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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1.  DISCLAIMER

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Posted in A1C, About diabetes, blood sugar, diabetes, diet, Health, insulin resistance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

111 is my lucky number today

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This was my morning fasting BG number today.

I don’t usually check my morning fasting BG every day. Heck not even every week. But lately when I do check it, it’s always good, no matter what.

And how reliable is it? Just as reliable as your meter. If you check your BG with another meter, chances are the numbers will be different. Some folks actually do this, not sure why. Some will check their BG after meals, about half an hour after, to see as they claim, how different foods affect them. I am not one of them. I only check my morning blood sugar level, and even then, only when a mood strikes or if I try a different food. Not that postprandial number matters unless of course it was doctor ordered. In my opinion, morning fasting BG is more than enough. What actually matters is the average levels detected by A1C test. Even that one is as reliable as the equipmentthat the lab is using. If you change doctors or if the lab is using a different meter, guess what. This will reflect on your numbers and not always in a good way.

Then again, the food including how much, how often, and the sequence. And if this wasn’t enough, the season of the year, your physical activity, whether or not you happened to be sick otherwise, pain, hormonal changes and more. Things happen when you sleep such as Dawn phenomenon or a Somogyi effect that I blogged about a few years ago https://comeinsitdown.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/morning-highs/

Good carbs, bad carbs, sugar-free – oh this is my favorite. A while ago I discovered sugar-free pancake syrup and was proud of myself for doing so. However my pride was short lived as the BG numbers went up. Turned out it does contain sugar albeit a different variety but it managed to raise my BG number. Off to the trash it went and I developed a habit of ALWAYS reading the ingredients labels.

Diabetes in control website claims that 2 tablespoons of vinegar before a meal will reduce the postprandial BG numbers. Have no way to test this as I don’t check postprandial BG. I don’t even check morning fasting each and every morning. This morning I was in the mood so went ahead and did it. Wow, 111. I braced myself for a higher number because my neuropathy was acting up lately and this can affect blood sugar levels, too. But no. Today is my lucky day. Cheers

Posted in diabetes, diabetes management | Tagged , , , , ,

Diabetic neuropathy, again!

Lately my feet were acting up.  Killing me.  I thought it was neuropathy and maybe arthritis too. Either way it was bad. Hot shower helped but only briefly, and then the pain was right back. Both numbness and pain at the same time that is difficult to explain to someone who never experienced this.

I considered the possibilities. Haven’t seen my doctor in ages and haven’t taken any meds in about the same time span. Maybe the time has come to reverse aka see the doc and ask for some meds. Argh. Hated even thinking about it.

And then it dawned on me. Diabetic socks of course!  And here they are.

July 31. D socks

I am getting these babies free each month through my insurance plan, Aetna. Yep, Aetna gives you a monthly allowance, $15 for me, and then I can pick some freebies online within the allowance. I usually pick the socks and a couple more of this and that. Hey they are free. Listed as Diabetic Socks in the list of freebies yet the package says Comfort Socks. Anyway, all purpose socks that worked magic for me. I’ve accumulated tons of them that were quietly sitting in a drawer up until now.

Whatcha know, it worked. Yay! In addition to wearing these socks, I upped the heat a bit for a while.  The temps dropped to about upper 60s so I figured why not.  Both are free because of what Aetna is doing, and because the heat is included in the monthly condo fee. Long live freebies!

I feel like a million dollars now that the pain is gone. Doing a happy dance.

Posted in diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Overcoming the Writer’s Block

Last time I posted, one of my readers suggested to overcome the writer’s block. I am working on it. Meantime, here a few quotes on the subject.

Writer’s Block Quotes
Source: dictionary.com

1 Benjamin Franklin
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”                                                                                               – Benjamin Franklin

The first half of this quote is this post. The second one is in the works

 

Isaac Asimov

“Writing to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”                                 – Isaac Asimov

  Am working on the connection.

Lee Iacocca

“The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.”
– Lee Iacocca

Am trying to make that first step right now and here.

 

Anne Lamott

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.”                                          – Anne Lamott

Posted in blogging, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

My new computer

As you might as well noticed, I have taken a long break from blogging. Full five months, no kidding. Just drew a blank and didn’t know what to write about. Nothing much is happening, my diabetes is still here and so is the neuropathy. I am not on any meds, managed not to take any pain pills and just live one day at a time. I firmly believe that all meds have side effects and we are overmedicated in general. This however is food for thought for another post that I will do eventually. So here I am, meds-free. Hot shower helps.

