Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eating Your Treats Can Be Tricky [When You're a Diabetic]



As an avid cupcake and sugar lover, I know what a difficult time Halloween can cause!  Having bags of delectables around the house can be tempting for a diabetic. I have come up with some strategies that might be helpful to my fellow diabetics, especially the parents of diabetic children out there.
One of the most important words that I have learned as a diabetic is moderation.  You can eat anything, and I mean anything, that you want in moderation.  Nothing is off limits.  Just limit how much you eat.  So have that candy on Halloween; but don't eat every piece that you have in the bag.  I find that I can consume more candies (at a time) that are low in sugar, for example, Reeses or Hersheys.  However, candies like Starburst or Skittles, I have to really watch, because they spike my blood sugar.  So, for parents, I suggest giving your children what they can eat and storing away the rest of it.  No need to have that candy sitting out and in diabetic reach! 
Another useful tip is to add exercise into your schedule. If you plan on eating more carbohydrates than usual, plan to take a walk or do some kind of physical exercise.  This is the perfect season for that! Sometimes, when my blood sugar is higher than normal, I go for a walk, and it "naturally" brings me down to where I should be.
A fun idea for children is to make arts and crafts projects using leftover candy.  This can be something fun for kids, and this way, they are still using the leftover candy that they have!  
Don't deprive yourself or a loved one of what they want. It's not fair to them.  It isn't their fault that they have this disease, and so they should be able to do and eat everything that non-diabetics are able to.  Any other tips or tricks that my fellow diabetics have for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coverage for Chronic Conditions


    
    This whole "pre-existing condition" is very aggravating, to say the least.  Why do I...someone who struggles with diabetes everyday...have the added stress of proving that I had previous insurance in order to have current coverage?  What is wrong with the world today?  I had a specific insurance for three months, and then a different one before that.  My current health provider wanted me to get a letter from my health insurance company from a year ago to "prove" that I had insurance!  What's worse is that I came home a couple weeks ago to a packet full of "denied coverage" due to a "pre-existing condition."  Really?  You couldn't have sent that to me months ago?
     So here I am today, finally going to my general doctor for my annual check-up & flu shot; originally scheduled 2 weeks ago, but due to an outstanding balance, I couldn't go.  As diabetics [and others suffering from chronic diseases], we should get the help that we need.  Why does everything need to be extra work...yet, other people can sit at home & not work at all [with no major illnesses might I add], but get everything handed to them?  This frustrates me to no end!  What are your thoughts on this topic?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lousy Lows


    
    Is anyone else petrified of even the thought of a low bg?  The past couple of times I worked out, my bg was about 110-130 when I started my exercise routine.  It scares me because my workouts are pretty intense.   The fact that I could drop low while working out frightens me!  I hate those sweaty, shaky, heart-racing, wanna-shove-every-food-in-my-mouth lows! So, when I am busting my butt--punching and kicking and doing all those other fun body combat moves, the last thing I want to have on my mind are those dreadful low blood sugar levels!
      Am I feeling fatigued because the class really is kicking my toosh, or am I low?  When I test, and I am on the lower 100 end, I shove a fruit strip in my mouth, barely even tasting what it is I am actually eating...because I don't want to miss a minute of my workout.  Testing during a workout class is a pain!  I try not to get in people's workout space--but it is inevitable.  Staying out of their way is like going through an obstacle course blindfolded--kind of impossible!
     My diabetic friends, what bg do you feel comfortable starting to work out with?  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lentil Soup


