May 19 2017
May 17 2017
Today is Day 3 of Diabetes Blog Week (#DBlogWeek) and today’s topic asks us to reflect upon a person who has passed judgement on us and envision them saying something differently. What would we have them say to us instead of what they actually said.
Here I go…
I can’t think of a particular person because I have had so many experiences with people and information about diabetes, that I would like to envision them all saying this to me.
I am sorry.
I am sorry that you were born in a society that has yet to rectify the ill-treatment of black Americans and the lasting effects of inequality.
I am sorry that you grew up in a poor neighborhood and because of that your ability to access fresh foods at affordable prices was almost non-existent.
I am sorry that you grew up in a neighborhood that was saturated with drugs, drug addicts, and drug dealers, and it made going outside to exercise dangerous. So you learned to stay inside.
I am sorry that so many things were scarce or absent from your family and neighbors for so long, for so many years, decades, and centuries that food and ample portions of it was the way in which your family came to express love.
I am sorry that the environmental stress of being in the skin you are in wears on your mind and has negative effects on your body.
I am sorry that your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother carried her in a womb toxic with worrying about her safety and that it was still true for your mother’s mother’s mother and your mother’s mother and your mother and even you as you carried your daughter in the height of the Black Lives Matter Movement and that science is just now getting around to discovering that anxiety, stress, and worry affects babies at the cellular level.
I am sorry that we have yet to know the full extent of what 400 years of this trauma does to the bodies of African Americans and how it may weaken organs like the pancreas.
I am sorry that you’ve had to worry about your safety daily and that most of the times that trumped your ability to think about whether the meal you were eating was “healthy” or not.
I am sorry that no one came to your school, to your neighborhood, to your church to teach healthy eating with the foods that are important to your culture.
I am sorry that you didn’t have access to proper medical care and physicians who saw you as a person.
I am sorry that no one explained that these socio-economic factors are the primary risk factors that caused you to develop Type 2 diabetes, but rather just stated “Risk Factor: Being African American.”
I am sorry that when you read or are told, “Being African American is a risk factor of Type 2 diabetes” that it makes you feel that there is something, yet another thing, wrong with the skin you are in.
I am sorry that messages like this hurt you so much emotionally when you were in the hospital newly diagnosed that you sunk into depression not fully understanding why.
I am sorry that these messages turned you away from learning about diabetes because you couldn’t take another kick during the very fragile and vulnerable state you were in.
I am sorry that your beautiful blackness and cultural identity isn’t celebrated while simultaneously condemning the conditions to which you were exposed and which you are forced to survive in as the real risk factors of Type 2 diabetes.
I am sorry that when you leave your home you pass seven fast food restaurants with glaring signs of complete meals for $5 and five corner stores before you reach a grocery store where $5 won’t buy you a complete meal made with fresh ingredients.
I am sorry that it is not clearly stated that if someone, not matter their race or ethnicity, were exposed to the same historical and societal experiences as African Americans and Native Americans, they would face the same risk factors.
I am sorry that by not saying this, it feels like another assault.
I am sorry that the secretary at the podiatrist’s office assumed you were on Medicaid and denied you an appointment until you asked her what was Medicaid. It was then that it became very transparent that she assumed you were on Medicaid because you were African American. It was then that it became very transparent that those on Medicaid aren’t treated the same.
I am sorry that in that moment you realized, as if you didn’t know before, that being African American navigating the Health Care system is multifaceted and having a PhD with “good insurance” meant little on first sight.
I am sorry that an Endocrinologist treated you like “all the other” African American patients at the office until she realized that you had a PhD and told you immediately that “you’re not like the rest” and her level of care, treatment, and attitude changed.
I am sorry that you walked out, sat in your parked car, and cried after that visit because you couldn’t deny the reality of the differences in treatment some African Americans receive and your soul poured out like a river in Springtime overflowing with grief, despair, compassion, and confusion.
I am sorry that this type of pain from frequently feeling hopelessness is a risk factor for an array of health problems.
I am sorry that you felt that it was better to give yourself insulin injections inside filthy public bathroom stalls because you feared that someone might see you, think you are a drug addict, and call the police because you know that an encounter with the police could become brutal.
I am sorry that you were told you shouldn’t have children because your babies would come out with defects and you needed to be on birth control, rather than being told how to properly manage diabetes to ensure you will have a healthy baby.
I am sorry you were told this while living in North Carolina, a state known for forcefully sterilizing black women, (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=205548336) and you once again left that appointment, sat in your parked car, and cried those tears of hopelessness because the experience of being black meant your experience with health care was different. Emotionally damaging. Depressing.
I am sorry that when you told a physician that your parents and grandparents did not have Type 2 diabetes that she replied by saying, “Someone in your family is lying,” because she believed that all African Americans had to be living with diabetes or would get it eventually.
I am sorry we don’t use the right language, definitions, and descriptions about the real risk factors and the pain that that causes you.
I am, however, extremely proud that you demonstrate the outstanding resilience of African Americans. I hope that your diabetes advocacy has an impact on the world, so keep going because there is so much work that needs to be done and I am here to support you 100%.
Had I been told this, I would have certainly be able to stand taller and smile brighter quicker. I have taken a few blows, tripped over a few hurdles, been knocked down a few times; but I am still standing and I hope that my openness about my experiences will be a catalyst for change.
May 16 2017
It’s Diabetes Blog Week 2017 and I am excited to participate. It’s been a while since I successfully posted everyday of #DBlogWeek, but I am up for the challenge this year.
Today’s Topic: Diabetes and the Unexpected
When I think about the unexpected things that have happened to me since being diagnosed with diabetes, the health care system is at the top of my list.
When you go from rarely seeing a physician to having your calendar full of appointments, your perspective on things change- a lot!
I had no idea that some people were having to decide between insulin and organic groceries, until that was me.
I had no idea that some people were being charged $70 copay fees each time they saw a physician and they needed to see one 2-4 times a month sometimes, until that was me.
I had no idea some people with Type 2 diabetes were only given 50 strips per month which isn’t enough to test twice a day, and were told “If you want more, you go to the pharmacy and pay full price,” until that was me.
I had no idea that full price for 50 strips was $79.99 and that some people had to decide between those test strips and gas in the car for the week, until that was me.
I had no idea that some people had to reconsider which service they went to on Sunday mornings so that they could go to church and the gym in one shot to save on gas (so they could pay for medical expenses), until that was me.
I had no idea that some people didn’t change lancets or reduced the amount of insulin or pills or reused needles or skipped dosages to save money, until that was me.
I had no idea that some people in other countries don’t pay a dime for the same diabetes medications that others in America are going bankrupt over, until that was me.
I had no idea that some people who barely made ends meet each month went from a little balance to a negative balance at the end of the month due to medical expenses, until that was me.
I had no idea that some people with chronic illnesses will always need to have a line in their budget for medical expenses each month, until that was me.
I had no idea that some people get tired of dealing with the health care system, nurses, physicians, insurance companies and whomever else because it is just exhaustive, until that was me.
I had no idea that some people who deal with microaggressions, racism, and discrimination have to deal with the same thing even while being ill, vulnerable, or just trying to get medication to stay alive, until that was me.
I had no clue that some people feel like some people shouldn’t have access to health insurance and deny those in need of coverage, until that was me.
Until that was me.
Unexpected things have happened to me since being diagnosed with diabetes.
Apr 26 2017
I’m excited to participate in #IWishThatPeopleKnewDiabetes Day on April 26, 2017
I thought it would be fun to do it in a series of GIFs.
1. #IWishThatPeopleKnewDiabetes is the reason why I couldn’t go full term with my daughter. Not that something was wrong, I was induced at 38 weeks 6 days, just because I have diabetes
2. #IWishThatPeopleKnewDiabetes management is a full time job. Trying to manage it on top of everything else means that my brain rarely gets to rest. I am working from Can’t to Can’t and every hour in between.
3. #IWishThatPeopleKnewDiabetes came into my life and stole my savings like…
4. #IWishThatPeopleKnewDiabetes means experiencing (but trying to avoid) high AND low blood sugar. When my sugar is low and I’m having juice or cake or cookies or whatever sweetness I need and someone asks, “Should you have that?” I feel like this…
5. #IWIshThatPeopleKnewDiabetes management requires being immersed in numbers. Carb Counting at every meal. Getting your A1C results every three months. Checking your blood glucose 2-6 times per day.
6. #IWIshThatPeopleKnewDiabetes can have me feeling like this in the morning when my fasting blood sugar is within range.
7. #IWIshThatPeopleKnewDiabetes can have you feeling like this after lunch because you miscalculated your carbs, forgot to take your meds, and/or ate the cookie/doughnut that your coworker brought into the office.
8. #IWIshThatPeopleKnewDiabetes doesn’t have a cure. And when you tell me about that mysterious fruit in the Amazon rain forest or that exotic juice that’s been discovered, this will be the look on my face until you can get it to me so that I can try it AND my pancreas goes back normal.
9. #IWIshThatPeopleKnewDiabetes isn’t caused by eating “too many sweets.” It’s a disease where one of your vital organs (the pancreas) doesn’t produce enough insulin to counter the carbs you eat. So when you eat too much over the holidays and you joke about “Eating so much sweet potato pie that you gonna get diabetes,” your joke is NOT FUNNY.
10. #IWIshThatPeopleKnewDiabetes nearly killed me. More than once. More than twice. More than a few times. And because of diabetes, I am extra thankful for another day of life.
… and if you ever get to hear my testimony, then you will understand why my praise looks more like this…
11. #IWIshThatPeopleKnewDiabetes changes you. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. It drives you crazy. It’s the reason you can’t do some things. It’s the reason why you must do other things. Diabetes is 24/7. And because diabetes never sleeps, it’s the reason why, even on a bad day, I go to bed knowing that I am Diagnosed but NOT DEFEATED!!
Mar 31 2017
Disclaimer: I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.
A few weeks ago, I received a box in the mail.
I was excited to try the PillDrill for a couple of reasons, 1-I love gadgets and now that I am living with diabetes, I have a special interest in gadgets that are designed to help me manage diabetes better. Secondly, I had gotten into a cycle of skipping my nightly meds at least once per week. I had been exhausted and often found myself asleep by 8pm which caused me to skip my nightly meds or take them much later than planned. In short, I felt that I would be in a good space to see if the Pilldrill really did what it said it would do–help me take my medications on time and consistently.
The device is appealing. The colors and the style are well thought out. I continued to open the box and discovered an array of other items.
It seemed complicated at first because I had to read the manual to understand exactly how everything goes. (I hate reading instruction manuals. This usually comes to bite me in the butt because when I “figure things out” on my own, I usually hit a road block and have to come back to the instructional guide.
The first two things that caught my attention were the pill box and the mood cube. Since I take meds in the morning and in the evening, I appreciated having a pill box that had one row slated for each of those times. (I learned from the guide that if you have take afternoon meds, you can purchase another row so that you can have 3 rows). I didn’t immediately put my morning meds in the pill box and that turned out to be a great idea because in the morning I am usually taking my pills in the car before or after dropping my daughter off at daycare, at my desk at work , in the gym parking lot, or a host of other locations besides home. Had I put my pills in that pill box, I would have missed my meds because they wouldn’t have been in my possession. It’s best that I travel with them in my purse so that I always have then handy.
I was also eager to try the mood cube.
If I could offer any suggestions it would be to add a second cube so that in addition to Excellent, Great, Good, Okay, Bad, and Awful; there would be moods like: I am tired of pricking my fingers, Diabetes got the best of me, I am winning, Unstoppable, Exhausted, and Just getting by. These are more accurate descriptors of my moods throughout the week.
Perhaps, what is most appealing about the Pilldrill for people who love apps, like me, is it’s app companion.I downloaded the app and discovered that I could control the device via the app and I could allow a friend or relative know when I take my meds. I tested this feature out on one of my sorority sisters and the most amazing thing happened. I got a cold and when it came time to check in my mood, I clicked “awful” because that’s how I was feeling. Well, not only did she call to check on me, but had alerted other sorority members that I was home ill.
Finally, I had the wonderful pleasure of seeing my endocrinologist and my A1C improved. When she asked what changes have I made, I shared information about the PillDrill with her. I started off skeptical, but the Pilldrill actually helped me take my medications on time.
The alarm on the device reminds you that it’s time to take your meds. The alarm featured helped to wake me up and to take my meds.
The app is awesome when you are away from home. It sends you push notifications to remind you to take your meds. I loved having the app during my travels because with time changing, it was good to know when I should take my meds and remain on schedule.
If you would like to purchase the PillDrill or learn more information about it, visit their website www.pilldrill.com
In the short time that I have had the PillDrill, I experienced better A1C, increased consistency with taking medications, and a better bond with friends who care about me. For these reasons, I highly recommend the PillDrill.
Feb 15 2017
On February 15th I celebrated six years of living.
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, the ink was was drying on the last page of my personal book of life. I was going into a coma.
By the time I got to the ER, my vision was blurred, speech slurred, and I wasn’t able to walk. My body was shutting down. Then to lose my home in a tornado only 61 days later, my goodness. I can imagine that that’s what it feels like to be struck by lightening twice in two months. What luck? What odds? It’s any wonder that I am sane today.
But I am.
And because I am, it’s important for me to take this moment to reflect on what an awesome “rebirth” experience this has been for me.
Here’s a quick video reflection.
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