Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Doing the limbo dance with carb guessing


On the weekend I was attending the 3-day Friends For Life Winter 2020 virtual conference.  Even though it’s aimed at parents of Type 1 diabetic children, it is an event that even grown up Type 1 diabetics like myself can attend.  You would think after all these years as a diabetic, I would know it all, but I don’t.  I learn from both young and old through organisations like this, in Facebook/Instagram posts/groups that keep me sane and alive at times, especially during this year of Covid-19, where events like this have now gone virtual.

One of the speaker sessions that I attended was by Constance Brown, RDN on Carbohydrate Controversies: How Low Should You Go?  I’ve always been curious about low carb eating, as many of my diabetic mates swear by better blood sugar control, etc.  For me, to go under 100 grams of carbs a day, isn’t something that I can do.  It takes a lot of dedication and sometimes depending on where you live, a more expensive option of eating for purchasing of keto ingredients .  The good thing is that Constance stated that whatever works best for you is all that counts, so don’t feel bad if you enjoy bread like I do! 

If you’re new to diabetes, you are maybe finding it daunting to figure out the carbs in your food, when figuring out the amount of insulin to cover the carbs you’re about to eat.  There’s so many things that we diabetics have to think about before even contemplating what’s about to go into our mouth, let alone figuring out what we’re going to make for our meal.  On top of all of this, taking our fast acting insulin at least 20 minutes prior to eating a meal that we can’t even maybe visualize yet on our plate before our eyes can be a daunting feat!  I mean, imagine just digging into your plate of food, not having to think about this number and that! 

So, to at least start off on the right foot, an app was mentioned at the talk that I’m going to be downloading called “Figwee Visual Food Diary” .  It has a library of foods (I think it's at least 8,000), that as you can see in the video at this LINK , if you just want “x amount” of apple slices, you pick the amount you are about to eat, and viola you have your carb count along with calories (great if you’re trying to lose Covid-19 weight like I am)!

As usual, portion control is the most important thing, along with the quality of the foods we are eating, and at this time of the year, if we can make it easier to control our blood sugars, I'll try anything that can help me attain good numbers!

Remember as well, with going low carb ...

To get fat-burning physiological changes, you need to keep your carbohydrate intake exceedingly low (only 20 to 50 grams per day). This is hard to achieve or maintain and runs the risk of limiting important nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber in your diet. ( taken from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-smart-way-to-look-at-carbohydrates )

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Living the high life on the water

Okay, first, I am not Bill Gates, where I never inhaled and neither does Sock Monkey (really, he doesn't).  I thought this would be a great opener for what I'm finding a VERY difficult blog to write.  I've been dwelling on how to put my experience that many of you saw and commented on my Instagram post, but I personally, do not remember too much, but my DH does.  

Since the '70s, as a Type 1 Diabetic, I took up the occasional puff puff when going out with friends.  It was mainly due to the fact that drinking alcohol was not one of my top things to relax with when out.  Being an introvert, it helped me loosen up a bit and at least remember the next day what I did.  Also, I tended to be the designated driver for my friends, since most of them couldn't afford the luxury of a car. 

Fast forward 40 years later, cannabis (weed) in Canada has been legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes since 2018.  Along with that, this year where I live, our small town that I believe still holds the record for the most Tim Horton's in Canada.  It looks like we are going the same route with shops opening up (and the one we went to called Shiny Bud... right across from, yuppers a Tim Horton ).  Think of these weed shops as being like a "candy store", which is how I felt when I stepped into one about a month ago to check out what it's all about.  Lots of goodies behind locked up display cases, etc.

My DH uses medicinal weed to help him deal with life.  Since he's started, I have seen an increase with my puff puff range during the week, unlike when he was working, it was just a weekend treat.  My main dislike is getting the munchies afterward, which we all know, will increase blood sugar control along with weight excess as a diabetic.  Of course, we all differ in how our bodies react, just like our insulin use.

Last weekend, my DH went to the shop to pick up some goodies, and the package you see above nestled in Sock Monkey's legs is a pre-rolled joint from Tweed.  It's a fat little bugger, and just a few puffs, sent me into a horrible spiral.

