Category Archives: Treatments

How to Feel When A Product Actually Works

I’m getting married in less than a year. If there’s anything that comes along with the happiness and dread you feel planning a wedding, the pressure to look impeccable is also a burden to bear. “Aren’t you supposed to be on a diet for this wedding?” we’d see, commented on pictures of food on Facebook.

But when aren’t we pressured to look our best and be at our best, meanwhile hypocritically telling women to embrace their curves. Which is it?

On top of that, we live in a complexion focused society. It’s a nicer way of saying “racist,” I guess, but a way to drive home my point.

So, naturally, I’ve begun focusing on my appearance more and more as time goes by. I’m looking at my weight, watching what I’m eating, looking at the length of my hair, the whiteness of my teeth and the pores on my skin. On top of that, looking at my vitiligo.

I wish I could plan where the color was going to disappear from next, but I can’t. I wish I could at the very least, design my spots so that applying makeup wouldn’t be as complicated as it can be.

Before my sister went with my parents to Mexico, and before our engagement shoot, she took me to Sephora at JC Penny here at Ford City Mall. Though 7 years younger, she knows more about makeup than I do. She wanted to take me to get some new foundation, eyeliner and anything else I may need for the shoot. I sat down to try on foundations with my sister giving her opinions. I saw the makeup on my face, but didn’t see a difference between the brands. I wasn’t used to looking at that type of thing. Instead when I looked in the mirror, I looked at how the foundation looked on my spots. How much correction did it give me where I didn’t look out of place anymore. Was it going to color me in or make me all one color? Was this breathable makeup, or paint?

I had accepted the vitiligo some time ago, already. I’ve learned to laugh at myself as necessary, make it a point to talk about it instead of ignore it and understood that no matter how much makeup I may pile on my face, I wasn’t going to fully cover or erase my spots. And I was fine with that. Sure, I hated that I couldn’t tan and be darker anymore during the summer and that if I forgot sunscreen even for 30 minutes outside, something was going to burn. But it’s purely cosmetic.

About a month ago, I was on a group page on Facebook and came across a post from a young woman claiming that she was working with this great company that has figured out how to reverse vitiligo. I clicked on the link. I saw testimonials. That was the first thing I saw. A mother talking about how it helped her little girl; a young woman who developed it later in her life claiming this had helped her and a man talking about how he’s seen the effects of it. No complaints, obviously. The claim that it was all natural caught my eye as well.

I started to think about it. Should I reach out to this girl? Would I be able to talk to her and ask questions? I shared it with my mom and sister. “Do you know if it really works?” I didn’t know what to tell them other than I had seen the same testimonials they had. “What’s in it?” my mother asked. I didn’t know that either. I thought about it a little more. What’s the hurt in asking and trying? This is no more a part of me than was my full color 5 years ago.

I got in touch with the young woman and she was super excited to speak with me. We messaged back and forth and I told her I was a diabetes blogger and that I had written about both conditions in the past. I showed her posts where I spoke up about my vitiligo and where I had been an advocate for diabetes. She definitely wanted to get me on the phone.

I called her. She sounded young, first thing I noticed. We exchanged stories. She was also from Chicago, now living in LA. She said that everything she saw was so great. Yeah, I kind of know that. She liked it so much she shared it with the owner of the company and he wanted to talk to me, too.

A millionaire Latino with an accent, he explained how he got the best of the best together to try to find a “cure” of some sort for vitiligo. His primary priority is for children, so that they’re not teased or looked at differently, helping them young so that they can, I suppose, grow up “normally.”

You have to fix it from the inside out, they said, because it’s an autoimmune condition. The funny thing to me is that the owner mistakenly asks me if using insulin means you have “worsened” diabetes. No, I said. And I had to explain that whether or not you take insulin doesn’t mean your diabetes is worse. I was surprised that he wouldn’t have known that. He didn’t claim to be one of the doctors, I thought. Just the guy that orchestrated this whole thing.

Ok, I said, I’m interested in using this product. What’s in it? “There’s nothing in it that you can’t buy at the local GNC or Vitamin Shoppe,” he said. “It’s just the way that the ingredients are put together,” he concludes. Sure, I said.

I warned him of my cynicism. “Growing up with a condition that strangers think they have a cure to is the breeding ground for cynicism. I’m skeptical of a lot, too.” I figured I’d reinforce my feelings on the subject.

They were going to let me try it. “All we want is your testimony,” they said. That sounded fair. If anything, I could really write truthfully on the matter since this is something affecting my body. I suppose it’s also important to note that I didn’t talk to my doctor before taking this. They tell you that you should. But who does? When I received the bottles in the mail, I read the ingredients. When I understood, and could read every vitamin in the bottle, I stopped worrying about it and started taking the instructed tablespoon every morning before eating breakfast. One table spoon. That’s it.

