Category Archives: Worthy Causes

On Meter Accuracy and What to Do in the Meantime…

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While I do give my time and energy when it comes to petitioning for better meter accuracy, I also have adopted a few personal safeguards.  These safeguards are like self imposed regulations that I don’t know how to live without.  I used to live without them but there were a lot of close calls.  And sometimes I forego them and scary things happen.

Meters being a good bit off (up to 20% off is it?) is an important issue to tackle, indeed.  But since it’s the reality of our current situation, we might ask ourselves in case we haven’t already, “What can I do about it?”  I’ll share what I do in case in inspires anyone to answer this question for themselves:

It’s been my experience that the further away from 100 my blood sugar is, the less accurate my meter may be.  Well how about that?  My meter and I mutually agree as to what my “target” is.  Just kidding.  Sort of…

Since low blood sugar comes with clearer symptoms for me and is an immediate emergency situation, I don’t question my meter when it says I’m low.  Though, if I don’t feel low at all, I will try jump in jacks and if I have energy for those I will retest because something strange is going on.  Perhaps leftover fruit juice on my fingertips from the apple I had earlier.

When my blood sugar is within my target range I relax, cheer, do a dance, etc.  But I try to have faith in my meter and assume it’s right on.

When my blood sugar is over 250, I retest.  It hurts me to retest because strips are like gold but I do it because this could happen:

Years ago, I tested 350-something.  When my blood sugar is that high, it’s hard for me to bring down so I usually push it down with a larger than usual bit of insulin.  Well, I gave insulin and then stopped.  I thought about how I didn’t feel 350 high.  So I tested again and saw I was 260.  I tested yet again and was 249.  “OK” I thought, “Now I’ve got a heck of a lot of insulin coming my way”.  Sure enough in 40 minutes I was 98 and dropping fast and still had over an hour of active insulin coming.  Nowadays the times that has happened have been handled differently.  I start to eat after 15 minutes to deflect the steep drop.

But better yet, it really doesn’t happen too often because I test twice.  If the second test is really far off from the first, I test a third time and go with the majority rule.  I would never ever test, see a high number, give insulin, and go to sleep.  Our meters are not built to support that level of responsibility.  Not with our lives.  That is a shame, yes, but that’s where our brain comes in handy.  What can we do to help ourselves against this?

Something a lot of my friends do is to eat low or moderate carb.  They have many reasons for eating low or lowish carb but one of the reasons for many of them is that this way, there is usually not a lot of insulin circulating at any given time.  And the food they eat is going to minimize the likelihood for being high enough to see super large discrepancies in their test results.  This works well for me.  In particular, what works well for me is to be careful with processed food.  I find that avoiding it makes my blood sugars more stable and my life easier because I don’t have super high highs.  And then my meter isn’t as big an issue for me as it could be.

But they should totally work on meter accuracy.  Or at the very least give everyone more strip allowance.

Please.

Pin A Personality!

 

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I pinned Hope Warshaw, who is a member of Diabetes Advocates and author of multiple books for people with diabetes.

 

We need people to see the blue circle and immediately think, “DIABETES”.   The more united we are under one symbol, the better outcome we’ll have in our advocacy and awareness efforts.

The International Diabetes Federation is behind this mission and are encouraging us to “Pin a Personality”

Here are the instructions straight from the IDF:

“Take a picture of a personality with the blue circle pin.

How to choose a pinable personality?

Your personality can be anyone who you think would profile our blue circle to a wider audience or contributes to IDF’s mission to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide.

Your personality could be a local celebrity, a politician, a teacher, a chef, a local councilor or your gym instructor.

Do you have anyone in mind or are you attending an event before November 14? Will you see anyone pinable? Let us know at wdd@idf.org and we will send you some blue circle pins.

Upload your photo to our World Diabetes Day Facebook page or on Twitter using #WDDPin by November 14. Don’t forget a short one liner explaining who your chosen personality is!

Let’s get the blue circle out there and recognized as the global symbol of diabetes!”

 

My blogger friend Stacey graciously pinned a few personalities because yours truly is a wee bit shy about these things…

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Dr. Nat Strand and Stacey with DiabetesSister’s Founder Brandy Barnes.

DiabetesSisters 2012 Conference Recap

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With the lovely Kyra of Myabetic (my favorite diabetes cases).

 

I had a great time at this event and so did my husband, Alex.  My post talking about the conference is up today over at DiabetesMine, check it out!

Diabetes Blog Week 2012, What You Should Know About Diabetes

Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September.  The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”.  Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes.  Have more than one thing you wish people knew?  Go ahead and tell us everything.

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I’m about to leave for the DiabetesSisters Conference and have spent all morning getting things ready and trying to get my two year olds who have never been without at least one of their parents to understand that mommy and daddy will be back in a few days, “we will be back, we promise”.   I can’t say I’m not nervous about this…good luck with em’ Mom and Dad, Ana and Gabriel!

Anyway, so I didn’t have a lot of time for today’s post but I do have something I want to say to the world about diabetes:

You may think you know a lot about diabetes.  You may think you know the truth about diabetes.  You may think your grandmother’s diabetes is like my diabetes.

This is the worst thing you can do to us people with diabetes.

What we want is for you to understand that diabetes is wildly complex, varies very much between person to person, and therefore you can never know all there is to know about it.  And what you think you know about a person’s diabetes is probably not accurate.

So just be humble and cautious and open to a person with diabetes telling you what their diabetes really is to them.

Then you’ll know.

Sincerely,

A girl with type 1 diabetes.

2012 Orange:Will Diabetes Awareness Walk

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Built into the DiabetesSisters Conference is the Orange:Will Diabetes Awareness Walk taking place on Sunday May 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM in front of the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh,  NC.

Taken from the website where you can register and learn more:

“What is ORANGE:WILL?

The orange:will campaign was started by DiabetesSisters in 2010 to raise awareness of the unique issues faced by women with diabetes and to establish orange as the official color of women’s diabetes.  Most people are unaware of how different diabetes is for women, so this campaign is our way of acknowledging those differences and educating the public about them.

You can help by joining us for the walk, bringing friends/family members/co-workers to the Walk, forming a team, or raising funds to support our cause.  Everyone who raises at least $40 will receive a souvenir Walk t-shirt to wear at the event.  The top three individual fundraisers and the top team will receive special prizes – such as an iPad, custom-fitted tennis shoes, designer sunglasses, etc.  Stay tuned for more detailed information about prizes.

**LOCAL & NATIONAL VENDORS WILL BE ON SITE FROM 7:30am-10:00am on MAY 20th.”

If you’re going to the Diabetes Sisters Conference in Raleigh next week, please make sure to register so they have a proper head count!

If you’re going to be in the Raleigh area next week…join us for the walk!  The more, the better as media will be there taking note of the event!  Again, click here to register!

My husband, Alex and I will be there, we hope to see ya!

Peer to Peer Support Reigns

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My type 1 sister Ana’s diabetes themed artwork-you can probably guess what this is, right?

 

I definitely don’t think of myself as an “A1c Champion”.  I just think of myself as someone who finally stumbled upon what works and what doesn’t for myself in the realm of diabetes management because of my being excruciatingly tired of the alternative and unwilling to settle in life.

By keeping healthy and by being rather disciplined with my diabetes management, an opportunity opened up for me to interview for a program called, A1c Champions.  This program sends people with diabetes to lead discussions with other people with diabetes.  Peer to peer support is a brilliant idea and basically my motivation to start this blog in the first place.  So to be able to get out there and talk to people face to face, tell my story, and show them that it’s never too late to turn things around is like a dream come true.  I’m happy to report that I passed my three interviews and will be training later this year.

It’s a dream come true because I wish I had experienced this opportunity as a teenager with uncontrolled diabetes.  I would have loved to see someone with diabetes come talk to me about how they manage to stay healthy and how they too, have struggled.  I did have one experience like this but this woman said she always had taken great care of herself and this made me feel like I couldn’t relate to her.  I also had plenty of people try to cheer me up and motivate me but none of them had diabetes and therefore their words didn’t have the weight attached.  I didn’t feel understood and therefore it was like their words weren’t meant for me.

So to be able to talk to someone who is where I used to be and tell them that I really understand where they’re at and have been there is something I really want to do.  For the little kid inside me.  For the sake of helping others avoid the years of suffering that I recall having.  For those who don’t feel empowered about their diabetes.  For those who feel like hopeless failures.  Before the fabulous “You Can Do This” project came about I wrote one reason on my site for wanting to blog and it was, essentially, to spread the message to others with diabetes that, “You can do this!”  I think that message is extremely powerful and empowering.  And more so when coming from one’s peers.

So if you’re interested in becoming an A1c Champion, check out their website here.

And if you haven’t already participated in the “You Can Do This” Project that Kim Vlasnik launched last year, then I highly encourage you to do it now.  Do it for someone who sees themselves in you.  Or if you need the therapy, watch videos and take comfort in knowing you are definitely NOT alone.

Sugarless Tuesdays

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Jessica Apple of A Sweet Life.org has started something that I would love to encourage all of you to consider.  Sugarless Tuesdays.  I asked Jessica “why?” and this is what she had to say:

“Why Sugarless Tuesdays?

Most of us have heard of Meatless Mondays, a movement to reduce meat consumption.  I’m not against Meatless Mondays, but I don’t think meat consumption is the main problem with America’s diet.  I’m someone who feels deeply about animal rights and doesn’t like the idea of eating animals, but I believe humans have evolved to do so.  What has no place in the human diet are foods with added sugar.  Sugar is essentially toxic to our bodies.  For diabetics it’s immediately toxic and for everyone else it’s something that slowly causes illness.  Since I’m passionate about trying to help people with diabetes – and everyone at risk for diabetes (which is almost everyone in America!) – I decided to start the Sugarless Tuesdays movement.  I think that anyone who gives up sugar one day a week will see how easy it is and find themselves giving up sugar many days a week.  Additionally, once you start to think about not eating sugar, you begin to realize just how much sugar you’ve been eating.

Sugar consumption isn’t just connected with obesity.  It’s also connected to heart disease and cancer.

Who could benefit?  Everyone.  It’s the easiest most obvious path to better health.  Just one day a week with no sugar.”

Thanks Jess!  I totally agree.  In my health coaching work I’ve been working on creating a presentation on the topic of sugar consumption and it’s effects on our health.  And the research I’ve encountered about sugar is downright frightening.  Read this article on it by Gary Taubes.  Excellent stuff.

Did you know sugar qualifies as an addictive substance?

According to Joshua Rosenthal in his book, “Integrative Nutrition”, It’s addictive because:

A, If you quit cold turkey, you will endure withdrawal symptoms.  You’ll feel similar symptoms quitting sugar, caffeine, and cigarettes.

And B, a little taste usually makes you want more.

This doesn’t mean we deny ourselves any sweets.  The problem is the way too many of us consume too much sugar.

Sometimes when we talk about “sweets in moderation” we are still consuming way more sugar than what is healthy for the human body.  So try out Sugarless Tuesdays today and see if you feel better at the end of the day.  See if your mood was impacted at all.  Try reducing your sugar intake on other days of the week.  Do you find you miss it like crazy?  Don’t fret.  Awareness leads to all things good.  If you come to the conclusion you are addicted to sugar, join us on Sugarless Tuesdays and then maintain an awareness for the rest of the week and reduce your sugar at a really slow pace so that you don’t have to go through tough withdrawal symptoms.

I will leave you with this:

Dr. Nancy Appleton’s book, Lick the Sugar Habit lists a ton of ways excess sugar can hurt our health.  Here are just 10 of sugar’s effects according to her:

1. It feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder and stomach.

2. It can cause autoimmune diseases such as: arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis.

3. It greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida yeast infections.

4. It can increase the size of your liver by making your liver cells divide and it can increase the amount of liver fat.

5. It can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney such as the formation of kidney stones.

6. It can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

7. It can cause hormonal imbalances such as: increasing estrogen in men, exacerbating PMS, and decreasing growth hormone.

8. Your body changes it into 2 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch.

9. It has the potential of inducing abnormal metabolic processes in a normal healthy individual and to promote chronic degenerative diseases.

10. It upsets the mineral relationships in your body causing chromium and copper deficiencies and interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.

This is not about fear mongering but about using information as power.  And this isn’t just for diabetics, this is for everyone.  We can do this together.  Click here to like Sugarless Tuesdays on Facebook!

Raw Milk Experiment

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My family and I live in Virginia where it’s illegal to buy and sell raw milk.  However, clever people have found a legal loophole.  The law states a person can consume the milk from their own cow.  So we have bought what is called a cow share.  It allows us to legally purchase raw milk because we’re just drinking what our dear cow provides.

Don’t worry, I researched this farm, talked to people who’ve been drinking their milk for years, and even inquired into the health and total treatment of the cows.  Safety is very important with stuff like this.  Totally unrelated, but I love cows.  Such gorgeous lugs :)

Anyway, why am I trying raw milk?

First of all, I’ve become aware that much nutrition is destroyed in the pasteurization process.  Some don’t agree but I’ve found more researchers agreeing than not agreeing.  Milk is pasteurized to kill anything harmful in it.  However, a cow that is healthy, that eats it’s proper diet (grass, not grains!), is treated with love and care, and is milked under strict sanitation guidelines yields safe, healthy milk.  And that appeals to me.

Also, there have been too many studies for my comfort talking about a link between pasteurized milk and type 1 diabetes in children.  I have two such children and therefore take this information very seriously.

Raw milk proponents say the benefits include:

-More Vitamin A, C, and D

-More readily absorbed calcium and iron, Vitamin B12, and B6

-More minerals, including Iodine and Folate

-Protection against asthma and allergies in children (pasteurized milk has been strongly associated with the increase in asthma, allergies, ADD, auto immune diseases and more.)

(View source for the above info.)

My husband grew up in a rural area and drank milk straight out of the cow’s (and goat’s) teets and he literally is the healthiest person I know.  Literally.  All he’s ever had to deal with is a cold and because this is all he’s ever experienced, he is severely annoyed by something as simple as a runny nose.  (Lucky…)  Is there a connection?  I don’t know but I’m intrigued.

I’ve been drinking the milk for a week now and all I can say is tastes amazing.  It has no strong flavor whatsoever.  It just tastes like creamy heaven.  One of the best parts is it doesn’t taste like stinky plastic because it hasn’t been sitting in a plastic container for weeks or months.

I will let everyone know if I notice any benefits to our family in the next weeks/months.  I’m not looking for any, instead, I’m trying to tie us closer to things as they come in nature-keeping safety as a priority.  I figure that’s the healthiest way to go.

Anyone out there drink raw milk or have any opinions on it?  I’m very interested to hear!

Your Help Needed for Diabetes Art Project!

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As most of you know, the illustrator of the site is my youngest sister Ana, who has had type 1 diabetes for 18 years now.  She is a Junior at James Madison University studying studio art.  Ana is wondering if we, the DOC could help her out for an art project involving diabetes advocacy.  She needs:

-One statement describing one of the hardest things about living with diabetes.

-One statement describing something positive that diabetes has taught you.

-Years with diabetes or how diabetes affects you (if you don’t have it yourself).

-Indicate if you would like your statements to be anonymous, no last name, etc.

-Handwritten would be great but not required!

Send to:

Ana Morales/  802 Orlando Ct. /   Roanoke VA, 24019

Also, if you don’t want to hand write and mail, then email your statements to:  moraleam@dukes.jmu.edu   so that Ana can print them out and compile.

Let’s help Ana tell the world a little about diabetes through art!

XOXO

The Other Health Issue That’s Always On My Mind

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The wonderful DOC isn’t my only online support group.  I also frequent support groups for people with food allergies.  I worry about my diabetes throughout the day as needed.  But since my daughter was 8 months old and diagnosed with strong peanut and egg allergies via skin and blood testing, diabetes has often been in the back of my mind.

I never wanted to be the crazy mom that wipes her children’s hands all the time when out in public.  I never intended to worry about another child holding my child’s hand.  I didn’t imagine I’d have to meticulously inspect every morsel of food before it passed my daughter’s lips.  I never imagined packing so much food every time we go out.  I thought our family would avoid restaurants in order to save money, not to save our child from getting sick.  And I thought we’d never go to fast food places because they are junk food rather than because they are unsafe.

Many trips out of our apartment result in some kind of itchy rash, despite the fact that she never eats what she is allergic to.  See, it’s not like I have to just avoid feeding her peanuts and eggs.  That part is easy.  I have to avoid her touching these foods, or touching someone who touched these foods, or touching a surface that someone touched who touched these foods, or even getting a kiss on the cheek from someone who had these foods earlier that day.  And do you know how many processed foods have peanut and eggs in them?  Or are manufactured on the same line as peanut and eggs?  Most processed foods.  I know, I’ve read all the labels and sadly placed the item back on the shelf.  Not because I wanted to purchase it, but because it’s one more item that is out in the world that adds to the threat.

The other day at the library a little boy pulls out a PB&J sandwich as he plays with the toys and books and I have to grab my kids, who are kicking and screaming (and about 35 pounds each) and leave.  I know they don’t understand so I can’t really explain.  I just have to keep them away.

Often, we’ll get home from a store and my daughter will be busy scratching frantically at her whole body.  There are noticeably red, raised rash welps.  She gets horrible diaper rashes every month that make her cry and scream in pain,  When she calms down, I look at her lovingly, trying to disguise my pain, and she just smiles.  And that smile makes me want to burst into tears.  I worry that when she’s older and aware of all she is missing out on, the baseball game, the birthday party, the library egg painting Easter party, snacks with friends, and the restaurants…I worry she won’t be smiling all the time the way she does now.  I worry she’ll go through something similar to what I went through.  Being diagnosed with type 1 as a child in the 90’s and using the older insulin, I had to live a very strict routine of diabetes management, meals, and snacks between the ages of 11 and 17.  And of course, I felt very different.  And of course, it’s hard on a kid.  It can be an empowering lesson and it was for me but I don’t want her to have to go through that.

Or her twin brother.  He’s had to live like her because of their constant contact with each other and he doesn’t have any food allergies. We’re all in this together as a family.  In fact, my mom is now a pro when it comes to cooking safely for us when we come over.  My dad replaced his beloved peanut butter with peanut free almond butter.  My family brushes their teeth and washes their hands and clean all the surfaces before we come over.  It’s our new normal.

This is a diabetes blog and so I have to say I’m incredibly thankful I’m writing about her food allergies as opposed to her having diabetes.  I am so thankful my kids don’t have diabetes.  I really want you to know that.  But, I am aware of how our lives have been impacted because of food allergies.  We’ve been scared to go places or see people as a result.  We’ve had to deal with people not understanding the severity of her situation in the least bit.  And because she was diagnosed at such a young age, there was no available epi pen for her weight range so we had to completely avoid scenarios where she might be exposed because we wouldn’t have an epi pen with which to give us enough time to make it to the hospital if an emergency situation came up.

So if you come across a “paranoid” or “overprotective” parent of a child with severe or life-threatening food allergies, please be kind and sensitive.  They don’t want to be that way but there is no other way to be when you love your child.  People do die from food allergies.  Those of you with diabetes or with children who have diabetes, I know you totally understand.

Thanks for listening.

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