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Diabetically Speaking

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October 2010

Never Give Up

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post, and acknowledge the loss of one of our own this week.

13 year old Eilish was taken from us by Type 1 diabetes. Her parents were active members of the Children With Diabetes community, and nurtured her since she was three years old living with diabetes. Eilish, like so many of us with diabetes, was compliant, and had good control. Yet, as we all know, diabetes doesn’t always play by the rules. From what has been shared, our understanding is that Eilish was taken from us by DIB syndrome, likely due to a severe low blood sugar level during the night while she slept.

I didn’t know Eilish. I have never met her parents, or her sister Ella. It’s likely I will never know them. Yet, every one of us in and surrounding the DOC, regardless of what type diabetes we have or if we even have diabetes at all, are feeling this loss. There has been no shortage of bloggers sharing similar sentiments today (list alphabetized by blogger, because I’m a librarian, and that’s how I roll)…

Amy (@DiabetesMine) – Diabetes: The Possibilities
Cara (@cerichards21) – Just Because…
Kelly (@diabetesalic) – Crying For Them
Kerri (@sixuntilme) – Dealing with the Fear of Diabetes
Lisa (@pyxiestik) – Tempting the Fates
Michael (@MHoskins2179) – It Could Be Any Of Us
Sarah (@Sugabetic) – Heavy Hearts
Sherry (@jennaspetmonkey) – Before Another Child Is Lost

Holly (@Arnold_and_Me) over at Arnold and Me reminded me today via a Tweet that there is a time for everything. It’s good, healthy, and necessary for us to take time to mourn Eilish, remember her, and show compassion for her family. There is a time for us to be angry, which is also why I have delayed writing this post. I wanted to spit out so much venom at diabetes that this post would not have been suitable for print had I wrote it earlier.

The New Living Translation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reads:

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Depending on where you are right now, you may identify more with some parts of that passage than others. Being a person who strives to be optimistic, I find myself trying to move toward better things, and emotions that I am more comfortable with. Despite where you place your faith and beliefs, I believe that Eilish is in a better place now. A place where she doesn’t have to be burdened by finger pricking, getting tangled up in insulin pump tubing, or any of the other anchors of diabetes, and she can now experience a dawn phenomenon like no other we can imagine.

So through this tragedy, I see hope. I see people in the DOC who are more aware of the risks of diabetes than they were yesterday. I see people who want to learn more about the research that goes into developing better treatments and one day a cure for diabetes. I am humbled by friends who have found a way to give back to the diabetes community through fundraising, charity walks, and galas. I’m excited to see everyone even more fueled now to get the word out and increase awareness on World Diabetes Day on November 14. I am encouraged to see my friends who are leaning on each other, helping each other to laugh and find joy, not letting each other get bogged down in tragedy.

That is the spirit of the DOC, and the spirit of everyone who lives with and has been touched by this disease. We may get bruised, but together we can’t be beaten. That is why I know that one day we will find a cure, because we are like the frog in the crane’s mouth…we never give up.

Never Give Up

New Rule: 10-10-10

101010 - photo by Woodley Wonderworks on Flickr

10-10-10: 10 THINGS for you to take 10 MINUTES to share with 10 PEOPLE about your diabetes.

#1
That you have diabetes.
If you aren’t comfortable sharing it with a group, share it with just one person at a time. A friend, coworker, or roommate is a great start. You may need them one day, and awareness is in both of your best interests should that need arise.

#2
What type diabetes you have.
Each different type of diabetes requires a different set of rules and things to be aware of. An easy talking point is to share what type diabetes you have, and how it compares to others. It’s also always fun to baffle people with your expert knowledge that yes, you can indeed get “juvenile diabetes” (Type 1) as an adult. Mind blowing! Because it takes so much of our attention to manage our own diabetes, check the ADA web site if you need help educating yourself on the various types of diabetes.

#3
Your story.
Every one of us has a collection of diabetes stories. People can most identify with what you went through when you were diagnosed. Some of us, like me, were far too young to remember, but maybe your parents or loved ones passed these stories down to you. If not, share how your life has changed pre- and post-diagnosis. I have found that most people are very impressed by how much us diabetics know about our bodies. Toot your own horn!

#4
How you manage your diabetes.
Some of us use an insulin pump, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), multiple daily injections (MDI), and hopefully all of us with diet and exercise. Share the tools and tricks of the diabetes management trade that work for you. You don’t have to go into the nitty gritty details, but sharing that you know what you’re talking about and how to manage your diabetes goes a long way into the comfort levels of all involved in being able to talk about it openly. I like to show off my insulin pump and BG meter when I am sharing, and curiosity usually gets the cats to talking. This is also when I like to point out that I can eat the same foods as everyone else, as long as I know my BG and count carbs. This goes a long way in warding off the Diabetes Police.

#5
The difference between a low and high blood sugar for YOU.
Although this can dance on the edge of being clinical, it’s something that most non-diabetics don’t know. Try to put into words what it feels like when you have a high or low BG. For example, when I am high, it feels like my blood has turned to molasses, and doing anything is like trying to do it while submerged in Jell-O. Most people can appreciate that description, unless they’ve never had Jell-O. And if that is the case, you get to make a new friend tomorrow by bringing them a Jell-O cup. I suggest Sugar Free Lime or Strawberry Banana.

