The 5 Stages of Grief Apply to Diabetes


You know how when someone dies, a loved one often goes through stages of grief which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance?

I think that when someone gets a diabetes diagnosis, they go through those same phases.  No one has died in this case but something has-life as we know it.  Our lives matter a lot to us, there is no denying that.  So when a doctor informs us that we have a disease that will last the rest of our lifetime, requires constant monitoring and care, changes to habits and routines we may have in place, and causes all sorts potential health problems that bring about inconvenience and pain…well, it’s not unlike experiencing the death of a loved one.

I’m not saying it’s as painful as experiencing the death of a loved one.  I’m just saying the stages of grief are the same.  For example, when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11, my first inclination was to be like…”noo……really?”  I quickly got angry and though I didn’t show it, I know it because my diary at the time has a page on it where I wrote, “Damn diabetes, I hate you!”  The letters are made out in straight lines and you can tell I pressed down really hard, accentuating each stroke with multiple slashes from my ball point pen.  Next came bargaining.  I grew up in a place where almost everyone is religious and so friends would take me to their churches in hopes that their pastor could “cure me”.  I went along because deep down I wished someone could.  I also didn’t even think a single cuss word between the ages of 12 and 14 in an effort to be “good” enough for God to cure.

Then came depression.  This stage lasted a long, long time.  Many years in fact.  There are catalysts that move us out from the first few stages of grief.  We can’t physically handle staying in shock and in denial for too long.  We only have so much adrenaline and reality is a very persistent nag.  Anger usually leads to self-destruction and it wears us out until we realize it doesn’t improve anything.  It doesn’t take long to figure out that bargaining isn’t going to cure us.  But depression is a disease.  It eats at our brains and takes away our strength every day.  Depression literally changes the chemicals in our brains.  So people often hang out at this stage for a long time.  I was no different.

Acceptance.  It’s so empowering, so forgiving.  When we reach this stage a sense of peace comes over us.  The thick cloud of our diagnosis lifts and we are able to hope, be inspired, and dream about our future.  Life isn’t a drag anymore and our diagnosis might actually do the unexpected-bear gifts.  We can move forward.  We see potential and possibilities.  We know we are going to be ok.

If you’re a diabetic and haven’t reached the final stage of acceptance, please know that you can.  You just have to give yourself time to heal and time to learn about what your diabetes management requires.  Nothing is wrong with you for grieving the loss of the life you once knew.  And you have permission to move ahead when you’re ready.  Get help for the tough days and look forward to the better ones.

They are coming.

Practicing Material Unattachment


In our household, my son is normally the one to break things.  I call him “Henri the Menace”.  He really is.  No.  Really.  He is.  Anyway, yesterday however, my daughter Aurora had a stellar, record-breaking day.  She threw a ceramic decorative mask on the marble fireplace mantle, she smashed a cordial liquor glass that I was letting her look at on the wall just for kicks, and when I let her put on my necklace she ripped it in half like the Hulk would.  Oh, she also accidentally dove off my bed head first but luckily she’s fine.  That’s what happens when you smile at yourself in the mirror while jumping on the bed, chica.

Each time something broke I had to close my eyes and take a deep breathe.  Obviously it wasn’t her fault I let her handle any of these objects but a flutter of achiness stirred in me because of the loss of my things.  I had to really focus on how these objects are just that and how really, I’m just happy no one smashed their head or any other body part anywhere.

And so yesterday reminded me how it’s good not to feel too attached to our material belongings.  They bring us pleasure but they are no where near as important as the people in our lives.  It’s scary to think how we might guard a special piece of jewelry more than a loved one’s heart, but we often do.

So today, let’s just remember that things are just things.  But I will not be letting that little girl anywhere near my meter or insulin vial.  That would just be asking for it.

Happy Friday!

Closing the Kitchen


Recently, my kids have gone from eating their brown rice and veggies, quinoa with garlic and ginger, and organic poultry, fish, and meats to wanting only fruit and dairy and grains.  They’d probably want coke all the time except that stuff has never passed their lips so they don’t know what they are missing.  And that’s why they prefer the starchier, sweeter stuff.  They’ve had it and they’re not naïve anymore to the big world of junk food.  I should have kept them in the dark…

Anyway, my only hope is to have them be hungry enough at meal time so that they’ll eat what I have to offer.  I don’t plan on being cruel and force feeding them what they don’t like.  But I need them not to eat processed foods and I want to avoid scenarios where they tire me out to the point of desperately feeding them crappy sugar laden breakfast cereal “Fine, you win!  Just stop the whining!” (yes, it’s happened).

I’m going to close the kitchen.  I grew up hearing that children require snacks in between meals because they’re growing and they get hungry more often.  But, I have been learning more and more about nutrition from experts and many of them hold the opinion that we should be hungry before meals and we shouldn’t snack all doggone day-and this includes children.  And while I don’t think snacking is a sin, I do think that for me and my kids it’s become an inconvenient appetite destroyer.

I try to make every meal and not pull it out of a box.  I also eat different foods than my kids.  And my husband eats different foods from me and the kids.  So by the time dinner rolls around I’ve made seven different meals and cut up fruit or vegetables or cheese for snacks and it just hit me that I practically live in the kitchen.  Not cool.  I grew up hearing the whole “pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen” saying and swore I’d NEVER spend too much time in the kitchen.  In fact, when I was pregnant, I looked down to find myself barefoot in the kitchen, freaked out, and quickly got some shoes on my swollen feet.  You can say feminism has scarred me.  Whatever.  Point is, I hate looking at food all day you know?  It says, “eat me!” and so all day I’m fighting the temptation to eat the kid’s whole wheat pasta or my husband’s rice and beans.  Or I’m sneaking in a bite of food here and there and realizing that one bite of food is enough to throw blood sugars and weight loss efforts.  It’s exhausting.

So I’m closing the kitchen.  I’m going to make sure the kids eat a good breakfast and then I’ll have my grapefruit or avocado or whatever I’m having and then kitchen closed.  It will reopen for lunch and then it will close.  It will reopen for dinner and then it will close.  My kids are used to a bottle of milk or coconut milk or almond milk before bed.  I’ll leave them that luxury.  But snacks in between meals?  Nope.  I need them hungry enough to eat what I know is best for them to eat.  I mean who’s in charge here?  Me or them?

Ok, I’ve adequately pep talked myself.  Let’s do this!

(I’ll keep you posted on our progress…or lack thereof :)

Do any of you stick to three meals and no snacks during the day?  If so, how does it work for you?

Thoughts on the Paleo Diet


Thoughts on the Paleo Diet

I’ve been pondering the paleo diet lately. Not necessarily considering it, although I probably eat a diet people would consider a paleo-like diet. I’ve been thinking about it because it’s getting more popular. The diet plan presumes that humans evolved to best handle foods that were available during the paleolithic era which lasted 2.5 million years according to wikipedia. Supposedly, we’ve been incorporating grains into our diets for only 10,000 or so years. Therefore it is assumed that our bodies are not equipped to thrive on grains because we haven’t had enough time to evolve to assimilate them. If we’re going with this evolutionary train of thought…I wonder if the Okinawan’s of Japan who are some of the longest living and healthy people on the planet do so well on brown rice and vegetables because people have existed in Asia longer than people have existed in say, South America, and therefore had more time to get used to assimilating brown rice. Maybe we evolve faster than we think? Blacks and Hispanics eating the standard American diet suffer certain health consequences sooner and more frequently than Caucasians. Is this because of the predominance of wheat in the diet? And the fact that Caucasians mostly hail from Europe, where wheat has been eaten for longer than it has in Africa, South America, Central America and Mexico? Do you see where I’m going with this?

If I follow the idealogoy of the paleo diet, I get lost you see? Because it’s based on what we are not sure of yet-evolutionary stuff. We don’t know how long it takes us to evolve to foods but it seems like it’s been happening in the last 10,000 years because Caucasian Americans don’t have the same risk for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease as African American and Hispanic Americans do.  Or maybe not?  I don’t know enough.

I appreciate how the diet emphasizes whole foods and omits processed ones. The thing is, if a paleo dieter can’t afford or isn’t able to find organic animal products, then they are consuming what our ancestors certainly didn’t consume- chemicals and hormones and toxins galore. That’s where I think the greatest downfall of the diet is. The modern implications of it. Back then meat, poultry, eggs were pure. Now it’s all genetically modified to the point of almost needing to be called something else because it’s been changed at the most basic level.

That said, I do try to eat things I don’t pull out of a box, don’t have to cook, or need to pick up the phone to order.  And that’s often at the heart of paleo, so I do very much appreciate that.  Oh, and the fantastic blood sugars I get from eating paleo-like…priceless.

Anyway I was just thinking aloud :)

Any of you have experience with this diet?  What do you think?

Putting My Health First


I’ve been on a journey the past few years to put my health first.  I’m the type that will neglect myself when in the presence of others and It takes a major toll over time.  I was interviewed by She Knows about my experience with parenting and diabetes and what I’ve learned the hard way through this experience.  I’d be really honored if you read it:

My Mom Story at She Knows

And just as a reminder…do something nice for yourself today, you deserve it!

Have a great weekend!

Updates and Random Thoughts


Isn’t that the cutest little turtle?


Note to Self About Grocery Shopping

Sysy, for the love of God, test before doing groceries.  The other day,  I scratched my head in wonder as I watched the check out lady scan my glucose tablets, ice cream, chocolate, and cookies.  How’d all that sugar jump into my cart?  Then I got in the car and tested 52.  Ahh…survival instincts.

Update on Ana’s Diabetes Art Project

We asked for used strip donations the other day so Ana could put them together into a piece of art that would simultaneously work as a strong piece of diabetes advocacy. But oops, we didn’t realize that used strips are hazardous waste material. It’s unlikely, but still possible, that strips can transmit diseases and such. I forgot because strips are such a constant and casual part of life. We see them all over the place and just pick them up and toss them in the trash. Really, we’re expected to carefully dispose of them in tightly sealed containers along with sharps. I don’t carefully dispose of sharps, either. Oops. Do you?

Anyway, don’t send donations for strips! Those of you who offered to do it-THANK YOU so much for your support, it means SO much that you were willing to help out!  Ana will find another way to create a work of diabetes art. If you have any ideas, she’d love to hear them. I’m excited to see what she comes up with and I know that no matter what she does, it will still be awesome. Now whatever she uses will just be more sanitary to work with. Hehe…

Oh and those of you who offered advice on this project, legal information, and who offered to send strips are all entered in a drawing to win a prize.  We really appreciate all the support.  Stay tuned for that!

It’s Strip Rationing Time

My mail order pharmacy is taking FOREVER to get my strips to me ( like weeks upon weeks) so I’ve been forced to ration strips for 2 weeks. I stopped my initial reaction precisely at “grrrggghhh” and thought about how right now, some kid, somewhere is walking several miles on bare feet to a tiny clinic where they will check their blood sugar and administer one insulin shot for the entire day. It’s grossly insufficient isn’t it?

I like to test around 8 times a day. I have realized that with a lot of discipline, I can get very similar results and test only 4 times a day. And instead of whining about how it isn’t fair, I’m thinking that I’m really lucky to have these 4 tests each day. I try to use them wisely and all my other actions throughout the day are well thought out and planned for blood sugar stability. And when thinking about what others have to go through to barely survive, really, it’s just an honor to attempt to ration my strips in the most graceful way possible (and with the least amount of cursing).

Then when my strips come in I’ll be even more grateful for the flexibility and freedom they provide me.

Oh my gosh, they just arrived to my door!  YES!  I feel like I just won a prize.  It’s crazy how important these little strips are to us, isn’t it?

New Ads

On the right hand column of this blog you will notice a new ad and another one coming soon.  I’m getting a small fee for posting these which I am reinvesting back into the site to make sure it’s fast enough and not a burden to you all and to make sure I can afford to keep the site alive.  I hope the ads aren’t a bother.  I thank you for your readership and fabulous support.

Have a great Wednesday!



Your Used Strips are Needed for Art Project!


Happy Monday, everyone!

As you all probably know by now, the illustrator of the site is my type 1 sister, Ana.  She also writes posts from time to time but mostly she is super busy at James Madison University studying studio art and art education and taking an insane number of credits.

Ana needs our help for a diabetes related art project for school.  She determines that she needs thousands of strips for this project.  We are asking for donations of your used strips (don’t worry she’ll be working with gloves!)

Please, please, please start saving your strips and mail them to her by March 1st.  Please include the amount of time that it took you to use the number of strips you are sending (a week, a month, etc).

This will be SO appreciated and can’t be done without your help.  When you’re ready to mail email me at and I’ll send you her mailing address.

Once Ana receives your strips we’ll be entering you into a running for a special prize that one lucky winner will get mailed to them :D

Thanks so much in advance!  Hopefully Ana will get enough donations and will be able to do the project.  I’ll be sure to post it when she’s done!


Ana’s project idea for this has been cancelled because we’ve realized that used strips are bio hazardous waste and it’s not a good idea to ask others to mail it in.  In fact, mailing it in certain states is considered illegal SO Ana will be choosing another diabetes related idea for her art project, we’ll keep you posted on what it is!  Thank you to everyone who was so kind and willing to help out! :D


Have No Fear…

It’s Fabulous Friday and I just want to send out this reminder to everyone through my sister, Ana’s art:


“Have no fear of perfection…you’ll never reach it.” -SD

Well that takes a load off! lol

Have a great weekend!

The Case for the 5 Minute Shower



(3 minutes if you’re a guy)

This isn’t to tell you to speed it up and save the whales.  It’s a tip I’ve learned recently by default.  You see, I moved to the apartments I live at almost two years ago.  We quickly discovered there was only enough hot water for a 4-5 minute shower.  I had to adapt or die.  Ok not die but you know it’s harsh to be sprayed by freezing cold water when you haven’t even rinsed the shampoo out of your hair yet.

I realized that we often spend a lot of time in the shower.  Most of us lead pretty busy lives and can use to save time wherever we can.  I have learned that I can get an extra thing done during the day by saving 10-15 minutes from my shower.

Many of us with diabetes have dry skin.  It’s a side effect of not having perfectly normal blood sugars.  Showering for an extended period of time in warm water just dries our skin out even more.  And unless you’re an athlete that takes a warm bath to soak sore muscles, or do it for some kind of therapy, there isn’t a really good reason to spend so much time in warm water.  Ok, ok, unless it’s like chicken soup for your soul or something and then by all means, do it.

At the very end of my shower the water gets cold.  I’ve learned to take this on for my benefit.  This change up on one’s body, particularly on one’s legs, boosts circulation, improves the appearance of skin, and becomes a healthy lifetime routine.  It’s short term pain, long term pleasure.  Since doing this, my legs and feet have felt better, I swear.  They used to feel kind of tingly and heavy in the shower and now, because I’m not in there very long, and because the cool water at the end does it’s magic, I don’t feel any of the discomfort I used to feel.  A plus is to rinse hair in cold water before getting out.  It closes the hair shaft and makes it shinier.

My entire routine involves soaping up, shampooing, shaving, scrubbing my skin all over with an olive oil, lemon, and sugar mixture, and then rinsing.  And voila.  A quick 5 minutes that improves circulation, moisturizes skin, and gets the job done.

DSMA Blog Carnival January 2012


I’m barely squeezing in DSMA’s Blog Carnival entry for this month which asks the question:

What is the one thing you are looking forward to this year?

My formal answer is…my health coaching business!  It fits into my life and personality perfectly.  And though I love being with my kids, I do think I’m one of those moms that needs a part time thing to stay sane.  Not to mention, the way the economy is these days…I can totally get why both parents often work to make ends meet.  We are no different.

Now for my secret, locked away answer. My kids will be turning three in June and I look forward to them talking.  By now, yes, they are technically behind.  But, luckily, that’s the only set back that can be observed AND…I feel like it’s right around the corner.  My son talks all the time only you really can’t make out much of what he says.  It’s time for him to stop using “twin gibberish” or “twinspeak” and start using English or Spanish.  He knows both.  Son, just pick one.  I beg you.

Christmas Day 2011 134

My daughter on the other hand doesn’t say much.  She likes to make a lot of noises.  She can imitate any noise (or action for that matter, she could be a very talented mime).  She can do any animal sound, even an elephant (an advanced one, in my opinion) and the other day I heard her repeating her leaptop’s alphabet sounds.  She can pronounce the sound for every letter in the alphabet.  I’ve heard her say well over 50 words by now.  But she doesn’t like repeating them.  It’s like she doesn’t want to talk, yet.  Weird, because mom is such a blabbermouth and clearly, it’s so much fun.  Anyway, I think she has a pretty wild sense of  humor.  Yesterday for example, Alex encouraged her to say “mama” instead of “papa” when calling out to me.  She can say “mama” and she does say it, but she thinks it’s funny to say “papa” because I’m like, “No! I’m mama!”  We asked her to say “mama” quite a bit and you know what she did?  She spent the rest of the evening calling me “Sysy”, instead.  You see what silliness I’m dealing with here?

Christmas Day 2011 145

Anyway, the reason that this is something I’m really looking forward to is not just because it’s convenient and fun to have them talk but mostly because deep…deep down I sometimes wonder if my kids don’t talk yet because of my having diabetes or not breast feeding them long enough or not feeding them the right stuff or just doing something wrong.  I usually understand that this happens to plenty of kids and I know it’s common in twins, but on certain days, I find myself scared that somehow I’ve ruined them.  Perhaps with toddler TV shows or by somehow being an inadequate mom.

It’s often an asset to be the type that analyzes situations to death but when it comes to parenting I think it drives a person nuts.  Surprisingly, it’s been helpful to write this post out.  It has helped me realize I just want to focus on making the most of this year by doing things with them like finger painting, howling at the moon, running in the grandparent’s yard, playing with cousins, dancing on the balcony when it rains, and hopefully, when they are ready, having long conversations…about anything.

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