Category Archives: Diabetes and Blogging

Why There is Nothing Wrong With Sharing Your A1c

Why do some people with diabetes share their A1c? Why do some not share that info? For various reasons, of course. I support people doing what they feel is right to do for themselves. If you don’t want to share your A1c or weight or the square footage of your home, I respect that.

Why do I share my A1c? Because I used to think that normal or near-normal blood sugars were not something I would ever get to enjoy as a type 1 diabetic…until I heard that some people like me had A1c levels in the 4-5% range and I thought, “wait a minute? this is possible? It couldn’t be…how do they do it?”

Their A1c level was like a signal for me. It led me to seek out these people and what they were doing to get that A1c. It led me to figure out what might help me improve my blood sugars. Along the way, I had to learn how to avoid lows and what technology best served me and how insulin works. But, I eventually became one of those people with a “normal A1c” and darned straight I’m going to tell people about it because others once did me a huge favor by telling me!

That said, I don’t care if no one cares about my A1c. What matters to me is why I share. I think it might be helpful to someone and I’m willing to spend time sharing on that hope.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing your A1c because it doesn’t hurt anyone to do so. Some say it does hurt some people’s feelings but so does announcing a pregnancy, engagement, or job raise.

Those who insist on speaking for others need to think twice–are you sure they want you to speak for them? Those whose feelings are hurt who notice that others are doing just fine with the same information may want to look inward and consider that shame or jealousy may need to be addressed. I say that because someone gave me that line and I found that focusing on my personal issues was a life saver. Who cares if someone shares their health data? Not me.

When Diabetes News Overwhelms You

I write about 6 articles a week for Diabetes Daily.

Most of what I do is share information regarding diabetes news and a great deal of that is comprised of studies that effectively help us learn more about the effects of diabetes on our bodies.

If it depresses or overwhelms you to read this types of news, believe me, I completely understand. I felt sick for the first few months of doing this kind of writing because every piece of what seemed like bad news gave me a strong negative physical reaction. I quickly realized I needed to do two things: compartmentalize and use actions to attack my fears.

What many of these studies iterated to me was that I needed to find a way to avoid as many high blood sugars as I could. One of the reasons I feel so strongly about this is that I’ve already dealt with the negative effects of prolonged high blood sugars and if I had been diagnosed last year, I’d likely feel a little less motivated to employ some serious interventions. Yet, maybe not, who knows.

Time and too many high blood sugars has taken it’s toll and I must fight to win back as much health as is humanly possible. I’m stubborn, as I’ve said before many times, and I want not just so-so health, but I want to be as healthy as a healthy person without diabetes. Will I achieve that? Probably not to the degree I’d like but I believe in striving for the best possible outcome, so that when I fall a little short, I’ll still be in a great place and proud of my efforts.

So how did I compartmentalize? Well, I started to read these harrowing news stories almost as if I was outside of my body and I didn’t personalize anything of the data for myself. For example, if I was looking at how many people with type 1 diabetes suffer kidney damage after a certain number of years with type 1, I did not allow myself to apply that to my many years with type 1. I basically pretended I didn’t have diabetes while I read and wrote about this. It sounds robotic, and it certainly kind of is, but my sanity is crucial to my overall health so I needed to get through the information, log it into my brain, and keep it there as pieces of useful data available to guide or influence my future decisions.

Now for the real important bit–attacking fears with action. The best way I know of to feel more in control and more motivated about a situation is to act on it. Action needs to be fueled by knowledge and caution, of course, but action is THE catalyst for any positive outcome we might enjoy. No one ever lost weight by thinking about it or wishing for it.

Here’s the dialogue that plays out in my brain:

What is my fear? That i’ll develop any number of complications.

What causes diabetes complications? If I’m going to generalize and I am, it’s high blood sugars both acute and prolonged over time.

So what should I do to manage my fear? Avoid high blood sugars.

How do I avoid high blood sugars? For about 8.5 years i’ve written about Dr. Bernstein and his low carb recommendations for people with type 1 diabetes. I’ve lowered my carbs gradually over the last 13 years and seen much fewer highs as a result. I’ve continued my efforts to the point of following a very low carb diet in a more consistent manner and i’ve seen even fewer episodes of high blood sugar and fewer episodes of low blood sugar, too. Also, the catastrophic highs and lows are nearly non-existent.

Fewer highs and lows have literally been the remedy to my fears. Now, I still have fears about certain aspects of this condition and I get tired of living with diabetes, but just like any human, I can’t expect to live without fear, I can only hope to manage it in a way that lets me accomplish what I want and be happy with my life.

Each time I read or write about diabetes, I keep it impersonal but I save the information away to use when I need motivation or information with which to make a decision.

I hope that you, too can consider new information carefully versus letting it alienate you from something that might help. Don’t be afraid to talk to a healthcare professional about what you read, too. Some studies are not as reliable as they seem. Others are funded by the very companies that stand to make a profit.

Remain skeptical but don’t turn away from information–it might be just what you need.

Sunday Diabetes Blog Week 2015 Check this Blogger Out

Click for the Continuing Connections – Sunday 5/17 Link List.
The very first inspiration for Diabetes Blog Week was to help connect our blogging community, and that continues to be the most important reason it’s held every year.  So let’s help foster and continue those connections as we wrap up another Dblog Week.  Share a link to a new blog you’ve found or a new friend you’ve made.  Or pick a random blog off of the Participant’s List, check it out and share it with us.  Let’s take some time today to make new friends.

 

 

I discovered a blogger that has a sense of humor, a heavy technical slant, has had type 1 since age 4 so I think about 44 years now.  He writes in German and English and shared really interesting posts this week.  I think I’ll be reading more.  Check out Thomas here at: http://thomas-diabetes-blog.com/blog/

Saturday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week My Favorite Blog Post

Click for the Favorites and Motivations – Saturday 5/16 Link List.
If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blog post that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don’t have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?  (Thank you Laddie of Test Guess and Go for suggesting this topic.)

 

My favorite blog post: (Because getting this info down took forever and it’s one of the biggest things that helps me…)

Classification of Carbs

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I really believe carb counting alone is insufficient when it comes to my diabetes management.  At least the simple way it’s taught.  It’s just my opinion and I’ll explain why:

I’ve found that for ME, there are adjustments I make for different types of carbs.  These are adjustments beyond just subtracting grams of fiber.  A carb is not a carb.  They vary spectacularly and learning their differences helps me keep my blood sugars in range and helps me decide which carbs to avoid.

I classify my carbs:

-Refined grains

-Sugar/sucrose/plain fructose (no fiber)

-HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)

-Chocolate, ice cream, and other high fat desserts

-Poultry/Meat/Seafood

-Fruits and vegetables

Refined Grains

When I eat anything with processed grains like white rice sushi or pizza or cookies, cake, or crackers, I have to watch out for a post meal blood sugar skyrocket.  It doesn’t happen right away which is why it’s often confusing to dose for these kinds of foods.  For example, last time you had pizza you were high afterwards so this time around you give more insulin, only to get low in the middle-towards the end of your meal.

I find that about 30 minutes after eating anything with refined or processed grains, I have to give another dose of insulin.  An insulin pump option on a dual or square wave bolus works well for a lot of people, but from what I gather, people with and without pumps have a hard time keeping blood sugars in range with processed grains.

Sugar

Eating something like candy made from glucose or sugar or drinking plain 100% juice or sugar sweetened beverage is a bit different.  I find that if I’m going to consume this within a reasonably fast amount time (as opposed to snacking over a period of 30 minutes) then I count carbs and using my 1:15 scale, I give just that amount of insulin.  Then I wait 15 minutes for the insulin to start working (more if I’m not in range).  I find that the insulin cancels out the sugar carbs pretty well and there is no shocking aftermath.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

This one is interesting.  At least for me (remember, this is just what happens in MY body).  I find that candy or beverages made with HFCS works like when I eat refined grains.  But that makes sense to me when I think about corn being a grain!  It’s easy to forget because people serve it to kids and say “eat your veggies”.

