Pump, polish, and pockets

Yesterday I asked a complete stranger to pull something out of the front pocket of my jeans.

As strange as that sounds, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. It started when I pulled into the parking lot on my way to get a manicure. I checked my blood sugar. It was around 110 with an arrow pointing downward. I should have taken that arrow as a warning, but with very little active insulin, I figured it would even out and all would be fine.

It was about half way into the manicure when my pocket started to vibrate. It was my CGM alerting me to a low blood sugar. It vibrated 3 times and stopped. I sat there thinking what to do. The thing with this pump, it does not like to be ignored. It will give you three rounds of vibrating before then making an audible noise, a few short musical notes. The audible notes are a more polite way to say, please acknowledge me, you’re low. But if it continues to be ignored, as in you don’t click the appropriate buttons to clear the warning, it will go into a full blown loud alarm sound. Don’t get me wrong, this is a useful feature, especially in the middle of the night when you may sleep through the vibrating and the notes, but it is a little bit obnoxious and embarrassing when you’re in a small, quiet nail salon.

I was on to the audible notes now, knowing quite well what was coming next. I debated waiting it out, or playing it off like “yea I don’t know what that sound is” but it was clear that my nails were not close to being done and it would be pretty obvious that the loud noise was coming from me.

So at the next sound of my pump, I looked awkwardly at the nail technician and said, “Do you mind getting something out of my pocket? It’s going to start making a lot of noise.” The woman didn’t even hesitate, just leaned over and pulled it right out, which made me wonder if this type of thing happens more often than I thought, retrieving items from customers’ pockets who have wet nails. Either way, my pump was safely out of my pocket and I was able to silence the alarms. My pump said my blood sugar was 78, low enough to alarm, but knowing myself and the fact that I didn’t feel low, I knew I could wait the 10 minutes to treat it. The woman finished my manicure and I put my pump back into my pocket.

I think next manicure, I’ll keep my pump out of my pocket and on my lap…just in case.




I feel like my back and shoulders always hurt. There are a lot of reasons for this: my posture, the way I sleep, my workouts, sitting at a desk all day…but I’m also convinced it’s because I constantly carry around a heavy purse. I’ve always been envious of the people who can fit everything they need into a tiny bag, a small clutch, or even just their pockets. That’s never been possible for me. I never go anywhere without having a stash of fruit snacks with me in case of a low blood sugar. And then I also carry around my glucose meter. I’ve learned to always be prepared so throw in an extra bottle of test strips, a battery for the pump, a couple syringes and an insulin vial…just in case! And if I’m already carrying all of that, then I definitely have room for my wallet, keys, phone, a lip gloss…you get the idea.

I am tethered to my purse. I constantly ignore comments like “you can leave your purse, you won’t need anything.” But I might! What if I go low?

I am tethered to my pump. The cord physically connecting my body to a medical device at almost all times.

And I’m probably emotionally tethered to my phone, but that’s for another time.

Which makes the few moments of untethered freedom even more satisfying. Like taking a shower. Or going for a run.

I’m not a distance runner, the most I run is 2 or 3 miles at a time, so I made the decision to disconnect from my pump and leave my meter at home for those 30 minutes. While I still carry my fruit snacks, phone, ID and keys, this is probably the least amount of stuff I ever carry while being away from home.

I don’t know if it was the endorphins from running or the lightness of having little to carry, but recently on a run, I had a sudden euphoric moment. “I feel so free!” I thought to myself as I bounded down the sidewalk. There was no pump clipped to my pants threatening to fall off with every step, weighing down my leggings. There was no strap around my shoulders or back connected to a bag holding all my supplies, adding weight and pain to my body. It was liberating.

But then reality set in. My body started to feel shaky and weak, my head started to feel dizzy. My legs continued to propel me forward, but they felt numb and disconnected from my body. I was experiencing a low blood sugar. It was a cruel reminder that I’m truly never free from my diabetes. I can leave my medical devices and all the supplies at home, but I can’t run away from my broken pancreas. The timing of the low right after relishing my “freedom” made me laugh at the irony of that moment, “You got me, body! That was a good one, you son of a bitch.”


