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 tagged Diabetes

 

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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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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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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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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Come out May 18, 2013 to join a fabulous gathering of people with diabetes, medical professionals and researchers for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s DIABETES TODAY AND TOMORROW. This year’s theme is

Diabetes in the Age of Technology

This is an educational and networking conference for persons living with type 1 diabetes and insulin dependent type 2 diabetes, their families, and the medical care community.

Registration is free and can be done online at www.jdrfmichiganeast.com.

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