Tag Archives: diabetes

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!

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.

We, the Undersigned

D-Blog Week 2013 – Day 2: Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so today let’s pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to – a person, an organization, even an object (animate or inanimate). What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change?

My petition would be for schools, work places and the like to be fair and understanding about people with chronic diseases with diabetes. I can’t believe the amount of crap I read about people being treated unfairly at their work, or not being given the considerations they need at school. This year has brought more personal stories from friends and family who are either afraid to disclose information or who feel they don’t have the same opportunities.

I recently read a story about a girl who couldn’t make it to a school trip because, I quote, ” the school isn’t insured and also they can’t touch the girl if she has a hypoglycemic attack. All they can do is give her painkillers and a plaster.” Today I read another story about a child who can’t get admitted into a school because he has diabetes. I could go on and on about this kind of stupid situation.

Are we really just going to sit and see this happen, or are we going to demand educational institutions to get their staff trained and ready to comply with the needs of children with diabetes? Diabetes happens, it happens a lot, there is no cure, you better get with the program.

As for work places, I really don’t want to say much, but in my personal experience it isn’t nice to tell your superiors your blood sugar is low and having them treat it like you just need to sneeze. We need more education, and as patients we need to be firm… really firm.

Share and Don’t Share

D-Blog Week 2013 – Day 1: Often our health care team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let’s pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved one’s daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don’t see?

Most of the time I’m just nervous about being judged by my medical team. Because for them I may just be the numbers on a test results sheet, but they don’t know what’s really happening to me. My doctor doesn’t know that I struggle with two jobs, a hectic schedule, and that most days I just want to give up and forget about everything. That affects the way I manage my chronic conditions.

Sometimes I’m too tired to remember to take my medication on time, or I’m running late so I skip breakfast which is something I shouldn’t do. Things like that change the rules of the game, and it’s so easy for health care providers to just pretend we follow instructions and work like machines.

I feel like I want my doctor not only to listen to how my body is doing, but to really listen and give me advice when I feel so messed up, being in control is the last thing I can do.

Diabetes and Time Management

time-management-help2013 has been… interesting. A lot of life changes; most of them good (like moving to a new apartment closer to work), some of them sad (my boyfriend lost his mom to cancer). Life has also been extremely busy since the end of February when I got a second job, but that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, between dealing with all the changes and having a crazy work schedule I feel like I’ve been slipping through the cracks with my diabetes management. I don’t feel sick, but I know that when I go to see my endocrinologist this afternoon I won’t get a shiny A1C result like the one I got 3 months ago. Running from place to place I’ve made more than a few unhealthy choices when it comes to eating; thankfully I have a boyfriend who likes to cook healthy, so at least I get to fit some healthy meals in. Still, frustrating because time management and diabetes management seem to be a huge problem for me these days.

So today I find myself afraid of going to  see my endocrinologist. Or maybe it’s just shame  because at the end of the day I feel like I have nothing but excuses for my poor diabetes management, even if people around me tell me they don’t blame me because they’ve never seen someone so busy, and they have no idea of how I do all this. But I’m not going to cancel/reschedule my appointment; it only adds insult  to the injury.

This is the first time in my life when I hardly have any free time—the little I have I spend it trying to get some rest—and I’m here wondering if I’ll ever get the hang of this. How do people manage? All I can say is that I’ve had it easy for a while, and I know I’ll figure it out at some point, but right now I’m not so proud of myself when it comes to taking care of this body.

Suggestions/ideas are welcome. :)

Diabetes Blessings

It is not easy to see diabetes as something that comes with blessings. But it does, and the people who live with it know it. Here are a couple of pieces that pretty much sum up how we, in the diabetes online community, feel that we have also gained something positive from dealing with our condition.

At Suite D, we were asked if there is something we are thankful for.

At Huff Post’s Healthy Living, we shared the good things about diabetes.

It makes me happy and proud to belong to a community where people inspire each other every day.

