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JT’s #RealT1DLyfe: Channeling the Difficulties of Chronic Disease into a Compassionate Career in Medicine

Living with Type 1 for the last 15 years has been simultaneously absolutely exhausting and a compelling/ continuous opportunity for personal growth and empathy-building with other patients of chronic diseases.

My grandmother came to live with my family when I was seven- in very poor health. Unfortunately, like many living in remote rural settings, she lacked access to routine healthcare, and her diabetes had already begun damaging her nerves, affecting her sight, and impairing her kidney function by the time she was diagnosed. My experience with diabetes became even more personal five years later when my own diagnosis was similarly delayed in rural East Texas.

After earning my BS/ MA in Biology and running track at Baylor University, I moved to California to attend Stanford Medical School, and am currently applying to attend residency in Ophthalmology.*Editor’s Note: JT has just been accepted to the program at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, congratulations JT!  During medical school, I’ve been able to start a Bay Area running group and training sessions for young and newly diagnosed diabetics to learn to manage their sugars during exercise. I am also a Dexcom Warrior and Lyfebulb Ambassador, and currently conduct research demonstrating how internet search traffic can be used to locate pockets of patients in need of diabetes-related surgical procedures or healthcare, such as diabetic retinopathy screening programs.

We all know how difficult diabetes can make everyday life – as patients, family members, significant others, across the board. Having been a patient dealing with a chronic disease that affects you every minute of every day has definitely given me a unique perspective and empathy for patients that I wish more doctors could experience. It’s very difficult to see the underlying stress, fear, and frustration that accompany a chronic illness like diabetes. In that way, being diabetic has pushed me to become a better physician and I am so grateful that I get to talk with and encourage other diabetics in the hospital regardless of which service I’m working with.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out! Jonathan Tijerina jdt2015@stanford.edu @jonathan.david.tijerina

My 10 Year Pancreas Transplant Anniversary: A Thank You Letter to the Family who Decided to Offer Their Daughter’s Pancreas

Jan 2, 2010 was the day of my pancreas transplant. This means I have been insulin independent again for exactly 10 years since my T1D diagnosis at age 16.
No words can fully describe how this gift changed my life for the better and how much the experience taught me about the reality of living with T1D. In fact, much of the foundation of Lyfebulb came from these insights: patients need patients and patients can be innovators. Two very important concepts that I only understood after my pancreas transplant.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in July of 1989, and the disease had never fully become a part of me. I hated it from the beginning, and never worked to embrace it. However, I did work hard to study the disease, both as a student of medicine and science as well as a businesswoman later on in my career. I wanted so desperately to get rid of it and I also refused to let it limit me. But it did. I realized how much I was truly burdened by this chronic disease once I was free from having to constantly think about my blood sugar and insulin dosing.

Diabetes took something from me that I never got back, even after regaining insulin independence through transplantation, which was my innocence and belief in happy endings. However, it taught me that fighting would forever be an essential part of my new reality and that being different was always my destiny.

Ten years ago on that morning in January, when I was on the table waiting to be put under and cut open, I had no memory of what life looked like without T1D. Almost 12 hours later, I woke up in great pain but, for the first time in quite a while, was already producing my own insulin that started to heal my failing body.

When I was discharged from the hospital, thus began my road to recovery. I had already been through one transplant nine months prior (a kidney from my father), so I was put on the same drugs, and was in better shape than I was before my first transplant. Only 10 days before my pancreas transplant, I had passed out and hit my forehead on the dishwasher corner, which led to a broken nose, cracked open forehead, and the loss of a couple of teeth. This accident was due to my T1D, so the transplant was extremely urgent. Although my face was still bruised from the accident, I was ready to fight for my new life during this period of recovery and each day, I got a little better.

The first few days after the surgery, I was weak, but I made a point out of walking a little each day and making careful food choices to gain strength. I had learned from my kidney transplant that there were certain foods that were better with the immune suppressants. These particular foods helped my stomach to handle the heavy drugs so I had a lot of toast, bananas and soup. I needed gentle and mild sustenance so I avoided spice and anything raw or fibrous. Interestingly, my diet has not changed much since my time with T1D. I still cannot eat foods like pizza, pancakes, pasta or rice. Although I’ve slowly added sweet potatoes and some bread to my diet, the psychology of living a low-carb life does not pass easily!

After a week, I could leave the hospital and after two weeks, I was cleared to fly back home to New York from Minnesota where I had my surgery. I remember it being such a happy trip back, with a newly felt freedom where I had no need for insulin or glucose testing. I felt like my life was starting again!

Only one week later back in New York, I started to feel tired and very weak. Something was clearly not right, and I went to the hospital late at night after speaking to my physician. Sadly, I had an infection and was readmitted to the hospital. I was now at Columbia Presbyterian, since that is where my local transplant care is based. It took another week before they isolated the cause for my infection. It was an abscess close to the pancreas, which needed to be drained and cleaned. To do so, I had a tube inserted into my abdomen and a bag hanging from it, which collected the nasty bacterial fluid 24/7. This went on for an entire month and it came with a period of intense pain. Every time I spoke, moved or coughed, it hurt. Laughing was impossible! After the tube was removed, marking the end to this difficult time, I was on the mend and my journey toward health was back on track.

Today, 10 years after that incredible day, I think back to the family whose young daughter died and the decision they made to donate her organs, which changed my life (and most likely many others’). I cannot imagine how they must have felt that day, but since I now have a little daughter of my own, I understand the emotions that come from seeing your child in pain.

To this family: I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I promise you to take very good care of your daughter’s pancreas, to do as much GOOD with my life as possible and to never, ever take anything for granted. I learned too early that life is a constant fight, and I know too intimately the fear that comes when you are close to losing it. If the kidney transplant saved my life, the pancreas from your daughter made it worth living again.

Somewhat symbolically, today is also the day for Lyfebulb, the company I co-founded five years ago, to enter into the transplant space. We are already in six other disease areas; Diabetes, Cancer, MS, IBD, Mental illness and Migraine. We will be building a community online and in-person for people living with transplants and their care partners. We will be searching for the best new, innovative solutions to improve quality of life by listening to people who have been through the process of a transplant. I am proud to make this announcement since it is a population that, so far, has not had a real home and where innovation is far from fully exhausted.

Happy New Year AND New Decade!

Tools to Thrive: Running for T1D Management and Entrepreneurship

Many of us, including myself, face the difficulty of keeping blood sugar levels elevated during sessions of intense activities like running. Yet, if practiced correctly, running can be an awesome therapy for the physical and mental health of those in the #T1D community.

Insulin keeps me alive, but it isn’t the only therapy I use to manage my diabetes. I combine my prescribed insulin regimens with running in order to optimize my blood sugar. By committing time in my weekly schedule to running, I see drastic improvements in my blood sugar levels and I require fewer boluses of insulin, simply because I have fewer instances of hyperglycemia.

Let’s talk specifics: on a day that I want to run, I will be sure to have a pre-run snack like a banana to ensure that I don’t go low. Also, I always share my route with my girlfriend, so she knows where I am while I run around. Lastly, I find an awesome playlist that has my favorite tunes, specifically songs by Chance the Rapper. After making the appropriate preparations, I hit the road and begin feeling the benefits physically and mentally. Having the opportunity to exercise clears my head, reduces my stress, increases my cardiovascular health, and regulates my blood sugar. All of these benefits are super important to take advantage of as a patient entrepreneur managing both a chronic disease and a business.

You don’t need to hit the ground running, though (no pun intended)! Walking and jogging are also great starts, just as long as you get moving! These types of exercises can drop blood sugar levels fast, so supplementing your running with healthy snacks and meals is crucial. Be sure to check out some articles (below) if you’re interested in running with #T1D. Remember, don’t let type 1 stop the run!

Check out John’s recommended resources on running and T1D, with an addition from Lyfebulb Ambassador Christel Oerum of Diabetes Strong:

1) https://beyondtype1.org/a-runners-guide-to-t1d/

2) https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20834290/how-to-fuel-for-a-long-run-with-type-1-diabetes/

3) https://diabetesstrong.com/started-running-type-1-diabetes/

 

 

Merging Family with Applied Science: My Diabetes Story

Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by many family members who have fought or are currently fighting diabetes. I’m from Vietnam, where education on healthy lifestyles and an emphasis on preventive health is almost nonexistent. In my culture we consume white rice, French baguette as a main dish, and sugar cane Coke — which is as common as water. Partially because of this, along with genetics at play, my mother was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes almost a decade ago. Three years later, her older brother (my uncle) endured kidney problems and passed away from diabetic complications. Meanwhile, my other aunt and uncle on my mother’s side are both prediabetic and at serious risk for developing the disease. 

