Presenting, The Medtronic 670G

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I received an important package via FedEx on Monday: my Medtronic 670G insulin pump kit. For any non-Diabetics who may not be in the know, an insulin pump is a prescribed, electronic device that holds insulin and delivers it automatically based on your requirements and how many carbohydrates you consume.

There are a number of different brands, models and types, depending on what you’re looking for. Some are pretty straightforward and simply delivers the insulin based on simple calculation. Others have an additional feature called CGM, or Continuous Glucose Monitoring. This allows the user to have their pump track their blood sugar trends on a minute-to-minute basis and the pump makes adjustments accordingly.

My package of supplies, like opening gifts at Christmas!

There are many benefits to this new pump system. The included CGM system checks interstitial blood sugars every five minutes and makes adjustments accordingly. According to new math, that’s 288 time a day! Even with the FreeStyle Libre, I still can’t test that frequently. This allows for better overall control and time in range. The pump has the ability to automatically deliver insulin if your blood sugars are starting to rise, and can halt the delivery of insulin should they begin to drop.

The pump is said to be waterproof up to 12 feet of depth, although the manufacturers still recommend removing it before swimming. The pump uses fast-acting insulin (in my case, Humalog) and eliminates the need for long-acting insulin, acting much more like the pancreas would.

My old MiniMed on the left compared to my new 670G on the right.

Although it’s hard to tell from the photo, the new pump is all shiny and it feels like opening up a new smart phone. There’s a backlit LED screen and a belt clip that attaches directly to the pump as opposed to simply clipping onto the body of the pump.

I have a lot of “homework” to do before I can begin reaping the benefits of this device. There are a number of manuals to read through, some online videos and learning to complete and then I have two sessions with a certified pump trainer before going on automatic mode and letting the pump take control. However, considering this pump has been out for a number of years in the U.S., it’s well known for helping you to maintain an increased amount of time “in range”. I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of this system in the weeks to come. ☯

You’re Not An Exhaust Pipe, Quit Venting!

There is suffering in the world. More than we often choose to acknowledge or discuss, but some of this suffering comes at a personal cost and in our personal lives. Because of this, we are usually want to complain. After all, most people feel it’s easier to complain or “vent” then it is to spread positivity.

Depending on what school of thought you adhere to, venting can be beneficial. It allows you to get things “off your chest”, which in turn is meant to make you feel better. Normally, this can be a good practice as long as it doesn’t become your modus operandi. If you make complaining your normal habit, it can also have a number of detrimental effects on you and the people you’re complaining to.

First and foremost, long term complaining can lead to quite a few physiological problems. Increased stress, increased cortisol levels, lack of sleep and weight gain can all be long-term effects of constant complaining. Not to mention that if you’re a constant source of negative, verbal diarrhea, you’ll start to notice your friends, acquaintances and family start to avoid you or make excuses not to be in touch with you. Couple that with the psychological effects of constant negativity, and you’ve got yourself some real problems.

I was reading an article posted by Inc.com that covers the topic of complaining too much. I was entertained by what Dr. Jeffrey Lohr, a psychologist who studied venting, mentioned in the article, “People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to. Venting anger is… similar to emotional farting in an closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong.” Funny and entertaining, but he makes a good point.

The article goes on to explain that our brains are wired in such a way that the more we express negative thoughts, the easier it becomes to do so. More than that, it becomes habit. Further to that, it has the same effect on people who are around you while you vent. Here’s the article: https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/complaining-rewires-your-brain-for-negativity-science-says.html

I’m still of the firm belief that the occasional venting is important. Sometimes, you just need to get things off your chest. The important thing to remember is that the recipient of your venting should understand what’s happening and why. And even if they’re a trusted family, spouse or friend, it shouldn’t be a constant thing. Otherwise, you could find yourself becoming the subject of THEIR venting as opposed to the recipient of yours. ☯

Fido Needs His Insulin

Anyone who has done even a minute amount of research into the history of Diabetes is aware that insulin was first discovered in 1921. What some, if not most people are not aware, is that it was first used on a dog called Marjorie in that same year. Marjorie had been diagnosed with Diabetes and had her pancreas removed. It was found that she could survive by receiving daily insulin injections. This discovery led to it being administered to the first human recipient in January of 1922. The rest is history.

Not Marjorie. Just a happy pooch!

There are many animals that can contract Diabetes. For the most part, the reason behind their getting it is similar if not identical to how humans get it. These animals include, but are not limited to dogs, cats, apes, pigs, horses, the occasional cow and some rodents.

For the more “popular” household pets, such as dogs or cats, a diagnoses of Diabetes can mean many of the same effects and complications as a human who has Diabetes. Organ and vision problems, obesity and circulatory issues are prominent in pets with Diabetes. For this reason, it’s important to maintain a good exercise regiment for your pets and feed them a veterinary-approved food that will help control their weight and blood glucose levels.

Administering insulin to your pet can be difficult and even intimidating. But once you’ve gained the knack for it, your pet will certainly be appreciative (Unless it’s a cat! They’ll make your life a living hell for the audacity of giving them an injection) Your pet’s vet should be prescribing the insulin that will best suit your pet and provide instruction on its proper administration. That being said, there are tons of instructional videos online that will show you how.

The interesting challenge when dealing with Diabetes in pets, is that they are mostly unable to explain what symptoms they may be feeling or what may be ailing them. This is why it’s important to learn and recognize some of the physical signs that things may not be going well for your pet and how to deal with them.

For most households, their pet is part of the family. So while the treatment of Diabetes and the administering of insulin in pets may seem daunting, one needs to consider that you would do no less for one of your children. Educate yourself, obtain the necessary medications and learn how to provide for your pet. Even though they may not be able to express it verbally, you can believe that they’ll be grateful. 🐶

Get Your Head Out Of The Clouds

Travelling can be a real pain in the ass for anybody, whether it’s domestic or abroad. Especially if you’re flying. But any level of travel becomes even more involved when you have Diabetes. Considering the amount of equipment that the average Type-1 Diabetic requires on a day-to-day basis, the preparation required for any trip can be quite involved. When you add in the supplies required for an insulin pump, it can also be quite an ordeal.

Since I’ve recently “indulged” in some cross-country travel, I thought I would take the opportunity to touch on some of the more important aspects of travel preparation for someone with Diabetes.

First, let’s discuss travel by its very nature. Travel is abnormal. At least it is for the modern person. Our ancestors were thought to be nomadic and usually never settled in one place for extended periods of time. But as humans evolved and we developed societies and technologies, we became more sedentary and started establishing permanent homes. This means that we usually find comfort in staying in one place and having daily routines. These routines become important for someone with Diabetes. In fact, routine tends to make the control of Diabetes far easier. When we stray from our usual routine, it tends to rain hell on the Diabetic system.

One of the first things I noticed from my flights home yesterday, was my unusually high blood sugar level. Despite my best efforts to correct and bolus accordingly, my blood sugars stayed in the teens until a while past 10 p.m. when I finally worked it down to 8.6 mmol/L, the highest being 19.4 mmol/L earlier in the day. There are a number of reasons behind these high levels; not least of which being stress, from travel and some bad news.

According to an article posted online by BeyondType1.org, “There have been studies that suggest that higher altitudes can cause insulin resistance due to carbohydrates not being metabolized as effectively. This can be another cause of high blood sugar and it can also lead to ketones/ketoacidosis in extreme cases.” The article goes on to say, “Blood glucose meters, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and pumps have been known to not work as effectively in high altitudes.” This could certainly be one of the outlying reasons for my extreme highs. The jury’s still out…(https://beyondtype1.org/altitude-type-1-diabetes/)

An important thing to remember is to calculate your approximate insulin needs prior to your departure and pack two extra sets of everything BEYOND what your requirements will be for the entirety of your travel. For example, my trip to New Brunswick last September saw me run short of supplies for my pump. I ended up having to buy a bottle of Lantus and some syringes in order to maintain myself until I landed back in Saskatchewan. Damned inconvenient!

The next step is to ensure that everything is properly labeled and clearly legible, identifying it as Diabetic prescription medication. Airlines are a bit sticky on the transportation of needles and sharps, so you need to ensure that you’ve dotted your “i’s” and crossed your “t’s”. Wearing your MedicAlert bracelet is also a smart move. I’m told it’s a smart move to wear it at ALL times, but I absolutely hate mine and never wear it unless I travel.

Another issue would be the airport security x-ray machines. Now, opinions about the validity of what I’ll say next has been discussed and debated for years now. But some sources, including some of the manufacturers, seem to indicate that exposing insulin to x-rays can cause damage and even affect its potency. For the most part, airline security SHOULD be reasonably accommodating in allowing for a manual inspection of your person upon request. This should include any bottles of insulin and your insulin pump. That being said, you may encounter some staff who are resistant and will claim it’s unnecessary. Don’t be afraid to ask for a security supervisor to plead your case.

That being said, there’s been no evidence that the same x-rays will affect your insulin pump. Granted, your pump is filled with insulin, so… yeah. At the end of the day, planning ahead and being familiar with your airline’s policies and requirements will go a long way. If you’re like me, you show up two hours prior to your flight’s time of boarding. this provides the extra time required to ensure a manual inspection of your insulin and medical devices and still allow you to make your gate in time to be boarded on your flight.

Test your blood frequently and adjust your insulin accordingly. Although it may seem unusual to bolus so much, the unusual circumstance may require it. Ensure you don’t skip meals. That much is often my mistake. Speaking with your doctor or medical practitioner prior to your travel may be an option as well. As much as having Diabetes may be a major pain, travel can be just as painful if you aren’t prepared. ☯

The Worst Illness Is The One You Ignore

There are currently more than 12.5 million Canadians with some form of Diabetes at this very moment. Although I wasn’t able to find a source link, this information can be found on Statistics Canada’s website. Given that large number, this means that roughly one out of every three Canadians have some form of Diabetes or pre-Diabetes, with more being diagnosed every day.

One of my biggest pet peeve is hearing or reading about someone with Diabetes who ignores their condition. Although denial is a common and almost expected reaction for some people, there’s enough information and literature out there that no one should just roll over and let this condition take them. But even now, I often hear of people with Diabetes developing serious and severe complication and even dying.

The light knows that I’ve often written about the complications associated with Diabetes. And although I’ve usually focused on Type-1 (because that’s what I have), the complications are usually shared across the board. The reality is that untreated or undiagnosed Diabetes can easily and quickly become fatal.

The most common complications you hear about involve the nervous system, heart, eyes, kidneys and digestive system. Believe it or not, you can even gain complications related to your teeth and gums. Even the strictest control won’t prevent some of the symptoms or complications one can get, making it all the more important to keep a tight reign on your condition in order to mitigate them.

Limb amputation is a common thing you hear about in people with Diabetes. This is because poorly controlled Diabetes will cause blood vessel or nerve damage, leading to the death of certain extremities. Toe and foot amputation is generally the result

Eye and vision issues are also very common, and often for the same reasons when one considers Diabetic Retinopathy. Other issues include, but are not limited to Glaucoma, Cataracts and Diabetic Macular Edema.

Believe it or not, your teeth can even cause issues. Gums and teeth in someone with Diabetes will have a greater tendency towards sensitivity and bleeding, which can lead to increased chance of infection and complications.

Uncontrolled blood pressure and glucose levels will cause damage to the kidneys, ultimately leading to kidney failure. Your cardiac system is twice as likely to suffer complications as someone without Diabetes. Your blood sugar levels are what can cause the most symptoms, complications and issues. Extreme high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) can lead to the advent of all these complications and can also put you in a coma, if left unchecked. The same can be said of extreme low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). Once your blood sugar levels drop below a certain level, unconsciousness is almost a sure thing. If you’re unfortunate enough to live alone or not be woken by your drop in blood, death is usually the result.

It’s not all bad news! Although I often write about complications, this is mostly for awareness and to hopefully PREVENT such issues. I often feel that some people simply become overwhelmed by their condition and give up. Some people are just lazy and don’t want to take themselves in hand. But the reality is that the changes required to prevent and repair some of these complications are pretty simple and easy. Eating a healthy diet, testing your blood sugar often and exercising regularly is a big start. Avoiding things such as smoking, drinking alcohol and gaining excess weight will also go a long way towards helping. The bottom line is that there is no excuse for allowing Diabetes to control your fate. Only you can do that. ☯

Gestate On A Little Information

I think we can all agree that pregnancy can be a wondrous thing. Although I can sympathize but not relate, there’s a certain magic behind knowing that you have a little version of yourself on the way; buying baby clothes, setting up a nursery and trying to explain to your 5-year old why he won’t be the sole child in the house are all challenges that can be as much fun as they can be stressful.

Pregnancy carries its own batch of potential complications, and the light knows that my family has experienced a good number of them through the births of both my sons. Having either of my children contract Type-1 Diabetes has always been a concern of mine, given that I have Type-1 myself. But ladies, you have a Diabetic concern all your own to worry about while carrying around your little bambino for nine months. I’m talking Gestational Diabetes…

I’ve covered the different types of Diabetes in previous posts, but this one is more common than most people think. Gestational Diabetes, or Maternal Diabetes as it is sometimes referred to, is a condition in which the body does not allow insulin to be processed properly during pregnancy. According to a post by WebMD, “During pregnancy, your placenta makes hormones that cause glucose to build up in your blood. Usually, your pancreas can send out enough insulin to handle it. But if your body can’t make enough insulin like it should, your blood sugars rise, and you get Gestational Diabetes.” (https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/gestational-diabetes)

As though there isn’t enough to worry about during pregnancy! One of the big issues with Gestational Diabetes is the fact that the symptoms often aren’t noticed or are attributed to the pregnancy and ignored. This can obviously be a big problem and can pose a risk for mom and baby.

So how common is it? Well, the best I could find was on the Government of Canada website, Canada.ca, which provided that approximately 54.5% of women in 1,000 pregnancies developed Gestational Diabetes between 2004 to 2011. This is an incomplete number, since the Province of Quebec does not contribute to the pertinent database required for a total National average. That being said, the percentages vary from Province to Province and Territory. This is likely due to differences in Provincial Health Care, environment and available resources. (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/maternal-diabetes-canada.html)

Depending on the circumstances, Gestational Diabetes has two sub-types: one where it can be treated with diet and exercise and the second, which will require insulin injections or medications. Screening for this condition is usually done by your doctor once you’ve reached certain points n your pregnancy, but don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about it. Even if it isn’t time to test for it, they should be able to put your mind at ease.

Prevention involves the same golden toolbox that just about everything else does. Exercise (yes, even during your pregnancy), eat a healthy diet and make certain that you’re getting the pre-natal care you require. Exercise should be moderate at most and your doctor will be able to recommend/refer you accordingly. Ultimately, it’s just one more way that Diabetes affects the lives of many people and is one more hiccup in an otherwise happy experience. When the time comes to tell your child, “Do you know what I had to go through to have you?” hopefully Gestational Diabetes isn’t on the list! ☯

Put Some Oomph In Your Ouch! 🎶

Music is awesome. It has the means to allow a person to express themselves in a very unique way. Music also has the means to reach every person. There are so many types of music that there is always at least one genre that appeals to any given person. Music can also communicate. There are few genuinely universal ways of communicating, but shaking your booty to great music is well understood anywhere in the world.

Music can also play an important role in how your workout plays out. It’s no secret that having an awesome playlist and some sick beats (I promise never to use that term again) can improve your workout and make you push harder towards a wicked sweat. So, why is this? IS it just our imagination? NO. There are actually some measurable reasons why music can help improve your fitness.

According to an article by the Huffington Post, “Listening to music while exercising can release feel-good chemicals – such as dopamine and opioids – that may boost your mood, dull pain and make you less tired […]” (https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/how-music-affects-workout_n_55d746a3e4b0a40aa3aaa9da?ri18n=true) If this is true, than having some music blaring while you workout is definitely beneficial.

Some other theories include the fact that music is a distraction. If you are distracted from the agonizing shin-splints keeping you from completing your 3K-run in record time, you’re more likely to push hard and keep going. Speaking from experience here, folks! Another theory is that good music, or rather what may be good to you, will help increase your confidence. This causes us to push harder.

No matter what the reasons, and no definite evidence has been found despite many studies, you can’t argue that having your earbuds in while you push yourself adds a definite plus to your workout. Think about it. When was the last time you went to a gym that DIDN’T have at least some of the people wearing headphones or earbuds? And it’s almost a sure guarantee that fitness locations will usually have music playing on the intercom system. Unless it’s one of those heathen locations that have a sporting event blaring, but that’s an entirely separate problem.

My current karate school even uses music during the warm-up portion of the class. This is a bit of a controversial thing, considering that most martial arts schools include an aspect of discipline that doesn’t include having Metallica blaring while shadow boxing! But I’d be lying if I said that the addition of music didn’t get even the laziest of students moving a bit better.

So whatever your reasons for doing so, crank up the tunes. Whether it’s to make you feel better, distract you from the now or simply helps you follow along with a beat, it can be nothing but beneficial. Unless you work out to country music. Then you’re just asking for trouble. You know who who are! ☯