Diabetes and pregnancy, fertility issues, gestational diabetes, parenting, women's Issues, and whatever comes to mind

Laura Ingalls and Diabetes: What the Hec!

Laura Ingalls and diabetes

When Laura Ingalls ninja kicked me in the diabetes

I’ve been sick the past few days.  I have tried my very best to be productive, but I’ve degraded to a limp vegetable on the bed with the remote in my hand (the only part of me able to move).

Not even the cutest jammies can conceal my creature-like transformation, so I hide in my room to avoid petrifying people with fear.  I also worry someone might cut off my head, stick it in a bag, and use it as a weapon on Black Fridays.

While fulfilling my early morning quest of staring the the TV, I came across a Little House on the Prairie marathon.  No matter how sick I am, I still appreciate that Pa Ingalls suffered from the same affliction as Captain Kirk–an apparent shirt hypersensitivity.  I swear, that helped open up my lungs a little.

I had the unfortunate fortune to catch the episode where Mary’s baby dies in a fire.  I realized the show was pretty harsh on Mary and decided to risk an upright position to surf the net and see how much of her misfortune was true and how much of it was writers who found pleasure in seeing a blind girl suffer.  (p.s. in the next episode she was held hostage by three escaped prisoners)

While looking at Wikipedia articles on the fam, I saw that Laura, Carrie, and baby Grace all died from type 2 diabetes complications.  I hadn’t heard that before.  Exhausted from sitting, I lay on my bed hypnotized by the spinning ceiling fan.  I’m so lucky, I thought.  So lucky to have modern knowledge, technology, and gadgets.  Too bad the Ingalls girls lived in a time where so little was known about diabetes.

As I reveled in my modern age superiority, I wondered how old they were when they died.  Early 30′s?  Did they live through their 40′s?  I’m 45 and feel my age.

I don’t have big diabetes complications but I have more leg cramps at night than normal.  My blood pressure is slowly creeping up.  I wondered if they ever made it to 45.

Another net surf revealed their ages when they died:

Laura Ingalls Wilder lived until 90.  Sickly Carrie made it to 75. Baby Grace lived to 64.

Ummm.  My superiority faded.  Laura Ingalls and diabetes kind of slapped me in the face.

Would I be here at 45 if I didn’t have modern medicine and knowledge?  I was diagnosed in my mid 20′s and I was in really sorry shape at that time.  Oral diabetes medication and steroids brought me back  from a nightmare.  Would I have been able to conceive a child and have my son? Probably not.

The reality is….they were actually in a better time in some ways.

Today we are getting diagnosed with diabetes at younger and younger ages.  I am thankful for modern medicines, knowledge, and regimens….but I have to admit I have a conspiracy streak in me and I think we may be overdoing the meds and the carbs today along with eating foods the Ingalls farm girls might not even recognize as food.  We may have too much confidence that a pill can fix everything.  Many of us pop a pill and go on with our days without much more thought.

So while laying on my bed and deciding to embark on a quest to flip over, blow my nose, and re-situate my body pillow, I decided when I feel better I will re-evaluate what I’m doing and try to have more of my control come from diet and exercise and to test my blood sugar more often.

I have had type 2 diabetes for over 20 years.  I’m at the point where I need to rely more on diet and exercise because my pancreas is pooped after all these years.  My options are insulin or a strict lifestyle.

If you are reading this and are barely starting on this diabetic road or nearing the border, I encourage you to be good to your body and educate yourself.  Baby your pancreas.  Take it easy with carbs.  Then when you are my age, you may have better options to choose from.

PS:  Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT come from the camp that we bring type 2 diabetes upon ourselves.  I do believe we are predisposed to have our hormones work against us.  The only defense against that is knowledge and education which is the real advantage of our times.




How to Avoid Low Blood Sugar – Be Prepared


When you are pregnant with diabetes and trying to have tight control of your blood sugar levels, you are at higher risk for low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared.  There were many times I jumped into the car unprepared thinking I was only going to be gone for a minute but ended up gone for much longer and found myself experiencing a low.

These were quick trips to the convenience store, to the bank, dropping someone off somewhere, a quick drive home.  It’s okay, I’d think, I’m only going to be out for a couple minutes.  The fact is, your car will break down and have flats.  There will be accidents and construction.  Someone may call with an emergency or ask for a “quick favor” which escalates into something much more complicated and you find yourself having low blood sugar.  Be prepared whenever you leave home, especially if you drive alone.

What does it mean to be prepared?

Give it some thought, and come up with a plan or system that works for you.  For me, it was a little cloth insulated lunch box that I loaded up with an apple, cheese, candy or glucose tabs, glucose gel, drinks, and other snacks.  These snacks could be granola bars, sandwiches, cracker sandwiches, etc.  I was able to throw my insulin and needles into the bag as well.  I would carry an over-sized bag with all the other stuff I needed to tote around.  The glucose gel (some people use cake gel) is handy if you are nauseous and can’t keep anything down.  You can rub it into your gums.  Make sure and talk to your doctor about other things you can carry or do when you feel yourself getting low.

For more information on hypoglycemia and how to treat, read Hypoglycemia (Low blood glucose) on the American Diabetes Association’s site.


Tight Blood Sugar Control Tip – Look or Patterns


When I was pregnant, I was able to gain and attain tight blood sugar control.  My HbA1c level was between 4-5%.  I tested often.  I primarily was looking at how my body reacted to certain foods.  I had noticed that if I ate high-fat foods such as Mexican, Chinese, and Pizza, that my blood sugar levels would peak many hours later–sometimes six hours later.  Because of this, there were some days that I tested every couple hours.  I meticulously logged my numbers and made notes on the circumstance, time, etc.

Due to this, I started to notice patterns in my blood sugar numbers throughout the day.  My morning blood sugar numbers were always a challenge.  Things would get better through the day.  My blood sugar levels would dip in the late afternoon.  My levels would spike in the night and crash and sometimes I would wake with extreme lows.  I would rebound and my waking numbers would be high.

This information revealed I needed to be on the lookout for lows in the late afternoon.  I would keep a peanut butter cracker sandwich on my nightstand.  When I woke up to go potty around 1-2 a.m., I would take a bite.  This helped avoid the spikes in the night and improved my morning numbers.  Remember, we are all different.  Your patterns may be different and what worked for me may not work for you.

Nowadays there are insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors to make things easier.  However, if you do not have these at your disposal, then you can still look for patterns using pen and paper.  Other options include apps, software, and websites.  My favorite online blood sugar log and tracker is SugarStats.  This site can be very helpful if you are trying to have tight blood sugar control.


Green Juicing with Diabetes – What You Need to Know


If you know me well, you know I love to drink green juice made from dark leafy greens.   I have done so for years even before juice cleansing and kale became the fad it has become today.  According to some proponents, you would think green juicing is a gift from the Gods and can make anybody immortal.  Dark leafy greens are harmless right?  You might be surprised to learn that green juice may not be for everybody.

If you have diabetes, you really should talk to your doctor for guidance and make sure you are not taking any medications that could be affected by large amounts of vitamin K.

For example, if you are taking blood coagulants or a blood thinner such as Coumadin, vitamin K can interfere with it’s effectiveness.  Perhaps you are on the “training wheels” version of a blood thinner.  By this I mean taking daily baby aspirin which is common for people with diabetes.

As you can see, it is important to talk to your doctor for guidance and make sure they know your plans in this regard and what your goals are so they can help support you.

I am not an expert on diabetes.  I have just written about and lived with it for a long time.  Please share if you know of other things we should be aware of when it comes to green juicing, consuming large amounts of dark leafy greens, or following a raw food diet.


Diabetes: Convenience Store Ideas


I like to keep healthy (or “healthier”) options in mind for when I’m on the run and hungry.  I try to eat pretty low-carb and I try to get as many raw low-carb fruits and vegetables as I can.  I aim for nutrition from beneficial foods.  I want food that is going to make me feel good and will fill me up.

I would rather feel good after eating than to eat something tasty that will make me feel like crap afterwards.  So I am for well-being over taste bud pleasure myself.

As you can imagine, this can be like hunting for Bigfoot in most convenience stores.  Of course there is the obvious, some stores have salads, apples, cheese sticks, brewed teas, and nuts.  Unfortunately the “fresh” fruits and vegetables are often pricey and have seen better days, looking like an escapee from a science lab.  Nuts are low carb, but a very small amount packs a lot of calories.

Browse the refrigerated section and see if you can find hummus.  If they have it, it may be in plastic containers or tubes.  Hummus is tasty, nutritious, full of fiber, and can be eaten with celery sticks or put on a salad.  Paying 3 bucks for celery or salad might make you wince, but 4 bucks for celery with some filling hummus won’t hurt as bad.

Check out the bean dip.  Read the label and pay attention to the serving size.  You might be surprised to find it’s low-calorie, low-carb, and has a couple grams of fiber.  Check out the nutrition information for this popular bean dip.

Another thing I like to do is to frequent convenience stores that offer a variety of fresh hot dog toppings.  Some stores offer a variety of peppers, sauerkraut, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and more.  At the store I frequent, I use one of their nacho containers for my creation.  I skip the bun and cut up a hot dog or sausage.  Then I smother it with the fresh toppings.   It ends up like an interesting salad.  If they have chili, I’ll sometimes add that too.  It may not be the healthiest thing on the planet, but it’s better than the chips, pastries, and candy bars that are tempting me while my tummy is grumbling.

What do you do when you find yourself in a convenience store while your hungry?


Diabetes, Exercise and the Voices in my Brain

tomato slice

Today I read “Diabetes Treatment Should Focus on Metabolizing More of the Sugar in the Blood for Best Results” a blog post by Milt Bedingfield. The author writes about how most people focus on limiting carbs consumed, but what about the carbs already in our blood?

Discovering this blog post is pretty timely as I’ve been having arguments with myself about doing more exercise.  The pro-exercise voice in my brain has been beaten down and hog-tied often.  I can easily convince myself all I have to do is eat right..but this doesn’t mean I AM right.

I can pass up carbs with no problem.  I can avoid them totally for long periods of time, but my blood sugar numbers are still not excellent and I still have a big stomach.  It’s very frustrating because my self-control is totally bionic.  I have an epic garden I eat from often.  I drink tons of green juice that tastes like fresh cut grass.  I eat at least 5-6 servings of veggies (mostly raw) a day.  Yet, it’s not enough.

I live in the dusty desert in Tucson, Arizona.  It’s a battle to keep dust out of my house.  I try to keep my doors closed.  I have mats by the doors.  Everyone wipes their feet.  This is all well and good but I still shed skin.  So do my son and fur ball dogs.  No matter what, I’ve got to pull out the broom and sweep.

No matter how much I try to avoid carbs, just about everything turns into carbs/sugar/glucose eventually and my body is just not equipped to get rid of those carbs on its own.

Those of us with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance don’t have the luxury of this happening automatically.  It’s like that function of our body must be done with a hand crank.  Exercise is the hand crank to clear those carbs out.  Aren’t we so lucky that we have an alternative?  Think about it.  I think we’re damn lucky.

I’ve been listening to the escalating argument in my head about diabetes and exercise for the past couple weeks.  Maybe it was fate I came across the article to help embolden the pro-exercise voice in my head.  I’m going to commit to doing at least 30 minutes a day and see if that super-charges my control.

I guess I must add…yes diabetes medications can help clear those carbs out.  It’s my personal choice to try to eliminate or at least lower the amount of medication I have to take.  I have had grandparents and parents who have had nightstands crammed full of medications.  Some of them are medications to help with side effects from other medications.  I just want to keep those medicines on the nightstand to a minimum.


Diabetes and Pregnancy and Fear


I have received many messages and emails from women who are pregnant with diabetes. Pregnancy for most women is a happy, gleeful, carefree time. Happy, happy happy. However, if you have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, it can be a nail-biter. I have received emails from women in sheer panic, full of fear and without confidence that they can do this.

I think it’s the culmination of other people’s little negative comments. They don’t know you’ve already heard it from (m.a.n.y others). They don’t know it’s like an avalanche.

Concerned, sad eyes from medical professionals. Panicked looks from friends. Perhaps fear and resistance from parents. “Have you seen Steel Magnolias?” “You shouldn’t have a baby!” “I don’t want you to die.” “You are a high risk pregnancy.” “Your baby can be stillborn.” “You are at increased risk for Downs.” “You are at increased risk for spinal problems or other birth defects.” “Diabetes and pregnancy is dangerous.”  And so on.

My profusely flowering joy at finding out I was pregnant quickly shriveled up. Luckily my family and friends were cool, but I knew I had Steel Magnolias tucked in my mental pop culture files. My optimism was snuffed out like a smelly cigar at my initial visits with OB/GYNs and others.

My then-husband and I went to the OB/GYN visit very excited, expecting a scrapbook moment. Many friends were pregnant and they described these visits as such special experiences. For us, the doctor and nurse came in solemnly and spoke to us very directly and sternly. They recounted the risks. They shared horror stories. They waved death on a stick at me. Death wore a T-shirt that said “You have no business being pregnant diabetic.” Okay so maybe the last two things are stretching it, but you get the idea. We went home stressed and wondering if we made a huge mistake. This was repeated with the diabetes educator, the genetic counselor, dietician, eye doctor, and others.

We ended up dropping that OB and going with a group that specialized in high-risk pregnancies. I’m so glad we did because the high-risk doctors were actually very laid-back and even encouraged me to have more babies.

Having diabetes in pregnancy does carry risk. We are all different and each case is unique, but generally it has been found that with good medical care and tight control, we have the same chance for successful pregnancy than ladies without diabetes.

Tight control might seem like an impossible task, but I’ve seen women do it over and over again.  I’ve seen women do it who have started pregnancy with an HbA1c of 13 or higher.  I started with an A1c around 9 an ended up maintaining an A1c under 5 throughout my pregnancy.  If I can do it, anybody can.  Cliche I know…but true.

So if you have found this post in a panic, please take a deep breath.  Medical knowledge has come a long way.  You are not alone, and you can do this even if you find yourself pregnant unprepared and without great blood sugar control.  You can do this.


How Celery Can Supercharge Your Snacks


Celery is often called a “negative calorie food,” so how can you NOT try to eat as much as you can?  It’s nutritious, filling, tasty, low-carb, and an excellent delivery device.   If you don’t already, reap the benefits of celery by using it regularly in snacks.  Don’t forget to eat the leaves too…they have more magnesium and calcium than the stalks.

Celery is a great choice when you have diabetes.  Celery fights inflammation, especially in the digestive tract.  Inflammation is thought to play a role in insulin resistance.  It is also a great source of antioxidants and fiber.

Celery is not only soothing to your stomach, it can also calm your mood.  Celery is beneficial for eyes, helps blood pressure, and can help lower bad cholesterol.  It is also a helpful for polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Snack Ideas for Celery

Because the celery stalks are so easy to stuff, this is my favorite way to eat it.  You surely already know about peanut butter and “ants on a log” (peanut butter with raisins on top).  You can also stuff celery sticks with the following:

  • Cream cheese or goat cheese.  Alone or mixed with other ingredients such as nuts, olives, cranberries, bacon, etc
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Sprinkle a chile lime spice on top of celery sticks such as Tajin.

Other Great Stuffed Celery Ideas

Any recipe that already has celery as an ingredient can be a great potential stuffing.  Just omit the chopped celery and stuff the celery stick with the other ingredients.

  • Tuna salad (See below)
  • Egg salad
  • Waldorf salad (chopped apples, walnuts, and raisins mixed with mayo and lemon juice topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.  You could use broccoli and bacon too)
  • Potato salad
  • Seafood or crab salad

Celery Stuffed with Tuna Salad “Picture Recipe”

I believe we all need to learn to cook with our eyes and personal taste.  So I plan to include a lot of “picture recipes” which will be simply pictures and an ingredient list. Hopefully these will inspire you to take the ingredients, judge amounts by feel, and make your own art.  I personally make this recipe so that the tuna salad is mostly vegetable (onion and water chestnuts), but you might like it differently.


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Ingredients list:

  • Can of tuna
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped water chestnuts
  • Chopped pickles and a little pickle juice
  • Capers
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Mayonaisse
  • Asian garlic chili sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic salt
  • Tajin spice mix sprinkled on top of stuffed celery sticks (optional)

Mix all but Tajin spice mix.

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Stuff sticks.

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I hope this inspires you to incorporate more celery into your diet.  I always have celery on hand and trying new ways to have it. Do you have your own celery stuffing ideas?  Please share in the comments!


I’d Rather Have Cancer Than Diabetes

File Under:  Someone Actually Said That to Me


Welcome to my first installment of “Someone Actually Said That to Me.”  I’m sure as a person with diabetes, no matter what type, you’ve heard some bone-head comments.  Please take a moment to share what someone said to you in the comment section.

I was diagnosed with diabetes at a low-income clinic that primarily served the Mexican community in the early 1990’s.  I was an innocent youngster in my early 20’s.  The nurse practitioner told me he suspected diabetes.  I laughed it off.  No way.  I was too young.

The lab test confirmed the diagnosis and I remember my cheeks  and chin started to tingle as it sank in.  He told me to go down the hall to see the nurse and she would give me a “diabetes sheet.”

There were no cell phones back then and I felt very alone and disconnected walking down the hall in zombie mode while the enormity of it all sank in.  I entered the nurse’s small room and sat down at her desk.  She had her back to me and was going through papers.  It has been over 20 years and I still remember waiting and pulling at the threads on my pink sweater.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Was I going to die?  Would I have to poke myself?  Did I have to sign up to some sort of diabetes national register?

She turned around holding the sheet in her fingers like it was a dirty tissue.  She looked deep into my eyes and with deep anguish said, “I’m so sorry mejita.  I would rather have cancer than diabetes.”

It was like a bat was swung into my stomach.  I now wonder how many people got the news that way.  Having had diabetes for over 20 years, I can now say if I had to have a disease, I’m glad to have one that my actions can influence powerfully.

I’m sure many of you can relate.  Did you hear something stupid too when you were diagnosed?  This instance is my #1 most bonehead moment.  Hopefully it will remain the most stupidest thing I have heard.


Are YOU the Cause of Type 2 Diabetes?

Are type 2 diabetics out-of-control, chip-eating couch potatoes?  Or does diabetes develop first and then cause symptoms such as cravings, fatigue, and weight gain?

Look up scholarly articles and you will find arguments for each side.  Some will say obesity causes inflammation and then diabetes.  Others will say obesity is a consequence of inflammation.  If there are thin people with type 2 diabetes (and there are), does the first theory hold water?

You can read articles galore, but I’ve lived it.  Here is my story and interpretation of the cause of type 2 diabetes.

During my school years I was teased and called “skinny chicken.”  I can’t say my appetite was bigger than normal or that I had unhealthy habits aside from chasing boys who played the drums or wore black leather jackets . Being from a poor family meant my sisters and I rarely ate fast food.  I did, however, have a really strong family history of type 2 diabetes.

How strong?  Lets just say there should be diabetes product displays at my family reunions.  Diabetes appeared in at least one set of great-grandparents, both sets of grandparents, my mom, my dad, and a multitude of cousins.  I would have been shocked if I DIDN’T get it.  I would have thought something was seriously wrong with me!

In fact, I was recently sitting around a campfire with many extended family members and we realized all of us (including my very thin police officer cousin) had diabetes.  We told scary campfire stories about being diagnosed and what meds we were taking.  We had enough metformin there to treat everyone in north and south America.

In my early 20’s I started to have issues with chronic urticaria or hives and had to take long courses of prednisone.  While on this medication I gained a LOT of weight and I started to have blood sugar issues.  In the DiabeticMommy forum conversations, many of us with type 2 have taken long courses of prednisone and noted issues beginning around that time.

I think I already had a genetic disposition and the prednisone helped flip my biological switches.

Unbeknownst to me, I was developing a resistance to my own insulin.  Insulin helps get sugar out of the body but mine was not functioning.  Insulin was building up in my system.  Not only does insulin clear out sugar, it also signals for carb cravings, fat storage, and prevents fat from being burned.  My body was becoming a fat-making machine.

My cravings for carbs became unreal.  It felt like somebody gave me a drug.  In a sense, I was being drugged by my own excess insulin.  It got so bad, I would go to three different fast food drive-throughs and get three large hamburger meals for dinner.  And I was STILL hungry!   I ate constantly.  This was very unusual for me.  I gained so much weight, I went from 130 to 280 pounds within months.  I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around this time.

I tried losing weight and failed.  I couldn’t understand it.  However, when I learned about what insulin was doing in my body and the specific challenges it presented, I was finally able to lose 100 pounds.  I learned how to stop these out-of-control cravings.

So from my own experience, I would say something happened in my body that caused insulin resistance and weight gain.  Once I understood this concept, my quality of life improved.  Regardless of whether obesity caused diabetes or diabetes caused the obesity, somewhere along the way I ended up in a situation where my body was working against me.