Saturday, November 4, 2023

Diabetes Awareness Month - Two Messages

It has been awhile since I last blogged, and in the year (and a couple months) a lot has happened!   Reviving the blog during diabetes awareness month in order to spread awareness (of course!) but continue to share my growth, hiccups and life changes along the way.  

As many people know, I started this blog just after diagnosis in 2009. I was freshly out of high school by a year, and was in between stages of my life - High school and Post Secondary.  I knew that life was going to be different after that diagnosis. I knew no longer could I eat without a thought (how many carbs, what will this do to my blood sugar, did I bolus correctly?) and that once seemingly simple things wouldn’t be as simple anymore. 

Flash forward 13 years later, and here we are.  In this time, not once can I think of when diabetes did not allow me, instead it sometimes acted as a motivation to press on anyways. Don’t get me wrong, diabetes made sure it provided enough challenges for me along the way, but I can confidently say I have not let it discourage me. 

Since last blogging, I have gotten pregnant, had a successful and mainly uneventful pregnancy and had another healthy baby boy.  Now as a busy mom of two boys now, currently on maternity leave with one in school and one depending on me night and day, diabetes sometimes takes a back seat. Never enough to worry me, but there are times I forget to bolus, that’s for sure! 

I guess for diabetes awareness month, my two messages are short and sweet (no pun intended!). First, be aware of the signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  Common symptoms are frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme thirst and weight loss. 

Second, if you are diagnosed with diabetes or someone you love is diagnosed with diabetes, know that despite challenges, it is possible to do all things you set your heart on.   

Hopefully, I’ll blog sooner than later again, but in the meantime, I’ll be over here making school lunches, changing diapers, and trying to remember to bolus. 


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Curious Minds

For all of my life, I’ve spent time around children.  When I was old enough to babysit I began to watching the neighbourhood kids. Word spread and I began watching family friends of friends children.    I also worked a short time at a daycare. Eventually when I moved away from home in 2009, it wasn’t long before I was once again finding babysitting jobs across my new city. It was honestly a great side job while in post secondary and I was able to make enough for that to be my income for all the fun stuff you spend your money on in University (i.e groceries, vodka cranberries and clothes from the mall).  I began nannying shortly after graduation for a couple years until I was able to settle into a career (that is not child care related).  

Since I was diagnosed in 2009, it became important to learn how to communicate my diabetes to children.   Diabetes can be complicated to explain even to adults because most adults believe they already know what diabetes is.    You can spend a lot of time trying to explain the differences of type 1 & type 2 to an adult.    But, with children you may be their first impression of what diabetes is.  

The obvious explanations come with explaining how an insulin pump works. Depending on age, I often described this as a machine that gives me medicine.  Sometimes they will be curious where the tubing goes, how it connects or what the screen looks like.  Which I’m always happy to explain.  

For CGM, I explain this as something that checks how I am doing, although I didn’t wear CGM often back then. There were times I did have to finger poke while babysitting which was always eye catching to children, beeping, blood and flashing numbers.      

Overall explaining my diabetes just meant that I had to tell my machine what I was eating, I had to keep an eye on how I was doing and sometimes I had to drink a juice box.   It wasn’t overly complicated and I was more than happy to answer their curious questions.  I figured if I set them up with good diabetes education now, they’d be less likely to ask a type 1 if they had the bad kind of diabetes in the future!  

Now here we are with a child of my own, a child who asks a lot of questions about a lot of topics,  but has figured out my diabetes and what it means quite well.   He knows mommy wears a pump and a “smoke detector” (my sensor) and that juice boxes and rocket candies are mommy’s for her diabetes.   So much so that anytime he sees rocket candies he gives them to me.  

As he gets older I know he will have more questions, but allowing him to explore and understand is important.  He’s gentle when he is looking at my pump, and he is considerate when he knows that open juice box is for me.   For a toddler, it’s quite remarkable how understanding they truly can be when you explain and teach them so.  

Sometimes we don’t give children enough credit for what they can understand.  I’ve learned that children are incredibly compassionate.  All of the children that I have taken care of have shown me this.    I’ve learned that they can be helpful, and curious.  Some of the best learning conversations about diabetes has been with the children I have watched.  

I am curious now, how do you explain type 1 diabetes to your children or those in your life?  

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

I am Capable

It’s been literally years since I last wrote, but at the same time, the last two years feel like they could be summed up in one word, strange.  The pandemic and the repercussions of such lasted much longer than anyone could have predicted and while the world is possibly settling into place again, the lingering effects are still there. 

While we both work from home, the limitations on travel during the last couple years had us being quite creative with things to do more locally. Especially when you have a toddler because there is only so much entertainment inside the four walls of your home.   We took a big family trip together to California in the spring which was much needed and appreciated as prior to the pandemic, Mike and I travelled quite often.  To be able to now travel with our son is quite fun, albeit challenging sometimes!   

