Tag Archives: acitivities.

When Giving Advice

I’ve been reading post on twitter for a while now. A lot currently are on political issues. I kind of take these on a side note. They are people opinions of the facts they are presented and most of all believe and trust. The election and subsequent statements in speeches and on twitter are a good point. Some believe the president’s points and other do not. I’m not here to chat about those problems though. My issue is the diabetic on diabetic degradation and giving advice and the seeming hurt feeling when someone doesn’t accept it. This may seem a little blunt but get over it. I’ve both given and taken advice from more people than I can possibly remember. There are two things one needs to keep in mind when either giving are receiving this advice.

First, you must remember that everyone is not created equal. Therefore, what works for one does not necessarily work for all. It may work but not as well. Take the advice and decide if you want to try it or not. Does it seem to fit your lifestyle? Does the science seem sound? OK science is the same for everyone but do the facts seem to agree with what you know? Can a diet cure a genetic issue? What I know of, it does not. Are you willing to try it and experiment with it to see if it is a fit for you? I have heard so much on cutting back carbs to prevent needing more insulin instead of rationing your supplies or to stabilize your sugar levels. If you cut back on carbs can you sustain your lifestyle? I work hard and on an average day will consume about 3400 calories. That is more than twice the amount most people I talk either do or will admit to eating. I used to eat about 4100 when I was younger and more active. I looked at a few sites for average calorie intake and was very surprised. One stated men could eat about 2200 a day and maintain their weight. Almost all the ones after adding the words diabetic to calories intake said from 1200 to 1800 calories a day. 50% of those calories should be from carbs. The math came out to 195 grams a day. I eat about 280 grams a day and have not lost or gained much in about 20 years. SO I consider myself maintaining my weight at 3400 calories a day and 280 grams of carbs each day. Low carb? What I can see tells me it just is not a sustainable issue for me. Will I loose weight? Oh without a doubt. Problem is what happens when your body gets a point where you have little to no fat left? Most people call it starvation. Your body will start to consume its own muscle to power itself. My point is that I could loose weight by going on one of these diet but I will need to come back off of it when I reach my goal. It is not a lifetime permanent diet for me. A metabolic endocrinologist told me during a consultation that a ketogenic diet was not a good fit for me since I was so active. It was more for office people than factory floor workers.

And most of all, if you are the one giving any advice, don’t get upset if the person says they aren’t going to try it or posts a different opinion on the subject. God gave us all free will to decide our own fate and it just seems wrong for man to try and take that power from us. Even if you firmly believe the person is wrong and will do damage to themselves, all you can do is try and give reasons to support your point of view. PLEASE do not stoop to name calling or other bullying tactics. It shows a grand display of insecurity about your own point of view. When I get it, I really take a good look at what was posted because I am immediately suspicious. I get a big kick out of someone who says “you should read this article it says (blank) and proves my point”. I read the mentioned article and low and behold it does say what they say it does. It also goes on to mention other issues that need to be looked at for it to work as well. One of the biggest offenders of this are articles on cures for diabetes. One if I have to change your lifestyle to prevent needing insulin I can’t call it a cure since the cause is still there. I am simply treating the symptom with a diet change or exercise change. If I stop, I go right back to where I was. As for the article itself, quite a few times somewhere in the article it actually says not tested on type 1 or not recommended for type 1 diabetes. IF your type 2 then by all means I do hope it works for you but I am not type 2 so it is not likely to give me the same results. I tolerate people who do not agree with me on a variety of subjects nor do I try to force them to adopt my views. Someone telling me I’m wrong and should be doing things their ways to live better is not going to earn them any points in my book. Will I listen? Of course. From my point in life I have this to say. A wise man is quiet and listens to everything said, a fool keeps talking to make his point heard. Listen to what the other person is saying, don’t just ignore them all together. On the other side of that is that you do not have to follow their advice. Take or leave it is commonly said in these situations. It fits perfectly.

The Same Yet Different

I just read a post from a woman who lives in the UK. She is also a diabetic as are many of the people I follow on twitter. Facebook is great for friends and such but twitter lets me find people who are like minded as far as my disease. Well I don’t go looking for them, Twitter finds them for me. I have some here in the States (one is on TWO of the new Dexcom G6 commercials) but quite a few are in the UK as well. I have learned as much from them as fellow diabetics here in the USDA.

The post I read was from a woman who yesterday ran a half marathon (10k) and finished it. Way to go!! Now some not familiar with diabetes may think so what. It’s only a half marathon and she didn’t finish first. Oh my good people, to me it is great that she even tried let alone did finish no matter what place it was.

Why? A diabetic knows the answer to that already, someone not so in touch with the problems of this disease may not. Let’s start with the basics. Diabetes is a disease where your body does not produce insulin to control your sugar levels in the blood. So a diabetic must double as their own pancreas since the one they were born with no longer works like it should. Normal people don’t get this as their body regulates it’s own insulin level. A diabetic has to do this the entire 24 hours of each day. It is a true 24 hour 7 day a week jobs and there are no vacation from this job. Now here is the first in lessons some don’t know. There are actually 2 types of diabetes and although they are both called diabetes they are very different creatures. Type 1 is insulin dependent and type 2 can still make it although not enough or sometimes the wrong chemical makeup, it doesn’t work right. There about 22 million diabetics here in the USA alone and out of those only a 10% section are type 1. That means I am one of about 2.2 million people here in the USA who depend on insulin to live. We do not make it on our own and so must take it several times each day. It is not a pill and though there has been some headway to make it easier, the only way to get it is to inject it through the skin.

“I’ve read that you can also inhale insulin.” There is only one and I do not know what complications it can cause or how effective it is. Most people, I do not know of any on this inhalable insulin, use injection. You can use pumps instead of needles but as some of my former coworkers can attest to, it is not a perfect solution. It also still goes through the skin. I was told years ago (decades really, I’m polishing my cane later) being a hormone insulin would not survive the human digestive tract hence it must be injected. As far as inhaling, I’d be more scared of an infection from that kind of delivery than an injection. In the 40+ plus years the only infection from insulin I’ve had is with a pump cannulas but it was on its 6th day instead of the 3 days recommended by the maker. I had to, sweated the first one off early so to make up I had to reuse the next one or I would have run out.

OK back to task, Type 2 diabetics are people whose body still makes insulin but it either makes not enough or the chemical makeup is not right and it does work as needed. Insulin does not actually control blood sugar but it unlocks the walls of cells so the sugar can get in and let the cell use it for energy. Think of it as a key for the lock on your cell wall door. If there is no key you don’t get in, if you don’t get in there is no power to run the cell and it will die. Type 2 can be controlled by pills or diet or both without needing insulin. Sadly, it can regress to the point where insulin may be needed anyway. My mom and both aunts where like after years with type 2.

Emma uses a pump and just to make things easier I will just say that if you have a hard time programming your universal remote a pump is not any easier and your remote won’t kill you if you screw it up. I don’t know her that well but I can guess from her post she does not run marathons on a daily basis. Here is another issue with diabetes, changing your routine is scary. I am far from a perfect diabetic but I try to eat at the same times and even the same foods on a rotating basis so I know how I react to each food and how many carbs are in each meal. Carbs are how diabetics count and calculate how much insulin they need for the food they eat. Each food has a certain amount of carbs that enter your body at different speeds and as a diabetic you need to be able to know how many are in each food and add them together and then calculate how many units of insulin you need. A pump can do this on its own but you still need to tell it how many carbs you are eating.

Since she was running a marathon her activity level was going to be so much higher than normal for her so she had to try and compensate for this. With a pump you can lower the background insulin you get on a temporary basis so she made the changes.

This where I noticed the biggest difference. She dropped her rate 2 units. Wow! My basal rate (background insulin) was at times only 0.250 units per hour! That equals 1 unit every 4 hours. There was no way I could have dropped it 2 units. Even as low as it was set, it still crashed my sugar level without extra work (running a marathon being as low as it can get on that list) and although it would shut off automatically,  I still needed to eat to bring it back up as it was low for hours after going low.

The other issue I noticed was when she described making corrections for a highs the morning of the race. Every diabetic has a rate to add extra units to prevent a high once it is started. Mine is 1 unit for every 50 points over 200. It used to be 2 unit back then when I was on the pump. She was correcting a 1/2 unit for less than 200. Amazing!

Reading about how she ran her diabetes compared to my treatment brought to mind what I frequently tell other diabetics. Everyone is different and has a different treatment routine. I have been telling people that for years now but I never had actually applied it to myself until reading that post. I had always thought I must have done or been doing something wrong to create this difference. I am me. I am not Molly, I am not Emma, I am not Amy, I am not any of the other diabetics I know.

I am not doing anything wrong I am merely doing things the way that works for me. MY correction rate works for me. My basal rates, well now doses, works for me. My diet works for me. It will not work for anyone else nor should it. I can try a technique I hear from someone but I will also need to test it to see if it will really work for me.

I can stop thinking “Why does this not work for me like others?” We, the other 2.2 million type 1 diabetics, have the same disease and share common problems and issues. Our solutions though are not and should be the same. They are unique to that person. Everyone is different and should follow their won path to control.

Showing Signs

Every year I add another birthday to the list. This last March I had my 24th 25th birthday. Yes. I am still 25 but I’ve had it 24 times (I’m not doing the math I don’t think my calculator goes that high 24+25). I also quit using the term celebrate, for two reasons.

First, there is no celebration, party or even special dinner. I try to get that day off work but it is not must have. Most people don’t know it’s there until someone posts about it. By the way, the day listed on my Facebook page is not true. It is in March but it is not the 1st. I don’t want people knowing what day it is. It really irritates me when employers feel it necessary to display my personal information on public boards. I asked to have it removed once and was told they couldn’t do it since they would have to change something in the computer (I think it was a program that automatically grabbed the information). I could have gone to court to have it removed, it is MY information anyway, but decided against it since it would only have added to the unwanted publicity.

Second, why would I celebrate getting older? When you are young, you enjoy getting older. You get old enough to drive, to vote, and to drink. When you get up there far enough it’s like whoa, slow down Nelly. I am loath to admit it but I am no longer as fast, strong, or active as I once was. Goin off 4 hours of sleep does not work well for me anymore.

Now there are advantages of reaching this point in life. My knowledge has grown with everything else. I know when to just sit back and not get excited about things, they will even out later. I know enough to pick my battles as I can’t win them all. I have so many job skills it is almost scary, I’ve been a railroad laborer, I’ve been a machinist, I’ve worked in a plastic conduit factory, I’ve worked in several different health care positions (both physical disability and mental health issues), and many factory positions just to name some of them. I get board easy so I like to move around when something gets to be routine. The other issue is that I can remember a lot about each job to quickly get back into it.

The down sides I have already talked about. I am no longer as strong as I once was. My mind tells me I can get back there if I work hard enough. My body give me an argument every time. I have been, still am, and always will be a believer in the human body’s ability to adapt and over come obstacles in life. It’s how body builders gain such size and strength. If you push the body to its breaking point, it grow back tougher and stronger than it was before. I believe it happens for both physical and mental aspects of life. After my shoulder surgery, they told me I may never be able to do a flat bench press again. Ha, ha, ha. Never tell me there is something I can’t do. A year and a half later, I was pushing 300 pounds for a max. I also got back to work in only 2 1/2 months. The doctor said it would be 3 months or maybe 6 months since I was a diabetic. I’d be lucky to get 190 up now I think. I have forgotten what the inside of the gym looks like anymore.

Speed is another down siding piece of my life. I was fairly fast in high school, for my size. I’ve always been big, broad shoulders and solid build. I never had to be fast as with that size as I didn’t bug me to get hit. I didn’t go looking for fights. My dad would have kicked my ass if I had. He had a short temper and I pushed it too far more than just once. I have inherited more than just my lack of model looks from him. I feel I have a better control of it though. I don’t beat on other people. I take it out on objects instead. This is going off on a tangent but this is why I fear a low so bad. I DO NOT want to be like my dad. When my sugar is low I get very combative and aggressive, kind of like dad. Like to think I have grown up better than that. Back to task, I am no longer as fast as I was back then either. Age has slowed not just the muscles but the response time as well. When I worked at a health care facility I was on a home with people who were very high functioning. They could eat on their own, go to the bathroom on their own, even do their own laundry with prompting. When they went off it was epic. Thrown chairs, phones, punched TV screens, and of course inanimate object were not the only thing they went after. It helped being fast and strong to deal with that kind of thing, ducking a punch or grabbing an arm before it hit someone else. It’s as much being able to talk to them and calm them as doing a take down. They will tell you that being calm yourself will help calm them down, it is not a lie. Knowing I could deal with almost anything that came my way helped keep me calm. I couldn’t do that anymore I believe.

As much as I’d like to believe it isn’t true, a person goes down hill later in life. You can’t stop it but you my be able to slow it down with practice and exercises but it will happen. Just a few years ago I was able to get by on just 3 hours of sleep, but now if it is less than 5 I get worn down. Having been a diabetic for nearly 41 years has only added to all the normal old age issues, joints going bad, eyes getting bad, and metabolism slowing down. That last one is one that may actually be a bonus. I have for many years now believed that my metabolism is higher or at least more reactive than most people. If I sit down my blood sugar spikes and when I start doing things again it drops. If it slows through aging will it magically level out? One can only hope.

One of the things I’ve heard people comment on with getting old is that you come into this world naked and helpless and that is how you go back out. Not the most politically correct terms but it is mostly true. After a certain age you starting loosing the skills and abilities you need to survive in this world. I am so looking forward to this, not. I’ve learned to be a fighter. I’ve learned to work hard to survive, all diabetics have to. I will tweak my life as I need to continue to live but there will come a point when it just will not work anymore. That does not mean I’m going to roll over and quit. Ever.

Making decisions for me

I just got done posting something along these lines on Facebook. I read a post that struck a cord with me. It was about not making decision to make others happy but to make yourself happy instead. I feel that comment strongly represents my outlook on life currently.

Why? I came to the conclusion a while ago that there is no one out there looking after me but me. So many decision I’ve made in the past have to help others or my workplace out. Can you work this day? Can you help me move this furniture? Can you tow my car/truck? Can you help fix this or that?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll help out the next guy (or girl) if I can but do not look at me with an evil eye if I say no. I’m not here on earth to make everyone else happy. Be it work, my health, my finances, or anyting else in my world it has to work for me whether others are happy about it or not.

In the past I have been for the most part silent when moved from place to place at work or asked to do extra tasks. In several jobs I have been cross trained in different duties because I pick things up quick. At a lawn mower manufacturer, I ended up cross trained on almost everything but welding. I worked in receiving, shipping, line material handler. parts picking, assmebly, weld parts picking, and was willing to do the other chores that got added over time. The breaking point was when they started to lay us off for months at time instead of only 2 weeks each year. I can not go without that insurance so I found another job and quit.

In my current job, I started as a material handler but was apparently not very good at as I was alwasy getting told all the mistakes I was making but never if I was doing anything right. OK it took me almost 3 years to earn a spot as a machinst but apparently I was not very good  it either. Always heard “you need to work faster” or “do we need to retrain you” so I must not have been very good at it. Funniest part was my coworkers thought I was doing a good job, it stopped there though. I found another position about a year later but even though it was going back the same job description I had before, material handler, I was demoted and had my pay cut but I was happier there so I took the position. Then just a few months ago I was forced into a position I had been cross trained in. When asked when I woud be able to go back to clearing tables I was told it was going to be permenant. Sadest part of it was I really liked clearing the tables. It was hard work, I think that is what I actually liked most about it but no one else seems to.

My solution was to ramp up my search for a new job. I had been looking since I reallized things were not going to get better in the machine shop years ago. I’m giving up 4 1/2 years of seniority and decent vacation but that senority does not seem to mean much since I was the one forced into a position I did not want. I had been told a few times that I was good and people seemed to request me to do these many different things because of that. Now I am stuck in a postion that I am happy to fill in on temp basis but it is not temporary change.

