Tag Archives: diabetes management

No Awareness Needed

Can I just say that I didn’t know it was National Diabetes Month?

I mean, I knew it but I thought it was diabetes AWARENESS month. I guess now that diabetes isn’t a rarity, there needs to be more acknowledgement of the illness and not so much awareness building. I once wrote a blog about how it wasn’t a six-degrees of separation as much as it was one degree. It seems like everyone knows someone with diabetes nowadays.

When I was first diagnosed, I remember people giving me apples and fruit on Halloween. That was no fun. I preferred arts and crafts instead. I also had kids thinking that I was contagious, that I was privileged (since I could go to the bathroom any time I needed to) and that I was teacher’s pet. She bought sugar free candies for me that the kids thought were special. Yes, I AM special.

I had other kids try to steal my glucose tablets in school. “Why do you get candy?” “Why do you have a can of Coke in your locker?” “Why do you have sandwich crackers?” At that time, all I knew is that if I ever felt shaky, I would have to eat that stuff. It never happened. At the end of the year, I’d throw out stale crackers and hot cans of Coke. I cannot remember my blood sugar ever dropping when I was in grammar school.

I think back on growing up with diabetes and I laugh. Not because it’s funny, but because the way of thinking about diabetes was so old school, for lack of better terminology. It was very limiting and in fact, may have been easier to manage with all those restrictions. Now that doctors tell you that you’re not limited and you have to count carbs the freedom is cool to have but at the same time makes it more difficult to keep in check, that is unless you restrict your own diet from things you know you shouldn’t be eating.

In the end, you realize what your body is made for– veggies. Lots of them. Food becomes more complicated with freedom. As opposed to “normal bodies” we have to consider what’s being consumed all the time. As a person with diabetes, you realize what exactly is healthy for your body because you see the repercussions of eating crapola or something that you didn’t realize would affect you so negatively.

You know how they say, you are what you eat? It’s more true for people with diabetes. We eat too much sugar and even though we take insulin we slump. It’s terrible. You feel slow, sleepy, fat, cranky and full of regret. You’d think knowing this would stop us from indulging– nope. It happens.

This month, I plan on writing a lot. I want to definitely add to this blog since I haven’t been in quite some time and hopefully get into a groove with it all. Since I’m not bringing “Awareness” to anyone anymore, I’ll just tell you what it’s like to live with this little thing called Type 1. 

Here’s to National Diabetes Month! Happy November!  

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Filed under Diabetes, Stories

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

The Top 5 Diabetic Myths

NO! That will NOT cure your Type 2 diabetes!

Sorry, just letting out my frustration with someone who sent me a message regarding “essential oils” that will “cure” diabetes. I. Wish.

In my timememe-32, I’ve heard a variety of different things from people who are dia-ignorant. That’s right; they’re ignorant about anything pertaining to diabetes. What’s more, what I found is that we people with Type 1 diabetes get discriminated against when we tell people we have diabetes.

“You’re so young!” “You’re not fat.” “You seem healthy.”

Yeah, well, I am young, I’m not fat and I AM healthy! And I have diabetes! Any more judgments you’d like to throw my way?

I don’t say that out loud. In fact, I just laugh at it. But trust me, I’ve wanted to say those things.

I’ve decided to choose a few myths from the top ones I’ve heard from different experiences and people. Let me know what others you know about. I like to be aware.

1. Why those essential oils, weird teas or any Mexican concoction will not “cure” diabetes.

Look. Any way you look at it, nothing will “cure” diabetes. Once you have it, you’ll always have it. You can make it better and even put it into remission, like cancer. However, once it’s developed in your system, it will always be there.

There are things that will make it better like, diet, exercise, particular medications prescribed by your doctor and making conscious decisions about what you’re putting into your body.

And for the love of Pete, don’t STOP taking your medications if you see something is working really well for you, unless you discuss it with your physician.

In the Latino world, we like to do things naturally– me included. I hate thinking that I’m going to have to take cholesterol pills or anything of the sort, so I try not to get to that point by deciding what I’m putting into my body. BUT I still have to take my insulin. I know a lot of people who think they can be cured by teas or other liquid concoctions.

“She drank that and she doesn’t take her medication anymore.” Why? Because she chose to stop? See, that’s not right and can cause more harm than good. Monitoring, eating good foods and talking to your doctor are the ways to put that bad boy down.

2. You eat a lot of sugar, you get diabetes. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The actual CAUSE for diabetes is unknown. However, research has found that it diabetes-here-i-come_o_1552291is hereditary and runs in the blood line. Diabetes develops over time at the cellular level. You eating a ton of candy will not develop diabetes because if you’re healthy and “normal” your body will create the insulin necessary to break down the glucose that you consume.

If you’re eating unhealthy food over time for a long time, there is a possibility of developing diabetes but there is no set of rules stating “If you do this… then you will develop diabetes.” And for people with Type 1 diabetes, this is completely thrown out the window.

Nothing that a person with Type 1 did CAUSED diabetes. In our bodies, our immune system attacked beta-making insulin cells, so we can no longer produce the hormone. That’s it. Because of our insulin therapy, however, we should still watch what we eat, but not be limited because– well, we’re injecting the hormone that your body has.

3. Diabetes is a death sentence. Might as well put me on dialysis now. 

WRONG. If that were the case… oh woe is me! If you’re diagnosed at an older age with diabetes, it might feel like a death sentence because it comes with a lifestyle change if you want to live healthily. Knowing that you can save yourself from infections, kidney failure, heart disease, amputations, erectile dysfunction, would you want to do that instead of sit there and wait for complications?

Diabetes is managed by your lifestyle choices. It takes determination and will power and change. For many people who are stuck in their ways, that’s the hardest part. Throwing out the bad stuff, eating the good and going for walks or bike rides can be enjoyable and you’ll feel better.

This is why I call Type 2 diabetes a disorder. It’s because something just went awry in your body, but you can help to fix it. It takes education. Plus, if you are a father, mother, daughter, son, sister or brother, there are people who care for you and love you. If you don’t take your health seriously for yourself and your desire to make things better, then do it for your family. It’s hard– yes– but it’s doable.

4. Insulin is bad for you and makes your life worse. 

Ha. I’d be dead if this were the case. Insulin is NOT bad for you. It is necessary for you to live. Believe it or not, everyone CREATES insulin. The reason why people like me inject it or are on a pump is because we no longer create it or we don’t make enough of it. That’s it.

If you have Type 2 diabetes and are put on insulin, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a good thing. It’s helping your body break down foods and function properly. Oral medications might not have been enough, which is a very probable reality.

5. You did this to yourself. You should be ashamed of your lifestyle. 

Say people all the time. Shame on them. Never will anyone know the pains of having diabetes unless they have it. Just because your body couldn’t “hang” doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Could you have been healthier? Sure. However now is the time to take the bull by the horns and change your life. Turn it upside down. You only have ONE life, so live it to the fullest.

Control diabetes so that it doesn’t control you. If you stop focusing on what you shouldn’t eat any long and focus on what you can and how good it makes you feel, this won’t be as hard as you think it is.

The journey is long but you can do it.

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The World Epidemic that No One Gets

First of all, I would like to announce that I am now a member of the American Diabetes Association’s Young Professionals Board, which is the only one in the nation thus far. Lucky for me, it’s here in Chicago and in need of more members. There are 16 of us total, who either have or know someone who has or has passed from diabetes complications. We’re getting somewhere!

Next, I would like to point out that Tuesday was Diabetes Alert Day. Throughout the day, people got out and said, “Hey! Are you at risk for Type 2 diabetes?! Take this risk test and find out.” Interesting how people never did this before when not very many people had diabetes, but it’s good that they’re getting out and fighting the good fight.

On the same day, or might have been Wednesday, Novo Nordisk released a press release talking about the effects that diabetes is having on the world. They expressed their concern for those who don’t have the resources necessary to take care of themselves. They also asked, when there will be enough to help the situation? Diabetes is not a cheap disorder to have, let me tell you.

They bring up a very valid point. When 79 million Americans have prediabetes, which is still abnormally high blood sugar readings, 26 million have already been diagnosed with it,  and there is a “diabetes belt” in the US alone, you have to think, when are these people going to get the help they need?And this is all Type 2 Diabetes by the way. Only five percent of those with diabetes have Type 1.

Do people not get it yet? Now they’re talking about a pill that will prevent “the move” from prediabetes to diabetes. As much as it sounds like it, this is not HIV to AIDS. This is you eating a salad instead of pizza and eating vegetables even if they’re out of a can. This is losing weight and knowing that you don’t have to die a disgusting and miserable death IF YOU DON’T WANT TO.

When are people going to start listening to what they have to change? In the end, you want to know who’s winning in all of this? Pharmaceutical companies. You’re on their pills, on their drugs and you start to get dependent on it all. Why don’t people grow a pair and decide to take this head on?

I knew a guy who was diagnosed with Type 2 and he emailed me asking what he should do. I said, go see a doctor, first of all. Next stay away from anything with added sugar. No pop, no sweets. Stay away. You want to be able to fight this off with little or no medication. It IS possible to put Type 2 Diabetes into REMISSION. The next time I saw him was in our offices, when someone asked if he wanted a sugary drink, similar to pop. “No, thanks,” I heard him stay. “Since I was diagnosed, I’ve been trying to keep away from the sweet stuff.” He then came to me and said that he had lost a significant amount of weight since he had emailed me. He was getting help and taking my advice. Do you know how good I felt that someone had actually decided to take care of themselves? Now only if we could get the rest of the United States to do this.

The other thing that angers me is that information that is supposedly new and recently done research is old news. Not exactly old, but it’s common sense. Now it’s, obese teens are at risk for Type 2. DUH! Why? Because they’re obese! Same thing with babies and children. They should not be fed everything they want to eat because it makes them happy. It should be limited and they should be playing outside and having fun. Why are these poor children and teens obese?! That’s child abuse! And guess what, if obesity is what’s the main cause of Type 2 Diabetes in older people, it’ll probably be an issue for teens and younger children as well. To know that children are already developing prediabetes is disgusting to me.

I guess I give people too much credit in the common sense area and they have to read it for themselves or from a study to know it to be true. I, on the other hand, want to smack a lot of them upside the head. People don’t realize how disgusting it is to die from diabetic complications. They really don’t. But think about it. If you read my blogs and read my explanations of how the body works, you’ll see that since diabetes is a multi-organ disease, it’s going to rip through each organ one-by-one. Usually, it’s your kidneys, then it’s neuropathy which leads to sores on your body, losing feeling in your limbs, all while having to urinate and eventually vomit, feeling exhausted and so thirsty you could drink a lake. If you’re lucky, you might just die of one massive heart attack or stroke. I can’t even continue…

What can I do to make you see the light?! I’m going to start giving workshops and talking about it. I have to. I can’t sit here an watch people drown in their own ignorance and bodily fluids. Something must be done and if no one else is reaching out, I will.

Contact me with any questions, comments or concerns. If you would like me to talk about Diabetes at your place of work, community center or family meeting, I’m at your service.

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Filed under Complications, Culture, Diabetes, Food, Health, Treatments

Goals for the New Year

I refuse to call it a resolution. Bottom line.

Last night, I had the pleasure to be part of a podcast conversation with Gozamos, an online cultural magazine. I was asked to talk about Diabetes from a personal and cultural perspective. It was exciting and at the same time made me nervous because I had never really openly spoke to an “audience” about my diabetes before. I suppose I write, but that’s different than people seeing me and my face and hearing my voice, get me? I’m used to speaking to people one-on-one about particular questions they may have, but as far as telling people my story, well, that can get a little hard.

Anyway, I’ve agreed to join Gozamos in their diabetes and nutrition efforts by writing a column for them about nutrition and a variety of other aspects to the diabetic lifestyle. I’m very excited and looking forward to getting more awareness out there about a problem that affects such a large segment of the Latino and general population.

So let’s go back to my goal for 2011, that which I refuse to call a resolution. Let’s take a little history lesson in Christina’s life. When I was diagnosed with having diabetes at the age of 7, they performed a test on me called the Hemoglobin A1c test, which is an average of your blood sugars over a three-month span. A normally functioning person has an A1c at about 6 or lower. If you have an A1c over 6.5, it’s a reason to be concerned.

At the age of 7, my HbA1c was a 10. Yeah, exactly. I was definitely diabetic. Ha! (I really just laughed at that.) As I aged, I also became more wise about myself and kept my A1c controlled as best as I knew how. In high school and most of college I kept it at an 8 and when I met my doctor and educator at Northwestern I dropped it to a 7. I was so happy to have it down to an almost normal number! The last one I had done, last year, was a 7.4. A tad bit of fluctuation but nothing terrible. I’m up for another one this month. I know it probably will still be around a 7, which is fine by me. But my goals for this are changing.

I hear about people who have an A1c of a 6 or even better and they’re diabetic. I want that. I want to get mine down to a 6 and have complete control. I want to do it without having to work out like a maniac and without having to eat only grass. I have always known how to count my carbs and watch what I eat and all that, but now with the pump (a very useful tool in creating the perfect “normal” bodily conditions) I can actually get myself down to a 6; maybe even a 5.9!

I’m not going on a diet, I’m furthering my diabetic education.

But be careful when looking at A1cs: They’re tricky. As I talked to Luz, the Tu Cultura editor for Gozamos, after the conversation for the podcast, I explained how the A1c is an average. That’s the key word. The goal for diabetics is to keep your blood sugars at a normal, even level. If your blood sugar is always around 100-110, you’ll have a great average reading. But, for you mathematicians, you can get the same readings if you have a level in the 300 and then have some in the 50s. You can’t do that. First of all, the normal level for any human is to keep blood sugars between 70-120. If you drop (“getting the shakes,” which happens sometimes) to anything below 65, it takes a full 24 hours for your body to recover and come back to a normal state. Your body goes through a lot in that time period. Sometimes I wake up with blood sugars in the 40s in the middle of the night. I eat something and go back to sleep, only waking up extra tired in the morning. My body feels weak and unstable and it isn’t until that same night that I feel remotely normal.

There was a doctor who was also a Type 1 diabetic. She was also a speaker and educator. At a conference she spoke about managing her blood sugars and having a very good A1c reading. That night, she went to bed and didn’t wake up. Unbeknown to anyone around her, her A1c was good because she kept them at a dangerously low level. She passed away because her blood sugar dropped so low that she didn’t feel it.

Thank God, I feel it. When I drop in to the 50s, I feel it. When I drop to even just the 60s I feel weird and at night, my body wakes me up because it knows that something’s wrong. This is because I try to keep my blood sugar in the 90s and 100s which is normal. As soon as it goes above those points, I start feeling different symptoms and everyone is different.

This woman, who kept her blood sugar readings so low, didn’t feel the drastic drop because to her body, it was normal. This is why it’s important to “train” your body and keep it as regulated and moderated as possible; “normal” if you will.

A friend of mine told me that her mother who is a Type 2 diabetic has two eyeglass prescriptions because depending on where her blood sugar is, her vision shifts. This is also as a result of not taking care of herself. She is also having other health problems, of which include her kidneys. All of this could be prevented if she just managed her blood sugar.

There are times like those when I wish I could have a conversation with people, especially when they feel there is nothing they can do or don’t want to do. Living with Diabetes is NOT impossible. I’m living proof as well as so many other thousands of people out there.

In the end, it all sounds easier than it actually is, but I plan on getting that A1c down by doing it the right way. I’m totally excited about it!

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me in one of many forms! Leave a comment, email me at kikisbetes@gmail.com or follow me at @kikisbetes and DM or @ me there!

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Filed under Complications, Culture, Diabetes, Doctors, Health, Latinos, Other Diabetics, Personal, Stories