5 Part Series: Diabetes

In your lifetime, you’ve most likely encountered diabetes in some way. Maybe a close family member, relative, friend, or teammate has the disease. You’ve probably seen it in commercials or TV shows and you most likely learned about diabetes and the pancreas in high school biology. Diabetes is a metabolic disease that arises from the inadequate production of insulin or from the body’s rejection of insulin from the pancreas. It is a disease that is growing in America and many say has become an epidemic as the rates of children and young adults with diabetes is increasing every year. In this 5 Part Series, we will take a look at what this disease exactly is, living with the disease, different treatment options, and the future of the disease.

Part 1

To begin, diabetes (scientifically known as diabetes mellitus) doesn’t just happen to obese people or lazy people or the kids who ate too much Halloween candy growing up.

Diabetes is a disease that can strike anyone regardless of walk of life. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is the more severe of the two and is also called “juvenile” diabetes as it usually is found in children and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas because the body sees the insulin-producing cells as foreign. When the immune system kills insulin, it prevents the body from turning the glucose you eat into energy which in turn leads to the body’s cells starving from lack of glucose. Type 2 diabetes, also called “adult onset” diabetes as it is more common in adults, is the more common type. With type 2, the body produces insulin, just not enough or not consistently. This leads to insulin resistance in the body.

 

“With both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, it is very important to remain on a balanced diet and exercise routine. This will not only help regulate blood sugars in the short run, but help reduce the risk of complications in the future,” said Cumberland River Clinic physician Sarah McQueen.

Part 2

Diabetes is continuing to be a problem in America as the rate of children, young adults, and adults with the disease continues to climb. The Center for Disease Control reported that 29 million people in the US have diabetes, roughly 9% of the population. This large number has led to over $240 billion spent on medication, research, and other costs to help treat and find a cure for the disease. It is a complicated disease that requires balance and patience, as we will see next when we discover what it is like to live with diabetes.

Diabetes in itself is a complicated disease, living with it is a daily struggle and battle between you and your body. That is the case for the 21 million people in the US who have diagnosed type 1 or type 2 diabetes. UC student Daniel Enge knows firsthand what it is like to live with the disease.

“I’ve lived with it for so long now I have developed a routine on how to do things and manage it,” said Enge.

On a normal day, Enge will wake up and test his blood sugar in the morning before eating. After he eats he will correct for how much carbohydrates he eats using his insulin pump. The does this throughout the day before eating lunch and dinner too. There are a few things that a diabetic has to keep an eye out for; low and high blood sugars. This requires either extra insulin to be used if it is high or to eat some sugar or drink juice to raise it if it is low.

“I can tell by now if my blood sugar is low or high without even checking. If it is high I get easily agitated and my eyesight gets blurry. In that case I need to give myself some more insulin. If I am low I feel weak and shaky. In that case I eat something such as gummy bears or a small thing of juice,” he said.

Living with diabetes can be tough and frustrating. Some days your body will react better or worse with the insulin. Factors such as stress or anxiety can raise blood sugar levels or cause them to fluctuate. It is something diabetics like Daniel Enge have come to terms with and embraced as they fight this disease every day.

Part 3

Living with diabetes can be frustrating to manage, but the technology we have today has made living with diabetes much more convenient compared to decades ago when scientists were still learning about the disease. According to EveryDayHealth.com, the only gotten better.

“Diabetes was a very misunderstood disease when I was growing up. I remember a classmate of mine having it and the concept of insulin and proper use of it was not fully understood. She would avoid food all together and always suffered from seizures. It was awful,” said Jennifer McJunkin, who grew up with a diabetic father and classmates.

In the last 20 years alone, science has made multiple breakthroughs regarding the disease which have helped improve the overall quality of life in diabetics as well as led to a decrease in amputations and other complications. The

“For how long my father lived with diabetes, he alone saw a complete change in treatment options and ways to manage his blood levels in a short time. From not knowing how to control it properly to knowing exactly what to and how much insulin to give yourself. It was truly amazing,” she said.

dbd5e130968c3f6b83797653fa58d60a

On the left, what the first diabetic insulin pump looked like and on the right, the size of insulin pumps today. Amazing!

Part 4

Diabetes has come a long way in such a short amount of time but there is still a lot of research and innovative ideas that scientists are working on today. There is an abundance of money, time, and, effort being put into new ways to manage, diagnose, and one day cure diabetes. The spearhead of this operation is Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) who currently have research projects in 17 different countries totaling over $530 million and spent $112 million alone on strictly type 1 diabetes research in 2012. They are a global organization that looks to progressively remove the impact of Type 1 Diabetes from people’s lives until we live in a world without Type 1 Diabetes.

