Category Archives: 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

Pump up the insulin!

Beryl Larson and I at the Diabetic Treatment Center

It’s been about a month now since I’ve gotten my purple Minimed and I can’t say I loved it from the start. Like anything, it takes a lot of getting used to and sheesh, the first time I had it on was a nightmare.

I didn’t expect it to be as nerve-wrecking as it was. I’m a patient at Mercy Hospital in Chicago and the diabetic nurse who’s been helping me through this whole process is Beryl Larson. She’s a great woman; patient, understanding and encouraging. Anyway, I got it put in on Nov. 20. Beryl and my doctor, Dr. Uy, told me not to take insulin the night before.

Let’s step back a minute so you can possibly understand what I was going through. If you’re diabetic, you will. So before the pump, I was taking two types of insulin. The first, that I would take in the morning and in the evening before bed, was called Lantus. This insulin is a slow-acting insulin. You take it, most of the time, once and it slows the rate of glucose that your liver produces. Because, yes, your liver produces glucose (or sugar). Now, take another step back and look at it from a “normal” experience.

Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin (which is what I was taking through injection). The hormone allows for your cells to use the food you eat and convert it into energy. When your pancreas makes too much insulin, your liver intervenes and makes glucose, so it balances your body out. Unlike diabetics who have to calculate everything, in “normal” bodies everything is taken care of. The cause behind why sometimes “normal” people feel weak or shaky is due to too much insulin and not enough food or sugar. See? Easy as pie!

Now let’s go back to my insulins. The Lantus is slow-acting and does not peak, which means using it will result in less cases of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and would work throughout the day, up to 26 hours in my body. Humolog, is a fast-acting insulin and started working a half hour after taking it. I would take this when I ate to compensate for all the carbohydrates and food I was eating. I was acting as my own pancreas, which is weird and takes a lot of time and practice.

The Purple Minimed. Should I name it?

Basically, after all of that, I wanted to explain just how often I was on insulin (all the time!) and what it was like not to have it. Since I was used to taking Lantus the night before to help me out while I slept (my blood sugars used to run really high at night for some reason and result in a high blood sugar in the morning) my sugar was running on the high side. I didn’t have any insulin at all running through me.

I showed up at the hospital and I went through the whole process of changing and putting on the pump myself. Then we started it as the doctor had prescribed. Two units every hour, one unit for every 12 carbohydrates that I ate and that was it. Now, instead of taking two insulins, I am now only using one called Apidra. This insulin is another rapid acting insulin like Humolog, except that it works in half the time (15 min) after injection.

After starting up my little purple pump, I went to eat breakfast. I counted out my carbs and gave myself the appropriate dose, which by the way, the pump calculates for you. No more counting out unit to carbohydrate ratios! I then walked around the hospital and I could feel my blood sugar going up. This is when I begin to freak out.

I checked my blood sugar and it had gone up to the 300 range. A half our later it went up to the 400 range. Now, since I was used to just giving myself injections to control this up and down thing, that’s all I wanted to do. When you see yourself hitting those numbers, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Holy hell! Where’s my insulin pen!” The feeling is horrendous. I start getting headaches, my mouth goes try, I have to start peeing every 10 minutes and I get nervous. Mind you, the stress only adds to all of this.

So Beryl calls Dr. Uy. Dr. Uy says to just wait the two and a half hours for the insulin to be fully working. Beryl also reminded me that technically my body was catching up from the lack of insulin those hours before. After about five hours from when we first arrived, my blood sugar dropped to 245. Although it was high, I was never so happy to see a number like that before. “Ok, good,” said Beryl. “It’s dropping.”

From there on, I downloaded an app for my phone that allows me to keep track of carbs, medication, blood sugar readings and basically anything else I want. I’ve been back to see Dr. Uy and she changed my doses from what I started off with, which, I have to say, have worked a lot better.

From midnight to 9 a.m. I’m on a 1.7 unit basal rate.
From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. I’m on a 2.0 unit basal rate.
And from 7 p.m. to midnight, I’m on a 2.1 basal rate.
I’m on a 12:1 carb ratio with a sensitivity of 40. Although I’m not always between 100-110, I may be at 120 or somewhere in the 90s which is exciting to see.

