If it Works for Oprah…

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“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
~ Epicurus

Not everyone likes Oprah but most of us agree that she has worked herself to where she is versus being handed everything.  My mom saved an article for me where she talks about gratitude.  I was amazed to read what Oprah considers the most life changing thing she has done.  For many years she has kept a journal and each morning she has written down 5 things she is grateful for.  It forces a person into a habit of looking at what they do have versus what they don’t.  She goes on to talk about gratitude and the unique power it can have on our lives.

I’ve read in many places that gratitude is the single most transformative thing we can use in life.  It begs positivity, streamlines focus away from feelings of inadequacy, and brings with it a healthy rush of feelings to the body that support positive decisions.

I believe that those of us with diabetes who practice gratitude on a consistent basis really benefit.  Not only does having a chronic illness usually cause us to be more aware and sensitive towards the plights of others but couple that with gratitude and you have an amazing potential for a life filled with meaning and depth beyond many people’s reach.

So while I’m not grateful for having diabetes, I am grateful for what I’ve learned and who I am because of it.  And when my blood sugar is 102 and I feel perfectly healthy, I feel like I’m in heaven while others don’t even recognize the beauty and freedom of feeling great.  I could feel jealous of non diabetics but I choose to feel grateful for the advantage of my perspective.  It makes life better.  But it is a choice and a habit.  I think writing down things we’re grateful for is an excellent idea.  Thanks, Oprah.

A Diabetes Art Showing

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

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

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

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

Enjoy :)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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“Insulin is Not a Cure”

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

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

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A wall of thoughts and feelings about diabetes…

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

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Ana’s answers to those questions:

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Our friend Jennifer Brannock’s response:

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Our mom’s response:

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Our Dad’s:

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Our 12 year old brother:

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

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

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From Patty Keller:

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More people from the DOC responded:

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Don’t we know about ketones and strips…

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The beta cell is quite lovely:

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and in color:

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

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

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

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

 

XOXO, Sysy and Ana Morales

The Way Kids See It

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

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

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

Their reality of our having diabetes should be ours.

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

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

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

2013 New Year’s Resolutions

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“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
~William Jennings Bryan

First off, Happy New Year!  I hope you feel excitement at the anticipation of a new year filled with wonderful possibilities!

New Year’s resolutions are pointless if they don’t include a specific plan and a time fence.  For the third year in a row I’m going to follow Leo Babauta’s 6 Change Method for making some real improvement this year.

January/February resolution:  To successfully do my peer talks in Spanish

You know those people who can speak a foreign language with their native accent in tow and make loads of grammar mistakes and just not care?  Yeah, I’m not one of them.  Having grown up with Spanish speaking parents makes me feel a bit of shame about my not being able to speak like a native.  But, I love hearing people with accents so why do I hate my own gringa accent?  Anyway, I have two presentations I’m going to give people with diabetes in Spanish in January and February and I want to do them well and preferably not sweat buckets while my blood sugars sky rocket.

The plan?  Practice, practice, practice!  Rather than procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate.

I normally write out all my month’s goals but I feel like I don’t know what’s needed until I get there so I will be figuring that out along the way.

Wish me luck!/Deseame suerte!

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  Remember, they don’t have to be carried off in the wind as a memory of what you would have liked to do.  Just make a plan.  Want support?  I coach people with all sorts of things they want to accomplish.  Email me at sysy@thegirlsguidetodiabetes.com to set up a free consultation.

10 Random Things from the Author of The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes

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Hi!  I’ve been away from the blog longer than ever since it started 3.5 years ago.  That ends today.  But, here is what has been consuming my thoughts and making writing about diabetes a lower priority:

1.  Travelling with diabetes is challenging.  I’ve really been working at getting the knack of it.  I don’t want it to be bad for my health you know?  The other day, I tried my best to check my blood sugar in line at the airport where you put your things in cubbies to get scanned and just as I put the blood in the strip the scanner sucked my cubby with my meter in it inside to be scanned and I had to ask the lady at the scanner, “Excuse me, what number do you see on my meter?”  She lifted the scanner flap and peeked inside and said, “911 I think?”  Huh?!  It came out a few seconds later and I saw a 116, phew!  People behind me looked a little nervous and I don’t blame them.  One TSA agent said, “We need to do a pat down, do you mind?”  I said, “Of course you need to now, go ahead.”  What was I doing checking at the most inappropriate time?  I felt really off like I might be very low and ready to pass out and didn’t want to hesitate with checking because I had to run to the next gate so I felt I needed to just do it then.  I get sick to my stomach with flying so I take dramamine and that makes me kind of loopy…but I still love it.  Flying that is, not the dramamine.

2.  My favorite number is two.  I know that’s random but-My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It’s really scary because even though surgery removed the tumor, the likelihood of return is very high.  I’m making him vegetable juices and hoping that does something to help.  This has made me have a heart to heart with myself about my diabetes because I can do so much to make my outcome a good one-I really need to remember that and be grateful for it.

