NHBPM- Day 29

“Write about unexpected blessings of your health condition”

Guys, guess what?! This is my last post for National Health Blog Post Month and I’m only one month late in finishing!

Oh, well. It’s been a fun two months of posting but I’m kind of ready to be done and start doing some more random ramblings. I’ve been jotting down blog post ideas throughout the month for when I finished NHBPM, so stay tuned for those.

Anyway, onto the prompt.

I’ve written about my views concerning my diagnosis and how I’m actually grateful for it. That’s right, I said it.

But Liz, wouldn’t you rather be normal. Don’t you want a functioning pancreas? Do you like having a dysfunctional thyroid (my answer to this one will ALWAYS be no- good with the bad)? Don’t you wish you could eat a handful of popcorn, Cheerios, crackers and chocolate chips without worrying about your blood sugar? Do you like getting an astronomically high number after eating a breakfast that contained only 15 grams of carbs? Do you really like gaining weight for no apparent reason while simultaneously feeling lethargic?

Ok, I know absolutely none of that sounds like a blessing and if I’m being honest, it isn’t. It downright sucks if I’m putting it bluntly. But getting diagnosed with a chronic disease is a life-changer. With that life-changer came new perspective and new goals.

Life could be much worse. Also, life could be better. I used to spend a lot of time stressing out about the little things. My diagnosis has given me clarity, peace and a little bit of zen. I quickly realized that the things I was stressing about just weren’t that important. Sure I still stress about things, but I don’t let that stress overpower me and that’s the important thing.

I’ve learned to breathe. Yes, I know we, as humans, breathe automatically and without thinking about it but if you’ve never actually sat and focused on your breathing, then stop reading and do it. Simply closing your eyes and mind to everything but your breathing for 10 deep, slow breaths will help you de-stress and feel instantly better about life and whatever it presents.

You only get one body in this life. Mine happens to have a crappy pancreas and thyroid. That woke me up and made realize that I should take better care of my body. “My body is a temple.” I now take exercise and healthy eating seriously. I work out about five days a week in the gym, take daily walks during my lunch break and try to eat as little refined flour and sugar as possible. Of course, I do indulge and eat too many cookies or too much chocolate. Maybe I really didn’t have to go back and seconds (or thirds) of the crap dip. But life is also about enjoyment. You have to remember that.

Speaking of bodies…. I, like most of American women, have days where I absolutely hate my body. I have days where my body is alright, days where I feel a bit better about it and days where it might be ok to let someone see me naked. I’m working on body love. I’m not a size 2 or even a size 4. I don’t weigh that magical 120 and my measurements look more like a tiered cake than an hourglass. But I’m strong. My endurance is pretty good. I can rock the hell out of kickboxing, dance my ass off in Zumba and yell at Jillian Michaels while Shredding. I can keep pace on the treadmill and drip sweat on the elliptical. I can join the big boys in the weight room. I can do all of those things, and I do do all of those things. I might have a jiggly butt or a few rolls when I sit down, but those things don’t define me. They don’t make or break how attractive I am. This type of thinking didn’t happen overnight. It came throughout the past year and combined with all my other ways of thinking, I think I’m doing pretty good.

Diabetes is a life sentence, that’s true. But it’s what you do with that life sentence that determines happiness. I read all about diabetes burnout and people who didn’t check their blood sugar and swag bolused every meal and I’m right there with them. I can understand wanting to feel normal. Wanting to live a life without constantly thinking about diabetes, food, exercise, health, consequences. I was lucky because I accepted my disease right away for what it is and realized that from that point forward, I needed to live a healthier lifestyle. I needed to live a lifestyle that would help me, not hurt me. But acceptance is hard. I’ve found, though, that those people who finally accept their body and their disease for what it is realize that it actually can be a blessing and not a curse.

 

Advertisements

NHBPM- Day 27

“I bet you didn’t know…”

My favorite animal is a polar bear.

My favorite color is pink.

I adore anything fuzzy and/or polka dotted.

I have a severe sweet tooth and I love to snack. If I had to pick between three meals or snacks throughout the day, I would choose the latter.

Right before my diabetes diagnosis I went through two bags of almonds and a jar of peanut butter. In a week and a half. I lost 15 pounds. Then I gained it all back after starting on insulin. Think about the calories!! I wish….

Speaking of peanut butter. I don’t buy it anymore because I will eat it by the spoon.

I’m not a fan of Will Ferrell.

I choose Backstreet Boys over N’Sync but Hanson above anyone else.

2013 contains my lucky number (13) and is also my birth date 2/13. I’m thinking that’s a good sign for the upcoming year!

I feel lucky every day for the life I have. Through weight gain because of my thyroid to grumpy moods because of high blood sugar, I always keep in mind that it could be worse. Tragedies happen every day to all types of people. Struggles, successes, failures and achievement. Love, anger, sadness and happiness. My life is far from perfect, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

NHBPM- Day 24

“If I had unlimited funds”

This is a post for dreamers. Which I am. I frequently like to day dream about various scenarios.

I blame it on all the reading I’ve done since I learned how to read almost 21 years ago (yes, I was reading at the age of three).

I do so much reading that my Secret Santa gifter at work gave me two novels and I LITERALLY squealed with joy. I’m pretty sure no one else I work with would have been as happy to receive books as their gift. I’m a bookworm. I own it.

Anyway, if I had unlimited funds I would be reeeaallllyyyy stress-free. In a previous NHBPM post, I talked about the importance of mental health and de-stressing. I’ll be honest and say that money is a huge stressor for me (and probably most people). I don’t make a ton of money a year, I live alone, I like to eat well (and that means spending a bit more money on quality) and I have the added cost of my medicine.

In case you weren’t aware, insulin is expensive!

So is Synthroid. $30 a month, which might not seem like a lot until you realize you feel like you are constantly in the pharmacy handing over your credit card to pay for medicine.

Luckily I have insurance. Without insurance, I’d have to pay even more for my Synthroid, hundreds more for my insulin and thousands for test strips (which come out to roughly $1 a strip… I test about 5-8 times a day, so that’s $8 a day).

I will ALWAYS have to have a job with insurance coverage. Goodbye freelance dreams.

I will always have to worry about money in a way that a lot of people don’t understand. Sure, I rely on money like everyone else does for my basic needs. But my basic needs extend even further, and that costs a lot.

So, with unlimited funds, I wouldn’t necessarily do anything different. I would still work. I might buy more clothes and live in a fancier place (why not?!) More importantly, I wouldn’t have to stress about my health. I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about paying for all of my medicine. I wouldn’t have to employ my defense mechanism (joking) every time I go into the pharmacy and fork over money in exchange for medicine for two diseases I wish I didn’t have.

“Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like.”

NHBPM- Day 23

Day 23 going on day 1,237 prompt: “Clean out your fridge or closet in written form. What’s in there? How does it reflect your personality?”

I LOVE this prompt!! Probably because I get to talk about what’s in my fridge. If you didn’t know, I’m a huge foodie. I spend hours in Whole Foods (on the rare occasion I go), try to eat clean and rarely eat take-out (I’m always cooking in my kitchen).

I actually have a lot going on in my refrigerator right now despite my goals of clearing it out before heading to Baltimore for my mini Christmas vacation. I went to Trader Joe’s on Saturday and bought only food that I thought I would need for the following five days. Turns out I may have bought too much and will be traveling with some of it to my parents.

Anyway, back to my refrigerator! I will organize by shelf:

Top Shelf:

-One strawberry Greek yogurt from TJ’s

-Applesauce (original, no sugar-added)

-Carton of egg whites

-Cottage cheese (really old and should probably be thrown away)

-Black bean and chickpea hummus (homemade on Sunday night)

-Half an avocado

Middle Shelf (including cheese drawer):

-Goat cheese, provolone cheese and Mexican cheese blend (that should probably get thrown out too)

-Chicken dogs from TJ’s- organic, great source of protein and low-calorie

-Turkey bacon

-Cheap beer from TJ’s (I don’t drink it… I bought it when I had people over, so it’s leftover from that)

-Half a head of cauliflower

-Leftover roasted veggies from an event (that’s a few weeks old and should get thrown out too)

Bottom Shelf:

-Wilted kale (needs to be tossed)

-One carrot

-An orange

-Bags of spinach and salad

-Brussel sprouts

-Almond milk

The door:

-Insulin (in the butter compartment)

-Cooling eye mask (also in the butter compartment)

-Various half opened white wines

-Various condiments that I don’t use, with the exception of the miso

-Chocolate

So, that’s my fridge. I might have more interesting things in my cabinets, but I won’t go there! Let’s just say the newest additions to my cabinet include a new jar of coconut oil, some castor oil and tea tree essential oil along with powdered peanut butter and popcorn.

What does all that say about me? I guess looking at it, it says that I’m pretty health conscious. I don’t eat a lot of take-out so therefore my refrigerator isn’t cluttered with it. I apparently don’t drink beer or finish bottles of wine (it’s what happens when you try to cut back on alcohol and live alone). I also have a lot of healthy foods, which is pretty typical for me. I try to always keep certain staples in there including brussel sprouts (definitely a staple for me), spinach, protein of some sort, and hummus.

Pictures to come!!

NHBPM- Day 22

“Write about what you’re thankful for”

Pretty sure this prompt fell on Thanksgiving… and it’s now less than a week from Christmas. I’m terrible!

Anyway, I’ll keep it simple and do a list.

I’m thankful for:

– My family. Shout-out to my parents! I’ve laughed with and at them. I’ve cried and fought with them. I’ve shared my highest moments and lowest depressions. They mean the world to me and I couldn’t have asked for a better pair even if I had wanted to…which I don’t.

-My brother. Mashed potato Nater. Sometimes it’s hard to have in-depth conversations with a brother who is six years younger than you. We still don’t necessarily sit and have hours upon hours of conversation, but with him, we don’t need to. A few words is all it usually takes for us to know what the other means.

-My friends. Duh, of course! There are a few specific people who I’m especially thankful for. They showed me what true friendship means and that distance doesn’t mean a damn thing.

-Wine. God, I don’t know what I would do without it. I don’t really drink during the week anymore, so I’m all the more thankful when Friday night rolls around.

-My body. Despite a defective pancreas, my body works. I can walk, I’m strong and lately I’ve really been pushing myself to get in the best shape possible. I’m lucky I have the ability to do that, and I think about those everyday who would love to run but can’t.

-Insulin. Nope, it’s not a cure to the big D, but it sure as hell beats the starvation method being used prior to insulin discovery, which if you’ll recall wasn’t that long ago. Less than 100 years. Ponder that.

-Life! It’s truly beautiful when you open your eyes and look around.

NHBPM-Day 21

The prompt for NHBPM, Day 21- “Write about mental health”

Guys, I’m going to come right out and say it. Mental health is huge! It’s so important for a person’s overall well-being. Unfortunately, mental health isn’t emphasized in the United States.

That’s evidenced by the recent tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Would that have happened if Adam Lanza had received help sooner in life? Would that have happened if his mental health had been taken care of from an earlier age?

The tragedy would have been avoided if Lanza had received help. Mentally well people do not do what Lanza did.

When you live life with a health condition, whether it’s Celiacs like my best friend, MVP like my Mom, or Type 1 diabetes like myself, mental health and well-being is just as important in maintaining as is keeping the body healthy.

One of the things I like about holistic approaches  (in conjunction with Western medicine and science) is that they focus on mental health. The state of your mind is extremely important.

My previous roommate, Kelly (she is training to become a shaman) and I had many discussions about holistic medicine, mental health and overall well-being. She really enlightened me about a lot of things that I should have taken as common sense. One of the biggest things she urged me to do when I was first diagnosed with diabetes was to de-stress. Stress makes everything 10 times worse and deteriorates both your mental and physical health.

It’s for that reason that I started doing yoga and meditation. I started working out. I started to de-stress. For anyone that knew me growing up, they’ll tell you that I was a stress ball. I would cry before tests from the sheer stress of taking them. I would stay awake the night before something big and constantly run through all the different (and worst) scenarios of what could happen. I would obsess over little things and things that I had no control over.

I’m happy to say that I’m not like that anymore. Sure, I still stress about things but I’ve learned to manage my stress much better. It doesn’t cripple me anymore or leave me lying away for hours and hours. It doesn’t consume me in the way it used to.

I made a conscious decision to maintain my mental health in the same way I made the conscious decision to maintain my physical health. I’ve learned over the past year that the two are intertwined. If you’re feeding yourself nutrient rich foods and exercising, you’re not only improving your physical health but also your mental health because you feel better about yourself (there’s also proven brain chemistry that happens when you treat your body well).

I think this post may be a bit jumbled, but if you take one thing away from it, it’s that your body is a temple. All parts of it must be fed and maintained. A happy mind is a happy body (I think I made that  up, but you get what I’m trying to say).

 

NHBPM- Day 20

Day 20’s NHBPM post: “Write about alternative treatments/regimens/ medicine. What do you support? What is crazy?”

Considering I’ve just decided to throw away all of my non-organic and non-natural lotions (starting only with my face and body lotions and body washes for now) and will from now on be using all natural products and homemade products, I’m all for alternative treatments, regimens and medicine. I will also be writing a follow up post on this about my new routine… once I finish my NHBPM posts (almost done, I promise!).

Here’s what I’ve done outside of the realm of taking my insulin and Synthroid (because those are a must, as is any type of “Western” medicine when diagnosed with something like diabetes) for Type 1 diabetes and hypothyroidism.

-Cinnamon supplements for blood sugar maintenance (I did this when I was wrongly diagnosed as a Type 2 since it’s said to help. I still occasionally take the supplements)

-Reike sessions. Reike is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. I’ve had a few sessions and they are truly an amazing experience each time.

-Egg cleansing. (yes, you heard correctly) Originating from Mesoamerica, shamans have been using eggs to heal the body for many years.

-Healing stones. Along with my reiki sessions, I’ve done some work with healing stones.

-Yoga. Some might not consider this an alternative treatment, but it does come from the Eastern hemisphere. I do yoga to be fit, like a lot of people, but also do healing yoga practices as part of my medical regimen.

-Vitamins, minerals and supplements. I change these up every few months depending on how I’m feeling but always stick with a multi and fish oil. Currently in my rotation along with those two is Biotin and a B Complex. I did have Green Tea as well, but just ran out. So now I drink it.

I haven’t done things like acupuncture or eating spiders to heal myself, but I wouldn’t turn my head away from those things either if they were thought to help. I would actually like to try acupuncture one day, when I get the funds to do so.

Honestly, nothing is really too crazy to me when it comes to health regimens. Everyone should do what works for them, and if having an egg rubbed over my body while smoke billows around my face makes me feel better, by God I’m going to do it!

One thing I do know is that the Western hemisphere relies heavily on prescribing medicine. You have constant headaches? Here’s a prescription for that. Feel bloated? There’s a pill for that. A lot of times, we have pills shoved into our face to help us when in actuality, we can use more natural remedies to help our ailments, and in return we are helping our bodies.

So, with all that said, I say do what works for you! Sometimes we get cursed with having a chronic disease and it’s up to us to take care of ourselves in any way we see fit. A lot of the things I do for my health regimen also help my mental health, and that’s half the battle.

NHBPM- Day 19

“Write about: Life and Death”

To let everyone (all 10 of you) know what’s going on with my blog, I’m participating in NHBPM at my own pace since it’s already December. I have a draft of all the writing prompts and am trying to work through them when I can. Day 19 asks bloggers to write about life and death. Since this blog carnival is all about health, I know that we should write about life and death as far as our health is concerned, and I will. But first I want to share what I just found out after coming back from a great Friday lunch break with my co-worker where we chatted about silly boys, diets and weekend plans over a glass of wine and healthy entrees (living our life). I found out about death.

Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut had a mass shooting this morning. Right before I went to lunch. While I was planning my lunch, children, 18 as of now, were being shot and killed. I hate to put it so bluntly because my stomach is in knots and I feel nauseous thinking about the terror that school experienced, but that’s what happened. Parents sent their kids off to school in what I can only imagine as high spirits with Christmas looming around the corner. Fridays were always my favorite day of the week while in school (still are as a working adult) and I’m sure laughter was in abundance at Sandy Hook.

I don’t know all the details. They haven’t been released to the public because they are still being gathered. As of now 27 are dead, 18 of those 27 are children. 18 children won’t experience Christmas this year. 18 children’s stockings will go un-stuffed and 18 children’s families will spend their holidays in mourning. But that’s not the extent of the damage. 27 families will spend their holiday thinking about the death of their loved one. Many more families will be affected by the shooting and thoughts about life and death will inevitably come up.

I experienced the panic that comes from knowing someone inside of a school that has a gunman. My brother started his senior year of high school this past August with a mentally ill child shooting up the cafeteria. The panic I experienced was unreal. I had never felt so scared in my life, especially when I didn’t know the details and didn’t know if my brother was one of the kids who had been shot. He wasn’t, luckily, but my thoughts lingered on how he could have been. My grief lay with the children who had been shot and the shooter himself.

To think so little of your life and the life around you that death is the only solution.

Life and death as it relates to me and my diabetes is something I think about as a very real idea. My diabetes has caused me to lead life in a different way. I try to appreciate the little things. I stop and take time to watch the sun rise and set. I find beauty in the small things around me that I never noticed before. I don’t know if it’s because subconsciously, I know I could die. I worry about death but don’t fear it, if that makes sense. I worry that I will have a low at night and I won’t ever wake up from it. I worry about diabetes complications. I worry about cancer. I worry about my health on a constant basis because that’s what happens when you have a chronic disease. You worry. All the time.

It’s knowing that I could die from something diabetes related either now or in the future that has helped me really live my life. I’m a much more laid-back person than I was and really try and do the things that are best for me.

My relationship with death is intertwined with my relationship to life. In a way, for me, the two go hand in hand.
It took me 23 years to come to terms with that relationship in my life. I wish those children had been awarded the same.

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome”

NHBPM- Day 18

“I want to change THIS about healthcare…”

Wow, there’s SO much I want to change about the U.S. healthcare system. First, I’d like to say thanks to President Obama. Without Obamacare, I would have been, for lack of a better term, royally fucked. My diabetes and hypothyroidism diagnosis came when I was moved out of my parent’s house, four months graduated from college and working in a small consulting company that didn’t offer health insurance. Obamacare allowed me to stay on my parent’s health insurance plan. Thank goodness too. Do you know how much insulin costs without insurance? What about Synthroid? What about the thousands of test strips and lancets?

It ain’t cheap.

I’m not going to complain about the cost of my medication. It’s expensive. Insurance is expensive and I’m thankful I’m covered. Without getting into the real flaws I find in our healthcare system that don’t directly relate to me, I’ll talk about my experiences with healthcare in the U.S. that I find frustrating.

The FDA. There are some great diabetes technologies out there that just aren’t available in the U.S. because they are not FDA approved. There’s a stall somewhere in the paperwork, while they pass drugs like Viagra and male enhancement shit. These technologies include a meter that I found while reading a DOC blog. I wanted it but quickly found out this PWD lived in Canada where the meter was readily available, as was the insurance that covered the test strips. The FDA makes life hard when you live with a chronic disease. It’s almost like they don’t want you to have the tools that could make life easier. I constantly curse their name.

Speaking of insurance. Have you ever had to call your insurance company to talk about coverage? I’m sure every person with a chronic disease or health issue knows exactly what I’m talking about. The wait times are astronomical, and when you finally talk to someone, they don’t have an answer for you so you get passed around like a hot potato trying to figure out whether your insurance will cover the very thing you need to keep you alive.

And let’s talk about coverage for a minute. Why is it that insurance companies are so damn slow to get on board with covering new technologies? I want a new glucometer. It’s the Telcare system. It’s pretty, it lights up, it tracks numbers and patterns, it’s much more technologically advanced than my OneTouch Mini (no offense to my minis!). Does my insurance cover it? No. Of course.

My complaints aren’t new. They are the echoes of every person who relies on medicine to live. Our healthcare system needs a huge reform.

Or at least shorter wait times.

NHBPM- Day 17

“My strengths and weaknesses list post” is the Day 17 prompt for NHBPM (yup, I realize it’s no longer November, but I have been enjoying writing these posts).

I have a lot of strengths and a lot of weaknesses, probably like most people reading this blog. Depending on what the situation is, my strengths could be my weakness and vice versa, so I’ll just name a few of what I think are my strongest strengths and weaknesses.

-I’m extremely caring. This can be both a strength and weakness, especially since I tend to put other people in front of me. I’m slowly learning that I can’t do that though, and have been trying to do what’s best for me in most situations.

-I like things done my way. I get really antsy and annoyed when something is done in a way that I wouldn’t do it. I try to bite my tongue if the situation isn’t a big deal, but usually can’t control what I say if I have a strong opinion on the matter.

-I like to plan things. I have tons of lists going at any given time. I like to know what is happening at all times. This can definitely be a strength and a weakness. Since my diagnosis, I have become more flexible though since a lot of times things happen unplanned.

-I’m positive. For the most part, I’m a cheerleader. I have been called “bubbly” a lot in my lifetime and I attribute that to my attitude. Positive thinking really does wonders for a person’s psyche and those around them.

-I have a lot of love to give. This might go along with the caring but it’s true. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and I think a lot of that has to do with love. Unfortunately, I’ve been burned by this a few times and while I will always consider myself a loving person, my last relationship taught me that being too free with that love doesn’t always end well.

-I have a constant, nagging feeling that I could or should be doing more with my life. I’m not 100% happy about my life situation and do my best not to let it bring me down on a daily basis. Not living in the present is something I struggle with sometimes and definitely wish I could change.

I realize some of these are not clear cut strengths and weakness. This list is not all inclusive, of course and has much more to do with my mental health and well-being than physical.