What are Carbs?

This isn’t some boring scientific definition of carbohydrates. It’s a cheeky one.


Carbohydrates are a form of energy. This is the most simple definition that comes to mind when answering, “What are Carbs?” A question asked to me by a close family member, someone who I thought not only would know but might understand their effects on me growing up with Type 1 Diabetes. Of my seventeen years counting carbohydrates, watching carbs swing my moods and require more insulin, I have gone through my fair share of burnouts. Diabetes burnout is a real thing but that’s not what I’m addressing in this post. Right now, I’m talking about zooming in on one of the veins that leads to the greatness that is a large, pounding Diabetes Burnout. This vein is the exhaustion of the word, the smell, the numbers, the taste and the effects of c a r b o h y d r a t e s.

They get a bad rap. The pitbull of the food game, and like pitbulls, are actually really sweet but put in a bad light by society. People have developed some twisted and very faulty connection between carbohydrates and being unhealthy. Trendy diets limiting carb intake or full on casting them away and people crediting not eating carbohydrates to dramatic weight losses? Well yeah, no wonder you lost weight, Susan, you’re starving. Instead of replacing their white bread with whole grains, or enjoying a jelly doughnut for breakfast every now and again they are restricting themselves and banishing all carbohydrates to the same corner.

Here’s another answer to that baffling question; carbs are not bad for you. I’ll be straight up, I’m defensive around the topic of carbohydrates as a Type 1 Diabetic. (Surprised or have you smelled my attitude through this entire post?) For the majority of my life I’ve had to pay special attention to carbohydrates as they do cause a fluctuation in my Blood Glucose levels so by taking them out of the equation, steady graphs may result but ya know what won’t stay steady? My happiness. I enjoy carbohydrates. Does that mean I eat McDouble- Doubles for dinner? No. Does it mean I can eat a handful of maui onion flavored potato chips for a snack? Heck to the fudging yes. That’s the best flavor.

When clearing up the misconception that Type 1 Diabetics can’t enjoy carbohydrates – by the way, nobody ever questions me for chowing down on some roasted sweet potato with quinoa, but they do say with a sneer, “Can you even it that?” when I’m reaching for a cookie with less carbohydrates. Anyways, I tell everyone asking questions about my diet as a Type 1 Diabetic that I can eat whatever I want, I just have to think about it a bit longer. For every food decision, I spend an extra 30 seconds between “Do I want this?” and “I’ll take two” asking myself questions like

  • What’s my blood sugar like right now?
  • Is this food going to make my BG harder to bring down to target?
  • Am I actually hungry or just bored, is it really worth bringing out a syringe for?
  • How much will I have to bolus for this?
  • Am I going to be exercising anytime after this?

Might even be more than 30 seconds, really. Whether the answers are in favor of the sustenance or not, the mind of a diabetic is surrounded with so much anxiety around food that it begins to feel like a weapon used against us. Our conversations with strangers explaining stigmas around Type 1 Diabetes usually lead to food, suggestions for favorite low carb recipes, condolence gifts consisting of sugar-free gummy bears. Carbohydrates are this recurring theme when struggling with what this disease means. I’m exhausted. I wish it was just all food. A four letter word without macronutrients being misjudged.

xoxo

Ciara

This is not sponsored by Hawaiian Chips- though that would be pretty neat.

Foods Against the Flu

Smack dab in the middle of July, I was struck with the flu. Not a stomach flu, thank goodness! For two days, my comfy, soft, lovely bed became my death bed. Whenever I’m sick, I either lose my appetite or the only foods that “sound good” aren’t the most nutritious like a grilled cheese (with like white bread and Kraft singles) or a pot of macaroni and cheese. I know deep, deep, deep down that these foods aren’t the way to help me fight off whatever malicious virus is taking over my body. So this time around I worked very hard to find meals that I wanted to eat and tasted as good as food can taste when you’re sick. Though I kind of had to drag myself out of bed when I was due for a meal, I found my own kind of comfort foods that kept my stomach full and immune system JUICED. Whoa that was aggressive, I just mean got it ready to fight.

Being sick is one thing, being sick with Type 1 Diabetes is another because our Blood Glucose (BG) levels are harder to keep at a homeostasis while our body is fighting the sickness- it is under immense stress. The hormones our bodies release when under stress to fight off the illness tend to interfere with the insulin and raise our BG levels. When those sugars aren’t in range – our immune system isn’t at it’s optimal strength. I think this is why I fell victim to the flu because the night before, I had a night of very high BG’s when I forgot to give my night time dose of long-lasting insulin. Having my body so far from homeostasis, allowed some walls to come down and the virus to enter. This is just a theory! But it goes to show why it’s important to keeping sugars stable and pay extra attention to the diabetes while being sick.


1. Smoothies

Antioxidants are the players you should have in your diet while battling a virus because they help you bounce back faster so you can get right back to work and fall back behind on your T.V shows. Vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene are some fun antioxidants that strengthen your immune system and are prettttty easy to get. Luckily a nice cold smoothie felt really good on my tender throat and tasted really good.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ c. frozen cauliflower – Vitamin C, babyyy
  • ½ banana
  • Pawful of berries; strawberries, blueberries, blackberries!
  • 1 scoop of Amazing Grass Green Superfood
  • 1 tbsp. Almond butter
  • Just a splash of water/nut mylk – get that hydration!

Don’t forget to pre-bolus for any smoothie with a good amount of fruit because all the sugars from the fruit hit you fast in liquid form. I started using this Amazing Grass Green Superfood blend when I was working at Whole Foods (they have little single packets to try!). I love this mixture because it has all the vitamins and minerals from greens condensed into this scoop of powder that’s easy to mix into smoothies or just plain nut milk! It’s a large boost of greens that are great for that immune system.

2. SOUPer Excited to Hydrate

I know this is the first piece of advice for basically anything. Want clear skin? Hydrate! Want to learn how to fly? Hydrate! But really, consuming fluids is important for a Diabetic with a virus. By staying hydrated, the kidneys are able to balance electrolytes as well as filter out waste efficiently. As diabetics, we already need to keep hydration a priority as it helps blood flow and keep sugars stable so when our noses are running and mucus is constantly leaving our body from coughing, sneezing, we need to replenish as. much. as. possible.

When I was sick, I made sure my water bottle was always filled and took one Nuun tablet a day. Nuun has an immunity tablet with vitamins for when you’re feeling sick, stressed or on the go. I also made soups for dinner- well not made, I’m too lazy for that. But Amy’s has some great canned soups like Lentil Vegetable and Black Bean Vegetable. Soups get those liquids in ya system!

3. Beans and Toast

One of my favorite comfort foods. A fried egg sandwich used to be when I was younger. Wild. Amy’s at it again with their white beans in tomato sauce that are lovely when heated and put on some buttered toast. I really liked this combination with Beckmanns’ German Style Farm Bread loaf toasted and buttered up. I don’t like to hold back with extra fats and proteins when I’m sick because I know I’m not eating a lot so I try and fit them in when I can. Beans provide some solid sustenance when sick. They’re filling and bring some magnesium and B vitamins to give your body some energy. Although the appetite has left the building, pushing yourself to get this meal is so worth it and fulfills that crunchy, salty grilled cheese craving for me.


It’s hard to say if these meals sped up my recovery but there’s no doubt they benefited me more than just surrendering to my lack of appetite or eating junk food. I hope nobody has to deal with the kind of virus I had but unfortunately, as Type 1 Diabetics, our immune system can weaken easily depending on our management. Stay healthy, my friends!

xoxo

Ciara

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission when you shop through them! Thank you so much for supporting me and my blog, it means the world to me!

Summer + Diabetes

OoooOoooo it’s getting HOT in here. By here I mean the San Francisco Bay Area, which means that by HOT I mean a solid 75 degrees (at most). I’m blessed with the weather of the SF Bay but that does not mean when I spend all day under the sun, my Blood Glucose (BG) levels aren’t affected. You might find yourself in the heat a lot this summer with outdoor BBQ’s, beach picnics (my personal fave) or vacations to tropical areas! Here are some tips to enjoying the HEAT with Type 1 Diabetes.

HYDRATE + ELECTROLYTES

Dehydration can lead to high blood sugars, not necessarily meaning shooting straight up to 300mg/dL because you forgot to drink water with lunch but more so that sugars are less likely to budge. I find myself stuck at say 170mg/dL after trying a unit every couple hours but because of perspiration from the heat and a busy day where drinking water has slipped my mind. As Type 1 Diabetics, we lose water when experiencing high blood sugars leading us to be more susceptible to dehydration!

TIP: Have you seen those fun “hydration” tablets in the aisles of your grocery store? They’re usually by the water aisle or at Whole Foods – near the supplement section! I like theNUUN tablets, they are about 2g of carbs and give you electrolytes and make hydrating fun (or should I say, FUUN?) – when sweating in the summer heat, we lose a lot of electrolytes. Electrolytes are necessary for using our muscles and expensing energy so when we lose them via sweat and don’t replenish, the results can be fatigue, cramps, respiratory problems as well as how our body synthesizes glycogen for energy!

PREPARE FOR LOW BLOOD SUGAR

Although those with Type 1 Diabetes are more likely to experience stubborn sugars while in the heat- we’re also likely to see our BG levels plummet in the same conditions. We should know by now that we can’t really win, right? Well here’s how this part works. When in the summer sun and exerting energy- something as simple as walking will do, then our blood vessels expand allowing the insulin to flow through our bodies and process the sugar in our system faster. The extreme heat pretty much melts away my appetite but staying full, keeping snacks on hand can help curve the likelihood of a low blood sugar hitting you!

TIP: Having foods with equal parts fat/protein/carbs can prepare your sugars for the heat. I love a good ole apple with almond butter. An apple the size of you fist is around 25g carbs and then adding in some protein/healthy fats can sustain your sugars throughout the summer sun!

PUMPCATION

If swimming is on the agenda this summer, you might be disconnecting your insulin pump quite frequently. I wouldn’t (more so that I couldn’t) spend more than a half hour in the water without starting to feel lethargic from being disconnected from my insulin supply. This might be a great time to explore the idea of a “Pumpcation” – read about why I went on one a month ago here. By being on MDI (Multiple Daily Injections) I have a lot more freedom without worrying if my pump is overheating while it’s pushed up against my body during workouts, hiking etc. and not worrying about how long I’m in the water.

Please please talk to your doctor before disconnecting from the pump for the summer to make sure there aren’t any adjustments needed before this transition!

SHADE THOSE SUPPLIES

Insulin’s ideal temperature is 36 F – 46 F (2.2 C – 7.7 C). Once exposed to higher temperatures the insulin is still effective but eventually (and I mean a long exposure time to temps above 80 F), begins to break down it’s composition. This broken down insulin will not harm you like a poison, but will harm you in that it won’t take care of the BG levels – and could possibly result in the production of ketones.

Test strips are also susceptible to the heat! Who would’ve thunk? Inaccurate results are common once test strips have been exposed to excessive heat or humidity! Open the test strips, grab the strip you need and shut that baby right away!

TIP: Making sure your supplies stay out of direct sunlight (no, not under the seat of a car in the sun) is key to making sure your insulin stays at the optimal effectiveness. There are a few brands of insulin cooling cases that keep your vials at an ideal temperature during short trips, hikes, beach days like this reusable one from Frio. There is also an insulin thermometer called Med Angel ONE that you leave in the same case as your insulin and will notify you (via bluetooth connection to your phone) when the temperatures are becoming too extreme and dangerous for your insulin vials.

All products mentioned are linked to where you can find them on the interwebs, just click on the product and get prepped for Summer!


Have a fantastic summer, friends! Travel, hike, be active! These are all so intimidating with Type 1 Diabetes; worrying about low blood sugars and supplies but everything is feasible with T1D. A few extra steps have to be taken, and a few more seconds of thought put into things but this disease doesn’t have to halt our FUN.

xoxo

Ciara

Balanced Bulletproof Coffee

Trying not to do the thing where you have to read ALL about the product before just getting straight to the recipe BUT I have to tell you why I started making this coffee almost daily. This is like a bulletproof coffee (coffee high in fat to keep you full longer, throughout the day etc.) – that never appealed to me because if I want to be full… I’ll eat food… I love coffee but I also love breakfast and I don’t think those two are synonymous and never should be.

Most of my workouts start between 8A.M-9A.M and I don’t get up until about an hour before. This is because I want to make sure my Blood Glucose levels are ready to go and so that I can fill my tummy a bit before. Oh and to drink my double espresso. I’m a big believer in making sure not to workout on an empty stomach but I also don’t want to make any of my favorite breakfasts before a workout. That takes too much time and fills my stomach too much. I’m not trying to lose my breakfast all over the barre studio, ya know? So I usually opt for half a bar (Rx, Larabar, Perfect are some of my go-tos!) with my morning espresso.

Okay now we’re getting to the coffee.

I don’t wake up starving but my workout is much more enjoyable and efficient when my stomach isn’t growling and I really feel like I have more energy. The times I’ve gone straight to the workout without a bite, leave me running to the kitchen to stuff my face after and I just don’t find that enjoyable. I wanted something that can hold me over, provide me my macronutrients, and wake me up before my morning workouts. Thus was born the Balancing Bulletproof!


My coffee dose is usually a double espresso, nothing else. I like my coffee strong and bitter. I don’t add anything like cream or sugar so this was a big change for me! But this drink gives my body so many more nutrients and good food while tasting SO DANG AMAZING. After blending up the ingredients, there’s a smooth foam created and each sip is rich and creamy. YUMMY. If you don’t like your coffee strong, just modify the ingredients a tad until you get your desired flavor! By following the recipe below, it won’t have a strong coffee taste especially if using flavored collagen or sweetened nut milks!

Enjoy and please feel free to shoot me a message if you like it and tag me in your posts if you try it!

What you’ll need:

  • -6 oz hot water

  • -2 shots of espresso

  • -A dash of cinnamon

*Modest Mylk is a fun little find I found on Thrive Market! It’s a nut mylk BASE. Meaning, you mix with water then refrigerate to make your own nut milk with SO much less waste. Each jar saves 11 cartons that would usually be used to sell mylk!


How To:

Putting the teaspoon of ghee at the bottom of the cup, pour the hot water over so it starts melting! Add the espresso, milk, date syrup, cinnamon and then lastly – add the collagen protein RIGHT before blending it up in a Nutribullet or blender to avoid clumping!

How I Bolus:

I bolus for about 10g carbs for this baby, depending on how much date syrup you use and what kind of protein powder/collagen I’m using! Because it’s a first thing in the morning kind of beverage, my BG is much more susceptible to spiking or at least trending up so I bolus with that in mind!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission when you shop through them! Thank you so much for supporting me and my blog, it means the world to me!

MDI: Three Week Update

Who in the world would be excited about encountering multiple needles a day? I guess someone with an acupuncture membership and ME! I was pumped to go pumpless a few weeks ago, in exchange for Multiple Daily Injections (MDI) but during the few days after, I felt like a physical part of me was missing.

*cue sad violin*

I didn’t realize that although being MDI would be liberating without any wires, beeping, or site changes- I would be losing a tiny little box machine thing that had hung on my waistband for over 15 years.. The pump was a device that would cause panic in my chest when I forgot to reattach it post-shower and would make me feel vulnerable when I had to put my whole trust into it while it kept me…alive.

ANYWAYS. This post isn’t intended to be an ode to my insulin pump (which is really just on a time-out), the intentions are to share what I’ve learned in the early stages of my transition from insulin pump to injections.

To read about what initiated this transition, check out the reasons why I went on a “Pumpcation” here.

