Summer Is Here At Last!

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Or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. Three weeks ago we were complaining about the cold, and now we’re back to complaining about the heat. Well, it is what it is.

And technically, summer is still a month away. Today is May 21, and summer doesn’t start until June 21. Today I learned that something I’ve believed all my life isn’t true: I was always taught that in the summer, the days get longer and the nights get shorter. Well, friends, it just ain’t true: June 21 is the first day of summer, and on that date, the days are as long as they’re gonna get. After that, they start getting shorter until September 21, Autumnal Equinox. Know what equinox means? Equal nights. At that point, the days start getting even shorter, until we arrive at the shortest day of the year—December 21—at which point they start to get longer.

So everything I learned in school was wrong. Of course, the situation is the exact opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, where June 21 is the first day of winter.

So in the Northern Hemisphere, at least, the days start getting longer in the spring, not the summer.

All of which has nothing to do with the fact that I can finally go back to writing outside once more. And that’s something I’ve been waiting for months to do. It’s also something I’ve been preparing for months to do as well: I’ve added a new tool to my Writer’s Toolbox.

During the winter, I spend my days in my Lonely Writer’s Garret­™, aka my bedroom. It’s the warmest room in the house, and as such is perfect for writing. But in the summer, not so much. If I want to move downstairs in the summer (where it’s cooler), I have to crawl under my writing desk to unplug my laptop’s power adapter, then carry the laptop, power adapter, and mouse downstairs.

Last year, I discovered an interesting new device, an AlphaSmart Neo. It’s a writing device similar to a computer, but all it does is write. It was developed for classrooms as a cheap alternative to computers. How cheap? I bought mine for under $40, including postage from Hong Kong.

As I said, it’s basically a stripped-down word processing unit, with all its software built-in. It doesn’t even connect to the Internet. What it does do is connect to my laptop via a USB cable, so I can do all my writing on the Neo, then transfer it to the laptop for further editing. It puts out plain vanilla text files. So far, I’ve gotten better than a year’s use out of it on a single set of 4 AA batteries.

But eventually I grew unhappy with it. A lot of my writing requires research, and that means an Internet connection (Google, doncha know.) For a while, I was satisfied with looking up things on my iPhone or iPad, but that got old quickly. So when I came into a bit of money, I bought a new laptop. Actually it was a bit of a laptop, junior: a Hewlett-Packard Chromebook. It’s got enough battery power to get me through a full day before I have to put it on the charger, and it came with the whole slew of Google apps: Documents, Sheets, etc. And believe me, doing a copy-and-paste from say, Wikipedia, directly into Google Doc sis a lot easier than copying the same information onto my iPhone and then hand-copying it onto my laptop!

So that’s the latest from Rochester (New York, not Minnesota).

Keeping Track: Logging Your Data

I’m a Type 2 insulin-dependent diabetic. As such, it’s important to keep track of my blood glucose levels (BGL). It’s not quite as critical as it is for someone with Type 1, but it’s still important.

Florin Uscatu has come up with a simple-to-use diabetes logging app that can improve our lives with diabetes.

BGL Log

Logs

Some of the app’s features are:

  • The ability to browse your data online and offline
  • New entries are synced automagically to the cloud
  • Simple-to-understand stats and graphs that make your progress noticeable (like the one above).
  • There’s an option to share your data with your health care team. Send your data in CSV format so your physician can filter and sort the data any way she pleases.
  • Finally, it integrates with the Apple Health app.

Best of all? It’s free! I’ve been using it since the end of December, and it’s the best app of its kind that I’ve yet to find.

Surgery Sucks!

Especially hand surgery. It makes it hard to type, ya know? And I had surgery last week to release my trigger finger. Two fingers, actually. So I’ve been doing physical therapy since the beginning of the week. I guess it’s working; I mean I’m able to type again, albeit very slowly

And the best part? Once my hand is back in working order, I’ll get to do it for the other hand as well.

Which is why, once again, I’m toying with the idea of changing the name of the blog. Insulin And Marijuana for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s legal in New York State, where I live.
  2. Yes, I do inhale.
  3. But best of all, it takes care of my aches and pains. My remaining trigger finger (on the left hand) gives me a good deal of pain—which marijuana reduces far better than acetaminophen or ibuprofen—neither of which I can take safely because of kidney problems. It also works wonders on my migraines as well.
  4. It also helps me sleep at night.
  5. Finally, it fits right in with my general philosophy of life:

meds

Besides, in the winter I go through more marijuana than I do iced tea!