Meanwhile I have a new computer. Completely brand new, HP Pavilion 15. I had it free in exchange for my review which was positive as I just love it. It runs very cool compared to my old Dell Latitude.

It runs Windows 10 Home that I am still taking time to get acquainted with. Hated the password screen but had to live with it or so I thought. Entering password on wakeup was there by default. Argh.

Needless to say, I didn’t like it and googled the ways to get rid of it. Done and over with, password enter screen is gone but so is Win+X shortcut. Since it was here before my password screen tweaking, there was an obvious connection between the two. Win + X keyboard shortcut is beautiful. Here now, a screenshot showing what it can do in Win 10. It does something different in Win 7.

Win + X

I had to make a choice and decided to re-activate the password screen. However after doing so, I noticed that the password screen didn’t come back which is good. But Win+X shortcut came right back, and I am just as happy. Don’t ask me to explain.

Go figure.

Posted in computers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Brown fat, cold weather and diabetes

About a week ago my morning fasting BG was a whopping 118; I couldn’t believe it. Thinking that it must have been a bad strip or a glitch of sorts, I rechecked and it was about the same. Ditto for the postprandial BG that I usually don’t check.

I was baffled. How come? C’mon now, I didn’t eat anything I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t do absolutely anything to cause this. Where did this come from? In an instant I could foresee diabetes meds in my near future. Oh no, not me.

I turned to the internet and after a bit of googling found out that it could be the cold weather to blame. A number of websites including Healthline report a higher A1C as well as more people diagnosed with diabetes in the colder months.  What’s more, diabetes is more common in European countries that in say, Africa or South America, because it’s colder up north in Europe. And there is a reason for it. It all has to do with the brown fat and adaptation to cold.

Back in the prehistoric days, says Healthline, our ancestors lived in constant freezing temperatures. For that reason, they had lots of brown fat so they could have become insulin resistant to raise blood sugar as well as raise the freezing point of their bodies, while at the same time giving their brown fat plenty of fuel to keep them warm. As brown fat plays a role in glucose control, their BG levels never reached critical levels, so they were able to survive.

Now this starts making sense. I knew it wasn’t me, I just knew it. And now turns out that it was the cold weather to blame.

In the next day when the weather warmed up a bit, my fasting number was 105. And then a 100.

That’s more like it. I don’t check my fasting BG every day. I do it about once or twice a week. Looking back at my records, I noticed that the numbers in the winter time are around 100, while at summer they are typically in the mid 90s.

Oh well. You live and learn.

Posted in blood glucose, diabetes, diabetes management | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Blue Light Eye Opener

The reason I’m saying this is because I am the last person on earth to have learned about the mere existence of a blue light. My (now former) eye doctor didn’t utter a word about it, either for lack of knowledge or who knows why. Up until searching the net, I was clueless. And discovered the blue light while searching how to manage my CAT. For those unfamiliar, CAT is my own abbreviation for the cataract that I blogged about earlier.  I am far more comfortable with a short form rather than spelling it all out. Yikes.

Our eyes are vulnerable things, and usually we take the ability to see for granted. However, a matter as trivial as looking at a computer screen while blogging away can do much harm, and not only to the eye lenses but to the retina as well. The latter can result in macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness. Contrary to the popular belief, not caused by diabetes but by exposure to the blue light. This is according to the All About Vision website but not an eye doctor?  Unbelievable.  Smh

To deal with the blue light, you need to find some ways to block it. Enter blue light blockers (eyeglasses), whether with magnification or not. Yes, they do exist. Not sure that my now former eye doctor was even aware about it. But now I know, bingo. Long lives internet.

Off I went to buy said glasses. This took some time and lots of googling. The choices are endless to send my head spinning. There are distance eyeglasses, readers, sunreaders, of course blue light blockers and countless combinations of all to boot. And if this wasn’t enough, there are literally tons of features to consider.

After you hopefully figured out what you want, you have to make sure that your new glasses are a good fit. Welcome to a virtual fitting room for lack of a better word. Roll up your sleeves and measure the following using your existing glasses as a template. I’m talking about things like lens height and width, ditto for the frame; add a bridge width and an arm length to the mix, and with a little bit of luck you will get the picture.

