I was reasonably calm–eating dinner in the garage inside my car, the dish wasn’t getting a signal in the storm–trying to figure out if a tornado could drop close to my house. As I tune in, I hear what I’m conditioned to hear, “This is crazy. Stuff is flying everywhere. You won’t believe this, another tornado is on the ground in Moore.”
That’s where I grew up. We’ve been through May 3rd, May 20th, and countless other “get in the shelter” moments. I currently live about 20 miles north of Moore in Oklahoma City, a place that missed the twisters last night. Moore was not so lucky, again. Voodoo. Yet, as a family member of mine put it, “I wasn’t freaking out this time. I knew it was only an F1, so we were calm. The fence is down and I think we lost a few shingles but I’m heading to bunko.” Continue reading →
Since my diagnosis date 31 years ago, I’ve had this little dark cloud that follows me. Most days I forget it’s there or meditate to leave it behind, but it recently returned. In a recent post, Does Diabetes Limit Your Career Path, I mention a message we received from a lovely woman suffering from diabetic retinopathy (DR). Her message really hit home.
Three days after writing Does Diabetes Limit Your Career Path, Ryan and I had our eyes tested by Dr. Jacob T. Smith, of Classic Vision. We had a lengthy discussion and reviewed a few images of DR and other diabetes related complications found in the eye. Post discussion, I jump in the hot seat and images were taken of both of my eyes. Ryan grabbed his camera to film Dr. Smith’s comments, which started with something like, “Would you like me to sugar coat the situation?”
Since joining the DOC (diabetes online community), I am continually impressed by the uplifting encouragement dished out daily. Really though, it’s amazing. It usually goes a little something like this:
Person 1 on Twitter: “I seriously hate being high! I’m so sick and tired of my pump clogging. It’s all my fault for not changing the site! #theworldisending”
Person 2 responding to Person 1 on Twitter: “It’s not your fault! Things just happen. Remember, this will pass and your sugar will be good in no time! #keepyourheadup” Continue reading →
Diabetes does not leave. It’s the last person at the party, but that person happens to stay forever. It’s always there. The way we live our life often reflects directly onto how we manage our diabetes. The whole body is connected and our blood sugar is a huge indicator of its health. Meditation is in vogue. I read online daily about how someone has changed their life with meditation. It’s powerful. And yeah, it has effects on the diabetes life too.
Here’s a look at the four things I’ve witnessed since jumping on the bandwagon:
1) You now have the power to pause.
Space enters between an event and our reaction. Instead of immediately jacking 5 units of insulin into my body after a surprise 300 sugar, I can assess where I would like my blood sugar to be in two hours. It helps take my reactions from immediate to long-term gratification.
2) Trends become your friends and the body becomes your ally.
When you’re mindful of your brain’s activity and can consciously watch your thoughts, sensing your blood sugar’s direction becomes intuitive. When I start to go low or even trend downward, I feel my mind switch into fear and anxiety mode. I can sense that better than any physical sign. Yet, if I have 17 different things on my mind and am running around like chicken with its head cut off, I lose the blood sugar intuitive sense.
The DDG received a heartfelt message from a woman who has dominated diabetes for 60+ years. I wept while listening because SO much of her message hit home. She described her passion for art and successful career as an artist while battling diabetic retinopathy. Feeling defeated by a recent trip to the eye doctor, she couldn’t enjoy a single moment of her exhibition. Diabetes had robbed her of happiness and replaced it with a dark cloud. Could she still be an artist if/when she lost her eyesight?
I rarely talk about it, but I was fortunate to receive vocational rehabilitation to assist me with my tuition, books, etc. Even though I was thankful for the help, I was limited as to what I could study and art was on that list. Continue reading →
The date was January 28th, 1984 and I was on my to way to Dr. Abbott’s office because my mom was worried. I’d lost 8 lbs. and word on the street, I went from being an obedient, sweet child to a total nightmare. I demanded eating and freaked out if I was denied food or drinks. I have NO recollection of this part of my life. My 600+ blood sugar confirmed my doctor’s worst fear, I had Type 1 diabetes. Dr. Abbott cried as she explained what this meant. My only response was, “You mean no more Snickers?” My mom was given two choices:
Lunch is over. You just scarfed down your kale, blueberry, chia seed, sprouted black bean, and quinoa salad. Yay you. After leaving the break room, feeling quite proud of your lunch choice in comparison to your coworkers’ chicken fingers, you take some insulin. This does happen to be your first time packing and eating this meal, after breaking the chicken finger habit, yesterday.
Anyway, emails popping up in the corner of your computer monitor catch your attention. You answer a few. Feeling good. Then, you begin to feel overwhelmed. Here come the thoughts sneaking into your consciousness: “How can I possibly answer all of these emails? Why don’t these people take care of their own $hit? I hate this job. I’m not very good at this. I’m going to get fired. It’s over.” Continue reading →
My bruised right hand has an IV port continuously putting something called insulin in my body. This is first time in weeks where I haven’t had to take a leak. A nurse just told me that I will be pricking myself and taking shots for the rest of my life – pretty sweet news as a nine year old. My parents look completely distraught, drained by the question, “Is this our fault?” Some diabetes educator hands me a book on how to have courage and count carbohydrates. That’s a cool word but I have no idea what it means. Now my endocrinologist reenters the room asking an important question, “Ryan, now it’s time to test your blood sugar. Would you like to prick yourself or would you like your parents to do it for you?” I look up into the caring, worried eyes of my parents. I gaze down at my hands. I make eye contact with my physician and say, “Give me the damn needle.” Continue reading →
I like to think that books allow another mind into my own. Life’s about growth. To me, books can be that stimulus. These are not books written about the diabetic journey. These are books about life. From my experience, diabetes goes as my life goes.
2014 was a year to remember, with these five books serving as my guide:
I walked away asking myself one question: “Will I do everything in my power to chase my dreams? Do I have what it takes?” Through the eyes of a young shepherd looking for his treasure, it encourages you to join the journey.
So, this is touchy. Just thinking about an A1C test can make your pulse go up. It defines us. Should it? There’s an argument for both sides–but at the end of the day–yeah, it goes a long way towards determining future complications. In speaking with my CDE (certified diabetes educator), we broached the likelihood of complications topic. This was my question, “What’s the A1C number where complications (foot, kidneys, eyes) are unlikely?” She responded by saying 7 or below.
Alright, according to this calculator, we need to be averaging a sugar of 153 to make it happen.
It seems straight-forward. Keep your sugar below 153 and life is good. Here’s where it gets dicey.
We all have a number–a number where we feel our best. Energized. Competent. Compassionate. That’s the real number. That’s the number that stands alone outside of our targets. This number has been sculpted from years of diabetes education, lessons learned, scars, and regret. For me, I feel like I can save the world at 140. Below it, I wouldn’t say that I feel low, but I would say that feel anxiety. Above it, I feel alright until about 180. Continue reading →
After an incredibly busy couple of weeks, I chose to take a “mental health” day. As I delved into numerous articles and posts I had been hoarding in hopes of one day reading, I finally chipped away at the stack. My first article was published in October by the AARP focusing on Type 2 diabetes. Shortly after reading it, I phoned my mother and reached out to Ryan and a fellow DDG writer. The article touched on how important, yet how rarely your mental state and spirituality (vital for a healthy lifestyle) are talked about. So in a time of holiday craziness, this post is short and sweet because I feel the message is clear and a good one to start your Monday. Continue reading →
Anointed by the Huffington Post, mindfulness is the 2014 word of the year. As we enter the final month, in honor of the word, I thought I’d apply the idea to diabetes management. In short, mindfulness is knowing what you’re doing and thinking and why you’re doing and thinking it. Today, we can be mindful in these three ways:
1) When checking blood sugar, only check your blood sugar.
Don’t combine this activity with the barrage of life as we know it: conversation, social media, talking on the phone, etc. Why? Being attentive while making management choices gives empowerment and the opportunity to learn. After demolishing everything in the cupboard, it’s important to know how you got to this place. This is hard but a game changer. Continue reading →
I’ll do my best not to curse throughout this post as my mother recently mentioned I could use more appropriate language. I am incredibly thankful for my medical insurance and for the first time had to call in my prescription for Lantus, an insulin I HAVE to take every single day. In fact, my alarm goes off at 6:11am every morning to remind me to inject this precious drug. I would not be alive without Lantus. Here is where shit hits the fan.
10 days ago I called in my prescription for Lantus
2 hours later I receive a text – prescription is available to pick up and cost $150. I question this amount because Novolog costs $100.
Next Day – I have an argument with the pharmacy because they’re out of test strips AND insurance wouldn’t cover them.
Test strips = $298+
Please note my recent post, Halloween Highs & Lows, about having to test every 45 minutes during my high blood sugar scare.
How does this whole diabetes thing play out when we date people? Do we address it early? Do we conceal it for several months? It can be complicated. It certainly weighs heavily on the minds of many an insulin-dependendent. Hopefully the next four tips will shed some light on the diabetes dating scenario.
1) On a first date or encounter, avoid the cliche “I should probably tell you something” line.
You don’t have kids (well maybe you do) or a sexually transmitted disease (well… yeah, my apologies if you do). Don’t make a big deal out of it. Let it come up naturally–like when your CGM wakes them up at 3AM. Continue reading →
Periodically, I’ll ask Amber about a recent observation about my own T1D life, “When X happens, do you feel like X?” She promptly shoots me a quizzical glance and responds, “You always say things like this to me and I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced that specifically.” If you’re not following me yet, be patient, this is where diabetes gets weird.
Our bodies are complicated. The king of this complexity is the nervous system–especially the sensory feedback. Being a T1D presents unique insights into the nervous system. These insights are everywhere.If you listen carefully, you find your language. Your language is different than mine. It’s full of clues. What drives the language? Blood glucose levels. Continue reading →
So I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve been doing quite a bit of spiritual homework for the past couple of years. I often talk about this journey with Ryan and my close friends – but today I announce to the world a milestone – my Sacred Wound. In previous posts I mention my new found ability to talk about diabetes and today I had a moment of clarity – Diabetes has been my Sacred Wound and I’m ready to release it.
This journey began in early 2013 when I realized (was informed) my soul energy was at about 30% on a good day.
I immediately started to beat myself up because this is my fault and how in the hell am I going to increase my energy….. I started reading. I did a ton of research and won’t bore you with the audio books, mediations and practices, but the journey continues to bring new things to light. A book I started about two months ago, “Calling In The One” by Katherine Woodward Thomas is my newest read. I HATE the title, but have thoroughly enjoyed the concept and homework. The homework for Lesson #12 is what brought me to write this post. Continue reading →
I want to start by saying this post is filled with curse words and real emotions, so if you are easily offended – STOP reading now. This photograph sums up my thoughts on how I feel about diabetes. My weekend was a shitshow of highs and lows and I DID NOT consume a single piece of fucking candy. I’ve created a timeline of events so you can understand how everything diabetes worked against me.
11am – Have an incredibly stressful meeting where I could feel my blood pressure rise. I acted calmly and only broke down in the privacy of my office. Heated discussions soon followed and I took the rest of the afternoon to fester.
With the CGM alongside, I now understand the speed at which insulin operates. Yesterday evening, my glucose trended up towards 200. I corrected with a unit of insulin. At the moment, I was attempting to study, which invariably leads to a search for any excuse not to study. Insert CGM. I kept looking to see if the insulin was working. It didn’t initially. Fifteen minutes later, I could see the readings crest and begin trending downwards. This is the indicator to stop giving insulin unless you enjoy being low, or well… crazy. Continue reading →
I received the Type 1 diagnosis 15 years ago. Since, announcements about an artificial pancreas, pancreas transplants, and various stem cell developments, have disappointed. I understand that these have all been important developments. I get that we’re getting somewhere. Yes, the future is bright. How about today? Still filled with diabetes. It’s been easier to casually follow the research without getting invested, attempting to appreciate what’s happening in research. Continue reading →
High blood sugar sucks. Really though, it changes who you are. You become angrier. Patience has no meaning anymore. The idea of a nap rules over everything else in the world. Things that you love, my example would be cycling, sound detestable. Someone could ask me to go cycling and I’d want to respond with “I hate bicycles!”.
