Saturday, May 21, 2011

MacGyver Moment: Knit Pump Case

So, my Mum got in a bit of an accident last weekend (she is okay, but a bit banged up and stressed) and I wasn't able to finish all the posts for Diabetes Blog Week. My post for Sunday was for Karen, who started and organizes Diabetes Blog Week. Something I realized about Karen while reading her posts this time around is that she also knits! So, in the spirit of Karen's awesomeness I have amalgamated the interests of both her blogs with a knitted pump cases! 

There are two cases I have made. Both are supposed to be worn around the side of a bra...

Fig. 1: Where you can wear it
(though, really, wear it anywhere you like)

The first is a little more simple...

Simple Knit Pump Case

Yarn: Bernat Satin [100% Acrylic; 100g; 149 m/163 yrds] (I used the colour Buff, but there are a lot of colours to choose from- beige and earth tones to bright and colourful)

Needles: 5mm/US8

Button: 15mm button

Gauge: 18 sts/24 rows = 4X4 inches using size US8 needles

Body section:
Cast on 16 stiches.
1st row: knit all stitches.
2nd row: purl all stitches.
Repeat these two rows until the piece measures 6.5 inches and ending on a purl row.

Begin to decrease for the strap:
Row 1: K1, SSK, knit to last three stitches, K2tog, K1
Row 2: Purl all stitches.
Row 3: Knit all stitches.
Repeat these three rows until 5 stitches remain.

Continue in stockinette stitch until the strap measures 6 inches (from the first decrease round.)
K2, YO twice, K2together, knit to end.
Next row, P3, drop the next sticth (one of the YO), P2.

Continue in stockinette for another 1 inch and bind off all stitches.


With the wrong side (purl) facing you fold the body section up 3.25 inches. Join seams on either side to create a pocket.

Weave in all ends.

Sew a 15mm button on in the middle of the upper front of the pocket (opposite side of the strap.)

Fig. 2: Really off-scale schemata...
be thankful I don't give instructions for bridges.

In the Round Knit Pump Case

Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo [80% Bamboo sourced viscose, 20% Wool; 50g; 95 m/104 yrds] (I used the colour Nestle, which apparently has been discontinued)

Needles: 4 double pointed size 4mm/US6

Button: 15mm button
Gauge: 22 sts/28 rows = 4X4 inches using size US6 needles

Body section:
Cast on 30 stitches, distribute evenly among three needles and join for knitting in the round.
1st round: Place marker to mark beginning of round. K all stitches.
Continue knitting each round until the piece measures 3 inches.
Next round K2tog, K13, SSK, K to end of round.
Next round K all stitches.
Next round K2tog, K11, SSK, K to end of round.
Next round K all stitches.
Next round K2tog, K10, SSK, K to end of round.
Next round K all stitches.
Next round K2tog, K8, SSK, K to end of round.
Rearrange stiches onto two needles, so that there are twelve on one needle and twelve on the other.
Bind off in kitchener stitch

From the original marker placed to mark the beginning of the work, pick-up and knit 15 stitches.
1st row: K2, P until last two stitches, K2
2nd row:  K2, SSK, K until last four stitches, K2tog, K2 (13 stitches left)
3rd row: K2, P until last two stitches, K2
4th row: K2, SSK, K until last four stitches, K2tog, K2 (11 stitches left)
5th row: K2, P until last two stitches, K2
6th row:  K2, SSK, K until last four stitches, K2tog, K2 (9 stitches left)
7th row: K2, P until last two stitches, K2
8th row:  K2, SSK, K until last four stitches, K2tog, K2 (7 stitches left)
9th row: K2, P until last two stitches, K2
10th row: K all stitches
Making sure to end on an odd row, repeat last two rows until strap measures 6 inches (or desired length) from the pick-up stitches.
Next row: K3, YO twice, K2together, knit to end.
Next row: K2, P, drop the next sticth (one of the YO), P to last 2 stitches, K2.
Next row: K all stitches.
Next row: K2, P to last two stitches, K2.
Repeat last two rows for one more inch.

Bind off all stitches.

Weave in ends and sew on 15mm button on middle of front.

