Thursday, May 28, 2015

You Know You're Getting Old When.....

Getting old sucks....Sparky is resisting as long as she can....She is pushing herself to keep going and keep moving, when some days she just doesn't want to exercise. But Sparky has the "jumpin' bean gene"....She can't sit still for very long at all. When friends come over, Sparky gets restless when sitting, she's got to bounce her leg, jiggle her foot, or do something with her hands like knitting. And even then, that's not always working for her. She feels like getting up and MOVING! Let's go somewhere everybody, is what is going through her mind along with a jillion other things. Sparky has trouble focusing...(and finding her way around town, and finding her keys, her wallet, etc. etc. adds E.) Yes, yes...she does...She's probably an ADHD adult that has never been diagnosed. While Sparky was traveling, the sights, the sounds, every day a new experience, she reveled in that...She never noticed how much trouble she had sitting still, BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T! Except to sleep!

So how's this relating to getting old, you ask? Well, Sparky is noticing some things that she needs to work on, like balance...Sparky cannot stand on one foot for more than 20 seconds on either foot. Sparky starts losing her balance when closing her eyes and standing in one place. Sparky cannot walk a straight line toe to toe across a room. Tai chai might be in her, too....Or a visit to the ear doctor, as one ear keeps getting infections. Sparky knows all these things are great things to bring up to the doctor next time around which will be when she gets on Medicare-- soon. Yippee!

So here's Sparky's list culled from several different places and her own experience, but she's not going to tell you which ones are which. You know you are getting old, when......

You get excited about getting on Medicare....
You have lots of trouble keeping your train of thought going on the single line this blog, for example!
You have trouble driving at night....Or no longer want to drive at night....
When a young person the age of one of your children calls you, "sweetie" and it bothers you.
People call you at 9:00 PM and ask, "Did I wake you?"
You can't remember the last time you lay on the floor to watch TV
You bend over, you look for something else to do while you are down there or you notice dust     bunnies that you can't see while standing up.
You don't think of speed limits as challenges any more.
You know what the word "equity" means....
Everything hurts and what doesn't hurt doesn't work.
Your address book contains more M.D.'s names than friends.
You constantly talk about the price of gas....or your ailments.
You get on the mailing list for funeral insurance....Sparky was depressed to get this in the mail today.

You look for your glasses for a half an hour only to find they are on your head.
You don't care where your spouse goes, just so you don't have to go along.
Your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio....
Getting lucky means finding your car in the parking lot.
Your childhood toys are now in a museum.
Your drugs of preference are now vitamins.
You get propositioned by AARP.
You shop for health insurance like shopping for a new car.
A late night now ends at 10:00 PM or sooner.
Your idea of weight lifting is standing up....BWAHAHAHAHAHA....Sparky likes that one.
You start researching information on the internet for "cataracts".
Dressing becomes complicated---is this style suitable for a senior? Am I going to be able to fasten or zip up the back?
You realize things you buy now are not going to wear out before you do....
You like to get home early and "get settled".....
You recount stories of "I remember when the price of.......  was..........."

And there are lots lots more, she's sure....

At any interesting sideline on the diabetes topic Sparky has been on lately...She was really bad for dinner this evening...After a long day subbing for several days for a rambunctious 5th grade class on the last four days of school, (What WAS she thinking??!!) Sparky jumped at the chance not to have to fix dinner...So we went to Texas Roadhouse. Now, you COULD be good at the Roadhouse, IF you ate just a salad with vingarette dressing, a 6 oz. sirloin, had a small baked potato, and drank water...That doesn't raise Sparky's sugar too much. As a matter of fact, it stays within an acceptable range. But does Sparky resist the bread?  NO-O-O-O-o-o-o-o-o...Does she cave in and have only one roll and skip the delicious cinnamon butter? NO-O-o-o-o-o-o.... She eats TWO rolls, has her own little tiny cup of butter that normally TWO people are supposed to share, and eats a great big baked potato and has the salad. She DIDN't have a Sprite like she used to do.... Glucose level after two hours of eating? 229....One of the highest on record...Musta been those two rolls and the cinnamon butter, mutters Sparky, feeling just the slightest ashamed....

So-o-o-o-o...despite working all day and being bone tired, Sparky decides to take some cinnamon supplement and ride her bike 6.5 miles...Checked her sugar after coming back home, one hour later after the high reading and it's 125...which is good for someone working on watching their levels. Sparky has discovered that exercise really helps bring that sugar level down. She has also read that cinnamon has a positive effect on reducing blood glucose levels, so she did more reading.

There are two kinds of cinnamon--Ceylon cinnamon, a lighter and more refined type of cinnamon, and more expensive, and cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is the common kind most often found in the grocery store. Both come from the inner bark of the cinnamomon tree. There is a BIG important difference between the two. The cheaper, cassia cinnamon has a naturally occurring toxic substance in it called coumarin. Coumarin can cause liver damage in high doses. Ceylon cinnamon has very little traces of that in it. You can find cassia cinnamon with chromium (an additional mineral added to a cinnamon supplement sold in health stores and at Walmart). Chromium is supposed to enhance the action of insulin in your body, thus helping blood sugar levels along with the cinnamon.

Sparky tried this supplement for awhile, and it really seemed to help bring her blood sugar levels down when they occasionally rose to alarming levels. But after reading about the coumarin possibly causing liver damage in high doses and not being able to find what constitutes a high dose, she switched over to the more pure refined Ceylon cinnamon. The doctor didn't blink an eye when Sparky mentioned she was taking cinnamon, the doctor didn't ask which kind, she didn't mention what an ok level was, and Sparky didn't have the information about cinnamon types at the time of the doctor visit, so she took it upon herself to switch to the Ceylon cinnamon and stay away from any possible liver involvement with the cassia cinnamon and chromium combo. A standard dosage listed for cinnamon capsules, by the way, is two 500 mg. capsules twice a day. Sparky knows that supplements can be a dangerous path to head down, because they are not regulated very well, nor are you sure of what you are getting in the supplement. She read not long ago, that well known brands of supplements being sold at drugstores and Walmart and other places were recently tested and found to contain very little of what they were supposed to have, along with other stuff that didn't belong there. (A very scientific explanation is not in Sparky's repertoire at the moment). careful with dosing yourself with cinnamon in your attempts to get your blood sugar down, Sparky says...Do some research, check it out more, but there IS some credibility (according to research) to cinnamon having a positive effect on blood sugar....It wouldn't hurt to sprinkle some on your oatmeal and toast, that's for sure....The danger comes in using high levels of cinnamon supplements on a daily or regular basis, and also which type you are taking....

And while Sparky thinks cinnamon is helping with the blood sugar levels, the biggest impact on sugar levels thus far has been her bike riding....Sparky can't afford a gym membership, nor is she able to run or wants to run like some folks....But a simple bike ride (yes, she puts in some miles) on a hybrid bike, NOT a road bike, has been the biggest factor so far in affecting her blood sugar in a positive way. So dust off that bike of yours, and out you go! It can only help you feel better, lose some weight maybe, (Sparky has lost 13 pounds so far!) and help get those sugar levels down.
AND ----you never know what you might see...At least in Florida, it's pretty cool! Time for a bike ride.....Bye for now......
Two little sandhill crane chicks spotted on my last bike ride

Saturday, May 16, 2015

So How's Sparky's Diet and Type 2 Diabetes Coming Along?

To clarify right off the bat...Sparky erred in the diabetes diagnosis. She has type 2, not type 1  diabetes. She went back and reviewed the comments and caught the mistake in the blog.

Just in case you are wondering....Sparky feels the need to be accountable to her family AND herself, so by going public and talking about how things are going, maybe that will help someone else! So far, by picking up exercise and riding her bike more, (15 miles at least three times a week), cutting out regular Coke every morning, and starting to watch portions and carbs, Sparky has lost ten pounds. (And she doesn't eat a handful of peanut M & M's every day any more either, adds a helpful E.) How are the glucose readings going? Not the best that they can be...According to some information Sparky has gleaned from lots and lots of reading...SUGGESTED guidelines for acceptable glucose readings should be:
         Fasting level (first thing upon waking up after not eating for 8-12 hours since the night before)
         1 hour after a meal:  <160
         2 hours after a meal: <140
         3 hours after a meal: <120
         Bedtime:  120-150

Sparky is not sure whether this is for people just trying to get their numbers down and who aren't on medication yet (that's her), or if this is for people who are on some kind of diabetes medication. She will find this out at her next doctor's appointment. But for now, she is using these guidelines to keep a food diary and testing her sugar 4 times a day for the probationary period, looking for patterns and spikes in food ingested. Sparky has another three months till she goes back to the doctor to find out what her A1C level is and whether it's stabilized, lowered, or she's in big trouble. For anybody curious and new to diabetes information, your A1C level is a blood test that gives the doctor an idea of an average of glucose levels for the past three months. You don't fast for this particular test. When Sparky found out she had diabetes, the criteria was, said her doctor, anyone who is 6.5 or higher on their A1C test is Type 2 diabetic. THAT was Sparky's wakeup call. She was 6.5...She had read that usually a second test is run within a certain amount of time of the first one, and if the second one came out with 6.5 or higher, that was the official diagnosis. NOPE! says the doctor...You're there, you're diabetic.

Sparky has learned a few things...

1) She has to deal with the "Dawn Phenomena"....that is where your blood sugar rises in the wee hours of the morning even though nothing has been eaten. Everybody's blood sugar rises around 4-5 AM even if they are NOT diabetic. But in people with Type 2 diabetes, it jumps up more. Sparky's sugar is quite a bit above the fasting morning level, anywhere from 120-140...The reason for the blood sugar rise is people with diabetes don't have normal insulin responses to adjust for this, so they might see their blood sugar go up. Her body is making less insulin and more glucagon (a hormone that increases blood glucose) than it needs. Suggestions to combat this have been to get a little more exercise in the evening, or to eat a little protein snack right before going to bed. Sparky has tried the snack route, and sometimes it helps, and sometimes it doesn't. The hard part is figuring out the best snack. Sparky doesn't like eating after dinner, she NEVER snacks after dinner and hasn't for years. (WAIT A MINUTE! says E., wanting to clarify. WHAT ABOUT OUR ICE CREAM SNACK a couple of times a week?????) Uh, well, uh....yes, we do have occasionally, a little teeny tiny serving of Hagen Daz ice cream now and then. (WAIT A MINUTE!....interjects E. Don't you mean the big size tubs and not the little ones?) AHEM! Whose story is this, anyway? grins Sparky. As she ways saying, you know those little serving cups they sell at the grocery? That's USUALLY what we have if we want some ice cream. And actually, that HAS had a favorable effect on blood sugar the next morning. Guess that little bit (OK, a LOT) of creamery fat has helped. So ice cream is good sometimes, in small doses...Sparky has also tried nuts, cottage cheese, and a cheese stick to get that morning sugar level down (But not all together, haha.)

2.) Things that Sparky thought would make her blood sugar jump through the roof, haven't. Like having a meal at the Cheesecake Factory---big green salad, Vietnamese summer rolls (thin wraps with asparagus, rice, mushrooms, carrots and shrimp served with peanut sauce and teriyaki sauce) AND a slice of strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Barely a jump....

3) Eating leftover pizza for breakfast is a bad idea, a big jump in blood sugar....Eating pizza is bad  most of the time, although accompanied with a big green salad first helps. Sparky used to eat a half of a pizza, no problem. Now, it's two pieces, tops. steps, right? Sparky is NOT giving up pizza....And yes, she knows there are much healthier pizza options out there...whole wheat crust, totally veggie...well, not going that route for now, although we have done veggie pizzas before....Sparky is making changes, whole grain bread for sandwiches...cutting out half the bread on the sandwich....substituting water for fruit juices, making smoothies with spinach and almond milk and other good stuff, eating much smaller portions. Clam chowder, shrimp cocktail and white bread...that makes Sparky's sugar rise quite a bit. Sparky thinks it's the potatoes in the soup, the saltine crackers she just has to eat with the soup, and the cocktail sauce. Probably all the carbs and hidden sugars in the sauces...sigh....

4) Sparky has discovered that you can't make generalizations about a diet when you are working to get your blood sugar down. What works for some people is not going to work for others. For some, corn might be a trigger to higher blood sugar numbers, for others, it won't be. And there's hidden sugar everywhere! Ketchup, hamburger buns, sandwich bread.....processed foods (which Sparky is trying very hard to stay away from)...Surprising where you find sugar. Sparky saw on a nutrition label that there are 3 grams of sugar in Publix grocery's cottage cheese! Why in the world does cottage cheese need sugar!?? Sparky is reading food labels really closely. Is Sparky doing sugar free everything? No, because she doesn't normally eat much sugar anywhere in her regular diet, at least not any coffee with sugar, no sugar sweetened beverages, no more carrot nut muffins...sigh...Sparky thought she was eating a decent breakfast with one carrot nut muffin--lots of vitamin A in those! But too much fat and carbs. Now, about ice cream, she's putting her foot down on that. Not going sugar free ice cream. Let's tackle the really bad stuff first! Sparky was eating too much candy and drinking too much pop. So that's a's OUT!

5) Mexican food jacks up Sparky's sugar...she thinks it's the corn tortillas and the chips before the meal...(Her favorite meal is shrimp tacos with mango salsa) Sparky's sugar levels appear to be sensitive to corn. She is still learning what other restaurant meals are triggers. We'll have to keep testing different restaurants, she thinks...  (GROAN......) Guess who that was? :-)

You have to find a diet that works for YOU! Sparky talked to the nutritionist at her doctor's office, and it was like talking to a person speaking a foreign language. She wanted Sparky to try nut butters, tempe, bulgar, quinoa (Sparky tried that---no thank you!) and kept giving her recipes...(Oh, that was a mistake! laughs E.) Sparky kept telling her she hated to cook, but the lady wasn't listening very well. Sparky thinks the nutritionist was a vegan, nothing wrong with that, but as Sparky was formerly a meat, potatoes, and pasta gal from the midwest, we couldn't get on the same page and speak the same language! Sigh.....Sparky knows what to do to do better....If we're going to eat out...grilled stuff...salads with vinegrette dressing, but even that can have a fair amount of sugar in it....Cooking with olive oil...(if and when she cooks, grins E.)  Lean meats, less beef, more fish (ugh), smoothies with veggies and fruit...fresh fruit....lots of water....not very many diet drinks...She's on the right track, she thinks...We'll see what another month brings...(You can't tell Sparky very much on what to eat, she's a very picky eater!) Yes, that's true...sigh....But she is trying!