Some of the current focuses on this disease is understanding why the body attacks the insulin cells. There is a multitude of research being done to find ways to block this from occurring as well as finding ways to regenerate the cells attacked by the body through stem cell research. Other research efforts are being focused on the prevention of long term complications from the disease such as kidney and vision problems. These new drugs help to block enzymes that contains glucose that travels to the kidneys, eyes, and heart and damages blood vessels.

The next major breakthrough being pursued comes in the form of artificial pancreases. This advanced technology is a lot like pumps that are widely used and available today, but these are more efficient and effective in the short and long term. Research by the New England Journal of Medicine showed promising results in their trials.

 

 

Finally, breakthroughs are being made in the awareness of the disease as well as in discovering areas that are in need of insulin. In underdeveloped countries and poor cities, it can and often times is a death sentence to be a diabetic in those areas simply because insulin isn’t provided. With the help of awareness and technology different organizations can work to help make sure all diabetics can have a fighting chance with this disease.

Part 5

Diabetes is not going away anytime soon. There is still a lot that needs to be researched and understood before a potential cure can even be thought of. The good news is that we are on the way. With the research underway and the amount of funding going towards the disease, it is only a matter of time before a major breakthrough occurs. Unfortunately, our society outside of those concerned with diabetes isn’t helping. Many say America is currently in an obesity epidemic with over 35% (79 million) Americans considered obese today and that number is growing. The troubling statistic is seen in the rate at which young children are getting increasingly bigger and this is a result of our culture.

“I have seen the effects of obesity on people. Kentucky isn’t exactly the most in-shape state in the country. Obesity increases the risk of so many other diseases down the road, especially heart disease and diabetes. It’s hard to see it changing anytime soon,” said Cumberland Clinic Physician Natalie King.

Our government and food industry had made it hard to not become obese. Laws and regulations are put in place to benefit the food industries. Their main concern is money, not the health of people. New discoveries have shown that sugar can be biologically addictive. Everything around us promotes the consumption of unhealthy food. From school lunches to vending machines. From super-sized meals at McDonalds to extra-large slushees at convenient stores. All of this creates a standard that hooks kids when they are young. On top of this, it is cheaper for a mother to buy five items from the dollar menu then to buy salads or fruit from the same place. This type of backward thinking has led to this obesity and diabetic epidemic that won’t change unless we do.

Far From Home

Mana Tanajantaporn is currently a sophomore at the University of the Cumberlands. Like most students at UC, she is engaged in the school through sports and activities, has many friends, and is making new memories every day at one of the fastest growing liberal arts college in Kentucky. The one thing that makes Mana unique compared to the average student is that she isn’t from here. She isn’t from anywhere in the United States. Mana is from Bangkok, Thailand, a place 8,929 miles away. UC has students from all over the world, which makes he07THI-Map-Thailand-web.jpgr a part of the unique melting pot of culture that is seen on campus today.

Mana has been in the U.S. for the past five years since enrolling at Oneida Baptist Institute her sophomore year of high school.  Even though it’s been five years, she is still continuing to adjust and grow into the American culture around her.

“The biggest differences and aspects to adjust to have been the language and culture barriers. It took me a while to learn English and I still have some problems saying certain words. Culturally, that is natural coming from one country to another,” she said.

In the US compared to Thailand, there are notable differences in things such as styles of dress, acceptable and unacceptable gestures, and greetings.

When she came to America, she had a host family she stayed with. Both her host mom and dad attended UC, so she naturally had an idea of where she wanted to attend college after high school and knew she wanted to do something involving multimedia and communications.

“I picked communication as my major because it really seemed interesting to me. It involves a lot of things I enjoy doing and there are a lot of possibilities and fields open that I can get into after I graduate,” Mana said.

On top of being a communication major, Mana is involved in JV volleyball, is an RA for Gillespie Hall, and loves to play music and make memories with her friends.

“I play the guitar, piano, and sing. I’ve played the piano since 1st grade and the guitar since junior year of high school and really enjoy playing both. I’ve played volleyball for the last few years and have fallen in love with the sport and friendships made,” she said.

“Mana has a lot of energy and is really fun to be around. She is always smiling and having a good team which really contributes to the overall mood and morale of our team,” said junior volleyball teammate Cassandra Johnson.

One of the biggest aspects of being so far from home isn’t the culture shock or adjusting to the states, it is the distance away from family that becomes a burden for most people, and Mana is no different.

Mana said “When I first came to the US, I used to get homesick all the time. Now it’s just like anyone else living away from home. Every now and then it’ll hit me, but I try to stay really busy and keep my mind off of it.”

“There aren’t many breaks during the school year that are long enough for me to go home, so I either stay with a friend of with my American family. I go home every summer to see my family and it is always a great time,” Mana explained.

It is the little things that Mana misses, like talking to her parents or just being able to sit down and celebrate a holiday with them.

“I try and talk to my family almost every day. Sometimes it’s just a check-in and super quick, other times it can last for an hour. Any time I get to talk to them is always a great feeling. For Thanksgiving I will go to a friend’s house or celebrate with my American family,” explained Mana.
“Mana is great. She works hard and makes our Small Group Communication class fun to be in,” said Hannah Tyler, a junior and fellow peer.

Most students at UC are commuters or live within an hour or two, maybe three from home and can regularly see their family and loved ones. For Mana and the other students who reside all over the world, it isn’t that simple. They use the friends around them and various campus activities to stay busy and adjust to the new culture since they are so far from home.

Interview Story

The University of the Cumberlands houses students from over 40 different countries, making it a multicultural campus full of different walks of life and backgrounds from every corner of the world. With ove12072833_10204845124317541_5941154739061797433_n.jpgr 1,400 students on campus and many being from the surrounding area or Tennessee, the addition of students from other countries adds a special element of diversity to not only the campus, but the town of Williamsburg and surrounding areas. In this Q & A, I sat down with Mana Tanajantaporn, an international student from Thailand to discuss life in the United States, adjusting to being away from hom
e, and other general interests of hers.

Q1: What year are you in school and what is your major?

A: I’m currently a sophomore and majoring in communication arts.

Q2: What made you pick this major?

A: I picked this major because it really seemed interesting to me. It involves a lot of things I enjoy doing and there are a lot of possibilities and fields open that I can get into after I graduate.

Q3: How did you find out about UC, a tiny school in Williamsburg, KY, when you’re from Thailand?

A: Everyone asks me that when they find out I’m from Thailand, my American mom and dad both graduated from UC, so I’ve always had connections to this school for a while.

Q4: Before coming to UC, had you ever been to the United States?

A: I’ve been in the United States since my sophomore year of high school where I went to Oneida Baptist Institute, but before that I had never been in the US.

Q5: What is the biggest difference between Thailand and America that you’ve noticed thus far?

A: The two biggest have been language and culture. It took me a while to learn English and I still have some problems saying certain words. Culturally, that is natural coming from one country to another. There is different styles of dress, acceptable and unacceptable gestures, greetings, and things like that.

Q6: Where in Thailand did you live?

A: I lived in the capital, Bangkok. It was like living in New York because of how big it was and how many different kinds of people were all in one area. I enjoy living there.

Q7: What is your favorite American food?

A: I love a lot of different types of food, but I have fallen in love with Chicken Dumplings. Ever since I had them a few years ago they have become my favorite food in the states.

Q8: What has the language barrier been like in the United States?

A: In Thailand we speak Thai, so coming to America it took me a few years living with my host family to really learn it and understand it. I’ve gotten better but there are still some words I struggle with.

Q9: How often do you get to go home?

A: There aren’t many breaks during the school year that are long enough for me to go home, so I either stay with a friend of with my American family. I go home every summer to see my family and it is always a great time.

Q10: Are you a part of any clubs or sports? Why did you pick them?

A: Yes, I am part of the volleyball team. I’ve played it for a few years now and love the sport and the friendships I have made from it. I am also an RA this year and it has been a lot offun as well.

Q11: What is your favorite hobby?

A: I love music so I play the guitar, piano, and sing. I’ve played the piano since 1st grade and the guitar since junior year of high school and really enjoy playing both. I also love taking pictures.

Q12: How often do you talk to your family?

A: I try and talk to them almost everyday. Sometimes it’s just a check-in and super quick, other times it can last for an hour. Any time I get to talk to them is always a great feeling.

Q13: Do you get homesick? What helps to get over that?

A: When I first came to the US, I used to get homesick all the time. Now it’s just like anyone else living away from home. Every now and then it’ll hit me, but I try to stay really busy and keep my mind off of it.

Q14: What is your favorite kind of music to listen to?

A: I really love listening to R&B and Hip Hop. I don’t really have a favorite artist in particular but I love listening to today’s top hits.

Q15: Is there anything in the US that you’ve seen that reminds you of home at all?

A: Not really actually. Thailand and the US are two pretty different places so nothing has really stuck out to me that reminds me of home.

Q16: Does Thailand celebrate anything like Thanksgiving? If not how was the experience of your first Thanksgiving?

A: We celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, but not Thanksgiving. I thought it was really cool when I had my first Thanksgiving. One thing about Christmas that I’ve noticed is that Americans seem to understand the real meaning of Christmas while Thai people don’t.

Q17: What was your most fun experience at UC so far and why?

A: Every time I go out on a road trip with my friends I have a blast because we all joke and have a great time. Anytime I’m with friends is a great experience to me.

Q18: What are your plans after college?

A: I’m still deciding on what I want to do, I’m really not sure what field I want to get into exactly regarding communications. Luckily I still have a few years to figure it all out.

Q19: What kind of career path do you expect to have in 5 or 10 years?

A: I’m not 100% sure but I want to be doing something in the media field.

Q20: What is your favorite subject and why?

A: I can’t say that I have a favorite subject. As bad as it sounds I really dread going to class sometimes.

California Residents Battling Worst Drought in Last 1,200 Years

With the state of California facing its driest stretch since the early 1900’s, almost all of the 40 million inhabitants are feeling the backlash of the government imposed water restrictions.

According to CBS News, California is entering its fourth consecutive year of a record breaking drought. Vegetation has declined, rivers and lakes are disappearing, and water levels lower. This year alone, it will cost the state almost $2.7 billion and reduce seasonal jobs by close to 10,000. The over 540,000 acres of fallowed agriculture land has led to almost $1 billion in lost crop revenue. Though the state’s economy is expected to survive long term, the short term impacts on the population had caused many to worry.

“It has definitely been a struggle at times,” says long time California resident Jeff Wann. He and his family, like hundreds of thousands of people, are facing the struggles of the state imposed water restrictions.

“It’s become an everyday thing that is always on your mind. Take five minute showers, don’t leave the water running, no watering the lawn. Things like that which we never had to worry about.”

According to CNN, California’s governor Jerry Brown imposed water restrictions in April that cut water usage on universities, cemeteries, and golf courses. It also bans the watering public medians. Brown allocated a $1 billion spending plan to help fight the historic drought where it is estimated would take close to 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from.

Many are facing the harsh reality of water cut backs and thousands have no water at all. In Tulare County, commonly referred to as “Ground Zero of the Drought,” over

California-Drought-2015
Many lakes, such as the one pictured above, have dried up and become nothing more than pits of sand.

to 5,000 residents don’t have any running water. 20% of the residents have signed up for free daily water bottle delivery and the process of installing water drums is ongoing, but very slo
w and laborious. Tulare County is one of a handful of communities with contaminated water or no water at all.

“It’s scary to know that is has gotten this bad. I want this to end and return to living normally,” said Amy Weese.

Unfortunately, the drought has caused a multitude of problems that can and have led to different problems. The drought has caused an abundance of dry and arid land that can easily catch fire, and unfortunately has. This year alone over 700,000 acres have been destroyed by fires and they are still ongoing as I type this paper.

With the worst drought in over 100 years continuing to haunt the state of California, the residents of the state are fighting every day to live and adjust to life with limited water. Something so simple has caused such a huge problem and as of right now, there seems to be no solution anytime soon.

I Didn’t Sign Up For This

When we enter this world, whether we like it or not, we are forced into a contract. A contract that does not guarantee us tomorrow or even the next 60 seconds. A contract that holds us over a bottomless pit and can decide to let go whenever it so chooses. I’ve been lucky in my 19 years as I’m still here today, but looking back, a few instances have left me scratching my head.

I was two years old living in a trailer home with my parents in North Carolina. A F4 tornadof5_2007canada hit and tore a tree from the ground and sent it flying onto our home, completely destroying it. Both my parents and I were unscathed. Similarly, around 10 years later, a hurricane hit our home in Florida. The following day, a blown fuse started a fire that destroyed our house. Not one of my family members was home and no one was hurt. The question as to why our contracts held on to us through those times sends chills down my spine.

Five years ago, heading home from a football game. My father, brother, friend, and myself were stopped at a red light when a car rear ended us going almost 50 mph. Besides my brother sustaining a concussion, not one of us four were injured. The state trooper told us if he hadn’t hit us dead center, odds are one of us four would have been fatally injured.

Was it fate? Divine intervention? Just simply not our time? These questions rattle around my head whenever I think of these situations. I cannot control the day in which I leave this world, but I can control what I do with my time here and how I will be remembered. Living in fear of death will stunt our growth as individuals. All you can do is live day by day and patiently wait for the inevitable moment in which our contract releases its grip

5 Part Series: Diabetes

In your lifetime, you’ve most likely encountered diabetes in some way. Maybe a close family member, relative, friend, or teammate has the disease. You’ve probably seen it in commercials or TV shows and you most likely learned about diabetes and the pancreas in high school biology. Diabetes is a metabolic disease that arises from the inadequate production of insulin or from the body’s rejection of insulin from the pancreas. It is a disease that is growing in America and many say has become an epidemic as the rates of children and young adults with diabetes is increasing every year. In this 5 Part Series, we will take a look at what this disease exactly is, living with the disease, different treatment options, and the future of the disease.

To begin, diabetes (scientifically known as diabetes mellitus) doesn’t just happen to obese people or lazy people or the kids who ate too much Halloween candy growing up. Diabetes is a disease that can strike anyone regardless of walk of life. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is the more severe of the two and is also called “juvenile” diabetes as it usually is found in children and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas because the body sees the insulin-producing cells as foreign. When the immune system kills insulin, it prevents the body from turning the glucose you eat into energy which in turn leads to the body’s cells starving from lack of glucose. Type 2 diabetes, also called “adult onset” diabetes as it is more common in adults, is the more common type. With type 2, the body produces insulin, just not enough or not consistently. This leads to insulin resistance in the body.

“With both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, it is very important to remain on a balanced diet and exercise routine. This will not only help regulate blood sugars in the short run, but help reduce the risk of complications in the future,” said Cumberland River Clinic physician Sarah McQueen.

Diabetes is continuing to be a problem in America as the rate of children, young adults, and adults with the disease continues to climb. The Center for Disease Control reported that 29 million people in the US have diabetes, roughly 9% of the population. This large number has led to over $240 billion spent on medication, research, and other costs to help treat and find a cure for the disease. It is a complicated disease that requires balance and patience, as we will see next when we discover what it is like to live with diabetes.

Diabetes in itself is a complicated disease, living with it is a daily struggle and battle between you and your body. That is the case for the 21 million people in the US who have diagnosed type 1 or type 2 diabetes. UC student Daniel Enge knows firsthand what it is like to live with the disease.

“I’ve lived with it for so long now I have developed a routine on how to do things and manage it,” said Enge.

On a normal day, Daniel will wake up and test his blood sugar in the morning before eating. After he eats he will correct for how much carbohydrates he eats using his insulin pump. The does this throughout the day before eating lunch and dinner too. There are a few things that a diabetic has to keep an eye out for; low and high blood sugars. This requires either extra insulin to be used if it is high or to eat some sugar or drink juice to raise it if it is low.

“I can tell by now if my blood sugar is low or high without even checking. If it is high I get easily agitated and my eyesight gets blurry. In that case I need to give myself some more insulin. If I am low I feel weak and shaky. In that case I eat something such as gummy bears or a small thing of juice,” he said.

Living with diabetes can be tough and frustrating. Some days your body will react better or worse with the insulin. Factors such as stress or anxiety can raise it or cause it to fluctuate. It is something diabetics like Daniel Enge have come to terms with and embraced as they fight this disease every day.

Living with diabetes can be frustrating to manage, but the technology we have today has made living with diabetes much more convenient compared to decades ago when scientists were still learning about the disease. The earliest recorded instance of diabetes was 1552 B.C. when an Egyptian physician noticed that he frequently urinated, had lost weight, and that ants were attracted to his urine (because of the sugar present in it). For centuries, diabetes was diagnosed by people tasting the urine of individuals to see if it was sweet or not. Finally in the 1800s scientists developed more effective ways to detect sugar in urine. A Canadian physician in 1920 was the first to successfully treat a diabetic patient with insulin and since then the technology has only gotten better.

“Diabetes was a very misunderstood drug when I was growing up. I remember a classmate of mine having it and the concept of insulin and proper use of it was not fully understood. She would avoid food all together and always suffered from seizures. It was awful,” said Jennifer McJunkin, who grew up with a diabetic father and classmates.

In the last 20 years alone, science has made multiple breakthroughs regarding the disease which have helped improve the overall quality of life in diabetics as well as led to a decrease in amputations and other complications. The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and the Lower Extremity Amputation Prevention (LEAP) both helped prove that a consistent control of blood glucose levels slowed the process of organ damage often associated with diabetics.

