A Sharp Dressed Man…

We all eventually reach a point in life where life begins taking away more than it gives. While this may seem like a negative view of life, it’s intended to be a realistic one. It’s inevitable. As we walk through life, all the people, things and in some cases, the places we grew up knowing are simply no longer there. What rings true the most for me, and where this applies heavily, is with the influences I had in my youth.

When I take the time to look back, a number of influences were gone before I genuinely had the chance to know them, prior to adulthood. Bruce Lee is a good example. Despite being one of the most prominent influences on me as it relates to my martial arts journey, he actually died five years before I was even born. This didn’t prevent “Enter the Dragon” from being one of my favourite movies and encourage my entry into the martial arts. But the influence I’m mostly referring to in today’s post, is music.

Music holds a special place in my heart. I’m one of those people who are heavily influenced by music. A jaunty, upbeat song can quickly turn my bad mood into having me awkwardly shake my dad bod around the kitchen, much to my wife and children’s amusement. By the same token, certain sad songs that relate to situations in my life can almost move me to tears. I’ve learned to play certain instruments, although I never delved into them heavily, and I even had a brief foray into singing, having provided the vocals for a small band during my college days.

One of my favourite memories from my childhood, is going on road trips with my father. He kept a heavy, D-cell “ghetto blaster” tape player wedged between the two front seats, since our family car (a Chevette, in case you were wondering) didn’t have a tape deck. Despite the fact we were mostly travelling to Montreal to join my brother and mother at the children’s hospital, it was always a fun, 8 to 10-hour drive filled with all the classic rock you can imagine. And as you may have guess from today’s title, one of those bands was ZZ Top…

ZZ Top was formed in 1969 and is an iconic rock band responsible for some of my favourite songs including but not limited to, “Legs,” “Sharp-dressed man” and “Can’t Stop Rockin’.” Although somewhat older, their sound and genre totally stands up, even by today’s standard and their songs have been covered and sampled more times than I can remember. Last Wednesday, I read that ZZ Top’s bassist, Dusty Hill, passed away at the age of 72.

Recent years have taken a number of prominent artists from us. Some of them have left a measurable void, including David Bowery and Eddie Van Halen. EDDIE VAN HALEN!!!! In 2015, when Mitch Malloy released a song he did with Van Halen in 1996, I was thinking we may see some new music come out. But then Van Halen passed away in 2020, punching those hopes. Right in the feels.

Such is the way of life. It gives, then it takes away. With the loss of their bassist, ZZ Top may choose to find a replacement and continue on. For their own sake, I hope they do. But for me, ZZ Top was about more than just the quality of music they provided. It was about the performance itself, which always had a special little something when you consider Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill with their matching beards, glasses and hats and Frank Beard ironically being the only one NOT sporting a beard…. They were even fantastic playing in Back to the Future III. Don’t remember that? ZZ Top was the band that played at the town dance that Marty and Doc attend. True story, go check it out.

You can read a short news article on Dusty Hill’s passing here. With the passing of yet another great musical influence from my youth, I’m sombrely reminded of my own mortality. Such is life. But the memories and the music will continue on. ☯️

Let The Energy Flow Through You…

There’s no denying that keeping your energy levels up throughout the day can be challenging. Diabetes makes that challenge even greater, since uncontrolled blood sugars and Diabetes complications can lead to sleepiness, grogginess and apathy. But Diabetes aside, there are a number of things that one can do to boost and improve their energy levels throughout the day. And just to be clear… I don’t mean “energy” as it relates to what makes you a person and keeps you alive. I mean one’s ability to keep on trucking when the afternoon slump gets to you.