3.  My kids being 3.5 and still at home with me all day is driving me nuts.  I hate feeling nagged because I really am very happy to have them with me, to read books and play games all day, mold their minds into caring, open, patient people, watch them impressed as they have expert command of the computer, but at the same time, I know I’m not enough.  And I’m not sure how to solve this which leads me to:

4.  My husband Alex and I are having a hard time deciding where to live.  We can’t decide whether to rent or buy, to get a house or condo or loft.  And its because what we want doesn’t exist where we live.  We want to buy a really small place (so that the cost is low and the space is just for basic needs) and then we want to use our extra money to eat well (for health’s sake) and to travel (for our kid’s mind’s sake).  And I don’t mean travel abroad, I mean anywhere.  Right now just driving to a neighboring town to visit isn’t doable because rent is so high (since we want a nice and safe area-gee are we just asking for too much?).  When we walk out of our front door we want to be around people, a community.  I live in a place that is too large to be a town and too small to be a city and so we don’t have any of the best of either world.  Others would disagree but I must be ambitious because I want more.  Alex does, too.  We’re lonely.  There, I said it.  My kids are lonely.  School is coming for them and I’m sure they will love it.  Maybe that’s all we have to wait for.  In the meantime daycare/preschool is too expensive here and we make too much to get federal aid for it-nor do I want it.  Stubborn Sysy strikes again.

5.  I’ve noticed there is a back lash online towards people who are health coaches or something similar.  Usually, the most upset are those who studied for years to get an accreditation of some kind.  I can understand.  However, what someone like myself does as a health coach is in no way a threat to what a dietitian or a nurse or a diabetes educator does.  Think of what a coach does?  Supports, cheers, listens, encourages.  I’ll write more about this soon.  And I’d like for people out there to know that vocation has a lot to do with how good one will be at their job.  Just think, we all took math in high school but how many of us could teach others that math?  I couldn’t to save my life.  My health coaching training took one intense year but I’ve been reading and training on the subject my whole life as if I grew up knowing what I wanted to do only not knowing it actually existed until recently.  And I think that goes for many people of all types of professions and work.  I may write more about this later in detail but for now, I just want to say that health coaches don’t take the place of the other health care professions, they just want to help alongside of them.  And there is a need for them otherwise so many people wouldn’t be calling us for help and leaving happy and satisfied.  And we deserve to make a living off of it because we’re working hard, helping people (isn’t that the point?), and can’t do our work as homeless people.  We don’t have huge loans to pay back but that’s not our fault.  We do have to struggle more to find work since so many are still skeptical however.

6.  I’d like to remind you all of the website Guerilla Goodness.  It’s awesome and inspiring and really cheers me up this time of year.  Great ideas here for spreading around secret acts of kindness-which I agree with the author-do change everything.

7.  I’ve been thinking about how to reconcile my love of fashion and quality clothing while not spending much and while buying from small businesses and while keeping my closet simple.  A friend from France emailed me explaining what most girls there do:  They buy a few pieces a year that they carefully select while walking around town, making sure they fit perfectly and they get shoes that are comfortable but exactly what they are looking for.  Then, they wear the same few outfits over and over and over.  It keeps things minimal, lets them wear what they love, and keeps costs down.  And at the end of the year, they have completely worn out their shoes and clothes and can start anew the next year.  I read the same thing in a book recently, too.  Just thought I’d share because I think too many of us have too much clothes and we don’t even love most of it and then our closets are overwhelming, we’ve spent too much, and for what?

8.  There is a website I want to share.  My type 1 friend Cynthia Zuber is on a holistic health journey.  She is doing great and it’s been very inspiring to get to know her and see what all she does to regain her health and maximize it.  She shares the most delicious recipes I’ve seen and just want to let you all know to check out Diabetes Light.

9.  Did you get the flu shot this year?  I didn’t though I can understand why some do.  I haven’t in many years.  So far, so good.  Things have been great since getting my Vitamin D levels up with Vitamin D3 supplements.  Oh and frequent hand washing.  Just wanted to share.

10.  My most popular post is about nerve damage reversal.  I am submitting an update here that as of December 2012, I have less foot pain than I have ever had.  In fact, I have had none this year.  I don’t know why.  I wonder if running bothers me (I’ve been doing more yoga and walking and less running).  For years I had tons of foot pain, tons!  Then as I regained control of my blood sugars the pain increased (which doctors told me could be due to healing of nerves)  Then the pain went away for 99% of the time.  I credit this lack of pain now to well managed blood sugars.  I thought I would halt damage by improving my sugars but it seems I’ve reversed some because of the lack of pain?  Pretty fantastic what great blood sugars can do.  Makes the discipline and healthy lifestyle so worth it.  Even if I just do it most of the time Winking smile  Anyway, I share because the possibility of less pain is a big motivator.

