Type 2 Diabetes: The College Years, Or How I Ended Up in a Car With My Roommates and T-Pain’s Backup Dancer

One of the cooler things I did in college. I managed to stay awake through this lab.

One of the cooler things I did in college. I managed to stay awake through this lab.

Going away to college is always going to be one of the most interesting events in our lives. Suddenly we are thrown into this crazy, new situation that’s exciting and terrifying all at once.

All of a sudden no one is going to tell me what to eat, where to go, what time to get there. Damn, we feel so grown up. If I want to wake up at 2 PM and eat a Snickers bar for breakfast, then I’m going to effing do it, and who’s going to tell me no? You? You just wandered in here at 4 AM high as hell with a bag of McDonalds apple pies. (“You” meaning my roommate. This is a true story)

Yes, I’m still awake at 4 AM. I’m on Facebook instead of writing that chem lab report. I think it was another IR spectroscopy lab. Whatever. I’ll do it an hour before class.

That was when Facebook was still interesting enough on its own to peruse for hours.

I don’t give a shit, I’m going to eat Hot Pockets for every meal today. You know that shady hookah bar downtown? Let’s go, I know it’s a Tuesday night and we have a quiz in the morning, but it’ll be fine. You brought vodka back from that frat party in a Ziploc bag? Sounds legit. (Another true story)

For one, glorious school year I got to be that college kid. That stupid, reckless, naïve college kid.

Okay that’s not all that I did, I did actually go to class and do homework, but that’s not that interesting to talk about. I can send you a myriad of proposals, literature reviews, research papers, and badly written poetry if you do want to talk about it.

And to be fair my experiences were definitely not as reckless or extreme as some of my classmates, but nowadays I think eating French toast with a side of fries and drinking OJ at 2 in the morning is pretty reckless.

Freshman year of college was the last time I was free, maybe the only time I was free. I was away from my dysfunctional and difficult home life and, to my knowledge, had no health problems. The world was a bigger place back then.

I didn’t have to test my blood sugar every few hours. I didn’t have a box of pills to take every day or give myself, sometimes very painful, injections several times a day. I didn’t have to be stressed about the fact that medical expenses and the need for health insurance would chain me to my parents until I turn 26.

I had dreams, I made plans. I had a very real attachment to that idea of what things were going to look like in the next 5 to 10 years.

As you can imagine getting diagnosed with diabetes was not part of that plan. Getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes was DEFINITELY not part of that plan. Honestly, I figured I might develop it someday. I knew the odds were against me with my family history, but damn 18? Fresh out of my first year of college? Good lord.

And I know, children with Type 1 diabetes will eventually grow up to be young adults in college with diabetes. Having screwed up blood sugars in college isn’t new.

But there’s something kind of depressing about having that one type of diabetes no one else on campus had. I knew some Type 1s. My boyfriend knew them all somehow.

But it wasn’t really the same. I still felt alone sometimes. I didn’t take insulin yet so when I had a high blood sugar I had to go for a run, drink a liter of water and wait. I had to simply stop eating most sources of carbohydrate since I had no way to prevent a spike.

Emotionally it was difficult. I felt like I had something really shameful, something that I needed to hide. I just couldn’t bring myself to be open about it since it wasn’t as “normal” to have Type 2 as it is to have Type 1 at such a young age.

Now, I get it, it’s not really normal or better or worse to have any kind of diabetes, but back then I still had some weird thoughts about the whole thing. I was new to the game.

Also, it was really embarrassing to tell classmates that I had the type of diabetes their grandpa/grandma/uncle/mom/cousin has.

Yes, that one, the one who had his leg amputated and then promptly died. Oh and they went blind. And their kidneys LITERALLY fell out. And they loved that sugar free chocolate you get in those plastic bags near the pharmacy counter in the grocery store. No I don’t want some, thank you…

Sometimes it was rough, sometimes my blood sugar would stay in the 400s and I’d be falling asleep in lab, hovering precariously over the fetal pig I was supposed to be dissecting . Or in class, falling asleep in the FRONT row. It was always the days I decided to sit front and center in my 20-person class that my body would decide it wanted to spike reaallllyyy high, no matter how few carbs I had that day.

Thankfully as I start grad school I have insulin to help keep everything steady. No such luck back then (no one thought to test my c-peptide I guess).

So what have I learned?

Well, aside from a load of plant bio I will never, ever use (if I’m lucky), I learned that you get through it. You’ll make mistakes along the way. You’ll deal with some pretty shitty circumstances, but you will survive. You will learn that it’s risky to eat cereal (or any really complicated bolus-y food) on the morning of a big exam, or that banana smoothies you can’t bolus for aren’t a good idea for a study snack.

Trust me about exam-food. I fell asleep during my World Civilizations ALL ESSAY midterm. It was kind of the worst.

You will also learn that there is living to be done OUTSIDE of diabetes. Sure, things are complicated and you have to manage to test your BG, get your workout in, count your carbs, take your meds, blah, blah, blah, but you’ve still got a ton of awesome experiences to be had. You can study abroad, you can go out for the intramural field hockey team, you CAN be a college student. You’ve just got to manage it a little differently.

Maybe go easy on the pizza and beer.

Rc

Oh right, T-Pain. Well this has actually nothing to do with diabetes since this happened my freshman year before my diagnosis. Sorry for the bait and switch.

One weekend T-Pain came to my university and did a show, and I went with my roommate. Because who turns down a free concert? Seriously.

There was one backup dancer that everyone was really interested in, he was topless, had clown makeup on, and was totally ripped. And my roommate was totally enamored. After the concert she SOMEHOW gets his attention, and he, she, a friend of ours (our future roommate), and I ended up in her car. Driving around the night, listening to his tales as a backup dancer. I’m not sure what happened after I decided to get out of the car, but I guess it’s one of those things I’m better off not knowing.

College is a crazy ride.

Sinigang for Dinner

My favorite food growing up was a Filipino dish called sinigang. It’s a dish that is very close to my heart.

Okay, so what is it? It’s a soup that consists of meat, vegetables, light broth and, specifically the one I grew up with, a sour component. In this case it’s tamarind.

There is something so tribal and comforting about gathering around together to share a meal. For me this was the one meal that we all gathered around and shared. Except for my dad, it was a bit too exotic for his Midwestern palette.

Whenever I make sinigang it always reminds me of my mother, who brought this dish with her from the Philippines. She taught me how to make it when I was very young, and to this day it remains one of my go-to comfort meals. I hope to one day  pass it on to my children.

Obviously so they can involuntarily think of me whenever they have it.

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The great thing about sinigang is its versatility. You can make it with any number of vegetables and different types of meat. My favorite is a variety called sinigang na baka, meaning it’s made with beef. It’s also great because it’s a relatively healthy dish, packing plenty of veggies into your meal.

Ingredients

I should warn you, I don’t really measure things out, so just add as much as you think will fit in your slow cooker or soup pot or serve the number of people actually willing to try this out.

Meat

I like to use beef short ribs, but I’ve used stew beef as well or even both! But I find ribs give the broth the most flavor. For one regular size crock pot (meaning not tiny, but not one of those huge ones) I got about 1.5 lbs of short ribs.

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Veggies

My favorite part of sinigang. For this batch I used what I had in my fridge, but there are so many possibilities for the vegetables you can use. Here I used one long thin pepper (to give it some kick!), pechay (baby bok choy), one large fresh tomato, 1/2 a large white onion, 3 garlic cloves, and I decided to throw some broccoli in last minute as well.

Also, in traditional Filipino recipes it is customary to include small taro roots, called “gabi” in Tagalog, also called eddo roots in the grocery store. In the interest of keeping this as low carb as possible I omitted the gabi, but if you don’t plan on eating it with rice it is delicious and little different.

Some of the vegetables you might want to include. I also like to include spinach, broccoli, and string beans.

Some of the vegetables you might want to include. I also like to include spinach, Chinese eggplant, broccoli and string beans.

Soup base and flavorings

Most Filipinos that I know (my mom included) really like to use beef bouillon cubes to flavor the dish. I have to admit it is reallllly good that way, but I’m watching my sodium intake so I used reduced sodium beef stock because I’m already using a packaged soup base. The soup base can be found in the Asian store, my favorite is Knorr brand but Mama Sita brand has a tamarind seasoning mix that’s also pretty good. I’ll update this when I figure out how to make the tamarind soup base from scratch. It’s my next project!

You can usually find Knorr Tamarind base in any Asian or international grocery store.

You can usually find Knorr Tamarind base in any Asian or international grocery store.

Also, since the pepper I chose wasn’t spicy enough for me I added some red pepper flakes. Really spicy and really sour are my favorite ways to serve this dish!

Note: By using more veggies, substituting vegetable broth for the beef broth, and substituting lemon juice for the tamarind base you can also make it vegetarian-friendly. FYI the tamarind base by Knorr contains shrimp powder, so it’s not vegetarian. It’ll taste a little different but I’ve tried it myself and it’s pretty good!

Directions

Dice your half-onion, don’t be too worried about making everything pretty, this isn’t a pretty dish.

Also dice up your garlic cloves nice and tiny.

Brown your ribs on the stove in a little olive oil. I didn’t do it this particular time, but you can throw your onions and garlic in with your ribs while they brown to give the meat a bit more flavor.

Put them in your crock pot, cover with as much of the tamarind base packet as you like. I used 1/3 of the packet at this point because it’s easier to add more than try to take it out!

