Category Archives: for type 1 and 2 diabetics

Note to Self: Try New Things

We moved recently and bought a small house on a small triangular shaped property with dozens of trees on it.  Most of the trees are pines and other evergreens, which are my favorite.  The unique shape of the property captivated us and we’ve been dreaming up cool garden ideas.  Even before we moved we saw a lot of work in the yard.  There are several different types of vines growing wild, choking off trees, and beginning to threaten others.  While envisioning the future, I imagined myself making Alex a sandwich while he worked hard to clear the vines and clean up the yard. 

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That’s part of the back yard, a wild and wonderful mess.

Once we moved in I realized that Alex was at work from sun-up to sun-down and the clearing of the property needed to be done and waiting until warm weather would mean watching out for snakes and dealing with pests (and I’m not confident in my ability to do either).  I thought to myself, “I’m going to absolutely hate this, I’m not the gardening type”.  But I went out there and starting pulling up vines, some half an inch thick, others thin and twirled around tree limbs and branches.  They have formed a massive thicket and run up and down many of our trees.  I used to think this look was desperately charming but I started to look up the vines to identify them.  One in particular is a terrible invasive type which takes down trees (oh no, the house!) and covers up plants (how rude!).  It grows really fast and we just so happen to have it all over the property.  I worked for 4 hours one day only to clear about a puny three ft radius of land.  Then I went inside, washed my dirt covered hands and that’s when it hit me.  This was the most fun I’d had in a really long time.  I felt so healthy!  My allergies weren’t acting up because it was late fall.  I felt peaceful and energetic.  All from pulling up vines, uncovering trees and plants, and finding artifacts left behind in the ground such as Twizzler wrappers and lots of old socks (I have questions for the man that used to live here). 

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Doesn’t look like much, but these mounds are massive in person and reflect only a tiny amount of cleared land.

Since then I’ve spent several more afternoons doing the same, enjoying myself so much I only stop when it’s too dark to see and my kids remind me it’s time to do my motherly job and feed them (think of all I’ll be able to accomplish when they can feed themselves!)  Each time I feel a sense of euphoria.  I did recently pull or rip a pelvic floor muscle doing this which makes sense considering I jumped into a new physical activity without any caution and without working myself up to the task.  But, I’m healing and learning not to over strain.  And I’m still loving it.  And I’ve become a nerd to my husband who just shakes his head back and forth as I call myself the “tree whisperer”.  I struggle a lot of with anxiety and depression, something I’ve blogged much about, and this activity is like strong medication for me.  I don’t quite know what it is.  Maybe it’s being out in this time of year with the smell of pine,  the crisp fresh air, birds, squirrels, and deer all around, and no pollen to make me sneeze.  All I know is I’m just going to keep it up.  It’s built in exercise, too so my blood sugars love it.

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See how much there is?  I can’t even find my husband when he’s out there.

I was so sure I would hate doing something I turned out to totally love doing!  So, this is a serious note to self: try new things!  Who knows where it will lead.  And if you have any tips for dealing with invasive vines, I’m all ears.

What Diabetes Technology Can’t Replace

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If successful diabetes management is based upon a multitude of decisions we make during the day, why is technology often regarded as the number one asset in our diabetes management arsenal?

It can’t possibly be.  Take some important daily decisions that all impact diabetes:

-what to eat

-when to eat

-how much to eat

-how much insulin to give

-when to give insulin

-when to exercise

-what type of exercise to do

-how much to exercise

-when to test blood sugar

-how often to test blood sugar

And on and on!

Now basic technology like a meter is huge.  But, only if we choose to use it.  And a pump, for many of us, makes it easier to eat and deliver insulin as needed and to do a wide variety of exercises, as long as we choose to use it properly.  A CGM gives us information about trends and helps us catch highs and lows before they get too high or low.  Not to mention it can help save our lives by alerting us to dramatic blood sugar levels. 

So technology is awesome!

That’s indisputable.

It would seem that those using all of this technology would always have better diabetes management than those who only use a meter and syringes, right?  And yet, in my personal experience, I’ve met many people who use a meter and syringes and do very well and people who use all the technology available and don’t do very well. 