After getting used to it, I feel like I’m now at a new point of taking care of my diabetes and using this new (ok, new to me, old to a lot of other folks) is awesome.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

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

The Stresses of being Diabetic

Waiting is a dangerous and trying game. Talk about stress.

It’s interesting how stress impacts the blood sugar. On top of your body creating more sugar in your system, you’re also making everything else react, making your heart rate go up, giving you headaches and the like. But really, someone should answer the question: what does stress have to do with blood sugar? A lot.

According to the American Diabetes Association website, stress can impact a person two ways: first, by causing someone to drink, neglect checking their blood sugar or having no time for exercise, which will impact (of course) the blood sugar. Secondly, it can impact blood sugar directly because of the hormones that your body produces.

“Their net effect is to make a lot of stored energy — glucose and fat — available to cells. These cells are then primed to help the body get away from danger,” it states, especially when dealing with the fight-or-flight feeling.

Hell, if you don’t know what this is like, you’re one lucky person. As for me, well, I’m not so lucky. When I get sick, I get really sick. On Monday, I woke up throwing up. No fever, no cramps, just the fact that my stomach did not want to keep anything down was the problem. Not to mention, I lost eight pounds from those two days of not eating. Mind you, it was all water weight, but what does that tell you? Extreme dehydration. I’m still drinking as much water as I can now without bursting and it’s my second day relatively ok. But there’s one little problem: My blood sugars are still not regulated. With as much appropriate insulin I take for what I’m eating, my sugars are still in the mid-200s. And what does that do? It makes me worry and it makes me drink more water.

I freak out. How can I give myself enough insulin so that it puts me in the right position but doesn’t make me drop to a dangerously low level? And then, what can I eat that won’t make it spike? I just got over throwing up my intestines, so I don’t necessarily want anything heavy and rice is the best thing for someone who has been sick. That along with bread. So what do you do? Just thinking about it all gives me a headache, another sign of stress. Not to mention that I always have a lot going on in my life.

But this is what happens in the body, and of course, for people with Type 2 diabetes, cutting the stress also alleviates the problem with high blood sugars. In Type 1, it just doesn’t matter. Go figure.

There are many ways to conquer this though. Breathing, exercises and changing your lifestyle are your top three ways. Talk things out, make sure to get things off your chest because the hardest thing to get away from is yourself, right? So what happens when you have mental stress?! BAH! Sometimes, it’s hard to win, but not impossible.

So now, as I triumph over the evils of this disorder, I invite you to join in with me and say, “I can do this with one deep breath and plenty of vitamins!”

If you did it with me, leave me a comment and let me know. I need things like that sometimes.

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Filed under Diabetes, Health, Insulin, Personal, Stories, Treatments

You don’t know what you have until…

When I talk to people who have Type 2 diabetes, I always wonder what goes through their head. Do they know that they can be rid of it? That it was preventable? Do they not realize that choosing not to take care of their medical condition is basically like suicide? That it’s a selfish act and to think they don’t affect anyone besides themselves is a skewed view of things?

I suppose that the benefit that I have, when it comes to diabetes, is learning about the disorders and realizing that getting rid of Type 2 diabetes should be everyone’s goal. I wish there was an option to get rid of Type 1 except, it wouldn’t be getting rid of, as much as it is making your pancreas work again.

Some say that going to Natural healers is the way to go and was the answer to curing Type 1. I can’t lie, I’m very skeptical about it, but I wouldn’t mind trying it out to see just what it is they give me and what it is they tell me to do. It’s not even something I could fathom right now. Not at all. It’s so abstract that wrapping my head around the idea is hard. Can mixing something into my juice every morning jumpstart my pancreas?

But to hear about people who won’t change their lifestyle, can’t change their habits and don’t bother to help themselves, is really upsetting. There have been plenty of stories about people who get rid of it. They come to understand that all they have to do is eat better and lose weight and they do it. Why? Because it’s possible to reverse the effects of Type 2 diabetes.