Add your onions, garlic, and long skinny pepper. If you like things really spicy you can go ahead and add your red pepper flakes now since the longer they’re in there the more spicy your soup gets. If you decide you want to use the taro root, add it now. It needs to be cooked a long time so it gets soft enough to be edible.

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Add 2 cups of the beef broth, then add enough water to cover the meat.

Cover your crock pot and set on low for ~4 hours. I tried doing it for 6 hours once but the meat ended up so tough I had cut the time down. My pot might just run hotter than some of the others.

When you have about 30 minutes left go ahead and cut your tomato into big chunks and add to the pot. At this point make sure to taste your broth and add additional salt, tamarind seasoning, or beef broth if it’s a little bland. You could even sneak a little beef bouillon in if you like, I won’t tell anyone.

When you have about 20 minutes left add your baby bok choy, string beans, broccoli or other veggies. If you are using spinach I suggest adding it last around the 10 minute mark so it doesn’t disintegrate.

Voila! You’ve made yourself a Filipino dinner. For our Paleo and grain-free friends if you add enough veggies you don’t need to eat this with rice. Since being diagnosed with diabetes I limit my rice intake so I frequently enjoy this dish without the rice.

For those of you who want to try this the traditional way serve with -my favorite- Jasmine white rice. You could even try this with brown rice, which happens to be my boyfriend’s favorite rice.

What’s your favorite dish from your childhood?

Obesity as a disease?

Here’s a link to NPR!

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My grandparents’ cat is huge.

I don’t have medical training or  any concrete scientific knowledge to have an opinion on this one way or another. I just know what it’s like to be overweight and to have to struggle every single day to stop being that way. Some reasons are mental and emotional, some physical (insulin resistance sucks). All in all it ends the same thing.

Being overweight is a very public battle, whether we admit it or not.

I’m mostly just writing this because I’m really saddened by what people have had to say on the issue. I’m not commenting on whether or not it should be labeled a disease, just on the reactions to the news that I’ve seen.

Yes, it makes me feel bad when people say that fat people are just lazy and don’t care about what they do with their bodies. Unless you have personally been overweight and teased and harassed – even by your own family – then I don’t think you should be so quick to judge. Sometimes getting up in the morning is enough of a challenge. Maybe, if you’re like my father, you have a family to feed and two jobs to work on top of mounting debts and stresses. Having a rock hard bod isn’t exactly on the top of that list. Should it be? Good health should always be a goal, I’m not arguing with anyone on that. But is it a crime that life sometimes gets in the way?

One popular fitness blogger I followed said that she thinks it’s “ridiculous” that obesity is a disease and she doesn’t want people feeling like they are the victim and they can blame being obese on being a disease.

But on the flip-side, does that mean they can be shamed and blamed because they “allowed” themselves to get in such a condition? Is it so ridiculous? (Or ridic! as she puts it)

Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know. I do know that she has as much education as I do, a bachelor’s in a science field, but has probably never been overweight a day in her life. She is not a doctor, nurse, dietician, exercise physiologist, therapist, etc. Do I think labeling obesity as a disease is going to let obese people off the hook? Of course not. I don’t personally know any obese person who hasn’t felt shame at some point about it, or doesn’t realize their health is at risk. Do I think people are going to cry victim? Again, I don’t know, but I do know there will be people who will forever be victims in their own mind, whether they’re obese or not, it’s a mindset.

To say obese people are so lazy and just lack the willpower to change so they’ll find any way to shift blame is ridiculous and incredibly hurtful. Being obese is not healthy, but many thin people also make poor decisions about their diet or exercise. And it is not as though it is extremely easy to overhaul your lifestyle, and the current culture of shame and harassment does nothing to help, but rather make overweight people retreat further. It’s very emotional to be fat, it’s not as easy as “get off your ass and stop eating burgers”.

Do you know what it’s like to not feel like you deserve to enjoy your life, go out and do things because people will judge your weight? To fear that your weight will negatively impact a job or school interview, or that if you go shopping you won’t be able to find clothes that fit and you actually like. If you’ve never struggled with your weight, then no, probably not.

Yes, many of these things are not realistic. No, I don’t think anyone really cares what I eat or where I go, but to deny that sense of being self-conscious just because it isn’t logical isn’t fair. It’s my experience, and it’s the truth. Then there’s the “well if you’re so unhappy go lose weight!” argument. Yes, of course! We must all strive for the best health we can have, any way we can. I will never disagree with you on that. You should take responsibility for your health, whatever that means to you. Weight isn’t always going to be the best indicator of health.

But weight loss is a highly personal and multifaceted issue you can’t just tell someone to go lose weight. Some people genuinely do not know where to begin. Some people live in food-deserts or cannot afford fresh meats, fresh produce. Maybe they can’t get away from their jobs, maybe childcare or transportation is an issue. What seems like an easy, maybe even mundane task to you could be an immense challenge to someone else.

Yes, where there is a will there is a way. But have you ever been in a situation where you’ve come up against so many roadblocks that you lose the will to continue?

Instead of continuously blaming the individual why not try to address the reasons why so many are currently overweight? Write to congresspeople, go out and get involved with the ADA or other organizations who provide free education workshops to the public. Get involved in causes that demand better access to mental healthcare, or affordable produce and healthy food for our children.

There are things you can do to be more productive than type nasty comments on the internet about how all the obese people just lack the willpower to do something about it. Would it be so wrong to try to make doing something about it easier?

I don’t know if obesity is a disease in its own right or a symptom of other things such as thyroid conditions, depression, insulin resistance, or a myriad of other issues. But to be honest, I don’t really care. If the AMA says obesity is a disease now, then let’s treat it accordingly. I think it could have some positive impacts. Maybe the food industry will finally be forced to make the changes to their process and products to help our overweight population. Perhaps we’ll see less patient-blame and a new generation of doctors will learn to treat obesity as the grave health concern it is, not just a lack of motivation or a flaw in character. Maybe an obese patient who is looking for assistance will have better access to proper nutrition education from a registered dietician, help from a personal trainer, or at least something better than what they have now.

Some say that it’ll just lead to a rise in medications being pushed instead of weight loss “the natural way”. Another way to cop out of taking care of yourself. Here’s the thing, if you’ve been overweight your entire life maybe some assistance isn’t necessarily evil. It’s been shown that children who are overweight are likely remain that way through adulthood.

And I’m sure many will tell you themselves that the longer they were overweight the more difficult it is to maintain any amount of weight loss. So sure, if they can come up with something that (with proper nutrition and activity, like my Metformin) will help you achieve or maintain your optimal health, who the hell am I to demonize that?

My hope for the future is that this results in a net positive effect for our national health. Also, that people would just be a little nicer to one another. Get to know someone, encourage them, inspire them, be the support that they may desperately need. It doesn’t need to be us vs. them, fit vs. fat. It can be good health for everyone, with a let’s work together attitude.

Rc

Sometimes It Sucks, But That’s Okay

I draw my own starfish so I don't have to credit anyone. I'm lazy. And very nervous about respecting copyrights.

I draw my own starfish so I don’t have to credit anyone. I’m lazy and very nervous about respecting copyrights.

Sometimes diabetes makes me feel like shit. Not just physically, but emotionally, because the full weight of having this disease can add to an already teetering and very heavy pile of stress you have to cart around in your everyday life.

Bills? Let’s add several hundred more dollars to that.

Errands? Job? Chores? Other things in your day? Let’s add 6-10 BG checks, diligent meal planning, insulin dosing, pill organizing, and general fussing with insurance and doctors to that.

Let’s add guilt, stress, fear, anger, and sadness specifically about your health, to an already overtaxed camel lugging around your other emotional baggage.

I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life, but let’s go ahead and pile on more.

Tonight, let’s add a side of guilt to the main dish of stress. The issue: money. I have this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach because I feel like an immense burden to my family and my S.O. This disease is so expensive to cover, I’m averaging about $150/month on just diabetes supplies. Not including copays, lab fees and miscellaneous other fees that seem to sneak up on you. And I want to start pump therapy so this is going to increase. I rely on my father’s health insurance and financial assistance to fund keeping me alive. In addition to this I need money for school. Lots of it…like tens of thousands of dollars. (Hello Sallie Mae….)

I desperately want to work, but no one wants to hire me seasonally and I can’t work during grad school. Or at least the program director highly discourages it. But I might need to risk it. I feel like in some ways I deserve the struggle.

I know, intellectually, I can’t allow myself to be bitter and angry…with myself. I think, maybe if I did something differently I wouldn’t need insulin, I wouldn’t need to be hemorrhaging money from my family and my own savings account just to live.

It’s the classic Type 2 on insulin guilt trip.

I would never say that to another struggling Type 2, because again, intellectually, I know this is false. Diabetes will progress the way it progresses, and your body needs what it needs. It’s not a character flaw, it says nothing about your intelligence or ability to take care of yourself, it’s just the nature of the beast to evolve your treatment plan as the beast evolves.

Let this beast give you a shot.

Personally, I think it’s okay to feel bad sometimes. I don’t mean I encourage feeling awful, I think you need to keep yourself positive for the most part, so you don’t fall into a long bout of sad. But I think it’s acceptable, and you shouldn’t feel bad about feeling bad. The best thing to do is acknowledge it while keeping in mind, guilt and shame do nothing for you. Except maybe give you a stress ulcer, but I’m assuming that’s counterproductive.

Feeling guilty about being Type 2 won’t make it go away, feeling ashamed that you need to be on insulin doesn’t make your pancreas secrete more.

