Sticky Stuff

Is it coming unstuck?

That’s the million dollar question that plagues me through the day. I often find myself prodding my arm, just to make sure that my FreeStyle Libre sensor is still there.

It’s pretty hard to tell whether that sensor is coming unstuck once those edges begin to fray. Sometimes it really is coming unstuck, while other times the edges are frayed but the adhesive game underneath the sensor is still going strong.

The warmer months of the year have definitely tested my sensors. I remember coming home from work after a warm day and the sensor literally fell off as I got dressed. Thankfully, FreeStyle customer service replaced the sensor for me with no hassles.

Without the security of winter thermals and jumpers, I’ve also found that I’ve got to take A LOT of extra caution not to knock that sensor as I go about my day.

I definitely find that getting the best position on my arm makes a huge difference, both in adhesive power and in sensor accuracy. Ideally I want to pick a flat space on my arm, as far up and out of the way as possible. 

This week, I’ve also been rocking my Rockadex Penguin patch. It’s a sticker that simply sits over the Libre sensor on my arm (or any other Continuous Glucose Monitoring device), holding it into place.


Honestly, it’s a lifesaver, especially during the warmer months of the year while I’m more active. As someone who always opts for the plainest or most invisible of colours, this is really saying something!

Yet what’s even better is the story behind it. Rockadex is an Australian business based in my hometown of Perth. It’s run by the mother of a young child with type 1 diabetes. The patches and diabetes accessories are sold solely for the purpose of funding a young girl’s Continuous Glucose Monitoring costs, which is not currently subsidised here in Australia. Anything more is given away. 

I’ve also splashed out on a silicone case for my Libre reader, which often slips out of my shirt pocket when I bend down.


 They’ve also got a bunch of international distributors for those outside of Australia. 

There’s stickers, patches and accessories available to match almost any diabetes device you might use. At the end of the day, anything that adds a bit of extra excitement to the monotony of diabetes is surely a good thing in my book.

Staycation

I am often asked when my next holiday will be, or if I have any travel plans in the pipeline. As much as I do love going on a holiday, they are equally exhausting by the time I return home. AND they cost money.

I’m not the kind of person who goes on a holiday to sit on the beach. I can easily do that at home. I want to go somewhere that I can explore and sightsee and be a tourist. But that is exhausting in itself. So ideally I’d love an extra week up my sleeve when I return home just to sleep in and catch up with life. But with a full time job, no lotto wins and only four weeks of annual leave, it rarely happens.

Throw diabetes into the mix of work and life, and after a while it feels like you’re just pulling it along, struggling to keep up. It’s monotonous. It’s always there. It never ceases to throw curveballs my way. 

Towards the end of last year, I definitely drew back a fair bit from my blog and from social media. I was feeling a lot of frustration towards my pump, which I’ll write more about soon. I felt like I was venting my diabetes frustrations all the time, without anything of value to say. 

I had a lot of other things going on at home and at work, leaving me with little enthusiasm for much else. It had been ages since I’d binge watched a good TV drama, or even gone to the beach. But I was exhausted.

So, after working through most of December, I decided to take a much needed Staycation. You know, being able to sleep in, make breakfast at 10am, go to the beach, binge on a good TV drama at midday, go to the shops without being in a hurry, stay up late into the night and recharge the batteries. 

First day back at work.

A photo posted by Frank (@franksita) on

 

In the excellent company of Mr Roger Federer tonight at the #HopmanCup.

A photo posted by Frank (@franksita) on

 

 

Today was fun.

A photo posted by Frank (@franksita) on

 

It began with all of this seemingly endless time stretched out in front of me, and before I knew it I was wondering how it could be over so soon. I guess that’s a good thing…

Staycations are awesome. They’re cheap. They’re a good way to charge up the batteries quickly. And they kind of let me catch up to diabetes a little, so that I’m not lagging behind for too long.

Type 1 Writes Diabetes Christmas Gift Guide II

We are less than two weeks out from Christmas, and I am yet to do any Christmas shopping whatsoever. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent hours surfing the net with the intention of finding gift inspiration, only to end up finding a whole bunch of new things for yourself. Not to mention my broken pancreas that leaves me on call 24 hours a day…

These are some of the things on my Christmas list this year. Some are related to diabetes, others not so much, because there’s more to me than just my diabetes.

Clockwise from the top left, here we go…

AlCase 3m Lightning USB Cable. I love this iPhone cable for both it’s length, and speed of charge. At 3m long, it reaches my bedside. It charges 10-20% faster than the standard Apple lightning cable, and is compatible with iPads as well (not all lightning cables are). Diabetes quirk: I always read it as the A1C Case, rather than the Alcase every time I glance at it.

Bonds Besties Shorts. In the heat of the Summer, 100% Cotton shorts are what I’m often wearing around the house. They’re soft, breathable and don’t leave me sweating or sticky when I’m sitting behind my desk or on the couch. Plus, lots of pockets for insulin pumps and diabetes crap.

Target iPhone Folio Case. I very rarely buy phone/tech accessories in the shops, because the prices are just a plain rip off. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find this folio case in Target a few weeks ago for just $8. It’s fairly slim, and has two card slots inside. I like it because it can double as a wallet, and when you’re a guy with diabetes, you really need to maximise as much pocket space as possible!

FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System. I’ve been using the Libre intermittently throughout the year, and it really has provided me with a great deal more convenience and insight into glucose monitoring. Yes, it’s definitely a luxury item, and I’m extremely lucky I’ll be able to wear one during the Christmas season. You can read my initial review here, and my cheat sheet here.

A real Christmas Tree! I must admit I was a little against this idea when we first did it a few years back, but I quickly became a convert. It would be such a cool thing to do with young kids, and I think it’s perfectly suited to Australia’s Summer Christmas. You go to the Christmas Tree Farm, pick your tree, cut it down with a hack saw (they’re fairly easy to cut), and wheel it back to your vehicle. I visit Christmas Trees of Wanneroo in Perth, and judging by the last couple of years, it seems to be growing in popularity.

Dexcom G5 Mobile Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. Although I have never used it, this is definitely on my bucket list for 2017. If you have a compatible mobile device (such as an iPhone) to receive the data, you no longer need to purchase the $650 receiver with your first order. There’s a special offer going at the moment from AMSL Diabetes in Australia that includes a transmitter and 4 sensors for $810. Again, this is definitely a luxury item, but I like the idea of being able to stretch the 7 day sensors to 14 or 21 days.

Gourmet Chocolate Pizza. So, a few years ago, one of my work Mums found this Chocolate Pizza on clearance in Coles after Christmas. It was out of date, and it was the last one left. She bought it into work, and we shared it over our coffee at work one morning. It was honestly one of the best pieces of chocolate I have ever eaten in my life. None of us have ever been able to find it again. I’d love to surprise them with one, but it’s just too expensive to pay the shipping from the UK! One can only dream…

Coffee Club VIP Card. I know, I know, Coffee is a very divisive issue out there in the world (just don’t say Gloria Jeans…) Me and my friend make a pit stop at Coffee Club every morning at work, and the VIP Card gives us 2 coffees for the price of 1. I know most loyalty cards are absolute rubbish, but this one really pays for itself every week, and has turned me into a person who buys a coffee every day.

Merry Christmas, folks, and best of luck to those of you bracing the shops this week!

Skyrocketing Levels

A couple of weeks ago, I hit a bit of a speedbump with my blood sugar levels. I began skyrocketing after almost everything that I ate. It took several correction doses and hours of temp basal rates to get me out of my mess each time.

This is what I would often witness on my Libre after a meal. My levels would simply climb and climb and climb until they reached the high teens.


My first instinct was that my body was responding to changes in my diet. I have been eating less carbs, and more protein, consistently. If I needed proof, the total daily dose of insulin in my pump history was at its lowest, and most consistent amount day to day. I was still suprised, though. To me, the changes weren’t anything radical. I had been bolusing for my protein. I hadn’t cut out carbohydrates completely, nor was I restricting my food intake.

But it seemed that my insulin was a lot less sensitive than it once was.

My first thought was to revisit my basal rates. I was convinced they might need revising upward. Moreso after reading this article, which told me that the “status quo” for people not on high carbohydrate diets was 50% basal and 50% bolus (mine are skewed in favour of bolus insulin). I was convinced that if I fixed that, my mealtime insulin would do its job properly once again. However after going low during two separate basal tests, I conceded that my basal rates were fine.

My levels were still spiking after meals, so my next thought was my insulin to carb ratios. The spikes were absolutely ridiculous, even with lower carbohydrate meals. I adjusted my insulin:carb ratio from 1:10 to 1:6, and lowered my insulin sensitivity factor by the same proportion.

1:6 was quite a scary ratio to use, because I had such big amounts of insulin on board after eating a meal with only 30g of carbohydrates. The potential to go low from after meal activity was amplified, and pump sites would ultimately need more frequent rotation. Thankfully, it became clear that the 1:6 was sending me too low after meals, and I eventually settled on 1:8.

The 1:8 has been working great, and I have learned a few things about food and my blood sugar spikes since. For instance, on the weekend I ate porridge, which I thought was relatively low GI. Apparently the instant, microwaveable kind, is not. Not even close. And despite accurate carb counting, pre bolusing by half an hour, and a waking BG of 7.9, my levels just climbed. 9.2 an hour later, 14.7 after that, and 15.7 after 2 units of correction. Instantly, bells rang in my head as I recalled occurrences of skyrocketing blood sugar levels after Weet-Bix, potatoes and an overripe Banana.

So, yes, it does seem that less carbohydrates has reduced my insulin sensitivity, or increased my sensitivity to glucose. But it also seems that my insulin to carb ratio is less effective when I eat higher GI foods. And perhaps there were also some stress hormones in play a few weeks back, that were contributing to some of those skyrocketing blood sugar levels.

I absolutely hate that diabetes is forever changing. There’s no guarantee that what’s working today, will work again tomorrow. Or in a month. 

But nonetheless, it does feel good to be somewhat in control once again…and a little wiser…