Friday, December 21, 2012

Fighting for my Womb: Black Women's Reproductive Health and the Medical World

As a black woman in academia, motherhood is already a complicated venture. First, most of us have fibroids (I had one that thankfully calcified on its own). Secondly, when you're in education, it's proper to plan a summer delivery (which means you only have a three-month widow to conceive). Thirdly, when you're a professor, you have to decide how to fit a child in while you're on the tenure track.

So, things were and are already complicated.

Therefore, when the diagnosis of diabetes (in other words HIGH RISK PREGNANCY) got added to the list of complications, it was natural for me to decide to not have children. The problem with this decision is... black folks in the South (my family) and Caribbean black folks (my husband's family) don't take kindly to that kind of decision. Not having children is not an option. Parenthood is like an obligation to your family and God. Because I knew that no one would understand just how I felt, I held my feelings about not desiring to become a mother inside for many months. After about six months, I shared my thoughts with my husband. I didn't have much of a choice in the matter because his cousin asked me if I wanted children in front of him, his parents, his grandmother, and one of his Aunts. There was no way, I felt, that I could look all those people in their eyes and say "No." So, I managed to squeeze the most faint "yes" out of my mouth.

That night, I confessed to my husband that I had lied. That I in fact didn't want children. That managing diabetes was hard enough and that I couldn't even imagine having to check my glucose every 4 hours and breastfeed every two. That I couldn't see how I would be able to change a baby's diapers all day long and change my lancets, needles, and test strips too. I wasn't sure if I could care for a baby and my hypos.  What if, like in Steel Magnolias, I passed out leaving my baby helpless?

The idea just seemed too much. He listened and said, "we don't have to decide that now. Give it some time and we'll come back to this conversation, there is no rush." I was relieved.

To my delight, I am still in this "give it some time" space and it's working for us. I've been given time to think about motherhood more closely and I've met some pretty amazing diabetic mothers. They inspire me. It is because of them that I was able to handle a horrific encounter I had with a gynecologist recently.

It was the first time he and I met and the conversation went like this (post my pap)...
He said, "I see from your chart you're a diabetic. Do you want to be on birth control?"
"No, " I replied.
"Are you sure," he asked.
"Yes, I am sure."
He looked in silence. I looked back in silence.
"Well, you know that as a diabetic your child could be at risk for a number of birth defects."
I just looked at him in silence.
He wouldn't give up, "Are you sure you don't want the birth control?"
"No, I don't want birth control."
He continued, "Your child could have heart defects, they could be premature or overweight...." He continued to list all the things that could go wrong and I began to tune him out, "You should really consider birth control."
This time I looked at him and rolled my eyes.
"It's up to you, but are you sure?" he asked again.
I looked at him in silence. Finally, his female assistant broke the awkward stare-down  between the two of us by saying that I could get dressed.

I didn't even feel like explaining to him that while I am a diabetic, I'm med-free and my last two A1C results were 5.4 and 5.5, and that my endo assured me that these were good numbers to have when considered pregnancy. I didn't care to explain because he didn't ask.  He didn't ask what my numbers are? He didn't ask to see my glucometer. He didn't ask if I was taking meds? He didn't ask how long I'd been diabetic. He didn't ask anything except if I wanted birth control.

And because that was all that he asked, I sat there thinking about all the ways the American medical system has tortured, manipulated, removed, and benefited from black women's reproductive health. I thought about the history of birth control in America and how it started with a white feminist name Margaret Sanger who promoted the pill as a key to white women's liberation, but when she ran out of money, some eugenics helped fund her project with one major exception--they did not promote the pill in white middle-class communities (like Sanger wanted), but rather they they administered it to black neighborhoods to prohibit black women from having babies. Birth control was dropped off at black churches and pastors were asked to inform their congregations about it. When the depo shot was invented, it was tested on black women and the side effect was sterilization in early trials. The hysterectomy (a very population operation for all women) was perfected on (and therefore unsuccessful on many) black women. In the very state that I live in, just last year the State Senate considered offering many black women a financial retribution for the massive 50-year long sterilization program that took place. In fact, the state "averaged about 300 sterilizations per year between 1950 and 1963" many victims were black women and there are still "roughly 2,944 living victims of state-sponsored sterilization initiative." Unfortunately, this past June, Republicans denied any amount of compensation to the women for their pain. Perhaps had I not known these bits of historical facts and had he asked me just one more question to offset the birth control question, I would have not felt so degraded and de-humanized. Something inside of me just wanted to squeeze my womb and protect it.

I demanded all my records from that office and vowed to never return again. I have a new gynecologist (a Caribbean man) who requires that all his patients sit on a sofa and talk about what's going on before they enter the examination room and de-robe.  I like that MUCH better!

African American women have a very difficult history with the medical world and our reproductive health. Now that I am managing diabetes, I am learning first hand that the battle is not over. Having a chronic illness only adds layers to the problem.

I am still not 100% convinced that motherhood is for me, but I will continue to resist all notions that diabetes alone means that I cannot or should not be a mother. I will protect my womb, keep my glucose levels normalized, start back reading books about pregnancy (adding ones about pregnancy and diabetes), and wait to reach a decision.  I've been a late bloomer all my life, so perhaps a desire to be a mother is no different.

For more information about the exploitation of African American women and the medical industry. Check out this book.

For information about the massive sterilization project, you can visit this website.
Link 1
Link 2

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Cousin is Cured of Diabetes!

I'm home for the holidays. It feels so good to wear short sleeves in December. South Florida certainly is one of the most beautiful places in America.

I saw one of my cousins last night.  I haven't seen him since last Christmas when I told him that I was no longer on medication and that he could have my insulin pens. He said that he would take them to his doctor and see if he could use those instead of the syringes. He had never seen insulin pens before and seemed excited about the possibility because as a Type 1 diabetic (diagnosed decades ago), he's been doing this for a while.

So, last night when I saw him briefly, I had to ask.  "How do you like the pens, cuz?"

He replied, "I'm not a diabetic anymore, cuz, they didn't tell you?"

Anyone whose been a diabetic longer than six months has heard something like this and your heart goes out to the person who is probably on the path of self-destruction by not taking care of themselves. So, I asked with a frowned brow, "No, no one told me. What do you mean, you're not a diabetic anymore?"

This is when the excitement began. His face lit up (realizing that he would be the first to tell me the news) as he blurted, "I got a transplant. Cuz, I got a whole new kidney and I'm not a diabetic anymore. I been on the list a long time, when I got that call, I was soooo happy and blessed, cuz. I go to church every Sunday now too, ask Grandma."

"Whhaat?!  That's a real blessing, man." I smiled back.

He proceeded to walk away, continuing with the agenda he had before I interrupted. But, I still wasn't quite comfortable. Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas that then effects every other part of your body. So, if he didn't get a new pancreas, then he's still a diabetic. So, I yelled (since he was further away by the time my thoughts were clear), "Did you get a pancreas too?"

He stopped. Walked toward me with an even bigger grin on his face. "Cuz, I got a pancreas too. I'm so happy. And, I even got Lasik eye surgery cause the diabetes was causing me to go blind in one of my eyes.  God is good, cuz, I'm telling you.  I'm no longer a diabetic.  I thank God EVERY day."

"Wow." I stood there happily speechless.

Then my uncle, who ALWAYS makes a joke out of everything says, "You was praying to God somebody died huh?"  We all started laughing.

But what he was really thanking God for wasn't that someone died, because death is promised to us all.  Rather, he was thankful that someone understand how AMAZING it is to GIVE life to someone else as you pass on. Whomever gave my cousin a pancreas and a liver not only saved him from the finger pricks, the injections, the dialysis, the blindness, the medical expenses, but now that he's back in church, the person may have very well helped to save his soul.

