Tag Archives: anger

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.

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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.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Health, Personal

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.

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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?

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Diabetes and Tech: We’re all Geeks.

Continuous Glucose Monitors hurt. Their needles are thicker than anything I’ve seen since I’ve been diagnosed—do you know how many needles that is? Thousands. Blood withdraw, injections, tetanus shots, vaccines, all included. Especially for the size of the object that you’re inserting into your body, the needle for the sensor couldn’t be any thicker.

I stopped using it because of that. It didn’t just hurt—it felt like I was stabbing myself. My poor soft, virgin-to-any-needle thighs endured the worst pain. Bruises, blood and brashness were included every time I changed the sensor. However, according to my doctor there are two types of CGM users in the world: Those that hate it and use it and those who hate it and don’t use it. I fall perfectly into a category—for the first time in my life.

And don’t get me wrong, the 45 degree insertion angle is all kinds of important and I did prop it at such an angle, but it still hurt!

One of the downsides I found to wearing a monitor was the scars. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of them already from insertion sites for my pump, but when I wore the CGM I had to worry about double the amount of scars and where to place both devices. Additionally, the amount of times I saw “Cal Error” come up was disturbing. So I just went back to checking my sugar with finger pricks.

I went back to using my good old-fashioned glucose meter that conveys readings to my pump. It’s not at all new, especially since I live by the motto: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  I’ve decided to downgrade just because of the fact that at this point in time, I don’t want to be literally tied down and monitored 24/7.

However, if you’re like me and have instances of hypoglycemia, the CGM can literally be a lifesaver. When you drop below a certain number, your pump or monitoring device will beep, vibrate or somehow call your attention so that you wake up and  treat the low before it’s too late. The CGM is programmed to keep you aware, and the more aware you are, the better it is for your diabetes management.

For those of you like me that don’t necessarily have a tracker of sorts, you can also use MySugr, a diabetes companion used to “tame your diabetes monster.” You put in everything manually, but it makes it fun and keeps you on your toes about the stuff that’s going into your system and the results that it portrays.

See, the thing here is, you can input your numbers (of all forms) and see your results tracked, allowing you to identify what you’re eating and how it’s impacting your body. This answer the question of the “if… then” scenario. You’ll start thinking, “If I eat this, then my blood sugar will be XXX,” allowing you for wiser choices on meals and carbohydrate intake.

There are other things that I use to monitor my activity—like the fitbit that I wear. That’s just one of the many devices that are currently being sold to play the pedometer role in a more high-tech and fancy way. It also shows that you’re “active.”

What’s the downside to wearing one of these? Charging it and forgetting not to put it back on. Additionally, you also have to be good about inputting your caloric intake, water intake and setting your fitbit to sleep mode. I mean, if you need something to make you active, are you really going to be adding in all that information? I know data geeks do it. Do you fall in that category? What ’bout the simple folks, like me? Will power I tell you.

I would like to wish from the app making gods, to create something that not only allows me to track my glucose levels and intakes, but also communicates with my smartphone, updating data so that I can look at it IRT. You know what that means? In Real Time—some marketing terminology I picked up. But instead of sitting there and unplugging in order to download all of my numbers, I could have them as they happen with stats and all! That would be cool. Someone get on that now.

Bottom line, we people with diabetes are all geeks. We love to nerd out to new technologies that can give us more data and tell us more information about our body’s performance. It’s quite literally looking at your body as if you were some kind of machine, or dare I say, cyborg. I actually like calling myself that. Geeky– I told you.

People with diabetes or PWD want to know more. I think it’s a sense that something went wrong within our bodies that we couldn’t control and by having control and understanding everything else, is not only necessary, but it also keeps us sane in a strange way. I mean, my life is run by numbers and sometimes that’s enough– especially when you burn out and become exhausted of always being “on top of it.” However, using technology helps us stay on it even when we don’t necessarily want to.

Additionally, we have the ideas of islet transplants– which create beta cells which create insulin– along with this far fetched notion of stem cells and the more we learn about it, the more we are excited that there may just be a cure of some sort. Trust me, when it comes to the ethics of some of these things, I find myself in a bind. I tend to be selfish and think of only myself when it comes to these things. I don’t know if anyone else thinks along these lines but I’m like, “I can be free!” Kind of like the genie in Aladdin. We can dream, can’t we?

Social media has also played a huge role for us. You’re probably reading this right BECAUSE you follow me on social. You saw this blog post on Twitter, right? Leave a note in the comments, please.

I digress. Social media has allowed for people to find those who are like them in various ways, not just also being a person living with diabetes. This includes people who live in the same city, like the same music, play the same games – all folks who have allowed for friendships to flourish and conferences fun to go to. Together, as a band of do-gooders, we have allowed for people to come to us with questions, comments and “I know EXACTLY how you feel” sentiments. We just want the dialogue to continue so that we know we’re never alone.

And that companionship, my friends, follows us all over the place through our technology, especially our smartphones. We are able to tweet, Facebook, Pin and Instagram from anywhere on the planet (that has Wi-Fi) and stay connected via microblogging and blog and information sharing has never been easier. Wherever my friends are, I can be right there with them, letting them know that, for example, TSA didn’t have to pat me down today at the airport. Those are #smallwins, but #wins in my book nonetheless.

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Filed under Diabetes, Health, technology

Sometimes Anger Creeps In

There are a lot of things that get to me. You could say that I’m a very emotional person, however you look at me. I have different experiences with diabetes; sometimes I’m fine, other times, I get very angry. In the past blog, I mentioned that my previous doctor loved diabetes. She told me to do what she said and she’d figure out the rest.

At one point, they put this CGM or continuous glucose monitor on me for a week. What it does is checks your blood sugar once every 5 minutes. It keeps all the data and then once the chip is connected to a computer, it shows you graph after graph and all the numbers. They do this to test how well you’re monitoring yourself; if you give yourself the right amount of insulin for the food you’re eating and check your own blood sugar. With the CGM, you can’t see the numbers, it’s just a little thing inserted into your side with a catheter. You don’t go over all of the results until you’re with your doctor the following week. It was a wake up call to say the least.

The monitor looked like this little shell on my side, taped to my hip. I had to record every thing I ate, my insulin in take, the time everything happened. The last day I had it on, I was going to make every effort to keep everything perfect, to show if you will, that I had learned something important. When I stopped for lunch, mind you, I hadn’t eaten anything that morning, my sugar was high. I didn’t expect it to go up at all, since all I had done was taken the train.

I got angry. They couldn’t tell me what had happened, I couldn’t tell me what happened and at the same time, I thought, why the hell do I even try?

The doctor even asked me if I had been scared or stressed between the time I left my house and the time I stopped for lunch. Let’s just say, I didn’t even want to eat after that.
That night, I went home feeling bad. How was I supposed to work with something that was going to do what it wanted anyway? It’s like when a kid does exactly what their parents say yet still doesn’t get that toy they’ve wanted because they didn’t do it the exact way mom said. I don’t even know if that makes any sense.

I ended up telling a friend about it, who clearly didn’t understand, basically making it my fault. Again, it was my fault for not taking care of myself, for doing things wrong and I got angry.
Why did I have to have this disorder? Why did my pancreas have to give out? Why is it that couldn’t be normal like everyone else? I don’t want to have to do this because like everything  else, it’s a lot of work.

But then The fighter in me came out and I said, no one else could fix this beside me. No one could know my body better than me, this body, susceptible to emotion and stress that has a great effect on the blood sugar and vise versa. When my blood sugar drops I get very touchy and emotional. When it goes up, I get sleepy and tired.

The reason why I write about this is because my new doctor wants to do it again. I’ve finally made the decision to get the pump, which is basically an external pancreas which is always attached and gives me a certain amount of insulin at a time throughout the day. This means no more shots. But the thought of having this thing put on me again makes me weary. Hopefully I’ve learned something and this time it won’t be so shocking.

I just have to keep reminding myself that I will continue to work hard for me for my family and for those who love me. I don’t want to lose my limbs, have a heart attack or die a premature death. I want to live as well as everyone else I know. And I will.

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Filed under Diabetes, Doctors, Personal, Stories