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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

So Much of the Thanks.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m thankful.

Thankful for two, daft gray cats who rotate around this house instigating trouble, but who happily curl up on the couch with us at night.   For job opportunities that fill my life with meaning.  For family and family.  For the husband who tolerates, with amazing patience, all of me.  For the all-in hugs that Birdy issues in the morning, with her hair a stratosphere-tickling tangle and feet shuffling, but her eyes wide open, ready to experience everything.

And I’m thankful for access to insulin.  As a person living with type 1 diabetes, I depend on insulin.  Without access to insulin, I would be dead.

But tomorrow, and every day, so many people who need insulin do not have access to it.  The global diabetes community needs our help, and Insulin for Life can serve as the compassionate conduit between those who can give and people with diabetes around the world who are in need.    You can donate through their website by clicking here.


Give yourself another reason to be thankful:  be thankful that you have the opportunity to save a life.

Talking About Diabetes Burnout.

Diabetes is every day, but burnout doesn’t have to be.

 

Guest Blog: Getting Diabetes Organized for the Holidays.

Here in the States, Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and the rest of the winter holidays are fast approaching.  And with those holidays usually comes a hearty dose of disorganization alongside all the fun.  Susan Weiner is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and certified diabetes educator. She is the co-author of The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life, and today she’s written a guest post to offer up some useful organizational tips for managing diabetes and the holidays.  (My favorite tip?  Avoiding BLTs, which have nothing to do with bacon.)  

And be sure to check out the end of the post for book giveaway!

Tackling Holiday Madness

Do you feel frazzled and overwhelmed from Halloween to New Year’s Day? We seem to have endless lists of things to do, in addition to our daily activities. Diabetes doesn’t take a holiday break. Between shopping, holiday parties, get-togethers and an abundance of high calorie, high carb foods, this can be a tough time of year.

What’s the best way to handle all of these activities and still properly manage your diabetes? With some simple organizing techniques, you can continue to successfully manage your blood sugars during the eventful holiday season.  It is often said that the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year”. But holidays may include some unwanted pressures for you if you have diabetes. Continue to make your health and diabetes management a priority. You’ll be glad you did!

Here are a few tips and tricks for managing holiday madness with diabetes:

Keep to a schedule – Do your best to stick to your healthy eating plan and exercise routine during the holidays. Always test your blood sugar (especially if you eat out more often).

Test your blood sugar – Test, test and keep testing your blood sugar. You might need to test more often if your schedule changes. For example if you shop for several hours at the mall, make sure that you test your blood sugar and remember to eat! Bring along glucose tablets or a fast acting source of carbohydrate. Scope out the food court at the mall to find some healthy options. And stay away from Cinnabon!

Be aware of BLT’s… bites, licks and tastes – Do you go to those warehouse stores around the holidays to buy some gifts or bulk food items? Pass up those free food giveaways. The calories, carbs and salt can really add up. If you decide to take a bite or two, make sure you’re mindful of what you eat.

Enjoy what you eat, but watch your portions – Do you have a special dish that you really enjoy on Thanksgiving? Of course you can enjoy a few of your favorite foods. Just remember to test your blood sugar and watch your portion size. Ask your host about the menu beforehand, so you know what to expect.

Stay physically active – Exercise can reduce stress and keep your blood sugars in check. Start a new tradition during the holidays. Play a game of tag or football outside before the meal, or sign up for a 5 K walk or run. You’ll feel energized!

Drink plenty of water, and watch your alcohol intake – Water will help keep you hydrated.  Drink water to help manage your weight. Try not to drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Drinking too much alcohol may also lower your resolve to make good decisions about food. Here’s one way to handle the eggnog (or Thanksgiving house cocktail): drink 2 full glasses of water (still or sparkling) for every alcoholic drink.

Strategy for office treats – Did you favorite vendor just show up with a great big basket of treats? Make sure you have a strategy for having just one treat, then ignore it, or better yet, have someone else distribute the goodies within your office. That goes for the open peanut brittle, the brownies your assistant baked last night and the goodies in the break room. Bring in some cinnamon and add a dash to your coffee. You can keep it at your desk, feel good and still be in control.

Lastly, don’t let cousin Martha’s or Uncle Fred’s comments about diabetes bum you out over the holidays. Some people act like they know everything about diabetes, and they can’t help but voice their opinions. Take a deep breath and let them know that you have this under control. Try to change the subject.

Hopefully they will get the hint and move on! You can enjoy the holidays and stay healthy and organized!

Thanks, Susan!!  If you’d like to win a copy of Susan’s book, leave a comment on this post with your best diabetes organizational tip, or a tip on how you keep your brain and/or glucose meter from imploding throughout the holidays and I’ll be randomly selecting the winners.  There are five copies of this excellent book up for grabs, and the giveaway is available through Friday, November 29, at 5 pm EST.  (This offer is only available for US residents.)

HCPs and the DOC.

My type 1 diabetes is managed on a day-to-day basis by me.  I do my blood sugar checks, I make insulin decisions that correlate with the food I’m eating or the exercise I’m doing.  I have decided to make an insulin pump, a glucose meter, and a continuous glucose monitor part of my diabetes technology arsenal.

My endocrinologist helps manage my diabetes from a distance, but her input is important in the decision-making process I fumble through every day.  Her recommendations, education, and advice color my choices in debating things like Symlin, having children, clinical trials, etc.  She prescribes the drugs and devices I need/want/should have.  My endocrinologist went to medical school and, in any given week, sees dozens of patients living with diabetes (all types).  She’s (sorry for going full Rhode Island’er on you here) wicked smart.  And she helps put her more global perspective on diabetes in play with my myopic view of this disease, giving me a slate of smart options to think about.

Last night’s #dsma chat was a tough one because it seemed to inadvertently set up healthcare professionals as the “bad guys” and people with diabetes as the “wicked smart” ones.

Whoa, what?  I’d like to assume (and I think correctly so) that the question was more poorly phrased than poorly intentioned.  The discussion should have been about gaps between HCP and PWD communication and about building better HCP/patient relationships, not pitting one side against the other.  But, like it or not, it did open up a heated discussion with Tweets and emails and texts flying.  Paraphrased examples:

“They doesn’t listen to me.” 
“They dismiss the things that I say.”
” They judge me.”
“They don’t care about me.”
“I know more about diabetes than they do.”

Funny thing is, I’ve heard doctors and patients ALIKE say these same phrases.

I have had my share of excellent doctors in my life.  Compassionate, smart, reasonable healthcare professionals who have helped me maintain good health.  Ones who have encouraged my patient empowerment and who have celebrated with me the health I’ve achieved and have maintained.  I’ve also had my share of crummy doctors – apathetic, arrogant, uneducated healthcare professionals who didn’t do anything to move the needle on my well-being (except to potentially push it back).  It’s frustrating as fuck to be under the care of a medical professional who doesn’t seem to care, or who make you question the depth of their diabetes knowledge.

And I’ve been an excellent patient a lot of the time.  I’ve been on time for my appointments and armed with the data my doctor needs to help me make decisions.  I’ve had lists of questions and expectations, and my current medication list handy, and my goals outlined.  I’ve also been a crummy patient plenty of times, one who fuddles through the creation a logbook in the waiting room, with a chip on my shoulder already about the A1C result I know won’t be in-range, frustrated by the fact that my insurance company only covers therapies I don’t like, hating on diabetes and the fact that it makes me sit in more doctor’s office’s than I’d like, and arrogantly viewing my perspectives and needs on diabetes as the only one that’s “right” in that moment.

People are people, doctors and patients alike.  And, like all people, there are good days and bad days and good people and bad people and all the in-between people and moments not carefully structured in this sentence but you know what I mean.

The doctor/patient relationship is a delicate one, and isn’t easily housed by 140 characters, or within the confines of one disease state.  What seems to be missing, from my admittedly oscillating perspective, is respect for all parties on all sides.  I need to be more respectful of my doctor’s time, education, and opinion, and they need to be respectful of the exact same things for me.  One doctor doesn’t make or break my perspectives on how healthcare professionals conduct themselves, just as one patient doesn’t speak for us all.  I am the expert on MY own diabetes care, but there is no way I can claim to be the expert (or even remotely knowledgeable) on all things diabetes.  I have made many mistakes along the way, both in how I manage my diabetes and how I interact with my medical team, but I have to allow myself the chance to learn from those mistakes.  Same goes for my doctor.

This is life with diabetes.  My healthcare team AND I work together on my health.  There’s both an “I” and a “team” in “my diabetes,” and that’s the way I like it.

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