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Naked Shower.

I took a Naked Shower today.

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Oh, here we go again,” You’re probably thinking. “Crazy Lady and her TMI. EVERYBODY takes a shower naked!

But that’s where you’d be horribly and irrefutably wrong. NOT everybody gets to be naked in the shower. My readers with type 1 diabetes on insulin pumps and /or CGMSs know this all too well.

So getting back to my point, I took a Naked Shower today and it was AMAZING.

A Naked Shower, by my definition, is a shower in which you are completely naked and unattached to any medical device AND with no medical device accessory stuck to your body. I have had type 1 diabetes for 35 years and for the last 15 years have worn an insulin pump. For the last ten years I’ve worn an insulin pump AND a Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (CGMS). These items are stuck to or attached to my body nearly every moment of every single day.

Once in a great while, there exists a day when my CGMS sensor dies at the same time my insulin pump runs out of insulin AND I need to get in the shower. It is a magical serendipitous event that occurs rarely (maybe two to three times a year) and means that I get to remove the sticking-out sticky accoutrements of both devices and be utterly and completely naked in the shower. It is a wondrous thing that I can’t explain. To be able to scrub clean every service without worrying about dislodging something from its designated location – well, it’s a freedom those without T1D probably can’t understand.

Today, as I scrubbed, I thought about the illusive Naked Shower and how while these devices can be a burden, they also make life with T1D so much more livable – both literally and figuratively. I suppose it’s a love/hate relationship, but one I feel privileged to be alive to be part of. Yesterday, coincidentally, was a banner day in the diabetes world. The FDA approved the first automated insulin delivery device. This is what we refer to as the artificial pancreas. All of these devices exist due to donations to organizations like JDRF.

Donations that come from supporters like you.

This year I will take part in my 35th Walk to raise money to cure diabetes. The JDRF South Central Texas Chapter’s One Walk is an amazing event for thousands of people with type 1 diabetes and their supporters. Make a donation to my team today and help every body (See? Did you see what I did there?!?) look forward to a lifetime of Naked Showers, a lifetime free of medical devices, shots, carbohydrate counting, complications and crippling medical expenses.

Visit http://www2.jdrf.org/goto/Kelsey to find out more and make your donation today.

Let’s work together toward a future filled with Naked Showers for everyone.

Thank you.

So in the last post, I explained what type 1 diabetes (T1D) is. Let’s keep moving forward now and discuss the difference between T1D and type 2 diabetes.

When I speak to elementary schools about the difference I first explain that type 1 diabetes occurs most often in kids but can occur in adults as well. Then I explain that type 2 diabetes occurs most often in adults but can occur in kids too. And I go on to explain that we are seeing in increase in type 2 diabetes in children and that’s mostly due to more inactive lifestyles and poor eating habits which lead to type 2 diabetes. AND THEN I do a little song and a dance (no, not literally) about eating healthy and exercising and helping to prevent the disease.

THERE. Right there. THAT’S probably the BIGGEST difference between both diseases. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly, and exercising regularly.

T1D can’t be prevented.

Type 2 diabetes is more common. T1D accounts for 5 to 10 people out of 100 with diabetes. If you’re sitting at home with your calculator you can then correctly assess that type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 people out of 100 with diabetes. In T1D, the body stops producing insulin pretty much altogether. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and/or the body stops using the insulin it is producing effectively.

BOTH versions of the disease are plagued with the same complications if not properly managed; blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, amputations, heart disease, stroke and a whole lot more.

Let’s clarify a few common misconceptions:

  • Not all overweight people will develop type 2 diabetes.
    • It’s true. Scientists are finding that while there is no specific single gene that causes type 2 diabetes, there are variations of several genes can increase your risk of developing the disease. If these genes aren’t present, it might not matter how much extra mass the body is carrying.
  • Not all people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.
    • Also true. I know several people who have a normal BMI and developed type 2 diabetes. This has to do with those genes mentioned above. Sometimes these genes just don’t need an environmental excuse to activate.
  • Type 2 diabetes has no cure
    • TRUE. I dislike intensely when I hear doctors saying that if a person with type 2 diabetes loses weight, they’ll be cured. Studies have shown that this is simply not true. Once a person develops type 2 diabetes they will always have type 2 diabetes. They may be able to go off insulin or oral medication at some point and manage the disease with diet and exercise, but the disease is there to stay.

Now, here’s the question I ALWAYS get when I talk about both types of diabetes:

Which one is worse?

To that, I always answer the same way:

Whichever version you or your loved one has.

Want to make a difference?

