Something sweet

Today I want to talk about what benefits there are to natural sweeteners versus the artificial ones. One of the worst thing for me when I became a diabetic was not being able to eat sweets like I used too. Sugar filled candy and desserts were a big reason I was diagnosed with diabetes. Now I have to eat mostly sugar free snacks and desserts. The difficulty is finding the healthiest and least chemical based ones. I’ll go through the ones I’ve used and the effects they’ve had on me.

The most popular would have to be aspartame. You’ll find it in sugar free gum, cookies, and of course soda. Diet soda with this chemical actually does more harm than good to a diabetic. It makes you hungry, and is very addicting. I chew sugar free gum with this in small doses. Diet soda I try to limit to once or twice a month. You’ll also see sugar free cookies and cakes at your supermarket with this chemical in it. You’ll also notice that all these products are loaded with lots of ingredients. My diabetic doctor always says, “If a product has a large paragraph of ingredients, don’t eat it.”

Splenda is another artificial sweetener that has similar affects. It makes you crave more sugar and can raise your blood sugar levels.

The best sweetener is natural. Stevia is basically a natural sugar from a plant. It’s safe with no negative side effects. I’ve found several products with this ingredient to be a good snack or dessert.

Halo top ice cream has this ingredient, along with pure cane sugar. as apposed to processed sugar. Like any dessert, watch your portion! This brand has many flavors to satisfy your ice cream craving.

Russell Stover also makes sugar free chocolate candy varieties with Stevia. Again, stick to the serving size. They even have a Stevia chocolate Easter bunny this year for the holiday.

Monk fruit is also a good natural plant based sweetener, which you can find in certain ice creams like Enlightened. This company also offers plenty of varieties.

In the end even the healthiest sweetened products should be enjoyed through moderation.

My next blog I will discuss the best fruits I’ve found to help with my diabetic diet and lifestyle. Stay safe and healthy!

Sleep less, exercise, feel better

Today I want to talk about how too much sleep for a diabetic can tire you out. Diabetes naturally makes you tired. It could be your medication, lack of exercise, or in my case anemia. There are ways to feel better and have more energy.

Exercise should be the first priority for a diabetic. A simple walk in the park, or around the block will help you sleep better and give you more energy during the day. I also do leg, back and feet exercises before I go to bed with with an exercise flex band.

I also have neuropathy in my feet, so any exercise will help keep the blood flowing, and limit cramping during the night.

Stay away from fried foods, alcohol, and most processed foods. A healthier diet will also help you have more energy, and sleep better.

If you still feel drowsy, check with your doctor about your medication, or if you have anemia, which is a blood disorder which can cause fatigue.

Lastly, try sleeping 7 to 8 hours at night, instead of 9 or 10. You’ll feel much better not oversleeping. Check with you doctors if still feel fatigued for treatments available. Oversleeping can also be a sign of depression. If you feel sad or depressed, seek help from your friends, family or therapist.

My next blog I talk about artificial sweeteners that are the best I’ve found as a diabetic, and the effects the bad ones can have on you. Stay safe and healthy!

You’re your only hope

Today I want to continue to discuss ways to relieve stress as a diabetic during this pandemic. I talk often about joining online diabetic groups on Facebook and other platforms. These are great ways to voice your opinions and help others get through their problems.

At the end of the day though, you determine your diabetic fate. Through exercise, education, religion(if you follow one) and faith in yourself ultimately plays a big role in your physical and mental health.

I don’t exercise as much as I should, but walking in the park a few times a week helps me clear my head of problems. You can also park further away in a shopping center parking lot to get some added walking time. Go on YouTube and look for exercise programs, since in my opinion gyms right now aren’t the safest option during this pandemic.

Educate yourself about diabetes through talking to other diabetics, reading online blogs, and asking questions to your doctors. From the first day on my diagnosis, to surgeries, rehab, and health setbacks I also wanted to know ways I could stay healthy and maybe someday beat this disease.

If you’re a religious person say a prayer before going to sleep at night thanking all your friends and family who continue to support you. Pray for peace, the sick, and the departed. If you can’t attend church or your gathering, join your place of worship online.