I took pictures of all my spots so that I could later compare and see a change, see the difference that I had seen on the testimonials. If it helped those people, it could help me, too, right? I wasn’t buying into Jack’s magic beans because I believed the pictures. At least, I think I wanted to believe them. Taking this concoction of vitamins was like buying a lottery ticket for the Mega Millions. You know what I mean—for a minute you believe you have the ticket to making your dreams come true. That this time, you actually believe you have a winning ticket. If not the major jackpot, then enough to buy you a new house and save up for future inheritance. As you drive yourself home, you feel safe and secure, almost excited, because tonight you may actually find yourself having a heart attack from the shocking truth that you could be a multi-millionaire. That’s how I felt taking this vitamin shots (in liquid format).

Every day, I thought to myself, they told me it usually affects your face first. I didn’t see any changes on my face. I kept taking it. Every day, I took this pink, gooey liquid that smelled like cat food and looked like Italian salad dressing.

I haven’t taken any more pictures since the first time because I didn’t see a difference.

About two weeks ago, before leaving for Michigan for a weekend trip, I had come out of the shower and was going to brush my teeth. I wrapped the towel around my chest as I looked at myself in the foggy mirror. On my chest, directly under my chin I have a series of little white spots. I noticed that in two, little brown freckles were filling them in. My natural color was filling in on them and as I started to look at some others on my arms and shoulders, I noticed little freckles in a couple of them. There weren’t many freckles, at least not enough to touch or look filled in.

I showed my fiancé and my sister who both saw it and said, “Wow, it actually worked?” There’s a part of me that’s super excited to keep drinking this GoodbyeVitiligo, while there’s still some skepticism there. I don’t want to put my eggs all in one basket because I’ve never had this opportunity before. This is the first time something that people said would work, worked. It’s a small example so far, but for right now, I feel like one of those people in the testimonials.

I also want to be clear, that I decided to try this because 1. I could read every vitamin and had taken some of them already. 2. It wasn’t a lot to ask in exchange to try it. 3. If it didn’t work, I knew I would be OK.

I went in without any expectations. So, the fact that I see this little improvement is something astonishing for me. I would like to have my skin color back for the pure safety of it (I hate getting burned and I don’t always remember sunscreen) and quite honestly, I would appreciate going back to the way I looked. I know I’m not an ugly person regardless of my color and how much of it my face and body has. However, I would want it all back if I could have it.

I’m going to keep taking it. I want to see if this continues to work. If it does, I’d consider myself a very lucky woman. Not only would I gain my color back, but I would have strengthened my immune system in order to beat this condition. That, to me, is miraculous.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Diabetes, Health, Personal, Stories, Treatments

Hope? Is that the right word?

As much as we all want to believe there will be a cure for diabetes, especially Type 1, in our lifetime isn’t it still a reach?

Happy New Year to you, too.

For as long as I can remember, there has been plenty of talk regarding a cure, whether that was in the form of an artificial pancreas (which would help to manage diabetes as normally as possible) or the use of stem cell research to find a way to replenish the dead beta cells. A cure would be great but at this point, the fact that we all use insulin pumps (or something that’s technologically advanced) for insulin therapy and continuous glucose monitoring systems, it seems that an artificial pancreas would be much more plausible in our lifetime. A lot of the time, we know the cure isn’t coming, so we settle for the best that we can get.

But is it really settling? I guess that’s the most that we can do as people living with an autoimmune disease. I mean, had it been back in the 1800’s we all would have been dead by now. It’s not a morbid thought as much as it’s the truth. We are attempting to adhere to every single bit of technology so that our life is “normal,” and we don’t die from the inability to care for ourselves.

The more and more you hear about advancements in research, the more and more I ask, “So when are the trials happening?” and “When do we get to try some of this good stuff?” We’re like junkies looking for the next taste of hope in the form of a medical journal article. I even want to have all those different tests done to make sure that I do really have diabetes and not some crazy, unexplainable gene mutation that can be cured by taking a pill.

Now they tell us that they’ve successfully taken adult skin cells and converted them to fully functional pancreatic cells. What? You mean, the answer was in our skin all along? And can you actually replenish cells that have been that far gone from your pancreas? I just have a million and one questions and a lot of the times, no one can answer them or clarify them for me. You know why? Because that research is usually done on rats and nothing or nobody else.

I wonder if it’s an issue with funding or the fact that they realize this is impossible in humans. At this rate we’re going to be taken over by rodents because those garbage eating animals are all going to be cured of their diabetes. I’m wondering about the 370 million people worldwide who suffer from diabetes and more, those who are dying every day from diabetes complications. What about them? Why hasn’t anyone stepped up to actually find an answer to the problem?

