Category Archives: Complications

The Drop

Earlier tonight, after a day of working out and hanging out with my family, I came home to relax and as I awoke from a nap, I realized that my blood sugar was rapidly dropping. It’s like feeling that someone has altered your equilibrium.

You’re weak, yet you can walk. You’re unfocused, yet you know what you have to do. You think you’re relatively low when you feel the beads of perspiration emerge from your pores, yet you don’t really know how low you are until you see the number.

Tonight, my number was a 33. Yeah, that’s totally not normal. In recent days, I’ve dropped to 44 and 45. I know, I know I have to watch it. Scottie Pippen’s number is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sorry for the cliche statement.

So as anyone who can express their thoughts with words, I wrote a bit directly on my Facebook page using my phone while laying on my bed, t-shirt still soaked with the sweat from the drop, feeling that at 9:30 p.m. I was going to go to bed just to wake up refreshed and start over again tomorrow. However, I started feeling better, washed the dishes and here I am, making a long overdue blog post out of the Facebook post that is too long for anyone in their right mind to read. It’s too long for social media, but hey, that was my outlet.

With that being said, here it is. The Facebook post no one should have had to endure without clicking on a link to my blog. Thanks and have a good night.

You never realize how much you take your body for granted until its use is challenged. For people with diabetes, the thought is always in the back of your mind.

You feel every time your blood sugar goes up, each time it goes down and always have the desire to feel the best you can. You’ll give up favorite foods, sacrifice sleep and succumb to stabbing your fingers just to keep your body in check.

You’ll never really have a peace of mind, no matter how many devices you have attached to your torso. However, you’ll find it pretty cool to make light of the situation by calling yourself a cyborg and knowing that it really is true.

As someone with type 1 diabetes, your blood glucose does drop to the point of fear. Knowing that you might black out before the orange juice hits your lips; feeling bullets of sweat drip down your face, your back; hyperventilating even as you shove glucose-increasing food in your mouth and praying that the feelings stop as quickly as they came. They usually never do.

The situation quite literally knocks you out. Your body feels like a rung out towel. You look as though you did an hour of cardio, hair and shirt wet, leaving you feeling cold, even in the middle of summer. You want to sleep, giving your body time to bounce back from the low that might have killed you, had you not felt it. Tunnel vision, lack of leg function and weakness is not foreign in these situations, making it scary to live alone; making it scary just to think about not being able to function. Everything you take for granted is questioned.

As you level out, things slowly get back to normal. But you’re impacted. You’ll never forget the feeling. It makes you want better. Makes you hate the disease you didn’t ask for. Makes you wish you had a normal body. And in the end, you know you’ll never have what you want but ultimately, the education, experiences and lessons learned have made you everything you are and everything you’ll ever be.

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Does diabetes really disable me?

Through work, we are voluntarily asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding disabilities– making sure they hit quotas, I suppose, on supporting the people with disabilities in this world. I voluntarily answered the questionnaire, like usual, not afraid of any question that should come up, especially because I don’t think of myself as having a disability.

As I reviewed the questions, I saw it on the list: Diabetes. All of a sudden, a trigger went off in my head and I almost closed the questionnaire because I didn’t want to admit that I had a disability. Would anyone?

In the end, I didn’t close it and I ended up finishing it, however there was a feeling of anger and resentment that went through me. I thought, I’m never going to be like everyone else. I’ve come to this realization many times in my life– it wasn’t something new to me or to anyone. In fact, I’ve written about how diabetes made me different multiple times and I wasn’t ashamed of it.

But now, work knew. The people who employed me and those above them now all knew that I had diabetes. Again, this is not something that I’m ashamed about, however it is something that I’m weary of especially because to those who don’t know me, I’m another person with diabetes– enter all of the stereotypes that screw with the mindset of those who are ignorant to the disease.

Was it really a disability? A few hours later that night, I told one of my best friends about the questionnaire. “You don’t have a disability!” he said to me, so confidently. I smiled because I was grateful to him and to all of my friends who feel the same way.

It’s not a disability simply because I don’t treat it like one. I technically have not been disabled from doing anything in my life. Besides wanting to maybe be in the peace corp or a fighter pilot (because I mean, who doesn’t want to do something like that in their life?), I’ve done everything that I’ve ever wanted to do. Sure, a vital organ in my body doesn’t really work the way it should and I’m part cyborg because of the pump that I wear on my hip, but in no way was that a disability.

