Games Kids Play

Over Memorial Day weekend, our family traveled to the NC mountains area to visit friends who have a 4 year old son. Our “vacations” are quite different now that we have a kid – the focus is more on finding things we ALL will enjoy instead of it being a sight-seeing adventure for just myself and my husband. Visiting friends who have children is a win-win because, since our daughter is a rambunctious and curious 2 year old, we knew we were heading to a kid-friendly house that would provide plenty of new distractions, and would hopefully hold some fun for all of us. Our daughter could be involved in various kid-activities and play games with their son, and while they were self-entertaining, it might allow us parents to play some games of our own – like Settlers, Puerto Rico, and Tichu.

Bless you!

Tichu special cards – Mah Jong, Dog, Dragon, Phoenix. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Penelope and Magnus (code names invented to protect our innocent kids who may not want their names splashed all over the internet) had an awesome time playing together with his drum-set, guitars, rescue helicopter, train set, and even built (with some parental assistance) a fortress/tunnel out of couch pillows and ottoman cubes.

Then a game seemed to sprout up mysteriously (to the untrained diabetic eye) where they took these little Leap-Frog game cartridges and lifted up their shirts to put them underneath. I heard them saying “meh-sin” (medicine) a lot, and then they would run around and show these cartridges to us. It was funny how both of them had one, and would mimic doing the exact same thing.

Of course I knew where this game had originated – the night before, they caught me pulling out my pump from underneath my shirt and giving myself a bolus before dinner. “What’s that?” Magnus asked. “It’s my medicine, ” I said. “It helps me be able to eat and process my food so I can have the energy to be healthy and strong.”

Penelope has always been curious about all my diabetic accoutrements – insulin pump, CGM site on my thigh, and testing my sugar using the finger-stick meter. She’s getting old enough now that I’ve started giving her a little more information about my “meh-sin” and how I take care of myself. I follow several other diabetes patient blogs (like SixUntilMe) where the bloggers have children of similar ages to Penelope, so I’m paying attention to the various conversations people have with their kids surrounding diabetes. I don’t ever want to scare her or make her worry about me, but I do want her to be cognizant and informed about my condition. Always a new frontier where diabetes and my family is concerned 🙂

In Case of Apocalypse

Being the sci-fi and fantasy aficionado that I am, I have read numerous books and seen scores of movies and TV shows that center around some type of “end of the world as we know it” scenario.

The Stand, by Stephen King, is one of my favorite books of all-time (and the miniseries was awesome as well.) It focuses on small groups of survivors existing in a world where 99.4% of the population was killed by a weaponized version of the flu. In The Walking Dead, the world has been overrun by zombies. The book Ariel takes place when one day, all technology of any kind stops working, magical creatures appear out of nowhere, and a man and a unicorn navigate through that world trying to survive (yes, I read this book as a teenager because it had a unicorn on the cover. Love.) Then there are books like Spellsinger, Guardians of the Flame, and  The Architect of Sleep that center around the main character(s) being magically transported to some alternate reality – in The Architect of Sleep, that reality is one where raccoons became the dominant species instead of humans. (Ha! Planet of the Apes has got nothing on a freaking planet of the giant telepathic raccoons!!!)Ah, the memories

Inundated with Armageddon-like possibilities in movies, books, TV and reality shows where the contestants have to survive with limited means, my thoughts occasionally turn to….what would happen IF the world as we knew it changed for some reason, and suddenly we had to survive without power, without medical devices that require batteries….without INSULIN??!

It could regularly keep me awake at night if I let that line of thinking go too far. In my little corner of the world, the “preparation” I’ve done in case of an actual emergency is to stockpile maybe a month’s worth of insulin, syringes, test strips, batteries, pump supplies, and CGM supplies. But if the power went out f-o-r-e-v-e-r, how long would my insulin and supplies last? How would I get more? How would anyone be able to make more? If chaos and havoc reigned around the world, could I overtake the looters to raid pharmacies and get enough insulin to last me until we became a fully functioning society with regular access to medicines again? How would I physically survive without the “comforts” of modern medicine that I currently use to keep myself (relatively) healthy? I feel pretty sure things would turn quickly into “survival of the fittest” mode, and I’d unfortunately be one of the first casualties.

Most people in an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario would only require the basics to survive – food, water, and shelter. But anyone with any sort of chronic disease or condition (and it goes without saying,  the people in hospitals/care facilities, etc) would be pretty much at the mercy of the kindness and expertise of others in order to live. Thankfully, I have several friends who are super educated and have a wide variety of survival skills and knowledge, so connecting up with them would be my “go-to” plan if all heck broke loose one day.

Synthetic insulin crystals synthesized using r...

Synthetic insulin crystals synthesized using recombinant DNA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last weekend, some of those friends and I were actually talking about this “what if” scenario….the group included 2 chemical engineers, an aerospace engineer, a computer programmer, and myself – the psychology major turned project manager. (I am seriously out-classed in the higher math/science department, so thank God I have such smart friends!) I was asking them things like, “would we be able to get insulin from cows and pigs like they used to do?” I am still curious as to how EXACTLY the insulin was taken from animals and purified, so if the rubber met the road in a post-apocalyptic world, I might could acquire a pet cow or pig to help me live for a while. My chemical engineering friends felt confident they could figure out how to make insulin for me, and it would be the first thing they would work on (as soon as we all had gotten to safety and avoided the zombie apocalypse or whatever had happened.) Can I just say I have amazing friends? Their willingness to take on saving my life as a top priority when the world could be ending made me feel so loved. Hypothetical situation or not, it kind of got me a little weepy.

Unless something truly earth-changing happens in our lifetime, I should never have to call in that favor from my friends. If I had any hope of the internet being available in a worst-case-scenario event, I would say all of us DOC folks could ban together and form a Diabetes Republic where we all could help each other, share supplies and knowledge, and create a safe haven for diabetics. We would learn how to make insulin, syringes and the supplies we needed to survive with whatever resources were available to us. Really, when you think about it, our whole online (and sometimes in person!) community of diabetics is already a collective group of awesome people that has found each other, shared and connected in so many beneficial ways, and made our world a better place for so many through the support and care we give each other. I think if we could all find each other in case of Apocalypse, we’d do just fine.

OK, I think I have all this “what if” stuff out of my system now, and won’t be worried about it again for a while. (But if anyone wants to start working on a secret diabetic hand-signal or bird call so we can find each other in the wild when the power goes out or the zombies start their attack, let me know…..)

Dawn Phenomenon, Site Change, and Breakfast Spike, Oh My ???

Wow, talking about a trifecta of ugliness that causes a bad blood sugar day…..this particular morning, it was a combination of:

  1. Dawn Phenomenon – no matter what the linked Wikipedia article says, I *do* have to change my insulin intake to manage the spike in sugars that happens in early morning. Over the years, my endo and I have tweaked my morning basal rates to account for it in some part.  And I *do* eat a small snack before bed that has about 10g-15g of carbs and some protein and fiber in it so that my stomach isn’t so absolutely empty by the morning that the dawn phenomenon cranks up my sugar to exponential heights. For me, if I don’t eat breakfast by around 8am, my sugar just starts climbing and climbing no matter what I’m doing or how much insulin I take. Thank you, Mr. Liver for that input of yours. Sigh. This particular morning, I was so busy doing other things, it was close to 9am before I could eat.

    An infusion set, showing the insertion needle.

    An infusion set, showing the insertion needle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  2. Infusion set site change – My pump ran out of insulin at 7am, so I had to put more liquid life into my pump (in the form of Novolog) and change out the infusion set. It never fails – no matter if it’s a new or old bottle of insulin,
    no matter if I’m putting the site on my stomach, my hip, etc, it seems to take a few hours for the insulin from a new site to really start absorbing and working. I sometimes supplement with shots, but that brings on it’s own level of danger since who knows when the pump insulin will start absorbing.
  3. Post-Breakfast blood sugar spike – I have fought this battle for many years, and Metformin has helped immensely with this, but with the dawn phenomenon and infusion set change already hard at work at wrecking my sugar, it was inevitable that breakfast would send me over the edge. (I took the picture of my Dexcom at 9:17am right after breakfast, and then it got all confused at the rapid rise and gave me the ???, but trust me, it stayed up in the 200s for several hours of the morning.)


The good news? By lunch time, the new infusion site had settled in and started working, and my sugars only mildly tanked because I had so much insulin on board from taking a couple of shots in an attempt to avoid the 300s. The rest of the day was thankfully uneventful, sugar-wise. Note to self: in the future, try to think ahead and change out the infusion set at ANY other time than the morning. Of course, we always have the best intentions that don’t always pan out…thinking of and remembering to do every-single-thing-every-day-to-counter-bad-blood-sugars? Good luck!

To FitBit or Not to FitBit

In my neverending quest to find techno items and tools that will encourage and aid me in weight loss, I have stumbled upon the Fitbit family of products that looks like something I could use, but to be honest, I don’t know which would be best for me, is it worth it, would I use it?? I DO use MyFitnessPal on my smart phone (OK, well, I HAVE used it, but maybe I’ve slacked off now and need some encouragement to get back on that wagon) and I think I read that the Fitbit interfaces somehow with that.

FitBit Fun

Does anyone around here use a Fitbit? If so, which one do you like best, and why?