The distance from my family — and their health —  is hard. One way I stay connected to them (aside from visits across oceans and conference calls) is through my company, Bonbouton, a preventive medicine startup that is currently focused on developing products for diabetic patients. This decision to focus first on diabetes was solidified when the disease made its way even closer to home: My wife developed Gestational diabetes in the U.S. when she was pregnant with both of our boys, now 7 and 2.5 years old.

Bonbouton is developing a smart insole that can detect foot ulcers in diabetic patients before they form, reducing the risk of amputation. (200 people a day lose a toe or a foot due to diabetic-related ulceration.) I developed and patented the insole’s sensing technology in school while pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering. 

Throughout my life, in addition to family, I’ve always been motivated by applied science. I never excelled in scientific research but was always interested in how to apply science to various applications and figure out ways to inject the technology into products that help people. Watching my mother, aunts and uncles, and wife battle diabetes was a driving force for me: I wanted to figure out a way to tie the two together. 

Another life changing event occurred in 2015 was my dad passed away from stage 4 colorectal cancer, a disease the doctors caught too late. Enough was enough: I didn’t want to see anyone get diagnosed too late anymore. I wanted to commit to preventive health, early detection, and patient empowerment. I wanted to create sensing tools that help people better understand their health so they can take action and maintain wellbeing. 

In fact, that’s the exact vision of Bonbouton: to sense the invisible and enable every human to live a healthier life.

Although there are several causes for the different types of diabetes, being autoimmune, inflammation, lifestyle, and genetics —the symptoms and complications remain similar, and that is what we care most about.Whether Gestational, Type 1, or Type 2, they each render similar lifestyle issues: one when you’re wondering what’s going on inside your body. When there’s so much to maintain, so many boxes to check. Having developed the empathy from my family, I wanted to build my life and career around sensing and healing. The way forward for me is my work as an entrepreneur with Bonbouton.

#RealT1DLyfe Liz’s Story: Finding New Solutions while Caring for a Child with Type 1 Diabetes

Throughout my life diabetes had been an illness I knew little about and was fortunate enough not to have experienced myself or through loved ones. That all changed in 2011, when my oldest of four boys (David) was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 9. As a family we were overwhelmed, scared, and uneducated about the disease. As a mother, my first thought was, “What can I do to help my child?” I knew all the emotions I was feeling and could only try to imagine the thoughts that were running through my child’s young head. Immediately my stoic side came out, trying to calm this frightening situation. This was all new territory for us. The only absolute was to provide love, support, and willingness to learn everything I could about this new disease that just struck our family.

Although I do not live with the disease personally, anyone who has a loved one affected by this terrible burden knows that management is not solely the responsibility of the individual diagnosed– especially when it is a child. Inherently as a mother you worry. Add that to that the worry of a child living with a chronic disease, and suddenly the threshold is increased to a whole new level. It is with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Throughout the course of adjusting to our new lifestyle of insulin injections, carb counting, and blood glucose tests, I soon realized there was a missing component in the testing routine. A clean, simple solution to safely remove the excess blood left on the finger after testing sugar levels. Testing his blood anywhere from 6-10 times a day was the norm. Inevitably, David would wipe the blood either on his clothes or the inside of his case. After searching the marketplace, without success of finding a product for this unmet need, I took matters into my own hands. Being passionate about helping the diabetes community, I conceived, patented, and developed Diabetic Dabs®; booklets of absorbent sheets designed with an adhesive backing to attach to any testing kit.

My goal is to help families such as mine simplify managing diabetes and hopefully inspire others to act where shortfalls present themselves. We are all in this together; being a member of this community, our mission is to eradicate this horrible disease.

There is no stress-free way to handle the responsibilities, the highs, the lows, and emotions that come along with diabetes. However, there is a way to take control—and that is through mindset. I felt it was my responsibility as a parent to teach David that mindset determines your path in life. Mindset and perspective can turn a positive situation negative or a negative situation positive. Sometimes life throws curve balls at us—and it is in those moments that we decide how we will handle them. My goal is to empower those in the diabetes community to have a voice and make a difference!

Get real with T1D!

