Off the Dial



My timeline on Twitter and Facebook blew up last night as Ryan Reed won the Florida 300 at Daytona. Four years after he was told a type 1 diabetes diagnosis meant he would never race again, Reed got his first NASCAR victory. Very cool.

We first met Reed at a local JDRF event, in 2011. He was immediately active in the diabetes community; by denying his doctor and pursuing his dreams he became an inspiring role model. We met him again last year, after he’d signed with the ADA and the Drive to Stop Diabetes. Still the same kid, just trying to manage his diabetes and race.

I hope Ryan Reed has tons of NASCAR fans who have no idea he has T1D. I’m sure he has fans who don’t care that he has a Dexcom (just like Benny’s!) mounted to his dashboard and who don’t wonder what his blood sugar was when he crossed the finish line (yeah, I’m curious. Guessing high, due to the adrenaline).  I do know that when he won, the diabetes community went bananas.

Congratulations, Ryan. Hope to see you soon!

read more and see the final lap (click here)

Always Be Nervous?

We took advantage of a four-day weekend to head to my parents’ house in Florida. It was about as cold as it gets here in North Carolina, so it was nice to have a few days of sun. Benny’s Dexcom sensor was hanging by a thread when we left on Thursday; after close to two weeks we knew it was coming out any minute. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal but my husband didn’t travel with us.

Since we started using the CGM in December of 2013, Slade is the only one who’s inserted the Dexcom sensor. He does a great job. He’s fast, like all the advice says you need to be, and he and Benny have a routine.  It’s to the point that if Slade’s got a late meeting and the Dexcom comes off, we’ll just wait until the morning. It’s a little weird that I’ve never done it, since we’ve always been a great team on the diabetes care for all these years, but it’s working.

When the sensor came off two days into our trip, I didn’t expect Benny to let me put a new one on. And that would’ve been okay. I love using the Dexcom, but we managed diabetes for 7 years without it. To my surprise, Benny said he was ready for me to give it a try. “I’ll set it up, Mom,” he said, helpfully pulling the tape off the inserter and positioning it on his stomach. “You just push the plunger, pull it out and be fast. Like Dad.” He removed the “safety” and looked at me expectantly.

From a purely cosmetic perspective, the Dexcom inserter is one of the most poorly-designed devices I’ve ever seen. It’s terrifying to look at – you either think “giant needle” or “gun.” There’s a reason you can’t find any pictures of the inserter on the Dexcom website. The insertion process is also completely unnatural. The instructions even say, “Your first sensor insertion will not feel natural.” Very reassuring.

There’s a plunger and a collar. You’re supposed to put your fingers above the collar for insertion and then switch and put your fingers below the collar to pull the plunger back up. It’s a bit complicated (and unnatural!) but I love the CGM itself and I know it’s made a difference in our diabetes management.

I willed myself to be calm. “No problem, dude,” I said. “Let’s do this.”

Benny pinched up his skin (which helps) and counted 3-2-1. I pushed the plunger but as I pulled back he shouted, “Mom, you’re done! Stop! You’re going to yank the whole thing off!” I was working so quickly, I had already pulled the collar back without realizing it.

“That was great, really fast! You were even better than Dad,” Benny said as he clicked off  the applicator and popped the transmitter into the new sensor. We were done. I did it!

“I have to tell you something,” I said to Benny. “I was really nervous.”

“Then you should always be nervous, because that didn’t hurt one bit.” Benny smiled, “I can’t wait to tell Dad!”

It’s nice to be back on the team. I guess nervous is my secret weapon!

Doesn’t this look completely natural? Nothing to be nervous about here! (Sensor insertion at 2:00)



Correction Factor Correction

We started using an insulin pump almost eight years ago. We have the Animas Ping and at this point, I know my way around it pretty well. But sometimes, I get a reminder I’m not quite the diabetes expert I think I am.

Our last endo visit went really well, with a great A1C. As soon as we walked out of the office, though, B’s blood sugar shot up and stayed high. At least it felt that way.

I sent Dr. V. three weeks of Dexcom reports and he recommended we adjust ISF overnight. We hadn’t looked at the Insulin Sensitivity Factor in a while, so that made sense. Dr. V said “Go ahead and make it stronger” so I did.

Or so I thought.

The ISF is also called the correction factor. It’s the amount of blood glucose that’s lowered by 1 unit of regular insulin. You need it to figure out the amount of insulin to give when your blood sugar is high and you need to get it back down into your target range.  An example, and how it looks in the pump, is 1U : 50. That means it takes one unit of insulin to bring your blood sugar down 50 points.

To make it “stronger,” as my doctor suggested, you need to lower the second number.  But my brain doesn’t think that way. Stronger means bigger, right? So I went ahead and changed it to 1U : 60. Nice try, but that meant Benny got less insulin. So the corrections we gave over the next 24 hours were weaker. Way to go, mom!

I realized my mistake the next day when chatting in a diabetes Facebook group. I was complaining about how changing the ISF had seemed to make things worse. Another mom very kindly pointed out my error. (Note: I do not advocate taking medical advice from random people on social media!)

So, we dialed it down (up?) to 1U : 40. Much better.

I feel foolish admitting to this, but I know I’m not the only one who’s messed it up.  When I Googled Insulin Senstiivity Factor, none of the top search results were very useful (at least to me). I did think this was a pretty good explanation.

We wound up adjusting a few more settings this go-round and Benny seems back to whatever normal is supposed to be. And I’ll work on my math skills so I can get the next correction factor correction correct.

Spare a Rose

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

If flowers are part of your plan, consider buying one less. It’s hard to believe, but that one small gesture could save a child’s life.



Lack of access to insulin is the most common cause of death for children with diabetes in many countries around the world. In fact, in some parts of the world, the estimated life expectancy of a child who has just developed diabetes could be less than a year.

We can help change that. Spare a Rose, Save a Child is a simple and powerful idea.  Buy one less rose this Valentine’s Day and use that money to donate to Life for a Child, an International Diabetes Federation program which provides life-saving diabetes supplies, medication and education.

You can still give your sweetie a big bunch of flowers and you’ll both show some love to children around the world who need it.

Click here to learn more and to give.