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My wife's mother, Carol, has been staying with us recently. She's had type 2 diabetes for 14 years, and this past year her vision deteriorated to the point where she is now legally blind. Then, she had a stroke six months ago.
I should tell you that her control was not good, with BGs often in the 300s. It's been a hard process of acceptance for Nadia and me-we did everything we could to help her get better blood sugars. Although Carol is a very smart and educated woman, she was not able to implement any of the strategies for better control, and her health suffered. A doctor would probably call Carol noncompliant. We knew she just loved her ice cream sundaes too much, but because of emotional hang-ups, she wasn't able to make allowances.
When I am home with her I test her blood sugar, load up a syringe with insulin and then she injects herself. During one of these sessions last week, I had her meter and lancing device out, ready to go. One of the kids asked me a question, diverting my attention for a moment. When I turned back to the lancing device, I saw the meter flashing, "Apply Sample." I did the natural thing I have done eight times a day for the past 15 years-I lanced my finger and applied my blood to the meter.
Then it hit me. That was Carol's lancing device, with a used lancet inside. Like many, we don't change the lancet after each use. I had just inoculated myself with whatever was living on the end of that lancet! I tried to stay calm and not panic. Nothing could be done now. It's not surprising that my reading was 60 mg/dl. A borderline low and a distraction was all it took for me to forget what I was doing for that one second.
Carol was still waiting for me to take her hand. I told her it would be another minute before I could get to her, because I had lanced myself instead. She quickly said, "Don't worry. I don't have AIDS." Of course, I knew this, and hearing it made me laugh. Because the lancet dries out between uses, this was not nearly as serious as an accidental needle stick which a nurse might get in a hospital with fresh blood, so I reasoned that I was safe from harm.
Although I don't think this will ever happen again, it presents a good reason to change the lancet between each use.
On Other Notes
With the holidays and good food approaching, don't think that you can't eat what you want. Have a strategy for maintaining good BGs anyway. I love pumpkin pie and always bake several over the holidays. In order to eat it and not go too high, I might leave out something else in the meal, take extra insulin, or increase my activity level.
Serious Stories Among the Holiday Buzz
We have a lot of great reporting and information in this issue. Our cover story about pancreas transplants, by Daniel Trecroci, really turned my head when I read the finished version. I asked him to talk with as many pancreas recipients as possible and focus on their experiences with the procedure. I find the answers fascinating. This is the first article I have ever read about the pancreas transplant that has made me think, "I want one of those." I could give up daily shots and continuous diabetes frustration for a handful of pills. I know that I am too healthy for this procedure, but it is still a thrill to know that it's a possibility.
The other feature is about herbs and vitamins, by Sharon Kellaher. I take vitamins every day, and feel the medical research overwhelmingly favors supplements. An alternative study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week showed that 40 percent of Americans use alternative medicine to treat chronic conditions, spending $27 billion dollars out of pocket last year. All of us need to keep up with developments in this area, and this article will help you do it.
To welcome in the season of giving, I'm proud to include in this issue a unique article by Judith Jones Ambrosini. She writes what to give your loved one who has diabetes when the cure isn't in Santa's bag.
I hope you get plenty of holiday cheer this season.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.