Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Everyday Superhero

Okay, so last week's post concerning books about superheroes didn't turn up much. I'll take that as a sign that either you, my readers, have very little taste in books...or else I'm just a geek.

So, I figured I'd talk about another kind of superhero, which Sarah mentioned. The everyday superhero. The persons in your life who keep you from harm, or inspire you, or rescue you when you're in trouble. They can lift you up when you're down, or draw out a smile from a frown.

The most obvious people who fit this description are your parents. And for those who are parents, themselves, it means that you, too, can be a superhero. Siblings and friends fall under this banner, as do some strangers.

Like, the time my oldest son was admitted to the hospital due to imminent asthma-related respiratory failure. We encountered several superheroes that day, starting with his doctor, who sent him over to the hospital to begin with. My son had to be transferred to a pediatric ICU in another hospital, where he spend the next few days. Anyone with children will tell you how hard it is to leave your child there in the hospital. We had other children who needed us, and so my wife and I tag-teamed. But there was this nurse who stepped in at one point, allowing us a break. She was amazing, and my son fell in love with her...as did we. She rose above the call of duty during that time, and became not only a superhero to our son, but to us, his parents.

Superheroes are everywhere, sometimes doing such seemingly insignificant things, but meaning the world to the other person.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Where Are All the Superheroes?

Superheroes seem to be big business these days. Movie blockbusters, such as the recently released Ghostrider, or X-Men, Spiderman, and Superman Returns, bring in huge amounts of money. We have the NBC show Heroes as well.

I'll admit I've always been a fan of all-things super. From the time I was six years-old, I've been living in the fantasy world of superheroes. There is something appealing with the idea of being able to do something that no one else can, to experience flying or creating fireballs out of thin air or any other myriad of powers superheroes have these days.

But one thing I never got into was the comic book. Superheroism was either something within my own imagination, or fulfilled on the big screen. To this day, I'm not much into comic books. And so I was thinking recently about how there seem to be so few books out that involve superheroes. I mean real books (oh, don't bug me about comic books being "real"...you know what I mean...books that aren't graphic in nature, but rely exclusively on the written word).

My book, Mindburst, would certainly fall under that category. I'd certainly define it as being part of the superhero genre. Except that there are no pictures. Same with my recently published story, The Dreammaker, and another story I'm shopping around at the moment.

But I wonder why that is. I want to read about superheroes, not just write about them. I've stumbled across a few. The Charlie Bone series is somewhat superheroish in nature. And Midnighters, by Scott Westerfeld. (Granted, I haven't yet had the pleasure to read that one, but I've read other Westerfeld books and loved them, so look forward to experiencing Midnighters.)

I don't want to read a superhero novelization of a movie. I want to read original superhero books. So, tell me. Do you know of any? I'd really like to know. But if reading the story involves pictures, don't bother.

Note: I have absolutely nothing against the graphic novel or comic book. Nothing whatsoever. I have great respect for the graphic artists and authors who conceive of these kinds of stories. Marvel and DC Comics have both offered me plenty of pleasing stories ultimately made into movies. But I'm just not a comic-book-reading kind of guy, is all!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Super Mom Returns

So, have you heard of this Melanie Lynne Hauser person?

See, she claims to know a thing or two about Super Mom, the maternal superhero that starred in her first novel a while back called Confessions of Super Mom. I read the book, fell in love with the book, and have waited patiently for the sequel. (I even blogged about it. Just check the archives. I'm sure it's still there somewhere.)

But anyhow, back to Melanie. See, she has this blog, and sometimes she refers to herself as Super Mom. But I'm here to tell you that it just isn't so. It can't be, because I'm absolutely certain that I live with and sleep with Super Mom. My wife. No other explanation for all she accomplishes in a day.

Well, I guess I'll cut Melanie some slack, because coming very very soon to a bookstore near you is the long-awaited sequel, Super Mom Saves the World!

Now, don't delay here. If you haven't read the first book, you have just about enough time to get your hands on a copy and read it before the sequel comes out. And if you really need more convincing, go visit author Melanie's website, where you can read an excerpt.

Well, go on. What are you waiting for? Reading my blog? No, no. There is nothing to see here interesting. Really. Super Mom is where it's at!

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Practical Wish List For Diabetics

You know, living with diabetes can, I suppose, be a pain at times. Literally. Every one of us with the disease would love to wake some morning, open the morning paper (okay, well, I'm dating myself there...click on the morning news website) and find the headline that reads:


So far, it hasn't happened.

But I was thinking about all the little things that could make life easier for the diabetic. Things that are seemingly incidental. They aren't major advancements in diabetic care. So here are just a few things I wish were improved.

