A story

If You Give a Girl a Test Strip
written by: Amy Berger, artificial pancreas
unfortunately a non-fictional tale

If you give a girl a test strip,

she'll want a poker to go with it.

So you will give her a poker and her PDM and she will test her blood sugar.

When she tests her blood sugar,

she will be low and want some juice to make her better.

When the girl is feeling better,

you will give her another test strip to check her blood sugar once more.

When you give her the test strip,

you will realize it is the last one from the container.

Since it is the last one from the container,

you will send your girl to the supply cabinet to get some more strips.

When she looks for more strips,

she will notice there are only 4 containers remaining.

4 containers remaining means it is time to place a reorder.

When you log on to the computer to place a reorder,

the screen will flash a warning: "Cannot fulfill request".

Not being able to fulfill the request,

the computer will prompt you to call a number.

Calling that number will result in a grumpy lady telling you they no longer contract that brand of test strip.

You will tell the grumpy lady your girl NEEDS that particular test strip because it is the only one that works in with her insulin pump.

Hearing about the insulin pump will cause the grumpy lady to stutter and place you on hold . . .

. . . indefinitely.

While you are on hold, your girl will ask for another test strip,

and she'll want her poker to go with it.

You'll give her a poker and her PDM and she will test her blood sugar.

When she tests her blood sugar,

she will be high and want a correction to make her feel better.

Making a correction will remind you she needs to test again in a bit,

and testing again will make you realize you are still on hold for a reorder.

A reorder is not going to happen with this phone call (according to the grumpy lady, you need to call your insurance company),

So you hang up the phone and search for your insurance card.

Searching for your insurance card will cause you to dig deep into your purse,

and deep in your purse is where you will find more test strips.

but those test strips are already used and therefor of no use.

Being of no use will remind you how scary it would be to be without them,

so you find the number on your insurance card and start dialing.

Dialing the number will result in getting lost in a maze of automated menu options.

The menu options are never exactly what you need,

so you press '0' for an operator,

And wait, wait, wait some more for a real, live person.

A real, live person gets on the line and states you need to file an appeal for the test strips.

Filing an appeal means you have to call the Endocrinologist.

Calling the Endocrinologist will mean you have to leave a message,

and leaving a message means you can get of the darn phone!

Getting off the darn phone will make your girl happy.

Making your girl happy will remind her she is hungry.

When she is hungry she tells you what she wants and you count up the carbs.

Counting up the carbs means she needs to enter that number into her insulin pump.

Entering carbs counts into her insulin pump will remind her she needs to test her blood sugar,

and if she tests her blood sugar she will need to use another test strip.

Using up another test strip will remind you to place a reorder,

And placing a reorder is getting complicated.

Complicated tasks make you frustrated,

and getting frustrated makes you want a cookie (or ten).

If you get a cookie, your girl will want one, too.

If she gets a cookie, she will have measure the carbs, test her blood sugar, and enter the data into her PDM.

Testing her blood sugar will use another strip,

and using another strip reminds you the stash is dwindling.

The dwindling stash will cause you to check your phone messages.

 Your messages reveal the Endocrinologist called back.

The Endocrinologist says they will be happy to fax an appeal,

and faxing an appeal should result in a reorder.

A reorder will remind you it is time to test your girl's blood sugar.

Testing your girl's blood sugar is necessary because she has been  jumping on the trampoline.

Jumping on the trampoline causes her blood sugar to drop,

and a drop in blood sugar could be dangerous, so you go get another test strip.

While getting another test strip,

you stop by the computer to check the status of the appeal.

The status of the appeal reads "DENIED",

and being denied makes you cRaZy.

Being cRaZy does not allow you to be a good artificial pancreas.

Being a good artificial pancreas means you get back on the phone,

and getting back on the phone results in talking to more stupid people.

Talking to more people reveals your policy has an "exclusion",

and this "exclusion" protects the insurance company,

Protecting the insurance company means setting limits on policy holders,

setting limits on policy holders means my girl can't get what she needs.

