Category: Other

The non-diabetic highs of life.


It is absolutely pathetic that I have been entirely MIA for now seemingly endless weeks. Here’s a quick rundown of life since last post:

-finish sophomore year at UM: check.

-have a decent GPA: check.

-get home and decide to take a few weeks off of CGM-ing [spurred by a broken monitor]: check. [skin is screaming “thank you!”]

-be able to run a 5k by the end of July for the Big 10 5K in Chicago: currently at 2.5 miles. getting closer.

-give a speech at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center benefit: check.

-get asked to speak again at the University of Chicago Discovery and Outreach event for donors: check.

-trudge through the first of two six week sessions of organic chemistry: unfortunately, check-in-progress. bleh.

-turn all patient experiences into becoming the optimal patient care intern at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: check.

Speaking at the UChicago Discovery and Outreach Event!
Speaking at the UChicago Discovery and Outreach Event!

Speaking at the UChicago Celiac Disease Center Benefit--Spring Flours! [ps-I love high stilettos--they've become a personal trademark!]
Speaking at the UChicago Celiac Disease Center Benefit–Spring Flours! [ps-I love high stilettos–they’ve become a personal trademark!]
Life has become yet another whirlwind of driving up and down Lakeshore Drive, absorbing insane organic molecule structures which at some point, definitely give off an aura of make-believe, and beginning my summer internship at the RIC.

There’s a certain type for elation that only a chronic patient can have when working with other patients–a main reason I want to go into medicine down the line. Though I cannot disclose the particulars of my internship and work at RIC, working on the spinal cord injury floor has given me a new appreciation for life and all that I do have going for me. It’s important that, though as chronic illness patients we do definitely struggle, we recognize that we are, in the grand scheme of things, extraordinarily lucky and that life can change in an instant–as it has for many of the patients who I work with, many of whom I now can call friends of my own.


In the diabetic-celiac world, quick finger pricks between patient rooms, in the parking garage before a gluten free packed lunch on the road to class, in the middle of class before my little bag of pistachios as a snack, on the side of the workout room before my bootcamp workout class starts after organic chemistry ends and I battle traffic home, with all the injections in between are the norm right now. Though admittedly the Dexcom could alleviate some of the hassle, because my stress is much lower in the summer, I have decided to give my arms a much needed break–and an added bonus of losing awkward tan lines!

I was also recently diagnosed with a few serious, anaphylactic allergies, so reading ingredients labels has begun all over again as I have to check my once favorite foods for a new list of no-no’s including shellfish [which I never ate anyway] and oregano/marjoram [which I have determined as absolutely impossible as companies decide to label their ingredients as “spices” to protect their special, secret recipes forcing me to spend endless time on hold with dozens of companies–ugh.]


All in all, life is good. I don’t have to worry about groceries, dinner plans, or blood sugars on my own [my mom has absolutely made massive changes to my insulin regimen that have drastically overhauled my too-comfortable higher range mid-day blood sugars and I couldn’t be happier.] The biggest frustration I’ve had recently was attending a music festival at Northwestern University last weekend, heavy backpack on my shoulders all day long (but a new, cute backpack!) that decided to bleed black ink from the design all over my shoulders and new shirt. As if it weren’t already difficult enough. The company is replacing my backpack, the dry cleaner is working on my shirt, and my skin is no longer tinted black so things are on the mend. I did determine, however, that the BEST method for keeping insulin cold all day in the sun is to buy the cheap, one-use, crushable ice packs and to break a new one every 3-4 hours. My insulin was almost colder than the refrigerator in my friend’s dorm room all day long. #diabeteshacks

Have supplies, will travel! Enjoying "Dillo Day" at Northwestern with an old friend who specifically cleaned her fridge for me!
Have supplies, will travel! Enjoying “Dillo Day” at Northwestern with an old friend who specifically cleaned her fridge for me!


Take it easy, but take it. I’d love to hear from you guys about things you want to read about, questions, your lives–anything.



