LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Solstice So 'mores and an anniversary

Looking at my calendar, I realized that it was the Solstice. Seemed like we should do something absolutely Pagan to celebrate. What we came up with may be more Girl Scout than Druid, but ya gotta go with your gut on these things....

We built a fire in a circle of stones. I taught Rio how to set it up so it would burn hot and true. Wadded up newspaper on the bottom. A teepee of small sticks. Then cholla skeleton. Then larger sticks, and finally small juniper logs with their fine hair like bark. The challenge in my family has always been to light camp fires with one match. I forgot to bring the striker out, so I went to use a lighter to start the match. This isn’t cheating if you still use only the match to get the fire going.

A million years ago, when I was a smoker, lighters were better designed. You flicked them and they lit. Now they have these damn child-proof thingy-ma-bobs.

After breaking off the child safety device with a rock, I was finally able to get the damn lighter to work...

I lit the match and then touched it to the paper on three sides. The flames licked up the pile of twigs like race horses out of the starting gate. In no time we had a cheerful blaze to beat back the stretching shadows and creeping cold of the dying day. Rio delighted in throwing more small sticks into the flames to feed the fire.

Then Rio and I danced around the fire like our Celtic forbearers. Well, actually, he chased me around the fire five times trying to get the bag of marshmallows from me. Yes, while our ancestors went the human sacrifice route, we choose to make So ‘mores.

For you city folks who were never boy scouts or girl scouts here is the recipe:
One half a Graham cracker on the bottom of the sandwich.
One half a Hershey bar.
Two marshmallows, toasted golden brown over the coals of a dying fire.
The other half of the Graham cracker.

35 carbs. Gooey, messy, and oh my God good. If only the Druids had known, history would have been different.

And what does any of that have to do with the Guardian? Well not much. Just a normal Dad out having normal fun with his kid. With no BG checks, no worries about lows, and no emergency sugar. (Don’t freak out, we had a box of Hershey bars and a sack of marshmallows for God’s sake.)

That was yesterday. Today is my anniversary. Yes, the Girl and I have been together a Month. It has been quite a wild ride this first month. Joy and anguish. Stress and peace. Expectations exceeded, dashed, and exceeded once again. Doubt, name it, I've felt it.

Looking back over the month, is there any kind of summary? How do I feel about it, you ask? Has it been worth it? There were times I thought my life was finally going to be simple. There was a time when I damn near put the girl back in her box and sent her back to Medtronic.

I started obsessively tracking data. Comparing finger sticks to the Guardian readings. How accurate is she? I was determined to work out just how well this system works. And then the unthinkable happened.

The girl saved my life.

Well that pretty much sewed it all up and made the decision crystal clear. The Guardian is now a permanent member of our family. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still studding data to know learn where she is strong and where she is week; but the whole “is she worth the cost” question has evaporated.

This is also the one-month anniversary of the blog. Yeah, I know the dates go back a little further on the posts but I rigged it to make the timeline work out and make sense. I started out writing this over on Gina’s Talkfest, but she evicted me on the 21st of November (that’s OK, Gina, I still love you). And we set up shop over here at LifeAfterDx the next day--the very same day the Guardian arrived and I hooked up for the first time. Wow, what a ride that has been too. I didn’t even know if anyone would come and read at all. I didn’t know if anyone could stand to read as much as I write. But today, one month later I see I’ve had 3,301 visitors as of the time of this posting.

The feedback from the readers has been wonderful. Wow what an adventure. And then you folks nominated me for three awards. Mind blowing. Wonderful, but mind blowing.

And, what’s my blood sugar, you ask? Well, I don’t know...let me check...Click...122.

Damn, that’s fun. I never get sick of doing that!


Blogger Ellen said...

Wow I love the ceremony you created.

Here in sunny south Florida my daughter makes 'smores in the microwave...graham crackers, Hershey bar, marshmallows...but hey it dipped below 70 here today -we could have built a fire LOL.

Have you ever made a "sweat lodge" in the snow? We did this at Penn. State Univ. a million years ago. We put some boulders in the fire place and heated them until glowing. Outside we had a pit with rocks that framed it and we built a teepee like structure around it all so we had a covered place to sit...this was of course in the snow. The guys would use some kind of heavy duty tongs and run the boulders out and place them in the pit in the sweat lodge. We sat in there "nekkie" and poured some water on the hot boulders to create steam. When it was too hot in the lodge, we romped around in the snow. Not sure your "girl" should go in the lodge! LOLOL.

Have fun!

