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Diabetes Advocacy Keeps Growing!

Its a new year. A lot of people make resolutions to do things like lose weight, check their blood sugars more often, or to get a bit more active. Another option is to choose a word to live by for the year. This is a word that inspires you and encourages you. A word that resonates with you and helps you move towards your goals. My word for this year is growth.

If you have been following Diabetes Advocacy for any length of time, you have seen a lot of changes.

We started out as a place for people to share information about the Disability Tax Credit. We grew to help families who were struggling with their children with diabetes in schools. Diabetes Advocacy became a hub for insulin pump program advocacy and so much more. Over the years, we added a blog to document our lives, review books and products, and share information.

Diabetes Advocacy has also undergone some cosmetic changes. The website is now completely mobile friendly. We can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We have a monthly newsletter once again that shares tips and information.

Do you see how perfectly the word fits? Diabetes Advocacy is growing! This year I will continue to update the site and provide great content and more products. There will be more downloads and tools to make your life easier! There will be more of the great content you have come to love over the past 16 years.

What would you like to see added to the Diabetes Advocacy site? What topic would you like to see us tackle?

All of our downloads can now be found in our new digital store! We will continue to add more products on a monthly basis so be sure to take advantage of our growth!!

Did you make a resolution this year? Do you have a word that will inspire you? Let us know!

Tax Tips for People with Diabetes

Tax tips for people with diabetes

If you are like me, you aren’t overly excited by tax time. The thought of paying in more money is so depressing that you are probably digging through every receipt trying to figure out how you can write off that last Ice-cap from Tim Hortons as a diabetes-related expense. Here are a few tax tips that you may have overlooked.

Diabetes supplies

Keep all of the receipts for your diabetes supplies such as:

  • insulin
  • syringes
  • test strips
  • ketone strips
  • alcohol wipes
  • medical tape
  • Glucagon kit
  • pump supplies including the insulin pump, tape, infusion sets, reservoirs, batteries, and mastisol 
  • Continuous Glucose Monitor, transmitters, and batteries

If you have paid out of pocket for these items or a co-pay after insurance, make sure that you have a prescription for them.

Travel

You can claim the cost of travel to medical appointments.

In Canada you must travel at least 40 km one way to get to your appointment. Make sure that you have a signed letter from the office before you leave stating that you have been there. You will then be able to deduct the cost of public transportation or vehicle expenses.

If you must travel over 80 km one way, you will also be able to claim the cost of meals. You are allowed up to $17 per meal up to a maximum of $51 per day. You can learn more here.

Finally, you can also claim your accommodations and parking fees for travel over 80km. Again, make sure that you have a letter stating that you have traveled for medical appointments.

In the US, you can deduct 23 cents per mile in lieu of gas and oil, plus any parking fees and tolls for travel to medical appointments. If you take a taxi, bus, train, airplane or ambulance you can deduct the actual expense. You can deduct the cost of any accomodations, but unlike Canada, you cannot deduct the cost of meals.

In the US, these expenses must exceed 7.5% of your gross annual income. The amount will rise to 10% in the 2019 tax year. For those living in Canada, medical expenses must be above the lesser of $2,208 or 3 percent of your net income.

HSA/FSA

If you live in the USA, you can also save by contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

These accounts are managed by financial institutions and accessed in the same way as you access your chequing account.

Both a Health Savings Account and a Flexible Spending Account are made up of tax-deductible contributions with pre-set contribution limits. Contributions can be set up through your employer. Both accounts also share the same list of “qualified expenses”.

The difference, however, is in who is eligible. Anyone can contribute to an FSA but only those with a high deductible ($1,350 or more for an individual or $2,700 or more for a family in 2018) health plan are eligible for the Health Savings Accounts. 

The maximum contribution to an HSA is $3,450 for an individual and $6,900 for families.  The maximum contribution into an FSA is $2,650. (at the time of this writing)

Disability Tax Credit

In Canada, we do not have Health Savings Accounts. We do however have a Registered Disability Savings Plan. To access this plan and the associated government grants, you must first apply for and be approved for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).

The DTC is a non-refundable tax credit that reduces your taxable income. To qualify, you must be insulin-dependent and spend over 14 hours per week on your care.

See if you might qualify for the DTC here.

To make sure that you have all of the receipts you need, download our checklist before you start your tax return this year!

