Tag Archives: holidays

Getting a start on New Year’s Resolutioners

Since we’re a little less than two weeks away from Halloween here in the USA, I guess we can start talking about the holiday season.

That’s not because I consider Halloween to be part of the holiday season. To be honest, I don’t really like Halloween that much.

Most of my adult life, I’ve followed kind of a baseball schedule of fitness and nutrition: start working out a little in January, work out a lot in February, get into decent shape by April, keep up the activity until October. Once October hits, rest and allow myself some leeway when it comes to fitness and nutrition, something that lasts a little later than New Year’s Day (leftovers).

That brings me to October. The beginning of October, I’m still doing pretty well. But we always throw a party on the day our neighborhood hosts its Halloween trick or treating (on the Sunday before Halloween). I make what has now become the traditional Cincinnati Chili recipe, which isn’t always the healthiest thing in the world. Especially if it goes on a hot dog. Throw in a few snack here and there, and before you know it, I’ve started a bad annual habit.

Generally, I work hard all year to stay in shape and keep my weight from ballooning. But inevitably, beginning with Halloween and ending after New Year’s Day, I let myself down.

It doesn’t matter what I’m loading up on, or whether this behavior might have potentially dangerous consequences in the future. It’s simply something I’ve made an effort to curb going forward.

I’m not trying to say No to everything now. I’m just trying to moderate, and this year, I’ll be trying to moderate even more than before. Thanks to increased insulin resistance and lower metabolism (Hello, aging), this becomes more critical for me each year.

The good news is, I’m at a point in my life where I’m not motivated by food in general. Most of the time. But not all the time.

I don’t have a strategy that I employ. I just try to eat less, drink less, and eat less and drink less of the things that make it harder to stay in shape and maintain my weight. I also try to remain active, or increase activity, like walking more or doing more yard work, especially in December. It makes me feel like I’m getting a head start on all the New Year’s Resolutioners (Resolutionists?) out there.

Whatever you want to call it, this will be my second year of doing it. Last year, I really dreaded the idea. Now, I’m not so afraid of it.

It’s not about denial… it’s about adding years onto my life, instead of pounds onto my waistline. Is that a bad way to think about it?

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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!

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.
 
 
 

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