PS- My mom is famous for her cheesecake, for decades. I’ve taken it upon myself to work on perfecting the art of a cheesecake and made one recently for her birthday; it was absolutely delicious!


Yum, cheesecake with strawberries and a raspberry glaze.
Yum, cheesecake with strawberries and a raspberry glaze.


that awkward moment when you meet someone, busy munching a bagel, who reaches toward me for a handshake. uh…yeah, no thanks.


don’t give me gluties.


Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 9.42.52 PM


take it easy, but take it–sans gluties.


Continuous Stress Monitor: CSM

I hate that I haven’t written in over a week.


My CGM has officially taken on a new role, a CSM. With a frenzied day-to-day existence right now, comprised of 12+ hour days, ever-changing Levemir doses, quick meals on the fly before exams, endless hours trying to navigate Adobe Illustrator to create  a research poster in time for the conference in T-minus 12 days…well. That’s why I haven’t written.


In a nutshell, here are some thoughts about the college diabetic-celiac existence in a period of beyond high stress:

1. Yes, I know that stressing about the stress of high blood sugars is obviously not helping.

2. I also know that I can’t run on empty and survive a day of nearly not eating cause of the stress-caused high blood sugars and that the not eating practically all day is just going to cause more stress. *cue Brianna tornado of hunger and high blood sugar anger*

3. But, sometimes that’s just a day in the life. These few weeks have been very trying of my mental strength, and my physical not-so-strength. With two conferences, 4 exams, and 21 days of classes left–I’ve got to pull through.

4. PS- though this is NOT MEDICAL ADVICE, the extra days past 1 week on the CGM are allowing for some crazy accurate days, which is one less thing to think about. Except…that peeling tape is definitely not my most attractive look. Maybe I’m grateful for the 19 degree, end of March day we’re having in AA today? Just kidding. Get me out of this season.

5. PPS- Definitely turned off the high alert on the CGM this week after nearly chucking it against the wall after the 4th alarm overnight from the tiny fluctuations above and below the threshold. I ONLY GET FIVE HOURS OF SLEEP AS IS, SO PLEASE CGM, SHUT UP.

I’ve picked up a new skill these last few weeks however, and that is gluten-free, insanely low-carb, crazy quick meals. I generally try to keep my meals low-carb, but with the high blood sugar issues exacerbated by the stress, I needed to find quick meals to fit my endless schedule with less than ten carbs to keep the blood sugar relatively in check. Here are some ideas:

-Lettuce+Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Strips+ Annie’s Roasted Red Pepper Dressing+ SteamFresh Green Beans+Sargento Mozzarella Shredded Cheese+sliced cucumber= a salad-in-disguise for a non-salad eater.

-Turkey-Cheese Wraps [don’t be stingy on the turkey!]+3 pickles+Diet Snapple= perfect quick lunch before more Calculus 4 cramming.

-Burger patties [quick broil for 5 min]+slices of cheese+small apple+Hershey’s Kiss=perfect after exam meal [my plan for this evening, after my LATE exam til 10 pm!]


Again, I ‘m sorry it’s been ages. I’m always available for a quick email [or Tweet @briwolin], just not entirely on top of cohesive posts these couple weeks.


Take it easy, but [find some crazy way to] take it.


The ABCs of the dreaded A1C.

That moment when you look at your calendar, now six weeks ago, and realize how close spring break is. That same moment when you look at your calendar, now six weeks ago, and realize that your endocrinology appointment is in six weeks and you’ve gotta get you’re you-know-what together for the dreaded A1C.

For those celiac non-diabetics, an A1C is a measure of essentially your average blood sugar over the last 6-10 weeks. Which means six weeks before the endo appointment is major crunch time to get everything in order.

Due to a few confounding variables, I knew my A1C wouldn’t be pretty, as I’ve been running much higher than normal lately, without much ability to change the matter. However, post-endocrine appointment, though with a majorly disappointing A1C of 8.8, I think they’ve found my solution to the other variables and I should be able to get back in order.

