The Skinny on Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks its own pancreas affecting its ability to produce insulin; this usually happens at a young age.  In this case scenario, insulin has to come into your body from outside a good example of which is an insulin pump.  FYI not all autoimmune disorders happen at a young age.

Type 2 diabetes is a different ball game.  Contrary to the popular belief, increased sugar consumption doesn’t cause type 2 diabetes.

Just because type 2 diabetes is linked to high levels of blood sugar, it may seem logical to assume that eating too much sugar is the cause of diabetes.  However, it’s not that simple.  High-sugar diet can increase the risk of developing diabetes but doesn’t directly cause it.  There is no proven link between the two.   By analogy, driving on the road can increase your risk for an accident but a mere fact of driving doesn’t cause it.

What happens with type 2 is that people develop insulin resistance.  Here’s how it works.  When you consume sugar, it attaches to hemoglobin that delivers it to your body cells to be used for energy.  Think about insulin as a key to open the door (of a cell) to let glucose in.  In case of insulin resistance the door won’t open and glucose can’t get in.  As a result, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed by the cells.

It is believed that excess weight and physical inactivity largely contribute to the insulin resistance.  Genetics play a role, as well.

How type 2 diabetes is diagnosed:  A1C test   A1C test kit

A1C is a widely used test to diagnose type 2 diabetes. It is also called HbA1C or glycated hemoglobin test.  Hemoglobin is a substance found in the red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout your body.  When blood sugar level is elevated, sugar combines with hemoglobin making it “glycated” in which case scenario A1C test shows an elevated number.  This test is being used to show how well your diabetes is being controlled.  Since red blood cells live up to 3 months, this test should be at this interval.   This very test was used to diagnose my type 2 diabetes.

For people without diabetes, the normal range for the A1C test is between 4% and 5.6%.  A1C levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes and levels of 6.5% or higher indicate diabetes.  The goal for people with diabetes is a A1C level less than 7%.  The higher the A1C number is, the higher the risks of developing diabetes-related complications.



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Today’s Prompt: PANIC

When one says, I am in panic, this doesn’t automatically imply that they are actually having a panic attack; might as well be anxious.  There is a difference between the two;  I have blogged about this last week.   Read more here


The Daily Prompt: PANIC



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Five stages of sleep and what affects them

One of my readers has asked me to write an article about insomnia.  In view of this, I am going to talk about sleep first.

When you observe someone sleeping, what do you think?  He or she is just lying there and appears to be in quite a peaceful, passive state.  However, the looks can be deceiving as our brains are actually very active during sleep.  Who would have thought?

The state of being asleep or awake is controlled by the various neurotransmitters, or special chemicals that act on the different groups of neurons, or nerve cells.  Some of them keep the parts of the brain active when we’re awake, while the others, signal when we fall asleep.  The latter appear to switch off the signals that keep us awake.  Everything in this area seems to be highly organized.


During sleep, we usually pass through five stages:  1, 2, 3, 4, and REM, in this sequence, and then starting with stage 1 all over again.  Stage 1 is light sleep; in it, our eyes move slowly and we can be awakened easily.   In stages 2, 3, and 4, our brain waves become slower.  Stages 3 and 4 are called deep sleep; it’s very difficult to wake someone during these two stages.  There’s no eye movement or muscle activity.  Those awakened during deep sleep, do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy for a few minutes after they wake up.  Night terrors or sleepwalking in children often occur during deep sleep.

Our bodies are more active during REM sleep, a crucial part of the sleep cycle.  REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement.  In this stage, the breathing is more rapid, the eyes jerk rapidly in various directions, the heart rate increases and blood pressure rises.  This stage is when our dreams occur.

Adults spend almost 50% of the total sleep time in stage 2, about 20% in REM sleep, and the balance in the other remaining stages.  On the other hand, infants spend about half of their sleep time in REM sleep.  Sweet dreams!

Remember the highly organized neurotransmitters described a few paragraphs ago?  These can be influenced by some foods & certain medications that change the balance of the signals.  This in turn affects how well we sleep, and whether we feel alert or drowsy.  This can lead to insomnia or inability to sleep.


The food list includes caffeinated drinks such as coffee, chocolate, MSG (monosodium glutamate), spicy food and more.  Alcohol, commonly known as night cap, does help people fall into light sleep, but it robs them of REM and deep, restorative stages of sleep.  It keeps them in the lighter stages from which they can be awaken easily.

The medications affecting sleep include those that treat high blood pressure, corticosteroids, statins, antidepressants, and more.

Getting enough sleep is important, as lack of it can affect our daily activities.  Feeling drowsy during the day often means that you haven’t had enough sleep.  Microsleeps, or very brief episodes of sleep in an otherwise awake person, are another mark of sleep deprivation that can be dangerous.  Since drowsiness is the brain’s last step before actually falling asleep, driving while drowsy can cause a disaster.  If you feel drowsy at the wheel, it is recommended to stop and take a walk.

Only now do I realize that I might have experienced microsleeps when coming home from working a night shift.  Drowsy for sure.  Since stopping on a highway can be challenging, the alternative is ice cubes.  Grab a bucket of these before heading home, and slip them one at a time in your mouth.  This works wonders.

