Friday, December 26, 2014

Baring My Soul

Over this past month I have had four instances where people (diabetic and non-diabetic) have made comments to the tune of: "It's not that hard.", "I'd make a good diabetic, I already eat like one should.", "It's easy for me.".  Although these comments weren't meant to be hurtful or degrading, or even aimed specifically at me, I took them as if they were.

For the first time in nearly a year I find myself wanting to crawl under the covers and cry myself to sleep and never come out.

Is it really easy for other diabetics?  Am I just a terrible failure? 

Of course I know it's not easy for most diabetics.  It never has been for me, and I have spoken with countless other diabetics who struggle just as much as I do. 

For me personally, I struggle because diabetes requires certain qualities that I just wasn't born with, nor have I ever been able to cultivate them within myself.  Self-discipline, will power, a militaristic mentality.

I was born as what you might call a free spirit, a rebel... everything a diabetic shouldn't be.

Diabetes comes with a lot of "rules", and demands routine, ritual, sacrifice, restraint.  All of these things go against my core.  You give me rules, you demand things of me, and my first and most powerful instinct is to resist, to fight.  You tell me no, you tell me I must stay away from something, I just become more determined to have it. You give me things I must do, and a schedule to do them on...I will die of monotony, it will drive me insane and make me feel trapped like a wild animal.

My thinking is that those diabetics that say it isn't that difficult, that they find it pretty easy to stay "controlled", they are the people born and raised with the qualities needed to succeed at diabetes care.
And those of us who struggle everyday, we are the ones born lacking those qualities.

I have spent everyday fighting.  Fighting the system, fighting diabetes, and most of all, fighting myself. 

I am the most self-destructive person I know.

I have tried, am still trying, to change my core, to alter my own psychology.  I have tried to build self-discipline, will power.  I have tried to live to the rules and schedule a diabetic should follow.

It is exhausting to live against your nature.  It wears you down, it makes you feel alien. 

I just feel....wrong.

I must do it, though.  If I don't I will die.  I'm already half-dead.

Honestly, I have spent a lot of time thinking about death.  I have considered my options:

1. Change who I am and live healthy and to old age.
2. Continue being myself and die slowly, one piece at a time, and in a ton of pain.
3. End my existence...

It's not difficult to follow the "rules" of diabetes.  What's difficult is the constant battle against yourself.  Fighting the temptation, fighting the urges, the constant self restraint, self sacrifice, the constant feelings of failure...

I'm tired.  I'm exhausted. I want to be me!

It's times like this that I realize how very much I hate myself.  Why can't I do things right?  Why was I born so unequipped for this disease?  Why must I always choose to do what's worst for me?

Why can't I take my bullheadedness and rebellious nature and use them to be a good diabetic?  Why must I always have the urge to hurt myself instead of help myself?

It's like having a weapon and either choosing to fight the enemy or kill yourself.

"Oh, oh, oh!  I choose 'kill yourself!'"   How dumb is that?

I'm already committing suicide.  I've been doing it since my diagnosis.  A very, very slow suicide.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Psycho Love

I love psychology.  I study it through every means possible.  I've taken classes through the local community college as well as studying through online sources, books, discussing with others who are more educated on the subject than myself, through observing people, etc..  I am just fascinated by the human mind, behavior, and how emotion plays such a huge role in our behavior and thought processes.

Think about it.  When you met the love of your life (or someone you thought might become the love of your life) what made you think they were special?  As time went on what confirmed this...or changed your mind?  How did your own emotions lead your thoughts and actions?  Anger, frustration, heartache, made you think again about how strong your relationship was?  Love, happiness, emotional fulfillment, made you think the relationship was strong?  A roller-coaster of emotions kept you changing your mind over and over? 

It's not so black and white, is it?  Because emotion isn't everything, there are so many factors in why a relationship makes it or fails.

I met my husband for the first time over the phone.  But let me tell you about when we met face to face for the first time...because face to face meetings have so much more impact on whether a relationship takes off or not. We met at a park in Fresno.  I had chosen a public meeting place because safety had been so instilled in me.  I arrived first and waited for him.  He was late and I was considering leaving, thinking I had been stood up.  But then there he was.  I watched him approaching me.  I remember thinking he looked both nerdy and handsome.  He was wearing a white button shirt and tie (I don't remember what color or design the tie was), and black slacks and shoes.  His glasses were thick and a little outdated in style.  He had a pen in his shirt pocket and was wearing a beeper on his belt.

He introduced himself and I was reminded of why I had agreed to meet him.  He spoke well and had a voice and personality that just turned me on and relaxed me. He then apologized for being late and explained that he had been at work and couldn't leave until business was taken care of.

We spent some time talking and getting to know each other.  I liked him more and more and felt a connection that I, even today, could not put into words.  It was emotional, it was psychological, and it was physical.  I had never felt this with anyone before and when I looked into his eyes I just wanted to hold him close forever.

What was it that attracted me to him?  His voice and the way he spoke with confidence.  His clean cut and professional dress.  They way he spoke of his family and how important they were to him. The way he looked me in the eye and really listened to me and made me the center of his attention.

But any of these things could be done by anyone.  Why was it he who made me swoon?  Why was it he who I felt such a powerful connection with?  Why was it he who I felt I needed to be with forever?  Timing?  Maybe I was just in a place where I needed all the things he was offering at the moment.  Maybe the moon was in the right position and our cosmic whatnots where aligned just right for the connection.  Maybe some voodoo princess was poking our dolls just right.  Who knows?

Our first official date was a trip to his house in Selma.  He introduced me to his mom and brother and I remember feeling even closer to him and also feeling special because he valued me enough to want his family to meet me and me to meet them.  I felt included in his life.  We watched The Wedding Singer and cuddled on his couch.  On the trip back to my place we talked about the future in general and he told me he thought I was someone he could marry.  It wasn't a proposal by any means, but it did tell me that he felt the same about me as I did about him.  From that moment on we were set in stone.

What made him so special?  He was just an average guy by all means.  What made him stand out to me?  He noticed me, really noticed me.  He paid attention to me and let me know he cared and thought I was special to him.  He included me in his already busy life. He needed someone and chose me to be that someone.

What made me decide our relationship could go somewhere?  That connection.  That indescribable feeling, knowledge that could not be put into words even if I tried for a million years to find the language. And, of course, that physical change I felt deep in my core every time I saw him or heard his voice...or thought about him.

To the outside world, our partnership seemed different.  Everyone seemed to be warning us that things were moving too fast.  They wanted us to step back and breathe and take our time.  They wanted us to make sure we were right for each other, make sure it would work.  They seemed to be seeing something totally different from what we were seeing and feeling.  They had yet to find out what we already knew.

By no means was our relationship free of struggle.  We came from two very different worlds.  He was Mexican-American and I was an all-American white girl.  He was Catholic and I was Protestant.  He was small town raised, I was city raised. He was outgoing, I was introverted. Even in our new found sugar-coated stage of love, we had disagreements.  We hurt each other fairly easily.  Why?  Because that is how life works.  We were connected but still individuals with our own minds, hearts, and desires.  No, absolutely no, relationship is without conflict.

The thing I think we struggled with the most was communication.  I was young and new to romantic relationships.  In my immature mind a man in love should just magically know what his woman wants and needs.  Is that too much to ask? Really?  *sarcasm*. He didn't think it important to share EVERYTHING with me. We had no idea how to talk or not talk, convey needs and desires, or respect privacy.  It took a lot of time (years) to work the communication conundrum out. 

The making up part was fun, though. 

It didn't take long for us to decide to become engaged.  Remember, we had sealed our fate on our first real date. Ha! I'm a poet and didn't know it! ( <-- Scarlet Pimpernel reference). It was about six months after we met that he officially proposed.  It was Valentine's Day, 1999.  He had a ring and got down on one knee, the whole nine yards of tradition.  It was romantic and special.  Obviously I said yes.

We both loved having picnics at the park or on our living room floor.  We loved watching movies together.  We loved staying in bed and talking, messing around (non-sex), messing around (sex), and just relaxing together.  We loved each other.

