All-Hallows-Even

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | 6 comment(s)

Let me start off by saying this: I have next to no will power. As in nil, nada, zilch.

Okay, on with the story. The festivities began on Saturday evening. We were invited to 3 halloween parties, but only made it to 2 of them. I was reluctant to go at first, but Meg gave me the required kick in the pants and we dressed up
It was a re-tread
Meg went as Little Red Ridinghood and I went as the Big Bad Wolf (in Gramma's nightgown, of course). We used these costumes several years ago, and so it was easy to pull off again. There's not much to it actually. Meg had a red cape, and I had a nightgown and some face make-up. There really aren't too many costumes you can pull off with a full beard. A wolf happens to be one of them.

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and had a decent time. In fact, at the one party, we even won a second place prize
To Be Fair
There were only about a dozen or so folks at the party that actually dressed up, so I wouldn't say we had very stiff competition...

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for "best costume."

Then on Sunday we hosted a little pumpkin carving party at our place. It gave us a much needed excuse to give our house a good cleaning! We served a stew and a vegetarian chili and warm apple cider with rum to spike it with (note this is a difficult one to bolus for). It all went well, until 5pm rolled around and two families were still on their way and we were basically out of food (that NEVER happens! We usually have sooo many leftovers it's ridiculous). We scrambled to throw a pizza in the oven, whip up a salad, and grill some chicken-apple sausages to feed our hungry guests, and all went well. It was a little chaotic there for a bit, but all-in-all a good time.

We carved up a bunch of pumpkins, roasted some pumpkin seeds, and everyone left with all their digits in tact
Pumpkin Carving Tool Sets Rock!
Seriously. These little tool sets are awesome. I started to carve mine with a big knife, but then switched to a little saw-blade tool, and it was like going through warm butter. Hands down, a great invention!

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(which was really the only goal for the evening). I went with a minimalist design for my pumpkin.

Tonight, we handed out some candy. We live on a busy street, so we didn't get too many trick-or-treaters. Essentially, that means we have tons of leftover candy. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have no self-control. I've been around bowls of halloween candy for the past 4 days, and my blood sugar graphs look like some sort of scary new roller coaster ride. I start of trying so hard, but then I slip, and believe me, it's a slippery slope. On both Saturday and Sunday nights I was so pleased with my blood sugar readings in the middle of the evening, that I went ahead and rewarded myself with a (few) "fun size" candies.

Big mistake.

These little suckers are evil, not fun. Do you know how easy it is to throw back a half-dozen of these in no-time flat? That's like an entire day's worth of calories! And not only is it hard to keep track of how many you've actually eaten, they should each probably get their own little square wave bolus. I did neither. For the record: random guesses followed by random boluses = random blood sugars. Indulging in these while at a party and having a few drinks produces the double-whammy of having blood sugars climb slowly overnight. Waking up with a 300+ reading is not cool.

I need to get these candies outta the house and take them into work were folks with normal pancreases can indulge.

Marie

Friday, October 20, 2006 | 9 comment(s)

My grandmom passed away last weekend. I went to her funeral on Wednesday. She had had a long fight with Alzheimer's
New Research
Being the only person in my family with diabetes and with a grandmom with Alzheimer's, I have found the recent research that has hypothesized that Alzheimer's may be a special type of diabetes (some have gone so far as to call it "type 3" diabetes) to be particularly interesting. I certainly hope that something of benefit for either disease comes from the findings.

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, so the loss was not a terrible surprise. With a disease like this, death can seem more like a relief than a loss.

She was first diagnosed more than 10 years ago, and I haven't seen her since she went into a nursing home over 7 years ago. She hasn't been cognizant of her surroundings nor able to recognize close family members for the past several years. Despite this as well as his own recent health issues (including a heart valve replacement and by-pass surgery) my grandpop visited my grandmom regularly in the nursing home. My grandparents were married for 59 years, and the most difficult part of the funeral was seeing how heart-broken my grandfather was. In a sense, it was a very long good-bye, which can be all the more difficult, really. My aunt put it best when she said the most difficult part happened many years ago. Slipping into oblivion with this disease is really one of the worst fates in life (though watching a loved one go down that path may be a very close second).

