Thankful, You Say?

thanksgiving header

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  A day we gather with family and/or friends for a traditional, or maybe not so traditional, meal and we share with these loved ones the things in our lives that for which we give thanks. Then all the adults quickly depart the table and head out to the pre-Black Friday sales.

So what does all this have to do with diabetes? As I blogged in the last post, November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Floating around your favorite social media site, if you are a PWD, you have probably seen the daily “Happy Diabetes Challenge” many folks are playing along and posting their answers. Perhaps you are one of them. The daily challenge for Day 23 is, you guessed it, “What are you thankful for?”  PWD’s all over the world have posted some pretty heartwarming posts of the things that make them thankful this month of Diabetes Awareness.  Being thankful for things can lift your spirits and change your perspective of your situation.

happydiabeticchallenge2018
Happy Diabetic Challenge 2018 Source unknown

I know that every night, before I go to sleep, I take inventory of my day and my activities.  Like most folks, my days are not always filled with obvious things for which I should be thankful. Case in point, while the sweet potatoes were nestled in their brown sugar bath, caramelizing to a soft and sweet finish, the sweet aroma so familiar to Thanksgiving meals, became acrid. I asked my wife how long they had been in the oven? She replied that they should be ready in a few more minutes.  Then she smelled it too.  We both went to the kitchen. She opened the oven door and in the dish, where we should have been seeing a nice orange potato with a glistening caramel glaze was a surface of black charcoal!  The oven was radiating out the obvious cause of the charcoal.  The broiler was on and the oven door was closed. (For those of you not into kitchen appliances, the oven door must remain open when using the broiler.)  Long story short – due to no fault of my wife’s, the oven’s computer controller board had malfunctioned.  The oven was now non-functioning. (This is not the first time we haven’t had an oven or cook top but that is a story for another blog.) We salvaged the potatoes under the charred top and prepared a new glaze when we arrived to our dinner destination.  So I am sure you are asking yourself, “How can you be thankful for your oven breaking on Thanksgiving?”  Well, I am thankful that it happened while we were home and were able to intervene and prevent the food from catching on fire and causing damage to our house.

But, despite all the positive vibes folks are posting, I have also seen folks posting how much they hate this disease and how it has changed their lives, they didn’t ask for it, it is expensive, etc.  You know the downside.  Most of the posts I encounter are from the “young ‘uns” who have had their diagnosis for less than 5 years.  I would never wish that anyone be diagnosed with diabetes, especially Type 1. It is a devastating and life changing condition. But, if I could change when I was to be diagnosed it wouldn’t have been in 1979!  Believe it or not, NOW is the time to be diagnosed and treated. NOW is the time to have hope that there will be a cure soon.  I think that part of the angst that is displayed by these folks is their generation.  YES, diabetes will change your life but how you respond and use that change is entirely up to you.  One of the things that I did to control this change in course was to focus my nursing on Diabetes and patient education in my professional life.  I knew I could relate to both a newly diagnosed patient as well as the long term PWD. I kept myself educated and informed so I could pass along this knowledge.

You may not be a medical professional or even associated with the healthcare field.  That’s OK. Be loud and proud about your diabetes.  Be thankful that you are alive in 2017.  That you have cutting edge technology in your test kit.  Ifyou are so wired up, you have space age technology feeding you life sustaining medication by the DROP and the other device is constantly monitoring your blood sugar.  In 1979, a newly diagnosed PWD was sent home with a mini chemistry set:

Clinitest Urine Test Kit

10 drops of urine into the tube. Wait for the chemical reaction and the urine will turn a color that you compared on the chart.  The range of results was 0 – 1200mg/dl – sort of. To get the most “accurate” result, ideally, you should urinate to empty your bladder and then in 30 minutes go again to get a “fresh” sample. First, you are measuring urine. Urine is not fresh. It has been in your bladder for a bit. Secondly, it didn’t really tell you what was happening right now and it didn’t really correlate to the numbers. Oh, did I mention that the chemical reaction produced created a HOT bottom to the test tube.  I promise you would only touch it once.

