Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Guest Post: Denouncing the Charlatans . . .

Today I'm delighted to share another guest post from Rick Phillips, who was kind enough to write about Spring Rains here last month.  Take it away, Rick!

First, thank you to Karen for giving me another chance to do a guest blog. I was once told any time a lady says you can come visit again you have done alright. As a matter of fact thinking back on my 57 years that only happened once and I married her (though she did turn me down for a first date 3 times before she called and asked me). Ha go figure.

Today I stumbled on another supposed ‘cure’ for diabetes. This one a 28 day cure. These things always make me think of the awful situation my mother faced years ago right after her diagnosis with type 1 diabetes in 1962. In those days mom and dad were alone and struggling with how to go forward. Now mom knew about diabetes, her sister (my aunt) was diagnosed at age 7 and she lived 3 years (she did not die of diabetic complications), but still as a thoughtful person mom felt alone with big decisions to make.

My mother’s (Marjorie Hale Phillips) senior picture before her 1954 HS graduation, she was 17 and Valedictorian of her class when this picture was taken. (Mom skipped 3rd grade)

Of course we now live in a world of social media, something my mom never had, but she would have used if it were available. I think mom would have found virtual supporters and helpers, just as easily as she found supporters in her in regular day to day activities (there were many). The difference being that today, mom would have found both more knowledge and well to be generous more stupidity about diabetes.

Some folks think these miracle diabetic cures are the invention of the internet age. I know better. When my mother was first diagnosed in 1962 she was confronted with a choice. When diagnosed she saw a doctor who gave her a very precise diet, including a multitude of herbs and vitamins. She was told to stop insulin immediately and pick up this diet and in time (perhaps 6 months) her Type 1 diabetes would be ‘cured’. She rejected that idea in favor of insulin.

What I admire so much about my mom was that she always looked forward, never back. Once (15 years later) I asked mom about that diet. She said it was so tempting to stop insulin and do that rigid, unattainable diet. I asked her why she didn’t stop insulin. She said it didn’t make sense; the science just did not support it. Today of course mom would search the internet for this crazy diet, she would find supporters and detractors of that approach and a dozen more. I think she would come to the same conclusion however. I think she would still choose insulin over lunacy.

A site like Karen’s is a beacon for giving good information and we need to celebrate that. But we also need to be just as loud in denouncing the charlatans. Yes I want a special diet to cure my diabetes. I want Okra water to cure it; I want cinnamon to cure it. But the science just does not support it. As for me I will choose insulin and that is the best advice I can give a type 1 diabetic today. Well that is until we get a Cinnabon (eat 2 Cinnabons with extra icing a day) cure. When I get that specific diet cure I may follow along. (no don’t worry, not really)

*** Lawrence ‘rick’ Phillips Ed.D.  is a 40 year type 1 diabetic who blogs about diabetes, life and films at TUDiabetes.org.  You can also find him on twitter @LawrPhil.  He is a notorious misspeller of words, and sometimes he tells humorous stories.  He has been married for 37 years Sheryl and has two sons and three grandchildren which he will tell you about ad nauseam if you let him.  You can contact him at rphil2@yahoo.com. ***

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WTW: Me and Dr. Oz . . .

What's That Wednesday: Did you know I was on The Dr. Oz Show?


Well okay, I wasn’t REALLY on The Dr. Oz Show.  But right behind Dr. Oz?  That’s a picture of me that I tweeted as part of #showmeyourpump.  (Yes, that is my unmade bed in the background.  Had I known I'd be on national T.V. I would've taken a minute to make my stupid bed first . . . . )  It was included in a segment that featured Miss Idaho, Sierra Anne Sandison.  Ah, my 5 seconds of fame.  But seriously, anything that can help spread awareness and education is a great thing, so thanks Sierra!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Crowd Sourcing: Packing Insulin

Pete and I are just back from a fantastic cruise to Bermuda.  Although there was lots of food (and maybe alcohol), there was also a lot of walking and stair climbing and we even worked in one 5K training run.  So my blood sugars were looking great . . . . right up until the last two days.  Then I found myself skyrocketing after everything I ate and taking quite a while to come down.  Once back in range I did manage to stay there, until the next time I ate even the smallest bite of food.

There is a lot that can throw off my blood sugar when I travel.  Lack of sleep due to late nights and a bed that isn’t my own.  More treats and food indulgences than I eat at home.  Stress.  (Yes, even on vacation I manage to stress.  Over possibilities of missing flights, sleeping through breakfast, leaving belongings behind in the hotel . . . . I can always find something to worry about).  But more often than not, I think my problem is my insulin.  I really think my little vials also suffer from travel stress.  I feel like they just lose their zing halfway through any trip.  I use Apidra, and I understand it’s more volatile than other insulin brands but I’m kind of tired of tossing out nearly full vials when I come home from a trip.

So can you help a girl out?   I’m looking for your suggestions on how you pack and store your insulin when you travel.  Because in my experience, the best place to crowd source is the DOC!  Got any tips for me?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Notes to Self . . . .

Note to Self:  Taking a few days off from a CGM sensor in order to insert a fresh one right before a trip is fine.

Note to Self:  On occasion, if blood sugars are in the “pre-run happy place”, it’s okay to leave the meter at home for a quick mile or two.

Note to Self:  A snack before a run is a good thing.

FailNote to Self:  Running with no meter and no sensor is NOT OKAY.  Even if it’s just 2.25 miles, and you had a snack because your pre-run blood sugar was only 86.  Do you hear me?  NOT OKAY.

Note to Self:  When running without a meter or CGM (but don’t ever do that!!) AND feeling low, for goodness sake, LISTEN TO YOUR HUSBAND!  Stop and eat the Level Life Gel he’s trying to give you.  Insisting you will be fine for the last 15 minutes of the run even though you feel like you’re made of Jell-o is NOT OKAY.

Note to Self:  Yes, you finished your run and it all worked out okay, but come on.  You know better.  Stop being so stubborn!  (Although I did agree to eat the gel before finishing the run.  Point in my favor??)

Do you ever make “Notes to Self”?  And do you actually listen??

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Looking Back - Oven Mitts . . .

****  Today I’m revisiting a post from a few years ago, in which I realized just how calloused my poor little finger tips are.  And yes, I still do feel guilty for all those times I called my husband a wimp when he complained things were too hot touch!! ****

During the summer, we do a lot of cooking on the grill.  Okay, by “we” I mean Pete.  I don’t actually step near the grill.  Although I do prep the food so that makes it a “we” effort, right?  I usually wrap our vegetables in foil packets in an attempt to have Pete cook our entire dinner outside on the grill during those sweltering days of summer.  When we try to unwrap them, hot off the grill, Pete always complains about the foil burning his fingers.  I usually call him a wimp and unwrap them with my bare hands.

The other day, we went to Starbucks.  I grabbed a seat to check my blood sugar while Pete ordered our coffees.  As he brought them over, he said they were so hot they were burning him and went off to get us those thermal sleeve thingies.  Call me pig-headed, but I had to see how hot the paper coffee cup really was.  And it wasn’t hot at all.  Wimp!!

Cue the guilt-music.  Now re-read the paragraph above.  Especially the line about checking my blood sugar.  You see, I test between 8 and 12 times every day.  I’ve realized that the scar tissue I’ve developed on my poor over-pricked fingers are my permanent little oven-mitts.  And the perhaps my husband isn't such a wimp after all.  Sorry, Sweetpea!

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Guess what greeted me when I took my fasting blood sugar this morning?

 I get unreasonably excited about that elusive perfect 100.  You do know that when you get a #hundy you also get $1.00, right?  I showed my meter to Pete as he left for work, and he pulled out his wallet and handed over my dollar.  I folded it up and put it in the pocket of my meter case, along with other dollars from other 100s.  I have no idea what I’m saving them for, but they make me happy.

Do you play the 100 = $1.00 game?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What’s That Wednesday - Just Keep Swimming . . .

Back in 2010, Pete and I ran a few 5K races.  I was slow and I took a lot of walking breaks, but I really did enjoy it.  But then we took a four year break.  (I don’t know why, but we did).

This year we’ve been training again, and our first 5K of the season is on Saturday.  I’m not quite ready, but I’m doing better than I did in 2010.  I can run just over 4K without walking.  My plan is to have fun and do the best I can.  We’ve also signed up for another 5K in September and my goal is to run the whole 5K for that one.  And if I do meet my goal I can apply for my Athletes with Diabetes medal!

Oh, and why did I call this post “Just Keep Swimming”?  After watching Finding Nemo a few months ago, I’ve taken to singing this when I feel like I just can’t run anymore, and it works!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Guest Post: Spring Rains . . . .

Every year during Diabetes Blog Week I get to meet a few members of the DOC I hadn’t had an opportunity to interact with - and I love it!!  This year one of the people I got to meet was Rick Phillips and I’m so glad to have made his acquaintance.  When he offered to write a guest post for me I jumped at the chance!  I think you’ll enjoy getting to know Rick just as much as I have.

