Monday, June 27, 2016

Taking control of my health_Living with Diabetes

Warning--This is a pretty long post with many educational points. If you don't want to feel like you are back in school, you can skip to the bottom, where I have posted a healthy and yummy recipe!

Y'all know I am a diabetic right? I am sure I have mentioned it a few times. I have been diagnosed since 2005. Eleven long years of dealing with this crappy ass disease.  I have the type 2 'beetus. And it is a beast. And a bitch. And I hate it. And I hate that my body is defective. And I hate being a slave to medicine. And I hate that I have to ALWAYS think about food. What I eat, what I drink, planning my meals, taking my meds, checking my glucose levels...blah, blah, blah.

Every day. Twice a day. Sometimes more if needed.

Managing my meds. Any wonder why people get confused, miss doses or accidentally overdose? And the purple pill keeper--that is just the weekly, MORNING meds. I have meds I take at night also. 

I shouldn't complain. There are many other diseases far worse than diabetes. I am lucky (in a sense) because it can be controlled with oral/ injectable medications, exercise, diet and sometimes-- just sometimes-- you can actually get off the medicine.  Diabetes doesn't really go away, it is a chronic, lifelong condition. If it does "go away",  it is sort of like being in remission. Even with control it can come back later in life for Type 2's.  Type 1 diabetics don't have as many choices as type 2's in that regard.  They are stuck--quite literally--with needles. Injections or an insulin pump are a way of life.  It is their life. 

The reality is Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. It is the fastest growing chronic disease in the US with 29 MILLION people having diabetes (~1.3 million are type 1). 1.4 MILLION NEW cases are diagnosed each year. 

Diabetes is a scary disease! 
There are all sorts of complications and co-morbid conditions that go with this disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, increase chance of cardiac arrests, strokes, kidney disease, blindness, and amputations. Good times right?

Here's the facts jack--I will 100% die from diabetes and it's complications if I can't/ don't control my blood sugar. 

And the medications--well those might just kill me too. Many of  the medications have "potential" side effects just as scary as the disease itself. Heart attacks, liver cancer, kidney cancer, strokes... It is a fine balance to find the right medications with the least amount of side effects.  I am particularly paranoid because I was a chemist for 20 years. So I am not a great patient, always badgering my doctor about the medications, side effects, clinical trials, and post market reports. Hey--you gotta be your own advocate for your health.

What are the risk factors?
Genetics--Ethnicity, Age, Personal and Family Medical History
Diabetes can occur at any point in one's life. Diabetes while pregnant (without having a previous condition of diabetes) is called gestational diabetes. Later in life is called Latent Diabetes.

Not all diabetics are fat! Weight, diet and exercise are certainly contributing factors but not necessarily the cause. 20 lbs of extra weight can be the difference in an elevated glucose or not. 

For women, one of the leading cause of diabetes is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Not only is PCOS a leading cause of infertility, the hormones interfere with the production and acceptance of insulin, often resulting in elevated glucose levels and subsequently diabetes.

Anatomy and Physiology
Diabetes is an endocrine (metabolic) disorder. Insulin --which the body produces naturally in the Pancreas--more specifically beta cells called Islets of Langerhans. There are approximately 1 million beta cells in a healthy adult pancreas. Type 1 diabetes occurs because the immune system sees the beta cells as dangerous and destroys them. Type 2 often occurs because the insulin produced is defective and can't be accepted by the receptors or the body can't process the insulin efficiently to control the glucose in our blood stream.

When we consume food, glucose levels rise and insulin is released to reduce the glucose levels. All foods have some form of sugar. Milk/ dairy (lactose), fruits and vegetables (fructose) and  starchy plants-like corn- (dextrose), and table sugar (sucrose). If it ends in -OSE, it is a sugar. All forms of starches, carbohydrates, etc. are converted into glucose,for our body to use

What is normal anyway?
A normal fasting glucose level (no food for 8 hours) is 77-99 mg/dL. Postprandial (after eating) 2  hours that level should be less than 140 mg/dL.

Signs and Symptoms of Elevated Glucose
Excessive Thirst
Increased urination
Dry Skin
Nausea and Vomiting
Abdominal Pain
Cramping/ Bloating/ Increased bowel movements
Blurred Vision
Wounds that are slow to heal
Weight loss
Increased appetite
Light Headedness
Hot/ Flushed skin

Not everyone will have all these symptoms. Maybe you have a few. Often by themselves people shrug it off as being under the weather.  Do yourself a favor, don't wait or blow it off. A simple urine or fingerstick blood test can confirm elevated glucose.

