Working Out With No Obstacles

Hello friends! My name is Judy and I’ve been a T1 diabetic for 18 years now! You may know me from my Instagram account @hyper.hypo and blog/shop (www.diahyperhypo.com), and you may already know how much I love to help other T1s with my experiences and tips. I believe that diabetes should never be a limitation, and with a positive attitude and positive thoughts, it is easier to live with this disease that often feels like riding a rollercoaster.

I know that having T1 can often lead to a lot of questions:  ‘’Should I inject for this’’, ‘’Should I eat now?’, ‘’Should I tell people I’m low and not actually drunk?’’ However, in my opinion, one of the main subjects that us T1s tend to ask questions about is type one diabetes and exercise. A lot of diabuddies think that they need to workout less or not at all because of their numbers, or even limit themselves to a type of exercise but I am telling you with full confidence: THAT IS NOT TRUE!

I believe so much in the affirmation: ‘’Diabetes is not a limitation’’ that I decided to launch my own line of diabetes sportswear.

I decided to create something that will empower a lot of type ones when exercising: a sports bra with an integrated pocket to put the insulin pump (or PDM or supplies or phone, you decide!). I know that working out while having T1 diabetes brings extra responsibilities, so having a pocket that will let you have an intensive and satisfying workout will motivate you to get off your couch and move!

In my case, every time I work out, I feel good. You may think: ‘’Okay Judy that is so cliché!’’ It is, I have to admit it, but it’s the truth! Here are my 3 main tips that help me exercise with type one diabetes:

  1. It’s okay to change your schedule

Be mindful. Accept the fact that you didn’t stick to your workout plan. Accept the fact that you exercised during the evening and not in the morning like you planned to because of your numbers. Once you accept that your schedule might me modified, you will be happier while working out. Things happen!

2. Try to workout with no insulin on board

Working out in the morning works best because there is no insulin in the body (well usually). Sometimes, the blood sugar might spike, so it is important to know your body and to know that a correction might be needed. If there is insulin on board (meaning you injected yourself not so long before), you might need to set a temporary basal rate (if you’re on the pump) or try to inject less insulin before a meal/snack before a workout for next time.

3. Yes, what you eat is important!

Food. Everybody loves food, right? The thing with food is that it can give you instant satisfaction, but might get you lazy if you don’t eat something good for you. Eating a lot of vegetables, fruits and fibers will get you motivated and won’t make you say:

“Ugh yeah I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.” Eating proteins and carbs coming from non-fatty foods will make you feel good, help with your digestion, and affect your numbers before/ after a workout in a beautiful way!

And always remember: Train 30mn a day to avoid being tired 24h a day!

– Judy

Keep Fighting Toward Your Fitness Goals

So I thought I’d share how difficult it is to live with a chronic illness and try and stay fit.

The picture on the right was last year… when I had just had a colonoscopy to determine how inflamed my bowel was. Shortly after, I was hospitalized due to my colitis. In that week I had lost around 8kg in weight in the space of 5 days. Everything I ate went straight out. I had been in decent physical shape externally but internally I was in bits. I felt incredibly weak. I had no energy, but I still tried to work and live my life as normally as possible. At the time I even tried to celebrate the fact I looked half decent. 🙈 But when you look at the photo closely, I look very skinny. I was then put on some heavy duty drugs to get my colitis in check. Gained loads of weight in hospital and then went home.

Fast forward to may of this year. I’ve managed to get to a decent shape however I’m the strongest I have ever been. I manage to beat my personal gym goals every week and my colitis seems to be under control. 🤛👏

I saw this photo in my feed and wanted you to understand that physically and mentally I’m in a much better place. Everything is going in the right direction and with more hardwork and dedication I’ll get to where I want to be.

Even last year I said I’ll have to start my journey again. It really got me down but if something is worth doing… it wouldn’t be easy….or everyone would do it 😅👌

It doesn’t matter where you are in your IBD journey. It will always keep moving forward it you BELIEVE you can do it

IBD May Be a Beast, But It Is Worth Fighting

I was at the top of my game having just graduated college with a Wall Street career all lined up and BAM, just like that, the colitis hit.

At the tender age of 22, when my life was just supposed to be beginning, my life became a perpetual case of where’s the nearest bathroom and having to bolt to avoid accidents. Between wearing diapers and trying to date while popping pills and using enemas, I began to realize how tenuous life is. It was a scary proposition because my dad passed away at 39 years old from a wicked case of Crohn’s that turned into colorectal cancer, and his sister quickly followed suit. And here I was, barely awake from my first of 100+ colonoscopies, hearing the words ulcerations and inflammation thrown around. It was unnerving and terrifying all at once.

Today, 12 years, 20+ surgeries and hundreds of procedures later. I’m happy to say that I’m still alive and kicking. I continued working in investment banking, taking time off to mend from surgeries until the stress, the fatigue and constant flare-ups did me in enough times. A decade ago, after returning from my 24th birthday in Cancun, I developed a horrible case of food poisoning and I was never the same again. I took antibiotics, which gave me c.dificile, a debilitating infection caused by antibiotic overuse. It resulted in 15-20 bowel movements a day, watery diarrhea, nausea and dehydration.

And that c.diff subsequently brought about a never-ending colitis flare that lasted 8 years. I cried in my former gastroenterologist’s office as I had an accident in his hallway and as I continued to lose weight and along with it, my sense of self and personality. At the end of 2007, I was 135 lbs. By mid-2008, I had tried every medication and alternative treatment under the sun, lost 50 lbs., and was being fed by an intravenous PICC line in my arm. I was dying.

I was rushed to the hospital where my surgeon removed my colon on the 4th of July. As I found out later, he and his boss, the chair of colorectal surgery,

…were unsure I would survive the operation. Heck, I was certain I wouldn’t.

But I had no choice. I was told death was certain if I didn’t have surgery. As Independence Day came and went, I woke up alive and very thankful to no longer be dependent on a disease-ravaged colon. And overnight, I found myself a new bff, my stoma Snuffleupagus, as named by my ever-devoted husband.

It took about 2 months of receiving IV nutrition and antibiotics before I began to eat more than a morsel of food. And how can I forget spending my 25th birthday in the hospital with yet another bout of c. dificile? I recovered nearly 6 months later and went on to have some more surgeries so that my surgeon could fashion a j-shaped pouch from my small intestine, which would allow me to defecate like a normal person again. Before long, I developed pouchitis, a new brand of inflammation that hits in the j-pouch and causes IBD symptoms of bloody diarrhea 20 times a day.

After several months of on-again, off-again pouchitis, I was left on a rotation of antibiotics for a few years. That was until the pouch began to fistulize, or burrow holes into other organs. My diagnosis was changed from UC to Crohn’s. I developed a total of 5 rectovaginal abscesses that became full-fledged fistulae, which resulted in UTIs galore along with immense pain and bleeding, in addition to multiple surgeries. Along with it, I developed a whole host of extraintestinal joint and dermatologic manifestations of the Crohn’s.

To allow the fistulae to heal, I was yet again rushed to the operating table and was given a stoma. I was again fed by IV lines as I began to retry biologics; when none of them worked, I was told to have the pouch excised. I had exhausted all my options and fought so hard for 6 years to keep that pouch. I felt like I had failed.

My pouch was removed, and I was left with a large wound and a permanent ostomy. Except the wound never closed like it was supposed to. I bled for months and went for a second opinion at the Cleveland Clinic where I was told that the Crohn’s had continued, and pieces of j-pouch and rectum were still inside. There was a massive honeycomb-like abscess in my pelvis where the j-pouch once was. According to MRI reports, a pelvic fistula had formed and was headed for my spine. I was told it could paralyze me. Major corrective surgery was my only option. I was given a PICC line yet again to deliver IV antibiotics and restarted Adalimumab.

I went for a third opinion at Mayo Clinic where the surgeon wanted to try a new technique. He re-excised the pouch 3 more times so that no pieces of bowel would be left behind to cause the Crohn’s to spread. He left a wound the size of a small football and I was left with a wound VAC attached for 4 weeks thereafter. Every alternate day I had a procedure under sedation in my room to debride the wound. The VAC was pulled after a month and I was left with a 3-inch deep wound for my mom and husband to pack.

After such excruciating pain, I thought I was out of the woods, but another RV fistula was found, which was perplexing because I had no rectum left. It was just a hole, something I was told had only been seen twice before. My doctor prescribed antibiotics, 6-mp and a double dose of Ustekinumab, which was still in trials for Crohn’s. It took several months of misery, but the wound finally closed, and the fistula was untraceable.

Come 2016, the word “remission” was being thrown around for the first time in my life. And I didn’t know what to do with myself. When a disease snatches one’s womanhood, how does one begin to resurrect oneself?

