Feb 15 2017
Jan 15 2017
In the past couple of months I have met a few people who are newly diagnosed or friends have shared with me that they have a relative or friend who is newly diagnosed and wanted to know how they help.
To the Newly Diagnosed:
Yes, having diabetes can be a scary, but it’s not a death sentence.
Yes, having diabetes can be depressing, but it’s not a death sentence.
Yes, having diabetes means that you will have to change some things in your daily routine, but it’s not a death sentence.
The first time I was informed that I had diabetes, I was completely stunned with disbelief. The first thing that I remember saying (after exclaiming “I am not diabetic”) was “I’m gonna die.” A friend who had taken me to the ER said, “No, you aren’t gonna die,” but I was convinced. I repeated it over and over again, “I’m gonna die,” even as tears flowed down my cheeks while they gave me an IV of insulin STAT.
Mind you, when I found out that I had Type 2 I was already dancing with a diabetic coma after going unconscious for an unknown amount of hours and the truth is had I not gone to the ER that day, I would have died, but that’s not the point here.
The point is…I couldn’t see living with diabetes as a reality. I viewed it as a slow death sentence and could already see that my death certificate would have written on it “Diabetes” as my cause of death. But as time progressed, I realized that I am not the author or the finisher of my fate and I could focus on dying with diabetes so much that I get by bus. Surely, having diabetes wouldn’t matter at all then.
Thus, I decided to focus on LIVING with diabetes. I was faced with two choices: I could see it as a slow death or I could see it as just one more thing that I am LIVING with. So, if you are newly diagnosed and depressed about it…you’re not alone. No one wants diabetes. But there is a life to to be lived and you don’t want to miss out on it.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
I’m sure you’ve heard that you have to change your diet and get some exercise. But you may not know what that really means. Here’s some insight.
1. You need carbs. Deciding that you will never eat carbs again is NOT the way to go. You may have to reduce your carbs and/or diversify your choices (ie. fruit over bread). But carbs are what gives the body energy.
2. Try to eat according to the plate method daily. Here are some examples of meals using the plate method.
3. Count carbs. I wasn’t a math person, but living with diabetes has changed that. Counting carbs can be overwhelming, so start with the foods you eat regularly and then move into foods you eat on occasion. I started with rice and grits, since I use to eat both almost daily. Here is a list of snacks that are 15g of carbs.
4. Get that body moving. Exercise helps you burn excess sugar and makes it easier for your body to use insulin. If you can’t go to the gym, that shouldn’t stop you. Make dancing at home a daily activity. I often have “Beyonce Breaks” and “Kirk Franklin Fun” in my house. I turn on my favorite song and shake what my mama gave me. It’s best to move for 10-20 minutes after you eat.
5. Take your medication. If you are on oral medications, take them with your vitamins in the morning and evening and you won’t even notice the addition. If you have to give yourself injections, just do it. I don’t know anyone who takes pleasure in sticking themselves, but when your life depends on it-you gotta do what you gotta do. And, YOUR life depends on it. The first time I gave myself an injection, I cried like I found a lump of coal in my stocking. But after weeks of three times a day, my philosophy became…Stick it and Forget it, until the next meal.
6. Educate yourself about Type 2. I would say the average person doesn’t really understand Type 2 and the more you learn about Type 2, the better you will be able to educate those around you. (Here’s a link to a video I made about things people said to me when I was newly diagnosed).
7. Tell those who are close to you. You need a support group that can help you get through the rough days. We all have them. There are online twitter groups #T2DOC and #DSMA and you can search for local support groups.
Remember, diabetes is as unique as the person LIVING with it.
Dec 23 2016
The holiday season brings with it a lot of emotions. Some Good. Some Bad. And some are just Bothersome and Stressful.
During the holidays, I find myself spending hours of mental energy building my reserve of comebacks specifically targeted towards FOOD PUSHERS.
FOOD PUSHER: A person who insists on you having “a little of this” or “a piece of that” or “a spoon of this” or “a taste of that.” Food pushers are bothersome and trying to navigate my way around them are a headache.