I digress. This is a medical breakthrough. They always all are. My question is, when do we actually get to see how and if it can impact humans? Will it ever get to that point? Does this really actually mean anything for all of us who live every day with diabetes?

I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.

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Filed under Diabetes, Health, Insulin, Research, technology, Treatments

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

Off With The Pump!

My purple MinimedI know, I know. You must be thinking, how can this girl, the one who made up #WhereThePumpAreYou get off the pump? Right. Well, it’s called lack of funds and no insurance. That’s how.

Not for long, she says! I just got a new full-time job that will give me benefits starting in September. Whew! It’s been a while, Blue Cross and yes, I’ve missed you.

However, I must admit that getting off the pump has taught me a thing or two about diabetes. Especially that little shell-like thing called a continuous glucose monitoring system. Man, the fact that I’m checking myself more is a thorn in my side. And how did I ever go so long without knowing where my blood sugar level was?

Apparently, the average cell phone user checks their smart phone 150 times a day or more. Yeah, well, I beat that with checking my CGMS like 300 times a day. I was addicted to knowing my blood sugar and I’m currently going through withdrawal.

I’m gadget driven and I removed the most important one. Bah,  I say.

insulinAlthough, I must admit, it’s putting a lot of things into perspective for me. For instance, pro: I don’t have anything latched on to me. Right? Well then you have the con: I have to carry needles around and look like a drug addict (even though we are) in public.

Or how about this one. Pro: I can wear dresses without figuring out where to put the damn thing! Con: I’m worried about where my blood sugar will be in the next few hours and if the insulin I gave myself should have been in my arm instead of my thigh or in my abdomen instead of my… you get the picture.

Here’s another one for you. Pro: No attachment or holes made in my body. More like, giving the holes time to heal fully. Con: Checking myself more often means more strips. But get this! The nurse at Stroger Hospital (the county one) told me, “You don’t need to check yourself four times a day! You’ve had diabetes for more than 20 years! You know how you feel. Once a day is fine. Just eat sensibly and take your insulin.”

Umm… what? 

On that note, it took the full force of Zeus himself for me to bite my tongue. The parking meter for my car was also running and I didn’t want to get a ticket so… I just ignored the explanation of how I should check once a day but different times every day. Yeah, no. I need strips.

I find myself guessing sometimes now. Am I shaky or is that a result of my phone vibrating? This might be bad, but don’t worry! I’m ordering my Medtronic supplies as soon as I hit publish on this baby. I’ve also been checking more than once a day, so I’m all good.

I’m telling you though, I’m starting to be really weirded out by the fact that I could deal with myself before the pump and before I re-learned appropriate management of my disorder.

Ultimately, my beef is this. I know how bad this is because I’ve seen better. If there is anything that I’m doing with this week of being off the pump is examining how it is to live the life of so many people out there. Those without insurance, those with sub-par medical health professionals and those who have to live under a system that doesn’t care enough to give them the appropriate amount of strips to test at least three times a day!

So, after thinking about all of this, I wondered to myself, “What can I do?” I grew up with privilege of having parents who took care and educated me. They also had health insurance and provided the best care to my sister and I. I have seen the OK, the good and the best endocrinologists and I know what excellent healthcare looks like. I also know what crazy and no health care looks like and now I can compare.

Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I’m walking it and I’m learning. Now, the next step is figuring out how to educate, advocate, support and make a change in the system. Who’s with me?

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Filed under Diabetes, Health, Hospitals, Insulin, Treatments

Predicting the Drop

7752_10102548597861270_169164729_nI walked into Stroger Hospital today for a pump clinic meeting. Interestingly enough, I knew  a few people sitting in the room. The diabetic educator was one. The other was a representative from Medtronic, the company that manufactures my insulin pump and supplies. He taught me how to use my CGMS when I first got it. Then there were two endocrinologists whom I hadn’t met before. All were there for me.

They requested my purple Minimed and downloaded all of my data, enough to build a pretty solid profile of what kind of person with diabetes I am. It was intimidating, to say the least. On a giant screen before me lay all of my data: They knew when I took my pump off, when I ate, when I checked my blood sugar, when I had chaos in my life. They knew more about me than the people I talk to every day. I couldn’t hide anything from them, not that I wanted to.

They saw the chaos that I went through earlier this week, when three cannulas bent on me. It was horrendous. The thing about bent cannulas, which are basically mini catheters that deliver insulin under the skin, is that you don’t know their bent until your blood sugar is running in the 400s and no matter how many units you deliver it doesn’t drop. Then after checking everything twice over, the last resort is to pull out the infusion site to see if there was anything wrong there.

