There’s A Reason Why Rails Are Parallel…

We often don’t realize just how intrinsic our personal values are to the jobs or careers we choose. Sometimes, the career chooses us. Depending on the career we pursue, the job’s core values can often coincide with our own. This is what makes us suited to specific careers. So what happens when those values no LONGER coincide with ours?

I’ve often felt as though my personal values were in sync with the core values of my career. It’s one of the aspects that has always made my chosen career feel natural, as though it isn’t just something I do but it has become who I am.

But in the past two years, my trust in my chosen career has become shaken. And my values and the job’s core values has slipped off the rails (hence the title). They are no longer in sync with one another. And this has caused me to lose trust in what I do. Do you know what happens when you stop trusting the career you’ve chosen?

When we reach this point, it becomes important to start looking at potential changes. Change is scary. It brings the unknown and most people are always afraid of the unknown. It doesn’t mean it’s BAD, but as a people we tend to be more comfortable with the familiar and are resistant to change. Am I just stating the obvious here? Sometimes I tend to ramble…

I think it was Ed Parker (who is the one who brought modern Kenpo to North America) who said, “The true martial artist is not the one who fears change, but the one who causes it to happen.” Trust may come and go, and it always makes life harder when the organization you dedicated your life to happens to turn on you, but if you’re amenable to change and willing to take a chance on life, there can only be good things around the corner. ☯

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Stress Is A Hell Of A Drug…

Most days, it seems as though there really isn’t a great deal of much that DOESN’T affect my blood sugar. It often feels as though if I take a breath the wrong way, my blood sugar may spike!

The past two years have caused a massive ball of stress in my gut. My thoughts often stray to the situations I’ve been dealing with. you wouldn’t think that worrying about something, being anxious or stressed, would adversely affect blood sugar, but it does. Here’s why:

When we become anxious or stressed, our bodies produces hormones. Some of these stress hormones can prevent the release of insulin in a normal person. But since most of us Type 1’s don’t really produce insulin anyway, those hormones tend to cause a whole bunch of other damage.

I think that most of us would agree that an hour and a half isn’t a significantly long period of time. Right? Or is that just me? My last karate class was a bit of a brutal ordeal. I started class with a normal blood sugar level. This usually means that I’ll stay level, maybe even have increased blood sugar, by the time class ends. This is because the release of adrenaline usually includes the release of glycol and causes spikes in blood sugar levels.

But this wasn’t the case for me. About an hour in, I was hit by a sudden wave of nausea, which is weird because nausea isn’t usually one of my low blood sugar symptoms. I bowed out and staggered over to my gym bag and tested my blood sugar through my sensor. I was sitting at 3.2mmol/L. For those in the know, this is starting to scrape the bottom of the blood glucose barrel!

I excused myself and wolfed down a handful of sour grape jellies, which resulted in a jump to 8.7mmol/L in under an hour. I have to be honest, fluctuating levels of that magnitude are exhausting. Add to the fact that class wasn’t out yet, and I tend to be too hard-headed to stop, even when it’s what’s best for me.

I spent the remaining half hour in a bit of a daze, trying to consolidate my sudden increase in blood sugar with the fact I still had to push myself to complete the class. All of this to say that even the mildest and most normal of human emotions can have an adverse effect on blood sugar.

All of this is to demonstrate how very important it is to test frequently and always be prepared. Carry sugared goods on your person at all times. Be sure to adjust your insulin levels and consult your medical practitioner often. Fine tuning and careful monitoring can often be the only way to ensure your continued health. ☯

Hey, Great! You Showed Up!

There’s a growing trend that seems to have emerged in the last couple of decades; one in which the newer generations are rewarded simply for the effort of trying or showing up as opposed to receiving the rewards of accomplishing the goals through hard work.

If you’re like me and are either Generation X or Gen Y, you’re likely used to how things USED to be. That is to say, you didn’t get anything unless you accomplished the goal, you didn’t move on to the next grade in school unless you actually PASSED and you didn’t get trophies simply for showing up and playing the game. But for Millennials and Centennials, actually accomplishing something seems to be taking a back seat to being praised simply for trying. And I certainly don’t mean to paint all Millennials and Centennials with the same brush, so there’s no need for anyone to get offended (yet another issue with modern society!)