Once at a dinner party an elderly woman wasn’t happy with the amount of potato salad l had.
After putting my desired amount on my plate, she asked, “Is that all you’re gonna have?”
“Yes, I am diabetic.” I was comfortable exposing my diagnosis in that moment (but that is not always the case) and I honestly thought that would suffice. WRONG.
She grabbed my plate, “Well, I made the potato salad,” plopped TWO more spoonfuls on the plate and motioned me to keep on moving down line. It didn’t matter to her that I am living with diabetes. For her, it only mattered that SHE made the potato salad and my small helping of her dish was an insult.
After eating my desired amount of potato salad (which was roughly 1/4 of my plate), I proceeded to trash the remaining two spoonfuls without remorse.
It’s hard to get across to some food pushers and their inability to understand can be aggravating and stressful. Sometimes it’s like talking to a brick wall. Rarely do they understand.
There are times when it gets to me and with each “No, I can’t” it reminds me of my disability. And frankly, I don’t want to spend every hour of the holiday being reminded of my chronic illness. As a person living with diabetes, I simple can’t. I just physically can’t. If I want to be around for many more holidays, then I can’t over indulge. As a Type 2 diabetic managing with diet/exercise and pills rather than insulin injections, I have no way to balance the extra carbs. I must avoid them.
When food pushers say “have just a little more” all I hear is “just subtract a few days off your life” or “just move a little quicker to blindness or dialysis.”
It’s hard. It’s hard because many food pushers take my “No” to their food and beverages as a personal attack or a rejection of their love. I don’t love you any less, I just love me a little more.
If you have similar experiences, here are some tips that may help you.
Oct 30 2016
This month, I competed in the Pink Ladies Game Day Challenge with three of my sorority sisters for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
We had a BLAST! We played tug-o-war, changed a car tire, relay raced, paddle boarded, and more. It was a team challenge competition and although we didn’t win best costume, it wasn’t because we didn’t try. We were certainly cute.
I felt amazing. We came to win and it showed.
I felt like a warrior until…
The combination of heat and intense exercise caused my blood sugar to drop. When we completed the paddle board game, the last challenge of the day, I proceeded to find juice. I located a waitress preparing the breakfast for the participants.
I asked, “Do you have any juice? Orange juice or apple?”
She pointed to the free coconut water available for participants.
“Thanks, but I have diabetes and my blood sugar is dropping, I need some juice.”
She returned my comment with the same information, “We have coconut water.”
I walked away and found someone else. “Excuse me Miss, I need some juice, where can I find juice. I am willing to pay if need be”
“Did you ask the ladies preparing the breakfast spread?”
“Yes, I did. I even told the woman that I have diabetes and my blood sugar is dropping.”
She looked puzzled. With my anxiety rising, I didn’t have time to figure out why. Maybe she was puzzled that no one helped me or that I just shared with her that I am having a medical crisis. I walked away and quickened my pace. I started searching for something. Anything. My eyes landed on the beautiful display on the table. It was made out of fruit.
With the strength of 1,000 women, I started dismantling the display for a navel orange and prayed to God that I wouldn’t have to scream at someone for telling me that I shouldn’t take an orange. I sat down and started eating the orange.
My sorority sisters came over to me and the most amazing exchanged happened.
P: “We were looking for you, is your blood sugar low?”
Me: nod yes
P: “I can tell by the way you’re eating that orange.”
JB: Seeing that I am almost finished with the orange, “Do you want me to peel another one for you?”
Me: nod yes
P: “Do you want me to get you a coconut water?”
Me: nod no
D: “No she needs simple sugar like the juice from these oranges.”
Me: nod yes.
JB: “Here’s the next one.”
Me: nod yes
This exchange was EVERYTHING!! I am so thankful for how smooth this went that I felt compelled to publicly thank them for this moment.
Furthermore, I want to share three ways that you can be the PERFECT help when someone experiences low blood sugar in your presence.
1-I didn’t have to talk. Talking requires too much energy. The fact that I only needed to nod was awesome. Ask yes or no questions. “Is your blood sugar low?” or “Do you need juice?” Rather than open ended questions like “What’s going on?” or “What would you like me to do”
2-They knew the signs. Seeing me attack that orange like it had stolen my last dime was a clear sign that something wasn’t right and they knew what was going on. This was a blessing because I didn’t have to explain. Know what hypoglycemia looks like (sweats, shaking, etc) LINK TO SIGNS
3- They understood the need for simple sugar. When a person is experiencing low blood sugar, make sure your first thought is juice instead of chocolate. A lot of people think about candy bars, but you should think juice even sweet tea would be great. Sugar, Sugar, Sugar.
The next time you are out and someone has an episode of low blood sugar, do your best to assist them and help make that moment easier for them. If you are living with someone who has diabetes and you don’t know how to properly assist them, ask them now so that you when a moment of crisis comes, you already know what to do.
20 minutes later, I was back to normal and ready for action.
Oct 09 2016
Recently in the diabetes online community, people were responding to this:
I didn’t reply immediately because I wanted to do something more than write a note in the comment section.
It’s not easy living with T2 and this type of propaganda is harmful. I would like to thank everyone who stood up and supported the T2 community. The organization has now removed this.
In thinking about ways to educate people about T2, I decided to use Apocalypse Films as an example. Check it out here.
Aug 06 2016
I can’t believe I am even writing “Support my 100lbs weight loss” because when I started my journey, I never imagined this could be possible. I am 15lbs away from losing 100lbs in 10 years.
In 2006, I went to Paris for the first time. I wanted to buy some jeans that had enough leg room in them for walking. I tried on a few pair and ended up purchasing a size 20W. I was mortified because I had no excuse for being a size 20W. I looked in the mirror and told myself six harsh but truthful words…”You are fat for no reason.” I didn’t have any kids. I didn’t have any health conditions. The only reason I was that size was because I didn’t care. Sure, I wanted to be smaller, but I also wanted to eat whatever and whenever without caring about how it affected my body. My health wasn’t a priority.
At the Louvre wearing my new jeans.
Those jeans changed me. I decided that I would care. I put my health first and started my weight loss journey immediately upon my return. I refused to buy another size 20W and wore those jeans until they got holes in them and they were too big. I committed to these things:
1. TAKE IT SLOW: I didn’t want a quick fix because I wanted to NEVER return to that size again (unless I had a real reason). I remember inviting a few friends on the journey with me, but they all said they wanted to lose their weight quickly and a couple did. Most of them gained the weight back though.
2. LOVE MYSELF WHERE I AM: I didn’t want to hate myself, my weight, or the habits that got me there. My journey was about loving myself enough to let the weight go. So, I made sure to love the 260lbs me as much as I loved the 210lbs version, and so on.
So, I tracked my progress over the years. My over all goal was to not enter a new year weighing more than I did the previous year. And I accomplished that every year until the 5th year into my journey. Five years after I started my process of being healthier, I was diagnosed with diabetes.
When I was diagnosed, I had a major setback. I gained 32lbs in one week. I can’t even tell you how many months it had taken me to lose 32lbs and I gained it all back within a week.
I even have pictures to prove it.
Picture on the left (April 14, 2011)/Picture on the right (April 21, 2011)
Even with that major setback in my weight loss, I was happy to be alive and continued to love myself through that.
The slow road isn’t for everyone, however, it was best for me. I am no longer the person I was a decade ago. My eating habits have changed completely, my health is a daily priority, and most of all…I care. I care about myself in ways that I didn’t before and it feels so good.
Here are six lessons that I have learned along the way:
1. My journey is mine alone. It helps to have group support but when various groups fell apart I had to remind myself that this was my journey and I had to stay the course.
2. It’s okay to be the biggest one in the exercise class. I had to work through my reservations about joining a gym and exercise classes. I have been the biggest one in the yoga class. The biggest one in the Zumba class. The biggest one in the body pump class. The pilates class. The spin class. The water aerobics class. Each and every time I have been the biggest one in the class, I would tell myself, I won’t always be this size.
3. Some foods can’t go on the journey with me. Over the decade, I have let some foods and beverages go. Had you asked me 10 years ago if I could envision my life without those things, I most certainly would have said “No way.” Over time, however, I started eating cleaner and some food relationships came to an end.
4. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. When I have a bad day or an off week, I refocus and get back on track by reminding myself of the big picture. My big picture is to be healthier.
5. Commit to NEVER going back. With every 10lbs I lose, I commit to never going backwards.
6. The scale is my friend. At my heaviest, I avoided the scale. I didn’t want to see the number. I didn’t care. But along the way, I have come to see the scale as my friend. It is my daily or weekly gauge to stay on track.
So here I am 85lbs later. Today, I committed to something that I never thought I would be doing… I am committing to losing 100lbs. My goal is lose the final 15lbs before the year ends.
Cheer me on, I would love to have your support.
Aug 05 2016
Recently, I was asked to write a brief opinion piece about an experience I had as a patient. As I began writing, I realized that I have so many stories because living with a chronic illness means constantly going to the doctor.
Since I could only pick one story for the magazine, I decided to post a few stories on social media. For eight hours, I posted a new story each hour. You can find them below along with some bonus ones.
1. When rather than admit to medical malpractice, my physician blamed the 3rd degree burn I had after childbirth on diabetes.
2. When I think about the release form my physician made me sign because she didn’t think I needed to go to the ER and that I was acting against her advice and doing my own thing.
I told her I felt like I was dying and didn’t think she was helping me.
When I got to the ER they confirmed that I was actually going into a diabetic coma.
3. When I don’t get a bill after having two surgeries abroad but I am still paying for the one urgent care visit I had in Florida.
4. When the pharmacist gave me free samples of strips for my glucose monitoring device.
(For those who don’t know. 50 strips can cost $89)
5. When the physician treated me like an idiot, but then wanted dissertation advice after she found out that I am a doctor and been one longer than her.
6. When in 2013, I got the Fulbright and couldn’t maintain my health insurance or get new insurance because diabetes is a “Pre-existing Condition” but discovered that in the UAE everyone has health insurance and my doctor visits were only $13.
7. When I went to a new doctor to find out the status of my fibroid but he instead started pushing contraceptives on me talking about “Diabetics are at high risk for having deformed babies.”
8. When I walked into the doctor office to make an appointment and the secretary blurted “We are no longer accepting Medicaid patients.”
My response, “What’s Medicaid?”
After she bit her tongue realizing she made a judgement about me based on umm…I don’t know, “Oh, what insurance do you have?”
“Blue Cross and Blue Shield”
1. When I walked out of a diabetes center in the UAE after getting an eye exam, complete blood work, my A1C, insulin, a new glucose monitoring device, strips, lancets, and a visit with an Endocrinologist all at the same location within 2 hours and it only cost $13. As I reflected on all the times I had to put my diabetes care on credit cards because I couldn’t afford it.
2. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes (in North Carolina) and asked if I had Type 1 or Type 2 and the Endo replied, “Well, we don’t know. We have to send your blood to California and wait for the results to come back.”
3. When the dentist told me that I needed to be fitted for dentures because I would lose my teeth within a year.
(By the way: 16 years later I haven’t lost one tooth yet)
4. Every time my Endo tells me my A1C has dropped or remained within range.
5. How I feel when I run into another person with diabetes who tells with me that they have had similar experiences. The struggle is real!
Jun 24 2016
There is something very magical about having the ability to sync your glucose readings automatically. It makes your life a million times better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to see my endocrinologist and had some readings in a traditional logbook and some readings on an app on my phone, but the majority of the readings were still inside the glucose monitoring device waiting to be transferred.
Bluetooth connection changes all of that. As a new mom trying to balance it all, I have greatly appreciated having the opportunity to test the FORA TN’G Voice Glucose Monitoring System
When it first arrived, I was most eager to try the Bluetooth feature so I jumped right in. My personality type is whatever type that does NOT like to read instruction manuals and that was… umm… a MISTAKE!
After not getting very far, I had to go back and read the directions and guess what? I’m SO glad that I did. This GMS (Glucose Monitoring System) has many more features than I’m accustomed to having. I was able to set the time, a few alarms, the time of day for the readings, and the coolest of them all…set the volume of the TALKING Feature (or mute it). This devise actually talks to you.
Although the talking feature wouldn’t be great during the times when I want to be discreet (during class or in meetings or in church) but at home this is perfect. It’s also great for people who are visually impaired.
After getting it all hooked up, I struggled for a while trying to get the Bluetooth connection going, but once I found the correct button to press, it was SMOOTH sailing. (*It’s important to connect the Bluetooth via the APP on your phone and NOT the settings on your phone. This tip will spare you the unlimited amount of hours that I wasted without connectivity).
Do you see the light? This was so freaking cool. You’re able to check your glucose in the middle of the night when hypos hit without having to spend energy turning on the lights in the room. Furthermore…
When I finished checking my glucose, I didn’t have to touch the testing strip. I just pressed this button on the side and it popped out into the trash. It was like shooting a 3-pointer with nothing-but-net.
After some time trying out this GMS, here are the pros and cons.
1. The size. It’s the biggest GMS I’ve ever had.
2. I checked the major stores here in South Florida (Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens) and they don’t carry the strips. So, you have to make sure you order enough online.
Besides that, I was very much pleasantly pleased by it. On their website, they do offer a smaller one that might be easier to carry in a small purse.
The BLUETOOTH!!!! (Allows you to sync your readings to your phone quickly and completely hands-free)
The light (It’s so helpful, especially at night)
The audio voice technology. When you insert a test strip it says aloud “Thank you for using Fora Health Products. Please relax during measurement. Please apply blood into the strip.” (I liked being reminded that I need to relax. Sometimes testing can be nerve-wrecking)
The App (I can easily view my readings and give them to my Endocrinologist at my next visit)
Bluetooth (just had to say it again because it’s just so darn fantastic!)
If you’d like to try it at 50% off use discount code “drp50” on their website HERE (Discount ends July 31st)
*This review contains my honest opinion. I have not been paid for this review. I did receive the glucose monitoring device to test out at no cost.
Apr 16 2016
I travel a lot.
I am blessed to have have flown on more international flights than I can count and with a variety of airlines. I’ve traveled to 21 countries but I have NEVER had a diabetic meal as balanced and delicious as I have on Qatar Airways.
Last week, on my flight from Houston to Doha, I was given the following meal for dinner.
This meal consisted of: Salmon, rice, veggie sauce, a small green salad, fruit, and water. This was not only tasty but filling. The “regular” meal choices were chicken or vegetarian options which made me appreciate my fish option even more. Who doesn’t love salmon? It made me feel as special as my meal was.
Then before the descend, we were given breakfast.
This meal consisted of: Egg omelet, sauteed spinach, pink grapefruit, plain yogurt with a strawberry, a rice cake, and orange juice. I asked for the roll and butter.
If there was ever a time I got excited about a rice cake, it was last week on my flight. Why? Well, I like rice cakes but it was another one of those things that made Qatar stand out…what airline gives you a rice cake? Moreover, an apple cinnamon rice cake? I saved it for my snack and it was the perfect pick me up a couple of hours later.
Hands down, no hesitation, Qatar’s diabetic meals are the best that I have had on any flight. No Shade to other airlines…well maybe just enough to encourage them to step up their game. I use to fly (an airline that I will not name) frequently and I stopped requesting diabetic meals because they were not balanced (either too many carbs or not enough), they were not appealing, or tasty. It is a horrible feeling to get a “special” meal and look around at the “regular” meals and want to beat yourself up. The last time I flew on (an airline that I will not name) I ended up telling the flight attendant that I didn’t want the diabetic meal once I saw it. Sadly, she looked at the meal and understood.
The next time you flight internationally don’t be afraid to order the diabetic meal on Qatar Airways.
*I have not been paid for this post, I am just so thankful that there is an airline that gets our dietary needs that I think you all should know.
Mar 16 2016