Are Your Pants On Fire???

Lies. We all use them. Constantly. Don’t believe me? Think back in recent months when you may have declined to attend a social gathering due to other plans, only to be heading home to binge watch Netflix by yourself. Or perhaps you’ve told a loved one that their meal was your absolute favourite, even if it wasn’t all that great.

Sometimes we tell what are referred to as “white lies”, which are small, trivial lies that are mostly meant to spare someone else’s feelings. These are not so bad when they’re done to spare someone’s feelings. The problem comes when we start telling lies to further our own personal agenda or goals and we gain from lying.

First and foremost, I should explain the Buddhist aspect to all this. The Noble Eightfold Path describes one our most important aspects as practicing Right Speech, which essentially explains that you shouldn’t lie. There’s more to it than that, such as refraining from gossip and being rude. Depending on your interpretation, lying will eventually cause suffering, which then leads into The Four Noble Truths.

Let’s talk about what lying does to the body. Believe it or not, telling a lie is not as straightforward as speaking words that are untrue and moving on. Lying has a measured physiological and psychological effect on the body and mind.

According to an article posted by Medical Daily, lying causes a part of the brain to produce negative feelings that help limit the extent to which we are willing to lie. The article goes on to say that we become desensitized to this response the more we lie. As a result, the more you lie the more you get used to it and start lying more often. That’s why you often hear people say “tell a lie once and all your truths become questionable.” Here’s the article: https://www.medicaldaily.com/how-lying-affects-human-brain-telling-lies-desensitizes-amygdala-dishonesty-402310

As far as the body goes, I didn’t manage to find a great deal of studies on it but the ones I found describe that lies cause the body to release stress hormones, affects the heart rate and blood pressure. Over the long term, this can cause a whole bunch of secondary symptoms such as body pains and headaches, to name a few.

I once heard a television character say (I forget what show) that lying is like applying a band-aid to a leaky pipe. The similarity is that in the same way that the band-aid won’t be able to hold back the leaking water, lies will eventually catch up to you and overtake the harmony of your life. The worst problem with lying is that it’s not only about you. It always ends up affecting someone else, and normally in a negative way. I know this to be true, since some of the most difficult problems I am dealing with in my life these days is predicated on someone else’s lies.

Be honest and seek honesty whenever and wherever possible. Not only will it make your life easier, but the amount of energy it takes to maintain the lies in your life is brutal. Karma, “What Goes Around Comes Around”, “You Reap What You Sow”… Whatever your life perspective or your personal beliefs, the message is pretty clear. Eventually, the lies we tell will bite us in the a$$… ☯

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Aristotle is believed to have coined this saying, although many dispute that it belongs to him. It describes the synergy that can occur between two or more parts that can lead to a greater whole.

Collaboration within a society is a good example of this. Although one person may be good at gathering and building shelter, a group of people will certainly provide more resources, skills and protection than the one would get alone.

So what does this mean in modern society? Certainly, this can apply to the family dynamic. But this has unfortunately shifted drastically with the advent of Millennials and Generation Z. More and more, some believe that a life on their own is more promising and alluring than building a family.

What are your thoughts on this? Although most of the statistics I’ve been able to find are based out of the United States, it appears that there has been a measurable decline in the purchase of homes and having children. There are a number of reasons behind this, from rising housing costs and increasing student loan debts. Psychology Today has a great article that goes into some of the details (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/singletons/201804/should-we-worry-about-millennials-not-having-babies)

I’m sure many of you have heard about “power in numbers”. I know that I would personally be at a loss without the support of my family and friends. It would certainly be impossible to face and deal with the issues of life without my wife at my side. Even my son adds a certain je ne sais quoi… despite how destructive he tends to get. Four-year olds, am I right?

Although the nature of the world may be changing, the benefits and advantages of having people in your life has not. Don’t be afraid to reach out and be with people. You may come to find that the end result will certainly be greater than the sum of your parts. ☯

Well, Isn’t That Sweet…?

Blood sugar testing is one of the most rudimentary steps towards preventing complications when dealing with Type 1 Diabetes. Unless you’re on some sort of continuous glucose monitoring, most health practitioners would recommend testing at least five to ten times a day to ensure that you stay as consistent as possible.

I was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1982 (I know, I know… no need to point out how I’m aging myself…) and at that time, the belief was simply “don’t eat sugar.” Although that’s pretty accurate in some respects, there is far more to controlling Diabetes than JUST sugar.

As a child, I did everything I could to avoid sugary foods (with my parents’ support, of course). Staying away from desserts, juices and sugared products was all I assumed was needed. My parents knew no better either. If I were hungry, bread, crackers, milk… These were acceptable foods that weren’t “sugary” and were therefore safe for me to eat.

From the age 4 until about the age of 10, I suffered through a number of Diabetic comas resulting from extreme blood sugar levels. The worst of these comas lasted for a number of days. I can’t begin to explain how disorienting it is to go to sleep on one day, only to wake up several days later in a hospital bed. I often thank my lucky stars for having shared a bedroom with my older brother, as he was the one who ran to get my parents when he’d wake to find me frothing at the mouth. Without his intervention, I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be here today…

My point is, my family and I didn’t really have a firm understanding many of my Diabetic symptoms throughout my childhood. And the terminology of the time, “avoid sugar”, didn’t help. It wouldn’t be until twenty five years later that I would learn about carbohydrates and how they relate to Diabetes.

An example of a typical Nutrition Label found on most commercially sold food items.

Carb counting is not an OLD concept, per se… But it’s one I didn’t learn about until I started on my insulin pump in 2015. When I started consulting with my pump educators and dieticians, they began asking me about how I was carb counting. I was at a loss. I had become one of those people who focused so much on avoiding sugar and exercising, that I had never really bothered to learn anything new. That meant I had no idea what they were talking about.

Blood glucose levels are affected based on the consumption of carbohydrates. This includes sugar of course, but encompasses so much more. If you look at the nutritional label I included above, you’ll notice the portion I’ve encircled.

The Total Carbohydrate line includes all carbs, sugars and fibers included in the food. That being said, dietary fiber does not affect blood sugar. So if we look at the numbers on this label, you would need to subtract 4 grams of fiber from 37 grams of total carbs. This means you would need to take an insulin dose for 33 grams of carbs, not 37.

A 4 gram difference isn’t extreme, the difference over time can result in serious blood sugar fluctuations and all the symptoms and side effects that follow.

Although the medical definition of Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t change, treatment and proper care is a constantly evolving creature. It becomes important to continue learning and studying, and don’t be afraid to do some research of your own.

I know that doctors absolutely hate knowing we check Google and WebMD, but no information is bad information. Don’t be afraid to do whatever is necessary to ensure your proper health. And keep checking those blood sugar levels… ☯

Peace And Quiet Often Becomes Peace OR Quiet…

Years ago, I had an image in my mind of the ideal scenery. A string of rocky mountains, surrounded by greenery and a crystal clear lake sitting at its base. A crisp, spring morning where there is still dew on the grass and some wildlife running to and fro.

I would emerge from a small wood cabin onto a plain deck, coffee in hand and the vapour of my breath misting away in the morning air. Perhaps a small wood fire crackling in a small fire pit just off the deck, no other sound can be heard except the occasional hawk swooping down to catch a fish from the lake.

No noise, no interruptions and simply the silence of nature… Sounds nice, right? Considering the landscape and setting, the odds are good that there would be no internet and maybe even no electricity. Nothing but the peace of nature and the quiet of solitude.

This is often the image I’ve used while meditating. I find the image and the thought of this description has lent a certain level of focus. Some folks are fortunate enough to visit this image as a reality. Certainly, one can go camping or rent a cabin and this would allow you to experience the peace I’m describing.

This is one of the factors often missing from modern life. You don’t need to become a monk and live in a monastery to get this level of peace and quiet. But if you stop to think about it, even when things are “quiet”, there’s still a great deal of noise happening around you. The sound of your home (furnace, A/C, electronics or machinery), children, vehicles travelling in the distance, the sound of airplanes… Most of these are common background noise, especially if you live in a city.

Take some time to find your quiet place. If you aren’t in a position to go somewhere that allows it to happen naturally, train and develop yourself accordingly so that your mind and meditation allows you some sanctuary from the daily grind of constant white noise. A little peace and quiet goes a long way towards improving one’s health. ☯

Sometimes, Laziness Is A Good Thing…

You know, it’s been a long week. I painted and renovated our upstairs bathroom, laid flooring in the downstairs bathroom, eliminated a bunch of stuff we were no longer using and loads of weeds pulled in the yard and laundry.

I usually have a great deal of difficulty sitting still, and any of my coworkers and my family would concur with that. Between my annoying need to keep moving and always be doing SOMETHING and my compulsive need to clean, a day where I simply sit back and relax is usually quite rare.

I had just such a day today. Today is a civic holiday in Saskatchewan, meaning that most people had the day off. I started my day the way I usually do; with a healthy dose of caffeine to supplement the fact that my son woke me up far earlier than I planned on getting up.

A light breakfast and a few dishes later, I found myself sitting in a comfortable rocker watching some television. No chores, no errands… Then, the whole family partook of a short nap. After a short respite, we decided to take our son Nathan to a splash park to get some fun in the sun and play in the water.

We spent the better part of almost two hours playing in the sun. It was quite warm out today, and Nathan had an absolute blast until he managed to hurt himself and decided he wanted to go home.

Once we got home and were shielded from the sun, we all cooled down and had another bite to eat. This was followed by another nap. Now that we’re all fed and refreshed, I’m currently typing and my son is playing with a Uno deck on the floor. Although “playing” may be a very loose term; he’s mostly scattering the cards all over the floor.

Not exactly an exciting day, right? Was this a lazy day? A wasted day? What do you think? Realistically, in today’s busy world of non-stop hustle and bustle, a lazy day where one does nothing is often needed in order to reset your clock and get proper rest. This is almost as important as getting a full night’s sleep or meditating regularly. ☯

Let’s Lighten The Mood, Shall We?

Think back to a time when you’ve dealt with someone exhibiting a bad mood or a temper. How did you deal with what person? How did their mood affect your interaction with them? Did you do the typical thing and tell them to calm down?

That’s usually the worst thing you can do. Never, in the history of humanity has that ever worked. If anything, telling a person to calm down usually just fuels the fire and makes things worse.

Anger, frustration and rage are symptoms that are all too common to someone suffering from type 1 Diabetes. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause sudden and violent mood swings, which can often be misunderstood by those around you.

I can remember times when I was a teenager, that I was a real a$$hole. Those who know me personally who are reading this may wonder, What’s changed? Don’t get me started…

But seriously, there were times in my youth where my anger outweighed my ability to control it. And this is one of the lesser knowns symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes.

Depending on what source you look into, low and/or high blood sugar will affect different people in different ways. For example, most medical sources will say that low blood sugar will lead to aggression and irritability. For me, high blood sugar has always led to my bad tempers. In fact, I’ve damaged and even ended relationships in my youth because of my temper. In hindsight, I wish I had been aware of these symptoms back then.

According to an article posted by HealthyPlace.com, severe drops or spikes in blood sugar levels can cause several emotional responses including but not limited to, increased doses of cortisol within the brain, which affects the level of adrenaline in the body as well as a number of systems in the brain that affect things like fight-or-flight and self-control.

This is an effect known as “Diabetic Rage“. As most people would agree, feeling anxious, depressed or angry are normal human responses. Things get a little dicey when that anger intensifies and starts being projected on others. Here’s the article, if you wish to peruse: https://www.healthyplace.com/diabetes/mental-health/diabetic-rage-can-diabetes-cause-aggressive-behavior

The first and most obvious step in preventing such mood swings is the proper and frequent checking of your blood glucose levels. Preventing severe highs and lows will help to stem the symptoms. The deeper issue is learning the difference between what’s caused by Diabetes and what’s caused by normal mood and emotion.

Needless to say, it may be difficult to control oneself in the face of these mood swings but if you feel a sudden fit of rage, it may be in your best interest to test your blood glucose and adjusting your levels as needed. Barring Diabetic symptoms, deep breathing exercises and meditation often works for me although having someone tell me to calm down usually sets me off… ☯

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. ☯

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 🥋

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. ☯