Diabetes wise, I feel like I’ve been on a rollercoaster, not necessarily the blood sugar rollercoaster but the emotional side of living with type 1 diabetes.  Of course we know it can be challenging at times, but it also takes a considerable amount of focus when you’re trying to achieve A1C goals or better time in range. Truly it can be hard to find the time to do a proper site change or pre bolus sometimes. 

I find that I have blips of focus and other times I realize I haven’t paid attention to my diabetes at all.  Often I’ll find myself laying in bed thinking, did I do enough to take care of myself today?  Because truth is taking care of myself means also taking care of my family, you know so I can truly show up for them everyday.  

This is the emotional rollercoaster part, because while trying to balance life and diabetes, comes sacrifices, forgetfulness and self doubt.   It’s a tangled mess that leaves you feeling like you could have done more, but how.  

This is diabetes though, and I remind myself that this was how diabetes showed up in college, university, my wedding, and pregnancy and a pandemic. Unpredictable, emotional and at times all encompassing.    It’s part of living with diabetes , the good, bad and ugly.  But we figure it out, we figure it out because we are resilient (not perfect) but capable, oh so capable.  And I know this because I’ve proven it time and time again.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Ways to Support

Well, this has been quite the month!  We’ve spent almost the entire month isolated. Since Mike works from home, not a whole lot is different on the home front, but I do miss my routine very much!    We try to get out for walks when we can, because of course Cola also needs to go outside but part of me realizes that soon that could be cut short as the measures get more and more severe - plus the trails and sidewalks were starting to look like the mall with all the people that have no place to go but outside. 

Living with type 1 diabetes, I realize I may be more at risk. To be honest my blood sugars haven’t been optimal because Nixon keeps me incredibly busy (we have an early mover since six months and he’s go go go!) and since my fitness has drastically gone down since we can’t go to our baby and mama classes - it’s just been a bit of a struggle bus over here. Not to mention the extra snacks from being near the fridge all day. 

Since we are all practicing social distancing (or at least we should be!) I wanted to chart out a couple things you can do for the type 1 in your life during this time because to be honest while staying home may sound like a good opportunity to catch up on new t.v shows or rest (unless you’re mom...) a lot of people living with autoimmune diseases are feeling a bit on the edge during this time. 

  1. It’s possible that the type 1 in your life has had delayed or cancelled appointments from their doctors or nurses at the diabetes education centre. While they may have the resources online, they may be struggling with management.  Of course, don’t give them medical advice, but check in with them to see how they’re doing (both physically & mentally) and assist them (remotely) in finding alternatives for care.
  2. It’s likely during this time of self isolation they will need to go to the pharmacy to pick up supplies such as insulin, test strips, sensors etc. Thankfully pharmacies will stay open (of course!) but having them go may put them at risk, instead you can assist them by suggesting alternatives like delivery or if you’re well enough picking up and dropping off their prescriptions on their porch.  Of course this is ultimately up to them and what you feel comfortable doing, but what I’ve found is a lot of people do not realize the amount of delivery options out there for things like medicine, supplies and groceries.                
  3. Grocery stores are insane right now. We’ve been doing online ordering and drive up pick up. It means we don’t have to interact wit any other humans outside of our car!  As a type 1 we need low supplies whether that’s juice boxes, fruit snacks, skittles etc.  I don’t believe these things are high in demand for others, but when we run out of low supplies, going to the grocery store just to pick up fruit snacks may feel a bit silly.  Instead, if you’re heading out to get groceries or making an order, check in to see if you can add a low supply to your list to once again porch delivery drop off.   I think this is a good idea for anyone that is living in close proximity. The less people going to the stores, the better!

Thankfully, I’m not self isolating alone and have Mike to help me.  But there are type 1s out there who are home alone and could use the extra support during a time of uncertainty.   I realize how important it is to at least attempt to keep our diabetes in check despite battling stress, and other entities that come with staying home (possibly child care, work etc.) however, sometimes this is difficult and can seem like an endless pull.   Finding ways to support each other during this will be what helps us keep positive.  


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Shifting my Perspective

I must admit I didn’t realize the impact this COVID-19 was going to have on this world and by world I mean literally every thing from travel plans (our Disney trip...) to groceries, right down to general human contact.  I was at Shoppers Drugmart earlier in the week to get a few things and didn’t stock pile on anything like toilet paper or snacks (okay, I did buy some Cadbury eggs, but they’re long gone).  I didn’t think about getting more insulin or juice boxes and maybe I should have? I don’t know. 

