" It's not so much the disease, as it is the mindset. "


This blog may make you see RED! It may piss you off! It may offend many! I may attract haters! But if that's what it takes for you to see my love for humanity, and for the health of my fellow human beings, curse me all day long...

Welcome to...The Non-biased, No BS, Straightforward Blog that's about one thing: Educating the masses about Type 2 Diabetes, and in return, helping them live longer.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Changes For The New Year? How About Changing Your Life?

THIS YEAR, I vow to change my life for the better. THIS YEAR, even though I was laid off from my job in healthcare, I will not let that get me down. THIS YEAR, I will do all I can to get enrolled into Nursing School. THIS YEAR, I will vow to eat healthier, so that Diabetes doesn't shorten my life. How does all that sound for a New Years Resolution? That is my goal. I wanted to write a new blog today, on January 1st, 2011, because I haven't written in quite a while, and because I'd like to share some helpful hints and tips that I've been doing with my fellow Diabetics and friends. I've read a lot, seen a lot, and during my patient care years, learned a lot from both them and from physicians and nurses. I would like to share some little "tweaks" that won't change what you put into your gut too much at one time. It's these little baby steps that eventually turn into giant steps. So here are some new things I've been doing lately.

I am not a lover of sweets like some. I don't have to have the cookies, the candy bars, or the chocolate goo. I don't need the fudge, or the brittle, or the cupcakes. I'm more of a chip person. I could sit down with a good bag of chips and a soda anyday. BUT.... that is not healthy. Not for Diabetics. Sure you have cut out the sweets, but you forgot just how much sugar is in those salty chips! And God forbid it's a regular soda! Sugar is in stuff these days that SHOULDN'T EVEN HAVE SUGAR!!! You shouldn't have sugar in tortilla chips, but you do! Sugar is even in popcorn, to an extent! My latest snacks are consisting of nuts (with a love for sunflower seeds in the shell. It's fun to crack and spit), and popcorn. Sunflower seeds are healthy and have a good amount of protein, as well as low in saturated fats and carbohydrates. I pulled a shocking quiz on my Chef fiance Meritha, who btw got it right! I asked " Which has more saturated fat? 16 regular Pringles chips, or 5 cups of extra butter Pop Weaver Gourmet popcorn?" The answer is the Pringles have more fat, the bad stuff that clogs your arteries. Diabetics need to protect their blood vessels, especially those tiny capillaries in the feet. So my two major snacks are now Pop Weaver Extra Butter Popcorn, which can be found at Walmart in a box of 24 for $5, and also David Sunflower Seeds in the shell. They taste very salty, but a 1/4 cup (which is a good amount), has only 135mg of sodium, surprisingly. I get the ones in the shell because the extra work to get to each divine kernel seems to tell your brain " Wow! I've eaten a lot of these!" Besides, its better to crack, eat and spit sunflower shells into a cup, than chew and spit tobacco! ;) 

The next thing I'd like to announce to everyone is that while browsing around in Walmart one day, I noticed that Splenda, which was only available by brand name, has NOW gone generic! I had this huge smile on my face when I saw the generic Splenda under Walmart's Great Value brand. And what a difference in the price! A box of 200 packets, which are great for carrying in your pocket or purse to restaurants, etc, were only about $3 or so. They even sell the big bags for baking sugar free sweets for a LOT less than the brand name. Splenda to me tastes much, much better, and more like sugar than Nutrasweet and Sweet & Low. Both of the later have a stranger aftertaste to me. Anyone who has ever tried Splenda can probably agree. It tastes the most like sugar of any of the artificial sweeteners. Too bad more soft drinks have it. In fact the only soft drink with Splenda seems to be Coke with Splenda, which is hard to find.  I can take my finger and lick it, and dip it into a splenda packet, and to me, it tastes VERY much like sugar. You would be surprised. Another new thing I'm adding to unsweet tea is Organic Blue Agave. It is a natural sweetner derived from the heart of the Agave plant. Agave is a LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX sweetener, which means it's more slowly absorbed by the body, preventing spikes in blood sugar. It's great for Diabetics. It is said to be 25 times sweeter than sugar, so you use LESS. Now here's the beautiful part. Each TABLESPOON contains only 16 grams of carbs/sugars. An average soda contains about 40 grams. Yeah! Get some and try it. It's certified organic as well. Here's a link for the Agave for all of my friends, family and supporters. 

