Make A Meal Of Some Information…

Mornings suck… I mean, you’re entitled to your opinion if you believe this to be false, but I dislike waking up in the morning. Maybe it’s because I never get a genuine full-night’s rest from my sleep, for various reasons. But getting up in the morning leads to certain routines that most people adhere to. Things like brewing/consuming coffee and perhaps having breakfast.

Now, I’m not a nutritionist or a dietitian and I have no formal training in those areas. I function solely on the personal knowledge and study I’ve accumulated over decades due to being a Type-1 Diabetic. And I will allow myself a brief vulnerability and admit that I’m probably one of the worst people for failing to consume what is generally considered the most important meal of the day: breakfast!

I grew up in a household where breakfast was not only considered the most important meal of the day, but it was mandatory. I have memories of my mother almost physically dragging me to the breakfast table during those awkward teenage years when all you want to do is sleep. There was no way I would be permitted to leave the house without something in my stomach.

The main idea is that eating breakfast within an hour of waking up helps your body to get the sustenance and energy it requires to attack the challenges of the day. Your body’s metabolism is usually at its lowest upon waking, which is why you need the nutrients and energy from a well-balanced breakfast to kick things off. Skipping breakfast and/or the first meal of your day can have negative effects on your body.

According to a paragraph in an article by Science Direct, “[…] the failure to eat (a well-balanced) breakfast has been documented to have a deleterious impact on cognitive performance […]” The takeaway is that trying to start your day without food in your system will affect your overall cognitive functions and impede your overall performance.

WebMD seems to agree as a quote from their webpage states, “Skipping the morning’s meal can throw off your body’s rhythm of of fasting and eating. When you wake up, the blood sugar your body needs to make your muscles and brain work their best is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it.” The article goes on to explain that skipping breakfast can lead to feeling drained and “zapped” of energy throughout the day, an effect I can attest to have suffered from on a number of occasions.

I’ll admit that I’m quite guilty of this. My first actions in the morning usually include grabbing the first available source of caffeine and flopping down into my desk chair and working on this blog… Thoughts of food don’t hit me until close to lunchtime, by which time I’ve become hungry enough that I overeat. This is an issue that I’ve gotten into a habit of stemming by eating a simple english muffin with my coffee.

What you eat for breakfast is often as important as whether or not you choose to consume breakfast. A balanced meal of proteins, grains and dairy will help ensure your body gets the necessary “kick” it requires to make it through the day. On the flip side, if you constantly consume a breakfast heavy in fats and processed sugars like popular name-brand cereals and bacon, you may start the day with a full stomach but you may also be doing damage in other ways. So, be smart about what you eat and when (something that WOULD require the advice of a nutritionist or dietitian)

So if breakfast is the most important meal of the day, is there a LEAST important meal? The short answer is no. All three meals, accompanied with light, healthy snacks in between, are all just as important in the grand scheme of your health. That being said, lunch can be a bit on the light side, with an accompanying snack during the middle of the afternoon. Dinner (or supper) may end up being a substantial meal as it’s statistically the one we have at home with the family and is prepared to be larger to accommodate everyone. But there’s no hard and fast rule to this.

The one important detail to remember is that no matter what meals you partake in and what time you enjoy them at, experts agree that you should stop eating a minimum of a couple of hours before bed so that your digestive system has time to process your food before you try and sleep. Once you go to sleep, your body is meant to fast as it works on rejuvenating itself for the day to come; something it can’t do if it spends half the night digesting your buffalo wings from your Netflix binge!

Eating your meals at proper intervals will also help with proper blood sugar control if you have Diabetes. Maintaining a proper routine and healthy diet is always the optimal choice in order to help prevent spikes or drops in blood sugar. So, there you have it! If you grew up through the 80’s like I did and constantly heard commercials on Saturday morning about starting your morning with a healthy breakfast, that rule is still a reality today.

For myself, I usually end up skipping breakfast in favour of sleeping in for that added twenty minutes and rushing off to work. But the reality is that most studies will show that getting up a touch earlier and having a proper breakfast may go farther towards ensuring you’re awake and alert than hitting the old snooze button. So take time to grab a meal before facing the world. It always looks better on a full stomach. ☯

Life Isn’t A StopWatch

I hate being interrupted. Honestly, it happens in all aspects of life; there’s simply no getting around that. With children, work and daily obligations, interruptions to ANY task I may be doing is a common occurrence. And I’ve honestly come to expect interruptions and even become concerned when I’m not interrupted. This usually means that my son is up to something… (he’s literally pestering me for food as I type this sentence)

A good example is the fact that between the first paragraph and this one, I’ve been away from my keyboard for about twenty minutes making waffles for my son and trying to figure out why my Roku stick won’t play his damnable shows…(Burn in hell, Peppa Pig!) But the good news is with something like a blog, I can stop typing to deal with whatever the interruption may be and return to it once I’ve gotten clear. But what about something like working out? Can you stop your workout and come back to it, later on?