19 years later and the guilt remains

I found this photo the other night. It was tucked away in an album I had created for my son when he was just a baby. There were sweet memories and even a bit about the time he spent in the hospital after his diagnosis with type 1 diabetes.  When I saw this photo however I wanted to cry.

It has been nineteen years since this photo was taken.  My son is now a  strong young man living on his own.  The years have brought both of my children many challenges in their short lives and the way they have handled them makes me proud. Looking at this photo, however, cuts me to the core. How did I not see?

When I posted this photo to social media someone commented that the boys looked happy.  Another person commented on how cute they were.  I was struck by how thin my youngest was.  His little face was hollow looking.  His eyes seemed to be sunken in his small head. How did I miss that?

My youngest was always the slimmer of the two boys. He was born a pound lighter than his older brother.  Throughout his life, he has always managed to remain slim. Looking at this photo though, he was beyond slim.  As some would say, he looks poorly.  He has a sickly pallor behind the glimmer in his eye. Why didn’t I see that then?

I now know that his body was eating itself to survive. He was just making enough insulin to keep himself out of the hospital. I know that holiday treats and Christmas dinner must have been hard on his small body.  His blood sugars would have been skyrocketing out of control.  No one was stopping them.  No one was helping his tiny little body to work properly. What sort of parent was I?

I made sure that my children ate very few preservatives.  I attempted to keep my them safe from toxins.  While I thought I took good care of them, this picture suggests otherwise. Somehow I missed this. I didn’t see him fading before my eyes.

19 years ago this picture was taken.  I thought that I was long past the feelings of guilt and sadness. It would appear I was wrong.  An image of two sweet, small faces smiling from under a Christmas tree brought it all rushing back.  This picture of innocence has unleashed a flood of reprimands for my former self.

This is why parents of children with diabetes don’t need society to blame us for our child’s diagnosis.  Years later, we can still berate ourselves for what we didn’t do.  We can still cry over the fact that we failed to protect our children from their own bodies…even when it really isn’t our fault. We still feel carry that guilt.

Make sure that you know the signs of type 1 diabetes. 

Insulin Can Be Deadly. An Insulin Pump is a Tool.

Recently the CBC and partnering news agencies released an article on the dangers of certain medical devices.  In the article, it was suggested that insulin pumps are lethal and should be more closely scrutinized by Health Canada. I would have to correct the CBC in that it is not just insulin pumps that are deadly, but insulin itself.

insulin can be deadly

Too little or too much insulin can lead to death and the amount that constitutes too much or too little varies from person to person, from hour to hour.  There is a term used in the diabetes community, “your diabetes may vary”.  It is because there is no one size fits all dosing when it comes to insulin. A doctor cannot prescribe 6 units of long-acting insulin and 2 units of rapid-acting per meal for all 6 year-old children. She cannot tell all young males of 25 that they should set a basal rate of 1.2units per hour in his pump and bolus 10 units for his meals.

Diabetes varies

Diabetes varies between two seemingly similar people.  One six-year-old could be taller than the other.  One could be in hockey all day while the other was in a piano recital. The twenty fives year old males could both be on the same soccer team but one is a vegan and the other will be enjoying a post-game meal at Boston Pizza.  While both individuals need insulin to live the amount of insulin that they need will vary in every one of those situations.

It is just as impossible to prescribe one insulin treatment for one person.  As one person with diabetes discovered, there are over 42 things that can influence blood glucose readings. There is the fat content of a meal.  How many grams of carbohydrates are in the meal? What activity level occurred before the meal? How active will the person be after the meal? What was their blood glucose level before they ate? Are they coming down with a virus? Are they menstruating? Do they feel stressed at work? The list goes on making the “take 2 units a day and call me in the morning” adage impossible to follow.

insulin pumpsInsulin pumps are an insulin delivery method.

Instead of injecting a long-acting insulin, the pump administers small amounts of insulin on a regular basis throughout the day.  The amount of insulin it delivers is decided on based on a number of factors.  These factors are examined by both the person’s diabetes team and the person with diabetes themselves. They examine blood glucose and/or a continuous glucose monitor readings.  This is the same way that a person on injections will decide if they need to inject more long-acting insulin.

An insulin pump also allows delivery of insulin for meals and the correction of high blood glucose levels. Instead of injecting a syringe of insulin into their body, a person with diabetes is able to do the calculation with the help of their pump.  They then tell the pump how much insulin he/she needs based on previous glucose readings, trending arrows on a continuous monitor, amount of carbohydrates in a meal, planned activity levels, and much more.

Insulin Pumps do not think

As Dr. Peter Senior stated, the insulin pump does not think for you.  It will help you to make decisions but it is just a machine. Machines malfunction.  As pumpers, we understand this but as Dr. Senior also states “Type 1 diabetes carries life-long risks regardless of how people with the condition choose to receive their insulin.”

We understand that machines can fail.  We can only imagine the heart-break of the families who were interviewed for these articles.  The diabetes community is very familiar with how deadly diabetes is no matter what method of delivery you use.

blue candleDiabetes Kills

If you spend any time in the Diabetes online community, you will quickly know whenever a member passes.  A sea of blue candles will appear on your feed. Our hearts break.  We know all to that it could be us. It may very well have been a friend.

We understand that diabetes is not about the jokes or the memes about Starbuck’s drinks. It is a careful balance of diet and insulin and never knowing when something will tip the scales.

To manage that balance, we need tools. Tools like insulin pumps that carefully mimic the insulin delivery of the pancreas.  We need tools like continuous glucose monitors that now tell us and our insulin pumps what blood glucose levels are in real time and are able to track if they are rising or falling. This ability to predict glucose readings can help to avoid further impairment.

Impairment like the 1445 incidence of hyperglycemia mentioned in the articles.  Hyperglycemia is a very real threat when you use an insulin pump.  There is no background insulin.  If you infusion set kinks inside your body (this is the piece that delivers insulin under the skin), you will not be getting the proper amount of insulin and blood glucose values will begin to climb.

t:slimX2 insulin pumpInsulin Pumps and Sensors are helpful tools

A sensor in the body tracking glucose levels on a continuous basis tells the wearer that more insulin is required. They are able to stop, examine their infusion set, the insulin pump, their activity level and diet to decide the best course of action.  It might be changing their infusion set. It could mean injecting insulin through a syringe.  There could be a problem with the insulin pump. This complete system allows a person with diabetes to more quickly access the issue before they begin to suffer the cognitive impairment that can accompany high blood glucose levels.

Try our 4-day course to help you choose the right insulin pump for your lifestyle.

Checks and balances

Checks and balances for medical technology are very important.  Devices such as insulin pumps must be thoroughly tested and reviewed before being approved for use.  Companies must be held accountable for their customer service and providing proper education to their clients.

The recent media stories, however, creates fear in the wrong place.  The CBC and its partners need to understand that diabetes is unlike most other diseases.  Most people with diabetes walk around and look like everyone else.  They fix your plumbing, teach your children, climb mountains and run countries.  You might see their pump or their glucose monitor sensor.  What you don’t see however is the hundreds of life and death decisions that they make each and every day.  You don’t see the challenges that they face.  They often don’t see them either because it becomes part of who they are.

wearing an insulin pump

Please understand that diabetes is terrifying.  Insulin pumps are simply helpful tools that allow our loved ones to live full and healthy lives.  We need more access and understanding not more fear of something that is already well regulated.

If you are considering an insulin pump, download our ebook to ensure you get the right pump for you. 

Because sometimes you have to laugh at life with diabetes

laugh at life with diabetes

Life with diabetes is stressful but often we can find humour in the most
interesting places! Here a few things that have made us all chuckle over
the years.

Who can forget this video….

Where is the strangest place you have ever found a test strip?

We all know that test strips are actually alive. They move on their own. They can be found in the most unique locations. Here are some of the interesting
places that we have heard of.  These ones made us laugh…a lot! Please feel free to share with us some of the strange places your test strips have ever been found.

test strip in coffee

Thanks to Michael for sharing!!

“Somehow, a One Touch Ultra strip ended up in my coffee cup at work this morning. No idea how it got there, but probably involved a morning blood test of 211 that caused
me to cuss and toss my case across my desk. There must have been flailing test strips at hand, also. So, in the spirit, my Blood Meter decided to pose nearby the swimming test strip.”

Teresa I. found one in her daughter’s thick, curly hair after her daughter brushed it with a brush that was next to Teresa’s bed. The strip stayed in there through a full day of school!

Someone else found on that had been used as a bookmark in a school novel!

