Shut Up, Kryptonite!

In all my travels, I’ve yet to meet someone who isn’t at least VAGUELY familiar with Superman.  Even folks who aren’t into comic books and such will have at least some idea of who this iconic superhero is.  And why wouldn’t they?  Incredibly powerful, but still noble and true…  The best of all things with none of the bad.  Truth, Justice and the American Way… (you’d never guess that Superman is actually Canadian!)

But my point is, as strong and powerful as Superman may be, he still has a weakness: Kryptonite.  Able to weaken and even kill him, kryptonite was the one thing that Superman could never overcome.  And even though it’s a comic book, there’s an important lesson, there.

The importance behind how hard you train should be directly related to the fact that no matter how strong or skilled you get, there will always be someone stronger.  That’s just a fact of life.  But by giving your training the maximum effort you can muster, you ensure that you can continue to grow and progress, and should the day ever come that you face an opponent, your odds of getting out in one piece are much better.

One good example of this is Diabetes.  Diabetes is my kryptonite.  It weakens me, leaves me vulnerable and gets in the way of even some of the simplest joys in life.  But I’ve trained and conditioned myself for decades to overcome and outsmart my kryptonite. And through training, education and help from the appropriate healthcare professionals, I’m much better prepared to deal with it (even though at times, it still weakens me!)

Sometimes overcoming our weaknesses means taking steps and pursuing treatments that we personally don’t approve of.  I can certainly attest to having been prescribed medications or been put on diets or treatment regiments that I haven’t liked or wanted to do. But sometimes getting over one’s kryptonite requires swallowing our pride, and recognizing that it’s for the greater good.  It’s not a weakness to accept these treatments or the help that comes with them.  In fact, recognizing that you need the help and accepting it takes more strength than we usually care to acknowledge.  Especially if you find yourself in a life situation where there are many loved ones who depend and count on you.

There are always ways to be fit, get stronger and stay healthy.  The trick is finding what works for you, then sticking with it no matter whether you like or not.  Because no matter what personal kryptonite you face today, there may be bigger fish to fry tomorrow. ☯

Chew, Don’t Inhale…

Look, I totally understand that in the fast-paced environment we all live in these days, there’s a propensity to do everything quickly.  We live by the clock, and sometimes we’re moving so quickly that we fail to realize the consequences of being so rushed.  This is certainly the case when it comes to our meals.

There are a number of disadvantages to rushing your meal.  According to an article posted by Medical News Today, “eating too quickly may add an extra size to your waistline, as well as raising your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke”. Further, the article goes on to explain that studies have shown that eating too fast can contribute to insulin resistance.  Here’s the article, if you want to give it a read: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320056.php

The big problem is that it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to signal that your stomach is full.  So if you rush your meal and stuff your face as though it’s going out of style, you’ll shovel in way more food than is necessary for you to actually be full. The problem is that you’ll overeat before you start realizing that you’ve eaten enough.  The additional calories will inevitably lead to weight gain and can contribute to the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

That’s why eating at a buffet is such a problem; you rush through your first and possibly second plate of food in the interest of getting your money’s worth but you outrun your nourishment requirements before you can realize you’re full.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the lion…  A lion will take the time to hunt its prey and kill it.  Then, the lion will settle in and take its time eating its prey.  And once the lion has had its fill, it will go lay in the shade, clean and groom itself and take a nap.  Doesn’t that sound WAY better than shoveling food into your face like a preschooler? Granted, very few of us have the benefit of being able to nap after a meal, but the message is clear: you should take your time while eating your meal.

There are a number of things you can do to help the process of eating at a slower pace: 

  1. Take smaller bites.  This will allow your brain the time to register and send the appropriate signal once you’re full.
  2. Eat regular meals at regular intervals.  It’s easier to slow your pace if you’re never hungry to the point that you’re starving.  Make certain that you never leave more than four hours between meals.
  3. Drink plenty of water.  It’s been documented in several different forums that dehydration can cause feelings of hunger.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day and include a large glass of water during your meal to prevent overeating.
  4. Skip second helpings.  Once you have your planned plate of food, avoid filling up on a second plate. Depending on your caloric requirements, the average person will never need more than one average plateful of food per meal, especially if you eat at regular intervals.

In a world where everything tends to whip by at break-neck speed, do yourself a favor and slow down your meals.  Take the time, whether it’s a 30-minute lunch hour at work or all the time you need at home, to enjoy the eating experience and allow yourself to eat and digest properly. You’ll avoid heartburn, indigestion and long-term complications.  Your body will thank you.  So will your stress levels! ☯

Power Of The Printed Word.

Books! Books are awesome.  And they’ve been around for a hell of a long time. Books can contain anything: information, stories, reference materials and more.  But little by little, books are becoming somewhat obsolete in favor of the digital frontier.  This makes me sad on levels I can’t even express.

Books have been around for longer than recorded time.  Although there are some articles out there that cover this very subject, the exact time that the printed word became a “thing” is mostly unknown.  And when it did become a “thing”, it may not have been in any form we would readily recognize as an actual book.  I’m talking printed tablets, scrolls and such.

It might seem counterintuitive for me to be bringing this subject up, considering your reading a digital blog as opposed to an actual book, but there are a number of benefits to picking up a musty stack of pages and reading a physical book:

  1. It exercises your brain.  I’m a big fan of saying that when you aren’t exercising your body, you should be exercising your mind.  Books do that very thing.  And through that development and sharpening of the mind, you help yourself to focus when doing others things that are important.
  2. You’ll learn new words.  Believe it or not, there are a s&*t ton of words out there that we don’t know the meaning of, or have never even heard of.  Reading helps you to expand your vocabulary and may even help you to learn new things in general, depending on the style of book you’re reading.
  3. It relaxes you.  Believe it or not, reading a book will help reduce stress and calm you.  Stories help transport you to a different world and take you out of the immediate moment; a step which can help people deal with the hectic routine of daily life.
  4. It helps make you a better writer.  Think about it: if you learn new words and are often reading sentence structures and seeing proper grammar (at least you hope it is!) then those aspects become routine and you transfer them to your writing. So for all you bloggers reading this, it can be a great help!
  5. It will help you sleep better.  Remember the reduced stress it provides?  Well, less stress means better sleep.  And if you choose to read for a short period before bed instead of staring at your phone or other devices, it guaranteed to help you get to sleep easier than having the bright back-lit screen messing with your body.

This is just some of the benefits of reading.  Don’t even get me started on how much information and learning one can do by reading about a specific topic.  Look, we live in a world where technology is progressing at a lightning-fast pace.  But we can still take time to slow the world down and pick up a good book.  

Whether it’s to learn something new, let your imagination run wild or simply to relax, nothing but good can come of it.  I always have at least three different books on the go at once. Usually a story of some sort, a martial arts book for study and something educational. you can’t go wrong! So kick back, grab your favourite beverage and lose yourself within some pages. ☯

Beware Of Diafeeties…

I got today’s title from a Twitter post I found that said, What idiot named them Diabetic Foot Ulcers and not Diafeeties? I found that pretty amusing.  The actual condition, however, is not.

Diabetic foot ulcers are a condition caused by a number of different factors including but not limited to poor circulation, bad blood sugar control and untreated wounds to the feet.  They can go unnoticed for a long time before pain and infection set in.  But there are lots of things that can be done to help prevent them.

First of all, any type of injury to your feet can be problematic if you have Diabetes. Badly fitted shoes, poor foot hygiene and even unrelated Diabetic complications can lead to foot ulcers. Poor circulation to your feet will not only contribute to ulcers but will make any injury take much longer to heal, which will potentially also lead to ulcers.  High blood sugars will also slow the healing process, but any loss of blood sugar control will be bad in the long run.

There are a number of little things you can do to help prevent Diabetic foot ulcers besides proper blood sugar control.  As usual, I’m a big fan of exercise as managing tool.  Ensuring your feet remain clean, warm and wearing shoes that fit your feet properly will go a long way.

If you start to notice any kind of fluid discharge from your feet or if cut, scrapes or wounds on your feet start to turn dark and/or black, it’s time to go see your medical practitioner.  Although Diabetic foot ulcers are a serious issue, they can be treated and reversed. But if you have developed sores or ulcers, try staying off your feet to relieve pressure that could make an infection worse, and see a health professional as soon as possible.

I was going to include a stock photo of a Diabetic foot ulcer but to be honest, it was disgusting enough to deter even me! With winter creeping in, it’s important to keep your feet dry and warm.  Wear proper footwear and maintain those blood sugar levels. A regular exercise routine will help with that.  Worsened complications or untreated foot infections can lead to amputations or worse. Be sure to take care of your dogs BEFORE they start barking! ☯

A Decade Of Blood, Sweat and Literal Tears…

Yesterday was an important milestone for me:  I celebrated ten years in my chosen career.  I chose to celebrate the same way as I have for the past ten years.  I did one shot of Fireball for every year of service!  The burning sensation reminds me of the pain I’ve endured.  The warmth of the alcohol reminds me of the benefits of peace.  The headache I get the next day generally reminds me of the occasional cost of that peace and the existence of suffering in this world!

And yes, before anyone gets in on me about the amount of alcohol that involves, I’m quite aware.  And in my defense, it wasn’t a big deal for the first few years!  But now that I’ve reached ten years, I’ll admit that it’s becoming a bit more difficult to keep up the tradition and I may soon need to find a different way of celebrating.  Especially since Fireball has a fair amount of carbohydrates per shot, so blood sugar control becomes a bit convoluted throughout the evening.

What made yesterday all the more difficult is that I celebrated by myself.  Since the birth of my son Alexander, my wife can’t partake since she’s nursing him.  I guess the only silver lining is that I likely won’t have to take eleven shots next year as this may likely be the last year I will have such a celebration…

I remember when I started this career.  I had a lot of hopes and aspirations for the future and the good that I could do.  I woke up every morning grateful for the work I did and went to bed every night grateful that I had survived another day. I can say with firm honesty that I’ve met some amazing people and seen some incredible (and sometimes ridiculous) things.  It’s been quite a ride.

As I nurse the headache I woke up with and take my first steps in my eleventh year of service, I consider it all bittersweet.  The career I committed my life to may be coming to an end because of someone else’s lies and destructive nature.  But the mindset, the mentality and the hard lessons I’ve learned over the past decade will stay with me for the rest of my life.  The values and discipline I developed will remain and hopefully be passed on to my sons.  It will be difficult to let go.

I have no regrets.  I can’t. Every event that has come to pass has brought me to the here and now.  And I would not be the person I am today without each and every single one of those events, good or bad.  And even if it sounds like a conceit, I like the person I’ve become.  I’m pretty awesome.  Since starting on this journey, I’ve become a role model, teacher, mentor, husband and father.  I have already gained a lifetime of wealth in only a decade.  Imagine if I could continue for another decade?  Who knows what good I might accomplish. Unfortunately, this won’t be so. Such is life.

I guess if someone were sitting next to me as I toasted last night, they would hear me toast the lives I’ve saved, regret the lives I couldn’t reach in time and weep for the lives I won’t be there to help in the future.  Such is the way of the protector and one such as I.  

I will begin another chapter.  Life won’t allow me to do otherwise.  Perhaps the next chapter will be filled with as much as this one has been.  Who knows?  Only time will tell, but I promise that I will continue to share the adventures as they come.  There are always stories to tell… ☯

“Love” Is More Than A Four-Letter Word…

Life is short.  Although the days often feel long, and the years can occasionally drag on, one has to acknowledge that in the grand scheme of things, a single life is but a flicker of the candle in humanity’s existence.  And that flicker can come and go without notice, often without warning, and we are left carrying the flame of life without those who mean the world to us.

We live in a world where complaining has not only become easier than praising and encouraging, but it has almost become a world-based pastime.  I would challenge any of my readers to go on their Facebook and post a status about their political, religious or social views and see what happens.  I can almost guarantee that if you leave the post there, someone will start commenting to the negative about it.  I got proof of this, months ago when someone who isn’t even a follower of my blog was able to comment and verbally attack me for the views I was writing about.

My point is that in a world where negative energy seems to be the norm, it becomes all that much more important to tell our loved ones how important they are to us and how much we love them.  Telling your family, friends and loved ones “I love you” can have a deeper effect on both you and the receiver than you can possibly realize.  But as a society, it seems to have become less and less of a habit than it should be and people seem to have difficulty speaking the words.

In our household, I’ve tried to instill the importance of following everyone to the door and seeing them off.  When I leave the house, my wife and my two children all gets hugs, kisses and told that I love them.  I think this is important.

Allow me to paint a morbid, albeit realistic portrait for you:  Your significant other is occupied in the house and perhaps your children are busy playing.  Instead of disturbing anyone, you decide to throw on your shoes and head off to work. While on route, you get into a deadly collision with another vehicle and you never make it to your destination. Yes, it IS a morbid image.  But it’s one I’ve dealt with all too many times through my work.

Ask yourself, what would your last words to your loved ones have been?  Were you correcting or punishing your children?  Were you arguing with your spouse over bills?  Were they words of affection of argument?  One of the most common things that family members have told me during deaths in their family is how badly they regret not telling them that they loved them one last time before their loved one died.

So, why not prevent this issue?  At the end of all things, the best words we can speak to anyone important to us is to tell them you love them.  After all, you never know if these could be the last words you tell them.  Don’t be afraid to say it.  Make sure you tell your family and those who are important to you how much you love them. Not only will it enrich your life and theirs, they are the best potential last words you could ever speak.  ☯

Remind Me, Who Called It A Wonderland…?

Well, here we are!  There’s snow on the ground.  Winter is upon us.  I’d like to say that I’m fascinated by the wonder and beauty of the crystalline layer, blanketing everything in a cold layer of clean white…  I’d like to say that, but it would be total bulls&*t!

The arrival of snow meant that this morning required dressing in layers, cleaning snow off my vehicle and sitting in the cold with my son at his designated bus stop. Winter brings a number of complications with it; some medical, some mere inconvenience.  So here are a couple of things to bear in mind:

  1. Cold weather will affect your blood sugar levels.  A1C’s and blood sugar levels will rise without notice once extreme cold starts creeping in.  This can be kept at bay by increasing the frequency of testing and adjusting your basal rate over the winter months;
  2. Most Diabetes equipment won’t function in extreme cold.  Your glucometer and insulin pump won’t respond well and in some cases, may shut down if exposed to colder temperatures for long periods of time;
  3. Insulin CAN and WILL freeze.  If you have an insulin pump hanging off your hip and openly exposed to cold for a long periods of time, it can and will freeze, rendering it useless.  Guidelines suggest never allowing your insulin to get colder than about 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (the average temperature of your refrigerator.  Frozen insulin should never be used, even once thawed.  The damage done to the insulin will render it ineffective and/or useless;
  4. Prepare for delays.  Winter loves to kick us when we’re down, and you never know what you’ll face when you’re out and about.  Delays due to construction, running out of gasoline or getting into a collision due to slippery conditions may put you in a compromised position, requiring you to wait for a long period of time.  Dress warmly, pack your vehicle with emergency supplies and carry a Diabetic bug out bag with fast-acting glucose, extra insulin and testing supplies.
The view out of my living room this morning. It Begins!

Despite the enjoyment that comes from snowball fights, hot chocolates and the holiday season, keep yourself warm, safe and healthy in the coming months to prevent unnecessary complications. ☯

All Good Things Can Still Be Bad…

There’s no denying that insulin therapy is hands-down the best advancement for the treatment of Diabetes since the beginning of last century.  Even the most recent technological advancements make use of insulin in order to function properly and make our lives as Diabetics that much easier.  Thank you, Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best.

