Friday, August 28, 2015

Depression and Diabetes

I thought I'd take a different tack on what many have addressed in the recent past.
I'm not talking about Diabetes Burnout, though that is a very real thing and I have experienced that as well over my last 40+ years with type 1 diabetes.

No, what I want to discuss/ponder about is having chronic depression alongside
diabetes.  This is something I've never really talked about "publicly" until very
recently (the Diabetes Unconference 2015), so please bear with me...

I have had symptoms of depression as long as I can remember. It wasn't too bad
when I was a child (I think) though some centered around being the "different kid".
Four-eyed, pigeon-toed teacher's pet - is kind of a label and a half to grow up with,

          Four-eyed - glasses since age three-ish.
          Pigeon-toed - yep - toes pointed in all my life - years of ballet couldn't fix it.
                 Thought it was less noticeable until a past boyfriend mentioned that he
                 thought it was "undyingly cute" that my toes pointed in - really??!!!??
          Teacher's pet - because what else do you call a kid who gets special snacks
                 in the middle of the day, or "gets to" be carried to the nurses office in
                 a hurry when she's passing out? Lucky kid! How dare she?!

Yeah - so I wasn't the happiest kid, but the depression really kicked in around college. I took off - left New York State and landed in Boston - not knowing anyone, and determined to make it work. I recreated myself - made myself look people in the eye, talked boldly to people (while quaking in my sneakers), and even got a job in a very busy convenience store to facilitate that type of interaction.

Know what? It didn't stop my depression. I still felt all alone. I had met one other Type 1 there - in the city of Boston - yes - one other diabetic - and his treatment method was insulin and getting drunk every night on beer. We didn't talk much. I had roommates and didn't really have any friends I felt open enough to share my alone-ness with so I'd find corners - The cement quad by the co-op buildings at midnight - a short walk from the dorm at the time  -it was a great place to break down and cry until I felt I could get a grip on it.

When my roomie was out I'd sit on the windowsill and look down ten floors at the cement walkway and think thoughts, but I'd talk myself out of them every time. "How would Mom feel" was my go to mantra.

My Diabetes wasn't under the best care - three week-long visits to University Hospital - now renamed and grouped elsewhere - for DKA and Pyelo-nephritis and I finally got myself an endocrinologist. I liked him, but I'm not sure he knew what to do with me. I was ALWAYS the youngest patient in his office and I think the longest term T1D he'd seen. He left a lot of things to me that probably shouldn't have been.  Until a couple years ago I still had never heard of Joslin, just a few miles away from my college.

Depression was never a discussion. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Why isn't depression one of the topics our Endos bring up with us? No - not everyone with Diabetes suffers it, but I'm thinking with all we juggle every day, we experience on average a higher amount of stress and have more depression triggers than some others, so why not?

Why have none of the many therapists I've seen in the past ten years (yeah it took me a while to get on board) ever brought up Diabetes as a trigger?

I have a lot more I could say on this topic but this was all pretty overwhelming so I'll leave it at this:

                  Maybe the burning desire to do more about Diabetes in the world
                  is leading me to this - to recognition that Diabetes and Depression
                            are something that needs to be discussed and treated.

                                                       And maybe I will...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Don't wait

I'm on my way home as I start this blog, but I feel so much from this last week plus, I wanted, no needed, to share.

The primary player in this story isn't diabetes. In fact, diabetes played only a back story role, though it certainly wanted the foreground at points.

Almost two weeks ago, my dad called me. He was in the hospital, and needed some support.  He had been feeling weak and his doctor had run some tests, and his red blood cell count was very low and told him to go to the hospital immediately. He'd been there three days when he called me. I caught the next flight out.

They wanted to do a colonoscopy, but were having trouble getting his bowels emptied. Long story short, he had a number of tests run, and he had a large mass in his colon, and smaller masses in his liver. It's colon cancer, and it's in stage four, and it has spread to his liver. Effectively, it had been restricting his colon more and more over time, causing weight loss, blood loss, and ultimately, loss of strength.

Since then, he has had the large mass removed, and will need to live with a colostomy bag from now on. He will need to start chemo once he is strong enough to withstand it to take care of the liver and anywhere else it may be lurking.

Now, I'm writing this in the airport waiting for my plane, and doing my best to hold together for a little while longer. This week has been an emotional rollercoaster. Dad was so weak when I arrived, and then kept mostly on a clear liquid diet for the next week, that by the time surgery came, I was very worried. I'm grateful my brother showed up that day, tho it did cause me to tuck away my emotions for a while longer, as breaking down in front of family just doesn't happen.

My sugars have been all over the place. Sometimes I can't keep them above 80, and others I can't get them below 200. I had one time I took the normal amount of insulin and I dropped almost three times faster than normal. Stress does funny stuff sometimes. I'm frankly exhausted, but relieved. He came out of surgery well and is in good spirits, if in a bit of pain. I leave him with my brother, who will help him thru healing and deciding on the next steps.

So what is the lesson here?
Dad turned 83 two days ago.
He NEVER had a colonoscopy. EVER.
He is an intelligent man, and he thought he made an intelligent decision. He researched it online after a doctor recently recommended one, and decided it looked like a hassle.

It is a hassle, but now he wishes he had just done it. Especially since the test itself was totally painless, before and after. Sure the prep isn't fun, but life is worth it, isn't it?

Are you over 50?
          Get it done.

Do you have a history of colon cancer in your family?
          Talk to your doctor and get it done as soon as recommended.

Save yourself all of what dad is going through.

Love and peace to all.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Let's keep going, and going, and going...

Day 7 of #DBlogWeek
I've quite enjoyed my first DBlogWeek. I've read (and honestly am still reading - there's a lot of them!) many new blogs! The two I'll point out here, which are by no means the only two I enjoyed, I pick out for two completely different reasons.

First, one of the new friends I made at #DUnCon2015, Laddie, has a wonderful blog I'd like to share. She blogs at Test, Guess and Go, and I really enjoy not only her puppy Abby's contributions, but Laddie's dialogues on long term Type 1 Diabetes. While she hasn't had it quite as long as me, we've been through many of the same trials and tribulations, and having met at #DUnCon, and then again for lunch near home later, I really feel a great new friendship has formed.

The second blog I'd like to point out is that of Brian from TuDiabetes. His Type 2 Diabetes blog, particularly this one, I find inspirational and educational about Type 2. I've tried to explain so many times to people, even my own father-in-law, that Type 2 is NOT "all their own fault", that's there is so much more to it. Most of the Type 2's I know don't even fall within the awful stereotype. My own father developed Type 2 in his 80's, is very thin and guess what - he still has it! Public perception of Type 2 needs to change.

OK getting off my tiny soap box now. Brian has some great observations of Type 2 from one who lives it and who is very in touch with the medical community and the Diabetes community as a whole. I urge anyone who has any interest in Type 2, or Diabetes in general, to take a look.

OK that's all for this week. I hope you all enjoyed!

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Here we are, Day 6 of Diabetes Blog Week, and today's topic is:Favorites and Motivations.
If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blogpost that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don't have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?

Obviously I'm pretty new to this blogging stuff, so I'll stick with motivations.

What is my motivation? Well, I'll have to blame the Diabetes Unconference (DunCon for short) for that, at least in part.

What was DunCon? DunCon was, in effect, a group of people with diabetes (PWDs) of all types, lengths of time, and experience, gathering together to share trials, successes, challenges and ideas, with the intention of spreading the learnings with other PWDs outside the conference. March 2015 was the first occurrence ever of this conference, and for me it was quite the eye opener, in many ways.

Understand, for 44 years I have been a - well... Lone Diabetic - of sorts. I have met a couple other PWDs in that time, but I haven't been close with many. A few years back I met a few online, and we have our own little group who shares some of life's tribulations, which has helped me in times of struggle (Joanna, Carol, Jessica, Delanna, Kate and so many more). Let me tell you tho - meeting a large group of 90 some-odd PWDs with the intention of sharing our innermost struggles about this beast we all struggle with from day to day, was absolutely enlightening.

I got to meet people I followed for some time on blogs, who I so related to the life stories and struggles, and other bloggers I hadn't seen the blogs of yet, but now follow avidly, More importantly, I connected with other people about our disease with the urgent feeling as a person thrown a life saver while drowning off a boat (which I would never do as I'm an awesome swimmer). I came home speaking of nothing else for weeks, with the burning desire to "do more".

But how?

Well, I thought about that, a lot, and still do.

                      In a perfect world, I would quit my job today and go work as a
                      volunteer for JDRF, or ADA, or some other charity serving the
                      people who share this life with us.

         This isn't a perfect world.

                    Someday we want to retire.

         So I need another means.

                                           Hence - "The Blog"

After 44 years with Diabetes, I must have something to share, right?

            Even if it's just the occasional story of something I encountered,

                    Or some struggle I found a way through,

                               Or a joy I found,

           I want to do more, and when I figure out how,

                         I will

       Until then,


Friday, May 15, 2015

My Wild and Crazy D-Life!

OK it's not that wild or even that crazy,  but in the interests of Day #5 of #DBlogWeek, I'll pulling the Crazy Stories Wildcard today: Diabetes can sure bring some crazy moments.  So tell us your Top 3 craziest D related stories!  If you can't think of three, don't worry.  We're just as happy with one or two . . . .

Let's see...

The earliest story I remember is from elementary school. I was a toddler when diagnosed and don't remember that time at all. I remember from kindergarten sitting on a garden swing and drinking juice. It turns out, what I don't remember, is that I wandered out of class, down a few roads, across a small highway, across the Electric company Right-of-Way and into this nice lady's backyard and sat on her swing. She somehow got my phone number out of me and called home, where I believe my Mom told her to give me juice. How I eluded teachers and got that far safely is beyond me, but it all turned out well. Same thing happened - later the same year I believe, but the principal was driving by and picked me up off the highway where I was walking. I think, ultimately, I was going home. Home was quite a bit further away but I was going the right way!

Another story is more fragmented. My lows - what I called insulin reactions growing up, changed over the years. From a young age I hallucinated - that's the earliest manifestation I remember. When I got a little older - say pre-teen - a much scarier type happened. The first time, I woke up, knew something was terribly wrong, sat up and screamed "Mom!!" and was then paralyzed. I couldn't move a muscle. The parents came in and saw me awake, with my eyes open, but stiff as a board. They moved me downstairs somehow, carrying me awkwardly. I wasn't talking. I think they thought I lost my ability to understand, because they talked to me, then said the same things slower, I understood everything going on and what they were saying - I just couldn't respond. They finally started feeding me something - juice with sugar probably - or honey spoonfuls (gag!). Just before they decided to bring me to the hospital I started coming out of it. It only happened a couple times, but it was pretty bad. I had less serious occurrences in college twice, but each time I could at least walk (sort of) and get myself juice... And call a friend... and scare the hell out of her saying nothing but "Iiiinnnnnsssulliiiiinnnnnn" - Heh - but that's another story.

Third story - well I won't go in depth into it here, because Andrew Curry, working with ADA, did it for me here: Going Low. The only additional info is that I saw my sugar at 60 but the meter actually read 40 - and when I came to, it was 37, so I literally spent 8 hours between 40 and 37 unconscious on the floor. I changed my life and care a bit after that one.

Well that's my crazy D-Life! I hope you "enjoyed"!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Changing Minds

Today's topic - Changes
Today let's talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you'd most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people's perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you?

Well, I have been through MANY changes in the past 44 years with Diabetes.
Emotional, physical, attention, methods, you name it, it's changed.

I've gone from a couple of pee-tests a day and one shot of NPH, to a couple of shots with NPH and Regular, to minimal blood tests and multiple shots. to using Lantus and Humalog, to many blood tests, an Omnipod pump and now the Dex CGM to boot!

I could talk all day about those changes, but I won't.

I'm going to reflect, as my buddy at Diabetesaliciousness did, on what I want to change.

I want to change the public's attitude on Diabetes.

         Type 1 is not "The most important kind" or the "Bad kind"

                   Type 2 is not the "Better kind" or "Caused by the patient".

         Type 1 does not just happen to kids - 50% are adults on diagnosis!

                   Type 2 does happen to skinny people - and children!

                               An A1C of 4.7 to 5.8 cannot be the end all be all of limits
                               for a healthy patient.

                                     Those above that range are not "non-compliant"
                                     or not trying!!

All people with Diabetes - Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, MODY, LADA - require
intense scrutiny of blood sugars, foods, activity, etc.

There is no Bad kind - as there is no Good kind. It all sucks!

There are no non-compliant patients - just those those who don't meet the
sometimes unrealistic standards set for us by the medical community.

OK, I have more to say, but I'll leave it there.

Love to all!

P.S. - If any of the above confuses you - ask, AND read the following
AWESOME explanation of Type 2:
Changing misunderstanding of type 2

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

House Cleaning

Well... with regards to the "Cleaning Out the Diabetes Closet" theme, from a  physical supplies perspective, I'm doing pretty well.

          My husband would interject here - try cleaning out your other closet!
                      And your dresser!
                                   And your desk!

So other than a few hundred lancets I may never use

                 (and who doesn't have too many of those!)

                                     My Diabetes Closet could stand to have one thing ditched...


 Excuses like:

          It's too late to exercise...

                            I'm too tired to exercise...

                                               Basal checks are such a hassle!

                                               I want to train for the Ride to Cure but...

                              My bike isn't a road bike...

         Where will I bike to train?

It's gonna be so hot soon...

OK Cleaning!

         I have a bike to start training with!

                      Biking after hours with water is workable.


                        Let's do this!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What I won't tell...

As of late, I talk a lot about my Diabetes.
               I mean - A LOT

                                Kinda driving the hubby insane, in fact.

              I may lose Facebook friends because of it - well not lose
              them but they may stop following me....

But that's life. Right now, this is my passion. In fact, I've never felt more passionate about sharing my life with Diabetes, and conversely learning more about other people's lives with Diabetes. And I am sharing, and telling all...

Well... almost all...

              There are one or two things I don't speak of much.

       Maybe I will some day,

                       At least in more detail,

                                                                But not today.

Suffice it to say I suffer from depression, some diabetes related, some not, but I don't speak of it much, and I'm not going to say much of it here.

I do want to mention it though, I think a lot of people with Diabetes suffer depression.

     Consider the average person

                A Job                       spouse                   kids
          Gym membership                Club memberships       kids sports and clubs

                    Now, add constant attention to sugars

                                Counting every carb

                                           And when it doesn't work
                   handling the fallout

It's a lot to handle, and we don't all handle it well.

                      Thank you for your patience with us.

Monday, May 11, 2015

I Can...

Growing up in the '70's and '80's, my parents did their best to not set limits.
Back in the days of blood tests every 6 months at the local hospital and one shot a day to control sugars, I was still allowed to swim when I wanted, and bike all over the area. I went to summer camps - it must have been quite difficult for them, looking back, to allow me this freedom. Thinking about how often I went out exploring alone on my bicycle with nothing in my pocket but a couple of bugs for comics at the local 7-11, I'm probably pretty lucky that nothing bad happened.

There were a couple of things that I figured I would never be able to do, however.

1. Eat what I want.
2. Grow up healthy.

My diet growing up was very structured per the "exchange Diet" popular at the time. A glass of milk with every meal (still barely touch the stuff to this day), starch (pasta usually), vegetables, fruits and meat. This wasn't all bad - we had fresh vegetables around a lot from Mom's garden. I love raw fruits and vegetables. But that was generally it. Ice cream only on special occasions. Cake once a year (birthday - tho it was typically an ice cream cake for me). That is not to say I didn't spend some of that comic money on candy, because I did, but I felt oh so guilty when I did!

While I maybe didn't recognize how restricted it was at the time, when I got to college, I ate whatever I wanted when ever I wanted and as much as I wanted. I skipped shots (MDI by then) and landed in the hospital 2-3 times for a week at a time. I learned my lesson the hard way. DON'T DO THAT. So back to a semi structured plan I went.

Now, as an adult, with an insulin pump, and counting carbs, I really can have what I want, when I want, and mostly how much I want of it. I just need to count carbs, inject enough insulin and go on my way. It's never quite that simple, but that's the basics. I CAN eat what I want and enjoy it without guilt.

The other mental restriction was I really never believed I would grow up healthy. Much as I love the magazine, Diabetes Forecast was the prime reason for my fear on this one. What young person with diabetes wants to read about all of the people who have had amputations, or went blind from a disease you feel you have no control over. I figured I'd be lucky to make it to 35.

Well, here I am, 47 and pretty healthy. I promised my husband I'd do my best to make it to 85 so we could have 40 years together, so I'm working on it! We're at 10 years married and 13 years together so far.

I know of many other PWDs who do anything they want - rock climbing, mountain climbing, long distance cycling, movie stars, become mothers, just to name a few.

Newer PWD's - you can do anything!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Diabetes Misconceptions

Reading through the posts on #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes, posted by the wonderful @diabetesalish, I realized that some of the things that bug people the most about what others know about Diabetes, are things we people with Diabetes (PWDs) know as a matter of course. I forget sometimes that not everyone knows that we stab ourselves in the fingers numerous times Not everyone knows that many PWDs can't afford the medicine they need to live, or do without things others find casual in order to afford it, like movies, lunch out, new clothes, etc.

In some way, I can excuse that. If you're not living with something in your own house, you can get away without knowing about it. However, do not make random comments about it either!

To the point, there are several common misconceptions the general public has related to Diabetes. I'd like to address them, and ask those who were previously unaware to think before they speak on these topics.

Misconception #1:     Only kids get Type 1 Diabetes!

      Per JDRF: 
      Around 50% of the people diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes today are adults 1!
           That's half kids, half adults people!!

The corollary to this is that adults are the ones with Type 2 Diabetes.  Given the long standing Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) alternate description as Juvenile Diabetes, it's understandable where this came from. Things change as people are living longer and longer with T1D.  I've had it over 44 years. I know at least three people over 50 years with T1D, and Joslin Clinic gives out medals to people who have lived with Diabetes for 25, 50, 75 and 80 years.

If you do the math from above. you'll understand the following:

     The [p]ercentage of people in the U.S. living with T1D who are adults: 85%.1

#2: People with Diabetes get it because they are fat and/or ate too much sugar!

This is a common myth aimed directly at Type 2 people with diabetes.
First we have to address what Diabetes is - at least for the two I'm talking about.

     Type 1 Diabetes:
          Per Mayo Clinic:
              [T]he body's own immune system ... destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas.2

     Type 2 Diabetes:
          Per Mayo Clinic:
               Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin.3

OK - I didn't see "Develops because of being fat" or "because of eating sugar" up there.Did you??

Commonly overlooked, there is a genetic component to Type 2 diabetes.Yes, being overweight is a risk factor, but without the genetic part, it's not going to happen. Did I mention I know at least one Type 2 average weight young person?

#3: There is a BAD kind of Diabetes.

    Will someone please show me the good kind???

    NEWSFLASH - ALL kinds of Diabetes are bad!!!  

They all require careful balance of activity and food.

Most require medication - many of these medications have unpleasant after-effects that lower the quality of life.

How about that - Some Type 2 medications that are required to stay healthy and alive, are extremely unpleasant to use!


All kinds of Diabetes, when mismanaged, can cause extreme complications including blindness, amputation and death. And we all live with it, every day, for the rest of our lives, knowing that if we falter in our attention to food, medicine, activity, general health, cuts and scrapes, vision, etc. we risk a greatly altered future. Even then, genetics play a role, with many people with diabetes suffering from multiple auto-immune issues which greatly impact the ability to keep that all balanced.

All we ask is, before you make a generalization, before you criticize, before you ass(u)me - Live a day in our lives and try to understand what we struggle with for the rest of our lives.

Authors Note: Diabetes, Type 1 or 2 or 1.5, etc - are NOT curable at this time in history. Comments relating to cures will not be approved for posting. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Scarlet Drops

Sometimes it's the little things that get to you.

You know those times - when you checked your sugar and hit a geyser - or at least it seemed like it! Thin and high shooting in whatever direction you turned your fingertip while staring in horror before you scramble for a tissue to clean up "all that blood!" when it's really only a few drops they're just squirted in teeny droplets everywhere.

Get a couple of those in a month and you start worrying about everything:

           "I can't wear white - what if...?"
                       "I can't check now, my friend decorated their bathroom in light

      "Why did I choose light grey as sheet colors!!"

Ultimately, you stress, you cup your fingertip in anticipation, and then it doesn't happen again for a year, or more. How does it happen anyway, and why so infrequently?

             Note to self - don't Google - blood testing "arterial spray" - again
             - results very disturbing!

I am guessing it's some sort of "lucky hit" to an arterial capillary or something. Google searches just turned up a lot of disturbing hospital stories, which is unsurprising given some of my visits and others I've heard of.

Really - in the end, it's a pretty small thing to worry about it, with blood sugars, highs, lows, complications, carb counting and all of the other daily juggling we do.

              Isn't it?