Archive for March, 2014

Vacation Nightmare with the Pump!!!

Vacation Nightmare with Pump

I consider myself to be well organized in matters of my diabetes.  I have been doing basically the same routine for over 40 years, maybe only 15 years with the pump, and each time I have to readjust my routine, something goes awry.  Unfortunately this time I was on a cruise ship.

When packing, always make sure to have extra everything, which I do, and in my travel bag I have designated a baggie with extra infusion set, prep pads, and alcohol swabs, basically the things that have no expiration date.  On my most recent trip, I packed 2 extra cylinders of insulin for my pump, which must be kept refrigerated.  So once arriving at my mothers house in Fl. Lauderdale, into the fridge went my back-up insulin, as we were there several days ahead of cruising.  Morning of cruise arrived, we were packed and ready to go.  While waiting for our cabin to be ready,  we relaxed on the  back deck, already meeting some characters whom we would be sharing this adventure with.   Hours later, after enjoying our first of many great meals, it dawned on me, yeah you guessed it.  My extra insulin was still in my moms fridge.  Needless to say, panic set in, more for my poor husband than me.  I new I had enough in the pump for 3 days, surely we could buy some somewhere.

Next morning we visited the infirmary,  quickly being told that they had some, however, they did not sell whole bottles and it was costly.  The MD told us our first stop was on Cozumel, where he was sure the main pharmacy there would have some cheaper.  Apparently, money was not the object at this point, as my husband was ready to have me heliported back to Ft. Lauderdale.   After a 6 mile taxi ride into the main village, going from one so called “pharmacy” to the next, all within blocks of each other,  we soon realized they call any corner store that sells suntan lotion and toothpaste, a pharmacy.  Following another lead, we came upon a Medical Clinic, surely they would have some.  They did not.  The look on my husbands face made me so sad, that I had caused him all this grief and worry.  The clinic was kind enough to call the “Mega Pharmacy”  before we trekked over there, another 3miles away.  Success!!!

We made it there in no time as my husband’s pace seemed to have increased at this point.  We entered and spoke with the only clerk who understood us, it took them time to find, for some reason, but it was a trusted name brand of insulin.  NEXT!!!   The cost was very reasonable, as we are all aware, we in the states are getting ripped off for pharmaceuticals, this bottle cost me what my co-pay is with insurance, however, my credit card rejected payment due to “security reasons” and being used out of the usual territory.   NOTE TO SELF,  next time I travel I will call the credit card company first.  I couldn’t use my cell, too expensive, so we paid cash, a whopping $35.   Now  for the pilgrimage back to the ship,  after attaining some ice in a baggie to put insulin in for the long walk back, there was a sigh of relief.  I just didn’t inform my husband that the only canister I had was the one in the pump which are not meant to be refilled.  Once the  piston has pushed cork up to top, there is not an  empty compartment left for insulin.  (if you use a pump, you will appreciate this next move.)  In my McGyveresq thinking, I took an empty syringe, filled it with air and pushed it into canister several times, eventually the cork was pushed back to bottom and I was able to refill my canister for the end of the trip.

All  in all, I missed one day of using the pump, I simply took  many shots and lots of  finger sticks to check,  like the old days.    Blood sugars stayed 130 or lower and I was able to enjoy the rest of the trip, ready for my next vacation,  with better preparation.

Prevent, Not Treat the Highs

Prevent, Don't Treat Highs

My greatest reason for this website has been to help educate and free people, diabetics especially, of feeling like their life is nothing but limitations.  A diagnosis of Diabetes should be considered a health alert, a warning  of impending danger, or damage, which you are inflicting on your body by your poor food choices.  However, my greatest challenge is that of the several nursing facilities  in my area,  and THIS, has been a great motivator, as these residents do not make their own choices and should not be victims of the ignorance of the medical professionals making it for them, including nursing and dietary.

I have recently had a heated discussion with nursing about  a diabetic patient who innocently answered my question of  “how have your blood sugars been reading?”  and not for the first time, the response was,  I don’t know, I don’t think they have been checking.  Of course my response is,  you would certainly remember if your fingers were getting stuck.  As it turns out, after asking her nurse about this, I was informed because she is a Type 2, on oral  medications, we have no orders to check her BS levels (blood sugar) and nursing informs me we do A1c checks when necessary.  In the  mean time, daily numbers are somewhere in the clouds, affecting this persons health and  daily activity levels.   Apparently because most oral medications do not cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugars, they are not worried.  Well EXCUSE ME, but this patient suffers from  “pins and needles”  on both hands and also from the knees down, causing her balance to be non-existent, a common risk factor of neuropathy, is losing her vision, and reports her sugars before she got here were always over 300,  I would think her doses would require some monitoring and adjusting, but then again, I am not a doctor.     She may not be the most aware person, but she did tell me when she was home she checked at least twice a day.  To top it off,  she tells me she eats the cakes or other deserts on her tray because as she puts it, ” they should  know I’m diabetic, I thought it was sugar free”.