In order to gather an appropriate list, i consulted articles from two of my favourite websites: HealthLine.com and WebMD. After consulting these articles, I picked out my top five as it relates to what’s easiest and manageable in what I consider to be a typical day-to-day existence. These are subjective of course, so take these with grain of salt. Alright, here we go…

  1. Drink More Water And Cut Out Booze: Considering I’m a guy who likes his wine… In fact, I enjoy my “adult beverages” a fair bit after a long day at the office and after my workouts. But the reality is that hydration plays a key role in keeping one’s energy levels up. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. In fact, drinking cold water has shown some promise in helping with weight loss, since the body has to work to warm itself if you drink cold water;
  2. Sleep More Or Improve The Sleep You Do Get: If you’re anything like me, your 8 hours of sleep can often leave you feeling drained and that fuckin’ alarm seems to go off right about the time I manage to fall into a deep sleep. Some common practices include avoiding screens and doing something relaxing as part of a good pre-bed routine. And don’t be afraid to take a nap. Naps are underrated. Just remember not to let it linger too long, as it can interfere with your actual sleep patterns;
  3. Eat Healthy: This one is pretty subjective, since every person is different in terms of how their body responds and functions based on diet. I’m not a big believer in fad diets. They work for some and not for others; same as any other diet. The problem is that you only typically hear about the positive outcomes. The bottom line is if you include plenty of vegetables, of different varieties and lean proteins, you’re good to go. Keep your total carbs down (not eliminated, just reduced) and you’re off to the races. Ever feel exhausted after having a plate of pasta? Those carbohydrates are absolutely horrible…
  4. Exercise More: If you’re exhausted, get up and do something. It probably seems counterintuitive, but doing something physical will increase blood circulation, which will absolutely pull you out of your funk. Exercise will also help with your blood sugar levels and overall well-being. As I’ve written about on previous occasions, living things move. Movement brings energy. Energy promotes life. Wash, rinse and repeat. You can’t live without movement. Sedentary people who sit on the couch all day with always seem lethargic, and for different reasons. Anything is something more than nothing. Start by stepping away from your desk and taking a ten-minute walk. Have a routine where you work out for 20 to 30 minutes of intensive exercise, every day; and
  5. Calm The Hell Down: This one should be pretty obvious, but reducing or eliminating stress will go a long way towards helping you boost your energy levels. Experiencing constant stress will usually sap your energy and leave you feeling drained at the end of the day. This is where the other side of my life kicks in… meditation, exercise and martial arts can go a long way. But whatever works for you in reducing your stress is gravy! Work out on a punching bag. Cross-stitch. Whatever.

All of this goes hand-in-hand with monitoring and maintaining good blood sugar levels. Even if my intention was to provide a list outside of the Diabetic realm, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that high blood sugars will usually leave you feeling exhausted and sleepy. And suffering a low will have you craving a nap once you correct it. Especially if you over correct. But whether you have Diabetes or not, the above list is guaranteed to help you maintain or boost your energy levels and help you get through the day without needing that second cup of coffee. or in my case, the fifth or sixth… ☯

I Regret Nothing…

Oh, yes. I regret nothing. I’ve written several posts on this topic because I feel that it’s important. And it keeps coming up in some way, shape or form. The most prominent question I get asked is if I ever wish I hadn’t been diagnosed with Diabetes. Really? One would think that asking me if I would have preferred to grow up without a dangerous and difficult to manage auto-immune condition would be redundant. But the question has been posed more times than I can remember. Sometimes, I think people lack content to discuss and ask questions just for the sake of asking them. But I digress…

It’s okay to wish for something. Do I wish I never developed Type-1 Diabetes? Of course. Do I wish my brother hadn’t passed away at the age of 18? Obviously. Would I have preferred not to go through the personal and professional difficulties I’ve dealt with in the past three years? Oh, you damn right! But as I’ve often said before, it’s important not to live a life of regret. One can easily spend all of one’s time looking towards the past and regretting some of the choices and situations that have happened to them. The problem one faces when doing this, is that they fail to live in the now; and there’s a lot of life you can miss when you’re busy dwelling on the past.

Another important aspect to bear in mind, is that every situation one has been through, good or bad, has ultimately contributed to the person one has become. And there’s really no negative aspect to this. If you believe in who you’ve become and trust that you’re a good person, then those events that you may otherwise regret have likely helped forge you into the strong, capable person you are. If you’ve become a bad person, there’s always the ability to make a change, going forward (unless you’re totally fuckin’ evil and don’t care. I know a few people like that).

“ I Am The Master Of My Fate, I Am The Captain Of My Soul”

– William Ernest Henley, Invictus

I’ve been an admirer of William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus” for years…. Poetry is always open to the reader’s interpretation (unless you have a pretentious art teacher who feels she needs to force her perspective on you) but I always felt that this poem demonstrates how no matter how difficult or rough life gets, one needs to persevere and push through, keeping a firm control of one’s destiny. As romantic and hopeful a thought that may be, that’s rarely the case. As I’ve often said before, life rarely cares about one’s plan.

We may be the masters of our fate, but fate deals us the hand and we’re usually stuck playing the hand we’re dealt. That may seem a bit of a negative perspective and it certainly isn’t meant to be. But it all comes down to the old saying about sometimes you just got to roll with the punches. This is often the only way to be the “master of my fate.”

Do I ever look back and wonder how life would have been for me, had I not been diagnosed with Diabetes? Absolutely. Not a week goes by where it doesn’t cross my mind. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t tear up while reading about the medical researcher in Alberta who has found a promising treatment that could reverse Type-1. I’ll believe THAT when I see it, but I can’t help but feel that I may have grown up to be a significantly different person if I had never had Diabetes. After all, Diabetes forces one to develop perseverance, tenacity, an unwillingness to quit and a will (and need) to keep fighting.

I sincerely believe that those qualities would be lacking, if my life hadn’t turned out the way it has. Maybe with the ability to eat anything I chose as a child, I would have become obese. Maybe I would have developed an affinity for sports and become a jock, potentially bullying people much in the same fashion as the hated hockey players I had to deal with in high school. There’s no telling how different things might have turned out. This is why one can’t allow oneself to regret. You gotta learn from it all and keep going. ☯️

Don’t Look At The Ground If You Want To See The Sky…

Perspective is an important part of life. Most of us have a perspective that’s based on a combination of our family values, personal experience and occasionally religion. Perspective can guide our actions. Determine our choices. perspective can even lead to our thinking that something is negative when it seems perfectly normal to someone else. And that’s where the problem comes in. Perspective can cause us to view others and their respective beliefs in a negative way.

Peoples’ perspective, especially when based on personal beliefs, can lead to serious misunderstandings, fights and even criminal behaviour. This is where the firm understanding that empathy, understanding and the ability to see things from someone ELSE’s perspective comes in handy. Especially if one hopes to avoid the unnecessary confrontations that can result.

Let’s take the example of an infant, as an example. When an infant whose just learned to walk bumps their leg into a table, or becomes hungry, sleepy or uncomfortable, they start to cry. Seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? Imagine if you started crying every time you got hungry or bumped your leg on a table? I’m pretty good at shooting off a string of profanity when I somehow kick a wall that’s been in my house since I moved in, but it doesn’t get me crying.

I guess my point is simply this: Your perspective is unique to you. You shouldn’t expect others to understand or get in line with your way of thinking. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have people in your life that at least respect your perspective, even if they don’t agree with it. And you should respect others’ perspectives. So long as their way of life brings no harm to themselves or others, everyone’s journey is unique and should be respected. Food for thought…☯

Booze Is Bad, Mm-Kay?

If none of you have ever watched South Park, you may not get the reference in the title. There’s a character called “Mr. Mackey,” and he’s big on using the line, “Drugs are bad, mm-Kay?” If you have time to Google or go on YouTube to hear how he says it, you’ll get why it’s funny. But i digress…. Today’s post is about alcohol, as it relates to Diabetes and the difficulty that can be associated with trying to enjoy an adult beverage without sending blood sugars and one’s overall system into fits.

I don’t usually endorse specific products, services or items here, besides talking about my pump and the fact that it’s manufactured by Medtronic. It’s a little hard to hide that fact and STILL talk about it, which is why I allow it. But in general, my blog isn’t a platform to advertise for others. But when it comes to my personal use and review of something, especially if it makes Diabetes easier for me.

As most Type-1 Diabetics are aware, consuming alcohol can be a difficult concept for a number fo different reasons. If you’re a beer drinker, you need to consider the amount of carbs you’re consuming and be able to bolus accordingly for them. The biggest issue is knowing how many carbohydrates are in any particular alcoholic drink. For example, the average 355mL can of beer contains between 6 to 12 grams of carbs. Interestingly enough, “non-alcoholic” beer contains anywhere between 9 to 17 grams of carbs, as well.

Wine is certainly a better option, considering some of the anti-oxidant aspects and the fact that an entire bottle of red wine is only between 10 to 14 grams of carbohydrates (not that I’m suggesting you drink an entire bottle at once, mind you). And keep in mind that pure spirits that haven’t been mixed with anything else have absolutely no carbohydrates. There are some exceptions, of course. Because why would life be simple? Here’s a chart by Diabetes.ca for some basic reference.

This brings me to the product I tried last week…. While visiting my in-laws last week, my mother-in-law introduced the above-shown product as “something new” for my father-in-law to try. He had a can, but preferred his beer. I decided to try one, since it boasts zero sugar and zero carbs (a discernment that ins’t always made). I tried a can and I have to say that considered its ingredient content, it was pretty good. It became my vacation go-to beverage for my week away.

Sitting at 5% alcohol content, this is a vodka-soda drink that’s light, refreshing and easy to drink. There were a variety of flavours that included lime, lemon, raspberry and grapefruit. I tested my blood prior to drinking the first one and was sitting comfortably in the 5’s, and was still sitting in that range after two cans and a couple of hours’ elapsing. I was tickled pink (the vodka MAY have had something to do with that) and it was nice to find something that ACTUALLY allows me to enjoy a drink without affecting my blood sugars.

The can you see above is one of a case I purchased once we got back home to Regina. Sitting at 7% as opposed to 5%, these come in three flavours: black cherry, blackberry and raspberry. they’re pretty good and the added 2% DOES make a difference. But I once again, they seem to have no measurable effect on my blood sugars, which is nice. While looking for a case of this stuff, I realized that there are a few of these drinks that fall into the same category. I’ve spent so much time getting on the “making fun” bandwagon against White Claw, I never stopped to recognize that a can of the stuff is only 1 gram of carbs!

Anyway, I wanted to offer up this brief review of this product. As anyone with Type-1 Diabetes is aware, enjoying a drink is painful at the best of times, so this is definitely a helpful aspect that allows T1D’s as much normalcy as possible. One simply needs to remember all the other fun details, such as the consumption of booze ties up your liver as it processes the alcohol, so it can cause your blood sugars to drop, carbs or not. No matter what your plans or what you’re drinking, remember to make certain to check your blood sugars regularly and have a safe plan for administering some fast-acting carbs if needed. ☯️

The Universe Owes You Nothing…

I’ve always worked very hard at trying to help others and make a difference in my small corner of the world. This has come in different forms; volunteering, helping random strangers and even my chosen careers have all gone towards trying to eliminate my own suffering as well as the suffering of others in the world. It hasn’t always been easy, and sometimes I’ve had to be selfish in that I can’t help others if I don’t myself myself, first and foremost. This is a concept I’ve often tried to instil in others, usually with very little success.

“I Think The Galaxy Owes Me One…”

– Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek: Generations

Karma is based on one’s intent. You can’t perform good deeds with the hope or the intention that life will provide a positive or easy outcome. That isn’t how karma works. If you seek to help or ease suffering in a positive way, with only the best intentions in your soul, then karma will do the rest. But it isn’t intended on being a cosmic judge, jury and executioner. People make mistakes. This doesn’t mean your karma will be bad. People will make bad decisions. That doesn’t mean you’re destined to spend your next life as a dung beetle. But you need to do what’s right for the right reasons. THAT’s where karma plays an important role.

I’m guilty of having misinterpreted karma on more than one occasion. There have been times in my life where I’ve spoken the words, “I think the universe owes me a few…”. This has usually been associated to the fact that I’ve saved lives, located missing persons and prevented or solved crimes in different ways. On some fundamental level, I have no doubt that at certain points in my life I felt as though the universe owed me one, given the sacrifices and efforts I’ve put into life. But the reality is that the universe owes me nothing.

I think it was Mark Twain who said, “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” The same can be said of the universe. It owes you nothing. And it was here first. DO good for the sake of doing good. Work to eliminate suffering in the world. It’s not about owing. It’s about why you’re doing it. If you do good in the hopes of getting something back, then you aren’t really doing good. I’ve learned a lot since the last time I assumed the universe owed me one. And boy, was it quick to show me the error of my thinking. Maybe take it from me as opposed to trying it for yourself; the universe owes you nothing. But you owe it to yourself to do good in the world. Food for thought…☯️

Pain Is All In Your Head…

No, really. That’s not just a title…. Pain really IS all in your head! That’s not just me, trying to act like a tough guy. Pain is basically the body’s way to let you know that something is wrong. Either you have a visible or unknown injury, you’ve caused damage or something has caused damage to you, or you’ve been exposed to something that causes damage to you tissues.

According to an article by Medical New Today, pain happens when a signal travels to the brain for interpretation. Once there, the brain sends back a signal telling the body to respond. I’m paraphrasing there, but you can read the article. The point is, something hurts you, a signal is sent to the brain, the brain says, “that’s not good, stop doing that” and your body respond by feeling the unpleasant sensation we know as pain.

For most pains, like touching a hot surface, our body has a reflex system that forces us to pull our hand away from the heat source. This can apply to a number of different sources of pain, but I don’t want o dive too deeply into this aspect. Like I said, you can read the article. The article describes the types of pain as acute or chronic, with the former being sharp, intense pain that goes away shortly and the latter being long-lasting in some way or another. Both types have sub-types of course, because nothing is ever simple.

According to another good article that I found on HealthLine.com, the types of pain can be described as acute, chronic, nociceptive, neuropathic and functional. The articles describe all of those types in detail, so once again, I won’t get into it, but you can read the article. The important ones to remember are nociceptive and neuropathic, especially if you have Type-1 Diabetes.

Nociceptive pain is the one that’s caused by injury. Cuts, bruises, tissue damage… that fun stuff. This can be important for someone with Diabetes because those wounds need to be treated quickly and may have difficulty healing, depending on how well your Diabetes is controlled. Since folks with Diabetes are also prone to infections, treating and caring for nociceptive injuries becomes doubly important, from a health standpoint. It’s important not to ignore these types of pain.

Neuropathic pain is particular to folks with Diabetes as well, since it’s caused by nerve damage, which can be a side effect of Diabetes. Neuropathic pain is particularly unpleasant and since it’s associated with tissue damage that the patient generally can’t test themselves, almost always requires medical intervention. Other conditions can cause it, as well. My father has a degenerative spine, which causes neuropathic pain that’s also chronic, meaning he is in a constant state of pain. To add insult to injury (no pun intended) he’s also Type-1 Diabetic.

But now that we have the science stuff out of the way, let’s discuss the types of pain that you CAN ignore… Are there any? Since pain is the body’s way of telling you there’s something wrong, should you really ignore any of them? My thought is that there are forms of pain that you can work through. For example, if you’ve had a particularly rough workout, you’ll feel “the burn,” or an aching of the muscles.

When you workout, you cause micro-damage to your muscle tissue. As this damage is healed, you can experience passive aching and bruising and that fun feeling of being unable to use those muscle groups to do little things like, oh, I don’t know… get out of bed gracefully without looking like your limb has been lopped off in a bad Monty Python sword fight. Have at thee! This type of pain is temporary and will usually pass on it’s own, but you can certainly help it along by maintaining good blood circulation to those tissues, eating an appropriate diet containing protein and fibre that help heal and build muscle tissue and even icing.

If it’s particularly bad, you can wuss out and take something over-the-counter, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. But those are bad habits you don’t want to start unless you really have to. If any pain resulting from fitness is sharp, debilitating and isn’t going away, you may need medical attention. Muscle and ligaments tears are no joke and can sometimes be mistaken for an after-workout burn to some people. Whether internal or external, an injury requires medical attention is there’s blood involved, seeping out or pooling beneath the flesh.

Other situations that would require immediate medical attention are bone protrusions, whether they break the skin or not, hanging appendages (like an eyeball popped out or something) or paralysis of a body part. Learning and recognizing the acute pain associated with things like a heart attack, or “referred” pain. This means something like sore neck and arm when experiencing a heart attack.

Hopefully, your workouts aren’t extreme to the point where you’re dealing with protruding bones and heart attacks, but knowing the difference between these types of pain can mean the difference between maintaining one’s health or facing some serious problems. Different people deal with pain in different ways, as everyone experiences pain differently. What seems like a passive after-workout ache to one person may seem debilitating to another. So, it’s important to know your limits and how you experience things.

Pain is all in your head. Literally. This doesn’t mean that certain levels of pain can’t be managed and others should be ignored. The healing of injuries can be difficult for Diabetics, so it’s important to pay close attention, clean and bandage any injuries you get and get to your health professional if they don’t heal within days. Eat well, exercise regularly and keep your blood sugars in check and healing will be all the easier. Have you ever noticed that those three things (diet, exercise and blood sugars) are repeated through most of my posts? It’s almost like they’re important, or something…. ☯️

You Ever Try To Kick The Sky?

Martial arts is comparable to your favourite recipe; many will have a similar process in preparing their recipe, but most will have some slightly different ingredients and amounts that make their recipe unique and specifically theirs. The same can be said of martial arts. Different styles will have different ways of accomplishing the same goals and/or executing the same technique. As an example, what my style calls a crescent kick and inside crescent kick is referred to as the opposite in the Kenpo dojo I currently train with.

It can be a bit convoluted and even confusion to the non-practitioner, especially if they’re trying to choose their own style. But what’s important to a practitioner is to refrain from judging or evaluating another style’s methods, even if they may seem odd or useless from ones’s personal style. I’m certainly guilty of this; I’ve written entire posts on why I WOULDN’T train a certain way or use specific techniques. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for THEM.

I follow a certain number of martial arts pages, mostly because they’re fun to follow. But once in a while they lead to small nuggets of wisdom or open my eyes to something I may not have considered before. The reason I bring this up is because of a couple of posts I saw yesterday, where a young woman in a black shirt and yoga pants executed several kicks straight up above her head, and a second post with someone in a karate gi doing the same. I made the mistake of visiting the comments section. Big, big mistake.

Setting aside some of comments related to the first practitioner who was wearing yoga pants (who the fuck cares? You should be able to execute your techniques in any clothing you wear), some inevitably commented how useless the kick was, as there’s no practical application to kicking straight up. While I can admit that I would never, in a real-life scenario or in the dojo, execute this technique, I can also freely admit a fact that most of these armchair commentators won’t; I couldn’t execute that kick to save my life!

Okinawa Karate is a pretty low-technique style. We don’t employ many high kicks, favouring kicks at or below the belt and using punches and arm techniques for anything higher. But there’s no denying that there are a number of measurable benefits behind executing such techniques, even the practical applications are few our far between. Unless you happen to be fighting against a giant or someone twice your height. Which could happen. I guess. If you’re living in a video game world.

Here’s the thing: Doing high kicks may not serve a practical application. But what they do provide is the ability to work on precision, balance, muscle strength and agility. These are important benefits to someone studying the martial arts. In Okinawa karate, we always focused on doing halfway splits to help with flexibility and reach for the kicks we DO perform. But to this day, I still can’t do a full split, whether this means lowering myself to the floor or doing a high kick. In my hay day, I could execute some pretty solid roundhouse kicks against someone’s head, provided they weren’t three feet taller than I was.

What surprises me, is how any time someone posts a video of them selves doing a kick straight up in the air, there’s always some negative fucker who needs to comment about how it’s a useless kick. Agreed, it may not be useful in an actual fight, but consider how flexible this person is and how precise they may be while using an actual kick against an opponent. You don’t learn to punch properly by striking a punching bag once. By the same token, your flexibility and reach isn’t accomplish simply by kicking ONLY as far as you want to go. One will usually train to exceed that reach in order to allow for a more efficient technique. To most martial artists, this is what would be considered a common training practice and also “common sense.”

