To Share Or Not Share; That Is The Question Of A Diabetic Healthcare Journey

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Ever since last July, I have been on a healthy quest to get control of my glucose levels. My confession is that I am a type 2 diabetic and have been so since 1997. It ran in the family on my dad’s side, but it wasn’t until a few years before I was diagnosed that I knew it was a family history thing on my dad side. Had either of us known beforehand our eating habits might have changed much earlier.

needles and insulinIt was because my dad’s revelation that we started to find out that many other people on his side of the family we’re diabetic. It’s strange to think about it when you hear it being discussed so often in today’s world, but the diagnosis of diabetes used to be very scary. It was scary to the point that people didn’t talk about it publicly, if at all, and even then only in hushed tones. It was considered a death sentence, and the only question was how it would manifest itself and how quickly.

At this point, people can live fairly normal lives with diabetes because medication has gotten better and ideas for how to exercise and eat healthier have become more refined. Every once in a while someone comes out with a new standard that seems a bit too aggressive and ridiculous for some of us who have been diagnosed for so long, but it is what it is.

So, at least since 2007, I have been open about my diabetes. I don’t wear it like a badge on my sleeve, but I talk about it because I feel that it’s a public service to share with others the types of things that can happen that are either out of your control or are based on some of the behavior you exhibit.

For instance, there’s not a lot of people who are told about depression related to diabetes when one’s numbers get too high. I’ve gone through this many times in the past, and it can be crushing until you figure it out.

Something else they don’t necessarily talking about are all of the areas that can be affected in your body when your numbers are too high. For me, it was my eyes that were affected that led me to find out I was diabetic, and later I started having aneurysms there.

Finally, there’s even less talk about the lows that one can have because of diabetes and how that affects you. This can happen when you start controlling your numbers too good, and you can feel dizzy and shaky and it can affect your ability to think straight.

Buy a sneaker. Help Cure Diabetes! Manny Hernandez via Compfight

Sure, some are going to say there’s a lot of literature out there and that might be true, but I can tell you that none of this was ever told to me when I was diagnosed. It’s only been over the years where I learned about these things, many by trial and error, that I finally started to learn more about its negative effects.

I share my tales and I share other things here and there. For instance, the biggest misconception people have about being diabetic is that there are foods you’re not supposed to eat. Trust me, you can eat anything you want to, but you have to be willing to do a few things.

One, you have to make sure you’re eating in moderation. That might mean measuring your food, or it might mean eating more healthy food that allows you to eat more because it’s lower in calories.

Two, you have to exercise and make sure you’re taking your medication on a regular basis. Diabetes cannot be cured except for those people who qualify for bariatric surgery and decide to go through with it. If they follow the strict regimen that’s been given to them after surgery, it seems that it does reverse all traces of diabetes. For the rest of us though, its irreversible so don’t fall for any ads that say they can cure it; they can’t.

I can’t say I write about it all that often, but I do talk about it every once in a while on my blogs. I mention different things that I do on Facebook, and I share information in my Diabetes Facebook support group. Facebook and Twitter are the ultimate places for sharing things that are going on in your life.

The thing you can’t control is how people will react to some of the things you say, and then you have to work on controlling your reaction to their reaction of what you decide to share.

This brings us to the question of the day, which is whether it’s better to share or not share. I have two opinions on that, which I’m going to explore.

Diabetes Awareness RibbonCreative Commons License Melissa Johnson via Compfight

First, sharing is definitely a much better thing to do than to keep everything in the dark and hide underneath the covers. As Dr. Phil says, you can’t fix what you won’t acknowledge. Diabetes is one of those diseases where, for most of us, we can at least work on it to keep it under control. We can also offer both positive news based on what we’ve done as well as cautionary tales for those who might not be doing what they should be doing.

Second, there might come a point where sharing things that you like, with everybody knowing you’re a diabetic or something else in your personal life, might be a bit too much. When I was traveling a lot for work I was going to different restaurants on almost a nightly basis. Whatever I ordered I would take a picture of, put it up on Instagram, and often share it on Facebook. I thought this was just having a bit of fun, showing people what different foods look like in different places, sometimes foods I was familiar with that look different because I was in a different place.

Instead, many people would comment and say things like “I thought you were diabetic”, “should you be eating that”, and other things like that. At a certain point I got tired of hearing those questions almost every time I posted something so I stopped posting those pictures. You remove the catalyst and it takes all the steam out of people. Sure, it also kills some of the enjoyment, but I did and still do enjoy taking the pictures and going to see them on Instagram, where nobody criticizes or comments on what I might be eating.

What you also find is that you’re never sure what people are going to comment on. A few days ago, I decided to add to my health quest by trying to reduce my caloric intake to try to lose some weight. Because I walk a lot (averaging between 17,000 – 20,000 steps a day), I drink a lot of water.

Sunday night I happen to mention that I had walked 17,000 steps, ate 1500 calories, and consumed 26 cup of water. I thought nothing of it, but a lot of people were shocked to see that I had drank that much water. First we have people who think you’re not drinking enough water, and then they start to freak when they think you’re drinking too much water.

BrothersCreative Commons License Juan Andrés López via Compfight

I have to admit I didn’t see that one coming, but I drink when I’m thirsty and when I’m eating, and other than tracking it on my MyFitnessPal application, I don’t think much about it. Once again, I was sort of irked by the attention to something I thought was a throwaway comment. Yet, because so many people commented on it I went and did some research on it.

I found that scientists and physicians believe the maximum amount of water most people should consume in a day is between 14 to 17 cups. I have to admit I didn’t see that one coming, but in retrospect there’s 16 cups in a gallon, and a gallon of water every day is pretty high. Trust me, I easily drink more than that on a regular basis… now I have something to think about that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t said something to the crowd.

In closing, I’ll say that the answer to the question about sharing or not should depend on what your goals are, or your reason for doing it. If you’re doing it to show off, that’s not always a good idea. If you’re doing it because you want to help people, that’s always a good idea. If you’re doing it for your own motivation, I think that’s a good idea but it could come with consequences. I think I’ve also shown that you might learn something that could keep you out of danger.

We don’t always get comments like “way to go” or “I’m happy for you, keep pushing forward”. That’s just the nature of the beast; you can’t please everyone, and you can’t have your expectations of others being too high.

Those are my thoughts. What do you have to say?  

The Pressure Of Too Many Dessert Choices

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This past Wednesday I walked into my local Wegmans on Route 57 intent on buying one of their small Ultimate chocolate cakes. Wegmans serves them 3 ways; the large cake for $16, the small for $8.50 and by the slice at $3.75. For me, the best part of the cake is always the frosting, and the small cake gives you the best frosting to cake ratio. :-)

Ultimate chocolate cake

the cake in its container

My first stop was picking up the cake. I had other things on my mind that I knew I had to buy but I took the slight deviation from my normal pattern and decided to grab the cake first. Usually I’ll walk along the prepared foods section to see if they have soup I like but it’s not the season for my favorite soup so I bypassed it; I don’t change routines all that often.

As I kept walking along, I eventually ended up by the bulk section, where candies, chocolates, granola and nuts reside. However, on this day there was a major change. It seems the day before this particular Wegmans decided to upgrade the bulk section to be like the Rochester area stores… which means they added a bunch more candy and streamlined the entire area. Oh no, the horror!

candy01The horror part is because I have a major sweet tooth. I bought the cake with the intention of cutting it into 4 pieces and portioning it out to myself, based on my recent good behavior. I was also thinking about buying some Breyers lactose-free light vanilla ice cream, though I was going to save it until I’d finished the cake, which would be in 4 days.

Now, suddenly, I had candy that hadn’t ever been sold at my particular store sitting in front of me, taunting me… it was too much! My eyes popped, my mouth salivated, and my brain… well, it kind of froze. I had way too many things going at once; what to do… what to do…

First, this doesn’t only happen in the dessert area; matter of fact, it rarely happens in the dessert area because, before Wednesday, there were only a couple of things I’d ever buy. Often, my consternation comes up when I’m debating myself on which foods to buy that I can cook and eat all week, or at least for a few meals. When I have this issue I’ll usually just stand in the aisle and think… sometimes upwards of 5 minutes.

candy02It might not seem all that critical to a lot of people but I’m not only trying to economize but only want to cook once… and I want to get it right. A couple of times I’ve messed up by forgetting something, and I try to avoid that happening.

