Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds

by Jacquie Lewis-Kemp, Author & Health Coach for Living life with diabetes and organ transplants, rather than limiting life because of them.

 

There are so many observances throughout the year that several of them happen simultaneously. However April’s pairing of National Minority Health Month and National Donate Life Month is not pure happenstance.

National Minority Health Month

African Americans and other ethnic minorities are plagued by a number of chronic illnesses that may not be an immediate threat to life itself; however neglect of these chronic and often preventable conditions can surely lead to an early death. Perhaps the biggest of these chronic illnesses that disproportionately plague African Americans is hypertension and diabetes. According to the National Institute of Health,

“The most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure, together accounting for about 70 percent of new cases.”

That bears repeating, 70 percent of new cases of chronic kidney disease is caused by uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension—both controllable conditions. Controllable in large part by good decision making: diet and exercise, and medication prescribed by a doctor. And this brings us to the next April observance.

National Donate Life Month

National Donate Life Month promoted largely by the Gift of Life Foundation encourages people to make the decision to become organ donors, either living or at the time of death so that those waiting on the transplant list, can live. There are currently more than 110,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. Millions of organs are wasted daily when people die without donating their organs. It is a simple process to sign up on the national organ donor registry: http://donatelife.net/register-now/

In the case of kidneys, while African Americans make up 12% of the population, we make up 32% of those on dialysis.

In April and beyond, join with me to make smart and healthy decisions to improve minority health, and please “Donate Life”—my brother Jeff (my kidney donor) and another individual (my pancreas donor)’s decisions to donate life are why I live today!

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Because diabetes is a disease affecting many parts of the body, successful management requires a team approach. Today’s podiatrist is an integral part of the treatment team and has documented success in preventing amputations:

  • More than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated annually due to complications from diabetes.

  • After an amputation, the chance of another amputation within three to five years is as high as 50 percent.

  • Including a podiatrist in your diabetes care can reduce the risk of lower limb amputation up to 85 percent and lowers the risk of hospitalization by 24 percent.

The keys to amputation prevention are early recognition and regular foot screenings performed by a podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert.

Take Action

If you have diabetes, follow these foot care tips:

  • Inspect feet daily. Check your feet and toes every day for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration.

  • Wear thick, soft socks. Avoid socks with seams, which could rub and cause blisters or other skin injuries.

  • Exercise. Walking can keep weight down and improve circulation. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising.

  • Have new shoes properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape may change over time. Shoes that fit properly are important to those with diabetes.

  • Don’t go barefoot. Don’t go without shoes, even in your own home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great for those with diabetes.

  • Never try to remove calluses, corns, or warts by yourself. Over-the-counter products can burn the skin and cause irreparable damage to the foot for people with diabetes.

  • See today’s podiatrist. Regular checkups by a podiatrist—at least annually—are the best way to ensure that your feet remain healthy.

 FROM THE AMERICAN PODIATRIC MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

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Christmastime is when most of us decorate our homes and invite family and friends over to overeat, laugh and catch up on what has been going on since the last time the group was together.  If you have lost a loved one it is also a time when we remember Christmases past and the fun times we shared.

When I lost my father he was just 52 years old and there was a list of people that I felt God could have taken instead of my father.  Each holiday felt like my shopping list was so short–even though there was only one name removed.  My father-in-law perhaps suffered the most. His birthday was the same day as my father’s. We’d have a birthday dinner for both of them and I would buy similar gifts in different colors–it was fun. But after my father died, I couldn’t bring myself to shop for September 23.

Finally I rationalized in my mind that I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself about having lost my father.  There were many women that I knew who would never know what it was like to have a father like mine.  The old saying that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, is hard to grasp–AND SOMETHING YOU NEVER WANT TO HEAR RIGHT AFTER LOSING SOMEONE.  But in time, I got it.   The impact of my father’s love for me has lasted me and I believe will continue to last for the rest of my life. People (particularly my son) are probably so tired of hearing me say, “What my father used to say about that is . . .”

It’s a good thing that I learned that lesson before losing my mother.  By this time I had received the Gift of Life twice and survived the West Nile virus.  And so what brought me peace was that “things” were not my mother nor did they represent her. But the impact that she had on my life and the lives of so many others, is her legacy.

My brother and I were also fortunate in that  we were able to carry out her final wishes and that was to donate her organs to people who needed them. It is interesting that we did not discuss her wishes during or after our kidney transplant.  But we both knew growing up that both our parents wanted to donate their organs–it was something that they discussed with us as children.

We missed the opportunity when our father died, however we were able to oblige our mother.  Even though it wasn’t my organs that were donated, that we completed my mother’s wishes, felt like I was paying it forward.  One day I will ACTUALLY pay it forward since I am a registered organ donor.

Even though they are not likely to use my brother’s transplanted kidney in my body or my new pancreas, I don’t want to make a medical decision that I’m not qualified to make.  The way I figure it, let me donate the organs when I’m through with them and let the doctors decide who may be able to use them.

IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED AN ORGAN TRANSPLANT, REGISTER TO BECOME AN ORGAN DONOR AND PAY IT FORWARD!

 

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Halloween is a holiday that is celebrated with activities often forbidden for people with diabetes. So what do children do for this holiday? For that matter, any holiday or day filled with seasonal treats?

When I was a child growing up with diabetes in the 70s, my doctor allowed me to choose 3 “Hog Wild” days per year. The concept was that I would follow my diet 362 days out of the year, but be allowed to eat whatever I wanted on those 3 days. While psychologically that may have made me feel better about measured mash potatoes served from an ice cream scoop without butter, fact is I wasn’t always true to the diet for the full 362 days. And even on those Hog Wild days, my mother had to watch me extremely closely–since at that time there was no glucometer to know exactly how high my blood sugar was. It really was kind of a dangerous concept.

Today, with glucometers and short acting insulins or insulin pumps, it is a much easier and less dangerous way to enjoy a once forbidden holiday. While I don’t believe (and I don’t think medical professionals would either) the best course of action would be to overdo it on all the candy you collect, I do think an after dinner treat monitored with a glucometer, or Continuous Glucose Monitor and treated with short acting insulin or insulin pump as prescribed by your physician, wouldn’t hurt.

Normalcy is what gets us through the sometimes difficult times of managing chronic illness. And the more we can feel like everybody else, the more we don’t mind working a little harder to make that happen safely.

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Once again, we are excited to present our ‘FREE’ Annual “Taking Diabetes to School 2013” Conference & Exhibits …everything you need to know about creating and maintaining a safe learning environment for students with diabetes.  A strong support network at school is needed to help them manage their diabetes, stay safe and continue learning – JDRF is here to help!

New this year: Hands-on Demo Stations and interactive networking with diabetes educators, clinicians, and parents!

If you have questions or you would like to reserve your spot at this important and informative event, please contact Denise Pentescu at JDRF.

Phone: 517.899.2251

Fax: 248.355.1188

Email dpentescu@jdrf.org

JDRF Registration Form

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Actor Anthony Anderson, Spokesperson for the Eli Lilly’s F.A.C.E. program.

African Americans are diagnosed with diabetes more than 2.5 times the rate of whites. I had the opportunity to interview Anthony Anderson about his ambassador role as national spokesperson for Eli Lilly’s F.A.C.E. program. The Fearless African Americans Connected and Empowered (F.A.C.E.) program is designed specifically to reach African Americans and inform us about how to prevent or manage the epidemic diabetes diagnoses in our community.

Listen to our hilarious interview:

This is part one, stay tuned for part 2.

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Dancing to the music at the Haley Funeral Director’s tent at the Hope UMC Carnival July 13, 2013.

 

 

Local seniors enjoyed a day at the carnival when Haley Funeral Directors hosted them in the HFD tent at the Hope United Methodist Church’s 3rd annual Southfield Festival of Hope. HFD invited local senior apartment communities out for a day at the festival. Although the seniors weren’t too keen on taking a spin on the carnival rides, they did enjoy Soul Food Alley, the many vendors, local entertainment and of course the sunshine.

 

The response back from The Fountains at Franklin Activities Director, Robin Whitley was that “…they enjoyed the carnival fun and look forward to next year”.

 

Not to forget the youth, Haley Funeral Directors also sponsored 8 young women from the Judson Center, a human service agency located in Southeastern Michigan to help children, adults and families improve their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Kemp II engages HFD guests in a round of Bid Whist!

 

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Although the hottest of weather, heat warnings and advisories seems to have moved past the metro Detroit area, people with diabetes
and organ transplants should continue to exercise extreme caution.

The effect that the heat can have on diabetes is complex

  • Sweating, which burns calories and therefore lowers blood sugar, can lead to hypoglycemic  episodes (low blood sugar). Heat can also make hyperglycemic episodes more difficult to identify.

  • Dehydration due to excess heat can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).  Since dehydration occurs when there is low fluid level in the blood stream, there is a high concentration of glucose, causing hyperglycemia.

  • Medication, such as insulin, and supplies can be damaged by excess heat and manufacturer’s recommendations regarding storing medication and supplies must be followed.

Recommendations for people with diabetes:

 

  • Drink plenty of fluids

  • Keep water convenient and close by to make hydration a thoughtless effort.

