Keys to Long Term Success and Preventing Complications

Contrary to popular belief, you can live a long, healthy life with type 2 diabetes, without developing complications. In its 2010 report, Diabetes UK found that someone with type 2 diabetes is likely to have a reduced life expectancy by up to 10 years, and someone living with type 1 diabetes is likely to have a reduced life expectancy by up to 20 years.

However, with advanced technologies and therapies, people are living longer and healthier than ever. Results from the University of Pittsburgh after a 30-year longitudinal study found that people with type 1 diabetes born after 1965 had a life expectancy of 69 years — longer than any study had ever previously found.

In part four of our four-part series on living well with type 2 diabetes, we will dive into the keys to long term success managing your condition, and how to prevent complications over the long term.

What Causes Complications?

It’s important to know what causes complications in people with type 2 diabetes. Not everyone living with diabetes will develop complications, but the occurrence of chronic hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage, and retinopathy (the most common complications of diabetes). It’s important to keep your blood sugars in range as much as possible to help prevent the onset of these complications.

Keys to Long Term Success

A number of factors have been shown to help slow the progression of (or completely prevent) complications in people with diabetes:

  • Keep HbA1c in range – Studies have shown that keeping your HbA1c lower than 7% can prevent the onset of complications, and closely monitoring your blood sugar (testing regularly) can help tighten your control. Talk with your doctor about the ideal number of times she would like you to test per day, and make sure you always test before and after meals.
  • Take your medications as prescribed – Some people think that insulin is “bad” or they just don’t like the thought of taking a pill every day. You’re prescribed your medicine for a reason, and you should follow all doctors’ orders to take them as prescribed. Rationing or skipping doses can quickly lead to complications or even premature death.
  • Follow a sensible diet – You don’t need to go completely paleo or keto to have better blood sugars, but speaking with your doctor or seeing a nutritionist can help you develop an eating plan that will work for you that you can sustain. Be sure to include plenty of fresh vegetables, protein, and water. Eating similar foods, eating a low carbohydrate lunch (of 20 grams or fewer) and limiting meals at restaurants has also been shown to help improve blood sugar management in people with diabetes.
  • ExerciseExercise is one of the most important things you can do to prevent complications. Not only does it lower blood sugars, but it gets the heart working and the blood pumping, increasing circulation and strengthening your whole cardiovascular system. Exercise boosts your immune system, and increases serotonin in the brain, making you feel good and helping to prevent the onset of depression. According to our Thrivable Insights study, people with type 2 diabetes who have an HbA1c <6.5% are more likely (20% vs 8%) to exercise 4-6 times per week than people living with type 2 diabetes who have an HbA1c of 8% or higher.
  • Surround yourself with support – Diabetes is a marathon, not a sprint, and the journey can be lonely at times. A study from the University Hospital in Denmark found that loneliness may actually cause premature death by damaging the blood vessels of the heart, which can be compounded with a diagnosis of diabetes. Long term success with your diabetes care is much more likely if you surround yourself with supportive family and friends, or if you can find a community who will understand. Sharing your thoughts, worries, and feelings will help lighten your load, and you may just learn a thing or two that you didn’t previously know about diabetes and how to better care for yourself!

Have you had diabetes for a long time, and are thriving without complications? What are some of the best strategies you’ve employed to achieve success? Share this post and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

My Dos and Don’ts for People Without Diabetes

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Erika Szumel

Managing type 1 diabetes (T1D) means insulin calculations, getting plenty of exercise, and making strategic meal plans. But it also means awkward moments, unnecessary advice, and lots of looks from people who don’t live with diabetes.

While we might be well-equipped to take care of our disease, we aren’t always ready for these awkward moments with strangers, friends, and family who might not understand what we live with.

Here are the dos and don’ts of diabetes etiquette for those without diabetes, written by a T1D.

Do Ask Questions.

If you’re speaking to someone with type 1 diabetes, ask questions about the condition. I believe that 9 times out of 10, when the question is asked kindly, that the T1D will be happy to answer you. At the end of the day, we’d rather you understand better than continue to walk around with misconceptions.

Don’t Ask Loaded Questions.

Is it the bad type?
So you just have to watch your diet, right?
Did you eat too much sugar as a kid?

When people with T1D hear questions like this, it can be enlightening and frustrating at the same time. Enlightening because I am surprised to hear people still make these assumptions or have these ideas. Frustrating because these people still make these assumptions or have these ideas. Try phrasing a question like, “Can I ask you something so I understand type 1 more clearly?” or “Do you mind telling me more about it?”

