Thursday, December 9, 2010

Diabetes in the News

I was trying to think of something to write about next, and I finally got my answer while surfing the web yesterday.  On's home page, one of the headlines was "6 Misconceptions & Myths About Diabetes", with other diabetes-related articles below.  I was excited to see that diabetes was getting some face time, but I was slightly disappointed by the content of the articles after reading them.

6 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Diabetes

In this article, Sue McLaughlin, former president of healthcare and education at the American Diabetes Association, expounds on the most common myths about the disease.  Most of her advice is spot-on, but I had a small problem with #5:
"A diabetes diagnosis means you automatically need insulin. That's the case with type 1 diabetes but not with type 2 diabetes. In some cases, proper diet, exercise, and oral medications, if needed, can keep type 2 diabetes under control for some time before insulin becomes necessary, McLaughlin says. The key is to make a lifestyle change. That means no smoking, more healthful eating habits, and regular exercise."
Don't get me wrong; it's nothing but the truth.  However, I think that her statement about insulin may further discourage those with Type 2 from taking insulin when often it could be a great option for treatment.  Research is showing that by starting insulin right away (instead of as a last resort after medications and diet have failed to be effective), the pancreas' beta cells (the ones responsible for insulin production that are damaged by diabetes) may be preserved from further destruction.  I am all for making that lifestyle change she talks about, but I'm also a big proponent of finding the absolute best treatment for your particular case, and that very well might include insulin.

Aside from that one minor complaint, I found this article to be informative, especially for those who may not be familiar with the disease and might stumble upon it as I did.  Mainstream media is a GREAT way to raise awareness, so I'm happy when diabetes makes the top headlines.

4 Easy Steps to Lower Your Diabetes Risk

When I first read the title of this article, I was intrigued.  You often see articles on prevention of other diseases, but rarely do you come across one in the headlines on the prevention of diabetes.  Dr. Judith Fradkin of the National Institutes of Health's "4 Easy Steps..." are just that--short and easy.  However, I don't see how they really apply to the prevention of diabetes specifically.  Yes, they are essential steps for achieving good overall health and preventing obesity or losing weight, which are both key to preventing Type 2 Diabetes. 

However, I don't like the correlation she makes between eating sugar and the prevention of diabetes...After all, the first article clears up the myth that eating too much sugar causes diabetes, so why lead people to believe that it's true?  Again, I know that eating less sugar is a great idea, but it's not going to prevent someone who has the genes and other environmental factors from getting diabetes, according to my understanding. 

Losing weight, exercising, eating whole grains, and getting better sleep are all good things for anyone to do, and very well may help prevent someone with the predisposition from developing Type 2 Diabetes.  What the author didn't mention, however, was that there are no guarantees when it comes to disease prevention.  In my case specifically, I was relatively healthy, and I still ended up getting diabetes.

Finally, right under the links for those articles, there was a link to Bing search for "Find delicious recipes for diabetic diets"...Right after the myths & misconceptions article specifically noted that there is no "diabetic diet".  I'm not convinced I'm the only one who notices these things...

Maybe I'm being too picky, but the way I see it, if they're going to put these articles front and center, I wish that they would ensure that the information in them is current with today's medical knowledge about diabetes.  Otherwise, they may just be contributing to the very misinformation they're trying to clear up.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Lesson in Diabetes Etiquette

I hope everyone is doing well!  It seemes like everyone I know has been sick in one way or another lately...My husband, as well as my friends' husbands and kids, were all down this week with a stomach bug.  Luckily, it passed me by.  I don't know if I'm quite ready to deal with illness and diabetes at the same time just yet!

I had a big lesson in foot care on Thursday.  We had driven a couple of hours to see my aunt for her 50th birthday and to run some errands while we were there.  I wore some flats that I've had since I was in high school (I graduated five years ago this May), thinking that they would be comfy...But I was wrong!  In hindsight, I should have known; however, in my defense, who would have thought?  After running around town all day, I had painful blisters on both of my little toes from the pointy toe on those shoes.  My aunt gave me a bandaid to put over them, but they were still extremely painful the rest of the night...I even  had trouble walking! 

Normally, I wouldn't think much of it; but now that I have diabetes, I'm more conscious of how I treat my feet.  I've been babying them the last couple of days to help them heal as quickly as possible, and now I know that I shouldn't wear shoes I haven't worn in a long time when there's going to be lots of walking involved.  Before, I would have dealt with the pain in the name of fashion, but now I can't do that.  Lesson learned!

Speaking of lessons, I would like to share this handout that I got at the Diabetes Health Fair with you.  It's a great, straightforward way of giving those who don't have the disease some advice on how to treat those of us who deal with it on a daily basis.  The tips might surprise some of you, but anyone with diabetes will tell you that they're all correct!  You don't realize until you are having to deal with this disease firsthand the impact that others' comments have on your spirit.  These are all little things, but trust me, they will be greatly appreciated by anyone who has diabetes.

Courtesy of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute:
(Click to enlarge)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What's Next?

Bonus Days!
Wednesday, December 1

What’s next? – Even though American Diabetes Month is over, diabetes continues to be a 24/7/365 disease. What will you do to keep America’s focus on diabetes?

This month has given me a chance to reflect on my experience with diabetes in a way that will hopefully inspire someone else to learn more about the disease, take care of themselves better, or get involved in diabetes awareness and advocacy.  I also want to take the opportunity to say "thank you" to the people and organizations that are fighting every day to make life better for those of us with diabetes.  I have faith that someday, a cure will be possible because of their dedication and passion.

Even though the "Blog 30 Days of Diabetes in November - And Beyond!" is finished, I plan on continuing my blog posts on my experience.  I hope to include some diabetes book reviews, interesting articles and news on the disease, and of course, the ups and downs of living with diabetes.  I hope that you'll continue following my blog, and please let me know if you ever have any post suggestions or comments!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wrap Up - Last Day of American Diabetes Month 2010

Bonus Days!
Tuesday, November 30

Wrap Up – It’s the last day of American Diabetes Month 2010!  If you had to leave one lasting impression on people about diabetes, what would you say?

Wow, I can't believe this month is already over!  It seems like it's flown by, and then Christmas will be here before we know it.

If I had to leave one lasting impression on people about diabetes, I would say this:  Please care, please be an advocate, because you never know if you or someone you love will be affected by this disease.  I honestly never in a million years dreamed it would happen to me, and yet three months ago, I found myself having to deal with it firsthand. 

At the Diabetes Education Class I attended earlier in the month, one educator told us that 1 out of every 2 children born in 2010 will develop diabetes at some point in their lifetime if trends continue the way they are currently heading.  I don't know about you, but that's a pretty scary statistic to me.  I've shared with you all several times before that one of my biggest inspirations in effectively dealing with my diabetes is having healthy pregnancies and children in the future.  However, I don't know if I've told you that one of the biggest reasons I'm pushing diabetes awareness so hard is that I want my children to be able to grow up in a world in which diabetes has a cure.  I hope they never have to deal with this disease, but if they do, I hope that by that time there are better options for managing it. 

Science has made amazing advances in the field over the past decade, and advocacy is so important to ensuring that there is enough money for future research and progress.  Even if you can't give financially, I urge you to take action by getting involved in the diabetes awareness movement...Not just in November, but all year round!  Go to for some great ideas on how you can become involved.  And for those of you who already are, thank you.  You may not see it now, but you are truly making a difference in the lives of those who live with diabetes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Mouthwatering Monday" - Leftovers

Bonus Days!
Monday, November 29

“Mouthwatering Monday” – How long did those Thanksgiving Day leftovers last? Leftovers can be a useful strategy in saving money and making your portions smaller, but many people don’t like them. How do you feel about leftovers?

