A Little Light Shines Through…

Having Type-1 Diabetes is expensive! I’ve spent the majority of my life saying, “I can’t afford to have Diabetes…” And with good reason, considering the cost and expense that goes into everything required to help keep us not only alive, but in good health.

In Canada, the average cost for a bottle of long-acting insulin such as Lantus (this is the type of insulin that would provide basal coverage over a full day) is about $80. A bottle of short-acting insulin, like Humalog, will run you anywhere between $35 to $40 a bottle. And if you’re anything like me, you may require two to three bottles of that sweet stuff in a month.

Now if you’re lucky, a bottle of long-acting stuff will get you through the month. So according to new math, you’d be looking at well over $200 a month for JUST the insulin. Don’t even get me started on the cost of syringes, needles, blood glucose sticks and various other supplies required to maintain oneself in the wonderful odyssey that is Type-1 Diabetes. If you don’t have some sort of medical coverage or benefits, it can be a life-threatening issue.

This is why it’s always so heart-warming to hear about something that helps to alleviate or lessen the burden, financial or otherwise. I just recently read about a bill passed by the Illinois state legislature in November of 2019, which puts a price cap on out-of-pocket cost for insulin at $100. Illinois’ Governor signed the bill into state law in January, with the law taking effect in Illinois in january of 2021.

Illinois will be the second state to pass such a law after Colorado, with several other states beginning to follow suit with bill of their own. An article posted by Newsweek provides further details, including outlining the increasing issue of some people dying from rationing their insulin supplies or skipping doses, to being unable to afford their insulin. Here’s the article: https://www.newsweek.com/illinois-becomes-second-state-cap-monthly-insulin-prices-more-states-are-considering-it-1483987

This is a fantastic step, but obviously it’s only a beginning. To be clear, this price cap applies to a patient’s co-pay, and not to the cost of insulin when purchase over-the-counter. This does not prevent drug manufacturers from charging increased prices for the sale of their products. It is said that in the United States, the price of insulin has tripled over the past decade.

Although this article is based on pricing and laws from the United States, the situation is very much the same in Canada. I remember the difficulties and financial strain I had to deal with, all through my 20’s and into my 30’s, due to the fact that I had no medical benefits to help take the burden of cost off my shoulders. It will be a wonderful time, when governments come to realize that life-saving therapies such as insulin should be made available, free of cost. ☯

T1D, It Could Happen To Me

Ah, Diabetes… Eternal thorn in my side and the “behind the scenes” silent partner that guarantees all the things I MUST do in my daily routine in order to survive. Type-1 Diabetes has been around for a very long time, from its “humble” discovery in the late 1800’s by doctors who recognized the condition developing after removing the pancreas, to the ancient Egyptians mentioning something pretty close to sounding like Diabetes almost 3,000 years ago.

For those who may not be in the know (and who have never read my blog before), Diabetes occurs when one’s own immune system attacks the body’s insulin-producing beta cells created by the pancreas. Depending on when you were diagnosed, T1D may have been referred to as “child’s” Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes. The latter was the term I spent my childhood hearing, since the majority of Type-1’s are often diagnosed as children. So, this raises the question as to whether one can contract this specific type of Diabetes later on in life, such as during adulthood…

The short answer is yes. Although we know that Type-1 is linked to the body’s immune system attacking the beta cells, doctors aren’t entirely certain WHY it happens. Some research suggests that it can have genetic components, and researchers are also of the opinion that it could be triggered by outside components like diet or a pre-existing medical condition. That last one is certainly the case for my father who, in his 60’s, developed Type-1 Diabetes. And before everyone chimes in, no, he didn’t have Type-2 prior to this. But he has been diagnosed with a number of medical conditions, including Degenerative Spine.

The challenge with a diagnosis of Type-1 in adults is that most people (and most doctors as well) tend to assume that an adult actually has Type-2. This can be difficult and confusing, since both types will often have matching symptoms. Although the weight component is the x-factor between the two types, you can easily find Type-1’s who will have weight issues and Type-2’s who don’t. The tricky part is figuring out if your Diabetes is caused by your immune system or your inability to absorb insulin properly.

A sub-type of Diabetes, sometimes referred to as Type-1.5, is referred to as LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults). As defined on a web page posted by the Mayo Clinic, “Latent autoimmune Diabetes in adults (LADA) is a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Diabetes. Like the autoimmune disease type 1 Diabetes, LADA occurs because your pancreas stops producing adequate insulin, most likely from some “insult” that slowly damages the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.”