And beyond that, my beloved Dexcom—the all-knowing diabetic machine—has been treating me well. I realized that I really don’t know how I lived before having it and how everyone I know manages without one! The coolest update of its existence is my recent acquisition for it—decals from PumpPeelz. Yup, I’m a child—busy decorating my hardware. But I’m okay with that. Scott, one of the owners, was beyond friendly and helped me out on the price [college kid budget, of course!] and I’m now happily colorful. Take a look!

Geeked out with girly decorations. There are all different pattern options!
Geeked out with girly decorations. There are all different pattern options!

Sorry I hadn’t posted all week—being home from break means suddenly having to be consistently social and work with schedules other than your own! Promise to post more often now.

Take it easy but take it.



PS- For an extra laugh, I’ve been waiting to share this with all of you–thanks College Diabetes Network:

Too, too true.
Too, too true.

Tips and Tricks from a Savvy Gluten Free College Grocery Shopper.

Earlier today, Udi’s Gluten Free put out a fantastic post about the top 10 things they’d include in their gluten free grocery guide. So, I thought to myself, “I should totally do the college version!”. First, take a look at Udi’s post here, and hopefully this gluten free college girl can give you a few tips in avoiding what my friends know me for–a 2 hour trip to Meijer, up and down every aisle.

1. Make a list, on paper or in your head, of your staples.

-Okay, so maybe I’m not the best at this one–hence the two hour trips of la-dee-dah throughout the store. But I definitely do know that there are a few things I must get every time I go shopping: Udi’s White Bread, Udi’s Plain Bagels, Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese, Yoplait Light Yogurt [all are gluten free!], Dole Banana Orange strawberry Juice, Lactaid Fat Free Milk, Sargento Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese Sticks, Sargento Ultra Thin Provolone/Cheddar/Colby Jack Slices, Hilshire Farms Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Deli Meat, Oscar Mayer Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon, Green Beans, Bananas, and Fuji Apples. Eclectic? Of course. Perfect for a college girl? That too.

2. Find the gluten free aisle, as Udi’s mentioned.

-Nearly every grocery store now has an area for gluten free in both the freezer and grocery sections. Are they always labeled? Definitely not.Meijer has their gluten free area in the “Dairy Alternatives” aisle…

3. Don’t forget the protein.

-It’s very easy to get caught up with my favorite Reduced Fat Cape Cod Kettle Chips, some apples, and yogurt, but be sure to stop in the meat/fish area. I avoid deli counters entirely; they’re a cess pool of cross-contamination. However, getting some fresh salmon [which you can even pop in the freezer in a Ziploc!] at the fish counter, or some Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Strips for easy dinners is a must.

4. Shop in terms of full meals first, then snacks.

-It’s easy to grab anything gluten free in sight, but be conscious that you’ve planned real meals. If you look at some Udi’s Tortillas, be sure you also grab some chicken, seasoning, and red peppers to make fajitas! [of course, check all ingredients] Shopping in terms of meals eliminates that all-too-often moment of  “Oh, so I have some bread…and an apple…Maybe I’ll just have almond butter and an apple…wait, that’s not a meal…shoot, what am I doing here.”

5. Imagine the power went out from a storm [not uncommon this winter]. Would you have enough to eat for a few days?

-I always ensure that I have enough food that doesn’t need refrigeration in case I get stuck in a tough situation. This means things like almond butter, jars of salsa, chips, dry cereal like Corn Chex [yum!], Gatorade, and other non-microwavable, non-perishables are a must. Especially as a diabetic, you MUST be sure you’ve got enough food on hand, including things with and without lots of sugar.


Hopefully I’ve been a bit helpful for that next trip between a coordinator meeting and ballroom practice, ’cause sometimes you’ve just gotta squeeze it in.


Take it easy, but take it.