Being Healthy Isn’t Profitable

It’s been another long while since I’ve written, but I feel that it’s time to do so again. The time seemed right, so here I am.

A few months ago, I started thinking about how much money I spend on diabetic supplies a year. It’s well into the thousands and I thought to myself, “Wow, those girls at work don’t have to worry about this. They can save or spend that money on things.” I was a tad bit jealous, not only because I’m an Aries, but because well, they technically took home more of their money than I did. Mine went to life support.

Then, I went to see my doctor. Because I have high cholesterol and it runs in my family, my doctor has been talking about a pill. “No,” I say every time shaking my head side to side. “I’d rather try to lower it naturally than to take any medication.” See, the way I look at it, insulin is not medicine. Insulin is a necessary hormone needed to live. Without the hormone we die.

I don’t want to take medicine. It was a decision I made when I realized how much of in control I could be of my diabetes and I decided to take full ownership of my body. But how much more would I have had to pay every month for cholesterol medication?

If my body didn’t crazily decide that insulin was bad for it, I would still be making it myself. If it wasn’t for that, I’d be healthy, paying for maybe aspirin or cough syrup once in a great while as opposed to steadily paying about $300 a month for the rest of my life. It’s slightly jarring if you think about it.

Thousands of dollars for each person that  has Type 1 diabetes in this country. That’s millions in the pockets of these pharma companies who just so happen to be in charge of creating the “special serum” that keeps us alive. We live at the mercy of these companies! And this is just ONE of the many chronic illnesses that exist.

From cancer treatments to thyroid medications, if you’re sick, you got to pay. It’s going to keep you alive and well. Wouldn’t you pay to keep yourself alive, defying the entire theory of “Survival of the Fittest”? How much is your life worth?

The more you think about it, I don’t know if it necessarily gets depressing, but the truth of it all makes it dreary. And once again, I’m consumed with numbers and the handling of my life.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Diabetes, Doctors, Health, Insulin, Stories

Does diabetes really disable me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Health, Personal

Shameless About My Spots

This past year has brought a lot on me. Life doesn’t get any easier as you get older, you just get better at it. In the past few years, I’ve decided to take my health into my own hands and do the best I can with my body and what I put into it as well as how I treat it.

Most recently, I’ve decided not to be ashamed of my vitiligo. I decided to tell people that I had it and face the fact that no, it’s not a makeup malfunction– it’s a skin discoloration disease that again, I cannot control. Seems to be the story of my life.

It’s one thing to get sick due to some cause of your own and a completely different thing when you realize that you did nothing wrong to deserve what comes at you. And that the fact that you are “sick” is because your body decided to turn on you and kill its own cells. Lovely isn’t it?

I have become more comfortable in my own skin– like, really. There are days, like today, I go out without makeup because I didn’t feel like I needed it. It’s not to say that people don’t stare at me, because they do. Or I see them trying to look me straight in the eye instead of at my “spots” because they feel like somehow it’ll be offensive or because they’re uncomfortable. Mostly, they don’t look because it makes them uncomfortable and surprisingly I’m OK with that because it’s not my insecurities, it’s theirs.

I wonder what people would say if they really spoke their mind. You know, like those people who say, I could never give myself shots or check my blood sugar all the time– I don’t know how you do it. Well, you do it because you have to. I wonder how many people would say to me, “I don’t know what I’d do if I suddenly lost pigment in my skin and had to face the world as someone with two different colors on my skin.”

I wonder how many people would actually be ashamed. I mean, we knew that Michael Jackson was, since he sped up the whiteness and bleached his skin to level himself out– color wise. Apparently, Sammy Sosa has the same issue. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to be all white– translucent, mainly. I look at my brown skin and I love it because I always have. I always loved being tan and dark during the summer. Now, I look and still see my tan skin, but also see my spots– on my knuckles, on my feet, on my face, dots on my shoulders– and it doesn’t scare me. I don’t mind it anymore because that’s just what my body decided to do.

