Tag Archives: blood sugar

Do You Have Anything to Donate?

Photo courtesy of posterize
Photo courtesy of Posterize

 

Over at Act1diabetes.org, they collect non prescription diabetes supplies to donate to those who are in desperate need of them.  I myself, am one of those who doesn’t get enough strips and has to figure out how to make due, whether by buying them at full cost at the pharmacy or by testing less.  The least I can do is send the extra meter I have and spread word about this in the case any of you have extra supplies.

Test strips are crucial to diabetes management and this organization is unable to meet the flood of requests for them.  I can’t imagine going without strips or a meter.  If you have any extra supplies you could donate,  Here is more info.

If you don’t have extra supplies, Act1diabetes also welcomes help with building up the funds needed to help more people. 

Thanks for reading :)

My Guaranteed* Good Day with Diabetes Plan

 

Every now and then I have an event or occasion I really don’t want diabetes getting in the way of.  In the past there have been speeches to make and soccer matches to play and so with trial and error I’ve come up with a plan for special days when I really want to avoid lows or highs.  (Key word: avoid)

No caffeine

Plenty of water

Two eggs for breakfast

Chicken/Meat/Fish for lunch and dinner with sides of non starchy veggies (such as spinach)

No sugar except juice as needed for any low blood sugar

Frequent blood sugar testing

Handful of almonds for snacks

No out of the ordinary exercises (may bring an unanticipated low blood sugar)

For me, following this plan works really well to ensure I have easy to manage blood sugars throughout the day. 

There are times when we might have a hard time testing, such as in the middle of a work presentation.  I find it priceless to be able to test before an event and know that I should have pretty predictable blood sugars for several hours. (Key word: should)

This plan worked great on my wedding day except that right before walking down the isle that evening I got so nervous I downed a 15 carb juice box because I had two fears, A) that the dress that was squeezing the life out of me would dramatically tear and reveal me to a cathedral full of people I knew and B) that I’d have a low in the middle of the ceremony and somehow manage to get juice all over my white dress therefore ruining all of the post ceremonial pictures.  So I drank the juice in a panic and once I got to the reception (hours later) I tested and found I was around 280.  “Bah! I ruined my perfect blood sugars for my wedding!”  I may never get over it because I was in 5 inch heels that entire night. (Until I kicked them off and danced all over the tattered hem of my dress…)

Anyway, It’s a valuable thing to have a day where you follow a specific protocol to get you through a special sort of day.  You could do it every day but that really is asking a lot isn’t it?  I find that going this extreme is best for once a week occasions.  Of course, if you’re menstruating or pregnant or under an abnormal amount of stress, expect the unexpected!  Otherwise, test out different meal plans until you come to something that works pretty good for you, just don’t let paranoia win! 

Easier said than done, I know.  There are no guarantees with diabetes but increasing the chances that things go well is always a good idea!

The Trouble for Diabetics in Winter

  “Every mile is two in Winter”

~George Hurbert

Many of us diabetics seem to have an especially difficult time during the winter months.  There are probably several reasons for this.  Less exercise, less time outdoors, holiday stress, and more frequent snacking all contribute to blood sugar havoc. 

I’ve never managed to escape winter’s mean grip on me.  I catch at least one virus during this time of year which manages to knock me off of my healthy routine for about two weeks.  Then, because I’m getting less vitamin D from the sun (in fact, none from the sun) my mood and energy levels plummet.  Let’s not forget those times (all too frequent) when I decide against going to the gym because I am convinced I’ll freeze to death on the way there.  I should mention that my gym is just down the road at my apartment complex. 

I have been reading a lot of fellow diabetic’s words and I have easily come to the conclusion that I’m definitely not alone.  Just testing blood sugar these days is tough because, well I don’t know about you but, when I prick my finger, it’s so numb I have to swing it around a couple times for the blood to come out.  I do that and look like a softball pitcher or else I have to prick harder, which hurts.

I’m thinking we all need a plan of defense.  Those of us who have a hard time during the winter, that is.  I do know a few people who I’m secretly suspicious of being cold blooded as they can run out into the cold with shorts and a t-shirt on and still smile.

I say we need a plan that starts in late or mid fall. 

