Summer Staycation adds more respect for people living with diabetes.

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IMG_2500I have just returned from a marvelous “staycation” in Phoenix! We have had record high temperatures and the humidity is killer. I let my daughter bring a friend and we hit the pool at the resort! About one hour into my relaxation time, my insulin pump began alarming, and it wouldn’t stop! This was a Saturday and I was truly and honestly grateful (not frustrated) that I had a 24 hr. helpline available. My pump is just past warranty and it was dead.

I will need to sign for a new one tomorrow. Did it take extra time? Yes. Was it inconvenient for the regular population? Yes. (Have I ever been the “regular population”? No.) Was I grateful? Yes. I was able to call my endocrinologist’s office and get the doctor on call (thank you Dr. Reddy for your prompt attention).
I had my Humalog and a syringe for emergencies, but no long acting insulin. I was grateful that I was able to call my mom to hit Walgreens and join me poolside.

This experience brought me back to point zero. I am not naïve as to how the MDI (multiple daily injections) schedule works. I followed it strictly for nearly 15 years. I am feeling fine with my new routine of Humalog and Lantus until my pump arrives. I know how to figure out the ratio converting from an insulin pump to MDIs. I forgot the bliss of using a pump and my CGM. Luckily, my CGM still is in use. This however keeps me updated on a closer plane to my fluctuating blood glucose levels. I have managed to keep my bg levels in a tight range during this time. However, it has taken me over 15 injections in just under 48 hours to accomplish this. No small feat!

I have reached for my nonexistent pump, countless times. I have seen the CGM readout and either reached to suspend, temp basal or bolus more times than I care to admit. True, I am on a “staycation”. This is not my normal schedule and my food and drink are wildly different. With these MDIs I have new bruises that I had forgotten from my childhood. I have forgotten the rigorous time schedules of MDIs. I do not have trouble helping my diabetic clients in Phoenix understand theirs’, just my own– when unexpected.

I want to remind all of us faced with some form of diabetes to respect the newly diagnosed, those that need to stay with MDIs (whether by choice or by insurance or funding issues). This life is manageable, but is by all means difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it is still difficult with a pump and CGM. Diabetes stinks and I hate it with a vengeance most of the time! I still respect those living with it and probably more than most of us.

I am reminded of the years of my childhood that I spent awaking at the exact same time each day, testing my blood glucose and injecting insulin exactly 30 min. before breakfast. It didn’t matter if I was at a sleepover at a friend’s house and sitting there counting those 30 min. alone, eating my breakfast alone, crawling back into bed and then waking with the other girls to end up having a glass of water or a diet coke at 10:00 a.m.

It didn’t matter that I was scared to death of having a boyfriend see me have to inject. It was hard enough to watch the expressions on my friends’ faces change, as well as their friendships, due to my excessive need for the growth hormone insulin and my not exactly perfect diet regimen at that time (I might have been approaching the sneaking food era). I gained weight and no longer recognized myself. I now know it was unavoidable and frightening, but hard to justify during high school. It was horrifying, and sad to admit, something that will never leave me.

This experience of being back on daily injections, while modern technology has failed me, has been a stark reminder. I am reminded of how difficult it is to manage the endocrine system. I admire those tackling this challenge daily, by whatever means necessary. I implore pharmaceutical companies to rethink their profit margins, I genuinely ask pharm reps to question this within their own companies (Ha, I am not kidding! Those of you that have the access, please use it!). I thank dearly and hope to re-inspire physicians as to why they are needed, even in 15 minute appointment increments. I challenge every doctor in their field to recognize the importance of the struggle of their patients. I am a good patient. I am in control. I try not to be a complainer. I desperately need a prioritized relationship with my doctor.

It is hard, but sometimes I appreciate being set back a step or two in order to remind me of where I have been and where I am going. Find this in your own lives! Take charge and express thankfulness whenever you can! I am grateful for so many things. I am grateful for the diligent doctors, nurses and PA’s. I am thankful for lifelong friends that have dealt with a friend living with a chronic illness. I am grateful to boyfriends that were not afraid. I am grateful for employers that were not afraid. I am grateful to coaches and instructors that were not afraid. I thank random friends that simply gave me some positive memories in times of trial. I applaud all that face challenges of any kind- Chronic illness or not, be strong and appreciate your support systems in whatever forms they appear! Then, do not be afraid to stand up for yourselves.
Stay well and Healthy!

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