Tag Archives: Diabetes Mellitus

And the point of working out is… Bad dreams!

So everyone knows that working out is good for you. That’s no secret. But when you’re living with diabetes and on medication for it, working out is a problem. My doctor used to laugh and would say something like, “Yeah, you work out to lose weight, then your blood sugar goes down and you have to eat.” There’s basically no winning in the game.

Like everything else, there is a solution to the problem, not that I’ve found it yet. Working out is like a double-edged sword. You either have to do it consistently so that your insulin intake reflects it (if you’re on the pump) or you have to turn the darn thing off when you’re stretching, moving and grooving. I don’t work out at the same time every day, so the bolus schedule that I’m on is hard to come by. I can change it every day, but I’m too lazy to do that. Usually my work outs last for about 45 minutes, so I just take it off, do my thing and put it back on. That’s not an issue.

But my question is, how are you supposed to deal with monitoring yourself when you’re not awake?! My problems have always come at night. Either my blood sugar sky rockets when I sleep or it drops dramatically. Take for example, yesterday. Yesterday I came home from work and decided to work out. Midway through, my sugar had dropped to 75 so I took a swig of regular soda and kept going. At the end after the cool down, it had dropped again to 67. That’s when I ate. I hadn’t had dinner so this was my chance to eat without feeling too guilty about it.

As I showered, cleaned and watched a little more television while Tweeting away, I was super-duper thirsty. I went to check myself and I was up at 247. “That’s why!” I thought to myself. My pump suggested about three units of insulin which I manually lowered because I knew that I might drop, and that was that.

As I drifted off to dream land, I had a peculiar dream. I was on the phone with a man who was having a heart attack. At the same time I was in a hospital, trembling and I thought to myself, “Am I feeling what this man is feeling?” I started to shake harder, which is when I opened my eyes. I was wide awake at 3:15 in the morning. As I got up, I was disoriented. I went to check my blood sugar. 37. I had dropped to 37. It was incredible. And there I went, turning on the TV, grabbing my box of Cap’n Crunch and watching a rerun of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, or whatever it’s called. If you look at my twitter account, you’ll see my comments at about 3:30.

There’s nothing worse that going back to bed after an episode like that. I checked myself again and I was already at 75. I was on my way up. In the morning I was at 209 with a dry mouth and headache. I got my insulin and went about my day. Let me tell you, my body has not caught up yet. Last meter check, I was at 120. With that Cap’n Crunch love affair, I can tell you that I might have eaten everything I burned off with my work out. How terrible is that?

If your blood sugar has never dropped, you wouldn’t understand. The feeling of passing out and not being able to get up when you live alone is horrendous! When I was struggling to get the tiny strip out of the bottle to check my blood sugar, I was sweating, shaking and kept thinking, what if I pass out? Who’s going to help me?

If your blood sugar is too low, that’s it. You die quicker from having a low blood sugar than a high one. Hypoglycemia, when your blood sugar drops below 60, can lead to seizure, coma and even death if not treated. Dying from high blood sugar takes a little more than 24 hours. You can now understand the fear of hypoglycemia to an extent.

There are different ways to solve this problem, obviously eating is one of them. It’s just the control that gets most people. You panic, feel like you’re starving and just want to get rid of that ugly feeling so you EAT! When I was younger, that was my chance to get at those Oreos.

But if, God forbid, you ever see someone pass out from hypoglycemia, what you’re supposed to do is rub either sugar or icing on the inside of the person’s cheek. It’s the quickest way to the blood stream. If there is a glucagon injection near by, you can also administer that.

Glucagon injections do not inject sugar into your system. Glucagon itself is a group of 29 amino acids that trigger your liver to release glucose so that your system is always at a balance. When people pass out, the injection, which is concentrated glucagon, tells your liver to release all its stored up glucose so that your body jolts itself back to normality. Crazy isn’t it? All these things you have to learn!

But there’s always a balance, right? Like eating a snack before bed, which I didn’t do because my sugar was already high. I didn’t want to be that high, so I took insulin for it. I guess this just goes to show that no matter how much you THINK you have this monster of diabetes in check, sometimes you don’t. Your body is still a body, doing things on its own. We’re not machines and we don’t work like clock work sometimes. That’s the reality of it.

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Filed under Diabetes, Food, Health, Personal, Treatments

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

Diabetes Melodies

So the other day, my boyfriend was looking up videos about diabetes and came up with a few good ones. I want to share them here because I’m being lazy and really, I have nothing to write about just yet. I plan on getting my HbA1c tested next Saturday and I’m still writing down everything I’m eating and calculating the appropriate carbohydrates.

Yesterday I woke up with a blood glucose of 491. Pump fail. I should have known something was up when I first put the pump on because it said I had less than I really did. Not mention the night before last my blood sugar wouldn’t come down. It was scary to say the least and I slept a lot while constantly checking my blood sugar, drinking water and taking insulin. I checked my ketone level, of which the strip said I only had a trace so I was ok with that. But man, it was scary. I didn’t know what to do and I wanted to rip the pump out and give myself a shot. I changed the pump and it all worked out, thank God.

Anyway, moving on. My sugar reading for dinner was 75. Slightly low, but I had been getting hungry and didn’t eat much in the morning. Needless to say, I definitely enjoyed my dinner.

So here are the two videos that my boyfriend found that I thought were hilariously awesome and decided I should share with you, my fabulous readers. Let me know what you think, si?

My favorite line: “I’m a Type 1, son!”

This one is more for the Type 2 kats out there but nonetheless, still good information to know. I don’t have a favorite line for this one, but loved exaggerated corniness of it!

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Doctors, Health, Stories

The Culture of Food

Americans love food. No, let’s rephrase that. Americans are obsessed with food. We love it. And a few years ago, Forbes decided to rank cities based on how much they actually loved it. If you Google it, you’ll find that Memphis, Tenn. ranked in the number one spot because they have the highest obesity rate. Well, now, it’s not just food they love, but also love the lack of exercise and food choice.

San Antonio was ranked number three on the chart for obesity and in 1999 a study was conducted to find that seven percent of 8-year-old kids had elevated glucose levels. Uh-oh. So not only does that mean they eat a lot, but they eat the wrong foods. Put it this way, kids shouldn’t have to worry about glucose levels and all that jazz. I mean, if they were eating carrots and fresh fruits they wouldn’t have high glucose levels, be obese or have to worry about being diagnosed with any kind of diabetes. They should be outside, in the yard playing tag and having fun.

So according to a friend of mine, Type 2 diabetes is managed 20 percent of the time by medication. That’s it. For the other 80 percent of the time, it’s up to the person diagnosed to eat healthily and exercise regularly. But it’s a lifestyle change that not many people want to deal with. They don’t want to have to run around the block and would much rather have their kids stay inside the house where they’re safe.

I say that you have a million and one reasons as to why things like this are happening. But first and foremost, it’s the lack of nutritional education. When I was a kid, they used to give me whatever I wanted to eat. That included Capri Sun juice packets and sugary things like that. Mind you, I have Type 1 diabetes, not Type 2. Nonetheless, feeding and having some meat on your bones in the Latino families is a sign of love and health. If you were thin you’d be called out as skinny. If you were fat, they let you know it. Eating is a sign of family and of love. For birthdays, they make you your favorite dish. And because of the fact that they could make this back in the day and even in their native countries without too many repercussions like fatness, they make it here, not taking into consideration what kind of chemicals are but into food or the fact that food is being altered every day into something more similar to poison.

Not only are they telling us that we have to watch fat intake, which is slightly obvious, but we also have to stay away from anything white, like processed sugar and white bread. For a lot of people food is food and if they sell it and can afford it, then you should eat it. But sadly it’s not that simple.

In San Antonio, they loved fried food and according to the rankings that Forbes created in 2007, it was noted that more obese people/cities were in the south. Why? Just because of the cultural reasons I mentioned. Food equals love and family. And the fact that a lot of things are fried… well, that explains a lot, doesn’t it?

My little cousins eat pizza and McDonald’s all the time because my aunt doesn’t cook. That’s the exact reason. They eat out all the time, but lucky for the girls, they got their father’s genes and hence are not obese. They’ve also inherited their father’s athletic side and play sports. Since we’ve started eating healthier, the girls love to come to my house for dinner. Why? We eat together, we eat home cooked food and we make it a point to have conversations, which is not something that they do. Mind you, they come from Latino parents but they haven’t be raised in the culture. The one thing that my family has done differently? We’ve paid attention to our food and our food intake. I would love to say it was just for me (which at the beginning it was) but I just learned to stay away from things that had remotely more sugar than I could eat. Now that my sister and mother are losing weight and eating healthier, their choices have been more conscious. My dad, who plays soccer at least 3 times a week, loses weight regardless of what he eats. At 60 he can run circles around us.

Back to my cousins though: Every time I see them, I try to make it a point as to why they should eat one thing over another and why the choices that they make could help them in the long run. The high-school-aged one pays more attention to me than the grade-school-aged one for obvious reasons. But they don’t have the proper education on food, which they should. They’re not living in poverty nor do they have a limited mode of transportation, they just choose to go back to the same places and make the same bad decisions. When my grandmother had gotten out of the hospital from being cleared of an artery blockage, as well as having a pacemaker put in, my aunt thought that ordering her fried zucchini from the corner pizzeria would be good for her because it was a vegetable. This is what I mean. And she is the mother of the two girls. But even though I tell them what they don’t want to hear, it makes no difference and I come off as being the know-it-all. Oh, how the world works.

Of the total U.S. population, 18 percent of non-Latinos are obese compared to the 37 percent of Latinos. Surprise, surprise. There are reasons, but since no one is taking that step to education Latinos about what they can do differently and all the options they do have, this is still going to be a problem. We have not yet found a way to educate in a properly, cultural way to the Latino demographic even though many companies and organizations that are Latino based have put the money into a campaign to try to make it happen. And honestly, putting it in Spanish isn’t the answer.

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Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Food, Health, Latinos, Stories

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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The Support That Pulls Through

Ever try to go on a diet but no one in the house understands and continues to buy cookies and candy, not caring that you’re attempting to stick to your salads and lean meats? Living in a household with more people than just yourself can make dieting kind of hard. When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, of whatever type, multiply that need for support times 10.

A lot of times it’s hard to keep having to explain yourself to other people, especially when you’re learning how your own body needs to improve and function properly to stay healthy. Diabetes is a lifestyle change that many people don’t like to go through, especially Latinos. It bothers me sometimes that many Latinos just want to give up because they think they’re supposed to die from it. I’m Latina and I’m here to tell you it’s not TRUE!

I met someone last year who was diagnosed with Type II diabetes; a Latino. He emailed me to ask what he should do. Get to a doctor, I told him, but firstly, you have to stay away from anything with unnatural or processed sugar. No more pop, no more fast food. Stick to natural and healthy. I gave him a few more pointers since he admitted to me that he never exactly lived a healthy lifestyle and he didn’t know where to begin.

A few months later, he walked into the office where I worked. He had lost about 20 pounds and rejected a sugary drink. “I’m trying to stay away from the sugary stuff now,” he said. I was proud of him for actually taking the initiative to improve his health.

When you have a team of support behind you, you work harder to improve your life. Learning about the consequences if you don’t take care of yourself, like heart attacks, strokes, amputations, blindness, sores and death, may also scare you into your lifestyle change. Whichever works, do it. I say, find that support system.

When you buy food at the grocery store, you don’t have to completely stay away from sugar, just find a balance and choose  wisely. Nutritional Facts on the back of the packages is a good place to start! Finding cereal with whole grain, a lot of fiber and little sugar is better than Frosted Flakes. Now, they sell juice with 50 percent less sugar than regular cartons. When looking for bread, find high fiber, whole wheat bread because fiber actual helps maintain your blood sugar levels. Stay away from consistent red meat and make sure to eat chicken and turkey and fish. Get your family away from high sugar intake. It’s bad for your teeth and just doesn’t make your body feel good. Eat more fresh fruits with natural sugar (which is digested faster) and better for your body. Eat green vegetables. If you grill bell peppers, their sweetness comes out and are delicious. And remember, organic should be your way to go.

As a kid, I didn’t have a choice. I found out I was diabetic when my mom had me checking my blood sugar the required three times a day. “Am I going to have to do this for the rest of my life?” I asked as she pricked my finger. Yes, she told me. That’s when I knew.  A few weeks later they put me in the hospital for four days to monitor my insulin treatment, making sure my body wouldn’t reject the hormone and the dosages were correct.

My mother went through a depression I had never seen before. The fact that her first-born had an illness no one knew anything about was hard for her. How was she going to deal with it? Was it her fault?

I’m not going to lie, I was a fat kid. But at the same time, diabetes starts even before anyone can notice it and by the time any effects are seen, 90 percent of the insulin-making cells have been destroyed. So, it was in my body for long before I was diagnosed.

