Diabetes Awareness Month

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and it is very important. Diabetes affects so much more people today than a century ago. As obesity affects more and more people each year, diabetes diagnoses are on the rise. I really hope that the information I share on my blog can help you better understand diabetes as well as inform you of some early signs of diabetes. The earlier your doctor can find your diabetes, the better your chances are of controlling and possibly reversing your diabetes.

This month, I want to help in the diabetes research advances and donate to their efforts.

11/8-11/14: American Diabetes Association
11/15-11/21: Cures Within Reach
11/22-11/28: American Society of Nephrology
11/29-12/5: Good Sports

I have launched my Etsy shop and I will be selling my stickers there. 10% of profits from each order will be donated to each organization at the end of each week. The minimum will be $20 whether I sell stickers or not that will come out of my own pocket but I do encourage you to check out my stickers and maybe make a purchase to help donate OR you can go to each organization and donate for yourself!

Also, November 14th is World Diabetes Day so stay tuned for more about that!

This month, we are wearing blue on Fridays in solidarity with diabetics around the world. I will publish another article about the significance of blue with diabetes. Until then, I encourage you to search on your own what diabetes awareness means to you and hopefully one day we can help bring a cure for diabetics everywhere.

The Journey: Episode Twenty-Five

OCTOBER 12, 2020

First update in a long while. I couldn’t afford my other insulin, Novolog 70/30 mix, so I decided to just keep taking my Lantus. I told my doctor about it and he said that’s fine. I just have to monitor my blood sugar more than I was before which was morning and night. He also wants me to check after I eat as well to see what elevates my sugar and all that.

My sugar has been more in range lately so that’s a plus. But I’m still experiencing more highs than lows. I’m taking my dog outside more because she’s getting restless at home now. Our room is too small but I don’t trust her bladder out in the rest of the house. She can’t be outside for too long, it’s really hot here and she overheats easily so I usually wait until after the sun is beyond Mauna Kea when it’s cooler on our side of the island and let her walk around. The fresh air has been a huge welcome for me. I can’t let her out of my sight. Last time she crawled under the bed and got stuck under there until we pulled her out.

Otherwise, life has been really off. My birthday was this past Friday and we got to go on a road trip to Waimea and back with my dog, she kind of enjoyed it. She was so tired afterwards. I wanted to go to the beach but it was Fall Break here and the beaches were crowded so maybe this week we’ll go to the beach.

That’s pretty much what’s going on right now. I need to come back to this blog and write some more. There are a lot of distractions in my life right now and I need to control them better.

The Journey: Episode Twenty-Four

SEPTEMBER 20, 2020

Some good news. I made the decision to lower my insulin dosage from 85 units to 80 units.Why? Mostly because it stings a hell of a lot when I do 85, but also because I want to stretch my insulin as long as I can. And I’ve been doing the 80 units for the last four days and so far my blood sugar levels have been more in range with 80 units than with 85 units. That’s a real surprise to me.

However, I did have one day that was high and I noticed that it was because I forgot to drink my cinnamon tea the night before. When I do drink my tea, my sugar is in range the next morning so that’s pretty awesome.

There’s not much left to talk about. Everything has pretty much been the same as far as not being able to afford my medications all the time. My husband’s birthday is on Wednesday and I plan to make him dinner for a change. He wants mashed potatoes and pork chops. If my grandma’s garden still has green beans, I plan to harvest some and cook some of those with dinner. I think he’d appreciate it if I made him dinner. He always makes dinner, he complains about it too but I know he likes doing it, he can practice cooking and cutting and he’s getting better at it. He is a cook after all.

I am also planning to make him Italian seasoning. I have almost all of the herbs and spices, and he’s been wanting some for a long time. I just need a container to put it in.

My dog had a stroke the Friday before last. She’s doing better after the vet, her recovery is slow-going but she’s walking more and she has an appetite which is good. Her head is tilted and she still kind of walks in circles but she’s walking straighter now. She has started to lose control of her peeing, She pees herself a lot now. We’re keeping a close eye on her. We have step in our room to get up into the rest of the house and today she got herself up that step which was really amazing for her. I hope her recovery goes smoothly.

Other than that, that’s pretty much what’s going on in my life. I do hope to order stickers this week. I’m still deciding which online seller to work with, although it does look like I’ll be working with Etsy, which isn’t so bad except that they have a lot of fees. But we’ll get there when we get there.

The Journey: Episode Twenty Two

SEPTEMBER 6, 2020

So I couldn’t afford to get my Novolog Mix 70/30 this week. No shock there. My insurance preferred that I get the brand name insulin which was obviously more, almost $600 a box of five pens. So the pharmacy asked if I wanted to screw my insurance and go with the generic and I said okay. Hah $300 per box of five pens. Then I asked if they could take my GoodRX card, they said sure. That would have brought my insulin down to $132. Which that was still too high a cost this week with all of our bills we had to pay, including the insurance that won’t pay for my medications.

So instead I went back to KTA and refilled my Lantus for $99. So I’ve been taking that the last two nights again. Not sure when we’ll get the money to pay for the Novolog, if we’ll get that money. Unemployment is supposed to give us backpay for August but we don’t know when that is coming. I’ve resorted to selling life insurance to hopefully help pay the bills.

I say it like it’s a bad thing. It’s not. I genuinely think people should be getting life insurance right now, especially with the pandemic going on and unemployment still being high. I’m really glad I got my life insurance before I was diagnosed with diabetes because I could potentially be uninsurable. My husband is on my policy and he’s the only one currently working a stable job. If I were to lose him, his insurance could help me financially which would be great.

I think of all of my friends and family who aren’t insured and have children. If they caught COVID-19, their children would be at risk. It’s a sad thought. So I’m glad I was able to get one of my friends insured, as well as his wife and kids, because now they can rest easy knowing if anything were to happen, they would be okay financially.

If only that line of business was more stable. But that’s alright. We’re making do. I can’t get my insulin right away but that’s okay, we’ll get by. I’m hoping I can make more sticker sales so I can pay for my business expenses separate from my personal expenses. I just have to keep persevering. Good things will come, I know they will.

So I have to wait until my husband’s pay day and hope he gets paid enough for the bills and my insulin. He worked too much hours to qualify for unemployment this week and my unemployment doesn’t get filed until next Sunday. Pay day is Friday. I have a doctor appointment with my PCP for my regular pills. I might have to pay for those because apparently we no longer qualify for QUEST medical and they picked up on the copay that HMSA left me with so that’s probably another $40 right there.

We have over $200 in bills to pay this week and only $40 in our account. Super great fun right there. Healthcare should seriously be more affordable than this. Isn’t America just great? I’m just upset that I can’t afford my medication. It all just sucks, but I will never give up.

My message to all of you out there: Keep on moving, don’t give up, and especially don’t give up on yourself. You’ve got this and I’m right here with you every step of the way. You have some rooting in your corner, always on your side, all the way out here in Hawaii. Never, ever give up. You can fight this and you can make it out of this alive. I believe in you.

The Toll of Diabetes on Your Mouth

Diabetes can affect a lot of organs and systems in your body, I’m sure you know that. The nervous system, your kidneys and liver, your heart, even your immune system. But do you know the effects of diabetes on your mouth?

If your diabetes is left untreated, it can take a huge toll on your mouth.

  • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry.
  • The absence of saliva puts you at a higher risk of tooth decay (cavities).
  • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often (gingivitis).
  • Problems tasting food.
  • Delayed wound healing.
  • Susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
  • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an earlier age than is typical.

Tooth decay (cavities) occurs when you ingest starchy and sugary foods and drinks. They interact with the bacteria in your mouth and create a sticky film known as plaque on your teeth. The acids in plaque attack the surfaces of your teeth (enamel and dentin) making it easier for bacteria to get within your teeth. This can lead to gum disease.

Early gum disease (gingivitis) occurs when plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing enough. The plaque hardens under your gumline into tartar (dental calculus). The longer the plaque and tartar remains on your teeth, the more they irritate the gums around the base of your teeth, called gingiva. In time, your gums become swollen and bleed easily.

Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) is when untreated gingivitis becomes worse and causes a more serious infection. Periodontitis destroys the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. Eventually causing your gums and jawbone to pull away from your teeth, which causes your teeth to loosen and possibly fall out.

Periodontal disease is a chronic, inflammatory disease that can destroy your gums, all the tissue holding your teeth, and even your bones. It is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of poor blood sugar control. Serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise. This makes diabetes harder to control and makes you more susceptible to infections and are less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums.

To avoid gum disease, get on a Dental Health Action Plan. This includes:

  • Controlling your blood sugar levels. Change to a healthier diet, exercise more, and brush your teeth. Good blood sugar control will help your body fight any bacterial and fungal infections in your mouth and help relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • If you wear any type of denture, clean it each day.
  • Make sure to brush twice a day with a soft brush and floss daily.
  • See your dentist for regular checkups.

Diabetes lowers the body’s ability to fight infection and slows the healing process making periodontitis a larger and dangerous possibility for diabetics.


REFERENCES

Mouth Healthy
Mayo Clinic

The Journey: Episode Twenty-One

AUGUST 30, 2020

I had my doctor appointment on Thursday. I’m a little confused. I told my doctor all about my difficulties with my 85 units of Lantus and my blood sugar not being within range. We were concerned that my A1C hadn’t improved. So he decided to prescribe Novolog Mix 70/30. He wants me to take 50 units twice a day, 15 minutes before a meal.

What I’m confused about is, am I taking both Lantus and Novolog? I forgot to ask on the phone appointment and when I called the office an hour later to change pharmacies. I had to go with the Walgreen’s in my area because of the price. CVS would have charged me almost $250 per box, whereas Walgreens could catch me at $140, I hope. I’d have to use GoodRx for this one. But if I still have to take Lantus, then it’s cheaper at CVS. Then my pills are all at another pharmacy. All of this because my health insurance won’t cover insulin.

So because I don’t know if I’m taking both, I ran out of Lantus, I don’t have any money for either of them, and my Walgreens was fresh out of Novolog so I have to wait until Monday afternoon to see if it came in and take my insurance cards to them. I also have to hope they’ll take my GoodRx for the price it says. If not then I’m not going to be able to take this insulin AT ALL. This is so frustrating, not being able to afford your medication.

My last dose was Thursday night and since then I’ve had to rely on my cinnamon tea and berberine supplements. Surprisingly, they’ve been holding me at an okay morning blood sugar. It’s not within range but it’s not over 150 either so that’s good. I’m wondering if my insulin really is working or if this whole time it’s been the tea and berberine that’s gotten my number down in the morning. I’d like to try and purchase at least one box of Novolog to see if it will be more effective.

I’m so upset. He was going to prescribe me Ozempic, which I know worked, but it was over $400 for ONE PEN. I had it for one month last year and I was only able to buy it because my sister and best friend loaned me money to get it. But I can’t afford it now with this pandemic. I don’t know what to do. We have bills to pay, my unemployment benefit claim is going to be up soon (and that was only $200 every two weeks), and my husband doesn’t make enough for the bills but too much to qualify for unemployment.

Because of this, I’ve decided to start selling merchandise for my blog. If the sales can cover the monthly costs for my blog, then that’s one less thing we have to worry about each month. If you’re interested in pre-ordering some stickers, you can find the post on Instagram or on my Facebook page.

Also, I’m trying to kickstart my merchandise so I can eventually open an online shop and prepare for World Diabetes Day and National Diabetes Awareness Month this November. I’m always coming up with sticker designs and there will be new ones added every time. This pre-order is to help me order more stickers. Please think about supporting. I know it’s not a great time right now with the pandemic but anything helps.

Hopefully, next week I’ll be able to update you folks that I was able to buy my insulin and my numbers are looking better. I have no idea what the future holds but I can only hope that it looks bright.

Cinnamon Tea & Diabetes

Cinnamon tea has a lot of health benefits. Just boil some water and steep a stick of cinnamon for 10 to 15 minutes and you can reap the benefits. Don’t have a cinnamon stick? A teaspoon of ground cinnamon works just as well.

The benefits of drinking cinnamon are numerous and don’t just benefit diabetics.

  1. Loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight off oxidation caused by free radicals that contribute to diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  2. Lowers inflammation and may improve heart health. Inflammation is thought to be at the root of many chronic diseases including heart disease. Cinnamon may also increase levels of HDL cholesterol.
  3. May help reduce blood sugar. Cinnamon may contribute to the lowering of insulin resistance thus increasing insulin’s effectiveness. Cinnamon may also slow the breakdown of carbs in your gut which will regulate your blood sugar levels.
  4. May promote weight loss. Studies don’t completely control all factors, like calorie intake, but if you control your calorie intake and take about 5 teaspoons of cinnamon powder per day for 12 weeks.
  5. Fights off bacteria and fungi. Cinnamon has antibacterial and antifungal properties which prevents the growth of bacteria, fungi, and molds, like Staphylococcus, Salmonella, and E. coli bacteria. It can also help reduce bad breath and prevent tooth decay.
  6. May reduce menstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms. Cinnamon tea can help make symptoms more bearable. You can take 3 grams of cinnamon each day for the first 3 days of your menstrual cycle.
  7. May fight skin aging. Cinnamon may promote collagen formation and increase skin elasticity and hydration.
  8. May have anticancer properties. Cinnamon extracts may help kill certain types of cancer cells, including skin cancer cells.
  9. May help preserve brain function. Cinnamon can help protect brain cells from Alzheimer’s disease and improve motor function in those with Parkinson’s disease.
  10. May help fight HIV.
  11. May reduce acne. Cinnamon can help fight the bacteria that causes acne.

7-11 are not completely concrete benefits of cinnamon tea. More research is being done to come to strong conclusions.

So cinnamon tea has a lot of benefits for all. For diabetics, it can help with insulin resistance and might even help you lose weight. You can either have it as a tea or as infused water. Just remember to keep your cinnamon intake low. Too much could be toxic. The compound coumarin is both beneficial and toxic for your liver.

If you do drink cinnamon tea, stick to one or two cinnamon sticks a day, or two teaspoons max. But go ahead and reap the benefits.


REFERENCES

Healthline
NDTV Food


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The Journey: Episode Twenty

AUGUST 23, 2020

Well nothing really to report. However, I got my blood test done for my A1C and my number isn’t looking too hot. I was at 7.9 in April and now I’m at 8.2. So it’s gone up a little bit and I’m not too happy about that. All the insulin injections and blood sugar checks and I’m no better. But on the bright side at least it’s not at 11% like it was last year so in a year’s time I’ve managed to drop by 3% so that’s good news.

My doctor appointment with my endocrinologist is this Thursday so I’ll have an update by next episode.

I’ve been drinking the cinnamon tea some more. I talked with my diabetes coach and she said there was no concrete evidence it really helps to lower your blood sugar. I decided to make an experiment of it. But I can only do it for a week. Here’s how it would work:

For three days, I won’t drink cinnamon tea, Wednesday I would drink only the nighttime tea, then the last three days I’ll drink both teas. I’ll eat the same food at the same time every day, take my medications at the same time and check my blood sugar at the same time. That means alarms will have to be set on my phone and I’d have to try and sleep around the same time to be able to wake up around the same time.

I have to wait a couple weeks so I can save up money to buy the food for meal prepping and more prescriptions. Plus, I’m not sure if my doctor is going to give me a new insulin and I’d like to give it at least a week to figure out how it works for me. But when I do start my experiment, I’ll record about it here. I’m kind of excited about it because it’s going to make me feel like a scientist with all the note taking and experimenting.

I’m going to try a couple of days without the tea to see if there is any significant change in my blood sugar readings. So far it’s been looking pretty good although I take my tea either right before or after taking my blood sugar right now so I have to figure out the best time to drink and check. I’ll figure it out eventually.

Oh hey a self love update! I bought a t-shirt and lounge pants with The Child on them and I love them so much. However, the pants were way too long for my short legs so I cut them off at the knees, just below the graphics. Which is good because I can’t inject insulin in my thighs with pants on. I love it like this and I can use the cut off material to either make pillows or face masks, I have options.

The t-shirt is kind of thick and big so I cut the sleeves and collar off and I turned it into a crop top. It comes down to my belly button and it’s very comfy. I’ve decided to use it as my new pajama set, it’s been kind of warm lately anyway. Maybe when it gets colder and I get a little bit more confident I can wear it out in public. I might do it with other shirts that I have. I’m totally in to crop tops right now.

I’ve had issues with loving myself lately with this pandemic and my diabetes so finding something that makes me feel great about myself is a win in these dark times. I greatly encourage you to find that something in your life that makes you love yourself and enjoy it. You don’t have to take it out in to public if you’re not comfortable with that but you deserve to love the way you look and who you are. No matter who you are and what you look like, you deserve to love yourself and the body you’re in.

Lifestyle Change vs. Diet

I’m sure you’ve heard both terms being thrown around a lot, but do you know the difference?

Diet has two definitions:
1. the kinds of food that a person habitually eats.
2. a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

Which one do you hear more of? I’m forever hearing on the tv about commercials of miracle diets for weight loss. Diets don’t work. Why? Because diets are meant to be temporary. A diet consists of temporarily changing your eating habits to promote a certain outcome, like weight loss, before returning to your previous eating habits.

Now lifestyle changes are where it’s at. A lifestyle change consists of adopting healthy overall habits that promote long-term weight control and health. A diet focuses on food intake whereas lifestyle changes your diet with other factors that affect your weight and health, like exercise. In other words, a diet is a temporary solution and lifestyle changes are healthy habits for life.

What kind of lifestyle changes can diabetics make?

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, like brisk walking, water aerobics, hiking, or using a manual lawn mower.
  • Cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies.
  • Get rid of junk food and snack on more nutritious foods.
  • Replace refined carbohydrates with wholegrain foods.
  • Reduce amount of saturated fats.
  • Choose lean meats over processed meats.
  • Apply stress management techniques in your life.

Did you know that stress can really mess your body up? Stress hormones can increase blood pressure, slow down your digestion, and can make blood glucose control difficult. Reducing stress can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, and anxiety.

In my opinion, I never use the word “diet” unless describing something like diabetes diet, even then I don’t mention it often. Why? Because “diet” is a dirty word. I’m not looking for a temporary change, I’m looking to change my life. Your intentions are everything. If you only intend to diet, you are only looking for temporary. Speak it into existence and tell the Universe you are changing your life for the better.

Do you want to know more about a diabetes diet though? Here’s what I have found for you and for myself.

Healthy Carbohydrates:
– fruits
– veggies
– whole grains
– legumes
– low-fat dairy products
Fiber-rich Foods:
– veggies
– fruits
– nuts
– legumes
– whole grains
Heart Healthy Fish:
– salmon
– tuna
– mackerel
– sardines
Good Fats:
– avocados
– nuts
– canola, olive, and peanut oils

When you’re looking for things to eat, remember to avoid these foods:

  • fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury
  • high-fat dairy products
  • coconut oil
  • processed foods high in trans fats
  • high-fat animal proteins

You should aim for no more than 200mg of Cholesterol and less than 2300mg of sodium per day.

Diabetes management is a lifestyle change. We have to create new, healthier habits for our lives to better manage our diabetes. We can do this! Change your life for the better and not for the temporary.


References

Healthy Eating
Diabetes UK
Mayo Clinic


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The Journey: Episode Nineteen

SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 2020

My blood sugar is looking a little bit better this week. I started drinking cinnamon tea about five days ago and my blood sugar has been in range more days than out of it. I’ve heard of the benefits of cinnamon tea on blood sugar levels and I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while and I finally got around to it. I’ve read that you can use either a cinnamon stick or one tablespoon of ground cinnamon, I finally found cinnamon sticks in a big container at my Walmart so I don’t have to do ground cinnamon.

One thing about cinnamon tea though, is make sure you’re not taking too much of it. It has a compound that could shutdown your liver if you ingest too much of it, but you’d have to take like either a lot or this one cinnamon that has a high amount of that compound. I can’t think of the name right now, so do your research before you start drinking this stuff.

It’s not so bad although if I let it sit for too long, like when I’m waiting for the water to cool down and I’ve forgotten it, it can get a bit spicy. One time I forgot it completely until the water was basically cold and the stick was sitting in the water and it was the spiciest drink I’ve ever had in my life it was a bit hard to swallow but I managed to drink it all. I think it works best when the water gets spicy.

My cinnamon stick stash

I’ve been using one stick twice a day, once in the morning and once before I take my insulin. Then I’ll take my blood sugar and prep my insulin. Man my insulin. I’m running low on funds to buy my insulin, fun times. So I’ve taken to using every drop of insulin I have. Before I’d throw away whatever was left in my pens if it couldn’t make a full dose, because I was afraid of sticking myself twice in a night, and for good reason too, it’s not fun twice in one night.

But since I won’t be able to afford it for much longer I’ve had to double up on needles every couple of days to make my 85 unit doses. It’s not fun and my left leg has already had to do it twice now. I’ve managed ten shots in my right thigh and I’m eight shots in on my left thigh with two nights doubling up. It wasn’t very fun, though last night it wasn’t too bad when the needles went in, but afterwards they both stung and the second one bled a little bit.

I’ve kind of come to terms with double shots some nights, anything to save money really. I’m just upset that I have two insurances and neither of them will pay for my insulin. I’m not sure if my insulin is a life-saving drug, but it’s so important to my health and they won’t cover it, like it’s some optional drug that I don’t need. They’ll pay for my cortisone cream for my eczema but not my insulin. Thank goodness for a manufacturer coupon that makes it cheaper for me, but at $100 a box every couple of weeks is still ridiculous.

This is so ridiculous. But hopefully with the cinnamon tea, exercise, and lower carb intake my blood sugar will be able to get under better control. I hope I can get another insulin or something that I can take a smaller dosage and maybe cheaper? Who knows. Here’s to hoping for a better future for myself.