LADA pretty much embodies the issue I described earlier, where a diagnosis of Type-2 may happen because someone with LADA will still continue to produce insulin for months, maybe even years before insulin therapy will be required. Here’s the Mayo Clinic article, which provides further information; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/expert-answers/lada-diabetes/faq-20057880

The bottom line is simply this: if you find yourself experiencing excessive thirst, frequent urination, constant fatigue and moodiness as well as fluctuating weight, you should get yourself tested for Diabetes. And if you suspect that a diagnosis of Type-2 may not quite fit, don’t be afraid to consider that you may actually have contracted Type-1 and get a second opinion, if necessary. After all, Type-1 isn’t just diagnosed in children, anymore. ☯

Keep On Rolling

If you’re anything like me, the day or two after an extreme workout will have you feeling like hell. For the most part, this sensation is temporary (see my post from four days ago entitled, Grin Through The Pain) but it can often feel as though you need an extra little something to help your tired and sore muscles along; especially if you work out frequently.

Under normal circumstances, one could easily include certain medical professionals in their training routine such as massage therapists, acupuncturists and chiropractors, bearing in mind that the three provide different functions. But with the current state of the world, it’s difficult to find a productive way of getting the same relief for your muscle tissues. Heating pads and over-the-counter pain killers can only take you so far.

This is where foam rollers come into play. Foam rollers are reasonably popular with athletes nowadays, and they first came into play in the late 1980’s when physical therapist Sean Gallagher began using it as a self massage tool. But like everything else, there’s some good, bad and ugly associated to using one.

Example of a textured foam roller

The proper use of a foam roller will help to ease knots and tightness, increase blood flow through the muscle tissue and help loosen scar tissue. All of these things will significantly help with recovery time after an intense or gruelling workout. You can use a roller before and after a workout, to help with stretching and the prevention of injury.

Another good use for a foam roller is if you spend your day working in a sitting position or if you got a kink somewhere from improper sleeping positions. According to an article posted on Healthline.com, foam rolling has a number of benefits including but not limited to easing muscle pain, increasing your range of motion, temporary reduction of the appearance of cellulite, relieves back pain, helps to manage fibromyalgia and is a handy tool for relaxation.

It is advised that one needs to be careful when rolling and that one should avoid rolling over joints and to avoid foam rolling if you have a muscle tear or a break. There different types of foam rollers, including smooth rollers that are suggested if it’s your first time rolling and textured rollers that work deeper into the muscle tissue. Here’s the Healthline article: https://www.healthline.com/health/foam-roller-benefits

Like anything else, consult your doctor or medical professional before starting any new fitness routine. But foam rolling can be a reasonable addition to your at-home workout routine. It won’t completely replace a registered massage therapist, but it can provide some relief during trying times. ☯

Xenophobia, It’s Not An Obscure Country In Europe…

Having all this free time as a result of self-isolating, I’ve found myself surfing the web and doing things that I generally wouldn’t do. And no, before any of you perverts get the wrong idea, I don’t mean anything lewd or weird. One of the things I’m referring to, is looking up old friends. Since I don’t have Facebook or any other form of mainstream media, this is a bit of challenge and required the people in question to actually have searchable aspects available through Google and such. I found one such friend a short time ago…

Since I’m not a big fan of being sued, I’ll keep the identity of this person to myself, especially since we haven’t spoken in over ten years. But I found a Twitter feed that I was quite certain was a friend I used to work with in Ottawa about twelve years ago. I was optimistic and looking at possibly reconnecting with him, until I read a recent post on Twitter he sent which read, “Thanks China, for fucking our planet!” I was taken aback and quietly hit the back button and got the hell out of there!

Ignorance and lack of education on specific topics can often lead to such assessments as this Twitter feed. And there seems to be a movement taking place, where people of any Asian descent are starting to be discriminated, judged and blamed for the current pandemic. Like the virus itself, it’s already spread enough that you can Google “China” and “blame” in the same search string and find TONS of links related to this very thing.

According to an online article posted by The Guardian, “[…] Chinese Americans, and other Asians, are increasingly living in fear as the Coronavirus spreads across the country amid racial prejudice that the outbreak is somehow the fault of China.” It doesn’t help that the American President is promoting this racism by referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus”, a term that he’s repeated and confirmed on more than one occasion since all of this started.

