Tag Archives: diabetes

Diabetes Blog Week 2012, I’m a Thinker

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Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”.  But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit.  Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly!  Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes.  Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!

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What do I do well?  Funny you ask, I was just thinking about how I’m not the fastest at anything, I get lost driving in the town I spent my entire life in, I get nervous easily, I get tempted by ice cream really easily, I get swept up by my emotions all too often, I quit tons of things I start like someone with ADD, I’m too sensitive, and I am really messy, but I’m good at thinking.

Maybe this isn’t a special thing but I feel like it’s the best part of me.  I can problem solve well and think about complicated issues in a simple and organized way.  I’ve thought about a lot of things and predicted an outcome based on all the information I gathered and have usually been right-something that freaks my husband out.

I do this with my diabetes.  I figured out a lot of diabetes stuff that I later confirmed in diabetes books written by doctors.  And I won’t lie, I felt pretty excited to have reached the conclusion before a doctor gave me the info.  Sometimes I feel like it’s a useless skill because of how dependent life is on action.

Basically, I find that I can think things through and make really accurate decisions.  I think that’s how I manage my diabetes pretty well now.  Of course, it takes discipline, too.  I do envy people who are great with discipline and consistency.  Maybe one day I’ll get there.

Learning to Put Diabetes First

I feel like I say this in every post now, but I’m so busy ALL the time. At least that’s what it seems like because I always have things to get done. Balancing so many responsibilities is tough and definitely stressful and my diabetes control is suffering a little because of it. I admit that recently I’ve been letting my diabetes take the back seat. I may need to give insulin, but if I need to catch the bus, I’ll wait until I get to class to give my injection. I eat at random times and my meals are not always wholesome–a consequence of working around classes and meetings (and weather sometimes…). During nights when I have to stay up doing homework, I tend to get hungry and I snack. Only in the morning do I regret doing so, once I see the 250 on my meter. Sometimes I skip lunch and then eat too much for dinner. The list goes on a little further, but I’ll stop before I make myself look worse…

So what I’m trying to say is that we need to learn to put diabetes first. If you think about it, it makes sense to. The way we feel determines whether our day will be productive or not. If you don’t monitor your bloodsugar levels and give your insulin on time and eat nutritious foods at consistent times, it’s going to make you not feel so good later on. And let’s face it, when you don’t feel good, you don’t feel like doing much. At least I don’t. I would rather lay in my bed and watch movies or sleep. Especially if it’s raining, too.

I’m finally getting into more of a routine here at school and learning better time management so now my goal is to get back on track with my diabetes control. The picture above is of a meal I made for myself a few days ago. I was having frequent stomach aches and thought that plainer foods such as a salad and some pita bread and hummus would be good to eat. I made my own vinaigrette as well. That meal was delicious and I felt really good afterwards. The only problem is that it took a fair amount of time to prepare. Time that I don’t always have!  I feel like I rarely have time to make food for myself so I resort to microwaveable food. But again, it’s a matter of prioritizing. I can make time if I really try. If I need to, I’ll wake up a few minutes earlier so I have enough time to give insulin and eat breakfast in the morning. I will pack lunch when I know that I’m going to paint in the studio in between classes. I will finish homework earlier if I can, so I won’t have to stay up late and be tempted to late-night snack. As you can see, the common theme here is planning ahead. Unstable control can be a hugely stressful part of your life. By planning ahead, you can make your life much less stressful. I’m up for anything that will do that!

Diabetes, You’re a Nag

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Photo courtesy of Paul

 

It’s the story of our lives.  The one that never ends…

Sometimes life with diabetes feels like…well this is what comes to mind:  Me, with diabetes’ hands (yes I personified an “invisible” disease) around my neck.  Diabetes is choking me and I’m wailing my arms, struggling to get the hands to loosen their grip, trying to kick the legs out from under diabetes.

Other times I feel like I’m standing on Mount Everest, hands on hips, triumphantly looking down on a tiny spec that is diabetes saying “Ah ha ha ha!”

Then most of the time, I feel somewhere in the middle.  Diabetes is a nag.  Nag when I’m changing a diaper or bathing two little ones.  Nag when I’m making dinner.  Nag when I’m 200 before bed.  Nag when I’m paying for insurance and diabetes supplies.

