Meet my New Best Friend

In a previous post I mentioned that I’ve been struggling with my diabetes management. Back in October my A1C was 8.3, and I thought going back to my regular care routine and making better choices was going to fix that. It didn’t… My latest A1C is a whooping 9.5, a number I have never seen. I felt like a complete loser, and my doctor was nice about it, but she reminded me that diabetes isn’t something to play with. Basically, she said, mine is progressing and we better do something about it.

When I asked if it was too early to start insulin therapy, she said we should try something else first. So she prescribed Victoza, I got my prescription and I’m going to see the nurse tomorrow to learn how to inject myself. Some people think I’m afraid of the needle… Are you serious? Are there any people with diabetes who are afraid of needles? If so, I would like to meet them! So no, I am not afraid of needles. I am, however, not looking forward to the nausea side effect I’ve heard about. Other than that, I’m ready.

I’m trying my best to not look at this as a defeat. Metformin has worked for me for the last 12-13 years, but it’s just not enough anymore. I’m hoping that with a better diet and exercise my glucose levels will improve, and maybe I won’t have to depend on the medication so much.

It is maddening, though… Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you eat well, especially when you’re sick. Last week I had a stomach bug, and every time I checked my blood glucose it was on the 200s, It’s slowly getting better; although I haven’t seen anything under 150 while fasting. So anyone who thinks type 2 diabetes isn’t frustrating, has surely not walked in my shoes.

I don’t know how many people are reading,  but I would like to know about experiences with Victoza. I’ve heard it has really made a difference for quite a few people with type 2 diabetes, and I hope it will make a difference for me.

Bring on that fancy pen!


Surviving Christmas with the Diabetes Police

Originally posted on Diabetes Daily:

It’s beginning to look a lot like… CARBS! Yes, it’s that time of the year for over-indulging. All that delicious food, loaded with butter and sugar. So tasty… so comforting… so… STOP! At least that’s what we’re going to hear the most because we live with diabetes. Oh, yes, the Diabetes Police are out to get us. They “know” sugar is bad for us, and they want to keep us away from it. Don’t even look at that nice tray of cookies.

Annoying, right?

So, if this is that special time of the year to eat, drink and be merry, how are we supposed to enjoy the holidays with someone nagging us about what we should and shouldn’t eat? I’ve been there, with someone giving me the stink eye because I went for the sweets. It’s embarrassing, it’s infuriating—especially when you’re chastised in front of everybody—and I know it takes a lot of self-control sometimes not to snap. After all, we’re already living with a condition that limits some of the choices we make, and having someone reminding us of the fact isn’t much fun.

How do we handle it, then? Here are 5 tips:

  1. Education. I think dealing with the Diabetes Police is an opportunity to educate others about how we deal with diabetes and its many complexities. Tell them about how some of us use insulin to help our bodies process carbs; or explain how even people with diabetes can learn to be smart about food choices and exchanges without having to sacrifice  a good moment at the table. Most people just don’t know better.
  2. Planning ahead. We can be honest and upfront, and ask people not to single us out no matter how good their intentions are. Instead of getting reactive, we can be proactive. For example, is there a way to prepare certain foods you know would be healthier? Don’t be afraid to ask if it’s possible to accommodate it.
  3. Realistic behavior. We know how our bodies work, we know how those 90 grams of carbs will make us feel. So the best way to keep the Diabetes Police at bay is probably stay on track with our own management. We have the knowledge, we have the tools, it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves.
  4. Self-love. The most important thing is to keep in mind that we don’t have to be perfect, and we can’t let other people make us feel bad for not being perfect. Remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Accept the challenges, roll with the punches, correct whenever you have to, and move on. But most of all, demand respect from others.
  5. Appreciation. In the end, our family and friends think they’re helping us, supporting us, and doing what’s best for us. Understanding what good support looks like for people with diabetes isn’t easy, so we’ve gotta remember that they’re policing and they’re comments are usually coming from a place of love.

I hope you all have a blessed holiday season, happy numbers and lots of memories to cherish!

BG Testing… 1,2,3…

Originally posted on Diabetes Daily.

The first time my endocrinologist told me I was doing so well managing my blood glucose levels, I only needed to test them 2-3 times a week, I laughed… hard… I looked at him with a big “REALLY?” stamped on my forehead. He assured me it was okay, so I thought it was okay.