Life isn’t a stopwatch. There’s no way to pause time and restart it once we’ve gotten past whatever may be in the way. There are a finite number of hours in the week, and focusing on one’s fitness amidst needy children, work, chores around the house and anything else that may come along can prove to be difficult. How effectively can your fitness plans be instituted into your daily life in these conditions?

According to a blog post on Strong Mommas, there are four valuable tips to dealing with interruptions to your fitness routine. You can click the link to get the full details from the post, but I’ll synopsize these tips here, based on how I deal with things. There are only three tips listed in my post because #2 and #3 in the linked post are basically the same:

  1. Workout when you’ll be least interrupted. This can be a bit difficult, depending on your lifestyle and what job you have. The article describes the writer finally “sucking it up” and waking up at 5:30 in the morning to wake up. Screw that noise! I’m not a morning person to start with, so that’s the LAST option I would entertain. But it happens to be a period where the writer can guarantee she won’t be interrupted, so it works for her. Cycling workouts are best for me, as they happen to be outside the home. But even this gets interrupted, depending on what I have going on at home. If you have a period of the day where you may have some peace and quiet, this should be when you go for it. I agree on the writer’s last thought on this point, that working out during late evening when the kids go to bed can be rough, especially since you’ll likely be tired as well;
  2. Pick up where you left off. If your workout gets interrupted and you find yourself freed up, there’s nothing wrong with coming right back to it. This sucks, since you’ve likely cooled down while taking care of whatever caused the interruption. If you can get back to it within 15 minutes, you should be good to go. Depending on how much your body has cooled down, you may have to warm up again before resuming your workout. This will depend greatly on how tight your muscles feel and is subjective to the person working out. If you’ve barely reached halfway through your set, just start the set from the beginning;
  3. You may have to surrender and quit the workout. There’s a chance that depending on the workout and what the interruption is, you won’t get the chance to return to your workout. That pisses me off to no end and stubbornly, I often don’t include these instances in my logs. But as most fitness experts would tell you, doing anything is better than doing nothing.

If you’re anything like me, you should PLAN on being interrupted. Whether it’s a phone call, a child’s needs or anything else in the household, you can almost be guaranteed that your workout may be interrupted. I’ve found that what usually works for me is doing a shorter workout. Working out for only 30 minutes significantly increases the odds that you’ll get through your sweat before being stopped or interrupted. That being said, it also depends on what type of workout you’re indulging in.

The important thing to remember is to roll with the punches and not let it discourage you or stress you into NOT working out. You can exercise literally anywhere at anytime, so this is a pretty good flexibility when all things are considered. Look for opportunities and take advantage of whatever may be in front of you. For example, whenever I go for my eye injections in the city, I always walk from my hotel to the hospital, then back. It’s not an intense workout, by any means but it gives me the better part of over a kilometre of walking, which is better than nothing.

To be honest, I’m a creature of habit and routine, and I absolutely despise having said routines disrupted by anything. So I usually have to work pretty hard at not letting the anxiety levels rise to ridiculous levels. For example, while writing this post I was interrupted at least a half dozen times by the varying members of my family and their need of my assistance. Like I said, it’s GOING to happen, there’s no getting out of it. So plan accordingly, stick with it and keep pushing forward, no matter what the grind of daily life throws in your way! ☯

Peace Is A Habit, Not An Accident

Although frequently misquoted, Bruce Lee continues to be a source of knowledge and inspiration to many people, martial artists or not. In my opinion, one of the best quotes he’s ever come up with is, “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” The lesson there is pretty simple; life isn’t MEANT to be easy. Humans, as a species, would not have evolved if life was all comfort and ease.

Finding your inner peace in the midst of modern life isn’t easy. It’s made all the more difficult through recent developments that see most families isolated inside their homes together for extended periods of time. It probably SHOULDN’T be like that, but the reality is that everyone needs a bot of time alone, sometimes. Letting your head cool and finding time to be alone and to mediate can be challenging, even frustrating. This leads to an endless cycle of frustration feeds lack of peace, lack of peace increases frustration and so on and so forth…

I’m sure you’ve heard people say that life is what you make of it. And while this is true, you need to acknowledge that your life is YOUR life and that one often needs to adapt in order to find that inner peace that is so needed to make life work. That’s why there should always be a bit of time in every day that you take for yourself. It doesn’t have to be long or measured in hours, but every member of the household should be able to enjoy a bit of solitude in order to centre themselves.

For my 5-year old son, this means sprawling in his bed with his iPad and watching Paw Patrol or Hello Ninja on repeat until he decides to go outside and try to reenact what he sees on screen. For my wife, it involves doing digital puzzles. For me, it involves finding time/space to meditate or go out on a bike ride. The bike rides have won over the most in recent weeks, especially since I’m trying to build my tolerance for long distances.

Wayne Dyer once said, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than what you think it should be.” If you wait until life is exactly how you want it in order to find peace, you may be surprised at how empty and shorter your life will be. Accept what is and make a point to find your own peace within your daily life. You and the people in your environment will be all the better for it. ☯

Cue The Barry White Music…

One of the least discussed but most common issues with adult Diabetics, is complications in relations to sex. Realistically, whether you have Type-1 or Type-2, having Diabetes can cause some difficulties in relation to intimacy and sex, and it applies to both men and women.

It may be considered a bit taboo, and most people avoid talking about it. But solid communication is key in overcoming these complications. Trust me, I know all too well the stress and anxiety that comes with a first-time sexual encounter where I have to provide some rudimentary explanation about low blood sugar or why I may not be able to perform in that exact moment. It can make things hard (no pun intended!) and can be damaging to one’s self-esteem and self-image.

The first issue that applies to both genders, is blood circulation. Diabetes affects the nervous system and damages blood vessels. The unfortunate reality is that good blood circulation is necessary for a man to obtain and maintain an erection. Good blood circulation is also required in order for a woman’s vagina to swell, dilate and become lubricated. So you can just imagine that poor blood circulation and neurological damage can throw a damper in THAT department.

Another issue, which should be pretty obvious is one’s control of blood sugar. Nothing kills the mood faster than having your blood sugar drop. Because trust me, everything else drops with it! The best approach is to treat sex much like a workout. If you know sex is coming (which would be pretty presumptuous, but go with it), maybe carb up a bit so that you don’t suffer a low. Make sure to keep some fast-acting carbohydrates next to the bed (or wherever).

Last but not least, is the equipment. If you happen to wear an insulin pump, consider a lower, temporary basal rate for the next hour or suspend and remove your pump. Removing your pump for an hour is usually harmless, providing you don’t forget to reconnect. Seeing an electronic device tethered to the outside of your body can be a bit off-putting to someone who isn’t expecting it. But there again is where that ol’ communication aspect comes in.

I think we can all agree that Diabetes causes enough problems in one’s daily life without hampering one of life’s simple and natural pleasures. So plan ahead, communicate with your partner and be certain to test your blood sugar often. A healthy diet and exercise will also go a long way towards helping to prevent those particular difficulties. ☯

Crack A Cold One For Your Health…🍺

We have less than a month before the calendar-recognized beginning of summer. And I don’t know about y’all, but I definitely enjoy cracking a cold beer on a hot day! And that enjoyment has already started. I was tilling and seeding my back yard early last week, and when it was all said and done, my reward was to sit down with a cold brew and read a few chapters of a Lee Child book.

The truth is, beer has a notorious reputation and a love/hate relationship with many. Some of the world’s worst decisions and actions are a result of getting blitzed on beer. But like most things in life, the negative can be avoided simply by practicing some moderation. In fact, consuming beer in moderation (no more than one or two drinks a day) can lend a number of health benefits.

Much like wine, beer can help reduce the risk of heart disease. This is done by reducing inflammation and thinning the blood, thereby reducing the chance of developing a clot. It can also help to increase the “good cholesterol” and fight plaque in the arterial walls.

Beer is often considered to be bad for you but the reality is that beer contains a number of nutrients and minerals that can be beneficial. A Spanish study reported that people who worked out and rehydrated afterwards with beer were shown to be slightly better hydrated than those who drank only water. This is likely because beer contains many of the minerals required to maintain hydration and prevent hyponatremia.

