Category: Other

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.


If you think I need insulin when I’m low…

…then we have a real problem. There is a perpetual understanding that being a diabetic means that when anything is wrong, just get the kid some insulin. And if I hear one more person ask if they should get me insulin when I take a quick seat, shaking away with a crazy low alarm on my Dexcom, I’m going to be in a perpetual state of fear someone might just jab me with some insulin if I pass out.

Yes, of course they mean well when they offer to get my insulin. But, of course I worry. Nonetheless, that’s not the intention of this post. Yesterday, as it has been happening many times before in the last year, my hormones decide to take a random shift and I’m locked in a state of LOW. After seeing several endocrinologists, no one can figure out what has been causing these crazy spells, so in the meantime, I notice the pattern, drop the Levemir, and start eating. You all must know that horrific feeling that you’re stuffed to the brim with food and juice and yet are still low and need treatment. It might be just as bad as being low and being nauseous…maybe. But anyhow, that was my entire afternoon yesterday. My blood sugars like to behave in bizarre ways: I treat a low, and I know that compared to other diabetics, I definitely require more sugar for that number to budge. Then two hours later, the blood sugars are lovely and stable just to be followed another two hours later with two hours of crazy highs. And there’s very little way around that during these spells especially.

Yesterday, my concern was through the roof when, after being 47, I’d had 1/2 cup of marshmallows, a banana, 1/2 cup of juice, a handful of golden raisins, 1/4 cup of frosting and my favorite low food, an Apple Pie Larabar,  just to finally reach 105 on my Dexcom over an hour later. Yikes. So, I jumped on the phone with my mom, a diabetic herself, to discuss my returned low spell and how I was going to make it through the day. The worry is high with me, living alone, during these spells, but the Dexcom has definitely relieved just a bit of that stress.

I do have to mention briefly, how fantastic Larabars are for a perfect size, easy to grab and store, gluten free low blood sugar treatment option. I absolutely love my Apple Pie flavor but all flavors are gluten free, which is always fun with flavors for things that are often gluten loaded- like chocolate chip cookie dough and blueberry muffin! I buy them by the box and get a discount at Whole Foods and they stay fresh for ages, and can be thrown in a coat pocket and stored at the bottom of my backpack in case I go through all my other food and need to locate my emergency- emergency stash! Be sure you all try them the next time you’ve got a need for some tasty sugar.

My mom proceeded to recall that a glucagon can be given in doses, through a syringe, at least a few decades back for when a diabetic has the flu, or issues like these. So, after much research on her behalf, she determined that according to the AMerican Diabetes ASsociation, the Mayo Clinic, and Joslin Diabetes Center, as well as this research by the NIH, the following chart is still applicable in 2014:

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 2.08.23 PM


The glucagon should be mixed, as per instructions, and then a normal insulin U-100 syringe should be used to draw the dose. The rest of the glucagon can be stored for 24 hours in the fridge.

Though I didn’t end up needing this yesterday as I’d thought, it was just a bit of a relief knowing that I had a way around pushing food and juice as I’d been doing all day. Of course, I am not a medical professional, and please do your own research and determine if you’d like to use this option. As an aside, my mom did warn me that glucagon can definitely make your heart race, so don’t take it and immediately go running around about campus, as I would have potentially done!

Finally, I wanted to share a graphic that Udi’s Gluten Free shared via email this week, just to give you all some always needed perspective that there are a lot of us out there dealing with shoving gluten free food for a crazy low every day.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 2.40.08 PM


We’re all here for each other, especially on rough days like my last few.


Take it easy, but take it.


I’m sorry, but who’s the one actually dealing with this?

So, I’m learning that blogging is like diabetes—you could have the best laid plans for future endeavors [in diabetes, this is your next meal, how much insulin to take, etc.; in blogging, the best laid plans for what your next post is going to be, what you’ll discuss etc.] but as many of us know, of course it just doesn’t work that way.

I wanted to take a moment today to be sure that I touched on what I’ll call an “internet-event” that is taking up a lot of  time and space in many diabetes posts/tweets [like this one and this one] in my sphere this week. Obviously, I don’t want to just rehash everything else that has been said, but rather give my college diabetic-celiac view on the following:

Today, a columnist for the Washington Post, called Miss Manners, responded to a Type 1 Diabetic’s question about taking shots and testing blood sugars in public. Take a moment to read the third letter/response in this article, and then hear me out here.

If I ever gave more than a two second, fleeting thought to when and where I managed my diabetes, I would never be able to exist in the college world. In a split second, I’m running from an 8-5 day of class with one hour of break, by foot between distant buildings, then off to two meetings [now gluten free breakfast, lunch, and dinner in tow since 7:30am] and finally home for some homework and much needed feet-up time.

So, Miss Manners, I ask you, how would you go about advising me, a college girl, on caring for my 240 blood sugar my continuous glucose monitor is alerting me of in the middle of my 10 am physics lecture on the current and resistance of a multi-bulb circuit? Oh, should I take a moment to excuse myself so I can find a tiny bathroom stall, balance my insulin pouch on my knee, put the syringe cap in my mouth, find a corner of skin, jab myself, and proceed to return to lecture, left behind at the last light bulb?

I think we all agree here—there’s really no reason for a non-diabetic to begin commenting on how we’ve learned to *seemingly* flawlessly manage the moment-to-moment swings of a day in the life. What Miss Manners should have done is thanked the man for his concern about others feelings, and advise him to either a) do what makes his life just a little less stressful or b) recognized that she, in fact, does not have authority to discuss the topic and forward him to blogs like mine, and many others, where we’d speak from true experience.

To the man who wrote in, the next time you worry about your testing or shots in public, or if someone gives you a problem, I hope you manage it like I do: look him/her straight in the eye and say “Who’s dealing with this every waking moment, you or me?”


Take it easy, but take it.