Caffeine, Not For Every Situation…

There’s no denying that caffeine plays an important role in the daily grind of many people. Most will start their day by reaching for a steaming cup of joe… and will usually follow up by consuming two or three more cups throughout their day. I, personally start my day with an energy drink. I enjoy the fact that energy drinks are cold and can be consumed easier than hot coffee, first thing in the morning. And the B Vitamins sure add some kick to my day.

But as with all things in life, there’s good and bad to every situation. And the consumption of caffeine is obviously included among that concept. Recently, I’ve noticed that getting through a cardio workout after consuming an energy drink or coffee is difficult. I’ll often feel sluggish, start sweating long before hitting my peak and will be exhausted, even when I’m only at my halfway point. Are they just bad days? Maybe if it was only one of these on very rare occasions, but I’ve come to notice that I’ll usually have an energy drink on the go prior to the sluggish workouts in question. Is there a correlation?

I decided to look into if it was possible that a beverage meant to stimulate me and make me feel more awake and alert could be causing me to feel sluggish and affect my workouts. I found a bunch of different information, although the bare bones information didn’t make for a definite answer. This is why I won’t be citing any sources, since I couldn’t find anything certain. But here are some things I know about caffeine that could have something to do with it.

  1. Caffeine Can Dehydrate You: It’s no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine will cause dehydration. If you experience even mild dehydration, it can cause bodily pain, headaches, sluggishness and profuse sweating. Imagine all that WHILE trying to run, cycle or perform some level of cardio?
  2. Caffeine Is A Diuretic: Your workout will be cut pretty short if you have to take a piss every five minutes. Increased levels of caffeine will cause you to urinate frequently. And if it isn’t bad enough that blood sugar fluctuations will cause that to begin with, downing coffee or an energy drink before your workout may have the same effect.
  3. Coffee And Caffeinated Beverages Can Cause A Wide Variety Of Symptoms: Stomach pains, headaches and upset stomachs are only some of the symptoms you might experience while working out, if you’ve consumed significant caffeine beforehand.
  4. It Can Have An Effect On Your Heart Rate: Some people will feel an effect on their heart rate when they consume caffeine. This is one of the reasons why you’ll be told not to consume caffeine before a stress test or a fitness test. Imagine, for a moment that your heart rate can be measured on a scale of one to ten, where one is at rest and ten is where you die because your heart give out. Let’s assume that an average run gets you to a seven or an eight, depending on your age and overall health. This would be normal, right? Your heart rate will increase the more your exert yourself. But if consuming an energy drink or caffeine already gets you to a seven or an eight, then you add cardio on top of an already elevated heart rate, I’m sure you can do the math and see where the problem comes in.

As with all things, caffeine is best enjoyed in moderation. The key point for me, will be trying to resist the urge to gulp some caffeine before a run because I’m already feeling like shit. The lesson here is that all you have to do is get yourself going. Once you’re in the groove, you may find you perform just as well as you would with caffeine on board. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my caffeine. I may simply have to re-examine its use during my fitness routine. now if you’ll excuse me, it’s early and I need a coffee… ☯️

Sex & Cardio…

I’m definitely not one to shy away from tackling something that’s mildly on the taboo side. I’m not the most “risqué” writer, but I do like to occasionally take on subjects that would potentially be avoided by others. And although not the most NSFW topic you could potentially be reading today, I thought I would discuss the correlation between cardiovascular health and sex. It’s no secret that good cardiovascular health will help to avoid a bunch of heart-related medical issues, but did you know that sex will also help with this? Let’s see if we can discuss this topic like mature adults without having me crack any sarcastic jokes. Because that TOTALLY sounds like me. Moving on…

This is the part of the post where I throw out my usual disclaimer, explaining that I’m not a doctor or medical practitioner, have no formal training and base my writing on personal experience mixed with information gathered from reputable, peer-reviewed sites. Despite anything I may say or write in this post, you should DEFINITELY consult your medical practitioner or doctor before engaging in any new activity that could put a strain on your heart. And yes, that includes sex. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get on with it!

First of all, let’s consider the fact that there are a number of similarities between sex and cardiovascular exercise, or “cardio.” Sex is fun. If you haven’t had it, I highly recommend it. It’s an amazing coming together (hopefully) of two people, releases an amazing number and amount of endorphins and leaves you feeling relaxed and sleep easier when you’re done. It can also cause you to break a mean sweat, works every part of your body (when you do it right) and burns a wicked number of calories. Sex aside, does any of that sound familiar?