Test strips have also been found…

  • In the yard
  • Frozen in the ice
  • In a salad
  • In the washer and the dryer
  • Fishing tackle box
  • The teacher’s sweater pocket
  • On the back of the toilet tank
  • In a make up kit that was cleaned out on a weekly basis. How do they find their way to these places??
  • In a clean pair of underwear!

and of course…

test strip on the stove

On the stove!

Strange infusion set locations!

Not to be outdone, we have also found infusion set sites in some very odd places. We have found them in the tub, by the garbage, in the car and even the bottom of my Swifter vac! Always something new.

Fun Diabetes Diddies

Here are some great diabetes poems and tunes that make us laugh and appreciate the creative people in the diabetes community!

Oh A1c song
Oh A1c

by Alissa

Oh A1c, Oh A1c, I raise my voice to heaven
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, in hopes it’s less than seven
The past three months we’ve had a slump
Despite corrections from the pump
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, just please don’t be eleven

Oh A1c, Oh A1c, we’ve tried to stay in range
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, so it seems very strange
That when I download from her Flash
I see the spikes and then the crash
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, you shall this Mom derange

Oh A1c, Oh A1c, I wake with such a fright
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, to my alarm’s delight
But one day when the Cure has come
I’ll beat that clock until it’s dumb
Oh A1c, Oh A1c, and sleep a silent night

Count the carbs song
Count the Carbs

by Alissa

Count the carbs with cups and scales
Fa la la la la la la la la
Guesstimate when all else fails
Fa la la la la la la la la
Hands and fists are quite a treasure
Fa la la la la la la la la
When without a one cup measure
Fa la la la la la la la la

Factored carbs are even greater
Fa la la la la la la la la
But require a calculator
Fa la la la la la la la la
Units you must designate
Fa la la la la la la la la
Don’t forget to tare the plate!
Fa la la la la la la la la

Candy canes are roughly twenty
Fa la la la la la la la la
You will have to fudge a-plenty
Fa la la la la la la la la
Guess them now and fix it after
Fa la la la la la la la la
Just correct and meet with laughter
Fa la la la la la la la la

I have a little meter
Meter (Dreidel)

By Barbie Paulsen

I have a little meter
I use it through the day,
When finger’s done with bleeding
Then dreidel I can play

Chorus:
Oh, meter, meter, meter
I use it every day
And when I’m done with testing
I throw used strips away (Hah!)

I have a little meter,
It counts down really fast
And keeps a steady record
Of when I tested last

–Chorus–

I have a little meter
I take it everywhere
But when I need to use it
Sometimes it isn’t there

no more lows song
No More Lows!

by Alissa

(to the tune of “Let It Snow!”)

Oh the numbers at night are frightful
And the meter now seems spiteful
I’m exhausted and I think it knows
No more lows! No more lows! No more lows!

All this sugar shoving has me praying
That those teeth are not decaying
How much longer is this going to go?
No more lows! No more lows! No more lows!

For a while things worked out right
Numbers were steady till dawn
But now it seems every night
I’m thinking about Glucagon!

Now I’m thinking it would be nifty
If we could see one-fifty
‘Cause the glucose tabs are running low
No more lows! No more lows! No more lows!

rufus the bear
Rufus the Type 1 Brown Bear

by Alissa and Samantha

Rufus the Type 1 Brown Bear
Had to always prick his toes
And if you checked his sugar
You might come to find he’s low

All of the other brown bears
Thought that Rufus had Type 2
So when they had some candy,
They would tell him, “Not for you!”

Then one day a CDE
Helped him to explain,
“I take insulin, you see,
Sugar is just fine for me!”

Then all the brown bears nodded
As they came and shook his hand
“Rufus we’re really sorry,
Now we finally understand!”

Test Strips

by Alissa

(to the tune of “Latkes”)

Test strips, test strips, I see test strips
Not a little, but a lot of test strips
Test strips, test strips, I see test strips
Not a little, but a lot! Of test strips

Test strips are so useful when they show me my bg
But they turn up later, reproducing magically!

Test strips, test strips, I see test strips
Not a little, but a lot of test strips
Test strips, test strips, I see test strips
Not a little but a LOT!!

Six Tricks to Enjoy Halloween with diabetes.

trick or treating with diabetes
from Charles Schultz

It is that time of year again, time to get ready for the Great Pumpkin and all of the fun…and anxiety that Halloween can bring many parents. For those families dealing with diabetes for the first time, the stress of trick or treating with diabetes can be greater than dealing with the challenges of Christmas.