Just like what is known as a “nagging wife”.  Only, here is what I’ve realized: a wife doesn’t nag-she simply points out the obvious, she repeats things that need to be repeated because they weren’t done in the first place.  So when our diabetes nags us, diabetes is just speaking out saying “Hellooo! I’m here! or in other cases, “I hate to point this out but…it’s just that I deserve better.”

So today when I felt “nagged” by the incessant need to test and give insulin, I thought, oh wait, diabetes is just saying, “I need this and I need that”.  And I know this is a wacky way to personify diabetes but truthfully since it’s so much a part of my body, I feel better thinking of diabetes as a nag rather than an enemy of sorts.  I want diabetes cured, of course, but in the meantime it’s kind of the boss.  And frankly, when I do all that is needed, our home which is my body, runs pretty smoothly and we get along just fine.

Maybe Sometimes We Feel Afraid, But Its Alright

By Ana Morales

Untitled by Ana Morales

This summer, I enrolled in a 5-week online class to lighten my load during the school year. It was a 3-credit health class that basically focused on individual and community wellness and I enjoyed it for the most part and did really well. However, I frequently felt sad, upset, and scared as I read the book, which might seem weird, or maybe that’s normal for someone in my situation, I don’t know. I mean, as a Type 1 diabetic, I know what other health problems I’m at risk for, but something about the combination of the rapid pace, subject, and timing of the class temporarily overwhelmed me.

I was diagnosed when I was 3, and I remember that when I was in elementary school and even middle school, I never really understood the complications of diabetes besides the immediate or near future ones. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned this disease we have affects our whole body and puts us at a higher risk for what seems like every other health problem. That’s a really scary thought and you’d think it would be a big enough reason to not mess around…

The past few years though, I admit I’ve struggled with diabetes more than at any other point in my life. It’s definitely not pleasant at all, and as an extremely emotional person it has taken quite a toll on me, and the ones close to me are witnesses. The book I read for my health class seemed to go on and on about all the things that could go wrong with me because of diabetes and it almost made me feel hopeless sometimes because it just seems impossible to avoid those things… I even read about how gum disease is an early complication of diabetes and then a few days later at my dentist appointment, my dentist told me my gums need to be healthier because I’m already at a higher risk for gum disease. Sigh..I just can’t escape it.

Diabetes Art Day 2010 by Ana Morales

Fortunately for me, I have a sister who is in the same boat as me and is great at sharing info and being optimistic, a supportive family that puts my health first, and a wonderful boyfriend who took the initiative to learn about diabetes himself and never makes me feel ashamed of dealing with the disease. I know it could be so much worse and that’s what I try to remind myself of when I start to feel pessimistic. The fact that we don’t give up hope shows just how strong we are, because it takes a lot of effort to keep trying, especially with a disease that never takes a break. I wish more people acknowledged that, or even knew it. But all we can do for now is patiently educate them and hope for the best. And if today happens to be one of those pessimistic days for you, remember who or what you have that makes your life worth living, and progress from there :]

10 Things I Hate About You, Diabetes

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Today’s Diabetes Blog Week prompt:

Ten things I hate about you, Diabetes – Thursday 5/12: Having a positive attitude is important . . . but let’s face it, diabetes isn’t all sunshine and roses (or glitter and unicorns, for that matter). So today let’s vent by listing ten things about diabetes that we hate. Make them funny, make them sarcastic, make them serious, make them anything you want them to be!!

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Courtesy of Suat Eman

 

1.  I hate that sometimes I have to jump out of my warm shower and drip water and soap all over the floor because you require sugar treatment.

2.  I hate that your name, diabetes, sounds like “die” at the beginning.  Although it doesn’t surprise me.

3.  I hate that you help me put on extra weight because let me tell you, I used to be really skinny and frankly I loved it.  You need not be in that territory, believe me.

4.  I hate that because of you, diabetes, I had a crazy hard time enjoying what should have been a more fun and marvelous pregnancy and birth of my twins.  Instead, for a while there, I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it.

5.  I hate that because of you, diabetes, I have a weird and sometimes unhealthy relationship with food.  Carbs laugh at me and look at me with these dark squinty evil eyes and say, “Eat me, I dare you!”

