Tag Archives: diabetes cure

Can We Replace “Reverse” with “Remission”? and Other Thoughts

Courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut

 

People don’t mean any harm when they say they reversed their diabetes.  They say it because that’s what the majority of the medical community uses and what they know to be true.  It’s not widespread that one can’t reverse diabetes.  In fact I’m looking for a doctor that will explain this to me.  So far, all the ones I talk to either say, “Yes, it can be reversed” or “I don’t know…”  It would be nice if we could use the word “remission” so that we had a way to describe those who reverse their symptoms and find themselves off of meds and with normal blood sugars.  We use this term in cancer patients, why not diabetes?

For some people, saying that they have reversed their diabetes is the logical way to put it.  They used to have high blood sugars but they changed the way they live and as far as they see it, they don’t have diabetes anymore.  I used to have a problem with my kidneys.  Test results would come back abnormal.  Now, test results come back normal and so I say I “reversed” my kidney damage (that’s what my doctor says, too).  That’s just the simple way that I see it.  And yet, I am aware that if I don’t manage my blood sugars, it’s only a matter of time before I see damage again.  Society has taken notice of how important lifestyle habits are and they assume it makes sense to say that if you live a certain way, you can keep diabetes away.  They just don’t know the details of the disease and good luck to you trying to teach them all the details.  People aren’t going to want all the details unless they feel diabetes really pertains to them.  If you try to get me to hear all the details about your favorite video game or your pet dog, I’m pretty sure I won’t remember them later.

I don’t understand when people say that diabetes is only cured if one can eat and exercise like a non-diabetic and have perfect blood sugars. The way I understand it, If you abuse the body, you run the risk of having serious problems. Metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, thyroid malfunctions…it goes on and on. People literally want to be able to eat the standard American diet and be well?  That’s simply not possible-at least not for long.  Those who argue that some people never get type 2 from this diet aren’t thinking big enough. This diet hurts everyone eventually. Maybe their genes offer some protection, maybe a lot! But eventually, the diet that so many eat in the US is very harmful and unfortunately, for an increasing number of people, it only takes a little of it to cause a problem.  And what if there were to be a cure for type 2?  People would want to eat as before and I doubt their bodies would hold up.

To me, the biggest problem is the fact that the media isn’t able to report on diabetes in a more multi-faceted and in-depth way.  If they did and people heard on CNN that type 2 varied from person to person, that the severity level could be minor to major and therefore some people could eat this and others found it didn’t work and some could be off meds and others could not, that some found success through just adding more exercise and others exercising all day didn’t find success and still needed meds, then I think the stereotypes would die down.  I think we should work on spreading that message.  Along with the message that type 1 and 2 are very different and that there are 11 types of diabetes (that we know of) so people should be aware that they can’t assume anything on some diabetic’s behalf-they’re bound to be wrong.  Maybe I’m dreaming but I think that if people were to hear this on the news they’d think, “Ohh ok…I didn’t know that.”

Focusing so much on how inaccurate the phrase “reversing diabetes” is hinders us, not helps us.  I think this because people explain that diabetes can’t be reversed by saying there is no cure and that once you have it you always have it-and I don’t hear doctors making that message clear at all.  So when we talk without any back up from the medical community we don’t get the attention we deserve.  Kind of like if I claim something without showing a study to back it up.  Why would anyone believe ME when I say that diabetes cannot be reversed?  I think that we need to seek clarity from the medical community and demand they set each other and the media straight.  We need their help to define the truth and to help us spread the word that diabetes cannot be cured, just put into a temporary remission in some people’s cases.  Also, to include that it is a progressive disease, getting worse over time.

A lot of people rant over this issue with a little too much disrespect, too.  It flies over the blogosphere and makes us sound even less credible than might already be to the general public.  Why would we attack people’s ignorance?  That’s a recipe for disaster.  Another thing we do that doesn’t work is exaggerate the truth.  One thing I’ve read a lot is that most type 2 diabetics are thin. This hurts us because suppose people go to the book I have here published this year by the ADA where it says that “three-fourths of all people with type 2 diabetes are or have been obese.”  That’s the majority.  So if we say that the majority are thin we’ve just lost credibility with people.  Trying to stop one myth in it’s track with one of the other extreme is not the way to go.

