Diabetes Art Day 2012 – Self Portrait

This is my first Diabetes Art Day and I’m pretty excited to be participating!  I’m also excited to check out everyone else’s contributions!

For an explanation of Diabetes Art Day, and the creative mind behind it (the lovely Lee Ann Thill), as well as all the submissions (past and present), you can find the D.A.D. website here.

I meant to make my submission long before today, but had been having trouble wrapping my mind around exactly what I wanted to do.  This morning I woke up with another retinal bleed in my left eye – not a big nasty one with the icky opaque blobbies, but an eyeball full of red streaks that was icky nonetheless.  The mess in my eye gave some clarity to my art project.

When people ask me what it’s like to have a retinal bleed, I ask them to think back to an art project they may have done in grade school.  The one where you get a piece of paper, a straw, and a blob of paint, and you blow through the straw and watch the paint wiggle and streak around the page until you have a stringy, goopy, spidery masterpiece.  That’s kind of what an eye bleed looks like.  They can also come in large opaque blotches, or in translucent mists, but this straw-blown paint type is what I’ve grown most accustomed to.

So, looking at myself in the mirror this morning, with my left eye all stringy, I determined exactly what my art project would be.  It’s more of a downer than I initially wanted to submit, but it’s what I needed to create today.  Here it is:

Self Portrait

** Edit:  I realized I didn’t fully explain my media above.  I used a photograph of myself (that I took) and my daughter’s tempera paint…with the straw-blowing method described above. 

Wordless Wednesday: Red or Green?

It can’t decide what colour to be!

New Pump, Take 2

I still have the box that my new pump was delivered in.  That’s because I really haven’t had it for very long, and I haven’t unpacked all the swag that it came with yet.  (I live in a bit of chaos this days – don’t judge.)  The box says it was delivered on Wednesday, August 22nd.  That’s less than a month ago.

So I wasn’t really expecting this last night:

This morning, after dealing with Medtronic (right or wrong, I put it off until morning) I looked back at Scott’s post on Motor Errors from a few months ago.  It made me think that maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised when this message came up last night.

The woman I spoke with from Medtronic technical support explained to me that a sudden increase in pressure on the piston can cause a Motor Error to display, and often this is just the result of an occlusion or otherwise bad set.  In that respect, it’s similar to the No Delivery error, but is a result of sudden pressure rather than a gradual buildup.  She said that this was most often the reason for the error message, and not an actual problem with the pump itself.  Interestingly, the explanation Scott was given at the time of his Motor Error was slightly different.  I don’t know which is the correct explanation.

Either way, the rep had me run a diagnostic test (the old air-filled-reservoir-with-tubing test).  My pump failed said test.

So I’m getting a new pump tonight.  Or, rather, a new new pump.

Since I bought my first pump in 2007 (this pump is only my second purchased pump), including loaners while malfunctioning pumps were being replaced, the pump arriving via courier tonight will be #8.

This.  Is.  Crazy.

This Sh** Just Got Scary

Something very scary happened to me the other night.  I was woken up by my baby to discover that my bloodsugar was 1.8 mmol/l (32 mg/dl)!

Oh, you thought that was the scary part?  Not so.  Just wait…

Lately I’ve been very tired, due to an unusually restless baby sleeping in a bed about two feet away from me and waking me multiple times every night.  (She was such a good night sleeper, but not lately.  I digress…)  So I’ve been wearing earplugs to sleep.  They let me hear her when she really needs me and tune her out when she doesn’t.  I’ve also been using my short stints of good sleep to sleep extremely soundly.

One drawback to the earplugs and the sound sleep is that I haven’t been noticing my CGM alarms.  My pump is set to vibrate for alarms, and I have it on the waistband of my pajamas up against my belly so I’ll feel it.  (NOT between my boobs!!)  Normally the vibration wakes me.  But lately, between my exhaustion and my earplugs, my husband has been waking me quite often to tell me I’m sleeping through my CGM alarm.

This hasn’t been ideal because it’s meant that my pump has tried to wake me with vibration, then with an alarm, then resorted to waking my husband, who then wakes me.  It gives my bloodsugar time to drop further before I notice a problem – and the CGM already has the (approximately) 15 min. delay, so timeliness leaves something to be desired.  In the past, I actually used to wake up to nypos quite easily, but this has changed with the aforementioned exhaustion.  All in all, timely bloodsugar-related wake-ups are sketchy at best these days.

So when my baby girl woke me up, I realized I was pretty darn low.  My CGM said 2.3 mmol/l  (41 mg/dl), and must have been alarming – which is probably what woke the baby. I wobbled, bleary-eyed, into the bathroom to test and could barely stand up.  When the 1.8 appeared on my meter, I cursed, inhaled seven dextrose tabs (3g carb each) summoned all my energy and dragged myself back to bed .  In a case of bad timing, the baby wanted to eat at this very moment (she’s breastfed).  So I lay in bed and fed her (thank goodness for the side-lying breastfeeding position!), while my husband kept a watchful eye on us.

By the time she was finished, my BG was going up at a reasonable pace (quite quickly, actually), but I tacked on a few crackers with peanut butter for good measure. (Am I the only one who craves peanut butter when I’m low?) It was another 10g of carbs at most.  I was pretty impressed with myself for managing a wicked nypo like that with only 30g of carbs, since I’m just as prone to face-feeding during a nypo as the next PWD.

By breakfast time, I was in the 8s (that’s about 150 mg/dl), which was too high, but really not too bad considering what had happened overnight.  I had my breakfast of high fibre oatmeal/flax/etc. and proceeded to feel hungover.  By mid-morning, though, I was a whopping 17.8 mmol/l (320 mg/dl) – WAY higher than I usually see.

It was at that point (or, rather, after my BG came down to a more reasonable level) that I decided to start logging again to figure out what the hell needed to change in my diabetes management to keep this from ever happening again.

I sat down at my spreadsheet template (because I’m a geek).

I entered in my bloodsugar readings from my meter memory.

I started to enter in my boluses from my pump’s bolus history.

That’s when I saw this:

What the…..??

Something important to know at this point is that I was 8.7 mmol/l (157 mg/dl) when I took this correction bolus during the night.

Something else important to know at this point is that my regular correction for an 8.7 mmol/l should have been about 1 unit.  I would only ever take 7.4 units of insulin at night if I were eating a second supper of about 40g-50g of carbs.

Something else important to know is that I don’t remember taking this bolus.  I do remember fiddling around with my pump – trying to take a smaller bolus or calibrate my sensor or something – but the details are fuzzy.  Thankfully I do have a recollection of doing something or I’d be likely to blame my new pump and would be very afraid to continue wearing it.  But I’m quite sure this was human error.  My error.

Yikes.

I’ve never, in all my 30 years of having diabetes, done something like that before.

Presumably my liver kicked in to bring my bloodsugar up, because I don’t know how 30g of carbs, plus a bowl of oatmeal (with breakfast bolus), would have brought my bloodsugar up to 17.8 otherwise.  So it’s good to know that something was working – since I couldn’t feel the low, feel the vibrating pump, hear the alarming pump, or even think clearly enough to bolus properly.

This mistake has me very freaked out.  Lows like that are so dangerous, and I can only imagine the speed at which I must have been dropping after that whopper of a bolus.  I don’t want to think about what could have happened if the baby didn’t wake me.  Do I owe my life to her already…?

The question is, how do I keep from repeating this mistake?  My pump’s Max Bolus had been set to 12 units, and since this mistake it has been changed to 6 units.  If I ever want a bigger bolus than that, I’ll do it in two parts.  Also, I no longer wear earplugs to sleep.  I’d rather have a restless sleep than continue to sleep through my CGM alarm.  And I’ll be wearing a CGM 24/7 for the foreseeable future – at least until I’m less exhausted and easier to wake.  (Funny how even an unusual breath from my baby can wake me, yet a beeping pump won’t.)

Beyond that, I’m not sure what to do.  Will I do it again…?  I’m crossing my fingers that this was both the first and last time, because that was just way too scary.

Wordless Wednesday: Rough Night

Unexplained highs…3 set changes…default to syringe…then low. Whee!

Wordless Wednesday: Awkward Toys

I’d like to know the story behind this.

Making a Pump Purchase – And the Winner is….

…The Medtronic Paradigm VEO!

(See here for the back-story.)

Ultimately, after hearing stories from both sides (i.e. Medtronic users and Animas users), I realized three things:

  1. No model of pump is free from issues.  Maybe my issues have been a bit extreme, but  any device that is expected to function 24/7 and is subjected to as many bumps, drops and general-life-related incidents is going to malfunction from time to time.  The fact that it’s a life-saving device means those malfunctions are a bigger deal, but they’re still going to happen.  It sucks, but it’s true.
  2. Customer service is an important factor to consider when making a pump-purchase decision.  The purchase itself isn’t likely the last you’ll be dealing with the pump company – especially given the possibility of the above-noted malfunctions.
  3. I need CGMS capabilities far more than I need to be able to swim tethered.  Also, in light of the fact that I’m currently breastfeeding, exhausted and caring for two small children (who I can’t yet rely on for a 911 call if needed), I’m not really in a position to wait for Dexcom to come to Canada.  I need CGMS now.

So that’s that.  Order’s in, and I should have my new pump this week.  I’m kind of excited!  🙂