296129_10102548024375540_173358406_nCan you imagine doing that three times in a row? For two days, I felt like the sugar in my blood stream had turned to syrup and I was moving slower than a sloth. It didn’t stop me though. I still worked and when I lost all faith in technology, I decided to resort to shots. I’d never been so happy to use a syringe. Sanctification!

Anyway, I told them that story this morning and they saw it. So, we’re going to disregard that, they all concluded. After asking me to remember what happened earlier this week, what I ate and telling me to dive into technology, they had made subtle changes to my pump settings and told me to continue to track everything.

I had never been through a meeting like that, where I had, not one but four different people looking, examining and figuring out how I manage my diabetes. I had never done this before in my life. It seemed like a lot of work, but nonetheless, that’s what it’s there for– to know how you work and how your body works even better by just testing your blood sugar. Amazing.

Technology had once again piqued my interest. Regardless of the fact that I have this sensor on and that I have the pump on almost 24 hours a day, I had never thought about the wealth of data and collection of knowledge that this small thing was absorbing every minute of the day. It was a sponge and it told me more than my pancreas ever could.

With what they said, I would be able to predict low blood glucose, high blood glucose and in the end curve the spikes in blood sugar that make us feel so terrible. Isn’t that what we all want? To just feel good and feel “normal”?

Overall, the conversation was open and pleasant. I’ll be able to go back in September and hopefully this tracking system won’t be so overwhelming.

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Filed under Diabetes, Doctors, History, Hospitals, Treatments

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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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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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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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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Reality Check: How long is forever?

Today I decided to take a day off. I’m always doing something, always going somewhere, but today, I wanted to spend time at home, clean and go grocery shopping. It’s the simple things in life sometimes that make the rest worthwhile, right? It could also be that I needed a mental health day because yesterday I was so distracted and all over the place.

I walked into the fiscal department at work yesterday only to see Tish Parker in her corner. Tish and I met at our new employee orientation and since then she makes the effort to occasionally stop by my closet of an office to say hi, I return the gesture. I found out that she, too, is a writer although of the fictitious genre. When I walked in, she said hi, always greeting me with a beautiful smile and called me over. She pointed to my pump and asked what it was. Apparently her sister-in-law is also diabetic and uses a pump but she didn’t put two and two together until I explained it to her. She thought it was an MP3 player of some sort and I said, well, at least you didn’t think it was a throwback and call it a pager.

I started explaining how the pump is used and how it works to a point when she asked, “So it’s forever?” And when she said that, I didn’t know how to take it and said, “Well, I change it every three days, but yes, I’m most likely going to have to use it forever.” Which put my mind into a whirlwind. Forever.

Or until there’s a cure, but at this point, I feel that I will not live to see one. The fact of the matter is, I will be connected to this contraption for the rest of my life, something I didn’t fully wrap my head around until she said it. I knew I would have to take shots forever, that was easy to come by, yet thinking about it now, the pump does feel temporary although it isn’t. It’s forever.

It took me back to the day that I found out I was actually diabetic. My mom called me over to check my blood sugar, which at the time, I didn’t understand. I knew I had to do it because the doctors said so, but the significance behind it, I didn’t quite comprehend yet. We were about to have dinner when my mom pricked my pointer finger to squeeze out some blood. “Mom,” I said looking up at her, “am I going to have to do this for the rest of my life?” I think the question broke her heart.

What did that mean? FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. As a grew up, I looked into what the rest of my life was going to be like. It went something like this: Over time you will lose your eyesight, be at risk for cardiac problems, get amputations and die. Fun, huh? Well, everyone dies, right? I already knew that part. But dying prematurely is what gets everyone. As a diabetic, five years is already cut off my life span. So if I was going to live until 100, I’d die at 95. That’s cool. I’ll take it.

The issue is that throughout my younger years, no one told me straight out what being diabetic meant. No one explained the repercussions, the decisions I’d have to make, the consequences. It was just, “If you don’t stop…” or “If you don’t cut back…” Doctors didn’t try to make living with the disorder easier, they were just trying to make me stop living.

Now it’s, “If you don’t control…” or “If you don’t lower your A1c…” The same tactics that are used today were used with me back then, as a child. Awful. They scared me into being healthy, they didn’t teach me how it all worked. They were passing down the stresses of having a diabetic child to my parents who thought they had done something wrong. They didn’t try to expand on my forever, they scared me into thinking about forever and living a terrible, terrible life of pain agony and losing my legs. It was also the 90s. I’d like to think times have changed.

But yes, to my dismay, I’m going to be connected to this little purple machine for the rest of my life. At this point, I can only think of having something smaller but never not having anything at all. I see it as a benefit. We’ve transitioned from a pump that you had to carry around in a backpack to a little thing that looks like a pager. Brilliant. Let’s see where life leads us next. What does your FOREVER look like?

 

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