But like any other medication, there are a number of side effects and complications that could be associated with insulin therapy.  These risks associated with insulin therapy include but are not limited to, heart attack, stroke, eye complications and kidney problems.

Some associate insulin therapy with weight gain and this can, in fact, be true.  But normally this is only temporary until your body gets used to the absorption of glucose that happens through the use of said insulin.

Most of these side effects can be avoided or at least lessened by proper carb counting and following directions of your dietician or medical practitioner.  For example, did you know the average bottle of beer has about 20 grams of carbs in it?  That’s a hell of a hard lesson to learn if you’re learning on the fly!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do some personal research.  It can definitely go a long way towards helping you regulate your insulin therapy over the long-term.  I would have loved it, if my parents had known about carb counting back in the early 80’s.  Maybe I wouldn’t have suffered through as many Diabetic comas as I have… ☯

We Can’t All Be Mr. Spock …

Meditation offers a wide variety of benefits that the average person doesn’t know about or understand.  In fact, I’ve used meditation in a variety of ways, including but not limited to blocking out pain, maintaining composure and helping with sleep.  There’s nothing mystical or mysterious about it; meditation simply allows one to control certain aspects of their outward emotions and reactions.  Despite the fact that it can take years to achieve that level of skill, it’s quite possible.

For example, I’ve dealt with a significant number of situations in my field of work that would easily elicit fear or extreme levels of stress in a person. But some outward reactions would not only be inappropriate in those situations, they could potentially cost me my life.  This is why maintaining one’s composure and controlling one’s emotions can play an important role in everyday life.

As a friend of mine so eloquently asked, “Am I cold or emotionally disciplined?”

Let’s examine that question in depth, shall we?  For the most part, someone who is referred to as “cold” is someone who is potentially shut down, repressed and/or out of touch with their inner feelings.

According to a post by Psychology Today, this is what’s referred to as an avoidant attachment pattern.  And some of the actual symptoms of a person with this pattern include being aloof, standoffish, impersonal, disengaged and uninvolved.  There are many more, and the article can be read here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201105/cold-people-what-makes-them-way-part-1

There are causes and reasons behind this sort of behavior, but we won’t delve too deeply into those aspects, as they aren’t the point of this post.  Let’s examine the practice of being emotionally disciplined…

Listen, every person is different.  And because of this, we all deal with specific situations in different ways. Let’s take death as an example. When we lose a loved one, there is an expectation as to how we will react to it.  But the reality is that some people deal with it and “bounce back” far easier than others.

Self-discipline and training can allow one to develop this ability and react with a level of control that often seems “cold” or “stand-offish” to others.  So, when some people seem like they don’t care, they may simply be coping in their own way.

I use the example of death because it is such a common one.  It’s something that EVERYBODY will have to deal with, at some given point and time in his or her lives.  But realistically, as long as one IS coping, the mechanism through which they do so really doesn’t matter (unless they turn to alcoholism or drugs, of course).

I can easily attest to the fact that in my youth, I was often accused of being cold or emotionless, which is often a stark contrast to the temper I occasionally carry today.  Even when the death of my brother occurred, I dealt with it with a stoic front, barely ever letting my emotions show.  It caused enough of a concern that my parents thought I should be speaking to someone about it.  But the reality is that my coping mechanisms simply didn’t involve bawling my eyes out as some are inclined to do.  And even at such a young age, my personal self-discipline was already developing.

The point is, even if the person you’re speaking to may seem detached or impersonal, if someone is dealing with a traumatic event or grief in a quiet and reserved way, or if someone has injured themselves but isn’t clutching the limb and crying bloody murder, it may simply be that their mental discipline is developed enough to allow them to control their emotions and outward reactions. And these are all things that can be developed through meditation.  Although not physically a muscle, there is the potential to develop it and strengthen it as you would with muscle tissue.  It’s simply done in a different way.  As I’ve often said, when one isn’t exercising the body, one should be exercising the mind.

There should be no judgement against those who have their own level of emotional discipline. It doesn’t mean they’re cold, it may simply mean they have their own way of coping. A personal shout out, to the friend who gave me the idea for this post.  It was a great question and great topic for discussion. ☯

Jeff Goldblum Was Right…

I still remember watching the original Jurassic Park in 1993, where Jeff Goldblum uses one of his most quoted lines: “Life finds a way.” I was in my mid-teens and I was staring ahead at what I hoped would be a long and satisfying life.

As I got older, I started looking ahead at the adult aspects of life and some of the issues that I may face being a Type 1 Diabetic. One of the most prominent ones that got thrown at me repeatedly through my twenties, was that I was unlikely to have children. My childhood doctor (may he rest in peace) used to always say that 1 out of 3 male Type 1 Diabetics could not conceive children due to sterility. Although that statistic wasn’t entirely correct, even then, it was a cause for concern that I may have to live my life without ever conceiving a child of my own. Although I was well aware that there are other venues that can be pursued, such as adoption (my father is adopted, in fact) it still weighed heavily on me and I made attempts to clarify the issue and seek out medical help.

Remarkably, most doctors were unwilling to do something as simple as perform a sperm count. In my twenties, most doctors had asked me if I was in a permanent relationship and looking to have a child. When I would respond that I wasn’t, they would often refuse to perform the tests. I simply wanted to know IF I could conceive children as this can often be a relationship-defining characteristic when getting involved with someone. But unless I was part of a couple who had been actively trying to get pregnant, they declined to test me. Granted, this was decades ago and perhaps things have changed.

Just to clarify on what potentially CAN happen, I did some digging and spoke to some medical practitioners and discovered some interesting information. According to an article posted to WebMD written in 2007, “Men with type 1 Diabetes may have more DNA damage in their sperm,” and “men with Diabetes had lower semen volume than the men without Diabetes.” Both these aspects can contribute to infertility in these men. The article is pretty short and indicates that none of these aspects proved that Diabetes caused infertility, but the article can be read here: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20070502/diabetes-may-affect-mens-fertility

In consulting with a medical doctor, it was explained that certain effects of Diabetes such as decreased blood circulation, would make it difficult to conceive, and erectile dysfunction would be a very real possibility as well. Bad control of blood sugars, insufficient diet and any combination of other Diabetic side-effects could cause the secondary effect of infertility. Last but not least, increased use of alcohol or drugs (illicit and prescribed) can also cause some issues in the ‘ol bedroom.

I spoke to a psychiatrist in New Brunswick last week, who explained that certain conditions could also affect the possibility of conception. Don’t get any ideas, folks. I was just asking for the sake of knowledge!

But I should probably get to my point, since I’ve been typing quite a bit already and I haven’t gotten to the focus of this post. I spent the majority of my twenties and well into my thirties believing I would never conceive a child of my own. In the past few days, I mentioned that my trip required a significant amount of sacrifice. Well…

My son, Alexander, born on Saturday, September 28th

I was unfortunately running around New Brunswick when my wife went into labour for this little guy. Her due date wasn’t until a week later and I didn’t really have an option of rescheduling my New Brunswick appointments, so we rolled the dice. Evidently, the dice had other ideas in mind…

Eyes open for one of Alex’s first looks at the world

I’ve mentioned my son Nathan in previous posts. He’ll be five years old, next month. After many trials and heartbreaks, we got pregnant with Alex. And now he’s here, with his Daddy’s attitude and all! But I missed out on being there for his birth. Given the recent work-related issues I’ve been facing, it’s just one more thing that’s been taken away from me. But I’ll take a healthy child over being there for his birth. Sometimes, life doesn’t let us choose.

So, here I was, thinking for so many years that I would never have children of my own. And now I have two sons. My life and my world changed overnight, and in the words of Jeff Goldblum, Life Finds A Way…