This trend is spreading, with incidents of negative reactions to Asians who happen to be wearing face masks or cough in public, racial harassment and even cases of assault against Chinese and Asian people in general. Here’s the article if you want to check it out: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/24/coronavirus-us-asian-americans-racism

The big problem is that people have been focusing their anger against the people instead of the problem. And believe me, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Between the time it took for accurate and complete information to be shared with the World Health Organization, people who are STILL hanging out in groups in public and refuse to self-isolate or the ones who continued to travel, either through ignorance or from a sense of needing to get home, society’s inability to take this pandemic seriously and choosing to blame others instead, there are plenty of contributing factors behind the continued spread of the virus.

Racism has always been a problem. And despite how far we’ve come as a society, racism isn’t dead yet. There’s still a lot of work to do. And we can’t let the current issue cause us to slide backwards. I saw an image of an Asian woman holding a placard that read, “My ethnicity is not a virus.” This is an important message, because people need to stop believing that the Asian people are at fault. One does not lead to the other. As stated in the article I linked above, “We have to acknowledge everyone’s humanity at this time because the virus doesn’t know race or colour.”

I Stole My Wife’s Bike! 🚲

Yes, you read the title correctly; I stole my wife’s bike! Although a borrowing a marital property can hardly be referred to as theft, and she knew I was boring it. It was 14 degrees Celsius in Regina, Saskatchewan yesterday afternoon (although it may have reached higher but that was what I saw when I checked). As such, I decided that it would be a good idea to spend some time outside for the day’s workout.

Last year I logged a reasonable number of kilometres over the warmer months on a bicycle, and I discovered a love for it. I even cycled to work, on a number of occasions, which happens to be about ten kilometres away. The best aspect of cycling is that it’s a low impact exercise, so the past three and a half decades of wear and tear on my knees from full-contact martial arts doesn’t impede my ability to peddle.

There are a number of measurable benefits to cycling, including but not limited to;

  • increased heart health;
  • increased flexibility and blood flow;
  • muscle gain and joint mobility; and
  • weight loss stress reduction.

As long as you push and bike hard for at least 30 to 60 minutes, several days a week, you’ll get a good burn and see some noticeable results.

I stepped out of the house shortly after 3:30 p.m. and pulled my bicycle out of the garage. It had been sitting there all winter, so I knew I’d have to lubricate the chain and gears, as well as inflate the tires. The first two items went off without a hitch. I hit a hiccup on the third…

Using a small hand pump, I inflated the rear tire. When I moved to the front tire, I worked up a sweat trying to inflate it, to no avail. It was soft to the touch and had no firmness whatsoever (I just heard it, get your mind out of the gutter!) I started my car and plugged in a small emergency compressor that my father-in-law gave us for Christmas. I used it to inflate the front tire. Success!

That success was short-lived, as I could hear an audible hiss that resulted from the front tire deflating. I had a leak. This is not surprising, considering the bike was in the garage through the cold of winter, and rubber tends to crack under such conditions. I was pissed. Given the temperate weather, dry roads and the need for a workout, I was hell-bent on getting behind a handlebar.

I brought out my wife’s bicycle and repeated my prep cycle: lubricate the chain and gears and inflate the tires. No issues, and within minutes I was on the road. I pushed and peddled, all while singing along to Kenny Loggins’ “Nobody’s Fool” (It’s an awesome song, theme to Caddyshack II. Seriously, YouTube it!)

Once I started peddling, I felt it was hard to stop! I ended my run at just under 10 kilometres, feeling great! I think my wife may have lost her bike for the summer (at least until I can repair my front tire). Despite the current state of the world, there’s still plenty of opportunity to get some exercise and fresh air, so long as we stick to social distancing protocol. ☯

Pebble In The Pond

“Just As Ripples Spread Out When A Single Pebble Is Dropped In The Water, The Actions Of Individuals Can Have Far Reaching Effects.”

– Dalai Lama

One of the most important aspects of our existence is karma. Lots of folks refer to karma, usually in an angry context. “Karma will bite you in the ass” or “Karma will get you” are popular ones. People rarely concern themselves with their own karma or how to influence their own lives through their own actions. And I think it says something about modern society when we’re more concerned about someone else’s negative actions rather than our own.

Karma is the totality of everything you do in life, and the resulting energy that ultimately decides the outcome of your life and potentially future lives (if you subscribe to such beliefs). In layman’s terms, what goes around, comes around. So if you do bad, you get bad. If you do good, you may get good. Clear enough?

Another way to look at it is causality. Cause and effect. This is a phenomenon that describes that an action or event will result in the production of a new action or event, usually believed to have been at least partly caused by the original action or event. This means that every action has a result. So if you do something wrong or bad within the scope of your own existence, you’ll likely cause a negative result.