Thank you organ donors for understanding what a wonderful blessing you can be to someone else.

For now, transplants are the only cure for diabetes and I feel pretty special to be able to say, My cousin is cured!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

2012: Traveling with Diabetes

This month's DSMA Blog Carnival asks us to "take a moment to reflect on diabetes in 2012."

Here I reflection of 2012 is primarily about my adventures traveling.

I love traveling. But when I was diagnosed with diabetes last year, I thought that I would not enjoy it anymore.  Traveling as a diabetic is a challenge. But this year, I couldn't avoid the challenge of traveling because I flew on five international flights within five weeks.

Oddly enough, by traveling as a diabetic, I now have two things to get excited about when I arrive at my destination: First, getting there safely, and Secondly, having normal glucose levels.

I started the year off by traveling to Boston, MA to see Robbie McCauley's play about Diabetes entitled SUGAR.  I had a BLAST!!

I was invited to share my story with hundreds of other people at various locations. This was one of the best experiences because I was able to tell other people just how blessed I am. It's not everyday you meet someone who finished a dissertation, avoided a diabetic coma by a few hours, and lost their home in a tornado all within a matter of months and that person is able to stand to tell the story.  I shared my story with the DSMA Blog Talk Radio show community, at a health fair, and for the local United Way. Thanks for all those who listened and also encouraged me.
I launched my own website Black Diabetic Info. Which is dedicated to providing information about diabetes in black communities that is uplifting rather than daunting. It's no secret that Diabetes has a devastating impact in Black communities, but it can be emotionally difficult when ALL the information on the internet is negative. My website is the place where anyone can get information that is cultural sensitive and appropriate. My motto is I'm Diagnosed but Not Defeated!

I attended my first ADA Diabetes Expo.  It was held in Atlanta, GA. I had a great time and I'm so thankful that my friend Ava was able to join me.  The freebies are awesome, too. :-)


I traveled to CHINA.  This was another BIG adventure filled with questions about how I might manage diabetes on the other side of the world. This was also the first time I traveled on a 12-hour flight. I made sure that I packed enough snacks to avoid lows.  For some reason, I experience lows on international flights.

Overall, I managed my glucose fairly well.  I ate a lot of noodles but balanced it with climbing The Great Wall, dancing on Wangfujing Street, and Thai Chi in a square.

In China, I ate a type of protein that I would NEVER eat in America, but since they told me it was chicken, I tasted it. I thought it might have been a Cornish Hen, but was in fact, pigeon.  Here are pictures of pigeons on a stick.

 Aundrey 2 traveled with me to the Great Wall (and every where else, of course).

 I joined a group of middle-aged Chinese women in a park for Thai Chi in the morning.  That was pretty cool and it help to lower my glucose.

 I asked for the best tea for diabetics, was told that it is Bitter Black Leaf Tea, and I purchased some to bring back with me to America.

I rode in the back of a police car for the first time in my life. Some hoodlums in Beijing tried to rob me, but when "Chinese hutong alley ghetto ways" met "Refined South Florida ghetto street smarts," there was NO contest.  I was able to get out of the alley with my passport, ALL my money (they demanded 300 yuans), and a private escort out of that area.

I would like to give a special thanks to the two officers who didn't speak ANY English for their patience and the creators of the iPhone app that I used to translate. Without you, my trip to China would have been VERY different.

I traveled to the UAE...Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

For my Birthday, I went Sandboarding AND Indoor Skydiving. Not sure the effects of these activities on my glucose, but they sure were FUN!!  It was on my birthday that I realized that I won't let diabetes win. I will continue living life to the fullest.

While in Dubai, I noticed that there were a lot of unique food items for diabetics.  I tried a few and they were tasty. Diabetic Atta is very popular, but unfortunately, I have no idea what that it is or how to cook it.

 I participated in Diabetes Art Day by painting with oil for the first time.  It's the Diabetes Circle of Awareness (in case you didn't know).

I traveled to Guadeloupe and visited a rainforest. While in Guadeloupe, I asked the same question, "What's good for diabetics?" My next blog will be about what I found, so come back and check it out.


Another big challenge this year, has been figuring out a routine and sticking to it.  I'm not a routine person by nature, but this illness requires one.  I have a feeling that I'll struggle with finding a routine for a while (perhaps for life).

My endocrinologist moved to Africa, so I currently am without one.  I'm managing diabetes to the best of my ability.  My last A1C was 5.4, so I'm doing fairly well at the moment. Hoot, hoot!! :-D

I took a "before" picture of my right arm at the beginning of the year thinking that I would have an "after" one by now.  Unfortunately, I report that the before picture might actually look better than a current one, so I'll postpone taking an "after" photo until sometime in 2013.

This was the look on my face when I realized that all the traveling I did this summer erased all the progress I made in Pilates class. I was on my way to being a champ but when I returned, I was at beginner status.

I also traveled to one of America's greatest cities...NEW YORK!!  The biggest worry on my mind was how do I fit Junior's Cheesecake into my carb count.  I figured it out! Nothing can stop a diabetic from figuring out how to fit their favorite carbs into their meal plan.  :-D

Finally, I didn't always wear blue on Fridays, but I gave awareness about diabetes every chance I could.  2012 marks my first full-calendar year as a diabetic and I think I managed it well. I have many more years ahead of me. I hope that with each coming year, I will be able to manage it better than the year before. Here's one of my Wear Blue Friday pictures.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I'd appreciate it if you clicked the "Follow" button on the top right. This post is my December entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An Apple Is Making ALL the Difference

As you know, I was struggling at the gym two weeks ago trying to figure out a way to prevent the hypos that I kept having.  They were extremely frustrating and were cutting into my workout. A drop in glucose levels can switch your mood and can possibly affect your entire day, so hypos were causing havoc on my Gym Time. I knew something would have to change. Well after a week of trying something different, I am here to report that it is working. And, thank God. 

Want to know what it is?

It's an apple. Fuji apples are my favorite.

I discovered that if I eat an apple before working out that my glucose levels remain around 100.  I've been doing this for a week and I haven't seen anything within the 70s and I'm SUPER EXCITED.  I have even been able to move my cardio from 30 minutes up to 45 minutes.

My old way: 
  1. Check glucose before working out.
  2. If I was less than 100 then I ate something (usually a nutrition bar or some crackers with cheese or tuna)
  3. Workout for 30 minutes and stop to check glucose.
  4. This is when I would usually find a number in the 70s and would treat the low or just end the cardio.

My new way:
  1. Check glucose before working out.
  2. If I am less than 100 then I eat the entire apple, if I am 100-150 then I eat half the apple. (I haven't been above 150 in about a year, so that is why I stopped at 150. Just in case someone else would like to try this.)
  3. Workout for 30 minutes and stop to check glucose.
  4. This is when I've been discovering that I am usually still around 100, so I get back into the cardio routine for another 15 minutes.

Here's my stock pile for this week!  Seven FUJI APPLES to the rescue.

For a reward, I signed up for Nike+ to chart my progress. Once I figure out how to use it, I'll let you know.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

iBGStar vs. FreeStyle Freedom Lite

I LOVE technology.  I am a self-professed "Gadget-Person," and when the iBGSTAR was released to the American market, I bought it the same week.

I was one of the first Americans to do a review of it. My review can be found here

My biggest problem with it was the fact that I had to remove my case.  But guess what?  Last week, I received an iphone case (FOR FREE) just for the iBGSTAR. They fixed the problem that I had with it...WEE!!  The case is wonderful because the app automatically starts which is an awesome reminder to check your glucose often.

