Be kind. Be supportive.

Do you ever feel like you’ll never be able to catch up? Like, you’re in that dream where you can’t possibly run faster, but you can’t run fast enough?

I think we all experience that sort of thing from time to time. Some people live for that kind of existence… if they’re not struggling to keep up, they think there must be something wrong. Others get overstressed the minute they schedule one meeting to start exactly when the previous meeting is set to end.

Gee… we all react differently to stress. Not exactly a scoop of a story, from my point of view. How we react to stress tells us exactly nothing.

Honestly, we do all react differently to stress, including the fact that some of us don’t even recognize it as stress at all. I think just like diabetes, we all react to stress differently, and we all manage it differently.

And that’s okay. If we had one exact strategy for dealing with the stressors in our lives, you know we’d all be working on it. But most people handle stress with a mixture of dread and resolve, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. There’s no use complaining about the things that get us worked up.

But… and this is a big But… sometimes the stress is too much. Sometimes we can’t just work our way through it. If that’s the case, we need help and we should be okay with seeking it.

Likewise, when someone else is having a tough time of it, instead of just complaining more, instead of judging someone experiencing difficulty dealing with their stress, we should be actively supporting that someone. Helping them feel not alone, maybe reminding them that you’ve been there too, and giving them the space they need to feel like they’re not being manipulated by life like they’re a little marionette.

In the end, it’s not a perfect appointment book or a perfectly clean home or anything else that makes us feel good as much as people do. Let’s remember to be kind this holiday season, but also be supportive. You and your friends and loved ones are well worth the effort.

Advertisements

8 Things: Holiday gifts for everyone living with diabetes.

Hey, how are you? I hope you’re in the middle of a rather stupendous holiday season.

I hope that gifts are in order this year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or another holiday, giving and getting are AWESOME. So let’s look at 8 holiday gifts all People With Diabetes could really use this year:

1. More support. There are new diabetes diagnoses every day. There are new people waking up, like I did six years ago, realizing their diabetes doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

I hope those people find the hope and support that I found when I found this community. And I hope they pay it forward when they do.

2. Laughter. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I really laughed hard. I’m ready for something really funny to just knock me out of my chair.

Likewise, I think it would be really great if I could make someone else laugh too. I just hope it’s not because I did something really embarrassing at the same time.

3. Retail Competition for Closed Loop Systems. Honestly, the #WeAreNotWaiting movement, and all of the do-it-yourself systems it has spawned, has taken a bit of the wind out of the sails out of the commercial artificial pancreas designers out there.

Eventually, we know these systems (the iLet, Cell Novo, etc.) will be approved, but whenever we start to see rollout of non-DIY closed loop, I hope it’s not just one at a time. Good, reliable technology is what we need, and we need more than one option to choose from.

4. More knowledge sharing. Here at Happy Medium, I try to do my best to keep you as up-to-date as I can on the latest diabetes happenings, especially when it comes to news out of Washington, D.C., and items I gather from attendance at various conferences, research summits, and symposia.

I would like to see more of that from everyone in our community, or at least a sharing of resources for learning about new developments in diabetes. Not just, “Here’s the group I spoke in front of today”– which is still good, and should be shared– but also an occasional post that says, “I read this interesting thing today”, or “This event is happening in your area”. I don’t see much of that anymore.

5. A couple of diabetes memes. I can’t handle something new every week, but it’s fun when we can get out of whatever rut we’re in and post something on a common theme. Hey, I’m not the only one with good ideas!

I love Diabetes Blog Week, and I loved the social media #MakeDiabetesVisible campaign during Diabetes Awareness Month. Again, I don’t need a prompter all the time, but it might be cool to do a #dblog Check-in Day, or Diabetes Art Day, or No-D Day again.

6. A couple of recipes might be nice too. One of my favorite things to do here is share recipes, but I haven’t done a lot of that lately. Have I shared every recipe I know?

Chances are, I haven’t. Chances are, you haven’t either. Maybe it’s time to search our cookbooks (give credit where credit is due) and family recipes and deliver something new for everyone’s palate to enjoy.

7. Less Uncertainty. Let’s face it… we’ve been through the wringer on this Affordable Care Act thing. Ever since this time last year, we’ve all been worried out of our minds about whether ACA will still exist, and whether it will be as helpful and as accessible as it has been up to now.

We’ve always known it was broken. Damn few of us expected a so-called “fix” that would break it entirely. Let’s stop the uncertainty, congress. Let’s take away the roadblocks toward giving Americans the same healthcare rights available in every other decent nation in the world. Do that, congress, and maybe I’ll use the big C when I refer to you again.

