I have one of those 3" x 6" plastic mood-visuals hanging on my refrigerator. It comes with a little red cut out square that you place over the face that illustrates the mood you're feeling.
One thing I've noticed about this little mood chart is that out of the 30 moods on offer, 25 are negative and only 5 are positive. What does that say about us?
Here's a sample of the negative choices
Here are the five positive choices
I have two thoughts about this and I'm going to share both with you.
1) We are so ingrained to see the fly in the ointment. Is it so hard for us to name positive emotions that they only gave us five? Do we spend so little time feeling positive that the words don't come more quickly to us?
2) I can go through each of these negative emotions and tie it to diabetes. For instance:
Exhausted - After 1 billion blood sugar tests it gets a little tiring!
Confused - This isn't the number I usually get when I eat that!
Guilty - A night of eating everything I love that just gets away from me
Angry - Stopped by security at the airport because of my insulin pen!
Hysterical - Stopped by security at the airport because of my insulin pen!
Frustrated - Having to eat just because I'm low. Damn!
Sad - I may really not make it to 80
Embarrassed - Shooting up in front of people I don't know
Disgusted - Leaving blood trails on my newly renovated white kitchen cabinets
Frightened - What will they find in my lab tests this time?
Enraged - This disease costs a shit-load of money
Anxious - Left the house without testing and have no idea where my sugar is
Lonely - No one else knows what this is like!
Jealous - Of everyone else's freedom
Overwhelmed - I feel lousy yet I still have to get up to test my blood sugar, see if I have to refill my meds, god, I got it wrong again?
That said, I can go through each of the positive emotions and also relate it to diabetes:
Happy - I'm in great shape overall and better shape than if I didn't have diabetes
Ecstatic - Just started blogging for the Huffington Post as a patient-expert
Confident - I'm generally on top of things
Lovestruck - My partner couldn't be more supportive
Hopeful - This will continue to get easier to live with
But I'd add a few more positives to my mood meter:
Peaceful - Just had my labs done, everything's OK
Contented - Overall, I love my life
Excited - Going to the AADE to present this August
Joyful - I've found my passion and am in my 'element' as Ken Robinson says
Grateful - For everything I have: partner, home, work, friends, family, chocolate
Delighted - Lovely surprises come on a regular basis these days
Proud - While I thank my lucky stars, I did a lot to get here
The truth is we can look down and we can look up. I rarely change where my square hangs - it's usually on "happy". For even when I'm not happy, I've noticed that glancing at my happy square, makes me feel happier and think of something to be happy about.
Just an observation, make of it what you will.
Continuous glucose monitor
A fellow type 1 friend of mine was trying to get a CGM to better control her blood sugar.
She's had diabetes for more than two decades. Her blood sugar bounces from high to low often enough that her doctor felt a CGM would be extremely helpful, even though her A1C is just below the American Diabetes Association recommended 7%.
Of course the A1C is an average of your last two to three month's worth of blood sugars. That means you can have lots of blood sugars around 250 mg/dl and lots around 50 mg/dl, and average out at 150 mg/dl - just below an A1C of 7%.
While this averaging game is nothing new to me, what was new to me is that her insurance company would not cover a CGM because the liaison between the insurance company and the CGM company said my friend's diabetes was cured. Why? Her A1C is under 7%.
My friend's doctor told her he's seen this coming ever since companies decided to diagnose type 2 diabetes with the A1C test. The American Diabetes Association has recently recommended this along with an international committee from several other diabetes organizations including the International Diabetes Federation and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
One main advantage they cite for using the A1C test to diagnose diabetes is that it can be taken any time of day, and without fasting.
Yet, at what cost does this come? If an A1C of 7% or above will mean you have diabetes then will insurance companies say a well-controlled diabetic, who has an A1C under 7%, does not have diabetes? If that's the case then I've been cured for years and didn't know it. Funny, though I still experience hypos and highs no non-diabetic gets.
Will patients lose having tools that could help them better manage their diabetes with this diagnosing criteria? I know one who already has.
