Bicycling For Better Blood Sugar

It is a new year, but that has nothing to do with my new resolutions to do better for my body.

Really.

Nothing.

I’m serious.  But…since you brought it up, let me tell you about my new resolutions.

Bicycling my way to better blood sugar diabetesFor starters, I bought a new (to me) bike.  It’s an old Schwinn Traveler from the late 80s.  Baby blue.  Adorable.  All fixed up and ready to ride.

I live about 2 miles from the office and have started biking into work each morning.  I haven’t noticed tons of differences in my blood sugar just yet.  But the benefits are already starting to roll in.

REASONS I LOVE BIKING TO WORK:

  • I get here faster.
  • I don’t feel tired when I get home at night.
  • I’m helping others by staying off the crowded bus/BART.
  • I feel more focused in the mornings at the office (this could also do with the standing thing I talk about below).

I’m notorious for getting really excited about new things (exercise routines, diets, reality TV shows) and then ditching them in a few weeks after the shiny outer layer is worn off.  So far, however, I’m looking at this as a new part of my lifestyle instead of a passing thing.  Ask me in a week.

standing desk setup at office diabetesI have also been getting really excited about the standing desk setup that I’ve created at work.  I read somewhere on the internet (so it must be true) that SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING.  So I threw a bookshelf on its side and now I stand all day at work.

I do sit down during my lunch break and sometimes during meetings.  I find myself zoning out significantly less than I used to when I was hunched over in my chair.  And the fatigue at the end of that day is really minimal.

REASONS I LOVE MY STANDING DESK:

  • My after-lunch slump is doesn’t bring me all the way down to near-coma levels.
  • My creativity levels are higher. I even draw while standing.
  • I can self-righteously leave the office every day feeling like I just did a workout.
  • I get more Fitbit steps in since I’m constantly dancing and walking in place.

So there are my two new lifestyle changes that I’ve made…coincidentally at the beginning of this new year.  My birthday is in March; check back then to see if I’m still with it.

This is the one about Science, Diabetes and Social Media.

social media use by people with diabetes

At the ADA’s 73rd Scientific Sessions last week I came across this poster called Social Media Use by Individuals with Diabetes by University of South Florida’s College of Public Health (Emily Shaffer-Hudkins, Nicole Johnson & Stephanie Melton).

I would say that this poster fits into the “What we already know, but it’s nice to see data backing it up” category.  People surveyed found information related to “coping with diabetes” useful.  And they found supportive words/stories/comments helpful.  And the “duh” continues with the finding that over 80% of those surveyed identified as type 1s, while only 2% identified as type 2s…which is explained by the age of the survey participants (and ultimately the age of the people using social media).

The purpose of this study was to address gaps in clinical literature and to assist health professionals understand the social support need of people living with diabetes (hallelujah!).

This poster contains information that we’ve known about and have been talking about for years (that when people with chronic conditions find community online, their lives improve), but it is good to see that the psychosocial/behavioral medicine folks are catching on too.

See the poster here on the ADA’s site.

This is the one about ‘Strip Safely.’

blood drop painting by mike lawson with diabetesAs a person with diabetes we rely on technology to keep us alive.  Not just the tech that makes our medicine, but the tech that we rely on to decide how much insulin to dose.  At a recent public meeting the FDA acknowledged that there were some FDA cleared blood glucose meters and strips that do not meet the accuracy standards for which they were approved.

Wuuuut?!

This blew my mind.  And it reminded me of a video that I made a few years ago (in my bathroom) where I test my glucose with different meters and get pretty dramatically different results:

And the fact that the reading on my left hand didn’t match my right says more about my meter and strips than my body’s asymetry.  We rely on the accuracy of test strips to say alive.  That’s why I’m joining the Strip Safely campaign and contacting the FDA and my representatives in Congress to tell them that:

  • The accuracy of test strips is a public health issue.
  • Quality assurance should be done on strips sold through normal distribution channels.
  • We need better accuracy standards than the ones created in 2003.

What are you waiting for?  The Strip Safely website has sample letters that you can use to contact your legislators too.

Strip Safely - accurate diabetes testing matters

This is the one about diabetes tattoos.

hello kitty tattoo type 2 diabetesWhat are the purpose of diabetes tattoos?

I’m not trying to be judgemental with this post.  I’m seriously just hoping to unpack some of my thoughts on the topic.

I have good friends (online and off) that sport cute diabetes-related tattoos and I’ve even toyed with the idea of getting one myself.  And I’ve read that there is a growing number of people who are using tattoos as a more permanent medical alert.  In fact, The Canadian Medical Association Journal reported last May that medical tattooing appears to be increasing, partly because of the cost of medical alert bracelets.

medical alert tattoo for person with diabetes diabeticBut here’s my question: Do medical responders even look for diabetes tattoos?  Is this something they are trained to do?  I have heard people say that EMTs aren’t even so good at finding medical alert jewelry when it’s worn around the neck.  I struggle to see how a tat would do the job.

As I said a few paragraphs ago, I’m not writing this to be judgemental.  I’m really just curious if anyone (any EMTs reading?) has any insight on this.

I do have opinions about people that get tattoos to mark the dates that they were diagnosed (diaversary) or just because they feel that diabetes has become a part of their character.  To them I say, “hell yea!”

I came across the tattoo below on Reddit’s diabetes sub-group and it cracked me up.

wilfred brimley tattoo diabetus diabetes diabetic

There’s certainly no argument that this tattoo doesn’t serve as a medical alert…but it’s still pretty badass.

This is the one about TCOYD in Santa Clara.

Three people from the diabetes online community

Kerri Sparling (Six Until Me) and Amy Tenderich (Diabetes Mine) speaking with me at TCYOD Santa Clara. Photo credit: Debra Gardner

TCOYD Brochure ImageLast weekend I spoke at the Taking Control Of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) conference in Santa Clara in a session in the new Type 1 Track called “Getting To Know Your Online Community.”

I had incredible company on the DOC panel.  Kerri Sparling from Six Until Me, Amy Tenderich the founder of Diabetes Mine and Kelly Close from DiaTribe joined me in explaining to the participants the value of the online community.

Amy wrote about the event over on Diabetes Mine and does a much better job recapping the day, so you should go read her post.

Mike Lawson and Landileigh Nelson smiling at TCOYD Santa Clara

Landileigh & Mike Lawson – Photo Credit: Debra Gardner

One thing I love about these types of events is seeing friends.  Sometimes I have relationships with people for YEARS before ever crossing paths with them in real life.

Landileigh (pictured with me on the right) is one of those people.  I’ve known Landi for over five years, and we have never been in the same place at the same time until this past weekend.  When I first “met” Landi, I was going through some tough times and since then we have both had ups and downs.  It was a really nice feeling to give someone an IRL hug that has given you hundreds of virtual hugs for years.