I order from Puritans Pride a lot, and they are a very reputable company and great for ordering those diabetic supplements as well. They have ridiculous sales prices. Another place I love to shop for supplements is Vitacost.com.  So anyway...I hope everyone here has a great New Year, and hopefully a healthier one. Remember to increase your intake of water! Water can replace a LOT of drinks, and there's no liquid on the planet that your body loves better. Love your body, and it will love you. Look for more of my posts coming soon!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beating Diabetes The Natural Way

Occasionally I like to give my readers some insight which many people do not know. Living with Diabetes all these years, and working in the medical field, I have had the chance to hear and try new things which have added some wonderful results in my fight against this deadly disease. Anything that I can do to help myself live longer, and help my body metabolize sugar like it should, I gladly accept. A couple days ago, I went to my endocrinologist. We went over results of my labs. My HBA1c was 5.7. This level is at a level that would be considered almost NON-DIABETIC!! I was never so happy! I contribute MUCH of my success in my diabetic numbers to the following. I believe God put herbs here on this earth for a reason. I believe that we need to not so much focus on what can be created in a lab by people in white coats, and moreso on things in nature. So here is the list that I have used and have been very successful with:

Experimental studies show that alpha-lipoic acid may exhibit a renal protective effect in individuals with diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid increases glucose uptake in the cells and appears to reduce symptoms of diabetic complications including cataract formation, vascular damage, and polyneuropathy (nerve damage). A study published in Diabetic Medicine in 1999 showed that patients treated with 600 mg of ALA 3 times daily for 3 weeks had improvement of diabetic symptoms from polyneuropathy. In another study using 600 to 1,800 mg of ALA daily, individuals treated showed improved insulin sensitivity. Most studies supporting the use of alpha-lipoic acid to reduce symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy employed intravenous alpha-lipoic.
Lipoic acid plays a key role in a variety vital energy-producing reactions in the body that turn glucose (blood sugar) into energy.

Studies suggest that diets high in fiber can help to lower insulin and blood sugar levels, improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and help prevent type II diabetes. Soluble fiber bonds with water in the digestive system, whereby lowering the rate of absorption of starches and sugars in the stomach and intestinal tract. The result of this effect is significantly reduced cholesterol levels over time, which may help prevent hear disease, stroke, and a myriad of other internal problems. Eating foods or taking supplements that provide soluble fiber may also help improve glucose tolerance for people suffering from diabetes.

Carnitine will give an energy boost, which in addition to converting body fat to fuel will elevate certain enzymes needed to metabolize sugars, starches, and other carbohydrates. Carnitine has many benefits for the heart as well but primarily it is excellent for helping the body metabolize and use sugar.

GTF (glucose tolerance factor) chromium: This trace element plays a role in blood sugar regulation by working with insulin to help transport glucose into cells. Take 1,000 mcg daily.

Several mechanisms by which cinnamon might lower glucose have been proposed. Cinnamon may have an insulin-like effect, causing glucose to be stored in the form of glycogen. In one study of rats, cinnamon reportedly caused an increase in a compound IRS-1, which is responsible for increasing glucose uptake in muscle tissue. Cinnamon has also been reported to cause an increase in the transporter mechanisms (GLUT-4) that take glucose out of the blood stream and into tissue. Cinnamon has also been cited as having a number of other properties that might contribute to any hypoglycemic effect that it might have.

B COMPLEX Vitamins
If there were one disease that could be treated by the B complex Vitamins, it would be Diabetes.
Almost all B complex vitamins contribute in alleviating its nasty effects in the body. Niacin, folic acid, thiamin, and Vitamin B6 play a role in converting starches and sugar to energy.
Deficiency of the B vitamins would only cause increased sugar content in the body. A complete B vitamin supplement should help your body in managing the disease.

And there we have it! These supplements seem to really be kicking a dent in my diabetes. I have definitely seen better numbers in my lab results, as well as a great decrease in my peripheral diabetic neuropathy in my feet. For a while there I was experiencing numbness and tingling in my feet and toes. After bumping up the above supplements a notch, particularly the folic acid (usually found in B Complex Vitamins), I noticed significant changes! We need not forget to increase our exercise and watch what we eat, but these supplements add to your arsenal. ;) Good luck and let me know if you also notice a big difference! Bear in mind it takes a good month or two to start noticing results from taking supplements.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If You Won't Change, Then It's Your OWN Damn Fault!

It's tough working in healthcare sometimes. I see a LOT! An incredible lot. I see things that make me smile, and I see things that are really disturbing. It all adds up to the big picture I see in healthcare everyday. I see scores and scores of people added to the list of Type-2 Diabetics every day. A few more people falling victim to a disease that is claiming the lives of so many. I FIRMLY believe that it is in the way me and you LIVE that is increasing the incidence of this disease. I have seen people lose toes, lose feet, lose legs, even fingers, to amputations. I've seen people have to go on dialysis (a machine that performs the job of damaged kidneys), and I've seen people die from the complications that could have all been prevented. I think that's the part that bothers me most. You have to remember that each disease that you see such as Diabetes Mellitis could PROBABLY have been prevented. Sure, there are things that are hereditary that we cannot change, but in everything else just about, we can change! We can change the way we eat, what we eat, when, and how much we eat. We can change from sedentary lifestyle, to a more active one with exercise, and bodybuilding. We can STOP drinking. We can STOP smoking. It's all in our will. We all have to be strong and have some backbone. Our get up and do, cannot have gotten up and went!

I would like for you to change. I would like for you to live longer. I believe that our grandparents lived to ripe old ages of 85 and 95, and the fact that more people are dying before age 75 now, for a reason. Grandma barely wanted to take a Tylenol for a migraine. Grandpa couldn't be drug to a doctor by ten horses! Grandma gave birth without so much as a shot of anesthesia! And here WE are...in OUR day and age, with SHOPPING BAGS full of meds for everything from high blood pressure to high cholesterol, to antidipressants, to blood thinners, to diabetes medications, and the shopping bags are getting bigger folks!!! Every day at work, I see a patient with a two and three page list of medications! About 10 meds per page. Some meds are "as needed". Some are taken once, twice, three times a day! When I was a paramedic, I remember a house I went to where a lady in her 50's said " Hang on! Let me get my meds!", and I kid you NOT, she brought out a shopping bag! The shopping bag was 75% of the way full!!! There MUST have been at LEAST 25 meds in her bag! I said "Ma'am you take ALL of this???", in total disbelief, and she said " Yes. " I was beside myself. No wonder Americans aren't living longer. No wonder new diseases are running rampant. No wonder the incidences of Diabetics are increasing. I believe that there is no possible way in which someone can take medications, without somewhere down the line, it's doing harm to our bodies. There is no way it could not! Look at the tv commercials. Open your eyes up! Every med you see has a string of at least 10 possible side effects. Listen carefully to the end of the commercials. Now... multiply that by 25 meds. See what I mean? They also try to hide the side effects by speaking different ways to trick your brain into thinking less of some, and more of others. For example, in a recent commercial I heard " Side effects may include blurred vision, dizzyness, dry mouth, vomiting, and diarhea. See your doctor if you notice headace, bloody sputum, blood in your urine, chest pain, or cough that doesn't go away in two days." NOW...are we on the same page? Are you seeing what I'm seeing?

I'm not asking you to stop taking the meds that you need. I'm saying change your lifestyle so you WON'T NEED as many. If you have high blood pressure, reduce your sodium intake, your stress, and get more of a cardiac workout, a good brisk walk, for starters, would do. If you have high cholesterol, DUH! Don't eat things that are high in cholesterol or high in fat! If you are diabetic, DUH!! Watch what you put into your gut! If you are overweight, that should be clue 1. If you have lack of energy, that should be clue 2. If you feel stuffed, that might be clue 3. If you eat at a buffet more than twice a week, that should be clue 4. DO you see my point? We all know what we are supposed to be eating and not supposed to be eating. We are not dumb. If you are reading this, you are not illiterate. If you understand what I'm telling you here, then you have the God given sense to do online research, or ask your doctor what things you could do to reduce the number of meds you have to take. The more you complain, the more he'll give you meds just to shut you up. His job is to treat you, not to live your life for you. He encounters more than just a handful of people who, if they don't get the meds they want, they choose another doctor, so what incentive would he have to DENY you the meds you ask for. Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself if there's anything you can change to help your condition. I bet you find several things.

" God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things that I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference." - Serenity Prayer

Friday, July 16, 2010

WHY the hell should you even listen to me?

Why should you listen to me? I'll tell you why! The year was 2001. I was sitting on the sofa a year after I had gotten married. My ex was sitting beside me. Her dad sat in a recliner in his favorite corner, and her mom was sitting in a chair in front of her computer, where she ran a book selling business I helped get off the ground. We were all watching a good movie. I don't remember what the movie was, and that's irrelevant. What's more important here is the added chapter I was about to add to the story of MY LIFE. 

Suddenly I started having blurry vision. I looked up at a clock on the wall which may have been about 10 feet in front of me, and I couldn't see the numbers clearly. Everything was blurry, even my wife's face. I was worried. Could I be going blind? Was there something in my eyes? Everyone was alarmed and soon I found myself in the ER at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Ga, the same place I work today, and have been for almost 15 years now. Tests were ran. Lab and Radiology Transporters made it a point to be a nuisance at my bedside. Finally, someone decided to check my blood sugar. I waited for the lab results to come back. The doctor came in, and sat down. "Steve...what the hells going on bud? You're blood sugar is 750!!" My heart dropped. My eyes watered. I could have almost cried. I was scared. I didn't want to lose my eyesight, and never see the light of day again. I was moved to the 8th floor and continued on an insulin drip to bring my outrageously high blood glucose level down. It took hours...and hours....with hourly fingersticks which drove me to curse! I was hating THEM for what they were doing to me, when I was the problem all along. Had I not ate everything under the God-blessed sun, and all the WRONG foods, I might still have been enjoying a movie. Instead I spent about three more days in the hospital getting my blood sugar right. 

This was the first time I KNEW that I had Type 2 Diabetes! 30 Years old! No family history! No one! Just me! Aren't I the lucky one! That was in 2001, who knows how long I had it before then, and now it's 2010. I have learned through maintaining my blood sugars, and taking my medications over the years, that Diabetes is not so much about the disease process itself, but about the Mindset! You can lay all day in bed feeling sorry for yourself, or you can put down the potato chips and get your fat butt up off the couch, and DO something about it! Now I'm not saying ALL Diabetics are overweight, but think about how many skinny people you see running around drinking diet colas! Your TRULY HEALTHY skinny people. Aspartame and Diet products will be another interesting blog posted here soon, but for now, lets continue the focus. I saved my eyesight by watching what I eat, and exercising, and taking my medications as directed. When the Diabetes educator came to my room, and was educating me, I remember my wife walking out of the room in tears at a statement the educator made. She walked over to the window and said " Steve...look out there. Beautiful view from 8th floor isn't it? (I could see gorgeous tree tops and beautiful sunset.) Well let me level with you here. If you don't live right, eat right, and take care of yourself, (she got up and walked over and started pulling the shade down), then you will be like many patients who say to me " It was just like someone pulled a shade down, and that was the last thing I ever saw".  My wife got up and walked out telling us both she couldn't handle it. I sat there in my hospital bed in tears. The educator sat down beside me and put her hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes, and said " Steve. You were lucky. That didn't happen to you! But what I'm trying to get you to see is that if you don't change, Today, RIGHT NOW, then in 20 years or LESS, that's going to be YOUR picture I'm painting for new Diabetic patients. " 

I created this blog to help others who are also suffering. Sometimes all we need is for someone to open up our eyes, just as that Diabetic educator did for me. To all the ones who've lost family to this deadly disease. In memory of all those who became a statistic. To all you reading this who are battling it now, and feel like sometimes giving up. God would have never put you here if he didn't have a reason, and a purpose. He didn't mean for you to live wrong, clock out early, and come home. I'm trying to get you to see its not so much the disease itself, but about the mentality. The mentality to get up off OUR butts, YOU AND ME, and exercise, eat right, live better, stop the drinking, the smoking, and everything we do that shortens our lives, and helps this disease become the winner. If you have read this far, you are NOT a loser. TOGETHER, YOU AND ME, WE WILL WIN. ;) 

"If you are one of the 24 million children and adults in the United States who live with Diabetes, you’ve got a 60-70% chance of suffering from mild to severe nerve damage, and more than a 65% chance of dying from heart disease or stroke. Living with diabetes also increases the rate of amputation, kidney failure and adult blindness."- courtesy of American Diabetes Association.