Donate to or join my JDRF Walk & 5K Run to Cure Diabetes Team

Okay, let’s get this party started off with a refresher course on the basics, shall we? I hear a lot of collective groaning out there, but are you THAT sure that you REALLY know what type 1 diabetes (T1D) is? For my T1D friends, feel free to check my work. But for everyone else, really, read it. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. That right there usually comes as a surprise to many people. This means that I didn’t eat too much or the wrong kinds of foods. I didn’t take poor care of myself and I wasn’t born with it. Well, I was born with a defective gene but that didn’t come into effect until I was seven years old. Many people with T1D remember being sick with a virus shortly before their diagnosis. I am no exception. I remember being on a tennis court with a friend one day that summer and telling my mom I wasn’t feeling well. Sure enough, I had a fever. The fever lasted three days and then all was good again. Until it wasn’t.

My immune system was apparently so proud of the work it did eradicating that virus that it wanted to do more and do it well. My immune system took a good hard look at the insulin-producing cells (islet cells) of my pancreas, determined them to be foreign, and destroyed them.

Now let’s pause there for a second and talk about insulin and why it’s important. When I go around to schools and talk to kids about diabetes I like to refer to insulin as a “golden key”. So imagine that the cells of your body are locked up tight and imagine that when you eat, insulin runs through your body like a magical key rapidly unlocking your cells so that the nutrients from the food you eat can nourish you and allow the glucose from food to enter the cells and be used for energy.

Without insulin, the glucose builds up in the blood stream and never gets into the cells. The cells starve and the build up of glucose in the blood stream can become deadly. When this process began for me, I lost a LOT of weight and I didn’t have a lot to lose in the first place. I was thirsty ALL THE TIME. Not a, “Gee, I’d really like a glass of water.” kinda thirst but a get-kicked-out-of-day-camp-for-pushing-kids-out-of-the-way-to-get-to-the-bug-juice-first kinda thirst. (True story. And if you don’t know what bug juice is, you are a very lucky person indeed.) This thirst is caused by the kidneys’ desperate attempt to create more urine to flush the dangerous build up of glucose out of your system. I was hungry and eating all the time, peeing all the time, losing weight (even though I was eating a ton) and generally just wanted to sleep.

So, I was diagnosed with T1D. This meant that for the rest of my life (or until there’s a cure) I would need to take insulin through shots or an insulin pump in order to stay healthy or even just alive. The body cannot survive without any insulin. Staying alive, however, is not the only goal of living with type 1 diabetes. A person with T1D must do their absolute best to monitor their blood glucose levels, insulin dosages, food intake, exercise, stress levels, illnesses, and thousands of other factors to keep their levels in “target range”. This effort is essential not only to feel good, but also to avoid dangerous long-term complications such as blindness, nerve damage, damage to organs such as the heart and kidneys and a myriad of other health issues.

There currently is no cure, T1D is a chronic disease. The care of T1D has changed A LOT in the almost 33 years since I was diagnosed and keeping my blood glucose levels under control has gotten easier – but it’s still not easy and never will be. I’ll explain more about how I manage my diabetes in another post, but I credit organizations like JDRF for much of the technology and medications I use to treat this disease. JDRF’s highest priority remains funding research to deliver a cure for T1D and its complications. At the same time, JDRF is also focused on developing better treatments that will and have transformed the way people with T1D treat the disease today, in order to help them live healthier lives now and in the future.

This is why I Walk.

Helpful Links:

For more information on type 1 diabetes

To donate to my Walk & 5K Run to Cure Diabetes Team

Sooooooo, it’s that time of year again. The time when I ask for money. “Wha?!?!?” You say. “That’s not all year round….?”

Shuddap

Anywho. The South Central Texas chapter of JDRF is holding their annual Walk & 5K Run to Cure Diabetes on October 19th, 2014 at the UT Health Science Center. However, that’s not actually why I’m blogging for the first time in a year and a half. Not entirely, anyway.

I’m starting up again because it has occurred to me that in all my efforts to look like I’m living successfully with type 1 diabetes (T1D), in the process I am actually KEEPING many of you from learning about it. A few of my close friends are probably sick of hearing about it, true, but I can think of only one or two who have, on more than one occasion, asked me several really good questions about it.

I just thought that since I don’t really delve into the nitty-gritty of it without being pressed, I might make it a point to write several little vignettes (blogettes?) over the course of the next couple of months to see if I can’t teach someone something new.

And if it makes you maybe want to donate to a really fantastic cause that means a lot to me, then WIN!

I’ve already thought of a number of topics but I thought I’d ask you if there’s anything you’ve wanted to ask but were too cautious or afraid of offending me. Here’s your chance. Comment below. I’ll answer anything – yes, even the question about what I do with my pump during “extra-curricular” activities (it comes off – like everything else). Anything.

And if you do feel like donating to my Walk team during this process, you can do so here.

Thanks as always for reading and stay tuned for an honest look at living with T1D.

 

The most amazing thing happened today. I was sitting in a collision repair shop at a service agent’s desk waiting for him to tell me what the damage would be to repair the damage to my husband’s car from a recent hail storm. I overheard another agent tell yet another that he was waiting for a client to walk in. The guy he told that to walked off and I watched the agent do the most extraordinary thing.

He just sat there.

I know he said he was waiting, but had no idea that a human being could actually take that word at its most LITERAL definition.

He sat there and waited. His desktop was clearly visible on his computer. He didn’t start using his computer to do any actual work or even surf Facebook. There was no smartphone in his hand. He wasn’t even utilizing the unnoticed window visible over his cubicle wall. Instead, he was simply…sitting there. Staring. Staring at an unidentifiable spot just above his desk.

I was fascinated.

I felt like an anthropologist observing a human event never before witnessed. A man. A worker. In repose.

I didn’t understand and couldn’t analyze the range of emotions that welled up inside of me. The over-worked, overly anxious person inside of me that often wishes for an extra hand and several extra hours to each day wanted to throw him out the under-utilized window. Another large part of this same person wanted to worship at his feet.

And still he sat.

I timed him discreetly as I still sat there waiting for my service advisor to give me the cost to fix my car. Six minutes. SIX MINUTES he sat there. The only reason I stopped timing after six minutes was because my service agent interrupted my observations to finally give me the data I needed.

I was in awe.

I left that shop in a bit of a daze. I drove home but don’t really remember how I got there. I started to get angry. How can a person do that? How is it possible that a person can simply switch OFF like that? So I sat down and picked a scuff mark on a far wall, and stared.

I made it almost 16 seconds. It was excruciating. My brief and yet interminable revery was continually interrupted by a running list of what needed to get done. I couldn’t sit there any longer. And I had to resist the urge to work twice as fast the rest of the day to make up for those 16 seconds lost to the experiment.

There’s a part of me that believes he did it on purpose. Look at me, he seemed to shout while sitting there. I don’t have a care in the world. I have a client coming in at a specified time and until he or she shows up, I have nothing to do. Look at you, he seemed to sneer. All caught up in your mental machinations, aren’t you. HA.

Well played, inert man. Well played.

Comment! Pick someone else’s blog post and write a comment to them. Write that comment as your post for today and link back to them to let them know you were inspired.

There’s a blogger with a post that I REALLY want to comment on. I found it completely by accident one day when I was surfing Facebook or Twitter (or both) and happened to click on a link that interested me for whatever reason and was astounded by what I read. This person has MG (myasthenia gravis) first and type 1 diabetes second. I specifically mention them in that order because this is how the writer presents them to her reader. She’s had MG longest and explains that type 1 diabetes came along but is mostly viewed as a secondary annoyance rather than a primary concern.

What?

Wait.

Huh?

It blew my mind. The idea that someone could consider the disease I’ve struggled with for almost 32 years to be a secondary concern made me stare at the computer screen as though the text had suddenly become written in a language I didn’t speak. But then I stopped and thought about it. And came to the realization that I do the very same thing. I too have two chronic diseases – type 1 diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I also specifically talk about them in that very order.

Type 1 diabetes was my original diagnosis from when I was seven years old. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was in my 30s. Maybe it’s the age at diagnosis, maybe it’s the perceived cellular damage from the disease, but diabetes has always been my primary concern. RA has remained more of a, well, nuisance. When I was first diagnosed I was heartbroken. When I researched the chemotherapy medication my doctor wanted to put me on (whose list of side effects includes DEATH) I was fearful. However, when I finally got over my self-pity party I actually thought, wait, I just need to take a pill for this? BRING IT ON. After diabetes it just seemed so simple.

So I read this person’s blog and had an epiphany. There are people with RA reading my blog and thinking the same thing. These are people who’ve suffered much worse with this disease and can’t imagine placing another disease in a higher priority. It made me think about that fable. You know, the one where a group of people go in a room and put all their troubles on a table and have the option to take someone else’s? That’s right, the one where they end up taking back their own troubles and going home.

I would so totally do that with type 1 diabetes – it’s the evil I know.

 

I would comment on the blog that inspired this post – only I can’t find it! I’ve looked everywhere. I know it’s out there though, so if it’s your blog, please let me know and I’ll comment. In your post, you had mentioned that MG means you have to rest and diabetes means you have to exercise (if that helps)…

 

Write a health acrostic for your condition, hashtag, or username! (acrostic = a poem where every letter of a word serves as the first letter of a word or phrase i.e. DOG = Digs Others’ Gardens)

RA = Really Aggravating

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