Caregiving, Diabetes, Health, Latino culture, Parenting our Parents, Quesadilla Generation, Shingles

Another Chapter from the Quesadilla Generation

Most baby boomers, and some Gen X’er’s, are part of the “sandwich generation,” caring for aging parents. There is also an estimated 8 million Latino baby boomers taking care of both elderly parents and children.  Life this past month has added another chapter to my stories about the Quesadilla Generation.

Illness, death, grief, and caring for an aging parent have filled the days this past month. This was not a good time (not that there is a suitable time) for my mom to come down with an illness that took a month to identify and treat.

After two trips to the ER and a couple of doctor visits,she was finally diagnosed with Shingles. This is an acute, painful inflammation of the nerve ganglia, with a rash usually on the back or abdomen and flu-like symptoms. ( I won’t post a photo of Shingles, they are a little nasty looking, hence the food pictures).

If you have had chicken pox in the past, or if you were vaccinated for it, the virus never completely leaves your system. Even long after the itchy rash and infection are gone, the virus lays in a dormant or resting state in the spinal nerve cells of our bodies. The symptoms of the virus disappear, and are kept in check by our healthy immune systems. 

The risk of developing shingles is much higher in older people. The chances of the virus becoming reactivated doubles every 10 years over the age of 50. That’s why doctors recommend the shingles vaccination at age 50. Personally, I’m hesitant to introduce a live virus into my body, but also concerned about getting this illness. I have to think on that one for another week. 

People with a lowered immune system are also at high risk for developing Shingles. My poor mom had a triple whammy. She is over 80 years, diabetic, and has had acute stress from the loss of her sister.

People who have had Shingles can tell you that there is excruciating pain for several days and weeks. Mom said it was like someone jabbing her in the abdomen with a knife, as bad as labor pains, and she has a high pain tolerance. Days went by with her sleeping almost around the clock, wincing whenever anything touched her rash, and barely tolerating broth. She did pluck my sister’s bush of Yerba Buena dry. It’s a great tea for stomach pain.

The best thing we could have hoped for was the around the clock care given by my sister. As mom’s pain subsided a bit she gained strength and worked her way up to finishing a full bowl of chicken ginger soup, pumpkin pear, and whatever my gourmet sister whipped up that was full of healthy ingredients. 



But I was the ‘bad’ sister. When I went over to visit I brought my mom pork tamales and champurrado. Mom took a quick gulp of the champurrado and said she had to hide it from “Nurse Ratchet,” which she now calls my sister. (They are famous for their food fights). With that remark I knew that mom had to be feeling better. 

Champurrado-photo by Sharon123 food.com

Today my sister and I took mom to our church’s Women’s Brunch, a beautiful annual affair, and mom had a great time. She felt well enough to take a spoonful or two of various foods without a stomach upset. So well, that after the last Christmas song was sung I saw her (out of the corner of my eye) sliding a few candies from the centerpiece under her plate. Sister and I had to make a grab for the candies before mom swiped them off the table and into her purse. But thank goodness she feels better, even though it means we have to watch her near a candy bowl. 

Take your vitamins, supplements, de-stress, exercise, laugh, and be well. 



Diabetes, Family, Health, Healthy choices, Jose Vidal, PSA on diabetes

Two Minutes: Between Health and Diabetes

Do you have 2 minutes to hear and see a PSA on healthy choices? If you value you and your children’s health, I’m sure you have a couple of minutes to spare.

My siblings and I, along with millions of others, are at risk for type 2 diabetes. My kids may also be predisposed.Their paternal and maternal grandmothers are long time diabetics, now suffering debilitating health effects in their later years. 

                Research shows that the risk of diabetes is inherited through the mother. Compound that with two environmental risks: obesity and inactivity, and we have a triple threat.


Because of the above facts, our family often talks about diabetes and how to prevent its onset. Usually onset begins after age 45, however this age has increasingly become lower through the years. My siblings and I are over 45 now, but we are still at risk and so are our children if we ignore the environmental factors. 

                                50 years ago, fewer than 1 out of 100 Americans had Diabetes. Now, 1 in 10 do. 


So it is cool to see and hear about Public Service Announcements geared towards younger folks, warning them about Diabetes and presenting choices. In two minutes, this young man Jose VIdal, takes you on a musical journey through choices we can each make to improve our own health.  


                              50 years ago, the average American consumed approximately 20 lbs. of sugar and corn sweetener. Today the # is 85 lbs.                                                             



If you want to spend another couple of minutes hearing another really cool PSA you can click on this site. 


That’s it, now on to your 30 minutes of daily activity. 


Diabetes, Dr. Oz on diabetes, Family, Health, Healthy eating, National Women's Health Week

4 Ways to Beat Back Diabetes 2

It’s still National Women’s Health Week, so post and tweets are all about things we can do to get healthier. A major concern to women, and me, is Diabetes. It’s been called an epidemic with predictions of increasing numbers in children. Type 2 Diabetics are four times likely to die from heart disease. For an eyeopener on what diabetes does to the body, watch this short Oprah video.


Can 90% of type 2 diabetes really be prevented by lifestyle changes? Numerous studies say ‘yes’ we can prevent or control Diabetes 2 with changes to our eating and activity level. 


I’m a believer in lifestyle changes, mainly  because my mother has had Diabetes 2 for 45 years. Unfortunately I can’t say she is in tip top health, but she does pretty darn well for 84 years-although for the past 7 years she’s been legally blind (lost vision due to diabetes) and has constant pain in her legs (poor circulation). 


Last year I posted a story about Mom and the battle for the three layer chocolate cake. I know first hand how difficult controlling diabetes can be. Lots of times it’s a meal by meal battle.  


This morning she wanted to go out to eat, after an appointment, and she didn’t care if it was afternoon, she wanted pancakes, not a salad. So off we went. She was in a good mood, so she took my recommendations for multi-grain pancakes and sugar free syrup. I lost on the bacon issue (limiting red meat or processed meat lowers your risk of diabetes).


“I’m old, let me have some pleasure,” she wailed. 
My Vegan son smiled and told me, “It’s a little late now, isn’t it?” 
I still managed to whisper “no butter on the pancakes,” to the waitress.


Lately, Mom’s been trying to make better food choices, not because of her 4 children, but because she loves Dr. Oz. 



So in honor of NWHW, my mom, and Dr. Oz, I thought I’d share four ways he recommends to beat back diabetes:(from June ’12 issue of Oprah magazine).

  1. Eat wisely: chose whole grains, fill up on fiber (berries, veggies), enjoy the antioxidants of a few cups of java (light on sugar,cream) which studies found to reduce blood sugar levels.  
  2. Sweat it out, get moving: walk that dog, spouse, child-whatever, just get out there for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Get your heart rate up. Build muscle-strength train for 10-15 minutes four times a week, take the stairs, ride a bike, skate, chase your toddler. 
  3. Start supplementing: Fortify with magnesium which is found in beans, green veggies,nuts and whole grains. Use cinnamon, about 2 teaspoons, in your coffee, oatmeal, tea, baked apple. Add Alpha-Lipoic Acid (mom’s current favorite). Dr. Oz says it protects retinas from glucose damage and lowers triglycerides.
  4. Change your attitude:   Be mindful of your health, Insulin levels are strongly linked to melatonin (the sleep hormone), when you have poor sleep it can cause fluctuations in blood sugar-so get your 8 hours. Relax: listen to music, find a positive support system, meditate for 10 minutes, stop and take deep belly breathes. 

Take the Diabetes risk quiz on the ADA site. They have several more tips on living with Diabetes, food and fitness, and research. Give some of these suggestions a chance and remember the NWHW theme: It’s Your Time.


Do you have concerns with diabetes or have to do battle with your parents or loved ones? What works for you?