Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Genteel, My Review


Genteel was kind enough to send me one of their lancers to review. This was especially exciting for me because I have been curious about the Genteel for a while now and have hemmed and hawed many times over buying it. My friend Mary who uses it raved about it and urged me to try it. So what is this Genteel I’m talking about?




The Genteel is a lancing device that was created with the intention to draw a perfect drop of blood with no pain. It has these cool contact tips that draw blood from shallow lance site so the lancet doesn’t reach the pain nerves. It has a vacuum tube that actually helps draw out the blood. It can also be used to test pretty much anywhere on your body… How cool is that? It comes in a variety of colors, and I chose pink to match my meter case.

When my Genteel arrived, I was eager to try it and set it up right away. The process of setting it up was incredibly easy and in a few minutes I was ready to try it out. I also have to note that it comes with adorable stickers to decorate it with. The first time I used it, I was shocked. It was actually pain free. I didn’t even feel it, and it drew the perfect amount of blood for my test strips. I had previously watched multiple videos of kids saying it didn’t hurt at all. I even watched videos of parents testing their children’s blood sugar while they were sleeping, and they didn’t budge. But for some reason, it was so hard for me to believe that it could actually be pain free. I mean, the lancet is still going into your skin! But I tell you, those kids were not lying in their videos! It really is virtually painless, like some sort of magic.

The second day using it, I began to have a problem with it which I learned was a common issue, but easily fixed. I wasn’t getting enough blood for my test strips. I do have to note that my test strips do tend to require more blood than your average test strip. I e-mailed Genteel and asked for advice. They told me to switch to the next contact tip, which is yellow. The lancet penetrates slightly deeper. I was told that choosing your contact tip is finding a balance between comfort and drawing the right amount of blood. I was also told that if I found the yellow contact tip too painful, I should switch back to the blue and try either warming up the area first by rubbing it with my other hand for a couple of seconds, or I could try doing a slight pumping motion while the vacuum was activated. Those tips worked perfectly for me! Especially doing the pumping motion. I have finally settled on the yellow contact tip, which I don’t find painful.  I also have to note that the customer care at Genteel was very impressive.


One of the biggest appeals of the Genteel to me was the idea of giving my fingers a break. My poor finger. I had the tendency to test on one single finger all the time, and it was in pretty bad shape. The idea of being able to test in other places was such a cool concept to me. I have been using my palm, and my finger has gotten a well-deserved break and is beginning to heal! 




When I was hemming and hawing over whether or not to get the Genteel, part of it was because you have to hold it in place for 4-8 seconds, and I thought that time was too long for me. I’m a generally impatient person, and I didn’t like that idea, even though I thought it was great for kids. But a good point was brought up to me. When I test with my usual lancer, I poke again and again and it definitely takes 4-8 seconds or LONGER to squeeze the blood out. So really, it takes the same amount of time! I realize now it was a silly worry of mine, because I don’t find I have to use any patience while using my Genteel.

All in all, I’m very happy with my Genteel and I think it’ll be a long time before I use a regular lancer again. I highly recommend it to anyone who has trouble with the pain of testing or with worn out fingertips.

Use my discount code 'Big15' to get 15$ off at checkout :)


Saturday, September 17, 2016

My Self-Esteem Battle and Learning to Love Yourself


I hated myself. Plain and simple. I really did hate myself. There were many things I hated, but a large portion of those things were related to my body. And I’m not talking about the malfunctioning of it. I’m talking about the outside.

Over my years of being mostly stuck in the house and immobile, I gained weight. That combined with my thyroid put me at the highest weight I’d been at in my entire life. My self-esteem was awful to start off, so after gaining the weight, it was a wreck. I felt so awful about myself and felt like everyone could see every pinch of fat on my body. My doctor told me I should lose a little weight. A very close family member told me I wasn’t my ideal weight, and it was so painful. Because I spent every moment of every day working hard at trying to accept myself and my body and feel decent. And it was hard work. I really worked hard to love my body as it was, even if my BMI classified me as overweight and I felt there was nothing I could do about it.

Because of a medication I started, my appetite was diminished and my stomach issues were slightly worsened. I lost 15 pounds in the last month. And I finally found my confidence. But something about that feels wrong to me. I wish I could have found it within myself to love my body even with the extra weight, and I almost feel like I failed when I finally gained some confidence only after losing weight.