#6
Symptoms of a low blood sugar.
As scary as a low BG can be, this is quite possibly the hardest part of the “I have diabetes…” conversation, because it is 100% serious REAL LIFE when it happens. Describe a low blood sugar in your own words, and include those symptoms that are most common to you and your diabetes. We’re not all the same. If, like me, you’re prone to nonsensical motor mouth as a symptom of a low BG, share that. Then, if you’re talking too much and annoying your friend, at least they have an out by suggesting that you go check you’re blood sugar so you’ll shut up. Winner, winner.

#7
How to treat a low blood sugar.
Share the important details, such as where you keep your glucose or Glucagon hidden, and that insulin does NOT make your blood sugar go up. I don’t know why so many people think that insulin makes blood sugar go up, but they do. Educate them. Let people know what works best for you to treat a low BG. If juice is your go to low BG fix-it-all, then tell them that, and where they can find it. Your life may depend on it, and it will reduce panic if you need an extra bit of help.

#8
Your medic alert identification.
Point out where it is, whether it is a bracelet, necklace, wallet card, or other form of medic alert. I have had diabetes nearly my entire life, and am as guilty as anyone of not wearing my medic alert ID like I should. So, dig it out of your underwear drawer (or jewelry box, if you’re a girl) and put the thing on. If you don’t have one, go buy one. No excuses. I’ll even guilt you into it: Don’t put the people around you in the position of having to answer a paramedic’s medical questions about you in the event of an emergency. Emergency personnel are trained to look for medical alert ID’s, so get after it.

#9
What you can do despite diabetes.
I think it is so important to let people know that diabetes is NOT a death sentence. It is so very far from a life ending condition, and as long as we manage it successfully, we can do anything that anyone else can. Thanks to modern technology and medicine, we can play sports, have a family, and even be a celebrity. We are only limited by our own imagination. Diabetes only holds us back as much as we allow it to, which coincidentally means that us people with diabetes (PWDs) are notoriously stubborn. I think that’s a side effect we can live with.

#10
Where they can learn more about diabetes.
As much as we know about our own diabetes, none of us knows everything about diabetes. Some great places to refer others to learn more about diabetes are the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Diabetes Association, and the Joslin Diabetes Center.

No D-Day: Hit the Ground Running

Today, October 7, 2010 is “No D-Day”. The Diabetes Online Community is taking one single day away from diabetes. We will still be checking our BG’s, counting our carbs, dosing our insulin, and managing our diabetes, but we will not tweet about diabetes, we will not blog about diabetes, and we will not update Facebook about diabetes…for just one day. There is so much more to all of us than just diabetes. You can find all of the “No D-Day” posts on Twitter by searching for the the hashtag #noDday, or you can visit Ninjabetic.com for a list with links. I hope you enjoy this and all of the “No D-Day” posts today, and perhaps one day we can make every day a…

No D Day

Running and I are not friends. Running is hurtful, vindictive, and immature, and even tries to make me jealous by playing so well with others. Running is a complete bully towards me. It hurts my left ankle that I cracked when I was a kid. It hurts my knees, which get sore from time to time, especially when I’m really training hard for cycling. Being honest, it really hurts all of my leg muscles. But last Friday, something changed with mine and running’s long term tepid relationship.

As I was spending all of my energy on chores last Friday, taking clothes to the laundromat, sweeping floors, washing dishes, putting clean (and warm!) sheets on my bed, I got the notion to stop working so hard and go do something I enjoy: Exercise.

The Fall season is just arriving here in north Florida, the humidity levels are down, and the temperatures are dropping (not to my liking, I might add!), so it was a good evening to get outside of the house. I dawned my workout clothes, grabbed the iPod, and went a couple blocks away to Lake Ella, which has a nice paved sidewalk all the way around it that totals 6/10 of a mile per lap.

Lake Ella at Dusk

I started out with an easy walk. Although I’m an avid cyclist, I haven’t deliberately gone for a run in years, so I didn’t want to just take off running right out of the gate and injure myself. That might result in me not being able to go on a bike ride, and that simply cannot happen. I need my bike rides. Got to have priorities in this world people, even when it comes to exercise.

So I started walking. The cool thing about Lake Ella is that there are always a lot of people there to ogle. That makes walking around and around the lake a lot less monotonous. Pretty soon I got good and warmed up, iPod playing in my ears, and I started to become aware of people passing me.

Now, perhaps I was a race horse in a former life, but the competitive nature in me was starting to get antsy. I’m a cyclist. I can pedal 33 miles in less than two hours on the St. Marks Trail. I’ve completed the Five Boro Bike Tour in New York City. I’ve done the MS150 from Miami to Key Largo and back three times. Surely I can pick it up enough to keep up with everyone else, right?

Wrong.

For the record, running is not cycling. It uses a completely different set of muscles, many of which I’ve learned that I’ve been neglecting for too long. Now, I’m no Calvin Klein underwear model or a perfect 10 on the “OMG he’s dead sexy!” meter (I’m a humble 9.5), but some of the folks that were passing me as I was jogging like a pirate with two peg legs looked to be much heavier and not in near as good of shape as I am in. This ties back to the start of this post, about how running makes me jealous by playing so well with others. How do they do it, keep up the pace, and make it look so easy?

I still don’t have an answer to that multifaceted question. But I do know that I had a fantastic time dragging my limping carcass around Lake Ella for 5K last Friday evening. So much so that I did it again on Monday. And I vow to continue to push through the pain of running, and find that common ground where running and I can coexist without arguing so much, and hopefully one day the two of us will inspire enough jealousy in others for them to want to push through the pain too.

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