When you find out that your furbaby has diabetes, it’s scary, surreal and overwhelming. Then you discover a place where there are other people that have been through the same thing you are going through. They understand how you feel. It’s a relief to know you’re not alone. But there is so much to learn. So much information to absorb, so many “rules” to follow. Through all of this, life goes on – you still have to go to work. You still have to make dinner and wash your clothes and clean your house. How on earth do you do it? One day at a time. So you found FDMB and you set up your spreadsheet and you posted a thread (we call it a condo) and people are helping you figure out this crazy dance your kitty is doing. But you still aren’t sure if you are doing the right thing, making the right choices. It’s okay. We were all new once. We haven’t forgotten how it felt. We want to help you, but in order for us to do that, you have to help us, too. There is a wonderful post that is featured in the “New to the Group?” sticky. It’s called “Making the Most of Your Lantus & Levemir ISG Experience”. Have you read it? More than once? Probably not. There’s a lot of info there, just as there is in most of the stickies on this Board. The information in this particular post is mostly of the housekeeping variety – how to set up your spreadsheet, what the heck does that word mean (check out the Slang dictionary)? and that sort of thing. Doesn’t seem that important, but this is information you need to have and use on a daily basis. If you follow the guidance in the “Making the Most…” post, you will find it much easier to negotiate the Board and to get help when you need it. (Here's a tip: when you see something in a post that is in blue lettering, that is a hotlink. You can click on it to be taken to the page to which it refers) Another great post you might want to read, written by someone who was fairly new here, is “A New Member’s Advice to Other New Members”. This person caught on pretty fast and has some great words of wisdom to share. She covered some of the things I’m going to touch on here, too. Here are some hints to expand on what is in the “How to Make the Most…” and “A New Member’s Advice” posts: Maintenance Keep your spreadsheet up to date. If you enter your readings right after you get them, every time, it will become a habit and be effortless. Don’t wait until you need help to update your SS. Members that are trying to help you need to see what has led up to the current situation. Keep good notes in the Comments section of your Spreadsheet. If Fluffy went low one day and you gave him some 9% to bring him up, note that. Enter what worked and what didn’t. You might need to know later. Also please clearly note on your spreadsheet when something major happens that might affect the BGs – a switch to low carb food, the addition of a steroid, a change of meter or insulin type, etc. Don't Get Caught Short. Fifty test strips seems like a lot, but anyone that's ever been through a PJ party with their cat can tell you they go really fast. Try to always have an extra box (or two) on hand. Many members keep one or two boxes with the rest of their hypo supplies and switch them out periodically to keep them fresh. Some of us routinely keep 100-200 strips in reserve. You will use them. Speaking of a hypo kit, it's a good idea to have several cans of HC and MC food, clearly labeled, stored separately from your LC food. A container of Karo or honey should also be on your list. The phone number and address of the nearest 24 hour vet is another good addition. Do I Shoot or Not? Sometimes you get a PS number that is lower than you are used to, and you don’t know if you should shoot or not. What do you do? Ask for help, right? But do you know the best way to do that? If you are following SLGS: Refer to the section of the SLGS sticky regarding shooting lower pre-shots. If you have the data to be comfortable stalling, according to the guidelines in the sticky, see below. If you are following TR: First: Unless Kitty is under 50 (using a human meter – 68 if Alpha Trak), DON’T FEED the CAT! I don’t care how pathetic he/she looks or sounds. Fluffy will not starve. You may be asked to test again. In order for you to get an accurate reading, you need to have a test, or possibly two, with no food influence. (While we’re on the subject, it’s always a good idea to retest immediately any time you get a reading that surprises you, high or low. Sometimes you get a wonky strip or not enough/too much blood. Verify that number before you panic.) Next: Please DO NOT start a new condo. One per member per day, please! Change the subject line of your current condo to let people know you need help NOW (To do so, go to Thread Tools in the upper right corner of your first post). Do not simply say “dose advice”. That does not indicate that there is any urgency to your request. A good example of an eye-catching subject line is: “2/16 Fluffly. PMPS 95. Lowest PS So Far. STALLING. Shoot or Not?" Or: “2/16 Fluffy Low Numbers, Help Needed NOW” (you get the idea). That will get attention. You can also add the ? icon by clicking on (No prefix) in the dropdown box in the subject line. Please do NOT use the 911 icon for this situation. The 911 is only to be used if you have a genuine medical emergency (e.g., a hypo, unusually low or sustained low numbers, etc.). Members will rush to help when they see a 911 because they fear a kitty’s life is in danger. Then: This is very