The Angry Type 2 Diabetic: January 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Burnt Out on Judgment: The Not So Simple Motions of Diabetic Living...

This might seem silly... I know. I know I don't have to try hard, or go far, to ask my readers to imagine for a moment being a person with diabetes. (Naw... You don't say!) ☺

But still...! Imagine, for a moment that you're a person living with diabetes, and have lived with it for many, many years... Imagine it's been challenging. You've gone through many phases of burn out, and phases of challenge. It's been a deep struggle, for various reasons:

  1. Managing this crap every day is a roller coaster, and well, it seldom likes to actually do what we expect it to do. Einstein once said that "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" was the definition of insanity. I like to call it... Diabetes.
  2. You have some white coat person always reminding you if you don't take care of yourself, you're going to die. And NOT in uncertain terms, either. 
    1. You'll get retinopathy... 
    2. You'll get nephropathy... 
    3. You'll get neuropathy... 
    4. All the opathies... 
    5. You'll get your limbs amputated... 
    6. You'll lose bladder function... 
    7. You'll be impotent... 
    8. You'll have congestive heart failure, or a stroke...
    9. You'll go into DKA, or insulin shock...  
    10. You'll DIE. 
  3. You may not necessarily have many close friendships, in your immediate circle of acquaintances, that can actually understand you. 
  4. You have some family members constantly reminding you of the things the white coat person was reminding you... 
  5. You have friends, coworkers, and other relatives, wanting you to FORGET about what the white coats, and the other family members, keep reminding you, and then just go live life with them... "just live a little." (And it's always 'living' that's centered around food, or alcohol.)  
  6. You have your own deep desires to want to just be NORMAL, or as close to normal as you can be... and "just live a little."
  7. You've carried the heavy load of discipline, and care, however individualized your load might be, for a long, long time. You are very AWARE of how serious it is if you don't carry the load. 
  8. You get tired...  You burn out. You drop the load.
Now... most of us understand this circle. We understand that it gets OLD carrying the load, and we get burnout. We stop... we go through the motions. Often, we even get eating disorders, etc. 

So we crusade long and hard for our folks, because, we don't want people to think we gave ourselves complications, when they happen. No one consciously says "I'm going to chug donuts! I want retinopathy!" -- Burnout IS a part of chronic illness. It is NOT a character flaw. It is not simply "people not doing their part," or not taking responsibility. It is simply... people being TIRED from taking on so much responsibility. 

By contrast, we may have well been doing 'our part,' and were just genetically predisposed to complications... But the world outside of us does not understand "genetically predisposed." The media doesn't tell ANYONE about "genetically predisposed" -- only about 'you can prevent and avoid complications, if you just take care of yourself.' Why? Because the media is not interested in shades of gray -- the media has a job, and that job is to gain viewership, and ratings. The only way you get viewership, readership, and ratings... is by generating controversy... And the only way you get controversy is by getting folks to think in the inflexible lanes of black and white. And when you scare people about the rising cost of diabetes (uncontrolled diabetes, mind you), and then show them articles about "My aunt Bonnie, who didn't take care of her diabetes, and was irresponsible, etc, etc..." people get MAD. Angry. Unsupportive. Unsympathetic. 

Does that make sense? I'm sure it does. 

Now, imagine a non-diabetic person... living their life as usual. They want to be normal, and keep living, just like anyone else... and as usual. They have the same family members, coworkers, and friends pressuring them to "just live a little." 

They go to their doctor, and hear:  
  • "Meh, you could lose a couple of pounds, but you're fine."
  • "You maaaaaay, or maaaaaaay not get diabetes down the long road... It's just not easy to say. But don't worry about it. You'll be fine. Just walk it off." 
  • "Meh, you're blood sugar is a little high, but you're fine! There's no way you have any issues... Just walk it off..."
  • "Nah, I don't think we need to test anything, you're fine... Just walk it off..." 
Now... If it is hard for us to get our minds wrapped around the realities and burdens of illness, when we HAVE illness... Imagine how hard it is for an illness-free person to get their minds wrapped around the POTENTIALS of illness, and some "boogieman" of illness, out there, somewhere, over the hill... that may come, or not come... but they can't really say for sure... It's just some hazy smoke and mirrors thing. Imagine being "genetically predisposed", but only if you trip! "Don't you ever TRIP!" (Of course, they don't ever mention the trip can also be almost anything, besides weight and diet...) 

Sure, hindsight is 20/20. I'd love to go back in a time machine, and slap the crap out of Liz, and tell her "hey, start carrying the load a little sooner!" (Not that it'd be of much help, with all my other health conditions, medications, and predispositions... They are, together, a much stronger trigger than lifestyle...) Some might say I was damned if I didn't, and damned if I did... But I'm not quite sure what I'd be avoiding, frankly... 

"Live sternly, as a diabetic, so that you don't become a diabetic." 

Seems a bit off putting... It might be hard to convince Liz. Especially if no one's serious about the boogieman... It's never around, and just some foggy illusion thing... And EVERYONE says you can get rid of it, if you do get it... (snark, snark) I mean, yeah, we should ALL do our best to be healthy, and everything... but Liz might want to enjoy a burden free life for a little longer -- at least, as long as she can. I mean, isn't that what we long for when we're burnt out? A bit of freedom? Choices? Splurging without going into some diabetic hell episode? Having a little more than a 1/2 cup of moderation?