6.  I hate that on my wedding day, while I danced with my new hubby, most of my thoughts were about how much my feet hurt because my blood sugar was high.  The five inch stilettos didn’t help matters.

7.  I hate that I worked at jobs I hated for years because I worked for insurance only.  You should have never threatened me in that way. 

8.  I hate that I assume you’re behind every negative thing that has ever happened to me.  You don’t own everything. 

9.  I hate that I can be human, and simply forget something, and because of you that mistake can cost me my life. 

10.  Last but not least, I hate that I can’t always control you.  You’re a real pain in my perfectionistic behind.  And I hate knowing I’ll have to change my ways before you will change yours. 

Diabetes, all this talk of hate makes me really uncomfortable.   So I will leave you with these words:  I’m going to beat the heck out of you with my awesomeness.

Is it Insulin Resistance?

 

photo courtesy of JScreationzs
photo courtesy of JScreationzs

 

Insulin resistance is what happens to people which causes them to have type 2 diabetes right?  They make enough insulin but the body doesn’t utilize it properly so blood sugars go up.  I have type 1 diabetes but also a history of type 2 diabetes in my family.  I’m also Hispanic living in the United States which statistically makes me more prone to type 2 diabetes.  I can’t get type 2 now that I have type 1 but I can certainly develop insulin resistance. 

I think I’ve dealt with it before.  I remember in high school I suddenly went from 115 pounds all the way up to over 150 pounds.  I’m a tiny person so this was pretty dramatic and traumatic for me.  At the time my blood sugars were often pretty high.  I was very active throughout all this time in high school so I didn’t understand why I was gaining so much weight.  It seemed so unfair.  I ate like my friends and I exercised the same or more than they did and there I was, getting bigger and bigger. 

In college I got even heavier until I radically changed my diet (think lots of protein and veggies) and eventually shed lots of weight.   Next thing I knew I needed a lot less insulin to cover the same amount of carbohydrates and I had a much easier time managing my blood sugars. 

Lately, I’ve been getting these dark shadings on my skin in areas where there might be friction (bra strap, shoes) and I remember having those in high school.  Those markings can signify insulin resistance.  Seriously?  It’s back?  I have an appointment with an endocrinologist in a few weeks to discuss this and see what I can do.  I’m at a loss because I am not overweight anymore, although I could lose 20 pounds safely (If I want to look more like a model).  I eat pretty healthy and I don’t overeat-and I exercise.  Oh and my blood sugars are usually great.  It feels as if I don’t have any control over this now.  I’m sure that isn’t true but it feels like my own self-help options have run out. 

The interesting thing is I don’t use much insulin.  However, I don’t eat much and I don’t eat many carbs so that should do it eh?

Lately I’ve done a lot of working out with the kettle bell in an attempt to increase calorie burning muscle mass.  It’s working, I’m gaining muscle and toning curves which is great.  But, the working out plus the weekly caloric intake doesn’t justify what is going on with the scale.  I’ve tried eating more and boy did that backfire.  So I’m back to confused. 

We’ll see what the doc says.  In the meantime I’m hoping my only option isn’t something like Symlin or Metformin because I hear those cause nausea and I’m very sensitive to drugs and feel their side effects really strongly.  Yet, I’ve heard those work for a lot of people dealing with insulin resistance…

Sigh…I don’t want something extraordinary.  I just want to eat normal and exercise normal and get normal results. 

Anyone dealing with something similar?

Ask Yourself this Question Each Day

 

What is my motivation today?  The answer to this question is what carries me from day to day with type 1 diabetes.  The days I don’t do well with this disease are often the days I forget to pinpoint for myself, just what I’m doing all this work for.  I know I’m doing it for big health reasons, but those reasons are not immediate enough.  I need a motivator that is close by and one I can reap rewards from really quickly. 

For example:  My husband and children had a cold last week.  I’ve never not caught a cold from them but after a few days noticed the three of them had passed the cold around and I was (gasp!) still feeling fine.  So for those couple of days my motivation each day for keeping my blood sugars in line was to not get sick.  If my blood sugar was high, my immune system would be weaker and perhaps I’d catch the cold.  So all day long I focused on keeping good blood sugar levels.  A week has gone by and I’m out of the clear! 