The vitamin D issue is pretty easy to tackle.  We can supplement with it.  I recommend doing this carefully since you can overdose.  A simple blood test can determine your current levels-so ask your doctor about this.  Several months after being in Cancun two years ago, a blood test found my vitamin D levels to be surprisingly low.  It doesn’t quite work how we might imagine.  The sun you get in July doesn’t provide you adequate vitamin D through the winter.  You have to get a constant dose of this year round.  Anyway, when my levels were found low, supplementing for a few months with cod liver oil brought those levels right up.  This did happen quickly however, which is why the blood test is important.

The plus about having adequate vitamin D levels before entering winter is vitamin D protects against viruses and it would be great to minimize the chances of catching the all too common cold.

What about exercise?  For me, I can substitute at home yoga on the days I really can’t march several hundred meters to the gym.  What might you do?  Anything active you like to do in the comfort of your own home?  You may want to try simple floor exercises in front of the TV.  These work really well.  When I was 15 I wanted to tone up so each night I did 20 minutes of leg lifts and squats and push ups and you know what?  In two months I was a size 3 instead of a 5.  I really should take up that experiment again and see how it works.

Snacking is a problem for many of us it seems.  Goodies are sort of thrown at us during the holiday season and how are we to say no?  I’ve been trying to focus on enjoying warm liquids.  I’ll drink hot organic chicken broth, hot herbal tea without sugar, coffee, hot chocolate (made with little milk and little sugar).  The days I do this, I snack less (because I’m full of liquids) and I stay warm, too.  This doesn’t completely solve my problem but I’ve been trying it for a few days and it has helped me stick to regular meals instead of all day grazing.

I’m going to get vitamin D to supplement with.  I’m going to do some yoga right now.  I’m going to then make myself some peppermint tea. 

Oh we didn’t address the stress issue.  Well, for me, hopefully the vitamin D will help my moods, the yoga help relax me, and the tea warm me.  That should help.  Of course, next year I should try these three small changes in the fall and see how it helps throughout the winter season. 

What do you think?  Would it help us all to start taking some actions before winter sets in to sort of safeguard against diabetes winter burnout?

If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!  We’ve still got a few more months to brave!

My Christmas Resolution

 

I try to be positive this time of year but it’s hard.  I don’t like the cold and the darkness that comes with winter and I abhor the Holidays because of the commercial grip they have over so many people.  There is a pressure to spend a certain amount of money on certain people and a pressure to spend a certain amount of time with certain people and a pressure to do it all under a halo of big expectations that often falls kind of…flat.

Maybe I’d enjoy Christmas if I didn’t get nervous at a merry gathering of a bunch of people.  Or maybe I’d enjoy it more if there was some money to spend on a gift or two.  Perhaps I’d like it better if I knew how things were going to go ahead of time.  I’m not the girl you want to surprise.  I like knowing what is going to happen so I can plan accordingly.  So because Christmas just might put me in a room of people that make me uncomfortable or remind me that I’m broke or startle me with it’s spontaneity, my anxiety levels surge. 

And so do my blood sugars. 

And since I don’t appreciate that, I’m forcing a reminder upon myself.  If I don’t enjoy something, it’s because I’m not letting it happen.  I can choose not to pay much attention to things/people that bother me and I can choose to not think about money.  I can choose to just take a deep breathe and focus on taking care of my health and children and maybe if I just do that I’ll manage to find lots of pleasure in little things here and there. 

There is a lot to be thankful for and it shouldn’t be buried underneath all the glitter and lights…or a scrooge or a grinch. 

Thanks for reading my site and cheering me up in the process.  I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and blessed, stress-free, healthy, fun time!

Now somebody please get me a scotch…

The Science Behind Type 1 Diabetes and Weight Gain

 

It’s understandable that any community would prefer to say, “To each his own” when it comes to personal choices like eating preferences.  So I frequently hear diabetics say that they can eat whatever they want and advocate for other diabetics being able to do the same-as long as each person is successfully able to manage their blood sugars.

And this makes sense to me.  It’s true that every person’s diabetes varies from the next. 

Something that also makes sense to me is what Dr. Bernstein calls “The Law of Small Numbers”.