This will conclude my post about Sleep.  Will cover  Insomnia in my next post.  Stay tuned.


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Today’s Prompt: Silence. Presidential race and mental illnesses

The presidential race is in full motion while the candidates are far from being silent.  Amidst all this, GOP Presidential candidate Ben Carson has made a public statement saying that Muslims who embrace American values have to be ‘schizophrenic’.


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This statement can produce a vast number of consequences for people with mental illnesses.  Aside from the fact that the word ‘schizophrenic’ in itself is a label, the mere diagnosis of schizophrenia can now have a negative connotation attached.  It implies that people with mental illnesses are somehow inferior to everyone else, including but not limited to schizophrenia alone.

By generalization, everyone with a mental disorder can now be viewed as automatically disobeying the law.  This gives a whole new meaning to a mental illness in general.  Imagine cops seeing someone acting odd, say having a Tourette syndrome.  They might just take them into custody based on the premise that a mental illness equals noncompliance with the law.  So don’t you dare to have depression or a panic attack while out in the street or you’ll pay the consequences.

I think that this comment is totally out of place.  Banning Muslims is one thing but labeling them with a possible mental disorder is quite another.  Please note, the word possible is mine.

More so, the good doctor specializes in neurosurgery.  This specialty covers things like brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, congenital abnormalities etc.  The treatment is usually invasive, such as, well, surgery.  The neurosurgeons however, don’t treat mental issues.  The latter belongs to the psychiatrists, and the treatment is usually non-invasive such as a combination of therapy and medications.

Therefore, a neurosurgeon is not qualified to diagnose mental disorders.  Dr Carson however  implies that his being a medical doctor gives him the necessary credibility to diagnose illnesses outside his scope of practice.  But then again, he is not making a formal diagnosis; just speculates in public.  Whatever it takes to please the crowd and advance in the presidential race.

According to Quora, his chances to win are very small regardless.

This post was inspired by Dr Carson’s statement which coincided with the Daily Prompt:  SILENCE

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5 Things to remember when everything goes wrong

Positive Ponders

We expect something in life but it turns out to be something else unexpected and problematic.However the troubles we face will lead us to better path in life by teaching us valuable lessons of life.There is always always always something to be thankful for. One must wake up every day feeling thankful for life because somebody somewhere else is fighting for theirs.

“Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe

Few things to remember when everything goes wrong:

1) Everything happens for a reason;Learn to appreciate the good in bad things :

When I lost my job I realized the importance of having one. When I believed a liar I learnt not to trust anyone other than myself. When I went bankrupt I learnt the value of savings.When I had to live away from family I realized the love of my family.Everything happens…

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Today’s Prompt: FRAGILE. Fear of heights, tow trucks, and stigma


Fear of heights or acrophobia has been with me for as long as I can remember; this has started when I was a kid. I don’t see anything much wrong with it as outside of this, I can function pretty well in life, and I don’t think this makes me fragile. Before going on disability, I had a busy life. Raising my kids, working long hours, of course driving, and generally did what I had to do. I was able to function pretty well but just won’t go in the high places, period.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not seeking advices how to overcome this. Although some sources are trying to motivate you to confront and treat it, I am not going this way. I am baffled by the statements that if left untreated, it’ll get worse. Beats me how they arrived at this conclusion. How do they know? My phobia isn’t getting any better or worse but is just being there and not going anywhere. I simply avoid the situations where I can experience this fear, that’s all. Problem solved.

Enter tow trucks. Years ago, I had experienced my first dash light. In hindsight, I could’ve continued driving but anxiety got the best of me & I called AAA who sent a tow truck my way. And here he comes.

These trucks traditionally have slightly higher positioned seats which I had to climb into. I managed with a little difficulty that didn’t escape the tow truck driver’s attention. As the truck started going, I became slightly uncomfortable in my higher seat, although didn’t utter a word.  This however didn’t go unnoticed by the driver which explains his further actions.

Aside from the fact that he chose the longest way around to rack in more miles, he made a brief stop at a convenience store. In he goes for a cup of coffee while I’m staying behind. Then he appears and offers me a free coffee if I only as much as step down and get off the darn truck. I said no. He proceeded on teasing me in this direction but finally quit. I was feeling horrible, while at the same time unsure as to what to say. Intimidated, humiliated, vulnerable, and plain hateful. I hated the truck driver and myself at the same time. I was tempted to up and run but where to? Being about a hundred or so miles from home doesn’t make the task easier.

Finally made it home and the truck driver made a faint attempt to help me off the truck. Instead of saying, screw you, I bit my tongue and made it down on my own.

My last experience with yet another tow truck was a polar opposite. It was earlier today when I couldn’t start my car so I called AAA and requested a tow. My prayers came true and this one has a flatbed. Getting in and out was a cinch since this truck had a hand rail, I think this is the name of it, that I could grab a hold of while getting in and out. The driver didn’t have an attitude and I left positive feedback for this company all over the net.

Good thing I don’t ride tow trucks on a daily basis.

Beats me why some folks come with an attitude. What is wrong with some people? This is a rhetoric question. Thanks for reading this.


This story was inspired by my feelings and the Daily Prompt: Fragile. Still, I don’t think that I was being fragile, albeit only emotionally and for a brief moment in time…

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Anxiety disorder or panic attack, oh my

In this post I will discuss anxiety and panic as these two terms are oftentimes being used interchangeably. More so, the word attack is frequently attached to either one and both are often used to mean the same thing. Technically this isn’t right.

All mental disorders are classified in a special manual, DSM 5 or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. It doesn’t have Anxiety Attack listed at all, but it has Anxiety Disorder as well as Panic Attack.

This in itself is very telling. The mere word disorder implies a relatively slow process that can last a long time, whereas the word attack suggests a sudden onset, often without warning, intense, doesn’t last long and usually ends up in the same way it started. You can think about an attack as a blood sugar spike that promptly drops, while a disorder is more like Type 2 Diabetes that tends to develop rather slowly.

Anxiety is a normal emotion and a natural body response to just about any stressful situation. This however isn’t always a bad thing. Generally, anxiety is a part of a fight-or-flight protective response to a real or perceived danger. This response calls for your attention to a problem at hand and motivates you to seek a solution. And boy, did it motivate me to do just that. I posted about it only a few hours ago.

If however anxiety persists, becomes constant and affects your everyday life, then it is a disorder. Anxiety Disorder is usually a reaction to a stressor and has a slow onset, while a Panic Attack is generally unprovoked and occurs suddenly.

The symptoms of Anxiety Disorder are less intense than those of a Panic Attack. They can include worrying, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, increased heart rate and breathing, heart palpitations, trembling, numbness, or being detached from yourself, etc. The treatment can include therapy, meds, self-help or a combination of these.

The main difference between the two is that anxiety is a reaction to a stressor and is longer lived than a panic attack does. Attack, on the other hand, starts suddenly, is intense and occurs without a warning. Like, out of the blue. A single panic attack can peak within about 10 minutes and then subsides. However if a few panic attacks occur in a succession, then all of them together can last longer than a single attack and it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
As far as my own reaction to my car problems, now I don’t think that I had a panic attack; it was more like anxiety that right now all but gone.

Then again, my procrastinating nature kicks in that tells me, whatever unfolds, it’s tomorrow but not today. Take it easy and procrastinate for the time being.  On top of it all, I am able to function and my life doesn’t fall apart on that account. Admittedly I was anxious that motivated me to seek a solution, part 2 of which is to be continued tomorrow. And this whole incident doesn’t feel like the end of the world. Here’s to hoping it won’t turn out to be anything big, knock on the wood.

Will post about the types of anxiety next. Stay tuned.


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Today’s Prompt: SLOG. How to cope with anxiety when having a car trouble

I was thrown into the anxiety-bordering-with-panic mode today, when my beloved Beetle won’t start. Turn the key all I might, all to no avail. I was promptly in denial, then in disbelief, and then I was bargaining and more…  went through all the stages of dying yet to no avail.  I tried in vain to slog my way through this. But it just won’t start and if this wasn’t enough already, a few lights popped up on the dash.


Image Credit:  Pixabay

I was like, OMG so I am not going anywhere after all. Have sold a vintage plate on eBay but am unable to bring it to the PO;  will have to arrange have it picked up. Hopefully will be able to up and go tomorrow; yeah right, wishful thinking. So much for the grocery shopping at least for tonight.

I think the way my body reacted is perfectly normal. My car is out of business for no apparent reason and I am totally helpless. That nagging feeling of being helpless in any stressful situation is what’s eating up at you.

The lights weren’t on but then they shouldn’t be on. One of the great features of this car is that if I leave the lights on while opening the door, the beeping sound will come on and then I’ll know. But the lights weren’t on and the switch was in the off position. So I didn’t cause the untimely demise of whatever died inside my Bug. A small consolation.

The best way to deal with anxiety and panic is to distract yourself from what’s going on and start doing something in the proactive direction. Blog about it or call AAA Club, or both, which is exactly what I did. And it even worked. Now I am pretty sure that’s what AAA Club was founded upon to begin with, to alleviate panic attacks of the unfortunate car owners whose cars just won’t start.

I have chosen to go through the AAA website instead of calling. This worked, and a truck arrived. The man popped up my hood, attached some device to the battery, after which he started it without a problem. He however advised to take the car to a shop tomorrow.

And I thought they’d replace the darn battery? Nope. Chances are, the problem lies in more than just a battery. I was offered a tow that I declined as with my luck, all the shops are closed already. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow. The nearest shop is about a mile away, accessible by the rapid transit that I haven’t taken in the longest time.

I’m still working on the types of anxiety post, it’s just that this problem has gotten in the way. This is just a temporary setback.

This post was written to offer a way to cope with anxiety when having a car trouble, and it just so happened that the Daily Prompt – SLOG was right on.

P.S.  The AAA link is not affiliate.  AAA Club has no idea that my blog exists;  I have linked to them out of gratitude.

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