In order to treat it the best way they knew how (they being the doctors), I had to be on a very strict diet. I had two pieces of toast in the morning with a half cup of orange juice. For lunch I had a sandwich and milk. Everything was accounted for because I was on a consistent dose of insulin and I had to eat or else my sugar would drop. I lost a lot of weight and was attempting to control my diabetes. But I forgot to mention the naturalezas that my grandmother was convinced would cure me! I had concoctions that tasted like grass and plants. I swallowed garlic whole and ate some other things that people would give me. I drank holy water, rubbed holy oil all over my body and they prayed, but nada.

Anyway, at that point, it wasn’t just me that needed support, but my mother did, too. One thing I forgot to mention is that my cousin, who lived three blocks away, was also diagnosed six months before I was. So my aunt was in the same boat as my mother, although she didn’t take it so hard. Both my mom and aunt sought out support groups from the hospital my cousin and I went to. We too, were also in support groups for kids. Some kids would come in and still be healing from the repercussions of diabetes and had to carry along their IV bags and were in robes. Like my cousin, many kids and young adults find out they’re diabetic because they get flu-like symptoms due to hyperglycemia (when your blood sugar is way too high). My cousin was vomiting, peeing every five minutes, his breath smelled of candy (because of the sugar), he slept all the time until finally, they didn’t know what else to do besides check him in.  I was lucky enough that I didn’t go through that. They caught it early in me.

Here’s an interesting fact: Back in the day, like 6th Century BC, they tested you for diabetes by seeing if ants were attracted to your urine. Ants are attracted to sugar, therefore, if ants were attracted to the urine, there was sugar in it and hence you had a problem. This technique was used by the ancient Indians who called it the “sweet urine disease.”

So at the support groups we got coloring books and talked about school. “What would you tell someone if they said they didn’t like you because you’re diabetic?” asked the doctor. I answered that assuredly with, “It’s their problem. I can’t get rid of it and if you don’t like me for that reason, that’s not my fault.” Sounds like me, doesn’t it?

My mom and aunt went to parent support groups and learned a lot about what happens within the body. My mom has since become a medical nut. She’s not a nurse or anything but because of taking care of me and my grandmother, she’s seen more than her fair share of doctors.

Then there are people like the rest of my family who have gotten used to me drinking Diet Cokes, not having too much candy or sugar and are always asking if I’m taking care of myself. They support my healthy choices. Since I’m always around them,  they know that me checking myself and taking a shot is normal. That’s normal.

And of course, my boyfriend. He’s learning more and more by being with me. He yells at me when my sugar drops and I don’t have any candy, he makes sure I check myself when I have to and I eat when I have to and he goes with me to see nutritional specialists and my endocrinologist because he wants to learn. He wants to know how he can support me to make this easier.

When faced with diabetes diagnosis, don’t go through it alone. Doctor Enrique Caballero, MD, from the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard, told me that most people with diabetes are healthier than “normal” people. Everyone wants to be a little bit healthier now a days. So grab a partner. If it’s your aunt, cousin, sister, best friend or parent, there will always be someone to get in on the fight with you. One thing they do out at Joslin is acknowledge people who have been living with diabetes for 25, 50 and 75 years. So if you could have a gold star for making it that long, which one would be your goal?

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Filed under Diabetes, Doctors, Food, Health, Other Diabetics, Personal, Stories

