Blood Donation

Firstly, I want to start off by saying that I donate blood to my blood sugar meter 5x per day, but that is not what this post is about.

There is a blood drive going on at my school this week, and they are urging all of us to donate some blood. I would love to, but being a Type 1 Diabetic since 1998 and taking Novolog insulin, I am not quite sure that I am even allowed to, or if my blood would even be “good enough” for the Red Cross.

novolog insulinI took a second to Google this question, and have come up with a mix of different answers. It seems that it is generally regulated from state-to-state, and depending on the type of insulin you use. I use regular Novolog insulin (made from pig pancreas secretion), and used Novolin insulin before I got my pump. I live in NY and my college is also in NY, so would that make me eligible to donate? I also asked the person who originally sent us the email about the blood drive, and her response was “I would recommend asking the nurses at the blood drive. They would be able to give you an answer based on their requirements.” Ugh, Dead end!!

My sugars have been somewhat uncontrolled over the last few months, which might affect my eligibility. Today I was super low in the morning, then super high by lunchtime, and back to normal now. I am sure they will probably be more worried about what my blood sugar currently is when I do decide to donate blood. I am also worried about having hypoglycemia afterwards, but a juice box will fix that.

Has any Type 1 Diabetics ever donated blood before (while being a diabetic)? Does anyone know of someone who has? I am just curious before I go and waste time trying to donate blood.

Test Strip Shortage — UPDATE!

After spending hours on the phone this morning, speaking to those who work at Insult Corporation, it was brought to my attention that my test strips should have arrived in the mail already. Well, I guess this super snowstorm screwed up a lot of things in the Northeast.

Insult Corporation ships from Boston, Mass — which is also where they have received the most snow! Down here in lower New York, we also got hit hard. Honestly, when writing my blog yesterday I was more worried about if they even got the prescription from my doctor, let alone if it shipped or not. The snow hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Fed Ex has added extra shifts today, and are doing home delivery on Mondays, which they normally do not. I can breathe a sigh of relief that my test strips will be here today! I’m down to my last two strips, so I guess I am skipping the “after breakfast” test, testing normal for lunch, skipping my mid afternoon test and doing dinner normally. I just hope this package arrives before I have class at 6:30pm.

This is my backyard post the snowstorm that crippled the Northeast over the weekend. We got about a foot and a half here.
This is my backyard post the snowstorm that crippled the Northeast over the weekend. We got about a foot and a half here.

Test Strip Shortage

On Wednesday last week, I got a phone call from a representative who works for the Insulet Group, founders of the OmniPod insulin pump. They said that with new regulations and guidelines for 2013, they are offering a mail service for supplies (eg. test strips, lancets). I was very excited to hear that they could possibly save me some money by doing mail orders, so I told them to sign me up! Seriously, who doesn’t like to save money?!

freestyle test stripsAt the moment, I currently use Rite Aid as my primary pharmacy and pick up prescriptions on a monthly (if not more) basis. The people at my store are really nice and know me by name (mainly because I’ve had to fight with my insurance company on a number of times). At the beginning of last year, my insurance company decided they were no longer going to cover my FreeStyle test strips. They told me to use a One Touch meter, and they would cover the strips for them. Well — since I am on OmniPod, and my testing meter is wireless with my insulin pump, it was not possible to switch to a One Touch meter. Of course we went back and forth, but eventually they agreed to cover my FreeStyle strips as long as they got a letter from my endocrinologist about my particular situation. He agreed to send the letter, and my FreeStyle Strips were then covered.

I explained that to the representative from OmniPod when we spoke. He said that my insurance company already knows my situation, and getting FreeStyle test strips would not be a problem in 2013. He then asked “How much do you spend on a co-pay for your test strips?” “Ha. Roughly $70 each month for only 200 strips,” I answered. “But I also test my sugars between 6-8 times per day, and my script never lasts me throughout the entire month. If I was to get 250 strips like I actually need, I would be paying around $170 for only one extra vial! (50 strips)” It is a tough thing to have to decide between health and money, but I am just a broke college student, and I need my extra $100 each month.

The representative told me he would look into the costs and give me a call back later. I told him he needed to rush it and do it that day because I was already on my last vial and I rather avoid going to Rite Aid to get my script. He called me back a few hours later, and said I would be pleasantly pleased with what he had to say. “You need to have your doctor send us a script, and we will refill your next prescription of FreeStyle test strips and mail them directly to your home. But best of all, it’ll only cost you $10 for a supply of 250.” OHHH!! I SCREAMED FOR JOY! Who doesn’t love saving some money on things you have no choice but to buy!?

Today is Sunday, and I have yet to receive any test strips. I am getting extremely worried now, firstly because I don’t actually know if they received the prescription from my doctor, I don’t know if my test strips are in the mail, and I am dwindling down to my last 10 strips for the month! I’ve already called Insulet to see if they have sent them out, but being the weekend, they are currently closed. I left a detailed message and HOPE to hear back from them tomorrow. Would it make sence to call in my prescription to Rite Aid? Should I spend the extra money to know I have strips, or to try to save some money by waiting and testing less for the next few days? What to do…… what to do! ? Humm..