I don’t usually get anxious about this type of stuff. By “this type of stuff” I mean things that may greatly effect my diabetes.  I don’t know why I’m not a worry wart about it because I literally worry about EVERYTHING else but I guess that’s how I keep my cool about living with type 1 diabetes.  

When people say “compromised immune systems” I literally don’t think about myself in that group even though technically I am.  I am “the people” that are at risk I guess, and with everything slowly shutting down maybe I need to sprinkle a little worry into myself so that I am prepared as a type 1 to hunker down. 

Yesterday I looked into our pantry after hearing and seeing the lines that were pouring out of our local places like Costco and Walmart. We have pasta, we have rice, but my stash of fruit snacks for low blood sugars is getting low. Wait, I may need those. I do need those.   Of course I have run low on low supplies before, but it wasn’t a worry about whether or not I’d be able to get more.  I’m sure all the mamas are loading up on fruit snacks along with the toilet paper, so will fruit snacks be hard to find soon too?  Who knows. 

The next thing I did was look in the fridge to see how much insulin I had left. A few vials and because of the restrictions on how many vials insurance will cover during a certain period (I called) I cannot stock up.  So there was another little moment of, “oh sh*t”.      

It’s not really bothering me that I am “at risk” because with type 1 diabetes I am on the top of many lists, but what began to worry me was would I have enough supplies if things were to shut down, or become sparse.  

We often ‘joke’ about if diabetics would survive the apocalypse, after all we are so dependent on our supplies and medications and while this isn’t an apocalypse, it really shifted my mind into a place I’ve never actually felt.   A place where I truly realized my dependence on things despite always feeling at ease.  

I know access to these things like insulin and food has been something I have taken for granted when for many people around the world this is their everyday reality despite what’s happening in the world.  It has given me an opportunity to step back and realize how fortunate I am. 

Hopefully in this chaotic time we can also take time to appreciate all that we have and know that nothing is guaranteed.  Whenever the hysteria settles, I’ll be thinking of my health in a different light.  

Friday, March 13, 2020

Eleven: Friday the 13th 2009 vs. Friday the 13th 2020

Friday the 13th, it’s a familiar day, because it was Friday, March 13th 2009 when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. 

Most people know my diagnosis story, I’ve been blogging about it for eleven years. The eerie part has been that it was a Friday the 13th.  The emergency rooms were full of craziness, which is likely what it’s like right now eleven years later during this pandemic.     As Mike joked yesterday, “world is shut down, just like your pancreas.”   Hopefully the world can get back on its feet just like I did.  
Gift from Mike & Nixon 

To add some positivity to what seems like a daunting Friday the 13th.  I wanted to highlight three things that I am grateful for having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.   Seems wild to see the positive in something that can be stressful, taxing and difficult - but I always try to find the good.  

  1. Friendships Made 
 I am so incredibly lucky that my diagnosis introduced me to people (globally) that I would have not met otherwise.  Friends that I can vent to, laugh with and know they they truly understand. I’m so thankful for every single one of them. 

  1. Timing of Technology
I’m very familiar with the technologies or lack there of before I was diagnosed. Never did I have to boil syringes to reuse them like my Great Grandpa did, or did I have to pee on a stick and wait for the results to know what my blood sugar was.  The technology has surely progressed in the past eleven years ten fold and I’m grateful for that. 

  1. Empowerment & Growth of Who I Am
I’m not sure where I would be today had I not been diagnosed. I am not sure what my profession would be, if I would have found an outlet for my hobbies like writing,  or if I would have travelled as much as I have been lucky to do so.  What I do know, is who I am today is greatly shaped by type 1 diabetes.  I admit that I have really thrown myself into these opportunities (I realize that you don’t get to just travel the world as soon as you’re diagnosed) but having a story to tell and the confidence in my craft of writing, public speaking and leadership has allowed me to pursue these opportunities. Type 1 diabetes has empowered me to show that I can do whatever I set my heart on, with hard work  (pregnancy for example) it is possible.  

Thank you to all my friends & family for being there for me for the literal and metaphorical highs and lows.  


Thursday, March 12, 2020

A Story to Tell: Year One with Type One and Twas My Type of Christmas

Books can be great tools for discussing type 1 diabetes with little ones and I don’t think it’s ever too early to start.  

Nixon won’t know any different about his mom having diabetes, the checking, juice boxes, test strips and tubing will be the norm to him as he sees me navigate type 1 diabetes.  What I’ll teach Nixon - with the help of these books Year One with Type One and Twas My Type of Christmas is that there are many others of all ages out there that live with type 1 diabetes. 

Thanks to author and diabetes dad, Mike Suarez for sending us two of his books Year One with Type One and Twas My Type of Christmas. These two stories that are so wonderfully written both had me smiling and tearing up as he tells the 
story of his son’s diagnosis through his child’s eyes.

You can find these stories on Amazon here: