Saturday, April 23, 2011

Just Call Me Fido

Hello, I’m an old dog.  I recently heard an ugly rumor that I can’t learn new tricks.  I think that’s rather rude!  Just because I’ve done things one way for a long time doesn’t mean that I can’t change!  Being a PWD means constantly learning new things and changing old habits.  For instance, I just recently learned something regarding Dawn Phenomenon and the Somogyi Effect.  I’ve been experiencing high morning glucose readings for a while now and have been looking into possible reasons.  I found these two possibilities: 

Dawn Phenomenon:  During sleep, hormones are released that trigger the liver to put out glucose in preparation for waking up.  In PWD this can cause high fasting readings because our wacky pancreas doesn’t release enough insulin to compensate.  It doesn’t have much to do with what you ate the night before or how great your reading was at bedtime.  It’s a rather frustrating thing.

Somogyi Effect:  If your body has too much insulin during the night then it can cause this effect.  This may be due to injecting too much insulin (for those who use it) or not eating a snack before bedtime.  Your glucose drops during the night and your body releases hormones to counter-act causing your fasting reading to be high.

One suggestion to help determine which of these is causing high morning readings is to check your glucose at around 3AM.  If it is normal or high, you are probably dealing with Dawn Phenomenon.  If it’s low, it’s probably the Somogyi Effect.  I plan to do this tonight and see what reading I get. (sorry Ray)  I do have one concern…..testing my glucose while sleep-walking could be detrimental to my over-all health. :/

I’m hoping that it’s Somogyi (even though I can’t pronounce it) because it sounds easier to fix.  No matter what I discover, I feel good that I’m learning new things and trying to “fix my problem”.  I will definitely discuss this with my doctor when I see her in June.  I like going to my appointments armed with information.  It’s important to take an active part in my health and not just let the doctor tell me what I should be doing.  Knowledge is power!  I may be an old dog, but I’m a smart one who knows how to research.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Sharing can be a good thing.  We teach our young children to share their toys in the hope that they will grow up to be unselfish, caring adults. (It also helps to prevent them from having a screaming fit and popping some unsuspecting tot in the snoot for taking their Play Doh, which can be somewhat embarrassing.)  We share so many things; secrets, clothes, gossip, sorrow and popcorn, friendship, joy, annoyance, our favorite books and our space.  There are also many things that maybe we shouldn’t share; germs, our social security number, test answers and chewing gum to name a few.

The decision to share the fact that we have diabetes is something that each person handles in their own way.  There are some who choose not to share that information for a variety of reasons.  That’s ok.  It can be difficult to discuss something as personal as our health. Some people may be embarrassed to admit that they have this disease or maybe they’re ashamed.  There is definitely a stigma attached to type 2 diabetes.  I hope that someday that’s not the case.

I have some trouble understanding why someone wouldn’t want to share this information because I don’t feel that way at all. I figure that the more people understand this disease, the better. Talking about it helps me to cope with all that I’m dealing with.  I can’t do this alone.  However, one should develop limits.

I was once a “the world needs to know every little thing about my diabetes and how I’m doing” zealot.  It wasn’t pretty, I’m sure, but I couldn’t help it!  There was so much information going into my head that some of it simply had to come out or I’d surely explode.  Woe to the person who asked me how I was doing with my diabetes because I’d tell them….in spades.  Does everyone need to know, in minute detail, what I ate and how it affected my blood sugar?  No.  Is it necessary to explain to the woman standing behind me in line at the bank that exercise would help my condition immensely, if only I could get into a routine?  Decidedly not.

Meet my husband, Ray.  I was so lucky when I met this man.  He’s wonderful in so many ways, including being the most supportive person in my life.  We had been dating for about a year when I was diagnosed.  He lived through my zealot period and came out relatively unscathed.  There would be times when I would go on and on and on about this idea or that frustration; telling him what I thought and how I felt.  He listened and encouraged me.  At one point I noticed that there were times when his eyes would glaze over and he’d appear to be nodding off.  Hmmmm, I wonder why?  Maybe he didn’t get enough sleep the night before.  It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that I wouldn’t shut up, could it?  Bless him.  He put up with my obsession (and married me anyway!).  Every diabetic should be so lucky.  Before you begin to think that you need to start an intervention in order to save poor Ray from my tirades, rest assured that I’m much better now, at least I think I am.  Maybe you’d better ask him to be sure.   

