Five Reasons Why I Choose Multiple Daily Injections

Since the day I was diagnosed, I have had people telling me I should consider an insulin pump. Seven and a half years later, I still say no. My A1c has always been in a healthy range, and I am fine with only having one device, the Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor (CGM), on my body. I know pumpers rave about their tight control and I am truly amazed by the pump’s capabilities, even more so now with the new features on the Medtronic 670G. However, I prefer a KwikPen, which is true to its word — it is quick and easy and just the way I like it!

Here are my five top reasons for being on team MDI (multiple daily injections):

1. No Kinks or Knots

I constantly hear stories of people waking up with a blood sugar in the 300s, and they had no idea. This is because there was a kink or knot in their tubing and the insulin wasn’t getting into their body all night long. Yes, if they are wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), it should have alerted them, but that sounds like a pain you don’t get from the poke of a pen!

2. Fewer Bruises and Scar Tissue

Don’t get me wrong, the pokes of 6-8 injections a day does add up, and I do have bruises on my body. But have you seen the needle on those pump infusion sets? They are a lot longer and thicker than my Humalog pen. Also, the cannula stays in your body, therefore, leaving much larger holes. This means more bumps and bruises and also means more scar tissue.

3. No Crazy Calculations

As I mentioned above, I am amazed at what a pump can do. It can give you a precise amount of insulin right down to the decimal point. It can also tell you what your insulin on board (IOB) is. My pen can’t do either of these things! However, I do use Humalog Luxura, which is a half-unit pen so I can get more accurate dosing. Also, I mostly eat low-carb, so my dose is usually between 1-3 units. I prefer not having to count every carb I consume; math is not my strong suit!

4. Quick and Easy

KwikPens are quick and easy and take one second to use! I compare these seconds of my day to a lifetime of walking around with another device attached to me, tubing included, and that’s just not for me. Between CrossFit and being a mom, the tubing would not be kind to me.

5. I Don’t Have to Carry Around My Pancreas

When people first recommended the pump, I really only focused on not wanting to wear something else attached to my body. What I didn’t consider was the fact that I would have to actually carry around my new pancreas! When I went to my first type one weightlifting event, Bolus & Barbells, I was so surprised to see everyone with their phones in one hand and their stand-in organ in the other. I imagine that showering and going to the bathroom is a little more challenging than it is for the average Joe!

Photo by Allison Caggia

While I know there are many benefits to wearing a pump; it is just not something I am considering at this time. For me, the fewer reminders of this disease, the better. And with another device attached to me, especially with tubing, I would feel tethered. If I were to consider a pump, it would be the Omnipod since it is tubeless. For now, I will remain loyal to team MDI.

Are you someone who is on multiple daily injections and won’t have it any other way? Or are you someone who was MDI and made the switch to a pump and are glad you did? Share your story!

A previous version of this post has been updated.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Stigma and the Stories We Share

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Matthew Garza

Matthew Garza joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2020 after graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Garza is the Managing Editor of diaTribe Learn.

One of the most powerful ways to change a person’s mind is to have a one-on-one conversation. By focusing on the power of storytelling, diaTribe encourages people to share their experiences as an effective tool to fight against stigma, stereotypes, and the harmful trap of the single story of diabetes.

Diabetes stigma is extremely pervasive and harmful. It exists everywhere, including within the family, school, workplace, and healthcare setting, and it prevents people from seeking care and managing their physical and mental health. In short, this type of stigma – the shame and self-blame that a person might feel for having diabetes – can be a major stumbling block for people trying to manage this condition.

The characteristics and degree of stigma don’t look the same for every person with diabetes. For instance, a person who takes insulin might feel isolated or judged for injecting insulin, taking a blood sugar reading, or wearing an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor (CGM). For others, stigma may be associated with certain body types or weights. For parents, a sense of stigma might come in the form of assuming blame or perceiving the judgment of others for somehow “causing” their child’s diabetes. And women with gestational diabetes may experience stigma tied to their diagnosis: that they did something wrong or won’t be able to have a healthy pregnancy.

diaTribe believes that addressing these various forms of stigma is an essential missing element of effective and compassionate diabetes care. As a part of this work, we have created the Lightning Talks series, in which experts and community members come together to learn about diabetes stigma and the ways we can address it, and to share stories and personal experiences.

At last year’s Lightning Talks event, we learned about stigma – what causes it, what other movements have done to address it (such as those working on LGBTQ rights, mental health, or HIV/AIDS), and how it manifests itself in the diabetes community and in diabetes care – from five experts and advocates. This year we moved beyond simply learning, to attempting to do something to change it.

Over the past year, we identified a specific method of change, the transformative power of storytelling, as a starting place. Research shows that one-on-one conversations and education are among the most effective strategies to help shift people’s thinking and keep them from making assumptions that lead to stigma. Simply sharing personal stories from people with diabetes about what it’s really like to live with this condition can change the narrative on diabetes in America.

We didn’t come up with this idea on our own. We were inspired to use this strategy after listening to a famous Ted Talk by the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which we used as the foundation of this year’s program. By listening to Adichie describe the danger of a single story, we were inspired to create a tapestry of many stories by people with diabetes.

“The single story creates stereotypes,” Adichie said in her talk, “and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

If you look at the portrayal of diabetes in our culture, it’s easy to see this concept manifested. Diabetes is often painted to be an individual’s problem that is caused by a lack of willpower, unhealthy eating, and inactivity. This single story of diabetes is one of blaming people for being lazy and unhealthy, without any regard for the huge number of uncontrollable factors that can cause diabetes. We encourage you to watch Adichie’s Ted Talk to understand the importance of eliminating the single story.

“Stories matter. Many stories matter,” she said. “Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.”

Two of our Lightning Talk speakers, Eileen Opatut and Phyllisa Deroze, shared their stories of living with diabetes in this spirit. Opatut, a former senior vice president of programming for The Food Network, has been living with type 2 diabetes for several decades. Deroze, a blogger, researcher, and advocate in the diabetes community, is the founder of DiagnosedNotDefeated.com and Black Diabetic Info. She was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but has since discovered she actually has latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (or LADA).

These women shared their experiences, including their diagnoses, their journey with diabetes, and how they have navigated a world that tells them they are the cause of their condition. They also shared moments that allowed them to break free of the stigma that often felt oppressive.

Lightning

Image source: wittmannstudios

Opatut, describing how her diabetes has progressed, said, “My body doesn’t produce insulin anymore. I have been on insulin for eight years. Is it because I didn’t take it with enough seriousness [when I was diagnosed]? Maybe, maybe not.”

But then she shared something that changed the way she thinks about her own diabetes. “During a casual lunch with my brother, my thin, athletic older brother, he took out some metformin,” she said. “He was diabetic too. And he had been too embarrassed to tell me. It was a big day because on that day, I could finally say to myself, ‘This isn’t my fault’… I could finally get to the business of educating myself and taking ownership of my diabetes.”

Lightning

Image source: wittmannstudios

Deroze talked about the intense sadness, isolation, and shame that she felt upon being diagnosed. She said the “weight of diabetes stigma impacted [me] almost every single day.”

When she was diagnosed in 2011, she began blogging at diagnosednotdefeated.com from her hospital bed. For the next six years she blogged under an alias, embarrassed to identify herself. “The most devastating part about the weight of diabetes stigma is assuming that somehow I did this to myself,” Deroze said. “And that caused me to be silent.”

It took years for her to feel comfortable enough to change her story and write about herself under her own name. “I didn’t get over diabetes stigma. I pushed through it,” she said. “And because I pushed through it, and started sharing my stories, the most amazing things started happening.”

Opatut and Deroze’s stories resonated with many of the audience members, many of whom saw themselves in the experiences the speakers shared.

Lightning

Image source: wittmannstudios

“I completely felt every word that they were saying,” said Julie Heverly, diaTribe’s director of institutional giving, who joined diaTribe’s Community Manager Cherise Shockley in the Community Sessions after the event. “I also went almost six years without really talking about my diabetes… So much of what was shared tonight, even though it wasn’t my exact story, hit very close to home. The stigma that we put on one person with diabetes affects every single person who is living with disease, whether they are a patient, a family member, or even a future person with diabetes.”

Heverly wasn’t alone. Renza Scibilia, a writer and the manager of Type 1 Diabetes and Communities at Diabetes Australia, and T’ara Smith, an advocate and the project manager of Beyond Type 2, also joined Shockley on the Community Sessions panel to share their thoughts.

“I don’t think we can ever hear enough stories about people living with diabetes,” said Scibilia. “Other people’s stories help make my diabetes make sense…When we hear other people’s stories, those feelings of isolation can disappear. Knowing that we are not alone is so powerful.”

Smith agreed. “[Phyllisa’s] story always blows me away, especially when she talks about having to blog under an alias for so long,” she said. “And I think that really goes into the shame and stigma that people with diabetes face. Her story in particular is one that I can relate to myself.”

Sharing your own personal story can have a huge impact. It means that other people with diabetes will see a person that understands their experience, who can help them realize they aren’t alone. And it means that people without diabetes will have a human face for this condition – one that talks back against the single story of diabetes they have been told repeatedly.

Sharing a personal story isn’t the only way to accomplish this, sharing real stories about others can be a similarly powerful tool, and one that friends, family members, and healthcare professionals can partake in.

Image source: wittmannstudios

“What we choose to reflect back to others, the stories we choose to share, can change the model of the world that people around us are constantly forming,” said David Lee Strasberg, CEO and creative director of the Lee Strasberg institute, who was the final Lightning Talk speaker of the event.

He shared tips on how to take stories that we hear and read, and share their core messages with others. He advised that before anyone shares someone else’s story, you need to truly listen to them and understand what they are saying. Getting permission to share someone’s story is also key, as is acknowledging the source of the story (when appropriate). Finally, “When we retell a story,” he said, “use love and understanding, not fear or anger. Having a whole community of strong, empathic, impassioned storytellers is maybe our greatest asset.”

We know from history that retelling stories can be just as powerful as sharing our own. At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1987, the AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed for the first time on the National Mall. Each panel of the quilt represented the story of a person lost to AIDS – a person unable to share their own story. And yet, their friends and family members were able to remember the lives of their loved ones, raise awareness about their fight against the deadly disease, and encourage the world to care about a group of people that so many had written off.

And so, diaTribe wants to encourage you to share your stories, and to share the stories of those with diabetes whom you love and care about. Only then can we dismantle the incomplete single story and create a tapestry of experiences that paint a more accurate picture of what living with diabetes is and can be.

And we want to hear those stories. Send us your story or the story of a loved one to stigma@diaTribe.org and make your voice heard.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Imagine Spotlights: Community Manager Tiana Cooks Talks T1D + Pageantry

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

By Beyond Type 1

Imagine Spotlights is a weekly video series produced as part of ADA’s virtual Imagine Camps for kids and teens. Hosted by Rob Howe, this series features conversations with inspirational individuals affected by diabetes and offers a fun learning experience for campers and their families. Watch the first interview with Tiana Cooks below!



*Partial transcript of the conversation below, edited for content + clarity.

You were a senior in high school when you were diagnosed – did you have the typical symptoms?

That’s a great question, and I always think back to that time since I remember it so clearly, and I think it was at least a month before I started feeling a little sick. I don’t know if any of you have bathroom passes, but at my school, they gave us this sheet. And on this sheet, we had about 15 passes to use the entire school year. And if we didn’t use our passes, we received extra lunchtime. I had saved all of my bathroom passes. I had all 15 passes left. And then I remember in one week, I went through the entire sheet of bathroom passes and I was so mad at myself. I remember telling my teacher, “I have to go to the bathroom,” but I was all out of my bathroom passes. So my teacher said, “Tiana, are you okay?” And I said, “That’s a great question.”

I wasn’t feeling great. I was obviously using the restroom a lot. I was very thirsty. I was losing a lot of weight. And then I went to my track coach and said, “Coach, I’ve lost 10 pounds in the first two weeks of the season, what is going on?” And he said, “Well, you probably just lost it because you’ve been running so much.” And then I remember this is when it really hit me. I thought, why is my vision blurry? I remember waking up one morning and I couldn’t see. And so I pulled out my phone and I typed in my symptoms. The first thing that popped up was type 1 diabetes, and I thought, this is it.

Do you ever try to strike up conversations with others you see wearing a pump or continuous glucose monitor (CGM)?

If I see someone else with diabetes, we’re automatically friends. There was one time I was waiting in this line to order food for 15 minutes, and all of a sudden I saw someone with a Dexcom on and I thought, Am I going to stay in line? Am I going to go talk to them? And I chose to go talk to them. I went over and introduced myself to them because I just feel like it’s so rare. They call it seeing a diabetic in the wild. And it’s so rare to see someone that has their equipment on as well.

Can you speak to stigma and stereotypes in the pageant world? How do you battle people’s assumptions about living with diabetes?

People do often stigmatize people with diabetes. They think that just because we’ve got diabetes, we can’t eat certain things or we can’t participate in certain events and that is totally not true. It is present in pageantry as well, people don’t think that we can do pageants because we have diabetes. People don’t think that we can participate in different athletic events because of diabetes. And I think one thing that I’ve learned after participating in various events, whether that be track or softball or basketball or pageantry, there’s always going to be people that have their own opinions. And sometimes those opinions will not be positive, and that’s okay because we just have to educate others about diabetes.

Before I started competing in pageantry, I also had stigmas about people who competed in pageants. Before I had diabetes, I didn’t know what it was. And so until we continue to educate ourselves and others, it will be hard to be fully aware of what people go through. So the more we advocate and the more we continue to tell people and educate them about diabetes, I think the more that stigma is going to go away. I just want to say this, even if people at school say mean things about you because you have diabetes, you just have to know that you’re special and that you have to have that confidence. You have to be confident regardless of what people are saying about you because you know that you’re enough and regardless of what anybody says, you’re capable of doing anything in this life just as good or even better than anybody else.

What advice do you have for people who want to get involved and give back to others living with diabetes?

I would say, if you want to get involved, do what makes sense for you. Just because Tiana is very vocal about her diabetes and just because Tiana loves to talk to other people about it doesn’t mean that you have to. If getting involved for you just means telling people that you meet the warning signs of diabetes, then do that. It might look like being vocal in your community and not online. There’s this huge misconception that in order to be making an impact, you have to be posting or talking about it, and that’s totally false. You can make an impact in your own way. Maybe you write cards to people at your local hospital. That’s how I started, I volunteered at my local hospital.

There are also support groups going on in the community. And we have an online community, our Beyond Type 1 app, and that community is just a great way to meet other people with type 1. There are just so many ways to get involved and it doesn’t look like competing in a beauty pageant all the time. It doesn’t. Or it doesn’t look like having a platform online. I actually helped set up support groups in my community, and those were super fun. Sometimes there would be five people, and other times there would be 50 people at the support groups. It’s just cool to build that community and that support network.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Adolescence, Stigma, and Owning Diabetes

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Katie Bacon

Katie Bacon is a writer and editor based in Boston. Her daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August, 2012, when she was six. Katie’s writing about diabetes has appeared on TheAtlantic.com and ASweetLife. Katie has also written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and other publications.

Adolescence can be a confusing time, and this is doubly true for teenagers with type 1 diabetes. At a stage when everyone is starting to figure out who they are, the teenager with type 1 must also decide how much they want diabetes to be a part of their identity. Katie Bacon, the mother of a teenager with type 1, spoke with a range of experts and peers who shared their expertise and experiences on this subject.

Our daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at six years old, just before she started first grade. At the time, it was important both from a safety perspective and from an emotional one that the people around her knew about her diagnosis. Along with her teachers and the school nurse, we let all her friends and their parents know, and they rallied around us to support her. She quickly owned having type 1. It became an important and immutable part of her identity, one she was proud to share with others.

Fast forward eight years to this past fall, when she was doing orientation for her new high school. After being surrounded by a group of familiar and supportive friends from kindergarten through eighth grade, here she knew almost no one. Not to mention that, in the era of COVID-19 – with masks, cohorts, and strict rules about socializing – it would be much harder to meet people.

During orientation she was asked to create a timeline of important moments in her life. While chatting about what she might write, I asked if she was going to include her diagnosis. Her response seemed to come completely out of left field: “Why would I put that down? I’m not planning on telling anyone unless I become really close friends with them.”

She made it clear that she was now much less willing to acknowledge having type 1 as she entered high school. Although she didn’t express it quite this way, it seemed that the reason stemmed from a desire to avoid being judged or stigmatized – she didn’t want to be known as the new girl with diabetes. So, we agreed that we would tell the school nurse, her teachers, and her sports coaches – for her health and safety, it was non-negotiable that they all know. We also agreed that it would be up to her to choose when (and if) she would tell her friends.

Still, it felt like my daughter was cutting away her safety net. I wanted to know if this shifting perspective on her condition was typical for teenagers, and I wanted some advice on how to help her through it. I reached out to Rachel Rifkin, a longtime friend who was diagnosed with type 1 at age ten; to Dr. Ananta Addala, a pediatric endocrinologist at Stanford Children’s Health; and to Dr. Persis Commissariat, a pediatric psychologist at Joslin Diabetes Center who also has type 1. Through their expertise and experiences, they helped answer my questions about disclosing teenage diabetes versus hiding it; about stigma, perceived stigma, and how to deal with it; and about how to let go a little bit while still giving our daughter support through this process.

One of the crucial parts of adolescence is identity development, when teenagers figure out who they are in relation to their family and their peers. At this developmental stage, people are particularly sensitive to being different in any way; and if they are different, they want it to be in ways that they’ve chosen. All of this is complicated, of course, by having a chronic disease that requires frequent visible action and identifiable devices to manage (insulin shots, continuous glucose monitors or CGM, insulin pumps, etc.).

Dr. Commissariat took on this topic as the lead author of a paper on identity and treatment adherence in teens and young adults with type 1 diabetes, which appeared in Pediatric Diabetes. She and her co-authors looked at the differences between those who “incorporated” their illness versus those who “contained” it or tried to keep it separate from the rest of their identity. “Those who incorporate their illness … take it into account in their daily life and are able to find ways to include the illness as part of their sense of self. Those who contain their illness may try to keep their illness hidden, worry about stigma, or try to … maintain a sense of self [that is] unburdened by illness, often ignoring daily self-management needs.”

What they found, Dr. Commissariat explained to me, was that people who tend to take a more “positive approach to making diabetes part of their sense of self – people who view it as ‘it’s my burden and I’m okay with it’ – tended to have lower A1C levels. They were a little more engaged in treatment.” In other words, those teenagers who managed to incorporate diabetes into their identity usually did better.

Because of this, Dr. Commissariat works with her patients to help them develop an identity that has “an appropriate degree of type 1 in it. I don’t think anyone needs to identify first and foremost as a person with diabetes. But the fact of the matter is that there are secondary issues that come up if we don’t take care of diabetes. So, you must identify with it to some extent. And I think what oftentimes becomes difficult for teenagers is finding that balance between being a ‘normal teenager’ and being a teenager with diabetes. Because on its face, they don’t really go hand-in-hand, but they should and they can.”

As I’ve witnessed firsthand with our daughter, adolescence can be a time when children want to move away from their identity as someone with type 1. When Rachel Rifkin was a teenager, she found herself transitioning from being relatively open about having type 1 to having it be something that she preferred to keep to herself. “I always did whatever I could to avoid people knowing about it. I always wore my pump in a back pocket. I never wanted to clip it onto the front of my pants or anything.”

In her practice, Dr. Addala has seen people go both ways. While she says that it’s more common for teenagers to “minimize the thing that makes them different, which is a very normal teenage developmental thing to do,” she’s also had patients who have embraced that difference. And in fact, in those individuals she sees a “further doubling down on the fact that diabetes is what makes them who they are; it’s a source of strength and pride and something that defines their character.”

But for those teenagers who aren’t willing to talk about or share that they have diabetes, both Dr. Commissariat and Dr. Addala try to understand the reasons behind the hesitancy. As Dr. Addala explains, “I try to see where the source of the apprehension comes from. Is it specifically that they don’t mind taking care of their diabetes or they don’t mind wearing technology, but they just don’t want other people to see?”

In these situations, Dr. Addala treads lightly and tries to respect the teenager’s feelings while gently encouraging them to open up. “I let them lead a bit when this topic comes up. They might say, well, I think I could probably tell my closest friend that I have diabetes. Or maybe they’re not willing to tell anyone, and I do my best to support them even in those cases. I’m trying to find out where their internalized stigma is originating from, and then see how far they’re willing to go in terms of who they share the information with. I generally use this approach because then they have some ownership.”

Dr. Commissariat points out that there’s an essential difference between being private about having diabetes and being secretive about it. As she tells her patients, “You don’t need to advertise it. But for safety purposes, it is important that at least a couple of your close friends know.”

She also talks about helping teenagers learn to communicate that they have type 1 in a way that feels manageable and builds confidence. She tells her patients: “I want to know exactly what you wish other people knew about diabetes. And then let’s find a way to teach people in a way that is not burdensome to you. Teenagers are trying so hard to not draw too much attention to themselves, so I often practice with them in our visits – how can we bring this up in a way that is not going to bite you in the back? That could mean having a serious discussion with your best friend, or that could mean something as easy as wearing short sleeves around people who don’t know you have diabetes, just so that they can see your CGM. Wait for people to comment on it. Use a passive disclosure strategy where you just pull out your pump and you take a bolus, and you don’t say anything unless somebody asks you.”

It’s especially helpful for teenagers to have a disclosure strategy when it comes to romantic or physical relationships. As Rifkin says, “With people you’re interested in, it’s a whole other web that you have to navigate in terms of what you tell people and when. And as I’m sure you can imagine, if you have a CGM or a pump, there are physical things on your body that may come up. It’s helpful to have a strategy for how you deal with that.”

Teenagers tend to be both self-centered and self-conscious, so when it comes to diabetes, it’s easy for them to assume that everyone is noticing it in a negative way. Rifkin remembers being in a movie theater one time when her pump started beeping. “I was so horrified. I was like, ‘Oh my God. Everyone must hate me right now. I’m ruining this experience for them.’ You don’t have a lot of perspective at that age. Diabetes seemed like such a big deal.”

Dr. Commissariat points out that all teenagers tend to think the focus is on themselves – even when it’s not. She tells her patients, “Your friends don’t care that you’ve had to go to the bathroom to take an injection. Your friends are like, ‘Okay, let’s go to the bathroom, then I can check how my hair looks.’” And she comments that those who do ask about it are probably asking because “they’re interested and they’re curious, and maybe those will be the people who will help you in the future.”

Another tip Dr. Commissariat gives her patients is to make sure that they talk about diabetes in the way they want others to see it. “If you don’t want it to be a big deal, don’t make it into a big deal because people are going to mirror you.”

For both Dr. Addala and Dr. Commissariat, part of the process is working with the parents on learning how to give their children the space to develop independence, as teenagers need to do. This can be a difficult transition, since diabetes requires so much oversight from both the parent and the child. As Dr. Commissariat says, “One of the major tasks of this developmental stage is to be independent and become less attached to your parents. But it’s really hard with diabetes to be less attached to your parents and be more like your friends when you’re managing something that takes so much responsibility.”

Dr. Addala focuses on helping parents try to see the situation from their child’s perspective. “So often part of the conversation is helping the family understand why a teenager might not want others to know they have diabetes. Where safety is concerned, it helps for the family to create boundaries around what is a true concern, and what’s just an added buffer in terms of safety.”

For both Rifkin and Dr. Commissariat, owning type 1 was a long process, one that continued into adulthood. Now, Rifkin says, “I’m a lot more open about it. I think it makes sense that those feelings that teenagers have of wanting to be private and not wanting to stick out at all fade over time, as people feel more confident in their own skin. These days I don’t feel like I have to explain it to anybody.”

Dr. Commissariat describes a long process of slowly pushing herself to make diabetes a more public part of her identity; she started by keeping her pump on display rather than keeping it in her pocket. Then she moved to bolusing and checking her blood sugar in front of people she knew and then also in front of people she didn’t know. Part of the change, for her, started when her nurse practitioner sat her down and said, “You’re not a diabetic, you’re a person with diabetes.” (Dr. Commissariat has since learned about research suggesting that this shift in labeling helps people become “more accepting of their identity with diabetes.”)

“When I look back on it now,” she says, “that statement suddenly clicks for me [in terms of] everything I went through. I thought diabetes was trying to define me, and that was my big mistake. I own it, it doesn’t hold me. When I allowed diabetes to be a part of my day and created my own definition of myself with diabetes as just a part of who I am and what I do, it wasn’t quite as burdensome anymore, but still annoying, no doubt.”

As for our daughter, after a year at her new school, my sense is that she’s still private about her diabetes, but she’s no longer secretive. A couple of her closest friends at her school now know, and that feels like a good start. At an event at the end of the year, after what felt like months where she hadn’t been willing to bolus in front of anyone, I finally saw her pull out her pump and give herself insulin right there in public – even if she was a bit off to the side. No one except me seemed to notice. I felt like she was beginning to establish that place for herself where she could feel like any other teenager. A teenager who just happens to have diabetes.

About Katie

Katie Bacon is a writer and editor based in Boston. Her daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August, 2012, when she was six. Katie’s writing about diabetes has appeared on TheAtlantic.com and ASweetLife. Katie has also written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and other publications.

Note: Given the personal nature of this article, Bacon asked for and received her daughter’s permission to publish it.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Be Prepared: Surviving Natural Disasters with Diabetes

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By: Amber Clour

Amber Clour was born and raised in Norman, Oklahoma. Twenty-one days after her eighth birthday, she was rushed to Children’s Hospital where she spent two weeks learning how to live her new life with type 1 diabetes. In 2015 she co-founded DiabetesDailyGrind.com and the Real Life Diabetes Podcast.

It may not be possible to anticipate every emergency, but for those with diabetes, it’s especially important to prepare for the unexpected. Hear how people with diabetes survived natural disasters, what they learned about planning ahead, and the advice they have for others.

Susan Hoagland, 70, who lives with type 1 diabetes, worked up until the day before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005. Then like most people in the path of the hurricane, she headed out of town.

“In my mind, I was only heading to Austin [Texas] in anticipation of Katrina for a long weekend and didn’t pack all of my medications and supplies,” she said. Hoagland didn’t have a prepared container of supplies, including medications, food, hypo treatments, glucose monitoring devices packed and ready to go – something she would later regret.

***

Dealing with diabetes management every day takes considerable effort, and even when we’re on our A-game, things can at times get overlooked. It’s important to anticipate what might be needed in the case of a natural disaster, so that the fight or flight response due to an adrenaline rush doesn’t get the better or you and your health.

Growing up in Tornado Alley (Oklahoma) means long ago I developed a game plan for emergencies, so that an impending tornado, and the need to leave my home, would not imperil my diabetes management.

I wanted to reach out to others who have been in this situation, and to Carol Atkinson, an expert at the Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition, to hear more about surviving natural disasters and the tips and tricks they have found helpful. The bottom line is that everyone should be prepared to leave their home in case of an emergency with everything they need to make it through the crisis. Being prepared and having everything ready to grab and go means when a natural disaster strikes, you don’t have to face making layers of decisions, delay your departure, or augment your flight or fight response.

To be prepared, think about all the supplies you will need:

  • Medications: Put a supply of all your medications in separate containers to last a week or longer, and think about how to keep insulin at the right temperature, such as an instant cool pack.
  • Injection supplies: syringes, your insulin pens, extra pump supplies
  • Food, a source of glucose, water to stay hydrated: a supply of glucose tabs works really well, some bottles of water, and some food that doesn’t spoil
  • Monitoring supplies – like my CGM, a backup blood glucose meter and strips, and a way to measure ketones
  • Copies of prescriptions
  • An emergency contact list contact in case of an emergency
  • Cellphone charger
  • Batteries, an ID, and cash

***

The morning before Hurricane Katrina hit the banks of New Orleans, Hoagland was in a panic ­– not a good mindset when it comes to making sure she would have everything she would need to survive the catastrophic storm. As she gathered her things in a hurry, she realized she had nowhere to go. She called her son and daughter-in-law, who called friends until they found a place in Austin where she could stay. Despite the fact that it takes eight hours to drive to Austin from New Orleans, she left unprepared.

“I drove straight for two days because you couldn’t stop; there was nowhere to stay,” she recalled. “The rest areas were packed and I had to keep moving. I was fearful for my life and my animals – we had to make it to Austin. It was a nightmare and I wasn’t prepared. In retrospect, I was in survival mode, fueled by adrenaline and weathering high blood sugars.”

One of the many things we might forget as people living with diabetes is how much of an effect adrenaline and stress can have on our blood sugar. It is in our best interest to take the necessary precautions well in advance to lessen the burden on our health when disaster strikes. That includes having the technology you need to test your blood sugar, the medications you need to manage your glucose or other conditions, and back-up emergency supplies like food, batteries, and water.

I reached out to Atkinson, co-chair of the Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition (of which diaTribe is a member) and director of Insulin for Life USA, to find out what advice she has for how to survive the unexpected. She emphasized the importance of preparedness, especially for people living with a chronic illness.

“Always be prepared by building your preparedness kit well before disaster hits and make it customizable to your needs,” Atkinson said. “Be sure to check your kit every quarter to make sure nothing has expired. Other things to consider when packing your preparedness kit ­– a laminated copy of your prescriptions, photo identification, and cash.”

Atkinson suggests leaving the checklist to the experts so you don’t have to worry about making a list yourself. The Diabetes Disaster Resource Coalition makes it easy by providing a downloadable preparedness plan checklist. And you can find even more resources from the coalition here.

Natural disaster

Image source: Cynthia Celt

In 2016, Cynthia Celt and her husband, Mike, set off on an adventure in Costa Rica. After a four hour van ride in the middle of the night in heavy rain, the road was almost a foot deep with mud, and they found themselves stuck in a landslide.

Rescue trucks soon arrived to extract them from the sea of mud. Before Celt knew what was happening, her bag containing all her diabetes supplies was placed into a truck and took off into the dark hills of the unknown country without her. She rode in the back of another truck back to the now powerless resort safely, but without her bag.

“My phone was dead, so I didn’t have my Dexcom readings,” Celt said. “My meter, chargers, and cables were in the back of another truck, which didn’t matter because I had no electricity to charge them. I had little bits of all my diabetes supplies with me, but not nearly enough to sustain me for the entire trip. I was scared to dose as I couldn’t check and had just a candy or two that remained in my purse to treat possible lows.”

Not having access to your diabetes supplies is scary, but Celt said she learned some valuable lessons from this unfortunate experience, including:

  • Always have a blood glucose meter and plenty of strips. “I had somehow failed to bring a meter,” she said. “Lesson learned 100 times over. I now carry a meter and more strips than I will need with me in my purse, even if only headed out for just a few hours!” Make sure that you have all the diabetes supplies you need to manage high or low blood sugar – including your medications and insulin, emergency glucagon, glucose tablets or small snacks, and a blood ketone meter.
  • Having a cell phone battery charger can come in handy. “What saved me when I did get our bags was a 72-hour backup phone charger,” she said. “It allowed me to finally see my blood glucose digits in real time again!” Make sure you have emergency backup batteries and chargers.
  • Research what services will be available to you in the event of an emergency (hospitals, pharmacies, stores to pick up low supplies, etc.). Though this was not her first diabetes travel fumble, being stuck in the dark in a landslide rattled her enough that she now packs back-up diabetes supplies for her back-ups!
  • Don’t be afraid to cause a “fuss” or make a scene if it means having access to the things you need to stay alive. “I should have held onto my bag and helped them understand my life depends on these supplies,” she said. “I was afraid and embarrassed to make an already challenging situation difficult.”

Atkinson stressed that same point, “When evacuating or during any emergency situation,” she said, “define yourself as an insulin dependent person living with diabetes, if you are one. Speak up for yourself.”

In April 2021, Celt was thrown into yet another natural disaster scenario – one that that she had no way to prepare for.

She and her family were camping with friends in the sand dunes not far from their home in Boise, Idaho. They’re fairly seasoned campers, and this was supposed to be just a quick weekend getaway, nothing extreme as far as adventure goes.

She was cruising along in their kayak with her young daughter Madeline and her friend while her husband was in another boat fishing with the others.

“I began to feel the air change and heard sirens from a nearby air base,” Celt recalled. “I saw picnickers scrambling on the shore and then I looked up. What I saw was something I can hardly detail with words. The largest, most sky covering, thunderous sounding wall of sand was charging towards us. It was picking up trees and boats, tossing around bikes and pieces of campers on the land.”

Natural disaster

Image source: Cynthia Celt

Later they learned the storm had overturned semi-trucks and vehicles along the highway. It was what is known as a Haboob, a desert sandstorm common on the Arabian peninsula.

Thankfully before it hit, they were able to make it to shore. Celt grabbed the two small children and slung the dry bag carrying all her diabetes “gear” over her arm.

When out on the water all of her diabetes supplies are always stashed together in a single dry bag. That makes it easy for her to “grab and go”.

“I ran for the hopeful safety of our SUV perched on a shore ridge,” she said. “We piled in and watched as it thundered toward us.”

After several hours they were able to drive to their camper, only to find it ravaged by the storm. The winds did not let up for three days, and they slept in their SUV overnight. However, this time they were a bit more prepared. Celt said, “We always keep an emergency/hidden stash of low supplies, food, and water in the vehicle when camping.”

This scenario was a stark reminder of how quickly disaster can hit. Celt’s words of advice: “It’s impossible to be prepared at all times when living with diabetes. But having your supplies organized, and easy to access and grab on the way out, is incredibly valuable.”

Natural disaster

Image source: Amber Clour

In a different kind of emergency earlier this year, when the pandemic was raging, I packed my bags and relocated to San Antonio, Texas. My casita was the perfect isolation get away, until disaster struck. An unexpected cold front lingered in areas of central Texas where the people and the infrastructure were not equipped to handle below zero temperatures and power outages.

I lost power for days, but fortunately had a gas stove and access to a wood burning fireplace. I also was able to connect with neighbors, and we pooled our resources.

I didn’t fear freezing to death, but I worried my insulin might freeze. However, in the haze of stress I was feeling, I reminded myself the refrigerator wouldn’t get colder than it already was – and the insulation would keep my insulin from freezing. It wasn’t rocket science, but it was clear that my decision fatigue was in full swing. In a situation like this, when freezing your insulin is of great concern, diaTribe’s scientific and medical advisor Dr. Francine Kaufman suggested that you take out a fresh bottle of the insulin you need (basal, prandial, or both) and keep it either in a pocket or a small pack next to your skin. This way you know that you’ll have insulin that won’t freeze.

Stress, both mental and physical, can make diabetes management a nightmare. Keeping my cell phone charged for my CGM data was crucial. Luckily, my Subaru had plenty of gas, so once a day I would sit in the car parked on the street just outside my casita, crank up the heat and charge my phone.

But just when I thought we could get back to normal, our area was notified the water was not safe to drink. I’ve never been in a situation like this and was thankful to have the gas stove to boil water when needed. Not an ideal situation, but I managed.

This entire situation made me think deeply about what’s important when faced with a natural disaster and what things I can realistically do to prepare in advance. Here’s my checklist:

  • HAVE THE EMERGENCY KIT READY TO GO way before an emergency, with a list of all the supplies already in it and what you need to add before you go – like your insulin
  • If you are going to shelter in place, prepare by stocking up on your diabetes supplies and things like non-perishable food, water, batteries, toilet paper, etc., when your budget allows.
  • STAY CALM. It’s okay to be scared and worried, but having your wits about you will make it easier to focus on the items you need to pack.
  • It’s okay to ask for help whether it be for emotional support or supplies. Don’t be embarrassed to contact friends, family, neighbors, local shelters, food pantries, churches, and patient assistance programs. You can also always go to an urgent care facility or hospital if needed. Don’t hesitate in these situations and do what is best for your health and safety.

After some trial and error, I developed a system that makes chaotic situations easier for me to manage. I try to ask myself in these situations, what will I need to survive for at least the next 30 days? Below is a checklist that helps me stay focused.

  1. First, I inventory my supplies so I know what I have and where it is located.
  2. Then I locate a waterproof tub or bag (purchased well in advance) that I can pack my supplies into.
  3. Finally, I start packing my supplies, including:
    • Insulin in a refrigerated case – this is the very last thing I throw in the tub when I am headed to an emergency shelter
    • Syringes for my medication
    • A copy of all my prescriptions
    • Blood glucose meter and plenty of test strips
    • Any CGM supplies I might need including sensors, applicators, and my phone
    • Insulin pump supplies
    • Low blood sugar snacks and glucose tablets
    • Other medications I might need (such as an inhaler, blood pressure pills, glucagon pen, etc.)
    • My driver’s license, passport, cash, and credit cards
    • My diabetes bracelet or disability jewelry
    • Emergency supplies like a flashlight

No one wants to prepare for a natural disaster, but if you take the time now to make sure you have everything you need, you won’t throw your diabetes under the bus when catastrophe strikes.

Below are a few helpful sites to make your natural disaster preparation easy:

And check out some other articles you might want to visit for tips and tricks:

About Amber

Amber Clour was born and raised in Norman, Oklahoma. Twenty-one days after her eighth birthday, she was rushed to Children’s Hospital where she spent two weeks learning how to live her new life with type 1 diabetes.

Since then, her life has been filled pursuing her passion for art, advocacy, non-profit ventures and travel. In 2015 she stepped down as Executive Director for a community artspace and gallery she founded to co-found DiabetesDailyGrind.com and the Real Life Diabetes Podcast. Amber’s – no filter – approach to sharing an honest look into her daily life resonates with many in the diabetes community. She hopes her story and those of podcast guests remind ALL people living diabetes – you are NOT alone.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How to Find a Good Mental Health Provider

If you live with any form of diabetes, you’re far more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. An estimated 40% of people with type 1 diabetes and 35% of people with type 2 diabetes experience significant levels of “diabetes distress,” which can result in negative mental health repercussions, including diabetes burnout.

A mental health provider can be a crucial part of your medical team. Dr. Mark Heyman, the Founder and Director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH), explains why:

Diabetes is a self-managed condition. This means that it is the person with diabetes, not their doctor, who is responsible for taking care of him or herself on a daily basis. Diabetes involves making frequent, sometimes life or death decisions under sometimes stressful and physically uncomfortable circumstances.

In addition, diabetes management is constant and can feel overwhelming. If you or someone close to you has diabetes, take a minute and think about all of the steps you take in your diabetes management every day. What to eat, how much insulin to take, when (or whether) to exercise, how to interpret a glucose reading, how many carbs to take to treat a low, the list goes on. Decisions, and resulting behaviors (and their consequences) are critical aspects of diabetes management. However, doing everything necessary to manage diabetes can become overwhelming – and feeling overwhelmed is usually no fun.

There are things you can do to help manage the mental distress of diabetes, including finding a good mental health provider that is especially positioned to help people with diabetes. This article will outline how to find the perfect fit!

Consider What You Want in a Mental Health Provider

Think of your mental health provider (or therapist) as someone you’re trying to develop a long-term relationship with. You want to be comfortable sharing all of your thoughts and feelings with this person, and be vulnerable with them as well.

Mental health providers become very close with their clients, so knowing what will make you uncomfortable is very important and crucial to knowing who you want to look for when searching for a provider. Some things you may want to keep in mind:

  • Gender (do you have a preference to work with only men or only women?)
  • Age (you may feel more comfortable working with someone much older or younger than you, or maybe you’d prefer someone closer to your age)
  • Religion (are you looking to connect spiritually with someone? Perhaps your religion is very important to you, or perhaps you’re looking to keep the interactions completely secular)

When you contact a provider’s office or complete an initial questionnaire for therapy, you’ll usually be asked some questions about basic preferences, such as those described above, to help match you with the best therapist.

You may also be able to research a mental health provider’s bio online to learn more about their areas of expertise before scheduling a visit.

Consider the Issues You Want to Address

There are many different types of mental health providers out there, and knowing that specific issues you want to address can help steer you in the right direction. Perhaps you’re suffering from substance abuse, or maybe you have developed anxiety around food. Maybe you and your spouse are struggling with your child’s new diabetes diagnosis, or you’ve noticed depressive symptoms that you want to tackle early. Different providers can help you manage different issues, so be cognizant of that. Some of the different types of specialists include:

  • LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
  • NCC – National Certified Counselor
  • LCDC – Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
  • LPC – Licensed Professional Counselor
  • LMHC – Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  • PsyD – Doctor of Psychology
  • Ph.D. – Doctor of Philosophy
  • MD – Doctor of Medicine

But no matter what a provider’s background credentials entail, what matters most is their area of expertise. Reading up on a provider’s background information and bio can help you familiarize yourself with the areas of mental health they deal with, and can help you decide if they would ultimately make the best fit for you and your needs.

Consider Asking for a Consultation

Consider this an interview for the mental health provider you’re considering “hiring.” Some practices will offer a free, 30-minute consultation, so that you can get to know the provider before deciding to come on as a client. Some important questions to ask if you’re able to, are:

  • Are you a licensed provider? (while every state varies, a licensed provider has passed the minimum competency standards for training within your state)
  • What’s your educational background?
  • What is your treatment orientation? (this refers to the school of thought that the therapist draws from in understanding and treating mental health issues)
  • What is your area of expertise? (and if they say “chronic disease” or “diabetes,” that would be excellent!)
  • Do you accept my insurance?
  • What is the cost per session?
  • Are you a prescribing physician? (some providers may be able to prescribe medication for things like obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression)
  • What is your communication style?
  • Do you prefer short or longer-term therapy? (some providers are very short-term goal-oriented, while others prefer developing a relationship over a long period of time)

These questions are not a complete list, but it’s a good start to finding the perfect fit for you and your care.

Seek out Diabetes Experts

It can be very difficult to find the right mental health provider for you and your needs, and that’s especially true when living with a chronic disease like diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently teamed up with the American Psychological Association (APA) and created a directory of mental health providers specifically equipped to meet the needs of people with diabetes. All providers in this directory are:

  • Currently licensed as a mental health provider
  • A professional member of the ADA (Associate, Medicine & Science, Health Care & Education)
  • Have demonstrated competence in treating the mental health needs of people with diabetes

Currently, the directory has about 60 providers, 40 of which provide pediatric services, and the list is rapidly growing. The tool is simple to use: enter your zip code and whether you’re looking for adult or pediatric services. The directory will then pull up diabetes-trained mental health providers near you. The directory also lets you access what types of insurance a chosen provider accepts, their office location, phone number, and more.

Finding an appropriate mental health provider can be a difficult but worthwhile challenge. Investing your time, money, and energy to improving your mental health as someone living with diabetes is absolutely worth it, and it is crucial that you find a mental health provider that is going to work best for you in getting your needs and goals met. Hopefully these tools will make it a little easier to get there!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Two Brothers Take Control of Their Type 2

Peter and Johnny are brothers and good friends of mine, we were lucky enough to meet through our sons. They both have type 2 diabetes, just like their dad did. Just recently, they promised each other to begin taking their health seriously – and the changes they’ve made have been inspiring. I want to share their story.

Peter was diagnosed with type 2 eight years ago, right before I was diagnosed with type 1. Over the years, Peter and I have spoken a lot about our diabetes, and it has been so nice to share information and experiences with someone who “gets it.” I remember one time, we were all at a dinner party, and my continuous glucose meter was reading 49 with an arrow down. Peter understood the severity when most wouldn’t have, and quickly ran to the waiter to get me a coke. It has been nice to have someone to talk blood sugars with, but it became bittersweet when Peter’s brother Johnny was dealt the same fate of a type 2 diagnosis.

I thought it would be great to hear from Peter about his journey and how he started to take it seriously and commit to his health. I also spoke to Johnny about his surprising diagnosis, and how he quickly took action and control of his type 2. These brothers helped motivate and encourage each other, and now both can reap the rewards of their efforts.

Peter, Allison and Johnny celebrate taking control of their diabetes and their health.

Thank you so much for taking the to speak with me today. I thought many of our readers would love to hear how you both have taken care of your health thanks to your type 2 diagnosis. Making lifestyle changes isn’t always easy, but it is well worth the journey. And what a bonus to have your brother right by your side!

It is my understanding that your father had type 2 and eventually became insulin-dependent. Did you understand a lot about the disease growing up? 

Peter: Yes, we were six kids growing up, and my brother Johnny and sister Roula would give my dad his insulin shots 2x a day. They did not come mixed back then, so we had to mix the two vials (N&R) together to give his shot.

Did your father take care of his health? 

Johnny: No, he was first diagnosed at 37 but never took care of his health or made any lifestyle changes until later in life. Unfortunately, because of this, he had a toe amputated because of low circulation. It also affected his vision. He had multiple surgeries for this, and it ultimately lead to heart disease and heart failure. We lost him on his birthday at 71.

Knowing your family history, did you pay close attention to your diet and exercise habits? 

Peter: No, I thought I was invincible and that this disease would not affect me.

At what age were you diagnosed with type 2, and what were the symptoms? 

Peter: I was diagnosed at the age of 37. I really did not have any symptoms, but I had gone for a regular checkup and my blood levels were off the charts, and my doctor sent me to a specialist. The specialist put me on medication, but I was not taking the pills as prescribed, as I felt fine and didn’t want to take any medicine. I was not testing my blood sugar at that time.

How did you manage at first, and what lifestyle changes have you made since? 

Peter: I was in total denial and really did not change anything about how I was eating or going through my day-to-day life. Once I turned 45 and understood the severity and saw how much my blood sugar was rising, I made significant lifestyle changes. I started eating healthier, more vegetables (finally eating greens!), switched my alcohol choices (low-carb beer and lower sugar drinks). I started going to the gym prior to Covid, and then turned to walking.

I understand that recently you started to monitor your blood sugar more frequently and even tried out the Freestyle Libre. What was your experience with the Libre? Did you like being able to monitor your blood sugar all the time?  

Peter: I didn’t believe it! When I saw the numbers I thought they were wrong. I did like the ability to see how what I ate affected my blood sugar immediately, but I was not ready for the Libre until I took control of my lifestyle and lost weight, the full journey to get to where I am now. I feel like it would be better for me now, as it is extremely easy.

controlling type 2 diabetes

Peter before his weight loss

Please tell us about your brother, Johnny, and his surprising diagnosis. 

Peter: My brother happened to come over to my house when I was taking my blood sugar prior to my making healthier lifestyle changes and choices. My numbers were in the mid 200’s, and I thought my glucose meter was broken. My brother said, “Take mine so we can see how it’s working.” His numbers came over double mine at 468 [mg/dL]. We definitely thought the machine was broken until my sister-in-law took her blood sugar (with no history of diabetes in her family). She was at 90. At that point, we knew the numbers were correct, and we both knew that this was the defining moment of the rest of our lives.

What was your initial reaction to this pretty shocking news?  

Johnny: I was in total disbelief – I felt like I was going to die and really took a long, hard look at the life that I wanted and made a lot of decisions on how I needed to make some dramatic life changes.

Had you had any symptoms? 

Johnny: I felt completely fine, however, my wife always said that when I didn’t eat I would be very HANGRY. Snickers commercials had nothing on me, and truthfully when my numbers get too low now, I feel exactly the same. It is something I need to continue to control, to level out my sugar levels.

What were some of the first things you did to better get control of your health and your blood sugars?  

Johnny: I immediately stopped eating all processed carbs. No bread, rice, pasta, beer, sugar, desserts, and milk. I replaced these items with Ezekiel bread, zucchini linguini, almond milk, sugar-free coffee sweetener, and condiments (sugar-free ketchup and BBQ sauce).

Johnny before and after choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

I know you have both come a long way since you found out you had type 2 diabetes. Can you each tell us a little about your successes? 

Johnny: I was 238 lbs before my diagnosis. By changing my eating habits, exercising every day, walking 2 miles, and working out, I now weigh 194 lbs. I’ve lost two pant sizes and feel like a new person, one that will be around for my family for a long time. And my wife says I’m super sexy now.

Peter: I was 232 lbs when I was first diagnosed, and with all of the changes in my everyday lifestyle, I now weigh 186. I feel like a million dollars and realize I should have made these changes years ago. Life is too short. Make the changes now.

You both should be very proud of yourselves for turning this diagnosis into a stepping stone towards a healthier life. What would be your advice to a newly diagnosed person?  

Peter: Control it now, before it gets out of control.

Johnny: Take it seriously as this life is precious and life is worth living without complications – it only gets worse as you get older. The best part, I feel like I’m 18 again!

Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. I am truly impressed with how you both taken on this disease. I know your story will inspire many of our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Diabetes Self-Care: How I Got Into and Out of a Bad Habit

By Julie Hyland

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in July 2013 at the age of 37. I lost a lot of weight, mostly muscle. Looking back at pics, I looked so sickly but I had so much going on at that time I didn’t notice. I was moving to another state, my father passed away and my son was also moving to a different state, all within a two-month period.

After getting diagnosed, I had a very strong mindset that I wasn’t going to let this disease control me, and I was going to show the world I could do even more now with type 1 than I could do before. I have always worked out and watched what I ate, so I was ready to kick diabetes butt. Well, I gained my muscle and weight back and kept that mindset for about 5 years.

Left: Right after I got diagnosed when I lost all my muscle | Right: After I worked to get my muscle back

Then, I let it get to me. The feeling like I suck when my sugars were high. The fear when my sugars went low. The fear of going to bed and dropping low. The constant stressing and worrying about what to eat, what to drink and what to dose. The anger when I would attempt to work out and drop low. The feeling of being stupid because you can’t figure out this disease. So I stopped working out, and I started eating whatever I felt like. But most of all, I drank.

I have always loved alcohol. It was my best friend. It got me through sad times, happy times, stressed times, anxiety, fear. It was my life. It was there for me…so I thought. I began to drink so much, I now know it was a way of numbing my hatred for this disease. The same disease I said I wouldn’t let affect me. If I was drunk or drinking, I was able to ignore a million thoughts of this disease. This disease I got like winning a bad luck lottery.

Because I was always drinking, I stopped noticing how I looked. I mean, I noticed my clothes not fitting and how I looked in the mirror. But because I would just numb myself more, I was able to overlook it. All it took was one video I saw of me getting out of the pool. I couldn’t believe how I looked. I also started doing yoga at that time and I was in my house thank God, but in one of the positions, I had to lift my stomach up in order to do it…what the h*ll?! Never in my life had I experienced anything like this.

How I looked in May 2020

That day was May 18, 2020. I decided that day I was done drinking and punishing myself for something I had no control over. I quit drinking. I started walking. I got a treadmill and a weight rack, bench and weights. I started working out and eating better.

Because I wasn’t drunk and hungover all the time, I felt great and it began to change how I looked at everything. The scale doesn’t show a huge amount of weight loss, but I’ve lost so far 7 inches off of my stomach. I have gone from a size 12 jeans to a size 6. I have started running and I love it. I dabbled in running about 15 years ago but never could run for long distances and always felt like death. When I started in July 2020 I couldn’t run for even 15 seconds. I can now run 3 miles and not feel like death. I will be running my first 5k at the end of May, which is also my one-year of sobriety month. I am nowhere near where I want to be but I’m so happy and proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. After my 5k, I want to do a 10k and then a half-marathon and so on.

April 2021

If I have any advice about this disease it’s “don’t be so hard on yourself”.

I also wish there would be more information out there about adults getting type 1 and more people talking about it. When I first got diagnosed there was barely any information about adults getting diagnosed. I started a YouTube channel in hopes to help other adults and it’s also a good way for me to get all my worries, stresses and journey out to everyone. I stopped making videos when I was in my funk, but I’ve started back up now. Documenting my sobriety and my running journey and how it all affects my blood sugar. If you are interested and want to follow me along in my progress. You can subscribe on YouTube at imtype.01.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

#WeSwipedRight: How I Met My Husband on Tinder

By Carlie Widner

I’ve never been one to ask for help. I didn’t want to be on a dating app. I felt like using a dating app was “asking for help” so I put it off for a long time. I was more of a “traditional dater” and “non-traditional” dating just didn’t feel right. My best friend convinced me to try it out. She seemed to be having fun finding matches on Tinder, going on dates, and meeting new single guys, even if they weren’t husband material.

So I joined Tinder in 2014 after going through several toxic relationships over the years. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try and meet someone in a little more non-traditional way since the traditional way wasn’t quite working out in my favor. I let my guard down and realized that if nothing comes out of it, at least I’ll get a free dinner or two. After downloading the app, I hesitantly made a profile and decided to check out some of the single men in my area. “He’s cute…” Swiped right. “No, not him…” Swiped left. “Ehh, gross…” Swiped left. “Oooh, hottie!” Swiped right. I continued to swipe right and swipe left for a while.

Photo credit: Carlie Widner

Then, “You have been matched” came across as a notification. I checked who I matched with. There’s a picture of this guy holding up a barbell over his head. The first thing I thought was “Hey, he does Crossfit like I do. I like him already!” His name is Dustin. He’s a year younger than me, but that’s okay. We matched, so that’s a first step in the right direction.

The magic didn’t quite happen right away for us. We talked through the Tinder app for about a month before I felt comfortable giving him my phone number. I needed to make sure this guy was legit before I could trust him. I wasn’t looking for a hookup. I was looking for my husband. He was persistent. He didn’t give up. I liked that about him. He didn’t seem like someone who just wanted to hook up. Dustin and I went on our first date to a small burger joint in town and immediately hit it off.

Just prior to joining Tinder, my life had taken a turn. I was a travel NICU nurse living my dream, working in San Diego. I had wanted to do this since I became a nurse in 2006. Finally, my dreams were coming true for me, or so I thought. During this time, my body decided to attack itself, mainly my pancreas, and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. That’s when I decided to pack my stuff up and move back home, ending my “dream” of working as a travel NICU nurse.

Photo credit: Carlie Widner

Living with type 1 diabetes is not easy. I was nervous to tell Dustin but I needed him to know that my life was not as “normal” as for most. Type 1 diabetes was so new to me and I was still in the process of learning how to live with this disease. To my surprise, Dustin showed up. We would be out on a date eating dinner and he would pull out his phone to help me count carbohydrates. He learned how to change my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor. He learned how to give glucagon if I ever had a low blood sugar emergency. He would bake low-carb snacks with me just so I could have a snack and have better blood sugar control. He was there for me.

Photo credit: Carlie Widner

After my diagnosis, I joined a Facebook group for athletes with type 1 diabetes and in 2016, Dustin and I went to an event put on by the type 1 diabetes community in Austin, Texas called Bolus and Barbells where we got to meet so many of our “online friends”. We had a blast! We lifted weights, counted carbs together, injected insulin together, drank alcohol together, and had an amazing time with all our new friends.

Many of our friends were joking with Dustin about when he would propose. It’s then that I knew…Tinder was my matchmaker. I had found my husband. At the end of 2016, Dustin proposed on the mountain in his grandparent’s yard. Of course, I said yes! On August 5, 2017, we got married in the mountains at a golf course, with a double rainbow to end the night. We used the hashtag #weswipedright at our wedding. Here we are in 2021 and we now have 2 beautiful baby boys.

Photo credit: Carlie Widner

I was very skeptical of whether or not trying to find my husband on a dating app would work. They say skepticism is good because it means you’re curious. And curiosity can bring good change in your world. Well, I’m glad I was skeptical of Tinder because that curiosity brought me to my husband. Now I’m really living my dream of being a wife and a mom.

I really wasn’t sure how dating would go while living with type 1 diabetes. I was so nervous and so anxious to tell him but once I did, he showed me nothing but support. It really takes a special person to be able to deal with the highs and lows of diabetes, but thanks to Tinder I found someone who was the perfect match and he handled me having diabetes so smoothly and never once gave me a hard time if I had to cancel plans because I wasn’t feeling well. So instead of going out, we would stay in and enjoy each other’s company.

Photo credit: Carlie Widner

At first, when people would ask how we met, I would laugh and would say “Tinder, we swiped right,” shrugging and feeling kind of silly for using a dating app to find my husband. But after a while, I became more comfortable with it. I tell people that it’s not easy, you weed through the ones you don’t like, or hit it off with someone, and you have to put in the work, but when you do, it can be magical. I’ve learned that it’s okay to let down your guard and ask for help. Even if it means using a dating app! I’m so thankful #weswipedright.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Diabetes & Smoking: What You Need to Know

Most of us know that smoking is horrible for one’s health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, yet over 34 million Americans still smoke tobacco cigarettes nearly every day.

Unsurprisingly, smoking is even worse for your health if you live with diabetes. This article will outline the reasons why smoking is so bad for people with diabetes and what you can do to stop smoking.

Smoking Is Bad for Everyone

Smoking is the leading cause of lung diseases, including COPD, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also contributes to the growth and development of many types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas, liver, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, and acute myeloid leukemia. On average, life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers.

The American people have known for a long time that smoking causes cancer. Nearly 60 years ago, in 1964, the then U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry issued a definitive report linking smoking cigarettes with lung cancer for the first time. Smoking is even worse for people living with chronic diseases, especially diabetes.

Why Is Smoking Especially Bad for People With Diabetes?

People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to have serious health problems and complications, including heart and kidney disease, poor blood flow to the extremities, increased risk of infections, higher incidence of foot ulcers, increased rates of lower limb amputation, and retinopathy, which increases the likelihood of blindness than people with diabetes who do not smoke.

Why is this so?

People with diabetes are constantly working to manage their blood sugars and prevent complications brought on by the disease that include damage to the nerves, eyes, kidneys, and heart. The tobacco in cigarettes exacerbates these issues and accelerates the rate of decline in a person already suffering from a chronic disease.

There are over 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes, 70 of which are directly linked to the development of cancer, aging, and oxidative stress. For example, some of the chemicals found in cigarettes include toilet cleaner, candle wax, insecticide, arsenic, nicotine, lighter fluid, and carbon monoxide, just to name a few. These addicting, dangerous chemicals cause harm to your body’s cells, interfering with their normal function.

In a person with diabetes, the harm caused by a cigarette’s chemicals and nicotine causes chronic inflammation, resulting in insulin resistance and higher blood sugars, and thus makes it harder to manage one’s diabetes.

All of these issues compound to make diabetes management harder, and complications more likely. For people with diabetes, the health risks of smoking a cigarette is four times greater than for someone without diabetes.

Even more striking, a 2014 study revealed that smokers are 30-40% also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, making the relationship between cigarette smoking and diabetes a vicious cycle.

quit smoking

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Reduce Your Risk and Improve Your Health by Quitting Smoking

The best thing to do if you have diabetes and smoke is to quit immediately, and it’s never too late to quit! Quitting smoking before age 40 results in lifespans as long as people who have never smoked, and one’s lungs start to immediately heal the day they stop smoking.

Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of death (associated with continued smoking) by 90%, and quitting before age 30 avoids more than 97% of the risk of death associated with continued smoking into adulthood. The sooner, the better, but there never is a bad time to quit smoking.

Studies have shown that people who have diabetes start to respond to insulin better and their insulin resistance drops within 8 weeks of quitting smoking. 

Quitting smoking may be one of the hardest tasks you ever undertake, but the benefits are worth it: a longer, healthier life, better blood sugars, lower HbA1c levels, and fewer diabetes complications.

How to Stop Smoking

There are many resources available to people who want to quit smoking, including:

If you have diabetes and you’re a smoker, take heart: there is never a bad time to quit smoking, and quitting smoking won’t only improve your overall health, your diabetes management will likely become easier as well.

Quit smoking not only for yourself but for the health of your family as well. Lean on your loved ones for support, and work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that will work for you, minimize withdrawal symptoms, and make the transition to a smoke-free life easier.

Whatever it takes, give yourself grace: a new study reveals that smokers try to quit 30 times before they succeed, and living with the stress of diabetes can make those attempts even more challenging, but definitely more worthwhile for you and your health.

Have you quit smoking or tried to quit smoking in the past? What has worked best for you? Share your story in the comments below.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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