Although the iBGSTAR has great bells and whistles, I haven't given up on my first glucometer (also known as "Audrey 2" because it needs blood and I've got more than enough). You would have to be a fan of the Little Shop of Horors to get the joke, but if you haven't watched it, you're missing out on a pretty funny joke.

I digress.

The reason that I have not ditched Audrey 2 for the iBGSTAR is because I ALWAYS...and let me say this again, I ALWAYS, A-L-W-A-Y-S, ALWAYS, get reading that are at least 10 points higher on the iBGSTAR than on the FreeStyle Freedom Lite.

I was once told that different glucometers measure different parts of the blood and therefore, they are allowed to have a margin of error (<20) less than 20 points. This means that both products are working perfectly fine. I am VERY curious, however, to know which one has the most accurate information.

I usually pick the lowest number, but is that the best thing to do? Do you have the same/similiar problem? Do you know EXACTLY what is tested in these glucometers? How can I find out (with a plain and simple explanation)?

Here's my glucose from this morning.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Diabetes is Killing My Love for the Gym

Since being diagnosed, I have been trying to get back to my 5 days a week (for 1hr) gym routine. I spent the first 7 months after my diagnosis being too scared to enter the gym. My first visit back to the gym proved that I had every right to be nervous because I had a hypo after 30 minutes of aqua-Zumba.

Since I am celebrating my 1st year of being a med-free diabetic this month, I thought that I would kick up my exercise routine. I'm currently working out for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Plus, last holiday season I gained seven pounds that are still hanging out and I can't add another seven.

I was excited and pumped to crank up my 30 minutes to an hour. After 30 minutes on the elliptical, I checked my glucose and I was 78. Bummer! I certainly can't keep this up. So, I stopped, grabbed my things, rested for 15 minutes, and drove home.  I felt defeated. Just like I did last month when I tried to tackle jogging to burn off extra calories and my left knee (which I dislocated some years back) informed me via the intense pain it caused, that training for a 5k run wasn't an option. My feelings of defeat almost got the best of me while driving home from the gym that day, but I countered my thoughts with positive ones and triumphed over the brewing breakdown.

Then earlier this week, I spoke with one of the fitness experts at my gym. I told him that I wanted to prepare for a 5k, but that my left knee does not do well with the impact from the treadmill. He introduced me to the new AMT (Adaptive Motion Trainer) machine at the gym.
He said, with this machine I could run, climb, and rotate like on an elliptical. I was excited to try it. He did warn me, "Now, this here machine will give you a gooood workout."  I was up for the challenge.

I lasted 27, wonderful, sweaty minutes until I started feeling like I was gonna faint. I pushed through for another 3 minutes to make it an even 30 minutes and 300 calories, but once I stepped off the machine, my glucose was 73. Bummer! Here we go again, I thought.

I refused to just go home this time, however. I went down stairs, bought some orange juice to get my glucose back up, laid on a mat, but still felt defeated. The feeling of defeat merged with the knowledge that the orange juice was 220 calories (just about all the calories that I burned) and I was powerless against the flow of tears. I wept. There on a mat in the gym wondering if I will ever get back to doing an hour of intense cardio again? Feeling like an hour at the gym for a non-diabetic is like 1.5-2 hours for me with all the breaks in the middle. I hate having to eat or drink something before working out because I feel like I'm only burning off what I just ate and not the stored fat. But if I don't eat and have a hypo, I'm just putting the calories back that I burned off. What in the world can I do?

I hate what diabetes is doing to my love for the gym. Eventually, I got up from the floor, wiped my eyes, took a picture to mark what I hope to be the last day of feeling defeated at the gym, and went to lift weights. I thought that it would make me feel better, but I was thrown off my A game too badly to even do that well.

Someone help me figure out how to manage diabetes at the gym.