Children are invited to Halloween parties.  There are Halloween events at school and there is the inevitable night of trick or treating.  What do you do with all of that sugar?? Well here are a few things that have helped some parents get through.

Eat while they walk

Its okay to let your child eat candy while he/she is out trick or treating. In fact, go ahead and encourage it (as long as usual Halloween safety rules are applied of course–Mom/Dad checks candy or it is from the home of a good family friend).  All of the walking, running and general excitement will most likely lead to some serious low blood sugars.  You can help to avoid this by letting your child eat the bars, rockets (Smarties for my US friends) and other treats. Your child will feel “normal” and it will be a fun way to keep blood glucose levels in range.

Halloween treats are great from treating lows when you have diabetes

Halloween is the perfect time to stock up on low supplies. It offers fabulous 15-gram packs of sugar just perfect to carry in your bag and treat lows. In fact, even if your child doesn’t take part in Halloween events, you may want to head to the grocery store during this time to grab a few bags of low treats and save a few dollars! They tend to be a lot cheaper than buying glucose tablets from the grocery store.

halloween treats at mealsMake Halloween treats part of a meal

If you like to stick to a set meal plan, you can still add in some of your child’s Halloween treats. A bag of chips is equivalent to a bread exchange. A snack-sized chocolate bar is the equivalent of a fruit exchange.  For a treat, allow your child to have one of their Halloween items as part of a meal or snack.

Buy the candy back

Some families offer their children cash for their candy.  The children can then take the money that they earned collecting candy to purchase a book, game or favourite toy.  Mom and Dad can take the candy to work or save it to enjoy during some downtime when the kids are in bed!

The Great Pumpkin

Have the Great Pumpkin or Halloween witch come to visit.  Much like buying the candy, parents will exchange the candy while the child sleeps.  In place of their loot, the child will receive a movie pass, book or other treats that don’t involve food.

Donate it

Yet another way for our children to learn care and compassion is to take their candy to a local hospital or hostel. Have them share their candy with children who are unable to go out for Halloween.

Halloween is often a fun time for children. Remember that children with diabetes are children first.  Use some of the tips above to ensure that your child has a fun and memorable Halloween or let us know what works for you in the comments!

Tandem® t:slim X2™ is approved for use in Canada and we’re stoked

t:slimX2 approved for canadaTandem® t:slim X2™ insulin pump has been approved for sale in Canada and I am excited.  I know that this pump is not for everyone but for us…well, we have been waiting since it was first brought to the US market.

We were Cozmo users.  Actually Cozmo lovers.  Any pump after our beloved Cozmo was just not the same.  So many features were missing. It felt like we were going back in time.

When the Tandem® t:slim™ insulin pump came out in the US, I was jealous.  Many of our fellow Cozmo pumpers made the switch and were in love.  It wasn’t perfect. Some people have issues with certain features but overall most of them felt that one or two annoyances (some of which the company is working to change) were more than worth it.

Let’s face it, this pump looks cool. It has an iPhone phone look.  It also has some features that we have been missing and others that we are excited to see.

Here are a few of the features that the Tandem® t:slim X2™ have to offer Canadian insulin pumpers.

t:slim X2™ Features:

  • the smallest insulin pump currently available
  • has a 300 unit reservoir
  • does not use batteries but rather is recharged when you plug a USB cable into a regular AC current. You can go approximately 7 days between charges.
  • has a shatterproof, touchscreen
  • Dexcom integrated
  • Bolus by gram of carbs or units of insulin
  • Quick bolus option
  • Integrated calculator with numeric keypad
  •  6 personalized delivery profiles
  • 16 timed insulin delivery settings
  • Site change reminders
  • High and low blood glucose alerts
  • Missed meal bolus alerts
  • Remotely update software (no need to buy an entirely new pump!)
  • Waterproof for up to 3m for 30 minutes

For us, these are features that are worth getting excited about!  You can read the full Tandem announcement here. You can also sign up to learn when the new Tandem® t:slim X2™ will be available in your province here.

Now that we have shown you why we love this new pump, I am curious, what features are most important for you when choosing an insulin pump?  If you aren’t sure, download our ebooklet. It has a list of features that may or may not be important to you as well as questions to ask pump reps when you meet!