Guess what? It isn’t okay!

In 2008, I worked for a company that sold diabetes supplies and delivered them in the mail. While I tried to appreciate the experience for what it was, and did my best to keep my compassionate and caring attitude toward the customers, I got burned out pretty quickly. Among the many things that made me unhappy about that job was the absurd insurance companies’ policies when it came to the limit on test strips.

Insurance companies in general oversimplify something that isn’t simple at all. Their perfect equation goes something like this: you use insulin, you test 3 times a day; you don’t use insulin, you test 1 time a day. And good luck with that! Forget the highs and the lows during the day, and just guess what your food can do to your glucose levels before you put it in your mouth. Easy, right? No.

I speak from the perspective of a person with type 2 diabetes who doesn’t use insulin. Most of the time, I’m just praying to the gland gods to behave when I eat. Many times I don’t even pay attention and have the negative thought train about dying any day, anyway, so why bother? And you know why that is? Because I was told it was OK to test only 2-3 times a week… so the rest of the time I’m completely oblivious.

It’s really hard to get into a blood glucose testing routine when you’re advised to do it so randomly. If you choose to stick to that necessary routine and use more test strips, good luck paying for them out of your pocket. I’ve gone without testing for long periods of time, mostly as a personal choice (irresponsible choice, I may add), and let me tell you that not knowing your numbers isn’t a good thing. Especially when you rely on food choices; sometimes even the healthy stuff may play a bad trick.

So, how do you know? By testing your blood sugar more often!

If you’re not testing often because you believe that people with type 2 diabetes shouldn’t test that often, consider talking to your doctor about increasing the amount of test strips in that prescription. Knowledge is power. It’s frustrating not to know where you’re going to land when you jump. And testing often does help you make better choices.

The One With the Giveaway

Most  people believe that being Colombian automatically makes you a coffee lover. If you ask me I’ll probably say yes. Coffee is a staple in my house (well, my mom’s house) and there is always coffee brewing for a “tintico.” I remember there was always a thermos with coffee on my grandma’s table, So yeah… coffee… the elixir of life.

It wasn’t until I moved to Canada that I realize how many ways of serving coffee there are. Some I like, some I hate. Now coffee has become an luxury for some, and what gets to me the most is how complicated it is to order a coffee these days; tall, grande, venti, non-fat, yes-fat, three shots, no shots. Oh, my God, what happened to a regular café con leche?!?!

However, there is one thing I love about different ways to drink coffee. Enter coffee creamers! Yes, I love how you can fancy up that cup with so many wonderful flavors. But I’m partial to the perfect partner, Coffee Mate. Why? I don’t know… maybe it’s because I like Nestlé or I’m just more familiar with it. In any case, Coffee Mate has done a great job bringing the fancy coffee house to our house.

If you ask me what my favorite flavor of Coffee Mate is, I will never give you an answer. It depends on my mood, it depends on what I’m looking for. But one thing is sure, I do love the sugar-free version! To me, it makes my coffee taste and look more like the usual café con leche I grew up with, and there’s the added bonus to not raising my blood sugar levels too much. Of course I was going to mention diabetes in the post!

OK, I wasn’t going to bore you with stories about coffee for nothing… There’s a  giveaway with some neat coffee-related items (believe me, they’re fantastic!). It’s easy… just leave a comment sharing what your favorite flavored coffee is. Yes, it’s that easy. The winner will be picked randomly (I’ll have my cat draw the number!)

Prize packs will include:

· Branded coffee mug
· Sterling silver coffee charm
· AMEX gift card
· Coffee-mate full-value coupons
· Patterned napkin

And you really want one of these! I know you want it… you really do!

Feeling Totally Derailed

Originally posted on Diabetes Daily.

As I sit to relax after eating a healthy lunch (green peppers stuffed with a mix of brown rice, chicken and veggies) I’m thinking why don’t I eat like this more often. In fact, I’m here thinking what happened in the past few months to make me completely derail from everything a person with type 2 diabetes should do in order to be healthy.

2013 has been hectic. For almost a year I was working two jobs so I could afford health insurance (see the irony?). My schedule was so crappy, I ate whatever was available, which means there were a lot of late night shifts that ended at the BK drive-thru. Decent sleep hours became a joke, so don’t ask me about exercise (which I previously posted about). My routine got completely screwed up, and I won’t get the award for taking my medications on time. Now my jeans feel tighter, you do the math. I feel tired which means my thyroid is angry. So it hasn’t been a good year for my diabetes management.

