Dec 30, 2014

Blue Heel Society in 2014

I canNOT believe that we are just a day away from 2015!! This past year has flown by. We've been a little quieter this year than in years past but each of us (Diane, Tony, Thomas and myself) have been fighting the good fight right along with you. This year Blue Heel Society turned 4 years old!! We launched our eMag on Flipboard and have tried to keep you up to date on all things diabetes related in news, sports, healthcare, insurance, new gadgets, blog posts and all kinds of interesting topics. You can always flip back through the eMag to see what you've missed!

On a personal level, our Co-Founders, Diane and Tony, celebrated their 1 year wedding anniversary AND are contributors to Suite D by Omnipod, Ask Tony and Diane, video segments. I love watching these segments to get their dual perspectives of being both a T1D and being parents of  T1D kids.

Thomas had a rough go with some skin cancer and managed to kick it's ass and thus celebrated an "all clear" test result. He is slowly getting into the swing of things again as he recovers and re-energizes as he sifts through the mounds of diabetes resources to bring you some awesome content to read. Oh!! And he and his Favorite Diabetic welcomed another grandchild to the Moore family just last month!

As for myself, I took on a more active role at our local diabetes non-profit doing what I love to do, Outreach! I was able to meet Tom Brobson, the Artificial Pancreas clinical participant (you may have seen the JDRF video that shows Tom eating an ice cream sundae and his blood sugars are completely flat lined!) and hold the AP in my hand!! I also traveled to Washington DC this year and met past JDRF CEO, Jeffrey Brewer.

So, what does BHS have in store for you in 2015?! I'm not sure! For me, I'm helping to plan a big Type Once Nation Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio, March if you are in the area come check us out! We have Moira McCarthy Stanford, Derek Rapp, Sean Busby, Sierra Sandison (Miss Idaho) and Mackenzie Bart (Miss Ohio) all coming into town to speak about T1D and I'm SO excited and of course will be blogging all about this!!

We would like to thank each of YOU for following us, reading our stories, liking our posts and thinking of us anytime you come across a pair of blue shoes!! You have always been supportive of all we do and we love you for it!! Let's celebrate 2014 (good or bad) and strap on some blue heels (or shoes) and strut ourselves into 2015!! We've never looked so fabulous!

Oct 15, 2014

I'm not done...

Hey all! I know we've been a little quite lately. That doesn't mean that diabetes has gone away (I wish!) or that we have forgotten about you...our blue-tiful peeps. It just means we've been busy living. We are still out and about in our communities...advocating for diabetes. I thought I had done a good job; advocating that is, at least to close friends and family, until something was said this past weekend.

Nora, my 8th grader, the one who was diagnosed at 4 years old. That means we've had NINE live-a-versaries. NINE. We aren't newbies by any means. I've been as vocal about diabetes from day one...there just weren't blogs or facebook back then. I've been an active member of the diabetes community. I've recruited walkers and riders and raise money for diabetes research.

Just laying some background...

This past weekend was Nora's school basketball team's last home game of the season. We had lots of celebration. Big pictures of the girls hanging on the gym wall with their jersey numbers displayed just beneath. Parents and 8th grade girls were introduced by name; Mom's were given roses. Pictures were taken. It was a bitter sweet moment.

Talk on the bench for the past week has been about one of our players and her injury. We were going up against a team that has been our nemesis for years now. They are good, tall and BIG. A couple of the girls on the team look more like football players than basketball players and I'm serious. They make some of the Dad's look like little people. This team used to intimidate our girls but since a lot of them play select basketball year round they have all come to know and respect each other. So a week ago our girls are playing this team Our girl and their girl go for a loose ball. They both dive for the ball and unfortunately our girl was on the receiving end of a 6 foot 230lb 8th grader. Bones were snapped and our girl left on a stretcher called in by 911 and 5 broken bones. She is out for the rest of the season. It was awful. It was a total accident.

Within a few days of the accident tales were being told that this particular girl was responsible for at least breaking bones of 4 other girls between this season and last season. Again, NOT her fault. But then parents became enraged saying that the boys football team has weight restrictions and maybe that should carry over to ALL sports. I happen to know this girl struggles with self confidence and feels bad about herself. Imagine how she would feel if there was a weight restriction rule. But that's my two sense. On with my the night of our last home game a mom starts talking about how much this girl weighs and she thought there should be a weight restriction. The person I'm sitting with turns and looks at me and said that maybe I should talk to her about diabetes. My mouth hung to the floor as I yelled out...that has NOTHING to do with diabetes!!! They went on to say they knew but the damage was already done.

Dammit...isn't this what I do day in and day out?! Especially someone who KNOWS and yet they still said this stupid comment. I've never felt more hurt and defeated. I haven't done my job well enough. I haven't educated the difference between Type 1 and 2 and how sometimes weight and diet have NOTHING to do with Type 2. That skinny, fit people have Type 2. That if you took one look at that 8th grade girls parents you would see how tall and big they BOTH are. That it's genetics. That this 8th grade girl is active year round. I know. I see her playing against my skinny daughter who has Type 1. She isn't sitting around eating bags of chips while watching TV.

There is a lot in this post to be upset at. There is a lot of judgement going around. I've sat on this since Sunday and it's just been stewing inside me. If there is ONE thing you get from reading this it should be this...BIG people DON'T always have Type 2. Think about it....if that were the case EVERY big person would be Type 2 and we all know that isn't true.

Clearly my job is NOT done...I will keep on advocating not only for my daughter but for 8th grade girls that are 6 foot and weigh 230. I will advocate on the stereotypes of BOTH Types. Help me. Help me break down the stereotypes of both types. In fact I challenge you. For the month of November take the opportunity to educate ONE person on Type 2...especially if Type 1 lives in your house. Conversely, if Type 2 lives in your house take the opportunity to educate ONE person on Type 1. Let's break down these walls. Let's get rid of assumptions and stereotypes and .... TYPES.  Let's do this.

8th grade night

Sep 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday - A tidbit of Diabetes History

A little diabetes history to ponder.  There have been no "cure" for a major disease since the late 1950's. 
1552 BC – Written on a 3rd Dynasty Egyptian papyrus, physician Hesy-Ra mentions frequent urination as a symptom. This is the earliest known record of diabetes.
1500 BC — Ancient Hindu writings note that ants are attracted to the urine of people with a mysterious emaciating disease.
500 BC — The first descriptions of sugar in the urine and its occurrence in obese individuals.
250 BC — Apollonius of Memphis is credited with coining the term “diabetes”, meaning to go through, or siphon, for a disease that drains patients of more fluid than they can consume.
1st Century AD – The Greeks describe the disease as “a melting down of the flesh and limbs into urine.”
164 AD – Greek physician, Galen of Pergamum, diagnoses diabetes as a kidney ailment.
Up to 11th Century – Since the urine of people with diabetes is thought to be sweet tasting, diagnosis is often made by “water tasters” who drink the urine of those suspected of having diabetes. Mellitus, the Latin word for honey, is added to the term “diabetes”.
16th Century – Paracelsus identifies diabetes as a serious general disorder.
- See more at:

Aug 26, 2014

Special 'Type 2 Tuesday'

Here's a repost from the WEGO Health's blog challenge from where I speak a little from the heart, as Type 2 snuck into my life in a way that really scares me...


Today we are prompted to write about "What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Tell us a time when you made a mistake and promised never to make that same mistake again."

I should and do know better. How did I let this happen? Sometimes unconditional love is not, it is just pure ignorance when I allowed my fear to get into the way. A hypocrite I am. I swore to myself I would always practice unconditional love, even if it is tough love. Fear should NEVER get in the way.

"Roughly half of women who've had gestational diabetes — the pregnancy kind — go on to develop full-fledged Type 2 diabetes in the months to years after their child's birth. Yet new research shows fewer than one in five of those women returns for a crucial diabetes test within six months of delivery. That's the first of the checkups they're supposed to have every few years to guard against diabetes' return, but no one knows how many do." 

"Women can have either Type 2 diabetes or the insulin-dependent Type 1 variety at the time they become pregnant. That's a separate issue, and those women are urged to have their diabetes tightly controlled to avoid a range of risks to baby and mother" - Source NBC News

My Daughter's first pregnancy came along with a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes. No medication was given. It was thought that there was no diabetes after she delivered. Was she tested...nope, not that I am aware of.

She is now pregnant with our 6th Grandchild., and another diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes AND Type 2 diabetes. How was this diagnosed? There was an A1c (average blood glucose for 90 days) of 10.9%. To put that number into perspective, an A1c of 10.9 equates to an average daily Blood Glucose Level (BGL) of  300. For those whom may be reading this, an average of 300 is WAY to high. 

This was classified by her Doctor as a double diagnosis, of Gestational diabetes AND Type 2 Diabetes, and she was admitted into the Hospital to monitor her  BGL while beginning a regiment of both Fast acting and Long acting insulin's, and find those magic numbers and calculate dosage levels of injections (MDI).

As a self proclaimed Advocate for those affected by diabetes, I should not have allowed this to happen. I have lived the life as a Caregiver for more than twenty years, and an/Advocate for about six years. I failed in a terrible way. I never urged her to get tested after delivery. Truth be told, I was scared to urge her to get tested because I knew the outcome was 50/50 either way. I did not want to scare her into testing because as a Parent, I did not want to imply harm in any way. I screwed up.

All these things are and were WRONG on my part.

GUILTY as charged.

Girly Face...I love you and will guide you best I can throughout this pregnancy, while urging you to remember that those of us in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) often say that "Your diabetes may vary, and it's just a number". You are already showing the signs of being able to control your diabetes destiny in a GREAT way.

Rock on Jennifer...

