Five Years of T1D

5/22/18 marked five years since T1D diagnosis. It’s hard to believe that five years have already done by. In five years, our family turned into T1D (and gluten-free) pros. So this Diaversary was a cause for celebration of living well with and despite T1D and Celiac.

The morning of 5/22/18 started with a breakfast complete with a heart-felt whipped cream message, and V sporting her new awesome T-shirt. Pop quiz: Who can tell me what the T-shirt design means?

V wanted to mark the day by getting a treat from Starbucks. Unfortunately it was thwarted by diabetes…

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The trip had to be postponed until the following morning. But fear not, V got to check off her bucket list wish of showing up to school with a cup of Starbucks in hand.

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Then the following day came V’s quarterly Endocrinology appointment. I was curious about her A1C. Her meter and Dexcom readings were suggesting improvements. I was also curious about some other goals that V was working really hard on. When V’s endocrinologist walked into the exam room, she was practically beaming at us. She was so pleased with everything. As she was gushing praise on V for doing a great job, I tried to peek at the paper in her hand with A1C result scribbled on it. Since I was looking at it sideways and upside down, I decided that I was not seeing it right. I didn’t believe it until the Endo announced it. 6.8! V’s best A1C ever!!!

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Better yet, the Endo was also pleased with the range of V’s numbers, which is a different way of measuring quality of BG rather than only looking at the average. And there has been progress with the other goals V had been working on. In other words, success on all fronts!

The Endo suggested that we really ought to celebrate, and who are we to go against medical advice? A couple of days latter we hit our favorite breakfast joint, where V feasted on amazing gluten-free Cinnamon Roll pancakes. 100% bolus-worthy!

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As V’s Diaversary Fest was wrapping up, we decided to update our T1D and GF family photo, with all four of us wearing our matching amazing T-shirts.

 

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So, FU T1D! Here’s to 5 years of kicking its butt, and may V have her entire lifetime of living well with it!

(P.S. If you still don’t know what the T-shirt means, please guess in comments!)

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Flying Blind

“So, Mom, I have a question. Umm, what’s my insulin to carb ratio?”

V remained in her seat and waited for all of her carpool buddies to exit the car before asking me a little sheepishly. And confessed that she left her PDM (pump remote) at home. This was the first time in four years of pumping that she forgot to bring PDM to school, though we’ve had a number of close calls. OK, let’s problem-solve. I told her what the ratio was. She keeps insulin and syringes at the health office, so she would be able to give herself a shot to cover lunch. I reminded her that she could go off of Dexcom data (continuous blood glucose monitor.) “Umm, I left my phone with the PDM.”

Oops. Dexcom transmits readings to her phone. If her phone is at home, she has no way of knowing what her BG readings are.

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On the left is the PDM, which also acts as a BG meter. On the right is V’s phone displaying Dexcom data. When the numbers match, it’s call a Unicorn. When BG is 100 it’s also called a Unicorn. Therefore you are looking at a rare double Unicorn and it’s a thing of beauty.

So, without access to Dexcom data she’d have to test to know her BG. I was thinking hard and fast. I just happened to have a case with extra supplies with me, which had an extra meter. I found it, turned it on to test it and… Dead battery. But wait, I had an extra battery! I was standing in the school parking lot, fumbling with the battery and I could not take it out for the life of me.

“Forget it! I think you have an extra meter in the health office.” I knew for a fact that she had a meter for ketone strips. There was a good chance she had compatible blood sugar strips with it too.

I sent her off to school and hesitated for a few minutes before driving away. It was 8:40 AM and I had to be at work by 9. I could

A. Go back home, get her stuff and bring it to her, and be really late to work. OR

B. Let her go by feel and manage with supplies she had at school. It was a short day anyway, so I’d be picking her up about 4.5 hours later.

Her morning BG was in good range, her pod would continue to deliver background insulin regardless of where the PDM was, and she had supplies at the health office. She could give herself a shot to cover lunch carbs. And there were helpful staff and other resources at school, in the event something bad were to happen. I took a big breath and decided, for better or worse, to let her fly blind, and drove off to work.

At about 12 I noticed a missed phone call from a different number and a voice message. “Mom, I’m calling from my friend’s phone. There are only ketone strips here. I don’t have test strips for this meter so I can’t test.”

Well, shit.

I took out the spare meter again, and this time I was able to figure out right away how to replace the battery. It’s amazing how much better your brain works when you are not in a big hurry. I would be picking up V and her brother from school in about an hour. She could hang in there.

As I was driving to pick up, V called me again from someone else’s phone. “Yes, I got your message. I was able to replace the battery so we can test your BG when I pick you up. I am on my way. See you in a few minutes.”

When I picked up the kids, V told me that she gave herself a shot for her lunch plus an extra couple of units just in case. I pulled out the meter and reached into the spare supplies bag to get test strips except… they were not there! Murphy’s law never fails! Back to square one. I drove the carpool buddies home and then hesitated again. We would normally drive straight to piano lesson and I had no extra time to spare. I could

A. Go home first to grab V’s stuff and be very late for piano lesson. OR

B. Continue to fly blind for another hour-plus.

V was feeling OK. She ate lunch, so she was not starving. She was not experiencing any symptoms of high or low blood sugar. We had plenty of fast acting sugar with us. I took a deep breath and again, for better or worse, decided to continue flying blind.

V turned away from me looking upset. “You have no idea how stressful it is to not know what your blood sugar is! I already felt low in the morning and treated even though I didn’t know if I was actually low!” Good decision, kiddo!

I think it’s the longest she’s ever gone not having any information about her BG and going completely by feel. I do not doubt it was very stressful for her. To be honest, I was pretty nervous too, but proceeded to drive to piano lesson anyway. I have faith in V’s ability to listen to and trust her body, and lately she has been feeling both her highs and lows more consistently. And I have faith in our collective ability to deal with whatever situation may arise. If she felt low, we would treat. And if she felt high, while it’s not ideal, we could wait an hour or two before giving a correction. It would be OK.

Piano lesson was uneventful. When we got home, V immediately beelined for her PDM and tested. 60. Whew. *

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally test my BG!”. Not the words you hear often from a T1 tween.

File this under “lesson learned.”

Also, file this under “all is well that ends well.”

Also, file this under “go straight to D-Mom hell for being so reckless.”

*60, while considered hypoglycemia, is not necessarily a bad number for V, nor it is necessarily an indication of her BG dropping even lower. I know of at least a few T1’s who consider 60’s to be within acceptable range for them, just as I know a number of T1’s who cannot be below 70+. Sometimes we let her ride it out in the 60’s as long as she is feeling well, not trending down, not doing any physical activity, and does not have any active insulin in her system. At times she feels utterly crappy in the 60’s, and then we treat immediately regardless of circumstances. There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason. Why? Diabeetus, that’s why!

Gluten-Free Expo, 2018!

I haven’t been posting much lately. Life is busy. And then I went ahead and got me a claw…

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Being the graceful person that I am, I fell while jogging and broke my pinky. It’s hard to type without being able to use my wrist, so I have to be short and sweet.

I’m here to tell you that Gluten-Free Expo is coming to San Diego again! V and I cannot wait to go. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be in a place where every single thing is safe for V to eat. Now that we are veteran Expo-goers, let me share some tips with you.

  1. Don’t pay full price! Use this code to get 20% off: ADVANCE
  2. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a lot of walking.
  3. Come hungry! So many yummy foods to taste.
  4. If you have T1D, be prepared to do some serious guesswork and use a LOT of insulin. Little bites here and there add up quickly to a metric ton of carbs. You are likely going to underestimate them. Be prepared to dose as you go. If you have a pump, extending your bolus may be a good strategy. Give yourself a hefty dose upfront and spread out the rest over a few hours. You can always cancel extended bolus if it’s too much.
  5. The Expo is so much more than food samples. There are classes and presentations galore. Check out the schedule and attend some. You may find these programs especially beneficial if you are new to GF life.

Don’t live in or near San Diego? There may be an Expo coming to your town. Check it out and go.

Last but not least, I’ll leave you with a photo of an amazing GF cake made by our recent 16-year-old house guest. (Focus on the cake. Ignore ugly grout please.)

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100% GF. 150% amazing. And yes, it’s a little boozy too!

Disclaimer: As an official blogger, I am expected to promote the Expo in my blog. I was also provided with complimentary entry tickets. All opinions are mine.

P.S. I was planning on going to and writing about the expo well before being selected as an official blogger. Because it’s awesome.

P.P.S. I am not expected to write a review/post-expo post. But you can bet I’ll be doing it anyway!

Sleepover: Behind The Scenes in 20 Screenshots

Sleepovers are the bane of my existence. It’s hard enough to manage T1D when V is sleeping a few feet away in her room. When she is elsewhere, we become the 24-hour on-call support and security center. Some nights are completely uneventful. Other nights we barely sleep. This is another invisible aspect of diabetes management, which most people are hardly aware of. I’m about to give you a little glimpse of what it takes to manage misbehaving BG when V is sleeping away from home.

V spent last night at her friend’s house. Before she got there, the daytime BG was fairly good. Trouble started brewing around dinner time.

So everything got back on track. Or so we thought, because at 9:52 PM…

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IOB = Insulin On Board, or amount of active insulin in her body.

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It pains me that I have to tell her to set the alarm to wake up in the middle of a night on a sleepover! What other kid has to do it? But it’s her life.
So at this point we have a plan and I am trying to get some sleep. When I open my eyes an hour later and check Dexcom, I do not like what I see, so I text V again:

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IMG_E5952.jpgI’m fighting to stay awake while doing complicated diabetes math. We need to override the pump and give more insulin because she is so high. But I don’t want to send her plummeting to a low either, especially because she is not at home!

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All that careful math, and still… She went from 400 to 225 with two arrows down in 45 minutes. And now she has a lot of active insulin in her body. Time for opposite action!

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So now it is about 1 AM. I have been sleeping poorly in 45 min increments, waking up to glance at Dexcom and make sure V is OK. I’m hoping that finally we can get things stabilized. I get to close my eyes for a couple of hrs. Then I wake up to Dexcom high alarm at 3:38 AM.

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Clearly something is not working with the pump. Absorption issue? Bubbles in the cannula? Who knows? It’s not completely useless, it’s obviously delivering some insulin, or else V’s BG would keep climbing even higher and higher. What we do know is that an injection of insulin can do wonders to bring BG into a better range. What we also do know, from the prior few hours, is that the same amount of insulin administered by the pump has been fairly useless. Understandably, V is not at all thrilled about my preferred course of action.

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V – if you are reading this, please realize that when this happens at home, I get up and give you a shot. And then I also change your pod. Usually you sleep through most of it. It sucks but it needs to be done.

I do not hesitate to put on my mean Mom hat. Also, by now we’ve been texting for nearly half an hour, it’s almost 4 fucking AM, and I have neither patience nor energy.

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I know V is really tired, mad at me, and in extra bad mood because her BG is so high. But for the record, what I really want to do is to launch into a tirade of how dare she does not appreciate how much I do for her. In all caps. But I know better because really, it is so, so hard on her. She may not believe me but I get it. So I suck it up and let her vent, try to keep my cool, and make sure everything is taken care of.

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At this point we both crash. When I wake up in the morning and check Dexcom, she’s OK. Not great, but somewhere around 200. Good enough.

By the way, the other bane of my existence is cropping and editing 20 screenshots. But if it helps you understand what we sometimes have to go through, it’s all worth it.

#makediabetesvisible 

 

Good to go

In the past, new situations would require a more detailed explanation of T1D. My daughter has type 1 diabetes. “Here is what you should be aware of; here is what to do if she is high or low; here are the supplies; here is how to use glucagon; here is what she may need help with.”

Now that V is fully capable of handling all aspects of her diabetes care, things are different. One week before babysitting camp, I tried emailing who I thought was the right contact  to give them a heads up about V. I never got a reply and things got too busy for me to follow up. So on the day of drop off, I introduced myself to camp counselor and said this: “Just so you are aware, V has type 1 diabetes. She has all of the supplies with her and she knows what to do, she is completely independent in her care. She has her phone on her, she needs to keep it to call us if she has any questions or needs help. Please feel free to call us if you have any questions or concerns. Otherwise, she’s good to go.” The counselor asked if V had snacks for low blood sugar and I assured her that she had plenty. And that was that.

Today was back to school day. I prepared V’s supplies for health office. I like to take a minimalist approach, pack only the necessities, and refill as needed. As she is flying mostly solo, she only visits the health office if she’s unwell or runs out of supplies unexpectedly, and she always carries a glucagon and glucose tabs in her backpack.

Back up supplies, snacks and fast acting sugars will do. All fits in a relatively small box. Not pictured are a vial of back up insulin, string cheese and a couple of back up frozen gluten free meals, that go straight from our fridge/freezer to the one in health office. No letter, no flow charts, no detailed explanations.

When we arrived to school, we learned that there was a new nurse. I found her by the front gate, introduced myself and asked her where to drop off supplies. “I am V’s mom. She has type one diabetes and celiac. She’s completely independent in her care.” The nurse asked me if V was “the one with the pump” and told me she’s heard great things about her. And that a wonderful health tech who was there last year is going be there every day except Monday. Alright, this makes for a good start! I told her I’ll have V drop by and introduce herself at some point.

And that was that.

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Off to 7th and 4th grades they go. One is fake smiling. The other one is completely honest about his lack of enthusiasm. 

P.S. After V reads this post, I’m sure she can comment on how annoyed she was with the school not informing the new math teacher about her T1D, and her having to spend 10-15 minutes explaining it to her. She can also tell you how stupid diabeetus completely refused to cooperate and she fought highs all day long for no good reason. And we can also talk about our ongoing struggle of getting V to wake up to CGM alarms in the middle of the night, as it makes sleepovers more challenging.

But aside from that, she knows what to do. She’s good to go.

Milestones

***Two months. It’s been two months since my last post. I’ve been meaning to write about this or about that, but ultimately life got in the way. I think it’s my longest break between posts. I don’t know how to feel about it. I miss more regular blogging but it’s still not happening for whatever reason.

