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Children With Diabetes Deserve Insulin Concentration to Meet Their Needs

Young children with type 1 diabetes face a serious conundrum and that is that the available insulin is often too concentrated for their needs.

As a result, endocrinologists wanting to avoid terrible lows (and subsequent lawsuits) in these little ones order parents to feed a certain number of grams of carbohydrate per meal or they convince parents to put their child on an insulin pump, which can dole out smaller increments of insulin to meet their requirements.

However, the high number of carbs many type 1 kids get these days is a dangerous thing for these children because it crowds out essential protein and fat and can lead to weight gain and directly paves the way to roller-coaster style blood glucose management that I promise you, is worse for the child than the parent–no matter how much work and worry is involved on their part.

In the case of an insulin pump, not everyone wants this technology which comes with concerns about tubing issues and scar tissue development and also, not every family can afford one.

Why isn’t insulin made at different concentrations? I mean, it is, but mostly to meet the needs of the type 2 diabetes population which generally has very high insulin requirements. I’ve talked with many type 2s who use in one day, the amount of insulin I use in a week. This isn’t a judgment on them, it’s me pointing out that adults are getting their needs met in this regard and children are being left behind because why? Is it that they can’t advocate for themselves and their parents are being misled by pediatric endocrinologists who don’t know better? Pretty much, I think. One may argue that they grow up quick and then they don’t need such small insulin quantities but childhood health is essential to the rest of one’s life and so optimizing their care while they’re young is morally imperative.

There is a solution for those who want to give their child a smaller amount of carbohydrate and who don’t or can’t use an insulin pump. Diluted insulin. Special diluent fluid is provided free upon request from insulin makers and shipped to your nearby pharmacy. You can do it yourself or have a healthcare provider do it (if you can convince them to). The diluted insulin means you can dose to correct and cover for your child without the elevated risk of sending them low or needing so many extra snacks. This offers the potential to lower their carbohydrate intake, leaving sufficient appetite for what drives growth in a child–protein.

Regarding growth, look up the science, there is nothing indicating your child requires a lot of carbohydrates to grow. I think this is oft repeated mostly due to the above phenomena or lack of time and willingness on the part of physicians to do the proper research as well as their overreliance on what they’re told by other physicians and by governing associations. My daughter, on a very low carb diet, just shot up over 2 inches in 4 months. Before that, she was on a moderately low carb diet for a long time and her height is over the 90th percentile. Her bones and musculature are impressive. Her hair is thick and long, her nails are strong.

Aside from adequate nutrition, kids also need something else to grow to their full potential and that’s normal or near normal blood sugars, which only low carbohydrate diets achieve and which diluted insulin in children enables.

Diluted insulin could be a service pediatric endocrinologists provide to parents of young children with type 1 diabetes if we demanded it. I admit it’s intimidating to do one’s self. First, we have to educate ourselves and then them. Health care professionals feel really bad for us because they know what type 1 diabetes means in the long run for our children and they know the demanding lifestyle we parents lead (because we advocate well for our own suffering–lack of sleep, anyone?) but they’re not being very brave or ethical by ignoring what is going on with kids these days. Too many aren’t thriving!

Not only do most type 1 children have poor blood sugar management, but many are also gaining excess weight. This doesn’t bode well for their future and it’s not fair that adults have appropriate insulin and children don’t. As parents, we have to fight for our kids. Maybe I’m completely wrong. Fine. Maybe you should find out if any of this is true and if so, I implore you to think and discuss the topic with others. I was one of those kids with high blood sugar and weight gain after diagnosis and it made me extremely depressed and unmotivated, totally slowing down the trajectory of my life which has only got back on the rails by a bunch of miracles, sweat, and tears.

I’ve had enough of this poor treatment of children with diabetes and will not stand for it when it comes to my dear daughter. Children deserve medicine that is dosed for their size. They deserve myths to be expelled by our careful investigation and attention to the matter. And they deserve normal blood sugars.

Teaching My Kid How to Recognize Low Blood Sugar Symptoms

If a minute passes while I can’t locate my type 1 daughter, I kind of freak out. She doesn’t know what a real low blood sugar feels like and that makes me nervous. In the few months since she’s been diagnosed, her lowest blood sugar has been 58 mg/dl and at the time I tried to get her to describe how she was feeling but she said she felt perfectly fine.
She doesn’t like me panicking, and I don’t either, but lows are serious and one can’t ignore that. It’s only been four months so I think as we get into more activities this Spring and Summer, we’ll have more opportunities to learn how to cope.
Once she does get a reading in the low 50s or below I hope to get her to pay attention to the symptoms so she can start recognizing lows the way I do.