Are there any LOW CALORIE things I can drink/eat to raise my glucose while at the gym?
Are those glucose tablets as effective as juice?
How should I treat a low? Wait it out or be proactive?
After 30 minutes, I was 140 and I'm not sure if that was the solely the orange juice, so maybe waiting on my liver to wake up and produce sugar is a good idea.
Any advice will be helpful at this point.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Diabetes is a Disability?!?

Okay, this might sound strange, but I never and I mean NEVER thought about myself as having a disability until three days ago. So this morning, I am writing to move beyond the space that I am in. Here's what happened...

I'm currently working on an article about diabetes and I decided to look for journals where I can publish the paper.  I ended up reviewing journals on Disability Studies which,  I thought with the completely academic part of my brain, would be a good place. But then, almost out of no where it hit me...if I am going to publish this article on diabetes in a disability studies journal and I have diabetes, then that means that I have a disability.  OH NO!! 

The other side of brain, the emotional side, kicked in and I was frozen.  The only thing I could do was tweet the following:
Processing the diagnosis of diabetes a year and a half ago was a significant pill to swallow. I must have cried at least five times a day for a month, and only after two months was I down to once a day. There are so many layers to accepting this illness that it can be downright exhausting. Now I feel like I'm processing having a disability. Although I was told that I would need special accommodations because my life would be altered forever unless a cure is found during my lifetime, I never made the link having a "disability."

I received two responses to my desperate tweet:

Both responses directed me to the Americans Diabetes Association and Sara's link was to the page where ADA celebrated its triumph of getting diabetics covered under the American with Disabilities Act.

I realized after reading this that I had called upon this act on my own job. At the time of my diagnosis, I was teaching a 3-hour long evening course from 6pm-9pm. Prior to being admitted into the hospital, I would often save our 10-minute restroom break for the end of class.

Initially, I tried to keep the break at the same time but the gap between meals was too long for my insulin schedule. This made teaching the evening class EXTREMELY difficult because I could not eat while teaching (even though the students often ate snacks during my lectures). So, I had this bright idea that I would order pizza for the entire class. I guess I was feeling guilty about having to stop the class and eat, and I figured if we were all eating it would make the moment easier to endure. Plus, I was raised in a culture where you shared food or at least offered to share before you ate in a person's face.

The idea didn't go over well. Most students had eaten just before class, didn't want the pizza, or were satisfied with the snack they brought and were comfortable eating it at whatever point during the class they felt the urge to eat. So, one student said with an attitude..."Why are we stopping class for a pizza break? If we are finished, I would rather go home."

It was probably my thoughts that this guy is very inconsiderate about the money I spent on this pizza, the ignorance of asking if a 3-hour class was over after only an hour, the disappointment that my idea didn't work, and the frustration of having to make a change in the class that caused me to fire back...

"Look. The reason I wasn't in class last week is because I spent six days in the hospital and I'm now a diabetic. I can no longer wait until the end of this class to eat because I have to give myself an injection of insulin between 7 and 7:30 and I have to eat at that time. I thought that if I bought pizza for the class that it would mean that we all would eat at the same time. But no one wants the pizza. Our break at the end of class has been moved to the middle from this point forward. If you want to leave after an hour of a 3-hour class, I am not holding you hostage, it's your grade not mine. As soon as I finish eating, I will continue teaching. It's up to you if you want to stay."

There was complete silence in the room after that. I heard no more complaints about the adjustments, I no longer bothered to share my dinner, and I finished the semester fairly well. Although my personal policy on eating during class was rather relaxed, I know plenty of professors who strictly enforce the "no eating during class" policies and sometimes I wonder how they would treat a diabetic student enrolled in an evening class.

After this experience, I informed my superior that I was diabetic and did not want to be assigned to any more night classes because it was too difficult to manage. He obliged without hesitation, thankfully.  I learned from the link on Sara's tweet that I was actually calling upon my rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

So, I guess I can't use the rights of Americans with Disabilities if I don't have one, right?  So, I looked up the definition. According to

#2 is coded with bias words such as "full, and normal life." Explanations like this is why it's been rather challenging to view myself as having a disability.

No matter what anyone says, disability or not,  I WILL have a full life even if I can't have a "normal" life.  Extraordinary people have extra-ordinary lives anyway.

I'll think more about this word "disability" over the next days, weeks, months, and years because I think the word can be problematic and liberating. I'll seek other definitions for the word and even create my own. I can't say today that I will embrace the word "disability" to describe myself but I will say that I am less rattled by its usage as a means to describe who I am after reading more about my legal rights to have the accommodations that I need.

Perhaps far too many folk don't see diabetes as a disability either and maybe that's not a good thing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bitter Black Leaf Tea--Chinese Herbal Medicine

Here is the latest update on my "2012 Year of Teas" quest to find out what's good for diabetes in other parts of the world.  When I went to China this summer, I had to ask "What's a good tea for diabetes?" I asked this question at a few different locations, but overwhelmingly the response was "Bitter Black Leaf Tea." Even when someone didn't mention it, I'd bring up the name and they would say, "Oh yeah that one is better."

I'm finding a trend with teas that are good for diabetes...Bitter is better! When it comes to diabetes herbal teas this one is by far the most bitter one that I've drank yet. I wonder if that means it gets down to the cellular level of the pancreas faster or more efficiently?

The first tea I blogged about was the Bitter Melon tea.  I had it in its dry form--making it just right for tea, but when it is fresh you can cook it, stir-fried it, or boiled it. I wouldn't advise eating it raw, I tasted it raw and OMG!! it was almost as bitter as aloe). I gave the tea a score of 4 out of 5 for the bitter taste.

However, now after taking the Bitter Black Leaf tea, I am going to have to change it (Bitter Melon 3/5 for bitterness and Bitter Black Leaf tea 5/5). I cannot think of ANYTHING more bitter than this tea. After drinking the Bitter Black Leaf tea, I realized that I didn't know what the taste of bitterness was until now.

In my last post, there was a picture of me drinking the other tea. This tea, however, caused my face to contour into facial expressions I didn't know that I had (this was also the case with my mom and grandma who agreed to try the tea with me, even though they are not diabetic).  After having a cup of Bitter Black Leaf tea, I went back and drank the bitter melon tea for old times sake and it practically tasted like Kool-Aid.  LOL  It wasn't that sweet, but I realized that it wasn't as bitter as I thought compared to this tea.

I have two bags of the tea. I purchased 500g for about $15.00 USD

 This is before I put the tea in the water.

 The tea is brewing in the hot water.

When the tea was done, it unraveled (which I thought was very neat). So, while I thought the tea was just a dried piece of stick, it was actually a real bitter black leaf. In the picture above, you can see how the leave unfolded as it was brewing.

Overall Opinion:

Taste: EXTREMELY bitter.  This leaf has earned its name. 5 out of 5 for bitterness factor

Cool Factor: This tea gets a 5 out of 5 for cool factor. This is a rating I'm creating just for this tea because of how neat it is to watch the leaf unfold while it's brewing.  This is the number one reason why I'll taste the tea again.

Health Claim: Because I was in China and the translations were not always the best, I am not exactly sure HOW this tea helps diabetics and what part of the body it targets.  I'll keep trying to find an answer. So, for now there is no score.

Ability to Purchase: I have to give this tea a score of 1 out of 5 because I have not seen this tea in America.  You can get Bitter Melon tea online, but I'll have to check with the nearest Chinatown to see how accessible this tea is for us in America. I'm glad that I have about a 3 year supply of it. I was told that I could use each leaf three times.

My quest continues...
up next, a tea (or root) that I bought in the Caribbean.  I haven't gotten the courage to try it yet because it takes "organic" to a whole different place.  But I will try it in the coming months. I looked at it 2 weeks ago and it's growing out the bag.  See picture below.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about a thing growing without water for several months, but I'll try it anyone in due time.   :-)