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Giveaways within Newsletter

One of the perks (or downsides) of blogging is that PR pitches are always sent your way. A lot of the time, I just say no thanks to all the books and products that are emailed to me because I know that I’m not going to read them or use them. However, lately, I’ve decided to start saying yes. And what I’m going to do with all of those products is give them away.

So every Saturday at 9 a.m. The Life of a Diabetic Weekly Recap will be going out. Every Saturday there will be a new giveaway announced in the email. Each giveaway will have a different way to enter, but, the only way that you can win is by being subscribed to the newsletter. 

You can sign up here – http://thelifeofadiabetic.com/wordpress/newsletter-signup

Welcome to the club.

Losing Weight is Hard, It’s Really Hard

From the age of 21 to 31, I gained about 60-70 pounds. That part was easy. Really easy. Going to dinner and eating my food and then half of my wife’s. Running to Dunkin Donuts or McDonald’s in the morning for a coffee and getting something (or two) off the dollar menu. All of that is super easy and super simple.

Losing weight is hard. It’s really effing hard! I’ve been trying for a couple of years to lose weight. I’ve had a lot of success, but it hasn’t lasted. I’ll lose 10-15 pounds and feel good and then I travel for a couple of weeks and gain it all back. I stop going to the gym and increasing the carbs, which is a recipe for disaster.

I just got back from PA again after spending the last month or so visiting family again, but this time I went to the gym a few times a week. Thanks to Planet Fitness for opening up in this area in PA!

I was able to maintain my weight, but didn’t lose any while up there because there were a lot of temptations. There are a lot of things to do, friends and family to see, activities we can only do while up here, so the gym ends up getting pushed to the side. 

I grew up in PA for the first 3/4 of my life, so I know all the great food places. When I go back there, that’s all I want to do. I just want to eat at all of the great places that I grew up eating and then eating some of mom’s good ole home cooking. That tends to lead to disaster. Big disasters.

My endo appointments are usually right after I get back from these trips. This leads to bad lab results and not a true picture of how my life is the remaining 9 months of the year.

This year, I decided to push my appointment back and force myself to lose weight. This is hard.

Here’s my diet:

Breakfast – 3 egg omelette. Every. Single. Day. I change it up a bit with some cheese one day. Peppers and onions the next. And then some ham the following. By switching this up, it makes me feel like I’m eating different foods and keeping it fresh.

Lunch – Salad every day. This doesn’t bother me because I love salad. I have eaten a salad a day, pretty much almost everyday for the last 15 years. I usually throw some chicken or whatever meat was for dinner the night before in the salad and just mix it all up. Actually, I shake it up. I put it all in a bowl, put a lid over it and shake the hell out of it. Only way to eat a salad. Shout out to my older brother for giving me this tip!

Dinner – Meat and 2 veggies. We eat a lot of chicken. Like, a lot of eat. And ground beef. We use the crockpot 3-4 days a week. We put the chicken in during breakfast, put some veggies in there and some sort of seasoning or oil based marinade and just let it cook all day. We use the ground beef for burgers (with lettuce buns) and tacos (with lettuce wraps).

This sounds delicious and sounds simple. But, damn, it’s not.

Going to the gym consistently is hard for me. I get so caught up in my business that I forget to go to the gym. Then, I don’t want to miss out on family fun time before and after dinner, so I don’t go to the gym then either.

I can’t go to the gym in the morning because I pee a lot throughout the night (even when my BG is perfect), so I wake up in the morning extremely dehydrated.

I don’t like going to the gym shortly after drinking coffee. Well, I always end up getting a cup of coffee right before it should be gym time.

But these are a lot of excuses.

Nothing worth doing is easy.

This should be tough.

This should be tough as hell.

And that’s why I’m going to tackle it. Because I’m getting too old for this extra weight to be hanging out. It’s time to set it free.

Sharing More

Sharing more.

That’s what I want to do. Sure, I have a blog which means I overshare as is. But, I don’t feel like I share enough of the ups and downs. I tend to share a lot of good stuff, because honestly, that’s just how I choose to live my life. I don’t allow myself to fret about the small stuff and constantly be down or upset about stuff that I can’t control.

However, there are plenty of downs that come along with this disease and that’s where I’d like to share more.

For example, my laziness when it comes to this disease. With access to all the technology I have, sometimes I just get lazy and I don’t feel like wearing my pump. Simply because I don’t feel like taking 10 seconds to insert a new infusion set. Because of this laziness, I will then go back to MDI, except sometimes I don’t have any Tresiba or Lantau or any other basal insulins.