I take care of myself as best as I can. Sometimes that does slip from me because of my busy lifestyle and all the different things I get myself into. At times, I don’t check myself as frequently as I should, but I always keep my pump on. That’s one thing that I can’t not do; I can’t not take insulin. It’s not like taking aspirin or a pill of some sort. It’s not a medication that I’m taking to help me live. It’s a hormone that I NEED to live.

The kicker here, is that diabetes can become a disability. If I let it slip enough, I can go blind, lose a limb, lose my life. This is why I continue to go to the doctor so that I can stay on top of my issues and making sure that I can prevent any harm that may come my way.

It’s important to track and important to know what’s going on in my body, since it’s not something that I can take advantage of and not think about. I was told to go back to the continuous glucose monitoring system to help better control myself and I have. There are dietary restrictions that I’m putting on myself just out of mere knowledge and understanding that certain foods don’t cooperate with me. I have to do these extra things so that diabetes NEVER becomes a disability.

There may be sacrifices, but I don’t see them that way. I see them as ways to live a better and longer life. If not eating rice and bananas means I get to stay here and enjoy life for a few more years– then so be it. Here I’ll stay.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Health, Personal

The Top 5 Diabetic Myths

NO! That will NOT cure your Type 2 diabetes!

Sorry, just letting out my frustration with someone who sent me a message regarding “essential oils” that will “cure” diabetes. I. Wish.

In my timememe-32, I’ve heard a variety of different things from people who are dia-ignorant. That’s right; they’re ignorant about anything pertaining to diabetes. What’s more, what I found is that we people with Type 1 diabetes get discriminated against when we tell people we have diabetes.

“You’re so young!” “You’re not fat.” “You seem healthy.”

Yeah, well, I am young, I’m not fat and I AM healthy! And I have diabetes! Any more judgments you’d like to throw my way?

I don’t say that out loud. In fact, I just laugh at it. But trust me, I’ve wanted to say those things.

I’ve decided to choose a few myths from the top ones I’ve heard from different experiences and people. Let me know what others you know about. I like to be aware.

1. Why those essential oils, weird teas or any Mexican concoction will not “cure” diabetes.

Look. Any way you look at it, nothing will “cure” diabetes. Once you have it, you’ll always have it. You can make it better and even put it into remission, like cancer. However, once it’s developed in your system, it will always be there.

There are things that will make it better like, diet, exercise, particular medications prescribed by your doctor and making conscious decisions about what you’re putting into your body.

And for the love of Pete, don’t STOP taking your medications if you see something is working really well for you, unless you discuss it with your physician.

In the Latino world, we like to do things naturally– me included. I hate thinking that I’m going to have to take cholesterol pills or anything of the sort, so I try not to get to that point by deciding what I’m putting into my body. BUT I still have to take my insulin. I know a lot of people who think they can be cured by teas or other liquid concoctions.

“She drank that and she doesn’t take her medication anymore.” Why? Because she chose to stop? See, that’s not right and can cause more harm than good. Monitoring, eating good foods and talking to your doctor are the ways to put that bad boy down.

2. You eat a lot of sugar, you get diabetes. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The actual CAUSE for diabetes is unknown. However, research has found that it diabetes-here-i-come_o_1552291is hereditary and runs in the blood line. Diabetes develops over time at the cellular level. You eating a ton of candy will not develop diabetes because if you’re healthy and “normal” your body will create the insulin necessary to break down the glucose that you consume.

If you’re eating unhealthy food over time for a long time, there is a possibility of developing diabetes but there is no set of rules stating “If you do this… then you will develop diabetes.” And for people with Type 1 diabetes, this is completely thrown out the window.

Nothing that a person with Type 1 did CAUSED diabetes. In our bodies, our immune system attacked beta-making insulin cells, so we can no longer produce the hormone. That’s it. Because of our insulin therapy, however, we should still watch what we eat, but not be limited because– well, we’re injecting the hormone that your body has.

3. Diabetes is a death sentence. Might as well put me on dialysis now. 

WRONG. If that were the case… oh woe is me! If you’re diagnosed at an older age with diabetes, it might feel like a death sentence because it comes with a lifestyle change if you want to live healthily. Knowing that you can save yourself from infections, kidney failure, heart disease, amputations, erectile dysfunction, would you want to do that instead of sit there and wait for complications?

Diabetes is managed by your lifestyle choices. It takes determination and will power and change. For many people who are stuck in their ways, that’s the hardest part. Throwing out the bad stuff, eating the good and going for walks or bike rides can be enjoyable and you’ll feel better.

This is why I call Type 2 diabetes a disorder. It’s because something just went awry in your body, but you can help to fix it. It takes education. Plus, if you are a father, mother, daughter, son, sister or brother, there are people who care for you and love you. If you don’t take your health seriously for yourself and your desire to make things better, then do it for your family. It’s hard– yes– but it’s doable.

4. Insulin is bad for you and makes your life worse. 

Ha. I’d be dead if this were the case. Insulin is NOT bad for you. It is necessary for you to live. Believe it or not, everyone CREATES insulin. The reason why people like me inject it or are on a pump is because we no longer create it or we don’t make enough of it. That’s it.

If you have Type 2 diabetes and are put on insulin, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a good thing. It’s helping your body break down foods and function properly. Oral medications might not have been enough, which is a very probable reality.

5. You did this to yourself. You should be ashamed of your lifestyle. 

Say people all the time. Shame on them. Never will anyone know the pains of having diabetes unless they have it. Just because your body couldn’t “hang” doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Could you have been healthier? Sure. However now is the time to take the bull by the horns and change your life. Turn it upside down. You only have ONE life, so live it to the fullest.

Control diabetes so that it doesn’t control you. If you stop focusing on what you shouldn’t eat any long and focus on what you can and how good it makes you feel, this won’t be as hard as you think it is.

The journey is long but you can do it.

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Filed under Complications, Culture, Food, Health

This One Goes Out To The One(s) I Love

When I get scared, I get bitchy. When I get bitchy, I snap at people. When I snap at people, they don’t like me.

Usually, my fear comes from something that has to do with diabetes (like most of us PWD) and when I try to talk to non-PWD about it, I get approximately 3 different responses.

1. They don’t know how to answer and say, “I hope everything is OK” which makes me want to say, “You try living with a disease that can make you feel miserable just for eating… Anything.”

2. They say, “I don’t know how you manage! I could never.” Which makes me want to say, “You either live or die if you don’t take care of yourself. I’m pretty sure you’d be able to do it.”

3. If something happens within a few days, they say, “Well, why didn’t you … [insert what they think they know here.]” This makes me want to say, “You must think I WANT to feel this way, right? Because I did this to myself…”

Rarely do people get the answer right. But is there a right answer? This is a complicated situation to be in especially when diabetes isn’t just physical. No, it’s psychological, it’s emotional, it’s everything in one big ball of crazy. Most of the time, there is no right answer.

I think the best answer I’ve gotten to my explanation of a terrible night was, “Do you feel OK now?” That’s the most anyone can ever ask without sounding like a jerk.

I can count the times I’ve actually been afraid because of my diabetes. Afraid enough to want to talk about it.

1. Hypoglycemic moments when I drop below 40. For those of you who DON’T have diabetes, this consists of shaking, cold sweats, dizziness, imbalance and possibly your peripheral vision closing in on you– almost fainting. Fun!

2. Having my eye doctor tell me that I have bleeding in my eyes. Enough said.

3. Hearing that tingling sensation in my fingers could be “due to your diabetes.” GTFO.

4. Having my endo tell me that even though I worked really hard to keep that A1c down, it didn’t go down, and based on my numbers, it should actually be higher. FTW!

It’s not so much fear as disappointment, I think. “How could I let this happen?” is usually what I ask myself.

As a person with diabetes, we need a support system that consists of people who live with it, too. There is no way that people without diabetes could understand unless they are doctors or advisers or people with very, very empathetic hearts that have also studied the anatomy of the body.

When I complain, I really don’t know what I’m looking for. I hate to admit it, but most of the time I want to vent and talk about how hypoglycemia ruined my night’s sleep and how I don’t feel good and how I wish my head would un-cloud itself so I can think straight and I wouldn’t have to worry about getting up to pee all the time.

And today, I felt so bad for my complaints. How do people put up with me?

I want to make it easy for other people to understand who I am and what I go through, however, inside me there’s a war going on that’s trying to figure out a balance that so many other people take for granted. People are usually receptive to what I say and let me do what I need to do in order to feel better.