We told each other "I love you" all the time.  We hugged and kissed a lot.  He opened doors for me.  We held hands when walking together or sitting next to each other.  He bought me things, food, roses, stuffed animals, jewelry, etc.. I knew he loved me even though there were times I felt he didn't show it.  There were plenty of times that I felt neglected, unwanted, unloved.  But even though I felt this way, I knew it wasn't his fault (at least not completely) but the fact that I needed to remember that we are two different people...and two different genders. It is not his job, even as my soul mate, to make me the center of his universe. He needs his own time, just as I need mine.

He always took care of me.  He's always been there for me.  I've had a lot of health issues and he's never left my side and always did what needed to be done to help me get better.  I've always tried to encourage him to realize his potential.  He struggles with deep feelings of failure, inferiority, and worthlessness.  These feelings are totally unfounded and just hold him back.  I know he is so much more than he thinks he is and I have never stopped trying to get him to see what I see in him.

Our relationship has grown and become stronger and stronger because no matter what we've been through, we always learn from it, we always lean on each other and hold each other up.  And when we look back over the years one thing stands out above everything else: Through the darkest days we were always side by side, we were always there for each other, we were never alone, never abandoned, never left to fend for ourselves...we had each other.

Before I met Lee, I had been in a couple other relationships but they lacked depth, maturity, love, and any connection.  Before I met Lee, I felt alone, invisible, unimportant. After I met Lee my life improved tenfold. The world didn't get better, finances didn't improve, hardships didn't disappear.  But now I had someone to strengthen me and help me through it all, and offer a shoulder to cry on.  And I returned the favor.  That's what it's all about.

I feel our connection the most when we are alone together.  Simply hugging.  I feel his familiar chest, hear his familiar heartbeat, and body heat, and breathing. I smell his familiar scent.  It brings me to tears of joy and love.  To know I have someone who chooses me over all others, who loves me with a love that can not die.  And I love him just the same.  Nothing can top what we have.

I think the only way to describe the psychology of this is a snowball effect.  Whatever kicked it into action, it just grew as it rolled along and now it's too big to stop.  I'm OK with that, I like this thing we have and I wouldn't try to dissect it, diagnose it, or label it in any way.

Friday, December 19, 2014

In April of this year (2014) I joined a social media site called  This site was started with the intention of bringing together diabetics of all types and those people close to diabetics who are impacted by the disease as well.

I joined the site because I have spent my entire life at odds with my disease and the constant struggle, hatred, stress, and rebellion had taken it's toll and left me beaten, broken, and on the verge of death.  I knew I needed help, support, and understanding in order to improve my life, psychology, emotional state, outlook, and physical health.  I needed people who understood my struggle, who could relate and give me hope and advice.  People who could help me stand and be strong.

It was the best thing I could ever have done for myself to join TuDiabetes. is a program of Diabetes Hands Foundation and was founded by Manny Hernandez (a diabetic) and his wife, Andreina, in 2007.  The site offers many options to help diabetics improve themselves, find information, friendship, understanding, and so much more.

When you join you will first create your own profile where you can offer any information you are comfortable sharing such as what type of diabetes you have (or your family member if you are not the one with diabetes), what you are looking for on the site, such as information, people to relate to your struggle, etc., what tools you use to manage your diabetes, and any other information you want to offer.

Your profile page is customizable just like many other social media sites offer.  And the site offers many ways to interact with other diabetics and those close to diabetics.  You can post blogs about your experiences relating to diabetes.  You can join in on discussions about so very many diabetes topics such as pumps, injections, highs and lows, complications of diabetes, coping emotionally, and anything else you might want to discuss.

The site offers special events such as live interviews with doctors, organizations, advocates, etc.,

There are groups available on the site you can join where only specific topics are discussed.  Groups can be about anything diabetes related such as those suffering with neuropathy, or women with diabetes, or those following Dr. Bernstein's teachings, or diabetics with retinopathy, or diabetes and pregnancy, and so, so many more groups.

You can post photos and share videos on the site.  You can make so many awesome friends who are just like you and fully understand what it is like to be a diabetic or live closely with a diabetic.  This is an amazing thing, a very special thing, to have so many others who are going through just the same things as you and are so willing to help, share their knowledge, and just be so very supportive.

Right away I was greeted by many members who welcomed me and offered understanding, support, and friendship.  And over the months that understanding, support, and friendship has not waivered, in fact, it has grown.  I have joined in on many discussions and learned so much.  My health and emotional outlook have both improved immensely because of the tips, support, encouragement, and education I have been given.

At about the same time that I joined TuDiabetes, I had decided to write on my blog about my life with diabetes.  Because of the encouragement and support from my friends on Tudiabetes, my blog has grown and improved and I have been able to share my knowledge, experience, encouragement, and reach out to other diabetics who are struggling and just need to be able to find others to relate to and find knowledge and support in.

If you are a diabetic or close to a diabetic, then you will find understanding, support, and knowledge at TuDiabetes.  This site will make your life so much better.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Am Not Normal

A bit of a rant...the following is my own personal opinion.

My entire life I have been told by friends, family, and even doctors that I can "live a normal life".  That is a very loose term if you look at it from the point of view of a diabetic.  What the hell do you mean by a "normal" life?

I don't see "normal" people having to check their blood sugar a minimum of four times a day.  I don't see "normal" people having to take six shots a day.  I don't see "normal" people having to severely restrict their diet in order to avoid high blood sugar, serious complications, and death. I don't see "normal" people suffering severe lows or highs and the frightening effects they bring with them.

So, no, a diabetic can not live a normal life.

If you're talking about normal as in I can grow up to be whatever I want...that's not even true...a diabetic can not grow up to be a non-diabetic.  That was my dream, "when I grow up I want to not have diabetes anymore".  I also wanted to join the army/navy/air force/marines but they wouldn't take me because I was diabetic.  Not even for a desk job.

If I had only been told the truth as a child....

When I was younger I struggled with feelings of being different, of being not normal.  So of course the adults around me comforted me by saying I could still grow up and live a perfectly normal life as long as I took my shots and checked my blood sugar and kept it in line.  I could eat like a normal person as long as I bolused properly.

I don't know ANY diabetic that this works for!  Taking huge amounts of insulin in order to be able to eat "normally" is just killing us all.  We can't eat like "normal" people, we must live by a different diet.

If I had been told the truth instead of having my future made to seem less "not normal".  I think I would have had an easier time of it.  Instead I became an adult and the harsh reality of never being "normal" hit me like a ton of bricks and sent me into a deep spiral of depression and anger.  And any hope of me actually trying to take proper care of myself flew out the window and it took nearly dieing of heart failure at 34 years old to send me crashing into the realization that I need to change my life and stop trying to be something I can never be.


It is true that a diabetic can be happy, fulfilled, and live a long, healthy life.  But I wish doctors, other diabetics, organizations, etc., would stop sugar-coating it.  We are bombarded with the idea that we can just go about our lives as if nothing is different for us.  So many diabetics I know (including myself until recently) are so dead set on being "normal" and especially with being able to eat "normally" that we are just pushing ourselves into an early grave preceded by years of diabetic complications. It doesn't help that there is so much misinformation out there about what is "healthy" for a diabetic; but I won't go into that highly controversial end of this subject.

If you truly want to be a healthy diabetic and avoid complications of diabetes then you need to face the fact that you need to be on top of your diet, medication, glucose monitoring, and all other aspects of care, ALL THE TIME. No breaks, no vacations.

Face the fact that we shouldn't eat like "normal" people.  Our bodies are different, our condition requires us to live differently.  This doesn't make us less human.  Diabetes is not easy to control and the fact that we are not normal people means it is not logical to insist on living like "normal" people.  We can be healthy and happy just like anyone, but we have to face the fact that we must do certain things differently.  This doesn't diminish us or our lives or happiness, we just need to do things with more thought and care (and work) than other people.

So there is no living like a "normal" person.  Normal for us is diabetic.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What Goes Up...

I've been raving about how good things have been going for me lately.  After many years of nothing but bad things happening, I finally had hit a good patch and everything was coming up roses.  Well, of course as soon as I let my guard down and give in to the goodness and let myself feel good and happy, it all comes crashing down around me. 

After nearly eight years of not being able to see an endocrinologist, and over a year of actually trying and fighting to see an endocrinologist, I finally got an appointment. I was so happy, relieved, and excited to see this doctor after so long without care.  I had a month long blood sugar profile ready to hand over, I was eager to request a CGM, I was eager to talk to someone who knew my condition and could help me to better care for my diabetes.  I was ready.