*** First let me say what a joy it is to be a guest blogger for Karen.  I caution I am not up to her high standards but it is nice to swing the bat in the big leagues of blogging every once in a while.  (No worries, Rick, my blog has low standards and isn’t big league, but if it was you’d be up to the task!!  -- K.G.)   I hope you will indulge my ramblings this one time, even though I know nothing about knitting. ***

I used to love spring rains.

I especially loved the gentle water falling that would soak my yard and that sound so pleasant on the roof.  This was especially true as a boy when I would camp out.   There is something dangerous yet tamed about being inside a canvass tent with the gentle rain falling on the fabric.  It was soothing for my spirit to hear those rain drops.

In 1973 and 1974 I had the privilege of backpacking in New Mexico the first year for 12 days and the second for a full month.  (People who know my history probably find that interesting since I was diagnosed with diabetes about 1 month before I left for a 30 day high adventure in New Mexico)  Today we would never allow a kid to do that but my mom and dad sort of had an evolutionary approach to child rearing.  I know what they were thinking, if he dies we have insurance so it’s ok.  LOL  In the mountains in New Mexico it rained every day and that was a special time for me. 

Yes I loved spring rains until I was placed in charge of a city sewer system.   After that every spring rain brought on a slew of hateful calls. As sewers would flood basements I would receive more and more angry calls. My mother (a wonderful person) could never have done all those things she was being accused of by the callers.  Likewise my father and his mother (my beloved grandmother) could not have done those things he was being accused of.  Certainly I was not guilty of the offenses I was being accused of.  Those offenses ranged from causing rain to making people want to move oh if I had that power just once I knew I could use it to good advantage.

The thing is it took less than about 3 months to cure me of loving spring rains.  By the time I was 29 I had come to dislike spring rains which was different than a poem I had written in in high school celebrating the romance of the soft noise of rain beat on the roof.  Instead around age 29 my love affair with spring rains was over.  One might say I had grown up and put a childish indulgence behind me.

The same in a way happened with my diabetes.  Some 40 years ago I was wide eyed and wanted to learn all I could about diabetes.  I really drank it in after I was diagnosed.  Even with my mom being a type 1 diabetic I still had lots to learn.  I practiced the exchange system learned about the wonders of the clinitest and the fabulous promise of the fasting blood sugar.  I learned it even though I had lived it because it was new.  In a way it was a romance of youth, I wanted to beat this disease and besides I only have five years to hold out.

I suppose that was sort of the problem.  I realized soon after release from my week in the hospital that I could not successfully live the way I was instructed.  I am certain the educators meant for me to pick and choose what I could live with, adapt what I could not live with and over time became a ‘better’ diabetic.  Trouble is I threw all that knowledge away.  I decided if I cannot do it all, I am not going to do any of it.  It was obvious to me almost immediately the clinitest was not a good measure of anything except failure.  The fasting blood sugar was a ridiculous test.  Let’s face it one could easily manipulate the fasting blood sugar.  Finally I decided to bank on the 5 year cure.

Therein I think lays the issue with diabetic education.  We tell new diabetics to change their life immediately.  Certainly change is for the better, we can feel better, live longer, and still be productive if we follow the path of total compliance with this new set of rules.  But following those rules is an onerous burden if one has to follow them all at once.  For that reason I believe a different form of diabetic education needs to be practiced for new diabetics.  One that accounts for behavior as well as the practical changes that are required when we are told we have this disease.  In particular this is true for children and parents of children with diabetes. I see way too many fail not because they do not have the tools to do it, rather because it is next to impossible to make a sudden 180 degree shift in lifestyle.

Dieticians, doctors and CDE’s never seem to give practical advice, like how do you explain to a date you need to test your blood sugar?  Or what is that thing with a tube coming out of you.  Or my favorite question, (probably because it was mine), what should I do when everyone goes for pizza at 10 PM after the football game?  I know we can preach the science but we also have to give strength for the practical and accept the failures as part of growth

When the practical is not addressed, more often than not people (kids are my main concern) throw the baby out with the bath water.  They simply reject the concept of meaningful change and put it off until bad things start to happen.  So I ask how do we allow people to enjoy the spring rain, and be as healthy as they can be at that moment?  There has to be better ways than our current take it or leave it diabetic education system.

*** Lawrence ‘rick’ Phillips Ed.D.  is a 40 year type 1 diabetic who blogs about diabetes, life and films at TUDiabetes.org.  You can also find him on twitter @LawrPhil.  He is a notorious misspeller of words, and sometimes he tells humorous stories.  He has been married for 37 years Sheryl and has two sons and three grandchildren which he will tell you about ad nauseam if you let him.  You can contact him at rphil2@yahoo.com. ***