The most important thing you can do is have faith in yourself to do the right thing. I’m a guitar teacher. I always tell my students the day you’ll know you love to play is when practice becomes less like work and something you look forward to do. You have to want to stay healthy, and get better. Nobody can force you.

My next blog I will continue to share what I’ve learned about diabetes, and how it’s helped me and hopefully can help others.

Stay safe and healthy.

Healthy Distractions

Today I want to talk about the mental stress of being a diabetic during this pandemic. We all have our share of problems. I lost some toes, and am constantly receiving laser treatments and shots to the eyes to keep my vision steady.

During this pandemic, our stress level goes up every day. We have to worry about the coronavirus along with our diabetes. This can be very stressful. I’m now going to discuss healthy ways to combat our stress and anxiety.

Embrace your passions. There has to be one thing you love to do. I love playing and writing music. I teach guitar, and it really helps me forget about my health problems. Learning or teaching a new song makes me happy. I love to explore how the musicians made the music and what equipment they used to create their particular sound. I also will be revisiting a guitar piece I was composing when I was in college.

Read a good book. Find a subject that interests you, and learn about it. If the subject you’re reading about takes your mind off your health issues, and gets you interested in the person or subject you’re reading about, this is a good thing.

Follow your favorite sports team. I love hockey. My favorite team is the Philadelphia Flyers. Sports is a fun escape from reality. If you know a lot about the sport, like the rules or player stats, this will keep your mind occupied..

The last and most important stress reliever is to be grateful for what you have. I’m grateful I can still walk and see. If you dwell on what you don’t have, you’ll just make yourself miserable. I saw a story on the news today about a blind chess player. She wins competitions often against people with sight. She recalls being made fun of when she was younger, and as soon as she discovered and mastered chess, she feels empowered. She claims people don’t ridicule her as much because she’s smarter than they are. Confidence in something you’re good at goes a long way. No matter what your disabilities may be, you can excel at something if you put your mind to it.

My next blog I continue to talk about ways to alleviate mental stress as a diabetic during this pandemic.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Stay healthy, romantic and safe!

Loosen up

Today I want to talk about exercises that can help with neuropathy. I follow several blogs on Facebook that deal with pain and stiffness caused by neuropathy. My neuropathy was caused by the amputations of toes and poor circulation from complications of diabetes.

The most common problem from neuropathy is stiffness and pain in your feet and legs. It can make difficult to sleep and walk everyday. After my operations and rehab I was shown several exercises that have helped make my neuropathy bearable.

The easiest thing to do is to take a walk in a park or around the block. It loosens up your feet and legs and helps you sleep longer and better. Try to walk two or three times a week. Start your walks on flat surfaces at first , and then try a path with an incline for more resistance. If you have access to a treadmill, this will work well by starting your walking flat, and then gradually building up to an incline.

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The other thing you can do is get a resistance band. They come in different tensions. Light to heavy. You can perform simple exercises with these. My favorite is putting the band below your foot and then extending your leg outward like a leg extension. Two sets of 25 on each leg will help your pain and stiffness.

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My last exercise I perform that helps is sitting on the edge of your bed or chair, extend your right leg out and up, and then roll your foot up and down for a set of 30 reps. Repeat process for your left leg and foot. This helps keep your feet feeling cooler and loose.

All these exercises I perform before I go to sleep, or also during the night if I have trouble sleeping during the night.

The last thing I do is prop my feet up on two pillows. This will help if there’s any swelling of your feet, or can provide some relief from stiffness in your legs and feet. Try these exercises before bed, and in the morning as needed. I hope these suggestions will help you , as they’ve helped me with dealing with my neuropathy.

My next blog I will continue to discuss ways to deal with diabetes mentally and physically. Stay healthy and safe!!!!

Life is hope

Today I want continue talking about how diabetics can help one another. Common courtesy goes a long way. Talking to your fellow diabetics about your diagnosis, past surgeries, rehabilitation, and how you are coping with this disease are all important steps to having a successful future.

I think the most valuable thing you can pass on to your fellow diabetics is how you contracted this disease. We all have our story. Diabetes often comes from poor diet, lack of exercise, and also mental stress.

In my case I was diagnosed after years of poor diet, lack of exercise and mental stress, due to my failures in college. I never finished my degree due to lack of funds and poor academic performance. After leaving school I had take jobs I really didn’t like. I worked in lumber yards as a forklift driver and laborer. My passion was music, specifically guitar playing and teaching, not working in a lumber yard. It was very frustrating working at a job that you hate, when the field you loved wasn’t available at the time. I turned to alcohol and a poor diet as an escape from the everyday grind.

My social life wasn’t very exciting either. I had no girlfriend, and most of my friends were far away, so I only saw them for a limited time. In the end it was my choice to not to take care of myself out of self pity. I made many mistakes during my college years. I should have studied more. I should have embraced the kindness of certain people to make my life happier. I lacked the confidence to do so, which was one of many regrets in my life.

A few years later I came back to the Philadelphia area where I grew up and got a job at a music store. I began teaching and selling musical instruments. It wasn’t the highest paying job, but at least I was teaching. I was proud to watch so many of my students excel through lessons and the rock band program I ran. I began to gain some confidence as a teacher, but I was still not eating properly, or exercising enough. One night during a rehearsal of my rock band program I began to sweat, shake, and my vision was blurred. At this time I also had a small hole on the bottom of my foot, which was getting larger everyday. After this episode I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with diabetes and a foot ulcer. Four surgeries, lost toes, and many eye injections and laser treatments later, here I am.

I continue to teach guitar, but my ultimate goal now is to get a job helping diabetics. I am very fortunate to have both feet and be able to walk. I also still have my vision. The best advice I can give is to take care of your health everyday. Physical and mental. I’m not trying to sound like an after school special, but too much alcohol and overeating will catch up with you. Talk to your friends and family about problems you’re having. Talk to a psychiatrist if you can. Don’t let a foot ulcer get worse. See a doctor regularly.

With all failures in my life, I’ve learned from them very painfully. I now take care of myself. My doctors have complimented me often on my continued progress. I have many diabetic friends I talk with on a weekly basis. We compare our stories, and offer each other advice. I enjoy teaching the guitar, but look forward to a career someday helping diabetics. I’m happy everyday I get up and am able to walk and see. I need to exercise more, and I will try to everyday. I try to be happy for what I have, and try not to dwell on what I don’t have. I’m optimistic for my future, and will continue to write this blog as often as I can. If I can help one person deal with their diabetes in a positive way, that’s a good day. Stay safe and healthy!

My next blog I’ll talk about some home exercises that can help you sleep better and have a little less pain with neuropathy.

Support each other

Today I want to talk about ways we as diabetics can support each other. This past year has been very difficult with Covid and a disruption to our normal lives. We’ve had to be extra careful by wearing masks, washing our hands more often, and social distancing. We were unable to see our family and friends as much as we would have liked to. There are ways that we can help one another not just during the coronavirus outbreak, but everyday living.

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The first thing would be common courtesy. Holding a door for someone in a wheelchair, walking with a walker or walking on crutches. Let people with these difficulties come down an aisle in a grocery store before you.

The second thing would be to share extra diabetic supplies with fellow diabetics. It could extra lancets, test strips, or even bandages. The cost of diabetic supplies even with insurance can be astronomical.

The most important would be to share your personal experiences with your fellow diabetics through blogs, web sites, or just a simple phone call. Let people know how you continue to fight this disease everyday through good dieting and exercise.

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These are just friendly reminders that we’re all in this together. Diabetes can be controlled and maybe defeated someday with good habits and caring for each other. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to still walk and see after several operations and procedures. Without my friends and family supporting me from day one I wouldn’t be here. Stay positive and remember your’e never alone. Join support groups, talk to friends and family members who have diabetes, and find healthy distractions to take your mind off the down side of this disease. I hope this blog will give you some positive ideas and as always I encourage feedback!

My next blog I will talk more about how we can help one another. Stay safe and healthy!

New Year, Same plan

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Happy New Year! I’d like to briefly discuss my health care plan for 2021. I’m in Pa. and instead going to Healthcare.gov to pick or renew a plan, I had to go to Pennie.com to renew my insurance. I have the same coverage, with a slightly lower premium. My doctors accept the insurance.

I was looking for a better plan for my eye care, but most supplemental eye plan just cover glasses, and not additional funding for shots to the eye. Fortunately my eye doctor will be able to provide the the shots in Pa., instead of New Jersey. The copay for my plan for out of state is high, so I’m glad to receive the shots in Pa. My advice when picking a plan is to talk to your doctors billing department and all facilities that your procedure is being performed to avoid surprise high copays.

The second thing I’d like to discuss is my plans for the New Year. I will continue to be vigilant with wearing a mask, social distancing, washing my hands frequently, and try to avoid last crowds or gatherings. The vaccine is on the way, and for diabetics hopefully by the summer. Until then I’ll teach my guitar students mostly virtual and limit in person lessons to be safe.

Finally I’d like to say on a personal note I’m trying surround myself with positive people, and losing the negative ones. This goes a long way to staying healthy. I also would like to get a job helping diabetics with amputations and eye issues. I’d really like to do more this year to help my fellow diabetics. Stay healthy and safe.

My next blog I will continue to discuss what we can all do to help each other as diabetics.

Covid free, but still careful.

Today I want to talk about the coronavirus. My test was negative, but my sister and brother in law have it. My sister is getting better, but my brother in law is still sick. My mother is being tested today. I’m praying they will all be healthy and safe.

My test, my mother’s test, and my sister and brother in law’s positive test all came after a Thanksgiving get together. My Mom and I had to get tested to see if we were exposed to covid since my sister and brother in law have it.

I love family get-togethers during the holiday season, but now after my covid scare I am considering dropping presents off, and just spending some time with one family member instead of three. This virus is real and killing up to three thousand people a day. It’s not a hoax. Wear a mask!

I haven’t seen my friends at all during this virus, and yes it sucks, but as a diabetic I have to be safe. Everyday when I get home from work I wash my face, phone, glasses, and anything else I’ve touched during the day.

I limit my trips to the supermarket to once a week, and a few times a week to smaller stores.

I am talking about this on my blog not to be political, but to offer advice on how to stay safe. If you love your family and friends, don’t compromise your health and theirs by not wearing a mask, attending large gatherings, or not washing your hands and face regularly.

The vaccine is on the way, be patient, safe, and practice healthy habits. I normally like to talk about the effects of diabetes and how it has compromised my health on this blog. This is a virus that can kill diabetics, so please wear a mask and practice social distancing!

My next blog I discuss my continued search for the best healthcare I can find. Stay safe and healthy!

Keeping up with your health plan

Today I want to talk about health insurance, and the importance of maintaining your current plan to help ease the burden as a diabetic.

I live in Pa. I am no longer able to purchase insurance on healthcare.gov. My state has it’s own exchange now called Pennie. Through this exchange I am able to still afford health insurance with the help of federal assistance.

Before I had Obamacare I was unable to afford health insurance, due to high premium prices. This plan has saved my life, and has made it possible to take care of my diabetes, and remain healthy.

There are several parts of my plan I want to talk about, and how they are important to my situation and how it might comparable to your plan.

First make sure your doctors accept your insurance, and find out ahead of time of added costs you’ll may be responsible to pay for. My diabetic shoes for example aren’t 100% covered. My shoes generally cost about $2000 dollars. I usually have to pay $500 of my own money to pay for them. Fortunately the place where I get the shoes offers payment plans to ease the burden of this high bill. My plan calls the shoes durable medical equipment, and doesn’t fully cover them. This plan I can afford, so I have to deal with this.

Second my eye care. My doctor only gives injections to my eye when needed out of state. This means if I want to continue seeing him every time I need an injection the out of pocket cost is roughly $300. I now have to change my eye doctor of 45 years because of insurance restrictions. I am switching to a doctor that does all procedures in network.

Third. My insurance covers Covid testing. I have to get one tomorrow, because I might have been exposed. Fingers crossed!

So beware of of these fees and conditions in your health plan choices. In the end we pick a plan that is affordable and accepted by our doctors. I also receive financial assistance through my hospital which helps with prescription costs and medical procedures. Check with your local hospital for similar assistance.

I hope this information is helpful and as always stay healthy and safe this holiday season.

My next blog I will talk about my Covid test results, and what steps can be taken to stay safe as a diabetic. I’ve been healthy so far…..