When I say my self-esteem problem was severe, I mean it. I love clothes and I love shopping. Yet I would go into fitting room after fitting room with a ton of clothes and come out and buy none of them because I felt disgusting in every single thing. This was a problem to the point where I didn’t own enough clothes and wore the same thing over and over again because there were only one or two items of clothing that I didn’t feel horrible in. This problem with my body really did start overtaking my life. I could not stop thinking about it. I was never diagnosed with any type of eating disorder, but I did do the occasional rebellious thing to try and lose weight, yet nothing seemed to work. So deep down I knew that I had to find acceptance. I remember saving a picture on Pinterest saying something along the lines of, “We think cats are cute no matter what size they are so why can’t we think the same about humans?”. I tried to think about that quote when I felt myself obsessing over my weight. But really, to no avail.

So right now I’m in a place where I’m happy with my body on most days. And I wish so badly I could have gotten to that point before having lost the weight. I am grateful that my self-esteem has improved, but I wish I could have achieved that without my physical appearance changing.

Self-love is so important and for many so difficult to achieve. So if you have achieved it, congratulations! That’s an amazing thing and a hard thing to maintain in today’s society, so you’ve done an incredible job. If you have not achieved self-love, keep going for it. Try and see yourself the way someone who loves you sees you. Some people say self-esteem is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. So some people say to fake it until you make it. I didn’t quite get there but I did feel it beginning to work at times. You are perfect the way you are. You are a creature of the earth and you deserve to feel peace just like every other living being on the planet. Do you have a friend that hates themselves, but you think they are the most beautiful thing and you wish they saw themselves the way you see them? If you struggle with self-esteem, you are likely that friend to someone. Please don’t give up on trying to love yourself. I'm not going to give up.


Xo Michelle



Sunday, September 4, 2016

My Temperamental Bladder


 
       Just a little note before we begin; What was meant to be a short post turned into a long story about where I started with my Bladder Sphincter Dyssynergia and where I am today with it. If you don't particularly enjoy reading about catheters and urine, this post may not be for you! (And that's totally okay!)

         Almost exactly a year ago, my bladder issues began. Basically over a two-week period, I started to have trouble peeing. I definitely felt like I wasn’t emptying all the way and when I was able to urinate, it was very weak. It gradually became more of a struggle and eventually I went into complete urinary retention. This led to multiple emergency room catheterizations. I’d get a Foley put in and they’d leave it for 24 hours to give my muscles a rest. When it was removed, things improved, which was great. Unfortunately, that cycle repeated itself a few times.

The first time this happened, I had a pretty bad ER experience. I remember the doctor telling me that young females often think they haven’t gone but really have. I assured him that I hadn’t been able to empty my bladder at all. With a sigh, he said they’d empty me and that I should go home and in the morning I should drink 4 large glasses of water. He said, “If you still can’t go, which I doubt, come back.”. I strongly resent that doctor whose name I don’t remember because the following morning I drank those 4 large glasses of water and of course, that was a bad idea, because I could not go and was ready to explode. So we headed back. After a long wait, this time they put in a foley and kept me overnight… However, for some reason they decided not to call Urology. They called Neurology because of all the other neurological issues I’d been having, and Neurology came and told me they had no idea why my bladder was doing this, and with that, I was discharged.

Two weeks later I ended up in urinary retention again. This time, I had made an appointment with one of my Internal Medicine doctors who was at a different hospital closer to us. After going into his office and telling him what was up, he felt my bladder and brought me straight to the ER to get catheterized again. This time at the ER, they made an appointment for me at a nearby urologist the next day. Thank goodness.

 The next day I met my doctor, and he was great. He told me that I wouldn’t be left like this and we’d figure it out. Such a relief. I was scheduled first for a cystoscopy. It was one of my least favorite tests I’ve had, I have to say, and it was normal. Then came the Urodynamics test... also not fun. However, it gave us answers. My urologist told me I had Bladder Sphincter Dyssynergia, which is a form of neurogenic bladder. It’s basically a condition where the muscles in the urinary tract are uncoordinated due to nerve damage. When you try and urinate, the muscles contract instead of relax and the bladder pressure rises. I was taught to self-catheterize so that I wouldn’t have to run to the ER anymore.

Magically, over the next year things improved. I barely had any problems urinating, and it was great.. until couple of weeks ago I felt the same pattern that had happened the previous year starting.  Last week I had an emergency appointment with my urologist, and I’m glad to have him on my side. He has many patients, but not many young patients, so he always remembers me. I walked in and he welcomed me by saying “Mystery woman!”. Yep, that’s me. Unfortunately there’s not much we can do about my condition flaring up again, but he gave me some self-catheterization tips and ran some lab tests. It’s definitely a struggle to deal with the unpredictability of this and not knowing if or when I’ll start going into full retention again, but I surprisingly feel very positive about things because everything else is going so well. Life ain’t bad, my friends.

Xo Michelle