   
   Imagine one of your favorite childhood memories.  What can you smell..hear..taste?  For me, it was the time that I spent with my grandma & grandpa (Nanny & Poppop was what I called them).  My grandmother made the most delicious lentil soup.  This was my all-time favorite of hers.  To this day, no one can quite make it like she did.  Something is always missing, but you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is!  Does it need more salt..more basil? What is it?!  Nanny’s recipe is very vague...to say the least!  It goes like this: “A little bit of this, a little bit of that.”  No measurements.   
    Today, I decided to try to make the famous lentil soup.  As I cooked the lentils, I thought about Nanny, and how much I miss her.  What would she think about me having diabetes?  She was the Italian grandma who gave you many different sweets and flavorful edibles...ranging from cookies, cakes, bagels, & pastas!  What would she do now?  I’m sure she would feel sympathetic because of everything I have to go through.  She’d be the first one trying to make new, low-carb meals for me!
    The spices smell so scrumptious mixed with the lentils as they cook on the stove.  It’s as if I could close my eyes, and be back at Nanny and Poppop’s apartment several years ago.  The smell of the lentil soup brings me back to wonderful times at their place.  Kris is in the other room--I hear referees from the speakers in the living room.  This sound reminds me of Poppop and how he would watch games in the living room while Nanny cooked.  Amazing how such simple smells, sounds, and tastes can bring you back to lovely moments from the past.  
     I’m off to devour my soup....by the way Nanny, you forgot to tell me how many carbs are in lentil soup...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Diabetes Walk 2010

My Diabetes Advocates
This is my third year doing the Diabetes Walk.  The rain pretty much held out, which made the day very enjoyable!  My team (“Team Joanna Banana”) raised $1, 315!  Wow, go us!  I feel so extremely lucky to have wonderful family and friends who support me in this walk and throughout my life.  It’s amazing how many people came together to support such a great cause.  It shows how many children...parents..friends..& families are affected by this disease.  

Altogether, JDRF raised over $70,000!   Feels so good to know that we helped contribute to that large amount! 

“Some people come into our lives, and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never ever the same.”

Italy + Diabetes


After reflecting back on my honeymoon, I think about the effects of diabetes and traveling.  My husband and I went to Florence & Rome, Italy on our honeymoon--among a few other beautiful European countries [Germany, Austria]!  I found that Italy was definitely the most difficult to balance my blood sugar with the food.  Carbs, carbs, carbs!  
How can you resist the delicious gelato?  The flavors vary from mint, strawberry, melon, chocolate, tiramisu, banana, & more!  Not to mention, the gelato has fresh fruit perfectly placed in the gelato, which makes it look even more appetizing!  
How can you say no to the homemade pasta filled with cheeses and meats, and topped with cheese or tomato sauce?  The pasta was almost as tall as me!  How could you pass up the oozing-cheese covered pizza with a warm-risen crust?  
How can you not give in to the pastries which are covered in sugar and a dollop of icing on top?  Or the ones that are swirled with cinnamon and topped with baked apples?
How can you refrain from the cheesecake coated with fresh sliced strawberries and sauce?  Or ‘Nonna’s Cake,’ which is a delicious white cake with almonds and mountains of powdered sugar on top?  What about the cannolis that look so fresh, it seems as though they just came out of the oven?  They are perfectly-shaped shells with sweet ricotta cheese, and fresh fruit placed on each end of the dessert.    
Can you help that my blood sugar was a little out of whack?  As my doctor said to me...it was my honeymoon and I don’t eat like that every day.  But, boy, did I sure enjoy it while I was there!  I don’t think any diabetic could live there and keep their blood sugar under control!  Thank goodness I was just there for a few days!

Lows


Shaky,
Sweaty,
Trembling,
Hot,
Clumsy...
Need to sit down.

Exercising: good for my health;
despite what it can do to my blood sugar.
No one there to help.
Diabetic bracelet on my wrist; thank God for that.
Fumble to grab sugar.
Eat & wait...
Test again and hope it rises.

Meter in my...hand?


Going for a walk outside...always a challenge and a task in itself!  
I need to have two extra hands just to carry everything I need related to diabetes alone!  Forget even carrying a water bottle to quench my thirst!  
Meter in hand...Check!
Fruit strip stuffed in meter case...Check!
Make sure I have the test strips & lancet device...Check!
Iphone in holder & attached to arm...Check!  
Test myself before walking out the door...Check!
Oh, don’t forget keys...Check!
Ready!!!

