“If I had a nickel for every time someone said, you don't look like a diabetic ... I would have a bunch of nickels". George talks about the social stigma attached to diabetics and gets more in depth about growing up watching his grandmother live with type one diabetes. As well, a focus on the important necessity for more mental health support for those living with type one diabetes.
Hey everyone. This is George Canyon. Welcome to "Life as a Diabetic - The Highs and Lows". This is Episode four. Episode four is brought to YOU by the Stash Luxury GARAGE CONDOMINIUMS Where do you stash your toys? The Stash Luxury Garage Condominiums just south of Calgary is home to 38 secure luxury garage units that's actually become an elite lifestyle being enjoyed by a community of like minded car enthusiasts. Contact the developers Larry and Leslie for a private viewing of one of the last remaining units. Visit their website at www dot the stash garages dot c a. What have you got worth stashing?. Oh, it's a great location. Actually, I've got to go there a few times and check it out. And some of these places are amazing. You've probably seen shows on TV like, um, Garage Monkey and things like that. And it's like, uh, it's like a big toy playground for collector cars and bikes and just everyone that has that has that love of old memorabilia as well. And that's the Stash Luxury Garage Condominiums. Big thanks to the Stash for being sponsor of Episode four of "Life as a Diabetic - The Highs and Lows". Once again I'm your host George Canyon. And for all the information on the Stash, just check it out online www The Stash Garages dot c a. Well, this is episode four we've been having a lot of fun getting these done. And, of course, um with everything going online right now, my entire industry has moved online, actually, which is well, I don't think we've ever seen that before. So we've been very busy online, and I've unfortunately only be able to get one podcast done a week right now, but at the very least, that's what we're working on. Working on a great guest list. We've had a few wonderful guests in the first, the first three episodes been fantastic, a lot of fun, but we have some guests coming up in the very near future. So you want to be checking back for that. But today I thought we talk today about something that still puzzles me and may have finally, I may have finally clued in ah, a big thanks to ah to my beautiful wife Jen, who's the brains and the beauty in the operation. She said something to me the other day and it finally clicked. And when I was young, I remember people would see me here in Mom and Dad introduced their friends and things and and they'd be like, Wow, you don't really look like a diabetic. That always kind of I don't know. I always thought that was just a little bit weird. I don't look. But what does a.... What does a diabetic look like? And so a. I remember as a kid, kind of thinking to myself, You know what, 14 15 even 16? What does a diabetic look like? Now, if I was to ask that question of everyone listening. What would your answer be? What does a diabetic look like? Let's get real in on it right now. What does a type one diabetic look like? There's a there's a loaded question for you. And after all those years, and I've been out on the road, I've been in the music business for 30 years. I've had quite a few times. I've had people say, well, you don't really look like a type one diabetic. And once again, of course, I maybe I'm just getting older. I would say, well, what does it type one diabetic look like. I'd kind of throw it back at them trying to figure it out. But the other day, it sort of did sort of come to mind. We're watching a TV show, and there was a character on the show. Was was a type one diabetic. And, um, the show was not banging niceties to being a type one. They made this character look quite sick. And that got me thinking, You know what? My nanny was a type one diabetic for most of her life, And I believe we mentioned this back in Episode one. We might have. So my nanny as a type one, she didn't have blood testing equipment. She didn't even I mean, CGM.. forget it. Like my Dexcom G6. If my nanny was alive today, you wouldn't get the smile off her face to not to be able to have your blood sugar. Like she didn't even have the ability to use um-ah, stick. You know, poke her finger finger. Put the blood on a stick, put it in the the Accu-Check or whatever meter you happen to have. And she didn't even have that. She had a stick. That she peed on. I mean, I hate to be right to the point, but I got to be here and she peed on that stick. And then that would give her a rough idea of how much well, how much was spilling over into her urine. And she would basically then take her insulin based on on that. I guess I never really talked to her about it. But when I think you know, when I think back on all those those days I remember I'd be sick and couldn't go to school or we had a day off or was a snowstorm. Lots of snow storms in Nova Scotia when I was a kid and we'd go down and sometimes we get to stay with Nanny and Papa and I watched Nanny had, you know, I'd watch her boiling her needles; I'd watch her drawing up her insulin, never thinking anything about it. And the other thing, too, which is really strange for a lot of, especially nowadays for a lot of type one diabetic kids to think about because they don't even drop needles anymore. They're all these, insulin pumps like like my pump My Omnipod. I don't know. I don't touch an insulin needle anymore. Really? Um, but my nanny, she didn't have disposable needles. She had to boil her syringes and needles. And I just I think about that today. If I could survive as a type one diabetic back then and then Then I started thinking even further back. You know what you think? Okay, well, nanny was healthy as she could be, but nowhere near as healthy as she would have wanted to be with a lot of complications because of sugar fluctuation and high sugars and, you know, causing damage to organs. And, um, I guess that might be why. You know, you don't look like a type one Diabetic comes up. Um, just because nanny would, I guess look like a typical type one diabetic, um, from back in that era. And I'm a very blessed to get to play a lot of shows down in Ontario, down in London, Ontario, and and and of course, I never I never forget Dr Frederick Banting and Dr Charles Best. And what they accomplished because had they not accomplished it well, we wouldn't be listening to my podcast. It's as simple as that. So, you know, there's a part of me that thinks back to you know, what did a type one diabetic look like in that era? Um what did a type one diabetic look like prior to that? You know, it was not something I ever thought about. Um, until you know, someone first said it to me. Well, you don't look like a type one diabetic, and nowadays I would challenge anyone to tell him to point out in a lineup of 10 people point out the type one diabetic. All these kids that have been blessed to meet and their parents and and work with right across North America, hoping to, you know, of course, encourage them to control their diabetes and live their dreams. That's the number one thing with me, and I'll always be that way. Every one of them. There's no way I could pick them out of a lineup and say, Yeah, that's ah, that's a type one diabetic right there. Not a chance. Um, you know, insulin pump therapy, CGM's um, the list, the list goes on, and all those different different new therapies and technology are giving all of us type ones. Well, they're giving us, um, health that that we never knew we could have. And I'm sure my nanny was alive. She would, like I said earlier, she would just be grinning ear to ear. You couldn't get that grin off her face, but that didn't slow her down. You know, that's the other thing. She, uh wow. She did everything. She she would take care of the whole family, all the uncles and aunt Jesse and live in that little house down in Westville. Papa was a coal miner until he got Miner's Lung or the black lung and ended up having to stay home. Probably drove, drove nanny crazy. Um, but she would bake everything. I remember sitting down there and she was baking pies and baking bread and every now and again she'd let us kids use the flour sifter which still to this day's just I don't know what it is about an old antique flour sifter. I love those things, and they're so much fun, and we would help her out and, you know, she would make all these wonderful, wonderful desserts and things, but I never saw her ever eat any of it. And I was wondering, you know, uh, because for me, I'm gonna be really honest here, Um, I'm I'm a dessert nut. I love desserts. I'm like, if you said, Here's here's dessert and you can eat this and not have to worry at all about anything. That's all I need all day long was desserts. I just love 'em. But she just had this ability, this will power if you will, um, to not touch any of it and, uh, and raise, you know, raised all those kids and the entire family, and they'd go camping down Black Brook Lake and they, you know, she just went along. I've never, never once did I see her sugar get low. But I do remember Dad telling me about times where nanny's sugar would get low and and, you know, she would have orange juice or whatever. Whatever happened be around. And now, of course, we've got so many different things that you can eat when you're sugar's low, as all the diabetics know out there so many different options for treating low sugar and treating severe low sugar as well. But a lot of the times for my nanny, it wasn't so much. And I remember Dad telling me this because he was he was the Chief Tech at the hospital lab. So that was his specialty was blood work and everything to do with with that and the human body. But I do remember him saying it wasn't so much that nanny would go really low with her blood sugar. It was more that she would fall quickly. And I can definitely attest to that, you know, some days my sugar might only drop to 4 or 3.7. But if not so much over the last, let's call it 10 12 years. But prior to that, it would drop so fast some days and and that was what would kind of cause me the issue was that was how quick it would drop. That would make me feel for choice of better words - 'wonky' and I would immediately get sugar. But back in the days for nanny, you know, when all those type one diabetics, um, who are very grateful they had insulin, beef and pork. I believe is last insulin she was on was beef and pork. It must have been, you know, must have been an incredible tough time. I really can't imagine that. But back to that question, um, You don't look like a type one diabetic? and I think nowadays you know, it's it's ah, it's a it's a whole new world And part of the reason we're doing this podcast is to really get the messaging out there, to not just the diabetic community and sharing in our stories and and sharing in in our triumphs and also in our mistakes and failures. But to get the message out to society on that, it's it's a whole different ball game now. These type one diabetic kids, they have so much technology in front of them, they can, they can achieve whatever they want. You know, controlling their diabetes. It's still a lot of work. Don't kid yourself. If you're not a type one diabetic and you know you hear us talking about insulin pump therapy or my Dexcom G6 (my C. G M. ) Um, we don't just turn that on and forget and walk away. It's still you have to put the work in, but the discipline is there and and when you are disciplined and you do put the work in while the rewards are above and beyond. Really, and in the industry I'm in where I travel so much or I was, up to Covid, um it really is a difficult lifestyle for being a type one diabetic, or it used to be. Let me just say that it used to be back when I first went on the road in 1990 it was, uh it was it was tough. Um, and of course I was lazy. Um, I was not disciplined. I was stretching spreading my wings, if you will. Experiencing life, I'm on the road in a country rock band. And where what we would call, you know, rock stars for choice of better. But believe me, we were not rock stars. The places places that we played and the things that we saw and the just the places we had to sleep or put your head down. Um, I won't get into that on the podcast is