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October 21, 2016
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The "F" Word

After last week's diatribe on whether or not "diabetic" should fall into the class of "letter-word" and "letter-bomb" euphemisms, I'm stuck (almost literally!) contemplating the "f word". And no, neither Janis Roszler nor Doctor Ruth nor blue pills nor rabbits nor chickens have anything to do with it.

The word is "freezing".

As in "so effing cold that your tears stick to your eyeballs" freezing, which is what most of us here in the Northeast have been dealing with this past week.

Well, okay, it is January and we are north of the Tropic of Cancer, so dealing with the "s word" (snow) is pretty much a given — some years, moreso than others. The issue seems to be that the older I grow, the less able we to deal with its social (needing to plow the streets and shovel the sidewalks) and sartorial (hats, gloves, scarves, and snow boots) ramifications. (Two more lovely "s words".) Snow fell Thursday night, but because of blowing winds and the governor's declared State of Emergency, our parking lot wasn't plowed out until noon on Friday — and the two streets on which our corner house is located were never plowed at all.

It's no help to me that cold weather ushers in its own set of d-complications: neuropathy and poor peripheral circulation foremost amongst them. And because I spend much of the winter months chilled, depressed body temperatures make me feel sleepy and feverish, and my muscles cramp up against the cold, aggravating work-related tendinitis.

The real kicker, however, is our d-equipment. Most of our meters are designed to work between about 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Carrying it in your tight pants pocket (especially if you're female) may overheat the meter and strips, but carrying it in your coat pocket (or worse, your handbag or backpack) will overcool it. Either extreme will shorten their battery lives, but more importantly, might throw the readings off. Between cold and Raynaud's, my fingertips will often read about 20mg/dl lower than my forearm (my usual alternate-site) — if I can even get any blood out — but my forearm is covered with a compression base layer, a long-sleevved shirt, a performance-fabric top, and often a hoodie, making access difficult at best. Add to that uncertainty about the cold-environment performance of the equipment, and it's a trick to determine whether a "low" reading is really low, or if it's just a glitch.

Turns out, I might not be the only one.

acehotspray: Ice hockey + sledding is dangerous and scary! #duckingfiabetes 11:31pm, Jan 04 from Twitter for iPhone

tmana: @acehotspray Ouch! That said, weather wreaks havoc on what my meter SAYS (fingertips unreliable in the cold), & what most d-technology DOES 10:43am, Jan 05 from HootSuite

acehotspray: @tmana thanks. So maybe wasn't really so low? Had to look at it a few times before I believed it. 12:37pm via Twitter for iPhone

tmana: @acehotspray you don't wasn't to mess with lows. Safer to assume the meter was correct and bolus after.

Perhaps amongst the "Strip Safely" posts, we should demand that the DME companies create pumps, meters, CGMs, and supplies that work in winter (and summer) as well as in-between...

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