There’s Light At The End, Even When The Tunnel Is Dark…

A very wise (and fictional) person once said: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” I’ve always prided myself on being a good person; helping and protecting others and always trying to do the right thing.

In recent days, I’ve come to question what it takes to win a hopeless fight. True battles seem to linger on forever, and one can feel as though it will never end. Sometimes you can feel as though you’ve been fighting forever and you just don’t have any strength left…

I think it was Thomas Fuller who said: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” This is quite accurate. No matter what obstacles you may be facing, it’s important to keep on fighting. Don’t let the battle force your eyes away from the finale. Keep going. You’ll be surprised how those who matter will surface to offer support right when it’s needed the most. ☯


Cleaning? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That…

There’s been a long standing debate over the past two decades about hand cleanliness. At the forefront of this debate is the use of hand sanitizer and its effectiveness.

For Type 1 Diabetics, hand cleanliness is very important. It’s important in order to obtain proper blood sugar results when testing (having residual glucose on your fingers WILL affect your readings) and it also helps to prevent infection and other issues from constantly pricking your fingers.

In recent years, you’d be hard pressed to walk into a public access building or government building without seeing bottles of hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE! So, does using hand sanitizer as an alternative work? Yes and No. And here’s why.

According to Kelly Reynolds, Associate Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Arizona, “you’ll want a hand sanitizer that’s at least 62-70% ethyl alcohol.” Reynolds goes on to explain that you want a hand sanitizer that reduces about 99.99% of the germs on your hands as this is the level required to prevent illness.

You’ll notice I keep saying hand “sanitizer” as opposed to hand “gel”. There are a lot of different formats: gel, foams and otherwise. And the takeaway is that hand sanitizer doesn’t kill everything. Some bacteria and viruses don’t get broken down by hand sanitizer.

Ultimately, washing your hands with hot, soapy water is still the best option. Especially since hand sanitizer won’t help if your hands are physically dirty. All you’re doing is caking sanitizer on top of the grime; the hand sanitizer won’t eliminate the grime.

But even when washing your hands, there are steps to follow. Make sure to get your hands all wet and lather up properly. The temperature of the water really doesn’t matter, as the soap is what removes dirt. Once you’ve scrubbed all over the hands for at least 20 seconds, rinse them under clean water then dry them properly.

People often forget that drying the hands is an important part of cleanliness. If your hands stay wet, you’ll likely pick up plenty of bacteria. And if you air dry, for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t use a hot-air dryer in a public restroom. Studies have shown that those devices tend to blow more bacteria on your hands than anything else. After all, if you can smell “odours” in a public restroom, it means there are particles floating around and that air dryer will blow all over your hands.

Hand sanitizer is an excellent alternative IF you don’t have soap and water available. If you have the choice between the two, take the time to wash your hands. There’s this thing about hand sanitizer killing the good bacteria on your hands. Although studies have shown that this is true, there is no evidence to support that this affects your overall health. But actual hand washing is the better alternative.

Maintaining proper hand cleanliness is quite important, as persons with Type 1 Diabetes are more susceptible to a weakened immune system defences. Wash your hands often, and not only when testing your blood glucose. Not only will it help to maintain your own health, but it will help to prevent the propagation of germs to others as well. ☯

What Makes You Stronger Can Also Hurt You…

One of the obvious treatments for Type 1 Diabetes is insulin therapy. For those who may not have read my previous posts, (I’m being silly, of course you have!) insulin is a hormone produced by the body’s beta cells in the pancreas. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when your body’s immune system attacks and destroys these beta cells, leading to the pancreas no longer producing insulin.

Dr. Frederick Banting blessed us all with the gift that is insulin in the Spring of 1921 with the help of his trusty lab assistant, Charles Best. And since then, insulin has remained the top dog in the proper treatment and control of insulin-dependant Diabetes.

Although there are several different brand names and sub-types, insulin can be described within five main categories:

Rapid-Acting: This insulin hits the system quickly and is usually taken in conjunction with a meal or to prevent spikes in blood sugar. That being said, I currently use a rapid-acting insulin (Humalog) in my insulin pump to control basal and bosul rates (Examples: Humalog and NovoLog);

Short-Acting: This insulin is similar to the rapid-acting, but it takes a little more time to kick in and peaks a little bit later. (Examples: Humilin R, Novolin R);

Intermediate-Acting: These insulins start kicking in within about an hour, but will provide basal coverage for about 12 hours in total. They are generally used for overall control, need to be taken twice a day and are used in conjunction with a rapid or short-acting insulin (Examples: Humilin N and Novolin N);

Long-Acting: This type of insulin is generally taken at bedtime and kicks in within an hour. The advantage is that it will last anywhere between 20 to 26 hours, with no peak. So it is normally used to maintain proper blood sugar levels throughout the day. This one would also need to be used in combination with a fast or short-acting insulin as it will not compensate for the carbs you take in at mealtimes (Examples: Lantus and Levemir);

Pre-mixed Insulin: This one is a bit of an issue. Each of these insulins are a combination of short and intermediate-acting insulins and can problematically take effect anywhere within 5 minutes to an hour. This is a significant problem since no two people are alike and no two insulin requirements are alike. This insulin is usually taken twice a day in conjunction with a meal (Examples: Humilin 70/30, Novolin 70/30, Humilin and Humalog 50/50).

There’s another type that is sometimes referred to as Ultra-Long Acting, but it’s basically the same thing as Long-Acting with a 36 hour window instead of 20 to 26 hours. As I look back on this list, I realize that at one point or another I have used every type of insulin on this list with the exception of Levemir and the pre-mixes. Crazy.

The American Diabetes Association webpage has a great article that explains all of these in greater detail:

Humalog is what I currently use in my pump. It’s used for its rapid-acting properties at mealtimes, and intermittent basal rate to maintain levels throughout the day.

Although life saving, insulin comes with a range of possible side effects. Much like any other medication, these side effects can range from mild to severe, depending on the person and the type of insulin therapy used.

Some of the most common side effects include, but are not limited to weight fluctuations, erratic blood sugar levels, skin issues from repeated injection sites, heart attack, stroke, eye and kidney complications and in some cases, anxiety or depression.

All of these symptoms can be discussed and dealt with through your family practitioner. The reality is that at the present time, there is no cure for Type-1 Diabetes (contrary to what many conspiracy theorists and naturopaths may believe).

Insulin is not a cure, but simply a treatment that allows those with Diabetes to extend their life expectancy and live full, active lives. As usual, my go-to is to suggest maintaining a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and proper diet. Monitor your blood sugars regularly and keep fighting the good fight! ☯

The Value Of One’s Word…

I watched this great action movie when I was a kid. It was one of Sylvester Stallone’s lesser known movies; a cop flick called “Cobra”. In it, the main protagonist played by Stallone uses a great quote: “As long as we play by these bullshit rules and the killer doesn’t, we’re gonna lose.” I still watch this movie on days when I’m feeling nostalgic.

What are your thoughts on this? What do you believe the value of one’s own ethics and truth are worth? Are they simply good for the one, or does it help towards contributing to the overall betterment of the world?

Buddhism teaches us that the true definition of a fool is “Knowing the truth, seeing the truth, but still believing the lies.” This has held a heavy amount of truth within my own life in recent years (See what I did there? The truth about a quote on truth? Whatever, I think I’m funny… Moving on…)

The past year and a half of my life has been about truth. Who may be speaking it, who may be bending it, and who may benefit from either. I have always lived my life according to a personal code of ethics that has required honesty in all situations. I’m the type of person that what you see is what you get. Most times, I’ll spit out the truth before I have a chance to stop myself.

So, what happens when that truth is used against you? Does you harm? Damages your family? Does it then become a hindrance as opposed to the right path? And should you take steps to eliminate these hindrances?

Lao Tzu once wrote that “The words of truth are always paradoxical,” meaning that even the truth will always be absurd or self-contradictory. (And yes, before any of you mention the fact that I’m Buddhist and Lao Tzu is Taoist, I’ll gladly point out that I’m a student of life and study many religions!)