Take care, all.

xoxo,

Sysy

Diabetes Cost Me This Much This Year

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I just did the math on how much money I spent this 2012 for my diabetes.  I included doctor visits and labs and prescriptions and even glucose tablets.

It came out to $1000.  And I’d like to quickly note that if I ate the standard American diet (thus needing more insulin and strips) I’d have spent almost $2000.

Anyway, not bad, right?  Or is it?  I’ve had diabetes so long I don’t even know anymore.

Recalling what others mention spending I think I’m one of the lucky ones.  Still, I know an extra $1000 would have done my family some good.

But mom being healthy does the family tons of good.

I’m really curious, how much did you spend on your diabetes this year?

Our $100 Dining Table

We haven’t had a place to eat at in years because the table Alex and I bought when we got married fell apart-well not the table, but the stools.  And it’s a counter height table so the usual chairs wouldn’t do.  Nor is that height of table practical for children so….we’ve been eating standing up or sitting on the couch or at the kid’s play table or on the ottoman.

It was driving me crazy and we couldn’t afford to buy a table so I suggested to Alex that he try making a table.  One of those simple farmhouse style tables that are suddenly popular (who knew?)  I’ve always loved their simplicity.

Anyway, Alex got right to work on it.  I haven’t seen him so happy in a long time.  He felt, dare I say, useful.  Not that he normally isn’t but you know men and their need to save the day and boy did he.  When I asked him how he knew how to do the work (he made it look easy) he said, “Well, you know at work, I’m a form carpenter.”  “No way!” I said.  You mean I married a carpenter?  Had I known this before I would have requested all sorts of projects by now.

Anyway, here is the table he made us.  The kids chose the bold blue color.  My insides screamed “no! that’s crazy!” But I managed to tell the control freak in me to be quiet and just trust the decisions of others and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Click here to view at Instagram

Cancer.

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A big scary word.  Because it is.  Of course, it does depend where it is and how far along but my little personal experience with it warrants all the fear it gets.

And now one of my favorite people in the whole world, my dad, has cancer.

It certainly feels different when it hits home.  And I’m not hiding the fact that I’m freaking out.

My dad goes into surgery later this week. We hope this reveals that they can get all of the tumor and that it’s not deeper than expected.

I write about this because I’m asking for prayers or your versions of prayers-happy thoughts, healing vibes, positive energy, etc, to be sent towards my dad.  I believe it helps.  I truly do.  So even if you take just one second to send a positive thought his way, I thank you. So much.

XOXO,

Sysy

Diabetes in the Morning

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I am in the middle of a fantastic dream.  I’m a few years younger (!!!) and so is my husband (!!!) and we aren’t married or with children yet (!!!)  We are at his parent’s house after a date night, just relaxing and talking.  Only his parents are different people entirely (!!!) and the only other difference is their house has an enormous library (!!!)  Alex and I are singing along to an Elton John tune (geez, I can’t even dream the dorkiness out of us) when suddenly, from some very tiny corner of my consciousness, a little voice screams “wake up, you’re low! LOW!”

My dream must have been one of those lucid ones because in the dream I suddenly tell Alex I need to go home.  Then my dream vanishes and I find myself shaky and in bed.  Aw man, I didn’t get to check out any of those books…  I start nudging Alex next to me, “Hey, I’m low…Alex…Alex…I’m low!”  He doesn’t wake up.  I now tap forcefully when I hear a grumble that definitely doesn’t belong to Alex.  I open my eyes.  Alex has gone to work and my daughter is in bed with me.  Her eyes are closed but she wags an authoritative pointer finger in the air and says (in third person, no less)  “No, no Henri!  Aurora sleeping…”  and then she drifts off completely again.  “I’m so sorry sweetie pie!” I whisper, and bring myself to get out of bed and search for my glucose tablets, which apparently, I’ve hidden from my kids as well as myself.

I finally find them and drop back into bed.  I wake up 10 minutes later to a little boy chewing on some glucose tablets on the edge of my bed.  “No, no Henri!”  says Aurora, wagging her finger at her brother.

Free eBook Shares Diabetes Diagnosis Stories

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The online diabetes magazine A Sweet Life has put together two great eBooks you can download for free.  They are each a compilation of inspirational diabetes diagnosis stories but one shares stories from people with type 1 diabetes and the other, type 2 diabetes.

My story is one of the stories in the type 1 diabetes eBook.

It was an honor to share it and I thank A Sweet Life for doing this and offering it to the DOC for free.

If you haven’t checked out A Sweet Life, do so today-it’s full of seriously handy information and a source for excellent opinion articles by a number of people with diabetes.  In fact, I’d say the site is one of the DOC’s best kept secrets.  Check it out and have a great one!

XOXO

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