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. ☯

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. ☯

Social Distancing ≠ Social Dissolving

One of my biggest fears when faced with the current state of the world is the after-effects that will continue to linger within our society. For the longest time, we’ve been a society that tends to ignore the world around us. Unless we happen to be online, where most people suddenly become activists, politicians and armchair warriors who always seem to know better. But I digress…

There are many cultures around the world who have ALWAYS practiced social distancing, so the recent pandemic hasn’t create anything new. However, for the folks who haven’t done it before, social distancing may have effects that will take years to recover from. If you’re an outgoing person who enjoys being among the masses, suddenly being locked away in your home can have detrimental physical and emotional effects.

I’m sure you’ve all seen some of the memes and jokes online about social distancing; like the group of dads having beer in the street in a large circle, standing six feet apart. Social distancing has been blatantly difficult for some people to accept and maintain, despite its necessity in helping stem the current spread of COVID-19.

In fact, according to an online article posted by USA Today, large-scale social distancing is required in order to prevent the virus from running rampant and overwhelming the healthcare systems in respective countries, leading to large numbers of fatalities in the coming year. The article goes on to explain that we are nowhere near to ending social distancing and that we NEED to maintain it, in order to stem the propagation and bring an end to the pandemic. (https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/26/coronavirus-pandemic-growing-too-fast-stop-social-distancing-column/5083173002/)

Despite this requirement, the need for everyone to come together has never been greater. Isolation, whether with family or alone, can involve a number of problems that we may not recognize before they become serious. Depression, hopelessness and the use of drugs and alcohol can become very real aspects to cope with the current state of self-isolation. It’s important to remember that there are a lot of ways, especially in today’s modern world of technology, to stay in touch and communicate with people, thereby maintaining social contact and preventing the dissolving of society.

This is one of the rare occasions where social media can be an asset. Although still a nasty source of false news, misinformation and a destructive means of sharing private information, social media’s ability to help people stay in contact despite long distances can’t be denied. I know that a number of my family members make use of Facebook and other means of online communication in order to stay in touch with friends and loved ones.

A handy tool that many people seem to forget about these days, is the telephone. What with texting and social media, most folks seem to forget that the plastic brick in their hands is actually intended as a means of verbal communication that was invented over 140 years ago!!! Despite the fact tat we live on opposite ends of the country, my mother and I speak by phone every few days, even if only to stay in touch (cue the mama’s boy jokes, here).

My point is that we need to ensure that we don’t begin to accept social distancing as the norm and begin to shy away from in-person contact with each other. It may be necessary in the here and now, but when the smoke clears and the pandemic is over, we will need to rebuild social bridges and allow ourselves the benefit of each other’s company. The worst thing that could come out of all this, is to survive it all just to become xenophobic against society for fear of what else may happen. After all, there will be a lot of work to do once every steps back out into the sunlight; and we’ll need each other more than we probably understand. ☯

Balancing Yourself And Finding Your Inner Zen

Many people believe that certain lifestyles help to eliminate the negative aspects of life and help to prevent negative emotions, such as anger, frustration and hatred. The big problem is that these aspects are an inherent part of every living person and can’t be eliminated or ignored. Although certain belief sets and practices can help to reduce stress and control negative emotions like anger, it’s important to remember that like everything else, there must be a balance.

I’ve often been accused of being cold or emotionless. On some occasions, I’ve been complimented on my ability to keep my cool and stay calm when faced with difficulty. While this is true to some degree, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of emotion raging beneath the surface. I’ve simply developed the skill to redirect or control said emotions.

You don’t always see what’s beneath the surface

Nothing would be better if we could all walk around being little rays of freaking sunshine all the time, but that just ain’t life! And it wouldn’t be normal, anyway. Life is all about balance, and your emotions are no exception. Sometimes, you gotta just let the negative out.

I always try to be as positive as possible, even when faced with the many obstacles that life throws at me. And I try to avoid negative comments against others, although those close to me would agree that I usually fail at that one. There’s nothing to be done for it. The question isn’t whether you feel and or express these thoughts and feelings, but how.

There are practices that help to redirect and control the negative. Meditation is a good one. I may or may not have mentioned that on occasion. When life is pissing you off, deep breathing and clearing your mind can definitely be an asset. When the actions and/or personality of someone else with whom you have to deal with may upset you or make you angry, rigorous physical activity is excellent. A punching bag almost pays for itself, as it provides physical exertion and allows you to vent your negative feelings in a positive way.

As long as you can remember that all these things are normal, the positive and the negative. As a friend of mine told me a couple of days ago, be like a battery; a little bit negative, a little bit positive… but all power!!! (Thanks, Daryl) ☯

As The World Turns…

I’m no environmentalist. I’ve done my fair share of wasting, just like the rest of ’em. Having grown up through the 80’s, which most recognize as the decade of decadent waste, I’ve had some bad habits, most of which my parents still have, despite my best efforts to stem them. But despite my past, I’m very keen on looking towards the future. Especially since I’m the father of two young sons who will inherit this planet when my generation steps down.

With that in mind, I’ve been doing some reading on simple ways to reduce my household’s carbon footprint and minimize waste, as much as a single household can. I am very much on board with the concept that big corporations need to be held to task and made to toe the line in terms of the waste they produce, but I also believe that if everyone starts by doing their own little bit, we can certainly improve things. Just to be clear, a carbon footprint refers to the amount of green house gases emitted by any individual, group or corporation.

I’ve recently read about how the current pandemic is having an unexpected positive effect, where air pollution is dropping, water is becoming cleaner and animals are beginning to reclaim some of the lesser frequented areas of the world. It was a good article and posted by a fellow blogger (TheEnlightenedMind622, I’m looking at you) and can be read here: https://theenlightenedmind622.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/coronavirus-shutdowns-have-unintended-climate-benefits-cleaner-air-clearer-water/

Although many believe that we’ve passed the point of no return, I think that some of this proves that it’s never too late and we can all do our part. With that in mind, here are a few easy steps I’ve looked up that you can all do from home:

  1. Have a Recycling Bin: This is a pretty simple and straightforward step, and should be in effect in most Canadian towns and communities. In fact, many locations actually have it legislated in their city bylaws that you WILL make use of a recycling bin, or face monetary penalties if you’re caught tossing recyclables in the refuse. The city we live in has a blue bin program, where they allow for all your recyclables (cardboard, paperboard, cans and such) to be piled into one bin and picked up every two weeks for sorting and sending to the appropriate locations for reuse. My wife is a champ at this, as she’s usually the one to identify the items that can be recycled that I usually overlook. She keeps me on my toes;
  2. Make Use Of Reusable Items: My family and I have a dozen reusable cloth totes and bags in the cargo area of our vehicle. Whenever we do groceries or run errands, we do our best to ensure we’re using our cloth bags as opposed to using the plastic bags provided by most retail outlets. If you must get the plastic bags, be sure to reuse them or recycle them back to the store. Most retail outlets have a bag collection bin, where the used bags are collected, melted down and recycled into new bags. One of the more popular reusable items are travel mugs and water bottles. I have an aluminium coffee mug, and it gets a lot of mileage (ah, me and my caffeine). Just about any coffee chain or restaurant will accommodate a request for your coffee to be served in a travel mug (except for right now, thanks to COVID-19). Aluminium water bottles are also fantastic. If you’re like me and need to consistently sip water throughout the day, a reusable bottle certainly make the job easier;
  3. Use Rechargeable Batteries: If your children are anything like my son, they love their games and tend to consistently burn through batteries. Although rechargeable batteries tend to be a bit harder on the wallet, they essentially pay for themselves in the long run as you don’t need to keep purchasing new ones. Plus, using rechargeable batteries helps to eliminate batteries in the trash, since batteries have their own whole recycling process and most people can’t seem to be bothered;
  4. Preserve Water: You would think this one would be pretty easy, but it’s surprising how much water the average household wastes. Shut the water off while brushing your teeth. It doesn’t need to run while you’re scrubbing. Put in the stopper immediately when filling your sink with dish water. Even if the first ten seconds is cold water, the hot water that follows will still provide the desired effect, and you can prevent wasting litres of water by letting the cold water run down the drain. Men, fill your sink with a couple of inches of hot water and use it to shave. Running the hot water over your razor after every swipe uses WAY more water and doesn’t provide any further benefit; and
  5. Shut Shit Off: Unless you live in a cave or underground, the majority of households can get away with using natural light during most of the waking day. As I write this, I’m sitting in a basement office with a small 1′ x 3′ window, and the Sun’s light is enough to visibly see and work within the office. So the same can certainly be said and done for the average home. Open up your drapes and curtains, lift your blinds and let natural light in, rather than turning lights on. Get into the habit of unplugging electronic devices that make use of a “standby” function, as these tend to use electricity even when not in use.

There’s ton more, and they can be easily found by Googling things like “recycle from home” or “how to reduce my carbon footprint”. Most of these can be done daily as an afterthought and require next to no effort on your part. So why wouldn’t you do it?

This is one of those scenarios where every little bit helps and one of the biggest challenges is teaching these habits to our kids. My son is the worst at leaving lights on, wasting food and walking away with his iPad still running (Damn Paw Patrol!). But it’s a work in progress and if we all do our part, we can mitigate the damage and hopefully even start to reverse some of it. Because I don’t know about y’all, but I rather enjoy drinking clean water and breathing. ☯

Embrace Your Dark Side

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice piece of chocolate? It’s tasty, and can easily replace a sudden sugar craving. If you know your chocolate, you likely know that dark chocolate is a great alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth. Reasonably low on sugar, dark chocolate traces its roots to several thousand years ago in Central America. They usually consumed it by fermenting it and drinking it with wine.

I won’t get into the whole process of how the modern form of it is made, but it’s safe to say that it can be used in many forms and is generally enjoyed by all. To be clear, dark chocolate is any chocolate that contains higher than 50% cocoa and unlike “milk” chocolate, has no milk added to it. Obviously. And if you’re part of the rare percentage of the population who doesn’t enjoy chocolate, move along! This post is not for you…

Dark chocolate is rich in a lot of things, including but not limited to flavanols, which have been proven to help with heart health, lower blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity. That last one can help reduce the risk of Type-2 Diabetes. Dark chocolate also happens to have high percentages of iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Healthline.com has a great post that lists the recommended daily intake for all these, and can be found here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate#section2

The article goes on to explain how dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and is considered brain food. The benefits of increased blood flow to the brain make it so that it increases cognitive function. Not to mention that dark chocolate also contains traces of caffeine, which I’m a big fan of. Two ounces of 70% dark chocolate contains about 60mg of caffeine, which is a bit less than a small coffee at most popular chains. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the higher the caffeine content. Wrap that shit around coffee beans or Swedish berries? Fugedaboutit!

Obviously, in order to reap the most benefits you should try not to cheap out on your chocolate. Get chocolate that’s at least 70% or more. Generic chocolate will often use processing that, although improves flavour, will cause the loss of flavanols, which are one of the key benefits. Another recommendation is NOT to refrigerate your chocolate. I’m guilty of this one. I like the snap and crunch of refrigerated chocolate. But if you keep it in the fridge, it can cause something called “blooming”, which is the white substance that appears on chocolate that’s been sitting around for a long time.

If your chocolate HAS bloomed, you can basically melt it down, stir it up and let it harden and you’re good to go. Granted, I wouldn’t try that with the chocolate you find stuffed at the back of your grandma’s pantry that’s likely been there for thirty years, but I digress…

Don’t go stuffing your face, yet! It’s not all good news. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is extremely high in calories. So if you eat it by the fistful, you’re susceptible to weight gain. Dark chocolate may have the benefit of lower sugar content, and the higher the cocoa, the lower the amount of sugar. But you’re basically eating a slab of fat, considering dark chocolate is made of cocoa, butter and sugar. So if you’re eating chocolate to try and raise blood sugar after a low, you may be waiting a long time for it to kick in since your body processes the fat first.

Dark chocolate is best enjoyed by eating a small piece after a meal, melting a square into your coffee or melting it to drizzle on fresh fruit. Despite the health benefits, it can be easy to indulge and overeat. And this is one of my rare exceptions where I encourage people to go organic. Finding dark chocolate that advertises as “organic” is a good thing as it prevent exposure to pesticides and chemicals that may have been sprayed on the cocoa beans.

So grab a slab, melt some down or have a bite. Even a small piece every now and then will allow you to satisfy sugar craving, enjoy the many health benefits and last but not least: you get to eat chocolate! Pairing it with red wine is also an excellent alternative. So, go get you that chocolate, yo! 🍫

Keeping’ It Clean

I know that just about everyone is tired and fed up of hearing about the current pandemic spreading across the globe, but the reality of the matter is that it’s happening and there’s no getting away from it. Another reality is that this crisis brings up a number of interesting thoughts and ideas, which has been an interesting side effect of the whole thing.

One of the ideas I’ve been rolling around in my head, is the way people seem to be dealing with this whole issue. We already know that folks have gone ape shit and started hoarding and gathering toilet paper, which has led to arguments and fights in public with total strangers and people who genuinely need a twelve pack as per usual that can’t seem to get any. Non-perishable food items have also been something of a popular staple.

But oddly enough, retail locations don’t seem to have any issue carrying full shelves of daily essentials, such as shampoo, soap, cleaners and toothpaste. Although many people have pointed out the fact that eating is a tad more important than worrying about wiping your backside (and I’ll point out that there are a number of countries that don’t even use toilet paper and depend on water-based or other methods of clean-up), everyday hygiene should also be a concern.

So let’s examine this aspect in slightly greater detail, shall we? Daily personal hygiene is an extremely important part of staying healthy. There’s a reason why the big push at the moment is to have everyone wash their hands frequently: because cleanliness = health. This should make sense to the average person, but in a real-world quarantine scenario, worrying about food is normally the top concern.

There are some basic, common sense levels of hygiene that most people know about. For example, we all know we need to brush our teeth. Failing to do so will cause tooth decay, plaque and gum disease and can lead to coronary problem through bacterial infections. Not to mention bad breath that can lead to a serious decrease in kissing. Brutal. Washing our hands frequently helps to mitigate the spread of germs, bacteria and other nasty things that some people may not even be aware that they’re carrying.

But it needs to be taken a step further than that, which includes showering, bathing and personal grooming. Most medical professionals will agree that bathing or showering should be done at least every other day. Basic cleaning of your own body will prevent the lesser issues, such as oily skin and body odour.

But failing to properly follow good personal hygiene can lead to serious complications and illnesses. According to lists I found as posted by Healthline.com and the CDC website, these conditions include but are not limited to: scabies, lice (of varying types), diarrhea, athlete’s foot, ringworm, swimmer’s ear and hot tub rash (whatever the hell THAT is). And don’t aren’t the worst ones.

Here are the respective websites to read specific detail on all of the above as well as others:

Last but not least, we need to remember that failure to follow good hygiene can lead to the propagation of germs and bacteria, which is kind of what the world is trying to avoid right now. “Social distancing” won’t keep that other person in Walmart’s cereal aisle from smelling your personal brand of funk, either.

For us Diabetic types, keeping clean can also help with other issues. I don’t need to tell you that T1D’s tend to be prone and susceptible to infections, which can be caused by poor hygiene. This is why any medical professional recommends keeping your feet clean and dry, since foot issues are prevalent with Diabetics. But that concept applies to your whole body.

So while you’re busy stocking up and squeezing the Charmin, don’t hesitate to grab some freakin’ Irish Spring and shampoo! Keep yourself clean and smelling pretty. It’ll keep you healthier and will guarantee that once all this has blown over, you won’t step out of your house looking like a reject cast member of Lost and smelling like today’s catch! ☯