Channel Your Inner Vila…

I remember sitting through many an episode of “This Old House” when I was a kid. My father loved the show, despite having never lifted a tool in his life. I guess it’s a bit like watching wrestling or boxing and never being in a fight.

I absolutely despised home improvement shows at that age, as any kid would. If I’m being honest, I was way more partial to Star Trek, Star Wars or Lost In Space.

I’m a little behind on getting some writing done. Yesterday morning started like any other day. I went into work, then came home to take my son outside to get him out of his mother’s hair. Usually that only includes keeping him busy until lunchtime so she can work, but yesterday I decided to take a drive to Home Depot.

Home Depot is an evil place, because they’re really good at making you believe that you can fix or build ANYTHING. I went in to buy some caulking for my upstairs bathtub, and ended up leaving with flooring, caulking, paint and tools.

What started as a quick shopping visit ended with redoing the bathroom floors and painting all the walls and floorboards. I worked diligently from about ten in the morning yesterday and finished just shortly after lunch this morning. Needless to say, I’m exhausted and I could never do home improvement for a living.

In order to turn my bragging about my renovating prowess into something that qualifies as content for this blog, I should mention my blood sugar levels. I spent almost 36 hours running low.

The idea is that many hours of consistent work tends to make my blood sugar levels drop. It’s not like anything I was doing was intensely rigorous, but even light work stretched over long hours without stopping will have an adverse effect.

I passed out hard last night, after eating reasonable amounts of glucose. When I got back at it this morning, I watched my levels a bit more carefully. It didn’t help that I painted the baseboards outside, with the summer heated quickly rounding the corner on 30 degrees, causing some mild dehydration and blood sugar drops.

This is just another example of how just about EVERYTHING affects you when you have Type 1 Diabetes. It’s important to take this into consideration when doing any sort of activity, especially in the high heat of summer. Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated, and test your blood often. ☯

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The Spoken Word Is A Lost Art

Technology has come a long way, even in the past ten years. Current trends and social expectations have caused a shift in how we communicate and interact with each other.

Although the jury is out on when it all started, some researchers believe that human beings started communicating with each using vocalization as far back as two million years ago and as early as 50,000 years ago. There’s a great article written by sciencemag.org that covers some of this and goes on to explain how the spoken word may have contributed to our ability to develop hunting weapons and tools during our ancestral times. Here’s the article if you want to give it a read: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/01/human-language-may-have-evolved-help-our-ancestors-make-tools

I remember being in my teens and sitting in a small group at a local fast-food restaurant. We’d get food and sit there for hours, just chatting, laughing and shooting the proverbial s&*t. We’d sometimes get booted for being too loud, but we had an active and productive interaction with each other. These days, seeing a small group of teenagers together involves a whole lot of silence and everyone staring down at their phones. Sometimes you can even catch some of them texting each other from across the table! I use teenagers as an example, but adults are often just as bad.

Dating and romantic interactions certainly used to be a vocal skill. I used to remember that if I had interest in a particular person, I had to grow the testicular fortitude to walk up to them and say hi; a bit of chit-chat or small talk before asking if they’d like to grab coffee or go to dinner. These days? Swipe right (Or is it left? I’ve never used Tinder). Making certain your profile “looks good” has replaced showering, getting dressed and going out to meet people in person.

In fact, in many different respects, approaching people in public has almost become taboo. If you walk up to someone and tell them you find them attractive, it will be a coin toss as to whether they smile and sit to coffee or if they slap your face and call you a creep (And no, before anyone gets smart with me, I’m not speaking from personal experience!)

Applying for jobs, ordering everything from furniture to food and even communicating with far away friends and family have all started happening through technology instead of walking into a place of business in person or picking up the phone to actually speak.

I remember just a few years ago, I was working with a younger guy who spent a great deal of his shift on his smart device. It never interfered with his duties, but he usually had it out. He started using this app where you use a spoken message, send it and a few moments later the person you’re speaking to would send a vocal reply.

At one point while he was using the app, he tells me (while holding a cell phone in his hand, no less) “Do you know what would be cool? If they made this app where you’d have an open line to talk and the person on the other end could talk as well, without having to send the individual messages…” I replied, “They already invented that, it’s called a telephone…” I got a lost look of confusion as though I had grown a second head.

Although you need to know your audience and be mindful of your environment, there’s nothing wrong with smiling and saying hi to someone. Don’t be afraid to interact with humanity in person. You were taught how to speak long before you learned to tap a device screen, and humans have the unique benefit of using language as a primary communication tool. So embrace that uniqueness. ☯

“Grab” On To Some Facts ðŸ¥‹

I know I tend to post a lot about medical issues, problems in society and how to improve your life. This is mostly because, well… That’s the blog! It’s often hard to cover off topics about Diabetes, medical and physical health and the suffering of humanity without touching on some negative aspects.

As such, I’ve decided to keep it short, sweet and light today. I found this photo on another blogging site and it made me smile. I figured any practitioners of the martial arts who are reading may get a kick out of it as well:

I think this is pretty funny, and quite accurate. But just to touch on the actual art of Jiu-Jitsu for a moment, here are five facts about the popular martial art that most people may not know or possibly get wrong:

  1. Jiu-Jitsu is not Brazilian. Despite its popularization through organizations like the UFC, Jiu-Jitsu (or Jujutsu) traces its roots back to Japan. When you hear the term “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”, this refers to an adaptation of an older form of Judo;
  2. Jiu-Jitsu is not only a grappling style. Most forms of the martial art also use weapons and strikes. The idea behind the style was to be able to engage an enemy who may be attacking with a short range weapon, such as a short sword or stick. Traditional Jiu-Jitsu incorporates a number of stand-up techniques and it isn’t all about rolling on the mats;
  3. The name “Jiu-Jitsu” is a romanization spelling of the correct spelling, which is “Jujutsu”. And this term didn’t come into being until the early 1800’s. The term was used to encompass a number of grappling styles, empty-handed or not. In fact, one of the systems it covered was “the way of softness”, or Judo. This was almost two hundred years before Judo’s creation by Kano Jigoro;
  4. Jiu-Jitsu is at least partly responsible for the creation and development of multiple other martial arts styles, such as Aikido, Judo and Sambo. During its early existence, Jiu-Jitsu is credited with the creation of more than 2000 offshoots of the art. Some of these retained connections with Jiu-Jitsu while others have modified their techniques and differed their styles enough to no longer considering themselves a style of Jiu-Jitsu;
  5. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is descendant from Judo. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most popular forms of the art, given how much exposure it has received in mainstream media and the propagation of its teachings. Although an extremely effective art, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed after Judo was introduced in 1914.

Sure, maybe points #1 and #5 sort of touch on the same thing, but whatevs… It’s all good information, right? I’ve been doing the martial arts for long enough to know that there’s always something new to learn, and roots always go back further than what we assume is the beginning. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and find yourself a little something to help make you smile today. ☯

Supplement Yo’self! 💊

Many people say that food isn’t quite what it use to be. Although I think this is true in some respects, as long as you eat a properly balanced diet on a daily basis, you should NORMALLY get everything your body requires. I’m going to point out that “NORMALLY” doesn’t always apply to most diets in today’s society.

As someone with Diabetes, one needs to be cognizant of the potential for a lack of certain nutrients, supplements and vitamins in one’s diet. In some circumstances, the only way to ensure you get everything you need can be through the form of supplementation. Obviously, I feel compelled to point out that no one should include supplements of any kind in one’s diet without first consulting a nutritionist, dietitian or medical practitioner.

There are a number of vitamins and minerals that are ideal for someone with Diabetes. I will endeavour to cover off some of the most important ones.

Chromium: This one is a staple of Diabetes health. I’ve often heard a lot about it, through my youth and it serves a number of purposes. Taken in the correct doses, it can help increase your tolerance to blood glucose, lower fasting blood glucose and help reduce insulin levels. Some studies have shown that intensive exercise helps to increase the concentration of tissue chromium.

Magnesium: This is one that’s been a problem for me, as levels tend to drop to a dangerously low level in people with Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition I’ve actually suffered from. Low Magnesium can lead to increased insulin-resistance, which is a prominent problem for someone with type 1 Diabetes and can often be a cause for Type 2.

