Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dexcom Software for the Mac!

So those of you that have a PC have been able to use Dexcom's software that came with the system when you got it. Those of us with a MAC haven't had such luck. Until very recently. They came out with Dexcom Portrait on the Web and it works with either MAC or PC. I was so excited to try it out because I hadn't been able to see more than the last 24 hours of data from my CGM.

It was so cool to be able to look at my average BG from the last 7, 14, or 30 days and see how often I was in range (70-180 mg/dL); it was 78% of the time. It also offered recommendations for changing basal rates based on patterns of lows during certain time periods. I occasionally have lows in the night that cause me to have to get up and correct them and this software pinpointed exactly what time period I was having this issue so that I could properly adjust my basal rate. I could never pinpoint the time that it kept happening because I was usually half awake when I'd get up and then later it was just a small dot somewhere between 12 am and 6 am.

I know I'm really late to the party on this but as a MAC user I've never been able to see this. I'm hoping to use this to keep a tighter control on my numbers and to help avoid as many lows and highs.

My last 7 days of the roller coaster life.

- Keep flying steady

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Diabetes Awareness Month

So it's been a while since I've posted and there's a lot that has changed since I last updated this blog. I graduated from the University of Florida back in May with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. I'm now in my first year of pharmacy school back at the University of Florida, but at the St. Petersburg campus - not in Gainesville. This means I'm no longer playing Quidditch which was what one half of this blog comprised. It was about playing Quidditch and how I dealt with keeping my blood sugars at a good level. Without Quidditch, I will be continuing to write when I can, but about diabetes in general.

As it is the first day of Diabetes Awareness Month, I figured today would be a good day to return to writing. And as it is T1D Day, I figured I would discuss the stigma associated with diabetes.

First, let's consider what a stigma is. From a quick google search, it is "a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person." The first thought that comes to mind for me usually is the stigma that was placed upon those with mental disorders, something that they had no control over. Over time this stigma was lessened as people grew to understand the causes of these mental disorders, but even today I know it's still there.

And it's definitely prevalent for people with diabetes. On social media, people will take pictures of some sweet treat and put #diabetes after it. Or they will say, "I'm going to get diabetes from eating this." Or in response to a diabetic, "You can have that. It has sugar in it."And so on. There is definitely a lack of understanding here. Many people don't really know much about diabetes. They know the word obesity is often associated with the word diabetes. They don't pay attention to which type, or even how it is associated to that type. Even with Type 2, you cannot assume the person to be overweight. There is a genetic side there too.

But those that blame and shame us Type 1's by saying that we ate too much candy as kids or that we did something else to cause us having diabetes are the ones that really infuriate me. They are the ones that are keeping the stigma alive. I wish I had the time and patience to educate each and every one of them, but that just isn't possible. This kind of disgracing makes living with a disease that is already hard to live with, that much harder. 

Those of you that know me may think that it is pretty easy to maintain because I always make it seem that way, but I'm always thinking about whether or not I counted something right, or did I give myself the right amount of insulin or ten thousand other things. I have plenty of gadgets that do make my life that much easier, but it's not that way for everyone. 

I prefer to use my diabetes to make me stronger than to let it pull me down. I know many other Type 1's that do the same. But we all have our moments where it gets to us. When people go around perpetuating the stigma the surrounds diabetes, especially those that should know better (health professionals), it gets a frustrating. I would say I've had it pretty easy myself when it comes to these situations - my family, friends and doctors have always understood everything pretty well. There were rarely any "you can't eat that" situations. It was always "how can we find the right time for you to eat that." And for that I'm grateful.

Given that yesterday was Halloween I figured it best to ignore twitter for a bit because there would be far too many people writing "#diabetes" on pictures of their loot from the night. One day I hope people will learn to educate themselves before making a "joke" that just isn't very funny.

- Keep flying steady

Thursday, June 12, 2014


So it's been a while (a year) since I've posted on here. My senior year of college kind of took up all of my time and I wasn't able to post anything. Since my last post I've competed in several Quidditch tournaments, including World Cup VII, graduated from the University of Florida, and been accepted into UF's St. Petersburg campus for pharmacy school starting in the fall. However, I want to talk about this past weekend.

