Open…your mind and heart, Greg Glassman.

I emerge from an eventful half-year – new job, new baby, nay — LIFE, all to write more about diabetes and Nick Jonas?  YES.

Both these things happened last week:

What have I tagged in Shazam to deserve this notification?

What have I tagged in Shazam to deserve this notification?

Greg Glassman, CEO of CrossFit, you are a ignorant and heartless bigot.

No matter how many medical facts you want to spew, there are people behind these diseases, and a stupid tweet like this does not incite “discussion”, raise “awareness”, or save lives.  (Truthfully, it doesn’t make me want to do CrossFit either, so it really fails as a marketing ploy as well.)

Talking Point: If you’re fat, you’re gonna get diabetes.  That is, if you didn’t already have it because of your fat laziness.

There are people who are thin and diabetic.  There are people who are obese and not diabetic.  T2D is simply insulin-resistance or your body just not producing enough insulin.  Lifestyle factors are part of it, but if you are an overweight person with low activity, you don’t necessarily catch diabetes.  You might be facing death for other reasons unrelated to diabetes though, so cut that out, if you can.

Talking Point: Excess sugar causes Type II diabetes.

It is among the causes of Type II diabetes.  But here’s the thing.  What is “excess” sugar?    The problem with T2D is that you don’t know what’s excess until you totally overdo it and your insulin says, “uh-uh, not dealing with that”.  Until I looked at my diet as a whole, it was really hard to grasp what “excess” sugar was, as I was not regularly downing sugary sodas, donuts, or ice cream (until after baby, that is.  Diabetes vacation!  Working on that.)

It took counting macros for me to realize where the sources of sugar were, and how deeply I had to cut them down to maintain control on my numbers.  And yet, plenty of other people could eat my daily intake and not be diabetic.  Huh.  Lucky them.

Talking Point:  Genetics.  Your momma’s so fat…

What’d you say about my momma??  Yeah, she has T2D too.  So does my dad.  Lucky me.  It means that with work, I can control my T2D but all the people who say “reverse” and “avoid”…I’ll have to manage it forever.  So yeah, maybe if CrossFit wanted to give a diabetic discount, the discourse from Greg Glassman would be great, but that’s not what he’s proposing, so…

Back to Greg Glassman.

Yes.  So per the previous talking points, ignorance.  Willful ignorance.  Fight ignorance by educating yourself – if you want to know more, here are more mythbusters from the American Diabetic Association.

This brings us to the first thing that happened.  I’m sorry for insulting you on my Facebook feed, Nick Jonas.  Nick Jonas has so wonderfully stepped up for T1 diabetics and called out Glassman. Of course, I still have issues with T1s who are all like, nah, I’m not fat like those T2s, but for the most part, go diabetic solidarity.  (But seriously, Nick Jonas, who is your lyricist??  Get a new one.)

ALSO – pour a glass for “dead homies?”  I can’t EVEN at this moment with the privilege and cultural appropriation and INAPPROPRIATENESS of that statement in this world that we’re living in right now.  I hope to tackle that in much smaller chunks, over time, as the red subsides from my vision and I can see the keyboard to articulate things clearly.

And there’s the heartlessness.  I previously posted about Type 2 diabetes being treated and prevented with two luxuries in our modern world:  time and money.  Not opening a Coke doesn’t address either of these luxuries that many people in our country do not have.  And neither do many of the causes that your CrossFit franchises have supported – cancer, education in Kenya, veterans, firefighters.  All of these are noble causes, but not helping diabetics.  CrossFit itself doesn’t really help diabetics – gym memberships are $200/month in my neighborhood.  No diabetic discount.

And the bigot.  Oh, the bigotry.  I didn’t even want to link the initial tweet, but just go to CrossFit’s Twitter to see how much the organization (and I don’t care who’s handling that account, they speak for CrossFit) has doubled down on the perpetuation of their “correctness”.  Ugh, no one likes that guy who has to be right all the time, even when they’re wrong.

There are many things that have happened in this half-year that I want to write about – education, racism, violence and hatred, and the inspiration of my everyday work.  I chose this topic because I have a fairly concise thought about it, and it comes down to this:

Shame for shame’s sake is not an effective motivator.  It is only effective if it forces people to be accountable to themselves and others.  Putting a general “shaming” statement out and then doubling-down and calling it “saving some of the 1/3 of Americans who will get T2 diabetes” is just narrow-minded, ignorant, and UNHELPFUL.  

Much like the theme of my blog, if there’s nothing helpful to say, say nothing at all.

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2015: Staying true to myself

It’s been a while, WPeeps.  My life has been too busy for me to make time for me, as I’d feared it would become.  As arbitrary as the gateway of New Year’s is, it’s always a good time for reflection.  I want to say so many things about 2014, but I’d really like to talk about what’s ahead in 2015.  So let’s get on with the recap and pre-cap:

Looking back at 2014: How’d I do?

My non-resolutions for 2014.  I didn't include "happy".  Maybe I should have, or maybe I am assuming that it will be a given.  Hm.

Look at that optimism, 1 year ago!

Here are some of the things that have happened in 2014.

  • I’m back in the classroom, teaching 6th grade math full-time.  I’m using my classroom time to learn more about how students learn, and to get reconnected to schools.  I go to work daily knowing what needs to be achieved in a day, and I try my best to do it.  I’m really enjoying being part of a lovely and supportive staff that treats each other like family — the good and bad of family — and I accept dynamics for what they are.  I work (mostly) efficiently and constantly from about 7am to 6pm, but I try to leave work at work, and spend minimal time outside of work on work things.  CHECK: Professional, stable, sustainable, prosperous, productive, appreciative, confident, educational.  NOT QUITE:  less angry…or clean.
  • I’m going to be part of a founding team at a new high-tech school next year, and serving as the head of instructional technology.  I am excited to flex all my experiences building culture and systems for students and staff, and grow and learn in this new professional opportunity.  CHECK:  Professional, proactive, productive, fearless, confident, and exciting!  NOT QUITE:  fearless.  Not quite fearless.  There is some fear that is not quite latent.  It could be disguised as excitement.  Or gas.
  • I had a huge closet edit in June – my friend Kattie came over and brutally edited out two-thirds of my closet, and made me throw away things that I loved dearly, like a lot of my hand-knits that really didn’t fit well (and were mostly boleros because I got lazy about finishing objects…and decided they were long enough).  In addition to the closet edit, I did a large makeup edit as well and have had more fun learning how to use my makeup and wearing makeup.  There’s more editing to be done, but the purge was a good start.  CHECK:  Fashionable, appreciative, confident, reflective.  NOT QUITE:  Well, fashionable is always a work in progress.  Maybe I should stick to confident.  I feel better about my clothes and makeup.

    So much delicate work.  No, it doesn't fit, and it never did.  Why didn't I just make it longer??

    Yes, I made this.  So much delicate work. No, it doesn’t fit, and it never did. Why didn’t I just make it longer??

  • There’s a baby on the way in 2015.  Any day now in the next 5 weeks of 2015, actually.  This has forced me to manage my diabetes in a rather rapid and drastic fashion.  I now do multiple finger-sticks a day.  I take insulin regularly (at least 4 more needles a day).  I’ve even managed to lower my A1C to a normal level (from a high of 13+ to last recorded 5.4). I’m not even sure what that means for my diabetes post-pregnancy.  One hopes for “cure” or reversal, but I have come to terms with what lifetime management of the disease might look like.  I have managed to only gain about 12 pounds throughout this pregnancy by keeping mildly active (I guess my gym apathy earlier in the spring was due to regular exhaustion) and watching what I eat somewhat carefully.  I use a Fitbit with some regularity to help monitor my insulin needs as well as try to maintain some baseline activity.  CHECK:  healthy, proactive, physically “active”, and definitely (re)productive.  NOT QUITE:  fearless and exciting.  More on that as we move to 2015.
Roscoe is no longer going to be the baby.

Roscoe is no longer going to be the baby.

2015:  O. M. G.  What have we done?!

Yeah.  A baby.  I could tell all the stories of what it’s been like so far, but after doing my share of surfing around on the internets, it’s really nothing earth-shattering that’s happened in this duration of gestation.  I’ve been REALLY tired.  I’ve seen MANY doctors.  Everything looks NORMAL.  Worst symptom:  rhinitis and exhaustion.  Best symptom: getting my ass in gear about my diabetes.

So I guess I’ll just tackle the hopes and fears for 2015.

I fear:

  • That I won’t be able to be myself anymore.  All the things that I have just come to terms with about myself over the last (nearly 4) decades — that’s all about to be “something else” that I don’t even know.  I worry that my foodie love life is over.  I worry that I will never travel again.  I worry that my crafting days are over.  I worry that my hard-working days are over, and I’ll have to be more flexible about my “get it done” compulsion.  I haven’t finished a craft since June or so.  I’m missing a 2nd snowboard season in a row.  Life is over as I know it.  Everyone keeps telling me this, and I get it.  I even get the fact that I don’t even “get it” yet.

    Okay, I finished ONE project since June - a set of boo-boo bunnies for my Secret Santa.  The cats want to eat them.

    Okay, I finished ONE project since June – a set of boo-boo bunnies for my Secret Santa. The cats want to eat them.

  • That my house will never be clean again.  That the construction here will never be finished due to time, money, and priorities.  That our “home” is on indefinite hold.  I have a few posts in draft mode brewing about this “lifestyle” that is our home, but I haven’t fleshed them out yet.  In short, we bought a fixer-upper, and we’ve been working on it for upwards of 2 years.  We’re not done.  We’ll never be done.  And now, we’re racing time to get ourselves to a state where we can live here with a baby.  I’m confident we’ll make do if we don’t make it in time, but it’s definitely a fear that weighs on my mind constantly.  We haven’t had many guests over since March because it’s been that much of a disaster.
  • I won’t know how to be a mother.  I’m not excited yet — it’s mostly been panic and fear.  Every melting down child around me that I’ve seen in the past few months paralyzes me with fear.  My kid is going to be that guy in the grocery store melting down because they can’t have something NOW.  My kid is going to be the one that makes themselves so anxious that they force themselves to vomit.  My kid is going to be THAT GUY, whatever that guy is.  So. Afraid.  And I’d like to say that I have high parenting standards, but I know that 1) I have no idea what my standards are at this point, and 2) every single kid is different.  So regardless of genetics or my upbringing, I have NO IDEA.  Terrifying.  And this is not the extent of my fears about my child, but it’s a starting point for me to articulate some of this fear.

I hope:

  • I can still have my own goals for 2015.  I started a list on my Notes of things I wanted to accomplish in 2015.

    2015 so far

    Notice how “baby” is one word of one line in 2015? I’m sure it’s not going to be like that in real life.

  • I can still grow at work now that work-life balance is about to take on an entirely different meaning.  I have so many things that I want out of work for next year, for myself, for my community, and for the students that we are going to serve in the school.  It is exciting, and I hope that I have the capacity to accomplish what I want or accept my limitations and still do my best.
  • I will have time to write and reflect and save memories for the future.  I have taken very few “maternity” pictures or recorded few moments in the latter half or 2014…but I need to work on preserving memories for people beyond myself now.
  • I will learn more about our growing family and what it means to be a family beyond cats (and dogs).

We’ve already had a lot of challenges getting ready, and I KNOW we’ll never be ready, but oh well, time’s up and here we go…I hope we’re prepared for 2015.  Because it’s January 1, and 2015 is here, and it’s time to buckle up for the crazy ride.

Happy New Year, happy 2015 to all!

diabetic privilege: the socio-economic reality

Farmgirl Fare bread recipe, it was nice knowing you while I could. Baked goods, I miss you so much.

Farmgirl Fare bread recipe, it was nice knowing you. Baked goods, I miss you so much.

I’ve been meaning to write more about the diabetes lately, but it’s been so all-consuming.  Since my last post about my diabetes class (which got cancelled after that first session, BTW, what a let-down!) I have actually started insulin treatment.  My irrational fear of needles and blood has morphed into 4+ finger-sticks a day, plus 4 shots of insulin a day.  Under doctor’s orders, I’m still in the “tight control” range, meaning that I need to keep blood glucose (BG) really low, and I have to send a report to the doc every week.  I’ve been using MyNetDiary (Diabetes Edition!) to dutifully record all my BG readings, my insulin administration, and my food/carbohydrate consumption. I’ve been seeing an endocrinologist who reviews my BG logs and makes suggestions.  I’ve been seeing a nutritionist who checks in on my BG logs and my food logs and makes more suggestions.

What was supposed to be “6 weeks off” this summer has turned into a constant battle of “what to eat”, “how much to eat”, and “when to eat”.  At the moment, I’m still in the battle of counting and logging carbs, and it is stunning to see how my years of living to eat has been detrimental to my health.  I’m no crazy glutton (ok, maybe a little), but I was definitely not cautious when it came to looking at the nutritional value of what I needed.  I once read (skimmed, or maybe overheard) something about Clara Davis’ 1939 study where babies left to choose from an array of healthy foods would choose what they nutritionally needed, and somehow justified all my whims using this (unsound) argument.

My carbohydrate goals for the day are 30g for breakfast, 45g for lunch, and 45g for dinner, with 2 or 3 15g snacks between meals or before bed.

What this looks like in reality:  eggs.  Lots of eggs.

Just kidding.  Sort of.

After a few weeks of fastidiously measuring and reading labels and typing things into my phone like a tech-obsessed nerdulon, I’m getting better at figuring out that almost all things are possible, when choices are made.  A few things I’ve learned:

  • Breakfast can be a very pathetic looking 1/4c of granola-based cereal and 1/4c of milk.  Or it can be a blueberry waffle with peanut butter instead of syrup.  Or it can be 9 tater tots, 1 fried egg, and 2 breakfast sausages. There are days when I want one and days when I want the other.
  • 56g of pasta (1 serving) is less sad when it’s bulked up with other friendly ingredients.
  • A McDonald’s burger is not out of the question.  Fries with your burger—now that’s out of the question.
  • When I’m told can’t have carbs, that’s when I’m going to want to start eating all sorts of fruit.  Also, only eating 3-5 cherries for a snack is really sad.
  • There are many things that you can’t adequately account for with an app:  dim sum, non-chain restaurants, soup. Sometimes, you just have to hope that you did OK.  It would be more fun to eat these things without the worry and the guilt.  Perhaps that will dissipate in time.
  • When in doubt, get the hangar steak, and substitute the fries with a vegetable.

It’s this last point that really gets me thinking about diabetes and nutrition education, and the phrase which I’ve adopted: “diabetic privilege”.  The truth of the matter is, I’m able to adapt for my health quickly and (fairly) successfully because I have two very precious resources right now:  time and money.

Time

I’m currently in a 6-week phase where I don’t have to report to a daily job.  (This ends next week.)  I started on my current insulin-taking, carb-counting regimen in mid-June, after I had stopped working.  This has given me the ability to do several things:

  1. Read all the nutrition labels.  ALL OF THEM.  My first grocery trip probably took me about 2 hours. I had to read the labels to see what I could eat, what I could portion out by serving size, and what had to be avoided right out.
  2. Figure out what I can choose from when we go out for meals, provided that there is a menu online and that there is some basic nutrition information available online.
  3. Try out new recipes of things I had never made before, using all the low-carb substitutions (coconut flour, almond flour, flax seed).  Truthfully, I have not found anything I have loved yet.  Maybe the coconut flour mug cake, with whipped cream on top.
  4. Go to multiple specialty doctors to learn more about getting my diabetes under control.  Read about diabetes online, participate in forums, and generally learn more about the effects that different types of food choices and food timing will affect my BG.  I have been devouring diabetes knowledge like Johnny 5 lately.  (Yes, that does totally date me.)

I could not do any of these things without the luxury of time, and I am fortunate to have a support system that allows me to take this kind of time.  Soon, I will be back to work, without this kind of time, but the knowledge framework is already there, and I know that things will get faster as I get used to them.

Money

Obviously, money makes it a lot easier to do many things, but specific to my diabetic journey, I have been able to:

  1. Buy a lot of different kinds of foods to “experiment” with.  On that first 2 hour grocery trip, I had a hard time distinguishing between things that were necessary now, and things that “I could have”—so I bought a LOT of things.  Some food went bad, some were way too expensive, but the glamour of having things that I could still eat was really difficult to resist.
  2. Not worry about medication “experimentation”, because my insurance is good, and covers a good portion of my insulin and supplies.  In addition to that, if I use more test strips than prescribed, buying strips off-prescription is not prohibitively expensive, so I have not had to curtail my BG testing due to worries about supplies or money.
  3. Just eat a steak when I’m confused.  Yeah, it’s really nice to be able to say, “hey, I don’t know, I’ll just have a steak.”  I mean, we’re not made of money, but an occasional (or more than occasional) steak won’t break the bank for us right now.

What happens to people who don’t have these luxuries?  The fact that I have diabetic privilege does not escape me, and it plagues me to some extent.  No, I’m not going to sacrifice my own care because others do not have the ability to maintain this standard of care, but it really makes me feel for the diabetic parent who doesn’t have time to read the label or spend 2 hours grocery shopping, measuring, and recording in order to stay on track.  Or the many many families who do not have the ability to say “I’ll just have a steak” when they are faced with a number of carb-heavy bad choices that are fast, cheap, and available.

And what happens to these people when they are forced to choose from bad choices?  There is so much judgment in nutrition choices.  You can’t buy the food you need to eat to manage your diabetes?  Well, then you chose this health for yourself and you gave yourself diabetes/obesity.  You just need to choose better.  Or worse yet, you must not be smart enough to make the right choices, here’s someone to tell you what to do.

I get frustrated with memes/comments/things that blame people for their health like it’s always about choices, but there is so much more to it than that.  I’m not obese (well, actually, according to BMI, I AM obese, I guess…I’m just big-boned) and my diabetes is genetic.  Many ethnic groups are pre-disposed to Type II diabetes.

I wouldn’t say I feel lucky that I have diabetes, but I definitely feel lucky that under my circumstances, I’m well-equipped to treat myself properly.  So lucky and so grateful.

 

Tracy, I don’t know how to say this…

Well, now we know what we’re dealing with.

In December, my nurse practitioner told me I was required to attend this “wellness” series on diabetes management—and so they signed me up for 4 two-hour classes on Wednesdays in January.  Since I’m such a perennial rule-follower, I put them into my calendar and grouchily prepared to attend the class without really thinking, “how can they REQUIRE me to attend?  Are they going to stop treating me if I refuse to attend these classes? Are there even consequences to disobedience?”  Nope.  None of those questions really popped into my head.  What a dumb goody-goody I am.

Truthfully, I haven’t really come to terms with my diabetes “diagnosis”, which has morphed over the last 8+ years from “you’re pre-diabetic, and we should monitor this” to full-blown Type II diabetes at some unknown point.  It’s like an addiction cliché of not taking that first step and admitting that I have a problem. I faithfully take medication, sporadically go through exercise phases…and do very little to nothing about my diet.  I don’t monitor my blood glucose partially because I hate finger sticks and the sight of my own blood, and partially because blood glucose monitoring is for people who have diabetes, and nope nope nope, that’s definitely not me.

Well, since one of the class rules was “Vegas rules” (what is discussed in class stays in class), I assume that blogging about this violates the rules. Clearly, I won’t be divulging anyone else’s medical history here on my blog.  I am going to declare that all other ridiculousness is fair game, though.  Here goes me, taking that first step on the road to recovery.

So last night I went to my first class, and I’d been dreading it this entire week.  I had been making sales calls all day at work, which is pretty much my worst nightmare, yet I would have rather stayed and made more cold sales calls rather than attending this class.

When I got there, it was immediately worse than I thought. Instead of the “wellness management” that was advertised to me, there was a large handwritten sign saying: LIVING WITH DIABETES.  All caps. No pretense, just spelled out in half-dried-out EXPO marker on chart paper. Even more appalling when I entered the room—there were only TWO OF US in the class, and TWO instructors, meaning that my plan to refuse to participate and knit quietly in the back of the classroom was completely thrown out the window.  At that point, I really just wanted to die(abetes).

Before I go on with my critique of the diabetes management curriculum, I will say that the two instructors and my classmate were extremely lovely and encouraging and positive, which was good, because it meant that I wanted to cry less than that first moment that I walked into the room.

"Oh, they think, 'this is candy, we're having fun!'"

“Oh, they think, ‘this is candy, we’re having fun!'”

The entire lesson plan of the two-hour class basically centered around a map taped to the table, with a title something like “Diabetes: A Conversation Map”, probably with the hopes of transforming the learning into an interactive and exciting game-like experience.  The worst part of this were the number of “Myth vs. Fact” cards which I got incorrect.  This irked both the Asian and the teacher parts of my persona.  Wrong answers?  Inconcieveable!  AND, the cards were totally leading and ambiguously worded at best, with gems similar to the following:

  • Diabetes is caused by problems with blood glucose.  (Answer: myth – it’s a problem with insulin.  That is semantics, people!  Insanity!)
  • Insulin causes complications (Answer: myth – apparently it’s the blood glucose that causes the complications.  MORE SEMANTICS!)
  • People with diabetes can eat whatever they want, especially carbs (Answer: fact.  Haha, just kidding.  I wish.)

There was even a place on the map for a brief discussion about “unpacking” the feelings surrounding our diabetes diagnoses, complete with little drawings of baggage labeled guilt, anger, frustration, sadness, hopelessness…really? REALLY??  (I guess my feelings include…anger…and frustration.)

I don’t know what to make of the whole experience.  By the end of class, I made a “goal” (a promise??  who’s checking?? consequences??  Ackk, I’m still going to do it.  G-D rule-follower…)  to check my blood sugar 3x/week for the next two weeks and report back.  They asked me to consider whether I’m terrified of the needle or terrified of the actual number for my blood glucose result.  I don’t really have an answer to that right now.  I guess I’ll have to puzzle that out as I stare at the teeny-tiny needle in the lancet thing as I psych myself out to push the button over the next two weeks.

I’m not really ready to be a diabetic.  I had a fat load of McDonald’s hypocrisy for dinner last night in a fit of rebellion.  (Oooh, such a baaad girl. A true rebel to be feared.  Fear my Double Quarter Pounder.)

Well, that was a difficult first step.  Deciding to actually blog about it is also part of that first step, and thanks to Bon for telling me that this shit is hilarious and that I should definitely write about it.

Because, now we know what we’re dealing with.