#RealT1DLyfe Chris’s Story: Type 1 Diabetes and Suicide

As anyone with Type 1 diabetes knows, life can be an absolute roller coaster. I would like to take you on a personal journey of mine going into the darkest of hours, but coming out in the brightest of days. Back in June of 1988, my diagnosis marked not the first or second, but fifth Type 1 diabetes diagnosis for my family. Already having lost an uncle to Type 1 in the same year, my diagnosis likely hit my family harder than I will ever know. However, growing up having two family members who passed from T1D complications weighed heavy on my mind. It didn’t help that at a young age, I heard a doctor tell my mother, “if he sees 30, feel lucky.” Growing up, T1D never completely stopped me from doing things, but often had a way of interfering. Going to play soccer as a kid, I had a coach say I couldn’t play because he didn’t want a kid dying on his field. Name calling, being told I wasn’t good enough, and the like made me angry in the moment, but ultimately sat deeper within my subconscious for twenty years into adulthood, slowly taking its toll.

Getting out on my own is where my life took a darker turn. Around 2011, I fell into a deep depression and I almost didn’t make my way out. My blood sugars were rarely where I needed them to be. It was also a constant roller coaster at work. Eat then work, forget to bolus, go high, then crash, and repeat. Although I was consistently out of range, my reasonable a1c kept my doctor at bay, all while hiding the fact I was miserable mentally. Relationships were impossible to maintain with my depression and blood sugars as they were and I began to isolate myself alone with my thoughts. The thoughts escalated from “your diabetes has destroyed your life” to “your life isn’t worth living with diabetes.” Mind you, at this point in time I already had one beautiful son. I pushed the thoughts back as much as I could for his sake. However, in doing so it enabled my thoughts to escalate even further. I was telling myself that my son would be better off without a father. I started looking up those who completed suicide and how they did it. However, even with everything I was feeling, I couldn’t leave my family with the thought that I would do so on purpose. After having crashed my blood sugars numerous times over the years to counteract extreme highs, I decided insulin was my best option.

On a Saturday morning, I woke up in tears and decided that was the day. I got up and took a fatal dose of short acting and went about my morning routine with the idea that at some point, I would have an insulin reaction and go unresponsive. For whatever reason, by an act of God, the insulin took hours to work. Later that day, when I was on line to have lunch, the last thing I remember was reaching for a plate. I woke up surrounded by EMTs in my manager’s office. Lucky for me, the guys I worked with knew me and my diabetes very well. Upon coming to, one of the EMTs said it was the first time he had a patient so low it wouldn’t read on his meter. We still don’t know how low I truly was when they got there. I finally got to the point I could stand on my own and was feeling okay physically. However, my mental state was still in shambles. Per policy at my work, I had to be sent home. I begged with my manager to let me stay. I said “I’ll just sit in the back, no one will know I‘m there.” I couldn’t go home in the state of mind I was in. But none the less, I was on my way home. The short 5 minute drive was nerve racking, tears falling, thinking “should I try again” and “I can’t be alone” and “I don’t want to live.” My best friend was sitting on the couch as I walked into my apartment and he immediately looked up at me, knowing something wasn’t right. He put his arms around me, like any brother should, and gave me a much-needed embrace–the kind of hug that lets you know someone loves you. We ended up going for a long walk where I explained what I did. He was the only one who knew what I did for years. During our walk he said, “I know the greatness you have ahead of you, you just have to be here to find it.” His words have sat with me for years.

With my two children and the Betes Bros, I have a family that pushes me to succeed. Brothers who reach out for my support as well as check on me. The men and women who have come into my life have filled my cup and continue to make life even better. If you are struggling, that is okay. As someone who almost experienced an end to my life, if I had the support then that I do now, I probably wouldn’t have gone that far. If you’re ever in a place like that in your life, talk to someone. Seeking a professional counselor doesn’t make you weak, it actually makes you stronger. Reach out to a friend who may be struggling that you haven’t talked to in a while, let them know you’re there. A simple text, note, message saying, “I’m here if you need me” can literally save a life.

#RealT1DLyfe Chris Pickering Family

Get real with T1D! #RealLyfe

For additional resources on Depression and Diabetes, check out this article from our friends at Diabetes Daily!

Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind: John Wilcox

Managing a chronic illness is challenging, whether it is your own or a loved one’s. Starting and running a business also poses unique challenges. If you struggle with a chronic illness, have started a business, or want to start a business, this blog series can help guide you. “Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind” offers key insights into chronic disease and mission-driven entrepreneurship by some of the most innovative patient entrepreneurs in the world. 

John Wilcox is the CEO & Co-Founder of Diatech Diabetic Technologies, Inc. 

As a patient entrepreneur, can you describe your personal experience with diabetes from diagnosis through your current daily management and how this experience drove you to innovate the space? 

In 2005, I was diagnosed on my ninth birthday. I figured the only way to come out on top was to make it a positive experience. Growing up, I really identified with the disease and now use it as an opportunity to empathize with others with chronic disease. I wanted to go to medical school, and still might, but this opportunity came up in college to develop intellectual property—what is SmartFusion today.

I took on the business full-time post college graduation of May 2019. My diagnosis gives me a leg up on how to develop technology to help diabetes patients. As a collective community, we can appreciate when someone with a disease can relate to us and effectively create change. My condition is something that I can share and allows me to connect to people and understand how other people are struggling—it is one of the best gifts that I could ever ask for. I don’t know what I would do with my career without this diagnosis because it has turned into a passion to help others and a lesson on how to make the best of situations.

What makes SmartFusion unique and how does it meet an unmet need of the diabetes community?

SmartFusion is a new infusion set that can more accurately tell you if insulin delivery is actually getting into your body. SmartFusion is unique in the fact that it helps patients understand if they are getting insulin.  Insulin pumps on the market right now are not really meeting the standard of being able to tell patient users if their insulin delivery is effectively working. We noticed the issue of infusion set insulin delivery failures where pumps can have issues with insulin delivery efficacy.

Personally, I have had issues going into DKA because of insulin mis-delivery.  I went to an endocrinologist in college who blamed me for poor A1C control rather than it being a technology/pump failure. I want to provide technology that can deliver alerts before hyperglycemia because it happened to me and it is very dangerous. Fixing this unmet need of pump reliability can take one thing off the list of what patients and caregivers go through regarding issues with diabetes care.

Are there any other unmet needs of the diabetes community that you think take priority in working to address? How are patient entrepreneurs well-suited to meet these needs? 

In the future, I would love to focus on software for pumps. There has been great work on hardware that is safe and effective for patients with diabetes but a real gamechanger could be software that pairs any type of CGM with any type of pump. The diabetes “hacker” community is already pairing their own CGMs with pumps but are not following standards of the industry.

Additionally, there is a lot that needs to be addressed in education, especially how to learn to effectively use diabetes technology for parents of children with the disease.

Where do you draw your inspiration and motivation from to keep forging ahead as an entrepreneur in the healthcare industry?

 My inspiration and motivation comes from talking to people who have the condition. I want to make sure the diabetes community is affected and impacted in a positive way. Stories from patients about issues with diabetes care like insulin mis-delivery keep me up at night.

Lastly, what do you do for fun to manage the stress of running a business as both a person with t1d and an entrepreneur? Do you have any similar advice on work-life-disease management balance to others out there thinking of starting a business to meet an unmet need of a chronic disease patient community?

I love to run whenever I can and I find it a very clearing activity. My goal is to John Wilcox 5k racerun the Boston marathon for the JDRF. In terms of advice for other patient entrepreneurs, we have a disease that can help connect us to other people that have the same chronic illness. However, each patient story is unique so taking the time to recognize that is important. For example, my parents helped me get appropriate care at a young age by providing insurance coverage. How dare I compare my journey to patients I meet now, who are in their twenties, who are still without coverage to get insulin. In a nutshell, know that your story is unique and craft a connection to fellow patients based on that fact.

 

 

New Workout App for People With Diabetes – And Christel is an Instructor!

Have you ever dreamt of working out with a trainer who understands diabetes, who might even live with diabetes, and who gets what it takes to get through a workout without wonky blood sugars?

Well, that trainer could be me!

Today, my 12-week fitness program “STRONGER”, that I developed for GlucoseZone, is available in the GlucoseZone app. I’d like to personally invite you to come train with me. To join me for a program that will push you to be a stronger version of yourself.

Sign up HERE and use the “STRONGER” code to get 30% off your monthly subscription

The beauty of joining GlucoseZone is that you’ll get access to not only my program but to 6 other exercise programs, as well as live workouts, all developed specifically for people living with diabetes. You can do all of the workouts in your own home or bring it to the gym.

Regardless of your fitness level, you can find qualified instructors to take you through the workouts that are right for you, and always with your diabetes in mind.

One of the reasons why I’m so excited about working with GlucoseZone is that it’s the first-ever clinically validated digital exercise therapeutic for people living with diabetes, and it’s endorsed by the American Diabetes Association.

Stronger Getting Started

Sign up HERE and use the “STRONGER” code to get 30% off the monthly retail (You’ll only pay $9.09 per month) when you sign up for the GlucoseZone app.

 

Connect with Christel on Facebook: @DiabetesStrong; Instagram: @diabetesstrong_ig.

Wearing a Diabetes Medical ID On-The-Go!

Medical ID Bracelets

Living life on-the-go can be fun and busy, however, doing so with a chronic illness requires a few extra steps and planning along the way.

 

Hi, my name is David and I have been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 10 years now. I was diagnosed at the age of 11 and let me tell you… I have been through a lot. In living with this disease, I have been able to experience so much and learn from my mistakes. In doing so, I have come to realize that as a diabetic, I am one of those who should wear a medical ID and why it’s important for all life’s experiences.

For years on end, I never wore a medical ID bracelet. I could never find a bracelet that I simply liked or wanted to wear daily. When I became a part of the Diabetic Online Community (DOC) back in 2014, I was exposed to several different people who shared the same struggle. I also saw a variety of amazing brands and companies who understand this struggle and have found ways to make ID bracelets, dog tags, necklaces, and more so much nicer and pleasing to the eye and the patient. I own several different medical ID bracelets, I think when one finds their style with Diabetes, it’s always nice to have options and create your own look, which is why owning multiple forms of emergency ID that go with different looks is a great idea!

I have mentioned several times on my Instagram, @type1livabetic, that when wearing my personalized Paracord bracelet from American Medical ID, I felt so very safe. I felt as though if anything Diabetes related could go wrong, I would be prepared. On my engraved bracelet, my name, condition, and emergency contact information were all located on a small piece of metal, attached to the Paracord bracelet. At a recent trip to Disneyland with a large group of people who also had Type 1 Diabetes that could vouch for me if there were to be an emergency, I still encountered times in which I was alone at the park (walking to and from my car, walking to meet the attendees, or simply stepping to the side to grab a snack), rest assured, I was confident with my Diabetes at the time.

So why is it so important to wear a form of medical alert jewelry for Diabetes? Well, not to get too dark or technical, however, the fact remains that we do have Type 1 Diabetes that does come with some symptoms and consequences. If our blood sugar drops significantly low, we could pass out and become unconscious or go into a coma. Same with high blood sugar, if we are severely high and go into DKA, we could in fact experience some symptoms that could limit our ability to function, which can prevent us from acting in the moment to get help. Say you were in public, alone, and you experienced one of these symptoms, if you were wearing a medical ID, someone nearby would mostly likely come to check for various hints or signs on you if something doesn’t look entirely right and search for an alert jewelry in particular sites on the body: wrists, around the neck, tattoos, etc.

In being diagnosed with any chronic disease and being told you have to take extra care of yourself can be a lot, however, allowing yourself some relief by wearing a form of ID can truly reduce a lot of the stress surrounded by various diseases. One should never leave the house without some form of ID as you never know when these emergencies could happen.

American Medical ID Healthy Packing List

The CDC includes having a form of medical identification such as alert bracelets, necklaces, or wallet cards as part of a healthy travel packing list.

I believe that some may also feel safe in knowing that they have a medical ID card in their wallet as well, for added peace of mind. One should also wear a form of ID at home, just in case. For those who live alone, I understand that it may feel as though you are not in need of wearing an ID at home as you will be alone, but that could just be the very tool that can keep you alive, say you have an emergency, it could be that neighbor walking by and seeing something isn’t right that could barge in and save your life and being able to identify you have a particular medical condition that needs attention.

We each have our own busy lives that takes up so much time and mental focus away from our health, which is why wearing medical alert jewelry can protect us as we are on the move, daily. School, work, the playground, a coffeeshop, wherever you may be, ID is necessary. No matter how old the patient is, whether a child, teen, adult, or elder, wearing a medical ID all the time can protect us from the dangers of our diseases and more.

 

Live well,

David

The Implications of Using CBD for Chronic Conditions: Here’s What We Know

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis, has become a popular alternative to pharmaceuticals. CBD users can sometimes find relief from their conditions without harsh side effects. 

41% of cannabis users surveyed report swapping out other medications completely in favor of cannabis, while another 58% use cannabis and other medication or alternate between them,” researchers stated in a survey by Brightfield Group

While CBD may be a beneficial alternative for chronic conditions, it’s important to consider the implications of using CBD before changing your current regimen.

Diabetes

Studies have suggested that inflammation has a correlation with insulin resistance. This may be the result of the body not moving sugar from the bloodstream into cells, causing excessively high blood sugar. Obesity-related inflammation particularly limits glucose metabolism, resulting in high blood sugar. 