Cardio and exercise can also be fun. Some motivational tunes blaring in your ears, working up a great sweat and reaching a greater distance and/or speed than your previous workout will also leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed, tired but in a good way. Albeit without the “happy ending.” But I digress… The point is, there are similarities between what the body goes through during sex and what it goes through during cardio. Some might argue that in their younger years, one could easily cause the other and vice versa. Good for them.

Strictly from a personal standpoint as a Type-1 Diabetic male in his 40’s, there are a lot of issues behind the prospect of sex. Testosterone levels and blood circulation begin to decrease with age and Diabetes complications will aggravate both of those factors. This can make it difficult to keep everything up and coming *wink, wink*. But this is where the importance of good exercise comes in, whether you have Diabetes or not. And the importance of good, consistent sexual activity as well.

An article posted by John Hopkins says that, “Studies suggest that men who have sex at least twice a week and women who report having satisfying sex lives are less likely to have a heart attack.” The article goes on to say that, “Sex is a form of exercise and helps strengthen your heart, lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress and improve sleep.” That all sounds pretty f#$kin’ good to me… Almost just as important is the fact that consistent cardio will reproduce many if not all of these benefits, as well. Once again, without the happy ending. I just can’t let that go, can I?

So it stands to reason that sex can provide a plethora of health benefits, as also outlined by this list on WebMD. But when it comes to having Type-1 Diabetes and sex, sometimes a guy’s get-up-and-go has gotten-up-and-gone. It can be frustrating and potentially lead to complications in a relationship. This is where we reach a bit of a chicken and the egg scenario. And no, I’m not making a “who came first” joke… Jeeze, grow up guys! But good, consistent exercise will lower blood pressure, help control blood sugar levels, control cholesterol and increase your ability to reach and sustain a solid increase in heart rate safely, so that you can reach and sustain “other” things…

Ironically, if you already have heart issues, your libido may be taking a hit. Some doctors assess one’s cardiovascular health by asking some questions about their sexual libido, activities frequency. For people with Diabetics, arousal can be an issue due to poor circulation, which can be a problem for both men and women. Once again speaking for the male side of the equation, a noticeable lack in libido or sexual interest could point to a testosterone deficiency or something else that may be missing from the overall required recipe of one’s physiology.

The bottom line is that a strong sex life is healthy and will help sustain one’s health in much the same way as consistent cardiovascular exercise would. On the flip side, consistent and frequent cardio exercise may make it more likely that you’ll have the heart health and good blood circulation to park your Ferrari in it’s assigned stall… Ahem, cough, cough… I only have a few of those left in me, and the post is coming to an end, anyway. I apologize for my inability to grow up, but offer no apologies for my enjoying it. Once again, moving on…

For my Diabetic brothers and sisters, some advice I can offer through my many years of learning the hard way (there we go again, I didn’t even TRY that time and the pun came on its own. OMG, I just made a pun inside my pun…), is that communication is key. Even though a prospective partner may already know you have Diabetes, it doesn’t mean that he or she may necessarily understand what they’re in for and what COULD happen, if T1D decides to be a cock-block. Or a… What is the feminine version of “cock-block?” My point is, communication is important so that your prospective partner understands that it isn’t them, should your little soldier fail to “rise” to the occasion…

Further, like any exercise you may plan on doing, you should be prepared by ensuring you check your blood glucose and having some fast-acting carbohydrates and fluids available; a good idea during sex even if you AREN’T Diabetic. Exercise and staying hydrated will all be a help as well. So, what are you waiting for? Haven’t you been paying attention? Get out there and run a few miles so that you can have sex, damn it! I mean, work on your fitness for the sake of your heart health, of course. ☯️

A Little Monday Motivation…

No one would argue that I can get pretty wordy and my posts can run fairly long. That’s why I often enjoy simply sharing an image, motivational quote or something simple in order to offset that wordiness. After 1,010 posts, I’m sure there’s enough content to fill a book, if I had a mind to. I found this little gem while going through my photo folders looking for something else. I forgot I had it and I may have posted it before, but that’s okay. Content can always be fresh, taking into account new followers and readers.

I like this image because it makes a very solid point. Most people are quick to talk about all the things Diabetes causes. And they’re not wrong. Type-1 Diabetes causes more complications and difficulties than I can count. But it also creates fighters. Committed warriors who will fight against Diabetes with their last breath. I should know; I’m one of them. ☯️

Swing Low, Sweet Blood Sugars…

If you were to Google “hypoglycemia,” you would no doubt find several reputable, peer-reviewed web pages that will give you a list of symptoms that one might experience during low blood sugar. While this is so, it’s important to remember that every person is different and you can experience symptoms that are unique to you. So long as you’re able to recognize those symptoms for what they are, it’s all good.

A good example of this is how in my teens and twenties, I would realize I was experiencing low blood sugar because my tongue and face would go numb. It was a bit disconcerting at first, but once I made the connection and realized that this numbness signified low blood sugar, I even started treating without testing. Not a recommended practice, BTW. But it can be important if you’re caught up somewhere and can’t whip out a glucose monitor to test.

Recently, I found myself coming off of CGM by virtue of my medical insurance having a cap on “Diabetes equipment.” Not prescribed medications, mind you; just the equipment. So, infusion sets, reservoirs and non-medicated equipment items that keep the pump running and maintain better “time-in-range” blood sugar readings have a yearly cap that will only cover me for about three months of the calendar year. Swell.

Considering this coming April marks my Dia-birthday of 39 years, I’m no stranger to a bit of hard work when it comes to controlling one’s blood sugar levels. But I have to admit that I had become quite comfortable at wearing a device that measured my sensor glucose every five minutes and made micro-adjustments to maintain better time in range. Since coming off the CGM sensor, my blood sugars have been a violent roller coaster of highs and lows.

Oh, I’m wearing a Freestyle Libre, but the difference is that the Libre doesn’t monitor my sensor glucose on its own; I have to scan it intermittently to get a reading AND the pump won’t micro-bolus to adjust the way SmartGuard did while using CGM. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve pretty much guaranteed that my A1C’s in February will be a bag of smashed ass, thanks to my insurance company refusing to cover my equipment. It’s a sad world we live in when a proven, working therapy that maintains one’s life and keeps them alive needs to be paid for out of pocket. But such is life. It doesn’t care about one’s plan.

The point is, I’ve lost my vigilance when it comes to monitoring my blood sugars. One good example was yesterday morning. I woke to my alarm, as I usually do. But I felt like absolutely hell. I was groggy and confused about what I needed to do next and I couldn’t quite understand why i felt this way. I checked my sensor glucose and found myself sitting at 2.3 mmol/L. There was my answer…. I had to treat my low before I could do anything else but I couldn’t remember the last time I awoke to such a low. The point is that I felt absolutely zero symptoms of this low. In the past, I would have been awoken by low blood sugars.

I’m living proof that should you have the means and are considering pump therapy with SmartGuard and CGM, it makes a world of difference. I used to complain about the frequent alarms and finger pokes required to calibrate and such but now I’m seeing the difference in the quality of life and balanced blood sugars it provides. Now, I just need to find a way to afford the CGM sensors so that I can get back to that. Luckily, January is just around the corner and my benefits will renew for the year, so I’ll be able to enjoy a better quality of life for at least a few months until I figure all this out. ☯️

I Can “Sense” It…

It’s been about a week since I ran out of CGM sensors and transitioned back to Freestyle Libre. To provide some context, I recently found out that the health benefits at my new work only covers $1,000 worth of Diabetes equipment. Prescribed medications seem to be fine, but tangible “equipment” seems to have a cap on it. Imagine my surprise, when I got to the pharmacy to pick up my $360 worth of sensors only to be told I had to pay for them. I shouldn’t complain TOO much, since I know many people don’t have the benefit of, well… benefits!

My recently placed FreeStyle Libre

I remember the long-gone days of having absolutely no coverage and living by manually injecting two different types of insulin using pens and re-using the needles ad nauseam because I couldn’t afford to buy fresh ones. Don’t even get me started on how often I used a finger lancet before I changed it. Those were dark days, considering I had months where I couldn’t afford to insure my car because I had to choose between a vehicle or paying for Diabetes supplies.

Considering my posts over the past two days have been a bit on the morose side, I don’t want to necessarily focus on the negative. Once I joined the Force, I was blessed to have complete coverage without ever needing to worry about paying for something. The only exception was my eye injections, which required me to pay up front and be reimbursed later on. No big deal, right? My new coverage plan apparently has some limitations. Unfortunately, given the cost of pump supplies, this coverage maximum only provides for about three to four months of coverage.

I’m currently doing research to ascertain if I can obtain some type of external coverage to supplement these costs or else I may face the prospect of coming off pump therapy. This would be detrimental to my health, considering how well I’ve been doing and how nice my A1C’s have been. The only saving grace is that my benefits start back up at the beginning of the calendar year. So I really only need to make it through until January in order to get some coverage, albeit for only a few months.

My sensor glucose, first-thing in the morning

As seen from the image above, using a Freestyle Libre has some benefits and disadvantages. Unlike CGM, it requires my active involvement to read sensor glucose. The CGM would read glucose on its own every five minutes. The Libre lacks some precision where the CGM would provide much more precise readings and tether with the pump so that it can provide micro-boluses to accommodate rising blood sugars. Luckily, a free app that can be downloaded to my iPhone allows me to take readings without paying the approximately $65 for a reader that does the excat same thing.

Some of the benefits include the fact that unlike CGM, the Libre lasts for 14 days instead of 7. As to why CGM hasn’t caught up with that trend is beyond me, since it’s supposed to be more advanced. The other benefits is that a 1-month supply of Freestyle Libre is far cheaper than CGM (almost half the cost, in fact), making it easier for me to get by and pay out of pocket. The nice thing is that once I had switched to CGM I stock-piled some of the Freestyle Libres I had coming in, so I have more than enough to get me through until January.

My readings look a bit more chaotic when compared over 24 hours

My whole reason for upgrading to the Medtronic 670G was because of its supposed amazing sensor usage and SmartGuard technology. Despite the fact that there was nothing wrong with my previous pump (besides being over five years old and off warranty) I decided to try it and I wasn’t disappointed. Sometime last summer, I was slapped in the face with the lowest A1C reading I’ve had in decades: 6.9! My last one, which would have been in September, had crept back up to 7.4, but this was mainly attributed to the stresses associated with starting a new job and overseeing renovations of my basement.

Am I pleased to have dropped down to using Freestyle Libre again? No. Could it be worse? I hate it when people tell me this, but yes. Yes, it could be much, much worse. I still have control over my blood sugars, albeit with a little more effort. I’ll still maintaining my health and taking active steps to ensure that I manage myself properly. Hopefully when the dust settles and I manage to figure this out, it’ll be back to business as usual. Until then, I just have to appreciate what I have as opposed to complaining about what I don’t. ☯️

All The Colours Of The Alphabet, Part 2

Alright, so this is a continuation of yesterday’s post. If you haven’t read that one, I highly recommend that you do before reading this one. Should you choose not to, it can easily stand on its own as an individual post. But just to provide some context, in the past thirty years I’ve been diagnosed with ADD, OCD and PTSD. The difficulties and complications I’ve faced as a result of these letters attached to my name have been plentiful. When combined with Type-1 Diabetes, it pretty much means I won the bullshit lottery of life. But as most would agree, there are worse things in life.

I’ve often written about some of the worst things that you can say to someone with Type-1 and even type-2 Diabetes about their condition. And trust me, there a lot of things you shouldn’t ask or tell someone with Diabetes, although educating these folks is the key. But it recently dawned on me that there are a number of things that people have told me over the years that absolutely grates on my nerves, as it relates to ADD, OCD and PTSD. I thought it would be productive to provide the top five things you should never say or ask to someone with ANY of the conditions I’ve named herein:

  1. Can’t You Just Sit Still? No, asshole! I can’t! Next question… Seriously though, this one is the top of the list because it drives me absolutely nuts. If I could sit still, don’t you think I could? If I could sit without constantly clicking my nails, playing with the hem of my jeans or constantly surveying the room I’m in and needing to have my back against a wall, I would. But I can’t, by virtue of ADD and OCD but forced upon me by PTSD. Moving on…
  2. It’s All In your Head… Umm, yeah. No shit! This one is actually correct, although not in the context that it’s intended. All of my acronyms are part of who I am and are, in fact, in my head. PTSD has been proven to alter one’s brain activity and causes a measurable injury to one’s brain. ADD and OCD can cause severe anxiety in the involved person, as well it feeling as though it’s beyond our physical capability to stop doing certain things that we do, including but not limited to trying to live in a clean and neat environment, compulsively repeating certain behaviours as well as dealing with the recurring trauma by inadvertent triggers in the general public. These things aren’t anyone’s fault but still cause damage and makes a sufferer’s life all the more difficult.
  3. Maybe You Should Just Let It Go… Oh, this one is like the shit that has nuts in it! Picture holding someone in your arms as they die and you’re the last thing they see as the light of light extinguishes from their eyes. Picture spending HOURS searching for a victim’s leg on the snowy highway before a coroner will allow the body to be removed. Picture staying by a man in his 20’s bedside for several hours because he attempted suicide and failed, leaving him with no face, no ears and no mouth and you’re the only one at his bedside as he faces death with no contact to the outside world. It took him over six hours to finally die… These are not things one can let go. And they are NOT something one can forget. And they are NOT things that any human should have to suffer through or witness.
  4. It’s Just Their Excuse To Drink… Mmmm, no! Unfortunately, since there’s no cure for PTSD, it’s left a lot of sufferers trying to find solace in things like alcohol or elicit drugs. Although these aren’t ideal, they’re often the only recourses for someone stuck in a serious funk because of their condition. War veterans who have historically and recently found themselves without work, seeming to suffer from mental health disorders and alcoholism suffer from PTSD and are usually misjudged by the public. They aren’t lazy, unwilling to work or trying to live a hobo life. They’re simply so deep into their condition that they can’t find a way out. At least not on their own.
  5. It’s No Excuse… Maybe not. And this one hits close to home for me, because I’ve always made a point of trying NOT to use my conditions as an excuse for anything I do. But for some people, a lot of people, they can’t help the compulsions they feel and have to act one. When someone suffers from extreme PTSD and succumbs to it, they can harm not only themselves but others. This is where it becomes important to recognize those signs and be able to remove themselves from that scenario, especially for family members.