Since beer increases insulin sensitivity, some studies have shown that moderately increasing your consumption of beer can reduce the risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes. That doesn’t mean getting lit every night and hoping you won’t develop Type-2! Moderation is the key, here.

Healthline.com has a good article that covers a number of the benefits and just to keep things on an equal playing field, they cover some of the downsides as well. Concerning someone with Diabetes, it’s important to remember that beer is loaded with carbs. This means you’ll have to take additional insulin to accommodate your drink. The average 355mL can of beer contains between 11 to 15 grams of carbohydrates. It starts to add up quickly if you have more than a couple.

Another issue is beer gut. Drinking beer in heavy amounts can lead to weight gain, especially from the calorie count. And of course, let’s not forget that drinking any alcoholic beverage in excess can lead to an addiction. But it’s nice to know that if someone comments about the cold beer you’re enjoying on a hot, summer afternoon on your afternoon off, you can brag about the benefits. ☯

The Roller Coaster Buffoon

Besides realizing the amazing accomplishments people can achieve despite having Type-1 Diabetes, my second favourite Diabetes aspect to write about are my pet peeves. And there are many of them. People have a lot of pre-conceived notions about Diabetes, what causes it and what the realities of dealing with it may be.

One of the worst pre-conceived notions I often hear about, is that Diabetes control only involves two things: exercise and insulin to lower blood sugar, and eating sugar to increase blood sugar. It’s actually much more complicated than that and the amount of attention that needs to be paid to all the “little” details would boggle your mind.

Let’s start by taking a look at the above image. This is a screen shot of my FreeStyle Libre from last week. Ignoring the painful fact that I only spent 46% time “in range” that day, you may notice that cute little spike in blood sugar levels during mid-day. This was right around the time that I was logging a 50-kilometre bike ride. So, what does this mean? Shouldn’t my blood sugar drop, if I’m performing strenuous exercise?

Not necessarily. In fact, strenuous exercise can often INCREASE your blood sugar, depending on the type of exercise and the accompanying rush you get. When under stress (me), in response to low blood sugars or when getting a rush of adrenaline, the body will release something called Glycogen, which is a secondary fuel source for the body.

So, what is Glycogen you ask? Or maybe you didn’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway. According to an article posted by Diabetes.co.uk, “In a healthy body, the pancreas will respond to higher levels of blood glucose, such as in response to eating, by releasing insulin which will lower blood glucose levels by prompting the liver and muscles to take up glucose from the blood and store it as Glycogen.”

Think of it as a spare battery for your body. In a normal human being, Glycogen will be released when the body needs extra glucose or energy, such as during strenuous exercise. The problem with someone with Type-1 Diabetes, is our pancreas doesn’t produce the insulin required to adjust for the high blood sugars that may result from a sudden release of Glycogen. Hence, the spike in my blood sugars.

Glycogen is actually pretty important towards keeping your muscles fuelled and helping you through physical exertion. In fact, low blood sugar after physical exertion will often happen because the body is trying to replenish its Glycogen stores by sapping the glucose in the blood. This is why exercising means adjustments to my basal rates, blousing in response to sudden spikes, staying properly hydrated and consuming fast-acting carbohydrates.

Nice, eh? A little more to it than just taking insulin or eating glucose. It’s just one more of those aspects related to my condition that requires monitoring and/or control. So the next time you see someone you know with Diabetes, wolfing down a donut or complaining of high blood sugars after an intense workout, you’ll know just a little bit more about the process. It’s a constant roller coaster of control… ☯

How To Hydrate 💦

Water is kind of a big deal. Humans are composed roughly of 60% water, which makes consuming it all the more important. I’ve touched on this in previous posts, namely Some Watered Down Information (Yes, I reference my own posts! Wanna make something’ of it?) But how we consume that water is almost as important as how much.

How much water you need to consume in a day depends on varying factors, including weight, age and certain medical conditions. But the agreed amount these days is to drink half your body weight in ounces. So for example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should consume 100 ounces (or 2.84 litres) of water a day. That amount can increase, especially in the warmer months or if you’re physically active.

Now that we’ve covered that, what if you were to chug 3 litres of water within the first few hours of your day. Would you need to drink more later on, or have you reached your quota and you’re good to go? Believe it or not, chugging or sipping makes a difference.

