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3 Ways to Reduce Stress after a Car Crash

What with the number of vehicles now out there on the roads (and the speeds at which some of them travel), even the most alert and careful of drivers can find themselves involved in a car accident. If you are ever caught up in such a distressing incident, you should know that, unfortunately, your troubles won’t be over once you leave the scene of the crash. Going forward, you will no doubt come face to face with a host of different stressful situations.

There are ways to reduce this stress, however. To find three of them, be sure to read on.

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Don’t ignore your symptoms

Ignoring any symptoms that you suffer in the aftermath of your crash, whether they appear within minutes of the incident or weeks after it has taken place, will bring you more stress further on down the line, there’s no doubt about that. This is because, by not catching a health issue during its earliest stages, you could allow it to worsen and force you to miss even more time off work going forward. As a result, you could have to face the unwanted headache that is a low income over an extended period of time.

The symptoms that you need to look out for specifically after your crash include:

  • Neck and/or back pain
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Jaw pain
  • Numbness in the injured area of the body
  • Slow reaction times
  • Dizziness

Do not feel forced to get back behind the wheel

Although it is always recommended that you face your fears after such a traumatic situation, if getting back behind the wheel makes you feel anxious, simply don’t do it. Don’t feel forced to do it by another person, either. Trying to rush your rehabilitation, in not only a physical sense but in a mental sense as well, will do nothing for you in your bid to beat your post-crash stress. What you should do, then, is take as long as you need to feel comfortable driving again before you get back on the roads.

Share your burdens

Your life will change to some degree in the aftermath of your car crash. It might just be that you cannot get around as freely due to your lack of a vehicle, or you could have a serious injury that means you have to take time off work. No matter what changes befall you after your crash, however, for the sake of your stress levels, it’s imperative that you share your burdens. You should do so because allowing others to help you out will allow you to focus on the most important thing of all: getting better.

Sharing your burdens could simply entail asking a friend to take your kids to school for the time being, or it could mean contacting 1-800 VINCENT to sort out all of the legal intricacies linked to your compensation case. The point is, no matter what kind of help is made available to you, don’t be afraid to make use of it.

In the aftermath of your car accident, it’s important that you do your utmost best to keep your stress levels down. At the very least, that’ll give you one less thing to worry about as you seek to get your life back on track.

6 Health Problems Related to Stress

Many people try to brush off stress, as they might believe worrying about work or their finances is a natural part of their life. However, all that worry and tension in your body could, unfortunately, lead to the development of various conditions, which could have a permanent effect on your health.The Biggest Lie In Fitness Is Sabotaging Your Workout

To understand how pressure and worry can affect your wellbeing, take a look at the six health problems related to stress.

  1. Depression & Anxiety

It probably isn’t surprising to learn that stress is linked to depression and anxiety. All that worry and tension can manifest into a low mood, which could take its toll on your mental health.

Never leave the stress to manifest to avoid developing one or both conditions. If, however, you believe you are living with a mental health disorder, you must find the appropriate treatment to take back control of your life. For example, you might benefit from TMS Therapy from Smart Brain and Health.

  1. Gastrointestinal Problems

While stress is not the cause of ulcers, it can exacerbate a problem. It is believed stress can help to aggravate various gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or chronic heartburn. If you have one of the conditions above, avoid stress at all costs, or consult your doctor if you develop symptoms.

  1. Heart DiseaseHeart

Stress and heart disease are connected, which is why you must learn to relax and calm down. It’s believed stress can increase a person’s blood flow and heart rate, which will result in the release of cholesterol and triglycerides that will make their way into the bloodstream.

While doctors still don’t know why sudden emotional stress can trigger a serious or fatal cardiac issue, such as a heart attack, it is essential to manage stress to protect your heart’s health.

  1. Obesity

Stress cannot only impact your mental health, but it can also affect your physical health. That’s because people who experience a great deal of stress are more prone to becoming obese. Stress can reportedly lead to higher levels of cortisol, a hormone, which can increase the amount of fat that is deposited in the abdomen. Unfortunately, people who develop excess fat in the belly may experience greater health problems in comparison to those who store fat on their hips or legs.

  1. DiabetesDiabetes

If you are living with diabetes, you have a responsibility to take control of your rising stress levels. It is believed it can heighten diabetes in two ways. The first way is that stress can lead to people overeating or drinking excessively, which could be a person’s way of coping with the strain. The second reason is that stress can reportedly cause the glucose levels to rise for people living with type 2 diabetes.

