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.

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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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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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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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Where medicine couldn’t go any

further, God stepped in to end the

 battle.

 

 

 

 

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What to eat when dinning out?

…from the U-M Comprehensive Diabetes Center

Tips for dining out

Adapted from a forthcoming publication by the U-M Adult Outpatient Diabetes Education Program.

Dining out can be one of life’s pleasures. You can enjoy yourself and still take care of your diabetes. It takes some planning and asking for what you need to achieve this goal. Also, the more you measure food portions at home, the better you can estimate portion sizes when dining out.

Here are some tips to get you started!

  • Choose a restaurant that offers      heart healthy options. Some helpful websites to help you find one are the      Healthy Dining Finder from the American Heart Association (HealthyDiningfinder.com)      or calorieking.com.

  • Some restaurants have their own      websites with menus that you can review in advance, or ask for a nutrition      guide at the restaurant.

  • Ask how a food is prepared and      steer away from gravies and cream sauces.

  • Read the menu creatively. Order      fresh fruit from the breakfast menu, or choose an appetizer and a salad as      a dinner entrée.

  • Choose a smaller portion from      the lunch menu, or split a meal with someone.

  • To control portions, ask for a      “to-go container” to be served with your meal. When your meal      arrives, portion out what you would like to eat, then put the rest in the      container.

  • Ask for substitutions. If your      meal comes with French fries, ask if you can substitute vegetables.

  • Choose no-calorie beverages      such as water, club soda or diet pop.

  • Be choosy at salad bars. Choose      greens, vegetables and beans. Limit the higher calorie foods such as      prepared salads (for example, potato or macaroni salad).

  • Plan ahead for desserts and eat      slowly; share your dessert with someone.

  • Avoid the      “value-sized” options (supersized, jumbo, giant, deluxe) and      order a regular or junior-sized sandwich instead.

  • Skip the French fries, choose      fruit or a salad with low-calorie dressing or flavored vinegar instead.

  • Choose grilled chicken instead      of breaded, fried chicken.

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After living with diabetes for 32 years of my life, I received a pancreas transplant. Doctors don’t routinely manage diabetes with a pancreas transplant, however because I also needed and received a kidney transplant, my transplant team’s full plan of treatment for my kidney failure was to do a follow-on pancreas transplant. The pancreas transplant would normalize my blood sugar and best protect my new kidney.

 

I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 7. And so I grew up as a normal active child, but quickly learned a diabetes routine that my parents created for me. I also grew up with a very remote and improbable goal of a cure for diabetes. My diabetes would likely be something that I would need to manage for the rest of my life.

 

It has been 10 years since my pancreas transplant and no, I’m not cured of diabetes. Instead I have diabetes treated with a pancreas transplant. “Diabetes treated with a pancreas transplant” because if anything were to happen to that pancreas, I would return to insulin injections and my body has endured 32 years of elevated blood sugars and insulin dependence.

 

Recently I was reminded of my body’s condition as it relates to diabetes. On my way to the airport for a health coaching network event, I noticed a familiar sight in my field of vision–a floater.  A floater is debris or possibly blood floating in the vitreous fluid of the eye. I was sure that I had a broken blood vessel bleeding into my eye.  I called my retina specialist’s office and they agreed to fit me in to have it checked out.  I missed my flight and went immediately to the retina specialist. At that point, they couldn’t even see the bleeder. So I continued my travel plans standby.

 

At my connection in Chicago, my vision had gotten worse. I could barely see the signs directing me to the gate to board my flight to Las Vegas. By the time of my presentation I couldn’t even see my slides on the projector screen. I knew the material so I winged it.

 

I was baffled and somewhat afraid because doctors assured me that my long term complications would freeze right where they were after the pancreas transplant. They wouldn’t reverse, but they wouldn’t get any worse.

 

At home I returned to the doctor and he was able to diagnose what happened. This bleeder was not a new blood vessel that had grown onto my retina, as in diabetic retinopathy. This was in fact an old blood vessel that had been treated 15 or more years ago with laser. Apparently in the normal aging process the vitreous fluid in the eye pulls away from the retina. When this occurred in my eye, it disturbed the blood vessel treated with laser, causing it to bleed again.

