Categories
Update

Speaking of making healthcare better for folks…

… and I will speak of Extra Life.

I’ve participated in Extra Life in the past a couple of times, raising a little money to help out my then local hospitals, back when I lived in the eastern part of the USA.

I feel that the Children’s Miracle Network does an absolutely grand job to help children find their way home, happy and healthy, while trying to lift as much stress off the backs and shoulders of their parents. When a parent is less stressed, this contributes positively on the healthy outcome for the child, and CMN does the work when it comes to that.

So this year, I’m getting back into participating in Extra Life, and I do hope that you all will join me. I intend to stream off and on throughout the day — nothing like the marathon 24 hour stream I tried to pull off in 2014 (and failed near the end). Just reasonable blocks of an hour here, two hours there, and pointing off to the folks I’m joining as a guest streamer.

I’ll be streaming on US Pacific Time (UTC -07:00, with a time change happening late night in my local time zone, pushing me back to UTC -08:00), starting sometime around 11:00 US PDT (19:00 UTC).

Each of us is raising funds for our local (or in my case, semi-local) hospitals that are in the Children’s Miracle Network.

I’m still plotting what I’ll play, as I have a bunch of games sitting here. It might be fun to grab a game or four that I’ve not particularly played and muddle my way through them with an audience, though I’m also considering some grinding in Path of Exile with a brand new character in the new league, which means new stuff I’d have to sort through and learn.

I also promise to write one letter in Kind Words on stream.

If you can find the change in the cushions, go drop off some recycling for a few spare bucks, sell some cryptocurrency, or something to help these children and their families, I’d super appreciate it. If you look to my sidebar, there’s a gauge there showing my current progress, and taking you to a donation page.

Lastly, I need to decide between Mixer and Twitch for streaming; both were a mite frustrating to set up, but that’s at least done now.

Hope to see you all there. 🙂

Categories
Life Update

Two weeks with the FreeStyle Libre.

Hey, folks. I’ve had my continuous glucose meter for a little over two weeks now; just installed a new sensor puck on my right arm after two on the left.

I have to say that this is definitely an experience that has been worth it. Knowing that I can wave a piece of hardware at my arm and get a number that has minimal lag compared to a capillary stick has been enlightening, and honestly, helpful for me to work on managing my diabetes.

Before I pucked up (ha!), I would take my meds if I thought about them, and felt like I probably needed them. This is bad: we’re not always the best judges of our own health. Thinking Gee, I’m tired. Well I didn’t sleep a lot, have an energy drink to compensate. isn’t as good as checking, and seeing that my blood sugar has been high for hours, days, longer. OF COURSE I’m tired! My body’s fighting to process all the carbohydrate shit I’m giving it and not paying attention to what it NEEDS.

I’m now that much more accountable for my health, and maybe one day, I’ll really get my diet dialed in to keep things in check along with the medicines.

As it stands, I can now take my meds, and get the better idea of what dose I need for insulin instead of just guessing at it. This is producing fewer swings from low to high, which makes me frankly feel much nicer.

That leads me to thinking, “Why is it that CGMs aren’t standard issue for type 2 diabetics at this point?”

Thinking about it, if you have a newly diagnosed diabetic that you’re getting into the flow of what to do, make it easier for them to understand their health. Telling someone that they have to stab a finger FOUR TIMES A DAY for the rest of their life on a new diagnosis can put them in a bad head space. Are they going to do all those finger sticks? Yes, for the first week or so. Then they’ll grow quickly weary of it because the sticks hurt, or because they aren’t seeing changes, or any number of reasons.

Lessen the pain that comes with their new burden, and they’re more likely to be compliant diabetics, compared to non-compliant diabetics. Yes, this means the doctor’s office might not see them quite as often, but it also improves the continuity and quality of care: you might see the person because they got very sick from something else, and it threw them out of sorts. You’re then treating an illness, instead of constantly triaging a badly managed permanent issue.

The sad, but true bit of this? I’m saying that last chunk from personal experience as a diabetic for over a decade.

I knew what diabetes was. I helped my mother and my father with their treatment in the 1990s and 2000s. I knew about the fingersticks. I knew about the insulin injections, the pills that gave you the trots, the exhaustion, the thirst. All of the woes that came with having a problem processing your own insulin, or not producing enough of it, I was familiar with it.

It’s just one of those diagnoses that you wouldn’t wish on another soul. It’s a lifelong illness that doesn’t necessarily make you look sick on the outside, but is shredding you to bits on the inside. So when you hear the ER doctor tell you, “Your blood glucose is 610 mg/dL. Congratulations, you’re diabetic. Please tell me you did not drive yourself here…”

The world drops away, and all you can hear is the rattling of chains as you’re tethered to a permanent diagnosis. We don’t have a 100% end all, be all cure for diabetes available to us.

What we do have, though, is a beneficial technological advance, making it much easier to monitor and treat a lifelong disease, and I am thankful for it.

Categories
Life Update

Diabetes, Cellphones, and a Strange Realization.

So as I mentioned in a previous post, I now have a continuous glucose monitor — the FreeStyle Libre 14 Day system. The piece of hardware that I wear will pull a rolling eight hour number for my blood sugar that I can check at any time and see how I’m doing.

I grazed over the fact that I can check my numbers with my cellphone, and didn’t really think too deeply on it when I first got my meter. I’m on day 12 of wearing the puck, and realized that my mobile device choice is now that much more tightly bound to my glucose meter needs. Why?

Simple: The puck requires Near Field Communications (NFC). If I’m ever somewhere and need to check my blood sugar, but didn’t bring the regular meter with me, as long as my phone has NFC and the LibreLink app installed, I can still check on my body’s condition and make sure I’m okay.

This is moderately important now, but what happens when I am ready to upgrade my phone, or have to replace it because ill befell the device?

I know how to identify devices with near field communications, but not every consumer does. And while I would love to take it as fact that any consumer that’s using this meter in the way I am using it would know what to look for, I know better than to do that.

So, knowing that any device that supports Android Pay or Apple Pay has an NFC radio built in is two thirds of the battle won there. Pairing that with the FreeStyle Libre 14 Day sensor gives the all-around solution.

But there’s a surprising lack of phones on the Android side of the line that offer NFC.

This is why I’d push for NFC to be more ubiquitous across Android devices: We have more things that are coming to market that can make use of the tech. The personal computer, whether we’ve come to realize it or not, required a paradigm shift to be understood. Yes, we have desktop computers, laptop computers, but the personal computer, as we define it? It should have had its definition updated to the little devices we keep calling ‘smartphones’.

It’s typically the ONLY computer we wear on our person, as well as rely on for many different things, such as navigation, payments, communications, security, and even healthcare. We’re building a litany of devices that communicate with these phones, shoving kilobyte after kilobyte of our lives into their 5.5″ grasps, and so many folks are increasingly lost without them after shoving their expanded consciousness into the slab that’s in their pocket.

That ALL of Apple’s pocket-sized personal computers have NFC, and only a thin slice of those in the Android ecosystem have it is disheartening.

This said, I now know that unless I switch away from this glucose testing system, I’m fairly obligated to pick a phone that has NFC, should I ever have to replace my cellphone. Here’s to not having to replace my phone for the next three years, I hope…

Categories
Update

A short, and rather important memo:

Don’t let your local world and its troubles drag you down.

Yes, there’s this big fat space rock that we’re floating on, but we focus on the local world a bit too much. Try not to do that. 🙂

Categories
Life Update

Of continuous glucose monitors and increased health insights.

This week was a big week for me. I acquired my first continuous glucose monitor, a FreeStyle Libre 14 Day system. I received a standalone meter along with a puck that gets attached to my arm. The meter also has a standard blood draw glucometer attached to it, so that I can do a regular draw if necessary.

I was a little leery when I first unpacked everything, because there’s all these parts — a glucometer that charges via MicroUSB, a charger and cable for that, and then this big box that contains a sensor that you’ll attach to your arm. The sensor puck kit seems large, but it’s because it’s shipped in two parts. You’ll combine the two parts after verifying numbers on each half, and then this gets pressed against your arm. There IS a needle in the sensor kit, but the needle isn’t left behind — it’s used to break the skin for the sensor filament to go in.

This is my arm with a CGM sensor attached.

No, I didn’t feel much at all when I applied the sensor to the back of my left arm. I jumped mostly because of the sudden ‘pop’ sound from the spring-loaded mechanism that I wasn’t fully expecting. If anything, it’s like someone poking you with a pencil lightly, which is a far cry better than the constant fingersticks I’ve been asked to do.

I’m horrible with the fingersticks, because I just cannot abide by the concept of jabbing my poor fingers with a specially designed knife to draw blood multiple times a day, even though it’s beneficial to my health to ACTUALLY DO THAT, according to my doctor. They need to know what my numbers look like, and if they’re just raging away at 300 mg/dl with no data, they can’t help me.

This meter is game changing in that I can wake up at four in the morning for no reason whatsoever, and without leaving bed, check my blood glucose levels since my meters are at bedside.

Yes, meters plural: The FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensors are NFC compatible, and this means I can read them with the LibreLink app on my Android phone. All I have to do is unlock my phone with a fingerprint, and point the tip of my phone to the side of the sensor. I’ll have a reading in seconds, and don’t have to go find the app and open it first. Or, I can grab the meter actual, press a button on the lower front, and wave it at the puck.

This process removes the internal (and external) whining about having to always stick my damn fingers, and how much this hurts, and how much it sucks, etc etc. Sure, I’ll still have to occasionally stick my fingers, but it’ll be a case of “Hey, Xial. Something’s fishy with this number, can you get me a different number?” instead of “You have to.” It transforms the plain demand into a reasonable insistence, which I’m more likely to comply with.

This just gives me a sense of clarity in data, and a better way to really try to keep an eye on my health.

Categories
Life Update

… and Vacation Goes.

I had a beautiful time out in Ocean Shores in the state of Washington.

I got to spend time with my better half, a person I frankly do not get to spend enough time with because we’re one country and three time zones apart. If I could see them more often, I’d be thrilled.

I just have to find out what’s wrong with my ears to make flying so abysmally unpleasant as to make me refuse to board a plane unless I have absolutely no other choice. It’s so unpleasant that I’ll take a Greyhound or figure out the costs to rent a car before I consider flying.

That aside, the community of Ocean Shores was quite welcoming to the lot of us that visited for a weekend to have our furry convention, Furvana, at their convention center. There were, of course, curious folk that would stop us when we’re walking around to ask questions, and I hear that even the local law enforcement wanted to just take photos with a few folks that were in fursuits, which is pretty cool in and of itself.

If I could change anything about my attendance at the con, it would be my relative introversion in crowds of folks that I just don’t know at all. If someone said hi, I was happy to respond, but it’s a little harder as of late for me to relax and come to the surface, compared to younger me, who’d happily jump into everything, face first.

… oh, and the lack of photos taken, because I worry about folks who don’t want to be caught in my soul catcher.

I didn’t explore Ocean Shores quite as much as I wanted, because an unfortunate event befell the electric bike shop the day before we headed out there. I had initially planned to check out an electric bike to use it to explore the length of Ocean Shores, since I didn’t want to figure out the logistics of hauling MY personal bike up from Oregon via Amtrak and a rental car.
This would be annoying in several ways, as my feet started hurting in a way that made walking long distances irritating, but I refused to drive the rental for fear of having an accident with the local wildlife that had no surplus of hecks to give about cars and people.

You don’t need *munch* a lawnmower, *nibble* dude. But can you pass me the vinaigrette?

I did, however, get to check out the Ocean Pours Tap Room there on my last evening in town. Having been mostly a fan of my local brewery, Ninkasi, and specifically their Yours Truly Easy Drinking Ale, I was afraid I wouldn’t find anything I would like. I was delightfully surprised (and maybe a little drunk afterward) when the four beers I had selected for my flight were all really delicious and smooth. None of that harsh bitterness that I seem to get from the frequently bandied IPA beers — we avoided those for my inaugural flight at the tap room.

I had to walk back home afterward, and realized during the walk that I hadn’t eaten first or during the drinking. Whoops.

The local grocery store, an IGA, was also rather friendly. Hadn’t been in an IGA in years, the last one being back when I was in Florida. Mentally, it was a little disconcerting, because the generic product brand there used to be the generic brand Albertson’s used for the better part of a decade before moving on to a different label.

I hear we did quite well for the charity fundraiser we did for Coastal Raptors. Still waiting for official numbers to be posted, but the preliminary statement was a quite impressive number for a brand new convention.

After I had originally posted this, the official numbers were posted; so it goes.

We had 452 folks in attendance, and raised a delightful $3,142.86 for Coastal Raptors. I’ve got my snow bunting picture I acquired from the charity auction posted in my cubicle at work (not pictured, because HIPAA is a pain in the thang), and a few keychains to sort things to at some point.

My first time seeing the Pacific Ocean in person, with a car party to the left, and someone walking to the right.

For now, I leave you with a photo I took at the beach out at Ocean Shores with my phone. Hopefully in the future if Furvana repeats here, I’ll be back to take more photos, and explore the area in depth. 💙

Categories
Update

Vacation comes…

I’ve not had a proper get out of the office, get out of the town, and explore the world vacation in a ridiculously long time.

I am strongly looking forward to my out of office time at the end of the month. Been telling my external providers at work that I’ll be out of office, and my backup will be this one person, and so on and so forth.

I don’t get enough me time, and it’s part of the culture we have going on, I think. We’re expected to work until we keel over in the office, literally, and probably get written up for low performance while being wheeled out under a white sheet.

I intend to not think about that kind of stuff for a week, and that’s that. 💙

Categories
Weight Loss Journey

Saturo Vs. Soylent, some thoughts.

As part of my weight loss journey, I had started off by picking up some Soylent at my local FredMeyer. The store had it on sale for $2 per bottle, and I had a digital coupon on top of that through Ibotta which brought it down to a super low price of less than a dollar per bottle, maximum of five bottles per discount.

I bought as many of those bottles as I could, racking up that discounted price through a refund via Ibotta until the price suddenly went up to $4 per bottle.

The Soylent was important for me, because I struggle daily with satiety. My brain doesn’t switch off the hunger signal nearly fast enough, which leads me to overeating because of poor impulse control, and thinking I’m just a little on the full side. I knew this, because I started calculating calorie loads on what I had been eating prior to the in-earnest weight loss attempt.

Calorie Count Screenshot from McDonalds.com’s nutrition calculator, showing a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a single Filet-O-Fish, and a Medium order of Fries.

This is actually an underestimated number, because the nutrition calculator at McDonald’s’ website doesn’t have the Double Filet-O-Fish as a selection. I surmise the second fish patty adds another 240 calories, because I certainly kept the second slice of cheese, and asked for extra tartar sauce.

That was what I called lunch frequently, because marginally unenlightened me kept thinking, “Oh hey, I’m getting a great deal where I can get two sandwiches for super, super cheap!” The drink, a diet Coke or Diet Dr Pepper, of course — I can’t have the sugar because it rushes to my head and makes me feel pretty crappy, fairly swiftly.

It’s a thought process I haven’t needed since I made it out of that homeless shelter over a decade ago — thinking that I absolutely must buy the most calorie-laden food choices in case I can’t afford a meal at a later point in the day. It’s a difficult mindset to break, and it’s helped me push on the pounds, along with not exercising enough.

The Soylent was helping me with managing hunger by tripping that satiety flag that other foods just weren’t doing. I’ve later learned that foods higher in fiber do help me with that, but I don’t see myself eating broccoli for breakfast every day just to not want to chew my arm off.

In the first few weeks, because I had replaced a daily meal with Soylent and was painfully conscious of what I was shoveling into my maw, combined with me starting my gym visits, I dropped an astounding fifteen pounds.

I’ve had a minor rebound on weight gain after that, because of a few reasons: I ran out of the cheap Soylent and started fighting with the poor impulse control for food again. Combined with getting frustrated, I was sabotaging my own weight loss by stress eating again. I had to make it one of my goals for my weight loss group to find something that was comparable to Soylent, so I can get back on that positive, downward trend.

Local searches hadn’t turned up much, and even Amazon searches weren’t the most promising at the time.

In mid-April, while sitting on my lunch break at work, I decided to check the Amazon app, because I had nothing better to do (I could’ve gone for a walk, says hindsight), and I saw a new product prominently advertised on the front page, called Saturo, presented because of my recent searches for Soylent.

“The heck is a Saturo?” I asked as I tapped on it, and started reading.

It ended up being the kind of product I was looking for — a full, balanced meal replacement in a bottle that I could keep a few of in my desk at work. At $16 for eight bottles — two bucks a meal, it certainly seemed promising.

As is my wont, I bought the eight pack of Chocolate so I could give it a shot, and it arrived promptly on the next day. I ended up consuming it quickly — the chocolate taste isn’t unpleasant, but it leans more toward a dark chocolate flavor than a milk chocolate flavor. Combined with the mild amount of sugar (8 grams, or about two teaspoons for visually inclined folks), it helps to like less sweet things.

I’ve also tried the vanilla Saturo, and honestly, I prefer the chocolate one over the vanilla, as the vanilla flavor is too mild and unassuming, lost underneath the oat and soy overtones.

Saturo’s container is smaller than Soylent’s by three fluid ounces (or 84 mL for the metrically inclined), and has 70 fewer calories. At this time when doing the math on how much per meal is being spent, Saturo is still thoughtfully priced. Without any discounts or coupons, Saturo is 5.1¢ per fluid ounce less expensive than Soylent when purchased on Amazon. On a bottle for bottle basis (not mL for mL), Soylent costs 162% of what I’d spend for Saturo.

Top number: Soylent, Chocolate, 12 pack.
Bottom number: Saturo, Chocolate, 8 pack.

My use case also makes the 330 calorie bottles more appealing, as I get the satiety I need with fewer calories. I can save those 70 calories shaved off that bottle for other foods, like a treat, a slightly larger portion of something tasty during the day, or as a minor victory if I’m still close to my daily calorie target at the end of the day.

I also have a coupon code I am sharing with folks that want to try Saturo for 10% off. At checkout, simply enter SATUROTEN as a coupon. It is currently limited to one use per account and expires 13 June 2019.

Categories
Uncategorized

Exercise with Fatbutt.

Bit of a personal joke, of course. I’m fat, I know it, and in the past couple of months, I’ve been tackling that issue in earnest.

In February, I joined a support group paid for by my insurance through work that’s been helping me. In March, I started going to the gym. April saw the return of better weather, so I’m trying to get five miles of cycling a day in at least a couple times a week.

I also picked up a Fitbit in February, to try to keep myself more accountable with regard to my exercise and food intake, and it actually kind of opened my eyes to what I was doing, once I started logging every little bite I took, and refusing food that I couldn’t figure out how to log. Here I was, thinking I was eating relatively okay, and finding out that even without calorie laden sodas, I was sucking in 3600+ calories in a given day, and wasn’t even walking or exercising all that much.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing when you find the truth behind the fork (or the sandwich in the box). This is what I learned on day 1, when I started logging my calories in Fitbit, and needing to know what was in what before I bought it. That day alone, I cut my caloric intake sharply.

The gym membership in March came with me wanting to earn the HSA money that work offers for completing certain goals, and I wasn’t getting there fast enough.

Knowing that getting healthier is being incentivised monetarily is, honestly, my biggest motivator. I like knowing that I can get nearly $200 toward my healthcare expenses every quarter, and being able to hit that goal is pretty nice. And yes, I did hit the first quarter goal through real effort, and have knocked off ten pounds that haven’t come back on rebound.

The support group I started in, I wasn’t interested in it at first, because I thought it was hokey, cheesy crap that was probably going to fat-shame me after two weeks. But, after being there for a few sessions, I’m happy to say I’m wrong about that thought. I still fat-shame myself from time to time, but then I think back to what I told my fitness coach at Anytime Fitness when she asked me about why I joined:

Exercise and weight loss are cheaper than healthcare here in America. I want to get back to a point where I don’t need a $700/month prescription just to stay healthy. I’m lucky right now to be still able to get around on my own two legs, but if I don’t at least try now to lose weight, I am going to die as a fat man, and I’m going to die early. I ain’t ready to go yet.

Jayel

I remember this, and I make myself go. I make myself do. I make myself be.


Losing weight by yourself is anything but easy. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. But, losing weight is not something that has to be a lonely battle, fought behind house doors with loneliness, desperation, and a knife and fork in hands.

I’m guilty of stress eating, of poor dietary choices, of being very sedentary and I guess today, I’m calling myself out on it right on my own blog that isn’t read by anyone. But it’s at least out there on the wires, where maybe someone will come by, and keep me accountable in addition to the support group. Or maybe someone will read this, and think to themselves that this was that last push they needed to get off the couch and go, do, be.

I’m Jayel, and this is my weight loss journey. As of this morning, 20 April 2019, I was at 282.8 lbs (128.28 kg), down from 295 lbs (133.8 kg) when I started this.

I’m using step goals to work on this. I started with 10 pounds as my target. As I hit the target, next target’s a little farther out at 12 pounds. I’m aiming for reasonable amounts of weight loss per week (a pound), and so far, so good, minus the upswing during birthday week at the top of the month.

To do: buy greens to dehydrate for smoothies.

Categories
Bike Time Update

Good night, Ancheer.

So, in March of 2018, I had posted that I bought an Ancheer folding electric mountain bike.

I bought it so that I could cycle more, get to places easier without requiring the use of a bus, but still potentially have the backup option of loading onto a bus should weather or health necessitate said choice.

And ride that bike I did. I would sometimes just go out for 12 mile rides with no rhyme or reason, just a strange need to be in the moment, making the pedals spin. I was able to enjoy cycling again, because I could go much further, much longer, and be in far, far less pain overall. It was exercise that I didn’t dread, and I had fun taking those Saturday trips into downtown for sushi, then going nuts along the river trails and through neighborhoods.

Turning heads when I ride was actually kind of nice. Hey!, someone would shout from a vehicle or at a crosswalk. Is that one of those electric bikes? And I’d turn and reply that it was. People loved it, because here’s a big person, cruising along on a bike that you could see they’re putting pedaling effort into, but not looking winded, and cruising along at up to 20 miles per hour.

I like to think that older folks, upon seeing this, feel more inspired to go out and spend some cash on an electric bicycle, whether they build it themselves, or pick up a pre-fabricated machine. With the number of folks I’ve passed this summer and fall, riding their own electric cycles, I think it is true. Seeing someone do it daily gets them to think, Well, sheesh. If that person can do it, then I can do it.

I noticed somewhere in late Summer, maybe early Fall, there was a crease in my frame in a spot that didn’t make sense. The frame was seemingly cheap and weak, prone to damage, even with careful riding. I didn’t replace the bike then, because other than that weird crease, it seemed I could at least probably get to the end of the year, maybe even to tax season where I could consider replacing it with a better performing e-bike, or even converting another bike.

I had even thrown money at someone to build a new battery for it recently as the existing battery started to just hold less and less of a charge.

Well, with less than two weeks left in the year, my bike decided to give up the ghost. On my short ride to work today, I heard an unusual pop, and felt the bike geometry shift.

It’s a folding bicycle… that was now in danger of folding while I’m trying to bike to work. The hinge latch had popped, unsecuring the bike’s hinge while I’m cycling up a bridge that I cross every day. The front wheel is now about an inch to the left of where it should be.

I can’t use my front brakes at this point, lest the front of the bike slow down quicker than the rear of the bike, forcing it to fold rapidly and toss me off.

I switched immediately to twist throttle mode, so I could at least limp it the rest of the way to work, with judicious application of only the rear brake and short bursts of throttle — pedaling would likely cause enough lateral motion that the broken clamp situation would have only been exacerbated.

With the last half mile covered, I did at least make it to work on time, but it tells me this bike is at its end. Safety-wise, I would not trust the bicycle for anything beyond harvesting its parts and building a new e-bike or e-scooter up from that, and even this might be questionable as I need to have a look at the various components.

In the interim, this leaves me without my daily machine to get around. I do have my previous bike, which I never did sell. This is a moment in which I’m glad I had NOT done so, because I can at least use it to get around, albeit at a much reduced rate.

Also, with having been under the weather really bad in the past couple of weeks and missing work, it’s really not in a happy place of my budget to just buy a new machine. 😐

I’ll figure stuff out, though, I guess.