That awkward moment when…

September 26, 2012

It’s a popular phrase on the internet these days. I feel like it pops into my head with dealing with diabetes. 

Yesterday I had one of those moments. And man, it really sucked. It’s Restaurant Week in the nearby town of Hershey. My boyfriend (Michael) and I decided to take advantage of the 3 course meal specials and hit up the place that is normally THE most expensive restaurant in the area… the Circular Dining Room at the Hotel Hershey. It was great! I had a birthday cake martini! Then we chose a yummy local wine and ordered our food. They brought us a selection of bread (complete with CHOCOLATE bread – AKA a brownie – and CHOCOLATE butter), and I actually ate it. Normally I think the bread is just extra carbs. But this stuff was GOOD! I had a fresh, tasty Cobb salad with some incredible guacamole. Then out came my chicken and dumplings with wild mushrooms. So yummy. 

But that’s where the trouble started. All of a sudden this delicious food seemed incredibly unappetizing. The room seemed to increase in temperature at a drastic pace. My heart was racing. I knew what this was. I whipped out my meter… 507. Son of a…. I ran to the bathroom and took an injection. I pulled out my site (which I had just put in before we left the house) and a nice big drop of blood formed. SIgh.

And this is where it gets awkward. We were in a really upscale, classy place. The food was fantastic. I hadn’t even finished my entree, and I knew I had a fantastic dessert on its way (I ordered the chocolate cheesecake). The trouble was… I didn’t know what to do. Could I ask for a box? Is that acceptable a place like this? Should I sit and wait out this feeling? I probably shouldn’t eat the cheesecake even if I feel better right? I felt so… awkward. And it made me angry. Angry at my diabetes for putting me in this awkward situation. I HATE when this kind of crap happens. 

Luckily, our server was very observant. Apparently he could tell I wasn’t feeling so great. He came over and asked if I was finished. I reluctantly said yes, and he brought me a box. Yes! And my boyfriend asked if it was possible to get a box for our desserts too. He said ABSOLUTELY! He even offered to get a cork for our wine, but it was almost finished and I knew it wouldn’t really mess up my blood sugar to finish it. He told us that a lot of people won’t take to go boxes home, but he thinks it’s silly. I told him I want to eat it but I couldn’t at the moment, and he said he was very glad to help us and that he’d rather the yummy food not go to waste. 

So… all in all, it ended up ok. It’s just so hard to forgive diabetes for putting me in situations like this. 


My thoughts on reversing type 1 with diets

May 29, 2012

There always seems to be a new fad in dieting and “healthy eating.” Right it seems that the paleo diet is the latest craze in healthy eating, but really there have been countless other types of fad diets out there that become a craze at some point. I have nothing against anyone choosing any type of diet if it works for them. I’m also totally fine with people talking about the choices they are making, starting conversations about healthy eating, and being open to answering questions about their diet. I am, however, against anyone saying that ANY DIET will reverse type 1 diabetes (I’m pretty uncomfortable with anyone saying they can reverse type 2 diabetes too but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

Here’s a list of my thoughts and reasons why it’s wrong and offensive to tell me a diet will “reverse” type 1 diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. Neither I nor my parents did anything to cause my diagnosis when I was three years old.
– No matter what I eat, my body still needs insulin. It takes 24.45u of basal insulin to be exact (it takes LOTS of time & energy to figure out this number). This insulin works to counteract the glucose that my body naturally creates for energy, so even if I don’t eat anything at all, I still need 24.45 units of insulin to make it through the day.
– Type 1 diabetes is IRREVERSIBLE! No matter what I do, I will always have type 1 diabetes.
– Telling me that your diet will reverse my diabetes makes it sound like you think I am ignorant about diabetes, when I can guarantee you that its quite the opposite.
– Insisting that I am doing something wrong in terms of my diabetes is rude even if you think you are just “informing” me about your diet.
– If there was a way for me to stop taking insulin, I would do it. No matter what it takes. But THERE ISN’T!
– Telling newly diagnosed people or families with diabetes about your “type 1 reversing diet” gives them false hope. It’s unfair and downright mean.
– The best diet for a person with type 1 diabetes is whatever that person and their medical team figure out is the best for them.

I’m sure there are other things I could add to this list, but that’s just what’s been swimming around in my brain for the past few days. If you have any to add, please leave them in the comments because I’d love to read them! I know it’s so frustrating for me and for my friends with diabetes to have to deal with this kind of thing. It’s hard enough to juggle different aspects of diabetes and hearing this stuff just… sucks. So please, if you or someone you know is trying to spread this kind of information, please let me know how truly hurtful it is!

Why should you care about diabetes camp?

May 26, 2010

First, a little announcement/disclaimer from me: I have recently been hired as the Camp Director for the Harrisburg Diabetic Youth Camp. I am thrilled about it and excited to make camp successful for many years to come. This post is directly dealing with camp and why I think it is important so I just wanted to put that out there so you all know the perspective I’m coming from now. I’ve always been very pro-camp and have always done whatever I could to promote but it is kind of my job now. However, I’d be writing this post no matter what and this post has absolutely nothing to do with me being camp director. Ok, now that that’s out of the way…

Since it’s Spring, and almost Summer, and camp is sneaking up on us, and since there has been a few mentions of diabetes camping thanks to Bret Michaels’s appearance on Celebrity Apprentice, I thought I’d write a post about WHY diabetes camp is important. I know a lot of people might not think that it is. I know that a lot of people might equate diabetes camp to some other kind of camp like basketball or drama or girl scout camp. They think it’s just a grouping of kids who have something in common, and it’s not a huge deal.

Our mission at HDYC has always been to give kids a normal camp experience. Our founders wanted to give kids with diabetes the opportunity to have the same camping adventures that their non-diabetic peers were having. Since then, however, camp has evolved into something far more important than just a campfire and a sing-along (although those are clearly important to the whole experience).

To put it simply, diabetes camp is extremely beneficial to children with diabetes. There have been many studies done to prove this including on in Turkey, one at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and one that Setebaid Services (the organization that runs my camp) has participated in. Kids who attend diabetes camp learn more about diabetes management and how to independently care for themselves. Kids who have attended camp have a better knowledge of their own care.

How and why does diabetes camp make such a positive impact on kids? Well, for many reasons. As we all know, people with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing depression than people who don’t have diabetes. The stress involved with dealing with this 24/7/365 disease can make anyone feel pretty awful, especially if a person has no outlet. Isolation is a huge problem when it comes to diabetes. People with diabetes often feel like they are all alone and no one understands them. This can make caring for the diabetic body even more stressful and difficult. Camp helps resolve this problem. When you come to camp, you meet all kinds of people with diabetes who are willing to talk about anything and everything involved with diabetes. Most campers and staff members keep in touch year-round, especially now that things like email and Facebook exist.

These people are also a fantastic resource for any problems you might be having. From where to try a new infusion site to how to bolus for something crazy to “OMG I ran out of test strips and can’t get anymore,” there is almost always someone to help you out. Some of the people at camp have had diabetes for decades, and can offer the best advice you could ever ask for. Most kids with diabetes see an endocrinologist and some see a diabetes educator, but there is nothing like learning from someone who lives with diabetes everyday.

I like to think that one of the major reasons I am so healthy today is because of camp. It has kept me sane through nearly 21 years of living with diabetes. I met one of my best friends at diabetes camp. My whole life has really been better because I went to camp. I know a lot of people don’t  have quite this much of an attachment to camp, but most are very positively influenced by it and would probably say it changed their lives for the better. In fact, I’ve gotten in contact (thanks to Facebook) with several of our HDYC alumni, and they all still talk about how much they loved camp.

If you or your kiddo hasn’t been to camp, please think about going! And you don’t have to be a camper to go to camp! Being a counselor is just as rewarding. Check out the Diabetes Education and Camping (DECA) website to find a camp near you.

And if you’re looking for a diabetes-related cause to support other than the big ones, please consider donating to your local diabetes camp! It may not sound as important as research for a cure, but it really truly helps keep people alive and healthy!

My guilty pleasure

May 7, 2010

First off, I know this probably sounds absolutely ridiculous. But… I freaking love Ramen. I’m not totally sure why. I think it might just be my love of soup  combined with my love of thrifty shopping, but I eat it almost everyday for lunch.

I know I wrote the other day about how I haven’t been eating white bread or pasta, but this is my only real exception. The awesome thing is though, I have pretty much perfected my “Ramen bolus.” Each pack is around 52g of carbs. I bolus my 5.2 units (by the way, I love having a 1:10 carb ratio… it makes math really easy!) about 20 to 30 minutes before I start making the Ramen. I also have to factor in what my blood sugar is before I  decide on how long I need to wait. If I’m on the lower side, I don’t wait as long. If I’m on the higher side, I wait much longer.

This may seem pretty obvious, but it’s a huge step for me, and the CGM has really helped me make this work! My post prandial blood sugars have been stellar since I figured this all out.

I know it also may just seem silly that I worked so hard to be able to eat a 10 cent pack of microwavable noodles, but what can I say? They are just that yummy to me. Shrimp ramen is my favorite! And I always sprinkle some cayenne pepper into it to give it a kick. I also love “oriental” ramen because I can use a few drops of “rooster sauce” to spice it up.

I think this is a great example of how you can eat just about anything as a diabetic if you can figure out how to cover it properly.

Coming out of the pancreatic closet

May 6, 2010

Last year I was lucky to be able to attend DTreat (a retreat for young adults with type 1) at Villanova. We had a ton of different discussion sessions. But one thing really has stuck out to me and I’ve been pondering it ever since.

One person asked how you go about telling people you have diabetes. I honestly was kind of stumped. I realized that I very rarely have that thought in my head. I never think “Shoot. How will I tell this person I have diabetes?” It usually comes up in casual conversation for me. I guess it happens because I’m so comfortable with treating my diabetes in front of people. I wear my pump hanging off my pocket. It beeps obnoxiously every once in awhile. I have no problem whipping out my meter just about anywhere and everywhere. So when I meet someone new and I need to test, it kind of just comes out.

The only time I’ve ever really thought “I guess I should tell this person” is when I’m starting a new job or I’m in a situation where I think others should know for my own safety. And usually it’s just something along the lines of “Hey, just FYI I’m diabetic, so if you see me munching or playing on my ‘beeper’ that’s why.”

So, it’s something I’ve become kind of curious about this topic. Is being afraid to tell people about your diabetes a sign of just not being comfortable with diabetes itself? How do you fix this problem? I felt so bad because the person at DTreat was asking for advice, and I really didn’t know how to help.

How do you come out of the pancreatic closet???? Do you feel the need to come out of the closet with your diabetes? Do you feel the need to hide it at times?

I just started reading Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes by James S. Hirsch and he talks about Elizabeth Evans Hughes. Elizabeth was one of Banting and Best’s first patients to receive insulin. She had prolonged her life using a starvation diet long enough to see the discovery and mass production of insulin. She survived with little diabetes complications until she passed away in 1981. Her story is frankly amazing. But what is really crazy about it to me, is that she refused to let anyone know she was diabetic. Even her own children didn’t know until they each turned 18! Hirsch points out that Elizabeth could’ve been the poster child for insulin and living well with diabetes, but she stayed in the “pancreatic closet.” Her story could’ve actually saved lives, but for whatever reason (and in the book Hirsch theorizes about why) she kept it all to herself.

I feel like a major reason I have never kept my diabetes a secret because I want people to know what life with diabetes is really like. A lot of times people have questions. And I love it when they ask! Some people apologize for asking so many questions, and I usually respond with “Please ask whatever you want! I’d rather you understand!”

I guess it’s hard for me to understand why someone would hide their diabetes, but then again I am comfortable enough with my diabetes to share it with the entire internet. Can anyone offer any insight here?

How I told my pancreas who’s boss

May 4, 2010

Weeks ago I posted on both Twitter and Facebook that I had accomplished what I thought was impossible. In just 3 months I brought my already decent A1C down an entire percentage point to 5.8! This beats my previous record of 6.2 which was my first A1C on the pump.