 

And so the treatment was to wait for my vitreous fluid to absorb the blood that was blocking and clouding my vision. Here’s a description of what this bleeder looked like:

Day 1

A black string hanging from the top of my eye that remained in   my field of vision wherever I looked

Day 2

Several black strings hanging from the top of my field of   vision.

Day 3

Fewer black strings hanging, but the rest of my vision was like   opening your eyes under lake water.

Day 4

Black strings were turning brown with smaller dots around it;   vision was like it was foggy outside.

Day 5

Very few brown strings remain, able to see computer, but felt   like there was soap scum on my eyeballs.

Day 6

A few brown strings at very top of my field of vision; other   vision very clear.

 

Amazing, they tell me that the eye is the fastest healing part of the body!

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Enjoy this video as transplant recipients say thank you.

Wolverines for Life encourages you to sign up to be an organ and tissue donor, donate blood and get screened for bone marrow donation.

You can be a hero, and save a life … and it’s easy to do. For more information go to www.wolverinesforlife.org

 

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My son celebrated a milestone birthday, 21. And in Michigan that means getting rid of the probationary portrait driver’s license for a regular landscape one. He made another adult decision while at the Secretary of State: He signed the registry to become an organ donor.

Like me, he too has seen both sides of organ donation. He witnessed his mother’s second chance at life, thanks to the generosity of his uncle and a complete stranger. He also understood his grandmother’s gift of life so that other families would be as fortunate as his.

Here is another story of a famous donor and the lives he saved.

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 Des Moines Iowa’s Mercy Hospital performed an historic chain of kidney transplants. Beginning with an altruistic donor (someone who wants to donate life because they are healthy and able), patients with willing and able donors who do not match find complete strangers to donate kidneys to until all the would be donors have donated to someone, and those with kidney disease have received kidney transplants. This new vehicle of kidney transplantation will save many more lives as it puts together donors and recipients when they might have never connected. Here is KCCI tv in Des Moines, Iowa’s accunt:

For the first time ever in Iowa, doctors performed five kidney transplant operations with living donors in three days. What makes it so special is how complete strangers gave of themselves to save five lives.

 

It all started with this one man who had the desire to save one life. Tyler Weig, 30, was so thankful for his own health that he wanted to give the gift of health to a complete stranger. “Going through operation to remove my kidney to give it someone who needs it more than I do,” said Weig. “Right now it’s starting to hit me, what it means, how special it is.”

 

On Monday, Weig went into surgery to have his kidney removed, to be transplanted into a patient who needed it to survive. While Dr. Cass Franklin removed his kidney, another patient waited to receive it.

The Mercy staff put the healthy organ into an ice bath to prepare it. A short time later, Doctors began the long, complicated transplant surgery on 42-year-old Lance Beyer of Pella.

Beyer had kidney disease for 25 years. After a successful surgery, two days later, the two met for the first time. “So you’re the donor? Appreciate it…thanks a lot…it’s working real good,” Beyer told Weig.

But how do you thank someone for the gift of life? Beyer said he couldn’t put it into words.

“I see his family, what he’ll be able to do now makes me happy,” said Weig.

 

Weig’s desire to save one person set off a chain reaction, a domino effect, that lead to another kidney transplant that same day. Jay Lindahl, of Boone, was wheeled in to receive another kidney. His donor was the wife of the first recipient, Lance Beyer. “You can give your kidney to someone. Someone will help my husband in that way. It’s a no-brainer,” said Julie Beyer.

 

Her kidney wasn’t a match for her husband, so she paid it forward to help a stranger instead.

After that pair of operations Monday, two more kidney transplants were performed Tuesday. On Wednesday, even one more.

 

None of the recipients knew his donor, but four donors were friends or family of another patient in the chain who they wanted to help, but didn’t match. Mercy will hold a news conference Friday morning to introduce the other six patients and donors.

 

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