Category Archives: Latinos

…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

Gaining perspective to live my advocacy

I put my pump back on a while ago. Although it felt good to be disconnected, I realized that the luxury of it all was constant insulin being pumped through my body. A delicious feeling.

Since my last post, which was way too long ago, by the way, I’ve started a full-time job and I have insurance! It feels so good to say that. Months without insurance felt as though it was 10 years.

Today I called Medtronic to reorder supplies and it was easy peasy. I didn’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket, I just had to give the information on my pretty little insurance card. I learned a lot, without it. I learned what it was like to have to worry where the money was going to come from to pay for my supplies. I know what it’s like to be down to one infusion set and worried how, if I didn’t have syringes, I was going to get the insulin into my body.

It’s a scary thought, but it was there. Almost as bad as when my pump stopped working. At least when that happened, I did have insurance and was able to get  a replacement within a few days.

You’re going to find this weird, but I liked not having insurance because it put me in an uncomfortable situation. I had to figure things out. I had to worry. All my life I never worried about things like this, but in order to understand my community and what the highest rate of uninsured people are going through. Yep, that’s right. The Latino community has the highest rate of uninsured individuals.

What do they do? I asked myself every time I went to the county hospital. I was fortunate to be educated at an early age, have the resources in order to take care of myself and learn the betterment of my health. But what about those who don’t have everything I did?

I knew what to ask when I went to the hospital. I knew how to “manage up” instead of be dictated to about my health and what was good for me. I knew exactly what I had to say and sometimes, how to say it, in order for the folks helping me to understand just what I knew and how I knew it.

The one thing that I can’t stress enough is education on all counts. I mean, if you are someone with diabetes, educate yourself. If you’re someone who knows someone with diabetes, educate yourself. If you love someone with diabetes, educate yourself.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that there are times when people with diabetes want to give up, we get tired. To constantly think like your pancreas, think about every activity that you do ever day, it’s exhausting along with other daily responsibilities that we have. It’s an effort and what makes it easier is having people who understand what you’re going through.

This is why online communities are so important to many of us. We can find people who go through the same experiences without asking so many questions and bitch and moan as much as we want because, they get it.

If you don’t have diabetes but loves someone who does, the most useful you can be is being an understanding ear. You can understand what it is that we’re going through just by asking questions and doing a bit of research. The support that comes with knowledge is beyond lecturing people with diabetes about what to eat.

I appreciate someone who can help me out by listening and wanting to know. Having diabetes is a part of me, a secret, sacred, special part of me that very few know about. I mean, very few without diabetes know. My DOC, or diabetes online community, knows me well. But that special spot is open to very few.

I want to talk about it. I want people to know me. That’s why I answer questions and I talk about the issues that we go through as people with diabetes, as a Latino community that is not educated properly about their health with diabetes, and I’m not ashamed of who I am or the disorder that I have. I welcome questions. I live my advocacy.

Ask away. I’m prepared to answer.

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Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Doctors, Health, Latinos

My Tangent: The Chaos That Is Diabetes

2013-06-22 11.50.29I haven’t been here in a while, I know. I’ve been too busy writing in other blogs and editorial mediums for this little blog of mine. But alas! I am here and I’m ready to tell a couple of stories about diabetes and my travels to Mexico, lindo y querido.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been back from Mexico City and Guerrero, two places that I hold very dear to my heart. I’ve written about my travels and how I felt from a cultural standpoint, but I didn’t really discuss the health issues that I saw and that have emerged since I’ve gotten back.

In recent news, a study emerged from the UN stating that over 32 percent of Mexicans are obese and 70 percent are overweight. I can’t say that I didn’t see this. I did. Very much. Because of this weight problem, almost the same that we see here in the United States, we see a sharp increase in Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The two go hand in hand.

Articles talking about this issue have stated over and over again that it’s due to malnutrition that Mexicans are overweight. Though this may be true in smaller towns and rural areas, where people eat the cheapest option (mostly chips, candy and pop), in Mexico City it’s not so much malnutrition as a sedentary lifestyle where people are sitting more behind desks than they are harvesting their crops in the field.

