Chronic pain creates several vicious cycles. For one, people tend to tense their muscles in response to pain, which often makes the pain worse. Pain also leads people to stop moving, which leads to increasing stiffness and more pain. Pain can interfere with sleep, and restless nights can increase pain. Pain also can contribute to depression and painful emotions such as anger, grief, fear, and frustration, which in turn contribute to pain.
Let’s face it, when you’re a college-educated 57-year-old slinging parcels for a living, something in your life has not gone according to plan. That said, my moments of chagrin are far outnumbered by the upsides of the job, which include windfall connections with grateful strangers. There’s a certain novelty, after decades at a legacy media company—Time Inc.—in playing for the team that’s winning big, that’s not considered a dinosaur, even if that team is paying me $17 an hour (plus OT!). It’s been healthy for me, a fair-haired Anglo-Saxon with a Roman numeral in my name (John Austin Murphy III), to be a minority in my workplace, and in some of the neighborhoods where I deliver. As Amazon reaches maximum ubiquity in our lives (“Alexa, play Led Zeppelin”), as online shopping turns malls into mausoleums, it’s been illuminating to see exactly how a package makes the final leg of its journey.
"Secondary" diabetes refers to elevated blood sugar levels from another medical condition. Secondary diabetes may develop when the pancreatic tissue responsible for the production of insulin is destroyed by disease, such as chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas by toxins like excessive alcohol), trauma, or surgical removal of the pancreas.
There are some interesting developments in blood glucose monitoring including continuous glucose sensors. The new continuous glucose sensor systems involve an implantable cannula placed just under the skin in the abdomen or in the arm. This cannula allows for frequent sampling of blood glucose levels. Attached to this is a transmitter that sends the data to a pager-like device. This device has a visual screen that allows the wearer to see, not only the current glucose reading, but also the graphic trends. In some devices, the rate of change of blood sugar is also shown. There are alarms for low and high sugar levels. Certain models will alarm if the rate of change indicates the wearer is at risk for dropping or rising blood glucose too rapidly. One version is specifically designed to interface with their insulin pumps. In most cases the patient still must manually approve any insulin dose (the pump cannot blindly respond to the glucose information it receives, it can only give a calculated suggestion as to whether the wearer should give insulin, and if so, how much). However, in 2013 the US FDA approved the first artificial pancreas type device, meaning an implanted sensor and pump combination that stops insulin delivery when glucose levels reach a certain low point. All of these devices need to be correlated to fingersticks measurements for a few hours before they can function independently. The devices can then provide readings for 3 to 5 days.
Narcotic medicines, which include opiates such as morphine and synthetics such as oxycodone, are sometimes given for pain. Narcotics dampen all senses, not just pain. Because of side effects including sleepiness, constipation, and addiction, they are less often used for chronic pain than they used to be. But they are still very helpful for some people, and most chronic pain specialists will prescribe them.
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Travis and Ardell found a kindred spirit in Bill Hettler, a staff physician at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Influenced by their work, Hettler founded the annual National Wellness Conference at Stevens Point, now in its 35th year. The conference lent valuable academic prestige to the wellness movement. It also caught the attention of Tom Dickey, who was working with the New York publisher Rodney Friedman in the early 1980s to set up a monthly newsletter on health, based at the University of California, Berkeley. Friedman wanted the publication to compete with the Harvard Medical School Health Letter, and Dickey suggested using wellness in the title as a contrast. In 1984, the Berkeley Wellness Letter was born.
Most universities and colleges have health centers that offer counseling services to enrolled students. You can take advantage of counseling services and/or medical services for stress and other areas of mental wellness. It’s in your best interest – and that of your patients – if you are the healthiest version of yourself. Find information on the health center at your dental school.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is common in people with type 1 and type 2 DM. Most cases are mild and are not considered medical emergencies. Effects can range from feelings of unease, sweating, trembling, and increased appetite in mild cases to more serious effects such as confusion, changes in behavior such as aggressiveness, seizures, unconsciousness, and (rarely) permanent brain damage or death in severe cases. Moderately low blood sugar may easily be mistaken for drunkenness; rapid breathing and sweating, cold, pale skin are characteristic of low blood sugar but not definitive. Mild to moderate cases are self-treated by eating or drinking something high in sugar. Severe cases can lead to unconsciousness and must be treated with intravenous glucose or injections with glucagon.
Pain specialist Karen Burt, MD, director of Integrative Medicine at Contra Costa Regional Health Center in California, says that spiritual approaches help many people with chronic pain. “With chronic pain,” she says, “one needs to connect or return to all positive aspects of one’s being and one’s life. So if puppies and kids and nature and flowers and hot baths and your sister bring you pleasure and comfort, by all means, keep them in your life. By the same token, everyone has internal sources of positivity: one’s faith, one’s awe and appreciation of nature or life itself, and qualities like strength, courage, wisdom, hope, and inspiration.”
After breaking this down, Brand took questions from the audience. The first was from a person in the third row who said her brother is an addict who keeps coming to her for money. What should she do? Brand moved to the very front of the stage and looked into the back of her eyes and told her she knows what she has to do—which is cut him off, let him hit rock bottom. She said, yes, she knows, and she cried.
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.