A few people asked me how I was able to do this. The major component to my new found glycemic perfection was my new CGM. I have been able to see how all kinds of things affect my blood sugar, especially foods. I had no idea what some things (like pizza) were doing to my blood sugar! I was honestly shocked and appalled that I was letting my post prandial blood sugars spike up so high. And I didn’t even know it was happening! To fix this problem I’ve actually cut out a few things. Or modified them at least. For example, I have always loved bagels! But now that I am able to watch my blood sugar spike up after one I’m not really a fan. However, I have discovered a great alternative. Whole wheat bagels! They are packed with fiber which is great for the heart and the blood sugar. Instead of an intense spike, I slowly creep up a little and my blood sugar tops out at a much lower level. The same goes for bread and pasta. You will not find white bread in our house anymore!

I really think the other major reason why my A1C has improved so much is that I’m not as scared of lows, especially at bed time. Before getting my CGM I was constantly worried about going low and not waking up. If I had any hint that my blood sugar might drop even close to low, I would eat something. Now, I feel more comfortable going to bed with a lower blood sugar as long as I have a flat line. My CGM does a pretty good job of yelling at me until I wake up and test! All this being said, I was having some more frequent lows. For some reason right before dinnertime was the worst spot. And I was still having some lows overnight here and there. However, I’ve done some basal testing and fixed things up a bit. Most of those lows are gone and my blood sugar average is still in the range of a 5.8 A1C. Hurray!

I definitely cannot stress enough how useful this CGM has been for me!

Why I’m so upset about Bret Michaels

May 3, 2010

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook already know that when I heard about Bret Michaels’s brain hemorrhage, I was pretty upset about it. I’m also guessing that a lot of you might not quite understand why so I thought I’d explain myself a bit.

First off, when something awful like this happens to someone with diabetes it really upsets me. The first thought that pops in my head is “Did diabetes do this?” Hearing about other peoples’ diabetes complications is always difficult. It is a painful reminder of what could happen. On the other hand, it’s also kind of a motivator. It drives me to focus on my self-management to keep me healthy and ward off those complications.

It turns out that Bret’s hemorrhage likely is not caused by his diabetes. So why am I still so worried and upset?

Like you my know from a few mentions here and there in previous posts, I have been going to diabetes camp since I was 7. My camp is called the Harrisburg Diabetic Youth Camp (HDYC). We are a very tight knit family, many of us having been there for over 5 years. A few of the people there have literally watched me grow up. Some of them are also some of my best friends. They are my crutch when it comes to diabetes. When I need to talk to someone who just understands, they are there for me. When something happens to a member of that family, whether we personally know them or not, it is pretty devastating. It’s like losing a family member. The picture at the top of this post is our wishing well from our closing ceremonies. Every cabin brings a candle and a penny and makes a wish into the well. The well is also adorned with members of our camp family that are no longer with us. Some of them have succombed to diabetes related complications and some of them have died of other causes. It’s a horrible feeling to add names to that well. Really. It sucks.

Bret Michaels is also one of the major reasons why HDYC even exists. His mom is one of our founders from the original JDF committee. She wanted a camp for Bret to go to where diabetes was not a worry. She also served as our camp director for many years. She was the director my first year at camp! I have always considered Marge and Tommie (one of our other founders) to be heroes and role models.

I guess that explains most of it. It’s definitely one of those things that’s hard to understand unless you’ve actually been to camp. I’ve seen grown men weep at our closing ceremonies. It just has such a profound affect on everyone who attends. Losing one of our alumni and family members would be very sad.

All things considered though, it sounds like Bret is doing pretty well in recovery. His people seem pretty optimistic in his recovery. I am so relieved to hear all of the positive reports that have come out in the past few days. I know that everyone from HDYC is hoping and praying for Bret to get better and continue doing great work and sending kids to camp all over the country!

(Just a side note: If you didn’t know already, Bret has raised $140,000 for camperships through the ADA on Celebrity Apprentice so far!!! That’s enough to send at least 140 kids to camp!!)