We ate at my parents' house for Thanksgiving this year, so we didn't have leftovers at our house.  I'm sure my parents still have some left in their fridge, but it won't bother my dad--he was telling my husband that he looks forward to Thanksgiving because he can eat turkey sandwiches afterwards!

I've been out of college for a year and a half and out of my parents' house for almost five years, and I've still not mastered the art of cooking for one or two people...We almost always end up with leftovers, but that's fine with us.  Usually, whatever we don't eat one night at supper we eat the next day for lunch, and most of the time my husband and I both would rather eat those leftovers than go out to eat.

Tonight I made homemade ground beef and vegetable soup for supper, which was enough for 8+ servings.  I ate one bowl and my husband ate two, so we had plenty leftover.  While we were sitting there finishing up our meal, I had a "lightbulb" moment--I decided I would freeze half of the leftovers for a quick supper one of these nights when I don't have the time or energy to cook.  I freeze bread and meat all the time, but I've never frozen a whole entree before; however, I know that many people make twice as much at meals just so they can freeze half for later.

As long as it freezes well, I think that this strategy will work well for us because even though we actually don't mind eating leftovers, we always end up throwing away a lot of food.  I hate wasting food and abhor cleaning old food out the refrigerator, so I'm crossing my fingers that this new solution will be a good one.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Storing Supplies

Week 4: GIVE
Sunday, November 28

Storing Supplies – Sometimes having diabetes means you have to carry a lot of supplies or organize different types of medications. Pockets, purses, glove compartments, hands – what do you use to be sure you’re prepared?

Since I've had diabetes, my purse has gotten a lot heavier! Not only do I carry my blood glucose meter & all of its supplies anytime I'm not at home, but I also carry my calorie/fat/carb guide everywhere so I'm prepared to plan my meals wherever I am. For the past couple of weeks, I've also had to carry a pill box with my Janumet in it to take with breakfast and supper. In addition to all of that, I also carry fast-acting glucose tablets and extra medication in case I forget to put my pill box in my purse.

I have two extra BG meters, so I'm planning on bringing one with me to keep at work, because I've forgotten to put it in my purse in the morning at least once, and I happened to have a low that day.

Traveling is also made more difficult, and I'm not even on insulin (which requires refrigeration). I forgot to pack ketone urine test strips the last trip my husband & I took, and I ended up dealing with my highest BG reading I'd had to that point. When my mom & I went to the Diabetes Ed. Class & Health Fair, I thought I had packed enough test strips but ran out that night. I couldn't bring myself to pay $50 for a new box when I had one at home & could get them for next to nothing through my insurance. Luckily, the representative for Abbot was at the health fair, and he gave me several sample boxes of test strips because he felt bad that I had bought the Freestyle Freedom Lite meter kit thinking it included a box of strips like the Bayer meters did (it didn't).

One thing I've come to realize through all of this is that although diabetes makes everyday life and traveling more difficult, things always work out somehow in the end. People who understand what you're dealing with are eager to help and give you the encouragement you need to get through the more challenging days. Having diabetes has underscored how God takes care of us, especially when we need it most!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Best Thing

Saturday, November 27

The Best Thing – Yesterday was “Black Friday” when many Americans shopped till they dropped, looking for the best possible gifts. What’s the best diabetes gadget, phone app, book, or other tool you have?

The single best thing that helped me the most when I was first diagnosed was the collection of books I ordered about the various aspects of diabetes.  It was over a month between the day I was diagnosed and my first visit to the endocrinologist, so I was on my own for the most part in figuring out how to deal with the disease and all it entails.

I'm the kind of person that likes to know everything about everything.  I've always had a hunger for knowledge, and loved most of my classes in school for that reason.  Whatever stage of life I'm in at the time, I feel much more comfortable in any situation when I have background information on whatever it is I'm dealing with.  I started researching colleges my freshman year of high school, and knew where I was going by the next year.  As soon as my husband and I were engaged, I went out and bought bridal magazines and wedding planning books.  Finding out I had diabetes was no different--when I was diagnosed, the first thing I did was have some books rush shipped to my door so I could start learning about it!

I've shared this before, but I thought I would include it again since it's pertinent to today's topic.  It's an image of all the books on diabetes that I currently have on my book shelf: 101 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy with Diabetes...
$5.88 -

These books are all wonderful in their own right, and provide a wealth of information for anyone who has an interest in finding out more about this disease.  After November, I plan to post detailed reviews on each of them to give you a better idea of what each one is about.
Other than books, the other best tool I have in dealing with my diabetes is my blood glucose monitor.  In fact, it's much more important on a daily basis than the books are, because it lets me know where I'm at and how I'm doing in following the advice I read and hear.  I've had my Freestyle Freedom Lite meter for a couple of weeks now, and I adore it.  I've only wasted a couple of test strips since I've had it (as apposed to the five or six I sometimes went through at one time to get a reading with my other meters!), which is no small thing when they cost $1+ apiece! 
The Bayer USB meter and the software it comes with were also helpful in seeing at what points my blood glucose ran highest, which turned out to be very interesting.  I found that I ran higher in the evenings (no surprise there), and my day for highest blood glucose readings was consistently on Thursday, which I thought was very strange...I expected it to be highest on the weekends.  I still haven't figured that one out, but the knowledge in and of itself is helpful. 
Well, I'm battling a headache after spending the day putting up Christmas decorations, so I'm going to go now, but I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Friends & Family Friday"

Week 4: GIVE
Friday, November 26

“Friends & Family Friday” – Interview someone to learn how they feel about your diabetes, or let them write a “guest post” on your blog! Don’t know who to work with? Try looking at the other blogs in our community and reach out to another blogger who wrote something you liked.

My Mom was with me the day I was diagnosed.  I didn't want my husband to have to take off work in case there wasn't anything to worry about, but I also didn't want to go by myself in case there was...So I asked her to go with me.  Even though I pretty much knew what was going on, I was still very nervous because I knew that if I was right, it would be a life-changing moment that I didn't want to go through alone.

So that afternoon, Mom met me at the clinic and waited with me for my name to be called.  She asked me if I wanted her to wait on me, or go back to the room with me, and I chose the latter.  The nurse came in and took down my symptoms, then checked my blood sugar and asked me to give a urine sample.  A little while later the doctor came in, and we went over my symptoms and such.  He left the room to get my results, then came back and said, "You do have Diabetes, okay?" 

As I've commented before, I couldn't believe later on that the doctor wasn't more sympathetic when he revealed that piece of news to me.  I know it's an everyday occurrence for them to have to give bad news to people, but it's my opinion that they should at least try to be empathetic towards their patients.  But, that's not so important to the subject at hand. 

When the doctor left the room after that, I was kind of in shock, but then I looked over at my mom, and she was crying.  Whenever someone else is crying, I usually end up tearing up as well, and this time was no exception--even though I know we were both trying so hard not to do so.  We had enough time to get our faces cleaned up again before the doctor came back in, but it was a tough moment nonetheless.

When we talked about it later, Mom told me that it was hard on her because she didn't want to have another child that had to go through that (my sister was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes when she was 16 almost four years ago, and my dad has had Type II for the last two years).  She knows the impact this disease has on someone's life, and although I adjusted to my diagnosis somewhat easier than my sister had, my parents still had to go through the emotional shock of having a daughter being diagnosed with a chronic illness once again. 

