doing – but this is way against the way I’ve handled my diabetes over the years by myself.  They are hoping to see what happens with my BG without correction, does it go up and stay up, or does basal bring it down.

I started to realise around that point that I had an endo that sticks to the rules and no matter what I said (e.g. I asked her if I could go on metformin, which has been shown to help T1D teenagers in attaining more level blood sugars … and that a study was being done with adult T1D’s using the drug and showing great success).  No, unless I was using over 50 units of insulin a day, she would not consider it.  I felt like I had the door slammed in my face at that point.

 My promise to follow a snack plan (carb/protein) in the evening as the endo requested in order to avoid hypos overnight – nope - that didn't last long.  Though I have now gotten into soaking almonds in water, and having about a ¼ of a cup before bed time and BG’s seem to be great overnight.  I really don’t do snacks at night time, which is something I did as a kid at home when my parents followed the CDA/ADA meal plan.

So, overall, I am realizing that it is the CDE team that is the most knowledgeable in diabetes management.  I have yet to tell them that I’ve gone ahead with upping my basal (the high wake up blood sugars during some of my major hot flash periods that last longer since I had the hysterectomy a few months ago was too much for my control level of diabetes).

It’ll be interesting to see how things go for my next visit at the end of January.  I do have a friend in Ottawa (he is on the study with Metformin) who has told me his GP who follows his diabetes is taking on new patients.  It’s something to think about, and with how I’ve always taken care of my diabetes, where I only go to see a doctor when I need a new prescription or have blood work done to see how I’m doing … I may just go back to that routine. 

Main thing for me, it’s an interesting experience to have a CDE team after all these years of my time with diabetes and even better is that they understand much of today's technology unlike my former doctors and I don't quite feel alone in working in the coal mine of my diabetes control.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Low Carb Alfredo Carbonara

I thought I’d post a recipe for a change of pace in my blog because I am so in love with spaghetti squash and the versatility of it as a low carb option for those of us who are watching their carb intake, but want to eat well! This time of the year it’s very affordable, and if I store it correctly when I buy it on sale , I hope to keep some for another month (if it lasts that long since I have a cool storage area for items like this in my 1930’s house … where they built places to preserve).

This recipe was inspired from this site but I tweaked my version to reflect my taste buds and give more help to the newbie squash chef of how many cups rather than just the weight.  Also how many the recipe feeds.  Hopefully the way I’ve written up the recipe will help you to decide how much to make (and duplicate the ingredients to ensure everyone has a full bowl).

YIELDS :    4 servings


1 spaghetti squash (4-5 lbs / 1.8 – 2.3 kgs) about 4-5 cups total

8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp, diced after cooling down (save the fat if using in Step 8 below)

2-3 Tablespoon of olive oil

5+ cloves of garlic, chopped (if you like garlic … add more – for the ½  portion we used 5!)

¼ cup olive oil (see Step 8 below)

Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved (put in a bowl for people to help themselves too)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. You can either bake the squash in the oven which I show below in Step 2.  If you don’t have the time, you can cook it in your microwave oven which takes about 10 minutes per half side.

  2. First wash the squash, slice off the stem, and stand it on the cut side to cut in half. This can be a challenge, use a good solid knife and protect your hands.  If you are ensure about how to do this … watch the link above for microwaving … she shows how to cut one in half with ease.

  3. Scrape the seeds from center.  Sprinkle the insides with salt and ground pepper.

  4. Place cut side down on oiled pan (I use parchment paper ) – saves on cleaning afterwards.

  5. Bake for 30-45 minutes or when a sharp knife is inserted without any resistance.  Set aside to cool.

  6. Cook up the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Place on some paper towels to take off excess fat. Let cool abit and crumbled with fingers.  Set aside.  Note:  if you are not a lover of bacon fat which can be used in the later stage of this recipe, drain the fat, and place a few tablespoons of olive oil in pan, to cook the chopped up garlic for a minute or two.  When you smell it’s fragrance that usually means it requires no further cooking).  Set aside

  7. Using a fork, scrape the flesh from the squash in long strings and set aside in a bowl (don’t worry if that doesn’t work, it’ll all be gobbled up soon).

