Traveling, trials, and tribulations

About six weeks ago I was approached by Abbot here in the US to trial their new Freestyle Libre System. They sent me two free sensors and a reader and asked me to post on social media and here on the blog about my honest opinion of the product.

As some of you know I have used the Freestyle Libre system in Australia and love it. So trialing the US version has been a no-brainer. Even though I have used the product on and off for over a year I was excited to trial the Freestyle Libre System in the US because of its new and different features.

Instead of a start-up period of one hour, it has a 12- hour warm-up period. I inserted mine in the morning so it was ready to read by dinner time which meant I could feel more secure overnight when my levels are more volatile.

The sensors last for 10 days (as opposed to 14) and you need a prescription from your doctor. On average the cost for a sensor in the US seems to be less than Australia. I think it depends on the Pharmacy you get them from here and the co-pay coverage by your insurance.

I popped my sensor in on the first day with a FB live (see below) it was absolutely painless and they’ve improved the adhesive factor. You get a reading by passing the reader over the sensor. It has good range and works through several layers of clothing. i.e winter jackets!

After patiently waiting for it to warm up (12 hours seemed like forever) the readings came in almost 40 mg/dl lower than the fingerstick readings taken with the reader. The Freestyle Libre System comes with a reader that can take blood glucose fingerstick readings and even Ketone readings with FreeStyle Precision Neo and Ketone test strips.

In my previous experience, it can take up to 24 hrs. from insertion for fingerstick readings to match the sensor.  Sadly they continued to be out after more than 48 hrs. It wasn’t a great start and bummed me out, especially because I had to get up at 3 am and treat what I thought was a low-low blood sugar which in the end wasn’t one.

I decided to call customer service to let them know what was up. Can I just say, Abbot customer service rocks! It was such a great experience. They were really thorough and asked a ton of questions about the readings I was getting to the kind of test strips I was using. They compared all sorts of data to determine whether it was a reader or sensor error.

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In the end, they decided to send me a new reader and sensor. I was advised that my new sensor and meter would arrive the next day or I could go to my local pharmacy to pick one up. They were courteous, thoughtful, kind and it really felt like they cared. Luckily Abbott had given me two free sensors to trial so after removing the first, I popped in the second (on the opposite arm) and crossed my fingers.

Success! The sensor was neck and neck with my fingerstick readings all the way. I’ve never worn it on the back of my right arm before (I favor the left side) so I was curious to see if having it on my dominant arm would affect the readings. But it hasn’t made a difference.

I also decided to throw caution to the wind to test the Freestyle Libre’s durability getting it wet, pulling clothes on and off and doing my vigorous yoga practice. It stuck like a dream throughout. However, numbers could be almost 20 mg/dl out after excessive movement like going up a flight of stairs or from indoors to outdoors, doing handstands or getting out of the shower. When I was settled the readings were consistent. So if I saw a trend arrow heading up or down I’d wait about 5 minutes and scan again.

I totally love the convenience of being able to scan as many times as I like and how I can see everything plotted on a graph. It was interesting to see how I dipped low in my sleep and then sharply rose high and then leveled off. Those kinds of readings helped me to adjust my basal dose.

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Halfway through the trial, I flew to Utah. I was advised not to go through the scanners and to ask for a pat down. The security guy at JFK tried to convince me he knew better. Telling me that the waves of the scanner were no worse than using a cell phone. I waved my doctors letter at him reiterating I wanted to opt out.

The device survived the flight (as did I) and gave me peace of mind. Having to fumble for my glucometer in the middle of traveling can be a real hassle. I remember taking a flight back from Munich where the passengers next to me also lived with Diabetes (type 2). Every time I checked my meter they looked over my shoulder and made a comment and asked if I was okay. It was sweet but bugged me and in the end, I went and checked in the restroom.  Scanning discreetly throughout the flight meant I could keep my levels to myself.

I also caught a Sinus cold during the trip which meant consistently higher readings and the necessity to increase my insulin dosage to correct. Having the Freestyle Libre system on meant I could keep a close eye on my levels which helped me deal with the extra stress of traveling while unwell.

Even though there were a few bumps at the start of the 10-day trial, I’m giving the FreeStyle Libre System the double thumbs up. I still have one sensor left to go so stay tuned for my next update on the blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

If you’d like to learn more about the Freestyle Libre System you can visit their US site here  

It’s been a huge month

Just the other day I received a note in my inbox from a high school buddy expressing concern over the escalating posts on my feed related to Diabetes, “Are you okay?” he asked, “just want to check you’re not getting worse.” I had to think about my reply.

Am I okay? Well of course. Is my condition worsening? It’s just the same as it ever was. But isn’t it great that somebody noticed.

If just one person is made more aware of the millions of us out there dealing with this incurable and sometimes unmanageable disease is that enough?

Yoga for diabetes

This month I made it my business to step up and share in as many ways as possible why I feel more people should know about Diabetes. The more we can advocate, the more likely others will come onboard and help raise much needed funds in all sorts of arenas. It’s not just that we need to raise money for a cure. We also need to raise money for those in countries less fortunate, where Insulin is unaffordable or where continuous glucose monitors are unavailable.

Diabetes should never be a death sentence but for some, without adequate medication, it is. Before I was diagnosed I never even considered the fall out from this disease and I assumed like everyone else that Insulin was the next best thing to a cure. But I have learned so much in the last year about how complicated and difficult management is. From the outside it looks easy, but from the inside? Not so much….

With just two days left to the end of Diabetes Awareness Month I wonder… did I press the like button enough?

Urged by my fellow advocates I scrolled back over my FB activity log and had a look at what I’d achieved. Bear with me it’s a bit of a roll call.

Beyond Type 1 fundraising campaign

  • Joined the JDRF Type 1 looks like me campaign and changed my profile Pic and shared a link for Diabetes Awareness Month
  • Shared the Beyond Type 1 Million Dollar campaign and made a donation
  • My personal story of how I thrive was published in a #1 Best Seller called “Unleash your Diabetes Dominator” by Daniele Hargenrader and was interviewed by Daniele for her YouTube Series
  • Had my story published in Insulin Nation
  • Created a survey to find out what would motivate diabetics to bring yoga into their daily management program
  • Participated in the Insulin4all campaign to put the world back in world diabetes day – a program created by Type 1 International
  • Published 3 blogs, posted memes, filled out surveys, voted for funding for projects like The Betes
  • Wrote a piece for Beyond Type 1
  • Wrote a story for Diabetes Counselling online here in Australia
  • Started a Yoga for Diabetes YouTube Channel
  • Sent out my first Yoga for Diabetes Newsletter
  • Started a study with Type 1 Diabetics to see how Yoga supports them in their daily management
  • Connected my cousin who runs a program called CrowdMed to see if he could help a young woman with Type 1 who also has a mystery illness, get closer to a cure
  • Celebrated my 7 year Diaversary  ( anniversary of my diagnosis)
  • Donated to A Sweet Life

meme for a sweet Life

Looking back on the last month I can’t help but feel proud. I’ve stayed focussed and committed to spreading more awareness in ways that are meaningful to me as a yogini and writer.  As the work of the last month makes room for the holiday season, I hope all of us whether diabetic or not will continue to spread the word. Lets bring Both types of diabetes to the forefront of peoples minds and truly work together towards a cure!

With great respect….Rachel

I believe I can fly

It’’s all very well and good for me to rave on about Yoga and how it keeps me calm in the face of a crisis. But ten minutes ago ?

Kinda hypocritical.

Maybe I could get away with two handfuls of almonds

WRONG

okay another two handfuls of almonds

Wrong again!

What about a quick grind of some chia, mixed with hemp and sesame seeds?

A quarter Apple?

Get REAL…..Theres no way a few nuts, seeds and a shriveled old apple from the back of the fridge are going to up a downward trend.

But hey I believe I can fly…..

meanwhile the kitchen looks like this

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and I look like this

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BUSTED!

I know you know what I’m thinking….maybe I should eat the fridge…

I pull out the OTHER glucometer. The one that’s reads slightly higher. It feels a bit like a thumb suck. But right now I’ll take any reassurance I can get. I calculate between the two, come up with a figure I can stomach. Plop myself on the couch and upload a pic to Instagram playing the waiting game.

30 minutes later…

the kitchen looks like thisIMG_6914

i look like this

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But my meter looks like this

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think I’ll do some yoga …..

 

 

 

 

 

What keeps me on the straight and narrow

its 5.30 am and I’m high. High on life, love and the pursuit of happiness?

I wish!

I’m looking down the barrel of a big fat 11, thats 11mmol/L. Bummer drag was a phrase we coined in high school.

Yep that feels apt.

The thing is I’ve done nothing wrong. There is absolutely no reason for this insane number. And I know in comparison to some it’s not even that bad. Nothing an extra shot or two couldn’t resolve. But that’s the thing. I only get one shot a day…

Don’t get me started about the medical system here in Australia, the lack of access to technologies, the way they progress you through medications. Whats’ free and what’s not. But still it’s better than having no access to medication. So really I’m not complaining.

I know this sounds like a rant but really I’m trying to segway.

Because this is how I cope.

Y O G A

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I’m going to verticalise it.

Y
O
G
A

YES
Opportunity
Gratitude
Awareness

These four simple words keep me on the straight and narrow.

YES to rest, walks in nature, whatever makes me feel good. Yes to a daily yoga practice, breathing, stillness, meditation. Yes to LOVE, friendship, support. Yes to Insulin, blood sugar checks, Doctors and CDE’s. Yes to whatever helps me to do my best every day to manage the unmanagable.

Seeing everything as an OPPORTUNITY… to grow, accept, relax, be patient, create boundaries. Communicate, advocate, reciprocate.

Being Grateful. ( no explanation needed)

Wherever AWARENESS goes energy flows. That means if I’m thinking about that stupid number, I’m going to keep thinking about that stupid number until I’m more stressed out than I was before I looked at that number.

 So what’s the solution?

I have a choice… I can look at that number and remind myself that a number does not define me. I have a high reading. Thats all. Theres 24 hrs in a day and anything can happen.

I’d rather be aware of the beautiful sunny day, the plans I’ve made to meet a friend. The love I feel for my partner and the excitement of a new project on the boil.

And You? What keeps you on the straight and narrow? I’d love to know…

with great respect…Rachel

 

 

Seeking Balance

When I first started Insulin I wondered if there were any other yogis out there like me who’d been diagnosed with Adult Type 1 Diabetes . It didn’t take me long to find Melitta Rorty. Melitta is a true advocate for LADA (Latent Autoimmune Disease in Adults or Type 1.5)  I find Melitta’s blogs and articles refreshing and grounded because she breaks open the difficult topic of misdiagnosis. Recently we had a chat because I wanted to find out what yoga postures she used on a daily basis to stay calm in the face of the daily diabetes grind.  There was so much juice in the conversation that I asked her to share some tips for practicing yoga with diabetes. Enjoy…Rachel 

“I started practicing yoga in 1994, six months before I noticed my first symptoms of diabetes. When I was newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, at the age of 35, I was in extreme despair—I thought my life was ruined. But yoga saved my life then by allowing me some space and freedom from constant thoughts about my disease, and yoga continues to save my life today by helping me stay calm and focused despite the daily grind of self-care that those of us with Type 1 diabetes must do. I recommend yoga to anyone who has to live with the stress of chronic illness.

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Yoga is a practice that uses poses, breathing techniques, relaxation, and meditation to balance mind, body, and spirit. In the West, hatha yoga, which involves stretching the body and forming different poses while keeping breathing slow and controlled, is most commonly practiced.  Yoga has much to offer people with diabetes, and probably its greatest benefit is stress reduction.  Diabetes is exacerbated by stress, and yoga is a useful tool to reduce stress.  It can both set the stage for better overall health and also reduce the stress associated with the myriad of details necessary for our daily diabetes care.  High levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol raise blood glucose levels, and thus reducing stress is integral to good blood glucose control.  Yoga cannot cure diabetes, but the many benefits of yoga (stress reduction, increased sense of well-being, discipline, and focus) can help make the disease more manageable and have beneficial impacts on blood glucose control and on our lives.

For me, exercise, yoga, and meditation are my “magic pills.”  If only it were so easy as to pop a pill! 

To give you an idea of my routine, I attend a weekly class with a wonderful, experienced teacher.  I also have a morning home yoga and meditation practice.  My simple back care yoga routine plus meditation gets my day off to a good start.  Yoga has an immediate physical and practical impact on my health but it also affords me an emotional benefit over time.  Below are some of my tips for practicing yoga with diabetes:

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Asanas:  As with any physical activity, one must listen to and respect what your body tells you in the moment.  It can be risky to practice some poses, for example crow pose (bakasana), when you have low blood sugar or even close to low blood sugar.  Also, if you have diabetic complications such as retinopathy, many inverted poses are contraindicated.  This is where a good yoga instructor (or doctor or your own research) is worth his/her weight in gold.  Come to class early and don’t be afraid to talk with the teacher and ask questions.

Insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs):  I almost always turn my insulin pump down for yoga class.  I am a “blood sugar burner,” meaning physical activity drops my blood sugar significantly, and I need to be careful to avoid hypoglycemia.  I always have rapid-acting glucose handy.  For a particularly vigorous yoga class, I turn my pump down by 80% at least one hour prior to class and for the duration.  For my regular yoga class, I turn my pump down by 50% one hour prior to class and for the duration.  I place my CGM on a block or some other raised space so that no one steps on it.

Meditation:  Many people say that they can’t meditate because they can’t keep their minds still.  Thoughts end up swinging through their mind like monkeys swinging from branch to branch in the jungle.  But virtually everyone will have “monkey mind!”  The point is to meditate, to be mindful, and to be in the present moment.  I practice a very simple style of meditation, breath meditation or Insight Meditation; meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg is my guide and resource.  There are countless tools to help you with your meditation practice.  Just find a quiet space, and give it a try.  Even a moment of quieting your mind can bring you a sense of peace.

Magic Pixie Dust:  Sadly, within the yoga and meditation communities there can exist “magical thinking” that is harmful to those of us with Type 1 diabetes, or any other serious disease.  Yoga cannot cure us; yoga cannot get us off of exogenous insulin.  A yoga teacher once yelled at me in the middle of class and said “Why do you have to wear that [my insulin pump], why can’t you take it off for class, how can you do inverted poses with your insulin pump on?”  This kind of ignorance and lack of compassion can push people away from yoga when it could be a beneficial part of their healthy lifestyle.  Because of that incident, I now do more to inform yoga teachers about my Type 1 diabetes and the medical devices I use to manage it (insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor).  Before a recent yoga and meditation retreat, I let the teachers know I have Type 1 diabetes, and let them know that my devices are on vibrate mode, but still make some noise.  I received the most compassionate response.  Yoga should foster compassion within us and for others; teachers who truly care for their students demonstrate compassion and not judgment.

If you are new to yoga, the best way to start a yoga practice is to find a competent teacher with whom you feel comfortable, and whose style speaks to you.  Many yoga studios now offer Yoga Basics classes or an introductory yoga series of classes.  These “yoga training wheels” classes can be especially beneficial for those who have no experience with yoga, because even beginning classes can be too advanced for those just starting out.”

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Melitta Rorty is many things:  traveler, geologist, nature enthusiast, yogini, and advocate.  She is also a person living with Type 1 diabetes.  In 1994, Melitta discovered yoga and a lifelong passion was born.  This passion would become her salvation in 1995 when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  Originally misdiagnosed as having Type 2 diabetes, she almost lost her life because of the wrong diagnosis.  Her mission in life was born of that experience and she now works to educate, advocate, and inform about the importance of proper diagnosis and early treatment with insulin for patients with Type 1 diabetes.  Melitta is eternally grateful to all of her yoga teachers (Barbara Voinar and Tias Little being her current teachers).

Set Your Intention

www.rachelzinmanyoga.com

Happy New Year! It’s the beginning of another year and like everyone I am so excited to implement some new routines and try to let go of some challenging habits. I learned long ago that New Years Resolutions don’t really work.  In the short term they might motivate us back to an exercise program or encourage us to change our diet but ultimately we want to make a lasting change; one that can carry us past the initial excitement of trying something new.

I always start the year with a beautiful meditation to set my intention. An intention is different to a resolution. An intention gives you room to breathe. You might have the intention to check your blood sugar more often, be more vigilant with counting carbs or even work on your emotional relationship to your health. An intention says, “I’ll do my best” rather than “I must get this right”. In Yoga when we practicing a posture if we feel we need to resolve the pose it will actually limit us. Having the intention to do our best means we may not do it perfectly but eventually we will learn to surrender to what is.

Meditation  practice works in the same way. If you have always avoided meditation because you think you need to stop thinking, or you can’t sit still or meditation just isn’t for you. Think again. Meditation is actually concentration and studies have found that two factors need to be present in order to elicit whats called the Relaxation Response. 1. You need to perform a repetitive activity.  2. With the intention to let go of the thoughts in the mind.

So why not join me in setting your intention for the New Year …. with great respect Rachel