65 mg/dl

On the second day of blood sugar my meter gave to me, a 65 mg/dl at 6:45 AM!

I would say last night I accomplished the no eating after 8 pm feat again (there were a few almonds, but who’s counting?)..

Let me explain a little more what the function of this goal might be in terms of nighttime blood sugar management. I want to be clear that it’s not just self-restraint for general health purposes.

‘Insulin on board’ is a term to describe the amount of insulin you have previously injected that is still working in your system. In general, insulin takes 20-30 minutes to become active in the body and has a duration of action of between 2 – 4 hours. That’s a big range, but I’ve noted that the max action of insulin is typically over for me after about 2 hours, and I don’t think much past 3 hours back when I’m considering insulin on board.

All this means that if I stop eating at 7 pm, like I did last night, then when I check right before bed, the number I’m dealing with will be more static, and thus easier to alter without as much unpredictability.

Last night I had a beef taco and a chicken tostada with a friend of mine at a taco stand, before going to a concert and puppet show in a shed. It was a little weird, but it fit just fine into my health resolution, so that must be a good sign.

I knew I’d be a bit high because I took a conservative insulin dose so I wouldn’t have to deal with low blood sugar while driving. When I got home later in the evening, my bg was 167. I took a unit of insulin but did not come down at all over the next hour. I took another half unit before bed.

65 is a little low. Below 70 is considered hypoglycemia. Times like these I wish I had a CGM so that I could see if I’ve been low for hours or if I had just gently arched down to this level right before bed (the latter being a preferable outcome).

I’ll explain more about ranges later. It’s important to remember as a reader, that management is highly individualized, and this is just my particular style.

Happy Monday.
Katie

119 mg/dl

On the first day of blood sugar my meter gave to me!

a 119 mg/dl at 9:20 AM.

9:20 AM?! – I know! Who gets to sleep that late in adulthood? The weekends are my sleeping time. I am like a bear, storing up for the next 5 days of waking up at 6:30 AM.

NOTICE: I am going to use “bg,” “blood sugar,” and “blood glucose,” interchangeably in these entries. They all mean blood glucose.

So how did this 119 mg/dl come to be? Well let me tell you, it was hard fought.

When I came up with this bg blog reporting idea, I didn’t consider the fact that it would expose my schedule and social activities, or lack thereof. Last night, Saturday night, I had no plans, which was exciting, so I cooked dinner, finished before 8 pm, and thought, “I’m well on my way to one of the four days!”

At 8:30 my bg was 96 mg/dl. Whew! I love a 96. Sometimes when I feel down about life, I check my blood sugar and it’s in the 90’s and I think, “Well, I’m sure doing something right!!!”

But I did not trust the stability of this reading. At 9:30 I checked again, just to see the trend. 149 mg/dl. Hmm, a slow rise that could very well have stabilized. “Great,” I thought, maybe I’ll even dip back down a little before bed.

At 11, I checked once more, just prior to laying down. 220 mg/dl. “Ugh”. Not good. So you know, my ideal range for prior to bed, if insulin action has ceased is 90 – 130 mg/dl. That’s just me. I was well above that.

I chose to take 2 units of fast-acting insulin. I also took 2 units of long-acting insulin, because on weekends when I sleep in past my morning dosing time, if I don’t take a little the night before, my bg will creep up in the AM hours.

At 2:30 AM I awoke, still caught up in my dreams, and feeling a little confused. 2:30 AM is sort of confusing time of day anyway, but I decided to check just in case. 101 mg/dl. Hmm. “Great!” Right where I wanted to be. I went back to sleep.

5:30 AM, I awoke again. Slippery mental state. Definitely low. 59 mg/dl (I hate to admit this, because night time lows scare people, but my body is great at waking me up…thanks body). So I ate 2 small spoonfuls of honey (about 1 tbsp in all), 2 cheddar crackers, and half a spoonful of peanut butter. Not scientific, just going on feeling.

Back to sleep!