Walking alone around the neighborhood requires some extra preparation.  I carry my iPhone not only to use as an ipod, but as a phone...(duh!)  I want to have some form of technology on me in case I need to call for help.  People aren’t always around when I’m out on a walk.  It can be scary...  
All in all, pretty successful workout.  I try to test during the walk--but sometimes those lows can hit you so fast!  When I got home, I tested, and was 71...eek!  Not the best number to see on my meter.  I planned on eating lunch anyways, so I ate my peanut butter & jelly sandwich...waited a few minutes, and then bolused for 20 carbs, instead of 30.  Came back up pretty quickly...phew!
The walk gave me a chance to think and enjoy all of those beautiful leaves changing colors!  Slight breeze--perfect!  Wonderful way to clear my mind!  Now all I need is someone to invent some easy way to carry all my supplies...any ideas?

An Inside into my Diabetic World...


What type of diabetes do you have Type 1 Diabetes...also known as Juvenile Diabetes.

When were you diagnosed November 3, 2007...my husband’s birthday...happy birthday to him :(

What's your current blood sugar:  Before dinner it was about 260 (ugh), but it’s because I worked out...I am still trying to figure out how to adjust my insulin based on the workout intensity...not fun.

What kind of meter do you use:  One Touch Ultra Link

How many times a day do you test your blood sugar About 10 times a day...sometimes a little more if I am working out.

What's a "high" number for you I’d say over 200...not what most diabetics would say, but I am still trying to control it and learn how to appropriately adjust insulin. 
What's do you consider "low": Below 70.  Worst feeling EVER.

What's your favorite low blood sugar reaction treater I usually have the Kellogg's fruit snack packs.  Recently, I have been eating an all-natural fruit strip...they are the perfect amount of carbs to bring me back up to where I should be! (Damn, I just ate the one I took a picture of--gotta bolus for that one!)

Describe your dream endo:  An encouraging and kind person.  Someone who tells you what you should know, but not in a condescending tone.  A great listener...and there when you need him/her. And most important, someone who will FIGHT for you.
What's your biggest diabetes achievement: Bringing my A1C down dramatically--from 12.9 to 9.1.  Then, even lower the next time...to 7.4.  Also, I am always happy when I do a workout or something “out of the ordinary”...and I can maintain a good blood sugar.  
What's your biggest diabetes-related fearHaving problems in the future--with my eyes or feet.

Who's on your support team:  My husband--always.  I commend significant others who have a diabetic loved one.  That person has to be encouraging but not nagging...and sympathetic.  Definitely a hard thing to balance!  I am SO very lucky to have that in my husband.  My family is a great support too, they are always concerned and there when I need them.  I am lucky to have a few close friends who are there, they do everything they can to learn about the disease and be encouraging.    AND my kitty--I swear he knows when I drop low...he comes by my side to make sure I am ok.  I enjoy meeting and talking with other diabetics...I learn so much from them. All of these people (and animals!) help me stay strong.

Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime: I think there are going to be advancements made in research.  I hope one day there is something like pills that I can take.  That’s why I do the walk every year...I want there to be improvements made.  They are definitely moving forward with technology and that is hopeful in my eyes!

What is a "cure" to you:  A new pancreas!!  Even if I didn’t have to test so much, or things were a little easier...I’d be happy.
The most annoying thing people say to you about your diabetes is“You can eat that?”  YES I CAN.  Unless you’re a doctor, please don’t question me.  Another great comment is... “Ohh, well you just take a pill, right?”  NO...I have a pump attached to my skin with a tube that gives me insulin all day and more when I eat in order to maintain a healthy blood sugar.  
What is the most common misconception about diabetes That you can take a pill to maintain your blood sugar.  (I WISH!)  Another is that people who are overweight or unhealthy are the ones who get Type 1 Diabetes.  Not true at all!!! I was always healthy, fit, great weight...and look what happened.  
If you could say one thing to your pancreas, what would it be:  “Damn you!  You make my life more difficult so you could be lazy!!” haha

Brooklyn Bound


NYC--the city where I got engaged, and the place that my husband and I love to go every opportunity that we can!  This time, for a change, we went to Brooklyn instead of Manhattan.  It was great; I always find it so much harder to control my numbers when I am “out on the go,” so I knew that this particular day could be a challenge.
Walking around the city can be a great work out, but I’m always afraid I am going to drop low!   Those numbers in the twenties, thirties, forties....scare me!  One place in particular that we went was the Botanical Gardens.  It was gorgeous there; made me enjoy all of the beauty that the world has to offer.  I was so proud of myself because after walking for a tremendous amount of time, being hot & tired (all factors that can affect my blood sugar), I was 126!  I was so happy & felt so good, physically.  What a difference it makes when your numbers are right where you want them to be!  It’s a constant struggle...this Type 1 diabetes, and I find myself fighting it everyday, continuously trying to be the winner in the game that it plays with me.  But I refuse to back down and let it take over.

