Monday, December 27, 2010

Unplugging in Los Cabos - or at home

Lior and I went on a fabulous get-away to Los Cabos, Mexico last week. We needed to unwind, de-stress, and detach from the pressures of the real world. Although we went on a few excursions (shopping being one of them), our main goal was to unplug.

Los Cabos. Wow, what a beautiful place – desert mountains with steep cliffs dotted with palm trees and cacti overlooking an absolutely gorgeous crystal blue view of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. We saw whales, sea lions, marlins, and pelicans during a sunset sailing trip we took one afternoon. There was lots of sunshine, friendly people, and Mexican culture - including tequila, Mariachi, and lots of Mexican dishes – with and without flour.

Of course, it’s practically impossible to completely unplug from all aspects of your life – even when you go to a blissful place like Los Cabos. I will always have diabetes and celiac no matter where I go.

So amidst the relaxation, Lior and I were still deciphering and dissecting menu items to find out if they had gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley). Thankfully, he speaks Spanish and could tell waiters: “sin harina”, which means without flour. I was still conscious of how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates I was eating. I still made time to exercise – at least a little bit. I still had numerous low and high blood sugars to correct, and I was still packing medical supplies, gluten-free snacks, and glucose tablets.

At times I got frustrated. There were foods that I wanted to try but couldn’t. It would be nice to dis-attach from my insulin pump some times. To not freak out about getting tipped over on a sailing trip for fear that my pump will get wet, and that I’ll have to find a Medtronic supplier to replace my pump pronto. It would be nice to not have to eat glucose tablets while sitting in the middle of a plaza in the 18th century town of San Jose del Cabo waiting for my blood sugars to return to normal. Missing out on 15 to 20 minutes of art gallery hopping.

These parts of my life can be a nuisance, an annoyance, a frustration. I feel like I’m missing out. I’m left wanting.

And then there were other times, when I was staring out at the water for hours at a time, and my mind calmed down. And then I began thinking of how lucky I am. How grateful I am. How I live an incredibly abundant life.

And then I was able to truly unplug. And I was truly happy. Inside and out.

Feeling like a victim or like I’m missing out or wanting things that I hadn’t even thought about two seconds prior – are feelings of the ego. They are not the true me. They are the ego me.

We all have that ego side within us. The ego creates thoughts of either superiority or inferiority based on whatever circumstances are present at the time of that thought. In my mind, during those ego moments, I was inferior because I couldn’t eat a certain kind of food. I wanted something that I couldn’t have.

Our authentic selves, the truest expression of who we are, cannot possibly conjure up those kinds of thoughts. It’s impossible.

And the way to get there is through stillness. I find that I connect with my truest self best through meditation, art, writing, photography and yoga.

And in Los Cabos, I connected with my true self when staring at the water - connecting with nature - and that’s a great way to unplug.

I highly recommend it, and you don’t have to travel far to make it happen. Just find a spot of quiet solitude, preferably with nature – even a potted plant or flowers will do, and take some time to listen to your heart and your breath. And you’ll find your own little get-away. Your chance to unplug.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Balancing diabetes at work

The other morning, I was co-running a board meeting for the non-profit organization I work for, and while in the midst of introducing our guest speakers, I began to feel the pangs of a low blood sugar.

I pulled out my glucometer and held it under the table after I was finished speaking, pricked my finger, checked my sugar, and immediately reached for my handy glucose tablets when I saw the 48 reading on my monitor – all this while attempting to stay focused and sound remotely intelligent. Which is quite a tricky thing to do when going low.

As my sugar slowly climbed back up, I realized that I had a blog topic on my hands.

I typically don’t write about balancing work and diabetes here on this blog, mainly because I am afraid that whatever I write here will somehow affect my professional life. I wouldn’t want people to think I’m more or less capable of doing my job because I have diabetes. I focus on what others’ may think or say, rather than my main objective for writing this blog: Learning and sharing on how to thrive with diabetes and life’s challenges.

My strong feeling that I have a topic on my hands won this time – over the hypothetical voices of others. Living with diabetes is my reality, and I hope that whatever strengths, experience, and knowledge I bring to the workplace far outweigh the fact that I check my blood sugars and need to eat certain foods regularly. I believe I’ve been fortunate in that respect throughout my life, and rarely have I encountered people who have forced me to prioritize work over health.

Side note: I know that not every workplace is like that. The American Diabetes Association is a wonderful organization to turn to if you have encountered problems with diabetes and the workplace, such as discrimination, and need assistance.

And then those moments come along, like the one the other morning, where I’m in the middle of working, and I find myself trying to balance feeling the low blood sugar, taking care of it, and all while in the midst of something at work that demanded my full attention.

How do we diabetics do it? How do we diabetics balance work with our health needs?

I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that balancing diabetes at work is about setting healthy priorities and boundaries while demonstrating self-confident assertiveness. Not defensive assertiveness. Or “I’m the victim” assertiveness. Or passive aggressiveness. I’m talking about the type of assertiveness that comes from accepting that you have diabetes and not caring what others may think or say.

Because you care about you.

After years of not accepting my diabetes or thinking I did, but really not, I prioritized health over what others may think or say at that board meeting. I wasn’t embarrassed to pull out my glucometer and check my sugar while sitting with ten or fifteen other people around the table. I didn’t care if anyone noticed. I went ahead and checked. And thank God I did! Or else, my blood sugar may have gone even lower and could have resulted in a trip to the hospital.

And that’s not healthy. Physically or emotionally.

I spoke with one of the meeting participants afterwards and told her about my low. She looked incredibly concerned and told me she hadn’t even noticed. And that’s when I remembered that most people aren’t examining others in the way we may think they do. People tend to be focused on themselves or whatever they’re going through.

So why shouldn’t I be as well?

I’m so happy that I checked my sugar when I did. And I’m proud that I’ve prioritized me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy blog-iversary

I started blogging The Conscious Diabetic a little over a year ago on November 2, 2009. The experience of writing this blog has been incredibly rewarding and I am really excited to share about it with you.

Some bloggers share the amount of visits they’ve had on their blog-iversary (around 2,600), which has its importance. Why write if people aren’t reading? And I actually spent much of the first few months writing this blog very focused on that.

What I've found over the past year though is that I've gained much more than numbers of visitors. This blog has helped me live more consciously – as a diabetic and also as a human being living with diabetes. This has all happened because of you - the visitors. I've gotten to know and connect with many of you and deepened connections that already existed.

As a diabetic…

I went from a 6.8 A1C to a 6.4 over the past year, and I do believe that I have this blog in part to thank. Writing the blog has caused me to reflect on how I care for myself. I pay more attention to diabetic news, and I’m much more aware of what’s happening in the field. I also feel accountable – diabetically as well as consciously – to you. To be a positive voice on maximizing self-care.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet other bloggers, read their posts, and learn from them – my fellow bloggers in the on-line diabetic community. Bloggers such as Amy T of DiabetesMine, Kelly Kunik from Diabetiliciousness, Scott Johnson of Scott’s Diabetes Journal, Karen of Bittersweet, and Keri Sparling of Sixuntilme have shared their experiences, many times with humor, as well as relevant information, including reviews on new products, that have helped me grow as a conscious diabetic.

I also raised money, for the first time in my life, for the American Diabetes Association Step-Out walkathon. I fundraise for a living, working for a non-profit, but it had never dawned on me before I started blogging to raise money for diabetes. When I received information on the walk, I felt inspired and compelled to advocate for people living with diabetes. Together, we raised $500 for a very good cause, and I’m incredibly proud. Thank you!

As a human being with diabetes…

I have taken accepting my diabetes to a new level. This blog has inspired me, and sometimes forced me, to look at myself and the life I’m living as a lesson, as a way to grow, as a way to be more conscious. So that I have something to write, talk, and share about with you. I’ve gone to meditation and yoga centers, read books and articles, tried acupuncture, journaled, and done all sorts of stuff on the quest to becoming more aware of who I am and accepting what life has to offer. Taking the cards we’ve been dealt – and thriving in it.

I have also met many new people, re-connected with people I haven’t spoken to in a while, and developed deeper connections with those already in my life through this blog. The topics have inspired conversations, e-mails, and comments. It's meant a lot to me, and I hope it continues.

I have you to thank for all of this. You keep me writing, and so you keep me growing. I would not be driven to accomplish all of these things, to try and learn new conscious-inspiring things, if it wasn’t for you, the readers.

Happy blog-iversary to us!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tis the season to wear sweats, or not?

Halloween has ended; Thanksgiving’s on the way. The days are shorter, and the leaves are falling off trees. This is the time of year that I pull out my sweatpants and vegge out in front of the TV.

For the past month, my life has been about work, sleep, eating, and watching TV.

And I’ve felt that something is missing. I miss me.

The real me - the person who is active, goes out and about, meditates, gets creative, and loves to be around others and chat about anything under the sun. The summer “me” has gone into hibernation, and my bear-like self has been too busy eating potato chips on the couch to notice.

But I did notice last week. I noticed my lack of energy, lack of connection. The boredom.

So, I decided to try to re-connect with that old self of mine. Trying to see if I can figure out why I feel the need to take naps most of the day and drown myself in carbohydrates.

I meditated.

I listened to my whole body and also my heart. What I heard surprised me and also rang true. I heard that I’m suppressing the real me with all the sleep, TV, eating, etc.; I’m trying to fill a void rather than connecting with my authentic self.

That made and still makes complete sense.

The only way to change that is to turn off the TV. Be present. And when I go to reach for a snack, ask myself: What am I really hungry for?

I heard creativity. My authentic voice. Inspiration. I saw beautiful abstract art and myself on stage acting in a play. And I felt as though I had re-connected with myself even for an instant.

What I love about listening to my heart, our authentic selves, in meditation is that our true selves tell us exactly what we need to hear, within what we can manage and what serves us best. And that’s when I realized that I can get creative…wearing sweats or not. And that’s a beautiful thing this time of year when it’s cold outside!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Life is like a box of chocolates...

You never know what you’re gonna get.

I watched Forrest Gump last night for the first time in over ten years. That’s a movie worth re-watching.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie or would like a re-cap, Forrest - played by Tom Hanks - is a man raised in Alabama during the 1950s and 60s and not the smartest lot on the tree. He falls in love with his childhood friend Jenny. When the movie starts, he is sitting on a park bench – holding a box of chocolates – and waiting for a bus. He tells the story of his life to the strangers sitting next to him intertwined with Jenny’s story.

And their fortunes were very different. Forrest received fame, notoriety, and fortune as a football star, a Vietnam vet who received a Medal of Honor, a world-class star ping pong player, a shrimping boat captain, and long-distance runner – and it all happened out of just plain old dumb luck. And in my opinion, Forrest’s fortune can also be attributed to his knack for going with the flow and following his heart.

Jenny, on the other hand, suffered abuse as a child, became a drug addict, couldn’t hold onto a steady relationship, and eventually dies at a young age. Was her fortune in life simply different than Forrest's?

The great moral of this story – which I think holds a lot of value for diabetics and non-diabetics – is that life can’t be planned. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. And, the best way to move forward is to follow your heart and accept what comes.

“I don't know if we each have a destiny,” Forrest ponders at the end of the movie, “or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”

So many things in life come unexpectedly, things you didn’t plan for, things out of our control. And we really don't know what we’re gonna get.

We can plan and ponder every single little iota. And things may still go differently than expected. It's what you do when that happens that makes the difference.

I’m sure that most of us diabetics out there didn't expect or plan for our diagnosis. I’m sure we could all make a list a mile long of unexpected news in our life – whether with career, health, relationships, or home. People don’t plan for a tornado to hit their home. Or a deer to jump in front of their car. You never know when you are going to meet “the one” and fall madly in love. You also can’t plan for when a potential employer calls you up and offers you a job. I didn't plan to get Celiac or diabetes.

The question is: What do you do with that news once you get it or an event once it happens? How do you deal with it? Do you roll with the punches? Deal with the emotions? Resist? Accept?

This may sound strange, but I think we all have something to learn from Forrest Gump. I know I do. He took every moment for what it was. Accepted whatever came his way. Forrest followed his heart. He did what he thought was best for him and those he loved at each moment. He may not have been the smartest, but he sure knew how to live life.

Eating each piece of chocolate, one bite at a time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In honor of Halloween: Diabetes, the story of a serial killer

I had a crazy dream last night, which by some might be construed as a nightmare, but by others, quite comical.

I was at home, in the kitchen actually, and I saw a grungy looking man sitting in a chair across from me. The man stared at me, looked at me funny, and then pulled out a knife from his pocket.

And then he threw the knife at me.

I suddenly realized that I was sitting across from a knife-wielding killer, who was pretty slow on the take and not very good at throwing because he missed. And he wasn’t so far away from me.

So I looked for a knife as well and threw one back at him. But I missed. So we simply sat there, quite lazy for two people trying to kill each other, and just threw knives at one another.

The killer eventually got up off of his chair and headed toward me. I realized that I could take out my trusty insulin pen (which by the way, I haven’t used a pen in over five years) and I started dialing up and injecting insulin into the killer’s arm.

But I could only dial up 10 units at a time. So I kept dialing up and injecting, dialing up and injecting, dialing up and injecting.

Until the killer fell into an insulin coma lying still on a reclining chair near the kitchen. He didn’t die though.

I woke up. It was 5 am. And like a well-educated diabetic with over 35 years of experience, knowing that a dream like this meant there may be blood sugar trouble lurking, the first thing I did was check my sugar. 175. I bolused a correction and fell back to sleep.

Alright, so yeah, some of you may be laughing. Some may think I’m weird. Some may be wondering why I would share this with all of you.

This comical nightmare, I believe, is actually a metaphor for the life of a diabetic. My subconscious knows that insulin protects me from harm. That insulin saves me. It keeps me alive. It protects me from the slow, silent knife-wielding killer that is high blood sugars.

The silent killer is slow but persistent just as the streams of high blood sugar are that flow through a diabetic’s body. Pounding away at our bodies, causing immediate and long-term consequences like blindness, kidney failure, heart problems, and so on.

And the only way to protect ourselves – is through insulin.

Perhaps related to my having the insulin dream last night, I read in the October 2010 edition of Diabetes Forecast yesterday that The New York Historical Society is capturing the story of the discovery of insulin in an exhibition that began on October 5, 2010 and will continue through to January 31, 2011.

A diabetic’s fight for life, the struggle with the silent killer, has changed dramatically with the discovery of insulin in 1921. I’m simplifying, but before the discovery of insulin, doctors did not know how to treat diabetes. Patients were often placed on starvation diets with the hope that they would live a few years longer.

I urge us all to be thankful for the discovery of insulin, to put those injections and finger pricks into perspective. Diabetics today, with the proper care, can live long, fulfilling, and beautiful lives.

I believe that my dream is telling me to wake up, check my sugar, and be thankful that I can bolus a correction for a 175 sugar. And to take the time to learn about the past, and put into perspective how far we’ve come. Thank you, insulin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Daily practice - a struggling artist's approach to diabetes management

Step Out to Stop Diabetes!

Hello everyone! You may have read on September 20 that I am participating in the American Diabetes Association’s Step Out to Stop Diabetes walk-a-thon on October 24 in Princeton, New Jersey.

Thank you so much for all of the donations that we have already received! Two weeks into fundraising, and I am thrilled to report that I am 57% of the way toward reaching my goal of raising $500 for the education, research, and advocacy programs that the ADA provides to help fight diabetes.

There is still time to help me reach my goal! Please click here to visit my personal step-out page, read all about why I’m participating, and become a sponsor.

Now onto today's blog post...
Daily practice - a struggling artist's approach to diabetes management

I’ve always been told that I have an artist’s soul, a good eye, a natural talent.

Fun to me is going to art museums, mixing paint colors, going eye shopping, and seeing what designers of all kinds create. I took art classes in grade school, high school, college, and in-between. But I never really did anything with this natural gift of mine, never developed it, or put it into practice. I just let it lie dormant while wishing I would do something with it.

Why? Frustration. For whatever reason, when I sit behind a piece of canvas, palette and brush in hand, I expect that I should be able to create the next spiritual awakening piece like the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo or a pop work of art with incredible depth and meaning like Andy Warhol.

I don’t though. Instead, I fuss around a bit and get frustrated very quickly. Not realizing that art, or anything for that matter that you want to be good at, takes a lot of hard work and practice. Daily practice.

This all became incredibly clear to me after taking a painting class at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art five or six years ago.

I remember the first day of class - 20 people sitting next to their individual canvasses while the instructor showed us slides with examples on how to examine shades of light while drawing a still life.

We were instructed to use charcoals and do the same at our spaces. I was engrossed in my piece of work at first. Observing the shades before me and drawing it as I interpreted it (which really annoyed all of my instructors). I remember thinking to myself that I knew I wasn’t creating a masterpiece, or even anything that I could take home. But I just wasn’t feeling it. I was too busy feeling bad about myself and what I was trying to do. I began looking over next to me, seeing what others were creating, and all that I saw was how my piece didn’t measure up to everybody else’s.

The next week, we were to copy photographs in charcoal. I drew a Middle Eastern man and woman standing in front of a desert mountain, and I have to say that as I was developing it, I thought the piece wasn’t so bad.

Then the teacher walked over to me. She told me that although it was good, and she didn’t want to stop me, I wasn’t doing what she had in mind for the class. I looked over to my right and left, and noticed that others were again creating masterpieces. And I was unable to return to the piece in the same way. I was too busy judging – myself. And also trying to figure out what she wanted. (Not to make excuses, but the whole class was in Hebrew. My language skills didn't include art terms. So that may have been part of the problem.)

I threw away a lot of pieces after that class. Never quite found my groove again.

So I bolted. I decided to stop going to the class. And I haven’t taken an art class since. I have sat at home and drawn a bit. I even found my paints the other day while cleaning out some boxes.

Okay, I know what you are saying, “Ophir, just try it. Go for it! Pick up a paint brush! Just have some fun! It’ll be good for you. Michelangelo did not create the Sistine Chapel right out of art school, nor did Michael Phelps win a gold medal his first time in the pool, nor did Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg win Oscars with their first movies.”

Okay, I get it. I need to simply enjoy what I naturally love doing – for the fun of it. But to be really good at something, you need to practice. Daily. Like with anything in life worth doing. You have to be committed to practicing daily, learning from your mistakes, and being present through each moment.

I haven’t quite gotten there yet - with art. But I want to. I really do.

So I bet you are wondering why I chose this for my blog topic if I haven’t reached my goal yet. If I don’t have some valuable insight on how I did it, or some grand inspiration on how I became an artist despite the critics.

Well, here it is. I believe that my relationship with art, the lessons I’ve learned through it, are also lessons that apply to other things in life. Anything worth doing takes daily practice and hard work – and the desire, the will, to do it. Anything in life - including diabetes management.

Achieving a 6.4 A1C was a grand achievement for me. And I only just reached it after having diabetes for over 35 years. It took a lot of ups and downs – both literally and figuratively. A lot of hard work. And a lot of practice. Daily practice.

But you see, the thing is, I have the desire, the will, the commitment to doing it. I made a decision a long time ago that proper diabetes care is a part of my life for as long as necessary.

Perhaps those diabetic lessons - of commitment, practice, and hard work - will inspire me take it all the way with art too!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Two topics: My newest story – a 6.4 A1C and Step out to stop diabetes!

Step Out to Stop Diabetes!

Hello everyone! As written in last week’s blog, I am participating in the American Diabetes Association’s Step Out to Stop Diabetes walk-a-thon on October 24 in Princeton, New Jersey.

Thank you so much for all of the donations that we have already received! Only a week into fundraising, and I am thrilled to report that I am 32% of the way toward reaching my goal of raising $500 for the education, research, and advocacy programs that the ADA provides to help fight diabetes.

There is still time to help me reach my goal! Please click here to visit my personal step-out page, read all about why I’m participating, and become a sponsor.

Topic #2: My newest story – a 6.4 A1C

I was convinced that I had a 6.7 A1C, which in Type 1 diabetes world is pretty darn good. But I wanted the 6.5 that I had achieved back in April.

All diabetics get A1C tests, as well as oodles of other blood work, to see how well we are managing our diabetes. I get mine done once every three months.

I have not been the perfect diabetic lately. I’ve been so busy! So stressed! Running from appointment to appointment. I had minor surgery on two of my fingers almost eight weeks ago. I haven’t been exercising as I normally do. Okay, I admit it. I’ve gained a few pounds over the last two months. And yes, I’ve been sneaking snacks of low-fat ice cream and full-fat potato chips loaded with yummy salt and oozing comfort. I was thinking about those 200 BG’s I’d corrected for, and those morning highs. Most of all, I was dreading the strict lecture I convinced myself I would receive from Dr. W about tighter control over my blood sugars.

I would be lucky if it was a 6.7. And I was beating myself up for it. I had achieved so much by reaching that 6.5. And I let it slip away.

I went to Dr. W this morning for my quarterly appointment. I asked the receptionist for copies of the lab results as soon as I stepped through the door. I thought about the records I had compiled of my eating, exercising, and bolusing for the appointment. And I regretted doing it already. They would show Dr. W. exactly what a bad girl I’ve been. He’d have the proof right in front of him.

Judge and jury pronounce me as guilty. Lock me up and throw away the key.

The receptionist handed me the white pages filled with courier style blank ink. I’ve skimmed these a million times. In range. Out of range. Kidney function and cholesterol – which are all perfectly fantastic by the way. Something to still be proud of – since they weren't always that way. A bit anemic. Yes, I knew that.

And there it was, what I least expected. A1C – 6.4!

I was so surprised! How did that happen? And then I had a BIG realization sitting there in the waiting room smiling from ear to ear.

I realized that I had created a story, a very self-damaging one actually. Leading up to today, I was beating myself up for being the “worst” diabetic ever. I thought I hadn’t been managing my diabetes as I know I can or should. In my mind, I wasn’t living up to some pretty high expectations I have of myself. I had been telling myself that I let my health go.

And I really hadn’t. It was all in my head. The proof was right in front of me. Facts don’t lie.

And so I realized that I had to change my story. We all create the stories of our lives. Our realities. And I had the opportunity – right now, in this instant – to change one that wasn’t serving me.

I re-assessed. I do check my blood sugars regularly and adjust my insulin accordingly. I keep track of my eating, exercise, and sugars as much as possible. I exercise most of the time, eat healthy more often than not, and still meditate and journal to keep my stress levels as low as possible. Okay, so fine, I cheated here and there, but clearly, that’s okay if it’s within reason. All of the things I mentioned in April’s blog about reaching a 6.5 A1C. None of that had changed. Just the story I had created in my head.

And then I started thinking about all of the other stories I’ve created. The stories with the same moral: “Whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough.” You know the ones. Whether related to weight, hair, skin, or other non-body topics like stuff to do around the house, finances, and so on. There are lots of self-damaging stories that people create, like, “If I had more, then I will finally feel accepted.” “Would people accept me if I had less?”

I do love a good story. I suppose that’s what keeps me blogging. But some stories are just downright awful. And it’s up to me – up to us – to gauge when a story is true – and when it’s just a piece of fiction that’s better off in the trash.

I chose today to throw my tragic-fiction away. And I’ve created a new story for myself. I call it the “I take great care of my health” epic novel. Because with this positive attitude toward health, I expect it to last a while!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Step out to stop diabetes!

Dear family, friends, and d-community members,

I am walking and raising funds for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) annual fundraising walk: Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes on Sunday, October 24 in Princeton, New Jersey. Every step I take and every dollar I raise will help improve the lives of the 23.6 million Americans living with diabetes.

Please click here now to go to my personal step-out page, and sponsor me as I raise money to help people affected by this disease.

Why I believe in this cause

I have had Type 1 diabetes for over 35 years, since the age of 3. Growing up with diabetes has had its challenges - from the daily grind of managing blood sugars to long-term physical and emotional complications. I feel lucky that I have always had the proper healthcare and education to live with this disease in the best way I can.

But as an invisible chronic disease - a silent killer - most people are unaware of the complications involved in living and thriving with this disease - until it's too late. This can change.

Organizations like the ADA have made living with diabetes much easier. The ADA supports critical research to finding a cure, education through community programs, and advocacy that protect the rights of people living with the disease. ADA's work has made a huge difference in making my life better, as I'm sure it has for millions of others, and can for millions more.

Why Help Stop Diabetes?

Although life with diabetes has improved with the help of the ADA, there is much more to be done!

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors appear to play roles. Diabetes is a disease that is outpacing heart disease, cancer and AIDS in terms of amounts of people affected. Diabetes is a disease that has deadly serious consequences, and there is no cure.

When you walk, you help Stop Diabetes.

I love walking, and it is also one of the easiest, most relaxing forms of exercise for many people, but especially for those living with diabetes. Walking helps control blood glucose levels in people with diabetes and improves overall quality of life. It is also an activity that can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people at risk.

You can walk almost anywhere at any time. And walking can give you more energy and help relieve stress.

And walking for the cause helps raise funds for the mission of the American Diabetes Association: to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

Please give what you feel comfortable giving.

I am asking you to make a donation to my fundraising efforts - that you feel comfortable with. Every dollar does make a difference. I have set a fundraising goal of $500, but I'm comfortable with raising any amount - as long as it goes to helping people in need. Please know that I am grateful for your support.

I hope you have a great day. Warm wishes, Ophir

Monday, September 6, 2010


Money stresses me out. Okay, there, I admit it.

Yeah, and who isn’t stressed about money? Monks living on top of a mountain? Even they need to eat, right?

This recession has forced me, and many of us, to re-examine our relationship with money. But to be totally honest, I’ve always had a confused relationship with the topic.

Sometimes I’m a budget conscious restrictor, and other times, I’m a spendthrift permitter. I’ll go on a shopping binge or spend tons of money on eating out because at that moment I just want to have fun. And then I’ll feel guilt and self-loathing for spending carelessly during a tough recession the week after, tightening my belt and shutting off lights after people (okay, I don’t feel bad about that). And then I’ll spend carelessly again.

Money seems equal to living life to the fullest in my world – some of the time. You need money to travel, go to the Opera (not that I do that), buy clothes, eat out at fine restaurants, live in a furnished home (only some of the rooms in ours are), and so on…

I started looking at this topic around five years ago as a place of self-growth potential, and I’ve contemplated my relationship with money even more this past year. I already know the source, the messages I have heard and adopted as my own. I already examined what prosperity really means to me. I know that the key to prosperity is to create your own inner prosperous vibe – which you can do through gratitude. I also know that the stress doesn’t serve me. It affects my health and well-being.

And yet the pattern continues. So this morning, I meditated and wrote in my journal, a habit that I am formalizing as a part of my daily routine. And I’d like to share what I found to be an enlightening moment with all of you.

I read an article a few months ago, “10 Practical Ways to Increase Your Abundance” by Robert Holden. I tackled exercise #3, “Money: I have a healthy relationship to money.” The exercise tells us to list 10 things that are priceless that money can’t buy. I came up with 15. Here they are:

• Love
• A sense of well-being
• Balance
• A healthy attitude
• Peace
• Security and safety
• Gratitude
• Connection to spirit
• Natural beauty
• Happiness
• Nature
• Connection to my authentic self
• Prosperity and abundance
• A smile
• A compelling story!

I think that most of us know these things logically, but I know that I can lose sight of them when going through the day-to-day motions of life. I’m sure many of us do. When an unexpected bill arrives, or when there are challenges at the workplace, or when I really want to go on that trip or buy something for the house. Thinking of how rich I am with happiness is not the foremost thing on my mind.

But taking the time to journal or meditate, writing lists like the one above, helps me remember that I’m already rich.

Want to help me add to the list? Send me your thoughts on things that are priceless that don’t cost a dime!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The art of relaxation - animal style

You may have noticed from my last few blogs that I’m searching for balance, seeking a way to streamline my life, trying to turn negative into positive, and find a way to savor those wonderful moments of freedom.

So, I went to my parents who live by the Jersey shore for the weekend. I was there for family reasons, but also to unwind, relax, and do nothing. De-stress. I spent the weekend going for walks on the boardwalk, reading on the couch for hours, taking naps, and sitting around and talking with family.

I had a relaxing weekend. But I was already feeling down again this morning. So what did a relaxing weekend fix?

Just in the nick of time, I bought Oprah magazine this month, in which life coach Martha Beck approaches the topic in a new way in The Secret to Surviving Life's Low Points.

We all go through ups and downs, she says, the ebbs and flows of life.

Humans are not alone in this adventure though; animals go through ebbs and flows too. The difference between them and us (well besides the obvious) is that when an animal goes through an ebb, they stretch out their paws and rest. Have you ever watched a lion, a cat, or a dog when they are resting? They literally do nothing, all while being present. Examining and listening to their surroundings, stretching their bodies like a good yoga work-out, and napping in between.

They’re meditating.

And then when they wake up out of their funk, they’re ready to play, eat, go for a walk, and have a jolly good time until the next ebb comes again.

We humans feel the need to fix our ebbs, make them better, turn them into something positive, pushing away and suppressing our downs and forcing them to be something they’re not. We tend not to stretch out our paws. Instead, we do other things – positive things that will uplift our spirits, “fix” the problem, make lemonade out of lemons.

Martha Beck advises us to just accept that lemons are a part of life just as lemonade is. The ebbs – just as the flows - are natural. And they’re telling us something.

The issue is that many of us are afraid of the ebbs, Beck points out. A downturn in our lives may be the precursor to impending doom. Facing the fear is the next step, she advises. Turn the fear into appreciation. It is scientifically impossible for fear and appreciation to exist at the same time.

But the real lesson in all of this, after accepting that downs happen and appreciating our lives is to hear the message. Ebbs are telling us loud and clear to REST.

She means really rest. Do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Like a lion or a bear. Meditate. Just be. Observe your surroundings without judgment. Listen to the sounds. Focus on your breath. Your heart beat. Get in touch with your inner feelings, the sensations in your body, and find the places in your body where rest and relaxation reside. Become attuned to them. Empty your head.

Watching TV, reading a book, and hanging out with friends is not doing nothing. It may seem like nothing because you are not “getting things done”. Those kinds of activities, although may be fun, are really a camouflage. Suppressing whatever is really going on, and perpetuating the ebb so that it resurfaces in another form later.

After a great weekend, I had a mini-ebb this morning. The problems that caused the initial big ebb hadn’t gone away. They were merely suppressed for a few hours.

So I listened to Martha, and I meditated outside. I listened to my breath, to the birds chirping, and looked at the most incredible view of a white moon sitting in the midst of a bright blue sky. I stretched my arms and rolled my shoulders.

I wasn’t seeking to “fix the problem” or get things done or even turn my frown upside down. And what I wound up feeling was pure bliss. I also discovered the root of what’s been eating at me.

Next time I feel down, the first thing I’m going to do – is nothing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In search of balance

I’ve been feeling stretched too thin lately, overcommitted, in need of balance and rest. Errands, the house, work, freelance projects, finances. And as diabetics know, health is a full-time job. Doctors, diabetic rituals, record keeping. And when I’m zonked from a full day, I top it off with a few hours of television. I don’t consider this to be a good remedy. And so I’ve been wondering: Is this really what life is all about?

I just want to rest and when I’m not doing that, I want to have some fun. I want life to be about living it to the fullest – not tracking my carbohydrates and basal rates. Be with friends and family. Discover new places. Learn new things.

So yesterday, I took a break. I went with a friend to see Eat Pray Love, the movie based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert where she goes for a yearlong journey in search of herself. She spends the first four months of her year in Italy indulging in pasta and pizza. She simply wants to enjoy life’s pleasures. Then, she spends the next four months in an ashram in India praying, living an austere life, meditating every morning, and dealing emotionally and spiritually with the hardships she had faced in the past. She wraps up her year in Bali. This is where she learns how to balance spirit and pleasure through the teachings of Ketut, the medicine man, and falls in love with a Brazilian ex-pat living in Bali.

She finds herself at the end of the year - through balancing her spiritual self with her life in the outside world.

My friend and I just had to sit afterwards to discuss. We were disappointed in the Hollywood-ness of the movie itself, but the story of Eat Pray Love, no matter how it’s told, drives home the point. Living a life from your true essence and finding balance. How can I translate it into my everyday life?

I told my friend about how I’d been feeling overwhelmed lately, like I don’t have time for myself. I have been feeling stuck in a rut, as though I’m chained to my mortgage, my to-do lists – my life.

And that’s when she gave me the best piece of advice I’ve heard in a long time. We all have little moments of freedom in our lives. Bring attention to those moments of freedom, she said, and savor them.

Since her words of advice, I have noticed that I do have quite a lot of freedom in my life. I noticed the peace and quiet I was feeling this morning as I drank a cup of tea. I didn’t turn on the TV as I normally do. I sat and ate breakfast in complete silence. I also savored the walk and pilates work-out I did this morning – just for me. And then, when I moved onto a freelance project - aka work - I found myself in the zone, totally flowing. I felt free.

I believe life flows better when we don’t feel trapped. This week’s conscious thought: Trapped, overwhelmed, and stuck are all feelings we choose.

Today, I chose freedom. I took the time to savor those moments of freedom, and then I found that the rest just fell into place.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Short and sweet

Not much time for blogging today. Had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, spent the afternoon writing an article for a print newspaper as a freelancer, and meeting an old friend in an hour at her hotel thirty minutes from here. And I can hear thunderstorms off in the distance as I write.

Okay, so why should you care about my to-do list? I’ll tell you.

I set my intentions for the day early this morning: I can do it. I can get done everything I need/want to get done. And blogging is a part of that list.

And so here I am, fulfilling my wish to write.

When you set your mind to it, with positive intentions, believing in yourself, you can achieve just about anything.

Now off to the Courtyard Marriott!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Releasing the trigger finger

A special thanks to my husband Lior for helping me with typing this entry.

I read a book called The Secret not long ago in which author Rhonda Byrne describes the law of attraction. To summarize, the law of attraction tells us that whatever thoughts, feelings or statements we put into the universe come back to us, almost like placing an order with the big catalog in the sky.

While I was reading the book, I encountered little bouts with the law of attraction everywhere I went – at the supermarket, in the car and even in relationships with others. If I was thinking positive thoughts, those thoughts would return to me. And negative thoughts, brought on more negativity.

Of course as time has gone by, the lessons of the law of attraction went back into the cobwebs of my mind. And I’ve been feeling like I’m in a bit of a funky, slumpy place lately. Stuck in a swamp.

Metaphorically, I’ve also been suffering from trigger finger in my right hand up until a few days ago when I had surgery to release the trigger. In layman’s terms, trigger finger is caused by inflammation near the finger’s tendon, making it almost impossible to bend the affected finger. It’s also painful. Basically, you fingers get stuck, and you can’t bend them. I’ve had the surgery five times before. An orthopedist cuts the tendon, releasing the trigger, and fingers return to normal after about two months of physical therapy.

I know the routine and I also know how my hand surgeon Dr. S operates – both literally and figuratively. Everything was going to be pretty much the same except for one thing: This time, I was getting local anesthesia instead of general.

A few days before the surgery, I told Dr. S during an appointment that despite knowing the routine, he can feel rest assured that I would be freaking out.

Dr. S consoled me, “We’ll talk you through it. We’ll even let you choose which radio station you want to listen to.”

I made a mental note, but was still nervous of course.

The surgery was three days later. Lior drove. On the way, I began to think about which radio station I would choose.

“It’s between 95.7 and 106.1,” both are pop rock and dance hit stations, “Well, I am okay with anything but country.”

I made it to the surgery. Waited my turn. The nurses prepped me. After taking my vitals, the OR nurses escorted me to the surgery room. I got up on the table and as I lay down ready to stretch out my arms, I heard it – COUNTRY.

The doctor came in. The nurses were busy placing an incredibly tight tourniquet on my right arm, which is supposed to stop the flow of blood to the arm. And then Dr. S shot my hand with Novocain. Boy did it hurt.

And as I lay there wincing from the pain, feeling the pressure of their surgical movements on my right hand, Dr. S turned to me and said, “Are you a country music fan?”

“Absolutely not, no way,” I exclaimed, “Is someone here a fan?”

“Actually, none of us are. We’d been listening to classical all day. And I don’t know why, but we switched it not too long ago.” Dr. S sounded amazed, as though they had been possessed to change the station by some supernatural power.

Dr. S kept chatting, calming me down, segueing to country line dancing and how he was sure I’d come from Texas and wore a belt buckle. Mind you, this is funny as my name is so Middle Eastern (Israeli actually), and I live in New Jersey.

He did all this while he released the trigger, checked to see if my hand was working, and sewed me up. The nurses removed the tourniquet. With bandage and pain prescriptions in hand, Lior drove us home for a long weekend of my arm propped up on a pillow. No complaints, I’m feeling fine.

The law of attraction ah ha moment came that evening as I told Lior the story of the surgery. Country music. The one genre I had mentioned in the car ride down. The one I didn’t want. And the Universe delivered.

You see, according to The Secret, the Universe doesn’t understand the words: don’t, doesn’t, or didn’t. The Universe understands the vibration of the energy you put out. For example, if you say, “I don’t want a million dollars,” The Universe hears, “I want a million dollars.” (Yes, I’m sending positive energy even as I write.)

If you think thoughts of frustration, anger, loneliness, or fear, then your life will be guided by those principles. But if you think thoughts of abundance, peace, confidence, and love, then that’s the life you will be living.

My trigger finger is released, and I believe that the Universe was also sending a message, telling me how to get unstuck. Through country music, no less. A reminder that what we put out into the Universe is what we receive in return.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Forbidden fruit

When I first learned that I have celiac, an allergy to wheat, rye, and barley, all I could think about were all of the croissants that I would never have again.

In all honesty, I hadn’t even eaten croissants all that often. So it’s not like I was really missing something that I was accustomed to eating all the time. I wasn’t upset about bread or pasta or even cookies for that matter, which I would eat much more often. I was upset about croissants.

Why? The croissant, for me, is really more about a memory. Croissants remind me of the days when I traveled around Europe and lived abroad, back in my 20s and early 30s. I would stop each morning in unique, little coffee shops, filled with lots of character, and have a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, an aromatic café au lait, and a luscious, buttery croissant.

Croissants take me back to the days when I allowed myself to do whatever and whenever I wanted. I felt free and adventurous, avant-garde and oh so European.

The croissant was more about the feeling it inspired in me, the person I wanted to be.

I may very well have enjoyed those moments tremendously. But I can almost guarantee you, without documented proof, that afterward, my sugars either soared or went low or a combination of both. I’m pretty sure that an hour later, knowing what I know now, I must have stopped on some park or art museum bench and shoveled down sugar packets.

Back in the days of croissant eating, I can also almost guarantee you, without documented proof, that I was actually stressed out about something – whether work, relationships, money, or health. I knew that croissants were going to wreak havoc on my blood sugars, and I ate them anyway. And when I ate that croissant, it symbolized a moment of pure pleasure, an escape from what was really getting me down.

I used the croissant to suppress feelings. Instead of allowing my feelings to be, I stuffed them with sugary, high fat carbohydrates.

When I was first diagnosed with celiac, the thought of a buttery croissant was the first thing that came to mind, what I would miss, what I longed for. But the croissant was really a longing for what I deemed as carefree days.

The croissant became, yet again, a way to suppress what was really going on.

And in the days of celiac, the croissant began to symbolize something new. The memory of my croissant became yet another thing restricting my life. Another thing to analyze, weigh, and dissect. Another thing that I can’t have. I wanted to taste the forbidden fruit. Because doesn’t life seem so much better on the other side?

Not eating the croissant became about control. Restriction.

When you truly allow yourself to have whatever you want, you find that you may not even necessarily want it, Geneen Roth says in Women, Food, and God, the book I’m still currently engrossed in.

Geneen Roth uses the example of chocolate cake, rather than croissants, to explain her reasoning.

She says that it’s like when you really want a piece of chocolate cake, and all you can think about is that piece of chocolate cake. And then you get yourself a piece. And you have a bite. That first bite tastes so good. The soft, moist, chocolaty flavor. Even the second bite tastes good, but a little less. And then, by the third bite, the chocolate cake kind of loses its excitement, and by the fourth, you’ve forgotten about it entirely and your mind drifts off to something else entirely. And by the time you're done, you've eaten an entire cake, while only really enjoying one or two bites of it.

Geneen advises people – who are seeking a healthy relationship with food, and therefore with themselves – to give in to their cravings. BUT with a few caveats which she calls her seven eating guidelines; to summarize, eat only when your body is hungry, and stop when you are satisfied. So basically what she is saying is that if that chocolate cake isn’t satisfying by the third or fourth bite, then stop eating it.

Okay, that’s great, Geneen, but I can’t allow myself to have what I really want. High fat, high carb, glutinous foods wreak havoc on my body. So what do you say to a person like me?

Geneen says that whenever you eat, and you aren’t really hungry, the food is really about something else. Which I have demonstrated through my own relationship with my lovely croissants.

Here’s what’s totally amazing: Once I became aware of what a croissant really means for me, and since I have learned to accept that I have celiac, my palate has changed. I’ve become a more creative eater. I’ve discovered new foods. I’ve become more of that adventurous, avant-garde person I was searching for back in my 20s than I ever was when I was eating a croissant. And I’ve actually stopped craving croissants entirely. I’ve stopped craving a whole lot of foods that were never that good for me.

And since I’ve begun paying attention to my body's real cravings, and eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m satisfied, I have also found that I crave foods like salad with lemon juice and olive oil, dates, quinoa, grilled fish, and nuts. My body naturally craves healthy foods most of the time. And yes, sometimes my body craves chocolate. But when I'm eating it, I usually find that one bite is more than enough to satisfy the craving.

Our bodies are seriously smart. And once you take the forbidden out of the fruit, accept what you have, and practice awareness, you find that your body craves what’s good for you and what your body needs.

So now I ask: What are you really hungry for?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bring the funk

I woke up in a funk today. Just not feeling it. My body is sore from working out this morning. I’m feeling stressed. What will be? Impatience. To-do lists. Crazy busy-ness. Wanting things to be different than what they are. Inspiration? You’ve got to be kidding me.

These days happen. To all of us. They just do.

So, I pulled out my happiness toolbox of tricks before writing this blog and dove in grudgingly: Breath work, meditation, exercise, yoga, inspirational articles that others have written, trying to get in tune with my body and what feelings I may be suppressing.

These are all fantastic tools. But they weren’t working. I was thinking too much. Trying too hard to be happy and Zen. Too in mired by my funk.

And then Lior came upstairs, took one look at me sitting in misery as though the end of the world was already on its way, and he started singing, “Shake, shake, shake…shake, shake, shake your booty.”

He suggested that I sing along and maybe even try dancing around a bit. I watched as he began to literally shake his booty, and although still miserable, resisting the smile that so desperately wanted to purge, I decided to stand up and join him.

“Shake, shake, shake…shake, shake, shake…shake your booty,” he sang, and I danced. And there it was, I did it. I smiled. And there’s no turning back now. The funk had turned into funk.

A fun song. A little bit of dancing. And a whole lot of being silly. Inspired happiness for me this morning.

But really and truly, the music, singing, or dancing isn’t what made me happy. My happiness isn’t dependent upon my husband either. Nor does happiness come from money, a perfect blood sugar reading, or that fancy new house or car I’d like to buy.

Today is a reminder: All of those things come and go; they’re temporary. So why would anyone choose to base their happiness - or even sadness or anger for that matter - on things that will change?

Happiness, as with all of our feelings - sadness, anger, frustration and so on, comes from within. Once we’re aware of those feelings, and accept them, allow them to breathe, our true, authentic nature emanates. And sadness or anger transforms into joy. And then once you allow yourself to feel enjoyment, enthusiasm evolves, and before you know it, you’re inspired.

So my lesson for today is to bring the funk because those moments when I’m down and out remind me how to really live. Because what goes down, must go up.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thriving with diabetes

Hello everyone,

I wrote the following post as a guest blogger for Kelly Kunik from Diabetesaliciousness™ which she will post later this week. In addition to blogging, Kelly advocates for diabetics at conferences throughout the year and speaks with children with diabetes about living with the disease. Please visit Kelly's blog this week to show your support.

Thank you, Ophir

I woke up with a 234 blood sugar reading today. I know why. My husband and I went out to dinner last night, a spontaneous date inspired more by laziness than romance. We sat and ordered our meal: For me, gluten-free Singapore rice noodles with chicken and veggies at P.F. Chang’s. I bolused insulin to compensate for the meal. But not a long-acting dual wave bolus, as the little voice inside of me told me to do.

A nice long dual wave filled with lustrous Humalog probably would have done the trick of offsetting the sugars released in a fatty meal. But I didn’t do that. I thought about it. But when the time came, when the opportunity arose, I didn’t hit those extra buttons on my insulin pump.

I have been a Type 1 diabetic for over 35 years, have been to tons of doctors, nurses, and diabetes educators, and I keep up with all of the latest and greatest technologies and studies. And so, a high that results from a “I knew better” can be a bit exacerbating. I do know better. And typically after a “I know better” high blood sugar, I feel guilty.

Not today though, and I’ll tell you why: I’ve chosen to focus on self-growth instead of on what I did or didn’t do. I’m going to figure out why I didn’t set a dual wave when I know I should. What happened in that subconscious instant when I made that choice not to do what’s best for me and my health?

I remember at the time, I was feeling hot, tired, anxious from a long week of work, and I just wanted to let go of all the stress. Drink a glass of wine, eat some yummy noodles, and enjoy being out and about. I wanted to enjoy the moment and be happy.

But is that real happiness? Does having a great time mean not taking care of blood sugars? All I’m really doing is hurting myself. A moment of pleasure followed by hours of blood sugar highs and lows – and emotional ones as well.

I found some enlightenment. While reading Women, Food, and God in which author Geneen Roth talks about the perils of weight loss, going on diets, and never really reaching that state of pure bliss with one’s body. She explains that many of us go through life setting a goal, such as losing 10 or 20 pounds, but not allowing ourselves to ever reach it. Let me say that again: Not allowing ourselves to ever reach it.

Boy, did I ever relate to that. I’ve wanted to lose those 10 or 20 pounds since freshman year in college, and not to give too much away, but that’s been a while. And then she says it, the line that got me: Because without that goal, we’d be lost. Reaching that goal has becomes our identity.

I realized that her statement not only applies to weight loss, but it applies to all goals in life. It can apply to reaching that perfect weight and also that perfect 6.5 A1C or blood sugar reading – or how about projects around the house, creative pursuits, education and career, love, and so on.

And as Roth says, we tell ourselves that once we reach that goal, our lives will be better. We’ll be happy. I’ll be happy.

This seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Because then, when it comes time to really making it happen, that moment of truth, I didn’t set that dual wave bolus so that my sugars will turn out great. I didn’t order the steamed veggie platter. Nor did I exercise for an hour afterward. Because perhaps a part of me thinks that if I reach my goals, well then what will I do with my life? Who will I be? I’ll feel lost, alone, without a purpose. And all I really want is to be happy.

Geneen Roth explains: That person aiming for those goals, the person who will only be happy once reaching them, was never who I really am, who any of us are. The real goal, the way to live life to the fullest and thrive with diabetes, is to live life as our authentic selves through being – where you live each moment as it is - whether you are happy or sad, angry or hurt, or inspired.

According to Roth, many of us try to push away what we are really feeling and sensing because we are so focused on being “happy”. Fixing the problems. Many of us, including myself, suppress our feelings through food. But by being with whatever we are feeling, whether it be good or bad, we can live more fully and more authentically – and in essence, it makes us even happier. Because we are being our true selves.

You can bring those moments of being into as many moments of the day as possible. Feeling, sensing, tasting, smelling, touching, and listening to wherever you are physically and emotionally at every moment of every day.

Last night, I heard that soft, little voice telling me to set a dual wave bolus, but I didn’t act because that voice was drowned by the noise of my ranting thoughts. Trying to think of how I could be happier, instead of just being.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Crazy connections

I took some time off last week to relax and simply enjoy summer. I went down to my parents' home at the Jersey shore for a few days, went for walks, read good books, and got together with old and new friends - among whom was my very first fellow d-blogger meeting.

The d-blogger meeting happened kind of by chance. Here's the story: I re-connected with a friend of mine who I haven't seen in ten or fifteen years through Facebook this year. Okay, so far no biggie. All of us Facebookers have re-connected with long lost friends and acquaintances in the past year.

Well, this particular friend just so happens to also be friends with fellow d-blogger and Type 1 diabetic Kelly Kunik of Diabetesaliciousness™.

Okay, you may still be staying: Small world, crazy coincidence. Whatever.

But here's the wow factor: It turns out that Kelly and I grew up in the same, small town by the Jersey shore. We didn't know who the other was because we went to different schools.

And as Kelly said so eloquently at our meeting just this past Thursday night: It took a common friend (who by the way grew up in Philadelphia - not even our Jersey shore town) - and d-blogging - for two girls from the same home town to meet.

Kelly and I had a great time talking about diabetes and blogging, but we also talked about our other bond - our hometown. A great connection had been made.

You may still think that this is a coincidence, but I can't help but use this story as unscientific proof that there's a Universal master plan, a Universe that works in ways we'll never fully understand. But sometimes we're given a peak into the higher order of things through unexplainable events and opportunities - perfect timing, synchronicity, inspirations, intuition, and crazy coincidences - that let me know that I'm on the right track. That I'm contributing to my part of the plan. Because I can see the Universal connection clearly.

And most of all, these moments remind me that we're all connected - in more ways than one. We're interdependent on each other. And I'm as connected to my husband, parents, and friends, as I am to people I've never met in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Because we're all on this planet together, each contributing in our part to the Universal ebb and flow. Sometimes we aren't aware of it, or we don't see it, or choose not to believe it. But then when the time is right - and you're aware - you may just meet someone who has been within your radar all along, and you catch a glimpse into the unknown.

Take the time to pay attention to those crazy coincidences and synchronistic events. You never know where they might take you. You'll be thankful you did.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Hey everyone, I am taking the day off on this 5th of July. Please be sure to check back next Monday for a new blog post. I hope you enjoy the day! Ophir

Monday, June 28, 2010

Acupuncturist says relax!

I’m at the tail-end of an unplanned three-day health and wellness jaunt.

It all began on Saturday when I went for a first consultation with an acupuncturist. After giving her my health history, and she looked at my tongue and felt my pulse, she deduced me as being: Sensitive. In need of balance (seems typical for all diabetics) And a worrier. I’d say she’s right on all counts.

Here’s the clincher: She told me to relax more. I don’t know about you, but telling me to relax stresses me out!

So feeling a pressing need to relax, I was inspired to go to a stress reduction yoga class on Sunday at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health. Gentle yoga poses with breathing and meditation.

Our instructor began the class with a story of how yoga permeated into his everyday life just the day before: “I went to Howell Living History Farm with my son,” He told us, “I was drinking a cup of tea with honey on my way there and thinking about how that cup of tea had to be just about the best cup of tea I’d ever had.

When we arrived at the farm, my son and I were walking on the path. I was in my sandals, and a bee stung my foot! I sat there for a moment, amazed, and realized that this is a real lesson in non-judgment.”

I didn’t quite get his statement at first. The experience sounded more like karma, or irony, to me.

He continued, “Everyone’s yoga experience is different. Practice with non-judgment. Keep your eyes shut, and experience your yoga from within.”

Again, I didn’t quite get it. I mean, I do get that I shouldn’t judge myself or others. I’ve meditated before, and learned the lessons of non-judgment before as well. But the bee, the honey, yoga, huh? How exactly is this reducing my stress? And how am I supposed to do yoga with my eyes shut???

We began by breathing in cross-legged stance, stretching arms up, to the side, and back. I was more focused on the pain I was feeling in my hip though. Twisting and turning. To the side. To the back. Breathing up and down. I had to stretch my legs. My hip was killing me.

I opened my eyes to see if the instructor noticed. His eyes were closed as he instructed us to raise our arms overhead and stretch. I couldn’t help but look at the people around me. So flexible. Able to twist and turn much deeper than me, bend down further, balance stronger.

And there it was. I judged. Myself and others. Good or bad. Anticipating others judging me as well.

I closed my eyes again. I am aware. Breathing. Twisting. Turning. Raising arms. Stretching. After about ten minutes, I realized that the pain in my left hip had dissolved away. I smiled from within as I noticed the change.

As we segued into standing poses and inversions, bending over with the blood rushing to my head, viewing the world from upside down, I let out a big internal epiphany: Oh, I get it! The bee!

Our instructor judged the tea as being the best he’d ever had. And then sure enough, something bad happened. He was stung by a bee. I had forgotten that judging things as good or even the best is, well, also a form of judgment. So the Universe showed him, miraculously enough through a bee, that nothing on this planet is either good or bad. Everything is just that. What it is. Nothing is permanent. Everything changes.

“Judgment is external. Forget the external world. Focus on your body within.”

The ego-driven, external world judges. Black or white. Right or wrong. But really few things in this world are black or white. Our true selves, our essence, where everything is truly perfect, comes from within us, and when we are attuned to it, life flows.

I left yoga feeling exhilarated, at peace, and yes, less stressed out. A bit of yoga and meditation goes a long way in relieving stress. But really, feeling inspired to live each moment without judgment helps me relax. With that state of mind, I’m not trying to prove anything, no comparisons, or striving toward perfection. Instead, I’m just learning to live life from my true self.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Trial and error: Me and my new Medtronic Revel insulin pump

It all started with a phone call one evening after a long day at work, a sales call actually, from a Medtronic representative. “You are eligible for an upgrade,” she said, “You’ve had your pump for over four years. Medtronic has come out with the new Revel, an upgrade from the Minimed.”

The second generation hath cometh.

Sigh. I was totally zoning out in front of the TV, and I kicked myself to pay attention. I was so not in the mood to speak with sales associates at that moment. I asked the necessary questions, and then told her that I wanted to look into it. I’d get back to her.

I remember the confusion when I first went on the pump in 2006. Which pump do I choose? Back then, I was debating between the Minimed Paradigm and the Animas, a waterproof model where you can store hundreds of carbohydrate food amounts and not have to research or remember how many carbs are in a carrot or a piece of chocolate cake.

And yet, I chose the Minimed Paradigm 522. They were on the cutting edge of technological advancements, had just come out with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), which monitors your blood sugar levels every five minutes and then communicates them with your pump.

The only integrated system on the diabetes market.

So I chose technology over what I deemed as convenience. And I always wondered...did I make the right choice? I went through the CGM training. But I never really got into it.

My confession: I don’t use the CGM. The needle is too big and painful for my taste. The CGM also sounds alarms every time sugars drop or rise above a certain range. That’s fine, actually that’s good, but I would often find that the numbers weren’t accurate after doing a manual glucose check. So I would be awakened at 3 am with a supposed 240 BG, when actually my BG was more like 86.

This drove me mad, bonkers, frustrated! I packed the CGM in a box, still sitting in my closet, always wondering if I should just suck it up and put the darned thing on.

Opportunity had arisen once again. I can make the switch. Freedom from CGM pressure! Maybe I can go in a pool with a pump! Now, there’s the OmniPod, the Animas Ping, and who knows what else? I know nothing about them!

And I still don’t!

Instead, I began by researching the Revel. I called Dr. W and asked for his opinion. He gave it a thumbs up. I read on-line reviews. Thank you, Amy of Diabetes Mine, who posted a review by Techie Type 1 blogger Scott Hanselman. I learned about new features such as better charting and alarms, showing active insulin more often to help eliminate insulin stacking, and the ability to bolus in .025 increments, an improvement over the Minimed’s .05 increments.

And I asked for a brochure, which the sales representative sent right over via e-mail. And there it was, on a PDF, that darned integrated system again: “The 3 Key Elements of Effective Diabetes Management”.

1) Insulin Delivery
2) Continuous Glucose Monitoring
3) Therapy Adjustment

Sigh. It sells me every time. The responsible thing to do. Be as effective as I can be to monitor and adjust, trial and error, living and learning. That’s what the Revel is all about. And quite frankly, that’s how I live my life.

Living and learning. Trial and error. Monitor and adjust. It’s called living a self-aware life – and then doing something about it – to make your life better.

I started my new Revel pump on Saturday after an hour and a half Medtronic webinar and audio teleconference training for experienced pump users. The words trial and error came up at least five times. Now I can capture events like exercise or eating pizza, download it to my computer, and then see how it affects my blood sugars and make adjustments accordingly.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that with life too? Capture the events in our lives, download them to our computer into graphs and charts, and see how we would do it differently next time, or keep it all the same because whatever we did actually worked? An integrated system for living a self-aware life? Catching our patterns on screen and then being able to adjust with a few clicks of a button?

Perhaps the Revel can teach all of us how to revel in life - by being aware of our patterns and using that information to take action? Because it's all a matter of trial and error.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back from vacation, back to the grindstone

I’m back from an absolutely fantastic vacation. Lior and I went to New Orleans for five days. New Orleans is a great city. The people are friendly and easy going. And the city is filled with an incredible amount of creative energy – writers, artists, musicians – and chefs. Oh yes, lots of great food. Really fattening food. Alcohol. Temptations.

New Orleans is not the healthiest city to be a tourist with diabetes and celiac – an allergy to wheat, rye, and barley. I also don’t eat pork products and only eat certain kinds of shellfish. So needless to say, finding the right kind of foods was challenging for me.

Lior and I combed the French Quarter both on-line before the trip and while there via guidebook and on foot in search of meals that fit at least most of my requirements. And when we did, the food was positively delicious. But it wasn’t easy.

And my blood sugars suffered. I went as high as 300 on one occasion and had a terrible low of 44 in the airport on the way home. I cursed every fattening, starchy meal I ate while sitting on a bench at the Philadelphia airport in a groggy haze recovering from that hazardous low sugar. Thankfully, Lior was there to pick up the suitcase. I was a mess.

The blood sugar roller coaster ride is exhausting. Physically draining. Frustrating. And I felt guilty. I’ll be honest. Despite all of the fun we definitely had, food, diabetes, and celiac was a sore point of the vacation for me.

But of course, I try to live life finding the lesson in my diabetic experiences and then use that lesson so that I can thrive with diabetes. I use this blog as a forum for doing that.

To do that, I need to be honest. I need to back track a bit. I knew ahead of time that I would be steering off of my healthy eating course on this vacation. When we first decided to go to New Orleans, Lior and I researched restaurants trying to find a place with just the right balance of vegetables, healthy grains, and nutritious options. But what I found was an array of exciting restaurants to explore - with lots of unhealthy choices.

So I rationalized: I’m not in New Orleans every day. My whole life’s motto is to live life to the fullest and take advantage of every moment.

And so I decided that food would be part of the experience:

Wednesday night at GW Fins, I ate a very succulent tilefish with shrimp etouffee, mashed potatoes, and lobster butter sauce, and I had blackberry and mango sorbet for dessert. Lior and I both agreed that GW Fins was our second favorite meal of the whole trip. I drank a beautiful glass of Riesling later at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse while Lior drank who knows what. But lots of it.

Thursday night at Desire Oyster Bar, I ate blackened snapper with crabmeat on top of sautéed green beans, peppers, and capers, and a baked potato. The meal was good. I also tried a bite of oyster for the first time in my life. Delicious but a bit chewy for my taste. I did love the atmosphere though. The restaurant‘s windows opened out onto Bourbon Street, and the ceiling fans, lights, and tile floor reminded me of the oyster bar in Grand Central Station in New York (which is most likely a copy of the ones in New Orleans).

On Friday night we ate at Arnaud’s Jazz Bistro. The band played classic jazz while I dined on mushrooms Veronique, salad, chicken in béarnaise sauce, Brabant potatoes covered in hollandaise sauce, and I had caramel custard for dessert. The food was okay, not great. But the experience was worth it. We then returned to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse and listened to Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown on his trumpet (or perhaps it was a trombone, can’t remember) while Lior drank five martinis. I drank juice. The guilt trip started that night.

And on Saturday night, we rode the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar to Brigtsen’s, a James Beard Award winning restaurant. As you can imagine, I ate the most delectable, unforgettable meal ever: Blackened tuna with smoked corn sauce, red bean salsa, & roasted red pepper sour cream, mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans, and the most incredible café au lait crème brulee for dessert.

I gained two or three pounds while I was away, had crazy blood sugars, and I think there may have been some gluten in one or two of those meals. I felt sick to my stomach from all of that crazy food that Sunday at the airport, and actually that entire day, and you know what?

It was worth it.

I know I’m supposed to write about eating healthy all the time, exercising, and taking good care of your health. But you know what? It’s true. It’s not a rationalization. I’m not in New Orleans every day. And I love delicious food. I tried my best to maintain a gluten-free diet. I tried to eat vegetables whenever I could. I walked every day, and even went to the hotel fitness center one day and did some yoga every other day while I was there. And I had a great time.

I did feel guilty when I got back home though. But you know what? That’s okay too! It means I care about my health, and was fully aware that I was breaking the rules.

The guilt has also pushed me to focus on healthy living again now that I’ve returned. I decided to start counting calories and intensify my work-outs some more. (I had gotten a bit lazy before going away on vacation.) I have already lost the two or three pounds I gained while in New Orleans. And am on my way to losing some more.

I have actually found that being a little bit sinful and letting loose once in a while has been a great motivator to push forward now that I’ve returned to the grindstone.

What’s the diabetic lesson I’ve learned? We all need a break sometimes. I know I did. And I am willing to turn those guilt trips into acceptance, have some fun, and then transform all of that energy I used on feeling guilty into pushing forward and making even better and healthier choices once the vacation is over.

Will I feel guilty on my next vacation? Probably, but maybe that’s a good thing after all?

Monday, May 31, 2010

On vacation

I am on vacation this week.
No work, errands, bills, or things to do.
I am stepping out of my routine.
It’s time for my husband and me to unwind.
Have some fun.
See new things.
But diabetes doesn’t go on vacation.
And so taking care of it doesn’t either.
I still prick, monitor, bolus, and check.
Change my pump every three days.
Check my sugars.
Choose foods wisely.
Taking care of my diabetes is a part of who I am.
It keeps me alive.
And I love life.
See you next week!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Every rose has its thorn...

The media and internet are buzzing with excitement over Bret Michaels' win last night on Celebrity Apprentice. Michaels, lead singer of the rock band Poison, won $390,000 total for his charity, the American Diabetes Association. Michaels has been a Type 1 diabetic for over 40 years, and his daughter was actually diagnosed with the disease as well – while he was taping the show.

I'm very happy for Michaels. He's demonstrated time and again that he is a creative, level-headed, likeable, hard-working rock star – competitive and yet a team player. He is easy to like, relatable to me at least, and I also appreciate the money and awareness he’s raised for diabetes.

So why the thorn?

Michaels suffered from a brain hemorrhage just nine days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy while he was at home in Arizona before the show's finale. He was in a semi-coma and was given a 50-50 chance of survival. Only 20% of people who suffer from a brain hemorrhage actually survive. He says that he survived because he went to the hospital the minute he felt something had gone wrong - which he describes as an explosion in his head. He is still recovering from the trauma, undergoing physical therapy twice a day, and still has pain in his neck and is having trouble walking.

Doctors have told him to take it easy. Even Donald Trump told him to take it easy, that he had been working too hard. Health comes first.

And yet, Michaels is still working hard. He appeared on the live finale last night, on Oprah last Thursday, and I saw him on the Today Show this morning where Meredith Vieira actually asked him why he is working so hard, preparing to go on tour this summer, while he is still recovering from a very serious ailment. The media seems rightfully concerned about Brett's well-being.

Brett’s response: I’m very driven.

My take on it: He doesn’t want his health to hold him back from pursuing his dreams. He’s been in consultation with doctors the entire time, and so we know that he’s very aware and conscious of taking care of his health. He's chosen to push despite some of the advice given to him. He is on a total high right now. He just won Donald Trump’s reality show. The world has his attention. He has raised a lot of money for diabetes. He survived a brain hemorrhage. He doesn’t want to rest and take it easy. He wants to live life to the fullest as best he can.

I can relate to that, and if I could, I would do the same. We never really know when our time is up, and he's seizing the day.

I'm not saying that I would ignore health though. Carpe diem (seize the day in Latin) doesn't mean that you just dismiss what's best for your body. The diabetes – and its related complications, both physical and emotional – has always been about balance. And in this case, it's the balance between pushing forward mentally while your body is telling you to rest.

This balance is a difficult one to find. Diabetes has been a thorn in my side at times. Sometimes I wonder if I should keep pushing or if I should rest. I have sometimes questioned if I can do certain things. But many times, diabetes has driven me to achieve more, do better, and prove that I can do it. It’s driven me to follow my passions and dreams and live every day to the fullest. The thorn has taught me to appreciate all of the wonderful things in my life, and I want to feel alive. You can only do that by living.

Bret Michaels has inspired and concerned me at the same time. He pushes himself against all odds all while he really still needs to be at home recuperating. He has reminded me that I can too, defy the odds, and achieve my goals - while being mindful of my diabetes. The thorn is there, and we can either let it hold us back - or we can use it, nurture it, take care of it, and allow it to push us toward living our lives to the fullest.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dream big: A cure for diabetes

Diabetes Blog Week ended yesterday, Sunday, May 16th, with the topic: Dream a little dream – life after a cure. I have decided to write on this topic for today’s Monday post instead of yesterday.

I rarely think about life without diabetes – only when others mention it. I have gotten so accustomed to living with it, and I accepted that I have diabetes a long time ago. I’ve had the disease since I was 3 years old, and so it’s hard for me to imagine living without it. I’ve already gone through my rebellious phase which as a diabetic means eating candy and junk food, not checking sugars, and trying to be like everyone else. But even in those days, I didn’t dream of a cure.

Now we’re being asked to dream BIG.

My dreams started meagerly, more questioning than actual dreaming. First thing that comes to mind: Okay, so yeah, I wouldn’t be wearing a pump. But wouldn’t I still have to check my sugars even if there was a cure? Does it just go away? Just like that? Would all of those complications that I worry about just vanish and disappear into thin air? What about all of the lab tests? Wouldn’t they (the doctors) want to see if it’s really working?

I received my JDRF chapter newsletter over the weekend, and as I read, I began to warm myself up to the idea that a cure is possible. Yes, I know that the JDRF has been talking about this for a long time. But in order to dream big, you really do need to think that the dream is possible, right? So I allowed myself to think of a cure as possible. Articles spoke about research for an artificial pancreas and regeneration, and the best medical minds of the world have gathered for a global pharmaceutical conference to find a pill cure.

So I pondered again: What would life without diabetes mean? And my dream widened. I would be able to do more physically: Exercise when I want and how much I want without the fear of lows and highs. I could go into a pool or the ocean and not have to worry about my pump sitting in a bag unattended, or how much time I’ve spent without it attached. I could eat almost whatever I want to eat whenever I want to eat it (I do still have celiac). Hey, perhaps some of the complications I’ve developed would reverse and my body would heal? I would be able to wear clothing and not see a bulging pump underneath my shirt. I wouldn’t have to prick my fingers or change my pump every three days. I wouldn’t feel guilty anymore for not using a CGM (I find the needle way too big and so I just don’t use it). I wouldn’t have to excuse myself and check my sugars when others are socializing.

I would feel free.

And that’s when reality hit again: Diabetes can feel so limiting sometimes. And you know what? I don’t want to face those limiting feelings daily. And so I don’t dream of a cure. I have simply accepted that this is my life.

And then it hit me: Do these limiting feelings pervade other areas of my life as well? They probably do. Dreaming the cure dream is a diabetic lesson in dreaming big; it’s about letting go of limiting beliefs in our diabetic lives. If we dream big, truly allowing ourselves to envision ourselves living the lives we want to live, then we can live big too.

Perhaps dreaming big, letting go of those limiting feelings, is actually the necessary step to living freely – with or without diabetes. Because when you dream big, you follow your heart, and nothing can be more liberating than that!

Friday, May 14, 2010

My top five reasons why I love exercise and you should too

Dear Conscious Diabetic readers,

I have joined fellow d-bloggers and am participating in Diabetes Blog Week. I will be posting new topics every day this week on living with diabetes. Click here to read my Conscious Diabetic Monday post entitled: Diabetes and loving kindness practice.

Have a great day,

Diabetes Blog Week topic #5 is exercise: Love it or hate it?

A wise person told me a few years ago that the only way to get diabetes under control – the only way to really make a difference and achieve healthy blood sugars and A1Cs – is to exercise consistently five days a week.

I was always an exerciser as a kid – riding my bicycle for hours, going for walks, roller skating, and playing tennis mainly - but I was kind of on-again, off-again about the whole thing. Then as an adult, the off-again phases became more frequent until I received that priceless piece of advice. And I decided to commit to consistent exercise.

I have listed for you my top five reasons why I have learned to love exercising five days a week, and have stayed committed to it for at least three years now, and why I think that everyone should get up off the couch and start loving exercise too!

5. Attention all Type 1, Type 2, pre-diabetics, and non-diabetics, exercise helps control blood sugars and can prevent diabetes altogether in some cases! Studies conducted at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that “Physical activity 30 minutes a day on most days – or certainly five days a week – is a good place to start because that tends to maintain the blood sugar in a more normal range….And losing a few pounds, with proper eating and physical activity, can reduce chances of getting diabetes.”

Overall health improves as well through consistent exercise. I personally reversed some kidney problems I had developed when I was younger once I began exercising regularly and getting my blood sugars under control. I have also been taken off two medications, my cholesterol is superb, and I simply feel healthier, lighter, and more energetic.

Of course, this is mixed in with a healthy lifestyle as well: eating the right kinds of foods, sleeping properly, drinking lots of water, not smoking or drinking excessive alcohol, taking insulin and checking blood sugars, making my well-being a priority, and so on. Exercise is part of the overall health package.

4. Exercise is a great way to release stress, blow off steam, sweat it off, and burn off anger and frustration. Kick-boxing, martial arts, yoga, running, walking...all of the above and more…are great ways to let go of whatever is holding you back!

3. I’ve learned more about who I am. As you release the things that hold you back, you make room for who you really are to enter into your life.

I love yoga, walking, and aerobics that mixes in toning exercises. I love a good Jillian Michaels DVD because she pushes me to realize my potential, and I also love taking a nice walk outside and smelling the roses, being meditative, while also moving. Yoga is my all-time favorite exercise because of its mind-body-spirit approach – looking at the body as a whole.

I’ve come to learn that who I am as an exerciser reflects who I am in other parts of my life as well: Ambitious and driven while also staying attuned to mind-body-spirit.

2. You look better on the outside when you take care of what’s going on inside. I look better: Skin, eyes, hair, muscles, and all. I fit in my clothes, and they’re even loose at the moment! What a great feeling it is to walk into a store, pick out a pair of jeans or slacks off the rack, and fit in them! And look good!

1. I am happy, balanced, more confident, and at peace more oftentimes than not. We all deserve goodness in our lives, and you start to receive that goodness when you take care of what’s within you. Happiness comes from loving yourself, and what better way to do that than through exercise.

So, let’s get moving!