Okay, I know you get it. So how do we still function as human beings while high? I have a few hacks that I’ve learned via trial by fire over the 15 #blessed years of my life:
1) Repeat “Life is impermanent. How you feel now, will soon change.”
– Just reminding myself that all will be okay again is reassuring. It’s easy for us to believe that our current struggle will last forever but it’s just not reality. It always gets better. Continue reading →
I spent 12 days in Children’s Hospital and was lucky to have met a few fellow sick kids. One in particular humbles me to this day. John woke up every morning and blasted Thriller on his record player. I didn’t mind waking up to that song, but God it was early. John was a permanent resident because his parents abandoned him due to his condition and insane medical bills. I am not sure how long he had been there, but his room was a bedroom, not a hospital room and the nurses treated him like a son.
I have no idea what was wrong with him, but he was in a wheelchair and had a number of tubes coming out of every part of this body. I was pissed about the one IV – ridiculous. I couldn’t help staring at the hole in his neck and he explained at some point in me stalking him that it was the only way he could breath. The tube and the snotty nose were pretty appalling, but it didn’t keep me from visiting him every day. Continue reading →
I’ll admit that I could be more without diabetes. Not acknowledging that, to be blunt, is ignorant. Don’t mistake me, I subscribe to the power of positive thinking, knowing that it improves the quality of each moment. However, I will not use that methodology to convince myself that my life is better with the disease.
Diabetes is a grind, never ceasing. Yet, it’s forged who we are. Most of us will give it responsibility for great things in our lives. Still though, deep down, on occasion or daily, we ask the question, “Could we be more without it?” Being content knowing that we could, that’s the Zen in diabetes. Continue reading →
No, I have not been paid off. No, I am not in the pockets of big pharma. No, I do not purchase all prescriptions from Walgreens. Yet, my perspective on pharmacy refills took a turn for the grateful last week with the singular effort of one pharmacist.
In accordance with a common theme, I was looking to pickup a prescription right as I need it. Picking up a prescription early has never crossed my mind. Due to some insulin resistance from scar tissue (referenced here), I made the switch back to the pens (Lantus and Novolog). When I called Walgreens expecting it to be ready within the next hour, relayed to me was the news that each prescription would be costing $150 under my coverage (BCBS Oklahoma under HealthCare.gov). Continue reading →
In one year, my life with type 1 diabetes changed in ways I never thought possible.
After 12 months of eating a plant-based diet, my insulin needs decreased by 50%. As a 24 year old with Type 1 diabetes, I injected on average 60 units of insulin per day. Now at 25, I dial up 30 units per day. While defying conventional wisdom, I achieved these results while doubling my carbohydrate intake – effectively increasing carbohydrate consumption from 100 to 200 grams per day.
For those not familiar with Type 1 diabetes, let me clarify. People with Type 1 diabetes make no insulin. Every carbohydrate I eat is compensated for with insulin. We with diabetes do not know why our pancreas went on permanent vacation, but it did. I can exercise, eat right, and meditate until the proverbial cows come home, and I will still be using insulin.
