Thursday, July 30, 2009

Men, Women, and Diabetes

In the world of diabetes management, who has a harder time: men or women? Let's face it, we all have our daily challenges. As I wrote this post, I just finished raising a 55 mg/dl blood glucose reading. Not fun, but not too troubling.

So, who really has it harder? Get ready for a laugh and learn session.

Ask any guy who has had this disease for awhile and they should tell you that women (yes, women) have a harder time managing this disease. Why? Duh!

Let's look at a few of the challenges women with diabetes have to face:
- Hormones, beginning from the "tween" age to well in to the golden years, reek havoc. They cause a beautiful blood sugar level to go from a 100 to a 310 in minutes. Men? Don't our hormones begin to level off at around 40 years of age? Oh, wait a minute... I'm 40!
- In addition to hormone havoc, emotions are tied in to this mess (hormones and irregular bg levels, cause emotions). Men can, and usually are to blame, but we won't discuss that here.
- Stress. Everything from school, peers, family, work (lather, rinse, & repeat), lions, tigers, and bears can cause BG levels to drop or soar. Do men really have this problem?
- And let's talk about family for a moment. For working women (single, married, and or married with children), the challenge to maintain normal BGs are a huge responsibility. If the word, "deadline(s)" causes your sugars to rise, then I'm sorrry. Really, it stinks.
- Oh, and let's not forget mothers who take care of diabetic childen! Face it, we men are sometimes CLUELESS (hello!) of all the work these wonderful women do. Talk about LOTS of responsibility and they make sure our undies get cleaned. Oh my!
- Food and exercise! In addition to all the other things diabetic women experience, they work very hard to take care of their health. Maintaining good BG control is paramount. Men? Yeah, we workout, too, but there's always time for a light beer (or two, or...) and a few pretzels.
- Lastly, the other health issues women face compared to men. I ain't touchin' this one. Nuh, uh. You can't make me. Men just don't belong in this particular point. We would lose miserably. (Some of you guys are gonna shake your heads in disbelief at this one. Okay, why don't you ask any mother what child birth is really like and see if you can pass that test. Hmmm?)

Special note: If you're not laughing, nodding you head in agreement, or smiling in the least by now, YOU need to get with the program. End special note.

Okay, take a deep breath. Yes, we diabetic men have our problems, too. When our BGs are high, we get angry or disappointed. When having a low, we open the fridge and eat everything in sight without much regard for our loved ones. We, too, hate stress and cry shed a tear during a great action movie. Other than that, the list is pretty small compared to women.

Truth be told, we all share much of the pain and joy that comes with this disease. We are all a part of a community that weeps and laughs together, and cares for each other with hopes of living long, fruitful lives.

By the way, are you smiling yet? :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When We Fail

Persons with diabetes are prone to our own, “failures”. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Forgetting your insulin shot/bolus with meal or even before bed
- Forgetting to take a blood test before said meal and shot/bolus
- Forgetting diabetes care supplies when doing whatever you do
- Forgetting some form of quick acting food when exercising
- Forgetting, or postponing, quarterly endocrinologist appointment
- Or just plain forgetting (non-selective, mind you)

We often call any one of these (and more), the big FAIL:
- For
- Again
- I

Diabetes is one, big, never-ending reminder that we are personally responsible for our choices. We cannot just leave our diabetes home, for the day, and expect everything to work out right. We’ve come to expect the unexpected (Why is my insulin taking soooo darn long?) and prepare for trouble (What? I’m low? Now?!? Time for sugar...).

Lastly, it’s how we handle the “fail” that defines us. Those of us who are long time diabetics know to pick ourselves off the floor, dust off, and get right back in the game. Thus the “fail” becomes a reminder, a lesson, that we are not perfect…

But we long to be. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Friends With Diabetes

By a blessing, my job had me travel to Minneapolis, MN, home to the U of Minn--Golden Gophers and...

Scott K. Johnson, fellow type 1 diabetic and blogger extraordinaire. Scott and I managed to break away, from our busy schedules, and have lunch just north of Minneapolis. Many of you probably want to know what Scott is really like, being the well known writer and all, and very good friend to fellow diabetic, George Simmons.


Scott is fun, authentic, kind-hearted, very intelligent, and all-around great guy. BTW, this is the short list. :) Amongst many of you whom I consider family (in the diabetes-world), Scott is a brother-in-arms who knows full well the daily frustrations and joys of being a diabetic. We laughed and bantered about our frustrations surrounding diabetes management. We long for that day of being truly free.

Lastly, we spoke of our love for writing and how much we appreciate the diabetic OC. Although our time was short, I truly believe I've made a friend for life. I look forward to meeting Scott again, hopefully very soon.

Okay, here are ALL the PWDs mentioned in a little less than 2 hours. Ready?
Shauntaye Williams (fellow member & good friend on dLife)
And all you d-Tweeps out there! You guys rock! :D

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Retinopathy Update

As mentioned here, I've been battling proliferative diabetic retinopathy for almost two years. I've experienced the trauma of near blindness and the seemingly countless laser surgeries to stop the bleeding. In January, I almost went totally blind in my left eye. For a brief moment, I thought my life--and all the wonderful things about it--were about to go away. I was fed up. I was tired. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I was drained.

In my 32+ years of living with diabetes, I was at a new low. Mind you, I've done a lot of great things as a pwd (person with diabetes). I married the love of my life. We have two awesome sons. I have a college degree. I am a martial artist of 25 years. I have tandem parachuted. I have repelled 100+ foot cliff sides; the list goes on...

But moderately cared-for diabetes threatened to take that away. I had become lazy. Ultimately, I had two choices: 1. keep doing the same-'ol, same-'ol or 2. get my butt moving. At the low point of my semi-depression (late January), my wife and I spoke of my choices. She knew the decision was entirely mine; consequences and all. After many tears, I chose #2 knowing I would have a fight on my hands.

Fast forward to my most recent retinal checkup. After months of exercise, eating much better, and being more d-proactive, I'm happy to report that my eyes are healing very, very well. So well, that I don't need to see my specialist again until December. I will always have retinopathy, but I feel much better about my overall state of health.

To this day, I've lost 15 lbs. Eat many more vegetables. Met lots of wonderful people experiencing the ups-and-downs of diabetes. And proven to my family that the good choices I make today, carry forward for a better tomorrow.

Never give up!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


My sons and I have recently taken up the sport of Squash. We really enjoy it and, after playing for hours, gives us a great workout. I used to play competitive racquetball--many years ago--so this is a nice alternative.

I suggest giving this lovely game a chance. And by all means, have fun!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Hassles of Diabetes

Sometimes diabetes can be filled with good hassles. For example:

Exercise - Whether I exercise for 30 minutes or 6 hours (like I did Saturday), controlling BG afterward, can be a hassle. I haven't been above 120 since...Thursday? I've suspended my pump 4 times in the last 4 days. How have I been treating the lows? Orange juice and granola bars.

Lows (hypoglycemia) - As mentioned above, when working out and suddenly see the dreaded, "spots", I know to stop, test, and treat. Whenever and wherever I exercise, I make sure I have juice and bars at the ready. I also carry Sport Beans for emergencies.

Insulin - When constantly exercising, insulin usage becomes a guessing game. I don't dare suspend my pump for a long time (longer than 1 hour), so I generally set a temp basal rate. Now add food to the equation and...well you get the picture.

Well, sorry for the short post, but off to exercise land... :D

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Great Friends; Great Places

Even though I just met Tim and Alison, over at Shoot Up or Put Up, I feel as though I've known them for a long time. They are much like close family who you wish you could see every day. Yes, we are also diabetics who enjoy humor while having good discussions on living with this darn disease.

Tim is located in Edinburgh, Scotland, [Note: it's not pronounced, "edinburg"] while Alison is in Liverpool, England.

Diabetes isn't just an "American" disease or a United Kingdom disease. No, there are diabetics all over the world. I've met diabetics as far away as Egypt!

Please visit Tim and Alison's blog and enjoy the goodness.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Lows and Highs

This past Sunday afternoon, I had a rude interuption of the hypoglycemia sort. In my opinion, "lows"--as we diabetics like to call them--are more manageable than "highs" or hyperglycemia. Case in point: my BG was a 43. I immediately suspended my insulin pump (for 30 minutes) and ate a handful of mountain trail mix to get a boost. Twenty minutes later and I'm sitting at a comfortable 130.

Not that the low slowed me down, but, it was recognizing the low that kept me out of trouble. You see, we were starting our way home from a family member's house when the "drunken master" reared it's ugly head. Before getting in to the car, I handed over the keys to my wife, sat in the back seat next to my youngest son, and tested. He announced the results to my wife. Thankfully, we were only 5 minutes from home and I really did not want the Sour Patch wormy thingies my sons wanted me to eat. Give me chocolate or give me death! Nothing else will do. (Okay yes, other things will do, but I prefer chocolate. :) ]

Highs, on the other hand, just simply suck. Imagine taking anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours to combat high blood sugar. No thanks, I'll take a low any day! Sure, both come with their own set of "baggage", e.g. energy drain, headaches, various bodily pains, but I'll take the ability to eat/drink to treat a low than not with a high (hyperglycemia is usually treated with insulin first, then you can do as you please).

All in all, neither prevent me from enjoying life, especially with an active family. Diabetes is an active disease. We can't pause it, stop it, or will it to go away. So, we must stay on it and do our best every day.

"Dad, are you sure you don't want a sour gummy worm? They're a little warm from being in the car..."

"Uh, no, really, I'll be just fine..." Yuck. :D Our boys are truly awesome...