Tuesday, October 31, 2017

5 Ways to Self-Care at Work

1. Plant.

Stuck under the buzz of fluorescent lights for 8 hours a day? Fear not. Having greenery around your office/cubicle is a nice way to counter being stuck inside. Try something low-maintenance (think succulents, cacti) especially if you're not a plant expert. They thrive with minimum water and light - even indoor light. As time goes by and with a little research, you'll get more familiar with how to care for your plants. I keep a little spray bottle tucked away in my drawer, and give them a quick spritz each day in the office, focusing on the soil. For flowers, I snip the stems and switch out the vase water. Interacting with a living thing at work that can't argue with you is a nice distraction to have. Try starting or ending the work day by tending to your plant friends - this way you have a consistent, pleasant start and/or end to your day.

2. Go outside.

Or look outside. Whatever you can manage, even if it's walking outside from one building to another instead of taking the indoor route. It's easy to get sucked into the flow at work and completely forget what time/day/year it is - especially if you work in a windowless environment. The benefits fresh air and natural light have on your body are numerous.

3. Take your whole lunch break.

If you're a fast eater like me, that half hour lunch break has a tendency of turning into a 15 minute lunch break. But this is your time. Take it! If you finish eating before break ends, stay put. Whether you're in the break room, your car, your office, or the coffee shop, don't return to work until that allotted break time is up. Fill up that time with anything you want - deep breathing, dawdling on your phone, catching up with a friend - anything that helps you recharge before returning to the madness.

4. Single-task.

Multi-tasking is great when you're in a pinch, but a key part of mindfulness and stress reduction is focusing on what you're doing right this minute. Stay in the now. The more tasks you try to do at once, the less space your brain has to devote to doing each task effectively.

5. Leave on time.

When did leaving on time start being viewed as leaving early? It's hard to say, but the pressure to stay late even if you arrived on time has definitely become more prominent in the workforce. Clocking out at 5:30 on the dot is now a task that's often met with thinly veiled shade. While being dedicated and staying late occasionally to finish an important job is admirable, it's important to weigh when it's necessary to stay late, and when it's not.

Remember - even if you love your job, work is a part of your life - not the whole thing!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What is Diabetes, Really?

Diabetes is...

An out of place juicebox on the corner of the yoga mat
disrupting the zen.
A parent's cold sweat in the middle of the night
when the phone rings.
Fingers absently tracing over tubing
checking for kinks.
And finger tips, callusing over - while inflamed tissue grows
on the belly.
Bruising and leaving purple polka dots.
It's an intrusion - 
on sleep;
on the mind;
on the body.
It's sagging eyelids and a churning tummy
forced awake in the middle of the night.
A ravenous hunger and, an hour later,
a deep-seated nausea.
A constant tug of war between
peace of mind -
and staying alive.
It is a victory cry - at the end of a hike, a recital, a first sleepover, a first date.
The hurdle that makes the crossing of the finish line
It is the longest significant other ever to be entangled with.
It is mine.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Drinking With Diabetes: Answers to the Questions No One Wants to Ask

Ah, alcohol.  One of the most hotly debated illicit substances in American history.  Growing up in a society where the drinking age is regulated legally but not enforced socially puts individuals, namely adolescents/teens, in a tough spot.  Many young people feel uncomfortable or guilty discussing underage drinking openly with their parents.  This is dependent of course on the parent-child relationship, and how the person was raised.  Maybe your parent/parents are accepting of drinking as long as you do it responsibly.  Maybe they hammered it into your head that it was not to be touched until age 21. Whether you fall into either of these two categories, or even if you are overseas where underage drinking (and drinking in general) is less taboo, one thing is for certain: if you are living with type 1 diabetes, you must tread carefully when it comes to alcohol.

While it's not impossible, drinking with diabetes is infinitely complicated.  It requires careful experimentation and constant monitoring.  Every body is different, therefore there is no cookie-cutter method for safe drinking.  However, some truths are applicable to most drinks and all PWD.

Bottoming out is very common.

Whether it's the next morning or an hour after your first drink, bottoming out typically happens after  a night of drinking.  For me, a night of wine leads to all-night high blood sugars, then a drop after breakfast the next morning.  A night of vodka-cranberry leads to an evening of very high blood sugars, then a drop just before bed or in the middle of the night.  This can obviously be a risky situation, especially if you do not feel your lows at night.  Generally I try to air on the side of caution; keeping my levels higher and giving half-corrections.  Cautious experimentation should be had to figure out how certain drinks affect you.  In moderation, I've found beer to be the most steady course.  Typically if I give little bits of insulin for each beer, my blood sugars stay in the 200s and don't bottom out--unless I over-bolus, whether for the beer itself or for food consumed during drinking.

Snack often.

No one should drink on an empty stomach, but the risk of bottoming out runs extra high with type 1 diabetes.  When I was an infant, the diabetes educator who came to my house told my parents (because yes, they did ask about drinking even back then, as I've found many parents do) that he would snack on peanuts while drinking.  Of course, you don't want to make yourself sick by overeating.  Shy away from extra sweet sweets--not only will they make your hangover worse, they'll spike your blood sugar and make the regulatory process even more complicated.  But snacking on a bag of chips or even grabbing a late night slice of pizza can be good for soaking up some of that alcohol and keeping your sugar level overnight.

Test often.

There's no piece of advice that I could give that is more simple or more important.  Test often.  Test every hour. At the very, very least, test before you go to bed.  The bottom line is, your judgement is impaired.  You cannot feel your highs or lows as well.  So test.  It's better to know where you're at than to be floating in BG-alcohol outer space; a complete mystery to yourself and others.  Especially test if you're vomiting.  Medical professionals typically suggest that if you're vomiting from drinking and have type 1 diabetes, you should immediately go to the ER.  This is a loaded judgement call.  But it's always better to be safe than sorry.  So again, at the very least, TEST.

Keep your eyes open.

This is another piece of advice I would give to all who are drinking, especially when you are in a new place or with unfamiliar people.  It's a good idea to have at least one buddy with you who knows that you are diabetic, and what diabetic means, if you plan on getting hammered.  However, no matter what excellent support system you surround yourself with, no one knows your body as well as you.  Therefore it's in your (and your diabetes') best in interest to keep your eyes open.  We all know how scary it is to not be in control of our bodies.  Blacking out or passing out from drinking wipes out your ability to consciously respond to your blood sugar.  Being outside of the locus of control both physically and cognitively is a dangerous place to be.

Above all, the general rules for drinking with diabetes are very similar to the rules for drinking without it:  be smart, be safe, and experiment cautiously.  If you're a parent, foster communication between yourself and your child.  Let them know it is okay to ask questions about drinking.  Zero communication means they may be more defiant, or go in completely blind.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why CrossFit Needs to Stop What They're Doing and Educate Themselves

By now I'm sure many of you have read about CrossFit's recent tweet regarding Coca-Cola and diabetes, whether you saw it on Twitter or read about Nick Jonas' response in the Hollywood blogs. If you haven't been so blessed as to see this perfect example of illness-shaming and ignorance, fear not, I have attached a picture.

The tweet reads, "Make sure you pour some out for your dead homies," and is attached to a picture of Coke with the slogan "open diabetes." Now, there are many things wrong with this tweet, as I'm sure most of you with common sense know. However, CrossFit seems to need it spelled out for them, judging by their further ignorant replies to the T1D community's outrage (see below). So I have taken the time out of my busy day to help these folks out.

1. "Pour some out for your dead homies." Over here in America, we are making great strides. Marriage equality has finally been legalized. Feminism is speaking out against slut-shaming. We attempt to continue the fight for human rights as the years go by. So why are we still thinking it's acceptable to illness-shame people? CrossFit, I'm sorry you think that we are "sensitive," but I would call seeing this tweet after losing a mom, dad, friend, or whomever and being devastated & insulted "being human." We do not insult the dead who succumbed to lung cancer after smoking. We do not insult those who were victims of sexual assault and say "they had it coming--" so WHY are we still making these comments regarding diabetes?

2. "Anyone can get T2 diabetes, even those with T1." Let me get this straight. Are you saying that those who have type 1, a disease in which your pancreas irreversibly stops producing insulin altogether, can develop type 2, a disease in which your pancreas slows down insulin production and can in most cases be reversed with diet and exercise? Maybe I didn't pay attention in science class or at my 934 doctors appointments since I was 13 months old, but that doesn't make much sense to me.

CrossFit, it's time to recognize that you have made a grave mistake in your marketing strategy. It's time to stop making illegitimate excuses and apologize. Or, if nothing else, it's time to EDUCATE YOURSELVES.

Friday, May 29, 2015

When Diabetics Unite

I recently had the pleasure of working with Joe Griffiths, content writer for Voucher Codes Pro who put together a spectacular compendium for diabetics and diabetic support. You can find my snippet along with others & links for great resources, blogs, and help sites here! If you click around you'll also find other useful info that Joe's put together such as hypo/hyper info, diabetes misconceptions, and the works.

What's so great about projects like these is that they tie together people with diabetes from all around the globe. The diabetic online community (DOC) has brought together so many people that if you ever feel alone, someone half a world away can be there in an instant for support. Just knowing that so many people with diabetes are out there besides you is reassuring enough. But the DOC goes beyond that. It provides tips, how-to's and life hacks--and an endless amount of them.

So start clicking, start sharing, and start supporting---spread the D-Love! :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Our Trip to Agloe

In the midst of final papers, final process recordings, and of course, diabetes management, my friends and I decided to take a long overdue trip to the (paper) town of Agloe, NY. For those of you who aren't die hard John Green fans, Agloe is central to the plot of his novel Paper Towns, which has been turned into a movie that's debuting July 24th. If you haven't yet read it, I would highly recommend it. Although it is classified as a young adult novel which typically is associated with a younger crowd, in true John Green fashion you easily find yourself emotionally attached to each character and completely enmeshed in the plot that unfolds. It is an excellent book if you are looking for an adventure.

So, what exactly is a "paper town"?
"Fictitious entries on maps may be called phantom settlements, trap streets, paper towns, cartographer's follies, or other names. They are intended to serve as traps for identifying copyright infringements."
That's right folks. A paper town is a town that, in fact, does not exist. Agloe, however, eventually was deemed a real town and even had a general store erected. It is essentially an intersection in the Catskills off Route 17, in New York State.  Which happens to be not so far from me.  So off my friends and I went, in search of the run-down Agloe General Store and the intersection we had so long wondered about.

Spoiler Alert: the general store is no longer there.

After about an hour and a half of driving through New York State--which is beautiful, by the way--and about a half hour of wrong turns, dirty looks, no service, and possible trespassing, we came across this tiny sign:

"Come back soon." What did this mean?! Where was the general store?! There was quite a bit of shouting and confusion and harassing of strangers who happily told us that the general store was no longer there, it has been torn down. Oh well. At least we got to take pictures at the tiny scenic intersection that is Agloe, NY.

We also discovered a large, home-styled building that had "Hodges" printed across the side in huge letters adjacent to a giant silhouette sign that looked like Peter Pan, a worn down shed that stood as a gravel supply, a river, a frightening castle crumbling down in the woods, and a mysterious house at the bottom of a valley that we could barely see through the thick shield of trees.

After taking extremely touristy pictures, we went into the main street of Roscoe to empty our bladders and get a soda. We also found a tiny shop where they sold fudge (which I OF COURSE did not buy...) and little trinkets. It was a true adventure.

After which I returned home to cry into my syllabi while I finished my final projects, still smelling like the great outdoors and mountains of New York.
Ta da! Agloe, NY (we hope)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Autoimmune Diseases: Definition of RUDE

"Love yourself." It's what we're taught in school, what we're taught at home, what we're told (hopefully) by our parents. But how are you supposed to love yourself when your own body is attacking you? It turns the millions of people suffering from autoimmune disorders into moving, breathing paradoxes. We try every day to love ourselves the way we are; meanwhile on the inside our bodies have wreaked havoc on our healthy, helpful cells that were just trying to do their job. How rude.

Let's start with diabetes. There I was, a little chunky happy baby with parents who cared for me and a big brother to look after me. And then my insulin-producing beta cells started to get picked on by my other cells. My other cells, who are supposed to be keeping me happy and healthy, were killing my happy healthy beta cells until none were left to make any insulin. If you ask me, these cells sound like big fat bullies.

As if these cells hadn't had enough, more of them kept bullying my healthy cells--this time in my thyroid. Until, you guessed it, my poor thyroid cells couldn't produce enough hormones either. I am not even two years old yet and my body has already decided that for some reason it does not like itself.

But, what can we do? As much as our cells might be hating on us and our bodily systems inflecting little insults here and there (an overactive HPA axis, an underactive production of growth hormone) we can still dwell on who we are as people. We can try to "love ourselves." Even though our innards are rude and self-deprecating.

**Disclaimer: If you could not tell from this post, I am not a medical doctor and my allusions and references should not be taken as scientific evidence**