About My Typical Low Blood Sugar Episodes

I have about one low blood sugar a day. These are usually not below 60 though and they’re very slow moving so they’re very rarely a bother. (Slow moving because I follow a low-carb diet which removes almost all threat of fast-moving, scary lows).
However, I think it’s valuable that I can sense them physically because it helps keep me safe and I want that for her, too.
Here’s what my low blood sugars feel like:
As I slowly drop (fast drops feel different), I’ll first start to feel better–like super healthy, good energy, and this is when my blood sugar is in the 70s. I don’t know why but I feel like superwoman in the 70s. Then I’ll start feeling a bit weak and hungry and feel a sense of urgency thanks to an elevated heart rate from an adrenaline surge–that’s when I’ve typically hit the mid-to-low 60s. If it continues to the 50s, every symptom will increase in severity and I might start trembling. Since I was a kid I’ve grabbed a piece of paper with my thumb and forefinger to check for trembling–makes it clearer. I may now also get a numb tongue, which is weird. The 40s feel awful, with tightness in the chest and impaired cognitive abilities. The 20s and 30s are rare but I have experienced them all while conscious. They feel like I’m disassociated from my body, slightly drunk, and heading towards the impending emergency shutdown of the body–on the way to unconsciousness to try and conserve energy for necessary organ function and to preserve life as long as possible (my drama-filled guess anyway). 
I tell my daughter what my symptoms are but have let her know that hers could be different.

Confirm With Meter or CGM to Be Sure

I’m teaching my daughter that while recognizing the symptoms is useful, checking blood sugar is still important because symptoms can overlap. For example, being nervous or even very excited produces a rise in certain hormones and the symptoms of jitteriness, fast heart rate, sweating, weakness, and anxiety can all feel very much like low blood sugar.
Sometimes a high can be confused for a low, too. So, it’s just best to confirm.
Not to mention, you can’t figure out if you’re on point with your observations unless you confirm with a meter. But, it’s helpful to first feel symptoms, take a second to describe how you feel to yourself, and then check to see if you’re close.
Over the years, I have become pretty good at guessing my blood sugar within 10 points. But sometimes I’m way off and so obviously, it’s still necessary to not solely rely on feeling.
This is what I’m teaching her. I am enjoying the fact that she hasn’t had a low that makes her feel awful, yet, but it’s only a matter of time before she does and when that happens, I want her to remember what it feels like so she can recognize it the next time around.

8 Week Carnivore Diet Update

I didn’t think I’d make it this long. Here are the last few weeks’ observations:

I began to check my blood pressure once or twice a day and found it keeping around 95/65 which is a bit on the low side. I take 10 mg lisinopril per day and cut down to 5 mg. My blood pressure dropped a little more and made me dizzy, so I removed it entirely.

But, something always stresses me out each month as I have terrible premenstrual syndrome symptoms and poor stress management (I think, anyway), so I kept a close eye on my blood pressure. Sure enough, stress made it jump up one evening to 130/115 so for several days I was sure to keep taking enough medication to push that back down. The anxiety has subsided, and so has my blood pressure, so now I’m down to 2.5 mg- 5 mg per day as a buffer–it doesn’t make my blood pressure too low and is there to help should I get overstressed. As soon as I feel stress growing, I think I’ll have to check my blood pressure and give a little more medication as prescribed (my doctor lets me monitor and adjust my dose slightly on my own).

Carnivore Diet Plus PMS

It was hard going through my period without alcohol or something sweet to help me cope. I might be more ashamed to admit this if I actually knew anyone who didn’t lean on something edible for comfort. If you’re one of these people who can go through physical pain and emotional turmoil and not turn to a little food or drink, I think I’d love to meet you. And maybe learn from you.

Anyway, once that was over, I felt much better. Something I did in the week before the extra stress and blood pressure elevation was consumed pre-salted hamburger patties (which were way too salty for me). I felt better switching to eggs at mid-morning and steak in the evening, both with salt. If you research the carnivore diet you’ll hear that you need plenty of electrolytes. This may be true but my blood pressure medicine raises my potassium a bit, and I take magnesium powder every morning. The moderate amount of salt on my food seems ok so far. I’ll keep noting further changes as this is new to me.

I’m still recovering from a knee injury from May, so all I can do is light exercise. That’s perfectly easy to do on this diet. I can walk miles, use resistance bands, and cook/clean without problems. I feel better actually, possibly due in part to my blood sugars being even better than before but also because my digestion is a non-issue for the first time in my life. I’m not even aware of it. I think that’s how we’re supposed to be, no?