Team Flag

The one weekend that I always look forward to in the year is the one that contains the Students with Diabetes (SWD) national conference. Every year the conference gets better and better. This year was no exception. Honestly, I would probably enjoy the weekend if it was just a bunch of us SWDs hanging out and there weren't any talks or any real plan. Obviously, that isn't the case and the talks make the weekend even better.

Jim Turner talking about life and diabetes.
"You think it, you go there and you be there."
On Friday night we were split into groups and had to come up with a team flag and a skit based on a topic we were given. My groups became the "Diavengers" and developed a skit based around the topic of "perks of having diabetes." While at first we couldn't come up with any ideas we ended up getting to the idea of getting through airport security faster and being able to carry a gatorade through security in case your BG goes low. Being that we were the "Diavengers" our skit involved the Hulk getting a low BG in line for security. Needless to say he got angry. It was pretty fun and mostly made up on the spot, which made it more entertaining. After everyone's skits actor Jim Turner told us some interesting stories of his life with diabetes. Low BG dreams can be interesting.

That night was concluded with a dance party and general social time. After reconnecting with some old friends and making some new ones I was kind of exhausted and called it a night earlier than I normally would have at a conference, but that left me being awake for all of Saturday!

Saturday started with Zumba for those that wanted to go (I am so not able to follow Zumba). After breakfast for me since I skipped Zumba was Mike Lawson bringing the humor to diabetes. His talk had us doing fun things like coming up with phrases for memes like success kid and not sure fry. This talk was followed by the first of two breakout sessions.

For the first talk I chose to go to the one on diabetes in the workplace and insurance with Tom Boyer as our speaker. I learned about some things I didn't even know we're happening. Apparently there was a bill in California that recently died on the assembly floor that was trying to charge people for sharps containers every time they bough lancets or needles. There are similar bills in New York and Rhode Island that haven't yet been defeated (to my knowledge).  The California bill was defeated because due to the help of advocates! I also learned that there is a high potential for discrimination against PWD in hiring, which is why some will not mention they have it until after being hired.

The next breakout session I went to was a talk on exercise.  rian Fee gave an excellent talk on endurance and managing BG levels while exercising including using such things as Clif Energy Shot Gels and Chews as well as using Nuun in water instead of drinking Gatorade to replenish electrolytes. I also learned that an optimal starting BG for working out is somewhere in the range of 120-145 mg/dL and that excercising in an anaerobic zone will increase your BG levels to an undesirable range.  The second speaker of the talk was a personal trainer that had us try out a workout that involves just us and a little bit of room. We completed a workout of 10 lunges, 10 squats, 10 leg to leg lunges (I don't remember what these are actually called), and 10 jumping squats paired with planks and push-ups followed by doing squats along with a song for two minutes and planking for a minute while rolling a ball between people. Completing the solo part of the workout (excluding the song also) would help maintain and even build muscle mass. I feel that I learned a lot from this session and I know I am more inspired to exercise and I hope to use what I learned to improve.
Dr. Ed Damiano on the bionic pancreas

After this session was lunch and the vendor fair. I didn't get much of a chance to talk to the vendors, sadly but I did get my a1c checked during this time and found out it was at 6.1! After this came probably the most anticipated talk for me, the bionic pancreas.

A sample screen view of the bionic pancreas
Dr. Ed Damiano gave a very informative and interesting talk on the bionic pancreas that he has been working on developing and on the process his team has gone through to get to where they are today. He believes that in just 39 months they could have their bionic pancreas on the market! Even if that ends up being a few months or even a year too hopeful, I find it to be very remarkable. Scott Scolnick spoke of his  xperience wearing the bionic pancreas for 6 days and 5 nights. He tried to "break" it by eating some foods that are usually a diabetics nightmare; foods that are full of fat or full of sugar. However, try as he may, the bionic pancreas kept up with as much as a normal one might. He said that he almost felt like he didn't have diabetes anymore. I'm excited for the bionic pancreas and cannot wait to see these next 39 months go by very quickly.