There are other important variables that always need to be considered.  So when a person is struggling with their diabetes management, often times more questions need to be asked than what is often asked.  Most likely, a person who can do well with a pump, can do well without one.  And CGM’s are most dramatically beneficial to those who can’t feel their lows or have young children with diabetes. 

My cautioning is really about avoiding the conclusion that, “If I had a pump, my diabetes would be controlled” or “I probably just need a CGM to have controlled blood sugars” without considering other factors. This isn’t to say these tools won’t dramatically help one’s management.  There is no guarantee and the decisions a person takes throughout the day is a better indicator of how a person will do with diabetes technology.

So if you’re struggling with your diabetes management, assess the root of your individual struggle.  Some people’s issues are best addressed with technology, but many issues are addressed outside of technology and skipping this facet of diabetes management can prove extremely frustrating and detrimental. 

I know because I’ve been there, done that.  Address your personal needs and let your blood sugars be your guide.  What technology can’t begin to replace is you and your knowledgeable decisions, which require knowledge about your diabetes.  Make sure your bases are covered before relying on gadgets.

How the DOC Helped Me Check Again

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There have been times when I’ve slacked when it comes to how often I check my blood sugars.  Sometimes I get down to 4 times a day and I know that isn’t personally enough-not for my aggressive control of blood sugars.  But, I rarely keep that up for long because being connected to the DOC, or Diabetes Online Community, means constant reminders of how important checking blood sugars is along with encouragement and people to really relate to.

In January I ran out of test strips because I had given half of my last shipment to my brother, who was just recently diagnosed with type 1 and then I ran out of money.  I had to put money into paying rent and bills and focused on just getting by while not feeling pity for myself but instead, feeling happy and grateful that I normally am able to afford all that I need for my diabetes.

I made a comment on Facebook about having run out of strips and was shocked by how many fellow people with diabetes suddenly told me they would send me some extras they had.  Several people knew I didn’t have a certain kind of meter and ended up sending me strips and the meter that corresponded.

It has been so heartwarming.  Strips are a precious commodity for us people with diabetes-and they cost a lot  So to me these acts of kindness are HUGE!

I was getting by decently by eating low carb, skipping meals, and trying to constantly guess my blood sugars.  Thanks to certain members of the DOC, I was able to stop the stressful madness and check again.

I can’t thank you enough,.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I accepted the help on the condition that if these people ever needed anything they’d let me know.  I hope they know I mean that ;)

Just another reason why being part of the DOC is awesome.

The Case for Diabetes Cure Hope

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It takes bravery and guts to hope.  It’s a leap of faith.  There’s a vulnerability in it.  I love those qualities in people so I always encourage myself to feel hopeful about things.  Even if I’d rather put myself in a more protective state and cross my arms, shake my head, and tell myself that hoping is for ignorant suckers.

It’s not.

It’s beautiful and scary and takes patience.  I also believe it sets a very particular vibe that positively touches everyone and everything around it.

This week we heard two news stories come out about diabetes research.  I find them both uplifting because it gives me the feeling that we’re moving in the right direction, that we’re learning more things, and I’m reminded with this news that researchers are working on figuring diabetes out.  All that encourages me.  I’m doing my part by taking care of myself, and they are doing theirs by making strides in research-it’s excellent teamwork.

If I put myself in the frame of mind of a person whose child has type 1 diabetes, and I can’t feel what they feel, only I try to imagine more or less- I admit I feel an overwhelming sense of urgency and desperation.  I have a child that’s very allergic to some common foods and I see that as much easier to handle than a child with type 1 diabetes.  And even with my situation I feel desperation.  I’m anxiously awaiting relief of my way of life which includes more fear, home cooking, and limitations for my daughter and our entire family than we’d otherwise have.  I’m working on this.  I’m constantly trying to keep fear in check, to recognize that home cooking is healthier and cheaper anyway, and trying to see that limitations are only what we view them as.  In other words, I don’t live by the ocean and as a result, don’t get to see it often.  But I don’t view that as a limitation, it’s just the way it is.  Well, we don’t eat out due to allergies and it’s just the way it is for us.  The real tragedy in our case would be lack of food or epi-pens in a time of need.  So perspective and gratitude is huge in our day to day happiness.

However, type 1 in children is a complicated beast that puts a child in danger 24/7.  Is there anything else like that for a child outside of other serious conditions and extremely harsh living environments?  What I’m saying is that the seemingly irrational fear of parents of children with type 1 is something that really deserves our understanding, patience, and compassion.  Hope in their hands regarding a cure for type 1 diabetes is a very fragile thing.  And I’m just saying that I recognize that and cannot judge that position.

On the other hand as someone who made it through childhood with type 1, I feel much less fear and desperation for a cure for myself and unchecked I actually feel a tinge of pride and arrogance about how I’ve made it without a cure and all while being told every five years that the cure was right around the corner.  What did that do to me?  At first I felt like a ragdoll in a child’s hands.  Then I allowed it to give me a little bit of a shell.  A rigid, chilly shell.  But over the years I’ve let that go because like I said earlier, it’s a beautiful thing to feel hope.  I prefer being soft, pliable, open, and able to adapt to change.  I hated how at 13 years old, I felt embarrassed to show positive emotions because of how that emotion could turn sour all of a sudden and someone might witness that and I’d publically lose face.  I secretly preferred and longed to get myself back to a time when I would hear happy news, smile and leap for joy and then have my hopes dashed and suddenly pout and sigh from a sense of loss but soon get over it.  Am I saying I’d like to be like a child again?  Kind of yeah.  I watch my toddlers and am constantly amazed at their range of emotions in such a short time span.  They feel what they feel when they feel it.  Then they let it out, let it go, and move on.  It’s healthy and sweet and vulnerable and I admire and cherish this about them.  I also can’t help but notice that most children do this and it’s partly what allows them to generally learn so quickly, be so happy, and forgive so easily.

So for those of you with a bit of snark about the news that seems blown out of proportion or who feel that you’ve lost all hope and trust because of past promises about a cure, I understand that, too.  But, I wish for you to let go some of the pain from the past because well…it seems like a miserable weight to carry around.  Hope is light and energetic and doubt and sarcasm seem like the opposite.

No matter what, those of us with diabetes have it right now and that means we have to deal with it.  It begs to be managed and so our best bet is to live in the moment with it.  Not easy, I know, but what’s the alternative?  After all, nothing about having hope means ignoring reality-that would be more accurately described as delusion or assumption or arrogance.

But allowing hope to help us through our reality, well that’s it’s greatest purpose isn’t it?

Feb 2013 Test Results and Why It’s Good to Get the Details

I haven’t posted an A1c in a while.  Let’s face it I haven’t posted anything in a while but in that time frame I’ve received emails like, “So, you’re A1c is suddenly not good enough to share?!”  No…I just haven’t made it to the endo, lately.  Sometimes that low $30 co-pay IS a deterrent.  That and fear of course.  So I finally did go and here are the results.  My A1c is 5.9, the highest it’s been in the past 6-7 years.  I drank regular coffee before my appointment to see if I could bump up my blood pressure since lately it’s been in normal range as long as I exercise regularly and avoid caffeine and sure enough, I was 130/80.  I got it tested again a few days later while having had no caffeine and I was 110/71.  WOW, is all I have to say.  And no more regular coffee for me, ever!

About my A1c, in order to be fair and transparent, it sounds fantastic but, it’s a reflection of more swings in blood sugar than my last A1c which was 5.7 so I really have more work to do- even though it wouldn’t appear that way.  And that’s the point with my sharing my A1c and the other tests along with that.  Because if you’ll notice below where I post pictures of my results, I have an MCHC test in high range and in my case it means Vit B 12 and Folic acid deficiencies (having ruled out liver disease as a possibility).  This winter was tough financially so we didn’t purchase many foods high in those vitamins and when we did I left my portion to my kids since they are at a more crucial state of development.  I eat a lot of vegetables but meat and seafood sure seem to boost vitamin B 12 levels more than anything else.  So I will try to include more of those foods now for sure.  That and get all of us on a multi-vitamin.  The other thing I want to mention is that it seems that having a deficiency in B12 and Folic Acid affects red blood cell life (from what I read).  Our A1c test reflects our blood sugars over the past 2-3 months because that’s how long those cells live before they are replaced with new ones.  If mine are dying more quickly my A1c would reflect a period of time less than 2-3 months.  So there is that.  Though I’m not sure about how all that works.