After looking high and low on the net, I came across this wonderful website that describes the eyeglass frames in great detail. Eye Heart, based in California.

1. eye heart

Image Source: EyeHeart.com

Found this one on the Amazon website:

2. measurements

Image Source: Amazon.com

I have ended up with a pair of Eyekepper reading glasses from Amazon that are only slightly amber tinted therefore provide only about 20% blue light protection. I really wanted more protection, something that Uvex glasses would provide, and I don’t really care if I see everything amber tinted.

As long as I know that my eyes are protected, this is all that matters. Uvex glasses unfortunately don’t come with magnification. Besides, turned out that most folks (buyers) don’t like too much of an amber tint therefore Eyekepper doesn’t make them this way, so I am currently putting up with the less protection. Still better than nothing.

The Eyekepper glasses came in a nice zipped hard case that did wonders to having things organized. Now I know exactly where my beautiful blue light blockers are instead of looking up all over the place, oh where did I put the darn glasses? No more.

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But you know what? Since wearing these glasses, I started sleeping at night. You hear this from a non-believer as I have always thought that the melatonin production in relation to the blue light blockers eyeglasses is nothing but a sales pitch. But have to admit, I was wrong. You know how easy it is to admit your wrong? Yea right. This is exactly where I am right now.

Zzzz

I have learned to sit about 20 inches away from the screen, use ambient light when the  room is dark and nothing but a TV or a computer is on, as well as take breaks from sitting by the screen. Perfect time to do some chores waiting on the back burner to eventually get done. Such as bringing my shower curtain liner back to life. Here’s to hoping that all this will help me to buy more time being able to see.

 

UPDATE: after all said and done, I went on browsing WordPress for the similar posts and found this gem. Here now, Helen Hayward is talking about a certain eye exam that her doctor was unaware of. No kidding! Perhaps we should set up a society of the eye doctors who lack in knowledge… something like that.

Read her post here:  blue light

Posted in Blue light, cataract, How to buy eyeglasses, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My CAT

No am I not talking about a kitty cat.  In this post I want to cover cataracts.  I really don’t like this word; sounds like something creepy straight out from Halloween walking around… can’t even describe. I would much rather use the first three letters and call it CAT (all caps on purpose).

In a nutshell, CAT is a cloudy area in the eye lens. The lens is located in the front part of the eye, right behind the iris.  Normally when the lens is clear, the light enters the eye through said lens and focuses a clear image on the retina, much like a camera does. When however lens is cloudy (or you jerk the camera), the image goes blur. Uh oh.

Here is what our eyes are made of.

See the lens?  There is a nucleus right smack in the middle of it.  Not seen in this picture but trust me, it is there.  Will come back to this later when I describe the types of a CAT.

I first learned about having a CAT about a year or two ago.  Based on the fact that I am still able to see, I assume that mine is a slowly developing kind.  Likely a result of a lifelong sun exposure.  Once I learned that, all my going to the beach flashed in front of me, and I wanted to beat myself up.  Not that it would help any.  But the good news is, this probably is not diabetes related.  Actually my diabetes is under control now.  This morning my fasting number was 94.

IMG_1015-001

As my eye doctor was silent about the details of my CAT, naturally I turned to the internet.  And came across this great website, VisionAware that describes the CAT types in great detail.

There are three types of a CAT.  And contrary to the popular belief, not all of them are caused by diabetes.  If you however do a google search for causes of a CAT, the first two that pop up are older age and, you guessed it, diabetes. This sounds almost politically correct, however is not always true.  There are other reasons including trauma, inflammation and certain meds; and CAT can also happen to babies or older kids with no diabetes in sight.

The first type is a Nuclear CAT.  Remember nucleus inside the lens?  This is it. Exactly the part that gets damaged.  Nucleus begins to harden, and when that happens, the trouble begins yet progresses slowly and silently (without symptoms) for many years before it begins to actually affect vision.

Traditionally and not surprisingly, Nuclear CAT is associated with aging.  However merely growing older does not cause CATs.  The damage begins when one is still fairly young but then the CAT is relatively small and doesn’t affect vision, hence is not detected.  Only later on when it does affect vision, you see your doctor and receive the breaking news.  Of course  the jury is out on this one and you can find plenty of different opinions on the net. But I believe this is exactly what happens and the developing of a CAT is not necessarily age-related.  YMMV.