I have to worry about blindness, cardiac disease, nerve damage, periodontal disease and premature death even if I take care if myself! How fair is that? People with Type 2 diabetes can lose weight and eat right and not have to worry about all those problems if they keep watching out for themselves.

I inject myself about 5 times a day. I prick my fingers so much and so often that I have calluses on my finger tips and I can’t really feel anything because of it. I’m in the process of getting the insulin pump and I wouldn’t mind having a continuous glucose monitor, either. I wouldn’t have to poke and prick that often.

Actually, it will be something like once in 3 days. That’s exciting to me. Knowing personally that some Type 2 diabetics, some can’t even keep up with a pill nor can they keep up with checking their blood sugar 3 times a day. I have always made my point of view known, saying things like, “Do you know what I have to go through everyday? All you have to do is pop a pill! I wish that’s all I had to do.”

And really, that’s just the beginning. You might get dropped off of your insurance for not taking care of yourself. I always, always, always worry about my insurance coverage in the back of my head. How will I pay for everything? It’s expensive to be sick in this day and age. A Type 2 diabetic can change that. It might be a bit more complicated, but hell, you can fix it.

I’m lucky, I am. For all the reasons I’ve mentioned before, I’m lucky; for my health for my mind, for my support system. And I’m thankful.

 

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

It’s a No Go.

I woke up early this morning a tad bit nervous, to say the least. I had to do a lot before noon. A phone meeting, going to the bank, a doctor appointment. No, not a doctor, a nutritionist. A dietician if you will. I literally prepared for this appointment. Had my blood sugars listed and ready, had my machine, had my fear. What was this going to bring? Was this lady going to be like my new endocrinologist or would she be nicer?

My mind started to wander about in different places. I ended up canceling the phone meeting, not going to the bank and taking deep breaths to prepare my mind. What was going to come of this meeting?

I got to the hospital on time. It was the fact that I had to wander through the winding maze of the hospital, find where to check in and all that hot jazz that made me late. They were nice about it. Also, I was in the elevator with the dietician.

As I checked in, I believe the receptionist felt I was nervous. Not too sure though. I sat down and sure enough, the dietician came to get me with her student shadow (like those residents I despise) but I actually liked her. When we first got to talking, she explained to me that getting the pump was not going to solve all of my problems. I knew that right off the bat. She asked me questions about meals, diet and what I knew about carb counting, which is just taking the proper amount of insulin for the grams of carbohydrates consumed.

The one situation that I did have a question about was my carb ratio. I asked about this because when I took the right amount of insulin, sometimes it wouldn’t bring my sugar down after a meal. My carb to insulin ration was 1:15 meaning one unit of insulin for every 15 grams of carbohydrates. They told me to change it to 1:12 and see what would happen with that. Keeping track, even if it’s in your head, is very important. I realize that only I will know what’s going on and how it all works, even if it’s just from memory, remember to always ask questions.

After we settled everything and I explained what I did in certain situations, she thought that I was right on track. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and doing it right. Rock on! The fact that I used my problem solving skills to balance myself out also played an important role in her decision to agree on an insulin pump for me.

I wasn’t ready for one before since I had just begun learning about how to take care of myself “manually” if you will. When the diabetic nurse came in she said I was exactly the kind of person that should be on a pump since I was doing everything that it entailed anyway. She said it would save me a lot of poking since I take insulin through injection. The bruises and marks sometimes are ghastly (I just really wanted to use that word).

The pump is a small beeper-sized device that is connected to my side with a catheter which is changed every three days. The insulin goes in and I set it up for the amount I’m supposed to get and when. It also remembers the previous amounts and calculates carb intake as well as anything else I program into it. I’m also supposed to be trying out these classes online to see what it’s all about even before I get my hands on an actual pump. Of course, there’s always the question of insurance, which is scary, but for now, I’ll take a deep breath.

When it came down to it, the nurse explained the Medtronic pump to me, with a basic explanation of how it worked with pictures and an example pump. I didn’t have to be put on the CGM again, which was cool. But the visit only inspired me to do more and continue on with my good habits, finding ways to control my diabetes even more.

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Filed under Diabetes, Doctors, Hospitals, Insulin, Personal, Stories, Treatments