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Entries in Health (7)


It's my party, I'll reflect if I want to

Life expectancy for an American male is seventy-five, I just turned forty-two. What that means is, barring any unexpected endings, I have thirty-three years left.

Yesterday Cole and Arden took me to see a movie for my forty-second birthday, when we exited the theater it was pouring rain. I told the kids to wait by the door and I would bring the car to them. I sprinted to my car, it was perhaps seventy-five yards from the door. As I was running I passed a gentleman in his fifties, he was walking to his car and getting drenched in the process. Cole and Arden jumped in when I arrived at the door and Cole said, "You are faster then people would expect". I smiled at his kind, if not slightly backhanded shot at my weight but all I could think was, "Ten more years and I'll be that guy walking".

It's funny but after my mid twenties I never thought about my mortality once, I was carefree about my age until Arden was diagnosed just after my thirty seventh birthday. Now, everything that aches, my right knee, both of my ankles, my throwing elbow, the stiff neck I can't shake - all of it makes my think about Arden or more specifically, about Arden's diabetes. Lately, I've been extra tired. I'm not ill and nothing has changed about my schedule, I think that seven years of late nights full of blood glucose wrangling is catching up with me. Last night I tried to get some sleep. I told myself that Arden was going to be fine, gave myself permission not to sleep with one ear open and it worked great. I woke up this morning around seven thirty completely refreshed with a streak of warm sunlight on my face. The first thing that I saw when I opened my eyes was my beautiful wife. I laid in the quiet for a few minutes and thought about how pretty Kelly is and how lucky I was that she said yes on the day that I asked her to go on our first date. But that glow only lasted for a few minutes.

A muffled BEEP, BEEP rang out...

My heart sank into my stomach, that sound is the unmistakable cry of Arden's DexCom after it's fallen onto her bedroom floor. The beeping made me feel instantly sick for two reasons. First, the only way that thing could have fallen is if it had been vibrating all night and second, two beeps means Arden's BG is over 180. All night plus two beeps, equals this isn't going to be good.

I walked into Arden's room and tested her BG as she slept. The night before Arden's BG was falling before bed, she had a few slices of an orange and a cookie to combat the fall and her BG found a balance at 89. Thirty minutes later that number was 95 and her DexCom indicated that the number was drifting, ever so slightly up. I remember thinking, "Good, I'll take a 120ish number tonight, I'm exhausted". It was not twenty minutes later that I gave myself permission to pass out, and I did. I slept all night like a baby while Arden's BG slowly rose over the next two hours before it settled in at three hundred and ninety-one. I don't have words for how 391 makes me feel.

Am I too old to care for my daughter properly? Too tired, too out of shape? Have the health and food choices that I've been ignoring over the past two decades caught up to me, is this my penance for those... I haven't exercised regularly since my twenties, I hardly eat and I haven't had eight glasses of water in a day, maybe ever. Funny thing is that up until recently it didn't matter because nothing could stop me and I could power through anything. I've sat up until two, three, four, even five o'clock in the morning if that's what was required to keep Arden's BG where it should be. I've had nights like last night in the past where I slept through a DexCom alarm, but I don't think last night was a repeat of those nights. I think my age is catching up to me and even if it hasn't, how much longer until I'm that guy in the parking lot that has to let the rain soak him? How much longer until I'm exactly as fast as I look like I should be?

I've never been in great shape, never really cared about it enough to put in the time and work that fitness requires. I don't honestly know if I have it in me but I'm going to try because I can live with a belly and I may not care about a double chin, but my heart can't handle Arden's BG being 391... that beeping cuts right through to my soul.


Everyone Poops

Link is to Barnes and Noble

The Children's book Everyone Poops takes away the stigma of talking about bowl movements with your children. Both of my kids read this weird little gem when they were potty training and I hope that you did as well, because I got some shit to talk about.

The first time I thought that I was imagining things, the second time it seemed like a coincidence. I ignored the fact that Arden's BG seemed to fall after she, well, pooped. Then one day a few weeks ago Kelly mentioned it to me and last week I saw someone on FaceBook ask the question. Today, we are going to get to the bottom (pun intended and it won't be the last one) of this most vexing, strange, yet natural type I diabetes question.

Everyone poops, but is everyone's BG effected by having one in the chamber?

I'm considering making an addition to the endless questions that I ask when I can't figure out why Arden's blood glucose won't come down. In the past it was, did she eat something I don't know about, maybe I mis-calculated carbs, do we have a bad site and the rest of the usual suspects. I'm getting close to asking, "when was the last time you made a number two" to that list.

My parental detective work can only take me so far. I need help. I need to know the answers to a couple of more scientific questions that I'm hoping you may have some insight about.

  • Does our waste material still contain carbohydrates?

  • If yes, are the carbs being leached from the intestines?

  • If no, what is it about having a belly full that could raise BGs?

This is the only hypothesis that makes sense to me but I am more then willing to believe that I am, you'll excuse me for this but, full of crap. I have witnessed this oddity consistently over a long enough period of time to say that we see higher BGs when it's been awhile since a BM. Moreover, these BGs always seem to drop rapidly after the completion of a belated constitutional.

So that's it. If you've noticed this phenomenon please leave a comment and share your observations. If you haven't, please keep your eyes open and report back with the skinny (thought I was going to say poop didn't you?).


Floaters: Do they let kids name ailments now?

I never really talk about myself on Arden's Day. In my mind I mostly talk about the reactions, feelings and discoveries that I have related to living with type I diabetes. You may disagree, I may be wrong but either way, I'm going to talk about myself today.

I don't really ever get sick. I remember having bronchitis very badly once as a child, maybe around ten years old. My iron got very low once a few years ago, I ignored it forever, I'm pretty sure that the doctor thought I had cancer but it ended up being something very small and easily rectified. The thing is, I lived for nearly a year with so little iron in my system that by the time I turned up in the doctor's office he told me with not a tinge of joking in his voice, "I can't believe you can stand". I wasn't just standing, I was getting up at all hours of the night with Arden's type I, completing my tasks around the house, taking kids to sports and writing this blog. My point is that even when my body is completely taxed and then some... I keep going.

My experience with type I has taught me not to take my uncommon constitution for granted and I promised myself after the 'Iron incident' that I wouldn't ignore not feeling well ever again, if not for myself then out of respect for the lives that all of you lead.

Last week I was having a catch with Arden late one afternoon, the sky was grey and flat, we were passing the time while Cole warmed up for his baseball game. Arden has been expanding her softball skills and she is now catching fly balls that are much higher then I imagined she'd be able to handle at her age. I noticed that when I would tilt my head up suddenly to throw the ball that translucent worm shaped images would appear in my sight and then float away. Next I saw a spot do the same thing, one shape looked a lot like a DNA sequence. Varied shapes, see through but visible like when they make something 'look' invisible in a sci-fi movie. I was instantly terrified. My vision has for my entire life been 20/15. I see in contrast, color and sharpness in a way that would perhaps be indefinable to a person who needs glasses. Now suddenly I was worried that I was going blind, had a tumor or ya know, cancer...

Turns out I have floaters. No, not bits of pooh that won't go down when you flush but shapes that float through your vision. The doc says that in my case they come with age (wow was that tough to hear). I know becasue I called and made an appointment to see him exactly fifteen minutes after I noticed the shapes. I considered ignoring it to see if it would go away but then I thought that there was no way that I'd let one of my kids or Kelly ignore something like this and I called from the baseball field.

I'm writing this long tale of basically no woe because I owe my new attitude to all of you. There may be nothing more scary then hearing bad health news about your child but you all stand up bravely and hear things far worse then floaters each and every day. I do it with my children and I wanted to take this first personal opportunity to act well on my own behalf. I must say that I was proud of myself for not turning, pardon the pun, a blind eye to my situation but I'm even prouder of each and every one of you for doing the same in far more frightening circumstances.

I don't want to link to a bunch of info that I can't substantiate as accurate but I was told that floaters can occur naturally with age or they can be a sign of something far worse and serious that can be contained if caught early enough. Please seek medical attention without delay if you experience any issues with your sight. Mine, as it is described at the bottom of this page, is never to be taken as medical advice. Always contact a doctor when your health is in question.


Social Media is helping me lose weight

I have never been a thin person. I have at times considered myself fat, overweight, in shape, not too bad and an entire slew of other body and health terms. I put on weight for the first time in my life around age six and didn't return to a healthy weight until about ninth grade. That dance has continued throughout my life. My weight hit an all time high around 1998. That was the first time that I took a drastic measure to reduce my size. The diet worked great and before I knew it I looked the best that I ever had! Then we had Cole and I put half of it back on. I've been up and down ever since. I never get so heavy that I feel unhealthy but somehow I always feel better when I take off a few pounds so I know that the weight effects me poorly.

Intellectually I know that I should be leaner and I wish that I looked better but these things never seems to be enough incentive for me to maintain a constant weight. The truly odd thing about me being overweight is that I am not a food person. I don't have cravings or even get hungry very often. It took me a long time to realize that my issue was two-fold: I don't eat enough food or water (often I joke that my body thinks that we are shipwrecked and is conserving fat) and when I do eat, I put no effort into eating well (though my kids are fed very well). Even after coming to that understanding about myself... I still haven't addressed it. I did however eat two batches of Christmas cookies, one at a time, over an 18 day period last month.

I needed help but I know that I wouldn't have sought it out on my own.

About a week ago one of our friends posted on FaceBook that he needed to lose weight. In minutes the idea of a competition was suggested and a week later forty people were signed up for a weight loss contest. Everyone threw in twenty-five dollars and the 'biggest loser' will take home a cool grand. Nice idea and my wife was doing it so I joined in as well. I wasn't all that enthusiastic until I saw something happen, something that was very familiar to me because of diabetes and the DOC.

