D&D and Diabetes

Dungeons & DragonsI’m a fanboy of Diabetic Danica, and she’s always posting about the interesting situations in which she encounters and makes friends with new type 1 diabetics.  Tonight I had such an encounter while playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with a new group of people.

30 years ago I was very into role-playing and miniatures battles as a hobby.  There were a lot of different games that I played.  I was a teenager when I started, and I played through my mid twenties.  I grew out of it over time, and I hadn’t played in about 20 years, until this year.  I’ve been slowing re-entering the gaming world starting with Pathfinder 7 months ago, then tabletop board games and Vampire the Masquerade over the summer, and now X-Wing battles and D&D again this winter.  D&D is what got me started when I was 14.  Tonight was my first D&D game since I was oh, about 25.  I was stoked to play again, and I knew the dungeon master, but not the other 5  players.

If you’re not a gamer, you may not know that killing monsters makes you hungry.  So we’re all snacking around the table while we shoot arrows, cast spells, and clobber things.  I check my Dex as I’m eating some tasty barbecue chips, then look at the bag to get the carbs so I can bolus with my pump.  We were about half way through this dungeon crawl, hunting goblins and bugbears, when I look over at this young guy (early 20’s) who has a diabetic kit open with his insulin and syringes to bolus!  Instant bonding moment.  We forget about the goblins and start talking diabetes.  Then everyone else starts asking us questions about friends and family members who have diabetes.  The poor dungeon master (DM) didn’t know what to do.  LOL!  I pointed out that we could finish our diabetes talk at the end of the night, and got us back on track for the DM.  At the end of the night we had killed all the goblins, saved the hostage, and filled our pockets with loot.  We had a hell of time keeping our cleric alive, and he’s the one who’s suppose to heal the rest of us!

After the game, I invited him to our local support group, told him about the diabetic online community (#doc), and we talked for a while about our common condition.  He mentioned that he doesn’t really know many type 1 diabetics, and he’s interested in advocacy too.  So I can’t wait to introduce him to the online community, and help him get involved.   Isn’t it always just the coolest when this sort of thing happens?  The one place I’d NEVER expect to meet a fellow T1 is in a room full of gamer geeks.  Wicked cool.  Where’s the most interesting place you’ve ever met a fellow T1D?  Leave a comment!

Diabetes Paranoia

Lake MurrayThis week, I’m on vacation visiting my lifelong friend Suzette in South Carolina.  Tonight she suggested calling her friend Amanda who has a boat, so we can go out on Lake Murray for a couple hours.  (They’re the cute ones in the picture.)  It was a beautiful day for this, so I grab my man purse with my diabetes gear, check my blood sugar (#bgnow 180ish with no insulin on board), and throw about 36c worth of smarties into my gear bag just in case.  Then I remember that each time I’ve gone outside to do anything with friends this summer, my blood sugar crashes, so I eat 1 roll (6g carbs) of Smarties just to be safe because it’s pretty hot outside and heat lowers my blood sugar.  My last outdoor activity with friends was a major contributor to my paranoia this time.

As we pull into the parking lot of the marina, worst case scenarios start going through my mind, just for a moment.  Just so I can make sure I’d be prepared for them.  I don’t let the girls know I’m doing this.  In fact, I keep all of the feelings going through my mind to myself until after our wonderful boating trip was over.  So anyway, all of our phones were working and charged.  The girls had carbs in their bag and I had my smarties.  My blood sugar was comfortably riding high.  Starting to climb over 200.  I’m ok with this, because Lake Murray is HUGE and I have no idea how long we were going to be out on the water.  I also didn’t want to limit our trip because of my diabetes.

The breeze from the moving boat is wonderful, the weather is beautiful, and what am I thinking about?  “We’re getting awfully far from shore?  What if the boat stalls?  What if the faulty gas guage lets us run of gas? What’s my blood sugar now?”  Then I realize I’m drinking beer, and I remember that alcohol makes blood sugar drop.  I check my blood sugar again.  Leveled out at about 240.  Good.

We have a wonderful time cruising the lake, then the girls want to jump into the nice warm water, . . . . . and the ignition is turned off.  Inside, that panic alert goes off.  Calm Rich, . . .  calm, . . . calm.  The internal dialog starts “What if it doesn’t start?  Did I remember seeing oars in the hold?  The shore is right over there.  We could paddle by hand if we needed to if my blood sugar crashes out here.”  So I check my blood sugar.  #bgnow 221.  Oh crap.  Calm Rich.  Calm.

The girls get into the water, have a nice swim, we get back to the marina, and all is well.  #bgnow was 224.  I got to enjoy a beautiful couple hours on the late with Suzette and Amanda, but diabetes was always on my mind.  Wait?  Isn’t that a Willie Nelson song?

Does diabetes make you a little paranoid sometimes?  Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Mental Health and Diabetes #dblogweek

dblogweekThere’s a lot of talk in the diatribe lately about mental health and diabetes.  I don’t actually relate to this, which kinda makes me feel like an outsider in the #doc?  You see, I don’t get depressed about my diabetes.  I do feel fear sometimes when I think about complications and/or if my blood sugar is like, . . . I don’t know, 12.  I think that’s normal, but it always fades quickly, and I move on.  I think I was spared this complication of diabetes since I was diagnosed at age 2, so I never knew life without it.  I don’t compare life now, to life then, like most diabetics do that remember their diagnosis.  My diabetes is just a part of me.  It always has been.  Maybe I just don’t remember depression with diabetes?  Maybe I got depressed as a kid due to diabetes, but I honestly just don’t remember.  I know I had times where I didn’t much care about my diabetes, but that’s not depression, that’s just stupidity.  (Is it possible to Gibbs slap yourself?)

I’ve never been “diagnosed” with depression, although I was diagnosed with anxiety for a short time (6 months) after my open heart surgery in 2003, so maybe you could relate that to my diabetes, since diabetes caused the cardiac arrest?  I do get depressed rarely about other things in my life.  When I start slipping into that hole of depression, you won’t hear from me, because I don’t want anyone to know that I’m weak and I can’t handle whatever is bothering me.  It’s not a nice place, and I know how to drag myself out of it now, so I never slip that deep into the hole like I did once way back in the day.  It’s never been diabetes that puts me in that hole though.  It probably “affects” my diabetes on the rare occasion when I get depressed these days.  In any case, I found this video last week while surfing Feedly, that I wanted to share with you from the You Can Do This Project about mental health and diabetes.  If you’re mental health is suffering, I hope the video helps you connect with someone who you can relate to, and possibly reach out to.  Blessed be . . . . .


Stumbling in the Dark – Poetry #dblogweek

dblogweekSo one morning a few weeks ago, as I woke up, the following poem spewed from my fog filled brain, recounting the night before.  I couldn’t find pen and paper fast enough, so I just blasted it into a Facebook post and posted it so I wouldn’t forget it.  When I did that, my friend Desiree commented that I should submit it to the No Sugar Added Poetry site, and since today is No Sugar Added Poetry day during #dblogweek, I figured I’d post it here.  I have a family full of poets, and I’ve written my fair share too, but this was actually my very first diabetes poem.  I hope you enjoy it.


Stumbling in the Dark
No Sugar Added Poetry
A poem by Rich the Diabetic


Middle of the night.
Dexcom screaming.
Stumbling in the dark.
Can’t find Dex.
There it is!

Gobble up glucose.
How many is that?
Three, five, ten?
I don’t care.

Morning comes.

Youth Speaks – The Bigger Picture

youth-speaks-bigger-picture-spoken-wordYouth Speaks is the name of a San Francisco Bay Area non-profit and spoken word youth organization. I love spoken word artists, and sub to some of them on YouTube, which is how I found Youth Speaks a long time ago. One of the their projects is called “The Bigger Picture”, and it’s all about type 2 diabetes. They have some FREAKING AMAZING spoken word artists that have done type 2 diabetes videos on their YouTube channel. Their videos are professionally produced, and it’s a great channel to get lost in for a few hours. Here are my favorite videos from Youth Speaks and The Bigger Picture.  I invite you to follow the links below to learn more about them and work they do.  For an in depth account of Youth Speaks, visit Diabetes Mine.





My Fear of Hypoglycemia

HypoglycemiaDo you have a fear of hypoglycemia?  I’ve been type 1 diabetic for 44 years now.  I can’t possibly count how many hypos I’ve had.  I’ve survived hypo seizures that should have killed me.  You’d think that after 44 years I’d either be an expert at diabetes, or that I’d at least be used to hypoglycemia, but no, I still fear hypo’s like nobody’s business.

Over the years my hypo symptoms have changed.  When I was a kid, my tongue and fingers would tingle.  When I reached my teen years, my body would get this weird sensation that I can’t really describe?  Kinda like your skin was crawling?  Then a little older and I would get berserker angry and my vision would blur.  Years later it changed to my sentences not making any sense to those around me, and not being able to speak clearly.  Now what happens is that I feel like I have sudden bouts of alzheimers or something.  Like suddenly I’ll realize that I can’t concentrate.  I’ll be trying desperately to formulate a sentence, and then I realize I can’t, and then I realize it’s because I’m hypo.  The overwhelming feeling of not being in control of your mind is terrifying.

So to avoid being hypo, I sometimes do things that I know I shouldn’t.  Like if I’ve been battling frequent hypos all day, I’ll eat something before bed, and not bolus, so I can ride the night out high.  Or if I’m out of glucose tabs, and I know it, and I want to play disc golf for a couple hours, I’ll eat, and bolus less than I’m suppose to so I don’t have to worry about hypos on the course.  I know this isn’t good for me, but if you’ve experienced some of the hypos I have, you’d be saying “right on brother”.  Do you do similar things to avoid hypos?

Now, here’s an amusing hypoglycemia story for you.  My mom told me this story a while back, and I almost couldn’t believe it.  Once when I was about 7 years old, I was acting like my blood sugar was low, so she told me to go check my urine (we used litmus style yellow tape that you peed on back then).  Normally I would have gone into the bathroom, but no.  What do I do?  I walk over to the fridge, litmus tape in hand, open the door, and proceed to pee in the fridge.  Yep, I totally did that while hypo.  LOL!

The Costs of Diabetes Innovation #notjustagadget

Diabetes Innovation and TechnologyRecently on the New York Times website, reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal wrote an article titled “Even Small Medical Advances Can Mean Big Jumps in Bills”.  This article paints a well painted picture of the rising costs of diabetes innovation, and diabetes care.  If you haven’t read it, I suggest doing so.  Many in the diabetes online community have taken offense to the article though.  The only thing I take offense to is Dr. Joel Zonszein.  His comments are also where the majority of the diabetic online community has found offense in the article.  Below is a quote from the article where Dr. Zonszein is referring to people with diabetes and their insulin pumps, high tech meters, continuous glucose monitors, and other diabetes technology:

JP-PROCEDURES-5-superJumbo“They may be better in some abstract sense, but the clinical relevance is minor,” said Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center.  “People don’t need a meter that talks to them,” he added. “There’s an incredible waste of money.”

*sigh* . . . . . *shakes head*  There are no words . . . . . 

Dr. Zonszein is just an ABSOLUTE TOOL.  What an idiot.  I have a feeling that even a reader with an IQ of 2 would realize he’s an idiot and pay no attention to his statements.  I found the rest of Elisabeth’s article, as well as the replies to her article in the diabetes online community, educational and informative.  The costs of our technology for improving diabetes care, has no visible ceiling, which is frightening.  I feel lucky that I have decent insurance, and I can afford my healthcare costs, but many can’t.  I’ve been in those shoes before, where I had to ration my supplies to survive.  It’s not a nice place to be.  If the article has done nothing else, it’s opened the eyes of many, to the financial burden that we face as diabetics.  This is a good thing.

I’m A “Diabetic” And That’s Ok

I am a DIABETICSomething I’ve never understood in the diabetic online community (#doc), is the negativity surrounding the use of the word “diabetic”.  Many in the #doc have an extreme negative perception of that word.  My guest blogging is usually edited to remove this word, replaced with “person with diabetes” or PWD.  I don’t like that my work is edited in this way, but I understand why they do it.  Using the words “person with diabetes”, instead of the word “diabetic”, will not make your diabetes go away.  It won’t make it easier, it won’t make it better.  “Diabetic” is simply an adjective.  It’s not intended to insult anyone, it’s not a 4 letter word, it’s simply an adjective used to describe a proper name.  No one other than the #doc is even aware that some diabetics find the word offensive.  I am a diabetic, and that’s ok.  I do not fear that word.  You didn’t have a choice when you got diabetes, but you have a CHOICE with how you respond to being referred to as a diabetic.

So many people fear their diabetes, and I can definitely understand that, especially if you’ve lived most of your life without diabetes.  But then some people become angry that diabetes robbed them of a normal life.  That’s where the problem begins, because: “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate . . . . . leads to S-U-F-F-E-R-I-N-G.”  I know that quote was made by a wrinkly green puppet, but those words have widsom none the less.  If you harbor these emotions towards your diabetes all your life, how will you ever enjoy life?  How will you ever be happy?  If you have so much fear of the word “diabetic”, or worse, so much hatred of the word, I would worry that you will never find happiness again as a diabetic.  That feeling will rob you of happiness.  It’s just a word, and you’re going to be diabetic for the rest of your life.  There are many diabetics like me that live a happy normal life as a diabetic.  Join us.  Negative emotions are such a waste of good energy, and they create so much drama.  Why not apply all that energy to something more positive?  I invite you to focus our minds on positive energy, instead of creating negative energy.  Let go of your hatred of your diabetes.  It’s a part of you now.  Embrace it, and be at peace.

Avocados – A Superfood For Diabetes

avocadosAs a diabetic, I love AVOCADOS!  So why do I love avocados, and why are they so good for those with diabetes?  Well first, it’s all fat, and it’s all good for you.  It’s yummy like butter, except instead of killing you, it’s saving you.  I know, I know.  Big claims, but why?

First, let me just say that Weight Watchers is STUPID for putting avocados on their avoid list with their new Simple Start plan.  Anyway, here are the basic nutrient wonders of an avocado.  An average medium California avocado has about 320 cal, 17g carbs, 13g fiber, 30g fat, 4g saturated fat, 20g monounsaturated fat, 4g polyunsaturated fat,  and numerous vitamins and minerals, including the ever so important electrolytes potassium and magnesium.  In fact, an avocado usually has 3 times more potassium than a banana does.

Now lets break that down.  320 calories.  That’s pretty high, right?  So what!  With everything you get in this wonder fruit, it’s worth it.  Yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable.  It’s sometimes called an “alligator pear”.  17c carbs and 13g fiber.  As T1D’s, you know that’s a really odd ratio, and it seems that you may not even need to take any insulin when you eat one of these things, because we always substract the fiber from the carbs to calculate our insulin needs.  I know I don’t take any when I eat one.  That’s part of why I love them.  30g fat.  That’s high too, right?  So what!  Fat doesn’t make you fat, carbs do, and with no insulin, you can’t store fat anyway.  You get 20g of monounsaturated fat with these little green wonders, which is a roto rooter for your arteries.  That’s a massive dose!  Monounsaturated fat raises HDL cholesterol (the good kind), which collects bad fats from all over the body and takes them to the liver.  When your HDL reaches a certain level, compared to your overall cholesterol number, you’re considered “protected” from heart disease.  We as diabetics must worry about our cholesterol because diabetes can lead to heart disease.  As a diabetic who’s already died of heart disease once (for about 60 seconds, and was then rushed into emergency quad bypass), I can say that my last cholesterol test was near this heart protective range with no medication.  That range is below 3.5:1.  Doctors get worried when you go above 5:1.  Now lets finish up, and talk about those electrolytes.  You ever get a headache, get cranky, have muscle pain, and then realize your blood sugar’s off the roof?  You’re getting those symptoms because of electrolyte imbalance, caused by your high blood sugar.  If you’ve ever been treated for DKA, you already know about this.  Blood sugar goes up, body tries to level it out by evacuating water from kidneys, which reduces electrolyte levels.  The body cannot function without electrolytes.  So avocados help us diabetics keep electrolytes levels up.

So the benefits of avocados for diabetics are:  Low insulin needs, increases good cholesterol, and keeps electrolyte levels up.  Oh, and with that much fiber, it’ll make ya poop the way you’re suppose to.  ;P

So how do you eat an avocado?  Well, I’m to lazy to do anything fancy with an avocado.  I just cut the thing in half with a big sharp knife (Carefully, click here to learn how:  http://youtu.be/eI-IVnwnbyg ), take out the huge seed, and scoop it out with a spoon.  So yummy in my tummy.  The first time I bought an avocado, I had no one to teach me how to know if they were ripe.  Mine was not, and I could not eat it.  A ripe avocado will be a very dark green, almost black.  It’s not ripe if it’s bright green, and it’s over ripe if it’s black or brown.  Ripe will be barely soft if you gently press your thumb into the skin when you pick it up.  If it’s ripe like this when you take it home, you can’t let it sit there for a few days.  You have eat it quickly, or it’ll go bad.  To make them last longer, I buy a whole bag when they’re not yet ripe, then stick them in the fridge until I need one.  Set it out a couple days, and it ripens.  I enjoy avocados on sushi, salads, sandwiches, or wherever I want.  I just let other people prepare it that way for me.

Now I’d like to provide you with some helpful links to more information about what I’ve talked about today.  As someone taking control of your own health, you have the responsibility to do your own research, and not take what I’ve said for granted.  Google things, click these links, have fun with the research, and then go eat an avocado.

Avocados:  http://www.avocado.org/about-california-avocados/

Dietary Fats:  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/

Electrolytes:  http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/lifestyle/weather/stoppler_07_19_06


Shakeology Recipes

shakeology-recipesI’m a type 1 diabetic Beachbody coach, who drinks and recommends Shakeology, both to diabetics and non-diabetics.  When used properly, Shakeology and diabetes can make a great partnership.  It can help with your blood sugar profile, as well as all the other health and nutrition benefits it can provide.  However, many people who drink Shakeology, enjoy creating Shakeology recipes.  You have to be careful creating these recipes, or you turn the healthiest meal of the day, into something worse than a Snickers bar.  The recipe you see in this post is exactly such a recipe.

I am an admitted nutrition nazi.  I don’t believe in any nutritional product advertising, until I see the label (case and point: Advocare Spark says it’s sugar free, yet is has 11 carbs and 45 calories).  So the fact that I use, recommend, and believe in Shakeology, is a pretty big deal.  The benefit of drinking Shakeology, is that it’s a dense daily dose of nutrition, in a single glass.  The majority of the American people don’t get much nutrition in their diet, so drinking Shakeology in it’s pure form, mixing it only with unsweetened almond milk, or similar, can provide you with the dense daily dose of nutrition that it promises.  For a diabetic, most of the flavors provide a nice slow rise in blood sugar due to low carbs and high fiber.

Now, lets get to that recipe above.  Ok, so it’s a fan favorite.  Gee, I wonder why?  Could it be that it has as many carbs and sugars as 2 Snickers bars?!  Lets do the math.

Vanilla Shakeology                                       14g carbs          7 sugars
1/2c Unsweetened Almond Milk                     0g carbs          0 sugars
1/2c Yoplait Greek Vanilla Yogurt                  33g carbs        26 sugars
1/2 Banana                                                    13g carbs          7 sugars
1tbsp Peanut Butter                                        4g carbs          2 sugars
1tbsp Raw Honey                                          17g carbs         17 sugars

Totals                                                             81g carbs         59 sugars

Snickers                                                         35g carbs         30 sugars

We started with a healthy shake with only 14 carbs and 7 sugars, but due to this particualar Shakeology recipe, we ended up with 81 carbs and 59 sugars.  No wonder it’s a fan favorite!!!  Although this Shakeology recipe tastes great, it’s turned that nutritionally dense shake into a fat storing monster because of all of those carbs and sugars.  59 sugars?  No one needs 59 sugars in a single meal.  Diabetic or not.  You shouldn’t even be eating that many sugars in a whole day!  Those 59 sugars and 81 carbs are going to produce an insulin spike that will put most of those carbs and sugars straight into your thighs, hips, or belly.  Now each of those ingredients in that recipe have their health benefits (well, except 1), but Shakeology doesn’t need them.  It’s nutritionally dense all by itself. Yes, honey is full of anti-oxidants, yes peanut butter has healthy fats, yes a banana is a great source of potassium, as far as the yogurt, well, I’ll just bite my tongue.

There is only 1 time of any day, where you should add things to your Shakeology, to get the maximum benefit.  That’s after your workout.  If you drink your Shakeology after every workout, then you SHOULD add some fruit carbs to it.  I still would never create a recipe like the one above though.  After you workout, you want fast carbs in your shake to produce an insulin response, but a small one, because the insulin is what makes your muscles grow.  You want it to happen fast after a workout, within 45 minutes.  Any other time of day though, and those extra carbs will most likely be stored as fat.  Using Shakeology as a recovery shake, adding some carbs and sugars is a good thing, as long as you don’t go freakin overboard.  59 sugars?  Geez.

So the moral of the story, is please don’t ruin your Shakeology.  Let it do it’s job, the way it was intended.  If you want to create Shakeology recipes, which admittedly are fun, then just make sure you’re drinking your Shakeology as a recovery shake after your workout.

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