Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pump Surgery

I have been on-call this whole month and it has been chock-full of interesting patients, though the majority involved issues with every hormone besides insulin. Keeping my head above the proverbial water has been a struggle.

So, of course, life decided to throw me a few more challenges in the midst of the work-related ones. Nothing serious - just annoyances like flat tires and stolen credit cards. And tonight I had my own medical issue that stole my attention away from the many tasks on my to-do list.

It started with a simple need for a pump site change. Then I got that low battery warning. No big deal, except that the battery cap on my pump appeared to be cemented on. I pushed and pushed and pushed the quarter against that plastic slot like it was the only job I had and it did not give me a hint of a budge. I pushed so hard that the plastic started to deform, causing the quarter to slip and slide out of place with each push. I started to doubt my approach.

Lefty loosey, righty tighty, yes? YES! I was definitely lefty loosey-ing, but without the loosening. It figures my husband was working late on the one night I REALLY needed him, haha.

I broke down and called the pump technical support, and the nice lady on the other end of the line suggested I find a pair of needle-nose pliers to help pry that battery cap off. She was willing to wait for me to find some, but I knew that was a lost cause. I went for a different kind of tool.

Rummaging through my husband's desk, I found a pair of surgical forceps -- medical pliers! They are normally used for grabbing on to surgical suture or vessels or skin, but I used them to operate on that battery cap and operate they did! It was off in less than 5 seconds.


We may not have the most traditional toolbox in our house, but it gets the job done!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Washed Away

A childhood in Florida is amphibious. The summer heat is suffocating, and the only way you feel you can breathe is to keep yourself submerged in the cool water of pools, lakes, and oceans.

All of my fondest childhood memories involve the water. I would jump and doggy paddle and dive and dunk to my heart’s content. Hours later my parents would shout for me to come inside the house, but I would quickly duck under the water and pretend I never heard it.

Only diabetes had a real way of pulling me out. But not for long. Keeping juice near the edge of the pool or next to the beach chair would have me back in action minutes after a swimming-induced low. As a child, I felt invincible in the water.

But it wasn’t until just prior to my wedding that my now-husband convinced me to try SCUBA diving. He is a diving enthusiast, but I had never given it much thought before our relationship because no one close to me was a SCUBA diver. I finished my certification a few weeks before our wedding, and after the ceremony we jetted off to beautiful blue waters to try out my new skills. It was love at first dive.

I am extra vigilant of my diabetes before I dive. I check my blood sugar just prior to jumping in to be sure I am running between 200-220 mg/dl before the 45 minute swim. Sometimes there are strong currents that force me to work harder than expected and it can zap my blood sugar. Rising to the surface for a glucose source during the dive is not an option for risk of getting the bends, so I pack my dive vest with one or two 30g carbohydrate gel packs that I can squeeze into my mouth in case I go low under water.

I am also sure to be extra vigilant once I’m out of the water, again checking my blood sugar and treating any residual high or low blood sugars.

But being under water allows me to feel free in a way that I never am when I am above it. My oxygen tank and BCD replace my pump and CGM. Any electronic beeping comes from dive computers and underwater cameras, not high and low alarms. The only thing stinging my skin may be an occasional brush with fire coral, not pricks of a lancet.

The shouts and demands of life above are replaced by the calm sound of the bubbles flowing from my mask. I float effortlessly over underwater landscapes and creatures, the weight of the life with diabetes washed from my shoulders.