About a month ago my life changed for the better when I was offered a wonderful position at the college where I work. Now I have a regular week day, first shift, full time job. That certainly gives me time to plan things and take care of myself, but it’s taking me a while to get back on track.

The first thing I did was reassess my health and realize I haven’t seen my doctor since the beginning of May. My last A1C dates from March. I don’t remember when was the last time I tested my blood glucose levels because I ran out of strips, and the doctor will want to see me. But for a month I’ve been afraid to call and make that appointment… I am almost 100% sure my numbers will make her eyes cross.

Because taking my metformin has been rather an irregular thing, now that I’m taking it every day, as many times as required, my stomach is all messed up and I find myself cursing the diabetes demons. And while trying to decide how to soothe my poor stomach, I was thinking if I need a medication change, if it would be better to manage my blood glucose levels with insulin or if there will soon be a magic cure. Truth is, all I need to do is get out of denial and do what has always worked for me.

This is the story of my life. The story of the life of a person with type 2 diabetes. Especially one who doesn’t live on insulin. It’s homework every single day. Every decision affects our numbers. And the guilt paralyzes us.

I made my appointment with the doctor. I know it won’t be pretty, but I ran out of excuses.

Do you Strip Safely?

Imagine your life depends on knowing a number. Imagine you have the tool to find what the number is, and based on this number you have to follow the rules or you may end up in big trouble—and by trouble I mean death. I’m not joking… this is what people with millions of people with diabetes are dealing with now.

It is sad and scary to learn that there is no proper regulation for the manufacturing of certain types of glucose testing strips, which leads to inaccurate numbers… very inaccurate. If you have diabetes, and you’re on insulin, you may either over-treat or under-treat a rather complicated condition; and don’t forget insulin is a very dangerous drug. Too much, too little… NEVER a good thing.

Imagine you’re the parent of a child with diabetes and you need those numbers to be accurate so you know what is the right thing to do. Imagine you give your child more insulin than what they really need. Or less. Inaccurate readings are every person with diabetes’ nightmare, and that is one of the things we keep hollering about. One would think that after all the hollering we would be heard. But that isn’t the case

According to Strip Safely:

At a recent public meeting the FDA acknowledged that there are some 510(k) cleared blood glucose (BG) meters and strips that do not meet the accuracy standards for which they were approved. There is currently no clear course of action to insure people with diabetes are using blood glucose strips that meet regulatory requirements.

Then you have a person like me, who is not on insulin, and whose doctor recommended to test 2-3 times A WEEK (that’s a story for another day). If I already have a hard time getting an idea of how my diabetes behaves, you can do the math when it comes to a meter that isn’t giving me accurate numbers. The problem is, which one do I trust?

Last month, David Edelman posted a Blood Glucose Meter Accuracy Comparison chart. It isn’t the only one I’ve seen lately. Well known brands of glucose meters are barely making it, and they are well regulated by the FDA. What about those who aren’t? The “cheap” ones that will make you spend more money on complications at the end of the day?

And you must be thinking what you can do about the accuracy issue and ask for stricter regulations from the FDA when it comes to something as vital as adequate blood glucose level readings. Well, YOU GO TELL THEM!

Contact your congress person and make a DEMAND for stricter regulations from the FDA. Diabetes isn’t a joke. Glucose meters aren’t a toy. And we aren’t puppets.

Kiss me, I’m a Red Strider!

On September 21, I am going to take a very important walk. This walk is for me and the 26 million people like me who battle diabetes every day. I am joining the American Diabetes Association in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes because I want to do something to fight back against a disease that affects so many lives, including my own.

It only takes a few steps to make my steps go further. By making a donation on my behalf, you will be helping the Association provide community-based education programs, protect the rights of people with diabetes and fund critical research for a cure.

To help support my efforts, please visit my StepOut page or consider joining our team.

Best of the ‘Betes – June 2013

Today I have the honor to host the wonderful… the amazing… the spectacular Best of the ‘Betes Blogs! I’m very grateful that Sara decided to bring me in because I had a lot of fun reading the different blog posts that were nominated. I have to be honest here… I really don’t read that many blogs these days, but this was a reminder of what I’m missing. Blame it on Google that’s taking their reader away today. 😛 Without further ado, here is the Best of the ‘Betes.

