Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Bob Pedersen, over at T Minus Two http://tminustwo.net, posted a thoughtful essay on awareness, using asthma as an example.  It's definitely worth a read.

I have a couple of thoughts on awareness, too. The first is, that healthy people need to become aware that others are struggling with diseases and disabilities that are invisible.

We, as a society, have indeed, made some progress on making buildings more accessible to those in wheelchairs, for example. I remember seeing a lot of ads a long time ago, showing a person in a wheelchair sitting there, looking at a flight of stairs, which is an immediate and visual way of communicating the problem.

An asthmatic with an inhaler is also very visual, and an ad of someone gasping desperately for breath would be very easily understood as well. People with asthma can and do participate in sports (some people's asthma is triggered by exertion) by using the appropriate meds, (Jackie Joyner Kersee is the star example), but still, it can be life-threatening, and they are faced with the same double-sided sword as we are -- do you portray them as capable of doing what everyone else can do? Or do you portray them as suffering and taking meds for a life-threatening condition? Or, third option, do you take the forethought to portray what they are doing successfully, but clearly include the things they have to do to keep themselves alive and comfortable? And the balancing act between current and future side effects, and being comfortable now?

Can you see the parallels between asthma and diabetes? If the public were aware of how much work those successful athletes and celebrities put into controlling their diabetes while appearing "normal" during their performances, there might be more awareness of the struggle. It would also be nice to see people with diabetes who are doing impressive things in spite of complications. I think that would be a good way to let the public see both sides of the diabetes story -- the very real successes and interesting lives that people with diabetes live, and the efforts and work and difficulties that accompany them.

And of course, with diabetes, the awareness needs to include knowing the signs and symptoms of onset, and for those who are diagnosed, learning how to manage it successfully, but that's kind of another topic.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Coping with an eating disorder in time of stress

Well, one of my dearest friends has been near death for 2 weeks, and I responded as usual, by manipulating food and insulin, which I know is not the world's best way of coping with grief and worry. So I asked my psychiatrist to increase my antidepressant AND I talked to Lorraine, the dietitian/therapist about the fact that all I could find comfort in was either bingeing or overdoing the sleeping pills. Again, not the world's best way of coping. So we decided that it might be a good idea if I went back and attended some of the groups at CFH. And made a commitment to eat something 3 times a day, even if it's not a "balanced" meal, which I sometimes just can't face. Starting on Monday.

So the good news is that my friend miraculously came out of her coma last Tuesday -- it was NOT expected by the doctors, who had been advising the family to pull the plug. She is weak and being taken care of in a nursing home, but at least it means that I get a little more time with her -- not going to lose her just yet.

So I've been on an emotional rollercoaster, and now that I've come down from the euphoria of knowing that my friend has survived, I realize that I'm on a downward spiral again, and even though I don't like groups, maybe it will help me get back on track again. Because I know I'm doing behaviors that aren't quite right. Like, yeah, I've been eating 3 times a day, but keeping the portions small, and sometimes just a piece of fruit and a cup of tea or coffee. And by that time, I'm full. And I don't WANT to eat any more than that.

So I'm going to have to do some work on portion sizes and meal composition and variety, because I find those very difficult. But at least I'm in a place I can work on them, now that the worry about my friend has been lifted.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don't be a doormat

 It is unfortunate to have T1 diabetes -- I wouldn't wish it on ANYONE, but there it is. So, since our bodies aren't making insulin, then the insulin we take is what will help us be healthy and happy, just what we pretty much all wish for. While it will never stop being a nuisance (for me, the biggest obstacle is always having to be aware of the carb counts for what I eat), it's really only a small part of life, if you think about it. Many people have lived long, healthy, successful lives with T1 and you can, too. For me, it's just accepting that I have it, and it won't go away, no matter how much I wish it would, and my BG numbers will never be perfect, so, OK, fine. The second part is that my family told me I was fat as a child, which I wasn't (it's just that my sister was skin-and-bones thin), and my mantra, every day, and every time I think of it, is I'm NOT fat, and I DIDN'T cause my diabetes. I'm guessing that pretty much everyone, not just diabetics, needs to remember that humans come in a variety of body shapes, and if stupid people make ignorant remarks, it's your right to REJECT those remarks, and remind yourself of the truth. I sometimes wish that young people, especially teenagers, had the knowledge and self-confidence to simply say, "LIAR" when someone tells them how they should manage their diabetes, or how much insulin they should be taking, or what they should or should not be eating. Because we have to FIGHT against the people who are trying so hard to undermine us while thinking they are being helpful. Educate the ones who can be educated, and abandon those who can't. Or set a boundary, like "I won't talk with you about that." Because in the end, you can be healthy, and you can take control of your own life and emotions, if you don't let other people treat you like a doormat.