I went to the doctor's office this morning, I signed in and sat to wait for my appointment.  After 45 minutes of waiting, the desk person called me up.  I thought she was just going to ask about my new address or something; nope, she informed me that the endocrinologist doesn't accept my insurance...

This particular office isn't his, he only comes here once a month to help out.  If I want to see him and have my insurance accepted, I have to travel to his private office, in Hanford!  That's like a half hour drive from me and in a direction I rarely go.  I don't have a valid driver license (diabetic retinopathy), I rely on rides from others.  I'm screwed.

So, I didn't get to see the endocrinologist.  I need to search for another in my area and get my primary to send in a referral...and wait god knows how much longer.  I'm sobbing as I type this.  I'm so fed up with insurance and rules and everything working against us diabetics!  Why can't we get help even from those who are supposed to be here to help us?!

As if that wasn't enough to ruin my day, I headed over to the pharmacy to refill my test strips and lancets.  What do you think I ran into when I got there?  My primary, who gave me the prescription for test strips, put on the order to test once...ONCE... a day.  So the pharmacy refused to fill my request because "It's too early".  I test no less than four times a day!  I need my strips...NOW!

So I have to call my doctor's office on Monday and have him correct the order so I can actually do what I need to to stay healthy.

This all makes me want to give up and head on over to the Italian restaurant down the street and fill up on bread, pasta, and calzone!

Of course I may not do that, because no matter how insurance, doctor's, and prescription regulations work, I can still, for the most part, take care of myself!  I just need to cool off, gather my self control, and not give up!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Funny Little Thing.

Whatever, you normal people keeping your insulin in your pancreas. I keep mine in the butter compartment!  I am so awesome that I don't need to make my own insulin!  I can be alive, healthy, and outdo any of you so called "healthy" people any day.  Psh, who needs a working pancreas; not me!

I'm so strong that I can have a disease and still live a normal life.  I'm ALL that!  I was taking my own shots and pricking my own fingers at nine years old.  Nothing hurts me!  Nothing can bring me down.  I am invincible.  I bleed on purpose at least four times a day, and I don't flinch one bit.

I'm so smart that I often know more about diabetes than nurses and doctors! 

I can school you on foods and nutrition!

What? You broke a bone?  Let me tell you how it feels to have heart failure, neuropathy, eye surgery without a nerve block...

So you complain that you had to get a flu shot...I take six shots...EVERY DAY.

I'm so brave, I go everyday playing a roulette game with my blood sugar.  Will it go too low? Will it go too high? Can I keep it normal?  Will I wake up in the morning or will I be in a diabetic coma?  Who knows!

I'm so badass I live off of vegetables!  I'm so awesome I shun junk food and it doesn't phase me.  I'm not one of you pansies who's addicted to carbs.  "Oh, my, I would just die if I couldn't have my doughnut every morning.".  "I just can't imagine never having mashed potatoes ever again."  Ha!  It's so easy for me!

I'm the greatest superhero!  I fight death and destruction everyday!  There is a war going on inside my body and it's up to me and only me to fight it.  If I slack just one tiny bit, the evil bad guy, Diabetes, will get the upper hand and could kill or maim me in the blink of an eye.

I am tireless, I am enduring, I am steadfast.  I have to be because diabetes is chronic, diabetes is forever, diabetes is destructive.  And if I give up, it will be the end of me.

Don't ever think that I am sick.  Don't ever think that I am weak.  Don't ever tell me not to take some time to cry out the frustration and exhaustion from fighting this never ending battle.  Don't ever think I am playing it up.  For every struggle you do know about, there are a million more that I don't show.

I am strong!  I am forever fighting.  I am brave!  I am diabetic.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Nothing Compares to You

It came to my attention a few weeks ago that my retina specialist has left the group I'm a patient of. None of his patients are pleased with this. You see, he is the top rated retina specialist in this area for a reason. He's absolutely brilliant, compassionate, gentle, and personable. All of his patients are in an uproar and trying to figure out what happened and where he is.

Well, today I had an eye appointment. This was to be my first visit with my new retina specialist. I was a bit depressed because I kept thinking about how sad I was to lose such a great doctor.  I was also hoping my new doctor would be a good one; I need a good retina specialist with all my issues.

After waiting an hour and fifteen minutes past my appointment time (which told me they were overbooked) I finally got to meet my doctor. She is kind, seems knowledgeable, and gentle. She mentioned that she was supposed to be on maternity leave but came back to cover the doctor who left (which tells me he left quite suddenly).

As for my exam, nothing has changed much. She did a quick exam which made me a bit upset.  My old doctor, even when running behind and overbooked, always took the time required for a thorough exam.  He never cut corners for the sake of time (or at least he was good about not seeming to). This new doctor, despite rushing, found (or at least confirmed from what she read in my file) all the same issues my old doctor had been dealing with me on. She says I still have some micro hemorrhages in my left eye and will need some more laser treatment in a few months. As for my right eye, the worse one, she says the oil will stay in permanently or else my retina will detach again. Also, I need surgery to remove scar tissue from my lens which will improve my vision.

Not happy about having the oil in my eye permanently, my old doctor said a year...maybe more. This means I'll never be able to see adequately again.

I see her again in April. And I see my cataract surgeon in January to set up surgery to remove the scar tissue from my lens.

All in all, I'm OK with the new doctor, but no one can ever live up to the great Dr. Hunter!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Control Thy Self!

As is probably very common with married couples, my husband and I had two Thanksgivings this year and every other year since we've been married.  This year I vowed to stick to my healthy eating habits even though it was a holiday with many goodies to enjoy. 

I grew up with zero self control which made being a type I diabetic all the more fun.  Because of my rebellious nature and total lack of self control, I spent the first 20-some-odd years of my diabetic life with very high blood sugars.  So high so often that I eventually didn't feel the symptoms of highs anymore.  The way I felt was normal to me, even though it was so very unhealthy and slowly destroying my eyes, heart, arteries, nerves, stomach, joints, and entire body.

This year, though, I have been working on my self control and have been doing so well lately that I wasn't about to let the holidays knock me off the healthy wagon.  So on Thanksgiving we went to my side of the family.  spent the day visiting, catching up on what everyone's been up to. Laughing, praising those who have been doing so well with their health (I'm not the only one who has been working hard).

The house was coated with hors d'oeuvres, treats, wassail, and the smell of all those yummy traditional foods.  I did awesome resisting the many temptations.  I ate only two hors d'oeuvres , and when meal time came around I ate only a small amount of ham, some turkey, and some salad.  I was so proud of my self control.

The day progressed and everyone started digging in to the desserts.  I was so tempted.  Maybe just a small piece of peanut butter yum-yum...NO!  Be good!  Maybe just a small piece of peach pie...NO! NO! NO!  I had a plan and I was sticking to it, damn it!

It came time to head home and hubby wanted to fix up a plate of leftovers.  I told him to take what he wanted but I wasn't going to take anything for me.

I sat there, my will power exhausted.  My eyes met with the dessert counter and I lost it.  I packed up a plate of pie and peanut butter yum-yums and we headed home.

What do you think I did as soon as I got home?  I ate everything on that damned plate.  It was heaven.  I hated every ounce of myself.

Of course I bolused for my indiscretions.  I went to bed feeling like a huge screw-up.

My sleep was restless and broken because of the outrageously high blood sugar.  I dreamed of men dressed in food costumes.  They were dressed as their favorite foods: Tacos, lasagna, pizza, etc.. and they were a men's only club who's purpose was to roam the city and fight crime and help citizens.

I woke up the next morning thirsty as all hell and stiff and wobbly and sore like dehydration.  I checked my blood and it was through the roof.  I couldn't help but feel like I had  ruined all my hard work in the space of one plate of desserts.  I calculated the proper dose of insulin to bring me down to normal and then I fasted until dinner time.  I drank water like it was air and I peed more than I had peed in a very long time. I was so drained of all energy and even ended up taking a nap in the afternoon.

That evening was round two of Thanksgiving, this time with my hubby's family.  We headed over, and I had a similar plan as my first failed plan.  Eat healthy, but this time I was going to allow myself a small dessert and bolus properly for it.

We visited and had a very good evening.  I ate good for dinner, meat and salad just as the day before.  Dessert came and I had pie. 

Then I failed again.  We took a plate of dessert home, it was less than the day before, but my lack of self control took over and I ate all of my portion in one sitting as soon as I got home.  Of course I had  bolused for it. I went to bed hating myself more than ever.

I learned a lesson I have learned many times before.  I lack self control and if food I like is accessible, I'll eat it, and I'll probably do it all in one sitting.  This is why I do not allow any unhealthy food in my house.  If it's not here I don't eat it, I don't even think about it, crave it, desire it.  But if it's here, I can do nothing else but think about it and want it and eat it until it's gone.

Today I woke up high, I took the proper dose of insulin to normalize me.  I am picking up where I left off before Thanksgiving and I will continue to live healthy.  I hope I can remember this experience at Christmas and not repeat my despicable behavior. 

I know it's not failure per se.  It's just a hick-up, but I was so determined to not disrupt my healthy and successful lifestyle even for one holiday.  I am disappointed in myself, but I will learn from this and work harder to develop and strengthen my self control.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Call me quirky, call me weird.  What ever you want.  I have a habit of being in tune with my body.  I suppose being diabetic and having a mother who was a nurse groomed me to be aware of what was going on inside and out of myself.  I have a deep interest in medicine, biology, physiology, psychology, etc..  I have not taken formal classes on much of these things, but I have done tons of my own research.  The average human being has a number of ailments and oddities about their bodies and minds; most of them are unaware of their "issues" or simply ignore them. I find mine fascinating and study them, and in many cases embrace them. I am no hypochondriac, I am not paranoid or afraid of illness.  I simply like to know myself and learn...and laugh at my weirdness.

One such weirdness is my sensitivity to noise.  I can't stand noise at all.  I yearn for silence, I seek it out.  Noise makes me anxious, stresses me out, annoys me, makes me tense.  If I can't have silence I eventually become irritable, angry, or burst into frustrated tears.  It takes awhile to get to the breaking point, but I get there.

I'm not just talking about loud noise like machines, loud music or T.V.'s, shouting, barking, etc..  No, I'm talking about any sound. It all bothers me, it always has.  I've learned to tolerate normal everyday noise...but even that eventually gets to me.

It's not so bad that I can't function normally in society.  But it does bother me daily. It gets worse when I am already stressed.  And it is more tolerable when I am not stressed. I can spend a normal day with normal noise, but by the end I just want to be in total silence.  The noise wears on me like nails on a chalkboard and if I can't gain some silence to recuperate, I feel like I am going to be crushed under some invisible weight and rip my hair out from the noise I can't escape.

I avoid using household machines like vacuums (another reason I hate carpet), blenders, etc. Because the loud noise brings on such instant anxiety.  I leave the room when the T.V. is on and I am not interested in what is showing.  When I'm alone and want to watch a movie, I have the sound fairly low and put on the subtitles.  I'd rather read a book than watch T.V., it's quieter. I sleep with a fan on to drown out the other noises that wake me and keep me up at night.  The "white" noise from the fan is soothing, but if I knew there were no other noises, I wouldn't want the fan noise either.

 As for music, I love music, many kinds, but I am very picky about it and I don't usually play it loud.  My favorite form of music is baroque and classical.  Mozart is my composer of choice, his music is interesting, thoughtful, relaxing, smooth.  I found it interesting to find out that Mozart also was very sensitive to noise and became anxious at certain sounds.  I suppose that is one reason his music is so soothing and agreeable to the ear.

When I was younger I avoided parties or going to crowded places.  These things always include too much sound.  Music, talking, laughing, shouting, and other noise.  When I became older I discovered that if I drank enough booze, I didn't care about the noise and even greatly contributed to it.  But this of course is a bad habit and ended as soon as my health decided to let me know I was killing myself.

Living with roommates was a challenge when it came to noise.  I loved my roommates and was happy to have ended up with 'mates that ranged from fairly quiet to just as silence-loving as myself.  Toward the end of our 'mating situation the noise was starting to grate on me.  We ended up moving into our own place just before I cracked under the noise pressure.  Just may have saved someones life there...and kept me out of prison.

At this very moment it is just my husband, me, and our cat.  I'm home alone all day and boy do I relish the silence!  It is pure heaven!  No T.V. on, no talking, no noisy machines.  Just me and quiet.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My, How Things Have Changed

Change comes quickly sometimes, like this past month. I have experienced many significant changes and the vast majority of them have been for the better.  It feels strange because for so many years most of the changes in my life have been a spiral downward or at the very least, a shift to the side.

I started by beginning to follow Dr. Bernstein's teachings on blood sugar normalization.  I gave up virtually all carbs and increased my protein intake.  As a result my blood sugars have begun to normalize and my insulin needs have plummeted.  I also have lost nearly 20 lbs in less than a month!  I feel awesome.  I haven't known what healthy feels like since I was eight years old, it is amazing how "sick" I've felt all these years and didn't even know it. I still need more work on my food to insulin ratio in order to tighten my control, but I'm getting there.

This new lifestyle is also saving us some money.  We no longer spend money on carb packed foods but instead smaller amounts of protein packed foods, and veggies.  We eat much less, so we spend much less.  Also, I have to pay full price for insulin, so the fact that I now take a fraction of what I used to makes the insulin last much longer.  I spend more on test strips though, which are expensive, but still a bit of money is saved in the long run.

I also made big changes in my living arrangements this month.  For several years now my husband and I have been living with roommates.  It has been a good experience since our 'mates have been good friends and for the most part quiet, clean, helpful, and reliable.  This month, however, our key 'mate had to move out so we took the opportunity to find a new home we could afford on our own and be just the two of us again.  We've been married fifteen years and have only lived alone for five of those years.  It is time to be alone again.  So we found a nice place and moved there.  It's on the high end of what we can afford so we have to make some sacrifices like Netflix, World of Warcraft, and cable T.V.. But in the end it is so very worth it.

The move to being alone has helped our health as well.  With no one else in the house contributing to unhealthy food in the kitchen, temptation is nowhere in the house.  No one to suggest pizza or fast food.  No one buying candy or ice cream.  No one fixing up high carb meals.  It's heaven, it's how I've always needed and wanted it.  It makes life so much easier. 

My cat is very happy with the move as well. She is a cat that does not get along with other animals or most other people besides me and my husband. She has always spent her time living in my bedroom and rarely coming out to explore or eat.  Now that it's just the three of us, she has blossomed.  She runs around the house carefree and playful, cuddles on the couch with us, and is obviously very content and happy.  It makes my heart swell.

I have been unemployed for most of this past year, well, I was employed but spent most of the year on medical leave and so ended up leaving my job.  Now that my medical issues are on the mend and I do not foresee any more surgeries until August, I think it is time to go back to work.  I was offered my old job back whenever I got better, but I don't want it.  So I applied to a store that is just two blocks down the street from my home.  I can't drive due to vision issues, so being walking distance from work is a good thing.  If I get this job it will help our financial comfort, and tide us over until I can land a good full-time job elsewhere.

So, everything seems to be falling into place after so many years of suffering.  We've suffered life-threatening health issues, unemployment, terrible financial troubles, transportation troubles, you name it.  Now, through hard work and a bit of good luck, we are on the right track and things are looking great!  Now to just keep up the good work.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life Lessons Learned From Being Diseased

First, don't give me any flack about the title.  I know many diabetics refuse to be labeled as "diseased".  I personally don't care how I am labeled; diseased, conditioned, chronic-ed,  mellitused, special, unique, insulin challenged, defective... just don't call me disabled (and don't frickin' pronounce it "diabetus"). I am perfectly able of doing anything any non-diabetic can do, except produce my own insulin. I simply chose this title because I thought it would spike some interest. 

This title also helps me to bring up the first lesson I want to discuss that I've learned from a lifetime of being diabetic.  I have learned that just because I am a part of a minority group doesn't mean all those who share the group with me think the same about our condition.  Not just in how we are labeled, or the fact that many of us don't care about labels or prefer not to be labeled; but on many other topics as well.  Even down to treatments.  This, I believe lies in the fact that although we are all diabetics, we all need slightly different treatments.  Every diabetic is the same in the fact that they are diabetic, but we are each unique in how our diabetes affects us and how our lives affect it.