It’s okay to feel sad sometimes, but for the most part, try to let yourself be happy and live your life. You deserve it.

What the Eff are you doing here?

Today I had the privilege of attending an ADA workshop teaching potential advocates about diabetes and how to share this information with their communities. When I saw the email about this, honestly I was excited. I was like, YES, that is what I want to do. I want to teach people all about diabetes, I mean, diabetes is a huge part of my life and it’s something I like to consider myself a bit of an expert on.

I’ve always been pretty clear during my interactions with the DOC about who I am. I’m 22, I have Type 2 diabetes, I was diagnosed at 18 years old, I have a very low c-peptide that so that means I’m also insulin dependent. I’ve struggled with weight and body image issues my entire life. I want to be a doctor one day, and have done the pre-medical coursework while trying to balance life as a newly diagnosed diabetic. I’ve BEEN there. I know what it’s like to feel like a failure on so many different levels, to be overwhelmed, and to triumph in the face of it all. Sometimes I have bad days, sometimes I have good, but I’ve been there. Who better to talk about diabetes to my community? I figured I was a perfect fit.

When I say my community I mean people my age, people who might not ever think about their health because they’re young and invincible. As a speaker I pictured myself at the community college or my university sharing information and experiences.

So I RSVP’d.

Now, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling self conscious about my weight. I’ve been honest, I lost a tremendous amount of weight before and after my diagnosis, only to gain quite a bit back after starting insulin therapy on top of a long bout of burnout where I getting out of bed in the morning was enough of a struggle, let alone counting carbs.

The first thought I had about this was “I am overweight. What the hell do I think I’m doing, going to be trained to speak to people about being healthy and with diabetes.” I didn’t feel worthy to be an advocate, because I felt less like the example of a successful PWD, and more like the stereotype someone thinks of when they think diabetic.

I almost didn’t go.

Standing in front of the mirror, wishing my shirt covered more of my upper arms, wishing I were about 10 lbs thinner, I almost didn’t go.

But I did.

I got lost, as I usually do. For an hour. In 90 degree heat and humidity. But I made it, sweaty, disgruntled, and still self-conscious, I made it.

Now, onto the actual workshop. Overall I did really enjoy the speaker and thought she was great! But I still had some little brain-twitchy, nagging thoughts and feelings going through the PowerPoints.

Nagging thought 1: This information seems a bit dated or sometimes not entirely right. For example choosing skim milk instead of whole milk. I personally take soy, almond or 2%, but never skim or nonfat dairy products because my blood sugar just really doesn’t like that. But that’s anecdotal, and I totally get it, YDMV (your diabetes may vary). Also about cholesterol re dietary fat, saturated fat, etc. There was a slide saying that coconut oil is a bad fat, which I’m not sure is true. In case you didn’t know there is a bit of a controversy as to whether or not eating saturated fat actually messes with your cholesterol. It seems that past studies are inconclusive at best, but I’m not an expert on this issue, please refer to PubMed or your favorite scientific journal article database to learn more.

The thing is, I had to remind myself that the goal of a workshop is not to disseminate the newest research. Which as a science-nerdy type of person is hard for me to remember. The point is to give people information on some better (and realistic) choices they could be making regarding their health.

Nagging thought 2: These PowerPoints seem woefully incomplete. Okay, this one I asked about. Kind of dickishly I admit. Another girl there introduced herself as a pre-med college student, so I figured that gave me license to go “Oh hi, I’m pre-med like the other girl, but also I’m a grad student at *insert prestigious place* in biomedical sciences.” What? No one cares. God me, what’s wrong with you. But I felt like I had to JUSTIFY myself. Like, I have to tell you how educated I am because I’m fat and Type 2, and I NEED you to know that I know science, and I didn’t try to do this to myself. That in itself is kind of effed up.

The point of my question was how much “dumbing-down” do we need to do? Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t mean this in a rude way, but my background is in science, and I had to memorize stuff like insulin synthesis and gluconeogenesis for biochemistry, I wrote lit reviews on the effects of insulin resistance on brain function, I’ve researched the hell out of this condition. In general, I like to think I know what the hell I’m talking about. And of course the ego monster in me wants everyone to know it too (sorry…). The speaker had a great answer for me though, although the slides seem scant to me, to someone who has no real background knowledge in general taking-care-of-themselves-ness this is huge! They just learned that you can’t just count sugar, but total carbs. They don’t need to know about gluconeogenesis. It’s hard for me to imagine not having this wealth of knowledge about diabetes and human biology, but I have to remind myself that not everyone is as fortunate to have the health education I have.

Also, I am NOT a HCP, and she said to me that it’s not my job to give medical advice. Point taken. But I still felt like there were things that should have been said. For example, there was nothing differentiating Type 1, Type 2, LADA, MODY, etc. I get that people don’t give a shit about other, rarer types of diabetes, but at the very least say you’re trying to prevent Type 2. The welfare of children with Type 1 diabetes is in the hands of others when they’re away from home, we need to educate people that these kids can’t prevent their diabetes, and it is different. And that brings me to the prevention aspect.

Nagging thought 3: You really shouldn’t have said you were young and Type 2, and what the EFF are you doing here? During intros we were asked why we wanted to be a presenter. Well, naturally, I said I’m a young T2 and I’m super passionate about it and want to share. But then came the slides. Oh the slides. Let me make this clear, the presenter was great, she herself was T2, the attendees I assume are nice people, they didn’t really talk to me much. So the weirdness I was feeling was probably all in my head.

Much of this discussion was about PREVENTING diabetes, as well as living with it, but MOSTLY preventing. Okay, why the hell am I here? I already have diabetes, no one is going to want to hear me talk about preventing diabetes. I even have Type 2, the kind you’re supposed to be able to prevent! Well, here’s the thing, I really thought there should have been something touching on the fact that many people might not be able to prevent diabetes if already diagnosed with pre-diabetes. There are a lot of pre-diabetics that have already lost beta cell function, so while it IS about living as well as possible, it’s still possible that they will be diagnosed with diabetes. Also, I’ve read newer papers detailing how pre-diabetes is probably just diabetes. Someone there said they were diagnosed pre-diabetic, but they’re getting rid of it. And I don’t know if I can fully commit to telling an audience that if you’re diagnosed pre-diabetic that you can “get rid of it”. Sometimes switching to brown rice and working out isn’t enough to keep your beta cells alive! But maybe I’m wrong, it’s very possible I’m veering too close to that “you’re not a health care professional, you don’t give medical advice” line.

But I still felt embarrassed. I did catch a couple glances in my direction as we went through the “why do kids have Type 2 now?” slides and the “lose weight to prevent diabetes!” slides.

Okay. I get it. I’m fat. I’ve got diabetes. Let’s just stick the kick-me sign to my back and get it over with.

I think that teaching people about the dangers of being obese, of not moving enough, of not paying attention to your diet is PARAMOUNT. Of course I want to teach people about that, it would be wrong not to! I wish my parents knew this information when I was a child! But I can’t put my finger on it, something seemed missing from the slides.

The woman giving the talk made it a point that the goal should be to let people with diabetes know they are not alone, and that they shouldn’t feel guilty. I love her for that! But then again she is a person with diabetes.

The information on the slides doesn’t convey that sort of message. As someone with diabetes and with family members and an SO with diabetes, I know to tell people that message if I were the presenter. To say, “Hey, listen, diabetes is not shameful. It is a condition. You live with it, you learn to THRIVE with it. You are not alone.” But most of the people who were there learning to be “wellness ambassadors” were non-diabetics. People who don’t know what we know, don’t understand the emotional baggage that comes with diabetes, and probably never will as long as they’re lucky enough not to join the PWD club. Join is the wrong word, bound, gagged and thrown into the PWD club. It isn’t a choice. Even for those of us with Type 2.

So let me wrap up my novel. In summary the speaker and ADA staff were excellent, warm and friendly, the material was good, and I was just kind of an awkward mess. But hey, that’s who I am. Sure, I have some mixed feelings about it, but overall I am happy that there is an organization trying to go out there and teach people how to make better choices with their lives. The goal is to have a healthier, happier population. And that’s what matters in the end.

R.c.

Insulin Dependent

Every time I get blood work done my endo sends me a copy of the results along with any notes she has. These range from diet and exercise suggestions to little notes of encouragement like “A1c is improving!”. I love her for that. Unfortunately the most recent printout came with the most startling note so far, and it was only four words!

C-peptide low. Insulin dependent.

It’s been no mystery that my case has been somewhat of a question mark. I was diagnosed at 18 years old, no signs of antibodies, and mysteriously had my A1c jump from 5.3 to 9.2 in a matter of months with high BGs that didn’t respond to Janumet, Glimiperide, or mega metformin doses.

Despite the fact that I resisted the urge to make my meals consist entirely of Dunkin Donuts and Chef Boyardee – the college student diet of champions. Geez.

So I progressed to Lantus at bedtime. Then an NP had me try Victoza and took me off of insulin entirely. That sucked. A lot. I woke up with BGs in the 500s, I was nauseous, so I chucked that sample in the garbage where it belonged.

I’ve had a low c-peptide for a while, but the most recent blood test revealed that it’s far lower than it was. Like, way below the lowest normal number low.

I’ll admit it’s a bit of a relief to know that I wasn’t totally failing before, that my body is just being a jerkface like it usually is, but it does bring on a few more challenges. Like my T1 friends I have to BE the pancreas.

I think we should make t-shirts that say that by the way. Just a thought.

I have to take basal insulin and bolus insulin, and all the calculations that come with that. But like my T2 friends I still have to be very diligent with exercise and carb counting since I am still insulin resistant. And any T2 or T1 with IR can tell you, insulin resistance is a royal pain in the ass!

But, here’s the cool part, since my c-peptide is so low I might be able to make a case for getting an insulin pump! I haven’t started the process yet, so I’m not sure what will happen but I’m excited nonetheless. I’ve never met a T2 with a pump so I don’t know how successful I’ll be just yet. Also, I don’t know anyone in person with an insulin pump, so I’d love to hear what everyone thinks in the comments!

Where there is unity

“Where there is unity, there is always victory.” — Publilius Syrus

There is a discussion going around the community about a petition to change the name of Type 1 diabetes. I cannot do a better job than the others who have already written about this issue. You will find other blog posts detailing the merits and shortfalls of this sort of action. With regards to this issue, I can only share my own personal experience.

As a Type 2 diabetic I have felt embarrassed of my condition. I have felt anxiety and anger over what has been said to me, in person and online. I’m sad to say I’ve read many hateful posts on forums and other social media directed towards “my people”. The Type 2 diabetics. The stigmatized, the shamed. Many of these posts have been from Type 1s, or parents of children with Type 1 diabetes.

I can’t pretend, until I have children, to understand the turmoil it must bring to have a child diagnosed with a condition as involved, time consuming, and at times frightening as Type 1 diabetes. I can’t pretend to know the anger that comes when your innocent child has this constant burden thrust upon them. The frustration that comes when outsiders ask what happened, what did you do, to make this happen.

For that I am sorry and deeply sympathetic.

I can only give you my perspective. My own life since I was an 18 year old diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. It is incredibly hurtful when people assume that this condition that you struggle to manage, and must live with every single moment of every single day is all your fault.

You should have eaten better. You should have lost weight. You should have done X, Y, and Z. YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE BROUGHT THIS UPON YOURSELF.

I have read posts from Type 1s on forums, saying how frustrating it is for them to deal with this stigma. This stigma that should only be reserved for us, the Type 2s. We are the perpetrators of our disease. They are the victims. Similar thoughts have been put forward from parents struggling with the ignorance of others.

No one deserves this stigma. Not even the overweight Type 2 struggling with self-care. Not the Type 1 child who is just trying to live their life. No one.

Whenever the idea of a name-change comes up I get a knee-jerk reaction. I am offended. I am hurt. I have done nothing wrong, why are they so embarrassed to be part of my community? This wasn’t my fault, why do I deserve these ignorant comments more than anyone else? I don’t think this latest petition is trying to insult or alienate the Type 2 community, but I cannot deny that I suspect some of those who signed it would like to see that happen.

I would like to share a short story about my boyfriend and myself.

We met in the fall of my sophomore year of college. I was fresh from a summer of learning how to manage my diabetes after being diagnosed in June. I felt alone. So, very, alone. Like I mentioned, I was so embarrassed. On some level I truly believed that I did something criminal. The second time I saw B he casually mentioned wanting a scone, and lamenting that he did not bring his insulin. I was so excited. I didn’t take insulin at the time, but I didn’t care, here was someone who had screwy blood sugars too! Immediately I told him I was just diagnosed Type 2 a few months prior. Together, B a Type 1, me a Type 2 we navigated the pitfalls of campus dining, our almost synchronized blood sugar testing before dinner dates, the long walks around campus, which were very romantic, but also functioned to help lower our blood sugars. We moved in together, built a stockpile of diabetes supplies. When it became apparent that I needed to start insulin therapy he was there for me, reminding me to take my Lantus at night, sharing his Humalog when I ran out. Together, we learned.

Pushing for a name change, at its heart, has divisive implications. But that’s a narrow view. It doesn’t matter what name we assign, the general public will hear the word diabetes and the same connotations will arise in their mind.

What matters is quality of life. For everyone with diabetes.

We need funding, we need attention, we need more research to better understand what is happening in our bodies. Only then will we be able to better educate the public.

Quality of life improves not only with better treatment options, more D-tech, but with camaraderie! A feeling of unity, and support. A feeling that you are not alone! We must stand united, because only together will we be victorious in assuring a great life for all of those with diabetes.

I hope you stand with me.

Rose

I wanted to edit this to add, the majority of people with Type 1 diabetes that I’ve met have been so completely welcoming and understanding. I love them all and have learned so much from them. It is a small, unfortunate minority that have expressed the negativity I describe above.

You may have noticed…

I realize that I haven’t been posting very often, and for that I apologize. Unfortunately I’ve been preoccupied with being in a post-graduation rut and studying for the MCAT. For those of you who know me from Twitter, the last year has been a bit of a struggle when it comes to self-care, both mentally, physically, diabeetically (I can make up words on my blog right?) and so on.

Updates:

-I’ve started a trial on Symlin to get my postprandial BGs to stop spiking so high. Spikes after meals, even as low as 15g of carb sent me soaring even w/ bolus insulin. It was one of the more startling things I discovered during my short time with the Dexcom.

-I’ve decided to try and eat grain-free during the week and minimize how much I eat during the weekend. I find reducing the grains and starches I eat makes me feel so much better, less heavy and bloated. Also, I feel more alert. Fridays are the exception, to keep myself from feeling deprived I’ve decided that on Fridays I can have one of whatever I want, and enjoy the hell out of it. Last week I chose a reasonably (read: not colossal) sized glazed donut, and was able to bolus, enjoy, and continue on. I think taking the time to sit and savor it with a mug of good coffee was much more satisfying than eating three of them. That’s something I want to remember, the feeling of enjoying something and not having to feel guilty about it because it was a controlled situation.

Right now my focus is to work on improving how I live day to day as well as studying my ass off for the biggest test of my life so far.

I’ll try to keep you posted.

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Love,

Rc

P.S. I’m considering adding a video portion to this blog. I’m not sure if anyone is interested, but I think there are some fun things you can do with video that you can’t with just text and pictures. If you have any ideas about topics I could cover please let me know! I’d like to think as a young adult T2 I have an interesting perspective to offer. 🙂

Obligatory End of 2012 Post

Note: I think this came from the Match.com blog. I just found it on Google.

The end of the year is here, and I’m finding in the blogging world it is a time to reflect on all of the things that has happened to you over the past 365 days.

2012, which I swore would be a good year, turned out to be neither overwhelmingly good nor bad.

Some highlights:

  • I’m ending 2012 about 20 pounds heavier than when I started, which is really a shame. I purchased several pairs of very nice dress pants and blouses last spring in preparation for my debut into the working world. I suppose they will have to wait.
  • I graduated with my bachelor’s degree this year. This is one of the more positive things that has happened, as well as one of the scariest. For four years I grew accustomed to my life, moving into and out of the dorms, final exams, crazy sleep schedules. Now that I’m done I feel a bit lost. I am in the application process for graduate school and job hunting, but it doesn’t feel quite right just yet. I feel like I’m falling behind but at the same time rushing forward without a plan. So yes, I have a fancy piece of (very expensive) paper to hang above my desk now, but I await a fresh batch of anxiety-producing things to come my way. Have it on my desk by morning.
  • In April my boyfriend and I started our life together under one roof. Different people have different beliefs in this regard, but I personally don’t see myself getting married until much later in life. In my mind when it comes to relationships you might as well jump in, life is short. We’ve been through our own challenges as people do when they find themselves at the mercy of another’s mess-making abilities. But after 3+ years together I find that there is little that can shake what we’ve built. Mess-making notwithstanding.
  • I am seeing a new endocrinologist, who seems to have a better handle on what needs to be done. Unfortunately diving into basal/bolus insulin therapy coupled with emotional binge eating and lack of attention to my overall diet has lead to my 20 pound setback. Despite this my A1c is under 9 for the first time in a year and I’ve never felt more supported by a care team in my life. Cheers Dr. D.
  • I think one of the largest struggles I’ve had this year with regard to diabetes is burnout. In 2012 I suffered from one of the longest phases of D burnout I have ever experienced since I was diagnosed. From the end of September to the beginning of December I just didn’t care. I didn’t WANT to care. I binge ate my way through two months, barely tested my blood sugar, spent much of my time napping the day away, and honestly? I wasn’t that bothered. I knew it was dangerous, but I didn’t care. My life, as I saw it, was simply not worth it. To be honest, I’m still struggling. I’ve made progress, but I’m not 100% there yet. I’m struggling with getting active, with caring enough about myself to make an effort to live well. But I’m trying, and I think I can do it, it will just take time and small steps to get there.
  • I got to take a spin with the old Dexcom earlier this month. I think this sort of sparked me into at least trying to take better care of myself. It was bittersweet. The information was nice to have, but I know right now I can’t afford it permanently. I could see how high I was spiking and how low I was dropping without knowing it. I miss it, although the sensor needle in my belly itched a little.
  • And I almost forgot! I discovered the Diabetes Online Community this year via Twitter. It’s completely enriched my life and changed my perspective. The weekly tweet chats and people I’ve met truly help me get through the ups and downs of diabetes. Thank you all so much! My gratitude goes much deeper than you know.

When entering a new year I think it’s important that you don’t set a list of parameters that you must change yourself to fit. The most important goal for any person in a new year is to be happy. To be content and satisfied that they are doing a good job, whatever it is they are doing. I really believe that. So this year I want to feel that I am doing my best. I want to feel that I am doing everything in my power to ensure I’m living a life with which I am fully satisfied.

Let’s do this.