Another example:  On some days, my husband and I take our kids out after he gets home from work.  My motivation then is to have controlled blood sugars so that I can feel good enough to take our kids for an outing.  They’re 20 months old and mighty difficult to manage these days so when my sugars are off, I worry I won’t have the energy it requires to take care of them and so we don’t go anywhere.  The kids love going out and I’d hate to be the reason they didn’t go somewhere, so I make sure my blood sugars are where they need to be.  When we do have to cancel a trip because of me, I know it’s not often and therefore I feel ok with it.

When I was working outside of the home, my motivation each day was to be on top of my game at work.  I didn’t want to look weak by dealing with too many lows or highs and I wanted to maintain the quantity and quality of my work load. 

Obviously, there will be days where nothing seems motivating enough to deal with diabetes.  On these days you just have to forgive yourself and take things one step at a time.  There will be days where diabetes will just deal too tricky a card and numbers will be out of whack.  Don’t worry about those days.  Just do what you have to do to get back in range. 

But on all the other days, ask yourself what you want, what your motivation for having good blood sugars is.  Then use this energy to make it happen.  The snowball effect happens when you do this and more health and more opportunities come rolling your way!

Tips for College Students with Diabetes

This is a post by Ana Morales.

A college campus can be a huge transformation after living at home, especially if you attend a large university. It is hard to anticipate the changes beforehand even if you speak to someone who is in a similar situation because everyone’s college experience is unique. However, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind when preparing to leave home and start a more independent life at college.

For the first few weeks pay extra close attention to your blood sugar levels and how you feel throughout the day. Many students tend to change their diet when they are in college, and, not only do you not want to be a victim of the “Freshman 15”, you also don’t want your blood sugars to be all over the place while you’re trying to stay sane during this high school-to-college transition. Also, in many cases you will be walking quite a bit, and this mild yet consistent form of exercise will affect your body. You may have to alter your insulin doses, including your basal rate if you’re on a pump or your injection of long-acting insulin.

Keep in mind that while you may never be too far from your dorm room, you should always be prepared for an emergency. Carry some money with you even if you have an ID card that allows you to buy food on campus. You should also always have a snack with you and some form of fast-acting sugar such as fruit juice. Know your way around the campus and memorize where the vending machines are in case your blood sugar drops and you forget or run out of food/juice. Make an effort to contact your professors before classes start or at least during the first week, and inform them of your situation so that they’ll be more understanding if you’re ever late or absent in the future due to a diabetes-related incident. You should also have a few friends who live on or near campus as well who you can easily contact in case of an emergency. A bonus is if they have a car :] Make sure your roommate knows what’s going on too!

Try not to feel too overwhelmed if your blood sugar levels are a little unpredictable at first. Just be observant and even keep a daily log if that helps you feel more in control. I thought I was stressed out in high school, but college revealed a new level of stress to me. As you probably know, stress also tends to make blood sugar a little higher. Do what you can to relieve your stress, such as taking short breaks in between homework or studying, going to sleep early, eating well, listening to music (check out The Diabetic Girl’s Playlist), or just doing something you enjoy for a little bit. Being sick while at college can also cause stress and is just unpleasant, so try your best to avoid getting sick. Wash your hands often, take vitamin C, drink lots of water, etc.

College is an ideal time for exploration and learning. Don’t let diabetes hold you back from taking full advantage of the college experience. Join a Latin dance club. Attend sports events and show off your school spirit. Listen to a different guest speaker every week. Join a debate team. Participate in a huge art project. Do what your heart desires and do it feeling good and in control of your diabetes.

6 Things I Want You to Know About Diabetes

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6.  I want you to know that Diabetes is very serious and although diabetics often seem carefree, they’re often not, whether they manage they’re diabetes well or not. 

5.  I want you to know that Diabetes is not nearly as common in 3rd world and Developing countries as it is in Developed ones.  This means that we should pay attention to what we’re doing differently and learn what we can change to help ourselves-such as eating differently.  Just because we’re “developed” doesn’t mean we’re doing all the right things.  Nor does it mean the convenience of pop tarts is worth it.

4.  I want you to know that Diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your dreams.  Your dreams however, may have to make some small adjustments.

3.  I want you to know that Diabetes isn’t as silent a killer as people think.  If you don’t feel super duper great, then your health isn’t in tip top shape.  Many adults don’t know they have diabetes but, they know they don’t feel too hot.  We should expect to feel healthy and if we don’t we should strive to figure out what is between us and feeling great and then work towards feeling wonderful again.  Maybe we’ll never feel wonderful but, most can get pretty close with a lot of hard work.  Our standards for feeling healthy should rise.  Don’t settle for feeling so-so.

2.  I want you to know that Diabetes is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with.  And I’ve dealt with loss of family and friends.  Not to mention large kidney stones, surgery, many years of depression, and chronic childhood shyness.  (And there’s much more).  Diabetes has been the worst experience of all and I’m afraid the worst is yet to come.

1.    I want you to know that a cure for diabetes is being significantly delayed by a greed for money.  Money rules the world only because we allow it to.  We have more power than we think.  Angry about corn syrup being in much of our food supply?  Boycott any product with corn syrup.  If many of us did this I promise you corn syrup would start disappearing from ingredient labels.  Upset over the lack of diabetes support groups?  Start one.  Stop being a victim and start being the change you want to see in the world. 

Gandhi sure had it right.

About Non-Diabetics Frightened by Diabetic Needles

 

I can sympathize with people who squirm when they see blood coming out of a wound or a needle going into someone.  I am one of those sensitive people that sees blood and has to fight from going a little loopy.  When I was younger I had a particularly hard time getting my blood drawn for lab tests because although I wouldn’t look at my arm and the needle and tubing, I would imagine it.  I would imagine the dark red flowing through the tubing and it would just make me want to pass out or throw up.  Sometimes the nurse would have to put a cotton ball soaked in ammonia under my nose because it looked like I was “going to go” (meaning pass out). 

Non-diabetics out there, if this is you, there is something I plead with you NOT to do.  Don’t cringe when you see your diabetic friend or family member prick their finger or give an injection.  Just look away.  You’re a big girl or boy, now.  No need to start hollering about how you get goose bumps or all tingly when you see us do our “freaky” and oh so necessary things. 

If you have a serious phobia towards blood and needles, tell your diabetic friend in private.  I’m pretty sure they will be respectful of you and do their business away from you or they’ll warn you before they do so you don’t have to witness. 

But, please, please know how hurtful it can be when someone does this:

I was at work a while back when I went to eat lunch with a bunch of friends/co-workers.  I did my usual thing and discreetly gave my insulin shot at the table.  Someone noticed and started pointing and drawing attention to him and myself.  He was sliding under the table and being overly dramatic.  He went on about how he couldn’t watch (yet, he never looked away) and he said (while smiling) that what I was doing was hurting him.  My normal self wanted to smack him.  My exposed and self-conscious, embarrassed self felt hurt.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to scream at him and say, “NO, the person this really hurts is me, because I do it or die, because the needle goes into ME, and because I have to do it in front of people who may react like YOU and cause an entire restaurant to stare at me.”

And at the very moment I thought I might explode into tears, a male co-worker said loudly to the guy causing the scene, “You’ve gotta be kidding me, hey buddy, I need you to man up.”  The guy who was now laughing started excusing himself, “But, I ..I…” -“No excuses, I don’t want to hear them, you need to just man up”, replied my co-worker.  I shot him a big “THANK YOU” look and we all went back to our lunch. 

Maybe I’m saying too much when I say that I felt this guy stood up for all of us diabetics that day.  It’s funny how many of us at work always found him kind of annoying because he was always so outspoken.  Yet, when saying the right things, these people are treasures.  They have the guts to say something loud, in front of a crowd, and deal with whatever happens as a result.  I appreciate their boldness.

And about the people who are squeemish to what we diabetics have to do…people don’t mean to be disrespectful or hurtful with their actions.  They just aren’t thinking.  Or, they’re just thinking about themselves.  So we just need to explain to them that they’re actions are hurtful and that if they truly have a hard time with what we do, we’ll respect that and do what we can to help them. 

I can admit there needs to exist a mutual respect between those who “can’t handle” needles and those who survive by them.

What do you think?

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