Tag Archives: well-being

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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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

Pay Attention!

I never realized the impact of diabetes on my thoughts until I attended a tweet chat with #dsma or the Diabetes Social Media Advocates. They began asking deep questions like, “Who do you take care of yourself for?” Many said they do it for friends, family members and spouses or significant others. I went out on a far off limb and said, “I do it for myself and for my unborn children. I have met various peers who have lost their parent to diabetes complications.” I don’t want to be THAT parent, and I had a few people agree with me on the thought.

Personally, I don’t want to think that I’m not going to see my kids grow up and have their own children. It’s a scary thought that I never quite processed before. I want to see my grandchildren, that is, if I ever have children of my own. *Side note* Although I’ve never been pregnant, I will be talking about diabetes during pregnancy, both with Type 1, 2 and gestational diabetes.

Now, you might ask, do you think of that each time you check yourself or take insulin? No, I don’t. But when do you ever think of the bad stuff when it’s all going good? You don’t. I think about it when I get angry about certain issues I have. For example, when you count carbs, take your insulin and do everything right, just to have your blood glucose still high, that’s when I think, I have no control over this! Who says I’ll survive when my body isn’t reacting the way I want it to?!

No one can possibly save me from this whole ordeal if it’s not myself. My mind, at this point, is the master of my body and my method of survival. It’s all in my head. Isn’t that strange? It’s strange that as diabetics, we have to learn how our bodies work, what it’s trying to tell us and what we should do to fix it.

Take for example, if I feel a headache coming on, I know there’s a chance my blood sugar is high. Oddly enough, along with that, I can feel dryness in my eyes, which is another way I know my blood sugar’s high. These two symptoms are due to dehydration. When blood sugar goes up, urination increases, releasing fluids from the system, increasing thirst, exhaustion and headaches. See how that works? I know what I did wrong, what my body is lacking and how to fix it.

If I feel this, I know, “Check blood sugar right away!” and it honestly sucks when I get a headache and find out my blood sugar is normal. Why? Because I can’t do anything to fix it unless it involves other medication.

I’m lucky I pay attention. That’s the issue. People don’t pay enough attention to what their bodies are doing or saying to them. As diabetics, we urinate a ton, no lie. But if you go more frequently than necessary, something’s up.

So my advice for this week, diabetic or not, is PAY ATTENTION! There are things your body reacts to that you don’t even know about. Watch it before it’s too late to actually do something about it, get sick or just plain feel bad.

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Reality Check: How long is forever?

Today I decided to take a day off. I’m always doing something, always going somewhere, but today, I wanted to spend time at home, clean and go grocery shopping. It’s the simple things in life sometimes that make the rest worthwhile, right? It could also be that I needed a mental health day because yesterday I was so distracted and all over the place.

I walked into the fiscal department at work yesterday only to see Tish Parker in her corner. Tish and I met at our new employee orientation and since then she makes the effort to occasionally stop by my closet of an office to say hi, I return the gesture. I found out that she, too, is a writer although of the fictitious genre. When I walked in, she said hi, always greeting me with a beautiful smile and called me over. She pointed to my pump and asked what it was. Apparently her sister-in-law is also diabetic and uses a pump but she didn’t put two and two together until I explained it to her. She thought it was an MP3 player of some sort and I said, well, at least you didn’t think it was a throwback and call it a pager.

I started explaining how the pump is used and how it works to a point when she asked, “So it’s forever?” And when she said that, I didn’t know how to take it and said, “Well, I change it every three days, but yes, I’m most likely going to have to use it forever.” Which put my mind into a whirlwind. Forever.

Or until there’s a cure, but at this point, I feel that I will not live to see one. The fact of the matter is, I will be connected to this contraption for the rest of my life, something I didn’t fully wrap my head around until she said it. I knew I would have to take shots forever, that was easy to come by, yet thinking about it now, the pump does feel temporary although it isn’t. It’s forever.

It took me back to the day that I found out I was actually diabetic. My mom called me over to check my blood sugar, which at the time, I didn’t understand. I knew I had to do it because the doctors said so, but the significance behind it, I didn’t quite comprehend yet. We were about to have dinner when my mom pricked my pointer finger to squeeze out some blood. “Mom,” I said looking up at her, “am I going to have to do this for the rest of my life?” I think the question broke her heart.

What did that mean? FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. As a grew up, I looked into what the rest of my life was going to be like. It went something like this: Over time you will lose your eyesight, be at risk for cardiac problems, get amputations and die. Fun, huh? Well, everyone dies, right? I already knew that part. But dying prematurely is what gets everyone. As a diabetic, five years is already cut off my life span. So if I was going to live until 100, I’d die at 95. That’s cool. I’ll take it.