If my blood sugar is high, I lay down, drink a lot of water and take my insulin, usually over checking because I need to find out whether or not my cannula’s bent or if the pump isn’t working right. As much as you want to give in to technology, sometimes I doubt it.

If it’s low, I try not to panic anyone and drink juice and eat. On my own, I don’t panic, however much I feel like I’ll pass out or fall over, panicking doesn’t get anyone anywhere. It brings fear, sure. But it’s unnecessary at the moment.

So, here’s my letter…

To those whom I love and who love me:

I love you. I appreciate your concern, your kindness, your sympathy and your attempted empathy. Thank you for asking me if I have enough supplies or if anything belongs in the refrigerator. Thank you for asking me if I ate enough, took my insulin, are feeling OK or need any water. Thank you for keeping up your snack pile for me. Thank you for making sure YOU have things for me to eat, just in case. Thank you for telling me to check my blood sugar.

Thank you for asking if everything is all right when I have to see my doctor and asking about what he told me. Thank you for taking an interest in me and my issues. Thank you for supporting me and telling me that you’re proud. Thank you for your encouragement and positive words. Thank you for helping me keep this crazy effort to balance and for wanting to know how you can help. Thank you for learning about me.

However much I act as if I am always on my game, sometimes I’m not and I love that you can back me up and think for me when I’m not thinking. I appreciate it and could not ask for more.

To those whom I love and who love me, you are my guardian angels.

Gracias,

Kiki

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Letting It Out

These holidays have been hard on me. They’re always hard on me though, I feel. A few weeks ago, I took the CGMS out and didn’t put it back on until last night. I couldn’t stand the beeping anymore or the fact that it wasn’t accurate the way I needed it to be. I got tired; burnt out. You know how it goes.

However, last night was different. Last night I talked about the burn out. I’ve talked about it here before but not as in depth as I talked about it last night. I guess I never felt the need to because it always felt like a complaint. I don’t like complaining as much as I like doing something to fix it. But last night, it all came out. I talked about it to a point that it almost made me cry.

I talked about the ups and downs, the roller coasters, the fact that sometimes you do everything right even though the number comes out wrong and it’s a consistent game you play with your body. It’s almost like you try to second guess what your body is doing and yet, you can’t get ahead of the game– and it’s exhausting. And you want to give up. But you don’t have the choice to give up.

I don’t have the choice to give up.

Instead you do enough to get by, until you can put your pilas in (batteries in Spanish) and get yourself revved up and ready to take on the world again, making diabetes something you’re not tired of but learning to live with… all over again.

“It must be hard,” said the voice in the dark room. “That’s why people don’t even bother to check.”

Regardless of who I try and make understand, it happens rarely. But the more I talk about it, the more I feel like someone will know what I go through. The things that I never talk about because I need to be positive and healthy and normal and good to myself. The upkeep, the management, the constant day-to-day of living with this issue and pretending that you are the pancreas that has malfunctioned on you– it’s another job.

Managing my diabetes makes my actual job look like a piece of cake.

Sometimes you have to let it out. Sometimes you have to let it out to people who don’t have diabetes because talking to those who manage well and have A1cs as low as normal people can get intimidating. Sometimes those folks are just as intimidating as the A1c test itself; as the endo who tells you you can do better. Sometimes, you need someone that doesn’t understand so that you can really tell them how it is. And you almost cry.

Because sometimes, that’s the only way to cope.

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Having Vitiligo AND Diabetes: How I’ve Dealt

Happy World Diabetes Day everyone! Instead of writing about something that everyone is writing about right now (something along the lines of “What Diabetes Day means to me”) I decided that I would open up about something completely different.

I haven’t written about this and it might be because I was afraid to. Sometimes when I think about the issues that I face, health-wise, I get upset. Upset, agitated, bitter—basically, everything that a person with diabetes goes through on their own without any other issues on top of it, yeah. That’s normal for people like us. Diabetes has become part of my normal life. It’s a part of me that I have grown up with and have adjusted to. But what happens when you develop something else, later in life, that you have to actually cope with?

I feel like I never really had to “cope” with diabetes because it was always there. I knew no difference. But when I recently started developing vitiligo, it worried me. What is vitiligo you ask? Well, it is a skin condition where you turn white. Remember Michael Jackson’s skin condition? Yeah, same one. It’s not contagious, it happens slowly, there are no other health repercussions because of it, but it is considered an autoimmune disease.

The doctors love to throw at me like this: It’s an autoimmune disease and you have Type 1 diabetes so, it kind of makes sense. And I come back with: No, it doesn’t because I have Type 1B which is not autoimmune diabetes, so learn to ask questions and get your facts straight before you assume. OK, that’s not how I responded but it’s how I would have LOVED to.

Earlier this year, approximately in May, I noticed the skin around my mouth lightening. I originally thought 1381949_587130964679416_1936705440_nit was just dry skin so I started putting moisturizer on more often. However, little by little, I noticed other areas of my face lightening as well.
Then the summer came full blast. And you know what happens when the summer gets here? I get toasty. I’m a tan person, if you’ve ever met me and I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I could soak up the sun like a sponge and display the golden color all throughout the winter months.

Well, when it comes to my face, that is no longer. People have tried to make me feel better about it, saying they don’t notice it or that it doesn’t change the way I look. But initially when it was spreading (which it does very quickly within the first few months), I couldn’t stand the sight of myself. I looked weird. I couldn’t go outside without makeup on. And something started to happen that hardly ever happens to me– I started feeling sorry for myself.

A few months later, I realized, “Well, who am I to be pissed off? If God thinks that I don’t need a working pancreas or a solid colored face, well then, I don’t need it.” I got over the issues that I was facing. Quite literally. The fact that I wasn’t going to be able to get an even tan during the summer didn’t phase me any more. It was just my face. It didn’t change my personality, my insight or my drive or ambition. I was the same person, regardless of what color my skin was. This isn’t even a racial issue!

I have little spots on different parts of my body now. It’s not spreading too terribly fast either. I decided to Google vitiligo the other day and found another completely different community. It was overwhelming. But nevertheless, the fact that I have diabetes also helped me to get over it. I have worked so hard on keeping myself healthy that a skin condition with no deathly repercussions wasn’t going to phase me. In fact, it showed me how vain I was.

Looks mean absolutely nothing and if I was too conceited or vain or worried about my looks, I can’t be now. Friends have told me that I’m still pretty, others have said they don’t notice it and I think the best comment was, “When I look at you, I see beauty. That’s all I see.” Well, I can’t argue with that, now can I?

I still have to be careful in the sun. I’ve seen a dermatologist for the vitiligo and they suggested that I try light treatment that my insurance is fighting with me to pay for. Yeah. That’s never going to get old. I’m also using an ointment for my skin. As much as it might scare some people, it doesn’t take priority in my life. It just doesn’t. I have more important things to worry about, like blood sugar levels, thinking like my pancreas and living life.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Doctors, Health, Stories, Treatments

…But You’re Different…

“But see… you actually take care of yourself…”

I’m different. I said that in my last blog. I know I am because I have something that not a lot of people have. Even less among Latinos. See, I’ve got a rare type of diabetes. I know I’ve mentioned this to a lot of different people. I have not just Type 1, but I have Type 1b that has been shown to be developed due to an environmental cause, like a virus. It is not autoimmune.

1150243_595264203866092_1089546014_nAmong Latinos, among Mexican-Americans, diabetes affects 18 percent of the population. It’s a pretty high number and that was back in 2010. I’m waiting for new numbers to come out since I’ve been reporting on the same ones from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s time to update those digits because I know diabetes is affecting a lot more that 25 million Americans; I can feel it.

So within my community where Type 2 diabetes is most talked about (so much that many don’t realize there are different types) as just “diabetes” there is a certain misunderstanding of what I’ve got going on. It’s hard for people to understand what I go through and why I go through it since I’m not old or overweight and I look like I’m in pretty good shape.

When I tell my story, they look at me as if they’re proud of me and say, “That’s so good of you! You keep doing good and keep yourself healthy.” I get that from a lot of people with Type 2. I end up telling them that I’m fine; I know how to take care of myself. It’s them that I’M worried about.

The downside to having Type 1 is that anything can go wrong at any time. It’s actually pretty dumb. I mean, you can be doing just fine, numbers fine and everything and still have traces of protein in your urine. That’s bad, by the way. Protein should not leave your body. Ever. Or have bleeding behind your eye. That’s the worst, especially when you hear, “That’s because of your diabetes. At least it’s not affecting your vision.” I get chills just thinking about it.

