Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Creative Diabetes

My endo isn't a fan of my diabetes shenanigans.

When settings are off I find my own way to deal with the problem.

Breakfast spike?  I add an extra 20 carbs to the breakfast pre-bolus.  My endo says, "Change the ratios and let the pump do the work for you."

I say.  "Why fix it if it isn't broken?  Besides, on the weekends I add 30."

Post lunchtime lows?

I just deduct 15 carbs from the total carbs consumed to counteract the energy exerted on the playground.

My endo says, "Change the lunchtime ratios."

I say.  "I don't do this for the weekends.  It's so easy to do.  Why make changes?"

Nighttime ratios off?  I compensate.

I would add a bit to the insulin dose for corrections at night for B.  I would take off A LOT for L.  J needed a smidge less...

My swelly brain's totally got this...

But something magical happened last week.  (Insert thought bubble over my head complete with pictures of unicorns, rainbows and sparkly glitter raining down...and a cupcake...just because.)

Suddenly:  All the boys nighttime ratios are spot on.

Suddenly:  If the boys clock in at 104, or 110, or whatever...I can leave them alone! 

Are you hearing the words jump off the page?


Usually basals are a bit strong, or the business of their day makes a 103 an unsafe number.

But SHAZAM!  I can leave them.  I don't have to shove food down their throats, or temp basal for an hour.

And they wake up with 120's and 98's, and 107's.

I need a baton.  A baton and some kind of awesome hat, so I can stomp around the house and do the happy march.  The "I AM THE BOSS" march. 

Ok.  So yeah.  I didn't DO anything to get them there.  But they are there.  And my swelly brain has shrunk three sizes because of it.  You do realize that this means a better night's sleep for me...right?  You do realize this is HALF the A1C battle nailed right there...right?  You do realize that I have managed to pull off something as rare as the blue moon...right?

How long is it going to last?  I give it a week.  (Wah  Wah  Waaaaaah) But while it lasts I will sleep sounder, smile wider and celebrate a little harder.  (That means a toast with the good stuff.  Chocolate soy milk, baby!)

I often read on Facebook people grappling with problems...someone last week even worried that their child hit an all time high of 220.


I wish I could worry about a 220.  I have bigger fishes to fry.

But thankfully, I've currently fried up a giant stinky salmon of a problem.

I'll enjoy my victory as it lasts.  Because we all know the only thing that stays the same with diabetes is nothing stays the same.

Last week I posted online that I pulled off another hat trick of sorts by getting all the boys on the same set change schedule.  Two days later L needed his site pulled so they are on different schedules...again.

I should learn my lesson and keep my victories to myself.

But whatever.

Hat.  Baton.  Marching.  This parade's going around the block.

Monday, February 25, 2013

What he did right.

Last week was one of reflection for me, mostly thinking of Ryan...and missing him.

It was a tough week.  Every song burned my heart. Despite the words, the melodies lingered in my head as background music to my story.  It was one eternal round of melancholy.

And then in the store the other day I saw a couple arguing.  No, they weren't yelling...but their body language was.

They were miserable.

And I just wanted to take their hands and say, "Appreciate what you have right next to you."

But I walked away instead and began to think about the times that Ryan and I would fight.  And why it was so when we did.

I do realize Ryan and I had a unique marriage.  We got annoyed all the time, that is for sure.  But fighting?  That came about once a year in a big blow up...usually about something we didn't even remember after all was said and done.  Something that had more to do with built up annoyances then the topic at hand.  Thankfully, we learned this later in our marriage, and learned to talk out the things that bugged us, and not to take them personally.

We had many conversations how woman and men see things differently.  Many conversations about how our needs are different.  We tried hard to see past our own opinions.  But even though our communication was pretty good, our marriage mostly thrived because of the person Ryan was. 

We all can learn from his example.  So I thought I would tell everyone, and remind myself, what made Ryan so special...which in turn made our marriage so special too.

~ From day one of our marriage he made it clear that he was never going anywhere.  That no matter how hard things got, that no matter how annoyed we got with each other...leaving (purposely) would never be an option.  I was stuck with him forever.  He reminded me many times.  I reminded him back.

~ From the time we began dating he looked me in the eyes and promised me he would never lie to me.  I promised him back.  We made a pact that if we used the word "promise" it was like putting our hand on the bible.  We would try to get around this by saying "Bromise" instead of "Promise," but we stuck to it...always.  Sure we hid things from each other.  But not big things.  Mostly a surprise or gift for each other.  He hid some of his symptoms from me in the end...and I hid that I knew about them.

~ He called me.  During the day, (before there were text messages,) he always checked in with me in the morning.  Always asked how my night was.  Always wanted to know how I was doing.  If I had a bad night he would sometimes leave the bakery to bring me a treat and to hug us all and then run back to work.  When text messages came into our life, he would text me a dozen times a day.  I took his lead and called him every afternoon when the kids napped to check in on his day.  If he was having a hard day, I would go visit him.

~ He told me he loved me every single day.  Sincerely.  With all the love and adoration usually kept for the first couple years of marriage.  He told me every day how beautiful I was.  I would catch him staring at me with tears in his eyes.  yeah.  He was that amazing.  I told him how amazing he was back...and how lucky I was to have him in my life.

~ He helped.  For the first 15 years of our marriage Ryan worked a 15 hour day.  But he still helped clean up the house, and in contrast NEVER complained that dishes weren't done or the laundry was piling up.  He was an amazing cook and delighted in making the meat for dinner.  He would make special breakfast just for me.  He happily played with the kids...he napped with them, and often would forgo his own nap to be with us.  To give ME a break.