By the way, I found this out by asking my doctor’s office for my detailed results as you see below.  Otherwise they send me a sheet of paper stating what my A1c is and letting me know that everything else is “normal”.  When I got my paperwork this time around I asked for all the exact test result data and found out those vitamin deficiencies (good to know so I can actually do something about it) and I found out a high bilirubin count which in my case (due to unshared personal data) seems like a genetic thing and leads me to attempt some liver detox to see if that helps (like juicing beets).  It doesn’t seem to be anything serious except it possibly causes chronic fatigue and mild jaundice and that’s no fun.

So anyway, here are the results.  I just want to point out that at some point my triglycerides, cholesterol, and thyroid levels were all abnormal and now they’re not.  Not always, but often, these things can absolutely be helped with changes in lifestyle habits.  Worked for me and it’s something I keep putting effort into.

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A Day in the Life of a Type 2 Diabetic

I wrote a post a while back called Which Diabetes is Worse?  I had a thoughtful response from a type 2 diabetic, Christine, who felt strongly about how both type 1 and type 2 diabetics have it rough.  I don’t know what it’s like to have type 2 diabetes so I asked her to write from her perspective.  I really appreciate Christine doing this because it’s always important to be reminded how all of us are dealing with challenges unique to our own journey in life.  Here’s what it’s like for this type 2:

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Christine and her family

A while ago, Sysy invited me to do a guess post on the “The Day in the Life of a Type 2 Diabetic.”  I don’t know what it is like to be T1, so I can’t really say what is different, except for maybe dreams and goals.  From everything I have heard, when you are a Type 1, you became such at a pretty young age, Pre-teen even.  I could be wrong, but this is before a person has full expectations of their life and what it would be like.  When I was a teen-ager, I may have known what I wanted to be, but I was still planning and letting my life unfold.

I became diabetic at 25.  I already had a life and thought I knew how it was going to be.  I was living that life.  I was married and had a toddler.  I was finishing my degree and knew where I was going.  I had a solid plan and saw no turns in the road.  I wanted 6 children.  I was going to be an active stay-at-home mom, who did all kinds of fun projects.  I was a contributing member of society and actively participated at my church.  I was a “yes” girl.  I thought I could do anything if I put my mind to it.  As a person I had fully developed my habits and tendencies.  I was a creative person who didn’t plan well and lived in the moment.  I did what I wanted, when I wanted, to.

So, when my life changed at diagnosis, I had to do more then develop new habits and routines, I had to change who I was, who I had become over those special years.  It wasn’t even until today in fact that I realized, that I had to rewrite an entirely new life for my self.  All my dreams and goals, had to be revised.  Everything I expected and planned for had to change.

It is hard to change who you are when you are already done with the preparatory years. It’s scary.  Who am I now?  What can I do?  How will my life be? Some answers are clean cut.  The dream of 6 children is not going to work out.  But can I still be that mother I worked so hard to become?  Some days I am so tired, it feels impossible.  I am 29 now and I am still trying to figure myself out, with this new life.  I have to change me, I have to become consistent in my routine.  This feels boring and against my nature.  I feel like I am still on the turn in the road, unable to see the road ahead of me, hoping the road continues.  It is exhausting and I feel deflated and defeated a lot of the time.

That is what it is like to be Type 2, at-least when you are a young T2.  I feel physically and emotionally tired and anxious all the time and I can remember what it is like to be healthy, which almost seems like a curse instead of a blessing.  In some ways it’s like being a teen-ager with an adult life, because I have to find myself all over again. On the other hand, I did have that time where I got to live my life without this weight over me and that is a blessing.  I had a typically teenage experience and didn’t receive my trials until I was older.  So, that I can be thankful for.

What is the same?  I don’t think anything is the same for anyone?  We all have struggles.  One might be great at maintaining their blood sugars where another is not.  While one might be afraid of needles and the other had no problem with it.  Some might be good at keeping a routine and some might be good at keeping an optimistic point of view.  We all have out own personal trials with this disease.  No one has it worse or better, it is just different for each of us.  It may feel lonely and isolating at times, because people don’t see “the sweetness within,” and how it can affect a person, but we T1 or T2 diabetics, we know and we can support each other.

