Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy 2nd Pump-aversary! (2 year insulin pump review)

Happy Pump-aversary!!

I would've celebrated with (2) small Dairy Queen Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzards (yes, 2), but I had forgotten today was the day until after DQ closed. I suppose there's always the '2-year, 1 day' anniversary...

It completely slipped my mind until I got an incredible message from a new friend in Canada, more about that later.

So 2 years ago today I made the switch, I took the plunge, I changed course, get the point!!

I was so apprehensive. Very scared. The thought of the added supplies, the changing of the infusion sets every few days, and the tubing....oh....the awful tubing! But I had just reached a point of willingness to try. I was relatively sure it would be a short-lived experiment, but I reasoned, 'if I give it a try I can finally get all those people who harp at me (a.k.a. LOVE ME) off my back.'

You know, people like my wife, my mom and dad, my sisters, my closest friends...people that...don't know me that well?? Apparently that was my though process (crazy in retrospect). Anyway, I gave it a whirl for them, and to combat the erratic blood sugars, constant 'chasing' of highs and lows, crummy, low-energy feelings, and possible onset of complications.

Now, let me break it down here. There have been some monumental events in my life that have shaped me (no, it's not the dairy queen blizzard's I'm referring to here!!).
-I am a Christian, and my relationship with Jesus has been entirely faithful on His end, spotty on mine. Yet it's that relationship and grace that have given me eternal security.
-My marriage is the 2nd most important relationship in the world to me (after the Lord), and I am blessed here as well.
-Every parent knows the birth of your child(ren) is pivotal, as it was for me. Especially our youngest son Nate, who has Down syndrome (read more about him here on my wife's blog).
-The pump.

Yes, you read that right. The Lord, the family, the pump.

And here's something else for you: EVERY relationship is affected by the pump, because when my levels are balanced I am more effective in every context. The pump is that life-changing.

So after 2 years, here's my review:

The insulin pump is the next best thing to the cure. It is so convenient to operate, easy to hide (if you so desire), and masterful at balancing your blood sugars that I firmly believe EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD that has diabetes should be on it!

Again, look back on this blog. Read my story. I was dead-set against it. I would say, "I'll take 20 shots a day over the pump." Total ignorance.

Do you enjoy shots? I mean, really? For that reason alone, make the switch! But again, it's not about how it looks, whether or not the screen is color, or how easily you can hide it. It's about your quality of life - how you feel.

I have never met a person who has said, "I want to be the worst me I can be." Of course that's lunacy. Who would say, "I want to be a less effective parent?" or "I like my moodiness and short-temper!" The pump WILL help you in all those areas and more. If the pump changed my life, I know it can change yours.

Let me be clear, you will have to learn to use it. It does require you to interact with it. Just like all diabetes management, education is key. But the tools are there for you. Take them, use them, and FEEL BETTER. It's time, NOW, today - no more excuses, no more delays. Do it for your family. Do it for your co-workers. Do it for your friends. Do it for your health.

Here are some of the people I did it for:

Back to the message from Canada. I was so encouraged earlier tonight to receive this e-mail. In part, it reads,

"...You don't know me, but my name is xxxxxxx and I live in Ontario Canada.
I started reading your blog about a year ago and it made me start really thinking about the pump. I had ridiculous A1c's and it was a constant roller coaster. Could never get any semblance of control and always felt like crap (there are other words I should use to describe how I felt).

It has been about 6 months since I started and all I can say is thanks for the blog and the encouragement. We just traveled to Europe for 2 weeks to Norway and Italy and having the pump made the vacation a million times better.
So in closing, I see today was your 2 year anniversary mark and I wanted to say thanks for your posts!

Have a great night and can't wait for the next post...."

That's why ipump is here. That is the vision - to encourage people affected by diabetes all over the world to make the switch to the pump. My story could be yours, or it could be the one listed above.

I want to pause here for a moment and thank those that have patiently waited for me to make this switch - you know who you are. Also, to the many people who either purposely or accidentally stumble across this blog, I am so grateful to you. Your comments and feedback, both publicly and privately are instrumental to this forum.

I love you all!

2 year review insulin pump grade: A+

My friends, until next time either get, or keep pumpin....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Songwriting and Diabetes

I am just returning home from a great songwriting conference in L.A. My songwriting coach was a panel speaker, and she insisted I attend. Being from the Midwest I wasn’t so sure, as the flights are usually pretty expensive. Additionally, my wife Jill was in Colorado last weekend for a National Day of Prayer conference (she’s our state coordinator), so it’s a LOT of being gone for us.

But I DID in fact go (my coach covering the flights was the clincher!). One of the things that strikes me about songwriting is the similarity between it and diabetes.

Let me tell you how they correlate:

To be a great, hit songwriter one needs to work at it tirelessly. You cannot and do not get it the first time around. Songs are inspired, sure - but then they need to be worked on, crafted, and revised. Everything that goes in to that song is put under a microscope and examined carefully.

To be in great health, we need to work at it tirelessly. We do not achieve great control by chance. We need to educate ourselves, and balance our regimen. We need to exercise, eat right, test often, and examine the results carefully then adjust accordingly.

Now, I have been a songwriter for quite some time now, and have enjoyed placements with artists and publishing deals alike. That was not by happenstance, it took years of effort.

I have had diabetes for years, and until fairly recently (see counter to the right, “how long I’ve been pumpin’”) I was generally unsuccessful. I firmly believe that getting on the pump, no matter HOW GOOD YOUR CONTROL IS, will improve your quality of life. Maybe your A1c is already great, but there likely are a lot of lows in there. The pump will help. The pump will make you feel better, I absolutely guarantee it!

Now if only there was a ‘pump’ for songwriting......


Until next time, keep pumpin’....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm not diabetic

I'm not diabetic on any level.

I am a happy, healthy young man who is humbled by vibrant relationships with a merciful Savior, loving family, and inspiring friends.

My Mac dictionary defines diabetic as: "A person suffering from diabetes."

I am not suffering. Admittedly at times I am struggling, but I am not suffering

I do have diabetes, but I'm not diabetic.

I am more than a chronic disease label.

Diabetes is something I manage, and it certainly is a part of me. It is not all of me.

Although some may think it's minutiae, I believe the slight shift in thinking and speaking ('I am diabetic' - 'I have diabetes') is an important one. Similarly, my son is not a 'Downs baby.' My son has Down syndrome.

The point here is that none of us are the labels, illnesses, or struggles we experience. I have learned everyone has something they are dealing with, regardless of whether or not that something is easily recognizable or not.

For everyone out there dealing with diabetes, I beg you to make diabetes the least of your concerns in life by following my lead and making the switch to the insulin pump.

Although I wear the pump proudly, the simple fact remains, I am not diabetic.

Keep pumpin' friends...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Take a rest

Today is No-D day. That means a multitude of us who blog about diabetes regularly will let it rest for a day.

Rest is a fine concept. I enjoy rest! Sunday afternoon naps are great (during the NFL & NBA off seasons, that is!). Being a songwriter/musical artist I'd like to expand on that theme of rest, and highlight its importance.

In music, there are rests. If considered at all, most think of it as empty time. On the surface it appears to lack purpose, but that is not so. While writing music, a rest serves a great purpose - it is a transition to a new thought or phrase. It allows preparation for something new, and without rest the piece would be incomplete.

A rest has value. Musical notes are assigned value in their duration. There are very long notes, a very short notes, and all sorts of notes in between! Rests are exactly the same - each has an assigned duration and a specific value. Rests are not empty or meaningless, they have great value.

Rests allow the other notes to breathe. Without rest, the notes being performed would be jumbled together, crammed tightly. This would greatly deter from the piece, so in essence rest gives life to the composition.

In life, rest is equally and important. It's easy to get caught up in the rat race, thinking the harder we work the more effective we will be. That is simply not so. Our energy, creative, and production levels actually decrease without the proper fuel known as rest. When we add any health issues or concerns, rest's role is magnified.

In summary, rest:
1. Serves a purpose
2. Is a transition
3. Allows preparation
4. Has value
5. Gives life

Be encouraged today, and don't forget to rest.