Nevertheless, after 3 near-death experiences, I am thankful to be alive and for every single surgery and every single breath. Every time I have fallen, I have picked myself up higher than before. And that is my very own personal miracle and my greatest achievement to date. My medical staff, my friends and family and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation are my rocks, my backbones and a source of constant support. Every time I lose hope, they help me stay afloat.

A year and a half later, yes, I have 8 new chronic diagnoses to manage, but I refuse to go down without a fight. My battle with Crohn’s has given me a newfound appreciation for life, a joie de vivre, like no other. Not a single day goes by without me remembering how far I’ve come and how much life I have yet to live. I may not be able to work but I am able to volunteer in between health crises. Co-facilitating the Foundation’s Women’s Support Group has given me a voice, a platform to raise awareness for these awful diseases and help women like myself advocate for treatment and maintenance of care.

IBD may be a beast, but it is worth putting up a fight for your loved ones and most of all, for yourself.

IBD may derail our careers, educations and relationships but it cannot take away who we are at our core. We must keep on fighting the good fight and never lose hope.

Here I am today, continuing to fight in the memory of my late father, for my dear mother and husband as well as all the friends who have stood by me along the way. I fight for new treatments to be developed and for a cure someday. I fight for you and me, for all of us at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

THE MORNING SUGAR: A Window into your Type One Management

I lie in bed with one eye open, ears still ringing from my poorly selected, overplayed alarm tone. I sit half hunched over my glucose monitor attempting the first blood-drop-to-test-strip co-ordination of the day. Its 05h30, I have fasted for 6 to 8 hours, it’s time to dive into diabetes. My test strip sucks up the drop of blood and counts down to my first glucose reading of the day:

BEEP: 4.6mmol/l (84)

OR

BEEP: 9.6mmol/l (173)

OR

BEEP 16.6mmol/l (299)

The good, the average and the ugly.
These are the 3 general ranges of readings that might greet me at the first finger prick of the day. It’s only one of the many sugar readings that lie ahead, but it is a special one to pay attention to, as your morning glucose reading can provide important insight into your diabetes control.

A fasted reading has a myriad of information which you can choose to ignore, or preferably dissect and investigate for optimum diabetes control. I believe it is vital to ask myself why? Why is my blood glucose this level and what were my preceding actions?

I will take you through my 3 ranges and my general approach to morning sugar readings and how I personally troubleshoot these readings. We each tackle diabetes differently, but hopefully the following brings some insight into your morning sugars or encourages you think critically of those interesting rise and shine numbers!

The “Gem”
My personal values are 3.8-5.6mmol/l

Oh this is a sweet, gem of a reading. It’s the real “roll out of bed on the right side” number.
Perfectly in range, it is still important to acknowledge the formula that achieved this number. We could all do with a little positive reinforcement and mindfully recognize and enjoy our diabetes successes! I always ask myself, “What did I do well?”

This sugar reading generally informs me that I have correctly dosed my long acting insulin as it did not bring me into the clutch of hypoglycaemia when fasting during my sleep. It was also sufficient to meet the cascade of morning hormones such as cortisol and hyperglycaemia it brings along with it. This sugar happily greets me when I don’t snack after dinner and I eat around 3 hours before bed-time. This plan allows for an honest, stable blood sugar reading before bed where my injected insulin has already peaked in activity, and I can expect predictable glucose readings as I sleep.

The “Meh”
My personal values are 6-9mmol/l

It’s a sugar range that is higher than I would like for a fasting blood glucose level, but it’s not remotely the end of the world. To solve this morning glucose and to prevent it creeping higher, I have my insulin dosage for my breakfast plus a dash more insulin to correct. I wait 20-30 minutes for my insulin to start working and bring my glucose down before having my breakfast. I ask my “why?” and make a mental note of how I could improve and act accordingly. If went to bed with a great blood glucose level and I woke up high, it could be various things:

1. Insufficient long-acting insulin: The Dawn phenomenon

When I have my continuous glucose monitor (CGM), the Dexcom, attached, this will be displayed as a nice steady graph with readings in glucose range for the first 2/3rds of sleep, only to find in the few hours before waking my blood glucose slowly and steadily increases. This is due to the get-up-and-go hormones that pump through your body to prepare you for waking and tackling the day. These sneaky buggers include growth hormones, cortisol, glucagon and epinephrine and they increase your insulin resistance, causing blood sugar to rise.