High fat desserts

This gets it’s own category because of the large amount of fat (and because they’re my favorite!)  I try to stick with dark chocolate for a low dose of sugar.  I also make sure to buy desserts that do not have HFCS in it as a sweetener.  I try to get the gourmet kind with minimal ingredients and then I count carbs and give insulin in the middle of eating since the fat content really slows down the absorption of most of these foods.  If there is a lot of sugar I give insulin prior to eating as usual.  I’m referring to a dessert like high fat truffles, mostly.

Poultry/Meat/Seafood

I count carbs and then add a tiny extra amount of insulin to my carb count depending on how much I eat.  I don’t have to do this unless I’m really filling up on this protein source.  I love how these foods fill me up and do very little to my blood sugars.

Vegetables and Fruits

I’m a fan of these, especially in terms of carbs.  As you are well aware, the high antioxidant, vitamin, mineral, fiber, and water content of these foods makes them wonderful for our health.  I definitely don’t need as much insulin for these foods.  I count the carbs and then omit for fiber content.  Fruit is something I stick to consuming in it’s natural state and in small quantities.  The sugar in fruit is fructose and too much overloads the liver, causing fatty liver problems.  Oh and it definitely affects blood sugars.  My favorite are cherries, they are very low glycemic.  Have you tried them for a low?  It takes so many!

I know I didn’t talk about legumes or nuts.  I don’t eat legumes anymore.  I think I ate too many as a kid.  I treat legumes like vegetables and I treat nuts like meat.

With any food:  If I eat a lot, I need to give a little extra insulin for the full stomach effect that Dr. Bernstein has talked about in his books.

I adjust for a few other things.  I’ve mentioned them before but here we go again:

BM status.  Eww, I know.  But being backed up might make a person anticipate a need for more insulin.  The opposite of that issue= less insulin.  So watch out for major lows if you get food poisoning!

Stress.  If I’m stressed, I have to give a little bit extra insulin to combat the stress hormones and their affects on my blood sugars.

Exercise.  Different types of exercise require different diabetes management approaches.  Read Ginger Vieira’s book for that info and so much more-even worksheets for getting all these changes right!

PMS.  Days before I start, I need to up my basal insulin.

Sleep.  If I stay up late (past midnight), I have to give some extra insulin (unless I’m active).

Sedentary.  If I’m being sedentary more than two days in a row due to sickness or diabetes burnout or whatever, I definitely have to up my basal insulin substantially (by 30-40%).

Too much artificial sweeteners.  Certain artificial sweeteners in high doses do contain carbs (it’s a small amount per serving so they’re legally allowed to round down to 0) so if you’re binging on diet coke, check your blood sugar and stay alert to a sneaky increase.

That’s all I can think of.  It’s just an example of how you want to be aware of how your body reacts to different types of food and activity.  You can see why I stick with meat/poultry/seafood, vegetables, and fruits.  Much better blood sugar stability and less variability for me.  But when I do splurge, at least being aware of how those foods act differently help me manage them for those occasions.

I write all this out because you can have tighter blood sugar management.  It helps to learn yourself and the foods you’re eating.  Again, get Ginger’s book or ebook and discover how to improve your blood sugars.  I highly recommend it.

Friday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week What I Eat

Click for the Foods on Friday – Friday 5/15 Link List.
Taking a cue from Adam Brown’s recent post, write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.  (Thank you, Katy of  Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes for this topic.)

 

Here is what I ate one day last week.  It’s pretty typical though I do like to change it up quite a bit:

Breakfast

In a magic bullet blender I put in a handful of frozen berries, a little fresh mint, some kale, chard, spinach, (or other dark leafy greens), some almond butter, chia seeds, and unsweetened coconut flakes.  I drink it up in a wine goblet.

11am I have coffee with a little milk.

Lunch

Kale salad with feta cheese, tomato, red peppers, and olives.  A slice of uncured deli turkey.

3:30pm I have tea time.  Today is a chocolate mint mate with nothing added.

Dinner

Some sauteed mushrooms, potato, squash, in a bed of peas with mint.  A glass of cheap wine.  A hibiscus popsicle.

 

This is a typical feel good day.  There are days when I have pizza with grilled veggies on top and ice cream.

 

Thursday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week Magic Changes

Click for the Changes – Thursday 5/14 Link List.
Today let’s talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you’d most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people’s perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you?

 

Since blurting out “cure!” would make this post too short, I will say that I want management tools, devices, and medications to become accessible to everyone who needs them.  I’m tired of using insulin past it’s date, using expired strips for the past two years, and not affording a CGM.  More than that, I would love for anyone to have all they need to attempt to manage their diabetes well.  Imagine, having all those things still doesn’t guarantee managing diabetes well-that’s how tricky it is. But at least being able to not stress about acquiring tools (including basic ones like um, insulin) would be nice.  So we need better tools and we need better access to those tools.  (I wrote this post a few days ago, since then a similarly themed article popped up that I’d like to refer you to since it’s more articulate than my post: https://myglu.org/articles/a-view-from-the-other-side-of-the-tracks).

I could go the route of saying we mostly need people’s perceptions to change since that may lead us to the mass funding we need for a cure.  So there is that notable thing.

To be honest, I could go on all day about changes I’d like to see.  So I’ll stop there.  :)

Wednesday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week What I Need to Clean Out

Click for the Clean it Out – Wednesday 5/13 Link List.
Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let’s clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you’re mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?  (Thank you Rick of RA Diabetes for this topic suggestion.)

 

I am a sentimental fool.  Let me tell you about the lancet device I use.  Well, first let me explain that last year I was using a multi clix device and I really loved it (ooh and I know I want to try the fast clix!)  But then my dog chewed it up and I went back to my original 1994 (don’t know what brand, it has long rubbed off) lancet device.  It’s the one I’ve mostly used throughout the years.  I’ve tried new ones, agreed the new ones are better, and then my weirdo self went back to the original.

Why?  I think using this clunky, loud, and more painful device makes me feel like I haven’t had diabetes for 20 years.  There is a sense that 20 years hasn’t actually gone by.  It makes me feel younger because I was 11 when I started using it.  It makes me feel like there is some consistency to my diabetes even though I’ve been on a roller coaster in terms of how I manage my diabetes and even though my body has certainly been affected by diabetes.  People who are now long gone have laid eyes on this device, probably somewhat associating it with me.  The sound is familiar-it makes a horribly loud and clunky (not clicky) noise.  I’m appreciative of how this device hasn’t broken in 20 years despite all the times I’ve dropped it.  See?  I’ve got my silly reasons.

I’m hoping to tear away again and use a highly superior lancet device.  In the meantime I will stick with this one out of some strange sense of comfort and practicality  (because I rarely change the needle, I still have plenty of them for this device).  I just need to let go.  Accept some final things.  Like, that I’ve had diabetes a hella long time.  And that’s ok.  Because I’m ok.

Tuesday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week What I Keep Private

Click for the Keep it to Yourself – Tuesday 5/12 Link List.
Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see.  What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?  (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone.  There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects.  Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won’t tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic.)