If you missed it, Oprah did a show on diabetes ten days ago where Dr. Oz confused and scared a lot of people about diabetes with misinformation. As one diabetes educator said to me, "Dr Oz is a SURGEON.!!! Diabetes is NOT in his area of expertise!!!!!!" Read my post on the Huffington Post.
Now I ask you to join me in letting Dr. Oz know that we are worthy of accurate information to help us manage our diabetes, not myths and fear, and that if he truly wants to help patients he should correct the misinformation he's put out there.
Spread the word, tweet, twitter, leave a comment on the HuffPost and let's send the message that the diabetes community deserves the respect it's so often denied.
Peer-mentor, Bob Kolenkow
Eight years ago, when I first started thinking of myself as someone who works in diabetes, I attended a Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) event in San Diego. I was covering it for Kelly Close of Close Concerns.
Wandering around the exhibition hall I started chatting with a gentleman who was eager to answer my questions. He told me he was a peer- mentor and that he speaks to patients around the country helping them manage their diabetes, in part by sharing his story.
He neglected to tell me he was a former physics professor at M.I.T. Thank goodness I didn't know, I might have been intimidated. But that's not Robert Kolenkow's way to intimidate anyone.
Because of Bob, I've been a peer-mentor for the past three years and it's one of the most rewarding things I do.
I told Bob about a year ago that he's one of my mentors because he led me to this work, and he welled up with tears. You can meet Bob in his recent article in The New York Times. He epitomizes the saying that "a life examined is a life worth living."
O.K., let’s declare a moratorium on fretting over what your significant other is going to get you for Valentine’s Day. Or whether he or she will, or what it will mean.
The best Valentine’s Day gift you’re ever going to get is the one only you can give to yourself. That doesn’t mean you still wouldn’t mind a dozen red roses and chocolate truffles.
But it does mean that it’s time to start keeping different company with actually something, not someone, you hold most dear — your emotions.
It’s time to cuddle up with more of your inspiring, positive emotions and less with your nagging, negative ones. How? By simply asking yourself a few questions that get you focused on the good news in your life. For instance:
· What do I appreciate in my life?
· Who am I grateful for in my life?
· What did I learn this week from a mistake I made?
· What do I truly love about myself?
· What can I do today for someone to make them feel good?
· What am I most proud of?
Now, isn’t this a Valentine’s Day gift truly worthy of you?
Typically any discussion of emotions around diabetes are always negative ones: Depression, denial, guilt, shame, worry and fear. I’ve watched this conversation lead people straight into their “unhappy place” where they yearn for pity or consolation.
But one Valentine’s Day, standing on the brink of such an event, I conducted an experiment. I was at a monthly diabetes support group meeting (Divabetic). I’d been invited to discuss the power of positive emotions, the basis of my book, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes. That evening, instead of the women there introducing themselves by telling everyone what they were struggling with, I asked them to say one thing they love about themselves and one positive thing diabetes has given them. I since use this in workshops.
Here are some of the answers I got:
“Even though I’ve lost some of my vision from diabetes, I have so much more compassion for other people with a disability.”
“I feel very humble. I know I could have something much worse.”
“I got diabetes at ten and really like how it’s made me strong and responsible”
“I feel really valuable and worthwhile being able to help my family members who have diabetes”
“I eat healthier now and have lost almost fifteen pounds!”
“I love the friends I’ve made in this group.”
Each remark brightened the energy in the room. They laughed and smiled, they reached out hands to each other, not to console but to connect, and to celebrate the good news they heard ‘round the room. Only two of the women had to search for an answer, but even their search was an opening for something positive to fly in that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
It’s a universal law, we tend to attract what we focus on. Spend more time with your positive emotions like joy, hope, curiosity, passion, kindness, forgiveness and pride, and you will have more of these in your life.
Barbara Fredrickson, positivity expert and author, along with many positive psychologists like Martin Seligman, has conducted research that reveals positive emotions open our hearts and our minds making us more creative, flexible and resilient. They broaden our outlook, helping us to see more options. When engaged in positive emotions, our thoughts and actions surface more spontaneously, and we forgive our mistakes and let things roll off our shoulders more easily. Above all, they make us happier and healthier.
Sounds like an ideal prescription for managing diabetes, and life. Now if only we could get doctors to prescribe it!
That Valentine's Day, when 27 women and I spent a few moments together loving ourselves (nothing kinky mind you), was one of the best Valentine's Day gifts I've ever given or gotten, and I suspect my Valentinas would say the same.
Today, indulge yourself in a few of your own positive emotions, alongside anything else. Ask yourself one or two questions like: “What am I doing in my life that I like?” and “Who can I thank for what they mean to me?”
Then every day let this be more of the company you keep.
Because there were so many comments made on so many blogs in the diabetes community in reaction to Oprah's show last week, "Diabetes: America's Silent Killer," while my intent was not to critique Oprah’s show in my first blog post for The Huffington Post, I felt a responsibility to do so. And so I have.
My second post for HuffPost, An Open Letter To Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, was accepted within 2 hours and is in the Entertainment Section. I sure do hope someone shows it to Oprah and Gayle.
If you'd like to know when I post on The Huffington Post, just sign up as a fan or get the RSS feed. Meanwhile, thank you for the encouragement, warmth and support you have given me to reach this vantage point just by stopping by.
Voices around the diabetes community
Oprah Does Diabetes, Kerri Sparling
Oprah Does Diabetes, But the Diagnosis? Fair to Poor, Hope Warshaw
Dear Oprah & Dr. Oz - The Diabetes Show - Major FAIL, Kelly Kunik
At 2:33 PM yesterday I pushed the "Send" button on the backstage posting area of The Huffington Post and my first blog post was launched: A review of Oprah's show, Diabetes: America's Silent Killer, and why most patients don't manage their diabetes the way they should, and how they could.
Get your heart checked
A few weeks ago I attended a seminar given by Amylin Pharmaceutical, manufacturer of Byetta and Symlin, in of all places Carnegie Hall. I have no complaints, it included lunch and a tour - and an important education.
Amylin's seminar, "New Approach to type 2 Diabetes Management" had five prestigious presenters at the helm: Dr. Louis Aronne, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College and obesity expert; Dr. Robert Chilton, Cardiovascular surgeon, University of Texas Health Science Center; Dr. Donna Ryan, Obesity expert, Pennington Biomedical Research Center; MEd Molly Gee, Dietician, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Matthew Wintle, UK, Director of R&D, Amylin.
The new approach proposes that the same attention on glucose control for type 2s must be given to cardiovascular risks. We heard from the presenters that type 2 diabetes is a cardiovascular disease. As Dr. Chilton warned, people with type 2 diabetes have a two-to-four-fold increase in risk of stroke and coronary heart disease and a two-to-five-fold increase in risk of heart failure, and will likely die due to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular risks: obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammation, (also known as metabolic syndrome) typically accompany type 2 diabetes. If we don't control these health ailments, cardiovascular events will occur in greater numbers as the tide of type 2 diabetes rises.
In all disclosure, Amylin is working on a drug that will help control cardiovascular disease risks as well as glucose, and not produce weight gain. The catch-22 of course is that weight gain contributes to cardiovascular risk and some diabetes medications cause weight gain.
I came away from the Amylin seminar thinking unmanaged type 2 diabetes is a time bomb, and for the first time I understood why the American Diabetes Association has long advocated a low fat/high carb diet; obesity prompts the hormonal imbalances that create metabolic syndrome. I won't get into healthy fats vs. unhealthy fats or that unused carbs also turn into fat. Suffice to say, if you have type 2 diabetes, get your vitals checked and ask about your heart health.
As February is American Heart Month it's a good time to learn more about your heart health and risk for heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is America's number 1 killer - every 25 seconds someone experiences a cardiovascular event and every minute someone dies. It is time, I agree, to think 'heart' as well as 'sugar' if you have type 2 diabetes.
I've long heard that people with type 2 diabetes have as much chance of having a heart attack as people who've already had one. Somehow it doesn't sink in unless you've had a heart attack or until you see, as I did, the stunning pictures of what clogged arteries look like.
To show support for heart month, this Friday you're encouraged to wear red. I'd also ask you to show support for your heart: Take a walk and make that doctor's appointment to check out your heart-health. Then you can toast your heart-healthy actions with a glass of heart-healthy red wine.