I see the meals that are served in several area nursing homes,  there is no difference from a diabetic meal plan to regular meal plan.  Apparently the choice of treatment for the elderly diabetics is to treat AFTER the meal , of course if they are not checking post meal BS levels, there will be no correction, however, if you are on oral medications, there really is no correction other than simply eating the appropriate meal.  In my mind,  simply crafting an overall  “healthier” diet  would fix this, however, I have been informed this is how the people of this territory  are used to eating and to change this would certainly be unacceptable, or in other words, a  “culture shock.”

I moved here 6-7 years ago, and my eating habits were constantly criticized from fellow employees, until on two separate occasions, co-workers, overweight and newly diagnosed with Type 2, would religiously ask me questions about meals, from what they had for breakfast to what they brought for lunch,  exercise, and anything else that affected their diabetes.  Over several months, both these young ladies lost weight, both of their doctors were thrilled with their new glucose levels, including A1c, one even improved her sleep apnea problem.   They would always come into my office and report their lab numbers to be, and they were just beaming with accomplishment.  These are the two young ladies who inspired me to start this site for people of my geographical area, and obviously anyone else who takes the time, and it does take time,  and commitment,  to improve your health.  It’s not an overnight thing, but it can be done.

Unfortunately, I cannot take on the medical field, the old way of thinking of some of these doctors, but hopefully, I can put a bug in the ear of the family members to voice their concerns for their loved ones.   A little education can go a long way.   Yes, they do have my business card, but most do not have computers, but I will continue to be an advocate and  voice my concerns along side of them.

 

 

Always Something…..

Always Something

Just after I feel proud of the way I’ve been able to handle my diabetes over these 40+ years, I find myself battling, of all things, sleep.  It has easily been a year or more of feeling exhausted, run down, foggy, and falling asleep just sitting still for a moment.  Not a big deal one might say, however, picture this at your work desk,  or in your car in a line of traffic  behind a stopped school bus,  all of a sudden horns are blowing,  you open your eyes to find the school bus blocks ahead of you.  Not very comforting.

One might say this has happened to everyone, and I will be the first to agree, however, these things were happening more and more, and not just after a long day at work, but in the morning on my way to work!!!  After what I thought was a full nights sleep.  Sound asleep from the minute my head hit the pillow until my bladder woke me in the morning.   Yes troubling.  When I mentioned it to people they would just say it happens to all of us as we get older.  Do people not realize age is not an illness!!!  But that’s another soapbox.  When brought to my internist attention, her first response is to do labs, ”it must be hypoglycemia, lets review my diet, exercise, or supplements, then tell  me I do not fit  the apnea profile.  Well guess what, I do not fit the ”diabetic” profile either but here I am.  When all the labs come back normal it is pushed away again, blaming the “highs and lows” of diabetes.  Of course, why didn’t I think of that!!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a glutton for problems, but I do know when answers are needed.  I gradually stopped enjoying everything I once loved, didn’t look forward to things which usually brought me pleasure, ie; vacations, visiting family, going out after work, cooking, working out, nothing.  I was happier when my husband was away on business so I could come home from work and do nothing; no cooking, just sit, veg and fall asleep.  I was angry ALL the time, because I knew this wasn’t me, and luckily my husband knew it too.  We managed to get an overnight  Pulse Ox gadget to test my vitals while asleep.  Oh surprise,  it turns out my 02 levels (oxygen) were dropping to as low as 72% throughout the night.  Normal is 90% and over.  Needless to say now my internist was paying attention.  She felt the need to stress to me that of course “being diabetic” this was a perfect set-up for stroke or heart attack during the night.  Now the fun part…..the overnight Sleep Study at the hospital.  One would wonder how you can sleep with electrodes across your chest, wires down your pant leg, pulse ox on one hand, more electrodes wired and glued to your hair,  face and neck, and an nasal canula in your nose, but tell you what, when you have gotten so little sleep, over so long a period of time,  you fall asleep.  Even knowing the ones watching you in the control room can tell when you move your eyes!!!

Well, the nightmare told us what we knew from the simple pulse ox,  my brain was getting little oxygen during the evening, I was not going into the deepest stage of sleep, but for about 20 mins nightly and so I WAS TIRED!!!!  Months later,  no big change since I  cannot sleep with the damn mask, now I’m up all night adjusting it,

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