If my girl doesn't get what she needs, she will get very sick.

Getting very sick will cause her to go to the hospital,

and going to the hospital will cost the insurance company lots of money.

(WAIT.  I'm confused.  The insurance company doesn't want to pay for a 3 cent test strip, which costs us a dollar a piece over the counter, for preventative care?  Won't they save more money by keeping my girl healthy?)

So, if you rant and rave and pull out the can of whoopa*#,

The can of whoopa*# will cause someone to listen.

Causing someone to listen will produce understanding,

and understanding will yield some common sense.

Some common sense will result in your husband's corporate HR manager to make a phone call.

Making a phone call will change your policy,

and changing your policy means the appeal is 'APPROVED'

Being approved means your reorder has been placed.

Placing the reorder will remind you your girl needs to test her blood sugar,

and testing her blood sugar will require a test strip . . .

The End Never Ending Story

*The only way to end this destined-to-be-a-series of wretchedly written stories is to discover a CURE for my girl's T1D.  Do what you can so I don't have to pen another tale.  It is for the best, really, that I don't have to write another. 


good friday

Happy 'new contacts' Friday!  Well, for me, anyway.  Nothing like placing in a new set to replace the scratchy, cloudy, old pair.  Well . . . . clean sheet day is almost as good as new contact day.  Either way, today is Friday and that means I am about to list 3 moments I was grateful for this past week . . . no T1D talk allowed.

1.  For those of you who don't follow me on facebook, I posted this fine photo yesterday afternoon with the status update of: "yes, yes I did".  I included a link to the Toyota Swagger Wagon commercial so it would make sense as to why I have 'Swagger' as my new license plates.  The plates crack me up and put a little fun in my life.  And, for only $25, I'm a cheap one to please.  If you see me around town, give me a honk and a wave to let me know you llllooooovvveeeee me.  I'm kind of needy that way.  Oh, and this will be my next upgrade in say, about, 10 years.

2.  So sew . . . sewing until my thread runs bare.  I have a great excuse, however, as my sister pinned 'pillowcase nightgowns' on Pinterest and asked me to make some for my precious little nieces.  How could I say no? 

I went to our local Salvation Army thrift store and scored big time with vintage pillowcases and sheets.  See the one second down from the top?  It was a cabbage patch doll bed sheet circa 1983.  My sister is going to f-l-i-p-o-u-t when she sees it, as she was a fan of the flat faced dolls way back when.  I can't wait to give these to Maren (4) and Megan (2) and see them in these sweet gowns.

I used this tutorial to make the pillowcase dresses, then made a couple of changes (elastic casing on the bottom of the pillowcase) to make a shirt for Miss Ellie.

3.  To top off my grateful moments, I will present the best for last.  Ellie and Ben had their piano recital and both had a fabulous performance.  Ben made me giggle when he first started to play and realized he was 'off' on his hand placement.  He shot his hands up to the side of his head, smacked himself, shook it off, and started over.  The audience laughed and Ben continued on as if nothing had happened.  This was his first performance and I couldn't be happier with his dedication to get'r done.  Ellie was perfectly poised and ready to play her piece . . . and she did it perfectly.  What a nice end to a fantastic year of learning piano.

Well, that's all for now.  I am super excited about opening day tomorrow of our local Farmer's Market.  Ellie and I will wake early and hop on over to grab some good parking.  Last year over 20,000 people showed up for the season opener . . . so the early bird gets the worm asparagus.

Be good!


good friday

Today's good Friday post is all about my bouncing baby boy, Ben.  In two days he will be 8 years old . . . . oh how time flies.  I simply cannot imagine life without my always-busy, crack-my-nuts-funny, sing-songy, defying-gravity, ever-loving, mini-Dave son of mine. 

Happy Birthday Benjamin 'Boobie' Russell Berger!


good friday

Is it really Friday?  Some of the days this past week felt like they were flying by, while others made me question if the clocks were working correctly.  Whatever the case, today is Friday, and that means it is the day to be grateful for three moments during the last seven days . . . . no T1D talk allowed.

1.  Farmer's Market season is just around the corner!  My local chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local newsletter arrived in my inbox and my mouth started watering just thinking about all the fresh foods coming available soon.  Included in the newsletter was a list of the surrounding area's markets, complete with with days and times.  Print out a copy of the list if you are local, or search for Farmer's Markets in your own area to see what is available.  I love being able to spend my money on foods grown close to home and support our small farms.  What do you do to support your local economy?

2.  More sewing time!  I was able to spend several hours last Saturday creating some new cash pouches for some friends near and dear.  I even designed a 'clutch' to hold the pouches together in one place.  (Still have to finish the black and white set) Now I just need to tweak the design to contain the change . . . . interior pocket, perhaps?! 

3.  Last night I went to hop on my sewing machine to start a quick project.  I started to wind a new thread color on the bobbin and noticed my machine was 'whining' and sluggish.  I turned it off, checked the plug, and turned it back on . . . . . or I tried to turn it back on.  It was d.e.a.d.  CA PUT!  Lights Out.  I called for my handy hubby to take a look, but I soon learned the motor would have to be replaced.  BoooooooHooooooo.

The dead machine provided an opportunity for me to finally take out and dust off the Singer 99K I received when Dave's great aunt passed away a couple of years ago.  I searched 'the Google' for threading instructions and also discovered an online instruction manual.  Yeah for Al Gore and his discovery of the Internet!  Dave oiled up the machine and I took it for a spin.  It only has one stitch (straight) but you can vary the length and pop it into reverse for a nice locking back stitch.  I hope to clean her up a bit and try her out on a future sewing project. 

I love her and I just met her!  I think I will name her Sally.

Have a great weekend; and be good!


good friday

Hhhhhheeeeeelllllllooooooooo Friday!  So happy to see your bright and shiny face.  Time to talk about three great things/moments of the past week for which I am ever so grateful.  No T1D talk allowed.

1.  Last Friday my belief in the good of mankind was strengthened.  A couple of days prior, I accidentally left my cash envelope ($80) at a local store.  I didn't realize this until a few hours had passed, so by the time I called the money was gone.  I left my name and number in case someone turned it in, then went and pouted for a bit.  Just when I was wishing the recipient of my loss well, Friday morning rolled around and I got a call.  They found my envelope . . . . still filled with my cash!!!!  WooHoo!!!!!!

As if this incident were not enough to strengthen my faith in goodness, another act of kindness occurred.  Ellie realized she left behind her itouch at the hospital where we have her Endo ::ahem:: medical appointments. We called and left a message with the nurse to take a look around . . . but she could not locate it.  This morning Dave logged on to his email and found a message from the security department of the hospital.  An itouch was found in an elevator and turned into security.  The officer looked at the itouch and opened up the email.  He discovered a contact for 'Dad' and sent a message reporting his find.  Wow.  I'm tempted to say "Only in Iowa" . . . but I want to believe this could happen anywhere.

2.  During some unexpected time alone, I found myself browsing the racks at one of my favorite places . . . Goodwill.  Two sacks of jeans, pants and dress shirts for under $25.  My children are still young (and gullible) enough for me to hand the items over and boast about how we are being 'eco-friendly' by purchasing recycled clothing.  Hey, a good deal is worth making up a fashionable story.

While still riding a high of a good buy, I came home to find the fabric I had ordered had been delivered.  The purple geometric print will be used for a 'pillow mat' I will be sewing for my niece's birthday.  The 2 fabrics on the rolls are a laminated cotton I will be using to make more 'cash envelopes'.  I will be sure to share photos when the projects are complete.

3.  The third grateful moment of the week has something to do with the cute cowgirl in the photo.  I took her to Hawkeye Tack & Western Wear after her Endo ::ahem:: medical appointment Wednesday.  It was a surprise stop for her, and oh how I wish I had a camera to capture her mile-wide smile as we entered the parking lot.  She can't wait to try them out and muddy them up tonight at her horse riding lesson.  YeeHaw!!!

Have a great weekend!


a little is a lot

Really, I am!  I came home yesterday from Ellie's Endo appointment and was so excited to post about the decrease in her HbA1c results.  I finished my post toting the AWSCHUMNESS of switching to Apidra and lamenting how Ellie's last result of an 8.0 wasn't bad, but certainly wasn't good.

It wasn't until a facebook friend mentioned she was praying for a better HbA1c number that I realized I never gave the result of yesterday's blood test.

I have a valid excuse, however.  Those 2+ hour appointments wear me out!  So much information crammed into a relatively small amount of time.  So much anticipation for such a small little blood test result.  A little amount of stress turns into a lot amount of tired.

Back to the appointment:

Our most favorite nurse in the whole wide world had us guessing at the new HbA1c number.  A big cheesy grin on her face indicated the number was lower.  Just to be funny, she had us take a guess at the result.

I chimed in with a hopeful 7.6

Hubby gave a conservative guesstimate of 7.8

Ellie presented with a 'deer-in-the-headlight-stare' and went with my guess.

Nope!  None of the answers matched.

Our nurse grinned and said "LOWER".

7.5?  7.4?  6.8?

Nuh, Uh . . . ::smirky smile::


You see, a .8 HbA1c reduction may not appear to be much, but a little is a lot.

An 8.0 means Ellie's blood sugars AVERAGE 183. (her goal is 80-150)

A higher average of blood sugars = higher chances of long term complications.

A 7.2 means Ellie's blood sugars AVERAGE 160.

Closer to goal = closer to better control = better health.


Even if her mother is a major dork.


not so wordless wednesday

I like words.  Just ask my boyfriend of 23 years . . . if you can get a chance to ask him without me butting in and answering for him. 

The idea of a 'Wordless Wednesday' post simple gives me the willies.  It's not right!  I tried skirting the idea by posting a couple of 'Wordless'ish Wednesdays', but it didn't feel right lying to y'all.

So today I present 'Not so Wordless Wednesday'.  Enjoy!

Maddi completed and presented her very first piece of commissioned art.  The lovely ginger you see on the left is a soul sister from church.  From the moment we met we knew one another.  Has that ever happened to you?  Anyway, she asked Maddi to work out a picture she has held in her mind for years.  A present to be gifted to her mother once it is properly matted and framed.  The dragon represents Miss C's mother, who is reading a story to a red-haired fairy (Miss C), who is sitting on a toadstool.  The smaller toadstool represents a brother who passed away 3 days after birth, and the father rounds out this family by appearing as a face in an oak tree. 

This project challenged Maddi, as the subject matter is not something she regularly draws.  I am proud of her for researching various ways to draw the subjects and for taking a risk by accepting the request to share her talent with a person outside her family fan club. 

While shopping around at Michael's the other day, I ran into (literally) a middle-aisle kiosk displaying stickers on clearance.  I grabbed a handful and took them home, simply to make Ellie squeal.  I knew she would love the sparkly designs and would put them to use 'pimping' her insulin Pod.  This might have been the first time she was slightly excited to do a site change!

Last but certainly not least, today was Ellie's quarterly Endo appointment.
Our last one in January was quite a kicker . . . going up to an 8.0 for an A1C.  Not a bad number by any means, but a consistent upward trend.  Hitting 8 meant something needed to change, and switching from MDI to an insulin pump, while wonderfully freeing for Ellie, did not better control her T1D.

Among the changes suggested, one was to try out a new insulin.  We were hesitant at first and certain some tweaking of basals and carb ratios would do the trick.  Nada.  So in the last week of February we opened a trial vial of Apidra and haven't looked back since.  It did take some time for her body to acclimate to a different insulin, but once it did we knew we were on to something good.  Post meal spikes are lower and shorter, and overnight numbers show to hold pretty steady. 

We Love Apidra
(and lowering A1C's!!!)