Do Be Supportive.

What does being supportive really mean to you? For someone with type 1 Diabetes, it’s nice to know that others sort of understand what’s going on and that they are willing to help if needed. This could simply mean checking in on your friend or helping them find a snack when they are low. Showing your support displays itself in various ways.

Don’t Tell Us Horror Stories About Your Relatives.

The general public tends to have the idea that telling someone with T1D about your grandfather who lost his foot because of diabetes is, I don’t know, helpful? Most patients diagnosed with T1D are aware of the possibility of complications and their effects on the body caused by T1D. Please do not feel like it is your duty to remind us of the things that can happen to us (or may have already started) when you don’t know! Bring this into the conversation if the person with T1D has started talking about it or asks you a question.

Do Help Us Be Prepared for Lows.

Whether you’re a spouse, friend, or coworker, helping us be prepared for lows is such a kind gesture. That simply means knowing where snacks or low treatments are in the home or office and helping us get them when we need them.

Don’t Shrug Us off Simply Because What’s Happening Is Invisible.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that can have some serious consequences. The scary part: it’s mostly invisible. Other than my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and their respective sites, you cannot tell that people with T1D are any different than you – with the exception of seeing us test our blood sugar or give a manual injection with a syringe or insulin pen.

I think one of the worst feelings I encounter having this condition is feeling like it means nothing to those around me – and this is usually solely because of ignorance or lack of understanding. Please don’t shrug it off as the “take insulin, watch what you eat” disease, because it is so much more complex. Be mindful of those with T1D, and be willing to offer a helping hand if they need something.

Do Help Us Stop the Stigma.

If you’ve been around a T1D for some time and have learned enough about it, then help us stop the stigma. When you hear comments or jokes about it, do your best to raise awareness for what is true about this condition.

Don’t Ignore the Jokes.

I think a huge part of raising awareness for type 1 diabetes is simply stopping jokes and memes dead in their tracks. I think people will remember when you stop them in that moment and say “Hey, that actually isn’t how it works” or “It’s actually a lot more serious than that.”

At the end of the day, there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do as a good friend, partner, or stranger to the millions of people affected worldwide by type 1 diabetes. Hopefully, this list will help you do just that.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Ways to Save Money on Diabetes Expenses

Diabetes is an expensive disease. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), diabetes is the costliest disease in the United States. In 2017 alone, over $327 billion dollars was spent on people with diabetes and their needs, and that number has only increased since, as prevalence and incidence of the disease have risen as well.

Diabetes is also expensive, personally. Between medications, doctors’ appointments, time off work and school, buying healthy foods, and committing to an exercise routine, it can be troublesome to keep on top of all the bills and expenses. A landmark Yale study recently showed that as many as 1 in 4 people with diabetes have rationed their insulin, simply because it’s too expensive.

So, how do you prepare for the cost of a new type 2 diabetes diagnosis? In part 2 of our 4-part series, we dive into how to protect yourself from the high costs of diabetes.

Prescription Assistance Programs

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about prescription assistance programs. They can help you get free or lower-cost drugs, especially if your income is low or you don’t have health insurance. Online resources, such as RxAssist, can also point you in the right direction towards prescription drug cost relief.  You can also get lower-cost care at a Federally Qualified Health Center, if you meet certain eligibility requirements.

Take Advantage of Your Employer’s Section 125 Plan (If They Have One)

These flexible spending arrangements let you contribute up to $2,650 per year (pre-tax!) to spend on out-of-pocket expenses for things like prescription drugs and copays for doctor visits. These plans usually adhere to a “use it or lose it” policy, so make sure you’re spending down anything left over in these accounts towards the end of your enrollment year (usually in December every year).

Enroll in Medicare

Many people 65 and older are not enrolled in Medicare, but if you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it’s highly recommended that you take advantage of this program. Medicare Part B covers a portion of bi-annual diabetes screenings, diabetes self-management education classes, insulin pumps and glucometers, and regular foot and eye exams. Medicare Part D covers insulin expenses. Learn more about the Medicare application process here.

Mail Order Your Supplies

If you’re able, use mail order to get recurring medications and supplies (you can sign up through your existing pharmacy). Oftentimes, you can buy a 90-day supply of your medicine for a single copay, instead of three separate copayments for three separate months. Mail-order supplies are bulk packaged and shipped to your home. This can be an excellent alternative if it’s hard to leave your home, and if you know you’ll need the same medication consistently, for months at a time. It’s also helpful in saving you money. Additionally, a lot of (over the counter) supplies can be bought in bulk from online retailers like Amazon for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a traditional pharmacy.

Ask Your Doctor About Generic Drugs

Although there is no generic form of insulin, many pills taken for type 2 diabetes are available in generic form. A bottle of Glucophage (60 tablets) costs around $80, but the generic form (metformin) will cost you about $10. Talk to your healthcare provider about generic options that are available to you.

Taking these small steps can add up to big savings over time, and can help you to live a long, healthy life, without the threat of complications. Plus, saving money on your diabetes supplies can help you invest in other (more fun) areas of life!

Have you found ways to better budget for your diabetes? How have you saved money for this costly condition? Share this post and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Accepting a New Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis

One of the toughest transitions in life can be a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Either for yourself or a family member, the initial shock of diagnosis is sometimes hard to take and can require some getting used to.

In this first installment of a four-part series on type 2 diabetes, here are five ways to adapt to a new diagnosis in your family and the best ways not only to cope, but to thrive with type 2 diabetes:

There’s No Shame in a Diagnosis

There is nothing to be ashamed of with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes is simply the body’s response to becoming insulin resistant or the body’s inability to produce enough insulin naturally (more symptoms listed here). There are many risk factors that contribute to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, but genetics and environmental factors do play a role. You may be discouraged upon diagnosis, but there’s no shame in having diabetes, and there’s no shame in taking charge of your health and taking care of yourself.

Today Is the Perfect Day to Be Healthy – Start Now

Not next week or next month, or even next year. Today is the perfect day to begin. Once you have a diagnosis, make sure you’re prepared with a glucometer, test strips, and a lancet device to start monitoring your blood sugar. You may also have a prescription for metformin or insulin that should be filled. Your doctor probably referred you to a nutritionist to come up with a meal plan, and maybe they’ve recommended regular exercise. Start small. Include more vegetables at your next meal, and aim for a short walk before bed. Taking small steps to improve your health today will lead to lasting health benefits down the road.

Assemble Your Care Team

This includes both professional and community support. Diabetes affects the whole family, and it’s important to have their physical and emotional support. You will need to enlist the expertise of not only your physician, but also an endocrinologist, and perhaps a nutritionist or maybe even a therapist. Caring family members can offer emotional support during this time of transition, and researching local support groups or diabetes advocacy organizations where you can find community will be a tremendous help in the weeks and months to come.

Don’t Operate from a Position of Fear

Make no mistake, type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that can cause devastating complications if left untreated, but it does not necessarily need to incite fear. You can live a long, happy, and healthy life with type 2 diabetes. This is an opportunity to tune into your body and make healthy, positive changes for the road ahead. Healthy lifestyle choices you make now can prevent complications later on in life.

Think of What This Adds to Your Life

A type 2 diabetes diagnosis is not the end of your life. Instead of thinking in terms of deprivation, think of what this adds (and can add!) to your life. More exercise. More opportunities to go outside. More excuses to walk your dog, or play with your children or grandchildren. More vegetables on your plate. More reasons to see your doctor and keep a closer eye on your health. More reasons to be thankful that you have the opportunity to get a firm grasp on your health in the here and now. Think in abundance and be grateful.

A type 2 diabetes diagnosis does not need to bring misery and sadness to your life. It can be an opportunity to connect with yourself, get in tune with your body, and lead you to start or continue to make healthy choices to prevent complications later on in life. And that’s something to cheers to.

Have you recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? How has the diagnosis affected your life so far? Share this post and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Diabetes Love Letter: From Eoin to Girlfriend

Editor’s note: I had the pleasure of meeting Eoin at a diabetes meetup in New York City last month. He had just won the Myabetic award for “Diabetic Male Fitness Influencer” and rightfully so since he motivates people every day to be the best version of themselves. He tackles affordability issues, stigmas and teaches his followers proper diet and exercise techniques. He is also a diabetic fitness trainer. You can follow him at @insuleoin on Instagram. 

By Eoin Costelloe

To my girlfriend,

Where can I start? It’s almost like we were both diagnosed. Just on different dates;

Myself with type 1 diabetes on 01.04.2012.

Without knowing, you were diagnosed with ‘second-hand type 1 diabetes’ on 08.10.18.

I feel it’s fitting for me, first of all, to thank you. Thank you for the time we’ve spent together, and thank you for everything you’ve done. I don’t think you truly understand how special you are.

When we started dating it was something you were interested in learning about, something you didn’t know much about, but something you didn’t know would almost become your full-time job, just as much as mine.

I remember explaining it to you, breaking things down; how we carb count, units of insulin required, the reasons, the complications, what it entails. At the time you knew a minimal amount. From then until now, you have become a diabetes expert.

Photo credit: Eoin Costelloe

Maybe looking back now, you wouldn’t have been so keen to take on such an admirable role as a girlfriend – as I’ve always said, ‘it’s an invisible disease.’

I often think of diabetes as a part of me that no one sees. It’s a disease that can let you live a normal life if you treat it with respect, but it’s always on your shoulder, it never takes any breaks and never leaves your side.

We often see in cartoons or movies how there is a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. For the past 8 years of my life, since being diagnosed, that devil has made a home on my shoulder. For 8 years he’s been there, day and night, sitting on my shoulder with no contender, no dispute or objection, no angel on the other side.

Since the day we met, you’ve been that angel. You’ve been the challenger.

Photo credit: Eoin Costelloe

You have always prioritized my health, even during the times when I didn’t. You’ve told me to ‘check your blood sugar’ when I was lazy about it, or prodded me to ‘take your insulin’ if it slipped my mind or yelled at me to ‘not eat another roll of sushi!’ You’ve cared more than I ever expected you to.

Sometimes I felt like it was a burden, almost like a third wheel in our relationship. Maybe there were times I didn’t want to stop and check my blood or pause to inject my insulin because we were in a perfect moment and didn’t want anything to ruin it. But you were the one to pause, you were the one to always reassure me that we were in it together no matter what.

Every injection, every high, every finger prick, every 3 am low blood sugar and every ‘regretful pizza’ eaten, you’ve been there. You’ve shown passion and intrigue to learn about this condition for the sole reason to help look after me. You’ve lived through it by my side and never once complained.

There are no words or phrases that can articulate my appreciation for you. You’re a star, chaim sheli!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Review: Senita Athletics Apparel Designed with Tech in Mind

Whether you wear a pump, CGM or just want your phone close by for emergencies, it is nice to find athletic wear that meets your needs. Senita Athletics makes durable, affordable and functional apparel that will allow you to keep your tech on you during even your most active times. Senita Athletics is designed to make you feel safe and not let diabetes get in the way of whatever it is you are doing.

Who Are They?

Maddie and Jenna have been close friends for many years. Teammates both in high school and Division I University, they were both no stranger to the many different brands and types of athletic wear available. After they both had children and vowed to get back into shape, they couldn’t wrap their heads around the prices of some of these clothing. They sought out to find manufacturers who could create high-quality fabrics at affordable prices. And in 2015, the Senita Athletics brand was born, offering products at a fraction of the price of its competitors.

Senita Athletics
Mesh Crop Top | Photo credit: Senita Athletics

What Do They Offer?

Senita Athletics offers a variety of different products for all types of activities and lifestyles. They carry an assortment of sports bras, tanks and long sleeve/sweatshirt options. They carry different lines as well, so there is a nice selection of pants with differing types of fit and fabric to choose from. Many of their products are designed to hold phones or other devices, which are perfect for people with type one diabetes.

How Much Does It Cost?

Senita Athletics is able to offer its customers affordable pricing by cutting out the middle man, the retail stores. Their products cost significantly less than the big brand names. You can see a good snapshot of their prices on their collections page.

My Review

I am an avid CrossFitter and go five times a week religiously. My workout clothes are put through the test between the vigorous workouts and constant washing so I am always looking for quality products that will last.

I was pleasantly surprised just upon touching the pants that I could tell they had enough spandex to hold me in and wouldn’t be too thin where I would be self-conscious about them being see-through. The best part is the pants come with pockets. They are placed on the outer thigh and through all the burpees, power cleans and back rows, they never once got in the way.

I also got a crop top that says “Fierce”; I just love this top and the message and it will definitely get me in the right mindset for a good sweat session!

Other products to try are the sports bras. These bras have a pocket straight down the back so it is out of sight and out of the way! I highly recommend these and plan on purchasing one before my Spartan Race this spring!

