Tag Archives: holidays

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!

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8 things to help you manage your blood sugar (and your life) over the holidays.

With another holiday season upon us, we have more chances than usual for our blood sugar to get out of whack. There are several reasons for this, and if you will permit me, I’m going to list eight of them here.

Why? Because I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my diabetes management over the holidays. So you can consider these a sort of “don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made” list.
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1. Be careful what, how, and when you drink. Others have written about alcohol and diabetes far better than I ever will. See HERE and HERE and HERE. Of course there are more chances to imbibe in December, and being careful does not always mean you have to say No. It just means it’s important to be aware of how alcohol affects your blood sugar. Hint: it’s not how you might think.

2. What about those parties? There’s no question there are more social situations right now than there are earlier in the year. Some of the questions I ask myself are: Is a party taking the place of a meal? Is it between meals, or later in the evening? It’s important for me to know, because it will help me determine whether I need to set a temporary basal on my pump (either higher or lower).

3. Keep up on the BG checks. If I know I’m going to a party that starts around 6:00 p.m. (around when I usually eat dinner), I can do a check before I leave the house and when I get to the party, so I have a good starting point before I decide to eat something. Of course, if you’re wearing a CGM, you’re going to be looking at that a little more often through the night, and that’s great. If the party includes some finger food but it’s not an actual meal, I’ll probably just bolus a little after I see what’s there to eat and guess what my carb intake might be. The point is to stay on top of my BGs in situations like this because it’s easy for me to have numbers that are not normal, for various reasons.

4. Do not over bolus. As someone who makes this mistake from time to time, let me say it again: Do not over bolus. Your diabetes numbers do not have to be perfect in December, and it’s probably best that you don’t set yourself up for disaster by trying too hard to get to 100 mg/dL. If you’re checking your numbers a lot anyway, you’re obviously doing what you can to mitigate super high numbers. Don’t make it worse by rage blousing and winding up with a hypoglycemic EMT or ER visit at the holidays. I’ve been there. If I can help it, I won’t make this mistake again.

5. That said, Yes, you can eat that. Hey, don’t look to me for validation for eating that cupcake with the red and green sprinkles. But if you do it, don’t complain about a high BG number later. Most of us are adults. We’re capable of making our own decisions, while usually recognizing where the line is, even if we do cross it once in a while. Ignore that crummy “sugar free” [insert dessert name here]. Often, the carb count isn’t any less than the real thing. It just doesn’t taste as good, and sometimes it’s laced with sorbitol, which means if you do eat it, you might be spending more time than usual in the bathroom, rather than with your friends and family.

6. Go with the flow. Like I said in the last paragraph, your numbers are not always going to be perfect. Do you want to concentrate on diabetes perfection, or do you want to enjoy special times with family and friends? We’re meant to celebrate the holidays, not obsess over our next A1c.

7. Have a diabuddy? When spending time in places and among people where your diabetes isn’t well known, it’s especially helpful if someone else in attendance “gets it”. If your spouse, or a friend who knows you and/or your diabetes well can attend with you, you’ll have the added feeling that no matter what happens, someone will be there who understands you and can help you when you need it. Who doesn’t like to have a wingman? Bonus tip: a bracelet or necklace announcing your status as a Person With Diabetes is almost as good.

8. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Be grateful. Be nice. It’s okay to talk diabetes (it’s kind of hard for me not to talk about diabetes), but it’s a festive time too. Ask someone else how they’re doing. Tell someone how happy you are to see them. Wish them all the best this holiday season.
 
 
So remember to check often. Be careful while imbibing. Don’t be too hard on yourself. And have a happy and fun time this December.

Five things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

It is heavy heart time here in my part of the world, as people all over my country celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, while wondering what the coming changes in Washington will bring. Before we know it, the holiday shopping season will kick in (if it hasn’t already), and December will be another blur.
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There is a lot to be anxious about this Thanksgiving. There’s no denying that. But there is still much to be thankful for. So, from me to you, here is my list:
 
 
1. I’m thankful for family this year. Not so much the family that voted the way I didn’t, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. If the subject comes up, my plan is to remind them that they were wrong to vote the way they did (I’m not letting that go), and leave it at that. I can argue about it another day. And here’s something to remember if you’re in the same boat this weekend: presidential elections happen once every four years. Family is forever. If you’re lucky enough to have some family near you, count your blessings in addition to giving thanks.

2. I’m more than thankful for my diabetes friends around the world. I have experienced far more kindness from all of you than one man deserves. I will think about you often whenever I think about the things I am most thankful for this year. And every year.

3. I’m thankful for health insurance. And prescription insurance. I’ve been to the doctor more than usual this year. Just about two weeks ago, I went to the eye doctor for a thorough checkup. It seems like whenever I see a healthcare professional these days, I can’t help but think of the people who do not have the level of access to care that I do, and I can’t help but remember that I’m quite fortunate indeed to have the coverage I have, and the ability to pay for it (for now, anyway).

4. While we’re sort of on the subject, how can I not be thankful for the insulin that keeps me alive every day? It is literally a crying shame that all over the world, people still die after a diabetes diagnosis for lack of available insulin. I am so thankful to have a ready supply.

5. I couldn’t be more thankful for the incredible global force of diabetes advocates that exist everywhere. While they may not all know me personally, they care about me and work to secure and ensure access to drugs and devices, education and assistance, and a fair shake among insurance companies and government agencies. Without our vast network of diabetes advocates, our going would be a lot tougher and our path to innovation would be a lot steeper. They deserve our gratitude every single day.
 
 
Wherever you are, whatever your day looks like, whether you live in the USA or elsewhere, I hope you’ll take a moment and reflect on the things that you are truly thankful for. I’ll bet there are more than a few. There will be plenty of time Friday to rant over things that aren’t perfect. This year, I’m going to spend my Thanksgiving expressing my gratitude and enjoying the people closest to me.

I wish you all the best this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!

My holiday message: I’m grateful.

Because it’s an important holiday for me tomorrow, I just wanted to take a moment to say Merry Christmas, and wish each of you a healthy, happy, and safe New Year.

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It’s been a whirlwind kind of year, and as difficult a December as any I can remember. Still, I’m grateful to have access to drugs and therapies that help to keep me alive every day. I’m grateful to have a roof over my head and a job to go to.

Most of all, I’m grateful for my diabetes friends, who have all been kind, helpful, friendly, and supportive throughout this year. You know who you are, and even though I’d like to find a way to do it, I can’t thank you enough.

Enjoy your holiday season. Be safe. And remember:

I support you… no conditions.
 
 
 

Making the most of your holiday season.

This is not advice… but if you’re interested in my opinion, here are the three things I feel I need to be able to navigate the holidays with diabetes as part of my life:

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Get plenty of rest. I’m not someone who needs a lot of sleep. Usually, about five or six hours and I’m good to go for the next day. Only the holidays, with their mix of special events, crazy hours (New Year’s Eve, weeknight parties), and lots of delicious food and drink that isn’t consumed at any other time of year, make getting enough rest a priority for me. If I’m properly rested, especially if I get seven or eight hours of sleep, I’m ready to go when The Great Spousal Unit calls me at work and says “Let’s drive around and look at Christmas lights tonight”. I don’t want to miss out on the holiday fun because I didn’t get enough shuteye the night before.

Get as much exercise as possible. With all of the things mentioned above, it’s no wonder our exercise routines get thrown out of whack for the month of December. I get that. I’m the same way. What I have noticed, however, especially in the past few years, is that the more exercise I can get in, the better I feel, no matter what I’m up to. Like diabetes, the holidays are a marathon, not a sprint. Speaking from experience, let me tell you… when you stress your body every day due to lack of sleep and eating and drinking too much, by the time you reach mid-December, you’re soooo ready for the holidays to be over. Any exercise you can squeeze in this month can help mitigate that feeling, partly because you’ll burn off some of those calories you’re consuming, and partly due to the endorphins that are released during exercise.

That said…

Enjoy the holidays as much as you can with the ones you love and care about. Even if you can’t get as much rest as you’d like or you aren’t able to exercise, let’s remember: We only have so many special people in our lives, and we only have so many holiday seasons in our lives. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and do things you don’t normally do. Remember to spend time with the people who want to be with you, and tell them how glad you are that they are a part of your life. Find the joy and happiness that this season is supposed to be about. It’s okay to be a walking Hallmark card. Finding your happiness is even supposed to be good for your diabetes. So… if you celebrate with loved ones this December, you’re kinda doing something that will pay dividends down the road.

Okay, maybe I’m reaching a bit on that last point. But as someone who’s missed out on a lot because I was too bummed out or jaded or whatever to participate, I can tell you that happiness is everything it’s cracked up to be. And you deserve to be happy.

I’ll be moderating Wednesday night’s DSMA Twitter chat beginning at 9:00 eastern time here in the USA. With the beginning of Hanukkah Tuesday night, and Christmas just a week away, and New Year’s a week after that, I suspect we’ll be talking a bit about the holidays and diabetes. Follow @DiabetesSocMed and the #DSMA hashtag to join the conversation.

And while I’m at it, Thank You for reading and being such an important part of my life this year. Happy Holidays!
 
 
 

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