Making Peace with Diabetes

It’s easy to hate diabetes. And it’s easy to be frustrated with the tasks of managing diabetes. It’s easy to get angry when the numbers don’t fall where we want them.

But there’s another way to approach living with diabetes. Rather than getting angry, frustrated and full of hate, we can find peace. If diabetes is part of us, and we like ourselves, then there must be something about diabetes that we can accept… Does diabetes make us more self-aware? More open to meeting others? Better at math? More in touch with our bodies, science, health care? Does it help us to advocate for ourselves and others? Has it turned us into writers, videographers, health care professionals, technology developers, artists, or activists?

If we dig deep enough, we just might find something about diabetes that has brought peace to our lives. And then we might be able to make peace with diabetes. And that might even help us live better with it. I’m wishing everyone a peaceful diabetes experience (even with the ups and downs).

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Hope and Diabetes

Hope is one of the most important things we can incorporate into successful management of this chronic disease. Hope can help us maintain a positive attitude. Some people hang their hope on a goal A1C, a cure, or a prevention, or better treatment options. Others hope for a bright future, a good job, success in life, happiness, great relationships, fun, adventure, and so on. Regardless of what we focus our thoughts on, the point is to be hopeful.

A quick search on the word hope turned up definitions including an optimistic attitude, a feeling of trust, a feeling [that things] will turn out for the best, and synonyms including confidence, promise, expectation, and optimism. Personally, these are the words I want to associate with…in life and in diabetes. This week I am focused on hope.

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It’s that time of year again…

With snow comes shoveling, and with shoveling comes hypoglycemia, aka low blood glucose. Yesterday I shoveled three times – morning, mid-day, and late afternoon. I think it finally stopped snowing during the night. Then at 1:30 this morning, when I awoke with a low blood glucose, I remembered the lag effect. And it hadn’t let up as of 9:30 this morning when I was still low!

The lag effect is a situation where extended periods of activity on one day cause low blood glucose many hours later (sometimes up to 24 hours later). The lag effect is not a reason to avoid being active, rather be aware of times when this might happen; prepare for treating lows, use a temporary basal decrease (if you are on an insulin pump), or eat a little more.

If only I had timed this better. A perpetual low tomorrow would have been nice!

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Proud to be a Nurse

I am proud to be a nurse and to share this video about what the nursing profession is and what nurses are doing. I appreciate the recognition of nurses as innovators. From large, far-reaching projects to small, grass roots initiatives, nurses strive to make life and health better for people everywhere. Thank you to all the nurses who have paved the way for me and for current and future generations of nurses.

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Mixed Drink Messages

Living well with diabetes is about forming healthy habits for life. That isn’t easy, and we certainly don’t make healthy choices all the time – who does? But with a goal of eating well and engaging in exercise most of the time, we can approach this in a realistic and manageable way.

I found myself frustrated when I read about a study that showed sugary drinks are not unhealthy for active teens. What kind of a message does that send? Are we encouraging teens to consume sugary drinks (by not discouraging it, or by stating things like it’s not so bad)? Would we do this with smoking or drinking alcohol in this age group? What about teaching them: explaining the importance of physical activity and suggesting healthy beverages. We don’t have to make a big deal when they do have a sugary drink on occasion, as long as the focus is on healthy choices and activity.

Again, I’m not suggesting that we give active kids a hard time when they do choose a sugary drink. I’m simply suggesting that our messages be consistent and health promoting. Let’s focus on being proactive and positive – sending messages that kids will take with them for life.

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Do you need someone to hold you accountable in order to exercise? Or do you need a little extra kick in the pants to get out there and do it?

If so, findings of a recent study may interest you. People who received text messages about the benefits of exercise increased their weekly exercise time by almost four times. That is huge! And what a simple intervention – text messages.

If you think this might help you get on the ball (or the bike, etc.), have a friend or family member text you. As we approach the holiday season and less than ideal exercise weather, it helps to find little tricks for getting and/or staying active.

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Rating my food?

I’m not usually one for using coupons, let alone food rating systems, when I’m in a grocery store. I really just want to get in and out as fast as I can, especially since without fail I am always there at “rush hour.” I have perfected the art of self-scan (although the recorded lady still yells at me sometimes); I bag my own groceries; and I’m good to go.

There are, however, several food rating systems out there, and different ones are available at different stores. I do think it’s cool that we can get (hopefully) objective feedback on which chips are slightly more healthy than others (if we are into chips). You never know, I just might try this rating thing sometime. I probably wouldn’t go to a restaurant that got a bad rating, so it might work as a deterrent for less healthy food items too.

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Being truthful to ourselves…and others

One of the things we discuss frequently in the graduate program where I teach is creating a trusting environment where people with diabetes feel comfortable sharing openly and honestly with their care providers.

At the same time it’s crucial that people with diabetes are forthright with their providers about their eating, exercise, medication-taking, and other lifestyle habits. I am always very impressed with people who sit across from me in a diabetes education visit and say, “I’ll be honest…(fill in the blank regarding food choices, exercise, smoking, etc.).” I’m impressed because, let’s face it, if people aren’t honest it’s really not a good use of anyone’s time. Yet it can be scary to open up about what’s actually happening in our diabetes lives – it makes us vulnerable.

It’s important to share openly in order to receive the best and most individualized care possible. This article discusses another reason why it’s important to be honest with ourselves and our health care providers: it just might contribute to recommendations for larger populations of people down the road!

People with diabetes: please share openly with your providers. Diabetes educators and other care providers: please listen respectfully and do not judge; use the information to help people. Thanks!

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diabetes smells

The other night we were putting up Halloween decorations and we needed small nails. I was looking on shelves in the garage, digging through former peanut butter containers that now contain various hardware-type gadgets, without any luck. At one point my daughter, who had joined in the search, came over to me, thrust a peanut butter “jar” (it’s plastic, not glass, so does that still count as a “jar”?) and said, “Does this smell like insulin to you?”

Yes, I did stick my nose in that “jar” and yes, it definitely smelled like insulin. The following questions came out of that experience: 1) What was in that “jar” that smelled? 2) Why does insulin smell? and 3) How does my daughter know what insulin smells like?

It never ceases to amaze me that my kids pick up on random diabetes things like how insulin smells. I’m sorry they even have to experience that. But thanks for paying attention! Hopefully they were also paying attention when I explained that when I take my fast-acting insulin I need to eat within a certain amount of time (as opposed to answering questions, helping with homework, or some other distraction that always seems to happen when I’ve just taken meal-time insulin). Anyway, kids are amazing. And kids of parents with diabetes just happen to be extra cool.

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Education, not panic

I just received an excellent article on Ebola from one of my alma maters. I love the title: “Public education, not panic, best approach to Ebola crisis.” Isn’t this true for anything?

Yesterday I tried to allay my son’s fears when he expressed his grave concerns about the Ebola situation. Unfortunately, I think the panic has infiltrated his system.

I’m sticking with thoughts like this one from the article: “…constantly sharing accurate and trustworthy information…” is a better approach than panic. And I am also taking this opportunity to spread the word about what we can do to prevent illnesses that are more common, and for people with diabetes can be as devastating, such as flu and pneumonia.

What’s more, panic triggers the fight or flight response, which raises blood glucose. Instead let’s stay educated and stay healthy! 

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