Category Archives: Healthy Habits

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.

Being Bad

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Some people are perfectionists.  I have a little of that.  As a result, I beat myself in the head with thoughts having to do with self improvement and practice makes perfect and try again until it’s right and so on.

Because of this tendency I find that I can easily go to extremes.  About losing weight, I have a hard time keeping reasonable thinking like, “I want to lose 5 pounds.”  Instead it’s “I want to be thin like I was at age 10”.  Or instead of thinking “I need to eat more vegetables” I may think, “I’m going to eat nothing but vegetables from now on until the end of time”.

I don’t actually stick to those extremes thank goodness, but it’s a nagging tendency that isn’t healthy and certainly not comfortable.

Something I learned at IIN, where I graduated recently, was to sometimes “be bad”.  Not go-to-jail bad, but stop-striving-for-unobtainable-perfection bad.

So I’ve found that when I get wrapped up in thinking that I will never eat another bite of anything unhealthy again, I plan for a night with a little ice cream.

Or recently, I got myself some clove cigars that I really like and have one when I’m feeling like all the “right” choices are kind of stifling me with boredom.

It’s hard to try to be “good” or “compliant” all the time and with pretty well managed diabetes, that’s what it feels like.  I mean, I give insulin to bring down a 130.  To me, that kind of control is worth it, I truly believe so, but to balance all that I sometimes sleep in my makeup, smoke the occasional cigar, skip a shower, or read the Fifty Shades Trilogy (yes, I read that marvelous piece of literary crap.  In three days.  My world stopped for a week.  Don’t worry about me I’ve recovered.  Team Matt Bomer!).

Being “bad” reminds me to chill.  It also makes me realize that if my idea of being bad is sleeping in my makeup, then I think I’m going to be ok.

What about you?  What do you do to be bad?

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Housework

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I buy a quart of juice each week and the kids get a few drops of it in their cup of water so that it’s flavored.  We went to a local university to enjoy the nice fall weather recently and when I realized that I forgot to buy glucose tablets, I just packed that unopened quart of juice in the car for any emergencies.

Earlier that same day, my parents let me know they were stopping by.  I took a look around me and knew  I’d have to speed clean in order to make the house presentable.  So I whipped the kitchen, living room, and guest bathroom into shape in 30 minutes.  This is something that would have normally taken me 2 hours.

I was sweating after it all and almost out of breathe (not sure what that says about me).

And a little after that is when we went out to walk.  And that’s when I was thankful for that entire quart of juice I packed in the car.  I needed every last drop totaling 96 grams of carbs.  Two hours later I was 83 and in desperate need to pee.

I think this was a great reminder for me.  When I ponder choosing between a workout and cleaning the house, why not combine the two?  One and the same if you move quickly and deliberately.

What about you?  Do you get lows during or after housework?

Whatever You Think About You Attract

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I’ve written along this subject line before but wanted to do it again because it’s so powerful.  So again, “whatever you think about you attract”.  Does that make sense?  Math is a weakness of mine and so I can fully respect that for some people abstract thinking is not a strong point.  To understand that statement, one needs to think a little deeply for a moment.  This has nothing to do with intelligence because we all have preferences in the way we think about things.

I just wanted to make sure I didn’t poke or sting anyone’s feelings.

Now, let’s get into the meaning of this statement, for those who are interested.  Basically, our thoughts are powerful.  They influence our feelings.  We act very heavily upon our feelings and so our thoughts influence our actions.

Let’s say someone is having some cash flow issues and they hear that “whatever you think about you attract” bit.  They might spend much of the day thinking about how they don’t want to be broke or how they don’t want to have a money problem anymore.  Interestingly though, because these thoughts imply the mind is focusing on being broke and that there IS a money problem, one’s feelings can’t help but be affected negatively because the focus is still ON the problem.  And our feelings are so majorly influential that we will struggle to withhold our negative feelings from leading to negative actions.  For example, how many of us have quit a workout or diet goal because something in our life made us upset and we justified quitting because of said upsetting thing?  It happens all the time.

Feelings are important.  That’s why it’s recommended that people learn to manage stress.  Being emotionally upset messes up the equilibrium in the body.  It shoves you right out of your groove.

So what should a broke person do?  First of all, logic is not thrown out the window.  A person should absolutely make good decisions about how they are spending their money if their money is tight.  Now that’s out of the way, this person could keep positive thoughts in his head and think about what he does have.  Focusing on being grateful for the things he does have will give his body some positive feelings which will combat any negative ones and help support this person to have the strength required for the right decisions.  Relentlessly making the right decisions carries a person to their goal much faster than if they are so weighed down by being upset and depressed that half of their decisions do not lead to their ultimate goal.  Something is always going well in our lives, so that needs to be drawn out and made a top thought priority.

If you struggle thinking of something that’s going well, pick a body part of yours that works and be thankful it’s there and serving you.  Imagine what you’d do without it.  Yikes, right?

So there.  “Whatever you think about you attract” isn’t magic, it’s real.  It’s much like karma, which is also not magic.  People all over the world find their own way to describe things that don’t have a name and so the “law of attraction” and “karma” are just that.

I encourage you to try this in your life in some way or other.  Try it with your self esteem, your diabetes, your financial situation, your relationships, etc.  Just try it.

It’s completely changed my life for the better.  I mean it.  And I want awesome things for all of you.  You deserve it.  If you want some support with this and other health issues consider checking out my website, sysymorales.com.

Do share your thoughts in the comments!  I really appreciate the feedback.

No D Day Post-My Top 10 Beauty Products List

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You might hate me for this.  I might hate me for this.  But you know what?  I think most of us like beauty products.  It’s a billion dollar industry in the US alone and I’m not the only one buying ;)  So today for No D Day, where we don’t talk about our chronic condition, I’m going to stroll down vanity lane.  Don’t forget, I’m from Venezuela-land of what I like to call “Beauty Effort”.  In other words, people aren’t more attractive there-they just spend more time and effort making the most of what they’ve got.

So here is a list of my top 10 beauty products put together through countless, shameless hours of testing:  (share yours in the comments please I’m always on the lookout and ready to learn more!)

10.  Round boar bristle brush.  I don’t care so much about the brand name I just care that it’s boar bristle and easy to hold.  Works like a charm and is gentle on the scalp and distributes oils to the rest of the hair for maximum shine and hair health.  The round aspect is great for volume while blow drying hair.

9.  Lip Stain- Revlon makes a great one.  It’s a nice way to perk up lip color and make it look natural-looks like you just ate some strawberries!  It also feels like it’s not there which is a great plus.  I also like the natural, matte look of it.  Sometimes the shininess of gloss is tiring.

8.  Maybelline Color Tattoo.  Creamy eye shadow that doesn’t budge for over 24 hours.  Comes in the most gorgeous colors.  Perfect for Fall.  (Yes, I sound like a cheesy Allure columnist, oh well).

7.  Lacquer Liner 24 hour L’Oreal Infallible.  Amazing.  Seriously.  It’s the only eye liner that I’ve ever described as “success!”.  No smudging, no leaking into the eye.  And the brush is pure genius.  I’m really lousy with having a steady hand and even I manage this like a pro.  The black is really harsh so don’t be afraid of the slate or bronze-they are very bold and pretty but great for those of us who are no longer 21 years old.

6.  Neutrogena Make Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes.  I’m lazy about washing my face at night (how to keep water from going all over the sink, down one’s neck and elbows is beyond me) so I use these wipes.  They work so well and I think they help exfoliate, too.  I keep one corner of the wipe clear each night to use in the morning when the little remaining eye make up has smeared down under my eyes.  Ya know, just so I stay classy.

5.  Bronzer.  Used correctly, it works miracles.  Figure out how to contour your unique face shape.  This stuff is excellent when you feel pale and sickly, to just bring back some glow.  But don’t over do it.

4.  St. Tropez Self Tanning Mouse.  I don’t use it often so it lasts me well over a year (which is good because it’s the most expensive thing on this list).  It’s awesome though.  It looks great on all skin types-even really dark skinned girls, because it gives a warm and healthy glow.  It’s probably carcinogenic so I don’t recommend using it all the time.  But for example, for an event where there is a dress involved, this stuff makes getting ready seem more effortless.

3.  L’Oreal Ellnet Satin Hairspray.  It’s not cheap, it’s not found in small towns sometimes, but it’s great stuff because you can brush your hair after applying it and have hold with neat looking hair that still moves a plenty!  Or you can do what I do and just use it to hold hair’s volume after a blow dry.  (I’ve lost lots of my hair over the past decade so this makes up for it!)

2.  Mascara.  Ya know, I don’t have a favorite brand.  I suppose I haven’t found it.  But, I don’t go without it very often, it’s just too fun.  In fact, I try a different brand every few months just for kicks.

1.  Lip liner.  If you’re like me, your lips are on the thin side.  Which is fine except mine are also not very defined and tend to just blend into my skin.  SO, nude lip liner it is.  Revlon Colorstay Natural to be exact.  It really makes a difference.  Just be sure not to go outside the lip line.  That look isn’t in and never will be.  And my dear fellow Latinas…please stop the light lipstick and dark liner thing.  Just stop.

Last but not least, a few lessons I’ve learned the hard way:

1.  Don’t over pluck brows.  Magazines constantly reiterate this for a reason-we all need the reminder.  Leave well enough alone!  Brows are most gorgeous when their natural shape is retained because that natural shape was made by nature for your face and your face alone.

2.  If you don’t like wearing make up, don’t wear it!  I say cheers to you, sister and don’t even begin to apologize.  Just do me a favor and be sure to moisturize.

3.  Similarly, if you do love wearing make up, don’t be ashamed.  One of the most calming things for me is to put on make up.  It’s like a creative outlet.  There are so many colors and techniques!

4.  There are a lot of rules out there.  Break em’.  Wear white after labor day, red lipstick to the grocery store, and no make up to a party.  If you’re happy with it, nothing else matters.

5.  A way to save skin from aging is to stay moisturized. And as much as I like to use natural products, unfortunately coconut oil or organic lotions don’t do much for my scaly dry skin so I use Vaseline Intensive Care.  That said, if coconut oil works for you, awesome.

Last comment:  Go out and learn what colors, make up techniques, hair color, and jewelry flatter you.  It’s a great way to love exactly who you are because it’s about supporting what you already have instead of trying to cover it up or completely change it.

My favorite website that has free info on how to figure out your best colors, make up techniques, hair color, jewelry, style, hats, etc, is thechicfashionista.com.  There you can get tons of guidance for free and take some time to appreciate your unique sense of beauty.

This post wasn’t so shallow, was it?

Read more No D Day posts by clicking here!

Do Something You’re Afraid Of

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It’s Fabulous Friday where we celebrate ourselves or at least remember to.

When we’re afraid of doing something because of the possibility of failure, we don’t honor the incredible people that we are-capable of just about anything.

So today, I ask you to consider doing something you’re afraid of.  And diabetes will seem a little easier.  At least that’s what I have experienced this summer.

You know that movie with Jim Carrey where he says “yes” to everything and it changes his life?  Well, I kind of did that this summer.  I responded affirmative to everything that came up.  Did I overschedule myself a few times?  Yeah.  Did I freak out over some of what I was attempting?  Oh yeah.

But, it was so worth it.

Of course, I don’t mean trying something dangerous.  For me, it meant public speaking, doing more health coaching, participating in as many diabetes related projects as were offered to me even if they made me uncomfortable or seemed difficult.

Part of my fear was not having much downtime and having to multi-task.  But I learned I could mentally get myself to accomplish routines that would have killed my non-housewifey self a year ago.  I did treat myself to ice cream during times of panic, I’ll admit.  I did watch all 11 seasons of Frasier on Netflix (this was therapy because the incessant laughter the show gave me relaxed me and kept me sane-I swear!)  Yet, I realized by working almost every hour of every day that I had only been afraid of a little discomfort and no more.

Something I’ve also been doing that I’ve been afraid of is getting rid of a lot of my possessions.  The funny thing about that is the thought of doing it is what hurts.  Actually doing it feels totally liberating!

For the first time since I can remember, I’m looking forward to Fall and Winter.  This is a big deal for me because I struggle with cold weather and the emotional and traditional Holidays.  But, now I’m all sunshiny about it and I don’t recognize myself.

Doing something we’re afraid of sparks something really great in our minds.  It gives us a feeling of immense relief, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad!” and a major sense of accomplishment “OMG I did it!” and my favorite part, it gives us a feeling of wanting to push further and raise our personal bars to a new level.  Essentially, doing things that scare us help us dream big.  And if dreaming big turns into actionable steps…well, monumental joys await.

So I encourage you all to try something you’re afraid of.  Even if it seems insignificant.  If you’re afraid of it, it matters.  Try it.  It eases anxiety and paranoia that we people with diabetes tend to have extra amounts of.  And the confidence boost and feeling that anything is possible will lift your spirits.  And maybe you’ll get a renewed strength and motivation about your diabetes management.  I know I did.

What have you done lately that you’re afraid of?  Share in comments!

Thoughts on Diabetes Guilt

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I answered a few questions for a video project recently and wanted to get my thoughts out in written format.

The first question was if I had ever felt guilty about having diabetes.  Personally, I have never felt guilty about having diabetes but I have felt guilty about other things such as not eating right, not checking my blood sugars often enough, or skipping exercise.

The way I’ve dealt with this is to first recognize that I’m not perfect and second of all be brutally honest with myself about my efforts.  For me, guilt comes from not doing what I know I’m capable of.  So since I don’t make insulin, I don’t feel guilty about having diabetes, but I certainly try to be aware of what I’m doing in order to get what I want such as good health or great blood sugars.  If I feel guilty about how I’m eating, it’s usually because I know I could be doing better.  I view guilt as a sign that helps point me in the right direction.  And since I’m not a fan of guilt, I use it as a pointer and then banish it for productivity and dignity purposes.

I find that making a plan of action and setting goals is a really great way of diminishing guilt.  Once we are on a path towards our goals, we feel empowered and we know we’re working hard and then there is no room or place for guilt.

I have been treated differently in the past for having diabetes.  It’s understandable because of how most people have a certain level of ignorance about diabetes.  So I find education is key.  And when it’s not appropriate to lecture or teach someone about diabetes, I just smile and feel confident knowing that most people don’t mean to offend and those who do aren’t worth my time.  Walking around angry about the public’s ignorance about diabetes is immature.  I mean, are we saying everyone needs to know the ins and outs of our condition when we don’t know the ins and outs of hundreds of other conditions?  Yikes.

For those who don’t have diabetes, I do have a suggestion.  I’d suggest that they simply not assume when it comes to anything about anyone else and be open to learning, instead.  The great thing about this is it should work on just about anything!

The best tool I’ve found for handling misconceptions out there about diabetes is to put all my energy and focus on living my best life because I’ve found that when I do that, I look and feel better and that speaks volumes to people and sets them straight often before I open my mouth to correct them.

Many people feel that type 1 diabetes is easy and all about just taking insulin.  It’s been very empowering for me to write a blog that family and friends read because it’s allowed them to learn more about what diabetes is really like to live with, without being lectured.

So all in all I’d say that leading and teaching others by example and focusing on ourselves is a great way to fight stereotypes and misconceptions out there.  Placing much of our energy outside of ourselves is a bit of a waste, in my opinion.  And very importantly, I’d say that it’s important to decide that no one is going to make you feel bad about having diabetes.  If they get to you it may be that you have some feelings of your own to work through and if that’s the case, work through them.  My philosophy is to take responsibility for our own feelings and actions.

I like being in a place where guilt doesn’t weigh me down and other people have little power over me.  I think we all deserve that.

Interview with Type 1 Living Abroad, Ariana Mullins

 

Remember earlier this year when I interviewed Nathan ShackelfordHis blog is still one of my faves.  Well, he said I might like to check out his sister’s blog.  Ariana Mullins has type 1 diabetes like her brother, but doesn’t blog about it.  Instead she blogs about her family’s adventures living in Europe.  She is a fantastic writer (she just wrote my favorite blog post ever) and takes some amazing pictures.  Do check out her blog, it’s a beautiful reminder of what living a healthy, fabulous, and grateful life is all about.

I asked her some questions about how she manages her diabetes and what it was like having diabetes and living in Europe (and other places):

How long have you had type 1 diabetes?

I was diagnosed 21 years ago, at age 12.  By the way, I was diagnosed by my dad and his glucometer, and never even saw a doctor  about my diabetes until I was 14.  My dad and older bother are both type 1 diabetics, and we were living in a rural area in the Philippines. My dad helped me work out my insulin dosages, taught me to estimate carb counts, etc.  My brother sent me my first insulin wallet, (which I used for the next 15 years!)  I decided right away that I wanted to be healthier than any non-diabetic, and took everything related to self-care pretty seriously.  Six months after diagnosis, I left for boarding school, on another island– so I was really on my own!  When I did finally see an endocrinologist, he was amazed that I had an A1c of 5.6!

What’s your motto in life?

“Never make decisions based on fear.”  I think I have lived this philosophy pretty well with my diabetes.  I haven’t let my diagnosis keep me from doing anything I really wanted to do, with the exception of snorkeling and scuba diving.  I used to snorkel all the time as a kid, but once I became diabetic, the idea of being in the middle of the ocean with low blood sugar was just too hard to justify!  Other than that, I have not let my diagnosis keep me from living as fully as possible, trying as many new experiences as I can.

Ariana and her brother, Nathan:IMG_1246

What is your diet like and why do you eat that way?

I eat low carb, and follow more of a paleo-type of approach.  I love food, and love to cook.  We originally started eating a grain-free diet because of food allergies that my daughter and husband have, but I quickly realized that it was great for all of us, and simplified my life a lot, since I was already not eating much starch anyway.  We eat plenty of meat and eggs, lots of vegetables, coconut products, and plenty of fat.  If we’ve been to France recently, then there’s plenty of great cheese on the table, as well!
I don’t crave a lot of sweets, but I do make room in my day for dark chocolate (usually 80%) and am happy to try out grain-free dessert recipes for my family, although I don’t usually eatmuch of those treats.  We always eat very well, though, with an emphasis on great quality items.  Who wouldn’t be happy to have a nice steak with herbed butter, grilled asparagus, olives, and a fresh, herbal salad for dinner?  Add a glass of red wine and some chocolate for dessert, and I feel like one lucky lady!  I never feel deprived, and absolutely love eating all of the great food at our table.

I think that one of the most positive, proactive things a person (regardless of health concerns) can do is to look at their food supply– what are we really eating, and where did it come from?  How was it produced?  Taking an interest in our sustenance is extremely rewarding, and eating well does not have to be expensive or difficult.  It’s true that eating quality food is a real priority for me, both in terms of budget and effort, but I don’t spend more than the average person (in fact, probably less!) and we feel incredibly wealthy when we sit down to eat together.

(Sysy speaking-she isn’t kidding.  Below is her cooking.  It’s what I want for dinner.)

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What in your opinion, is the toughest thing about living with type 1 diabetes?

I think the hardest part is just that it’s always there, on my mind, and impacting the smallest decisions in my day.  What I eat, when I eat.  The type of exercise I do, when, how long, etc.  Although diabetes doesn’t limit me much, it impacts everything.  When I leave the house, I have to think about whether I have something on hand in case of hypoglycemia, and whether it’s enough, or where I could get more, if needed.   And I am always counting…  The insulin I took, what I ate, when, what I will eat, what my last number was, what happened yesterday or the day before, trying to anticipate what my blood sugar might do.  There are so many variables– how much sleep I got, the amount of stress I am under, how old my insulin is, which ratio of insulin in my system is basal, how long a bolus dose will be working… The list of factors is endless, and it can be overwhelming at times, when there is a problematic dynamic happening that I need to figure out.  I can do everything “right” and still not get the numbers I am shooting for.  Diabetes takes a ton of mental energy and patience, and when other things in my life are a little wild, it can feel like too much!

Do you ever fear your daughter will develop it?

Yes, I do fear that she might.  Genetically, the chances are not too bad, but there is always that possibility.  Honestly, this is another reason that we eat the way we do– I want to give her the best health foundation that I can.  I do my best without being obsessive, and the rest is really not up to me.  It’s not something I think about every day, though, and it really wouldn’t be the end of the world if she did develop diabetes.

With her adorable daughter, Amelia:IMG_5617

Is it challenging living abroad with type 1 diabetes? What places have been the most challenging/least challenging?

I don’t find living abroad with this diagnosis to be much more challenging than living in the US.  In Germany, I did have to do more work to find a doctor that spoke English.  My diabetes is the same here as it would be anywhere else in the world.  I think it would be more challenging living in a really hot country, where I had to think all of the time about keeping my insulin cold.  Or a place that I couldn’t find supplies so easily.  But so far, it’s not hard at all.  We travel quite a bit, and that of course presents some challenges, but usually nothing too serious.  And of course,  the travel is so worth it!

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If you can’t find glucose tablets, what do you use for lows?

Fruit– I often carry an apple in my purse.  I can’t find Smarties candy here, which is my #1 choice.  Fruit leathers are pretty good, though, and if I am out and about, then getting a little bit of fruit juice is fast and effective.

How many times a day do you check your blood sugars?

This actually varies.  Since I have some limitations of test strip supply, I use a “save and splurge” sort of strategy.  I might use tons of strips for a few days, while I am figuring out a dynamic or blood sugar problem.  Once I have logged all of that information and have something to work with, I will make changes, and then check less obsessively, to see how things are going.  On average, though, I’d say I check 5-7 times per day.

Why did you decide to move abroad? Were you worried about how you would manage with your diabetes?

We decided to move overseas because we wanted to live in Europe.  It’s really that simple!  When we found out that my husband could get a good job working for the US government overseas, we jumped at the opportunity.  We lived in Germany for a while, and now we have been in England for over a year.
To be honest, my diabetes was not even a factor I considered when making the decision to move.  I think this makes sense, if you take into account my first years as a diabetic– completely self-managing in a foreign country.  I had not gotten exceptional care from doctors in the US, and the cost of insurance, co-pays and things like that never made me feel like I was particularly lucky to be a diabetic in my home country.  Once, I went to see a really great endo in Portland, and they booked my appointment and said they would accept my insurance.  But it turned out that they wouldn’t– I found this out after the doctor had run a whole bunch of labs (which just revealed that I was super healthy!) and we ran up a bill of $1,000 for that one visit, during a time of financial strain!  I could not even afford a follow up, which would have been the more valuable visit.  See what I mean?  There are great resources for diabetics, but not necessarily available to the people who need them.

So, here in England, the way they manage diabetes is not that great, either.  But they do cover prescriptions and supplies 100%!  Honestly, it is the patient that manages their diabetes, not the doctor.  So I would rather be empowered by having the supplies and medications I need, than lots of face time with doctors and nurses.  That said, there is a diabetes clinic nearby, and I can call one of the nurses, send them my logs, etc., whenever I want, for help.  The technology is a bit behind, though.  Not many diabetics use pumps here, since the funding is limited, and CGM supplies are not covered.  I am currently on a waiting list for a pump class, and then subsequently getting set up with a pump.  I don’t know how long it will be, and it’s not something I am expecting next week, I’m just waiting to see how it plays out.  Interestingly, you have to sort of prove your worthiness to get a pump– a reasonable A1c, and adeptness at carb counting and adjusting insulin.  I know these are kind of basic in the US, but I think it’s more rare to find PWDs who are very engaged in their own management.  This observation is simply based on the way things are handled– I haven’t met another PWD here yet!

What advice do you have for someone with type 1 who is considering moving to England (where you live now)?

I would recommend that they work to get their diabetes well-managed, through whatever resources they have available to them at home first.  It may vary depending on where in England they land, but I don’t think the management resources here are great.  They would need to be pretty competent with trouble-shooting and investigating issues on their own.  Sure, there are doctors and nurses here to help, but it could take a while to get an appointment at a diabetes clinic, or to find the exact type of help they need.  For example, if I had been working with a great endo before I moved here, I would have tried to set up a way to stay in contact with them, and pay for consults over the phone or via email.  On the other hand, if they qualify for NHS coverage, then they are going to love getting all their supplies for free!

The thing that most positively impacts your diabetes management?

A curiosity about the human body, and health in general.  Being diagnosed at a young age definitely sparked my life-long interest in health and nutrition.  Our bodies are really amazing.  They are always working hard to do their best, and deserve our best in return– the best nutrition we can find, plenty of rest, play, etc.  It makes me sad when I see people feeling angry with their bodies, or fighting them– the body is always working really hard, and never tries to sabotage us! The discomforts or troubling symptoms I may have are just forms of communication.  If I pay attention and respond, I can take great care of myself!  Don’t let the challenges of living with diabetes overshadow all of the really wonderful things that we are capable of through such exquisitely designed structures!

Where in the world would Carmen Sandiego be if she had type 1 diabetes?

Probably in Germany!  The best diabetes technology always seems to be coming from there, and they also have a great healthcare system that allows diabetics to get the care that they need, with minimal personal expense.

Any last words?

I don’t usually write about diabetes, so this was a positive exercise for me, in terms of articulating my experience with this condition.  Diabetes is actually not a big part of my identity.  I learned from an early age that I didn’t like being thought of as “that diabetic girl.”  People either felt sorry for me, or felt like they needed to get involved, or (worse yet!) tell me their best diabetes-related horror story.  No thanks!  Life is so interesting, and there is so much out there to experience, so I do my best to strike the balance between taking good care of myself, and just living and enjoying everything else around me.

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With her husband, Jeff.

Thank you for letting me share a bit about my experiences, Sysy!

Anytime!  Thanks for being so candid and helping prove that people with diabetes can do anything.

How I Just Be Happy and Manage My Diabetes

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The secret to happiness.  I’ve heard wise people say that we don’t find happiness, rather we simply be happy.  And I always scoffed at that because I thought, “um…easy for you to say, you don’t have diabetes or this or that or blah blah blah…”

And recently, despite being really short on finances, despite having type 1 diabetes, despite living in a world that feels more scary every day, I’ve been really happy.

And I suddenly understood that thing about just being happy.  How many of us think that once we change jobs we’ll be happy?  Or once we lose weight we’ll be happy?  Or once we find the one, we’ll be happy.  I did all three of those at one point in life and was hit over the head with the realization that life felt the same because I was looking at it through the same gray tinted lens.  I went back to thinking I’d be happy if I had this or that and so the search for happiness just went on and on.

I also used to think I’d be happy if I could have well managed diabetes.  Just now, I sat looking at my kids happily squealing over a praying mantis (and petting it no less), and thought, why do I manage my diabetes well now and didn’t back then?  It’s not that I work harder than I used to.

You see, instead of trying to find happiness lately, I just be happy.  And it works.  And while I used to try to manage my blood sugars, I now just manage them.  Just like I am happy no matter what happens.  I manage my blood sugar no matter what it takes.  Being happy means making the choice to be happy, even under difficult circumstances (which are bound to be present).

Well, managing blood sugars, for me at least, means choosing to manage my blood sugars.  Managing my blood sugars even if I don’t want to eat right, even if I don’t want to give a shot, or check my blood sugar.  Even if I don’t want to make any of the sacrifices that non-diabetics don’t have to make.

Some say they don’t want to work that hard, give up that much, or strain to be happy while feeling hurt or anger or pain.  But what I figured out was that hurt, anger, pain, and hard work are inevitable and a part of life.  Those who try to escape these feelings are simply relocating them, losing control over their lives, and not even reaping the benefits.

So try choosing to be happy.  And choose to manage your blood sugars.  You know what to do.  You know what it takes.  You’re worth it.  And it’s not nearly as hard as dealing with the consequences of not doing it.  Ironic, but true.  And am I always happy and always managing my diabetes well?  Nah.  That would be non-human of me.

Now I know this was a big simple post and general and all that.  I’ll get in deeper soon, I promise.

Spending on our Diabetes Supplies

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Here’s my story-I used to get very caught up with how I was going to afford my diabetes medications and supplies.  I would make a yearly budget list of things I wanted to spend money on and I would include all my diabetes stuff on that list.  Then throughout the year I’d make choices from that list as money came in.  I ended up putting off my diabetes related purchases until the last moment or until I was broke and had to ask my parents for a loan.

This was no dignified way to live.  I felt upset every time I did spend money on my diabetes thinking, “This is so unfair, with what I spend on my diabetes, I could have gone to Europe for a month by now!”  And perhaps that’s the truth.  BUT…didn’t I have a high value placed on my health?  Didn’t I realize diabetes wasn’t going to go away and that if I was healthy, I was able to do more things?

I began realizing that my diabetes related purchases needed to be on a list of things that I must spend money on.  And in fact, those purchases needed to be at the top of the list because health really should be my priority.

I was bitter for years because I was giving up small vacations, clothes, cds, and other things I wanted to buy because that extra money was going to my diabetes.  I didn’t like feeling this way so I started working on changing the way I thought.

I realized I was choosing to be miserable, yet healthy when I could choose to be content and healthy.  So I decided to continue prioritizing my diabetes but I also began working towards a goal of getting a new job and making more money.  In the meantime, I’d try to take pleasure in the simple things like friends and family and focus on what I DID have.

Eventually I got to where I’m at now.  Paying for my insulin and strips is just like paying the monthly rent.  I don’t even think about it.  I need it.  I’m grateful to be able to pay for it.  And instead of being upset about it, I’m spending that energy on much better things.

In the end, it’s all worked out better than I ever dreamed.  Some people cannot afford their diabetes supplies.  Some don’t have the choice.  For those of us who do, let’s make it in favor of our health and the rest will fall into place.

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