With a family connection to type 1 diabetes, Senita Athletics has kept our needs in mind when inspiring many of their designs. They have a special “Sweet Blue” line that has tops, bottoms and a very inspirational tank to help lift us up. Their Sweet Blue leggings have dots on it, which represent each time a person has to test their blood glucose. I am happy we have Senita Athletics apparel and more importantly, their support!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How to Save More Money in 2020

Everyone is looking to save money, whether it’s to put more money away for your child’s education, to afford expensive diabetes supplies, to take a big trip, or even if you’re trying to buy your first home. Here are our top 10 ways to save money in 2020 (and you won’t even feel the pinch, promise!):

Check Your Automatic Donations

Remember that donation to your favorite diabetes organization or research institute that you made in 2009? Or that rogue political candidate you never heard from again? Double-check to make sure your donations were for a single time sum, and not recurring. A lot of organizations make “recurring” donations the default, and their sticky fingers find their way into your bank account on a monthly basis! Double-check to save yourself some cash.

Buy an Instant Pot

You can save so much money by cooking in bulk, and an instant pot is a game-changer for saving money. Buying rice, beans, potatoes, and vegetables in bulk and then batch-cooking them in an instant pot can save you hundreds of dollars over the years.

public transport

Photo credit: Madeleine Ragsdale (Unsplash)

Take Public Transit to Work

Use public transportation at least half of the week, if possible. Better yet, negotiate to work from home one day a week to save money on gasoline and car maintenance. Alternatively, if you can carpool with a family member or friend, your gas money goes a lot farther!

The Happy Hour Rule

A fun rule to implement in 2020 is to only go out for drinks if there’s a happy hour. Going to a bar for a glass of wine can cost you up to $15 in some cities (for a single glass!), and limiting your imbibing to only happy hours can save you loads, while still having fun.

Try No Coffee Meetings for a Month

The average latte now costs $5, and if you have a daily coffee meeting that’s over $25 per week, and over $1200 per year! Challenge yourself to have a month without coffee meetings, and instead bring your coffee from home to the office. See if you miss the taste, but enjoy how much better your wallet feels!

If Able, Contribute to Your 401k

When you contribute to your 401k, you’re taxed on a smaller salary, and thus your tax burden will be less in the coming year, which could save you hundreds of dollars. Additionally, many employers will match contributions, and if you’re not investing in your employer’s 401k, you could be walking away from free (!) money. According to Investopedia, the ideal amount of contributions is between 15-20% of your earnings.

Ditch Cable

One of the biggest costs in monthly expenses can be the cable bill, and with the countless streaming services available nowadays, it doesn’t make sense to add another $100 a month to your bills. Opt for more wallet-friendly ways to get your TV fix, like Amazon Prime, Netflix, or HBO Go, that are a fraction of the cost of cable.

Be Wary of Fancy Gym Memberships

If you have a resolution to lose weight in the new year, be wary of joining a gym in January. Studies show that 80% of people who have a gym membership don’t go! If you want to lose weight in a sustainable way, focus on diet and natural ways to get exercise, like walking outside or adopting an active commute to work. You don’t need expensive gym memberships to get or stay fit- most of the time, it’s just a waste of money.

Sign Out of Amazon.com

Having a superstore in your pocket (with free, two-day shipping!) is dangerous. Simply deleting the Amazon app, or signing out of your account, will help you curb mindless, spontaneous spending. Instituting a 24-hour waiting period rule before purchasing something is an easy way to determine if you actually need the product you wish to buy.

Make Saving Automatic

Every month, schedule a recurring amount of money to be transferred from your checking account into your savings account for painless savings. Even better, some employers can arrange for a portion of your paycheck to deposit directly into savings, so you never see the money at all. And once you get accustomed to living on less, you’ll find that you don’t even miss the cash that you used to aimlessly spend anyway.

What are some of your favorite money-saving strategies? Share this post and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Parenting with Diabetes: I Taught My Two-Year-Old Daughter How to Be My Caretaker

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Cherise Shockley

diaTribe Community Manager, Cherise Shockley, shares the story of her diabetes diagnosis and how that diagnosis affected her family

I was diagnosed with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (or LADA, a type of diabetes between type 1 and type 2) in July 2004, at the age of 23. I was a newlywed, my husband, Scott, was deployed, and I had just finished five-and-a-half years in the Army Reserve. I was placed on oral medication (glipizide), and I began to manage this form of diabetes with diet and exercise, knowing that someday I would require regular insulin for the rest of my life.

In March of 2005, Scott returned from deployment, and a month later we found out I was expecting our first child. Nine months into my diabetes diagnosis, I was carrying my first child; I was temporarily placed on Regular and NPH insulins, because I had to stop taking my oral diabetes medication during pregnancy. At the time, I did not have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) – the first version of the Dexcom STS wasn’t invented until March 2006,  as my colleagues at diaTribe wrote about here.

