Posts Categorized: Living With Diabetes

Diaversary and a New Attitude

What does “diaversary” mean?

Last month I passed a milestone. It was the thirty-fourth anniversary of my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Those of us living with diabetes call it our “diaversary.”

Diabetes is a way of life for me. I’ve had it more than half of my life and feel like I’ve known no other way to live.

I’ll never forget the circumstances of my diagnosis. When I close my eyes, I can still see the office where I was told my life would never be the same. There were many years after that of doctors hounding me to get my sugars under control, and it felt like I was on a rollercoaster, going from high to low blood sugars.

I didn’t listen because I really didn’t care and spent many years in mismanagement. Diabetes is a silent disability.

When I wasn’t sticking my finger for a blood sample and taking shots, I didn’t think about being diabetic.

When my treatment plan changed to using an insulin pump, control became better for 25 years. It was also easier to cheat and just push buttons to compensate for all the sugar I’d consumed.

Then when an extreme low was noticed by my doctor, I enrolled in the Dogs for Diabetics program and got a new lease on life. My numbers greatly improved, pleasing the doctors.

Living with a service dog makes me want to take care of myself. I love having Aiden by my side 24/7 and everywhere I go.

I credit my change in attitude to the wonderful organization and my furry companion. I used to think of DIE-abetes as sounding like a death sentence. But now with a change of attitude, I think of living with diabetes as LIVE-abetes.

I still don’t love it, but with my new Tandem insulin pump and the technology it has, I only have to prick my finger to calibrate or if the pump malfunctions and I have to be without it.

My blood sugar is under the best control yet with this pump and a dog! If you are looking for a better way to control your diabetes, visit tandemdiabetes.com for more information.

TSA, Panic and a Diabetic Alert Dog

I love adventure, especially traveling. Sad to say, my thirst for adventure has been dampened by the ominous ritual of removing my shoes during TSA screening.

Everyone knows that when flying anywhere, protocol demands adherence to strict rules.

For a diabetic with a service dog, going through security takes forever.

Besides taking off shoes and jackets and placing laptops, purses and carry-ons in separate bins, I must also take off a treat pouch, gather all my insulin bottles to be hand-inspected (since they can’t be x-rayed), and prepare to be patted down since I wear an insulin pump.

I was trained the way my dog goes through security, and TSA also has specific procedures for service animal security screening. But every experience, they tell me to do something different. Usually, what they ask me to do goes against the training my dog and I have received.

For example, they’ve asked me to:

…Have my traveling companion take my dog while I get patted down.

…Leave my dog with a security agent.

And, weirder yet, they’ve told me to have the dog go through the metal detector first and then I follow. What’s up with that?

Note the line on the TSA web page:

“TSA will not separate you from your service animal.”

Two years ago, I had a very bad experience that involved high blood sugar, a health issue that required me to use a walker. I was also traveling with my 89-year-old, wheelchair-ridden mom (handled by my sister).

The large security man accused me of insulting and trying to attack an agent while my brain was fuzzy. I experienced my first panic attack because he threatened to arrest me as they rummaged through my carry-on.

Within inches of my accuser, I tried to breathe while collecting my belongings. I gave in to my weak knees and sat on my walker-chair, a blubbering mess.

Fortunately, I calmed down, but not until after some retail therapy in the gift shops, a large chai latte, and some snuggle time with my service dog.

Whenever I go through security, I face serious anxiety and pray to get myself through those gates.

I recently learned about an organization that can help people like me get through the process. Although I have a diabetic alert dog who also keeps me calm, he can’t do what this organization can – assist me with all my special needs through security.


Aiden’s thoughts about service dog relief stations in airports: Where a Dog Does His Business

Knead These Donuts

It’s the time of year for sweet treats and I’m looking forward to having a few myself. Of course, they are the kind of treats a dog can eat. No people treats for me.

One day Mom and I visited a donut shop near us that has been voted the best one in our area for a few years, according to a poll taken by the local newspaper. It’s called Knead Donuts.

A sign on the door displays the shop’s hours from opening until they run out.

From what I hear, they are on high demand and sell out quickly.

I’m on a strict diet to stay in shape and there are rules a service dog must follow like ‘no table scraps.’ That’s okay, though. I get plenty of awesome duck jerky when I correctly alert my mom to a low blood sugar.

