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Be Careful About What You Say

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In a previous post, I wrote that people with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer from depression than people without diabetes, and only 25% – 50% of those ever get diagnosed and treated.

The other bad thing about diabetes is that it can make your mental health problems worse and if your mental health problems are not treated they can make your diabetes worse. But the good news is, You Are Not Alone. There’s help for you and the millions of others who need it.

The words we say to ourselves and the words others say to us can have a negative effect on the way we feel about ourselves and consequently on our mental health. Diabetes does not define who you are. Depression or any other mental illness does not define who you are. Sure, you can make healthy lifestyle changes to better manage your diabetes, but having diabetes or mental health does not mean you’re a bad person.

However, saying negative words to yourself can make you feel guilty and beyond help. Do you say things like “I’ll never lose weight. I inherited fat genes.”

Or, “I’ll never be able to control this diabetes.”

Or, “What good would it do to talk to someone?”

If you say things like that you are closing your mind to the healing process. You are training your body to resist change. You may have inherited diabetes or obesity, but making the necessary lifestyle changes can help you overcome those challenges.

Talking to people who are sympathetic and knowledgeable can be the first step in helping you cope with diabetes and/or mental health problems. Focusing on the negative things in your life — your weight, your lack of energy, isolation —or any other limiting factors can cause you to become depressed, as can the words you say to yourself.

Make an effort today to begin speaking the changes you would like to see in your life.

“I can lose weight despite the genes I inherited.”

“With the right help, I can control my illness.”

“It won’t help to keep my feelings bottled up inside.”

Your words have power. They can enact a positive or a negative transformation in your life. Be careful about what you say.

The US is facing a serious mental health crisis, this is why the National Alliance on Mental Illness joins the national movement every year to bring greater awareness to mental health and to help fight the stigma that goes with it. The theme for this year’s campaign is More Than Enough.

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A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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The Link Between Colorectal Cancer and Diabetes and What You Can Do About It

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time set aside to highlight the importance of screening for colorectal cancer and to emphasize the promotion of healthy lifestyle habits that can greatly decrease your chances of getting this disease. The month is almost over, but you need to be aware of your health habits every day of the year, and this is what this article aims to help you do.

What is colorectal cancer?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives this definition for colorectal cancer (called colon cancer for short): Colorectal cancer is a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum grow out of control. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Sometimes polyps may develop in your colon and your doctor may find these when you have a colonoscopy or cancer screening. These polyps can become cancerous. This is why early screening works best to spot and get rid of any growths that may lead to colorectal cancer (CRC).

Stats about type 2 diabetes and CRC

Since this is a blog about type 2 diabetes, you may be wondering what is the relevance of this topic. According to the Library of Medicine (NIH), the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) was estimated to be 27% higher in people with type 2 diabetes than in people who do not have diabetes. In the United States, CRC is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined.

Risk factors for CRC

The CDC states that inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis is a risk factor for colorectal cancer, however, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) share some of the same risk factors, such as

  • Age – Your chances of getting CRC increase as you get older. People over age 50 are especially at risk.
  • Lifestyle factors – diet and regular physical activity play an important role in both type 2 DM and colorectal cancer. A diet high in fiber and low in fat and processed foods can help to reduce the risk of getting these illnesses. The Mediterranean diet has been known to decrease both DM and CRC.
  • Genetic – like diabetes, some people may have a family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps. People with the classic type of familial adenomatous polyposis may begin to develop multiple noncancerous (benign) growths (polyps) in the colon as early as their teenage years, but, the CDC says, these polyps will become malignant if the colon is not removed.
  • Obesity – another factor contributing to both type 2 DM and CRC
  • Alcohol consumption and smoking can also contribute to DM and CRC.

Symptoms of CRC

According to the CDC, you can have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it, this is why early screening, starting at age 45 is recommended. The CDC lists the following symptoms:

A change in bowel habits

Blood in or on your stool

Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way.

Abdominal aches, pain, or cramps that don’t go away

Unexplained weight loss

Tests for CRC

The earlier cancer is detected the easier it is to be treated. A colonoscopy is the most accurate test for colon cancer. Before your colonoscopy, your doctor will give you thorough instructions to prepare for your examination. During the procedure, your doctor uses a thin, flexible tube, called a colonoscope or endoscope, with a camera attached to the end so he can see the inside of your colon. You are given sedation to avoid pain. If polyps are found, the doctor removes them with a wire loop attached to the endoscope.

A sigmoidoscopy is a less invasive version of a colonoscopy, as it only examines the lower part of the colon, known as the descending or sigmoid colon, and the rectum. Preparation is similar to that done for a colonoscopy.

A CT colonography or scan of the large intestine. This is less invasive than the two tests mentioned above but is done when the person is unable to undergo a colonoscopy. Preparation is the same, but if after the colonography, cancer is suspected, then the person will have to undergo a colonoscopy so that the doctor can perform a biopsy in order to make a firm diagnosis.

Stool tests – Your doctor may give you a test kit that you use to collect a small sample of stool (feces) to detect if there is blood in it. If a significant amount of blood shows up then you will need a colonoscopy.

Treatment for CRC

Treatment for CRC depends on what stage the cancer is at when it is detected. In the early stages, the cancer may be curable, but not in every case. Treatment for stages 1, 2, and 3 — before the cancer has spread to other parts of the body — will all involve surgery. Either a part or the whole colon will be removed depending on the type of cancer. This can result in you having to use a colostomy.

Chemotherapy and radiation are used when the cancer is no longer operable, or if the cancer is only located in the rectum.

One study found that Metformin use has been associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer and increased survival but states that further studies are needed.

A diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be as frightening as a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, but the good news is both illnesses can be managed or even cured if detected early and if proper lifestyle changes are made. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the survival rate for those diagnosed with CRC in the early stages is very high, yet over a third of US adults aged 50 to 75 have never been screened. If you have type 2 diabetes, you are at a greater risk for developing CRC. This March, if you are in the group of people who should have been screened and have not, please make it your duty to do so.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Foot Complications And How To Avoid Them

November is American Diabetes Awareness month, a time set aside to bring greater awareness to the epidemic of diabetes and to advocate for those who suffer from this difficult condition. One of the most common complications associated with diabetes is nerve damage or neuropathy. This can occur in any part of your body, but the nerves in your lower extremities are more usually affected. Therefore, you need to pay special attention to your feet.

Nerve damage can lead to foot complications such as

  • pain,
  • burning, tingling and numbness in the feet
  • loss of feeling in the feet
  • sores and infections that don’t heal

Let’s examine the first one. Not feeling pain may sound like a good thing, but in fact, it can prevent you from knowing if something is wrong. For example, you can step on a nail and not be aware of it.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) reduces blood flow to the feet leading to neuropathy, burning, tingling and numbness as well as loss of feeling in the feet.

With poor blood flow to the legs and feet, you can develop sores and infections which can lead to you having a toe or foot amputated. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), every 3 minutes someone in the United States has a limb amputated. This is very concerning, but even more so, the ADA states that this rate of amputation is 75% more frequent than it was less than a decade ago.

What you can do

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the following tips for taking care of your feet:

Check your feet everyday for any blisters or calluses. If you can’t see under your feet, have a family member do it or use a mirror. (See below).

  • Wash your feet everyday in warm water but do not soak them.
  • Dry your feet completely and apply lotion to the top and bottom but not between your toes, as this could lead to infection.
  • Never go barefoot. Wear well-fitting shoes and check shoes and socks to make sure there are no small, sharp objects like pebbles in them.
  • Trim your toenails straight across and use an emery board to smooth any sharp edges. Better still, have your podiatrist cut your nails. Have him check your feet for feeling and blood flow.
  • Put your feet up when you are sitting and wiggle your toes to keep the blood flowing.
  • Do feet-friendly activities like walking, riding a bike, or swimming. Ask your doctor for more recommendations.
  • If you smoke, STOP!

The video below shows you how you can care for your feet.

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How Your Mental Health Affects Your Diabetes

In case you didn’t know, October is mental health awareness month, a time to promote awareness of mental illness and the effect it has on our daily lives. For people with type 2 diabetes, paying attention to your mental health can go a long way in helping you manage your diabetes.

Depression and diabetes

Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness to plague people with diabetes. Depression is more than having the blues. If you experience feelings of sadness lasting more than a few weeks that interfere with your normal ability to perform your everyday duties, you may be depressed. Other symptoms of depression may include one or more of the following:

  • loss of interest in things you once enjoyed,
  • too tired to perform activities of daily living, such as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. You may lack the energy to test your blood sugar, take your meds, or even prepare a sandwich.
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or you may sleep too much (hypersomnia)
  • feelings of hopelessness, guilt or anxiety
  • aches and pains
  • feelings of irritability
  • thoughts of suicide or death

The mind-body connection

As you can see, dealing with depression and diabetes can be overwhelming. If left untreated, depression does not go away, it only gets worse and this makes it more difficult to cope with your diabetes. One affects the other; diabetes affects the way you deal with depression and depression affects the way you deal with diabetes. Someone said, where the mind goes the man follows. It’s called the mind-body connection.

Diabetes distress

If you have been suffering from diabetes for a long time, you may get tired of the hassle — the constant finger sticks, the doctor’s appointments, swallowing meds … this condition is called diabetes distress, and it can feel almost like depression. It can wear you down, but don’t give up. Your health is worth fighting for.

What you can do

If you suspect you are depressed, try the following:

  • speak to your doctor, your pastor, or a trusted friend
  • spend time with friends and/or family members. Do not isolate
  • pray, read scripture, and meditate
  • listen to relaxing music
  • join a support group for people with diabetes
  • ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health counselor who specializes in chronic health conditions

Depressive symptoms along with diabetes are serious and should be attended to without delay. Above all, you should not try to hide your feelings or pretend they don’t exist; they won’t get better if left untreated. Speak to your doctor, have him refer you to a mental health counselor, if necessary, and follow his recommendations. One of the easiest steps you can take is to join a support group for people with diabetes such as Type 2 Diabetics Network, and be on your way to managing this debilitating illness.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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3 Reasons To Keep Your Doctor Appointments

Some people do not like to keep their doctor appointments. They either see them as an encroachment on their time or they fear the doctor may give them a bad report. However, keeping your appointments and following your doctor’s orders can prevent you from getting a bad report. This post looks at the benefits to be derived from keeping your doctor appointments.

  1. Keeping your doctor appointments is key to diagnosing diabetes while it is still in the early stages. A simple blood test will reveal whether you are developing prediabetes, diabetes, heart disease or some other chronic condition. If your A1C level is 5. 7% to 6 . 4% you are at the prediabetes level; if it’s 6. 5% or higher, you have diabetes. A normal A1C is less than 5 . 7%. It’s much better to discover something is wrong during your annual visit than to wait until you are so sick that you have to be taken to the emergency room.
  2. Your annual wellness visit also gives you the opportunity to discuss with your doctor any changes in your symptoms. Type 2 diabetes can lead to other chronic illnesses such as kidney disease, eye disease, a weakened immune system, or an infection. This may be the time for your doctor to refer you to any specialists depending on your report and his findings. A nutritionist can help with your diet, which can go a long way in controlling your diabetes.
  3. Are you happy with your medications? Are they working as you would like them to? Are you experiencing side effects? These are some questions your doctor may ask during your annual wellness visit. You may be taking your medications as prescribed and still have glucose levels that are too high. Also, if you have concerns about sticking your finger to monitor your sugar, you may want to ask your doctor about how you can get a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).

CGMs test blood sugar levels and send out an alarm when your sugar is high. If you have trouble reaching and maintaining your target blood sugar you may benefit from a CGM. However, bear in mind that if you are managing your diabetes well without a CGM, your insurance may not cover it—they might consider it a non-necessity.

Diabetes is a serious illness that can affect your kidneys, your eyes and other organs, and even lead to amputations, therefore, you owe it to yourself to keep those doctor appointments so your doctor can ensure that you are managing your illness in the best way possible. It’s fine to take your medications, and make healthy lifestyle changes, but in the final analysis, you need to remain under the watchful eyes of your doctor and your healthcare team so they can spot problems as soon as they occur and deal with them.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Can Chaotic Blood Sugar Cause Mood Swings?

Do you find yourself becoming irritable, angry, or depressed for no apparent reason? This may happen to a lot of people suffering from diabetes and they may not realize that their chaotic blood sugar might be causing their mood swings.

By chaotic blood sugar we mean blood sugar readings that are high one minute and low the next, and as your blood sugar fluctuates, so do your moods.

Managing diabetes can be difficult. You may become so overwhelmed by the new demands put on your body that you may even wonder if you have a mental health problem. It may help to know that studies have found that there is a relationship between mood swings and chaotic blood sugar.

Mood swings from high and low blood sugar

The School of Public Health University of Michigan states that high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) have been known to cause anger or sadness, while low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) has been known to result in nervousness.

Mood swings in people who are not diabetic

The report goes on to state that people who are not diabetic can also experience mood swings. This can happen through consuming a diet high in refined sugars and carbs. This can cause a sudden rush of blood sugar, followed by an increase in insulin into the blood, leading to hypoglycemia.

3 tips to manage your blood sugar

  • Reduce stress. Stress affects your hormones, which can put your blood sugar on a roller coaster. Talk to the people around you about how you feel and do not be ashamed to ask for help in managing your diabetes.
  • Increase your protein and fiber intake. Protein foods (meat, fish, beans, lentils) have a low glycemic load and therefore will not impact your glucose level. Foods rich in fiber —fruits and green, leafy vegetables—are also low in sugar and will not raise your sugar level.
  • Cut down on sugary drinks —sodas, juices with sugar added—and refined carbohydrates —cakes, cookies, muffins, and pastries, to name a few. These have a high glycemic index and can make it difficult to manage your diabetes.

It’s important to listen to your body. Chaotic blood sugar can make managing your diabetes more difficult. Most diabetics say they can tell when their blood sugar is high or when it is low without using their glucometer. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or unable to cope, speak to your health care provider or your health coach and get the help you need.

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A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Mid-week Study: Can Debt Give You Diabetes?

It’s no secret that being in debt can cause you to worry and worry leads to stress, which can lead to illness. But now a study undertaken by the Urban Institute found a significant increase in the number of Americans over age 55 who are in debt.

Image by granderboy from Pixabay

Becoming ill because of debt

Even more troubling, the study found that those who are burdened by debt are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Also, these same people were found to have difficulty in handling everyday activities. Having unsecured debt such as credit card debt, student loans and medical bills can be more detrimental than home loans.

Unable to afford insulin

You might say, well, I try my best to avoid credit card debt, but in some cases, it may be unavoidable. A survey commissioned by CharityRx showed that 4 in 5 adults who have diabetes or care for someone with the disease have credit card debt averaging $9,000 for insulin alone. Seventy-nine percent of the people surveyed said they struggle financially because of insulin cost and 62% said they either skip or adjust their insulin doses to stretch the supply and save money.

Why is insulin so expensive in the US?

Recently, the president of the US Joe Biden came on national television to talk about the high cost of insulin, a drug that is critical to managing diabetes in millions of people. Since he spoke, I don’t know if anything has been done, so I decided to research why insulin is so expensive in the US, supposedly the richest country in the world.

What is insulin made of

In an article posted by NPR, a doctor discovered that the older version of insulin that had gone through a lot of changes and that was successfully treating a lot of diabetics, suddenly disappeared around the 1970s. The newer version contains the human gene for insulin, whereas the older version was made from insulin taken from the pancreas of cattle.

So, the older version disappeared and the newer version now costs the consumer around $400 a month. However, you can still get the older version for $35 in Canada. If you are among the millions who depend on insulin you may be wondering if the drug will ever be sold at a price that is affordable. According to NPR, some experts believe that as the older insulin patents expire and the FDA allows similar versions onto the market, costs will decrease.

Whether this happens or not, you owe it to yourself to pay attention to your diet, your physical activity, and your stress level. And as always, before following any advice in this blog, please do your own research and consult your physician.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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What You Should Know About Your A1C

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be familiar with the term A1C. It is the result of your average blood sugar for the past two or three months. The test, which is done for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, is sometimes called the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1C.

Why is the test done?

Your doctor usually orders this test at least twice a year to monitor how well your treatment is working. The higher your A1C, the greater your risk of developing diabetes complications. If you are not meeting your treatment goals, or you change treatment, you may need to have the test more often. The A1C test is also done to diagnose diabetes.

What do the numbers mean?

An A1C level below 5.7% is considered normal. Between 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes, and anything higher than 6.5% is diabetes. Within the prediabetes range—5.7% to 6.4%—the higher your measurement, the greater your chance of developing diabetes.

Your A1C may also be reported as eAG or ‘estimated average glucose.’ eAG is similar to the reading you get when you check your blood sugar at home on your meter. The ADA has given a comparison of what the readings may look like. For example, if you get a reading of 140, your eAG may be 7.8. A reading of 154 on your meter is 8.6. The ADA also states since you check your sugar in the morning or before meals, your meter readings will be lower than your eAG.

Since we are talking numbers, a normal glucose reading for an adult is between 90 to 110 mg/dl.

What number should I aim at?

The goal for most adults with diabetes is an A1C that is below 7%. However, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), “there’s no one-size-fits-all target.” A1C target levels can vary by each person’s age and other factors, and your target may be different from someone else’s.  

Managing your diabetes can be challenging. By following these helpful hints as well as your doctor’s advice, and making the necessary lifestyle changes, you can be well on your way to not only controlling diabetes but reversing it.

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