I can’t stop there. Work is not the only place I have made my own decisions which do not always agree with those around me. My healthcare is a big sticking point as well. For many years my now former endocrinologist and I had discussions or maybe even closer to arguements about what my treatment was or where my treatment was going to go. I was talked twice into trying a pump but both times it ended up not going well. She told me just like at work what I was doing wrong all the time but she did not realize I was not a “normal” diabetic. We finally got to that point when after the second pump didn’t work she had me tested and admitted she didn’t know what to do with me. I left her care shortly after as it didn’t seem she was really listneing to me. I had been telling her I was not normal since I first met her. I argued against the pump but after promises were made I agreed. After it failed to stop lows and ended up raising my A1C, we argued about where to go. She wanted to set me up on a med that she apparently forgot she had me try before going back to the pump again. I ended the argement by starting back on the same insulin I had been on before without her complete agreement.

OK, the point I am making is that I am the only one truely looking out for me. Employers will look at what is best for them, doctors on what is best for them, and friends for what is best for them. I don’t fault them too much for it but I can’t just sit there and let them decide my fait as they are not going to live it, I am. Getting my pay cut and placed into a position which I did not want pushes my decision to go elsewhere. The doctor pushing me to try a pump the second time then seeming to fight me getting off it, even though she said she woud support that decision, made me find another doctor.

My opinions are not meant to match anyone else’s as they are for me, not them, and they do not live my life. You can have your opinion as it should fit your life but not anyone else’s. We are all different and have different needs. If I can I will help you out but don’t expect me to surrender control of my life to make yours easier or to agree to your opinion. My decision are made by me for me, not you.

Damned If You Do Damned If You Don’t

I wrote a post a little while ago on Facebook and got a few comments back that showed me a need to explain diabetes and what causes it. I’m not dissing or throwing shade on anyone (modern young person terms) because I looked online and was horrified by what I found. The 2 type of diabetes are thrown together and made to seem like they one disease of which type one was the worse than the other. From my view point they are in reality 2 different but related diseases. Type 1 is caused by a bad gene called SIRT1 gene and it causes an autoimmune response in which the body’s immune system kills off the beta cells that create insulin. Type 2 is more of an environmentally caused disease. Being overweight, not eating good balanced diets, not exercising, and yes genetics also are all noted for causing this disease. The biggest difference between them is using insulin to control it. Type 2 diabetics can control it without insulin for quite a while. I have an aunt who has had for longer than I have but was able to control it with diet and pills only for decades before it progressed into needing insulin to control her sugar level.

I was never that lucky. I was 8 when I was diagnosed with type1 diabetes. I ate my veggies (not so much now lol) and was very, very active back then so diet and exercise get thrown out the window right off the bat. Nor was I fat back then. I spent too much time riding my bike all over town to eat all the time and sit in front of the TV. My body’s immune system killed off the beta cells that made my insulin. I had a test run last year (after the last pump failure) to see if I was actually type 1. I am. My body does not make any of its own insulin nor do I have any binding antibodies in my blood. Those are another possible causes of the issues I had been experiencing.

Now on to the “cures” for diabetes. The plain and simple fact is there is no cure for diabetes, type 1 or type 2. Yes type 2 and even type 1 can be controlled BETTER by taking certain herbs and medicines. The oldest one I heard of is garlic. It actually contains the vitamins that help insulin act more efficiently. The only issue to me is that if you need to take garlic additives or add more of it to your diet you weren’t eating enough in the first place.

Now as far as curing type 1 diabetes, there is no cure and I do not have much hope I will see one in my lifetime. The true cause of diabetes is the reason for my lack of hopeful thinking. Since it is caused by a bad gene even if you used stem cell research to make new beta cells what will stop your body from once again destroying them? The only true fix is to fix the bad gene. We are no where near that kind of medical technology, unless you watch too many movies.

I had a previous experience with this issue, the difference between treating a symptom or fixing the cause. My shoulder when it is was messed up was hard to get diagnosed let alone treated well. They kept trying to use physical therapy to fix it. Several CAT scans and MRIs later they could not find a decent answer to the pain I was having. It went on for nearly 3 1/2 years, I’d go to therapy and then the pain was back. Finally I did my own research and found that scope surgery had a 90+% chance of ending the pain. So I asked and was told if it was what I wanted they would do it. The only other option brought up was a steroid shot which for a diabetic is a true nightmare. It will send your sugar level into orbit for the better part of a week. When even the doctor is reluctant to do it you know there is a high risk factor.

Well, the surgeon told me after the surgery he found the problem as soon as he got the scope in there. I had apparently dislocated my shoulder and ripped 1/3 of the cartilage (cartilage does not show up on any CAT or MRI scans, only scopes can see it) off the front of the joint. It had been getting pulled into the joint and that had in turn torn up my bursa sack (lubricates the bone to bone joint). For 3 1/2 years they had been treating the symptom instead of the real problem. In that 3 1/2 years it had probably caused even more damage. One can never really be sure but you have to wonder about it. So if they had gone in and looked when it first started would my shoulder still have a bursa sack?

Back to diabetes, so the death of the beta cells is not the true disease simply a symptom of a bad gene and run away immune system. So to really fix (cure) diabetes you will need to fix this bad gene. The holy grail of medical science is to be able to fix bad genes. Downs, diabetes, heart issues, and many other diseases are greatly or solely influenced by genes, mainly bad ones. Its a two edged sword as well though. Where do you stop once you start? Do you give people animal hearing? Better sight? Fur to be able to handle colder temperatures? Where do you stop at this level of engineering? Damned if you do damned if you don’t.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I read a post from a fellow diabetic this morning and after possibly breaking her site with a lengthy comment, I though why not continue it here on my own blog.  A polite way of describing the people I want to talk about are back seat diabetics or armchair diabetics. These are people who either are not diabetic and think they know what is best for us/me or they are diabetic and think their solution is the absolute cure to this disease so everyone needs to follow their advice.

Molly, at huggingthecactus.com (hope I got that right Molly), was talking about a recent experience she had while out to eat and her sugar dropped. Been there, done that. I loved her approach. It mirrored mine so much, great minds think alike. She used common easily obtainable items to prevent a low.

I have been for years told by my, now former, endocrinologist that I should carry a glucotab bottle or get some of the paste to keep with me for any lows I get. I just laugh. I had tried that years ago and found it very not my style. One, they taste terrible. They are very strong sugar substances that use sour flavors to try and conceal the very sweet  taste. Yes, I used the term TRY. It does not work in my opinion. Second is the low sugar content of each pill/tablet. Each one when I bought them was about 3 grams of sugar and 3 grams of carbs. Duh, sugar is a carb. I would down the entire 10 tabs and still have to get candy from a machine to get back to normal. 30 grams plus to get back to normal.

I currently, like Molly did, use regular soda to boost my sugar level when it gets low. A Mountain Dew has 46 grams of carbs in a 12 oz can. Some days it only stalls my drops instead of reverse it and then at other times it will send me into low earth orbit, well at least my blood sugar.

My point here is there are no two identical people on this planet. Even identical twins are not doing the exact same things at the exact same times hence what may work for one would not work the other. There are about 8 billion people on this planet so even if they all were diabetic, thank God they are not, there would be 8 billion different treatments for lows. Every person is different so every person must find their own fix to each incident. Let’s be honest about it, the same fix does work every time even with the same person. Just go back and re-read the last paragraph.

Molly talked about working out earlier, before her incident, and that brings up another issue, exercise. Everyone reacts differently to it and does it in different amounts and intensities. Please do not tell me I’m correcting it wrong simply because I’m not following my “prescribed” treatment to the letter. I have had 40 plus years learning my body and how it responds to my environment. I can probably tell you what will drop my sugar level or raise it and how fast before I even touch a food or weight.

I tried an insulin pump (twice), one that was supposed to be fully automatic. That means it decided how much basal insulin it was going to give me with no input from me such as having to set a specific basal rate at a specific time. It would read my sugar level and make the changes on the fly. It works great for a lot of people but not for me. My diagnosis as a type 1 diabetic was called into question because of the settings we were using and the way I reacted to it. The results are yes, I am most definitely a type 1 diabetic. You know what the kicker was for getting a C-peptide test (a test of whether your body makes any or enough insulin of its own)? When I was going to start the pump I ran out of Toujeo insulin (basal) and the insurance company did not authorize a refill. I don’t blame them. They just paid for an $11,000 pump. I ended up going for 3 almost 4 weeks without my basal insulin. I can hear the gasps out there. Relax. You really could not tell I wasn’t on any. Sugar level were higher at times but not nearly as high as they should have been.

The pump suspended my insulin for nearly 4 hours (insulin half live was 5 hours) at times and I still had to eat to get it back up. Here’s a trick if you have enough will power, Skittles are like little sugar pills (they taste far better though). First, don’t swallow them as soon as you get them in your mouth. Chew on them until they just don’t seem as sweet. My opinion was it got the sugar into my system much faster. Second don’t eat the whole bag. A small bag from the vending machine has 56 grams of carbs in it. I just did about 3 to 4 of them at a time to slowly get it back up, unless it was crashing hard. They are very easy to scale to my need at the time. That whole bag is like a meal in a bag when referring to the carb count.

Like I started out saying, everyone is different and what work for one person may not work for another. I do listen to others for advice but please don’t expect me to blindly follow your example. I may use part of it or none of it. I listen learn and adapt it to my needs and wants. You should to. I will willingly tell you what I do, have done, or would do but you need to see what if anything actually works for you. I don’t think most people could get by eating 3,400 calories a day without gaining weight. I’ve eaten like this for at least 20 years and not gained (or sadly lost) any more than 5 or 10 pounds in that time.

While I was on the pump the doctor kept telling me I was eating to many carbs. I needed to cut back on them and eat more protein and fats. Hey I’d do it if I wasn’t already cramming cars to stop lows. That 150 gram “magic” carb count number is based off a 1200 or 1500 calorie diet. So at 3400 calories if you do the math, I should be up to about 310 or 320 depending on which base number you use. When I started the pump I was at about 420 carbs a day and had dropped it to about 280 to 290 a day by the end so I actually did cut them down. Using the original numbers, I was under the carb count persentage. She didn’t see it that way. It’s one the reasons I decided to leave her and go another route.

Here’s the basics of this speech. Don’t feel you have to follow the path of another find diabetic bliss. Make your own path, it is the only one YOU can follow. Listen to others who are experienced, be it more or less, with this disease. They may give you an answer or least a clue to help you find your path, just don’t feel obligated to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Doctor or no doctor, you decide what does or does not work for you. They can look at your Dexcom or Medtronic sensor log but they are seeing only part of the story. You have lived it. Like I said listen but be realistic about how and if it will work. I argued with my former endo about said reading and won the argument, well at least I got her to agree to me trying my idea. A good doctor will listen to their patients as much as the patients should listen to the doctor. Tell them your fears and goals. Tell them why your sugar shot up because 2 hours earlier on that same graph your sugar was at 80 and falling fast. You over corrected. Look for patterns on the graphs. Again you know if you were working hard or chilling in front of the TV. It can affect that graph just as much as what you eat. Blaze your own path in this world, just be smart about it.

The Fears of Being Diabetic

Why the fears of being diabetic? Why not? I didn’t call them phobias, they are not debilitating. A good diabetic will acknowledge the risks and prepare for them. Risks in my opinion are simply controlled fears. Will I run out of insulin today or drop the bottle and break it? Past incidents have led me to be very careful of where I set it when it is out of the case, aka been there done that. There are so many of them I can’t possibly bring up and talk about them all. The whole point to this post is letting people know that there are many risks to being a diabetic and not everyone knows them or wants to talk about them.

By knowing the risks you can either avoid them or minimize the chances of them happening. My big fear is having a low. Its not as bad with the CGM (that leads to another fear all diabetics have) since it lets me know where I’m at with my blood sugar and most of all which direction it is going. I can avoid the lows by knowing they are coming before they get too bad. I carry Skittles in my pocket so when I know I’m going somewhere I will not have easy access to snacks. Cutting back on exercise is never an option for me. I was not raised that way and can’t get past wanting to give 100% at whatever I do, at home or at work.

My 40+ years of dealing with diabetic issues have led me with a few near phobias with the lows being at the top of that list. I have been told what I am like when my sugar gets low and that scares the hell out of me more than anything else. I become a very combative, aggressive person. People who know me can tell you how calm and passive I am normally but lower my blood sugar and I become a different person. When I was 12 I threw a nurse across our living room, I’ve knocked orange juice out my mom’s hand so many times I lost count, and I woke up with 8 EMT/firefighters holding me down on my bed to get an IV started. At work I have told them to never try to force me to eat or drink anything. Just call the EMTs and let them handle it. The fear is hurting someone I care about. My old doctor hated the fact I run my sugars so high to avoid it.

Another fear that I alluded to earlier is how I am going to pay for all the meds and supplies I need to stay alive. It is sad to say insulin is not the only med with this issue but it is the one I am most familiar with. The cost of the bottles of insulin have gone from $115 about 10 years ago to $295 currently. That is also with the insurance company discount. Buying it without insurance I’ve heard is more like $380 a bottle. The CGM is also a big cost. Each month with insurance I pay about $120 for the sensors. Without insurance they are about $450 each month. They are only meant to stay on for one week but to save money I will leave them on as long as I can, 3 weeks at times if the adhesive stays put. The transmitters are another thing. I pay about $250 for one transmitter that last only 3 months, $1,000 a year with insurance. Without insurance, I would ben  paying $1000 each for them, $4,000. What happens if I loose my insurance? It keeps me up during the day, I work nights so that is my sleep time.

Up comes another fear/risk, loosing my job. I hate to break it to those who feel the ADA protects them but I have been in situations where employers have been, lets just say creative, in forcing me to leave. I don’t think I’m a bad employee. I show up for work on time 99% of the time, I don’t call in sick very often, I do what I am asked to do whether it is a part of my “job” or not, I get along with coworkers well, and am willing to work overtime when needed. I’m not going to get into the politics of it but “right to work” states also allow an employers to let you go without a reason. They will not use the word diabetic in any letter or phone call since that involves the ADA. They can just give any excuse and let you go, if they respond in the first place. As far as getting hired, that is another nightmare all together. The easiest form letter to use is “we have gone with another more qualified applicant” one. Have they? I have wondered how many times they hear about previous situations of low issues and decide to not hire over it. I’ve read the fine print at the tale end of the applications. You give permission for the company to run background checks on you which includes credit, criminal, and employment. You give them access to your employee files from former employers.

An everyday fear/risk is not calculating insulin does correctly. Did I count the carbs right? Did I get the right ratio? Did I do the math right? I’m not perfect. I’ve screwed this up more than just once in 40 years. Don’t panic and make the correction. Eat more if you go low. Take a bolus if you go high. This one is really easy to manage. Its more annoying than anything else.

Fear is a constant companion for a diabetic. One you need to become friends with instead of being paralyzed by it. I could  die by walking out of my house and down the street today, but I’m still going to do it. I could screw up any of the diabetic things I’ll do today but I’m still going to do them. As I said it in past blogs, I’m 9 years past my expiration date so in my mind I’m not loosing anything if I died today. I can hear the gasps from here. It’s life. I’m going to die, everyone will die. Its just when will I bite the big one. I realize the issues of being a diabetic each day and I work with those obstacles. I control them and move on. Enough said.

Wow! Already?

I read a post a little while ago from another fellow type 1 diabetic on accepting her “broken” body. I have to agree with her, our bodies are broken. Our immune system attacked and killed the beta cells in our pancreas that made insulin. Yes I said made because they are gone and have been for decades. We make no insulin on our own like type 2 diabetic so to live we must inject it everyday several times a day. To me although they are both considered diabetes type 1 an type 2 are separate diseases, different causes and different treatments.

Reading the post brought back memories of my life years ago when I was resolved to live with the knowledge that I was going to die much sooner than most if not all my friends. I would have to make sacrifices each day just to stay alive. The last few years of high school and the years shortly after I had given myself an expected life span of 40 years. Why you ask? I had been hearing for the last 10 to 20 years that I was more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, loose a kidney or an eye, loose a foot or leg, or one of many other possible bad things that are more likely for diabetics.

Well I am happy to report that my supposed end date was wrong. I have turned 49 so I’ve gone past my expiration date by 9 years already. I’ve had issues such as bad infections that apparently, according to my family doctor, was not expected to survive it was so bad. I also have had retinopathy in one eye but it is controlled and no further problems have been found. Just had them checked last week.

Now to the nitty gritty of why I’m writing this post. As much as diabetes has impacted my life, it has molded me into who I am today, a driven, resourceful, proud person. Some who know me might question that last description.