I find that a lot of people tend to do things on a whim, good or bad. And they’ll move on with their lives and forget about the things they’ve done, regardless of the result it may have had on someone else. This is a big part of the issues I’ve been dealing with in recent years. One person’s negative actions have caused immeasurable damage and chaos within my own life. But despite the fact they may have moved on and forgotten about the problems they’ve caused, eventually karma will catch up with them and everyone at some point needs to pay the piper.

As described in a movie I once watched about Bruce Lee’s life, you drop a pebble in a pond, you get ripples… Soon, the ripples cross the whole pond. I believe that the message was that your influence can be far reaching. However, it can also mean that any action on your behalf, good or bad, will affect other people. So make sure you make them positive. You never whose life you may damage. Or improve. ☯

Safety Starts At Home 🤕

If you happen to be a clumsy ox like me, you’re prone to injury at the best of times. My son seems to have inherited this trait (although he comes by it honestly from both his parents) and we often have “ouchies” that require the occasional bandaid, cold compress or disinfecting agent. I don’t remember the last time I went an entire week without walking into a wall, stubbing a toe or tripping over something that was sitting in plain sight. I suppose it’s weird that when the sparring gloves come on, I’m poetry in motion. But everyday activities make me look like a drunk rodeo clown.

One of the worst problems with injuries is you can often be faced with one that’s bad enough to require some attention but NOT bad enough to require a hospital visit. Or even if it requires a hospital visit, your injury and your mental state may be worsened by the impending wait you’ll face at the hospital. Because I can promise you that unless your skull is wide open and bleeding or you’re having a heart attack, your expected wait time at the ER in Canada can be hours.

For example, Nathan fell down the stairs about two years ago. He had a bruised eyes, a swollen lump at the front of his skull and a bleeding cut. Since he was only three years old and we were dealing with a fall down some stairs, we bundled him up into the car and rushed to the emergency room. We waited for almost four hours before we finally threw in the towel and came home and treated the injuries ourselves. And THAT involved a toddler falling down the stairs. Don’t panic, his energy levels were off the charts and we got him examined at a later time.

This is just one example of why it’s important to keep a properly stocked first aid kit in your home. Although you don’t want to absolutely spend a fortune on your kit (it’s all made of the same stuff at the end of the day), you may not want to skimp on the supplies either. You can usually find decent supplies at most retail outlets, especially if you live in a larger town. If you’re lucky and you have one of the bigger dollar stores, you can even find some decent first aid supplies there.

You can take the lazy route and buy a pre-packed kit. These are usually pretty basic and contain the general items needed to deal with an immediate injury until a medical professional or first responder reaches you. You can, however, put together your own kit. This allows you the option of customizing your kit with preferred items and/or items that may not be included in pre-packed kits. You just need to remember to replace and replenish items that may have been used or expired.

In my line of work, I usually recommended three basic items that HAD to be in a first aid kit: protective gloves, bandages/gauze and a one-way CPR mask. With those three items, you should be able to lend basic first aid to someone with minor to moderate injuries until first responders can reach you. Anything else in your kit is simply icing on the cake. A good pair of angled scissors are a good idea, in case you have to cut away clothing to access a wound or injury.

If you do buy a pre-packed kit, make sure you know what’s inside it before you purchase. For example, you can buy a small 3″ x 3″ plastic first aid case that will contain bandages, band-aids and tape for a little over $5. That’s about as basic as it gets. Or you can splurge on kits that have several hundred items and cost well over $100. It all depends on what you want to have available.

Personally, I have a solid kit that I purchased at my local retail outlet for about $20 and it contains a little over 100 items. I keep it in our cold room with our non-perishable food and supplies. I also took the liberty of purchasing added gauze and bandages, since the kit was in short supply. A small bottle of disinfecting agent is also a good idea, since most kits won’t contain any. I keep a smaller first aid kit, both in my personal car and the family SUV.

You can check out a composite list on the Canadian Red Cross website at https://www.redcross.ca/training-and-certification/first-aid-tips-and-resources/first-aid-tips/kit-contents?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxo_AxpG56AIV5f7jBx05kQwLEAAYASAAEgLfLPD_BwE

This webpage also provides a composite list for an emergency supplies list, which may not necessarily be first aid related, as well as an emergency car kit in case you become stranded or involved in a collision. It stands to reason that if you have the ability to be trained in basic first aid, you should also do so.

A good first aid kit can be extremely helpful in most environments. Since people with Diabetes have difficulties healing open wounds and are prone to infection, being able to treat injuries quickly and efficiently can mean the difference between a well-healed wound or getting your foot amputated. I’m being mildly dramatic (yes, mildly) but you get my point. ☯