Talk About It Tuesday: Diabetes Distress and Burnout

This week, we’re discussing Diabetes Distress & Burnout.

Diabetes distress occurs when someone feels overwhelmed by the daily demands of managing diabetes.

Diabetes burnout occurs when a person becomes tired of managing their condition, and then ignores it for a while, or even permanently.

Here are the signs to watch for:
ūüĒĻ Feeling angry and frustrated about diabetes management ūüĒĻ Worried about not taking good care of your diabetes but unmotivated to change things. ūüĒĻ Being hesitant to go to appointments or check your blood sugars regularly ūüĒĻ Making unhealthy foods choices. ūüĒĻ Feeling alone and isolated

Both diabetes distress and burnout can lead to depression if left untreated.

Let’s talk about it: Have you ever experienced diabetes distress or burnout?

Please share your experience and how you managed to get back on track with your diabetes management plan.

Until Next Time,

The Genetic Diabetic

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Our Children

The power of creating a family health legacy

After I was diagnosed with diabetes back in 2019, I became concerned about my children’s risk of developing the disease. On two of my previous three pregnancies, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Having gestational diabetes is not only a risk factor for diabetes in women, but it is also a potential risk factor for your children.  

In addition to family history and diabetes, there are other factors to consider, such as pre-existing health conditions and environmental factors. However, there is still a possibility for type 2 diabetes to be diagnosed in your children later on in life.   

As parents and guardians, we must do our part to prevent type 2 diabetes in our children. As a family, we may need to start incorporating ways to get healthier together.   

Some ideas include:

  • Meal planning together
  • Grocery trips as a family
  • Family walks
  • Family workout days
  • Making family meetings, one-on-one times, etc., where everyone can talk and help solve problems, encourage healthy stress management.  

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers some additional ideas that might benefit you and your family:

Family health legacy is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce our family’s risk of diabetes. Establish ways to become healthier as a family. We must act in the interests of our children and their future.  

Until Next Time,

The Genetic Diabetic

Quick Tip Thursday: Having a Consistent Schedule

How a consistent schedule benefits diabetes management

Starting each Thursday, I will be sharing a quick tip that will help you on your diabetes journey.

This week’s tip is about keeping a consistent schedule.

It’s important to keep your body consistent, which may include everything from what time you eat to when you sleep. You can help your body to regulate the body’s hormones and blood sugar levels by creating a regular routine and rhythm.

What does your current schedule look like?

Share your schedule in the comments!

Until Next Time,

The Genetic Diabetic

Sound Off: Diabetes and Exercise

People with diabetes can benefit greatly from daily exercise.   

These are just a few benefits:  

  • Maintains a healthy body weight
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Improves blood glucose management and blood flow
  • Improves mood overall
  • Boosts sleep quality
  • Improves your ability to cope with depression, anxiety, and stress

To ensure you are exercising safely, speak with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine so they can help you choose appropriate activities and set blood glucose targets.   

Sound Off: How do you exercise? Do you have a routine that works for you? Do you face any obstacles to exercising? Comment below to share your experience.  

Until Next Time,

The Genetic Diabetic

Caretaking With Chronic Illness

Caring for yourself while caring for a loved one with a chronic illness or disability

There are many days when it doesn’t matter how you feel, the show must go on. In addition to managing our own conditions, many of us also have to take care of our loved ones, especially those diagnosed with an illness or disability.   

I am a mother of a child on the autism spectrum. The diagnosis of my son with autism came five years prior to my diabetes diagnosis. As a result of observing him experiencing sensory issues during preschool, his diagnosis was not entirely surprising. Our son began occupational therapy every week and he received an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for school.

My son has made amazing progress on his journey. He achieved many fine and gross motor milestones. He is a scholar student and has graduated from an IEP to a 504 Accommodations Plan.  He will attend a new school this year and participate in a gifted program for language arts.

He has experienced setbacks, however, over the past couple days. Since then, he has had anxiety attacks, eaten very few foods, feared being alone, and has been having sensory meltdowns. His overwhelming fear is that things around him are moving nonstop and will soon explode. He had just been watching a YouTube video about how the universe would end.

The sudden occurrence has caught the entire family off guard. It is a waiting game in the house, since no one knows when the next episode will arrive. I am in the process of connecting with a therapist and his occupational therapist. 

The whole family has been affected, and I personally have been stressed out. Having to manage a chronic illness is difficult enough, but adding caregiving to the mix is extremely stressful. My son has been sitting, eating, and resting with me for the last few days, who is usually energetic but now won’t leave my side. Rarely does he play with his siblings. He hasn’t called his best friend yet. He won’t leave our room.

This is not the same little boy who was having a blast last week on our vacation. He’s not even the same one that was dancing and full of joy two days ago.  

Currently, I am managing both my own and his conditions.

It’s extremely hard.

It pierces my heart to hear him scream and cry in agony. We are literally counting the hours until we can call the pediatrician.

In the meantime, I am unable to eat or sleep well because I am so concerned about my son. Nevertheless, a wise psychologist friend I met today gave me some words of encouragement that I want to share with anyone going through similar difficulties: first and foremost, take care of yourself. If you don’t take the time to eat, rest, and manage your own condition, then you won’t be able to provide for those who depend on you.

It’s not easy to deal with chronic illness or caregiving, so when you’re ill and you’re the primary caregiver, it can be overwhelming. As a caregiver, you may be exposed to health risks due to the stress and demands associated with a serious health condition. When you are taking care of yourself and a loved one, consider these things: 

  • While you are not feeling well, find someone to look after your loved one until you feel better. Respite care can also help you rest if the need arises. 
  • If you have older children or adults at home, delegate certain tasks, such as taking your loved one to appointments, making calls, and preparing meals. 

Organize a plan to take care of yourself and your loved one if there is no one available to help. Keep it simple:

  • Consider staying in the same room as your loved one. Ensure that the area is close to a restroom and kitchen for easy access.¬†
  • Take advantage of the convenience of getting healthy foods delivered.
  • Have a place where all medications and other medical supplies can be stored.¬†¬†
  • Take the opportunity to do some work or hobbies while your loved one is resting.

Being constantly responsible for someone’s care can be emotionally and physically draining, but you will do anything for someone you love. Don’t forget to love and care for yourself as well.¬†

Let’s Talk About Insulin

The role of insulin and the two basic types

You just returned from your follow up doctor’s appointment, and it didn’t go quite as well as expected. While you’ve followed the recommended diet, exercised, improved your sleep and implemented some stress management strategies, your A1C has increased. Your doctor is strongly considering adding insulin therapy to your treatment plan.¬†¬†

The stigma attached to injecting insulin has caused you to try very hard to avoid using it. However, it seems that there is no alternative for you.   

Feelings of guilt and failure begin to creep in. As a result of the failure of your current treatment, you feel that you failed.   

Taking insulin is not a sign of failure, my friend.  

When insulin therapy is used properly, you can still live a long and healthy life. There is a good deal of planning, organizing and a lot of math skills required (no kidding!), but once you understand the role insulin plays in our bodies, you will discover that insulin therapy is a life-saving tool for managing diabetes.  

The Role of Insulin

Insulin is a hormone that aids in lowering the level of glucose in the blood. In response to a rise in glucose level, such as when eating, this hormone is released into the bloodstream. In the body, glucose enters cells where it can be used for energy or stored to use later.  

Any excess sugar is stored in the liver, muscles, and fat cells. In the cells, glucose reaches its normal level once it enters the cells.   

The presence of low blood glucose stimulates the release of another hormone called glucagon by cells of the pancreas. Glucagon activates the liver to release the stored glucose known as glycogen from the liver into your bloodstream. Throughout the day, insulin and glucagon alternate their release in order to keep blood glucose levels stable.  

A person with type 1 diabetes needs insulin therapy to replace the insulin that is not produced by the body.  

The insulin therapy is sometimes necessary for people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes when other treatments have not controlled blood glucose levels. Maintaining a target blood glucose level prevents complications.  

Basal & Bolus

Insulin comes in two basic forms: basal and bolus.   

Basal insulin is a long-acting type of insulin, also known as a “background”. Basal insulin boosts activity for about 24 hours at a time. High resting blood glucose levels can be brought down with basal insulin by providing a continuous supply of throughout the day. Basal insulin is usually taken once or twice a day to maintain consistent levels. By using basal insulin, glucose levels can remain steady even when individuals are not eating, allowing the cells to use energy more efficiently.

Bolus insulin is a more powerful, but shorter-lasting type of insulin. It is commonly taken before meals and during periods of higher blood sugar. Bolus insulin is taken at mealtimes to maintain a healthy level after eating. It is also known as “rapid-acting” insulin because it needs to work fast. Bolus insulin usually works around 15 minutes, peaks after an hour, and lasts for 2-4 hours. Bolus insulin is affected by the amount of food a person eats during a meal; therefore, it’s necessary that a person with diabetes knows how many carbohydrates they consume so that they can adjust how much insulin they need. Many people using bolus insulin use carb counting and carb-to-insulin ratios as tools.¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

Basal-bolus insulin therapy is an intensive insulin treatment that involves taking basal and bolus insulin simultaneously.  This means that some people takes basal insulin once or twice a day and use bolus insulin at mealtime. In addition to insulin, people with type 2 diabetes may need to take oral, non-insulin medications. 

Did you know that there are over 20 different types of insulin on the market in the United States? Tomorrow, I will share the five types of supplemental insulin and how each of them work.

Until Next Time,

The Genetic Diabetic  

Back To School With Diabetes

How parents can properly prepare their child with diabetes for the new school year with a 504 Plan

We’re back to that time of year:

It’s back to school time!

I’m sure most of you who are parents or guardians have already started planning for the new school year. Setting up appointments to get immunizations and a physical. A dental cleaning for your kids. Getting the best deals on school supplies and clothes, saving up for those secondary school fees, or finding an after-school program for your child. 

What about setting up a 504 accommodations plan for your child with diabetes at school?

What is a 504 Plan?

A “504 Plan” is a plan developed to comply with a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.The 504 Plan details the steps the school will take to keep students with disabilities safe, ensure they have the same opportunities to learn as other children, and ensure they are treated fairly. This can be used to ensure that students, parents/guardians, and school staff understand their responsibilities and to minimize misunderstandings.

Diabetes of all types is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is, therefore, very important for parents of children with diabetes to take advantage of this and to ensure that their children are safe and treated fairly in school.

The 504 plan describes a broad range of services and accommodations that are often needed by students with diabetes, ranging from kindergarteners to high school seniors. All plans should specify that school staff must receive training to recognize hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and respond accordingly.

A student’s plan should be tailored to his or her specific needs, abilities, and medical condition. Make sure that only provisions that are relevant to a particular child are included. 

How To Pursue a 504 Plan

  • Collect all the information and data about your child and their condition. This includes official diagnosis and medical records from all doctors and specialists treating your child.
  • Write a letter explaining your reasons and requesting accommodations.
  • Ask the school district for a 504 Plan for your child. Follow the 504 Plan Coordinator’s procedures to request a 504 Plan.
  • Keep in touch with the coordinator to determine the progress of the 504 Plan process.

The American Diabetes Association offers a sample 504 plan and examples of accommodations that can be downloaded.

Now is the perfect time to make sure that your child will be treated fairly when he or she has diabetes. Let’s make this school year a healthy one!

Until Next Time,

The Genetic Diabetic

Diabetes On The Clock

Diabetic discrimination at the workplace: What you can do

Take a moment to imagine this:

You’ve worked for your employer for several years. It’s a great job and you love the environment. You have just been diagnosed with diabetes. Suddenly, your entire lifestyle has to change. You must take new medications, alter your eating habits, and increase your physical activity. In addition to adjusting to these changes at home, you will also have to adjust to them at your workplace as an employee with diabetes.

During your work hours, you need to monitor your blood sugar twice, have snacks handy, and find creative ways to incorporate physical activity. In addition, you will need to locate a discrete area at your workplace where you can take insulin and other medications.

However, when you tell your immediate manager about your medical condition and accommodations that you request, the manager is nonchalant and doesn’t seem to care. The manager feels that you’re making too much of your condition, and believes that it would be unfair to give you “special preference” over all of the other workers.

This is an example of workplace discrimination based on chronic illness. It’s more common than we realize, especially when it’s a non-visible condition like diabetes. The awareness of diabetes among employers is still relatively low, even though it is one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in the US and worldwide.

Employees with diabetes working in the United States have Federal and State rights. A federal anti-discrimination law,¬†the Americans with Disabilities Act,¬†covers¬†employers and¬†unions with 15 or more employees.¬†It¬†protects¬†people with disabilities from unfair¬†employment¬†practices. An¬†employer¬†may not¬†treat you differently¬†based on the fact that you have diabetes¬†in hiring, firing, discipline, pay, promotion, job training and fringe benefits. You must be a¬†“qualified individual with a disability.” Diabetes¬†has¬†been¬†characterized¬†as¬†a¬†disability¬†due¬†to¬†its¬†detrimental¬†effect¬†on¬†the¬†endocrine system,¬†which¬†regulates¬†bodily functions.

Many states have their own laws against disability discrimination. These laws and the state agencies that enforce them may give employees extra protection and may apply to smaller employers as well.

Providing reasonable accommodations is the way employers can ensure people with disabilities do their jobs and are treated fairly. The majority of people with diabetes only need to make small changes that cost little or nothing.

Asking for accommodations is employee’s responsibility. While not entirely required, it is best to submit a written request for accommodation that explains why diabetes is a disability; specifies the accommodations required; and how the accommodations will enable the employee to carry out job duties effectively. This should be given to the human resources department along with a letter from the physician confirming the request.

There are a number of reasonable accommodations that may be provided. Here are some examples.

‚ÄĘ Breaks¬†for¬†blood glucose¬†testing,¬†eating¬†snacks,¬†taking¬†medicine,¬†and¬†going¬†to the bathroom

‚ÄĘ Keeping¬†diabetes supplies and food¬†close¬†by¬†

‚Äʬ†Leaving¬†for treatment, recovery,¬†or training on managing¬†diabetes

‚ÄĘ An¬†alternative¬†work schedule or a standard shift instead of¬†rotating¬†shifts

‚ÄĘ People with diabetic neuropathy (a nerve disorder caused by diabetes), for access to a chair or stool;

‚ÄĘ People with diabetic retinopathy (a vision disorder caused by diabetes), for access to large-screen computer monitors or other assistive devices

Eligible employees can also take can advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employees with serious health conditions, most private employers with more than 50 employees, and most government employers, must provide a minimum of 12 weeks of leave per year. You can take this leave in small time chunks to attend to short term problems, for example, managing blood glucose levels or to attend doctor’s appointments.

If an employer refuses to accommodate reasonable accommodation requests, conducts illegal medical inquiries or undergo an illegal medical examination, employees are encouraged to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The American Diabetes Association and the Chronic Disease Coalition are two organizations dedicated to assist employees experiencing workplace discrimination due to diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association has created an entire section on workplace discrimination and provides resources for employees and employers.

The Chronic Disease Coalition is a strong advocate for rights for individuals diagnosed with chronic illness. Chronic Disease Coalition Ambassadors have published several stories related to workplace discrimination and has a section that keeps people updated on current legislative efforts.

The fact that we live with an invisible illness does not mean we are not struggling and that we are not exasperating our condition. We remain hardworking, dedicated workers capable of performing our jobs. In order that we can effectively do our jobs and provide for ourselves and our families, we need to be treated with dignity and to be provided with the accommodations we need.

It’s just that simple.

Until Next Time,

The Genetic Diabetic

American Diabetes Association Employment Discrimination:

Chronic Disease Coalition: