Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year, Diabetes Style!

I am having mixed feelings about closing the book on 2012. It seems bittersweet in many regards. Don't get me wrong, there were some less-than-stellar moments. I think about the first few months, January-March, when I was training hard for my first half marathon. My body was tired. I was also running a Mock Trial tournament at school and practicing for Mock Trial Regionals. It certainly was a busy couple of months. Then, we were thrown into an unseasonably warm Spring. I remember running on days when the weather felt too good to be real. The 11 and 12-mile runs almost seemed easy on those days. My birthday is March 5. My mom took me to Nashville to see my favorite band, Mumford & Sons. We shopped. We ate. It was a lot of fun. I remember eating a three-course meal at Morton's Steakhouse. I ate so much. I cannot imagine what my blood sugar would have read had I known to check.

In April, the big news came. If you need a refresher, check out this post that details how I ended up in the hospital with a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. The next few weeks were hard. They were harder than I cared to admit to myself or to you all. I was thrust into a new way of living. I tried to embrace it with positivity, but some days just sucked. The hardest part of the whole thing, early on and today, is the unwelcome anxiety that comes with knowing I'm sick. Maybe "sick" isn't the appropriate word, but I do have a chronic illness which, over time, can damage the body's organs. It has very real short-term dangers and long-term dangers. In truth, I don't think about that every waking hour of every day, but I do carry around more worries than I'd like.

This isn't a set-up so that I can say the dreaded Bar Exam ended the way it did because of Diabetes. I maintained in October just as I maintain today, Diabetes had nothing to do with my failing the Bar. I know plenty of people who like to argue otherwise, and I appreciate their benefit of the doubt. You know what? Failing the Bar Exam has been a blessing in disguise. Yes, I am taking it again in February, but I have been able to explore all sorts of great ideas for my future. Some legal, some not. Some creative, some not. Some lucrative, some not. I would trade in the embarrassment, of course. But  I take full ownership of the results and the person I have become in their wake.

As usual, the holidays came and went, and 2013 stands beckoning. 2012 sure did deal me a hand of cards...a series of defining moments. I hope more than anything that this blog has been one iota as helpful for someone else as it has been for me. It has been my therapy and creative outlet throughout the good and bad. In 2013, I plan to continue this blog. I plan to continue my candor with you, the readers, about the realities of Diabetes. I vow to continue to take care of my health, both physical and mental. It has been far too easy to reflect on 2012 and put myself and my struggles at center stage. But when I zoom out, my struggles and I are mighty small in this big world. My struggles and I are mighty small in comparison to my abundant blessings. You see, my family and friends, whether they know it or not, have carried me this year. Every word of encouragement, concern, and love has been internalized and re-internalized to propel me onward. I'm carrying you all with me into the adventures of 2013. Many thanks to you and your support.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

guest blogger: spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs

Well, Jenna Harris has done it again! Back when she agreed to guest-blog, she provided me with two fabulous recipes. I wanted to space them apart. I think Andrew and I are going to put the ingredients for this recipe on our grocery list and make this ASAP

Spaghetti Squash with Herb Turkey Meatballs and Garlic Tomato Sauce
Serves: 4
Total Cook and Prep Time: 45 minutes

1.2-1.5 lbs. of ground turkey
1 spaghetti squash
1 can diced tomatoes or 3 large fresh tomatoes, diced
2 cans tomato sauce
1 small white onion
5 cloves garlic, chopped
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375. In fill large stock pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Place in whole spaghetti squash and cover with lid. Let boil for 30 minutes. Squash is done if a fork can be easily inserted to the outer layer.

Tomato Sauce:
In medium sauce pan, add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in 2 tbsp. olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, rosemary, and basil to taste. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. of pepper. Let simmer as you prepare everything else.

Combine ground turkey meat with 1 tbsp. minced garlic, chopped basil and chopped rosemary (amount of herbs can vary to your liking). Roll into balls that are approx. 1.5 inches in diameter (1.2 lbs. or turkey will make around 16, 1.5 inch meatballs). Place in oiled baking dish and bake for 35 minutes.

When squash is done, remove and place on large cutting board. Cut squash vertically. Spoon out seeds and center layer of stringy squash (will be more gooey and mushy than outer layer). Drag spoon along skin and the spaghetti squash should fall out very easily. Make sure all seeds have been removed and any excess water is drained. Plate spaghetti squash. Top with meatballs and tomato sauce. Serve with parmesan cheese and crusty Italian bread!

Doesn't this  just look delicious? 

Let's commit together to making more healthy, creative recipes in 2013!
Thanks SO MUCH to Jenna!

