Kickstarting the Year of the Monkey

The Year of the Sheep was not my year. sheep-152371_1280It was generally disappointing, depressing and discouraging all around. Early on, there was a troubling occurrence at work. I failed in my attempt to do another marathon. My father’s health worsened, which was compounded by his desperate experiment with a pseudo-medical quack institution. Although I don’t express it aloud, my father’s health weighed heavily on my mind. All these things contributed to an almost yearlong cohabitation with depression. I lost interest in things I cared about and loved the most, even singing and music in general, something which I could not imagine ever happening. I didn’t care, an attitude which extended to my own health. I stopped self-monitoring my blood glucose; I loosened up a lot on my diet; I did a lot more sitting than exercising. I went through big chunks of evenings and weekends doing, and thinking of, nothing. I had been mostly coasting along in the trough.

But, by some miracle, I’m emerging from this almost dark hole I found myself in. This was triggered by my experience on New Year’s Eve. I was at a club, where more than three-quarters of the people who paid to get in spent their time sitting down, looking bored or taking endless selfies, and burying their faces and typing away on their mobile phones or tablets, probably sharing their “grand” time at the club. I wondered, Why pay to get in if you’re just going to sit down, especially on New Year’s Eve? To those addicted to selfies, really, how much more narcissistic can you be? (A lot more apparently.) There were a few people who at least talked to each other, danced, or bobbed their heads with the music (I can still see this elderly Chinese woman, obviously a tourist, who had no mobile phone, thoroughly enjoying club music). But generally, all I could see were the tops of people’s heads over their lit phones. I found the scene so pathetic that I suddenly felt good. At least, even with me down a hole, I can say that I had a life. As 2016 waltzed in, I resolved to get that life back.monkey-152685_1280

I began by going for my quarterly bloodwork. My A1c was slightly over 6%. While I was anticipating a far worse number, I have not been out of the 5% club in seven years. So, despite the fact that I have not been a good Type 2 diabetic, I was slightly crestfallen with my A1c. My endo looked at me kindly and told me not to worry. But at the same time he warned me sternly to watch my carbs and increased my metformin dosage to (in his words) “help you return to your previous levels”. He then reminded me once again to watch my carbs, and to lose the small  amount of weight I gained in the previous three months.

I’ve returned to exercising, with walks and skiing.  Last weekend, the ski slopes punished me for my lamentable lack of fitness. Not only did I ache all over after skiing, I had no stamina while taking on the slopes. That’s all the reminder I needed to work on getting my fitness back this year.

I have started pricking my fingers again to check my blood glucose. I stopped self-monitoring long enough for my fingers to forget how painful it can be, even with very slim lancets. I’ll just have to keep wincing until I get used to the discomfort of self-monitoring, which doesn’t take long.

I’ve started reverting to my previous way of eating. Basically that means forgoing rice, noodles and pasta which found a way of becoming a staple in my diet last year. I have also requested my generous office roommate to stop tempting me with chocolate covered wafers and cookies, and he has kindly agreed.

As you can see, I’m well on the way to getting my diabetic life back on track. No matter how miserable 2015 was for me, I relearned some important lessons. Life will throw me a curveball; it may do so one at a time, but sometimes three, four or more at the same time. When that happens, I know I can count on family, friends (online and offline), work (yes, work and not vacation) and more importantly my husband to get me through. I’m never ever alone, and all the difficulties will eventually pass. I just have to hang in there. Most importantly, I have to have faith in myself. That’s something that many probably have difficulty remembering during difficult times; I know I have. But however difficult you think life could be, if you can weather the challenges, life will reward you and you come out a winner.

It’s just the start of the year but I have a great feeling about this year. I was born in the Year of the Monkey, and I’m a Monkey, so this is definitely my year. I don’t go for superstitions; however, after a dismal 2015, the Year of the Monkey cannot go anywhere but up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing attitude?

men-311308_1280A couple of weeks ago, on a boat ride with strangers, I noticed one of the passengers brought with him no-sugar happoshu or low-malt beer. The passenger was a Caucasian male in his late 20s or early 30s. I asked if I could check the food label as I wanted to see if the beer was no-carb as well. As he handed the can to me, he volunteered that he was drinking no-sugar beer because he is pre-diabetic. I was taken aback by this disclosure because he was not embarrassed about his condition, unlike other non-Japanese Type 2 diabetic or pre-diabetic individuals I’ve met. In fact, it seemed to me that he was more embarrassed by the fact that he was drinking no-sugar beer than he was by the diagnosis, and that his condition was a poor excuse for not drinking regular, proper, beer. Continue reading

A new chink in my diet

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Rice bowl.

When it comes to food, I consider myself lucky in that I have no allergy or intolerance, apart from lactose. Of course, being diabetic, I have to minimize, if not avoid, carbohydrates (especially simple carbs) to have better control of my blood glucose. That said, I can choose to indulge if and when I wish; of course, with full knowledge of its effects. This is the case with rice. I generally do not eat rice because rice of all sorts, white, brown, red, polished and unpolished, raises my blood glucose really really quickly. But now I have to avoid rice for another reason. It seems that I have developed an intolerance for it.  Continue reading

Singing may be detrimental to my diabetes

spaghetti-31784_1280I had recently performed in a summer recital which my teacher mounts annually for her students. Although preparing for the recital can be stressful, I look forward to performing every year. This year, I was especially excited because I would be singing a really famous Italian aria which for years my husband had been asking me to learn. My excitement spilled over to what I would wear, what make-up I would use, and even to what color I would paint my nails. I actually had my nails done, something I’d never even bothered to do in the past recitals. I wanted to look my best. Continue reading

Being Large

weight-loss-494284_1280I’ve been doing some retail therapy lately and been so thrilled to be able to buy decent tops in Tokyo. A few years ago, even after my weight loss, my choices of blouses in Japan were limited to a handful. These days, though, I have found more shops carrying wonderful Large size tops. What I find remarkable is the fact that I’m now comfortable asking, “Do you have this in Large?” Continue reading

So What!

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My peaceful hiatus from the online diabetes community was disturbed by the uproar started by the misleading, ill-informed and insensitive tweet by the CEO of Crossfit and the equally misleading, ill-informed and insensitive responses to that tweet from certain members of the diabetes community. For those who are not aware, let me summarize. The inconsiderate and ignorant CEO tweeted the image “Coca-Cola Open Diabetes” which clearly insinuated that sugar causes diabetes and that therefore those who drink too much Coke (or have too many sugary things) brought diabetes upon themselves. This tweet drew indignation from the diabetes community. Sadly, the indignation included the equally inconsiderate and ignorant response “Learn the difference between Type 1 and Type 2” from an alarmingly large number of Type 1 diabetics (represented by a pop music personality) or their parents.

Like many, I was incensed with the Coke-related tweet. Continue reading

D Blogging

Note: Day 6 of DBlogWeek. If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blogpost that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don’t have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?  (Thank you Laddie of Test Guess and Go for suggesting this topic. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything that I can say is my all time favorite. Often I read someone else’s article, essay, novel, blog post, or interview, and I think “Man, I wish I had written or said that!” It took me a while to garner enough courage to blog. Envy and frustration made me do it. cloud-709095_1280 Continue reading

Lunch

Note: Day 5 DBlogWeek. Taking a cue from Adam Brown’s recent post, write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.  (Thank you, Katy of  Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes for this topic.)

Pardon me for deviating from the topic but I thought this DBlogWeek prompt would be an apt opportunity to answer a question I often receive from friends and strangers, diabetic or not: What do I eat for lunch? I get this question because I live and work in Tokyo, where rice and noodles are among its staples. Since I do not bring my own lunch to the office, many wonder how I manage. Actually, it is not that difficult to find suitable dishes and restaurants in Tokyo, which is among the world’s top food meccas. In most cases, rice is either served in a separate bowl or placed at the bottom of the bowl (as in rice bowls). Instead of describing food options, which I’ve done before (here), I’ll let you see for yourselves some of the reasonably priced choices available at restaurants and food courts near my office.

Western

Another Garb lunchGarb lunchLunch salad

 

 

 

Chinese

Chinese pork dishMabodofuChinese lunch

 

 

 

 

Japanese

Negitorodon

Rice bowl – the rice is separated by dried seaweed

Japanese lunch

Oyakodon

Chicken and egg rice bowl – the rice is under a layer of cooked egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bento

Thai bentoBeef bentoSalad bento


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unsticking a stigma


Note: Day 4 of DBlogWeek. Today let’s talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you’d most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people’s perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you?

weeping-41879_1280I would like to rid Type 2 diabetes of the social and moral stigma it carries.

Type 2 diabetes is not a moral failing. It is not a result of lack of willpower and resolve. It is not God’s punishment for gluttony and sloth.

Continue reading

Diabetes trash


Note: Day 3 of DBlogWeek. Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let’s clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you’re mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?  (Thank you Rick of RA Diabetes for this topic suggestion.)

Last month, I did some spring cleaning and found several books, as well as printouts of articles from different so-called health websites, about diabetes. I love books and it pains me to throw them away but those books on diabetes which were hiding in my diabetic closet did not deserve to be seen or read by another person, so I dumped them in the garbage bin. I wish I have the power to burn all copies of those books, punish their authors and prevent those same authors (and others who want to follow in their footsteps) from peddling their quackery, and the power to do the same to their Internet equivalents.

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Continue reading