The Possible Light At The End Of The Tunnel…

I was sitting in my living room last Wednesday, basking in the aftermath of a solid supper of two jalapeño cheddar burgers. I’m totally kidding. Not about eating two burgers; I totally demolished those! I’m kidding about the fact that I was basking in anything but pain. The jalapeño burgers were painful to eat, digest and think about. But I digress… Shortly after supper, while I was in the living room with my wife and infant son, I received a text from a friend of mine.

Now, one might be inclined to ask, “But Shawn, don’t you ALWAYS get texts from friends?” First of all, shaddup! Second of all, texts rarely have this level of importance or solicit as much of a reaction from me. This text message contained a link to an Edmonton CTV article indicating that there is a possibility that a cure for Diabetes may have been discovered. No, that’s not a typo. You read that right.

The article, published on November 17th by CTV News Edmonton, opens with a bold statement in its first line, “Scientists at the University of Alberta say they may have discovered a cure for Diabetes.” Apparently, their new process has already cured Diabetes in mice and the research team is hopeful that they’ll eventually be able to test it on human test subjects. You can read the article for yourself here.

The lead researcher is Dr. James Shapiro, who is a well-known rockstar in the Diabetes community as the creator of the “Edmonton Protocol” some twenty years ago. This protocol involved injecting Diabetes patients with insulin-producing islet cells in order to allow their bodies to produce and regulate blood sugars without daily injections. This was a fantastic breakthrough and an amazing step forward in Diabetes treatment. I had even looked into it myself, when it first came out.

One of the big problems is that the protocol doesn’t work for everybody. There are conditions that make the patient receptive to the treatment, and even for those who can get the treatment are usually stuck using anti-rejection meds for the rest of their lives in order to keep their bodies from rejecting the injected cells. Dr. Shapiro and his team have apparently found a way around this obstacle.

According to their new claims, the research team have somehow found a way to turn a patient’s own cells into islet-producing ones, circumventing the need for all the anti-rejection meds and side effects that accompany the Edmonton Protocol. Their current research has shown that they’ve been able to reverse the effects of Diabetes in mice to the point where the Diabetes is effectively cured. If successful in human trials, there is a very real possibility that we could see a cure for Diabetes within our lifetime.

Just reading the article brought tears to my eyes. After all, finding a cure for Diabetes is the “hopeless hope” of every T1D. And I’d be lying if I said that I even remember what life is like without Diabetes. But it’s gotta be better than this. Watching the video made even more misty-eyed (Thanks, Kristen!). As is the case with most scientific research, funding is the main issue. Dr. Shapiro requires additional funding for equipment and research in order to perfect this new treatment.

The video that accompanies the article discusses a man, whose son has Type-1 Diabetes, who has decided on a goal of raising 22 million dollars by 2022. He made a pretty good point; if every Canadian with Diabetes donated simply $22, Dr. Shapiro would be well beyond the funding required to make this work. With over 400 million people with Diabetes worldwide, it would really suck if there’s a cure on the horizon but no one could get it because of funding.

Between drying all the tears the article caused, I tried finding where one can donate for this specific cause. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything so if one of you does, please include it in the comments so I can share it and pass it on. Diabetes has taken up such a large portion of my life and has helped mold me into the person I am today. I’ll admit that I would likely feel a bit lost if I suddenly found myself clear of it. But I’d adjust. Definitely. Read the article. In case one link wasn’t enough, HERE! ☯

The Masks We Wear…

“If You Wear A Mask Long Enough You Begin To Forget Who You Are Beneath It.”

– Alan Moore

I don’t have cable, nor do I watch the news or carry any subscriptions. I’ve recently taken to listening to morning news radio when bringing Nathan to school so that I won’t be completely in the dark with what’s happening in the world. And it’s a little difficult to avoid writing about issues surrounding COVID-19, considering we all get slapped in the face with it on a daily basis. Literally.

With this clever pun, I refer to the wearing of face coverings or masks. Although I’m uncertain about the state of this requirement around the rest of the world, many if not most Canadian Provinces have made the wearing of a mask or facial covering mandatory by law in public places, with Saskatchewan being no exception. In fact, facial masks have, until recently, been required on a location-by-location basis, being entirely dependant on the business itself to impose the wearing of the mask.

Most Provinces have legislated the wearing of facial coverings or masks with heavy monetary fines imposed on those who are caught without them. In Saskatchewan, fines ranging as high as $2,000 plus surcharges were imposed on the participant of a protest against the wearing of masks, which took place in Saskatoon (Star Phoenix). This isn’t something new, although most of Canada is starting to jump on the “mandatory” bandwagon for any towns or cities with a population higher than 5,000 people.

There’s a growing number of people with some very strange ideas and concepts related to COVID-19 and face masks… It isn’t all that surprising, since even the most common sense of concepts are often met with conspiracy theorists and the typical bullshit that people try to come up with, either due to ignorance or mental health issues. It’s a bit like trying to convince people the Earth isn’t flat. It doesn’t matter how many scientifically-proven reasons are given, these folks are still stupid enough to think the planet is a flat disc.

Sometimes, there’s just no convincing some people. And that’s fine! People are entitled to their opinions, so long as it doesn’t endanger others. And this happens to be the category we fall under, when it comes to wearing masks. I could spout the information that’s basically become general knowledge by this point, wearing the mask is more about protecting the population than the one person, it prevents spread by blocking virus droplets, it isn’t a substitute for social distancing… blah, blah, blah!

We’ve heard all of this stuff on a weekly basis for the past eight months, so I won’t regurgitate it. What I AM going to do, is discuss some specifics about the proper wearing of a mask. Take these for grain of salt and I encourage you to do your own research if you have any doubts. So long as you do your research somewhere reputable like the World Health Organization or Health Canada. If you get your information from The Onion, then I can’t help you…

First and foremost, cloth masks are just fine. As long as you ensure that they contain two or three layers and are made of a tightly-woven but breathable fabric such as cotton, you’re good to go. You shouldn’t wear masks that have exhalation valves, as these are designed to prevent particles from coming in and may not stop them from going out. This means you may inadvertently be spreading the virus, should you happen to be a carrier who doesn’t show symptoms.

Try to avoid solid or non-breathable materials like leather or plastic. Masks with a clear, plastic window are all the rage right now with people believing they’re great for allowing people to see each other’s smiles and facial expressions. But realistically, they just make it much more difficult to breathe through. Although they potentially have their place in situations where a deaf person may need to lip read, this isn’t the norm and you should stick to something snug-fitting, made out of cloth material or the single-use paper masks. Same goes for those stupid masks with built-in straws. Just drink your damn Slurpee when you get home!

Wash your masks! I can’t stress this one enough! I wear reusable masks and my wife and I made a quick grocery run after eating at a burger joint, the one day. I accidentally burped into my mask and nearly passed out! You wouldn’t wear your underwear indefinitely without laundering them (or maybe you would, I’m not here to judge) so why would you continue to wear a mask that you’re exhaling bacteria into? Just like hand-washing, you need to maintain proper hygiene when it comes to the wearing of these masks.

There have been a number of posts circulating online about how wearing a mask for long periods can increase the amount of carbon dioxide that you breathe back in, but it’s all bullshit that’s been disproven ten ways from Sunday. Masks are far too breathable for you to take in any significant amount of CO2 from your own exhalation. Not to mention that every breath you exhale is still oxygen-rich enough to constitute a second breath. Why do you think giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is acceptable? But the bacteria build-up is a very real thing and your masks should be laundered after a couple of outings or disposed of, if they’re the disposable, paper kind.

Cover your nose. This one drives me up the fuckin’ wall, honestly! What’s the point of wearing a face mask if you simply leave your nose uncovered for all your COVID-19 boogers to come flying out like mortars on a battlefield? Use some common sense and wear the mask properly! It’s kind of like wearing a condom, if you don’t wear it properly, there will be consequences. Except those consequences likely won’t kill you like COVID-19 could. But I digress…

First responders and medical professionals wear facial masks for hours and hours on end, most for a minimum of 8 hours during scheduled shifts but some for very much longer, with no lingering negative effects other than putting up with the mask itself. That’s been happening for longer than I’ve been around. So, a long time. Unless you have a serious, diagnosed pulmonary issue, are someone with cognitive or mental health issues making comprehension difficult or have suffered some trauma involving the covering of your face, there’s really no excuse for simply not obeying what is now the law and WEAR. YOUR. DAMN. MASK.

To the conspiracy theorists, I offer a question: what possible benefit could there be in convincing the population to wear a face mask? From a conspiracy perspective? Seriously. Give me an answer. I’ll wait. No, honesty I won’t. At the end of the day, maintaining social distancing is something that should have started years ago. Many countries have taken to wearing face masks in public for decades. None of this is new. And considering there have been almost a million and half deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, I think that slipping on a mask for half an hour while you pick up your groceries won’t kill you. But COVID-19 might. Food for thought…☯

A Shovelful Of Advice…

I hate snow. I have a pretty solid dislike for the cold in general, despite the fact that I don’t yearn for sandy beaches and hot climates, but the snow holds a special place in the dark recesses of my heart. Mostly because I have to shovel that white shit. And as much as I enjoy the occasional romp in the snow, or pelting my son with a solid snowball, shovelling snow is my personal version of hell freezing over.

The depth of snow behind my vehicle at 6:30 am

Last Monday, I awoke to the sight of snow on the ground. At first glance, it didn’t seem to be a big deal. Then I opened my door and noticed that the snow around my SUV was two-feet deep. FML! I have a pretty specific and time-sensitive routine during weekday mornings. Most of it involves getting my 5-year old fed, dressed and his lunch kit put together before ushering him out the door to his bus stop.

Since his bus driver has instructions not to pick up or drop off without a parent present, I’ve taken to driving Nathan to the bus stop in order to wait for the bus inside a warm vehicle. I know, right? First world pleasures, to be sure. But considering the weather reached -20 degrees on Monday, it wouldn’t have been ideal to stand outside waiting (despite the fact I used to walk in colder temps when I was a kid).

I whipped through my morning routine at double speed then bundled up in warm thermals and winter clothing in order to go shovel out my vehicle. After about an hour of shovelling, I was sweating inside all my layers and had barely cleared half of my driveway. The worst part? Three of my neighbours were smiling and waving while quickly clearing their driveways using a snowblower. I was thinking, what kind of a masochist am I? I’m 42 years old, Type-1 Diabetic and a heart attack waiting to happen!

The world is blanketed in white

After noticing that I was the only goon using a manual shovel, and the calls for service I’ve attended where people have dropped dead from heart attack while shovelling, I had decided that enough was enough. I had been complaining to my wife about it for the four years we’ve lived where we are; this winter would be the one where I purchase a snow blower.

Shovelling snow puts enormous strain on the human heart. One doesn’t realize it when doing it, but you’re moving hundreds of pounds of snow over a short period of time, when shovelling out your driveway. Add that to the increased blood pressure one suffers due to the colder weather, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Add weakened organs due to Type-1 Diabetes, and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll drop from the strain when all you were trying to do is clean out your driveway.

One of the worst calls I’ve ever attended involved a guy just a few years older than I am, coincidentally with Type-1 Diabetes. He was clearing snow with a snowblower and simply dropped on the side of his driveway. All those factors were in play. Last Monday was enough to convince me that even if I do consider myself to be somewhat in shape, I no longer want to be struggling with the evil white stuff at 6 in the morning. Bring on the snowblower.

If you routinely shovel snow, or are one of those idiots that try to make a few bucks doing so, you need to consider a few aspects. Like any workout, you should stretch and warm up before you go conquer the great, white yeti. Even while shovelling, you need to make sure to lift and push with your legs, not your chest or back. And you should exhale as you hurl your shovelful of white shit. These are all things that you would be doing for a traditional workout, so why wouldn’t you do it RIGHT before stressing your body in cold temperatures?

Take breaks, drink plenty of fluids and treat shovelling the same way as you would, any other physical activity. This means test your blood before, during and after as well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clean the snow off my car and snow blow the driveway… ☯

World Diabetes Day 2020

I know I harp on many of these so-called “holidays” that seem to riddle the calendar with every passing month. But this one just happens to be personal to me, for obvious reasons. Every year on November 14th, which is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, we celebrate World Diabetes Day. November is already Diabetes Awareness Month in most medical circles, but today is a day where focus is brought to the growing number of people being diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes.

World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 but the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization, and is often recognized by the signature blue circle logo and is usually accompanied by a different theme every year. But rather than get into all the hubbub that is yet another yearly holiday, I thought it would be a good idea to remind folks about the actual discovery of insulin and a bit of its history.

As most may know, insulin is a peptide hormone created by beta cells inside the pancreas. Insulin helps with the processing and regulating of carbohydrates by absorbing glucose from the blood into various tissues of the body. Beta cells release insulin into the body in response to blood sugar levels, specifically high ones. Insulin plays a number of different roles outside of this, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll keep it simple.

Although the discovery of insulin is attributed to Sir Frederick Banting and his lab assistant, Charles Best, it should be noted that the road to insulin’s discovery started over 50 years before Banting made the discovery. The relationship between the pancreas and Diabetes was therefore established during the late 1860’s and 70’s, with a number of experimental treatments never quite hitting the mark. It also surprised me to discovery just how many of these experiments were performed on dogs. Whether this is because they constitute a large mammal or because they were simply available is beyond me. Oh, how they were different times!

Starting in the early 1920’s, Banting and Best began experimenting with islet cells and injecting them into a Diabetic dog, which resulted in a dramatic drop in blood sugar levels. In January of 1922, the first injections to human patients were given and the rest is history. Banting won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923, for the discovery of insulin. He shared the prize with Charles Best and sold the patent for insulin to the University of Toronto for a dollar.

The world would be a significantly different place if insulin had never been discovered. Obviously, I wouldn’t be here. But the millions of people who have been diagnosed with Diabetes certainly wouldn’t be either, as that diagnosis was basically akin to a death sentence before insulin came along. This isn’t really a “celebratory” holiday; you won’t likely catch people throwing parties or going crazy in any significant way. I mean, good on them if they do! Hopefully, they take the time to count the carbs in their drinks while they celebrate… ☯

Weight A Minute…

A person’s body weight holds a lot of sway on many aspects of their lives. Social acceptance, self-image and what societal sub-culture you may end up with, can sometimes be influenced by your body type and overall weight. Throughout the decades, what’s been considered a “sexy” body type has changed dramatically based on the state of the world and said societal trends.

In the 1910’s, a slender body with little to no body fat was considered the ideal weight and attractive body type. But once the end of World War II rolled around the corner, the extended period of scrimping, sacrificing and the Great Depression came to end an end as well. And everyone’s body weight started to increase in the 1950’s. But how body weight has been perceived by people has changed dramatically over the decades.

It’s no secret that Type-1 Diabetes can sometimes contribute to a thicker middle. So much so, that the population often puts the cart before the horse and assume that heavier set people are more prone to Diabetes. But studies have since shown that obesity and heavier weight isn’t what causes Diabetes (even type-2), although it can be a factor in the overall totality that may cause a person to be diagnosed.

Because of this, I’ve found my weight fluctuating back and forth a reasonable amount in the past three decades. Sometimes for the better; sometimes, not so much. One of the worst instances I can remember is going home to New Brunswick to visit family. At one point, I was visiting with my grandmother along with some other family and she looks at me and says, “You’re looking well-fed, Shawn! You’ve gained lots of weight!”

Da fuk did you just say to me??? It took me a minute to understand that to her perspective, having gained some weight is a good thing in light of the fact that she spent her adulthood through those turbulent times when people could only indulge and start to gain weight once they had worked their way past the war and the economy began to recover. A weight gain was seen as a positive thing; just not to me.

My point is, despite the fact I seem to be going on a rant, is that finding one’s ideal weight not only depends on your specific body type, but a number of different factors. For example, two people can weigh the exact same thing, with one having too much “fat” and the other simply having heavier muscle mass. Consulting a medical practitioner is your best bet, since things like BMI are insanely inaccurate without medical interpretation.

The flip side to this coin, is that too LITTLE weight can also be problematic. Being underweight, despite one’s self-image, can lead to joint issues, fertility issues and immune system problems, to name a few. Even though everyone may be telling you that weight loss is ideal, such a thing is only ideal within the right context for your body type, health conditions and requirements.

Most people don’t enjoy looking in the mirror and seeing a pouch, hanging off their gut. Trust me, I speak from experience. But realistically, so long as you’re healthy, you eat and exercise regularly and be sure to consult your doctor or medical practitioner before starting any new exercise regiment or diet, you’ll come out shining with the results you need to have. Stay healthy. ☯

What’s Your Dollar Worth?

Despite the downward spiral that my fitness routine has taken in recent months, I’m a big fan of staying healthy. All the time and effort seems well beyond worth it, when I get the opportunity to visit with my endocrinologist and he tells me that I have the heart of a horse and all my systems are functioning ALMOST as well as someone who doesn’t have Type-1 Diabetes. This was further confirmed last week, when a visit with my ophthalmologist confirmed no presence of macular edema in my eyes, the first time in over five years.

Now that I’m done bragging about how I AM ALL THAT IS DIABETES!!!! I can get to the point of today’s post. Something I’m not a big fan of, is crowds. I prefer to train in private or in the company of my family or like-minded martial arts individuals. This doesn’t mean I won’t train with anyone who wants to learn or get in shape, but I’m not a big fan of working out in public gyms. There are a few personal reasons behind this, but there are some definite pros and cons behind getting a gym membership and working out in the public eye.

I try not to be cynical about things that can be of definite benefit to someone’s overall health, so I’m going to share my top five pros and top five cons when it comes to joining a gym and working out in public. This isn’t sourced from anywhere, it’s all me. Here we go:

PROS:

  1. They have equipment you can’t afford: I’ll be honest, paying for fitness equipment is killer. Most retail and fitness equipment outlets charge more than a dollar per pound for dumbbells, which means you’ll be hitting the 100-dollar mark for a pair of decent 45-pound hex dumbbells. The cheapest treadmill I’ve been able to find online (that isn’t second hand) came in at just over $500 dollars. Working out with a variety of different equipment can be costly. Working out at a gym can circumvent the need to buy everything you need;
  2. They’ll have resources: Most gyms offer personal coaching, group workouts as well as access to things like yoga and Zumba classes. It’s a great place to meet like-minded people; not the weirdos who are all muscle and no brains that monopolize workout stations, but people who are genuinely interested in getting in shape and working on their personal fitness;
  3. It’s convenient for the working population: You can take advantage of lunchtime workouts, get to the gym right after work or even before you start work. Since most membership-based gyms offer shower service, you can be cleaned up and on your way to the office before start of shift;
  4. It’s great for motivation: There’s no denying that humans are pack animals. There’s a reason why we gather in towns and cities. Fitness and working out is no different. Trying to get in shape can be easier if you try to do it around other’s who have the same goal in mind;
  5. It gets you out of the house: I enjoy working out in my basement, garage and back yard. But once in a while, quarantine measures be damned, you need to get out of the house. A gym membership can be a good way to get out of the house a few times a week, even if it only means a simple travel from “A” to “B”.