important. Go to the bottom of your condo and post a new reply. Do not simply alter the original post in the thread. When someone is responding to your cry for help, they will go to the most recent post on the thread. They don’t have time to start at the top and read down. Changing your subject line alone does NOT bump your condo up to the top of the thread. You MUST add a new reply. In this new reply, explain what is going on: “Tested Fluffy at PMPS and got 95. Lowest pre-shot so far. Do I shoot or not? Have not fed yet. He’s chewing on my leg. Please advise.” It’s not a good idea to just tag specific people that have helped you before, unless you know for sure they are on the Board at that time. If you tag someone you think is online, they might have gone out to dinner and forgotten to log off, so you won’t get a reply when you need it. Also, sometimes there is a glitch in the system and we don’t get notified when we are tagged – maybe the user name didn’t get entered correctly, etc. Keep in mind that we’re all volunteers here, and we have lives away from the Board, so unbeknownst to you, the person that helped you with an issue last night might be off visiting family or at a doctor appointment today when you need help. Cast a wider net. Help Yourself While you’re waiting for the cavalry to arrive, go back through your previous posts and look at any other times when Fluffy was low. What did you do? How did it help or not? What guidance were you given? Does that guidance apply to the current situation? Did someone give you a link? If so, did you click on it and read it? Did you bookmark it on your desktop or device for future reference? When we share other posts and links with you that pertain to your situation, we are giving you the tools to handle these issues on your own. There may be a time when no one responds to your request for help. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes there is a perfect storm where one veteran is off on vacation, another’s internet is out, still another had to work late, etc. There are also times of the day, and days of the year when there aren’t a lot of people online. Speaking of storms, what would you do if your computer went down and/or the power was off, or the Board went down (it does happen occasionally)? If you have the ability to do so, it’s a good idea to print out some of the important stickies and posts and keep them in a binder or folder where you can easily find them. You might want to print out the TR or SLGS sticky, as well as the one on handling low numbers (written for TR users, but many points apply to both methods), and any posts that you find especially helpful. Take the tools you are given and load yourself up a “toolbox” that you can dig into when you need it. Empower yourself. When help does arrive, respond promptly to the reply. Answer the questions and pay attention to what the person is saying. If it is suggested that you do something and you don’t understand what is meant, ask for clarification. If you do follow the suggestion, report back afterwards. Help us help you. If the person that comes to help you suggests that you shoot, and you choose to do so, please follow the recommendations for when to test, and keep your condo updated on what’s going on. Please don’t just take the advice and disappear. If it’s late at night and you might doze off, please set an alarm for the next test. When we suggest that you go ahead and shoot, we make a commitment to stay available to you until Fluffy is safe and you can stop monitoring. Please don’t leave us hanging. At one time or another, we’ve all sat up for hours waiting for a response from a member that never came, worried that something awful had happened to that cat we were trying to help. I Asked a Question and No One Answered Me. Are you sure? Did you go back to the post where you asked the question and make sure there were no responses? Sometimes the answer comes hours after you’ve logged off. Our system is good, but it’s not perfect, and sometimes you don’t get the notification that someone responded to you. Please go back and make sure you didn’t get an answer before you ask again. If you really didn’t get an answer, maybe the problem is that your question wasn’t clear. Try rewording it. Did you indicate in your subject line that you had a question? Again when you put a question in your subject line, be sure to post a reply to your condo with more details, so that your condo gets bumped up and those responding understand what you are looking for. Where Are We Now? Please try to keep your subject line updated with the most current info. Many of us that try to help others don't have time to read every condo every day, so we scan down the page to see who has a question or whose kitty is running low, etc. If you just add a reply that kitty is at 49 and not coming up, but don’t ask for help or put the numbers in your subject line, we won’t know something is going on and won’t open the condo to see if you need help. Conversely, if you ask a question and get some answers, go ahead and remove the ? icon and/or the question from your subject line. Also, on the topic of your subject line, please try to include the standard info: date, Kitty’s name, and whatever BG readings are relevant. Although we have members all over the world, please report your BG readings in mg/dl, as that’s the format the majority here use and can quickly understand. Fluffy’s History at a Glance Your signature block should be your