I’m doing better with cravings now. I wish I didn’t have to fix the occasional low blood sugar with glucose because that keeps me in touch with the taste of sweetness. Still, I can watch someone eat pizza and feel nothing. I crave broccoli…but you know what’s funny? I don’t crave the thought of broccoli unless it’s got cheese or butter on it. When I think of other vegetables, the same thing happens! Does this mean I’ve been using vegetables as a carrier for other foods? Has my loud and proud love of vegetables been more of a virtual signal this whole time?

You could argue I like the combinations of the bitter and salty and sweet and creamy, etc., and you’d be on to something. We don’t tend to overconsume butter alone, we overconsume butter when it’s mixed with sugar and flour and salt and made into cookies. And many of us can’t resist these combinations–to the point of utterly destroying our health. Am I one of these people? Maybe. On my regular diet of animal foods and vegetables, I tend to avoid low-carb treats because the Pringles Syndrome– “once you pop you can’t stop” sets in.

My weight is down a bit more. I can finally put on most of my pre-pregnancy clothing. I have been trying to do that for about ten years, and I did it without feeling hungry!

At this rate, I’ll be at my pre-wedding weight by Christmas. I’ll be curious to see if that helps my blood pressure. I’m sure it will help my knees. Any extra weight means compounded weight on one’s knees and feet, and less is more for healing my quadriceps tendon tear.

I haven’t noticed any positive changes in my skin issues nor joint clicking and pain. Even if this diet doesn’t solve specific problems, it may help me rule out some things or provide hints. It may take more time, too. So many unknowns! I feel kind of nuts, but not entirely because I feel better than before and better is…well, better!

Do These 3 Unexpected Things to Manage Your Diabetes Better

Month after month and year after year you struggle with checking your blood sugar, taking your medication properly, eating the right foods, exercising enough, and staying away from actions that undo all your two steps forward.

You’re a perfectly smart individual, completely capable of doing what needs to be done. You read about how people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes do amazing things and quickly realize that some of your excuses fall a little short. You can’t figure out why you aren’t able to manage your diabetes well even though you have the tools and resources you need with which to do it.

Besides, diabetes is just one of a bunch of other problems you have. You too are dealing with relationships and work and finances.

But some people with diabetes are doing well and you wonder if you could be one of them. Deep down you know you could. You just need…something…

Now I don’t know you so I’m only going to ask you to consider the possibility that perhaps, mostly what  needs to change are your surroundings,

Your surroundings would include any people, places, or things in your proximity.

The People You Surround Yourself With

Let’s start with people. If you’re an adult you probably have a choice regarding who you spend your time with. Are these quality people? Do they treat you well or poorly? Are they negative? Do they manage to bring you down with their words or actions? Do they abuse themselves and do things you don’t respect?

You might first try telling the people in your life how you feel and what you would prefer from them. If they can’t do any different and are only helping to pull you down, you’ve got to let them go. Your diabetes will eventually destroy your health if you don’t manage it and it won’t help blaming anyone in the end. Not when you get to decide who to spend your time with.

Where I come from there is a saying that says, “Better no company, than bad company”.

Try being a person who is just, honest, hardworking, and virtuous. You’ll alienate the wrong people and attract the right ones. Those qualities will also be major boosts to your arsenal for managing diabetes.

The Places You Live and Work

Now for places. Do you hate where you live or work? If so, are you working on a plan that will slowly get you out of there? It may take 5 years (as it did for me to leave a job I hated) but you’ve got to at least lay out your plan and take steps toward it. We spend a lot of time where we live and work so, again, if that is what brings you down then work towards getting that obstacle out of your way.

Don’t despair if things seem impossible. They always do–especially when we are feeling overwhelmed. Just start writing down what you want and the steps you think you should take to get there. Try to be calm, daydream a bit, get creative, and figure out your escape.

Talk to a loved one about what you are trying to do. Maybe you can get some support. Perhaps someone you trust could also help give you feedback about what you want and why. Go to a rational thinker, not someone who will give you emotional advise, which is great for some things but terrible for your life’s practical maneuvers which require you to be wise.

The Things You Own, Which Own You

There is much value in cleaning up our possessions in a way that will minimize anxiety and stress and maximize efficiency and value. Have you heard of Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying guru? Her book may not be for everyone but I dare say she is on to something. She recommends owning only what we all need and love.

You know how most people love going to hotels? Well, I spent the last few years staying in dozens of them–three and four star hotels. And what I discovered was that they are all pretty much terrible. No, really. They are dusty, mildewy, smelly, and the only thing actually going for them is that they are minimalist and tidy.

