More Fingersticks?

Have you ever seen the fingers of a person with diabetes? Mine don’t actually look like that because I manage my condition with medication rather than with insulin and I don’t have to prick my dedos very often. Now the question is, why would I want to prick my fingers more often? I won’t lie to you, one gets used to the lancet, but it hurts (ask my husband). I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for people who have to check often.

However, I’ve been thinking if it’s right for me to test my blood sugars only 2-3 a week. I think I’d feel more comfortable with once a day, so I can test every day at a different time to actually have a good idea of how my pancreas/liver/cells combo reacts to what I eat, my activity levels, etc. Is that unreasonable? While the medical community agrees that people who don’t use insulin don’t need to test daily, I’m just not sure it helps in the long run.

Sure, we non-insulin peeps don’t have to deal with that many lows, and the A1C may give us a decent idea of how our blood sugars have been, but an average doesn’t really tell you about day to day levels. What if you’re sick? What if you ate something you thought wouldn’t raise your levels, but it actually did? How do you know what is your bad time of the day? If I go by symptoms, that doesn’t help because sometimes I don’t even feel like my levels are high unless I’m super jittery and that’s because the level is really high.

I guess I better talk about this post with my endocrinologist when I go see him next week. I want to have a better understanding of how my body works and I think keeping more records about my blood sugar levels will help.

Help is all around

Last night’s DSMA chat on twitter was about dealing with other chronic conditions related or not to diabetes. At the end of the hour everyone was talking about depression and how difficult it makes to manage any condition that requires us to care about ourselves and keep some kind of discipline. The biggest question was if we thought mental treatment should be required for people who have to live with a chronic disease like diabetes. And this is what I think…

While I don’t think mental help should be required for people who have diabetes (and other chronic conditions), it should be greatly encouraged by health professionals. I understand that not everyone wants to be open about depression because it’s so stigmatized, but in my personal case I thank my endocrinologist for making treating my depression a priority. Let’s go back to November and we can see a big 8.6 A1C result because I was in such a rut I just didn’t have the will to live. Forward to now, after I listened to my doctor and went to seek for help (again… because my depression is recurrent) and my A1C last week was 6.4.

We all need motivation to accomplish things in life. Now add to that the fact that you have to live and deal with an illness every single day… you tend to fall off the wagon quite often (at least I do). Imagine all your motivation just goes down the drain and it’s so much more than just a bad day. Weeks pass and you don’t feel better, your whole body aches, all you want to do is crawl on the floor and you feel like you simply don’t belong. Imagine the impact that kind of episode can have in the management of a condition like diabetes that requires so much discipline?

I for one I’m glad I listen to my doctor. And I’m glad that my psychiatrist told me my antidepressants are just another medication for diabetes. I’m glad that I started doing something for myself because now I have the energy and the motivation to do what I’m supposed to do every single day. And the most important thing is that I have a clear head to understand that I don’t have to be perfect to take care of myself.

So if you’re dealing with depression, please share it with someone who can shed some light so you’re not so lost in the dark. More often than not other people will tell you they’re going through the same thing. If you are capable of being outspoken about depression and chronic diseases, then speak out loud for other people to understand they’re not alone. And if your doctor recommends you to look for help, just do it… you’ll be grateful.

Help with Depression

The DSMA Blog Carnival this month is about what can we do to help stop depression from hitting our community during the winter months.

Believe me, it’s not easy battle.  Depression can undermine even your most minimal efforts to keep your diabetes in check. You lose motivation, you lose self-esteem, you stop caring. With that comes not checking your blood sugars, not eating well, not taking your medications and consequently you can end up like me, with an A1C of 8.6% — How did I get there? I don’t care. What I care about is the fact that I did what I was advised to do and I’m here waiting for my latest A1C result, which I’m convinced will be much better.

So, what can we do to help?

  • Listen. Actually, ask! In my opinion, when you’re in a community where you get to know people well, you can tell when something is out of place. There are keywords that we can learn to identify to realize someone is having a hard time with depression. So yes, don’t be afraid to ask someone if they’re doing OK. Most of the time just having someone who cares is enough to makes us do something about our condition.
  • Remind the people in your community of all the good things they do and how much you admire them. I can tell you for a fact that when depression hits, it’s very difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is there. And just a few kind words can help you see it a little bit better.
  • Tell people it is OK to ask for help and advise them to do so. I believe in doctors, I believe in psychologists, I believe that sometimes medication can at least help you bounce back so you can take the reins of your life and do what will eventually get you on the right track.
  • Don’t dismiss people’s feelings and don’t think that it’s just a matter of forgetting about it and do stuff. Depression means you’re so out of motivation than when someone tells you to just get up and get going feels like a huge slap in the face. Ask how can you help, and react lovingly. Most of the time we know what to do, we just don’t know how to. Offer your advice with compassion.
  • Just be there. Support, comfort… that’s what we need. No pity, no validation of negative feelings, just a kind word to remind us there is a way out.

Stress Management for Diabetics

Accu-check’s Diabetes Link has started a series about stress management for people with diabetes. I want to share the first part and thank them for the link to my blog.

Stress: The American Way of Life

Stress is about as American as apple pie. Perhaps even more so, since it’s become more common than home-baked pastries. But just because stress is rampant doesn’t mean you have to give in to those feelings while managing diabetes.

In small doses, stress can be good for you—your body naturally responds by releasing hormones that energize you, helping you take on challenges and win.1 That’s why some people feel like they’re more productive as a deadline approaches or why you may suddenly feel invincible when you’re playing competitive sports.

However, if your stress response goes on for too long, it can lead to trouble—especially if you have diabetes.1,2 Why? Your body responds to stress by releasing sugars, fats and hormones into your bloodstream to boost your energy and fight the stress. As a result, for people with diabetes, stress can lead to high blood sugar levels.3

So having diabetes can be stressful and stress can increase your blood sugar. A vicious cycle? Yes, but you have the power to short-circuit it, and throughout this series of posts, we’ll give you tips for coping with stress.

In the meantime, see how some of our favorite bloggers manage diabetes and stress:

Renewed Motivation

You don’t know how badly depression can affect your management of a chronic disease until you’re out of it and you can look at the situation objectively. 2011 was a very difficult year for me, mostly because there was such a huge imbalance of chemicals in my body that I simply stopped caring about everything. Things I used to enjoy became an annoyance and I had this horrible feeling that nobody even acknowledged my existence in the DOC. The Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women conference went by and I felt like a zombie, I barely attended the sessions and I was a total stranger to the lady I shared rooms with. Then I was in San Diego for the Roche Social Media Summit, and while I tried really hard to participate as much as I could, I still felt like I was in a parallel universe of sorts. I thought I was some kind of joke for calling myself a Diabetes Advocate, when I wasn’t actively doing anything… I wasn’t even posting on twitter.

Then November came and I went to see my endocrinologist, told him about how horrible I felt, and he sent me to see a psychiatrist who could help me figure out why depression came to kick me in the butt again. After a long talk with the psychiatrist, who I have to say I liked very much, he decided to add Wellbutrin to my Prozac and see how it went. So far, so good… It’s even helping to control my appetite, and that is always a plus when you are obese. I will meet with a health psychologist on Wednesday and she will help me trace the map for the changes I need to implement in my life so I can grab diabetes by the horns and manage it more efficiently.

Along with my medical resources and my wonderful husband also comes the DOC, in which I’ve been trying to participate more actively and I know it will require a little bit of effort to make myself known to everybody, which is my goal. The fact is, if it wasn’t for the DOC I would probably not care about my diabetes as much as I do and I wouldn’t educate myself about diabetes like I do. I’m very happy that I finally took the time to go to blogrolls and I found a bunch of type 2 diabetics I can relate to.

So with this renewed motivation I hope to FINALLY take the right steps and stay on the right path for a healthy life. And what better way to help yourself than sharing with others. So I revamped my blog, got my a funny domain name and I’m reading d-blogs with discipline and interest. It feels wonderful! I missed me.