(Note: you need to be a member of ideeli to view their sales. Click here if you need an invite code.)
The current Amrita Singh flash sale going down over at ideeli has plenty of cosmetics cases that would work as supply bags… but that’s not what I’m psyched about. At this point, I have plenty of bags of vaguely the same size and shape that I know I can cram my D-supplies into when I’m traveling. I’m more excited about getting some new and different form factors into my rotation so that I can use space more efficiently and have a backup insulin pen case that feels just a bit more sexy. The case over on the left is actually meant to hold… wait for it… bangles! Hence, its name: the Beijing Bangle Case.
It’s pretty huge at 12″ long and 5″ wide, but I think it looks like the perfect thing for taking on a weekend trip and to stash all of my stuff the top of a roller carry-on instead of having to dig around in the bottom of the suitcase trying to figure out where I put what.
The other thing I fell in love with from this sale is the jewelry roll pictured below. Jewelry rolls used to be my go to for carrying insulin pens if I was going out for the night because they pad them pretty well and make sure you don’t have to go fishing in the bottom of your purse in a dimly lit place. I don’t carry them as much anymore now that I’ve switched to a pump, but a certain series of mishaps last week has me thinking about using one to keep a number of backup syringes on me for those times when I have to steal insulin from my reservoir after my tubing has an unfortunate run-in with a door knob.
A few months back, I wrote about my fantasy diabetes device for Diabetes Blog Week, and it looks like the Diabetes Gods were listening. The Dexcom G4 Platinum was granted FDA approval on October 5th, marking another step toward the day when our CGMs are tiny, accurate, and integrated with our insulin pumps.
The images released of the G4 so far make it look more like an MP3 player rather than a smooshed easter egg like the Seven+. To me, this is yet another step toward making our diabetes tech “invisible” to those folks not in the know.
Between the G4 and Tandem’s new t:slim pump (which, if you haven’t seen it, looks like you’re plugging an iPhone into your stomach), I think we’re heading into an era where device manufacturers are realizing that we need devices that blend into our everyday lives. We need devices that we don’t have to be self conscious about pulling out at the dinner table on a first date. We need devices that fit in the pockets of girl-jeans. We need devices that don’t disrupt everything else that we have going on in our lives, because those are the devices that will actually get used and that will actually make a difference in treatment behaviors and “patient outcomes.”
And you know how that has me feeling?
Or are you just carrying a circa 1985 pager?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Animas Ping, but there are definitely times when I wish there was a little less of it to love.
Everyone who I work with directly knows that I have diabetes. I’ve never had any urge to hide it, and even if I wanted to, I think it would be nearly impossible considering the ridiculously long hours I work with these people. All the same, I’d rather not broadcast my ‘beetus to everyone else I run into in the course of the work day.
This is where Strategic Pump Placement ™ should come in. I am a master of securing my pump to the inside of the waist bands of skirts, smuggling it in my bra and occasionally hiding it in a sock and running the tubing through the leg of my pants a la Kerri at Six Until Me. The problem with all of these places? Access. I know my Ping has a remote, and when my pump is stashed somewhere stealthy because I’m wearing a “date-night” dress, I make good use of it.
But when I’m facing a major project at the office? When I’m on hour number 10 of what will probably end up being 20 hours of solid work? When I haven’t seen my own office since sometime before lunch because I’ve been in one meeting after another and it’s now well after dinnertime? On days like that I need to be able to deal with the device that’s attached to me and not the one I forgot back on my desk, preferably without fishing around in my shirt.
So what’s a girl to do? At a certain point, I decided that having the occasional coworker or client comment on me “wearing a blackberry like the IT guy!” is far better than looking like I’m feeling myself up in a meeting or suffering from a severe case of disco boobs.
UPDATE: Some of the colors have sold out on Rue La La (such is the sadness of flash sales) but I tracked it down on Amazon in Very Berry Paisley, Rhythm and Blues, Lemon Parfait, and my personal favorite, Folkloric.
I’ve mentioned before that I love Vera Bradley bags and accessories for my diabetes supplies. They’re fashionable, practical, and somehow always seem to be the perfect size for meters, pens, vials and whatever else I’m carrying to keep myself alive.
So imagine my glee when I saw that one of my favorite flash sale sites, Rue La La, is having a sale not just on Vera Bradley accessories, but on the one bag that has completely changed the way I travel: the Tech Organizer. (Note: you need to be a member of Rue La La to view their sales. Click here if you need an invite code.)
Originally intended as an organizer for all the crap that goes with your laptop (power cords, flash drives, chargers, that spare mouse you carry because you’re completely terrible at using the touch pad to do anything besides surf the internet) this bag has mesh pockets galor that make for easy packing.
One of the best things about this bag is that it opens like a book with all of your stuff displayed flat on either side. It makes for super easy set changes when you’re traveling to be able to just flip this guy open on the hotel desk and just have everything right there that normally lives in the drawer in your kitchen that you’ve commandeered for your supplies. (Wait, is that just me? Does anyone else have a ‘beetus drawer instead of a silverware drawer?)
Today’s Rue La La sale has it in some lovely patterns like Folkloric and Viva La Vera (again, click here if you need an invite code before viewing) that kick the crap out of the boring black that everything that’s actually designed fore diabetes supplies seems to come in.
Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September. The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”. Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes. Have more than one thing you wish people knew? Go ahead and tell us everything.
I think the hardest thing for the Type 3s in my life to understand is that the mechanical aspects of this disease aren’t what get me down. It’s the lack of control over things that I never thought I’d lose with my diagnosis.
They all seemed to think that adjusting to shots and testing and the ins and outs of highs and lows would be the rough part. I can hear their refrain in my head, and it sometimes makes me want to snap:
“Oh, you’re so brave! I could never give myself shots!”
You get over the whole “needles” thing pretty quickly. No, seriously. The insulin I have to take for the rest of my life has to get into my body somehow, and even as someone who is terrified of needles, I’m mostly over it. It’s pretty easy when you think about what your choices with diabetes are: take the dang shot or die. Bam. Done.
It’s the other ways that diabetes eats away at your former life that are much harder to get used to.
Before my insulin pump, I could just throw on a dress if I felt like wearing a dress and not worry about where my pump was going to go. Before constantly having to have supplies with me, I almost never carried a purse. My fingertips were uncalloused, my stomach wasn’t covered in tiny infusion site scars, and my body felt like it belonged to me. Now there are so many aspects of my life that are driven not by my heart or my brain, but by my busted-ass pancreas.
There are days when I don’t wear my pump or my Dex, despite the fact that I know on a rational level that they help with my management, because I need a day where my body feels like a body and not like a cyborg. Please don’t judge me or scold me. Just let me have my body feel like my own for a day. There are times when I don’t want to test and dose before I eat, and I promise that I’ll get to it as soon as I finish this slice of pizza. Please don’t treat me like a child because I know what I need to do. It’s the same basic decision.
Today let’s tackle an idea inspired by Bennet of Your Diabetes May Vary. Tell us what your Fantasy Diabetes Device would be? Think of your dream blood glucose checker, delivery system for insulin or other meds, magic carb counter, etc etc etc. The sky is the limit – what would you love to see?
I’m assuming it would be outside the spirit of the prompt to ask for a magic pancreas repair pill or something else that would obliterate my diabetes instead of helping me to cope with it. That’s really too bad, because I think that a DeBeetusing Ray Gun (a la Dr. Horrible’s Freeze Ray) would be just about the most bad ass diabetes device ever.
In all seriousness though, if this device has to be an at least semi-realistic fantasy, I’d go for a souped up version of my current favorite tool: Dex.
My Dexcom is fantastic. I love having a constant stream of numbers and warnings when I’m trending up or down too quickly, but it’s not ideal. It’s clunky, shaped like an egg, and the transmitter (which usually lives on the back of one of my arms) peels in the summer and itches in the winter.
My fantasy Dex upgrade would have the sensor and a tiny transmitter implanted under the skin that wouldn’t have to be changed out once a week. The receiver would be the size of my badge for work, sort of like a credit card but thicker, with a screen that lights up with a touch of a button and that charges on one of those induction charging pads.
It would fit in the pockets of girl pants.
And it would come in pink.
I have some serious baggage.
Not in the emotional sense (though as yesterday’s post implies, there’s probably plenty of that, too), but in the literal sense: between type 1 diabetes and autoimmune arthritis, the sheer volume of “stuff” that I have to carry every day is staggering. Insulin pump tubing, reservoirs, and infusion sets; insulin vials; insulin pens just in case my pump dies; extra medication in case I get stuck working an all-nighter; a glucose meter, strips, and lancet; and to top it all off back-up EVERYTHING. It gets to be a bit much.
When I first started carrying all that, I was convinced that I needed some sort of specialty bag… something that was “made for people with diabetes!” Since then, I’ve realized that there are a multitude of bags, cases and compartments that have the form factor and level of protection that I need for my medical supplies while still being something that I’d be happy to carry pre-broken pancreas.
My personal solution involves a number of small bags. By using bags that come in different colors and designs, it’s easier to snag exactly what you need out of your purse without fishing around and eventually getting so annoyed that you pour everything out on the table in the middle of the restaurant.
Kate Spade New York Daycation Coin Purse
The current fave is the Kate Spade New York Daycation Coin Purse which, at 3.5″ high x 5.5″ wide, won’t fit everything but is great for compartmentalizing all of the little stuff. I find that one can easily hold my glucose meter, a vial of test strips and my Delica lancer. All of my testing supplies in a case that’s easy to locate even in a dark movie theater using only the light from my phone? Yes, please.
Vera Bradley Slim Case
For something a little better suited to carrying things like syringes, insulin pens and vials, the Vera Bradley Slim Case in Lemon Parfait is about as cute and practical as you can hope for. My current record for amount of stuff crammed into one of these includes: two syringes, a vial, 3 tampons, lipgloss and one of those tiny pencils that they have at Ikea. If “Lemon Parfait” isn’t your thing, it also comes in Folkloric, and Blue Lagoon.
Wednesday’s Prompt for Diabetes Blog Week: Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at. Today let’s look at the flip-side. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!
My biggest shortcoming when it comes to my diabetes is something that I have no idea of how to improve with anything besides the passage of time. This is going to be a hard post for me to write, so I guess I’ll try to start at the beginning.
I’m scared of needles. Really, really scared of needles.
I don’t know when my fear of needles grew into a full on phobia, but it was sometime between the age of 5 when I first remember being completely terrified but also completely fascinated the first time I had blood drawn, and age 11 when it took two nurses to hold me to get me to stop violently shaking long enough to get a tetanus shot. I was not diabetic at that point, that would come over 10 years later. Maybe if I was, I would have grown out of the shaking, crying and occasional vomiting that went along the threat of needles.
When I was first diagnosed in my 20s, the ER sent me home without any real instructions as I already had an endocrinologist (for a thyroid problem) who could see me the next day. It was sitting in his office that I gave myself my first shot. It took about 2 hours of my very sweet doctor and his no-nonsense nurse playing good cop/bad cop between seeing other patients before I finally got up the nerve to push the pen needle into my stomach by myself. I threw up immediately after and then sat and cried in my car for another hour before being able to drive home.
I could not cope.
I restricted food to avoid having to take insulin. I shut myself in the bathroom at work at lunch time so that I could cry for the requisite 30 minutes before every shot. I began creating bizarre and complicated sets of rules that dictated when I could eat and what I had to do before each injection. For a while, I was blowing through insulin because I insisted on sending off a 10 unit “test fire” into the air every time I injected *just to make sure* nothing was clogged, as insufficient delivery would mean another shot later.
Very, very slowly my rituals shifted into more normal routines, my A1c started creeping down, and within about 6 months of my diagnosis, I stopped crying with every injection. I hadn’t conquered my fear of needles, but I had learned to live with it and figured out how to manage it so that it didn’t interfere with the treatment of my diabetes.
And now for my current problem: infusion sets.
A few months ago, I switched from MDI to an insulin pump. I know what you’re thinking: “Doesn’t this make it much easier? Now you only have to do 1 infusion set insertion every 2-3 days instead of upwards of 6 shots a day!” That was my hope as well, but the thing that eventually made injections manageable for me was the level of control that I had. Being able to tell if a particular injection site hurt more than usual meant that I could move the needle before I’d pushed it all the way in. With my insulin pen, I’d eventually switched to much shorter needles that seemed to work better with my pretty limited body fat AND didn’t terrify me quite so much. Pushing the needle into my skin involved a weird sort of mental bartering where I’d promise myself certain things in exchange for handling the injection well. Now, a spring-loaded set handles everything for me.
The first time I used an Inset 30 was during my training session with an awesome pump trainer, and under her guidance, I handled it like a pro. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, that thing was in me in under 5 seconds and I didn’t cry, barf or shake. On some level, I convinced myself that not really seeing the needle before it went in was what made the difference. Now, I’m pretty convinced that it was just the adrenaline. Every subsequent infusion set change has involved the same physical reaction as my early shots, and the consequence is that some times I just can’t handle putting it back on and instead switch to shots for a few days.
I know that the pump helps my control. I have incredibly variable basal needs over the course of the day, and my pump is the only way that I can manage those. I have better control, my A1c is better, and my day-to-day routine is so much more manageable when I’m wearing my pump.
I need to get better about site changes, and actually putting my pump back on when it’s time to change a set. I need to get better about not switching back to shots out of fear or leaving myself disconnected for “just a couple hours” or just changing my reservoir while i leave in a site for days until it’s completely dead and surrounded by scar tissue.
I need to figure out how to ask for help with this.
Tuesday’s prompt for Diabetes Blog Week: “Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”. But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit. Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly! Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes. Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!”
Like a lot of the folks whose posts I’m reading today, I had a hard time figuring out what I could possibly write about for this prompt. There are a million things floating around my head for tomorrow’s post–the string of site failures I’ve had this month, taking care of my eyeballs, the ENTIRE DAYS when I do not test and just sort of wing it–but I think it’s always easier to criticize ourselves than to do what might feel like bragging. Finally, running out of time and lacking an idea, I thought back to all of the diabetes moments that I’m actually kinda proud of, and found one common thread: I was a huge diabitch. (You can also say it dia-beyotch if you’re feeling feisty.)
I don’t mean that I get cranky when my blood glucose is off the charts, or that I can’t handle my A1c disappointments like a big girl. I really don’t mean it in a negative way at all. Most of the time I’m a very polite person, but when it comes to my health, my inner diabitch comes out whenever she needs to lay the smackdown. Being appropriately diabitchy is the one thing I do best when it comes to making sure that I’m taking care of myself and acting in my own best interest even if that puts me in the sorts of confrontational situations that “ladies” generally don’t engage in.
When I’m “being my own advocate”, I self-advocate HARD.
Pump coordinator telling me that I’m “not allowed” to start a pump and CGM at the same time? Time to diabitch out and go over her head to get my personal robo-pancreas party started.
Hospital nurse* saying that I’m “too skinny to have the ‘bad kind’ of diabetes” and attempting to give me an insulin shot that would have killed me based on SOMEONE ELSE’S correction factor? Cranking the diabitch knob to 11, refusing the shot, and demanding to see a doctor before anyone else can give me anything.
Pharmacist insisting that he can only give me one vial of Novolog for the month based on my prescription? This diabitch is going to show him how to do some basic math. (Units in vial)/(TDD) = an apology, the right number of vials and one of those CVS branded glucose meters thrown in for free as a peace offering.
I’m kinda like the Hulk with a busted pancreas and fewer destroyed clothes.
* To all my nurse buddies- I have only love for you, but this woman was completely terrible.
Medical Alert Bracelets.
They’re big, they’re clunky, they alert everyone within a 3 restaurant table radius of you that there is “something wrong,” and they’re completely necessary. Thankfully, only the last statement is true. It may take a little extra hunting, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can get your hands on a non-tacky, non-obtrusive medical alert bracelet without too much fuss.
I first came across these bad boys when I was looking for an alert bracelet to wear while running. Since then, the Wrist ID Slim has become my every day alert bracelet. The Slim is clean and modern looking, and I’ve actually had a number of people compliment me on my “watch” while wearing this one. This one is about as far as you can get from typical medical alert jewelry while still alerting EMTs that your name is Jane, you have seizures and they should call your sister.
Etsy is my go to for things that I’m not talented enough to make myself, and there are a number of classier alternatives to alert bracelets as well. These tend to hold a lot less information than something like a Road ID (you’re almost definitely going to have to carry an info card in your wallet), but they’re more feminine and are easier to pass as regular jewelry. In addition to the stamped copper one shown above (available here from JetSilverBeads on Etsy), you can find cuffs in sterling silver, aluminum, or whatever else happens to be in the Etsy marketplace on a given day.
Stash Everywhere Bands
As one of those obnoxiously over-prepared diabetics (what, you mean you don’t carry 2 spare infusion sets at all times?) I’ve learned to stash certain supplies everywhere so that I always have them if I need them. And since I’ve found these little guys, I’m the same way about alert bracelets:
These Diabetic Medical Alert Silicone Bands actually come in a 10 pack, so I have a couple at the office, one in my gym bag, and a few more at home that my cat has claimed as the best toys ever. True, they don’t have all of the info that I’d like to have on a bracelet, but if I’ve forgotten or lost my main one, it’s nice to have a bright yellow marker on my wrist that tells the EMTs to check my sugs while leaving everyone else think that I’ve donated a dollar to some cause or another.