ADD, OCD and PTSD are still widely misunderstood and often misdiagnosed conditions, even in modern times. The latter is probably the most prominent in my life and causes me issues and challenges t overcome on a daily basis. It’s at times like this that I’m grateful for martial arts as well as Buddhist and meditative training. they’ve gone a long way towards helping me to maintain myself and prevent issues within my own life. But it isn’t without challenge. Loud and constant noise, such as that created by my children for example, tend to create a static inside my head that I can’t fight off.

If you question or doubt someone’s personal situation on the basis of some mental health related, be sure you know what you’re talking about before you comment. Even though you may be commenting from a place of concern or maybe even exasperation, your comments can have damaging repercussions. Asking why they AREN’T doing something can be far worse than asking what YOU can do. Sometimes it can mean just leaving the person be. Sometimes, they may actually need help with something. Everyone is facing a battle others won’t know about. At the end of the day, helping and healing should take precedence over questions and judgments. Food for thought… ☯

All The Colours Of the Alphabet, Part 1

To say that my childhood had an interesting variety of bullshit would be an understatement. On the one side, I got to spend the majority of my childhood in various hospitals for both myself and my brother. Being there for myself was better. When I was there for my brother, I got to face the potential that we were there because he would die. I learned from a young age to sit still, be quiet and wait for the storm to pass. Having learned to sit still is a bit of an irony…

From a young age I seemed to find myself unable to sit still for extended periods of time, my mind would drift away from the matter at hand and I was always living life with my head in the clouds and preferred not to pay attention to the realities of life. This made sense when you factored in my health complications and my brothers. A world of make-believe was obviously better than dealing with the multiple comas I suffered through due to Diabetes or the constant threat of death my brother faced due to the multiple health conditions he faced.

But soon after my seventh birthday, I attended a doctor’s appointment that changed my life. I thought I was getting a check-up because of my Diabetes, which I had learned to zone out and let the adults talk. Turns out that was part of the problem; this appointment was the day I was diagnosed with ADD. ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder, is usually diagnosed when a child’s school work begins to suffer as a result of lack of attention, impulsive behaviour and hyperactivity. That last one never really applied to me but I found myself frequently unable to sit still for longer than a few seconds at a time (a problem I still face as an adult).

Being the stubborn French-Acadian woman that she is, my mother refused to allow the doctor to prescribe any mood-altering medications often associated with ADD by virtu of the fact she had to watch my older brother shovel a dozen different prescriptions down his throat every day. She felt the risk of how new meds would affect my blood sugars far outweighed the benefit of “calming me down.” I’m grateful to her for that, but it still made for a difficult childhood and even my teens years. It would get WORSE once I hit my teens…

Worse, you say? How could it possibly get worse? Well, my attention issues became compounded by certain compulsive behaviours. On their own, one wouldn’t think much of them. As a combined totality, I was soon diagnosed with OCD, or Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviour. Contrary to what most people believe, OCD doesn’t just involve a compulsive need to clean things. It can involve annoying and intrusive obsessions, repetitive behaviours and strict routines that can cause wicked anxiety if they aren’t adhered to.