Diabetes Art Day



Today is Diabetes Art Day!  This is what I created...My piece of art represents what I could not live without--both figuratively and literally.  Everything is surrounded by love...because people around me (my husband, cat, friends, and family) support me by giving me unconditional love.  The love that I have for myself also keeps me going and reminds me to take care of myself the best that I can.  Then, there are the physical objects (insulin, test meter & strips, lancets, batteries) that I would never be able to live without.  And it’s all posted on my own creative, hand-made pink test strip, which is colored in with a licorice-scented marker.  

Flashlight on my Hip


I am trying to think of the positives here...of having a pump.  I think one of the best things is that I am always carrying a flashlight! 
When my husband is sleeping, and I need to find something in the bedroom, and it’s completely dark...I hit the down arrow button on my pump, and viola!...I can see! 
When I am at the movies...and I can’t find my diabetic supplies in my purse...or a hair tie...there’s my personal flashlight attached at my hip!  
When I want to see my cat in the dark, or want to get him to chase a shadow or reflection--I just hit that backlight button!
Searching for pajamas in my dresser, or a specific piece of paper on my desk is an easy task too!
Damn! I can’t find my earring that I dropped on the floor...that’s no problem with my handy pump!  
Ahh...the simple things in life.  How many of you can say you always carry a flashlight right on your hip (literally)?

Find an Inspiration; Be an Inspiration


The Hudson Valley--where I have been volunteering
to help people with diabetes.
“Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.” ~Author Unknown
    I am proud to say that my website is now posted on the JDRF website!  I have been trying to find more ways to volunteer with diabetes, and one main reason of starting my blog was to help others.  I am hoping that by putting my words, feelings, and daily obstacles with diabetes out there...that it lets others know that they are not alone.  
    After being diagnosed, I had no one to turn to that could relate to what I was going through.  I had wonderful family there by my side; but I felt alone in regards to the emotional aspects of being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  It was the online community that helped me through this, and who continue to inspire and support me with this disease.  Specifically, I turned to the website www.sixuntilme.com.  I was so motivated by Kerri Morrone Sparling’s words and thoughts.  Her blog helped me through the shock, denial, anger, and acceptance of diabetes.  I read her blog on a daily basis, and she has truly become my diabetic role model.  I read many other wonderful bloggers and they have inspired me so much that I decided I wanted to help others as well.  I am excited to have my website out there and to be supporting my fellow friends with diabetes.  
    Here’s the JDRF website in which my own blog is linked: http://bit.ly/azySZD
Check it out! 
    We can all make a difference in this world--whether big or small...the affect that you can have on someone’s life--simply by words--can be life-altering. 

