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.

Pay It Forward

payitforwardDo you pay it forward when you can?  I do my best to when given the opportunity.  Friday I got to pay it forward while I was at work.  I work in a call center for a major cell phone provider.  While talking to one of my customers on Friday about why his bill was so much higher this month, he mentioned in conversation that his 16 year old daughter was recently released from the hospital after being very sick from her diabetes.  He didn’t yet know what I do as a diabetes advocate.

I kinda got side tracked from helping him about his bill, and started asking him questions about his daughter and her diabetes.  She’s 16 now, and was dx around 9 years old.  She had started to take care of her diabetes herself, but it got out of hand, causing her to get sick for many reasons.  Then I explained to him that I’ve been type 1 since I was 2 years old, and that I’m now 44, and I’m an online diabetes advocate.  I’m not allowed to give him my contact information so I just suggested he Google “rich the diabetic” to find me online, and to have his daughter read my story because she might not be as lucky as me.  This is why I blog.  I save people from themselves by sharing my story, before it happens to them.  To inspire them to live positively with diabetes.  I told him about some other resources, and about the diabetic online community, which may be a big help to his daughter, and to his whole family.

His bill wasn’t very high compared to most customers, so I worked some magic, I corrected his bill, finished up the call, and he asked me how he can thank me for all the help with his bill and his daughter.  I just said “pay it forward man, just pay it forward”.  Later that night, his wife and his daughter contacted me.  If you’re watching ladies, I hope that you find the support you need, and please say hello to your father/husband for me.  *waves*

 

 

Doesn’t it feel amazing when you pay it forward?  Make the commitment to pay it forward next week.  Do something big for someone.  Something they can’t do for themselves.  Then ask them to pay it forward.

The Best Diabetes Support Group In The World

diabetic-online-communityThe Diabetes Advocates have an initiative to help people get started with the diabetic online community (#doc), the best diabetes support group in the world.  I say that because the #doc is international.  I have #doc peeps in the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Australia, Asia, and more I’m sure I’m forgetting.  In any case, I hope this article help’s you get started.

When I first discovered the diabetic online community, I wasn’t looking for it.  Someone had encouraged me as a Beachbody coach to use Twitter to find potential customers using hashtags.  I resisted for months.  I hated Twitter.  How can 140 characters be used to communicate effectively?  I thought it was stupid.  Besides that, all I could find is thousands of other coaches looking for customers, or I’d get spammed by fitness and nutrition companies.  Ugh.  They continued to encourage me, and I kept going back and trying new things to get me like using Twitter.

Then I discovered Tweetdeck.  I realized I could create columns that would only show me posts for the hastags I entered.  Shortly thereafter I searched on the hashtag #diabetes, out of curiosity.  I found a few fellow type 1’s, and started reading posts.  Added some diabetic friends, and actually started using Twitter and enjoying it.  Then I started to notice the hashtag #doc being used a lot.  I asked someone what that meant, and was told it meant “diabetes online community”, and created another column for that.  Next I noticed a hashtag used often that seemed to be people posting their blood sugars.  It was #bgnow.  Now a lightbulb went off.  I could find REAL PEOPLE, that were all diabetic, using these hashtags, creating columns in Tweetdeck that only showed me their posts.  No spammers, no companies, no network marketers, and I slowly started to add diabetics to my twitter list.  I was slowly becoming a member of the diabetes online community.

So how do you get started in the best diabetes support group in the entire world?  You download Tweetdeck, or something similar.  Then create some hastag filters.  The most common hashtags you can use to find other diabetics on Twitter are:

#bgnow – blood glucose now

#bigbluetest – diabetics that are physically active

#dblog – diabetes blog

#doc – diabetes online community

#dsma – diabetes social media advocacy

Soon you’ll become a master of #hashtags.  You can find a mini library of common #doc hashtags here: Diabetes Hashtags.  Twitter is where I discovered the #doc, and it’s where the heart of the #doc is.  If you go to my Twitter profile, and look for my Twitter lists, you’ll find multiple lists with real people, real diabetics, that you can connect with.  I don’t want to post those links here, because the lists might be used to spam my diabetes peeps.  I hope you’ll understand.  You can find my profile here:  https://twitter.com/richthediabetic/

So when I found the #doc, I wasn’t looking for it, but OMG am I glad I found it.  I’ve always been a loner when it comes to my diabetes, and I’ve been ok with that, but now I don’t have to be alone anymore.  It’s nice, ya know?  There was nothing cooler than going to my first dinner party with other #doc members, and seeing everyone reach for their CGMs at the same time as the food started coming.  Man was that neat.  The #doc has filled a hole that I didn’t know I had.  I hope it can do the same for you.