  1. Circulatory Problems

As stress can make a person’s arteries and veins tighten, which is caused by the body’s fight or flight response, it can restrict your blood flow. Unfortunately, this can lead to various circulatory issues, such as poor circulation or blood clots. While it’s vital to consult your doctor with a complaint, you can enjoy temporary relief with a warm shower or bath, or by sipping on a hot drink.

5 Reasons Why You Actually Should Try That “Breathing” Thing

Have you had someone tell you just to breathe and your natural reaction was something along the lines of rolling your eyes or wanting desperately to punch them in the face?

Especially if you’re upset or stressed about something. It’s like it makes your blood boil even more. Don’t tell me to relax! Now I’m even more hulk-like!

Well, I’m certainly not going to tell you to relax…I do have a couple questions though:

  • Do you ever get nagging aches & pains that distract you from your work?
  • Do you ever feel like your mind is running at 100MPH and you can’t seem to shut it off?
  • Or maybe you have persistent pain that limits you from being able to play golf, go rock climbing or go on a walk/hike with your significant other?
  • Have you started to feel like having pain, feeling insecure and/or out of shape is your new norm?

Well, if any of that even slightly resonated with you, and if you’re open to it, here are 5 reasons that might peak your interest in this whole “breathing” thing.

  1. It literally lowers stress [by activating your vagus nerve which decreases the sympathetic (fight or flight) tone of your nervous system. every time you breathe, you are quite literally telling your nervous system “it’s all good, nothing to worry about here!”]

  2. It allows you to finally turn your brain off [the different areas of our brain compete for their attention, so by focusing on something physical, our brain activity cannot focus on the millions of thoughts running through it – it must instead divert its energy to the physical. this is the same reason you can’t really talk if you’re concentrating heavily on some difficult new yoga pose or dance move or golf swing.]

  3. It relieves tension in spine that may be contributing to your pain [many people hold themselves in a very rigid, upright position all day, which creates a lot of excessive muscular tension in the spine (much like holding a bicep curl all day long – it would hurt & fatigue eventually!). it’s extremely difficult to hold this stiff position while breathing deeply, so if we practice deep breathing, we learn to let that stiff, rigid posture go.]

  4. It improves core strength [deep, diaphragmatic breathing actually requires use of specific abdominal muscles – the muscles in between your rib cage. so, by focusing on a deep, long exhalation, we are actually enabling our core muscles to activate better!]

  5. Its a powerful way of giving movement to your body 24/7 [breathing is actually a form of micro-movement. as we inhale and exhale, the joints and muscles of the spine and the core are getting movement. and as we know, the body does not like inactivity, so by learning to breathe deeply throughout the day, we are feeding our body more movement in areas that are often tense/inactive. this has a plethora of benefits!]

I’m going to be following up on each of these topics for the next couple of weeks, so be sure to stay tuned. I’ll be posting them on my Facebook page, my Instagram, my Twitter, and my exclusive Facebook Group!

And don’t be shy – if you have a specific question about any of this, email me so we can jump on a quick phone call to discuss what’s going on with you!


To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

The Lyfebulb Philosophy – An Introduction

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  • Work Hard
  • Eat Well
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Expand your Horizons
  • Relax Frivolously
  • Do Good

We believe that living well and being happy with yourself include all these components. It is not enough to work hard and play hard but we need to take care of our bodies and minds as well. Treating our bodies as finely tuned machines is a method top athletes are used to and that works for periods of our lives but to succeed to be overall happy the human being needs more than just fuel and toning, we also need intellectual stimulation, feeling needed and to use our hearts.

I have lived a life that has been divided into different phases, the first phase as being a child athlete in gymnastics, track and field and tennis which required me to keep my body very strong and flexible.

This changed when I was diagnosed with diabetes a few days before my 17th birthday after which I dedicated many years to forcing my brain to take in as much as possible about my own disease and show the world that I could compete well in academics and later on in the work place. I did not focus on my health for a few years and due partly to my lack of care for my own body, it broke down and forced me to switch focus again.

After having to solve for several complications to diabetes, such as kidney failure, vision loss and general dysfunction, I started the third phase of my life, which now took into account my body and mind, but I still had not included my heart. When you are fighting for your life, it is hard to think about what you can do for others, but survival instincts take over and the individual becomes selfish. I see this a lot in people who have chronic disease, they tend to feel sorry for themselves during periods of time and it will take some soul-searching until they realize that helping others, ie doing good makes you feel and even look better!

When I realized all this, more than 20 years after my diagnosis I felt a new kind of energy and motivation that reached beyond making money or getting ahead. I wanted to make a difference but to do that, I needed to take very good care of my mind and body.

For me, my motivation changed from being a competitive athlete, star student and young professional trying to make it, into an adult with some disabilities but with a clear compass for what I wanted to accomplish and how I wanted to be seen.

I think motivation is the driver for behavior and any program to affect health, esthetics or performance need to include strong motivational triggers, otherwise technology, diets, gyms do not work.

My simple advice to anyone who wants to keep a healthy diet is to eat a balanced diet, with proteins, fats and carbohydrates, but to reduce the portion sizes and the amounts of simple carbs, saturated fats and red meat as soon as you want to reduce weight. Another important trick is to have many smaller meals, rather than a few heavy ones, to never have a large meal late in the evening and to replace alcohol with water as much as possible. You want to keep your metabolism high and working, which you do not do if you starve yourself and skip meals. Coffee is a great metabolism booster, although there are side effects to consider if you are hypertensive or if you have GI issues.

Regarding exercise, my simple advice again is to be regular and to incorporate physical activity daily, almost as a part of your routine. It could be a walk in the morning, after lunch and dinner, taking the stairs and to walk the distance from the last bus stop before reaching your home. If I do not have time to get to the gym or go for a run in the Park, I pay extra attention to my body during the day and do small things such as lifting my legs while sitting, tightening my muscles in meetings or volunteering to do errands (will make you popular in the office). Getting your heart pumping is critical and using your muscles will build tone and make you look better.

At Lyfebulb we also believe in broadening your horizons beyond work and exercise. This means that we encourage individuals to participate in activities that are not directly related to your work, for example music, art, antiques, theater, movies. This is different than just enjoying some time off, which falls under the category of relaxing and we add the word “frivolously” to make sure there is no required learning in the relaxation.

Personally, broadening of my horizons is the most difficult pillar to incorporate in my life and that has to do with my competitive spirit. If I am not very good at something, I rarely participate actively, just passively, as a form of relaxation. For example, I love watching movies, but I do not push myself to watch so-called intellectual movies or classics unless they are enjoyable. I do not listen to music to learn about a composer/artist or genre, only to feel happy or work out. I love fashion, but only if the clothes appeal to me personally and if I would consider buying them. I am not interested in their history, the designer or how they were originated or made. I have a strong sense and clear views on esthetics – but only for my own pleasure.

Lastly, doing good – something we feel we should all be doing daily and always keep the concept in mind. It actually should not even be a thought, but it should be inherent to your character –  we believe that people who are good, normally do well!

So now let us get back to motivation. What drove me to become a top tennis player in my country as a teenager? Not doing good, not to be healthy and not to be rich, but I was driven by the motivation of winning, becoming a champion and the satisfying feeling that I was truly excellent at something. A similar feeling drove me to do well in school, but the direction my studies took me also included the motivation to learn more about my personal disease and to be part of the race toward a cure. I wanted to graduate with two degrees from a top university in record time, and so I did. But when I had reached that goal, my motivation to pursue medicine was lower than my motivation to become successful financially and to again prove to the world that I could do something very hard, ie move careers and become a successful young woman in finance despite my scientific background. Although it appealed to me to make money, financial success was never the driver, while “winning” still was. I set up goals for myself, in getting great jobs, performing well in meetings and being recognized for my intelligence. When I got very sick due to genetic predisposition to microvascular complications and mismanagement of diabetes, I was motivated by a different driver – health.

I needed to get back in shape metabolically to continue the life I was living, and although I made big changes, this fight required double transplants and lots of medical care to get to the point where I am now.

 

What motivates me now – health and doing good are at the forefront, success at work and personally are secondary. I want to be happy and I want to make others happy. I love seeing the work we do at Lyfebulb make a true difference for people and that I can use my experiences to help others – companies, individuals, foundations and hospitals. I guess I still like to be recognized and my inherent insecurities push me to work very hard and to continue my quest, but I never forget to keep space open for my health which clearly is backed by how I eat, exercise, relax and how I expand my horizons!

My advice to others is to recognize your personal motivation – it may differ from mine. If you focus on your looks, health, family, net worth really does not matter. All that matters is that you use your trigger at the moments when you need to make decisions and that you keep in mind the 6 Lyfebulb pillars of our Philosophy.

For example –

1: if your motivation is your family, keep them at the forefront of your mind when you are faced with stress. When you are close to eating the wrong meals, skipping your daily exercise or when you are close to making an unethical decision – think about your family and how they will suffer if you are no longer strong and happy.

2: if your trigger is your financial situation, think about the long term and how your health is critical to your pocketbook and that making short term profits while disregarding your waistline and your morals will not enable you to enjoy the money for a very long time

3: if your driver is your appearance, consider the food you are eating or avoiding to eat and the exercise you are dropping or overdoing. It is equally bad for your appearance long term to be too skinny as it is to be too fat. Health is reflected by your appearance, so if you drop your driver, your health will be suffering a great deal.

We will be featuring a number of ideas to stay on the plan – simple, enjoyable and motivational posts will be launched on our various social media outlets. Stay tuned and do not hesitate to reach out to tell your story and to ask us more about ours!

Alone Time

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Alone time.

One of my favorite questions to ask my clients as a survivorship coach is: “What will it take for you to care for yourself in the way that you care for others?”

What comes up for you when you hear that question? I see a common theme among survivors, including myself in the past, of not exercising self-love and self-care and always seeing the need to care for others first. There are times when we don’t even know what serving ourselves really looks like until we dig deep to find the answers. Yes, for me a blowout and getting a mani-pedi makes me feel better, but that is external. What makes us feel good on the inside?

Life is a continual journey for all of us. Over the last few years I have realized for myself that if I don’t do something for myself on a daily basis that feeds my soul and frees me up internally, I get angry or resentful later in the day. It took me a long time to realize that all of the excuses and stories I was creating in my head for not having some alone time were detrimental to my health. Some of my excuses were: “I have to clean the house before I go out for my walk.” Or “I just need to get this file completed or that phone call made before I went for my walk.” Little did I know these were excuses I was making based on old patterns and beliefs that went something like – you need to take care of everything else before you take care of yourself.  This is a load of BS!

During the winter months I got off track from taking my walks because it was too cold out, but when spring and summer came I knew something was off.  I needed to take a step back from all of the “doing” that I was involved and just Be with myself and nature. When I started going for my walks ALONE again, I felt so much lighter and I felt like my whole world began to open up again.  It was the physical part that I needed to light me up again and just being outside and one with the Universe and throwing all of my heaviness out to the Universe was what finally opened me up again. I began to feel clearer and lighter again. I just have to stay committed and not revert to my old patterns. We all need reminders.

What can you do today to recharge your inner being to get back to who you are at your core?

I look forward to your comments. Xo Gina

 

Gina Costa CPC, ELI-MP

Certified Professional Coach

917-882-2402

New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC

http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ginacostacoach

Yoga is the Magic Word

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I woke up at 4 am this morning to a Blood glucose reading of 4.9. Not really a big low for someone living with diabetes, but low for me, especially because I know my body. I know that if I go back to sleep I’ll be too low. I’ve been on long-acting Insulin for over a year now and I still feel like I’m on a learning curve, discovering what food trigger highs, how much insulin triggers lows and using diet and exercise to keep me stable.

It all takes discipline. Something that comes quite naturally to me. When people ask me where I find the motivation to stay so focused the answer is simple, Yoga.  My Yoga practice keeps me sane. I owe my passion for yoga to my teachers. As a young adult, I lived in a small town in Australia and took up yoga with two yoginis who had studied with Patthabi Jois in India. The practice they shared was like a dance. It transformed my body and shaped my mind and taught me that I could achieve anything. I couldn’t get on that mat early enough. It’s all I wanted to do and the only thing that really made me happy. I wanted to be like them and achieve what they did. Their mastery made me want to excel. I was competitive and I still am. But now I compete with myself. It’s like a game. I wonder some times if its dysfunctional to always strive to do better.

I often use the word hate. My partner is always pointing it out. He says no one should hate anything and insists things can be uncomfortable or challenging, but that hate is too strong a word.  Nevertheless, I hate having diabetes. I hate having to check my blood sugar, not being able to enjoy a variety of foods without fear of lows or highs. I hate that with all the new technologies there is no definitive cure and I hate going to sleep at night with the fear that I won’t wake up in the morning. I hate that this disease strikes children and that it’s so random and unpredictable. I hate, hate, hate diabetes!

There I’ve said it.

I truly feel that the expression of anger is a healthy emotion. My anger has helped me to accept my diagnosis.

And anger keeps me disciplined.

The other side of discipline is relaxation, the essence of yoga. With every moment of mastery in a posture, there’s a deep sense of letting go. As one muscle tenses the opposing muscles releases. The postural practice is one of tension and flexion, opening and closing, day and night, feminine and masculine. It soothes and invigorates and constantly seeks harmony. It’s the perfect complement to any challenge.

A yoga practice demands your attention, it pulls you out of the need to identify with all the thoughts, worries and anxieties about your condition. It gives you a mental and emotional break from living day in and day out with diabetes. Wherever you place your attention during the practice that’s where the energy goes.

So what kinds of practices work? Is it the postures? The breath? Being mindful? In my experience, it’s all of the above.  To practice correctly you have to execute the pose, breathe deeply and be completely mindful. It doesn’t matter what pose you do. If you are there, the magic happens. In fact, it’s impossible for you to be absent. Because without you there, present, there would be no yoga.

Yoga these days can be misrepresented. It’s splashed all over the media as something that young vegan, smoothie drinking girls do in bikinis on the beach.  Don’t get me wrong. I think those girls are beautiful, but that’s not yoga. The practice of yoga is for everyone, any size, any age. There is a practice that’s perfect for you. I encourage you to find a teacher you gel with and a practice that feels right.

Inspired to get motivated or want yoga to help lower levels? Choose an active practice like power or vinyasa yoga.

Want to relax, restore and rebuild your adrenals? Try yin or a slower form like hatha.

Ready to develop discipline? Choose a style of yoga that has the same set sequence. The mind loves repetition and routine.

Wanting to come to terms with your diagnosis? Explore nonphysical styles like Bhakti or Karma yoga. Both Bhakti and Karma yoga are styles which ask you to give of yourself in devotion or selfless service. When we step away from what’s in it for us and give. We forget our ourselves in the offering.

Want something practical you can do right here and now to get the ball rolling?

Try this quick breathing and moving vinyasa:

Sit in a comfortable cross legged seat, straddle a bolster, or if you have any knee or lower back issues sit in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor.

Interlace your fingers at the center of your chest

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Inhale and extend your arms out in front

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Keep inhaling and reach your arms towards the sky with the palms facing upwards. It all happens in one continuous movement.

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Exhale, unclasp the fingers and release the arms down by your sides

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Inhale take your arms behind you, clasp the fingers with the palms facing each other and reach your knuckles towards the ground

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Exhale relax your hands on your thighs with the palms facing upwards

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Repeat this sequence five to 10 times.

When you finish the vinyasa sit quietly observing the sensations in your upper body and notice the breath becoming calm and imperceptible

You can do this sequence any time you need more energy, or to get motivated to do a longer practice.

Rachel’s Bio:

Rachel Zinman is an international yoga teacher with over 30 years experience who was first diagnosed with diabetes in 2008 at the age of 42.  It took nearly six years for her to accept and understand her diagnosis of type 1 LADA diabetes because she refused to believe that she couldn’t cure herself with yoga and alternative therapies. Her personal journey from denial to acceptance led her to discover that even though yoga couldn’t cure her condition it could definitely help her to manage the volatility of the disease. Now her mission is to give back and share how yoga helps her to manage her health each and every day. To find out more about Rachel and her new book on Yoga for Diabetes visit  http://yogafordiabetesblog.com/yoga-for-diabetes-book/ and http://www.yogafordiabetesblog.com

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentines Day, and most of us think happy thoughts – about love, friendship, and family.

Last year a few days before this very holiday, I was told that my heart had become so tired that it just gave up for a few moments, long enough to render me unconscious in the middle of the street in Manhattan, and then again on a stretcher in the ER of a NY hospital. My heart had stopped beating long enough to place me on the borderline between alive and dead, and my sensations during this period were those of warmth, light, and peace. For some reason my body was not ready to give up, and I woke up again.

There was no good explanation as to why my heart would just stop, and the more experienced docs at the cardiology ICU, sent me home after three days of observation, with the advice of taking it a little easier, drinking more water, and simply not overdoing it.

I spent Vday 2015 at home with my boyfriend, happy to be with him, but more scared than I had ever been during all my years with diabetes, before my kidney and pancreas transplants and during my bouts with serious infections. It was a new fear, one of immediate death without any control or ways to reverse the sequence of events. I felt utterly helpless.

The heart is the muscle that pumps the blood, nutrition and oxygen around our bodies, supplying all organ essentials. However, the heart also represents our soul, our emotions and the very center of our beings. I am a logical medical scientist, so I know we can survive heart attacks, and even heart transplants, but I knew we cannot survive when our hearts simply stop.

These episodes continued for another 3 months, with six additional fainting events, at the most inconvenient occasions, and finally, the docs implanted a detector close to my heart, called a loop recorder, and miraculously, three days later I was yet again on the floor face down, this time in the office ladies room, in a toilet booth, with a growing bump in my forehead. I had experienced another fainting episode, but this time the docs could clearly diagnose the episode as complete heart arrest, and would not let me leave the hospital before a pacemaker was implanted.

One year later, I have a visible device under my skin under my left clavicle, and wires going into my heart that are triggered when my heart beat slows down too much. I have not passed out since the procedure June 17, 2015, and i am getting comfortable with the lump under my skin although i hate what it does to my appearance when I wear a tank top, bathing suit, or evening dress.

This year for V day, I am confident in my heart’s ability to continue beating, even when I am tired or stressed and I am definitely confident in my ability to love and cherish my close ones and be inspired and motivated by everyone in our Lyfebulb Community.

Thanks especially to Jean and Anna for helping me last year, and to Dr Evelyn Horn and Dr Bruce Lerman at NY Hospital, Weill-Cornell.

Happy VDay!

Karin Hehenberger

CEO & Founder of Lyfebulb

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Check, Check, Check

Every time I have issues with blood sugar than span more than one day, I pretty much know I have to start logging to help me tease out all the variables.

  • Did my fast-acting go bad? No.
  • How about my long-acting? No.
  • Am I eating too much fat and causing IR? Maybe.
  • Am I waiting enough between meals, or am I snacking too much (Totally guilty of snacking too much) [Note to self: stop eating so many almonds without bolusing]
  • Have I gained weight? (Yes – 5 lbs).
  • So my long-acting isn’t holding me steady anymore since I gained 5 lbs? (Bingo!) [Note to self – lose 5 lbs. stat]
  • Am I drinking too much coffee? (Always)
  • Am I stressed? (Most of the time, but I am working on it!)

So. Many. Variables.

It has come to my attention that a lot is expected of us diabetics on a daily basis:

  • Wake up – test your blood sugar. Check.
  • Correct or bolus for DP, or pre-bolus for breakfast. Check.
  • Test again before driving. Check.
  • Get to work. Test. Correct/ bolus for more coffee. Check.
  • Do work. Don’t forget to check! Check.
  • Drink water. Check.
  • Check BG. Check.
  • Lunch-time check. Bolus, wait, eat. Check.
  • Check in a couple of hours, correct if needed. Check.
  • Test before driving home, correct if needed. Check.
  • Check BG, pack snacks. water, take dogs for a walk. Check, check, check.
  • Make dinner. Check.
  • Check BG, bolus, wait, eat. Check.
  • 2 hr. pp reading? Check. Correct for extra fat/protein? Check.
  • Clean kitchen, make lunch for next day. Check.
  • Bedtime BG? Check.
  • Wake up in the middle of the night? Check BG. Check.
  • That was at least 13 checks and adjustments in a “regular” day.
  • Next morning – do it all over again. Every day.

That’s what my days look like – and that’s just a regular day – one that is not hindered by stubborn highs or nasty lows or any additional stresses. The good news is that if my control is good, so is my mood, and the rest of the things in the day tend to be done with ease, maybe even motivated passion – at least the walking of the dogs 😉

http://www.walkthedragon88.blogspot.com/

Change For Good

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One of our core missions here at Lyfebulb is to inspire change, which happens to be a popular topic this time of year.

It’s no secret the new year brings with it the notion of change and self-improvement.  And as far as I’m concerned change is a good thing!  It opens up space for small but powerful lifestyle improvements.  Whether that’s healthier habits, cooking, or even breathing, small changes add up (these are all great goals, by the way!).  As my mentors say: small hinges swing big doors.

I’ve shared my top three tips below, which will help you establish achievable, inspired (and inspiring!) goals.  But first, start with this question: If you could wave a magic wand, and really get what you want in the next (insert time period), what would that look like?

State your goal in the positive

Say what you want, not what you don’t want.  This will help keep your mind focused on the positive, which impacts the small, daily decisions.  It’s much easier to make changes when we work toward something, rather than pulling away from something.  For example: “I’d like to incorporate more whole foods to my diet”, instead of “No processed foods.”  Other ideas might include:

  • Drink more water
  • Spend time with a good book each night
  • Experiment with new veggies in my diet

Goal should be initiated and maintained by self

While it’s important to surround yourself with individuals who inspire and motivate you, it’s equally important we set goals that don’t rely on someone else changing.  In other words: look to others for support and motivation, but don’t make them the cause of change.  Here are some examples:

  • Start a new blog to document my favorite recipes
  • Practice yoga for 20 minutes every other morning
  • Smile at strangers on the street

Size matters

Your goals should be large enough to be worthwhile yet small enough to feel attainable.  I love checking things off my to-do list; it makes me feel productive and validates my efforts.  The same thing goes for our goals.  Be realistic.  Maybe you’d like to join a book club that meets twice a week, but you know that might put a strain on your schedule.  Instead, you join one that meets every other week, knowing you can follow through with your commitment with ease.  Here are some other “sizable” goal ideas:

  • Workout twice a week
  • Get to bed 30 minutes earlier at least three times a week
  • Cook one new homemade meal each week

 I encourage you to jot down a goal or two taking these tips into consideration (did you know? writing your goals down on paper will help hold you accountable) and revisit it regularly to ensure your thoughts and actions stay aligned.

If you’re looking for inspiration we invite you to check out Lyfebulb Connect where you can find support and resources dedicated to improving the quality of life for those living with chronic disease.  Here we use our stories and experiences to encourage and inspire one another in making changes – but it all starts with you.  What changes do you see for yourself?  To borrow the quote from Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

The Holidays

I have been a type one diabetic since the age of nine and I suffer from an eating disorder.

The holidays can be a stressful time for everybody. There are presents to buy and wrap, planning to do, decisions to be made over where to spend your time and with whom. When you add the burden of chronic illness, such as type one diabetes, into the mix it can become even more difficult. It may mean taking each hour or even each minute at a time, being patient – with others around you and with yourself.

The biggest misconception regarding any type of diabetes is that it is straightforward and easy to manage. It is very far from being that. Type one diabetes is an especially relentless and unforgiving condition. It will not give you a break.  Attempting to ignore it and fake ‘normality’ means it just becomes a more intrusive part of your life through the damaging results of self neglect. It is often assumed management just involves a few blood needle pricks and watching what you eat; the huge emotional impact involved in being a diabetic is usually unacknowledged. Yet a pro-active approach is required to keep yourself well everyday: a rigorous itinerary of blood glucose monitoring and insulin administration, carbohydrate counting, checks on eyes and the sensations in your hands and feet.

Blood sugar levels can also be further aggravated by heightened nerves which can be pushed to their peak when mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression already exist. Often families and friends will not truly understand, and can display ignorance without meaning to hurt you, but then be very upsetting, and prompt feelings of guilt. The difference between type one and type two diabetes is also commonly overlooked, with the latter less flexible in terms of dietetic freedom.

“Should you be eating this?” “Surely you aren’t allowed that?” “Well my father had diabetes and he only eats sugar free sweets?” Remember you are the expert of your own disease and nobody has a right to relay unsolicited advice, even if entirely well meaning.

When you also suffer from depression and a tendency to neglect your own needs, the process of self care can be particularly trying. Recovery from anorexia, bulimia, or any kind of eating disturbance can require that you step back from food, especially within a treatment setting as a day or inpatient where professionals are likely to take over. As a type one diabetic the entire approach has to be different as you instead must become even more attentive and aware of what you are putting into your body. Avoiding the contents of food packages in terms of numbers and quantities is not an option if you don’t want to be left with erratic blood sugars – a consequence that can in turn feed directly back into your eating disorder and the pattern of self destruction.

Festivities at this time of year invariably focus on food and indulgence, which can be challenging when dealing with diabetes alone, let alone the double edged sword of diabetes and an eating disorder. Food is absolutely everywhere you turn, with meal suggestions, cooking advice and suggestions of what to buy and what you just can’t live without. You turn on the television and its Nigella or Jamie displaying their versions of the perfect feasts, and every other advert is one that tells you that you must have a particular type of meat, dessert or alcohol. Once January comes around you then have a deluge of nutrition, dieting and exercise advice to face. It is just exhausting.

Yet often it can be your own thoughts that will not leave you alone. “I shouldn’t enjoy food”. “I will get fat”, I will never be able to stop eating”. An eating disorder will rarely permit you let you healthily detach or relax. Just like type-one diabetes it will always keep you on your toes. Social events can also be demanding and it is normal to feel you want to retreat and isolate. Pushing yourself to engage and be present is so important.

Christmas and New Years Eve are supposed to be enjoyable. Not just for your loved ones, but for yourself too. Try to give yourself a break physically, watch your favourite Christmas films, play games, open presents, breathe; even when your head is doing back flips and jumping up and down. Many crisis phone lines are always open and friends can be a life-line. Lean on those who are willing to be there and don’t suffer through thinking you must keep up a pretence to placate others.

Balance is crucial. The aim is to not let the sum of your illnesses dictate and reduce the holidays to memories of disorder and sheer panic, yet also do not pressure yourself to a breaking point, where in particular your eating disorder will figuratively throw its toys out of the pram. Give and take and negotiate with that negative voice as much as you can. Our basic and instinctive thoughts tend to be the most unreliable in these situations. Try to be gentle with yourself; nothing needs to be perfect and that is entirely okay.

Most of all, never give up. Surviving what may have felt like an overwhelming continuation of days is an achievement. It doesn’t matter if you had to claw your way through and use every coping strategy in the book, it is still a victory. Next year may be easier and better. So ring in the New Year with hope, even if just a tiny glimmer stashed in your back pocket.