Controversy Over the Two P's of Diabetes


   
   “Hey, how do you like the pump?” someone asked me at work yesterday.  He glanced down at the pink pager-looking thingy on my hip.  He went on to tell me that his wife is a Type 1 Diabetic.  I told him how much I love the pump and how much easier it is to manage this disease.   He said that he had heard many different thoughts on the pump and wasn’t sure what to think of it.  
    When first diagnosed, I swore that I would never, ever be on the pump.  There was no way I was going to have something attached to me all the time.   So, I started on the syringes, which drove me nuts.  I would have to measure out the insulin in units.  Oh, but before I did that, I would have to do math and figure out exactly what amount I needed.  This would have to include the correction and bolus.  Have I mentioned that I am NOT a math person?!  Flicking out those air bubbles was not fun in public either!  People would stare at me and wonder what on EARTH was I doing?!?!  
    Then, I moved to the insulin pens.  Already loaded with insulin, all I needed to do was turn the end of the pen to the amount of insulin that I needed to take.  In my mind, this was perfect!  I was giving myself shots as little as five times a day.  Jabbing myself in the stomach with a needle was getting old...fast.  I needed to find a different option!
    At my first diabetes walk, I was introduced to the Omnipod.  I was convinced to try it.  It seemed great--a pump with NO tubing! This was exciting!  I went to the doctor, and she helped me get approved by my insurance company.  Before I knew it, I was on it!  I couldn’t believe that this little piece of technology could do all the math for me, and give me my medicine!  It wasn’t even noticeable under my clothes.  
    Then, after switching to my amazingly knowledgeable current doctor...I changed one last time to the Medtronic pump.  She persuaded me that it was better for my health.  There was tubing on this pump--and that made me skeptical.  I took my doctor’s word.  However, I wondered where or what I would attach the clip to when I was at home or out in public.  One difficulty that I still have today is where to clip my pump when I wear a dress.  Very difficult, if you can imagine!  I am on the glucose sensor, and the sensor and pump work together to maintain acceptable glucose levels.  I am still amazed at this tiny piece of technology that I carry around with me everyday.  
    In my opinion, I am for the pump all the way!  It makes life so much easier for diabetics, especially if you like to work out or do anything physically active.  You can change your insulin levels quickly and easily.  The pump really does give the control that all diabetics need.  To my fellow diabetics: which do you prefer and why?

Ch ch ch changes



If you could change one thing about diabetes, what would it be?
     Obviously I would want to have a cure...not have to deal with this disease day in and day out.  But, otherwise, I would say that I would like to eat what I want, when I want, and however much I want...without those nasty highs hours later!  If only it were as easy as counting carbs and taking the correct amount of insulin.  Truth is, there are a variety of foods that have an effect on blood sugar later on.  Some of my favorite foods are effected, unfortunately.  This includes pizza, bagels, chips, cookies, and candy.  We all want what we shouldn’t or can’t have.  Yes, I know I can eat whatever I want.  This is true--but I have to do it all in moderation.  How is that fair?  If I want to eat three slices of pizza, why can’t I?  If I want to consume a bunch of Oreos, I should be able to!  Or if I want to eat some raw cookie dough...or a big bagel for lunch....I shouldn’t have to feel like crap later on!  Well, I can’t...without ugly consequences.      
     Those highs, are not worth any amount of food I eat.  Seeing a constant blood sugar in the 300’s is not fun.  I get headaches, sleepy, my eyes get irritated.  Is it worth it?  Not really.  I look at the package and count those carbs...give myself the insulin that I need.  But usually, I spike a high later on.  I’ve learned the “sweets” that I can eat that don’t have an effect on my blood sugar--Reeses, Hershey’s...things that are not super high in sugar.  I don’t like that I am being controlled on what to eat--this frustrates me!  I would definitely like to get rid of those annoying highs!  No fun at all!  
     For all those others out there with diabetes...what would you change about the disease if you could?

Bad News on a Fall Morning.


   
   So thirsty.  Tired all the time.  Frequent urination.  Weight loss.  Blurry vision.  What’s wrong with me?  It was Halloween 2007 when I knew something was was not right.  I literally couldn’t move from the couch.  I was going for my undergrad at the time, and my daily routine for the past few days before diagnosis was: sleep, go to school, sleep, eat dinner, and sleep.  There must be something wrong, this was not like me!  I am a highly energetic, motivated person normally.  Normal: That’s a word I wouldn’t get use to hearing!
    
    November 3, 2007: the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  What prompted me to go to the doctor?  The fact that every half hour during the night...I was going to the bathroom.  I was drinking glasses & glasses of water throughout the night.  November 3rd is also my husband’s birthday.  We had a big night planned, and we figured what I had was just a urinary tract infection.  That morning, I threw on some sweats and an old shirt, and out the door we went to Emergency One, thinking we’d be in and out.  Boy, were we wrong!  
   “I can’t even read your blood sugar from this finger prick!” the doctor said to me.                
    Confusion ran through my mind, “What? What are you talking about?”  
    “Is anyone here with you?”
    “Yes, Kris, my boyfriend.”
    “I will get him and explain this to him.”
    Kris came in the room, I was sitting on the table, still replaying what the doctor had said to me.
    As he was explaining to Kris that I might have Type 1 Diabetes, I sat there, thinking “How?”
    I remember hearing key words--but couldn’t make sense of it.  I couldn’t understand the fact that they couldn’t read my blood sugar on their meter because the highest that the meter can read is 500!  (Later--at the hospital--I found out that my blood sugar was 750!)
    “You need to take her immediately to the hospital.  No stops in between.  Do not even stop for food...you need to get there as soon as possible.  Which hospital are you going to go to?  Benedictine or Kingston?  I will call the hospital and tell them that you are coming so that you get in as soon as you get there.”
    