If You’re Like Me…

If you’re like me, you don’t like to be told what to do. Even more, you hate it when you hear the same thing over and over again. Usually, this is why I don’t tell people what I give up for Lent because they’ll be sure to tell me what not to say, eat or do. “Shouldn’t you not be eating meat?”
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, juvenile diabetes or whatever else you want to call it, I was 7 years old and about to start second grade. Upon the first day of school, it started. She has a disease, she can’t have candy, she gets special sugar-free candies, she can go to the bathroom whenever she needs to. I had a brown paper back in my locker with crackers and regular soda, in case I should get shaky. It was oddly great and weird at the same time.
For Halloween, I got apples. For Valentines Day, I didn’t get candy. For all other times I was asked, “Can you eat that? Isn’t that bad for you?”
It’s exhausting to have to explain yourself over and over especially as a kid. Now that I’m older and have much better control of myself than I did when I was seven, I still get that.
“Youre diabetic, you shouldn’t have that.”
“Is that ok for you?”
“Should you be eating that?”
I understand that people are concerned, but dammit, I have the disease, not you. I know what I can eat, I understand my limitations and I know what comes with it.
My favorite was when a pharmacist in California told my boyfriend not to offer me diet Coke because it still had sugar in it and he should know better. First of all, there’s no sugar, just caffeine which still makes your sugar go up but not drastically and sugar alcohols don’t count. Secondly, mind your own business. Thirdly, she obviously didn’t realize I was Type I. If you’re going to say something, make sure you know what you’re talking about.
I don’t mind when people ask how everything works because then they just want to be educated, but if you think you know more than me, you got another thought coming.
Now, I understand that people feel the same way that may be uneducated about being diabetic. Totally get that and that’s why instead of attacking anyone, I choose to inform them about what can and will happen should they not take care of themselves, nor understand what the consequences are. People feel like they got it and I get that, but, like in my last blog, when I ask how often you check your blood sugar and you say “sometimes” I know there is something wrong.
So please, if you want to be concerned, ask questions and get educated if you want to be supportive of my disorder. But never assume you know what’s going on or that you know more than I do. And definitely, don’t tell me what I should or should not do.

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I Get The Shakes

When I was working on a story for Cafe magazine about Type II diabetes. Just so everyone knows, Type II and Type I are different. In Type I, the pancreas no longer secretes insulin. In Type II, the cells inside the body are resistant to insulin that is secreted by the pancreas. The consequences and effects are the same for both, though, although the causes are not.

Moving on. I interviewed this man who was going blind because he didn’t take care of himself. The build up of sugar in the system doesn’t have to just affect the feet and heart like you hear a lot about, it can affect anything. He stopped taking his medication after a while for multiple reasons. 1. He had a pact with God and if he was supposed to have this disease, and he was supposed to die from it, so be it. This is a very Latino way of thinking, by the way. 2. He didn’t trust the doctors because they continued to mix and switch up the pills he was taking. He thought they were going to kill him. 3. He felt like he had everything under control.

So, when you have high blood sugar, your body gets used to it and learns to function as is. As a Type I or Type II diabetic, the number one symptom is abnormally high blood sugar. Normally, someone’s blood sugar should be between 70-120. As a diabetic who isn’t taking care of  themselves, this can shoot up to 500 and some people have been recorded at 900. That’s dangerously high. Imagine someone functioning normally at 300. When that person takes their medication, it brings it down to a normal number. When this happens in the body, it’s a lot of stress and it makes the body shake, sweat and feel faint.

This man would take his medication, come down to a semi-normal level, “get the shakes” and eat a candy bar. See, the way one doctor put it, it’s scary and any non-diabetic would never understand how scary it is to have your blood sugar drop. It’s also easier to die from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) than it is to die from high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Here’s something else for you to chew on: When your blood sugar drops and you “get the shakes,” it takes your body 24 hours to normalize. When someone’s blood sugar drops, they “go low,” then if they do what he does, the blood sugar “shoots up.” Can you imagine how your body feels after something like that, being thrown around? Your blood sugars on a graph would look like a peaked mountain.

Because of the shakes, he stopped taking his meds. Let’s throw some numbers out there. If he was at 400, then came down to 150 with the medicine, he gets the shakes and eats a candy bar shooting him back up to possibly even 500 where his body “feels” normal.  What would he have to do to actually normalize the blood sugar? Deal with the shakes and shivers.

I sat there with him and asked him a few questions. Do you check your blood sugar? Sometimes. If anything, this is the main way of controlling diabetes. The answer should be all the time. Do you go to the doctor? Sometimes. He couldn’t find anyone who “knew what they were doing.” Do you take your medicine? Sometimes. He would forget, not take it and it would just keep going like that. As I left his house, I hoped that he had learned something from what I told him. He told me that I should keep on with what I’m doing because it seems like I know how to take care of myself. I assured him that I would.

I still get the shakes sometimes. This could be caused by taking too much insulin (one unit can be too much), doing too much exercise (but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t) or not eating enough (which doesn’t normally happen anymore). My body recognizes my low blood sugars as much as it recognizes the high ones. With low blood sugars I sweat, shake and sometimes feel faint. With high blood sugars, I pee a lot, get bad headaches and feel tired. If I ever feel any of these symptoms, the first thing I do is check my blood sugar. At night, if my blood sugar drops, I can’t sleep. I wake up and as soon as I start moving, I get a cold sweat and start dripping. It’s crazy. But as soon as I feel that, I run to check myself and drink milk or juice.

