Diabetes Fake News: Make it Stop!

Wanna know something that blows my mind? It’s the fact that way, way too many people in this world truly believe that diabetes can be “cured” naturally with at-home remedies.

Let me say it LOUDLY so the people in the back can hear: THERE IS NO CURE FOR DIABETES.

(Yet, anyways.)

But remarkably, I still see plenty of memes and infographics shared all across social media that promote this false ideology. It needs to stop! It’s harmful when others share fake diabetes information, for a couple of reasons: 1) It promotes misinformation, making diabetes that much more confusing and misunderstood by those unfamiliar with it and 2) it gives false hope to someone who may be emotionally vulnerable when it comes to diabetes.

Happy New Year!

So, with that in mind, please stop sharing fake diabetes cures that suggest that PWD incorporate the following into their diets to “cure” diabetes:

  • Cinnamon
  • Okra
  • Avocado
  • Ginseng
  • Lemon water
  • Aloe vera
  • LITERALLY ANY FOODS OR HERBS
  • Any sort of snake oil miracle drug

Instead, consider the facts:

  • Diabetes does not have a cure. While it can be managed with insulin (injected) or oral medication, there is still no cure for it.
  • It requires daily monitoring.
  • There are foods that might be considered better choices compared to others for some people with diabetes, but there is NO food out there that will control or cure diabetes.
  • Diabetes is not a one-size-fits-all condition. Each person with diabetes is different and uses different methods to deal with diabetes. As a result, there’s no true “right” or “wrong” way to manage it, a PWD merely does what’s best for that individual, alone.

The end of the story, bottom line, crux-of-the-matter: Make fake diabetes news stop.

TONIGHT, The Whiskey Dictionary Live: Drinking and Diabetes, feat. Special Guest Molly Johannes!

If you know me, or have read my blog before, then you know that I’m a fan of talking about the “taboo” diabetes topics. You know, the things that we have trouble talking about with our family, friends, or doctors when it comes to our diabetes. Since they’re sensitive subjects, it’s hard to figure out a way to best address them, so they’re often ignored entirely. And by ignoring them, more harm than good can happen.

That’s why I’m an advocate who likes to tackle the tough stuff. In particular, I like talking about the effects of alcohol on diabetes, because 1) I enjoy the occasional libation and 2) I had a bad experience with alcohol and my diabetes because I had no clue how to handle the two of them simultaneously.

It’s my goal and hope that by talking about how alcohol interacts with diabetes, I’ll help someone avoid getting into a sticky situation like I did back when I was in college.

Besides writing about drinking and diabetes on my blog, I find myself talking about it with others – and tonight, LIVE, you can tune in to watch me talk about it on my colleague and friend’s YouTube channel, The Whiskey Dictionary!

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Bill (a.k.a. The Whiskey Dic) is hosting a special live stream/fundraising event TONIGHT, November 2nd, from 7 – 10 P.M. EST on his channel. The proceeds from the fundraiser go directly to Beyond Type 1, an organization that Bill chose to support because he has family and friends who live with T1D. And that’s why I’m appearing on his channel: to discuss the taboo surrounding drinking and diabetes, and help him make his fundraising efforts a success!

So what else should you expect from this live fundraising event? Bill will talk more about why this cause is important to him, and give shout-outs to the various companies and distilleries that have supported the fundraiser so far. In true Whiskey Dictionary fashion, he’ll also premiere a new video review of whiskey from his channel.

When I join in hour two (around 8 o’clock), I’ll speak about my experiences with drinking safely, as well as join Bill for a drink or two. You’ll want to tune in all night, though, because you’ll have the chance to win Whiskey Dictionary giveaways! There will potentially be more guests, as well! It’s bound to be an exciting event that you won’t want to miss. Save this link to directly access the live stream tonight. Besides being a unique way to support a wonderful diabetes nonprofit, this event is also a guaranteed way for you to learn more about whiskey in an entertaining yet educational manner. Trust me, Bill knows his stuff when it comes to spirits!

Even if you can’t tune in to it live, but want to donate to the fundraiser, you can by clicking on this link. Thank you in advance for contributing to the cause. On behalf of myself and Bill, it’s greatly appreciated!

 

Drinking and Diabetes: Lessons Learned in College

This post initially appeared on Beyond Type 1 on May 19, 2016. I wanted to republish it here because I will be exploring this topic further in November, which is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Stay tuned!

In September 2011, I started college at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I’ll never forget the range of emotions I felt when my parents dropped me off: anxious, excited, anxious, scared, anxious, curious … and did I mention anxious?

A reason why I was so nervous was that going off to college represented my first true taste of independence. I would be a full 90 minutes away from my parents, who have acted as key teammates in my diabetes care and management over the years. It wasn’t like I was starting this academic and social pursuit freshly diagnosed; after all, I’ve had diabetes since I was 4 years old. Growing up with it made me accept it as my reality early in life, and I never really minded it. It started to become a worry, though, when I was hit with the realization that I had to immerse myself in an unfamiliar environment, away from my parents and healthcare team who knew me and my diabetes best. I wondered, “Can I do this?”

Fortunately, my schedule was so full, so quickly, that I barely had time to dwell on my concerns. I attended my classes, bonded with my roommate, established a diverse friend group, experienced the culinary offerings of the dining halls, stressed over homework assignments, and tried new group fitness classes at the gym, among other things. Best of all, my newfound friends didn’t seem to mind my diabetes at all — they asked me endless questions and thought nothing of it when I whipped my insulin pen out in the dining halls to bolus for meals. Establishing a routine helped with my diabetes management and before long, I started to feel more comfortable with this whole college thing … except for one aspect of it.

Alcohol: It’s a taboo concept in the diabetes world, but certainly not on college campuses. Before I left for college, my parents and I did talk about drinking and social pressures, but we didn’t have an in-depth discussion about diabetes and drinking. The main takeaway was a tacit understanding that safety should always be my number one priority.

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Diabetes won’t stop me from enjoying the occasional drink – I just need to imbibe carefully.

I’ll admit that among the various other activities I participated in freshman year, an occasional party at which alcohol was present was part of the gamut. One particular party stands out in my memory because it taught me, more than words from my parents or my endocrinologist could, just how important safety is when it comes to drinking and diabetes.

I ventured to an off-campus party with a group of friends one Saturday night. It was a stereotypical college party: loud music, lots of people, long lines to use the one bathroom in the house. For the first couple of hours that we were there, we were having a great time meeting new people and drinking a bit. As I was sipping on my beverage, I helped myself to some of the tortilla chips, the communal appetizer laid out for party-goers (clearly, no expenses were spared for this shindig!).

I was stupid and didn’t monitor how many chips I was eating or how much I was drinking. Instinct told me to test my blood sugar and I discovered that I was high—much higher than I anticipated. I started rifling through my purse for my Humalog pen when it hit me that I never packed it.

This story could have ended much differently, but I’m happy to say that I was just fine by the end of the night. I told my friends what was happening. Instead of expressing disappointment over leaving the party, they were super understanding and insisted on escorting me home to make sure I could get my medication. Before long, I was back in my dorm and administering insulin. Once I started to come down, I went to bed and woke up at a normal blood sugar the next morning.

What exactly did I learn about drinking and diabetes that night? A few important things:

  • Always have all of my supplies with me when I go out and indulge in a drink or two. This means I would triple-check, from that point onward, to make sure I had my meter, insulin, test strips, glucose tablets and everything else I might possibly need.
  • Check my blood sugar before, during and after drinking to maintain healthy levels.
  • Set an alarm or two before bed so I can wake up and check my blood sugar.
  • Go out with a supportive group of friends — even though I was panicking that night over my hyperglycemic blood sugar, I felt comforted by my friends’ presence and support.
  • Refuse drinks if I don’t want them. I’ve never felt pressured to drink, even when everyone else around me is. As long as I’m having fun, my choice to not drink doesn’t matter.
  • Research carbohydrate content of alcohol so I know how to account for different drinks. I also have done my homework, so I know that different alcohols affect my blood sugar at different rates, if at all.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. They’re often not worth it, and it’s easy for me to replace certain mixers with diet or sugar-free drinks.

I learned a major lesson that night. Since then, drinking has become an occasional social activity for me that I no longer fear due to my preparedness and openness on the subject. I understand that drinking and diabetes sounds scary and forbidden, but this is why it’s important to talk about. Discussing it with family, friends, and your healthcare team can help you feel reassured over how to handle it. Now, I can confidently raise a glass of dark beer or red wine (my personal favorites), knowing I can enjoy a drink safely despite my diabetes.

T1D and Cosmetics: My Thoughts on Jeffree Star’s “Blood Sugar” Palette

One of my many interests is makeup: shopping for it, applying it, experimenting with it. I love that it helps enhance certain features of my face, and nothing makes me happy quite like a glittery eye shadow palette or a fresh tube of bright lipstick.

A dear friend of mine shares this slight obsession with all things related to cosmetics/skincare/beauty products. Often, she’ll text me when she scores a good deal on a high-end product, and I’ll message her with details on my new favorite facial mask, and we’ll bask in our delight together.

So I wasn’t too surprised when I got a text from her a few weeks back that showed a picture of a new eye shadow palette she discovered online. She captioned the photo: “If this palette isn’t on your radar it needs to be. Just for the title.”

Here’s the palette she was talking about:

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Nope, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you: This palette is called “blood sugar”. My first reaction was OMG I NEED TO BUY IT. I was curious to see if it was created with T1D in mind, so I did a little more research on it.

Jeffree Star, a well-known makeup maven and cosmetic creator, is behind this particular palette. According to a video posted on his YouTube channel, and in Star’s own words, the palette got its shape and its name because:

I was very inspired by like doctor medical boxes. I’m very into the medical field in general. I love reading books and watching documentaries on Netflix. I am just very into that whole thing…”

So right away, I understood that this palette was NOT created with diabetes in mind. But I wonder whether it would’ve behooved Star to have done a little more research before naming some of the shadows in the palette…

I don’t take issue with “glucose”, “blood sugar”, “prick”, or “ouch” being the names of a few of the shades; however, I don’t think it was particularly wise to use “coma” as a shadow name. Yes, coma! In this context, it could be misconstrued, for sure.

As I watched his palette reveal video, I kept waiting for Star to offer up some sort of legitimate medical knowledge that might explain his reasoning for naming the colors comprising the kit. But no such luck. I couldn’t help but scoff by the time he reached the color he dubbed “coma” – he talked about how he wanted the stamp in the eye shadow pan to be the “medical symbol” (which is more formally known as the caduceus). The fact that he so easily (and seemingly carelessly) glamorized a coma AND the symbol that graces most medical IDs by naming a rich maroon-hued eye shadow after both…is something that just leaves me scratching my head.

Now I’m not someone who is necessarily “politically correct” at all times, and I don’t think I’m being oversensitive by having a negative reaction to this beauty product. Needless to say, I didn’t end up purchasing the palette, because I don’t want to support something that I find somewhat insulting and ignorant.

Jeffree Star is obviously extraordinarily talented and makes beautiful cosmetics, but I think he should consider a different approach the next time he gleans inspiration from something (such as the medical field) that he isn’t well-versed in.