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Real Talk with Dave: It’s a Spooky Time for Spooky Blood Sugars!

It’s finally fall and most people are especially excited that October is here, which means Halloween time is present! Everywhere you go, there are Halloween themed decorations and pumpkin spice latte creations, making everyone excited for the holidays and the exciting festivities that come with them. Many people get into the spirit of Halloween, the costumes, the candy, and the fun times with friends, however, being a Type 1 Diabetic comes with just a few extra things to plan and prepare for.

I think it’s safe to say that us Diabetics work hard each day, so the one night where candy is the star of the show, I believe it is okay to enjoy some Halloween treats in moderation.

Planning ahead is key as you begin to make arrangements for Halloween.

I get it, Diabetes is not fun, it can be scary and have it’s ups and downs, however, it shouldn’t stop you from celebrating a fun holiday! For example, most Diabetics try and avoid unnecessary sugar throughout their day and watch out for things that can complicate their lives in terms of their blood sugar levels, BUT, if you plan on walking from door to door on the night of Halloween, you will be getting in some exercise, which may potentially drop your blood glucose levels, so go ahead and enjoy a piece of candy or two (and some insulin, of course). Don’t over do it though, because you don’t want to come back home that night or shorten your trick-or-treat experience due to severe high sugar levels and a stomach ache. That’s why, in moderation, eating a few pieces of candy throughout the night and finishing the rest of it over the course of the next few days is a better alternative in managing your numbers. Halloween is a fun-filled holiday where people go out dressed as their favorite characters and hang out with friends, eating candy all night, and T1D should not limit that, just be responsible in your choices as you decide how much candy to eat and when.

As you go from door to door, it wouldn’t hurt to have a backpack or purse with you that has all your emergency medical supplies, your blood glucometer, and some extra insulin, because you never know what could happen and not being at home with access to these supplies can be dangerous, so always prepare for the worst, just like you would at school, work, or on a vacation. Also, make sure you are walking with a group of people who know of your Diabetes and limitations, as in certain situations, them knowing can potentially save your life, say if you were to go severely low or high that night.

Always surround yourself with a trusted group or people (or at least one person) who is willing to help you out in any way possible if needed.

As for carb counting and sugar contents, most Halloween candies are familiar and of common brand names, so just be sure to check the nutrition facts on the back of the wrapper or do a quick google search on your phone for nutrition facts on the candy of your choice, this way, you can effectively and safely give yourself the right dose of Insulin needed for what you choose to eat!

In terms of costumes (that’s right, I’m discussing costumes), if you are unsure of where you may place your Insulin pump or carry your Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) if your costume is a little out of the ordinary and has no waistline or belt clip, you can always wear a strap, band, or garter underneath your costume, which provides a place to clip and secure your devices, and don’t be afraid to show off that beautiful site of yours! You can even decorate your sites for the occasion or to match your costume if you’d like!

            So don’t stress the holidays, take part in all the activities your heart desires (within reason, of course), and enjoy this life you were given! T1D has nothing on you.

Enjoy some Halloween candy responsibly, because yes, even Diabetics CAN eat candy! With smart choices and planning ahead, you can do the holidays, life, and just about anything you would have done had you not had T1D!

Live well,

Dave

Real Talk With Dave: I’m Sorry For What I Said When I Was Low…

Lows do things to us that we have no control over. I’m pretty sure any Diabetic can agree with that. When we have low blood sugars, we become, what some may consider, a monster in which we are hit with so many symptoms, such as uncontrollable shaking, fast heartbeat, and anxiety. In reality, going through a low can really bring us down and make us regret saying and doing certain things. I guess you could say that lows can brin out the worst in us.

I can remember countless times in which I went severely low and reacted in ways in which I wish I never had before.

I would become this uncontrollable monster in which I would be angry and very aggressive as I tried to get my hands on anything that could bring my blood sugars back up immediately. Sweat dripping down my face and agitated by what was going on inside of me, I would snap at people trying to help me in those difficult times (sorry Mom!), having absolutely no control over my emotions and actions. There have been several times in which I would wake up in the middle of the night, practically covered in sweat, as I found myself severely low and in need of some fast acting sugars, running downstairs to completely demolish the kitchen. Now I know those are some pretty heavy visuals of what lows are like, but hey, that’s the truth of what they actually consist of and I believe it is important to share these real life experiences to show that we’re not alone in this horrible fight against T1D.