There are still issues that I have to face and I usually face them alone. Why? Because people see me and I look fine and healthy and cool. “You’re different. You actually take care of yourself.” Yeah, that’s true, but it’s still something that I have to be weary of.

Look, I’m not saying that anyone should take pity on me, because I don’t want it. What I’m saying is that having diabetes is just as serious whether it’s Type 1, Type 2, LADA, Gestational or anything else. I need and want people to know about my diabetes just in case. It sucks to think about it that way, but it’s true.

Also, when I’m talking to people about it, I want them to listen and to learn about what is affecting me and my body and what I think about because usually, I’m telling people I care about an I hope they care about me enough to listen. It can also help people that they know, not just me.

The truth of the matter is, is that if you have it well controlled, people don’t think it’s a big deal. And then, as I mentioned in a previous blog, should something go wrong, you’re to blame for it because you must have done something wrong.

Maybe I’m just complaining here, but disorders like diabetes should be acknowledged and almost respected. I don’t want people to pity me and I want them to understand just how much effort it takes to make my body “GO.” Is that selfish of me? It might be.

It also comes from issues that I’ve had in the past. Once, I had sharp pains in my abdomen. The doctors said it was another serious disease that only affects men between the ages of 35-45. I was 23. The doctor said he was 95 percent sure he was right. My mom screamed second opinion.

The day that I committed myself into the local hospital in Urbana, I had to beg a neighbor to take me. “I have a meeting with my professor that I can’t miss,” she told me. I stood in front of her in pain. “Can you just drop me off? You don’t even have to come in with me. Just drop me off,” I begged her. The last thing I wanted to do was take a taxi to the hospital and I was in so much pain.

Later I ended up getting my gallbladder taken out and that was the end of that. No other disease. No more problems. Weird? Yep.

The last time, I was severely dehydrated. It took will power to get myself to a point of being OK after my insulin wasn’t getting to me due to a bent cannula. I was throwing up and was too weak to go anywhere. I asked a few people if they could come and just be with me, in case I didn’t stop throwing up and had to go to the hospital. No one accepted my charming invitation.

“But you’re fine,” I was told. That’s not the point! Doesn’t anyone get it?

Maybe it’s these experiences that have jaded me into thinking that I deserve some kind of attention. Maybe it’s these experiences that have got me thinking that I’m superwoman. Maybe it’s these experiences that have me believing that I can do anything, alone, and not be limited by my disorder, the fact that I’m a woman or even, even my body.

When you take care of yourself, even others see you as a champ; invincible. Is that good? Is that bad? It doesn’t make me have diabetes any less. It just means that the complications are kept at bay. I may be different in multiple ways, but I have and will always have diabetes. Just because of that, I’m one of 25 million others in the United States.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Health, Hospitals, Latinos, Personal, Stories

DENIED Because of a Pre-exisiting Condition

As I was walking in this gloomy weather, I couldn’t help but think about the issues I have to go through because I am a person with diabetes. I mean, among those with diabetes, I feel like we talk about it all the time.

Checking blood sugar.

Counting carbohydrates.

Faulty hardware for pumps.

Blood sugars too high.

Blood sugars too low.

Frustration, anger, sadness, impatience.

Happiness for balance.

But then you realize that there’s more. That every move you make and every physical illness or issue that you may come across gets blamed on diabetes. It’s not like people ask you, “How does that affect your diabetes?” Most of the time, they ask, “Is that because of your diabetes?”

Blood sugar meme1The “outsiders” are not the only ones who think about it. We do, too. I do, all the time. Pain, numbness, headaches, skin discoloration: the first question I ask myself is, “Am I not taking care of myself well enough?” It’s a scary feeling. Especially for me, right now, it’s hard to try and feel as though I’m not falling apart.

Remember Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic?” Yeah. That’s me. I had great insurance coverage and took it all for granted that I could see whatever doctor, whenever I needed to and get supplies every three months. As soon as I remember that I don’t have insurance, I feel like everything hurts, my eyesight is going, my head’s going to fall off and I won’t be able to remember my own name tomorrow.

People like me, we need insurance. We need it to pay for supplies, hardware, strips, trips to the doctor, tests, everything really. However, I currently don’t have health insurance. Due to this little pre-existing condition that has ruled my life, I have been rejected and will be rejected by any major medical insurance carrier.  Trust me, I’ve applied. If you know of any major medical plan that judges you by “Do You Have Any Current Health Issues?” let me know.