Unfortunately, I was never very close with my grandmom, even when I was a kid and before her dementia set in.

There is one time I remember well, though.

As a kid, I went to a private, progressive (read: hippy-dippy) elementary school. I then went to public school starting in 7th grade, and went through quite a culture shock.

I remember telling my grandmom about how different and difficult it was in my new school and about how much trouble a kid in my class had gotten into for cheating on an exam. I remember sitting in the nook at her kitchen table telling her this story when she interrupted me and said:

"You know, when you cheat, the only person you're cheating is yourself."

I've thought about this sentence many times, and I think it's pretty profound.

I believe it can be applied broadly in life. In academic settings, you're cheating yourself out of an opportunity to learn. You may think you're so smart when you're cheating, that you're pulling a fast one, beating the system, and really getting away with something great. But cutting corners deprives you of the rewarding sense of accomplishment when you complete a difficult task. Taking the easy route will always lessen an experience, regardless of what that experience is.

As a diabetic, the concept of cheating runs deep. People who are trying to lose weight will often talk about cheating on their diets in a casual manner. But the concept of cheating on a diet is rarely a light matter for a diabetic. The psychological weight of cheating on such things when you're a kid with diabetes can be tremendous. Sneaking Halloween candy that's been stashed on top of the refrigerator or some extra cake at birthday parties when your a kid shouldn't come with the kind of guilt associated with cheating, yet it often does for kids with diabetes.

As an adult, I still feel like I'm "cheating" when I indulge in sweets. Even with the advent of short acting insulin, the change in the dietary guidelines to include all carbs as equals, the ease of insulin delivery with an insulin pump, and power and freedom granted by having well-tuned basal rates and carb ratios, I still feel guilty when I'm eating something sweet.

Before all these things, I cheated.
I know I cheated.
At times, I cheated a lot.
And I know I was cheating myself.

Now, however, I have learned to (mostly) bolus appropriately for my indulgences. But even so, there's still a lingering feeling of guilt that comes from this notion that I'm cheating. And then there's the shock (and a little fear, too) when I test a few hours later and I come up with a perfect blood sugar reading. The fear comes from the eventual thought that creeps into my head: "Heck, that was easy. I can do things like this all the time." This is a dangerous place to be -- a very slippery slope.

It's a strange thing, and I don't think I've been able to explain it fully (or at least to my satisfaction). And it may be strange for me to go on about cheating when my grandmom has just recently passed, but this is indeed the most salient memory I have with my grandmom.

It was a simple phrase, but it has meant a lot to me.
Thank you, grandmom.

Ticky-Hickey

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | 6 comment(s)

This past weekend we had another bout of gucci camping in Shenandoah National Park. It was cold... damn cold. I'd say mid-20s at night. All that was good and fine standing by a camp fire (though it was difficult to play guitar unless you were perilously close to the flames).

Meg (unfortunately) has had some problems with her sleeping bag in the past, and sure enough, she had them again. It seems the synthetic insulation fibers may be breaking down in the foot her bag because the last few times we've camped, she's had cold feet overnight. Previously (and again this past weekend), I've had to unzip the bottom portion of my bag and stick her feet (still inside her sleeping bag, mind you) inside of my sleeping bag. I've teased her that what she needs is a good case of diabetes to get such warm feet inside a sleeping bag!

We also found out that beagles are not really cold weather dogs. We took Jorge with us, but he was pretty unhappy Friday night when we got to the camp site in the dark.
Ridiculous
Although Shenandoah Park is only 70 miles from DC, it takes a full 3 hours to get there in Friday afternoon traffic. Yes, if you do the math, that's an average speed of 23 mph. Traffic in the DC area sucks.

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We originally thought that putting him down at our feet would be best since he might help keep Meg's feet warm. But a shivering beagle doesn't help much, it turns out. At some point in the early morning hours, I stuck Meg's feet in my sleeping bag and stuffed Jorge in up near the top. For a few hours, at least, we were one cozy, warm family in a tent in the woods.

We call it gucci camping for a reason. We weren't really "roughing it", you see. We ate better in the woods that we do most days of the week at home.
Our Menu:
Friday Night:
Everyone fends for themselves (that meant roasting chicken and apple sausages over a fire, for me and Meg)

Saturday Morning:
Scrambled Egg and Chorizo Tacos

Saturday Lunch:
Pack your own lunches for a (not so) strenuous 4 mile hike.

Saturday Dinner:
Surf & Turf (Yup, steak and bacon wrapped shrimp)
Baked Potatoes (and/or Baked Sweet Potatoes), and

Green Beans with butter and sliced almonds
(All items were cooked over the camp fire. It was awesome.)

Sunday Breakfast:
Oatmeal/Yogurt/Granola bar with:
  • honey
  • raisins
  • dates
  • strawberries
  • fresh pineapple
  • roasted pecans
  • diced apples
  • diced pears
As I was getting into the car on Sunday afternoon to start the drive home I noticed a little pinch of pain along the left side of my abdomen. I had recently read someone's
I Apologize Completely
But I have no idea who it was that recently wrote about having to get an shot of antibiotics because of an infected pump site. If you know, please remind me so I can (re)assure myself that I'm not going crazy. Thanks.

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post about an infected insertion site they had, and then the following conversation in my head ensued: "Hmmm, I've got this weird pain on my side."
"I wonder if I've got a little infection in one of my old sites."
"But that would be strange, I haven't had a site over on my left side for at least two weeks."
"But then you haven't showered in two days and have been frolicking in the woods...."

I had several layers of clothes still on as we were leaving, so I wasn't able to easily check it out. Finally when I got home and unpacked all our gear and went to take a shower, I looked down, and saw the latter half of a tick sticking out of me.

Not cool.

Meg got some tweezers and removed the bugger (he was surprisingly difficult to remove) and placed him in a zip-lock bag. She did a bit of research on Lyme Disease while I showered. I searched some more and found a ton of information about the probabilities of infection from known tick bites (14%) and what the infection rates were by region (the county we were in only has a "moderate" risk), and what the infection rates are based on how engorged the tick was upon removal and how long it had been there (the more engorged and the longer it's in you, the higher the risk).

I also learned that if some of the "mouth-pieces" were left behind upon removal of the tick, this will not result in a higher likelihood of Lyme disease. I also learned that prophylactic antibiotic treatment for Lyme's disease is not often recommened. Apparently, they wait until it develops before trying to treat it. Same goes for the slightly more frieghtening Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

So, now I have a little ticky-hickey, and I have to keep an eye out for the (not so) "tell-tale" bull's eye sign of Lyme disease or some general flu-like symptoms that may pop up in the next 2-weeks to a month. Thankfully, a course of antibiotics "usually" cures both Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. But the flip-side sounds like hell.

I used to always feel confident that I was strong as an ox when it came to stuff like this. I tend not to use band-aids, or take any medication unless absolutely necessary, or go to a doctor unless I feel like I'm about to die. As I've started to get a little older though, and a few diabetic complications have started to rear their ugly heads, my self-confidence on this front has been a little shaken. I feel more at risk.

I so don't need to add this to the list of things to worry about.

I'm back!

Thursday, October 05, 2006 | 7 comment(s)

I've been back from vacation for just about a week now. I'm finally getting back into my routine. While I was on vacation, my control slipped significantly. My averages hopped up to the 180s or 190s (yikes! that's like the olden days before I became a reformed diabetic).

This week has been great, bloodsugar-wise (although I have been having a few too many lows, but nothing too, too bad). I've been eating my normal diet, have exercised a bit, and my average bloodsugar this week has been a freakishly awesome 124. I'm pretty pleased.

Anyway, I've put together a quick
I apologize
There are 26 photos included, which might seem a bit long. I'm sorry, but it was *really* difficult to whittle 342 pictures down to just 26! It's the curse of the digital age.

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lightbox of pictures from our vacation to share with y'all.

Enjoy!

(To start, Click Here!).