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 in Diabetes

Listen as January Jones interviews Jacquie Lewis-Kemp about living with diabetes.

Listen to internet radio with Ms January Jones on Blog Talk Radio

 

 

Share

I’ve had juvenile diabetes for more than 32 years and so I have always had to figure out how to incorporate my diabetes monitoring into my busy schedule.   My schedule became even more complicated when my kidneys failed and I was on dialysis.  I was married, with a fifth grader and an automotive supplier executive.  I did peritoneal dialysis which required me to be connected to a machine which dialyzed me overnight and I did one exchange of fluid midday from work.  Because I kept my dialysis a secret from employees I usually tied up one of the phone lines and closed the door to my office so that it appeared that I was on a confidential call and no one would disturb me.

One day I needed to attend a meeting about a half hour away.  In order to get to the meeting on time, I wouldn’t be able to do my midday dialysis at the office.  Once I missed my midday exchange and felt awful, so I vowed never to miss dialysis again.  For a quick moment I thought, maybe I can’t do this.  Maybe it is too much to run a company while on dialysis.

This is where God helped me to think creatively so that I could attend the meeting and not miss dialysis.  I remembered that God created me to be a quick thinking and resourceful woman, and so from my office I gathered all of my dialysis supplies and fluid into a spare briefcase and put them into my car. In my office parking lot, I put on my surgical mask and washed my hands with the disinfectant wipe.  Carefully I uncoiled my dialysis hose implanted in my abdomen and connected it to the drainage bag that I put on the front passenger side floor (below my heart, so that gravity would cause the old fluid to drain out of my abdomen).  I laid my new fluid bag on the car dash to heat up from the sun and window defroster.  Once my old fluid finished draining, and at a red light, I moved the new bag of fluid from the dash and pinched it in my sunroof window (above my heart, so that gravity would cause it to drain into my abdomen).  I moved the clamp so that the fluid would start to drain.  After the bag was empty and at another red light, I washed my hands again, put on my mask and disconnected from the dialysis system.  I taped up my hose and buttoned up my pants.  I put everything into the trunk of my car and attended the meeting as scheduled and felt just fine.

What this experience reminds me is that no matter what people say or what may be going wrong, I am a child of God, created in His image.  He has shown me how to multitask and how to creatively work my way through problems and because of that, I can live victoriously—and so can everyone.

Share

As women we multitask.  All at the same time we work, manage a household, cook, clean, tutor, and manage a marital partnership—financially, spiritually and emotionally, not to mention manage the in-laws, out-laws and other extended family members.  Multitasking focuses us to handle most if not all of these issues during the course of a regular day.  Always handling problems can sometimes keep a woman from living victoriously.

 If we’re around people who constantly point out what’s wrong with us and around us, then we too can begin to believe that there is lots wrong with our lives and that there is nothing we can do about it.  And we become depressed.

 For women with chronic illness, we have another set of issues that tell us why we shouldn’t succeed.  In fact, many of these issues are not imaginary but really exist and are things that we have no choice but to deal with.  And in that case we not only become depressed but feel powerless about our lot in life.

 In these examples, what the women have forgotten is that God made us to be complicated individuals.  Complicated in the sense that we have abilities that we use so much everyday that we don’t even realize that they are unique attributes.  We have an innate ability to organize and find ways around the obstacles we face, if only we’d ask God for help and remain faithful and obedient to His word.

 Think about the time when you spent your last dime on paying bills and your daughter needed money for a school field trip?  Or when you knew you had a busy week upcoming both at work and at home, but you were sick and bed ridden? And you said, “Lord, how will I get this all done”?

Something happened, didn’t it?  And maybe it didn’t seem so miraculous.  You found a $10 bill that you stuck in your coat pocket and had forgotten about it.  Or that cold medicine seemed to work overnight; or the next day was such a beautiful sunny day that you got up and got started.

Everything that God does or makes possible isn’t always an elaborate display of miraculous acts.  Sometimes they are, like when I was comatose for a month with the West Nile virus seven years ago and today I breathe air.  But sometimes it is the small shove of confidence and help with decision making or organizing that helps us to live victoriously.  What has been your challenge and small shove of confidence?

Share

The Healthy Hair Starts with a Healthy Body™ African American women’s health program was started by the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan in June 1999.  The goal of this program is to help prevent kidney disease by raising awareness of its two primary causes – diabetes and high blood pressure – and encouraging people to make healthy lifestyle choices.  Campaigns have been successfully implemented in ten Michigan cities: Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Inkster, Lansing, Muskegon, Pontiac, Saginaw, Southfield, and Ypsilanti.    Since 1999, over 1,200 hair stylists have been trained to become lay health educators in their salons.  These stylists have completed 70 campaigns, reaching nearly 28,000 African American salon clients.  This program has gained national recognition.

 The centerpiece of the Healthy Hair intervention is the “health chat” conducted by the stylist.  In each campaign, stylists have two health chats with their clients.  During the first chat, stylists explain the risks faced by African Americans for kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  They also discuss the importance of good nutrition, adequate physical activity, smoking reduction/cessation, and taking prescribed medications properly if already diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure.  Stylists encourage their clients to make improvements in these areas and to seek blood sugar, blood pressure, or urine analysis tests at a doctor’s office.  Clients receive a risk assessment tool for diabetes and high blood pressure, along with a variety of health education materials to supplement the health chat, and a community referral guide of local support services.  The second health chat takes place approximately one month later, during which stylists review the key health messages, answer any questions, and offer further encouragement to help their clients take steps to improve their health.  Watch as Deborah Ivory explains how Healthy Hair worked at her salon, Optimum Beauty Works,  located on Livernois between Eight and Nine Mile roads in Ferndale, Michigan:

 Clients complete a survey after each health chat with their stylist.  The data from these surveys show the following: 

  • 56% of salon clients indicated that they had made at least one healthy lifestyle change as a result of the Healthy Hair intervention, including increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, increased physical activity, decreased consumption of salt and fat, decreased smoking, and improved medication adherence. 

 

  • The number of clients who were taking their diabetes and/or high blood pressure medication as prescribed increased by 9% between the first and second health chats.

 

  • 43% of clients indicated that they had visited or made an appointment to visit their primary care doctor between Chats 1 and 2.

 

  • Of those clients who visited their doctor, 80% discussed their risks for diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease; 90% were tested for one or more of these diseases, and 42% were diagnosed with a disease they did not previously know they had.

 

  • 34% of clients who completed a health risk assessment scored at high risk for diabetes.  In addition, 28% of clients indicated a previous diagnosis of high blood pressure; 11% reported a prior diabetes diagnosis. 

 

  • Clients talked to 3 other people, on average, about what they learned in the salon.  This significantly broadens the reach of the Healthy Hair messages in the community.

 

  • Participating hair stylists reported that Healthy Hair campaigns helped their business by improving their rapport with clients, creating a more positive salon atmosphere, building client loyalty, and prompting new referrals.  Many stylists also made their own health improvements.

Share

We were both diagnosed diabetic at 7 years old and thanks to the focus diabetes requires, we have Success Despite the Odds.

Sotomayor opens up about her diabetes

By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The parents of Sonia Sotomayor, the future Supreme Court justice, knew something was wrong when their daughter, 7 years old at the time, was always thirsty, began wetting the bed and fainted in church.

By Charles Rex Arbogast, AP

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivers an address at the University of Chicago Law School.

In heartfelt remarks before a group of 150 children Tuesday, Sotomayor recalled being taken to the hospital for tests. When a technician pulled out a needle to draw blood, she was so scared that she tore from the room, ran out of the hospital and hid underneath a parked car. After hospital staff dragged her back, “kicking and screaming,” and completed tests, things turned scarier: Sotomayor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

It was the first time she saw her mother cry. The doctor told her diabetes wasn’t so bad, and Sotomayor thought, “If it isn’t so bad, why is my mommy crying?”

Sotomayor’s diabetes has long been known, yet she has never spoken so publicly and in such personal terms about her life with the condition. Over the course of a half-hour at a downtown Washington hotel Tuesday, Sotomayor spoke as a group of children in bright blue T-shirts — ages 4 to 17, from around the nation — sat rapt before her on the floor of a large conference room.

She opened her remarks at the event sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation with the shame of wetting the bed after drinking too much water and the fear of her disease. She quickly moved into how she learned to manage it and the discipline diabetes has given her.

After living with it, she said, she discovered “it wasn’t so bad, but it was still bad.”

She told the children, diabetics like her, that they could become anything they wanted. If you want to be a Supreme Court justice, she said in response to a 10th-grade boy from Michigan, “do the things you like to do and do them well.”

She told one of the smallest girls in the audience, from South Carolina, that life as a diabetic will get better as she grows up, figures out what’s happening to her body and learns to manage her blood sugar.

Sotomayor, who will turn 57 Saturday, said she constantly calculates how a meal will affect her and said that no matter where she is having dinner, she will give herself a shot of insulin. Unlike most of the children in the room who get their insulin through a pump, Sotomayor said she uses needles about four times a day.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation estimates that about 3 million people in the USA have type 1 diabetes and, like Sotomayor, must regularly test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin injections.