Researchers still don’t know exactly how CBD improves insulin resistance, but often credit it to the compound’s anti-inflammatory effects

According to a report on Type 1 diabetes from the Diabetes Council, “CBD can save insulin-forming cells from damage so that normal glucose metabolism can occur.”

It’s important to note that most claims being made are based on studies with animals, not humans. Using CBD to treat diabetes without more substantiated research and medical oversight could be dangerous. Until further human studies are conducted, CBD can’t be considered a direct treatment for diabetes. 

However, the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol may be beneficial for managing secondary symptoms from the disease. For example, CBD has neuroprotective qualities and may prevent retinal damage.

Cancer

While there is anecdotal evidence of successfully treating cancer with CBD, no definitive studies can back this up. However, we do know that CBD plays a role in cancer prevention and seems to have anti-tumor effects. In a 2012 report, researchers explained, “Evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread.”  

The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains that CBD is anti-proliferative, meaning it can stop, slow down, or reverse the growth of cancerous tumors. It is also anti-angiogenic, meaning it does not support the generation of new blood vessels, specifically ones that allow cancerous tumor growth. Lastly, it is pro-apoptotic, which means it induces cellular suicide of cancerous cells. 

In addition to these cancer-specific effects, CBD may help patients dealing with pain related to cancer treatment, such as pressure on the organs and nerve injuries. Patients with cancer are commonly prescribed opiates to manage pain, but managing pain with CBD may be just as effective with fewer side effects.

Unlike opiates, which mimic our bodies’ natural endorphins, CBD actually encourages the production of natural endorphins by interacting with a neurotransmitter called anandamide. As a result, CBD is a non-habit-forming pain-reliever. 

It’s important to consider the legal implications before using CBD for cancer, or any other chronic condition. Hemp-derived CBD is legal across the United States, with specific guidelines per state. Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota have strict, conflicting rules regarding CBD, so caution should be taken if you live in those states. 

Whatever state you’re in, be sure to get high-quality CBD from producers who follow the guidelines of the law. 

Multiple Sclerosis

According to Neurology.org, “inflammation occurs in the brains and spinal cords of people with a specific kind of MS called relapsing-remitting MS.” CBD has been shown to protect against this harmful inflammation

In a 2011 study with mice, researchers found that CBD diminished axonal (nerve) damage and inflammation. CBD also reduced microglial activation, an inflammatory process that occurs in the central nervous system and is attributed to conditions like MS, Parkinson’s, and more. 

CBD may help users get relief from their MS without causing the sometimes intense side effects that come with pharmaceuticals. Still, CBD may cause some side effects that users should be aware of. Side effects may include:

 

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea

Anxiety and Depression

The hippocampus, the most widely studied portion of the brain, is responsible for the regulation of memories and emotions. Researchers believe the hippocampus plays a major role in depression, and have found that this region of the brain can shrink or decay in those with depression.

Fortunately, the shrinkage does not have to be permanent. The brain is very regenerative and can bounce back as new neural connections are made. This process is known as “neurogenesis” and is an important process to target for antidepressants, contrary to the prior belief that they just work to increase serotonin. 

Where does CBD come in? Research has shown that cannabidiol signals a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. This receptor is responsible for controlling many neurotransmitters, and is also the target of some anti-anxiety medications, like Buspirone. Activating this receptor can encourage neurogenesis, and potentially relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

While each individual case is unique, anxiety and depression tend to go hand-in-hand. CBD may encourage the neural regeneration necessary to find relief from either or both conditions. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is caused by — you guessed it — inflammation. A 2009 study found CBD was beneficial for colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers induced colitis in mice and tracked their gut inflammation, finding that “cannabidiol, a likely safe compound, prevents experimental colitis in mice.”

Another review found “this compound may interact at extra‐cannabinoid system receptor sites, such as peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptor‐gamma. This strategic interaction makes CBD as a potential candidate for the development of a new class of anti‐IBD drugs.”

If you’re considering using CBD with other medications, consult your doctor first. Much like grapefruits, CBD inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzyme, which can prevent drugs from metabolizing properly. 

CBD could also negatively affect the liver by increasing liver enzymes. A 2014 review of CBD saw changes in the liver function of 10% of the subjects, and 3% had to drop out of the study to prevent further damage. Again, consult with a doctor if you want to use CBD for a chronic condition like IBD but are worried about the effects on your liver.