But today, Knead Donuts gave me a doggy donut.

I’m certain we’ll return to this dog-friendly shop for more tasty treats.

Living with Diabetes and Moving

We’ve been in Tennessee about five months now. With all our combined health issues, I knew that the transition from one type of healthcare to the next would not be easy. We stored up our prescriptions and supplies just in case things took longer.

It takes many different supplies to keep my medical equipment running properly. If I run out of one (and I did) it messes up the whole system and blood sugars get out of control quickly.

In California, our healthcare came from one system, with most offices and services located in the same building or not far away. With our new insurance, my healthcare is spread out around our city. I have more freedom to choose which doctors I see, but not how my diabetes is cared for.

I’ve been longing for a new diabetes treatment system, but my insurance keeps denying the request. I refuse to give up. I’ve been with the same system for 27 years and its time for a change. I’m ready to go tubeless!

“Mom, your blood sugar is getting high.” Aiden is concerned because my blood sugars have gone crazy while trying to work out new insurance issues, I don’t have access to my doctor as readily as I had before.

Every diabetic knows that they are the one who best knows how to regulate their diabetes. We cannot be put in a box, even by insurance. I feel like David up against Goliath, but I will continue to fight for the kind of treatment I know will benefit me best and keep me healthy for years to come.

In the words from one of my favorite sci-fi movie spoofs, “Never give up! Never surrender!”

Gotcha Day! (Dogs for Diabetics)

Gotcha Day! (Dogs for Diabetics)

Gotcha Day! (Dogs for Diabetics)On August 9, 2021, Christy and I celebrated the fourth anniversary of our GOTCHA day.

What’s gotcha day? I’m glad you asked.

Gotcha day is the day every client at Dogs for Diabetics longs for. It’s the day every client dreams of, and works hard to achieve.

There is a process to go through in order to arrive at gotcha day. First, one must apply for a diabetic alert dog.

Once accepted into the program, they receive extensive training to prepare for living with a service dog. While in training, they attend once-a-month meetings (which used to be pot-lucks at the training center, but COVID has stopped in-person meetings – we Zoom now until further notice).

I get to meet other client teams at these meetings and those on the waiting list where clients become members of the Dogs for Diabetics family. A great community for diabetic connections and lifelong friendships.

But there is a waiting list once all requirements are met. Some clients wait a long time because D4D trainers want to match dogs with client lifestyles and personalities.

Christy waited nine months then…GOTCHA! I came running into her arms and we became a team.

Gotcha day is when a dog is placed with a client. It’s one of the happiest days of my life.

I GOTCHA, Christy. You’re mine forever.

Bullied by a Little Black Box Called an Insulin Pump (For my Diabetic Friends)

Insulin pump

Insulin pump

Airplanes have had them for years. Cars have had them since 2013. I’ve had one since 1996. I’m talking about my personal little black box, an insulin pump.

It’s smaller than most cell phones, often mistaken for a pager. (What’s a pager and why would someone need one? They only use them in restaurants, buzzing for you to pick up your food.)

My little black box or the “insulin pump” has become more sophisticated since I first started using one to keep my diabetes in control.

Through the years, with every upgrade and change comes another great feature. Today, most pumps come with a continuous glucose monitor that communicates to the pump if your blood sugar is high or low.

I happen to have a dog whose nose is faster than modern technology. But with a combination of both, my blood sugars are monitored quite well.

Sometimes too well.

You see, the pump is programmed so well, it beeps or vibrates for notices other than high and low blood sugars.

It beeps to tell me to check my BG or blood glucose (sugar).

It beeps if I miss a meal bolus (insulin to cover food intake).

It beeps when the insulin reservoir is low.

It beeps when I need to change the set (tubing, reservoir attached to me subcutaneously).

It SCREAMS if I ignore the calibration prompt and it can be extremely loud and hard to ignore. Actually, it screams if I ignore any of the above prompts.

Although this little black box saves my life by giving me what my physical body can’t, it bullies me. Yes, I can change the tone of the above prompts, but it will continue to bully me until I respond. Oftentimes it bullies me all night long, keeping us from sleeping or dreaming, for that matter.

Yes, it is annoying. Yes, I feel bullied. But I can’t live without it. I can’t complain because it keeps me healthy.

I can live with a bullying black box. It helps me live by my own decree:

Die-abetes + Living = Live-abetes