Better Sugar Levels

photoI am proud of the way my blood sugars have been behaving over the last day or two. I still can’t say it’s great, but it is a lot better than the sugar levels I had a week ago.

I hate talking about numbers, because everyone’s body is different and they will feel more comfortable with their blood sugar within a certain range. But I’m going to anyway—- my doc wants my blood sugars between 70-160 mg/dL. Over the last 7 days, I have averaged a blood sugar reading of 152mg/dL (according to my tester). My lowest blood sugar this week was 34 and the highest was 314mg/dL. With that total (big range, I know!) I was within my goal only a total of 35%. Above goal 41% and below goal 24% (my sugars are below 70mg/dL nearly every morning).

Just to show my point, I am using my own numbers. Everyone thinks it is so easy to keep normal blood sugar levels— you just take more insulin! Yea, it’s not ways that easy. Even with testing my blood sugars an average of 5-6 times per day, I am still not perfect. I don’t think anyone can be perfect. Even with great blood sugar averages, you can eat something you shouldnt have, or accidently disconnect your insulin pump and have a spiked blood sugar level.

With my right-now-out-of-control blood sugar levels, I have nothing mechanically wrong with my body because of it! My feet have no sores or loosening fingernails, I am not obese or extremely overweight from too much glucose being in my blood stream and my eyes are perfect. Maybe I am just lucky, or maybe its only because my blood sugars havent been so out-of-control for too long that I am healthy. It is scary to see how many things could go wrong.

Again, I am not perfect. I am judgmental enough (to myself) to probably never feel like I will never have perfect enough blood sugar levels. I feel like every type 1 diabetic feels like that. If you feel like you are a perfect diabetic — please tell me how and why in the comment section below!

Dealing with Diabetes While Being Pregnant

I read a forum a couple weeks ago about a woman, not much older then me, who is a type 1 diabetic and also about 6 months pregnant. She had been discussing whether to listen to her endocrinologist (diabetic doctor) about her blood sugar levels, or listen to  her OBGYN. Her highest blood sugar level was 150mg/dL, with an average sugar level of about 90mg/dL.

While reading this girl’s discussion, I had to think to my sister who is currently pregnant, and has borderline gestational diabetes. She has called me numerous times throughout her pregnancy to ask questions about where her blood sugars should be. I told her that my doctor suggests I have a blood sugar level of 80-150mg/dL, but that I’ve also read in numerous places that it should be lower during pregnancy, otherwise the baby would be very large at birth. At 6 months, she said her blood sugar level was 230 mg/dL.  I thought that was extremely high for someone who is pregnant, but her doctor said that was “OK”.

I thought back to the girl in the forum, and how she is one lucky gal to have so much control! I was glad to see she had been doing so well while being pregnant. But her OBGYN yelled at her and said with blood sugars spikes like that, she’ll end up harming her unborn child! Her endocrinologist told her she was doing well in keeping her blood sugars maintained, and that her baby should be fine. Some people have quite the nerve to tell us (type 1 diabetics) how we should run our lives and how we should control our blood sugars. If a OBGYN was to yell at me years from now for a blood sugar level of 150— I’d immediately get a new one who is actually specialized in high risk pregnancies!

Which doctor would you believe, an OBGYN or an endocrinologist? What is a good blood sugar for anyone pregnant to have? My sister is due any day now, and the doctors believe her baby will be about 9 pounds when he’s born. Women with higher blood sugar levels tend to have larger babies, and struggle to have the child naturally. My sister seems to be falling into that category because of her sugar levels, but we won’t know indefinitely until my nephew is here and in her arms.

CGM’s and Controlling Blood Sugar Levels

I have been having a lot of ups and downs when it comes to my blood sugar levels. In the mornings, I always tend to have low (if not extremely low) blood sugar levels — hence why my boyfriend has made it his priority to make sure I am awake and eating breakfast before he leaves for work.

I haven’t been using my Dexcom Seven Plus CGM (continuous glucose monitor) recently, firstly because I ran out of sensors, and then secondly because my charging cord broke. I guess I have started to become lazy in a sense, because even now that I have everything back in order — I still have yet to put it on!

decom cgm and all of its components.
Decom CGM and all of its components (Sensor, Transmitter and Receiver).

I usually wear my CGM for about a week until I change it… which can make my skin very dry and irritated underneath (especially in all this cold weather!) I have to admit, Dexcom CGM does make me aware that I need to check my sugar levels more often. It does help me stay in control, and it does wake me up in the middle of the night if my sugar levels are dropping, but I am just sick of it beeping and buzzing at me because of all the ups and downs that my glucose levels have been doing. (And I think deep down inside, I want the new Dexcom G4!)

This past week, I downloaded all of my blood sugars and insulin readings to my computer. The program automatically sorted my blood sugar levels as “Extremely low,” “Low,” “Normal,” “High,” and “Excessively High.” My “Normal” range is between 80-160 mg/dL. I was shocked to see them all over the place —- with only a few in the green or “Normal” areas!

Now that I am really that much more aware of how much my sugar levels are out of control, I need to get back onto a good track. No wonder my doctor says I am “uncontrolled.” It is time to stay healthy. I need to get more active. I need to control my blood sugar levels better and I need a good A1c level. Welcome back into my life Dexcom SEVEN PLUS CGM.