  • Test blood glucose more often than prescribed, particularly if you don’t feel normal. Since the heat’s impact on blood sugar

    control can be varied (heat can make it go both up or down) it is best to know exactly what the blood sugar level is, rather than guess.

  • Keep diabetes medication and supplies cool without subjecting them to freezing temperatures.

Kidney Transplant Patients must also exercise caution in the heat

 

  • Excessive sweating—not even dehydration–can cause creatinine levels (a measure of kidney function) to increase. High creatine levels can potentially lead to kidney transplant rejection, or worsening of chronic kidney disease.

 

Kidney Transplant Patients should:

 

  • Drink more than the 2 liters of doctor prescribed fluid each day.

  • Again, this should be done by always having water, decaffeinated and non alcoholic, beverages handy to sip on all day.

  • Remember, both caffeine and alcohol dehydrate.

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Jacquie diagnosed with T1D at age 7

Many people tend to categorize Type 1 diabetes as a “worse” case of diabetes than Type 2.  The fact of the matter is that while they are both diabetes–an endocrine disorder whereby the body cannot move glucose from the blood stream to feed the cells–the reasons for the disorder are different. Because the reasons are different, the treatment is often different.

 

People with Type 1 diabetes always take insulin injections because the reason for their inability to move glucose to the cells is because their pancreas doesn’t produce insulin at all. Therefore the only way to complete the digestive process is with insulin injections.

 

People with Type 2 diabetes develop it for a number of different reasons. Some suffer from insulin resistance, meaning that their pancreas’ produce insulin, however their bodies have become resistant to the insulin and oral medication is needed to make the insulin work or work more efficiently.

 

Others with Type 2 diabetes have undergone a major change (weight gain, stress etc.) that increases the amount of insulin required for digestion. Sometimes the pancreas can be stimulated with oral medications to produce more insulin, however in other cases insulin injection therapy is needed.

 

So as you can see, there is no “worse” case of diabetes, just differences in how they are treated.

 

To  answer to my own question, I do have an opinion about which type is easier to manage. Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children, hence the earlier description “juvenile diabetes”. Type 2 often occurs in older adults. Managing diabetes is a lifestyle change, and for children, it is creating a lifestyle–not changing it.

 

Many people have difficulty managing Type 2 Diabetes because it is a lifestyle change more than adding a pill a day, but includes blood testing, weight management, exercise for more than just pleasure and following a diet.  I believe that people managing Type 1 diabetes have it easier because they created a lifestyle as a child that they have adapted to their routine as they grew older.

 

For example, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 7.  It was August, two months after my baby brother was born and a month before second grade started. In fact I missed a few weeks of the start of school because in 1969, patients with diabetes were hospitalized while they learned to manage, and doctors determined what dose of insulin to prescribe (Boy was this old school). In 1969, there was no such thing as a glucometer and patients were prescribed an insulin dose to take for six months until the next doctor’s visit and a blood glucose test could be done.

 

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I participated in a study with a new machine called a glucometer. It was the size of an old cassette tape machine and weighed about 40 pounds. The machine had to be calibrated with synthetic blood anytime the machine was turned off–oh yeah, it had to be plugged in. While this doesn’t sound convenient or conducive to anyone’s lifestyle, it was a major step in managing diabetes. Once I graduated from college, glucometers became pocket sized and much more portable. With this new technology, I was “able” to do nearly anything.

 

One of the most important things my parents taught me when I was diagnosed with diabetes, was that I can do anything that I wanted to do as long as I was willing to work hard at it. While technology made it possible to manage a busy lifestyle, it was my parent’s words that continue to ring in my ears and hopefully have been passed on to my son’s ears. With that mantra, it was relatively easy to modify my regimen from high school cheerleading, to walking the campus to class; from school to work and the impact on my blood sugar of emotions during meetings or public speaking. Adding marriage, childbirth and a young family to the mix was more an organizational feat than it was a procedural change.

 

So the next time you see a child with diabetes, don’t hang your head in sorrow because of her diabetes. Know that she is preparing for a busy life ahead.

 

Wife, Mom & CEO managing T1D

 

 

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Join me and learn how my coaching program works with you to take your doctor’s instructions and create a routine that fits into YOUR lifestyle.

When:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 7 PM (Eastern Time)

Topic:

This will be an online conference that demonstrates my Diabetes Lifestyle Coaching Program. REGISTER HERE

Description:

Life for people with diabetes is not one simple lifestyle, and so no one’s diabetes should be treated the same. We are as individual as snowflakes and that is why coaching to create a plan to tailor your diabetes maintenance to your current lifestyle is a better option than using one set of procedures for prescribed for everyone. I will show you how my program works.

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