Check

I haven’t written in forever. So here’s an update.

I trained, and trained, and trained for the half marathon. The longest I ran before race day was 8.5 miles. I got sick with two separate week-long illnesses (one cold and one flu) during training. I hoped that the excitement and flow of race day would get me though. And it did! That and having Emily and Matt my cousins, and my bff Suzi at my side. Emily and I ran the entire thing together. I would have finished by myself, but I wouldn’t have done it before they officially closed the course. At the 7 or 8 mile mark, Suzi sped-the-heck up and went for gold. Matt stayed with one of our group-mates, Ayla, while she slowed down. Emily and I toughed it out together, walking the hills and running the straights with our identical buzz cuts.

I could tell tell Emily started to struggle at mile 10. The only thing that hurt for me was my arms, where the insides were chafing against my sports bra. No side ache, no knee or foot pain, so I couldn’t really complain. I did my best to coach Emily to mile 12 with my brand of running ‘coping methods.’ I had us run to certain signs, count our strides, and provided ample words of encouragement. We walked approximately 1-2 total miles between miles 9 and 12. I really wanted to run the last mile. I didn’t know if I could get Emily there myself, so I asked Matt to talk us through the last 1.1 miles. He did a great job. He extremely encouraging without pushing us to the limit.

Matt, Emily, and I crossed the finish line together. It was a great feeling. My time was 2:47. Here are all of my other stats. Also proof that I finished. It made me a little sad to see that out of 1154 runners, I finished 1121. That’s ahead of a whole 33 runners. It doesn’t count the people that didn’t finish at all (which I estimate at 30-50 people), or the people who finished after the 3:00 hour mark (which was maybe another 10-25). But it’s still a little embarrassing.

Here is the progression of half-marathon goals from January to race day:
1. Finish it by any means possible.
2. Run more than half of it.
3. Finish in under 3 hours and 30 minutes.
4. Finish in under 3 hours (when I found out that the official course was closed at the 3 hour mark).

I achieved goal #4 which means I achieved all of the other goals. This was all after waking up on Friday morning with a sore throat. I consumed my body weight in Emergen-C (which didn’t do anything at all) and hopped myself up on DayQuil, pseudoephedrine, and Vitamin I (a.k.a. ibuprofen) on the morning of race day. I felt fine/normal during the race, but rapidly declined in health afterwards.

I was extremely sore and felt a general sense of malaise for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday. On Monday I knew something was wrong when, in the evening, I got a major case of the chills. My temperature topped out at 103 degrees on Monday night. I had the flu. I’m glad it didn’t keep me from running the race, but it was the 4th time I’ve been sick this school year (which is how anyone who works at schools counts the number of times they get sick).

I can’t say I ever want to run a half marathon again, but if the cousins would be down, I’d do the same race again next year. We had a Grade A group of cheer-er-on-ers. Mama Linda, Papa Paul, auntie Laura, uncle Frank (also race day photographer) sister Beth, cousins Maggie and NIck, friend Jenny, and wiener dogs Pippa and Nico cheered us on at 4 (or 5?) different points on the course. It was awesome.

I’ve had no knee or back pain, which is common among the runners in my family, but am experiencing some plantar fasciitis type symptoms in my right outer-heel. I feel a bruise-like pain toward the outside of my inner heel in the mornings. It goes away after 5-10 minutes of walking around, but is back the next morning like clockwork. I am also experiencing some bruise-like pain on the top of that same foot, which probably has something to do with the tendons. I’m resting it–hard. I haven’t run or engaged in any strenuous activity since the race on April 17th. I’m going to give it 6 full weeks before I think about taking up running again.

Diabetes wise–here is low down.
I woke up on race day at 179, which was good. I ate greek yogurt with berries and granola. I only bolused for the carbs–not to correct the 179. I completely suspended my insulin for the entire duration of the race (3 hours). 10 minutes after finishing, my blood sugar was 116.

I resumed my regular basal program about 30 minutes after the race’s end, thinking my sugar would continue to drop. I went home and took a 2 hour nap. When I woke up I was at about 389. I corrected, ate lunch and bolused for the carbs. I went back to sleep, and when I woke up the second time, I was at 410. I gave an actual injection of insulin and started consuming lots of water. It eventually came down into the 250s, and by the time I went to bed was back down in the 100s. I think the stress hormones and all the other chemicals in my body had something to do with the major rebound afterward. Next time (if there is one), I will be watching far more closely after the race. I had more fear that I would go low, but I knew there was a good chance I’d end up high.

I’m still alive and kicking, and looking forward to achieving the next goal I set for myself.
Whatever that may be.

OmniPod Adhesive Update #3

It’s probably a little early to report the results of an experiment submitted by a reader, Donna, to curb the skin reaction caused by the adhesive on the pods, but so far so good…

Donna posted a comment on my OmniPod Adhesive Update post saying that she had found a way to prevent the contact dermatitis! A nurse told her to apply a water soluble corticosteroid to the skin before putting on a pod. The water soluble corticosteroid of choice? FLONASE (Or any generic equivalent)! Yes. That stuff that you sniff in your nose to help with allergies.

As fate would have it, I’m allergic to my wiener dog, and already have myself a prescription for fluticasone. Before going ahead and using a steroid on my skin, I consulted a doctor who is a family friend. She gave me the go-ahead. So I tried it, and the result was magical.

I spritzed the fluticasone on my skin and waited until it was dry. Then I applied a new pod. The pod was on for 2.5 days. No issue with reduced stickiness. I would estimate the reaction was reduced by 80-90%! It was completely comfortable for the whole duration. I pulled the pod off today after my shower and there was no severe reaction like before. My skin used to look and feel like a giant mosquito bite. Not this time!

This really is a Christmas miracle! (And totally makes up for the Christmas Eve miracle that wasn’t a miracle at all).
Thank you, Donna!

OmniPod Adhesive Update #2

In the last two months, I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different techniques and topical creams to quell the intense discomfort that the pod adhesive causes my skin. Now that the air has turned dry in Minnesota, the contact dermatitis is very scaly as it heals.

I’ll cut to the chase. The best method I for caring for and treating the dermatitis is as follows:
1. If possible, remove the pod after a warm shower when the adhesive is water-logged.
2. Don’t wash the area with soap. Cetaphil types might be okay, but I haven’t tried them.
3. After the area is relatively dry, apply thick layer of lotion with Shea Butter. Rub gently, but let most of it absorb on it’s own.
4. Re-apply a thick layer each day thereafter until healed.

My sites were taking up to 10 days to fully heal, and now it’s down to 3-5. I’ve just been using Bath & Body Works Body Cream. Simple as that. Nothing too expensive, nothing medicated. Previous to this, I tried: alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), hydrocortisone cream, triple antibiotic ointment, and petroleum jelly, all in varying amounts. Nothing heals it like plain old Shea Butter!

Screamers

Sometimes, for whatever reason, a pod will malfunction and emit a constant high-pitched alarm . Most of the time the PDM responds and tells me something like, “Insulin Delivery Stopped. Change Pod Now.” Once I acknowledge it, the PDM is supposed to tell the pod to stop alarming–or as I call it, screaming.

Well, sometimes the PDM can’t tell the pod to shut up–probably because the pod is just in way too much distress. So the PDM says, “I’m ready for a new pod. Are you ready for one?” and the old pod just keeps screaming away.

There aren’t a lot of options to get it to stop. When it is wintertime, I chuck it into the snow for 2 months. I’ve tried the freezer, but it either isn’t cold enough, or the pods are too dang tenacious. I put one pod in the freezer for 2 days, and it stopped, but no less than 5 minutes after I removed it from the cold, it started up again.

I’ve also tried throwing the pod repeatedly at the ground. That is also not an effective silencer. The other option I’ve read about is prying the pod open and removing the batteries. I’ve actually never tried this, but the next time one goes off, I’m going to town with a screwdriver.

Site AHA

If you’re grossed out by medical stuff, please read no further.

In the past couple months, I’ve had some minor infections at my pod sites. I always use IV prep pads at the site before putting on each pod. I know I’ve got an infection when I feel a dull pain at the site 12-24 hours after I put on a pod. The pain level increases if I press on the pod or bump it on something. When I take the pod off, there is usually a small bump/welt at the site and also a little puss.

I always vary my pod sites, but when I get an infection on an arm, I don’t like to put a new pod on that arm until it’s completely healed over. I only really wear pods on my arms and the left side of my back (there are absorption issues on the right side). I have researched pump site infections and most of the information says, “GO TO YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY YOU MIGHT DIE.” I haven’t really found any posts about minor infections or the best way to treat them (bandaid vs. open air, antibacterial salve vs. just washing with soap and water).

The most successful treatment for these minor infections for me has been pretty simple. I always remove the pod as soon as I feel the infection starting. I wash the site with soap and water. Sometimes it’s an antibacterial hand soap, other times it is just the Dove bar soap I use in the shower. Once the site has dried completely, I apply a small amount of AHA+ (glycolic acid) from Acne.org. I use the ‘regimen’ and always have AHA+ on hand. I have also used a small amount of Amlactin (lactic acid) on the site. It stings/burns a little when I’m applying it to the infected area, but afterwards it usually feels just fine. I do not cover the site after applying the AHA+.

Each morning and evening I wash it and reapply until the infection has healed. I would say the sites are 90-100% healed within 24-36 hours. I have never had any complications from these infections, but it is not to say that an small infection could not get worse over time. I have never had mine worsen, and if they did, I would get medical attention for it. I am not a doctor, so if you’re infection hurts more than a well-scratched mosquito bite–go ahead and consult your medical professionals!

When I have a site infection, I notice that my blood sugars run higher. It’s probably got to do with the antibodies and the infection interfering with the ability for my body to absorb the insulin subcutaneously. If I move the pod to a new site, my sugars usually go back to typical levels within a couple hours.

Pod Alarm

Tonight while on the treadmill, my pod started flipping out. It was on my arm, and it started to do it’s screamy high-pitched constant alarm noise. I consulted my PDM on what was the matter, but it said it couldn’t get a status from the pod. Something foul must have happened. I pulled it off (as it was kaput) and thought that it might stop alarming once it was off. No cigar. That bugger just kept screaming.

I banged it on the desk a couple times. Kept alarming. I thought knocking it out with a hammer, but considered the ion lithium batteries inside. I decided upon burying it the snow just outside the back garage door. Hopefully it’ll freeze up and die in an hour or so seeing as how it is exactly 0 degrees Fahrenheit out there.

A peaceful way to go on Christmas, I thought.

Hot Tubbing

Thank goodness I asked about hot tubs at my last appointment with the nurse educator. She informed me that the danger of sitting in a hot tub while wearing a pod is not that the pod glue will melt off of my body, but that the insulin could end up “boiling” which I assume isn’t a good thing. Everyone knows a hot tub doesn’t get hot enough to boil anything (unless you put a lot of effort into creating a hot tub cauldron), but I understood her danger warning.

I am going to a party on Saturday evening that will involve hot tubbing. What will I do? Wear the pod on my arm, and sit so my bicep is out of the water. This is the plan. However, if that doesn’t work, then…I’m going to boil some insulin. Because hot tubbing is very important.

Unexpected

I have a bunch of unused AccuCheck test strips and am trying to use them up before starting to use the Freestyle strips that go with the OmniPod. I just manually enter the AccuCheck readings into the PDM. Lately, I have been keeping my AccuCheck test strips in the Freestyle strip bottle since it fits nicer in the OmniPod carrying case. Howver, I learned today that this was a terrible idea.

For the past few weeks the AccuCheck Aviva strips that have been giving me pesky E-1 errors. I have tested up to 4 or 5 times to try to find a strip that would work. I replaced the battery and reset the machine.

Today at my appointment, my nurse educator suggested that it could be a result of having kept them in the Freestyle bottle. In fact, not only this somehow make some strips “error” but it must have ruined the integrity of the strips.

After the appointment, I took out a fresh second bottle of 50 strips. Aviva strips come in boxes of 100. I moved 50 to the Freestyle bottle, and kept in the original AccuCheck bottle. Both lots of strips had the same coding number/chip.

I tested with a completely new and fresh strip (one that had never been in the Freestyle container) and my blood sugar read 145. I then went and tested with an Aviva strip kept the Freestyle container and it tested 195. I did it a second time with the ‘contaminated’ strips and I tested at 185. Went back to the fresh strips and was 151. That’s quite the spread. YIKES!

This means that for the last few weeks that my readings have probably been rather inaccurate. My nurse educator, Chris, made some changes to my my bolus and basal rates today, but I have a feeling that the strips that I was using were giving me some lousy readings (up to 50pt difference) so these new rates may not work. I sent her a message detailing my findings.

I will no longer keep strips in a different strip container. Chris thought that there may be a chemical residue or dust unique to the company in each bottle that ended up contaminating the strips. Fascinating.

And irritating.

Pens to Pods

I have about a million Novolog insulin pens left because I have anxiety and fill my prescriptions as soon as I can, even if I don’t necessarily need to. In sum, I actually have about 60 pens of Novolog just hanging out in my refrigerator. I also have about 30 pens of Levemir left. Except I don’t use the Levemir anymore now that I’m on the pump.

While changing the pod tonight, I decided to see how difficult it would be to extract the insulin from the pens to put into the pods. It was not difficult. At all. It was 1% difficult. It would be more difficult if you did not have hands. But everything would be more difficult. Basically you just put the syringe that comes with each pod into the waxy end of the pen, dial up the pen about 30 or 40 units, then simultaneously push down the pen plunger and pull back the plunger on the syringe. Ta-da! Insulin from pen in pod syringe. Easy peasy.

I asked my nurse educator if there was any way to get pen insulin into the pod. She said no. ??? It was so super easy that I’m still dumbfounded. I read about someone doing it on a blog, and even they made it seem more difficult than it is. This means that I don’t have to donate my Novolog pens (for which I paid a pretty). I’ll still have to sell my Levemir on the diabetes black market, though. Just kidding. Who do you think I am? I’ll donate that to my endocrinologist’s clinic so they can give it to patients who are in between insurance/paychecks or whatever. That would really be lousy to be poor have have diabetes. And it happens all the time. I also probably have 3,000 pen needles they can have. I got in the habit of re-using, okay? Don’t you scoff at me! They’ll go to people in need now. I’ll keep 200 just in case…OF THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.

I forgot to mention that that is partially the reason I always fill my prescriptions and have way more insulin that I need in stock. What am I going to do when the power goes out and the half-dead are roaming the streets? Am I supposed to venture to the ransacked Walgreens and try to locate insulin? Witch, please. I’m going to be holed up in my bedroom eating all the snacks I want, dosing like a queen. I’ll be a zombie by the time I run out of the juice.

Wait, how does being a diabetic zombie work?