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

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DATING WITH DIABETES

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The scenario: The waiter arrives. He places the entrees in front of you and your date. You look at the food. You glance towards the bathrooms. What do you do? Do you check your blood glucose at the table or do you politely excuse yourself and hope he or she doesn’t think something is wrong?

Dating can be hard enough. Dating with diabetes puts another twist to things. In addition to the “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” conversations, should you initiate the “I have diabetes” conversation? If so, when do you bring it up? Before the appetizers? After the third date? On your wedding night?

Let Life Happen

On top of the “I have diabetes” conversation, there is the rest of the Diabetes 101 syllabus that you could offer your date (maybe wait until the plates are cleared). Bolusing. Carb counting. Hypoglycemia. The list could go on and on.

One approach to dating and diabetes is to let life happen and explain as needed. “I find that the majority of people are quite uneducated about diabetes and that when they see how nonchalant I am about everything, it piques their curiosity. They want to ask more questions,” shared Karen, a fifty-something from Wisconsin. “The way I look at it, I should manage my life, including my relationships, versus letting diabetes manage them. If they can’t handle that, they’re not the kind of person I want to be with anyway, so it wasn’t meant to be.”


 

From the Other Side: Tips on Dating a Person with Diabetes

Written by Howie, a thirty-something from Washington, DC, the significant other of a person with diabetes

  1. Learn as much as you can. The more you know, the better you can understand the physical and emotional experiences of your partner. It helps to share that common bond and provides comfort to your partner in discussing his/her feelings if they are going through extreme shifts in their blood sugar levels for example.
  2. Offer to become involved. Gauging how involved you should become in your partner’s blood glucose and meal planning can be difficult. Some partners might not want that much involvement, and others do. However, offering that support shows you care and can provide your partner an emotional lift. Sometimes I inquire about what my girlfriend’s glucose reading is after a test. If it is low, then I will offer to help her find something to eat or drink. If it is too high, then I know not to suggest having a meal right away.
  3. Be flexible surrounding meals. I generally eat on a structured schedule – breakfast before going to work, lunch around 11:30 and dinner when I get home from work. However, one with diabetes might not always be able to eat on such a structured schedule; it may depend on his/her blood glucose level at the particular time. In my relationship I have learned to be more flexible in my meal/snack schedule, but we have also communicated that to each other that if one person is hungry and the other isn’t (or can’t eat at that particular time), then it is acceptable to go our separate ways.

 

“When I watched Karen so casually measure out her dosage and poke her arm right through her clothing, I thought she’s one tough cookie!” Karen’s new fiancé Rob commented. “I had always hated shots. The idea of piercing the skin with a needle would make me cringe. But I found her more attractive as a result of the experience.”

Twenty-something Dayle from Washington, D.C., brought her boyfriend along for the ride of day-to-day living with diabetes. “When I first went on the pump in college, my boyfriend accompanied me to the training sessions. My diabetes educator found a loaner pump for my boyfriend so we spent the first few days pumping saline solution together. I think it helped him to develop understanding and empathy for my diabetes lifestyle.”

“Diabetes is not something that should be kept secret,” advised twenty-something Dana from Alabama, “unless you would rather say you’re just part of a not-so-secret international club that subscribes to rigorous blood glucose testing, reverence of A1C numbers, and a lifelong addiction to insulin!” jokes Dana.

By being open about your diabetes, you can help to make the other person feel more comfortable. Jim, a former boyfriend of a person with diabetes weighed in, “If the fact that she had diabetes made me feel uncomfortable, educating me on the various aspects simply resolved that problem.”

No big deal?

Let’s face it — diabetes is serious. But if you look healthy and act healthy, then it can be easy for your partner to forget it takes a lot of effort to maintain this level of good management.

“There is a downside to my openness and matter-of-fact attitude. My boyfriends have often assumed that because I’m always testing and bolusing — and because they’ve never seen me have a bad reaction, get sick, or lose consciousness — that diabetes is ‘no big deal,'” shared Miriam, a forty-something from Maryland.

“The guy I’m currently dating said that to me recently, adding that he thought I was ‘doing really well’ with my diabetes. I was surprised, because I often complain to him about my frequent high blood sugars and try to explain the destructive long-term consequences of less-than-optimally controlled diabetes.”

On the other hand, diabetes is not an automatic death sentence — for you or your love life. “When I was diagnosed with diabetes 3 years ago, I thought my love life was over,” commented Keith, from Indiana. “Who would knowingly date a ‘diabetic,’ right? But on a blind date, I made a short comment about my diabetes while I was reading the menu. I found out that my date had been diagnosed with diabetes when she was 15! We ended up talking for hours… and we even put a friendly wager on which one of us had the better A1C result at our next doctor’s appointment! I can only say that having diabetes actually helped me get that part of my life back.”

Love and Understanding

Finding someone who is compassionate can make a big difference when dealing with difficult situations. Having a sense of humor also helps!

“My guy’s ‘no big deal’ attitude did come in handy when I went on the pump last December,” Miriam said. “I was really worried that he would be turned off by the whole ‘medical-ness’ of it, but it doesn’t bother him at all. I, on the other hand, am still struggling with the logistics when it comes to sex and the pump!”

Recently, twenty-something Allison from Virginia was preparing for her wedding and contemplating the switch to a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system at the same time. “With the thought of having a family in the next five to ten years, my fiancé Ross became my biggest cheerleader and advocate when we decided I should try a CGM. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the pre-wedding budget!”

But Ross had different plans. Two days before the wedding, he presented Allison with a CGM starter kit as an early wedding gift. “I joked with Allison that I wanted to have an additional life insurance policy for the person I loved the most,” quipped Ross.

Needless to say, the wedding gift was a hit. “As Ross was taking off my garter at the reception, he checked the CGM that was stuck in my thigh holster to make sure everything was going smoothly,” said Allison. “Naturally, that made our guests cheer all the more!”

For more information or assistance, contact the American Diabetes Association National Call Center at 1-800-DIABETES.

 REPRINTED FROM THE AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION WEBSITE
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When you decide not to listen to your doctor’s advice and eat whenever you want to or miss doses of critical medication, what’s the big deal? You’re only hurting yourself, right? Wrong! YOUR NONCOMPLIANCE AFFECTS EVERYONE AROUND YOU!

 

A woman living in the sandwich generation (sandwiched by needing to take care of college students and aging parents) was perplexed because her mother complained that she never visited her father. The woman’s parents were both in their eighties and somehow Stephanie found it difficult between work and immediate family commitments to visit her parents.

 

Stephanie’s father suffered from insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetes and found it difficult to walk and to see due to the onset of neuropathy and retinopathy, complications of uncontrolled diabetes. He especially felt bad when Stephanie would abruptly end a phone call needing to return to work, and forgetting to return the call.

 

One day after receiving a tongue lashing from her mother about not visiting them and her father in particular, Stephanie decided to confide in a close friend about the situation. Stephanie’s friend listened intently and explained,

 

“Stephanie, I know you well and I know how much you love your parents. I also know that you find conflict challenging. Diabetes, left uncontrolled can lead to very debilitating illnesses. I believe that the reason that you haven’t made time for your father is because you have watched him ignore advice from his doctor, refuse to monitor his glucose and eat regularly. As a result, he walks with a cane and is losing his sight. He has passed out requiring EMS to treat ailments that wouldn’t occur if he better managed his diabetes.

 

What happens when people see an accident about to happen? When two trains are barreling down the track toward one another? They look away don’t they? No one wants to watch something bad happen. And so I think you subconsciously don’t visit your parents to avoid seeing the train wreck about to happen–what will likely happen to your father if he doesn’t get serious about controlling his diabetes.”

 

This holiday season, if you don’t take care of yourself for you, do it for someone who loves you.

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Jacquie Lewis-Kemp

Because I have been affected by both diabetes and chronic kidney disease, it has become my mission to help others by providing information and tips on how best to live with these conditions. Recognizing that all people who suffer from diabetes aren’t necessarily affected by kidney disease, and that not all people affected by chronic kidney disease developed it as a result of diabetes, I have separated the blog subjects into two separate blogs.

Over the coming weeks and by the first week in January, this website will be used primarily to buy books and other information products related to Diabetes Management and Chronic Kidney Disease and Transplant Living.  I will have two separate blog sites, one for Diabetes related matters and another for CKD, organ donation and transplant.

If you have subscribed to www.jlewiskemp.com, initially you will be subscribed to both blog sites, however feel free to only subscribe to the blog site you are interested in if it is only one of the subjects.

Look for my new blogs Diabetes Success and CKD Success.

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When first diagnosed with diabetes it is likely that you have to develop a new routine and change some bad habits. While many young people with Type 1 diabetes haven’t established a routine and so the prescribed routine from their doctor easily becomes their routine, often people newly diagnosed with Type 2, Gestational or Pre diabetes have a more difficult time making change to their established routines and habits.

Much like fad dieting, biting the bullet and deciding to try to eat the right food and  test like a robot three times a day, doesn’t create a routine and you are likely to slip back into old habits. On the other hand, understanding the reasons for eating certain foods and testing glucose levels with a purpose in mind will bring about permanent change.

According to author of Changing for Good, James Prochaska, PhD, there are six stages of change that a person has to go through in order to make permanent change and they are

  1. PRE CONTEMPLATION- recognizing that a change or routine is necessary.

  2. CONTEMPLATION – thinking about what that new routine might look like.

  3. PREPARATION – organizing thoughts and supplies necessary to begin the new routine.

  4. ACTION – Beginning to eat, test and exercise according to the new routine.

  5. MAINTENANCE – the action steps are now a daily routine with seamless modifications for schedule changes,

  6. TERMINATION – for some types of change like smoking cessation, the maintenance phase may no longer be necessary, however for Diabetes Control, the maintenance routine never ends and provides a very healthy lifestyle whether a person has diabetes or not.

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Although philosophies about the treatment of diabetes and maintenance technology have improved in my more than 40 years, you should understand the very staggering statistics that now exist.

  • •      Over 20 million Americans have some form of diabetes (most of them Type 2 diabetes) and 60 million Americans are now considered pre-diabetic. (5 million people have diabetes and don’t even know it!)
  • •      Diabetes kills more Americans every year than AIDS & Breast Cancer combined.
  • •      Diabetes is the #1 cause of new blindness in adults ages 20 to 74
  • •      Diabetes doubles the risk of heart attack and stroke. It is also the leading cause of kidney failure, and responsible for more than 60% of all non-traumatic lower limb amputations.

 

Regular checkups with your doctor can identify and perhaps diagnose a condition known as Pre Diabetes and allow you to prevent a diabetes diagnosis.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, careful and committed management of the condition is necessary to reduce your chances of long term complications such as kidney disease, blindness, amputation, heart attack, stroke and other disorders.

Symptoms of diabetes include constant thirst and frequent urination, headaches, dizziness and weight loss. If you’re not sure whether you have diabetes but have some or one of the symptoms, see your doctor and get tested.

 

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I will be hosting a health coaching demonstration targeted specifically for people with Chronic Kidney Disease (whether approaching kidney failuire, on dialysis, waiting for a kidney transplant or post transplant living) on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 3 pm,

I will also be hosting a virtual demonstration of health coaching for people with diabetes on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7pm.

Transplant Living Wheel

You can participate in an Introduction to Health Coaching on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 3pm by registering at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/160972280

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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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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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