Posted by: kellydh | October 17, 2007

Diabulimia at “Changing Diabetes”

A fellow diabetes advocate and friend, Alex from Australia, has written a really eloquent post on his new blog, “Changing Diabetes.”  He discussed diabulimia, which Wikipedia describes as “people with Type 1 diabetes who omit their insulin injections for the purpose of weight loss.”

As a person with type 1 diabetes, this does hit close to home.  When diagnosed, type 1’s lose a lot of weight, and that small, light, thin figure can be addictive and desired in today’s world of over-advertised 6 foot 110 lb models.   So, in an attempt to put off weight gain, type 1’s mimic life before diagnosis and spike blood sugars by not taking insulin.  They then lose weight, and see success in their efforts.

In a lot of ways, as I experienced, it is about control.  Being diagnosed with diabetes, especially as a teenager, can lead to really strong feelings of loss of control.   Weight is something that be “controlled” by diabetes, instead of having diabetes control your life.  Being on multiple daily injections, a strict diet and gaining weight for your efforts can be hard to deal with.  So, these people react the way they know how.

Diabulimia is extremely dangerous, however.  Any and every effort should be made to attempt to help these people before they cause themselves serious harm.  Any time blood sugars are high, there is the risk of future complications.  And that risk is certainly not worth a *supposedly* svelte figure.

Anyway, check out Alex’s article.

Posted by: kellydh | October 15, 2007

one month.

I’ve been back home for a month now.  A whole month.

A month of sleep, of time with my cat, and a month of book-reading.

Also a month of anxiety, of regret and of too much time alone.  I had the chance to go back.  I should have.  I couldn’t.

A month is too long for introspection when it’s hard to look at yourself.  And I have several more to survive before I can go back.

Emotional well-being is just as important as physical.  Yet time and time and time again I forget that and make the stupid, rational choices.

Why did I do this?

Posted by: kellydh | October 13, 2007

LGBT rights and diabetes

Warning, this post is a day or too late. Oops

Last week was National Coming Out Day (11 October) here in the states. I think it was the 20th anniversary of the day, when people are encouraged to talk about LGBT issues and visibility. It’s a good thing, and I firmly believe that increased visibility of these issues is the key to acceptance in this country.

Wait, isn’t this a diabetes blog? Why, yes. It is. What on earth does coming out day have to do with diabetes? I’ll tell ya.

Healthcare accessibility and rights.

Yup, even gay, lesbian and bisexual people are affected by diabetes, trust me. But, in this country, it can be very difficult to be covered under a partner’s insurance unless the two of you are legally married. Which isn’t exactly easy to do for same sex couples in the states (unless you’re in Massachusetts. I hear it’s nice there).

The lack of domestic partner health benefits in most employer-determined health care insurance plans has an obvious negative effect on same-sex partners and their families.  Diabetes is the most expensive disease in this country, and LGBT people with diabetes are often caught between a rock and a hard place.  Stay-at-home moms and wives regularly receive health benefits from their husband’s job – but often cannot receive the same treatment from their wife’s job.

In Alaska last year, this very issue came up in state politics, as certain lawmakers felt it necessary to legally discriminate against LGBT people by restricting health care benefits to straight married couples only.  Regardless of personal morals and beliefs, and beyond the fact that this is a clear case of personal religious ideas playing far too strong a role in politics, this is an issue of equal work/equal pay.

People with diabetes and other health issues who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, deserve the same access to health care as their straight counterparts.  The diabetic child of a same sex marriage has an equal right to treatment, regardless of which parent holds the job with health insurance.  It is incredibly sad to me to see this obvious inequity in the supposed land of the free.  Until we treat all families with the dignity and equality they deserve, we will only be serving to hurt our fellow Americans.

Diabetes care is a basic human right, for all people.

Posted by: kellydh | October 9, 2007

Blast from the past

Found this today:

A blog post about an old project that I was working on with a friend last year.  A book of stories about life as a twentysomething with diabetes, something that I desperately could have used back when I was diagnosed as an awkward 16-year-0ld.  Busy schedules, school and what not all kept the idea from coming to fruition.

But, as this has been a dream of mine for five years now, perhaps this project has hope for the future…

Posted by: kellydh | October 6, 2007

Making changes for the better

In a previous post, I ranted on and on ad noseum about the recent activity in Washington DC concerning the S-CHIP bill to expand health care funding for kids. Basically, President Bush’s veto of the bill left me feeling despondent about the future of health care for today’s youth and young adults.

So, I thought I’d look around for some groups that are working to change the outlook of the future. Most of them are state-specific, but the ideals they espouse can be used all across the nation. Here’s a look at some groups making changes in health care accessibility for the better:

Health Insurance for All Alaskans: S160 the bill that could make it happen

From the website FAQ, the bill is described as:

This bill would establish the Alaska health care board, which would oversee the Alaska health fund and the Alaska health clearinghouse. The main goal of this bill is to have all Alaskans secure insurance by making basic health care plans affordable. Under the bill:
  • The Alaska health care board will define essential health care services and certify private plans which meet the basic criteria
  • The Alaska health care fund will enable all Alaskans to purchase insurance, giving vouchers on a sliding scale to those who simply cannot afford insurance on their own.
  • The Alaska health care clearinghouse will provide information about health insurance products and will oversee the transfer of vouchers from the fund to an insurance provider, selected by the individual.
  • I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this bill. While I certainly believe that it is a step in the right direction, I am worried about how “essential health care services” will be determined, and if that will mean a decrease in health standards for some.

    We Can Do Better : the effort in Oregon on behalf of the Archimedes Movement to pass the Healthy Oregon Act

    Members of the Lewis & Clark College Health Culture and Society club that I help run at my school have been a part of making this reform group grow. Created by former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, the Archimedes Movement works to enact legislation to provide universal health care as a basic right for all citizens, beginning with the Healthy Oregon Act. Do check out their site — this is a great movement that is worthy of recognition and praise.

    Here’s an excerpt from the website:

    We Can Do Better at getting health for the dollars we spend on health care. We don’t have to startrotatephp.jpe from scratch; we have great expertise in this country to learn from. We have to start by asking “what do we need in order to achieve better health, and how can we design a system that actually gets us there?”

    We started by asking ourselves, “If anything were possible, how would we design a new health system?” If we weren’t constrained by the system we have today – the one we all know isn’t working – what would a new, better system look like?

    We want a system that is just and fair, that provides a benefit to all of us, and where everyone shares in responsibility. The system has to be affordable over the long haul and reward prevention and effectiveness. And the average person must understand how decisions are made.

    Health Care For All : Initiative in Massachussets to reform health care

    Mission statement:

    HCFA seeks to create a consumer-centered health care system that provides comprehensive, affordable, accessible, culturally competent, high quality care and consumer education for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. We work to achieve this as leaders in public policy, advocacy, education and service to consumers in Massachusetts.

    Community Catalyst :

    “Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization working to build the consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the American health system.  We believe that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice.

    “From Oregon to Orlando, Community Catalyst strengthens organized consumer voices wherever important decisions about the health system are made: in communities when hospitals go up for sale; in courtrooms where consumers challenge the illegal practices of drug companies; and in statehouses when advocates strive to win improvements in health care programs.”

    Families USA :

    “Families USA is a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.”

    Basically, it’s a national organizational center for public health action, advocacy and awareness organizations.  There’s too much for me to describe here, just go to the site and check it out!

    Have fun exploring a world of change. 🙂

    Posted by: kellydh | October 5, 2007

    What now for health insurance?

    President Bush, as promised, has vetoed the S-CHIP bill. Sadly enough, I can’t say I’m surprised, but I also can’t say I know where to start with my utter disappointment in this move.

    Seriously, President Bush: why? The bill garnered overwhelmingly deserved support in the Senate, only to be shot down by one of the few Americans that has no idea what it means to be faced with a true lack of health care and insurance. Will he ever know? Of course not.

    Obviously, he didn’t read this article, and somehow failed to acknowledge the serious issue of un-insurability in this country.

    The president had this to say in defense of his veto, as an explanation why explaining health care coverage for youth in our country is a bad thing:

    “Democratic leaders in Congress want to put more power in the hands of government by expanding federal health care programs. Their S-CHIP plan is an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care for every American.”

    Ummm…hate to break it to ya, but that’s almost exactly what I would say, word-for-word, in support of the bill. I suppose there is such a strong ideological divide that keeps me from seeing just how government-run health care for every American is actually a bad thing.

    Inequities abound in our country when it comes to availability to health care.  It seems to me that health care is no longer a right, but a privilege enjoyed by a certain few.  Yes, I am very aware that I am counted among those privileged few.  But what of the future?  I look forward only a year and I can see that situation changing drastically.

    Nearly 1/3 of Americans under 65 went without health insurance for a significant amount of time in the past few years, and the twentysomething age group is actually the least covered constituency in this country.  These people are no less American than upper class, white, straight businessmen, and they are valuable contributing members to society, yet are caught in the middle.  When did access to a the nearest McDonald’s become more of an American right than the chance to see a qualified physician?

    I support the expansion of S-CHIP, more children need to have access to more-than-adequate health care.  However, expansion of health care availability needs to include all Americans.  Are we not all taught that we are each entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  Life is a right, and by paying our dues to society (taxes in our culture), we rightfully expect some sense of meaningful return.

    Plus, think of how many health care dollars could be saved just by switching to a preventative medicine mindset.  Literally, millions and millions of dollars per year.

    President Bush, would you really deny your own children access to health care?

    Posted by: kellydh | October 5, 2007

    Do you know a diabetic in denial?

    If you do, and you like the idea of shoving that person on camera in front of millions of people to talk about how difficult living with diabetes is for them, head on over to Oprah’s website.

    tows_photoid_top.gifApparently, the Oprah show is doing an episode on diabetes, and wants to do an intervention for a “diabetic in denial.”

    I’m curious to see how this turns out.  I can see it being extremely traumatic for the person involved, but hopefully it’ll also bring up a lot of important information.

    No word yet on when the show will air, but I’ll be sure to mention it once I know.

    Posted by: kellydh | October 4, 2007

    A blue challenge

    Several more major cities around the world have answered the call!  Unite for diabetes is asking the world to light up in blue to celebrate World Diabetes Day on 14 November 2007.

    Besides the Sears Tower in Chicago and the Empire State Building in New York, the latest additions to the world-wide celebrations are:

    • The Sydney Opera House
    • sydney_opera_house_200px.jpg
    • The Tokyo Tower
    • tokyo_tower_blue_200px.jpg
    • Niagara Falls
    •  niagara_falls_blue_200px.jpg
    • The Buenos Aires Obelisk in Argentina
    • baires_obelisk_150px.jpg

    For more information go to

    Posted by: kellydh | October 3, 2007

    Alzheimers and Diabetes : linked?

    I know this isn’t exactly linked to youth…but it’s still interesting.

    Researchers at Northwestern University have found a possible link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes (namely, type 2 diabetes). Basically, the hypothesis is that the amyloid plaques that are correlated to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (namely dementia), are actually causing a new form of diabetes. These plaques are clumps of a toxic incorrectly cleaved protein that somehow inhibit neurons for correctly firing in the brain. The exact cellular action of this disease is not entirely known. So, these researchers now postulate that these plaques interrupt the insulin receptors in neurons that are required for correct synapse function.

    As they put it, “We found the binding of ADDLs [the amyloid plaques] to synapses somehow prevents insulin receptors from accumulating at the synapses where they are needed,” said William L. Klein, professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, who led the research team. “Instead, they are piling up where they are made, in the cell body, near the nucleus. Insulin cannot reach receptors there. This finding is the first molecular evidence as to why nerve cells should become insulin resistant in Alzheimer’s disease.”

    This sounds very similar to some cases of Type 2 diabetes, where insulin cannot correctly interact with the insulin receptors of target cells.  In stead, in this case, the target cells are specifically neurons.  So, can we possibly use some already-made type 2 diabetes medications to treat Alzheimer’s disease?  And, what does this mean for people who already have type 2 diabetes – are they more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or will they be more receptive to new diabetes-based treatment?  hmmmm

    The official press release from the lab is here at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center website.

    An interesting, and less technical article from Wired Science is here.

    Assuming you have training in molecular biology or biochemistry, you can read the abstract for the article here at The FASEB Journal.

    Posted by: kellydh | October 2, 2007

    From MSNBC: Twice as many obese in US as in Europe

    Okay, this I could tell from spending a semester abroad a couple years ago, but it still kind of surprises me:

    There are twice as many obese adults in the United States as there are in Europe.

    Twice. This statement comes from an article on that outlines a study done by the Emory University School of Public Health. Seriously, twice? Yup, they say, and this helps contribute to the massive amount of overspending in the United States when it comes to health care.

    What does that say about the future adults of our country? The children, both young and grown, of the nearly 33 million obese Americans, are at exponentially higher risk of settling into poor health as they become adults as well. Excess weight, especially obesity, is one of the main risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, some cancers, and more!  (See for more info on chronic disease as a true world-wide epidemic.)

    obesity_2001.gifAre we just destined to get bigger? Should we be content that we have the food resources to sustain such a large population, in all senses of the word? In ancient (and even not-so-ancient) times, size was sometimes viewed as a sign of wealth and prosperity. Now, though, the places have been switched. Excess weight can be seen as a sign of disadvantage – being unable to afford or find adequately nutritious food for yourself or your children.

    These days, though, it seems that everything is a risk factor for something. People living in cities are at higher risk for breathing issues (oh wonderful smog), while people living in the country have less access to health care and and have a whole host of other ” risk factors” to contend with. But, these risk factors are real. And, somehow, we must each parse out just which “risk factors” have the most play in our lives. Because, diabetes and cancer and lung disease are not maladies that I would wish upon anyone. There is no significant territorial/ecological difference between Europe and the United States that can account for this difference in waist size and pocket-book emptying when it comes to the health care system.  No, it seems to me to be more of an ideological difference, where preventative medicine, care and lifestyle is not practiced in the states nearly enough.  I am not saying we should copy all things European…they have their own host of problems, but I do believe there is something to learn from our friends across the pond.

    Until then, why don’t we try to remember our American ideals?  Have we forgotten the American dream of a house with a white picket fence, 2.5 health children and plenty of wide open spaces with which to play fetch with Fido?  I know the ’50s are long done and over, but maybe we can remember the old pioneering spirit upon which this country was forged and plunge into the modern wilderness of healthy living.  Go camping, eat organic, enjoy that vast amount of land that we hold over Europe.  Seriously…we have more room!

    Enough with the overture of metaphors.  Maybe we should just quit talking and learn to eat like French women.

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