Proud? Yes, very proud. I don’t ask for help unless I’ve already proved I can’t do it alone. I don’t rely on others others to do things for me as I am completely capable of doing them myself. Maybe at times more headstrong than smart as I tend to push things to the limit to find where it is.

When I first became a diabetic, age 8 (1977), I had tried to hide it from others around me. I was different now. I had to pee in a cup to check for sugar in my urine. I had to get shots twice a day to stay alive. I had to get blood drawn once or twice a week to make sure the dosages were right. I had to watch what I ate at meals and in between. That was the worst as I had to get up in the middle of class to get a snack out of my launch box with everyone in the class watching. How was I supposed to hide that?

Diabetes is invisible. I don’t have a missing arm or massive scar on my face to mark me as a diabetic. Its why we all are expected to carry something like a med-alert bracelet/necklace. Even EMTs can not tell unless they are told. Makes it easy to hide.

I no longer hide the fact that I am a diabetic.  I do not go around spouting out to everyone I pass about it but readily will anyone who asks or inform coworkers to make them aware. One of the reasons is the growth in diabetic awareness. Not to mention the fact back then there were estimated to be 6 million of us. There are now 22 million of us with only 10% of them are type 1 like me.

As much as it has changed my life and made it harder, diabetes has also made me who I am today. I am driven to manage more than defeat this problem. I watch what I eat and try to control my sugar level but also live like a normal person. I don’t avoid sugar. I also don’t hide from work. I’m not going to call myself a workaholic but it would be close. My job is a material handler at a factory. Yes I do drive a fork truck but most of what I do is by hand. I can honestly say that depending on the night I lift and move maybe 1 to 2 tons of steel. 2,000 to 4,000 pounds of steel. I use an air grinder to remove burs and slag off parts. Try it for at least 4 hours before you call it easy, you do flip the parts you are grinding and some of them weigh close to if not over 100 pounds. Its hard work and I love it. My problem at work it I do so many different jobs that I don’t know from one moment to the next what I will be doing. Friday I started out unlading a torch table then moved to grinding parts and then sat on a fork truck for 4 hours. Even then I couldn’t take it. I kept the radio with me but jumped off to finish grinding the parts I had started earlier. I also jumped back off at the end of the night to help load the plasma table to get it done faster. I’m such a pain in the buttocks.

I guess it has given me a chip on my shoulder. Because I have diabetes I feel the need to proof myself more than others. I need to prove I can work with the big dogs instead hide under the porch. I have never and will never use my diabetes as a crutch. I can do anything normal people can with some special conditions. Foremost among them is being able to eat when my sugar level drops too low.

I guess to wrap this up, I’m done hiding (have been for years). I don’t broadcast being a diabetic but I don’t hide in bathrooms to do my shots or check blood sugars anymore. You can’t stand the sight of blood or needles? I’m sorry, turn your head then. I’m not going to apologize for being a diabetic. I didn’t go looking for this and am sure as he11 (don’t want to sware here but………..) not going to feel less than human for having it. I guess my feeling anymore has gone to the point of if I have to live with this then you are just going to have to cope with the ways I have to use to deal with it. You don’t have to do anything other than leave me to deal with the shots, sugar tests, and food intake. Its all I ask of you

It Gets Old

40 years I have beena diabetic and 40 years I’ve heard almost every excuse as to why I am a diabetic (almost never the right one) or things I should or shouldn’t do. They are not all bad people, most are simply not educated about diabetes. That being a result of not be close to someone who has it. Very few understand that there is more than one type of diabetes. That also leads to misunderstanding the reasons given on TV and in articles about this disease.

First and foremeost, eating wrong and not exercising does not “give” or lead to type 1 diabetes. It can hasten or lead to type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when your body’s own immune system turns on the beta cells (islets of Langerhans) which are what produce insulin in the body. By the way, humans are not the only animlas in the world who can get diabetes. After they are gone, you can’t make your own insulin and must daily give yourself injections to stop ketones from building up in your blood, which will kill you. To put this as plainly as possible, no insulin no live.

Growing up I did not eat the best but it was far from the worst diet in history and it was pretty much the same as everyone else in our house. Chips Ahoy cookies may be the real sticky point as I loved them and consumed them often. I exercised regularly riding my bike all over this town, climbing trees, and running all over the place. Lack of exercise was not my problem. I was only the second person on mom’s side to come down with it but I was the first type 1. Most doctors consider it a genetic disease as it is inherited and pasted down from parents to children. Everyone of my mom’s side of the family had it before they pasted away.

As far as people making comments about what they think of my treatment or lack thereof, I ultimately don’t care but do not get mad if I don’t bow to your will and do it. I have had 40 years of experimenting to find what does and does not work for me. If you are a fellow diabetic and give me advice, again, please do not feel slighted that I disagree and/or do not follow your advice. If it is something new I may try it but there is no guarante it will work for me. I am not you. Everyone is an individual and MUST be treated that way.

My last doctor and I had issues with that. To me it felt like she was trying to fix my problems, which she admitted were not  normal, with standard treatments. How would a standard treatment fix a non-standard problem? It never made sense to me and it never will. If the problem is not normal, you think outside box, don’t stop at the wall of normal.

I guess what my point for all this is, that I make my decisions. Right or wrong, good or bad, they are mine. You are not living with this disease, I am. I will live with my blood sugar being high and shortening my life cycle. I will live with taking shots or lving with a pump. I will decide what is too low for me to function and when I need to correct the deficiencies. 240? No I’l leave that one alone. 85? Oh hell yes, I’m fixing that. But that isn’t low you say in the back of your mind. For me it is. I can feel my mental senses start to slow down at that point. I can’t concentrate as hard or think as fast below 90. You would never know it while talking to me unless you know me very well. The sarcastic comments I normally make are just not there. Its like I’m becoming a different person. I can, most of the time, see or sense it coming so I can prevent it. Just let me do it on my own thank you. My life, my way.

What does a low sugar “feel” like?

There are questions I get asked from time to time, usually after a hypoglycemic reaction.  Can’t you feel it? Why didn’t you stop it? Oh and my favorite didn’t you eat? I’ve heard them all at one time or other. Actually I’ve heard all of these more than once. To a diabetic they are “duh” questions, the simple answer of duh is the appropriate response. To those who do not have to fight or control these incidents it can be a mystery as to how or even why we feel what we do when the sugar level goes rooting around in the basement. I hope to help some of you understand that we don’t want such drama in our lives. There is plenty there already.

First, can’t you feel it? Simple answer is yes. I can feel the tired, confused mental state coming before I go into zombie mode. I don’t know what else to call it. I can hear but my mind does function well with a low blood sugar. I did some checking and 15% of your blood flow goes to your brain and about 20% of your bodies resources get hogged by it. So stop and think about that for a second. Your brain is like any other muscle in your body except it used much more of, well, everything. You use it or loose it (if you even had one in the first place mine is questionable in that case) and if you don’t eat well your muscles get weak, as does your brain.

Confusion is my main go to signal of a low. I can normally understand things with little problem. Once in a while someone will try and explain something to me and because I think about things differently, it may take me a while to get it into terms I can understand. If I run into something I know I should be able to do easily but I end up having to think about it a while or over and over before I solve it, I have a problem.

I also mentioned tired. This gets kind of tricky. Is it from having a low or only getting 3 hours of sleep yesterday? Got a coin to flip? I work nights so sleep is a luxury I don’t get enough of most days. Sometimes there are just too many things going on and I have to cut it short and sweet. Other times noisy neighbors and “normal” daytime sounds get in the way of a good sleep. A low sugar causes a tired feeling because it cuts your bodies power supply at its source. That annoying sugar level in your blood is also responsible for energizing your muscles and brain as already stated. No sugar, no energy.

Second question on the list why can’t didn’t you stop it. This one is also a multi-layered question. If I do feel it getting low I will try and fix it. A question to answer the question is what am I doing? Can I stop right now or do I need to get to a stopping point first? How fast the sugar drops is a big decision maker. Is it slowly dropping or is it making like a skydiver without a shoot? I have had my sugar drop 130 points in 1 hour. Hypoglycemia is listed as below 60 so doing the math on this I would have gone from “normal” to low in only 30 minutes. It takes about 15 – 20 to get sugar into the blood stream. Just the fact that it drops that fast can add to the confusion and quick onset of problems. I’ve felt confused at 110 because just 2 hours earlier it was 478. So take roughly 368 divide by 2 hours and we get 184. An hour! This happened just the other night at work. I did not wait for the engraved invitation to come in the mail, I got a pack of peanuts butter cups and was fine until lunch. It was still down to 78 but since the fall slowed down I was fine mentally.

Anyone confused now? Yeah it sucks doesn’t it. That low sugar slowing the brain down also means I don’t think rationally. I once had 4 people at a previous job trying to tell me I should eat something and the only thing on my mind was that they were just trying to pull my leg and get me to do something stupid. Well the EMTs knew me by name back then and were able to get me to down some nasty sugar paste in a tube. By the way anyone who has never tried it should and you will understand why hypoglycemic diabetics don’t eat it willingly.

The last question on the list is truly the most ridicules. If you could see my fat frame you would understand I don’t miss many meals in life. The lows actually are a part of why I am so heavy. I have to eat to bring my sugar level up and since the doctors want to keep it as  low as possible, I eat a lot to stay above water each day. I am fine to let it sit at 250 but it is a cardinal sin for a diabetic to let it get that high. It is a constant tension point between my doctor and I.

I have a phobia of having lows. It genuinely terrifies me. I keep a cool head and low profile as much as I can in life but when my sugar gets low I get combative. Just ask my sister and a close friend who both have tried to get me to eat somethings and I ended up hurting them. I tear up just writing it down.  When I was 12 I threw a nurse across our living room after she jabbed a needle in my arm to get me out of a low. My mom said she flew about 5 feet. I am much bigger and stronger now. Would she have gone through a window now?

On more than one occasion I have woken up from a low while sleeping with the help of EMTs. I believe the most I counted was 8. They said I was fine until they tried to start the IV and then my demons came calling with a vengeance. 8 strong strapping young fire fighters had to hold me down as another started the IV to get my sugar up. That is why they knew me by name back then. If they got the call to my house they brought back up.

I fear hurting someone without being able to control myself during one of these incidents. I have in the past and regret it deeply. That is not who I am or want to be known as . I have no control over my mind when they happen so they scare the crap out of me. I can’t speak for every diabetic but I will do whatever I can to keep this from happening. If I shorten my life a few years by keeping it high but everyone is safe, I am fine with that.

So that is how it “feels” to have a low. Confused, tired and most of all terrifying.  Can I feel and stop it? Yes I can under most circumstances but there are always curves that God puts in our way to both challenge us and humble us. We just have to deal with them as best we can and maybe get a little help from our friends. The loss of control is scary and humiliating at the very least. I am not a social butterfly so the extra attention garnered by such events is never welcomed. I would much rather be the wall flower in the back of the room who tells the guys about it the next day. Oh to dream.