I started putting my little journal online to share with others my thoughts and what I have learned about living with this disease. I will try to post a new entry on a regular schedule but as with everything in life, sometimes things happen. Each time, I will talk about something different to keep things fresh and not boring for you all.

June 3rd, 2016 Father's Day 

Father’s Day iyoung fathers just around the corner. It is a day to celebrate Dads and it has been around for a long time. In some countries, there are religious overtones as to when it is celebrated. Almost every country in the world has a special day to celebrate Dads.

In our household, it is a simple affair. Whether it is a dinner in a nice restaurant or a backyard barbeque, we follow the same simple rule mentioned in my other blogs: moderation. Moderation is the key to managing my diabetes. We try not to stuff ourselves when we go out, or my wife makes simple yet delicious and nutritious meals for the family.

With backyard barbeques, meat comes to mind. How can one not enjoy the simmering flavors from a hot grill? Hot dogs, steaks and hamburgers are the most favorite grilled food. Theremeat grill are many healthy reasons why grilling is healthy and benefits diabetics. First, fats drip off leaving less fat on the food. Second, the high heat from the grill is effective in sealing moisture and keeps food tender. This minimizes the need to add oils or butter to the food. In that effect, there are fewer calories. Third, vegetables retain more vitamins and minerals when cooked quickly in a grill.

Remember that cooking on a grill is not necessarily very healthy. Studies have shown that fat dripping into hot charcoal generates chemical reactions producing gases that may be carcinogenic. To avoid some of the negatives of grilling, my wife marinates the meat before putting in on the grill. This is her secret recipe. We did not know until recently that studies and research have shown the health benefits of marinades. Marinades containing garlic, honey, turmeric, and other herbs help overcome the negative effects of gases generated from fat falling down onto the charcoal. Studies also seem to suggest that the less time meat is on the grill is better for reduces the amount of potentially harmful gases.

slow cookerUsing a slow cooker to tenderize the meat is another technique my wife uses to help minimize the amount of time is on the grill. Once the meat is tenderized in the slow cooker, she puts the meat in the grill to give it the charcoal flavor. The bottom line is this: Marinate the meat or tenderize it first on a slow cooker to minimize the exposure to gases created by grilling. And of course, do not overeat or drink too much. Happy Father’s day to all dads around.

May 27th, 2016 Tracking Your Progress

Know Your Body

dashboard chartYou are the one that knows your body. You know how you feel and you know what the medications do to you. That is the reason why it is very important to keep track of vital data about your diabetes.

This is what I normally do. I take my glucose reading every morning before breakfast around 8 AM. The typical level for me is less than 120 mg/dl. I then eat breakfast and take my medications. If the reading before breakfast is over 120 mg/dl, I take another reading before eating lunch at around 1 pm. Under normal conditions, it would be under 110 mg/dl. I would then eat lunch. If the reading before lunch is higher than 110 mg/dl, I take another reading before dinner at around 7 pm. Most of the time, I take 3 readings daily.

After each reading, I would log the results in my logbook, such as the one shown on the download. Recently, I started using the Health App in my iPhone. This neat and simple application allows me to track all the information shown in the log more easily. An image of the app is shown.

Once you have a reliable record of your glucose and blood pressure readings, it is very convenient to show it to your doctor for him to help manage your health and keep you well.

Click here to download the Glucose and BP Log Chart

For blood sugar, I collect the following information:

  • test result logbookDate
  • Time
  • Blood sugar level

For blood pressure, I store the following information:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Systolic
  • Diastolic
  • Heart Rate

Using Excel or other tools, I calculate the minimum, maximum, average readings for Systolic, Diastolic and Heart Rate.

If you would like a copy of the logbook, please refer to the top of the page. It will be downloaded as a pdf file.

May 11th, 2016 No Need For All The Pills

There are many ways to get beneficial supplements wBitter Melonithout swallowing a bunch of pills. Foods like bitter-melon, which has insulin-like properties that are supposed to reduce blood sugar for diabetic patients. Bitter melon is a tropical and sub-tropical vine grown mostly in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. It is edible but very bitter as per its name. My wife incorporates bitter melon in her cooking by stir-frying it with beef, chicken or shrimp. I would say that bitter-melon is an acquired taste because of its bitterness. When cooked properly, seasonings masks its bitterness and the dish becomes delicious and dietarily beneficial. There are pills as well as teas that many people consume on a regular basis to help control their blood sugar. Bitter-melon is one of the many supplements claimed to have beneficial effects for diabetics. {To get a copy of her recipe, make a request by sending me a comment or email at fred15440@msn.com}
CinnamonAnother good food to help with your daily fight against diabetes is cinnamon. A friend of mine swears by cinnamon pills. Cinnamon is a spice scraped from the inner bark of trees originally grown mostly in Sri Lanka, China, India, and Ethiopia. There are different dosages available at stores. The most common one is a 500-milligram pill. I take two pills every day. Since we like the flavor of cinnamon, it often ends up in my wife’s baking such as in an apple pie.

Omega-3 fatty acids are usually associated with salmon and other oily fish. If fish is not to your liking, supplements are available. There are other sources such as flaxseed oil, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and dark leafy vegetables.

These are just three examples of Puzzle Wordsmany supplements available in the market that diabetics take to help control their sugar levels. But are they effective?

So what is the bottom line to all these? First check with your doctor. If you are going to take these supplements, be sure that your blood work includes liver and kidney functions for these are the organs most affected by any medication.

Some are so convinced on the positive effect of these supplements. This may be true. After all, only you can fully assess the effect of any medication (or supplement) you take.

 

March 15th, 2017 Doctor Visit

I just came back from my doctor.  I see him every 4 to 5 months.  Good news from the lab work.  My A1c is down!. This is the number that we monitor closely.  In June 2017, my A1c was 7.2  it crept up to 7.6 about a year later.  Now it is down to 6.8.  This is wonderful for it showed a downward trend.  We hope that the trend continues.  The A1c number is one key information a diabetic needs to remember.  This number is key to managing diabetes.  Keeping this number to lower than 6 is the magic number.  From the chart below, I am still in the high (red) range.  My doctor is working with different medications to keep my A1c numbers within the target “green range”.

 

 

During this recent visit, I also learned that I lost weight.  The doctor said that losing weight helps manage my diabetes.  In the last 6 months, I lost about 8 pounds, bringing my weight to 163 pounds.  At 5 feet and 10 inches, my BMI (Body Mass Index) is 23.4.  This is within the normal range of 18 – 25.  If I lose another 5 to 10 pounds that would be great!

Oh, I need to mention that my diabetes medication includes Metformin and a family of products called liptins (linagliptin, saxagliptin, sitagliptin).  More information on these medications can be found in my blog roll.

 

April 27, 2017, Progress with New Medication

 

After my doctor's visit last month, I was so happy with the progress I made regarding my blood sugar level and my weight.  Since then, I have lost a few more pounds.  That is the good news.  With all the good news, what is raising my concern is my daily blood sugar level.  Prior to the last doctor's visit, the daily average was in the high teens.  Now, it appears to be creeping up to the 120 range.  Not good.  My doctor asked me to take one of the newer medications together with my Metformin (1000 mg in the morning and at night).  I started taking Janumet (50 mg combined with 1000 mg of Metformin) in the morning and take my regular dose of Metformin at night. So, one month later, my blood sugar level seems to be higher.  I do not know what is causing this, because I do not think anything else changed (diet, exercise, etc.).  Is it the medicine?  Is my metabolism changing?  Am I getting older?  

My next lab test for my A1c will be next month, so we will see.  After the lab test, I am scheduled for a doctor's visit.  I will just wait and see what happens, or what he will say.  I just hope that my A1c trend continues as it has been doing as mentioned in my previous month's post.  But time will tell.  Stay tuned....

 

 

July 6, 2017, Latest Blood Work and Doctor's Visit

My doctor was very pleased during this visit.  He declared me his model patient.  Why?  Because today, the blood work showed that my A1c dropped to 6.4% from 6.8% on my last visit.  My Lipid panel shows total cholesterol total is 137, HDL is 67 and LDL is 58.  My weight dropped down to 158 pounds.  Over the last year, I shed close to 15 pounds. These numbers are very good and show that my diabetes is under control. My doctor wants me to be very mindful of my weight and A1c.  This is the advice he gives all his patients.  (He specializes in Internal and Geriatric Medicine).

What do all these mean?  I was told that decreasing A1c from 8% to 7% may reduce the risk of eye, kidney and nerve damage by 37%.  That is a very sobering thought. An A1c between 6% and 7% shows that glucose is under control.  Higher than 7% is an indication of out of control levels.  For sure, the lower the A1c is, the better.

My current medication for diabetes is as follows:  Janumet 50/1000 (a combination of 50 mg of Januvia and 1000 mg of Metformin) in the morning and another 1000 mg of Merformin XL in the evening. My cholesterol is controlled by 10 mg of Atorvastatin in the evening.  Also taken in the evening are 50 mg of Losartan and 5 mg of Amlodipine.  These medications I have been taking for over 6 months now and seems to be working well for me.