Then there is a Cortical CAT.  It affects the cortex, or outside edge of the lens, where the white cloudy areas (opacities) develop.  Those of us with diabetes are at risk for this type of a CAT.

The third one affects the back part of the eye and is called Posterior CAT.  Posterior means the back of the eye which is where cloudy or opaque area form.  Those of us who are on steroids or having diabetes are at risk.

These three are basic types.  There is a small bunch of subtypes of each but I don’t want to go there.  Too complicated.

All said and done, you might start thinking that CATs happen to the older folks only. Oh well, this isn’t always true.  Sometimes babies are born with it, or the older kids develop it, for a number of reasons, including genetics.  It’s called congenital CAT, or childhood / juvenile CAT. If a surgery is needed which is not always the case, it can be done as early as at six weeks of age.

Done with the CAT, next thing I’ll be talking about some eye protection that deserves its own post.

Did you notice?  You type the word cataract with left hand only, let alone CAT.

Posted in cataract, diabetes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Disputing Medical Bill

This is a sequel to my previous post, Diabetic Eye Exam.  In summary, I was billed for an eye test that was never done, under the disguise of a Refraction Test.  And now I’m trying to dispute said bill.

I heard tons of success stories on the net about disputing medical bills, however mine is not one of them.  It seems crystal clear that I was billed for a procedure never done, acuity test was done against my wishes and in violation of Informed Consent…  but that’s about it.  I’m stuck with paying the bill regardless.

I tried going the complaint route anyway and filed an Appeal with my insurance company.  Turned out this isn’t an appeal but a grievance, hence off it goes to the next department over.   Am still waiting to hear from  them

Next was an appeal with the doctor’s office within 30 days; am still waiting for the response which is pretty much to be expected.

State Medical Board was my next step, with the same net results so far.  I have neatly summarized everything into about 3/4 of a Word page and submitted by email.  Much to my surprise, my complaint was accepted.  What happens here, remains to be seen but likely not much.

I have ended up paying the bill as to avoid problems with the credit and to keep my 800 score.  It took the Billing full two weeks to deposit the check so I had to start an inquiry with the bank in the meantime.  All said and done, it goes without saying that I will not set my foot in this doctor’s office for the rest of my natural life.

All in all, I was given a test that I did not need nor want but was billed regardless while not a word about managing a current condition, a cataract that I was diagnosed with in this very office a year or two prior.  None, zero, zilch, nada.

I turned to the internet, and found out about three types of a cataract as well a plethora of information that the doctor didn’t utter a single word about.  Will cover this in the next post.

While I still have no clue about the extent of a damage, turned out that I can do a few ounces of prevention.  Found out I have to wear sunglasses in any weather, even when the skies are overcast.  And blue light blocking glasses when I am surfing the net.  This was the first time I ever heard about blue light blocking. Done, bought a pair on Amazon.  The lens have yellow tint to them so some colors are off but I can live with that.  These provide great protection being practically wraparound and the frame is flexible so I can wear them on top of the readers.  Will write more about blue light blocking later on.    Here they are, my Uvex Blue Light Blockers. Great price to boot, under $10.

1

 

This is a pair of sunreaders (a combination of sunglasses and readers) that I found on my last going to a local Dollar Tree.

2

 

Here’s to hoping that all this will buy me more than “a couple of years” quoted.  Isn’t that something that I had to find all this on the Internet, Facebook, Amazon as well as a few other sites, and of course, the Dollar Tree.  But not from my eye doctor!  The latter is apparently too much surgery oriented, because this brings in the $$.

It goes without saying that I won’t set my foot in this doctor’s office for the rest of my natural life.  Will see someone else next year, and this time I will know better what is covered and what is not, what to ask about and what to watch for.

P.S.  I am the last person on earth to have learned that Diabetic Eye Exam is covered in full.  The same thing took place a year or two prior when I just paid what I thought was a Specialist Copay. Now I know better.  You live and learn.

On the other hand, had I just paid the $$ and moved on without doing anything else, I would have never learned what I know now.  Will cover this later on.  Stay tuned.

Posted in diabetes, diabetes management, Diabetic Eye Exam | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Diabetic Eye Exam

This exam is all about testing the eye pressure, also known as a dilated eye exam.  A yellow potion is dropped into your eyes and the pressure is measured.  Then the eyes are rinsed and off you go on your merry way.  This is covered in full by Medicare.  So far so good.

