Surgery Is Over, But What Did Life Hand Me?

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If you’re dealing with whatever kind of storm Sandy ended up as, I wish you well and hope you prepared yourself well for everything, including your health needs. Please let us know how you fared (after your life is a little more calm).

Sorry about my absence last week. I’d had surgery on my hand and…well, I guess I just don’t recover as well as I used to. After all, I’ll be 39 in a couple of weeks. For the 25th time.

My hand was in a cast and I just couldn’t wake up. It was as if the anesthesia hadn’t worn off — although I was awake for the surgery! I got all excited when they told me I would have something called a “beer block.” I was salivating and wondering if I’d have brats with that. Then I found out it was a “Bier block,” an intravenous regional anesthesia introduced by a German surgeon named August K.G. Bier.

So I was awake under this blue thing, didn’t feel a thing, played eyesies with the anesthesiologist, and was mainly bored.

The surgery was for a ganglion cyst. But when the surgeon got into my hand, he discovered it wasn’t a ganglion cyst: It was, he said originally, some kind of rheumatoid arthritis that attacks and destroys tendons. Yesterday, when I went to get the cast off and stitches out, he said pathology didn’t discover arthritis, but there was some kind of inflammation. Heck, I don’t know what it is, either: I must have missed that class in med school.

At any rate, the tendons were frayed, kind of like a rope coming apart, and he cleaned them up. We’ll just have to see what happens. My hand works, although it’s still sore. It would be nice if I could just rest it, except for flexing my fingers as requested, but I need that hand to help transfer to and from my scooter. At least I can type (if you still call it that) better without the bulky cast on my hand.

Aside from cooking a couple of times, I mainly lazed around in my recliner, surrounded by charger cables for…well, everything. Have you noticed that everything now comes with a charger instead of batteries you can change? My cell phone, my continuous glucose monitor, my e-reader, my new pump…

Yes, my new pump. It’s a t:slim from Tandem Diabetes Care, and it’s way cool. I got it the Tuesday before my Friday surgery and was trained on it via Skype on Wednesday evening. Got it in the nick of time, too — my old pump, more than five years old, basically fell apart a couple of days after I changed over! I’d been carefully nursing it along for a couple of weeks before I finally got my t:slim.

This one looks like a smart phone and has a color touch screen. One of my favorite things is that, instead of scrolling up to your insulin dosage, you tap in your dosage (or, in my case, the amount of carbohydrates you’re about to consume) on a key pad. It’s a lot faster.

Another favorite is that the screens walk you through the directions on how to do things, like change the cartridge. Usually, I have to consult the manual for a couple of weeks or so when I first change to a new pump. Now all I have to do is read the screen and follow the instructions.

What’s annoying is that the cartridge that holds the insulin isn’t see-through. After I read some posts on the insulin-pumpers mail list about the t:slim “dead zone,” I sucked out about 30 units of insulin after the pump said it was empty.

Thirty units! Ouch! As an insulin-resistant Type 2, my basal rate alone runs about 150 units per day! Thirty units is a lot to lose out of a 300-unit cartridge every day and a half — which is about how often 300 units last me after my basal, bolus, and correction dosages.

Anybody out there like to commit math? How much would that cost if I threw that much insulin away every time I filled ’er up? Maybe I’ll have to exercise my brain a bit this week. “They” say you’re supposed to exercise. It’s good for elderly people to exercise their brains, too.

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