Thanks for opening up with us Christine!  Comments and discussion encouraged everyone!

If it Works for Oprah…

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“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
~ Epicurus

Not everyone likes Oprah but most of us agree that she has worked herself to where she is versus being handed everything.  My mom saved an article for me where she talks about gratitude.  I was amazed to read what Oprah considers the most life changing thing she has done.  For many years she has kept a journal and each morning she has written down 5 things she is grateful for.  It forces a person into a habit of looking at what they do have versus what they don’t.  She goes on to talk about gratitude and the unique power it can have on our lives.

I’ve read in many places that gratitude is the single most transformative thing we can use in life.  It begs positivity, streamlines focus away from feelings of inadequacy, and brings with it a healthy rush of feelings to the body that support positive decisions.

I believe that those of us with diabetes who practice gratitude on a consistent basis really benefit.  Not only does having a chronic illness usually cause us to be more aware and sensitive towards the plights of others but couple that with gratitude and you have an amazing potential for a life filled with meaning and depth beyond many people’s reach.

So while I’m not grateful for having diabetes, I am grateful for what I’ve learned and who I am because of it.  And when my blood sugar is 102 and I feel perfectly healthy, I feel like I’m in heaven while others don’t even recognize the beauty and freedom of feeling great.  I could feel jealous of non diabetics but I choose to feel grateful for the advantage of my perspective.  It makes life better.  But it is a choice and a habit.  I think writing down things we’re grateful for is an excellent idea.  Thanks, Oprah.

2013 New Year’s Resolutions

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“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
~William Jennings Bryan

First off, Happy New Year!  I hope you feel excitement at the anticipation of a new year filled with wonderful possibilities!

New Year’s resolutions are pointless if they don’t include a specific plan and a time fence.  For the third year in a row I’m going to follow Leo Babauta’s 6 Change Method for making some real improvement this year.

January/February resolution:  To successfully do my peer talks in Spanish

You know those people who can speak a foreign language with their native accent in tow and make loads of grammar mistakes and just not care?  Yeah, I’m not one of them.  Having grown up with Spanish speaking parents makes me feel a bit of shame about my not being able to speak like a native.  But, I love hearing people with accents so why do I hate my own gringa accent?  Anyway, I have two presentations I’m going to give people with diabetes in Spanish in January and February and I want to do them well and preferably not sweat buckets while my blood sugars sky rocket.

The plan?  Practice, practice, practice!  Rather than procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate.

I normally write out all my month’s goals but I feel like I don’t know what’s needed until I get there so I will be figuring that out along the way.

Wish me luck!/Deseame suerte!

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  Remember, they don’t have to be carried off in the wind as a memory of what you would have liked to do.  Just make a plan.  Want support?  I coach people with all sorts of things they want to accomplish.  Email me at sysy@thegirlsguidetodiabetes.com to set up a free consultation.

Diabetes Cost Me This Much This Year

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I just did the math on how much money I spent this 2012 for my diabetes.  I included doctor visits and labs and prescriptions and even glucose tablets.

It came out to $1000.  And I’d like to quickly note that if I ate the standard American diet (thus needing more insulin and strips) I’d have spent almost $2000.

Anyway, not bad, right?  Or is it?  I’ve had diabetes so long I don’t even know anymore.

Recalling what others mention spending I think I’m one of the lucky ones.  Still, I know an extra $1000 would have done my family some good.

But mom being healthy does the family tons of good.

I’m really curious, how much did you spend on your diabetes this year?

Free eBook Shares Diabetes Diagnosis Stories

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The online diabetes magazine A Sweet Life has put together two great eBooks you can download for free.  They are each a compilation of inspirational diabetes diagnosis stories but one shares stories from people with type 1 diabetes and the other, type 2 diabetes.

My story is one of the stories in the type 1 diabetes eBook.

It was an honor to share it and I thank A Sweet Life for doing this and offering it to the DOC for free.

If you haven’t checked out A Sweet Life, do so today-it’s full of seriously handy information and a source for excellent opinion articles by a number of people with diabetes.  In fact, I’d say the site is one of the DOC’s best kept secrets.  Check it out and have a great one!

XOXO

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