Guest Post on Joslin Diabetes Center Blog

Today, I’m honored to have a guest post appear on the Joslin Diabetes Center Blog, about following a Paleo lifestyle living with type 1 diabetes. I still receive a lot of questions, so I hope this touches on some of them.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity to reach a much more broad audience on this topic!

Guest Blog Post: Paleo and Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes Blog Week 2014 Day 1-Causes and Issues

Let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up. Are you passionate about 504 plans and school safety? Do diabetes misconceptions irk you? Do you fight for CGM coverage for Medicare patients, SDP funding, or test strip accuracy? Do you work hard at creating diabetes connections and bringing support? Whether or not you “formally” advocate for any cause, share the issues that are important to you. (Thanks go out to Kim of Texting my Pancreas for inspiring this topic.)

I’ve thought long and hard about this topic, because there are about a million different things related to living with diabetes, that I’m extremely passionate about; I think they can just about all be summed up with two words: outreach and connection.

The outreach aspect is kind of what it’s always been about for me (well, post diagnosis depression phase, which was about 1 1/2 years). When I was first diagnosed with T1D, the circumstances were less than desirable and for the most part, I was on my own with regard to healthcare, understanding, and learning about T1D (except for hubs and family!). Where do you go to learn? Google. I found a forum and was promptly attacked for my lack of knowledge with regard to T1D (mind you, I’d had it about 4 weeks), and that’s when someone reached out to me to offer help and support. The series of events that transpired after that initial contact brought a whole group of amazing T1D adults and parents of children with T1D into my regular, daily life. They taught me everything I know today, and for that, I am eternally thankful. I’m still in touch with all of these individuals today (and have met many in person over the years), and here we are 7 1/2 years running (where is that cure?). I quickly realized how important connections are, so I set out to be involved and “out” there, to provide the same support and knowledge I’d gained, for those that find themselves in my initial shoes. Nobody deserves disrespect, to be alone or to be judged.

Connecting for me, in part, stems from outreach and has come in many different forms. This disease is relentless and most often silent, so I’ve forced myself to not be so quiet when connecting with others, and improving lives of those living with diabetes. Whether it’s volunteering, fundraising, leading teams, speaking to groups about diabetes, advocating, writing letters, social media and blogging, giving presentations to companies, there is always someone I meet affected by diabetes, and if not, you most certainly have an instant connection with others living with the disease that understand you. Priceless!

Outreach and connections are what have got me to where I am today, and I’m so thankful for all of the experiences, opportunities and wonderful individuals in my life, as a direct result of putting myself out there.

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes – 2013

I have been extremely busy lately, therefore, lack of blog posts. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about all the things on multiple lists that I have written down to blog about, daily 🙂

I’ve been busy, because it’s JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes season, which for me, is about a 7 month process, but is very intense for me for about two months each fall. If you don’t know who JDRF is, they’re the non-profit organization that is solely dedicated to preventing, treating, and curing type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed at the age of 25, and have been involved across all areas ever since, starting with the Tidewater Chapter in Virginia Beach, VA. When we relocated to San Diego, the Chapter was one of the first places I went.

Until recently I was the Volunteer Outreach Chair (VOC) for the San Diego Chapter, for a couple years; I was elected to the JDRF San Diego Board of Directors in June 2012, and just started my second year on the Board, and I’m the President of the San Diego YLC – Young Leadership Committee, a new initiative for the chapter. I am also a mentor for those in their time of need. I help lead my companies corporate JDRF Walk team each fall with different events throughout Walk season.

This will be my 7th walk, and I will go over $30,000 personally fundraised! I do it, because I believe in the organization, and what they’re doing. They still give me hope today. I have remained firm in my commitment to them. If you have time, please read my 2013 fundraising letter: T1D, A Family Disease, and consider supporting the cause if you can. I promise, I represent your dollars to the best of my ability.

Diabetes Firsts

For the first time in my 6 years living with diabetes I want to take my insulin pump off. While, it may not seem like a big deal to some, it is to me. I’ve reached a new point in my diabetes life and am experiencing another diabetes first.

I long to roll around on my sides and not get tangled in tubing or have to move the pump. I want to get a massage without having my therapist work around my site and not having an area massaged. I want my chiropractic adjustments to not be awkward and feel the cannula poking my muscle. I want to be able to put lotion on in the morning, without having to work around an infusion site, I want to be able to rub and itch my skin like anybody else does. I want to not have an abdomen and sides that look like pin cushions from bleeding, bruising, painful sites.

A couple weekends ago, Seth and I laid low and stayed in, relaxing at home. We went to bed early on Saturday, I crawled into bed, got cozy, then said, “fuck, I have to change my site.” I ripped it off, and felt this sudden freedom; I started giggling, rolling around and rubbing on my sides like I haven’t done in years? I laid there for a while, before finally dragging my ass out of bed and changing my site, since you know, I have to have insulin or I’ll die and I’m a responsible adult. This insertion stung a little more than usual, perhaps because my 10 minute freedom was no more. Since that night, I’ve been thinking about it constantly.

I know my feelings are normal, but they’re not normal for me. It’s an odd feeling to want things you’ve never wanted before and in a million years, I would have never thought I’d be saying, “I’m really tired of having this fecking medical device attached to me 365/24/7!”

Interesting when the pump itself has provided me with so many freedoms, yet I want freedom from it.

T1D, Treating Lows, and Paleo

I’ve received a lot of inquiries about how I treat low blood sugars when they occur, living the Paleo lifestyle, with T1D. Not easy, and something that I was fearful, of prior to starting Paleo. Now, I’ve become so comfortable with it, I don’t give it a second thought. Honestly, this was one of the biggest hurdles for me, and the thing I was most nervous about.

Living Paleo, I have far fewer low blood sugars than I used to as a result of being far more stable (props to the Dexcom CGM too, as it makes me aware when I am randomly dropping, or whatever, (T1D is lame)), but we all know T1D, and how psychotic it can be-so I do still encounter them here or there without notice or warning. When I do, this is how I treat them:

  • Honey Stinger, Gold Energy Gel (1 pouch 29g carb)
  • Chocolate Agave #9 Slo-burn Energy (1 pouch, 14g carb)
  • Blue Diamond Vanilla Almond Milk (8oz, 15g Carb)
  • Lara Bars (depends on kind of bar, but typically 19-24g carb)
  • Revolution Foods, Organic Mashups (1 pouch 13g carb! Organic too)
  • POM Juices (~74g carb per bottle)
  • Naked Juices (varies, anywhere from 30-60g carb)
  • Fresh fruit (varies depending on the fruit)
  • Home dried fruit (pineapple, grapes, strawberries)
  • GlucoLift all Natural Glucose Tablets (proudly, a part of the Non-GMO project, they rock, and so does their creator, Chris Angell, also living with T1D)

The honey stinger, vanilla almond milk, organic mashups, POM Juice, Naked juice, fresh fruit, and GlucoLift are fast acting carbs, for me (you might be surprised how fast acting they are for you, too, especially, red seedless grapes). The Chocolate Agave #9, and Lara Bars, are slower acting. It depends on how fast I’m dropping, if I have insulin working, if I’m performing some type of activity, etc.

Here are some real life examples:

If I’m sitting at my desk and it’s 2:30 in the afternoon, with just a faint memory of lunch bolus left, but I’m on the lower side, I’ll eat an apple or other fresh fruit, free of charge, sometimes a Lara Bar. If I am at home, getting ready for bed, after a walk with my Lucy dog, and I’m hovering a little lower than preferred, I’ll pour and drink 6-8oz of vanilla almond milk and call it a night. If I’m hiking and at a good level, but with a lengthy distance, I’ll have a Chocolate Agave #9 (OMG, DARK CHOCOLATE AND AGAVE), tastes like the best dark chocolate frosting, ever, with only 2 ingredients!

Depending on the patterns I’ve seen, I will adapt. I take my lunch to work almost every day, and when I don’t, I pack extra fruit, juices, etc. just in case I need them. Sometimes, it may be a sip, and other times, it might be the whole bottle; either way, I’m prepared.

At first, it really didn’t seem that convenient to me, but it is more convenient than you’d think, healthier (vitamins and minerals, instead of high fructose corn syrup, etc.), and actually pretty easy (can you throw a banana in your purse, grab an apple out the door? Probably!). Apples, pears, bananas, grapes, etc. are just as “fast” as starburst, smarties and caramels.

Is it 100% Paleo, no. Do I always have a choice with T1D? No. I do the best I can.