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.

Browsing Posts published by Jacquie Lewis-Kemp

Before we move on to the third leg of glucose balance, I want to address product and dietary claims to “reverse diabetes”. Whenever I see a product or diet claiming to “reverse diabetes”, it makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong, I find benefits in many vitamin supplements and raw food practices. However the human body is a very complicated and efficient system of systems. And when something interrupts one of the subsystems significantly, like diabetes, rarely can a product or dietary change alone cure the condition.

When claims that diabetes is caused by obesity and not Type 2  diabetes can be caused by obesity, it saddens me that young children with Type 1 diabetes could listen to these claims and believe that they somehow caused their diabetes by eating the wrong foods. Or they live each day expecting that a quick fix will make it ok for them to not control their chronic conditions. Perhaps some education can help.

There are 4 general types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational Diabetes, and Pre Diabetes.

Pre Diabetes is when the doctor warns that your blood sugar is a little elevated and if you are not careful, it could turn to a condition that we need to treat–diabetes. The only kind of diabetes it could turn to is Type 2.  In this case losing weight if necessary and nutritional balance is important. I say “balance” because it is the balance of eating and exercise along with protein, carbohydrate and fat balance that are necessary. The raw diet tends to be high in carbohydrate content and the diabetic diet is lower in carbohydrate–powders and supplements don’t do the job as efficiently as food proteins.

Gestational Diabetes is when a pregnant woman has elevated blood sugar. Usually when she delivers, her blood sugar normalizes. However what that is indicative of is that when her body is under stress (pregnancy) she has diabetic tendencies and again care like that of pre diabetes should be taken.

Type 2 Diabetes used to be called adult onset diabetes because it typically happened later in life. Now scientists understand that it occurs either when the body isn’t producing enough insulin to balance the amounts of food eaten, or the imbalance caused by a seminary lifestyle, and these causes are usually from obesity or lifestyle. However there are some Type 2 diabetics who have elevated blood sugars because they cannot use their insulin efficiently or they suffer from what is called insulin resistance. The difficulty in treating this condition is that without a doctor’s diagnosis of the likely cause of diabetes a nutritional change may not be sufficient. Also even if it is caused by obesity or a sedentary lifestyle, medication may be necessary to move from one state to the other.

Finally there is Type 1 Diabetes and that is what I have. Type 1 diabetes is simply a condition where the pancreas’ islets of Langerhan do not produce the enzyme insulin. Insulin is necessary to move the foodstuffs (glucose) to our body’s cells in order to live. NOTHING SHORT OF INJECTING INSULIN WILL TREAT THIS CONDITION. AT THIS STAGE OF RESEARCH, NOTHING SHORT OF A PANCREAS OR ISLET CELL TRANSPLANT WILL CORRECT THIS CONDITION.

So to say “reverse diabetes” is not really accurate and only plausible in a few situations: pre diabetes and T2s with obesity causes. Nutrition alone cannot treat the other forms of diabetes.

The self motivation that it takes for a young person to time and balance medication, insulin and nutrition is difficult enough to muster up. But when alternative medicine sources bombard them with inaccurate claims that ‘diabetes’ can be reversed. Even if they know better, their friends somehow think that their friend’s diabetes is caused from eating the wrong foods or being fat.

I’m blessed to have had parents who very carefully protected my psyche and encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to while understanding that it would take a little extra work to get it done. And so I am always conscious of the mind sets of young type 1 diabetics.

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I am a transplant patient and so my medication list is almost as long as your arm.  My husband has a few chronic health conditions that also require that his medication be taken up to three times a day.  With all of those pills, inhalers and vitamins, our meds require a system of organization.

Chronic illness and prescription refills

Our illnesses are chronic and so are our prescriptions. Therefore 90 day refills make economic sense and a mail order pharmacy makes procedural sense.  I order our prescriptions online and they are mailed free of charge to our home.

Storage of the “bulk” meds

I have a 3 step plan for making sure that my husband and I take all of our medicines as prescribed.

The Pillcase

We each have two pill cases–one is in the kitchen stored in a bin with other occassional drugs in a 3 drawer bin. We each have another on our night stand with pm pills and water bottles. My husband carries a mid-day pillcase as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filling the pillcases

The bin pictured to the left of the pillcase drawers contains the 30 day supplies of each medication type.

It takes some engineering to fit all the pill bottles into the drawers, but with some thought, trial and error, it works.

 

The bulk or balance of the 90 day supply of medicine

 

I keep all the extra supply that I refill the 30 day supply with in my pantry, in yet another 3 drawer bin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This may seem like a complicated plan, but it keeps the medications organized and it is a method that we can visually manage. I never run out of medication because when I refill the 30 day supply with the last of the 90 day supply, I know that it is time to refill the prescription.

