Are we teaching dependence?

I am overwhelmed by all the options available to people with diabetes. Yes, we can always ask for more and better, but what we have now and what is in the pipeline are pretty impressive. Kids and families who are diagnosed today don’t even realize what people with diabetes had to work with in the “early days.” They might be appalled if they knew!

But what about things like Apple’s new HealthKit and cloud-based meters? While I believe there’s an important place for these tools, are we teaching dependence? As long as kids with type 1 are being taught how to detect low blood glucose (and treat it and then how to prevent it), I’m ok with the new-fangled stuff. Kids and adults with diabetes still need to focus on being or becoming independent in their care so that they can get on with life and living well.

We’ve come a long way in sending a message of fitting diabetes into life and not life into diabetes. Hopefully technology can help us continue on that path.

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Age and duration of diabetes

I’m definitely not getting any younger, and every day I’ve had diabetes a day longer. So when I just saw an article titled, “Age, diabetes duration increases risk for macrovascular complications,” I was not uplifted.

Living well with diabetes for almost 40 years is a big deal for me. I’m definitely proud of where I am. Seeing articles like that might give me pause for a few seconds, but then my head goes to this place: attitude is everything. Call me crazy, but I firmly believe that my attitude is more important than how long I’ve had diabetes or how old I am.

It would be easy to let words get me down (isn’t that a song?), but I just can’t give in to that. I’ve got too much to do. So rather than whine about it, I will think of myself as wine: with age and duration it just gets better.

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diabetes is small

Today is the anniversary of one of the United States’ biggest events in history. It’s hard (if not impossible) to get through September 11th without remembering where we were, or what we were doing, or how we were feeling….when terrorists attacked our safe, peaceful country. A guy I went to high school with died. So did many, many others. And families were broken and scared and will never be the same.

As I remember and honor today, I have to say that diabetes feels very, very small. I wonder how I could complain about a low blood glucose interrupting my day, or the challenge of eating less and exercising more. Days like today give me perspective – not just about diabetes, but about life in general. It’s pretty precious.

Thirteen years ago I was holding my one-year-old baby boy. Now I have two adolescent kids. And diabetes. And the diabetes is pretty small.

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Exercise words

Admittedly I’m a word freak. I love words – where they come from, what they mean, how they are pronounced. I try to be mindful about the words I use (well, most of the time), but I also obsess about words and let words get to me, so it’s a double-edged sword.

Today I saw a headline in which exercise snacks was part of the title. What? You can eat exercise? That reminded me of exercise bouts, a term I heard not too long ago. Snacks sound delicious, while bouts sound like an illness. But exercise isn’t edible and illness is a turn-off.

Maybe we can find a better word for this: What about exercise excursions? Or exercise extravaganzas? How about these: exercise moments, exercise drops, or exercise spots. Anything that might stick?

The point of the article was that little spurts of exercise might be better on blood glucose management than prolonged workouts. Rather than obsessing about words, I think I’ll go take a walk.

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Protect Yourself

The Standards for Medical Care in Diabetes – 2014 recommend an annual flu vaccine for those with diabetes. They recommend pneumococcal polysaccharide (pneumonia) vaccine for those with diabetes who are over 2 years and a one-time re-vaccination for those older than 65 years who have been immunized more than 5 years ago.

Flu vaccine is recommended because it has been shown to decrease hospitalizations by up to 79% in people with diabetes, not to mention people with diabetes have a higher risk for flu-related complications. Because people with diabetes have a higher risk for bacterial infections, and these infections can be fatal, the standards recommend getting protected from pneumonia.

Finally, a newer recommendation is for those with diabetes who are between the ages of 19-59 and haven’t been vaccinated against Hepatitis B to do so as soon after diabetes diagnosis as possible. The CDC reported that the rate of Hepatitis B infection in people with diabetes over 23 years is at least double that of people without diabetes.

Find the fine details on flu vaccine recommendations here.

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Drafting in Diabetes

The other day I read Seth Godin’s blog about drafting and realized how it parallels living with diabetes. He writes that drafting works physically, because of aerodynamics, and mentally because the proof (that you can go faster) is right in front of you. Same goes for diabetes: when you connect with others who have diabetes, you find inspiration, information, and proof that you can live well. Ironically, today I received a link for an upcoming diabetes event. When I checked out the website I discovered that this group was founded (and their programs were named) because of “slipstreaming,” which is just another word for “drafting.” Big words, small world. Enjoy.

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Sock Snobs

Socks are important for everyone – not just those with diabetes. The other day my son was preparing for a hike and I reminded him that “wool wicks; cotton kills.”

Choose socks that don’t have seams that could rub or cause breakdown of the skin.

Choose wool socks when hiking or there’s a chance of getting wet. When cotton socks get wet they stay wet and can also cause your skin to break down. Wool socks wick moisture away from your skin.

Choose socks that fit. Socks that are too small may slide down your feet until your skin is exposed and rubs against your shoe(s) causing blisters (not good!). Or if they are too big, they can bunch and cause unnecessary rubbing. Taking care of our feet means avoiding undue stress – pressure or rubbing – of any kind.

So consider becoming a sock snob and choose socks that protect your feet.

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Back to Diabetes

Sometimes there’s just too much diabetes in our lives. Between living it, discussing it, reading about it, writing about it, hearing about it… you get the point.

Last June, when school got out, I took a break from my blog. I didn’t do it on purpose; it just happened. And it felt good! I also payed less attention to diabetes in social media, and while I did have a fantastic vacation, I did not take a break from my own diabetes.

Oh I may have checked my blood glucose less frequently while I was away this summer, and I definitely ate more and different foods than my usual. But now I’m back. Today is the first day of school for my kids. So they are “back to school” and I’m considering myself “back to diabetes.”

It’s good to be back.

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AADE Twitter Campaign Continues

Here is the latest update from the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) on the diabetes education for all campaign:

AADE’s federal legislation has gained FIVE new cosponsors within the past month (read more here: http://advocate.diabeteseducator.org/site/R?i=XUgrNLsQfiEtgsw8DQNo3g). we need {continued} help building momentum and gaining additional cosponsors. If you could share the following links through your twitter account, it would be greatly appreciated by AADE and the diabetes education community. We are looking for individuals to reach out to their Members of Congress in the following ways:

1.       Twitter - http://www.stripsafely.com/social/aade-tweet/

2.       Email - https://secure2.convio.net/aade/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=140

3.       Phone - http://advocate.diabeteseducator.org/site/R?i=dOc_X_kJ9xlDABrngUWEEQ

Thanks for your help!!

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Tips for the Fingertips

Pokey the diabetes mascotChecking blood glucose levels by poking fingers is a common practice in diabetes management. But how can we keep our fingertips happy and healthy despite all that poking?

I poke my fingers between 8 and 10 times each day. That’s not an exaggeration, and it’s not because I’m neurotic (as I’ve heard frequent checkers called, believe it or not). I check when I wake up, before I take insulin, if I feel low, before I exercise (sometimes during and after), before I drive (if there’s any question), and before I go to bed. I also might check if I’ve taken insulin to bring down a high blood glucose level.

I think my fingertips look pretty darn good for all that poking, if I do say so myself. And here’s a little secret: I even use the big, huge, old, blue lancets from the dark ages (because I got so many boxes of them for free at diabetes camp in the 80s and they’re still not gone!!).

Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • rotate fingers (I literally poke a different finger – inside then outside – each time I check – this allows time for healing)
  • use cream daily (I use Amlactin – be sure it’s cream and not lotion)
  • use a dial-a-depth lancing device and choose the right setting so you only have to poke once
  • change your lancet every once in a while (used lancets get rough and can do more damage)
  • use a fine lancet (unlike me, but I’ve found that even with thicker lancets, rotating and cream do the trick)

Good luck and enjoy your happy fingers!

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