~  He sacrificed for us.  Despite working 15 hour days, 5 days a week...he would often cater on the weekends to make extra money for us.  We used this extra money for a family vacation, or a weekend away for just the two of us.

~  He took me out.  Ryan knew I was overwhelmed with babies and diabetes.  He would make special dates for us, or simply make sure we got out of the house often.  When we were poor we would scour our drawers for coupons and old lottery tickets that we won $1 or $2 dollars on.  We'd cash those in and split a dinner at a restaurant.   He made those nights out happen, regardless of the circumstance.

~ He would say he was sorry first.  If we got into a disagreement, he'd usually be the first to come to me to say sorry.  Learning from his example, I began to try to beat him to it.  When one of us would apologize the other would instantly melt and all would be well.  We would talk about how it just wasn't worth it to be mad at each other, and how easy it is to let out our frustrations to the person we love most.    Saying sorry, sincerely, makes a discussion about the problems much easier to swallow. 

~ He was loyal.  To his family, to the people he worked with, to the people he loved.  He had your back, always.  If he loved you, he would defend you. 

~  He loved to surprise me.  No matter how tough things were financially, Ryan would take a couple dollars here and there and hide it away to surprise me with a thoughtful gift.  J just confided in me that some of his greatest memories were hiding gifts from Ryan to me.  J said he loved having a special secret with his dad and the fact that Ryan trusted him to find a place for something so important.  He made me want to surprise him too.

~  Which leads to this:  Ryan always found a way to make you feel like you were his best friend.  Sure, he told me over and over that I was his best friend, but I had DOZENS of people come up to me at his funeral and tell me that Ryan was their best friend.  They could confide in him, and trust him.  Trust him to keep their secrets, and trust him not to judge.  I tried to be the best friend I could be to him too.  Ryan rarely went out with his friends...he was all about our family.  But he found a way to connect with them, always.  He would call them on their birthdays.  He never forgot a birthday, or a phone number for that matter.

~  He was fun.  He laughed a lot.  He didn't take too many things too seriously.  He loved adventure and wanted to see the world.  He made me funner.  He was also optimistic about everything.  "Everything always works out in the end."  His motto.  His hopefulness made me more hopeful too.

Sure, Ryan had his faults...he'd be the first to point them out.

He wasn't organized.  At all.  He lost his keys every single day.

He wasn't motivated to do yard work, or clean out the garage.  But when I asked him to, he would.

He didn't have the best fashion sense.

Ummm...yeah.  That's all I got.

But because the list above was long, and robust...those little annoyances were easily washed away. 

He was full of crazy love.

And I tried the best I could for those 20 years to fill myself up with that love.

Pretty much, everything I am today is because of Ryan's example.  Sure, I'm human, and hormonal.  I have my bad days...not everyone can be as awesome as Ryan. 

I think Ryan's biggest lesson to all of us is to spend our lives telling the ones we love, that we love them...and showing them too.  Everything else will fall into place at home if we do.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pink Floyd

I'm pretty sure if the last week was set to a soundtrack, Pink Floyd would be a big part of it.

I woke up last Wednesday with pain in my mandibular joint that was so far off the charts of hurt, I can't even properly express it here.

I Advil-ed up and made it through the day, but noticed a peculiar thing.  When I sat down, the pain was infinitely worse.  Like, unendurable.  As I laid down for bed that night, lamenting all my outdated, empty prescriptions that usually help me through such problems, I realized that sleep would be impossible. 

I leaned against my headboard with my back straight up, trying to get the shut eye I needed, but my jaw throbbed with so much anguish I only was only able to get maybe 30 minutes of sleep, most of that by standing unpright with my forehead against the wall.

The next morning I was able to function, (Come on.  I'm a D mom after all!) And went about my regular routine.  Advil.  Advil.  Advil.  Yeah, Advil wouldn't even touch it.  The exhaustion began to weigh on me by noon, and the pain was so far reaching, my mind began to loose its lucidity.  All I wanted was to sit down...to rest for just a few minutes.  But that was not an option.  Sitting down meant torture for my jaw.  So I cleaned, and once in awhile stood with my forehead against the wall, my eyes closed, tears streaming down my face.

I called the doctor to refill my prescriptions and he (of course) insisted on seeing me.  The appointment would be in one hour.  I could do this.

Except the pain, possibly realizing its end, gave one last push in these minutes and took me to that place that made me wonder if just simply 'putting me down' would be cheaper than the meds the doctor was going to prescribe.

I texted my sister and asked her to pick up the boys from school.   Sitting in the car that morning was torture.  I couldn't endure it again.

"Do you want me to call you a waaaa-mbulance?"  She texted back.

"Maybe.  I'll let you know."

At that moment my friend showed up at the door with a dozen roses. 

'Cause maybe I forgot to mention it was Valentine's Day.   Oh, and did I forget to tell you I was having 8 people over for dinner for the occasion too?

As my friend knocked on the door, and I answered, with silent, tortured tears streaming down my face, the horror washed over her before I could say a word,

"I knew this was a stupid idea." she said as she hastily hid the flowers behind her back.

"No! it isn't that."  I exclaimed trying not to smile.  Smiling hurt.

I explained the pain and the exhaustion I was in, I used a pretty big swear word, and that was all she needed to come rescue me.  She drove me to the doc, and to the pharmacy, and I was in business with a set of four very powerful drugs.

The doctor asked me a myriad of questions, the funniest of which was, "This kind of pain is caused by tensing the jaw from stress.  Are you under any stress?"

"You're going to make me laugh.  Please stop."

"If you can find a way to relax, and not be stressed it would help you immensely."

"No really.  I can't laugh.  Please stop."

My mother in law called.  She would make the bulk of the dinner, I would only be in charge of the chicken...which I had the teenagers do.  And after seeing the wild eyed look of pain on my face as they walked in the door...they were completely happy to complete the task.

I took three of the new drugs 30 minutes before my dinner party.

I was able to greet everyone and fill my plate with food, take two bites and then promptly excuse myself where I plopped face first on my bed and completely passed out.  Getting up every now and then over the next 12 hours to throw up from said meds. 

Happy Valentine's Day, Meri!

I slept for a good three days.  In and out of a drug induced haze.  I dreamt of Ryan A LOT. 

I remember snippets of conversations here and there between the boys and my sister in law.

"Check your blood sugar."

"Put this away."

"Lisa, I'm low!"

Going to bed and putting the boys sugars in Lisa's hands wasn't very hard, but the guilt that constantly poked at me got pretty annoying.

"I don't understand.  They were all in the mid one hundreds at midnight, and then I checked them at 2:30 and they all popped up to the high two hundreds.  How?  Why?"

"Stop making me laugh.  It hurts."

"But it makes no sense."  She says.

"Please.  Can't.  Smile.  Hurts."

As I came to be more of myself and the pain began to ebb, I joined the family here and there, but was still a bit on the loopy side.  Four days of my life, a complete blur.  I couldn't drive.  Thankfully M was able to drive us to church and all the various places the boys needed to be to.

I remember the first hour of church on Sunday, But not the rest.

It was a really good lesson.  One I NEEDED to hear.  "How to receive inspiration." I tried so hard to listen and stay awake, and yet I was in and out of consciousness during the whole thing.

Sunday afternoon I needed to work on B's state report with him, but as I saw Lisa sit down with him out of the corner of my eye, I passed out again.

I'm happy to report that I am off the pain meds now and living a fairly lucid life.  A relief to my mother I am sure, as she phoned me the day I was prescribed my drugs, worried that I might become addicted.

Which sounds like a completely thrilling prospect, except I need to be a pancreas to my boys.  And pancreases must be mentally present at all times. 

There is no lesson here.  And really no reason for me to write all of this except maybe to give my sister in law Lisa the accolades she deserves.  She jumped in and mothered, pancreased? my boys without missing a beat.  I am so thankful for her willingness to take over when I was down for the count.

I may not be lucky in some things, but I am very lucky in others.

With my in laws, and my friends, I hit the jackpot.

Writing that last sentence makes me smile.  And thankfully, right now, it doesn't even hurt.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Carry on.

Powerful words.

"Carry on."

Move forward.  Keep going.  You can do this.

Carry on.

I find myself uttering those words to myself to get me through the day.  An anthem I march to as the day sinks onto my body.

I get heavy.  The worry weighs on me.  My journey's baggage is dredged behind me.  I'm barely able to move.

And then, "Carry on."

Enduring is so misunderstood.

Enduring doesn't get the accolades it should.  Our life has so much to do with enduring and yet we act surprised when it is so.

"Oh my goodness!  So and so lost their job!  I can't believe it."

"Oh no!  So and so lost the love of their life!  Unbelievable!"

"You are kidding!  So and so was diagnosed with WHAT?"

All of these things seem to be a surprise, when actually they seem more of the norm than we care to admit.

Life is getting harder.  Or is it that I'm just getting older, and life was always hard?  Is it that I'm just noticing it more?

I don't think so.

I think bad things, hard things, are happening at a record rate.  And for some of us, all we can do in the wake of it all is put our heads down...

And carry on.

But there is a brightness in "carry on" that I think is missed.  It isn't ALL about dragging our feet.  It isn't moving forward simply because we have to.

Carrying on entails moving forward with hope.


Why else would we move forward if we didn't believe in change for the better?

Enduring is a necessary obstacle to a better tomorrow.  When we "Carry on" we are making promises to ourselves that there is something good around the corner.  "Endure, do your best, and all will be well."  In the state of enduring we might feel like we are not making progress.  But in reality we are fighting, and pushing against something...that something is hopelessness.

When we carry on we are saying we won't stand for hopelessness.

Bad blood sugar night?

Carry on!  Better sugars are on the horizon.

Site problems and ketones?

Carry on!  The problem will be fixed.

Carb counted that buffet wrong?

Carry on!  You'll get it next time.

Fight with your spouse?  Bad day at work?  That guy just cut you off?  Did Taco Bell short you a burrito again??

Carry on...carry on...carry on...carry on!

Carry on doesn't allow you to live in the turmoil of past mistakes or tragedies, yours or otherwise.  Carry on has you living in today, for the future...which effects your tomorrow for the better.

I know we all have hard days.  Hell...last week was one of the hardest for me, the pinnacle of many months of malaise.  But I can see now that enduring has brought me to a better place.  Not as fast as I would have liked.  But it did.  And no...not hugely better.  But better.

Look for that brightness ahead, friends.

Carry on and remember that things don't always stay the same. 

I've been wandering the map for the last few months wondering when things will change for me.  Or at least wondering when I'll have a clearer direction.

The fog is lifting.  I'm starting to get my bearings.  And all I needed to do was carry on. 

Sometimes it's all we CAN do.  And I don't want you to underestimate the power of it.  I know for a lot of us it feels like auto-pilot is almost running us backwards.

