Archive for August, 2010

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The incredible invisible illness

August 26, 2010

In honor of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, Karen did a meme on her blog, so I thought I’d chime in as well!

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

1. The illness I live with is: type 1 diabetes

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1993. May 29, to be exact.

3. But I had symptoms since: a month or two prior. My mom caught it because I mentioned to her that I was having symptoms like Stacey in the Baby-Sitters Club. She scolded me and told me not to say stuff like that, but it prompted her to watch me closely. At diagnosis, my bg was 327, which was way lower than what some others are diagnosed at.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: having a manual pancreas.

5. Most people assume: that I ate too much sugar as a kid. Not true, actually.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: waking up to a high bg, or being tired from stalking wandering bg’s all night.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: House, MD. Hugh Laurie…man!

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: medically, my CGM (and by default, my OmniPod). Otherwise, it would most likely be my iPhone.

9. The hardest part about nights are: making sure I’m in range and pod sufficiently filled with insulin before going to bed.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) 1 allergy pill, 1 birth control pill, 1 ACE inhibitor (not because of high bp, but for renal protection).

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: laugh and sorta roll my eyes. I’m all for praying for a cure, but in the end, God has given me the tools to take care of myself while I wait.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: invisible, for sure, although sometimes I think I’m more visible than I’d like to be with various robot parts peeking out of clothes.

13. Regarding working and career: I try to not let it get in the way of work. Sometimes I need to take a few minutes to test and treat, but for the most part I keep calm and carry on.

14. People would be surprised to know: that I hardly get burned out with this disease (I have though, and it was depressing not having anyone to talk to). I know each day is a new day, and each bg is just another picture in the album of life.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: that it really isn’t a new reality. It’s been part of me for so long that testing my bg and bolusing before each snack or meal is completely normal.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: be okay. Be healthy. You hear all these horror stories about diabetes, and if it wasn’t for my stubborn nature, I’d definitely be one of those people who are too scared to test for fear of seeing a high number.

17. The commercials about my illness: piss me off. Not all diabetics have horrible control and will have amputated limbs.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: uhh…I can’t even remember what life was like before orange-capped syringes and painful fingersticks. On second thought, I kinda miss when my dad used to bring me lunch at school every day (carefully balanced, of course).

19. It was really hard to have to give up: being able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: reading d-blogs!

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: be verrrrry weirded out. At this point, my definition of “normal” is pretty different from someone who does not have diabetes.

22. My illness has taught me: that I am stronger than I thought I could ever be. I haven’t let this get me down, and I don’t plan on letting it.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: any ignorant comment really, but as of right now it’s “What the heck is THAT on your arm?!”

24. But I love it when people: ask me questions about diabetes, because it shows me that they really are interested in learning and not just assuming.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “If God puts you through it, He’ll get you through it” and “Keep calm and carry on.”

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: don’t sweat it. You’ll be fine (and then introduce them to the DOC).

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: there are SO MANY of us out there.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: run across the street to get juice for me (and please ignore the fact I didn’t have anything on me, haha).

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: even though we have an invisible illness, we as people are very visible. We’re not just a statistic.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: happy! :)

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Your friendly neighborhood barista

August 24, 2010

I stop by Starbucks every morning on my way to work. It’s literally a block away from the office, so it’s been my go-to place for the past few months (I’ve even mayor of it on Foursquare, much to my friend Steph’s amusement– she’s trying to oust me, the nerve!). Every morning, I’m greeted by theeeee friendliest baristas ever. They greet me with, “Hey Faye…your usual?”

Since summer began, Starbucks has been giving out their very tempting treat receipts: buy a drink before 2pm, and you can buy a grande cold drink after 2pm for $2 (plus tax). Of course, this also marks that time of day where I’m squirming at my desk, trying to fight off the food coma from lunch. Perfect afternoon break!

One day, I noticed that familiar feeling of “I’m going to be low soon so I should get something.” Steph and I headed over, and I ordered a passion tea lemonade.

R, one of my favorites, made my drink, and as he was about to slide it across the counter to me, he stopped and said, “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“What’s that on your arm?”

I looked at the back of my left arm and saw my pod peeking out from under my sleeve.

“Oh, it’s my insulin pump.” I turned to give him a better look.

“Oh, you’re diabetic? Wait…I made your drink sweetened. Is that okay for you? Do you want me to make another one with no syrup?”

I was truly touched at his genuine concern (and thankful he wasn’t one of those darn food police Storm Troopers) and assured him it was okay. I explained my bg was dropping and that I needed something to kick it back up. He, in turn, explained that he has a family history of diabetes and that he was getting regular check ups to make sure everything was okay. I commended him for staying on top of things, since most people don’t.