Learn more about insulin pumps available in North America on our insulin pump page. 

How to reduce diabetes waste

Whenever we have changed a site or try out a sensor, I have looked down at the pile of trash and feel incredible guilt. There seems to be so much “stuff” that we are putting in the garbage can. It can’t possibly be good for the environment. In an attempt to protect the world for my future grandchildren, I searched for some way to reduce our waste.  Here is what I found.

Buy in bulk

buy snacks for lows in bulk

If you are purchasing those travel sized packages of glucose tablets, you may want to consider buying the larger bottles.  You can also go to your local Bulk Barn or Walmart and purchase low blood sugar treats in bulk.  If you do this right after Halloween, you can usually score even more treats at a way lower price!

Once you get your glucose tablets or other low treats home, you can then break them down into properly portioned, travel sizes in reusable containers. Those old glucose tablet bottles can be great for this.

Recycle the cardboard

recycle your cardboard boxes

Test strips come in boxes. Insulin comes in boxes. Infusion sets come in boxes. You get the idea. There are a lot of boxes when you live with diabetes. The great news is that most boxes and paper inserts are recyclable. Simply break them down and place them in your cardboard recycling container.

Drop off electronic diabetes devices for recycling

recycle glucometers

Did you know that often your old glucometer and DexCom can be returned to a recycling depot? I didn’t! You no longer have to have a dead meter collection in your drawer because you worried about throwing them in the trash.  Most will be accepted by your local e-waste or e-cycling drop-off center.  If you aren’t sure of a location in your area, you can also go to Earth911.com for the nearest recycling location.

Reuse tubing and other “waste” materials

diabetes art

If you are using an insulin pump, you already have come up with some great ways to reuse your tubing.  Young children love it when you snip the ends off of infusion set tubing and then let them string beads. They can spend hours making cute bracelets and more!

If you don’t have littles around, don’t worry, for those of you who like to garden, tubing is perfect for holding up plants!

Test strip bottle and insulin vials have many uses in creative art projects. Test strip bottles can also be perfect storage containers for thumb-tacks and other small items. Think about all of those things that you used to store in film containers and now you can put them in test strip bottles!

Recycle

recycle diabetes products

After a bit of investigating, I did find that some diabetes supplies can be put in your household recycling bins.

Syringe caps can be recycled in areas that recycle bottle caps. The tops of the built-in inserters on inset®, insetII®s, mio®, Mio30®, Autosoft90® and Autosoft30® can also be recycled. Please ensure proper disposal of the insertion needles, however. If you use an OmniPod, you can take part in the Eco-pod program. It allows you to return pods to Diabetes Express for recycling.

If you are like me, you may still feel like there is a lot of waste in diabetes care but I was surprised to read a study that showed that there may not be as much as we think. A person consuming one soft drink or one beer in a can only every three days has a similar impact on the environment as eleven insulin pump patients using one infusion set each in the same time period. Let me repeat that….one beverage can every three days creates the same amount of waste as eleven pumpers who use one infusion set each!

A person using a tubed insulin pump in fact only produces the same amount of environmental waste as a person who purchases one cup of coffee per day. Mind-blowing.

As great as that makes me feel, by using the tips above, we can further reduce the environmental impact of diabetes waste.

What else do you do to reduce your diabetes waste?

The Signs of Diabetes. Do You Know Them?

I sat in the doctor’s office. It was a room that I had sat in many times before but this time was different. My son was laying lifelessly in my arms.  I was terrified.

We had been to the hospital for bloodwork and x-rays. He hadn’t stirred. I looked across the room and saw a poster that had probably been there for the past 10 years or more but I had never noticed it.  It showed the signs of diabetes.  I have never paid attention before.  It was a disease that happened to other people…until it didn’t.

As I waited I read….

warning signs of diabetes Frequent urination

My son did nothing but soak his diapers for weeks. We were going through Pampers in record time and I had blankets on my couch because accidents were happening.

Constant thirst

We had been to the emergency room in the days before and they said that it was a good sign that he was drinking.  Even when he seemed too weak to get up, he could walk to the fridge and drink a carton of apple juice. They assured me that this was a positive thing.

signs of diabetes blurred visionBlurred vision

My son was 2 years old.  He spent most of his time in my arms. I had no idea if his vision was blurred.  He had no way to tell me either.