But it's not.  Give yourself the credit you deserve for the courage you mustered in moving forward when things got hard.  There are answers on the other side of the trudging through the mire of life.  There is dignity is simply doing our best.

Enduring also builds muscle.  Some muscles we didn't even know we had.  Maybe that's why enduring hurts so much... we are working out parts of ourselves we didn't even know were there.

I wrote a post a few weeks ago telling how I believe everyone is a hero.  A friend of mine stopped me one day to discuss that post.  She has seen many more people give up on life than I can wrap my brain around.  She said that moving forward isn't as common as I think it is...that my enduring, my "carrying on" is more special than I give it credit for.

And maybe she is right.  But I had your back, dear readers.  I told her that the people that read MY blog...those people?  THEY are trying.  THEY are enduring.  THEY are looking to do the best they can.

And I believe it.  You and I have a lot in common.  Our lives aren't easy and yet we put one foot in front of the other and make the most of what we can with what we have.

Or at least I'm hoping to make the most of it all.

I'm ready to look up from all this retrospection and do more than just carry on.  Well.  I'm almost ready.

I'm almost ready to start aiming for things.  To start making goals.

And it feels good.  I'm sure being "almost" ready for something seems like a silly thing to blog about.  But it feels SO good to see things a bit differently.  The landscape is beginning to change and my soul is stretching from it's long enduring dredge.  Stretching is exhilarating!

Carry on friends.  We can do this.  We will do this.  We should do this.

Even if we're barely feelin' it. 

We are still doing it!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World of Diabetes Support and Education

Nature often plays a delicate balance,
like these two bugs holding on against
the wind, behind these delicate, white
blooms.  It's a rainy, cold, and wet
 day, in Iowa.  Fall is just around
the corner. (September 11, 2008)
One of the biggest challenges, when helping newly diagnosed persons with diabetes, is finding balance in the information provided. Helping create a positive environment, which encourages a person to learn the scope of the disease and its complications, but still keeping their heads above water. No matter the diabetes community -- this is a struggle that I have found almost everywhere. Even in my own diabetes groups.

Whenever I share any information, my hope is for you, the patient, to be able to make your OWN decisions -- and not make MY decisions as yours. I have this crazy idea that, when empowered with basic information, people will tailor their diabetes regimes to their own circumstances, and find balance. That I don't need to tell anyone what to do, and that since this is diabetes we're talking about, what has worked for me... will definitely, and not necessarily, work for you.

The problem is that diabetes is a dick. Diabetes doesn't play fair, and it doesn't give two shits about our feelings. It doesn't. It doesn't care that the news of the things it can do, can scare us, nor does it politely pass us over when we decide to close our eyes against it. So... sometimes, this harsh bit of reality might lead people to behave in one of two ways: either by becoming inflexible with their ideas of control, or by becoming completely lax in their control. Neither of these two ideas is good, even if one of them has much, much better numbers.

Inflexible Control

There's nothing wrong with having tight control. In fact, international diabetic guidelines call for patients with diabetes to aim for postprandial (after meal) numbers which are less than 140 mg/dL at 2 hours. For some time, I belonged to some communities with large numbers of internationals (people in any number of countries, outside the United States) -- and they consistently made their goals to be 140 or less, and never once did I ever see anyone complain about that, or try justify a much higher goal, or A1C, without some serious reasoning behind it. Sure, no one's perfect... but it IS the number they shoot for, so, it is the NORM for the world to shoot for those numbers This is, also, a number which even the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists endorses. The American Diabetes Association is pretty much alone in their call for persons with diabetes to keep postprandial numbers at less than 180 mg/dL (but even they have this caveat under their goal guidelines: "More or less stringent glycemic goals may be appropriate for each individual.") 

The fact is that the LIKELIHOOD for damage and/or complications caused by high blood sugar increases, in a correlated manner, the higher the blood glucose level is... and that correlation begins at 140 mg/dL. That's really scary. Not only that, but the risk for heart attacks increases by leaps and bounds the higher our A1Cs are. This is basically truth. This is not my opinion... it's not my way of calling people to go eat nothing but twigs all day, nor raw dieting, etc. IT IS THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH. 

The problem is... some people use that truth to assume that everyone must tackle their diabetes in the same way. In fact, some persons are so disturbed by the potential damage of diabetes, that they push for normal, non diabetic numbers, near <90 mg/dL fasting, and <120 mg/dL postprandial. If one can pull that off, that's great. I do it all the time, and I shoot for it... But it's really not something that is ideal for everyone, nor should we expect everyone to easily overcome what we can. We are not all the same. And in fact, the likelihood for complications is also, very strongly determined by genetics. One can have great control, AND STILL GET COMPLICATIONS! So, if someone worked super hard to attain control (out of sheer fear), and they still got complications... what kind of setup for disappointment are we creating? Nothing is truly a guarantee. We do the best we can, and it doesn't really help to overfocus on the axe in the ceiling. 

So here, you get people who may be well intentioned, and caring, and wanting to help others achieve control, pushing things like raw dieting, alkaline dieting, paleo dieting, and Atkins or Bernstein dieting, etc. This is not a basic truth a person with diabetes needs to learn. One's chosen diet plan is NOT a basic truth a person with diabetes needs to learn. 

Persons with diabetes need to learn: 

  • What diabetes is -- a condition in which the body can't use glucose adequately, because the pancreas has either stopped producing enough insulin (which can be fatal), or has lost sensitivity to it (or sometimes both); 
  • What glucose is -- a type of sugar in which our bodies convert food, to use as fuel for energy. It is NOT the same as table sugar, nor is it exclusively derived from sweets. The body converts ALL foods we eat, from one degree to another, into glucose. 90-100% of carbohydrates, 50% of proteins, and around 10% of fats get converted into glucose. Table sugar and sweets are just another carbohydrate;
  • What a glucose meter is -- a tool which allows us to measure our blood glucose, and how it is affected by the foods we eat (mostly the carbohydrates we eat), exercise, illness, medication, stress, temperature changes, hormonal changes, etc; 
  • What carbohydrate counting is -- a total, daily, number of carbohydrates we allow ourselves in our diets, in order to control blood glucose levels. We can adjust it in our meals (cut back on it, or add more) based on our glucose meter readings, and divide them up through the day, between three meals, and snacks. We are the most insulin resistant in the mornings, and the most receptive in the afternoons; 
  • What insulin is -- a hormone, which under normal circumstances, is produced by the body in order to help the body's cells and muscle tissues uptake glucose. Insulin takes up glucose found in our blood streams and uses some for immediate energy use, some for energy reserves (like when we need to wake up in the mornings), and some for storing as fat, etc. Insulin itself does not make one gain weight; overeating, and particularly overeating too many carbohydrates, can make one gain weight, because they a.) put too much glucose in the system, and in persons with type 2 diabetes, b.) may lead to too much insulin in the bloodstream;
  • What insulin resistance is -- insulin resistance is a condition in which the body's cells are not able to bind with insulin, effectively, which would have allowed the entrance of glucose into cells for energy use. The body then finds itself with excess glucose floating around, so then the pancreas produces more insulin to try to take care of the matter. If the excess glucose is not taken care of, again, the pancreas will keep producing insulin. This creates a condition known as hyperinsulinemia -- or excess insulin in the blood stream, which can lead to weight gain, as a lot of that excess insulin tries to manage the situation best by storing that excess glucose as fat. One of insulin's functions as a hormone is to store glucose as fat, for potential energy stores. 
  • What the treatment alternatives are -- which can run the gamut from diet and exercise, to diet and exercise + oral medications, to diet and exercise + oral medications + insulin, to diet and exercise + insulin... but ALWAYS diet and exercise is a requirement for ALL types of diabetics. No exceptions. 

Note -- insulin deficiency doesn't just make one
'lacking in energy,' it can also make one dead. It is a 
serious condition, not to be taken lightly.

If a person KNOWS how all of these work, then they can decide what to eat. They don't need an extreme diet, "diabetic cookbook," or really, anything else. One counts carbohydrates, one tests pre and post prandially, and one learns from those measurements. "Oh, no! It looks like that plate of whole wheat pasta was NOT a good choice. Maybe I ought to cut back to 1 cup, and maybe add some broccoli, and some chicken on the side... or maybe I ought not eat any pasta, at all." Learning is what we do here. We are little scientists of our own planet. We colonize our OWN planets when we have information. 

There are dangers when we tell other people what to eat, or get them to lower their glucose levels too quickly... it can sometimes lead to ketoacidosis, people often have heart conditions, allergies, particular health conditions, genetic high cholesterol issues, other dietetic restrictions they may need to follow in order to manage OTHER conditions... or they might simply be a growing kid, etc. It's truly not up to us to tell people how to eat -- only to give them the basic information so that they can make an informed choice. Honestly, that's a hell of a lot more than most doctors do, right now, for type 2 diabetics. 

We blame type 2 diabetics a lot for not taking care of themselves, but we should be blaming many of those people's doctors, instead. If I blindly trusted my doctor, I'd be in no better position than most folks I know... who think they can just pop a pill, and forget about it. 

But... unfortunately, a lot of people live this way. "Pop a pill, or take insulin, and forget about it." 

Laxed Control

Some folks take on the attitude that it doesn't matter... That because nothing is guaranteed, then nothing matters, at all, so... "please stop showing me that I can get complications, because then why should I bother taking care of myself?" It can become quite hard to educate whoever might be new to the disease. And educate we MUST. We cannot avoid these parts of the disease education. 

Diabetes is hard, but maybe we can become a bit self entitled, or spoiled, sometimes? Some persons have real critical conditions -- with no real hope of avoiding some awful things -- yet they still care for themselves. They do so because LIFE MATTERS; our families, and our loved ones MATTER... WE matter... and it's better to be informed, then to be caught off guard. Life just happens to all of us... and that's no reason to live in fear. In fact, I find it helps me live in peace. It just is what it is. Not to be morbid here, but do we honestly know of anyone who, barring some accidental event, is not going to get sick and die? It's just life.

I've also known persons with diabetes who have literally advised others to not bother taking care of themselves because they have spent all their teenage years being a 'bad diabetic,' and now they have none, or minimal complications, to show for it... so that people should have nothing to worry about. I kid you not. People who have advised others "Oh, I was pregnant and had horribly high A1Cs of like 13% or higher, and all my kids were born healthy, so don't worry about it." That is the height of irresponsibility. One person's GENETIC LUCK is not another person's health regime.

That doesn't stop there... it's the same culture who encourages parents to keep kids at A1Cs of 8% or higher, for no real reason. The reasons are mostly a whine -- assumptions of kids rebelling, some references to kid's biology being different which I have never seen any proof for, and wanting kids to be like everyone else. 

Listen, don't get me wrong... everyone has the right to pick their A1C goals as they see fit. It's hard for me to comment on many of these issues because I don't have any kids... I don't really have a place of 'emotional authority' in order to appease most people, so that I can give my two cents. But... from what I know about childhood, and coming into one's own adulthood, learning moderation, and learning the discipline to control things like finances, cleanliness, diet, exercise, and emotions happens in childhood. Chronic illness would also fall under that. Obviously, not all children are the same... and some might have some real challenges at keeping a lowered A1C, but truthfully, those are potentially dangerous levels, with some real potential complications. If it's not a paramount necessity to risk it, why do so? Doctors tend to keep kids at high A1Cs, when the circumstances don't call for it, for the same reason they tend to keep type 2 diabetics from access to insulin, when the circumstances DO call for it -- FEAR OF LIABILITY. Fear that people are not smart enough to manage their own kids, without killing them with lows, or manage themselves, and lead healthy lives. There are plenty of kids with A1Cs at the 6% range, and doing just fine. Also, plenty of type 2 diabetics using insulin, and doing just fine. 

To be honest, I don't trust anyone's judgement very much, but my own, with this disease, and my own research. I don't. So I respect when people use their OWN judgement, too. But -- they must have ALL the right information to make those judgement calls. And a doctor really needs to prove more to me, than his diploma, to gain my trust. Doctors are just archaic, more often than not, when it comes to diabetic care and knowledge. It's an embarrassment. Don't take my word for it... ask the average person with type 2 diabetes, on the street, or anywhere, what diabetes is, what drives glucose numbers up, and what carbohydrates are... and they WON'T KNOW. They won't know, and they'll somehow think they don't need to test, because some doctor or nurse will have told them it wasn't necessary. Seriously! "Just take a pill..." The IDF has called for persons with diabetes to TEST post meal numbers, as an imperative, to good control... and yet doctors and nurses are telling patients it doesn't matter.

Sometimes... people get burnt out, and I understand that. We all can get burnt out. But there are folks who just don't want to hear about control, AT ALL, nor for people in groups with a goal for education, to teach about the real consequences of diabetes, and the potential dangers of glucose mismanagement... And we just can't educate well, that way. 

This IS a chronic health condition. This CAN kill you. This isn't a toe fungus. I'm sorry that it isn't! I wish I could just treat it with some Lamisil, and have it GO THE FUCK AWAY! But diabetes, not type 1 nor type 2, doesn't have a cure. The ugly little critter is just not going to go away, even if I do keep him well confined, and restricted.

These are things we need to impress upon people, sometimes. No, not oversaturate them constantly with it... but with the realities of living with it. Honestly, I just don't know how to candy coat complications, and death. Especially when I had to live through them, with my own father. I guess I'd rather offend many of you with some talk about complications, and the risk of death, then to have you live through what I had to live through. 


So, when it comes to diabetes sharing, and education... I guess what I'm saying is this: a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, but please, do take your medicine.

Give people balanced information, and give them the basics. People will learn what they need to do, and take a hold of their own lives. Some people will never learn, and we can't berate them -- they are responsible for their OWN lives. But, we can't hammer on again and again, with negative data... like alarmist conspiracy theorists. That's what Doctor Mercola does, and I hate that asshole. 

Also, let's not settle for living like an ostrich, with our heads in the sand against the storms of reality. The negative data is there, and we must somehow learn from it, make sense of it, and help ourselves find a meaningful, balanced place, where we embrace our lives with diabetes. If I get a complication, c'est la vie. I'll spray paint my mandatory diabetic shoes in neon, hot pink. 

Diabetes can suck it. 

This one's important.

It all started with a mole.

A mole that turned into cancer.


That is what took my husband's life.  Melanoma.

Many people think that the absence of a black mole means they don't have cancer.

That isn't true.

Melanoma doesn't need a mole.  Melanoma doesn't even need to see the light of day.  It can crop up anywhere, at anytime, and look completely innocent.  In between your toes?  It can go there.  Armpit?  It can go there too. 

It can be a small pink bump.  Don't let those disgusting pictures of asymmetrical oozing black moles fool you.  Melanoma doesn't always look like that.   

Ryan's looked like a pencil eraser.  Smooth.  Completely symmetrical.  Light pink.  Nothing like the bleeding sores on the poster in the doctor's office.

A couple weeks ago I went to the dermatologist to have a mole removed.  Not because it didn't look right, just because my bra rubbed against it and it bothered me. 

Going into this office was emotional.  This was not the doctor who found Ryan's cancer, but this is the one he went to for all his checkups and burning off of little spots on his arms here and there.  He had been there dozens of times, so walking into the small waiting room brought all kinds of emotions to the surface.

There are only six chairs.  I wonder which one Ryan sat in?

This magazine is six months old.  Did he read it?

Really?  I have to check the "widow" box on my registration form??

Going into the exam room was equally emotional.  Ryan has been here.  What did he look at in here.  What was he thinking about?  Why didn't I go with him??  I went to ALL his appointments.  Why didn't I go to these?

Well, she took the little mole off and then she sent it off for biopsy, but I'm not worried.  I'm sure it will be fine.

But as I was getting up to LEAVE, raising myself off the table, the doctor says, "WHOA!  How long have you had THAT mole?"

"Ummm...forever."  As I reached back to feel the mole I've had since I was born.

"No, not the one you can feel.  THIS one.  I don't like the color, or the hazy edges."

It was in the middle of my lower back.  When was the last time you checked out the middle of your lower back?  I don't know about you, but I avoid looking so closely at myself in the mirror. 

She takes pictures.  She measures it.  And then she sits to have a conversation.

"We can wait a month and see if it changes."