These questions are at the focal point of my thoughts today. And I wonder if the end result is worth the effort. I believe the truth is important. I think that doing the right thing and protecting others is also important. The issue comes when those two aspects conflict with each other.

A little bit heavy on the philosophical side today, but some healthy food for thought for all of you. After all, when you aren’t exercising the body, you should be exercising the mind. ☯

Happy Canada Day!

O, Canada! My home and native land… Alright, for those of you who know the anthem, that was pretty cheesy. But today is our National holiday, celebrated on July 1st because Canada became a country on July 1st 1867. For my fellow bloggers and loyal readers who may not be from the Great White North, here are some quick facts about Canada to help you understand what makes us awesome…

The common misconception is that Canada was first discovered in 1534 by French mariner Jacques Cartier. Although it is the accepted belief, the discover of an abandoned outpost in the Province of Newfoundland suggests that Vikings may have come to Canada as early as 500 years before Cartier.

Vikings aside, French and British settlers began colonizing in 1602. British colonies and territories joined together in 1867 through confederation to become a self-governing country that we know today as Canada.

Although self-governing, Canada continued to be ruled by the British Crown until as recently as 1982, when our Constitution was patriated. The British Monarchy is still considered our head of state.

Our the country has the second largest landmass of one country, in the world. Our borders touch three oceans (Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic) and our country has 10 Provinces and 3 Territories. As of today, Canada has a population of over 37 million people and we boast a unique multiculturalism unseen anywhere else in the world.

What else is Canadian? Well, I’m glad you asked… Five pin bowling, the wonder-bra, Trivial Pursuit, the vehicle Odometer, the egg carton, North American time zones, the electric wheelchair, the first plastic garbage bags, the paint roller, the first internet search engine, the first pacemaker, basketball, ringette and hockey, the world-renown Royal Canadian Mounted Police and of course, insulin! (You’re welcome world!)

We thoroughly enjoy our food. In fact, we’ve invented a mouthful of it (see what I did there?)… Poutine, Nanaimo bars, instant mashed potatoes, the California Roll, Chinese buffets, peanut butter and butter tarts, caesars (the drink), Hawaiian Pizza and Coffee Crisp bars!

Although contrary to popular belief, we didn’t invent donuts but Tim Horton’s donuts is Canadian and its coffee brand is world-renown. One of the fun and unique things about Canada is that you’ll find local cuisine and dialects specific to particular corners of our nation.

There’s so much more, but I’d need more than a blog post to cover it all. Suffice it to say that Canada has a lot more to it than beavers, moose and donuts. If you have the benefit of living here, hopefully you’re doing something to celebrate today.

If not, come pay us a visit! I’ll grab a two-four and some Timbits and I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Stop on in, eh? ☯

Finding A Friend Who Shares Your Weirdness Is Worth Everything!

A few days ago, I read a meme somewhere online that read: “Friendships are like pissing your pants. Most people won’t see it and only you will feel its warmth…” I guess that’s KIND of accurate, although I don’t know that I’d want to wet myself to make the comparison…

I was told a few years ago, by someone who had performed a study on friendship, that all friendships are inherently selfish. They tend to involve Person “A” getting something out of the friendship from Person “B”. This makes sense if you ever observe children in a group. Most kids will hover around the one who has the most “cool toys”, or the one whose parent brought a tasty treat.

Some believe this trait follows us into adulthood and that we generally only cultivate friendships that provide us with something we want. What do you think? Is this accurate? Think about the friendships you may currently have in your life and ask yourself how you came to be friends…

Human beings are selfish by nature. It’s not that we necessarily mean to be. We’ve been biologically designed to be this way so that we can survive. in prehistoric times, staying alive may have meant being selfish enough to eat THAT much more or hoarding the added pelt to keep you warm through a storm. It’s what’s known as “survival of the fittest”. Although evolution should have bred this particular selfishness out of us it still sits in the medulla, which is the part of the brain that controls instinct.

Instinct and selfishness are not my point today. As I contemplated that person’s statement about friendship, I felt that it was incorrect. My opinion was that friendships can simply be a result of liking that person enough to want to be in their company. Perhaps commonalities draw us to each other or it’s an entirely incidental friendship.

