Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Backpack Full of Boulders

Grad school is hard.

I knew this going in.  Especially entering a field as intensive as social work.  You've got your homework. You've got your field work. You've got your homework for your field work. Classes. Commuting.  Commuting with a broken CD player while the same 5 songs play on the radio. Your part-time job.  But all of this is in addition to the heaviest work of all--your diabetes.

Having diabetes for so long, I hardly think twice before starting on an endeavor about how it will affect me.  I just assume that it will fall into stride and I will figure it out as I go along. However, this isn't always as easy as it sounds.  Driving home from central to north Jersey at 9pm is annoying at best, but when your blood sugar has been running low all day and you don't know why, it becomes downright aggravating and even dangerous.  Without a sensor I am constantly wondering if my blood sugar is going to drop while I am driving, so I test like I nut before and during.  And the last thing I want to do is wait 15-20 minutes to make my hour drive home, when I have to wake up at 6am the next day for field work.

On one of these late drives home, I was thinking about how tough grad school felt. I'm typically a good student, and I love social work and love what I'm doing. So why did I feel like I was crawling through the mud by the end of the week?

It slowly dawned on me that going into grad school, I already had a heavy load.  I pictured a backpack stuffed with rocks, with straps that were sutured into my shoulders. Sometimes we forget about how heavy diabetes and other things can be, and how when we start a journey, we can't take the backpack off to lighten our load.  We just have to adjust to the extra weight. Maybe do some squats. Or whatever the mental equivalent of squats is, to strengthen ourselves. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spare A Rose

Ah, Valentine's Day. Is there any other day quite as simultaneously loved and hated by so many? I think not. But instead of whining about being single or getting gross and googly-eyed over your significant other, here's a better idea: Spare a Rose, Save a Child.

The big picture behind this program is much more than just sacrificing roses--and it will last much longer than the end of February.  By taking the money you would spend on a rose for your significant other and donating it to Spare a Rose, you provide an entire month of life for a child with diabetes.  One rose = $5 = one month of medical supplies.  One dozen roses = $60 = a year of medical supplies.  These supplies will save the lives of children who cannot otherwise afford medical care for their diabetes.  It also spreads awareness about the gross inequality experienced around the globe when it comes to living with type 1.

Many organizations have been sprouting up for causes like these, which I think is great.  Until very recently I was not even aware of how little care those in third world countries receive for diabetes.  The diagnosis is essentially a death sentence.  But programs like Save a Rose are working to change this.  I even discovered a foundation through which you can donate medical supplies directly to those in need.

One of the things I have discovered both through my personal journey and through my education in social work is that giving back to others has significant emotional and psychosocial benefits for those who are giving, not just for those who are receiving.  So this Valentine's Day, consider giving up that bouquet of roses for your boo (let's face it, they're gonna wilt anyway). Consider giving up that 20 oz bag of chocolates you were gonna buy for yourself.  And consider giving life instead.

Monday, February 9, 2015

What the heck is coffee doing to my diabetes ??

There are few things I enjoy more in this world than a good cup of coffee. In fact, without my two morning cups I cannot leave the house. Or socialize. Or smile really. But my question is, why does coffee seem to wreak havoc on my blood sugars? Am I alone here?

To shed a little light on the troubles I've been having with my beloved, let me break it down for you:

Morning Lows

The morning lows came first. While I was on winter break, I did a lot of BG monitoring and rate testing. In the mornings, I started measuring out my cereal and Trop 50 to a T and testing my BG two hours after breakfast. I ended up having to up my ratio and lower my basal rate--but it still wasn't enough. I still was going low two hours after lunch. At this point I was covering for about 15 carbs for my morning coffee because of the creamer that I use.  Several mornings of dizziness and agitation later, I decided to try not covering for my coffee.  And poof! the lows went away.

Morning Highs

After I stopped covering for my morning coffee, I thought my morning levels were taken care of. However, once I started up school again, things changed. I started out my morning as usual--measured out my breakfast, gave my insulin according to my new ratio, and gave no insulin for my morning coffee. But alas, two hours later, I found myself in the mid-300s--very confused and very annoyed.  This continued to happen to the point that now I cover for 15 carbs again for coffee. I have been doing okay but why the sudden switch? And why on occasional mornings do I find myself going low two hours after breakfast?

Runnin' on Dunkin'

Further complicating the coffee issue, I began to do some investigative research on my beloved Dunkin' Donuts. I then discovered that the pumpkin flavored coffee I have fallen in love with has much more sugar than hazelnut or french vanilla. So I made the switch to hazelnut and have gotten mixed results--sometimes I go low after giving 1 unit of insulin for a medium, and sometimes I am perfectly fine with no insulin at all for one.  I have found that a unit and a half (my ratio is 11 in the morning and 9 during the day) is usually consistently good for a medium pumpkin on the days that I treat myself.

I have considered the possibility that some mornings I am more tired than others, and some I am more anxious than others--something that may affect the way my body reacts to coffee.  I also know that coffee can sometimes affect your adrenaline levels, which can in turn affect your blood sugar. But it is proving to be a slippery slope to navigate!