1. Infusion sets

I'm a pumper, using the QuickSets from Minimed. A couple years ago, Minimed tried to improve upon the QuickSet. I actually liked the improvements...but there were tape issues, and ultimately Minimed went back to the old standby. But one thing that is rather irritating is that you have to change the things so frequently.

So, I'd like to see an infusion set that could safely be worn for, say, seven days or more before the need to change it. Not a huge deal. Just a few more days before I have to jab myself again. (Inserting that infusion set still hurts about 50% of the time for me.) Of course, a side-benefit to the fewer changes is lower costs. Changing out the infusion today means about a box of ten every month. That same box could last 2 1/2 months otherwise.

2. Cheaper blood testing strips

Nevermind about the real-time BGL monitoring. I would be willing to bet that people test infrequently more due to the cost of strips than out of fear of another poke to the finger. Instead of improving those meters, giving us features we really don't care about any longer now that we have the 5-second test, figure out a way to lower the cost of the strips. Most recently, I paid about $42 for a box of 50. That's close to a dollar per strip.

I know why they are expensive. But honestly, if that same box of 50 cost $10, I would test about 4x as much. Last I checked, four times $10 is $40...so we're stilling close to the same amount. Plus, for those who are struggling financially, it would mean far more affordable care.

3. Insulin that doesn't go bad in the heat

Now that we have insulin analogs that work in 10-15 minutes, lets start focusing on more practical improvements. Like, how about the ability to keep a spare bottle of insulin in the car or in my drawer at work without fear of it going bad? That would be a real advancement in my book. (Actually, this same desire applies to medications in general, even non-diabetic related ones such as the Epi-pen. Do you know how many of my son's Epi-pens we have ruined by leaving them out in the hot or freezing car?)

4. The meter-built-into-a-watch

I'm not talking about anything like that Gluco-Watch thingy from a few years ago. I'm talking about shrinking down that One Touch Ultra meter into the size of a wristwatch. Include in the band a place to keep around enough strips to last the day, and maybe even a tiny built-in poker. I can still place the strip in the slot and poke and apply the sample and all. Just give me a package I can have with me at all times easily without needing to carry around a purse (which looks very strange on a man's shoulder, as you can imagine).

Your turn. What are some of the simpler, smaller things you'd like to see. Not things that would take a huge advancement. Just some practical ingenuity.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Nobody's Perfect, Diabetically Speaking

I'm not perfect.

No, really. I'm not.

I have, in fact, proclaimed my ability to fairly accurately predict the general range of my blood glucose levels as a diabetic, often within about 50 mg/dL. Scott has even gone so far to call this ability my "Spidey-sense". Very flattering, though undeserved.

Why am I coming out, now, with my lack of perfection in this area? Well, because just as I try to be helpful in teaching others how to hone their own Spidey-sense, the truth is no one will ever be perfect at it. In fact, there will be times you are widely off.

Take last night as a fine example. I came home from the store with some cookie dough all ready to eat several delicious chocolate chip cookies. So, after sticking the cookies in the oven, I figured I'd better test. I mean, I knew I wasn't high. Maybe 150, though.


302! D'oh! So, I bolused and waited for my BGL to drop...and then ate my delicious chocolate chip cookies. (Turns out I over-estimated carbs, and ended up low enough to eat an extra chocolate chip cookie about an hour later.)

So, see there? Even Spidey can be wrong.

But this whole experience got me to thinking about something only slightly related. As I was testing, I was thinking about how much each strip costs, and how expensive that can be for those without insurance. I'm sure plenty of folks forego testing as often as they should in order to save money.

So, let me give you a tip that I sometimes do if I don't have the ability to test, but suspect I might be high. Let's presume I had been perfect yesterday, and I had known I was around 300...but couldn't tell for sure. Let's also presume I was out of strips (which happens from time to time). What to do?

Well, I could give a correction for that 300. But if I'm wrong, I risk a serious low. I could do nothing, but that wouldn't be healthy if I was right. The answer is to compromise.

In such a scenario, I will bolus enough to bring down a high slightly, but not enough that should I dip into low territory, it would be dangerous. Start with a unit or two in my case. Then I wait. I wait maybe two hours...enough time for that bolus to do most of its job. (Sure, there is residual insulin, but very little with a two-unit bolus.) If I didn't go low, then I'll give myself an additional bolus of a unit or so. Then wait again.

Rinse and repeat.

Then, once you start to feel yourself going low, you stop bolusing and eat a snack enough to counteract any additional insulin you bolused.

I'll add a caveat that this is only a good idea for those who are sensitive to their lows. Not a good idea for those who experience hypo-unawareness.

Anyhow, that's my technique for today. Sure, not a medical-doctor approved method, but we live in a real world with real medical costs and real situations where you might not have test strips available. It works for me, and that's all I'm saying!