Hope and Diabetes


We can’t live without hope. If we really stop and think about it, life runs on hope. Sometimes our hopes get dashed, but then we think of something else to hope for. Whether it’s personal achievement (school, work, athletics, performance), or a greater vision (a service organization, faith community, government, the world), hope drives us.

Without hope we have nothing.

Living with diabetes we certainly experience hope. We hope for target blood glucose levels and for discipline around food or exercise. We hope for a breakthrough in medication, technology, or the artificial pancreas. And somewhere underneath it all (or on top for some) is a continuous thread of hope for a cure.

Last year a new tradition was started: the Diabetes Hope Conference. This event will take place again this year on May 20th at 11 am Central (12:00 noon Eastern Time). Visit this website to register for the conference.

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Optimism is Healthy

I’m a big fan of a positive approach – to life, to living with diabetes, whatever.

I do, however, acknowledge that living with a chronic condition is not always easy or fun. Many people have a very hard time managing diabetes for a variety of reasons. So I must admit that sometimes I feel a little guilty about always being positive or putting a positive spin on diabetes topics. But then I don’t want to get bogged down in negative thoughts, so I say, “forget it, I’m just going to continue being positive.”

I even heard someone once say, “If you are doing well with your diabetes, that’s great, but keep it to yourself.” WOW! I have to say I felt negative about that statement for a few minutes (and a few more minutes every time I remember it). But I can’t keep a positive attitude to myself because I feel it’s my job to spread the message that being positive makes people happier, healthier and leads to more quality of life (and potentially longer life).

Anyway, I came across an article that basically says people don’t have to be optimistic, but that if they exhibit traits of optimism, they will be more likely to adopt healthy behaviors. How cool is that? So people who want to can keep being grumpy, and if they focus on happy-people skills, they can still make healthier food choices, exercise more, quit smoking, etc.

Some examples of these skills include consciously choosing what you do or eat and channeling frustrations into healthier activities. It really goes back to slowing down and being mindful – being aware of ourselves and our choices. Sounds easy, but definitely takes practice (and self-forgiveness)!


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Looking at Low Carb from a Different Angle

DSCN2308There’s been a lot of talk about low carb meal plans for many years now. We evolved from Adkins to South Beach to Paleo and now State of Slim (with many others in between). There is science to back up the cutting back on carbohydrate foods, especially the ones that lack nutrients (white bread, white rice, etc.) or have unhealthy ingredients (packaged, processed foods). I am a big supporter of plant-based foods, so fruits and vegetables – even the ones with carbohydrate – are a huge part of my own eating plan.

So far the thinking about carbs has focused on blood glucose and weight, but today I read an article that also looked at the financial investment side of carbs. I thought that was very interesting. The article says consumers’ move away from carbohydrate foods has “staying power,” and that companies producing mostly grain-based processed foods will have an “uphill challenge.”

Once again, the message is the same for those with and without diabetes (everything in moderation, low fat dairy, mostly plants, and get the carbs you do eat from whole grains, legumes, and fruits): find a healthy eating plan you can stick with. For many people, cutting back on (not cutting out) carbs is helping with weight and blood glucose levels.

Thinking about the food choices we make can actually be an investment in our health and our financial future!


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Basketball and Diabetes

The playoffs begin for the over-30 basketball league Aug. 4 at the fitness center here. The championship game is scheduled to take place Aug. 10 at the fitness center gym here.Last night the UConn Huskies won the NCAA basketball national championship. I earned my PhD in Nursing from the University of Connecticut, and I never attended or even watched (on TV) a basketball game! My grandfather used to watch every game, and when he’d ask if I was watching I would say, “Grandpa, undergraduates watch the games; graduate students just read.”

But last night I got to see the UConn Huskies play and win, and it made me think about managing diabetes. Sometimes we “sink it,” and sometimes we lose the ball. We work hard to achieve healthy numbers and protect our blood vessels, just as those players train for each game. We don’t always get to see results as quickly as basketball teams do, and there are definitely times when we lose.

I hope those basketball players enjoy playing the game in spite of all the hard work – and sweat – that goes into it. For us there is hard work too, but taking care of diabetes allows us to enjoy the game (life). Congratulations, Huskies!

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Everybody Gets Credit

Did you see the post on facebook about the runner who is overweight? I shared it on my page this morning because I think it’s such an important message. The gist of it is that a runner sees a woman running and she has extra weight. He/she posts a photo of her and a message that appears to be negative, but turns out very positive and supportive.

The point is that we never know how hard someone is working to lose weight, or to get healthy. Maybe they just quit smoking yesterday; maybe they started walking or running or eating vegetables…for the first time.

Everybody deserves credit for the small steps they take – whatever they are. Maybe today it was just getting out of bed and facing life. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and then lift yourself and others up too! Life is too short to waste it on beating ourselves up or beating others up. So give people credit, and give yourself credit, for the good things we’re all doing. And then go out and do some more of it!!

Happy April – Spring is surely coming!

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Generation X and Y and beyond

actually-it-is-generation-x-that-suffered-most-from-the-recessionAn article in Bloomberg Businessweek says my generation is heavier and less healthy than my parents’ generation was at our age. I’m saddened by this news, but it makes sense. We live farther away from work and the store – so we drive or take the bus/train. We sit at computers more and we have more opportunities to do less activity.

But that is a choice. We also know more about a lot of things – we have technology available that our parents didn’t dream about. I hope our generation and the ones that follow us will use our knowledge and our creativity to develop neighborhoods that are active-lifestyle friendly. I hope work environments will take physical and emotional health seriously and make it a priority (more and more are).

Most of all, I hope we can turn this trend around and be a healthy generation well into old age. And by doing so we will set an example for our kids and their kids and so on. Amen.

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Diabetes Alert Day

alert-day-logo-200x46Today is Diabetes Alert Day. This is an effort by the American Diabetes Association to alert those who are at risk for diabetes. The ADA has a simple tool to see if you are at risk. The following are risk factors for type 2 diabetes:

  • male
  • history of gestational diabetes (or having had a large baby)
  • family history (mom, dad, or sibling with diabetes)
  • race/ethnicity (Native American, Native Alaskan, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander)
  • High blood pressure
  • Age (over 40 years)
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • High BMI (body mass index is a measure of height and weight)

There are ways to decrease one’s risk for type 2 diabetes and/or slow the development of it, and awareness is the first step. I strongly encourage people to fill out the ADA’s “diabetes risk test.” And be sure to encourage others to do the same!

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Injection Port for Insulin

i-portHere’s a gadget that caught my eye. For those with a drastic fear of needles, this may just help. It’s called the i-port Advance and it’s made by Medtronic (they also make an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system).

Although for safety reasons I do think it’s very important that people with type 1 diabetes be able to inject with insulin syringes/needles, using an i-port could certainly be helpful in certain circumstances.

Many adults who have type 2 diabetes do not take insulin because of a fear of needles. They’ve had an entire life to develop their fear of needles and it can be so severe that they decline taking a medication that could turn their life around. I am excited to be able to offer a gadget that may diminish this fear and allow people to get the insulin they need.

v-goAnother idea is the V-Go insulin delivery device. The V-Go delivers insulin for 24 hours plus mealtime doses, which eliminates the need for multiple injections.

Insulin is something no one can live without. Whether our bodies have stopped making insulin or are not using insulin properly, taking the appropriate and necessary amount of insulin can save lives and reduce the risks of diabetes-related health problems. It’s worth looking into devices like the i-port and the V-Go, if it would help someone take insulin.

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Diabetes and Feet

Take care of your feet is something that people with diabetes hear often.

I think of the feet as the last stop for our healing white blood cells. They travel throughout the body all day long, and the feet are the farthest away. If there are any problems with circulation at all, the feet don’t get the same amount of attention.

Circulation problems can include cardiovascular disease, swollen ankles, high blood pressure – basically anything that affects the pumping of blood through the vessels.

As a kid I was told to always wear shoes. Basically, this is to protect feet from burns (hot sand, pavement), cuts (stepping on something sharp), or injury (dropping something on your foot). I was always confused about how shoes would helpfeet if I was carrying something extremely heavy, but I guess they might prevent more damage than would occur if I were barefoot.

Here’s how to inspect feet (daily, if possible): run your hands over your feet – tops and bottoms. Look between your toes. If you can’t see any part of your feet, use a mirror or another person to help. Look for cuts, blisters, bruises, open areas, or anything that doesn’t look, feel, or smell right.

Signs of infection include odor, heat, redness, pain, swelling, oozing. If you see (or someone else sees) anything unusual, watch it closely and let your health care professional know about it. Healing can be slower in the feet, and there is more risk for infection.

A few more suggestions for protecting your feet:

  • wear good socks and shoes (wool socks wick and keep your feet dry; wear shoes that give your feet good support and don’t rub)
  • before you put socks and shoes on, check for foreign objects
  • use a moisturizing cream daily to avoid dry skin and cracks
  • avoid “bathroom surgery” – seek professional help for foot injuries/problems


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Low Blood Glucose and the Elderly

A study showed that almost 100,000 people visit the ER each year because of diabetes. In the study, 96% of those ER visits were related to hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose. People over 80 are more than twice as likely to go to the ER as those between 45 and 64 years, and they are five times more likely to be admitted to the hospital.

Many older people take insulin. Some of them have been taking insulin for most of their lives (those with type 1 diabetes) and some have been taking insulin for a shorter time (those with type 2 who progressed over time to needing insulin and for whom oral medications no longer work, and those who developed diabetes later in life and don’t make enough insulin).

While some people may be able to stop taking insulin later in life, many will have symptoms of high blood glucose if they do so. The goal of managing diabetes in the elderly is to keep blood glucose levels in a range that is safe (not too low or too high) and does not cause symptoms. High blood glucose can cause frequent urination, dehydration, weight loss, blurred vision, and lack of energy. Elderly people may already be dealing with any number of these and certainly don’t need to add to them. Blood glucose levels that are too high or too low can also put older people at increased risk for falling.

It is important to work with a health care professional to “relax” diabetes management later in life, which means keeping blood glucose levels in a wider range. There is no longer a concern about developing diabetes-related complications when someone is over 80, therefore, running blood glucose levels higher is not as worrisome. The most important thing is that the person is safe and comfortable.

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