One good example is my inability to purchase only ONE of something, when the special indicates that you can get two for the price of something. The urge is stronger than I can overcome. I do have some cleaning and neatness compulsions that piggy-back on my many ticks and compulsions. That doesn’t make it better. I’m jus’ sayin’… Even though OCD isn’t genetically inherent, it’s a good time to point out that my mother has full-blown signs of OCD, cleaning and neatness compulsions. My grandmother was so bad that she’d walk by sliding on two squares of paper towel for a full week after cleaning her floor.

Then I decided I need to do my part for the world and train to protect others. As a result, I spent thirteen years working as a police officer. The population as a whole have a love/hate relationship with the police. Some see them as an important part of keeping our society safe. Others see them as part of the problem. No matter which side of the balance you happen to find yourself, I shouldn’t need to explain that we’re often subjected to situations that can cause severe damage to a person’s psych. that’s where the next acronym comes in: PTSD.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is defined differently depending on the source you read. For the most part, it involves having a person exposed to traumatic events, sustained violence or threats of injury or death. Although a bit biased, I would say that policing puts one in this context, easily. I won’t get into some of the situations I’ve lived through during my policing career, as reminding myself of them is problematic. But some of the things I’ve seen and experienced haunt me years later, cause nightmares and trigger me at the worse possible times. Like the way being in a crowded restaurant sets my brain on fire. But I digress…

Over the years, I’ve been “blessed” with having all these acronyms attached to who I am as a person. They’ve provided significant challenge and combining the three has made a fantastic milkshake of difficulty and complications that I struggle with from week to week. It makes it difficult to sleep, difficult to deal with large public masses of people and exceptionally difficult to want to do anything outside the house (with some exceptions).

Before I get too maudlin here and spoil the mood (if I haven’t already), the reason I bring all of these up is that the last ten years or so have seen some fantastic strides in recognizing these conditions as something genuine and not just “all in one’s head.” ADHD, OCD and PTSD have come to be acknowledged as actual conditions and not just something that one needs to treat by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Despite these strides, there’s still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding associated with these acronyms. It makes one’s life difficult, in work, leisure and home life. How it’s perceived by public carries a lot of weight to how society chooses to understand these conditions. Food for thought and more to come… ☯

It’s Not All Bad, It’s About Control…

I’ve done a pretty good job at bashing my vices in the past couple of weeks. Self-improvement is never a BAD thing, so long as it doesn’t come at the cost of being who you are. With that in mind, I have recently discontinued the practice of purchasing cigars, I’ve reduced/eliminated my caffeine intake in my usual ways and I’ve cut out alcohol, except for on the rare occasions that one of my friends may invite me out for a beer to socialize (which hasn’t happened in a while).

The caffeine aspect has been the harshest, since I’ve stopped purchasing the energy drinks that have become a staple of my morning routine for the past few years. I’ll still enjoy a coffee once I get to the office, but that lack of the energy drink has left my body bitching up a storm the likes of a crack addict on withdrawals. It sucks. I haven’t really missed the cigars, which makes sense. It’s getting colder outside, and I have no inside venue in which to enjoy one. And it wasn’t the one or two cigars a month that could genuinely be considered a vice.

The alcohol aspect has been the interesting one. I’ve always prided myself on moderation and consuming certain forms of alcohol by virtue of flavour and not to become intoxicated. Since it had been about a month since I had consumed ANY alcohol, I decided to treat myself a few days ago with a bottle of cognac. I had just watched Van Damme’s Double Impact and I was itching to try it out. If you haven’t seen Double Impact, I highly recommend it. Great movie. Van Damme plays twins and one of them lives in Hong Kong, making a living peddling French cognac. I’m suggestible, so of course I had to try it.

The good news is that like most pure spirits, cognac is carb-free, meaning I could enjoy a glass of it without worrying about bolusing. The big problem with consuming alcohol when you have Diabetes, is it may not only be about dosing yourself with insulin. Different sources will provide different effects but the reality is that alcohol can either raise or actually lower your blood sugar, depending on how you react to it.

Because alcohol need to be processed by the liver and keeps it occupied, the liver may find itself unable to release glycol to help keep your blood sugars up. This can result in a significant drop in blood sugars and can catch on you quickly, if you aren’t monitoring yourself. In other cases, you may spike. This will happen when you consume something that isn’t a pure spirit. Beer for example, contains anywhere from 10 to 25 grams of carbohydrates per can or bottle. It can be tedious and difficult to bolus appropriately as you consume, especially if you’re not sure of how many carbs are actually in the beer you’re drinking.