I’ll wake up in the morning with a high blood sugar, but still that won’t make me have the motivation to insert a new infusion set.

Is it because I sometimes am tired of being connected? Or, am I tired of the infusion set falling out because I’m using too much insulin? Or do I honestly, just don’t feel like managing my diabetes?

I don’t know what it is.

But, I am making a promise to myself, and all of you, that I am going to share more of those down times and not just the ups.

Apple Watch for Diabetes

A few months ago I finally made the leap to purchasing an Apple Watch. I wasn’t interested in one until the Series 2 Nike versions came out and one of the bands used the same color as the company I own. But, I have a rule that I don’t purchase technology until I absolutely need it. Well, it was finally time. I needed it because I am exercising more and I wanted to track my heart rate, calories burned, etc.

I have high blood pressure and I have anxiety from time to time so tracking my heart rate is something that I like to be able to do at any time. Especially when I am at the gym exercising.

Tracking my exercise is something that has always been difficult for me. In fact, any type of logging, especially blood sugar and food, are extremely difficult because I never keep up with it. Tracking my activity levels is one of my favorite features of the watch. I can easily choose from either elyptical, playing basketball, or moderate walking from my activity tracker.

One of the biggest features that I don’t have available on my Apple Watch yet is connection to my CGM. That is probably the biggest feature that is missing at this time. It’s the only bit of information that is extremely important to me that I don’t have access to on my watch.

I highly recommend the watch if you have a fast-paced on the go lifestyle that includes exercising. It makes it easier for me to check emails, text, and see whose calling, all while working out.

Do you wear an Apple Watch? What are your opinions and thoughts? Do you wear a competitor to Apple?

Let me know in the comments.

13 Years with Diabetes Today

So today marks 13 years since being diagnosed with diabetes. There’s always a debate about whether it is April 2 or April 3, but since I don’t have the official hospital discharge papers, I always go with April 3.

I went to the ER on Friday, April 2, 2004 but by the time the doctor said to me.. “you have type 1 diabetes” to was after midnight, so it’s April 3.

I still remember that entire day like it was yesterday. I’ve told the story so many times, which is why it probably sticks in my head.

I used to do some sort of celebratory event on this day every year, but now, it’s just like any other day. A business to run. A family to take care of. And a disease to manage.

So, here is to 13 years with diabetes.

And many more to come.

How My Wife and I Managed Pregnancy and the First Two Years

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive is about how my wife and I managed her pregnancy and the first two years of our daughter’s life. Meaning, what kind of research did we do, what kind of precautions did we take, what can you do to help prevent your child from developing diabetes since the father has type 1. Trust me, I did a lot of research. And I asked a lot of people when we found out that she was pregnant.

Unfortunately, my answer is…. we’ve done a lot of research and we did what we feel is best for us, but ultimately, there is nothing you can do.

Here is what we did though in case you need a starting point.

The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young

The first thing that my endo told me to do is read up on the TEDDY study. And boy did I do that. I read as much from this study and follow up studies as possible. So, I recommend this being a great starting point – https://teddy.epi.usf.edu/

There is a lot of information there, but to sum it up, the TEDDY study believes that children who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have some sort of genes that are triggered by something, but what that something is, they are not sure of at this point. If we can find out what the trigger or triggers are, than that can go a long way to try and prevent diabetes. Is it something that is triggered before birth based on mom’s diet or could it be the air we breathe…. I don’t know.

We Chose to Breastfeed

This is a choice that we made very early on. We decided on breastfeeding because we felt it was the most natural thing to do.

WE DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING AGAINST THOSE WHO DO NOT BREASTFEED SO SAVE YOUR COMMENTS!

This was just our own personal decision. My thought process is… we’re humans, why don’t we drink human milk. So, that was an easy decision for us. No matter what, this final decision was going to come down to my wife’s decision because she was the one breastfeeding, not me.

I do believe that there was a press release within the last few months stating that there was no direct correlation between breastfeeding and the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. My endo, who I ask her advice on everything, gave me the advice that breastfeeding for the first 12 months is the best option, for anybody.

Little to No Cow’s Milk

So my wife was able to breastfeed until our daughter was a year old. She was eating food at that time, but there was still some breastfeeding going on as well. We decided to not give our daughter cow’s milk. The reason was based on research we did and studies that had shown that the casein molecule is too large for the baby’s gut which then became a trigger to start the autoimmune process. Like I said, this decision was made based off of our research and discussions between my wife and I.

We also didn’t completely cut out cow’s milk, we just didn’t allow her to drink it. So, we gave her cheese sticks and yogurt that was made with cow’s milk. So, we didn’t fully cut it out, but as much as we could.

That is pretty much it. We obviously monitor what she eats and don’t fill her up with fast food all the time.

I hope that helps answer any questions that you have. Like I mentioned above, unfortunately, there is not much research out there that provides you a guideline on what to do during pregnancy and after birth.

If you have any other questions, please comment below, it’s a great way for the community to see your questions as well.

This is Not an April Fool’s Joke – I Am Back

This is not an April Fool’s Joke. I am actually posting something today. Let’s first talk about why I haven’t been posting lately on my site. There are several reasons, so here we go.

Facebook Attention Spans

Facebook (as well as Snapchat and Instagram) has created digital attention spans that last for about 8-30 seconds. After that, it’s just scroll on to the next thing. And in most cases, the 8-30 seconds is being very generous. It’s more like 2-3 seconds.

Because of this, I started to feel like people just weren’t reading blog posts like they once were. People were more interested in video, especially native Facebook video. So, I decided that I was going to do more video. Well, I’ve made a few, but nowhere near the amount that I planned on. That’s changing this month to as I am participating in a Vlog Every Day in April challenge #SSSVEDA

You can check those out at my Chris Stocker You Tube Channel

Politics, Politics, Politics

I am not one to typically let political talk affect me. In fact, it barely does. But these past couple of months have been draining. It’s not so much the stuff happening in DC (which a lot of irritates me), it’s just been the massive amount of content created around it. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, because we have to use our platforms to speak our voice. It’s just that, it’s all I was consuming. Every day it seemed to just be the same stuff, different angle. Which in the times we are living in now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

However, I am a firm believer that I am the one who is in charge of creating the life I want. This is why I don’t spend too much time on political issues or talking about them. I will if it’s something that I am extremely passionate about, like Pre-Existing Condition coverage. I am a proud supporter of DPAC and everything that they are doing and I will continue to promote and share their content until the cows come home. But, I don’t write about those issues because I can only write what I know about and what is top of mind for myself. Like I said, I will promote it though.

Because of all of this, I stopped writing. I felt like maybe this is all people want to read about now. They just want to find out about the next march or protest or other way to contact their local reps.

If so, then I don’t feel like I would have enough to contribute.

Business Development

As you may now, being the CEO of a CSI Marketing Solutions, a boutique digital marketing agency, is what I do for a living. This takes up majority of time. More than my wife would like for sure. This blog is more of a “side hustle” thing. Over the past few months, my business has been growing. Adding a few assistants, some larger clients, additional services and it has required more of my attention to be hands on during this process.

We all have 24 hours in a day. So the 1-2 hours that I had once put towards this blog during the day was now being used elsewhere. Which meant that this blog was put to the side.

But then over the past couple of weeks I’ve received an insanely high amount of emails coming from the site.

“Where have you been?”

“Is everything ok?”

“My son is in college and I always share your articles with him.”

And many more of the same type of emails.

And then I thought to myself. A long time ago, you set out to do this and you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into. But then you started to hear from people how a post changed their life or mentality or living with diabetes and you just knew you had to keep going to help inspire people. And you let them down.

I don’t mind failing. I do it all the time. But one thing I don’t like to do, is let people down. Especially people who rely on me.

So that’s why, starting today, I am back. I have audited my day and my time and I’m back. And I’m putting this out on the internet to hold myself accountable. I will be here 7 days a week. If I’m not, call me out.

Every day missed is a missed opportunity to inspire or help someone living with diabetes.

Thank You for Waiting 2 Hours: The Dark Side of ACA

Late last year, around October or so, my endo, primary care, my wife’s primary care, OBGYN, and endo all sent us letters stating that they were no longer accepting our MarketPlace insurance plan. This led us to searching for something new. Instead of just choosing a plan, we asked what MarketPlace plans they accepted. There was only one common plan, Ambetter from Sunshine Health. Don’t sound familiar to you? That’s because it’s a Florida based insurance plan, meaning, it can only be used in the state of Florida. That poses an obvious issue, but more on that in a later post.

My wife and I had to plan our yearly checkups and needed to find a new PCP. After calling about 10 who were either not accepting new patients, or didn’t have any openings for new patients for a few months we finally settled on one. We decided that we would schedule back to back appointments so that way one could be with the kid and then we could switch. These appointments were staggered between 2:45 for the first and 3:15 for the second.

