Be thankful.

Today’s blog I’m going to talk about what I am thankful for. I’m still researching the right medical insurance plan. I will get back to that subject in a few weeks.

During this pandemic and the last four plus years I’ve gone through my share of successes and setbacks. I’ve had my feet operated on multiple times. I’ve had many laser treatments and shots to my eyes to correct my vision. All of these procedures were due to diabetes. You can read my past blogs to see what I’ve went through.

Today I just want to talk about what I’m thankful for, and not what I don’t have. This morning I took a walk in the park. Thanks to my foot doctor, nurses and therapists I can still walk due to successful operations and rehab.

Secondly, my vision has remained stable due to the care I’ve received from my eye doctor. I am thankful I can still see.

Third: I am grateful for my diabetic doctor who has helped me keep my A1C in the range of 5.0-5.5, which in turn has helped with all my medical issues.

To all the nurses and doctors who helped me stay healthy, I am thankful to them as well.

I am thankful most of all for my friends and family who have supported me through this process. I couldn’t have made it without them. When I was depressed and doubting my health they kept me optimistic and made me laugh.

All these friends, family, doctors and nurses I’ve mentioned are what keeps me alive and hopeful for the future. The best advice I can give is to be thankful for at least one positive in your life per day. Life’s too short to be bitter. Remember and honor all the people that have come in and out of your life, and left a positive memory with you. I know I’ll be saying a little prayer for all of them.

Happy Thanksgiving! Stay safe and healthy!

Portion control

Today’s blog I will discuss portion control. If I look back to the biggest reason I was diagnosed with diabetes, with all the toe amputations, and vision problems due to this disease, overeating would have to be the greatest factor to all my problems.

Sitting around eating junk food, sugar filled candy and desserts with no set portion or concept of how to eat properly really took a toll on my body. After everything that’s happened to me the last 4+ years I’ve learned quickly with the help of my doctors and fellow diabetics how to eat smart and safely.

I’ve discussed in my previous blogs about meal prep for the work week, and how to read packages for serving sizes, and how this can help develop healthy habits. Let me repeat myself, read the labels on any food you purchase. If you buy frozen vegetables and the package says 4 servings on it, that’s 4 days worth of servings. If you purchase 6 small chicken breast, that’s 6 days worth of an entrees. This kind of strict portion control can also help your budget.

The biggest portion problem for me was snacking. The majority of the snacking I was doing was done while watching TV. I just kept eating and eating with only being finished when the bag or container was empty. Those days are over, so I actually follow the portions sizes . I love peanuts, almonds, and cashews for example. If you read the can of almonds for instance, the serving size may say 28 pieces. Guess what, that’s what you eat. A typical snack for me before bed is snack nuts, a single string mozzarella stick, and two sugar free Russel Stovers chocolate candies. This snack is about 30 carbs, which my diabetic doctor said is safe.

If you want something to look forward to, pick a weekend day to maybe have a bigger portion, or something different on the menu to break the monotony. Stay away from fried foods, or sugar filled desserts. Try a salad for lunch with lite dressing and some fruit for dessert.

These are just a few examples of being more responsible for your own health. In the end, it’s up to you to eat healthy and read the labels. These may sound strict, but it’ll will help you to stay healthy and avoid further damage to your body.

My next blog I’ll talk about talking with your doctors and fellow diabetics on what insurance plans are stable for diabetics. Stay safe and healthy!

Learn to adjust

Today’s blog will deal with more examples of anxiety and fear. Last blog I talked about my left eye shaking for a time one day. I was worried my vision could be in jeopardy. Thankfully I saw the eye doctor this past week and he told me everything was fine, and that the brief few second shaking was caused by dry eyes. The weather here in the east has been up and down. The cold and dry air can cause dry eyes. He suggested getting an artificial tears eye drop with no preservatives, and it’s definitely helped. I’m glad to sayI’ve had no shaking in the eyes anymore. It’s just another diagnosis to help ease your anxiety.

I want to talk about a blog I read on one of my Facebook groups. It was a reminder of what I went through after my several toe amputation operations. The person on this blog just got her big toe amputated on her right foot and was having a hard time looking at her foot because she felt ashamed or afraid of what people may think of her if they find out she’s missing a toe.

I remember how I felt the first time I saw my right foot missing a big toe after the operation. My foot had to have it’s dressing changed everyday, so you’d see the wound healing and feel a phantom pain where the toe was. It looked like something out of a horror movie. The first thought that comes to your mind is that you have to live with this deformity and how will other people see you. It’s like you lost a sense of normalcy. I already was worried about left foot being hooked up to a wound vac and knew I would lose several toes on my left foot, which were removed on future operations. You’re laying in your hospital bed thinking am I going to walk right again, am I going to lose a foot eventually, and how embarrassing would it be if someone would see these deformities.

After all these thoughts were going around in my head daily I realized the only way to ease my anxiety was to learn to adapt to my deformities. You learn in rehab how to walk again, regain balance, and how to care for your wounds and take care of your feet with daily cleaning and moisturizing. I was so determined to walk again, I really almost forgot I was missing toes. You just want to get back to your everyday living, and learn how maintain good habits to develop a healthy lifestyle.

I would say the day when all my wounds were healed, and I could take a shower, with shower shoes of course, and then start a cleaning and moisturizing exercise every morning is when it finally sunk in where I was. I would never win the prettiest feet award,(ha, ha) I could never could go into a pool or the ocean without water shoes again. I couldn’t walk around the house bare footed anymore, because of my neuropathy and the chance I could get a new wound on my foot. You sit there and look at your feet, and realize the damage you’ve done to yourself, but are grateful you can walk, without assistance. I learned quickly that your friends and family like you for who you are, not if your feet are whole. If you’re starting a new relationship with someone, and they are uncomfortable with your deformity, then they’re not worth the effort. Be proud you can walk, take care of yourself, and help others deal with their fears.

My next blog will deal portion control with a diabetic diet, and how to avoid temptation to fall back to bad habits. Stay safe and healthy!

Face your fears

Today’s blog I will discuss fear and it has affected me as a diabetic, and ways to ease your anxiety.

I’ve talked before about my many fears as a diabetic. I often worry about losing a foot, or my vision due to diabetes. It could be a concerning doctor visit, a blister or red mark on your foot, or even blurred vision. I’ve had all of these.

The other day my left eye was blurry and shaking for a few seconds. This has happened before when was I first was diagnosed. It was usually a longer episode of blurred vision, and not so short and a tremor like feeling. Fortunately I’m seeing my eye doctor this Tuesday and I can tell him about this day, and he will examine my eye extensively to see if any problem is present. I’ve read on numerous web groups I belong to similar stories. Some people have said it was a drop in sugar, which may require a sugar spike to even things out. Others have had mini stroke symptoms that have caused this. I will share my doctors diagnosis next week on this blog to help others going through the same thing. The fear is always there of a possible vision problem, but I’ve learned not to dwell on something until I get the word from the doctor.

My best defense against fear is music. I enjoy listening to a variety of types of music. Classical, metal, rock, country , and some pop. I also play and teach guitar which helps alleviate stress. I was saddened to learn my all time favorite guitar player Eddie Van Halen had passed away this week.He was the reason I picked up the guitar. I would watch videos, listen to his records and go to his concerts frequently because his music made me happy and he always looked like he was having a great time playing on stage. I always teach my students to always smile when you perform, this way even if you mess up the audience doesn’t notice as much. Of course when Eddie would mess up, you never recognize it. The great ones can always cover up their mistakes.

The greatest lesson I learned from watching him is to have fun while you’re playing guitar, and when you’re down pick up the guitar or listen to music to calm you down. Try to have a positive outlook on life. Eddie was dealing with cancer treatment, but the way he looked and played on stage, you would never know it.

I try to follow that example whether playing or teaching the guitar. Yes diabetes is a horrible disease, which can lead to many health complications. You learn to deal with each success or failure as it comes. Find your outlet to relieve stress. Trust me it goes a long way to your healing and continued good health.

Eddie Van Halen had a great approach to playing the guitar. Just plug in and play and find your sound. If it comes from your heart, it’s right. This is a great life lesson to me. Be yourself, help others, and take care of yourself by finding that outlet to relieve your stress and anxiety. Don’t let diabetes rule your life in a negative way. Look for the positives. I know now I’m eating better, and care about my health more. Stay safe and healthly!

Next week I will discuss my eye visit and diagnosis and continue to talk about fear.

Calm down

I started this blog for the purpose of helping diabetics deal with the same type issues I have. My foot and eye issues are the main focus of this blog. I have learned so much since starting this blog about how everyone deals with their own issues through joining support groups on Facebook and Linkedin. The one thing we all have in common is anxiety. Diabetes does so many things to our bodies, that it can seem overwhelming.

Your diet, your mobility, and eyesight can be compromised. I’ve been fortunate in that despite my multiple toe amputations and at times blurred vision I still have both feet and can see. I still think about the possibility of losing a limb or even going blind everyday. I think what helps me is writing this blog, hearing other peoples stories, and see first hand good and bad results of patients at my doctors offices. Any day that you can get up and go to work and just live a normal life is a good day. All we can do as diabetics is live day to day and do our best to eat right, get exercise, and take care of yourself.

There are so many things in life we can control. We’re limited as diabetics on how much control we have on our deformities and blurred vision. I’ve talked about about my personal foot care in previous blogs. Washing and moisturizing your feet daily. Inspecting your feet daily for blisters or ulcers, and talking to your foot doctor about proper care are steps you can take to ease your anxiety.

Your vision can also stay normal if you follow your diet and keep your A1C in the 5.0-6 range. Remember you’re the best ally you have. You can also be your worst enemy.

I’ve seen first hand at my foot doctor and eye doctors offices people who have lost a limb or lost their sight. In most cases these nightmares could have been avoided with the proper diet , exercise, and self care.

I’m very strict with my diet and self care. I see things differently now in life. Everyday I try to be vigilant with my health. I look in the mirror at myself for my successes and failures.Like I said earlier there are some things in life you can control. I made several poor choices in life that brought me to my current condition.

I made poor relationship choices where I turned away people who could have made my life better. I took the boring and lazy approach to life and my health. I ate too many fried foods, sweet desserts, drank too much, and rarely exercised.

The one constant thing in my life has been music and teaching. I enjoy seeing my students succeed and grow. Now with this blog I’ve been able to help a few people get through their own issues through my successful experiences. I regret the mistakes I’ve made in the past, but look forward to helping others stay healthy and keep and a positive attitude and have a future.

I guess what I’m saying is live each day the best you can. Offer advice and an ear to those who need it. Help your fellow diabetics! Don’t fall back to bad habits, and embrace people in your life who accept you for who you are and not what you can do for them. This is difficult time for all of us with the coronavirus, so we’re all in this together!

My next blog I’ll dive deeper into fears of being a diabetic. Stay safe and healthy!

Sleep well

My blog today will deal with how much sleep do diabetics really need. I recently read an article on the Everyday health website dealing with how sleep can affect ones own mortality. They discussed how 7 or 8 hours sleep is better than 9 or more. They discussed how sleeping too much can result in further health problems and could therefore cause a premature death.

Diabetes makes you tired as it is. It could be your medication, lack of exercise, or oversleeping. I myself feel much better when I sleep 7 to 8 hours , as opposed to 9. I try to stick to a normal sleep schedule. Exercise makes you more alert and less drowsy. Even with the current Covid crisis you can still take a walk in the park or around the block.

I think oversleeping can be harmful because it causes drowsiness. At this time with Covid we may have days where we fall into a depression, worrying about our health, job security, and the uncertainty of the future. If you feel depressed or run down, seek help from friends, family, and even a psychiatrist. When I was in college, long before I was a diabetic, I fell into a deep depression. I wasn’t doing well in school, had a limited social life and worked maybe a little too much. I was also in love. All these factors made me seek help from a shrink. It made me feel better to discuss my problems with an objective ear. So always remember to seek help from your friends and family most of all, and if you have to talk to a mental health expert.

I think another contributing factor to oversleeping is what we eat. Portion control is a must. Stay away from fried foods, excessive alcohol consumption, rich foods that are high in carbs, and poor snack choices like potato chips or sugary cookies and cakes. Stick to a low carb diet and only eat desserts and snacks that are sugar free, or low in sugar. I always discuss with my diabetic doctor what foods are the healthiest. A good piece of advice she gave me was if the ingredients of what you’re eating is a long paragraph, avoid it.

My final thought would be for my fellow amputees. I had several toes removed and sometimes my feet swell or my legs stiffen. I elevate my feet with two pillows every night before I go to sleep, even if my feet aren’t swollen. This reduces cramping and stiffness in my legs and feet. It helps me sleep better. I’m a side sleeper and sometimes my left leg will get stiff.

I hope these tips are helpful. Consult with your doctors if you have a serious sleep problem due to cramping, poor diet or depression. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a shrink if you need to. It helped me. You should always talk to your friends and family first about any form of depression. My biggest problem now is getting back to exercising regularly. I’m working on it . I hope we all can continue to fight and hopefully get a cure someday to diabetes.

My next blog will deal with how blogging can ease your anxiety as a diabetic. Stay healthy and safe!

Be proud and fight

I’ve had many setbacks as a diabetic. I’ve had multiple toe amputations, swollen feet, infections and blurred vision. You learn as you go, as far as how to treat your diabetes. You learn what foods make your sugar rise, and what foods can benefit your numbers. You take care of your feet by having a daily cleaning and moisturizing. You wear only white socks so you can see if there’s any wounds opening or blood visible. All these things will help you maintain your health and be able to walk and see.

My previous blogs I’ve discussed the concept of nobody’s perfect, and we all make poor diet choices, don’t exercise as much as we want, and see our sugars rise and have complications with our health. I’ve had weeks, months and years where everything is going well with my eyes and feet and then I get an infection on a toe, have a swollen foot, or even blurred vision.

The best way to stay sane and get healthy again is to do what your doctors say, and ask as many questions as you can to understand how you got an infection, or have blurred vision. I’ve been fortunate for the last four years. Every time I’ve had a setback, I recovered. I have great friends and family who support me when things go wrong, and compliment me when things go well. Still you may have doubts about your recovery, so make sure you seek help if you feel alone or desperate. There are many organizations that can help you. Create a blog to talk out your concerns with fellow diabetics, join online groups, contact friends and family often to keep your mind at ease.Try to stay positive!

I want to share a positive story with you about my feet. Recently I had my nine week foot doctor appointment. Everything went well, and the best compliment I received was how amazed my doctor was that despite my deformity on my feet from lack of toes, my feet were fully functional. He explained how most patients who have multiple amputations usually require a partial or full amputation after a few years due to the fact your body can’t handle the abnormality of the lack of toes. He then said I should be proud of myself for doing all the right things like proper diet and foot care. I have defied the odds, and for that, I am proud of myself. You’re always your biggest fan, or enemy. I still have a long way to go with this disease, but at least I’m giving myself a fighting chance. Yes I have to exercise more, find a job where I can help people with similar problems I’ve had, and build more long lasting relationships with people who like me for who I am, not what I can do for them only. I’ve lost out on quality relationships by not believing in myself, and letting people into my life. The kind of people who will support you, and be there for you. I’ve made some mistakes, but at least I’m proud that I thought enough of myself to still be able to walk and see. Remember, it’s up to you.

My next blog will deal with sleep. I just read an interesting article about how too much sleep can affect your own mortality. Stay safe and healthy!

Holiday barbecues

It’s the end of summer and I thought I would take a break from my regular blog schedule and talk about how to enjoy a holiday barbecue without going overboard.

I’m very strict when it comes to my weekly meals and snacks, so in the summer I enjoy a few family barbecues. I eat some foods that aren’t part of my diet. Burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, chips and maybe a real cupcake for dessert. I figure one day won’t kill me to enjoy these foods in moderation.

If you have a burger or two, try eating one with a bun and one without. The same can be said for hot dogs. When you have some potato salad, have one or two portions, not five. Don’t eat a whole bag of chips, or three or four cupcakes. Bring fresh fruit along as an alternative dessert and eat some veggies during your meal. A salad with low fat dressing is a good choice. Portion control is the key.

Make sure you resume your regular diet the next day. It’s hard to watch what you eat during any holiday, but your friends and family will understand if you don’t pig out during a cookout. Let them know that’s all about indulging a little more than usual ,without going overboard. My family and friends have been so supportive to me. Diabetes can hurt you in so many ways, so don’t let a holiday cookout make you revert to bad habits. Enjoy responsibly! Have a safe holiday weekend!

Next week I will talk more about my successes and setbacks as a diabetic. Stay healthy!

We’re in this together

Diabetes has altered my life drastically. I have had multiple surgeries on my feet and my share of eye issues as well. The one good thing is the ongoing support I receive from my fellow diabetics. I have a few friends that are diabetic and I love to compare notes on how they deal with diabetes in their own way. Some things I have in common with them, and other things not so much. I’ve had extensive phone conversations and in person talks about how I deal with diabetes compared to the way they deal with it.

A good example would be what foods they eat versus the foods I eat, I have a friend who continues to eat fried foods and drink beer. His sugar numbers are much higher than mine, and we always argue about how to stay away from these foods and drinks to maintain a healthy diet. I have discussed in previous blogs about my straight forward approach to eating healthier and avoiding alcoholic beverages due to the high level of carbs, salt, cholesterol and most importantly the risk of heart attack or stroke. Let me be clear that all of my diabetic friends are different ages, weights, and have their own share of health issues. I usually debate with a friend that has high blood pressure like myself about what foods to eat. I might offer other foods that are a healthier alternative. The point of this example is to find common ground with a diabetic friend and try to help each other. Meal preparation and packing your lunch instead of buying lunch everyday is a healthier choice.

My second example is I argue with a few friends about how to eat four times a day versus two. I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack everyday. A few of my diabetic friends eat only twice a day, and their sugar numbers are out of control. The excuses I hear about not eating four times a day are I have no time to pack a lunch or dinner. It takes me generally an hour and a half to prepare my lunches and dinners for four work days. You have to watch your portions, and make healthy choices. My theory is you can find an hour and a half out of your week to help fight your diabetes. No excuses!

These are just two examples that I feel can make a difference. If you talk to your friends, or on a online group and compare notes and offer advice to one another, you can always learn something new.

The last part of my blog is in two parts. First I want to talk about my insurance company and what they cover as far as my diabetic supplies. I have only two prescriptions. Metformin and Losarten. My insurance company requires a $20.00 copay for each medicine. Fortunately I have supplemental insurance through my hospital that pays for what my primary insurance doesn’t. Sometimes I have to get eye drops for after a laser treatment or injection for my eyes. My insurance covers a partial amount of the cost, so I’m grateful for the supplemental insurance. Those drops can be very pricey, so be ready for hundreds of dollars out of your own pocket. Talk to your hospitals’ financial aid department about getting extra help to pay for your supplies.

Diabetic shoes are also very pricey, with your primary insurance only paying a small fraction of the total costs. My shoes were around $1500.00 and my insurance company only paid $500.00 towards them, so be warned!

The last section of this blog is a reference section to help you find affordable diabetic supplies in stores and online. I use Aquaphor to keep my feet moisturized . Target seems to have the lowest price on this item. $9.00 for a large tube.

Lancets for pricking your fingers to check your sugar can be pricey for a diabetic. Some insurance companies don’t cover these. They cover your test strips, but charge a high price for the lancets or don’t cover them at all. I found a site on Amazon called GPS medical supply that you can get 200 lancets for $5.00-$7.00 with free shipping. I hope these examples help!

My next blog I will discuss more about my successes and setbacks as a diabetic. Stay healthy and safe!

Very interesting

Diabetes is a life changing event that I wasn’t prepared for. It’s not just the foot surgeries, eye issues and the change of diet that seems overwhelming some days. It’s the hope for a cure, or just keeping my A1C in the 5.0-5.3 range that I think of constantly.

Like any disease, there’s so much information out there that can help you keep up the fight. I have started this blog for instance to help others see they’re not alone in fighting this disease. I have found many Diabetic groups on Facebook and Linkedin that have many people going through the same problems and successes I have.

A good example would be a diabetic neuropathy group I’ve joined. People have put pictures of their foot swollen or ulcers forming on the bottom of their foot and ask for advice on how serious their condition can become. The obvious answer is to seek medical attention, but it’s a good thing to let people know what to expect for future treatments and possible surgeries. Simple advice like propping your foot up on a few pillows to help reduce the swelling is something a person may need to hear to put their mind at ease.

My second example is a group I joined through Facebook dealing with Diabetic Retinopathy which deals with eye issues diabetics deal with. This would include laser treatments to stop blood vessels from leaking fluid or injections in the eye to stop fluid from leaking.

The concerns people have are the after effects a laser treatments, such as headaches and sometimes floaters they’ll see after a treatment. I’ve had these treatments done and have had these symptoms afterwards. I’ll tell people how the headaches will go away and the floaters will lessen also. If either of these symptoms don’t go away, I’ll say call your doctor or wait a day or so for improvement.

The other concern people have is when they get an injection in the eye and the redness in the eye afterwards. My doctor sees me the very next day to check for infection after the shot. The redness goes away within a few days. I like letting people know I’ve been there and I sympathize with their concerns.

My goal for this blog is to help others deal with these issues. I would love to hear feedback from my fellow diabetics.

The last part of this blog deals with my interests and hobbies I have that keep my mind off my diabetes. I’m a guitarist and music teacher. I love seeing my students finish a song and play it well. I love the challenge of teaching people of all ages and abilities. I have taught autistic kids and I learn so much about how to teach them to excel with their abilities. Someone said we learn the most when we’re teaching and that’s so true!

I also recently have become more interested in Climate change. I’ve read several books by Greta Thunberg and have learned alot about our planet and ways in which we can help our climate . Ms. Thunberg is autistic and accomplished so much in awareness and fighting climate change. She is a good example of how one person, one voice can make a difference. My advice would be write a blog, join an online group and help others.

My other interests are music, as long as it’s good. I love to cook.I love Halloween and Christmas the most and decorate my apartment year round. These are just a few ways I keep myself busy and informed about Diabetes and keep my sanity. Discover your own interests, hobbies and inspirational people to help keep a positive outlook on life!

My next blog I will discuss ideas on how diabetics can help each other and what to expect from your insurance company in helping pay for your diabetic supplies, and places on the web and stores to find your best value for your supplies. Stay safe and healthy!