Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When Sisters Share Everything, Including Pumps

I'd like to categorize this under weird stories that only diabetics with diabetic friends would really understand. As soon as my dad witnessed this happen he told me that I had to put it on the blog. So here's a post for you, dad.

The other day, I was at my robotics team's banquet, which I had spent the last week planning and the 5 hours preceding the it buying food and making awards to make sure this event actually happened. In the midst of all of this errand running, my sister and I were home for about an hour, so I could make awards and we could both get ready. While frantically running around, finishing making awards, and stuffing four cheesecakes, two pans of baked ziti, and a bag filled with pictures and more all into a single car, my sister forgot her pump.

Of course, no one realized this until after we had gotten to our destination: a lake house 30 minutes away from our own home. Suddenly my sister looked and me and said, "Sarah, I forgot my pump." I looked through my tiny purse (life lesson: don't carry around a tiny purse, in case of emergencies) and realized that I didn't have any extra insulin or shots floating around. So, when it was time to finally eat, I did the most logical thing possible: I gave my sister insulin through my pump. Sketchy? Absolutely. Weird? Definitely. Successful? Yes.

Medically, I can't (and won't) recommend this to anyone. It just felt so weird and wrong on some sort of fundamental level, but it did technically work, so I can't disapprove of it too much. A few days later, we were sitting in the car drinking frappucinnos (which are now blacklisted, but that's a story for another day) and I made a comment about how my pump had run out of insulin. Anna offered me her pump for a quick bolus, but I laughed and declined. It was a only fifteen minute ride home and it wasn't worth committing another pump sacrilege.

Friday, May 20, 2016

#DBlogWeek Day Five: Tips and Tricks

I'm currently sitting in my last mandatory class of high school writing this, so that is exciting. I'm also very tired because I stayed up way too late working on yesterday's AP Lit time capsule and I've netted maybe 4 hours of sleep at the most; if I seem like I'm rambling a ton or I just don't make sense, that's probably why!

Let's round out the week by sharing our best diabetes tips and diabetes tricks. From how you organize supplies to how you manage gear on the go/vacation (beach, or skiing, or whatever). From how you keep track of prescription numbers to how you remember to get your orders refilled. How about any “unconventional” diabetes practices, or ways to make diabetes work for YOU (not necessarily how the doctors say to do it!). There's always something we can learn from each other. (Remember though, please no medical advice or dangerous suggestions.)
 As soon as I read this prompt, I thought back to #DBlogWeek two years ago and remembered writing for a similar prompt. I loved reading through everyone's tips and I learned a few new tricks myself. I'm excited to look at everyone's new tricks and happy to share a few of my own!
  • CGM Sites: Seriously, I have no clue how Dexcom expects their sensors to stay on for seven days with the adhesive they put on sensors. Without any help, my sensor lasts maybe three or four days. To solve this problem, I use Opsite Flexifix to keep my CGM in place. I cut out a rectangle a little bigger than my CGM and its adhesive, then cut out a hole in the middle to make sure the sensor itself isn't covered in tape for a week. I usually keep an old CGM site around (even though that sounds kind of gross) so I can make sure I'm cutting things out correctly.
  • Keeping Your Pump Attached: This is more of a girl issue because dresses are a major problem when it comes to figuring out where to put my pump. Nike running shorts (or compression shorts) are perfect to wear under a dress and won't fall when you clip your pump to them. Some people attach their pumps to their bras as well, but I have no clue how to do that without it looking like I have a strange rectangle in the middle of my shirt.
  • Priming Your Pump: Whenever you're priming your pump, put your pump on its side with the tubing being held straight up in the air. This will get rid of those pesky air bubbles at the top of your cartridge. I feel like I read this on either Kerri's or Kim's blog (so there's me giving credit for the idea) and it changed my life completely. I can't believe I had never thought of this before.
  • Organizing Supplies: I organize my supplies using these fabric bins and putting them inside of a shelf and it makes my life so much easier. They are color coded for ease of access when I'm frantically trying to find a site. I use green for my sites, since my sites are green; blue for my cartridges; and orange for my CGM sites, since the boxes they come in are orange. It's a super simple system and it's so much nicer looking than having cardboard boxes all over my room.
Those are my newer tips and tricks that I have discovered since last #DBlogWeek's post and I seriously hope that I learn a bunch more by reading through everyone else's posts as well! This has been an awesome #DBlogWeek and I'm so glad Mrs. Dugan convinced me to come back to blogging, especially because it was just in time for me to jump in to the week's topics. I'll be writing a lot more often, so stay tuned for more!

If you love learning about new tips and tricks that make your life a little easier, check out the page with all of today's blog posts here!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

#DBlogWeek Day Four: The Healthcare Experience

I apologize for how late this is going up; I've been finishing up my final project for AP lit and am currently taking a tiny break from that to write up a blog post. Well, let's jump into it!

Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What's your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!
I go to the doctor. A lot. More often than most do, to say the least. I'm at the endocrinologist four times per year, my pediatrician once a year, the dentist twice a year, and my eye doctor once per year. That's probably six more doctor's visits yearly than the average person has in two years. To say that I have plenty of experience with doctors in an understatement. This means that I also have plenty of time to form opinions and gripes about what I'm constantly having to deal with, whether it has to do with my actual endocrinologist visits or The System. (Capitalizing it makes it seem more menacing. It worked, right?) Here, in bulleted form (because I love lists) is my list of potential improvements for The System.

  • For the endocrinologist: Please. Please. Please. Make the wait time shorter. I really abhor sitting in your office for 45 minutes waiting for my doctor's appointment. Sitting and watching other people wait just isn't that exciting. I also wish that you guys could download data from my blood tester and CGM at your office, so if I forget my logs at home, or if you want to see certain data, you can get all of it there. That would make life for everyone so much easier. (And I wouldn't have to use all of the printer ink for my CGM graph.)
  • For the health insurance company: Actually, the insurance company my family gets coverage from, Cigna, is pretty amazing. We (knock on wood) have never had issues involving getting new pumps, getting permission for CGMs, or choosing what insulin or blood testers we want. Hopefully that will stay the same after Anthem and Cigna officially merge
  • For Neighborhood Diabetes: You guys are required to distribute my CGM supplies. Why? I don't know. If you all could kindly actually put my supplies on auto-refill, instead of forcing me to call every three months, order supplies, and ask for auto-refill for the 80th time, that would be lovely.
  • For Animas customer service: You guys rock. I called you all one at 3 am and you still helped me out. A+.
Honestly, I am lucky enough to have an awesome endo and insurance company. I know not everyone is this lucky, and wish that other insurance companies could get it right, instead of forcing people to pay out of pocket for CGMs, to use only one type of insulin, or to only use one type of pump. That is awful and I wouldn't want to live without having a choice of what I get to use to deal with this condition that I didn't choose. I want all insurance companies to remember that patients are people too, and that all people deserve choices.

Thanks for sticking around through #DBlogWeek day four! If you want to share your opinion or read other's on The System, you can chek out all of the posts for today's topic here

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

#DBlogWeek Day Three: Language and Diabetes

Well, today am officially an adult, so that obviously means that I now have a new, enlightened viewpoint on life itself and I will be showcasing that today. (Just kidding... Do I really even count as an adult if I just turned 18 today? I digress.) I woke up at 5 this morning to take a shower and it's currently 7:05 AM as I begin writing this, so I'm super early to the blogging game today.

There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I'm willing to bet we've all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don't care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let's explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.
When I read the prompt this morning, I thought of something John Green said in his latest video: "Language exists to facilitate communication; to make my thoughts transparent to you and yours transparent to me." This statement can be considered a universal truth, after all what else could language be used for? Language enables me to share my perspective with you and allows you to respond and share your own perspective with me. That being said, I honestly don't mind being called diabetic or someone saying I'm testing my blood, rather than checking it.

I use these words all the time, and they don't have negative connotations for me. When I hear someone ask, "Are you testing your blood sugar?" I don't automatically think that he or she is implying that I am just some big human science experiment or that every blood sugar is a grade that I either pass or fail. I call myself diabetic, so I don't have a problem with others calling me this. Yes, I am a person with type one diabetes, but I am also a type one diabetic. Either works for me.

Often, it isn't the words themselves that hurt me when it comes to diabetes, it's the tone. A person's tone can completely change what something means; if someone asks me, "What is that?" in a confused tone of voice, that is an innocent question. If someone asks me the same question in a judgmental tone, of course I'll be offended. It isn't this person's (or anyone else's) place to judge the chronic illness I live with or how I manage it daily, and that is honestly the reason why so many have been hurt by people's words. Because they feel judged or chastised for something they simply cannot control. (Have you seen how annoyed I get when people are judgmental?)

Something I have come to realize, which I touched on a little yesterday, is that being offended by people's words, being angry about them, and dwelling on them won't help anyone. It won't help teach someone why what he or she said was offensive and rude. It won't make you feel better or live a happy life. It will just breed more anger and hatred in both parties. When someone's thoughts and actions are full of stigma, instead of yelling at him or her, take the opportunity to speak up to explain the reality of your situation. If someone makes a joke about eating too many sweets causing diabetes, calmly explain that diabetes, no matter what type, is influenced by genetic predisposition, as well as a variety of other factors. It's as simple as that. If he or she doesn't listen, don't stress out, just move on. Laugh off their ignorance later with the DOC and some friends and move on.

We all give words the power to make or break our days; I know some words hurt more than others, but us humans seem to focus on the negatives much more than the positives. Focus on the good. Focus on the friendships, the fun camp memories, and the great times you've had because of your diabetes; don't focus on the few complaints or jokes people have said at the expense of you and your diabetes. Others' language can make their uninformed thoughts transparent to you, and yours can make the truth of the matter transparent to them. It's a simple as that.

Do you have some of your own thoughts about language that you want to share with others? Do you want to read more posts about today's topic or just learn more about #DBlogWeek? If so, check out all of the info here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

#DBlogWeek Day Two: The Other Half of Diabetes

In the midst of graduation, my birthday (I turn 18 tomorrow), and all of the stresses associated with life, I was reminded by my amazing AP Language teacher from last year (the person that had me write this) that this blog existed and she encouraged me to start writing again. #DBlogWeek is happening at a perfect time because I have no clue what to write about at the moment, so I am super thankful for the week of prompts! Let's jump into my first blog post of the year! (Oops...)

We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk?  
Diabetes, thankfully, hasn't put too much strain on my mental health. I am so grateful that I was diagnosed at 5 1/2 years old because I don't have to live with memories constantly reminding me that I was once non-diabetic. I watch my little sister struggle sometimes with her diabetes and I know that part of it is because she can remember being able to eat what she wanted without covering her blood sugar or having to test her blood. While my mental strain is never too high because of diabetes, I do still have little worries here and there: the possibilities of complications; how annoying testing my blood is; and how easy it is to forget insulin are a few of these small worries that ebb and flow through my mind.

Unfortunately, diabetes does affect my emotions. A lot. High blood sugar = being annoyed at everyone, difficulty focusing on anything (which is especially fun while I'm taking tests or my AP exams), and me being a general pain for most people I'm around. Low blood sugar = being shaky, talking too fast and nonsensically for others and myself to understand, and staring down other people's food as I search for something to make my hunger disappear. After over a decade of diabetes (wow, that's quite a long time), I've learned that sometimes I just have to be patient. Trying to do a physics problem when my BG is 504 is just not going to happen. Eating only four glucose tabs will do the trick when I'm waiting for my blood sugar to go up, even though I feel like 8 is a better short term plan. Diabetes is a huge lesson in patience (and I've been in a love/hate relationship with patience for years). I've also learned that the people that make the most ignorant comments of all, often just need more education than your average person. There's no point in wasting my time or energy on being bitter and angry, when instead I could be educating and changing someone's view of the world.

Whenever I'm have a worry-filled day or just a bout of burnout, I try to treat myself. Whether I am watching my favorite movie, reading a new book, or just making some of my favorite tea, I try to do something for me to make myself feel better after having a rough day. Doing something for myself makes my day a thousand times better and gets me out of a negative mood (which I'm trying to work on). Talking with the #DOC, whether it is through twitter, blog, or video, always helps. Misery loves company and sharing your experiences with others that actually understand what I'm going through helps me get through my rough days and I'm sure it will help you, too.

Remember when times get tough, that you are more than your diabetes and that you always have the DOC, friends, and family to talk with.

If you want to get involved with #DBlogWeek or read more posts about today's prompt, you can check out the link up to the responses to today's prompts here!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

In the Advocacy Spirit

Last time this year, I was not in the advocacy spirit; I was going through burnout and honestly just didn't want to yell to the world, "I'm diabetic!" If you're in that boat right now, don't feel bad. Everyone goes through it and I totally get it. Advocacy for an entire month is overwhelming, to say the least. This year, I'm ready to jump back in to the advocacy game. It probably helps that I've been gone for months, but I ready to wear blue on Fridays, post photos on Instagram on the daily, and talk it up about diabetes all month long. I can guarantee that I won't be blogging every day because I don't have the time to write actual blog posts daily. (College applications, standardized tests, and school can be to blame for that) Either way, I'm going to be more present this month and tell anyone that wants (or doesn't) to listen about diabetes because it's important and here until there's a cure.

If you're looking for somewhere to start, advocacy wise check out some of these websites:
  • T1D Looks Like Me // A JDRF initiative that requires a simple selfie and a quick filter to show that there is no specific person that looks diabetic. They are also hosting meetups throughout the US during November for Diabetes Awareness month
  • Beyond Type 1 //  A social media based advocacy platform with ideas for fundraising, advocacy, and resources for any diabetic in the modern age.
  • #DiabadassChallenge // An Instagram challenge for November centered around diabetes, which is great way to educate others about diabetes while also helping you find other diabetics by simply searching through the hashtag.
  • World Diabetes Day // The IDF's yearly campaign focused on diabetes awareness and advocacy. A great place for so much information about diabetes and advocacy that your head might explode!
  • Blogs // Blogs are great places to find inspiration for advocacy. A few of my favorites are Six Until Me, Diabetesaliciousness, Texting My Pancreas, Coffee & Insulin, and Very Light, No Sugar.
I hope you are as excited as I am for this month!

Friday, June 12, 2015

A New Adventure

At #dsma on Wednesday, we were asked a simple question: "What's missing? What isn't working? What doesn't need to be changed? What would you like to see?" I thought about it for a moment and then tweeted this:

I was honestly surprised that more people hadn't noticed this gaping hole in the #DOC, but then I remembered that the #DOC is mostly filled with (amazing) adults. While there are places for college-aged diabetics, there aren't many places for diabetic teens that want a positive community of people to talk to. Project Blue November has a panel of teens that answer submitted questions about a given topic each month, but there isn't really room for discussion there. Tumblr is also a place where most teens go to talk diabetes, but it is often a negative place for a teen to go. Many people on tumblr go to escape, so there is a lot of negativity (I'm not bashing this awesome project, just giving everyone an example of how tumblr seems to be for teens) surrounding diabetes there.

I've been hoping that someone else would realize this and get on it, but after seeing this tweet, I've come to accept that I'm going to have to do something about this. So here I am telling you that I will start a tweet chat for type 1 diabetic teens. I don't have a hashtag, (though I'm thinking about #t1tchat. It hasn't been used and is short and sweet.) I have no website, haven't talked to many people about it, but it will happen. I'm hoping that I can start it by the beginning of August, but I need your help to get it done.

How can you help? Simple. Find blogs, tudiabetes accounts, twitter accounts, facebook pages, google + accounts, tumblrs, and anyplace else on the web there is a teen with type 1 diabetes and send their links my way. You can email them to me, (inulinpensink@gmail.com) tweet/ direct message me, (@sarahspillerr on twitter), use any other social media link on the sidebar, or just comment on my blog to let me know.

I'm on the hunt for people too and I'm definitely going to create a home for this chat on the internet soon. If you have any suggestions or think you could help, I'd love if you could comment below or email me!

Moral of the Story: I'm ready for a new adventure.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Necessary & Proper Adjustments

You know how there is always the tiny caveat in the fine print on the registration page for that new yoga class you're dying to take or at the end of that article you just read about running? The one that tells you to, "consult a doctor before participating in physical activity." Yeah that one. You know else they need? One that tells you to consult yourself before you participate in physical activity.

I'm enrolled in online gym and health (it's about as exciting as it sounds) because of scheduling issues at my school because I'm in chorus and STEM at my school. I'm required to keep an exercise log throughout the class which means that I actually have to do more than yoga, since I have to participate in physical activity that gets my heart rate to my 'target range.' Today I innocently decided to try running.

I put on an old t-shirt and my trusty (read: 4 years old) norts and laced up my Nikes (read: also old) to prepare for my run. I decided to bring our chiweenie with me, so I sneaked the leash past our fast asleep Yorkie and our preoccupied outside Heinz 57 and ventured outdoors with the dog. My blood sugar was 152 and my CGM said gave me a , so I assumed I was good to go. Wrong.

This may be completely irrelevant, but who cares? I like it.
I spent 34 minutes torturing myself walking and running with the dog and was exhausted/ hot/ sweaty/ thirsty/ miserable. I took a shower for obvious reasons (see aforementioned sweaty) and went to my room to call the local Apple-fixing store to see if they could explain an issue I'm having with an old iPhone. As I was struggling to read the IMEI number off of the back of the phone to type it in, I realized I was probably low. (I think Apple uses size 3 font on their phones.) I checked my blood sugar and there was an unpleasant number on my blood tester: 32.

I freaked out and ate about 90 carbs consisting of two juice boxes, a slice of peanut butter toast, a banana, and an unknown amount of pringles, in that order. That probably wasn't the wisest of decisions, but at the time it felt right. (This sounds like someone explaining a bad decision. Oh wait...)

What I'm trying to say is: adjust your insulin or eat something before you decide you're going to start your next health kick. Otherwise, you'll end up, as my mother so eloquently puts it, "inhaling everything without covering it."

Moral of the Story:  +  = 

Thursday, June 4, 2015


It's a real word, according to the Oxford Dictionary. We all know (or if you don't know, you do now) that it stands for the fear of missing out, but is there a word for knowing that you're missing out? That's how I'm feeling at the moment while my little sister is at camp while I'm here not doing much at home.

I wake up every morning at 11:30 AM (mostly because I stay up way too late watching the X-Files) and think, "Wow, they're about to eat lunch and I'm laying in my bed doing nothing." (#livingthedream) I read The Skimm, (an awesome email service that finds the important news, summarizes it, & puts it in less daunting terminology) test my blood and take my Synthroid, (yay endocrine system problems) and then watch X-Files to wait my required 30 minutes before eating. (Or in this case I forgo that ritual to instead write this blog post.) I'll forget my feelings of missing out for a while, but then at night, while I stare out of my window into the not-so-dark sky, (because there's a full moon tonight) I feel it again. That sounds super dramatic, I know, but that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Camp is my favorite place in the whole wide world and it makes me so sad that I couldn't go with Anna this year, but I know second session is going to be amazing and that CITing is going to be the best. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Well if that means that wanting to be at camp right now will make me camp even more fun, then I REALLY can't wait for camp this year.

I'll leave you with a video of one of my favorite camp songs ever:

Moral of the Story: Love is wider than the miles between you and me, camp.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's the Dexcom: Parenthetical Pediatric Edition

So now that I've had my mandatory mental breakdown, I think it's time for things to resume to their normal operations. So first let's go ahead and talk about my newish toy: the Dexcom with Share. It's actually the same thing as my old Dexcom. Except it actually charges and it seems to be more accurate than my old one. Maybe it's the software update? Whatever it is, I like it. I also have the special pediatric (in parentheses) edition because apparently there is a difference between the normal G4 with Share and the pediatric G4 with Share. (Update: there are two additional warning screens to tell me that my CGM is not 100% accurate. Because apparently that makes a medical device suitable for children?) I'm also hapy that Dexcom printed the 'Rx only' text on the back in a darker color so maybe potential thieves will get a clue and realize that what they are about to steal is a medical device. Not an iPod. (I can't believe I wrote that post as a freshman. Now I'm about to be a senior. Oh my gosh.) I digress. I haven't actually tried the all-important 'share' feature because I have a Galaxy S5 and having to carry around my iPod just to see my blood sugars seems kind of counter-intuitive. I am debating getting an iPhone because a) share app and b) the Apple health app looks so cool.

In other good news, Monica Vesci is coming back! The brand used to make tons of adorable clutches that had enough space for your diabetes and regular essentials. I always had my eye on their clutches, but they shut down their store for a while and basically disappeared. Now the brand is back and is soon starting up a Kickstarter to begin selling clutches again! I'll let you all know when clutches can be bought because I am super excited for these to be sold again. (FYI, I'm not endorsed by the brand, but I wouldn't be sad if they sent me a free clutch... #desperate) And also cute accessory/clothing related: I found out after buying some of J.Crew's chino shorts that their pockets are big enough to hold my pump! That means I don't have to wear my pump on my shorts all the time! YAY!

And here is my obligatory blurb about camp. Because it's about to be Summer and everyone knows that means Camp Kudzu! I have the amazing opportunity to be a CIT (Counselor In Training) for camp, which means I'm almost a counselor and I'll get my own cabin to be with during the week and I am so excited! I won't be going to cap with Anna because my parents accidentally signed her up for first session instead of second session, but I'm still super excited to be going. I can't wait to be back at camp walking way too much and having way too much fun! And did I mention that this year's music party theme is Disney? How awesome is that?

Moral of the Story: I'm currently in need of money for cute accessories and Disney themed attire. Donations to my non-existent bank account are appreciated and encouraged.