The last talk before we departed for dinner was a talk about risky behavior and diabetes by Joe Solowiejczyk. I learned quite a few things from this speech -most not from the speech but from my fellow Type 1's that were also listening. He asked us questions about how we dealt with the burnout from dealing with diabetes 24/7. He spoke of taking "diabetes vacations" to relieve that burnout. For me I did really understand at first. In the thirteen and a half years I've dealt with diabetes I've never really seen it as having a choice. I took the responsibility of taking care of my diabetes as a necessity like breathing. Yet when these questions were asked most people in the room readily had a response as to what they do. I guess I never really stopped to think about the toll that diabetes takes on us. I usually find some outlet to put any of those frustrations into (e.g. Quidditch, gym). I guess I never thought how other people deal with the daily frustrations of diabetes. I now know some people will take mini vacations and not think about their diabetes. They won't do it for dangerous amounts of time, but enough to feel some sort of relief from the daily "madness." Sometimes it's the little things that also get you through the day. Instead of testing every time some people may just look at their cgm and say "eh, close enough." But it's the feeling that you're more powerful than your diabetes that gets you through.

My fortune cookie from dinner
Since Joe was our last speaker for the day we were off to find dinner somewhere nearby the hotel. We walked over to Westshore Mall and ate at P.F. Changs. We played the "how to bolus for Asian food game" and hoped we were right. After dinner was a Luau at the hotel's pool. More fun times were had here and I really enjoyed being able to connect with more of my fellow Type 1's and getting to know them better. I stayed up pretty late that night talking to friends new and old. When I finally went to my room the bed was so comfortable I practically fell asleep immediately. I was awoken by my roommate Martin saying "Jeremy is your dexcom going off?"  Unfortunately it was telling me I was low, which was odd for this weekend because I couldn't get my blood sugar to go under 200 for most of it (I will forever and always blame those mysterious cookies).

Breakfast! (Probably too much protein)
The next morning I woke up a lot later than the previous one to try to get some of the sleep I missed by going to bed late. After a breakfast of eggs fruit and a Level protein shake it was time for our last speakers. First up was David Joffe talking about diabetes advances. Though I felt that I knew some or even most of what he was telling us this speaker was of particular interest to me because he was doing exactly what I want to do. He has a PharmD degree and is also a certified diabetes educator (CDE). I will be attending pharmacy school in the fall and afterwards I hope to eventually become a CDE.

Our final speaker was Tye Maner who spoke about leadership principles. I feel like though this was the least relevant to diabetes, this was probably the most relevant speech to life. He spelled out leadership with different principles of leadership:
L: Listening to understand and not to just respond
E: Energize and motivate with your leadership
A: take Action! Don't wait for things to happen
D: Develop a purpose (I don't think I fully realized mine until this weekend)
E: Enable others to do their best
R: Reach out and reach back (give to the community and they will give back)
S: Self-control. "You never have to apologize for a thought."
H: Handle human relations well.
I: Integrity. Who you are when nobody is looking.
P: Positive. Life is not fair but it will be what you make it.

Nicole Johnson crowning me Miss America
After Tye's leadership talk, Nicole Johnson, the whole reason these weekends exist, gave some closing remarks. A good takeaway from the weekend was "Diabetes: nobody left behind." As long as we are here for each other we can beat the beetus. We can rely on each other to get us through to the next stage. Whether the next stage is the bionic pancreas, a cure, or some other development our support for one another is what keeps us going and even laughing about diabetes.

The weekend concluded with us saying our goodbyes and "cya next year"s while some us got a bite to eat for lunch before departing back to our regular lives, away from that one weekend a year where we aren't anomalies, but we're the most normal thing in the room.
I must thank Nicole Johnson for creating this unique weekends for us SWDs. I always look forward to this weekend very year now and I hope to be able to attend for many more years. This was my third conference I attended and they all have meant more to me than I can really put in words. I have met so many great people that I hope to stay in touch for many years.

- Keep flying steady

Some pictures of some new friends and some old ones (some photos were not originally mine and actually belong to Libia, Marsha and Alicia):
A crew of us from 2 years ago!
The lunch crew!
My fellow tweeters! (@T1Diabetes101(@JayZelll), @MarshaWeiss03)

Monday, June 3, 2013


This past weekend was one of a few times where I have felt that I truly belonged no place else but where I was. I'm talking about the Students with Diabetes 2013 National Conference. This is the third year that Nicole Johnson (Miss America 1999 and a T1D) has hosted this event and it was the biggest yet.

Me, Ben, Laura, Danika, Liz, and Paige at the blue party!
After last year's conference I could not wait for the next one. And when the day finally came it was definitely worth the wait. This year it was held at a hotel instead of in a dorm at USF and it was a great place for it to be held. On Friday after check-in and acquiring our diabetes swag (awesome shirts, backpack with goodies) we got to hear Sebastien Sasseville talk about being the first Canadian T1D to climb Mount Everest and about his experience with the Sahara Race. He used these experiences to give a very inspirational and motivational speech. I personally learned a good strategy to commit to getting things done. By "throwing your pants over the fence" you force yourself to followthrough and complete your task or else you'll be running around without pants! Sebastien also said two other things that I really found inspirational and thought-provoking:

"People won't remember how long it took you to get to your dream, but they will remember if you quit. Don't give up."

"One day you wake up and there is a dude called diabetes in your room and you realize you have to get along."

The first one is comforting in that it inspires not to ever give up. No matter how big of a dream you might have, as long as you keep working towards it and one day finish it. However, if you give up everyone will remember the failure. The latter statement is a rather more comical way of remembering that diabetes is not going anywhere so you might as well coexist with it peacefully instead of trying to "beat" it.

My new friend Alicia
After Sebastien's talk came dinner and then the Blue Party! It was a great time to get to know some new people and we also filmed a cool video that I got to speak in and will be coming out later this year. I met some cool people that night and we stayed a little after the party talking. These people were Alicia, Tiani and Rebecca.

The next morning we got to hear from Dr. Bill Polonsky about diabetes and relationships. He talked about the "diabetes police" which we all know someone who asks like they are our diabetes police officer. He speech was not with out such humorous things as the blood glucose fairy, who we can blame all of our odd BG's on and calling "cheating" on certain rules "vacationing." One of the last things he said I thought was clever and a very necessary thing to do. When dealing with hypoglycemia you should "do the the opposite of what Obi-Wan said to Luke: Don't trust your feelings, trust the numbers." Often when deal with low BG's you don't really know how you feel, but your meter can give you a number and you should always know at what point you should be treating for a low. Never just go by how you feel, when the numbers can tell a more accurate story.

The entire group at the Blue Party
We then broke into separate guy, girl and type 3 sessions. We had a great talk in the guy section, but what happens there stays there. Sorry ladies, our secrets shall remain. After this we had lunch and the vendor fair where I talked to Blake from Sanofi who had helped me when I had trouble with my insurance company and getting my BGStar strips and Kristin from Insulet who is actually my local rep for my Omnipod and whom I've spoken to on the phone before. It was great actually meeting these people who have helped me in person.

After lunch we had Tom Boyer talk to us about advocacy. I learned some surprising statistics, such as the fact that diabetes funding has dropped 20% in the last 4 years. He showed just how important it is to get out there and advocate for more funding for diabetes research and advocate for other things for diabetes.

Finally we were at the "star" presentation of the weekend. It was Dr. Aaron Kowalksi's turn to talk about the Artificial Pancreas Project. The first step towards this would be an insulin pump that would automatically turn of due to low BG. This is actually already available in Europe but the FDA is dragging their feet on it here. The next step would be a pump that would reduce it's basal rate as you got close to low BG. Logically from that you would next want it to increase the basal rate as you got close to high BG. He also talked about some other projects being worked on, including an insulin that you would be able to give at the beginning of the day and you would be good for the rest of the day.