Taking the High Road

Wouldn’t you know it… there are instructions for this: Take a deep breath. In for five, out for five. Close your eyes to get the full effect. Repeat if necessary until you feel like you’re back into control. Then smile. Look the person directly in the eye and give them a knowing smile. Usually, people find this disarming and want to smile back. Sometimes, this is all it takes.

When it comes to health conditions and each individual’s experience, there will always be someone who doesn’t agree with me. And lately I’ve found myself trying hard not to say something, especially about people with type 2 diabetes. Somehow we’ve been deemed the fat and lazy who deserved to get diabetes; the media doesn’t help and opinion are so divided, I really don’t know right from wrong anymore. I know my personal history, I know I probably could’ve delayed the onset of my diabetes, but the magic cocktail was there for me to develop it. Whether I deserve it or not… that’s another story.

One of the things I struggle the most as diabetes advocate is trying to make other people in the community understand that because I have type 2 it doesn’t mean I have no awareness about other types of diabetes. The constant bashing of type 2s makes me really sad sometimes, and I wish other people wouldn’t be so quick to judge and condemn. Things have gotten to the point that it’s bad that we’re all called diabetics. But that’s a rant for another day. What I’m trying to say is, that in the middle of this struggle, I decide to take the high road and keep on doing what I’m doing: caring, helping, educating.

Sometimes it’s better to smile and keep silent.

Disclosure Post

Today’s NHBPM prompt is disclosure. How did I decide what to share? What do/don’t I share? The first thing that comes to mind is something I read on Kerri‘s page a long time ago: “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps to explain who I am.” So when people ask me about myself, I tell them about my chronic conditions right off the bat. I am not ashamed or scared to tell them that I have a cranky pancreas and a lazy thyroid. It’s chronic, it won’t go away; if I live with it, I may as well disclose it.

I don’t worry too much about talking about my thyroid, but with personal relationships, I learned the hard way to tell people about my diabetes. Yes, I used to be ashamed of it, or afraid that others would see me in another light if I told them about it. I found out I had diabetes during one of my long term relationships, and then I kept it from the next person I met… Let me tell you it isn’t fun to be reminded that you hid something from them all the time. So from now on, if I meet someone I’m going to be seeing on a regular basis (friends or more), I let them know what’s going on. Mostly because I think it’s a matter of respect, but also because I think people should know how to help you when something goes wrong. And for me, it also makes part of my advocacy efforts, and my desire to educate people. It’s refreshing to know how how many people actually want to hear and learn about anything that is different.

And then it comes work. I usually don’t hide my conditions from my supervisors. Especially with diabetes, I have to respect my eating schedule, I have doctors appointments, etc. I need them to know that sometimes I’ll have a small emergency, like having a low blood sugar that I need to treat. It’s still a struggle sometimes because most people don’t get the concept of “I need to eat something NOW!” But I prefer they know, so they give me the respect I deserve based on the Americans with Disabilities act. Yes, my conditions are considered a disability, and I think it’s important to disclose in some cases.

I don’t know about this, but I’d like to

One of the things I like about my life is that I decided to be an advocate for people with diabetes even before my own diagnosis (you can read all about it here). But since I have type 2 diabetes, in order to be a true advocate, it has been my latest mission to educate myself more about other types of diabetes. I have to confess that until a few months ago I had no idea of what people were talking about when they mentioned the word “basal.” It made me uncomfortable not knowing, so once I met my friend Marie, I started asking all kinds of questions about insulin-dependent diabetes.

There is still a lot for me to know. I remember when I thought that diabetes only came in 3 types: 1, 2 and gestational. And then I started reading all about it… let me tell you, it’s a jungle out there with so many symptoms, treatments, outcomes, age onsets, etc. And that’s why I want to learn as much as I can about it. I have a pretty good idea of how my type 2 diabetes works, but I want to be able to help other people. I may not be able to give them medical advice but sometimes it’s good to talk to someone who has a clue of what’s going on. And like I said, what kind of diabetes advocate would I be if I only go for my type?