LONG-LASTING INSULIN

Long-lasting insulin can last up to 24 hours, with some brands lasting 48 hours. But I quickly found that around 12-16 hours after my dose in the morning, my Blood Glucose levels would slowly rise. This rise would happen when I was sleeping since I was taking my long-lasting injection around 9 o’clock in the morning. I then tried cutting my long-lasting into TWO doses – something I was not psyched on doing only because my schedule at night is far more busy than my morning and I worried I would forget. I split these two doses 50/50 and found the opposite to happen; I was slowly dropping.

I found a happy medium with a 60/40 ratio; 10 units in the morning and 6 units at night. Depending on how much exercise I did the previous day, the 6 U at night can be only 4 U!

BOLUS METHOD

I went from carb counting on the pump to unit counting with injections! When using the pump, I plug in how many carbohydrates I’ll be consuming and the pump then calculates the units for me. But on the insulin pen, I clock in the units. I know my unit to carbohydrate ratio is about 1:6, so I keep this in mind when injecting insulin for food. Before eating I start with 2 U, then see if that is enough based on how my sugars are trending and what the food is like!

My insulin sensitivity ratio (this is how many points one unit of insulin will drop my Blood Sugar levels) is 1:50, which is pretty easy for me to calculate in my head. BG at 300, need to go down by 200 points so 50 into 200 is 4 and voila! We got ourselves 4 U of insulin.

WHERE’S MY PUMP?

I’ve been dealing with phantom pump quite a lot since cutting ties with the little machine. I let my pump hang loose while sleeping (I just unclip it and let it lay next to me in bed, cute right?) so when I get out of I’ll locate the pump and clip it onto my bottoms so that way the it doesn’t yank on the wire. But my half asleep, pump-less self still attempts to locate the pump before getting out of bed.

I didn’t realize how much I relied on this pump for things outside the needs of diabetes until it was gone. The pump is like having a permanent accessory that not only keeps you alive, but gives you some light in the dark with it’s small screen and also has the time on there! In the mornings when getting ready, I don’t have my watch on yet and my phone is… well I never really know where it is, I always had my pump to tell me the time! Oh, the little things.

INJECTION SITES

One of my motivations to go on injections was the scar tissue that I felt developed from pump sites. Leaving the pump sites in for 3 days (the occasional 5, whoops) generated the build up of tough tissues around my favorite pump sites. I felt that with the syringes/pens the needle is finer than the pump cannula so scar tissue would be less like to develop. This might be true, but I was surprised with the amount of bruises and marks I have from the needles. All over my thigh and arms are tiny bruises (some bigger, where the long-lasting insulin went in)!

I also feel my injection sites becoming repetitive. My stomach is usually the most convenient since I can just lift up my shirt a little bit but I don’t want to overuse this real estate. I wear skirts with tights quite frequently so have been able to inject through tights (though not the most sanitary and probably not recommended, but better than no shot at all!).

TO SUM IT UP

This transition was NOT easy- the first few days being quite the challenge. I made sure to make the switch at a time when I didn’t have work or school so that way I could focus on my BG levels. I always recommend talking to your doctor before going on a Pumpcation to make sure it’s the right move!

I'm Going on a Pumpcation!

Pump-ca-tion

/pump’kāSH(ə)n/

noun

  1. An extended period of time disconnected from insulin pump

    “I’ll be taking a pumpcation after nearly 15 years of being connected to a pump”

verb

  1. To take a pumpcation

    “While I’m pumpcationing, I’ll be doing MDI (multiple daily injections) to receive my insulin”


This post contains “Reasons Why I’m Taking Pumpcation,” explaining my personal reasons for disconnecting from the pump temporarily and “How to Book a Pumpcation,” a walkthrough of the steps I took before going on MDI.


I can’t remember when exactly I first hooked up to an insulin pump but I was about 8 or 9, only a couple years post-diagnosis. Someone came over to my house and with my parents, taught me how to use the insulin pump. We practiced inserting a cannula beneath my skin, and filling a reservoir of insulin, two things we would need to do every three days. After we felt confident in these maneuvers, I was left with a long wire attaching a little me to a little machine.

Not until I went to Diabetes Camp did I learn how to insert the pump on my own. I came home after two weeks away from my family feeling SO proud of this accomplishment. I found the back of my arm to be my favorite spot. It was the most painless, lasted the full three days (except on the rare occasion it would be caught on a nosy door knob). But lately, I’ve been a little burnt out. Not on Type 1 Diabetes (well more than usual, anyways) but on my pump. I’m exhausted after what? Over 2,000 pump sites all over my body. That’s not including the ones that don’t work, the ones that bleed, the ones that are uncomfortable.

So it’s time to take a pumpcation. Packing up my pump supplies and heading on a one way ticket to shots-ville. Not tequila. Just insulin shots. This might only last a week, but I’m going to try and last 30 days. That seems like a fair time to allow my body to adjust to the long-acting insulin and figure out if injections fit my lifestyle better!

Reasons Why I’m Taking a Pumpcation:

-Change-

Change is good, change is refreshing. A pumpcation is like a change of scenery, like I’m taking my diabetes to face the ocean instead of the city. Humans vacation to help with burnout at work and the real world. Their one week on the beach is supposed to be stress-free with no work emails or calls. Although I can’t take a vacation from my diabetes, the pumpcation can be refreshing in the same way.

