Category Archives: For type 1 diabetics

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.

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.

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.

March and April 2013 Resolutions

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For January and February my goal was small because this is the hardest time of the year for me.  Winter wears me out and the lack of warm sunny days challenges my healthy lifestyle habits.  There’s something about the cold and how it makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with some tea and enjoy my biggest not-so-guilty pleasure, White Collar with Alex.

My goal was just to practice giving my presentations about diabetes in Spanish.  And so I did.  My problem has been more about a lack of fluidity between tricky words and sentences versus not knowing what to say or how to say it.  It’s worked for me at jobs in the past but when giving a presentation it seems important that a message come across smoothly.  With each presentation I’m doing better and the fear of speaking Spanish is behind me, um, mostly.

Now onward to March and April, or just err…April.  Spring is here and while allergies cause me a lot of serious fatigue (seriously, the body just. shuts. down.) I am still eager to enjoy warmer weather and longer days.  Of course, as I type this at 6:46pm on a Sunday in Spring I’ll admit it has been snowing all day.  Go figure.

My goal is to jump back into exercise.  Not that I ever stopped but I since Winter is a hard time for me-a time of surviving versus thriving if you will, I did just enough to get by.  I feel the need to sweat more.  I need to get toxins out.  This is a perfect time because Spring naturally brings greens and berries with it which help detox the body.

I realize this post is super late but I have been working on my goal all month.  Every other day my workout is a tad more intense and that’s enough to make a big difference in my body and energy levels.  So far so good!

*A few days later*

I’m now on day three of a juice fast.  I’m juicing mostly vegetables and only consuming that and water.  It’s been really awesome thus far.  A post on the entire experience to come.  I gotta see how long I can go first SmileDuring this time it’s just been yoga, which I’m surprised I can even do while on a juice fast in the first place.  Who knew?

What are you working on?

Things to Remember If You Take Insulin

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I have been on shot therapy for the last 6 years.  Before that I used a pump but we didn’t get along because I was out of control with my diabetes at the time.  I do well with shots so I stick with them for now.  These tips apply with taking insulin by shots or a pump.

There are a few things I have to constantly remind myself of when taking insulin.  Things that make everything go more smoothly.

So I’m going to share 5 Things to Remember if You Take Insulin:

1.  Read the pamphlet of information about your fast acting insulin or ask your doctor to find out how many minutes it takes your fast acting to start working.

Mine takes about 15 minutes.  So test well before eating a meal and then give your insulin some time to start working.  If my sugar is 100 before a meal, I give it about 10 minutes to start working, less if my meal has a lot of fat or slow moving carbs like legumes.  If my sugar is 150, I wait about 25 minutes before eating.  This isn’t a hard rule, and I don’t recommend you do exactly what I do.  I recommend that you figure out how long it takes your insulin to start working and then give it some time before digging into your meal.  Ideally, when the carbs in our meal start raising our blood sugar, our insulin will be there to cancel it out.  If you don’t do this, chances are you will start causing your sugar to climb and then the insulin will have a late start and have a harder time pushing down your higher blood sugar.  End result?  Post meal blood sugar levels that leave you assuming your insulin dosage for your meal wasn’t accurate.  But, maybe it was accurate.  Maybe you just didn’t time things right.

2.  Every time you give insulin a certain amount isn’t going to be properly absorbed by the body.  And that certain amount is random and unpredictable.  This means that if you want more consistency with blood sugars, being careful with carbohydrates, particularly those in starchy processed foods is your best bet.  I’m not saying eat low carb, just saying that it’s impossible to always give the perfect amount of insulin.  Knowing this helps me plan meals and check any extra guilt and frustration at the door.

3.  If you take a long acting insulin, find out how many hours it lasts.  You may be surprised to find that a 24 hour insulin isn’t exactly 24 hours but a little less than that.  Knowing this, you can predict when your blood sugars may begin to rise and counter that with a little exercise or fast acting insulin.

4.  Find out how long your insulin lasts once opened and then get rid of it when that time comes.  Otherwise you shouldn’t be surprised when blood sugars seem inexplicably off.  I sometimes use my insulin a little longer than I should to save money.  And I pay the price.  But I do so knowingly and I share this so that no one pays the price out of just not being aware.  So arm yourself with knowledge and then try to make a wiser choice than me. Winking smile

5.  Last but not least, when it seems your insulin just isn’t working, don’t go more than a week without trying to figure out what’s going on.  Try changing the bottle.  Check and see if you have any infections or chronic pain happening.  Make sure you’re not allergic to your insulin and report any strange aftermath on your body where you gave insulin.  If you’ve ruled that out, check your body for any dark brown markings that often indicate insulin resistance.  Sometimes I will get those marks somewhere under my bra where friction happens.  Ask your doctor about them if you have them.

Me?  I shun all processed foods and make sure I’m eating well and getting exercise.  Usually reducing my carbs a little and doing exercise at least 3 times a week helps greatly to get my insulin working well again.  Maybe I’m susceptible to this because I have a lot of type 2 diabetes in the family but either way, I try not to go long with insulin that doesn’t seem to be working well.  For me it’s usually insulin resistance and it’s a sign I need to tweak my lifestyle a bit.  I’ve even gone “raw” for a week or two to get back on track.  The longer you deal with high blood sugars, the worse you’ll feel and risk down spiraling somewhere hard to climb out of so get to the bottom of consistent and inexplicable highs ASAP so you can feel better sooner rather than later.  To busy in your life to do this?  Just remember, diabetes comes first because it damages every cell in the body.  And before you let that get you down, just think, you and I have some measure of control over our diabetes right?  Let’s take advantage of that!

Have a great one!

The Case for Diabetes Cure Hope

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

It’s not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Eating with Diabetes Book Review

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Emotional Eating with Diabetes is Ginger Vieira’s 2nd book.  It tackles a subject all too familiar to people with diabetes and perhaps, not acknowledged enough by everybody else.

I’ve blogged about my struggles with food but not in great detail.  So I want to share my emotional eating story.

I’m a really emotional person and someone who has lived with type 1 for over 18 years (and through childhood and teenage years) so put that together and add in some 1st world body issues and you have someone who can review this book from a very personal place of experience.

And while I think I’ve got a good grip on my emotional eating issues (they don’t resurface often), I’m like an alcoholic in the sense that I need consistent reminders to stay on the right path and out of the dark side.  I really benefited from reading this book.  And I think I’ll read it every single year from now on for support.

It started when I was 12 and had only been living with type 1 for a year.  I would beg my mom for gum at the grocery store and then sell each piece at school for 10 cents, which I’d then pool together to buy an alternate lunch at school each day-a Little Debbie oatmeal cookie or fudge round.  I hated diabetes and the rules that came from my doctors so much that I was going to spite them any way I could.  So I ate what I wasn’t supposed to for lunch.

Then I started sneaking in candy bars and granola bars when no one was looking just to eat what diabetes wouldn’t let me eat.  (Do remember, this was before fast acting and 20-some hour insulin so back then we did have to abide by some rules that we don’t have any longer.)

I would binge and then feel like the worst person in the world.  And I developed a cycle of rebellion mixed with self-hate and a neglect for self-respect (ironically something I was all for in other manifestations).  People didn’t know I had a problem because I hid it.  And that was probably the first sign of a problem for me.

My health suffered, my weight went up, I had a hard time keeping up with such a destructive way of living.

Eventually (after years of hard work), I began to enjoy eating healthy and learned how to treat myself in a respectful way when it came to food.  And because food matters so much in diabetes, my health improved dramatically-no, my life improved dramatically.

If this sounds at all like you or you want to stop feeling obsessive about food, get this book.  It’s written in a straight forward but friendly way that will acknowledge all your fears and anxieties and help you through them.  This book will give you a guided path to where you want to be and show you how to be kind to yourself along the way.

I agree that the “can’t eat that” mentality is harmful. Ginger stresses that we make our own decisions and instead of telling ourselves we can’t have something, we either choose to or choose not to. And that’s how I do now with bread, rice, and pasta and other heavy carbs. I choose not to have them but I know that if I want them, I can have them. There is a difference between enjoying chicken and veggies  and eating that same dish while staring longingly at the rice side that is “forbidden”. Our minds are very susceptible to this kind of pressure and they are bound to crack.

Every now and then I eat my favorite food-ice cream, and I eat it really slowly, savoring every bite.  And I remember how I used to eat it so fast my tongue would burn and I would ask myself “What are you doing, you’re not even enjoying this?!”  That’s when I realize I’ve come a long way.  And yes, it took baby steps, the way Ginger describes in her book, but eventually we can get where we’re meant to be.  And the journey is so worthwhile.  This book is succinct, kind, and best of all I believe it’s effective.

I strongly recommend it.

Buy it here Smile

A Diabetes Art Showing

My sister and fellow type 1 diabetic, Ana, had her first art showing recently on campus of her school, James Madison University.

The theme she chose was diabetes so I really wanted to share pictures of it with you all.

One of Ana’s professors expressed worry that this theme of diabetes somehow limited Ana’s potential to perhaps show her range. I would like to respectfully disagree. Diabetes is a 24/7 condition that affects every single cell in our bodies, has no cure, and has mental, social, emotional repercussions. Diabetes has no limits and neither does art.  Art is expressed in many forms and has the potential to teach, inspire, and move us deeply.  I have diabetes and know my sister but was still very surprised and moved from this collection and I know that many people without diabetes were really impacted and informed by this art work.

Ana was extraordinarily brave to open herself up in this way and allow us a chance to learn from and relate to her as a person living with diabetes. What is it they say?  That in showing our vulnerabilities we reveal our strength and courage?  Well, I agree and I’m really proud to call her my sister.

Enjoy :)

 

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Her showing starts with a setting for visitors including her business cards and a jar of strips which gives a visual for just how many of these things we go through and how many finger pricks we endure.

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This one is called “ketoacidosis”. Ana has only visited the hospital once in almost 19 years with type 1 diabetes and it was for ketoacidosis as a teenager. It came up fast and seemingly out of nowhere and scared the heck out of us. She recalls that she didn’t really know what ketoacidosis was nor did she realize how dangerous it could be.

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Here, Ana says this represents the time between her hospital visit for ketoacidosis and the time she began these paintings.  So activities and events are shown below and collectively demonstrate what is her very “Normal Life”, as the painting is called.

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This one stumped me until Ana explained it.  It’s the third in this series of four paintings and is called “Attack”.  During the time of Ana’s “normal life” she read up on ketoacidosis to understand it better.  She read about how serious it was and then went days waking up in the middle of the night with what sounds like anxiety attacks.  She says she felt her heart beating strongly (which is why it’s enlarged in the painting) and felt she was being choked and sick to her stomach with fear at the realization of what diabetes could cause to happen.

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Ana ends with a piece called “Thank You” which represents the support and love from family and friends.

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“Insulin is Not a Cure”

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This one is called “I Can See It Happening” and represents Ana’s fear of diabetes complications, namely, blindness.  This is a strong fear for her because of how she loves to paint and make art and is a generally visually oriented person.  But the squeezing out tears is also indicative of the many frustrations from living with diabetes.

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I don’t remember this but days after Ana’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis at age 3, she caught the flu!  Here are two framed sheets of notebook paper where our dad charted out Ana’s blood sugars trying to understand  type 1 diabetes and help take care of a young daughter with the flu all at the same time.  She was still in the honeymoon period at this point.

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A wall of thoughts and feelings about diabetes…

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Ana asked people with and without diabetes a few questions and framed the questions and the responses she received.  Here are a few:

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Ana’s answers to those questions:

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Our friend Jennifer Brannock’s response:

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Our mom’s response:

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Our Dad’s:

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Our 12 year old brother:

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From Ana’s boyfriend (ironically, also my husband’s youngest brother):

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Here is one girl’s heartbreaking response (let’s leave her some encouraging comments!)

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From Patty Keller:

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More people from the DOC responded:

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Don’t we know about ketones and strips…

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The beta cell is quite lovely:

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and in color:

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I remember taking this picture one summer. Ana and our other sister Sara were in the basement roller blading to music. Our mom called down the stairs, “Ana! Check!” Ana dutifully shoved off her skates and ran upstairs to check. I thought about how our reality was so strange, yet so normal and I took a picture of her while checking her blood sugar. I didn’t tell her to “say cheese”, she did that all on her own. After this photo she went back to roller blading and I was secretly inspired by her ability to carry diabetes so gracefully.  Even though the hardship of diabetes is present, I think this picture reflects the potential we all have as people with or without diabetes.

In other words, we do what we need to do, smile…and carry on with life.

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Thank you so much for viewing/reading this post.  It’s the next best thing to having had you all over to the art show in person.

We’re eager to hear what you think in the comments :)

 

XOXO, Sysy and Ana Morales

The Way Kids See It

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For many of us with diabetes, our children will grow up watching us check our blood sugars, inject insulin or be connected to a pump, desperately shove sugar into our mouths, and not find any bit of it strange.

And the only time it becomes something they stop and ponder may be when a friend or someone from the outside asks questions about it.  “What’s your mom doing?”  “What’s wrong with her-is she sick?”

They will explain we have diabetes and that we have to check our blood sugars and take medicine for it.  It won’t even be a big deal.

Their reality of our having diabetes should be ours.

Focusing on wishing we didn’t have diabetes only hinders us and distracts us from all the diabetes related decisions we need to make every day.  We need all our energy for managing this thing.

For our children, it just “is” this way.  And for us to gain full acceptance of our diabetes we can try looking at it the same way, it just “is”.  That’s our reality.  Now what are we going to do with it?

Or better yet, what example are we going to give our kids about facing our reality and living life to the fullest?

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