    When we got to the hospital, I told them my name and that I was sent by the doctor at Emergency One.  Before I knew it, I was lying in the bed in the emergency room with tubes inserted in me and there were people there telling me that they “believe I have Type 1 Diabetes.”  I didn’t even know what this meant!  I mean, I knew that it had something to do with sugar, but I had thought only overweight people got diabetes.  Yes, I thought what everyone else not well-educated about diabetes thought!  
    My mind was going crazy with questions...
    How would this affect my life?
    Would I be able to eat what I want?
    Would I be able to eat when I want?
    Would I be able to do all of the same activities that I have been doing?
    I started crying after I was admitted into the hospital. I didn’t want to spend the night there...I had never even been in a hospital for myself before!  I didn’t want my boyfriend or mom to leave me there alone...in a hospital with people I didn’t know, and things that were happening to my body that I had no control over!  
    That night, I remember dropping so low that I felt completely out of my element.  I was so drenched in sweat that it had felt like I just got out of the pool.  I was trembling and shaking and didn’t know what to do.  Before I knew it, nurses were in the room, injecting some type of medication into me to help.  Not even five minutes later, I was back to myself.  I had dropped down to a blood sugar of 20.  Scary.  
     The following day, the doctor told me my life was going to change.  I would have to count everything I eat and use a sliding scale to figure out how much insulin to give myself.  I am an English major, and I’m not very good at math.  I also don’t do too well with needles.  So, for someone to tell me I had to figure out the correct dosage of insulin, then fill up a syringe, “flick” the air bubbles out, and jab myself with a needle...umm, was a little bit horrifying for me.  The doctor told me I would be able to do pretty much anything, “except maybe run a marathon.”  Which, I found out was not true.  He also said, “This is your life now...so you need to get use to it.”  How’s that for a frightening reality?
      Luckily, the nutritionist that works with the hospital came in and taught me all of the basics that I needed to know.  She showed me how I was supposed to test myself, and how to measure out the syringes.  It was quite embarrassing to go into restaurants and out in public and fill up needles.  This became who I am.  As I mentioned before, I was going for my Bachelors Degree at the time.  I worried about getting back to school and on track with my studies.  My family and doctors encouraged me to take the time I needed and go back when I was ready.  This was a crazy idea to me!  I needed...wanted to go back!  There’s no way I was going to let this disease affect the goals I wanted to reach in my life!  That’s still the way I see it to this day.  I have achieved many goals since being a diabetic.  I received my Bachelors & Masters Degree.  I recently got married to the man that supported me through all of this.  We have traveled across the world together, and I do hard-core cardio on a regular basis.......all while carrying Type 1 Diabetes with me.  This proves to me, and should prove to others that you can do anything you set your mind to...with or without diabetes. 

My Husband's Car Doesn't Like My Pump.



It is the second time this has happened!  The clip on my pump broke while getting into my husband’s car.  Every time I borrow his car, it breaks!  I swear, the car must have something against me or my pump!  And it always breaks in the same place on the clip--making it impossible to use. 
I went online to order a new one--it takes three days to come!  I was smart this time and ordered not one, but TWO...this way, when it happens again (which I know it will), it is available to me right away.  
Not having a clip on my pump that attaches to my pants really is inconvenient!  If I am not wearing pants with pockets...I have no where to put it.  Therefore, I have to let it hang when I am around the house (I know, not good, but what other choice do I have?) or fit it between my skin and pants.  Sometimes it stays for a few minutes...but it’s inevitable....it falls!  
It should be interesting today, when I work out with no clip!  I have to wear sweatpants with pockets (which surprisingly I have!).  Just hope it stays in place....Oh, the little things we take for granted!