2. Too much insulin: The Somogyi effect

This is an interesting stress response of your body, a rebound effect of low blood glucose while sleeping. If you have too much insulin, long acting or short acting, and you experience a low while sleeping your body mounts a survival response and encourages your body to release sugar back into your blood via adrenaline and cortisol. This low may not be rapid or severe enough to cause a seizure, but sufficient to mount a physiological survival response from your body.

3. Not enough short-acting insulin

This is usually prompted by snacking before bed and eating late. My stomach is still full and has not emptied. My blood sugar will be in range when I get to sleep, but as my tummy works to digest my food, sugar trickles into my blood which I thought I had sufficiently covered by my short-acting. This especially occurs if I eat meals that have a carbohydrate, protein and high fat content. It has even been dubbed “The Pizza Effect”, where fats and protein delay the absorption of carbohydrates from a meal. The most challenging part is that you don’t know when the carbohydrates are going to be dumped into your bloodstream as sugar. It could be more than 5 hours until you feel the true effect of your meal. This could also be a reason for a really high morning blood glucose reading, the one where you would rather turn over and head back to sleep, which brings me to my final morning range, which I like to call the “Lie in Bed for a Few Minutes in Denial”.

The “Lie in Bed for a Few Minutes in Denial”
My personal values are anything double digit

The “Man, I messed up” feels. I most likely did not give myself enough insulin for the previous night’s meal, or I ate complete rubbish, did a massive carbohydrate count guestimate (that’s right folks- guess and estimate can really be combined into one perfect word), it could be “the pizza effect”, or I forgot my long acting insulin.

The alternative explanation is that I woke up with low in the middle of the night and quite passionately, dove into my bedside glucose stash, bathed myself in sugar before falling back asleep in a pile a sweet wrappers. (Yes, I have awoken with gummy sweets melted into my back and bed sheet).

If my sugars are really bad in the morning, there is usually a pretty grand, blatantly obvious reason as to why they are absolutely deranged. I find myself glancing in the mirror, at my poor, hard-done-by face to ask myself why? My expression smirks, “Oh girl, you know why. You know.”

This is where the power of the mind can transform your day. You can switch to victim. You can choose guilt and actively bring yourself down. You can choose to let a number on a plastic monitor define your day or you can free yourself from mental binds, for you are capable, you are strong and you are going to tackle the day.

My go-to plan of action:

1. Massive bottle of water with loads of top ups
2. Small simple, low sugar breakfast (I find waiting for my sugars to come down before eating leaves me more frantic and stressed)
3. More water
4. Add Insulin
Tip: Don’t give yourself 70000 units because you are panicking and desperately want your sugar to go down as quickly as possible (TRACY SANDERS I am talking to you girl). A resultant severe hypoglycaemia does not make it easier to improve the day.
5. Forgive yourself, give thanks to your body for all the other goodness it brings to you and power forward.

Transform your WHY’s into WISE, pay attention to each nugget of information your body and glucometer communicates to you. By building up an understanding of your sugars, you build a stronger relationship with your body and mind. Work closely with your support network, endocrinologist and diabetes educator to make the correct adjustments to suite your body, always ask questions and challenge your knowledge and experience of type one.

Real Talk with Dave: How to Stay Positive with T1D (Dealing with Burnout)

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with Type 1 Diabetes to the point where you just don’t want to deal with it anymore? You may feel the need to cope with your Diabetes in a different way. Many will go off their Insulin pump for a while and go back to daily syringes/ pen injections as a way to feel a sense of freedom from this disease. Unfortunately, us Diabetics cannot just “stop” Diabetes. We have to fight daily in order to stay alive. We have to take Insulin in different moments throughout the day and watch our blood sugars fluctuate from stubborn highs to difficult lows. At some point, we all go through a burnout phase where T1D just doesn’t feel bearable anymore, that is why I have put together a little guide as to how you can stand up to the burnout phase and keep on pushing through!

1/ Keep a positive mindset – This seems easier said than done, but trust me, in order to feel a positive presence on you as you go about your day, every morning, start the day fresh and new and remind yourself of all your accomplishments in life and how far you have come. Always let yourself know who you are and how brave and strong you are.

2/ Self-talk – Every day is different and some days (as we all know) can be very bad in terms of our Diabetes. There is a lot to think about throughout our day, things such as what our blood sugars may be, what supplies we need to have with us as we go somewhere during the day, and also planning for emergencies, that being said, we must make room for thoughts of reassurance. We need to talk ourselves through a bad low and tell ourselves that everything will be okay, just like it always is. We need to be our own friend who will be there when no one else is. Having positive and calm self-talk is a good way to walk you through your day and be your own hero.

3/ Do what makes you feel alive – we all face Diabetes every moment of everyday, and it can almost feel as though everything is about Diabetes. Sometimes, we may not want to think about Diabetes all the time (within reason), that is why we need to make time for other things in life that bring us true joy and help take our minds off of T1D for a bit. Doing something you love, such as going out with friends, playing a sport, or spending time with family can be the very thing that can help you cope with T1D burnout.

4/ Take a pump holiday – Though it may be difficult to keep your blood sugars in your normal range, taking a break from wearing your Insulin pump (if you wear one) can make you feel free and have one less thing constantly reminding you of your Diabetes. You can do this for a day, a week, or even a whole month, it’s really up to you. However long you need to take a break from wearing your pump, go for it, because what some don’t realize is that wearing a pump can change a person and mess with their emotions (in some cases) to the point where they feel “different”, which isn’t that case at all. Wearing a pump is a blessing and is what essentially keeps us alive each and every day.

5/ Accept your struggle – Just know that eventually, this T1D burnout phase you may be going through will go away and you will be able to get back in the game. Remember, we ALL face burnout periods in our life, but guess what? We all get over them eventually. Accepting the fact that you are stressed out, annoyed, and tired of T1D is sometimes what we need to get over that phase. Sometimes, just feeling the sadness you are going through is important and perfectly okay, because when you feel it, you work through it. It’s all one big learning process on how to cope with your thoughts and emotions. At the end of the day, we’re all humans. Diabetic or not, we go through tough life situations and working through them is just one way to grow as a person and be able to allow for empathy towards others going through difficult life situations.

6/ You are not alone – When you feel like all things are going wrong with your Diabetes, a great way to vent off and work through it all is turning to the amazing T1D community that is out there, waiting to help out in any way. Connecting with others (in person or online via social media) can help you as you will soon realize that you are not the only one dealing with burnout at the moment and that you can fight T1D together. This has been especially helpful to me as I was in a dark place for a while until I turned to the community for help and support. Now, I am at the happiest place I have ever been with my Diabetes and I realized that T1D is not all that bad.

7/ Live your life! – I get it, T1D is a horrible disease. But just remember, you are bigger, better, and stronger than T1D. Remember to smile through it all, laugh daily, and be kind to others. Make life how you want and always choose to stay actively positive, because when you are positive, whether you’re high or low, you will have motivation and strength to keep on going and T1D will just be one of those things in life we end up getting used to. When we feel like we’ve mastered T1D, we’ll be able to accept what’s on our plate at the moment.

I truly hope these tips and tricks on how to cope with T1D burnout helped you out if you are feeling this at the moment. It’s okay to be frustrated at times, but be sure to never stay in that phase forever. Life is too short to stay in a bad place with your Diabetes.

Live well,

Dave

Lyfestories: Jessica Proto’s Breast Cancer Journey

It was the spring of 2017, around March. I was lying in my bed thinking that it had been a while since I did my last breast self-examination. I started to check my left breast and I could quickly feel a small lump there. I checked both breasts and under my arms, no lumps any other places. I asked my boyfriend to check if he could feel it, and he did. I immediately went online and googled “lump in breast”, which led me to several places that explained that a tumor would be hard and very firm, and not easy to move. Since my lump didn’t have those characteristics, I thought that probably it was just a fat cyst, so I waited another month before I checked it again. The second time I checked it I could still feel it; it had the same size, but just to be sure I wanted my doctor to feel it. He sent me to a clinic to take some tests of it. Unfortunately the results came back positive. Me, a 27-year-old girl, had breast cancer.

I think I was in shock at first. I managed to tell my mum that I had some cell alterations, while I told my sister and my brother that I had cancer. Because of my age they wanted me to take another test, just to make sure that it actually was cancer. The second time I got the answer to my result it was easier for me to tell my family and friends that it was, in fact, cancer. I always thought that cancer was something I probably would get when I got old, and it’s still weird for me to think about it.