My pregnancy was smooth-sailing aside from my diabetes, which took quite a toll on me, but I knew if I did what I could to manage the condition, my little girl would be okay.

Eight months after I gave birth to my daughter, Niya, we said our good-byes to our families and moved from Kansas City, Missouri, to our new duty station in Southern California.

From the time my daughter was one year old, until she was reached two, I was taking oral medication, and my hypoglycemic episodes were few and far between. When I did experience hypoglycemia, I was either at home or at work, and my husband or my coworkers could help me out.

After my daughter turned two, I noticed that my medication was no longer working. With the help of my nurse practitioner, I tried everything in my power to get oral medication to work for me, but it was time to see an endocrinologist.

A few days after my first visit, I met with a nurse practitioner. He told me, “Your beta cells are still present, but we do not want to burn out what little function you have, so I recommend you start taking insulin.” I paused. Although I knew this day was coming, it was like hearing “you have diabetes” all over again.

When we began talking about pump therapy, I asked for something easy to use, knowing that my two-year-old daughter would be my primary caretaker.  I wanted Niya to be able to help me if she needed to.  With my husband working late hours and traveling, we made a decision to teach my daughter how to manage my diabetes. We taught her how to call 9-1-1, how to treat my lows with apple juice, and eventually, how to shut my pump off. In the back of my mind, I wanted her to know how to manage diabetes just in case she received her own diagnosis later in life.

Parenting

Image source: diaTribe

Many parents of children with diabetes share stories of not being able to sleep because they are worried about waking their child up in the middle of the night to check their blood glucose levels. In my family, my daughter was the person I woke up in the middle of the night when I experienced low blood glucose. Before I had a CGM, Niya was the person helping me check my glucose levels and stuffing glucose tabs or candy into my mouth in the middle of the night when my husband was not home.

From the time she was two, my daughter was my primary or secondary caretaker. Scott retired two years ago, so now Niya only helps me out when it’s just the two of us together. If she hears the alarm from my CGM, she asks if I am okay.

I never asked Niya how she felt about her role in helping me manage diabetes; I was nervous to interview my 13-year-old daughter, but I wanted to know how she felt.

Me: How did it feel growing up with a mother with diabetes?

Niya: I was a normal kid. I can eat what I want. I was able to learn how to manage your diabetes and help you when you needed help. I know how to recognize when you are okay.

Me: How old were you when you realized I had diabetes?

Niya: I was four or five. You asked me to film a diabetes video for you.  The hook in the song, “Who has diabetes? Help us stop diabetes,” made me realize that diabetes was a bigger issue. Diabetes was my normal – but the video helped me see that diabetes was also serious.

Me: Was there ever a situation that scared you?

Niya: We recently went to Disney Springs together during Friends for Life. You went really low, and I was scared that you weren’t going to be okay. I didn’t want anything to happen to you when I was with you; I didn’t want to be responsible. Diabetes is a lot of responsibility for a kid, but in some ways, I’m used to it.

Me: That was a scary moment for me, as well. It was the first time in a long time that I was not able to get my blood glucose levels to go up (with glucose tabs or candy). It was important to me to let you shop with your friend while the team at Disney Springs sat with me.

Niya: Thank you for letting me be a kid and not forcing me to live as if I had diabetes. I love you.

Me: Is there anything you would like to say to other children who have parents with diabetes?

Niya: It is sometimes difficult having a parent with diabetes. I now have two parents with diabetes, since my dad has type 2. I want other kids to know that they can navigate it – they will feel extra pressure that other kids don’t feel, but hang in there. When your mother is as special as mine, it’s worth it; diabetes is a big part of my family.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Este Haim on Burnout + Bolusing for Pizza

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Todd Boudreaux

Este Haim is the bassist of the pop group Haim, which she formed with her sisters Alana and Danielle in 2007. Este has also been living with type 1 diabetes for nearly 20 years. Last week, Haim announced the release of their new track “Hallelujah,” stating the song is for “anyone struggling with chronic illness.” Beyond Type 1 caught up with Este to ask about the genesis of the track, her life on the road with T1D, and how she faces diabetes burnout with the help of her support system.

A Rough Transition

Freshman year of high school is perhaps the biggest transition in any teenager’s life. For Este Haim, that transition was made all the more difficult by her diagnosis with type 1 diabetes at age 14. Este recalls how difficult it was to fit in given all that she was going through.