8. More Kindness. Any change, meaningful change, change that lasts, begins and ends with kindness. Empathy. Decency. Change that lasts does not include cheating, lying, or calling people, even elected officials, names.

This gift could also go to some of our friends in the diabetes community, who have been less than friendly with people not living with their type of diabetes, or are fans of one cause but not another. We all want the same thing. Bashing each other to get there, or to get more notice, is a recipe for eventual failure. You might get your way initially. But no one is going to be excited about how you got there, and that will be shown in their overwhelming lack of support for you.
 
 
However you celebrate the holidays, I hope they are full of gifts, however you define them. And happiness, however you define it. Here’s to us this holiday season… may we celebrate many, many more!

Forty (or more) Winks.

I’ve been feeling tired lately. Like really, really tired.

That’s not uncommon among people living with diabetes… if you consider all the time diabetes tasks require of us, it’s a wonder we get any sleep at all. Add in getting up to use the facilities thanks to a nighttime high, or getting up to ingest carbs thanks to a nighttime low, and you’re talking about even less shuteye.

Is my age a factor? Is it causing me to get less sleep, or not process the sleep I get as well as when I was younger? I suspect one or both of these might be factors.

Real people sick is a thing too. Managing a cold or the flu while already managing an existing chronic condition will wear out anyone.

And let’s not forget other outside influences: the political climate, an economy that we hope will be good but we’ve seen crash before, and work-related stress all play their part too.

In my case, I guess I would have to add in advocacy, and a renewed effort to connect to friends and family more. These are good things, but I can’t sleep when I’m at meetings or other gatherings. What I mean is, when we’re involved in more and more activities, we have less time to just sit, relax, and let our brains and bodies recharge.

For additional context, I’ll refer you to this post at Diabetes Forecast. I especially like the quote “Your brain is a glucose guzzler”.

So what’s a fella to do?

Some of these are no-brainer ideas. Some are just things that work for me. All of them, if implemented properly, should help me get the most out of my downtime:

1. Go to bed! When you’re “on stage”, as the Disney Parks management puts it, all day, it’s hard to come home and suddenly shut your brain off so you can sleep. But I’m also guilty of staying up late, really late, on those rare days when I don’t have something scheduled the next day. I usually get up around the same time every morning, so that means I’m not even getting the most sleep I can get when I can get it. That has to stop. Everything in moderation.

2. Get into better shape. I’ve always been active, but less so in the past couple of years as I’ve gotten busier. Not only do I miss working out more, I need it so I can be stronger on those days when I really need it. It seems counterintuitive to try to add more into my schedule, but in this case, I think there will be a significant return on the investment of my time in being stronger.

3. Find the hidden wastes in my daily routine. Like Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr. and his wife Lillian, I want to find the “one best way” to go through my days, so I can cut down on the time needed to finish items on my to-do list. I probably won’t find too much wasted motion, but if I look, I’ll likely find something. Even if I don’t find a lot of leeway, when your life is full of schedules to keep, every minute of leeway you gain is significant.

4. Stop complaining about it! Look, this is what I signed up for… this is what I wanted. I want to remain as healthy as possible, but maybe an attitude change could stop me from griping about how I feel every time I wake up in the morning.
 
 
There is probably more I can consider. But I think I’ll start with those four and see where it leads. It’s not about turning myself into a robot who only thinks of sleep, work, and wake. It’s about carving time out of my day to have the freedom to relax, or to have fun, or just to think.

We’re not meant to be robots. We’re meant to be living, breathing, flexible, adaptable human beings. But this human being needs to get more sleep.

Egregious E-mail Offenses: November 2017

Here today at Happy Medium, we’re going to start what might turn out to be a fun, and sadly, frustrating series. I’m going to give you a little background on some of the more cray-cray e-mails I’ve received.

When you write as much as I’ve written over the past five and a half years (700+ blog posts), even if you’re not the most read location in the blogosphere, you still get e-mailed like you are. And since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, I’ve gotten a few extras that have really made me scratch my head. Like these:
 
 
Kutting Weight Sauna Suits Help Diabetics Reach Weight Loss Goals
I can’t think of a single soul who would think this is a good idea, for People With Diabetes or anyone else. Trust me, there are ways to lose weight without putting on a scuba suit every day. Who decided it would be suitable to market this to PWDs? Where does the insulin pump go?

On the other hand, a selection from their “premium line of sauna suits” might help me look a little more like Captain America and a little less like Sheriff Buford T. Justice. At least until I pass out.
 
 
NEW – Montgomery County
Is this e-mail a tip about a new diabetes health initiative in this suburban county outside Washington, D.C.? Is it about a town hall meeting on health care? Noooo…

The first line of the e-mail goes like this: “Parking just got easier in Montgomery County.”

The message is for a parking app that can help you find a parking space and pay for it using your smart phone. Fine idea, but I am not the target audience. Especially because I rarely go to Montgomery County, and I use mass transportation to go to work.

The last part of the e-mail goes: “An interview with the CEO of [app name]? Please let me know!”.

Um, yeah, no, because… I WRITE A BLOG ABOUT DIABETES!
 
 
BDF Seeks Treatment Guidelines for BT1D Patients
This one is not only crazy, it makes me mad. In fact, I sent a tersely worded e-mail to the PR rep that keeps sending me e-mails from the (ready for this?) Brittle Diabetes Foundation, after I already supposedly unsubscribed from future e-mails.

This crackpot organization, based in Venice, Florida, counts among its board of directors a PhD, a former mayor of a small town on Long Island, a lawyer, an electrical engineer, an accountant, and a graphic artist. In other words, no medical professionals. Three of the six directors share the same last name.

Basically, they’re pissed off that the American Diabetes Association has not included “brittle diabetes” in its latest Standards of Care documentation. I’m not going to go any further into this, because it gets crazier than that, and I don’t want to give this group any more exposure than I’ve already given them.

To put it mildly, this “organization” is on the lunatic fringe of a community that is already factioned off like containers on a cargo ship headed out of port. It makes me sad, and it makes me mad to think that there is potentially good energy being spent on such a worthless cause.
 
 
I really hope these aren’t the kind of e-mails you get. In fact, how about I give you a tip on how to get super e-mails you can look forward to every month?

Sign up to get updates from diaTribe, the organization that brings both truth and sanity to our community. Go to diatribe.org, scroll down to the bottom of the home page, and put your e-mail address in the box next to where it says, “Get The Latest diaTribe News Right In Your Inbox”. Click Submit, and you’ll be guaranteed to receive at least something useful on a regular basis.

That’s it for November’s installment of Egregious E-mail Offenses. Until next time, remember: I support you… no conditions.

Unless I pass out wearing your wetsuit, have to park in Montgomery County, or have to listen to your uninformed opinions regarding Type 1 diabetes.

State Service.

It’s been a wild ride through November. Among the many things I’ve been a part of this month, I attended my first meeting as a member of the Maryland State Advisory Council on Health and Wellness.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I strolled into the Department of Health on November 15. What I found was not only a warm reception, but real enthusiasm among the participants, including the Secretary of the state’s Department of Health.

As I mentioned before, this is a fairly large group… 34 members, from all walks of life. Mostly state employees, members of organizations like the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association, and medical professionals. There are only a couple like me, who are patients or patient advocates with no official affiliation.

Our members come from all over the state, which is good, because we’re very diverse geographically and population-wise. There is a huge difference between the people who live in fertile farmland east of the Chesapeake Bay, people who live in the more urban areas of Baltimore, Annapolis, and the D.C. suburbs, and the Appalachian mountain counties out west.

This diversity shows a number of disparities in diagnoses for various chronic conditions. It also indicates a need to concentrate more on certain conditions in certain parts of the state. I suspect that will be part of what our work will entail over the next two years.

How did our group come into being? Well, the state legislature passed a law that, among other things, created this council. We’re funded by a federal block grant designed to help states determine best practices in chronic disease prevention and treatment.

Our group will have four committees initially… one on heart disease and stroke, one on arthritis, one on diabetes, and one on physical fitness. I’m hoping to be placed on the committee on diabetes; that is yet to be determined.

One other thing I found out at this meeting: In my state alone, there are over 70 positions on boards and commissions that are currently unfilled. On subjects ranging from Medicaid to congenital and hereditary diseases, there are a number of ways that the people of my state can get involved.

How did I get involved? I went to the Department of Health website to do research on this topic, and found a web page announcing the formation of our Council. I completed the application and an ethics disclosure form, and uploaded my resume. A month or so later, I was notified that I was appointed to the Council.

The work we’ll be doing is not easy. I’ll be committing time and energy toward helping all Marylanders living with and affected by numerous chronic conditions, including diabetes. But here’s the thing:

I might be special because I’m part of this advisory council. But I wasn’t selected because I’m special. I was selected because I asked, and because there’s a need, and because I want to do more to help my fellow citizens.

My state and others have lots of initiatives, some with the help of federal funding, that might be the perfect place for you to raise your voice. As advocates, we’ve asked for this for a long time. I don’t know how this will turn out, but I’m going to seize the opportunity while I can. Why not?

CLICK HERE for more on Maryland’s Advisory Council on Health and Wellness

%d bloggers like this: