Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday

Do you ever wonder if you are the last to know something?  I felt a little out of touch this morning when I heard about "Giving Tuesday".  Here is a video that explains the idea/movement.

I then received an email from the American Diabetes Association.  They have received a pledge from Sun Live Financial to triple each gift.

"Give today and your gift can have TRIPLE the impact to Stop Diabetes®.

TODAY ONLY! In honor of Giving Tuesday, our national sponsor, Sun Life Financial, will triple your gift, dollar-for-dollar — up to a campaign total of $75,000. That's triple the funding to help families coping with diabetes, and triple the funding for the research that will unlock a cure."
If you would like to make a contribution today to help the American Diabetes Association, here is the link to the donation site.  

Of course my snarky side suggests that they should hold this day BEFORE all the shopping days but I guess that just having a worldwide day of giving is pretty important no matter when it is.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Time Change Got You Down?

Time change by committee
Perhaps it is just the people that I know but it seems that the time change this year has hit people harder than usual. There is just something about how dark it has been that can really affect how you are feeling. I went from appreciating the beautiful colors this fall to getting up in the dark and coming home in the dark. Add to that the early cold weather that we are experiencing and it could make the word “trudge” sound like a good thing.

If you are a reluctant exerciser like I am, it really takes a lot got get out there and exercise. Also, I find that when I am not at my cheerful best that it is hard to keep to my better eating habits.

So what do we do to conquer this feeling? As they say, I guess the first step is to admit that we are feeling a bit sluggish. Admit that you would just like to hole up until this winter stuff goes away.

Also, there are holidays and holiday parties closing in on us. There are so many temptations at holiday time between parties and treats at work. Also, it is a time when there are family traditions for food and activities surrounding food. In my family, we always got together to bake cookies and decorate them. The kids would bring friends and they would have a great time. These cookies were not going to win any awards for their beauty. There was a lot of silliness and that went into decorating the cookies.

At the Christmas cookie decorating party, silliness ensues.


First off, I am certainly not an expert but I have some ideas. My first idea is one that I struggle with all the time. I try and make myself do things. For example, it is really easy to sit down in your comfortable chair after dinner and watch TV. (I swear that I grow roots into the chair.) How about playing a game or putting together a jig saw puzzle instead?. Turn the lights up bright and sit at the dining room table. Once you get your mind engaged, it will help you stay awake and could even keep you from eating any snacks after dinner.

During the day, get outside. Even if it is for only a few minutes, walk at lunchtime, get out and breathe some fresh air. The sun does come out even in the winter. Get out for a few minutes and enjoy the air and light.

I am one of those people who would tell you that it is easier to eat non-healthy food than healthy food. In my mind, healthy food takes more work to prepare. (You might want to fight with me on this point but I will tell you that opening a package of cookies is pretty darn easy.) So it is time to do two things. The first is stop having the easy non-healthy stuff in your house. Really. If you want cookies, decide that you have to make them yourself. I don’t know about you, but that will stop me just about every time. The other thing is find some healthy food that you can have ready when you want a snack. You can pick up those single serve packages of nuts or buy a big package and make your own small packages. Buy some fruit and keep it ready to go. I am sure you have seen lists of great snacks for people with diabetes but if you need a refresher (like I do) here are some ideas

Also, when you are heading out to a party, eat a snack before you go. The thought behind this idea is that you won’t walk into the party hungry and eat everything in sight.

Another idea that I have seen is that when you are going out to a restaurant that you should look up the menu on line before you go and decide what you are going to have. If you have made up your mind ahead of time, then you can tune out what everyone else is getting and just enjoy the outing without thinking about the food.

With regard to exercise, there are three things that I do that might help you. They are by no means full proof but they do help. The first is that I joined a pretty stripped down gym (Planet Fitness). I don’t know anyone there. I walk in, exercise, and leave. I am there about 45 minutes. It is hard not to fit that into my schedule (although I can tell myself that I don’t have time.) The second thing I do is put on my gym clothes in the morning. I am then ready to go so that excuse is out the window. Last but not least, go when there is a TV show on the TVs that you want to watch. This is actually my latest find. The gym I go to has about 12 TVs across the front of the room. Because I go during the day, the TV selection is just terrible. I had no idea there were so many “DNA shows” on during the day.(Who knew there were so many people not clear on who is the father of a child.) But there is a game show that I will watch. (To each his own…) I will try and schedule my trip to the gym to coincide with the game show. That way  my mind is really occupied while I am exercising and the time goes faster.

Also, don’t forget that November is Diabetes Awareness Month. There are some great ideas for this month and beyond at the website.  

I hope you have a great week.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

The American Diabetes Association is hoping to raise awareness during the month with Get Moving Mondays, Tasty Tip Tuesdays, What's Cooking Wednesdays, Get Together Thursdays, Fact Check Fridays, and other things.  I urge you to take a few minutes and check out the web site to see what each of those things means.  There is lots of information there that could be of interest to you.

Did you know that it was Diabetes Awareness month?  Do you do anything special for Diabetes Awareness Month?  I would love to hear about it if you do.  Silent Sam and I don't usually do anything but I think it would be a great time to do some fundraising for the American Diabetes Association.  Maybe one small thing (and small things add up) would be to go to the Association web site and look (and perhaps buy) something from their shop.

Another thing you could do was make sure that you have seen all the doctors that you should see.  Have you been to see your eye doctor in the last six months or year?  How about your podiatrist?  With the end of the year just around the corner, it is a good time to go and see them before your deductible starts over again on January 1.  (How could it almost be 2015??!!)

Maybe you could take some time to read about diabetes and the progress they are making with the disease.  While the numbers of people with the disease are increasing, the people living longer healthier lives than they were before.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Discussion with the FDA on MONDAY

I just found out about an upcoming event - ON MONDAY - and I wanted to let you know.

The people behind put on great virtual programming.  If you have not checked them out, I urge you to take a few minutes and see all that they do.  

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Diabetes Sisters Virtural

Hi Everyone!

Sorry, this will be a quick update this week.  I am wildly behind.  I did want to tell you

about something new I found out about this virtual group that may interest the women in the group.

Instead of paraphasing the information from Karen Graffeo from Bitter~Sweet Diabetes blog, I

would like you to go to the page with the information.  You can find it here.

I have talked before about how important it is to have support when you have a disease like diabetes.

This organization offers virtual support for those of you who do not have any support groups in their

area or are not interested in attending meetings.  You can attend these meeting in your jammies and

no one will know!

Have a wonderful week!  Somehow, I think next Thursday will be here before I am ready for it!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Take a HIke

I don't know how it is where you live but here in the Midwest, Mother Nature is truly showing off. The trees are turning and it is just beautiful.

I think you should grab your camera (or grab your phone) and go out for a walk and take pictures of the beauty you find along the way. Pick out your favorites and keep them close by so that you can remember what a great walk you took. Also, you can take pictures today and then walk the same route in another week and take pictures again and have a visual record of the changes.

Take the time to walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Your body and mind will be thankful.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What does a vacation look like to you?

We all have different ideas of what our perfect vacation looks like.  Some like to go and explore while some like to go somewhere to sit and rest.

Why do we want a vacation?  Is it our chance to re-charge our battery?  Time to make memories - store them like a hamster for later in the year when you need a pick me up?  Is it to experience different cultures and foods?

Whatever the reason, we all perk up when it comes time for our vacation.  No matter what you are doing, you will be taking a break.

What if you could never take a break?  What if it was the same thing more or less every day?

While those of us without a chronic disease don't really want to imagine it, many live managing a disease every day of their lives.  The need to care for themselves in specific ways doesn't change although the disease may not react the same way each and every day.

What kind of a break can you take with diabetes?  How tired do you get of managing an invisible disease?  While you get to know your limitations, how much can you push the envelope?

What can you do when you are sick of it?

The Joslin Diabetes Center suggests that you work to stay motivated but not "perfect".  When you are feeling low, don't make it harder on yourself to be perfect.  Don't use the feeling of burnout to stop exercising or raid the candy drawer.  Give yourself a break without going off the rails.

They also suggest that you identify barriers to good care.  These will be specific for you.  Ask someone to help - not nag you but help you with these barriers.

I have also found an article entitled "13 Tips for Fighting Diabetes Burnout".  There might be something there to help you also.

One of the main things the I have read is to make sure you can express your frustration sometimes.  It is a hard disease to manage and hopefully you have your diabetes team to support you.  If you just need to vent sometimes, talk to  your loved one but before you start to vent, explain to them that you are not looking for solutions but just need to talk about how you feel and how frustrated you are.  Tell them that if they have ideas that perhaps you can talk about it at a later time (even set a time) but that you just need to talk about your frustrations right then.  This way they will know just to listen and will not have the feeling that they need to "fix" the situation.  By setting another time to discuss any ways to help, both of you can be "in the moment" without trying to fix anything.

There is also a book from the American Diabetes Association entitled Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can't Take It Anymore.  It is available from the American Diabetes Association  or from Amazon.  (buying from the American Diabetes Association means you are contributing to a great cause.)

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I hate to ask but are you ready for cold and flu season?

Michael Ancher, "The Sick Girl", 1882, Statens Museum for Kunst

I am not ready for the cold snap that has hit the Midwest. I will certainly not turn on the heat – it is just too early to do that – but I am cold. I am also feeling just a bit nasally. You know that feeling that you might be catching a cold. Just those little twinges…

This has me thinking about cold and flu season. Back when Silent Sam was diagnosed with diabetes, we were told that we should be prepared for when colds and the flu will strike so that we have supplies on hand. 

Just like everyone else who read or saw that instruction, we did not prepare. Although, I will admit that I do go through the over the counter medicine drawer (yes, we have it in a drawer) to check for expiration dates and see what supplies we need a couple times a year. And this is definitely that time of year. I have only done this for the last couple of years and it is not foolproof but it has helped. There is just something about feeling sick and going to the drawer and finding either nothing in there or finding out of date medicine. 

So, I think I will let this cold snap be my guide and I will take the time to check out the drawer and see that we are stocked for winter. If you have not discussed with your doctor what over the counter medicines you should use, then now is the time to ask. People with diabetes need to be careful about the ingredients in their over the counter medicines.  It is far better to ask than to find out that your blood sugar is spiking because of your cold medicine.  Your levels will be affected when you are sick and you don’t want to add to the problem with the medicines that you are taking. 

You might want to check your kitchen cabinets also. Are you prepared with food for when you are sick?  One of the hazards is dehydration. Make sure you have fluids that you will drink to help keep you from getting dehydrated. Soups are good but they also can be a source of lots of sodium.  Check those labels and select soups that the sodium levels are not as high. Once again, talk to your doctor and/or dietitian for their recommendations.   

I suggest that while you are getting out the sweaters, putting up the storm windows (does anyone do that anymore?), and getting your heating system serviced, you take a few minutes to make sure you are ready with a plan for if you get sick. You will appreciate your efforts if you wake up feeling awful one morning. 

Thanks for reading!

I have to say, I love the colors of fall
Happy Fall!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Support (and I am Not Talking About Underwear)

Diabetes is a chronic disease. There is not a vacation from diabetes. Granted, there are times that are worse than others but it is still constant. 

Come on, we all need a break!

Unfortunately, you can’t take a vacation like you would from work. But there are things you can do to give yourself some help when times get a bit hard. 

Have you thought about a support group? Did your lip just curl with the thought of that? Keep with me here for a minute. I know, when I think of a support group, I think of some church basement, folding chairs, and bad coffee. A group of sad people talking about their problems is what comes to mind. That certainly does not sound like a vacation.

In-Person Groups

Let’s think about what would make a great support group. To raise your spirits, it would have to have people that you would want to spend (granted a small amount of) time with and the group should be pretty upbeat. If it wasn’t upbeat then what kind of vacation would it be? Then what would you want to the group to do? I would suggest to you that while discussion is nice, if there were a mix of programs you might be happier about attending. What if one week there was a demonstration of an exercise that you might not have tried but wanted to know about. Failing that, what if one week the group met outside (where possible) and took a walk? What if one week there was a cooking or nutrition demonstration? What if another week there was a discussion about an aspect of diabetes management? And then to round out the month, how about a group lunch so that there could just be socializing. 

Would you join a group like that? Are you wondering if that group exists? I don’t know but it could. You could start it. How? I think I might start at my doctor’s office or the local Y or the local health department. Talk to them about starting such a group and ask for space to hold meetings. Actually by talking to all groups, you might find people who can help with the meetings.

Also by talking to your doctor’s office or the local Y or your local health department, you might find that a group actually exists and you could join a group that already exists.  

On-Line Groups      

Let’s say you are not the go out and join a group person. How about an on-line group? There are actually a lot of resources and a large on-line diabetes community.  (Commonly referred to as the DOC – Diabetes On-line Community). There is support for all the different kinds of diabetes. You should look for a group that shares your type because you will be able to relate to each other and your issues.  The latest issue of "Diabetes Forecast Magazine" suggests the following groups:

Please remember that you need to be careful with any on-line group.  This is really not the place to reveal your inner secrets. You never know who is listening.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Sun, the Surf, and Your Feet

I am going to talk about feet today. But not perhaps what you might expect. 

Yes, I have talked several times about diabetes and feet. Today, my foot thoughts are for everyone whether they are diabetic or not. 

Things that surprised me about foot melanoma -

1.        It is the most deadly form of melanoma. It is deadly because it is so rarely caught before it has spread.

2.       You can get skin cancer under your nails. If you see a spot under your nail and it does not grow with the nail, you need to go to the doctor right away.  Women should make sure that they look at their nails without polish so that they can see if there are any spots under the nail. 

3.       The bottoms of your feet and between your toes are susceptible to skin cancer.

4.       Melanoma is not as common as other types of cancer but its rates are increasing.

5.       One person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes

You should do periodic self-exams for skin cancer. For directions on how to do a self-exam, there are guidelines from the Skin Cancer Foundation

When you go out, you should be applying sunscreen. Even if you are just making a quick trip to the store. Always apply sunscreen and re-apply it often especially when you are at the beach or pool. Don’t forget to apply it to your feet – top and bottom. 

And for goodness sake, don’t use tanning beds. 

End of lecture for today.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It’s a Turkey! A Three-peat!

It isn't every blog that brings you video of wild turkeys.

How can I shock you this week? I know that having two recipes in a row from me was pretty shocking. 
What is it called in bowling when you have three strikes? A turkey?

I am writing a turkey! Yes, that is three weeks in a row of recipes. 

I really could not help myself with this one. I have to share it. It is so easy that I know you will love it. 

Crock Pot Chicken Pesto - Serves 6

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet of Ranch dressing mix
6 oz. Pesto
½ cup low sodium chicken broth

1.        Spray the inside of your crock pot with a non-stick spray. I do this to be nice to the person who has to do the dishes after dinner. Cleaning the crock pot is often the worst job.
2.       Put the check breasts in the crock pot
3.       Sprinkle the ranch dressing mix over the top of the chicken breasts
4.       Add the pesto over the chicken
5.       Pour in the chicken broth.
6.       Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. 

Nutrition info for 6 chicken breasts (the ones I used were about 9 oz each so they were pretty big), per serving: Calories 455, Fat 16.3g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 151.7g, Sodium 1257.8g, Carbs 6.8g, Dietary Fiber 0.7g, Sugars 1.4g, Protein 61g.

That is it! Really, it is so easy and the chicken comes out moist and tender with some flavor! 

My mistakes –

Really with this recipe you think I made mistakes?  Even I got this one right.

My Suggestions –

I understand that the ranch dip mix is high in sodium so you might want to look for a recipe that you can use to make the powder yourself.  I did a minute’s worth of research and found one recipe here.

This recipe also uses prepared pesto.  It is not exactly light on the calories.  You might want to find a low calorie way to make it yourself.  Here is a "skinny" recipe that you could try from skinny  

Please note - I have not tried either of these recipes.  They are just suggestions for things you could try if you want to cut back.  

This is a great meal for the summer. It takes all of about 2 minutes to put everything in the crock pot and then you can just be ready to serve dinner.  I got the recipe from a friend who made it to serve on the 4th of July.  Everyone loved it and she didn't spend any time making it. 

So make it easy on yourself and try this recipe.   

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 11, 2014

HA! Fooled You! Another Recipe This Week!

This cookbook has a lot of great recipes. 

Just to surprise you, I have another recipe this week. Yes, I have cooked something else new.

This recipe is from the same cookbook that I used last week, The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook.  This book is available from The American Diabetes Association or from Amazon. (The cookbook  is less expensive from Amazon.  If you can buy it from the American Diabetes Association, you are giving to a good organization.)

I will first give the recipe as it is written and then will tell you my mistakes and suggested improvements. Also, in case you are an  intimidated cook, please know that I am a self-professed terrible cook. I do think that if I were  interested in cooking it would help but  I am not that interested. Oh, I LOVE to eat but just not cook.  Given the knowledge that I am not much of a cook, you will know that the recipes I provide are always easy to make. I also like them easy to clean up.  That is why I am drawn to recipes like this one.

Carne Asada Tacos - Serves 8 - Serving size is two tacos

1 lime, juiced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green onions chopped
1 lb. flank steak
1 tbsp. canola oil
16 small whole wheat tortillas (about 6 inches in diameter each)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, garlic, and green onions. Pour into a large sealable bag. Add steak, seal and marinate in refrigerator for 45 minutes
3. Add oil to a medium oven-safe skillet and heat over high heat. Remove steak from marinade and sear on one side for2 minutes. Flip steak, pour marinade over it, and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.
4. Remove steak from oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice meat thinly against the grain.  Divide meat among whole-wheat tortillas.

Calories – 260, Total Fat – 8 g, Saturated Fat – 1.6g, Cholesterol – 20 mg, Sodium – 415 mg, Total Carbohydrate – 29g, Dietary Fiber - 4 g Sugars- 2 g Protein- 15 g

 My mistakes 

I know you will find this hard to believe but I didn't make any significant changes to this recipe. I did use lime juice instead of the juice of a lime.

When you read the directions for this recipe, it sounds like you will be pouring the juices that are left in the bag over the flank steak after you turn it. In reality, there are very few juices.        

I did leave the steak marinating longer than 45 minutes. I didn't think it would really matter. I don't think that it did.

My changes

Okay the recipe calls for you to just put the steak in the tortillas and eat it that way. I did try one that way. While it was okay, there was a strong taste of lime to the taco. We had some salsa that we tried putting with the meat on the tortilla. That just seemed to overpower the whole thing.

Then like Goldilocks I found a way that I felt really worked great. I put the steak on my salad. It was delicious. The lime taste was subdued and it was a great addition to my salad.  So, I would vote that it should be Carne Asada Salad not Carne Asada Tacos.

(Okay, it was good but I will also say that flank steak is not cheap so this is an occasional recipe at best. This is not a weekly staple.)

Have a great week!

Thanks for reading!

Here are some pretty roses for you!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recipe - One Pot Skillet

It has been a long time since I gave you a new recipe to try. If you are thinking it is because I have not been doing much cooking, you might be right but really, you shouldn't think that way about me.  I cook, I really do. I just have not felt like finding new recipes. 

But I decided that it was time to expand the choices again. Also, while I have not made any new recipes, it does not mean that I have not marked recipes that I want to try. 

I have found many good recipes in this cookbook

This week for new recipes, I turned to The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook.  This book is available from The American Diabetes Association or from Amazon. (Sadly, it is less expensive from Amazon but if you can, if you buy from the American Diabetes Association as you will be giving to a good organization.)

If you have followed this blog before, you will know that I will first give the recipe as it is written and then will tell you my mistakes and suggested improvements. Also, in case you are a slightly intimidated cook, please know that I am a self-professed terrible cook. I do think that if I were slightly interested in cooking it would help but generally, I am not that interested. Oh, I LOVE to eat but just not cook.  Given the knowledge that I am not much of a cook, you will know that the recipes I provide are always easy to make. I also like them easy to clean up.  That is why I am drawn to "one pot recipes" like this one. (Oh, and it is a misnomer - it takes two pots) 

One-Pot Skillet – Serves 7 - Serving size 1 cup
2 cups whole-wheat rotini pasta, uncooked
1 lb. lean ground turkey breast
1 medium onion diced
1 14.5 oz can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Splenda
1 cup reduced-fat, shredded Monterey Jack cheese (You can substitute reduced fat mozzarella or Swiss)

1.        Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt. Drain.

2.       In a large skillet, cook ground turkey until it begins to brown, about 6-7 minutes. Drain excess fat. Add onions and sauté about 5 more minutes or until translucent.

3.       Add next six ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 6-7 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Fold in cheese and toss with drained pasta. 

Calories 225, Calories from fat 40, Total Fat 4.5 g, Saturated Fat 2.2g, Cholesterol 55 mg,
Sodium 390 mg, Total Carbohydrate 25g, Dietary Fiber 4 g, Sugars 5 g, Protein 23 g

Did we like it?

Yes, we did. Despite my feelings about the extra lean ground turkey, (see listings of mistakes below)  it was good. 

My mistakes –

First of all, it seems that Silent Sam bought extra lean ground turkey.  It is just my opinion but I would suggest that you not buy extra lean ground turkey.  It is just TOO DRY. You do not have to worry about draining excess fat from it BECAUSE THERE ISN'T ANY. I didn't like the way it cooked.

We also have trouble finding some whole wheat pastas. I used Trader Joe’s Organic vegetable radiator pasta in the recipe. (It is made from organic durum wheat semolina, spinach, beet, red bell pepper and paprika.) I like to use it because it adds color and a different look to a dish.  I cannot tell you if it increased the carbs. 

In our grocery store, crushed tomatoes come in a 28 oz. can. There was not a 14.5 oz. can and really not a no-salt variety. In a moment of inspiration or idiocy, I used a 14.5 oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. The mixture seemed so dry; I thought this might add more liquid. I cannot always explain my thought process. The only thing was that it was the right amount which made it easier. 

I did not add the optional cayenne pepper. I am a spice wimp. 

I also did not add the Splenda. I might have added it if I had it on hand but I was not going to buy Splenda so that I would have 1 tsp. for this recipe. Silent Sam did bring home 3 packets from work the day after I made the recipe. I am not clear as to why you would want the Splenda in the recipe but perhaps my substitution of the diced tomatoes for the crushed tomatoes made the difference. I don’t know.

Also, we did not find reduced fat Monterey jack cheese. I used reduced fat mozzarella. 

What would I change the next time?

I think that I would try making it with the crushed tomatoes and I would experiment with adding more than the 14.5 oz. that the recipe suggests. I think that it depends on what you like - the diced tomatoes are chunky while the crushed tomatoes would probably make more of a sauce. I would also add sliced black olives, spinach, and mushrooms. I think it would add just a bit more flavor without adding many calories.

(Let’s face it – I think that you should add spinach to almost everything. It is good for you and adds color and a bit of flavor to a dish.)

Thanks for reading!

I wish you a safe and happy 4th of July. Please take a quick moment to breathe a "thank you" to all the men and women who have served and currently serve to make our country safe and free. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Vitamin D – What do you know about it?

Sunbathing is mostly a lost art.  Art?

I started paying a bit more attention to vitamin D when my daughter and a friend were told that blood tests indicated that they were deficient in vitamin D. I didn't know that you could be deficient in vitamin D nor did I understand why this was included in the battery of blood tests. 

It seems that research on vitamin D has increased in recent years and the research has indicated that there detrimental effects from having lower levels of vitamin D. 

Why are we low in Vitamin D?

Most of the vitamin D that your body absorbs is from the sun. While you can get some vitamin D from food, you cannot get the amount you need from food. (so much for those Wonder Bread ads!) Vitamin D is absorbed from the sun and collected in the body in a time release method so that when you need it, it will be there waiting. 

When we all started worrying about skin cancer and avoiding sun exposure and wearing sun screen all the time, we have cut back on the collection of vitamin D through our skin. Also, darker skin does not absorb vitamin D as well. Add into the mix the rise in vegetarianism – natural vitamin D comes from some fish, fish liver oils and egg yolks – there has been a drop in the amount of natural vitamin D that we absorb. 

What does Vitamin D do?

We know that vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is used by the body to strengthen bones.
It also seems that in recent years, researchers have been finding a link between a vitamin D deficiency and higher rates of heart disease in African Americans. In the July 2014 issue of “Diabetes Forecast” magazine, there is an article about the American Diabetic Association funding a study by Dr. Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi . The study is looking into the question of correcting the amount of vitamin D deficiency in African Americans and whether that will lead to a slowing or a halt to cardiovascular disease.   

There was also a study done at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City that found that approximately 50 percent of the patients undergoing orthopedic surgery had a vitamin D deficiency. It is felt that if the patients were tested and prescribed a regime of vitamin D to reduce or eliminate the deficiency that surgical outcomes would be improved. As a result of this and other studies, it is much more common to check a patient’s vitamin D levels pre-surgery. 

Wow! Should I go out and start taking Vitamin D supplements?

No you do not take vitamin D supplements without talking to your doctor.  See, you have made this kid yell at you!

This is not a good idea. You should, however, talk to you doctor about it. See if you have been tested for Vitamin D levels with your normal blood tests and what the results were. See what your doctor has to say about the issue.

If you are the “want to proceed before I talk to my doctor” type (yes, I know you…) Then the safest thing for you to do is go outside. Do not take supplements. Go outside for 5 – 10 minutes and expose your skin to the sun. Do this 2 -3 times a week during the summer. Go out in your bathing suit but do not expose your face to the sun.  

Here is the important part – are you listening? – that was 5 – 10 minutes. Not an hour, not 15 minutes. Just a short exposure 2-3 times a week with no sunscreen to have your body absorb some vitamin D.

But really, talk to your doctor.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cutting Costs for Your Health

Do you need to save some money?

You must ask for what you want

At 2 a.m. on March 13, we found out that Silent Sam was unemployed. We found out via an email that SS read because he could not sleep. He had been with the company for 35 years but the creditors had had enough and decided to close the firm. 

We sat in shock and separately wondered what was going to happen now.  Together we tallied up the points in our favor. We had some savings and we could both go out to find new positions. We split up the day’s needed activities. SS had to go on the computer and learn about filing for unemployment and I would go on and find out about getting health insurance. 

In the days to come, we discovered that we were lucky in two other ways. The company SS worked for had two pay day schedules. One week, the hourly employees were paid and the next week the salaried employees were paid.  There had been a glitch with the hourly employee’s checks the week before and they were given checks rather than having their pay direct deposited into their accounts. It seemed that if they didn’t deposit the checks fast enough that the checks bounced once the company was put into bankruptcy. Many of the hourly employees then lost 3 week’s pay when the company was closed. SS as a salaried employee did not get paid but we only lost 2 week’s pay.

Worse than that in some ways was that the health insurance was retroactively cancelled. 

Yes, that can happen. Soon employees started getting bills from doctors and hospitals that they owed a balance because they were effectively uninsured for the last few months.  Because we may have been a bit remiss in going to the doctor, we did not get caught up in this issue. 

So, there were a lot of people who were very unhappy, unemployed and having financial difficulties. 

While we had talked about doing some cutting back, we now had to actually do the cutting. 

Once you start, it gets easier!
This is where it got interesting. We decided that we could live without cable TV. We bought inside antennas – one for upstairs and one for downstairs. We could then get over the air (CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, PBS, WFLD, and more) stations. This saved $120 per month. 

We then looked at our home phone service. We would have cancelled it but I have a parent with dementia and that is the one phone number that has stuck with him and I just could not cut it and confuse him. I did call the phone company. 

Now, I will tell you that this is completely out of my comfort zone. I am not much of a bargainer.  But I steeled myself and called. When I got a customer service representative, I said “I think my rate is too high and I am going to go to your competitor. Would you like to lower my rate?”  Within minutes (and I am not exaggerating) they lowered my rate by one-fourth. I also cut some of the “extras” on the bill and got it reduced in half. Yes, my bill went from $88 per month to $44. 

Based on that call, I called our alarm company. We had had the alarm for 7 years and during that time the rate went up $3-$4 per year. That call was even easier. I used the same line and virtually within seconds they lowered the rate 31 percent.

I then called our wireless provider. Okay, I was not terribly effective there. I did look at what we were using vs. what our plan allowed and was able to lower the bill $10. That did not feel like much of a win but hey, it was $10.

Are you wondering why I am telling you this story? And why am I telling you this story on a blog that normally talks about diabetes?  I guess that I want to tell you that -

It pays to ask.

You might get turned down but at least you tried. And if you don’t get turned down, you have just helped yourself. 

And realistically, when you are calling the phone company or the cable company, the people you are talking to don’t care about you. They either can help you or not; there is no emotion involved.  So it is worth asking. 

I am sure that you can think of things that you should ask about but you hesitate to do it. I would suggest to you that if you have insurance issues that you ask if your doctor might be open to work out some sort of deal with you for payment. Also, I would check prices on the internet. My eye doctor has suggested that I buy an over the counter product to use on my eyes. When I purchased it at the local chain drug store, it was $25. I subsequently found I could get it via the internet for $17. 

Taking care of your financial situation will cause less stress which can affect your health. Make it a game - see how much you can save!

Thanks for reading!

If you read last week's post, (thank you!) the wedding went off beautifully! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

This post is not about diabetes

Sorry, not this week.  My baby is getting married.  I am a bit in shock and so very happy. 

We are so proud of the woman that she has become.She is marrying a great guy.  We are so excited and happy for them. 

So much for health issues this week.  We are celebrating!  

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Take a Little Break Today

Okay, let’s face it dealing with diabetes can be a drag. It is work. It is exhausting, it affects your mood, and you can feel that overall sense of not wanting to put up with this any longer. 

I know.

So, let’s take a vacation for a few minutes. Let’s recharge and go somewhere else - at least in our mind. 

Let’s start with a song. 

So maybe now you are feeling a bit better. Maybe you were even moving to the beat.  Good!
Now let’s think about your perfect day. Here in the Midwest, we had a perfect day on Tuesday. The sun was out, the humidity was low, and it was in the lower 80’s. A beautiful day. To make the day even better the peonys finally started to bloom. They are running about a month behind but there they were showing off their beauty. 

The color of the peony just pops right out at you! 

Thinking about a vacation is something else that can take your mind off diabetes for a few minutes. Where would you go? What would you do? How about an island – one with a rainbow?

Do people ever tire of rainbows?  They always seem special, don't they?

Maybe shopping is something that makes you happy. I am not much of a shopper except for bookstores. I tend not to go to bookstores because, well, the following sums it up perfectly.

I only wish it weren't true!

So think of what you would do on a perfect day. Relax and smile. You deserve the break.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Oh the Game We Could Play...

We dream therefore we are.  

Okay, I had a dream. I know that we all dream all the time and that most of the time the dreams are a bit wacky. I usually don’t remember my dreams much the next day.

But this one stuck with me.

It stuck with me so much that I had to figure out it was a dream.  Not only that, the idea still pops up in my mind occasionally. I have mentioned my dream to several family members and all I have gotten is an eye roll. 

To be honest, it is not a full dream. It is a concept from a dream. I now think of it as the dream that will not die. 

Why am I telling you this? Because my dream has a connection to diabetes. 

Are you ready? Ready to roll your eyes and think that perhaps I have lost my mind?

Diabetes Monopoly

In case you have never seen themed monopoly games, they exist. There is a Star Wars Monopoly,a  Dog-opoly, a Golf-opoly, a  Beatles Monopoly and many more. 

This is a Chicago Edition of Monopoly.  It is really old.  You can tell, one of the squares is Marshall Fields.

That is it. I just keep thinking about it. Why anyone would want to play it seems to be a mystery but just give me a moment. 

I wonder if it could be a teaching tool in schools. Perhaps there could be a junior edition for lower grades and a regular edition for older grades. It could teach the non-diabetic students about diabetes. 

What do you think? Are you rolling your eyes or wondering if it could work?  I am hoping now that I have put the concept out that I will stop thinking about it. I don’t think it will work but now I will let you think about it.  Let me know what you think!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  As I was putting this post together to go online, I was looking for images to put into the post.  THE GAME EXISTS!!!  So I will accept the apologies from all of you who were making fun of me.

Thanks for reading!