  8. You can either add the squash to the fry pan to mix everything up together with either a dollop of the ¼ cup of olive oil (use your discretion) or you can add in the reserved bacon fat if you feel like being on the wild side … it’s up to you!  Or you can toss the fry pan mixture into the bowl (I prefer the fry pan method myself).

  9. Divide up amongst 4 plates (or 2 if you’ve halved the recipe - I save the other half of the plain squash for another meal).  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese ( use LOTS) on it along with some freshly ground pepper.

You may never go back to the full carb/fat version of this dish again!  The portion I had was almost triple what I would have when made with regular al dente pasta, and my blood sugar remained steady in my happy blood sugar zone with no spiking at all.  Even better, if you’re not on insulin and just medication/exercise regime … bonus … you may be able to have a little treat with your espresso afterwards (psst - I still did - because I didn't mind using up 15 grams of carbs for a little biscuit with my cafe later).  

NB:  For those of you who are vegetarian - do not turn your noses up at this that it contains meat.  You can easily substitute the bacon for your fav vegetarian substitute!!  One recipe I can vouch for when I’m wanting a change of pace for my gutt, is this recipe that uses affordable block tofu!  Another one if you have the extra $$$ for it, is this version using tempeh.  Either recipe can be “crumbled” to replace the bacon in the recipe above and still be satisfying to the taste buds (as well you will stay true to your ethical opposition of eating animals). 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

High carb hospital food for diabetic patients? Get with the times!!

I usually am not picky about hospital food.  I guess I am one of those rare people.  I eat, therefore I am.  Not so with a recent stay at a community hospital in Cornwall, Ontario. 

If I could have sprinted out the door after surgery, knowing this … I would.  Luckily, I escaped on Day 3 … I had served my time, but not without having some of the hospital admins visit me, and I’m wondering if it’s due to my going public about how the surgery went (you can read about what happened at this link).

What really got to me was that being a diabetic, on insulin, I need to know what the carbs are in the food I am ingesting.  Yes, many of us guesstimate, but in my case, after talking to the dietician that day afterwards, what I was being served was the diabetic meal plan.  If I had gone with my estimate of what chocolate pudding was worth … I would have ended up in hypo fairy land.  Luckily, due to having abit of an issue with high blood sugars, and spewing my guts (I had not been asked about my ketones at this point by the RN, just a disgusted look from her as I spewed … oops … hope you are not reading this at meal time … if you are … this is it for the head rolling Linda Blair of Exorcist fame spewing).

Okay, now to the serious stuff on …. high carb food content in diabetics meals served to patients in hospitals.  I had a good talk with the dietician, who led me to believe that she understood diabetic diets, but it still left me scratching my head with the following:

72 grams of carbs for breakfast

Yuppers, that is over half of what I eat in carbs for a whole day!!!  Luckily, this meal never arrived, something else did in its place of similar carb count – but again, nothing showing carb count on containers except for “diabetic meal”).  I had asked the dietician the day before, why the regular Boost was being given to a diabetic, when there is a diabetic version of Boost available (I kept on getting the 36 gram version for some reason .... and no ... I did not touch it with a 10' pole). .  

She managed to find a diabetic Boost to help me at least get something into me (my appetite has taken awhile to return since surgery ,... and losing weight has been a bonus for me because of this). She said they didn’t stock much of and believe it or not, the 16 grams of carbs and 16 grams of protein according to the label ...  I spiked so high (yes … think of someone with a lot of gel in their hair), and stayed high, even with proper insulin coverage.  

I think where the food plan for diabetics in this hospital rests due to them following the ADA/CDA food plan which tends to be high carbs and aimed at the population of Type 2.  Sadly, even the CDE’s had questioned me when viewing my Diasend results a few months earlier  that I do not eat enough carbs and therefore my body can’t function properly.  It’s like, excuse moi, I’ve been eating this way for years … do I look unhealthy ... I rarely get sick except for as blue moon year?  Hullo!!!  I function well and know of many others that are the same  (no – not the Dr. Bernstein regime of 30 grams / day … I’m more like 120 grams / day … sometime more when I have a sinful slice of chocolate layer cake).