It’s something I figured out before hearing about Dr. Bernstein.  Since a certain percentage of insulin going in us isn’t being absorbed each time, there is a varying error margin.  The more insulin we need to give, the higher the error margin. 

For example when I lost weight, my blood sugars improved, in part because my insulin resistance was lower and I then needed less insulin than before.  When I changed my eating to lower carb intake, I again noticed better blood sugars because I took less insulin and therefore saw a lower margin of error every time insulin was given.  This lower margin of error is nothing short of miraculous on blood sugars.

If I eat a bowl of pasta, I’m personally, going to give about 7 units of insulin.  A certain percentage of this insulin will inevitably not be absorbed efficiently.  This means that after eating, I will most likely have to correct blood sugar with insulin or some sugar. 

If I eat a steak, I give about 1/2 a unit of insulin.  Again, a certain percentage of this insulin will not be absorbed efficiently.  An “X” percentage of 1/2 a unit of insulin is surely to be less than the same “X” percentage of 7 units right?  This means that with the steak, my chances for having a low or high after eating are minimized AND it means that if I do get a low or a high, the low won’t be very low and the high won’t be very high.  So I’m more likely to stay within a better range. 

This is why I don’t feel that a pump necessarily equals better blood sugar control.  If someone is eating all the carbs they want and just correcting with boluses and sugar as needed, then the likelihood for a higher A1c goes up-because of “the law of small numbers”.   

My lowest A1c test result was over 2 years ago and was a 4.6.  My doctor automatically assumed I was having too many lows and should let my “blood sugars run higher”.  “Really? Higher than yours get to be?”, I thought.   I had to explain to him that I had fewer lows during the time reflected in that A1c test than I had during the time my A1c was a 6.8.  I just had more consistent numbers.

The months prior to that 4.6, I was experimenting with low carb eating to see how my A1c would turn out.  Not only did I lose weight, but the greatest thing was how my blood sugars stayed even keel.  The swinging blood sugars stopped, as did my swinging moods.  Of course, there are still plenty of things that affect blood sugars but, for me, eating low carb made post meal 40’s turn into 70’s and 250’s turn into 150’s. 

It’s so much easier to get a 150 down to 100 than it is to get a 250 down to a 100.  Plus, correcting for a 250 means again that because you’re giving more insulin than if you were 150, there is a higher margin of error and a high risk that in a few hours you’ll need more insulin or more sugar. 

This brings me to my next point.  For type 1 diabetics eating a lot of carbs, weight management becomes difficult.  Most of the thin type 1 diabetics I’ve known of are either adults eating low carb diets or children who are still growing. 

How many type 1 diabetic children don’t start struggling with some weight gain once they turn 18 or 21?  Of course there are exceptions to every rule but, for the most part, I’d say that a way to minimize weight gain in type 1 diabetic adults would be to eat fewer carbohydrates.  The yo-yo on blood sugars that a higher margin of error exacerbates translates to more insulin and more sugar correcting.  This directly translates into weight gain. 

I know it’s not what you want to hear.  After all, we diabetics can eat anything we like and just cover with insulin!  Sure…but, I don’t know about you, I like to be thin.  It means less insulin resistance and better glucose numbers and an easier time exercising.  It also means there is less stress on the body in general.  Such as our feet.  What about knees?  10 pounds of weight loss equals 40 pounds of pressure off of your knees.  So the benefits continue on and on.

I’m making a case here because I wish someone had made a case to me when I was in High School.  I was on the Varsity Soccer Team and so I exercised at least 2-3 hours a day.  I was heavier than all the other girls on the team even though I ate less.  Not fair!  I could have been spared a lot of heartache and frustration. 

Back to today.  Currently, major financial restraints have me eating more carbs than I’d like to (more brown rice, less meat) and my daughter being allergic to eggs means I can no longer rely on an egg’s cheap, low carb, and perfect nutrition.  It’s probably why I’m not losing weight right now.  I eat 40% more carbs than I did 2 years ago.