kitty’s mini-biography. There are certain pieces of information that help us determine how to answer your questions. If you post the pertinent info in your signature block, everyone that reads your condo will know the answers to our most basic questions and you won’t have to answer, for the millionth time… Who are you? A screenname is fine, if that makes you more comfortable, but we need to know what to call you, and if it isn’t obvious, what your gender is. We don’t want to offend Alexandra, who goes by Alex, by calling her a him. Where do you live? Again, you can be as vague as you like, but it really helps us to know what time zone you are in, at least. Also, knowing what country you live in can help us know what supplies are or are not available to you. What is kitty’s name? If it isn’t in your username, please identify Fluffy by name and gender. We don’t want him or her to feel he or she isn’t the star of this show. How old is Kitty? Most FD kitties are “geriatric” cats – 9 years of age or older, but it’s good for us to know the approximate age of the cat you’re dealing with. When was Kitty diagnosed? If it’s been more than a year since diagnosis, the reduction point (if using TR) is different than if it’s been less. What meter are you using? It is especially important that we know if you are using a pet meter. The number ranges are somewhat different for an Alpha Trak than for a human meter. Which insulin are you using? This Board is for users of both Lantus and Levemir, and the cycles of each of these two insulins generally look different, so it helps to know which we’re looking at. Which method are you following? Knowing at a glance whether you’re doing TR or SLGS can really facilitate giving you the proper guidance. What other conditions/ illnesses does Kitty have? Any other medications? Knowing that Fluffy is on a steroid like Pred, for example, or also has CKD can help another member give you informed guidance. What are you feeding? If there is dry food in the picture, it’s important for a helper to be aware. If Fluffy is getting raw only or on a unique protein diet, that could change what we recommend you to do when dealing with low numbers. Does Kitty have any history of ketones or DKA? How we suggest you handle a low number could be different if the answer to this one is yes. Please update your signature block when any of this changes – meds added or removed, dry food removed, etc. The more we know, the better we can help you. Be Part of the Community We all have busy lives outside of FD, but when you have time, it really can help to build a little bit of a relationship with other members. The support and encouragement we give each other really drives this Board and keeps us all going when the times get rough. Reading other members' condos not only helps you get to know the rest of your L&L Land family, it can help you see how they handled different situations. Please keep in mind that ECID (Every Cat Is Different), and suggestions given to one member might not be appropriate for your situation. Where Did I See That? There is a really great post that @julie&punkin(GA) usually shares with new members, called “Where Can I Find ____” It has a multitude of links to helpful stickies and posts. It is a good idea to bookmark it or save it as a “watched thread” and refer to it often. This has saved many members a lot of time searching through posts for something that was read previously but can’t be located now. When you look at the “Where Can I Find ____” post, be sure to click on the links at the top of the page and read them. If you ever have a question about the importance of testing your cat, these will answer it once and for all. Feel free to print one or both out and show them to anyone, including your vet, that questions why you are testing so much. How do I Tag Someone? Start typing that person’s user name - as in @Tricia Cinco(GA) & Harvey – and you should see a drop down list of names that match. Click on the one you want and it should complete the name and tag that person. Because this sometimes hits a snag, after you “send” your post, go back and look at it and be sure that tag is in blue. If it’s black, like the rest of the text, something went wrong and that person will not get the tag. If you tag several people for some reason, try putting the word “and” between the user names, or putting them on separate lines. Some have found that just entering them one after another tends to only send a notification to the first person on the list. One Last Reminder This is a peer reviewed board. That means that anything someone tells you to do is a suggestion based on his or her knowledge and experience, whatever that might be. It also means you may get different members giving you seemingly conflicting suggestions. You hold the syringe. You must make the ultimate decisions. We are not vets, and although there may be a few members with vet tech experience, and some with other medical backgrounds, we are really all just civilian volunteers with a lot of heart. We are here when we have time, but we all have other responsibilities, just like you do. We can’t guarantee someone will always be here to help, although we do our best. Keep a good relationship with your vet, because he or she has a level of education and knowledge in many areas that we can’t pretend to match. We are always happy to help and, hopefully, this additional information will allow us to make your experience here the best that it can be.