Hey everyone, I'm back from Ecuador (after a month long trip).  It was amazing and I'm posting this here since my wife and I did some volunteer work while down there.  We tested about 600 locals in a rural village area for diabetes.

We then spent about 3 weeks working in a town near Portoviejo, Visquije (which is right near the "canton" Santa Ana).  I worked with the local doctor in very rural areas and my wife worked with the assisting nurse.  I was able to see a wide variety of ailments that are not as common back in the US.  I am trained in nutrition so I gave lessons about nutrition and diabetes to different groups.  There were some really strange misconceptions down there.  One of the strangest was that insulin causes eye problems.  I figure they thought this because low blood sugar sometimes messes with my vision, so that's how I explained it.  Has anyone heard of anything else like this?  I was surprised that this misconception was so widespread.

Anyway, the trip definitely helped me develop my medical spanish speaking skills, so it will help me a great deal in the future.  We provided advice to those with concerning blood sugar levels and referred the diabetics to the medical center where we were working.  There were probably about 30 out of the 600 walking around with blood sugars over 500.  Some knew they were diabetic but couldn't afford a meter or medication, others had no idea they had it.  Be grateful for the health care and priveleges we have here in developed nations!

So, just wanted to say hi and tell everyone what I've been up to all of those who have missed me.  :)


Yay, Matt's back :) These are just the kinds of posts that have been missing from Juvenation. Its very nice to see you're back on and I, most likely along with many others, look forward to your posts. There haven't been enough science-references lately.

Sounds like you and your wife enjoyed an inredible opportunity in Ecuador. I'm glad you got that chance to make such a difference for so many people; nicely done, both of you, very nice job.

- Alyssa

We did miss you

that sounds like a nice way to spend vacation. helping people is supposed to make you feel good. more details please. especially if they are interesting.

Hi Mad Evans,it is good you are back on Juvenation.Wonderful that you and your wife helped so many.What will happen to the ones that can not afford help? this must be hard to see.It is good that you left them with much needed education on d.

Ah Mad! We missed you!

I'm glad that you are back and glad that you had such a fruitful trip! Keep doing this work, it is a beautiful thing.

Since pictures speak 1,000 words, I'll leave the details to them.  Enjoy.

The focus was type 2 diabetes since I have a degree in nutrition and my wife is a nurse, but we always ensured that they knew the difference between type 1 and type 2 (a HUGE pet peeve of us all, I'm sure).  We also tried to dispel any incorrect beliefs about diabetes, since there were many.  Everyone was really excited to get free blood glucose tests, as you can see.  Some of the people in the more rural areas would insist on giving us loads of fruit (bananas, oranges, mangos) to show their appreciation.  The fruit there is delicious, by the way, so we couldn't refuse... hahaha.  They may be living in very poor areas, but they are happier than many of my friends back here in the US.

Whew.  Great memories.  Oh, and by the way, by some freak chance of luck there was another type 1 diabetic volunteering there too - I couldn't have done it without her since she is actually a better spanish speaker than I am.  How awesome is that?  By some stroke of luck it all worked out like we planned it.  En Sudamerica, todo es posible pero nada es seguro.  We're lucky we landed on the 'everything is possible' side of things.

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Ah Mad! We missed you! I'm glad that you are back and glad that you had such a fruitful trip! Keep doing this work, it is a beautiful thing.




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Hi Mad Evans, it is good you are back on Juvenation.



[quote user="Alyssa"]

We did miss you


Thanks.  :)  Very nice of all of you.

And Meme, the ones with very high blood sugars and no testing supplies suffer the same consequences as an uncontrolled diabetic here in the states.  The doubly hard hurdle to jump is the fact that the philosophy there is just different.  Someone who is diabetic - or "has the sugar" as they like to call it - usually suscribed to the idea that "it's fate.  nothing i can do will change my fate."  So trying to tell them that "Diabetes is not a death sentence, you can avoid to terrible consequences of diabetes if you take action and control your destiny" in more cases than not doesn't do any good.  But, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't try.  The doctor tried his best to help me explain this, but sometimes our efforts almost seemed futile.  Especially since the family we were living with were getting lectures on what they should eat - what they had to eat in the case of one of the aunts who had really high blood sugars - but still served us the same heaping portions of rice and chicken while rarely serving the veggies and fruits they all have incredible access to.  So, that's the depressing story of type 2 diabetes in hispanic nations... and don't even get me started on type 2 in America.  Whew... that's a whole different ball game.  Instead of too much rice it's too much fast food.  Okay.  I'll stop now.  :)

These pictures do speak,thank you for sharing.

These pictures make me feel thanful !

Very cool pictures, Matt. But heck, I'm just still excited that you're back! Haha Juvenation isn't the same without your posts; aside from the medical/experience side, how the heck was Ecuador? That had to have been cool.

Hi Mad,is there one book that stands out on nutrition for type1 that I could buy ?

[quote user="Alyssa"]

how the heck was Ecuador? That had to have been cool.


It was amazing.  While I was tooting my own horn, I may have failed to mention that my wife and I got to visit the galapagos islands and a beautiful beach town on the mainland called Canoa.  We tried to do a bit of surfing, but I only stood up once or twice... still fun though!  Everybody down there was very, very nice and we never had anyone yell "you miserable americans, go back to your country" like when I was in Peru one time.  Hahah.

[quote user="meme"]

Hi Mad,is there one book that stands out on nutrition for type1 that I could buy ?


I really can't think of one book specifically on nutrition, but there are some GREAT books out there that touch on all of the aspects of diabetes.  Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of it right now... but, I'll try to find it and get back to you.  You just need to find out how different foods affect your sugar (e.g. how fast you spike with certain foods and how much insulin you need depending on the amount of carbs you eat).  If I find the name of the book that was most helpful to me, I'll definitely let you know.

If I don't... Hound me about it.  It's really a great book with tips from things as broad as what to eat to whether or not you should be drinking alcohol to the emotional factors of T1.

Thank you Mad,sounds like a good book.If you ever come across it,that would be good.Don't go out of your way looking for it.Just keep up your work.One more question,Where you sent on this trip as part of your education?It has to be one of the best ways to learn.Thanks again !

What an awesome trip!?! Combining helping people with seeing a new part of the world, amazing!  I am wondering... Was it difficult to manage your own diabetes while you were there?  What was your refrigeration situation like?  Is that a strange question?


I am so glad you are back I really enjoyed checking out your pics. And how amazing it was for you to visit and help people that don't necessarily get that kind of care down there. I can't believe people were walking around with BS of 500-600 and didn't know and even worse knew but, could not afford to get test strips or their meds. I wonder if the International Diabetes Federation goes down there to give people insulin and meters? Do you know?

This is unacceptable that people have to live this way. We even have americans living like this too. And we are supposed to be the richest country in the world. Its terrible.


What an awesome experience for you. I was in Equador 20 years ago (for a High School Spanish Club trip) and it was an amazing country.

Thanks for your photos, and for sharing. I'm glad that you and your wife were able to connect and teach. Fabulous stuff! Loved the photos too!


This is such a cool experience!  I went to Ecuador when I was a little kid.  Did you do this volunteering through a company or volunteer foundation?

 Hey heather it was actually through a volunteering foundation.  but for the most part we planned a lot of it on our own.  it's hard to go wrong when you're working with such nice and friendly people down there.y

That's so cool!  I would love to do something like that.