Then you have all these other insurance companies that say they will cover you because you become part of a pool of people who also have preexisting conditions. Nope. It’s not major medical and it’s a rip-off. Coverage at the pharmacy, what I need the most for test strips and insulin, was non-existent. I was being charged incredible amounts of money for a three-month supply of anything. They didn’t cover anything. It was quite ridiculous and a waste of money.

When it came to hardware for my pump, I had to pay out-of-pocket and was charged $138 for one month. Before, I didn’t have to pay for it. Oh, you lucky people with a pancreas that works!

I don’t know if it makes me feel any better, but I usually explain why I don’t have health insurance. I tell them I’ve started my own business, that I’m an entrepreneur and that I am trying to make it happen for myself and for those who are involved. It’s hard. When I didn’t have insurance a few years ago, my doctor kept telling me to work at Starbucks. Guess what. I applied and never got a call.

Look, I don’t want to work in a cubicle for someone who calls me “Christine” and underestimates my abilities. I’m not a corporate ladder climber. I want to do things for myself and run the quick game that I play. I never wanted to be limited by this disease– this disorder– and it’s not fair that I am.

I keep asking for a miracle of some sort. The only hope at this point is for 2014 to get here and for people to tell me that having diabetes is not going to hinder my ability to get a major medical plan. I really don’t understand why some people don’t understand my ambition. It’s not more important than my health, but at the same time, it’s at the same level.

With or without health insurance I’m vigilant over my blood sugar, my health and the way I feel. The downside, of course, is the fact that I have to pay for everything out-of-pocket. As much as it sucks and as much as I owe doctors money right now, I have no choice. I’m hoping that regardless of what I decide to do, I will be taken care of and someone is looking over me.

For now, I raise my cafecito cup to all of us that have health battles to endure yet keep going, fighting and following our dreams and desires. You’re not alone and neither am I. Cheers to you for doing what you want and not being limited by this blasted body you’ve been given.

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Filed under Complications, Doctors, Hospitals, Treatments

The World Epidemic that No One Gets

First of all, I would like to announce that I am now a member of the American Diabetes Association’s Young Professionals Board, which is the only one in the nation thus far. Lucky for me, it’s here in Chicago and in need of more members. There are 16 of us total, who either have or know someone who has or has passed from diabetes complications. We’re getting somewhere!

Next, I would like to point out that Tuesday was Diabetes Alert Day. Throughout the day, people got out and said, “Hey! Are you at risk for Type 2 diabetes?! Take this risk test and find out.” Interesting how people never did this before when not very many people had diabetes, but it’s good that they’re getting out and fighting the good fight.

On the same day, or might have been Wednesday, Novo Nordisk released a press release talking about the effects that diabetes is having on the world. They expressed their concern for those who don’t have the resources necessary to take care of themselves. They also asked, when there will be enough to help the situation? Diabetes is not a cheap disorder to have, let me tell you.

They bring up a very valid point. When 79 million Americans have prediabetes, which is still abnormally high blood sugar readings, 26 million have already been diagnosed with it,  and there is a “diabetes belt” in the US alone, you have to think, when are these people going to get the help they need?And this is all Type 2 Diabetes by the way. Only five percent of those with diabetes have Type 1.

Do people not get it yet? Now they’re talking about a pill that will prevent “the move” from prediabetes to diabetes. As much as it sounds like it, this is not HIV to AIDS. This is you eating a salad instead of pizza and eating vegetables even if they’re out of a can. This is losing weight and knowing that you don’t have to die a disgusting and miserable death IF YOU DON’T WANT TO.

When are people going to start listening to what they have to change? In the end, you want to know who’s winning in all of this? Pharmaceutical companies. You’re on their pills, on their drugs and you start to get dependent on it all. Why don’t people grow a pair and decide to take this head on?

I knew a guy who was diagnosed with Type 2 and he emailed me asking what he should do. I said, go see a doctor, first of all. Next stay away from anything with added sugar. No pop, no sweets. Stay away. You want to be able to fight this off with little or no medication. It IS possible to put Type 2 Diabetes into REMISSION. The next time I saw him was in our offices, when someone asked if he wanted a sugary drink, similar to pop. “No, thanks,” I heard him stay. “Since I was diagnosed, I’ve been trying to keep away from the sweet stuff.” He then came to me and said that he had lost a significant amount of weight since he had emailed me. He was getting help and taking my advice. Do you know how good I felt that someone had actually decided to take care of themselves? Now only if we could get the rest of the United States to do this.