For a list of other "no d-day" bloggers, click here

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Yes, I know there's no "e" in it, but that's how it's spoken. I'm not crazy about the name, so I've decided to change it. Is it that simple? Yes my friends, it is.

I refuse to be associated with a chronic disease that has the inference of death. No thanks.

If live-abetes doesn't flow well for you, may I suggest, "Thrive-abetes."

When we manage well, and put our best foot forward - giving our all, we will thrive. Sure our readings may go haywire sometimes, but that doesn't mean we aren't thriving in spite of it.

So whatever you prefer, Live-abetes or thrive-abetes - let's live well and thrive together.

Keep pumpin'....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The dreaded diabetes C word


If you have diabetes, you are well aware of the warnings. You've heard your doctor, nurses, nutritionist, family, and friends speak of complications.

If you don't have diabetes, you've probably seen the ads on TV, read the magazine or internet articles, or heard from others about the covert damage diabetes can cause.

For me, I recognized the dangers of high blood sugars, but without the immediate consequences, I often put their effects out of mind. Further, I have earnestly been trying to control my diabetes for as long as I can remember. I remember praying and asking God to consider my efforts. I asked Him to protect my body despite my blood sugars.

I have had the privilege of meeting so many others like me with type-1 diabetes. I've seen people with serious complications and some with none. I had also been a bit prideful when it came to NOT having complications. It's an elite group of people that defy the odds, and I was glad to be a part of it!

All of that changed 11 months ago, in November of 2009.

We were working on a construction project at church. I vividly recall the unquenchable thirst, the irritability, and the lethargy. I tested my blood sugar and I was over 400. I felt even worse than I had 5 seconds prior. Then as I walked down the hallway, my feet instantly felt as if they were on fire. The tops of my feet burned horribly, and I was very alarmed. Actually, I was terrified. I hoped in vain that it was due to my elevated levels, and desperately wanted to believe that once my levels receded my pain would accordingly diminish.

I started taking ibuprofen in mass quantity. 4 every couple hours helped, but never made the pain go away. I called my doctor, my nurse, my Medtronic rep....anyone who I thought could help.

I was referred to a neurologist and made an appointment quickly. My visit was initially unpleasant (for more details, click here), but it did result in recommitting to exercise! I inquired about a test called the 'nerve conductivity test,' but the doctor started with the initial foot-touch tests. He said that he wasn't sure it was neuropathy, although it could be the start of it. He reasoned that even if it WASN'T PN (peripheral neuropathy), it was likely coming. Not what I hoped to hear, but the pain was so intense I just wanted a fix.

He prescribed a drug called Cymbalta, which is often used to treat depression. I went home and subsequently took the pill after dinner.

At around midnight I got up and I didn't feel right. I was perspiring and shaking. It felt identical to a very low blood sugar, so I got up and tested. My blood sugar was 124. Wrong, I thought, so I tested again. 128. What on earth was going on?

Then I felt really sick to my stomach. Very nauseated. It really felt like an intense case of the stomach flu, but despite the overwhelming feeling, I was not getting sick. This cycle of sweat and nausea continued late in to the night, until I finally fell asleep in the bathroom on the ceramic tile floor. The sad part is that the floor was quite cold and felt heavenly. A cold, hard, bathroom ceramic tile felt like a dream that night.

When I awoke later that morning, I knew that was the last of my Cymbalta use. I immediately went searching for alternative answers.

The problem with the internet is that you never really know if something is legit or not. Sure, 'people' rave about a product or treatment, but are they real? Does the stuff work? These are questions I had to find the answers to, and fast!

I had previously taken (on and off) a product called Nerve Fix. I bought it through Amazon, and never really had any problems with it, although I was taking it for a sporadic right foot (big toe area) tingle. The symptoms were not consistent, so I can't definitively speak to its effectiveness.

I placed a call to a company called WSN (Wellness Support Network). They make a product called "Nerve Support Formula" and I wanted more info. I got it, and in about 3 weeks of usage I was starting to feel better.

Through additional research I found additional supplements. Namely, Alpha Lipoic Acid, later I added Acetyl L-Carnitine, and then most recently also started Fish Oil.

I also use a vibrating foot massager called the MEDI-RUB Massager 2000 plus. This thing is great, and helps promote blood flow. It offers relief to me when my foot is sore.

The last part of my puzzle is an amazing device called the ReBuilder. I highly endorse it. My insurance did not cover it (although I understand most do), so I was able to get the high-powered one on ebay (used).

Now, let me also interject that when I saw the neurologist I brought in my WSN pills for him to examine. He looked at the ingredients and said he thought it could be beneficial. That's when HE told me about ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid), and how Mayo clinic recommends it for PN. Good enough for me!

I recently got a book on PN from Amazon "Beating Neuropathy, taking miracle to misery in just 5 weeks"), and they specifically talk about the ReBuilder as a very effective treatment option for PN. I had already started using it, but it was reassuring to read that!

So here's my regimen:
(1) Alpha Lipoic Acid pill (600 mg)
(2) Nerve Support pills
(2) Fish Oil pills (Mega EFA, Omega-3 EPA & DHA 2.126g per serving)

ReBuilder: as needed (can be done 2x/day) - usually done a few days a week as maintenance.
Medi-Rub: as needed.

That's the foot portion of what's been going on. It's tough for me to admit, and not easy to talk about. But I've been very aggressive with treatment, and if you can be disciplined you will see dramatic improvement. When things went haywire I also used Neurogen (with limited success, although it does smell good!) and Zostrix. I have since discontinued using both.

Today, the tops of my feet no longer burn at all. My left foot is 100% better, pain free. My right foot is 90% better - aargh. That last 10% really bugs me. In many ways, I'm back to where I started. My right foot still aches at times - specifically my big toe area. It's bothersome, but inconsistent. Most days it's either a indistinguishable or of little consequence. Some days it's more bothersome, and rarely (but it does happen), it just flat out aches.

I purchase my supplements (ALA, Fish Oil) through I have found their prices, products, and support to be unbeatable. I purchase the WSN Nerve Support direct from the manufacturer.

I share all of this info with you because despite my best efforts almost a year ago, I never did fin anyone on the internet who compiled an objective, exhaustive review along with specific direction on dosing and acquisition.

I buy the Omega-3 fish oil pills here. There are 240 pills, so @ 2/day, this is a 4 month supply (for $21.99).
I buy the ALA pills here. There are 60 pills in the bottle, and at 1/day that's a 2 month supply (for $8.28).
I buy the Nerve Support Formula direct from WSN here. I used to buy it through Amazon (it's also available there), but with the auto-ship through WSN it's the same price. There are 120 pills in the bottle. At 2/day (can take more if needed), that's a 2 month supply. (for $42.70).

So that's it! My hope is that you are encouraged by this information. There is hope, and there are alternatives (if you so desire).

Please contact me directly with any questions you may have.

Keep believing, and keep pumpin...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why having diabetes is awesome

I mean it, really. I'm not rolling my eyes, sighing in exasperation, mumbling sarcastically, "aawwwweeesssooooooommmmmeee."

Having diabetes is awesome, and here's why:

Diabetes forces you to be more aware of your overall health.

Diabetes helps you appreciate the little things in life more.

Diabetes makes you realize the fragility of life.

Diabetes causes you to be thankful for all your other internal organs that DO work properly.

Diabetes allows you to be a part of a community of caring, compassionate individuals.

Diabetes is top-of-mind in the public eye, therefore receiving a lot of funding and research dollars annually.

Diabetes REQUIRES you to pause sometimes, when without it we most likely would not.

Diabetes creates opportunities for us to overcome.

Diabetes motivates you to be the best you can be.

Diabetes forces you to be aware of your surroundings.

Diabetes requires forethought.

Diabetes is manageable.

Diabetes will not hinder you from becoming a star athlete, performer, politician, scientist, doctor, teacher, professional, employee, parent, spouse, sibling, or child.

Sure, diabetes gets a bad reputation (and by some accounts, rightfully so). But it's not ALL bad, and if we all look hard enough, I bet we could extend this abbreviated list exponentially. I've saved my personal favorite reason for last...why I think having diabetes is awesome:

We have the insulin pump.

Keep pumpin' my friends....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Animas Ping

The Ping is an incredible pump. It has some features that the other pumps do not have. Here are some of the features that I particularly admire about the Ping:

The color screen. It's just cool, and feels more 'current' than anything else out there. The Gen-X/Y'ers will appreciate it as fitting in with the rest of our electronic gadgetry. The Medtronic screen does light up, but it's a back-light.

Mac compatibility. The Animas software supports Mac & PC. The software is a really important tool for seeing what's going on, it's much easier to spot trends and adjust accordingly. Downloading your pump info is easy (no matter which pump you use), and vital to managing your diabetes most effectively. There are a lot of "mac people" (like me) out there who can't understand why, in the 4th quarter of 2010, Medtronic still doesn't support mac compatibility with the care link software.

Insulin delivery rate. The Ping delivers insulin fast and effectively. Generally not an issue, just a convenience.

In all, the Ping just feels much more current and forward than its competitors. I admire the design and user-friendliness of its features.

I feel sure there are numerous other offerings that make the Ping the right pump for so many users. For me, even considering all of the aforementioned factors, I chose the Medtronic. It is a decision I do not regret.

However, when making the switch from shots to the insulin pump, there is no bad decision. That's my point here. Although the two companies may be in competition for our business, WE cannot lose here. For some people, the Ping is perfect - for others, it's the Revel, and others yet the Omnipod. Either way, it's the pump, and that is what really matters the most.

Do your family, your friends, yourself and most importantly your health a big favor - make the switch to the pump today!

Keep pumpin'...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

P90X, diabetes, and the insulin pump - a match made in...

...the brain of some delusional being!

Only kidding there.

I advocate getting exercise. When you have diabetes, it's that much more important. Go walk Fido, take a stroll with your sweetie, mow the lawn, play the wii..... :) you get the picture.

P90X is an extreme home fitness routine. If you have cable, you've seen the ads - regular people like you and I working (very) hard and getting (very) fit. I wasn't so sure about this, but I really wanted to try it. I mean, every time the infomercial came on (no matter which one, there's multiple ones!) I watched it, and wondered....

Could I not only get BACK in to shape, could I get in to the best shape of my life? The answer? Yes.

To learn more about P90X, you can go anywhere on the internet and read countless stories of staggering health transformations. Before I get in to the diabetes part, I want to share my motivation.

When my feet starting hurting (BAD) I went to see a neurologist. A nurse there is an acquaintance, and when I stepped on the scale she muttered, "I never would have guessed."

Cue total shame and anger simultaneously.

The nerve, I mean come on - really? 201. 201. 2 - 0 - 1. Is it really that BIG of a deal? Apparently so. The next day the diet changed and the cardio and weight training (re)started. A few months later, it was my birthday and my wife surprised me with P90X. That was the best gift she's ever given me, after our son Nate and our golden retriever, Bentley.

But before P90X you begin you have to take this fitness test.

P-Uuuuu-Lllll-eeeeee-aaaaaa-sssssss-eeeeee I was thinking. I am SUPER FIT (in my mind). Then I got started. It's exhaustive - vertical leap, push ups, pull ups, etc. I was ok (they give you minimums) until I had to sit down and try to touch my toes. Now, I was never a dancer, gymnast, etc. and had never at that point done yoga (just for girls, I thought); but still I really considered myself flexible. Not so much. The minimum GAP between outstretched fingers and toes is 6." My best effort? 6", and barely at that. Whew - on to the program.

Suffice to say that after day 2 I literally could not walk right for 5 days. I just wasn't used to it. But after another week or so I hit my stride, and I was addicted.

Being on the pump (or just having diabetes) and engaging in strenuous exercise can be taxing. I was going low, A LOT. So here's what I did.


I came across a professional-grade athlete with diabetes, and I emailed him, asking for his help. A day or so later I heard back, and what he told me made all the difference in the world. He recommended a book to me that I am here and now recommending to you, no matter what kind of exercising you do:

"The Diabetic Athlete's Handbook."

Yeah, diabetic is a word some of us are not crazy about, but the info in the book is incredible. It profiles athletes and their specific programs, and make suggestions for pump users, shot takers, and type-2'rs. There's something there for everyone. Back to my journey...

When I did the program (aprox 1 hr/day) I would take my pump off entirely. Prior to exercising I would reduce my insulin (bolus for eating) by 50%, and my basal rates would be decreased by 30% or more for at least 12 hours AFTER the exercise.

That did it for me, I drastically reduced my lows, and most days worked-out problem free. There were occasions I had to stop working out due to a low, and other days I had to delay a start because my level was 'normal.' If it wasn't elevated at the start, it would crash for me.

The program itself is incredible, and I found the Yoga portion to be most challenging, yet mutually rewarding upon completion.

It IS possible to do an extreme program like P90x while on the pump, or shots - it just takes more planning than normal.

The payoff is worth it, though.

Plus, now I can reach BEYOND my toes, and I am in the best shape of my life!

So get out there, get moving, and stay healthy!

Until next time, keep pumpin'...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New song for the JDRF

Hello my friends! I've received some great feedback from you lately, thank you for your emails and inquiries!

This post today is to let you know I'm writing a song for the JDRF. The JDRF is a very important organization for people with diabetes, specifically type-1. The JDRF is committed to curing diabetes, and funding research to reach their goal of eradicating diabetes.

My music manager in Nashville suggested I write a song for the JDRF, as I am partnered with them in many activities and outreaches. Why I never thought of that, I don't know!

Anyway, it's an uptempo, uplifting rhythmic melody, and I want to run it by you for thoughts.



Vs. 1: Sometimes the future is scary
Not knowing what's ahead can make you anxious
Especially when things don't add up
Despite the fact that you're doing your best

Pre: Give it your all, even if you don't feel it

Crs Believe, believe in tomorrow
(You've got to) believe, believe the best is yet to come

Vs. 2: I want to make a difference
Be part of a legacy that changes lives
I'm willing to go the distance
Committed to making the future much more bright

Pre2: So don't give up, the more we commit the closer we get

Repeat Chorus


Does it speak for you, and us? Does it accurately capture the present struggle and the future promise? Let me know.

I'll have it up on my website ( soon, so you can head over there to check it out later on if you're interested.

Have an excellent day today, and take good care of yourself. We are on the verge of a cure!

Until then, keep pumpin'...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Insulin Shots vs. pump - which is better?

I've got a handy little tool that helps me decipher how people end up here. Historically, most first time visitors find their way here by 'googling' insulin pump review, or some variation thereof. However, lately many have found ipump by searching for opinions on 'what is better, insulin shots (aka injection therapy) or the insulin pump'.

Now for me, circa all the years I had diabetes, and BEFORE the pump I would have vehemently told you, "shots!!" The pump seemed like the scariest, dorkiest, most cumbersome and embarrassing piece of gear ever. If I would've had a blog at that time, surely it would have been titled, "i'llNEVERpump" or more accurately, "iAMstubbornANDrefuseTOevenCONSIDERthePUMP"

As mentioned in prior posts, I have even said aloud, "I'd rather take 20 shots a day that be on the pump.." Really, thinking back now, that might quite possibly be the dumbest thing I have ever said - but at the time it was logical and clever.

For goodness sake, that's akin to saying, "I refuse to get in those new-fangled steel contraptions...I'm perfectly happy going any where I need to go on horse back!"

Sure, if you live in the desert (or the year 1900) that's fine. But most of us live in places where there are highways with a lot of dangerous obstacles, so we NEED to have the latest, most efficient methods of transportation.

And that my friends is just like how it is being on the pump. Continuing on shots seems perfectly logical to those ON shots, but the percentage of people who make the switch to the pump and RETURN to shots is staggeringly small. Why? Simply because once you use the most effective method, and once you have adjusted to the freedoms it offers, it becomes next-to-impossible to consider returning to any previous routine.

The notion that taking shots is even comparable to the pump is a difficult one now. Taking shots has numerous disadvantages. Namely:

1. Shots can hurt, and often do.

2. A shot routine (a/k/a injection therapy) usually requires at least 3 shots per day. Could be more, much more.

3. Long-acting insulin (e.g. Lantus) is absorbed differently by different people and can also vary in effectiveness by location (site). Translation: your 24-hour insulin could only last 12 hours.

4. You have to take your shots before every meal, worse yet - before everything you eat, every time. Goodbye grazing! Eating 30 minutes AFTER you've just eaten (let's say you're still hungry!) means another shot to cover the new food.

5. Insulin bottles can be lost or broken easily (ceramic floors). The smell is unpleasant to say the least! If nothing else, they can be easily misplaced and difficult to keep track of.

6. Have I mentioned that taking shots 4-6x a day? That's 4-6 pains in the rear (literally).

7 - 1,000,000: etc...

Now, the advantages of shots:


hold on, there has to be something....


Well, at least at the time I thought there was one...

1. You are not connected to anything (also known as 'that unsightly tubing')

The truth is that taking shots is more limiting than being on the pump. Keeping your insulin cool when you go to places like Disney World is a hassle. Here's an irony for you: being on the pump offers more freedom than being on shots! Convenience, quality of life, and ease of use all combine to ensure that the pump offers limitless opportunities for endless fun. (Ok, I'll admit your cool-ness factor may or may not go up, and you won't walk around automatically 'whistling dixie', but you could..and to boot, it would be easier than if you were still taking shots!! :)

Diabetes is like traveling the autobahn. No speed limits, users need to exercise extreme caution when traversing its roadways. The opportunity for disaster is great, so safety is of utmost importance. You wouldn't get on the on-ramp on a horse, even if it was working great for you! Sure a thoroughred is an impressive specimen, but can it compare to a Mercedes-Benz? Of course not.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that each and every person with diabetes should be on the insulin pump. It will affect you in ways you cannot currently consider, but once you experience them you will wonder why it took so long to make the switch.

I was the Apostle Paul (pre-conversion), that despised all things pump-related (as Paul despised Christians). However, now that I've converted I am compelled to tell everyone that the pump is so far greater than insulin shots, there really is no comparison at all.

Make the switch. Today. Call your doctor now. If he/she doesn't believe in the pump, find a different doctor. It's your life, and it's our health. Don't waste another second feeling less than great. Make the switch.

Until next time, keep on pumpin'.....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Medtronic Revel Pump Review

Recently I switched from the 722 to the new Revel.

The Revel has the same feel as the 522/722, as it is the last in the series of Paradigm pumps (Medtronic has some amazing pumps on the horizon...)

Any user of the Paradigm series will be easily be able to adapt and navigate around the new Revel.

There are some additional features that clarify actions (changing your infusion set), that would be especially helpful for the new pumper.

For example, to change your set now, the menu has been renamed "Resevoir+Set." Pressing ACT will lead you to new prompts (Reservoir Set Up, Fill Cannula) as well as the familiar "History."
To change your set, there are now additional (new prompts). For example, the pump asks you if you are disconnected when priming. Then after priming it asks if you see drops (of insulin) at set. Very nice, again - especially for the noobie.

Reducing your Basal rates is also easier. To reduce by %'s (the best way to go), you previously had to do a couple of extra button clicks, but now it's right there for you under temp basal. As an aside, after exercising I reduce my basal rate by about 15% for 6 hours (or more) depending on the time of day. This simple technique has thwarted a LOT of low blood sugars. Try it, you'll see!

Other differences- the design is basically the same. The buttons are the same (placement), just relabeled. You can assuredly tell this pump is in the Paradigm family tree, it just looks like the best looking and most popular sibling!

The main feature that separates the Revel from it's predecessors is the trending feature. In order to use it, you need to be wearing the CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) Sensor. In laymen's terms, here's what the Revel will do:
-When you wear the CGM sensor, one of the parameters you must set up is your high and low alarms. In a nutshell what that means is that when your blood sugar rises to OVER or UNDER the level you set (say 80 and 200 mf/dl respectiveley) an alarm will sound on your pump notifying you that your levels are off. This is VERY helpful in tightening up your control of diabetes! So the Revel takes it one step further with something Medtronic has titled, "Predictive Alerts." What the Revel will do is actually calculate WHEN your blood sugar will either be higher or lower than your preset levels. It is based off the way your blood sugar is trending (up or down), and is calculated considering the current rate of rise or fall. So if you are told your blood sugar is going to be low in 15 minutes, you can act NOW to avoid it.

Now that, my friends, is AMAZING!

My original review of Medtronic and their products still stands. I fully endorse their line, and believe they are the unmatched leader in diabetes treatment and research. Their pumps are incredible, and their service is equally as awesome. My rep, Kevin Scheffen is a personable, caring professional that seeks to help people live better lives through using the latest advancement in diabetes treatment.

The pump has exponentially changed my life for the better. Let it do the same for you and your loved ones, too. No more excuses, no more delays - every day of high blood sugars is a day you cannot get back. It's imperative that you get on the pump, now. You won't regret it, I personally guarantee it.

Until next time, keep pumpin'...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back from wherever I was...

Hey pumpers, pump fans, and pump enviests (not a word yet..),

I'm back.

So much has been transpiring. And if it's any consolation at all, I sure have THOUGHT about blogging (and you all) a lot! If there was a way to transfer thoughts from the brain to the blog (bypassing the typing) I'd be the world's busiest blogger. Maybe Steve Jobs can start working on that? Hmmm...iThought...

Anyway, in a nutshell here's what's been going on (these will be future posts):

-My feet starting hurting - BAD. I mean, so bad I could hardly stand or walk. So bad they felt like they were on FIRE. So bad it brought tears to my eyes and really, really scared me.

-I subsequently went to see a neourologist, which sparked a personal fitness revolution.

-I started exercising (seriously) again. Great for the health, but the blood sugars have been erratic. I will be blogging about P90x and having type-1 diabetes (+ the pump) soon!

-I've had the opportunity to speak to a lot of doctors, nurses, CDE's and others about the pump. It is such a blessing to be involved with this vibrant community of progressive thinkers who seek to help us all in so many ways.

-I've learned a lot about P.N. (Peripheral Neuropathy) and that there is a TON you can do.

-I've heard some GREAT stories from a lot of you, all over the world. There's a camaraderie that those of us with type-1 diabetes share, and it's a great privilege to be a part of your life-stories!

-I've heard some heartbreaking stories as well. I will never understand why anyone in the medical community would not whole-heartedly endorse the insulin pump. Thinking or saying that better control must be reached to 'earn' the pump is absurd. If that were true of my team, I'd still be using injection therapy and my health would be suffering because of it.

-I've had to come to grips with having some complications. This is a topic I will elaborate on in great length in the future because NOT having complications is a source of great pride for many. I felt, for a long time, that I got 'kicked out of the club' because I couldn't say I was complication-free any longer.

-I've been formulating some thoughts for an updated review of the pump. I still give it 5 stars (out of 5), A+, 100%!

I've been busy with my life's work - reaching the lost, encouraging the hopeless, and doing everything I can to inspire the apathetic.

Before I close here I want to make sure I make myself crystal clear:

If you have not started the pump yet, I understand. I waited (far too) long, and I had EVERY excuse in the world. But the truth is, even if you have great control, the pump can STILL make you better. How does a more flexible eating schedule sound? How about even better control?

I can promise you that you can't have a more negative opinion of the pump, because I despised it.

And now, today, I do everything I can to tell every single person with diabetes to get on it; NOW.

If it changed my life, it will change your life, too.

If you have any doubts, fears, questions or concerns - please contact me.

I never thought I'd say this, but the truth is...with the pump there are times it feels as if I don't have diabetes at all.

And the fact is, if diabetes is what I had just a short time ago while on insulin injections, frankly, I don't have diabetes any more.

Until there is a cure, there's the pump. It's that good.

Until next time, I'll be pumpin...

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Unsung Heroes of Diabetes Care (a.k.a. give your CDE / nurse practitioner a hug today)

Late last week I was invited to be a part of an informative appreciation event for CDE's (Certified Diabetes Educators) and NP's (Nurse Practitioners) hosted by my good friend at Medtronic Diabetes. As part of a panel of other patients who use and endorse the insulin pump (we were the 'patient champions' - gold medals and all!), we each shared our personal experiences with the pump and the fielded questions from the audience.

The questions and consequent personal interactions with many of the attendees reminded me of something. Remember high school (me neither). Just think really hard...mullets, guess jeans, rolled got it!

Now consider the teacher(s) that made a significant impact on you. It affected your attitude at the time (toward school, the specific subject, and academics), and may very well have shaped many of the views you hold today. That teacher was passionate and just knew how to connect with people. You got the feeling that their job had nothing to do with the paycheck they received, and if the compensation portion of their occupation vanished, they would still be there the next morning ready to teach!

Can you recall a special teacher like that? Driven. Dedicated. Diligent. Determined. And usually...under-appreciated.

That's what it was like last week, in a room full of people seeking to connect more deeply with their patients. Trying to instill better habits by offering encouragement and resources to improve quality of life. Who's? YOURS!

Doctors specializing in diabetes (endocrinologists) often get the accolades, but the truth is that the CDE's and the NP's are on the front lines of the battle most often. When was the last time you heard of a doc giving out his home, cell, and direct work phone numbers, JUST IN CASE any questions or problems arise? Not only has that happened to me, I heard stories of the CDE's and NP's doing so much more - just to ensure their patients would be OK.

It takes a team of competent and caring professionals to successfully manage diabetes, and your endo is a key player on that team. But let's not forget about those that show up every day to 'practice', train with you in the proverbial weight room, and do whatever they can to facilitate your total health success - the CDE's and NP's!

So call or drop a message to your CDE/NP today and simply say thank you. And to all those who dedicate their lives to make diabetes easier for people like me, on behalf of everyone who has benefitted from your experience I say, thank you!

Keep pumpin'....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

To friends & family members of those newly diagnosed...

Hi, and welcome!

Type-1 diabetes can be a very scary diagnosis. There are a million unanswered questions and even more unfounded fears. For parents there is anxiety, doubt, blame, terror, and a myriad of other emotions running wild through your hearts and minds.

Let me be the first to tell you:

It's going to be all right!

This blog was created as a resource for you. I want you to learn as I learn, and more importantly I hope you learn from my mistakes. It's easy to look back over the course of time and concede that what seemed like a sound decision in the past was in fact an erroneous one. A major mistake I made with my diabetes was dismissing the pump.

I simply refused to allow myself to even consider the possibility of being on the insulin pump. You can look back to my first few posts to read why, but I can tell you that I was foolish and wrong for thinking so negatively.

The insulin pump is more than 'an alternative' to taking shots. I would say that comparing the pump to shots is like comparing type-1 to type-2 diabetes. Sure, in some ways they're alike; but in many more ways they are totally different.

Knowing how I feel now, compared to how I felt then (for over 20 years)....knowing that it would affect not only how I am, but who I am.....knowing that this one simple piece of equipment can prolong my life and improve my quality of life exponentially.....knowing the freedom it affords.....knowing that I am more now of who I was meant to be....knowing all that, and so much more I can confidently say:

Please do everything you can to convince, persuade, or encourage every single person with diabetes you EVER meet to get on the insulin pump IMMEDIATELY.

It's never too late, or too early to start.

Until next time, keep pumpin'...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A preventable tragedy

Ok, I admit; in hindsight I should have warned you. I'm not proud of it, and really I'm working on this part of me...start strong, then flame out. Aaargh.

There has been a nearly 6 month blog layoff and I could easily attribute it to:

a) the down economy. Really this has nothing to do with my blogging, it just seems to be the vogue scapegoat.
b) much like a bear, I hibernate for nearly 6 months; stocking up on good diabetes tales.
c) my writer was on strike, insisting on a pay increase. Finally we resolved our differences (I'm now $.01/hr. poorer).
d) Lazy.

Ok, there I said it (lazy). I meant to blog once a week, but meaning to and actually doing it are apparently two very different things. A lot, and I mean A TON has happened in the last 6 months. Some good, some bad...but more about that at a later time.

Something I saw recently shocked me back to the mission of this blog - to encourage, inspire, and lead everyone who is touched by diabetes to the insulin pump. Here's the story:

A few weeks ago we were out on the East Coast, and everyone in and around New York was talking about the NY Jets NFL team. The city and surrounding boroughs were buzzing with excitement at the team's recent successes, and the club was only one game away from the elusive Super Bowl. As you can imagine, every radio and TV program covered one angle or another...and a word like over-saturation is not quite strong enough to describe the monotony of the same recycled sound clips and stories; replayed ad nauseam.

But then I heard it, and I was instantly intrigued.

The owner, Woody Johnson said that he was happy for the team's recent run of victories, but it felt empty to him because of the recent tragic loss of his daughter.

Now I was hooked and I had to find out what happened.

Casey Johnson was an heiress. Her Dad, Woody is the leader of one of the world's most trusted and profitable companies, Johnson & Johnson. Casey was a young socialite, a 30 year old woman who was well acquainted with the nightlife and all of the trappings therein. She stood to inherit her father's company one day, but unfortunately that day would never come.

She had been hospitalized twice within the last year. She, like most everyone, had some health issues to deal with. But she was not doing well.

Casey had type-1 diabetes.

She had been hospitalized for high blood sugars, and their nasty consequences. But each of those two prior times, her internal organs were resilient enough to bounce back.

But diabetes can be merciless, unforgiving, and unbiased. It doesn't care about your race, culture, occupation, or fortune you may or may not inherit one day.

When I dig a little deeper, and read the cause of death it brought great sadness (and some fear) to me. It was listed simply as:

diabetic ketoacidosis

It's a highly dangerous condition that can be avoided by controlling your blood sugar levels. It can lead to all kinds of permanent damage, and is often accompanied by a coma. The worst cases are fatal. It's a very cruel form of russian roulette that some never walk away from.

Now, I am not here judging her or anyone for that matter. I have experienced ketoacidosis before, and it is, frankly, devastatingly awful. My personal opinion is that no one ever thinks it will happen to them...but in fact in the year 2010 it still does. And that's really sad to me.

It's been reported she was not taking her shots, nor following her suggested regimen. Again, easy to criticize - but if I were being totally honest I'd have to admit I haven't always given 100%, 90%, or even 50% occasionally - have you?

Here's where the motivation for me comes in...

Not just to share this sad story that makes me very emotional, even as I write it and ponder it again...but to know, to just know that the insulin pump may have prevented this tragedy.

That's why I want to write again, to reach the NEXT Casey Johnson, or Woody Johnson, and to implore do anything to get on the pump. I just wish someone, anyone would have reached her before ketoacidosis took her.

I wish I could have.

See, the truth is, Casey could have been me.

The pump can extend lives, it can improve lives, it can augment lives, and it can save lives.

Until next time, please keep pumpin...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What your parents said

Last week I was invited to be a speaker at a local camp for families with diabetes.
There were four groups of children(as well as their parents), divided by ages . In preparing, I created a sheet that asked a series of questions.
1. The easiest thing about dealing with diabetes is..
2. The hardest thing, etc....
3. The best thing, etc.....
4. The worst thing, etc.....
5. I wish my child knew....

The parents had the above questions, and the kids' sheets had the same questions, but the 'tense' was altered. For example, Q.1 read, "the easiest thing about having diabetes is..." and the last question was, "I wish my parents knew..."

Being that the responses were anonymous, I had hoped for honesty. What I got was beyond what I had hoped for. Here's a sampling of the parental responses...

The best thing about dealing with diabetes is...
-"There is treatment for the disease my son has."
-"Seeing the courage my daughter has.."
-"you can still do the same things that everyone else does"
And more than one parent said plainly,

The worst thing about dealing with diabetes is...
-"dealing with potential restrictions on future activities."
-"missing activities with other children."
-"having it for the rest of your life??"
-"not knowing the future."
-"feeling like I am always bugging him about his sugar (level) or treating."

Now, let me address some of these answers: diabetes should not restrict or hinder you from anything. That's outdated info. Kids with diabetes do not need to miss anything. Further, we are on the cusp of the cure. As I said at camp, THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO HAVE DIABETES!!

Not knowing the future can cause anxiety in anyone (with diabetes or not), but faith and a secure foundation can really counteract your fears.

And finally, "I wish my child knew..."

-"I would trade places with him if I could.."
-"How smart he is.."
-"how proud of her I am."
-"highs and lows will still happen even if you do everything 'by the book'"
-"there's nothing she can't do"
-"by not testing and taking care of himself how he is hurting his body."

These answers reveal much of what all parents feel for their kids. How many of us would do anything to take away our child's hurts, fears, or struggles?
Now compound that with a chronic disease that takes no prisoners, and the helpless feelings must multiply.

Yet there is another side to these answers that shows how diabetes affects more than just the diabetic. It affects the whole family, and includes friends, classmates, and more. Education is real power when it comes to effectively managing diabetes. There's no reason a child today should feel limited or inhibited in any way by diabetes.

All of this reinforces the conclusion I had previously reached, which is everyone with diabetes should be on the insulin pump.

It allows freedom and flexibility; but most importantly it is the best tool we have today to treat diabetes.

Stay tuned, because the next post will highlight what all the children with diabetes had to say, and you are NOT going to want to miss it!!

Until there's a cure, there's the pump.

That's why iPump.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


This is a picture of the grand canyon from afar.

Here is a picture from the grand canyon on the ledge.

Here is picture of the grand canyon from inside.,+Colorado+River,+Grand+Canyon,+Arizona%5B2%5D.jpg

Notice how all three photos offer differing views and alternate perspectives. Additionally, from a distance the canyon does not appear all that impressive. But as you get closer to the ledge, and ultimately inside the behemoth, you gain a new appreciation for its formidable essence. And if you've ever been there, you know pictures don't do it justice.

To me life with diabetes is just like that.

In the past I thought of tight control and healthy management as unattainable. I heard, read, and acknowledged all the possible complications, yet to me the complications were like the canyon from afar.

20 years in to diabetes, and still complication free I could feel myself getting much 'closer,' yet still was denying the enormity of my future if I did not change course, and fast.

Finally a series of life-events combined and I was standing on the ledge. One of which was a slight foot tingle, and I feared that denying the 'canyon' any longer was just not possible.

So 22 years in to diabetes I took a figurative leap of faith over the edge, and much to my surprise I did not go plummeting downward at break-neck speed.

The most amazing thing happened, actually.

For the past 7+ months it's as if I have been carried up on eagle's wings. The insulin pump has opened up a whole new world for me.

The least way I have been affected by the insulin pump is by having normal blood sugars. That's right, the normal readings are the least of my gains. My focus, my energy level, my patience level, my everything...better!

Being on the pump does not mean the years of mismanagement have not affected me adversely, or that it may not in the future.

But for the first time in my life I am now walking away from the ledge rather than toward it, and I feel GREAT in the process!

Until next time, I'll keep pumpin'....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stinking complaining never did anyone any bloody good

Diabetes is not the end of the world.

It's not impossible to manage, nor is it the great hindrance to a charmed life.

It can be a challenge, yes. It can be an inconvenience, yes. It can even be difficult. But it doesn't need to be any more than that. We can (and I certainly have in my lifetime) given it much more credit (or blame) than it deserved. It's been a crutch at times, but it has also been a motivator as well.

I don't think I need to be heralded or congratulated for having diabetes. My plight is not necessarily worse (or better) than any others.

Growing up, I had a brother that was so severely handicapped that he could not talk, walk, sit up or communicate in any way. Developed only as a 2-month old and with a life expectancy of 2 years, he lived to be 36 years old having only passed away 8 years ago.

No one in my family complained about him. My parents literally sacrificed their lives to take care of him. And they said nothing negative, ever - not a peep.

Depression and other mental issues run strong in my family. OCD, bipolar, even schizophrenia. No complaints, no whining.

I took shots. Took, past tense; as now thankfully I woke up and tried the pump! So I deal with diabetes. Big deal.

I'm divorced, I'm diabetic, and I have a son with Down syndrome. And......????

I'm blessed.

Our readings may go hay-wire once in awhile. We may not always feel awesome. Waking up in the middle of the night is scary. Complications and the threat therein can be daunting. Counting carbs can be tiring.

But complaining about any of it will never help. Ever.

I'm blessed. And if you're able to read this, listen to it, or in any other way receive this message - so are you.

Keep pumpin'....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here's a graph I've created to illustrate the point...

Just to be clear..

It can only do so much, you know!

Monday, June 1, 2009

What I regret about choosing the insulin pump over taking shots or any other diabetes management technique


The pump will change your life in ways you cannot imagine. The fears you or your loved ones have will evaporate. The hesitations will feel like silly excuses after you make the switch. There is no good reason to at least give it a try.

I figured I'd hate it and be back to my old regimen within weeks. After 4 hours I knew that I would never go back. 4 hours. 240 minutes.

The cost was an excuse. Turns out insurance covered almost all of it, sans about $600. Knowing what I know now, even if I had to pay FULL PRICE ($7,000+) I would.

My only regret is not making the switch earlier. But the way I see it, I just added a bunch of years - good, healthy, feeling GREAT YEARS - on my life to make up for all the lost time.

I had a virtual book of excuses in my mind of why it just wasn't for me. I could not have been more wrong. I'm just like you, just like your diabetic friend, just like your diabetic cousin. Wanting to feel better, but thinking it was as good as it could be. Thinking 20 shots a day would be better than that awful tubing, and being connected all the time. Wrong, wrong, wrong! When you're not on the pump, you can't imagine what it's like, because you don't really feel that good. Even if you're A1c is o.k., you're probably on the diabetes-rollercoaster (a 250 and a 30 = a 140 average, but so do a 120 and a 160; do you think they feel the same?)

I am committed to telling everyone, everywhere that this is the most logical, sensible, and practical way to manage diabetes.

What do I regret about choosing the pump over shots?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I'm scared of

I hate to admit that I'm afraid. I try to reason it away out it out of my mind, or at least place it far enough back there that I don't have to deal with it regularly. Then there's the faith element, where I know that I have nothing to fear.

But if I'm being honest, I'd say I'm not doing too great in any of the aforementioned areas. The truth is, I am leery - no apprehensive - all right, out with it....scared.

Of what?

I am coming up on 23 years of being a type-1 diabetic. That's a looong time. The last 6+ months have been better than ever (literally), the best ever. But that doesn't negate the other 22+ years (although I wish it could). So I think of the long-term effects of high blood sugars, knowing full well that decades of highs are not beneficial to the body.....of how I THOUGHT I was doing my best, but I was coming up far short....of how the complications were non-existent, so I chose not to acknowledge them in any way.

And that's what makes me scared.

There is very little research on this topic. Many professionals agree that the body can and does recover well by controlling blood sugars. But to say that diabetes affects each diabetic the same would be lunacy. I know diabetics who managed well that experienced terrible complications early on, and others who have no control and no complications nearly 40 years in to it.

I have come to realize the fargility of life and am trying to take advantage of each moment given. I'm learning that although diabetes may be controllable, its ramifications are simply beyond my control.

I'm mostly good with that, but still a little scared.

Until next time, I'll be pumpin...

Friday, May 15, 2009

6 month review of the insulin pump

Greetings friends!

It's been 6 months (+ 5 days - but who's counting?!) since my life drastically changed due to the insulin pump. I've learned a lot about the medtronic paradigm system, and I wanted to share my review with you here.

The 'honeymoon' phase of feeling invincible wore off after a few weeks, but in general I cannot compare now to 6+ months ago. A few general observations:

-I sleep much better. I used to always wake up tired and lethargic, no matter how many hours of rest I got. Now I pop out of bed promptly at 5:15 AM daily whistling "It's a wonderful life!" Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but really I wake up feeling refreshed, and that has everything to do with the blood sugar averages thanks solely to the pump.

-I'm less moody. Again, operative word: less! All kidding aside, my overall attitude, motivation, and energy level are much higher. Irritation levels have decreased [ note: that's my irritation level of how I feel, not how much I irritate others - :) ] Why do I hear a booming, "A-MEN" coming from my wife and kids??!

-I like testing my blood sugar. 20+ years of ka-ka-me-me readings makes you a little jaded towards testing. But when you see those normal readings on a consistent basis, you start to think, "hmmm, when can I test again?!"

On to the review:

1. "Low resevoir" means I should change my set soon.
I know, I know - thanks a lot Captain Obvious! But for some reason I think of insulin as liquid gold, and treat it as such. A while back I learned that there's about 10 units of insulin in the primed tubing, so even when the pump reads "0 units left" you still have around 10. Again, I should know better. I had to learn the hard way...I ran out of of insulin (bone dry) in the middle of the night, and awoke at 511 mg/dl. Yes, I said 511. Even when my average was high 511 felt horrible - but when your average is normal, 511 feels like your worst nightmare. Lesson learned.

2. De' ja' flu
I was worried about getting sick and being on the pump. I normally get the flu every few years. Well, I got the flu this year (despite the flu shot), and it was really no biggie (see a previous post). But then, I got it again. Not quite as easy the second time around, but being really sick stresses out the body, and after a day or so I recovered fine. Having the pump actually makes it easier to control the blood sugars while sick, so that's a bonus.

3. The meter & the pump talk.
So you test your blood sugar, and moments later, "voila" your reading is displayed on the pump. Magical (actually, RFID, but still impressive). They say it works up to about 8 feet or so, but the other day I had my pump off (shower) and tested my blood in the kitchen. My pump was in the bathroom - around the corner, down the hall, in the room, take a left, through 3 doors and 2 walls. Suddenly I hear the familiar 'bzzzzz bzzzzz' and I think, "whaaat now?" I look at the pump and there it is, "113." You've got to be joking me...nope, that's how cool this stuff is.

This communication makes taking your insulin easy. And who really remembers to test 2 hours after you last ate...exactly after 2 hours? The pump and meter combo make it a cinch.

4. Dress up.
Medtronic calls them 'skins,' and it's an adhesive you can put on your pump to personalize it. Being baseball season, I now sport the Milwaukee Brewers pump. Ironically, ever since the pump and the brewers got paired, the brewers have hardly lost. Who knew the team needed the paradigm insulin pump?

5. Painless.
I can't remember the last time inserting the infusion set actually hurt. Usually it's totally pain-free, as in I cannot feel it at all. Once in a blue moon it's slightly uncomfortable, but no where near the 'muscle shot' pain. And to think you only have to change it once every 4 days (I mean, 2-3 as they recommend - lol), again: awesome!

6. Care link.
It's a usb dongle that plugs in to your computer (pc only - I've logged plenty of complaints!) that reads EVERYTHING from your pump. Every setting, blood sugar reading, insulin dose, time, carbohydrate value, correction amount, basal, and bolus. As if that weren't cool enough, you can customize a variety of charts and graphs to visually see everything that's happening with your diabetes management. You can go from a daily report up to SIX MONTHS! This tool has been invaluable to me, and helps you identify trends that you might otherwise miss. I can't endorse it more highly.

Fancy acronym for "continuous glucose monitoring system" which in English means a sensor that you wear that remotely sends your blood sugar to your pump every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day! (that's 288 blood sugars a day!!)

I tried the sensor twice before and we didn't get along well. So many stinking error messages, it caused more anxiety than anything. Now I know how to get around all the drama, and realize it's just the sensor and transmitter courting (who doesn't have a few minor issues while courting?!), it has nothing to do with the pump.

I gave it another try and absolutely love it. Well, mostly love it. See below for what I don't like, but I would definitely endorse it and think it's another great way to get tight control.

Here's my current screen...oh the bliss of the straight line (means blood sugars are steady)..

Notice the 'skin'? Brewer time. Also I have no clue what that is under the ACT button. My guess? Some Reese's Peanut Butter cup derivative...(I love having ratios that work!!)

What I don't like:

1. No back light on the meter.
An obvious design oversight. My one touch ultra smart has one, my one touch ultra has one, the one touch ping pump meter has one...the one touch ultra link does NOT. I've logged my frustration with Life Scan (one touch maker), but they have no plan to resolve the issue. When you test at night, or when out to dinner, or when driving at night, or at the get the point....YOU CAN'T READ THE SCREEN! So I use my cell phone as a light. Lame.

2. No back light on the pump buttons (halo lights).
Again, I don't know how this went unnoticed. Although the screen lights up beautifully, the buttons themselves do not. Having back lit buttons would ensure the proper buttons are being pressed. This would be an easy fix, and I'm going to photoshop a pic of what it could look like in the future.

3. Insulin delivery is slow.
You wouldn't think it would matter, but if you bolus (take your insulin) before a shower, you may have to wait a bit until you disconnect. If the delivery was faster (ala animas ping), you'd be ready quicker. Not a huge deal, just a minor preference issue.

4. Tubing options limited.
The tubing is what connects the pump and insulin reservoir to your body. The current options are 23" & 41." I use the 23" as I stay around the abdomen for infusion sites. But I could use a 6 or 9" as the pump and site are often just inches away from one another.

5. Care link log book
Although I sang the praises of care link above, the log book feature is useless. I called and made many suggestions for changes, none of which were incorporated. You need to be able to enter blood sugars and notes outside of the defined times, and you can't now. It's not very intuitive or user friendly, and I bypass it altogether.

Yes, we're happy together now. But I have to admit, it is somewhat finicky and high-maintenance. The thought of the CGMS can be better than the reality of it at times (the CGMS is generally about 20 minutes behind your actual blood sugar). However, through proper calibration and updating, you can get the numbers to be fairly uniform. The errors and hassle therein can be a drawback, but if you simply insert the sensor and connect the transmitter WITHOUT TURNING IT ON on your pump...and leave it in for at least 2 hours before turning on (doing it before bed works best), then when you turn it on, within 15 minutes or so you calibrate and you're off and running (thanks Kevin for that great tip!)

My biggest frustration is keeping it on. The sensor uses adhesive, but the transmitter does not. I've yet to find adhesive that works well for me, and I prefer none at all (although that's risky and I've learned the hard way that the sensor can become dislodged this way rendering it useless).

7. Low blood sugar symptoms
I am much less sensitive to low b/s symptoms than before the pump, because my average is so much healthier now. I still have them, just not as pronounced. Not really something to complain about, more an observation than anything. This is where the CGMS comes in handy!

One final thought....I've noticed many diabetes suppliers and manufacturers believe we hate testing our blood sugar because it hurts. Further, many pump companies think we despise taking shots. My contention is that we don't like testing when control is difficult as more a psychological issue than a physical (pain) issue. Additionally, I never thought needles were a big deal. I mean, sheesh, they're so small and narrow you can hardly feel them at all. Again, a mind (mental) issue.

For me, being on the pump isn't great because of no shots. Before the pump I thought, "I'd rather take 10 shots/day rather than be hooked up to that pump." What you can never imagine until you experience it is how it will affect your...everything.

I'm a better husband, better father, better son, better friend, better man, better child of God, better employee.....

I'm just plain better -

Because of the pump.

So get better, and get pumpin....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Diabetes Sucks

Diabetes Sucks. That is a very strong statement. Two short words, but generally those that say it have years of struggle behind it.

Lately I've encountered many fellow diabetics that have used this phrase (and some much stronger verbiage). If you know me, or have been around this blog for awhile, you know my approach. In a nutshell, 20+ years of intense high and low blood sugars - mostly high on average. Diabetes affects everything and everyone it touches (including family, friends, and loved ones), so it's been a long road for all of us.

I've been thinking about the phrase for awhile, here are some thoughts to consider:

Diabetes sucks?
Compared to what...those without it?
Do you know anyone in the grips of cancer? Parkinson's? Bi-polar disorder? AIDS? Poverty? Unforgiveness?

Diabetes sucks?
Even if that's true to you, does complaining make it any better?

Diabetes sucks?
That's a bad way to approach a disease that does not inhibit it's recipients like other debilitating diseases do. What hindrances must we face? The fear of future complications? Why would we waste time worrying about what may or may not transpire in the future? We need to do all we can do today, and tomorrow will be here soon enough.

I don't consider myself any better than anyone else. I'm not smarter, more wise, or more mature. That being said, I really don't think 'diabetes sucks.'

I think it's obvious that diabetes can be a struggle, but so can anything else. Life can be hard, and often is. But that doesn't mean we should all sit around and complain about it, because that's not going to benefit anyone.

I'm not suggesting we ought to be disingenuous or insincere, pretending everything is o.k. when it's really not. What I am saying is that we get one chance to make a difference, one chance to give it our all, so rather than focus on how hard our plight is, I think we should be grateful for the medical advances that allow us to live full, long, healthy lives. Remember, it wasn't all that long ago that type-1 diabetes was a death sentence, a time when there was no insulin to take; no pumps, no blood sugar meters, no shots - nothing.

In reality, we are living in the best time ever as diabetics. We are on the cusp of a cure, and living with diabetes has never been easier.

Diabetes sucks?

Not to me.

Until next time, I'll be pumpin...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Testing 1, testing 2....(A high low)

This morning at about 1 AM I woke up scared. I've had two low-blood sugar induced seizures in my lifetime, and one was during the night. I've also had my fair share of really bad lows - barely conscious, stumbling, bumbling, and hanging on by a thread.

Even the thought of those episodes brings a bit of anxiety to me. Historically, I've done much better (mentally) with the during-the-day low blood sugars. I know there's a psychological trigger going off at night, and yet it's still a battle for me.

Before the pump, I would wake up and eat so many carbs that my blood would be 400 or higher in the morning. I knew it was dangerous, but feeling so helpless when low, I simply refused to stop eating until I started to feel better. Part of the problem back then was that my blood sugar average was in the mid-200's, so a 60 felt absolutely horrible.

Since the pump, my blood sugar averages are 1/2 of what they used to be, and fall in the normal range now. This makes me feel (literally) wonderful! However, my blood sugar generally has to drop a little lower for me to feel it in a similar fashion as before. Not the same, mind you - the low symptoms are now much less severe.

Consequently, the over-treating for lows is primarily a thing of the past.

Notice how I said, 'primarily', and not just ...'a thing of the past?'

This morning at 1:00 AM was not my best moment. I woke up immediately (or so it felt), as if someone had yelled, 'fire.' I jumped out of bed, and my obvious symptoms of a bad low were present and getting worse:
  1. Shaky. Not outwardly, but inside, hard to explain, easy to identify.
  2. Sweaty. Always starts on my nose (weird, I know). When it's bad, my whole body perspires, and it feels like you're sitting in an internal sauna.
  3. Slight blurred vision. Just in the center of my vision, and not constant.
  4. INDESCRIBABLE HUNGRY! Famished, craving carbs and lots of them.
  5. Scared. Considering the aforementioned history, night low's are not my cup of tea.
During the day it feels like one or two of the symptoms on the list above casually crawl in, taking there own sweet (no pun intended!) time to arrive. At night it feels like the symptoms are kentucky-derby thoroughbreds charging down the stretch to see who can claim the title of 'worst symptom yet.'

I popped out of bed, adrenaline rushing, single minded to where my coveted antidote lay waiting. Pineapple juice and other delicious high sugar carbs motivate and get me there in record time. But for some odd reason, I instead reach for the milk, do 180 to the food pantry and grab the cheerios. After haphazardly pouring my cereal, I grabbed the sugar.

Cue the music, "duuuuh, da dum dum...."

Confirming my low at this point is useless, but good for keeping the overall average down. I'm just kidding there. So I set up a blood sugar test, and wait 5 seconds for the result. Five seconds,
no big deal, right?

1....Come on...
2....This takes foreeeever...
3....Seriously, my blood is already lower than the reading....
4....Can I wait annny longer?

And this morning's reading.....the blood sugar that had me so freaked out...?

What the...?? That can NOT be right!

Test again....

Ahhh, that's better. Well no, not better, it's worse. Well, not worse, but at least I know I am in fact low and truly have the right to feel super-crummy!

If you can't see the time, the top one says, 12:53 AM. Bottom: 12:53 AM! So it mut have been a bad test strip or something weird like that.

Back to the low...

I pour on the sugar (Cheerio's), and start in. Again, I normally pick the pineapple juice (from Sam's club, check it out..)

But this morning I fell back to my old ways - sugar and lots of it.

Sometime later I realized I had consumed waaaay to many carbs for the low, so before going back to bed..oh wait, I forgot to mention I also enjoyed some ripples french onion chips (see previous post)....o.k., where was I?

Waaaaaayyyyyy too many carbs. So I start figuring out how much too many and take some insulin. Even writing that is hard, because that is lame and really poor diabetes management. Zero self-control. But knowing the blood sugar is going to skyrocket if I just 'let it ride,' I take a few units.

6:30 AM wake up: 330 blood sugar - feeling as bad as ever. Arrgh. Take insulin, and get ready for a great morning!

Where? At 'Walk to cure diabetes' where I've been invited to talk about how awesome the pump is, and how it makes diabetes management easier!

Oh, the irony.

The lesson?
It's not the pump that failed, it was 'user-error!' The pump didn't give me too much sugar, I (quite willingly, I might add) did.

The pump is a necessitiy for every diabetic, I am convinced. But it will only work as well as you (and I) allow it to. It's still up to me to do my part, and early this morning, I blew it. Thankfully, every day, every meal, every moment is another chance to get it right.

Stay encouraged, do your best, and tell every diabetic you know to either start or keep pumpin...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Here's the problem...

I'm a label reader (of the nutritional variety), a/k/a a carb counter. I don't mind it at all, actually I rather enjoy it. Sure, I long for the days of just tearing in to a big pack of chips and eating them without counting how many....some of us have strange dreams I guess!

But hey, to know that I can have whatever I want and simply count up the grams of carb and bolus (take insulin) for it is awesome! Then to see that "96 mg/dl" reading two hours later, now that's just good-old-fashioned fun!!

And how hard is it? I mean seriously, everything has a label. It's the law now, so all the manufacturers have to include their info. You get to know it by heart after awhile...2 grams per ritz cracker, 11 in 5 premium saltines, 13 in a taco bell hardshell....easy-peasy.

But then the potato chip people mess up the whole process. Take a look here:

Your standard chip, right? (No offense Nacho-Cheese Dorito. You, by no means, are standard!)

But when you dig a little deeper in the bag, you're rewarded with these:
See full size image

Broken, fragments of dorito delight. These are the real keepers, because they have unusually high amounts of "cheese" coating (or whatever that dark orange stuff is).

But what are we supposed to do? Piece them together to equal one 'regular' chip? I mean seriously, it's hard enough to keep count as you're eating, now you have to do a 'dorito puzzle' to figure out how many you've actually eaten?

And even if you could somehow do that, there's this little issue:

See the problem yet? HINT: Look at the serving size....

I can figure out *around* how many chips (by piecing the shards together, Dorito-puzzle style) I've inhaled , I mean eaten, but then to have the serving size be "ABOUT 11??" Come on..

I guess I can go with 'about 11,' (to me I see...13 :) but then I have to with my ultimate (current favorite) chip:
Old Dutch: Ripples French Onion Chips, 11 oz

Just seeing the bag makes me hungry. Couple that with some Dean's French Onion Dip, and you're in chip-topia!

But check this nonsense out:

Now let's be real...which side of the 'about' are you going to favor? Not which side do you want to believe you'll use, be honest.....oh yeah - 15 (at least, right?)

So that's the problem. Even when you carb count and label read like you're supposed to, it STILL can be more of an art than science.

Hmmm, the art of potato chips, now that's a degree I would have magna cum lauded!

Keep pumpin'....