I expected to wake up around 8 and be a little bit high. When I woke up at 9:30, I thought, “Ugh, I’m going to be really high.” But! But!? Somehow, 119 mg/dl.

So, there you go.

That was tedious huh?

Thanks for sticking it out.

Until tomorrow,

Katie

 

Diabetes Resolutions

I’m a person who loves resolutions. I love the celebration of shedding old parts of ourselves and adopting new habits built on all of the tremendous self-growth of the past year. That’s what the New Year symbolizes for me. Whereas other times of the year we resist change, both in the external world and the internal world, right around 12/31 we start to act like we think it’s the greatest thing ever.

So I was asking myself, in addition to my all of the resolutions I’d like to make in every other realm of my life, should I have a diabetes resolution? And then I decided, no. Basic diabetes management is a big enough resolution. It’s like asking your friend without diabetes what their health goal for the coming year would be and them saying, “Well, I’d like to start pricking my finger 8 times a day and counting all the carbs I eat and explaining very intimate details about my body to both my closest friends and to complete strangers multiple times a day. I’d also like to introduce a lot of self-shaming and restraint into my eating, exercise, and general lifestyle habits.”

I mean that’s big enough right?

But I was writing in my journal this morning and as I always do I made a note of my morning bg (this is not a ‘health journal’, just my journal journal), and I was moved to also note that the elevated number was likely due to late-night snacking. Now here, I want to make a critical explanation, because I hate overly simplified diabetes rhetoric. It makes it seem like, “Well, if those people with diabetes could just do what they were supposed to do, it’d all be fine!” No! my blood glucose could just as easily sneak high in the night without me having a late-night snack, if I didn’t have enough insulin in my system to cover the sugars my liver is naturally pumping out all the time (just like everybody’s is). And sometimes, not eating after dinner makes this more likely to happen – especially if I finished dinner early and had less insulin in my system overall, perhaps because it was a dinner particularly low in carbs.

The complexity of diabetes is what originally inspired me to write a blog. It’s like being part of a secret world – the ins and outs of blood sugar. I imagine myself like Mrs. Frizzle. taking her class to the pancreas for a day. So I thought, why not make a diabetes resolution and a.) use my blog for accountability, and b.) take you all along on the complicated journey that is every blood sugar reading.

I realize this plan has some flaws. People with T1D are gonna be like – “why would I want to read about her blood sugar when I have to manage my own?” And people without T1D are gonna be like – “why would I want to read about her blood sugar when I don’t have to manage my own?” But whatever, this is my resolution.

So here it is, stated clearly, my small diabetes resolution-experiment:

  • 4 out of seven days of the week, I will cease eating by 8 pm unless I have a low blood sugar and have to treat it (treating it means eating something, FYI).

What this really means for me is that I’ll be prompted to eat dinner earlier and eliminate post-dinner snacking on those days.

I’ll post my BG every morning along with a brief explanation of my theories behind the number. I could be right, I could be wrong, and we’ll literally never know!

Cauliflower is the new steak

Because steak will never be the new cauliflower, I’ve been making this recipe for cauliflower steaks out of Bon Appetit magazine, as often as possible lately.

Often I tell people that, while I can eat anything with diabetes that I want as long as I cover it with insulin and exercise, etc., I generally avoid white foods, as these tend to be laden with quick-burning, simple carbs.

Of course the cauliflower stands in stark defiance of this rule. For example, if you eat a whole head of cauliflower* you have consumed only 146 calories. That is crazy. Also only 29 grams of carbs and a whopping 12 grams of fiber. For reference, one Clif bar has roughly 250 calories, 42 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fiber.* As you can see, raw cauliflower is clearly the better cross-country road trip snack.

That’s a joke, but the cauli steak recipe really has changed the way I think about this Brassica. It’s buttery, rich, and delicious, and goes great underneath sauteed ground pork with sage, and I imagine underneath many other meat and vegetarian-based proteins. Plus, diabetically* speaking, the steaks and the accompanying puree both have an almost potato-like heartiness that I often miss, without delivering a big punch of carbs. And also it’s totally beautiful to look at before you eat it or serve it to your loved ones. Let me know your thoughts and variations if you try it out!

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*https://www.nutritionix.com/i/clif-bar/cool-mint-chocolate/5b4f8589a9db904b1fcf24f1

*USDA, google sidebar

*As always, this is a made up word (but aren’t they all?) that you shouldn’t use in scientific papers or elsewhere.

Just don’t touch me, part 1

This is the first in a series (2 part, more?) called, “Just don’t touch me.”

A couple of weeks ago I was walking home from work in the afternoon. I was wearing one of my favorite dresses, black and sleeveless with multi-colored print around the hem. Is this relevant? One never knows.

I was deep in thought; lost in the twists and turns of my mind, but beginning to unravel and straighten things out. I came to an intersection where the fast road meets the city roads and things slow; sort of the awkward convergence of residential and business, sidewalks in pieces and people sparse.

Up ahead, a man approaches. He’s wearing a hat, sunglasses, somewhat clean clothes sans much style. He looks younger than me by a bit. We’re heading towards each other. Typically, you might imagine the scene unfolding in the following way:

  • Our paths meet
  • We look at each
  • One or the other says hello, or nods, or doesn’t
  • We both continue on our path
  • The end.

But it didn’t go down quite like that. As I approach the man, who I would characterize all around as blasé and non-descript, I can tell he’s staring at me hard, despite the sunglasses. We’re even with each other now and instead of walking by parallel to me, he seems to block my path. An altercation is imminent; I can feel it.

Then, with a gross mixture of authority and insecurity [bravado], he says, “You’re coming with me,” to which I reply, “No I’m not,” scoffing and attempting to walk away. He sort of side follows me, like walking backwards beside me, and says, “Yes you are. I’m going to take you by the hand and you’re coming with me.” So I sort of side look at him and feel a spout of words erupting: “Don’t touch me.”

“Alright, alright, settle down,” he says. I should settle down. True, my blood pressure had gone up. He was right. Thank goodness he was looking out for my well-being.

“Settle down. I’m not going to touch you unless you say it’s ok.” Wait, are we having a discussion about this? Is there a world in which he thought I was just going to say, “Ok, yeah. I’m ready. I don’t have anything else going on. Also, I trust that your hands are clean and that you’re going to lead me somewhere safe and provide an interesting conversation – let’s go!”

No.

That’s crazy. Just like the man who was now following me.

So what’s a woman to do?

He says, “I just want to get to know you better.” Better than what? Better than absolutely not at all? Better than my favorite black dress?

“That’s nice,” I said. Nearly walking out in front of traffic to get away from him. “What, you don’t like me?” he asks(?) still following me.

Now here, I could have said one of two things (or nothing, which may have been the safest choice, in hindsight). I could have said what I did, which was, “I just have other things to do.” This was true. But what was also true would have been, “No, I don’t like you. I am experiencing strong dislike for you. In fact, this is a prime example of how someone feels when they really can’t stand another person.” Why did I have to give him a pleasant excuse? Why did I have to protect his feelings? Is it because I’ve been so conditioned by the patriarchy that I am complicit in appeasing others over speaking my truth? Maybe a little, but overall, I would say it’s because he posed a threat to my physical security and taking care of myself necessitated placating him.

Hmmm.

I hurried across a street, dodging traffic. He didn’t follow me, I don’t think, but the rage he ignited did. My thoughts had been completely hijacked. He’d exerted his power to distract me from my world and insert himself as a centrifuge of anger and fear. It is hard to get much done when one is spiraling in anger and fear.

What does this have to do with diabetes? Nothing and everything. As I mentioned in a previous post, diabetes is inextricably part of who I am now – so it makes more sense to me now to blog about life, which inevitably includes diabetes. Autoimmune conditions involve a self-attack, the body’s immune system going into overdrive and turning on its own cells, etc. In the case of Type 1 diabetes, the body attacks and destroys its insulin-producing cells (beta cells). In opposition to emotional autoimmunity* (term created), I don’t intend to let anger wreak havoc inside of me. Instead of swallowing my anger, you could say this post is a way of releasing it – so that I can get back to what I was doing.

 

 

Does diabetes limit your life?

My dad came to visit me for Father’s Day this past weekend. After dinner one night we got to talking about my work and about how the landscape of diabetes and its management has changed over the years. He asked about my experience of living with diabetes and how it had changed over the past 12 years or so. Dad, who I probably haven’t ever talked as openly about diabetes with, was more willing to be curious than I previously remembered. He asked me: “So – do you find that it (diabetes) limits your life?”

What an interesting question.

If you had asked me two days after diagnosis, I would have started bawling and talked about all of the dreams I had that I could never do now that I had to tote diabetes around with me. Dreams like: hiking the AT, kayaking in a remote jungle, abandoning society with no cellphone or attachment to the outside world…

If you had asked me two weeks after diagnosis I would have given some sort of manic response cloaked in coping positivity, like, “No! It has made me stronger, more organized, and more appreciative of life!”

If you had asked me two years after diagnosis I would have probably given you some more truthful examples, like how hard it was to be a summer camp counselor only 5 months after I’d been diagnosed; to be chipper and on full-time, while trying to give myself shots, check my blood sugar, eat someone else’s cooking, sleep in a cabin full of 8-year-olds, and otherwise make sure everyone was safe and entertained.

And then there have been other moments when the thought of doing it and doing diabetes, was just too much. I’ve said no to weekend plans and trips with friends, stayed in at night because I didn’t want to have to keep strategizing about my blood sugar so that I made sure to be at a good level to drive a car.

But – and I may be conveniently forgetting something – I’ve never not done anything I really wanted to do because of diabetes. Maybe I’ve been more exhausted before, during, and after it, maybe it’s made me ask myself how important something was to me before committing, but I’ve kayaked in a jungle, have gone on long trips, and have otherwise lived the life that I wanted to.

And – what’s interesting is how the “life that I wanted” has changed. My desires seem to be increasingly able to co-exist with a life that gives me space for diabetes management.

Natalie Goldberg says our obsessions can be our inspiration – and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t obsessed with diabetes. But I’d also be lying if I pretended that obsessions wasn’t a prerequisite of diabetes; either you’re obsessed with it upfront in order to manage the moment to moment decisions and tasks, or you end up obsessed with the symptoms of high or low blood sugar, and other short and long-term complications. And to say I’m obsessed with diabetes is really barely scratching the surface – what I’m obsessed with is what diabetes represents – the interaction between our bodies and our environments. Between the internal and external world. Diabetes gives you a front row seat to watch the effects of every bite of food, every step you take, every bit of anxiety you hold on to, minute of sleep you get, sunburn, bug bite, cold, allergy, all of it – it’s all a weird dance. Or orchestra. Or rowdy old-time band (represented by featured image taken at Shakori Hills music festival, 2018).

So, after traveling a long and winding mental road to an answer, I replied to Dad that the question didn’t quite fit for me anymore. It was the first time I’d realized this, that the answer required a reimagining of the question. Deciphering whether diabetes limits my life, or impacts it in positive or negative ways doesn’t make sense anymore, because it’s an inseparable part of my life and experience. And letting go of that qualifying, deciphering, and even meaning making, feels like a relief.

Snakes (and diabetes)

Just kidding. This is just about snakes.

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One snake, really.

Sometimes I hear people say things like, “I hate snakes.”

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Ok. Maybe they have their reasons.

But, in case they don’t…

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I would advocate for a reappraisal.

I’m not saying they’re good to cuddle, or would make a great pet (why reduce wildness, anyway?).

Of all the vicious forces in the world, she seems an unlikely enemy.