November 2015

Hard to believe that it has been 8 months since being diagnosed with Diabetes.  It has been a tough ride, but I’m glad to have my A1C in check and on the right path with my blood sugar levels.  All things considered I’m glad I was diagnosed when I was as it could have only have gotten much worse.

I’ve got plenty to do still.  I am still averaging blood glucose checks 4 times a day, and my numbers are showing that my A1C should be at or below 6.0 on average.  Pizza is my true arch nemesis however.  I need to resist the urge of ordering one up when I am busy or just plain being lazy.

So with all things considered I am going to use November to get back into a schedule of things.  Ultimately that is what helps the best with having Diabetes I think.  Keeping things to normal times so it easy to predict and regulate what is going on with my blood sugar.

It just so happens that November is also when a ton of stuff is going on in Pensacola.  Here are some pics of things from Pensacola so far this month.

Joseph Sollner Remembrance Wall

Remembrance wall in Pensacola

Joseph Sollner Remembrance wall First City Arts Center

Remembrance wall in Pensacola

Joseph Sollner Pipe Laying Ship Pensacola

Pipe Laying Ship

Joseph Sollner Tall Ship Pensacola Port

Tall ship in Pensacola

Joseph Sollner tall ship pensacola masts

Masts of the tall ship in Pensacola

Joseph Sollner Pensacola Tall Ship Flag

Tall ship at Port of Pensacola

Joseph Sollner ships in port Pensacola

Ships in port.

6.0

My official A1C test results came it at 6.0 on the nose.  Just got back from my quarterly visit with my primary physician and all of my numbers looked good.  He said I should be very pleased with my numbers and I am.  I plan on spending the next quarter working on getting my A1C number below 6.0.

It has been a long road the past 6 months, but worth it.  I have halved my A1C from its peak of 13.1 while hospitalized to 6.0.  I understand what my body is telling me more than ever, and I know how to handle hypo and hyper glycemic moments as they happen.  Luckily,  I have few such moments these days.

A lot of hard work has gone into getting my numbers in order.  First, I stick to a strict diet and have eliminated all sugary drinks and alcohol.  Second, I make sure at least 3 days each week have over 60 minutes of physical activity of at least a medium effort.  Finally, i take my medication as prescribed and check my blood glucose level 4 times a day.

So here’s to 6.0 and lower going forward, and to having less reliance on medication and insulin to keep my blood sugar in check!  Here are a few pictures from a stop on made in Yosemite last year while headed to San Francisco.

Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 1 Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 2 Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 3 Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 4 Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 5 Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 9 Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 10 Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 12 Joseph Sollner - Yosemite 13

 

Diabetes, Six Months In

Exactly six months ago I went to hospital as something clearly wasn’t right with me.  After the usual check-in to the ER I waited a few minutes before being taken to triage to have my vitals taken.  That is when the fun started.  I had a resting heart rate above 150, and it was only going up.  Right away I was hooked up to an EKG and the tests started to happen.  I was moved to a bed in the ER and spent the next few hours of my life getting tests done and answering a myriad of questions.

The doctors and nurses were awesome, and we joked with each other as the night progressed.  Then it started to get scary.  The couldn’t get my heart rate to go down, even after a few shots and several IVs.  There was very serious discussion on whether or not to stop my heart and restart it to get the pulse to basically reset.  This scared the crap out of me, even with the nurses telling me it’ll feel weird, but you won’t pass out.  Yeah, something tells me restarting my heart would probably feel a bit strange.

Luckily it didn’t come to that as my first round of blood work was just coming back to the attending doctors.  My blood glucose level was well over 500, so that gave them an explanation to go on for what was happening to my body since everything else was checking out ok.  I waited in the ER for a couple more hours before they decided to admit me to the hospital, starting my diabetic journey.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night.  It didn’t help that the IV machine would start to alarm randomly at times, and that every 15 minutes I was being given this or that in terms of medication, or getting more blood work done.   By morning I still didn’t have a full idea of what was going on, let alone the extent of things.  The doctor  assigned to me came in, we talked, at that point he didn’t think I was diabetic, he said I just had a hyperglycemic moment which dehydrated me, which in turn caused the high heart rate and so on.

So, more waiting as they worked to get my numbers more in check.  After most of the day passed the doctor came in and said, in his own words, ” well, you are super diabetic.”  Oddly, it was a bit of a relief at first, at least I knew what the heck was going on finally.  He continued on and told me what my A1C test came in at, it was 13.1, an average blood glucose of over 350.  This was very high, and then the conversation turned to possible organ damage.

