The Almost Perfect Life with Diabetes
Year after year of living with diabetes, one settles in, becomes almost comfortable with its nuances.
- Pricking a finger to check blood sugar level several times a day
- Balancing meals and counting carbohydrates to keep the numbers good on the little glucose meters we are never without
- Carrying a favorite bag filled with diabetes supplies wherever we go
- Never leaving the house without some quick carb source (my personal favorite is the classic Chuckles candy packet of 5 flavors at 5 carb grams each)
- Making and keeping doctors appointments to be sure all the internal organs that can be affected by diabetes are in good health
- Paying attention to insurance claims and co-pays
- Maintaining a good exercise program
- Learning what’s new in diabetes care
- Remembering to smile and wish on stars every day
These become habits we live with and accept as part of the almost perfect life with diabetes. But we know by virtue of living life that it is not exactly perfect all the time.
Recently I was in a hurry to get out the door and I got a signal from my insulin pump that the reservoir was low on fuel with only 10 units left. I checked my bg (124) did a quick calculation of how long I would be out and how much insulin I would need until I got home later in the day. No good. I needed to change the reservoir and fill up the tank, now. In a rush I grabbed supplies, quickly yanked a bottle of insulin from the butter compartment on the fridge door, took care of the business at hand and off I went with a skip to meet friends.
About 1 ½ hour later, I checked my bg and it was 185. It seemed high for no accountable reason, especially since having a fresh reservoir and no food intake. Maybe I was a little stressed from all the running around. I ordered dinner, calculated a correction bolus for the high and an appropriate meal bolus and enjoyed a delicious dinner of wild-caught salmon, whole grain couscous, grilled asparagus, and an arugula salad. About an hour later I felt a bit off grouchy, thirsty slightly fatigued. Another hour went by and I checked my bg. It was 300. Oh boy, what was wrong? I checked the infusion set, primed the pump and took a big bolus. Another hour passed and bg was still climbing. By now I was really confused and stressed. What the hell was going on here? I canceled the remainder of the evening and went home. I immediately took a shot of Apidra following the recommendation from chapter 21 in Pumping Insulin by Ruth Roberts and John Walsh to treat 2 consecutive highs with a shot of fast-acting insulin to bring down the elevated bg, while investigating the source of the problem. The Apidra kicked in and the number surge declined but it was time to call in the troops with fresh insulin, a new infusion set, and a new reservoir.
The downward excursion began. Numbers trickled down in a couple of hours as I pondered what had happened. Maybe the insulin I took earlier was dated. No. That wasn’t it, dates were all OK. Suddenly a firecracker went off in my brain as I examined the insulin bottles and found, unbeknownst to me, a bottle of Lantus (long-acting insulin) mixed in with the quick insulin, Apidra! Aa-hah! I had filled the reservoir with the slow-acting insulin! In haste, I had accidentally put the backup emergency bottle of Lantus in with the Apidra I use in my pump. How did I ever make such a mistake! I moaned. The next step was balancing out the residual doses of Lantus now circulating in my bloodstream with the boluses of Apidra. What a mess.
It took several hours to resolve, but numbers returned to the target range. I remained out of sorts for a while and thought about how life is not always perfect, even while trying to make the best of diabetes. Sometimes there are snags and pitfalls. I marked the Lantus bottle with a bright red “X”, made a big mental note to check my priorities in the future and made plans to see a late movie with friends.
After the movie, we went for tea and I got to thinking of how comforting that pot of tea was after such a stressful day. Let’s learn more about tea over if you care to join me in the Cyber Tea Room.
Tea for Health and Refreshment
Leaves from the Camillia Sinensis (tea plant) begin to wilt and oxidize soon after they are picked, if not quickly dried. As chlorophyll breaks down and tannins are released, the leaves turn dark in color. Tea is processed to stop the oxidation at various stages which result in black, white or green tea. Black tea is the most common. The Chinese call it red tea because when the tea is brewed the liquid turns a reddish color. Westerners call it black tea since the tea leaves are black. The oxidation process takes between 2 weeks and one month.
For Green Tea, the oxidation process is stopped short by the infusion of heat. Tea leaves are then left to dry as whole leaves or they are rolled into pellets to make gun powder tea. This is done with teas of high quality. Green tea is processed within 1 or 2 days of harvesting.
Oolong Tea is halfway between green and black tea. The name Oolong means semi-oxidized.
A Brief History
Tea in China: The history of tea drinking in China goes back centuries, although the first recorded history comes from 600 BC when tea was described as the “froth of the liquid jade” and said to be a key ingredient to the elixir of life. It was noted that tea was useful for staying awake and making one think better. Many methods of preparing tea leaves were experimented with and eventually, the leaves were roasted and crumbled to make brewed tea.
Tea in India: Today India is the largest exporter of tea in the world. It was the Brits who cultivated the industry and many prized black teas are grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. By the way, the East India Co. cultivated tea that was sent to England and that tea was the basis of the Boston Tea Party!
Tea in Japan: Green tea was the drink of the religious class in the 9th century when tea seeds were brought from China. It soon became the drink of the royals. Books were written about how to stay healthy by drinking tea. In the 1500s, the formal, complex and serene Japanese tea ceremony was developed by Zen Buddhist monks.
Tea around the world: When Marco Polo reported on his vast travels, he always mentioned tea, as did other explorers. It was in the early 17th century that the first tea leaves were brought to Amsterdam from China. Tea made its way through Europe, Great Britain and eventually to America, where varieties and variations on the classic have become a huge industry.
For centuries many methods of preparing the perfect cup have been tried and tested, yet it seems the most widespread method of making tea is quite simple. Loose tea (1 heaping teaspoon per cup and 1 for the pot) is placed in a pot or small tea infuser. An earthenware mug or favorite teacup may also be used to employ this method. Pour just-boiled pure water over tea and strain the water out. Refill pot with freshly boiled water. For Green and Oolong tea, water need not be quite to the boiling point since these teas are more delicate. Use 1 heaping teaspoon of tea per cup. Wait about 30 seconds before tasting. These 30 seconds of the leaves releasing their flavor is called the “agony of the leaves”. It is recommended (in Britain) that most teas be brewed or steeped not less than 30 seconds and not more than 5 minutes. It depends on the tea. The English also recommends not to stir, but many teetotalers feel stirring makes the tea more evenly flavored. There is no exact right or wrong way of preparing tea, only the constant quest for perfection.
Health Benefits of Tea
Much has been said lately on the health benefits of tea, particularly as a protection against many types of cancer. It is the epigallocatechin gallate antioxidant in green tea that we hear so much about. Studies have occurred at Kyushu University in Japan and at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Preliminary studies with White Tea have shown even more effectiveness.
Studies at the University of Geneva in Switzerland report that green tea raises metabolic rate and speeds fat oxidation, as well as, helps increase endurance in exercise.
A 2003 study at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital reported that black tea boosts the immune system and induces mental alertness.
A 2006 Japanese study claims that elderly people who drank more than 2 cups of green tea daily have less cognitive impairment.
A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reported that black tea has an effect on stress hormones and the risk of a heart attack.
Very recently it came out that due to a chemical reaction between milk and tea; the beneficial effects are stunted when milk is added to tea, particularly black tea.
Does green tea prevent diabetes? Although no clinical studies have been focused to date, there seems to be great curiosity and interest in this area. Let’s see what happens.
Recipes for Good Summer Tea
Time to enjoy a nice, tall, cooling and refreshing glass of iced tea. The iced tea business has become a major contender in the beverage market. Check supermarket shelves. Instant, powdered, bottled, canned and flavored iced teas are yours for the $$. Iced tea started as cooled brewed tea poured into a glass over ice. And if you are a purist, as I am, it is still the best tasting iced tea. I like to brew a couple of big pots of Orange Pekoe (aka black tea) tea, let cool to room temp before refrigerating so that tea doesn’t become cloudy or develop a chalky taste, then refrigerate. Filtered water makes a good iced tea. Just before drinking, squeeze in a fresh lemon slice and any sweetener you use.
Iced tea is a wildly popular drink all over the world, especially as an alternative to carbonated beverages. It was after the World’s Fair in 1904 in the USA that iced tea became the drink of choice. At that time a special long-handled teaspoon was invented to accommodate stirring sugar into iced tea. Because of the wide variety of restaurants in the U.S., an interesting variety of iced teas are offered. You may want to try some of the following:
- Fresh lime slices
- Jasmine or Earl Grey tea
- Spiced Indian tea called Chai Tea
- Bubble Tea from Taiwan has black tapioca beads at the bottom. It is enormously popular in Asia, Europe, and Canada.
- Bottled iced tea: Nestea, Lipton, Snapple, Arizona, Honest Tea, Tazo, and Sweet Leaf Tea, to name a few. Most of these varieties come in sugar-free.