I remember when I was first diagnosed, the doctor said to me, you’re going to know your body extremely well, better than a lot of people who don’t have diabetes know their own bodies. She was referring to the fact that diabetics are constantly attuned to how they’re feeling, and noticing if anything feels different or off. Not to say that other people aren’t also aware of how their body feels and reacts. But over time, you get to know yourself and your body so well that you can pretty accurately guess what your blood sugar will be before checking.

Most of the time, I’m pretty in sync with my body and how I’m feeling. “I think I’m dropping low” usually is followed by the buzzing of my pump telling me that this is in fact true. But there are occasions when this balance gets out of whack. And when it does, it’s definitely a disorienting experience, when how you’re feeling doesn’t match to what you’re used to. This has happened to me a few times recently.

The most recent example happened this week. I was on my way to speak on an alumni panel for the undergrad psych department for students interested in the field of public health, talking about my career path and how I use my psych degree in my work. Although I’ve done some public speaking arrangements, I still get anxious before hand. As I walked towards the building, I could feel my heart pounding, my hands sweating. “Am I nervous or am I low?” It’s a question I was used to asking, I remember having the same feeling before job interviews or big presentations. I checked my CGM, it was right around 100. Just nerves.

I’ve learned that any time I use my inhaler, after about 10-15 minutes, my body starts to feel like it’s low. My hands get shaky, my heart beats faster. The first few times it happened I was convinced I had low blood sugar, it was the only time I had experienced the same symptoms so suddenly. But when I checked my blood sugar, it wasn’t low. Now I know to expect this, but even so, it’s still a confusing feeling.

Sometimes in my bootcamp exercise class, when the workout is extra intense, there’s this moment where I have to ask myself, am I struggling because I’m tired and this is a difficult workout or am I low and lacking the energy I need for this? I always stop and check my blood sugar. Usually I am in fact low, or dropping low, but sometimes my blood sugar is fine, and it’s just an exhausting and challenging workout. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Finally, usually a tip off that my blood sugar is high is when I have to go to the bathroom more often than usual. So when this happens for other reasons like too much coffee or staying extra hydrated, the thought always crosses my mind: Is this normal or is my blood sugar high?

I definitely think that being familiar with how your body typically feels and reacts is beneficial for anyone. It can help you know when something is wrong sooner if you’re paying attention and it can help you make adjustments if you notice that your body is reacting poorly to something you’re doing or eating, for example. But it’s impossible to be correct 100% of the time, which is why I’ve learned to anticipate situations like the ones above where what I feel might not reflect my actual blood sugar. Then at least if I am wrong, I’m not caught completely off-guard.

Dblog Week 2017 Day 4- What Brings Me Down

Diabetes Blog Week

What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?

Like most things in life, I think it’s pretty difficult to completely separate the emotions from an event. Pretty much everything about dealing with diabetes is emotional, just to varying degrees. And those emotions not only change over time, but also day to day, even hour to hour. When I was first diagnosed, poking my finger to check my blood sugar was the most agonizing process, there were tears and tantrums. Now I don’t even think twice. Some days I don’t even bat an eyelid at a high blood sugar, other days I get really upset and frustrated.

And sometimes, there are so many different emotions involved in a single event. Let’s take a look at an episode that happened last week.

Here’s what happened with all the emotion removed:

My blood sugar dropped to an objectively low number. My body experienced certain physiological symptoms for a finite amount of time. After 15 minutes, my body returned to normal functioning.

Now let’s add the emotion back in:

It was the guy I’ve been dating’s birthday. We were hanging out in his apartment after a nice celebratory night out when I started to feel low. I ate some fruit snacks. But 10 minutes later I wasn’t feeling any better, in fact I was feeling worse. I checked my blood sugar, 33. I stared at the number. “Uh oh. Not good. Not good. This is not good.” The low seemed to suddenly hit me full force. I got off the couch and laid flat on my stomach on the floor. For some reason I find the hard ground comforting during extreme lows. Looking back, I realize this was probably a very strange and maybe slightly alarming action for someone to witness who has never been around someone with a very low blood sugar before.

“What do you need?” The concern was clear in his voice.


Image result for frita batido churroWe had stopped at a local restaurant that gives you a free churro on your birthday and had saved it for later. Typically I use fruit snacks to treat my lows, but in this low stupor, I clearly had one thing on my mind.

Churro in hand, he got down on the floor next to me, holding it as I took greedy bites. I remember mumbling about how good it tasted, even cold. “Stop talking, keep eating.” Gladly. At some point, I remember saying “I’m not going to pass out, but if I do, call 911.”

As I laid there waiting for the churro to work its magic, the emotions hit. Here we were trying to have a nice celebratory birthday evening and I probably had just scared the shit out of this poor guy. “I’m really sorry.” I was. This wasn’t how I wanted to be spending his birthday, or really any day for that matter. Then the insecurities. What if I scared him off, what if he decides he doesn’t want to deal with this? Or me? Then the frustration of just having such a bad low and feeling truly awful and wanting to feel better already. Then the gratitude of realizing I’m with someone who will get down on the floor next to me and hold me during my lows.

After 15 minutes, the low fog began to fade away and I started to feel better. And the night went on, life goes on.

The version of this story with no emotions is so much simpler and straightforward and yes, sometimes I do wish I could remove the emotions from managing my diabetes. But the emotions also serve a purpose. They remind us what’s important, they spur us to take action, and they can bring us closer to those around us.


Read more posts on this topic from other diabetes bloggers here.

Foster dog and self-care

My family is a dog family. My whole life, we’ve always had a pet dog, the same breed actually- a soft coated wheaten terrier. But with a family pet, the responsibility was shared amongst everyone in the family, often mostly falling on my parents. Besides family vacations, you could always count on at least one person being around to take care of the dog. The care of a family dog rarely rested solely on one person.

Working full time at home, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to become a foster home for a dog. Basically I would be giving a dog a much needed break from the often stressful shelter, and in exchange, he would keep me company.

So this is Levi. And he’s been great! But this is the first time in my life that another living being is fully dependent on me and my care of him. He’s not a family pet, he’s solely my responsibility. And while he’s pretty low maintenance and independent and is still a dog and not a human baby for example, taking care of Levi has made me more aware of taking care of my own needs and my diabetes.

If you’ve ever been on a plane, you know that if in an emergency, you secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others, including children. When you’ve constantly put the needs of your children before your own, this may at first seem like a selfish act, but the truth is, you can’t be there for others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

So here’s the situation. Levi is anxious to get outside, it’s clear that he needs to go to the bathroom. I live upstairs so to take him out means bundling up for the cold, putting on the leash, and walking around the apartment complex until hes done his business. Sometimes this is a quick process, other times not so much. Levi is making his needs very clear and as his caretaker, he’s dependent on me. But at this exact moment, my blood sugar is crashing. I’m shaking, lightheaded, feeling weak. I quickly take some fruit snacks, but they still take 10-15 minutes to work before I feel better. Do I make Levi wait?

This situation is new to me. But I know it will be common place in my future when I have kids of my own. As a parent, you often put your children’s needs before your own. But as caring for Levi is showing me, sometimes you have to put your oxygen mask on first. So I made Levi wait until I felt well enough to walk outside with him. After all, how can I care for him if I pass out from low blood sugar?

Self-care isn’t selfish. This phrase first struck me because although I completely agree, I realized that we are often made to feel guilty for taking the time to take care of ourselves. It can be seen as indulgent or a luxury. But self-care is essential. When you don’t take the time to care for yourself and your own needs, what you do give to others is less than your best. You run on empty, emotionally and physically. When you take care of yourself, you are better able to take care of others.

As I write this post on #SelfCareSunday in the second week of January, a time when New Year’s resolutions are fresh in people’s minds, I encourage you to think about your own self-care, and what you can do for yourself that will in turn, help you better serve others.

Balancing bouquets and blood sugar

You know that feeling you get when you forget your phone? It’s that uncomfortable, anxious, itch that leaves you feeling like a little piece of you is missing. Well this past weekend, I experienced a similar feeling, but it wasn’t my phone that I was without, it was my all my diabetes supplies.

This past weekend was my first experience being a bridesmaid in my friends’ wedding. What an incredible experience it was! The wedding was so beautiful and I was honored to be a part of it. But one piece I did have to think and plan ahead of time was what I would do in the event that my blood sugar dropped low during the ceremony. You see, the 20-30 minute ceremony was the only part of the night where I wouldn’t have immediate access to my purse and thus my meter, CGM, and fruit snacks. I had no pockets or place that I could easily access to put my fruit snacks. And it’s not that I haven’t gone that amount of time being away from my supplies, it was more the fact that I would be standing in front of a crowded room of people, lined up among the bridesmaids. Granted, everyone would be looking at the bride and groom and not me if I did have to step away and treat a low, but I really didn’t want to cause any type of disruption or set myself apart from the rest of the bridal party. I wanted it to be perfect for my friends.

imageBut part of having type 1 diabetes is always being prepared for an emergency and always putting your health first. So I was determined to come up with a solution.  My plan was to keep my blood sugar a little elevated during the ceremony, just to be safe. However that did not work as planned. Instead, I was fighting sky high blood sugars all during the day, so there was a very real possibility that it could crash during the ceremony, despite my best efforts. I thought about hiding the fruit snacks in my bouquet, but the beautiful arrangement wasn’t able to adequately conceal them. The final solution: I took a plastic baggie and dumped the pack of fruit snacks in it. I knew the plastic bag would be less crinkly than the wrapper. Then I folded down the edges of the bag so I could easily reach in for a gummy. Finally, I scrunched the bag as small as I could and held it in my hand, hidden within my grip on my bouquet of flowers. You couldn’t see them, but I felt secure knowing my fruit snacks were with me if worse came to worse. After all, it’s probably better to sneak a fruit snack during the ceremony than to pass out from low blood sugar  ;-).

Luckily I did not need my fruit snacks and the ceremony went perfectly. They don’t tell you when you’re diagnosed that you’re going to end up doing a lot of creative problem solving to make your diabetes fit your life. But not matter the situation, diabetes may be an extra consideration, but it will never stop you from living the life you want.

A visit from Low Monster

I had a rough night last night.

Sometime in the middle of the night I could hear a loud beeeeep beeeeeep beeeeep coming from my purse, but I thought it was part of my dream. When I finally woke up and looked at GiGi, all it said was LOW, too low for the number to display. I immediately ate a pack of fruit snacks and tested my blood sugar. It was 42.

That’s when the hunger set in. This ravenous hunger, fueled by an evolutionary response to the body’s lack of sugar. In my half asleep, low state, I got up and headed for the kitchen.

Let me give you a glimpse into what was going through my head. At this point, my mind seemed to split into two distinct personalities: there was the irrational, hunger driven side, we’ll call it the Low Monster. Then there was the health-conscious, rational, concerned voice, we’ll call this side Reason.

The time: 1 am

The place: the kitchen

Low Monster: You’re low! Need sugar! There’s the cookie you hid from yourself. Find the cookie!

Reason: Well, I guess that’s okay, but just have half of it.

Low Monster: Takes a bite. Pauses. Eats other half of cookie.

cookie monster eating sesame street cookie


RuPaul's Drag Race no rupauls drag race what rupaul

Low Monster: I’m still hungry!! I need more!

Reason: Okay, okay. Skinny Pop popcorn, that’s pretty healthy and pretty low in carbs. I’ll find my smallest bowl and fill it up so I don’t go overboard.

