Today is World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day.

I get the World (some days).

I get the Day (sometimes).

But I don’t get Diabetes, not really, especially my type of diabetes. It’s called Type 1. I don’t know where it came from (spoiler alert: there’s no family history). The post-diagnosis tests revealed no evidence of an autoimmune disorder (that’s when the body attacks itself with no real motive).

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World Diabetes Day: The Election And Some Busted Diabetes Myths

Today is World Diabetes Day, and since many people I come across often confuse Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, I want to take this opportunity to address a few myths about Type 1 diabetes.

But before I do that, I want to reflect on the distress of this past week. I’m not much of a political activist, and I was never enthusiastic about any of the candidates this election cycle. But having come to terms with who our country just elected to represent them, I feel I need to be more vocal (at least about the issues that affect me on a personal level), and I need to be better about standing up for those whose rights are in jeopardy.

That is my personal commitment in light of these election results. I will not judge based on your vote, and I will not give into the hate that is now plaguing our country (although it was difficult not to hate the white heterosexual male this past Wednesday but that’s unfair because I know plenty of white heterosexual males who voted in my favor).

But there’s something you have to know going forward. I’ve written about it a few times on this blog but not in depth. Mostly because I don’t like to give energy to negative entities, and I don’t want to draw myself into contentious battles with fellow family members and friends. And even though I wasn’t surprised by the outcome of this election (you have to remember I grew up in a red, conservative state), I was disappointed. Continue reading

A Not So ‘Silent Spring’

Rachel Carson Silent SpringIt should be amazing to me that in the six years since I’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and the four years I’ve been involved in the sustainability movement, I have yet to read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a classic for environmental health advocacy. This is the book that catapulted events leading to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the ban on the production of DDT (the effects of this chemical are sadly still with us today).

And yet it was published in 1962 by a woman. That was more than 50 years ago, and I admit Carson might appreciate that we have taken her words to heart, but she would probably be disappointed with the amount of toxic chemicals that still plague our homes and health statuses.

Even though my chronic disease is “autoimmune,” my body showed no evidence of this fact. And even though my doctors tell me it’s probably genetic, I have no family history. The media and scare over the diabetes epidemic would have you believe it’s my fault, but I’ve always taken good care of myself and have always been in good health until six years ago. Continue reading

Mind Your Bees

The honeybee lands on the upper part of my leg, and I let it sit there for a while. Its body is not as luminous as the bumble bee, but its faded brown and black stripes serve for better camouflage amidst the Kentucky foliage. I watch the middle school softball game unfold before me while I happily occupy the bench. I know I will strike out as soon as my name is called to the plate.

For now, I listen to the chatter of prepubescent girls nearby and wonder if I’m somehow different for not caring about the latest JTT fad or what flavor of Lip Smacker chapstick is popular this week. And then there are the girls that scream and jump up and down, swatting at the wasps and bees that occupy this space between the fence and the bleachers.

The teammate to my right, who is already tan for the summer and recently cut her mousy brown hair to her chin, looks down at the bee on my leg. It tickles as it moves around, and I hope it doesn’t attempt to burrow into my exposed skin. Continue reading

The Future of Diabetes Management

“I imagine being diagnosed as an adult would be harder because you remember life without it.”

“Yeah.” I nodded at the woman to my left, mother to an 11-year-old with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).

We were both first-timers to the JDRF TypeOneNational 2015 DC Research Summit yesterday. While many parents of children with diabetes attended the day-long event, I was among some of the adults who had been managing this disease for years.

I’m about to celebrate my sixth anniversary with this disease, one year closer to a decade. It’s hard to believe I’ve been managing the disease this long – it’s even harder to believe that I have many years to go. But like speaker Tom Brobson, national director of research investment opportunities at JDRF, reminded us, if we had all been diagnosed one hundred years ago, we wouldn’t have survived a month.

I’d like to believe on the starvation diet I would have lasted a little longer, but he was right about one thing – we’ve come a long way technology-wise. And for that I am thankful. William Tamborlane, chief of pediatric endocrinology at Yale University and deputy director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, familiarized us with the “blue brick,” the first insulin pump device introduced in 1979. It would take another 20 years before the insulin pump would actually take off.

And Jessica Roth, senior director of health policy at JDRF, reminded us of the importance of advocacy. It’s not enough to have all these research advances such as ViaCyte, Smart Insulin, and the artificial pancreas without the ability for people living with this disease to have access to these treatments. It still pains me that Medicare refuses to cover the continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system for those over 65. Continue reading

Diabetes Knows When I’m Stressed

This past week has been one of the most stressful weeks for my physical and mental health probably since I completed grad school a few years ago. It didn’t help that it was preceded by hormonal blues and a delayed website launch. Among other things, my work life overpowered the rest of my life, making my ability to sustain personal goals nearly impossible.

And maybe it’s my own fault for putting too much on my plate personally? But I did this so that I would have a life outside of work and so that I could be happy. But my inability to have that personal life because of work obligations made me extremely unhappy and not the most joyous person to be around.

What was worse is that when I left the office on Friday, that stress left with me. I couldn’t get it out of my head and my dreams, and my roommate could tell you that when I was hounding the vacuum cleaner on Saturday, cussing up a storm because I couldn’t unlock the filter mechanism, my irritability and frustration had reached a devastating point.

I ended up breaking part of the vacuum when I slammed it against the kitchen counter. This didn’t surprise me. This is why I had a stress ball that I used to throw against my dorm room in college when I felt particularly overwhelmed. But not since I had broken up with my ex more than six months ago did I feel this overwhelming feeling of frustration and anxiousness that no amount of cleaning or running could alleviate.  Continue reading

Memory Loss

A correlation between long-term high blood sugars and memory loss?

A new study from Germany looks at the effects of diabetes on the hippocampus. The verdict: maintain a healthy diet and exercise to regulate blood sugars and keep a healthy brain.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but what about those who feel less able to control their blood sugars?

When something goes wrong with the body’s ability to regulate glucose levels in the blood, the brain is not able work as well as it should, says Keith Fargo of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Almost makes me wonder what kind of impact those hypoglycemic seizures really had. Will I forever be paying for one lapse in judgment, for overestimating my insulin to carb ratio and suffering a concussion as a result? I hope not, and the neurologist didn’t notice any changes in brain function, but who’s to say that won’t change down the line.

Researchers noticed that the size of the hippocampus was smaller for those participants with higher blood sugars. Continue reading