they don't want people that cringe. But taking care of myself as a type one diabetic was, like, so low on my priority list, and I man, I wish I would have had an insulin pump back then I wish I would have had My Omnipod pump. And I wish I'd had my DexcomG6 because it nowadays, when I'm on the road, it's so much easier and the discipline is there. But you get way more for the discipline for being disciplined like the reward is huge. My sugars are very, very stable. And when your sugars are stable, you feel better. Um, you feel happier and, as everyone knows right now with mental health, the mental health side of type one diabetes, and we're gonna get into this in another podcast, for sure. But the mental health side of type one diabetes is is huge. Um, every parent I've talked to including giving, giving different keynotes to different organizations in medicine as well. Doctors and diabetes care workers and nurses, um, everyone that I talked to. I touch on the mental health of the type one diabetic because controlling our disease, yes, insulin is is the godsend. It is the lifesaver. But the treating of our disease really is about 80 to 90% mental for a type one diabetic, you know, and I've talked to so many kids across the country about their diabetes, and I've had to deal with a few are very sad stories and, you know, you hear from parents and this one, one couple said our daughters and they had twin daughters who were both Type one diabetic. And they said, our daughters are 11 years old and they're not taking their insulin. They're saying they're they're forgetting to take their insulin. And of course, the parents are right there and you know, but but as a parent, you're also wanting your children to to take care of themselves, like to take responsibility. That's how that's how it works. As a type one diabetic you want to, you wanna own this? You want to control this disease and and then live your dreams. And these two little girls just said, "Oh, yeah, we're forgetting". Well, I sat down and talked to them, and I got to the bottom of it. I said, there's no way you're forgetting to take your insulin because if I forget to take my insulin, if I forget to tell my insulin pump, you know I need this insulin because I'm eating a chicken burger. It doesn't feel good. It feels bad when my sugar goes high. You can't ignore that. And there's no way they were ignoring it. So anyway, we got to the bottom of the story. They wanted to be school teachers when they grew up. They had it in their mind. That's what they were going to do. And they talked to their teacher about it. And their teacher, not maliciously but ignorantly to a degree said, Well, no, you guys can't be schoolteachers. You're diabetics and those two little girls basically listened to their teacher because they, you know, they always listen to their teacher. Basically decided that was it. Why bother taking insulin if they weren't going to get their to live their dreams of being a school teacher. Now we all know that that is not correct. We all know. And I'm sure some of you listening, know type one diabetic schoolteachers. I know them. Um, so we know that is not the truth. But the point is, at 11 years old, they had made the decision to not control or not take responsibility and be disciplined to control their diabetes because there was gonna be no reward. They weren't going to get to be school teachers because of their diabetes, so why bother? So right there, 80 to 90% if not more of their control was was a mental health issue. And and it's so vital that we talk about our diabetes to everyone, to not just the diabetic community but to society. I've watched it change over the last 15 years. I have watched people open up and go oh yeah, it's just type one diabetes they're, they're in incredible shape, they're incredible control. Heck they're in better shape than I am. I've heard that lots of time with people talking to me like you're you're in way better shape than I am. And you know, when you're a type one diabetic and we'd never know, we would never know you were type one. And so the days of that comment of you don't look like a type one. Those air now being replaced with wow, we'd never know you were a type one diabetic and I still have fans today, even though I talked about it all the time. I still have fans that didn't know that I've been a Type one diabetic for 36 years. But the mental health side of the disease is something that we all need to be paying attention to and health care needs to be treating. When I was growing up as a type one diabetic, not once did my specialist or my doctor, anybody say maybe we should, you know, be getting some healthy checkups from from a psychiatrist to make sure you know, George is doing good in good mental health and because it weighs on you as a kid. As an adult, it weighs on you, and we're gonna have a whole episode dedicated to the mental health side of type one diabetes. It's gonna be coming up, but it all ties back to 'You don't look like a diabetic'. And, um, man, I could talk for hours just on that. You know that one statement that one question. But thank the good Lord technology's there, and it's been there for quite a few years, and where it's going is incredible. It's Yeah, we're going to get to a cure. I know we are. Thanks so much for joining me on Episode four of "Life as a diabetic - The Highs and the Lows" and a big thanks to the Stash Luxury Garage Condominiums just south of Calgary. It's home to 38 secure luxury garage units, and it's become an elite lifestyle being enjoyed by a community of like minded car enthusiasts. If you are one of those people, make sure you check out the stash. Contact the developers Larry and Leslie, for a private viewing of one of the last remaining units. There's not many left, so you want to be checking it out. Visit their website at www The Stash Garages dot c a That's www The Stash Garages dot c a What have you got worth stashing? And like I said, it's an incredible place. Thanks so much for joining me everyone. I'm George Canyon and this is the podcast. "Life as a diabetic - The highs and the lows". God Bless you this week, we'll talk to you next week. See you later!