Here I was sitting on the side of our sailboat at our mooring ball, feet dangling over, relaxing after a day of work (I do a weekend shift) as we waited for dinner to cook on the BBQ.  I try to only smoke when I know that food will be involved since it works out better for the munchies along with insulin coverage. Basically from what I can remember over the period of an hour was my husband trying to hold onto me as I puked, sweated like I was in a sauna (I remember that bit), and slipping in/out of laa-laa-land so I wouldn't slip through the lifelines and fall into the water.  I swear I was hallucinating, and talking out loud (I thought I was shouting), but he said I wasn't quite making sense, even though it felt so real.  

What was alarming him was my Fitbit showing my heart racing away, and I think I remember telling him to check on it, along with my Dexcom to see if I was having a low blood sugar (see - we diabetics can't shut our brains down when we're in a bad place).  Blood sugars were perfect! 

What follows after that was him trying to get the attention of a few other moored boats for help, and when they did hear him, one of the members of our club who had experienced a stroke on his boat (where he voice-activated his mobile since he could not move, to get help).  I vaguely remember being rolled under the lifelines (and I'm no small person), into a dinghy. Being held, talked to keep me from passing out, it seemed like it took forever to get to shore (and the same thing with the ambulance ride).  The whole time I had my eyes closed for some reason. Weird, weird, weird.  Even composing this now, it feels like a dream.

So, this pukey coated old cat got loaded off onto the front dock of our club and whisked away by ambulance to the closest hospital about 20 minutes away.  Once I started to feel my body again, and be able to talk/think properly, it was basically determined that the higher concentration of TSH in this pre-rolled joint is probably the culprit.  The doctor pointed out as well, weed has come a long way since the early days, before it, and growers for the markets we have here in Canada are creating stronger and stronger high THC strains then what many of us smoked back in the day.  

So, all is good in my little world.  I've not smoked since then, and the smell of it makes me feel nauseated but that may soon pass, but for now, I think if I do partake in a puff puff session, using homegrown (we're allowed to grow 3 plants per household here in Canada) may be the way to go in future. My DH was so worried he was going to lose me, and in my brain during the whole time, I was trying to not freak out that I was having heart issues that are one of the many complications of diabetes.

Thank you to the members of our yacht club who did such a marvelous job of handling the situation, and because of what happened, we're planning on holding a course to teach people how to handle an offshore rescue like they did for me in the near future.  

Life is good on the water - one of my rescuers :)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Baked Rutabaga and Hot Italian Sausage Sauce

I have been posting quite a few of the usual #dblog that I would have done here at the Roller Coaster Ride of Diabetes being posted on my Instagram account.  I find a picture, with a few words (well, not always in my case <lol>), I get more satisfaction with knowing that it might touch someone’s life in a hopefully positive way, rather than going the route of a blog where many people are just so darn busy, they don’t have time to read all my words, funny links I pop in.
So, just remember, if you don’t see me posting here as often, you can always find me hanging out on Instagram while it’s still a fun place to post (sadly since Facebook bought it up, it’s changed slightly, but I still prefer to coziness, less drama of Instagram).

Now to the topic of this wonderful subject of pasta, that often makes those of us with diabetes/gluten intolerant and/or trying to lose weight, shudder and say “ No, No, No … it’s evil – it’s Creepy Pasta “.

I had ½ of medium-sized Rutabaga sitting in my crisper that I figured before it went funky, should be used.  I’m only trying to keep enough food to see me through the week, to not only to cut down on the grocery bill costs but also live the “waste not want not” way that I was raised on as a child living at home with parents that went through WWII. I’m telling you, this Pandemic is making a few of us revert back to days of the old (e.g. I no longer buy paper tissues aka snot rags). I've been making my own from thrift shop finds of cotton sheets that help to reduce landfill!
If you watched the above short video compilation above  … something new that I learned with my HuaweiP20 mobile … then you will get an idea of why I’m raving about this type of “pasta” over the usual spiraled zucchini (tends to be watery) / carrot (which is good) . Rutabaga packs in a lot of nutrition and is low in carbs depending of course on how much you eat!  I mean, it looks like pasta, is al dente, what more can you ask for?

Ugh “ you are saying to yourself (or out loud  – watch out someone might be watching you) …  Really isn’t that turnip that my Mum forced on me in some form or another as a kid? Nope don’t like it, won’t try it … “ yadda, yadda, yadda.

Come on – what is the harm in giving it a try?

Well, listen up matey … it’s NOT a turnip.  Yes, they are both root vegetables but found out when doing my in-depth research that’s done for all my scribbles you read that it’s probably a hybrid of a cabbage AND a turnip.  Sadly, the poor humble rutabaga is sadly confused and sold as yellow turnips or wax turnips.  It's part of the clan of root vegetables and a member of the Brassica family (doesn’t this sound like a story out of Outlander?) and rutabaga is probably a hybrid of a cabbage and a turnip.  The first known printed reference to the rutabaga came from the Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhim in 1620, where he noted that it was growing wild in Sweden.  Of course, then speed on to WWI / WWI … many folks ate it, that's all they had at the time, so tend to not eat it because of the memories.

Turnip  /  Rutabaga - picture courtesy of Fine Cooking  
Where they both differ you may ask?  Rutabagas usually have yellow flesh and a purple-tinged yellow skin, and they’re bigger than turnips. Both vegetables have a slightly sweet but snappy flavor reminiscent of cabbage, but rutabagas are sweeter. 

So, here’s what I did. 
  • I peeled the wedge of rutabaga I had.  Stuck it on my Spiralizer and spiraled away (you won’t get dizzy trust me).  Note, you can get many different versions, go with what you can afford, have storage area for, etc.   
  • If baking in oven like I did. Set your oven at Gas Mark 4 / 350 °F / 175 °C
  • Ensure you have the right sized pot for your “pasta”, and get the water boiling (you could do this first, but after I spiraled what I thought wouldn’t amount to much, I’m glad I got the water boiling afterward, it would not have fit in the pot I'd intended to use.  During that time of waiting for water to come to a boil, just clean up the area to have less to deal with afterward, have a sip of your fav bevy, contemplate your navel, whatever.
  • Drop “pasta” into the water (it’s up to you if you want to put in a bit of salt, I didn’t), and cook for about 4-5 minutes.  Drain. Set Aside.
  • This next step is now up to you!  You are the creator of this wonderful dish. For myself, I had a leftover Hot Italian sausage sauce from a few days before.  I simply put a few scoops over the cooked “pasta” in a ceramic one–person dish smearing a bit of olive oil on the sides/bottom to prevent sticking. Stirred it around and topped it with some grated Parmesan.  Now, maybe that’s not your cuppa tea, go with whatever sauce you like with your regular pasta.  Maybe you like it simple, tossed in olive oil/butter with a bit of freshly grated pepper and some grated cheese.  It’s up to you!
  • Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cheese melted. 

If you’re not oven baking like I did, I can’t wait to see your comments below on what version you created, be it Vegan/Vegetarian … whatever makes your tummy feel happy, and blood sugars stable.  Feel free to post the link from your social media account as well so we can all drool over it! 

Bon appetite!

NB:  Many thanks to Rutabaga Fest Blyth on Instagram for getting my mind interested in trying a vegetable that sometimes can get overlooked.  They are also on Facebook.   

Monday, May 4, 2020

Virtual Slipstream Event: Canada

I just finished up with a virtual weekend-long event by Connected in Motion (CIM) and I am very surprised to say that


The meet up on Friday ... AMAZING.  The discussions all weekend with great speakers ... AMAZING.  The new friends I've made from not just Canada, but UK / NZ / India / USA / Germany ... hoping  I didn't leave anyone else - AMAZING.  Over 300 were in virtual attendance, and you never would have known it, but we were all there.  What a wonderful way to together with other diabetics from the comfort of your home (some were in their backyards taking part in the workshops / etc. online).  Also, not all of us can drive /fly the distance to some of their events, let alone afford them if we're on a limited income (this virtual one was free, with the option to pay X amount, which is what I did to help support the wonderful group of people/volunteers who run this nonprofit organisation).

I mean, what more can you ask for with a virtual meet up like this?  Okay - maybe the smell of the wood fire, and the lap of the water on the shoreline as you sip on your morning/noon/evening cup of coffee (or what you may like to indulge in).  Hopefully, the Ontario Slipstream will be a reality on September 25-27th in Algonquin Park if lockdown and social distancing have been lifted.