Diet has played a very important role in my weight control. Lower the carbs.  Pasta, bread, and rice are some of my favorite dishes.  Total disaster for a diabetic if eaten in large quantities.  As I mentioned in my previous entries and blogs, moderation is key.  It is difficult to stop eating this wonderful food. Just eat less of it.  And that is what I have been doing.  Oh, there is another thing I forgot to mention.  I try walking at least a mile 5 to 6 times a week.  

My diabetes will be with me for the rest of my life.  It could kill me over time if I am not compliant with my medications.  If I do not control my food intake and eating habits, if I do not exercise, my A1c would be out-of-control and complications from diabetes could arise.

 

November 10, 2017, Four Months Later

I visit my primary doctor every 4 months or so.  Wonderful news again.  My A1c went down from 6.4% to 6.2%.  My weight went up to 162 lbs from 158 the previous July.  So why is my A1c going down when my doctor told me that weight is one of the factors in bringing down A1c.  The only thing that did not change is my medication.  Since I gained 4 pounds during this visit, it is an indication that I have not followed regimen.  I think in the last four months, I ate too much carbs!  Ouch!

The good news is that the overall lab work is positive.  I am still with the same medication.  I hope that when I visit my doctor in March 2018, I will continue to have continued success in controlling my diabetes.

 

August 4, 2018, Nine Months Later

As I have discussed in my previous journals, I am very consistent with my visit to my primary doctor.  At least every 3 to 4 months, I see my primary doctor and regularly get my blood work.  I am happy to report that my diabetes is very much under control.  My A1c is below 7.0%, my cholesterol levels are normal.  My doctor jokes that if all of his patients were like me, he would not have a job.  Part of the reason that all my blood work is within range is that I am very religious with my medication.  Bottom line, I follow all the doctor's orders. 

I hope that in the months ahead, I remain healthy with all my lab work numbers stay within range.  Stay tuned….

 

September 3, 2018

It is tough when age catches up with you.  My doctor recommended that I have a colonoscopy.  It has been over 10 years since I had one.  The memory of that experience still lingers in my mind.  I remember how I had this giant jug of a god-awful tasting liquid I had to drink in order to flush me clean for the procedure.  The procedure itself is painless.  It is the prep work that is terrible.  That was over 10 years ago.  When my doctor asked me to see a gastroenterologist, I hesitated for the longest time.  I kept postponing it, until finally, he said, I have to do it!

Well, I did.  I made an appointment and received the prescription.  It turned out that it was not as bad as I had thought.  Thanks to modern science, the prep process now is a lot easier.  The bottom line is I have to drink 16 ounces of the medication within an hour.  The following hour, I had to drink another 16 ounces of plain water, also within an hour.  This has to be done about 8 to 12 hours before the procedure.  And oh, I forgot.  I this point, do not eat anything – just clear liquids such as soup.  So here I am starving and living in the bathroom while the medication takes effect.  Now the bad part is that I have to repeat the process 4 hours before the colonoscopy.

 

The procedure was completed without any complications.  After speaking to the gastroenterologist and the anesthesiologist briefly, they initiated the process and before I knew it, I was in the recovery room.  The entire procedure took about 45 minutes and I was asleep all the time.  In the recovery room, I spoke to the doctor who was happy to inform me that they found no anomalies in my intestines and I should be good for another 10 years.  Hopefully, by that time, the preparation would be even simpler and less miserable.

 

November 12, 2018, Dangers of being alone

For people living alone or are left alone by themselves most of the time and you are a diabetic, danger lurks.  What if you fell and incapable of getting up? This problem could be made worse if the individual is not mobile, such as being in a wheelchair, walker or cane.  I know of an elderly person who fell beside his bed and could not get up.  His family found him on the floor.  He has been there for hours because the family was at work.  He was hungry and dehydrated.  Fortunately, he did not break any bones.  But what if the family member did not show up for a longer period of time?  The consequence could be a lot worse. And of course the older the individual is, the more problems could arise.

Millions of individuals in the United States, more so around the world, are impacted by a fall. Unfortunately, in the US alone, up to 25,000 of these fall events result in death.  Of those that survive the fall, many suffer from hip fractures. As we all know, hospital stay and procedures are so expensive.  These numbers came from medicalalrert.org, an organization “dedicated to the improving of the lives of older adults through assistive technology”.  In the site, one can explore the various technologies available to the elderly that could make their lives safer and giving the family security and worry-free, knowing that their loved ones are cared for. 

With modern technology, problems with falling can be mitigated.  There are devices that can quickly call for assistance in the event of a fall.  The options are now many.  Lives can be saved by a quick response to an emergency.  In some cases, it has to be triggered by the individual wearing or have access to a system that summons help.  In others, the individual is in communications with the dispatch office. 

With today's available technology needless distress and expenses can be avoided.