Best Use of Humor
Reva’s musings of how mosquitoes see people with diabetes as sweet treats.

Best Recipe
Stir-fried chicken with walnuts and basil. Oh, my! Thanks, Kelley!

Best Use of Photography
Eleanor celebrates 100 days after diagnosis with a snazzy looking pump!

Best Advocacy
Heather proposes a standard practice of discussion surrounding diabetes.

Best Story of a D-Meetup
Jess shares her close encounters with other PWDs in Washington, DC.

Best Non-D Related Post
The aftermath of hurricane Sandy and how people are not being treated fairly.

Best Post by a Type 1
Katie chooses fear over faith when it comes to diabetes and pregnancy.

Best Post by a LADA/ Type 1.5/ Not otherwise specified
Ashley has to deal with doctors who think patients are just a number on scale.

Best Post by a Type 2
According to Bob, the basis of self-esteem is simply being yourself.

Best Post by a Type Awesome
Bent canulas… Ouch!

Best story of a D-mistake
How Kerri almost had a reason to panic and a broken bag handle in Paris.

Best Motivational Post
Courtney finds a way to cope… through art!

If you are one of the Best ‘Betes Blogs for this month and would like to add a badge to your blog, you can find the information for the badge below.


Thank you to all the people who participated, and kudos to other nominees.

Bigfoot Child:
Scott E:

Boston, Chicago and Type 2. Oh, my!

I like summer. Summer means there is a lot of activity in the DOC, with conferences, meetings, people traveling, etc. I’m glad I’m still able to do some of that even with my busy schedule and my two jobs. That’s probably why I like doing what I do, because I can take time off when I need it.

So last week I was off to Boston for a diabetes summit organized by Valeritas, a company that manufactures the V-Go, an insulin delivery system designed specifically for people with type 2 diabetes, and the summit was with the purpose of  bringing the type 2 diabetes community together. I had the pleasure to see Mike Durbin, Kate Cornell, Phyllisa Deroze, Kelly Close and Bennet Dunlap. It was so nice to sit down with people who wanted to hear what we had to say and concentrate on the needs and struggles of people with type 2 diabetes. Valeritas wants to know what we need, what we want, how they can help, and of course I always bring a little be of skepticism with me but I think that’s healthy.


Phyllisa, Kate, Bea (me), Kelly, Bennet and Mike at the Type 2 Diabetes Summit

Most of the the conversation revolved around the big stigma people with type 2 diabetes have to face, with the whole “we did this to ourselves.” Now, if you put a person like me in the mix, then it becomes harder because I deal with weight issues. And you see… people don’t look beyond what they see. If you saw me, you’d probably think “no wonder she has diabetes… look at her, she’s fat!” — And I would say, no wonder I have diabetes because I have insulin resistance due to PCOS, and it’s hard for me to manage my weight because I also suffer from depression. The thing is, nobody cares… And we want people to care!

And here is where I make a stop to ask for 15 minutes of your time to watch this video where Dr. Peter Attia talks about the diabetes/insulin resistance/weight conundrum. Really… watch it… I mean WATCH IT! You can do it now or later, but please… WATCH IT.

Caring… yes, I was talking about caring. We need that, and we need compassion, and we need people to stop their judgment and their criticism. But we’re not going to get too far if we don’t unite and make our voice louder. That’s where meetings like the Type 2 Diabetes Summit come in. The DOC has such an amazing capacity for success, and it’s been shown again and again that we’re able to move mountains. So when it comes to dealing with my personal struggles with type 2 diabetes, I don’t want to do it alone. And Valeritas wants to help… we just need to figure out what kind of help we need/want without losing our identity as diabetes advocates.

Funny thing is that when I got the invitation for the type 2 diabetes summit, I was a busy bee (Bea) working on a project that’s been simmering in my mind for a while. A project that wouldn’t be possible with the help of some really cool members of the DOC and whom I’m extremely lucky to call friends. So after a long time thinking and a short time discussing it, I decided to launch a collaborative blog called The Type 2 Experience and I had Bob Pedersen, Kate Cornell, Mike Durbin, Lizmari Collazo, Sue Rericha and Rachel Foster join me and help me get it started. What happened next is Valeritas getting excited about it and wanting to know how they can help, and having Phyllisa Deroze and Bennet Dunlap join us as well. We’re still at the early stages, we still don’t know how the site is going to evolve, but I’m pumped and I really want to make it a place where people with type 2 feel connected and heard.

