#DBlogWeek 2014 is here

It’s time to show my poor, neglected blog a little love. And it’s always more fun to blog as part of a group. So I’ve decided to participate in this year’s #DBlogWeek or diabetes blog week.

The purpose of #DBlogWeek is to raise awareness, not just about diabetes, but also about the variety of experiences and points-of-views that are represented by the DOC (Diabetes Online Community).

Over a hundred diabetes bloggers from all over the world have registered to participate in this year’s #DBlogWeek. Each day will have its own topic.

I missed Monday’s Change the World post, but I am ready to start with Poetry Tuesday. Here we go!

Two Tickets to Paradise

I’ve got two tickets to paradise
Won’t you pack your bags, we’ll leave tonight
—Eddie Money

It’s one of the two questions I hate the most.

You live in Hawaii! Do you love it there?

Why do I hate this question? Well…it’s complicated.

The weather is undeniably good. Averaging in the 80s Farenheit. Most days if it’s raining wait a bit and the sun will come back out and brighten things up. But it’s also one of the most expensive places to live in the country. And local folks will tell you that you can’t feed your family with a rainbow.

The beaches are inviting. But when you’re working two or three jobs to make ends meet there’s not a lot of time available to hang out at the beach. The local economy is dependent on tourism and geography means nearly everything is shipped in. This creates low-wage jobs and high prices.

I’ve met some wonderful people here who personify the Aloha Spirit. They are welcoming, generous, kind. But I have met far more people frustrated and resentful of folks from elsewhere crowding the local folks out. While I understand why some feel that way, it doesn’t make it any more comfortable to be the target of the resentment just because I didn’t grow up here.

Whenever I get asked about Hawaii there’s a split second where I have to decide. How am I going to answer? Am I going to tell the whole story, warts and all? Or am I going to mimic the tour book description? Am I completely truthful? Or do I reinforce the image they have of sunny beaches and umbrella drinks?

So it’s complicated. Hawaii is a wondrous place with amazing landscapes and kindhearted people. But it’s also a stressful place with more than its share of difficulties.

Which brings me to the other question I hate the most.

How are you doing with your diabetes?

How am I doing? It’s complicated…



When a Person with Diabetes Shouts in the Forest…

…does anybody hear?

Heading home after a week in California.

I spent time in the office. I played Ingress and walked 8KM in the process. My BG ran a little high and I didn’t obsess about it. I attended the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit and caused a ruckus.

“You know what? I don’t give a s### about your balance sheet.” That’s the moment when everything changed. In the room and in my head. Whether I realized it or not my heart was already there.

It was during the payers (health insurance companies) panel. I stood up and yelled this out to the panel.

The reps, some with a medical background, were talking about how expensive chronic illness is. As if we, people living with diabetes, didn’t know this fact. The payers panel pointed out that the accelerating cost of  healthcare is unsustainable. As if we didn’t realize this every time we look at our personal bank accounts.

“I don’t see anybody up there (on the panel), except for the lady from Arkansas (Health Exchange), talking about patients.” I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I took a deep breath. I tried to calm down.

The tension in the room had been building.

Once again the patient was being scolded by the healthcare establishment. Do you take care of your diabetes? Do you know how expensive pumps are especially if you change them every couple of years? And with ACA the rules are changing and the future is even more uncertain.

The audience sat shifting around in their seats uncomfortably. The all too common questions rattling around it their heads. Aren’t these the companies who are supposed to help us get the care we need? Don’t they understand that we want the latest therapies and medical technology, not because it’s the latest and the greatest, but because it’s our only hope for a healthier life? We want to avoid those expensive complications. Without the illusive cure, access to the most current therapies is our only hope. We are putting our trust in the medical establishment and the healthcare insurance companies.

More than that. We’re putting our very lives in their hands.

I took another deep breath in an attempt to calm down. That was the point @SweetlyVoiced spoke up to tell her story. She let the panel know that even though they say their companies want to “get patients the care they need” that’s not what we patients are experiencing.

It was called the “Patients’ Voice Summit.” Sometimes, to be heard you got to raise your voice — even if it feels uncomfortable for everybody in the room.

DISCLOSURE: The folks at the DiabetesMine invited me to attend the 2013 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit as a winner of the Patient Voices Contest. They paid for my airfare, hotel, and meals while at the summit.

Workout Wednesday: What I Learned

I’ve made my way through all the SweatBetes workouts with the help of Ginger Vieria who coached me along the way. At this sweaty, breathing heavily moment I wanted to share what I’ve learned from this experience.

Some of this may seem obvious, but I’m someone who has never exercised regularly or been active.

1. There is a difference between exercising and being active
I understand why exercise enthusiasts get frustrated with people who stroll around the block and call it exercise. And I understand why active people get frustrated with their results.

Ginger: Absolutely! Well said. I will add, though, that walking is a totally underestimated and awesome form of exercise. We’re often led to think that jogging is crucial for heart health, but a great power-walk can get your heart rate working just as a well without as much pounding on your joints.

2. Exercise will make you sweaty and maybe even a little bit sore.
Exertion has its effect.

Ginger: Yeah! And then againナthis gets better and less intense pretty quickly, too. You’ve just gotta be willing to work through the soreness of those first few workouts.

3. Exercise takes more than half an hour.
You got to get dressed. You got to get there. You get sweaty. You need some recovery time. You need to take a shower.

Ginger: Great point! And with diabetes, it requires more thinking and planning and worry, too.

4. Exercise costs a little extra when you’re living with diabetes.
Testing at least more three times for every exercise session can really add up.

Ginger: Absolutely. I try to incorporate my exercise first thing in the morning when I’m fasting, to ensure I’m burning body fat instead of glucose, to limit the amount of worrying and testing I need to do. Fasted-exercise is a great way to remove low blood sugars from the equation because the body will, with a properly fine-tuned background insulin dose or oral meds, burn fat for fuel if you haven’t eaten all night and haven’t taken any insulin boluses for meals.

5. Exercise made me feel better.
I didn’t lose weight (not that I really expected to), but I felt more energized. Not in a “I just drank a triple shot espresso and now I’m wired” kind of way. In a “my blood is circulating through my whole body and now I feel energized” kind of way. I suspect a shot of oxygen to my brain and blood stream is better for me in the long run than a shot of caffeine.

Ginger: Weight-loss is about much more than exercise. In fact, if you talk to some of the leanest, most fit people in the gym (or the leaders in the fitness industry), they’ll explain that weight-loss comes from nutrition. Building lean muscle, maintaining or increasing a healthy metabolism, staying limber, and getting the many energy, sleep and mood benefits are things provided through exercise. But exercise alone for weight-loss isn’t going to make up for nutritional habits that aren’t designed to promote weight-loss. There’s a variety of quotes on the matter, but in general, it comes down to “A six-pack is made in the kitchen, not the gym.” LOL ;) Silly, but true.

6. Maybe a better way to sell people on exercising is how it makes you feel right now.
Right now I feel energized. I feel clear headed. My muscles feel warm and my joints feel flexible.

Yeah, maybe exercise a little uncomfortable at first. And it can bring back bad memories of high school gym class or being picked last for the team. But there are lots of options for exercise. Just got to find the kind of exercise that makes you feel good right now.

Ginger: Yeah! You feel good mentally, but also so much more connected to your body, too, right? One of my favorite things about exercise is simply seeing what my body is capable of. And feeling proud of that, being aware of it, and feeling confident after I leave the gym in the strength I’m carrying in my own body. Not to mention that you feel less tired when you exercise more, and you sleep a lot better, too!