What Makes A Bad Diabetic?

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“What makes a bad diabetic?” was a search term that someone entered in order to land on this website.  When I saw it, several questions popped up in my mind.  First, who asked that question?  Was it a person with diabetes?  Or even worse, was it a healthcare professional?  Was it a diabetic’s loved one or acquaintance?

I’d like to answer this question today.  Of course, it’s my opinion, but it’s also my blog, so here goes:

What makes a bad diabetic?  Bad is one of those ambiguous and overly used and general words that doesn’t do well to describe anything anymore.  But, I know that being termed a “bad diabetic” is a negative and unwanted thing.  Society thinks of a “bad person” as someone who makes decisions that impact themselves or others negatively based on negative intentions.  Because someone who makes decisions that impact themselves or others negatively while having positive intentions would be all of us at some point or other.  And I think that’s called being human.

So how can there even exist a bad diabetic?  How is it possible?  What about someone who has all the intention in the world to purposefully hurt themselves or others?  I would call that crazy.  I mean literally, this type of person is not well.  They are sick, mentally sick.  Because no on wants to have high blood sugars and feel ill and die young.  No one who is well in their mind.

I hope medical personnel never refer to a person as a bad diabetic (I’m sure some do though).  It’s a very ignorant thing to do.  I mean, we might as well assume we’re all bad then because we all sometimes make decisions that hurt us and others.  Who’s exempt?  I hear crickets…

So to the soul who typed in “what makes a bad diabetic?” into their search engine, if you have diabetes please know that if you think you may be a “bad diabetic” I believe that you are just struggling  and in need of support, information, and hope.  Seek help.  If a medical practitioner asked the question, I hope I’ve answered it for you and helped you think a bit differently about it.  And if a loved one or acquaintance of a diabetic asked the question, please support this person and not judge them.  It’s one thing to tell someone you notice they aren’t taking care of themselves and to offer them help and it’s another to say they are “bad”.

There is no such thing as a “bad diabetic”.

Why I Blog Meme

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1.  How long have you been blogging?
It will be 3 years in June.  How time flies!

2.  Why did you start blogging?
I was eager to tell others what I had learned the hard way about diabetes and what was working well for me.  I was eager to share that I’d just learned that even after a decade of high blood sugars, a person could still have healthy children with diabetes!  I was so excited to proclaim this to the world that I started my blog right after my twins were born (during the most busy time of my life).  I also wanted to blog because my hospital experience with the twins and a c-section and preeclampsia and type 1 diabetes was so horrific I felt like I needed to bring awareness on the issue.  Supposedly, close to a million deaths a year occur from hospital mistakes in the US and thanks to my experiences, I believe it.

3.  What have you found to be the benefits of blogging?

The connections with others.  The learning.  There is so much to be learned when reading other blogs and articles.  If you enjoy writing, as I do, then blogging is fun whether anyone reads your words or not.

4.  How many times a week do you post an entry?

3 times a week.  I was posting every day but with being in school, taking care of the house and twins, and other side work, I had to cut back.

5.  How many different blogs do you read on a regular basis?
I vary the blogs so I get around to more people but I probably read about 20 a day.

6.  Do you comment on other people’s blogs?
I used to comment more but now I’m more pressed for time.  I still comment at least once a day though.  Comments mean a lot to me so I assume they mean a lot to others.

7.  Do you keep track of how many visitors you have?  If so, are you satisfied with your numbers?
I check every now and then to see what topics are the most of interest to people.  I’m definitely satisfied with the numbers.  I’m actually quite humbled and honored that so many people would read my blog each day.  I don’t know how really big bloggers handle their thousands of views a day, there must be a bit of intimidating pressure there!  I suppose that’s a good thing though :)

8.  Do you ever regret a post that you wrote?
No, just the wording of it.  The message I’m always trying to portray is something I never have felt like taking back.  Problem is…if something isn’t worded carefully, the message gets skewed!

9.  Do you think your audience has a true sense of who you are based on your blog?

Yes and no.  I think there is a some of me that’s missing.  When I read my posts I feel like I come off really serious, outspoken, nerdy, and “know-it-all” and that is very much a part of me (I must admit lol).  But there is the other part that is really sensitive, goofy, and introverted.  I think I come off as someone who’d love to live in a city where there are museums and tons of great food options, theaters, and cultural events-and that’s true.  But, there is a part of me that’s very at home in nature, in a rural setting, wearing jeans, watching the sunset, being without any technology (for short spurts of course!).  I’m also very girly but also very tomboyish.  Yes, I think a girl can be both and I hope that comes through because only one side coming through is just not the real me.

10.  Do you blog under your real name?
I do.

11.  Are there topics that you would never blog about?
Well, I could write about just about any topic imaginable.  I have opinions on just about everything (which I’m still learning how to control).  But this is a diabetes blog and so I stay out of religion and politics and stuff that isn’t health or blogging related.  I must admit I’m really tempted though!  If I had all the time in the world I’d also have a politics blog, a religion blog, a foodie blog, a fashion blog, an adventure and travel blog…I mean it’s all so fun and interesting! eeek!  It’s good I don’t have all that time because others do it better than I ever could.

12.  What is the theme/topic of your blog?
Obviously diabetes.  And I write about type 1 a lot because that’s what I have.  But I definitely throw in a lot of discussions about nutrition and general wellness and self love and positive thinking.

13.  Do you have more than one blog?  If so, why?

I don’t but I’m supposed to.  I have a health coach website now and I need to blog for it.  I need to take it all easy though because my children are my priority and I’m running the risk of not giving them enough of my time lately.  Patience, Sysy, patience.

Why do YOU blog?  I’m always interested in knowing!

I’ve Never Hid My Diabetes and Here is Why

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DSMA Blog Carnival topic for March:

“Does your employer/school/friends know you have diabetes? Why or why not?”

I have never interviewed for a job without disclosing my type 1 diabetes in the first few minutes of the interview.  I thought I’d make them think “Either she’s crazy or she isn’t afraid of what we’ll think about her”.  I’m a fan of bold moves during interviews-makes things more exciting for everyone.  I know it was a risk but out of about 10 job interviews in my life I’ve only once not gotten the job (in that case I totally bombed the interview).  And I’ve been lucky to have never been fired from a job.

I share this to say that I suspect confidence and demeanor probably do more to create an impression on your employer of reliability and ability than one’s having diabetes.  I might be wrong or I might have been lucky but that’s how it’s always been for me.  I imagine it helps to look relatively healthy and happy as well.  Smiling and assuring them that I take care of myself is something that worked for me (even if that wasn’t all true at the time).

People at school have always known of my diabetes because my mom was very adamant about meeting with all my teachers (even when I was in high school) and looking them in the eye and very seriously explaining what the diabetes thing was all about.  She’d insist that whatever I needed to do like test, eat, use the restroom, should not be questioned.  (Yay mom!)  This made it impossible for me to hide my diabetes even if I had wanted to.  Teachers would be very aware of me.  I’d get my little snacks out and they’d discretely ask me how I was doing.  Or they’d make a little note on my homework or test paper reminding me that if I didn’t feel well or needed something I shouldn’t hesitate to let them know.  It was comforting to have them know.  I believe that it’s possible I got more tutoring help from teachers because of having diabetes but that could just be a figment of my imagination.  If that’s true, then being open about having diabetes sent me extra help, understanding, and support my way.

And then because intense diabetes management has a hard time hiding anyway, I was open with everyone in general about it.  I wanted friends to know about my diabetes.  I happened to be friends with really sweet, caring kids who all had great parents.  That helped a lot.  I was never teased or made to feel bad about my diabetes by a peer.  But then again, I don’t recall ever teasing or bothering anyone about anything, ever (though I did punch a few boys who deserved it).  I think that helped, too.  And if someone did say hurtful things, I can’t remember anything about that right now.  Weird huh?

*Side Note: I completely understand someone’s unwillingness to share their diabetes with others readily.  If my life had gone a little differently with other experiences, had people not been as supportive, or had someone poked fun at me…well, I’m sure I’d done different.

To read other awesome submissions for this topic, click here.

2012 Diabetes Sisters Conference, See You There?

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The 2012 Diabetes Sisters Conference is taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina this May 18-20.

I wrote about my experience last year.  But that post can’t do it justice because in the past year since the conference, I’ve kept in touch with a handful of the women I met and have been SO thankful for the friendships that have resulted.  I would not know these women if it weren’t for this conference and I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to bond with women whose struggle is similar to my own.

This year I’m excited to make this a bit of a family affair.  My husband, Alex has been helping Brandy’s husband Chris (along with Diabetes Daily’s David Edelman) to plan the first ever, Partner’s Perspective Program.  And Alex will definitely be attending the program.  It should be great.  I mean, we know our partners deal with a lot and perhaps aren’t too comfortable with telling us for fear of making us feel bad so I think it’s wonderful that there will be a place for them to meet, relate, and discuss the unique aspects of being with someone who has diabetes and all the issues that arise as a result.  I hope these partners also gain some insight into what we would like from them in certain situations.  I also think it will be a great opportunity for all us women to give our partners a big collective, “thank you!”

I happen to literally have a diabetes sister, my type 1 sister Ana, who will also be attending the conference this year.  She used to be a lot more involved with diabetes stuff, even attending the Children’s Congress in Washington D.C. as a Delegate the same year Diabetes Mine’s, Allison Nimlos went.  (Allison and her husband will be at the conference, by the way.)  Ana also loved her Diabetes Camp experiences as a younger kid and I’m so excited she’ll get to experience this event.

Something I really like about this conference is women with any type of diabetes are welcome.  So though I can obviously relate more to someone who has type 1 when it comes to certain things, I find it really wonderful to learn from a woman with type 2 about what it’s like for her.  I always end up realizing that we are all really in the same boat.  We struggle day to day with making a multitude of choices, choices which impact our health and our lives.  We all have to worry about food and pay a little too much attention to it.  We all check our blood sugar.  We all feel the threat of diabetes complications and we all want to live the best life possible with our diabetes.

That brings me to another awesome benefit of the conference.  The learning experience.  There are a wide range of speakers on an array of relevant topics to women with diabetes.  The speakers are really professional and invested in the topics at hand.  I appreciated getting away from my children long enough to take notes about things like heart disease last year and sit and think long and hard about why I take care of myself instead of worry about it in fleeting bits while chasing my kids around the living room.

That’s the other thing.  It’s a safe environment.  You can laugh, cry, and check your blood sugar without feeling out of place.  Brandy Barnes calling her organization “Diabetes Sisters” is right on the mark.  It’s rather self-explanatory now that I think of it.  If you want to attend, please register quick before it’s too late.

Click here to register and learn more.

I SO hope I see you there!

2012 March and April Resolutions

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It’s Fabulous Friday!  Self love sometimes means getting very disciplined about forming a new habit or completing a goal.  My type 1 sister, Ana and I are doing just that this year:

Ana’s January and February goal was to stretch every day.  She didn’t quite do it BUT her March/April Resolution was to test her blood sugar more often and she just so happened to do that all through January and February which is pretty awesome.  So now she’ll try to keep that up and stretch, too.

My Jan/Feb goal was to complete my little eBook:  “How to Start Your Own Diabetes Blog” and I did!  It really helped me to have a deadline on this and sufficient time to work on it without juggling 10 other goals.

For March and April I want to focus on healthy eating.  It’s not easy, particularly lately that I’m so busy, but I know it makes a huge difference in the way I think, feel, and manage blood sugars.

So what do you want to do by the end of April?

Have a great weekend!

For the Love of Advocacy

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I have always been very nervous about public speaking.  In elementary school I was evaluated for mental retardation because I found it so hard to speak in front of teachers and classmates.  In middle school I used my diabetes as an excuse to not have to give my speech in class “My blood sugar is high, I just can’t do it today.”  In high school, I got really goofy with my public speaking as a way to curb my fear.  I used humor and I always began by saying how nervous I was so people wouldn’t whisper to each other “she seems nervous right?”  It seemed best if they just knew and then rooted for me to not bomb my presentation.

I did several public talks about my diabetes and other topics as a teenager at camps and church youth groups.  I have done presentations for work, twice presenting in Spanish to dozens of male contractors, an intimidating crowd for me.  Each time I was sick to my stomach, trembling, and 100% in love with the idea of speaking in public.  I really enjoy it but it has made me wonder why I like torturing myself.

I think I love it because I am SO moved by public speakers.  So incredibly moved and inspired.  And if there is the slightest chance that I could do a little of that for someone else by sharing my story or struggle or anything, then the nervousness is more than worth it.

I’m hoping to participate in the A1c Champion’s program.  I’m also going to be presenting in public this year in various local workshops about nutrition and other wellness topics to people who want to hear what I have to say.  I hope to be relaxed through it all but maybe also accept that perhaps part of my nervousness is just extreme excitement over doing something I really, really want to do that just might possibly help someone.

So mostly, I think I want to do it for the love of advocacy.  Since I was little, speaking up to help someone has always been one of my favorite things.

Don’t Settle When It Comes to Health

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I know it’s comforting to settle for the current level of health we have, especially when faced with the prospect of making seemingly impossible lifestyle changes.  Yet, I find that at the end of the day, much of our frustrations and grief, directly or indirectly, come from our less than stellar health.

Most days I feel like I can say I’m “pretty healthy”.  There are days though, when I’m more honest with myself, and picky, too.  On these days I realize I have a long way to go to reach the level of health I long for.  When almost everyone we know struggles with some fatigue, extra weight, acne or other skin issues, mental illness, and other nagging health problems, it’s no wonder so many of us tend to feel that it’s just all an unavoidable part of being human.

Many of us have forgotten that it’s possible to feel and look much better than we do.  I used to think that all teenagers got acne.  Then I learned my parents never got acne and their peers rarely did, either.  I didn’t until I was 23 and my horrible diet finally caught up with me.  I used to think that everyone got indigestion after many meals.  Nope.  Some people rarely get indigestion.  Or headaches, stiff joints, mood swings, irritability, hot flashes during menopause.  Some people don’t even have to brush their teeth to avoid cavities, bad breathe, and gum disease.  Can you imagine?  But these select people eat very differently from us.  And in most cases, they do it because they have no other choice.

While these people have to work hard to find and prepare the food they eat, we have to work hard not to eat.  If the only choices we had were vegetables and fish for dinner, we’d just eat it and reap the health benefits.  You and I have a unique situation that is becoming the norm across the globe.  We have thousands of foods and “foods” to select from and then hundreds of dietary theories from which we can subscribe and it’s all very daunting.

Why is there a type 2 diabetes epidemic? I hear a lot of talk that it’s our genes that are somehow making us more and more susceptible coupled with our changing lifestyle habits and environment. And that’s technically true, but do we ever think about what changes our genes in the first place? According to what I’ve learned, a big part of the reason is the food we eat and the food we don’t eat or rather the food our ancestors ate and didn’t eat. With each new generation, eating habits in recent years have included more genetically modified foods and chemicals and when we have children, we aren’t building a person as well as we could because our diet doesn’t provide us the tools with which to properly do this. Teeth aren’t as straight, facial features aren’t as symmetrical, brain cavities aren’t as roomy (affecting hormone production), and so on.  Nutrients are needed to make a human being and bring them healthy into this world. In a nutrient starved world, we’re consistently churning out more and more children who are challenged with early health issues like the predisposition to allergies, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

The good news is that even if we suffered the effects of malnourished ancestors, (remember you can be overweight and malnourished) we can still turn things around for future generations. We can change our eating habits and create healthier children, who will in turn be poised to create healthier children themselves.

We can also change our habits and gain from doing so right now.  Genes get activated much like an on/off switch with what we eat and how we live.  If we carry a predisposition to type 2 diabetes, a certain lifestyle has the potential to keep the switch on off and help us avoid developing type 2 diabetes.  This is not an easy task in this modern world of ours but I think it’s empowering to know what’s possible and to strive towards the best outcome for all of us.  I understand we can’t do this overnight.  Personally, I’ve dedicated a lot of time and energy to trying to begin to change my lifestyle habits.  I can attest to the fact that it takes time and a lot of effort.  But, I do think it’s worth it and doable.

Health isn’t just about comfort and looks.  It’s about humanity, economic stability, peace, creativity, and growth in a society.

There is no blame game here.  None of us is perfect.  We are all allowed our weaknesses.  It’s about taking responsibility for our bodies and choosing to pay attention and learn about what to do to stay well and improve health.  Those of us with extra time or ability to do so can advocate for those who can’t get access to healthy foods and information.  Policies from government need to reinforce healthy lifestyle habits because even the most determined and self willed individual is up against huge obstacles when it comes to a healthy diet and lifestyle and where does that leave the rest of us?

I don’t want to settle for so-so health, when I could have awesome health.  I’m worth awesome health.  And definitely, so are you…and your children, and grandchildren, too.

The Hard Truth About Blood Sugar Management

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Blood sugar success belongs to those who are good at managing their blood sugars, not necessarily those who have good intentions about doing so.

Unfortunate, right?  It doesn’t matter how much you want it or how hard you try.  If you try in the wrong way, you’ll never get the results you’re looking for.  It doesn’t matter if you think about it more than someone else or that you need healthy blood sugars more than someone else.  All that matters is that what you do be effective.

So while this is initially harsh, really it’s quite liberating.  I take it this way:  If we emotionally separate from our diabetes management and rely on our logic and reasoning and focus on results, we are much more likely to reach our goals.  Emotions and diabetes…well, as normal as this duo is, it’s not very conducive to healthy blood sugar management.  Unless those emotions are positive.  But, they’re often not and they just get in the way of what we need to do.

It’s like this with everything in life.  The CEO of a successful company doesn’t have to have the best intentions, he or she just has to be effective.  That’s the kind of CEO we need to be to our diabetes.  One that functions logically, calmly, and effectively.

When I thought of my management more along these terms, I began to realize that discipline was dutiful and that my emotions needed to take a back seat to logic.  Funny thing happened though, my blood sugars behaved much better and that in turn uplifted my mood and provided me more positive emotions.  It was and still is a win-win.

You’re the fabulous ruler of your body and your diabetes.  Don’t you forget it.

DSMA February, Depression in the Winter

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DSMA asked us last month (I know, I’m late!): 

What can we do to help stop depression from hitting our community during the winter months?

Well, this is a good question indeed.

I think first we need to make sure we are getting sufficient Vitamin D.  Next time you get blood work done, have your doctor test your levels.  If they are not in optimum range, get a supplement (or sunlight if that’s possible where you live).  Do not take Vitamin D2.  Take Vitamin D3.  This is really important.  Don’t count on the Vitamin D in your soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk-it’s all D2 and this form does not raise your levels.  So be sure to get D3.  Have your levels checked again in a few months to make sure you’re not under or over supplementing.

Secondly, I find that if I am dealing with a little depression before or during the Holidays, by the time January rolls around, I kind of fall apart.  So I think being proactive is important.  Getting Vitamin D levels at optimal levels by September, exercising a little each day or at least each week through the Holiday season, and making plenty of time to slow down and rest.

For people with diabetes, we tend to go, go, go during December and eat the goodies we want, resulting in higher blood sugars.  Higher blood sugars for a few weeks predisposes us to depression because it really alters our moods.  If you feel sick for a few weeks, it’s naturally going to take a toll and this isn’t limited to your body as your mind also gets affected.  So I think that trying to sustain blood sugar management during this time of year is crucial.

By January, I am tired of working out when it’s cold and then I run into problems with my blood sugars.  I think that finding creative ways to work out indoors is also important because the reality is that I’m not the only one who doesn’t make it out due to the weather.

Being focused on gratitude and possibilities is helpful, too.  Keeping perspective.

Lastly, putting off feelings of depression often makes them worse.  Get help.  See a therapist or counselor, tackle the issues mostly fueling depression, and if needed take something to help you get out of the cycle of lowly feelings.

I’ve struggled with depression in the Winter since I can remember.  This year is the first year I’ve taken Vitamin D year round and I feel much better.  I’m also taking something for anxiety and depression and that has helped immensely as well.  If you’re struggling, tackle the problem and work on healthy lifestyle habits.  You can feel better.

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To read other entries, click here!

Free eBook! How to Start Your Own Diabetes Blog

I wrote this for those of you who want to blog about your diabetes but need a little jumpstart.

Inside I cover these topics:

  • Why Start a Diabetes Blog?
  • What Kind of Blog do you Want?
  • What to Name Your Blog
  • Deciding Whether or Not to Self Host
  • Your Web Hosting Provider
  • Theme Selection
  • Web Analytics
  • How to Hire Help
  • Your First Blog Post and Content
  • Growing Your Blog
  • Beginner SEO Tips
  • and more!

To download this free eBook just click here:

How to Start Your Own Diabetes Blog

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