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I find the whole " The girl saved my life." melodrama to be a bit irritating. If you're having persistant night-time hypoglycemia, you should raise your target gluclose level and adjust your insulin regime accordingly. One of the reason's people get hypoglycemia unawarenes is because they've experienced so many lows that their body stops sending out warning signs. If you reduce the number of lows you're experiencing, your awareness of hypoglycemia may return.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Wil said...


I'll plead guilty to being a drama person. But this did shake me up a great deal. I was frusterated to the point of questioning the value of the system. This event made me look at things in a different light. Why obsess over money? Why worry about wether or not the BG and the Sensor Value are "nailed." What is important? Life, love, the abailty to there for the ones you care for.

Control has been quite a stuggle due to my insulin sensitivity. We made a very small adjustment to my night time ratios and it sent me into hyper land. One theory of my health team is that I will need different ratios for different levels of carbs. In other words a 15 carb dinner would use a different insulin to carb ratio than a 30 carb meal will. I also need different raitos for different times of the day; so you can get an idea of the scope of the task ahead. The 24-hour data from the girl will be a big help.

I'm happy for you that your body works better and that it is easier for you.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were you wearing the Guardian when you made the insulin adjustment? Are you sure the night-time adjustment was what sent you into "hyper land?" If you had another night-time low, that might have just been a rebound high.

I hope you and your doctor can figure out a way to stabilize your bloodsugars. I've found that having "normal" sugars for a few days seems to help stabilize things for future days.

In general, I worry more about the immediate danger of night-time lows than I do about the long-term effect of slightly higher sugar.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Wil said...


No, that was pre-Guardian. The adjustment sent me high about five nights out of seven for two weeks. So this wasn't a one time thing.

For about a month I was running everyother night hypo and every other night hyper while eating basically the same things.

BG has settled down quite a bit (knock on wood) latley. Except for the dramatic drop it's been a pretty good week.

About two weeks into the Guardian we made a reduction in dinner time ratios based on aggregate data.

Now that I've got another two weeks of data it'll be time to sit down and look for trends again.

My Docs would like to move me into a higher A1C (I'm in the 6.1 to 6.2 range) but I'm not too keen on that. I worked at a hospital ICU and got to watch too many people die of compications from running high. (We have a boat load of diabetes in this state).

The down side of tight control, however is increased hypo risk. I'm hoping to use this technology to lower that risk while keeping tight BG control to lower the long term risks. I had Rio very late in life so he'll be starting college when most men my age will be retiring. I've got to do all I can to be there for him for the long haul as well as the short term.

BTW, in hind-site I think many of the low alarms I responded to in my first couple of Guardian weeks were just cases of marginaly low sugar, not necessarly real hypo. I was just too jittery not to respond. Live, learn, and get smarter, right?

Now I ALWAYS test an alarm. If it isn't really below 70 I'm not taking on any sugar!

9:00 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

Wil - do you think it's easier to overtreat a high or a low when you're using the Guardian? Or do you find that you're more cautious in your treatments? Do you always double check with your meter when you get a high or low reading?

Also, what about when you shower? I'm assuming the sensor/transmitter is waterproof.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Wil said...


Those are really good questions. In regards to over-treatment, I think it has more to do with personality than technology. There is no doubt at all that before my adventures with the seventh sensor that I became too dependent on the Guardian. I took the data at face value, and did over treat lows. I don't end up in high territory too often, and when I do that means insulin. I have a very, very healthy respect for insulin so I'm always was more cautious on that end. I've never taken insulin solely on the basis of Guardian data. I did in many cases, however, take on sugar based on Guardian readings without first checking the BG with a finger stick. I should emphasize that this is a big no-no. The fact that none of those sugar interventions sent me rocketing super high would indicate and most of them were situations that legitimately required sugar; but it was sloppy. I'm now much more cautious. I always check BG when I get an alarm.

So now I'm using the Guardian as intended, as a system that says to you: hey bone-head, I think you should check your BG. And of course we are using the tons of 24-7 data we are getting to look for trends in BG that signal the need for long term adjustments in basal and bolus rates.

As to the shower, both the transmitter and sensors are water-proof. The seal between them is sealed with two "O" ring type gaskets. That said, the connection is also covered with an IV3000 bandage to further assure watertightness. I gather that if water were to get in there is a possiblity of shorting out the transmitter which would take a $400 bite out of your wallet.

The Monitor is not water proof, so it stays outside of the shower. I think I saw some sort of water proof bag accessory in the catalog. That would probably be a good idea for public pools, beaches, places like that were you cannot control splashes as well. For that matter, a zip lock bag would probably do the same job....

11:01 AM  

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