 

What do you get a diabetic for Valentine’s Day?

LoveSo I don’t usually get really excited for Valentines Day because like Halloween (Samhain), it’s usually surrounded by candy and chocolate.  So if not chocolate or candy, what?  What could you get a diabetic, that would convey your love, friendship, or affection.  What you get someone might depend on the level of your relationship with them.  Of course flowers would be a good choice.  Even some guys I know enjoy flowers.  One of my guy friends even breeds champion orchids.  Most girls I know like flowers and especially red roses, well . . . 1 girl I dated didn’t.  She liked black roses.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find black roses?  OMG!  (I’m so busted if she reads this.)  Anyway, so flowers are nice.  A heartfelt card, with some poetic words that convey something you can’t convey in your own words.  These are all nice non-food gifts, but I think what really makes a Valentine special, is a small token made by ones own hand.  Something you’ve put your loving energy into.  A flower or plant you’ve grown yourself, a piece of jewelry you’ve hand crafted, a poem you’ve written, a piece of art you’ve created.  Those are what I think make the most meaningful Valentines gifts . . . for anyone . . . and they work great for a diabetic friend or loved one since they try to avoid carbs.

In the DMSA blog carnival this month, it was suggested that we offer YOU . . . our readers, commenters, and lurkers (Do I have lurkers?!  COOL!), a special valentine.  So here is a collection of my nature photography, selected just for you . . . . .


Happy Valentines Day DOC!!! by richthediabetic
Thanks for all of your support and encouragement in the last year.  Thanks for your comments, tweets, and posts.  You let me know that I’m actually making a difference in someone’s life.

 

May you find the love your looking for this Valentines Day . . . . . 

This post is my February entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2013/february-dsma-blog-carnival-2/

The Diabetic Tribe or Diabetic Online Community

Tribes by Seth Godin on AmazonI like to call the Diabetic Online Community the “Diabetic Tribe”, or #diatribe.  I say this, because we’re much more than just a community, we – are – a – TRIBE.  I once had the privilege of seeing Seth Godin speak, who is the author of a book called “Tribes”.  A tribe is a group of people who want to be connected, and who want to share ideas.  Tribes have become a powerful force of change in our world, thanks to the internet, as demonstrated by our own Diabetes Hands Foundation and their Big Blue Test last year.  Our tribe connects people who might otherwise feel desperate and alone.  It offers hope and support to those struggling to live with diabetes.  It lets us know that others struggle just like we do.  Our tribe, is international, and without boundaries.  Our tribe brings about change, in a massive, and wonderful way.  Everyone one of us, introduces friends to the tribe.  Every one of us has participated in a “movement” to bring change, to bring hope, or to fight for a cure.  Our tribe provides information and advice for our diabetes, and allows us to live healthier.  And finally, our tribe fills a need that every human being has.  To be missed.  We all want to be missed, and when we are absent from the DOC, we are missed.  One of my favorite quotes is from Seth Godin.  It’s “Don’t strive to be heard.  Strive to be missed when you’re not heard.”  

I have been type 1 diabetic for 42 years.  I have never had a close friend that’s type 1 diabetic.  I never really felt the need to meet other diabetics.  I’ve known a few type 1’s over the years, but just really didn’t connect with them about diabetes much.  I’ve never been to a support group, never did a diabetes walk until a couple years ago.  I’ve always been a rather solitary diabetic all my life.  I was ok with that too.  Thanks to the DOC though, now I have more diabetic friends than I can count.  I only discovered the DOC about a year ago.  I discovered it via Twitter, and when I first started trying to use Twitter, I absolutely hated it.  I even quit for a few months.  Then I tried it again, and when I discovered the DOC, I didn’t even know what it was.  I had to ask someone what #doc means.  I started to realize how the DOC communicates with hash tags (#), and slowly started to become more and more involved.  Meeting new people all the time, making new friends constantly, started posting regular daily motivation and tips, started blogging for diabetes and health the way I used to blog for photography.  People started asking me for advice.  Telling me how much my words and advice helped them, or their diabetic children.  The DOC filled a need I didn’t realize I had.  Helping people.  Teaching people.  I’m 44 years old, and I’ve never really had that feeling of “I’m here for a reason”, . . . until now.  I know why I’m here, and I know why my life spared in 2003 when my heart stopped.  I have to help diabetics.  There are many sleepless nights now, that I wouldn’t trade for the world, where I sit here blogging because I NEED to help someone, through my writing or my videos.  If I’m helping just 1 person with diabetes, I’m making a change for the better in someone’s life.  That’s why I’m here.  That’s why I found our tribe.

Boy, that was deep wasn’t it?  Whew.  I hope I haven’t lost ya yet.  So anyway, the DOC has helped me too.  I’ve been a brittle diabetic all my life.  I’ve been insanely lucky that so far I’ve only had 1 big complication after 42 years, which could be corrected.  Well, since discovering the DOC, I’ve felt the need to improve my diabetes control if I’m going to be a diabetes advocate.  In March of 2012, my hemoglobin A1C was 11.4.  Yeah, I know.  I said I was always brittle, right?!  In October it was all the way down to 8.9, in just 6 months.  I’m hoping for a score of 7.5 by next month.  So that idiot Dr. that said the DOC doesn’t help with our diabetes, . . .  IS WRONG.  Being a member of the DOC, and an advocate for all of you, has improved my health more than I could have imagined.  It’s also made me feel like I belong.  It’s allowed me to make a difference in the lives of individuals, and to make a difference in a worldwide cause.  It’s made me feel like I’m missed when I’m not there.  It’s been great meeting you all, and I look forward to meeting even more in 2013.

Dr. Jason Bronner from UCSD Medical Center obviously has no concept of the power of our tribe.  He’s quoted as saying in an NPR interview “There’s no proof in diabetes that social networking is helpful.”  Don’t underestimate the power of the force Dr. Bronner.  ———->  See Diabetes Advocates open letter to NPR regarding Dr. Bronner’s comments.

The universe really wanted me to write this tonight.  It bombarded me with multiple inputs today, all having a similar ethereal thread.  Since I like to refer to myself as a paleobetic cyborg pumper, I thought I’d leave you with a quote from my favorite android, that I heard tonight while listening to TV as I was writing this blog.  It was a huge coincidence (or fate) that I played THAT particular episode tonight on Netflix.

“As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them.  The inputs eventually are anticipated, and even missed when absent.” – Counselor Deanna Troi impersonating Lt . Commander Data.  

 

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

 

New Year with Diabetes : Striving for ___ in 2013!

DSMA-logo-2012-LGThis is my first ever entry into the DSMA blog carnival.  Ok, so lets get this done.  In 2013, I’m striving for an A1C of 7.0 or below.  In all my life as a type 1 diabetic, I never really even understood what that A1C score was for.  Never paid attention to it.  I only got it checked every few years or so, by doctors that had no clue about how to treat type 1 diabetes.  I never really lived my life like a diabetic.  Didn’t even know what an endocrinologist was, until my cardiac arrest in the summer of 2003.  I didn’t even start to understand my diabetes until after my cardiac arrest, and it wasn’t my doctors that got me interested in understanding it, it was bodybuilders!  When I went through cardiac rehab, that got me hooked on exercising, so I found a trainer . . . . . that just happened to be a competitive bodybuilder.  TrainerThat’s him off the right.  That was in late 2003.  I surrounded myself in that lifestyle, although I wasn’t a bodybuilder.  It was those bodybuilders who began to teach me about insulin.  Bodybuilders understand insulin better than most diabetics, and even better than most endocrinologists.  I began to understand metabolism, exercise, nutrition, etc.  2011 rolled around, and I started a home business as a Team Beachbody coach, which made me become even more interested in improving my diabetes.  Then, in early 2012, I discovered the 2 things that have been instrumental in improving my diabetes.  The paleo lifestyle, and the diabetes online community (#doc).  Slowly over the last year, I’ve become even more of a nutrition nazi, and biochemistry hobbyist.  Reading book after book, learning more and more about insulin, metabolism, biochemistry, and more.  I’ve read more books this year than any other year of my life!  All of them on nutrition.  (I’m going to start a book review series on this blog as a matter of fact!)  Although I’m an online diabetes advocate now, that doesn’t mean I’m a perfect diabetic.  It does make me want to improve my A1C to a respectable level if I’m going to be an advocate though.  I struggle just like everybody else.  My A1C did drop by 2.5 points in 6 months last year, which I was really excited about.  Still a little way to go to reach 7.0, but I’ll make it.  I have a lot of people that have thanked me for what I do in the online community, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you.  Were it not for all of you, I wouldn’t be improving nearly as well as I have over the last year.  In helping you, I’m helping myself.  thanks Diabetes Online Community (DOC)!!!

 

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

This post is my January entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2013/january-dsma-blog-carnival-2/

What Causes Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

300Diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetics everywhere know this term, . . . I hope.  What is diabetic ketoacidosis?  How is it different than ketosis?

I’ll start by explaining ketosis, and try to keep the sciencey (Yes it’s a word.  It’s MY word.) stuff to a minimum.  Ketosis is a natural body process that occurs when your muscles require fuel, but there’s none in your system.  That fuel starts out as carbs.  If you don’t get enough carbs, your body will naturally enter ketosis when your body starts to break down your fat, thus producing ketone bodies which it can use as fuel.  Your brain and your heart actually run more efficiently on ketones, than they do on glucose.  Our bodies were built to do this, to survive when there was no game to hunt, no plants to forage, no food nearby.  This is NOT dangerous, . . . it’s natural, unless you’re diabetic.  Why is it only dangerous for diabetics?

Because ketone bodies are acidic, and when they reach a certain level, a non-diabetic will secrete insulin, which reduces the ketones just like it does blood glucose.  We of course don’t have this mechanism.  When a diabetic gets ketones, and their blood glucose is above 250, this is the formula for diabetic ketoacidosis.  I know what you’re thinking.  I still haven’t told you what causes it.  Well, here we go.

What causes it is simply a lack of insulin or fuel.  A lack of insulin caused by a faulty infusion set, simply not taking your insulin, being sick and dehydrated, or not eating enough carbs.  The reason your body would enter ketosis is that it doesn’t have enough fuel in the form of carbs, OR . . . it has plenty of fuel, but not enough insulin to get it into the muscle cells.  If the body cannot process or does not have fuel, it will create it by breaking down fat.  This is ketosis.  NOW, your body can’t use the carbs you’ve eaten due to lack of insulin, AND ketones are rising because of lack of insulin.  Rising ketones turn your blood acidic.  This is what can kill you.  If you’re sick and you’re vomiting or have diarrhea, it’s even worse because that creates dehydration which causes insulin resistance!  Ever had ketones while you’re sick, and wonder why in the heck you have to take 3 times the insulin to bring down your blood sugar and ketones?  You need insulin for the blood sugar, for the ketones, and to compensate for the insulin resistance.  Now I can see the wheels turning in your head.

When you go to the hospital, they’re going to treat you with a saline IV, an insulin drip, and electrolytes.  These treat all of the symptoms of DKA all at once, and bring you back to normal.  Your dehydration, your high blood sugar, your high ketones, and your low electrolytes.  So . . . clear as mud now?  Well, I hope it’s clearer than mud for you.

 

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

Hypoglycemia Symptoms With Normal Blood Sugars

photoCANM2EOXHave you ever had hypoglycemia symptoms, but when you check your blood sugar, you’re completely normal?  So then you wait 20 minutes, check again, and you’re blood sugar hasn’t changed.  Yet you still feel hypoglycemic?  It’s kind of a phantom hypo.  Yeah, I have too.  Annoying right?

Recently I’ve seen a lot of tweets that people were experiencing this syndrome, and could not explain it.  Then suddenly it happened to me a few times in a few days.  It’s happened to me before, if only rarely, but all of this chatter about it made me want to know what the heck is going on.  When we ARE hypoglycemic, we know what to do to correct it, but what are we suppose to do when we have symptoms, and we ARE NOT hypoglycemic?  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather deal with high blood sugar than low blood sugar.  High blood sugar affects my body, which I can deal with, but low blood sugar affects my mind, and I can’t handle losing my mind.  So I needed to know how to fix this.

Well, I think I’ve found the answer.  Everybody’s symptoms of a hypo are different, and mine even change every so often.  So I went looking for my symptoms on the web, and kept finding the same thing over and over.  A combination of dehydration, and low electrolytes.  My last post was specifically about the spiraling hole that dehydration can cause for a diabetic, and the importance of correcting it.  What are the symptoms of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance?  They’re almost the same, and include but are not limited to:

  • Irritability
  • Light Headedness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Weakness or Fatigue
  • Irregular Heartbeat

Do those symptoms look familiar?  Looks like hypo symptoms for most people right?  So what if our phantom hypo is really dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance?  Well, I tested this theory.  Last week, when I had my last phantom hypo, and I started researching all this stuff, I reached for my carb free protein powder, which has a good dose of electrolytes in it.  I mixed up a shake, gulped it down, and 15 minutes later my symptoms were gone!  Now, I’m not saying this is definitive by any means, but I’d recommend you go ask your educator or endocrynologist about this.

Some of my favorite foods that are high in electrolytes are bananas, avocados, leafy greens,  some fish, some seeds, and more.   There are many sports electrolyte drinks out there, but I don’t recommend them because they are have carbs.  There are also things like Emergen C Electrolytes, and Pedialyte, but I think they have carbs too?

So the next time you have phantom hypo symptoms with a normal blood sugar, you might be low on electrolytes?  Again, please ask your endocrinologist or diabetes educator about this before taking action.

 

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

 

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