This weekend's Slipstream was originally going to take place in British Columbia, but with the current pandemic with Covid-19, self-distancing, social distancing, lockdown in many parts of Canada since March, it was decided to hold it virtually through Zoom.


I'm not a big lover of crowds.  I know this may come as a surprise to a few of you who have known me since the early days of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) when I was hired by @Diabetes1.org back in 2009, but yes, at meetups, I can get crazy, with my cat ears and Sock Monkey.  Most of that craziness does not come from having a low blood sugar, but more my introvert side of myself, trying to overcome my scaredy-cat (pun intended) of being with a lot of people.  I've found too that it can be very overwhelming for me, along with the clickiness of groups.  That's never been my scene, and I tend to be attracted more to others who are like myself, feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Well, in this virtual atmosphere, you could have it all, with either being a fly on the wall just listening in or being upfront and personal.  It was the best of all worlds, and hope others felt this way too.


What a blast the cafe was that some of us would go to in between sessions.  It eventually became a bar in the evening, along with a big surprise of having Crystal Bowersox come by to play some of her ever so relaxing music.  Let's hope she is good on her promise to come to Canada, not to work as a musician, but to hang out with the friendly folks from Canada.  We said we could send her back home with good ol' Canadian insulin.  

One interesting workshop I was involved in, was on 'Growing our Community'.  I won't go into all of them, but for some of us who are older T1D's, we find a bit put off in attending due to how CIM advertises pictures of youth who seem to be in tip-top fitness shape and not quite into outside activity.  Reba Redmond was the moderator, and took many notes to help make the T1D Community, especially here in Canada more open to everyone .... aka Diversity!  Also, what I found out from others this weekend, is that no matter what age (you must be over 18 to attend CIM events) you can either be super active, a lazy cat (that's me, that's me).   That has been a big put off for me in attending CIM events, besides the travel/cost to attend that is required to get to them.  The main thing is ... it's whatever YOU want to get out of it and be with others who get you! So I may be able to set aside some monies to attend the Ontario Slipstream in September hosted in partnership with Beyond Type 1  if rules for social distancing are lifted.  Hopefully, I'll have a workable CGM at the time to do the 6-hour road trip by myself with less anxiety of having a low blood sugar below 5 mmol/l / 90 mg/dl.  

If I've got you thinking that this could be something up your alley, to at least try from the safety of your home, then check out this LINK, that shows the upcoming virtual slipstreams that may interest you. There's even one for our loved ones, aka Support Crew since they need help at times with understanding us.  Remember, if you don't live in North America, you are more than welcome to join, the more the merrier I say!   Also, virtual events like this, no flapping of wings is required/driving a long distance thus polluting the lovely blue marble we call Earth (Greta Thunberg would love us for this).

I know, a lot of information above, to take in, but I hope this helps you understand how awesome this event was for me.  Even an ol' 60 year-old like myself, who still thinks she's a youngsta after 54 years as a T1D!

Thank you so much to the sponsors that helped make this all possible. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Nominate Dr. Frederick Banting for next Canadian $5 bill

“Insulin belongs to the world, not to me”

I don't normally do blog posts like this, but in light of how the cost of insulin is affecting many people around the world, I felt it important to give a little introduction to where my post will eventually go.

I'm one of those Canadians that don't have work coverage, provincial coverage, private insurance for buying my insulin and other medications I need to live life, to be able to report to work, and be part of the taxpaying Canadians.  I am lucky that I can afford to live a pretty good life as a middle-income wage earner and stay healthy as a Type 1 diabetic on the juice of life that was discovered here in Canada.  Meanwhile, in other countries, it's not that great.  We hear of rationing of insulin, deaths from this.  It's not good.  I do help some Americans with affordable insulin by shipping it to them, at least I can do this!

So, where is the post taking you to ...

Which #bankNOTEable Canadian do you want to see on our new $5 bill? Many of us who live with diabetes are thankful for the team that discovered insulin.  The most notable of course is Dr. Frederick Banting, and that is personally who I've voted but also mentioned the other team members in case they want to include all of them that you see below, at this link https://ipsosasks.ca/banknoteable-surlebillet ).

