Friday, March 25, 2016

Public Displays of Diabetes

Public Displays of Diabetes

People with diabetes eat food. Sometimes they eat food in a public place. I know, that's so interesting, right? Doesn't everybody? Well, yes. And almost everybody can do it like this:
  • sit down
  • take a look at the menu
  • order what they want
  • wait for it
  • consume. 
But for almost none of us...almost, mind isn't that simple. See, a few of us humans have type 1 diabetes. Our process is different. Mine has gone a little like this (your diabetes may vary):
  • sit down
  • take a look at the menu
  • overthink and assume the nutritional facts on each item due to the lack of information
  • order what I decide might be easiest to nail down
  • pull out my glucose meter
  • insert a test strip
  • stab myself in the fingertip (I get to choose the finger)
  • milk the wound for a drop of blood
  • place the drop on the test strip
  • use the data to figure out how much insulin I need in order to correct slightly elevated blood sugar (BG) reading
  • estimate the carbohydrate content in the food I ordered
  • pull out a vial of insulin and syringe
  • fill syringe with the amount of insulin I should need based on a strange equation I use to calculate BG correction plus carb coverage
  • inject insulin into my skin (I get to choose where)
  • wait for the food
  • consume.
It's all fairly quick, so no big deal. But to some bystanders it IS kind of is a big deal. I sort of understand it; needle phobia, hemophobia, and I don't want to be insensitive to the rare legitimate case of these. But see, I have to do these things in order to continue living. I don't want to go do it in the filthy restroom, I certainly can't just do it in my car before I go in to see what I'm even eating. Sometimes I can only be so discrete. 

One time I was asked to take it to the restroom...

Believe it or not, I have been asked to "do that in the restroom" before. It was very confusing to hear, and difficult to work out in my head at the moment. I did go into the restroom. I tested my blood, injected insulin, and stewed in very negative feelings. The person who asked it of me was not trying to be rude, I get that. But had he considered the weight of diabetes, the psychological toll it takes, and the uncleanliness of bathrooms, he might have simply turned his head and allowed me to medicate.

The way I see it, most people have eyelids and I'd guess most of them work. Close them. In the rare case one might not have active eyelids, chances are their neck works. Turn it. My survival, my right to enjoy a meal, my mistrust of the cleanliness of public restrooms...I'm doing this at the table. I'm not ashamed of diabetes. I'm not shy about taking care of myself. Nor should you be. I promise it's more inconvenient for me than it is for the non-diabetic. 

Reality check.

Diabetes is hard enough to manage day in and day out without dealing with everyone else's problems. In fact, I don't think I'm wrong when I say diabetes management > accommodating ignorance. Public displays of diabetes show strength, bravery, acceptance, and ownership. Your health comes first.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Life Injection

#DBlogWeek, day two. The topic is poetry. Here is my contribution.

Broken though unbreakable
Held back though unstoppable
Glass surface over undertow
The needle-free will never know
Micro self-inflicted wounds
Bleeding out through multiples
Survival limited with rules
Injecting life with Banting’s tools
All day long and through the night
Fear and burden, fragile fight
Autoimmune failure’s path
This useless, cureless, aftermath

Monday, May 12, 2014

What Gets Me Fired Up With Diabetes - Food Police

For #DBlogWeek I want to share on the first topic: What gets me fired up?
The food police.

I love eating. I am a huge fan of all types of food. I try my best to eat right, to follow what is considered a good diabetic diet. Low carb, low sodium, low saturated fat…these are the standard normal elements of a diabetic meal plan, along with fiber to help reduce BG spikes and reduce the net carbs, protein, healthy fats, and so forth. Do I stick to this? Um…do YOU? Is your diabetes management perfect? Didn’t think so. So if we are all in this together, and if everybody should have their own unique management plan, then why does every diabetic want to tell me what I can or can’t eat?

Type 1 or type 2, diabetes is absolutely a disease that requires personal, individual planning. Diabetes is frequently lumped together as one big problem that is caused by eating crappy. Sure, we all eat horrible things, but that didn’t cause my diabetes. And yes, there are foods that we should absolutely avoid, but occasional indulgence is not going to ruin me. And yet, when I surf through all of the noise and misconceptions about the diabetic lifestyle and diet, I find a distressingly high number of diabetics defining “the diabetic diet” as if we are all on the same meal plan:
  • No potatoes
  •  No white bread
  •  No sugar
  •  No artificial sweeteners
  • No pasta
  • No rice
  • No FRUIT (srsly?)
  • No wheat
  • No GMO
  • No fast food
  • No sodium
  • No fat
  • No food…….

Welcome to veggie town...but only if the plants you consume don’t include corn, peas, or other starchy choices. As a food lover I am not going that route. And, even though I eat a good amount of the above list, my A1C is great, my daily BG results are generally good, I’m in great physical shape, and I’m not feeing deprived. What a great balance for me. Why would another diabetic try so hard to define a plan that we should all be following? What works for you may not work for me. Here is what I have come to understand as truly great advice:
  • Count your carbs
  • Don’t over-indulge
  • Don’t deprive yourself
  • Eat plenty of the obviously good choices
  • Above all, moderation is key.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Diabetes Burnout Clarification

After receiving feedback on my last post and rereading, I realize that the content of My Diabetes Burnout seemed a little dark and real-time. The truth of it is, I'm not in a dark place, I'm not in the thick of burnout, and I'm not crying for help. In fact, I think right now I am doing as well as I have ever done, aside from when I was newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and followed everything to the letter, including eating a separate meal from everyone else, more or less.

To be clear, I want to explain where I was coming from on this subject. I went to my diabetes physician yesterday. I found out that I am doing pretty well. I'm certainly doing better than I was when I left my last physician and started seeing this new one. I've increased my number of blood tests per day, which provides better data on how I am doing with the routine; turns out I could be doing better, but I am not doing bad. In fact, he told me that if I'd throw just one more test per day in, I can easily have my A1C right where it needs to be when I see him in a few months.

The other thing that got me thinking about burnout is my job. I work at Alliance Health Networks, specifically on Diabetic Connect. All day every day I read articles about better diabetes care and engage in discussions on the site about the frustrations and difficulties that people face while dealing with this endless process of staying alive with a chronic illness. My heart goes out to them because I have been there. I have definitely been there.

These factors caused me to really think about it yesterday. I thought about my family, my enjoyment of life, and the dark pits from which I have crawled time and time again. I am so thankful for where I currently am with my diabetes patient journey, and I hope I can continue to avoid the burnout. I know some people who are currently struggling with their journey, be it with diabetes or any of life's unfair trials. I sincerely hope that they can find some motivation, whether through my words here, or through the resources I share, to press forward and find peace and joy in life's adventure.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Diabetes Burnout

The hardest part about living with diabetes is finding and maintaining the give-a-crap. Have you ever done something so long...a job, a sport, a band...that you can't stand to do it anymore? I mean, by the time you've had the last of it, you just want to burn bridges, throw it in the garbage, or would rather die than do it again. Well, same thing here, except, if I do any of the first two, the third is the result. That reality catches up and causes a realization of just how big of an exaggeration "I'd rather die" is.

Type 1 diabetes means my body does not produce any insulin, which is a natural chemical produced in the pancreas that removes excess glucose from the body. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder; it is not caused by eating too much sugar or anything like that, nor is it curable or avoidable. I'm stuck with it. For life...or at least until a reasonable, affordable cure is discovered. Managing this disease takes a lot of attention and structure; doing it right includes frequent blood testing, meal planning, carb-counting, medical supply buying, dosing, stabbing, and that's just the common stuff. There is so much to learn, know, and remember. It's an endless cyclone of "do this" and "don't do that." It's no wonder a distracted, busy, self-destructive individual like me can burnout. Currently, I am doing quite well. But the burnout described above is something that comes and goes.

The burn out is not a thing where now and then I forget to do something, or I went through a rough patch and stopped altogether. It's much bigger and more extensive. I have turned off my insulin pump to make it stop telling me it is empty. I have canceled checkups. I have eaten whatever I want whenever I want. I have ignored my doctor many times. I have gone an entire year without testing my blood sugar even once. I have had an A1C of 10.5. I have experienced blood sugar readings of over 500 many times. Sometimes I wonder how I have survived this long.

For a diabetic, or person with diabetes (some people are super sensitive about which term is used), burnout leads to serious complications, including death. It is imperative that we find ways to maintain or regain motivation. To avoid diabetes burnout, I recommend spending some time on Diabetic Connect.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Shrink Show

Back when Ryan Rado was in town I had a wonderful opportunity to get him into a studio with Tysen and Dr. Matt. Some may know Tysen from Utah's 101.9 FM (The End), but I get to call him brother (in-law, but he's more like an actual brother). Dr. Matt has spent plenty of quality time on the station as well; he is a Clinical Psychologist at the University of Utah, and brilliant when it comes to the brain, human behavior, and all that psychological stuff. Together, with Tysen's broadcasting genius and Dr. Matt's...well...genius, they created The Shrink Show, a podcast about "the Psychology of Real Life."

Ryan, having lived a lifetime with Tourette's Syndrome (TS) and me only recently realizing I had done the same, we wanted to use this chance to offer an inside point of view and share what most people do not understand about TS. I was there more to learn and be inspired. Ryan, on the other hand, has much to offer; inspiration, information, and experience dealing with the complexities that come with a life run by TS, OCD, and ADHD.

Check out the show about Tourette's Syndrome and explore other great episodes.
Always be learning, growing, and understanding more about life.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Since my Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) diagnosis, I have had some pretty interesting realizations. Much of it has been a struggle of understanding what it is, what it does to me, and how deeply it plays into my persona and daily life. But the toughest part was the time I just didn’t know if it was really TS. I tried to study it out further. Aside from all the reading, I decided I wanted to see if anyone moves the way I move, or does the things I do. I know lots of kids with the condition do their thing; I’d seen it so often. But adults? Well, the reading suggests that the majority of kids with TS grow out of it in early adulthood. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find anyone.
Then one day, a fluke. I somehow came across a video of a guy named Ryan Rado, who had done a video on You Inspire. It is an excellent site that allows some very interesting people to do exactly what it suggests. Specifically after watching Ryan’s video I dug in to find out more about him. He has a few videos, and they all helped me develop my attitude toward TS, break outside of my comfort zone, and understand what I have going on. But the greatest thing I got from the find was a friend.
From the video I looked Ryan up and came across his his blog where I learned even more about what we have in common. So I dropped him a gushy email thanking him for putting himself out there and letting him know a bit about what I had going on. I was very surprised to get a response, but more so when I read his insistence that I call him so we could talk about what I was dealing with. Finally we got in touch. After a few calls over a couple of weeks, I got one with Ryan telling me he was coming out to SLC, and while here, that he would like to get together.
Ryan has become a very close friend during these few months that we have been in contact. My time with him while he was here in SLC was life changing and has helped me improve the way I think, the way I deal with problems, and the way I view the strangers around me every day. TS or not, you could benefit from the wisdom of Ryan Rado.