Tell me about your medication organization.

 

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In my health coaching practice I use a Three Leged Stool approach to diabetes management. Simply put, there are three major areas to consider to balance blood glucose levels and manage diabetes: Exercise, Diet and Medication.

This week’s emphasis is on exercise. While food raises blood sugar, and medications ultimately lower blood sugar, exercise too burns blood sugar therby removing it from the blood stram. This is the specific benefit to diabetics, however there are several benefits of exercise for everyone including the heart, lungs, brain, bones, muscles and more.

My friend Jamie Brooks, a personal trainer, and I are working on an exercise video that will offer some exercises everyone can do at home as well as teach the correct way to use equipment at the gym.

Enjoy a sneak peak . . .

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 Am traveling with my son and husband. We are in Las Vegas for the National FuneralDirectors & Morticians Association convention. I am fortunate selling books at the Bass-Mollett Publishing booth as another reason to visit the booth.

I am reminded about some traveling tips for people with chronic illness:

1. Carefully pack all medication and necessary supplies in your carry on bag. If bags are lost, you want to make sure your medication is with you.

2. Pack extra medication in case you are delayed returning from your trip.

3. Don’t forget supplements and other medications to treat medication side effects.

As with anything we do, it is done as well as people without chronic illness as long as we do  a little extra planning and preparation.

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Health Coaching for Success by Jacquie Lewis-Kemp,

author of Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds.

 

Preventing Diabetes Wheel

With the promise of the Affordable Healthcare Act, more people will have access to healthcare. Physicians will be in great demand especially while we train enough physicians to now care for the millions of people who will now have access to affordable health care. What a great problem to have. Just when our college graduates wondered what they would do after graduation, the healthcare industry will be booming with opportunity for several disciplines. Opportunities will exist of course for physicians particularly internists, pediatricians, and family doctors, but also nurses, nurse’s aides, clerks, accountants, actuaries, economists and other business disciplines. A new area is opening up and that is for health coaches.

Health coaches do not replace the role of the doctor or any medical professional. In fact the health coach works closely with the doctor through the client/patient to understand the lifestyle change necessary to become or continue being a compliant patient. My health coaching practice, Take Control of Your Health works with several client issues; however it is focused on preventing or controlling diabetes. I also work with dialysis and transplant patients to focus on the area that presents a challenge that the client would like to overcome.

The physician diagnoses, treats and as time allows, educates the patient, however if the patient doesn’t follow the doctor’s orders or is otherwise non compliant, then the doctor cannot treat the condition accurately. And that is where the health coach comes in. A health coach functions like most consultants: Wears your watch and tells you what time it is. And on the surface it may sound silly to pay someone to wear your watch and tell you what time it is, but as in business when the job demands are so numerous trying to put out fires, it is a good practice to have a person who can give you feedback on how the business is performing. It works the same way with a health coach. When the best intentions to make a change in your lifestyle continues to end up with few or no results, then a health coach can measure your progress and the baby steps that you take to achieve the change that you are looking for.

 

Because this is such a client driven process, there is no one formula or set prescribed time for completion. The client names the goal and it is the job of the coach to monitor or recommend baby steps that are appropriate for the success of the goal. It is the job of the coach to pace the progress, encourage and hold the client accountable.

 

 

Transplant Living Wheel

For more information on Take Control of Your Health, please contact me at Jacquie@jlewiskemp.com.

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Stephen R. Kemp, II

Stephen Kemp, II spoke to a community group at the Farwell Middle School in Detroit about the prevalence of diabetes among African Americans.  His presentation included diabetes education as well as tips for living with diabetes.

No, Stephen is not diabetic himself, however he has lived and been around diabetes all of his life.  His mother Jacquie, a Type 1 diabetic, spent an hour every Monday and Wednesday of her pregnancy in her high risk obstetrician’s office from the time she was 11 weeks pregnant until she delivered a blood sugar normal baby at 36 weeks. She also carried her insulin and a meal to work and kept necessary diabetic supplies in the car so that she could make the treck from work to Stephen’s after school soccer, football or lacrosse. Stephen learned early how to cure an insulin reaction with orange juice.His Type II maternal grandmother picked him up from school many days when his parents were at work.  She taught him the importance of snacks–and lots of snacking they did together.  It was their relationship and his understanding of her diabetes that at the tender age of 6 made him insist that his dad not drive off when his grandmother didn’t come to the door when Stephen rang the doorbell one morning.  When she didn’t answer, he ran to the location of the secret key, opened the door and disarmed the alarm.  Stephen ran to her bedroom where he found his grandmother lying on the bedroom floor.  He yelled to his father who followed behind him, to call 9-1-1.  Paramedics were able to give her instant glucose and arouse her from a bad insulin reaction.  This heroic moment was recognized not only by family, but the American Red Cross. Stephen received an An Everyday Hero medal at an awards banquet from the American Red Cross.

