Sunday, January 30, 2011

A sobering reminder of what we are dealing with

6 people with T1D lost their lives this week.  None of them were old, decrepit, or ready to go.  One was only 18 months old, and died because the health care system failed and did not properly diagnose the disease until it was too late.

Two were only 16.  One passed away while taking a nap.  One was only 24, and the mother of two children.  I think the one that tugs at me most, however, was the 9 year old girl from France who had come to the end of her rope with diabetes, and took her own life.  One of the biggest "side effects" of a life long illness is depression, and yes, even children can become clinically, desperately depressed.

This week has been cold-central in our house, starting with Youngest who brought his virulent germs home and infected the rest of us.  Luckily, it was just a cold and not something more serious like the violent stomach bug that has been going around the country.  I say that not only because "violent stomach bug" is something of which nightmares are made, but because that simple cold, you know the one, with the sniffles and slight cough?  That one has had Middle's numbers hovering around 300 for days, despite the volume of insulin we pump into him.  We have doubled the amount he normally gets, and were delighted when he finally came down under 200.  (he is back at 247 this morning, so we are not out of the woods yet).  It gives my germaphobe self some reassurance that I need to be over protective, and not let Middle do things like sleep over at the zoo when the stomach flu is going around. (Remember my debate with myself from last spring? Glad I chose the way I chose!)

We were warned that illness can cause havoc with blood sugars, and holy moly, were they right.  The deaths this week snap me back from any complacency I may have been in, to realize that it could happen to us.  I hope, and I pray, that it will not, and it is easy to say "Oh, it's just diabetes" and brush it off because we hear the word so often, and we know so many people have it. 

But it is deadly.  Type 1 Diabetes can strike anyone, at any age, and the results can be fatal.  Parents reading this, KNOW THE SIGNS.  Diabetes can be 'brushed off' as any other bug, such as the flu, when a simple blood test will give you the answers you need before it is too late.  If you, or your child, experiences any of these symptoms, have a doctor do a blood-glucose reading.  It takes only a moment, and can mean the difference between life and death.  Matt had only 4 of the symptoms, so you do not need to have ALL of them. If you have more than one, please get checked.

Warning signs of type 1 diabetes (these may occur suddenly):
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sugar in urine
  • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Drowsiness, lethargy
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Stupor, unconsciousness

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Product review - The Honda Insight, 2011

The beast's tail end met the front end of another car a while back, and so the beast has been 'hospitalized' for the last two weeks.  In the meantime, we have had the pleasure of renting a 2011 Honda Insight.  It's a stripped down model, I am sure, lacking things such as the between the seat arm rest, and such.  However, to quickly sum up my experience so far, I love this car!

I would not describe it as "zippy", and without a doubt, the Insight will never win a 0-60 race, unless its with a turtle, but then, this is not the sort of car you want to drive like that.  It is not a sports car, it is not luxurious, it does not hold the whole house and your Aunt Mary in the back.  This is a perfectly functional, highly fuel efficient little car, perfect for toting around kids, or making the thirty or so trips to the grocery store.

How fuel efficient?  I am averaging 43.2 MPG.  Not too shabby, considering I am delighted when the Passat averages 23MPG on the highway.  We won't even mention the gas mileage in the Beast.  I filled up today, put 8.5 gallons into the tank, and paid a measly 27$!  WOOHOO!  Oh, and I think I have gone nearly 500 miles on that tank. 

The boys fit nicely, though probably not the car I would choose for a long road trip unless I plan to leave Steve at home.  I am not sure we could even fit both dogs in the back, but I have put Schooner back there and she fits fine. The broken view of the back window took a little while to get used to, but now I can just about see through it.  (The Prius seems to have the same shaped back window, therefore I would assume has the same broken view as the Honda)  For a small car, the blind spot over the driver's left shoulder is a bit too big, but again, it is something I would get used to rather than something that would drive me crazy.

I love the back light on the speedometer which changes from blue when you are using gas to green when the car is pulling from the battery.  I love that it rates me on how "green" my trip was!

Most of all, I love that I have traveled nearly twice as far as I could in the Passat and spent about half what I would spend to fill her up!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

An update on bionic boy

Matthew is now officially "fully wired".  He has his OmniPod (the egg shaped thing on the right side of his belly) and his DexCom Continuous Glucose Montior (The smaller thing on the left side of his belly).  Each device has its own hand held gizmo that gives us all the information we need to keep his sugars in control.

Of course, even technology is not perfect, as we found out on Christmas Day, when ketones took over and Matt felt awful.  But we do know, for example, when his blood sugars are spiking, or plummeting, we have a good general idea of where his sugars are at any point in time, and he now only needs to prick his fingers to verify what Dexie is telling us. (And to sync Dexie at least twice a day).

We are also getting used to new sites for each device.  The one big difference I have seen is that anything which stays under the skin leaves a much bigger mark than a needle.  However, we are all in agreement that we prefer to have to "prick" with a needle every 3 days (for the Pod) or 1ce a week (for Dexie) rather than many times a day.

Not pictured here is Matt's new TallyGear TummieTote, which sits nice and flat against his belly and easily holds both hand-held monitors, leaving his hands free, and rendering useless the pouch he had attached to his belt at all times.  His is in Army Green Cami, and he loves it.  He can even sleep with it on, and that means Dexie has an even greater chance of waking him up should his sugars spike or drop too low during the night.

All in all, not only is it "better living through pharmaceuticals" around here, its Better Living Through Electronics!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We can make a difference

As an Arizonan (albeit a reluctant one, but one nonetheless), I have been very concerned with, wrapped up in, and distracted by the "terror in Tucson".  I'm reading the Op Ed pieces with vigor, talking with my students about it, about the culture of hate we seem to be living in, and trying to come up with answers.

While Social Studies is not necessarily on my list of standards, I cannot help but bring into my classroom the struggles of people from our past and then make correlations.  Next week, we will begin reading To Kill A Mockingbird, and I have been working to set up the scene for my students, to try to help them gain a better understanding of the culture in which the book was written, and which it portrays.

This lead to the conversation about our current culture. 

I found an article today in the New York Daily News, an opinion piece, which stated that we really need to listen to the words we use, to choose them carefully because words can, and are, used like weapons.  You cannot swing a club at someone without there be repercussions, and you cannot spew hate at someone without there being consequences.

Some of the quotes mentioned in the article make my skin crawl.  To think that some of our elected political heroes speak in this manner is appalling.  That we PAY others to do it is shameful.

But we can make it stop.  Glenn Beck won't be able to have a microphone in front of him if we stop buying his books, and change the station when he is on.  (I do this very thing when he comes on to our local radio talk show station.)  If he is not bringing money into the station/publishing house/network, he will eventually be silenced.

If Ann Coulter's segments on TV no longer have the ratings, the advertisers will pull out and soon she, too, will find herself listening to her own voice all alone.

We can make a difference, by putting our collective feet down and saying STOP IT!  ENOUGH HATE!  We can elect the other guy when our politician calls his opponent a F******G raghead.  We can vote out of office the guy who takes a shot-gun to legislation he does not like.

We can make a difference.  We must.  I fear for our children's future if we do not stop this culture of hate.

My father had a tremendous respect for John F. Kennedy, and had on the wall of his office a poster portraying JFK in a lone row boat.  The inscription on the bottom read:

One man can make a difference, and every man should try.

It's time we try.