-Dependent on Technology-

It’s currently 2019- we’re ALWAYS on our technology. You’re reading this via iphone, tablet, computer and heck, I’m using technology to type this. Being without pump will eliminate a piece of technology that I’m feeling dependent on. I want to remind myself that under certain circumstances, I can survive with MDI (multiple daily injections). I think of this as like going from an automatic vehicle to a stick shift because incase you ever rent a car in Europe or go on The Amazing Race then you know you’ll make it (the cars are most always stick shift and the losers never know how to drive them).

-Disconnect-

Okay, did you know that my pants have TWO pockets?! Without a bulky pump taking up the space of one pocket, I’ll have two usable pockets to keep whatever I want in! What does one actually put in pockets though? I’ll find out. Along with the freeing up of pockets, I won’t be connected to a wire. This wire quite literally keeps me alive so it’s not anything I can risk getting yanked out by door knobs or tearing out when the pump machine falls out of my pocket (okay, what are pockets actually good for?). Although I’ll be wearing a Dexcom™ (wireless) – this change is a bit more freeing.

How to Book Your Pumpcation:

-Make sure the time is right-

Ya don’t want to book a trip during the wrong season; the weather might be crappy or the flights expensive. You also don’t want to take your pumpcation during the wrong time! This May, my A1c is officially the lowest it has ever been. I was 7.6% before I started wearing the Dexcom™ and currently, am at 6.5%. Not only are the numbers showing me that my diabetes is more controlled, but I also feel the difference in my day to day life. Since joining the Type 1 Diabetes community online, I feel supported and encouraged to live my best life by taking care of myself. Reflecting on this, assured myself (and my doctors) that it was an appropriate time to take a pumpcation.

-Talk to your doctor and book this pumpcation-

Your doctor is like your travel agent here, they should help in figuring out the best time to go on a pumpcation. Every doctor has their own method and reasoning for why or why not to take a pumpcation. Make sure to receive your endocrinologist’s blessing before going on a pumpcation to figure out if the time is right, as well as to receive some tools in figuring out insulin sensitivity and carb to insulin ratios!

-Start packing and planning-

Like planning an itinerary for an actual vacation, figure out what the next, say 30 days are going to be like and start packing! I chose to use insulin pens for my short-acting insulin and just a syringe for my long-acting insulin. I also had to decide when I wanted to administer my long-acting and because I trend lower at night, I’m going to do it in the morning! I’ve also figured out what my fears/worries are for this time. I like to workout about 5-6 days a week and I usually set a temporary basal on the pump but you can’t do that with long-acting insulin shots. So this is going to have to be something I pay extra attention to!


Make sure to subscribe to stay updated on how this little experiment goes! I will definitely be coming back to contrast my time pump-free with my time needle-full.

xoxo

Ciara

Day in the Life

Wake up, get out of bed, drag my pump across my bed… that’s not quite the day in the life that Paul McCartney sang about in the Beatles’ Day in the Life but it might’ve been had he been a Type 1 Diabetic.

I spent a week carefully documenting the amount of time diabetes took out of my day. Setting a timer to record the amount of time it would take for a hypo (low blood glucose) to rise or how long it’d take out of my afternoon to change my pump set. Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t stop me from living my life to the fullest as I hike, exercise, work, or try new foods but some days more than others, I lose hours because of diabetes.

Would I be more punctual without Type 1? Possibly. Would I rush less and have more leisure time without it? Probably. Would my hair look better on the regular? For sure. I don’t want to dwell on that though because there isn’t much I can do to gain back the 1-2 hours I lose a day by being my own pancreas- I just have to work around that and adjust my life a bit. But that’s what Type 1 is about anyways; a lifestyle change in the way we eat and drink, as well as in the way in which I’m highlighting in this post; the way I maneuver through my day.

This post isn’t a record of every single day with T1D, but more of an accumulation of a weeks worth of diabetes interference into one to paint a better picture. Although, I will say that I’ve had days just like this, sometimes with less time taken out of my day and sometimes with more.


4:30 A.M

If you’re thinking, “Wow this chick wakes up EARLY,” you’re half right. Yes, I wake up at this time frequently but not by choice. My alarm is set for 7:30 A.M but my Dexcom™ (the CGM I’m using) app on my phone has other plans to when and how my day is going to start. I have to sleep with my phone as close to my head as possible incase I don’t wake up to the heinous alarm, I could at least feel the buzzing. On the rare occasion, the alarm wakes my mom (who shares my Dexcom™ data) and then results in her calling or just arriving at my door with a glass of juice. Who doesn’t love starting their day with a large glass of sugar or a mouthful of chalky glucose tabs?

Unfortunately, drinking the juice doesn’t mean I can go back to sleep. The glucose will take about 15-20 minutes to hit my system then maybe a few extra minutes for the CGM to catch up. Depending on how severe the low- this takes about 30 minutes out of my sleep and morning.

-Time elapsed: 30 minutes-

7:30 A.M

Finally time to wake up, but here’s the buzzword of this day with Type 1 Diabetes: GROGGY. I’m already not a morning person (I’m more of a 10am-3pm kind of person) so after my interruption in the earlier hours- I am one unhappy Ciara. But that’s alright. I’m lucky that my BG hasn’t spiked*.