Imagine making plans to go out with friends for dinner.  You have to test before dinner.  This is why diabetics when to the rest room in the 70’s! Oh and you had to bring your own cup to piss in.  It was just easier to set up shop on the counter in the rest room.

Be thankful for the breakthroughs in science that have superior treatments for the ravishing complications that come with diabetes.  We can still go blind but not at the rate we used to.  We still have amputations but wound care has improved and saving the limb is a lot more realistic these days.  We still have kidney failure but modern pharmacology is able to slow its progression. There are still complications that have not received the attention of the others but that is because Diabetes is still very much a mystery. But everyday researchers are learning more and more.

Having a chronic illness can bring about depression, especially diabetes. Below is the Patient Health Questionnaire developed by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and is used in clinical practices all over the world to asses a patient’s potential for experiencing depression.  If you beleive youmay be depressed please print this page, answer the questions and take it to your health care provider:

PHQ-4

Interestingly enough research has been done recently that found that living with diabetes may be stressful to an individual but not enough to cause clinical depression.  Nonetheless, the effect of this environment is still the same on our body.  Researchers have labelled this “Diabetes Distress” and have developed a screening form for patients to use, similar to the PHQ above, but specific to diabetes and the care it requires.

You can find the Diabetes Distress screening tool here.  (This is a PDF file that will open in a new window.)

With all that being said my friends, I wish you all prosperity, and as good health as you can manage to achieve!  Take a new look at your diagnosis as well as your situation and try to find the good things that have occurred because of the dark clouds.  (Even dark clouds mean sunny skies are on their way!)

If you have gotten this far please subscribe to my blog.  If what I have said resonates with you, good or bad, please leave a comment below.

 

Peace+

DiabetesDude

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World Diabetes Day 2017

From NaturalBlaze.com

In case you didn’t know it, November 14th is designated by the United Nations as World Diabetes Awareness Day.  In the United States the American Diabetes Association designates November as Diabetes Awareness as well. Their Mission is to “prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.”  All day I have been thinking about this.  The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.  I would like to believe in my heart of hearts that awareness campaigns are as successful as the promoters would like us to believe.

The American Diabetes Association, The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund and the International Diabetes Federation are huge organizations who are doing great things in respect to furthering the much needed research to understand this most complex of disorders with an ultimate goal of learning how to prevent the onset AND how to reverse the malfunctioning organ that has all of us in chains to its whims. This condition has reached pandemic proportions. Pandemic means widespread over a country or the world. And here we sit in the pews, in our choir robes while the evangelists from the churches of ADA/JDRF and IDF stand at the pulpit and preach for the need to make the world aware of this terrible demon that is afflicting 1.5 million newly diagnosed Americans a year, as of 2015 according to the ADA. In 2017 the Center for Disease Control published that there are over 100 million Americans with some type of diabetes.  We are a tremendous choir so much so that even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would shudder at our numbers. The problem is these very same evangelists are not out there in tent revival style homecomings preaching the word of awareness to the unbaptized.  The preaching does not commence until that poor, wretched soul is diagnosed. And then the first sermon they receive is that of the diligent, tireless researchers who are on the cusp of a cure right now. In ten years time this demon will be exorcised never to darken another metabolism.  I have had diabetes sine 1979.  When 1989 rolled around I was chomping at the bit to get in line to be blessed by the healers that had harnessed the ability to make me whole once again!

For the last 2 weeks, as I watch television or listen to the radio I am confounded by the number of advertisements for breast cancer awareness* campaigns. And then I sit there and get angry.  I understand that advertising takes money. Money that could be used to further research, but the big three proselytizers have budgets that have line items for research AND marketing.  If you want to increase the awareness of the need for people to recognize the symptoms of pre-diabetes and to give credence to the devastating effects of “having a little sugar” there needs to be a more public, in your face, exposure like breast cancer awareness. Especially in the month of NOVEMBER, for God’s sake!  There is a cartoon circulating on social media with Santa Claus and Tom Turkey having a conversation and Ole’ Tom is letting St. Nick have it because no sooner than Halloween turned in to All Saint’s Day the stores had already deployed their Christmas decorations and wares.

Cartoon: December, Fat Boy! This month is for MY Holiday! Now hop on that sleigh and WAIT your TURN!

Look at the image in the header of this post. Can you name all the awareness conditions that each ribbon represents?  Even within the diabetes community we can’t agree on whether it should be Red (ADA) or Wedgewood Blue (IDF)/(JDRF). The Rainbow of Ribbons has gotten out of hand.  I am not saying we shouldn’t support the causes that matter to us or have impacted our lives but now we need an app on our phone that when you point the camera at a ribbon it will identify all the causes associated with that color.  After that you will be on your own as to how to narrow it down or perhaps, like reporting roadwork or radar on Waze, you could report a sighting in the wild after confronting the awareness advocate and have identified and classified that particular ribbon’s species and family.

jdrf-t1dfootprint

You may have seen these appearing in your social media feeds or perhaps you have one yourself.  This is the official badge of the Choir of Sweet Melodies. Some may look a little different.\, but the identity of the enrobed is the same: we all have a condition called diabetes.  And as the evangelists spread the good word the members of the congregation, dressed in their robes, eagerly and swiftly, post their new #T1DLooksLikeMe profile images, IGram stories and FBook posts for all their friends/family/followers to see.  I will concede, that in this modern world of anonymous and random “friends”, these posts may be enlightening to these “strange” friends. I am not really sure that the impact will be as expected. But, like it is said “If one person is reached then I have done my job.”  Hmmmm. 1:1,500,000, I should go get a MegaMillions lottery ticket. The jackpot this week is $82,000,000.00. Even 1% would buy some serious advertising.

So how do the members of choir go forth with the message and expose the heathens with healthy pancreases or perhaps failing pancreases to the importance of what is still not being publicly recognized as a serious, life altering and at time life threatening condition?  We need to stop talking just within our social circle.  Our friends and families know we have diabetes.  If they don’t, well they should and this is the time to sit them down and give them the basics.  People need to know what we encounter on a daily basis. In my 35+ years I have never shied away from testing or taking insulin in public. As a teen, if I went to the bathroom to inject it was because I needed to politely get access to a site and not because it was wrong to inject at the table.  Doing these things in plain sight are conversation starters.  I have had multiple occasions when strangers have seen me testing or giving insulin and have approached me and started a conversation. Secondly, acquire some type of medical alert jewelry.  It may save your life one day and it may also be an invitation to start a conversation.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. It just has to be…on your wrist, your shoe, or around your neck.

Bottom line folks, we need to pour out of the Chapel of the Unquenchable Thirst and start knocking on doors and introducing ourselves:

“Hello, I am Elder DiabetesDude. Have you heard the news? Diabetes is on the rise and we want to make sure that you are saved from this horrible affliction.  I only have 7 simple questions whose answers could save your life.”

“You’ve got a few minutes? Great!

Are over 40? Do you have any relatives afflicted with the demon called diabetes? Do you have high blood pressure? (If your neighbor is a woman – were you ever diagnosed with gestational diabetes?) Are you physically active? I only have one more question, brother/sister. You don’t have to tell me but would you please point to your weight category?

“Awesome. I am going to leave this assessment with you. Based on our score, as determined by the American Diabetes Association, you should discuss the results with your primary healthcare provider.”

Am I mocking certain church groups? If you think I am then you are probably right. But ask yourself this “Why do I know who DiabetesDude is mocking?” I’ll tell you. Because these folks get out there and make a presence in PUBLIC. We may not appreciate their tactics but I tell you this I sure as heck respect their dedication to spreading the word – whatever that may be.

Lastly, please don’t flame me because I appeared to downplay the seriousness of breast cancer.  That is not the case at all. I support breast cancer research as well as support for those who have been impacted by this equally devastating disease.

Peace+

DiabetesDude