"Take it off.  Now."  There was no conversation needed. 

"Good decision."  She takes it off and gets it ready to send to the lab.

So I spent the week waiting to hear if I have cancer.

Really, fates?  Really?

I told a few close friends about it, and they assured me that everything will be fine.  Unfortunately, my mind can't negotiate that word very well anymore.  "Fine."  Things don't always work out "fine."  I'm a living, breathing testament of that.

I got the call the mole under my breast was benign.

But the mole on my back came back "inconclusive."  I would have to wait another week for the labs at the University Hospital to give a second opinion.

So I was waiting for days to find out if I had the same cancer that took my husband away from me.  Can my life BE any more made-for-TV-movie??

Longest two weeks ever.

I'll let you off the hook though, I don't have cancer.  The doctor called yesterday.  It isn't cancer.

But let our stories serve as a warning.  Have a loved one check you over.  Have a loved one take a picture of every mole, every mark, every pink spot on your body.  Keep them in a folder on your computer, and update often.  Measure them.  If the grow, or change in color or size or texture or anything, or if they FEEL different, go to the doctor.  Ryan had a mole checked out less than a year before his initial diagnosis.  It was cleared as fine.  But it CHANGED.  It TURNED INTO cancer.  And that is why you need to pay attention.  It's Valentines Day, while you're getting cozy with your honey, check out their skin.  I'm sure you can make it fun!

Catching skin cancer early makes ALL the difference. 

The difference between living, and not living.

There isn't a more deadly cancer than Melanoma. 

Please.  PLEASE.  Watch this.

I can't write anymore.  The tears are coming too furiously for me to see the screen.

Check yourself.  Check someone you love.  Just.  Check.  And good hell people:  Wear sunscreen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Forgetting myself this Valentine's Day


Tomorrow's Valentine's Day, and honestly, I don't want to think about it.

But it's coming whether I want to think about it or not.

Ryan was a super romantic, sweet guy.  He always found a way to make the day special.  He didn't spend a lot of money, but instead he would do small, simple things to make me swoon.

His constant texts were my favorite.

"I'm thinking of you."

"I can't get you off my mind."

"Hey, beautiful!  I miss you."

"I'll be home in 2 hours and 10 minutes.  You will be tackled."

But even so, Ryan made every day like Valentine's Day.  (I 110% know how completely corny that sounds.) 

But the truth is the truth.  He made sure I knew how loved I was every day.  It is the thing I miss most...the constant reminders that he loves me.

MeriandRyan.  It was one word.  We were one.

And now we are two.

Suckage.  There is just no way to get around it.

I've always been taught that the best way to forget about yourself is to serve others.

So here goes nothing.

As a diabetes blogging community, we have begun an initiative called "Spare a Rose, Save a Child."

Losing someone you love to a disease you can't control is awful.  But losing someone to a disease that CAN be controlled I imagine is even worse.

There are children and adults in developing countries who can't afford insulin.  We all know if you have Type 1 Diabetes, you can't live without insulin.  For some, and I'm not even exaggerating here...for some, insulin isn't an option because they can't afford it.  So they die.  Or their child dies.  For some, they can only afford half the insulin they need, so they give themselves less shots and watch their body shut down, one organ at a time.

The Life for a Child Program is on a mission to change that.

Most of us, ok...most of you are going to buy roses tomorrow. 

Buy ONE less.

Buy 11.  Buy 23.  And the money you would have spent on that twelfth, or that twenty-fourth  rose, give it to a child in need by going HERE.

What is that?  Just a few dollars, right?

But that few dollars goes a long way in other countries. 

It's something little I can do.

Something little you can do.

Which would lead to something big for a family in need.

One more time:  THE LINK IS HERE.

I know Ryan would want me to count my blessings.

Look at what I DO have.   I have a home.  I have my children.  I have insulin to keep them alive.

I have a few bucks to spare.

Isn't it a small price to pay to help another live?

Share the love this Valentine's Day by thinking beyond your own circumstance.

I promise you will feel good about it.  You will love yourself for doing it. 

And that is a pretty good Valentine's gift to yourself, don'tcha think?

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Moldy Cupcake Awards: Yahoo! Shine Alarmist Crap

Copyright © 2010 Julie Kin
/ Gleeful Things. All Rights Reserved.

*Re-edited* Now with 30% more gripe. 

So, today, a new diabetes alarmist article is making it's rounds on Yahoo! Shine, earning it a Moldy Cupcake Award. The article makes some tremendously sweeping generalizations, about some supposed research from France, showing that diet soda causes diabetes, and that high consumption of sugar causes diabetes.

#1 Where is the link for this research? I'd like to read it for myself, thank you. I don't need someone else interpreting it for me. As readers, and advocates, we deserve to be able to double check your sources.

#2. Sugar, nor high consumption of sugar, causes diabetes. It never has, and it never will. One has to have a genetic predisposition, and weight gain, to perhaps trigger the illness, but no consumption of any specific foods causes diabetes. Sugar is no different than any other carbohydrate. High fructose corn syrup, however, is a different matter. Why don't you do us all a favor, and tackle that, for a change?

#3. "Furthermore, aspartame, one of the main artificial sweeteners used today, causes an increase in glycaemia and consequently a rise in the insulin level in comparison to that produced by sucrose." WHERE ARE YOUR SOURCES? Aspartame DOES NOT raise blood glucose. Honestly, I don't know how you dare report that. That is irresponsible journalism. Aspartame does NOT raise blood glucose. It has no calories, and no nutritional value like sugar -- it does NOT raise blood glucose. Some of us who already have diabetes would be in a lot of trouble if it did. Where's your evidence? You have NONE.