Experts and journalists can claim a lot of different issues, but the truth is, when you visit Mexico it’s hard to tell the difference between Mexican communities on this side of the border and actual neighborhoods in Mexico City. There are Burger Kings, Starbucks, McDonald’s and KFCs down there now. And since people look to American “restaurants” as a luxury, they start eating it. Granted, the food down there is healthier than what you find up here. Even the fast food.

Though, we have to think about the violence and turbulence in the country as a whole and how that may even be preventing people from being healthy. It must be taken into consideration, especially when the issue of malnutrition and poverty is at hand.

My Tía Irene making quesadillas.

My Tía Irene making quesadillas.

When I was down there for the week, I ate four times a day until I was ready to pop. Each time I ate, I took the exact amount of insulin and four hours later, my blood sugar dropped as it should and it was time to eat again. Oh, the freshness! My tía would go into town in the morning to buy food for breakfast. It was a daily trip to take to make fresh food that would go bad in two days. Can you imagine that?

The difference between here and there is that their naturally grown food is coming from seed that’s not necessarily genetically manufactured and not grown in bulk. Since growing natural food here is a business, how do you know there is any nutrition left in the lettuce, spinach and corn that we’re eating? If Mexicans stuck to natural foods, they would be a lot healthier. Me, I can live on fruit!

The other issue is corn. Maize is the livelihood of Mexicans. You can make anything with corn and it’s almost in every dish. It’s heavy and has carbs and a lot of the time the food made with corn is fried. What do you get? Larger waistlines and bad teeth.

It’s all about balance and what Mexican people are not learning is that balance. There were few people running around the park when I was out there. I would also bet money that violence has a lot to do with the reason why people are staying inside. Farmers are no longer needing to work because they are out of jobs. Why? NAFTA. OK, that’s an easy scapegoat, but in reality, farmers are out of jobs because countries like the United States are selling their corn much cheaper than the cost of living in Mexico. We grow in bulk, have everything manufactured and have capitalized on capitalization.

I sat there and thought about the chain of issues that are caused and how in the end, leads to fatter people and a growing epidemic in a country that doesn’t need it. There are many other political thoughts that go through my head when thinking about these issues, but nonetheless, I need to keep a focus.

El Naranjo, Gro., Mexico from a rooftop.

El Naranjo, Gro., Mexico from a rooftop.

A good family friend that we stayed with who is in her 70s was telling me about how she was diagnosed with Type 2 about 15 years ago, maybe more. She explained how she had to go to classes to learn about management and nutrition. Because she was scared to lose limbs and die, she took steady care of herself and didn’t need to be on any medication. Then she found out her daughter was moving out of the house without being married (obviously, a big NO NO) and her emotional distress elevated her blood sugar levels to the point that she had to return to medication.

She’s convinced her diabetes is stress and emotion related. Whatever it is, she’s doing well now. She goes to the doctor and manages herself with oral medication. The fear put her in her place in terms of education and treating herself well. She’s now at a point where she knows her body and knows what she can’t eat and what she can’t. Everything in moderation.

Her daughter was recently diagnosed with Type 2 as well and is at the same point she was: afraid. I said, I’ve been living with it for over 20 years and I’m fine. You just have to know your body. She also told me that her doctor said not to be afraid of insulin. I said, nope! Don’t be! I’ve been on it since I was diagnosed and I can still see! The myth there is that if you start on insulin, you’ll go blind. Every Type 1 knows that’s a lie.

I talked about this last night on DSMA en Vivo in Spanish with Mila Ferrer, my co-host. Listen to it if you speak Spanish. Other than that, I’m done with my rant and I’ll see you all next time I get inspired!

 

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Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Food, Health, Latinos, Stories

Untired Inspiration: Educational Creativity

Whether I’m watching the work of other talented Latinas or talking about work with talented Latinos, I feel like I’m always inspired. It doesn’t cease. My mind is always going, always working, always thinking about what to do to make the world a better place, how I can help make the community better, how I can be of service to those who think they don’t need my help.

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Mural in Pilsen, across the street from Dvorak Park | Pablo Serrano

I have the pleasure of living and interacting with some of the most talented people in Chicago that many might know but few get to encounter the way I encounter them on a weekly basis. I am a privileged artist among artists because of the people I speak to. Sometimes I might not get the work done that I need to get done. I might have to work on something, take a phone call and be aware of my time management, but I am also learning so much more than I can from keeping to myself and talking to my computer.

I find that building community and interacting with people who I find fascinating  who can teach me a thing or two about the place in which I live helps me to be healthier and fulfills my life with the wisdom to see just how I can be a positive impact and light for others. This is what makes me find more passion for what I do and how I work.

The two artists that I had the pleasure of speaking with today, along with the artists that I know within the community are very much that— community oriented. In addition, they teach and carry that inherent wisdom with them as they converse and exchange thoughts with people like me, who may not work the same way they do, but am creative (or so I’d like to think) anyway.

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Naco posting wheat paste | Pilsen

It’s hard to walk away from the conversations and the deep-rooted philosophies  feeling uninspired. It made me want to do something more. It made me want to do what I do better.

In the midst of that conversation, I had a call about a project that my company is working on. A diabetes initiative that talks to the community about being Type 2 diabetes from a culturally relevant standpoint. Nuances and bilingualism included. My phone call had strong validation for what we’re trying to do; the education we’re trying to bring to people who feel that diabetes is a death sentence or that there is nothing preventative that one can do about the dreadful disorder.

It might not have fallen inline with the visual art of these two extremely talented individuals  but it is a creative venture. Knowing that there is someone, a head of a foundation, a person with diabetes himself and who is offering his help in distribution and collaborative services, who is behind what we are trying to get going is inspiring in itself.

This call, coupled with local, community-based perspectives made my day, to say the least. I was validated on various fronts, moving different ideas forward and coming up with ways to initiate furthering the community’s reach above and beyond the city of Chicago; whether it’s through health initiatives, teaching people about culture or both.

Social, insightful and stimulating: if this isn’t good for me, I don’t know what is.

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El Cafecito lindo y querido

coffeeI love coffee. I really, really like coffee. It makes me focus. It tastes and smells delicious.

I’m a chronic coffee shop goer. A friend and I call it, “coffee shopping.” Every morning I have to decide which of the multiple cafes in the Pilsen neighborhood here in Chicago.

Sitting in coffee shops, you get to meet a lot of different people in the community. If you know anything about Pilsen, there are many artists that live in the community. Muralists, musicians, painters, drawers, writers, graphic designers, you name it, you can find it in a Pilsen cafe.

Those of us who work remotely typically sit in the same places, bumping into each other until someone finally takes the initiative to introduce themselves.

We talk about life, work, the community, among other things and most of all there is  a sense of collaborative effort in whatever sense you can think of. From people listening to problems to an expansion of philosophical thought, you just might be able to find it in a cafe. I love that about these little places. It doesn’t matter that you live in the community. Cafes give you a place to work when you’re tired of looking at the walls in your apartment. Coffee gives you the jolt to make it happen.

Coffee has always been something special for me. If I hang out at my parents’ house long enough, we usually have decaffeinated coffee after dinner with pan dulce to make us drowsy enough for bed. It gives us all time to sit around the living room and talk about what’s on television.

As a child, my tía Carmen and I would play tea time, except with coffee. We would eat cookies, too, which I would dunk in the coffee; something I still do to this day. I like to dunk. She hated when I would dunk in her cup, so I would do it often.

Sometimes, coffee feels like a right of passage, especially when you used to hear, “Don’t drink coffee or else it’ll stunt your growth!” Which is not true.

According to studies, nutritionists fear cream and sugar more than the actual coffee for children and even adults. When I used to go to the McDonald’s in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, which I so lovingly called the Puerto Rican McDonald’s (especially since they played salsa every morning), I used to hear people’s orders: 8 creams, 12 sugars; 2 cream, 10 sugars. I’m not even kidding.  That is the honest to God truth.

On a level of health concerns, you shouldn’t be afraid of coffee if you drink it black. But if you’re a sweet-toothed type of person, beware. Coffee elevates my blood sugar. I’ve written about it before. Mainly it’s because of the caffeine which boosts the adrenaline which is what also wakes me up to focus. Typically, taking a unit or two of insulin brings it back down to normal, although cream could make a bit of a difference.

It has become even more interesting since recently a study came out saying that over 70 percent of Latinos drink coffee, which I didn’t doubt for a second. Other studies have found that coffee can help prevent Type 2 diabetes, something I might be skeptical about, but hey, if it gives you a reason to drink a cup of Joe, go right ahead. You can will yourself to wake up in the morning with that one.

I’m just going to say that I lost the thrill for this blog post since losing it twice and having to rewrite it. So excuse my lack of focus or enthusiasm in this post. I might have just had one cup of coffee too little. Ha!

 

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At 28, I’m Ready To Bring It Back

Hi world at Kikisbetes.com!

It’s been a while since I’ve been here on my very own site with my very own insights and blogs. What a blessing. Yesterday I decided that I was going to revive the blog and it was a long time coming. Well, actually about a week and a half. I went down to Miami for the Hispanicize conference and met a ton of Latinos all doing the same thing; making it happen with their own insight, brands and storytelling.

Pump and I at Hispanicize

If you don’t already know, I’m a founding member of Pícaro Media, a content creation company for the Latino market. We’re pretty cool, if I may say so myself. Anyway, we went down to South Beach and I knew I was going to find one fellow diabetes blogger. As I sat in her panel discussion, I asked a question and was approached by several different people about having diabetes. I realized that since I have become a representative of myself and what I do, I would have to revive this blog. It’s a good thing, too. I have a lot to talk about.

I made it to 28 everyone! I know, plenty of you are saying that that’s so young, but it feels good to be another year older with more wisdom under my belt. Wisdom, friends, insights, experiences, the whole thing feels delectable.

So here come the diabetes stories I have. On my way down to Miami, I was harassed by the TSA again.  Not harassed, since I’m used to it, but instead of putting me through the metal detector, when I refuse the body scanner they automatically have to pat me down. That’s slightly ridiculous if you ask me. It happened going to and coming from and is a pain in the butt. There has to be a standardized way of handling us people with diabetes, I tell you. Because it’s becoming very unfair. Like I said before, I don’t ask for privacy because I want people to see what I go through so they learn and know how discriminatory it is.

Secondly, I was listening to Dr. Oz today as I was getting ready to leave my apartment and I heard him say, “This is what happens to diabetics.” It irked me. To have a “doctor” say that kind of sucked. This little pet peeve about words, I think, makes more sense coming from me as a journalist and a grammar Nazi. However, on the other hand, these words have an impact on the people of whom you are speaking. It’s like calling someone “disabled.” We are not defined by these words. We are merely subject to the limitations these issues have on our lives, but it doesn’t stop us from living. Properly, it is said “People with diabetes,” and “People with a disability.” Done and done.

I think that’s it for now. I just wanted to share a bit so that I can tell people I’m bringing this back to live for my 28th year of life. I feel good about it. It’s moving forward and so am I.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Filed under Diabetes, Doctors, Latinos, Stories

Food for thoughts of happy endings.

Of course, I’m going to tell you that vegetables are the best thing for you to eat if you’re diabetic. But there are other foods that are good for you, that will keep your blood sugar stable and help keep you healthy. You have to keep this in mind; before, they counted everything in your diet towards your insulin intake. Now they just count carbs. But the less carbs you eat, the better, right? Or so say all the diets that have been emerging, especially since the atkins diet.

Anyway, I’m going to tell you about foods you should be eating to help your blood sugar stay controlled.

taken from: fitness.resourcesforattorneys.com

Anything green allows you to have iron in your system, which is in charge of carrying oxygen-healthy cells. By green I mean like spinach, broccoli, lettuce and even strawberries and kiwi have a lot of iron.

Here’s a list of what to eat while pregnant, that works even if you’re not and even if you’re a man:

Dried fruits and nuts: The mixture of these two ingredients gives you a balance of natural sugars and proteins and also give your jaw a workout. Did you know that once your jaw gets tired of chewing, it will send a message to your brain telling it that you no longer want to eat?

Whole-grain crackers or bread with peanut butter: Anything whole grain is good for you. The complex carbs keep you satiated longer and also are better for energy and don’t store as fat so easily. Peanut butter, like nuts, is a great sources of protein that will fill you up. Fat is necessary in your diet, no matter what anyone says. As long as you limit your peanut butter intake, you can count it as protein and not fat, which will also keep you fuller, longer.

Yogurt: The creamy deliciousness has a high source of probiotics that’s awesome for your stomach. Stick to low-fat yogurt and add granola for extra fiber and extra crunch.

Fruit: Fresh fruit is the best kind! The natural sugars don’t take long for your body to process and therefore gets worked out quicker. Unlike processed sugar that can do more harm than good, you don’t need too much insulin when eating fruit. The fibers and extra nutrients and vitamins in fruits make them that much better to eat.

Low-fat cheese or cottage cheese: Again, these dairy products have a lot of protein and keep you fuller longer. Since you’re not eating so much, it will keep your blood sugar regulated.

A baked potato: eat a small one with the skin. Potato skins carry a lot of vitamins and nutrients.

A hard-boiled egg: Again, eggs are a high source of protein. Add a little bit of salt to the hard-boiled egg and it tastes delicious.

Hummus and pita slices: Hummus has a ton of protein in it. For those of you who don’t know, hummus is crushed chickpeas, which eaten whole are also a delicious source of protein that can be added to salads or eaten alone.

Cacti are known to produce their own insulin and have been used to treat type 2 diabetes around the world. How do you prepare this, you ask? Well, when I was a kid, my grandmother gave it to me in the form of a shake and my mom make nopalitos mixed with egg, like a cactus omelette.  It’s delicious. It’s been used for other illnesses and diseases too like asthma and whooping-cough. Those Latinos and indigenous folk know what they’re talking about!

In addition, high fiber foods that are natural also keep your blood sugar balanced. As I mentioned before, fruits like apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries and bananas are high sources of fiber and very good for you. Actually, any kind of berry is excellent for your system. The Mayo Clinic lists high-fiber foods that are delicious and nutritious!

Keeping an eye on nutritional facts is a great idea and not hard to do. The less insulin you use the better, right? Well, sometimes, but you want to be good to your body as much as possible.

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For Diabetics: Be Good To Your Dogs

My mom loves the family dog. He actually started off as a stray on the street and my aunt who’s a Chicago Police officer found him as a puppy and asked if we wanted him. My parents had always told me no, but when I was heading off to college, thought the dog would be a perfect replacement for me and kept him as a distraction for my sister.

Mr. Benjamin Brown-Rodriguez

She named him Benji and he was brown. I added on. His full name? Mr. Benjamin Brown-Rodriguez. He was the cutest little thing and he peed everywhere and tore everything else up. We didn’t know how old he was, so typically we celebrate his birthday every fourth of July. We welcomed him into our home in September about six years ago.

Like I said, my mother loves him. You can tell. He’s fat. He’s also spoken to like a child, although he’s technically 42 in dog years and he listens like a little human. He’s part of the family as any other dog would be after that amount of time, hanging around and eating everything you don’t want.

When we first got him, my parents felt that he should eat like a human too. About three times a day. When he started getting too big for himself– or better yet, when he started being able to sit on his butt like a human, the doctor said no more. “You can’t keep feeding him. You have to walk him. He won’t be able to walk correctly if he gets any fatter.”

Like any other Latino family, my mother says, “Awww, he’s not fat!” when in reality, he’s a chubster. Don’t get me wrong, people love him for it and he’s dropped weight since, but still, he’s big for the kind of dog he is. Oh, and like Latino families, mine don’t listen and at times give the dog table food behind my sister’s back. When she sees it, she gets rough.

“Maaaaooom!!! I told you not to give him any more food! He already ate! You’re going to kill him!”

Yeah, that, or get diabetes. It’s hard enough having one diabetic in the family, let alone a dog that you have to give shots to. I’m sure they could do it though. But just in case you didn’t know, pets can get diabetes too, especially because they’re over weight and yes, you would have to give them insulin shots like a person would have to take.

I was inspired to write this post because a friend of mine on Twitter said that he has to put his cat down today.

@rudym55: Not a good day. Putting my cat, Rico to sleep. He’s got diabetes. Today SUCKS.

As someone who has seen this in animals before I said to just give him the shots, which he replied were too expensive and that Rico was too old. It’s sad to see pets go, especially when you’ve had them for so long.

So here we go. In my research I came across a page from Washington State University that describes the reasons why pets get diabetes.

“Certain conditions predispose a dog or cat to developing diabetes. Animals that are overweight or those with inflammation of the pancreas are predisposed to developing diabetes. Some drugs can interfere with insulin, leading to diabetes.”

The animals can develop diabetes at all ages like humans, and is usually found twice as much in female dogs and male cats, which I found interesting. Although cats have the option of oral medication, only shots work on dogs.

According to an article on petplace.com, dogs too have a Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Mostly all cases, though, are Type 1. As in humans, diabetes is not sexist nor breedist. It affects both male and female dogs and of all types.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, the cause of diabetes was found through experimentation on dogs. According to Islets of Hope, a site with information dedicated to diabetes, Polish-German physician Oscar Minokowski removed a dog’s pancreas in 1889. It was then that they made the connection between the pancreas and diabetes because the dogs urine contained sugar. They noticed this because of flies feeding on the urine.  For decades after that, dogs were used in multiple experiments that pertained to islets (little groups of cells that produce insulin) and insulin secretion. Many dogs were pancreatectomized (had their pancreas removed) for these tests.

So for you diabetics out there, take care of your animals and pets because without them, we wouldn’t be alive today.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Food, Health, History, Insulin, Latinos, Personal, Stories

#BusTales

Yes, it’s a hashtag. I created it because I wanted to talk and document my time on the bus since I take the number nine to and from work every day. Depending on the time of day I get to see kids, parents, workers, students, hipsters. You name it and I see it all on that ride from Fullerton to 21st street every day.

This was a different day, though. The day that this story takes place was a different day. I was on the bus, starving and tired and I sat in the middle of the bus while on the phone. When I hung up, I look over to see a man who didn’t smell to nice and so I leaned my head against the cold glass of the window and decided that through all the bumps and potholes, I was going to try to take a nap. I was on my way to my parents’ house and had farther to go.

I awoke to hear two women talking. The Ashland bus ride is always interesting and you never quite know that if the two Mexican women you see talking actually know each other. And I had no idea if they knew each other. But one woman sat down next to me, while the other was standing over her, a little younger, in the crowded bus. They spoke in Spanish, discussing (but kind of more complaining) about the cold, talking about the ride home and then some. The woman who was sitting next to me says that she had a doctor’s appointment at noon that day. Noon. And she was just going home from that now. Noon. It had to be a clinic, I thought. And so far from her home, too.

Me, the eavesdropper, kept listening. I was now sitting up right, instead of leaning over on the window. The woman standing up asked what she went to the doctor for and the older woman said, “Pues, todo” meaning “Well, everything.” She explained that she had diabetes and that her husband did, too. The woman standing up she was also diabetic. This was around 5:30. How do I know? I tweeted about it. Yes, ma’am, I tweeted this conversation.

@kikisbetes: Lady on the bus just said she’s had #diabetes for over 20 yrs and until now is controlling it. Her #a1c was at 11.

So that was the first tweet. The woman who said that was the one standing up, who was a bit younger than the woman sitting down, like I said. She has had diabetes for over 20 years and also had siblings who died from it. I always find a problem in the way people say, “They died from diabetes.” No one really DIES from diabetes. It’s the same as if you had said, “He died from AIDS.” You don’t die from the diseases, you die because of the complications that come with having them.

Anyway, she said that she had never controlled it until now and was taking insulin shots. Her A1c was at 11. By the way, that was the first time I had heard any person not in a doctor’s office, not a doctor or a nurse, say out loud “A1c.” It was kind of weird, but at the same time, awesome because this person was taking the time to educate herself. She continued to talk about how she was taking over 60 units of insulin to keep her controlled. She was telling the older person that it was important to take care of herself because then  it would start to affect her kidneys, her eyes. I thought to myself, ‘Either someone got to her or she found a good doctor.’

The woman who was standing got off at 18th and Ashland. During that time, I had tweeted some more.

@kikisbetes: The first lady said her 3 siblings died from #diabetes related issues. Should I say something??
@kikisbetes: The other lady said she’s had it for less time and it’s already affecting her eyes. #diabetes #bustales
@kikisbetes: They are sad because they say there’s nothing to help. Little do they know. #diabetes

When the woman standing up left, I thought, ‘How do I say something to this woman? What do I say?’ So I had this genius idea. I pulled out my glucose meter and I checked myself. I was feeling kind of weird any way and she looks over and says, “Mira! Tu ta mbien tienes diabetes! Y tan joven!” Look! You have diabetes too! And you’re so young. I started explaining my situation to her. I was diagnosed at 7, I have type 1 not type 2 and I’ve learned to live with it.

She understood. She started telling me about her husband who is going blind because he didn’t control his diabetes. I told her about my grandma who, by taking care of herself, put her diabetes into remission. I told her about my cousin, answered her questions as to how we got it so young and gave her tips on what to eat to improve her diet. “It’s that it’s just so hard,” she said to me. I told her, you must have the will. She understood exactly what she needed to do but also understood her own psychology behind it. “Es que la gente come y no piensa. Luego cuando pasa algo asi, no saben como cambiar para cuidarse,” she said. It’s that people just eat without thinking. Then something like this happens and no one knows what to do to take care of themselves.

She explained to me that she started feeling shaky at 100. I told her to hang on and deal with the uncomfortable feelings. She said that her vision changed and I told her to keep her blood sugars down. I asked her if she had kids and she said, of course, going on to tell me about her children and grandchildren. I found out she lived on the far south side and didn’t want to bother her daughter, who has a newborn and another child, to take her to the clinic. “Alone, I go at a calmer pace and I don’t mind.”

I told her to tell her kids to look things up for her online. There are so many resources for diabetes, especially since so many people have it now. The CDC just released information saying that three million more people have diabetes now since 2008 and the amount of pre-diabetics has risen 22 million people. Now there are 79 million pre-diabetics. That’s insane.

When I was talking to this woman, I completely sat past my stop for about 15 extra blocks. I tried to tell her what to do to improve herself, obviously nothing a doctor could tell her. The amazing thing is, for those 26+ million Americans who are diabetic, you’re telling me that all of them have insurance? All of them are taking care of themselves? Impossible.

There are people like this woman who don’t know what to do and it’s not because they don’t care to know, it’s because they’re scared and don’t know where to turn. And the funny thing is that I thought to myself, “Come on, you’re Mexican. Eat like you did in Mexico.” Then I stopped myself and thought, well, that’s probably what she has been doing and that’s exactly what’s hurting her.

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Filed under Culture, Food, Health, Latinos, Other Diabetics, Stories

Preguntitas…

Here’s something I haven’t done since I’ve started. I want to ask if anyone out there has any questions about diabetes and being Latin@.  If you have any questions concerning food, substitutes, exercise or anything else, ask away!

But first, I’d like to thank the chicas from the TikiTiki Blog, who mentioned my blogs on their piece Latina Bloggers for 2011. The only little problem I had was with my last name. It’s spelled with a G not a Q. It’s fine, my landlady did the same thing on the mailbox.

So, back to my preguntas! All right, I’m seriously going to be waiting for people to ask some solid questions. Whether it’s personal about me or about having diabetes or about what can happen, I’m an open book and will tell you what you need to know!

That’s my blog post for today. I will be posting it everywhere, so don’t be alarmed if you see it more than once. If you would rather ask questions privately, please email me at kikisbetes@gmail.com. Otherwise, post a comment!

Te estoy esperando!

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Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Health, Latinos