In or out.  I spent my childhood hiding my diabetes.  I hated when someone found out I was diabetic.  I was ashamed of it, resented it, hated it.  I hated even more how people changed when they found out I was diabetic.  Suddenly I was treated either like I was so fragile, scary, or had the plague. As I grew older things changed.  I became stronger, more bold, and cared much less about what people thought.  If they couldn't accept me the diabetic, then I didn't need them in my life.  Also, diabetes (at least type 2) became more prevalent and the disease more widely known and understood (even if much of the "understanding" has been misinformation) so people stopped being afraid of me or treating me like a china doll when they found out I am diabetic.

It's all on me.  I was raised in a family of type I's so it was never a secret that if you want to be healthy and control your diabetes, you have to do it yourself.  Your doctors can guide you and help you to know where you stand, your family and friends can support you.  But all the work is on you.  Every choice is yours and yours alone.  Every action or inaction is yours to make.  This knowledge helped to make me a very independent individual.  If something needs to be done, then I'll do it myself.  I have a very hard time relying on others.  This lesson also has a down side; I am very hard on myself and I tend to take every mistake or failure as cause to think myself profoundly inferior.

Everything comes with consequences. There are good consequences and bad.  For a diabetic it's mostly black and white which makes things a lot easier, even though they are NEVER easy.  Eat too much or the wrong things, be sick with a high later.  Forget to take your insulin or take the wrong dose or type, suffer for it later.  Choose to not check your blood sugar as often as you should, end up out of control and having to work a million times harder to get under control.  This lesson has not only helped me with diabetes but has made me much more thoughtful with every decision in life.

Life isn't fair.  Well, duh, being diagnosed with an incurable and devastating disease at a tender age, how fair is that?!  Things don't always go as planned, better yet, things rarely go as planned.  You must be ready and willing to accept that fact and be flexible.  I'm still learning to "go with the flow".

No matter what, happiness is in your hands. I have suffered a lot in my life, most people have.  If you can't see the good behind the darkness, then you are only going to end up suffering more than necessary.  The harder you work for what you want and need, the greater the reward.  Yes, sometimes your hard work wont pay off and that is devastating.  But the point is to never give up and to never let it break your heart. Take a moment to cry and let the frustration out, then get back up and get back to work!

Sacrifice and self control.  I spent my childhood giving in to temptation. If I was told "no", that only made me more determined to have it. I felt the symptoms of high blood sugar so often that I eventually became accustomed to them and stopped being able to feel them.  In my mid twenties I began to develop serious complications of diabetes due to my chronically high blood sugars.  By time I was 34 I had triple bypass heart surgery and four surgeries on my right eye the following year for retinopathy.  I have a lot of other complications of diabetes as well.  So you can see, this lesson of self control and sacrificing desires is a lesson that took me a very long time to get through my thick skull.

There are many other lessons I have learned through being diabetic, but these are the most important ones I could think of.  I would love to hear some life lessons others have learned from their diseases, chronic illnesses, conditions, etc.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Something's Not Right Here

As is the norm for diabetics, I had a doctor appointment this morning.  This appointment was to go over my most recent lab results.

I was pleased to see that my weight matched that of my home scale.  So I now have confirmation that I truly have lost 9 pounds in just one week.  Also, my blood pressure is very good, 121/77.

Once the doctor came in he had to walk right out again and track down my labs since they had not yet been entered into the system.

Finally he went over them with me.  Everything is wonderful except one glaring number.  My kidneys, liver, vitamins and minerals, etc... everything is wonderful.  I was very relieved to hear my kidneys are quite healthy because a year ago they showed some damage.

So, the one glaring number.  Yeah, that's the most important number of all and it's the only bad one.  My A1c a year ago was 9.8.  Now, after a year of working hard at it; eating healthy, exercising as much as I can considering my health issues, checking my blood regularly and adjusting food and meds accordingly.  All this hard work and my A1c is still 9.8!


The best I can guess is that I went from chronically high BG's to such a roller-coaster that it made no real difference?

I'm not too upset about it now, though, because I have been following Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution for over a week now and it has already made a significant improvement in my BGs and overall health.  I'm sticking with it and when I check my A1c again in 3 or four months it will be so much lower!

And then I walked home...

The walk was much easier than previous walks.  I experienced much less pain, was able to walk faster, and only had to stop twice to rest my screaming, neuropathic legs.  Another positive thing about this walk that tells me my health is improving is that I was able to move my hips and walk properly.  I haven't been able to walk properly in so long because of the painful neuropathy in my legs and feet that made me have to walk funny and slow and in turn caused my hips to somewhat "lock up".

I walked 2.5 miles in one hour and didn't want to cry at all!

I am getting healthier, I see it, I feel it, and I'm not going to stop working at it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution

I am starting this post on October 26, 2014.  My intention is to list here each status update I post on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, TuDiabetes, and/or Tumblr that has anything to do with the book I am currently reading/studying, Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution, 4th Edition.

Dr. Bernstein's book promises to teach diabetics how to properly regulate blood-sugar and live a much healthier, longer life.  I have decided to list my status updates and comments here as a way of keeping my thoughts/notes in order and keep me motivated to keep reading, studying, and working on my health.  If I don't have a way to keep myself in check, then no matter how good something is for me, I'll get bored with it and give up.  So, here we go!

By no means is this post meant to give away Dr. Bernstein's teachings.  What I have written here is a very basic overview of the book.  Dr. Bernstein's book is full of much more information and teachings, and much more detailed than what you will read here.  I have posted here only things I found especially interesting about each chapter.  All chapters contain much more than what I have listed.

I highly recommend all diabetics and their close loved ones purchase and read Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution.  

Although I have carefully read the entire book once through (so far, I plan to study and use it for many years to come), I may have some mistakes here...I am only human after all. 

1. Just read the My Life With Diabetes section of Dr. Bernstein's book. He's type I diabetic and this chapter of this book is about his history. He suffered from all the same complications I have and managed to find a way to regulate his blood-sugar so well that all his complications went away. I can hardly wait to read on and learn how to do what he has done! In this chapter he also talks about the history of glucose monitors and how doctors used to think patients wouldn't and couldn't monitor their own blood-sugar, and how they didn't think blood-sugar regulation was all that important. Also they used to put diabetics on low fat/ high carb diets!!! My how things have changed, I'm glad I live today and not in the dark ages (pre 1980). So far a fascinating read and I am hopeful it will help me greatly.

2.  One thing I've always encountered with all the doctors I've ever had: endocrinologists, primary care... they never acknowledge or seem to understand that diabetes causes chronic fatigue. "Oh, when your BG is low, a symptom is tiredness", "well when you are real high it can make you tired". Yes, this is true; but they don't seem to get that we're tired ALL the time, CHRONIC fatigue. It blows me away that they don't understand this problem, almost all the diabetics I know and have read "life with diabetes" stories on, mention the issue of chronic fatigue, and not just when high or low, but ALL the time. Reading testimonials in Dr. Bernstein's book is no different. Almost every single testimonial included chronic fatigue. And every single one mentioned that his program remedied the issue. I'm liking this book, even if half the testimonials also mentioned that his program is strict and takes a lot of determination. I'm Ready!

3.  Just read another chapter of Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution.  This chapter lays out in detail what diabetes is and how it works (or doesn't) in Type I and Type II diabetics.  He also explains how the pancreas and insulin work in a non-diabetic for obvious reasons.  Then he goes on to explain how eating an average meal mixed with protein and carbs works for a normal person, a type II, and a type I.  Very fascinating and frightening.  Here's a quote from this chapter:  "This is the central problem for type I diabetics - the carbohydrate and the drastic surge it causes in blood sugar. Because I know my body produces essentially no insulin, I have a shot of insulin before every meal. But I no longer eat meals with fast-acting or large amounts of carbohydrate, because the blood sugar swings they caused were what brought about my long-term complications. Even injection by means of an insulin pump cannot automatically fine-tune the level of glucose in my blood the way a nondiabetic's body does naturally."

4.  Chapter two of Dr. Bernstein's book covers all the tests a good diabetic doctor should run on every diabetic. He teaches what these tests are for and why they are important. At the end of the chapter he adds a little note that vitamin C is not so good for diabetics. Here's what he has to say about it. "Dietary vitamin C is important to good health. in doses above 500 mg/day, however, vitamin C supplements can destroy the enzymes on blood sugar test strips and can also raise blood sugars. Finally, in levels higher than about 400 mg/day, vitamin C becomes an oxidant rather than an antioxidant and can cause neuropathies. If you are already taking supplemental vitamin C, I urge you to taper it off or lower your dose to no more than 250 mg daily. Use only the timed-release form."

5.  Chapter three of Dr. Bernstein's book covers all the supplies every diabetic should have and why.  He also lists with them the average cost and whether or not they require a prescription.  For some he even lists where you can get them (if not readily available at local stores, etc.).  Most of the stuff I have always known about and use, but some items are new to me.  Like Frio, "This very clever product, a reusable wallet-style cooler activated by immersion in water, will keep insulin cool when you are traveling in hot climates.". Another thing he covers in this chapter is dehydration.  I have become very prone to dehydration in the past eight years or so and I thought it might be caused by my diabetes.  In this chapter he does not cover diabetes causing dehydration but he does have something to say about it. "Dehydrating illnesses, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, are potentially fatal for diabetics. If you become dehydrated, salt substitutes can help you replace lost electrolytes. Look for potassium chloride on the list of ingredients. These should be available at the supermarket or grocery store.".

6.  Dr. Bernstein covers in chapter four of his book how and when to measure blood sugar.  This is a short chapter and virtually all of the information is stuff I already know quite well.  One thing he does mention that is something that contradicts what I was taught and retaught by many doctors is that he recommends NOT using alcohol to disinfect and clean your finger before pricking. "...this will dry out the skin and can eventually foster the formation of calluses. Neither I nor any of my patients have developed finger infections by not using alcohol, and I surely hold the world record for the number of self-inflicted finger sticks."  He simply recommends washing your hands before pricking.

7.  Dr. Bernstein discusses in chapter 5 how to create your own blood-sugar profile.  It is important to record all blood-sugar readings, food eaten (carb count, etc.), exercise and activities that raise or lower BG, and medications that raise or lower BG. This way you can see everything laid out and be able to learn what has an effect on your BG and how to correct it one way or the other and better regulate your blood-sugar. He also talks a little about other things that can mess with blood-sugar levels such as emotions, infection, illness, etc.

8.  Chapter 6 of Dr. Bernstein's book covers peculiar things that can affect blood-sugar. He covers a number of different things such as gastroperesis, stress, insulin resistance, etc..  The one that I found most interesting is The Chinese Restaurant Effect.  Basically this is the explanation for why a diabetics blood-sugar surges even when they haven't eaten something that has value..."why has my blood-sugar gone so high?  All I ate was celery!"  The reason isn't what you ate, but how much of it you ate.  When we fill our bellies, the body releases a hormone, glucagon, that raises blood-sugar. This is why it is important that diabetics not eat large meals...of anything! "The first lesson here is: Don't stuff yourself.  The second lesson is: There's no such thing as a freebie. Any solid food that you eat can raise your blood sugar."

9.  Chapter seven of Dr. Bernstein's book explains the laws of small numbers.  The best way to keep blood-sugars under control is to keep carbs and medications down to small amounts.  "Big inputs make big mistakes; small inputs make small mistakes.".  He goes on to explain that you can't trust the ADA's diet recommendations nor can you trust what you read on food labels.  The food packages are permitted a margin of error of 20%.  This can make for a huge increase or decrease in blood-sugar for a diabetic who is judging their medication dosage based on the carbs listed on food packages.  On top of that terror, is the fact that not all injected insulin gets used by the body, only part of it escapes the body's immune response.  How much gets used is based on dosage, body weight, and current blood-sugar level. Bernstein also discusses how "fast acting" insulins aren't fast enough to match how fast carbs raise blood-sugar. He then goes on to discuss when it is best to take your medications.

10.  Chapter eight of Dr. Bernstein's book gives an overview of his treatment program.  First he lists the four types of programs he has.  He has four different programs because there are many types of diabetics. He then lists and explains why he sets a blood-sugar goal of 83 mg/dl.  Yes, he wants your blood-sugar to stay at 83 ALL the time and stresses that it is possible. "The ADA recommendation for "tight control" of blood sugars, from its website, is as follows: 'Ideally, this means levels between 90 and 130 mg/dl before meals and less than 180 two hours after starting a meal, with a glycated hemoglobin level less than 7 percent.' The recommendations go on to state that tight control (what I advocate) 'isn't for everyone,' which I believe is nonsense. But the ADA's tight control as defined above isn't very tight at all. I would call it 'out of control'."

He finishes off the chapter with a list of goals for treatment which include such things as normalizing blood sugar, normalizing all the standard lab tests, reaching ideal weight, full or partial reversal of diabetic complications, relief of chronic fatigue, and other things...

11.  Chapter nine of Dr. Bernstein's book covers the basic three food groups, protein, fat, and carbohydrate.  He says at the beginning of the chapter that if you are diabetic, be ready to learn that everything you've been told about a healthy diet is wrong.  I found this to be half true for me. He starts with protein, explaining what it is and why it is so very important for everyone, especially diabetics. Proteins are made of amino acids which are essential for life.  It used to be believed that for diabetics, a diet rich in protein was the cause of kidney disease.  Nope, the cause of diabetic kidney disease is high blood sugar AND the large amounts of insulin taken to try to bring it down. Next he talks about fat.  Many people believe that eating fat makes you fat.  Nope, "The fallacy that eating fat will make you fat is about as scientifically logical as saying that eating tomatoes will turn you red.". Also, the belief that eating fat will cause bad cholesterol is wrong.  Both weight gain and bad cholesterol come, in part, from high carb diets. He explains how this works but for the sake of not taking up to much room here, you'll just have to read the book yourself! He then goes on to explain how insulin and fat are connected.  The more carbs you eat, the more insulin (fat building hormone) you require, and the more your body will turn some of that sugar (carb) into fat and store it (weight gain). He moves on to explain what carbs are and how they work and why they are so bad for everyone but especially for diabetics. Lastly he discusses alcohol and what types are actually OK for diabetics to consume and when and how much are OK.

12.  Dr. Bernstein discusses in chapter ten, foods that are acceptable in a healthy diabetic diet, and foods that are not. Obviously, carbohydrates are highly restricted and many foods high in carbs are out of the question. One thing I found very interesting is that artificial sweeteners often contain added sugar and will affect blood sugar as if you were using real sugar. He says to avoid powdered forms of artificial sweeteners and to use only liquid or tablet forms. Usually "diet foods" and "sugar-free" foods are high in carbs, so don't eat them! Whole fat milk has less sugar than low fat milk. Cheeses are acceptable except for cottage cheese. Absolutely no fruits of any kind! He then lists many foods that are good to eat, and I am happy with the list. Lastly he goes over vitamin and mineral supplements. He states that when following a healthy diet like the one's he teaches in his book, there really is no need for supplements except for vitamin D-3 and in some cases a couple of other supplements are needed if the individual person has a special need. 

13.  Started following what I've learned from Dr. Bernstein so far. Doing good, not feeling deprived or hungry at all. Only craving carbs a little which I find surprising since I'm so addicted to the carb lifestyle. But the high protein stave's the carb cravings, I think.

14.  Chapter eleven of Dr. Bernstein's book goes over how to create a meal plan. First he points out the obvious, changing your eating habits should be accompanied by a change in medication dosages as well.  He then talks about the amounts of carbs and protein you should eat per meal and gives examples. He throws in a discussion about timing your meals for blood sugar regulation and makes sure you know that the amounts of carbs and protein should remain consistent each day. He gives discussion and examples of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

15.  Chapter twelve of Dr. Bernstein's book covers weight loss.  This chapter is mostly for type II diabetics who are also obese, but can be helpful for type I's as well. He discusses why and how one becomes obese and then moves on to give helpful advice on how to safely and permanently lose weight.  Of course he talks about how detrimental being over weight is to a persons health and also why diabetics gain weight so easily and find it hard to lose. The more insulin you have in your body, the more fat your body will store.

