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Two and a Half Years After Chemo, I Take Inventory of My Healing

Part of my goal with ABSOT is to create a resource for the newly diagnosed to understand what lies on the road ahead. I detailed nearly every moment of my chemotherapy treatments and began writing a series of posts of how recovery was going after finishing chemo. I wrote these posts at the two monthsfive months, and twelve months post-chemo marks, respectively. However, after the last one, I really dropped the ball on continuing the series.

But today marks thirty months post chemo, or two and a half years for people who don’t count anything over a year in months. Looking at you, new moms who insist on telling me your kid is 16 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, and 6 hours old. Your kid is one. Move on.

But I digress. True to the fashion of the other “Months Later” pieces, I’ll give an update on how my physical and mental recovery, after facing chemo, has been going since the last update.

Physical healing remains strong, with a few slight problems.

 

In the “Twelve Months Later” piece, I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling any nausea or fatigue anymore. This remains true today. I haven’t vomited at all since the ‘BRATman Begins’saga and I would even venture to say I’m in the best shape of my life.

I also mentioned in that post that my hair fully grew back and I was contemplating a new style. I’ve finally decided on a new one… a year and a half later. Stay tuned! Another holdover from that same post is my disdain for plain water. While I don’t hate it anymore, I still prefer it with lemon – or even a lime if I’m feeling wild.

However, a number of new strange symptoms have cropped up in the past six months or so. Mainly, I’ve been experiencing excessive sweating (even in cool temperatures) and had some weird pains here and there. So far, blood work has ruled out thyroid or hormonal issues, and I’ve had an ultrasound that I am still waiting on the results (as of this publishing).

Overall, aside from these new symptoms, I would be confident in saying that my physical health is 99.9999% back to normal – a full 0.0009% higher than in January 2018.

Mental health continues to ebb and flow.

I still have some slight difficulties with memory and attention, which I credit to chemo brain. Over the weekend, I participated in an online study that confirmed my short term memory and concentration are below average and my spatial awareness and ability to split my attention are right on the money. Interestingly, my ability to quickly scan and process information is actually above average. However, I don’t have a baseline to draw from originally, so who knows if that’s actually due to chemo brain, “old age,” or undiagnosed ADHD?

Worrying about scans is a constant, too

Probably the single biggest difference between January 2018 and now is mental health fluctuations. Back then, after realizing how I was experiencing depression, I had just started on antidepressants. At first, they didn’t seem to help too much. Finally the correct dosage kicked in and has been helpful in keeping me balanced since then.

Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve been struggling a bit more than usual with my mental health, so I’ve begun seeing a therapist who I’ve seemed to connect well with. I’ve gone twice thus far, and we’re working on a roadmap to help me navigate the sea that is cancer survivorship and life. In a few months, I’ll probably write a more detailed post about therapy and how it’s been helping.

All in all, my mental health is doing much better than it was right after facing cancer, but it’s always in the forefront of my mind.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Being a cancer survivor is complicated.

I firmly believe in the value of sharing my full story in hopes of letting others know that it’s ok to not be ok. While this piece was largely the same as the “Twelve Months Later” piece, it’s important to share these moments so others know what to expect on the road ahead.

It’s also critical to note that my left testicle has still not grown back, even after all this time.

Though I still hold out hope, the local hospital has told me that, “infusing your DNA with that of a salamander will not help you to spontaneously regrow a testicle and for the last time, please stop calling us unless you have a true medical emergency.”

A self exam is how most cases of testicular cancer are detected early. Click the image for video directions or click here for a larger version

 

Want to work with Justin? Click here to learn more.

Celgene, Lyfebulb put patient spin on MS innovation challenge

Innovation challenges continue to proliferate in the pharma industry, and Celgene’s is the latest, seeking crowdsourced solutions for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Its partnership with Lyfebulb is unique, however, in that it only accepted entries from patients or direct relations of patients.

In the MS challenge with Celgene, Lyfebulb and its Big Biotech partner have narrowed the field to 10 patient entrepreneur finalists, with a “Shark Tank”-style finish set for June 12-13. Each finalist will get 10 minutes to present to a professional panel of judges that will include a patient advocacy group lead, patient ambassador and venture capitalist, plus reps from pharma and the insurance industry. At the end of the second day, one winner will be chosen for the top prize of $25,000. But even more valuable than the money, said Lyfebulb founder and CEO Karin Hehenberger, is the exposure to pharma executives, additional funding sources and other influential industry players.

Celgene first approached Lyfebulb last year in an effort to better understand MS patient needs as it readied its first multiple sclerosis treatment for market. Since then, the FDA has pushed back on Celgene’s candidate ozanimod with a refuse-to-file notice and a request more data on preclinical and clinical pharmacology, delaying the company’s NDA filing until March of this year. The new ozanimod data hit its targets, though, and analysts project the drug could still reach $2 billion in sales in the already competitive oral MS drug market. In the meantime, Celgene has also become an M&A partner for Bristol-Myers Squibb in a $74 billion deal approved by shareholders in April.

The Celgene challenge for multiple sclerosis is Lyfebulb’s seventh patient-sourced contest, with previous partners including Novo Nordisk for diabetes, Helsinn Healthcare for oncology and United Healthcare for depression and anxiety solutions.

Hehenberger, a physician and Type 1 diabetes patient who has walked the walk of chronic disease with two transplants and a pacemaker implant, launched the company in 2014 to help give patients a voice in industry solutions.

“We believe insights and solutions from patients can be leveraged by pharma and by tech and device companies to enhance their pipelines, to get closer to patients and to learn what it’s like to live with these diseases,” she said. “For the patients, they finally really get heard. For pharma companies, instead of just being patient-centric, they now work side by side with patients.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Source: Beth Snyder Bulik, FiercePharma

Chronic Illness & Anxiety: A Chicken & Egg Scenario

Anxiety and depression are prevalent for those who suffer from chronic illness. In fact, one study found that 40% of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients had abnormal anxiety levels and this drastically increases to 80% when the patient is in a flare-up . With chronic illness typically, there is a feeling of loss of control over your own life which can in turn cause stress, anxiety and depression.

Chicken or Egg?

I was diagnosed with IBD 9 years ago and while I have learned to (mostly) manage the symptoms of my disease over time, I have yet to master the feelings of worry and anxiety. After having a bowel resection surgery, I have been in clinical remission but not without its bumps along the way. The fear of the unknown can do a number on one’s mental health. The possibility of a flare-up always lives in the back of my mind. I can remember the countless visits to the hospital, procedures, medications, and extreme pain. I was barely able to take care of myself, and now that I have children, I worry that if I were to have a flare-up, I wouldn’t be able to take care of them or participate in their lives in a meaningful way.

I know that having a chronic illness has increased my anxiety levels, but does stress and anxiety exasperate my symptoms? Research shows that stress can worsen symptoms and cause a relapse of remission. From WebMD “When someone is under stress, the body gears up for a fight-or-flight response by secreting certain hormones, including adrenalin, as well as molecules called cytokines. They stimulate the immune system, which triggers inflammation. In people whose ulcerative colitis is in remission, this sets the stage for the return of their symptoms, known as a flare-up.” This is something I’ve experienced and heard from talking to fellow chronic illness sufferers. Lack of quality sleep and environmental stressors have often caused a revival of symptoms which can be a slippery slope to a full-on flare.

Anxiety definition (from Merriam-Webster):
an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.

Stress definition (from Merriam-Webster):
constraining force or influence: such a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation
Anxiety = Fear

When speaking about Generalized Anxiety Disorder it is often associated with people who have irrational fears or worry for no reason. When talking about sufferers from chronic illness, often the anxiety is derived from perceived AND real fears. From my experience, my anxiety stems from a fear of a past trauma reoccurring. Fear of pain, a flare-up, of being out with no access to bathrooms. Fear of foods and eating, procedures, fear of damage caused by long term use of medications (i.e. Remicade can cause an increase in cancer). Fear of missing work, fear that people don’t understand, fear of drug/procedure costs and benefits coverage. This can be scary stuff and can plague your thoughts even when in remission.

From diagnosis to remission the fear still exists, it just changes in size and scope. A newly diagnosed patient can go through stages of grieving and without having the tools to manage the illness it can be very scary. Fast forward to remission, chronic illness has many layers and can be unpredictable. No matter how much you’ve done to manage your illness, there is still a possibility you can have a relapse. The feeling of helplessness can trigger depression, but on the flip-side depression can slow recovery. This begets a vicious cycle which can be hard to get under control.

Coping Physically and Mentally

Patients must cope with not just the disease itself but the mental health side effects of it. While I believe I’ve received excellent care from my Gastroenterologist, he deals with only clinical IBD symptoms so often the mental health aspect of the disease gets overlooked. It is important to bring up your emotional health to your doctor when suffering from a chronic illness despite the perceived stigma. Having that aspect under control could potentially help with physical symptoms. Anxiety and chronic illness can be a chicken and egg scenario where consideration must be given to both to have a holistic treatment plan.

Strategies for Coping With Anxiety:

Find your support: whether that be a close friend, family member, a fellow patient, or support group like Lyfebulb, knowing you aren’t in this alone makes a world of difference.

Don’t assume the worst: challenge those negative thoughts! Remember that you have survived thus far, and all those experiences make you stronger.

Try yoga, meditation, or deep-breathing:  Research has shown this to be an effective complementary therapy for patients with IBD.

Seek counseling – an impartial third party can help instill coping techniques

SOURCES: [Sharma P, Poojary G, Dwivedi SN, Deepak KK. Effect of Yoga-Based Intervention in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Int J Yoga Therap. 2015;25(1):101-12. doi: 10.17761/1531-2054-25.1.101. ]
Cannabis is an increasingly popular therapy for IBD with cannabidiol (CBD) showing promise as an anti-inflammatory and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as a pain reducer and sleep-aid. [Ahmed W, Katz S. Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2016;12(11):668-679.]

– Krystal Laferriere, Lyfebulb Ambassador (Instagram @xtra_ordinary_girl )

Caregivers: The Greatest Blessing of All

ibd-caretakers

As we wrap up Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week,

I reflect on the greatest blessing of all in my IBD journey: my caregivers, my dear mother and husband. From the constant rides into the city for doctors’ visits to packing wounds and changing PICC line dressings while helping me walk and shower after surgery, Mom, you picked me up when I was at my lowest points in life. From driving me to Cleveland Clinic and flying me to Mayo Clinic for surgery while spending countless sleepless nights in the hospital, Anand, you stood by my side when society told you you could have done better.

Many of our IBD journeys

would be incomplete without creating awareness for our caregivers and the act of caregiving. You see, folks, caregiving takes courage; it takes guts! When most people disappear from our lives, our caregivers stick around and show us our true worth as human beings, as partners, as sons or daughters, and not just as sick patients. Caregiving takes a real, unconditional love for the person who needs care and help during major illness. And, in the case of my caregivers, it has taken true dedication and perseverance to care for me through 20+ surgeries and hundreds of hospitalizations and procedures. In many ways, for my two caregivers, giving me life again has become their modus operandi, and for me, their love and support has become my ode for survival.

The thing is when we are young and chronically ill, it is next to impossible to ask for help. It makes us feel useless and ashamed that we can’t be as able-bodied as the rest of our peers. But to have two caregivers who swoop in every time, like the guardian angels that they are, is truly my greatest blessing. Thank you, Mom, and thank you, Anand, for being my two rocks. Every time I have wanted to give up, you have encouraged me to press on, insisting that my existence matters oh-so-much. So, if there is a single reason as to why I have kept fighting and facing this monster of a disease, it’s you both. You are my lifeline, the embodiment of love, and truly, my entire universe.

So, own your Crohn’s,

own your need for tender love and care, for there is nothing wrong with being taken care of sometimes. We too will have the opportunity to pay that kindness forward one day in our very own ways.

**This blog and my advocacy work are an extension of the love and support I’ve received from my caregivers over the years. It is an act of paying their compassion and humanity forward to you all, my followers and supporters. I dedicate this blog to my mother, my husband and my late father who fought Crohn’s Disease and colorectal cancer so valiantly and passed nearly 27 years ago. My IBD journey would be incomplete without the three of you.**

Rebecca Babcock: IBD Warrior

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais NinDueing

December 1-7 is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness week,

and as an IBD Warrior, it is an important to take a pause and look at REAL life with a silent, incurable illness. There is no question that is hard, but it is also what WE choose to make of it. As I often say, each of us can do hard things.

rebecca-babcock-ibd-crohns

Having a chronic illnesses can understandably leave you living in fear of the next flair up… like becomes an insane game of “illness athematic”: trying to time the onslaught of debilitating symptoms with work or personal commitments (as if we have an ounce of control over any of it!), lying in wait of medication’s terrible side effects, or perhaps planning around the anticipation of potentially embarrassing social encounters. Aka: life can get very small… if you let it.

Last weekend I experienced a beautiful reminder that I can live a full life even during the hard times when I don’t feel well, or I am not sure I am up to it, I don’t look my best or can’t give it 100%. I went to a baby shower for a very best friend and then a “Friendsgiving” celebration, and while I could not partake in either of the beautiful and likely delicious cakes, I was reminded that showing up is most of the battle.

rebecca-babcock-life-ibd-crohns

The bottom line is my disease doesn’t define me and it doesn’t need to define you. It certainly takes courage and more than a fair amount of humility and honesty to show up to life, maybe not at my best, but on life’s terms. It is a lot better than not showing up at all.

#nocolonstillrollin,

Rebecca

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

Real Talk with Dave: All about the Dexcom G6

Many people have been eagerly waiting for the Dexcom G6 to be announced.

Well, it just so happens that it is now FDA approved and available in June. I had the special privilege of being sent a Dexcom G6 to try out and so far, I am loving it. As promised, I wanted to share my open and honest opinion about this device, so I thought what better way to share my thoughts than through a blog.

First and foremost, I want to say how incredible this device is. I had the opportunity to see a mock-up of the device at the JDRF Type One Nation Summit and was even more excited to use this new product! The whole site and transmitter is about 33% thinner than the Dexcom G5. It is much more user friendly and has a longer wear time than the G5. You can now wear your site and get continuous glucose readings for 10 full days before you have to change out your site. You can also view your blood sugar readings on your phone, watch, and receiver that comes with the device.

One really exciting feature is that the Dexcom G6 does not require any fingerstick calibrations, which means you no longer have to prick your fingers for a manual blood sugar check anymore. You can now fully depend on this device to be even more accurate than before and allow you to have even more freedom in knowing what your blood sugars are. I have been wearing the Dexcom G6 for about a week now and have been comparing the G6 to the G5. For the first few days, I was wearing both CGMs just out of curiosity on how much more accurate the G6 really is. From what I observed, the G6 was way more accurate in comparison to the G5. I also would still check my blood sugars manually just to compare the numbers and my Dexcom was very close to the actual reading. It is intended to be 20 points above or below the actual reading, which it has been.

The device also has a new app in which there is a whole new design (similar to that of the G5, only better), and there are now more options for alerts and settings in which you can customize to your liking. Now, when having a low blood sugar, this device will alert you 20 minutes before a predicted severe low of 55 mg/dL, which I think is amazing that it can detect that for you. It truly does give peace of mind in knowing what to expect and when, giving you alerts ahead of time so you can try and prevent a bad low before it hits you.

The part of this device that I cannot praise enough is the insertion. Before, you would have to plunge a big needle into your skin and then remove it, leaving a plastic cannula deep into your skin. Now, all you do is apply to device to your skin, push a button, and within seconds, the device is in your body! When people ask me what it feels like to insert the G6, I like to describe it as “a puff of air hitting your skin, that’s it!”. The first (and only) time I inserted my CGM, I was blown away at how painless it truly was. This is going to be a huge game changer for children who have to wear a CGM as they will not feel a thing when the time comes to insert the device into their skin.

All in all, this device is great. I am obsessed at how this product works and helps me feel as a Type 1 Diabetic. It definitely allows me to live my life and not worry as much as I truly can trust what my readings are and know what is going on inside of my body. If medical technology is this good now, I am even more excited as to what the future holds for Type 1 Diabetes. With the Dexcom G6, Diabetes is not all bad.

Live well,

Dave

Real Talk with Dave: All About the JDRF Type One Nation Summit

Last Sunday, April 22, 2018, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at my very first Type 1 event. JDRF hosted their annual Type One Nation Summit in Pasadena as part of the Los Angeles chapter. My goal for this year has been to get more involved in the Diabetic community, so I just knew that I had to reach out and see if I could be a part of this amazing event! I was given the privilege to work with children who also have Type 1 Diabetes, which was such a surreal and eye-opening experience. Also, throughout the day, I was able to meet many new and amazing Diabetics, many of whom I have met through the online community and now was able to meet them in person.

As the day started, I was greeted by some very kind people working the event who helped get me situated and allowed me to find my way around the place. As I walked through the convention center, many different Type 1 brands and companies were there with their very own booths, which allowed us T1Ds to get some more knowledge and have our questions answered. Brands such as Dexcom, Medtronic, OmniPod, Myabetic, and so many others were there with a few very kind reps from each brand. They were all so nice in welcoming quests and helping them find their new favorite T1D brand. I for one was fascinated by the Dexcom booth as they were promoting their latest and greatest device, the Dexcom G6. It was so neat to be able to see the product right then and there as the Dexcom reps were there showing how it works.

As I went to help the children who lived with T1D, I found myself in a room of so many wonderful kids. You would think that these kids would be somewhat down for the fact that they have to live with T1D, but that wasn’t the case at all. The kids I worked with were so happy to be at the event and meet new friends. I would ask them different questions such as how long they have had Type 1 for, what their blood sugars were (and we would compare our numbers with each other), and what devices they use. There was an instant connection with many of the kids as they were so responsive and excited to share. The day went by and they were thrilled to be in this space with each other as they worked on different projects and had different guests come in and talk with them.

Throughout the event, I would go back and forth from the T1D kids to the T1D adults and found myself fascinated with each and every special bond that was formed with one another. I was able to attend a few break-out sessions and listen in on some very interesting panels, some of which I was familiar with the speakers, which made them much more interesting and enjoyable. I must say that whoever put together this event really knew what Diabetes is actually like as they thought of everything to be presented that day. The topics that they talked about were so relatable to people living with Type 1, which made it so special to be a part of. We even got to meet a T1D hero who has been living with Type 1 for 58 years! He was such an inspiration.

As the day went by, more friendships were formed, more amazing T1D brands were discovered with some amazing purposes in the Diabetic community, and all in all, this event was a beautiful space where we could all come together as one big T1D family. Whoever was there was in support of one another and would lift each other up. New people came, but were immediately invited into the group and fit in right away. Many traveled from near and far to be together on this special day for this extra special event, and that right there made me realize how when we stick together as one big T1D family, this disease has nothing on us. We are brave, strong, and true fighters, we won’t give up and we will rise above in times of trouble. Diabetes doesn’t own us.

If you want to get more involved with the T1D community (which I highly recommend, it will definitely change your life for the better), get in contact with your local T1D organizations and be on the lookout for events/meet-ups in your area and just go for it! It just takes one time to get involved and you will be hooked! Being with other Diabetics is contagious and you will want to meet even more Diabetics each time!

 

Live well,

 

Dave

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.

Moving for Your Body

Let’s be real, working out can suck. Like really, really suck.


Growing up, running was always my punishment for the other sports I played (tennis, volleyball, and softball). We would run if we missed, run if we lost, etc. Running was never something I got to do, but had to do, rather. I’d had a distorted view of working out (outside of playing sports competitively) and I saw working out as punishment for what I ate, etc.

By pushing my body too hard, at the age of 21, I’ve already had shoulder surgery, five stress fractures in both my shins and lumbar spine, as well as four cortisone injections. So after years of putting my body through intense workouts to train, I am finally working out to heal my body and mind.

So what shifted in my love-hate relationship with “movement”? My mindset. While I used to view running, cycling, swimming as the enemy or the “worst part” of training, I now view it as something I GET to do. I get to move my body, as quickly or slowly as I please. I get to be outside. I get an hour to move how I want to– however feels good for my body. 

I used to push myself through a run when I could hardly walk, or through shin splints on a long run, now I don’t. Now, I run or bike when I want, put on a great playlist, and enjoy the movement, the celebration of what my body CAN do. I practice yoga daily because it is sustainable for me, and I love the mental and physical reset it provides for me. I focus on how it feels, what I need, and am very consious of my blood glucose levels when working out.

My advice to those who have a distorted view of gyms or physical activity, or even just need motivation to start working out is to find something you love, that you can sustain. Maybe for you this is dance, yoga, boxing, a long walk– or a multitude of act ivies combined.

“Speak like you love yourself. Eat like you love yourself. Move like you love yourself.”

Real Talk with Dave: Trusting Your Gut

When first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, we are told how we will feel. Doctors and nurses come in and tell us what we may experience when we are faced with a low or a high blood sugar, but that’s about it. Mind you most of these medical professionals are NOT Diabetic, which means that they don’t truly know what Diabetes “feels” like. Not only are we not able to fully know what symptoms of T1D feel like until we experience them on our own, but we are never actually mentally prepared for how life is going to feel like from now on, from the good times, to the not so good moments. How we know how Diabetes is exactly like is by simply living with it and experiencing all the possible situations on our own time.

For example, in the hospital, a doctor would typically educate you on low and high symptoms (shakiness, headache, fast heartbeat, etc.), but that doctor doesn’t actually know what it genuinely feels like. When we are faced with our first low blood sugar as a Type 1 Diabetic, it can be a real shocker in the sense that we are not expecting it to feel the way it actually does.

I can remember my very first low when I was essentially “on my own”. I had just gone back to school (6th grade) two weeks after being diagnosed and hadn’t fully understood how important carbohydrates were when on Insulin. I went to lunch that day and didn’t like the bread on the sandwich I was eating, so I decided to not eat the bread and eat the protein inside the sandwich instead, as I thought I was being healthy. Of course, shortly after lunch and having not eaten the carbs I took Insulin for, I had a very bad low. The sweats, shaking, and fast heart beat were so prominent in that low of mine and I needed a friend to walk me to the nurse’s office, where I was given some apple juice to quickly bring my sugar levels back up. Scary, I know, but that was necessary as I then learned why this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

Trusting your gut is key in living with T1D. You may have just checked your blood sugar minutes before and had a good number. Minutes later, you feel a bit funny but don’t think you could have gone low (or high) in such a short amount of time, but then, you do. You listen to your gut and trust your feelings and, you guessed it, a low. Had you not trusted your own gut, you could have been in for a really bad experience. This can happen in a variety of different situations as a Type 1 Diabetic. You can feel low symptoms when you are actually just fine. You can feel as though your blood sugar is high, when actually, you’re low. Knowing your body and how you feel when certain situations arise can be the thing that saves your life.

Nowadays, we have Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) that tell us what our blood sugars are and where they’re headed, which can give us peace of mind as we go about our day, but can also create anxiety as we can see when we may be going severely low or high at a bad time (work, school, meetings, etc.). Though we can see our blood sugar readings being updated every few minutes, we should not rely on the level of accuracy 100% of the time. Often times, the readings on our CGMs can be way off. That is why we must trust our gut and know our bodies. Every now and then, I may find my CGM readings to be about 100 points off of what my actual blood sugar is, which is extremely dangerous. That just comes to show, always be the one in control of your body and your feelings. You can only depend on yourself to determine how you are truly feeling, and when you do, there is a level of peace in knowing that you were able to catch a bad Diabetic feeling before it caused an emergency.

 So always remember, YOU are in control of how you feel. Not your CGM, not your Doctor, but you.

Live well,

 

Dave

Real Talk With Dave: The Importance of Wearing a Medical ID

Wearing a form of medical ID can be the factor that can potentially save your life. As a Type 1 Diabetic, it is important that we wear some type of medical ID at all times (especially when out alone in public). When we go out into the world and live our lives, we may often times face situations that we might not have control over. Thankfully, we have devices to hopefully help us be in the know at all times with our Diabetes, such as a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), but still, at times, we may experience severe situations with our blood sugars that may result in an emergency.

Without getting too deep into a dark topic (as I am sure we all already know about), I do have to say, there is always a danger, regardless, when it comes to Diabetes. Let’s be real, T1D is considered a “disease” which does have some pretty serious consequences such as really high blood sugars (ending up in DKA) or severe low blood sugars to the point where we may pass out or go into a coma. These are fears none of us want to think about, but somehow, they’re always on our minds. Fear. Something that takes over when diagnosed with T1D. There is nothing to worry about though! We are all on top of our Diabetes and know all the potential risk factors, we just have to be aware and plan ahead.

Where does the role of medical ID come in? Well, say we do experience a medical emergency, if we are alone but are wearing some form of medical ID, such as a bracelet, necklace, ring, tattoo, or ever a simple wallet card, that will help the general public/paramedics know what may have caused the emergency and they can help out as much as possible in saving our lives as they will know what actions they need to take, as essentially, time is everything in an emergency.

I guess you could say that medical ID is more for someone to be able to reference in the case of an emergency. Either way, it will give you the assurance and peace of mind in knowing that you will be taken care of properly in the case of an emergency.

I know that you may not want to wear a medical ID all the time, as it may make you feel “labeled” as a Diabetic, and trust me, I have felt that way at some point in my life, however, so many amazing brands have created casual and modern medical ID jewelry that can go with just about anything on any day. You have to find what your style is and what you feel most comfortable wearing. Once you do so, you will be able to wear your ID wherever you go, feeling confident and safe all the time!

Live your life and don’t let T1D slow you down one bit! All you have to do is take a few simple steps towards your safety as a Diabetic and you will be good to go!

Live well,

 

Dave

 

 

 

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