Typically, when I get an unknown call on my cell phone, especially if it’s from out-of-state, I don’t pick it up. But today, since I’m out of town, and have put out calls to some realtors that I desperately want a call back from, I picked up one of those “random” calls. And I guess, as they say, nothing is random or coincidental at all.
It was a person from GoDaddy just calling to make sure I was happy with the service they provide for this blog. (I am.) As it turns out, the guy who called me, Jason, told me he is a T1 also! He’s within a year of my age, and he also has had diabetes since his early 20s.
After he told me that, and I realized we had all that in common, I asked him if he also uses Dexcom’s CGM. He doesn’t. But he said he had been reading about it and thinking about it. Anyone who has visited this blog before probably can tell, without diving in too deep- I’m a big fan of Dexcom and know that I have tighter control now than ever thanks in large part to the information it provides.
I let Jason know that, yep- so far so good with the GoDaddy hosting stuff… but way, way more importantly, I loved having an unexpected connection today with a fellow Type 1 person.
Last week, as I was driving to my appointment with my endocrinologist, fighting horrible traffic to get there I started to question, really, why was this appointment even necessary. My last appointment was only 3 months ago.
My main reasons for these appointments have always been:
to find out my A1C and
to get prescription refills.
That’s pretty much it. But now, I have a Dexcom, and I look at the Clarity app often enough that I know what my “predicted” A1C is. Besides that, I think my trend graph is way more important than that A1c number anyway. An A1C could spit out an impressive number, even if someone didn’t have very tight control on their blood sugars. As long as the average works out to be something within a good range, the A1C might deceivingly seem “good”even if your control isn’t.
One thing I love about my endocrinologists office is that you get an immediate result of your A1c test. Last week, mine came back as .5% higher than what the Dexcom Clarity app predicted. When I told my doctor, he said “we pay more attention to Dexcom results than the lab work.” I didn’t ask why or for any further explanation, but it’s how I’ve felt about it all along and I’m happy with how things have been going so, I’m just sticking with what my Dexcom is telling me.
It seems like an A1C result isn’t as important as it used to be now that we have more advanced technology. I can see graphs of what my blood sugar is doing every 5 minutes of the day with my Dexcom CGM. I can get a predicted A1c for a 7 day, 14 day, 30 day, or 90 day period with the Dexcom Clarity app. Even better, if I access Clarity from my computer, I can see all sorts of trend graphs to see where where and when my “problem” blood sugars are. I pay a lot more attention to whether or not my blood sugars are staying within my target range than anything else. The actual A1C or average of those readings is far less important to me than simply staying in my ideal range as often as possible.
I’ve tightened that range little by little. I think when I first had a Dexcom, I had an alarm set for a high of 180- maybe even 200. Now I keep my low alarm set for 65 (that hasn’t changed), and my high at 150. These days, it’s a rarity for me to have a blood sugar that ever gets (or at least stays for long) above 170. Of course, it still happens from time to time, but thanks to having the alarm set for 150, I can be proactive and avoid those highs I use to battle. Treating a slightly elevated blood sugar is a lot more manageable than treating one that gets way up there.
My endo told me to make my next appointment in 4 to 6 months. Of course, I chose 6 months. Unless something new comes up, there’s no reason for me to go any sooner than that. I get more meaningful information about my blood sugars from my Dexcom than an A1c result is ever going to tell me.
Whenever I’ve heard about the benefits of a fast, or cleanse, I’ve always thought, “That is absolutely NOT for me!” For one thing, I get pretty cranky if I go without food for too long during the day. Then there’s my Type 1 diabetes to deal with… these fasts I’ve heard about are usually not recommended for someone like me.
Intermittent fasting, however is a whole different thing.
In a nutshell, with intermittent fasting (IF),you get most of the benefits of a longer fast, but it’s much easier, in my opinion. You have a 8 hour window (you can tailor it, but generally an 8-10 hour window is ideal) during the day of when you eat all of your meals and you don’t have to worry about eating the rest of the time. There are all sorts of ways to do IF, and if you do a little research on Google, you’ll find many articles about it. I’m only writing about the way I do it, and how it works for me.
Don’t worry about that saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It probably is! Break + fast = breaking your fast. Breakfast, also known as your first meal of the day, doesn’t have to be eaten early in the day, and it certainly doesn’t need to be pancakes, waffles or whatever you consider “breakfast” foods. As for me, I’m much more likely to include veggies, nuts and other proteins into a mid-day meal than I am a morning meal. In fact, for years (and years and years) my standard daily breakfast was a piece of cinnamon toast- Gluten free bread, butter, and a little cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. Does anyone believe that was my most important meal of the day? It certainly wasn’t my healthiest!
I eat lunch (usually a little after noon), occasionally an afternoon snack, and an early-ish dinner. At first, not eating a late night snack was hard, but that’s just because snacking at night while watching tv is fun! But it’s not necessary. And I’m not like a baby or puppy whose tummy needs to be full to sleep through the night. I’m sleeping at least as good as I was before changing my eating schedule.
The benefits of intermittent fasting for the average person is slightly different (again, you can read all about it online) but for me, here are the benefits I notice as a type 1 diabetic:
I can maintain a very steady blood sugar the longer I go without food… therefore, going a solid 16 hours without eating, I don’t have to worry about the effects food will have on my blood sugar. That’s over half the day. And that’s a good thing for my blood sugar average, and therefore my a1C.
I save time in the morning not having to deal with making and eating breakfast. I no longer concern myself with how my morning shot of fast acting insulin is going to effect my workout. Now, I don’t take any fast acting insulin until right before lunchtime.