Instead we should be honest and do our best to give statements that leave people with the information that type 2 varies very much person to person.  We should set the example on how we want to be treated.  It sounds like Elementary School but over time I’ve realized that although it’s tempting to give people a short, simple, and informative answer, we simply can’t do that with a complicated disease.  We are going to have to take up more of people’s time or we are going to have to do something like this:  Next time someone says “If only type 2 diabetics would eat better and exercise more, they would be able to get off meds” we could say “That may be the case for some people but not for everyone because diabetes varies so much.  You know, maybe if the government used it’s money for fruit and vegetable subsidies instead of corn, beef, and tobacco subsidies, people would be able to afford healthier food.”  In other words, emphasize that “it varies” and then let’s remind people of one of the roots of the problem.  If we had better preventative care, if we all had easier access to fresh, healthy foods, if we didn’t have to tempted by a liter of soda being cheaper than a head of lettuce, maybe then more of us would eat better.  Everyone knows that’s true, they just need to be constantly reminded so that the bitter sentiment surrounding our health care crisis doesn’t get thrown onto those of us with the disease.

Part of our constant message should be that no one with diabetes should be blamed.  Compassion and understanding should be our focus because a lack of compassion breeds hurt and anger.  Then people take the hurt and anger and lash out illogically at those of us who are struggling with a disease or those of us with the disease lash out on ourselves in self destructive ways.  It’s a cycle we don’t want to continue living with.  And that’s why I think that it’s not as simple as telling people diabetes can’t be reversed.  It’s as complicated as explaining that it varies a lot, is very progressive, and that it’s mere presence is an indicator of how badly we need a cure and of how many things need to change in our society so that we can all be healthier.

Virtual 5k for Diabetes

virtual5k

There are several of what I call “Girl’s Guide Angels” out there.  You know, people who support my blogging and advocacy efforts and provide cheering and encouragement.  One of those people is Reyna, a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes.  I read her blog because she has an uncanny ability to turn her family’s unique life with diabetes into some of the most uplifting and hysterical stuff I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  So when I noticed last week that marathon running Reyna and her ultra marathon running sister (ultra-yes I didn’t know there was such a thing and yes, it blows the mind) started a fundraising event to raise money for diabetes, I said, “I’m SO in”. 

Go here for all the details.  If you’re like me and welcome any extra incentive out there to exercise, then say hello to this great one.  It’s lovely to do something like this and feel solidarity with all of the other people gearing up to do the same.  Not only is this for our cause, but walking or running a 5k is also a gift to our wellbeing which is more immediate than a cure-and that is a wonderful thing.  So forgive the cheesiness from yours truly and click over here to donate just $10 to the JDRF and register for the 5k. 

And in the case you’re on the fence and ever wanted to show your appreciation for this blog, you could participate in this Virtual 5k? Hehe.

As always, thanks for reading!

#HAWMC Shouting From The Rooftop of This Blog!

Courtesy of

Courtesy of Graur Codrin

 

Today’s Health Activist Writer’s Challenge prompt is a post secret. Or something personal we want to share or something we just want to shout from the rooftops.

So officially, I’m proclaiming that…

We deserve a cure for this disease because even though we’re happy, we’re living a crazy weird life full of needles and fear and paranoia. Many of us pay more than a dollar per strip every time we test-which we do many times a day! We count carbohydrates before taking a bite of food. We set alarms in the middle of the night to make sure we stay alive. We deal with mood swings from our changes in blood sugar. Many of us cannot survive without insulin for more than a few days. High blood sugar can kill us and low blood sugar can kill us. At any moment. We get tired but can’t quit fighting. For us, any small activity can be a complicated experiment. We often sacrifice our passions to work where we can get adequate health insurance. We try hard and often, we still don’t win. We deal with intense physical, psychological, and emotional pain without any breaks.

The fact that many of us are very kind, happy and healthy people is only a testament to how strong and soulful people can be. This observation is not to be used as proof that we don’t need or deserve a cure. We do. We need help. We need support. We need technological advancements. We need funding for all of the above.

Please keep that in mind when you see our fabulous selves walking down the street.

Possible Diabetes Breakthrough Info

 

I’ve never wanted to kiss a mouse before.  That is, until now.  Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have discovered that insulin may not function the way we’ve always thought. 

First off, remember the hormone, glucagon?  It raises blood sugars and is the reason a non-diabetic never passes out from hypoglycemia.  It stimulates the liver to release glucose into the blood stream when blood sugars are getting low and it also stimulates the release of insulin to keep blood sugars from going high.  Or so we think.

Researchers suppressed glucagon production in mice and then killed off 90% of their ability to make insulin and then fed them sugar.  And guess what happened?  They’re blood sugar remained stable.  They didn’t develop diabetes-in fact they stayed perfectly healthy.

Now because something works in mice does NOT mean it works in humans.  But, the hope is that by blocking excess glucagon, blood sugar regulation in humans will occur and insulin won’t even be required.

Again, it’s too soon to know if this will be the case for us humans.  (Fingers crossed everyone!)

But, it is exciting isn’t it?

Here is an article about it.  And the medical journal about it.

Journal Entry: Day of Diagnosis

 

Today, I’ve had diabetes 16 years.  Below is my journal entry from November 4th, 1994 when I was 11 and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes:

 You might understand more if you read the previous journal entry one month before.

Well God, I’m mad at you.  I just saw Ana check her blood sugar and it’s 168.  I’m in the hospital right now because I’m diabetic now, too.  That’s right, Diary.  I have diabetes.  I hate it already because it hurts to prick my finger and get shots.  I hate it because today Hale was coming over to ask me out and instead he had to call the hospital room to ask me over the phone.  So I guess today wasn’t too awful.  But, I feel really depressed because now Ana and I have this disease and I don’t see how they will cure it so fast like they say, in 10 years.  It just seems too hard to fix.  The doctor said I can’t eat any more sugar.  I have left my favorite Halloween candy for last! 

Whatever, the shots are the worst part.  And the complications.  The doctor says I will have to take care of my blood sugars or bad things could happen.  I know about those things, I read about them in a book when Ana was diagnosed.  I have to be here for days.  I just want to go to school and pretend this isn’t happening.

<words smeared by tears>

Anyway, other than this I’m fine.  I think I’m fine.  I’m going to be fine so Ana doesn’t see me upset and feel bad, too.  I don’t want mom and dad to worry so I’ll just act fine.  Stupid diabetes…

<blood smeared on the page>

 

This entry makes me think all sorts of different things.  It shows me how doctor’s recommendations keep changing for type 1 diabetics.  It shows me how much emotion I kept inside as an 11 year old.  I remember going to school the week after diagnosis and telling everyone I was fine and that diabetes wasn’t a big deal.  I was trying to tell myself that, mostly. 

This entry also reminds me that this November isn’t just my diabetes anniversary, it is the anniversary of my friend Hale’s death in a tragic car accident when he was only 17.  Back then, if you had told me that I would live longer than Hale I would have not believed you.  He was perfectly healthy and didn’t have diabetes like me.  

I’ve always hesitated celebrating another year with diabetes for fear it will lash out a complication on me as a sort of “oh no you don’t” warning.  But, in honor of Hale and all of those who leave us so soon I think I WILL celebrate this day because it signifies another year I’ve been privileged enough to see. 

Diabetes can kill so easily… making it another year should be considered a big deal.

 So toast with me to that!    <cling!>

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.

Can some diabetes be cured?

 

 

Apparently, it depends on who you ask.

We know that there is still no cure for the type of diabetes where someone is completely insulin dependent.  We don’t know how to get a pancreas that no longer makes insulin to just start up production again.  And many a pancreas just need to be more efficient yet, we don’t have medication created to give it the boost it needs to work properly again.

Then why is there so much talk about a cure for someone with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes?  Can some diabetes be cured?

A lot of people seem to think so.  Yet, a lot of people don’t.

I’ve tried understanding why people would say there is no cure for type 2 diabetes and I have come to the conclusion that the main issue is we all disagree on what a cure even means.

To some, a cure is being able to enjoy the right blood sugars again and be free of any medications.  Most importantly, to these people a cure means a life full of good health.

To others, a cure means being able to eat whatever, whenever, not exercise, and still, never ever have the wrong blood sugars again.  A magical cure that no matter how one chose to live would remove the risk of negative health complications from diabetes.  This cure also lasts forever otherwise it isn’t considered a real cure.

I find that the online diabetes community has a very strong following in the “there is no cure” category.  To me, this sentiment is largely emotionally based.  After all, why would we utter the words “there is a cure for diabetes” when we type 1 diabetics are desperate for a way to get off of insulin?  We could say “there is a cure for some diabetes” but people still don’t accept this.

Believe me I fully understand this emotional reaction.  I don’t want everyone in the world to believe there is a cure for diabetes because wait!  I, as a type 1 diabetic, can’t possibly lifestyle-change my way to freedom from high blood sugars.  So I want it to be known to all that there is no cure and we all need to find me one because I’m dying over here.

Or…do I?

Do I want people to know there is a “cure” for some cases of diabetes? 

Many doctors have great case studies showing how patients who truly followed their requests to lose extra weight (all of it, not just 10 pounds), exercise daily, and dramatically change their diets all returned to people who had non-diabetic glucose numbers and who no longer needed any sort of diabetes medication.  This means these folks have also halted the damage diabetes causes to their bodies. 

Sadly, most people have a very difficult time changing their lifestyle habits enough to achieve this.  We live in a world where people tell a healthy and trim person to eat a cake because they’re too skinny when in reality they are just fine.  We all seem to disagree on what healthy eating is.  Some think a low fat diet is healthy while others think a low carbohydrate diet is the thing.  We also disagree on how to exercise.  Dr. Al Sears says we should do 12 minutes a day of his intense PACE program and your average health care provider says 30 minutes, three times per week is ideal and a steady stroll around the block will suffice.  So not only are we confused about what to call a cure, we’re confused about general health topics.

What if many people managed to control their diabetes and keep it dormant or in remission by eating healthy and exercising enough?  The overwhelming majority of diabetics worldwide live with a strong possibility that this would work for them or at least help them out very much!  The diabetes epidemic might no longer be so powerful and destructive and more focus could go into finding a cure for those who are dependent on insulin.

Maybe we can all agree to say diabetes can in many cases be controlled so effectively that a person can live without suffering the harmful consequences of medications or high blood sugars.  We can all agree that we are still looking and pushing for a cure so that those who do not produce insulin or enough of it, can.  And maybe we should advocate equally towards a cure and towards educating the public on proper lifestyle habits.  If we did we’d save a lot of lives.  Yet would we in turn be sabotaging our own efforts to gain support for a cure?  Maybe we’re afraid of this and maybe this is why we are so reluctant to talk about how to stop and reverse high blood sugars in non-insulin dependent diabetics.

Why can’t we educate each other about how there are different types of diabetes?  Why can’t we support those who might be able to stop the damage by lifestyle habits and simultaneously support those who need a cure by advocating for it?  I believe we can do it all and should do it all.

The best diabetes advocate leads by example.  So I’m not going to stop exercising and I’m not going to live off of junk food because I want to support everyone else who may want to do the same by showing that it can be done and saying “join me!”.  I also know how hard diabetes is and I won’t have anything but compassion for anyone who is struggling. 

As always this site will be about inspiring and educating and sharing with those who live with diabetes.  Together we can be healthier and support the cause to find the cure.  I won’t however, advocate for a cure more than a healthy lifestyle because to me, a cure along with an unhealthy lifestyle will still leave us miserable and sick. 

Tell me I’m wrong.

When diabetes was cured (a fable)

  

(the following is a fictitious story meant to make us think, please don’t be confused)

 

When Diabetes Was Cured

 

One day, the cure for diabetes was found by a small and private group of scientists. Soon after, everyone had been injected with the healing serum.

There was no more diabetes.

There were no more diabetics.

What did people do?

“How about we throw a party?”  someone said.  “A party sounds like a great idea.  After all, when was the last time we’ve celebrated something this HUGE?” someone else exclaimed.

So a fabulous and joyful party was planned.  We all attended, of course.  We even bought the most fancy outfit because we were going to have a ton of extra money now that diabetes was out of the picture. 

At this enormous party we found all the carbs we’d been dreaming of.  There were hot buttered breads, mountains of pasta, tables full of cookies and ice cream galore!  We had all been waiting for this moment.  We had long dreamed of being able to stuff ourselves full of whatever it is we wanted without having to suffer the repercussions.  We had discussed this often in blogs and forums, about how we wanted to be fully cured and be able to eat our cake without any blood sugar problems.  So of course we all ate!  We were all very happy about eating like non-diabetics.  We also no longer had to count carbs, take our diabetes medication, or worry about giving a bolus or an injection.  We were free!

Everyone loaded their plates and ate and laughed, laughed and ate.  Some cried because the emotions were just too much.  “My child won’t have to suffer ever again!” one woman said.

After a night full of drinking champagne and eating ourselves happy we all woke up to a new and wonderful day.

We went to work like usual, but with an extra skip in our step.  Many of us stopped by our favorite breakfast spot and grabbed a pastry or a big muffin.  Others drove by McDonald’s and enjoyed something yummy and greasy.  Some of us ate at home.  We served ourselves our favorite sugary cereal, some orange juice, or a stack of pancakes drenched in syrup. 

We continued like this for a long time because we, “deserve to be treated after this diabetes disaster we had to endure”.

Most people also didn’t exercise much.  They had intentions of it but, after trying so hard to exercise while diabetic they just figured they’d give themselves a break.  “I’ll get in shape later, I have my whole life ahead of me right now and I’m going to be busy living it!”

A few people, the minority for sure, never did eat like the others.  They were just as excited don’t get me wrong, but, they ate really healthy and exercised just as they might have before the cure came along. These odd few got comments from the others like, “Why don’t you have some cake with us?!  It won’t hurt you anymore!” and “You’re such a drag, what do you mean you won’t come over for pizza?”  This strange minority felt lucky to be free of diabetes and wanted to support their health-especially now that it was easier to do so.  They did their best to not abuse their body.  People called them “uptight”. 

One day doctors realized most everyone was feeling sick.  Some had cancer, some had heart disease, others had metabolic syndromes.  Everyone was baffled.  They searched for ways to feel better and joined campaigns for cures for each problem. 

Time passed.

One day a 10 year old girl in science class began thinking about how she lived in a world where most people didn’t feel well.  She began researching for the cause.  She didn’t find much.  Most medical information seemed somehow tied to making money or running a business or providing symptomatic relief. 

Then one day she met a healthy looking woman walking in a park.  She marched right up to the woman and with hands on her hips asked her how she did it.  “How do I do what?”  The woman asked.  The girl persisted, “Are you healthy?  Do you feel well?  And if so how do you do it?”  The lady smiled.  She sat down on a bench with the girl and told her about the time, many years ago, when this disease called diabetes was cured.  She then told the girl this:  “You see dear, the problem never was the diabetes itself.  Everyone said, “Cure diabetes, fight diabetes, end diabetes!”  but, the real enemy was the fact that we didn’t have the right information, healthy habits, or enough discipline to follow those habits.  Since it’s difficult to consistently do the right thing, many people became sick and this over time affected their genes and their children got sick faster and next thing we knew, diabetes was a serious and complicated epidemic.  Obviously there are exceptions but, most likely, had people taken better care of themselves, diabetes would have never become what it was.” 

“Why are so many people sick now that there is no diabetes?” the girl asked.  “Well, perhaps it is because despite being healed of diabetes, people still didn’t change their lifestyles and suffered other health consequences as a result of this.  Our bodies were never meant to handle continuous abuse.  People haven’t understood yet that to feel good and be healthy we have to take the necessary actions-like eat healthy and exercise.  The cure was a wonderful thing, but we didn’t learn much from our experience with diabetes, I’m afraid.”

The girl sat contemplating for a few minutes.  Then she looked at the woman and asked, “Is it too late for us?”

The woman smiled at the girl, looked her square in the eyes and said firmly,

“No.  It’s not too late.”

Hope for a cure but, don’t wait for it

        I’ve met many diabetics who say they constantly pray, hope, and wish for a cure for diabetes. 

While this is great, I just want to warn against one thing. 

Pray, hope, and wish for a cure but, don’t put all of your eggs in that basket.  15 years ago doctors told me there would be a cure within the next 10 years.  For 10 years I hoped for that with all of my soul, believing I’d soon be saved.  Then I realized those 10 years had passed and not only had we still not found a cure-we are now dealing with a huge diabetes epidemic in this country. 

So much research money is going into type 2 diabetes drugs and we now have more insulin types, we have insulin pens and better than ever glucose meters.  Diabetes is a huge business.  This scares the heck out of me. 

Why?

Well, are we really going to find a cure when diabetes makes so many people so much money?  We are talking billions here. Think about it-and I’m not the only one asking this question.  Money has such a huge pull around here (in this world) and I can’t help but worry that will get in the way of our cure.

Having said this, I am still hopeful of a cure and support the cause.  BUT, instead of focusing my precious energy on that, I focus on NOW.  I put my attention where it is most needed, today.  My glucose management.  I know that If I maintain near normal glucose as much as possible, I will live a much healthier life today and tomorrow. 

For a type 2 diabetic, getting your sugar down with diet, exercise, and whatever else it takes can quite possibly cure your diabetes.  Think of all you have to gain even if you have to work hard at it? 

I refuse to sit around waiting for a cure to be found by smart people in white coats while I fall apart. 

Instead, my goal and hope for all of you is to recognize the possibility of no cure being found in our lifetime (although I wish highly against this).  And instead, to be your own group of smart people curing your own diabetes or dictating your own future with great diabetes management and healthy lifestyles. 

To our future, with or without a cure.

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