But before all this, here is what used to work great for me:

Breakfast:  One or two eggs

Lunch:  Chicken salad or tuna

Dinner:  chicken/beef/fish and a side of veggies

Snacks:  Beef jerky, raw veggies, nuts, dark chocolate

Several times a week:  small servings of lentils or beans, fruit, green vegetable juice, Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread.  (I try to make these my low correcting foods if I’m not too low)

Drinks:  Water, herbal teas, coffee (diet soda would work only it tends to make me really hungry)

I admit it isn’t easy or very cheap to eat this way (especially not cheap if buying all this in the organic section).  You get used to it though and dropping pounds and feeling healthier makes it more than worthwhile.  I’ll say it again.  It’s not easy.  You may feel something is missing from your diet.  Yet, if you are having trouble losing weight or if you are trying for a lower A1c, this is the best way I know of to do both.

I share this info because it proved invaluable to me and my health.  You take it or leave it or take a little of it, whatever you like. 

Salud!

Oral Medication Resource for Type 2 Diabetics

 

A big reality for type 2 diabetics is oral medicine.  This is something you’ll never ever see me write about because I don’t have a clue about oral meds. 

I did want to share with you however, a resource guide about oral medications for type 2 diabetics that Registered Dietitian, Emilia Klapp has put together. 

It’s always good to be safe when taking any medication and her guide includes such information you don’t want to ignore if you take any oral meds.  And I don’t mind stearing you to her site as it includes helpful daily info regarding important topics like hypertension and cholesterol and of course diabetes management.

So check out the Oral Medication Resource and The Diabetes Club when you get a chance!

Have a nice weekend!

How Many Scares Does it Take? And Why Aren’t I More Worried?

 

Since I’ve never had to use a Glucagon, I’ve never been good about remembering to get a new one once the old one expires.  Thank God they always expire instead of get used but still…

Last night, I caught a stomach virus that’s been going around.  I started feeling really awful around 8:30pm and just laid down on the bed.  I don’t know if I ever fell asleep but I do know that at some point I felt low but, couldn’t move or hardly talk.  Luckily, my husband was in the room and noticed I was trying to say something.  I was able to mutter the word, “low” and he took off for some juice.  He sat me up in bed and put the bottle of orange juice up to my mouth.  I downed two bottles.  A little later he tested my sugar which was 47.   Then an hour later my sugar was 52 and I started feeling nauseated and thought I might throw up.  Well, I did-plenty of times.  30 minutes later I was 44.  I downed lots of sugar even though I thought it was just going to come right back up.  I was beginning to have a major headache from the lack of glucose in my brain.  30 minutes later I was 42! 

I started getting scared.  I had downed all the juice in the house and had begun drinking several cups of sugar water (not appealing to a nauseated stomach).

I called my parents and my dad showed up around midnight with jello, crackers, juice, and most importantly, a glucagon.

Why didn’t I ever have one ready? 

Luckily I never threw up again and my blood sugar stabilized at 80, but I did get welcomed with blood sugars over 250 and 300 in the early AM hours.  Yay, isn’t it wonderful to bounce from one extreme to the other?

This made me realize (and so did my insistent mother) that I don’t have an emergency kit.  I’ve written about it and I myself don’t have one?  So anyway, here is what I will assemble as soon as I’m able:

Juice

Glucose tabs

Glucagon

Glucose gel

Crackers

Ketone strips

And as my mom thoughtfully pointed out, this kit should never be used except for emergencies.  That way, when there is an emergency you don’t say, “Uh oh, I’ve already drank my kit’s juice supply”.

Anyway, Is there anything I’m missing?  Let me know, I want to be prepared next time!

You know, this being Diabetes Awareness Month… I know a lot of non-diabetic people who have had a least one near death experience.  They tell the story at dinner tables, parties, and reunions.  They write about it in their journals and memoirs.  It’s a big deal.

We diabetics probably can’t keep up with our near death experiences.  There may be too many!  I mean, I can tell you at least 10 different times I came close to the worst case scenario but, it’s not even a big deal to me anymore.  Ok, it is, but, I’m kind of jaded.  Like, when I get scared after an incident like this and I think, Man! I could have died…I turn around and realize I’m not the least bit frightened or anxious about it the very next day. 

It’s like my way of life, my “normal”.  You know how some people who grow up in violent places are numb to violence?  Sometimes I feel numb to fear about my diabetes.  Maybe that’s just me.  Maybe I’ve just accepted everything I know which could go wrong.  Maybe I’ve got bucket loads of faith that I’ll be alright.  Maybe I’ve simply gone too long without a super frightening experience.  It’s true that I haven’t ever gone unconscious or had a glucagon shot or been in the hospital with ketoacidosis.

Here’s something I found just plain sad last night.  My husband looked at me when I was 42 and not able to drink more juice and said, “Do you want to make a trip to the hospital?”

Without thinking twice I looked up at him like a child that could never tell a lie and said, “No, they’ll kill me!”

So we’ve got some fear and trust issues eh?

All in a day’s life with diabetes. 

Just another one of the million reasons we need a cure.  No one should accept the faintest possibility of death with so much calm.

My Diabetes Yearly Eye Exam

 

Last night I couldn’t sleep.  First, my son woke my husband and I up at 2am.  Then his crying woke up his sister and so my husband and I were up an hour, each with a baby in arms.  After a while we didn’t know how to calm them down so they each got their morning bottle a couple hours early.  It worked although I had to stay on the couch with my little girl because she was glued to me.  Funny mama’s girl. 

Anyway, by 3:30 am when I got back into bed I found myself thinking about my eyes.  I’ve never had a problem with them (aside from worsening vision every year since age 14).  Diabetes-wise I’ve been fine.  I have noticed my eye pressure reading and glaucoma test results creeping up each year though they’ve always been in normal range.

Last year with my twin pregnancy my eyes were perfectly fine until I got really big at around the 7th month mark.  What my doctor noticed was a few leaky blood vessels in each eye.  She said they were small and probably due to the twin pregnancy (double the blood to pump in the body strains the eye!)  She did want to stress that I must not miss the next year’s routine eye exam, however.  And of course she told me to try hard to keep blood sugars steady so those blood vessels would have a better chance at disappearing.

Today I had that exam and we found that my glaucoma and eye pressure exams were better than they’ve been in years (odd but, awesome news).  Then she said it, “Your eyes are fine.”  I said, “What about the blood vessels?  Did they shrink?”  “They did, in fact their gone!  What have you done lately?”

“I don’t know…”

“Well, keep up the good work and remember your best defense is managing your blood sugars well and getting in here once a year!”

<<SIGH>>

I can’t tell you how relieved I am.  Now that it’s been a couple of hours and looking at the computer screen is no longer like glaring at the sun I’ve tried to take note of what I’ve done differently in the past year.

One thing is I feel like my blood pressure has been good this past year.  It’s never been really high but, I have always stressed at work to the point of having panic attacks or heart palpitations and being home with two babies has meant feeling much more calm and relaxed.  (Even though I often seem like a wild, clucking, mother hen).

Another thing is that I’ve been more active.  Instead of working out more I’ve been more steadily active.  Before my babies I worked about a decade and the job always involved sitting at a desk in front of a computer.  Then I’d get home and do a work out (or not).  Now, taking care of two toddlers means constant lifting and squatting.  My shoulders are kind of like an NBA player’s and my thighs are pretty wide with muscle.  All this lifting has created super abs (which are covered with loose skin so don’t ask me to prove it).  Point is, It has probably been beneficial to do more constant and steady moving throughout the day.  Lifting weights seems to help whether this is a child or a dumbell.  (Although I don’t think lifting weights is recommended if there are some problems with the eyes-not good to strain them!)

Last but not least I’ve also really cut out processed foods.  I’ve cut my salt intake considerably and my caffeine intake is very small compared to what it used to be. 

These small and subtle changes just might have done more than I ever expected them to.   

Wishing you great eye health today…:)

The CGMS. Do you have better diabetes management with one?

Photo courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn
Photo courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn

 

I don’t have a CGMS.  I tried to get one during my twin pregnancy last year because the doubled amount of pregnancy hormones really challenged my blood sugars and of course I wanted great blood sugars while pregnant.  My doctors didn’t support my wanting one though (maybe because my A1c at the time of conception was a 4.6%?).  Three doctors all told me to relax on my diabetes management.  I told them to relax. 

