Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Thoughts

A week in review with thoughts mixed in like a bowl full of chili...

(Yes, that's UGA!)

1. Fall brings thoughts of cooler weather and college football. Can't wait!

2. My trip to San Francisco was wonderful. The cool weather brought on the thoughts of #1.

3. My OmniPod behaved well albeit a "communication" error at 35,000 feet, mid-flight, coming home. I had backups, so problem was resolved.

4. Just as I was having a "low" on flight home (47), flight stewardess says to me, "Peanuts, pretzels, or cookies?" Beautiful timing...the pretzels did the trick nicely.

5. I gained 2 lbs on aforementioned trip and feel "heavy". Haven't exercised in 5 days. That, my friends, stinks!

6. Can't wait to have dinner with "D" friends on September 15! Woohoo!

7. Contemplating eating low-carb, low-protein foods. Any thoughts?

8. Contemplating continuous glucose monitoring, e.g. Dexcom or Navigator. Any thoughts?

San Francisco was fantastic from a visitor's point of view. The weather never got above 65 and there always seemed to be a breeze. Sadly, I would never live there since the cost of living is so rediculously high and the houses are too close together. Otherwise, I really enjoyed my time there. Enjoy the photos taken not too far from my hotel...

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Food is my biggest enemy. It really is. Pizza is my FAVORITE food.

(from Mellow Mushroom, one of my favorites)

My diabetes says, "no thanks." It alarms me when I set foot in Italian, Mexican, Italian-Greek, Greek, American, Chinese restaurants, buffets, and anything in between. Okay, so I exaggerate. Whether you are a type 1 or 2 diabetic, you understand the possible dilemmas that can occur. Namely, how do you count for carbs without seeming like an idiot?

For instance, there are many restaurants that don't (nor probably can't) tell you exactly how many carbs, in that plate full of angel hair pasta, are swimming in that ocean of rich bolognese sauce. Add warm, soft, sourdough bread and your favorite beverage and...

your diabetes is screaming louder than a young teenage girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.

(Nicholas as seen here on dLife)

Traveling can also add a kink in the proverbial hose. I recently visited an Italian-Greek restaurant, in Minneapolis, that had plate-fulls of pasta, yellow rice, couscous, etc. I had to rely on old school measurements, e.g. 1 cup of angel hair pasta is approximately 30 grams of carbs. (Did I even get that right?) All I know is that my insulin handled the approximations well. It doesn't happen all the time.

Sometimes I bottom out 30 minutes after dinner or a yucky 280. Oh the joys of food and guess work. Here are a few tips for all of us to follow:

1. When ordering at a restaurant, ask for a carb-count list.

2. If the 'mood' doesn't call for asking, half the portion size and take the rest home as leftovers.

3. Try to order in 'half' sizes. Many restaurants will cut the portion size in half and charge you a few dollars less. This is great for us travelers.

4. Split the meal with someone.

5. Try to keep the carb count low. Then again, this is coming from a guy who loves pizza. Go figure...

You may have other suggestions and tools that work for you. Please share away, so that we can help each other. Lastly, enjoy your food! Cheers!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Traveling With Diabetes

"Mark, how is traveling with diabetes? How do you prepare?"
I get this question asked to me by many diabetics, both new patients and first time travelers. I write this post from a pesonal perspective. Currently, my job has me traveling every other month, so it's only fitting that I write this before leaving for Minneapolis, MN.
Here are some tips and tricks:

1. Carry a backup of a backup of a backup. This includes two BG meters, two vials of Novolog, two vials of BG strips, 2-3 pods, batteries, low BG food, and anything else you could need in case of an emergency. You may think this is overkill. You may think that nothing is going to happen to you. You probably never saw the movie, "Die Hard 2". It's okay. But DO NOT falsely believe that, "nothin' bad's gonna happen to me" garbage. Life happens. Get over it.

Okay, so this is from Die Hard. Don't get caught without your shoes on. :D

2. As a pain as this may sound, test your BG while on the plane and preferably right before takeoff. Why? Your adrenaline is about to take your BGs either high or low. For me, my BG generally shoots 30-50 points higher. (Thank you, liver!) As such, I take an extra unit to correct.

3. Before traveling, it is always a good practice to re-verify flights, car rentals, and hotel stays. As I found out a couple of weeks ago, my hotel reservation was inadvertently cancelled. Something about a "system error". Thankfully they still had my initial reservation and all turned out well.

TSA [Transportation Security Administration]. I carry on all of my diabetes supplies. That said, I have NEVER had a problem with a TSA agent/officer. Even with the OmniPod, they have taken very good and considerable care of me. I've had my new PDM through the x-ray and hand scanned (wand). The PDM worked afterward without a problem. As a side story, the Jacksonville TSA folks asked if they could run my new PDM through both scanners. I was honored as a number of TSA personnel observed. It was nothing short of being great. They were extremely nice as generally everywhere I've been.

The more prepared you are, the better you will be in case an issue arises.

Oh, and have fun! Your positive attitude reflects to everyone you meet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


On Tuesday, August 4th, while on our camping trip, my endo called me with my blood results. "Mark, your A1c was a 6.8, up from a 6.4, but still in good range. I'm happy with all the results."

As much as I love my new endo, I was not a happy camper anymore.

6.8? Whaaaa? How? Why? Ack!

Suddenly, the eeeevil diabetic side of me chimed in. "Remember all the times you decided not correct when you were a 150? Yeah, those times 'cause you thought you were gonna do something that might cause your sugars to plummet? Do ya? What about the handful of potato chips I caught you with? What's your excuse this time?" I began to hang my head.

Then the more calming, angelic diabetic side chimed in, "Mark, snap back man! Okay get a grip and don't let this setback hurt you. You are better than this. Just think of all the great things that you are now doing like the OmniPod, the frequent exercise, volunteering with the JDRF, and losing 15 pounds. Your size 36 pants fit you again! You've had to purchase new undies! Yaaaaay you!"

I smiled. Okay so a 6.8 isn't all that bad, but it's a reminder for me to try my best every day. I'm gonna have bad days. Yet, it's how we handle these days that define us. (Wait! Haven't I said that before. Hmmm...) So today, laugh at your diabetes or tell the "evil" side to back off. You can do it. We, I mean, "I", believe in you.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Camping with the OmniPod

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor a member of any medical profession. This post references what works/worked for me and may not work for you. Please consult your physician before attempting any changes to your routine. Thank you. Now please stay tuned...

What comes to mind when you think of camping? Tents or cabins? Really roughing it (e.g. hunt/fish for your own food) or semi-(e.g. bring food, but find a way to cook it)? Or...

How am I gonna survive this with my diabetes?!? (Cue Mission Impossible theme music.)

We all know that no matter the circumstances, we need our supplies. In this case, my OmniPod PDM, extra pods, bottles of blood strips, bottles of Novolog and Lantus, syringes, and granola bars. I also carry a box of Ziploc sandwich bags (the double closure kind) for waterproofing purposes.

We (my sons, brother in-law, and his son) journeyed to Lake Blue Ridge in Morganton, Georgia for a 3 day camping trip. Complete with a large tent, coolers of food, and fishing poles, we ventured in to the woods. As a PWD and a person who has had survival training, I was ready. The weather was perfect: daytime highs in the upper 80's with lows in the high 50s's/low 60's. Fabulous!

So, how did me, my diabetes, and OmniPod do? Well, my BGs never went above 120. We fished, hiked, and played around. I went low once, but handled it with a granola bar. And the OmniPod? It worked like a champ.

As a person who has troubles keeping infusion sites stuck to my skin, I use Mastisol to keep my pods secured. Here is a post camp photo of my pod:

(the black is leftover Mastisol with dirt, ewww...)

Mastisol has been a life saver. Since my workouts tend to be for hours, I sweat a lot, so the poxy works very well. Mastisol comes off with Detachol or finger nail polish remover (without Acetone). After applying the Mastisol, I let it sit for a minute before placing the pod. I then secure the adhesive tape and I'm good to go. Pod changes generally last ten minutes or less.

Okay, back to the camping part. We all had a wondeful time and I look forward to doing it again soon.

Here is a list of camping and diabetic hints that work for me, pending the situation:

1. Keep your insulin out of the sun and preferably in a cooler, but not directly in contact with ice. Sudden temp changes to insulin cause problems, e.g. extreme hot to extreme cold. So, buffer/protect your insulin from these conditions. Survival tip with keeping insulin cool in the wild: Dig a hole, in the ground, about 4-6 inches deep and place your insulin container in it. Cover it with leaves or sticks. Mark the spot with a standing stick and brightly colored handkefchief or rag. The ground will keep your insulin cool.

2. Food: Natural granola bars, nuts, and trail mix are the ultimate "survival" foods. They tend not to spoil too much with temp changes and provide carbs, fats, and proteins that the body needs for fuel. We had coolers of food to cook, so none of us really suffered. (Did I mention a small bonfire, hotdogs, and smores?) :D

3. Water: Bottles of water are fine, but cumbersome and wasteful. Many camp sites have potable water spickets. The key is to stay hydrated, no matter the temperature. (Please boil your water, if you feel there is a problem.)

4. Expect the unexpected: Always prepare for the worst (carry several backups) and hope for the best. A good attitude and laughter go a long way.

5. Enjoy and have fun.

(after being in the woods for 3 days, ewww...) :D