Jmiah's cardboard cutout
After this talk Jmiah spoke about his life with diabetes and how he uses it to inspire teens and Michelle spoke about exercising and diabetes. This was followed by a quick "chair zumba" session. We then all got ready for the beach luau.

At the luau we had Sonny's chicken and baked beans and other delicious foods. Unfortunately we didn't get to stay long because there was a thunderstorm threatening nearby. However, it was still great because I got to hang out with my new diabetic friends and for a few minutes got to geek out with one of them over Doctor Who. We went back to the hotel and hung out for the rest of the night. It was awesome to get the opportunity to get to know some of these people better because everyone has a different story to tell and while we all share a common disease, we are all still truly like snowflakes: each one of us different -- and with a very interesting story. And then Ava, Nicole's daughter, brought the bedazzles out for everyone to bedazzle their pumps and meters. I ended up throwing a bunch of the ones that didn't stick to anything at Alicia instead of bedazzling anything - whoops! After a bunch of us spent the next few hours just talking it was time to call it a night.

Some of the group from last year!
The next morning we had a motivational speech by Dr. Nick Hall of the water tribe. He spoke about how his sailing experiences have taught him not to give up and that we can have control over our lives even when it does not seem like it.

It was time for a few last pictures and then to say our goodbyes - until next year, of course!

I feel like I learned so much this weekend and I would not trade this experience for the world. I feel rejuvenated and ready to live with that dude diabetes for another year. I also feel ready to go advocate and bring more awareness to T1Ds.

- Keep flying steady

Edit: Also, I swear something must have been in the bacon because every morning my BG levels skyrocketed.

(So I am posting a bit out of order for events, but I really wanted to talk about this past weekend. However, I will have a post about Quidditch World Cup VI soon! Also, if I made typos, sorry. I'm very tired right now but I wanted to write this.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Southern Regional Championship

Once again I must apologize for my lack of posting. Between school and work and quidditch I have not had nearly enough time to do all of the things that I want to get done. However, I finally found a little bit of time to finally write this.

The Southern Regional Championship for quidditch took place the first weekend of March in North Augusta, South Carolina. Thirteen teams were vying for one of six spots to qualify for the World Cup, which will be happening on April 13-14 in Kissimmee, Florida. Having come in second place at World Cup last year, my team, the University of Florida, was eager to get back there and prove that were just as good if not better than before.

See? Cold.
The first day of playing started with a barely visible snow flurry.  The SOUTHERN Regional Championship was one of the coldest. Makes perfect sense, right? Anyway, I guess it put us all at a slight disadvantage seeing as we're all southern teams and most were from Florida. The day also included several rounds of very cold rain.

We started out pool play by facing Ringling College of Art and Design. After losing to them in the last Swamp Cup my team really wanted to beat them this time. After a well-fought game we ended up winning 150*-40 (* represents snitch catch). This was a great confidence boost to start the tournament off.

Next up we had Brevard Community College, who we greatly underestimated. However, we still pulled off a 130*-90 win after the game went into overtime.  We then played College of Charleston and won 100*-50. Our first day of games concluded with a win of 160*-0 over Florida International University. I scored a few of our goals on the first day, but none of them were as exciting as those that I scored the next day versus Tennessee Technological University (TTU).

Throughout the first day of games my blood glucose levels remained surprisingly steady.  They started out a bit higher than I was comfortable with having, but the soon came down and then stayed relatively steady. I'm not sure if it was due to how I chose to change my basal or if it was due to the somewhat healthier food that the team had for lunch and as snacks, but whatever the case, I was glad to have my BG's on my side.

The second day of the tournament started out just as cold as the first but without precipitation.  We fit the majority of our team into our small camping tent in order to try to stay warm.  Our first game of the day was against TTU.  We had never played them before, so we were not sure what to expect.  It was a well-played game on both sides. I scored two of our goals this game back-to-back. On one of these goals I am still not sure how I scored because I could not see the hoop. The other one was one of the best blocking and dodging runs down the field I have had recently.  We ended up winning 110*-60.

