Book review of A Future With Hope by Carl Armato

A Future with Hope by Carl Armato on Amazon

Carl Armato was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at just 18-months old in 1966. Immediately thrown into the fire of figuring out diabetes, his family rallied around him and together, they started the journey of fitting good diabetes care into a full, faithful, and active life.

He grew up to become President and CEO of Novant Health, one of America’s largest and most respected healthcare organizations, and that’s a special story. It’s an encouraging and entertaining tale told the pages of A Future With Hope and one that tells the tale of learning to share his story of diabetes.

Refuse, refuse, refuse

Opening the book with a story of talking to a teenager with diabetes just after a presentation, Carl plants the seeds that continue to grow throughout the book.

“…refusing to buy into the notion that I couldn’t be a champion tennis player or an all-star shortstop; refusing to believe I couldn’t fall in love, marry and have a wonderful family; refusing to think I could never be a successful professional, just because of diabetes.” he explains to the teen.

Refuse, refuse, refuse. Can you do that?

Carl S. Armato

Surroundings and support

A central figure in Carl’s story is his father, Lucien Armato. From the early pages of the book, Carl’s family is supportive, but it’s his father’s attitude, understanding, and dedication to Carl’s diabetes care that really shines.

Lucien turned diabetes into a positive for Carl, empowering him to see that having diabetes gave Carl a better understanding of how others with illnesses really felt and that he could be of great service to others because of the compassion diabetes created in him.

Carl points out that we all need a strong support system around us, even if it’s just one or two people, and that we need to support our supporters.

He says that living with diabetes means you are a conqueror inside and your spirit as an overcomer can contribute a lot to the world! I agree with him 100%! I am so proud of and impressed by everyone I know who’s living with diabetes.

I also enjoy how Carl decided that staying tight-lipped about his diabetes deprives him of the opportunity to show others that how successful he can be, even with diabetes!

The power of stories

Chapter eight is titled “Helping Others Find Hope.” There is a line that makes me smile because it’s a lot like the diabetes community online. Carl says “When I talk to people about diabetes, it is clear they want to hear the stories, not just the medical information they hear in a physician’s office.”

It’s my belief that the people listening to Carl value the sense of normalcy that comes from hearing his experiences with diabetes. And thanks to his parents, Carl excels at playing up the possibilities rather than focusing on well-known dangers.

Carl talks about people with diabetes learning by doing, and I couldn’t agree more. He says, “it’s difficult to learn this from a little booklet; everyday life events don’t come at you packaged and succinctly coordinated. You’ve got to be able to account for the curveball that life can throw at you on any given day…”

A world bigger than his own

Carl is using his life experience with diabetes and position at Novant Health to make a huge difference on the general population. Also in chapter eight, he shares that two years ago, Novant Health’s patient data revealed that African-American women with diabetes had a 20 percent greater chance of returning to the emergency room and being readmitted to the hospital than other patients with diabetes. Carl drove change in their practices to make sure they have access to medications and education, and now the increased risk among this group is only 3 percent. That’s just one example of the positive change happening within the system Carl is leading.

His father’s eyes would shine when Carl talked about working in healthcare because of the empathy and understanding diabetes nurtured in Carl. His dad talked of creating delightful places for people to receive care thanks to Carl knowing the experience firsthand. Can you imagine receiving care in somewhere that’s delightful? I love that idea, and thanks to Carl, we’re well on our way.

A Future With Hope is a fun, quick, and inspiring read, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Carl’s story. I look forward to the change he’s making in the world!

Every time I heard a no – No, you can’t play sports. No, you probably won’t be an accountant. No, you can’t pursue your dreams – I tried to listen instead to a yes, from inside me.

Carl S. Armato

A wise birdie once said, focus on progress not perfection

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Splenda. The opinions and text are all mine.

Big Moves

My family recently finished a big move, relocating from Minneapolis to San Diego for work. I was born and raised in Minneapolis, I was diagnosed with diabetes there, I met my wife there, we raised our kids there, and our first grandchild was born there. Moving was no small decision, but c’mon… Minnesota winters versus San Diego? It’s a no-brainer, right?

The mySugr office is on California’s historic Pacific Coast Highway, and we’re less than three blocks away from Moonlight Beach. Life feels pretty grand for the Johnson family right now. Did I mention no more Minnesota winters?

Big Dreams

We’ve known about it for a while, but preparing for the big move took a long time. There was lots of planning to do, a ton of logistical details to work out, a million people to coordinate, and sometimes just a lot of waiting.

In all of the excitement, I started a list of all the things I want to learn after settling in.

  • Surfing – I live in one of the world’s legendary surfing spots. I have to at least give it a try!
  • Yoga – The area is also world famous for yoga, which is something I’ve wanted to learn. I’ve been intimidated by it in the past, but there’s no better time than now to give it a try!
  • Speaking German – Many of my colleagues at work speak German, and I think it would be a great skill to add. Thankfully, work is bringing in a language instructor pretty soon. I’m excited!
  • Bass guitar – I don’t know if I have any musical talent, but I would love to learn bass guitar. It also feels like a therapeutic release and change of pace from my regular workdays.
  • More basketball – I enjoy playing basketball, and want to keep enjoying it for as long as I can.

Small Steps

I spent most of March, April, and May facilitating the move. Everything went well. I feel like the dust has settled, and we’re finding our way again. But it took a lot out of me. My physical fitness and health were not a priority while coordinating the move.

Looking at my list of things I want to learn, over half of them are physical (surfing, yoga, and basketball)! It would be a mistake for me to jump headfirst into any of them, so about a month ago I started taking small steps in the right direction and exercising a little bit at a time.

My friend at work introduced me to the beach stairs. It’s a great workout that gets my legs and heart cranking! On a full day, we cover nearly four miles of coastline going up and down every set of stairs along the way.

For the first couple of weeks, I couldn’t do every staircase. It was just too much for me. Now, I’m doing every staircase and even play a few games of basketball afterward. Pretty soon I’ll be flying up those stairs!

The Next Steps

I’m far from where I want to be. The guys on the basketball court are taking me to school, and I don’t feel anywhere near as fit as I’d like yet. But I know I’m making progress. And one of my favorite mantras ever is “focus on progress, not perfection” (thanks, Birdie).

With that in mind, I often think about how I can take one little step closer to where I want to be. I’ve got the exercise piece moving along, and that will get better with time (and patience). Maybe finding a few easy food/drink tweaks in my day will move me forward a little bit, too. I know from experience that small, simple steps can add up to big changes over time.

And right on time, I received a request from SPLENDA® Naturals Stevia Sweetener to sample their 100% natural stevia and share my thoughts with you. Perfect!

I’m happy to find this the best tasting stevia I’ve used. There’s no bitter aftertaste and it’s 100% natural. According to the product information I received, SPLENDA® Naturals is made with stevia extract Reb D instead of Reb A (stevia extract Reb A is known for bitter aftertaste).

The Plan

I’m not going to learn to surf while doing yoga, speaking German, and playing bass guitar in the next two weeks. I know it’s an awesome visual, but let’s wipe that image from your mind right now. Again, 3/5 of my things are physical and exercise related, which I have a good start on. Another great lever to pull here is some small steps around my nutrition and hydration habits.

What I am going to do is:

  • Start a few of my mornings off with a nice fruit smoothie. I’m notorious for skipping breakfast and going right into work. I have early morning meetings and jump right into a busy day. I think it would be an excellent small step for me to get a nutritious start to the morning. Frozen berries, protein powder, plain yogurt, SPLENDA® Naturals, some ice to thicken it up and off we go! Do you have any favorite smoothie recipes? Fill me in!
  • Reduce my Diet Coke consumption. I have no interest in eliminating Diet Coke from my lifestyle. Sorry. It’s one of my things. It brings me joy.
    • However, I admit that I probably drink too much of it. On that point, I commit to swapping some of my Diet Coke for water, and I’ll also introduce some strong coffee and tea through the day instead of more Diet Coke.
    • In that coffee and tea, I’ll use SPLENDA® Naturals instead of sugar to satisfy my urge for sweetness without adding calories or carbs.

I’ll work on these small steps and keep you all posted as I go. It’s important to know that small steps matter, and if I slip up, I will not give up.

Birdie’s mantra rings in my head so often, and I’m forever grateful. “Focus on progress, not perfection.”

Stay tuned!


Disclosure:
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Splenda. The opinions and text are all mine. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Staying hydrated with The Right Cup

Fun brain tricks that help me drink more water

I am trying to drink more water. I’m not abandoning Diet Coke (never that), but I think it’d be a good idea for me to drink more water, too. So when the folks at “The Right Cup™” asked if I’d like to take a look at their cups, I was interested. They sent me two cups to try, one Mixed Berry and one Orange.

Disclosure: I received two “The Right Cup” sample products for review at no charge. The Right Cup had no editorial review or input on this blog post. I will not receive any affiliate benefits or other compensation if you decide to click on any links or give these products a try. 

Two "The Right Cup" products - Mixed Berry and Orange

Co-founder and CEO Isaac Lavi was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 30 and was searching for a solution to help him replace the flavorful, but sugary, drinks in his life. He found a solution using scent!

The idea behind The Right Cup is to use fruity scents to hack our perception of taste, even when drinking plain water. According to their website, much of our what we taste comes from the sense of smell. The bright colors of the cups, along with the smell, should make water taste slightly flavored even when it’s not.

The cups themselves are bright and beautiful, and they smell delicious!

All flavors of The Right Cup

It was really interesting when I tried them. There was a slight hint of flavor! It was very subtle, and I’m not sure if I would have noticed without being primed for the experience. In their FAQ section, they say the flavor becomes more pronounced with continued use because the brain is learning from each experience.

I’ve been on the road a lot since first trying it, so I can’t say whether that’s true or not. But I do think it’s a little more fun drinking water from these than I expected, and I’ll continue to use them. Time will tell. I also thought it was worth sharing.

You might notice that there is a cola flavored cup available… will I get that one? Nah. When I want some cola, which happens on the regular, I’ll turn to my good friend Diet Coke. I don’t need any mind games to appreciate that experience.

Let me know if you try The Right Cup – I’d love to hear what you think!


 

Footbeat – increase circulation through pressure on the foot

Spendy, a little noisy, but what a concept...

I don’t often do reviews, but I was really intrigued by this concept and product and wanted to learn more. I was sent a demo of the Recovery Kit from Footbeat. It is a product that increases circulation through precise, cyclic pressure on the bottom of the foot.

Animation showing pressure on the bottom of the foot and blood circulation moving up the foot and leg

Precise, cyclic pressure on bottom of foot

Their website features testimonials from people with diabetes who’ve experienced great results with their neuropathy or edema after using Footbeat. I, however, don’t have any diagnosed foot or leg complications nor problems that bother me on a consistent basis. So unfortunately, I can’t say personally whether or not they make a difference in that way.

Breakdown of the components - Mocs, insole, engineI can say that they were relaxing, it felt nice while I wore them, I felt I was doing something good for myself, and my feet/lower legs felt great after wearing them. It was a little strange at first but I got used to them really quickly (maybe even a bit spoiled). The pad of the engine pushes up into the arch of the foot every 35 seconds, holds there for a couple of seconds, then goes back down. It’s almost like a foot massage, but with some science behind it.

Apparently, there is a large venous reservoir and pump in the sole of the foot which moves 25-30 cc of blood every 20 seconds (!!). This pump is activated while walking and can be simulated by active intermittent external pressure. These findings are the origin of those machines you see people wearing in hospitals to stimulate blood flow in their feet and legs to prevent blood clots.

While Footbeat is not labeled or cleared for the same therapeutic use as the big sequential compression devices used in hospitals, they are leveraging the same knowledge to increase circulation through cyclic pressure on the bottom of the foot and argue that they’re achieving the same benefits and results with a different method that is much more mobile and cost-effective. All of the components in the Footbeat Recovery Kit

They are battery operated and charged with the cables you can see above. They connect to the charging ports of the insoles with strong magnets, which I found quick and convenient.

I was hoping for longer battery life between charges –maybe two full sessions – but usually didn’t get more than one.  I spoke to the company about this and like any company using batteries, they are always working to increase run time and decrease size/charge time.

I also found them to be louder than I expected. The motor that pushes the pad up was noisy, and enough to startle me sometimes. I did get used to it eventually, but I think it would be disruptive to people around me if I wore them in a public place like my office or on an airplane. Although considering all of the white-noise on a plane, they probably wouldn’t be noticed. I also spoke to the company about this, and it’s something they’re aware of and working on.

It is a significant investment. You’re looking at $449 via their online store or Amazon. But if you’re experiencing issues and feel that improved circulation might help, it’s hard to put a price on that. With that being said, I also looked at a complete sequential compression kit for sports recovery, and that was $1,495. It’s definitely not apples to apples, but it might add some perspective.

There is also a “Sport” version for the same price. The only difference is the timing of the compression intervals. Please reach out directly to Footbeat if you have questions or would like more information.


Disclosure: I received a demo of the ‘Footbeat Recovery Kit – Health’ to evaluate that I will return. I will NOT receive any commissions or affiliate pay/benefits from any purchases made from any links on this page. Footbeat/AVEX LLC had no editorial input on this content. I enjoyed this product enough that I am considering buying a kit for myself.

Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition – hurricane support efforts

Coming together to help those in need

Spreading the word about important and reliable hurricane support efforts. Please help get the word out.


Diabetes Coalition Continues to Support Southeast Texas with Critical Diabetes Supplies and Ready to Respond to Hurricane Irma’s Impact in Puerto Rico and Florida

1-800-DIABETES continues extended hours, and new call center activated for physicians and
health care providers to request supplies

ARLINGTON, Va. (September 8, 2017) – Convened by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a coalition of seven leading diabetes care and research organizations have formed a strong Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition (DERC) to help provide critical diabetes supplies to regions impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Nearly 4,000 pounds of diabetes supplies have been shipped to the southeast Texas region impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and the DERC continues to collaborate to ensure supplies are in place to provide care to those living in shelters or at local health department clinics. In preparation for Hurricane Irma, contacts have already been made in Puerto Rico and Florida, and support in Georgia and South Carolina is in process.

ADA’s Center for Information, 1-800-DIABETES, continues with extended phone hours through the end of next week to assist anyone in need:

  • 8:30 a.m. ET (7:30 a.m. CT) to 10:00 p.m. ET (9:00 p.m. CT), Monday through Friday, through Friday, September 15; and
  • 10:00 a.m. ET (9:00 a.m. CT) to 4:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. CT) on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10.

Given the expanding needs of Hurricane Irma and the continuing needs of the Southeast Texas region, the Coalition has activated a new call center for physicians and health care providers to request diabetes supplies: 1-314-INSULIN. The supply request line will be open and staffed daily by members of the DERC beginning Friday, September 8, from 9:00 a.m. ET to 6:00 p.m. ET.

Please check diabetes.org/hurricanerelief for the latest information.

Information and resources include specific support in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, in addition to these:

During an emergency crisis such as this, it is critical for people with diabetes to have access to the medications and testing supplies needed to maintain proper blood glucose control, and to prevent serious sudden complications such as hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia1. Visit diabetes.org/hurricanerelief for the latest information.

The Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition, convened by the American Diabetes Association, includes JDRF, Insulin for Life USA, Endocrine Society, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Association of Diabetes Educators and Research America. For more information about the Coalition, click here.

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1 W Cefalu et. al. The Hurricane Katrina Aftermath and Its Impact on Diabetes Care. Diabetes Care 29:1, 158-160. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/1/158.

Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program

Putting Beneficiaries' Lives at Risk

A Medicare program designed to save money and make things easier for their beneficiaries with diabetes actually appears to have increased costs, increased hospitalizations, and even increased deaths.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services claims the program for diabetes testing supplies poses no health threat. However, a peer-reviewed journal article recently published in Diabetes Care (fee for full article access) shows otherwise (press release (3/2016)), (press release (12/2015, includes a free link to the white paper the published article is based on)).

Medicare CBP What

(more…)

Diabetes Empowerment Foundation unveiled at SWD 2015

Last weekend the 5th annual Students With Diabetes™ conference took place in Tampa, FL.

Group shot from the 2015 Students with Diabetes Conference

It has become a must-attend event for young adults (age 18-30) with type 1 diabetes. Coming together from more than 103 cities across the nation, these powerful young adults learn, connect and empower one another to pursue success and achievement in life, despite the extra work diabetes puts on their plates. (more…)

Real Life Diabetes Podcast by Diabetes Daily Grind

Logo of the podcast, Real Life Diabetes - by DiabetesDailyGrind.com

I enjoyed a new diabetes podcast today and wanted to spread the word about it. It’s the Real Life Diabetes Podcast by Diabetes Daily Grind.

Amber & Ryan at DDG are fun and laid back. They promise occasional explicit language and content that may not always be suitable for children.

But it doesn’t take long (less than a minute) to see that they’re also serious when it comes to self-improvement and living better with diabetes, and helping others do so, too.

More reasons to like it?

The opening theme song is pretty awesome…

Tell me sugar-mama what’s your A1C, are you into endocrinology…

And I think the closing has a kazoo.

But what really sold me was when Amber burped into the microphone. 🙂

Let ‘er rip, sis! Seriously though – great job, you guys! I’m already looking forward to the next episode!