“For how long my father lived with diabetes, he alone saw a complete change in treatment options and ways to manage his blood levels in a short time. From not knowing how to control it properly to knowing exactly what to and how much insulin to give yourself. It was truly amazing,” she said.

dbd5e130968c3f6b83797653fa58d60a
On the left, what the first diabetic insulin pump looked like and on the right, the size of insulin pumps today. Amazing!

 

Diabetes has come a long way in such a short amount of time but there is still a lot of research and innovative ideas that scientists are working on today. There is an abundance of money, time, and, effort being put into new ways to manage, diagnose, and one day cure diabetes. The spearhead of this operation is Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) who currently have research projects in 17 different countries totaling over $530 million and spent $112 million alone on strictly type 1 diabetes research in 2012. They are a global organization that looks to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we live in a world without T1D.

Some of the current focuses on this disease is understanding why the body attacks the insulin cells. There is a multitude of research being done to find ways to block this from occurring as well as finding ways to regenerate the cells attacked by the body through stem cell research. Other research efforts are being focused on the prevention of long term complications from the disease such as kidney and vision problems. These new drugs help to block enzymes that contains glucose that travels to the kidneys, eyes, and heart and damages blood vessels.

The next major breakthrough being pursued comes in the form of artificial pancreases. This advanced technology is a lot like pumps that are widely used and available today, but these are more efficient and effective in the short and long term. Research by the New England Journal of Medicine showed promising results in their trials.

Finally, breakthroughs are being made in the awareness of the disease as well as in discovering areas that are in need of insulin. In underdeveloped countries and poor cities, it can and often times is a death sentence to be a diabetic in those areas simply because insulin isn’t provided. With the help of awareness and technology different organizations can work to help make sure all diabetics can have a fighting change with this disease.

Diabetes is not going away anytime soon. There is still a lot that needs to be researched and understood before a potential cure can even be thought of. The good news is that we are on the way. With the research underway and the amount of funding going towards the disease, it is only a matter of time before a major breakthrough occurs. Unfortunately, our society outside of those concerned with diabetes isn’t helping. Many say America is currently in an obesity epidemic with over 35% (79 million) Americans considered obese today and that number is growing. The troubling statistic is seen in the rate at which young children are getting increasingly bigger and this is a result of our culture.

“I have seen the effects of obesity on people. Kentucky isn’t exactly the most in-shape state in the country. Obesity increases the risk of so many other diseases down the road, especially heart disease and diabetes. It’s hard to see it changing anytime soon,” said Cumberland Clinic Physician Natalie King.

Our government and food industry had made it hard to not become obese. Laws and regulations are put in place to benefit the food industries. Their main concern is money, not the health of people. New discoveries have shown that sugar can be biologically addictive. Everything around us promotes the consumption of unhealthy food. From school lunches to bending machines. From super-sized meals at McDonalds to extra-large slushees at convenient stores. All of this creates a standard that hooks kids when they are young. On top of this, it is cheaper for a mother to buy 5 items from the dollar menu then to buy salads or fruit from the same place. This type of backward thinking has led to this obesity and diabetic epidemic that won’t change unless we do.

 

I Didn’t Sign Up For This

When we enter this world, whether we like it or not, we are forced into a contract. A contract that does not guarantee us tomorrow or even the next 60 seconds. A contract that holds us over a bottomless pit and can decide to let go whenever it so chooses. I’ve been lucky in my 19 years as I’m still here today, but looking back, a few instances have left me scratching my head.

I was two years old living in a trailer home with my parents in North Carolina. A F4 tornadof5_2007canada hit and tore a tree from the ground and sent it flying onto our home, completely destroying it. Both my parents and I were unscathed. Similarly, around 7 years later, a hurricane hit our home in Florida. The following day, a blown fuse started a fire that destroyed our house. Not one of my family members was home and no one was hurt. The question as to why our contracts held on to us through those times sends chills down my spine.

Five years ago, heading home from a football game. My father, brother, friend, and myself were stopped at a red light when a car rear ended us going almost 50 mph. Besides my brother sustaining a concussion, not one of us four were injured. The state trooper told us if he hadn’t hit us dead center, odds are one of us four would have been fatally injured.

Was it fate? Divine intervention? Just simply not our time? These questions rattle around my head whenever I think of these situations. I cannot control the day in which I leave this world, but I can control what I do with my time here and how I will be remembered. Living in fear of death will stunt our growth as individuals. All you can do is live day by day and patiently wait for the inevitable moment in which our contract releases its grip.