Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Part of This Carb-y Breakfast!

It doesn't matter if you're a Type 1 or a Type 2, carb counting can be surprising.  In preparation for a ravenous run to the Panera Bread which shares a building with my office, I checked out their nutrition facts online this morning.

Did I want a whole grain bagel, or was I more in the mood for an egg soufflé?

The entire whole grain bagel clocked in at 70 grams of carbs, with a measly 6 grams of dietary fiber.  I'd be bolusing for about 64 grams of carbs!  Yet again proving that "whole grain" products are not necessarily "high fiber" or "low net carb" or "good for you".  I tend to eat carbs with reckless abandon some days.  I'm sure we've all done it at one point or another, but today I was feeling responsible.  How much worse could the egg soufflé be?

I was pleasantly surprised to find the egg soufflé (I was ordering the ham & swiss) had only 35 grams of carbs, with 2 grams of fiber, so it meant I'd be bolusing for only 33 grams!  Sure, half a bagel could have sufficed for the same amount of carbohydrate, but I was hungrier than that.  By ordering the soufflé, I also got a whopping 19 grams of protein; therefore, I was not starving two hours after like I would have been with a bagel!

I enjoy many breakfasts and lunches at Panera Bread.  They didn't ask me or pay me to write this.  Hell, they may not even know that I'm writing this.  If you enjoy eating there as I do, check out Panera Nutrition, their nutrition calculator website.  It's very helpful, and also a bit shocking!  Did I mention my egg soufflé had grams of fat in the double-digits?  Yeah, I guess what you sacrifice in bagel carbs you make up for in eggy, cheesy fats.  Oh, but they were tasty fats. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dead-in-Bed Tragedy

The diabetes community-at-large lost another young member last week to the Dead-in-Bed phenomenon.  It's yet another heartbreaking reminder that our time on this earth, no matter how hard we try, can be a very fickle thing.  There is not much in the way of commentary I can offer that hasn't already been said. 

Amy Tenderich hosted a great guest post today at DiabetesMine by Michelle Page Alswager, who also lost her own 13-year-old to Dead-in-Bed.

Allison of Lemonade Life suggests that "we must live in hope and action" in a blog post from last Thursday.

Kelly of Diabetesaliciousness fame was so moved that she opted to join in the local Philadelphia JDRF Walk this past Sunday at the last minute.  She ended up raising over $300!

So many words of encouragement out there on the diabetes community, the sharing of stories, grief, fears, hopes, dreams.

It's such a scary thing.  It's a concept I'd never even thought about until I started seeing it in the news around the Diabetes OC.  Overthinking it can be a reality check.  This past Saturday, sleeping at home in my own bed, I woke up with a start.  My heart was pounding, and I was sweating.  I tossed off my blankets.  My blood glucose was a bit high, but nothing outlandish.  My heart just kept on pounding.  Does a heart arrhythmia feel like anything?   I asked myself, paranoid.  What if one day I just didn't wake up? 

I don't know how to prepare a loved one for this kind of thought without them delving into a world of worry, pain and potential heartbreak.  I got up, had a glass of water, tried some deep breaths.  I felt better.  I was probably having a nightmare that caused my heart to race.  I got back in bed but continued to toss and turn for the next hour while the man I love snored softly next to me, entirely oblivious to my frustrated flopping.

I cannot imagine what it must be like for these families.  My heart goes out to you.  I'm not sure that there is much else I can do or say.  I hope for strength for you all in the days to come.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Greetings from Digital Pharma East 2010

I am a conference n00b.  Some members of the diabetes online community have given talks and served on panels at BlogWorld, BlogHer, ePatCon, CWD, and on Roche's diabetes advisory board.  This is the first conference at which I've had the pleasure of speaking, and I'd like to thank the hosts for having me.

Thus far, it's been a great experience for me.  Not every seminar or experience has directly related to me as a patient, but I definitely enjoy being able to give my perspective when it's needed...or even when it's not needed.  Pharma industry reps and marketers need to learn that patients would like to build a trusting relationship with the people who make and provide the medications, devices and medical products which they require to live.  

Why should people in pharma care about what the ePatients of the world say?  Because we talk to each other.  Because we want honest conversations.  Because we get your messages from traditional marketing, but in this digital age, just telling me to buy something through a TV ad or a doctor's office is not enough.  If I can go onto the web and compare reviews for nearly every book, movie, piece of clothing or pair of shoes that I might want to buy, I can also go out and look for information on pharmaceutical products.

Pharma seems so reluctant at times to dip their toes into the waters of social media, ePatients, digital marketing.  Maybe regulations are the one thing standing in their way.  I hope pharma is listening to what the patients want.  

We are your customers.  Please...listen.

I will be talking more specifics of my experiences at Digital Pharma East in the next couple of days.  Thanks again to the Exl team who put this conference together and put me on their panel!

(Coming soon...The Animas Presentation, my brief encounter with Dr. Anonymous, and fun with Allison and Lee Ann!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Let's Meet the Marketers!

In the interest of disclosure, tomorrow afternoon I will be making my debut conference appearance at Digital Pharma East in Philadelphia.  I'm excited, and of course a bit anxious.  I do hope that whatever I end up saying onstage has resonance with the conference attendees.  I hope to make some great networking connections as well. 

And I hope to have a fun time doing it.  I'm sure having Allison there with me is going to help a bunch, too.  She mentioned this same conference a few days ago.  Also, have you read her post from today in regards to the dumbing down of diabetes? It's totally worth checking out.  And heck, while we're on the subject of social networking and ePatient experiences, go read Kerri's post from today and ask yourself, "Are blogs going the way of the Dodo?"  Will they be overshadowed by Twitter and Facebook?  I, for one, don't believe that they are or that they will be.

How do I know?  I specifically sat down to create this blog post and voila!  Here you go, world. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Diapression: Stupid Made-Up Word, True Enough Statement

So a while ago, I wrote about having a lot of issues with attention in recent days.  I still do.  I find it hard to get through my work, or a book, or occasionally even a conversation without my mind wandering off to Timbuktu (or wherever it is daydreaming brains like to envision).  I am pretty sure that the dwarf hamster who runs the wheel in my mind has decided to hibernate.

I'm certain that many of us out there occasionally fall victim to an unfocused day, maybe even a foggy week.  For me, this whole issue has been going on longer than I would like.  It's affected my work.  It's affecting my writing.  Worst of all, it's affecting my diabetes management.  I know what I need to do.  I know every step I need to take, and I am willing to work on chasing my numbers, minding my carbs, trying to be a better diabetic.

I have entire days where I check my blood glucose once.  I eat carbs without bolusing.  I forget to check my blood before meals, even if my meter is sitting next to me.  I care about my health, my future, what's going to happen to me, and yet I can't seem to nail the most basic habits of a disease I've dealt with for over 20 years.  I need help.

Tomorrow, I am going to get help.  I'm going to see a psychiatrist for the very first time.  Nerve-wracking? You bet.  What will I learn?  Will there be a diagnosis?  Will there be pills, therapy or both?  Will they find anything wrong with me at all?  Will I discover that my dream about killing a horde of zombies with a spray bottle of Windex is my subconscious's way of telling me I'm a sub-par manager of my own health?

Last night at a visit with my fabulous (and extremely patient) CDE Sarah K., I told her about my plans.  She giggled and said, "Oh my God, you have...DIAPRESSION!" We laughed a bit over the silliness of the real website, as it notes that "diapression" is not a medical term at all.  Rather, it seems like one of those made-up words which is unpalatable to me, like "jeggings" or "tweens". 

The overall concept of the Diapression is a decent one, though.  The website's mission appears to be seeking mainstream acceptance for those piggybackers of chronic illnesses: depression, anxiety, and stress.  This happens to so many of us dealing with diabetes or any other chronic illness.  I took antidepressants from 2004 until probably 2006.  Sarah pointed out to me that she takes an antidepressant, another CDE at the practice takes an antidepressant, and loads of diabetics out there struggle with mental health.  Let's face it--there's no break from diabetes, and that lack of a break takes its toll.

Hopefully I like this psychiatrist, and we can work out some treatments to coax the hamster out with some bits of apple and get him back on his wheel.

In the meantime, I think I may make up more words that combine diabetes and other things, such as, "This diabetes is a diapain in the diass!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

No D-Day: Baby Talk

I hope that bird's bringing a fancy new job or a book manuscript.
 What I want to do or have not yet done with my body is my business, but as small talk, as a happily married woman, so many people always bring up the subject of babies with me.

"So when are you starting a family?"

"So when are you due?  Oh how far along are you?  Squee!"  I'm not.  I'm just kind of chubby in the middle.  Haven't you ever seen an empire waist top on someone who's NOT pregnant before?  Like that skinny hipster girl at the coffee counter with us waiting on a latte?  Why is it usually total strangers who are asking me if I'm pregnant? 

"Do you have any kids?  Why not?  You should start now while you're still young!"  

And most recently, "I'm not rushing you, Hannie Ellen, but whenever you're ready, I'm ready to be a grandmother."  Thanks, Mom.  I know it's only because you love me.

I'm here to set the record straight today.  I like kids.  They're adorable, and I really do think I want one, but no more than two of my own someday.  Someday being the operative word here.  The time, for Matt and I, is not now.  I have a house that I am terrible at keeping clean, and I don't own it.  I have a job that I'm not always pleased with and a wandering eye for a career opportunity that I am passionate about.  I have a husband who needs to complete his Masters' thesis.  I am enjoying being in my late 20's, having fun, making new friends, going on adventures.

I am just at the age where a number of my friends are starting to have children.  I even have a few friends now who already have toddlers.  I am growing accustomed to being around the wee ones, trying to take on a fun, sassy, goofy aunt role to the kids who are coming into my life.  I'm good at reading stories out loud, playing with Play-Doh, dancing and watching Batman.  (See also: video games, comic books, drawing stick people, knowing songs from Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba.)  I'm nervous about disciplining other people's kids.  I don't like having to yell at anyone, let alone a little one who may not listen to me, and I don't want my friends to take issue with the way I've treated their children.  It hasn't been a problem, but it always makes me nervous!

And that thing I have that is not to be named today?  You know, that health condition I talked about in yesterday's post?  We all know that doesn't make things easy either in terms of future pregnancy.  I have a lot of work to do on that front.  But it can be done.  And done well!  But this thing that must not be named today?  Totally not the reason for this post.

I think kids are all right.  Just not for me right now.  I've got time to figure it out. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Unintentional Healthy Habits

So in 2007, I ranted and raved about diabetes, a vegan diet, and the Skinny Bitch series of books.

In 2008, I talked about how the things that are delicious are not always the pillars of healthy eating.

And now, in 2010, I am here to say that in some small way, I have incorporated more healthy eating, a sprinkling of exercise, and even a few vegan dishes into my diet, and I suppose I'm all the better for it.  REMEMBER:  I am not a CDE, a doctor, or a registered dietitian.  I'm just telling you my experience here.  YMMV.  Or, possibly, YDMV.

While admittedly, I have not seen the endo enough times over the past few years--used to go every 3-4 months, current track record is more like every 6, gotta work on that one--at my last visit, I had lost about 12 pounds since the last time I had been in, and my cholesterol had been significantly lower.  Over the past year or two, I've been avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup-laced products when I can, and I'm trying to buy more natural/organic/sustainable foods when I'm out at the store.  I've tried establishing a Wii Fit routine, tried taking walks now and then for fun.

However, I've been unintentionally making healthier choices all year round.  First of all, I live on a one-way street, so in these past two years, I typically have to park halfway down the block from my front door.  This instantly incorporates a small bit of walking into my day.  Now add in the fact that restaurants, a movie theater, and the library are also within walking distance of my house.  That means more walking, as Matt and I typically dine out about once a week at our favorite microbrew pub, and I am a library junkie.

My number two healthy change fell into my lap in the form of a new gang of vegan friends.  These friends also have a penchant for throwing fabulous potluck dinner parties, so Matt and I have been striving to concoct actual vegan dishes even though we are omnivores.  (We think lazier omnis may show up with a bag of veggie chips and hummus and call that good enough.  Hey, it's delicious, but not exactly on-theme for a vegan tea party or a vegan burrito bash.)  I am not going to speak for or against a vegan lifestyle/diet here, but I will say that I respect the choices of my friends, and for the most part, I try to honor those choices when I'm around them.

A vegan diet won't cure diabetes, because as we all know, there is no cure for diabetes.  However, I'm sure any diet that gives you more proteins from chickpeas, black beans and tofu brings some kind of positive change for your body.  I know with my vegan friends, I am always eating more veggies, fruits and whole grains.  Carbs are still carbs, and fats are still fats, regardless of their exclusion of animal products.  And believe you me, I have had some of the most delicious vegan cakes over the past year and a half, including my own birthday cake.  (If you see this, thanks, Michelle G.!)

If you want to go vegan, or start an exercise program, or both, please do your research first and check with your trusted health professionals.  Just remember, I'm not a health professionalAt all.  However, the above-mentioned unintentional measures I took for better health have seemed to help me in some small way.

So here are my 3 completely unprofessional top tips for an unintentionally healthier lifestyle:

1.) Move to a neighborhood that forces you to park on a one-way street.  If you're bad at parallel parking (like yours truly), you'll park further away from your house and walk more.

2.) Move to a town where things you like to do are at least 2 to 2.5 blocks away.  Walk there a lot.  Even in winter.  I suggest investing in snow boots.

3.) Befriend nice, hospitable vegan folks who are good cooks, and expect homemade hummus alongside delicious vegan cupcakes.  Don't forget to bolus.