Red wine, on the other hand, will only have between 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrates PER BOTLLE! And no, I’m not suggesting you sit back and suck down an entire bottle, I’m simply illustrating the difference, based on the drink you’re consuming. It can be hard to calculate, but there are a number of fitness apps and websites out there that will actually provide an estimate of how many grams of carbs may be in what you’re consuming.

If you want to be REALLY sure, reach out to your local distributor or the manufacturer of the drink you plan to consume. When I was still observing the tradition of doing Fireball shots on the anniversary of graduating from basic training, I contacted the company that actually makes the drink and found out that it sits at about 11 grams per standard shot. That makes for a lot of bolusing in a two or three hour period. Hey, it’s “flavoured corn whisky.” One has to expect that it would be sweet and sugared to high-hell.

Diabetes Canada has a great PDF document that I’ve used a lot in recent years, and you can find it here. I particularly like the last page, which provides a basic outline of carbohydrate amounts for standard alcoholic drinks. It’s only a basic guideline and you should always try and get confirmation of the specific amount contained in what you’re drinking. It can mean the difference between enjoying a couple of casual drinks with your friends or spending the night trying to lower or raise your blood sugars.

The reason I bring it up and why this is important is because we’re a couple of weeks away from hitting December, when the holidays will be just around the corner and potential celebrations and family get-togethers may happen. And with that comes the consumption of alcohol. Not always, obviously. but if you have Diabetes, it’s an important consideration.

Moderation is key, folks. Most people have been calling me crazy for quitting all these things at once. And maybe I am. granted, I did try that cognac, but it wasn’t great. I won’t be getting it again. But as we move into the holiday season, the Diabetes mantra remains the same: exercise, eat properly and monitor your blood sugars often. And enjoy in moderation. ☯️

Take A Break And Relax With This Post

Given the hectic demands of modern family life, it can be pretty easy to forget that it’s important to take time for yourself. In most cases, we get so tangled up in the requirements of our daily grind that we tend to overlook our own self-care and care of our home. I can relate to how easy that can be. For example, one of the few “benefits,” if they can really be called that, of the pandemic quarantine when everyone was pretty much sequestered to their home, is that I had far more time to do some reading, writing, playing the daily challenges on some games and playing with my kids. With some aspects of society slowly returning to normal, that extra time has disappeared and my ability to self-care seems to have disappeared with it.

Taking breaks and finding the time to relax is important. Because as they say, you can’t help or take care of others until you’ve taken care of yourself. Don’t ask me who “they” are, I have no clue. But this is a very true fact and it applies to work, leisure and family life. If one doesn’t take the time to let one’s head cool, it gets difficult if not altogether impossible to properly manage one’s daily grind and responsibilities.

Work is a great example. Any productive job will be a roller coaster of busy-ness. one week may be pretty tame and you have plenty of time to catch up on things and the next week will feel like the job is literally trying to drive you to drink from all the added pressure. And that’s why, even when it’s busy, you can and SHOULD take time for coffee breaks and step away from the computer. Whether you actually get coffee or not is irrelevant. The act of walking away from your computer or work for even fifteen minutes gives you the opportunity to recharge, get some fresh air and will actually increase one’s productivity.

Some there are and those are they, who are often inclined to believe that taking a break when they’re busy will cause the work to grind to a halt or make things worse. But let’s be realistic, here…. The work will still be there whether you take the break or not. Fifteen minutes won’t make a measurable amount of difference in the workload BUT it may make a measurable difference in your productivity. And that’s where the important difference lies.

The same applies to your home life. Maybe you have work to do at home. Maybe you have a spouse who needs your attention. Maybe you’re a parent and have to help your kids with homework and play with them. It can seem pretty daunting, especially if you work long hours, do shift work or usually end up needing to bring some work home with you. By the time the family meal is done and everything is cleaned up and you’ve squared away the kids, you’re likely too tired to commit yourself to work.

It can be all the more difficult if your life includes anything extra. Let’s use an example like, oh, I don’t know…karate! Although an experienced practitioner can train at home, it stands to reason that most students need to attend class. Finding time to do so with everything I’ve described can be a bit difficult, especially if you know that stuff is piling up and waiting for you. Not to mention that despite the fact that those activities are important to you, your family may not understand and often resent your absence.

That’s why communication is important and integral, in both personal and work circumstances. Most of the time, unless you’re being radically unreasonable, communicating and explaining your needs will go a long way towards helping others understand what you need to take better care of yourself. Once that communication has been achieved, you can work on some self-care, which in turn will help you to better help others.

