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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Discovering Tourette’s

Summer 2012 brought an interesting discovery; one that might be considered unfortunate to most, but for me the discovery was met with relief. The events leading up to my diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) go back decades, but really came together during the last 10 years.
I was always a twitchy kid. I did a lot of blinking, raising eyebrows, throat clearing, and other considerably mild tics that may not have been especially noticeable. This stuff never went away, but became more prevalent into later teen years. Teen years are a mosh pit where tender, self-conscious, drama, and other shady characters listen to life scream at them while they jump, kick and punch each other for no good reason but to show that they can. Most of us grow out of it, but for someone with an unknown neurological disorder and no knowledge or explanation about its symptoms being displayed, I became increasingly self-conscious, and did my best to mask or suppress my tics. For some time this was effective.
As life went on, bringing with it the stress and anxiety that I imagine most people experience, the compulsions associated with movement disorders became stronger and stronger. Co-workers brought my tics to my attention. I totally bombed job interviews. I developed greater social anxiety. I began to notice chronic pain in my jaw, face, neck, side, and back.
Home life was a little different. Although I still suppressed tics, the comfort of home made it easier to just relax and be myself. My wife Candace couldn’t help but notice my movements and I was not quiet about the pains associated. Then one night we saw a program about TS, featuring children and teens with some pretty extreme cases of the disorder. But Candace mentioned to me that a lot of what was going on with me was comparable to what the program was discussing. Although the light bulb suddenly turned on over my head, Candace had flipped the switch on.
I began studying TS and quickly began to see myself fitting easily into that realm at least. A couple of months later I was in my Doctor’s office for my scheduled Diabetes check up. While there I talked about my tics and asked about TS diagnosis. Before I got very far he stopped me.
“You don’t have Tourette’s.”
“Really? How do you know?”
“Because you’re an adult. Tourette’s is a kids disease, and they grow out of it.You probably just have a stress induced tic. Here, fill this prescription for {some kind of muscle relaxant medication}.”
“So there’s no chance that it’s TS? Should I see a specialist to determine this?”
“No, I’m telling you, you don’t have TS.”
I didn’t fill that prescription. There had to be more to this, and I was quite sure I didn’t need meds to relax my muscles. I continued studying until I was certain I did have TS. It explained so much. So, self-diagnosed, I told people close to me that I have TS. Of course, because of my Doc’s words, I was a little self-conscious (once again), but I had no other explanation.
About a year later I had my professional diagnosis. My sister’s family was in town and there was a pool party for both sides of the family; our side and her husband (Jared)’s side. I hadn’t seen Jared’s family for years. His sister was there and noticed my tics. She just happens be an APRN specializing in psychiatric and anxiety disorders (such as PTSD) at the VA hospital. Thanks to her concerns she asked that I come see her. So we sat down with the official book and discussed my family and medical history, and all of my symptoms. In the end, the criteria was met. I was diagnosed with TS. But I wasn’t devastated or even down. I was vindicated. I could finally put a name to the face…name being TS, and face being my very twitchy face.
There are levels within TS. My case is fairly mild, though it does come on strong at times. TS is pretty tightly knit with some comorbid conditions, which are OCD and ADHD. I definitely have symptoms of OCD, though I don’t see any telling signs of ADHD. As a whole these conditions are not widely understood, and media has portrayed these, especially TS, in a very abstract light, leaving most of us ignorant and under-educated about them. Please learn more. I recommend either the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or, for a more detailed version (and frankly a much more interesting read) see Tourette's Syndrom on Wikipedia.
Thanks for reading.