I came back from Boston to a diabetes themed Chicago because the ADA 73rd Scientific Sessions were in town, and although I didn’t have time to attend the sessions I was able to meet with some of DOC people, joined the Diabetes Hands Foundation at a cocktail party, and DSMA Live for an offline get together organized by Roche Diabetes Care downtown. Both events showed me I’m in the right spot at the right time. Like Cherise Shockley said, I went from being a quiet member of the DOC to being on the spotlight because of my involvement with DSMA en Vivo. And I don’t do it for me… I don’t like being the center of attention, but if I can help ONE person, then I’m all for it.

To hear Manny Hernandez talk about the mission of DHF and all the things they have accomplished to help people with diabetes not only made me happy, but extremely proud because I was humbled by their invitation to join the advisory group. There I was thinking “Holy shit, and I make part of all this?” YES, I DO! I don’t like to brag about what I do, but being part of this amazing movement and see things happening… yeah, sometimes I feel I want to cry. When I joined 6 years ago, I never imagined I would be so committed and so passionate about the diabetes cause… not at this level, anyway.

And DSMA Live… what can I say that I haven’t said already? The session last Monday was fun and engaging. I love how we talked about stigma, I love how we can connect to people, I love the members of our team, and I’m SO FREAKING HAPPY that Mila Ferrer has agreed to join the DSMA en Vivo team.

dsmaoffline(Scott, Kerri, Bennet, Cherise, Mila and Bea (me) at DSMA Live event)

This is all so general, and I believe I owe a much better and detailed post about the Type 2 Diabetes Summit, but I wanted to write about this last week, because once again I was reminded that what I do has meaning and fuels my life.

My Fear of Salads

When you have type 2 diabetes and don’t use insulin, you pretty much rely 100% on your diet to keep those numbers in range. Hard task to tackle, let me tell you… especially for a person like me who loves food and eats her emotions. You give me the option between a juicy steak with mashed potatoes and some quinoa salad with weird leaves… guess which one I’ll pick? Yes, I’m not very smart when it comes to eating, and I’m not going to deny that fact. It’s a battle of the knowing vs. the wanting. I’m 38 years, I’ve lived with diabetes for 12 of them, and I’m still trying to figure out how to eat.

And this is where the title of my post comes in. Salads… the panacea of people who like to eat healthy. Salads… what you see people ordering at a steakhouse and wonder WTF they’re doing there at all. Salad… what I consider torture because for me “salad = diet” and believe me, I’ve been on so many of those—even as a child—it just feels like punishment for a crime I didn’t commit. I’m fat, I’ve been fat all my life. I didn’t eat any more than the other kids, I was as active as the other kids, but Mother Nature decided to bestow on me the gift of a wonky endocrine system. So yeah, salad is what I eat on a diet and I hate diets, and I have to disconnect those two.

And if I think about it, I actually like salads. I can eat a healthy salad because I hate anything that is floating in so much dressing you can’t taste the vegetables. So why don’t I eat more of those? Because more often than not I’m disgusted  by the look of vegetables on a salad bar. And if there’s one single leaf that looks a little slimy… no, thanks.  I know, I’m being picky. But that’s the main reason for me. And if the salad comes directly from a restaurant kitchen, then I don’t know where those veggies have been! And yes, I can make my own salads, but by the time I get excited about them, the veggies I bought are looking as crappy as the ones on the salad bar. I guess I learned too much Microbiology in college.

How do I change this? I don’t know. I mean, I know eating salad isn’t the only thing I can do to eat healthier, but I do need to include more fruits and vegetables in my diet. I’ve been trying to do that, adding fresh berries to my cereal, telling the boyfriend I like cherries and mangoes, reminding myself I’m not going to die because I accidentally chewed on a moldy piece of raspberry.

This is just the tip of the ice berg, but at least I’m starting to recognize how I block myself from making better decisions.

*And I would so eat the salad on the photo right now: Spinach, aragula, cranberries, walnuts and goat cheese.