I’ve been there, done that, came in for the Diabetic Eye Exam.  But first the doctor wants to do a Visual Acuity Test.  What in the world for?  The good doctor says, this is standard and yes, it is covered by your insurance.  Next I found myself looking at a chart from a distance, one eye at a time, and reading the letters.  My protests were ignored. C’mon now, I don’t need advices with the eyeglasses as I don’t wear them, and am buying my readers at the Dollar Tree. I told you all this the last time when I saw you a year or two ago, remember?  The doc ignored my pleas and handed a prescription for the eyeglasses anyway.  Tried refusing, to no avail.  He goes, just take it.

I am back in the chair, a yellow concoction goes into my eyes and the pressure is measured.  The verdict, no diabetes related problems.  How about my cataract, diagnosed on the previous visit?  I had to ask about that or else it won’t be addressed.  Doctor pretty much matter of factly states that I have a couple of years.  C’mon now.  A couple years before I go blind?  What’s the extent of a damage?  But no more comments and off I go home.

By the way, some doctors have a way of delivering the breaking news.  have a penchant for this as something strikingly similar happened when I was first diagnosed with diabetes.

Turned out my eyes were not rinsed enough and the driving proves a challenge.  So I pulled into the nearest parking lot, opened the trunk and retrieved a water spray bottle along with a spare box of Kleenex.  This helped although following the rinsing, the Kleenex came out all yellow.  This rinsing should have been done back at the doctor’s office, as far as I am concerned.  Oh well. Had to manage on my own.  It took a few hours for the yellow drops effect to completely wear off.

A week later – surprise, surprise – a bill for $50 comes my way.  Upon calling the Billing I am told this is for the Refraction Test.  But it wasn’t done?  My protests fall on deaf ears. Other than Acuity Test and Dilated Eye, none other tests were done. The Acuity Test by the way, is traditionally done at renewing the driver’s license.  And the real Refraction Test uses a computerized tool called Phoropter.  The latter was never done, and the former was called the wrong name as this brings in the $$.

This is how Phoropter looks like:

Phoropter

To be continued.  Stay tuned.

Posted in diabetes, diabetes management, Diabetic Eye Exam | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I saw a hand surgeon today

10 Oct 1 PIC

First off, my hands are crooked, especially the right one, thanks to Rheumatoid Arthritis. So I secured a referral from my PCP doctor and went to see a Hand Surgeon today. I went in with the high hopes as I heard good things about this particular doctor, that he could do something close to a miracle.

Not so fast.

Xrays taken, I am being whisked to another room, am sitting tight and waiting.  An assistant peeks in and asks if I am in pain, and off on his merry way. He seems to be in a big hurry, didn’t take my vital signs or asked more questions that I thought was a given but not a problem.

In comes a lady wearing a white gown of sorts and asks how I am. I am like, I am here to see a doctor so-and-so, and who are you?  Then she confesses to being a resident, and proceeds asking questions.  Mind you, it’s one of the Health Centers of Cleveland Clinic, hence the red tape. I told her that I would much rather see a doctor sooner than later. Argh, this is exactly what I hate about big places with the big red tapes.

Finally the hand doctor comes in, takes a look at my hands and delivers the news. Not of a good variety. Basically he says that a surgery won’t help in that it’ll limit my range of motion.  This coupled with a fact that I am not in pain, played into him not recommending surgery.  End of story.

I was crushed. I was having high hopes and in a matter of minutes they were poof, gone. My whole world came crumbling down. Maybe he is right but I am at the receiving end. Oh well. I went home feeling pretty much hopeless and gloomy. Life however goes on, and so is the street traffic. I went out a different way than I went in, took chances with an unfamiliar exit from the parking lot and ended up going the right way after all.

On my way home stopped for a grocery shopping and splurged on a few things, which is something I usually don’t do. But now it didn’t matter. Nothing matters. My hands are doomed to be crooked for the rest of my life, so what’s the point in saving a few bucks?

Came home, googled a bit. Found out that the doctor was actually talking about a joint fusion. There is however an option of a joint replacement, but I likely won’t do it. Will sit tight and wait, maybe something else pops up. A new procedure, a new technology. C’mon now, this is the 21st century, after all.

There’s still a glimpse of a hope (I think).  Thanks for the ear, my dear readers.

Posted in arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments