Out With The Old, In With The New

Once you are diagnosed diabetic, Type 1 or Type 2, there is no longer just a yearly checkup with your primary physician.  Instead, you must now add to that a visit to your endocrinologist about every 3 months for an A1c, as well as see a dietitian to ensure that you are managing your diabetes well. 

I am very fortunate to have insurance that allows me to see doctors within the Cedars Sinai group here in Los Angeles.  I saw doctors in this group before I was diabetic and I also gave birth to both of my children at Cedars Sinai Hospital.  They have always provided excellent service. 

I like my endocrinologist, who, lucky for me is also my primary physician.  I don’t think that is common.  I also like my dietitian.  Every time I see them for an appointment they are at a loss for words at how well I am managing my diabetes (I am guessing there is a vast majority that does not???).  I can see the shock on their faces.  I pretty much run my appointments.  My main purpose for seeing them is to make sure I get my prescriptions. 

I remember my appointment with my dietitian to discuss applying for the pump.  As usual she asked me a bunch of questions and how I was doing.  But when I got to the part where I told her I  don’t eat grains she promptly chimed in to say “Well you can have grains.  It is good to include whole grains as part of a healthy diet.”  Whoa.  I could have schooled her right there but I decided to save her dignity as a health professional.  Afterall, my goal was to see her so that I could get an insulin pump. 

My next visit with her was after I had received my pump and been using it for a couple weeks.  It is standard for you to come in to see how you are doing and to possibly make basal rate and/or carb ratio changes if necessary.  Because the pump was new to me I had a lot of questions for her.  My last question, however, was a complete curve ball.  I asked her what she thought of paleo.  (Most who are close to me know that I follow a primal way of eating and that I truly believe it has helped me immensely in dealing with my auto immune disease, Type 1 diabetes.)  Man did I have her stumped with my question.  She stumbled over her words saying “Well I haven’t really heard anything about that.  I’ll have to look into that.”

As much as I like her, I thought to myself how the heck can you be a “practicing” dietitian who is not keeping up with current health news and reports?  I must amdit thought I half expected this answer from her because she is older and I imagine has been doing this for more than a couple decades.  So I left and left it at that.

About a week ago, I recieved a letter in the mail from her.  It was announcing that she had made the decision to retire and would no longer be my dietitian.  This was a standard letter sent to all her clients.  She was very instrumental in getting me on my insulin pump in a quickly manner and I am very grateful for that, yet there is part of me that thinks this is a good thing.  This tells me that the generation is changing and with that the current health and diet paradigms too.  We need new health professionals that realize and put into practice a new way of thinking about diet and health.  Health professionals that know you DON’T need whole grains and starchy carbohydrates for proper bodily funtcion.  Not only that but health professionals who know what “paleo” is, ones who will take a more whole body approach to diagnosis and treatment and ones that don’t look at me wide-eyed in amazement at how well I am managing my diabetes because that should be the goal.  I am very excited to see how this change takes place and you can bet that I will have my own part in this upcoming health revolution.

It Is Not Just “My” New Diabetic Life

When someone is newly diagnosed with a chronic illness it is often overlooked how immediate family members and close friends are affected.  I, for example, was very proactive about making the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes required to maintain my diabetes.  This was no easy task but especially harder because I was married with two very young children.  My life was turned upside down and in turn theirs was too.  Of course, there have been bumps along the way.  I suddenly went through the kitchen and tossed everything grain in the trash.  Yes that includes cereal, cookies and the most beloved staple in a Korean home, white rice.  I would watch my husband who is not diabetic walk into the kitchen scouring the fridge and the cupboards only to come out with a sad, defeated look on his face.  I mean I had to give the guy credit.  He was making the same changes I was making too but without the same reason.

It bothered me to think that I might become some sort of food nazi so I would watch him eat a hamburger on a lovely golden brown bun and eat all of the delicious panchan with soft sticky rice, while I on the other hand would eat my hamburger wrapped in iceberg lettuce and skip the rice completely.  I knew that when he went to work he would eat as he liked at lunchtime and of course whenever we would meet friends outside of the house it would certainly contain a fair amount of carbs.

All the while, I have tried to stay communicative with him.  Let him know what it feels like when I have a low or conversely when I am high.  I keep him informed when I research something and learn something new.  Sometimes I think to myself, “this is going in one ear and straight out the other.”  Surprisingly, I see changes.  There has been more than one occasion where he has skipped the rice not only on my behalf but because he now understands why it is not good for you.  We have a better kitchen routine down too.

So now the reason for this post.  I was going through the fridge today, as I usually do on the weekend.  Sometimes when I am feeling uninspired I will cheat and buy some of those low carb yogurt cups from the grocery store.  I know, I know, they are not ideal but I admit I cheat here and there.  Last time I picked some up I mistakenly chose a couple of the regular non low-carb version (35 grams of carbs!!!!).  I told my husband they were all his.  But to my surprise when I looked in the fridge today there is one of the two left.  It made it a whole week without being touched.  I’ve even suggested for him to eat it when he goes looking for a snack but no go.

Sure I guess it could be that he just hasn’t been in the mood for it but I’d like to think that my husband has really been there with me on this health journey.  And that maybe some things were not just going in one ear and out the other.  It is a silent sign and one that is encouraging and reminds me that I am not going through this alone.  Thank you honey for doing your best to understand and learn with me.  Thank you for not eating the yogurt cup in the fridge.

For those of you who are newly diagnosed remember that it is a big change for you and also for those close to you.  Just as it will take you some time to change your routine and sort things out it will be that way for others too because we are all in this together.

Ethics 101

I currently work for a very corporate company and in a recent meeting my boss was mentioning business ethics.  Of course this concept is everywhere these days.  Go to any true corporate website and you will most surely find a page dedicated to informing you of their corporate responsibility.  Nowadays, as a society, we highly value a company that can not only make billions in revenue but also abide by ethical standards.  Of course how transparent these companies are is to be debated. I am not going to get into that here.  What I will say is why aren’t we taught human responsibility?  And no I’m not talking about spending $1.00 a day to save a child’s life in a third world country.  Is it too much to ask to save your own?  What I gather is that it is corporate’s responsibility to do right by us and its our individual respnsibility to….to take care of everyone else???  Now don’t get me wrong; I am a hippie at heart and love humanitarianism (my dream has always been to be an attorney that practices international human rights law for refugees), however, how on earth are you able to take care of someone else if you are not properly taking care of yourself? 

OK. So where am I going with this?  Ethics needs to be retaught.  We need to learn the ethics of doing right by our bodies.  We are all caught up in what we need to do for others or what others are doing around us that we completely neglect our selves.  If becoming diabetic has taught me anything it is that I MUST TAKE CARE OF MY HEALTH. FOR ME.  NO EXCUSES. And then for everyone else.  It’s just like how the mother should put the oxygen mask on first and then proceed to save her children.  You can’t do anything if your body and health are not right.  I am a mom so this really hits home with me. 

Take a look at this: in this month’s Diabetes Forecast Magazine I read “Type 1 diabetes is on the rise, according to researchers who studied 20 years of data on Philadelphia children up to age 14.  The frequency of diabetes diagnoses rose by a third in all kids…In kids under age 4, the rate of diabetes diagnoses rose by 70 percent”  70 percent!!!!!  It then goes on to say, “The researchers aren’t sure why diabetes may be increasing at such a rate in younger children.”  (Are you kidding me? You can’t even postulate that it has something to do with our incorrect food pyramid, carelsssly promoted processed foods and lack of play?)  And children are not the only ones being diagnosed Type 1.  I am proof.  The number of adults being diagnosed has also increased. 

I’m not here to preach but why aren’t we making a change?  We value ethics so how is it so easy in one sentence to say that a disease has risen 70 percent but then write it off by saying we don’t know why this is happening.  The answer is right in front of us.  Let’s start focusing on our selves.  Focus on what we are eating instead of chalking it up to “I had a stressful day so it’s ok” or “The food pyramid says so” and how we are moving/exercising instead of “I’m too tired” or “this is just my body type.”  Let’s also teach our children, the new generation, the ethics of nutrition and taking care of their bodies so that living a satisfying life doesn’t just come from good grades and becoming some well-to-do company man.  Have your own personal mission statement and begin by taking a minute to look in the mirror and hold yourself accountable. Because in the end you know it is the right thing to do.