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

10 Things I’m Doing this Winter to Avoid Diabetes Burnout

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This applies to this Winter 2011-2012 because last year, boy did I have burnout.  I just wanted to clarify that.  Also, I have had days where I deal with burnout.  However, these don’t melt into weeks and really affect my blood sugars too much.  I always have higher blood sugars in the Winter because of how I despise cold weather and the way it dries me out.  Somehow that really impacts my mood.  Being outside with fresh air and Vitamin D from the sun are all so important to me.  I also don’t stay as active since I am so paralyzed from the cold.  I’m not sure when I’ll get over that…

Anyway, here are 10 Things I’m Doing this Winter to Avoid Diabetes Burnout:

10.  Look ahead into the future.

I’ve tried to focus on enjoying the present but also spent plenty of time day dreaming about what is to come and then taking steps to prepare for those things.  Getting one step closer to the things I’m excited about gives me energy and hope.

9.  Exfoliate.

Two to three times a week, I take olive oil and sugar and a little lemon juice and make a quick sugar scrub.  I use it all over in the shower including my face and lips (be gentle there) and it really helped me avoid the eczema patches that I tend to get each Winter.  Skin also feels silky smooth afterwards and it gives me a refreshing sense of wellness.

8.  Cuddle up in bed and read something inspiring.

It’s ideal that when it’s cold and dark, we slow down a little, eat warm foods, and recharge after the crazy holidays.  I also find that too much social media can sometimes overwhelm us a bit and disconnecting from all the stimulation can do some good.  So lose yourself in a book, make yourself some tea, put on warm socks, and repeat as necessary.

7.  Spring cleaning a little early.

We all get a sense of elation newness when Spring arrives and we clean our entire home.  But this year I did it right before Spring.  It gave me an indoor project, which is where I want to be when it’s cold, and I look forward to welcoming Spring with a clean house.  So that’s what I’ve been working on lately.  Getting old stuff thrown out, going through clothes and getting rid of what I don’t really use.  You get my drift.  The great part is that when it’s nice out, I am all done with my indoor projects.  All I have left is my kitchen pantry.  Need to stop putting it off…

6.  Seek help.

This means many different things to different people.  For me, it meant to get help with my anxiety and even depression issues that started creeping late last year.  I feel and function much better now and am reminded how important it is to deal with issues like these head on.  Ignoring stuff like this only fuels diabetes burnout.

5.  Update your look.

Women often cut and color their hair a lot because it gives us a feeling of fresh and new and exciting.  I hate to admit it but it’s true.  I got a few new additions to my wardrobe via Ebay and then got some lip stain and Elnet Hairspray and frankly, I feel better.  Don’t judge.  (By the way, Elnet is magic.)

4.  I worked a little on the outside, now let’s nourish the inside.

I have been meditating for the past few months.  I do a 5 minute meditation several times a day (so easy).  And I do an hour meditation a few times a week.  It’s amazing.  I can’t say I’ve reached “enlightenment” but I have gained an awareness and focus for my goals this year that I had no idea was possible.  I really recommend spending some quiet alone time to just experience nothingness.  It’s so much more than nothing.  hehe.

3.  See people more.

I’ve written about how I’ve been pretty much isolated the past 3 years since getting pregnant with my twins.  As a result, I got lonely and anxious about spending time with others.  So I’ve been making an effort to see more people, invite them over, and so on.  It’s been so helpful.  So much joy comes into one’s life this way.

2.  Lower carbs.

I’ve been heading in this direction for so many years.  Only now do I accept for myself that because I have type 1 diabetes and cannot metabolize carbs, limiting them is what I must do to avoid wild blood sugar swings.  I know that “I can eat that” and grains are a part of a “balanced diet” but I no longer believe any of this for myself.  I don’t want to wait on a piece of technology to come along before I get near normal blood sugars.  I want to strive for those blood sugars now.  I know that just 10 years with type 1 can cause some pretty mean complications and I plan on living many decades with it and in good health.  So from now on I am a low carb advocate when it comes to treating diabetes.  However, that doesn’t mean I think any less of anyone else’s diet.  You do what works for you and I’ll do what works for me. But if what you’re doing doesn’t work…

1.  Remember you’re one of billions.

You know how when you were growing up you would complain about the food on your plate and your mom would say something like, “You should be grateful, there are starving children out there!”  Well, it doesn’t help children much…but I think it helps adults to think that way.  Yes, our pain and suffering matters just as much as someone else’s and yes, it is very real.  However, I noticed that thinking often about those who don’t have enough food, water, clothes, medicine, love, respect, etc. really made me appreciate what I have.  And when talking about diabetes, I am a type 1 diabetic who has always had all the supplies necessary to manage my condition.  I’ve always had family and friends who cared and treated me well.  I’ve never gone hungry or thirsty or without clothing or shelter.  And billions of people (that’s a lot!) do not have what I have.  Or what you have.  And that’s something for us to think about when we are in need of comfort.

As always thanks for reading!

Take care of yourselves!

How do you avoid or manage your diabetes burnout? Share!

We Need Your Help

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There is a wonderful blog written by a mother of 3 children with type 1 diabetes.  Her name is Meri.  She writes at Our Diabetic Life.  Meri is a beautiful writer.  She Is also a deep and caring human being who constantly stirs our diabetes community with profound and meaningful observations and reflections.   Meri is one of the most wise and graceful diabetes advocates I’ve encountered and I love her sense of humor.

When I first learned about her family and how they have 4 boys (4 boys!) and how three of them have type 1 diabetes, I was blown away.  I knew what it was like to grow up in a household being the oldest of 5 kids, two of which having type 1 diabetes and I couldn’t imagine there being another with type 1.  Three just seems so overwhelming for one family.

Then yesterday I read through my usual diabetes blogs and found out that Meri’s husband, Ryan, has just been diagnosed with having 6 brain tumors and several in the lungs and abdomen.  I felt like I was reading a story and not a real person’s post.  Because it just can’t be.  The world works in mysterious ways though and Meri and her family have firmly decided to go ahead with aggressive treatment and to ask everyone who’s ears this news touches to please pray hard.  They are in need of a miracle.

You don’t have to be religious. If you’re not, it’s a matter of believing that the most unlikely thing could happen without a reasonable explanation.  What if we expected it?  I don’t know.  I just know that our community always supports every member in need and right now, the primary need for this family is that we be positively, without a doubt, sure that Ryan Schuhmacher is going to be ok.

Please visit the Schuhmacher Family Miracle page on Facebook and “like” it.

On Sunday the 4th of March, the family is taking the day to pray and fast. They are asking for strong prayers that day if you want to join them.

Believe you and I can help with thoughts and prayers.  I do.

XOXO

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