The issue is that throughout my younger years, no one told me straight out what being diabetic meant. No one explained the repercussions, the decisions I’d have to make, the consequences. It was just, “If you don’t stop…” or “If you don’t cut back…” Doctors didn’t try to make living with the disorder easier, they were just trying to make me stop living.

Now it’s, “If you don’t control…” or “If you don’t lower your A1c…” The same tactics that are used today were used with me back then, as a child. Awful. They scared me into being healthy, they didn’t teach me how it all worked. They were passing down the stresses of having a diabetic child to my parents who thought they had done something wrong. They didn’t try to expand on my forever, they scared me into thinking about forever and living a terrible, terrible life of pain agony and losing my legs. It was also the 90s. I’d like to think times have changed.

But yes, to my dismay, I’m going to be connected to this little purple machine for the rest of my life. At this point, I can only think of having something smaller but never not having anything at all. I see it as a benefit. We’ve transitioned from a pump that you had to carry around in a backpack to a little thing that looks like a pager. Brilliant. Let’s see where life leads us next. What does your FOREVER look like?

 

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For Diabetics: Be Good To Your Dogs

My mom loves the family dog. He actually started off as a stray on the street and my aunt who’s a Chicago Police officer found him as a puppy and asked if we wanted him. My parents had always told me no, but when I was heading off to college, thought the dog would be a perfect replacement for me and kept him as a distraction for my sister.

Mr. Benjamin Brown-Rodriguez

She named him Benji and he was brown. I added on. His full name? Mr. Benjamin Brown-Rodriguez. He was the cutest little thing and he peed everywhere and tore everything else up. We didn’t know how old he was, so typically we celebrate his birthday every fourth of July. We welcomed him into our home in September about six years ago.

Like I said, my mother loves him. You can tell. He’s fat. He’s also spoken to like a child, although he’s technically 42 in dog years and he listens like a little human. He’s part of the family as any other dog would be after that amount of time, hanging around and eating everything you don’t want.

When we first got him, my parents felt that he should eat like a human too. About three times a day. When he started getting too big for himself– or better yet, when he started being able to sit on his butt like a human, the doctor said no more. “You can’t keep feeding him. You have to walk him. He won’t be able to walk correctly if he gets any fatter.”

Like any other Latino family, my mother says, “Awww, he’s not fat!” when in reality, he’s a chubster. Don’t get me wrong, people love him for it and he’s dropped weight since, but still, he’s big for the kind of dog he is. Oh, and like Latino families, mine don’t listen and at times give the dog table food behind my sister’s back. When she sees it, she gets rough.

“Maaaaooom!!! I told you not to give him any more food! He already ate! You’re going to kill him!”

Yeah, that, or get diabetes. It’s hard enough having one diabetic in the family, let alone a dog that you have to give shots to. I’m sure they could do it though. But just in case you didn’t know, pets can get diabetes too, especially because they’re over weight and yes, you would have to give them insulin shots like a person would have to take.

I was inspired to write this post because a friend of mine on Twitter said that he has to put his cat down today.

@rudym55: Not a good day. Putting my cat, Rico to sleep. He’s got diabetes. Today SUCKS.

As someone who has seen this in animals before I said to just give him the shots, which he replied were too expensive and that Rico was too old. It’s sad to see pets go, especially when you’ve had them for so long.

So here we go. In my research I came across a page from Washington State University that describes the reasons why pets get diabetes.

“Certain conditions predispose a dog or cat to developing diabetes. Animals that are overweight or those with inflammation of the pancreas are predisposed to developing diabetes. Some drugs can interfere with insulin, leading to diabetes.”

The animals can develop diabetes at all ages like humans, and is usually found twice as much in female dogs and male cats, which I found interesting. Although cats have the option of oral medication, only shots work on dogs.

According to an article on petplace.com, dogs too have a Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Mostly all cases, though, are Type 1. As in humans, diabetes is not sexist nor breedist. It affects both male and female dogs and of all types.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, the cause of diabetes was found through experimentation on dogs. According to Islets of Hope, a site with information dedicated to diabetes, Polish-German physician Oscar Minokowski removed a dog’s pancreas in 1889. It was then that they made the connection between the pancreas and diabetes because the dogs urine contained sugar. They noticed this because of flies feeding on the urine.  For decades after that, dogs were used in multiple experiments that pertained to islets (little groups of cells that produce insulin) and insulin secretion. Many dogs were pancreatectomized (had their pancreas removed) for these tests.

So for you diabetics out there, take care of your animals and pets because without them, we wouldn’t be alive today.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Food, Health, History, Insulin, Latinos, Personal, Stories