*It’s very common to spike HIGH after a low because our bodies are telling us to eat eat eat- making it difficult to only have the amount of glucose we actually need to correct the hypo. This has been a goal of mine for awhile – to monitor the amount of glucose I’m having and work on being patient with my lows. A spike feels worse than the waking up at 4:30 A.M to alarms and several missed calls from mom.

9:30 A.M

I like to workout in the morning, I know it’s cliche but it really is the best way to start my day. If I don’t workout in the morning, I feel lethargic the rest of the day and usually opt out of an evening workout. This is all dependent on the day though. I love barre and bootcamp classes which are two completely different workouts. These different workouts have completely different effects on my blood glucose levels and although I do barre 2-3 times a week and bootcamp, twice a week- I still don’t know how my BG will behave.

I take time in the morning leading up deciding how much I need to eat, how much I need to bolus for and what percentage of my basal rate I need to reduce. I typically do a 75% basal rate for barre and 50% basal rate for the bootcamp (as it includes more cardio).

Not too often, but often enough to include here, do my BG levels drop and prevent me from finishing the workout. On those “low” mornings when I’ve had trouble keeping my BG up, sometimes just being near a treadmill makes the numbers plummet. I’ve had to leave classes half-way through or take a 5 to suck down a juice box. This makes it feel like a waste of an hour, since I wasn’t able to get my full 60 minutes in.

-Time elapsed: 15 minutes-

11:00 A.M

Post-workout is my favorite part of the day because this means breakfast. Read about my favorite bolus friendly breakfasts here. My breakfasts are heavily influenced by how my BG levels are post-workout. If they’re trending higher, eggs and avocado are fantastic but my favorite is when they’re trending lower and I can throw in some toast and fruit. Either way, Type 1 Diabetes can remove choices from my daily life. Yes, even with high BG could I have some carbs but I just would have a harder time bringing the numbers down and would spend longer feeling….blegh (definition of blegh: how one feels with high blood sugar).

When carbohydrates are involved, a pre-bolus is what I aim to do. This means, giving myself a bolus of insulin for the carbohydrates I’m planning on eating about 15 minutes before they’re actually consumed. I end up twiddling my thumbs waiting for a downward sloping arrow to hit my Dexcom™ app so I can chow down.

-Time elapsed: 15 minutes-

Noon

Belly full, shower done and I am READY for the day. Did my breakfast from earlier raise me up too much? Did I bolus too much? Checking on the sugars the hours after a workout is really important because usually they trend lower but in the world of Type 1 Diabetes “usually” doesn’t mean much. The levels could go either way. It’s usually in this spare time before heading to work that I’ll change my pump site, draw a new reservoir, and possibly switch out my CGM. My pump site and reservoir are changed every three days and the CGM is changed every 10 days. Rarely do all 3 of these tasks align on the same day BUT sometimes they do.

  • Pump site change, 5 minutes. Remove old site, clean it. Figure out which of the many places I want to put the new site, clean that. Work up courage to put on said site. Ta-da.*

  • Reservoir change, 5 minutes or more. This can be slightly time consuming because when drawing insulin from the vial we get bubbles. Bubbles are a big no no because they take up space in the reservoir where insulin could be and thus resulting in your body getting less insulin than the pump thinks. Also, nobody wants bubbles under the skin.

  • CGM change, 5 minutes. Before I switched to Dexcom™, this task would have taken a lot longer. I used the Medtronic Guardian Link, and it would almost always hurt so therefore I would take longer to muster up the courage to insert it. This CGM was also not guaranteed to work. It would bleed and then after the two hour warm-up tell me that it just wasn’t going to work. But the Dexcom™ is so painless and quick! I could never go back.

*Not a daily event but every now and again following a new site change, I find out that the cannula (the little subcutaneous straw delivering the insulin) isn’t working and high, like really high, blood glucose levels may occur. This results in another 5 minutes out of my day.

-Time elapsed: 15 minutes-

2:30 P.M

There are a few scenarios that happen at this time: work or school, maybe the occasional day off. But work is where Type 1 Diabetes presents the most challenges, as my classes are all online.

  • I work as a bartender in a small beer and wine bar- quite fun and quite relaxed. But busy. I’m lucky to have freedom in my job to test my sugar when needed, even change the occasional faulty pump site. Adjusting to this job was when Type 1 Diabetes would get in the way, the long hours on my feet, finding the right time to eat and remembering to do so. So I’ll sum up the “horror” stories of diabetic interference.

I’ve had blood glucose levels drop in the middle of a rush, having me feel like my head is on the ceiling spinning like a fan and feet are heavy in the ground. I’ll have to sit down for 20 minutes at times to wait for the juice or glucose tabs to hit. I’ve also ran out of juice before and a coworker had to run to the convenience store for me to restock. That sucked.

-Time elapsed: 30 minutes- 1 hour-

Bedtime

On the way to my deep slumbers can be daunting. I make sure my blood glucose levels are above 150 mg/dL (my daytime target is 100 mg/dL), so if I’m below that target that means I have to snack a bit to bring the sugar levels up. Sitting at the edge of my bed just waiting, hoping I didn’t overcorrect with glucose so I’ll go too high above that 150 mg/dL target.

Time elapsed: 15 minutes


Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


So there ya have it. I’m a normal gal. I have hobbies, I adventure, I love to socialize. Type 1 Diabetes interferes with all of it. But doesn’t stop me. I work around it, because it’s worth it to enjoy the things I love. I hope by learning about my most simple of days with Type 1 Diabetes, you can understand its’ implications on the more eventful days.

Thank you to my dear friend, Carolyn, for this idea to document how many minutes I spend a day catering to my Type 1 Diabetes. I spend a lot of my free time with Carolyn and Type 1 Diabetes is always there during our movie nights and beach days. Thanks babe.

xoxo

Ciara

Guest Blogger: Matt Vande Vegte's Why

Why do so many New Year’s Resolutions fail? Why do so many of us find it so hard to follow through on our own goals? We make promises to ourselves and to our loved ones, yet more often than not we fail to stay true til the end. Blame it on your busy schedule, blame it on external factors, blame it on circumstances, but I would argue that nine times out of ten it’s because you didn’t have a strong enough WHY to start out with. What is a “Why”? Why is a “Why” important? Why don’t I tell you what a “Why” is and why it is crucial to your success as a who, who wants to become.. ok this is getting ridiculous. Let’s move on.

Your WHY.

Your “Why” is your reason for pursuing the end result. Whatever your dreams or goals are in life, whether short term or long term, start with an intrinsic motivational force. This force is different for everyone on earth, even those with the exact same goal in mind will find something different that motivates THEM. This makes your journey unique because it has special meaning to you and you alone. But how do we find this “Why” and what purpose does it serve? You can find your reason behind your motivation by searching yourself for the biggest emotional factor that pushes you forward when the going gets tough. But you will have to be intentional about searching it out.

Let’s use weight loss as an example. Let’s say that you wanted to lose 20 pounds because you wanted to become “healthier”. Is this your why? Absolutely not. Becoming healthy is important, but it is too generic, and it is not unique to you. How about that your doctor told you to lose 20 pounds? Still no, as this is not your own driving force, but rather an external influence. How about that you want to lose 20 pounds because you want to have enough energy to play with your children while building memories to last a lifetime. You want your children to remember you as being part of their childhood, and so you will fight every day with every fiber of your being to do what is necessary to lose the weight. You will wake up early, eat healthier foods, join an accountability group, and find a coach to guide you forward. THAT IS A WHY. Not only will you do what is necessary to lose the weight, but you are more likely to build healthy habits during the process which will in turn make you more likely to hold on to the desired result for life. You may even surpass your own goals and exceed your expectations of what you thought was possible. Do you think that you could expect the same result coming from “I just want to be healthier”?

Now, I used weight loss as an example because it is a popular topic, but this can be utilized in just about any form of life planning or goal setting. Think about a grad student pushing through the toughest semester of their life. Will, “I just want to graduate and get this over with” get them through it? Or would they likely perform better if they dug deep to find an emotional reason that set a fire ablaze inside of them every time they felt like giving up? Your “Why” will not be easy to identify at first, it takes practice and many times can lead to an emotional response – this is good. The more emotions that your reason to pursue your goals evokes, the closer you are to finding your “WHY”.

Once you’ve decided on your reason to push through the hardest of times, write it down. Set it as your phone background, print it and tape it to your mirror. You don’t need to publicize it, as it may be something that is very private to you. But you need to remember it, see it every day, and hold on to it when you really, really want to quit. Seeing it all over the place is a great reminder to say it out loud and make it real in your mind. Find ways to weave it into your daily schedule, make it into a mantra if you have to. Whatever it takes to solidify in your mind that you will not give up, no matter what.

Use your “Why” to achieve your dreams, to do what seemed impossible. Never let something like Diabetes hold you back. I am a trainer living with Type 1 Diabetes, and let me tell you.. sometimes life sucks, but you need to pick yourself up, remember WHY you are doing what you set out to do, and push back when life (or diabetes) tries to trip you up. You are a WARRIOR. Find your “Why”, and Keep up the Fight!

You can do this! Let me know if I can help.

Keep up the Fight,

Matt Vande Vegte, CPT

Matt Vande Vegte is a certified personal trainer,

nutritionist, and type 1 diabetic whose biggest goal

in life is to help people with diabetes around the

world live their lives fearlessly. Looking for

an online health coaching program to

help you live your best life? Click the link below to

learn more about our program for diabetics only that is

focused on helping you reach your goals while living

a happier and healthier life. Join the Tribe today!

https://www.ftfwarrior.com/the-fearless-diabetic-project/

team@ftfwarrior.com

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Dear Diabetes; A Love Letter to Type 1 Diabetes

Dear Diabetes,

I go to bed with you every night and I wake up with you every morning. This might sound like your typical marriage and maybe it is. Except I wake up with your pump wire wrapped around my torso, and go to sleep worrying if I have juice near me thanks to you. We’ve had our ups and downs like married couples tend to do. I’ve hated you when I lose sleep due to low Blood Glucose (BG) levels, and you’ve made me sick to my stomach with those awful ketones. Isn’t that what they say in vows though? Through sickness and in health. I don’t remember saying that at seven years old when I was diagnosed with you, but then again- you knocked me nearly unconscious.

So I want to take this opportunity during the month of love, hearts, candies that you make difficult for me to indulge in, to tell you a couple reasons why I love you. I don’t want this to go to your head, since I only love you because I’m stuck with you (for the time being). I’ve been told that loving is easier than hating, easier on the heart and the mind, and results in less wrinkles. So let’s give this a shot.

I love that we share a passion for food. I love eating it, and you love thinking all about it. The smells and tastes are what I want to get out of it, but you focus on the gram of carbohydrates. Every. Single. One. I love that you always want to eat, for example, when I’ve already had a huge meal but my BG drops and now I’m having my second dessert- glucose tablets. We both love breakfast. My favorite meal of the day- with eggs, avocado, potatoes or toast and a cup of joe! So relaxing. But we differ in the way you prefer chugging three glasses of orange juice at 5 o’clock in the morning, followed by a piece of toast and a handful of cocoa puffs.

I love the way you make me laugh. When that entire 1.6 units of insulin decides to work within five minutes instead of the four hours it usually stays active in my body. I pre-bolus to avoid a severe spike in my BG levels from ruining my meal (which usually happens anyway), but the one time I’m meeting someone new, or catching up with an old friend the blood glucose levels plummet and I go so low. My arms feel like noodles and my head is dizzy. I can’t comprehend anything too well but I do my best to pay attention to the person in front of me and not slur my words, so I just end up laughing.

Loving you has been challenging. But thank you for the challenge, for questioning my strength just so I can prove you wrong. I’ve felt weak because of you, but that only made me realize how strong I actually am. If I was able to survive seventeen years with you, I can handle a little hiccup in my life every now and again. I love you, and I wouldn’t take back the last seventeen years but I sure as hell would take a cure any day.

Love always,

Ciara

3 Tips for Managing School + Type 1 Diabetes

Living with Type 1 Diabetes is a daily struggle, and those with or without functioning pancreases would probably agree that school is too. Whether you’re polishing off your last semester of college or a second semester Senior in High School, these tips will help lighten the pressure of Type 1 Diabetes as a student.

1. Make your health a priority

Diabetic or not- your health is SO important. This seems like common sense, right? But there have been times where I’m running late to class but I need to fill my pump reservoir and I don’t, because one more tardy and there’s 5% of my final grade gone. I’ve also had HIGH blood sugar before an exam but was afraid of telling the professor that I can’t finish this test because it might seem like an excuse for more study time. I’ve been there and I’ve learned that continuing on with an exam and trace ketones or being on time with 1.0 U of insulin on you, will harm you more than speaking up about what you need. Remember that your instructor is human, they should understand those needs that you have and if they don’t- there are resources on most college campuses that will have your back.

My college had a Student Disabilities Service where accommodations were provided for those with Type 1 Diabetes. Make-up exams, extra time for assignments etc. are all part of the package. This is instituted to support us, as Type 1 Diabetics, because we can’t always predict diabetes next move. All you need to do is bring a letter from your doctor that includes these specific requests and confirmation on your diagnosis.

2. Communicate with those around you

Professors, teachers, roommates, classmates in a group project, are all people that you’ll encounter as a student with Type 1 Diabetes. When we allow them to understand what our condition requires, successful classwork and student life will be achievable. I’ve felt the fear of disappointing classmates because my blood sugar is low before a presentation (so I’ll inevitably slur my words) or I don’t know how to tell my roommate that I can’t have a conversation right now because my blood sugar is high and making me very irritable. So addressing those in your academic environment about your Type 1 Diabetes as early as possible, will allow for an easier conversation when those hiccups occur.

Type 1 Diabetes isn’t always something people know well, or at all. Explaining what happens when your pancreas stops producing insulin and what happens if your blood sugar is high for too long can be strenuous for both parties. When bringing it up to your roommates or instructors, keep things as general as you can but allow them to understand the possible scenarios. For example, “When my blood sugar is high I might feel like….” “I manage it fairly well, but this disease can be unpredictable day-to-day so I just want you to know incase…” Statements like these address the situations that might happen in the semester in a quick and brief way.

I always ask what accommodations they could make based on this information or if there’s something I could provide them with to help them understand. I’ve had professors say, “Do what you need to do” but also professors who take the liberty to learn more and that way they can be there for me when I miss an exam due to diabetes.

3. Find ways to integrate Type 1 Diabetes into your studies

School is hard. But the idea is for you to learn. I have a hard time learning when I don’t see a point. For some, the point could be just to get an A, but the letters never motivated me the way that my own personal goals do. I always found ways to bring my Type 1 Diabetes into my studies from essays about life changing moments to science projects. I believe the more we learn about our diabetes, the better we can take care of ourselves. That was enough of a “point” to keep me going. I learned about how my body worked and in ways, didn’t work, through nutrition classes, human anatomy/physiology and chemistry. But also explored how my diabetes has impacted me through psychology and anthropology.

This is how I decided to study nutrition. After taking my first nutrition class, I was hooked. I couldn’t believe how well I was retaining the information compared to classes before on topics with little interest to me. This was because I was learning about something close to me, my diabetes. I was understanding why my blood sugar spikes after eating a plain banana but becomes more stable if I pair that banana with peanut butter. By applying my diabetes to my studies, I found a career path I can’t wait to pursue.

Don’t be afraid to be share your experience with this unique, complex disease. I’ve found that by sharing my story in nutrition classes and a food anthropology class during my last year of college, I’m showing people a real world example of the material in the textbooks.