Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Seven Random Things

Sandra tapped me to join in.

To participate, one must:

  • Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.

  • Post these rules on your blog.

  • List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself

  • Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

  • Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

  1. I am what my husband calls a “binge gardener”. I will often spend entire weekends outside setting up new flower beds, planting trees and whatnot – then ignore the whole thing for months. I figure any plant that can’t deal with this kind of neglect doesn’t deserve a spot in my yard.

  2. For our honeymoon, we spent ten months doing some low-budget backpacking through the Mediterranean: Italy, Tunisia, Greece, Austria, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal on a fellowship my husband won. I always claim I married him for the ten-month honeymoon. He always claims he married me for the extra four grand he got as a married student.

  3. I once took a completely bizarre language course that taught seven languages simultaneously. To this day, I can still say “Hello, Fish-face!” in German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Arabic. This was after the honeymoon, when we were homesick for travelling and could not afford to go anyplace…

  4. When I was little, my next-older brother’s nickname for me was “Grace”. This was because I was a complete klutz, and would fall down the entire flight of our non-carpeted stairs once a week or so. Surprisingly, I never once hurt myself doing that, though I would regularly turn my ankles just walking to school.

  5. I really enjoy faux-finish painting. I started with the castle room, and just recently did this in our basement band room:

  6. I am apparently a natural at ping-pong. Who knew?

  7. I own a 1925 player piano that we just had restored. It’s the only way I’ll ever be able to play an instrument (see #4 above), and I’m sometimes found doing Singing Frog imitations while pumping away.

I don't know who hasn't been tagged, so if you read this and aren't tagged yet, consider this your tagging!


Friday, September 21, 2007


So on Saturday I'm in the kitchen, trying to clean up the mess of us being a virtual single-parent family for a week, when Number One Son walks in.

"Mommy! Are you still radioactive?"

"No," I say, and he runs over and gives me a big hug. Now Number One Son just turned 13, and hugs really aren't his thing, so I hug back happily, glad for a bit of spontaneous cuddling.

Then he backs up, grabs his neck, and gasps, "Ahh! My thyroid!"


Thursday, September 13, 2007


Because the first attempt to kill off my thyroid with radioactive iodine didn’t work.

Because it was an abyssimal failure as a playroom (As in I didn’t make the mess in here, Mom! times three).

Because that honking huge bed from my in-laws needed the proper room to set it off.

Because I’ve always wanted a window seat to read in.

Because we need more than one spare bed when out of town friends and family visit.

Because my BG never seems to do as well as when I’m coating myself in sawdust, dirt, or spackle.

Because my dad didn’t mind me borrowing all his power tools for months at a time.

Because if a hyperactive thyroid is giving me all this extra energy, I may as well put it to good use.

Because if I’m spending my second week of the year shut away in a room, I might as well enjoy being there.

Because when you don’t normally do caffeine, starting the weekends with an espresso makes you really productive.

Because if I do develop superpowers this time, I’m going to need a really cool secret hideout.

Because as a guest room it was just a place to collect clutter.

Because my husband got the basement for his playroom.

Because neat wall painting always escapes me, but I can make messy look pretty darn good.

Because if I’ve got a spare bedroom, I can do what I like with it.

Because our cat looks really good curled up on a window seat. (Don’t worry, he is not allowed in while I’m radioactive).

Because I’ve been a castle freak my whole life.

Because all three boys think it’s the coolest sleepover room ever.

Because it will probably always be a work in progress, but I wanted a fun work in progress.

Because that cute boy from high school English class, to whom I’ve been married for the past nineteen years, has many great qualities but is not an actual prince. (Though I hear real princes are pretty high maintenance, anyways).

Because Number One Son and his friends really like it as a place for playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Because last time I was locked in here, I got to play around with my sewing machine for a week.

Because I’ve collected really weird souvenirs over the years and needed a place to display them.

Because my elliptical really does look like a medieval implement of torture.

Because we always have more books than shelves to hold them.

Because barring a winning lottery ticket, I’ll never afford to live in a real castle.

Because if I made the whole house look like this, people would think I’m really weird, but one room practically makes me a medieval Martha Stewart.

Because if I’m spending a week locked away in a tower, it should look like I’m locked away in a tower.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So What's Not to Like?

I said I would post more about using the new Guardian instead of my Dexcom Seven. Here it is.

I would say the “honeymoon” with this device is over. I had originally thought that by setting the low threshhold to 100, I could bypass the Guardian’s rather crappy performance on lows. So I have. And most of the time that is OK, I get a low warning that I am 100 or 95, and test and see that I am really in the 70s, so I treat if it’s dropping and forget about it. But that doesn’t always work. Today, for example, I was working and my “Low Predicted” alarm went off. It said I was 120 with one arrow down. I tested and got a 60. Quite the difference there.

Still, though, it caught it. So that’s not the most annoying thing.

The most annoying thing is when a sensor just flakes out and your readings either launch skyward or drop like a rock. Sure, my Dex has done this a handful of times in the 15 months I have had either the STS or the Seven. But I have been using the guardian a little over two weeks and it has happened 3 times.

The first time I was at work. It was the middle of the morning and I had been drifting down after breakfast when I suddenly got a predicted high warning at 170. I tested and was 125. A few minutes later Guardian said I was 190. Then 225, then 300 in the next half hour. I tested again. 122. I entered this value on the Guardian, which by now had me in 400+ range, and promptly got a CAL ERROR and a request for a new reading. Now, when Guardian thinks you have a CAL ERROR and asks for another reading, it doesn’t really mean it. If you give it that second reading you’re begging for a second cal error and a bad sensor. So instead you wait for your BG to level out if it was weird, and don’t give it a new reading for an hour or so.

So I waited. And waited. Ate lunch, went for a walk, tested two hours after lunch and was 170. OK, let’s tell Guardian. Cal Error. Bad Sensor. Since I’m in a study, I can’t just restart, I do need to change the sensor. Which is at home in the fridge. Big PITA.

The second time, I was in bed. It was not quite one in the morning, and I got a predicted low warning. I tested and was 130, right where I want to be at night. A few minutes later a high warning. Then a predicted high warning, then a bunch more high warnings and assorted beeps. I was never over 160 on the meter and pretty level. Again I tried a sync up, and got a cal error. Now it was also beeping for a “Meter BG Now” that I wasn’t going to give it. Needless to say, after that first alarm, I never fully got back to sleep. At 5:15 I finally got out of bed, flung the damn receiver into the closet and shut the door. I could still hear its muffled complaints in my 30 minutes of sleep before morning. I had to call in sick to work that day because I just couldn’t function.

At 9am I let Guardian out of his prison and let him Find Lost Sensor. He happily chugged along for the rest of the time with no problems.

Then a few days ago it happened again. Only this time Guardian thought I was low. I was 156. After an hour or so of bogus below-40 readings, that I refused to dignify by trying to sync up again, I locked Guardian in his closet and went downstairs. Several hours later he was paroled and again behaved himself.

So now I’m thinking that clunky software and carrying a goddam potato clipped to my belt might be a small price to pay for actually getting to use the darn sensor when I want to. If I’m at work when Guardian flakes out, how do I get him out of range for long enough to smack some sense into him? Ask a friend to keep an annoying beeping or vibrating device in their office for a few hours? Put him inside some kind of Faraday cage to block out the signals? Leave him in the ladies room with a “please don’t steal me” post-it note? Or just give up and go back to Dex, who flakes out every few months not every few days.

I’m done with this study in a week and a half. I find now that I’m looking forward to my old clunky but reliable Dex.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A new CGMS study

Note - I wrote this post overa week ago and hadn't gotten around to downloading the pictures to go with it...

Yes, just a few weeks after upgrading to the Dexcom Seven, I am participating in yet another CGMS study, this one using the Minimed Guardian system. Unfortunately my Dex was in a Day 11 fade-out when I got the new system, so I don’t have a good comparision, but I may try to put a new Dex 7 sensor in at the same time I put in my last sensor for the study.

In the meantime, here’s some comparison pix (please excuse the quality I’m not at my best first thing in the morning):

The sensors (side view, I know they look a bit beat up – sorry) Yes, the Minimed really is that much thicker)

With transmitters

Transmitters again


Now, having been completely exasperated with the MM product in the first study I did, I’m going to revisit some of my original concerns.

Accuracy at BG readings under 100: I still feel the Dex is more accurate here; but I currently set my low threshhold on the Guardian to 100, meaning that it sets off the “predicted low” alarm when I’m around 85 in real life. So, it’s something I can work around.

Features – by this I mean how much can you customize the alarms. The Guardian wins hands down, having not only a “crossing threshhold” alarm, but alarms for impending highs or lows, and for rapid rise or fall rates, as well as a “snooze” feature (meaning beep again in 20 minutes if I’m still low, or 2 hours if I’m still high), and a regular alarm clock feature. Everything is configurable. Dex only allows you to set the low and high alarm threshholds.

Software – OK, I don’t actually get to use the software until the download at the end of the month, but I was able to look it over at the doctors office, and it is much better than the Seven’s reporting software.

Added bulk – I had been resigned to the Dexcom’s big bulky oval, but didn’t realize what I was missing until I have the Guardian’s reciever, which is basically a minimed pump with the pump guts taken out. Very easy to slip into a pocket, while the Dex reciever is too large to do much except clip on a belt.

So now, having lived with Dex for over a year, I’m starting to think about more than just the accuracy. I mean, I can easily work around the Guardian’s flaw by setting my “low” level to 100. But how to you work around lame software, limited configurability, and the bulky receiver? Next year when my pump goes out of warrantee it might be worth it to go for the all-in-one system. I’m tempted.
Dexcom, are you listening?
Next post - I remember what irritated me so much about MM in the first place....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Duelling Dexcoms

Copying Bernard, I'm posting a picture of my duelling Dexcoms. This shows some data from this morning, after spending all of Sunday doing yard work. The new Dexcom Seven is on top.

This shows me a couple of things:

  1. They really do track quite well - at one point I got low alarms 30 seconds apart on the two recievers.

  2. The new Dexcom Seven is a little more cautious about jumping up at the first few readings after drinking my juice. Actually I had just tested at 102, so both were quite reasonable. When I finally stopped treating them as alternating snooze alarms and actually looked at the screens this morning, one said 61, the other said 62, and my meter said 61. Can't get better than that!

  3. Obviously, I need to quit my job and become a landscaper. I never see nice in range lines like that after a day of programming. And you don't want to know what I was eating Sunday night, but it did include bolus-free eclair, cookies, and lemon Italian ice - and my yard looks great.

There has been a huge gap in my posting. Life intervened - busy at work, big vacation (took the family to Edinburgh, York and London for 2 weeks), visitors and family parties. I still may be getting another shot at superpowers depending on my bloodwork mid-August. If so, maybe I'll have some time to post ; )

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

You would think I’d at least get superpowers

I mean, that’s how it happens in the comics. Radioactive spiders, gamma ray exposure, you name it. So there was always the hope that the pill full of radioactive iodine I swallowed for a hyperactive thyroid could have imparted some kind of special ability.

Hey, it could happen.

Just think of the possibilities here. The ability to regrow beta cells, or corral and destroy the errant T-cells that have already taken down two organs. Being able to wave your hand over a plate (I admit, I do this) and know instantly the precise carb count of everything on it (OK, so that part seldom works).

Or better yet, being able to see different paths 4 hours in the future to know the precise insulin dose you should give yourself to avoid that nasty 327 after lunch.

How about being able to keep you blood sugar level, no matter what you eat? Or turn a chocolate chip cookie into a “free food” just by looking at it? Without changing the taste or texture of course.

There were just so many things that could have happened.

I guess I just wasn’t specific enough about which organ I wanted to regrow.

Because, in the nine weeks since the radiation treatment, my thyroid output has more than doubled. In fact, if it doesn’t die off soon, we’re going to have to try it again.

