Time To KID Around, Part 2 (The Diabetes Aspect)

Have you ever tried to explain to a young child what Diabetes is? Not an easy task, especially when you take all the good, the bad and the ugly into consideration. My biggest fear when Nathan was born was the possibility that in a few short years, he would be diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes himself and would have to deal with many of the same difficulties that I had. Since Type-1 Diabetes does involve an inherently genetic component, it’s a very real fear and one that I wasn’t looking forward to having him deal with.

Those fears were somewhat put to rest a year or two ago when we had him tested and found no issues with his immune system and insulin production. We were warned that there was still a few years of risk involved, but as it stood he was free and clear. Now, if we can be so lucky with his younger brother, Alex, I’ll be a happy camper. Dealing with the disease affected and altered my childhood in ways that I can’t help but make me wonder how life might have been different for me if I HADN’T been diagnosed. But I digress…

I don’t think I need to point out how many moving parts and components there are to the effective daily control of Type-1 Diabetes. It can be overwhelmingly irresistible for a young child to see all the equipment and electronics involved and they’ll no doubt want to touch, see and play with everything there. The important part is to be honest and not try to sugar-coat any of the details (see what I did there?).

In Nathan’s case, I’ve always been very honest and explained everything in plain language. One of the unexpected benefits to that level of honesty, is that he’s been exposed to seeing blood drawn since the day he was born. I consider this a benefit because he doesn’t have the same fear of blood that most other children do, be it mine or his own. He’ll acknowledge pain, of course. But if he’s bleeding, the blood in and of itself isn’t an issue for him.

I remember dating a girl who already had a son that was about Nathan’s age now. And if he’d scrape his knee and a bit of blood would show, he’d basically blow up and have a panic attack. Although one can understand that children view things differently than adults, even I have to admit that it was a bit much. That’s why I’m happy that Nathan has grown to be desensitized to certain things as a result of having a Diabetic father.

The biggest challenge I’ve face with Nathan, and now his brother Alex, is my insulin pump. When you have a baby sitting in your lap and he’s looking around and grabbing at everything in sight, an infusion set can be a temptation for those little hands. It took a bit of time as well as trial and error, for Nathan to understand bot to touch “Daddy’s Ouchy,” and to leave the pump alone.; something that I am now working at making Alex understand, as well.

The important thing, as I mentioned earlier, is to use plain language and explain things as they actually are. Nathan has seen photos of a pancreas, he knows it helps with the regulation of glucose in the blood through the release of insulin and he’s aware that my pancreas no longer produces insulin, which is why I need to have it artificially injected through the pump. He’s also made his peace with the fact that certain fast-acting sugared goods are for Daddy only, when my blood sugar drops. He’s not a fan of that last one, but he gets it.

Nathan has held all of my Diabetic equipment and supplies in some way, shape or form and has even had the opportunity to press buttons on my pump (with my guidance) in order to see what everything does. By doing this and ensuring his understanding, there’s less risk of him sneaking into my desk and messing around with my Diabetes equipment. But the nice thing is that although he doesn’t like them, Nathan has less fear of needles than the average kid, since he’s been around them and has watched me injecting myself since he was born. Educating is always better than forbidding. ☯

Because It Can’t All Be About The Meat…

In the past year, I’ve tried a wide assortment of meat alternatives and veggie based alternatives that I never would have considered, even just a few years ago. I still favour my Mushroom Swiss Burger from FatBurger and I can’t see myself ever swaying from it. But I would be lying if I said that vegetables aren’t loaded with a wide variety of health and nutritional benefits that make adding them to your meal a good idea. I usually favour a cruciferous option, like broccoli or brussel sprouts. But I seem to be the only one in the household who likes them. I know brussel sprouts are pretty universally hated, but sprinkle a bit of cheese on some broccoli? Fuggedaboutit…

As I have a firm belief in the balance of things, I like to point out how there’s inherently a good and a bad side to all things. We already know that vegetables can provide vitamins, minerals and nutrients that some other foods may not. And there’s certainly the benefit of feeling full for longer that comes with having plenty of green on your plate, steering one away from over eating and helping with the reduction of your total daily caloric intake. But what about veggie-based meat alternatives?

A balance can be important if you’re trying to control say, oh I don’t know… your carbohydrate intake so that you can maintain better blood sugars… From a fitness standpoint, vegetables are important for a variety of reasons besides what they provide your body for building and healing muscles tissue and there are also some vegetables that will help you to sleep and digest better. If you’re looking to replace some of the meat in your diet with an alternative, it would be helpful if you gained all these benefits in the process, right?

If we get to the meat and potatoes of it (see what i did there?), some of the meat alternatives mentioned in the opening paragraph may not be all they’re cracked up to be. And this is where the BAD side of things comes in. I’ve written about this before but as I’ve tried different things, I think it’s pretty important to recognize the potential pitfalls of trying to replace everything in your diet with a vegetarian alternative. Here’s a short list of things to bear in mind when purchase veggie-based meat alternatives at the supermarket:

  1. They’re Loaded With Preservatives: This is the first and probably the top one. Anything you eat that’s been mass-produced and sold at the supermarket will go through some sort of processing that will involve preservatives in some given way, shape or form. Without getting into the specifics surrounding potential pesticides used for crops, you can be certain that real vegetables and real cuts of meat won’t have all these preservatives, making them the better option. There are a number of negative effects to the over-consumption of preservatives, including some forms of cancer. No, I’m not trying to say that eating these meat-alternatives will give you cancer! Simply that excess preservatives have been long found to be bad for the body. Moving on…;
  2. They’re Also Packed With Salt: I’ve often written about the importance of checking the nutritional label when eating something packaged. People rarely consider the amount of sodium they may be eating when consuming something “healthy,” and portion sizes are often not proportionate with how much a person would actually eat. I learned this lesson the hard when, in an effort to reduce the amount of carbs I consume in a day, I was starting my morning with a mug of chicken broth. Sounds like a warm, reasonable way to start the day. But the portion size is usually about half a cup of vegetable broth, which accounts for roughly 25% of your daily sodium intake. Once I’ve guzzled down a full mug, I’ve already packed on well more than half of my daily intake of sodium and it’s first thing in the morning. And speaking of carbs…;
  3. They’re Full Of Carbs: I was pretty excited about six months ago when I found a package of buffalo “chicken” bites that were made with cauliflower. They tasted even better, which made me believe I had found a healthy alternative to eating platefuls of buffalo bites made of chicken, which happens to be my next food addiction after burgers. Then I realized that despite being made from vegetables, the bites had almost double the amount of carbohydrates than traditional chicken bites. It probably didn’t help that they were battered. Not so great for a Type-1 Diabetic who’s trying to control blood sugars and the amount of carbs he’s taking in!
  4. They Can Cost A LOT: Processing and packaging food that’s been prepared in any particular given way gets costly, and that cost is usually reflected in the item’s price point. It’s made all the worse when you have to make something look like something else. Have you seen the chicken nuggets made from vegetables? I swear, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, based on appearance. The point is, a small box of cauliflower buffalo bites will usually cost about as much as a traditional box of buffalo chicken bites, making them ridiculously costly.

So the big question is, are these veggie-based alternatives better for you? From an overall and Diabetic standpoint, the answer is a resounding NO. You’ll end up taking in as many carbohydrates, if not more than your traditional versions and you’ll pay more for it, to boot. Watching your sodium intake is quite important when you have Diabetes, as proper kidney health is always a concern at the best of times. The only way to balance the scales (except for the cost aspect) would be to eat significantly less of the alternatives, which could potentially leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied.

On the flip side, if you’re okay with eating small amounts at a time and you’re looking for a veggie-based alternative snack, they can be okay. So long as you bolus correctly for them and take the sodium into account. The long and short of it (let’s be honest, I always go for the long…) is that you’re better off having yourself a plate of carrot or celery sticks with a touch of ranch dip, a hot bowl of broccoli with cheese sprinkled on top or even a bowl of boiled Brussel sprouts with a touch of melted butter and pepper. Any of those will be far healthier, satisfy you and make you feel full for longer, whether you have it as a snack or part of your meal, and you’ll get all the included benefits without any of the preservatives. ☯

Letting Me Off My Leash, Free-Range Diabetic

I don’t think I need to explain that people take most common, everyday things for granted. I experience this a lot because despite the advancements I’ve lived through in the past 38 years, it’s difficult to move around without a SIGNIFICANT amount of supplies. The fact that I’m fed up of it likely makes it sound way worse than it is. But eventually, a guy gets tired of carrying around a man purse just so that he can run some errands throughout the morning without concern. The “for granted” aspect comes in because most people fail to recognize how lucky they are to be able to just step out of the house with abandon.

A week ago, I decided that I would sit through a specific bus route that I would be using for work. This was so that I could time out my entry into the city in the mornings without the concern of being late. Alexander was napping, Nathan was gone to school and my wife was hard at work in front of her own computer, so I felt it was a good opportunity to go out for an hour or two. I started to pack my usual shoulder sling of supplies, when a wave of impatience struck me and I decided to go in a different direction.

I tested my blood. Perfectly normal with no insulin “on board.” Good. I took some sinus medication so that I wouldn’t suffocate through the wearing of a mask in public for a couple of hours. Excellent. That shit’s supposed to last a few hours, anyway. I had my wallet and identification, and I grabbed a face mask and stepped out the door. I waited a matter of minutes at the bus stop and after a 22-minute bus ride, I was in the downtown core and stepping into the local shopping centre.

Not my mall, by the way. I didn’t want to be the creepy dude snapping photos in the mall.

I spent about an hour and a half downtown, walking around and browsing through some of the shops before grabbing the bus for the return journey. My blood sugars didn’t bottom out, I didn’t die and I didn’t find myself needing anything that I would usually pack and drag along. It felt really nice, being able to just step out of the house and go somewhere. It felt “non-diabetic.” I’d like to say it felt normal, but I’ve had Type-1 Diabetes for so damn long that being Diabetic feels normal to me.

I’ve managed to compress what I carry throughout the course of a day into one small, single-shouldered sling and it usually contains the following:

  • Fast-Acting Carbohydrates: I favour jellybeans as they seem to work fastest for me;
  • Nasal Spray: I’ve had some mild sinus issues since childhood and occasionally need a spritz. Wearing a face mask also makes it harder to breathe;
  • Blood Glucose Meter: Besides the fact that my insulin pump seems to be a temperamental bitch who screams at me every couple of hours despite smooth blood sugars, frequent blood sugar testing is still required to ensure the proper calibration of my CGM. Plus, should there be an issue with the CGM, I need to have the ability to properly ascertain my blood sugar levels; and
  • Extra Supplies: This is a broad one, but it can involve anything, including spare pump supplies, extra insulin or added lancets and strips. There can be a lot more, depending on the situation.

Most of the time, it’s just for when I go out. But realistically, when I travel to Saskatoon overnight, I often opt for something small and portable to carry. Considering I travel up, get the injections, sleep it off then drive right back down the following day, I make a point not to pack a huge suitcase. There are no nights out on the town, requiring extra clothing or special stuff. But when I make a point to stop and take notice, I really never leave the house without bringing a whole shwack of crap! This comes from years of situations where I’ve developed a “better to have it and not need it” mentality, as it relates to Diabetes.

It felt nice to be out for a few hours without dragging a bunch of stuff. I almost felt normal, walking among people. Note that I said “almost.” Besides, as I said earlier, I’ve had Diabetes for so long that it seems normal to ME. I can hear some friends thinking, “Shawn? Normal…?” Come on, guys! Give me a break! I’m about as normal as I’m ever going to get. But seriously, if you’ve ever had a friend text you to randomly go for coffee or you’ve decided to go sit through a movie on a whim, appreciate that freedom for what it is. There are so many things that a Type-1 Diabetic needs to consider before leaving the house that it almost makes it tedious to do so. Don’t take the little freedoms for granted. Sometimes, they’re the best ones. ☯

Let’s Take A Break… Fast!

People tend to have bad habits in their daily routine. And very few people are the exception. Hell, I have many bad habits that I often TRY to avoid but I would lying if I said that my efforts are often half-hearted. But a VERY bad habit that people have is skipping breakfast. Now, I’ve written posts about the importance of breakfast before and whether or not it genuinely is the “most important meal of the day.” On the home front, the jury is still out but there certainly are important benefits to ensuring that you consume that first meal of the day upon waking up.

The whole point behind the breakfast meal is to do just that: break your fast. And as most of you already know, a “fast” is a period of time where you don’t eat. When you hear of someone “fasting,” it’s usually associated with a LONG period of time often for medical or dietary reasons. But the reality is that we fast every night, from the moment we go to bed until we wake up in the morning. Unless you compulsively snack at night. Which is another bad habit. Which I also occasionally have. My point is that breakfast is intended to be the first meal of your day that breaks your overnight fast, hence the term “breakfast.”

You may be thinking, “Why is this cheeky mother-f%&ker giving us the definition of breakfast?” Well, simply to impress upon you the importance of starting your day with a proper meal. The take-home lesson is that you should have your breakfast within an hour or two of waking up as it will be the first batch of vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body receives after a period of fasting. You should also think of it as refilling the fuel tank for your engine after it’s emptied itself out.

According to a good article on WebMD, “Skipping the morning meal can throw off your body’s rhythm of fasting and eating. […] If your body doesn’t get that fuel from food, you may fell zapped of energy — and you’ll be more likely to overeat later in the day.” The article goes on to say that your breakfast doesn’t need to be huge, but should include a variety of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and fibre.

However, an article posted by HealthLine.com seems to have an opposing view in that they claim that there is no evidence that breakfast eaters are healthier, that eating breakfast boosts your metabolism for the day and that in fact, skipping breakfast can have some benefits for folks who do intermittent fasting. It’s unusual for me to find a topic where those two sources oppose each other, but it’s kind of refreshing. The article caps off by explaining that breakfast is optional, won’t boost your metabolism and doesn’t automatically lead to weight gain and obesity. Basically, if you don’t find yourself hungry when you wake up in the morning, there’s no need to eat.

I’ll be the first one to agree that every person is different. Actually, I’ve written about that very thing on more occasions than I can recall. So although it may be true that skipping your first meal of the day is a matter of choice, it may not be the smart one for everyone. And this is where the Diabetic aspect of this post comes in. If you have Type-1 Diabetes, skipping a meal can be problematic. Especially if your insulin’s basal rates and your specific condition requires you to eat, first thing in the morning. You may wake up extremely high or low blood sugar.

Although I’m a big believer that a person with Diabetes can do anything that a non-Diabetic can, intermittent fasting is possible but problematic and skipping meals will skew your blood sugar control. And despite what any source material may say, I believe it’s critically important for all people to start their day with a good hit of nutritional fuel to start your day. It may not stroke your metabolism and may not affect your weight, but it helps to guarantee you won’t have that “early-morning slump” because of an empty stomach.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the jury is still out on whether or not breakfast is the MOST important meal of the day. But it’s safe to say that it is IMPORTANT. Most people unfortunately tend to skip breakfast because they’re rushing off to work or taking care of their children before taking care of themselves. Personally, I usually enjoy a toasted english muffin with a slice of cheese. Some carbs and protein, doesn’t fill me to bursting and gets me on my way. It can be just as simple as that. And speaking of which, look at that! It’s breakfast time… ☯

Sleep Is For Wimps Anyway, Right?

I harsh on the complications associated with Diabetes a LOT, and usually with good reason. There’s a whole bunch of shit that usually happens when a person has Type-1 Diabetes, especially if it’s uncontrolled. Even when it IS controlled, there can be a number of obstacles that keep you from having a smooth day, night, sleep or whatever. I’m ridiculously grateful for the miracle that is insulin pump therapy, but I would be lying if I said that I don’t have days where I’d like to throw the damn thing across the room. A week ago was one of those nights…

My pump has a number of nifty alarm functions built in, designed to alert me in the event of an extreme high or low blood sugar level and asking for calibrations every twelve hours. For the most part, I can control these alarms through proper blood sugar control and by making sure I perform my calibration tests at proper twelve hour intervals that don’t include the 8-hour period that I try to sleep. But there are certain conditions where the pump will pester me, even when it shouldn’t.

If my blood sugars are level for too long, an alarm will go off because the pump is wondering why there’s no variation. BG is required. If the pump hasn’t had to provide micro-bolusing for four hours or more, an alarm will go off. BG is required. If my blood happens to be running a touch on the higher side and the pump has had to micro-bolus for too long, an alarm will sound. BG is required. If I roll over in my sleep and happen to put pressure on the CGM sensor, it’ll interfere with the signal and BG is required. Are you shitting me, pump? Really?

So my point is, how many of those alarms do you think take place while I’m sleeping? It’s a genuine issue. Sleep escapes me at the best of times… One of the disadvantages of having ADHD, OCD, PTSD and a host of acronyms too annoying to get into. But the Diabetic equation just makes it all that much worse. On the night in question, I had a request fro calibration in the middle of the night. This usually doesn’t happen, if I’m organized enough. But since I had installed a new sensor, the 12-hour cycle started at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. So… 3 o’clock in the morning came a’calling!

Calibration is worse than “BG required,” because you can just enter the sensor glucose for “BG required.” But a calibration request actually gets you out of bed to test with an actual glucometer, which really sucks in the middle of the night. I did the calibration and went back to bed. All’s good, right? Two hours later, “minimum insulin provided for 2.5 hours. BG require to continue on Auto Mode.” Fuck you, insulin pump. Just keep doing your thing.

At 5 o’clock, the damn thing tells me that “BG is required.” No reason. No explanation. What the hell!? I ignored it until it became an audible alarm and entered the sensor glucose. At 6 o’clock, the same damn thing happened. Entered the sensor glucose again. Damned brutal. My alarm (actual alarm) went off at 6:30. So I got about four hours’ sleep before my pump started going all “Russian Sleep Experiment” on me.

My point to all of this, and maybe it’s just my day to be bitchy about life, is that despite the beauties of technology there are always some downfalls. This is DESPITE the benefits I’ve seen in the last year in relation to insulin pump therapy. But technology is only as good as the user who controls it. There are still some ups and downs that I have to deal with, but I’ve come a long way from the brick-shaped glucometer I had in 1982, or the one-a-day BG test and multiple comas. All things are relative. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get some sleep… ☯

Fat Rolls Down Hill…

Before everyone jumps at me and decides to lynch me in a city square, let me start this post by premising the fact that I’ve never been the type to call a person fat… I totally agree that this is a derogatory term; one that’s been an issue since society’s perception of a pleasing form has been slim and muscular. It hasn’t always been so, but this seems to be the preference for now and considering the depth of society’s sensitivity towards being labeled or name-called, I want to be sure that everyone understands that when I refer to “fat,” I’m talking about the actual substance that causes weight gain and obesity. I’m not here to body shame or name call!

Now that I’ve clarified that I’m not some judgmental jerk and that I’m simply trying to help, let’s discuss what fat really is. Contrary to popular opinion, body fat isn’t limited to one’s gut or hanging off the arms. There are two types of body fat. The first is subcutaneous fat. This is the stuff that sits just underneath the surface of your skin and makes your gut look distended. It’s what’s getting poked on the Pillsbury Doughboy. But I digress… The other type is visceral fat. This is the nasty stuff that gathers around your heart, arteries and other organs. All caught up? Good. Now, let’s talk about this fat…

There are a lot of reasons behind WHY a person will accumulate an increase in gut size, including poor dietary choices, lack of physical fitness, alcohol consumption and in some cases, medical or genetic predisposition. I know that even I’m guilty of having gained what I like to refer to as the “COVID-19 pounder,” which refers to the nearly twenty pounds I’ve gained since the world turned into a lockdown nightmare. Diabetics will generally have difficulties with weight since insulin is a hormone and blood sugar management can make slimming down a bit difficult.

But for people in general, it can be a simple matter of just getting up off the couch and doing something. ANYTHING! Even if it simply means going for a walk. Work and lifestyle can often make it difficult as well. I know that when I was doing shift work, it played absolute hell on my fitness routines. Working overnight meant that I was usually blasted during the day and didn’t want to work out. Lack or poor sleep will also throw a wrench into your gut-slimming efforts. That’s why one needs to INCLUDE all the aforementioned aspects, fitness, diet, proper rest and good lifestyle choices, into one’s daily life.

In some cases, and the reason I’m actually writing this post, one faces a “chicken and the egg” scenario… What I mean by this is that a person will gain a bit of weight and will want to burn it off. But some excess of weight may make that person lethargic, tired and lacking in motivation to actually exercise. The result is lack of exercise and poor dietary habits will cause more weight gain. Wash rinse and repeat. I have a friend who is actually facing this scenario. He’s gained a significant amount of weight over the past few years and finds himself unhappy with the state of his body.

I’ve been trying to have him come work out with me, but he’s convinced he wants to start to his own because he wants to slim down first, despite my stating there’s no judgement. The problem is, he isn’t starting. This means the weight goes nowhere, he lacks exercise and fitness, and his shift work is dragging him further down the flubber rabbit-hole. He continues to be unhappy, which leads to further lack of motivation to do something about. Chicken and the egg. Brutal.

Just to be clear, fat is something the body needs. If you were to have absolutely NO body fat, you’d have organs malfunctioning, electrolyte imbalances and all kinds of nutritional deficiencies. A person needs at least a few percent of body fat. But trimming body fat is easier than it sounds and can involve nothing more complicated than eating more vegetables and lean proteins, cutting down on carbohydrates and overall calories (notice I said cut down, not eliminate) and exercising regularly.

Don’t let the current state of the world and lifestyle get in the way of your overall health. Even if you have a family who absorbs most of your free time, it’s very hard to take care of them if you don’t take care of yourself first. So don’t let yourself slip into an endless bad cycle. get up off the couch and start moving. As I often say, anything is something more than nothing. Just do something. ANYTHING! ☯

WD-40 And Duct Tape Aren’t Always Enough…

I was having an interesting conversation with my Endocrinologist, two weeks ago while we were busy high-fiving and patting each other on the back for an excellent A1C result (which you can see my excitement in the video I posted here). The conversation involved telling me that I was a very “boring” patient, because I took care of myself made an effort to maintain and control my Diabetes as opposed to allowing it to control me.

He explained that he occasionally spoke of me to some of his other patients (without using my name or personal information, of course) in relation to things they should be doing and he wanted my opinion as to what I felt the success of my treatment was attributed to. I gave him my usual spiel about exercising, trying to eat well and testing my blood sugars often, but the biggest factor I provided was the WILL to do those things.

It’s no secret that uncontrolled blood sugars and in fact, Diabetes in general can cause a person to be without energy, drive and ambition. Most importantly, a person who has suffered through Diabetes for any number of years will often just throw up their hands or hang their heads low and say, “Fuck it…” before indulging in an easier lifestyle and all the vices and poor health choices that it includes. And that’s where I differ from the norm…

The body is a complex machine; one that requires constant attention and maintainance. And that’s not just an expression. Although biological in nature, your body IS a machine, with a shit ton of complex and delicate moving parts, functions and movements. You need to fuel this machine in the form of food consumption for energy, patch up and repair when there’s damage and provide supplementation and medications, as well. And all of that is controlled by a meaty computer processor that’s protectively encased in an armoured helmet. Not least of which is that we have a tail pipe that vents gas and expels waste like a vehicle.

Even the most high-end and sophisticated engines will eventually seize if hey aren’t maintained, lubricated and fed the appropriate types of fuel. And the superb machine that is your body is no different. I’ve had this discussion with a number of Diabetic associates that I’ve had over the years (most of which are unfortunately already deceased). Although it can be easy to just eat whatever’s laying around and whatever’s easiest, one needs to put in the effort to eat fresh foods, lean proteins and portions that won’t cause you to balloon up like a morbid, meat-based beach ball. I’m partial to salmon and tuna steaks, and enjoy a carb-free meal of fish and brussel sprouts at least twice a week.

Exercise is already an integral part to keeping oneself healthy and it’s no surprise that it would be all the more important for someone with Diabetes. I’ve struggled for years against weight gain, blood sugar levels and better body chemistry, all of which can be manipulated and improved through exercise. And to be honest, unless you’re part of a club or formal fitness club that you’re paying for, it doesn’t have to take huge lengths of time. At home, I keep my workouts limited to thirty or forty minutes. This allows for a good sweat, an increased heart rate AND it allows me to opportunity to get the workout done before my children make me wish they were old enough to wear sparring gear! The point is that you can hammer out any variety of workouts in the short time that it takes you to watch one episode of whatever you’re binge-watching at the moment.

Between food and exercise, you need to pay close attention to your insulin levels and blood sugars. Maintaining those two aspects of your Diabetes in conjunction with food and exercise will guarantee an increased longevity and less chance of serious Diabetes complications. Most Diabetes complications are permanent. Although you can get SOME organs replaced, there’s never any guarantee. You can remedy an amputation by getting a prosthetic, but this ain’t a sci-fi movie. You won’t be hustling around with a cybernetic limb. At least not yet.

So knowing that it could help you live longer, be healthier and feel better, one would be inclined to think that this would be the only motivation you need. But unfortunately, this is rarely the case. You need to WANT those things. You also need to recognize that stepping up and putting the effort is the ONLY way you’ll get them. An important part of it is to ask yourself what you have to fight for.

Personally, I’d like to live long enough to see the potential birth of my grandchildren and grow old with my wife. I can’t do that if I have a heart attack in my forties because I ate like shit and sat on the couch day in and day out… So folks, work hard at keeping your engine running. It’s the only one you’ll get. And once you’re dead, there are no backsies! So work hard, eat well and make the effort to make all your medical appointments. Your engine will run smoother, longer and you’ll get to reap the benefits that come with a longer, happier life. ☯

Well Then, Maybe YOU Want To Be The Doctor…

Being diagnosed as Type-1 Diabetic at the tender age of 4, I’ve had the benefit and burden of surviving my childhood with a plethora of different doctors, specialists and all-around know-it-alls who love the sound of their own voices and providing unsolicited opinions. But i would be lying if I said that I didn’t owe my survival through said childhood as a result of those medical professionals. During my childhood, my parents lacked the education, resources and information to provide the level of care that was required to help a small child survive Type-1 Diabetes. I mean, they did the best they could with what they had. But there’s no doubt I’d be dead by now if not for the care and advice from the many doctors I’ve had over the years.

But one thing that’s grated on my nerves in recent decades, is the use and aversion to Dr. Google. Y’all know Dr. Google, right? It’s a pretty common practice that people have where they look up their symptoms online and make clinical decisions for their health based on what they’ve found. I don’t need to tell you that this can be an extremely dangerous practice and I certainly don’t recommend it. That being said, there’s a growing number of reputable, peer-reviewed sites that can lend some invaluable information when the situation doesn’t allow for an 8-hour hospital visit or a doctor’s office visit that would likely only be scheduled months down the road.

Such sites can include some of my favourites like WebMD, Healthline.com and the Mayo Clinic’s website. One good example of this is when my wife successfully identified our son’s tendency to soil himself as Encopresis, a condition in children where bowel movements are painful so they hold it in to avoid said pain, resulting in clogged fecal matter that needs to be softened and passed through increased fiber and water intake. (Notice that I used the Mayo Clinic’s page to define Encopresis)

We didn’t just blindly accept the condition as what was happening but the information we gained gave us the ability to ask Nathan the right questions and, as a result, lead to an at-home treatment the ultimately cured the condition. Otherwise, we might have been looking at doctors’ appointments, tests, invasive probes and attempted prescriptions over days and perhaps weeks, for a simple condition my wife was able to identify in one afternoon of reasonable and proper research.

But most doctors despise this practice and not only frown on it but will directly berate patients when they hear that they’ve “checked online” in relation to something medical. One good example comes to mind from the early 2000’s when I was totally and completely exhausted, regardless of sleep. I was always dizzy, had bad headaches and my body and joints ached constantly. Although the internet wasn’t quite what it is now, I was able to research some information and found a condition referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Based on my symptoms and the possible causes of this condition, it was recommended I see a doctor. Which I did. Then I explained. And spent the next twenty minutes being lectured on the fact that HE was the doctor and HE’d decide what my diagnosis is.

In a way, I get it. Doctors and medical professionals spend years, huge amounts of money as well as personal commitment and sacrifice to become the professionals that they are. I can understand that it would come as a slap in the face to have Joe Everyday walk into your office and tell YOU what the diagnosis is, before you’ve even had a chance to examine them. It would be like a white belt starting at my dojo and trying to tell ME how to punch or kick because they saw Van Damme do it differently.

The problem is that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome usually passes within a few months and can occur without warning or reason. There are risk factors and possible reasons, but nothing proven. I was basically ignored and sent home with the recommendation to “get some sleep,” despite my explanation that sleep wasn’t rejuvenating me. And there lies the issue: hospital and clinic wait times have just as much effect on the medical staff as they do on the patients. Doctors often double book and have to hustle patients through as quickly as they can, without having proper time to evaluate and diagnose what may be wrong.

On the flip side of things, we have those peer-reviewed sites I mentioned. You know, the ones written by doctors then reviewed and confirmed by other doctors? It’s not a good thing when a patient assumes to KNOW what’s wrong based on a few web searches. But by the same token, it’s also wrong for a doctor to dismiss a patients questions and concerns BECAUSE their information originated from the internet. After all, it’s fuckin’ 2021, people! I’ve heard multiple responses from doctors including, but not limited to:

  • “Would you like to be the doctor or would you like to let me do my job…?”
  • “Oh, you checked online?! I guess you have all the answers, then…”
  • “People need to stop risking their health by depending on the internet!”
  • “I’ll decide on that, thank you very much!” (usually before they’ve even heard my concerns)

There are many more, but online everything is the way of the world. Although skilled and likely cranky due to debt, doctors need to understand that provided information mixed with the patients genuine concerns shouldn’t be dismissed or taken lightly. After all, if you could diagnose and heal a patient in days using shared information rather than weeks, wouldn’t that be a good thing? Work smarter not harder, right?

I’ve been pretty lucky that such encounters have usually been the result of clinic or on-call doctors and not my usual family practitioners or specialists. But if you choose to use the world’s information to help in your medical care, be prepared to stand your ground and deal with some of the more judgmental and touchy doctors that are out there. This shouldn’t discourage you from doing research and looking at what may be causing a particular ailment, so long as you use common sense and call 911 if you’re bleeding or are suffering an immediate emergency. The internet can only do so much… ☯

Maybe You Should Sleep On It

One of the things I’ve come to realize in recent years is that “dad bod” is a VERY real thing. Having a condition like Diabetes that increases your gut size doesn’t help, either. But I recently made a short video where I filmed myself doing karate katas and when I reviewed the video to do some editing, I was taken aback at how “thick” I looked. And since this isn’t a rap video, being “thick” is NOT a good thing. I work pretty hard at trying to maintain my weight, but the old adage about gaining muscle mass increasing your overall weight holds some truth as well. I guess that classifies me as a muscled fatman (says the word “fatman” with a raspy Batman voice).

This is why I’m usually game to try anything to help trim the fat, as it were, so long as it isn’t dangerous or harmful and doesn’t affect my Diabetes. Granted, let’s agree that EVERYTHING affects Diabetes, so that’s a tough one. But I try to maintain four to six workouts a week, I’ve incorporated reduced-carbohydrates, reduced daily caloric intake, green tea consumption and trying out any supplements that might help in slimming me down. The bottom line is that falling into a caloric deficit that forces one’s body to burn fat as a fuel source is the only genuine source of weight-loss, although there are different ways to achieve this.

That’s why I was deeply fascinated when I read somewhere that proper sleep can help with weight loss. To be honest, no one loves sleep more than I do. Except maybe my wife. But given Type-1 Diabetes, PTSD and small children in the house, getting a proper night’s sleep or even enjoying a decent nap can be a somewhat fleeting thing. Not to mention that as much as I LOVE my insulin pump, it’s frequent alarms for all reasons throughout the night tend to keep both my wife and I from getting a full, uninterrupted 8 hours of rest.

For those reasons, I decided to look into the matter and see what could be potentially inflating my middle, other than my love for a good burger, as it relates to sleep. An article posted by The Sleep Foundation states that there seems to be a correlation between modern families getting less sleep and the fact that obesity is on the rise. One of the concepts the article proposes is the fact that lack of sleep affects the neurotransmitters that control one’s appetite, leading to greater consumption of food throughout the waking day.

This actually makes a lot of sense to me. I used to work with a lady who swore by grabbing a snack when she felt sleepy on the job. I’ll admit that on days where I felt blasted and needed a nap, grabbing a quick bite to eat would usually refresh me for a short period of time, so I personally feel that there’s some truth to this. Not least of which is the fact that lack of sleep will cause a lack of energy for sports and activities.

The article goes on to point out that less sleep means you have more time to snack and eat, a pleasure that I am FREQUENTLY guilty of. Especially during late-night blogging sessions, I’ll often indulge in some of the very snack foods that I should be trying to avoid. It ends by pointing out the usual sleep recommendations: regular schedule, pitch-dark room, no eating before bed and reducing one’s stress. To be honest, I don’t know of any person who can do ALL of those things. So are we just basically screwed and have to surrender to the oncoming “dad bod?”

Another article I found by WebMD brings up most of what the Sleep Foundation article does but it also points out that we tend to make bad decisions when we’re tired, which leads to depending on sugar-filled caffeine drinks to jumpstart our mornings and eating crap all day since our bodies have difficulties fighting food cravings when tired. Add to that fact that if you’re exhausted you’ll be in absolutely NO mood to exercise and BAM! Weight gain! One direct point that the WebMD article makes states, “Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours. Translation: you’re more apt to hang on to fat.”

I found a few more articles from different sources but they basically parrot what I’ve provided already, so I won’t bother. But the take home to today’s post is that sleeping won’t make you LOSE weight, but lack of sleep will certainly hinder your efforts to do so. In fact, lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight. So, let’s clarify this… Getting more sleep can help me to curb my appetite and encourage my efforts to lose weight? Sounds fantastic. Now, to find a way to get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep… ☯

How I Discovered I Had Type-1 Diabetes

I’ve been a huge fan of Cobra Kai since it was released to YouTube and I was absolutely over the moon when it came to Netflix and even more so with the release of Season 3. About a year ago, I scribe to Mary Mouser’s channel and discovered that she was Type-1 Diabetic as well, and she had made a rather heartfelt and emotional video about how she was diagnosed and how’s it’s affected her life. In that spirit, I decided to do the same and the video below explains the when and how that I was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes in 1982, and the impact it’s had on me. Enjoy! ☯