Sunday, November 11, 2012

Double Agent


We have discussed "pumpcations" here , before. And because this is my blog, we are going to talk about them again..dang it.
I have been a pumper since 2004, before I met my hubs, the infamous "Dr. C". I loved my first insulin pump, an Animas IR1250, like pre-color screen and hugeness, Animas. It was silver and sleek and meant I didn't have to take shots anymore: suhhhhh-weeet.
I then transitioned over to a Medtronic Paradigm, and had met my true love in the pump world. The ease of use and having a back button were probably more exciting than they should have been.
Then marked my stent with Schmomni Plod, where I was told I MUST wear their product if I were to remain employed...you know, a totally legal request {insert sarcasm font}. Going tubeless WAS nice, having a tumor under my clothing, not so nice. Plus, at any given moment, a bad pod would awkwardly begin loudly beeping, and is only silenced by a hammer...or defusing it like a bomb, which easily breaks your nails. Rude.
About 2-3 years ago I began my annual pumpcations. A vacation from pumping, where I switch over to multiple daily injections {MDI} for a few weeks or months out of the year. It's so liberating. To not deal with pockets or clips or shoving it in my bra. Not having to worry about my site while getting bussaaaaayyy {yes, yes I just said it like that}...or worry about what my husband thinks of how it looks on my body. Not worrying about what others think about it, feeling stares when they catch site of my tubing or see me bolusing. Don't get me wrong, I'm the biggest pump proponent out there, especially for a Medtronic pump, but sometimes...I just need a break. And that's ok.
I take great care in explaining pumpcations to my patients. That they ARE ok, that they won't get in "trouble" for wanting to switch from time to time. We always have a back up plan for shots. We sit down and calculate the correct basal injection doses, adjust the carb ratio and correction factor, and review the fundamentals of MDI.
I found something surprising, though. People are even MORE apt to make comments about my diabetes management choices when I'm using insulin pens. "Aren't you supposed to be on a pump? Did it break? Why are you STILL on shots, I could NEVERRRR do that...." And so on. Geeze, people. Let me be pancreatically challenged on my own. Calling attention to my injection in a large group of people is awkward and uncomfortable. I will talk diabetes all day, any day {lets get real, that IS my day} but don't be a douche and point me out to the vast majority of folks that don't even notice me!!
I guess diabetes, especially type 1, is something new and unknown to most. Questions, comments, insensitive statements..the general public has no filter. I've seriously heard it all. If someone you knew was diagnosed with cancer, would you ever consider walking up to them and saying "oh! You have cancer?? So did my uncle..he lost his leg..and then died.", uhhhh no. So I wish more common sense was used in that regard.
It's ok to be different. Even if its a different different every week. If you need a break from pumping: take it. Discuss with your team, and take a pumpcation...but use common sense, and have a game plan. Make sure you have long acting insulin to replace your basal rate, syringes or pen needles, adjusted doses {you use about 20% more insulin on injections} and a plan.
And to you non-diabetics: we are people, with feelings, with a chronic disease...use caution when relating your anecdotes to us. We are very sorry your grandmother lost her life or limb, but that is not us. Do we look immobile and unhealthy? Yeah, well we probably won't ever be that way. Ye of little faith. I've had this disease for 2 decades, and I'm pretty darn healthy, diabetically speaking.
Ok..rant over, pumpcation: month 3, set to begin! I am looking forward to slapping on a T-Slim, since I have no current endorsement deals with Medtronic..hint, hint...but also, so I can report back to my public {see: you, lovely reader}.

PS. I have zero plans to censor THIS post...many took issue with my DAD post, and it is now so beyond edited, it is unicorns and bullshit and not me at all. So, I hope it at least informed a few of a growing treatment option. Because that is the LAST time I change who I am so as not to offend.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Who's your DADdy?



I recently accepted a {non-salary..volunteer} position as a clinical consultant with a dog breeder that also trains services animals, namely: Diabetes Alert Dogs. I help screen potential clients, and help them grasp who is, and is NOT, a good candidate for a dog. Oh your A1c was last done 2 years ago and was 13%? Ehhhhhhhhhh

For those of you not in the know, a diabetes alert dog is a service animal that has received 1,000+ hours of training to become a service/assistance dog that you're able to take everywhere, and is also trained to detect high and low blood glucoses in a handler. I've seen it happen, and it made me cry. Here is this sweet faced labrador that is telling someone that they need to check their sugar. it gives you goosebumps. What exactly are they smelling? We aren't quite certain. its not neccesarily the actual "sugar", its a shift in hormones that their super noses are able to pick up on (I wonder if they know I skipped my shower last night....). Its best done with a type 1 diabetic, as its somewhat a stunted occurance in type 2s...again, we aren't sure why. We are calling it "Factor X'...sounds like super CIA stuff, right? So any chemists out there that would like to do a study as to exactly WHAT these dogs are getting a whiff of, PLEASE, contact me ASAP.

For those of you with loved ones that suffer from severe hypoglycemia awareness, ya'll are the ones that can benefit the most from these pups. Being able to catch a downward swing long before its seizure time would be a blessing for anyone that has experieinced them in real life. They ain't fun. Seeing my husband seize, realizing I don't have glucagon in the house, and knowing I am at least 30 min away from an ambulance arriving at my house: NOT FUN, and the stuff that nightmares are made from. Imagine if that was your child? Well...I can't..I wouldn't want to. These dogs are beyond what we are even capable of knowing ourselves...and although they may have puppy breath, they will love you no matter what...even if you do look stupid trying to fit into your Spanx and fall over onto the floor. Not that I have ever done that. Ever.

These guys are service animals, they wear a vest, and can go anywhere with their handler. They begin socialization and training at age 4-6 weeks, and some have even been able to alert at the age of 9 weeks. Although, they are not ready to "go live" in a home until closer to 18 months of age. Training involves using saliva samples from a type 1 diabetic, placed in a vented tin that can be hidden anywhere on a person. The dog is then rewarded to recognize and paw (see: alert) when it smells this scent. And they use spit. To train a dog. I felt pretty dumb the first time I was 41 and standing in my kitchen shoving gauze in my mouth to collect a sample. Even stupider when I realized that my mouth was bright pink from the strawberry Jello I had just consumed.

Diabetes isn't sexy. I mean, I'm sexy..and have diabetes..that's different. Diabetes is work. Its a fulltime job on top of a full time life. So anything that is able to help someone live a life that's a little easier....why not??? Well, maybe the price tag. For the cost of a used vehicle, you can purchase a gently used DAD, fresh out of training...to the tune of $25,000.00. But unlike a car, it poops, pees and burps in your face. Dogs need constant care and love, and a DAD is no different. They are there to serve you, not sit in a crate all day long. Some DAD trainers are able to get grants or organize fund raisers to assist in the purchase of these animals. Some (not so nice) trainers sell you a 12 week old puppy that has been "scent imprinted" and youre given a booklet to train the animal. There are not so nice trainers that will assure you your dog has endured hours upon hours of training, only for you to get home with a spazoid dog with ADD that shizzles on your shoe. As in any market, scammers are here. So you best do your research, yo.
And as this growing industry gets rid of some its stretch marks, we will have set standards that dogs must meet to be called a DAD. You wouldn't want a seeing eye dog that only guided 30% of the time when it was distracted. Same with a DAD. We need genetically sound, healthy animals, and non-asshole, smart trainers, that are working towards the greater good of diabetes betterment.