Some notes about the patterns: 
  • I have an Animas 2020 pump and, so, all the measurements were derived from this pumps dimensions... but I the material ends up having a fair amount of give and I think the measurements would work well enough for the Metronic pumps as well...
  • It may seem weird to have a smaller strap, but it makes it easier to take the pump out of the case without having to undo the button...
  • I did this last pattern I did from memory. If any of the decreases are off, please let me know...
  • I don't mind (if it ends up working well and you end up liking the pattern) people sharing the pattern, but please give credit and link back here. (Thanks <3)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Awesome Things

Today's post for Diabetes Blog Week is about Awesome Things:
In February the #dsma blog carnival challenged us to write about the most awesome thing we’d done DESPITE diabetes.  Today let’s put a twist on that topic and focus on the good things diabetes has brought us.  What awesome thing have you (or your child) done BECAUSE of diabetes?  After all, like my blog header says, life with diabetes isn’t all bad!

So, last summer I discovered a site for the group called Connected in Motion. They provide different outdoor events for people with type 1 diabetes, in the belief that we all have a lot of valuable lived-knowledge about diabetes that we to share with and learn from one another. I saw that they had a weekend canoe trip planned for the end of August...

FLASH BACK TO SEVERAL YEARS EARLIER: I remember friends had asked me to go camping with them. I remember noting that we would need to brainstorm about food, because at the time I was on shots and very sensitive to insulin... which meant that any exercise (like carrying a bag of groceries!) meant dealing with lows. I remember them saying there wasn't a lot of exercise involved, so I should be fine. "But, isn't there hiking/portaging and canoeing?" I asked. "Yes," they replied, "but it's really not that much exercise." To which my brain thought: These are my friends and I love them, but there is no way in hell I'm going out into the woods with them. So, I had always wondered what I was missing out on in these trips... So, figuring that everyone on the trip would be kind of in the same boat (no pun intended... ha!) I signed up for the canoe/camping trip with Connected in Motion.

Now, here's how I remember the conversation with my parents after I signed up for this trip:

Parents: So, do you know anyone else going on the trip?
Me: No.
Parents: Do you know people that have done the trips before, then?
Me: Nope.
Parents: Well, how did you find out about it?
Me: I found it on the internet.
Parents: (Silence)
Me: It's going to be fiiiiine. I think maybe I do know someone who knows something about them... ?

That trip was the first time ever that I got to hang out with people that had type 1 diabetes. I kind of underestimated how great that would be. I didn't have to explain diabetes or glucometers or lows or highs to anyone. I didn't have to ask people if they minded stopping so I could test my blood; I just said I needed to or did it and people understood. (Which made me realize I should never really ask. I should just tell people it's going to happen, stop and do it.) It also felt pretty great to be able to do something that I felt like I would never get to do. After that trip, if anyone had asked if I wanted to go camping/canoeing I felt like I had the tools and knowledge to be able to do so. 

Anyway, I thought this was a good story for this post because it's not just something I did despite diabetes, but also because of diabetes... And not just my diabetes, but everyone's on the trip: without their support and knowledge I wouldn't have been able to achieve what I had that weekend.

About six months later I went to another event hosted by Connected in Motion. At one point we all gathered and figured out how long each of us had had diabetes... then we added up all those years to see how much live experience was sitting in the room:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ten things I dislike about diabetes...

Having a positive attitude is important . . . but let’s face it, diabetes isn’t all sunshine and roses (or glitter and unicorns, for that matter).  So today let’s vent by listing ten things about diabetes that we hate.  Make them funny, make them sarcastic, make them serious, make them anything you want them to be!!

I don't know if this makes me weird, but I had a hard time coming up with a list of ten. (Serious???) Seriously. (WTF?!?) I know...

I didn't think it would be that hard, but I could think of things that I find annoying or that I maybe even severely dislike... I couldn't think of things that I HATE. I feel like diabetes is so a part of me at this point that it feels like saying I hate myself... and I think if I felt like that I would just stop dealing with all of it, so I kind of don't really want to ever feel like that about it... 

In light of this strange conundrum, I made this about things that I dislike about having diabetes. Hope that's okay.

Here are my top ten dislikes:
  1. Going low
  2. Going low and not realizing it until it's really, really low... and inadvertently eating the top of the glucose tab tube, because it's the same width and height
  3. Eating extra food when you go low and you've already eaten... Teletubbies tummy (See image below.)
  4. Eating after you throw-up, so you don't go low
  5. How much more complicated it makes having other illnesses, even just a cold
  6. That doctor's blame all other physical symptoms as complications of diabetes, even when they have nothing to do with diabetes... and they're not even recognized as complications of diabetes
  7. Writing papers (the stress and sitting around make my blood sugars go high)
  8. The sawdust-mouth feel that goes along with a high
  9. All the extra medical gear I have to lug around  (when I travel it's half my luggage!)
  10. The sense of isolation when you don't have people around that understand/have diabetes
I can say out of all of those, the one thing I really do hate is going low. I'm so sensitive to insulin it really doesn't take much for me to take a nose dive, though it has been better on the pump and when I stay away from certain foods. Sitting at a 1 mmol/L is a pretty disgusting and frightening experience.

Dramatization of #3

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Diabetes Bloopers

Whether you or your loved one are newly diagnosed or have been dealing with diabetes for a while, you probably realize that things can (and will) go wrong.  But sometimes the things that go wrong aren’t stressful - instead sometimes they are downright funny!  Go ahead and share your Diabetes Blooper - your “I can’t believe I did that" moment - your big “D-oh” - and let’s all have a good laugh together!!

This isn't necessarily a diabetes d'oh moment, but it is my favouritest ever medical moment! (Actually, the one I referenced in the previous post...)

It happened the first morning I was in the hospital after finding out I had diabetes. Unbeknownst to me Nurse H, the heavily perfumed and make-upped diabetes nurse, would waltz into my room at a bright and early 6 am. VERY CHIPPER. She carried with her a scale and a class full of nursing students. 

Later, I would find out, I was the talk of the ward, as no one there had ever seen a real live type 1 diabetic (I am assuming at that point 'diabetic' was all they saw me as, because most of them certainly didn't treat me like a person...) 

At any rate, in paraded Nurse H and her posse of students. She then cheerily woke me up from near DKA coma state, threw down that scale and happily ordered me to jump out of bed and hop on. 

Now, I'm sure anybody reading this who has diabetes knows all too well that you don't feel too shit hot after having high blood glucose levels for weeks on end. But I don't want to assume everyone reading this knows, so just in case you don't, let's just say I wasn't too into the idea of waking up and getting out of bed... Or, actually, let's just say I was maybe only capable of partial consciousness...

Blearily, I rolled out of bed and tried really, really hard to stand on that scale. REALLY HARD... but I kept falling off. I just couldn't seem to balance right and every time Nurse H went to read my weight I'd start tilting over and have to step off one foot to steady myself. Me being bright I thought up the perfect solution, and put my arms straight out to steady myself... but I still kept falling off. 

Of course, I thought it was hilarious and proceeded to express this by giggling really loud... Somehow, though, when I looked around, no one else was laughing-- actually, I would say they were all pretty flippin' serious... Which made me laugh even harder, because it made in all the more absurd.

At this point, we come to my proudest medical moment ever, because as I wobbled around with my arms out-stretched and giggling, I yelled out: 

"Oh my God!!!! I'M LIKE AN AIRPLANE!!!!!!!!!!" 

Nobody laughed. I still don't know how they got me to eventually stand on that scale. I was completely out of my head...

My only regret in the whole incident is not having had the wherewithal to have caught a glimpse of Nurse H's face, because I am sure she was mortified... She was, after all, showing off her only ever type 1 specimen. 

From time to time I wonder if the student nurses that attended class that day walked away thinking my actions prototypical behaviours for type 1 diabetes... Secretly, as long as they didn't end up working in diabetes care, I kind of hope that's exactly what they took away from that morning.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Letter Writing Day

You can write a letter to diabetes if you’d like, but we can also take it one step further.  How about writing a letter to a fictional (or not so fictional) endocrinologist telling the doctor what you love (or not) about them.  How about a letter to a pretend (or again, not so pretend) meter or pump company telling them of the device of your dreams?  Maybe you’d like to write a letter to your child with diabetes.  Or a letter from your adult self to the d-child you were.  Whomever you choose as a recipient, today is the day to tell them what you are feeling.

