Category: Personal take

Never Stop Learning

Never Stop Learning

In the early 80s, soon after leaving home,  I was an uninsured Type 1 diabetic with little knowledge of  what diabetes meant other than “limits on everything”,  from foods, to activities,  to extended times away from my apartment where my supplies were being refrigerated.  I had no idea what my sugars were running mainly due to having no knowledge of blood glucose monitors, I was still using the urine test strips, which I could barely afford.  I figured as long as I didn’t eat “sugar”  I would be fine.

I was working in the food and beverage industry in the Florida Keys when low and behold,  I learned my bosses wife was also diabetic, a well informed and insured diabetic who knew enough to help me make some better choices and taught me just enough to make me want to know more.  We talked often, however, it was evident she did not do as she preached.   Shortly thereafter,  I gained employment in a hospital setting where I was able to get group insurance, find a doctor and get my first blood glucose monitor.   One of the  main things I did learn the hard way,  was to inform the  people  I spent most of  my time with,  about my condition, as you will soon read why.

Now armed with my blood monitor, and a desire to lose weight and slay the world,  I continued working 2 jobs, little time to eat, which fit right into my plan of weight loss.  I soon came to learn what a  low blood sugar felt like, only I didn’t know that that is what I was feeling.   One afternoon, when I was suppose to be getting up to work across the street,  third double shift  in a row,  I woke but could not move, could not talk, my mouth was filled with blood.  I tried to roll out of bed, landing face down on the floor, not being able to rise.  Holy Crap!  Had I had a stroke, I sounded like it.  I drug myself across the floor, on my belly,  to the phone which, unfortunately was hanging on the wall over the kitchen table.  Pulling up on the chair to stand didn’t work, my legs were like putty.  I reached for the phone, dialed work and heard myself talk for the first time,  Oh my god!!  I must have had a stroke, next thing I know, I was tipping over backward, pulling the phone out of the wall and landing on the floor again, fortunately it was by the door.  I reached up and turned the knob just enough to unlock it, just in case someone would come,  then I just laid back down  as I had no energy for anything else.  Luckily, everyone at work new I was never late,  some knew I had diabetes, and somehow figured out that garbled message on the phone was  me.  Off to the hospital we went, again armed with  new knowledge for future reference, of what a low blood sugar felt like.  Scary!!!

Sure, I have had many since then, many, many, many, as it turns out I have  good sensitivity to insulin.  My symptoms evolved and sometimes they  even scared and confused me,  however, being told I should keep my glucose as controlled as someone without diabetes, was probably the worse thing my endocrinologist  at that time, could have told me.   It was  only just recently,  my new endo  informed  me now that I’m older,  I will not tolerate such severe or frequent  lows.  As glucose is a major source of food for our brain, it turns out I have killed off the “federal  deficits” worth over the years.   I make light of it with others, however, knowing in the back of my mind,  I need to be more vigilant,  and compliant when my husband tells me, “you need juice.”  He is usually right, even if I don’t realize it yet.

Breaking Tradition!….


Breaking Tradition

I realize one of the biggest deals of the Holidays are the family traditions, especially when it comes to the meals.  In this day and age, however, with obesity running rampant, Type 2 Diabetes next in line, not to mention high cholesterol, high blood pressure and numerous food allergies,  wouldn’t it be a “special Holiday gift”  to your family,  if you could introduce them to foods that will not clog an artery,  or raise  blood pressure, or especially spike someones blood sugar out the roof after the meal is done.

Sure, we all “cheat” during the Holidays, but learning the alternatives is setting a good example for the younger generations, and showing your favorite diabetic that you were thinking of them during  meal planning  too.  Introduce a few items at a time, we wouldn’t want to shock tradition, however, how can any of them be mad that you are looking out for their health.  As I mentioned in  “Let the Holidays Begin”,   I usually bring a “safe” dish that I know will not affect my sugar negatively, and for  whoever cares to partake, of course with the appropriate “bad sauces and dips” on the side.  We Americans really do put to much emphasis on food.

This article was on Yahoo homepage, by Sarah B Weir, “Everything Guide to Entertainment”, Nov 26, 2013,  with great substitutes for some incredibly sinister side dishes served on the Holidays, and I say sinister not only because of calories and fat count,  but because of the additives, preservatives  and chemical parts in the ingredient labels which few people read.

“With a few tweaks, you can still enjoy an indulgent, satisfying, and delicious meal without going, shall we say, hog wild. Here are the biggest calorie bombs per serving and lighter alternatives—if you made all these swaps, you would save more than 4,000 calories!!! Skip: Mixed Nuts 442 calories per half cup, Splurge: Shrimp Cocktail 183 calories per cup. Skip Mashed Potatoes With Cream and Butter 305 calories per 3/4 cup, Splurge: Roast Potatoes With Olive Oil and Herbs 141 calories per 2/3 cup. Skip: Green Bean Casserole 375 calories per cup.  Splurge: Green Beans With Caramelized Onions and Walnuts 131 calories per 3/4 cup. Skip: Creamed Onions 328 calories per 3/4 cup.  Splurge: Sauteed Brussels Sprouts 100 calories per 3/4 cup.  Skip: Candied Sweet Potatoes 587 calories per 2/3 cup, Splurge: Roasted Sweet Potatoes 96 calories per 1/2 cup.  Skip: Turkey with Gravy 71 calories per 1/2 cup and Sausage Stuffing 610 calories per cup, Splurge: Turkey With Fresh Cranberry Sauce 40 calories per 1/4 cup,  Skip: Chocolate Pecan Pie With Whipped Cream 850 calories per 1/8 whole pie,  Splurge: Pumpkin Pie 316 calories per 1/8 whole pie.

Now I can see  my family’s faces right now, IF they read this, but if you reread the above measurements,  how many people stop at the 1/2,  3/4, or 2/3s cup of anything, so these numbers are actually fewer than what is consumed.  They laugh at me for my eating habits, and say that I have to eat this way, well guess what, “No, I don’t”, but I love my family and wish they could all eat healthier.  My mom was successful several years ago when she wanted to lose weight, we bought her books on carbs counting, kind of a modified South Beach Diet.  She lost and looked great in her “bejeweled pocket jeans”, she was early 70s at the time,  and thankfully my niece watches what she allows her baby girl to eat, hopefully, instilling “healthy” eating habits that she will grow into.    If you love your family, you should give it a try, a little at a time.


Sweet Memories!

Sweet MemoriesUnfortunately, the meals we have eaten all of our lives, are now under fire.  Nutritional “gurus” tell us one thing one day, only to be changed by another “expert” the next.  Who”s right, who do we believe, and WHY is it so darn confusing.   In the old days, we trusted that our parents, who learned from their parents, who most,  lived to be  a ripe old age,  that putting a well rounded meal on the table included; meat, vegetable, potato and of course, bread.  On Sundays or special occasions, there was gravy for that  meat and  potatoes and sometimes even dessert.  I can remember having second helpings of a certain dish if I really like it, leaving the table uncomfortably stuffed,  and that was fine!!.  Oh my gosh, no wonder I was “chubby”.

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes, or Type 1,  while still in grammar school,  after a summer vacation at a friends cottage, eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and sodas.  I soon began drinking copious amounts of water,  being starved all the time, but losing weight!, which to me, was wonderful.  My mother decided to get me checked out.  Her suspicions were right, and to this day I’ll never know how she knew about the symptoms of Diabetes,  since there was no one in the family with it.   So, obviously, in our minds,  the above meal was not bad because there was no “sugar” in that food.  We bought a food scale to measure portions, but that was about all.  I remember eating Frosted Mini Wheat,  but it was the cinnamon frosting not the sugar frosting, so it was alright!   Wow!!  ”This isn’t so bad!”    It’s no wonder I never worried about lows in those days.

My life to me at that time changed, though still a young girl, it seemed to be nothing more than glass syringes and stainless steel needles,  urine dip sticks, and keeping records of food, times eaten, and  activity,  all to report to the MD who I would see every couple of months for insulin adjustments which were just a guess to him.  ”Let’s try this sliding scale for a while”,  meaning,  even if  my numbers were bad, stick it out for a few months.  Even after spending an entire week in Boston at the Joselin Clinic for Juvenile Diabetes,  sticking needles into oranges, and taking classes all day long, we still new little.  I remember way back then, asking my mother if I looked like the kind of kid who could kill herself, because I truly did  feel overwhelmed and devastated.  I never thought I’d say it but, thank God for blood glucose monitors.  I think I was in my early thirties when I got my first one, as once I left home, I had no insurance, and really no doctor.  I felt I was doing fine as I was, which I was, of course,  since I could not truly  keep trac. ,  I was great!  It was not until I got my first blood glucose monitor that I also had my first low blood sugar.   I was determined that I was not going to be a “diabetic”, but a person who had “diabetes”  (PWD).  I heard over and over that I could not do this activity, or that sport because I was diabetic, I was rejected from the army after passing  all the test, flunked the physical because of  insulin dependence.    I was told over and over again by MDs, that I need to keep my sugar as low as someone without diabetes.  So during one period of my life, I lived in a constant state of hypoglycemia, all the while increasing my hypoglycemic unawareness until I could actually function at work with BS  levels in the 30s.  After several severe episodes, where it was getting harder and harder for my husband to get glucose into me, we pushed for an insulin pump, which has been my husbands best friend ever since.

Today, I still wear the pump, for  my husband,  and I still have lows, however not as serious, but I feel I am in charge.  I white water raft Class V’s, skydive, roller blade and ride my own Harley.   It does takes me longer to shop for groceries these days, as I am a label reader and  of course I cheat,  however, I get my taste of what I want and I’m good.   My big NoNos are not just carbs, but HFCS, any of the fats, especially trans fats, (hydrogenated oil), and saturated fats,  as well as preservatives and things I can’t pronounce.  I am working on “Nutrition Labels”   101 for my next article.   Stay tuned.


Switch to our mobile site