I left Starbucks feeling hopeful that not everyone out there will see my pod and say, “What the heck is THAT on your arm?!” (To which I want to respond, “What the heck is THAT coming out of your head? Oh, it’s your face.”) Or those who see my pod and say, “Wow, is that a nicotine patch?” (Um, not sure what kind of patches you’re using but that is a helluva lot of nicotine.) I love telling people about type 1 diabetes, but if you’re going to come at me with really dumb comments, it’s really hard for me to not be sarcastic.

Cheers to those who are curious and inquire in a respectful manner!

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The choice is obvious

August 22, 2010

Last night, I was going through the case in my purse that holds all my beetus gear. Lo and behold, I found my glucagon kit eight months expired. Uh, oops…I’ll get on that at my next endo visit.

Since I’ve thankfully never had to use one of these, an expired kit meant I finally get to see what’s inside! I cleared off a space on my desk and got to work.

First, I popped open the vial of glucagon powder. It was a little harder to open than an insulin vial but it made that same satisfying snap.

Next, I removed the needle from the case and uncapped it…only to be greeted by this thing:

WTF. For crying out loud, why is the needle so damn big?!

After figuring out how the kit worked and marveling at the crazy bubbles coming back into the syringe, I posted my shock of the needle on Facebook and Twitter. Mike called it a harpoon, and he isn’t too far off the mark. I wouldn’t want someone coming at me with that, so I’m glad I’m [supposed to be] unconscious when this is used on me.

I had a completely different response on Facebook, and one of the comments made by a friend got to me: “I don’t know how you could do that!” It irks me, as it’s along the lines of “I could NEVER inject myself multiple times a day!” Well, let me ask…

If you were given a choice between daily insulin injections or death, which would you pick?

I know it’s a little extreme to put it that way, but not taking your daily injections/medication can and will lead to your untimely demise. It’s not easy having to prick my fingers multiple times a day and be hooked up to various pieces of technology that monitor my blood sugar and control my insulin. It’s not sexy, it’s not convenient, and it’s definitely not something I prefer. But do I have a choice? Sure I do, but the choice is pretty obvious to me: test, treat, inject/pump, make sure everything is on track. Rinse, lather, repeat. It’s become so much a part of my life that I don’t even think twice about doing it. I just do what is needed in order to not just live, but to live a healthy, and hopefully long, life.

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Pathway to the Ping

August 15, 2010

July marks the beginning of a new insurance year.

This year, my co-pay for a visit to my doctor increases (from $25 to $30 for a specialist, from $20 to $25 for my PCP).

This year, my portion of the payment for durable medical equipment DOUBLES (coverage by my employer goes from 90% to 80%). Considering how much OmniPod supplies are, this is definitely not something I can afford.

Last year, I wrote about my experiences with wanting to switch to the Animas Ping, due to the amount of insulin I lost if a pod malfunctioned. I think I fell off the blogging bandwagon, because I never followed up. To make a long story short, my insurance company denied my appeal saying I was still under warranty and that Insulet should be replacing my pods. Not what I was arguing, but okay. I decided to give it a rest and just look for a new pump when my warranty expires in 2012.

However, due to this massive increase in my co-insurance for DME, I decided to try for the Ping again. The cost of supplies on my part will be way cheaper and easier for Chris and me to afford (keep in mind I’m the only one working a full-time job while Chris is in pharmacy school full time. We’re not exactly rollin’ in dough, haha).

An Animas rep called me back the day after I faxed over my paperwork. He said he had seen my paperwork from last year, and I explained what happened and what I was trying to do. Then he said, “So I guess you want to do AAP, right? It doesn’t go through your insurance.” Obviously I was confused and didn’t know what AAP was…

He explained– and apparently for me, the pump gods and the stars were aligned. It’s the Animas Access Program, and it lets you trade in your current pump for a recertified Ping for $200! Well, you pay $900 up front, and upon receipt of your current pump, Animas gives you $700 back. Oops, wrong info! You actually pay $200 up front, and if don’t send your current pump to Animas within 20 days of training, you’ll be billed $700. The warranty on your current pump also carries over (you’re covered for at least 2 years on the Ping, even if your current warranty is that long). Sounds like a pretty good deal to me! Insurance doesn’t pay for anything, and I get a “new” pump for $200!

My first reaction was “Why didn’t anyone tell me this last year?!” Turns out it’s only available during certain times (of the year, of the decade, I don’t know).

After talking over it with Chris (and asking him to do some research, because I was still in that “this sounds too good to be true” mindset), we agreed that we should push forward with this. My other option was to go back on MDI if I was denied again, but it looks like I won’t have to.

A pump consultant will be contacting me on Monday to go over next steps and what I need to do. I’ve already called my endo’s office to give them a heads up that a certification of medical necessity is needed soon. I know my endo is very on board with me switching pumps, given the issues I was encountering before, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up in case something falls through, but I’m VERY excited!