My wife checked in for the appointment at 2:40 and she also checked me in while I walked the kid around in the stroller with the hopes that she would take a nap. After my wife filled out her paperwork, she thought it would be a good idea to hand me mine outside so I could get a head start. This was now around 3:00 p.m. (15 minutes after my wife’s scheduled time.)

At 3:15, which was my scheduled appointment time, my wife had still not been sent back to see the doctor. At this point, I am become a bit irritated, as I continue to walk around outside in 80 degree weather.

3:30 – nothing.

3:45 – nothing.

4:00 – nothing.

4:15 – my wife finally gets sent back to get her vitals taken.

At this time, it’s now an hour and a half past her original appointment time and then she was sent to another room to wait after her vitals were taken.

Finally, at 4:30, 1 hour and 45 minutes after her appointment time, she sees the doctor. This is the same time now that I get my vitals checked, 1 hour and 15 minutes after my scheduled appointment time.

After all was said and done, both of our check ups, in an-office EKG (which came out fine for me), and a few lab scripts later, my wife and I left the parking lot 2 hours and 45 minutes after our initial scheduled appointment time.

To say this was a nightmare and a disaster and an example of some of the negative effects that ACA has caused is an understatement.

There are not many doctors that take MarketPlace plans, this just so happens to be one of them. Which means, all of the people who are on a MarketPlace plan have very few doctors to choose from which creates these enourmous backups.

What’s the longest that you have ever waited for an appointment?

Prior Authorization Needed for Test Strips

One of the many hoops to jump through when you have diabetes is the need for prior authorization.

Last year I had a lot of problems with my Florida Blue health insurance. I documented a lot of this on Twitter and some issues here on the site. I had so many issues with them as a company¬†and then found out that 100% of my doctors and my wife’s healthcare team were going to stop accepting this MarketPlace plan that I had. So, I only had one choice, changes plans.

I switched to a new plan for a January 1 start date and so far everything had been going great. My premiums are cheap, my deductibles are not a bad cost and all three of the major insulins (Novolog, Humalog, and Apidra) are all covered as a Tier 1 drug and covered at a $75/90 day supply.

The prescription process was simple and easy. Everything was great…… until I needed test strips.

Prior Authorization Confusion

My doctor sent in a script for me to test 6 times a day. Problem is, the insurance will only cover 3 times a day. Not a big deal, I will have my doctor send in a prior authorization. Well, here is where it got interesting.

The mail order pharmacy told me that the prior authorization was needed and they provided me with their fax number. I sent that to my doctor and they sent it in right away. A few days later, I called the pharmacy and they said that the insurance company is still not covering the strips. They said that I had to send in for a prior authorization. I explained I did, but, it was sent to the mail order pharmacy and not to the insurance company. I then requested something to be sent to the insurance company. My doctor called me and said that the insurance company doesn’t have a prescription on file. And, they have no clue what the prior authorization is for.

They didn’t have anything on file because the prescription was sent to the mail order pharmacy. After a few back and forths, the insurance company had a 3-way call with my doctor and my mail order pharmacy to get everything straightened out. I still have to wait another day or 2 until it all processes and I can find out if or when I have an order shipping.

Then, to add to that, once it’s ready to ship, I have to provide a different shipping address, so let’s see how that is handled as well.

The short story of the long story is this. Prior authorizations suck. I know at the end of the day (or week or month), I will get what I need because my doctor’s office will ensure that I do, but having to jump through the hoops sucks. And the 4-5 hours total spent on the phone between the insurance, mail order pharmacy and doctor’s office is even worse. The fact that as a type 1, my insurance is only covering 3 tests a day does not make any sense at all.

I can understand 4 times a day, a test before every meal… breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime. But only three?

Not cool.

Do you have any tips, horror stories, success stories about prior authorizations? I’d love to hear them. Please share in a comment below or on Facebook.


Update (02/13/17 2:30 PM

I received a phone call from my doctor this morning stating that they received a confirmation letter from the insurance company that the prior authorization has been accepted. I then received a call from the mail order pharmacy shortly after and they stated that they did not see the update on the acceptance of the prior authorization. However, when they attempted to put the claim through, it accepted the larger amount of strips, 6 per day. Unfortunately, the cost came out to over $100 which is not what the price is supposed to be.

One day I will get these strips.