Increased happiness

messy-bed-with-white-sheets_1203-615You’ll never guess what has been found to increase happiness, and we already know it’s not money…sleep!

I’m a huge fan of sleep – good quantity and quality sleep. I’ve written about the benefits of sleep in the past. Now there’s a study out that showed regular sleep leads to happiness. This study looked at college students, and I’m guessing the results will cross over to those who aren’t in school as well.

So in addition to improved blood glucose levels, higher energy, less weight gain, banishing under-eye circles, improving mood, and lowering risk for illnesses like the common cold, getting good and regular sleep can make us happier.

Good night!

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What was said vs. what we hear

In the summer of 2009, the kids and I drove from Colorado to New Hampshire with a stop at the Canadian Niagara Falls. As we drove across the border, an official leaned out of her booth and asked the typical questions – Where are you coming from? How long are you staying in Canada? Where are you going?

Then she asked, “Do you have any weapons in the vehicle?” to which I answered, “No.” We drove on. A minute later my daughter asked, “Did she say ‘Webkinz’?” with panic in her voice. I assured her that no, the attendant had asked about weapons, not Webkinz, and her approximately seven stuffed creatures surrounding her in the back seat were safe from confiscation.

For whatever reason this little miscommunication reminded me of how easy it is to mis-hear something at a diabetes visit. It’s also easy to say something that can be misinterpreted. For example, when a health care professional says, “how’s your control?” that could mean

  • how are you doing (physically, emotionally)?
  • what are your numbers doing?
  • what’s your A1C?
  • are you taking care of yourself?
  • do you need anything from me?

or something else completely.

From the patient perspective, “how’s your control?” could be interpreted as

  • what are your numbers?
  • how successful are you at managing your diabetes?
  • are you a good person?
  • how good a job are you doing at keeping all this together?

and so on.

Just like my daughter’s concern about her Webkinz, we have a tendency to hear what we’re worried about. If we’re worried about being judged, we’re likely to hear judgment. How amazing will it be when diabetes communication is simple, straight-forward and judgment-free with no cause for worry? I believe it can happen.

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Type yes if you agree

Does anyone else out there cringe every time they see a Facebook post with type yes if you agree at the bottom? (I’m not on Instagram, so I don’t know if it happens there as well.) I have been experiencing this phenomenon for weeks – maybe even months – now, and today I think I figured out why.

Type yes if you agree – to me – is like asking someone to be “compliant.” Rather than presenting some cute quote or phrase or inspirational message and letting people get what they will out of it, type yes if you agree is like saying, “you do agree with me, right”?

It’s like the whole compliant/non-compliant message people with diabetes get all the time. The health care professional delivers some nugget of wisdom and then expects you to follow it. If you do, you’re compliant (good, etc.); if you don’t you’re non-compliant (bad, etc.).

What if you simply don’t agree? What if you have a different or better idea? Couldn’t those posts say let’s discuss or enjoy your day or nothing at all below the cute saying?

Maybe the whole type yes if you agree thing really just reminds me of a chain letter. Remember those? Ugh. I’ve even found myself looking for those annoying words on every post.

It’s making me a little crazy. Type yes if you agree.

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Because I can, not because I have to

2015-04-14_00_17_35_Stairs_and_escalator_in_the_corridor_connecting_Concourse_E_with_Concourse_D_in_Salt_Lake_City_International_Airport,_UtahI have this weird habit (weird to my kids, anyway) of taking the stairs instead of the escalator, whenever I have the choice. It happens mostly in airports, and sometimes in malls, conference centers, and other places. My kids used to ask me why I took the stairs, and I would answer, “Because I can.”

I know there will come a time(s) when I can’t take the stairs because of injury, fatigue or even age. But for now I can and I do and I will. When I saw do it because you can, not because you have to in a recent blog article, I was reminded of the stairs vs. escalator thing.

It seems like a healthy, positive, and empowering approach to me. What if we looked at everything that way? What are we doing in life right now that we could switch to a “can” rather than a “have to”? And what effect would that have on our attitude?

I’m going to start right now.

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Messages of Blame and How We Can Change That…

Today is the third day of #dblogweek and the topic is “the blame game.” I’m tasked with telling you how blame comes up at “doctor'” visits. For my purposes, by “doctor,” I am referring to all health care professionals (HCP).

As you may or may not know, my focus is on the language of diabetes. I have learned that the messages we send/receive can help or hurt and that words really do make a difference.

When those of us with diabetes attend a HCP visit, we often receive messages that impart blame. Non-compliant, non-adherent, uncontrolled, and poorly controlled are some of the words we hear. These are part of messages that blame and judge people.

Because diabetes is a disease that actually cannot be controlled (the parts of our bodies that control blood glucose simply don’t work and so we do what we can to manage it), it is not fair to base how one’s doing on something like control. Instead, HCP can talk about action – what are we doing (or doing well)? What’s working? What’s not working? What else could we try? Try saying “blood glucose levels,” or “A1C,” or whatever it is that you’re actually referring to when discussing control.

Compliance and adherence refer to doing what someone else wants. Because our health is our own, taking care of ourselves is up to us and the choices we make every minute of every day. That’s not compliance/adherence – that’s diabetes self-management. Basing how we’re doing on compliance/adherence is a breeding ground for blame and has an easy fix – make it about the person with diabetes and not the HCP! Ask how we’re doing and what questions we have. Ask if we’d like to hear a suggestion or what has worked for others in a similar situation.

Language matters in general, and it also makes a difference for people with diabetes. Health care professionals can improve the experience at every visit by eradicating blame through choosing messages of strength and hope.

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Alert! Alert!

Today is Diabetes Alert Day, your opportunity to check your own risks for diabetes and alert others as well. Diabetes affects millions and millions (and millions) of people in the U.S. and in the world. Knowing the signs, reducing the risks, and being aware can help everyone.

Type 1 diabetes: an autoimmune disease where the immune system mounts an attack on the pancreas cells that produce insulin. Signs/symptoms include fatigue, extreme thirst, losing weight without trying, frequent urination (peeing), hunger, moodiness, dry mouth, vomiting, labored breathing, or even loss of consciousness. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age. While there’s no way to lower one’s risk for type 1 diabetes, it is important to know what to look for. Catching it early could help someone get care sooner and may even allow someone to take part in research studies.

Type 2 diabetes: at least eight factors contribute to one’s risk for type 2 diabetes. Genetics plays a huge role in type 2 diabetes. If any of your family members have type 2 diabetes, get checked! If you gave birth to a large baby (more than 9 pounds), get checked! If you have slow-healing wounds or tend to get infections easily, get checked! The American Diabetes Association has a type 2 diabetes risk test you can take. While there is no guarantee that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, it is possible to lower your risk and possibly even delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Being informed and aware is the first step.

Diabetes alert day – take it seriously!

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We’re all in this together

Facebook claims today is International Women’s Day. I don’t know if that’s a thing or not. I read the line under that announcement quickly and thought it said “Celebrate by creating a non-profit.” What? (It actually said “…by creating a fundraiser for a non-profit.”)

This reminds me of all the non-profits out there for diabetes and other (important) causes. Sometimes I wish we could all simply work together. It starts to feel like too many spokes on a wheel. But then again, can there be too many spokes on a wheel? Does it cause wind resistance and slow us down, or does it actually give us more stability?

At any rate, women’s day, men’s day, diabetes day, or otherwise, I truly believe we’re all in this together. Let’s get to work, keep working – and do our part to make the world a better place for everyone.

Have a great day, whoever you are!

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Showing up every day

WDD-logo-date-EN-2048pxToday is just another day with diabetes for those of us living with it. It happens to also be World Diabetes Day, so many are making a big deal today.

Not just today, but every day we show up, wake up, keep breathing, keep thinking about every little that affects diabetes and every little thing that is affected by diabetes.

Every day we poke fingers, take medications/injections, count carbs, exercise, treat lows, treat highs, think, think, think.

Today I’m thinking about those who don’t have access to insulin and how we can help them. Today I’m thinking about the people who don’t even know they have diabetes yet (and they’ve already had it for years). Today I’m thinking about the people who feel the stigma of diabetes, or are hiding their diabetes, or are ashamed of their diabetes.

Today I’m hoping we can move past all of this. Today I’m looking forward to the time when there’s no longer a World Diabetes Day.

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Jane’s answer to the high price of insulin

My dad recently asked me about the price of insulin. He said he had read something about how expensive insulin is and was concerned about it. I don’t talk about diabetes with my family very often. They ask an occasional question, I answer, and we move on. Diabetes is never our focus.

But dad’s question got me thinking. I’m incredibly fortunate to have good insurance coverage, while many others do not. Today I was reading an article about the price of insulin and how it has gone up hundreds of percent over the last several years.

How is this possibly ok? Another example of lack of cohesion in health care. My proposed solution: get key players from health insurance, pharma, healthcare, consumers/patients, and government together at one table. Let them talk it out until they figure out the best way to manage costs in health care. They can use lifelines – call or video conference someone into the room who may know more or have a better perspective.

I picture it kind of like choosing the next pope. Maybe smoke is coming out of the chimney. Maybe these people don’t emerge for weeks (food can be delivered…), but they get it done. They consider the best interest of everyone involved, act with transparency, cooperation and good faith, and figure it out.

I believe it could happen.

That’s all.

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National Day of Action for Diabetes

Today is as good a day as any to take action for diabetes. It also happens to be the inaugural National Day of Action for diabetes, and there are so many things you can do!

  • check your BG before and after exercising and participate in the “big blue test”
  • visit the ADA’s website and click on “take action”
  • make an appointment to see a diabetes educator and learn some tools for managing effectively
  • talk to a loved one who is at risk for diabetes about getting checked
  • sign up for an exercise program…with a friend!
  • try a new, healthy recipe
  • join an advocacy group or effort
  • volunteer to participate in diabetes research
  • give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy some downtime

Take action in whatever way works best for you. Enjoy!

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