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 2012 Endo Appointment

So, I go to the endocrinologist every three months. Depending on which tests I had done the last time, I may or may not give blood. This time is a blood-giving time. Admittedly, I am a baby when it comes to giving blood. I look away, fidget my feet, and breathe deeply to avoid passing out on the floor. Hopefully, since it won't be my first rodeo, I will be able to handle it like a grownup. I don't know what to expect from my hba1c this time. It was 6.2% last time, I believe. That was all reflective of insulin therapy via multiple daily injections (mdi). This hba1c will reflect my experience on oral medications. In truth, most days are pretty good - never even hitting 180 mg/dL. There have been a few days or span of days when I couldn't seem to get it together, but I always had something I could blame - Italian food, Mexican food, that baked potato from which I just couldn't stay away... You see, for me, I was constantly testing the boundaries to see what my body can and cannot handle on oral meds. I learned the hard way that even flatbread pizzas with white sauce are a recipe for hyperglycemia. I can count on my fingers how many times I chose to do a correction bolus. I am happy with my situation the way it is now. Hopefully, my endocrinologist will be also. I go in at 11:00, so I will follow-up in the paragraphs below...this is just my pre-appointment ranting :)

Ready for the results...?

hba1c = 5.9% 

He still thinks I can get even lower, but I am pleased with anything starting with a "5"! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Like a Kid a Christmas!

I figured it would be easier if I posted Christmas pictures as they come along. Last night, Andrew and I celebrated Christmas Eve at my grandparent's house in Cordova. This is an age-old tradition, complete with Dirty Santa and casseroles galore. My blood sugar has been behaving wonderfully the past few days (knocks on wood). I think the rippling effects of a 5.5 mile run on Saturday are still playing a part. I can't wait to go running again :)

Anyhow, back to last night...traditionally, kids open presents first. The youngest little muffin in the house is my nephew, Zen. Zen will be two in a couple of weeks, and he is at the age when he loves receiving everything! Wes and Kelsey (my brother and his girlfriend) bought Z a lot of fun musical instruments, and it was pure joy watching him enjoy his Christmas. Little Z is usually asleep by 6:30-7:00, so the fact that he was still trucking along at 9:00 was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.


May you ALL enjoy Christmas Day with the zeal of a two-year old! 


The Holts 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Is it really Christmas Eve already? I know I am not alone in finding that time flies the older I get. When I was younger, I looked forward to Santa and toys. Now, I look forward to the togetherness. I want to soak it in like a sponge, but it always seems to end too soon. I reflect somberly on those who have lost loved ones this year. It is hard for me to imagine celebrating Christmas with a single person missing. I can't fathom what some families are feeling this year in light of the tragedy in Connecticut. I hope they find a clear path to peace. I hope they feel the love and support of those of us around the world. Our lives are fragile, hanging in a delicate balance every moment of every day. So, may we not find joy only in the gifts we unwrap. Let us treasure each embrace, each conversation, and each "Merry Christmas" from a stranger. Let us have patience is travel and patience in turmoil. Let us have love for each other that extends long past a day on the calendar.

It will be my first Christmas as a Diabetic.Christmas helps put Diabetes in perspective too. It seems a little smaller on a day of such grandeur. I''ll be fine! I just need to pace myself, avoid the punch, and limit the cookies.

I know it has been a while since I have posted on this blog. The fashion blog monopolized a lot of my time in December. I have plenty of life updates to exam prep, half-marathon training, an upcoming endo. appointment, etc. So, you'll have to stay tuned...

Happy Holidays!
God Bless :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Guest Blog: Healthline

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are Two Different Diseases

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you’re probably wondering exactly what it is and how it differs from the type 1 variety.  First of all, diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder characterized by the body’s inability to produce sufficient insulin, which is a key factor in transferring blood glucose to the cells.  Type 1 and type 2 diabetes may result in the same disorder; however, they are actually two separate diseases. 

The key difference between type 1 and type 2 is that type 1 is genetic, quite often inherited and cannot be prevented or cured.  Type 2 diabetes occurs later in life, is thought to be brought on by obesity and bad eating habits, and can sometimes be remedied through diet, exercise and weight loss. 

Type 1 diabetes is actually an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s immune system has destroyed the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.  Without insulin to transfer glucose from the blood to the cells where it is needed, blood sugar levels rise to dangerous levels, causing excessive thirst and urination as the body seeks to rid itself of the blood glucose the only way it can.  The cells, meanwhile, are starving.

Type 1 diabetes is known as juvenile diabetes because it generally manifests during early childhood and rarely after age 40.  It is considered a genetic disorder and is often inherited.  There is currently no cure for diabetes 1, and sufferers must inject themselves daily with insulin in order to survive.

Type 2 Diabetes is Often Self Inflicted

While the exact cause and mechanism is not well known, it is generally agreed that type 2 diabetes is quite often brought on or at least aggravated by obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise.  Type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells in the body develop a resistance to insulin, possibly as a result of being subjected to extreme amounts of the substance over many years. 

Chronic overeating leads to chronic high doses of insulin being generated by the pancreas in response to the overwhelming amounts glucose entering the blood after a large meal.  Too much insulin can be toxic to cells, which may respond by reducing numbers of insulin receptors in order to protect themselves.  It may be that cells develop insulin resistance over time anyway, resulting in a predisposition of older people to develop diabetes 2, but this process may be sped up through overeating and poor diet, causing a much earlier onset of the disease.

In a classic catch 22 situation, these altered cells require higher levels of insulin, which the pancreas then produces, causing the cells to respond by developing further insulin resistance.  At some point, the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient insulin to cover this increased demand, and as with diabetes 1, blood glucose levels become dangerously high and the cells begin to starve.

Depending on the severity of the condition, type 2 diabetes may be managed through diet and exercise, losing weight, and in more severe cases oral or injected insulin supplements.  The prescription for preventing diabetes 2 is the same as for managing it; maintaining a healthy body weight, getting regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables and whole grains, which helps to maintain steady blood glucose levels.

Complex carbohydrates and starches are digested more slowly, releasing glucose into the blood system gradually, unlike sweets and simple carbs, which cause immediate spikes in blood sugar and trigger an over-production of insulin.  This large quantity of insulin then causes a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia, triggering hunger pangs and further binging.

Put quite simply, the difference between diabetes 1 and 2 is the cause.  Diabetes 1 is genetic and its occurrence cannot be changed, while diabetes 2 is a result of lifestyle, and is not necessarily a predetermined outcome of the aging process.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Today, I dedicate this space to mourn the loss of innocent lives both in Memphis and Connecticut.

There are no right words or sorrows deep enough to convey proper condolences. Instead, I can offer my thoughts and prayers. Additionally, I can promise that I will not be taking my family and friends for granted this holiday season.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 3, 2012

Diabetics Who Party...

Most days, life as a diabetic feels a lot like life before being diabetic. Sure, I have a few extra chores, but it is no detraction from my quality of life. When I attend parties, however, I must always be aware of how much nibbling I am doing. Yesterday, my wonderful fellow-diabetic friend, Stephanie, hosted an ornament party at 2:00 PM. Rewind a couple hours before that, and I am sitting at Tugs having brunch with Andrew, Catherine, and L.D. (long-time friends). I'm ordering and realize that I did not take my Metformin that morning. You see, I am so routine-oriented that I know to take the pill with breakfast - which I usually prepare at home. Because I was ditching breakfast in favor of a brunch, it didn't even occur to me to throw it in my purse. So, I chased my breakfast with the Metformin. Nothing crazy happened, but I wasn't where I wanted to be by the time the party started. So, I did what any good diabetic would do - bolus! 165mg/dL and all this food in front of me? Definitely worthy of a bolus. Need a refresher on what a bolus is? I was unaware for quite some time. Bolus refers to injecting fast-acting insulin. It usually happens before meals based on carbohydrate content, but it can happen as a correction of a miscalculation after eating as well. I probably got that wrong in some capacity, but that is how I use the term. Anyway, my blood sugar was fine the rest of the day. I just noticed that parties give me an extra level of awareness of what and how much I am eating. Trust me, when the food is this good, portions can amass quite quickly :) Take a look...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Month: December


Nothing brings me back to the Diabetes blog quite like a new month! Do we need a refresher as to why new months are awesome? For a goal-setter, it is an optimal time to set new short-term goals. Next month will also mark the New Year (and we can all laugh at the Mayans), and then we can do both short-term and long-term planning! My December started off on an inspiring note. Andrew and I handed out water at the St. Judge Marathon this morning. There is nothing quite like the determination of thousands running for a cause! I attempted my first half-marathon this past March. Though my training went swimmingly, the race day did not. I only ran 9/13 miles, and walk/ran the final 4. To me, that is not sufficient to say "I've run a half marathon." So, that's not something I say. But that's something I'd like to be able to say. Now that I have a Continuous Glucose Monitor, I feel confident that I can give that race a fair rematch. So, for Goal #1, I'd like to start training for the Germantown Half Marathon at the end of the month. There, it's out there. The next step to commitment is signing up :)

At the end of the month, I go to my next endo appointment. It will be my first endo appointment assessing an entire three months on oral medications. My goal is to have my A1c under 6%. Well, really, I'd just like it to be lower than last time (6.3%). So, Goal #2 is to keep a tight watch on my blood sugar throughout the month. That may mean fewer cookies. I am so pleased with the oral meds, and I wish this therapy could last forever, but I am always preparing myself for a time when they may not work so well.

I also have a lot of exciting ideas going on in the career world. I won't disclose too many details, but I have really enjoyed cultivating my creative passions. First thing's first - Goal #3 is to begin studying for the February Bar Exam. I've already begun the flashcard making, which will hopefully be a helpful change from the study methods last time!

Don't forget to check into Exclusively Chic this month for a 25-day gift guide to holiday shopping! :)

Welcome to December, friends! I hope you've set some awesome goals to end 2012.