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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Psychosocial'

Our Children will Rebel against Diabetes

September 20th, 2012 · No Comments

Young people in America today are getting type 2 diabetes much younger than their parents ever did. The media is ringing its collective hands over concern that this terrible trend will continue.

Even the good, gray New York Times is worried. “Obesity and the form of diabetes linked to it are taking an even worse toll on America’s youths than medical experts had realized,” Denise Grady, a Times science reporter, wrote earlier this year. In the 1990s doctors began to notice an “alarming increase” in type 2 diabetes among children, especially among those from poorer families.

When I began to write about diabetes in the mid-1990s we had a good reason for calling what we now call type 2 diabetes “adult-onset diabetes.” When a doctor told me in 1994 that I had it, I was 59, which was then the typical age of diagnosis. Now even children  as young as 5 get type 2.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Punishing Noncompliance

June 25th, 2012 · 2 Comments

In America our doctors and nutritionists talk about their noncompliant patients who have diabetes. In Hungary they are beginning to do something about those people.

You know when your medical advisors think you aren’t doing your best to manage your diabetes. Every time you go to their office they’ll tell you that your blood sugar level is too high. Or even when your level is fine, they’ll tell you that you are eating wrong.

They might give you a dirty look or two. They might tell you to shape up. But they won’t tell you to ship out.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Magnesium: The Magical Mineral

June 19th, 2012 · 1 Comment

We have know for years that many people with diabetes have too little magnesium in their bodies. So why don’t all of us take supplements of this magical mineral?

Everyone seem to recommend magnesium, mostly to reduce the insulin resistance and hence help counteract diabetes. But how much magnesium we have in our bodies is almost impossible to test, because most of it resides in our bones and very little in our blood, according to Dr. Barkat Charania in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He practiced orthopedic surgery for more than 30 years, now blogs at Dr. Barkat Charania, and helped me research this article.

Since our blood levels of magnesium don’t tell us if we have enough, researchers have reported few human studies, he told me. Still, he brought to my attention 41 studies of magnesium, most of them in relation to diabetes.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act

February 10th, 2012 · No Comments

A smile can make you happy. Particularly if it’s your own smile. Your smile can also cheer up someone else, at least for a little while.

I also maintain that happiness can make us healthier. For those of us who struggle every day with our diabetes, staying happy goes a long way to help us manage it.

So, smiling can make us healthier. While the world has long known this, in our daily lives most of us usually fail to act on it.
Everyone from Nat King Cole to Thich Nhat Hanh has encouraged us to smile more. Nat King Cole, one of the greatest jazz pianists and baritones of the 1940s and 1950s, was the first to sing “Smile,” which was the instrumental theme for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin movie “Modern Times.”
One of my personal guides, Thich Nhat Hahn, is a Buddhist monk who was born in Vietnam and is peace activist who now lives in France. At many times and in many places he has talked and written about the importance of smiling.

“If in our daily life we can smile,” he writes, “if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.”

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Posted in: Psychosocial

A Passion for Diabetes

February 6th, 2012 · 1 Comment

If someone you care for has lost his or her enthusiasm, you can give the gift of inspiration this holiday season. And it’s free.

We all need a passion as a reason to live. Mine is a passion for diabetes. More precisely, I have a passion for helping people with diabetes.

My passion rebounds to help me as much as it does the people I try to help manage this terrible disease. Trying to set an example for others who have diabetes means that I have to walk the walk.

That’s because it leads me to get the exercise I need through my secondary passion to hike out in nature. In turn, a third-level passion for photography gets me out on the trail.

It’s also because my passion has led me to eat a very low-carb diet that helps keep off the pounds and thereby keep my A1C in the low normal range. A few years ago I weighed 312 pounds, exactly twice what I weigh today. My A1C ranges from 5.0 to 5.2.

I hope that you and your loved ones also find a way to help others while you are helping yourself. Any time when you teach or mentor other people much of the reward comes back to you.

Now, you can give yourself and your friends an e-book that is all about passion — including mine. Jenny Pavich and Jannick Kjaer have just published “The Passionate Life: 16 Stories of People Who Dared to Risk.” This is a collection of interviews with 16 people who ranged in age from 20 to 75. I was the 75-year-old when they interviewed me, although I am now a year older. You can read their interview with me on pages 86-90. A bonus (so to speak) is three photographs that other people took of me, including one taken before I controlled my weight and my diabetes. This is one ugly photo!

To read “The Passionate Life” you do not need to have an e-book reader or spend any money. It is a PDF at that you can download and read on your computer or print out and send out to others by email. Jenny and Jannick are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, and they encourage us to share their work.

A street urchin in Guatamala named Julio inspired them with his love and generosity. Julio triggered something in Jenny and Jannick. You can continue to pass on his gift when you pay it forward.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.


Posted in: Psychosocial

Mind over Health

December 12th, 2011 · 1 Comment

“A sound mind in a sound body,” was something my father regularly emphasized to me. My father and I understood that this Latin aphorism, originally “Mens sana in corpore sano,” means that only a healthy body can produce or sustain a healthy mind.

Many years later I still think what my father taught me is true. Like many people who manage their diabetes, I now have both a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Before I learned in 1994 that I have diabetes, I paid little attention to my health. I learned the hard way that I have to get off my butt and outside for the exercise that we all need. After my wake-up call, I took control of what I ate, turned away from the Standard American Diet, and lost a lot of weight.

One result is that I am happier and have a better memory than ever. Even though I recently celebrated my 76th birthday, my mind seems to function as well as it did years ago, if not better.

But we can also understand “A sound mind in a sound body” the other way around. Only a healthy mind can produce a healthy body.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Peer-to-Peer Healthcare

November 9th, 2011 · No Comments

Technology is making peer-to-peer healthcare a lot easier. That’s the main message from Susannah Fox, the associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

The Pew Research Center uses survey data to look at what is really happening online. This helps people make good decisions on valid data.

Ms. Fox was the closing keynote speaker at the Medicine 2.0 conference at Stanford University. With a scholarship from Stanford and further support from HealthCentral, I was able to participate in this outstanding three-day conference that concluded yesterday.

“What I am thinking about the most is peer-to-peer healthcare, Ms. Fox says. “So many people are learned from each other and not just from institutions. Peer-to-peer healthcare is the ancient instinct we have to seek and share information about health.”

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Seeking Happiness

October 28th, 2011 · 2 Comments

The highlight of day 2 of the the conference that I’m attending at Stanford University doesn’t seem to fit with the theme, Medicine 2.0. The most interesting speaker is a professor of marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. A social psychologist as well as a marketer, Jennifer Aaker is a Ph.D., not an M.D. She researchers time, money, and happiness, not medicine.

Jennifer Aaker

But Professor Aaker captured the most attention of the audience. I know because I watched the Twitter feed.

We are a wired, high-tech, social media-savvy bunch. Medicine 2.0 is an annual conference on using social media in medicine focusing on cutting edge technology. All of the 450 of us here at Stanford today followed along all the talks on Twitter and tweeted constantly.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Inside a Diabetes Support Group

October 24th, 2011 · 16 Comments

When I introduced two new friends in February 2008, I knew that both of them were committed to managing their diabetes. Each of them live near me in Boulder, Colorado, and had contacted me a month earlier.

Barry Erdman is a licensed clinical social worker who had learned the previous Thanksgiving that he had type 2 diabetes and told me he was already managing it quite well. Jeff R. said he had type 1 diabetes for 15 years and was then getting a graduate degree at Naropa University “with the expectation of helping fellow diabetics overcome issues that surround diabetes, particularly depression.” I had learned in 1994 that I had type 2 diabetes and have been writing about it ever since.

When we met in my favorite coffee shop on that cold morning, we connected. But none of us could imagine where that chance meeting would lead.

After more coffee shop meetings, we decided to meet monthly in my apartment. We invited other friends who also wanted to keep tight control over their diabetes. Gradually the group grew.

At first, I led the group, and we met when I would be in town. Eventually, the group outgrew my small apartment, and for the past year we have been meeting in the apartment complex’s clubhouse. Since I no longer had to be around for the meeting, we now meet regularly on the second Saturday of each month. Jeff now facilitates the meetings.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Medicine 2.0

October 20th, 2011 · 2 Comments

The Medicine 2.0 conference that began today gives me hope for medicine. The conference far exceeded my expectations. And now I even have hope for our health care system.

This three-day conference at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, brings together about 400 people, most of whom are health professionals. This includes about 20 of us who are “e-patients.”

This is a new and useful term that Tom Ferguson, M.D., coined. The term e-patients describes people “who are equipped, enabled, empowered, and engaged in their health and health care decisions.” That pretty well describes you and me!

Stanford University gave me a scholarship to come to the conference as one of the e-patients. And HealthCentral asked me to tell you about it. I networked with lots of people, including several friends who, like me, write about diabetes. One of my friends, Amy Tenderich, gave one of the first talks. In doing so she set the sort of positive tone that I use in all my articles.

“Negativity does not motivate,” Amy stated. “Positivity does.”

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Posted in: Psychosocial

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