So when you and I first step in we go into “spa brain” where we get a sense of peace and relaxation even though we are walking on a carpet that contains blood, semen, and urine. Again, no, seriously. A friend contracted MRSA from walking barefoot in a very nice New York City hotel and spent many weeks in a hospital.

Now what if we could come home and feel “spa brain” every day? Don’t you think that would help you stay focused and more relaxed on what you need to do to maintain your healthy habits?

The key is to strip your belongings of things you don’t love, as Kondo recommends and to only keep something if you truly can’t live without it. I got rid of so much stuff recently that I was able to put my diabetes supplies in a pretty box that was previously used for something else. I have been better about changing my syringes and lancets ever since and I also stay on top of what needs to be reordered because everything is so nicely organized.

Check out Kondo’s book from the library or purchase it on Amazon and start making some darn space for a life in which you manage your diabetes and health (let’s face it, those take up enough space on their own).

I Think This Because I Live It

I have done these three things I’m suggesting, not perfectly of course, as we’re all a work in progress. But, I have experienced major changes that have been well worth all the little steps it took to get here. I once felt hopeless and worried that diabetes would kill me at age 40. I thought diabetes was too hard to manage even for just 24 hours. I felt depressed and anxious and didn’t know how to alleviate my symptoms.

I’ve found that for me, it has truly helped to keep quality company, mold my life so I spend my days where I want, doing what I want, and chucking items that are only going to stand in my way, mentally and physically.

In a way, it’s all about removing what isn’t going to support what we want or need. When you remove what isn’t wanted or needed you are left with everything you want and need. It’s quite perfect.

The bit I wrote about how we have to be virtuous and all that…that part is instrumental. Deep down we all recognize quality. When we think and act like quality people we are self-motivated to hold our heads up high and finally treat ourselves with self-respect. The best anti-depressant I’ve ever experienced has been working to be a self-respecting and useful person.

It isn’t self-respect to live amongst clutter, surrender to a dead-end job, or to maintain a toxic relationship. These aspects are huge in our lives and we either surround ourselves to an environment that promotes and supports our success, or we don’t.

I don’t have it all figured out and I have a long way to go still but, I get emails from people who want to know what advise I have on how to manage diabetes well and some who ask about relationship and parenting and other topics. So what i’ve shared is what I rely on to help me maintain an A1c between 5-6 %, a healthy marriage, happy kids that I unschool, and work I enjoy.

I’ve noticed that people who manage their diabetes really well do these things, also. You can learn to do them, too if you want. Just pick one and begin.

XOXO

Traveling with Diabetes

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I’ve travelled several times each month this year and it’s given me some lessons:

I’ve learned that I get motion sickness on planes and cannot travel without taking Dramamine.  I tried to forego it once and that one time we just so happened to have a bumpy ride.  It is not fun to worry about dropping blood sugars while throwing up and being jostled about in the tiny plane lavatory. 

Taking all the airport stairs and skipping the moving sidewalks (is that what they’re called?) is a good way to combat all the sitting involved in travel.

Staff on planes are always happy.  I still haven’t met one that isn’t, which is freaky, but if I’m feeling low, so far they are quick to grab juice if I need it and want to conserve my glucose tablet stash for later.

The food situation when in an airport is mighty tricky.  Temptation abounds and yet the easiest way I’ve found to travel is to keep it real low carb because if things get hectic, and lately in airports, they always seem to, low carb often saves me amidst skipped blood sugar checks.

Given how close one’s next seat neighbor is in coach, I find it remarkable how injecting insulin in front of that neighbor has never been an awkward experience.  In fact, it’s a great conversation starter and I’ve literally written down each starting line for your own amusement:

“Wow, those needles are tiny, I’m so glad for you.”

“So you have diabetes, huh?”

“OMG, do you need sugar?”

“Ok, what do I do if you pass out on this flight?”

“Wow, in and out, just like that, eh?  It takes me longer to sneeze.”

“How long have you had it?”

And my personal favorite:  “Does it hurt? I’m sorry, of course it hurts, what was I thinking? That was such a stupid thing to say, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to say that, I just figured that it hurts but maybe it doesn’t or maybe you’re used to it, is that it, are you used to it? Wait…I take that back, I get migraines and I seriously doubt I’ll ever get used to them.  Just forget I said that, ok?”  5 seconds later:  “So, where ya headed?”

Smile

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.

Minimalism in Diabetes and Life

Thank you for all the emails of concern over my blogging break this summer and fall.  It was very nice to be missed.  I’m happy to be back.

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Over 6 years ago, when I ended my 7 year run with a Minimed insulin pump and switched to “the poor man’s” vial and syringes, I discovered something interesting about myself.  I functioned better when I practiced minimalism.  Not having so many balls in the air at once just feels easier.  I don’t even replace my syringes or lancets but once every week and several months, respectively.  I’ve never had an infection or any other problem as a result-at least not one I’m aware of.  And this makes me feel a bit more streamlined in my diabetes management.  I’m not saying I recommend being lazy about changing needles but practicing overall minimalism in my diabetes management works for me at the present time. 

In the past, all my constant logging, pumping, and the checks and balances that goes along with that overwhelmed me into not doing anything well.  Whereas now, I do the few essential things as well as possible, with A1c results I’m happy about.  It may be my personality type or my lifelong struggle with anxiety but either way it’s true for me and we all need to work with what is true for each of us.

I’ve been travelling a lot lately and I’ve been amazed at how I can go days with just a small carry on bag and my purse and not even need all that I packed.  And that includes carrying all my back up diabetes supplies which take up a good bit of room. The experience has taken away this fear I’ve always had where I ask my anxiety ridden self, “but what if I need it?!”  Now I just think of how much nicer it is to get around the airport with a small bag and how quick and easy packing is.  I’m less likely to forget something crucial, as well.

True and lasting change takes time and my moving towards minimalism has been a slow and deep process.  For the first time I’m truly aware of how ridiculous our consumer culture is.  I hate what we’re doing to the environment and ourselves.  I notice my sense of calm when I go somewhere that is totally uncluttered.  I can think and focus better in that environment.  I also have learned that more stuff does in no way translate to more happiness.  Though I can admit that being above the poverty level and therefore having sufficient safety and health affirming opportunities is important and absolutely impacts happiness levels.  But if we only refer to extras, I just spent the summer in a huge house at a lake paying zero in rent and I felt depressed the whole time. 

My favorite thing since childhood has been the computer.  I don’t know how many kids had a computer at home in 1993 but I did.  I saw the potential of this great mysterious box and as they took off better and better every minute, I became only more grateful that I had been born at a time when the world was at our fingertips.  Not to mention accessing information that was more real time than a book was super exciting.  Like most people, I love learning and the age of the internet has been my greatest ally, especially as a drop out college student married to a drop out college student.  We haven’t been hindered by our drop out status in terms of knowledge (unless you beg to differ) and that’s a righteous equalizing factor.  (Though in job searching we all know a degree still outweighs so many other valuable assets and qualities but that is a discussion for another day).

Part of what being globally connected has done for me is give me a very real view of how others think and live.  And it’s been impossible for me to ignore the fact that we have enough resources for all humans to have all they need.  We just don’t have enough for all of our wants.  Suddenly I feel greedy and I welcome that feeling because I don’t want to be talked about by my great grandchildren as the stubborn old woman that was gratuitously a part of a careless, destructive, insensitive, and idiotic generation that put greed before humanity.  I want them to know I was doing my tiny part to mitigate damage in my own home, community, and country.  I want them to know that I didn’t carry the attitude of a victim, of someone who says, “well, what do ya do” or “if you can’t beat em’, join em’”.  Bull.  Bull!  I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to know that I felt guilty about how I was living and motivated and inspired by others to act and make any change I could to make something, anything, better. 

And that leads me to where I feel I’m now more quickly headed.  The movement of minimalism is becoming more popular.  Now there are those who criticize minimalists for being trendy.  But I’m glad it’s catching on and truthfully, it’s being criticized because every time someone talks about it we are basically causing others to self reflect and to feel that we are rejecting much of society.  It’s not like my life’s goal was to reject much of society.  It’s actually in my nature to agree with you as much as possible.  But self reflection and awareness has put me here.

Anyway, what’s great is that there is no right way to practice minimalism  The key is to be aware, to be conscious of how we live and to make changes where we can.  To reject it is fine.  But there are consequences.  That’s just a fact.  I no longer feel comfortable living the way most do in the US.  That doesn’t mean I judge you for not feeling the same way.  It just means that we should all be discussing this and supporting each other.  In other words, I tell you about my minimalism journey and stop right there and you tell me about all your shopping trips and stop right there.  I don’t tell you you’re doing something wrong and you certainly don’t tell me I’m nuts for trying to live with a lot less.  This has been a very recent change for me and even now I still waste paper towels like nobody’s business so I don’t have room to judge.  I do like talking about it because that’s how I got introduced-by others talking about it with me or writing about their experiences with it.  I am so thankful for their time and willingness to share how and why they do what they do.

So what is my family doing now?

Well, first of all, I’ve been getting rid of a lot of material goods this year.  It stung for a second and then I forgot I ever owned any of it. 

I also grabbed a few items by the dumpster and refurbished them with my husband.  He fixed them up and I painted them-which turned out to be some of the best meaningful fun I’ve had all year. 

Our cheap dining room table set broke years ago and we couldn’t afford to replace it so Alex (my husband) made a farmhouse style table with simple benches and together we stained it teak and Caribbean blue.  The entire project cost less than $100 and we are so proud of our table.  Our children loved witnessing planks of wood turn into something so useful. 

I’ve been scanning and backing up documents in order to free ourselves of paper weight. 

We sold our second car super cheap in an act of charity and just go everywhere together.  This works well for us because Alex drives a company truck to and from work.

My brother in law gave us his TV but we still don’t pay for cable TV, instead we use Netflix or Hulu to watch TV using the WII my husband received as a gift.  It’s cheaper and we spend a lot less time in front of the TV.

We just bought a 900 square ft house with no basement or functional attic.  My son and daughter will share a bedroom, which is going against the norm unless you go to other parts of the world where entire families eat, sleep, and entertain in one room.  We hope to have a smaller footprint that way and to be forced into not buying so much stuff because, “where on earth would we be able to put it?” 

Alex and I have never had credit cards. And when there is extra money, we’ve paid off tuition, medical debt, whatever we can, instead of taking a vacation. We haven’t had a vacation since our honeymoon 5 years ago but there is definitely less stress in paying things off when possible.  When people say “you can afford that” we say, “no we can’t”  And it’s a dignified, “no, really, we can’t and don’t want to be burdened with debt, be irresponsible with money, or give in to the seductive pleasure of mindless shopping and imaginary needs.”  And I am just like anyone else.  I get cheered up by buying things.  I love clothes.  I love books.  I love STUFF.  I have fooled myself into believing I can heal my anxiety with a shopping trip.  But, what I’ve learned is it’s a temporary fix.  And then I’m back to where I started, only, with less money.

We try to eat very simple whole foods with few ingredients just to make preparation and clean up that much easier.  We are slowly getting rid of kitchen supplies.  It’s a little scary but eventually we want to just have a bowl, spoon, fork, and mug for each of us and just wash after every use.  No more piles of dishes!  I know that sounds crazy but if you come over I will have delectable finger foods for you, great wine that we’ll drink out of, I dunno, something, and fun conversation-all to distract you from our primitive approach.  I’m trying to make my new mantra, “people, not things”.

We plan on growing some of our own food.  There will be a major learning curve but, we are committed to giving it a good shot. 

We plan on homeschooling the kids which will help us with having a more pleasant schedule and less hectic times throughout the day.  Less stress is always a plus.  Additionally, it has been brought to my attention that right now, the greatest indicator of a child’s outcome in school is their family income and not their performance or work ethic or testing ability.  I’m not playing that game.  If we can manage and meet everyone’s needs then we’ll do it, if not, then we’ll try something else.

I have been slowly getting rid of clothes.  I noticed a while back that my husband is always better dressed than me and I think it’s because he sticks with a simple routine:  button up shirt or polo, khakis or jeans, leather shoes-and done.  He gets colors that he likes and he gets high quality so he can use his clothes for years.  So I’m trying to simplify my dressing by getting rid of everything that isn’t awesome on me (because, really, why do I want to wear anything that looks less than awesome on me?)  As a result, I’ve gotten rid of 75% of my closet!  But, it feels great and laundry is sooo much easier!  I’ve heard of people who own two pairs of pants and two t-shirts and that’s all they wear and it sounds amazing but I’m definitely not there,  yet. 

I’ve discovered the magic of Goodwill.  It’s hit and miss and I’ve learned you have to be picky, but people have been amazed by what I get from there which cost next to nothing.  The key is to make sure it serves a strong purpose and doesn’t add to clutter, something I should write on my hand before my trips there. 

Well that’s it, I think.  Again, these aren’t things anyone else should do, this is just what we feel we can do and we have a long way to go but it’s a process.  We’re just going to do what feels right. 

A part of me does feel like I’m making a statement with my minimalist diabetes management approach.  I want to be an example to those with limited resources and say, “you can do it with the basics, and do it well.”  A lack of money absolutely harms health but just enough money is another story.  I have just enough money for the basics which does include sufficient test strips for each day-excellent blood sugar control is not up for discussion.  I don’t need a pump or continuous glucose monitor, though it’s relative isn’t it?  If I die tomorrow of a middle of the night low blood sugar everyone will say I did need it.  But, if I die tomorrow in a car accident, you could say that I needed perhaps a different car or that I needed to have taken a better route or skipped a dumb errand.  If I die from a stroke, you could say I needed to have changed some part of my lifestyle or taken some type of medication.  The point is with so many variables each day affecting our well being it’s just not cut and dry.  I feel that my very simple approach forces me to maintain an important discipline that extends into all parts of my life.  That discipline is ultimately responsible for my diabetes management and how well it goes.  And that’s what I really wanted to share today Smile

Do you practice any kind of minimalism?  If so, I’m interested in learning more, please share in comments.

Diabetes Blog Week 2013 Day 1

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It’s:

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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.

Zoloft Killed that Loving Feeling

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I’m weaning myself off Zoloft.

I’ve been on it for about a year and a half now.  It has one major side effect for women-a sharp decrease in libido.  Others say it completely wipes it out.  I guess it depends on the person and how much they are taking.  Zoloft is an extremely popular drug in the US for anxiety and depression.  I started taking it for anxiety and a PMS disorder that I have and have been getting myself off because that one side effect is just too much.  I mean, I didn’t marry my husband so that we could just be best buds who partner up to raise children together, ya know?

But, getting off Zoloft takes time because withdrawal symptoms are harsh.  The times I’ve missed a dose or two I’ve felt like a squirrel on crack (I dunno, just picture what that must be like) and had major nausea on top of that.  A friend of mine recently pointed out the brilliance of this drug’s natural marketing ability.  Stopping it causes anxiety and depression which is what it treats in the first place.  There doesn’t seem to be any major health risks associated with taking it so it’s easier in the short term to just keep taking it.  Except if you’re a female, of course, and not a nun.

I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to write publicly about this.  I do so because I think it’s possible that this drug has been responsible for some divorces or major relationship woes out there.  Because if you’re not aware of this side effect, you really might think you no longer love the person you’re with.  I mean, this is what separates us from our friends!  Seriously, without the awareness of Zoloft’s side effects your physical symptoms which manifest as “don’t touch me” might tell your logic (and that of your partner’s) that “I’ve lost that loving feeling, time to move on”.  I’ve always been one to research whatever medication I take to be aware of side effects so luckily for me it was more a matter of working around the issue with a patient and understanding husband.

Honestly, the way I’m working around the issue now is getting off this darn pill.  I’m down to 35mg and while I do this, I am finding it harder to cook, clean, and get out of bed in the morning (in other words, doing things I dislike).  I also worry about my anxiety raising my blood pressure, which has been high in the past and therefore a problem I realistically foresee having “any day now”.  But, I feel more like myself (I’m a naturally moody person, perhaps I should embrace that fact and just go with it) and I’m finding that exercising to the point of dripping with sweat is the best remedy for my negative tendencies.  Exhaustion from working out is calming so, it works as long as I just do it.

I’m all for a holistic lifestyle but also getting help when it’s needed.  Right now I need off this and if shoving my behind out the door every other day for a 5k run is going to help, then I will just have to suck it up.  So far so good!

One more thing, do I regret taking Zoloft in the first place?  Um, not really.  I was having panic attacks and not parenting my young children as well as I could because I was paranoid of what might happen to them.  Taking this for a while helped me not feel so afraid and live life without so much hesitation.  My whole family benefited from this.  But I think I’m ready to live without it.

Anyone else have experience with this?

Juice Fasting with Type 1 Diabetes

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I’ve written about juicing in the past here.  Last week I decided to try a few days of juice fasting.  I drank about 2 to 3 liters of vegetable and fruit juice each day and the only other thing I consumed was water.  I used a high quality omega brand juicer and drank mostly non starchy vegetables.  I lasted 4 whole days.  Here’s how it went down:

First of all, why did I do this?

Several reasons.  First of all, I just felt like it was the right time for me, motivation-wise.  But, also I was extremely curious to see how someone with type 1 diabetes, like myself, would manage such a drastic reduction in calories and a juice fast.  I also wanted to welcome springtime with tons of fruits and vegetables without their pulp for an infusion of vitamins and minerals.  And I wanted to reset my way of eating.  I hate Winter and so every year when it’s cold and dark, I tend to comfort myself too much with sugary and fatty foods.  It doesn’t matter how healthy walnuts and almonds are, eating too many will make you fat.  It seems easier for me to do something extreme like a juice fast in order to remind myself how much better it feels on a really healthy diet.  Last summer I did a raw food detox for a few days and felt so great, lowered my need for insulin, and felt ready to eat healthier again so I figured this would be similar.

Day 1

I started on a Saturday.  I felt fine until mid afternoon when I developed a headache.  I was outside much of the day and running after the kids.  It was probably good I stayed a little active.  I don’t know if the fast caused my headache because I have allergies and during this time of year I get the type of headache I had that day so maybe, maybe not, I don’t know.  Either way, the headache got worse and worse (it was like a migraine).  By 10pm I was in agony and threw up 5 times and shivered violently for a good hour.  My blood sugar dropped and I had to get orange juice in me.  My husband was my nurse and checked my blood sugar every hour until 1am while I slept it off.  This wasn’t uncommon for me.  I am very sensitive to nausea and migraines often make me throw up several times a year so again, I don’t know if this was something I can attribute to the fast but it certainly was a miserable start and I worried if I was going to last another day.  That night I injected half of my long acting basal insulin and it ended up working perfectly.

Day 2

The next morning I woke up feeling perfectly fine.  No headache, no weakness, no morning stiffness in my joints.  I jumped out of bed in a majorly uncharacteristic way and got straight to juicing breakfast.  The entire day went amazing.  I felt great though I did take a nap (something I never, ever do) in the afternoon.

Day 3

I woke up wonderfully again and this time felt like I was floating on air.  This was so strange.  I told Alex, “I feel…euphoria!”  And then I googled “symptoms of a fast” and found that people often feel “euphoria”.  Wow.  Ok, so it’s not just me making this up.  I felt extremely peaceful and calm and happy.  I napped again this day.

Day 4

I felt fine again but started getting loose stools and that progressed for the worse during the day, leaving me feeling a bit dehydrated and uncomfortable.  And my peace was decidedly disturbed.  I chose to end the fast that night because during the next 2 days I was to drive a total of 12 hours to presentations about diabetes and didn’t want to be stuck in a car on the interstate while needing a restroom.  Not to mention diabetes and dehydration is a bad combination.  It only takes one high blood sugar for things to possibly swing out of control.  I made a pact with myself before I started the fast to above all, be safe.  I would have liked to continue but I think for my first juice fast 4 whole days was probably ideal.

Random things about this experience:

-I am an A blood type which is associated with eating more of a vegetarian type diet.  I looked into my metabolic typing a while back and found out I’m what they call a “carb type” which happened to correlate with my blood type.  Ignoring all this information, I have to admit I’ve always felt best on fruits, vegetables, and light protein sources like chicken, white fish, and legumes.  A juice fast is really great for my “type” (whatever that really is) and perhaps that’s why I didn’t have a lot of the negative symptoms others report during these fasts.  Just a thought.

-I’ve heard of people doing a juice fast by blending fruits and vegetables in a blender and then straining the pulp.  I wouldn’t recommend this as the best option because the fast motion of the blender is harsh on the valuable nutrients in the foods.  An Omega single masticating juicer is gentle and while it completely separates the pulp from the juice, it leaves all your vitamins and minerals intact.  The downside is these juicers are expensive and take up a lot of space.  I love mine (and am grateful I bought it before the kids were born-you know back when I had more money).

-I also know some people do a juice fast with store bought juices.  This is not a “juice fast”.  Store bought juices are miserably deficient in the valuable nutrients the foods once contained because they’ve been pasturized and stored for far too long.  Making your own juice means you know how fresh your fruits and veggies and herbs are, you ensure their cleanliness, and if you drink them right away, you get loads of nutrition in a glass that many people rarely get in a full week.

-It’s probably not correct to call this a “detox” because from what I understand, and I could be wrong, to detox you need fiber which will act like a sweeper of your colon.  Maybe what I’ll do next is just use the same foods but put them in a blender for green smoothies.  A green smoothie detox!

-Juicing omits all the fiber so nutrients are more easily digested and absorbed by the body.

-I juiced the following foods:  kale, collard greens, spinach, celery, beets, carrots, ginger, mint, cilantro, bok choy, arugula, cabbage, watermelon, blueberries, apple, lemon, oranges, and grapefruit.  You’d be surprised how good mint and ginger makes these juices taste :)

-I lost 4 pounds on the fast, my skin looked great, I felt more in tune with my body, and very satisfied with life.  All in all I can’t wait to do it again, if only for a weekend.  It’s been a week since my fast and I’m still using lowered insulin requirements so this seems to help me with my insulin resistance problems.  Now I just have to continue to eat right.  But if I slide out of place I know this may be just the encouraging boost I need to get me back on track.

Disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor nor any kind of medical professional.  So don’t take my word for any of this, it’s just my experience and I’m drawing from my personal knowledge base. Some people do not eliminate on fasts (which is important) and endure irreversible damage to their vital organs such as their kidneys and liver.  A fast is something very serious if you have a health condition and you want to really research the topic, perhaps talk to your medical team, and definitely listen to your body through the entire process.  Beginners should do very short fasts at first as should people who eat an unhealthy diet.  Drink plenty of liquids, rest as needed, and stick to light exercise.  A fast should not feel awful and if it does, stop.

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