According to an online article posted by ScienceABC, “When we have consumed more water than the body needs to operate, it responds by flushing out excess water to ensure that the correct amount stays within the body.” In other words, if you chug water in mass amounts, it may sate your thirst in the immediate moment, but you’ll urinate the excess and won’t hit your daily limit.

This is also confirmed in the article, where they say, “[…] any excess water in the body is flushed out through the urine, which is more likely to happen with gulping.” So if you gulp large amounts, your body will just get rid of the excess anyway. Gulping too much water, which in turns causes the excess to be urinated, will force the kidneys to expel necessary salts from the body along with it. The loss of these salts can cause fatigue, headaches and tissue swelling. It’s a condition called Hyponatremia.

Other problems with chugging or consuming too much water include upsetting the proper balance of electrolytes in the body and water intoxication. These can be accompanied by a number of symptoms including but not limited to fatigue, weakness, irritability and confusion. Seems like a bit of a pain in the ass, just for drinking too much water, eh?

So, the best practice in order to stay properly hydrated throughout the day without causing issues is to simply sip consistently. There is no “optimal” temperature; whatever temperature of water gets you to stay hydrated is ideal. For Diabetics especially, some of that excess consumption can happen when we have very high blood sugars, which cause increased thirst. This becomes a prime example of how the body will flush out excess water.

No matter what, be sure to keep a bottle of water with you at all times, especially during the summer months, and sip from it consistently in order to stay hydrated. Remember that your hydration needs will increase if you’re out in the summer heat and/or exercising. ☯

Summer Flowers Bring Golden Showers…

The sunny season is fast approaching, with less than a month before the calendar’s recognition of the first day of summer (although current Saskatchewan climate makes it feel like it’s already here). And with the increased temperature comes the necessity to stay hydrated and sip plenty of water and fluids throughout the day. A lot of us have that unfortunate period at the beginning of the summer when we attempt to continue pushing just as hard as we have been without upping our water intake (exhibit “A” would be the nausea and light-headedness I felt last week after a long bike run).

But if you’re hydrating properly and taking in lots of fluids, the inevitable result will be that you’ll hit the washroom often, as well. Depending on where you get your information, it isn’t necessarily abnormal to see a people urinating up to ten times a day. Obviously, there are a number of factors behind this and there is no “set” number for any specific person. Diet, exercise habits and your consumption of things like caffeine and/or alcohol.

Just shy of New Year’s, I published a post entitled What Goes In, Must Come Out in relation to the body’s waste and why it’s important to sneak a peak at what’s coming out of you and what the different colours and textures could mean. Not the most pleasant of subjects, and the average person considers it embarrassing and even taboo in some respects, to discuss any of it (even if everyone does it).

But there are a number of important and medically relevant reasons to keep an eye on what comes out of you, and urine is no exception. If you have Diabetes, the urine can be used to check and measure ketones. At the risk of becoming long-winded, since I’ve explained this in previous posts, the long and short of it is that if your body isn’t getting the glucose it needs it will break down fat tissues as a substitute. This substitute creates ketones, which can end up in the blood stream and cause a score of complications.

Ketones will usually spill out through the urine, which is a means of measuring them. These days there are actual meters you can use, which is a step up from the old days when I had to either dip a test strip into a container of urine or try my hand at aiming cleanly enough to shoot directly on the stick. But checking for ketones is only one important aspect. Colour and frequency are also important aspects and the subject of today’s post…

First, according to an article posted by the Mayo Clinic, urine is normally supposed to be pale yellow to deep amber. The colour is “the result of a pigment called urochrome and how diluted or concentrated the urine is.” The depth and shade of colour is attributed to how much water you consume and how hydrated you may be. Believe it or not, if your urine comes out completely clear, you’ve likely drank too much water and your body is flushing out the excess.

But the thing is that depending on your health, hydration, diet and medications, your urine can represent all the colours of the rainbow; and very few of them are good news. There are a few really good sources that explain what all these colours mean, and they all cover the same basic information. The best one I’ve found is from HealthLine.com:

  1. Clear: This is the one I mentioned above, where you’ve been drinking too much water. Although being hydrated is a good idea, too much water will flush out needed electrolytes. Doesn’t mean you should STOP, but tapering back on the amount you sip is ideal;
  2. Yellow: Ah, the old classic! Under ideal circumstances, this is the colour your urine should appear, but may have different shades of the colour depending on your hydration level. If you happen to have a lot of B-Vitamins in your bloodstream, like on days I get greedy and have two energy drinks instead of one (I know, bad me!) your urine can have an almost fluorescent yellow appearance;
  3. Red or Pink: Most people would see red and panic, thinking it’s blood. It’s not. remember the colour wheel you studied in like, first grade? You need yellow and magenta to make a red hue. So if you already have red, it shouldn’t be blood (unless your blood is pink, you Klingon!). Red or pink urine is normally because of foods but can also be the result of kidney stones or tumours;
  4. Orange: This could be due to dehydration, but can also be caused by issues with the bile duct or liver. Jaundice in adults can also cause orange urine;
  5. Blue or Green: Is this becoming surreal? How bad of a panic attack would you have if you looked down and saw blue fu&$in’ piss in the bowl? This is normally caused by dyes or food colouring, although certain bacterial infections can be the cause;
  6. Dark Brown: This one is normally due to dehydration, although certain foods and medications can cause it. In extreme cases, it can also indicate liver disease.

Like I said, all the colours of the rainbow! Yay! Don’t even get me started on the smell of your urine and whether it burns or stings. That’s a whole other thing! I consulted a few different medical websites, but they’re all of the same opinion. If you see swirls of blood in your urine, have a colour indicator of something potentially serious as explained above, or the discoloured urine is accompanied by fever, pain or vomiting, then it’s time to see a doctor.

Most of us go to the washroom, flush whatever’s in there and wash up (I hope) and leave. But there’s something to be said for keeping an eye on what your body is expelling. It can lead to early warnings and potentially avoid serious complications. Sometimes, colour will simply be off for simple reasons like dehydration or something you ate. In those cases, normal urine colour should return within two to three days. If it doesn’t, a visit to your doctor may be in the cards. ☯

I Wash My Hands Of It…

Proper hygiene is significantly important, and has always been so even before the advent of everyone finally realizing to WASH THEIR HANDS!!!! Seriously though, good hygiene and cleaning habits are an important part to staying healthy, and can have a significant impact on your overall health and every day life.

For example, did you know that depending on they type and thickness of your toilet paper, it can take up to ten layers to stop fecal bacteria from passing through? Kind of makes you think twice about walking out before scrubbing the ‘ol paws, right? Don’t stress too hard over it; there’s already bacteria on the toilet paper BEFORE you use it anyway. Oh, wait… That’s all the more reason to WASH YOUR HANDS!!!

Good hand washing practices have been pushed for decades, and has in fact been explained as one of the top ways people can easily prevent the spread of germs, bacteria and disease. It’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic for people to lose their proverbial shit and start washing their hands more often, hoarding and slathering layers of sanitizer to boot. If you want my thoughts on hand sanitizer, you can read one my previous posts here: Cleaning? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That…

Bearing in mind that you should be washing your hands properly and often, whether they’re dirty or not, what is the “proper” method? Well, according to the Centre For Disease Control, one should wash one’s hands for at least 20 seconds or more, using soap and fresh, running water. Close attention should be paid to ensure your scrub all areas of your hands, including between the fingers, back of the palms and under the nails.

The length of time depends on how dirty your hands may be, or what kind of filth they may have been exposed to. But once you’re done scrubbing, they need to be properly rinsed under fresh, running water. This is because soap will help to lift and remove filth, bacteria and germs from your hands, but then need to be rinsed off. Then, be sure to dry your hands properly as germs can be transferred easier on wet hands.

The article provides for both air drying or towel drying, and the jury is out on which one is optimal. Personally, I despise hand dryers in public restrooms as I’m not a fan of whatever bacteria ay be floating the washrooms being heated and blown across my flesh. But the jury is out on which method is optimal. The jury is still out on whether hot or cold water makes any measurable difference, but the reality is that hot water will at least help lift some of the germ-ridden oils from your hands that will remain if you use cold water. Additionally, some of the dirt-lifting properties of soap are deactivate by cold water.

Last but not least, remove rings and jewellery when washing. I once saw a television report where they coated the hands in a UV-sensitive chemical that would light up under a black light. They then had the person wash their hands and expose them to a black light. The hands were mostly clean, except for some spots he forgot to scrub. But when he removed his wedding band, a bright blue band of chemical was still present. The same applies to germs and bacteria.