Aug 25, 2014

Michelle Monday - Managing Diabetes in Turbulent Times

Managing Diabetes in Turbulent Times
by Michelle Chase
I was asked to join the Blue Heel Society E-Magazine as a contributing writer earlier this summer, and fully expected to have several articles written and submitted by now.
Unfortunately my life has been so full of strife right now with the illness of my grandmother and her end of life issues that the very last thing on my mind has been diabetes. Yet I HAVE to pay attention to it or I will become ill myself.
It makes me wonder how does the rest of the diabetes community manage their disease in stressful or difficult personal times?
Diabetes care is always there, like tying my shoes, brushing my teeth, but I find as my attention is drawn and needed elsewhere, I can't find time or energy to evaluate my glucose patterns, my eating habits, or insulin usage.
I'm grateful for my endocrinologist at times like this, actually glad to have a half hour to spend on just me, look at glucose patterns, insulin patterns on my pump, and discuss my nutrition.
When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I had been type 2 diabetic on oral meds only for 5yrs. My diabetic diet went out the window and I became a closet stress eater as I counted all his carbs, made healthy food choices for my family, and my health deteriorated.
It wasn't too many years later that I started insulin therapy.
I noticed today that I was stress eating. After losing 40lbs in the last year, and still losing, I'm recently snacking, forgetting to check my blood sugar, and feeling exhausted. (Wonder why lol!)     
So, as a reminder to myself and a shout out to other people with diabetes for suggestions, this is my first submission to the Blue Heel Society Magazine. A shameful confession. I WILL get back on track starting now. Time to test my blood sugar.
About Michelle: My name is Michelle Chase. I live in Southern New Hampshire and am a type 2 diabetic for 18yrs, mom of a son, Ryan, 26yo with type 1 diabetes for 14yrs. Some days I feel like I breathe diabetes. I am 46yo and married to Shaun, 48yo, who has ridden this roller coaster of life with me for 25yrs. We've been married 20yrs. I have two rare medical conditions aside from the diabetes and have had a near fatal car accident that left me with mobility issues. My son Ryan has had type 1 since 2/15/00 and has had psoriatic arthritis for 12yrs. I hope to be able to shed some light on the life of an insulin dependent type 2 diabetic who cared for a type 1 diabetic. Life is certainly interesting that's for sure!!

Aug 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday - A tidbit of Diabetes History


English physiologist Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer's study of the pancreas leads him to the discovery of a substance that would normally be produced in non-diabetics: insulin. The name comes from the Latin insula, meaning island, referencing the insulin-producing islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.


Elliott Joslin, MD, publishes the first edition of The Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus. A clinician and educator, Joslin is renowned throughout the world as one of the most influential voices in diabetes care.


Frederick Banting, MD, and his then student assistant, Charles Best, MD, extract insulin from dog pancreases. Banting and Best were working in laboratory space at the University of Toronto provided by Professor J.J.R. Macleod. They inject the insulin into dogs whose pancreases have been removed, and the animals’ blood sugar levels go down. James Collip purifies the extract so that it can be used in humans. Banting and Macleod were awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, though the contributions of all four men have been recognized as important in the discovery of insulin.


Eli Lilly and Company begins commercial production of insulin. In the decades that follow, manufacturers develop a variety of slower-acting insulins, the first being protamine insulin introduced by Novo Nordisk in 1936.


At a time when less than half of all babies born to mothers with diabetes survive, Priscilla White, MD, starts the Joslin Pregnancy Clinic. Fifty years later, Dr. White achieves a 90 percent survival rate among babies born to her patients.


The American Diabetes Association is founded to address the increasing incidence of diabetes and the complications that develop from the disease.


Rachmiel Levine, MD, discovers that insulin works like a key, transporting glucose into cells.

Becton Dickinson and Company begins production of a standardized insulin syringe designed and approved by the American Diabetes Association.

Source: The American Diabetes Association

Aug 19, 2014

Guest post from Lizmari: Doctor Spock and the Case of the 'Mild Diabetes'

Doctor Spock and the Case of ‘Mild Diabetes’
About a month ago, I started visiting a new medical facility; a sliding scale facility different than the usual ‘free clinic’ I used to attend. The ‘free clinic’ had a lot of bad aspects to it, such as a long wait for medical care. But it also had one wonderful thing going for it: its volunteers – people who really believed in helping patients and making health care accessible to all. These volunteers were excellent at people skills, reached out to others, and helped many of us be our own care providers – especially those of us struggling with diabetes. I had built a trusted relationship with them where I didn’t have to constantly argue my points, or push my arguments.

Sadly, the free clinic is no longer operating. The sliding scale clinic is the new gig in town, and I no longer have many options in clinicians. I am now at the mercy of a doctor who I will call Doctor Spock. Doctor Spock is not an M.D.; she’s a P.A. Almost as a kind of uncertainty about her role as a professional, she doesn’t seem to care for the patient as an ‘expert’ in their own self care. She wants to have full and unquestionable authority. Of course, I am well aware of people who educate themselves loosely with the internet, and don’t allow medical professionals to be medical professionals – but let’s face it: we, type 2 diabetics, don’t exactly get the most information from our medical providers and often that information is flat out wrong or outdated. On top of that, we’re only presented with the point of view of the American Diabetes Association – and not of other, also well respected, diabetes advisory organizations. We have no choice but to look elsewhere for our learning, so there has to be an open dialogue with our providers.

Doctor Spock is relentless. She doesn’t seem to care much for my decisions: “Why do you test so many times a day – when you could just test once?” “Why do you want to be on such a high dose of Metformin XR, when you could be lower?” “There’s no need to be on Metformin XR… you don’t need that, I won’t give it to you.” Of course, I had the better answers, so I won those arguments, but I absolutely hated that she thought I could control my diabetes with just one strip a day. I simply told her I disagreed with her assessment. “I have to know what my numbers are in order to better control them.” In disbelief over my numbers, she seemed to almost roll her eyes. “Wow, people don’t really have 140 as a top glucose number. That’s a hard thing to do for most people.” Everything was an argument with Doctor Spock.

I sat in her office, annoyed at her stupid questions. She sizes me up, and with a sterile disposition, asks me about my weight: “You are 37 years old, and have a BMI of 48. What do you have to say for yourself?” What do I have to say for myself? How about that I’m a survivor of maternal neglect, of being given soda constantly as an infant, of dealing with endless trauma related to conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome? How about “I have deeply ingrained food/behavioral issues?” How does one easily explain oneself to a stranger? A judgmental stranger? How does one explain 30 some years of struggle – of hurt and psychological disordered eating? How does one say “I don’t need to explain myself to you. I can tell you my story, but I don’t OWE you an explanation.” How does one say “I deserve patient dignity?”

On my chart, she marked me as having ‘mild’ diabetes because 140 mg/dL is my glucose goal, and not 180. It might seem like a silly thing, but later when I got home and read it I could feel the outrage flowing through me. ‘Mild diabetes.’ Sure, it’s better than ‘non-compliant…’ but obviously she doesn’t know the A1C I had at diagnosis – or can’t fathom it. Obviously she doesn’t understand that these numbers aren’t ‘a given.’ I work for these numbers. They don’t magically happen – the diabetes gods don’t bestow them upon me. I work very aggressively at these numbers because I don’t have ‘mild diabetes.’

*Sigh* I must remember to breathe in, and breath out. I must remember that at the end of the day, this woman supposedly wants to help me. It’s going to take some time and work to get adjusted to Doctor Spock. Like many a doctor I’ve encountered, she doesn’t seem to be much in the know about modern type 2 diabetes management. It bothers me how hard some medical professionals make management for us. One strip a day? Seriously? Why not give me a bicycle with just one wheel. Same thing really.

We should have education as to what testing is for, and access to ALL the strips we need. No questions asked. Alas, this is the rub of having type 2 diabetes. A patient with type 2 diabetes is a patient that often gets little respect, little trust in their own self knowledge, little dialogue, little to no tools… and a LOT of blame. I gathered my thoughts as best I could, all emotions aside, and I let her know my view. I ‘explained myself’ to her.  To my surprise, she became a bit more flexible and open minded. I might be able to train her after all. 

Aug 18, 2014

Special post from the Creator of ' The Diabetic Ice Cream Social' Lizmari M. Collazo

The Diabetic Ice Cream Social has been my baby for a few years now. It’s really been everyone’s baby. It’s been a special thing for me to fight misconceptions, and to spread a little bit of change in everyone’s mindsets as to what a person with diabetes can and cannot eat – as well as what moderation looks like. The idea that a person with diabetes gave themselves a disease is repulsive to me, as well as the idea that foods are ‘bad’ or ‘off limits.’ As a person with an eating disorder, as well as diabetes, I feel that moderation (and not deprivation) are key to managing our daily lives with a modicum of enjoyment and success.

So, in 2011, when a local Indiana chef wrote a poorly educated column on type 2 diabetes, he stopped my world. In his misguided crusade against people with type 2 diabetes, he sought to attack the local Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana for holding an ice cream fund raiser in order to help children with type 1 diabetes go to diabetes camp.  There isn’t just something wrong with attacking children with type 1 diabetes trying to enjoy life as any other child – there is also something wrong with someone who tries to shame our food choices, and create food militancy. Food militancy is something we don’t need in our body image obsessed society. Food militancy is one of the triggers for disordered eating, and many of the common eating disorders affecting our current society – including diabulimia.

Food militancy is also creating a lot of shaming of people with type 2 diabetes and this has got to stop. NO ONE gave themselves diabetes – not a type 1 and not a type 2. People with diabetes are people who were predisposed to developing the disease, for one reason or another. No one knows what triggers type 1, and though obesity may trigger type 2, the fact is that millions of obese people will never develop type 2 diabetes. We all struggle making the healthiest choices for ourselves, and we all need to learn moderation… and we all suffer from bad luck. Life just happens. The #1 risk factor for developing illness is living. Being alive. But one thing is for sure: none of us need deprivation and shaming.

This is what we seek to spread with the Diabetic Ice Cream Social. We seek to spread a renewed view of the person with diabetes; a renewed perspective, as well as a healthier attitude toward food. I have had some pushback from a few folks with different perspectives – and that’s fine. I respect their life path for managing their conditions. But at the same time, I have had thousands of partners in this crusade – the crusade for freedom to make the best choices we know we can make in order to manage diabetes, without fear or shame from others.

The Diabetic Ice Cream Social is a celebration of life – and you may choose to celebrate it any way you want. You can have an ice cream scoop in any way you please: make it lactose free, fat free, sugar free, make it sorbet, make it wine. Make it whatever you prefer – but make it a statement that says you love life, and you appreciate living it, even with diabetes. Make it with family, with friends… or toast the full moon. Make it your own.

This year, 2014, I am very busy with many life challenges and responsibilities – so I won’t be able to lead the crusade as I always do. I won’t be too far from the fray, though. I will be right here, having my scoop, and cheering it on.

My friends at the Blue Heel Society have agreed to take on the Social for me… perhaps for a year or so, we’ll see. But they are just as gung-ho about diabetes awareness as I am, so please know this event will keep going. Give them your full support, as I know I will.

This year, while you have your favorite treat… have it will wearing your favorite pair of blues: blue shoes, that is.  

Aug 15, 2014

Meet Michelle Chase

Meet Michelle Chase

BHS: Please tell us your connection with diabetes?

MC: My name is Michelle Chase, I am a 46yo married mom of one, my son Ryan is 26yo, and has had type 1 diabetes since 2/15/00. 14yrs. A date I will never forget. I have had type 2 diabetes for approximately 18 years. Funny how I can't remember the date I was diagnosed but remember every second of the day my son was diagnosed. Must be a " D mom" thing. Or maybe just a "mom" thing! My husband Shaun is 48, and is a real balance to my "crazy D nerves" even after all these years!! He's cool as a cucumber in the worst situations.

BHS: What general geographic location do you reside?
MC: We live in Southwestern New Hampshire in a small historic town.

BHS: What blue shoe (Heel, Sneaker,Riding shoe, etc.) suits you & Why?
MC:  My favorite blue shoe would be my walking sneakers. My warrior sneakers as my sister calls them. The shoes I had to learn to walk again in after a near fatal devastating car accident seven years ago. I've always been a runner, loved to hike, walk, very active in the outdoors until my accident. I'm unable to walk very far without assistance or taking a break, but I swim, and that's the best I can do!! :)

BHS: What does advocacy mean to you?
MC: I have been an advocate for children with all kinds of illnesses since my son was diagnosed with diabetes. I worked with the JDRF delivering bags of hope, I worked with parents of kids and with newly diagnosed adults with type 1 insulin in the doctors office I worked at, teaching injection techniques, sharing tricks and ideas for diabetes issues that cause concern.

I've worked on programs with the lawmakers in our state to provide more support systems for kids with all sorts of chronic illnesses and their parents. I've done grass roots advocacy from driving patients to appointments to going to the state house and meeting with our individual lawmakers and our state senator explaining the needs of kids with chronic illnesses. I have organized two JDRF walks for diabetes, run youth group in our town for kids, and even organized a first aid class for my youth group with a focus on things like asthma and diabetes emergency management. Advocacy to me means helping others find their strength and their voice, and when they are weak, being that voice for a time until they get their strength back.

BHS: Words of wisdom/encouraging statement/general statement about diabetes?
MC: I guess if I had any words of wisdom regarding diabetes it would be to become stronger than the disease itself. Even if you feel defeated, realize that tomorrow is another day, and a lot of good changes can happen in 24 hours!! Staying mentally positive can make positive physical changes in your life.

About Michelle: My name is Michelle Chase. I live in Southern New Hampshire and am a type 2 diabetic for 18yrs, mom of a son, Ryan, 26yo with type 1 diabetes for 14yrs. Some days I feel like I breathe diabetes. I am 46yo and married to Shaun, 48yo, who has ridden this roller coaster of life with me for 25yrs. We've been married 20yrs. I have two rare medical conditions aside from the diabetes and have had a near fatal car accident that left me with mobility issues. My son Ryan has had type 1 since 2/15/00 and has had psoriatic arthritis for 12yrs. I hope to be able to shed some light on the life of an insulin dependent type 2 diabetic who cared for a type 1 diabetic. Life is certainly interesting that's for sure!! 

Aug 14, 2014

'Throwback Thursday' - Diabetes History

Diabetes is one of the first diseases described with an Egyptian manuscript from c. 1500 BCE mentioning “too great emptying of the urine." The first described cases are believed to be of type 1 diabetes. Indian physicians around the same time identified the disease and classified it as madhumeha or honey urine noting that the urine would attract ants. The term "diabetes" or "to pass through" was first used in 250 BCE by the Greek Apollonius Of Memphis.Type 1 and type 2 diabetes were identified as separate conditions for the first time by the Indian physicians Sushruta and Charaka in 400-500 CE with type 1 associated with youth and type 2 with obesity. The term "mellitus" or "from honey" was added by Thomas Willis in the late 1600s to separate the condition from diabetes insipidus which is also associated with frequent urination.

Read more here

Aug 12, 2014

'Type 2 Tuesday' - Just Be A Friend

Just Be a Friend

I am often sorry that I have type 2 diabetes. Not because I feel that I gave myself a disease, or even because of the seriousness of the condition itself, but because of other people. I hate the feeling of living in a glass house for all to scrutinize my choices; for all to judge if I’m being ‘responsible’ with my self-care. I tend to be cautious who I let into my world. Unavoidably, though, many will know – I am, after all, a diabetes advocate. 

But what happens when people find out? Often, type 2 diabetes changes us in the eyes of others. For instance, most of us would never dream of going up to family and friends, and telling them they’re eating poorly (much less think about their moral shortcomings for doing so). But with a diabetes diagnosis, people will give themselves permission to judge, and to openly advise, chastise, or admonish a person.
Take this inbox message I got recently…

“I stumbled upon your blog this morning when I was trying to find a gut wrenching but inspirational read for a high school classmate who just got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Sadly she is not taking it seriously at all and is all to [sic] happy to just take pills. I myself am a Type 1 diabetic and will be "celebrating" my 19 year anniversary December 7th. It's been a long road and took me to [sic] many years to wake up and realize the importance of taking care of myself. I would love to hear more about you and what your life is like now, what products you take and how you deal daily. I look forward to hearing from you!”

Some of you might think: “Wow, what a nice friend!” And maybe she has good intentions… I can also truly appreciate that she has lived for so long with such a challenging condition as is type 1 diabetes. But honestly, I got pretty upset. This woman is policing her friend over her type 2 diabetes and her treatment choices – and deeming them “not taking [her type 2 diabetes] seriously at all.” She is making her feel shame for using a beneficial medication, AND, she wanted me to conspire with her into basically ‘shocking’ her into action with a gut wrenching story. I later came to find out that she works for one of these self described ‘health companies’ that just sell health products and other dietary nonsense trying to bill themselves to people as ‘the thing that changes lives.’ She also only just started ‘really taking care of herself’ last September, by following a drastic diet, and of course, doesn’t deem anyone else’s dietary choices as ‘the right ones.’

She did not like my reply, I can tell you that much. I take it she wanted to sell her friend something.
In not too many words, I explained to her that she needed to respect her friend, giver her room to grow, and not be the diabetes police to her; that at least, she was taking her medications. I gently, but firmly, explained that we all need to make our own choices, and we all need to want to learn and take care of ourselves. That acceptance of such an insidious, yet invisible disease is a tough path for many – especially because, unless we feel horrible, we’ll only know it’s there by doing a blood test... or until we’re riddled with complications.
Type 2 diabetes is a psychologically complex condition. It often arises out of obesity (though most obese never develop it): a psychologically complex condition in itself.

Most of us have dealt with the demons of trying to tame our emotional-behavioral issues, often expressed in overeating. Most of us feel some sense of grief or anger over having “failed,” and ended up in a diagnosis. Little do many realize that overeating triggers the same reward pathways in the brain as abusing cocaine, but to a lesser extent – and it’s a tough road to reprogram ourselves. The last thing we need is someone making us feel more shame over something we’ve long wrestled, and behaviors long ago ingrained in our minds.

Simply put, obesity and diabetes are not just matters of calories in and calories out – they are diseases which should be treated with as much a psychological approach, as well as a behavioral intervention approach. Type 2 cannot be healed with special powders, gimmicks, special prayers, or spices. It cannot be healed with a low carb diet, a vegan diet, a raw diet, a bird seed milk diet, a gastric bypass. The disease itself CANNOT be healed, and it cannot be reversed. Well controlled, but never gone. We just have to emotionally make peace with ourselves, accept the road ahead, DO the things we need to do, and expect no shortcuts. No one’s going to come and rescue us, and that’s a tough lesson to learn, and we need to fall and skin our knees to learn it, sometimes. What we don’t need is people thinking they can parent us, and shame us into action.

In fewer words: I told her that she just needs to be a friend. 

Lizmari M. Collazo is a person living with type 2 diabetes. She was diagnosed in 2009, after a couple of years of escalating symptoms, and the loss of her professional job in Human Resources. WIN_20131210_200439 - Copy
Sobered by the reality of her diagnosis, and her late father’s battle with the disease, she immediately took to the internet to learn as much as she could about the condition. Today, she is a much healthier person, and dedicates her time to help advocate and educate about this disease. She is a Stanford University’s Medicine X ePatient Scholar (a community of patients, along with medicine professionals and innovators, who convene every year to discuss the future of healthcare and technology), and she administrates a Facebook group called “Living with Diabetes.” You can read her various musings at her personal blog, The Angry Type 2 Diabetic.

Aug 11, 2014

'Misconception Monday' - Dispelling the Myths of Insulin Therapy

We all hear about the misconceptions surrounding Diabetes, and is one of my bigger pet peeves. Here's some we don't always hear that much about related to Insulin Therapy. . 
Myth 1: “It’s my fault I am being put on insulin because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.”
People with diabetes often view the switch to insulin therapy as sign of personal failure in managing their diabetes. Insulin may be perceived as a punishment for failing to exercise, eat properly, or take their medicines. However, due to the progressive nature of Type 2 diabetes, people should expect to eventually require insulin therapy — this is due to the diabetes running its natural course, not to failure on their part.
It is inevitable that the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas will deteriorate over time, resulting in insulin deficiency. In other words, the pancreas cannot keep up with the body’s need for insulin no matter what you’ve done to manage your diabetes. Accordingly, insulin treatment is a normal and effective way of replacing the body’s insulin. Think of it as a form of “hormone replacement therapy.” The goal of all diabetes treatment is to find the right combination of treatments to provide the best blood glucose control while minimizing side effects — insulin is merely one of those options.
Myth 2: “Insulin injections hurt.”
Most people are surprised by how little an insulin injection hurts. With the small, fine needles available today, insulin injections are virtually painless. Insulin is injected into the layer of fat below the skin where there are no pain receptors. In fact, most people tell me that the finger pricks used to measure their blood glucose levels hurt much more than their insulin injections.
Myth 3: “Now that I am on insulin therapy, I will have more episodes of low blood glucose.”
Although some degree of hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose (typically defined as a level below 70 mg/dl) may occur in people using insulin, severe hypoglycemia is rare and has been shown to affect only about 0.5% of people with Type 2 diabetes. You can learn how to prevent, recognize, and treat hypoglycemia, therefore avoiding severe episodes.
Early symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, nervousness, sweating, and confusion. People with diabetes should always carry a source of carbohydrate with them, along with a blood glucose meter to check glucose levels when any of these symptoms occur. Treatment is usually 15 grams of carbohydrate, examples of which include 3 or 4 glucose tablets, 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of fruit juice or regular (non-diet) cola, or 5 or 6 pieces of hard candy. Blood glucose levels should be checked again in 15 minutes and, if levels are still low, the steps above should be repeated until the glucose level is 70 mg/dl or higher. Strong evidence has demonstrated that the benefits of achieving good blood glucose control outweigh minor episodes of hypoglycemia as long as these episodes are not too severe or too frequent.
Myth 4: “If I am placed on insulin therapy, I will gain weight.”
Some people with Type 2 diabetes may gain weight after starting insulin therapy. However, often this weight gain occurs due to improved blood sugar control. Uncontrolled diabetes causes people to lose weight because glucose cannot get to the cells in the body. When insulin is introduced, glucose can be absorbed from the calories eaten, leading to some of the weight that was previously lost being regained.
To minimize weight gain following the initiation of insulin therapy, people with diabetes should make healthful food choices and get regular exercise. The good news is that weight gain tends to level out as insulin therapy continues, and the weight gain may be temporary. Ultimately, the benefits of good blood glucose control will reduce the risk of complications and should take priority over the concerns about weight gain.
Myth 5: “Insulin causes complications like blindness and kidney failure.”
Part of the reason behind the “negative image” of insulin is that physicians have historically used it as a warning to keep their patients motivated and focused on other therapies. It’s no wonder that people who try their best, but inevitably need insulin therapy, often feel guilty.
Physicians commonly delay starting insulin due to their own hesitations about the treatment. Some of these include a fear of causing low blood glucose or a concern that their patients will not adhere to an insulin regimen. The result is that insulin is often added to therapy too late in the course of diabetes. The reality is that people do not develop complications from being started on insulin, but rather, they develop complications from being started on insulin too late. Insulin actually reduces your risk of getting complications. Adding insulin to your treatment can improve your control and result in fewer complications than you would have had otherwise.
Hopefully, these myths about insulin will go away as doctors begin insulin therapy sooner rather than later and people with diabetes become more educated about insulin treatment. So if your physician tells you its time to add insulin to your regimen, just remember, diabetes is a chronic, progressive illness. The longer you’ve had Type 2 diabetes, the more likely you are to need insulin. Insulin can provide improved blood glucose control and slow or prevent the development of complications.


Aug 8, 2014

Meet Sue Rericha

Sue will be providing Articles for time to time for our eMagazine. 
To get to know Sue a little better, we asked her to tell us a little bit about her:

BHS: Please tell us your connection with diabetes?

Sue: My first experience with diabetes would be my grandfather who had Type 2. My mom also has Type 2 diabetes. During all five of my pregnancies (1993-2004) I had gestational diabetes. Knowing that my chances were higher of developing Type 2 due to genetics as well as my own history, my own diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in 2008 wasn't a total surprise. However, being only two weeks before my 38th birthday, I was hoping that genetics would wait a few more decades.

BHS: What general geographic location do you reside?

Sue: I live in a rural midwestern town with my husband and our five children as well as our variety of pets. At this time we have two dogs, a cat, several fish, five lizards, a toad, a chinchilla, and a hedgehog.

BHS: What blue shoe (Heel, Sneaker,Riding shoe, etc.) suits you & Why?

Sue: As a mom of five on the go, I'm not really into heels. My favorite pair of blue shoes would be a comfy pair of slip on sneakers.

BHS: What does advocacy mean to you?

Sue: For me advocacy is about education and dissolving myths. There is so much misinformation out there, especially regarding Type 2. I didn't cause this due to my eating habits and lifestyle. My Type 2 diabetes is the result of genetics, just like my hazel eyes and brown hair.

BHS: Please share with us your Blog/Website/Twitter/Organization?

Sue: My blog just got an update with a new name. Diabetes Ramblings, formerly known as RFamHere's Ramblings can be found at  Facebook: Twitter: @RFamsRamblings  I'm also one of the writers at The Type 2 Experience

BHS: Words of wisdom/encouraging statement/general statement about diabetes?

Sue: My mantra with diabetes is "Moderation not deprivation." Remember that you can do anything and eat anything you want, though you will need to make modifications. Reach out to others. You're not alone!