The worry came flooding back at that point.  Did I have damage to my organs, if so, what.  They ordered ultrasound tests and some x-rays to look at things.  Luckily for me nothing looked out of the ordinary and I was spared the complications of organ damage.  At this point I was able to get some sleep, and slept through a few of the regular 15 minute intervals of people checking in on me.  I think some of the hospital staff attending to me were happy to see me finally sleep.

I woke up feeling better, but knew I had a long road of recovery ahead of me.  I spent the day talking to doctors and a diabetic nurse.  The diabetic nurse coached me on a number of things.  Basically she explained what was going on in my body, how to read the signs of hyper and hypo glycemic moments, and most of all how to properly eat.  After a few more hours I was released from the hospital and went home.

Once home I started right in on changing things up.  I went through and got rid of anything I should no longer eat.  I was a bit shocked at how much stuff I was eating that was harming me.  My mom had flown in to help out, and we went shopping after creating a meal plan that would work.  She helped cook a few meals and made sure I stayed on track.  After a week she went home and life got back to normal.

So here I am now,  6 months in to this journey.  I went in for my latest A1c test last Friday.  I am eagerly awaiting the results.  I went from 13.1 to 8.4 in two moths time, and am really hoping for a number less than 6 this time around.  Anything less than 7 would be good, but under 6 would be awesome.  I keep myself busy, donating my time at Manna, a local food bank, and Habitat for Humanity.  I donate at least 10 hours a week, and most of those hours are doing physical work.  So, not only is it rewarding, it is like having a free gym membership.  I take my medicine on time and as directed.  I check my blood four plus times a day, and I track it using a blood glucose meter and a device from Glooko that is a must have for any diabetic.  Oh and did I mention, I am also a full time student in college and work a full time job in the IT industry on top of all of this.

In the end, I am glad for the diagnosis.  My life has actually gotten much better.  I know my body more now than ever, and I understand what is going on when I start to feel ill or just plain crappy.  I have a loving family (my 3 dogs, 1 parrot, 3 outside cats, and most important my beautiful wife) who have supported me through this journey and will into the future.  Maybe someday down the road I won’t have to take insulin or medication, but until then I am happy with myself, I am happy regardless of being a diabetic.

Here are some pics of the meals I prepare regularly.  Some portions are for two people.  All are easy to make and take in general less than 30 minutes to make.

 

Joseph SollnerDiabetic Meals I've Made

Diabetic Meals I’ve Made

Joseph Sollner Diabetic Meals I've Made

Diabetic Meals I’ve Made

Joseph Sollner Diabetic Meals I've Made

Diabetic Meals I’ve Made

Joseph Sollner Diabetic Meals I've Made

Diabetic Meals I’ve Made

Joseph Sollner Diabetic Meals

Diabetic Meals I’ve Made

Joseph Sollner Diabetic Meals I've Made

Diabetic Meals I’ve Made

Joseph Sollner Diabetic Meals I've Made

Diabetic Meals I’ve Made

Joseph Sollner Diabetic Meals I've Made

Diabetic Meals I’ve Made

A New Milestone

Today I was able to skip taking one of my medications.  With diabetes comes a few other complications normally.  I had to start taking medication for high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol along with my diabetes formulary.  All in all I have approximately 12 daily tasks related to medication and testing.  Well today I can take that number down to 11.

My blood pressure over the past few days has remained at or below 120/80.  In some cases it actually was flirting with being too low!  So starting today I have stopped taking my prescribed medication for high blood pressure, Lisinopril.  Now this doesn’t mean I’m not checking my blood pressure daily.  I’ll be keeping a very close eye over the next few days to see if I see an increase in blood pressure at all.  I actually have an app that tracks my pressure records for me and creates reports on the fly.

This is good news for sure.  It points to things actually paying off finally.  This combined with me very rarely needing any bolus insulin shots are very welcomed events.  Next up I need to better track my carb intake and physical activity.  I currently average around 2.5 miles a day of walking around, and that is all tracked via Fitbit, but I need to track working out as well.

Here is picture of me receiving an award for work.  One less medication is just as good as an award!

Joseph Sollner CTB Award

Winning one of my three CTB awards.

 

Diabetes Management Via a Social App, I’ll Bite!

In the middle of last month I started to use an application on my iPhone called One Drop.  I’ve really like using this app to help track my diabetes management alongside the Glooko app and device I already use.  The app is very handy and unique in many ways.