My lump was small and I started off with surgery the 18th of august 2017. They removed the lump, analyzed it and the tissue around it and found two more tiny lumps. I had to have another surgery to make sure they removed everything, and then started chemotherapy in November. I consider chemo to be my toughest friend. One of those friends that constantly tells you the truth because they want what’s best for you, even if it hurts you a little bit. Chemo hurts my cells, makes my body ache and tired, but it is for my very best. My treatment journey is not over yet, I’ve still got a few months left, and then I can look back at this as a hard chapter of my life.

I am one of the lucky ones and that is why I’ve always tried to stay positive. I know that I’m surviving this so I usually don’t feel that I have any reason to be sad. I do have a bad day now and then, tired of the whole thing and just want to get back to my “normal” life. I miss my long hair and I don’t feel very feminine anymore. But, my hair will grow back, and I will get my “normal” life back. I also found it soothing to share my story with others. It makes me so happy if I can manage to change just one person’s life. I also would like women to open up their eyes and be more aware of this illness. I know a lot of women who started to check themselves at home after finding out about me. I do it every two-three months, and that is why I’m lucky to survive this. My message to you out there, men and women, is: If you are afraid something is wrong or you are not sure how to do a self-examination and need help, call your doctor. It could really save your life like it did to me.

Keep smiling, and stay positive. Life is good.

Lyfestories: Ijmal’s Outlook on Battling Ulcerative Colitis

I am Ijmal Haider, and I have Ulcerative Colitis.

I was diagnosed in November 2015, and prior to my diagnosis I knew very little about the illness. In a very short period of time, summer of 2015, I had lost a significant amount of weight; I was dealing with a lot of cramping and bloating. I went and saw my family doctor, and he said most likely it was stress related but just to be safe he recommended me to a gastroenterologist. Around that time I was dealing with a lot of stress, I was at the peak of my career in Real Estate development, working on the biggest project of my career, I was writing nationally for publications and newspapers, and I was dealing with lots of personal stress as well, so I believed it to be pressure related.

When I met with the GI she asked the pressing questions regarding my lifestyle, my workload, my self-care routines, and all the questions related to my symptoms. Based on the information she had she said it was important we set up a colonoscopy, she said she was suspecting it to be colon cancer. My scope wouldn’t be for another three months from that time. I didn’t want to worry anyone, so I kept her suspicions to myself until my scope. For three months I kept that information to myself and naturally stressed in silence.

In November of 2015 when I had my first colonoscopy I found out I had ulcerative colitis, not colon cancer. In a groggy state, post scope, I struggled to ask the proper questions to understand what the diagnosis meant, I was overloaded with photos and literature and prescriptions.

This allowed me to understand the severity of what I was dealt with, painting a vivid picture of the research I would need to do and the alterations I would need to make to my life. I quickly learned researching diseases on the internet was a trap that seemed to always lead to the darkest corners.

For two years I was consumed with my illness, what it meant for me. I was skeptical to make plans or have fun. My biggest fears were always what if I eat the wrong thing, what if I need to use the bathroom while out, what if I show any sign of weakness amongst my friends,family, and peers. So, I became a bit of a recluse. My illness had taken over my life, all plans revolved around ulcerative colitis. I had put my career, my passions, my creativity and dreams on the back burner.

Spring of 2017, when nothing seemed to be working to reduce inflammation or to make me feel better; I decided to explore Naturopathic medicine, in conjunction with my regular medications. I wanted to try every possible option, so I would have no regrets. In this process I learned so much, I learned the importance of diet, the importance of stress management, understanding what ulcerative colitis actually was and how it affected the body.

I was put on plans to reduce inflammation, create proper diets without irritants, and reduce stress. This definitely helped with many aspects of how I was feeling.

During this time someone close to me gave me one powerful piece of advice, he said “Ijmal, you are not ulcerative colitis,” which really resonated with me. My naturopath had mentioned to start journaling to help reduce the shame, anxiety, stress, and the isolation that the illness brought to my life. When I was diagnosed there were very few outlets I came across that assisted in tackling the psychological effects of having an invisible illness. This is where I decided rather than keeping a private journal I would create a public blog. My blog garnered attention and lead to many people around the world reaching out to me to share their own stories, or to thank me for sharing mine. I was uncovering a community, eliminating shame and stigma, and breaking down the isolation I had felt for the first two years of my diagnosis.

Fall 2017, a friend and I decided to start a web series, called ‘Help Us, YYC’ to tackle the stigma of living with gut issues and invisible illnesses. A tool to educate and help people feel connected and allow them to feel less scared about what they are going through.

In 2018, I find myself having increased inflammation and preparing to start biologic treatments, but I have also found my individuality, my creativity, my career, and purpose again. Through the community I stumbled upon and the stories I have heard I have never felt more prepared to tackle the next step in this journey. I found my peace through the idea of helping others in turn they have ended up helping me.

Lyfebulb Partners with UnitedHealth Group to Support Patient-Driven Innovations for People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Lyfebulb, a chronic disease-focused, patient-empowerment platform that connects patients, industry and investors to support user-driven innovation, is partnering with UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) to launch an innovation challenge featuring new businesses and products aimed at treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, up to 1.3 million people in the United States are affected by IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Lyfebulb and UnitedHealth Group will help raise awareness for the conditions and stimulate user-driven innovation. By linking entrepreneurs with representatives from UnitedHealth Group and Lyfebulb, the partnership will spotlight the entrepreneurs’ efforts and ideas, and provide professional discussion, direction and inspiration.

The innovation challenge, to take place in the spring and summer of 2018, will be open to entrepreneurs living with IBD, or who have family members living with IBD, who have founded a company to develop an innovative idea for better management of IBD using pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices or consumer products. Eligibility criteria and official rules will be announced by Lyfebulb in April. UnitedHealth Group will host an innovation event in July for 10 finalists. A panel of judges will award cash prizes to three winners, to be used for their company’s further development of the winning innovations.

“Patients living with chronic disease and caregivers caring for someone with chronic disease understand the many challenges they face and are often in the best position to offer tangible solutions,” said Deneen Vojta, M.D., executive vice president, Research & Development, UnitedHealth Group. “UnitedHealth Group’s partnership with Lyfebulb will help place the patient at the center of early-stage innovation, thus providing us a unique opportunity to learn from and be inspired by patient-entrepreneurs.”

“This partnership with UnitedHealth Group in IBD means a tremendous amount to Lyfebulb in our efforts to enhance patient-driven innovation,” said Dr. Karin Hehenberger, CEO and Founder of Lyfebulb. “Continuing to build on the concept of patient entrepreneurs and partnering with leaders across health care are key components to fulfilling our mission to improve the quality of life of people living with chronic disease.”

Press Contact for Lyfebulb:
Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD, CEO Lyfebulb, phone: 917-575-0210 email: karin@lyfebulb.com

About Lyfebulb
Lyfebulb is a chronic disease focused, patient empowerment platform that connects patients, Industry (manufacturers and payers) and investors to support user-driven innovation. Lyfebulb promotes a healthy, take-charge lifestyle for those affected by chronic disease. Grounded with its strong foundation in Diabetes, the company has expanded disease states covered into Cancer and IBD.

See www.lyfebulb.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Karin Hehenberger LinkedIn, and Lyfebulb LinkedIn.

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

Press Contact for UnitedHealth Group:
Jim Merwin, Senior Director, ERD, phone: 952-936-6070, to email: james_merwin@uhg.com

Breast Cancer Warrior Thankful for Early Detection

I am a 70-year-old wife, mother, grandmother and university administrator. My cancer journey began October of 2014 with my annual mammogram followed by the mail notice of an abnormality and the ultrasound to check it out.   I was alone in my office when I got the dreaded call from my doctor telling me it was cancer and that I would need to find a surgeon.

After the initial jolt, I picked up the phone, called my husband and made it real by telling him the terrifying news. I tried to minimize the severity by telling him my doctor said it was small, we got it early, and that I likely could get away with a lumpectomy. I have no history of breast cancer in my family.  

Since it was now almost Christmas, I made the decision to tell only immediate family and deal with everything after the Holidays. So we made it through dinners, parties, Santa and all the fun with the diagnosis hanging in the background like Scrooge. And did I say there were tears…..lots of tears.

The first part of January, I saw a surgeon.  He explained that I could have a lumpectomy or a “mastectomy”– the word took my breath away. No one had talked about a mastectomy. He explained with a lumpectomy came radiation and with radiation came difficulties with reconstruction and increased risks of other cancers. Radiation was a must according to the standard of care.  Mind you, this was a very kind qualified doctor doing his job but delivering news that I was not prepared to hear.

I am a take charge person so for the next month, I visited doctors and plastic surgeons, visited with friends and friends of friends who had gone through breast cancer, researched on the internet to the wee hours of the morning, read studies, sent my doctor daughter in Seattle studies to interrupt in the middle of her 80 hour a week residency, drove my husband crazy with the what ifs, and railed against the forces in the universe that brought me to this untenable spot.  

I was having an incredibly hard time accepting that I really did have cancer and that I was going to have to make a decision about how to deal with it.  

When visiting blogs at 2 AM, it became apparent that I was not the only one out there in my predicament. Many women were doing the same thing trying to sift through all the information by themselves and come up with the decision that worked for them.

As I tell this story, keep it mind it is MY story. Not all woman chose to deal with the diagnosis as I did.  There are many types of treatment options and many types of breast cancer.  It is confusing at best and paralyzing at worst.

At the end of all my research, I decided a unilateral mastectomy with reconstruction was best for me given my fear of the side effects of radiation.  So, on March 9th  2014, I had a relatively new nipple and skin sparing mastectomy which leaves the outer part of the breast intact allowing for a good reconstruction outcome.  The pathology report came back with the great news: I had the “best type of cancer” if you must have cancer and would not need radiation or chemo.

The next three months were tougher than I imagined both physically and especially emotionally. June 1st was the reconstruction day and for the short term the end of the physical journey.  Healing has gone well and results are good.  The emotional journey continues, however.  The grief process is one that takes a little more time and doesn’t move in a linear fashion.  You go through the stages of shock, anger, sadness, and acceptance but not necessarily in that order.  I have entered the stage of acceptance– but on any given day anger and sadness can reappear. I know, however, acceptance is where I want and need to be for my continued healing and well- being.  

I am a stronger, more empathic person because of my breast cancer journey and try to be a spokesperson where ever possible to push the importance of mammograms for early detection.  

Medicine has come so far in what can be done both with the surgeries and the drug therapies for women with breast cancer. I pray my daughters and granddaughters will not have to go through what I have. But if you happen to find that you are one of the unlucky one in eight that end up with breast cancer, there are treatments and options and a marvelous life after cancer if you detect it early.

 

Naturally Sweet



I think it is safe to say that we Diabetics are naturally sweet, but what does that really mean? Well for starters, the saying, “naturally sweet”, can mean an array of things.

Most non-Diabetics will hear the term “Diabetes” and think of people who ate too much sugar or are overweight, but we all know that’s not the case. People will assume that Diabetics cannot consume any sugar or they will die, again, not the case.

Over time, we endure so many different assumptions, labels, and hurtful comments towards our Diabetes that honestly don’t feel good to hear. I’m 20 years old and have had Diabetes for 9 years and still get those comments from non-Diabetics. When I was first diagnosed, those comments didn’t affect me. Fast forward to today, I have educated myself and lived/experienced so much in my Diabetic journey to the point where now, I truly cannot tolerate hurtful assumptions people may say to me or near me. I’m not just speaking for myself. The whole Diabetic community has expressed their frustrations and experiences on dealing with people who viewed them as the stereotypical Diabetic. Some of those comments include: “oh, did you get Diabetes from eating too much sugar?”, “Diabetics can’t eat sugar.”, or “you don’t look Diabetic”. These are just some examples and trust me, I’ve heard much worse.

We are getting so close to the end for Type 1 Diabetes and living out a normal and healthy life has become so much easier and much more manageable due to all the advanced forms of technology, specialized medicine, and even just by spreading awareness and building a community.

The typical stereotypes should not determine our future or our own individual decisions. We can eat sugar. We can do whatever we put our minds to.

And we are so much more capable of doing things that we want to nowadays due to all the advancements that allow us to do so.

Diabetics work hard each day just to stay alive. I think sometimes we all can get carried away and take life for granted, but when you really think about how critical and complex Diabetes management truly is, that in itself can be the main motivator in your life to keep you going.

My point right now is that we are naturally sweet for all these reasons. We are hard-working, focused and motivated, and in it to win it (it being a cure!). We are sweet because we can not only be of an assistance to other Diabetics by creating a kind and inviting environment but at the end of the day, when you look back at all you went through that day and how you took care of yourself, good or bad, you’re simply…sweet!

So go ahead, make a change in this world, prove them wrong, eat that sugary donut or ice cream (with Insulin of course!), because, with that natural fighting spirit we Diabetics are given, we can do literally… ANYTHING!

Live well,

Dave

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