About Sue: Sue Rericha is married to her high school sweetheart and the mom of five children. She was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in March 2008 after having gestational diabetes five times (1993-2004). She started blogging due to disappointment in finding so few Type 2 blogs. Her blog serves as her way to share her joys and frustrations of raising a large family while also dealing with Type 2. Sue’s blog is Diabetes Ramblings and also writes at the collaborative blog, The Type 2 Experience.

Please welcome Sue and keep an eye out for her contributions

Aug 7, 2014

'Throwback Thursday - A bit of diabetes History'

For our first 'Throwback Thusday - A bit of diabetes History. To get started, we are showcasing some of the information from Wikipedia .

Diabetes is one of the first diseases described with an Egyptian manuscript from c. 1500 BCE mentioning “too great emptying of the urine.” 

The first described cases are believed to be of type 1 diabetes. Indian physicians around the same time identified the disease and classified it as madhumeha or honey urine noting that the urine would attract ants.

The term "diabetes" or "to pass through" was first used in 250 BCE by the Greek Apollonius  Of Memphis.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes were identified as separate conditions for the first time by the Indian physicians Sushruta and Charaka in 400-500 CE with type 1 associated with youth and type 2 with obesity. 

The term "mellitus" or "from honey" was added by Thomas Willis in the late 1600s to separate the condition from diabetes insipidus which is also associated with frequent urination.

Stay tuned for next Thursdays 'Throwback Thursday - A bit of diabetes History'

Aug 5, 2014

'Type 2 Tuesday' - Why Should I Care About Type 2 Diabetes?

Lizmari M. Collazo 

Why Should I Care About Type 2 Diabetes?
by Lizmari Collazo

We recently introduced you to Lizmari in a recent blog post and we are thrilled to have Liz contribute to our NEW schedule for 'Type 2 Tuesday'. Here is her first contribution.

I live with type 2 diabetes. The hardest part of this condition for me is not in my management; not in my diet, exercise routine, medications, finger pricks or injections. No. The hardest part of having type 2 diabetes for me is in the lack of dignity. Having type 2 diabetes can be enormously frustrating: an emotionally humbling disease, much like that ugly medical robe one has to wear at the doctor’s office while fighting to keep one’s rear end from showing. If one is overweight, it is especially embarrassing. It’s as though folks have one view of you, and as soon as they learn you have type 2 diabetes, they have another – like you just showed them your rear end. One minute you’re a jovial person enjoying yourself at a party (like anyone else), and the next you’re the irresponsible fatty who gave themselves diabetes.
You might say to yourself “Why should I care about what this lady has to say?” It’s very tempting to roll our eyes at type 2 diabetes and think “why should I care?” – “I don’t have type 2 diabetes – I didn’t give myself diabetes, I lead a pretty good and healthy life, why should I care?” “Why should I care about people who are so different than me?” Well, there are a few compelling reasons why we should care…

It will helps us hone our advocacy skills.

We can’t show others how important it is to learn and become aware about or own type of diabetes, and its symptoms, if we ourselves are not interested in other forms of diabetes. If people have even an inch of knowledge about type 2, which you can correct, you can also take advantage of the moment to give them information about your type. But if we glaze our eyes at someone else’s journey, we should be prepared for others to glaze their eyes at ours. In short, if they see we don’t care, they won’t care. It doesn’t affect them. Advocacy and getting others to care is HARD -- share that caring for others’ illnesses matters, leading by example.

It will help us psychologically better manage diabetes burnout.
No human being is above reproach. No human being is perfect. When we judge someone for their lifestyle choices, we are in many ways, judging ourselves and demanding a certain standard of perfection from ourselves. This is not healthy, and it can lead to enormous frustration when we fail.  What we miss is that, often, many of the same mechanisms that are at play within a person who struggles to make lifestyle changes, are at the core of a person who has burned out from their diabetes management routine. Many persons with type 2 diabetes already had a great history of having attempted various lifestyle changes before diagnosis, without additionally having an ‘invisible gun’ pointed at their heads in the form of a chronic illness and its potential complications. In addition, while obesity may not be the trigger of other forms of diabetes, it is still prevalent among all forms of diabetes. Let’s face it, we should ALL make better life choices – but the reality is that weight management can be a struggle for anyone, regardless. Having empathy for those who struggle making personal changes will help us better understand and appreciate when our loved ones are stuck with diabetes burnout, as well as weight gain. It can also help give ourselves some grace and forgiveness when we stumble making the best of choices.

It helps increase kindness and empathy in society.
The question of “why does this matter to me?” will always be playing in people’s minds. Some will come with their own stigmas and biases, no matter what. But when we take the time to learn about those struggling with type 2 diabetes, we are able to see them as human beings – with kindness and with dignity. And when we communicate kindness and dignity, we help lighten the load of stigma for ALL persons with diabetes as a whole. When we show care and concern for other people with diabetes, those who don’t have it will also learn our empathy and the language which we use to honor each other– which may eventually, like a merry -go-round, come back to us in kindness and understanding for our own journeys.
May your journey with diabetes be filled with understanding, grace, kindness and dignity. Always.