Sparky found this magazine which she really liked....Some great information, some USEABLE recipes, (don't hold your breath says a resigned Eldo)...and healthy living tips for anybody, not just for those who are dealing with diabetes.... more thing...You can buy an A1C test (2 tests in the kit) at Walmart for about 25 dollars. Sparky tested herself after two months, and she is at 5.7 according to the test, so she is encouraged to see that the weight loss and trying to watch her diet seems to be helping. But--the doctor's office is the official test, so next month will be the decision....Meds or no meds....Sparky is really hoping not to have to take medication and will try harder to lose a few more pounds and try harder on the diet aspect....She will report back on this subject at her Introduction to Medicare appointment in July.

UPDATE....Sparky went in for a recheck on her sugar levels, and her doctor is VERY happy with her results so far...Sparky's A1C level is 6.2, NOT what the Walmart test said, but the doctor was still ok with that. She said if Sparky can stay under 6.2 and fine tune her diet a little more, no meds will be needed. HOORAY! But it just goes to show, that you can't always rely on the little lab tests sold in stores and for something like this, you really need to be checking in with your doctor on a regular basis.  Sparky still needs an eye exam to make sure nothing funky is going on with her eyes with the high sugar diagnosis....Okay...NOW she can say, until next time......

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Close Encounters of the Alligator Kind

Sparky is at it again....Getting too close and personal with alligators...But not on purpose...(Yeah, right! says E. with consternation.) Well, the story goes like this...

Sparky was riding her bike through Lakewood Ranch, and there's a particular pond she has spotted an alligator every now and then. They are usually on the small side, NOT like this one which was in Sparky and Eldo's neighborhood pond just down the street from their house two days ago.

At any rate, Sparky stopped to take some photos of these really pretty marsh plants that are experiencing a resurge in blooms right now....She was really focused on these blooming plants.....
She looked up and in the distance, saw an alligator swimming in her direction...She didn't think anything of it. They move around in the water, and float for awhile.....She could tell that this one wasn't very big, so she kept taking photos of the plants.

The alligator kept coming. He was a young one, only about 2 feet long....Sparky wasn't worried. (Yeah, but they all have teeth! says a worried E.) The alligator was going to keep coming right to the water's edge, Sparky could tell, so she backed off a bit. She decided to get her bike between her and the gator, just in case. As she moved her bike to the left of the marsh plants, a few feet from the water's edge, the gator swung the same way. She moved to the right, the gator swung back. He was definitely not afraid of her, and definitely watching her movements. Normally, the little ones, if they are near the water's edge and a human comes within eyesight, they scuttle back into the water with a splash. Not this one! Even his eyes look very different from the normal lazy eyed gators we have seen.
Sparky decided this might be an aggressive little gator, AND possibly a hungry one. So she backed off even more and took her bike back to the sidewalk, watching behind her all the way, making sure the bike was between the pond and the sidewalk. The gator glided into the marsh, right up next to the flowering plant Sparky had been taking photos of.
Sparky decided it was time to get back on the bike and back on her ride, while she still could! :-)
BUT---curiosity tempted her to turn back and take one last look at the gator to see if he was still in position. This time, she used her zoom on her camera from a different angle. He was hidden at the VERY edge of the pond, close to the sidewalk. If anybody had decided to take a walk around the marsh to admire the plants....(AHEM! COUGH COUGH!) that gator could have easily surprised the heck out of them and perhaps taken a bite, giving new meaning to the words "ankle biter".
Sparky is learning about the habits and movements of gators, that's for sure! One more note about gator encounters....

Eldy was golfing with his buddies last week, and they observed a 8-10 foot gator laying with his head practically in the water, tail side out. Two buzzards were working on a meal on the ground behind and to the side of the gator, and all of a sudden that alligator whipped around so fast, facing the birds, the guys thought the gator was after the birds. Nothing happened but the startled birds were hesitant to keep going after the meal on the ground after that. The guys said you wouldn't believe how fast that gator turned himself, it was a blur. Another golfing day, and somebody lost a ball in the woods. They were going to go after the ball when all of a sudden, a little alligator came dashing out of the woods making a beeline for the water on the other side. The fellas were VERY leery after that about going into the woods to look for lost balls. You don't expect to find a gator in the woods! But he was probably making his way across the greens, into a patch of woods directly in his line of sight of water, and so, no worries, guys...probably won't encounter a gator again in the woods. Now, the golf course? That's another story for another day.....