Among the bulk fruits at Costco – me!

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A week ago I got an email from the publisher of Costco’s website for diabetes health information and care. “Would you guest post for us? We’ve become a popular site for our Costco customers.”

Sure. So here’s to sharing with the Costco community – love those big jars of artichokes and cheap Charmin –  what it takes to be healthy with diabetes 42 years – including two secrets you’ll rarely hear. 

For the article, click here.

“Life is a joyful blessing,” a short excerpt from my book, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes

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As promised in my last post, I’m going to put portions of my first book here. I will try to do it every Thursday.  

Having the emotional strength and stamina to take care of your diabetes is as essential as understanding how diabetes works and knowing how to take care of it. (Both of which happen to be covered in my two other books.)

I write books because it’s a way for me to share my knowledge and help others do better. I hope these posts provide a little inspiration and help you build your “strengths muscle.”  At least you don’t have to go to the gym!

Excerpt:  

“Living with diabetes is something you learn to do each and every day. On some days you hardly know it’s there. On others, you can hardly forget. But appreciation is what fills our lives with love, joy and deep contentment, even when you have diabetes… 

Diabetes can motivate you to make healthier food choices and improve your fitness. You can take pride in how bravely you are managing it. And, when you’ve lost something, it’s an opportunity to appreciate all the more what you do have… 

Diabetes can be a gift in your hands if you use it to see how many blessings you truly have: loving family and friends, a dear pet, a comfortable home, the use of your body and mind, meaningful work, a favorite hobby, all your simple pleasure, exuberant passions and just the marvel of being you.”

Reflection: Think about, or write, three or more things you are appreciative for in your life right now. Remind yourself of these a few times throughout the day today.

The Ricki Lake Type 1 Blunder

Goof & apology from Ms. Lake

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 Last week on “Good Morning America” actress and former talk show host, Ricki Lake, said juvenile diabetes was preventable. She’s since apologized. “This was a mistake on my part and in no way was meant to offend anyone dealing with the very serious disease of juvenile diabetes.”

Lake was speaking about her new book and AllStride program to combat childhood obesity when she made her mistake. “I commented that juvenile diabetes was preventable when in fact it is type 2 diabetes. This was a mistake on my part and in no way was meant to offend anyone dealing with the very serious disease of juvenile diabetes.”

I’m not offended. In fact, I’m a little delighted. Her mistake only confirms the public’s confusion about type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Even Lake’s interviewer smart guy, George Stephanopalous, didn’t catch her mistake. Now that is one thing I am sorry about. That the error was not snuffed out in its tracks and may deepen the confusion for those who didn’t catch Lake’s apology.

You’d think Lake, who’s advocating stemming the tide of childhood obesity – linked to the rise of type 2 diabetes in children – would know better than to confuse juvenile diabetes (type 1) with type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes). Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition, not related to weight or a sedentary lifestyle and it’s not preventable or reversible.

Lake probably does know better, and it was probably a glitch of the mind, just a slip of the tongue. Then again, she actually made two mistakes. The name “juvenile diabetes” was changed to “type 1 diabetes” in 1997.

Then again you’d think Dr. Oz, “America’s doctor,” would know better. When he appeared last year on Oprah Winfrey’s program on diabetes he actually said, “Type 1 is also called juvenile diabetes and you are born with it.” Oh, my, born with it. That’s a pretty HUGE mistake! Just to clarify, while type 1 diabetes occurs more often in children than adults, you are not born with it.

Do I blame Lake for her blunders? Not at all. These are the type of mistakes the general public make all the time. Most people don’t even know there’s such a thing as type 1 diabetes as we are so overshadowed by all the media and pharma attention on type 2 diabetes. I am less understanding however how Dr. Oz could get it so wrong.

Maybe you’re thinking what’s the big deal? The big deal is multi-pronged. I believe the lack of recognition of type 1 diabetes and understanding its daily life-threatening nature, impedes urgent and necessary funding toward a cure.

The fact that type 1s are judged harshly by the public for “causing their condition” is just plain hurtful, just as much as to type 2s. The fact that we are invisible against the large canvas of type 2 diabetes is often painful. The fact that the public is so misinformed and uninformed may actually hinder life-saving treatment when a type 1 needs it.

So let’s go back to that “life-threatening” part: As a type 1 every day, every few hours, I have to test my blood sugar and then often do something to return it to a near-to-normal, safe zone. If my blood sugar’s too low I can fall into a coma and die. If my blood sugar’s too high my body can produce toxic acid in my blood stream called ketoacidosis, and over time I will likely succumb to a premature heart attack, blindness, amputation, host of nerve conditions and have a life span 15 years shorter than if I didn’t have type 1 diabetes.

If you’re interested, you’ll find a side by side comparison of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in“The type 1 versus Type 2 Diabetes War.” 

One thing I noticed in the diabetes community regards Lake’s mistake was upset from parents of children with type 1 diabetes. If you want a little window into living with type 1 diabetes ask any parent who has a child with it. A mother or father who has to hold their five year old down every day to give her several injections a day. Who has to poke their child’s hurting, tiny little fingers all through the day to get a read and regulate her blood sugar. Who has to force their child to eat when she doesn’t want to and stop her from eating when she does. Make her move when she doesn’t want to and stop her from moving when she does.

Most parents go to sleep fearful every night that their child will not wake up due to a dangerous blood sugar drop overnight that can not always be predicted or prevented. 

I have asked these parents what it’s like. I also know that children with type 1 diabetes grow up and become the person sitting next to you, sitting unseen with her invisible life-threatening disease.

I think type 1 diabetes needs the recognition that type 2 diabetes has gained. I think the roughly 3 million people with type 1 diabetes, living in the shadow of the almost 25 million with type 2 diabetes, deserve to be acknowledged for what they live with and what they do to keep living, every day. For their courage, for their hope, for their tenacity. 

So Ricki, while some say your mistake has added to the myths of diabetes, I thank you for what it has also done – brought more media attention to type 1 diabetes than we’ve had in a long time.

Is diabetes worth all the work? Wait ’till you hurt your foot.

Oh, no, a fractured toe!

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If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know I’ve had a bunch of minor injuries over the last year or so. Ankle tendonitis, wrist tendonitis and recently a stupid fractured toe. 

Someone was handing me a bottle, I didn’t realize it, they let go of it and bam, it landed right on my toe. My foot took all the impact so when the bottle rolled off it and onto the wooden floor, it didn’t even break! 

My foot is now in this lovely surgical shoe. Truth be told, I could open a lending library of medical braces.

I’m not going to go into why all these injuries are happening. Or karma or any of that. Because frankly I don’t know. 

Some good news resulted from my injury: Days after my new footwear, I  flew to Amsterdam on a night flight and the Delta/KLM ticket agent took pity on me and upgraded me to World Business Class, KLM’s version of First Class. Yes, that was mighty nice compensation for my injury and a breath of human kindness in a world that often feels like it’s all gone. But giddy as I was playing with my reclining bed-like chair, I find something even more rewarding – that the constant care of this annoying condition (diabetes) paid off.

The afternoon I sustained my injury the pain was tolerable until going to sleep. Then it turned intolerable. I searched my medicine cabinet for a sleeping pill. But I didn’t have any. I ended up swallowing two Benadryl cold capsules hoping it would knock me out. It didn’t. The pain was that severe.

My painful sleepless night put every diabetes foot horror into my head. Will I get gangrene? Will they have to amputate my foot? How will I exercise without my foot? Maybe they’ll just take off my toe….C’mon, isn’t this in every diabetic’s head when something happens to your foot?

First thing the next morning I called my podiatrist and heard those blessed words, “Come anytime today.” My podiatrist reassured me, while I fractured a bone in my big toe, that nothing was displaced and that with an ace bandage and a special shoe it would likely knit together in eight weeks time and heal just fine.

So, I hobbled around, went to Europe, cut out my power-walks and have just come from my three-week check up. The X-rays confirm just what he said. The joint at my big toe is unharmed, the little crack or whatever it is in my toe is healing just fine. My toe’s still a little tender, which he said is normal, I’m still sporting a dull purple bruise where the greatest impact hit, and that area of skin remains a dull purple, but everything’s OK.

When I got the upgrade flying to Holland on the 10 PM flight, this sleepless soul on a night flight, was flying high before we even took off. But as great as that gift was, knowing my blood sugar is well-enough controlled that a foot injury causes me no special trouble or damage, that’s the best gift I could have.

It reminds me that when all the work of managing diabetes feels so thankless, you may just find a time when the every day slog of managing your blood sugar really is worth it – especially when the shit hits your foot. 

Now I just have to ask my psychic-witchy Aunt, who predicted when I was in my twenties that in my fifties I’d have a series of troublesome but not dire health problems, if we’re done.