Although I totally understand that it’s often easier said than done, take your breaks. Indulge in some self care. No matter the time constraints, the workload or the home responsibilities, you owe it not only to yourself but to everyone in your entourage to ensure that you’re refreshed, relaxed and can give them your best you. Working or stressing yourself into an early grave is pointless. After all, you only live once. That we know of…😉 Food for thought…☯️

I Think I Need More Coffee To Write This Post…

Ah, coffee…. I try to imagine how different my life would be without caffeine. I don’t think I like it. But in all seriousness, caffeine plays an important role in many people’s daily routine. I remember consuming coffee for the first time when I went to college. To be honest, I remember thinking that it didn’t seem to be doing much to lift the tired fog from my mind. But then again, I also had blood sugars to contend with AND the college’s cafeteria coffee was mostly brown and water. So, there’s that…

More than half a decade would pass and energy drinks had become a new trend, although I had never tried them. Then one day, a Red Bull representative came knocking (not literally) while I was managing a big box pharmacy. The company had agreed to provide some shelf facings for the product to be displayed and the rep wanted to offer me a sample so that I would be able to speak to the product’s quality, flavour and effectiveness. When I mentioned I had Type-1 Diabetes, he surprised me by offering me a can of sugar-free Red Bull. It was all down hill from there…

Over the years, caffeine has played an integral role in my effectiveness in karate, work and even my personal life. I’ll admit there are a few times I may not have made it home if I hadn’t downed a cup of coffee before getting behind the wheel. For the past 20 years or so, I’ve had a roller coaster relationship with caffeine, often trying to quit at the most inopportune times (like taking a course or travelling for long distances). So, what is the good, the bad and the ugly of coffee?

According to an article by Healthline.com, caffeine actually works due to its effect on the brain. It “functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired.” Well… f$%k me…. Here, I thought it just jacked up one’s heart rate, causing increased blood flow, which makes you more alert. See, even an old dog like me can learn new tricks. Moving on…

Caffeine can kick in quickly with the average cup of coffee often taking only about 20 minutes to kick in. Another article by Healthline.com lists a number of benefits related to caffeine consumption, including but not limited to improved energy and reaction times, weight loss, improved physical performance, protections from certain health conditions (including Type-2 Diabetes) and coffee just happens to be very high in antioxidants, making it the ideal beverage to consume on a daily basis.

You’re probably thinking, “Alright, Shawn…. What’s the other side of the coin? You never list all the benefits of something without listing what’s bad…”. Well first of all, thank you for paying attention. I love that shit. Secondly, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks.” Bear in mind that exact amounts vary from drink to drink and the key words are “most” and “healthy.” But we’ll get to that…

Drinking more than what’s basically indicated in the article can lead to side effects including but not limited to:

– Headaches;
– Insomnia;
– Nervousness;
– Irritability;
– Frequent urination;
– Fast heartbeat; and
– Muscle tremors.

I don’t know about you, but none of those sound like a spa treatment. Not least of which is the fact that caffeine can be addicting. You start by consuming a cup in the morning before work and months later, you’re downing a full POT while getting ready for work, then grab an extra large through the drive-thru on your way to work, followed by more coffee during coffee break. And that’s all before 10 am…. I may or may not be speaking from experience.

For the most part, energy drinks have become my go-to caffeinated drink and have been for the past few years. This is for a number of reasons, including the fact that it’s cold and I can get it down my gullet way faster than a hot coffee. there’s also a slightly higher caffeine content than your average cup of coffee, which can help when you’ve spent had the night up due to your insulin pump or fluctuating blood sugars keeping you up. There’s also the fact that energy drinks usually carry a whole bunch of extra stuff on board, like increased B vitamins and minerals.

The down side is that depending on the energy drink, you can find yourself consuming ingredients that could affect blood sugar levels. Further, besides making your urine a weird fluorescent colour, you start getting addicted and needing the additional stuff you get out of energy drinks. So, it’s important to mindful. Why is this important? Well, I usually only allow myself the luxury of energy drinks because I get them on special at my local corner store for cheaper than a cup of coffee. Otherwise, cheap, stubborn Shawn won’t buy them. Last Thursday, I went into the store and noticed they weren’t on special so I didn’t buy any. It’s been a few days. I fear for society’s well-being…

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with caffeine consumption, provided you don’t take in more than what’s recommended and safe for you and that the side effects don’t outweigh the benefits. If you find yourself experiencing some of the side effects listed above, it may be a sign that you need to cut back. We’ll see how long I hold out without my daily energy drink. Just one more vice to work on…☯️