Dear 15-year-old Self,

If this time-machine thing works out as planned, it's January of 1994 and you're sitting in the car on the way to the hospital. Yes, you have diabetes. No, no matter how much you bargain with the ether, it isn't going to go away. You are about to enter a medical system that does not do well with informing young people of what is going on. So, let me give you the heads up on some of the things that are going to happen over the next eight days:
  1. When your parents bring you toileteries from home MAKE SURE THEY BRING YOU SOME DECENT/NORMAL SMELLING SOAP. The Bacto-Stat soap they give you to use in the hospital smells like disease. So discomforting.
  2. They are going to TAKE YOUR BLOOD EVERY FOUR HOURS, EVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. It will freak you right out the first night, because nobody told you it was coming. 
  3. They are going to WAKE YOU UP AT 6 AM THE FIRST DAY YOU ARE THERE. Since you are still practically in a coma you will do something (that maybe only you ever find) incredibly funny. Enjoy it. 
  4. That first morning they wake you up at 6 am THEY WILL BRING AN ENTIRE NURSING CLASS TO OBSERVE YOU. No one will ask if it's okay. They will just barge right in like it is their right to do so. If you don't want them there, tell them to leave... but not until after you do the incredibly funny thing.
  5. There will be a nurse that comes in to your room. She will not even greet you. Whatever you do, DO NOT LET THIS NURSE GRAB YOUR ARM! She will take something called a Heparin Lock (or Hep-Lock). It will look like a long large gauge needle and she will just shove it in your arm. They will tell you it is so they can take blood from this IV instead of always taking it from your arm, where it will hurt and bruise. BEWARE: This is a lie! There will be only one nurse with the Heparin and she will generally not be available. Then, they will just take the blood from your arm anyways!!! So, for the love of God, I repeat: DO NOT LET THIS NURSE GRAM YOUR ARM.
In general, diabetes will be a lonely disease for a very long time. People will help out (and that will be awesome), but no matter how many are in the waiting room you still have to learn to go into those doctor encounters alone. Growing up people will feel badly for you, they may call you 'brave' or 'courageous'... even though you don't feel sad for yourself, nor brave about any of it. Don't let people treat you like your porcelain or fragile (I know that you won't!) Don't strive to be normal-- it's a bullshit social construct. Do visit the Banting House in London, ON sooner; it will give you a greater appreciation for wonderful it is that you get to finish high school, go to university (ugh, THREE degress... I know), make great friends and love a lot. Most of all feel proud of yourself, because you will handle a complex chronic illness (in combination with the lot of crappy life circumstances you already know about) with grace and determination... and that's all anybody can ask.

Sincerely and with love,
Your 33-year-old self.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Admiring Our Differences

    This week is Diabetes Blog Week and the first topic is 'Admiring Our Differences':
    We are all diabetes bloggers, but we come from many different perspectives. Last year, Diabetes Blog Week opened my eyes to all of the different kinds of blogs (and bloggers) out there – Type 1s, Type 2s, LADAs, parents of kids with diabetes, spouses of adults with diabetes and so on. Today let’s talk about how great it is to learn from the perspectives of those unlike us! Have you learned new things from your T2 friends? Are D-Parents your heroes? Do LADA blogs give you insight to another diagnosis story? Do T1s who’ve lived well with diabetes since childhood give you hope? Pick a type of blogger who is different from you and tell us why they inspire you - why you admire them - why it’s great that we are all the same but different!!
    I have a confession: I always thought that LADA or latent autoimmune diabetes in adults was just like Type 1, except in adults... BUT...

    Not too long ago I was writing a definition about diabetes mellitus for a paper. I had a lot of resources about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but nothing about that type somewhere in-between: Type 1.5. I found a snippet here and there in different books or articles, but couldn't find all that much. I thought maybe it would be best to ask a real expert about LADA and sent a tweet to @Diabetic_Iz_Me, a.k.a. Cherise, who has had LADA since 2004. Cherise referred me to one of her favourite sites: the Islets of Hope page. From there I was able to find a lot of references and information... and learn lots about how my assumptions of this Type 1.5 were WRONG.

    From what I read (and please correct me if I am wrong) LADA starts off looking a lot like Type 2, except unlike Type 2 there are certain autoantibodies present that are linked with the destruction of beta cells. In Type 1 there are way more autoantibodies and the beta cells die off much more quickly, but in LADA there is only one or two of these autoimmune proteins and the pancreas cells are destroyed much more slowly. Every person's diabetes is unique and requires individual plans of care, but the average time it takes a person with LADA to require insulin injections is around 4 years. So, kind of similar, but still different. I was glad to have the opportunity to challenge my assumptions and learn something new. I was also glad to have someone open to questions and willing to inform (Thanks Cherise!).