Paying Attention: by Claire M. Blum, MS Ed, RN, CDE

Over the years I have purchased a great number of house plants, only to have them die. I used to blame their demise on the unfavorable lighting and environmental conditions of the apartments where we lived, and believed they would magically grow, when at last, they were awarded a proper place in our new home!

Silver QueenAs a house warming gift, my brother-in-law "master gardener" gave us a Weeping Fig, with the assurance that nothing, short of a chain saw, could kill it ... And I dared not tell him that I'd already successfully killed at least one weeping fig. In addition, my Mother gave us her large sprawling Silver Queen, which was given to her in memory of my Grandmother, at the time of her death.

Next, I went out and purchased what I believed to be the "perfect plants" to further grace our sun room, decorative tables, windows, and plant stands. I wanted specific plants in specific places, and fully expected they would thrive under the conditions of my preference. I quickly learned, however, that every plant had its own conditions for survival, and that my preference did not always agree with theirs. Some of the plants survived but did not thrive, and others refused to live at all... In spite of my repeated replacement with younger and healthier specimens! 

When my husband suggested that the plants might prefer another area of the house, I took offence. Why wouldn't a plant enjoy living in the place I thought it would look best? But, after repeated failure, I decided to try placing my plants in different areas of our home, to discover what they liked best. The rewards were amazing. Plants that had previously hung on to life by a mere thread came to life. For others, I learned that pruning was necessary, in order to establish root systems, strong enough to support their vines.

I also learned that although a specific location may be right for a plant, the containers I used, or the way I watered or tended the plant may not. Take for instance my African Violets that always seemed to wilt and die. The plants would bloom and thrive and then suddenly wilt and rot. I gave up. But my niece thought better of it and brought me two African Violets that were in need of much TLC. I'm not certain what changed, but it seemed that something awakened in me to meet their need. As I began to reflect on the problems I'd had in the past, I realized that the leaves on the Violets often wilted around the base. So I placed smooth stones under the leaves to keep them from touching the soil. I also realized that my habit of removing droopy leaves that looked "bad" contributed to their demise. So I decided to be patient and clip the moist leaves off near the stem, rather than near the base where moisture could seep out and cause leaf rot.  

I learned that most of my plants require different care in the winter, when the air is dry and the African Violetsun comes in at a lower angle, sometimes requiring water as often as twice a week, rather than their weekly summer fair... that all of my plants do not require water at the same times ... Some get water logged, while others require large amounts of water on a frequent basis. Some wilt very rapidly to tell me when they need water, and perk up just as quickly, once water is received. Others do not as readily tell ... and I have to feel thier soil in order to determine when water is needed.

Another thing I have learned is that some things take time. I had an orchid that brought me a great deal of joy when it bloomed. I called it my "Orchid of Promise" because it seemed to bloom at the times I needed it most. But, it also seemed that those times were few and far between, and I began to doubt myself and believed I was doing something wrong. And, after several barren years, I decided to give my orchid to a friend who grows orchids as a hobby. When he received my plant, he was quite surprised to see how healthy it was, and he told me that orchids can take Philodendronas long as 3 or more years to bloom. I had given up too soon!

Caring for your body is much like caring for a plant. You have to listen and pay attention, in order to know what it needs. You have to practice and learn from experience, to discover what works and what does not. And, you have to monitor your numbers, in order to know what is happening.

It has been said that the way you take care of your house plant, mirrors the way you take care of your body. Most of us have not been trained in knowing how to pay attention to our bodies, and we often have little experience in caring for life. We may even feel the need to have someone give us permission to take care of our bodies. So go ahead, buy a house plant. Let it teach you how to "pay attention."  



Endnote: I am pleased to report that the Weeping Fig and Silver Queen continue to thrive, after 16 plus years of TLC. I have propagated plants with rootings from the Silver Queen, and share them with friends as a legacy to the nurturing love of my Grandmother. And, my African Violets now alternate with each other in provision of continuous blooms!  



Know Your ABC's

A A1C < 7%

Pre meal glucose 90 -130 mg/dl
After meal glucose < 180 mg/dl (1 to 2 hours following meal)
Individual Goals: A1C as close to normal (< 6%) as possible without significant hypoglycemia
        Less stringent A1C goals if you have severe or frequent hypoglycemia
        Test at least 2 times a year in you already meet treatment goals
Test quarterly if treatment plan has changed or you do not meeting treatment goals

BBlood Pressure< 130/80 mmHg
Individual Goals:Lower blood pressure goals for people with nephropathy (kidney disease)

C Cholesterol

LDL Cholesterol < 100 (<2.6 mmol/L)
HDL Cholesterol
     > 40 Men
     > 50 Women
Triglycerides < 150

Individual Goals: Test at least 1 time a year

Reference: American Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Recommendations, 2010



Hemoglobin A1C

When blood glucose levels are high, the excess glucose that is floating around in your blood, permanently attaches itself to your red blood cells. A1C is a measure of how much glucose gets stuck to the hemoglobin portion of your red blood cells, and provides a picture of your overall blood glucose control over the past 2 to 3 months.

The recommended A1C target for most people is < 7%

Correlation of A1C to Average Blood Glucose

A1C %     Mean plasma glucose

         %         mg/dl       mmol/L

          6            126           7.0

          7            154           8.6

          8            183           10.2

          9            212           11.8

         10            240           13.4

         11            269           14.9

         12            298           16.5


Most blood glucose meters provide an average blood glucose value of your readings over the past 7 to 14 days. This allows you to monitor how close to target your diabetes control has been.

Reference: American Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Recommendations, 2010




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