Video taping 45 years of wisdom into 10 soundbites

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I was in a studio in Chelsea – no, not London, shucks!, New York. Digital video publisher, HealthiNation, is taping six “real” people with diabetes for a series of educational diabetes videos.  The videos will be online end of the year at ComCast Connected Health. The videos will share info from doctors and other experts  – and patients, to capture the feelings of living with diabetes and help others feel less alone.

I am not a novice in front of the camera. In fact one of my two majors in college was Mass Communication. As an independent study project, I hosted a cable TV talk show. I was the host, interviewer, script writer, guest-finder, producer…you get the idea.

But it’s been awhile and I forgot how everything – in the making of short videos – gets edited down into one minute “memorable, you nailed it!” statements. Oh, did I say one minute? I meant thirty seconds. No, fifteen.

I actually had a lovely time. The interviewer pictured here in black and white stripes was from Australia and I enjoyed her accent. I just find cinema amusing.

So, since I’m sure what might be salvaged from my 1:15 minute interview, might be three :15 soundbites, I’ll give you ten from my 45 years of living with type 1 diabetes wisdom that I shared last Friday on 17th Street off Fifth Avenue:

1. Learn everything you can – everything – and keep learning

2. Ask for help when you need it. It’s not weakness but strength.

3. Carry glucose tablets in everything so you’re never without – including on your husband

4. Per above, do your best to prevent going low, but it will happen. Try as we might, we can’t “control” blood sugar.

5. Don’t beat yourself up for anything. Learn from it.

6. When you’re out of familiar surroundings, let those you’re with know how to help you should you go low – and it’s not a cookie!

7. Make d-friends in person, online, chat, hang out – they “get” it

8. I tell everyone diabetes has made me healthier than I would be without it. It’s given me the incentive to eat healthy and walk an hour a day. Otherwise, I’d be a slob and have multiple conditions. (I didn’t really say the last sentence, but who knows)

9. The public doesn’t know: 1) diabetes is about more than not eating cake and cookies, 2) diabetes is serious and can lead to debilitating complications 3) there’s such as thing as type 1 diabetes

10. You can have a great life not despite but because of diabetes. It has brought me some really, really good stuff: friends, work, strength, health, purpose

4:14 PM – Lights out

Time to go celebrate my budding new career, sound-bite songstress


FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System Approved!

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 6.48.50 PM.pngAfter distribution in 40 countries around the world – finally – the FDA approves this competitive glucose monitoring system in the U.S.

I’ve used the Libre “Flash” twice. Once when my sister in law smuggled the system to me from Holland. That was 2015 and I wrote about it here. Unfortunately, everything was in Dutch and our blood sugar mg/dl measurements were in the European system, mmol/l, but I got the gist. I used the “Flash” a second time in Israel this past January. I felt the system was more accurate the second time around. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. Its accuracy is on par with Dexcom.

I am a Dexcom user. I have the G5. I’m also a fan of the Libre. It is so easy to insert, is so small and thin and requires no calibration. That’s no finger sticks unless you want to check yourself on your meter. Which of course I advise whenever you’re not sure the number on your Libre makes sense.

The Libre has been approved for 10 day wear. Now here I feel cheated. Everywhere else in the world it’s approved for 14 days. And, while we’ve figured out how to “under the radar” extend the life of a 7-day Dexcom sensor, I don’t think the same is possible with the Libre sensor.

That said, the Libre fits better with my lifestyle. I’m a very routine person and so I don’t see the need to, or use my Dexcom day to day. I work at home where I control my food. I eat mostly the same things day to day, exercise the same way, an hour walk in the morning, and so my numbers are fairly predictable. Well, as predictable as blood sugar numbers can be.

I tend to use my Dexcom when I travel – for obvious reasons – I’m out of my routine. The problem though with Dexcom is I can’t use it intermittently. Once you start a Dexcom transmitter it runs for 90 days. Period, and then shuts off. So while I may need it for two weeks in May, I may not need it again until August. By then, the transmitter’s dead and I need a new transmitter which on my insurance isn’t cheap.

The Libre, however, is a sensor that runs 10 days. Each 10 day session starts anew. Much easier for my needs, although whether it’s covered on my health insurance will be key.

Freestyle Libre should be available before the end of the year. Abbott is working to get insurance coverage, until they do the reader (device you swipe over the sensor to see your numbers with about a 3 year lifespan) will cost about $69 and each sensor about $70.

For full coverage of the Libre and its journey to market take a look at Mike Hoskins’ great report today on DiabetesMine.

Forest bathing, proven to improve health

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I spent my birthday a few weeks ago at my friend’s house in a small suburban city an hour above Manhattan. His house is plentiful with big glass windows and doors and all you see when you look out of them are trees, and sometimes critters like deer, rabbits and turkeys.

Being surrounded by trees (no animals required) is called forest-bathing. Really. There’s a name for being around tons of trees – and it’s healthy. Of course it is. I always knew, city kid that I am, that visiting my Aunt in Maryland eons ago, when we finally drove off the turnpike and the landscape became green, and I was enveloped by trees, I breathed differently. Deeper. It made me more relaxed, more restful. It made me calmer and happier. Actually, it made me more in touch with myself.

I know there are people who feel this way on the beach, but I’m a tree-girl. If you want to read more about forest bathing and the real phenomena that it is, click here.

Leave it to the Japanese to actually name it. Now I’m sure they’re working on a way to miniaturize it and have it delivered by a robot.

3 Easy to make desserts the are diabetes-friendly

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The Hughes family above

I was approached by Barbara of the Village Bakery, which looks like a really great cooking resource. Barbara and Joe Hughes started the Village Bakery in 2011 to share their knowledge of home-style cooking, tips, techniques, and recipes. The site has since grown into a very large, engaged, and sharing community.

Barbara asked if she could share a few desert recipes with my readers. “Why not,” I said.

So read on and find a few recipes you may want to add to your special dessert nights.

From Barbara: We are truly caring of those who would benefit from diabetes-friendly foods. We know this can be a part of how people take back their health and manage their condition, naturally. As you know, one of the best ways to help regulate your blood sugar is to limit the amount of carbs that you eat. When you control the amount of carbs, you tend to have more stable blood sugar.

So below are three delicious cake recipes that are low in carbs. Take a look and then think how you can incorporate these healthier desserts into your meal plan and still satisfy your sweet tooth.

Angel Food Cake

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Nothing beats the fluffiness and tenderness of angel food cake. Here is a super easy way to make angel food cake with fruit topping that will be kind to your diet.

What you need:

  • 2 Sugar Free Angel Food Cakes
  • 1 quart of Strawberries
  • 1 large container of Cool Whipped topping
  • 2 Packets of Sugar Free Strawberry Jell-O

Prepare the Jell-O in advance and slice strawberries according to preference. Layer the cake with strawberries and Jell-O. Garnish with whipped topping.

Coconut Cake

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Coconut is a favorite for many sweet lovers. Here’s a recipe for a simple coconut cake.

What you need:

  • 8 oz Extra Virgin Coconut Oil or Coconut Butter
  • 4 tbsp. Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2 tbsp. Raw Agave Nectar or Raw Honey
  • 1 Whole Banana (optional) – mashed
  • 3-4 Strawberries, sliced

Mix warmed banana with softened coconut oil. Add in cacao powder, agave nectar and remaining banana. Cover bowl and place in fridge to cool for 2 hours. Cut out chunks and place in serving cups/bowls. Garnish with strawberries or fruit of choice.

Easy Carrot Cake

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Carrot cake is a timeless classic and people with diabetes can enjoy it too. Here’s a delicious recipe for an easy carrot cake.

What you need:

  • 1 ½ cup Flour
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp of Nonfat Dry Milk Powder.
  • ¾ cup Sugar Substitute
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cloves
  • 1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Ground Allspice
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¾ cup Egg Substitute
  • ½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • ½ Canola Oil
  • 1 large Egg White
  • ⅛ tsp. Salt
  • 1 ½ cup finely Grated Carrots
  • 1 can Unsweetened Crushed Pineapple
  • 1 container Cool Whip Nonfat, Sugar-Free Whipped Topping
  • ¼ cup finely Chopped Pecans

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take all your dry ingredients and sift them thoroughly. Then, add in your wet ingredients and mix them at a low speed. Fold in the remaining walnuts, pineapple and carrots. Spray the inside of a cake pan and pour the batter. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean. Top with whipped topping.

Desserts aren’t out of the question for people with diabetes, they just need to be taken into account when you look at your carbohydrates for the day.

We’re grateful Riva gave us the opportunity to share what we love with you. For additional resources to learn more about taking care of your diabetes we can’t recommend Riva’s books highly enough.


What severe hypoglycemia looks and feels like, it happened to me

I was visiting a friend for the weekend at her beach house when in the evening my blood sugar dropped like a stone. Funny thing is, it’s the first time my friends told me, and I was aware, it looked like I was drunk.

That’s how severe hypoglycemia can make you look. I posted the story today on the HuffPost-

It was 10 PM and I was weaving on the boardwalk. “Are you okay? Are you okay,” my acquaintance Susan asked several times. I couldn’t respond. My brain wasn’t working. Like a firefly it was flitting on, off, on, off, refusing to hold its light…

For the full story, click here.

What’s missing in diabetes innovation: a new provider-patient relationship

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The above picture was taken when I spoke at the International Diabetes Federation side panel at the World Health Assembly this past May in Geneva. The quote is my perspective as it related to the session:

Access to diabetes medicines and care in underserved populations: patient, health worker, government and multilateral perspectives on policy

Access to care is a major problem around the world. Yet while we may one day solve access to meds and affordability, there’s another type of access almost none of us have. Access to providers who work with us in a way that supports and encourages sustainable self-management. Why is there no innovation on this front?

Today companies are mushrooming everywhere with new multi-purpose drugs, devices, apps and services for diabetes management. Big companies are buying little start-ups, like Roche buying the popular app MySugar last week, to have more data, data, data. Yet, no one is thinking among all this external “hardware,” where is the “heartware” people need – the connection with their provider, the confidence building – to manage their condition?

In other words: Is the quality of interaction between health care providers and people with diabetes manifesting patients who are confident, enthused, skilled and committed to their daily self-care? Mostly, no. Why?

There is no major training for providers in chronic illness. So instead providers are applying what they’ve learned, acute care and attempt to fix our numbers, they are trying to repair what they see as broken in us. While Americans over the age of sixty increasingly live with one or more chronic illnesses, we should be training health professionals a different way of working with this enormous population. And, that treating someone with a chronic illness, requires something else entirely than a condition that will heal.

We know intuitively, and there is scientific evidence, that confirms people act when they feel safe, when they feel trusting. This is actually part of our neurobiology. People take new actions when they feel there’s a chance they’ll be successful, and that’s in part because someone makes them feel that they have their back.

We can throw as many new meds, meters, and apps at people living with diabetes as R&D budgets allow. That’s the easy thing to do. But studies show it doesn’t make all that much difference helping people be more successful managing their diabetes.

However, innovating the patient-provider interaction, that’s what we should be doing to help the millions of people with diabetes who still struggle with their care. That’s what we should be doing to help those doing well, continue to do so. That’s what I’m doing.  When the doctor paid a house call fifty years ago that’s what he was doing.

The single best advice for managing blood sugar

I say this all the time – eating less carbs will make your blood sugar more stable, more in range, and make it far easier to avoid highs and lows. Many, many people with diabetes know and follow this wisdom.

Today I read it again as espoused by Adam Brown, Senior Editor with diaTribe, which happens to be a fantastic, free online newsletter covering diabetes – new meds, devices, start ups, and like Adam’s Corner, experiential wisdom. I lifted this from Adam’s post:

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For Adam’s full post click here.

How to wear a Dexcom CGM on your arm

My last post featured my recent article for the HuffPost that we have much to learn from people with illness who do well.  A few days ago, when I went to put on my Dexcom CGM, on my upper arm where I wear it, I realized that I learned how to do this from a fellow PWD, Diabetic Danica. She created just the video to guide you through the process. Here below:

I found Danica’s video when I was in Japan two years ago and thought, hmmm…I’ve seen a lot of PWDs wearing their Dexcom on their arm. How do you do that? And there she was, joyfully guiding me through the process.

Because I use my CGM intermittently, I find myself always going back to Danica’s video for instruction.

Dexcom only advises wearers to place the sensor on your abdomen because that’s the only spot they have FDA approval for. But we who wear it have discovered there are many places on the body you can wear it. The upper arm is a favorite for many – it’s unobtrusive and I find I get more days with it, more like 14 instead of 10, and it becomes accurate faster.

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Thank you Danica. I don’t know if I could have done it without you, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out. Another round of applause for people doing well with illness.

Learning from PWDs who do well

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…I began this work interviewing people living with diabetes to learn their story. I discovered quickly that some people struggle, but many find ways to create healthier, more productive and more meaningful lives after their diagnosis…While not everyone with a chronic illness can, or will, become a model of success – genetics, skills, resources, capacity, supports, will, economics, values all count – we should not discount that in learning how successful people do well, we can help more people be successful.

Above is a photo of Rachel Zinman who’s been living with LADA for nine years, and an excerpt from my post today on Huff Post, What the “Forgotten Patient” Teaches Us.

There is much we can learn from people living well with chronic illness  – and much to inspire other’s living will illness and those who care for them, including health professionals.

Full article, click here.