Diabetes is BIG business
The estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes is in excess of $245 billion dollars. This is testing, medications, hospitals stays, physician  management, supplies and reduced productivity to the workforce. Diabetic patients spend an average of $13,000 annually on medical expenditures.

Take Control
It doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. You can take control. I AM taking control. When I was first diagnosed eleven years ago, I said  "ppfffttt--I got this. I am going to lose weight, get in shape and I will be off my meds in year." Ummm, not so much. My weight has yoyo'ed, along with my meds and blood sugar. I have had a multitude of health issues because diabetes is a systemic disease. It affects...EVERYTHING!

Finally I have had enough. I want off this ride, it sucks. In November, I had a crisis. My meds quit working. yep. Just stopped. I was faithfully (ok- 95% of the time because nobody is perfect) taking my meds, I had begun losing weight, eating healthier and WHAMO-BLAMO! my meds quit working and my glucose levels shot up to the high 400's.  Almost 4-5 times the normal range. That is bad. REALLY BAD!

Since then my meds have been changed/ adjusted 3 times. My blood sugar has decreased. Most mornings I am between 120-140 and my postprandial is 180-220. But I just can't seem to  return to the normal range. I have been very compliant with my meds, because I had the crap scared outta me! I have lost 40 pounds (not an easy feat at all) and I have made even better food choices.

Counting Carbs, Glycemic Index and a bunch of other stuff to know
When I was first diagnosed, I met with a nutritionist, took the class on how to count carbs, read labels, measure correct portions, and develop a meal plan.  Over the years there have been times where I have been lax on all of these, usually not at the same time though. 

I took a long hard look at my current habits, medication regimen and previewed a very grim future if I didn't make changes. I have to zone in on why I am still outside the normal range. 

So it is back to basics. 
Counting carbs-45-60 g per meal, not to exceed 250 g per a 2000 calorie per day intake. But since I am still trying to lose weight, I am limiting my caloric intake to about 1750 per day, so 12.5% (218 g) of that can be carbs. And not just any carbs. Complex carbs. HEALTHY carbs. Things to avoid are white bread, white flour, white sugar.

Glycemic Index--is the system that measures/ ranks foods and their effects on blood glucose levels. Harvard Medical School has a decent  chart of foods and their GI ranking. The lower the number, the less reactive and better for blood glucose stabilization. 

Making better food choices. Choosing lean proteins, eating clean (minimally processed), knowing which fruits and vegetables are the best options, and choosing healthy grains.

Other stuff--Hydrate and Move! I need to drink my water-a minimum of 74 oz each day. Water does more than hydrate, it helps with appetite suppression and fights fatigue. I just need to get up off my arse and move. You too! I walk, dance around the living room, garden and toss the ball for my dog. I  put the remote down, step away from the computer more often and move.  

I like yummy foods. Food is pleasure for me. So dieting...errr, behavior modification is BORING. I am constantly searching for/ or tweaking recipes that can be healthy and not taste like crud. 

ok, ok--enough of the teachy, preachy stuff. On to the deliciousness of these muffins. 

Low Glycemic and Grain Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Assemble your ingredients.

~Combine the dry ingredients~
1 cup almond meal
1/4 level cup of chia seeds
3 level tablespoons of coconut flour*
1 level tablespoon of cinnamon
1/2 level teaspoon of baking soda
1/8 level teaspoon of salt

~Wet Stuff~
Melt 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (10 to 15 seconds in the microwave will do it)
Dip your tablespoon in the melted coconut oil (drain) and measure 3 tablespoons of honey. The coconut oil allows the honey to slide right off the spoon.
Add 3 lightly beaten eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/4 cup of applesauce
1 peeled, cored and grated/diced apple (including the juice). I used my mandoline to coarse grate the apple, then diced the remaining pieces.

*Coconut flour absorbs moisture. I am surprised I didn't hear a sucking sound when the ingredients were combined.*

~Other Stuff~
Coconut oil spray
Mini muffin pan
mini liners
2 level tablespoons of Moreno cane sugar 

Mix all ingredients. The batter will look a little goopy. Goopy is a word, right?

Heat the oven to 350°F, line your cupcake/ muffin pan, lightly spritz liners with coconut oil. Add about a teaspoon to each lined muffin well.

Bake for about 12 minutes (appliances vary, check by inserting a wooden pick that comes out clean). Cool for a few minutes, then remove from the muffin pan to a cooling rack. Optional--lightly sprinkle  moreno sugar on muffin tops. And do try to be patient, before you start shoving these down your pie hole, because they are seriously yummy!

Healthy, they look pretty, are fragrant, has a good crumb and are moist. Loaded with protein (egg and chia), high fiber (coconut flour and chia), grain free and minimal sugar (moderately low GI). And they are freaking delicious.

My takeaway on these...
I wish I had made more and I think I would like to try these with maple syrup instead of honey.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Let this be a lesson

We had another major storm blow through our region Wednesday night. Several thousand people experienced power loss, including us. Ours was due to downed power lines. We think lightening struck a tree, caught it on fire and the limbs fell on the lines.  

This time we were prepared to deal with the power outage---or so we thought. Once the torrential downpour subsided, the hubbs wheeled out our generator that we purchased 4 years ago after the epic storm which resulted in a total loss of all of our perishable foods.  Gas generators are incredibly noisy. We have a Troybilt 8250/6000. We decided to enjoy the peace and quiet after the storm before cranking on the generator.
We had unfettered access to the sights and sounds of nature, normally masked by the visual and auditory pollution of modern civilization.We stood in back yard and breathed deep the smell of damp soil and rain. Did you know, there is a term for this specific smell? It is called Petrichor. We admired the beauty of a double rainbow. And we smiled as we watched the antics of wildlife spraying arcs of water droplets in their wake of hopping to and fro from wet branches.

Our sojourn into nature ended much too soon and the demands of modern life beckoned. So we set about running the lines to various appliances and fired up the generator. We cycled running both refrigerators, the chest freezer and charging our small electronics (phones, tablet and laptop). We didn't run our generator all night because it is very loud, smelly and honestly there was enough of a cool breeze we  thought we would enjoy having the windows open overnight.

What really happened... one of our neighbors ran their generator ALL night.  The echoing roar of a combustion engine several yards from our house. So that was lovely-not! By 4:15 am the power had not been restored, so I grudgingly forced myself out of bed. After getting ready to work, I went to the garage to wheel out the generator and quite nearly suffocated from the smell of gas fumes. I had to run outside to breathe from coughing and gagging. It took me several minutes and a few deep breaths then I ran into the big bay of the garage and flung open the garage door. I made such a clatter the hubbs really did look to see what was the matter. Hahaha, not the night before Christmas.

The hubbs in his hastiness (and fatigue) FAILED to shut the valve to the gas on the generator.

All night, while we slept, the gas leaked out of the tank puddling into a pool on the concrete and built up fumes in the garage. Think about that for a minute. IF the cat been in the garage he would have been asphyxiated.  IF the power surged back on, a spark could have detonated our garage into a explosive fireball.   

Oh.My. God!!!  

We are truly lucky, blessed and perhaps even charmed to have averted such a PREVENTABLE, POTENTIAL tragedy.

Always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, be careful and think about your sequence of actions.

 Safety is of the utmost importance.

Once we managed to get over our shock of WHAT MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED, we sprang into action. The hubbs poured kitty litter on the gas puddle. Not sawdust,  because no additional combustible materials were needed. I made a quick trip to Kroger's and bought lots and lots of ice (and a new coleman cooler).

Upon returning home, I used the principles of thermal mass--err... I shoved all the frozen junk into the chest freezer and placed bags of ice on top. All the refrigerated items were sorted into the ice filled coolers to keep and things deemed not necessary were pitched. I had one 22 bag of ice remaining, I placed the non perishable beverages in the now empty refrigerator freezer with the bag of ice, utilizing it as a cooler.

Power was restored midday Thursday and life is "normal" again. We didn't lose our food supply, a pet didn't die, and our garage didn't explode. But we most definitely learned a very, VERY important lesson in safety.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

$32 bathroom spruce up

I have been complaining about the downstairs bathroom for quite some time. It is still on the list to remodel but as life goes, things happen and priorities shift. Soooo...I put on "my creative, let's thinks outside the box and make this work on the cheap" hat. I couldn't change the the walls right now, but I did make a few inexpensive changes.

AFTER--btw I know the toe kick isn't painted. that is going get wrapped with baseboard. i didn't want to lay on the floor to paint it :)
I removed the rusty old medicine cabinet. The previous owners notched the window frame so the medicine cabinet would fit. I have installed a less obtrusive mirror. The mirror was stashed in the garage and just needed cleaned up a bit.

Since I lost some storage I bought a small plastic drawer system ($14) that fit neatly under the colorful metal table which I already had as part of a nesting trio of tables. I am debating about skirting this table with fabric in the same color scheme as the shower and window curtains (using industrial velcro) to make it easy to remove for cleaning.

We installed sheet vinyl remnants that were pieced together, which were free from my sister! It is not an exact match to my kitchen vinyl floor but it is the same color even if the blocks are bigger than the kitchen vinyl. I still have a 4ft by 5ft piece we can use for patching if needed.  We had the adhesive leftover from installing our kitchen sheet vinyl. There are a few minor imperfections from piecing the the vinyl and a few less than perfect cuts on my part. I truly don't mind because it is leaps and bounds better than what we had. Since the flooring was free, it is temporary until we gut this room. I spent $5 on aluminum threshold to cover the sheet vinyl seem between the kitchen and bathroom. (I still need to paint the door and trim white)

I also painted the the old sink vanity. I used a brush technique to make it look aged/ worn. It turned out pretty nice. I still may go back and hit it with a little sandpaper to mimic worn areas due to constant use (corners and by the handles).  The old hardware was rusty and a little gross but I just hit it with a wire brush to knock the worst of the rust, wiped it down and reinstalled. It goes with the whole aged patina thing.

Here's a helpful hint. When painting flat surface items and if there is a side edge which also requires painting, do NOT paint the edge when lying directly on newspaper. ASK ME HOW I KNOW THIS! I tried to move the cabinet doors after priming and the newspaper came with the doors. DOH! Once I scraped of the newspaper--which looked like a preschool art project--I placed the cabinets on bamboo skewers. That was kind of cool with the rolling action that went along with it, haha. I finally used another bamboo skewer stuck in the cabinet pull hole to hold it in place while painting and I didn't need to touch a wet edge. Ingenuity at it's finest.

I had a 1 yard remnant of fabric and sewed a new curtain panel. Surprisingly the colors are an exact match to my existing shower curtain. I fashioned the tie back from ribbon remnant. This swag also hides the notched out frame.
This a dual purpose bathroom and laundry room.  The water lines and drain are awkwardly placed and visible. I spent $13 at Lowes for melamine laminated shelving. I simply drilled pilot holes, screwed the pieces together and made a 3 sided box to cover the water lines and drain. It makes a great plant stand!  If we need to access the water valves or drain, we can simply move the box frame.

Overall I feel pretty pleased with the outcome. It freshened up the look of the room, at minimal cost

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Mad Hatter Tea Party

“I'm not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.” 
― Lewis Carroll

Follow the arrows to the tea party. The sign was printed offline from a Google search and the frame was from the Dollar Tree. The tassel's were purchased at Target (Dollar Spot bins) and the glittery hearts was a 4 pack purchased from Old Time Pottery.

Which key? I have a "thing" for keys. Especially those which look old fashioned. I have amassed a collection over the years. Purchased from various locations (thrift stores, yard sales, Dollar stores and craft stores)

A glimpse of Wonderland. The door knobs were from Michael's and Old Time Pottery (as was the oversized hand mirror).

A few images printed offline (Thank You Google and Pinterest) and the mismatched gold frames are from my very organized hoard stash of decorative accessories totes.

Through the Looking Glass--The center mirror is an antique plaster of mirror with the most amazing smoked glass patina. The remaining mirrors were found at Goodwill and The Family Dollar store.

"It's Always Tea Time" using a variety of mismatched mugs. The mugs were monogrammed with each guest's initial(purchased from Old Time Pottery and Big Lot's). Continuing the wonky theme using mismatched dishes (purchased at my local Krogers), tablecloths (Target) and chairs (mine).

Teapots and other decorative accessories. Most of which I pulled from my hoard stash. I am an organized hoarder, haha

Not a white rabbit, but a cute wire rabbit from Target, and a nod to to the Queen of Hearts

I may have gone a little bonkers with the tissue pom-poms. Many of these were purchased at the dollar stores, Walmart, Target and even a couple I diy-ed.

Here is my favorite DIY-ed tissue pom. I flipped it over, stuck it in a vase and it looks like a giant polka dot flower. How very Alice in Wonderland, haha
Don't be late for the Wonky Photo Booth. The clocks are stopwatches instead of pocket watches and a little Andy Warholish, but I liked it. The canvas is from Old Time Pottery.  A variety of lanterns add to the festive feel.

Plenty of Wonky Photo props.The Cheshire grin was a super easy DIY. I printed the image found online, cardboard was cut to the shape, secured with tape and a bamboo skewer was used for the stick.

What's tea party without sweets?

And fun was had by all...

“IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” 
― Lewis Carroll

6/06/16 edited to correct grammar mistakes and expand descriptions on a few of the photos.