#4. The only thing diet sodas have been LOOSELY shown to do is increase the craving for sweet things, in some people, who then go on to overeat, and then could go on to gain a lot of weight -- which if they have the genetic predisposition for getting diabetes -- could lead them to develop the disease. This is not extensive research, nor is it unequivocal. So no. It is an extreme grasping at straws to say that diet soda causes weight gain, much less diabetes. Don't believe me? Ask WebMD!

#5 Why not report on how overconsumption of soda (diet or otherwise) can cause a person to not give its body enough of the proper hydration it needs? How it might make the body 'swell' from dehydration, if one gets severely dehydrated? Oh, here's an idea, why not instead promote moderation??? You fail to see, Yahoo! Shine, that people who are diagnosed with such a life altering, and deadly disease, as diabetes, need transitional foods, and foods that given them a semblance of normalcy. Why? BECAUSE IT IS DAMN HARD, THAT'S WHY! Don't like soda, don't drink it. But don't LIE about it to get readership.

#6 "Type 2 diabetes—which can be controlled by diet and exercise rather than a daily insulin injection ... " Why can't you people ever, at least, talk to a doctor, advocate, or some expert when it comes to describing diabetes?  Do you now how simplistic, and moronic, this statement is??? Type 2 diabetes is NOT the same for every individual, and if they are on insulin, it is often NOT because they don't want to follow a good diet and exercise regimen. For many, many people, diet and exercise, alone, are NOT an option! Diabetes is a progressive condition in which treatments often need to be altered or changed, in order to keep up with a failing pancreas... and that includes insulin! And newsflash, I wish it were just one simple daily insulin injection! Obviously, you don't really know much about how a pancreas works, and the amount of insulin (basal, and bolus) that a body needs. No, no, but that's okay. Don't let your ignorance hit you in the ass on your way to misinforming people.

Cite your sources, or don't write an article at all. PROOF, or it didn't happen. 

Oh, and one more thing... if aspartame is good enough for Joslin, it's good enough for me. So when it comes to diabetes, SHUT UP, Yahoo! Shine. You don't know jack. Don't make things worse for persons with diabetes than they already are. Shame on you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

That hope thing again...

I was talking to my friend today and I asked, "Why am I always so damn hopeful?"  (I apologize for the swearing...it's a phase I'm going through so please bear with me.)

Every time something crappy happens, (which this week, the crap overfloweth,) I inevitably think..."It will be ok, Meri!  Everything will turn out as it should."

And the devil sitting on my shoulder, who looks unabashedly like Robert Dinero, says, "That hope thing is going to bite you in the butt, Meri.  It might not be ok."

Am I setting myself up for disappointment? 


Am I setting myself up to win?

There is something to be said for putting your intentions out to the universe.  The glass half full people are happier people, right?  Also, if the saying "you get what you give" has any merit, than my answer is right there.

I think my optimism also lies in trusting my path.  Trusting in a loving Heavenly Father who has already testified that all will be well. 

Ryan said it would be okay too, so that's something...

But that Mr. Dinero...with that tiny little nay saying son of a cockroach voice, loves to pop my hope bubble every chance he can get.  He makes me feel like hope is a ball and chain that I drag around every day.  "You're still holding onto that thing?  Geez, let it go gurl!"  He seems to think that my hope holds me back from seeing the world as it really is.  He seems to think my rose colored glasses make me look like a child.  He seems to think I'm setting myself up to fail.

My hope filter is taking a lot more faith to keep up these days.  I'm aware that things often DON'T work out.  I'm aware that bad news comes whether we are ready for it or not.  When people tell me, "Meri, I'm sure everything will be ok," I'm aware that they really don't know that.

Because when it comes to my life?  No.  Not everything turns out ok.

But here's the thing...

Haters gonna hate.

Hopers gonna hope.

I am a hoper.


My problem really lies in the first step. Which way to go with my life?  (I am painfully aware you're probably sick of me talking about this, but it is something I NEED to write out because it is a HUGE obstical I'm grappling with right now.  Trust me, I'm seriously tired of hearing about it too.) I think any way I choose will be ok...but which way is the bestest way?

Which way will lead me to that future Ryan was so sure was going to be ok?  I don't want to mess up.  I don't want to take the wrong path.

I liken it to being in the middle of the desert, a compass surrounds me.  North?  South?  East?  West?  NorthEast?  SouthWest?

Crap.  There are so many paths I can take to get to water.  Every path WILL get me to water...but which one will get me there in tact?  Which is the safest bet for my sanity and livelihood?

Maybe there is no "safer" path. 

Maybe because every path has its perils is the reason I stand here "still" in my life.

My gut says stay where I'm at.  But is my gut really speaking out of fear?  I know I'll eventually need more than what these four walls have to offer, and really, my future isn't going to just fall onto my lap.  Or could it?  I can't totally rule that out, right?  Ha.  I think that is more wishful thinking than hopeful thinking...

Hopefulness requires some action, I am sure.

I can't just sit here waiting for my future to happen.  I need to MAKE a future.

Soul searching sounds so serene. 

I'm not feelin' the serene part.

But no matter how loud that little devil yells in my ear, I can't shake the feeling that it will all work out.  Even if crappy gets crappier, it will all work out.

Hopers gonna hope.  <<<<  That's going on a tshirt.

Meri's gonna hope.  Deal with it, Dinero.

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Lady Gaga, Salman Khan