 

What do I keep private from the internet?  If you have known me a while you will know I don’t do private.  I try to not filter myself in order to appear “better”.  Oftentimes some of my posts are controversial.  But there are some things I will not share.  Not because I don’t want to but because I am extremely sensitive and I fear a simplistic understanding of what I write (not from most just a few)

I typically choose all my words carefully and deliberately.  But I’ve allowed myself to be shoved off my blog more than once because of criticism, hate mail, and heady assumptions.  I admit that any broad misunderstandings are my fault.  In those cases I didn’t write clearly enough.  Every so often though, I think I’m being clear, I test my blog out to a few people and ask them to tell me what I’m saying, the feedback says I’m clear,  I will publish officially, and then I will get a few responses that crush me.  When that happens, it seems like some readers are looking at things in a black and white fashion, skipping over some very important words I include, and instead of seeking clarification, they go off the rails at me.

Recently, I spoke to someone who I would regard as a nuanced thinker.  I shared what I haven’t shared before.  That will come out later for me to talk about but in the meantime I’d say that I feel sharing is highly influential and important in our community.  What some of you have shared in the past has been very freeing for me.  Being able to relate, to know I’m not alone, to feel I’m not a freak, etc.  One way we can encourage more of this honesty and openness is to read with the same honesty and openness and respond in kind.  We want to support and seek clarification, not jump to conclusions and crucify.  I’ve seen a lot of bloggers get tackled over a thought they had, a reasonable human thought.  And that doesn’t help us.  So keep sharing friends.  I will keep reading with my heart on my sleeve, understanding that you and I are no different and that you have every right to entertain certain thoughts and feelings. I try to remember too, that you are at liberty to change your mind anytime, just like me.

Monday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week Post I CAN

Click for the I Can – Monday 5/11 Link List.
In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…”  that participants found wonderfully empowering.  So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.  What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could?  Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of?  Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?  (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.)

 

Happy to be back after two years…

 

When I was 10 years old, I felt a very strong sensation bubbling up inside of me that I can now identify as drive and motivation.  For what?  I wasn’t sure.  I just felt a seriously strong longing to do something important, something that would help people.  This intensified when my sister was diagnosed with type 1 that year.  The most memorable dream of my entire life was right after her diagnosis.  I wrote it down.  Basically I was in the Amazon rain forest, just south of where I was born, looking for a cure for cancer (interesting that cancer be the disease I was curing in my dream-I think this had to do with all the talk of curing cancer from some unknown plant in the jungle at that time).  Anyway, my memory of this dream is freakishly long and detailed.  When I woke up I thought it was a sign I was going to at least work in some way or other to help others.

Then I was diagnosed with type 1 (the same year).  I felt ok for the first 6 months.  I was driven to succeed.  Then reality set it.  Diabetes was a bitch.  And I was stuck with it until someone lived my dream (in my child’s mind) and cured it?  Oh no no no this was not ok.  I got negative about it pretty quickly.  I felt my personality changing.  With every passing year I was further and further from myself.  I couldn’t help anyone-I couldn’t help me.

In my early 20’s, after depressing times due to friends dying and other losses and major fear over my physical and mental health, I began to turn around.  I tried to come back to myself.  That really was the way I thought of it.  I would remember how I was a positive kid, with a ton of spirit and wonder, and with a yearning to act on the compassion I felt for others.

So to wrap this up what I’m saying is that I can be ME despite my diabetes and because my journey has been as I described, that feels rather victorious.  I know diabetes can pull us away from all the good parts of ourselves with constant stress and suffering.  This is something I will constantly continue to struggle with.  But, I feel very much myself these days and for that I’m quite grateful.

Diabetes Blog Week 2013 Day 1

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It’s:

diabetesblogweek2013

Often our health care team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let’s pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved one’s daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don’t see?  (Thanks to Melissa Lee of Sweetly Voiced for this topic suggestion.)

 

Hmm…  Ok.  I want my medical team to know that I know that they don’t know as much as they think they know about my diabetes.  I do have to say however, my endo is extremely insightful about my type 1 diabetes.  He doesn’t assume things and he seems very aware of the challenges involved in managing type 1 diabetes and for that I’m grateful.  As for the rest of the team:  Just know that you don’t know much.  That would really help me out.  Really.

Oh and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

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