I suppose it was easier the second time around, especially since by the time the doctors figured out what was going on with my sister, she was already in Diabetic Ketoacidosis.  She had to be transported by helicoptor to a hospital a couple of hours away, and spent a few days there recovering and learning the ins and outs of Diabetes.  It was a traumatic experience for my family, but if there is a bright side, it was that when I was diagnosed we had already learned a lot about living with the disease, so there wasn't such a big learning curve.

As I've mentioned before, my mom has been a huge support throughout all of this, and I don't know what I would do without her.  It helps a lot just knowing that I don't have to deal with it all on my own, especially since my husband would never be able to get off work every time I have a doctor's appointment!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving is often a busy day, so you can keep it simple: What did you enjoy for your thanksgiving dinner? (And what was the carb count)? Photos are always welcome!

We just got back from eating lunch at my mom's house, and it was wonderful!  I had some turkey with a little bit of turkey gravy, some stuffing, my mom's famous potato casserole, whole berry cranberry sauce, green beans, and a roll.  I was doing good, but then I went back for seconds...Really good food is sometime by biggest downfall, because I have a harder time stopping when I need to.  I'm not sure what the carb count of my meal would have been, but I am sure it was too much, because my 2 hour postprandial was 224.  I was disappointed, but then I just decided that it was what it was, and that I would have a chance to do better at supper.

SO...Wish me luck, and I hope y'all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Wordless Wednesday" - Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24

“Wordless Wednesday” – Share a picture or video on your blog! (need ideas for subject matter? How are you getting ready for the Thanksgiving festivities? Baking in advance? Adding some extra exercise to your schedule? Cleaning to prepare for company? Show us!)

My mom's side of the family celebrated Thanksgiving early last weekend, so our holiday will be pretty mellow!  We're going over to my parents' house tomorrow for lunch, then since my mom's birthday is tomorrow as well, we're having pizza (shipped straight from Chicago!) with them tomorrow evening.

I'm in charge of making the Chocolate Ice Box Pie for lunch tomorrow, so I'm fixing to go get the ingredients for it.  It's a great dessert to make sugar free, and it tastes so good you'd never know the difference!

Just replace the pudding and Cool Whip with sugar free versions, and try this tip for making a sugar free version of powdered sugar out of splenda:

I thought I would share a few Thanksgiving cartoons before I go!

And finally, this is so true...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Travel

Week 4: GIVE
Tuesday, November 23

Holiday Travel – The pilgrims traveled for 66 days to make it to the “new world.”  Do you travel for Thanksgiving or other holidays?  What tricks or tips do you use to navigate airport crowds, traffic-filled highways and blood glucose fluctuations?

We don't usually travel very far over the holidays, because most of our family lives fairly close to us.  The longest trip we have to make over the holidays is about four hours one way, and there isn't usually a whole lot of traffic since we live in the Texas panhandle.

About a month ago, I took my first trip since being diagnosed.  My husband and I drove to Oklahoma City and spent the night, then drove another hour the next day to pick up a trailer.  Packing was an adventure, because I had to get everything ready to go right after I got off work (it was a spur of the moment trip), and I was terrified I would leave something I needed.  My husband laughs at me, but I always tell him I need the exact same things wherever we go, and for however long...The only thing that varies is the amount of clothing I pack!

I somehow managed to only forget my contact solution and case, and my ketone test strips.  Since I hadn't dealt with very high blood sugars before, it really didn't cross my mind to toss those in my bag, but later I was wishing I would have.  That was the night I saw my first 300+ blood glucose reading, and I was scared, angry, and just upset in general.  After I had a chance to calm down, I just had to wait it out since I wasn't on any kind of diabetes medication then.  My numbers went down slowly, but by the next morning they were close to normal.

The next trip I took was just over a week ago, when my mom & I went to the Diabetes Education Course in a city a couple of hours away.  We stayed overnight, so I made sure to pack everything I would need...And I managed to get my ketone test strips this time.  HOWEVER, I thought I had enough test strips for the couple of days we would be gone, but due to the class and other out-of-the-ordinary things, I ran out that night we were staying in the hotel.  I didn't want to pay $50+ for a box of test strips (I had a new box at home, and I get them close to nothing through my insurance), so I paid $18 for a new meter I was wanting to try instead, the Freestyle Freedom Lite.  My first two meters (the Bayer Contour and Bayer Contour USB) both came with 10-25 test strips, so I assumed (I know, I know) that this one would too, but I was wrong (of course).  Luckily, though, the Diabetes Health Fair was the next day, and we managed to trek through 6" of new snow that had fallen overnight while we were sleeping to get there.  The representative from Abbot (who makes the Freestyle meters) happened to be there, and he was kind enough to go out to his car in the freezing cold to get some test strips for me!  He said he felt bad that I had to buy my meter since they were giving them away at the fair, so he gave me six or seven sample boxes of test strips--which was very generous, because that saved me $60-70.

I ended up loving my new meter, so I suppose his efforts gained a new customer for Abbot! 

As far as I'm concernced, this meter has some wonderful features that other meters lack:
--Small (very, very small) test sample (0.3 microliter compared to Bayer's 0.6 microliter)
--You can reapply blood if you didn't get enough for up to 60 seconds from the first sample time (you can't reapply with the Bayer meters)
= Fewer wasted test strips...Seriously, I think I may have wasted two since I've been using it.  With my Bayer meters, I would sometimes go through four or five in one testing because I couldn't get enough blood the first go-around.  And, as you know, that means less money, since each test strip costs $1+.

Now, it doesn't have the awesome features of the Bayer USB I had been using before, but another advantage it does have is accuracy--which is much, much more important to me than coolness.  The FDA requires the makers of blood glucose meters to have a +/- 20% of the laboratory reading 95% of the time...In other words, if the lab reading was 100, a passable BG meter could show a reading from 80 to 120.  I don't know about you, but that's a pretty big range, especially when you're in the higher numbers (for which that 20% means a lot more leeway--for a lab BG of 300, it could be 240 to 360; for 350, 270 to 420).  That difference may not seem like a lot, but sometimes it's the difference in self management and the emergency room.  In answer to this dilemma, Abbot raised their standards--for their meters, the accuracy is +/- 10%.  For that lab reading of 100, the Freestyle meter would show 90-110 instead of the 80-120 range of other meters.  For 300, 270-330; and for 350, 315-385.

Accuracy is important when you're trying to achieve tight control over your blood glucose numbers as well, simply because it give you a better idea of how you're doing and the confidence that the readings you're getting would more closely reflect lab results.

I realize I've gone off on a tangent, but an important one nonetheless...An accurate and easy to use meter makes dealing with your diabetes easier year-round, but especially when you're traveling over the holidays or on vacations!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Mouthwatering Monday" - Favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

Week 4: GIVE
Monday, November 22

“Mouthwatering Monday”   – What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day recipe? Share it here (don’t worry, we won’t tell Great Aunt Doris you’re sharing her secret!)

My favorite Thanksgiving recipe has always been my aunt's sweet potato souffle.  Of course, the original version has waaay too many carbs to be reasonable, but you could always adapt the recipe by substituting Splenda for sugar and Splenda brown sugar blend for the regular brown sugar.  To decrease the fat content, you could replace the butter with a lower-fat margarine or butter spread.  I haven't personally made the recipe below, but it appears to be very close to my aunt's recipe.

Courtesy of

Sweet Potato Souffle III


  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. In a large stockpot, cover sweet potatoes with 1 inch of water; boil for 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain, allow to cool and remove skins.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease or butter one 2 quart casserole dish.
  3. Place potatoes in a mixing bowl and with an electric mixer, beat on low speed until potatoes begin to break up. Increase speed to medium high and blend until smooth.
  4. Reduce speed to low and add sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, eggs and salt. Mix well.
  5. Allow any potato 'fibers' to remain on the beater and remove. Pour sweet potato mixture into the casserole dish.
  6. Prepare the topping in a small bowl by whisking together the brown sugar, flour, butter and pecans. Sprinkle mixture over potato mixture and bake for 40 minutes.
Nutritional Information
Sweet Potato Souffle III
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 501
  • Total Fat: 20.8g
  • Cholesterol: 105mg
  • Sodium: 367mg
  • Total Carbs: 76.5g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 3.1g
  • Protein: 4.4g

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Being Thankful

Week 3: LEARN
Sunday, November 21

Being Thankful – It’s almost Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? Has diabetes helped you realize your appreciation for anything?

A sign in front of a church in town recently read: "Don't have anything to be thankful for? Check your pulse."  =)

Aside from being alive and relatively healthy, I'm thankful for all of my family, friends, and my husband.  I'm  lucky to have so many loving people in my life, and I enjoy every minute spent with them.

I'm thankful that I have a roof over my head that we're paying a mortgage payment on instead of renting.

I'm thankful to have a car that gets me where I need to go, even though it's 13 years old and has almost 210,000 miles on it.

I'm thankful that I have a job that allows me to work with my family...and the benefits don't hurt, either!

Which leads me to this: I'm thankful to have health insurance.  Very, very thankful, especially over the past few months.

Diabetes has made me realize that a chronic illness doesn't have to interfere with your quality of life, and for that I'm glad--As the CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) said in our Diabetes Education Class last week, "It may not seem like it, but you're lucky to have diabetes today"...and it's so, so true.  I feel very thankful for today's technology and the improvements made in the last couple of decades on diabetes management.  If I would have been diagnosed even 10 years ago, I wouldn't have so much control over my disease, but now it's a very manageable chronic illness.

Having diabetes has made me realize that I shouldn't take anything for granted, especially my health...But even if your health is jeopardized in some way, I've also learned that it doesn't have to take over your life.  You might have a disease, but the disease doesn't have to have you!

I'm thankful for my dad and sister too, and everyone else in my extended family with diabetes, because even though I wouldn't wish this disease on anyone, it made it easier on me knowing that there were other people in my family going through the same thing I am.  It's a club that you never want to belong to, but that welcomes you with open arms and a great support basis when you find yourself suddenly one of its members.

I'm thankful for all of the researchers and doctors working to develop a cure for diabetes and all of the ways they improve our lives with their technology.  Our future really is in their hands--they have the power to make millions of lives better through their discoveries.

Last but certainly not least, I'm so thankful for God's help in getting through this, and for our wonderful church family.  Faith is always there for you, even when it seems like you're alone!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Short Cuts

Week 3: LEARN
Saturday, November 20

Short Cuts – Are there any diabetes short cuts you have learned over the years?

Well, since I was only diagnosed with diabetes three months ago, there aren't just a whole lot of tricks or short cuts I've learned yet, but one big one is the calorie/fat/carb (Calorie King) guide I carry with me in my purse everywhere I go.  It helps me get a pretty good idea of how many carbs a particular food has, so for me it's the closest I can get to dietary management in real time, along with the Calorie King website (which I can access from my Blackberry as well). 

Another biggie that I learned from my Certified Diebetes Educator (CDE) is how to "create your plate", which is an easy way to gauge how your meal measures up to your goals, wherever you are and whatever situation you're in (eating at home, eating out, holidays).  I shared the link to a YouTube video that explains this process on Thursday (, but the basic ideas are these:

9" plate
  1/2 Nonstarchy vegetables
  1/4 Lean meat
  1/4 Carbohydrate/Starchy vegetables
  +Serving of Milk
  +Serving of Fruit

Simple, right?  I sure think it's easy, and it's an effective way to make sure you're getting a truly balanced meal every time. 

My second tip may seem obvious, but the other big thing I've learned since my diagnosis is to follow the dietary and medication guidelines your doctor/CDE/RD gave you.  It's the most straightforward way to keep your blood glucose under control, and it's the best way to gauge how your particular strategy for diabetes managment is working.  If you're following those guidelines to a "T", your blood sugar would ideally be well controlled; however, if it's not, then you'll know (quicker) that something needs to be modified, either in your diet or your medication.  After all, the faster you make the necessary changes, the faster your blood glucose gets under control and the shorter period of time you're dealing with those damaging high numbers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Friends & Family Friday" - Say Anything

Week 3: LEARN
Friday, November 19th

"Friends & Family Friday" - As the holidays approach, social events and family gatherings are bound to occur. If you could say anything, what would you tell your loved ones about your diabetes?

This will be a short post, because I'm "typing" it on my Blackberry!

If I could say anything to my loved ones about my diabetes, it would be this: Diabetes is a part of my life (albeit an unfortunate one), but it's not who I am. I appreciate all the support and encouragement I can get, though!

-Please don't try to force me to eat something/more than I should because "it can't hurt"-Technically it won't "hurt" me today, but I'm also concerned about the future, and high blood sugars over time DO cause damage! It's my future, so please take me at my word.

-On the flip side, I don't need a personal diabetes SWAT team either. I'm the one who has been through all the classes and seen Certified Diabetes Educators and Registered Dietitians, so I know what my dietary guidelines are. What works/doesn't work for someone else may not work for me, so please keep the "advice" to a minimum. Thank you! =)

-Also, a big "Thank you" in advance for keeping the sweet stuff/other carbohydrates out of my reach if I ask-it definitely helps me avoid temptation when I know I've had enough!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Survival

Week 3: LEARN
Thursday, November 18

Holiday Survival – Here’s our guide to surviving the holidays (PDF). What’s your survival tip? Do you avoid carbs, fats, or family members?

I've always been a pretty healthy eater, but since I've found out that I have diabetes, I've had to be more careful about what I eat.  Of course, this is always tough, but especially so around the holidays.  As with eating out, my biggest survival tip is to PLAN...Plan ahead of time what you're going to eat, look up the carb contents of your favorite holiday foods to see how they'll fit into your meal, and take time to remind yourself not to overdo it and to keep your plate small and balanced!

Whenever I go out to eat, my biggest tools are my purse-size Calorie King guide and my Blackberry--if I know ahead of time where we're going, I look in the guide to see if that restaurant's menu is listed and find something that falls within my carb and other dietary targets.  If a particular restaurant isn't in there, I look it up online or simply find the general type of food in their restaurant guide--i.e., Mexican, Italian, etc.  If that still doesn't work out, or if where we eat turns out to be a last minute decision, I use the index to find the nutrition facts for specific foods.

My plan is to use this same strategy, along with the carb counting "rules" I've learned, to get me through those holiday meals.  It's good to have a general idea what counts as one carb (15g of carbohydrate) for general types of food (pasta, rice, bread, starchy vegetables, fruit, milk, etc.), and be able to accurately assess serving sizes.  (Key word: accurately)

If all else fails, you can always "create your plate":
It's always a good idea, and easy to follow in every situation & meal!

Most importantly, I think, is to allow yourself to eat the things you really want to eat, just in reasonable amounts...If you don't, it seems like you tend to overeat more of the things you don't want as much and don't feel as satisfied.  Holidays often revolve around food, and I don't think you should prevent yourself from enjoying it along with everyone else--as long as you keep track of what and how much you're eating. 

