Category: Personal take

Let the Holidays Begin!!!

Let the Holidays Begin

As every PWD (person with diabetes) knows, holidays can be a really difficult time.  Whether your goal is just watching your blood sugar intake, or worse, watching your weight as well, everyone and their brother is going to try to guilt you into eating from the, “Oh,  just one bite won’t hurt you” list.   We all know a bite probably won’t hurt you, but if you are like  millions of Americans, “just one bite” does not suffice.  This may sound odd, however, I consider myself lucky to have lived with diabetes all my life versus learning I have Type 2 after all those years of poor eating habits.    I went through my periods of  “well I can just take a shot for that”,  but I did  not embrace a life style of poor eating habits, and what I learned from early family life, I soon outgrew once I left home.   I have also learned that many of the things I thought I could not do without, I CAN.

Fortunately,  I love healthy foods, including every fruit or  vegetable grown, including anything and everything that can be put into a salad.  The trick is when invited to a dinner, Holiday or regular,  inquire what is on the menu so that you may bring something to accompany it or just contribute to the meal.  I will always bring the “boring”  veggie tray with vegetable dip for others, or some appetizer that I can pick through without looking obvious; cheese and fruit slices with a kick-butt fruit dip made w/Amaretto and cool whip (lite) and some other add-ins, even nuts are a  good pre-meal munchie assuming no one is allergic, and  as with everything else, MODERATION is key.    I have been tricked in thinking because someone will be serving  a nice veggie with the meal, I’m in good shape, then it comes covered in butter or cheese or some other sauce which makes my throat quiver.   Don’t get  me wrong, I don’t judge what others put in their bodies but for heavens sake, do these people not read.  Luckily, most people do not over dress the meat and I can safely have a slice.  I have been the polite guest and have eaten what is served, I once ate a bowl of homemade potato soup that with every scrumptious spoonful I could feel my joints and organs hardening with AGEs, (advanced glycosylated  endproducts)  while throwing  my sugar into a tailspin for hours.  Cream, flour, white potatoes, bacon, cheese and who knows what else, all in one bowl!   It was delicious of course, however, I will not put my system into shock to be polite again.

Because  I have become accustom to this kind of eating, I find it easy,  I also find that I can fill up on smaller amounts.  And NO, I am not bragging or throwing it in your face, I used to eat two servings of everything, and it showed, I was a size 14 as a teen, into my 20s, joined every gym around, tried every fad diet.  After running away from  home and ending up in the Florida Keys, I slowly began to loose weight, for a variety of reasons,  but that is another story.  I carried this  through by not gorging my foods with unnecessary additives,  no bad dressings, using mustard vs mayo,  making food not to “love” but just to “eat”.   I was able to not obsess over a meal.   My sister’s favorite explanation is “she eats to live, not lives to eat”  like they do.    I admit, as I’m getting older, I am not as hard on myself,  I do  cheat and I certainly do not force my husband to abstain when we are out, however, at home, he chooses to eat like me for the most part and this makes it easier for me.  You see, another important part of staying healthy is having a supportive partner, but that is another topic.

Enjoy the Holidays, enjoy your families,  and by maintaining healthier eating habits, we can enjoy them for longer…..

 

Let’s talk “lows”, or Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia, let's talk "lows".

Generally,  hypoglycemia affects Type 1 diabetics much more than Type 2.  Insulin can always drop glucose too low if not correctly adjusted to carbohydrates consumed.  Most type 2 meds do not cause this action, although more do now than previously.

Everyones’  “low”  is different.  Normal blood glucose levels in my childhood (1960 – 1970s)  which used to be from 90 to 120 mg/dl used to be fine,  have recently been lowered by the FDA making just about every adult a diabetic.  Yes, there was sarcasm in my tone as the FDA has done the same with normal blood pressure ranges and cholesterol, assuring everyone is taking prescription meds.  O.K., sorry, back to my point…..   Our bodies become accustom to new lower levels if we frequently allow them to go there.  Used to be at 70mg/dl I would know I needed a “fix”  (orange juice, fig newton, Nab crackers), anything to bring my sugar back up.   Year after year of continued  lower numbers, always attempting to maintain a “normal”   glucose reading made my body adjust to my new norms.