This time I’ll be hoping it’s the pancreas that regenerates.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Late Night Conversations

A play in six acts

Cast of Characters –

  • Val – an increasingly sleep-deprived, mother of three, type 1 diabetic
  • Pump – an Animas IR1200+ insulin pump, who usually sleeps in the pocket of Val’s tee shirt
  • Dex – a DexCom STS continuous blood sugar monitor, whose job it is to make sure Val’s blood sugar doesn’t go too low or too high overnight. He is set to alarm at values below 80 or over 200. He usually sleeps under Val’s pillow.
  • Clock – your basic digital alarm clock, set for 5:30 am on weekdays, 7 on weekends. Lives on Val’s bookcase headboard next to a large pile of Juicy Juice 100% apple juice boxes (15 grams carbohydrate each) and a scattering of used test strips.
  • Meter – a one-touch Ultra Smart blood sugar meter, whose job it is to provide real data if Dex is getting flaky. He sleeps on the headboard between Clock and the juice boxes.
  • Various and sundry other characters, whose short-lived appearances should be self evident.

Act I

Thursday night – or very early Friday. We can assume that Val went to bed around 11pm, after first checking that both Meter and Dex agreed that her blood sugar was about 140.

1:30 am

Dex You’re low.

Val Hmm? [reaches under the pillow, jabs Dex, who shuts up. Goes back to sleep.]

2:15 am

Dex You’re low.

Val Hmm? [reaches under pillow, jabs Dex again. Then thinking better of it, grabs Meter off the shelf. Pops cap, inserts test strip, pricks finger without turning on the light. Then pulls Dex from under the pillow and hits a button so he lights up.]

Dex You’re low. 68, you know. [Val uses light on Dex to guide her finger to the appropriate spot on the test strip. Meter begins his countdown]

Meter 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 –

[Dex goes dark]

Meter 1!

[Val pokes Dex again, twists him so light falls on Meter]

Meter 46.

[Val stuffs Meter back on his shelf, tucks Dex under his pillow and grabs a juice box from the shelf. Pulls off straw, unwraps it, and finds the little foil dot in the dark. Sucks down juice, tosses box off side of bed. Sleeps.]

2:21 am

Dex You’re low.

Val I know that, let me sleep. [Jabs Dex and rolls over]

2:32 am

Dex You’re low. Really, really low. Like 40.

Val I know that, I just drank the juice. Leave me alone.

2:40 am

Dex You’re low. [Val hits him]

3:28 am

Dex You’re low.

Val I can’t be low.

Dex You’re low.

Val What time is it, anyway?

Clock 3:28 am. [Val grabs Meter, repeats testing procedure.]

Meter 5-4-3-2-[pause as Dex goes dark]-1. You are 54.

Dex (smugly) told you so.

Val Shit! [Stuffs Dex and Meter under pillow, grabs another juice box, then has to pull Dex from under the pillow to light up because she can’t find the spot to put in the straw.] How the hell did that happen, anyway?

Dex Last juice box brought you up to 134, then you coasted back down again. Drink your juice.

Val’s husband (sleepily) You all right?

Val Yeah. Just low. I’ve got juice.

Val’s husband You sure?

Dex We’re fine. [Val’s husband rolls over and returns to blissful sleep. Val finishes juice, tosses box to the floor, sleeps]

3:36 am

Dex You’re low.

Val Will you shut up! I just drank the frigging juice. [Jabs Dex and goes back to sleep]

5:30 am

Clock Time to get up. [Val reaches under pillow, jabs Dex]

Dex Hey!

Clock Time to get – [Val reaches up to shelf, slaps Clock]

5:39 am

Clock Time to get up. [Val groans and sits up. Turns off Clock and reaches under pillow]

Val How’d we do last night?

Dex You are 124. Nice and steady after that second juice.

Val Is that right? [tests]

Meter You are 124.

Dex See?

Act II

Friday night/Saturday morning. Scene – the same. Val was about 86 at bedtime, so she had a glass of milk and a cookie before going to bed at 11.

11:57 pm

Dex You’re high.

Val I know that, I just had a snack.

Dex But you’re high.

Val Yes. Shut up. I’ll be fine in a half hour or so. We don’t want a repeat of last night. [pokes Dex]

3:12 am

Dex You’re high.

Val I’m not low, leave me alone. [pokes Dex].

3:20 am

Dex I said you’re high. High, not low.

Val What was that? [Pulls Dex from under the pillow and hits a button].

Dex 278

Val Oh, man! [Gets Meter from his shelf]

Meter 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 [pause for light] – 1. You are 174.

Val 174’s not bad. And I drop in the morning anyway. [Pulls a wire from Meter’s case and plugs it into Meter and Dex. They converse]

Dex Maybe you aren’t that high after all.

Val Go away, Dex.

4:46 am

Dex You’re high again.

Val Wha…. [Val grabs Dex from under the pillow and hits a button]

Dex You’ve been steadily climbing for the past hour. 172 to 265. [Val hits button again] You did it twice in the last three hours. [Val hits button a third time] All night long. You’re high.

Val Are you sure? [She frowns at the nine-hour graph, blearily realizing that she is seeing The Dreaded Scallops, a pattern she has recognized before. She reaches down and finds where Dex’s transmitter is clipped to the sensor on her leg and presses on it. A click is heard.] Aha!

Dex I’m only as good as my information, you know. So what is your blood sugar? [Val pulls Meter off his shelf, puts test strip in slot, pricks finger]

Val’s cat [jumping on bed] You’re up! You’re up! Feed me. [Val pushes cat off bed. Cat jumps back up] You’re going to feed me, aren’t you? Even if you aren’t I just love you. I’ve told you that, right? And my buddy Meter. Can I have the little bottle of strips? Please? It shakes and it rolls -

Meter Get him off me! [Val picks up cat, drops him off side of bed. Now has cat fur stuck to blood drop, so has to prick a different finger.]

Meter Any day now.

Dex Don’t bother her, it’s been a rough night. [Second finger refuses to bleed, Val pricks a third]

Meter 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – [pause] – 1. You are 143. [Val finds wire for Meter, plugs him and Dex together.]

Dex. Oh. 143. My bad. [Val returns Dex to his pillow and stuffs Meter, wire still dangling, on the shelf. Sleeps]

7 am

Clock Time to get up. [Val slaps him] What?


Saturday night – early Sunday. Scene – same. As with Wednesday, Val had a snack – a glass of milk - at bedtime because her blood sugar was 74.

2:03 am

Dex You’re high! [Val hits him]

3:16 am

Dex You’re high! [Val pulls him out from under pillow, hits a button] You’ve been high all night. Go ahead, ask Meter, he’ll back me up.

Val There is no way one glass of milk can bring me from 74 to 300. Leave me alone.

Dex But you’re high. Ask Meter, if you don’t belive me.

Meter Leave me out of this. You don’t want her getting mad. Remember what happened to Pump.

Pump What?

Dex Not you. The last Pump. Three weeks ago.

Meter Dropped on the bathroom floor. Cracked the screen straight across. It was awful.

Pump Ooooh!

Meter So watch your step.

Dex (worried) She wouldn’t do that to me, would she? I’m out of warrantee, and out-of-pocket besides. [No one answers] Oh, all right. She is high, though.

7 am

Clock Time to get up.

Val [reaching under pillow] Dex?

Dex You’re high. Like 400 plus. I can’t count that high.

Val Shit. [takes meter from shelf, tests]

Meter 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1. You are 374.

Val What the hell?

Dex I tried to tell you, but you just wouldn’t listen.

Val What do I do now? [She wiggles the little button on her stomach marking Pump’s infusion set, thinking he’s disconnected. But it seems fine]

Pump Well, for starters, let’s try three and a half units of insulin. You changed the site yesterday, so it should still be good.

Val All right.

Pump And you could try listening to Dex. [Dex preens]

Act IV

Sunday. It is bedtime. Val has just tested.

Meter You are 157.

Val OK. Good. No snack tonight. Now, I have work tomorrow. You’re going to let me sleep, right, Dex?

Dex I’m just doing my job. Talk to the pancreas. And the thyroid, too, he’s hyper.

Val I mean it, I really, really need some sleep. No interruptions.

Meter (whispers) Bathroom tiles! [Dex gulps]

3:09 am (now Monday)

Pump Uh, Val? [Val reaches under pillow, slaps Dex]

Dex (sleepily) What?

Pump Val? [This time Val hits the shelf.]

Clock Ouch. Hey, what’s the big deal?

Pump Val? [She pulls pump out of his pocket and looks at him incredulously] Umm.. I just thought you should know. I’ve only got 20 units of insulin left in my reservoir, so you’re going to have to fill me by about suppertime tomorrow.

Dex Asshole.

Val What time is it anyway?

Clock 3:10. [Val puts Pump back in his pocket and looks at Dex.]

Dex You are 145. Perfect. And I’d like to point out, I didn’t wake you up. [Val puts Dex back under the pillow and sleeps]

5:30 am

Clock Time to get up. [Val hits him]

Act V

Monday night/Tuesday morning. Scene – same. Val has gone to bed at 10:15, exhausted.

11:31 pm

Dex You’re low.

Val Leave me alone. [Hits him].

12:04 am (now Tuesday)

Dex You’re low. [Val hits him again]

12:13 am

Val’s bladder I gotta go!

Dex See! I told you you were low. [Val pulls Dex from beneath the pillow, tucks him in the pocket with Meter, and heads for the bathroom]

Val’s cat You’re up! You’re up! Feed me. [Val pushes cat out of bathroom and shuts door]

Dex You’re low, you know. You really should check with Meter when you get back to bed. I think you’re 58. [Val finishes, opens bathroom door]

Val’s cat You’re back! Now you’re going to feed me. [Val pushes cat into bathroom and shuts door]

Val’s dog What’s going on up there? Are you feeding the cat? Because if he gets fed, I get fed. [Val ignores dog and goes back to bed, this time switching on the reading light]

Meter What’s up? Oh, a check. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1. You are 53.

Dex Told you. Have a juice box. [Val drinks juice, turns off light, goes back to sleep]

12:27 am

Dex You’re low! [Val hits him]

12:46 am

Dex No, I mean really low! [Val hits him again]

1:04 am

Val’s bladder I gotta go again! [Val gets up, walks to bathroom]

Val’s cat I’m saved! You’re here to feed me, right? [Val blinks at Dex]

Dex You are 55. Talk to Meter.

Val I can’t be low again, after the juice.

Dex Didn’t work. You just went lower.

Val Oh, crap. [Back in bed, Val reaches for Meter]

Meter Again? Somebody have a loose transmitter?

Dex Up yours! [Meter counts down]

Meter You are 39.

Val Shit. [Grabs another juice box]

Dex I tried to warn you, you know. If you’d just listen –

Meter Yeah, it’s the little boy who cried high. [Val ignores the bickering and sleeps]

3:29 am

Dex You’re low!

Val OK, I believe you. [Drinks another juice].

Val’s bladder You really are, you know. Or maybe it was all that juice.

Val I know, I know. [puts Dex in pocket, goes to bathroom, shuts cat in closet]

5:23 am

Dex You’re low!

Val You have got to be joking.

Dex No. 61. Honest!

Val What time is it?

Clock You have seven minutes.

Meter You are 64. Drink some juice.

Val Arrgh!

Val’s cat Um? Somebody? It’s dark in here…

Act V1

Tuesday night to early Wednesday. Scene – same. Val was 112 at bedtime and too tired to care that she should have had a snack.

5:30 am

Clock Time to get up! [Val reaches under pillow, hits Dex]

Dex Hey!

Clock No, it’s me. [Val stares at him]. It’s 5:30. You know, wake-up time?

Val Dex, how’d we do?

Dex Flat at 120, all night long.

Val You mean, we slept the whole night? It’s over?

Dex Don’t get used to it.