Thursday, October 23, 2014

Diabetes and stubbornness don't mix

I can be really stubborn when it comes to certain aspects of my diabetes. For example, I use "expired" insulin because I think it works just fine.

However, sometimes that stubbornness can get in the way. Like when I insisted that I could use Apidra in my t:Slim insulin pump, even though I knew it wasn't FDA-approved for it. Insulin is insulin, or so I thought. Plus I used Apidra in my Medtronic pump, so I didn't think it would be an issue.

Every time I got back on my t:Slim, though, I would have issues. Especially by the 3rd day. I would have higher than normal numbers. I would have more occlusion alarms. I knew something wasn't working right, but I ignored it. I would chalk it up to the pump being difficult. Or I chalked it up to me doing something wrong.

But I wasn't doing anything wrong. When you have numbers in the 300s and they don't come down all day even though you continue to bolus and not eat anything, then it's very likely that you're not the problem. Being over 300 for hours is not my usual, but when you've had high numbers for hours or days, you feel defeated—even when it technically isn't your fault. (I mean, yes, I should have taken a shot to correct the high once I realized my number wasn't coming down, but this is where the stubbornness kicks in and stops you.)

When something doesn't feel right or when something hasn't been working right for a long time, though, don't ignore your instincts. It will not get better unless you pay attention to the problem and make a change. I guess this is true with anything in life, right?

So, I finally decided to look into WHY Apidra wasn't good for this pump. I joined the t:Slim group on Facebook, and posted about it. Within minutes, I got tons of responses, and learned some things I had never heard before. Yes, I had been told before that Apidra wasn't tested with this pump, but I didn't know why. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet and social media, I now knew why.

Apparently, Apidra reacts differently in the pump, and tends to gel or crystallize over time. This makes sense considering it usually works fine within the first day or two, and then by the third day, shit hits the fan.

Now, I could have done this months ago, but I didn't because my stubbornness had stopped me. I didn't want to believe that Apidra was the issue, so I stuck it out and kept trying to make it work. However, just like a bad relationship, this never ever makes it better. Once I finally reached my frustration point where I just couldn't take it anymore, I sought answers. I sought out the diabetes community. I sought out help and I got the support I needed.

Sometimes that's all it takes. Because we can't struggle on our own all the time. It's too hard. So, let go of your stubbornness and ask for help. Be open to what others have to say. Let go of what you thought you knew. Embrace change. You might be surprised at what you find along the way.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The switchup: from shots to pump

I've had type 1 for 9 years now. I was on shots for one year. On the Medtronic pump for 5 years. And then in the last three years, I've switched back and forth between my new pump (the Tandem t:slim) and shots. Both solutions—insulin pump and pens—have their pros and cons. When all is said and done, you just have to do what's right for you.

During the summer, I switch to shots. It's hot outside. I'm usually wearing less clothing. And I don't want to deal with my pump. However, it's also annoying to give yourself a shot of insulin when you're wearing a dress. Then again, have you ever tried to reach up or down your dress to access your pump? Awkward.

Like I said, both solutions have their good things and their not so good things. No one solution is perfect.

Now summer is over and fall is well on its way. And with that change of seasons comes the switchup. As of yesterday, I'm back on my t:slim pump. In my personal experience, getting back into the right rhythm of pump life is difficult.

I don't know about you guys, but when I go back to the pump, I'm high all day and then, BAM, I drop low. You think I wouldn't be high at all since I'm overlapping my basal rate from the pump with my shot of lantus, but this isn't the case for me. So, despite increasing my basal rate and giving myself a correction, I stayed high for hours. And then it hit me. At 9pm, I dropped way low. 39 low. The bad kind of low where you're sitting on the kitchen floor, staring off into space after chugging 37g of orange juice and waiting to come back to life.

My boyfriend asked if 37g was too much, and I said at that point, I needed it. I came back up to a normal rate, ate dinner and bolused for it, and then...dun dun dun...I dropped low again. This time in the 50s. I had a hard time getting that low back up. I thought I had finally gotten it right, but I woke up in the middle of the night to a high of 240. I corrected, fell asleep. Woke up. Still high. Corrected. Back to sleep. By morning, I was at 78. Ta-da.

But today is a new day of challenges. I haven't eaten in 5 hours because I've been battling a high that won't come down. And I also don't want a repeat of yesterday's low.

No matter how long you've had diabetes, you will never have it all figured out. There will be plenty of moments where you feel like you've got this down, and then there will be plenty of moments where you wonder what the hell you're doing wrong. This is one of my "what the hell am I dong wrong" moments.

Sometimes it feels like a long, aggravating, and exhausting battle. You do what you can, and when the numbers don't reflect your hard work, it's disappointing. It leaves you feeling like shit. And it's okay to feel sad and mad, but pitying yourself for too long isn't going to change anything. So you tell yourself what you have to tell yourself in order to move on. Tomorrow is a new day. You'll figure it out soon. It'll be better the next time.

In the meantime, I'll keep adjusting.