The other thing that angers me is that information that is supposedly new and recently done research is old news. Not exactly old, but it’s common sense. Now it’s, obese teens are at risk for Type 2. DUH! Why? Because they’re obese! Same thing with babies and children. They should not be fed everything they want to eat because it makes them happy. It should be limited and they should be playing outside and having fun. Why are these poor children and teens obese?! That’s child abuse! And guess what, if obesity is what’s the main cause of Type 2 Diabetes in older people, it’ll probably be an issue for teens and younger children as well. To know that children are already developing prediabetes is disgusting to me.

I guess I give people too much credit in the common sense area and they have to read it for themselves or from a study to know it to be true. I, on the other hand, want to smack a lot of them upside the head. People don’t realize how disgusting it is to die from diabetic complications. They really don’t. But think about it. If you read my blogs and read my explanations of how the body works, you’ll see that since diabetes is a multi-organ disease, it’s going to rip through each organ one-by-one. Usually, it’s your kidneys, then it’s neuropathy which leads to sores on your body, losing feeling in your limbs, all while having to urinate and eventually vomit, feeling exhausted and so thirsty you could drink a lake. If you’re lucky, you might just die of one massive heart attack or stroke. I can’t even continue…

What can I do to make you see the light?! I’m going to start giving workshops and talking about it. I have to. I can’t sit here an watch people drown in their own ignorance and bodily fluids. Something must be done and if no one else is reaching out, I will.

Contact me with any questions, comments or concerns. If you would like me to talk about Diabetes at your place of work, community center or family meeting, I’m at your service.

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Filed under Complications, Culture, Diabetes, Food, Health, Treatments

Pay Attention!

I never realized the impact of diabetes on my thoughts until I attended a tweet chat with #dsma or the Diabetes Social Media Advocates. They began asking deep questions like, “Who do you take care of yourself for?” Many said they do it for friends, family members and spouses or significant others. I went out on a far off limb and said, “I do it for myself and for my unborn children. I have met various peers who have lost their parent to diabetes complications.” I don’t want to be THAT parent, and I had a few people agree with me on the thought.

Personally, I don’t want to think that I’m not going to see my kids grow up and have their own children. It’s a scary thought that I never quite processed before. I want to see my grandchildren, that is, if I ever have children of my own. *Side note* Although I’ve never been pregnant, I will be talking about diabetes during pregnancy, both with Type 1, 2 and gestational diabetes.

Now, you might ask, do you think of that each time you check yourself or take insulin? No, I don’t. But when do you ever think of the bad stuff when it’s all going good? You don’t. I think about it when I get angry about certain issues I have. For example, when you count carbs, take your insulin and do everything right, just to have your blood glucose still high, that’s when I think, I have no control over this! Who says I’ll survive when my body isn’t reacting the way I want it to?!

No one can possibly save me from this whole ordeal if it’s not myself. My mind, at this point, is the master of my body and my method of survival. It’s all in my head. Isn’t that strange? It’s strange that as diabetics, we have to learn how our bodies work, what it’s trying to tell us and what we should do to fix it.

Take for example, if I feel a headache coming on, I know there’s a chance my blood sugar is high. Oddly enough, along with that, I can feel dryness in my eyes, which is another way I know my blood sugar’s high. These two symptoms are due to dehydration. When blood sugar goes up, urination increases, releasing fluids from the system, increasing thirst, exhaustion and headaches. See how that works? I know what I did wrong, what my body is lacking and how to fix it.

If I feel this, I know, “Check blood sugar right away!” and it honestly sucks when I get a headache and find out my blood sugar is normal. Why? Because I can’t do anything to fix it unless it involves other medication.

I’m lucky I pay attention. That’s the issue. People don’t pay enough attention to what their bodies are doing or saying to them. As diabetics, we urinate a ton, no lie. But if you go more frequently than necessary, something’s up.

So my advice for this week, diabetic or not, is PAY ATTENTION! There are things your body reacts to that you don’t even know about. Watch it before it’s too late to actually do something about it, get sick or just plain feel bad.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Health, Treatments