CONS:

  1. Memberships are expensive as shit: Honestly, a year’s worth of gym membership could effectively pay for that $500 treadmill I mentioned in the PROS list. And don’t even get me started on these fuckin’ gyms that are so high and mighty that they make you sign a “contract” that makes it almost impossible to quit once you’ve joined. I’ve had gym managers I had to verbally fight with, just to cancel a membership so that I could transfer with my job;
  2. They smell like a warm bucket of hamster vomit: Not all gyms are created equal. As much as the Rocky franchise romanticized the concept of gyms that smell like blood, sweat and puke, no one wants to be in a bacteria-infested environment that smells like the backside of a dead calf. Especially if you’re breathing hard during some extreme cardio or trying to use some equipment that the last douchebag forgot to wipe down;
  3. You may be forced to deal with haters: In my opinion, a gym should be a haven of fitness for anyone who wants to work on themselves and improve their lives, either physically or mentally. But there is an unfortunate small group of people who go to the gym and belittle people who are trying, making fun of them and making them feel worse about themselves. It can make working out difficult;
  4. You sometimes have to wait: The one, nice thing about working out from home is that you don’t have to wait to use whatever you have available. Even if gyms have a ton of equipment you either don’t have or can’t afford, you may find yourself in a position where you have to wait in line for someone else who may be using the particular piece of equipment you need;
  5. You gotta leave the house: Go figure, I’ll share point #5 with both lists. I’m weird, that way. And a bunch of other ways, but honestly I LOVE working out at home. I prefer it, in fact. But that’s just me. It’s always a good idea to get out of the house once in a while. But honestly, I like the practicality of having my wife and children nearby, access to my own shower and snacks, drinks and all the other stuff.

At the end of the day, I’ve worked out in public gyms AND I’ve found ways to work out at home. My personal preference is to work out at home. If I had to weigh out the pros and cons, cost ends up being the big deterrent. I’d love to keep a membership and enjoy all the benefits of working out at a gym. It would be incredibly fun to bring my wife and have her enjoy those benefits as well. But considering there are dozens of “body-weight only” workouts that one can do from home, it’s hard to justify the cost.

The rest of the PROS and CONS can sort of cancel each other out. But it’s a matter of preference. My best advice would be to give it a try. But be sure to protect yourself and join that gym that doesn’t require a contract membership and that you can leave with only a month’s notice. That’s usually pretty reasonable. You should be able to let them know within the month if you plan on quitting. But with the reasonably balanced amount of good and bad, you really can’t tell if a public gym is for you less you try it. ☯

Walk This Way…

Walking is wonderful, isn’t it? You step out into the crisp morning air, breathe in the freshness and get some mild exercise. Emphasis on the mild, but it exists nonetheless. The past couple of weeks have humbled me, in the sense that my wife’s absence with our family vehicle during basement renovations have meant that I’ve had to walk everywhere. For everything. It’s humbling because I’ve come to appreciate just how convenient having a vehicle really is. It also gives me a new appreciation for the folks who can’t afford a vehicle and ALWAYS have to walk or take public transit.

This period has seen me walking a minimum of three to four kilometres for simple things such as checking my lottery ticket at the local corner store, picking up my much-needed energy drinks and even picking up two duffel bags of groceries to shore us up until my wife got back. Not least of which is the fact that these items had to be hauled back by hand. With a bus route that only passes every 50 minutes and it being an 18 to 20 minute walk for any of the locations I require, it’s obviously more time-smart to walk.

But with a light freezing rain falling on the day I had to go do groceries, and my corner store being closed for cleaning on the day I walked to check my lotto (thanks, 7-11!), it also gave me a reminder of the good old days when I was younger and HAD to walk or bike everywhere i wanted to go. Walking gets a pretty indifferent reaction from the world in general and there always seem to be two camps: those who are indifferent towards walking, and those who believe it’s incredibly good for personal fitness.

Walking is often ignored and considered a pointless exercise, and with good reason. Since running, weight-lifting and any other extreme workouts require deeper, physical exertion in order to be completed, people tend to assume walking is not as effective a form of working out. We can be honest in the fact that walking can’t be placed in the same category as say, an hour of HIIT training. But there are still a number of benefits associated with walking regularly.

According to an online article posted by HealthLine.com, walking on a regular basis has a number of health benefits, which includes burning calories, lowering blood sugar, easing joint pain and boosting energy levels. On the mental front, walking can help improve your mood and encourage creative thinking. In fact, the Mayo Clinic writes that 30 minutes of brisk walking can add a burn of about 150 calories, with that total calories increasing, the faster and longer you walk. They also warn that if you’re walking solely for the purposes of weight-loss, a healthy diet needs to be incorporated, as well.

During my last eye injection when I took the bus to Saskatoon, I wound up walking almost 15 kilometres throughout the course of the day (For The Longest Time…🎶), and it was a significant calorie burn. And did my legs end up feeling as though Sensei had just delivered a dozen roundhouse kicks to my thighs? Hell no, because nothing hurts quite as bad as that, but it provided a decent burn over the course of that whole day.

The nice thing about walking is that it’s reasonably low-impact, so if you have knee or joint pain or suffer from obesity and are looking to start burning calories and losing weight, walking can be done for longer periods of time than traditional forms of cardio. Although walking may not be a “better” workout, it’s an effective one. And it can be a good addition to your weekly total workouts by providing a low-impact, relaxing alternative to just sitting on the couch on your rest days. So toss those earbuds in, lace up your sneakers and if you have Diabetes, plan ahead for lows and hit the streets. Your body and mind will thank you. ☯

Staying Alive, It Isn’t Just A Catchy 70’s Song…

Last Sunday, I wrote a post about Halloween and how my wife and I chose to allow our children to celebrate by indulging in treats at home as opposed to putting them at risk by wandering from house-to-house (here is last Sunday’s post, if you didn’t read it). I felt the post was well-written and was clearly categorized as an “opinion” piece, but some felt that my opinion was wrong, perhaps even presumptuous. And people can, by all means, feel however they wish to feel about my opinion. It doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. However, it raises something of an important issue that I’d like to address today.

There are a lot of thoughts floating around about what the next best step should be in regards to the current pandemic. Some people believe that we need to lock ourselves down tighter in order to mitigate the COVID-19 issue we currently face, while others believe that we need to loosen the noose a bit and try to start living normally again. In order to examine and open a constructive discussion on this topic, I’d like to start by sharing a post that an ER nurse apparently wrote. I got this from a friend on FaceBook, and I have no source for it, so you need to take it with grain of salt. But here it is:

“Anyone out there who can tell me what our end game is with the COVID-19? What is the magic formula that is going to allow us to sound the all clear? Is it zero cases? The only way that will happen is if we just stop testing and stop reporting. Is it a vaccine? It took 25 years for a chicken pox vaccine to be developed. The smallpox inoculation was discovered in 1796 the last known natural case was in 1977. We have a flu vaccine that is only 40 to 60% effective and less than half of the US population choose to get one, and roughly 20,000 Americans will die of the flu or flu complications. Oh, you’ll mandate it, like other vaccines are mandated in order to attend school, travel to some foreign countries, etc. We already have a growing number of anti vaxxers refusing proven, tested, well known vaccines that have been administered for decades but aren’t necessarily safe! Do you really think people will flock to get a fast tracked, quickly tested vaccine, whose long term side effects and overall efficacy are anyone’s best guess? How long are we going to cancel and postpone and reconsider? You aren’t doing in person school until second quarter? What if October’s numbers are the same as August’s? You moved football to spring? What if next March is worse than this one was? When do we decide quality of life outweighs the risks? I understand Covid can be deadly or very dangerous for SOME people, but so are strawberries and so is shellfish. We take risks multiple times a day without a second thought. We know driving a car can be dangerous, we don’t leave it in the garage. Many speed and don’t wear seat belts. We know the dangers of smoking, drinking and eating fried foods, we do it anyway. Is hugging Grandma really more dangerous than rush hour on the freeway? Is going out with friends after work more risky than 4 day old gas station sushi? Or operating a chainsaw? When and how did we so quickly lose our free will and give up our liberty? Is there a waiver somewhere I can sign that says, “I understand the risks, but I choose a life with Hugs and Smiles, and the State Fair and go to Church and go hug my Mom in her retirement home? I understand that there is a minuscule possibility I could die, but I will most likely end up feeling like crap for a few days. I understand I could possibly pass it to someone else, if I’m not careful, but I can pass any virus onto someone else. I’m struggling to see where or how this ends. We either get busy living or we get busy dying. When God decides it’s your time, you don’t get any mulligans, so I guess I would rather spend my time enjoying it and living in the moment and not worrying about what ifs and maybes, and I bet I’m not the only one.”

– Unknown ER Nurse

Like I mentioned at the beginning of today’s post, I got this from a friend’s FaceBook page and I wasn’t able to locate its source online. Maybe one of you will have better luck and if so, please free to name the source in the comments. But I think it’s important to give that paragraph a careful read. Look at the two-sided message it provides and how there are significant contradictions involved. A lot of what’s written in that quote is shared by many member of the public.

Although I agree that we need to start working on developing some level of normalcy within your society, what that “normal” will look like may not be what we’re all expecting or hoping for. Do I agree that we face risks of danger and imminent death on a daily basis? Absolutely. But most of what’s written in that quote is a matter of choice. We CHOOSE to operate motor vehicles. We CHOOSE to drink, gamble, smoke, use recreational drugs and have unprotected sex.

But nobody should CHOOSE to take unnecessary risks and potentially catch COVID-19. Even the comment on strawberry and shellfish allergies is a bit on the ridiculous side, and isn’t a choice. It’s an allergy one is either born with, or developed. That’s a far cry from allowing yourself exposure to a life-threatening virus. There’s nothing I want more than to travel back to New Brunswick and see my family, but in doing so, I risk endangering their lives. People are of the unfortunate belief that COVID-19 “isn’t all that bad” and that “it’ll pass.” Yeah, sure. It’ll likely pass, but it’ll change the world and how we do things before it does. It already has.

Folks, you need to realize and understand that getting COVID-19 isn’t like getting a bad cold or flu that you’re likely to recover from. It carries serious risks, and even a healthy person can succumb to it if it isn’t taken seriously. Everyone is tired of quarantine restrictions and self-isolation. I, for one would like to walk down my street without worrying if that jogger who’s panting heavily will spit Corona particles into my face, or worrying about what my child may be exposed to while in school.

This pandemic is far from over, and there are steps we all need to take to help mitigate the damage. It isn’t about a “minuscule possibility” of dying, it’s about protecting ourselves and the ones we love. That’s what it all comes down to. I don’t do politics. And I generally don’t follow trends. But I also know common sense, if such a thing exists, when I see it. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Wear the mask. Don’t go out into large crowds unnecessarily. Don’t expose your family to things because you think you need to “either get busy living or get busy dying.” That, in and of itself, is a defeatist attitude and humanity deserves better. ☯

Halloween? How About Don’t?

I was diagnosed as Type-1 Diabetic at the age of four, so Halloween has never really held an important place in my life. After all, the eating of chocolate and candy wasn’t exactly permitted, unless I was having a low, and my older brother was always too sick to go walking for long distances from door-to-door. So the concept of spending time, money and effort on a costume, just to go out and gather treats from other people never appealed to me as a child. It appeals to me even less as an adult, but it’s no longer about me. It’s about my children.

This year, Halloween has taken a severe kick in the candy-corn since social distancing requirements are as such that trick-or-treating is basically an unessential and frivolous risk when faced with the possibility of walking up to someone’s door to get a freakin’ Kit-Kat bar. Despite this fact, many parents decided to allow their children to go trick-or-treating, last Saturday. There are two schools of thought on this: some believe the risk isn’t worth it (and they’d be right) while others believe that our children shouldn’t be made to suffer because of what’s currently going on in the world (and they’re also right).

My 1-year old enjoying the spoils of Halloween

The concept of going door-to-door is a relatively recent one, tracing its roots to the early 1900’s when candy companies sought to cash in on the trend of trick-or-treating. According to an article posted by thekitchn.com, candy companies established a sort of “Candy Day,” which was usually observed on the second Saturday of October. This lasted until the 1970’s when the handing out of candy was seen as the most economic means of celebrating and the trick aspect mostly gave way to receiving the treat.

The term “trick or treat” first appeared in print in Canada in the late 1920’s. The idea behind the term was a subtle hint that if the homeowner didn’t provide a treat, a trick would be played through some form of mischief. Halloween, in fact, originally had nothing to do with going door-to-door for candy. This is a shiny aspect that was generously created by the candy companies in order to make money. And make money, they do!

But according to a detailed article posted by History.com, Halloween traces its origins to the Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. There’s obviously a bit more involved in it than that, but feel free to click the link to read the article for deeper details. Despite how long-winded my writing becomes, the purpose of this post isn’t actually a history lesson.

This year, my wife and I had a good conversation with our 5-year old and had him understand that due to the COVID-19 virus, that we wouldn’t be going door-to-door to trick-or-treat and rather, we would purchase a couple of boxes of treats and celebrate at home. We gorged ourselves on chips and candy bars (a great challenge for my pump, I might add) and our son was none the less enthused about Halloween as a result. It was a great alternative to exposing ourselves unnecessarily, and our kids still got to enjoy some Halloween candy.

Although this was a pretty simple and common-sense method of adhering to social distancing, we were somewhat surprised to see that some children still came to our door. We could have been grumps and refused to open the door but Nathan, in his generous nature, offered to share from his treat stash so that these kids would be able to partake as well. Many parents would argue that they have a right to allow their children to do as they please, especially on Halloween. I would assume those parents are also anti-vaxxers.

Yes, eventually we need to return to, or establish, some level of normalcy as everyone can’t live behind closed doors for the remainder of human history. But at the same time, there are some things that should be recognized as unnecessary in order to reduce risk of exposure. Getting groceries or picking up prescriptions are a necessity. Sending your kids out into the cold to intentionally interact with multiple households is not. Simply food for thought. Or rather, candy for thought… ☯

Fear Is Not A Diabetic Symptom

Having Type-1 Diabetes involves a lot of preparation and planning ahead. Even simple trips out of the house or a full 8-hour work shift requires good memory on my part, including blood testing equipment, fast-acting carbohydrates and extra equipment in the event my pump’s infusion set fails. It can be arduous, especially if you’re dashing out in a hurry. Light knows, I’ve had many times in my life were I’ve gotten to where I’m going and suddenly remembered, “Damn, I forgot to bring an insulin vial!”

For someone who isn’t QUITE as ancient as I am, and hasn’t had the opportunity to go through the ups and downs of Type-1, the task can seem daunting. What’s worse is that to some, the task can even be overwhelming or frightening, as some Type-1’s may believe that they face serious complications or death if they forget something, leading to self-isolation in the face of that belief. Although this is certainly a possibility, life for a Diabetic becomes much easier once you realize that it’s also the extreme. And a rare one, at that.

Essentially, almost everything you need for proper Diabetes therapy can be purchased over-the-counter. Even insulin. It’s been this way for years, and there’s even been a growing trend of Americans crossing the Canadian border to purchase insulin, as our prices seem to be significantly better than theirs. My point is that depending on one’s financial situation, running out of insulin is pretty much the worst thing that can happen, and even THAT has some solutions.

You can walk into any pharmacy and buy a vial of insulin without a prescription. That’s one of the nice things. Blood testing strips, lancets and devices for injecting insulin are all available over-the-counter, making for a certain level of safe comfort if you should happen to be travelling and forgot some of your supplies. Obviously, you’ll have to deal with retail cost if you don’t have a prescription or coverage. And pump supplies will usually cost you your first born, as well as a pint of your blood.

One good example would be my trip to New Brunswick in September of 2019. I was only there for a few days for a job interview. I was contacted by a different agency in New Brunswick and a second interview was scheduled for the following week. I now found myself in a situation where my pump supplies would run out, right around the time I’d be trying to board a plane home. I couldn’t chance it, so I walked into a local pharmacy and purchased a vial of Lantus, which I hadn’t used since getting on the pump. I had no issues walking into a pharmacy and simply buying the vial, out of pocket.

Because this is me, and life likes to see how much I can handle, there’s an aspect of over-the-counter purchases that tend to be a rather burly thorn in my posterior. In Canada, insulin is in the Schedule 2 drug class. This means that not only is it meant to be kept behind the counter and can’t be accessed without speaking to a pharmacist, they require your full profile in order to ascertain if you’re getting the “correct” insulin in the “correct” doses. As if the person buying the insulin WOULDN’T know that…

If you’re ever-so-slightly paranoid like I am, you’re not a fan of giving out your name, date of birth and home address to every random pharmacy that you may need to buy insulin from. And to be quite honest, one could argue that it should be their right to purchase an over-the-counter item without having to share a bunch of personal information. Right? Maybe? Or is that only me? It’s caused me some difficulty, in the past.

A few years ago, my wife and I had travelled to visit her parents. I ran out of Humalog towards the end of our trip, and I decided that rather than packing us up and heading home a couple of days early that I’d simply go purchase a bottle. I walked into the local Walmart and asked the pharmacist for a vial of Humalog. She then proceeded to start asking for all my personal info, which had never happened to me on previous attempts to purchase insulin.

I explained to her that I had no desire to provide my personal information as I didn’t live in the area and simply wanted to buy a vial of insulin. She made a big production in saying that she had no way to sell it to me without entering my information. I explained that I’ve managed pharmacies in the past, and since the insulin box has a barcode like every other item, all she needed to do was scan it and charge me the price. She refused service. I was taken aback. Rather that “Karen” out on her, I left and took my business elsewhere

Despite the fact that there can be obstacles, what did you notice from those two examples? The end result is that there were always options. And there always will be. In the first example, I had access to plenty of pharmacies and resources. Even in the second example, we could have simply driven home, which would have ultimately solved the crisis, had I not been able to secure insulin elsewhere. I used insulin as my examples because let’s agree that you can likely get by without testing your blood for a couple of days, if need be. You shouldn’t but it won’t cause the damage that being out of insulin will.

Over almost the past four decades of having Type-1 Diabetes, I’ve known doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, police officers, olympic athletes and even professional football players who have Type-1 Diabetes. The take-home lesson is that our condition doesn’t prevent us from enjoying any aspect of life that we may be seeking out. And it SHOULDN’T. Yes, there’s a lot to think about. Yes, there’s a lot you have to drag around. But none of that should prevent you from doing the things you want to do. You can’t let Diabetes force you to live in fear. ☯