Potassium: Believe it or not, this one can be an issue BECAUSE of Diabetes. Insulin treatment can often cause a deficiency in potassium. Potassium is important to counteract the effects of sodium and for the proper function of key areas in the body.

Taurine: Well, this one is good news for me. People with Type 1 Diabetes often suffer form low Taurine levels, which can cause certain heart problems and affect the thickness of your blood. The good news is that Taurine can be found in protein-rich foods. Or in my case, they supplement most energy drinks with Taurine.

Vitamins: Diabetics can, in most cases, have decreased levels in key vitamins including but not limited to B vitamins, Vitamin C, D, E and Zinc. I’ve covered off the use of most of these vitamins in an earlier post (What Did You Think You Were Eating For?), but you can get most of these in their proper amounts by taking a simple daily multi-vitamin.

There are a number of other vitamins and supplements as well, but these are the primary ones that I’ve found in my travels. Obviously, you want to talk to your doctor before starting any of these, with the exception of a generic multi-vitamin.

It IS possible to over-supplement, so it’s important to get the right information before starting to take them. It’s also possible to become paranoid and to start taking supplements simply to ensure you’re getting enough, even though in most cases you don’t need them.

Although some supplements offer the promise of lowered insulin levels and better blood glucose control, most of them need to be tailored and dosed in accordance with each person, specifically. So eat a healthy, balanced diet, test your blood sugars often and keep in touch with your medical practitioner. Those practices on their own, will help to curb some of the issues described above. ☯

Raise A Glass… To Your Vices.

Look, I enjoy my occasional cold beer on a hot summer day like anyone else does. I would be lying if I said I Didn’t occasionally enjoy a nice black spiced rum when I write. But how do we know if our enjoyment stems from craving or addiction?

I have written previous posts on the effects of alcohol on the Diabetic system, so I won’t go into great detail about it again. I’ll simply point out that alcohol can have some negative effects, such as lowering or increasing blood sugar.

Alcohol is processed by the liver, the organ generally responsibly for the release of glucose when signalled by the body. But if the liver is busy processing all the alcohol from the keg you just tapped, it may not be able to respond accordingly and your blood sugar could drop.

The flip side is that depending on the type of alcohol you consume, there can be an increased amount of carbohydrate. For example, the average can of beer contains between 12 to 15 grams of beer, depending on the brand and type. So if you consume 3 or 4 cans, you’re taking in 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates and it becomes important to take insulin accordingly. Certain “pure” alcohols however, contain no carbohydrates until you mix them with something. These include spirits such as whiskey and rum. Most of them lose their carbohydrate content during the distilling process.

Now that I’ve covered off the Diabetic aspect of it all, let’s discuss booze in general. I know a lot of people who consume alcohol recreationally. In fact, humanity has been consuming alcohol as early as 5000 years ago, with the introduction of drinks like Sura and Mead. Some studies have revealed we may have started even earlier than that, but as usual, I digress…

My goal today is to share the story of my first drink. I was 23 years old and in Okinawa. No, that’s not a typo. I genuinely never had alcohol until almost my mid-twenties. I often tell folks I was 21, but since I was born in 1978 and went to Japan in 2001, well… you do the math!

Given that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 4, I imposed quite a number of restrictions on myself from a young age. Alcohol was one of them. Even throughout my teen years, I never really partook. Part of the reason was because I was generally a designated driver for friends. Another reason is because I had the opportunity to see the foolishness that ensued from said friends after drinking. I figured I wanted no part of that.

By the time that 2001 had crept around the corner, I had still never experienced the hooch. And in all honesty, I never felt I had missed out on much. But in October of that year, my karate instructor and myself along with a couple of other students travelled to Japan and onward to Okinawa.

The trip was long and complicated. We switched flights a number of times through Canada and the United States before finally crossing over the Pacific. After making a number of smaller bunny hop flights, we started the final flight that would take us from New York to Narita, Japan. It was a long, overnight flight that lasted the better part of 14 hours.

During this leg of the trip, Sensei came over and sat next to me to discuss some of the finer points of custom and tradition that I would be dealing with. Part of these customs included the fact that toasting and consuming alcohol, such as Sake and beer, would need to be observed.

When Sensei saw the look on my face, he explained that he understood that I had never drank before and that if all I did was have a sip during toasts and such, that would be adequate. He did go on to explain that custom dictated that refusing an offered drink would be construed as an insult to the host’s hospitality and that at my age, there should be no issue with accepting.

And no, before any of my readers start reading into this as a form of peer pressure, it was far from anything close to that. Had there been a genuine medical or religious reason behind my aversion to alcohol, he would have totally respected that. But I figured it would be fine.

During our initial few days in Tokyo, we visited a Japanese dignitary that Sensei was acquainted with. True to Sensei’s word, the man’s wife served us all beer. Oddly enough, it came in a plastic bottle. I had never seen that before It was Asahi or Orion beer. I can’t recall which one, as I had enjoyed them both while overseas.

Anyway, I don’t have any illusions of being a genius. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I feel I’m intelligent and level-headed enough to approach most situations rationally and with a touch of common sense. Once the bottle was placed in front of me, I held it up under my nose and took and experimental sniff. I glanced at Sensei, who glared at me and shifted his eyes to the bottle as if to say, “Quit f%&kin’ around and take a sip…”

So I did. Hey! It wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it had a touch of carbonation similar to soda. What was the big deal? So I started to drink it. I drank it as though it were soda. That’s where I went wrong. So very, very wrong…

I had that beer finished within fifteen minutes. Bearing in mind that this was the first beer I EVER drank, this wasn’t so smart. Remember that common sense I mentioned earlier? Gone.

In an effort to be a dutiful wife to the host, as soon as I had taken my last sip and the bottle touched the table, it was taken away and a fresh one was placed in front of me. I glanced at Sensei once again, who gave me a look akin to a disgruntled father. I took this to mean that refusing the second would be as insulting as refusing the first. And even though that assumption was correct, there was a catch. But I’ll get to that.

So, I kept drinking. The process repeated itself a few times until I had consumed 4 bottles of beer in roughly a 1 hour period. Uh oh… Houston, we have a problem! I started to feel a touch of disorientation and almost felt as though I was moving even if I wasn’t. My “no big deal” attitude was quickly replaced by an “oh, shit” attitude when I came to the realization that I was drunk. For the first time. In Japan. In a dignitary’s house, no less.

All of a sudden Sensei slaps his thighs and gets up, announcing that it was time to go. I sat there, flexing the muscles of my legs experimentally. One of the other students sitting next to me happened to be a guy I graduated with from high school. He had a drunken look on his face but was likely accustomed to the effect and was dealing with it, no problem.

He glanced at me and asked what was wrong. i told him I thought I was drunk. Bear in mind that I wasn’t demonstrating any signs of being drunk. My speech wasn’t slurred, I wasn’t swaying in my seat… Everything was based on the feelings and sensation happening inside.

He said, “You don’t look drunk.” I replied that I knew that. He also said, “You don’t sound drunk, either.” I took a deep breath and responded, “I’m aware of all that, but I’m quite sure that if I try to stand right now my legs may not support me.” He was good enough to help me to my feet and guide me out the door.

The dignitary, his wife and sons were lined up at the door to see us of. We made quite the pair, each with an arm around the other, stumbling out the door. Way to make a first impression in Japan…

I felt reasonably like crap for the next few hours, and Sensei got a great laugh out of it. When he came over to talk to me about it and ask how I felt, he also asked me why I decided to drink quite so much. I explained that I felt I couldn’t refuse any of the drinks. He agreed that this would have been an insult. The detail he failed to mention BEFORE the outing is that I could have nursed that one beer for the entire hour that we were there and it would have been fine. In fact, having a bit of beer left in the bottle would have been better, as it tells your host that you’ve had enough and they’ve satisfied their guest. this would have been a great detail to know prior to going out.

Looking back on it 18 years later, it’s great for a laugh. And I’ve often used it as a good story for people in relation to drinking and its effects. But at the time, I remember having a bit of a feeling of invincibility since I never really experienced a hangover. That’s when I reached the point back in Canada, where i overdid it. I no longer have that benefit.

Everything in moderation, folks. Although some people view alcohol as a poison on the body (and by some definitions, it is), there’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink with friends. It becomes a problem if you start needing that drink to help you go to sleep, combat certain pain or anxiety or if you’re drinking at radically inappropriate times (at work, first thing in the morning, meeting your future in-laws, etc…)

Be sure to reach out to the appropriate resources, should you feel that you fall under that category. Sometimes life slips away on us, and we don’t necessarily realize we have a problem until it’s pointed out to us. There are tons of easily accessible resources online that be searched within seconds and your medical practitioner would also be able to help. ☯

When Your Dogs Are Barking…

One of the important things that is often discussed in terms of Diabetes complications are the feet. Because Type 1 Diabetics tend to have poor circulation in the extremities, we often tend to have issues with our feet. It wouldn’t be a Diabetes post unless I listed a complication, right?

But seriously, we tend to have some seriously poor circulation and carry a lot of issues in our eyes and our feet. But why is that? As a general rule, Type 1 Diabetes tends to cause bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, fungal infections, ingrown toenails and dry skin. Not least of these is the fact that we tend to take WAY longer to heal any cuts or wounds in our feet as compared to a non-Diabetic person.

Most importantly, Diabetes tends to cause specific nerve damage and circulatory issues that can lead to severe foot issues. This is one of the reasons I recently posted about why Diabetics shouldn’t run around bare-footed.

According to WebMD (https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/foot-problems#1), one of the serious problems you could face is sensory Diabetic neuropathy. This is when you have nerve damage in your feet as a result of poor blood circulation. The resulting lack of feeling not only causes wounds to heal slower, but also makes it so that you don’t feel heat or pain in your extremities. This causes a score of other issues in your feet as well.

The second issue is poor blood flow, or peripheral vascular disease. This is specifically what causes the poor circulation within your feet and all the problems attached. This can eventually lead to gangrene or other conditions that will lead to eventual amputation of the foot if you don’t take proper care of it.

Obviously, all of the issues I listed in the second paragraph are worth noting, as well. But here are a few things you can do to prevent these issues.

Dry your feet. As much as that sounds like a basic step, first and foremost, you can ensure the prevention of some foot problems by properly drying between each of your toes after each shower.

Exercise regularly. You’re probably sick to death of hearing me say that, but exercising seriously deals with a whole whack of issues and is ultimately good for you, overall.

Don’t ignore foot injuries. It’s easy to overlook small cuts and scrapes, and it may be okay to do so. But paying closer attention to them to prevent infection and other issues can be just as easy and prevent long-term issues.

Your feet are kind of important. I don’t now about you, but I need them for a whole bunch of things like walking, running, kicking, etc… But maintaining good blood sugar levels, exercising regularly and checking your feet can all be easy ways to prevent deeper and more severe issues down the road.

Take a step towards preventing issues with your feet (see what i did there?) ☯

Growth Is Painful

I often write about how life is tough. Of course it is, right? Where would the challenge of life be, without the constant obstacles that consume our daily lives. If everything was handed to us on a silver platter, we’d get slow and lazy and never reach for the stars. With that thought in mind, it becomes paramount that we meet those challenges head on. There really is no other solution.

Mandy Hale once said, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” Powerful words. Like with most quotes, the meaning behind the words are certainly up for interpretation, but the obvious meaning here is that life in general and all its challenges WILL hurt; but not quite as much as staying rooted in that pain without trying to move forward.

The only thing worse than working hard your entire life and not having it pan out is having it pan out and then it all gets torn out from under you. But those challenges aren’t meant to break you; they are meant to help you grow stronger. Sometimes we are living a situation that’s toxic to us, even when we don’t realize it. Some people I know personally, are even in a life that makes them unhappy, yet they persevere in that life.

And why do we do this? Usually it’s because we’ve become so accustomed to the lifestyle we’ve become entrenched into that we’re almost frightened to move on to something that could potentially be better for us.

So let that strength grow. If you’re willing to step up and fight, you’d be surprised how far you can reach. It won’t always be easy, but who ever said life was meant to be easy, right?

In reading some things I previously wrote, I was reminded of this tonight. Sometimes the effort required to fight through all these challenges seems overwhelming. I hate to be THAT guy and quote Bruce Lee, but he once said something that significantly applies to this. He once said, “Do not pray for an easy life.pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”