Saturday, March 26, 2016

I Wanna Be a Pole Dancer

Yes, I do like to joke about taking up this hobby when I retire in some of the places I post at in the social media world for diabetes, I'm looking as this being one way to be able to afford my diabetes gadgets that help me to stay in control when I am no longer working (retirement is fast looming up after 35 years as a 9-5er).

So come into my dream world, and dance away with me ..... 'cause  "I wanna be yours" ...

Three weeks ago, I had a second go with an MRI scan that had been delayed from a previous visit when I found out ... a Dexcom sensor cannot be worn, even if it's not placed anywhere near where the portion of your body is being scanned (my knee has been acting up over the last 3 years).  The problem was the day before I had only placed a new sensor on my upper body, which usually lasts an average of a month.  No insurance coverage for the CGM (and I'm not alone in paying out of pocket) meant I wasn't about to rip it off.  So my file was left open, and viola, 4 weeks later ... I was back without any piece of metal on/in my body (I didn't know tattoos can react to MRI's as well - and I have one). The things you learn, but in reality, these questions should be given to the patient prior to making an appointment, not on the day you arrive.

So, after the 2nd MRI (I twitched alot even though I tried to be still during the 20 minute scan), I went back home to place a new sensor on.  This time, it wasn't going to be on my regular real estate  portion on my body which is either my stomach, upper back, upper thigh or arms.  I had seen a post from JeVonda Flint who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) 6 years ago.  She places her sensor on her calf, and finds it works well for her there.  So between myself and another T1D here in Canada, I decided I'd give a try.

Yes, I was abit terrified about placing it into what is abit of a muscular portion of my leg (actually I think there's alot of fat, if I was a chicken or a turkey, I'd feed a family of 4 easily).  The good thing, I felt nothing when inserting it.  If any of you have seen the introducer needle for the Dexcom sensor, it looks abit scary.  I felt nothing at all, and even thought to myself, "did I do it properly - did it go in?".

Two hours later, calibration done (you have to take 2 blood tests to get the CGM going) ... I was all set to see if the sensor would work as well, and as long on my body as the other sites do that I place it in.

Sadly, it didn't ... by Day 3,  I was seeing gaps on the trend line or 1/2 hour here and there, along with a few other warnings (e.g. having to restart sensor due to sensor failed warnings - and I tried twice that day to restart).   I realised it wasn't worth continuing to try to keep it on.

The only three factors that I can come up with:

  1. When coming back from a walk as well that day, had my boot cuff (yes, it was still cool here in Canada 3 weeks ago), did I perhaps rub on the sensor too much since it's advised not to have anything bump up against it).
  2. The sensor was expired and this time my luck ran out?  The majority of the time 2 out of 3 sensors I use are expired and work fine  (I can only afford to buy new sensors a few times a year due to cost, once in a blue moon I get a lovely package of expired sensors from American diabetics who do have insurance coverage).
  3. Is my receiver starting to maybe go (I haven't had any warnings yet that should say it's on going to stop).  It's getting close to being 2 years, again, the receiver was gifted to me, and I really have no idea of how much it was used prior to my receiving it.  I have already replaced the transmitter portion that is inserted into the sensor, and so far, it's gone past the 6 months time frame. So eventually, this will go as well and I'll have to buy a new one.
I'm now approaching into my 3rd week without a sensor, and in the beginning I did miss it, but one thing I didn't was how it affects my sleep at night with alarming (combine that with menopause hot flashes, etc. I don't sleep like a cute little kitty).  The same goes with my insulin pump as well, that I'm still not reattached to since the end of January when I went on my holidays to Cuba.

The one thing with not having the sensor on,  I'm not constantly obsessing about the trend of my blood sugars during this period, and from others I have spoken to who wear this device, they can be checking it alot compared to my once in an hour check up.  Along with comparing it against my blood meter (and with the calf placement I was doing check up alot due to how it was not as close to the real thing from the blood meter).  I'm very fortunate that I can still detect when I'm going low (though I think wearing the CGM has made me abit lazy since I woke up to a few in the 2 mmol/l range ... which I never used to do).  Also, I know for some die hard CGMS wearers,  it can be dangerous due to their not having hypoglycemic unawareness!

So, yes, I will be placing a sensor on again, probably next week, and I will probably not be placing it back on my calf again due to the results I had with first placement.  I'll stick to my usual spots, and know that I will hopefully get my 3-4 weeks out of the sensor.  Maybe if I had coverage, I'd be different with not being so anal about keeping the sensor in place, but when you're not quite a pro a pole dancing, well, a cat girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Oh, and the outcome of the MRI, despite my twitching knee during the whole process?  I had been trying for past 3 years in Quebec with no success of seeing a specialist (I tried but kept on being told to call back in 6 months and there might be an opening) and  GP who looked at my MRI in the beginning, said it was my age and  arthritis.   Finally, I've been diagnosed by an orthopaedic surgeon  -  with a torn meniscus  - and am now on waiting list for surgery - whoo! whoo!.  It'll be nice to have a knee that doesn't go wonky on me - but at least I finally got to see someone who knows their stuff (and they're interested in what I do within the DOC as well)!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... taxation time in Canada

It's that time of the year again ... filing your income taxes here in Canada.

For those of us with health conditions, like myself with Type 1 diabetes, it can be a challenge to figure out what you can claim as " eligible medical expense " ( Lines 330 and 331 ).

Well, help is on the way thanks to Christina from Hamilton who reads my #dblogs from time to time - and had sent me a link from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to pass on to you.  It shows what Canadians can claim on our returns if you or your spouse/common-law partner paid for "eligible medical expenses" during the 12-month period ending in 2015 (or any that you did not claim in 2014). Whoo! Whoo!

The info is all pretty well straight forward, and you might even come across a medical expense that you didn't realise you could claim (I saw a few that I didn't know about).  Click on the following link  to find out more -

And if you've not applied for  the Disability Tax Credit (I've written about it at in the past) - then it's time to get cracking!  When I applied for it, I was granted a total of 15 years.  You can find more information about how to proceed with filling out the form through the great website run by Barb Wagstaff at Diabetes Advocacy.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The pros/cons of diabetes costs in Ontario

I am fast learning 6 months after my move from Quebec, that though we may pay less in provincial taxes, some costs are higher.  Though the one pro so far here in the small town I live in … when I go to walk in clinic (wait time is far less than in Quebec but for surgical procedures about the same according to 2014 statistics).  This is where things excel, along with referral to a doctor being quick when going to the clinic here in my town.  So I guess it all depends on what is more important to the individual.  For myself though at the moment, seeing my salary and eventually savings when I retire go towards funding the pharmaceutical companies due to my type 1 diabetes, is getting me abit down.  Luckily, my Dad taught me early on in age, whatever I was making, even at $7/ – to save for a rainy day - though I don't know if he meant it to be used on medical expenditures).
I’m finding that prescription costs in the small town I live in are much higher than  in Quebec.  Most of my prescriptions costs are up by $10-$20 more, along with a prescription fee being tacked onto that price as well.  It doesn’t help, living in a smaller town, as my pharmacist explained when I switched the brand of pen needle I use to one that is $25 less.  It’s all about how much they, the pharmacy buys for their clients to use, that controls the prices we pay due to volume.   It’s like really?  So, maybe moving my prescriptions to a bigger city (making a trip every 3 months) – is the way to go while I still have wheels. 

So, some of my little tricks I’m learning in order to feel like I have some sort of control as to how much the big pharmaceutical companies/pharmacy makes from me is to shell out for 3 months supplies of my prescriptions here in Ontario.  This makes the prescription fee less expensive (ohhh and I earn more travel rewards faster on my credit card BUT just have to pay it off in time before I get hit with interest).  Prescription fees in the town I live in can range from $8.41 up to $20.  The reason for the variance floors me to no end and sadly to make the drive to Ottawa, where Costco only charges $4 (remember – you do not need to be a member there to use the prescription service).  I did try to see if the current pharmacy I go to could match Costco’s … but nope … not possible.

Now, if I wasn’t making enough, then it would be a different case with being on the Trillium prescription plan here in Ontario.   I’ve been working on/off over the past 40 years, so I’ll never qualify unless I declare bankruptcy or some other way.  So there’s no win win situation – as one retired person put it to me– if they had to pay out what I do for my diabetes health – they’d not be able to go on their holidays.  That sort of hit me hard with that remark, and even worse was being told that having the insulin pump and CGM would be something they wouldn’t have in order to still do what they want to do.  Yuppers, I can see some of you stunned at that too.  If only they knew what these devices we now have to keep us well controlled can do to make our lives more productive (hey – we’re paying taxes to help pay for their pensions, etc.).  Now, if they’re reading this, maybe my they’ll rethink their comment.

The magic age of 65 is still abit of a ways away, but the main earner of the family after 35 years of working is giving the heave hoe to his work place, since if he stays on, he'll still be paying into a pension fund that won't mean he gets more if he leaves later.   So, while we both have good health, hoping to take advantage of some time off before we are sitting in our rocking chairs watching reruns.  I'm also  hopefully still alive and kicking to take advantage of the services my parents boast about.  

Yes, I’m freaked out about getting old (I can live with the aching knee joints and taking naps in the afternoon sun on the porch) – it’s all about the cost of staying healthy with my diabetes and trying to enjoy the golden years!  Anxiety over this is something I have to keep on pushing away and telling it to F-off!!  

The other option is to move to another province to get more bang for our bucks ( New Brunswick has been calling me for a few years and we are going there in June to check it out - compare it's medical coverage - cost of living in that part of the east coast of Canada ).  

NB:  If you’ve never applied for the Disability Tax Credit that I’d written about in the forums at … then check out how to go about it, along with other tips on how to save at the Diabetes Advocacy website link that you will find here

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Low carb recipes for Easter and rutabaga fries

As I'm contemplating where to go this afternoon to have some green beer on St-Patty's day ... I'm realising very quickly that Easter is just around the corner.

I'm always looking for recipes that are low carb and satisfy both myself as a Type 1 diabetic (T1D) and my friends who aren't that often get to sample some of the meals I make.

I probably will be doing something in a crock pot for this year, since I'm not sure what amount of time I will have to play around in the kitchen, so of course, there are many sites out there that have some great meals.  One of my fav's lately due to taking out a book from the library, is Stephanie O'Dea's Make It Fast, Cook It Slow .  It's based on her cooking with a slow cooker for 365 days back in 2007 for her family of 4 (and contains many gluten free recipes as well).   You can find her at A Year of Slow Cooking to find many recipes that are in the book.
Picture courtesy of
In my search though to find some low carb recipes, not just for Easter, but for all year round noshing, was a post on rutabaga fries.  I have this rutabaga sitting in my cold cellar ready to be used (my original plan was to use it for a vegan cassoulet recipe I like to make up in the crock pot).  Now it has another mission in life.

I've made similar versions of oven fries with sweet potatoes  parsnips, carrots, and find oven baking them (even potatoes if you don't mind sacrificing your insulin for extra carbs) are much healthier in my opinion then the usual method done in deep fat fryers (and I don't possess a deep fryer due to the fear of fat splatting on my skin).

So, without further adieu, click on this link - to see how to serve up a low carb version of the usual potato fries (and remember you can do your own thing with what spices/herbs you might add to the recipe - I'm a tweaker of many recipes that I come across to suit my taste buds) !

And if you're looking for low carb ideas for Easter, check out's low-carb expert Laura Dolson's tips for what to cook up for family and friends at this link.

Sorry if this post makes you drool.

Picture by Olga Shvartsur (aka "Olechka") @2013