Stephen’s Type II paternal grandfather now depends on him to program cell phones and pick out new cars.Stephen explained to the community group the importance of glucose control and how he watches his diabetic family members do well to manage blood sugars as well as problems they’ve run into.  His presentation also included handouts from the American Diabetes Association and  included a healthy meal that followed. The group organizer asked Stephen to ask God’s blessings upon the meal.

NOW WITH LOTS OF REASONS TO BE PROUD!

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It amazes me to listen to people argue that the Affordable Health Care act should be repealed and that they believed it was unconstitutional.  I don’t understand how people don’t get that in order to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in today’s terms, that means we must have affordable health care.

I get that in order to pay for a comprehensive health care plan, we (America) have got to be able to afford to do it. Again, while I get, providing for the common defense, I don’t get becoming the world’s police. Without being a member of the Congressional Budget Office, I intuitively believe that we can afford a comprehensive health plan if we back up on policing the world and better focus our efforts on domestic issues.

I think it is a good idea to make available a pool of money by requiring people to carry health insurance instead of them being treated for common or chronic illnesses in the emergency room. Insurance can then be affordable and more effective if the costs are lower because of the relative costs of doctor’s offices versus emergency rooms.  Many of the people who continue to oppose this matter, don’t have chronic illness and believe that they will end up having to pay for insurance and will never use it.  But like any insurance (homeowners, car, possibly even life), we find value in paying for “just in case”. Why wouldn’t we want to pay for “just in case there is an accident or illness”?  For those who find requiring Americans to carry health insurance an infringement on their freedom, perhaps we should go ahead, let them opt out. However make the penalty of opting out, an ability for emergency rooms and other medical professionals to “opt out” by refusing care–excuse physicians of their Hippocratic Oath, for this circumstance only.

These arguments against the Affordable Health Care Act are ones typically held by people with health insurance and who are healthy. I consider myself in that category—with health insurance and reasonably healthy. And although I am able to afford health insurance in today’s market, I wouldn’t want to deny anyone who was unable to afford health insurance as if it were a luxury and not what should be a civil right. I am keenly aware of the type of intense medical care diabetes, kidney disease, asthma and heart disease require. Trying to manage these conditions without health insurance would even shorten, if not end immediately, the life of a financially wealthy person.

So why would people oppose something that will be good for all of us, including the “least of these”?

The first answer is an easy one—selfish ignorance. Selfish: “I’ve got it and you should find a way to get it”. And ignorant because they don’t understand how they really live (as my father used to say) with one foot on the ground and the other foot firmly planted on a banana peel. It doesn’t take much for today’s insurance caps to be met and the onus for payment for medical care to be placed on the patient. A serious illness or accident could bankrupt a person.

The second answer is a sad reality responsible for more than opposition to Affordable Health Care, and that is deep seeded generational racism. Affordable Health Care is a policy created, promoted and passed by a black President of the United States along with people who recognize their own vulnerability as it relates to health care, and also care for people less fortunate than them. Even though Affordable Health Care benefits us all and there are ways to make choices so that the policy doesn’t bankrupt the country as some would suggest, they still oppose not just the idea, but the President. Rather than support the President, they would allow their young adult children looking for their first job out of college to suffer a gap in health insurance. They would rather their loved ones with chronic illness be denied health care coverage, rather than admit that what this black president has lead our country to do, protects their life and liberty.

I don’t suspect that people who question the President’s birth certificate, his policies and his patriotism would call themselves racist. They wouldn’t call themselves racist because the people they call racist were their grandparents and parents. They openly disagreed with a black person because of the color of his skin. What is happening now, I liken to Pavlov’s Dogs. The Russian psychologist, Pavlov is responsible for the study of classical conditioning whereby a conditioned stimulus would elicit an unconditioned response. Pavlov was able to evoke salivation from dogs simply by ringing a bell, after conditioning them to expect food after hearing the bell ring.

People who oppose the Affordable Health Care Act react much like the dogs. Unlike generations before them, they have been conditioned and don’t even make the connection that the reason they oppose the act is because the President is black, but instead give an unconditioned response (like the dogs) and oppose the policies because they have been conditioned that if the policy was lead by a black man, it cannot be right.

