Good, Clean Fun…

Sometimes it gets tough to entertain young children. When one has to compete with modern technology, tablets and electronics, games and colouring can often take a back seat and are only “acceptable” when the mood hits them right. That’s why when an opportunity strikes for something simple and fun, we need to pounce on it!

My son is as restless as they come, kid-wise. He’s four years old and loves to move around, non-stop. In fact, if I could find a way to tap into his energy reserves I could likely get a week’s worth of work completed in one day. No doubt.

Like most little boys, my son loves guns. With cartoon shows like Transformers, Power Rangers and the like, it’s no surprise that weapons that shoot or “blasters”, as he calls them are an influential part of his play time. He often builds his legos or his mega blocks to form an “L” shape, followed by the comment “This is my blaster, Daddy!”

So last week when I was running an errand at my local retail outlet, I found a package of off-brand nerf guns that I thought would be a great outlet for him to play with. He could burn off some energy, and he and I could have some fun.

One of the two foam dart guns that came in the package. I would have taken a shot of Nathan using them, but he doesn’t sit still long enough to get a clear photo…

When I brought that package out and showed it to him, his excitement was in no way contained and he forget about everything else in the house. I agreed to open the package and we could play, with the following rules:

  1. Never aim or shoot at Mommy;
  2. Never aim or shoot at the Dog;
  3. When Daddy says the game is over, we stop;
  4. We never use our foam guns to shoot or hurt others.

He readily agreed, and we set up some “fortresses” in our basement. We had a blast and played for a couple of hours. We had one barricade that included a foot stool turned on its side combined with a blanket, and another that involved two stools piled one on top of the other. It was fun; we exchanged foam darts aback and forth, crawled on the floor to retrieve spent darts and sometimes switched fortresses so we could both experience the different angles. I hate to admit that his aim was pretty decent at times and I received some shots…

My point is that children always need sources of stimulation and exercise, but it doesn’t always have to cost you a second mortgage to do it. This two-gun foam dart set only cost $10, and he’ll have them for quite some time. He’s pestered me to play with them all weekend (despite how much pain my knees and back have from crawling on a concrete floor) and isn’t showing any sign of tiring from them. It allows me to engage my child as opposed to simply having him stare at a screen and it allowed us both to get some exercise, which is important whether you’re a child or an adult.

Last but not least, he pointed out that the foam dart guns were Just like your work guns we played with before, Daddy!” He’s had some similar ones introduced to him by some of my colleagues, which is why he enjoys foam darts so much. You know who you are and may be reading so thanks for that, guys! You know who you are! ☯

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A Meditative Monday

It’s Labour Day in Canada today. This means that most people have the day off, enjoying the benefits of a long weekend. Labour Day was first introduced in the 1870’s and can be read about in further detail here: https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/labour-day

So what does one do with an extra day off from work or school? Obviously, meditation is highly recommended. Most people think that meditation involves long hours of chanting or sitting cross-legged. That certainly is one method, but five minutes here or ten minutes there is really all you need.

Keep it simple. Make sure you’re seated comfortably and let all your muscles relax. One of the most simple forms of meditation is deep breathing. All this means is that you’re taking a deep inhalation, allowing your abdomen to distend, hold it for a moment then release the breath slowly. Train yourself to take almost full minute to release that breath. That’s it.

Sound a little too simple? Sometimes, the simple things are the best. Deep breathing calms you, allows your body to relax and keeps you rejuvenated. And focusing on the method of breathing allows you to occupy your conscious mind on that specific task, which trains you to control your thought process through the meditative process.

Proper meditation has been proven to be beneficial for one’s health, both physical and mental. It’s a cool, rainy day today. What better way to spend it than to try and find one’s balance through simple meditative exercise? Treat yourself to some peace and quiet. Your body and mind will thank you. ☯

Heal Thyself…

One of the most important aspects of one’s health is self-care. More often than not, we neglect ourselves in favour of taking care of others. There are exceptions to this rule, but it typically tends to be the norm.

I haven’t told a good story in quite a while, so here we go…

Almost twenty years ago when I was young and dumb (as opposed to old and dumb as I am now), I was involved with a young woman from back home. We started dating and eventually moved in together. As with most relationships, things were decent in the beginning. But once we moved in together, we started having a number of issues. These included the normal issues that any relationship faces; financial burdens, housing issues and how many cats she had…

Because I had a propensity to help others before taking care of myself, I endured for three years. During those three years, we faced a number of problems that involved going broke, spending days without groceries and risking being put out on the street for several months. I worked hard and tried to keep us afloat, without the benefit of my partner helping out. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to, but on some level she simply couldn’t.

Faced with a number of her emotional and mental health issues, I couldn’t help her and eventually decided to close up shop and move us back to our home town to be close to family. During this transition, we mutually decided that we weren’t suited for one another as far as being in a relationship.

Once we were no longer tethered to each other, I provided her with what I assumed at the time was some sage advice on what her next steps in life could be. And then she made a comment that has resonated with me ever since: “See, why couldn’t you provide that kind of advice and support when we were a couple?”

It dawned on me at that point that I was so busy trying to keep all the pieces of the puzzle together that I forgot who I was as a person. I was unable to guide anyone or provide advice or be helpful, because I was too busy suffering myself.

This is comparable to when you’re taking a flight and the attendants give you that safety briefing before lift off. You know, the one where they instruct you to secure your own oxygen mask before trying to secure or help someone else? Much like that scenario, I was too busy trying to secure someone else’s oxygen mask to notice that I was suffocating in the process.

we all need to protect ourselves. There’s nothing selfish about it and in fact, it’s necessary in order to help raise your family. You can’t help and support others unless you take care of yourself first. Your wants and needs are important. Critical, even. Being happy goes a long way in ensuring that you can spread that happiness to others. If you spend too much time securing someone else’s mask, you become bitter and resentful, and it becomes difficult to have the clarity necessary to do right. Some Sunday food for thought… ☯

What’s Good For You Can Hurt

Look, I post about the negative effects of Diabetes a LOT! It’s rather hard not to; Diabetes is one of the conditions with the highest number of side effects to the body that’s currently out there. And not just to the body… Studies have linked Alzheimer’s disease to a from of Diabetes.

Needless to say, if and when the day comes that there is a positive side to Diabetes, I’ll post about it. For example, if a side effect of Type 1 Diabetes ever causes me to gain sculpted abs, I’ll post about that like a mother-f&*ker.

If you’re like me, you tend to test your blood glucose at least six to ten times a day. If you still rely on a finger prick in order to test your blood sugar, this can cause some rarely considered complications. Especially to your fingertips!

According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the steps one should follow each and every time you test your blood:

  1. Wash and dry your hands well (Do this each and every time you test);
  2. Insert a test strip into your meter;
  3. Prick the side of your fingertip with the needle (lancet) provided with your test strip (Try to avoid pricking the fingertip; this is where all the sensory nerves for touch are located and it can hurt like hell);
  4. Gently squeeze or massage your finger until a drop of blood forms;
  5. Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood;
  6. The meter will display your blood glucose level on a screen after a a few seconds.

There are some meters that will allow you to take blood from alternate sites such as your forearm or your palm, but these tend to be a bit less accurate. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/blood-sugar/art-20046628)

Repeated finger pricks throughout the day can become very painful, regardless of where you test. Another problem is contamination. Obviously, jamming a piece of steel into your finger includes the risk of allowing access to a certain level of bacteria and germs. As with any injury when you have Diabetes, this can cause a risk of infection and other issues.

Using alcohol swabs to ensure a clean site is no longer a viable option, as residual alcohol on your finger can affect the blood sugar reading. If you insist on using them, you need t ensure that residual alcohol has been dried or removed prior to testing. This is why it’s necessary to wash with warm water and soap prior to each test.

Even with Continuous Glucose Monitoring, testing your blood with finger pricks is still necessary for accuracy and to calibrate your CGM. So there’s no getting away from it. But making sure you keep your sites clean and your testing accurate through calibrations and diagnostics will ensure you avoid unnecessary complications. ☯

Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice…

Trust. It’s an important and valuable commodity in today’s society. We need trust, not only for professional and social reasons, but for our continued mental health. Going through one’s life without having someone to confide in and trust would cause a level of solitude that would be detrimental to deal with.

In fact some studies have shown that lacking, or being unable to trust others can cause certain long-term physiological and social problems. These problems can include isolation, depression and feelings of not belonging; all of which are important issues that need to be dealt with in order to live effectively in a modern society.

I personally believe that trust is an almost symbiotic aspect of a relationship. It’s difficult to build a relationship with others unless you’re able to have at least SOME level of trust. But then how can you trust someone unless you’ve gotten to know them in some sort of relationship? It can be a bit convoluted.

Psychology Today posted a really good article that examines some of the more physiological reasonings behind trust. The article can be read here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/tech-support/201403/the-trouble-trust

I like being able to trust. Knowing that I can speak freely and openly with another person is important. I mean, we all need someone to confide in every once and a while, right? But unfortunately, we sometimes learn the hard way that saying a little too much can be hazardous and can lead to finding out our acquaintances were not as trustworthy as we hoped they were.

Protect yourself. Above all else, we all need to learn to trust, but protect yourself. Be certain that what you share with the other person won’t have a negative and hazardous results on the harmony of your life, should they violate your trust and reveal it. ☯

Waiting It Out…

It’s no secret that if you’re visiting a doctor or health care professional, waiting room times in Canada are ridiculous as a general rule. I’ve written about this before; unless you happen to be going to a private clinic and the staff are really on top of their game, you can usually expect to be waiting for well over an hour beyond your scheduled appointment before getting in to see your doctor. Some studies have shown that the average wait time in Canada can reach three to four hours.

And why is that? Common sense would dictate that if you require X amount of time to see each patient, then you’ll schedule them accordingly, right? Maybe not. I’ve been dealing with waiting rooms in various forms for almost forty years, given that I have Diabetes. And some waits can be somewhat extreme and even dangerous, depending on why you’re there.

One good example I can give is an occasion where my son fell down some stairs onto a landing in our home. He struck his head and had a nasty cut right above his eye. As parents, you can imagine our panic as we bundled him up and rushed him to our local hospital. Once we were at the ER, they asked us two questions: was he alert and had he lost consciousness? The answers were yes and no, and we were ushered to the waiting room where we waited for over three hours. I was flabbergasted! Yes, I just used the word flabbergasted!

By the end of that three hours, I had checked on our expected wait time a number of times, complained and was told that nothing could be done to expedite the wait and to take a seat. At the tail end of it, my very impatient and destructive son was beginning to get his second wind and wanted nothing to do with being at the hospital waiting room. We ended up leaving without treatment. Although some would judge that we CHOSE to leave without treatment, my son’s state f being at the moment, coupled with the fact we were well into the night and he needed to be put to bed, became important deciding factors.

This is a typical example and seems to be the norm these days. Yesterday I attended a medical appointment where I showed up forty minutes early and checked in. I totally expected to sit and wait quietly for the remaining time and beyond. Then I was taken by surprise by getting called in and being seen and out the door by the time my scheduled appointment rolled around!

I got curious, so I decided to ask a few folks I know in the medical field. It stands to reason they’d prefer I not post their names, but here’s a bit of what they had to say.

I spoke to a member in the nursing field, a medical resident and a family physician, who were able to explain some of the ins and outs of the emergency room, triage and how people are seen. One of the main aspects that was explained is that when someone comes into the emergency room, they are “triaged”. This means that they are assessed based on the immediate verbal information they provide, and are placed in order of importance.

So if you come in with a runny nose and a headache that prevents you from sleeping, you can expect to wait over the mother who just went into labour or the man who passed out from chest pains or someone who happens to be spurting blood from anywhere on their body! Further, the average emergency room in Canada only has one ER doctor on duty, so he/she is swamped! We often forget that these people need to eat, sleep and use the restroom just as we do. Although pretty trivial on their own, those little activities add up in terms of wait times.

Last but not least, the medical industry is the slowest at catching up with current technologies. Pagers and fax machines? These haven’t been a standard technology in the average residential home for over a decade, but doctors still rock the ol’ pager! And most clinics and hospitals still make frequent use of fax machines. Sometimes, the incorrect on call doctor may be paged during emergencies, and this adds up to delays.

When it comes to clinics and office settings, wait times can be attributed to the fact that although specific time slots are allotted for each patient, some patients will often CAUSE delays by bringing up several issues not originally meant for the appointment they scheduled. For example, if you book an appointment at your doctor’s clinic for a prescription renewal and you end up inquiring about a weird rash on your inner thigh “since you’re here anyway”, you’ll end up taking way more of your doctor’s time than you were scheduled for. This will cause the subsequent appointments to get bumped further down. You’ll actually see many clinics post a notice in their examination rooms that read, “One issue only”, indicating that you are only there to discuss one problem and a subsequent appointment is required if there is something else.

You’d be inclined to think that an added five minutes shouldn’t cause an issue, but imagine if all the first appointments in the morning included that added five to ten minutes. By the time your afternoon appointment rolled around, you could be looking at a minimum of a couple of hours added to the day’s roster, simply because of all the added little details patients brought up early on.

Obviously, the patient isn’t uniquely at fault. In private clinics, overbooking frequently happens as some physicians are often paid by the visit. So the more patients that are cycled through within a day, the more income the clinic generates.

Clinic physicians are also subject to several outside interferences, such as being called to surgery, a patient at the hospital going into labour or attending meetings and appointments of their own. Plus, we need to consider the rarely recognized reality that doctors tend to get sick too! And when they do, we don’t need them breathing their pox into our throats as they make us say “ahh”…

An article posted by the Ottawa Citizen back in 2017 explains that Canada has some of the worst wait times out of 11 countries that were surveyed (https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/barua-why-are-canadas-health-care-wait-times-the-worst). So what can we do to help alleviate some of these wait times?

Some of the things that we, as patients can do are pretty simple:

  1. Schedule your appointments well in advance. You should have intimate knowledge of your medication use, so if you know your prescription will run out in the next three weeks, schedule an appointment for your renewal right away;
  2. Avoid going to the hospital for non-life threatening illnesses. Colds and sniffles affect the best of us, but tying up the ER for something you could attend a walk-in clinic for will usually result in a longer wait for you and longer waits for the folks after you;
  3. Recognize that wait times are a continued problem, and it’s only gotten worse in recent years. Until Canada fixes or alleviates this specific problem, make sure you schedule your appointment around a healthy period of free time! If you schedule a doctor’s appointment with another important engagement happening an hour after, you may be in for some disappointment.

At the end of the day, I’ll gladly accept waiting longer for the free health care our country provides. Remember that if it is something critical and life-threatening, don’t try to attend the hospital or clinic on your own; make use of 911 and have yourself transported to the emergency room. Many people avoid this option because of the cost, but it’s a better alternative than serious debilitation or death. ☯

The “Tooth” Of The Matter…

My 4-year old son comes around the corner and I have the following dialogue with him…

ME: “Nathan, time to go brush your teeth…”

Nathan: “No, I don’t need to, Daddy…”

His voice carries a light, invisible cloud of noxious breath that causes the paint on the walls to bubble and forces the dog to retreat for cover in the basement…

Oral hygiene and dental health are extremely important. Perhaps more so than most people understand. While growing up, I remember that the standard was simply that you needed to brush regularly and floss in order to keep from losing your teeth. Since then, studies and medical advancements have proven just how serious the problems can become if you don’t pay proper attention to your mouth.

Let’s think about our mouths for a moment: it’s the entry point for your food and the air you breath. This means that you have a lot of stuff from the outside world that enters your body through your mouth. Like most surfaces on your body, your mouth is full of bacteria. Some of that bacteria is good, but the bad bacteria is what can lead to tooth decay, bacterial infections and gum disease.

Bacterial infections can be pretty serious, especially for Type 1 Diabetics. Our weakened immune systems make us more susceptible to infection and makes them worse. Just to make you grit your teeth harder, (see what I did there?) the gum disease caused by improper oral health can make it harder to control your blood sugar levels.

Even if you don’t have Diabetes, poor oral health can leave you susceptible to cardiovascular complications, pregnancy complication and pneumonia. So, what can you do to hep prevent those oral health issues?

Brushing your teeth is an obvious first step. Despite what some of us were taught as children, brushing three times a day (or after every meal, whichever is greater) is not necessary. According to the Mayo Clinic, brushing twice a day is what the current recommendation indicates. This means brushing once in the morning and once before bed. Despite this, most dentists still stick to “old faithful” and tell folks to brush three times a day. It’s not a bad thing.

Although some dentists have indicated that even once can be acceptable, you tend to run into some problems with that, including potential bad breath throughout the day and unsightly food stuck in your teeth if you’re out in public. If you only brush once a day, best to do it first thing in the morning to eliminate morning breath.

Be sure to floss. Most people overlook flossing or it bothers them. But flossing is required to eliminate the bits of food that can’t be removed by a toothbrush. Leaving that food between your teeth against the gum line can lead to an increase in bacteria.

Use an antibacterial mouthwash. Don’t forget that mouthwash is supposed to complement your dental routine and isn’t meant as a substitution for brushing.

Here are some articles posted by Colgate and WebMD that explain some of what I’ve written and can provide further insight: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/how-poor-dental-care-can-affect-your-overall-health-0313 and https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/oral-health-the-mouth-body-connection#2

Some other small changes can also help with improved oral health, such as avoiding staining drinks such as red wine or smoking tobacco products. And don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every few months. That s&*t gets gross!

So it may not have been a post about blood sugars or exercise, but proper oral hygiene can help prevent Diabetic complications and other issues that be aggravated by Diabetes. Why take chances when the prevention is so simple? And no, 9 out of 10 dentists did NOT ask me to write this post…☯