Look, I get it! Acknowledging one’s efforts can be extremely important and rewarding on its own. And it can feel good knowing that a teacher or a coach will still pat you on the back and assure you that “we’ll get it next time”. But the current world perspective may be creating a weaker generation of adults.

According to an article written by Ashuthi Kanneganti in the Queen’s University Journal, “The issue with participation trophies is they promote a disheartening concept: that failure is something to be ashamed of.”

Kanneganti goes on further to say, “Failure can shed light on our shortcomings, and making mistakes is necessary for personal growth.” And the article continues by describing how such practices leave children unprepared to face real life failures later on in life, such as college or university. Many of them have difficulty coping with these failures as they grew up without ever having to face them. (https://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2018-09-10/opinions/participation-trophies-are-creating-a-weaker-generation/)

Another interesting perspective is from Dr. Jonathan Fader, Sports Psychologist, who wrote an interesting article in Psychology Today, in which he explains how trophies and accolades may not be in the best interest of the winners or the losers; pride should be had in the win based on your effort and not the trophy at all! (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-new-you/201806/should-we-give-our-kids-participation-trophies)

So in a world where some schools in the world have adopted a No Child Left Behind mindset, where is the happy medium? Certainly, I was never a “sporty kid” while growing up. Health issues and lack of popularity saw to that. But as I trained in the martial arts, I remember the literal blood, sweat and tears that went into each and every belt rank I achieved. I also had the benefit of knowing that when I wore that belt, it was with the knowledge that I had earned that level of skill and I was entitled to wear that belt with pride, unlike some modern karate schools where you can earn a black belt in two years! (Which is impossible to do properly, by the way.)

Failing at things, regardless of what category of life they fell under, taught me the value and importance of recognizing my skill level and knowing what I had to work on. For most kids, if you reward them even if they failed or lost, you may be teaching them that trying isn’t all that important. After all, why exert yourself if you’ll get rewarded regardless of the outcome?

This has been a hot topic issue for a number of years now, and everyone falls to one side or the other; either they absolutely hate participation trophies or they totally endorse them. I, for one, will be teaching my son that if he wants that black belt, wants that trophy or wants that University degree, he will need to work his proverbial a$$ off and earn it. Otherwise, all we’ll be doing is watering down our society with generations who can’t handle the future. ☯

The Real Holy Trinity

Quite a while ago, I posted about the cycle of life. I tend to forget how long ago, considering I’m close to having posted everyday for almost a year at this point. But given the passage of time, sometimes it becomes acceptable to repeat some of the information I’ve shared. And here we are…

Ask yourself: what is the one thing that all living things have in common? The correct answer is MOVEMENT. All things that live tend to move. This is true of even the most basic of life forms. Plants move to adjust to the environment and some flowers will even turn with the sun.

So, what does movement create? If you answered ENERGY, you are correct. Think along the lines of a hydroelectric dam. Powerful currents of water sent through turbines that create energy. It’s a proven concept of basic physics that movement promotes energy. Almost like running on a treadmill or wind turbines… Movement creates energy, no doubt.

And guess what? Energy creates life. At the end of the day, whether your beliefs are religious or scientific, one needs to acknowledge that we are all essentially made of the same stuff: energy. Down to our atomic base, we are all composed of energy. And even basic electricity has movement contained within it… Electricity is fundamentally the movement of electrons through a conductor, creating a current.

So here’s the equation: life creates movement, movement creates energy, energy creates life and so on and so forth. It’s a cycle, and an important one. If you remove or lessen any of the three, you jeopardize your health and your life. Think of unplugging your smart device, where the current of electrons stops and it is no longer receiving energy. The device effectively loses its “life”.

Look at it this way: If you happen to be a couch potato, you don’t move much. This means that your energy turns stagnant and non existent and you reduce your ability to maintain your life. In medical terms, you gain weight, your cholesterol rises and you basically die from sitting still.

So keep moving. Keep yourself motivated and energized. Even if it sometimes feels like it’s better or easier to relax and take it easy, your body and health will thank you later. ☯

A Meditative Monday

It’s Labour Day in Canada today. This means that most people have the day off, enjoying the benefits of a long weekend. Labour Day was first introduced in the 1870’s and can be read about in further detail here: https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/labour-day

So what does one do with an extra day off from work or school? Obviously, meditation is highly recommended. Most people think that meditation involves long hours of chanting or sitting cross-legged. That certainly is one method, but five minutes here or ten minutes there is really all you need.

Keep it simple. Make sure you’re seated comfortably and let all your muscles relax. One of the most simple forms of meditation is deep breathing. All this means is that you’re taking a deep inhalation, allowing your abdomen to distend, hold it for a moment then release the breath slowly. Train yourself to take almost full minute to release that breath. That’s it.

Sound a little too simple? Sometimes, the simple things are the best. Deep breathing calms you, allows your body to relax and keeps you rejuvenated. And focusing on the method of breathing allows you to occupy your conscious mind on that specific task, which trains you to control your thought process through the meditative process.

Proper meditation has been proven to be beneficial for one’s health, both physical and mental. It’s a cool, rainy day today. What better way to spend it than to try and find one’s balance through simple meditative exercise? Treat yourself to some peace and quiet. Your body and mind will thank you. ☯

What’s Good For You Can Hurt

Look, I post about the negative effects of Diabetes a LOT! It’s rather hard not to; Diabetes is one of the conditions with the highest number of side effects to the body that’s currently out there. And not just to the body… Studies have linked Alzheimer’s disease to a from of Diabetes.

Needless to say, if and when the day comes that there is a positive side to Diabetes, I’ll post about it. For example, if a side effect of Type 1 Diabetes ever causes me to gain sculpted abs, I’ll post about that like a mother-f&*ker.

If you’re like me, you tend to test your blood glucose at least six to ten times a day. If you still rely on a finger prick in order to test your blood sugar, this can cause some rarely considered complications. Especially to your fingertips!

According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the steps one should follow each and every time you test your blood:

  1. Wash and dry your hands well (Do this each and every time you test);
  2. Insert a test strip into your meter;
  3. Prick the side of your fingertip with the needle (lancet) provided with your test strip (Try to avoid pricking the fingertip; this is where all the sensory nerves for touch are located and it can hurt like hell);
  4. Gently squeeze or massage your finger until a drop of blood forms;
  5. Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood;
  6. The meter will display your blood glucose level on a screen after a a few seconds.

There are some meters that will allow you to take blood from alternate sites such as your forearm or your palm, but these tend to be a bit less accurate. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/blood-sugar/art-20046628)

Repeated finger pricks throughout the day can become very painful, regardless of where you test. Another problem is contamination. Obviously, jamming a piece of steel into your finger includes the risk of allowing access to a certain level of bacteria and germs. As with any injury when you have Diabetes, this can cause a risk of infection and other issues.

Using alcohol swabs to ensure a clean site is no longer a viable option, as residual alcohol on your finger can affect the blood sugar reading. If you insist on using them, you need t ensure that residual alcohol has been dried or removed prior to testing. This is why it’s necessary to wash with warm water and soap prior to each test.

Even with Continuous Glucose Monitoring, testing your blood with finger pricks is still necessary for accuracy and to calibrate your CGM. So there’s no getting away from it. But making sure you keep your sites clean and your testing accurate through calibrations and diagnostics will ensure you avoid unnecessary complications. ☯

Waiting It Out…

It’s no secret that if you’re visiting a doctor or health care professional, waiting room times in Canada are ridiculous as a general rule. I’ve written about this before; unless you happen to be going to a private clinic and the staff are really on top of their game, you can usually expect to be waiting for well over an hour beyond your scheduled appointment before getting in to see your doctor. Some studies have shown that the average wait time in Canada can reach three to four hours.

And why is that? Common sense would dictate that if you require X amount of time to see each patient, then you’ll schedule them accordingly, right? Maybe not. I’ve been dealing with waiting rooms in various forms for almost forty years, given that I have Diabetes. And some waits can be somewhat extreme and even dangerous, depending on why you’re there.

One good example I can give is an occasion where my son fell down some stairs onto a landing in our home. He struck his head and had a nasty cut right above his eye. As parents, you can imagine our panic as we bundled him up and rushed him to our local hospital. Once we were at the ER, they asked us two questions: was he alert and had he lost consciousness? The answers were yes and no, and we were ushered to the waiting room where we waited for over three hours. I was flabbergasted! Yes, I just used the word flabbergasted!

By the end of that three hours, I had checked on our expected wait time a number of times, complained and was told that nothing could be done to expedite the wait and to take a seat. At the tail end of it, my very impatient and destructive son was beginning to get his second wind and wanted nothing to do with being at the hospital waiting room. We ended up leaving without treatment. Although some would judge that we CHOSE to leave without treatment, my son’s state f being at the moment, coupled with the fact we were well into the night and he needed to be put to bed, became important deciding factors.

This is a typical example and seems to be the norm these days. Yesterday I attended a medical appointment where I showed up forty minutes early and checked in. I totally expected to sit and wait quietly for the remaining time and beyond. Then I was taken by surprise by getting called in and being seen and out the door by the time my scheduled appointment rolled around!

I got curious, so I decided to ask a few folks I know in the medical field. It stands to reason they’d prefer I not post their names, but here’s a bit of what they had to say.

I spoke to a member in the nursing field, a medical resident and a family physician, who were able to explain some of the ins and outs of the emergency room, triage and how people are seen. One of the main aspects that was explained is that when someone comes into the emergency room, they are “triaged”. This means that they are assessed based on the immediate verbal information they provide, and are placed in order of importance.

So if you come in with a runny nose and a headache that prevents you from sleeping, you can expect to wait over the mother who just went into labour or the man who passed out from chest pains or someone who happens to be spurting blood from anywhere on their body! Further, the average emergency room in Canada only has one ER doctor on duty, so he/she is swamped! We often forget that these people need to eat, sleep and use the restroom just as we do. Although pretty trivial on their own, those little activities add up in terms of wait times.

Last but not least, the medical industry is the slowest at catching up with current technologies. Pagers and fax machines? These haven’t been a standard technology in the average residential home for over a decade, but doctors still rock the ol’ pager! And most clinics and hospitals still make frequent use of fax machines. Sometimes, the incorrect on call doctor may be paged during emergencies, and this adds up to delays.

When it comes to clinics and office settings, wait times can be attributed to the fact that although specific time slots are allotted for each patient, some patients will often CAUSE delays by bringing up several issues not originally meant for the appointment they scheduled. For example, if you book an appointment at your doctor’s clinic for a prescription renewal and you end up inquiring about a weird rash on your inner thigh “since you’re here anyway”, you’ll end up taking way more of your doctor’s time than you were scheduled for. This will cause the subsequent appointments to get bumped further down. You’ll actually see many clinics post a notice in their examination rooms that read, “One issue only”, indicating that you are only there to discuss one problem and a subsequent appointment is required if there is something else.

You’d be inclined to think that an added five minutes shouldn’t cause an issue, but imagine if all the first appointments in the morning included that added five to ten minutes. By the time your afternoon appointment rolled around, you could be looking at a minimum of a couple of hours added to the day’s roster, simply because of all the added little details patients brought up early on.

Obviously, the patient isn’t uniquely at fault. In private clinics, overbooking frequently happens as some physicians are often paid by the visit. So the more patients that are cycled through within a day, the more income the clinic generates.

Clinic physicians are also subject to several outside interferences, such as being called to surgery, a patient at the hospital going into labour or attending meetings and appointments of their own. Plus, we need to consider the rarely recognized reality that doctors tend to get sick too! And when they do, we don’t need them breathing their pox into our throats as they make us say “ahh”…

An article posted by the Ottawa Citizen back in 2017 explains that Canada has some of the worst wait times out of 11 countries that were surveyed (https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/barua-why-are-canadas-health-care-wait-times-the-worst). So what can we do to help alleviate some of these wait times?

Some of the things that we, as patients can do are pretty simple:

  1. Schedule your appointments well in advance. You should have intimate knowledge of your medication use, so if you know your prescription will run out in the next three weeks, schedule an appointment for your renewal right away;
  2. Avoid going to the hospital for non-life threatening illnesses. Colds and sniffles affect the best of us, but tying up the ER for something you could attend a walk-in clinic for will usually result in a longer wait for you and longer waits for the folks after you;
  3. Recognize that wait times are a continued problem, and it’s only gotten worse in recent years. Until Canada fixes or alleviates this specific problem, make sure you schedule your appointment around a healthy period of free time! If you schedule a doctor’s appointment with another important engagement happening an hour after, you may be in for some disappointment.

At the end of the day, I’ll gladly accept waiting longer for the free health care our country provides. Remember that if it is something critical and life-threatening, don’t try to attend the hospital or clinic on your own; make use of 911 and have yourself transported to the emergency room. Many people avoid this option because of the cost, but it’s a better alternative than serious debilitation or death. ☯