Tag Archives: health

If I wasn’t diabetic…

If I wasn’t diabetic (Type 1, that is), I would probably weigh about 300 pounds. I’m not kidding.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would probably love eating chocolate a lot more than I do now. Right now, I just think about it a lot, but don’t eat it. So it goes for many, many other foods.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would probably not even THINK about working out. Actually, maybe I would.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about waking up with the shakes in the middle of the night.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t know what wanting to pass out felt like.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would know much less about how my body works.

If I wasn’t diabetic, Type 1, I’d probably be Type 2 by now.

If I wasn’t diabetic, a part of me thinks I’d work out a lot more and skip out on a few meals without worrying about repercussions. But I can always do that now, right?

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about having a job with health insurance.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have won my boyfriend over. He says that he liked me more because of the control and knowledge I had about the disorder my body carries. I wouldn’t be different if I wasn’t diabetic.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would have chosen to travel the world instead of staying in one place.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would have joined something like the Peace Corps, if not the Peace Corps.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting yelled at by my doctors.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t always be lectured by my doctor.

If I wasn’t diabetic, my life would not be run by numbers.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have knowledge about technology, medicine, health or a variety of other topics that are affecting people all around me all the time.

If I wasn’t diabetic, Kikisbetes.com wouldn’t exist, nor would @kikisbetes.

If I wasn’t diabetic, learning about new exercise moves would not be a priority.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to always count carbs.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would be eating more tortillas.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t exactly worry about how much grasa actually went into my food.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would be eating a lot more pan dulce, drinking Jarritos, scarfing down chicharrones and drinking atole every weekend.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t find a need to inform people of the health issues that may hinder them in the future.

If I wasn’t diabetic, there would be no looking up carbs in beer and worrying about “how to drink.”

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to wear the Medic Alert bracelet that you see in the photo above.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about my process of having children.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about seeing six to seven different doctors in a year.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about medical bills, keeping up on my supplies for medication and making sure to see the doctor every three months.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about losing my feet or my sight.

If I wasn’t diabetic, my motivation would be writing and writing only.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t be one of the five percent of people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t completely collapse every time I get a simple cold.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have as many writing opportunities as I do now.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would be a little more normal.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t always have to convince myself that diabetes isn’t a limitation.

If I wasn’t diabetic, though, I don’t think I would be me. All of these little things that have shaped me over the years have kept me sane, healthy and alive. Every day, diabetes is being less of a limitation for me. I know there are ways to do all the things I’ve ever wanted to do and just like the next person who doesn’t have diabetes, I’m being limited by much more than just having this disease.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Health, History, Personal, Stories

Food for thoughts of happy endings.

Of course, I’m going to tell you that vegetables are the best thing for you to eat if you’re diabetic. But there are other foods that are good for you, that will keep your blood sugar stable and help keep you healthy. You have to keep this in mind; before, they counted everything in your diet towards your insulin intake. Now they just count carbs. But the less carbs you eat, the better, right? Or so say all the diets that have been emerging, especially since the atkins diet.

Anyway, I’m going to tell you about foods you should be eating to help your blood sugar stay controlled.

taken from: fitness.resourcesforattorneys.com

Anything green allows you to have iron in your system, which is in charge of carrying oxygen-healthy cells. By green I mean like spinach, broccoli, lettuce and even strawberries and kiwi have a lot of iron.

Here’s a list of what to eat while pregnant, that works even if you’re not and even if you’re a man:

Dried fruits and nuts: The mixture of these two ingredients gives you a balance of natural sugars and proteins and also give your jaw a workout. Did you know that once your jaw gets tired of chewing, it will send a message to your brain telling it that you no longer want to eat?

Whole-grain crackers or bread with peanut butter: Anything whole grain is good for you. The complex carbs keep you satiated longer and also are better for energy and don’t store as fat so easily. Peanut butter, like nuts, is a great sources of protein that will fill you up. Fat is necessary in your diet, no matter what anyone says. As long as you limit your peanut butter intake, you can count it as protein and not fat, which will also keep you fuller, longer.

Yogurt: The creamy deliciousness has a high source of probiotics that’s awesome for your stomach. Stick to low-fat yogurt and add granola for extra fiber and extra crunch.

Fruit: Fresh fruit is the best kind! The natural sugars don’t take long for your body to process and therefore gets worked out quicker. Unlike processed sugar that can do more harm than good, you don’t need too much insulin when eating fruit. The fibers and extra nutrients and vitamins in fruits make them that much better to eat.

Low-fat cheese or cottage cheese: Again, these dairy products have a lot of protein and keep you fuller longer. Since you’re not eating so much, it will keep your blood sugar regulated.

A baked potato: eat a small one with the skin. Potato skins carry a lot of vitamins and nutrients.

A hard-boiled egg: Again, eggs are a high source of protein. Add a little bit of salt to the hard-boiled egg and it tastes delicious.

Hummus and pita slices: Hummus has a ton of protein in it. For those of you who don’t know, hummus is crushed chickpeas, which eaten whole are also a delicious source of protein that can be added to salads or eaten alone.

Cacti are known to produce their own insulin and have been used to treat type 2 diabetes around the world. How do you prepare this, you ask? Well, when I was a kid, my grandmother gave it to me in the form of a shake and my mom make nopalitos mixed with egg, like a cactus omelette.  It’s delicious. It’s been used for other illnesses and diseases too like asthma and whooping-cough. Those Latinos and indigenous folk know what they’re talking about!

In addition, high fiber foods that are natural also keep your blood sugar balanced. As I mentioned before, fruits like apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries and bananas are high sources of fiber and very good for you. Actually, any kind of berry is excellent for your system. The Mayo Clinic lists high-fiber foods that are delicious and nutritious!

Keeping an eye on nutritional facts is a great idea and not hard to do. The less insulin you use the better, right? Well, sometimes, but you want to be good to your body as much as possible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Diabetes, Food, Health, Latinos, Treatments

Cutler May Be a Wimp but…

So if you’re a Chicagoan, you’re like me– pissed that the Bears didn’t make it all the way to the Super Bowl. At the same time though, there’s a sigh of relief as to what our Super Bowl fight would have looked like. I’m pretty sure the Steelers would have just walked all over us, kind of like what the Colts did to us in 2007. So, basically, I’m glad that the Green Bay fans will have to endure that kind of torture and not us… again.

Jay Cutler on the field. Don’t hate. Appreciate.

Anyway! So, above all of that it was brought to my attention that people called out Jay Cutler’s manliness after the game, calling him a softie because he took himself out of the game, saying he couldn’t go on because of his knee. Props to the Bears for sticking up for the QB, namely Urlacher who told everyone else to shove it. I like them all for that. There were still some who disagreed, but again, who was playing in the NFC Championship? Right, not you.

Now, I’m the first person to tell you that all of us people with diabetes are not the same, that we don’t need special treatment and that we can do anything you can do… better (I had to do that). But when it comes to injuries, there’s something that you all should know. No matter how well you take care of your diabetes and especially if you’re Type 1, you have to be sure to give extra time to healing processes.

If anyone knows me, they know that when I have a cold, I die and resurrect from the dead some three or four days later, develop a cough and don’t become completely cured for another two weeks after that. Also, stress has a lot to do with how your body is affected. Granted, Cutler should be on top of all of these things with doctors and specialists up his behind, but with his party-hardy attitude, there are still somethings that can slip up.

I’m not trying to ease up on the fact that Cutler might have been able to finish that game but 1) he was already sucking it up pretty bad and 2) you have to understand what it’s like to have that kind of stress. I’m not saying Cutler is a baby either, I’m just saying, there are some things you have to understand. If there is a tear, it could tear more and he could suffer bigger consequences than just pulling himself out of an important game, which was honestly a smart thing to do. Who cares if you could’ve continued? If you knew that you weren’t going to be playing your best, why put that on the line when you can give it to a perfectly healthy second string… I mean third string QB who obviously had some pent up energy and talent to show off.

The other thing is, is that when it comes to nerves and joints and all that, it’s very easy for PWDs to get infections and end up with more severe problems. Neuropathy is one big issue in PWDs who are not athletes so for an internal injury like this, Cutler does have to be careful about the amount of stress placed on this knee. Neuropathy can affect sensory nerves, motor nerves controlling movement, autonomic nerves, which control involuntary or semi-  involuntary body functions or a combination of all three, according to HealthCentral.com.

“Nerves farthest from the brain and spinal cord are usually the first to malfunction. Pain and other symptoms often appear on both sides of the body, beginning in the feet and progressing toward the center of the body,” states the website.

Injuries are the most common reasons why this happens to a PWD. “Neuropathy occurs when illness, injury, inflammation, medication, or other factors disrupt the ability of nerves outside the spinal cord to relay messages between the brain and muscles, skin, nerves, joints, or internal organs,” states the website. I’m not saying that this can happen to him right now, but with time, like any other hard hitting sport, things like this can come up.

Neuropathy deals with nerves you say, but there are no nerves in the knee! Au contraire, mon amour! There are and they’re extremely important nerves that travel to the lower half the leg. The one major one is called the popliteal nerve, which then splits just above the knee into two other nerves called the tibial nerve and the peroneal nerve which can be damaged from injuries to the knee. I’m no genius, I got this all from OrthoPod.com!

There are a lot of cases of amputations in diabetics due to neuropathy.  A lot. Look at Ron Santo who had both of his legs amputated.  So this is why it is so important to note if there is severe pain or tingling sensations to the touch, especially after injuries.

Now, after ALL of that, do you understand why it was important for Cutler to pull himself out? I mean, not to say that these tears and such couldn’t happen to anyone else, but because of having diabetes and taking a longer process to heal, it is important to be cautious and careful when dealing with internal injuries.

Have any injuries like this or stories about problems with your knees? Leave a comment and let me know what’s going on!

2 Comments

Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Health, Stories

Preguntitas…

Here’s something I haven’t done since I’ve started. I want to ask if anyone out there has any questions about diabetes and being Latin@.  If you have any questions concerning food, substitutes, exercise or anything else, ask away!

But first, I’d like to thank the chicas from the TikiTiki Blog, who mentioned my blogs on their piece Latina Bloggers for 2011. The only little problem I had was with my last name. It’s spelled with a G not a Q. It’s fine, my landlady did the same thing on the mailbox.

So, back to my preguntas! All right, I’m seriously going to be waiting for people to ask some solid questions. Whether it’s personal about me or about having diabetes or about what can happen, I’m an open book and will tell you what you need to know!

That’s my blog post for today. I will be posting it everywhere, so don’t be alarmed if you see it more than once. If you would rather ask questions privately, please email me at kikisbetes@gmail.com. Otherwise, post a comment!

Te estoy esperando!

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Health, Latinos

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!

3 Comments

Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Doctors, Health, Stories

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!

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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

It’s more than super-sized margaritas and tres leches cake

I was approached by a reader a few weeks ago who told me that she would like for her story to be told. After glancing over her story the first time, it seemed that her story was very interesting and well put. She was a very cautious person when it came to her health because her mother was Type 1 diabetic.

It seemed to me that this woman was bitter at the fact that gangrene had infected her mother’s toe and eventually caused her death. Although this woman blamed it on diabetes, it was also caused because it wasn’t found in time. Her mother didn’t go to the doctor for it; at least, she didn’t mention that in the story.

So since then, this woman has taken excellent care of herself. She had check ups all the time and eventually tested her A1c level, which was that blood test I mentioned before, which gives a broader scope of how well an individual was dealing with their diabetes. Because her doctor was not satisfied with the results (this woman did not mention what they were) she was pinned as being pre-diabetic. This just means that you’re prone to it. So, even after this woman had been taking care of herself her entire life, she was still on the path to possibly having diabetes.

So, after reading this, I thought, what an interesting story. Sure, I’ll post this. Then she revised it saying that the new one may “work better for me.” After reading it, I found that she decided to be a little more savvy about Latinos and diabetes by writing this:

“Hispanics are twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites, partially due to cultural associations with foods, beverages, and mealtimes. Despite stats that say Hispanic female heads of households are more conscientious about calories and nutrition than non-Hispanics, the majority are in total disregard, drinking super-sized margaritas, beers, turkey legs or fritanga and topping it off with tres leches. As a result, obesity is rampant in the Hispanic community, and Type 2 diabetes is hitting children like never before.”

Now, mind you, I agree with the parts about diabetes being a silent killer among the Latino community. I agree that obesity is a problem as well, but I don’t agree with her reasoning as to why. In fact, it was stereotypical and uncalled for, something that I told her in an email. I also mentioned that for being a diabetic advocate, her reasoning as to why Latinos were prone to diabetes was not good.

She claims that she lived and own a tapas bar in South America and she works with LULAC and other Latino organizations, but why did she feel this generalized section about Latinos was necessary? In a way, this just shows what kind of people are marketing to diabetics and the Latino community– people that don’t understand us. Just because you lived in South America and owned a tapas bar, doesn’t make you an expert at Latino culture, just as a visitor.

Diabetes is huge among all people of color and across the entire United States. Latinos have reasons besides super-sized margaritas to explain why diabetes is emerging in many members of the community.

Let’s take a step back and look at the reasoning why.

1. Latinos in their home countries are accustomed to eating healthier foods. This means fresh and not full of chemicals, like preservatives and hormones. They go to the market every day and in fact probably ate organically in their Latin American country.

2. When Latinos come to the United States, they eat the same way. They don’t think about nutritional facts, just wants going to connect them to home, to their roots. This is why 1 in 3 people in the Puerto Rican community are now Type 2 diabetic. In Puerto Rico, everything is fried. Here, there are differences in the food they’re frying and the kind of oil they are using. In Mexico, people eat a lot of beans but they’re not re-fried and they don’t come in a can. Here, we have to resort to cans because who has time to cook beans on a weekday? Seriously, if you have cooked beans you know it takes forever and a day. It’s a cultural difference.

3. Another cultural difference is work. Back “home,” wherever that may be, many people do laborious work. They are out in fields, they walk everywhere, they “work out” because it’s a way of life. Here, we sit in offices and stare at computer screens. This is a big reason why Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance results in people of color. Our bodies are not used to working with so much insulin that our body creates due to what we eat, especially because our food and caloric intake was lower and burned off at a higher rate through all the movement and exercise that was being done. Even if you were born here, your body hasn’t evolved past that of your current ancestors (i.e. your grandparents or great-grandparents)

4. Change of lifestyle is hard. When people come to one country from another, that’s hard. Then you tell them to stay away from what they know because it could cause them harm. That’s harder. But it doesn’t excuse people who have been here longer. They have to learn about what’s going on in their bodies and how to stay healthy. Like ALL Americans, Latinos are getting lazy. A trait gained from the NEW, not old, culture.

5. People choose to disregard their diabetes because they think they’re supposed to die of something and it’s not old age and JUST old age. See, in the Latino community, I’m sorry to say it, but many people are morbid. They think about all of the bad things that have happened and what will happen. They also feel invincible at times. To hear that they have diabetes, they think it’s a disease that they’re supposed to die from. They’re not educated properly about how to take care of themselves, just because they don’t know where to go.

There are a lot of cultural reasons as to why Latinos have diabetes and these are only a few. This woman who made generalizations about the entire community, was obviously not educated on these reasons herself. She represents those people out there who don’t know the reason behind different cultures besides their own and decide to blame cultures and races for their own misfortunes.

Although I thought she was on the right track with educating us about herself and her story, I was obviously wrong and do not plan to promote any generalizations or stereotypes about my own culture.

Sincerely,

Your Loyal Latina.

Update: She emailed me back and clarified the fact that she was speaking strictly about San Antonio, noting that in Mexico and South America, they ate very healthily. I would like to hear back from readers as to what your thoughts are.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Doctors, Food, Health, Latinos, Other Diabetics, Personal, 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.

1 Comment

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

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?

1 Comment

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