*** The Mighty Insulin Discovery Team ***

If you decide to vote (see UPDATE below), I will leave it in your capable hands (I mean fingers on the keyboard) to decide.  The deadline is *** March 11th *** and after that, all entries will be reviewed and considered by an independent Advisory Council.  

May the best Canadian win!!! Ehhhh!!!

UPDATE:  John James Richard MacLeod as far as I can tell by research, was only in Canada for a short time (he returned back to Scotland in 1928).  Therefore, cannot be included as one of the Canadians for this campaign. Thank you to one of my readers, Simon Lee Wallace for pointing this error out - for more info you can find it at  https://insulin.library.utoronto.ca/about/macleod

Monday, January 13, 2020

Brain function in Type 1 Diabetics

Wow, it's hard to believe that the last time I composed a blog was in the summer.  Life has been a roller coaster ride and surprisingly, it has very little to do with diabetes hiccups, but more coping with everyday life and trying to keep plodding away at work to pay the bills.  Aren't we all in the same boat, unless you've lucked in on a win fall!
Also, I've taken a bit of a step back from social media.  Facebook to be exact.  It's too time-consuming and it's not real life.  Real-life is what we do outside of these machines that go bing.  Though I have to admit, Instagram is my fav social media hang out, as it has some great Type 1 diabetics who post not just about diabetes, but their lives outside of it.  It's a much happier place, and I guess I've always liked pictures. Of course, I time myself to how much I spend there!

One of my fav Instagram posters is Melissa Allison from Australia.  One of her children has Type 1 diabetes, and we just happened to click with our posts.  Her pictures are breathtaking showing their life in Australia as well.  You can follow her at ShinyBrightSkies .

Last week, she sent me an interesting study from Standford University that was released back in December 2019 on brain function being irregular in children with Type 1 diabetes wondering what I thought of it.

'  The study, published online Dec. 9 in PLOS Medicine, is the first to evaluate what happens in the brains of children with diabetes during a cognitive task. On functional magnetic resonance imaging scans, when their brains were at work, children with diabetes displayed a set of abnormal brain-activity patterns that have been seen in many other disorders, including a cognitive decline in aging, concussion, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and multiple sclerosis. '

It's nothing really new to myself since insulin plays a big role in brain functionality and I've always known that another outcome of long term diabetes is possibility of dementia.   It's the reason why I try to educate folks with diabetes to keep their blood sugars from going too low or too high.  In my mind, our blood sugar when out of whack is like a car battery leaking acid onto metal.  Need I say more?

This wasn't new to Melissa as well, but she felt that this article was good ammunition when dealing with schools if a child was having problems in the classroom.  Showing that blood sugars can play a role in how our brain works.  I'll be passing this article onto a few of my school teacher mates, especially those who already have diabetics in their classroom, to give them a better understanding.

Another segment of the papers had me reread it a few times, and you'll understand why when you read it below :

'   The study found that, although the children with diabetes performed the task as accurately as those in the control group, their brains were behaving differently. In children with diabetes, the default-mode network, which is the brain’s “idle” system, was not shutting off during the task. To compensate for the abnormal activation of the default-mode network, the brain’s executive control networks, responsible for aspects of self-regulation and concentration, were working harder than normal in the children with diabetes.  '

The "idle" system not shutting off during a task really resonates with me, and I wonder is it because we are always having to think about whether or not we are low or high in the blood sugar area subconsciously in the background?  Other diabetics I've spoken to, have said the same thing, that our brains don't really take a rest, we are always thinking.  About the only time we get to go idle is sleeping.  That's if we aren't dealing with low or high blood sugar, whether or not we have the use of a CGM (continuous glucose monitor).  Our brains just do NOT shut down. 

As someone who been diagnosed well over 50 years, I wonder if that one of the reasons I had problems at school, it was a bloody challenge at times.  Of course my fav subject, writing/arts were my favs, but those don't gain your foot in the door all the time for employment!  I managed to grind through, but I wonder if I'd had the devices like we have today, that keep us more in check if perhaps I'd gone further on in education.