Category Archives: Food

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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Being Robbed of the Independent Mindset

We laugh. At least we try to laugh and have a good humor about having diabetes. I mean, it’s something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives and at times if you don’t laugh, you will do nothing but cry. It’s the truth. A lot of us use humor to get through it, but regardless of that, there are still those times that make you shout out, “Oh, shit!” at 5 a.m. because you really have no other way of expressing yourself at the moment.

LOWOne thing that I’ve seen a meme created over was the fact that you can feel relatively low (as in having hypoglycemia) but the full affects don’t hit you until you see that number on the tiny screen telling you that you’re definitely low. Shakes, sweats, stars that are a sign of a blackout all of a sudden hit you like a ton of bricks and you become a wobbly zombie headed for the refrigerator trying to get some juice in your mouth. Seeing that stupid little number always makes it worse.

There are sometimes, and I know I’m not the only one, where your body feels so weak that you want to convince yourself you’re just tired and think of even skipping trying to eat something. I know, it’s terrible. But when you have a pump or on insulin therapy and also happen to have a continuous glucose monitor, you know about the lack of sleep. Beeping, buzzing, whizzing… I’m pretty sure it talks to aliens sometimes. It doesn’t stop. That’s why if you’re on social media you see people talk about how grateful they are to have gotten a good night’s rest. It’s rare.

So last night, I went out for drinks with friends to celebrate a birthday. I was having a good time and my blood sugar was fine. I had also gone to the gym, an evil place that ruins diabetes for a lot of people.

I came home, had a little snack before going to bed and then the beeping started. You know, that decreasing three-tone beep that lets you know it’s coming. “Predicted Low” says my pump and I groan and roll over. It’s at 70. If you have a CGMS, you know that sometimes it can be off. Maybe mine is off I thought. A few minutes later, that other beep… the one that tells you you’re low. I ignore it. A few minutes later, there it is again. My reading says something like 60 but as I lay with my eyes wide open, deciding what I have to drink or eat, I realize that it’s dropping more. At this point, I’ve already suspended the pump. Even though I do that, I keep dropping. It’s really a pain that started since I started going to the gym again. It drops at night even more on the days I don’t go, which is how I know my workouts are really working. Weird, I know, but that’s how I feel about it.

I finally get up after having a mini dream about drinking the last of the orange juice in my fridge. I get to my meter and check myself. “Holy shit!” I said without even realizing it. The number: 26. As I stumbled (from shock, I think) to the fridge, I thought, should I even be awake right now? Conscious? I mean, anything below 70 is already considered hypoglycemia and I was way below that.

I chugged the orange juice so fast that I got brain freeze. At 5 a.m. In the middle of winter. My dumbass gets brain freeze. I look around for more things to eat. I had just gone grocery shopping and I got healthy food. It’s times like these that I get upset at myself for trying to be so healthy. What is asparagus going to do for hypoglycemia?! I found my stash of peanut butter and even better my stash of Nutella. Hello Nutella and peanut butter sandwich at 5 a.m. Best breakfast ever. After the juice, drank some milk and there I went, off to bed. I checked one more time and I was at 49. Still incredibly low, however it was going up.

I tell you, for having diabetes, it’s rough. And it’s times like these that rob me of an independent mindset. I always tell myself that I can live alone and that I’ll be fine, but there’s a fear that sets in during those early morning hours that make me think, “What if no one looks for me tomorrow and I’m passed out on the floor?” The only thing I could think after all that was, “Thank God I woke up.” When the diabetic educator asked me if I lived with someone and I said no, she said, “Well, when you do, we’ll teach him how to give you a glucagon shot.” How romantic.

“Hey sweetie, as a sign of our love for each other, I want you to learn how to shoot me up and save my life.” I guess it can be, just not the way I envisioned it.

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What’s so sexy about diabetes?

I had a boyfriend who said I wouldn’t have been as attractive to him if I didn’t have diabetes. How true is that? I have no idea. I’m going to bet on blind, young love for that mentality.

However, I have found that people are thoroughly impressed by diabetes management. They also like to blame me when things go wrong, but I’d like to think it’s because they feel that I’m such in good control (good is relative, by the way) that nothing can go wrong and when it does, I MUST have miscalculated and screwed it up because I wanted to. There is no other rationale behind it.

Au contraire, I have had conversations with my cousin (another person living with Type 1) about being with people (you know, in THAT way) and being on the pump. “You have holes everywhere. Don’t your boyfriends think that’s gross?” I mean, quite clearly he thinks it’s gross. “No, dude. They understand that I have the pump for diabetes management and control.” I would like to think that no guy is shallow enough to think it’s gross that I’m a cyborg because I need to survive. The holes aren’t gaping! And sure, I have a few scars, but damn it, I’m alive! I think that’s a pretty good exchange.

Diabetes-Definition

I’m not like everyone else BECAUSE I have diabetes. I think that might be another attractive quality. I have something no one else (within our circle of friends) has. This also makes me unique because of my expertise in the field (how professional sounding). Since there’s about one degree of separation from you and knowing someone with diabetes, I can almost always start-up a conversation. And people are interested in things that they don’t know too much about, like diabetes. This means I’m interesting to talk to. HOT STUFF.

Additionally, everything in life looks a little easier when you have diabetes. Think about it for a second: On a daily basis you have to think like your broken organ. Pumps make it much easier to manage, especially if you’re bad at math. But for the most part deciding whether or not you really want that cookie or doughnut or piece of candy (I work in a hellish place for diabetic consideration) because your pancreas is out of commission and that means blood sugar spikes galore, is a burden sometimes. You might think, “What if I walked around the office to lower the blood sugar,” “I can walk it off at lunch to prevent the spike,” or even “I wonder if anyone will notice I’m doing jumping jacks in my cubicle” just because you don’t want to think about how you’re going to feel if you eat that crappy, yet oh-so-delicious sweet thing! The other option is taking a little extra insulin before you ingest the carbohydrates, but sometimes you don’t want to do that.  Why? Well, maybe it’s just me, but I like to think, the less insulin the better even though I don’t limit myself.

The thought process is second nature for people with diabetes– if you’ve had to live with it long enough, at least. It’s like being bilingual: Speak to me in Spanish and I’ll speak in Spanish back to you without thinking about it. Our thought process comes in at a point-blank range and makes it easier for us to say no to sweets, rice or other heavily carbohydrated foods. You just know that it’s not going to be good for you two hours after you eat it.

Management of your body is hot. It’s called WILL POWER, baby and you know it turns you on. It also helps you decide what you’re going to fight about when you’re in a relationship. How? You literally learn how to pick your battles and give priority to the things that really matter. I mean, you have a broken organ for crying out loud! Your perspective changes on stupid stuff.

This leads to the importance of prioritizing your life. You know what’s important when you have diabetes. You understand how your health and body effect everything that you do. From your attention span and bathroom breaks to feeling sleepy or feeling amazing, it’s all connected.

To know that you have your diabetes under control is something to be proud of. It takes time management, will power, dedication, consideration, ambition and love– elements that will make anyone pretty sexy.

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‘Diabetic’ and what it means to me

According to Webster’s Dictionary:

di·a·bet·ic– adjective \ˌdī-ə-ˈbe-tik\

: affected with diabetes

: caused by diabetes

: suitable for people with diabetes

IMAG2827_1_1And because of this, I have a bone to pick. See, diabetic is an adjective as stated above, however when people say that I’m a “diabetic” it goes a lot deeper and almost feels offensive. Does that make sense? The feeling offensive part, I mean.

For a lot of people, they look at diabetes as a handicap, a disability, something that makes you abnormal. Sure, my pancreas is broken, like Kelly Kunik said on her Facebook status recently, but it doesn’t mean I am. When you say that I’m “diabetic” you’re telling me that that’s all I am.

“You’re a diabetic. You can’t have that.”

Correction: I’m a person with diabetes and I can have whatever I want. Is it good for me? Probably not. But “normal” people shouldn’t be eating it either, regardless of a working pancreas.

Along with that, I cannot stand the last definition “suitable for people with diabetes.” Listen, Webster, there are a lot of things that are suitable for me and of which I am suitable for. Don’t go limiting what I can have and what I can’t. This goes a long way in our daily lives as people who live with diabetes. There’s diabetic cookbooks (really? You mean HEALTHY cookbooks?) and diabetic candy (just say sugar-free because hey, it’s better for your teeth) and diabetic socks ( I mean, anyone can wear those right? What if my mom, who’s not a person with diabetes, thinks they’re warm. Can she not wear them?). I can go on and on and on about this. Don’t go limiting my way of life because you want to market and make money off of me.

The only time I’ve ever found “diabetic” suitable is when someone talks about a “diabetic educator.” I mean, you can also say that we have “diabetic conversations” via #DSMA on Wednesdays. What else? Diabetic comas, diabetic anxiety, diabetic dilemmas, diabetic problems. I mean, the list goes on and on because I use it as an ADJECTIVE not a NOUN people! I’m a Diabetic Grammar Nazi! (I actually like that one.)

Quite honestly, about 15 years ago when my doctors told me I was not normal was the day I said I was. Listen, I have abnormally high BLOOD SUGAR. I, on the other hand, am not abnormal. See the difference?

I would rather be abnormal anyway and all diabetes aside, I still am in other ways. In addition to all of this, I’m a rebel for dismissing anything at the store with “Diabetic” in the title. Why? Because I wasn’t going to limit myself to something that said it was for me. It’s not for me. I know what’s good for me and I can manage to eat things out of a regular “Mexican Cookbook” or “30 Easy Recipe” cookbook. Are you going to tell me to eat less salt? Substitute fake Splenda and Equal for regular granulated sugar? Use Greek yogurt instead of vegetable oil (which is amazing in cakes, by the way)? I’m already five steps ahead of you.

My favorite is when you go to the stores and hear someone say, “This looks good!” Then the other person responds, “It says diet. It’s for diabetics not for you.” Listen, señora, you might want to take the diet one anyway. The biggest difference might be less carbohydrates, less sugar and better for your body– but you know, since you’re normal, have the regular kind instead.

Look, people with diabetes (PWDs) live like everyone should live. We eat in moderation (many of us), we limit our sugar intake (ok, sometimes) and we exercise to get the blood sugars down so we can eat more delicious foods. If you need help in making better nutritional decisions for yourself, see a nutritionist and if you have diabetes, see a diabetic educator so you can learn how to count your carbs.

For the rest of us, leave us alone. You just WISH you had the same will power and discipline we do. If that’s abnormal, so be it.

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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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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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And the point of working out is… Bad dreams!

So everyone knows that working out is good for you. That’s no secret. But when you’re living with diabetes and on medication for it, working out is a problem. My doctor used to laugh and would say something like, “Yeah, you work out to lose weight, then your blood sugar goes down and you have to eat.” There’s basically no winning in the game.

Like everything else, there is a solution to the problem, not that I’ve found it yet. Working out is like a double-edged sword. You either have to do it consistently so that your insulin intake reflects it (if you’re on the pump) or you have to turn the darn thing off when you’re stretching, moving and grooving. I don’t work out at the same time every day, so the bolus schedule that I’m on is hard to come by. I can change it every day, but I’m too lazy to do that. Usually my work outs last for about 45 minutes, so I just take it off, do my thing and put it back on. That’s not an issue.

But my question is, how are you supposed to deal with monitoring yourself when you’re not awake?! My problems have always come at night. Either my blood sugar sky rockets when I sleep or it drops dramatically. Take for example, yesterday. Yesterday I came home from work and decided to work out. Midway through, my sugar had dropped to 75 so I took a swig of regular soda and kept going. At the end after the cool down, it had dropped again to 67. That’s when I ate. I hadn’t had dinner so this was my chance to eat without feeling too guilty about it.

As I showered, cleaned and watched a little more television while Tweeting away, I was super-duper thirsty. I went to check myself and I was up at 247. “That’s why!” I thought to myself. My pump suggested about three units of insulin which I manually lowered because I knew that I might drop, and that was that.

As I drifted off to dream land, I had a peculiar dream. I was on the phone with a man who was having a heart attack. At the same time I was in a hospital, trembling and I thought to myself, “Am I feeling what this man is feeling?” I started to shake harder, which is when I opened my eyes. I was wide awake at 3:15 in the morning. As I got up, I was disoriented. I went to check my blood sugar. 37. I had dropped to 37. It was incredible. And there I went, turning on the TV, grabbing my box of Cap’n Crunch and watching a rerun of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, or whatever it’s called. If you look at my twitter account, you’ll see my comments at about 3:30.

There’s nothing worse that going back to bed after an episode like that. I checked myself again and I was already at 75. I was on my way up. In the morning I was at 209 with a dry mouth and headache. I got my insulin and went about my day. Let me tell you, my body has not caught up yet. Last meter check, I was at 120. With that Cap’n Crunch love affair, I can tell you that I might have eaten everything I burned off with my work out. How terrible is that?

If your blood sugar has never dropped, you wouldn’t understand. The feeling of passing out and not being able to get up when you live alone is horrendous! When I was struggling to get the tiny strip out of the bottle to check my blood sugar, I was sweating, shaking and kept thinking, what if I pass out? Who’s going to help me?

If your blood sugar is too low, that’s it. You die quicker from having a low blood sugar than a high one. Hypoglycemia, when your blood sugar drops below 60, can lead to seizure, coma and even death if not treated. Dying from high blood sugar takes a little more than 24 hours. You can now understand the fear of hypoglycemia to an extent.

There are different ways to solve this problem, obviously eating is one of them. It’s just the control that gets most people. You panic, feel like you’re starving and just want to get rid of that ugly feeling so you EAT! When I was younger, that was my chance to get at those Oreos.

But if, God forbid, you ever see someone pass out from hypoglycemia, what you’re supposed to do is rub either sugar or icing on the inside of the person’s cheek. It’s the quickest way to the blood stream. If there is a glucagon injection near by, you can also administer that.

Glucagon injections do not inject sugar into your system. Glucagon itself is a group of 29 amino acids that trigger your liver to release glucose so that your system is always at a balance. When people pass out, the injection, which is concentrated glucagon, tells your liver to release all its stored up glucose so that your body jolts itself back to normality. Crazy isn’t it? All these things you have to learn!

But there’s always a balance, right? Like eating a snack before bed, which I didn’t do because my sugar was already high. I didn’t want to be that high, so I took insulin for it. I guess this just goes to show that no matter how much you THINK you have this monster of diabetes in check, sometimes you don’t. Your body is still a body, doing things on its own. We’re not machines and we don’t work like clock work sometimes. That’s the reality of it.

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Filed under Diabetes, Food, Health, Personal, 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

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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Filed under Diabetes, Food, Health, Latinos, Treatments

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