If anything, I’ve realized that there is a reason for everything. I shouldn’t fight it, especially because in the end, it’ll all turn out all right. One color or two, my soul is still complete and even more accepting and well-rounded than before. .

1 Comment

Filed under Health, Personal, Stories

#FML: That moment at the airport when you realize you left your insulin in the hotel fridge

Greetings!

Well, this is my week back from my tour of Spain. My family and I went in celebration of my 30th birthday. The big 3-0! Yeah, don’t ask me how I feel about that yet.

We toured the Spanish cities– Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona– and experienced the life of the Spanish, our conquistadores. Regardless, our trip during Semana Santa and were extremely pleased with the entire experience. If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve seen my photos over these past few weeks. Take a look.

My return to Granada was awesome. I remembered  everything as if I was there two years ago, not 10. We sat at the same restaurants we sat at, we drank the same beer I did and were able to hike up the mountain sides. My mom actually made it up to the Mirador de San Nicolas! I was extremely proud of her.

I didn’t want to leave, but alas, after three nights there, we were off to Barcelona to end our trip after another three nights there. We were flying up to Barcelona and had to leave extremely early in the morning. My sister and I packed our things together the night before, took showers, and were set to go. We woke up at 6am, had breakfast at 7am and were out the door and in the cab to the airport by 8.

Everything thus far was going smoothly and we were having a great time.

[If you’re Catholic, you’ll understand the transition.]

It wasn’t until we were in line to check our bags that I realized I had forgotten my three bottles of insulin in the hotel fridge. CRAP! And as I got that knowing look from my mother, and heard my dad ask how I could forget something so important, my stomach dropped. “I can buy it,” I told my mom. “When we get to Barcelona, I can go to the pharmacy.”

wpid-imag1727_1.jpgIt didn’t matter how many times I told myself it was going to be fine, I still felt so guilty. How did I forget it? Was it just a slip of the fact from my memory? Was everything else just too important for me to remember to take the insulin?

Regardless, as soon as I got through security, I told the TSA agent that I had forgotten my insulin at the hotel and if there was any way to call and see what we could arrange to get it back. The Guardia Civil, or the cops, took my mom and I back to the office where they called the hotel for us. We told them what happened and they asked if I could get a later flight or if I could wait to have the insulin by Tuesday.

The officer was reassuring, however, once we got off the phone and told them we would call them back to make arrangements. “She can go to the pharmacy and buy the insulin, that’s not a problem. If they need a prescription, you can go to the ER at the hospital and they’ll write it out for you,” he explained.

I still couldn’t get the thought out of my head; how could I be so stupid? We left and upon arriving in Barcelona, I went to the pharmacy where I could purchase rapid acting insulin pens for $54. When I got back to the hotel, my mother was relieved as were the hotel staff who heard about this accident.

I was saved. I kind of had to McGyver it still. I had a bit of insulin left in my pump (more than 24 hours worth). So what I did was slowed down the basal, which I had to do anyway after all the walking we were doing. I had woken up twice already from blood glucose in the 40s. Any time I would eat anything, I would inject it with the pens I bought.

My mother arranged to have the forgotten bottles sent to us in Barcelona. There were three, so I wasn’t going to leave them behind as wasted medication. And, if you don’t already know, this all worked out.

Waking up on Wednesday, I got a text from my mom saying that they just delivered the insulin and that they had it. Within two hours, I was low on insulin and everything was perfectly timed.

As much as I’d love to fly out the door without thinking about it, this reminded me that I had to– even on vacation. This isn’t the first time I forget something important, but the first time forgetting on an important trip and so much of it, was a first.

After having all the insulin, I wrote a note to myself to remember the insulin in the fridge, and also on my phone as did my sister. We were covered. What suggestions do you have? Has this ever happened to you?

2 Comments

Filed under Diabetes, Family, Health, Insulin, Travel

When Your Child Is Diagnosed With Diabetes…

Two of the most important people in any child’s life are parents. No one is going to dispute me on this, I hope. We can also add any parental figures to this as well.

They are your initial caretakers, guides, protectors, allies, sponsors—they are your world and you are theirs. They pick you up when you fall, they tell you that everything is going to be OK and they know that you’ll make it past your first bike crash, burn and flu.

Until something happens that can’t be reversed. This is more than a cold that will pass or a fever that will break. This is something that will forever change the way their child will look at the world and the way that they will consider their child’s needs. This will mean excellent health insurance and health care. This will mean a number of checkups and monitoring of daily activities, proper meals and emergency kits, always hoping for the best of days yet knowing that every day is different.

It will mean daily shots, finger pricks, carb counting, understanding what the child is going through and what’s more is the challenge when the child is too young to speak and cannot relay how he or she is feeling. Keeping track, finding patterns, relaying information to not only the doctors but also trying to explain what’s going on to the child, while worrying about everything else that comes with a family is trying and exhausting.

This is what happens when your child is diagnosed with diabetes. The world changes. Not only does the diagnosed child have to learn to manage the disease, so do the parents of that child. The meaning of “it takes a village to raise a child” becomes real and suddenly the life of the child is literally in their parents’ hands.

I was diagnosed at seven years old with Type 1 diabetes. I followed directions from my parents, found it funny when I would start to shake from hypoglycemia and made lowering my blood sugar a game to play every day. I could talk and could tell my mother how I felt. I also know that my mother was very sad at the time. I didn’t understand why, only because I didn’t understand what having diabetes really meant.

As I got older, my mother helped me to understand different aspects to my body and what happened to my pancreas but she could only guess due to the fact that it wasn’t happening in her body but in mine. At the age of 18, she told me to start going to the doctor by myself. From watching the way she talked and trusted in doctors of all kinds, I learned to do the same and ask questions about the tests and numbers they were constantly doing.

Sometimes I find myself thinking about myself and my future children—will they develop diabetes, too? Along with that, will they be born with it and diagnosed at months old as opposed to the way I was diagnosed? What would I do if that was the case?

I can’t imagine what my mother was going through. I don’t understand the feeling of having something “go wrong” in your child that you have to figure out and learn about and then manage. However, I have given both of my parents the props to do what they did and the help to guide me in the right direction. I give all parents a big congratulation for getting through any type of disease with their child.

I don’t know how I would be or what I would be doing without the help I received from my parents. They’re the ones who laid it all out for me and understood that I wasn’t going to let this get in my way and that all they needed was to be there to support me through it all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Family

Researchers Use Twitter To Determine Heart Attack Risk

I love Twitter. Besides all the conversations and the relationships I’ve built being on the platform, I love it because it’s opening itself up to new and more interesting developments that not just impact our social status but our future in so many capacities.

Sure, at some points it can be overrun with advertisements, Twitter chats, advertisements through Twitter chats, but in the end, I like it more than any other social network. Moving on, I’m sure you’ve all seen this already as it was picked up by the New York Times and now Fast Company: Your Tweets Can Tell if You’re Going To Have a Heart Attack.

LanguageWhen I saw that, I was appalled. Really? What is the reasoning behind this, I wondered. And then I thought, am I going to have a heart attack?

So I took to Penn News and read about the study that was done. Just so you know, this is a cross between psychology, computer and information science and engineering. They took the old-fashioned idea of surveys meant to measure the emotions and feelings of people and applied the theory to Twitter, drawing from the language chosen and emotional states of individuals.

Since coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, the five researchers (among them one woman) decided to see if they could show connections between emotional states and physical outcomes using Twitter.

Margaret Kern, an assistant professor and the University of Melbourne, Australia, was the one woman researcher:

“Psychological states have long been thought to have an effect on coronary heart disease,” said Kern. “For example, hostility and depression have been linked with heart disease at the individual level through biological effects. But negative emotions can also trigger behavioral and social responses; you are also more likely to drink, eat poorly and be isolated from other people which can indirectly lead to heart disease.”

So off they went, pulling a set of public tweets from 2009 to 2010, establishing “emotional dictionaries” and word clusters that showed behaviors and attitudes. The tweets sampled also came from those who allowed for geo-tagging of their tweets, coming from “1,300 counties which hold 88 percent of the country’s population.”

What they found was that if people are more prone to writing expletives and are angry in their tweets, they are CDC Twitter Mapencircled by a community full of anger, which may make them prone to dying from heart disease. Whereas using positive words protected individuals from heart disease. They seemed to find a high-level, long-term communal characteristic.

What if my life actually sucks but I like to play the fact that I’m careless and fancy free and happy on social? Well, they found that it varied from location to location– down to the zip code.

Gregory Park is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Psychology:

“Twitter seems to capture a lot of the same information that you get from health and demographic indicators,” Park said, “but it also adds something extra. So predictions from Twitter can actually be more accurate than using a set of traditional variables.”

When lined up with the CDC’s map of heart disease happenings, what this team of researchers found was that it was surprisingly accurate in the end. How cool is that? The innovation of thought process is incredible. Does this mean that the rate of diabetes can also be determined since it is closely tied to heart-disease? I wonder.

I wonder what people would be able to tell from Facebook statuses?

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Research

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Complications, Culture, Food, Health

Research Study: How Does Diabetes Affect Sleep?

Hi again and happy New Year!

It’s 2015…already. This year brings a lot of different things, like turning 30 and rethinking my life plan.

However, this is not what this blog post is about. I’m actually glad I’m getting something out in January, to tell you the truth. I’ve been busy– working, curating art, eating cleanly, working out, managing diabetes– you know the drill.

No, this blog post is about something that I went through in November of last year, the same week as World Diabetes Day. A friend told me about a research study that was happening at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The study was to observe people with Type 1 diabetes and the relationship of diabetes to sleep and cardiovascular disease.

How intense! But being the person with diabetes that I am, and a health enthusiast, you know I wanted to know more. That’s when I called Sarah. She’s a nursing student studying to get her PhD. This was part of her dissertation.

The way I understood this, when she told me, was that cardiovascular disease and diabetes are linked. If you have diabetes, either type, you have a higher risk for heart disease. This is something we know, because they tell us– over and over again. On the flip side, if you don’t sleep well you are also at risk for heart disease and diabetes. among other things.

Got that? OK.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ve had hypoglycemic episodes in the middle of the night causing you to get up, cursing the extra exercise you did or the fact that you didn’t eat enough. We’ve all been there. I’ve also had to get up repeatedly in the middle of the night to pee because of hyperglycemia. Again, disturbed sleep patterns.

Could this be an added reason as to why we are more at risk for heart disease? Because, face it, sometimes sleep is ridiculously uncontrollable like a bad day in Diabetes-land.

The aggregation of information from my body lasted three days. I went in to UIC, met Sarah, who was really cool, and chatted with her about diabetes and her studies while I filled out forms about my sleeping behavior. I think I’m a pretty good sleeper, you know?

She put me on a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to track my blood sugars for a couple of days and then I had to spend the night at the sleep center while they monitored everything from my blood sugar to my urine to, of course, my sleep.

IMAG0666Surprisingly, my room looked like a little hotel, with an individual bathroom and a television. But of course, next to the bed sat the sleep monitors that tracked everything my brain was doing while I snored away.

The stay wasn’t bad. While I was being hooked up for monitoring, I talked to Sarah and the other sleep nurse (who was also named Sarah) about travels, books and experiences with hair during sleep studies. The glue they use to stick to your scalp is extra sticky, so there was a way the nurse lined it up making it easier to remove in the shower.

The multicolored wires were strapped and stuck to different parts of my body that included my legs, neck and head, along with a breathing monitor up my nose.

Additionally, there was another larger remote control looking thing that laid by my side instead of a teddy bear. It kept me company; I can’t complain.

IMAG0667Sarah left me while I laid in the dark, couldn’t see anything since I had taken my glasses off and (not lying) kind of wanted to sleep so that I could wake up and get it over with. I went through exercises with the nurse over the intercom and the only thing I could think about was, ‘What happens if I have to pee?’ They assured me however, that all I would have to do was yelp.

So there I was, laying in the dark, calming myself to go to sleep and I started thinking about this blog post and how what I was doing was important for the future of medicine. Along the process, Sarah took tubes of blood out of me at least three times. One of those tubes would go to research for the future of diabetes– in case they found anything unique or abnormal — but would only be tied to age, race and sex.

If those of us who have diabetes under control participate in these studies, sleep or otherwise, we could help the future of endocrinology. Think about it: we’ve had it for enough time that we’re use to it already. What if these studies lead to a cure in the not-too-far-distant future?

The next morning, I went off to do my daily routine, and said good-bye and thanked Sarah. And yes, there was compensation for the time and sleep over.

I left feeling like I did something for the future of diabetes. Whether or not that’s true, I’ll probably never know. But knowing that I was helping Sarah was satisfying enough. By the way, I commend Sarah for her efforts in learning about diabetes. She went through the steps that we went through to learn and put herself in our positions. She tried checking her blood sugar daily (with expired strips no less), she wore a CGM and she even drew her own blood! When she told me that, I was appalled.

There was no pity from her. If anything, she wanted to learn and help. And after the countless times I’ve heard, “I would never be able to do that,” here’s someone with so much interest and no need that she actually tried it and survived.

How about that?

Leave a comment

Filed under Diabetes, Health

Gobble.Gobble. The 5 Things I’m Most Grateful For This Year.

I could have said 10. I feel like 5 was just the right amount though.

Every year I write a blog about diabetes and Thanksgiving, or so it seems. I feel like we all do. We talk about diet and eating, bolusing and carbohydrate counting. I’ve written about the things that Diabetes has given me years ago but I’ve never written about the things I’m grateful for because I have diabetes.

So here we go.

1. I’m grateful that people want to know my story. 

In the past few years, including this year, I’ve had people ask me for an interview because of my advocacy and activism online. I’ve been featured in Sanofi’s Discuss Diabetes blog and most recently, I’ve been on La Bloga as a featured interview. I find it extremely interesting that because of my blogs like this or tweets that I put out there for the world to see, I’m contacted. On one hand, I want to tell stories that aren’t normally told (in my case, the Diabetes-Latina-Female version of things) but I also don’t want to be the only one and at times am sad that it seems that I am.

2. I’m grateful that I have a great job with health benefits.

When the world spends $245 billion on diabetes, you have to wonder if there’s anyone helping the world out. At times, I battle this only because when I didn’t have health insurance, I was getting by. However, now that everyone MUST have health insurance, I’m glad I’m getting it through my job and not having to pay for it on my own. There is something sacred about this whole health insurance thing. We are grateful to have it, yet it’s the epitome of capitalism-at-work. We still put so much into having insurance that at times I wonder if the pay out is what I get out of it. I still have to pay when I go see the doctor because well, since it’s up to the hospital, they over extend their value. I went to a specialist recently and hey, I have insurance, I pay a $40 co-pay to see you and she quite literally walked in, spoke for about 15 seconds and left her interns or residents to do the rest. No asking how I am or how I’m feeling– she just told me her recommendation and that was it.

I still have to pay out of pocket for things like pump supplies, insulin, strips– I have to pay over $100 for both of those together. Why? If you have insurance, your prices go up. If you don’t, they’re cheaper. How much sense does that make? Regardless, I’m grateful that if anything should happen, I’m covered. Hopefully.

1496676_10104335075356050_7380396918683718610_n3. I’m grateful for all the people who have supported me through pictures, questions, chats and talks. 

World Diabetes Day 14 was the best. I was all in blue and got my friends and family members to wear blue, too and send me a picture in support and awareness for Diabetes. I was so humbled to see people actually do this for me and those they love. It’s not just about helping to cure those who are ill but it’s about helping to educate those who need the education.

All of my friends and family pictured here, knows what it means to me to have their support. They’ve been with me in the hard times, have read my blogs, supported me in my efforts, asked me questions and pushed me to be the best advocate I can be. They make my work within this space, my awareness-building worth it.

To these incredible people, I say THANK YOU!

4. I’m grateful that I live in a world class city. 

Chicago is known for so many things, including its hospitals, doctors, research and resources. This ties in to having insurance– because of insurance, I’m able to take advantage of all of these things in order to take care of myself and to make sure I’m in good health. Chicago has my heart as my birthplace, my city, my representation of what home is. I don’t ever want to leave, but it’s also because I don’t have to. I hear from other people about the challenges they face in finding doctors, where here in Chicago, I’ve seen one who’s world-renowned, and the other who is one of the best in the region. Researchers, studies, the forefront of medicine and what can be possible– it’s all right here. I’m lucky to have it.

5. I’m grateful for my parents. 

Whether they were afraid to let me go to college or move out of the house, they never stopped me from doing anything. My parents, as a team, taught me how to take care of myself and trusted me to take care of myself when it came time. My mother never sat on me about my A1c after I was 18 years old. Instead I told her about my visits to the doctor and how I planned to make it all better by myself. My dad would charge me with sports and exercise, being my coach in order to get my blood sugar down as I was growing up. Now I tell him about the technology and the numbers and how I see things changing and improving in my health. They have always been my support, have been there to hear me vent, have made it possible for me to take care of myself and definitely set me on the right path. I’m always grateful for my parents, but in this sense, I couldn’t have asked for a better team to handle this life changing disease.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Health

Write Right about Diabetes

There are a few things that irk me about articles that I see written about diabetes.

Where to begin? Well, let’s give you my credentials and my “right” to be upset about this. I’m not really upset as much as I am just bothered. I’m sure these articles have great information, however, when you’re writing wrong about something I know so well about, I stop reading.

So, here are my credentials.

  • Person with Type 1 diabetes since the age of 7, which is approximately 23 years.
  • Diagnosed as having juvenile diabetes or diabetes mellitus.
  • Journalist with an M.S. in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Reporter for 3 years.
  • Professional writer since 2008.
  • Editor for 2 years.
  • Freelancer since 2007.
  • Blogger since 2011.

So accuracy, writing and creating well-rounded pieces on diabetes is kind of second nature to me. I’m not bragging, since these pieces of information can be found on my bios, on Facebook, Twitter and numerous other outlets. I’m literally showing you why I’m going to complain about this in a second.

It’s November, which means it’s National Diabetes Awareness Month and an array of diabetes articles have been published left and right about things that the DOC, or diabetes online community, have known about for years. YEARS.

I saw an article recently about how medical professionals are now calling diabetes an epidemic. However, this term didn’t just start this year. Diabetes has carried epidemic traits for a long time. People are just noticing now.

So here’s my list of things to do should you decide to take on the mission of writing about diabetes:

  • We are people with diabetes, or PWDs. We are not diabetics. Since diabetic is an adjective for objects, it doesn’t necessarily apply to people. We are not things. Take a gander:
    • People with diabetes have diabetic supplies.
    • Diabetic comas, diabetic ketoacidosis, diabetic socks
  • This disease is not foreign to the world. Don’t write like it’s foreign and don’t write about it like it’s something that people have never heard of.
    • Write to educate the community. If you’re talking about new technology, write like you’re excited about it, not like it’s an alien species.
    • Put forth credible information that explains when statistics were collected and who is collecting them.
    • Don’t trust the first thing you read. Please.
  • Get to know the community. We’re here! And we’re not curing our diseases any time soon.
    • Find us on Twitter, join groups on Facebook, ask questions and get real answers.
  • Yes, there are four types of diabetes and none of them is “worse” than another. They’re generally all the same.
    • BUT there are various strains of the disease. Yep. There are ALL DIFFERENT TYPES!

I don’t want to discourage people from writing about it. It’s a nice challenge for a lot of people, including myself. When I wrote about the epidemic and all the different types for a publication, I realized just how difficult it was to write a piece for the general population, that’s full of myths, fake cures and, quite frankly, lies. It’s a full on effort to set people straight about all the things that revolve around the disease and having the disease. Sometimes, it’s overbearing.

Try living with it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Diabetes, Health, Stories