Yeah, I thought so... What burnt out people want is not that different than what illness free people want. A little freedom, a little empathy, a little break, a little life.

So we should crusade long and hard for folks, because, people should not think we gave ourselves diseases, when they happen. Chronic illness is NOT easy to manage, but neither is it exactly so easy to avoid... No one consciously says "I'm going to chug donuts! I want diabetes!," and most people aren't binge eating disordered individuals... (And so what if some are... People have demons. People fight them as they can... or struggle, as they tire of their loads... Life is hard.) They are just people living... and illness IS a part of living. Illness doesn't really care if you gave it to yourself, or not. It is NOT a character flaw. It just is... It is simply... people going through the motions of LIVING... 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lessons from the Butter Incident

I love comedies. Satires, in particular. Some of the greatest of life lessons were buried deep within satirical works of literature, theater, and film. We laugh through them, but seldom do we stop to consider the valuable nuggets we've been just given.

In respect to filmography, what are probably two of my most favorite scenes are: Cher's observations to her friend Tai, about Monet paintings, in the movie "Clueless"; and Cameron's enthrallment with the little girl in Georges Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," in the movie "Ferri's Bueller's Day Off."

These two scenes loosely mold a certain view I hold about life: Upon close examination, our lives are one, big, muddy mess; only from a distance, can we truly appreciate the elaborate works of art they have become --  black splotches and all. Just because we can't see the big picture now, does not mean there isn't one.

This week has been no different, for me.

The fact is, the diabetic online community painted a pretty big canvas, this week. Some used dark, somber, depressing hues. Some used vibrant, optimistic shades. In the end, we formed something. A message, quite loud, and clear. Emotions, and watercolors were mixed, and something out there... was soon formed... that when I step back, it's quite the masterpiece.

Diabetics are TIRED... 
  • Of fear mongering, population targeting, and misinformation in the media: Yes, non-communicable health conditions are dangerous, and they need a certain level of awareness; NO, they don't benefit from overly inflated, statistical research, aimed at scaring to death, targeting, humiliating, and laying blame on certain populations. This kind of environment only engenders animosity, a lack of empathy, and persecution, as well as breeding depression in those affected.
  • Of the same, stereotypical, awareness figures: Yes, diabetes can affect an aging, overweight population... But it can affect everyone else, as well! So many of us are NOT old, or overweight. Many of us are young, active, healthy, athletes even. (Yes, even many Type 2s!) Why not showcase people who have worked WONDERS in spite of diabetes? People who can garner our pride, and our motivation? People who are not clueless, but veterans at this game.
  • Of the same, stereotypical, awareness messages: Diabetics don't need to follow a 60% carbohydrate diet, in order to do well. Diabetics can be low carbers, vegans, moderate eaters, athletes who consume even more carbohydrates than this. We come in all shapes, and sizes, and we don't live by a chart... We live by what our glucose meters tell us! The sheer mention of a new diabetes cookbook out there really enrages most diligent diabetics... because we KNOW it's a lot of bunk. There's no such thing as a diabetic diet, and there are so many stupid notions out there to even recap in this little post (like that everything needs to be low fat), that I won't even go there.
  • Of the insincere profiting from our disease: Of cheesy product marketing, cook books, miracle cures, and scam artists. Of medications and treatments that cost an arm and a leg, accessories that cost an arm and a leg, and tools that are kept from folks who need them because only those who are privileged to good health insurance, or a good income, can access. 
  • Of the FDA: Famous for slowing down progress in what many deem as necessary advances, and tools in our community, yet the fast trackers of so many dangerous drugs, at the same time. Oh, why, FDA, must you not advance progress on something like a more accurate blood glucose meter... but you are eager to fast track yet another drug before we are fully ascertained of all it's risks in a certain population? (You know, this didn't use to be like this... I guess back in the 80s we complained the slowness of medication approval killed people... I can see it in certain diseases, etc, but I'm not so sure the dangers outweigh the risks, in diabetes. If Victoza sucks... it's no one's fault but Novo Nordisk's, and the FDA's.)
  • Of the constant social equation behind having Diabetes: 
    • Diabetes needs psycho-social support. It's one of those conditions that just incredibly grips at the heart of where we are the most connected to one another -- the social connections and moments that, though sometimes centered around food, nourish our souls and our relationships.
    • Of just the entire need to JUSTIFY ourselves, and who we are, and what we are to outsiders. The road to self acceptance, and the personal acceptance of others as diabetics (and whatever their stories) is a MARATHON... often with thorny roses, along the way. 
  • Of the lack of progress on these issues, and the lack of change: This same old tired song and dance is being played upon our diabetic lives, over, and over... and over again.  
But at the same time... Diabetics are TIRELESS... 
  • Optimists: We can see the light in any shade of gray; we can see how a bad can work for a good. We can see a blessing in what might otherwise be a terrible curse.
  • Advocates: We will go wherever, whenever. Our words will ring true. We will go out, and educate anyone, write letters, write blogs, create societies, start petitions, groups, online social media, make personal appeals, teach. All under almost any circumstances: flooded homes, lack of sleep, weekend warriors. We will NEVER stop.
  • Friends: An ear, and a shoulder, for those to cry on, to garner knowledge from, experience from, a virtual hug to embrace, a meet-up to get excited about... REGARDLESS of type. We are the secret society we have made for ourselves, that's not so secret, and we're eager (though bitterly so) to welcome you on board. 
  • Hopefuls: People who look into their loved ones eyes, and will NEVER lose their faith, their dreams... their visions... their drive. The reasons to keep trying, to fight for tomorrow, to wake up for TODAY. 
  • Supporters: Because it doesn't matter who, what, when, or how... tries to hurt you, or put you down... we will ALWAYS have your back. Always. Even if you're old, not so perfect, not so fit, not an athlete, in denial... and cook with butter. 
This week... I truly learned the AWE inspiring embrace of the D O C. 

If you are battling diabetes all on your own, I would like to truly urge you to consider, even if only as a fly on the wall, becoming a member of the diabetic online community. No need to blog, no need to be OUT there. But even just reading blogs like this, or attending Diabetes Social Media Advocacy night, on Twitter (Wednesdays, at 8 pm CST/9pm EST), will do SO MUCH for your well being. You NEED psycho-social support. Your social environment may want you to be alone with your disease, but you DON'T HAVE TO BE. You are NOT alone. EVER. You can do this thing. Come walk through life with us. Your shoes might be different, but when they walk beside mine... They make that long road... oh so nice. (We have plenty of extra blue shoes to spare.) 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

She's got Diabetes, now, Y'all!

I love observing people. People are an interesting societal experiment of contrasts, paradoxes, and dichotomies. If you are a lover of the observational art of human interaction and behavior, then there are two places you probably, secretly, enjoy: the mall, and the internet.

I love the mall, because frankly, I'm visually amused. It's like TV, really. (Except, well, I still don't want to see your boxer shorts, or your g-string, so please, pull up your pants.)

The internet... is a little more complex. It's like TV, in many ways, except that you actually get to SEE the end results of people being told how to think and feel (and often, with the added boost of anonymity). And believe me, there are plenty of influential forces on the internet, just like on TV, trying to tell us how to think and feel. 

So... all of this being said, it came as no surprise to me when yesterday, everyone became the judge and jury of Paula Deen, when a rumor broke out that she would soon be announcing that she has Type 2 Diabetes, and would be signing a major endorsement deal with big pharma corporation, Novartis. Tweeterers, and folks commenting on articles, let their disgust be loudly, and well known. Even certain entities in the diabetes online community, which I will leave unnamed, immediately and openly expressed their disgust, with expressions like "Ugh!," and "Really? Ya think?," only to delete those tweets later. My fellow pals at The Blue Heel Society have been working OVERTIME just trying to put out some of the fires. 

Why are people getting so worked up? 

Well, sadly, some of the backlash from this will BE that people will use her as an example and an excuse to ridicule, bully, and belittle others, especially Type 2 Diabetics, and spread misinformation that diabetes is caused by too much consumption of sugar, butter, lard, or fried foods. There's just no getting around that. 

I do think, however, that people just love to hate Paula Deen, for the sake of hating Paula Deen. Let's look at some facts. 

1. Paula Deen is annoying as *&%#.  I can't sit through much of her show without her little terms of endearment, expressions, and actual pitch and tone of her voice, getting on my very last nerve. Frankly, she's a little annoying to look at, too. I can't really put my finger on it... but there's just something about her hair, and what she wears, and how she carries herself... She doesn't have the most razzle/dazzle personality out there. This alone makes perfect fodder for being the SCAPEGOAT to anything we can possibly hate, and what is more vilified in our current decade than apparent unhealthful eating? Am I right? 

I know, I know what you're saying...! I can read your mind. You are an HONEST, unbiased person... and you would NEVER hate someone for just what they look like, or their personality -- it's that horrible lifestyle she's promoting, and you are raising your voice loudly against it.  

Let me ask you this, then... where is your anger for Adam Richman's "Man vs. Food Nation?" I mean, come on... that show makes me PUKE. If anyone glorifies gluttony, it's Adam Richman. But, really, to everyone... He's a star. Everyone loves Adam Richman, and he can do no harm. At least Paula Deen's show was never about "how much can I eat before I bust my guts, attempting it, while I'm on vacation." (Vacation is always the excuse, by the way. Only try killing yourself with food, while on vacation.) 

Where is your anger for Sunny Anderson? Yeah, she has some healthy recipes... But so does Paula Deen! Sunny Anderson is basically, a younger, black Paula Deen, cooking Southern Soul Food. Why is she not the Queen of Evil? She obviously has a few pounds to lose, as well... 

"Oh, but Paula Deen cooks with butter, and lots of sugar, and lard...!" -- Ummm... Remind you much of Julia Child? Where's your hate for her? She's considered the QUEEN of cooking! And she also BRAGGED about  it... and a little more boisterously than Paula Deen.

Oh, wait, I know why... Because she's that annoying woman, with the southern drawl, that reminds you of your redneck aunt who always came and pinched your cheeks, and called you "dumplings." THAT'S WHY. 

2. Paula Deen endorses bad eating. Paula Deen has a very overacted, dramatic show, showcasing the southern cuisine she grew up with, just like anyone else who has a show on holiday foods and eating, is showcasing that. If you think her food is bad, then guess what, YOU'RE the one endorsing it when you watch it. In fact, when you watch almost any of the shows on the Food Network, you're endorsing bad eating, AND telling the network you want to keep watching such shows about bad eating. (Let me tell you, for all his bitching, Anthony Bourdain had NO reservations about eating that really fatty, roasted hog on a rod, the last time he visited Puerto Rico...) You can't really pick and choose which particular brand of CRAP cooking you watch is actually crap. That being said... Not any single cuisine or style of eating is going to make you obese, or make you get any disease. Hey, people say it all the time... They say "back in the 50s, you never saw many obese people..." Well, back in the 50s, people ate butter, lard, sugar covered lard butter... whatever. Understand? Food doesn't make anyone, in itself, unhealthy... It is overeating that potentially does.  Do I expect Paula Deen to be eating this type of food at home, every day, just because she has a show about it? Well, not anymore than anyone who has a show on holiday food. That would get old, and annoying fast, don't you think? And many of the recipes on her site are actually quite light, lean, and decidedly not southern. 

Also... and this might be controversial... but Paula Deen's food, for all it's caloric, sugar, and lard content is probably a LOT healthier than what America currently eats, and buys, on a daily basis. It's at least HOME MADE, and won't sit on a shelf like that burger you ate at McDonald's last night, for 6 months or more, without decomposing!  

3. Paula Deen wants to profit from her Diabetes.  Well, so far, we really don't know if she has Diabetes. She's going to make an announcement on Tuesday, and it's very likely she might admit to it. (Though, for the future, I'd like to caution any one of you against using sources like The Daily Mail, and The National Enquirer as credible sources of news.) As of yesterday, afternoon,  Novartis had told CBS that Paula Deen had not yet signed a deal with them.  

All of this being said, if she did... who cares? Why does it anger anyone if she does? Just what exactly are the inferences here? Are you inferring she's going to just use pills as an excuse to keep eating like crap, and pushing bad food? Or are you inferring needing medication as a Type 2 Diabetic is a shameful thing? Or... perhaps you are inferring that people with Diabetes who take big pharma endorsements are amoral, or have sold out? Is this, somehow, any different than Omnipod, Roche, Sanofi Aventis, etc, sponsoring some of the biggest diabetes bloggers out there, right now, paying for all their supplies, and just flying them all over the place? "Yeah, but we spread awareness..." How do you know she's not going to spread awareness? How do you know all she's going to do is ask people to consider a new drug alternative that's actually working for her? Isn't that what you do, as well? Furthermore, how do you know this is actually not a good, extra tool, people with diabetes could benefit from hearing about? How do you even know she might not turn around, and make a show showcasing how you can still eat with flare, and with passion, WHILE managing diabetes? 

4. Paula Deen knowingly hid her Diabetes, so she could keep hawking her show. How dare she! How can she sleep at night! Look, let's face it. A lot of people are a bunch of judgmental jerks. These days, everyone weighs any kind of life altering event very carefully before announcing it to the public. Even things like getting married, or getting pregnant, are career enders for many women in the spotlight. I know Paula Deen is no BeyoncĂ©, but folks... If you loved something, with a passion, and suddenly someone gave you some drastic, dramatic, life altering news, you would need some time to think back, and re-evaluate your life. You want to regroup yourself, and your thoughts, before speaking to anyone. And have you stopped to think that she was also probably under contract with the Food Network? I'm sure she couldn't have stopped, mid season, and been like "F it! I got Diabetes now, so I can't go on..." Things like the menu, style, and theme of the show, are likely contractual stipulations. Besides... her health is really her own damn business. Not yours... and certainly not mine.  

5. Paula Deen brought this on herself. 
"There's no place for sympathy for type 2 diabetics, because factual scientific evidence has shown that it is brought on by themselves. " -- John Sampso, commenting on an MSNBC story.
And herein lies the rub of the matter. 

We, as a society, have decided Type 2 Diabetics deserve no sympathy. We have decided that Type 2 Diabetics are subhuman. Undeserving of sympathy, of support, of compassion, and worthy of our judgment, scorn, and policing. We have decided that Type 2 Diabetics, are basically, everything we hate about ourselves, or about the world's injustice toward our loved ones. How dare we lack self control, how dare we can't stay on our diet, how dare we don't lose weight, how dare we eat junk food, how dare we cook unhealthy food. How dare we EXIST. 

We can debate ourselves to the moon and back if someone's behavior contributed, or not, to their disease... (And when it comes to Paula, I honestly don't know. She is, after all, 65. Age is a huge contributing factor for Type 2 Diabetes. I don't know how long she's had it, but if she's kept it at bay until now, hell... GOOD FOR YOU, PAULA.) 

But, let me ask you this... If someone really did give themselves any disease (which I think we all know life is a little bit more complicated than that)... Does it really matter? 

Do they stop being worthy of our humanity? Or is it more... a projection of our OWN inhumanity?

Paula, honey... If you are a diabetic, WELCOME, and I am so sorry. With tears for the future journey ahead of you, I welcome you... Team Paula, all the way, baby. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Messy Language of Type 2 Diabetes

"Well, my husband is a board certified endocrinologist, and he told me that whenever a Type 2 patient is 'good,' and gets their numbers 'normalized,' that he removes the Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, and changes it to a 'Metabolic Syndrome' diagnosis, instead, to help them out." -- Misinformed Mrs. Know-It-All.
The woman was very angry at me. How dare I suggest Type 2 Diabetes has no cure. And furthermore, I could go get a gastric bypass surgery, if I wanted. That, for certain, was also a cure. This, of course, was followed by a few "You people will never be like us; you need to stop comparing yourselves to us... You keep trying to act like we are the same, or have it worse than us, or that your disease is just as bad as ours" type of comments. I can't say that I blame her entirely for her misinformed, self righteous attitude. (Okay, I know she was being kind of a bitch. I'm just trying to be nice, here.)

This is the every day bread of Type 2 Diabetes awareness. Raising Type 2 Diabetes awareness is not easy. In fact, it's one of the most painful things I've ever had to do in my life. My husband certainly doesn't understand it, sees a redundant theme in it, and wonders why I don't just get out of it... since it's obvious I can't change the world. I've gone to bed crying, on more than a few nights.

The comment above, is of course, ridiculous. If there is a board certified endocrinologist out there, doing this, he needs to have his license revoked. Simple as that. He is doing NO ONE any favors. He is hurting his patients a lot more than he knows. I understand that insurance companies love judging us -- hey why not, the media has done a great job of misinforming the world, and insurance companies get their news just like the rest of us, and want to use that to safeguard their old, mighty dollar -- but the value of a 'small defense' against an insurance company does NOT outweigh the psychological harm and denial you feed into a person by acting like their diagnosis doesn't exist. Would these people dream of telling someone who had AIDS "If you're good, and your labs come back good, I'll change your diagnosis to HIV positive, instead?" Yeah, I don't think so! (It's not entirely a perfect analogy, but you get the idea...)

But people don't GET the permanence of Type 2 Diabetes. What's worse is that, while we preach day and night that this is an epidemic of epic proportions, our medical establishment does not act like it! (Oh, lots of people are acting like it, don't get me wrong... but it's, mostly, the people who want to scam us, and take advantage of us...) If this is such a serious threat, why isn't the American Medical Association, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, making it a priority to get doctors educated, and prepared, for diagnosing, and empowering patients? Why are they not working hard to give patients the weapons to fight back, and effectively not feel themselves the hopeless victims of this disease? (I know someone out there will claim that they are... but the proof, or lack of proof, is in the pudding, folks.)

  • Patients are out there, going undiagnosed, not because they don't regularly see a doctor (though some, undeniably don't...), but because doctors don't know how to recognize the signs of diabetes, or are UNWILLING to mark down a "diabetes diagnosis" in a patient record, thanks to insurance company scheming. More and more Type 2 Diabetes patients are being diagnosed by other medical professionals, such as gynecologists, urologists, dentists, and eye doctors. Often, a patient even gets misdiagnosed based on ridiculously old knowledge, like assuming that an adult could not be a Type 1 Diabetic, instead, leaving the patient vulnerable to Diabetic Ketoacidosis, and Diabetic Coma.  
  • Most doctors, especially Primary Care Physicians (or Family Doctors), get a MINIMAL amount of diabetes education in medical school, and NO extended diabetes education throughout their careers. Diabetes information, care, and knowledge is growing about as fast as technological advances are... why should doctors remain in the dark, if we, as patients, can't afford to do so? Some doctors are going by on 20, and 30 years of OLD diabetes education! As a consequence, when a diabetic patient gets diagnosed, thanks to this lack of knowledge and insurance company scheming, patients get denied access to specialists, denied access to certified diabetes educators, denied access to dietitians, denied access to insulin, etc. Doctors, ROUTINELY, give NO information or direction to a newly diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes patient, leaving them vulnerable to whatever might be out there, on the internet. There is something vastly wrong with an insurance company that denies access to a dietitian, or certified diabetes educator, but is happy to approve gastric bypass surgery. In other scenarios, doctors give patients extreme misinformation, such as "STOP eating ALL fruit because they are high in carbs." Ummm, hello, not all fruit is made the same... We need to learn to MANAGE food, not put the fear of God in people.   
  • The medical establishment is allowing itself to be ruled by the treatment guidelines of the American Diabetes Association -- an Association with clear conflicts of interest, per a recent study done by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and which has been SLOW AS MOLASSES in embracing the future of diabetes tight control, and management. What's worse, they have GREATLY contributed to diagnoses getting delayed and delayed. This is WRONG and unacceptable. Doctors and Endocrinologists need to be educating the ADA, and not the other way around! 
  • Instead, more and more "doctors" and "medical professionals" are taking advantage of the serious need for diabetes patient education, as a door to write books, push supplements, spread their own pseudoscience, and MAKE MONEY. 
Don't get me wrong, here. I am not anti-doctor... and I understand that doctors are humans, too, who can make character and judgement mistakes. There are some AMAZING, well educated, empowered doctors out there, working hard to help empower diabetic patients, and help out in the online diabetic communities... But the overall lack of education, and standards, in general, for our medical professionals is wrecking havoc in our lives, as patients, and it's wrecking havoc in our ability to garner empathy, build awareness, and motivate outsiders to help donate their time and money in the hopes of finding a cure. Who donates to something they think already has a cure? 

Dear doctors, you have MUDDLED the language of Diabetes, and made it a messy affair. Every time you get on TV, write a self serving book, misinform a patient in your office, you MAKE IT HARD for us to live, control, master, and grow, with this disease. How can we, as patients and advocates, have power behind our voices, if you tell lies to people with an M.D. next to your name? Who is going to believe US over you? 
  • STOP making up statistics to sell books! No, 50% of Americans don't have diabetes... 33.8% of Americans are obese, but only 8.3% of Americans have diabetes, and that number INCLUDES all types of diabetics, including the undiagnosed. Anyone who claims these things NEVER quotes any real studies, double blinded studies, studies published in any legitimate journal of medicine, of any kind. They make up catchy terms to feed on people's biases, and fears for self serving purposes. Stop getting on Dr. Oz to sell LIES. Broccoli is NOT going to cure anyone's Diabetes. (I'm looking at you, Dr. Hyman.)  
  •  STOP telling people gastric bypass will cure their Diabetes. It will most certainly NOT. And what pisses me off the most, is many of you have gotten on TV, and the news, and told everyone that it is, and that it's 100%. Now I can't frigging walk anywhere without some moron asking me why don't I just get bypass, or some other form of that. Well... don't mind if after being called misinformed, and uneducated, by people the likes of Misinformed Mrs. Know-It-All, above... that I get angry when articles like this hit the news, FINALLY admitting the truth... No I am not in crazy denial! It is NOT a frigging cure, or a guarantee of anything! Remission is NOT a cure, it is tight control. And this surgery is a Russian roulette! And, hello, I can improve my OWN care without a surgery, and *I have*, thank you very much. Someone should staple your mouth, instead. :S 
  • STOP throwing terms like "reverse", "remission," and "cure" around, in exchange for tight control. Even a Type 1 Diabetic can achieve tight control, and reverse complications, and that does not mean they are cured. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive illness that requires vigilance, and ongoing monitoring, and with time, those medication free moments will be just a thing of the past, and we will need oral medications, and insulin, to keep healthy, and in tight control... Most full blown Type 2 Diabetics will eventually need insulin, in their lifetime. We may be able to prevent complications, or even slow or 'reverse' the progress of some of them, but there is NO reversing or curing Type 2 Diabetes. Stop bullshitting people. We are big boys, and girls. We can deal with the truth.
  • STOP telling people that losing weight will make their diabetes go away! Stop telling patients that they are cured, while they are in your office! These are harmful lies, for all the reasons I mentioned above. Weight loss does NOT remove Type 2 Diabetes. It only helps MANAGE it. Type 2 Diabetes has NO CURE. 
  • STOP telling people they can prevent Type 2 Diabetes. NO ONE can prevent anything. This creates feelings of insecurity, self blame, and inadequacy when a person gets diagnosed with diabetes despite having done everything in their power to change their odds. Why not simply talk to people about REDUCING THE RISK of getting Type 2 Diabetes? Isn't that, instead, a little more realistic? Diabetes is NOT a zero-sum game. Everything has risks. Nothing is black and white. 
  • STOP equating diabetes with obesity. I GET IT. I am not a moron. I know that there is a very STRONG link with diabetes and obesity. It is a risk factor. Obesity, however, does not mean diabetes.  There is NO SUCH disease as "Diabesity." Obesity is it's own disease with its own complications, and Type 2 Diabetes is an autoimmune and metabolic disease. There is no known cause for Type 2 Diabetes. Why not all obese people develop an autoimmune response that leads them to Type 2 Diabetes? No one knows. And why are not all Type 2 Diabetics overweight? (Sure, some are misdiagnosed, but many are not...) The fact is, no one knows. There is also a very strong link between diabetes and pollution and pesticides, BPAs, drugs (such as statins, beta blockers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, steroids, etc.), other illnesses (like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), surgeries, drinking, smoking, etc. Why can't we discuss ALL of those risks? Why can't we be realistic about Type 2 Diabetes? Why can't we speak to people with the entire truth? There has been a 400% increase in antidepressant use by Americans.  Don't you think THAT has had more than a little hand in raising the Type 2 Diabetes incidence? 
And another thing... if it's so easy for you to tell a patient with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome that it would be helpful in controlling their disease to "eat a balanced diet low in carbohydrates," WHY IS THIS SO FRIGGING HARD TO TELL TO A DIABETIC PATIENT, AS WELL????? (Oh, that's right... it's because pills to treat PCOS don't cost an ARM AND A LEG, and don't make you any kickbacks.) It's not that that is all that is required for better health, but come on, throws us a bone! People are out there avoiding sugar, and all fat, thinking this is what made them diabetic, and thinking what we eat in itself gives us diabetes! It is NOT. 

Doctors, this may not be entirely your mess... But you sure have lathered yourselves with GUSTO with the manure of laziness, and greed. I hold you PERSONALLY accountable for the state of our nation's health when 2050 rolls around. Get some guts, and fight on our behalf.  




Friday, January 6, 2012

Awareness, Acceptance, and Perseverance

I really hate year end resolutions. Call me a little full of myself, perhaps, or a little 'pessimistic' if you want, but I find it beyond silly how people don't realize they're being played like puppets, every January. I mean, really? Come on... How can you not tell?? You can't seriously believe you can get on a cereal diet, a milk shake diet, a soup diet, a sprinkle crap on your food diet, a yogurt diet, smoke water vapor cigarettes, etc, and think that all your weight/health issues, whatever else, will magically just melt away... Or paying $200+ for some incredibly UNREALISTIC exercise regimen with some guy, ripped beyond belief, who probably DOES NOT use this video at home, and spends 20 hours at the gym, every day, GETTING PAID to be there.

What's worse... is that people have changed the 'motto' from "resolutions," to "goals," thinking that by changing the name, and breaking down the resolution into goals, this is somehow going to help. Or... giving it silly acronyms to make it easier to remember, or deal with. People, please! Your life is NOT an acronym. I can't even remember what DSMA stands for, half the frigging time! SMART goals my ass! How about actually being SMART about how putting ourselves on the spotlight has never worked for anyone? Spotlights are for people who pretend: Actors.

Let me see, how can I describe it a little better for you... I remember when I was 7 years old. The weight issues related to my PCOS had been taking quite the foothold in my body, and clothes were really not fitting me so well. I remember visiting shops looking for a First Communion dress, with my mother... and she'd openly, loudly, complain to the store clerks how she was tired of me being so overweight and me not being able to fit into things. Then, of course, the clerks would chime in... sharing some nonsense, or unhelpful comment or another... like "Honey, your mom wants to be able to dress you like a little princess, so you need to stop eating, okay?"

I am sure you have your OWN equivalent of being embarrassingly put on the spotlight.

Well, when you embrace a new year's resolution, goal, or what have you, you are doing THE SAME THING to yourself... It's very similar to you putting yourself on the spotlight, to either your own self perceptions, or the whole world: they'll constantly ask you how your goals are going, if you've stayed on them, if you've cheated, try to get you to cheat, or POLICE your behavior as much as they can because they will all see themselves as IN THEIR RIGHT to come and make sure you are being a GOOD GIRL. What's worse is that you end up feeling like hell, or embarrassed in front of others, when you do stumble, and ruin that "perfect" new year slate.

Let me suggest to you... an alternative: Living life... with a little awareness, acceptance, and perseverance. 

Greaaaaaat, another empty motto, you might think.

Except... It's not a motto.  It's reality. If you stop, and pay attention, life's themes sort of start revealing themselves to you, one at a time. Yes. Life has themes. And those themes require, you guessed it... awareness, acceptance, and perseverance.

If you are binging, ignoring your diabetes, if you are... smoking, not exercising, or whatever else that binds you... Those behaviors are NOT your themes.  The themes are the underlying attitudes, and 'truths' you have allowed yourself to believe ABOUT yourself and life, which are enabling your behaviors.  And you can't fix those on any given 1st of any January, on any given year. It is SILLY to try to spend all kinds of time mopping the basement, if you don't first fix the leaky pipe.

If we are not aware of our themes, we can't fix them. In order to effect positive change, in our lives, we need to have an ongoing awareness, and an ongoing dialogue with ourselves, and an ongoing acceptance. Do NOT abandon yourself. 

We need to come to points, and places, where we accept our emotions, and try to help our inner persons cope with WHY we feel those emotions. I'm not talking about silly little 'goals' here, like "I resolve to put the toilette lid down, every time, from now on..." I am talking about the things that form, and shape, and cement our daily lives... into the WHO we are, right now... and tomorrow. 

If we don't know our themes, we can break that resolution down into 20,000 goals, and we are still destined to FAIL and be right back at square one, next January. I KID YOU NOT.

Listen to me, here, people...

  • Your internal dialogue... is not to be shared with unhelpful people. This conversation is between you, and yourself, and perhaps the 20,000 other people who might read your blog (God help me). 
  • Your internal dialogue has no beginning, and it has no end. It is happening right now, as we speak, yet you may go about your daily life ignoring it.
  • Your internal dialogue is about perseverance... but once you learn a truth, you cannot unlearn it. It's like reading a book. Once you learn a deep truth about yourself, well... there's no turning back. It sort of magically sets you free... (I used to love Burger King. Burger King gives me EXTREME gastric upset, probably the equivalent of ten Metformin pills. After 4 or 5 episodes of this, I can guarantee you I shall NEVER unlearn this. It is NEVER up for debate.) 
  • EVERY day is a new year. Seriously. On any given day, you can say to yourself... "A year from now, I'll wish I would have started today." There is no reason to assign yourself a magical start date to pass/fail yourself like a child needing approval from Mrs. ShameMyself. 
  • A new year is NOT meant for these things! A new year is meant for you to EXAMINE your life: the things you are thankful for, the blessings you have been granted (by life, God, however you see it), and the LESSONS you learned from your trials and challenges, and your mistakes. YES, YOUR MISTAKES. Be thankful for those mistakes.Those lessons are probably the things that will help you with your life themes! Those lessons have already changed, and shaped your life and behavior, for a better 2012, without pre-assigned resolution. If you resolve to do anything, anything at all... Resolve to really EXAMINE your life with some amount of prudent, sober acceptance, every new year's eve. Heck, EVERY DAY. 

Life is not about those boxes people want to put us in. Don't be the idiot debating whether the glass of life is half full, or half empty... when there's obviously more in store, in the fridge. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Should Not Have Eaten SO MANY Carbs

The room is dark... though a few sprays of light come in through the windows; beams from the outdoor lamp posts invading my thoughts. The evening's navy watercolors wash the walls, and windows... and the sounds that would normally lull me to sleep, now keep me awake. The man's heavy breathing, the cat's snoring, the whistling of the wind through the glass panes, the neighbors upstairs finishing up whatever toiletry rituals.

The bed feels lumpy, unusually so, and I toss and turn. I toss on my left side, and I feel the burn shoot through my esophagus, damned acid reflux that never plays nice. I have to, somehow, find a way to straighten my arms, uncurl the wrists, unclutch the comforter. I never liked my thoughts, much, at this hour... Much like the acid reflux, they just never play nice. Irrational foreign invaders, like quixotic windmills, in my mind. I am scared, I admit. I am tired, and I'm scared.

I haven't exactly been taking the greatest care of myself, over the last month or so. Why can't I just find the will, the strength, and just keep going? Be perfect all the time? Why can't I just pick up, and do what mostly no other person (without a chronic illness) really does (but claims they do), and save my life? I see them eating crap all the time -- those skinny goody two shoes... I see them there. Living the chronic free life. Chronic. You'd think I was talking about pot. Save my life. I shouldn't have eaten so many carbs. I think of my dad. I think of kidneys. Gosh, I think I can feel my kidneys. Proteins, flushing, overpowering, disempowering. Would I even be able to know if there was something wrong with my kidneys? No. Not really. Not without insurance... though perhaps, though, through the Free Clinic.

But not my ovaries. No one cares about my ovaries. Ovaries are "luxuries." I think about what state mine must be in. My thoughts race, and travel, and warp, and twist... Planned Parenthood can't do anything about my ovaries... I think about women losing ovaries to cysts. Why the hell me? What the hell was so special about ME, in my family, that I had to be the one born with the woman-changing-into-a-man-disease. THIS IS SHIT. I think about that stupid woman from an old job... that woman who must've weighed about 400 lbs, yet she had no disease. No disease, but the obesity, of course. I don't blame her, one bit... I am jealous, I have to admit... But she'd sit there, and ask me dumb things. She'd ask me "Why is your scalp all shiny under the lights? It's so shiny!," and she'd giggle... Sigh... how the hell do you tell someone "Bitch, I am losing my hair, can't you get some manners, tact, and a sense of self??" I don't want to lose my hair... I don't. I am NOT my hair. Hair. I have waaaaaay too much facial hair. Goddamned PCOS. I am tired of plucking away the hair... I can't handle waxing, can't afford electrolysis, much less laser hair removal... So pluck, pluck, I must... What to do about all this crappy hair??? Every day... I am more and more a shadow of who I used to be... a woman with no hair on her head, and all the hair on her face. I constantly forget to take my medicine. Stupid Hypothyroidism, stupid PCOS. I. should. not. have. eaten. so. many. carbs.

I must toss onto my right side. I wonder if I'm losing my mind; a person without a proper job... ends up losing their mind. My back hurts, my breathing is hard. Anxiety builds, and I think about my current job. One to two days a week... Unloading trucks. I start to cry. I don't want a job, I tell myself. Employers are mean people, they persecute you, people want to run you over for their own fortune. Still, I must get a better job, another job, some kind of job... I wonder if I can have a job just ranting and raving craziness, like I do now... I think not. Those are reserved for people with more glamorous, yet crappier diseases. Diseases where people aren't to blame for their crap. There are crappier diseases? I don't know... I think about the new yogurt place, downtown. All the same yogurt, all a different flavor, all the same stuff. All the same crap.

Stuff. Too much overwhelming stuff. If I fall asleep, for just long enough, I can forget about some of this stuff. I can put depression back inside that box, and busy myself with life... but just for long enough.

I should not. have eaten. SO MANY CARBS.

Carbs, by basalt

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Could Your Doctor Handle 24 Hours with Diabetes?

As diabetes advocates, we spend an awful lot of time writing about our challenges, our frustrations, and the misinformation that is so rampant out there in the media, internet, and medical professions.

It is with great JOY that I write my first post of the year, giving a STANDING OVATION, and a very much heartfelt thanks, to the Mary Greeley Medical Center, in Ames, Iowa, (just a few blocks from where I live) for taking the time to create an innovate way of FIGHTING misconceptions and stereotypes among medical professionals, and giving them an idea of what it's like to live with this crappy ass disease, even if it's just for one day. While some of us may not be on insulin, diabetes still demands many changes, vigilance, and eternal food obsessive thoughts... (What to eat, how many carbs does that have, what's in that dish, I am too high right now to eat, I need to stop right now, and eat... etc, etc.)

It is, for all of us, so very "damned inconvenient," as was put by Dr. Timothy Leeds, an obstetriciathat participated in this exercise.

Basically, June Heiden, a registered nurse and certified diabetic educator, came up with this plan... to assign "Diabetes for a day" to several medical professionals, and to have to go through the inconvenience of stopping their day, and everything they are doing, to treat lows, highs, focus on meals, and count carbs... and everything that goes along with it... well, except the actual feeling of the lows and highs (cus well, they don't actually have diabetes)... To help create a 10 minute educational video for medical staff, and the public.

I am, to say the least, more than a little impressed with this idea. I've always daydreamed of my medical staff knowing what it's like to live this obsessive/compulsive roller coaster for just one day.

While I am sure there is much, much to be done in our community to IMPROVE how we approach persons with Diabetes, of all types... I have to say KUDOS, MGMC. You've done a job WELL DONE.

Please, take a moment... to leave a comment, either on our town's feature story, or write a letter to the MGMC staff THANKING them for this creative enterprise.

As reported by the Ames Tribue: "A day with diabetes: Medical center films education video".

And here it is...  "24 Hours: A Day With Diabetes"