Anyway, I mostly wanted one to catch late night lows and highs that I couldn’t catch during the day when I was awake.  Since I didn’t get one I just tested every hour during the day and this worked well.  I tested every 2 hours during the night and this also worked well (I had to make a trip to the bathroom every 2 hours anyway). 

My question to everyone is, does the CGMS help your blood sugar average?  Does it help you maintain your blood sugars on a more even keel?  Has it helped you lower your A1c?

Before I fight for a CGMS again, I want to know you all really like your CGMS.  I already know how to get a great A1c without a pump and without a CGMS but, maybe there is something you know that I don’t?  (Or maybe I’m doing this the hard way?)

I’m sure there is something you know that I don’t.  This is why I’m asking-no, begging you to share your thoughts on this matter.  I know there are others out there wondering the same thing.  After all, if it is “proven” that the pump and CGMS help lower an A1c than part of me can’t help but want to know what real people say (as opposed to studies).   

One of my main questions is, does having a CGMS help you avoid more swinging glucose numbers?  For example does it help you not have such high highs or low lows?  This, to me, seems like a great help.  Luckily, I feel lows and highs early but, let’s face it, sometimes we’re distracted with life and maybe a beep here or there would save the day?

So what do I stand to gain with a CGMS?  I guess that is what I really want to know :)

Anxiously awaiting your responses!

Handling Diabetes Gracefully

 

I find that most of us diabetics are pretty emotional people.  It’s hard not to be.  Sometimes this leads us to voice our frustrations in a passionate light.  Sometimes we aren’t so much passionate as we are offensive, however.   I have recently been thinking about children with diabetes (I used to be one) and have noticed that the kids with diabetes seem to have more grace than many of the adults living with diabetes.

This is due to the nature of children.  They are whimsical, forgiving, hopeful, optimistic, and they live in the moment.  We adults are famous for losing many of those traits as we leave childhood.  You’d think life would get easier with more practice but instead it gets harder and we diabetics quickly get worn out.

I remember feeling depressed as a child and still getting up in the morning, making good grades, having fun with friends, and playing a good game of soccer.

Now if I feel depressed, even brushing my teeth is a tall order.

I strive to publicly handle diabetes with grace.  I try not to whine and be overly negative and I try not to shoot out generalized statements about diabetes, knowing it may hurt another diabetic’s feelings.  If I break down I do it in private or in front of my husband or family.  Yet, I long to be that little kid whose eyes always sparkled when someone asked me about diabetes.  I’d answer eloquently and try to be descriptive and positive, yet realistic.  Now I have to be very careful not to depress the person I’m talking to about diabetes.  I mean the subject, overall, is depressing.  But, I’ve found that people don’t want to help the depressed person as much as they want to find out more about the one whose eyes sparkle.  Anything positive and hopeful is simply more attractive than something sad and gloomy.

As we fight to bring about massive diabetes awareness I propose a challenge:  That we all attempt to let the joyful life inside of us win over the destructive cloud that is diabetes.  That we try to write about diabetes in a more elegant way.  That we perhaps leave out phrases like “people who don’t understand diabetes disgust me” and any general pancreas bashing (your pancreas is not to blame).  When we say these things, people who don’t know about our diabetes are not attracted to us and therefore do not learn much about diabetes from us.  When we are honest yet, pleasant and positive, people are attracted to us and are much more willing to hear what we have to say.  Thus, our attempt at spreading diabetes awareness is more successful.  It’s a difficult balance, to be honest.  How do we get the message out there about the harsh realities of this disease and keep people’s attention?  It’s not easy.

My tendency is to say that we want others to notice that we are not full of bitterness, but instead hope, that we are not hateful, but instead forgiving, that we love life despite diabetes instead of walk around with doom written on our foreheads.  Then they will be inspired, enamored of our cause, and motivated to fight with us and for us.

We need their help, I don’t think we’ll make it alone.  Insurance costs are only getting more difficult to manage, healthy food is not the easy choice to make, and so many diabetics are lacking primary resources.

If we show others how special we are instead of what a burden we are, they will be on our side.  Again, children do this naturally.  My two kids cost me an arm and a leg (financially and emotionally speaking).  But, I would give my life for their sparkling eyes and bright smiles alone.  Maybe we should take a hint from them.

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