The One Drop app is a manual entry app.  This means there is no automation in terms of downloading data from a blood glucose meter or insulin pump.  However, the interface is by far the best one out there for manual entry of data.  Simply either swipe the circle until you get to the number you are entering, or you can type it in via keyboard.  You can enter in data for your blood glucose level, your physical activity, your carb intake, and you insulin intake.  The food intake is a bit different than the others as you take a picture of your food and assign it a carb level value, low, medium, or high.

The most interesting feature of One Drop is the social aspect of it.  Your input is viewable by others, and their input is viewable by you.  This is neat as you can see how you are doing comparatively against others with diabetes.   You can also cheer people on by liking their numbers and placing motivational stickers to their posts.  At first it seams a bit annoying, but after awhile it is really nice to get recognition for sticking with your plan and having good numbers.  You can also look at a map of glucose reading posts and see how you are doing against others in your local area.  Unfortunately I’m the only one in my town using the app, but I can see that others are using it nearby towns.

So if you have diabetes and are looking for a neat way to track your numbers give One Drop a try.  It is easy to use and neatly visualizes your journey with diabetes.

Here are some screen shots from the app.

One Drop History Example - Joseph Sollner

This screen neatly visualizes my past few days by looking at one of my posts. Pink represents blood glucose checks, orange represents physical activity, green represents carb intake, and blue represents insulin intake.

Joseph Sollner One Drop Data Entry

This shot shows the 4 buttons you press at the bottom to enter in data, Check, Meds, Food, and Move.

Joseph Sollner One Drop Data Entry

Here you see a screen for entering your blood glucose level. You enter the number by simply moving the white circle around the pink circle until the number in the center matches your reading.

One Drop carb intake example

An example of a carb intake record.

Joseph Sollner One Drop Personal History Screen

This screen shows your personal history. It shows the standard variance in your blood glucose readings as well has hyper and hypo glycemic moments. It also tracks the percentage of insulin you are taking that is bolus (fast acting) and basal (baseline). You can watch your progress or catch yourself slipping by looking at this screen.

Joseph Sollner One Drop High Blood Glucose Screen

A screen that quickly shows all of you high blood glucose moments. Very handy to identify foods that might be causing your hyperglycemic moments.

Joseph Sollner One Drop Low Glucose Moments Screen

This screen shows your lowest blood glucose moments in comparison to the insulin you log. Very handy to help adjust insulin intake in the event of hypoglycemic moments.

An Interesting Look at A1C Levels

So when I was diagnosed with diabetes my A1C clocked in at 13.1, double what is normal for a diabetic to have as a goal, 6.5 to 7.  Interestingly enough that translates to an average blood glucose level of around 329 mg/dl, which is extremely high for an average. My blood glucose level when I was in the emergency room was over 500 mg/dl, and that was after not eating most of the day.  So in other words, my blood sugar was way out of control.

Since taking medication, doing daily insulin shots, changing my diet, and tracking everything and anything health wise, I’ve managed to get my weekly estimated A1c levels down considerably.  I used the A1c average calculator from the American Diabetes Association to create the table below.

Joseph Sollner A1C Levels

Weekly average estimated A1C levels.

As you can see my weekly estimates dropped dramatically right away, and have since continued to slowly drop.  Now, this doesn’t mean I dropped from a 13.1 to 7.1 in a week’s time.   These numbers are estimated based on the 4 daily blood glucose tests I preform (my fingers feel like swiss cheese from all the lancet pokes).  In mid-May I had an official A1C blood test done, along with a myriad of other blood and urine tests.  The official number that came back was 8.4.  Still higher than the goal, but much reduced from 13.1 (my attending doctor at the hospital referred to me being ‘super diabetic’ due to my A1C level being that high).

My next A1C and host of blood and urine tests is scheduled for the start of September.  It will be very interesting to see how close the weekly averages I am seeing match the results of the official test.  I feel confident they will be close, if not at least better than the 8.4 number from the last test.  Interestingly enough, I very rarely need to take any Humalog shots based on the low sliding scale anymore.  Humalog is a bolus insulin, bolus meaning fast acting.  I was taking four shots of Humalog a day initially.  So now a normal day for me consists of one seven unit shot of Levemir, a basal insulin, or baseline insulin.  Of course, I take 2 Metformin pills, 1 Lisinopril pill, 1 Pravastatin pill, perform 2 to 4 blood pressure tests, and preform 4 blood glucose tests daily as well.  The goal is to eventually eliminate most if not all of the medications down the road, wish me luck!

So there you have it, my interesting look at A1C levels.  You can read a bit more about it from the Mayo Clinic, or you can continue to follow my journey.

Here are a couple of pics from a trip to Maui a couple of years back.

Joseph Sollner Sailboat

Sailboat anchored right offshore.

Joseph Sollner Surf Boards

Plenty of boards, let’s go surfing.

Visible Progress

My progress lowering my blood sugar level has become very obvious as of late.  Check out the following graph of the past 90 days:

Joseph Sollner BGL Levels

Past 90 days blood glucose levels with average.

As you can see the past couple of weeks my efforts have started to pay off.  I did have a couple of days in which I did go hypoglycemic.  That is when my blood sugar actually goes too low.  I’ve upped my carb intake to compensate for now. Overall though this graph is a great motivator to keep going, and to keep logging all of my statistics daily.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to track this amount of data 10 years ago.

Here are some pictures from last summer when I drove through the Franklin Drive-Thru Safari.  You can find the whole gallery here: Franklin Drive-Thru Safari.

Joseph Sollner Drive Thru Safari

Drive Thru Safari Friends!

Joseph Sollner Drive Thru Safari

Drive Thru Safari Friends!

More Exercise Via Yardwork

This weekend I got a good deal of exercise completing some more yard work.  The next focus will be on the grass in the front yard, trying to fix some of the bald spots caused by flooding last year.  The goal is to have a nice yard to relax in while completing my exercise goals at the same time.  In one day alone this weekend I walked about 11 miles.

In one project this weekend I used some old dog food cans and some old wood to create some flower planters to mount on the fence.  This adds a nice mix of color to an otherwise blank wall in our backyard area.  It was super easy to do, and best part it was free.  I’ll have an endless supply of empty cans as well since two of my dogs are on special diets.

Here are some pictures of the ‘old can planters’.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

Old dog food cans to be used as planters.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

Holes drilled to drain water.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

Wood cut to size.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

Wood after power washing.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

Cans mounted to wood.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

First set mounted.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

First set mounted.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

Grouping mounted.

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

All flowers added!

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

Flowers added!

Joseph Sollner Old Can Flower Pots

Flowers added!

A1C 13.1 to 8.4

My blood test numbers came back and my new A1C reading is in.  When I was in the hospital my A1C was at 13.1,  basically off the charts.  My blood test from last week shows my A1C now at 8.4.

While 8.4 is better than 13.1 it is not in the 6.X range I want to eventually be in.  An A1C number in the 6.x range basically means I’m a healthy diabetic, and am successfully mitigating most of the possible issues down the road.  So getting to a 6.x number is a big deal to say the least.

On a side note my cholesterol levels came back high.  My doctor said this was not surprising.  He put me on a cholesterol medication to help me get those numbers in control as well.  My goal is to have LDL level below 100.  This basically means more exercise in my future.

Here are some pictures of flowers we recently added to the patio area.  Yard work is my favorite type of exercise.

Joseph Sollner - Patio Flowers

Patio Flowers

Joseph Sollner - Patio Flowers

Patio Flowers

Joseph Sollner - Patio Flowers

Patio Flowers

Joseph Sollner - Patio Flowers

Patio Flowers

Metering Madness

My Glooko MeterSync Blue came last Friday.  This thing is an awesome tool for managing my blood sugar levels.  I no longer have to manually write my levels down after testing, then manually put them into a spreadsheet.

My meter stored all my test data that I have run so far since leaving the hospital.  I was able to sync that data to Glooko and was instantly able to see a statistical analysis of my tests.  Right away I was able to see that I need to better balance my dinners.  My blood sugar has the widest variance after dinner.

I’m also able to produce reports, including a log book, at the click of a mouse.  I can email these off to my doctor, or print a copy to bring with me for any appointments.  If you are diabetic and test your blood sugar frequently I suggest you check out Glooko.  All you need is a smartphone and a compatible blood glucose meter to use their MeterSync Blue.

Here are some pics of my stats.  You can see how my numbers are the widest range before bedtime.  This means adjusting my dinners to be more inline with the 4 4 4 4 meal standard.

Joseph Sollner 30 Day BGL Graph

Past 30 day statistical graph.

Joseph Sollner Past 90 day daily graph.

Past 90 day daily graph.

Joseph Sollner Past 90 day time of day graph

Past 90 day time of day graph.