Five Haunts our Halloween

Its November and for those of us living with diabetes that means Diabetes Awareness Month! What better way to start off Diabetes Awareness month than with a dreaded 5 mmol (90mg/dl) bg level.  

I have mentioned time and time again how much I truly hate that number.  Five means he could drop low or he could be perfect.  It should be a number to make me happy and if it was three in the afternoon instead of three in the morning I would be happy.  Five at 3am is NOT a good number. Its a torturous reading…perfect for Halloween I suppose. 

At 2:30 I stumbled into my son’s room.  I was tired.  I am getting used to being able to see at night thanks to a very recent iLasik procedure.  When you have not seen properly in 30+ years, it is actually something that is very hard to get used to.  The fact that I have to wear space goggles on my face that make me feel like a character from the movie The Fly does not help things. 

Has I said, all of this was topped off by a perfect, lovely reading of 5 (90).  Crap! I was going to have to try to stay awake and see where things were headed. Would he be low? Did I have basals set perfectly and he would be fine? What the heck would happen? Where is a CGM when I need it? Oh yeah, the one I want is not in Canada and my son thinks that they are a horrible idea anyway. More nightmares! 

I headed back to bed to wait.  I would simply doze for a half an hour and see where he was trending.  I haven’t been sleeping overly well lately and I am always pretty alert when I have to stay awake to retest.  This would not be a problem. 

Wrong! I woke up at 4am! What’s with that??? I went to check again not sure what I would be walking into.  This time he had dropped however slightly to 4.9 (87).  Time to shovel the glucose into him.  Not enough to make him high but enough to cover any drop that could occur.  How many tablets would that be? I guessed four of my giant rockets.  They are a little less carbs than the normal glucose tablets.  It was 4 am and I really did not want a lot of math involved at that hour.  

I began to feed my son.  He ate the first three fine.  At that point, I guess he had had enough of me and subconsciously did not want the dreaded glucose tablet hangover. He rolled over so that I could no longer access his mouth. I had to tell him to open up and take the last tablet.  I went back to sleep sure that I had avoided a crisis and hoping that I did not send him too high. 

This morning he woke up to a lovely 6 (108) and surprisingly no complaint of the taste of glucose in his mouth! What a great start to November 🙁  Where is that cure????? 

One Great Thing

What is the one thing that I do really well when it comes to diabetes? I think it has to be my ability to be a Continuous Glucose Monitoring Mom during the night. We do not have a CGM.  We do not have a My Sentry or a D.A.D.  We simply have a sleep deprived Mom and some serious guardian angels who like to kick her butt.

For years I would set an alarm clock for 3am.  I would then wake at 2am and find my son was running a little high. I would correct and sleep for another two hours. 

I would go out at night, come home and test my son only to have him sit up in bed in a zombie like state with a blood glucose reading that barely registered on his meter. Somehow I just knew to test before I did anything else.

I can go to sleep, be sound a sleep and something will wake me. I will need to use the washroom. I will have a dream of my phone ringing. I will be sound asleep, dying to stay right where I am and “something” will make me get myself out of bed.  I will stumble to my son’s room and be instantly alert when I realized that his blood glucose is low…and dropping.

I am sure that a CGM would say that I was fallable and it could do better, but I have heard that it makes mistakes too. So far, knock on wood, I have never slept through a low that caused a seizure.  My son has woken up every morning. He will ocassionally wake to his highs and has woken to one low in over 12 years.  Thankfully the Momma Monitor has only slept through the night a hand full of times. I may not get the readings right before bed. I may not bolus properly all of the time or gage the influence of activity exactly right but so far I have been able to protect my son at night, protect his body, and keep his A1c down to an acceptable range. I think that counts as “one great thing”. 

Adolescence and change

It is that time of year again, a time when I seriously start to think about a CGM for my son. I have been researching them for years. Cost has always been a huge deterrent but I have said that when he became more independent and before university it would be a must.

Today I spoke a bit with his diabetes team about the various systems. We were in agreement as to which system would work best…the one that I can’t get right now of course.

As adamant as I am about getting a system, my son is equally as adamant about not having one. He detests the idea of another site. He cannot stand the idea of carrying around the receiver. He would prefer to carry his meter and test when he feels he needs it.

I tried to tell him that he could safely miss more tests with a sensor.  I would still have data and trends that could be used.  I would be able to rest at nights with the knowledge that he is stable or his readings are headed up from a lower range.  He would not necessarily have to test in front of his friends. He still wants no part of it.

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how to convince him that it can work. Using it may be the best solution but it is not something that anyone has laying around for me to try him with. He is of an age when he can have a say and it kills me. I appreciate the independence but the stubborn “I will not try anything new. I am still alive with the old way.”  attitude kills me.

What hurts me even more is when I read stories like I saw today.  The tale of young Matthew Calderon.  He was diagnosed at age 2 just like my son.  He played basketball and after a night of play, had a seizure and died.  In other words, he went low and never recovered. 

I try not to read these stories. I cannot think that this could be my child but I also know that technology can help to save lives. It is not perfect. It can fail but it can also help.  It can only help if it is used. It can only be used if you can afford it. If you can afford it, it can still only be effective if you wear it. 

I desperately want my son to wear it. I want him to appreciate the benefit. I want to change his stubborn attitude. It scares me for the future. I pray that this is disgruntled adolescence after a week that did not go his way.  I pray that he will be open to keeping himself as healthy as he possibly can.  

Where has all of the new technology gone?

Is it just me? Have I been in the game too long? Am I no longer in the loop like I once was?

This year brings our 11th anniversary of living with diabetes. Not nearly as much fun as a wedding anniversary but its better than the anniversary of my son’s death.  When we first started down this road I was steadily finding something new.

We started on a “new” rapid acting insulin–Humalog.  Soon after, there was Novolog (or NovoRapid for those of us north of the US border).  After that we saw long lasting, peakless insulins like Lantus and Levemir.  We were the first patients that my son’s doctor ever prescribed Lantus for and he was pumping at the time (Mom wanted to have some “just in case”).

We started on an AccuChek meter that required at least 30 seconds to read and people were grateful for this “speed”.  Soon meters were showing up that required 15 and finally 5 seconds to read.  The blood required was no longer a vial per test but a pinhead sized drop.  It seemed that every week there was a new and better meter to try. 

Insulin pumps were also changing on a daily basis.  Smart pumps were coming on the market and everyone was getting into the game.  There were four companies at least to chose from and everyone wanted your business so they each had features that made you take notice.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring was still something done with hospital equipment and a blinded machine but the GlucoWatch and rumours of more were coming.

Fast forward to 2011–We are still using the same meter we have had for the past three years.  We have the same pump that we started my son out on 8 years ago (it has upgraded slightly) and fear when we have to look at a “new” pump because it will not be as good as the current “Green Machine”. There are three CGM systems available in the US but none of them are within reach of those of us without insurance.

We are fortunate that our province has an insulin pump program and as long as we live here (or until my son turns 25) he will have his pump and supplies covered.  They also will cover his rapid insulin because it is a must for his pump.  CGM systems remain a dream that must somehow become a reality before he heads off to university but that is a few years yet thankfully.

So am I out of the loop? I know that there are OmniPods and talk of micro-pumps have been in the works for well over five years but these things are not new and no longer excite me.

Am I just getting bored or not spending as much time researching as I once did? I looked forward to the advances in technology.  New meters were collected and used with serious scrutiny. There were better insulins and everything seemed to be moving forward at a breakneck pace. 

Today things seem slower.  There is still “cure” talk but I have grown calloused to such chatter. There is work on closing the loop but again, its not now and its not something I can put my hands on.  

I miss new gadgets and things that made me think that I was doing better by my child.