I continue to be impressed by practitioners who execute high flying techniques and show remarkable flexibility, a flexibility that I’ve never had. I can easily say that I would never use fancy spinning kicks or use a kick where one strikes straight up above one’s head. But that doesn’t mean these techniques aren’t impressive and useful in their own way. It’s important not to judge too harshly, when one sees some of these techniques. Although they may not be included in your style, they still hold some use and practicality from a training standpoint. Instead of commenting on how useless the kick is, why not recognize the balances, strength, precision and agility involved. This is the true martial way. ☯️

Longer Life Or Happier Life…

There’s a particular trend that seems to take place where people usually fall under two groups: those who take their health and fitness in hand in order to be healthier and live a longer life and those who claim to only live once and they’d rather spend a short time being happy, enjoying the many indulgences of life. Although the latter would seem like the easier way to go, it doesn’t necessarily equate a happier life; especially when you’ve been “living” your happy life and time and health has caught up to you…

I’m a big fan of the occasional indulgence. Many of you may have read about my occasional meal that contains enough carbohydrates to kill a small army. Although I make an effort to control my carbohydrate intake, sometimes a person’s just gotta have their damn burger! But outside of wolfing down a patty of meat with cheese, toppings and a soft, toasted bun (great, now I’m hungry) I try to focus on lean proteins and salads in order to help control my overall weight, energy and blood sugar levels.

Having enough discipline to maintain ones health is not always an easy thing. But uncontrolled Diabetes can lead to a host of very unpleasant and debilitating conditions that will make your shorter, “happier” life more torturous than it needs to be. When you consider blindness, loss of limbs, organ failure, not least of which includes the kidneys (you may have heard that you can’t live without these) circulatory and heart issues, it rather seems as though throwing caution to the wind is an unreasonable way to live.

I used to have a friend back home… I say “used to” because I haven’t spoken with him in almost 20 years and if I’m being honest, I don’t even know if he’s alive. But I remember he used to take really bad care of himself, eating sugary goods with abandon and never testing his blood sugars. He was in his 20’s and had been diagnosed as Type-1 early in his teens. I’ve seen this trend a lot; where a diagnosis late in life can be more difficult since the person has already developed bad habits.

I was diagnosed when I was 4 years old and my household was already pretty limited diet-wise, due to my brother. So I can see where he was coming from. But I was the manager of a local pharmacy back home and we had a special on soda products (I’m sure you know where I’m referring to). He walked in and grabbed a cart. He grabbed four, 2-litre bottles of sugared cola and added them to his cart. I walked over to say hi and asked him if a family member had sent him out on an errand. He replied that no, the soda was for him.

Free choice is also an important aspect to a happy life, folks. And I hate feeling the need to ask a question of someone that borders on being intrusive. But a once-over of my friend showed him to be pale, sweating profusely and looked as though he hadn’t slept well in weeks. He had his hair cropped close enough to his scalp that I could see scar tissues from the bed sores he developed from his many Diabetic comas. Based on his current condition, I could tell he was running extremely high.

I asked him if he felt he should really be drinking that stuff, to which he replied, “It’s all good, man. Just gotta take more insulin.” Oy vey… Are you serious? I totally get that one should be able to eat what they want in relation to taking insulin. After all, that’s kind of the point. And that’s what a non-Diabetic body does. But what about miscalculations? What about consumable products that may not necessarily match up with the carb levels indicated on their nutritional labels? There’s a HUGE margin for error.

Not least of which is the aspect that all of this can be aggravated if you have a shitty or non-existent control of your blood sugars. That was the case with my friend. He had no control over his blood sugar levels and was always running high. I can’t imagine the pain he was in and the uncomfortable existence he was in. Maybe in his mind, since he was suffering anyway, his indulgences were his only little form of happiness. But it’s kind of a “chicken and the egg” scenario…

They say we only have one life to live. The problem is that no one knows for sure. That being said, a person owes it to themselves to try and take the best care of themselves and their health as possible. Not only do you deserve a long, happy life but there are ways to be happy without letting go of your fitness and eating like a trash receptacle. Enjoy the “occasional” treat and know how to bolus properly for it. Exercise consistently but don’t look at it as a chore. Do something physical that you enjoy. I LOVE cycling. And it’s excellent cardio and exercise. It doesn’t have to be difficult, you just need to break the cycle of apathy.

Diabetes doesn’t discriminate. And while you may lie on your death bed claiming you got to enjoy yourself for the short period you lived, wouldn’t it make more sense to live twice as long AND be able to say you enjoyed yourself? Even controlled Diabetes will still shorten your lifespan. If you give Diabetes an open door, it’ll squeeze its way in and mess you up. And like the image above says, not only will it kill you, it will hurt the whole time you’re dying. Take care of yourselves. ☯️

Stress? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Stress…

You guys may recall that I posted a video back in May after my first doze of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. I posted the video in the hopes that it could be of assistance to other Type-1 Diabetics who were considering doing the smart thing and getting vaccinated against the virus. Now, I’m not here to debate the merits of vaccination or to argue about what any individual person’s choice may be. Based on my life and my thoughts on the matter, vaccination was a smart thing for my family and I. I have no regrets.

Without writing out the entire content of the video I posted, I’ll briefly describe what happened after my first dose. I walked into the pharmacy about ten minutes before my scheduled appointment. My blood sugars were relatively normal. Bear in mind, I wear a continuous glucose monitor. I get the injection. Less than an hour later, my blood sugar spike to above 22.0 mmol/L! A couple of important details to point out include the fact that it climbed from a normal range to that level in about an hour and that it happened SO fast that my pump didn’t even register and have time to set off the “High” alarm at 14.0 mmol/L like it’s programmed to. Still with me? Good.

I’m used to having things screw up on me on occasion, so I drank some fluids and slowly bolused and brought my blood down to a normal level before going to sleep. It wasn’t until a week later when I was at the pharmacy filling out one of a bajillion prescriptions, that the pharmacist asked me about any symptoms after receiving the vaccine. I told her I hadn’t suffered any symptoms that I knew of. My blood sugar had spiked, but nothing vaccine-related. She was shocked at the spike and asked me fill out a form for the health authority as she felt it may have been a side effect of the vaccine.

It took a few weeks for the health authority to get back to me, but their determination was that the spike in blood sugars were a result of “stress associated with getting the COVID-19 vaccine.” Wait. What? Are you fuckin’ kidding me? So, I’ve been getting near-constant injections and needles almost since the cradle, I’ve had scores of vaccines and immunizations and I used to work a job where my life was genuinely in peril on more occasions than I can count, and you think getting this particular vaccine “stressed” me out? What a joke! By that definition, why didn’t everything I listed above cause a massive and rapid spike in blood sugars? None of it ever has…

I was pretty pissed off at this response and I made it clear to the caller, who wasn’t a doctor or health professional but simply passing on the information to let me know I was good to get my second dose. I explained that I was in no way stressed about getting the vaccine and that the health authority’s assessment was inaccurate. In fact, besides being a little tired I was quite relaxed and chatting with the pharmacist while getting the vaccine. I explained that I felt that it would be foolish to write this off as something trivial, considering Saskatchewan has somewhere near 100,000 people with Diabetes and it could potentially be dangerous for someone with less control than I have. The caller assured me that everything was documented. Great.

I can just imagine that if I DIDN’T wear a continuous glucose monitor and had as much experience as I do with managing my own blood sugars without an ER visit, the night would have turned out quite differently. I would have easily gone to bed, given that I was sleepy from the extreme high. Without any monitoring, the pump would have continued with nothing more than the base rate of insulin and I could have faced some dire results.

According to article posted by Diabetes UK, “common ingredients in the coronavirus vaccines include sucrose (a type of sugar) and salt.” Well, ain’t that a bitch??? That would have been nice to know. The article carries on by later indicating that the body produces an immune response because of the vaccine. The “body needs energy to produce this immune response, so it may release some extra glucose (sugar). This is what leads to your blood sugar increasing.”

Setting aside the fact that I can’t help but feel that this is something that perhaps I should have been warned about, the combination of existing sucrose in the vaccine (however minute the amount) mixed with my own body’s immune response resulting in the release of glucose into the bloodstream is what resulted in my spike in blood sugars. I would have liked to assume that the health authority should have known this. Unless the immune response is what they meant by being stressed. Who the hell knows?

I attended Coronavirus Vaccine 2: Electric Boogaloo, last Friday and this time I was ready. Extra Gatorade and fluids were available and I watched my blood sugars like a hawk. I’m happy to report no issues, besides the typical crap one feels after getting any immunization. I felt exhausted for a couple of days afterwards, but since I made a point of incorporating my meals around the vaccination, there was no reflexive release of glucose by the liver and my blood sugars stayed consistent. But this just goes a long way towards making it clear that when I complain about how Type-1 Diabetes affects EVERYTHING, I’m not exaggerating. ☯️