Low Monster: Finds smallest bowl. Takes a handful of popcorn and puts it in the bowl. Takes another handful of popcorn and puts it directly in mouth. Adds another handful to the bowl while simultaneously eating another handful.  

eating orange is the new black oitnb stuffing susan fischer

What?? I filled the bowl…

Reason: Ughh really? Was that necessary? Are we done now?

ryan reynolds ugh annoyed eye roll

Low Monster: I’m really hot, why am I so hot? I think I just need a few frozen grapes to cool off.


veep seriously dont

Low Monster: Too late.

oops dr house tvshow

Reason: Well I probably didn’t need all the extra food I just ate, I should give just a little bit of insulin so my blood sugar doesn’t sky rocket.

I finally made it back to bed and eventually fell back asleep. Three hours later I heard it again, beeeep beeeeep beeeep. Sure enough I was low again. I obviously didn’t need the extra insulin I had given. I treated that low with fruit snacks and tried to fall back asleep.

I’d like to say that this was the end of the lows for the day, but over the course of the next 12 hours, I would go low 5 times. Luckily, Low Monster seemed to have stayed asleep and these subsequent lows were treated with a little more Reason and decorum.


Some days are good. Others not so much. But luckily tomorrow is a new day. Hopefully with a few less lows.

Yoga high…and low

I walked down Main street with my yoga bag slung across my shoulder, already sweating in the evening heat. About 6 weeks ago I started taking a weekly yoga class after work. I snuck a peek at my CGM, it read 153, a comfortable number to be starting to exercise. I arrived at my yoga studio and removed my sandals, stuffing my bag including my CGM into the small cubbby and grabbed a pack of fruit snacks just in case of a low.

While I’m not new to yoga (my mom is a certified yoga instructor), I have never had much of a consistent practice. My choice of exercise has always been more cardio based: tennis, bike riding, boot camp classes, cycling, etc. There’s always the chance of dropping low while exercising, and it’s happened during all those activities. But there’s enough movement and noise with those exercises that treating a low can often go unnoticed by those around me.

yogaI’m not embarrassed to treat a low. I do what I have to do. But at the same time, I don’t like to be disrupted or disrupt those around me. Every time that I made it through yoga without dropping low, I would breathe a secret sigh of relief. It’s just yoga is so quiet, so calm. I don’t want my CGM breaking the silence of a meditative moment or the crinkle of my wrapper interrupting someone’s flow.

In the tiny one room studio, mats and bodies lined the floor like sardines packed neatly in a can. I rolled out my mat, careful to leave a respectful distance between me and the woman lying next to me. I set my fruit snacks at the corner of my mat, giving into a brief moment of insecurity where I picture everyone wondering why I have candy out in class. “Just focus on yourself, don’t worry about anyone else.” This is a yoga class after all, let it go.

The class was a blend of different positions. Although not too strenuous, I could feel the sweat forming as I attempted to hold each posture with good form. After ending with some twists, we made our way to our backs for savasana, or corpse pose. My legs  and arms out straight, I closed my eyes, feeling the meditative chants of the music reverberating through my body. My breathing became deep and full as every muscle in my body slowly began to relax. Fleeting thoughts danced in and out of my consciousness. I started to feel this strange sensation in my body. I felt heavy, yet electrified. Something is happening. “This is it,” I thought. “I must be having a transcendent experience.” 

And then I heard it. Buzz Buzz Buzz. Beeeeeep Beeeeep Beeeeeep. That feeling I was experiencing was nothing other than a sneaky low blood sugar. The still silence of savasana was broken by my CGM buzzing and beeping in the background. Even though no one knew those sounds belonged to me, I could feel my cheeks flush with embarrassment. Thankfully just in that moment the instructor began to stir the class back to seated position to end the class. I got up and checked Gigi: 52. I opened and ate the fruit snacks.

So I ended up experiencing the diabetic low instead of a yogi high. But it was a good reminder to myself that it doesn’t matter if its the middle of a yoga class or a presentation at work, there are moments when your health is more important. Just as yoga teaches, it’s about accepting what you can’t change and letting go of what you can’t control and instead focusing your energy into living in the now and being your best self.