Diabetes seems to deprive us of so much, so being able to truly enjoy the holidays (and every day) within reason is extremely important to our emotional health.  It's something that most people don't like to talk about, but depression is a real and pressing issue, especially for someone who is already dealing with diabetes and all it entails.  The day to day challenges of living with this disease can really be overwhelming at times, so it's important to be able to effectively relieve your stress and know who and where to turn to if you need more help.  Also, I want to emphasize how imperative it is not to feel ashamed for feeling like you need some extra help in dealing with these emotional issues...Mental health is often overlooked in the context of disease management, and it's one of the most important things in considering the overall well being of a person.  In the U.S., psychological disorders are still stigmatized, despite how prevalent they really are, so it's very common for someone to be fearful of getting the help they need just because they don't want to feel like a failure or that there is something "wrong" with them.  It's so important to realize that not getting the help you need is much more damaging to you than the perceived consequences of seeking it out, over the holidays or at any time of the year.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

“Wordless Wednesday”

Week 3: LEARN
Wednesday, November 17

“Wordless Wednesday” – Share a picture or video on your blog! (need ideas for subject matter? What’s the first thing you remember learning about diabetes? Who did you learn it from?)

The first thing I remember learning about diabetes I learned not necessarily from someone, but by observing someone.  My dad's uncle had uncontrolled diabetes, and eventually died as a result of complications from the disease.  I remember him having lots of health problems, and hearing that he "didn't take care of himself"-- He was a bachelor who lived alone out in the country, and from what I understand didn't monitor his blood glucose like he should have.  My memories of him are vague, but the biggest thing I remember about him is that he badly burned his feet sitting in front of a heater due to diabetic neuropathy, a complication that results from high blood sugars and causes loss of feeling in the extremities.  As a result of that injury, he had to have part of his foot amputated, then more of his foot, and he never really recovered from it.  Eventually, these complications (along with others from the disease, I'm sure) led to his death.

It's a sad story, and what's sadder is that almost everyone knows someone who has experienced the same thing.  In the past, diabetes has always been associated with blindness, amputation, and all sorts of other ailments, and even today some people believe that being diagnosed with the disease automatically means that these complications will be your future.  Uncontrolled diabetes does lead to complications, but the good thing is that most of these complications can be prevented through good control over your blood glucose numbers.

This video has good information about the prevention of diabetes complications, as well as some of its symptoms:

This one discusses amputation more specifically, and does include some graphic images of amputation, so "viewer discretion is advised"!:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Week 3: LEARN
Tuesday, November 16

FAQ – What question do you get asked the most when you tell someone you have diabetes? Do you use any of these opportunities to help teach about diabetes, or do they get annoying? Or both?

That's a good question...I would probably have to say that the most common question I get asked is some variation of "What can/can't you eat?" or, "So that means you can't have dessert anymore, right?"  Not surprisingly, what comes to mind when people hear "Diabetes" is "sugar"...more specifically, that people with diabetes can't have anything with sugar in it.  Of course, this is just a myth, albeit a very popular one. 

(FYI, people with diabetes can have food with sugar in it, but the main concern is counting the carbs you take in, no matter what form they take.  A Snickers bar?  Sure, but you have to count it and adjust your diet/medicine accordingly.  A treat here and there is fine; it's the bigger picture that matters, and trying to incorporate as many good, healthy carbs [i.e., whole grains, fruits, milk, etc.] into a balanced diet is the main goal.  Also, there is no "diabetes diet"...When you have diabetes, any dietician or doctor will tell you that you need to eat the same healthy way they would recommend for anyone else, just with a special emphasis on consistently keeping track of your carbohydrate intake.)

Whenever people ask me questions about having diabetes, I just try my best to answer them to the best of my knowledge...After all, if I can educate someone through my experience, why wouldn't I?  I've always been a communicator, and at times even an oversharer, so talking about my diabetes is no sweat for me.  If anything, I like to take the opportunity to gently correct any misconceptions they have about the disease, and to help them understand what it actually means to live with it.  I've learned a lot about the subject over the past couple of months, and I enjoy being able to share that with others.  I guess you could say it's how I'm doing my part in increasing diabetes awareness...hence this blog!

The only time I get slightly irritated is when pushy people try to project their preconceived (incorrect) notions or unsolicited "medical advice" onto me.  Yes, in all likelihood I will be able to have a healthy pregnancy in the future, provided I follow my doctors' advice and keep my blood glucose in check.  Yes, if there are preexisting complications from diabetes, pregnancy can exacerbate them, and it's not a great idea to plan a pregnancy if your BG numbers are out of control.  BUT we have all kinds of amazing technology to monitor our control over the disease on a day to day or even minute to minute basis.  Try explaining this to someone whose only frame of reference for diabetes in pregnancy is "Steel Magnolias", though, and you've got a frustrating situation on your hands.  I'm trying to prepare myself ahead of time for dealing with that kind of thinking, which I'm sure I'll encounter at least once during pregnancy in the future.

As far as the unsolicited "medical advice" goes, people have all kinds of ideas that they've heard over the years about diabetes treatment, and they're always so eager to share them with you once they find out you're "a Diabetic".  Some people even take it upon themselves to personally be your Diabetes Police Team, instructing you on what you should and shouldn't be doing as "a Diabetic".  Personally I haven't had to deal with this much, but I know my younger sister, who has Type 1 Diabetes, has.  I know that some of these people are genuinely trying to help, but the way I see it is that I'm the one who has to live with this disease, and as long as I follow the plan my doctors have given me, I'm doing just fine on my own!

Clearly, this is a pet peeve of mine, along with people referring to you as a "Diabetic with a capital 'D'," as I like to say.  It's not my first name, and it doesn't define who I am...I am a person with Diabetes and much more, thank you!  I know that the term is very commonplace, especially with older generations, but with today's technology, this disease does not take over a person's life like it did back then, so the term seems kind of outdated now.  Maybe it shouldn't irritate me like it does, but it does all the same.  I mean, you don't refer to a cancer patient as a "Cancerian", or someone with another disease as if it were their first name, so why diabetes?  It may seem like a minor distinction, but trust me, it's important to those of us with the disease.

My feelings on that subject also have to do with the fact that I have a minor in Psychology.  In my Abnormal Psych class, our professor really emphasized how important it was to not define someone by their disorder...i.e., a person with Bipolar Disorder, not a Bipolar person--that they are a person first and foremost, and just happen to have a disorder or disease that affects them adversely.  I don't know about you, but I didn't sign up for having this disease...It wasn't a choice, and I don't like to be defined by it!

Also, it's an important distinction because every person with Diabetes is different.  In the same way that our personalities are different, our disease also affects each of us differently.  To attach a label to someone is to put them in a box, and let's face it...Not many people fit into those boxes!  Although we all have something in common (either our bodies don't produce enough insulin, or can't use it efficiently enough), all of us have a unique set of circumstances that determine what our treatment should be.  What works for me might be useless or even harmful to someone else with the disease...As Gretchen Becker puts it in her book "The First Year: Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed ," your mileage may vary.

Please don't misunderstand me in all of this...I know that a lot of the things that frustrate me only come from ignorance about the disease, and I'm doing everything I can to help fix that.  I am not the kind of person to bite someone's head off even if they refer to me as a "Diabetic," but it does irritate me on the inside nonetheless.  More likely than not, I'll answer their questions with a smile, and try to correct any myths and misconceptions that they hold as truth, and hopefully leave them a little more informed.  I truly do welcome any questions that people have about the disease--as we've all heard, "There are no stupid questions." 

I had a lot of misconceived notions about diabetes before I was diagnosed, and that's partially because no one took the time to explain to me the real facts behind the disease.  I'm guilty of being the "Diabetes Policewoman" of the family for my sister on more than one occassion, and I even thought that the disease was something you brought onto yourself somehow, through poor eating habits and not enough exercise.  Now that I know more about diabetes, I know that it's no one's "fault" that they have it; it's not caused by eating too much sugar, and although our environment has something to do with its emergence at times, the bottom line is that you have to have the gene to develop the disease.  If I can help someone else better understand what this disease is about, then I've accomplished my goal.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Mouthwatering Monday" - Favorite Snack

Week 3: LEARN
Monday, November 15

 “Mouthwatering Monday” – Carrot sticks and potato chips have a similar crunch, but the similarities end there. What’s your favorite snack?

Without a doubt, my favorite snack is Dippin Stix Sliced Apples & Peanut Butter.  I eat them at least once (if not twice) daily, and every time I go to Walmart, I stock up on them...I literally by every single one they have in the refrigerator section sometimes, because they don't always carry them!

They're wonderful because they're portable--presliced apples packaged with just enough peanut butter in a separate section to dip them in--and delicious; plus, they're a healthy and nutritious snack--a good balance of carbs and fiber (from the fruit), and protein (from the PB).  You do have to keep them refrigerated, but they hold up fine on a couple hour car ride as well.

I also love oatmeal.  I eat it just about every morning for breakfast, although I could eat it (and sometimes do) at any time of the day.  I've enjoyed trying all of the different flavors and varieties, and have been pleasantly surprised by the healthier whole grain versions.  Recently, I tried Kashi  Kashi Go Lean Honey & Cinnamon Whole Grain Oatmeal...My expectations weren't very high (only because it's definitely a healthy with a capital "H" food!), but I ended up loving it!  It has a distinct taste that is more cereal-like than most other oatmeals, but that gave it a little something extra.  It's especially wonderful on a cold day...I ate some just yesterday before going to church.

Some of my favorite oatmeal are of the "Fruit & Cream" variety, but they do have more added sugar, so I don't eat them as often and only when my blood glucose numbers are doing good.  A good alternative I've found are whole grain with fruit bits added...I can't remember off the top of my head what brand they are, but I've tried both the blueberry and cranberry kinds, and they're very good.  I'll try to take note of what brand they are and post it for you later.

Before I go, I thought I'd give you an update.  My BG has still been running high, though not quite as high as it was Friday.  I watched it very carefully over the weekend, and luckily it never went above 375 again--I was prepared to go to the ER if it went above 400.  I also checked my urine for ketones throughout the weekend to be on the safe side, and I was glad that I never had any.  Well, I better go, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

World Diabetes Day

Week 2: ACT
Sunday, November 14

World Diabetes Day – Today is World Diabetes Day, recognized by the United Nations, so across the globe people are taking an action to raise diabetes awareness. What about you?

I'm so glad that diabetes awareness has taken on the global scene in the form of World Diabetes Day...Hopefully there will be a World Diabetes Month before too long!  My involvement in diabetes awareness really began in full force with American Diabetes Month at the beginning of November.  I decided that the best thing I could do to participate would be to share my experience with being newly diagnosed with the disease with the masses through this blog.  My hope is that I can help someone somewhere live better with diabetes, or at least feel like they're not alone in dealing with it.

If you've been reading my posts, you probably know my story; however, since we're halfway through the month, I thought I would share a little bit about my situation for those who may be new to the blog.  So...I'm Ashley. I'm 22 years old, an August 2009 graduate of Texas Tech University, and a newlywed since January.  A couple of months ago (August 23rd to be exact, and ironically, our seven month wedding anniversary), I was diagnosed with diabetes.  I saw an endocrinologist at the end of September, and was told that I had Type 2 diabetes that I could most likely control through diet and exercise.  Since then, I've seen a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator), attended a Diabetes Education Class, and gone to a Diabetes Health Fair.  Through all of these things (and the 10 or so books I've read since my diagnosis), I've learned a lot about the disease and living with it.

I've been able to control my blood glucose relatively well so far with diet and exercise alone, but more recently, I've been dealing with some unexplained high readings that have led me to consider that I may, in fact, be in the "honeymoon" stage of Type 1 or "Type 1 1/2", or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults (LADA).  With this phenomenon, blood glucose is normally fairly well controlled with diet and exercise and perhaps the use of oral hypoglycemics (drugs that help lower blood glucose) for some time (sometimes months or even years), but eventually, the pancreas completely stops producing insulin and injectible insulin is required to avoid high blood glucose and the resulting complications.

At the Diabetes Education Class and Health Fair I attended this week, several of the health professionals commented on the unusual nature of my diagnosis--I'm not overweight, I'm young and in relatively good health otherwise--in other words, not their typical Type 2 patient.  They seemed unconvinced that that could be the case, and that I should really keep an eye on my BG readings in case I am in that honeymoon stage and Type 1 or 1 1/2 is just around the corner for me.

When I was first diagnosed, I would have given anything to be Type 2 instead of Type 1.  My younger sister was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 16, so I knew what a struggle it was for her.  My dad, on the other hand, found out he has Type 2 Diabetes a couple of years ago, and he was able to control his through a strict diet, weight loss, and exercise.  I suppose for me it's a control issue...I don't like not having control over situations, so finding out I have diabetes brought out that part of my personality even more.  In my mind, at least with Type 2 you still had some control over what your body did, whereas with Type 1 you're dependent on insulin to stay alive.

That was my thinking originally, but since I've had some time to deal with the shock of my diagnosis, I've come to accept a lot of things that are beyond my control.  If it turns out I have Type 1, so be it.  LADA/Type 1 1/2, ditto.  I would just like to know so I can do something about it.  Yes, I'm very much a Type A perfectionist.  And if I'm one of those two types rather than Type 2, I want to go on insulin sooner rather than later, simply because scientists believe that this may save some of your existing beta cells (the cells that produce insulin in your pancreas) and make the disease easier to control in the long run. 

It may seem like I've accepted my diagnosis fairly well, and in some ways I have.  BUT, I still have days where I'm overwhelmed by the disease and everything that goes along with it.  The constant finger sticks, worrying, watching everything that I put in my mouth, and exercising in a furious effort to keep my BG under control...It's a lot to deal with.  Thinking about the future gets to me too, because I worry about health insurance and starting a family, with all of the extra attention that comes along with being pregnant and having diabetes.  I try not to worry myself too much about complications from the disease, because I know that they're largely preventable if you keep your blood glucose under control...And that's something I fully intend to do, whether that means taking medicines that have unpleasant side effects or injecting myself with insulin several times a day.  And hopefully, my insurance will pay for an insulin pump so I can have better control over my BG.  But that's for another day...=)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unexpected Exercise

Week 2: ACT
Saturday, November 13

Unexpected Exercise – Raking leaves can be such a chore, but it can also be a great way to sneak in some exercise. What are some ways you sneak in some exercise? (And no, we don’t think “Jedi mind tricks” count!)

I learned a lot of ways that I can sneak in some extra exercise at my Diabetes Education Class a few days ago.  The physical therapist suggested getting up and moving, no matter what you're doing--talking on the phone, working, watching tv--because, as she said, those little things add up and are much better than doing nothing because you're so intimidated by having to EXERCISE. 

Since I don't have a maid (sad, I know), one of the main ways I add some extra exercise to my daily routine is by doing housework.  Sweeping, laundry, dishes...It's not strenuous activity, but it's activity.  During the summer, I found that gardening was a great way to get moving...Pulling weeds is hard work!

Being the perfectionist that I am, I can have an all or nothing attitude toward some things...Diet and exercise being the main ones.  Sometimes I tend to think, "Well, I've already 'messed up' for today, so I might as well forget about it all together..." or "No matter what I do, my blood sugar isn't coming down, so why try?"  Of course, I know that this kind of thinking is counterproductive, but it happens nonetheless.  It's something that I'm having to work on, and it's going to be a long road until I can accept things as they happen, even when I don't have much control over the situation.

Before I go, an update from yesterday--I set my alarm for 3:00 this morning to check my blood sugar and make sure it was going down, and it had dropped from 374 that evening to 163.  When I got up around 9:30, it was 138 before I ate breakfast...So it was still high, but not dangerously so.  I'm definitely going to keep a close eye on my numbers for the rest of the weekend just in case, but I'm hoping and praying that they stay in a good range until I'm able to pick up my prescription (Janumet) on Monday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Friends & Family Friday" - Biggest Support

Week 2: ACT
Friday, November 12

“Friends & Family Friday” – Who is your biggest support and how do they help you in managing your diabetes?

All of my family and friends--husband, parents, aunts & uncles, siblings, close friends--are helpful when it comes to helping me manage my diabetes...It's sort of a group effort sometimes!  They provide encouragement, a listening ear, and sometimes, even just ignoring my diabetes long enough to have a normal conversation about anything but my disease.

My mom has really been a big support since my diagnosis.  We've grown very close in the past several years, and are as close to best friends as a mother and daughter can be.  She went to my first doctor's appointment with me, when I found out that I did, in fact, have diabetes...I think my diagnosis was harder on her at first than it was for me.  When the doctor left the room, I was almost numb, but when I looked over at her, she had tears in her eyes...Which, of course, made me start crying!

Since then, she's been to all of my doctor's appointments with me, and she even came with me yesterday for the Diabetes Education Class I took (an hour and a half away).  We stayed overnight, and went to a Diabetes Health Fair at the same hospital this morning.  I honestly don't know what I would do without her...My husband realistically can't get off work every time I have an appointment, so if it weren't for my mom, I would have to go to all of them by myself.  She was joking just the other day that she would be going to all my prenatal appointments with me once I'm pregnant too, which isn't far from the truth!  Of course I'll want my husband to go to some of them with me, but I know that she'll probably be at the rest of them!

I'm so grateful to have such wonderful family and friends throughout all of this...It can definitely be a struggle, and a disheartening one, so having so many people supporting you makes it infinitely more easy to deal with.  The past week or so, I've been dealing with unexplained high blood sugars, and I know that there is something going on with my body.  I'm thinking that I might really have LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults), because my readings have been consistently creeping upward and have at times been scary high for me.  Last weekend I had my first really high reading (371), but tonight I've been running in the 300's since 5 or 6 o'clock.  Since that's (obviously) above 250, I haven't been able to exercise to bring it down, either...According to most resources, you shouldn't exercise when you're at that point and have ketones in your urine, but some things I've read say not to exercise then at all, especially if you're in the 300-400 range.  You can read more about this subject here:

Anyway, since I've been having consistently high readings, I called my endocrinologist this afternoon and asked them what I could do to modify my current treatment regimen (diet and exercise only, no meds).  They called in a prescription for Juvamet for me, but it won't be available at my pharmacy until Monday, so I guess I'll have to wait it out over the weekend and keep close watch of my BG numbers.  Then, once I start taking my medicine, I'm hoping that my blood sugars will go down until I'm able to see my doctor again.

Well, I'm going to get off my computer and relax so that hopefully my BG will come down on its own...I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

Week 2: ACT
Thursday, November 11

Veteran’s Day – Veterans Day marks end of World War 1 in 1918 on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Is there something you do every day at the same time to help with your diabetes routine?

I apologize for not posting earlier in the day, but I had good reason--I promise!  From 9:00am-3:30pm today, I was in a Diabetes Education course learning about living with my disease.  Oh, and we had to leave town before 7:00, because we had a 1-1/2 to 2 hour drive to the city where the class was being held...So I had a long day!

Anyway, I first want to take the time to thank all of the veterans for their service in whatever war(s) they served in.  I truly appreciate what you all have done to protect and preserve our freedom.  I'm thankful to live in a country where I have a say in my Diabetes care, and a large part of that is due to that very freedom.  I'm proud to be the granddaughter of two veterans, one of World War II and one of the Korean War, and I feel that we are all indebted to veterans for their service.

As far as the subject at hand, I don't particularly have anything that I do at the exact same thing every day to help with my Diabetes management, mainly because my life is busy and I find it easier to "go with the flow" than to fight against it.  However, I do try to remember to test my blood glucose at least once as soon as I wake up in the morning and two hours after at least two meals during the day.  I also test whenver I feel a low coming on, or if I suspect I'm running high.

When I was diagnosed, the local doctor told me to test twice a day, in the morning and before bed.  As someone with Type 2, though, that really wasn't helpful in telling me anything I didn't already know...Yes, I have Diabetes; therefore, my BGs are going to be (hopefully only somewhat) higher than average during those times.  Upon reading more books on my own, I found out about the importance of testing your BG before and then two hours after meals--as I learned today, this is called "testing in pairs."  This type of testing gives me much more information about how I'm doing in my Diabetes care in a more real-time setting than if I were only to wait until it had a chance to return closer to normal (i.e., in the morning and late evening).

As the CDE teaching our class noted, there are no "good" or "bad" numbers, because they provide us with valuable information about how we're doing with managing our Diabetes.  Of course, I know this theoretically, but taking that to heart is much harder for me to do.  As I've told you before, I'm definitely a Type A perfectionist, and always have been.  Grades were always very important to me in school, which is how I ended up graduating Summa Cum Laude with a perfect 4.0 from Texas Tech University in August 2009--the only one of my fellow graduates to do so.  I bring this up to show you that while there are definitely situations in which my personality gives me an advantage, as far as Diabetes management goes, it can be a problem.

In the two and a half months since my diagnosis, I've dealt with the highs and lows of Diabetes with some trepidation.  First of all, I have to know everything I can about something before I feel comfortable dealing with it, and this was no exception...Hence the nine or ten books I've read on the subject in that time.  As I gained knowledge on my disease, I also gained confidence in my ability to deal with it.  However, in practice, it's much harder for me.  Due to my personality, I tend to regard my BG readings as "grades" of sort; if I fall within my range, I feel at peace with myself, but if I run high (especially if I'm much higher than my targets), I feel like I've failed myself, and inevitably end up feeling guilty for whatever it was that I ate that caused the high reading in the first place.

I know all of this, and I understand why I feel that way (I have a minor in Psychology)--high readings make me feel "out of control," and that's a feeling I definitely don't like.  After all, if we can't control what our own body is doing, what can we control?  I hate change, and I hate not having control of a situation...Two things I've had to deal with directly upon being diagnosed with this disease. 

After today, I'm going to try to focus on the things I can do to bring my high readings down, and be proactive in getting in touch with my doctor to modify my treatment.  I've started out with just diet and exercise, but as high as my readings have been lately (even when I eat my recommended # of carbs), I think it's time to try something else.  At first, I felt like the diet and exercise form of treatment was superior, a "badge of honor" of sorts (i.e., it made me feel like I could control this on my own, without the help of medications), but now I see that in order to keep my BG readings within range, I'm going to need some additional help--and I'm okay with that.  I've been leaning towards insulin, but one of the pharmacology students I talked to today reminded me that insulin can cause weight gain, so that's something I'll definitely have to take into consideration.  BUT I know that when we decide to have kids, I'll have to be on insulin anyway (oral medications are not approved for use during pregnancy), so I figure why not start now?

I suppose we'll have to see what happens, and you know I'll keep you updated! =)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Wordless Wednesday" - Biggest Inspiration

Week 2: ACT
Wednesday, November 10

“Wordless Wednesday” – Share a picture or video on your blog! (need ideas for subject matter? What’s your biggest inspiration in taking action in the movement to stop diabetes? Show us! Or if you haven’t joined the movement yet, Share, Act, Learn or Give to get started now!)

When you have Diabetes, much of your everyday life is spent counting carbs, sticking your fingers, and thinking about how everything you eat and do will affect your blood glucose.  Needless to say, that level of constant attention and responsibility can become pretty overwhelming.  That is why I decided to make today's post a more lighthearted one...But first, some background information!

If you've been reading my blog posts up to this point, you already know that one of my major goals in living with and managing my Type 2 Diabetes is having a safe, healthy pregnancy and baby in the future.  When I'm trudging away on the treadmill an hour after eating, trying to make sure that my blood sugar doesn't go high (or trying to bring it down when it's already high), one of the only things that keeps me motivated to keep going is knowing that what I'm doing is contributing not only to my health, but the health of our children in the future.

Now, that begs the question: What will our kids look like?

To answer that (extremely deep =] ) question, I turned to, where you can upload photos of you and your spouse, or just about anyone you want (i.e., celebrities) and see what your babies might look like!  Here are the results:

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!  ;)

All joking aside, our future children are my biggest inspiration in taking action in the movement to stop Diabetes.  If something that I can do increases the chances that they won't have to deal with this disease, I'm on board 110%.  And it's not just for my children's future...It's for everyone's.  I hope that in my lifetime a cure will be found for Diabetes, because I want to give our children the best life possible--and for me, that includes living in a world without Diabetes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Week 2: ACT
Tuesday, November 9

News – Thanks to American Diabetes Month®, diabetes has been in the headlines this week.  Did you see any diabetes articles that were interesting? Inspiring? Frustrating? While there’s no controlling what the media says, what topics would you cover if you were a reporter?

When you Google "Diabetes" under "News," there are many, many stories that come up that have been posted in the last several days.  Popular topics in the headlines include research and advancements in Diabetes detection and care, symptoms and risk factors for the disease, new drugs, and even smartphone apps designed especially for Diabetes management.

While I'm glad to see that Diabetes is making the news, I wish the awareness wave would reach mainstream media a bit more.  Right now, it seems more of an underground movement than the tidal wave I believe it needs to be in order to truly raise awareness of the disease.  There are so many misconceptions about Diabetes that could easily be cleared up, if only the media would take the time and initiative to focus on the subject.  Even though two of my immediate family members were diagnosed two to four years before I was, I really knew very little about the disease until I personally ended up with it.

I think that American Diabetes Month is a wonderful way to get all of this across, and I'm thankful to the American Diabetes Association for taking the initiative to publicize these important issues.  It will take every one of us with the disease, and those who love us, as well as all of the medical experts and researchers in the field, to make this movement a success.  It doesn't matter if you can't donate money, because many of us (myself included) are in that same boat.  All we need is your voice and your time.  It only takes one person to plant a seed that grows into something much bigger, and all of us are capable of doing something to spread the word.

It's as simple as going to the following link to download a "StopDiabetes" badge or widget to post to Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter (or, if you don't use social networking, your email signature!) for the month of November (and beyond!).

And, as always, you can go to to find other ways that you can help!

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Mouthwatering Monday"

Week 2: ACT
Monday, November 8

"Mouthwatering Monday" - What's your favorite entree? How does it affect your blood glucose?

I love food.  All kinds of food.  Italian, Mexican, Greek, German, you name it!  My all-time favorite, though, has always been Italian.  When I was younger, getting to go eat at Olive Garden for my birthday was something I always looked forward to.

It's hard to say what my favorite dish is, but lately I've really enjoyed eating the Lasagna Classico at Olive Garden when I have the chance.  As long as I get the lunch portion, and only eat half a breadstick with it and some salad, my blood sugar stays within my target range.  However, if I eat the lasagna plus two breadsticks with alfredo dipping sauce and salad, my blood glucose numbers are in the 200's.

It's so strange to see how seemingly little changes to a meal can make such a huge difference in the affect on your blood glucose.  Some things can be just enough to put it over the edge, while others can keep it within a decent range.  It's something I'm still working on, and every day seems to be a learning curve.  One of the things that most easily stresses me out about having Diabetes is the fact that I have to think about how anything I put in my mouth is going to affect my blood glucose.  I'm sometimes envious when I'm around other people, knowing that they have the leisure of being able to eat anything they want without worrying how it's going to directly affect their health in the short- and long-term.  Oh, what I would give sometimes to throw caution to the wind and eat a wonderful piece of cake with a big scoop of ice cream!  But alas, living a long life is substantially more important to me than those few minutes of (sweet, yummy) pleasure...Most of the time! =)  All joking aside, I do indulge in a few bites of dessert every now and then, provided my numbers are good...After all, what is life without breaking the rules every once in a while?!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daylight Savings

Week 1: SHARE
Sunday, November 7

Daylight Savings – Daylight Savings ended today, so you got an extra hour of sleep! Some people will need to adjust their insulin pump clocks, others may simply change the clocks on their wall. Does an hour change affect your diabetes management?

I have a love/hate relationship with Daylight Savings Time.  I love "falling back," but I hate having to "spring forward"!  The extra hour of sleep last night was wonderful.  Since I'm a Type 2 and not on any medications or insulin, Daylight Savings didn't have much of an impact on my Diabetes management...Other than the fact that due to that extra hour of sleep, combined with sleeping in late, my blood glucose was low when I got up this morning!

My husband had changed the time on the microwave clock, but then shortly after we got back from lunch, our power went out, so now we'll have to change our clocks again.  I was just fixing to write today's post when I realized my laptop wasn't getting electricity from its cord, and it took us a little while to figure out that the power in the whole house was out.  Apparently, the whole town was without electricity, and it just now came back on...I was excited not only to have my laptop going again, but also to be able to turn the heater on...I was freezing under my blanket!

The past couple of days have been a series of ups and downs for me.  On Friday night, my husband and I ate at a steakhouse on our trip.  I thought I did "good", but then my blood sugar was crazy high two hours down the road...When I first checked it, it said 371!  I was in disbelief that it could be that high, so I retested and got 289.  When I thought back over what I ate, I figured out that it must have been the couple of corn muffins I ate at supper.  They were pretty sweet, but I never dreamed they would cause my blood glucose to be that high!  Since I've been testing, those are the highest numbers I've ever gotten--the day I was diagnosed, I was at 257, and it hasn't been that high since then.  I was angry at myself for having such a high reading, and I was disappointed since I thought I had eaten a pretty balanced meal.  Then, since we were on the highway and it was dark, I couldn't do anything to bring it down--Usually if I get a higher reading, I exercise.  Consequently, I was left to sit there knowing that it was high, and I couldn't do anything about it.  I finally made piece with knowing that it would most likely eventually come down on its own, and that tomorrow was a new day.  No matter how optimistic you are, though, things like that can very easily discourage you.  I think the most important thing in times like that is to figure out what lead to the high reading, and do your best in the future not to repeat it. 

Even though I'm living with a disease characterized by these highs and lows, my Type A personality and perfectionism sometimes get the best of me.  I have high expectations for staying in my target range, and I get frustrated when I fall outside of it.  I'm working on managing those feelings, though, especially since I know that stress releases hormones that raise you blood sugar even more.  Keeping that balanec between denial and preoccupation is just a day to day battle!