Another thing diabetics don’t realize is that it doesn’t take much to get your blood sugar back up. You don’t need a candy bar. You need juice, milk or a piece of bread with peanut butter. As soon as something is placed in the mouth, you’re good. My grandmother felt terrible one day after a nap. When we checked her blood sugar, it was 49, which is drastic. My aunts didn’t freak out because I was there. I gave her juice and had her drink it before moving. As she walked from one chair to another, she said, I still feel it. My aunts wanted to give her more. She didn’t need anymore because it was going to take at least 10-15 minutes for the juice and sugar to hit the blood stream. After a few minutes, she felt fine. “Thank God you were here. You’re the expert,” said one of my aunts. Not because I want to be, I said, but because I have to be.

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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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Type III Insights: No Textbook Terminology

When you study something in a book for a few years and then try to take everything you’ve learned and apply it to a person, it’s not the same thing. People are not the same and they don’t know what to do with you. They don’t know how to talk to you and they tell you you’re doing things wrong.

Hi, my name is Christina and I’m diabetic.

I wrote the first blog on a whim, but I feel that those of you who read this need more a description of who I am. I’m not a textbook, I’m human. I don’t do things the precise way, because well, I either forget or don’t want to. We’re human. I’m human.

I doubt that you’ve read the ABOUT page, so I’m just going to tell you a bit more about myself. Since I was seven years old, I was told that I would have to check my blood sugar every day at least 3 times a day but I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I got a doctor who yelled at me for not doing what I was told instead of explaining to me what was going on in my body, did I get on it. After that doctor, I had one who didn’t care. I didn’t have to check myself as much and so, I didn’t. I learned about things that could happen to me but I didn’t know that I could take control of my diabetes the way people drive a car.

I then found a doctor who was married to a diabetic, loved diabetes herself and told me, you have to understand what’s going on in order to fix it. Check and cover: Check your blood sugar and remember to take the amount of insulin to compensate for what you eat. I felt liberated. I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I knew how to manage and take care of my body. I remember her telling me, “You do what I tell you to do, tell me what happens and I’ll figure out what’s wrong.” I had never had a doctor like that before. The diabetic educator was that much better. Kim had been living with diabetes for over 29 years and she knew exactly what was going on in her body. She explained everything I needed to know and made me want to learn more.

I lost that doctor (hoping to get her back) because of insurance problems and recently went to see another doctor. Unlike Aleppo, this chick told me to switch to decaffeinated coffee because I told her my sugars went up when I had caffeine in my system. Aleppo just told me to take a unit or two of insulin. The differences were vast. I had gotten used to my liberation mentality and now this one was trying to keep me strict again. I had to explain to her that I knew the reason for things and that I wasn’t going to let that happen to me again.

Right now, I check my blood sugars between 7-10 times a day. I run out of strips so fast that I have to explain to my doctors what I do in order to get them to write me another prescription. When I have one strip left, I panic! I’ve learned that in order to keep control of myself, I need to know myself and checking my blood sugar is the answer to a lot of questions I have. I’m thirsty. Check blood sugar. My head hurts. Check blood sugar. I feel tired. Check blood sugar.

Sometimes, I may think I take the right amount of insulin, but I’m wrong. This is the importance of the continued checking. Or I might take too much. In order to keep control, you have to know how.

I’m not into fancy terminology. Cardiovascular, glucose, amputations. No. If we’re going to talk about that here, I’m going to tell you, “Check your blood sugar on that little machine there that goes ‘beep’ because if you don’t your sugar will go up, you’ll poison yourself, have a heart attack or get your leg chopped off. Better yet, you might just go blind, get a bunch of sores on your body and not be able to have sex any more. Eh?” At least, that way, you’ll understand what I’m telling you.

So let the flood gates open! Ask me questions. I have a lot of different stories when it comes to diabetes, so I’ll be posting them all here. I’m also going to start doing research on methodologies and things like that because everyone wants to know, and I have no answers because there not released to the public (among other things).

I’m not a doctor, nor a diabetic educator or a nurse. I’m a human, peer who lives with the same disease and disorder that millions upon millions of people live with in this country. Although I have Type I diabetes, I CAN answer questions about Type II.

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