Jan 2, 2016: My 6 Year Pancreas Transplant Anniversary

Exactly 6 years ago, in the early morning of January 2, 2010, I was on the operating table, in Minneapolis, at the University of Minnesota, Fairview, about to undergo a pancreas transplantation. I was on the finish line of a very long race that had given me a number of curveballs on the way.

I was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 16, and had already undergone a kidney transplant 9 months earlier due to complications of my diabetes, and my eyes had been treated multiple times with aggressive, destructive laser therapy to save my vision.

After 20 years with diabetes, I had forgotten what it was like to live without thinking about sugar levels and insulin dosing since my very being was contingent upon injections several times daily, and glucose measuring even more often.

pancreas

In the late evening on Dec 30, 2009, the attending doctor on the Minnesota transplant watch called me with the message – “there is a match, you better get here soon to receive your new pancreas.” At the time my sister Anna and I were having a holiday cocktail and some appetizers, but we immediately paid the check and dashed home to prepare. I had a bag packed that just sat in my apartment, and I constantly carried the plane schedule to Minneapolis with me. It was an anxious wait that was about to end. I was excited and nervous. This kind of surgery is not done often, a few 100 procedures per year in the US, many of them in Minneapolis, which had made my decision to choose this location easy. I had spoken at length with my surgeon, Dr David Sutherland, who is a world-leader and innovator in the transplant surgery business.

Upon arrival on December 31, I was immediately taken to the transplant ward for preparations and soon moved into pre-op while waiting for the surgeons to get ready.  Dr Sutherland walked into my cubicle in his dinner jacket looking dapper enough to be on his way to a New year’s eve party and said “there will be no surgery tonight – the pancreas does not look good enough.” I was devastated, but completely understood his decision. There is no way one can undergo serious surgery, literally stapling a new piece of intestine and a pancreas onto my small intestine, without knowing that the organ is in good shape. I got dressed and went out to dinner, it was after all, New Year’s Eve 2009.

The following day after deciding to stay around for a while, since I was now on top of the transplant list, we went shopping in Minneapolis, but eventually decided to sit down for lunch and ordered oysters and champagne, trying to embrace the holiday season while being far away from home and suddenly we got a call. This was it – a new pancreas was on its way to Minneapolis, and I was the next person on the list. We finished our lunch, I did not eat any oysters, nor did I have any champagne, since I was now on pre-op fast, and then we slowly walked back to the hotel in the freezing cold. Going to bed before the procedure was hard, I was nervous the second pancreas would not be good enough either, and I started to realize what a huge surgery I was going to go through. My parents were in Spain at the time, celebrating the holidays with my other sister, Lisa, and her family, but they were notified and were already on a flight back to the US.

The pancreas came from a young woman who had died of an asthma attack, and I thank her family each day for their sacrifice. I tend to believe she is in a better place and is watching over me and our pancreas. Early morning, January 2, 2010, we were back in the pre-op room, and this time Dr Sutherland came in to see us in his scrubs and was smiling. “The pancreas looks good!”

I will never forget waking up after the 7 hr long procedure and hearing that it had gone well. The pancreas was already providing me with insulin and within hours the insulin drip would be shut off and I was for the first time in almost 21 years producing my own insulin. However, the pain, nausea and weakness were great due to the very significant surgery involved. This incision was not done by minimal surgery, but I have a vertical scar from my belly bottom to my pelvic bone, and the recovery took much longer than the kidney transplant 9 months earlier.

However, the change was even more dramatic than after the kidney – from the day after surgery, I have not needed one insulin injection and my HbA1c has been around 5, with fasting glucose levels around 70. The pancreas from the young woman completely changed the course of my life. I have become a healthier person both physically and mentally.

It is difficult to explain the joys of being insulin independent beyond the obvious ones, but it is really about the small things. Not having to carry around all my diabetes devices, to simply walk down the street and decide on a whim to sit down for lunch or a cup of tea with a cookie and indulging without having to prepare and thinking how much insulin is required, or going to sleep and not be afraid of waking up in cold sweat and having to address a hypo. Equally important is also the mental and psychological stability that improved for me after the pancreas, since my mood swings, unexplained fatigue and periods of sadness disappeared after correcting my glucose excursions. Most importantly though was my renewed confidence in a future. Today, on the 6th anniversary of my pancreas transplant, I am full of joy and hopes for tomorrow and beyond.

At Lyfebulb we want to bring this sense of well-being, love for life and self-belief to everyone with diabetes. That is why we work so hard in connecting people on and offline, and in working with industry to identify needs that truly make a difference to people with the disease and secondly to bring better products to people living with diabetes NOW.

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