At times, going low can make you anxious and scared, which then gets in your head and almost forces you to snap at just about anybody. You may not want to talk to people or be near anybody as you go through a low as you feel that aggression building up inside of you. That’s okay though, because eventually, you will come out of that low and be better and stronger than ever! I get it, lows are the worst!

I’ve had my share of bad lows and each time, I feel as though I learn a little something.

I learn how to cope, how to relax, and most importantly, how to treat my low in the safest way possible. Planning is key in eliminating the amount of lows you may have. At one point in my life, I used to go low about 4-6 times a day which drained me both physically and emotionally. After talking to my Doctor and gaining control over my Diabetes, I have successfully dropped the amount of lows I have everyday significantly. Some days I might not go low at all! It’s different for everyone, as some people may struggle from highs more than lows, but just know, help is available.

Lows can be some of the scariest things you can encounter as they can happen at literally any moment of the day and be as aggressive and intense as they decide to be. Though lows are one of the hardest things to deal with as a Diabetic, it takes a few bad moments in which we learn how to deal with them as we become more prepared for lows in the future. Most of the time, we as Diabetics can handle and treat a low like a boss, it’s only in severe cases in which we need some immediate medical attention, but it is up to us to decide how we are going to handle the situation we are given. For example, talking to yourself in a positive sense, whether out loud or in your head, can help you get out of that horrible low and into a good mood. Try telling yourself when you go low how you have always made it out of a low and ended up feeling just fine.

So don’t stress low blood sugars! Lows will come and go, but YOU, a strong and brave Diabetic, are here to stay as we patiently wait for a cure together.

Live well,

Dave


Follow Dave on Instagram: @type1livabetic

Google Works on a Glucose-Measuring Smart Contact Lens

Although smart wearables hit a plateau in 2016, it won’t be long before the market picks up again as research predicts that manufacturers will be looking at new ways to innovate wearables in the coming years. In fact, data presented by CCS Insight revealed that the wearables market will be worth $25 billion by 2019 as demand for health-focused sensors and technology is expected to grow further.

Wearable technology will branch out past the current smart headsets, smartwatches, and even fitness brands, as the next wave of devices will be more focused on specialized health assistance.

A particular long-awaited wearable device on the market is Google’s smart contact lens. The search giant and pharmaceutical company Novartis teamed up to develop the first smart contact lens that is said to assist patients with diabetes as well as those with eye problems. It is a contact lens with a built-in microchip that is able to measure the glucose level of patients non-invasively and correct eye issues, respectively.

The technology

While the world welcomed the emergence of smartwatches on the market, Google surprised the industry by announcing that they have plans to work on a smart contact lens that can monitor blood-sugar levels and correct vision in a new and innovative way.

The idea was a brainchild of Brian Otis, a former electrical engineering professor and a team leader at Google. His research group wants to take advantage of the possibility to shrink computer microchips, wireless antennas and other parts of the smart contact lens to ensure it won’t interfere with the user’s view.

Eye-care firm Alcon, a unit of Novartis, had licensed the technology from Google and sought regulatory approval of the device from the DFA. The Switzerland-based company will also be the one to produce the lens.

“The eye-mountable device is mounted on the pedestal such that the posterior concave side contacts the second end of the pedestal and the eye-mountable device is elevated from the base of the container,” reported Tech Times.

Stiff Competition

While the idea is extremely unique, Google needs to work faster in releasing their own smart contact lens. Apparently, another company is already working on producing the same technology and it will be compatible with their rival tech manufacturer, Apple.

Medical supply company EPGL also intends to develop a smart contact lens with compatible apps for the iOS platform. The technology will be projecting augmented reality applications to the user’s eyes.

While many predicted that Apple is working on a VR headset, CEO Tim Cook clearly feels that AR will be bigger than virtual reality and they have been working on it ‘behind the curtain’ for quite a while now.

Some industry experts even suggest that Apple were already making their recent handset, iPhone 7, ready for AR or VR head-mounted devices. It is believed to “foster wireless technology” with the introduction of the EarPods, which will power most future wearables in the coming years.

Although a lot of consumers were initially disgruntled by the removal of the device’s headphone jack, it remains one of the most popular handsets today with an overall rating of 4.1-star by O2 users, surpassing the rating given to other Android smartphones.

As Apple continues to focus on AR, it seems a smart contact lens by EPGL running iOS apps will certainly add competition to Google’s upcoming release. Who will dominate the market in 2017, remains to be seen.

Delays in development

Back in 2014, after the news of the partnership was revealed to the public, Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez mentioned that he hoped to see the smart contact lens released on the market within five years or so. He was then reported in 2015 saying that they were on track to begin testing in 2016.

However, a representative from the pharmaceutical firm recently revealed they had done away with their 2016 goal of testing the technology and their timelines have had to be moved back further due to unprecedented delays.

“It is too early to say when exactly human clinical trials for these lenses will begin,” a Novartis spokesperson told Reuters. “This is a very technically complex process and both sides are learning as we go along and will provide updates at the appropriate time.”

It is still unclear when they will start testing the technology. However that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anticipation for the new innovation as Google continues to aggressively explore the possibility of a glucose-sensing lens after their successful meeting with the FDA, the market is waiting for its arrival of what could be a groundbreaking piece of tech.

Exclusively written for Lyfbulb
by TechJeneration

November: National Diabetes Awareness Month

Happy November!

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Today marks the beginning of National Diabetes Awareness Month.

At Lyfebulb, our mission is to improve the quality of life of those living with chronic disease. We have a special focus on Diabetes, as our founder, Karin Hehenberger, has Type 1 Diabetes herself.

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce insulin, and requires daily shots of insulin to maintain a steady blood sugar level. Type 2 Diabetes is the result of the body’s inefficient use of insulin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 29 million people in the United States have Diabetes, and 86 million have prediabetes. Lack of awareness about Diabetes combined with insufficient access to health services can lead to blindness, amputations, and kidney failure. Persons afflicted by both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes benefit from healthy diet and regular exercise.

Two tenets of The Lyfebulb Philosophy, which we announced yesterday, are to ‘eat well’ and ‘do good.’ With this in mind, we are thrilled to partner with two incredible restaurants – Brasserie Ruhlmann and Le Colonial in NYC – to bring you a special prix fixe menu in honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month.

The menus are a result of a collaboration between Lyfebulb and the chefs at the two restaurants to bring you healthy, Diabetes friendly options that limit sugar and carbs. While the menus are great for diabetics, everyone can benefit from a healthier diet.

Check out the menu below. A percentage of all proceeds will go to the Lyfebulb Foundation, which focuses on creating awareness about diabetes, providing education to children about eating healthy, and building a community of patient-to-patient mentorship.

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Perfect Appetizer Platter

img_3944Fall is here and with that come countless Sundays watching football and hosting friends.  What do you do when it becomes too cold to grill outside?  Instead of ordering carb-heavy pizza or sugary chicken wings, try this delicious, protein-rich and diabetic friendly appetizer platter!  It is inspired by ingredients that are common in Sweden that remind us of home.  It will not cause any blood sugar spikes, but is not only good for diabetics, but for anyone trying to maintain a well-balanced and healthy diet.

The hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, ham, and fish roe are excellent sources of protein, avocados have great health benefits as well, and are jam-packed with healthy fats, while tomatoes are rich with beneficial nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins.

All you need is the following:

  • Hard-boiled eggs sliced in halves
  • Avocados sliced lengthwise into bite-sized pieces
  • Smoked salmon pieces rolled and secured with toothpicks
  • Prosciutto or ham rolled and secured with toothpicks
  • Fish roe
  • Tomatoes sliced in quarters
  • Lemon
  • Parsley

Place the ingredients on your favorite serving platter, drizzle with lemon, and finish off with some parsley.  Serve with some whole wheat crackers and voila!

This recipe is easy to prepare and requires no actual cooking, apart from boiling a few eggs ?

The Power of Human Resilience: Quelqu’un m’a dit

I just listened to a song by Carla Bruni and it triggered many feelings that have nothing to do with the woman singing, the music, or the lyrics.

It triggered feelings of nostalgia for a time period of my life when things seemed to just get worse by the week, while I for the first time in my life, experienced the beautiful spring and summer time in Stockholm with no tennis matches, exams or business meetings.

In April 2007 I was on a business trip to the us while I was living in Sweden working in venture capital. I stopped by my parents house in Westport Connecticut on my way back to Stockholm but did not feel well. My feet were strangely swollen and when I arrived to the airport in New Jersey, I could not fit into my shoes. I had a terrible flight back to Europe and when I got to my apt in Stockholm I realized something was very wrong. My blood sugar was unmeasurable (indicated HIGH) despite having given myself insulin in a timely manner.

Back home I realized the insulin pen I had been using had not been dosing properly but had broken and thus no insulin had been injected for the past 24 hours or more.

I was now so tired and weak that I simply dosed myself with a new pen, put a bottle of water next to my bed and dosed off. When I woke up my sugar had become measurable but at the highest level of the machine I was using. As a doctor and a long term patient with type 1 diabetes I understood that I had been in keto acidosis and very close to going into coma.

The following morning I went to work but my state was still very weakened and I was in cold sweat all morning- so bad that I went to see my doctor acutely, who took my labs.

My hemoglobin was 6, meaning I was severely anemic and I was immediately ordered a blood transfusion which was administered by a childhood friend who was a nurse in the hematology department and she was the first one who noticed my blood pressure was 220/180!

The doctors were very concerned and immediately ordered a whole range of tests, from bone marrow biopsies to complex blood cell analysis since they thought I may have cancer of my blood.

My parents back in the US were very concerned and the next thing I knew, my mother was on a plane to Sweden to help me, which made me livid since I wanted no help and definitely not for my mother to move in with me. I could not stop her despite yelling on the phone and telling my father he didn’t care about me anyway (!).

It was my mother who pointed out the fact that my feet may be swollen due to my kidneys, not some disease of my blood. She asked me to test my urine with these urine sticks all diabetics are supposed to have at home, measuring glucose, ketones and importantly protein. Low and behold, the protein in my urine was at the highest measurable level and my mother and I went to the emergency room that evening.

At the ER my blood pressure was still 220/180 and the more exact measurement of my urine was showing macro proteinuria meaning the amount of protein leaking out through my kidneys were significant indicating severe kidney damage.

Now two weeks of exams as an in patient followed and after every single possible expert had had his or her say, a very wise older doctor said “you have kidney damage from poorly controlled diabetes, nothing more complex than that”.
After this diagnosis I was put on multiple drugs to halt and possibly reverse the nephropathy and told to manage my sugar very aggressively. My blood pressure was still elevated and my electrolytes poorly regulated and I was leaking protein through my kidneys.

For the first time over the 18 years since my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes I was affected by the disease in a severe and very concerning way. I went back to work after my stay in the hospital but a week later, when trying to read the paper in the morning, my vision was so blurred I called my retinal specialist for an appointment to examine my eyes. Kidney damage and eye disease often go hand in hand as complications of diabetes and I was very worried when I sat in the waiting room that same afternoon.

I was diagnosed with macula edema and severe, proliferative diabetic retinopathy that needed aggressive laser treatment to save my vision.
Now followed a period of laser treatments several times a week, on both eyes, each time rendering me blind for a few hours afterwards. My sister who lives in Barcelona came to see me, and came with me to one session and I could hear her crying when I was sitting in the chair while being “shot in the eye” with the laser gun.

My friends were concerned and my partners at the fund were worried. I kept going to work and even those times after the laser I would come back to the office in an almost pathetic way of trying to seem normal.
Before this period of physical decline, no one except my family knew I was diabetic, so it was naturally a shock for many to see me this way.

I continued with the blood transfusions regularly, tried to keep diligent blood sugar control although my sugars kept being volatile and treated my high blood pressure with the highest doses of multiple drugs to lower it. My whole system was disturbed and I was very nervous and stressed which did not help my recovery. I was told that I was a “walking stroke risk”, due to my blood pressure and was asked to avoid strenuous exercise and to try to “slow down”.

Finally, a wise friend of mine made me take serious time off. It was now the middle of June, and I asked to be off for the summer, which in Sweden is a time when people take between 4-6 weeks of holiday anyway. I tried to learn how to play golf, spent time with friends, ate healthy and watched an incredible amount of movies and caught up on TV shows. My future was uncertain but a plan was beginning to take shape in that I knew I had to get more directly involved in articulating the voice of patients and fighting for the acceptance of patients “at the table of decision-making” going forward.

It is now 9 years later, a new kidney, new pancreas and a pacemaker have been transplanted and implanted into my body, but I am back in shape and I am running a company, Lyfebulb, that intends to connect, inspire and impact people living with chronic disease.

I do not have to take insulin any longer thanks to the pancreas, and my blood pressure is stabilized and my new kidney manages well to take care of electrolytes and hemoglobin levels.

I will never forget that spring of 2007, but I have tried to avoid thinking about it since it was probably the worst time of my life to date. Thanks to my parents, sisters, my friends and colleagues and of course the doctors and nurses who treated me, I am alive and prospering. I hope no one ever has to go through what I went through that year, but memories from that time are beginning to trigger feelings of nostalgia instead of despair and I take that as a positive and a sign of human survival instincts.

What to Pack as a Diabetic

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Maybe you’re planning a trip soon and would love a travel checklist for diabetes?

(I made you a travel checklist for diabetes below, make sure to check it out!)

What is necessary to bring along on a long trip with diabetes?

Sometimes I feel like diabetes just has its own luggage to bring along, physically as well as emotionally.

The emotional luggage we’ll have to discuss another time, because this time I want to talk about the physical luggage Diabetes brings along. Especially when traveling.

As if packing for a trip isn’t stressful enough (“what shoes should I bring?”, “does this dress go with that jacket?”, “what make up should I bring?” and “WILL IT ALL FIT IN MY BAG?!” – you get the point…), as an added bonus, you also have to haul around on all the stuff that you need for diabetes to keep in line.

I always bring all my supplies in my carry on bag when I fly. That way it’s harder to lose it, and the insulin stays at the right temperature throughout my trip.

The size of said carry-on bag has changed, though, in favor of trying to save my shoulder from falling off from carrying all the heavy stuff. Now I bring along a small, cabin sized wheelie bag where I have all my supplies, from insulin, to pumps, to test strips, to hypo treatment.

I also deposit a few things in my traveling buddy’s, usually my husband’s, bag. At least that way, if I lose my carry on, I’m not completely stranded in terms of diabetes. He has an extra blood sugar meter and test strips, and insulin with emergency-syringes. And glucose tabs. One can never have enough of those.

While I make sure to bring along most things on my travel checklist for diabetes, I don’t always bring everything.

Like ketone sticks, for example. I don’t usually bring those, unless I’m traveling somewhere really remote with no pharmacy within the next hour or so of driving. I figure that I can buy them pretty much anywhere I go.

On the other hand, insulin and BG test strips can get really darn expensive, not to mention inaccessible without a prescription, unless you prepare properly and take enough with you for your whole trip. “Enough” here means way too much, by the way. You never know what might happen, so it’s better to be prepared for most things that may happen.

Food

And, pretty please, get organized and bring your own snacks. Food on the road is generally beyond terrible, and like that you know you can at least eat something. I bring things like nuts and dried meat and other cutleryless foods on the plane, whilst in a car or on the train you can get a little more creative. This time around I’m going to make low carb pancakes and wrap them up in foil to bring along on my long flight, as I know from experience that food on flights is never good.

Another note regarding food, please don’t get fooled by the “need” to snack, which is most commonly masking the fact that you’re bored out of your brain.

Water

Traveling by plane is like sitting in the middle of the desert, although maybe not quite as warm. It’s dehydrating like nobody’s business! Being hydrated can really be one of the keys to better diabetes management, so please do us both a favor and DRINK A LOT OF WATER! (and skip the booze up in the air, but that one is evident, right?)

Security

Getting through airport security can be a lot easier than it’s made up to be. This is of course assuming that you don’t meet an a-hole security agent.

In my 30 years of living with diabetes, having traveled to many different parts of the world (although I have MUCH left to see and visit!), I’ve been stopped exactly twice at security. Once for my test stripes (what, you didn’t mind the syringe full of potentially very deadly stuff in my bag? Ok, then.) And once because my pump set the alarm off. In both cases it was easy to explain, and I didn’t even have to show my medical certificate. Security agents see so many diabetes supplies on a daily basis; they’re barely phased by them anymore. At least within Europe.

Now, I’ve heard that US TSA agents can be a little trickier to handle. For example, they have no problem jeopardizing your super expensive medical equipment and tell you to go through the full body scanner wearing your insulin pump, for example. I would insist on the pat down, not risking any breakages or malfunctions. This of course means that it might take a little longer for you to get through, but it’s worth it, and as long as you know about it, you can plan for it.

The bottom line is, as long as you’re nice and cooperative (enough) to them, they’ll usually treat you with the same respect.

Anyway, let’s check out the goodie in this blog post, my Travel Checklist for Diabetes.

These are the absolute essentials that you need to bring with you (or at least consider bringing with you). If you think “I’ve never needed that before”, you should probably take it along anyway, as traveling can make your body do some funky stuff.

Travel checklist

  • Enough insulin to cover the days you’re gone (this should be a no brainer!) Make sure you bring both basal and bolus insulin, even if you’re using an insulin pump. You just never know…
  • Blood glucose meter & enough test strips, extra batteries (it might even be good to bring an extra BG meter.)
  • CGM sensors
  • Keto sticks (As I said, I don’t always bring them)
  • Glucose tabs (or whatever you use to treat a hypo)  (Bring too much of this, you never know what your body think of your new location.)
  • (See above)
  • Glucagon Kit (most airlines don’t have these on board their planes. Better be safe than sorry!)
  • Alcohol wipes (these are great, not just for setting infusion sets and cleaning fingers, but also for wiping surfaces like tables, handles or cutlery that seems unclean.)
  • Other prescription medication and supplements you may be taking (easy one to forget, trust me. I’ve done it before.)
  • If you’re going somewhere really warm (lucky you!), bring something like the FRIO bag to keep your insulin in. (http://www.frioinsulincoolingcase.com)
  • Medical Certificate (This can save you at security checks!)
  • Diabetes ID (If you’re found unconscious somewhere, I’m sure you’d prefer that the EMTs knows what you’ve got.)
  • If you’re going somewhere remote, bring a glucagon set. (Again, you never know.)
  • Your BG diary, if you use one. (Otherwise there’s some great apps for that, for example www.glucosebuddy.com or mysugr.com)
  • Address and telephone number of your doctor’s office.

If you are on injections, also bring:

  • Insulin pens, plus back ups
  • Pen needles

If you’re on a pump, also bring:

  • Your pump, as well as possibly getting a back-up pump. (This can be ordered from your pump manufacturer.)
  • Batteries/Power adapter
  • Cartridges (if your pump uses those)
  • Infusion sets, or just enough of patch pumps
  • Syringes/pen for emergencies
  • Basal insulin for emergencies

If you’re planning a pumpcation (vacation without your pump):

  • Your action plan, that you’ve talked to your med-team about
  • Pens and needles
  • Basal and bolus insulin

It’s better to take too much than too little!

I’ve made a pretty print out of this list that you can print out and tick off the boxes as you put the items into your bag.

This blog was originally published on Hanna’s website at http://hannaboethius.com/2015/05/travel-checklist-for-diabetes/.

Breakfast for a former diabetic who still eats low carb meals

avocado-toast

  • Boil water – make tea, and add milk
  • Pour water in glass, add vitamin c effervescent tablet
  • Toast one slice of multigrain bread
  • Mash up 1/2 avocado (ripe) and add some sea salt
  • Smear avocado on toast
  • Divide toast in two triangles
  • Slice one hard boiled egg and place slices on avocado toast
  • Season with sea salt and add olive oil on top

Enjoy!

Diabetes and Mental Health

It’s something that always goes together. It’s something with many factors. It’s something that you never get a break from. It’s also something that isn’t often talked about or factored into everyday care. It’s splattered with stigma, stereotypes, shame, and silence. Well, it’s actually two somethings. It’s type 1 diabetes and mental health.

Type 1 diabetes and mental health very often impact each other one way or another. Type 1 diabetes and mental health impact everyday life, but everyday life also impacts the two. You can never take a vacation from type 1 diabetes and mental health. It’s a rare event when mental health is factored into diabetes care. You see the stigma, stereotypes, and silence around type 1 diabetes and mental health constantly, but it’s also accompanied with silence and shame.

This all very much so applied to me for the majority of my life doubled with the fact that in my mind I could only be positive about type 1 diabetes and the fact that I had had few good experiences with counseling. In my mind, I was invincible ever since I was diagnosed at 7.

But soon that all changed- compounded with many years of living with type 1 diabetes, my studies in Social Work in college, my involvement in the diabetes community online and in life, hiding from the past and things I didn’t want to deal with, and the fact that I was going a million miles an hour with limited self-care.

Diabetes Burnout hit me with full force my junior year of college. I had faced a wall that for the first time I couldn’t climb over or burst may way through. My Diabetes Burnout lasted for months and under a cloak of silence and shame. I searched for information- I found some resources that didn’t seem a right fit for me, and I found almost no “me too’s.” I did however discover how wonderful and beneficial counseling was.

I came out of it eventually, but I was very different when I did. My thoughts on mental health were the biggest change for me. Self-care immediately became a regular part of my routine. I yearned for more me too’s, and eventually I made it my goal to be more honest not just to myself, but to the outside world about mental health, but especially mental health and diabetes.

My senior year of college came, and towards the end of the year so did a triple diagnosis of ADHD, Anxiety, and OCD. All of which apparently presented before the age of 12, but it was missed duee to the focus on diabetes and my mistrust of healthcare providers.

So again- something changed. With that change, so did my blog.

I’ve shared versions and bits of this story before in print and in person. Especially because only a few people probably wear their mental health on their sleeve.

But I hope for things to change. I hope for a diabetes community that doesn’t call burnout giving up. I hope for more research. I hope for a day that mental health isn’t a joke, that diabetes isn’t a joke, and especially that the two together are not part of jokes.

The truth of the matter is that I live with type 1 diabetes, ADHD, OCD, and Anxiety, but that is just a part of who I am. But these parts are very much together with other aspects of my life.

I have to check my blog sugar and give insulin many times during the day, and battle the OCD that begins to obsess over my continuous glucose monitor. I’m figuring out how to navigate ADHD and anxiety in the workplace. I’m still learning my triggers and figuring out what works for me.

And to be perfectly honest, this is mostly for me- a part of my self-care- I am not great at verbalizing how I feel- especially if those emotions aren’t positive, but I can do it through writing.

But I can’t lie when I hear or see someone say “me too” or I thought I was the only one- because it’s a nice reminder to keep doing what I’m doing, but it’s also a reminder that I am not alone.

Social information-

Instagram and twitter: @mindy_bartleson

Blog: https://mindydiabetes.wordpress.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/theresmoretothestory/

 

Clinical Psychologist and Certified Diabetes Educator

dr-bev-head-shot-photo-2016

My diagnosis

I was the original “diabetes diva” before being a diva was cool!  I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before it was called that. It was 1975 and I had all the classic symptoms: excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive fatigue, and weight loss (without trying). My diagnosis was “juvenile diabetes.” I was insulted by that diagnosis because I was in college and didn’t appreciate being called “juvenile.” Prior to my diagnosis, I actually dated two young men (not at the same time) who had diabetes, but they never explained what was involved in diabetes management. It was like belonging to a club that was a big secret. My uncle (not blood-related) also had diabetes. He was the best example of what not to do.  Everybody told me, “Don’t be like Uncle Henry!” Like my two boyfriends, my uncle never discussed his diabetes with me or gave me any advice. Other than my family’s words of warning, I was on my own.

I accepted my diagnosis without much emotional drama. My mother, a college professor, had a student in one of her classes who was ill (not the same symptoms as me) and went for medical tests at the same time as I did. When her student’s diagnosis came back as a brain tumor, I was grateful to have a chronic illness that I could live with. My brother, who was very wise, congratulated me on my diagnosis, explaining that he knew I would always take care of myself. He was right! But, self-care in those days was bereft of all our modern technology. I was lucky to use disposable syringes (and not have to sterilize my needles).  Blood sugar meters had not yet been invented nor was carbohydrate counting. The biggest regimen advancement of the day was taking insulin twice a day. When my regimen was adjusted to “multiple daily injections” four times a day, some people felt sorry for me that my diabetes had gotten “worse” requiring the additional injections. I was not like my uncle and two previous boyfriends who kept silent. I was always explaining to people about the improvements in diabetes management. I called myself the “Johnny Appleseed” of diabetes education and saw myself as an unofficial diabetes educator.

Diabetes and psychology

I had no idea when I studied psychology as an undergraduate student, and later as a graduate student (earning two Master’s degrees: one in Applied Behavior Analysis and the other in school psychology, and then my PhD in clinical psychology) that my two worlds – diabetes and psychology – would one day collide together. After my children were old enough to be a little more independent, I went back to pursue my career goal of having a private practice. I had no idea what my focus should be. Again, my very wise brother was helpful. He asked me a simple question: “If you could choose to do anything, what would you like to do?” My answer was easy: I would like to work with people with diabetes. His reply, “Then, go for it!” was all the encouragement I needed. At first, I started working, part-time, at my local hospital’s Counseling Center. Every patient with diabetes was assigned to be seen by me. (I also saw patients without diabetes too.) As time went on, I was invited to make presentations to various Diabetes Support Groups. In 2007, I was invited to present the Keynote Address to my local JDRF’s 1st Annual Educational Seminar “Living with Diabetes.”  Also in 2007, I was the recipient of the LillyforLife Achievement Award in the category of “Professional Hero”, which included a check for $1500 to be donated to a charity of my choice.

Lions Clubs International

That charity which I supported then (as well as currently) is Lions Clubs International. Lions Clubs is an international organization whose members provide help at all levels of need from local community support to global disaster relief. Lions Clubs accepted the challenge, made by Helen Keller in 1925, to become the “Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness.” The Lions accepted her challenge and our work has included sight programs aimed at preventable blindness. Since people with diabetes are at risk of losing sight due to diabetic retinopathy, Lions are involved with programs for diabetes awareness, education, prevention and research. Throughout my years of involvement with Lions, I was elected to serve on the board of the Nassau County Lions Diabetes Foundation, Inc. for two two-year terms, served as co-chair for our fundraising project Lions Strides Walk, which raised money for diabetes awareness and education, and currently serve as secretary for my local club. In 2010, I was honored to be the recipient of the “Melvin Jones Fellowship Award” – a Lions award for dedication to humanitarian service.

Diabetes is a blessing in disguise

I’ve written many articles (in print and online), as well as made numerous presentations, about diabetes topics, always from the psychological perspective.  In 2011, I published my first book: “MY SWEET LIFE: Successful Women with Diabetes.”  The book is a collection of 24 life stories (including mine), each chapter written by a  highly respected and successful woman with diabetes. The diverse group of women share their heartwarming stories and insights about finding balance between their personal, professional, and spiritual lives.  One year later, I published my second book: “MY SWEET LIFE: Successful Men with Diabetes.” Again, the second book is a collection of 25 life stories written by a diverse group of successful men with diabetes.  The men’s stories are filled with honesty, humor, drive and determination that are inspiring. The theme which runs through both diabetes self-help books is that “diabetes is a blessing in disguise.” Had it not been for my diabetes, I don’t know if I would have made this the focus of my career. Had it not been for my diabetes, I don’t know if I would have chosen to live a healthy lifestyle. I believe that diabetes was my destiny’s plan. I understand the ups and downs of living with diabetes (quite literally). I love what I do and feel that I am uniquely qualified to treat the emotional issues of people with diabetes.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy and a spiritual approach

Known as “Dr. Bev” in my private practice, I focus on strongly endorsing and empowering the lives of people with diabetes. I’ve described the approach I take as “T L C Therapy: Talk, Listen, Counsel” which was published in the AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) journal In Practice (in September 2014). T L C Therapy can be broken down as follows — Talk: teaching patients about diabetes and its management; Listen: supporting patients and validating their feelings when they speak; Counsel: utilizing Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to help my patients develop healthy coping strategies so they can achieve the goal of diabetes acceptance.  As a clinical psychologist, I have seen my patients go through various stages of emotional adjustment, such as denial, anger, bargaining, and depression/diabetes distress. It should be noted that not all people go through those stages, nor do they necessarily occur in the same order. Learning how to recognize what is not within your power to change – your diagnosis – and learning to recognize what is within your power to change – your thoughts and your actions – can help you accept your diabetes. People with diabetes can learn how to survive with diabetes, but more importantly, how to thrive with diabetes.

In addition to Cognitive Behavior Therapy, I also include a spiritual approach to the therapy I provide. As I said earlier, I believe that diabetes can be viewed as a blessing in disguise. I am a big fan of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

A belief in God is not required to benefit from this approach. What is needed is an open mind and a positive attitude about life. If you interested in further information about me and the work that I do, please visit my web site at: www.AskDrBev.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter @AskDrBev.

In conclusion, here’s some helpful thoughts to keep in mind:

  • “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” – Eckhart Tolle
  • “Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have, it depends solely upon what you think.” – Dale Carnegie
  • “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Max Planck
  • “Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.” – Joel Osteen
  • “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou
  • “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
  • “Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does.” – Anonymous
  • “A bad attitude is like a flat tire – you don’t get anywhere until you change it.” – Anonymous
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