“Yeah, it wasn’t a great way to start my first week of high school… I was basically a social pariah for a very long time. You know, I was just the diabetic kid in school that passes out and no one knows why and the diabetic girl that smelled like orange juice all the time.”

Although some of her classmates made life difficult in high school, there are two people Este has always been able to depend on — her sisters Alana and Danielle.

“Not only are they my sisters, I’m also in business with them, so we spend so much time together. We’re on the road together 24 hours a day for weeks on end. So they’ve seen every version of me. They’ve seen me in a good place with diabetes, and in a sh*tty place with diabetes,” Este says.

“I’m lucky that I have Danielle and Alana to be my support and when I am having a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, they’re always the first people to be like, ‘Dude we got you. Whatever you need. We’re going to get through this. Let’s get you a healthy meal. Let’s not have pizza after the show tonight. Let’s go get you something good so that you don’t wake up and your blood sugar is 350.”

Real Talk

“Pizza is such a blessing but it’s also such a curse” — Este’s description of pizza is all too real for anyone who has lived with diabetes.

“After a show, I get so hungry and the only thing that’s available to me is pizza. And we all know that pizza does weird sh*t to blood sugar. It’s this unexplained thing — bread I can bolus for, tomato sauce I can bolus for, cheese I can bolus for, but for some reason when they’re all together it’s this magical thing that I can never get right. It’s insane, what is that? It’s like my favorite food. And of course, it’s the one thing that I really can never get right. It’s hard being on the road and craving food and realizing the only things that are open late are either diners that don’t really have a lot of like salad-y options, or pizza.”

Este’s sisters fully grasp the exhaustion that comes with living with diabetes and have become an amazing support system for her. Their holistic view serves to remind Este that she is more than her diagnosis.

“My sisters have this incredible attitude of, ‘If you’re going to have a bad day, have a bad day, and just live your goddamn life. Tomorrow’s a new day, you get back on the wagon, get back on taking better care of yourself, let’s make some healthier choices. Let’s take a walk around the venue for a little bit, let’s get some exercise.’ And that also takes energy on their part. So I’m thankful that I have them on the road and it’s definitely an integral part of diabetes, is having that support. I’m really lucky.”

Life on the Road

Haim

Image source: Beyond Type 1

Keeping track of blood sugars on a consistent schedule is extremely difficult, and the ups and downs of life on the road can wreak havoc on the ability to maintain glycemic control, of which Este is all too aware.

“It’s being in a different time zone and not being able to sleep and then the stress of that and the cortisol in my blood making my blood sugar rise for no reason. Often, I won’t even know that I’m stressed out, and then I’ll see on my Dexcom that the arrow just goes straight up.”

Having a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) has been a game-changer for Este, not just because it allows her sisters to follow her glucose levels remotely, but also because of what it means to others living with T1D.

“I think awareness is so important and that’s why I wear my Dexcom on my arm now because I have a way of showing people that I am a type 1 diabetic… before I didn’t really have that.”

Diabetes Burnout

Este doesn’t mince words when it comes to the importance of mental health awareness for people living with type 1 diabetes. She is candid about the very real struggles that anyone living with a chronic illness endures over the course of their life.

“I think something that I struggled with, something a lot of people with diabetes struggle with, is perfection. We were taught to look at high blood sugars as a failure. I think that leads to diabetes burnout because you’re constantly trying to be perfect. Mentally, there’s only so much of that you can take without feeling like a failure… And I think that’s been the majority of the reason that I burn out. I’m just like ‘F*ck it, fine, whatever.’”

Haim recently released a new song titled ‘Hallelujah’ and Este posted that her verse in the song was inspired by her struggles living with T1D, specifically calling out the phenomenon of diabetes burnout in her post.

“It’s a lot easier sometimes to just ignore it and not deal with it, but we all know it always catches up with you… I feel like I’ve gone through diabetes burnout — for long periods of time — at least 10 different times in the past 20 years of being a diabetic, and like it’s tough, man. It’s tough to maintain that as a type 1 with chronic illness because there isn’t necessarily a promise that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and I said it in my post, it’s like a 24-hour job you can’t clock out of, that you don’t get paid for. Maintaining that mental toughness I think is exhausting for a lot of people.”

Haim

Image source: Beyond Type 1

Looking to the Future

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the support we receive from the people around us. As our discussion wrapped, Este told Beyond Type 1 how important it is to remind those that support us just how appreciated they are.

