Sunday, June 30, 2013

What is Diabetes - do you know?

I would like to ask you a question.

Do you know what diabetes is? 

I ask you this because until a week or so ago, I would have had to tell you that I didn't really know what it was. Yes, Silent Sam has had it for almost two years but if it was ever explained to me, I must have tuned out.  It could have been part of the information that was given to us when he was diagnosed but I just did not absorb it. 

Was it explained or did the doctor just say “you have diabetes and this is what you have to do now”?

I asked Silent Sam and he said that he was not completely clear either. As much as I like to think that I am a unique snowflake, I am willing to bet that in my ignorance, I am not alone. 

I understand what we are supposed to be doing to help SS with managing the disease but as far as what it actually means, I was clueless.  

Also, I knew that when Silent Sam went to the endocrinologist’s office they did an A1C test. I knew this was the lie detector test for how you are behaving. I had no idea how it worked.

Do you know and understand this stuff?

Do you have any other questions that float around in your head but you don't ask about them?

It may not matter to you but do you know the difference between the different types of diabetes? Did you know that there are at least 4 different kinds that you may hear about more often but there can be other conditions or syndromes that cause diabetes? 

So, I ask you – do you want to know the simplest to understand answers to these questions or am I the only one asking? 

I would appreciate it if you could let me know. You can tweet me (@9inchplate) or Facebook at, or just email me at

If you have questions, send them along also.  Let's find out together. I'll ask the doctor so that you don't have to!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Opps! Man Down

It must be true that opposites attract. Silent Sam likes to sweat. I absolutely do not like to sweat. I am not sure that either of us likes to exercise but we like different seasons when we do. 

I would rather be cold. Yes, cold. I liked walking by the lake when it was in the 30’s. Brisk is what I call that. SS is not interested in that at all. I got him some cold weather running gear but it doesn't matter, he doesn't like it. On the other hand, he will go out for a run when it is 90 degrees out. I don’t want to leave the house – even to go to the yard – when it is 90 degrees out. 

So as you can guess, he is back running outside. Yes, as it warms up his workouts increase. I think he has lost his mind. His run usually takes him about an hour. Of course, I don’t ever think to check the clock when he leaves so it seems sometimes like he is gone forever. Just as I think that I should start searching the neighborhood for his crumpled little overheated body, he will return home. As an editorial comment, (which he will really appreciate) I think you should look better when you return from something you supposedly like to do. At least you should be able to look like you are happy to have accomplished something. But who am I? I certainly don’t look in the mirror when I am finished with whatever I did to exercise. 

So, I was a bit shocked when SS came in last Sunday morning. He had not been gone very long. (I could tell it had not been long because I was on the phone and we had barely revved up to discuss the week’s events) To be honest, he looked grey. And not the good 50 shades way. It seems that he had fallen. He was trying to adjust his stride and hit a crack in the sidewalk. He fell on his shoulder. After sitting for a few minutes, he took a shower and came downstairs to read the paper. After a while he decided that he needed to have it checked out. One quick trip to the ER later, we had been told he had a chip in his glenoid (the shallow part where your arm goes into your shoulder) and he was sporting a sling. They said that if it got worse that he should see an orthopedist. 

We were pretty much ready to leave it there. He started feeling better slowly.

Several days later, he received a call from his doctor’s office asking him if he made an appointment with the orthopedist. They told him that he had a fracture (yes, a chip is a fracture but calling it a fracture sounds so much more serious) and he needed to go to the ortho. They even made him an appointment! So off he went. The first part of the appointment was good news. It seems the ortho felt that the chip was an old injury. (Huh?) Then came the part we didn't expect - he was worried that the rotator cuff was torn. 

Oh yuck!

That is a whole different kettle of fish. Silent Sam had an MRI and is waiting for the results. He still has pain with certain movements. We are really hoping that some physical therapy will be the answer. 

So doesn't it always seem to happen? I thought it only happened to me but it seems to be pretty universal. You just start some behavior that will improve your health and the next thing you know the universe has sent you a giant curve ball. It makes it even harder to keep your resolve. And keeping your resolve is very hard all on its own. Believe me, I know it is so much easier to watch TV or read than go out for a walk around the block after dinner.

So, how do you keep your resolve when life gets in the way? 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interview with an Optometrist

I had the absolute pleasure be able to sit down and talk to Dr. Kristen Randall. Dr. Randall is an optometrist who specializes in primary eye care and contact lenses. She is warm and very informative.

I know that when Silent Sam was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes that one of the things that we were told was that he needed to get to the eye doctor and get his eyes checked. Fortunately, his eyes were fine and he has been diligent in getting them checked regularly.

Why check his eyes? Dr. Randall explained to me that people with diabetes have an increased risk of eye disease. Having good blood sugar control is an important way to prevent problems but in addition, controlling your blood pressure will help. Your genes play into your eye health also. Unfortunately, the length of time that you have had diabetes will also make a difference in your eye health.

If you are like me, you may not remember what we were taught in high school biology about the eye. The following is a YouTube video about the anatomy of the eye.

The first eye disease that comes to mind with diabetes is Diabetic Retinopathy. This is actually a group of eye problems that can be a complication from diabetes. Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. This disease is caused by changes to the blood vessels of the retina. This disease can take various forms. In some people, the blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. For others, it can be that abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.

Here is the true villain in the mix. You can have diabetic retinopathy and not know it until you have lost part of your vision.

If you cannot tell that you have it, how can you stop it? It is very important - really really important that you have a comprehensive eye exam at least annually. The eye exam is not different than what you are used to already. There will be a test to see how well you can see distance and close up. The doctor will dilate your eyes so that an exam of your retina and optic nerve can be done. Last but not least, the doctor will check the pressure inside your eye.

Glaucoma is another disease associated with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma. The risks for glaucoma increase with age and length of time that one has diabetes. When you have glaucoma, the pressure on the inside of the eye has been raised because drainage of the fluid in the eye slows down. With the buildup of the fluid, the pressure builds and squeezes the blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. The retina and optic nerve are then damaged and vision is lost. The doctor will test for Glaucoma during your annual eye exam. If there is a problem, there are several treatments available.

The final in the big three diseases that affect diabetics more frequently is cataracts. While many people get cataracts, if you are diabetic your chance is 60 percent higher than the normal population. People with diabetes will normally get cataracts at a younger age and the disease will progress faster. When you have cataracts, your normally clear lens becomes cloudy and that affects the amount of light that can penetrate it. We probably all know people who have had cataract surgery. The problem is that when you have diabetes, the surgery to correct cataracts can affect the other possible diabetes related eye problems. It may worsen diabetic retinopathy or start you on the path to glaucoma.

I can't pretend that I was very upbeat after our conversation. These eye diseases are serious and they look in some ways to be inevitable. Dr. Randall assured me that if you are faithful in having your eyes checked that most of the diseases can be helped. But she did stress how important the eye exams were in maintaining one's vision. It is also very important that you as the patient pay attention and if you feel there are any changes that you get to the doctor right away. It is much more important to err on the side of too much checking rather than not enough.

I asked Dr. Randall about the seemingly new eye vitamins that are available. I wondered if they would help a diabetic's eye health. She told me it is very important the patient talk to their doctor about using vitamins specifically for the eye. It is possible that they may not get along with the prescription medicines that the patient may already be taking. So, as they always say, check with your doctor before you try them.

I am so thankful that Dr. Randall could take the time to talk with me about all these issues. If you are in the Chicagoland area, Dr. Randall works with Linton Opticians in Evanston, IL. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Positive Things About Having Diabetes - No I am not serious...

Today we are going to go in a slightly different direction.  I feel like I am always writing about things to worry about with diabetes.  Today we are going to look at the positive.  (with tongue firmly planted in cheek)


 Positive Things About Having Diabetes

When someone brings treats to the office or a gathering that don't look very good, you can beg off by telling the person you are diabetic.  Just telling people that you are on a diet will sometimes not stop them from urging you to try "just a little".  But being diabetic should stop all requests.  If it doesn't work, you need to perfect your withering look and suggest to the person that you could die from eating their treat.  That should stop them.  Quite frankly, if it doesn't stop them then I think that you should stay away from that person.  If it is your boss, I hate to tell you but I think that is a bad sign.

You no longer have to worry about being pre-diabetic.  The deed is done.  It is no longer hanging over your head.  You have moved up to the big leagues.  

Now you have a reason to keep some candy with you at all times.  You need to be prepared for low blood sugar, so make sure you have a supply.  Okay, we all know that you need like only one roll of smarties but you could have been a boy scout and so you are always prepared. 

Say you are at a restaurant with a group and you are cheap.  When it is time to pay the bill, you can get up to go to the washroom to check your levels or to go shoot up. (Yes, that is what we call it in our house - we are, perhaps, not very serious around here.)  It may be that by the time you get back you either don't have to pay or the bill will be figured out and you don't have to sit through the figuring out.   I personally hate the figuring out.  I will not get into gender stereotypes here (HA!) but there are those that like to divide the check by the item and those that just divide the check by the number of people.  I much prefer dividing by the number of people because then I can make sure there is a fair tip.  Some people are cheap tippers and I don't want the wait person to think it was me.  

Oh, yea, back to the "fun" of being diabetic...

My last positive thing about being diabetic is that if you are invited to a nude beach, you have a built in excuse as to why you cannot go.  Personally, I can think of many reasons why I would not go.  If you are diabetic, you cannot go barefoot.  There is your reason.  No problem.  Your welcome.  So the next time someone invites you to a nude beach, you can think of me with thanks.

I'm here for you.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Triple Quick Shrimp and Pasta

I know, I have not given you a recipe in awhile.  Somewhere between  my son's graduation and my daughter's move out of the house, I didn't get much cooking done.  (great excuses!)

But I have started again.  Yes, I sat down on Saturday morning and went through some of the recipes that I had marked.  I pulled out THREE for this week.  I know it is a bit extreme but I felt like it.

I did make a small mistake.  I was supposed to have a meal tonight for "meatless Monday" but the shrimp had thawed so I had to use them.

Guess what?  This recipe worked.  We both really liked it and it was quick to make.   As we say, this is a keeper!

The recipe is from Diabetic Cooking Magazine.  I went through and tore out the recipes I liked and I just noticed that they don't put the month or issue on the pages.  The magazine comes out every other month.  There is usually a theme to the recipes.  If you are interested, you can look at the web site for the magazine on line.

Triple-Quick Shrimp and Pasta

4 oz. uncooked whole grain rotini pasta
8 oz. small shrimp with tails, peeled
4 oz. asparagus spears, trimmed and broken into 2 inch pieces
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup light olive oil vinaigrette
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting any salt or fat.  Four minutes before pasta is cooked, add shrimp; cook 1 minute.  Add asparagus to shrimp and pasta and continue cooking 3 minutes or until  shrimp are pink and opaque.

2.  Remove pot from heat.  Drain well, shaking off excess liquid.  Return pasta, shrimp and asparagus to pot with remaining ingredients except basil and Parmesan cheese.  Toss until well blended.  Add basil and Parmesan cheese and toss gently.  
Serves 4
Dietary exchanges:  1 fat, 1 meat, 1 1/2 starch   Calories: 230 Total fat 7 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Protein 16 g, Carbohydrate 27 g, Cholesterol 76 mg, Dietary fiber 3 g, Sodium 766 mg.

If you are used to reading my recipes, you know that I somehow never make things absolutely right. I ended up using ziti because I forgot to ask Silent Sam to pick up rotini and SS could not find light olive oil vinaigrette, so we had full strength. The basil just adds the right fresh taste to this dish.  I know we will have this again.  It would be great for company also because it cooks so fast.  They would never guess it was good for them!

 Thanks for reading!

This bloom was my surprise this morning!  Lovely!