Tag Archives: Health and Wellness

Why November is rapidly becoming a month I’m not lovin’ so much.

I have a problem with the month of April.  Really crappy things have happened in the month of April and now, whenever that month rolls around, I sort of wish we could skip over those thirty days and get on with May.

November is a bit of a rough month though too.  I was born in November and, seven and a half hours after I was born, my maternal grandfather died of lung cancer.  Exactly one week later, my paternal great-grandmother died.  I’ve grown up with the memories of others in regards to these two individuals and, I must confess, I always feel a little ripped off.

But for the most part, November is a wonderful month.  I love fall and the crisp, clean(er) air it brings.  I love the colour changing and wearing berets and, yes, I even love the cold, wet weather too.

This time though, I’m not loving November quite so much.

For those of us in the diabetic community, it’s Diabetes month, except that, for those living with the disease, every month is diabetes month and we’re all painfully aware of it.

Until this year, I had no idea there was World Diabetes Day (November 14th this year, in case you’d like to “celebrate” it).  I had no idea that there was a blue circle to “brand diabetes” and “give diabetes a common identity”.  Ignorance, as they say, was bliss.

But then I got diagnosed and the last four months have been anything but easy.  And I’ve been on the internet ever since learning about my diabetes and trying to understand the other diabetes out there.

“So what’s your type?”

Mine is the suck ass kind and after reading another (much admired) blog post on World Diabetes Day, I’m not sure I will ever want to answer that question again.

It shouldn’t matter what type you are. Diabetes, all around,  supremely sucks sweaty monkey balls.  No, I can’t relate to having my tubing getting caught on a door knob (I can only imagine!).  I don’t know what it’s like to have to take insulin on a regular basis for the rest of my life in order to survive, but I can learn about it and try to empathize and not be so obtuse to that type.

So imagine my surprise, as I was reading this blog post, that I started getting the general sense that I, along with anyone else who has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, that I somehow asked for it.  That I made a lifestyle choice to get diabetes.

I am going to stop for a moment and say that the rest of this post is born out of the anger and frustration of being a diabetic and knowing I am actively doing things to improve the quality of my life and, I hope, for others.

I did not sign up to become a diabetic.

Sure.  Maybe T2D is largely preventable.  It’s much more largely preventable if it’s actually talked about.  But in my case, I wasn’t ever told that I could be running the risk of getting diabetes.

I had no idea the constant stress I was under was making me a candidate for this shitty disease.  I had no idea that my poor sleeping habits weren’t helping the situation either.  I thought I was doing good – I don’t drink any alcohol, I don’t smoke (and I miss a good cigar!), I don’t do recreational drugs.  Hell, I don’t even go to McDonald’s!

Yes, I could have been a bit more active or not had that bag of crisps or whatever, but again, I did not sign up to become a diabetic.

I absolutely resent (many things actually) that my diabetes was a lifestyle choice.  I did not knowingly ever make a lifestyle choice to become diabetic. Never once did I have a medical professional or a pharmacist or anyone say to me, “Hey, you know… you’re getting older and you’re not as active as you once were.  Did you know all that stress and being less active and not eating as healthy as you should could lead you to a path of diabetes?”  It was never in the equation.

Would it have made a difference?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think that perhaps it would have, but I’m not sure.  I am not the same person I was this time, last year.

Maybe there is a huge bias in this year’s awareness campaign towards T2D.  I’m sorry for that.  I almost feel personally responsible because, and God knows, T2D’s are taking over the world one body at a time.

This is in no way meant to diminish the severity of Type 1.  Again, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have Type 1 and I’m not going to pretend to try.  I try to understand it better than some, I try to learn things from those that are afflicted with it and I want to be someone that helps in the battle to find a cure for it.

But I want to find a cure for Type 2 as well.

Maybe that is “diet and exercise” for the masses, but for fuck’s sake, someone start saying that out loud; louder than it’s been said before.  Because while T1D’s had absolutely no control over their disease, and while a percentage of T2D’s may have a predisposition, nobody sets out to become diabetic.

I get enough guilt thrown at me from my government and health care professionals.  I would hope the diabetic community wouldn’t start throwing guilt at T2D’s too.

(As an aside, I have found far more many blogs about T1D than T2D.  I wondered why that was but… I think I get it now.)


There’s nothing like a break to throw you totally off track.

it’s been a long while since I’ve posted last, and in that time much has happened.  Or not much if you’re relating to bigger, real world issues.  But still.

I have now been successfully, well for the most part anyway, living with diabetes for close to four months.  In that time I have had some firsts – my first cold.  My first bout with the flu (which is still ongoing).  My first A1c test.

I am stupidly proud to say that my A1c is at 5.6.  I am, by all accounts, “normal”.  I’m diabetic, but I’m “normal”.  Even my triglycerides are down.  So somewhere, somehow, I’m doing this “right”.  I would like to say though, that I am far from being a perfect diabetic (there is no such thing) and I am just as prone as the next person to crave things that are on the verboten list and I’ll still eat them anyway.

So in that respect, things are going well.

I’ve also had my “Diabetes for Dummies” class.  Finally.  I celebrated my three month diaversery with that class.  No one likes a know it all though, so much of what was learned were things that I had read on the internet or through many discussions with some fantastic people on WordPress so I kept mostly to myself.  I did, however, learn that a 250ml serving of chocolate milk counts as two carb servings.  A bit of a letdown?  Totally.

Another first:  after much fighting for an appointment with a dietician, I have finally seen one!  She was well impressed that I had gone from cream to skim milk in my coffee, that red meat wasn’t present at every meal (it wasn’t before I was diagnosed either, but I reckon cutting back has helped with cholesterol and some weight issues) and that I actually was open to exploring a more plant based diet.

Which makes me somewhat sad to have forgotten it’s meatless Monday and I’ve had chicken for lunch.

As of today, I’ve lost a total of 25.4 pounds.  I’m well please with the slow, but generally steady progress in this.  I will also admit there’s a fair bit of vanity involved in that statement.  🙂

Today marks day 17 of a cough/sniffles that simply does not want to go away.  It started with a dry cough, went to full blown flu with laryngitis in less than 24 hours, and now I am left with a nasty cough that, when the mood strikes, makes me sound like an angry seal.  It probably didn’t help that, during the week I was off work, I spent my days napping and eating rubbish and totally ignored things like my supplements.

Which brings me to yesterday’s first.

I participated in my first real 5K race.  I wogged.  Well I mostly walked (I’m not going to lie!), but I did actually jog my way to almost half a kilometer.  Doesn’t sound like much, huh?  But I am amazingly proud of myself!  First of all, I am still sick.  I know others who have to be on their deathbeds before they’ll skip a race or a workout or whatever, but I’m not one of those people.  A hangnail is usually enough to stop me in my tracks.

I also didn’t have my race kit.  Lame excuse?  You betcha!  But since this was my first race, I didn’t know that they actually do have race kits near the corrals for runners/walkers/joggers to still pick up.  So even though I slept, at best, 6 hours, I only managed to get a hold of someone at the race office at 6:57 in the morning (“Get to the course!  Your start time is at 8:00!!!  There’s still time!!!”) and still had to have a shower and get in my “running” gear, I was out the door by 7:18 and en route to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  On an empty stomach.  Without water.

Doh!

So I was over dressed (a heavy hoodie and a running jacket and yoga pants does not make for a cool run), sick, hungry, hadn’t trained, but I still did it.  And I did it in 52:09.  No, not a blazing speed… but can you imagine how much better I’ll be if I’m not sick and I actually train?!

This may have been my first but it absolutely won’t be my last.

So the moral of the story is… it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, continue to have “firsts”.  More importantly, find something that you’ll love to do and just do it.  Never, ever let diabetes be something that rules your life, you rule it.

My backwards medal!

My backwards medal!


The Rogue Project

On September 1st, I had every intention of blogging a “Happy New Year!”  post.  It didn’t happen.  Then, the other day, I wanted to post something called “The Leona Papers” (my name is not Leona, but is actually Erika).

Instead, I’m posting the Rogue Project.

How to explain it… well, it’s something like this: get fitter, eat healthier, reduce stress, become smarter.

Ambitious, no?

The Rogue Project isn’t actually new.  In fact, it actually started out as Operation Transformation and was a new year’s resolution that went the way of the dodo bird.  July 2nd forced me to change my focus and actually change my life because, well, it really does boil down to a matter of life or death.  I like steaks.  I like French Fries.  I’m not willing to die for them though.

So I got to thinking, and this is where Leona comes into the equation (Leona is another friend of mine.  A single mum, raising two girls and somehow not totally pulling her hair out doing it).  We had been talking and Leona’s in a bit of a rut.  Work/life can get overwhelming for most of us, I can’t imagine how one tries to keep it together with two kids as well.  And so the story went with Leona: life is in a bit of a rut, food is becoming the companion to turn to for comfort, broke, stressed, well, let’s just say that I can relate.

At first I thought it may be a good idea to suggest one of those 30 day challenges that are making the rounds on the internet, but I remembered the comment on one that said, “Remember, don’t expect a miracle……..it can take 6 months to one year of intense training to build those dream Glutes!”  and so my thoughts on the 30 day challenge are that they are a great way of getting started and making small, generally attainable results, but if you want something to really make an impact, it’s going to take more than 30 days.

So now it was less about Leona and more about Erika.  What does she want?  What does she need?  What will make her less cranky and more at peace in her world?  Of course I want dream glutes!  I also want to be less in debt, or better still, not in debt at all.  I want to be the mistress of my destiny and, as an aside, live with diabetes.

I want to kick ass and take names!

Charcoal

I’m also a realist – I can’t do everything I need or want to do in 30 days.  30 day challenges?  Those are for wimps!  I’m doing a hard-core 365 challenge.

What that really means is that I’m going to lay the foundation over the next year, for how the rest of my life will be.  I will constantly be on the hunt for inspiration and motivation.  I will become accountable by making sure I regularly post.  And learn!  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue on with my nutrition certificate, but for the moment, if for no other reason, I will continue to learn and grow if for no one else but myself.

And yes, I’m going to adopt some of those 30 day challenges but the idea, for me, is to not stop after 30 days.

But for the immediate moment, I need to look at my finances, cut out some of the unnecessary expenses and reign in the spending, get off the sofa and get moving more and tackle the next 365 days like no one’s business.

Dare to Jump


I am not a number.

I’ve been trying to write something for days now.  I have lots on my mind, so there’s no shortage of ideas, but trying to articulate them is another story all together.

For those of you with diabetes, regardless of type, I am not about to say anything new or revolutionary.  For those of you who don’t, some of these statistics may shock you.  If they don’t, they should.

An estimated 285 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes. With a further 7 million people developing diabetes each year, this number is expected to hit 438 million by 2030.

Today, more than 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes.

Approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically due to a number of factors:

  • The population is aging.
  • Obesity rates are rising.
  • Canadian lifestyles are increasingly sedentary.
  • Aboriginal people are three to five times more likely than the general population to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Almost 80% of new Canadians come from populations that are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. These include people of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent.

The personal costs of diabetes may include a reduced quality of life and the increased likelihood of complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputation and erectile dysfunction.

  • Approximately 80% of people with diabetes will die as a result of heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year.
  • Canadian adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die prematurely, compared to people without diabetes.
  • Life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes may be shortened by as much as 15 years. Life expectancy for people with type 2 diabetes may be shortened by 5 to 10 years.

The financial burden of diabetes and its complications is enormous.

  • People with diabetes incur medical costs that are two to three times higher than those without diabetes. A person with diabetes can face direct costs for medication and supplies ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 a year.
  • By 2020, it’s estimated that diabetes will cost the Canadian healthcare system $16.9 billion a year.¹

When I was diagnosed, a whole seven weeks ago, this was the information I was reading.  It comes as no surprise to me that 25% of all diabetics are also dealing with depression.  These numbers go well beyond the, “No more pedicures!” and “Eat less, move more!” information that was supplied to me by the medical professionals.  Reading all of this made me depressed.  It also made me angry.

I read on a blog, the other day, that an individual who had been diagnosed had gone through this horrible period of adjustment that his medical team had equated to mourning a loss.  That’s exactly what I had been thinking and, I must confess, that it was nice to see validation from someone else.

For the newly diagnosed, there has to be time allowed to mourn the loss of the spontaneity in life, especially when it comes to food and drink.  There also needs to be a degree of understanding, or compassion, that we’re not all mourning that we’ll never be able to eat poutine again, or that we’ll have to give up whatever sinful food you want to come up with.  For me, and I’ve mentioned this before, it’s hard to grasp that, seemingly healthy foods are messing with my blood sugar.  Bananas and pineapple should not be seen as evil, and yet, I know I shouldn’t really be partaking in them.

But more importantly, at least in my humble opinion, the medical profession needs to look at each new case of diabetes and treat them equally and not making the assumption that dropping a diagnosis on someone and providing the sage medical advice of “Diet and exercise” will suffice.

I am eternally grateful, at least right now, that my diabetes isn’t being controlled with oral medications and / or insulin.  I do take low dosage meds for high blood pressure and cholesterol, but they are low dosage.  Would this not be an excellent time, as a medical professional, to talk to me and see what I’m feeling about all of this and how I can become one less statistic?

I have no intention of adding myself to the litany of statistics posted by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

I do have every intention of utilizing all the resources that are supposed to be made available to me – ophthalmologist, dietician, CDE, anyone else who wishes to participate in my health – so that I am not the burden to society that diabetics are made to feel.  So that I am not the poster child of the middle aged, obese diabetic.  Nor will I be the depressed diabetic in need of meds just to get happy.

I can’t do this alone.  I do need help, and resources, and I’m not afraid to admit that, but I am not prepared to be set adrift to figure this out on my own and hope for the best.

I want to write a piece that gives hope to newly diagnosed diabetics.  I want to be a person that can show someone else that it’s not all doom and gloom and that there are really good people out there that are trained to help diabetics adapt to a new lifestyle.

I want to be the sort of person that I came across on other blogs, the diabetics, regardless of type, who told me that it is a difficult adjustment but that it does get easier.  That shared what knowledge they had and have been so patient in listening to me rant.

So now to plan for the next steps.  Buckle up kids, this could get messy!

 

Character - by Helen Keller

¹ Canadian Diabetes Association – The prevalence and cost of diabetes.

 

 


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