How then, can we explain that I am eating more carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes) but taking less insulin? Continue reading →
I came across a recent article, The Truth About the Ice Bucket Challenge by VOX.com, that sparked a bit of anger. As someone in the non-profit world, charitable gifts are a HUGE component to the success of your organization or cause, and in my industry we have to be transparent as to what the donation will be used for (capital improvements, programming, general operation expenses, etc). The recent ALS challenge and the statistics from this article brought that gut wrenching question to the surface – where is this money going? Will it focus on finding a cure or just advancing methods/medications to treat the disease. Both are very important, but my blood begins to boil knowing that a few companies actually benefit from the focus being on medications instead of a cure. Continue reading →
Since my diagnosis date, I only recall a handful of occasions when I’ve actually addressed my thoughts about having diabetes. I’ve allowed my anger to surface when an uncomfortable situation personally or professionally reared it’s head. I knew it was 100% this damn disease – BUT I never shared my inner thoughts and consumed myself with anxiety and hate. I’ve always been amazed that my physicians could break down the chemistry of my very being (carb ratios, correction factor, etc), but my mental state was never even brought up. No one ever told me it was okay to be angry!
As an adult, I choose to address the dark rooted fears and feelings of utter universal defeat. I had allowed the negative thoughts and energy to fester, effecting every part of my life. One day when I have the courage, I’ll write about the moments that broke me and allowed me cry in the dark – wondering… WHY ME? The Diabetes Daily Grind has fueled my desire to address my feelings. I hope our stories will help you reach a new level of self acceptance.
When the negative thoughts try to creep in, I do my best to face them by practicing the following: Continue reading →
Sometimes, in lieu of a cure, all diabetics want is consistency—a simple assurance that when we go to bed and our blood sugar is 130, we will wake to a number in the 100s. A hope that when we eat the same breakfast each morning, take the same insulin amount, and control all other meaningful factors, our blood sugar will react similarly day-to-day. What happens when that doesn’t happen? What happens when you eat that same breakfast you’ve always ate, take the same insulin, and your sugar is at 320? Continue reading →
Here’s John after finishing a recent half marathon
John before the T2D diagnosis
A new lease on life!
Hiking in Colorado
Hiking out in Utah!
The DDG wants to share the stories of fellow diabetic warriors. Meet John B., a Type 2 diabetic who used the diagnosis as a catalyst to transform his life.
DDG: Dude, what are you all about?
JB: I have type 2 diabetes. It is a disease of choice and I choose not to live with the symptoms anymore. I will work hard, play outside in God’s playground, be present and I choose life! That is what I’m about.
DDG: Tell us about your diagnosis day.
JB: I was diagnosed November 30, 2011. I hadn’t been feeling well and I suspected diabetes, so I went in for some blood work. Dr. Ratliff called to tell me that my A1c was critically high and my blood sugar was 434. I have Type 2 diabetes and had apparently had it for quite some time. That was the most important date in my life because it allowed me to move forward with purpose, and live my life by my rules. I just had to learn what those rules would be. I decided the minute I hung-up the phone that I was going to live, not only live, I was going to thrive! As Andy Dufresne (Shawshank Redemption) said, “Get busy living, or get busy dying”. Continue reading →
Viacyte, a San Diego based regenerative health/drug company, set off ripples of hope and relief in the diabetes community. We’ve been dreaming of drinking coffee without blood sugar spikes, running an hour without being low for the next hour, and not having to smother my pump’s low battery alarm during meetings.
Here’s a quick review of the announcement—Viacyte is moving forward with an application, to the FDA, to initiate Phase I/II clinical trials in Type 1 diabetes patients. They’re testing safety and efficacy of an implantable device that secretes insulin through enclosed stem cells, turned to pancreatic beta cells, effectively removing the need for diabetics to take insulin. Found on Viacyte’s website, here’s their grandiose take on the product’s possibilities:
“In short, ViaCyte’s VC-01 combination product has the potential to transform the way diabetes care is managed. The product could be a virtual cure for type 1 diabetes and an important new therapy for insulin-requiring type 2 diabetes.”
June marked the 2nd marathon I’ve run in two months. I don’t feel special, nor am I dawning a 26.2 sticker on my car. I run because I find that running is good for the soul. Nevertheless, I hope through sharing a few training tips and race tricks I can inspire more people with diabetes to lace ‘em up.
Here’s how the average training week looked over the previous three months:
M – Off
T – 6 miles (Some kind of interval training)
W – Cross Training (Yoga, cycling, etc.)
Th – 6 miles (Ran at marathon race pace)
F – Off
Sa – 4 miles (10K pace)
Su – 10 to 20 miles (15-30 seconds slower than marathon pace) Continue reading →
Saturday nights can take one of two paths. Path number one is the relaxed, free-flowing night – most likely a result of people not going out the night before. Path number two is the forced and tired means of searching for something night – a result of either going out the night before, a grinding week in the office, or a low blood sugar… Continue reading →
This dish was incredible. A vegan dream. So much kale. So many forms of protein outside of meat. So much creativity on display due to operating on an empty pantry. And then it turned for the worst… Continue reading →
So my dad was recently diagnosed with cancer. Don’t get me wrong, cancer is a total nightmare, but balancing all of his other medical conditions and medications has presented quite the challenge for my mother and his team of doctors. He is a Type 2 diabetic, has high blood pressure, heart problems…and the list goes on and on. After a solid month of dentists and small surgeries, he was cleared to begin a radiation – chemo combo. Continue reading →
It haunts us. It’s almost indescribable but you know the feeling. Described as anxiety, lack of focus, restlessness, or the time when you act like a person you aren’t. It doesn’t happen when you’re blood sugar’s high. It doesn’t happen when you’re blood sugar’s low. It strikes when your blood sugar is in the twilight zone: 70-90.
We know the signs of being high – foggy eyes, agitation, thirst, etc. We know the signs of being low – nonsensical hunger, dizziness, fatigue, etc. In the twilight zone, it’s really hard to recognize any signs. It isn’t a physical sensation except for perhaps a faster heart rate. Particularly, it’s purely mental, the inability to control your thoughts. Allow a monk on a mountainside in Tibet thirty minutes in the middle zone and he’ll never be the same. Continue reading →
Count your carbs – take your insulin. This is the mirage we chase tirelessly every day.
Here’s how the situation usually places out. Tuesday I wake up and my blood sugar is say 80. Not where I like to wake up but not a low blood sugar that slows down my mind all morning. I make a blueberry banana smoothie with a scoop of protein powder. Looking at bolusing for about 45-50 carbs by my count. I send 3 units in through the pump. Feel great all morning. Blood sugar looks good at lunch. I OWN THIS DISEASE!
Flash forward to Wednesday. I wake up. Make the exact same smoothie. Blood sugar is at 123 this time. Given the higher blood sugar, I take 3.5 units of insulin. By 9AM, in mid-lesson, I feel that wave of anxiety and insecurity move through me. Words and coherent thought escape me. You guys know how that sweat feels. Here we go – blood sugar is at 70. What just happened? Continue reading →
Before high school football games, my blood sugar was manic – 110 during warm-ups and then 315 by gametime (I used to pee at least 10 times in the two hours before a game. Great for in-game hydration). Intuitively, I knew stress/adrenaline/anxiety/excitement was responsible, but honestly I just read the number and reacted as best I could. Physicians would always mention adrenaline as the culprit. Was I ever given resources to reign in my excitement? Not exactly.
When I began taking medical school prerequisite courses in college, the dots connected. Cortisol is the X factor of diabetes management. Responsible for the random highs. Responsible for the sugar issues with the flu. Responsible for the elevated sugars before the big presentation.Responsible for elevated sugar after your cup of coffee.Responsible for the 300 number after a two hour run. Continue reading →
I believe I was in the 4th grade and had a pretty good handle on what was expected in this new life with diabetes. I kept Cheez-It’s in my desk and a secret stash of graham crackers in the office. Cheez-It’s were for my afternoon snack and the grahams were to be eaten before PE or in an emergency. I tried to keep these things on the “down-low” because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.
Well – word got out that I had snacks in my desk. The class bully/jackass, Blaine, made it a point to bring this to everyone’s attention. I was humiliated. The teacher figured out what was going on and quickly shut down the hurtful comments. Later that day or maybe later that week, I chose to no longer be embarrassed about my snacks. Continue reading →