Upon closer examination however, I’ve often realized that even those motivations have their level of selfishness. I WANT their company, I ENJOY being around them or I WANT to be around someone with those commonalities…

Wants, needs and expectations are still present even when you feel as though you have no motivation behind befriending someone. The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism tells us that suffering is a result of selfishness. But the point is, as long as your motivation is pure and the friendship is pursued in good faith, that selfishness becomes moot. After all, it’s exceptionally difficult to combat one’s own inherent instincts.

And to those in my life who are like pissing my pants, know that you are appreciated. And I don’t mind being just a little bit selfish if it means I get to keep you as a friend! ☯

Bundles Of Sleepless Joy

We’ve all been there, right? It’s Sunday morning and you have the day off. The house is cool and quiet and it’s an ungodly hour that you couldn’t imagine rising at, unless work demanded it. You’re curled up securely in your blanket and plan on getting another couple of hours of sleep…

Then it happens! You hear the unmistakable pitter-patter of tiny feet making their way toward you. Oh no… you think. Just relax, maybe he’s just going potty then he’ll go back to bed… Then within a moment you hear and feel the familiar nasal breathing of your toddler on your face. It’s even worse once they get tall enough to turn on lights on their own.

You foolishly think, “Maybe if I pretend I’m still asleep, he’ll leave me alone…” Then you hear a mild whisper: “Daddy?” The whisper increases in volume and intensity until you have no choice but to open your eyes. You try to reason with the little human by suggesting that he needs to be quiet because you’re still sleeping. This request is followed by a poking of the face or a manual lifting of the eyelids. When you get angry and tell him to stop, his response is simply, “What? That was quiet!”

That’s my child. He’s such a smart ass. I have NO idea where he gets it from. Let this short story be a warning to anyone who is foolish enough to listen to the grinding gears of their biological clock!

Apparently I make a great Pole Vault landing mat!

Children are most particular, because no two children are exactly the same. Hell, even identical twins will have some different habits. According to an article written in Today’s Parent, a 2007 study conducted in Switzerland found that some healthy, normal toddlers slept a total of 11.4 hours while others slept as much as 16.5 hours. That’s quite the difference.

There are some things that you can do to help balance all this out. The same article goes on to suggest that certain external factors can contribute to radical changes in sleep habits. Loss of a pacifier or bottle, a new sibling in the household or other noticeable changes in the regular flow of household life can contribute to altered sleep habits. And it can often cause levels of stress within your toddler, even if they aren’t necessarily negative changes.

There are a number of other suggestions; unfortunately they don’t apply to my son. He’s already off naps and he generally snacks before bedtime. One good suggestion is that if you notice your child is getting enough sleep but they still wake up at the crack of dawn doing their best rooster impression, moving bedtime to a slightly later time may be the answer.

All of this information is to illustrate that the important factor is to ensure a proper sleep routine. Routine, especially when it involves sleep, is exceptionally important for proper health. This is where your circadian rhythm comes in.

A circadian rhythm is an approximately 24-hour natural process that helps your body to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. This rhythm repeats itself every day and is the reason why it is so important to have a steady routine in regards to eating and sleeping.

Studies have shown that things like late-night television, excessive or late night eating as well as erratic bedtimes can disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause a score of complications.

I don’t think I need to explain that a steady and regular routine will help with effective blood sugar and fitness regulation. If one spends half the night up in a loud night club having alcoholic drinks, one can hardly be expected to do the 20 kilometre bike run they generally do every morning. And eating your meals at erratic times and intervals will cause issues such as overlapping insulin dosages and digestive problems.

If you happen to be a frustrated parent and want some suggestions on getting your toddler to sleep better, here’s that Today’s Parent article:

With the obvious exception of shift work, in and as much as your life permits it, you should your absolute best to maintain a regular sleep schedule, allowing for the same bedtime every night and enough time to get between 7 to 9 hours of solid sleep. Following this standard will help you to wake feeling more refreshed and ready for day, will help reduce the amount of required caffeine and help maintain your circadian rhythm. ☯