Lofty Goals

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Lofty Goals

Are the goals you set this New Year too lofty?

Do you find you can be like a race horse waiting for the gate to open? You give it your all but you haven’t trained or prepared enough OR don’t have the build or stamina to be a race horse…yet?

My Mom used to say to me “you can only hit the telephone lines if you reach for the sky.”

I’m sure as you read this you say…”What the heck? Isn’t this supposed to be a website for motivation & empowerment?”

It is…this is the point of my post;

I want to help you create positive, realistic goals that are achievable long term.

There is nothing more defeating then setting goals that you are not prepared for which are so lofty yet you are SO excited about. All of the sudden you begin to make excuses, you let the goals drift into what was and you look back and realize you have let them dwindle into a memory, harshly criticizing yourself for failing. A terrible cycle to be in.

An important point to support you in succeeding is to be realistic & committed. The other point is to know that setting small goals that work toward your desired accomplishment is OK!! Congratulate yourself when you reach each small goal. Mark those as your successes.

Bottom line…be realistic.

If your A1C is 10%, don’t expect it to drop to 7% in 3 months. Pick 1% every 3 months & in 9 months you will have reached your goal.

If you decide to test 4 times a day but test randomly throughout the week, start with 1 time for 1 week & 2 times the next week & so on. Establish the habit of testing pick test times that coincide with your life, your schedule.

If you want to lose weight set your goal at 1-2 pounds per week. Weigh yourself once a week, not everyday. Eliminate self-defeating variables that are beyond your control. Did you decide to set your goal to exercise for 1 hour everyday? Will that work with your crazy schedule or your fitness level?

Do you want to run a marathon this year but have never run? Start with running the distance of a telephone pole or run for 1 minute walk for 1 minute for 15 or 20 minutes. If it’s too much, it’s okay to say ‘that’s enough’ and try again tomorrow or re-set your goal to what you can achieve.

What small, realistic goals will you set that will help you get to the final achievement?

Put one foot in front of the other & focus on where that foot is going. Before you know it you have crossed the ‘finish line’.

Being “Normal”

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What does every parent want when their child lives with Type 1 diabetes & it’s any special event whether it be Christmas, Hallowe’en, Birthday Parties or Easter? To portray it’s the one of the few times of their life they can enjoy what everyone else does. Well, sort of. But that’s the best we can offer, right? Do they remember or know any different? Kurtis never told me so. I don’t remember so.

From the ages of 8-11 I don’t remember what I did with Kurtis at Hallowe’en. That was the time when he took multiple daily injections. Life was a whirl wind. I worked shift work at the hospital. My whole life evolved around my children…I worked my job, my health, my diabetes…everything around the kids. I was a single parent a lot. I didn’t have a team mate I could pass the baton to & ask to take over. My focus consisted of; were the kids fed well, did they have lunches packed for school, were they doing well in school, were Kurtis’ blood sugars okay, what did I need to do make them ok, appointments for his diabetes, making sure Cayla didn’t feel like Kurtis was the centre of our family because of his diabetes, what did the kids have for homework, hockey, figure skating, testing Kurtis’ blood sugars day & night to keep him safe, setting my alarm to check him, arranging care for the kids for the few times I wasn’t there, making sure the people caring for him understood what to do with his diabetes…you get the whirl wind?

Do I remember what I did for Hallwe’en on injections? Vaguely. I know for a fact I would have kept his candy intake balanced so that his sugars weren’t crazy for days. I vaguely remember letting him pig out the night of after he returned from collecting his stash..to an extent. Then going forward matching meals with treats to keep it balanced.

Once Kurtis was on a pump, I was not so concerned. My mindset was eat it all sooner then later so that we have 1 week of craziness then 3-4 weeks of drawing it out & really messing things up. The bonus was he could put the carbs in his pump & burn it off with activity. I was lucky because Kurtis only liked certain candies. The rest he would never touch.

Christmas stockings & Easter hunts involved a lot of non-candy things from Wal-Mart & the dollar store. I kept it the same for both. The kids never said to me “where is my candy” or “why don’t get as much candy as the other kids”. I remember as a child living with Type 1 finding a brand new pair of running shoes (which I needed!) hidden for Easter! I was SO excited because they were the cool pair I wanted! You can’t substitute candy for something so wonderful as that!

Creativity & letting normalcy rule within the boundaries of keeping your child safe, is essential to an enjoyable, stress-free Hallowe’en.

Connecting the Dots

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Connecting the Dots

I notice the biggest challenge in diabetes management is testing blood sugars.

It is a nuisance, no doubt. We all claim we can tell what our sugars are by how we feel & for the most part I believe that. But similar to hunger not always being hunger but a symptom of something else, symptoms we typically feel with a low or high can be a result of another event in our body.

Remember when we were kids & we would pick our favourite colour crayon & connect the dots or complete a # to # pic? It was so cool to see what our efforts of connecting the dots or numbers created….the big picture. So it is with blood sugars.

Healing

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Healing

I like to keep my body parts. I figure each one is there for a reason. But, when all other options have been exercised & surgery is the only option….well, reluctantly, I know when it’s time to fold ’em.

I am not new to surgery. I have had 4 surgeries between the ages of 21 – 32. I’m proud to say, I’ve had success with all surgeries & recoveries. It’s a challenge to walk away healthy without infection or complications, especially when living with diabetes.

It’s been 10 years since my last surgery. It’s been almost 20 years since my last major surgery.

When I found out a few months ago I would be under the knife once again, having major surgery with a 6 week recovery time, I decided to be proactive in preparing so my recovery would be uneventful.

I am only 4 days post op so I may be putting the cart before the horse with this surgery but I want to post some considerations about how to prepare before, during & after.

Before Surgery:

1. Gather a reliable support team that can be there for you before, during & after surgery. Make sure your team knows their responsibilities throughout this process. If someone offers to help, this is one time you can’t afford to say no. Don’t try to be a hero. I never heard anyone talking about the time “so and so had surgery & what a champ he or she was going solo, doing it all on their own.”

2. Don’t go crazy cooking, baking & cleaning. What?!? you say? Shouldn’t I have stuff in the freezer & the house spotless for when I come home to recover? Sure, if you were healthy before surgery to do that, it would be ideal. But consider, why are you having surgery? Your body is not running at full capacity. By stressing yourself out making, baking & cleaning you are depleting your immune system to a point that you may set yourself up for illness before surgery (then, it may be cancelled) or cause infection post-surgery. Although it may be tough, go to the local health food store & buy organic, pre-made meals that one of your team mates can heat up. Same with the kids lunches. I’m not meaning pre-packaged boxed/canned garbage…there are a variety of ‘homemade’ soups, sauces & meals available today that have only a few ingredients & are good for you. Just make sure to watch the sodium content…you don’t want to get all puffy & bloated.

3. Which leads me to my next point….eat clean, well-balanced nutritional meals & snacks leading up to surgery. I mean, we all should all the time but if you have lost focus, now is the time to get back on track. If you don’t have a Juicer, I urge you to buy one. Use it often. Eat a variety of fresh, organic vegetables & fruits. Keep your protein lean. Keep your carbs complex & low GI. If you nourish your body properly, it will be ready to perform at a high level of healing during & after surgery.

4. Test blood sugars more often. Keep them within target. Consult with your Diabetes Team to make sure you are running at optimal capacity for diabetes management. High sugars can cause infection and/or slow healing.

5. Be honest during your Pre-Op visit at the hospital about which meds you are taking. I mean, prescription, herbal & homeopathic remedies as well as essential fatty acids. I take herbal & homeopathic tinctures as well as EFA which I had to stop 2 weeks before surgery as they increased my risk for bleeding.

6. If you are physically active until this point, if the Specialist agrees it is okay, keep doing what you do or alter it to accommodate to your circumstance. I was not able to be as active as I used to be but I made sure to walk 5 – 10 km each day to keep my heart, lungs, mind & muscles working.

7. Get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night.

8. Drink a lot of water. More than 8-8oz glasses a day.

The Night Before Surgery:

1.  Pack a cooler bag of simple, instant food that is healthy & wholesome for your hospital visit. Below is what I packed in mine:

– Nature’s Path Organic Instant Oatmeal Plus Flax
– (2) glass jars of Green’s Juice I made with my Juicer
– (2) 1/4 cup containers of hemp seed to add to my oatmeal
– (2) containers of 2 tbsp of Skinny B Breakfast Cereal
– (2) containers of 2 tbsp of Holy Crap Breakfast Cereal
– (2) single servings of plain Greek Yogurt

The Day of Surgery:

1. Ask your surgery to be booked first thing in the morning. You will be asked to have nothing to eat or drink the night before. Some of your diabetes meds may be held. But, with the risk of fasting comes the risk of a low sugar. Being booked in the morning gives you the opportunity to have an IV put in place so that if you have a low blood sugar the staff can give you sugar through it.

2. Remember to breathe deeply, often. Stay calm. Getting anxious over the unknown & probably what won’t happen will raise your blood pressure, heart rate & blood sugar. All the hormones released that cause this will not help with the healing.

3. When you feel yourself getting anxious, visualize what you would love to do 6 weeks from now. Imagine yourself having a successful operation & healing process. Envision how much better you will feel afterwards.

3. Ask questions. Although they may seem dumb to you, they really aren’t.

4. Educate the team in the hospital about your diabetes. They don’t know as much as you do. They can’t! They don’t live with it.

5. Be your own advocate. If something doesn’t seem right, speak up.

The Hospital Stay:

1. Be aware of what’s on your food tray. For the 2 days I stayed, I was presented every processed juice & flavour of jello imaginable. Was that going to help my healing? Nope. It would just spike my sugars. I resorted to my cooler of food I brought. My Greens Juices got me through the first 24 hours. The oatmeal, hemp, yogurt & Skinny B got me through the rest of my stay. The nurses admired that I advocated for myself by bringing the cooler of food.

2. Take the pain meds. Again, don’t be a hero. No pain, no gain does not work. Pain releases hormones that will cause your sugars to go up….and your blood pressure and your heart rate…get it? 🙂 You will not get addicted.

3. Sleep and move. Sleep as much as you can. As soon as the nurse says it’s time to get out of bed, whether you just stand up or take a few steps, it is important to move. It gets the blood flowing which helps your surgical incision heal.

4. Test, test, test. The hospital staff will do that for you a lot too, but I bring my own meter as back up as well. It may not be calibrated to the hospital lab but at least I can report to them if it’s not time for them to test & I know something is off with my sugar. I also wear a Continuous Glucose Meter paired with my pump.

5. Be aware that the grogginess from pain meds can mask a low blood sugar.

6. Be aware of your body. Listen to it. Trust your gut. You know you best!

7. Drink lots of water! LOTS!!

Recovering At Home:

1. Abide by what the instruction sheet & the nursing staff have said. Don’t push yourself. You will not push yourself closer to recovery but closer to a risk of infection & slow it down.

2. Sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night, if your body says to go to bed at 8pm, do it.

3. Nap when you’re tired.

4. Be as mobile as your Doctor has permitted you to be.

5. Inspect your incision(s) daily. If they start to look red, inflamed or have discharge, you need to call your Doctor right away.

6. Test, test, test. Keep your sugars within target. I’ll repeat this again….high sugars will slow the healing process & promote infection.

7. Eat clean, eat well. Keep up with the Greens Juice. Eat lots of vegetables & fruits. Eat lean protein. Keep to low GI, complex carbs.

8. Call on your Team. Refer to #1 “Before Surgery”.

9. Drink lots of water. LOTS!!

These are general guidelines. Your circumstances may be unique & there may be some suggestions I have made that the Doctor has advised against or differently. Please listen to your Doctor. He & you, know your circumstance best.

As Exciting As the Discovery of Insulin!

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As Exciting As the Discovery of Insulin!

In 1983 and for the next 10 years, researchers began to study whether intensifying diabetes management among people living with Type 1 made a difference. Up to this point there had not been long term research to provide data to prove this to institute change.

When I was diagnosed in 1975, I started on one injection of NPH and Toronto in the morning.  A Keto-Diastix before & after school & at bedtime was dipped in a urine sample to determine sugar & ketones. Little did we know that it was not an accurate test of glucose control. Every 3 months my blood work was done & thankfully my A1C as well. We would see the Paediatrician shortly after.

In 1981, an extra injection of NPH & Toronto was added at supper time. Around that same time I received my first glucose meter.

This study has changed the way people with Type 1 diabetes are managed. It was & still is exciting!

Here is what the Diabetes & Complications Control Trial is about.

There were 1,441 people from Canada & the U.S from 29 centres living with Type 1 diabetes more than 1 year but less than 15 years. They could not take part if they had too many or severe low blood sugars, severe complications or limited life expectancy. The ages studied ranged between 13 and 39. Young children were not studied. There were 2 groups; 1 had their diabetes managed intensively, the others managed as before.

The main goal was to keep blood sugars as normal as possible through a criteria of intense methods for diabetes management.

Clinical findings & significance:

1. The risk of eye complications were reduced 76%.
2. The risk of complications of the kidney were reduced by 50%.
3. The risk of nerve complications were reduced by 60%.
4. By keeping blood sugar’s as normal as possible, the onset & progression of eye, kidney & nerve damage caused by diabetes slowed.
5. Even those who had a history of poor control who sustained any type of BG lowering showed a difference in the progression of complications.
6. For those who already had eye complications by participating in intensive management of their diabetes, they saw the progression of the complication slow by 54%.

What is Intensive Management?

1. Testing BG 4 or more times a day.
2. Injecting insulin at least 3 times per day or using an insulin pump.
3. Following a diet & exercise plan.
4. Monthly visits to a health care team which consists of a physician, nurse, dietician & behavioural therapist.

Risks involved with participating in an intensive management therapy? Low blood sugars. It was clear that less stringent goals are appropriate for some patients.

This trial has become the pioneer of studies that changed the management of Type 1 diabetes . Since completion of the study in 1993 there has been further work done to answer more questions & give more data. I will continue to post on these.

Looking Back – Being a Teen with Type 1

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Looking Back - Being a Teen with Type 1

I know what it is like to grow up as a kid & teen living with Type 1 diabetes. It’s tough!

I’m going to give you a snapshot of how I lived life with diabetes as a teen….

First, I had a huge, gigantic glucose meter. See the pic! I had the blue one for many years. There was NO way that thing was going with me anywhere. I hated testing! The test strips of this meter took a ton of blood compared to today. The finger pricker had no dial! It had one setting. When it made contact with my finger it felt like it went through it. If anyone has been to diabetes camp & used the single use, disposable prickers, you know what I mean! It took 2 minutes for the test. I had better things to do then stand in front of my meter for 2 minutes to wait for a number…so guess what I didn’t do a lot of? Test!! I mean, I knew how I felt. I could manage my diabetes without having to look at a number! At least that’s what I believed at the time.

Secondly, even though I only had to take needles twice a day, I hated it. They hurt! The needles on the syringes that I used were 13mm long. Now, the word “millimetres” sounds small but if you take out a ruler & measure 13 mm & imagine that going into a lean body with little fat, it goes directly into the muscle. I was small at 115 pounds & 5’1″. I always took my insulin, the only time I didn’t inject was when I truly forgot. Then I would call my Mom & she would bring it to me…usually at school or work. I knew I couldn’t live without my insulin.

Next, I didn’t eat much. I now know that many young girls & even women will decrease their insulin dose and run slightly higher or stop eating as many calories to keep their weight down. It is known, insulin makes one fat. It’s not that this was my intention or that I was aware of that at the time but I figured if I didn’t eat as often, my sugars dipped low so I could eat McDonald’s or candies. “Back then” (boy I sound old!) there was no carb counting to allow for ‘treats’. There was also no ‘correction doses’. If you were high, you dealt with it until it came down on its own with the insulin you had on board.

I didn’t think about my diabetes much. I remember being terribly embarrassed when I had lows. I hated having attention drawn to me. I remember being tired a lot. I fell asleep in class in high school a lot. I had a hard time focusing.

The one thing I didn’t do when I was a teen was drink alcohol. My Mom scared the life out of me about what it could do to me and my diabetes, that I am thankful for. It was one less variable I had to deal with.

With that being said, at the age of 16, my parents found me in bed one morning, lying in my vomit, barely responsive. That night I had been out with my boyfriend & when I came home I was really, really tired. Instead of testing before bed, I crashed. Little did I realize, because I hadn’t tested, I was very low before I had even climbed into bed.

Laying in a hospital bed with an excruciating headache, the next day was the beginning of realizing my diabetes needed my attention. Pretending it wasn’t there and omitting what needed to be done to manage it was not serving a purpose. I was punishing myself. I was letting my diabetes take control of me.

“The secret of …

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“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” – Mike Murdock

In today’s society we are encouraged to break out, be stimulated, think outside the box.  We are told the less routine we adhere to the more abundant our life will become.  Becoming comfortable is to lose the opportunity to become a better person, to grow and expand our mind and soul.

In many aspects, breaking routine is without doubt a great thing.  Spontaneity can break one out of the doldrums, keep the mind sharp and create excitement.  

With respect to living with diabetes, having routine is essential.  It is proven that testing your blood sugars, taking your medications and insulin injections at the same time each day will increase your chances of success.  

To take it further, creating a routine with regards to healthy eating, meal and snack times is also of great benefit.  By pairing your medication or insulin routine with your meals and snacks, you will notice an increase in well being…once you are settled into your routine, ironing out the wrinkles.  After all, we are very personal in our diabetes.  Although we live with the same diagnosis, we are all unique in how we adapt to certain routines.

One last commitment which needs to be incorporated as part of your daily diabetes routine is physical activity.  The benefits of physical activity are as great as adhering to a routine with your medication, insulin and eating.  

The Centre of Disease Control cites the following as benefits to physical activity: 

By creating and committing to a routine, I hope this will enable you to live life with Diabetes Beyond Borders.