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…☯

My Counting Sheep Fell Asleep, Why Can’t I…?

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You reach the end of your day, change into comfy jammies and curl into a familiar sea of blankets. You lie there, staring at the ceiling or perhaps thumbing your smart device in the hopes of getting tired enough to fall asleep. Of course, using your smart phone or tablet can actually inhibit your sleep.

Image from The Simpsons

But that sleep never comes. You toss and turn, try different positions and even get up and walk around a bit but none of it helps. Then the morning comes and you feel exhausted, despite having EVENTUALLY fallen asleep.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Proper sleep plays an integral role in the control of blood sugar. Proper control of blood sugar also plays an integral role in getting a good night’s sleep. The two go hand in hand.

Studies have shown that blood sugar levels tend to spike during the night as we sleep. For normal people, the excess glucose can be absorbed. But for someone with Type 1 Diabetes, insulin may not be working in your favour the way it should, especially with the rise and fall of specific hormones your body produces during the night. This is why doctors will often recommend testing blood glucose at 3 am when trying to establish a pattern. So here are a couple of issues involving the important relationship between blood sugars and sleep.

High Blood Sugar: When your blood sugar spikes and rises, it places your body in a state of stress. This can make it extremely difficult to fall asleep as the stress will keep your body in an increased state of alertness. This can also be one of the causes of the “restless legs” syndrome (besides damage to the nervous system) you may experience on some nights while trying to get to sleep. I know I personally hate the feeling of being unable to settle.

Low Blood Sugar: If you have low blood sugar, your body responds by releasing adrenaline and cortisol to help you compensate. These hormones will wake you and energize you in order to ensure you can seek out food for your low. Not to mention that eating in the middle of the night causes all sorts of issues for your body as your circadian rhythm hasn’t accounted for it.

Lack Of Proper Sleep: It can very well be possible that you can’t fall asleep for reasons unrelated to Diabetes. Perhaps you have something on your mind, you’re dealing with a lot of stress, etc… Some of the things you can do to increase your chances of a good night’s rest include eating regular meals, following a consistent sleep schedule and incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Meditation is also a great tool, as the deep breathing and calming effects can help send you off to dreamland.

There needs to be a respected balance between sleep and proper blood sugar. That way, you don’t spend the majority of your day walking around in a caffeine-fuelled haze of exhaustion like I’m doing today. Diabetes UK webpage has a decent article on the subject: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-and-sleep.html

And don’t forget that ensuring proper sleep means getting to the root cause of why you can’t sleep. And caffeine is only a band-aid and isn’t a replacement for a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams. ☯

Challenge Is Key

I recently saw an inspirational quote that read, “Someone once asked me ‘Why do you always insist on taking the hard road?’ I replied, ‘Why do you assume I see two roads?'” Life tends to be difficult in ways that often seem unfair and often unnecessary. But life is not meant to be easy; it is meant to be built upon and goals are meant to be fought for.

One of the big problems with reading and studying as many books and subjects as I have, is I often have difficulties remembering my sources. Nevertheless, the above written quote carries the echo of someone who has fought hard through the daily grind of life and chooses to do what’s necessary.

And what is necessary in life? One of the things I’ve come to realize in the past two years, is that we waste a LOT of time. Think about how often within a day that you check your social media, binge watch shows or perform trivial activities that are typical of today’s modern living.

If you have time for any and/or all of those, then you certainly have time to workout and set goals for yourself. People often say to be mindful of what you put into your body. Although they are usually referring to food and nutrition, this concept applies to your life in general, as well.

Not mine, but certainly fitting…

If you expose yourself to constant negative sources of influence, people who complain, who are lazy or who don’t have your best interest in mind, then you’re only doing yourself a disservice.

I’ve been bombarded by a lot of negativity in the past couple of years. The sources of that negativity would surprise some people, but the idea is to work to overcome it and move forward. Despite the stage of life I’m in, I believe I have enough fight left in me to change paths to accommodate a happier and more positive life.

Want a suggestion on how to grow that positive life? Don’t hate. Let it go. No matter how badly others may have wronged you or caused you hardship, forgive easily and move on. Most of all, forgive yourself. When it’s all said and done, this will allow you to move forward towards your preferred goals.

I used to dream about reaching certain goals that I have now accomplished. They seemed impossible back then, and I often faced adversity that I didn’t think I would ever overcome.

It dawns on me that the difficulties I currently face are simply part of the next wave of adversity I need to overcome to reach the next stage of my goals in life. It may not be easy, but we all need to keep at it. No matter how small your goals or how little the accomplishments you reach, you’re still one step ahead of the person who’s standing still. ☯

Get Stung By Some Knowledge

That time of year has come; when my home and property seem to be fraught with wasps. When my family and I first moved into this house, we had an old apple tree in the back yard. As the bounty of apples fell from the tree, they’d rot and scores of wasps would swoop in to feast on the carcasses. This made it difficult for our dog or my son to play in the back yard as there was a constant threat of these pests stinging any of us.

So, what purpose do these bastards serve? In truth, they are actually useful within the context of nature. We tend to consider insects like wasps to be pests and that they do nothing but cause a bother. But they actually do have some uses. Let’s do some learnin’…

Wasps often get confused with other flying insects. What I can say, to describe them, is that they tend to be slim, hairless (unlike bees) and have black and yellow bodies. Wasps include yellow jackets and hornets, which is why many people tend to refer to a wasp as a hornet.

One of the flying demons, making himself at home on my kitchen window

Based on some fossil records of the wasp, the insects have been around for millions and millions of years, and much like the Great White Shark, have remained almost completely unchanged since the those times.

Unlike bees, wasps don’t pollinate. However, they are considered a predatory species and help with the control of pest insects, such as mosquitos. So despite how aggressive they may seem, they do actually lend a hand in ways we don’t tend to acknowledge.

That being said, they DO tend to be aggressive can sting if approached and disturbed. Wasps are a lot like bees and have a venom sack attached to their stinger. They differ from bees in that their stingers are smooth, so they can sting repeatedly. Their stings can cause allergic reactions in some people and multiple stings can be fatal in small children.

As an appreciator of all things from nature, I try to focus on the actual contribution to the ecological well-being of our environment. They may be pests, but they do their part to contribute. Much like some people we may encounter. ☯

It’s Never Too Late…

Regret is a hell of a thing. Sometimes it can consume you, if you allow it to overcome the important aspects of your life. I’ve often written that one cannot allow oneself to have regrets as the events you might consider regretting have led you to the here and now; and if you could change those events to prevent that regret, you would seriously alter the person you’ve become.

I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to defeat every stereotype that’s been thrown at me. And having Diabetes has certainly made that challenging, let me tell you. Controlling and maintaining my health has always been a priority and I’ve worked hard to KEEP it a priority.

But in recent months I’ve begun to slip. A work out less a week here… An added beer or two a night there… Apathy and laziness have snuck up on me without even noticing. I’ve told myself, “Oh, I’m just tired, I’ll get back at it tomorrow.” Then tomorrow comes and I certainly don’t get back at it.

A good sweat and a little pain can go a long way

I think it may have been equal parts self-pity and self-generating laziness. The less you do, the less energy you have to get to where you need to be. But last night I was reminded of the importance of never stopping one’s physical development and health.

I was reminded because I saw the potential result of that laziness. Weight gain, reduced mobility, latent health issues and difficulty breathing… It’s amazing how much damage can be caused by not being physically active.

Don’t be afraid to try heavier weights. If they’re comfortable to use, they’re not heavy enough

I feel it’s time to recommit and buckle down. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my workout log and realized I only worked out once, last week. Time to up the ante and start getting back into shape. Sometimes we need to get shaken a bit and have a little reminder to bring us back on course. ☯