Even though I’m not trying to, I end up consuming less calories. And it’s mainly empty calories that have fallen by the wayside… My morning toast and evening snacks were never anything that packed in a lot of nutrients anyway!
Occasionally, I wake up in the morning with my blood sugar a little lower than I like it before my morning workout. Obviously, if that happens, I eat to take care of that. I find I usually don’t need more than about 5-7 grams of carbs since I don’t have any short acting insulin in the morning.
With intermittent fasting, you’re not necessarily reducing the amount of food you eat each day, just the scheduling of when you eat it. And if you’re like me, you might see good results without making much of a change.
As a reminder, I’m not a doctor, nurse, or a nutritionist. I am just a person with type 1 diabetes that is trying to live my healthiest life and when I stumbled upon things that work well FOR ME, I like to talk about them. Everyone is different, and different approaches work for different people. Always consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet.
Having T1 diabetes has certainly never stopped me from traveling anywhere I’ve ever wanted to go. But it probably slows down my speed of packing my bag and getting myself out the door.
Tomorrow my husband, my two dogs and I leave on a road trip to Colorado. We’re driving the 12 hours rather than flying, so we can take our dogs, a.k.a The Ricardo’s, a.k.a. Lucy and Ricky. Although I’m not necessarily stoked about the long drive, it will be totally worth it to have them there with us.
Because the daily plans will look something like this:
And those are Lucy and Ricky’s favorite past times… and pretty much, mine too!
Typically, I do best not taking ANY insulin (other than the long acting Tresiba I have floating around in me 24 hours a day) before exercise. So on a normal day, when I’m at home, I do my main walk, run, yoga, or any other workout I do first thing in the morning before taking any insulin. I generally have a steady blood sugar of around 90 mg/dL in the morning, and although it starts to go up when I start my day (adrenaline? I’m not sure what it is that spikes it, but as soon as I get out of bed and put clothes on, it starts rising about 30-50 mg/dL). It’s kind of perfect, because as I exercise over the next hour or so upon waking, my blood sugar starts to fall. By the time I’m done, it’s (hopefully) around 80 mg/dL. If it drops a little too much, I grab a piece of fruit, or Mentos candy if I’m not near something more nutritional.
But I know on this trip, I’ll be hiking more often, and most likely at various times of day. Which means…
I need to remember not only to pack candy, but I’m going to have to be wearing my fanny pack looking like a dork so that I always have it with me. And I am going to try hard to always think it through before injecting my insulin pre-meal, “Will I be hiking within the next couple of hours? How active am I going to be?” Because I HATE having to eat sugar (or anything honestly) when I’m not at all hungry, but instead, just fighting a low. And inconveniencing whoever I’m with…
We’ll be meeting up with both my brother and sister, and although they know I have diabetes, they don’t really have to deal with it, and never have. So I hope I don’t slow us all down with the lows I’ll more than likely have to battle from time to time.
Whenever I travel, I bring about double the amount of everything diabetes related I might need- insulin, test strips, candy, etc. I make sure I have all my Dexcom supplies, and I bring a fresh sensor in case my current one loses it’s steam while I’m on the road. I check and recheck, because what a nightmare it would be if I forgot something I have to have.
Whenever my husband and I pack for vacations and are trying to figure out if we’ve forgotten anything– like sunscreen, phone chargers, underwear, etc– we always sigh and so, “Oh well, we’re not going to a third world country. If we’ve forgotten something we can just buy it.” This does not apply however, to my Dexcom, my insulin, glucometer and test strips. Although maybe I could buy those things, it would be ridiculous, and loads of trouble insurance wise.
So I spend maybe an extra 10-15 minutes packing for a trip because I have diabetes and I always need to be prepared. Not a big deal. And just like bringing the Ricardos on this upcoming adventure, SO WORTH IT.
Because I was out of town, and then in a training class the week I returned from vacation, I’m late to the game of “Diabetes Blog Week”. I didn’t realize it was going on until I visited a few blogs I follow just last night.
This is my first year to participate, because, well, it’s the first year I actually have a blog about diabetes! I’m so excited to participate and write about the remaining topics of the week.
So, here we go!
Language and Diabetes. 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.
There are very few words that offend me. And personally, whether someone wants to refer to me as a “diabetic” or “a person with diabetes”- I totally don’t care. I prefer the word NOT be pronounced like this though: “die-a-BEET-us”. But does it offend me? Not at all.
The only “language” that sometimes frustrates me in my world of diabetes, is that although Type 1 and Type 2 have so many major differences, they are both referred to as diabetes. I feel a little ridiculous clarifying and saying “I have TYPE 1 diabetes”, however the distinction seems necessary. I wish there were just two completely different words for the two conditions. I don’t at all expect people to know all about my disease, but often times, they mistakenly think they know more than they do. I guess that’s because Type 2 diabetes is so prevalent. (about 95% of people with diabetes have Type 2)
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease. I got it in my early 20s. I cannot reverse it, or make it go into “remission” by changing my diet and exercising more. And actually, I do look like someone with diabetes. Trust me. And yes, I have to take shots (or be on a pump) because my body mistakenly attacked my cells that produce insulin. If I want to live, I need insulin, and I need to take synthetic insulin since my body doesn’t make it’s own. But no, I don’t think of Type 1 diabetes as “the bad kind”.
That’s it. That’s my only beef with the language around diabetes. I think, as a rule, each disease should get it’s own, distinct name.