Sotomayor, whose parents came from Puerto Rico, grew up in the Bronx. When she was 9, her father died. Her mother, who eventually became a nurse, worked long hours to support her daughter and son.

In an era before disposable needles, Sotomayor recalled getting up early to boil water and sterilize needles. She said she was so little, she had to pull a chair over to the stove.

Sotomayor stressed the discipline cultivated over the years, such as learning what foods are best for her. “Unlike other people, I actually pay attention to my body,” she said, noting that she can usually tell when she is getting sick.

The juvenile diabetes foundation says that even with insulin injections, complications from diabetes can arise, such as kidney failure, blindness and heart disease.

Sotomayor went to Princeton University and earned a law degree from Yale. When President Obama appointed her to the Supreme Court in 2009, she became the first Hispanic to sit on the nation’s highest court.

In what she described Tuesday as “the job of my dreams,” Sotomayor said she watches how the stress of the court business might affect her blood-sugar level and always checks it before she takes the bench for the hours-long oral arguments.

She accentuated the positive side of having diabetes, telling the youths, “It affects you in knowing how precious it is to have good health.”

Share

5/17/2011

The National Kidney Foundation is launching a multi-site cross-sectional study, Awareness, Detection and Drug Therapy in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Chronic Kidney Disease (ADD-CKD). The study will assess how chronic kidney disease is being identified and managed in type II diabetic patients, in the primary care setting.

Recent research has shown that primary care physicians are extremely busy and have little time to spend discussing risk factors and preventative steps with patients at risk for kidney disease. One study found that only half of primary care doctors discussed chronic kidney disease, with their diabetic patients. And when it was discussed, half of doctors spoke about CKD for 33 seconds or less – an average of only 3% of the total visit time.
 
“Primary care physicians are our first line of defense against one of the world’s top killers,” said Lynda Szczech, MD, MSCE, President of the National Kidney Foundation. “More than 26 million Americans already have chronic kidney disease, and millions more are at risk and don’t even know it.  Early detection and treatment of kidney disease in patients can help slow progression and reduce cardiovascular events and delay time to kidney failure. The goal of this study is to increase the awareness and management of chronic kidney disease in diabetic patients.”
 
 The ADD-CKD study will recruit 460 primary care practitioner providers.  Each provider will recruit 21 type 2 diabetes patients, for a total of 9,660 patients. The study, to be administered by primary care physicians and primary care nurse practitioners will use a primary care provider survey, a patient physical exam and medical history, lab testing, including blood and urine and patient quality of life questionnaires. Enrollment begins in June 2011.

Share

My father died 18 years ago, but I have decided not to let the his absence from earth get me down. Instead I celebrate the indelible lessons he taught me, and I hope to pass them on to my son. These particular lessons from my dad, are at the top of my list.

You can do anything you want to do as long as you are willing to work hard at it.

My dad never wanted me to feel as if I was somehow handicapped by my diabetes and couldn’t excel at what was important to me and so he always told me, “You can do anything you want to do as long as you are willing to work hard at it”. So when I asked him what he wanted me to be when I grew up, he answered, “whatever you are willing to work hard at”. When I asked him if I should continue with ballet lessons, he answered “is it what you want to work hard at”? When I asked him if I should choose the University of Michigan for college, he answered (after a discussion about the cost of private college) “will you work hard there”?

If I can do it, you can do it.

At the combative age of 13, I was sick of being diabetic and taking shots twice a day. And so my father sat down next to me in short pants and drew up water into an insulin syringe. I saw what he was about to do and I said, “Dad, you don’t have to”. My dad answered, “If I can do it, you can do it”. And he proceeded to give himself a shot of water.

Hey, there is some guy running around in a Jim Lewis sweater!

Living on my own in college taught me a sense of style. And in the 80s, designer wear was all the rave. For Christmas, I bought my father a Calvin Klein pullover. Eager for him to open it and to be impressed, I stood over him as he tore open the wrapping. He lifted the neatly folded sweater and saw that there was nothing else underneath and said, “Oh no, there is some guy named Calvin running around in a Jim Lewis monogrammed sweater”!

Do you think you are the first person to make a mistake?  

I was not a perfect child growing up—but pretty close to itJ. One misstep in particular, I was petrified to tell my father about. And so I told my mother. She knew I could not stand to disappoint my father and so her punishment for me was for me to tell my father. I cried and begged for forgiveness before even telling him what I had done. When I finally told him, he looked me in the eyes and asked me, “Do you think that you are the first person to make a mistake?

This lesson in particular is one I must make sure my son understands—that we all make mistakes, and thankfully we serve a God who forgives us of our sins.

Share