The Bottom Line

Americans spend around $1,200 on prescription drugs each year, which is more than the residents of any other developed country. The price of pharmaceuticals has risen without any improvements or innovation, according to CNBC. This makes CBD an exciting avenue as a potential alternative to standard pharmaceuticals.

It’s important to remember that the effects of CBD will vary by person, and that a lot of the claims we hear about CBD are in relation to animal studies and not humans. It’s also important to be as informed as possible before diving into the complicated world of buying CBD.

Still, many people find success with CBD for their chronic conditions. 

 

Macey Wolfer HeadshotMacey is a freelance writer from Seattle, WA. She writes about natural health, cannabis, and music.

To End The Weekend In A Perfect Way

The human body is an incredible thing. Yes, it can fall apart and let you down, but it also holds amazing minds that dream up things like insulin and glucose pills that can save someone’s life and help you work around the parts of your body that can’t keep up anymore.

Weight isn’t everything — health is. I grew up battling an eating disorder and now that my focus is on health, and not weight, I feel much more connected to my body. It’s like meeting an old friend I haven’t talked to in a long time (and we have a lot to catch up on). Having to count, track and balance every bit of food or drink that goes in my body is definitely a trigger for me, but I’m getting to know what food makes my body healthy now.

It’s okay to be sad and let go.

There is no perfect health zone. There will be days when I can’t “beat” diabetes no matter what and there will be days when I need to treat myself and not focus on only eating things I know I can control well. Life needs little moments like that to stay sane and right now, the only path to staying happy I can see is one that embraces ups and downs and doesn’t try to turn them into a perfect straight road.

Last and most importantly: LIFE CHANGES. It is important to remember. Life looks and will not look the same even though we have a disease that will need the same type of treatment.

15 Ways to Thrive With Type 1 Diabetes

By: Yerachmiel Altman I achieved 57 years of living with type 1 diabetes this year! I was diagnosed just one month after my 2nd birthday and have logged half a million hours of living with type 1 to this day! I want to share with you the tips and knowledge I’ve acquired through my top 15 tips living and working with diabetes. Hopefully you find these as useful as I have. Remember that everyone has a different way of treating their disease so don’t worry if some of these tips don’t apply to you!

1. Put your mind into it.

If you focus on what’s important to your health, it opens up wider possibilities than thought before.

2. Don’t judge yourself

3. Don’t compare yourself to others.

4. Its not your fault.

You didn’t choose to have diabetes, it chose you!

5. Make smart choices everyday

Diabetes self-care is all about choices. Human minds create over 35,000 choices about every five seconds.

6. Don’t wait for the cure.

Ever have someone talk about the “cure in five years” ? Do your best to control diabetes to best of your ability.  Monitoring your diabetes will only lead to better health and a longer, happier life with hopefully less complications. This will help to leave you in improved conditions to be eligible for breakthrough treatments when they ARE available.

7. No your way or the highway thinking.

Don’t think the way you are doing it is the best or only way.  Always read, research and try (under medical supervision) different ways of treatment, wellness, and care. Listen to those around you.

8. Know thyself and thy diet.

Always learn as much as possible about your own self.  Everyone has certain foods that for themselves don’t follow the standard “curve” (and/or standard “carb count”).

9. Find your niche and your system.

Each person has to find the system or methods that work best for them.

10. Get Techy

Technology has given us many many modern inventions which aid in our control and understanding of diabetes – you have determine which of them works best for you and which ones aren’t as helpful.

11. Find a mentor. Find a community.

Vitally important to have others who are type 1 and similar in length and type of diabetes as well as and other life factors.  It is also important to have a “mentor”; someone else to ask questions of.  Having another person to ask or to bounce ideas off of can many times resolve issues before they become problems.  Additionally long term use of equipment gets us into habits  –  having others to ask may open doors we didn’t even know existed.

12. Pay it forward: spread your knowledge to others!

It is very important once one has learned enough to help others.  It is both really helpful for the other people AND very good for yourself.

13. Surround yourself with love

Always have family and friends who lift you up, and help guide you through the tough times that come with being a T1D patient. There is always hope!

14. Open up

Diabetes doesn’t have to be a secret, share with others about your disease. Sometimes it can be hard to talk about your chronic illness but with more awareness comes more acceptance. However you always know how much is safe or okay to disclose,you are never obligated to tell people or only focus on your disease. You’re a multidimensional person!

15. Enjoy Life!! You CAN live a joyous and fulfilling life with diabetes!

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