“The thing that I want to impart to people is to tell our loved ones that support us — that we do appreciate them — and to thank them for being supportive because I don’t know what I would do without my sisters, my parents, my best friends and my boyfriend for that matter… I think it’s really important to find the people that truly love and support you. I know it sounds trite and cliché, but all we can do is look to the future and try and live our best lives and have fun doing it. Enjoy every day as much as you possibly can, and don’t let diabetes get in the way of you doing and achieving everything that you want to do. Truly, that’s all we really can do.”

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Letting Go of the Way Things Were

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Bonnie O’Neil

Familiar Territory

I was no stranger to type 1 diabetes when my son was diagnosed with the disease at age five. My sister has been living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) since she was sixteen years old, and my brother died as he was being diagnosed when he was just eight. I was born eighteen months after my brother’s death as the replacement for the child my parents had lost. I was born on the shadow side of grief, into a family desperately in need of hope.

When my son was diagnosed with T1D, I instinctively knew I had reached the end of an era and would forever mark time by Before Diagnosis and After Diagnosis. This disease was deeply personal to me and so I responded swiftly and deeply to its reappearance in the warp and weft of my family.

I was riddled with anger — at the disease, at God, at the universe. My fear — for my son’s safety and quality of life, and for the health of my other children — threatened to undo me. I discovered I had a deep need for control, yet control was more elusive now than ever before. I struggled with guilt, knowing T1D had passed to my son through me. I found myself experiencing deep jealousy, perhaps for the first time, over everyone whose life seemed easier, sweeter, less complicated than mine. Frequently, in that early season, my jealousy even turned to self-pity. I felt isolated and was constantly exhausted.

I learned about carb counting and sliding scales for dosing insulin. I learned about the effects of diet, exercise, and illness on blood sugars. I was prepared for how difficult T1D would be on my child, but nowhere in all the training was a forewarning about how hard it would be on me, his caregiver.

What we have been called to as parents of a child with T1D is hard and can leave us physically and emotionally drained. While it is my son who lives with type 1 diabetes, I discovered the disease also invaded me personally, and hasn’t left any single aspect of my life untouched or unaltered. Refusing to be ignored, it’s chiseled at the deepest parts of my being, forcing me to dig deeper for strength than I have ever needed to before.

T1D also seeped into every pore of my family, as I’m sure it has seeped into yours. It has brought additional challenges to my marriage. It has complicated my relationship with my son, as I struggle with being his mother and caregiver without being a hoverer. The weight of the disease has even affected my other children. Chronic illness is the great disrupter.

Releasing Control to Gain It

How can we hope to build emotionally healthy families in the midst of all the disruption that accompanies T1D? We must begin deep within ourselves as parents. We begin by recognizing our own pain and attending to it, rather than continuing to brush past it, hoping it will just go away.

Because it won’t.

If we don’t find healing for our unhealthy emotions, the muck will spill over and spiral out into the rest of our family. But, when we begin to tend to our own hearts, we create space for our wounds to heal, allowing the healing to spiral outward until gradually it touches every relationship within the family. Hope and healing begin with us.

The undoing of our captivity to fear and anger, mourning and brokenness, requires the relinquishing of our constant longing to live a different life. An easier life. A life where loving and care giving don’t hurt quite so much. To move beyond fear we must begin to accept what is. As long as we refuse to accept our new normal, fear will hold us in its grip. Acceptance allows us to face our fears, and once we face our fears, we can begin to deal with them. In accepting this disease, I acknowledge my son’s vulnerability and also my own.

But acceptance is hard, isn’t it? It requires us to do the difficult work of releasing control. Control is our need to influence and determine the outcomes of all situations affecting our life. Control is our attempt at ordering the world around us, and it’s our insistence that life conform to our view of how things should be. My son’s disease interrupted the carefully ordered world I had envisioned for my family. It shattered my expectations. It took away my control.

And when we lose control, it’s easy for anger to step in and take its place. We don’t like the unsettled feeling of being out of control. We prefer to walk on solid ground, yet this disease demands we embrace the shifting footing of uncertainty. I’ve learned though, that the only way forward is through the crucible of releasing control. To take hold of hope we have to release our lock-fisted grasp on the way we insist things should be. The way things once were.

A new hope can only be birthed out of our willingness to set aside our need for control, and to courageously begin to accept things as they now are.

This essay is a taste of the book Bonnie O’Neil is currently finishing writing for parents of a child with chronic illness. Through narrative and reflection, the book weaves a story of hope amidst the challenges of raising a child with T1D.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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