Along with the competition came a private FaceBook group. To keep things on the up and up everyone had to post a video of their initial weigh in. No one was too pleased and people spoke of dropping out to avoid making their weight public but a few intrepid souls went first and then the greatest thing happened...

People stopped feeling alone, isolated, embarrassed and the weigh in videos began to appear one after the other. Where had I seen this before? In the diabetes online community of course. It's the power of social media. Which is just a new way of saying that people need people. It's community, friendship, support, or as we love to say in the type I world... the knowledge that others are living with and surviving the same things that you are struggling with. Somehow, some wonderful somehow, once you understand that you aren't alone, everything magically gets easier.

I'm watching people that didn't know each other a week ago share things that I know they are embarrassed by. They are offering encouragement, recipes and a lot of needed contact. All of this is supporting and motivating the group. I wish that everyone could experience such community. Up until last week I thought that I would only ever feel like this when I was around the people in the DOC.

This is just another way that social media is helping me. Please share how social media and online relationships have helped you, your post may be their introduction to a much needed life change.


NEWS: Dean Clinic says diabetes patients may have been exposed to hepatitis, HIV


RON SEELY | | 608-252-6131 | Posted: Monday, August 29, 2011 4:30 pm

As many as 2,345 Dean Clinic patients may have been exposed to the bloodborne illnesses hepatitis B and C and HIV because a diabetes nurse educator reused the handles of insulin demonstration pens and finger stick devices over a five-year period, from 2006 to 2011, clinic officials said Monday.

Both Craig Samitt, Dean's chief executive officer, and Mark Kaufman, chief medical officer, described the risk as "small" because the educator, who worked out of the Dean clinics on Stoughton Road and in Sun Prairie, did not re-use actual needles.

Even so, said Kaufman, it is possible that blood from patients contaminated the bases of the re-used demonstration pens, which are supposed to be used to show how to inject insulin and aren't intended for use on people, or the plastic handles of the finger stick devices.

"We're confident the person always changed needles between uses of the devices," said Kaufman. "But even if you're changing the needle, there is the possibility that the first person's blood could come in contact with the next person's blood."

Abigail Tumpey, a spokesperson for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Protection, said Dean has consulted with that agency about the incident. Craig said the clinic has also been in touch with the state Division of Public Health. Officials with both agencies were unsure Monday whether further investigations will be conducted. 

"We would agree that the risk is small," said Tumpey. Regardless, she added, most people in such education programs expect no risk. Tumpey said the CDC works with clinics in such situations to make sure patients are notified and that their needs and concerns are met.

"The goal is more health care transparency," said Tumpey. "It is a very scary time for many of these patients."

Samitt said this was an "isolated" incident involving the single educator, who has since been fired. He declined to identify the individual. Samitt said clinic officials learned of the potential exposure on August 10 from another employee and conducted an investigation. Monday, the clinic mailed letters to all 2,345 patients to inform them that they may be at increased risk.

Also, Samitt said, a team of 25 nurses is taking telephone calls from affected individuals to determine whether they should be tested for HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS, or for either form of hepatitis, a disease that attacks the liver. He said calls were already being received Monday after stories about the possible exposure began appearing in the media.

"This is a very difficult situation for us at Dean," said Samitt. "I'd like to apologize for the concern this has caused patients and their families. We'll do whatever it takes to care for affected patients."

Kaufman said risk to individual patients depends on whether the nurse actually used one of the insulin devices on them. "Did the nurse use any sharp instrument on you? If the answer is 'No,' then there is no risk. If you don't remember, then we could assume there was a risk, no matter how small."

But Samitt said anybody who is concerned about exposure will be offered testing. He said while most of the involved patients are from Dane County, a handful from outside the county and even outside the state may have been referred to the educator. "We're casting a very broad net to include each and every patient the nurse could have seen," said Samitt.

As for how the misuse of the devices could have gone for so long without being detected, Samitt said the clinic is still trying to figure that out.

"We'd like to know the answer to that question as well," said Samitt. "This is an active investigation."

Samitt said the nurse was certified through state and federal programs, including the Association of Diabetic Educators, to work as a diabetes educator. Also, he said, the nurse went through Dean's own training program. An important part of that training, he said, is learning not to re-use the testing devices. The insulin demonstration pen, for example, is not supposed to be used on people but rather is used on oranges or pillows to show patients how to inject insulin.

"This is upsetting to us as well," Samitt said. "There is a basic standard  of care principle here."

Samitt added that it was unclear whether the nurse went through the clinic's refresher course on standard practices. He said there was apparently little oversight or evaluation of the nurse's work.

"There weren't regular, routine observations," said  Samitt.

Samitt said that in the wake of the incident the clinic is requiring staff to be retrained in the use of the devices, improving monitoring the use of the devices and also making sure that practices by clinic staff are routinely observed.

The state Department of Safety and Professional Services is also reviewing information about the case, according to John Murray, executive assistant at the agency.