This time, sweets, desserts, wonderful treats… what to do… what to do…

Luckily, this Wegmans has a bench in the frozen foods area; I have no idea why they have it there but I’ve always figured they put it there for me because I’ve sat there a few times contemplating my food purchasing choices. With all the sweets on my mind, I needed time to think, and, unlike the food aisles, there wasn’t enough room now to stand in the candy area without blocking access.

I sat on the bench and started thinking and calculating. It wasn’t going well initially and, of all things, I saw my friend Kelvin pushing a cart. That was shocking because he lives near a different Wegmans and I’d never seen him in my store before, but he was buying some things for a picnic that was at a portion of Onondaga Lake near where I live.

I told him my issue and his suggestion was to put the cake back and just walk out of the store. Silly man! Put the cake back and just walk out the store with nothing? Didn’t he know me better than that? He walked away to pay for his items and I continued sitting there, thinking…

I sat there at least 10 minutes. At one point a Wegmans manager came by to check something and asked if he could help. I told him my dilemma that was caused by the new candy area and he told me they’d just put it in the day before, which explained why I hadn’t noticed it when I was there a couple days earlier.

20150819_151638_resizedEventually I came to my decision. I already had the cake and I didn’t want to walk all the way to the bakery to put it back. I also realized that if I bought the candy the way I usually do, in sample sizes, that in my present state of mind I’d have bought so many bags of stuff that it would cost more than the small cake, and that, unlike the cake, it was truly pure sugar (I mean, they now have candy corn and those candy pumpkins… the horror!), and I wasn’t prepared for that kind of sugar rush. I also realized that it didn’t make sense to buy ice cream that I expected I wouldn’t get to until 4 days later; why take up the space in my freezer right?

Once I made the decision my life was easy. I moved on, bought the other things on my list, paid for my items and left the store. Because I share a backyard with Wegmans it’s not unusual for me to stop there almost on a daily basis for small things, but I haven’t been there for a couple of days by now. However, because of the dessert “pressure”, instead of cutting the cake into 4 slices I only cut it into 2 slices. That means I had two major sugar rush days anyway… but it was glorious! lol

I should be fine from this point on. Now I’m prepared for the candy area and, knowing that stuff will be there from this point on, I know I can sample a few things here and there instead of going hog wild and buying everything all at once. That’s a good thing because, of all things, it seems they’re now selling some brand of chocolate covered potato chips that I’m going to have to try; oy!  

Living In One Building In Tokyo

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A couple of weeks ago there was this story about a town in Alaska called Whittier. It was an interesting tale because almost all the residents in the town live in one 14-story building. The school, grocery store, church, hospital and a host of other things are contained in the same building. Here’s the link to the story.

GreenPark001JapanI found it more interesting than a lot of other people might have because when I was a kid I lived in a similar place. It was called Green Park, and it was in Tokyo, Japan. It was where families lived when their husbands (that’s how it was at the time) were stationed at Tachikawa Air Base. I lived there from June 1963 to June 1966.

The picture above is the only picture I can find from back then, and I found it online. It wasn’t actually legal at the time to take pictures of the outside of the main building at the time so I have no idea who got this one, but since it’s the front of the facility it might have been fine.

We were pretty much totally self contained. It consisted of at least six 3-story apartment units that were attached by a central facility so that we didn’t have to actually go outside if we didn’t want to. For the most part everything we wanted or needed was inside: commissary (grocery store), BX (base exchange), church, ice cream parlor, pool hall, both an officer’s club and NCO (non-commissioned officer) club, and lots of other things. While Dad was gone during the day Mom worked in Special Services; actually, I can’t remember the name but she wore a uniform.

In the 3 years I lived there, I spent most of my time in this building. Of course, unlike Alaska, we could go outside more often than they can there. The facility had an outdoor pool, which I only visited once ever, probably because some idiot decided to push a 4-year old me off a diving board into the water and call that “teaching” me how to swim; I never learned.

I went to kindergarten and first grade to a school that was just off the base so that Japanese kids could come. We walked to get there, following a gated path, walked out the back gate and pretty much walked into the school. I learned how to read at 3 and, because we had a Japanese housekeeper I’d learned Japanese, I was picked to be the translator for some of the Japanese kids, none of whom spoke any English; I never learned how that would eventually work out. If you ask me it partially went horribly wrong because instead of passing along lessons I talked and joked with the Japanese kids all day, and none of the teachers knew what we were saying to each other since all the teachers were American.

Dad_Me_July_63_TokyoBecause I spoke with the Japanese kids, they’d invite me to come play with them. This was somewhat problematic since we were supposedly contained within the base, including barbed wire. However, I was young and small and pretty self sufficient, so without anyone’s knowledge I used to climb the fence, slide under the barbed wire, and go visit my friends. It seems everyone was so certain that we were protected and contained that no one ever figured it out; I didn’t tell my parents until I was in my 30’s. lol

With kids on the base, we could play outside between the buildings. There was no big field for all of us to play on, but luckily there were strips of grass where, because we were small, we could play. I have no idea where older kids played; it was such a different life back then.

It was a self contained community where, for the most part, we kept to ourselves except for special excursions into Tokyo and surrounding areas. I got to visit Mount Fuji. I got to visit the Ueno Zoo. I got to see the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra 1 1/2 times (there’s a story there but I’ll save for later lol). And I got to ride the high speed trains a few times, which were like above ground subways.

In any case, it was a self contained living space where we all lived and hung out with each other, with the military trying to make sure the civilian population was safe; obviously someone needed to keep a better eye on me.

By the way, the reason it was called Green Park is because it was located in the city of Musashino, which stands for “green park”; fitting isn’t it? 😉  

How Would You Solve The Great Northern Problem?

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It’s interesting to note that Destiny and Great Northern opened close to the same time. From where I live, I’m about 10 minutes from each of them. I’ve gloried in the success of Destiny and worried about what looks like the demise of Great Northern. In my mind, both malls should be doing well, but they’re not.

gn01Many of the pundits believe that Destiny sucks the life out of any other mall in the area. I’m not sure that’s a fair enough statement. After all, Great Northern thrived for a very long time, and only within the last 7 years or so seemed to have fallen on the worst of times.

I’ll admit that on this one I might be out of my league, and there’s possibly no saving it. Yet, if I had my shot (and a little bit of money) here’s a few things I’d at least try to do with it.

1. The mall is missing a major anchor store in the old Bon Ton location, which hurts one end of the mall drastically. I’d take that space, chop it in half, and try to bring in two top tier exclusive garment stores, one for men and one for women. I don’t remember if there’s ever been a men’s store in the mall but having one of each right next to each other in a large space but not overly large would add some spice.

Having said that, since I’m not in the industry and hate shopping for clothes (plus a little older) I’m not sure who I’d try to bring in, but by top tier I mean exclusive, someone who’s not already in the area and is known for top quality items. Anyone have ideas?

2. The mall has only ever had one nice restaurant, which was Ruby Tuesdays. There’s also a food court that includes Friendly’s. In my opinion, with only the one food option, and in the area of the mall where there was little traffic, there was little driving people to consider it as a place where consumers could come to get a great meal and then shop… which is what Destiny has done in the new part of their mall.

If I had my way, I’d have had at least 5 to 7 restaurants in there. I’d have had a restaurant across from Ruby’s, two restaurants down by Sears, one by Macy’s and the other two… I’d have found places for them. Once again, something different than what we already have (one would have had to be Ruth’s Chris; please, someone get a Ruth’s Chris up here), maybe two or three of them being local. They’d all have to offer something different, which means ethnic I assume, not just being “comfort food” places.

The thing about that is it would get the people coming from Oswego County and the areas around Baldwinsville and Cicero and all parts in between to consider going there instead of bypassing it for Destiny; choice always does that.

3. The days are gone where I’m a major fan of live music other than a few major acts and symphonic music. Still, live concerts draw people, and weekends are the strongest time for malls to succeed.

Therefore, I’d create a space where I could have at least 2,000 seats for concerts, which would highlight local acts and up and coming national acts of all types. You wouldn’t only have to have the concerts on the weekends, but that would be a way to drive people to the mall. Also, a deal could be made with the newly created restaurants in the mall to have kind of a dinner and show package, which would benefit both sides.

If there’s not already a preexisting area (my original thought would have been to close a couple of the theaters and turn it into a show area) then move some of those cars that Fuccillo has sitting in a parking lot, build a showcase in part of that space while making sure it’s still attached to the existing mall.

4. This is a different type of thing, but it’d be what’s needed. I’d give not only the new residents but the existing residents a tax break. New residents would get 10 years while the existing folks would get 5. Destiny got a major tax deal that should be offered to other malls, and I think Great Northern could benefit from something like that.

That’s all I have for now, just to get started. I’m not sure if it’d be feasible but they’re ideas anyway. Do you have any ideas you think could help, or are you resigned to just closing another mall and leaving Destiny as the one and only place in the area?  

5 Takeaways From The Asia Food Market In Syracuse

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I’m going to own up to this right from the beginning. This is written from the viewpoint of someone who admits he’s not used to a lot of things. It’s kind of a tongue in cheek review of the new Asia Food Market on Erie Boulevard. I say that because I can’t actually review it, since… well… it’s easier to just have you read what I’m going to write below, which might explain it all. Five takeaways; let’s begin.

20150712_1605451. The first thing you notice is the “scent”. That’s a nice way of putting it. I walked through the doors and… wow! I wasn’t expecting that I must admit. I knew after a few seconds that it was the smell of fish; what kind of fish I couldn’t tell you since I’m not that kind of connoisseur. After about a minute I got used to it; I think we all learn how to do that, especially if we had parents that smoked at some point.

2. Forget recognizing most things. I immediately knew I was out of my element. When I first walked through the doors I recognized half of the produce to my right. Directly in front of me were different types of Asian sauces. The only reason I know this is because some of the names I knew from Wegmans… just not a lot of them.

The thing is, since it’s an Asian market most everything you see is in some kind of Asian script. I used to speak Japanese as a child but I never learned how to read it. Thus, I couldn’t tell you if I was looking at Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, or anything else. I wouldn’t have even known what to ask for.

3. They serve food… but… Back in the mid 2000’s, I was walking around Chinatown for the first time when I saw what my mind interpreted as “dinosaurs” hanging in the windows. I figured out later that those were either chickens or ducks; I was never curious enough to get close.

Well, I had my opportunity on my visit here and… as soon as I saw whatever it was hanging by its neck I dropped my eyes and not only couldn’t look, but I couldn’t even contemplate eating anything there. That’s definitely a stupid American sensibility but I’m one of those people who won’t eat anything that looks like the animal it is. Therefore, I can’t even tell you what else they might have had on the menu.

20150712_155822What I do remember though was looking at a couple of the desserts. I remember the Hello Kitty cake, which is in the picture here, and what looks like those colorful macaroons I’ve seen on Instagram. I’ve always said I wanted to try one of those but after seeing the hanging bird… totally left my mind.

4. There are way more types of rice than what I ever knew. My original intention for going was because I wanted to buy whatever type of rice they use in Chinese restaurants to make their fried rice with. I was hoping that something would stand out and say “buy me”.

Instead, what I found was there’s at least 50 different varieties of rice, and that was just on the shelves in front of me. Goodness, my knowledge of rice is so limited! And almost all of them were in an Asian script, so I didn’t have a chance. I also didn’t want to be “that guy” who walked over to one of the folks working there and asking them the question… that not only didn’t seem proper, but I had a feeling that either I might not be understood or that I’d be given lots of different choices… then what would I have done?

Just to add this, not everything was written in some kind of Asian language, but based on what some things turned out to be I wish they were. Frankly, I’m thinking that if someone had been filming me they’d have enjoyed the facial double-takes I had with a lot of things. Such a stupid American…

5. The last thing that kind of shocked me isn’t that there were more than just Asians in there… though not lots. What shocked me was the number of Africans. I kept wondering if they knew how to read Chinese or Japanese or just recognized certain things. I’d say at least 25% of the customers that were there when I was were African.

Also, much different than Americans, I hardly heard any of them speak, even when there were more than 2 of them together. Goodness, I talk to myself whenever I’m in a store, and two or more of us together… there’s hardly any shutting us up! lol

I had no expectations going in other than I thought it might be kind of exotic. I guess that part is true. I can’t see myself going back, not even for the macaroons, unless one day I have a specific yearn for something. However, I’m thinking I might need to know what that something is first.  

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