Fatigue

My son slept all of the time.  He was sick.  I knew that much.  Sleep was a good thing for a little boy who wasn’t feeling well.

Unexplained Weight-loss

My son had always been tiny.  He hadn’t been eating a lot. He was slight but that was to be expected.

Fruity breath

My son had sweet little boy breath.  I didn’t know that there was anything else that could possibly be going on.

Thrush or other yeast infections

This was a warning sign.  Why did a two-year-old have thrush? The emergency room doctor didn’t offer any explanation.  He simply gave us antibiotics.

I didn’t know the symptoms. I didn’t know that warning signs and neither did the ER doctor. It almost cost my son his life.

Know the signs.  Share them with others.  Together we can save lives. signs and symptoms of diabetes

Download a copy of the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar levels here.

How to manage airport security with an insulin pump and CGM

traveling with your insulin pump and CGMIn May of 2012, after reading about a friend having problems getting their insulin pump through security at a US airport, I did some research on the subject.  Should you put your pump through the x-ray machine? Can you wear your CGM through a full-body scanner? There were a lot of questions in 2012 and there still are in 2018 so I reached out to a few friends in the industry to see if things have changed at all.  Here is what you need to know when you are traveling with an insulin pump or CGM.

Get your complete guide filled with tips and to-dos when traveling with diabetes. 

If you wear a Dexcom®

The Dexcom® G5 is cleared to take through metal detectors, be hand-wanded and be worn during flights. There are a few situations to be concerned about, however.

NEVER put your receiver or extra sensors through an x-ray machine.  Ask the security personnel to do a hand-check of the items to avoid permanent damage of these devices.

According to Dexcom®, the effects of full body scanners on CGM components have not been studied. It is therefore recommended that you do not take your Dexcom® through one.

Once you are through security and on your plane waiting for takeoff, make sure to set your app to airplane mode, keeping the bluetooth on and leave your receiver turned on.

If you use FreeStyle Libre

The Dream Big Travel Far blog contacted the people at FreeStyle and asked what the guidelines were for air travel with the Libre.  This is what they reported.

“We recommend the user notify security personnel when going through airport security screening. the user can go through X-ray machines while wearing a sensor. We recommend the reader be powered off during a flight and not used for scanning a sensor. However, the strip port on the reader can be used to take blood glucose or ketone readings during flight. Turning on the reader with the Home Button will activate the radio. The user must turn on the reader by inserting a test strip so as to not activate the radio.”

If you wear an Omnipod

Good news for Omnipod users! You can wear the pod through the metal detector, x-ray machines and full body scanners with no worry.  The PDM can also go through the X-ray. Insulet does recommend that if you are selected for a “pat down” you disclose that you are wearing the pod.

If you wear a Medtronic® insulin pump

Medtronic® insulin pumps can be worn through metal detectors and be wanded.  They should NOT be sent through x-ray machines however.

Medtronic® also notes that your sensor and transmitter must be removed if you are going through a full-body scanner. If you do not want to remove your sensor, you can ask to be pat down instead.

If you wear a Tandem® t:slim X2™ insulin pump

Tandem® t:slim X2™ can be worn through metal detectors and can be wanded.  They should not be sent through x-ray machines.

Changes in air pressure cause bubbles to form in insulin, and the related expansion can cause unintentional insulin delivery.  This is NOT a problem in the Tandem pump.

The pumping mechanism used in Tandem pumps isolates the insulin reservoir (bag) from the user line, so if bubbles are formed in the cartridge due to pressure changes, the internal bag will expand, but no insulin will be delivered to the user from the reservoir.  The only volume in line with the user at any given time is the insulin in their infusion set and cartridge tubing, and the contents of the 0.3 unit Micro-Delivery chamber.

There is no need to turn off your t:slim X2™ during takeoff or landing.  This system runs on Bluetooth which can operate during flights. If you are also using a Dexcom CGM that you are viewing with your smartphone, turn the phone on airplane mode and then turn on Bluetooth.

If you wear an Animas® insulin pump

A detailed list of where you can and cannot wear your Animas® pump can be found in my May 2012 post.

Animas® insulin pumps can be worn through metal detectors and can be wanded.  They should NOT be sent through x-ray machines.

Animas® pumps should not be worn through full-body scanners.

Click here for more tips on traveling with diabetes!