It appears that sounder minds have prevailed thus far, however I would encourage anyone who opposes affordable health care insurance for most (not even all) Americans, would search their souls and find that this argument is not “Zero Sum”. In other words, giving someone else a benefit does not take from your pot of benefits.

 

 

 

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Normalcy

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Camp Michitanki 2012

 

During my seven months of peritoneal dialysis, my very complicated regimen of being connected to a machine all night, waking up to a routine of blood sugar testing, taking insulin, weighing myself and recording it in my log book, became overwhelming quickly. I look back on it now and recall how tedious and time consuming it was to manage my availability of dialysis fluid, calculate my requirements with a system of month-end dialysis fluid inventory, ordering a shipment with enough boxes of each fluid strength and accepting the monthly shipments of fluid from a truck driver who wheeled in  +/-20 boxes of fluid from his 18-wheel semi truck. I can only imagine what my neighbors thought when a big semi truck entered our cul-de-sac at 7 in the morning to make 3-4 trips with a dolly full of boxes, to bring them into my house.

I longed to have my normal life back. And then, normal meant life with diabetes, but not dialysis. My kidney transplant made me feel free and completely rejuvenated. My later pancreas transplant made me feel something I don’t ever remember feeling–life without insulin, testing and dietary restrictions.

If I had this kind of euphoria from my transplants as an adult, imagine how a child feels after being transplanted. All kids ever want is to be is like their friends. They want to dress like their friends, wear their hair like them, talk like them, eat what they eat, go where they go . . . And so it is not surprising that kids living with organ transplants need that sense of normalcy even more than other kids. And that is why the University of Michigan Transplant Center has created Camp Michitanki, a place where kids living with organ transplants can do camp activities like all of their friends, in the safe environment and under the watchful eye of transplant doctors and nurses.

You can support Camp Michitanki and enjoy a fabulous experience at the BIG HOUSE–Michigan Stadium Jack Roth suites, by attending the University of Michigan Transplant Center’s Vita Redita black tie gala and charity auction. The event is called the Vita Redita because it is Latin for Life Restored!

If you would like to attend the event, become a sponsor, or donate by providing an auction item, please contact the Events Director, Melissa Swain at (734) 232-0594. In the meantime, read more about Camp Michitanki in the Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20120705/NEWS05/207050461/Transplant-camp-lets-kids-be-kids?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

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When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, the parents’ natural response is to imagine the worse scenarios–insulin shots, limitations, and long term complications. It is ok to briefly consider those possible realities as long as you the parent and coach don’t dwell in that valley. Imagine for a minute that you are coaching a youth baseball team, and you began your season with the focus, “Well, we can possibly lose all of our games this season and be plagued with injuries, making us the worst team in the league”. It probably wouldn’t encourage the team to do their best now would it? It is the same with parenting a child with diabetes.

The Reality

Life with diabetes is complicated. And the reality is that children with Type 1 and many with Type 2 diabetes have to take insulin, whether they are Pumpers or Shooters (via insulin pump or insulin injections). They also have to monitor their blood glucose and remain in touch with changes in their body.

The Outlook

A child who believes that diabetes management is not an obstacle, but a step necessary for success will flourish. One of the most important things that my parents provided for me is a positive outlook about my diabetes. In all that we did, they reinforced the fact that I could do anything that I wanted to do as long as I was willing to do the work.

The Plan

Successful diabetes management is not something that can be done haphazardly. It requires organization and consistency. Medication, diet and exercise should be planned in concert with the objective to maintain blood sugars within (or as close to) the normal range of 70-120.

 

The Tools

With any task, it is easy to adhere to the plan with the right tools in the right place. What that means for a child with diabetes is that the plan has to include where meals will come from (ie: packing a snack or lunch to eat at the prescribed time), carrying a glucose monitor to check levels throughout the day (and understanding school rules), having insulin handy and stored properly (not in a car that may be too hot or too cold and may denature the insulin. Regularly scheduled exercise and an emergency plan developed with your child and school officials.

The Benefit of Diabetes

Yes, after all of that work, there are benefits! For the novice, all of this seems like a whole lot of work—and it is. It is a mindset, and equipping a plan to manage diabetes. While it may seem like a lot, particularly for a young child, it prepares them for more of the same in life. The road to successful academic achievement is a mindset (GPA 3.5) and a well equipped plan (study between classes at the library and redo all homework prior to tests). The road to a successful career is a mindset (make partner within 5 years) and a well equipped plan (keep schedule on iPad and always be well prepared for presentations).

Said another way, diabetes can provide practice for success in life.

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