What has changed?  Several things.  First, I’ve “grown up”.  I’ve learned a lot and have a better grip on my condition and how to deal with it.  I don’t have to talk about it all the time, although it’s never far from my thoughts.  Second, I’ve found other diabetics to talk to.  Third, I started this blog.  I truly feel that sharing this part of our lives is important, both for education and support.  There are many online diabetes communities where you can get support and information.  The one that I choose to participate in is the Diabetic Living Facebook page.  I love the magazine and I’m on Facebook too much so it’s a good fit for me.  People will post their struggles and successes and receive understanding, ideas or just a pat on the back.  We share our fasting glucose numbers on Wednesdays, if we choose, and it helps.  It really does.

The biggest help to me has been this blog.  I got the idea in January and was on the fence about whether to do it, or not.  I received encouragement from a fellow diabetic blogger, Bob Pedersen.  (You can find his blog at T Minus Two) Thank you Bob!  In my blog I can take care of two things at once; talking about my life with diabetes and practicing my writing. When I write about my diabetes it allows me look at things through new eyes.  I get a fresh view of what I’ve gone through and how I’ve handled it.  It encourages me to improve.  I enjoy writing.  I have no idea if anyone is reading this stuff.  I have no idea whether or not my writing is any good.  It doesn’t really matter in the end. The point is to have a place to get it all out.  Having somewhere to vent or rejoice or bemoan is priceless (and Ray’s eyeballs aren’t nearly as glazed as they once were).  So thank you, dear Interweb, for giving me a place to release my inner zealot!

Let me close by encouraging you to share.  If you’re a diabetic, you need to seek out someplace to find support and encouragement.  It might be a support group or nutrition class.  Maybe you can find an online community to join.  Don’t be shy about sharing.  It’s a good thing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shake It Up, Baby!

“What shall we have for dinner tonight?”  “I don’t know let’s look at the list of options.” “Uhhh.  Hmmmm….well, I guess we could have that but didn’t we just have that the other day?” “No, we had the other thing but they are very similar.”  “How about….dang, I don’t know!  Just close your eyes and pick something.”

I enjoy cooking, except when I don’t want to.  I should have been born rich instead of so good looking; then I could employ a cook to prepare meals on those days when I don’t feel like it.  Maybe they could even decide what to cook so I wouldn’t have to think about it.  Naw, that doesn’t sound good either.  Food is too important to me to leave the decisions up to someone else.  I am, after all, a food-aholic.  (just check out my post Confession for proof.)  So what is the solution?  I’ve decided that I need to shake up our menu a bit (and quit whining about having to cook). 

One of my saviors from early in my diagnosis was Diabetic Living Magazine.  I LOVE that magazine!  (If you follow my blog you probably already figured that out.  I should get a commission for promoting the magazine so often.) Not only does it contain great, informative articles, but the recipes are heaven-sent.  It’s so nice to see that I can eat just about anything if I tweak the recipe some to compensate for my wacky pancreas.  As soon as the new edition arrives, I thumb through it and dog-ear the pages that contain recipes that interest me.   In an effort to shake it up, I recently sat down with my stack of old copies and looked through them again.  I was amazed at how much my tastes have changed over the years!  It was actually kind of funny that the majority of recipes that I marked way back when were for desserts.  Cookies, cakes, pies…..anything sweet!  I guess I was a bit freaked out about missing my goodies.  As I looked back through the recipes in those early editions I found lots of recipes for entrees that were quite appealing.  I completely missed them the first time around (or just couldn’t see the lasagna for the cookies).  

There are lots of other places to look for recipes.  The Interweb makes it possible to search for all manner of things, including recipes.  Who needs cookbooks?  You don’t have to limit yourself to diabetic recipes either.  Learn how to tweak “regular” recipes to fit your food plan.  I’ve mentioned before how that’s possible.  You can substitute healthier proteins and oils as well as lower carb pastas etc.  (ie: Dreamfield pasta, yum!)  

The point is that you should shake it up now and then and try something new.  Don’t let your menu become boring!  If you’re not much of a cook there are other ways you can shake things up.  Next time you’re at the store, look closely at the options in front of you.  Instead of swooshing through the aisles, picking up the same old stuff, stop and read the labels on something different.  Even though frozen entrees aren’t always the best bet you can still have them now and then.  I have found a few favorites that are lower in carbs and fat.  You just need to read the labels.  Lean Cuisine has a Chicken Pasta Primavera that I really like.  It contains 30 carbs and 1.5 g of saturated fat.  I’ll eat one of those for lunch sometimes just to have something different.  Just watch how often you consume those types of things because they can be higher in sodium.

So, what should we have for dinner tonight?  I don’t know yet but I’m thinking it will be something yummy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Moving Experience

This Spring is the time that I’m taking care of some medical “stuff” that I’ve been neglecting. It’s about time!  For instance, last month I saw the eye doctor (no issues!) and I’ve been seeing the dentist (I’m afraid we will become good friends here pretty soon).  On Wednesday I’m having my first-ever colonoscopy.  I know, I know…’re jealous.  I can’t blame you.  The preparation for this procedure is daunting, at best.  Beginning last night and through today I have to avoid fiber and red meat.  The red meat isn’t difficult at all but I have found that the fiber is an issue.  The instructions say “avoid nuts, seeds, corn and fresh vegetables.  It’s ok to have white rice, white bread etc.”  This goes way the other direction from how I’ve been eating for the past 6 years.  It has been a real struggle to find something to eat!  No fiber, really?  No veggies?  Yikes!

Last night for dinner I had some chicken and a roll.  Before dinner my blood sugar was 91.  2 hours later it was 209.  This morning it was 144 fasting.  :(  Boy do I miss my fiber!  This has been eye-opening for me.  First of all, I’m quite pleased that my eating habits have changed that much since I was diagnosed.  Most of the things that I would reach for to eat are off limits for now.  It’s not like I was thinking of eating pizza or junk food or sugar (which I suppose I could have had) but I was jonesing for a salad or spinach or something healthy. The plate method had a huge hole in it and I really missed what should have been in that hole.  I was actually surprised by that.  Secondly, I was amazed to see how all this affected my blood sugar.  I didn’t over eat last night at dinner but I did eat some carbs without any veggies to offset it.  I certainly didn’t expect to see a 209 on my meter! As I said, eye-opening.

So what have I learned from this situation? I’ve learned that I really have made some great strides toward being a healthier eater.  When your kitchen is filled with whole wheat/fresh veggies/low carb/nuts/grains/chicken/fish it kinda indicates that you tend to have a healthy diet.  I’m proud of myself!  I’ve also realized how important veggies, and fiber in general, are to a healthier blood sugar reading. It really does make a difference!

I’m not horribly concerned about my blood sugars during this….ordeal.  I know that it is temporary and things will eventually get back to something akin to normal.  Heck, I’m bound to lose a couple of pounds!  Here’s hoping I survive the 36 hours of only clear liquids.  Wish me luck!  Now I’m off to see the dentist.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Fable

Have you ever felt that living with diabetes was just too overwhelming?  Me too.  It seems like we’re constantly having information shoveled on top of us and we’ll soon be buried under the weight of it all.  I’m going to share a story with you that might help to give us all a different perspective. (I tried to find the author but could not.)

A Fable

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.  He finally decided that the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway.  It just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They each grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later the farmer looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. As every shovel of dirt hit his back, the donkey did something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off.

We can use this same strategy!  When the information being shoveled on top of you feels heavy, just shake it off and use that information to improve your situation. Learn how counting carbs or exercising can help you with your diabetes. Don’t let it overwhelm you, but instead, use that information to take a step up. We don’t have to learn everything at once but we can develop a library of information and resources to help build our own hill to get us out of the well.

Now, there’s more to my story.  Every fable has a moral, don’t you know, so here is how this story ends:

The donkey later came back, caught the farmer out in the field and bit him. 

When you try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.  :-)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Celebrate Success

Awhile back I was in a bit of a slump.  I posted about it, in fact.  I still don’t know if it was due to a rut or cabin fever but I’m feeling so much better now!  Part of the reason I’m feeling better is because I actually did something about it (and the nice weather doesn't hurt).  I made a conscious effort to make some changes in what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been thinking and it’s working.

It’s way too easy to get caught up in negative feelings.  Why is it so satisfying to moan and complain?  Sometimes I wonder if we’re only happy when we have something to bitch about.  We like drama, don’t we?  Why else do people watch the evening news?  It certainly isn’t to feel uplifted or happy.  (Personally, I don’t watch the news. I have better things to do with my time.)

So, today let’s celebrate success! Success doesn’t have to mean that we’ve done something spectacular at work, gotten that raise or promotion, or bought a better car than the neighbor.  Success can, and should, be measured in the little things we do each day.  Sometimes it’s difficult to find something to celebrate but you should try. Maybe you've had a great glucose reading or resisted that second helping.  Did you park at the far end of the parking lot and walk a little farther to the grocery store? 

What have I done this week that’s noteworthy?  I dusted off my measuring cups and took a good look at how much I’ve been eating.  Wow!  No wonder I was having trouble dropping the pounds!  My eyeballs definitely needed re-calibrating.  Now I’m much more aware of how much I’m eating.  I’ve cut down a lot and feel better.  I also got outside and worked in the yard.  Two of my grandsons helped me transplant some plants.  (It took 3 times longer than it would have if I’d done it alone but that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun!) I’m exercising every day.  Not bad huh?  I’m pretty pleased with myself.

How about you?  What success can you celebrate today?