Our final game of pool play was against USF, a team we had not beaten in a while.  I got another pretty cool score in this game and we ended up winning 80*-30.  Thus, pool play was concluded and we went undefeated in pool play!

Now it came time for the games that would qualify us for World Cup. Being the top seed in our pool, we played the fourth seed from the other pool for trying to qualify for World Cup.  This happened to be Florida Atlantic University (FAU), who we ended up beating 140*-20. With our win over FAU we qualified for World Cup!

Because TTU beat Florida State University in the first round we were set to play them again to see who would go to the finals for the tournament. TTU was better prepared to play us this time around and gave us a much harder game and they ended up beating us 110*-50.  Both of our games against them were really great games of quidditch.

We may not have gotten to play in the finals, but we got what we came for - a spot in the Quidditch World Cup! We also ended up placing 3rd in the tournament!

As for my BG's on this day, they were a little less cooperative. I kept having to bring it up from going too low.  However, I feel like as long as it was not below 80, I was playing better than on the first day. On both days of the tournament I had both my CGM and a pod on my stomach. Wearing compression Under Armour and putting a little bit of tape on them help keep them in place nicely and I had no problems with them the whole time.

It was a great tournament and now I cannot wait for World Cup to get here!

-Keep flying steady

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Most Magical Place on Earth (for my blood sugars).

This past Thursday my family and I went to Disney World for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. It was a great way to celebrate being done with exams and the fall semester.

Me and my brother on the Tea Cups
The evening started out great with a trip to Downtown Disney to eat at Earl of Sandwich where I had a BG of 118 at around 5 o'clock. From there we headed to the Magic Kingdom and made it into the park before 7.  Right away we headed to the Buzz Lightyear ride and then hit up Space Mountain, the Motor Speedway, the Tea Cups and Dumbo within an hour.

Under the Sea!

We then decided to get hot chocolate and cookies and waited in line for about 15 minutes - our longest line of the night. Before getting this delicious snack my blood sugar was 154.  We then went on It's a Small World and then headed to the new part of Fantasyland. Under the Sea was a pretty cool ride that easily summarized the story of the Little Mermaid in an aesthetically pleasing way. We then got more hot chocolate and cookies (BG  122!) and found a good place to watch the fireworks.

After the fireworks show we headed to Frontierland to ride Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad. There was absolutely no wait to ride Splash Mountain because it was a bit cold outside so we got right on the ride.  My brother, Bobby, and I were the only ones from my family to ride and, of course, we got a little soaked on the way down. However, it was well worth it. We then went to ride Thunder Mountain Railroad, only to find out that it was closed and they did not know when it would be fixed and back up.
The Parade!
So, we went down the path a little to watch the parade that was to be happening soon. We then got more hot chocolate because this was the one night of the week that it was actually cold. This time I forgot to test and just bolussed. Soon after we headed out of the park and back home. It was really great night. I then decided to check my blood sugar and found out it was at 100! I could not believe that after all of the walking and the hot chocolate and cookies that could have thrown me either way I ended up exactly where I should be. You just never know what is going to happen I guess. Diabetes sometimes has nice surprises too.

-Keep flying steady

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Finals Stress

So I have one final left and then I am done for this semester. I just got out of my physical chemistry final on which I don't think I did very well. Before the exam I checked my blood sugar and it was 143. However, in the middle of the exam I could tell it was dropping and I was losing my focus. Luckily, I had a Level glucose gel in my pocket. I was able to focus better on the exam within a few minutes of  consuming the delicious Strawberry-Banana glucose gel. This may have affected my test-taking for a few minutes, but my blood sugar was back up in no time at all.

I'm now preparing for my last final, Anatomy. After that I am free and get to go home to my family on Wednesday and then on Thursday we are going to Disney! I'm sure I'll have something to post about that.

Also, it seems that my primary doctor is currently sitting on my referral to DexCom for my next shipment of sensors, so I am currently without my CGM. I have, however, been testing my BG levels a lot more during this time, which is good because up until this test, my BG levels have been a lot higher than normal, including an inexplicable 400 earlier today!

-Keep flying steady