16.  Chapter thirteen of Dr. Bernstein's book covers solutions for carb cravings and overeating. First he covers self-hypnosis, a technique he says can be very helpful and doesn't require a prescription and doesn't come with side effects.  Then he covers incretin mimetics which are very good for curbing appetite and making you feel full.  The inability to feel satiated is a very common complication of diabetes, and this leads to overeating and weight gain. He explains what incretin mimetics are and how to use them properly for BG regulation and weight-loss. He talks briefly about gastric surgery, basically he does not advocate it because of the legion of complications that come with it. 
He adds in to this chapter a quote from a book one of his college professors wrote:

"Accept responsibility for Your Eating Behavior. It is very tempting to blame your eating behavior on your parents, your wife, the mayor, Watergate, the moon, the tides. As soon as you see the absurdity of that you will realize that of all the things you do in life, there is nothing in which you are more clearly 100 percent responsible than your eating behavior. Reflect on the fact that most of the things you do in life have to take into account other considerations or other people, but in your eating behavior you are in business for yourself." - Dr. Spiegel, Trance and Treatment

17.  Chapter fourteen of Dr. Bernstein's book covers exercise.  This chapter is mainly for using exercise to enhance insulin sensitivity. He first explains generally why people should, and do, exercise.  It makes us feel good and prolongs life.  If there is anything in this book that has shocked me, it is this chapter.  Everything I thought I knew about diabetes and exercise is mostly wrong. "Many type I diabetics have been ill for so long with the debilitating effects of roller-coaster blood sugars that they are often depressed about their physical health. Numerous studies have established a link between good health and a positive mental attitude. If you're a type I diabetic, as I am, strenuous exercise will not improve your blood sugar control as it will for type 2s,...".  Exercise improves insulin sensitivity which can help type 2s because most type 2s are insulin resistant, but won't do much for type Is. Exercise can both lower blood sugar, but can also cause it to rise, depending on what you do and for how long.  Exercising in the morning (within 3 hours of waking) may raise your blood sugar because of the Dawn Phenomenon. If you do have a low during exercise, use glucose tablets, not food, to treat it.  Glucose tablets will fix the low immediately and with no lasting raise later. Food is more unpredictable and usually will help now but also continue to raise your BG over hours. The best form of exercise for a diabetic is not aerobic but anaerobic exercise (strenuous muscle building exercise). In this chapter he also talks about making sure you work with your doctor and are healthy enough to exercise, and also goes over types of exercise, safety in exercise, and how to figure the effects of exercise on your BG and balance your glucose, exercise, and medication to keep your BG regulated.

18.  Chapter 15 of Dr. Bernstein's book is about oral diabetes medications. This chapter is primarily for type 2 diabetics.  There are three types, insulin-sensitizing agents, those that resemble insulin, and the kind that make your pancreas produce more insulin.  He only advocates the use of the first two, because the third can actually "burn out" your insulin production. He explains what each type of medication is used for, how to use it, and any side-effects. He also talks about some dietary supplements that can help to lower BG such as R-ALA in combination with biotin and evening primrose oil. He states that high iron in the blood can cause insulin resistance and diabetics who have a hard time keeping their BG down even with a proper diet and medication should have their iron checked.

19.  Chapter sixteen of Dr. Bernstein's book covers insulin injections. First he debunks the myth that once you go on insulin, you can never come off. Then he talks about the advantages of taking insulin if needed. Next he shows the sites best for injecting.  No, the thighs are not one of them.  Then he describes how to inject painlessly which is the same way I was taught; grab a hunk of skin and fat and "throw" the needle in fast, inject fast, and pull out fast. He spends a good amount of time talking about the best type of syringe to use. Then he talks about the proper way to fill a syringe and how to not get bubbles.  Also he talks about how to avoid causing a vacuum in your insulin bottle. He then says that it is not good to roll your cloudy insulin.  Shaking is better.  He says mixing types of insulin is bad because they often change when mixed, like N will slow the speed of R.  It is best to do two separate injections.  Do not reuse syringes because they can contaminate your entire vial.  You do not need to wipe with alcohol before injecting, it is highly unlikely to get an infection from injecting insulin. The scent of insulin is from a preservative called metacresol. He says using "painless" injector devices is a waste of money and don't really work.  He says jet injectors aren't really worth it either. He doesn't advocate using insulin pens either because they can not measure to precise quarter-units or even half-units (except one brand), so they aren't helpful in truly regulating BG.

One last thing: Look up on Amazon Disintegrator Plus.  So cool!

20.  Dr. Bernstein discusses in chapter 17 of his book types of insulin. There are four categories of insulin, most-rapid-acting, rapid-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting. The two insulins I currently use are N which is an intermediate-acting insulin and the only insulin left that is cloudy, and R which is a rapid-acting insulin.  I find it disturbing that the N I use is one of the two insulins he says never to use.  For N his reason is because it contains protamine which can cause the immune system to produce antibodies to insulin. The other insulin he prefers never to use is Lantus because it has a short shelf life and is linked to cancer. So he prefers Levimir over Lantus because Levimir is safer and has twice the shelf life. In this chapter he also goes over strengths of insulin, how to properly store your insulin, how each type of insulin affects your BG over time, when to use which type of insulin, diluting insulin, and other things regarding insulin.

21.  Chapter 18 of Dr. Bernstein's book covers simple insulin regimens. Mostly he talks about long-acting insulin. First, he talks about what you should do if you experience higher blood sugars in the morning than at night. then he goes over what to do if you experience blood sugar rises during the day even if you skip meals. He then goes over how to monitor your regimen.  I find it interesting that some people experience weather related changes in blood sugar.  Lower blood sugars when the weather is warm, higher when the weather is cold.  He then talks about how to adjust when traveling across time zones. Lastly he suggests splitting larger doses.

22.  Dr. Bernstein's chapter 19 is a long one.  This chapter covers intensive insulin regimens.  This chapter is mainly for type I's but can be helpful for type 2s.  This chapter also involves a lot of math, obviously. First he discusses taking insulin before every meal.  Some people need to, some don't, it really depends on individual health and needs. He prefers using regular insulin (R) for covering meals, but advocates the use of Humalog (most-rapid-acting) for when you are off schedule or are not sure of exactly when you will be eating. He goes over when is best to take which insulins and how long before eating they should be taken. He takes some time to discuss how to figure your dose needs and how long an insulin acts in your body and how much it brings your BG down, ect.. He then talks about snacking; for type I diabetics, he does not like the idea of snacks because they can greatly interfere with BG regulation and make it more difficult to figure meds and meals...they throw off the balance unless you eat the same snack everyday. He then talks about target blood sugars.  Basically the average non-diabetics blood sugar hovers around 83, and there is no reason a diabetic can not do the same, they just need to work harder at it and do things differently. He moves on to talk about how to rapidly correct a high blood sugar.  He then talks about when to cover (more insulin) a high. Then he discusses what might be the problem if your estimations don't work and you just can't seem to get things in line: bad insulin, insulin resistance and the dawn phenomenon, blood sugar above 200, infections. Then he covers when it is useful to take an intramuscular injection, when you absolutely shouldn't, and how to do it. Then he covers taking insulin in addition to oral diabetes meds. He covers how often you should check your blood sugar and when you should do it. Then he talks about insulin pumps; he lists their benefits and then their problems. Basically he says you are better off without a pump.

23.  Chapter 20 of Dr. Bernstein's book is How to Prevent and Correct Low Blood Sugars. This chapter is for type Is, 2s, and their family, friends, and co-workers. "Denial. As hypoglycemia becomes more severe, or if blood sugar has been dropping slowly, many patients will be certain that their blood sugars are fine. An observer suspecting hypoglycemia should insist on a blood sugar measurement before accepting the diabetic's denial." He first gives the basics on what hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is, symptoms, how and why it effects the brain, and causes. He then moves on to how to properly treat mild, moderate, and severe lows properly ( without overshooting it or using dangerous methods). He teaches how to use glucose tablets, glucose gel, and glucagon injection. He goes over many what ifs that I won't discuss here but are very helpful. He then goes over what tools you should always have on hand to treat low blood sugar. He also discusses emergency ID tags, alarms, and CGM (continuous glucose monitor). He then discusses hypoglycemia unawareness and what can cause it. He also discusses autonomic neuropathy.

A side note of something I found very interesting: My dad was a type I and he often did the following; we never thought it was due to low blood sugar (we just thought he was upset or frustrated over something...short-tempered), but now I wonder.   "Pounding hands on tables and walls or kicking the floor or other objects"

24.  Chapter 21 of Dr. Bernstein's book covers dehydration. This chapter is for type Is, 2s, and their families. Dehydration in diabetics can kill us within hours, therefore it should not be ignored or taken lightly and must be treated immediately. "When you experience vomiting, nausea, fever, diarrhea, or any form of infection, you should immediately contact your physician.  I can't emphasize enough the importance of getting treatment and getting it fast." He first goes over what dehydration is and how it works.  He then describes what it does to a diabetic and the vicious cycle it creates that can easily and quickly lead to kidney failure and/or death. He then goes over what can cause dehydration and how a diabetic should treat dehydration based on the cause.  He goes over how to adjust your medication during illness, fasting, etc..

25.  Chapter 22 of Dr. Bernstein's book is all about gastroparesis. This condition is caused by damage to the vagus nerve caused from autonomic neuropathy which is caused from chronic high blood sugars. Gastroparisis can be cured by months or years of regulated blood sugars. This healing can possibly be sped up by large amounts of evening primrose oil combined with R-ALA.  He starts the chapter by explaining what gastroparesis is and what causes it. He then explains how the condition affects blood sugar and makes it more difficult to control. He moves on to discuss how gastroparesis is diagnosed. He then talks about treatments (not cures) for the condition: foods and products to avoid, medications (prescription and non), exercises, meal plan changes, foods and products that help, STS therapy, and electrical gastric stimulation. He moves on to discuss how to treat low BG and high BG when suffering gastroparesis, and how to use your diabetes medications properly.

26.  Dr. Bernstein talks in chapter 23 about routine Dr. visits.  It is good for a diabetic to see their doctor every two months. He goes over why you should see your doctor every two months and what you should bring with you.  He then goes over what each visit should entail, how often specific tests should be done, and other points about preventative, early detection, and ongoing care.

25.  Chapter 24 of Dr. Bernstein's book covers what you can expect from regulated blood sugars. Improved memory, neuropathies, vision, and many other wonderful things.  I highly recommend all diabetics read his book.

26.  Part three of Dr. Bernstein's book is a compilation of healthy diabetic recipes.  Each recipe lists servings, serving size, ingredients, and instructions.  Next to each individual ingredient is listed its carb and protein content.  Looking through the recipes I am eager to try them all!

27.  I have been following Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution for a solid week now.  Well, not entirely, I have just made changes in my diet so far and will be adding other things very soon.  Here's what has happened in just one week:

- I have cut my insulin requirement by nearly 3/4!
- My BG's are still roller-coaster, but in a much closer to normal range
- My vision seems much clearer
- I "feel" good
- My shoulder is showing signs of faster improvement
- I have lost 9lbs.

In just one week!!!! And this isn't even doing everything, just some diet changes!

28.  In Appendix A of his book Dr. Bernstein discusses widely advocated dietary restrictions for diabetics and why they are not good.  He uses many studies, history itself, and his extensive medical knowledge and personal experience to prove his points. He discusses high-carb, protein restriction, salt restriction,and high fiber diets. In addition he also discusses risk factors for heart disease and kidney disease.  Also he discusses why the glycemic index poses problems.

29.  Appendix B of Dr. Bernstein's book covers ways of ensuring that you can keep your blood sugar normalized while in the hospital or undergoing outpatient procedures.  It is a terrible thing that most hospital staff are horribly under skilled in dealing with blood sugar control and live in terror of hypoglycemia, therefore diabetics end up with high blood sugars while in hospital care. He gives an outline for a letter you can personalize and provide to your admitting physician stating your concerns and requirements for your blood sugar control while in the hospital.  You can and should be allowed direct control of your diabetes medication and glucose monitoring.

30.  Appendix C of Dr. Bernstein's book are lists of drugs used for other conditions than diabetes that can raise, lower, and/or mask blood sugar levels/symptoms.

31. Appendix D of Dr. Bernstein's book covers foot care.  Diabetics are at extremely high risk for foot problems that can easily lead to amputation.  He covers how to avoid foot issues, examine your own feet, and what to do if you find an issue. 

32.  This is the last one, people!  Appendix E of Dr. Bernstein's book covers Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  This condition is not strictly in diabetics, but is a very common complication of diabetes in both type I and type 2 female diabetics. He goes over what PCOS is and what it does to a woman's body, what the symptoms are, how it's diagnosed, and treatments. PCOS, he suspects is highly under diagnosed due to the difficulty in discovering it and the test required to positively diagnose.

After reading this book and already starting to follow some of his teachings and seeing immediate results, I fully intend to incorporate all of Dr. Bernstein's guidelines into my daily life. I intend to post regularly on how I am doing with this new lifestyle. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

No Pee For You!

Part of being a diabetic is having to do blood work every few months.  The normal tests include A1c, cholesterol, kidney, liver, and more. Usually you don't just get blood drawn but also must give a urine sample.

I always get to the lab right at opening.  I do this for a couple of reasons, one being that the labs must be done while fasting.  It is easier to fast overnight because you are sleeping and don't need to eat and don't think about food and hunger, and it doesn't mess up your normal routine as much so you can easier keep your BG from dropping too low.  Secondly, because there is usually less people and a shorter wait.

So I woke up early this morning and first I realized how I am not used to waking up on a schedule and so early, and to an alarm anymore.  I rolled out of bed none-the-less and immediately started getting dressed and ready to head out the door.  My bladder was full, but of course, I didn't use the restroom because I knew I was supposed to give a urine sample at the lab.  My back was hurting strangely, though, almost like a muscle pain but in my spine.  It made me feel as though my entire body hurt even though I knew it was just in my back.  I've never felt this before.  I thought maybe it was because I had to pee so bad and made a point to see if I felt better after relieving myself.

Since I am not allowed to drive right now due to vision problems, my husband had to take me to the lab before heading out to work.  I rushed him out the door, I hate waiting on people and for things, the earlier we get to the lab, the faster I'll be in and out (and can pee!). We head out and it is a chilly morning.  On the way my husband tells me to get a note from the lab so he can provide it to his work if he runs late.

We arrive at the lab and there are already three people in line outside the door.  I get out of the car and take my place in line, cursing that I didn't bring a sweater on this cold morning. My back is still feeling crampy, my bladder is still painfully full, and there is still 15 minutes to go until the doors open.  I listen to the other waiters chit-chat about health and doctors and insurance, until finally the doors open and we file in.  By this time there are about nine of us and more driving up.

I sign in, sit, and wait.  The tiny waiting room is already full and I end up sitting next to a woman who apparently loves to small talk.  She chooses me to talk to.  I hate life right now; my bladder and back hurt, I'm cold (apparently labs don't believe in heaters), I'm sleepy, and I am grumpy from it all.  I, however, have excellent people skills from my years of working in customer service, so I talk and smile and appear very pleasant as we chat about Disney on Ice and Pismo Beach.

I find it odd that they haven't given me a cup yet to go pee in.

Eventually I get called back and when I see that they are going to draw my blood already I ask about giving urine.  The tech tells me there is no urine required today and she double checks to be sure.  A1c, CBC, lipid, kidney...blah, blah, blah.  Nope, none of them are urine, all blood.  She asks if I need to use the restroom and I lie and say no.

I have an aversion to using any restroom that is not in my own home.  So I continue to suffer in silence.  I hate myself at this moment.

She asks if I've been fasting. Yep.

She asks me to verify my name, address, phone number, and birth-date.  I do, and then sign the form.

I let her know all the details about every time I get my blood drawn.  Which veins they usually end up with, the fact that my veins are deep and small, the fact that they don't like to give up their precious blood, the fact hat I have a lot of scar tissue from years of having IV's and labs and such, and the fact that sometimes the techs end up drawing from my hand or knuckles because, yeah, it's that bad.

She listens and ties off my right arm.  She finds the usual vein they all start with and she pokes.  She hits gold on her first try.  It flows nicely and she is able to draw all four vials with no re-poking.  I love her...and for the first time ever, I love being on blood-thinners.

After all is said and done, I rush out to the car in a hurry to get to my toilet.  At the car my husband asks where the note for his work is.  I run back in to get one and then back out and home.

Once I do my business my back feels much better but not great. I think maybe I just slept wrong or something, but it's no biggie.