Just to be clear, you’ll never eliminate 100% of bacteria. Nor should you want to. Your body needs some of that shit (pun fully intended). The biggest challenge I’m facing at the moment is trying to teach my 5-year old son the importance of hand washing. He’s of the opinion that if he doesn’t “touch himself” while using the washroom, he doesn’t need to wash his hands. He’s also terrible at understanding to scrub up when he comes inside from playing. Kids…

As usual, all of this can be easily applied to Diabetics, especially since we tend to be prone to infection and should try to keep clean as much as possible. This is especially important if you still use a traditional blood glucose monitor and prick your fingertips repeatedly throughout the day. You should wash your hands in hot, soapy water before and after testing. No matter the state of the world, everyone should be washing their hands often and properly. Not only for good hygiene and to protect yourself but because it also helps to protect others. ☯

Zen In The Apocalypse

It’s been a long couple of months, with the majority of the world doing their very best at staying isolated and social-distancing, and the small percentage of mouth-breathing idiots who are still letting their children play on public play structures and throwing parties and gatherings (I’m looking at you, Karen!). For the most part, the world has been doing what they have to.

Here in Canada, penalties and fines have been issued against quarantine violators in some of the more serious circumstances, and Provincial borders remain closed at most locations. Slowly but surely, governments are beginning to reopen certain semi-essential services, such as dentists, eye doctors and such, mostly on a Provincial basis. Back in New Brunswick, my family reports restaurants reopening with limited seating and families being permitted to travel to each other’s homes. No such leniency has taken place here in Saskatchewan.

But despite the progress that’s been made, it may still be a while before we can all romp in the outdoors and mingle with members of public like we used to. In fact, many believe that this may be the beginning of a new phase of society that could become permanent, with video meetings and working from home becoming the norm.

Despite the closing of businesses, suspension of many jobs and the financial strain that many are feeling as a result of the current pandemic, the aspect that people seem to be having the greatest difficulty adapting to, is self-isolation. Today’s society in general doesn’t do well with being told they HAVE to do something (a fact I’ve learned all too well over the past ten years), which is why we continue to have people who smoke in public places, litter and use their cell phones while driving. But I digress…

The point is, faced with the difficulty of being cooped up inside their homes on a near-constant basis with spouses and children has begun to take a toll on many, with things like cabin fever and quarantine fatigue becoming very real concerns. Emotions and frustrations are rising and the especially important detail of trying to keep children occupied and entertained when they don’t have school and can’t go play at the park can be a real challenge. And trying to stay Zen throughout it all can feel like scaling a mountain with a shard of glass in your boot…

First of all, people need to understand the difference between “quarantine” and “isolation.” I’ve been hearing folks use them interchangeably, but they both have distinctively different meanings. A “quarantine” is defined as a strict isolation imposed t prevent the spread of a disease. This usually involves isolating people who are known, believed or suspected to have, carry or could spread the disease, whether symptomatic or not.

“Isolation”, whether self-imposed or not, is a bit simpler in terms that it’s the separation of a person from others. That’s it. You don’t have the disease (that you know of) but you’re keeping yourself indoors to prevent its spread. Which is great, but it doesn’t mean you can’t step outdoors and it can have detrimental effects on your health if you don’t take steps for your own mental well-being.

The internet has done what it usually does, when something serious of this nature arises and expressed its displeasure with the propagation of memes, jokes and overall lack of seriousness for the whole thing. But the reality is that some families are ACTUALLY having difficulties being isolated together for long periods of time when the norm has been to have their own separate periods away form one another.

But what’s important to remember is that despite terms such as “quarantine” being thrown around, if you are simply self-isolating and aren’t asymptomatic or trying to recover from a serious illness, there’s plenty you can do to help stem the tide of building pressure within your household. Go take a walk. Many people take this possibility for granted, but there’s nothing stopping you from heading out and taking a nice long walk. Fresh air, alone with your thoughts and some mild exercise, it can go a long way towards saving your sanity.

Even just spending time outside, even if you aren’t doing anything, will be very helpful. Fresh air can be an incredible asset. Meditation and Zen can be difficult in a contained environment, especially with small children involved since they don’t understand when mommy or daddy need some “quiet time.” This is one of the reasons I enjoy cycling. Besides the challenge of racking up as many kilometres in as short a time as possible, the fresh air and the time to be alone with my thoughts allows me to engage in a sort of moving meditation.

So be sure to get out there and find yourself something that works for you. Even if you don’t practice Zen, everyone inevitably NEEDS Zen. Finding some balance and peace during uncertain times is important to everybody, and remember that no matter what responsibilities your shoulders may bear, everybody needs/deserves some time to themselves. Even during a pandemic. ☯