So perhaps dieticians, CDE’s of hospitals if they would take into consideration that not EVERY diabetic has the same eating habits as the rest – and perhaps be allowed to choose their meal plan while staying in hospital – then great.  In the 3 days I was in hospital, there was no protein (do budget constraints mean that a simple hard-boiled egg, slice of cheese, peanut butter aren’t possible for the patient?).  What was funny, my DH was bringing me my morning coffee from the in-hospital Tim Horton’s that actually sold hard boiled eggs.  He said it didn’t dawn on him to buy me a few …. Duhhhh … you can see who cooks in our house. 

So, next time, if there is ever another time at this hospital (or any hospital – I have a feeling they are all the same due to budgets, etc.)  I’m bringing my own cooler full of cheese, hard boiled eggs, sliced meats, etc.  And perhaps if you are reading this, and going in for surgery, hopefully you have a diabetic team at your hospital that will ensure you get the proper food plan, or at least listens to you.  Somehow, in my case, I think I slipped through the cracks …. it’s okay, I’m alive and writing about my experience so others can learn from my mistake!

NB:  Incase you’re wondering, if I had stayed longer … my lunch was ringing in at only 70 grams and dinner was 62 grams … and none of those meals contained any protein.  
At least he got some protein to slow down the carbs!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Falling through the cracks of a small town hospital

Falling through the cracks of the Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) system … that’s the only way I can come up with an explanation of what happened with my insulin coverage last week during a 4-5 hour period when I was asked to stop my insulin pump from delivery insulin during surgery.  I put Ziggy into 0% basal rate for 4 hours – but now think I should have lied and just left him on. 
The Womb With A View
I think due to the diagnosis 2 weeks after my initial visit to ER for heavy bleeding and I was in menopause stage of life, along with the fast turnaround of 2 weeks after that for a spot on the slice and dice table this may have resulted in mistakes being made in what occurred that day with Pre-Op / miscommunication with the CDE’s / gas woman aka anesthesiologist, etc.  

Was pre-op done to close to the surgery date?

In past surgeries (e.g. mastectomy done in 2007 for diabetic mastopathy ), the Pre-Op, meeting up with endo team, was all done within 2 or more weeks of the surgery date.  In my case at CCH, pre-op was done 2 days before the surgery day  ( DH came along ).  The RN didn’t say anything about whether pump would be allowed or not, but took down that I wore an insulin pump,along with my total basal rate, average basal rate (this same information was given to the Pharmacist from the CCH the next day who said it was unusual for them to be left out of the loop for pre-op).   The RN was fully aware that I was being seen by the Diabetic Clinic within CCH and I “assumed” they would be contacted for any help (they were already aware of my upcoming surgery by an email I’d sent to them).    

Was any blood sugar testing taken during the surgery and didn’t
my CGMS alarms make them aware?

Sadly, I didn’t think of the CDE statement from an email earlier during the week when I’d asked her about wearing the insulin pump during the surgery …  

“do you have a protocol for not wearing pump during surgery”

Her response to my query, with no suggestions,  made it obviously clear to me I was on my own with handling my diabetes control in the hospital (I have since learned she expected me to respond back with my answer). 
I assumed that when the anesthesiologist (gas woman) firmly told me that she would not continue if I kept the pump on, that insulin would be at least provided in the drip.  This was told to me as I was already being strapped down to go to la la land of no pain and she meant business (she wasn’t happy with where the RN had set up the drip, but my veins are sparse and RN didn’t go to my hand which has LOTS of plump veins and has been used in the past by the blood takers).  So, basically, I had no time to say, “ let me get my overnight bag and shoot up with Lantus “.   Yes, I was in a tough position at that point, trying not to panic.  I had come prepared, but not at the last minute when the surgeon’s clock is ticking for his other scheduled patients that were behind me!!  Gulp!!

My hospital gown had the washy washy instructions to ensure no evil germs develop!

Granted this was my first major operation using an insulin pump.  Previously, I was on MDI, and with pre-op it was always determined that I do my regular long acting insulin shot and that after surgery that I took over my diabetes control.  Did my being on an insulin pump throw off the pre-op and pharmacist?  This is where both my husband and I wonder …

was any insulin drip given during the 4-5 hours I was under their care?

My darling husband (DH) had been contacted at noon time as I was being wheeled into my room after being in recovery (surgery had started between 0730 – 0800 ) and he arrived about an hour later to hear my story about the blood sugar reading of 22 mmol/l (396 mg/dl) and how the staff had determined I should be given 10 units of rapid insulin.  I vaguely remember all this happening, and again, have no time reference.  I hope I didn’t yell, but I told them it was too much.  I remember being asked what they should give me and in my state of mind was calculating 1 unit of insulin would be lower me down 3.5 mmol/l (63 mg/dl) and told them to give me 3.5 units (if I’d been more with it I should have said 5 units).  I don’t even recall them giving me the injection. 

I was having to rely on someone else to take care of my diabetic care at this point that
had wanted to inject me with 10 units of insulin

My DH at that point looked at Bowie my CGMS and it was alarming like crazy (we are wondering now if the trainee RN who was holding him during surgery noticed this).    Bowie does not like being high, and was still registering at 22 mmol/l (395 mg/dl).  At this point, having my DH by my side, I was more with it and did my own finger stick test which showed I was around 14 mmol/l (252 mg/dl).  Obviously the insulin was working (maybe they did an intramuscular injection (IM) into my arm to make the insulin work faster … which is what I do when my BG is that high – but due to no time frame of injection I’m unable to figure it out). 

With insulin coverage for a T1D it’s all about what TIME insulin is giving … 
method of injection ... site it`s injected into …

This is where even more confusion starts is that the RN that was speaking with my husband didn’t realise that my pump was functioning.  Again, either I did not explain myself properly to the gas woman / RN when turning my basal rate off for the 4 hour surgery time.

So, even now as I compose this blog, trying to put together what occurred, it seems like a dream

So, DiabetesMine ( @samanthachan at Instagram)  … I told you the true story would come  with the picture that you asked permission to use at the Diabetes Innovations Summit at Stanford in November.  Even though the trainee RN who held Bowie during surgery had been warned about what would occur if my BG’s went up or down with him alarming.  I think he was ignored OR even worse case scenario when he was finally looked at, they assumed that that was the correct blood sugar number.  That is even after I  had told her and various staff earlier and during my 2 day stay that the CGMS reading HAS TO BE verified by a blood meter.  The fingertip NEVER LIES when it comes to real time blood sugar number. 

Victorious thinking I`d be allowed to use pump during OR ... NOT

It’ll always be a mystery to me … and personally I will not return to CCH for any surgical performance if I cannot go another route (see note below).  This is after speaking to other residents where I live, they avoid it at all costs.  Though if it’s a situation where I’m not able to drive to the next closest hospital ( Winchester District Memorial Hospital has been recommended to me by many people in Cornwall ), I just hope/pray that I have someone on my side (my DH or another T1D) able to ensure that my diabetes health care does not get lost in the cracks like it did with this hospital experience.

NOTE:  The one thing I have learned out of this experience is that hospitals in Ontario have different ratings (and probably in other provinces of Canada).  A few members from the CCH Diabetic Clinic came to speak to me due to what had occurred the day before with surgery.  They had stated that CCH is a #1 hospital (I have tried to find anything pertaining to what they had told me online but have come up empty handed so this is “my version” of the “rating system”).  If my surgery had been performed at either Kingston or Ottawa, which are larger populated areas, then  insulin pumps would be more accepted and understood by the medical staff members, and perhaps allowed to remain on in the OR. 

Day after the surgery - attempting to drink a Timmy`s

Saturday, September 19, 2015

When life is just a bowl of hormonal chocolate cherries!

I haven’t had much time lately to blog.  Life has been crazy with the move in June,   recent death of my little Mia the black cat (aka my hypo awareness cat ... sigh).   Dealing with diabetes has been the easy thing, especially with the assistance of Bowie aka my Dexcom CGMS.  He’s actually singing away right now as I compose this … telling me I’m low … urrrhh … silly hormones that are going wacky lately (menopause, thyroid, lack of sleep, etc.) making life abit of a roller coaster ride.

What’s going on right now with me is from a recent trip to the ER in the new town I live in the province of Ontario (alot of folks from Quebec come here since the wait time in less – found that interesting).

It all started off with a visit to the CDE’s (Certified Diabetes Educator) team end of August.  They have knowledge of insulin pumping since Ontario has the insulin pump program (I think I qualify – but I just bought a new pump – on my credit card to get 5 years warranty instead of the 4 years Animas offers - having supplies covered would be nice until I need a new pump).  I do have a feeling though that I maybe the first CGMS user they've come across, after meeting up with another T1D pumper the other day, he was wearing a Medtronic pump and didn't know what it was along with Sure-T infusion sets (stainless steel ones) - or what an A1C test meant.   Out came my calling card, and hopefully I can get him to discover the #DOC .

I’ve been in menopause for over a year, hot flashes, emotions up/down/all around (combine that with thyroid that has once again wacky wacky … but no doctor to review TSH levels means I’m on my own until I find a doctor who I can convince I need help).  Well, maybe due to stress of move, etc.  I started to no longer experience those lovely symptoms, and instead, started to bleed heavy like I had during peri-menopause period.  That had lead my gyno in Quebec to decide the fibroids were too big and surgery was to be done (I opted out as you can see by this blog post).

The CDE’s were worried about my blood loss and exhaustion I was experiencing, so told me to go to the walk in clinic next door to the hospital.  I did, but after a 2 hour wait, seeing the head surgeon from the hospital that was doing his stint in the walk in clinic … he told me to go to ER … STAT.  He didn’t like the way things were in the nether regions and my history.

ER … ultrasound … gyno … biopsies … and just 2 weeks ago I got the results that things weren’t right.  We are not sure if the ovaries can be saved.  I am hoping so, but gyno is not sure until he can get to them.  I know at present I have what I call an “Igor” in my left side along with some little stragglers, I feel pregnant and ready to pop.  Dull pain is something I can handle, but it’s getting tiring along with now going back to menopause symptoms again.  Ovey … I feel like a woman!!!

So, really, diabetes is the least of my problems right now.  Being on the insulin pump, along with the CGMS aka Bowie (Continuous Glucose Monitoring System) I am managing to sort of keep things okay in that area of my health.  The rest is crap, but I know it’ll get better.

Pre-op is this Tuesday with surgery scheduled a few days later (yeah – no 6-12 month wait like Quebec).  I am hoping that I’ll be allowed to wear both my pump and CGMS during the operation (LAVH or Laparoscopically Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy will be performed – less recovery time – yippee!!).  So cross your fingers for me.  I’m hoping that due to the high amount of pump users here in Ontario, that more hospital staff will be familiar with how they work, unlike where I was in Quebec. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Random thoughts during a heat wave from a diabetic on legal drugs

This is a long intro … the diabetes stuff comes in a afterwards …. I normally post at ... but wanted to take a break from that ... and post here for a change of pace (and bigger screen to read my words on as well ).

I’m temporarily a bachelorette; while my DH (darling husband) goes off on a last minute work trip that cut our holiday’s abit short where finally we were getting things unpacked from our move back at the end of June.   I had him take Sock Monkey (SM) with him … so at least SM can enjoy the various “ports of call” that the Challenger 650 is taking them to across the pond.  You can check out the whereabouts of SM at my Flickr account!

Sock Monkey hanging out on the wing of the Challenger 650 he's travelling in
 While I am missing my DH, especially while coping with my little black cat Mia, who underwent a large cyst from her tummy (who I just discovered now is pulling on one her 20 stitches … she made a strange cry … and I leaped out of my chair to see what she was up to).  She now will be forced to wear her Elizabeth collar for the remaining 10 days … sorry kitty kat … but I didn’t fork out almost $800 to bring save you from using 1 of your 9 lives.   Between giving her meds, and like just now, watching/listening to her (I’m a wanna be Cat Whisperer did you know that?) – things are pretty busy.  I am now realising that handling both diabetes and motherhood and everything else that entails having “kids” … I’m not sure if I could have done it.  You were right Mum to tell me to “never have children” … no wonder you started going grey before your time!! I caused it.  Waaaahhhh.

Don't I look cute in my Elizabethan collar or what?
(WARNING - the above paragraph contains A LOT of fun You Tube videos besides silly dribbles of info that is coming out of my adult company starved brain.  Please watch at home in case you are at work … I don’t want you to get the boot out the door).

Now to get onto my main reason for putting my thinking cap on and getting around to a dblogging again since life will eventually settle down in new town, pussycat, etc.  

Yesterday, on a hot and humid day (we currently have a high heat warning) … I ventured out, not by bicycle/foot as I normally do, but via stinky machine … 4 wheel car.  I’m lucky that I don’t really need a car to get around, that was one of the reasons for moving here.  Everything can be walked to / cycled / skateboarded – the benefits of living in a small town.

Now you think you’d see a lot of fit people here? Right?  Sadly, not so.  It’s kind of scary coming from Montreal where I lived it wasn’t something I saw much of.

Of course, where do I go, to escape abit of the heat and humid and duties at home?  WalMart.  The place I swear I hate to frequent if I don’t really have to since they’re forcing a lot of the local businesses to close up.  Sigh.  So, in this case, no malls to walk around in that aren’t an hour’s drive away means … I have to do my “window shopping” in a big box store.

I wonder up and down isles, looking at things to pass the time (hey I need a break from the "kitties").  Talk to a woman who moved from BC to here, and her distaste of the water we have here where we both live (I was looking at the SodaStream at the time, and asked her and her sons about it … the things a question can blossom into).  The water here is highly chlorinated / fluorinated (but I’m researching that with no answers to ascertain oui/non/maybe so).

I then proceeded to look at the various foods contained behind the freezer doors.  Remember, I do not eat prepared/mass produced food too often.  It’s a novelty for me to look at the percentages of fat/carbs/salt in these foods.  I was amazed at what I saw, and thought “OMG … no wonder some folks here are the way they are … this food is EVIL).  The one thing is, food costs here are less expensive than in Montreal … so I don’t really get it.  Even worse, I am seeing so many overweight people or folks using electric scooters, etc.  Some of it is due to the aging population here or perhaps health reasons that mean they cannot walk properly, but I see young folks using them, scary stuff.
Next it was the baking isle.  I still haven’t found the time again to bake my own bread since moving, and the cost of a nice baguette is $1.00 (we go thru’ 1 a week – we aren’t big bread eaters) and is actually a lot less than in Montreal … so factoring in my time, electricity to bake the bread, it’s sadly cheaper to buy mass produced. 

I noticed a woman, probably about my age, looking at baked goods.  Like her, I was overwhelmed by the choices.  I was looking at the carb count and just about fainting.

I said to her, “There’s too much to choose from!” (my mind whirling at Red Velvet cupcakes)
Her reply, “I know, and I’m a diabetic”.
And I said, “So am I, but I can cheat, I’m on insulin!”

From there, I found out she is on insulin.  She only takes it when she has to so she doesn’t go low.  Her doctor told her to keep her blood sugar (#BGNow) levels between 10-13 mmol/l (180-234 mg/dl) and she was used to having readings in the 30’s (540).

I tried to stay calm, as I told her about my CGMS (and the cost just made her eyes go HUGE when I told her along with my 5.1 / 92 #BGNow reading … too low for her) and also showed her Ziggy my insulin pump.  She had never heard/seen these devices.  I started to think a) how long has she been diagnosed; b) who the heck is her flipping doctor; c) I wish I could take everyone I meet into my home and help them. Sigh.

It’s really tough for many of us, when we come across folks like this.  And where this really hits me today, was reading David Edelman’s latest dblog promoting the book “Thriving With Diabetes” that he’s co-written with Dr. Paul Rosman .  If I could hand out this book to everyone I see that needs to take action with their diabetes health … I would (in my dream world I’d be a philanthropist and a CDE and a ….).  

So?  My next book I'm putting into my reference library here at home?  Need I say more!!!