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Life Is A Series Of Trade-Offs

And never is this more true than n the life of a diabetic. “Let me see: if I skip the garlic bread and potatoes, can I have the pie and ice cream?” “What effect will eating these blueberries have on my glucose levels? And what do I need to give up in exchange?”

Right now, I’m preaching to the choir: either you have diabetes or you know someone who does have, so you’re familiar with the issue. And as I write this, I just finished my lunch: 2 Andouille sausages, each with a strip of cheddar cheese to go with it. I skipped the bread I usually eat the sausages on, so that I might enjoy a post-prandial treat of 4 Tootsie Roll “Midges” (for a total of 120 calories). Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know; I’m a bad girl. But hey! It’s Hallowe’en, okay?

Next month’s going to be even worse. It’s Thanksgiving, the feast day where I do my best to balance calories, fats, proteins, and carbs in order to (1) enjoy the day and (2) to keep out of the hospital. This will also be the first Christmas season since I became insulin-dependent, and it’s going to mean a lot of changes, both good and bad.

The good? I can skip making candies and cookies and other goodies. The bad? I have to skip making candies and cookies and other goodies.

I’ll be spending the holidays at home with friends. But they’re more than mere friends—the ragtag group of insane gypsies whom I call friends are in reality my family of choice. Since my blood relatives are all out of state—a brother in Texas, one in New Mexico, my daughters and grandkids in Seattle—these are my chosen family members for the time being.

A New Title For The Blog?

I almost considered another title for my blog. Let me explain.

There are several medications I take in order to keep body and mind together. First and foremost among them is, of course, insulin. Recently I discovered that my diabetes is not Type 1 but still Type 2. Long story short, Type 1 does not develop into Type 2. But mine is bad enough that it is now insulin-dependent.

Other meds I take are two antidepressants. It’s an old friend since I was 30, and at the age of 71, it’s still with me.

Add to that the pain—at times unbearable—of Dupuytren’s Contracture, coupled with frequent migraines, osteoarthritis, and I’m a perfect candidate for medical marijuana.

All of which adds up the the fact that if it wouldn’t mess up my registration with WordPress, I’d rename the blog to Insulin And Marijuana. Which I almost did back when I started it, and still kinda wish I had done. And still may do when it’s time to renew my registration with the Great Gods Of The Internet.

Until then, I’ll continue as things are…and I’ll try not to whine too cringingly.

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Diabetes Is A Confusing Disease

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Ever since I started on insulin last March, I’d been thinking that it also marked my “graduation” from Type 1 to Type 2 Diabetes. Last week I discovered I was wrong.

True Type 1 is when the pancreas never made insulin to begin with

According to Medical News Today, “It is not possible for type 2 diabetes to turn into type 1 diabetes. However, a person who originally receives a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes may still get a separate diagnosis of type 1 at a later date. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type, so a doctor might initially suspect that an adult with diabetes has type 2.”

So I apologize for any inconvenience I’ve caused. I guess I’d better put a disclaimer on my site: “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on the internet.”

That would go right above the next disclaimer:

“I’m not a gynecologist, but I’d be happy to take a look.”

Regardless, I stand by the post at the top of the page. I believe that ideally, insulin should be free. Failing that, it should be sold at cost. In fact, any medicine that is necessary to sustain life should be free. Hell, Jeff Bezos could probably finance the whole thing with just the interest he gets on an hour’s earnings alone.

It’s almost the end of October. It was 39° yesterday morning when I got up at 7:30. Today, counties to the east of my home in Rochester, NY, are preparing for a rather nasty Nor’easter. Half of California looks as if it’s about to slide into the ocean, and Oregon and Washington are preparing for heavy storms. And just the other day, my local library put up a sign saying,

“THE POST-APOCALYPTIC SECTION HAS BEEN MOVED.
IT IS NOW UNDER CURRENT EVENTS.”

And yet evangelicals around the world are still worried about what other people—whose business is of no concern to anyone but themselves—do with their genitals.

Catching Up, And A Couple Of Apps

“If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
Attributed to Eubie Blake, Mickey Mantle, Mae West, and others.

A bad case of Dupuytren’s Contraction has left me unable to use just two fingers and the thumbs on both hands. I’m awaiting a call from the orthopedic surgeon to schedule my treatment, all of which explains why I haven’t been keeping up with this blog.

Oh, right: and my computer crashed and I had to restore and reinstall everything.


Here’s a new app I recently discovered on Apple’s App Store: “Glycemic Index,” by Kubilay Erdogan. Simply type in the name of a food and voilá!

glycemic index

I can’t fit the entire list, as there are over 22 entries just for bananas! All values are referenced from the University of Sydney’s glycemic index tables, so you know they’re accurate. And for an explanation of the glycemic index and why it matters, see this entry.

That’s about all my fingers are capable of right now, so I’ll sign off for today.

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A New Sweetener

Truvia

We all know the complaints. God knows we’ve heard enough of them! Artificial sweeteners don’t taste like sugar. They’re too sweet. They’re not sweet enough.

Today, I’d like to tell you of my experiences with two of the “big-name” products: Splenda, and Truvia.

I made the switch from sugar to Splenda some 10 years ago, when I was diagnosed with Type 2 (aka “non-insulin dependent”) diabetes. I even carried packets in my purse for when I was eating out. Later I switched to little pills for my tea or coffee.

This year, when I ended up in the hospital with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) and was subsequently diagnosed with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, I wondered if there might not be a better alternative.

NOTE: What follows is one woman’s opinion. I have no financial interest in any products mentioned here, nor am I a medical professional. And even though I’m not a gynecologist, I’d be happy to take a look….

Both Splenda and Truvia claim that one packet of their product is equal to two teaspoons of sugar in terms of sweetness. However, I’ve found this not to be true. With both products I found that two packets result in the same sweetness of two teaspoons of sugar.

This is where Splenda let me down: it always tasted artificial, and left me with an aftertaste. When I tried Truvia, I found this wasn’t the case. It tasted just like sugar!

And when, like me, you drink multiple cups a day, that’s an important consideration.

So my new routine, when it comes to coffee, is to use Truvia as a sweetener. I also use sugar-free artificial creamers as well.

And for the rare times I eat out, or simply grab a cup of coffee or tea, I carry a few packets of Truvia in my purse.

My Apple Watch

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If you’re of my generation, do you remember when your family got your first microwave? And do you remember what a luxury it was? Now you probably think nothing of it. It’s no longer new and exciting. Indeed, most new houses come with one built right in the kitchen.

That’s what my Apple Watch was at first—a luxury. Yet here I am, less than two weeks since purchasing it, and it’s no longer the luxury it was two weeks ago. I won’t go so far as to claim it’s a necessity, but it comes close.

Here’s What I Use It For

  • Tracking my Blood Glucose Levels (BGL)
  • Monitoring my exercise: it reminds me every hour to get up and walk around for at least a minute
  • It reminds me 4 times a day  to just stop whatever I’m doing and simply breathe for a minute. I can change how often I want a reminder, as well as the length of time I breathe
  • It monitors my Blood Oxygen levels, as expressed by a percentage
  • It’s slow going, but if I need to, I can send texts

I like taking close-up pictures of flowers. I can put my iPhone on a tripod, set my focus and aperture and then, to keep the camera steady, I can use my Watch to trigger the shot remotely.

I’m still finding more uses for it every day.

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My Latest Tech Toy!

Well, I did it: I splurged on an Apple Watch.  Oh, not really splurged, since I bought it through my cell phone provider and will be paying for it for the next 2 years.

watch 1

I also bought several watch bands, and this is the one I like best:

Pride band

Hey! What can I say? I’m Queer, Transgender, and Bisexual, three out of the LGBTQ alphabet soup. Yes, and damned proud of it!

Coming Next

A more in-depth look at the Apple Watch, and why I like it so much.

Until then,

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THE GLUCOLOGY TRAVEL CASE

glucology

DIMENSIONS

Classic Case

8-inches long x 6-inches wide x 1.5 inches deep
20cm long x 14.5cm wide x 4cm deep

Plus Case

8-inches long x 6-inches wide x 3.5 inches
20cm long x 14.5cm wide x 9cm deep

I was a bit hesitant to order this when I saw it advertised on Facebook. I had already had bad luck with another company, in that their case wasn’t even long enough to fit even one of my pens inside. But after going to the Glucology Store online and reading the description, I decided to give it a try.

I opted for the Plus case; I wanted something that would hold all of my diabetes supplies, and the Plus’ dimensions seemed to fit the bill. So I decided to chance it.

It arrived today, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be. Without exception, all of my diabetes supplies–insulin pens, glucose meter, test strips, needles, etc.–fit inside without crowding.

I rarely travel, and so I have no need for a case with a carrying handle, although it would be rather, well, handy to have one. But if I do travel, I’ve got a backpack I can put it in.

The case was designed in Australia and like just about everything else these days, was made in China. It’s a hard-shell case with sturdy zippers throughout, and is of excellent construction.

I rarely review products, but I’m so impressed with this one that I just couldn’t resist. It’s an unsolicited review, and I have no affiliation with the company, so you can be sure that I’m not getting reimbursed for this review.

And you guys in Oz? If I’m ever down your way, I’ll let you buy me a cup of coffee or a Toohey’s–your choice!