Author: Amanda Mezer

“So Long, Farewell”

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s they say in the Sound of Music, “So long, farewell/Auf Wiedersehen, adieu/Adieu, adieu/To you  and  you and you.”  I have had the amazing privilege to contribute to this blog for the past two semesters.  This blog is a part of the Interdisciplinary Health Communication (IHC) Certificate I chose to pursue in addition to my Masters of Science in Public Health (MSPH).  Pursuing this certificate has provided me with the ability the take some very interesting courses; helping to further my goal to help advocate for others.  Communication is a vital tool needed for all careers.  I have learned so much and have enjoyed every moment.  Since completing this certificate means I will not be posting my blogs on Upstreamdownstream.org, I will continue “Type 1 Tuesdays” on typeonetuesdays.blogspot.com.

IHC Certificate Photo

As I reflect on the experiences I have had while earning my bachelor’s degree at Wake Forest University and my Masters of Science in Public Health at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, I realize how truly fortunate I have been to be able to pursue my dreams.  Next stop on my journey, law school!  I know that as humans, we have our strengths and our weaknesses, however, chronic diseases, like T1D, or other adverse circumstances should not limit our accomplishments.  So, “Climb every mountain/Ford every stream/Follow every rainbow/Till you find your dream.”  Pursue your dreams!

 

Photo: L to R: Joan Cates, Amanda Mezer and Seth Noar.

Six Steps to Success!

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s I prepare for my Master’s Paper presentation this week, I would like to take a minute and share some important information I would like you to reflect on.  My Master’s Paper is an analysis of a questionnaire I created about stigma, discrimination and self-stigma as it relates to T1D.  After reading many amazing comments by participants who took the time to answer the survey, I found some interesting points I would like to make.

  1. You are NOT alone! Others are experiencing similar situations.  Social media can be your friend to connect with others with T1D.
  2. There are laws to protect people with T1D. Title I and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protect people with disabilities in public settings, workplaces and schools.
  3. Be your own advocate! Stand up for what you need, how you treat your T1D and the choices you make as it relates to your T1D.
  4. Everything is finite! There are good times and there are bad times, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  You will take charge of this and be stronger because of it.
  5. Be supportive and tolerate of others. We each have our own struggles.
  6. You write your own story and choose your own path! You can say no or walk away if a situation is not right for you.  Stick to what you believe in.

As many of you may know, I am a huge Broadway musical fan. Kinky Boots the Musical contains what they call “Price and Simon’s Six Steps to Success” that have similar theme:

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  1. Pursue the truth.
  2. Learn something new.
  3. Accept yourself and you will accept others, too.
  4. Let love shine.
  5. Let pride be your guide.
  6. You change the world when you change your mind.

-“Raise Up/Just Be” song in Kinky Boots

Whether you follow my observations or those expressed in Kinky Boots, you will succeed and be amazing at whatever you do!

Guaranteed to Arrive Before You Leave the ER Waiting Room

Various mailing services guarantee your package to be delivered by a certain time – often the next day, but sometimes even the same day, but who knew a mother living three states away could be to you before you get out of the waiting room in the ER?  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I have been diagnosed with gastroparesis.  Last week, I spoke with my primary care, who said I needed to go to the urgent care associated with her practice, because I had been sick and not able to re-hydrate myself.  The doctor at urgent care said I needed to go the Emergency Room (ER) at Duke Hospital.  When I arrived at the ER, at 5:00 P.M., I called my mom at her office in Tampa, Florida and to tell her what was happening.  She said that she was leaving immediately and would get to North Carolina as fast as she could.  She had always said if I ever had a problem she would be to me within hours, but thankfully, I have never needed her to come in an emergency situation.  After checking into the ER, a nurse did an initial evaluation in triage and took me back to draw blood and put in an IV.  I was then left sitting in the waiting room in a wheelchair with two bags of IV fluids.  Around 11:00, my mom arrived at the ER shocked to find me still in the waiting room.  After another hour, my mom talked to one of the nurses who indicated that the 6 hours I had been waiting was actually a fairly short wait time for this hospital, as many patients have to wait 10 to 12 hours in the waiting room.  The nurse who finally took us back to a room in the ER, seemed very abrupt, but when my mom said that she was able to get from Florida to Duke ER before I was taken to a room, her stern face actually broke into a small smile.  Even she recognized the absurdity of this situation.  It is understandable that emergency rooms, especially those at major trauma centers, like Duke Hospital, where the most critically ill emergency cases are handled, could sometimes have long wait times.  However, if it takes over 6 hours to be seen when sent by two different physicians, and the normal wait time is 10 to 12 hours, what is wrong with our healthcare system?  How can we have people wait such long wait times for urgent care?  I am thankful for the services provided by Duke Hospital.  This blog is not intended to speak negatively about this hospital, but rather to make a point about wait times at hospitals in general.  Wait times in general, but particularly in the ER are another aspect of our healthcare system that seems to be broken and urgently needs to be repaired.  What have your experiences with emergency care been?  Have you had positive experiences when needing emergency care?

Type One Tuesdays: “May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor”

I’m sure many of you have read the book, watched the movie or are at least familiar with the plot of the book or movie series The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins. To recap, it is about a group of districts that each must pick a boy and girl representative to compete in the annual hunger games during the reaping, where all of the selected participants must compete against each other until only one participant remains living.   How does this relate to health and my weekly blog?

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is a battle no one asked for, but being diagnosed with T1D and living life with T1D is very similar to the reaping process in The Hunger Games, where Effie Trinket picked our names.  During the reaping process, the older a person is or if their family needs food assistance from the government, that person’s name is put into the lottery process additional times, thereby increasing his or her odds of being selected.  With T1D, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we are putting our names in more times to be picked for a complication.  However, just like the reaping process, a person with T1D can be picked even if his or her name is in only once, that being diagnosed with T1D.  One can do everything to take care his or her T1D correctly and still have complications.  So, we can all think of it as Effie Trinket is determining when we are diagnosed and saying to us every time we go to a doctor’s appointment, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

So, the moral of the story, or blog in this case, is that we are all in the hunger games in District T1D hoping that the odds are in our favor to not be selected to go to the Complication Games.  This is not say that we should not do everything we can to battle this disease and strive to be the one that is standing at the end of the game.  But, it also says that, to some extent, this is beyond our control and we should not be too hard on ourselves or blame ourselves when outcomes are not as we would hope.

Type One Tuesdays: “You Don’t Look Diabetic”

Many T1Ds may have heard the following statement: “You don’t look diabetic.” This past week, I was thinking about this statement. What are they really saying? What does a “diabetic” look like? Upon reflecting on this topic, my conclusion is that the person who made that statement is referring to the fact that many T1Ds are not overweight. How does one reply to that statement? Thank you?

I wanted to show that people with T1D are beautiful, amazing, strong, independent individuals. People with T1D have brown hair, blonde hair, black hair, blue eyes, brown eyes, hazel eyes and come in all races, shapes and sizes. No matter what their individual characteristics are, they are amazing. Should the response to the comment be “Oh really, I don’t look beautiful, amazing, strong and independent?”

On Facebook this past week, I asked my friends and the members of the T1D groups I am a member of to send me selfies or group photos of T1Ds. I wanted to highlight all of these beautiful people that took the time to help me show all of you what a T1D looks like. How would you describe this cohort of photos? From my perspective, there is no “look” of a T1D, but rather inner strength, confidence and struggles that cannot be seen from the surface that makes every person with T1D special and unique.

 

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**A video of beautiful people with T1D was shared by Dee Dee Diabetic on Facebook.***

All photos were provided and approved by the individuals.

 

Type One Tuesdays: Times Are A Changin’!

Do the days feel different now? It is a little darker when we wake up in the morning, but we get a little more daylight later in the day.  Most people living in the United States recently experience the change to Daylight Savings Time.  Every spring, we “spring forward” by moving our clocks forward and in the process, lose an hour.  In the fall, we will “fall backward,” turning our clocks back to their original time and recovering our missing hour.  While it is nice to have the extra daylight at the end of the day, our bodies take a little time to adjust to this change.  Most people report being tired or irritable the week after the time change.  This adjustment is especially true for people with T1d.  We not only have to change our clocks, we also have to change the time settings on our blood glucose monitors, continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps.  Those that use insulin pumps may need to change the settings as the insulin dosages are customized to specific times of day.  For people that travel, this adjustment does not only apply to time changes, if you travel over time zones, you may experience jet lag and have many of the same issues with your insulin pump.  There is controversy over the benefits of changing to Daylight Savings Time for the summer months, but for now, it is part of our lives.  So, take advantage of the extra daylight when you get home today.  How do you deal with time changes and your medication regimen?   

Type 1 Tuesdays: Oh No! Not Him/Her Too!

We all have fond memories of our Moms – whether it be their hugs, voices, cooking or just their amazing support. What is your fondest memory of your Mom? On a similar note, what comes to mind when someone says that name Emma Watson? Many may know this young talented star as Hermoine Granger, the female heroine in JK Rowling’s blockbuster movie series, Harry Potter, or the new Belle in the live Beauty and the Beast Production.  However, did you know that her mother has Type 1 diabetes?  Watson is now speaking out about how her mother is her hero, specifically because she has T1D.  Will we see more of Ms. Watson in other T1D advocacy movements in years to come?

Another British actor with even more personal ties to T1D is Jeremy Irvine, who stars in the film Warhorse. He has been a T1D since he was six years old and is actively involved in the bionic pancreas project.  In a quote on the JDRF website he said, “Thanks to the huge developments being made in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, no child should have to feel diabetes needs to stop them following their aspirations.”  These celebrity spokespersons spread awareness and understanding about T1D, helping all of us who live with this disease.  They are out heroes along with our mothers, both playing a major role in helping us successfully live with this disease.  Who is your favorite star with T1D?  Mary Tyler Moore? Halle Barry? Crystal Bowersox? Brett Michaels? Nick Jonas? Any others?

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Photo Credit: Steven Mezer (In Photo: Amanda Mezer and Karen Mezer (Mom)).

Type One Tuesdays: Conferences, Bonding and Life Long Friends…Priceless!

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As Spring Break approaches and, hopefully, with the snow days behind us, we eagerly look forward to and begin to make plans for summer.  Do you have a favorite place to visit during the summer or a conference to attend?  Over the summer, there are many interesting and fun diabetes camps and conferences.  Two major national conferences that occur over the summer are Students With Diabetes (SWD)’s National Conference and Children With Diabetes (CWD) Friends for Life Conference.

Conferences provided invaluable information, networking opportunities and lifelong friends for people with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).  There are informative sessions that provide information on the latest technology, inspirational and encouraging presentations by successful T1Ds and social activities that provide time to meet and bond with fellow T1Ds.  The relationships made at the conferences provide a great resource for support on the other 364 days of the year when you are not with people who understand your disease.  I met one of my closest friends at the SWD conference several years ago.  Attendees at the conferences relate to each other in a way that is rarely experience in any other setting.  The commonalities between attendees and conference events create an atmosphere for bonding over just a few days.  Even if you don’t keep in touch regularly, some of these people will cross paths with you at other conferences or through other aspects of your life.  Recently, I reconnected with a person, who I had met at a Friends for Life Conference many years ago, when we both participated in a national group project.  It was so great to have a familiar person in the group!  Additionally, when you go back the next year, it is like a family or high school reunion, with the opportunity to also meet new attendees or create stronger bonds with people from previous years.  The experience is priceless.  Are you going to any conferences or camps this summer?  What is your favorite memory?  Don’t let your summer go by without a conference or two to make life-long friends!  Hurry and sign up before registration closes!

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Type One Tuesdays: Celebrity Advocacates – You Can Be One Too!

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Krysta Rodriguez, Broadway actress and film star, added another credential to her name last week.  She began writing a blog about her journey with breast cancer, which coincided with her admission that she has breast cancer.  She uses her website, Chemocouture, to use humor and a very blunt approach to share her very difficult journey with cancer.  Since her announcement, there has been an outpouring of support from celebrities and fans.  In her blog, she describes her cancer.

“Now as far as cancer goes, I have the Cadillac of tumors. It’s slow growing, highly treatable and not really interested in spreading. My doctor calls it an “old lady cancer.” I always knew I was ahead of my time! Picture a lump sitting in a BarcaLounger eating Cheetos and enjoying the warm, cozy studio apartment I’ve been providing for it on Left Breast Lane.  No one would want to leave that, am I right?  Well, sorry buddy.  I’m the landlord from hell and it’s eviction time.”

Krysta Rodriguez is a true inspiration for people dealing with cancer or any chronic illness.  She is using her fame to make a difference in health of others, which is amazing and admirable.  Celebrities, discussing their health problems, can bring attention to topics many people may not have the courage to talk about.  This can be beneficial for other people with the same disease, but also for others who are supporting loved ones or just dealing with difficult life experiences themselves. Celebrities can help inspire and educate people dealing with the disease to be their own advocates and speak out like the celebrities do.  Krysta Rodriguez is not the first to be a celebrity health advocate.  Some other notable celebrities who advocate for their diseases are Michael J. Fox (actor, Parkinson’s disease) and Nicole Johnson (1999 Miss America, Type 1 diabetes).  Each of us has the ability to do what these celebrities have done, by being our own advocate and embracing our disease(s).

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I am by no means Krysta Rodriguez, but I hope to have a positive impact on the Type 1 diabetes community.  I have chosen to focus make my career and my life on helping others through my experiences with T1D.  If I learn something new and helpful, I want to share it with others.  Even difficult or challenging experiences provide opportunities to help others by sharing how I dealt with the issue and to let them know that I got through it.  Do you embrace any diseases you have? Do you incorporate them into other aspects of your life? Are you your own advocate? Do you think more people should be like Krystra Rodriguez, Michael J Fox and Nicole Johnson and speak out about their health problems?

Photo Credit: Steven Mezer (Photo 1: Krystra Rodriguez and Amanda Mezer; Photo 2: Nicole Johnson and Amanda Mezer).

 

Type 1 Tuesdays: Friends, Laughter and Entertainment — Oh My!

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 As  you may have heard the proverb, “laughter is the best medicine,” and you may also know the benefits of spending time with family and friends.  However, have you thought of combining these two behaviors?  Laughter actually results in chemical changes in your body which has a positive influence on blood flow, immune response, blood sugar levels (diabetes alert!), relaxation and sleep.  Did you know that 10-15 minutes of laughter actually burns 50 calories?  Are you trying to lose holiday pounds?  Could laughter be the solution to your diet woes?  In addition, the health benefits of social support from family and friends include having a sense of belonging, increased sense of self-worth and feelings of security.  Therefore, spending time laughing and having fun with family and friends can double the positive impact on your health status while improving your mood as well.

This past weekend, I went to Tampa, Florida for Valentine’s Day weekend, where the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Center is producing the musical “First Date.”  It is a 96 minute show full of laughter that was especially enjoyable since it was also a great opportunity to share the evening with family and friends.  We laughed throughout the show and even after as we discussed the funniest parts of the show.  At the end of the evening, there was a sense of well-being and contentment.    Laughter and socialization truly are the best medicine, particularly for those of us with chronic illnesses.  Do you think you can add a bit of laughter and socialization into your routine?  I assure you that you will be glad you did!