My symptoms changed over the years, first warning signs used to be shakes, sweats and confusion,  things obvious to others around me.  Then, as my lows became lower, symptoms changed,  in the late 1980s  my arms would jerk or twitch, later I would start seeing double,  I have even forgotten whole moments in small segments.   After I thought I had gotten a handle on it,  things got worse; driving a friend home from classes one afternoon, just feeling “wrong”,  I stopped at a convenience store for crackers and juice.  Next thing I  new I was driving, it was now dark outside, and I had an empty bottle of juice and crushed up crackers in my lap.  Didn’t have a clue where I was.  This finally scared me enough to try to make changes.   I did  not have insurance due to “pre existing”, however, started visiting an internist who could not understand these extreme lows as I was on such a low amount of  insulin.  I was tested to make sure I “really was” diabetic?   Over the years, MDs were thrilled with my AICs because they were in the low 6. something ranges, however  I knew this was due to my blood sugars averaging out to normal from such extreme highs and lows.

Many evenings I would feel my husbands hand on my skin to check if I was sweaty.  He always sensed, through my  movements or  how I would answer a simple question, if I was needing  a “fix”.   He has saved me numerous evenings, as this is when I would drop, sometimes as low as 13mg/dl.  I would hear him pacing around the bed, repeatedly saying he was sorry but “I have to call for help”.  I would usually be coming out of it once they had arrived,  and I can hear him tell the EMTs her sugar was 14,  however, I’m talking to them like we are now, and they would say that’s impossible, they would check and I’d be up to 16  or 18mg/dl at this point.  They still could not believe the sensibility I had at this measure.   I laugh at my old endocrinologist from years ago who insisted my numbers should be no different  than  someone without diabetes.  My new endo is more realistic,  however, I am not comfortable with some of my readings now, BUT I have recently been more aware of my lows when they are floundering around 50mg/dl.   Here’s hoping we can all find our “happy place” in the numbers game,  with levels we can live with,  and be comfortable with,  and doctors who will listen to what we are saying.

Diabetes: be proactive!!

A diagnosis of “diabetes” may be over-whelming at first, as it should be.  This means a whole new way of life for  most, but in a good way.    Many I work with in a Health Care facility have said to feel “scared”, “surprised” and/or disbelieving.  Why?!  It surprises me that in this day and age, if you can read, listen to news, or even pay attention to others, it should not be a shock to learn you are in danger of this diagnosis if you do not pay attention to your diet.   If you are over weight, especially around the abdomen, (Metabolic Syndrome)  if you eat food with a longer ingredient list than a short novel, with words you cannot pronounce, then you should  not eat it.  We Americans eat whatever is within our reach, which is usually not the healthy food.  If it can be left out without danger of spoiling, you should ask yourself  why?  I wonder how much preservative is in this.  The answer SHOULD NOT be surprising.

Type 1 diabetes is pretty straight forward, our pancreas stops producing insulin for what ever reason, (popular belief is auto-immune related) to carry the  glucose in our blood  to our muscles, brain and other areas it is needed.  Hence, insulin injections, no other options.    Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, has many causes, but in short, insulin is not assisting in glucose uptake by the cells leading to insulin resistance.  Type 2 is not always due to being over weight, there is thought to be a genetic component to Type 2,  however, obesity is the most prevalent and easiest one to correct…push away from the table.  Others with Type 2 can have poor use of insulin,  not enough produced,  or simply the pancreas has over-spent its production and can no longer cover the carbs ingested.  No matter the reason our bodies have dropped the ball, however,  we are still in charge of what we eat and the energy we put out daily to make a change in this diagnosis, lessen the amount of meds needed to lower our sugar,  take charge of our own health.   Keep in contact with your health care professionals, however, the best medicine for this is education.   Be proactive, it’s your life to live and learn.   Read all you can, ask other “healthy” diabetics for advice and just keep Moderation in mind when eating.  If I had a choice of fixing my diabetes w/diet and exercise rather than an insulin pump 24/7,  gee, let’s see, which would I choose?

It takes a bit of effort to avoid a life time of diabetes complications, which will also, but not in a good way, change your life forever.  Do the smart thing,  learn about your condition, keep journals early on,  how different foods affect your BS, how activity lessens your glucose readings, and be aware of how you feel when blood sugars are dropping.  Hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) can be a scary feeling, however, easily corrected.  These are all things you should learn as a diabetic to stay on top of your game, and stay proactive.

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