***Braces, round two. No one is excited about it. Between restrictions that come with braces (no hard or chewy foods, among other things) and restrictions that come with Celiac, V gets, well, more food restrictions. And pain and suffering. Because braces are painful and annoying. Yay…Nope.

Enjoying final corn on the cob before braces.

***1:5. This is V’s shiny new daytime insulin to carb ratio. To translate from diabetes to real world, this means that for every 5 g. of carbs V needs to give 1 unit of insulin. It is a LOT of insulin. It used to be around 1:15 back in the day. This means a few things. One, she is receiving much higher insulin dosages with a much smaller margin for error. If we overestimate the carbs, she is at a much higher risk of a bad low. If we underestimate, her BG can shoot through the roof. Both happened. We are learning to adapt and deal with it. Secondly, we are going through insulin like water. At V’s next Endo appointment will need to address changing the Rx to increase the amount because running out of insulin is about the worst nightmare anyone with diabetes can experience. Thirdly, the pods are only lasting about two days. They can last up to three, if they don’t fall off or run out of insulin. A pod can hold a maximum of 200 units. She usually burns through about that much in a couple of days now. Again, to put it in perspective, in the beginning we used to fill it up with about 75-80 units and it would last three days with some insulin to spare. Fourth, this means that unless the food is truly carb-free, such as meats and cheese, she needs to cover it with insulin. There is no more such thing is a little bite of this or a little bite of that. There is no more not needing to bolus for low carb foods that are 5 g. of carbs or less. Got carbs? Better break out some insulin.

Why so much insulin now? In one word, puberty. Raging hormones, growth, changes. And it may get worse before gets better. And speaking of worse…

***Highest A1C since diagnosis. It is what it is. And it is not really all that bad of a number. Still, it’s higher than desired. Why? In one word, puberty. We increase insulin dosages, things stabilize for a few days, and then V starts going up again. Up up up she goes and we can’t seem to catch up. But then she’ll have random days of lows, lows, lows. It’s hard to find patterns. Sometimes there are no patterns. So, FU puberty.

***Babysitter, officially. She’s 12. She got her CPR/First Aid Certification. She attended babysitting camp. I helped her draft her very first real resume. She has been helping out with neighbors’ kids for quite a while, and now she is ready for bigger parent helper/babysitting jobs.

 

Most-wanted gadget

V’s annual Celiac blood panel was done recently, and results are not great. Four years after diagnosis and her antibodies are still positive. Worse yet, the numbers crept up a little from last year. Last year things were heading in the right direction and her doctor was hopeful that with this blood work result everything would be in the negative. Not the case.

I’m really frustrated. What are we doing wrong? Obviously somewhere, somehow, V gets exposed to gluten. But where? Is there cross-contamination at home? We are not 100% gluten-free. We keep regular bread and bagels, cereal, some pre-packaged snacks, and that’s about it. All meals we make are gluten-free. We are extremely careful about cross-contamination. We have a dedicated toaster oven and a cutting board. But perhaps it’s not enough and we need to go completely gluten-free at home?

Or is the problem with restaurants where we eat? Once again, we found a few that we consider safe. However, because V does not typically have any reaction to gluten that she can feel or we can see, we have no way of telling if what she is eating is actually safe.

Or perhaps the issue was during the cruise, where getting a safe gluten-free meal proved to be rather a frustrating challenge? Since we did the blood work shortly after we returned, it may be reflective of possible cross-contamination there?

How I would love to know for sure. And guess what? There is actually a gadget out there that could help us. Nima Sensor will analyze a food sample and tell you if it contains any gluten. If we bite the bullet and go 100% gluten-free at home, we can test food at restaurants and maybe finally track down the source of cross-contamination.

There is one little glitch. The price of Nima Sensor is a cool $275. And that’s just for a starter kit. Since each food sample requires a new capsule, those will run you more. The website recommends a subscription of 12 capsules per month at a cool price of $60 per month. If we don’t do subscription, we have to pony up $72 for 12 capsules. Those capsules will go quickly if we want to test V’s meals when we dine out, even though we don’t normally eat out more than once a week.

So here I am, staring at this cool gadget, really wanting it. But it is simply too expensive.

What do we do? I have no idea. If you are reading this post and you have Celiac, I’d love for you to weigh in. I’m also curious if it’s a reasonable expectation for tests to be negative. It is really possible? Would you eat a product that, according to the label, was made on equipment shared with wheat, or is that a no-no? What about a product that is made in a facility that also processes wheat? It is unreasonable for us to think that we can live a normal life where we don’t wrap V in a bubble, allow her to eat at places other than home, and don’t have to be on edge about everything she puts in her mouth?

We are going back to the GI doctor later in the summer to discuss all this. Perhaps we can squeeze in another round of blood work just to rule out vacation cross-contamination. Aside from that, I’m at a loss.

As safe as it gets: samples that we got at the Gluten-Free Expo