My Christmas Eve letter to Santa

I posted this letter for the first time many years ago, and then a few more times in subsequent years. In truth, given what we endured this year, 2020, there are many more things I’d ask Santa for, but I’m going to keep my request as simple as it always was.

Dear Santa,

All I’d like this Christmas is for you to take this diabetes away. I’m so tired of it already. All these finger sticks and guessing when my blood sugar’s high or low. Now that I’m in menopause I can barely tell if I’m sweating because I’m losing estrogen or my blood sugar’s crashing at 50! And, can we talk…I mean the constant figuring out how many carbs are in a ravioli or bread stick or that fried calamari that will be at the company Christmas party. Some days I just want to lay down and shoot myself. Please, please Santa, would you take this diabetes away?

Sincerely,

riva

Dear Riva,

I’m very sorry you’re having a tough time during my favorite season. I only want people to be singing carols and drinking eggnog and feeling good cheer. Unfortunately, it says in my contract, that I’m not allowed to interfere with life’s natural occurrences. So here’s my suggestion, after you open your holiday gifts, look under your Hanukah bush for the gift in having diabetes. You may have to spend a few days looking so why don’t you schedule it for the week between Christmas and New Years while you have some down time? Then you can start the new year fresh.

Best wishes,

Santa and the gang

Dear Santa,

A gift in my diabetes? What are you crazy? Meshuggah? Thanks, but no thanks!

riva

Dear Rabbi,

I seek your wise counsel. I wrote to Santa to take away my diabetes but he wasn’t helpful at all. Surely you who have studied so much and represent our people who have suffered throughout history can help me with this awful diabetes. It’s such a strain, Rabbi. I have to test my blood sugar when I really want to be lighting the sabbath candles. I forgot all about the High Holy days this year because I was so busy counting carbs in the Challah, bagels and honey cake. Rabbi, please, what solace can you offer me? What words of wisdom? Surely you would tell me to just forget about this diabetes thing and study the Torah, right?

Please write soon,

riva

Dear riva,

Santa and I just returned from the Caribbean and he told me about your difficulty. He said he told you you should look for the gift in your diabetes. I concur with Santa, there are many gifts to be found in diabetes if you look. For one, my child, you won’t have to drink the traditional Manishewitz holiday wine anymore. The Counsel all agree it is much too sweet. Bring out the Chardonnay!

When Santa asks you to look for a gift in your diabetes, he is not saying this because you are not Catholic and he is not bringing you anything, although this is true. He is speaking like our brothers the Buddhists, who profess there is a gift in everything if you look for something positive it can bring into your life.

Let me tell you a story my child. My own Aunt Sheila had diabetes and after she stopped kvetching, she went to a spa and learned how to eat healthy. She shopped along Rodeo Drive and bought a cute little jogging outfit and started running. On her jog along the ocean she met her fourth husband, Marvin, and they’re very happy. They just moved into a $6,000,000 mansion in Jupiter, Florida — right next to Burt Reynolds! Everyone’s plotzing! Darling girl, find a gift in your diabetes, because to be honest, since you’re not orthodox, and all I have are these great wigs I got on sale from my cousin Schlomo, I’m not bringing you anything either. And really, it’s not very pleasant to whine.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi, Local Union 107

Dear Rabbi,

I thought about what you and Santa said and have decided to become a Buddhist. I picked up the Dalai Lama’s book, The Art of Happiness. He says, “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” I told my friend, Joe, I like butterflies and I like the robe, so these aren’t bad gifts. Joe said the quotation meant that we are the source of our happiness, that happiness can only come from inside us regardless of what happens in our lives. Hmmm, I said, maybe I need to learn more. So I booked a flight to Tibet. Now if only I didn’t have to drag all this damn diabetes stuff with me….ohm…ohm…oy. riva

Can’t get a straight answer about alcohol and diabetes? Now you can.

You’ll get it straight from the bottle as Drs Steve Edelman and Jeremy Pettus, both endocrinologists who have type 1 diabetes themselves, conduct an uproarious experiment imbibing three drinks each within 45 minutes, and we’re with them all the way. I loved it, Getting Drunk with Dr. E and Dr. P: How Alcohol Affects Blood Sugars.

The alcohol experiment was part of TCOYD’s one day educational conference for people with diabetes that went virtual last week, including an Exhibition Hall. Solid information and fun. Dynamite experts and respect for the condition we all live with, and its host, us.

There’s tons of information on the TCOYD site and it looks like the next virtual conference is February 27th. Better get your shot glass ready.

Auvon Glucose Meter, simple and within 10% accuracy

A relatively new glucose meter was sent to me to try out and let you know what I think, and I’m being paid a small fee to do so. I tell you that in full disclosure: I did not seek out the meter nor pay for it or the 50 strips it came with. The company is Auvon, a Chinese manufacturer of various medical devices like TENS muscle stimulators and tech-household goods, in addition to this glucometer.

Since I use the Dexcom G6 CGM, I don’t use a meter very much anymore. That said, I do use it whenever I think my CGM might be off, or when I take a few days off from my CGM in between sensor sessions.

Although the wording on the box, “Blood Glucose Monitoring System” is a bit of a hype, as it’s just a glucose meter with the usual paraphernalia, Auvon does have reason to hype something – the highest accuracy among meters – 10%; most meters come in at within 15% of laboratory tests.

This released from the company – Auvon exceeds International standards functioning within ±10%, or ±10 mg/dl of laboratory values over 95% of the time. This is beyond the ISO passing standard  of within ±15% or ±15 mg/dl. The manufacturer is certified with CE mark, GMP, ISO 13485:2016, and ISO 15197:2013 without having any recall on the market in the past 14 years.

Of course there’s no way for me to test its accuracy. I can only say it always did seem accurate for what I’d expect, and when I checked it against the meter I own, it was always within 10 points. I’m not setting up my own meter as the better point of accuracy, only as another data system. Right off the bat I like the assurance that greater accuracy gives me.

Then there’s the advantage of simple for those of us who, tired of messing around with our devices, crave simple. Like (almost) all meters today, this meter needs no coding, it turns on when you insert the strip and off when you take it out, it takes a small drop of blood (0.7 ul) and 6 seconds to give you your result. It comes with an inexpensive ordinary lancing device and lancets, (I don’t remember if meters include lancing devices anymore) a little paper diary to record your blood sugar numbers, and of course an instruction booklet for the meter. How nice it’s only 35 2”x4” pages instead of the encyclopedia most manufacturers enclose. 

The Avon glucometer does what I basically want my meter to do: tells me my blood sugar, stores my recent blood sugar values, and gives me a 7, 14 and 30 day average. Mind you, there’s only one function button on the meter. You have to cycle through to reach whatever you’re looking for. Still, pretty easy. I feel Auvon may have kept the cost down on functionality and materials in order to invest in the strip technology that provides the greater accuracy. That may also be why this meter does not come with a hard case, but satiny-like little carry bag.

The last thing I really like about this meter is the really quick, almost magnetic feeling of how speedily the strip pulls up the drop of blood. I don’t know if there’s special technology that causes that, I imagine there is. Also the channel for the blood to enter the strip is wider than it is long so I’m thinking this may also enhance the quick blood suck. Forgive my draconian language 😉

If you want a meter with bells and whistles, and one you can charge, Auvon is definitely not it. You cannot charge this meter. Instead, you get a pre-packed disc shaped (3-volt lithium) battery that we all remember meters once used. But it you want a small, quite light, easy to fit in your hand, more accurate and simple meter, I think you’ll be pleased.

The Auvon includes 50 test strips and costs about $20 on Amazon. Additional strips cost about $.15/strip.

3 weeks to take advantage of learning, fun and expert advice

Christel Oerum, who wrote a guest post here recently, and hosts Diabetes Strong is offering a free 3-week ‘Fit With Diabetes Challenge’ in January 2021 with lots of experts in the field – and everyone is welcome to join.

Fitness guru, Christel, along with her team of experts (featured above) will share the most important things you need to know to live a healthy life with any type of diabetes. And it will be fun.

Not only is it free to participate, but there will be weekly prizes! You’ll get daily challenge emails, a lot of interaction in the closed Diabetes Strong Facebook groups, free workouts from Glucosezone, and live webinars like, “Ask a Diabetes Educator Anything” with Gary Scheiner, “How to Work Through Diabetes Burnout” with Bill Polonsky and “Healthy Eating for The New Year” with Toby Smithson.

What’s not to like or take advantage of here? Register and learn more here.

Big news: A new test to see if you’re at risk for type 1 diabetes

Just got this news from the JDRF. It’s an enormous benefit in families that already have a member with type 1 diabetes (T1D). And maybe even more so in families that have no member with T1D, like I was. 85% of T1D diagnoses happen to people with no family connection to the disease.

You can order a test here. It’s a simple blood test that screens for whether you have type 1 diabetes autoantibodies. If you have them, it means you are at a very early stage of T1D and likely to develop the full-blown condition and become insulin dependent over several years.

JDRF says having this early information can help families/adults plan and prepare before symptoms occur. This can help avoid life-threatening conditions like ketoacidosis and possible hospitalization. Also, it’s a run in the ladder of JDRF-funded research pursuing therapies that can intervene and disrupt the disease’s progression before insulin dependency begins.

The test is available to anyone of any age. Check the steps to get the test to your home. There is a fee and you will need to provide payment.

One thing to note: tests are not currently available to those who live in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. JDRF is working to make these available as quickly as possible. You can check the website for availability or email info@jdrf.org

How to make your visit with your HCP more successful

Well, I’d say I’m a triple threat, but there’s only two videos…

As we end Diabetes Month, I’m proud to share my impending splash onto a small screen somewhere near you. These videos will be playing in doctor’s waiting rooms to offer people with diabetes inspiration and education.

Mid way through the pandemic I had a friend drive me to New Jersey where these were shot. Temperature taken, everyone in masks and face shields, I was make-upped and entered the studio. My five person crew were amazing and it was a lot of fun. Most of all, I believe they are five minutes of worthy service. The company that produced them, PatientPoint, offers other patient videos on varying conditions here.

The video above shares a bit of “my story.” The one below offers you four tips to make your doctor’s visit even more useful. As we with diabetes know, diabetes month or not, diabetes is an everyday affair. Wishing you well today and every day.

Here’s to a turkey-less, people-less Thanksgiving

It’s not surprising that a lot of families this year will be separated, or that you might be having Thanksgiving just with your immediate household. Here it’s just me and the husband. And, since I’ve never used my 12 year old oven for more than storing pots and pans (typical Seinfeld), it’s also a turkey-less Thanksgiving. But we’re still thankful.

Especially because I’m making one of the husband’s favorites, my low carb almond flour crust pizza (pictured above) Last time I discussed this dish, with my cousin, she emphatically told me I wasn’t making pizza at all! “Where’s the cheese?” she yelled. “Where’s the sauce?” she laughed. You call that pizza!

I will give her the point, maybe it’s not pizza, but it is round and I do cut it in 8 triangular slices – and that’s enough for me. Use the recipe linked above and add whatever topping you like. I dice whatever vegetables I have in the house like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, mix with olive oil, red pepper and a little salt and pile on top for the second cooking. Sometimes I’ll also make a pesto to throw on top and avocado slices.

For those, however, who are going traditional today, this seemed carb chart is a great service from Beyond Type 1. Enjoy, count your blessings and be thankful for whatever you do have, no matter what your poison.

Travel during COVID, what to know

David Kindness, a fellow type 1, reached out to me wanting to share his joy of travel and tips about traveling during COVID with you. Here is his guest post for which I am greatly appreciative. I, a once veteran world traveler, have not left town since COVID began in my building way back in March.


Note: Since we are currently experiencing an off the charts rise in COVID infections, please take all the requisite steps to be safe, and pick your travel window wisely. As much as we want to see friends and family for the holidays, you are advised by the experts that holiday travel may increase your risk of contracting COVID.

David Kindness above

From David:

“Do what you’ll wish you’d done.” Whether you’re a person with diabetes (PWD) or not, you only have one life, and living it in fear is never a good answer. I’m a 27 year old medical lifestyle, product and adventure photographer with 18 countries and more than 30 US states under my travel belt.

I’ve cultivated hobbies like photography, rock climbing, trail running, hiking/backpacking, graphic design, travelling, and longboarding, among others. I’ve also had type 1 diabetes and celiac disease for more than 12 years now.

When I think about living a life free from fear, I imagine sitting down with my future self and asking him what he wishes he’d done. Then I do my best to figure out how to make that happen. While the prevalence of COVID-19 has heavily impacted both people’s ability and desire to travel, I’ve found that it’s still possible to see the world safely – albeit with a few more hurdles than in the past.

From day one, getting diagnosed with diabetes felt like a ball and chain had been attached to my ankle. How could I have time for hobbies when I constantly needed to focus on managing blood sugars? How can one leave the stability of one’s home and experience the uncertainty of travel and adventure with diabetes? How can you integrate blood sugar management into the activities you love?

With 2020 being racked with COVID and socio-political uncertainties, answering those questions has become even more difficult. But travel is not only possible with diabetes in the year of COVID, it can also be filled with joy and fun.

While pursuing the life you dream of may involve leaving the comfort of the life you already know, I can say first hand that it’s worth it and that it’s possible to manage blood sugars and stay healthy on the move… even with COVID. For me, travelling at any time with diabetes means checking blood sugars a little more often and finding creative ways to keep carbs on hand and insulin at the right temperature. It means micromanaging my blood sugars more than usual and being thoughtful about what I’m eating and when. It means planning for time zone changes, different languages, and different food types. It takes a little research and some critical thinking. But that’s about it, and in return, it’s possible to travel and experience the world freely with diabetes.

In the year of COVID, one of the most important aspects of travelling is taking a PCR test (the one where they tickle your brain with a giant Q-Tip) to make sure you’re negative for COVID before flying. Testing sites are popping up all over the country to provide rapid PCR tests to those looking to get on planes destined for locations either domestic or abroad – just google “PCR COVID testing sites near me” to find the locations closest to you. The results will be delivered through either an online portal or through the mail, and they should arrive anywhere from one to three days after you are tested. Once you get a negative result – meaning you don’t have COVID – bring a digital or printed copy (or both) to the airport to prove you’re safe to travel.

In addition to testing negative, travelling with COVID also means wearing masks in airports, on planes, and in taxis – improving safety and reducing the chances of airborne transmission of the virus. I recently traveled to Aruba, a tiny island country located nine miles off the coast of Venezuela. While people were required to social distance in the airport, all the seats on the both Delta and American Airlines flights were full, but everyone was required to wear a mask during the entire duration of the flight. Both airlines attested to having very low or no infections caused by close proximity on planes, and knowing that everyone on the flights tested negative and were required to wear masks was comforting.

When I and my travelling companion arrived in Aruba and deplaned, we happily presented our negative test results to Aruba’s airport authorities. They checked our temperatures and we were on our way. All in all, the process was quick and smooth. Including going through customs, we were out of the airport 30 minutes after deplaning. We were also happy to see that people in Aruba typically wore masks during any kind of gathering –restaurants, shopping, and tours included. In terms of COVID the island felt safe and low-risk.

With all the fear about COVID, I actually found a unique comfort in travel. When you walk into an airport or get on a plane, everyone around you has had to test negative for COVID to be there, including you. When travelling to Aruba during COVID, the planes felt safer than my local grocery store because I knew everyone around me had tested negative and was wearing a face mask for the entire flight. The result was a strange sort of comfort in a very weird pandemic-riddled year 2020.

So what’s the point of all this? Well, the point is that for all the cautionary tales newly-diagnosed PWDs hear from loved ones, all the fears and worries we subconsciously cultivate for ourselves, and the wrench that COVID has thrown into the gears of our lives, our most incredible lives are still out there waiting for us.

If you plan on travelling soon, plan a little more, take an extra COVID PCR test or two, and stay smart and safe. The lives and adventures we dream of are still out there. So do your dreaming, do your research, prepare well, enjoy – and don’t forget your facemask. Do what you’ll wish you’d done.”

David’s website: https://www.type1wild.com/

David’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/type1wild/

From David’s medical photography portfolio, taken in Aruba September 2020

Omnipod tubeless insulin pump offers free 30 day trial

I want to share this information I read on diaTribe. Click here for fuller article.

Basically, Omnipod is available for a free 30 day trial if you want to give this tubeless, disposable insulin pump a try. You’ll get a script which you can take to the pharmacy for your free pump.

Note: You are not eligible for the free 30-day trial if you have Medicare, Medicaid, or other federal health insurance, if you are a member of Kaiser Permanente or United Health Care, or if you are already an Omnipod customer.

Click here to get to the Omnipod website to request your free 30-day trial.